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Level 2 (XP: 18/20)
Ace (@Yankee), Frisk (@Majoras End), Prisoner (@XoXKieroBombXoX)
Edinburgh MagicaPolis - Noumenon

Wonder Red hadn't meant to interrupt the attacks his teammates were preparing. He leapt from the 27th floor without much thought further ahead. The weight of his morphs meant he met the angel sooner, and of course once his thrusters kicked on, any hope for the rest catching up were dashed. At least there was an eventual end to the fall; Artemis was pancaked against the marble floor of the library's first story, sandwiched between the hard ground and the hard-light knuckles of Red's Unite Hand. When they finally touched down, Wonder Red clenched his teeth and jammed his fist harder down, one last sharp 'crrnch!' to finish the maneuver, utilizing the momentum to spring away, landing with surprising grace with the others. He kept the morph formed for the moment, in case the monster wasn't truly dealt with.

Their newest companion, Albedo, followed a hunch in regards to it, slicing the main pod open to reveal... "Sierra?!" Red shared the shock Big Band displayed, maybe moreso considering that the pod housing the Pokémon trainer had been Wonder Red's target. Even if she was still alive in there, the damage he may have caused in his attack could have left her with more injuries than it seemed, especially from the small glimpse they all got of her.

Wonder Red tried to free Sierra from the pod, Unite Hand poised to pluck her through the slash, only for Artemis to reawaken, thrashing free from its quick made bonds and making its counter attack. Quickly he jumped back, de-morphing the citizens from the floor this fight began on. Artemis's pattern of energy attacks started up again - the angel wounded enough that it couldn't fight to the potential it had shown before - but while the new burst wouldn't be much problem for Wonder Red and the others, the various non-combatant civilians were in a tough spot.

"Everyone!" Red addressed the crowd of people he had just used for his Morphs, corralling them into a tighter grouping. Hopefully the lack of Wonder Masks didn't lead to any complications. He wasn't quite sure how Galeem's hold over the world affected the Morphs' capabilities. "Stay close to me, I'll get you out of here safely!"

Wonder Red moved for the library's entrance. Obviously the group of citizens didn't have the training a Wonderful One did, meaning he had to pay particular attention to keeping them all in formation. Essentially gathered like a pack of penguins, with Wonder Red in the (rough) center, Red supplemented their lack of training with his exemplary knowledge. "Forward ten paces! Duck! Hold... run left... now!" Envisioning the whole group as a larger extension of himself, Wonder Red conducted them accordingly, managing to avoid the various laser blasts as they came. If the pods were any more aggressive there wouldn't have been a chance for Red to get everyone out without injury. As things stood, however, he managed. It was slow but steady, making decent pace until they were close enough to the exit.

"Okay everyone, make a break for it!" Wonder Red urged them all ahead, on enough of the fringe of danger for them to make the run without fear. He stayed on the edge of the battle, as anxious as it made him to leave his team to fend for themselves for a bit, to make sure everyone managed to get out. The instant that the last of them reached the doors Red turned around and rushed back into the fray.

The return trip was a lot faster than the trek to safety, seeing as Wonder Red didn't have anyone to babysit, for lack of a better word. "Detective Band," Red shouted to the brass bruiser as he rejoined the rest yet again, "we have to run interference. Draw the enemy's attention so that Albedo and Ace Cadet can extricate Sierra from inside it!" Seeing as Big Band was more of a brawler than a slasher, and that Red using Unite Sword could very well cleave right through Sierra along with the angel, he figured it best to leave the duty to the others.

To this end Wonder Red duked to the right, ducking and dodging the flurry of lasers, towards a bookcase that hadn't gotten destroyed in the fall. He re-summoned his Striker, in turn summoning another set of Hollows, using them all to build Unite Hand. Taking quick aim, Wonder Red punched the bookcase, sending it flying through the air. It struck one of the turret pods, in turn sending both projectiles straight into Artemis, hopefully disrupting whatever it was preparing to do, with Big Band's (supposed) contribution.
773 Words
+2 EXP

Level Up!

Level 2 (XP: 17/20)
Ace (@Yankee), Frisk (@Majoras End), Prisoner (@XoXKieroBombXoX)
Edinburgh MagicaPolis - Noumenon

On paper it didn't make sense. A huge, room-shredding beam of energy that swept away bookcases and tore through the walls, yet once Wonder Red's sword Morph got in its path, it was mirrored like it was nothing. Didn't even push Wonder Red back, the diminutive hero standing firm. The real answer was a long string of complicated, possibly made-up science whatnot, but like any Wonderful One, Wonder Red had his own answer:

The Wonderful One-Double-Oh always beat out the impossible.

Red didn't rest on his laurels. Once Artemis began to fall he rushed forward, Unite Sword still formed, and leapt off the platform. The weight of the morph allowed him to fall a bit faster than he normally would, and with a swing Red aimed the point downwards, quite literally cutting through the air to increase his speed. He caught up to the others during their collective freefall.

"Time to finish this, team!" Red pulled back, leveling the sword with the angelic monster below them, and thrust down. The sword's size gave him the reach needed to pierce straight through Artemis's pod. Once done Red pulled the sword back out, de-morphing it. For the briefest of moments - maybe less than a second - the civilians, children, and library workers Red had fixed to save were in the air along with them. Their fall only lasted for as long as it took Wonder Red to re-morph them, coalescing into another instance of his bright red Unite Hand.

"Wondeeeeeeerrrr PUNCH!!"

The giant fist slammed into Artemis's main body, though instead of sending it further away, the oversized jet boosters present on the much larger Unite Hand kicked on. With the afterburn shooting them even faster downwards than terminal velocity would take them, Artemis had a date with the ground floor very soon, Red's Wonder Punch delivering a truly crushing blow.
319 Words
+1 EXP
Basic Braining

Sector 5 Suoh - The Otherlobe
Peach, Raz’s @Truthhurts22, Roxas’ @Double, Sakura’s @Zoey Boey
Word Count: 6648 (+7)

Through the miracle of teleportation, the prospective recruits found themselves whisked away from the Musubi’s parking lot, all the way down Main Street, and into the headquarters of Midgar’s greatest military force in three blinks of an eye. They wound up in a red-tinted lobby that constituted the Otherlobe’s reception area, a two-dimension facsimile of the building’s iconic brain perched behind the front desk. “And here we are,” Luka announced cheerfully. “I’ve already gotten in touch with Morceau using Brain Talk, and he’s rolling out the welcome mat, so be sure to thank him later. A grader has been called in to oversee your crash course through Psych-OSF 101. A member of his platoon is coming by to watch as well.”

”Let’s hope that the welcome mat doesn’t involve minefields and missile strikes this time,” Raz commented as he surveyed the reddened Motherlobe lobby. It was still really weird how almost-normal things were. ”Oh, who am I kidding? Knowing Coach it’ll probably be a… missile field, or a mine strike. Or both.”

Peach didn’t know any Morceau, but she felt indebted all right. Was it really this easy? “If we’re thanking anybody we ought to thank you, Luka! We barely know you, but you’re so willing to help.”

Sakura nodded eagerly. ”Yeah! Thanks a million.”

“Oh, it’s nothing.” The young man rubbed his head, a little bashful. “I just think everyone with a dream ought to be given a fair chance. But remember, I only got you here. What happens next is up to you.” He gestured in the direction of the front desk. “Good luck.”

With that he disappeared in a blue flash, leaving the three to approach the receptionist. “So, you’re the volunteers. Welcome to the Otherlobe.” Her attention rested on Raz. “You must be the Former that Morceau mentioned. A member of the Psychonauts who wasn’t around for the union with OSF, that is. Makes sense, it’s not every day we get new trainees at such a late hour. As for you two…” she squinted at Peach and Sakura. “I don’t know what makes you so exceptional, but you’re vouched for, too. Just make sure you don’t reflect badly on those who putting their faith in you. Here.” The woman passed out some forms. “Fill these out. Nobody’s an exception to the rules, after all.”

At first glance the forms seemed pretty normal. Name, age, birthdate, place of origin, et cetera. When she came to the box labeled ‘Power’ Peach got stuck for a moment. It sounded like it expected only one, which probably referred to whatever power she’d gotten from the soldier she’d fused with. Unfortunately, the princess didn’t know the name for it, or even the totality of her new abilities. She’d barely even tried it out. “Uh…” she muttered, wracking her brain. After a moment she just wrote equipment, then pushed on. The rest of the pages seemed to be some sort of in-depth personality test, but the questions involved all sorts of vague, context-devoid hypotheticals with inflexible answers. Though Peach couldn’t call herself an expert, it felt pretty unscientific and arbitrary, but she dutifully filled them out nonetheless.

Sakura caught herself leaning over to see what Raz was writing down. ”What the heck are these questions?” She muttered as she filled out the many hypotheticals. For her power, she wrote ‘fireballs, strong, karate, and telekinesis’ cramming it all into the little box.

”Beats me.” Raz, for his form, opted to put down ‘Psi-Blast’ for the Power section. It was the one he first learned when he started his journey to become a Psychonaut. It felt right. ”This form wasn’t part of the Psychonauts. I guess… since the OSF is pretty team-based, the personality stuff is to pair up similar recruits?”

After a few minutes, the grader arrived. Crenshaw appeared from one of the lobby elevators. Though he wore a glum expression, perhaps as a result of being pulled away from evening plans, he carried himself with a professional and serious air. With him came a familiar face to Raz, hardly a surprise if he put two and two together: Lili. Rather than greet him in her typical manner, though, she stared at him with a mix of fear and uncertainty almost like despair in her Galeem-free eyes, as if desperate for his help. He smiled at her, restrained and concerned, trying to give off vibes of understanding. He was only now realizing how scary of a situation Lili was in, and he was the one to thrust her into it with no help. He can make up for lost time… hopefully.

“Finished with your forms?” Crenshaw asked. The receptionist put them into a machine, and the information within got pulled into Psynet, then into the mind of Crenshaw himself. “Cadet Aquato, Cadet Kasugano, and Cadet…Toadstool. Hm…my sympathies. Follow me.”

Thankfully, the image painted in Raz’ mind by the phrase ‘Fresh Meat Circus’ did not represent the actual training grounds. It did take the form of a big, cylindrical room with a domed top, but it was a rather brutalistic affair of concrete and metal full of pipes, shafts, and cables, all gray and black. Though a big room, considering the scale of Psych-OSF, Peach couldn’t help but wonder if this was it. Arranged in a big circle around the open area in the center were a variety of instruments that the princess assumed would be the trio’s tests.

“...So before any full psychiatric evaluations take place, we’re going to get an idea of what you can do,” Crenshaw was saying. “Normally this would allow us to determine how many weeks, months, or years of training are needed to bring you up to par, but after seeing your referrals I’ve sort of got my hopes up. If your results exceed expectations, you’ll be set. This’ll also let us know if you’re candidates for any additional programs like BIAS. Keep in mind that you can use whatever powers you’ve got for these tests. Ingenuity is almost as important as raw power. Over here.”

The first test appeared to be a standard high striker, the sort one might find at a carnival. A big. well-worn red button sat beneath a tall vertical scale made to look like a spinal cord, and a few dozen feet up a big brain sat at the very top. “A simple test of strength,” Crenshaw stated, levitating a clipboard. “Hit it as hard as you’ve got, with whatever you’ve got.”

Sakura grimaced good-naturedly at the grotesque theming of the carnival button. She couldn’t help but be excited by this first test. She felt like she was gonna do pretty good on it. ”I guess I’ll go first.” She said confidently, zipping up her jacket and making sure her headband was on nice and tight. Approaching the button, she observed it carefully. The angle wasn’t so good for some of her stronger attacks. With a carefree shrug, she bounced on her feet for a few moments before stepping in. One leg crossed behind the other and then her front leg shot out with honed technique. Sakura straight kicked the button as hard as she could. ”Sore!” Her foot snapped back to the ground and she eagerly watched the scale.

The spark-shaped marker puck shot up the spinal column like a rocket, lighting up fans of blue and red nerves like Christmas lights as it climbed, though like all such carnival games it was a lot heavier than it looked. It fell short of the brain at the top, but it still left a dazzling display for the brief moment before the puck began to fall. Still, her efforts managed to get a raised eyebrow from Crenshaw, and given his solemn air that must be saying something. “Impressive physical strength,” he murmured, marking the second sheet on his clipboard. “Few Scarlet Guardians fight hand-to-hand. Some see it as old-fashioned, but if it ain’t broke…” Sakura could fill in the rest.

Letting Sakura and Peach show their stuff first, Raz sidestepped over to Lili while Crenshaw was occupied with the tests. ”Hey, Lili?” He put a hand on her shoulder. ”I wanted to say sorry about earlier. I sorta, kinda, left you to deal with this huge thing on your own. How are you, uh, holding up..?”

His friend had been waiting for him to ask. “Not great,” she admitted, her voice just a little tremulous. “I’ve been thinking about…well, everything. It’s all a lie, everything, but I believed it.” Lili clenched her teeth, staring at the floor. “The power it takes to do something like that…I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. But you know what else?” Her brows furrowed as she glanced at Raz. “It makes me mad. I can’t just take it lying down. We can’t. There’s got to be something, something we can do…”

”There is!” Raz kept his voice down so he didn’t alert Crenshaw, though since he was a psychic he might already be aware. Whatever. ”That’s what I’ve been up to before I got here. Me, and Peach and Sakura, we’re all part of a group that’s trying to free everyone and stop whatever is doing it. You should come with!”

That left Lili blinking in confusion. “If that’s the case, why are you here…?” she whispered.

With Raz distracted by Lili, Peach stepped up next. Sakura’s mighty blow would be a tough act to follow, and the princess knew she didn’t possess that kind of strength. From the beginning, however, she’d kept in mind what the grader said about powers. So when she stepped up to bat, Peach thought for a moment, then reached into her hammerspace arsenal. Unbeknownst to her, this existing power synergized with her new one, and to her slight surprise her Scatterboom manifested in crystalline form. Hefting the heavier-than-usual gun, she glanced at Crenshaw to see if he’d disallow its use, but he just watched in silence, totally impassive. Without further ado Peach sauntered on up, pressed her Scatterboom’s barrel to the button, and pulled the trigger. The ensuing explosion echoed through the chamber, and a great plume of gunfire gave way to enough smoke to hide the base of the high striker completely. From the haze the puck suddenly appeared, shooting up among the bright nerves to roughly the same height that Sakura’s kick propelled it to. Maybe even higher! Not like she’d get to deliver a point-blank shot as often as a strong kick, but still, it assuaged Peach’s doubts somewhat. Sakura forced out a clap for Peach’s benefit, but she found herself a little annoyed.

“Hm.” Crenshaw blinked at her. “Your form said your power was ‘Equipment’, but it looks more like Materialization. Maybe even Genesis, if you’re able to make working weapons. Not bad.”

Finally, Raz was up to bat. He shot Lili a quick, ”I’ll tell you later,” before taking his spot back with the rest. He took a moment to consider the bell, eyes trailing from the button allllll the way up to the brain bell. ”I think I remember when Mom and Dad got one of these for our performances. Not exactly this but the whole ‘hammer-and-bell’ thing. And if I remember right, it’s less about power and more…” Raz smirked. ”Sakura! Gimme a big boost!” Utilizing the superior raw strength of his teammate, Raz rocketed into the air, the peak of his launch reaching just slightly higher than the bell. Once the arc turned into a fall, he materialized his Levball and immediately slammed down, dropping even faster than he rose. Like a miniature meteor Raz and his Levball smashed into the button at full speed!

And then springboarded sideways, facefirst into a solid concrete pillar, having hit the button at a wonky angle. ”Gyaaa–hrkmphh!!” Sakura winced, covering her face and peeking from behind her fingers.

Crenshaw kept his eyes on Raz just long enough to make sure that the boy was okay, then glanced at the puck on the high striker as it neared its zenith. Unfortunately, despite borrowing an ally’s strength and hurting himself in the process, Raz didn’t get anywhere near as high a score as the others. Light weight propelled mostly by gravity just didn’t measure up to honed muscle or high-power ballistics. “This isn’t a test where you’re supposed to get perfect marks, so don’t worry too much if you score lowly in one area or another” the grader mentioned. “What’s important is giving an accurate reading of your abilities. Your own abilities, to be specific.” He shot an weary look not just at Raz but at Sakura for helping him. The street fighter laughed apologetically and shrugged.

With the first test done, Crenshaw rotated the team to the second. Visualizing the room’s floorplan as a giant clock, Peach supposed they’d moved from one o’ clock to two, going clockwise. This time she didn’t see any machinery; instead, striped tape marked out a large, roughly square area on the floor. A random assortment of objects of all shapes and sizes, though mostly large, were stacked there. There were crates, chests, luggage, compressed scrap cubes, barricades, and more, including the chassis of a car. “Okay, listen up, because this one’s more complicated.” Crenshaw pointed directly across the room to the far side. “Over there’s a deposit zone just like this one, but empty. Each of you is going to have two minutes. Move as much stuff from here to there as you can. By yourself. When the time is up, you’ll get points for everything inside the zone. Understood?” He made sure to get everyone’s approval, then nodded. “Then go.”

Sakura glanced between Peach and Raz as she took a few steps forward. ”Guess I’ll go first again!” She ran over to the assorted boxes and crates and tried to think of something smart. She picked up a big crate and lifted it over her head, and then stared at another big crate until it followed her in the air. Then she jogged across the way and threw them both, one with her strength and the other with her mind, until they landed in the zone.

Sprinting back to the first square, she picked up the lighter things she could find and just chucked them to the other zone with decent enough accuracy, though a few landed short because she didn’t want to throw them too far.

Eventually though, her eyes landed on the car chassis. ”Hmm…” She ended up stuffing about four cubes in there. Big enough so that they got in each other’s way and kept each other within the chassis. She even stuffed some luggage between her teeth. Then, with a combination of elbow grease and telekinesis, she pushed the chassis and cargo across the field. It was kind of like her telekinesis put wheels on the chassis, though it still scraped against the ground a few times and Sakura had to put her back into it.

She felt the timer ticking down and ran out to the crates that had fallen short of their throw arcs earlier. She dove for it, twisted her upper body, and slapped it until it rolled into the zone. She stood up and put her hands into the air, panting happily. ”How was that! Was that good?”

As the challenge got underway Crenshaw had made his way over to the opposite side to tally up points, though he soon ended up giving the scoring zone a wide berth to make one hundred percent sure that anything flung there didn't accidentally get flung into his his cranium instead. "Good enough," he replied evenly, awarding her another round of appreciably high marks. "In the field we'd probably want to treat our cargo a little more…hm, carefully." He then climbed onto the stack. "Of course, everyone has their own way…"

Crenshaw began to concentrate. A field of orange psychic energy suddenly began to coalesce around the scoring zone. It grew brighter and noisier, causing the very air to vibrate alarmingly, until after a moment both agent and assortment suddenly warped all the way back to the start. As the light of his Transport power died down, Crenshaw calmly stepped down to usher Raz forward. "...Of doing things."

”Wow, that was cool! Raz couldn’t contain his awe at Crenshaw’s psychic demonstration. ”Is that a move I could learn here?”

The agent shook his head. “That’s my power. My new power, anyway. Every former Psychonaut has some weak powers left over from those days, but nowadays we all have something special, too.”

”...Haha, right…” Raz stepped up to the garbage zone, having already made a game plan. He didn’t have raw strength, that much was already proven, so he’d have to tackle it a different way this time.

As quick as the timer started Raz rushed to get things ready, telekinesis working in tandem with his natural dexterity to pile up three tall stacks of the medium-to-smallest pieces of junk he could, the right level of height and weight for him to be able to balance them. And the young psychic did just that! A four-way balancing act - himself on his Levitation ball, a stack of junk on both of his outstretched palms, and the third held in front of him using TK. All his circus days went into this little trick, matching speed with caution to carry the stacks over.

When he reached the second zone Raz quickly deposited everything down, taking only the briefest of moments to rub his hands, before turning back to the first zone. With not much time left, he decided to try his hand at pulling some other mid-sized pieces to him with Mental Connection until the clock ran out.

”How’d I do?!” Raz asked Crenshaw just a touch frantically once the test was over.

The grader nodded. “Not bad.” Lips pursed, he ran a hand through his hair. “Just so you guys know, I’m going to run out of ways to say ‘you did okay’ eventually. I’m not here for moral support, you know.”

As the others took the load-bearing test, Peach looked on with a consternated expression, trying to come up with a plan. No matter which way she looked at this problem, no good answer presented itself. She doubted she could carry or even lift the heavier objects, with her abilities or otherwise. It just wasn't a task she was well-suited for, but she couldn't put it off forever. When her turn arrived she did the best she could, but at the end of two minutes Peach had struggled a lot more to move a lot less than her peers. She could only wipe the sweat from her brow in silent frustration as Crenshaw graded her lackluster results, then followed him to test number three.

The three o' clock test turned out to be a trapeze-like arrangement of three climbing walls in a half-hexagon centered around a lone flagpole. The center panel appeared to be a standard climbing net of sturdy rope, while the left took the form of a zig-zag of bouncy tightropes, and the right featured two opposing walls about two feet wide that went all the way up. At the very top of the flagpole hung a detachable flag. Now this was a circus element Raz would be glad to see, but surprisingly he wasn't the only one.

"Oh, sweet!" Peach announced with a relieved smile. "Now here's something I can do!"

Crenshaw pointed his pencil up at the flag. "As you probably guessed, you need to get the flag down and attach it to the hook at the bottom. Speed is of the essence. You up first?" Peach nodded. "Then let's get started."

When given the signal Peach leaped into the air, putting her excellent jumping skill to work. She double jumped at the apex, then materialized her parasol with a skyward thrust to zip higher still. Once it unfurled the princess floated over to the net wall and grabbed on, getting a foothold to reset her jumps before going again. By repeating the process she reached the flag in mere moments, seized it, then dropped to the ground. She used her umbrella one last time to break her fall, then attached the flag to complete the task. "There!"

Sakura applauded loudly this time. ”Woo!”

Crenshaw nodded again. "Pretty mobile. Go ahead and fly the flag for the next person."

Raz pulled his helmet snug on his head and tugged his gloves in preparation for the climb. ”Here I go!” Raz kicked off with a vault into Levitation, peeling out towards the tightrope section. He pushed the Levball down as he skid under the tightropes, using it to spring straight up into the air! Using the momentum, Raz grabbed hold of the next tightrope and followed up by slingshotting himself further up, and again, and again, until he clung onto one of the top ropes.

A rock back, forth, back, and Raz swung through the air to the flagpole. In the same motion to snatch the flag he grabbed hold of the pole, sliding all the way back down to the bottom. ”Time!” He shouted as soon as he clipped the flag on the hook.

”Alright!” Sakura cheered. ”I thought these tests would be more, I dunno, psychic-y. But this is a lot of fun!” She said. Now she knew she really had to impress Crenshaw, so she once again dedicated herself to trying as hard as she can.

She dropped down into a runner’s starting position, then shot toward the two opposing walls. She was eager to try out a skill she hadn’t had a chance to demonstrate much of yet- the Launcher Jump! Sakura skid to a stop, bent down for a solid second, her body coiling and tense. With an audible burst of wind she shot upward twenty feet in a single bound, then used telekinesis to carry her into one of the opposing walls. Then she kicked off to the other wall. At that point she realized she wasn’t Chun-Li and lost her footing. ”Shimatta!” She fell back down to the bottom, landing on her feet with a thud and roll.

”Crap! I thought I could pull that off!” She said with a laugh before sprinting directly to the flagpole. She did another Launcher Jump and then clung onto the flagpole. After that she shimmied up the pole, working her core muscles. Once she was in decent enough range she reached out and used telekinesis to pluck the flag from its place at the top, bringing it back down into her hand. Then she dropped and free fell back to the ground, landing with another burst of air.

”Was that good?” Then she remembered what Crenshaw said earlier. ”Err, I mean…I don’t care if it was good? Or, I guess, just-” She stopped talking and hooked the flag back onto the pole and used the pulley to get it back up to the top.

Crenshaw didn’t respond; the girl probably didn’t want to know that she’d been the slowest of the three by a decent margin. Instead he focused on marking down the cadets’ scores on their forms as he led the way to the next test. Peach noticed the curious contraption that awaited the trio at the four o’ clock position as she approached, trying to figure out what it was on her own before the grader went ahead and explained. Like the agility test before it this one also featured a half-hex, albeit smaller, and these walls featured only ordinary chain-link fencing stretched between the spires without any extra variation. Nested inside with its back to the barriers was a strange mannequin. It sported a humanoid torso but the trunk of a serpent, its tail coiled beneath it for support, and a large helmet with eight glowing eyes lay on its shoulders.

“In our line of work, it’s necessary to make the absolute most of any and every opportunity,” Crenshaw told the three recruits. “Our enemy is merciless. So we must be, as well. This is a Combat Adjudicator.” He patted the naga-like mannequin on the side of its head. “You’ll have thirty seconds. Hit it with the best, longest combo you’ve got. It’ll give you a Style rating based on your combo length, move variety, and damage. Starts at D, goes to C, B, A, S, double S, and finally the elusive triple S. You’re graded based on how long you keep up your highest rating. Break a leg.” He backed away from the fancy training dummy so that the evaluation could begin. With its back to those walls acting as a corner, and the dummy itself able to be launched into the air, the circumstances were as good as they’d get for long, flashy combos.

Sakura laced her fingers together and stretched out her arms while shifting all of her weight onto one foot, bending until her knee was right up against her. At this point, she was looking positively sly. ”A combo trial? This is almost too good to be true.” She approaches the Combat Adjudicator. This was practically what she was built for. If she couldn’t do this, then why was she even on the team? Then she backed up a few steps, bounced from foot to foot, and opened up with a jump in!

She slammed her foot on top of its chest and dropped into a piercing elbow, before spinning in with her hands interlocked. She continued her spin into a ”Shunpu!”, swinging her leg out like a hammer while hopping forward. When it seemed like it could hypothetically recover, she jabbed it and went back in with another lightning fast spin kick, and right when it seemed out of range she exploded forward like a saw blade, kicking it thrice and launching it into the air. She leapt to follow it. ”One, two..!” She brought her fists down upon it twice, popping them higher into the air. But on the second hit she dropped down faster to meet the dummy before it landed. She braced, before doing her signature Chin Buster Kick. Crossing one arm across and lifting the other, she kicked so straight up her foot nearly crossed over her shoulder. This was a Launcher, the dummy going even higher than before, as high as she had jumped previously. Sakura followed after it and met it in the air. For a short while they were suspended as she unleashed a series of quick strikes. With another spin kick she flung it into the wall. ”Hadoken!” Mid air she unleashed a fireball, exploding it against the wall.

Then she spent another EX-Meter to pursue her target. ”Hooah!” She shot forward, cherry blossoms trailing behind her as she flashed with power. She sliced into it thrice, before grabbing it. She leaned backwards and kicked it up into the air and launched herself downwards.

She landed with a roll and shook out her wrist. There was a brief pause, as it fell down… ”Shouoken!” She shot up to met it, stopping all of its momentum with a high caliber punch and crashing it away as her upper body twisted mid air. Then she landed, pumped her fists, and crossed her arms. This time, supremely confident, she silently did a victory cartwheel.

Crenshaw nodded, his lips pursued again and his brows raised in the universal not bad at all expression. As the Combat Adjudicator recovered, the floor opened up for the next participant, and since Raz seemed to be considering his options Peach tentatively stepped forward. That wasn’t to say she had a great plan in mind, though. Once again she’d have to follow up a very strong performance from Sakura, although reasonably speaking if she went first the better-trained fighter would only show her up afterward, anyway. As she moved in Peach tried to focus; the moment she landed the first blow, the timer would begin, but she didn’t want to stall so long that her inexperience became obvious. The princess took a deep breath, then began.

She delivered two slaps in quick succession, then struck out with a low kick that swept the Adjudicator’s snake tail out from under it. Her backward-leaning can-can kick came out next as launcher, but with her target on the ground she couldn’t connect cleanly, and instead rolled the dummy backward into the fence. The combo was over, and for a brief moment Peach froze. “Damn!” she hissed before cupping a hand over her mouth, surprised at her own vehemence after returning more or less to her sweet self. Twenty-five seconds to go, she reminded herself. Too hastily she tried again, dashing forward with a sparkling shove to bounce the dummy against the back wall before materializing a golf club to hit it with. On the second wall-splat the Adjudicator crumpled, ending the combo again.

“Double damn!” Peach grit her teeth. Time was short. She needed to pull off something now. She took a deep breath in through her nose, then exhaled through her mouth. Just fifteen seconds left. Time to go.

Two slaps combo’d into a sweep, same as before. But this time Peach carried her momentum into a clockwise spin on her left leg, whirling around to strike multiple times. The last hit popped the dummy up, allowing her can-can kick to launch it properly. She hopped into the air after it and struck with a high-speed, low-lag, multi-hit spin, carrying it back down with her to follow up with an immediate ribbon twirl, a materialized heart exploding above her upheld arm, and the dummy flew up once again. This time Peach leaped up to bump the dummy higher with an overhead rainbow, canceled into the same parasol-jump she used during the last test. Rather than float slowly down, she closed the umbrella to fall faster, and as the dummy began to descend she dropped a Grenaduck at the base of the wall. By the time the Adjudicator reached her, she’d materialized her Scatterboom to blast it against the fence, causing a heft wallbounce perfect for a seldom-seen special move of hers.

“Ha-CHA!” She threw herself bottom-first into her target, causing an explosion of hearts that smacked it into the fence. Once again it crumpled, but this time the Grenaduck caught it and kept the combo going. Peach whipped out her rocket launcher to launch the dummy once more for a skyward rocket shot, but right after she struck with the weapon Crenshaw’s timer buzzed, ending the trial just before the finale. With a sigh the princess let the Adjudicator fall, then backed away to let Raz strut his stuff.

What ‘stuff’ there was to ‘strut’ would remain to be seen. Raz’s close-quarters options were more on the hit and run side of things. Extended one-on-one brawls weren’t in his wheelhouse. Still, he didn’t want to just pass on the test. He stepped up to the dummy, scratching his head. ”Here goes nothing, I guess.”

Raz opened with Mental Connection, zipping him to the target and delivering a speedy psychic jab. Following up with a right- and left-hook, then a flurry of palm strikes. Raz prepared to continue, but hesitated just long enough for his “combo” to break. ”Drat, what’s the timing on this thing?” He stepped back to have at it again, putting his opener out quicker and sure to lead the flurry into a quick yank upwards with TK. In the air, Raz peppered the mannequin with a trio of Psi-Blasts, MC’d up to meet it midair, gave it another point blank burst of blasts, then sent it back to the ground with a solid slam!

It didn’t feel all that flashy for Raz, but all the same he walked away from it with a smile. ”Dunno if that was any good but it was fun!”

Next up was the fifth test. So far the cadets had been flying through these challenges, but this one looked a little different. The strange apparatus looked like a dome covered in doodads and cables, with dozens of camera-sized machines arrayed in a hollow hemisphere that all pointed toward its center, where a red pressure plate laid. “The endurance test,” Crenshaw explained. “Once you step on, random turrets will start firing, increasing in intensity over time. They’re about as strong as psi-blasts. Hold out as long as you can. If it gets to be too much, just step off the plate and the test will be over.” He shrugged. “Or, if you’re really durable, I’ll cut it off after ten minutes. Very few people ever make it that far though, so don’t try and be a hero. And please, don’t do anything that might destroy the turrets. They’re sensitive. Who’s first?”

Sakura blinked, a little disbelieving. ”Endurance test..? Is this just an excuse to watch us get beat up?” She asked.

”I’ll take first go at this one!” Raz walked up to the plate. While, again, he didn’t have a ton of hope in pure defense, seeing as he flipped and rolled and ran from the hurt, he felt confident up against a rain of Psi-Blasts. He should be able to just, sorta, diffuse the energy when it hits him. He’s seen Sasha and Milla do it before.

How hard could it be?

Raz stepped on, and the test began. The first few volleys of Psi-blasts weren’t too tough, Raz’s mental fortitude allowing him to essentially ‘absorb’ these weaker bursts, but when the intensity started to ramp up his plan fumbled. They hit harder, and didn’t burst as easily as they had up to now. Before long Raz was out of the energy to keep it up, and so he stumbled off the pad, rubbing the sore spots along his arms and back.

”Welp,” he muttered as he moved back to the group, ”something to improve on at least.”

“That wasn’t bad!” Peach encouraged him. “You did your best!” She passed him and headed into the thunderdome. This time she moved with purpose because she actually did have a plan in mind, at long last. Before stepping on the button she materialized her parasol, which she popped open and daintily places on her shoulder. Then the test began. Tense with anticipation, Peach kept her eyes sharp, and as the first few psi-blasts came in she hurriedly span around to intercept them with the canopy of her umbrella as if it were a lightweight shield. The crystalline surface, courtesy of her new power, helped absorb the damage better than mere cloth would. Quickly Peach noticed that the turrets began to hum and glow a split second before they fired, which gave her more time to defend herself. Again and again she swerved to block the blasts, and slowly they began to ramp up in speed. With the increased rate of fire more slipped through the gaps, the accumulated damage eventually taking out her parasol, but with plenty of psychic energy left she simply made two more to keep herself covered.

A minute passed by in this fashion, then two. As Peach neared three minutes the stream of psi-blasts became a torrent, pouring in from all directions; she couldn’t hope to keep up with them all. Taking a number of hits, she ditched what remained of parasols and skipped straight to the point. A cylindrical tower of bricks manifested around her, with a fresh umbrella on top to protect herself from the turrets directly above her. When the psi-blasts wore down and blew apart the bricks, Peach dutifully replaced them. This strategy lasted her to six minutes, at which point the torrent of shots became a flood, a powerful and very noisy lightshow. It wasn’t long before the psi-blasts were demolishing her bunker faster than she could repair, and finally her well of psychic energy ran dry. A few more moments passed as she hunkered down on the pad, covering her head with her arms as the blasts hammered her limbs and back, but ultimately the princess fell off the pad, beaten up and unable to continue.

Breathing heavily, she stumbled out of the dome with the others’ help, Crenshaw reported her time. “Seven minutes, eight seconds,” he told her. “That’s something to be proud of.” He motioned toward a nearby apparatus that looked like a gumball machine, filled with little bottles of orange jelly. “Make sure you all grab some of those, by the way. Fix you right up.”

”Welp. Guess it’s my turn to get beat up. Won’t be the first time, won’t be the last!’ She said cheerfully. Her strategy wasn’t much of a strategy. She couldn’t create any forcefields. Really as soon as they started coming in from all directions at the same time, her goose was cooked. And Sakura’s prediction came true. Easily she made it to the three minute mark, simply turning and blocking the psi-blasts whenever she noticed the turrets hum. When they started coming in from all directions, well, Sakura started getting hit. She used V-Shift a few times to buy herself a few more seconds, dodging every single bullet with ease for mere moments before she was dropped back down into the real world.

Eventually she ended up in a ball on the ground like Peach, only she did actually manage to go for a while like that. Her defensive ki did manage to do some work as it was, technically, a form of blocking. ”Ow ow ow!” She also V-Shifted some more, rolling around before dropping back into a ball. ”This is embarrassing!” Sakura shouted with a laugh. No wonder Karin didn’t want to sign up for this, she probably would have destroyed the turrets to prove a point.

Soon the torrent became too much for even to find a gap to begin v-shifting, though Sakura didn’t realize it at the time. For a brief moment her body was wracked with psi-bullets and she was blasted from the platform. She pushed herself to her feet, rubbing her arm. ”Ouch. Jelly, please!” She went to greedily consume the medicine like it was a candied treat.

“Five down, five to go,” Crenshaw remarked. Peach looked at him in disbelief, and after a moment he shrugged. “...Though I ought to say, with only half of them you’ve already got more points than a number of recruits do after going all the way. Keep it up and you might graduate tonight after all.” He beckoned to the trio and started to walk. “This way.”


Level 2 (XP: 16/20)
Ace (@Yankee), Frisk (@Majoras End), Prisoner (@XoXKieroBombXoX)
Edinburgh MagicaPolis - Noumenon

Wonder Red stayed on the 26th floor. Not only to give his feet a rest but to let his batteries charge as well. Being the only Wonderful One out on the field, the Shirogane Drive powering his suit had to do so on its own, no others to link up and share energy with. He didn't have access to Unlimited Form either. Now the prospect of facing one of the Consul was looming ever closer with each moment they spent on this island. If the time came for combat, Red was concerned that he might drag the team down.

And right on cue (Wonder Red was starting to wonder if this world operated on some sense of drama) the library was under attack. Red instantly dropped his doubt, his superheroic instinct taking over as he ran up the stairs to rejoin his compatriots. "Everyone okay?!" Making sure the explosive appearance of their foe didn't injure anyone, Red turned to face the angelic monster, fists raised to fight.

Like most of the others Red was lacking in terms of range, though that was easily supplemented with a well-used Unite Morph. Wonder Red rushed ahead of the rest, deflecting any projectile in his path off the edge of his gauntlets, until he reached a pair of bookcases in the center of the floor. With a lull in the angel's attack, he summoned his Striker, the Howler's screech bringing fourth a new batch of Hollows. Red formed another Unite Hand with them, using it to grab a hold of the bookcases from the side. He reared back, took aim, and chucked them like frisbees, soaring through the air at their target. They hit true but did little to falter the enemy.

The angel changed tactics, deploying several pods from its body that turned into individual assailants. One laser swept too close to Red, catching him offguard as he tried to swap morphs. He jumped out of the way, leaving his summoned helpers to face the blast on their own, vaporizing them. "Team, we need to regroup!" He shouted across the library to the others. He rushed for them, jumping over the next volley of low projectiles. Before they could really group up, however, the angel once more altered its attack, charging across the room twice, tearing through parts of the floor with each pass. The shock made Red stumble, grabbing his focus away from the battle itself long enough to realize the real danger present:

That towards the civilians.

"You all, keep fighting it! I'll get everyone to safety!" Red dashed back the way he came, trying to keep his balance along the shaky bridge, to where the innocents were all trying to hide from the chaos. "Everyone, please, follow me! Stay calm and I can lead you out of here!" He corralled the children, parents, and other library-goers, not wanting to leave anyone behind.

Of course, this only opened them up to an attack. The angel's giant laser swept through the room, making its way right to Red and the gathered citizens. In a blink of an eye, Wonder Red made a decision, one he was hoping to avoid but couldn't no longer...

"Uniiiiiiiite SWORD!"

All at once, the various frightened people Red gathered were pulled into the morph. The large, semi-translucent sword stood high, bigger than it had been at the metro from being made with more people. It came at just the right time - the laser reached him, only instead of taking the blast, the beam of energy was reflected by the Unite Sword, acting as a mirror to shoot it right back into its sender.
614 Words
+1 EXP
Sakura's Stream

Wordcount: 6240
EXP: +7

Sakura EXP Total: 26/90 (pending)
Raz EXP Total: 56/50 (Rank Up!)

Raz found himself in abackyard. The sky was a warm sunset, with clouds painted orange and purple. Birds squawked overhead. There was a dog in a doghouse, a family garden with some plants, and on the overhang in front of the second storey of the house in front of him, a mattress.

The sliding glass door was open, and inside a boy, maybe a little older than Raz, was playing video games, and was very, very into it. Delicious smells of seafood came from the kitchen inside the house. Orange light spilled from the open door of the house, and the two windows on the second floor were glowing pink and yellow respectively.

While it did seem to be surrounded by neighborhood, it wasn’t a practical one, of course. There was a large highway overpass, near enough to almost cast a shadow on the house, though the honking of all the cars going overhead didn’t seem to reach the peaceful home. There were a few houses nearby, too. But the fence stopped Raz from seeing more from ground level.

The dog barked playfully at him from his dog house, but seemed too lazy to actually move out of it and do anything. The little boy paid him no mind at all, absorbed in his game.

Raz took his surroundings in, looking this way and that with the semi-trained eye of a semi-Psychonaut. Things seemed normal, but he knew how quickly things might get dicey. First order of business: ingratiate with the mental denizens.

He moved to the doghouse. ”Hey there boy, how’s it going?” He stooped down, scritching the pet’s head. ”You have a name?”

The little white dog stayed with his chin on his crossed paws as Raz scratched him. He was pleased, his tail wagging slowly. On its red collar was a tag, and on that tag was a name written in Japanese. The boy inside made a noise of intense focus as the video game ratcheted up the difficulty, the colors of the TV brightening considerably.

Well, it wasn’t like he could read Japanese. ”We’ll… put a pin in that.” He gave the mystery pup another scratch behind an ear before standing back up, heading for the house. Since the door was open Raz decided to simply walk inside, stopping beside the younger boy and watching him play for a second. Then he said, ”Hey there! I’m looking for Sakura. Know where I can find her?”

It was some kind of fighting game- two strong looking martial artists were battling it out, and it seemed like the boy was winning. He didn’t respond for a few moments. When it seemed like he might not have heard the question at all, he shouted:

“Mooom! Some goldfish-headed kid is looking for Sakura!”

“Be nice, Tsukushi-kun!” Called a voice from the kitchen. Knives hit wood, noodles splashed into boiling water, bowls clattered into sinks and hungry hands swept takeaway boxes from a window. The kitchen was a busy place.

Now that he was inside, Raz could tell this was a representation of Sakura’s family home. There were pictures of her and the family on the wall. The boy, a tall, handsome businessman of a father, and a plump, jovial housewife of a mother, and Sakura herself. Though they were all moving a little bit, like mini-films, with a lot of depth. Vacations, portraits- though Sakura did have a couple of her fighting. There was also a single picture of a Japanese student around Sakura’s age. She had long, straight black hair topped with a green headband. A very beat up, grinning Sakura was with her in the photo, dragging the poor girl’s mouth up into a smile with her index finger, though there was a twinkle of amusement in the girl’s eye. In the back of the living room there was a stairway that no doubt led to the second floor.

“Sakura’s either up in her room or overseas!” The mother called again, with a laugh. “Not sure… Kei might know! Did you tell him to find Kei-chan?” She asked.

The door opened, and the handsome businessman walked in. “Honey, I’m home! And we have a guest!” He said, looking at Raz.

“He’s looking for Sakura!” The mother called from the kitchen.

“Well, she’s either in her room, or overseas.” He said, though there was a note of melancholy in his laugh. He went about setting down his briefcase and removing his jacket.

“If she’s not down here with us, or out with Kei. Are you one of her…fighting friends? She has a lot of those these days. Always smacking each other around- the whole thing drives me nuts sometimes.” He said with a sigh. He took a big bundle of money from his back pocket and dropped it into a small box labeled ‘Dreams!’.

”I guess you could call me a fighting friend. Though I never fought her before, just alongside.” It was rare to see a mental world be so… normal. Was it due to Sakura’s straightforwardness? Hmmmm. ”What’s in that box?” He asked the father, pointing at the ‘Dreams!’ box.

“Oh, this?” He said. “One day, I’m going to reopen the Kasugano family restaurant. Sakura’s mother and I are exceptional cooks- we just need to get the place off the ground again.” He said. The mother flung a takeaway box out of the window and someone caught it.

Raz nodded. ”I hope that worked out for you. Anyways, it was nice meeting you all! If it’s no trouble I’m going to go look upstairs, see if Sakura is there.” He took the stairs two at a time, trying not to make too much noise - he was still a guest in a nice family’s house after all.
Upstairs was a hallway with three rooms. Two on the left, one on the right. One was clearly just a bathroom, the other was Tsukushi’s room, and the final one was clearly Sakura’s room. It said ‘Sakura’s Room’ in plain English on the front, though there was some text underneath it that was most likely the same thing but in Japanese. Cherry blossoms were in front of the door frame and drifted out into the hallway from the room.

Inside was a messed up bed, an open window with orange light streaming through. The light was hard to see through, but the dim shadows of buildings almost seemed to waver, shift, and move, affecting the rays of light that poured through.

There was some clothes scattered about, and a desk with a huge, insurmountably large stack of homework that pushed the ceiling upward. Underneath the bed was a dim, pulsing pink light.

There were lots of posters on the wall. A blonde man in a red gi gave a thumbs up to the camera. An imposing green man with orange hair shook the frame with electricity, a woman in blue kicked fast as lightning. A guy with a blonde flat top looked very, very serious. Them and many more.

A small TV sat on a desk… next to it, there was a large pile of VHS tapes. A match of some kind was playing on the TV. It looked like the man with the flattop and the man in the gi were fighting.

Suddenly, someone in the room almost shouted into Raz’s ear. “Sonic Boom!” The flattop guy in the poster shouted suddenly, firing a spinning blade projectile across the way to the man in the red gi. It whizzed right overhead with a mighty crack of sound waves.

“Ow, hey! Guile! Alright, fine, let’s turn up the heat!” The man in red said, before pulling himself out of the poster and sprinting across the room. He seemed more 2D than he did 3D.
“Tatsumaki!” With a spinning flame kick he pushed Guile into the poster, nearly missing Raz.

“RAINBOW!” A mighty feminine voice scream. A wrestler launched herself butt-first into the quick kicking woman’s poster, nearly knocking it off the wall.

“I’m the strongest woman in the world!” She replied, the two joining the scrap. In all the sudden mayhem, the big pile of homework tipped, and threatened to fall on Raz.

Ducking, diving, and rolling out of the way of the living posters, Raz hunkered down beside the desk to avoid the fights. ”Whoa! Guessing you’re some of her ‘fighting friends’, right?” His impromptu hiding space was threatened by the stack of homework topping down onto him. He, unfortunately, wasn’t able to dodge out of the way in time, and got knocked to the floor by the tide of overdue worksheets. ”Gyahh!”

The papers scattered and filled the space, kicking up another cloud of cherry blossoms. Most of them were shredded by the oblivious poster fighters. The TV continued to play. Fortunately for Raz, it was just a bunch of loose paper, so it didn’t really hurt. The cherry blossoms drifted, picked up by the wind, past the glowing pink underside of the bed, and out the orange window.

“Would you keep it down up there, please!” The mother called out.

”Sorry, miss!” Raz picked himself up, grumbling under his breath about papers and the laying of fault, and crossed the room - avoiding the fighting poster people - to the bed, where he got on his hands and knees and took a peek under.

All the chaos paused for a moment as Raz peeked under Sakura’s bed. Under the bed was a hot spring pool. About ten feet down was a warm sunny day and a pool surrounded by stones. Inside, a stoic yet amiable looking man with short, black hair and a headband sat in the water, shirtless. He had his eyes closed and head down, relaxed. “Ah, Sakura-Chan.” He began. “So you have returned. Please, join me in the Special Fighter Spring for Cool Fighters.”

He looked up at Raz and opened his eyes, before blinking in surprise. “You’re not Sakura-chan.”

Raz, immediately, pulled his head back out from under the bed. ”Nope, not going in there.” Well, he already looked in one conspicuous glowy part. What’s the harm in another? Raz crawled across the floor as another gi-wearing fighter spun through the air, over to the window, raising his eyes over the sill to look into the orange light.

The outside was a big, big place, full of many moving parts. The overpass highway was just ahead and to the right, with children running around behind it in the midday sun, even though Raz was currently being bathed in the light of a cozy dusk. Right beneath him bicyclers bustled underneath, carrying the fresh take-out food Sakura’s mouth had just made. Everyone was happy, busy, and friendly. And fighting.

This little island home and the surrounding neighborhood was actually only a small island, among many moving landmasses. Windswept rivers moved the islands on a big ocean. Some islands had landmarks, like the Eiffel Tower, or a section of the Great Wall of China, others were cramped towns and layed cities varying in size and recognizability. They all seemed to have different times of day, too. Some weren’t ‘places’ at all, but landmasses that contained swirling masses of energy similar to what Sakura throws out in her fights. The rivers themselves weren’t inactive, either- some had boats. Work boats or party boats- lots of fight boats, too. There was a pier on the end of this Homeland Island that extended out with some fishing boats anchored against the quick moving tides.

The cherry blossom breeze led down, out the window, and to the ever quaint street below.

Down there a much more three dimensional version of the man in the red gi was eating fresh noodles and chatting with a girl with long black hair with a pink headband on top- the same girl that appeared in a photo with Sakura but didn’t seem to be a part of the family. Biological family, anyway.

“Can you please take the street fights elsewhere? This island is supposed to be safe and quiet!”

“Alright, alright, I’m sorry! The Kasugano Residence just has such a perfect backyard for it.” The man replied, noodles half in his mouth. “I’ll be more careful in the future, Kei-chan. But if you ask me, you’re fighting a losing battle.”

Kei sighed, rubbing her temples. “Maybe you’re right…it’s hardly the biggest problem I have on my plate at the moment.”

There was a certain atmosphere that mental worlds such as this had, a sort’ve chaotic blend that the World on the outside didn’t replicate. Raz might’ve journeyed up a frozen mountain, traversed a cat-themed metro in a giant pumpkin, and jumped over a herd of roving trucks in the desert, but it still felt cohesive. Everything had a place that it fit into the world, like a puzzle made perfectly out of pieces from entirely different boxes.

There’d be time to wax poetic later, though. The conversation on the wind caught his attention. ”’Keychain’?... Oh, Kei-chan!” Raz hopped clear out of the window, forming his Levball to hover in the air, floating down along the breeze’s path to the street beside Kei and the red-gi guy.

He took a couple steps when he touched down to get his balance, then strode up to the pair. ”Excuse me! Are you Miss Kei? I’m looking for your friend, Sakura. Or, maybe, something she’s scared of? I’m not too sure…”

Kei turned around, raising an eyebrow. “That’s me. Uh, hello.” She says, then considers his words. “Err…yes. Yes, that’s it. To be honest, you probably won’t find Sakura. She’s off doing who knows what. I do know there’s a big mess happening at one of the newly created islands to the South. I could help you get there, if you help us out with it.” Kei said.

The guy in the red kept eating his noodles. “I’ve been down there once or twice. It’s bad news- really brings the whole mood of the World Islands down. This place is supposed to be fun, y’know?”

”I’m pretty familiar with big messes on weird islands, so I’d be happy to help. My name’s Raz, by the way. I’m a friend of Sakura’s!”]

“That’s great, because we’re stuck.” Kei said with a bow. “Thank you, Raz-kun. I’m Kei. Sakura’s been my friend for longer than I can remember, and recently I’ve been a little worried about her. Follow me, please.”

She guided Raz through the neighborhood. Once he was in the middle of it, he couldn’t see the chaotic islands outside and everything was peaceful and quiet. They passed by Sakura’s noodle-serving house and went to the other side of the island, where it was dawn instead of dusk. Past a drainage canal and under the overpass where children ran and played and drew on the concrete.

Kei took Raz to the pier and pointed across the river to an island on the other side. “I’d recommend not falling into the river. It’s not dangerous. In fact, it’s actually pretty fun- but you could wash up anywhere.”

Raz looked over the edge of the pier into the water lapping against the concrete walls. In the small waves a set of lumps formed, small rivets of the water that rose higher into the air than the waves, like fingers of a grasping hand trying to break the surface. Raz took a small step back and the lumps disappeared.

It had been a while since he got close to a body of water, yet the dread was present as ever. Still, across this mental sea was the heart of Sakura’s problems, and he wasn’t going to let some silly curse get the better of him.

”You don’t have to warn me,” Raz said, ”I won’t be falling in anytime soon.”

Stones stuck out of the rapids and heavy crates of wood floated steadily down the river. There were empty boats and micro-islands with palm trees sticking out. Occasionally fish would jump out of the water, or even dolphins.

“And the Ki islands aren’t as dangerous as they look, but they can be pretty disorienting. If you see any fighters along the way, they should be able to help you out.” Kei said. “Just keep going South. You’ll know the problem when you see it. Best of luck, Raz-kun. Thanks again.”

A strong breeze was at Raz’s back, and it was even stronger on the river. He could probably sense that this breeze was actually strong enough to carry him through the air at some points over the river.

He turned to wave goodbye to Kei. ”Don’t worry, I’ll make sure Sakura gets back to her usual self.” With that, he was off.

The trek across the water wasn’t much to worry about, not for an experienced(-ish) mental traverser like him. He leapt from the pier to a passing crate, hitching a ride as it floated lazily further out, this way and that, pulled by unseen currents. As it passed by one of the raised stone he used it as a springboard to catch a gust of wind, hovering with it until it deposited him on a small dilapidated dock near the next island.

The next island was desert-like and hot, with a blazing sun overhead. But there was a crispness to the air and a returning cool sea breeze. There were elephants, giraffes, zebras, and people chasing each other around in jeeps and on horse-back. It was a straight shot to the other side, with few visual obstacles in his path to get to the next island south. He could even see other islands to the east and west, all busy with their own features. All he had to do was watch out for alligators and stampedes, though there might be something unpredictable about this place like the house.

A tall, beautiful woman with dark skin and white hair was flipping, kicking, and dance-fighting with a small group of warriors with wooden training weapons, laughing all the while.

Raz didn’t want to linger too long in here if he could help it. It wasn’t like the two were in a very safe spot in the real world after all. Rather than trying to run through the unknown of this island, he instead approached the tall woman. ”Hi! Hello? I was told that some ‘fighters’ could help me get further south, would you be one of them by any chance?”

She ceased her spin kick and stopped in a one-handed handstand, looking at Raz and grinned big. “Jambo! Of course! I can show you a little secret, just between you and me, if you are fun-loving enough to handle it.”

Graceful, she did a few cartwheels over to a crack in the ground. She waited for a few moments and a big gust of steam emitted from it, that blew her short hair back and up. With a giggle, she indicated beyond it to another distant crack. A few moments, it blew up steam as well. Beyond that, another one.

“The steam will let you fly up to the breeze above. The alligators are friendly if you feed them, but, if you want to go fast, that’s the best way!” She pointed up to the sky where the familiar cherry blossom breeze moved above.

Raz could hop from steam blast to steam blast. If he stepped in, would launch him up, hot, but not painful. The last steam blast would be enough to carry him up into the clouds, and up here the breeze was solid enough to walk on!

”Thank you!” Raz rushed for the steam vent as it went off a second time, sending him hurtling through the air to the next, and the next, and the next, a series of air-rocketed jumps into the breeze above. He sailed through it like a surfer, minus the board, onwards.

The next island was a tightly packed cluster of buildings, full to bursting. There was barely even a beach to land on- chances were he would land on a rooftop air conditioner and find the metal surprisingly bouncy. This place had muffled, loud music, thick cloud cover, and the sky was purple like it was night.

There were searchlights painting the clouds pink and blue from a mini-version of a large stadium building with no roof. There was a blast of violent purple energy from within that split the sky. A short moment later a man in a military uniform yelled as he was flung right out of the stadium and crashed into a nearby car. The roof dented and then expanded, bouncing up and out through a window. He groaned and shuffled away, defeated.

Raz leapt down off of his breeze onto a slanted metal rooftop, which was as springy as everything else, sending him careening across the buildings. Seemed the whole place was made out of rubber, from the seeming metal structures to even parts of the concrete below, like a giant bounce house. ”Whoa, this place is fun! I guess Sakura doesn’t want the people she fights to get hurt too badly.”

There was time for playing around later (assuming Sakura let him take another peek around), he was on a mission! As fun as the stadium seemed, this stretch of the journey felt like a cakewalk, so Raz simply bounced and sprung his way across to the other side of the island.

The next island was far away, and the rivers seemed to quiet. Disconcertingly, there were trails of black oil on the still waters surface, flowing much slower than before. It didn’t seem like it would whisk him away to some far off place to no doubt have some wacky adventure, but rather get him stuck in and flounder until he found his way back to shore. That is, if he didn’t already have his own problems with the water that was bountiful in the place. The breeze that had guided him so far seemed to falter and sputter out as it went over this portion.

It was poorly lit, with only faint moonlight illuminating shadows. From this distance, it seemed to be a forest surrounding a field, with an old-looking house that was lit up with flickering firelight on the inside. The way across wasn’t apparent. It seemed impossible to get there without some kind of transport or vehicle.

Another person went flying from the stadium, curling up into a ball and yelling with frustration. He flew, flew, and flew, until he landed on an entirely separate island from the one Raz was on, and the one Raz wanted to go to. The crowd cheered again.

So the way forward was a no-go for him, and the stadium just behind him was spouting out fighters like a slingshot. It was easy for him to put two and two together. He doubled back, using a rubbery chimney to launch forward, towards the stadium itself. Rather than take the entrance like any normal mental manifestation, Raz opted for the quicker route: he used some stray thoughts as a bridge, pulling himself up and over the stadium, before falling straight down through the open ceiling.

Raz landed on the rafters around the edge of the gap, rattling one of the spotlights. From above, he could look down into the stadium. A blonde, bulky, shortstack of a woman with long blonde hair in two ponytails in a blue wrestling outfit was currently tearing up a wrestling ring at the center of the crowd’s attention. She threw up a finger to the night sky and came down with a DDT on a nefarious looking soldier. It almost seemed like these were actual bad guys trying to attack her, but she was making a show out of it. She threw her entire body, rear first, into another villain and sent him sprawling. “I’LL KICK YOUR ASS!” She shouted, her light yet scratchy voice carrying over the crowd.

“Mika! Mika! Mika!” They cheered her name. Grinning wildly, she held up her arms as another bad guy tried to get her from behind.

”Alright, now to safely get down from up here, and…” Raz trailed off as, in the middle of creeping along one of the rafters, the metal underneath creaked. Then buckled. Then gave out altogether. Seemingly not constructed to hold the weight of an entire stadium’s roof and a ten-year-old child, the rafter snapped, dropping Raz down to the wrestling ring below. Luckily for him, his landing was cushioned by one of Mika’s opponents, thrown to the mat by Raz’s fall. He looked up, dazed by the bright lights, and looked around the audience. ”Uhm… hi there,” he offered, sheepish over interrupting the fight.

Rainbow Mika turned around to see Raz on top of one of her opponents. “Woah! Hell of an entrance! Are you trying to upstage me or something?!” She said, her surprise turning back into a grin. She ‘offered’ a strong hand down to help him up, but it was more like her just picking him up by the arm and setting him on his feet.

Raz took the offered hand and gave another wave to the crowd. ”Sorry, didn’t mean to intrude here or anything, I’m just passing through. Trying to get to the next big island down South, only there’s no way over. Think you could, you know.” He gestured to the open sky above them. ”Do that thing that launched all those other guys out of this stadium, for me?”

“Are you seriously askin’ me to throw you as hard as I can?! That takes guts! I like it! Alright, kid, I’ll do it, but only if you say you signed a disclosure agreement beforehand!” She said.

Then she looked to the sky, licked her finger and held it up to the air, and did a brief mental calculation. “Yeah, no problem! I promise I’ll totally make this look cool!” Then she dropped into a squat. “Here we go! Don’t hold on, I’ll let you go when the time is right!” She commanded, then went to grab Raz by the ankles.

She picked him up, her grin forming into a serious pout, and began to spin Raz. Round and round and round until she let him go and flung him into the ropes! They bent, bent, bent, carrying all of his weight, until they rubber banded with a loud snap, sending him flying!

“Badass!!” He heard Rainbow Mika shout as he was launched to his next destination. Up, up, and away, out over the dark sea and to the final island! He soared for what must have been nearly half a minute.

Immediately, things were much quieter. The spotlights of Rainbow Mika’s arena were distant and dim, the noise of the crowd not carrying over the waters as they might have in real life.

The forest was devoid of night life, the stars weren’t visible. The house light flickered and a figure moved inside.

Inside was a man Raz recognized, though he looked different, his countenance much more severe. It was the short haired man from underneath Sakura’s bed, though now he had a beard and was wearing a tattered if functional karate outfit and wooden sandals. Quietly, he meditated in front of a small shrine. He could be seen through the open door. But as Raz approached, he stood and quickly made to leave through the other side.

”Hey wait!” Raz hurried after the man, brushing past trees and bushes trying to keep up with him.

The man led Raz down a path, through the treeline and out to the other side’s beach.

There, he saw it. The Maw. A truly enormous monstrosity of a ship. It was pitch black, and easier to spot by where it blotted out the night cloud cover and ocean. It was as large as a skyscraper. Where it crashed onto the shore, black oil spilled from a jagged wound of rent steel that was wide enough to act as an entryway.

On the shore, the man was engaged in a battle. A tall, animal skull faced creature with horns, draped in skulls and aberrated light. It flung skulls at the man, but he blasted through them with a familiar “Hadoken!”

The creature that Raz would recognize as a Panic Attack teleported to the street fighter and swiped at it with claws, but he parried the blow with his bare forearm. He delivered swift and simple retribution, finishing with a kick that sent the Panic Attack flying. It bounced off the metal hull of the ship and went right back towards the fighter. “Shoryuken!” He did a rising uppercut into the creature's body where it scattered into smoke and dust.

He landed and sighed, considering the huge ship before him.

As the dust of the battle settled, Raz approached slowly, his attention split between the bearded guy and the great metal monstrosity out at sea. Eventually, Raz broke the silence.

”Hey… pretty good job fighting that monster, there.” He walked closer, standing beside him as they both watched the Maw float in the water. ”You seem worried about that thing. Guessing it’s not supposed to be leaking oil all over?”

Crossing his arms, he turned over his shoulder and noticed Raz, then nodded. “Yes. It appeared recently, and it has people concerned. This island is stuck, and no longer moves, and the oil spreads slowly but surely. I also can’t go inside.” He said. “None of us can.”

”What do you mean? You can’t reach it, or you can’t literally get into it?”

“I can’t go in.” He says. “I could go wade through the water and jump inside, but I can’t do it. I think the forces that govern this world do not want me, or any denizen, inside. From that look in your eye, and the fact that you came this far, gives me the sense that you can. Am I wrong?”

Raz looked back out over the oil-tainted water at the Maw, the very sight of it bringing a strange sense of dread to his stomach. Still, he turned back to the fighter, and said, ”yeah, I think I am. Only, uh, do you have a way across the water? I… can’t swim.”

The fighter looked at Raz and then considered the beach in front of him. “The water is shallow. But it would be too deep and thick for you to manage without being able to swim. I can get you there, but you’ll have to stand on my shoulders.” He said, dropping into a kneel.

Raz nodded, using the man’s outfit to hoist himself up. ”Don’t worry, I’m used to standing on shoulders.” Feet firmly planted on his muscular shoulders, Raz focused on maintaining his balance. ”All set up here!”

Serious so far, the man chuckled quietly. “Then let us begin.” He began to wade forward, taking powerful strides through the murk and oil. In less than a minute the bow of the Maw was a huge wall in front of them, but the leaking gash was within arms reach for Raz.

When Raz was inside, the fighter called out to him. When the fighter looked into the palm of his hand, he found a brown, oval seed. “Wait!” He called out. “Before you go in. I think you need this.” He flicked the seed up to Raz.

“Farewell.” He began to back up, but kept his eyes on the gash and on Raz until the psychonaut disappeared from his view.

The Maw was a confusing, disconcerting place. It was dark, with steel corridors that twisted up and around. The light was provided by angry fireplaces that had been screwed into the walls themselves. Tendrils of oil lazily lashed out at Raz if he got too close, trying to entrap him if he got too close. The whole place seemed to be closing in, corridors shuddered and grew smaller over time. Everything was sharp jagged metal and rusted corners.

“Over here…I’m stuck…help me…” A distorted, metallic voice said quietly. Partly emerging from the wall was some type of goo-covered, melting robot with a boxy face, a single flickering light for an eye. “What’s your problem..? Just help me already…” It moaned, its voice fading into a crackling stew of static. It outstretched its arm.

For a moment Raz considered helping, but hesitated just long enough for his mind to change. ”Iiiii’m not really sure if melting robots is an issue Sakura would need dealt with. Probably better to leave that one for later, when she can tell me herself.” He hurried past the bot, shouting over his shoulder, ”hang in there!”

Raz came into a large central chamber, with several floors surrounding it. Mysterious, bloated shapes moved within distant, far off kitchens. The only natural source of light was a single moon beam from the ceiling. There was some kind of large skylight that had been shut with three, large, thick, rusted iron latches. The blocked skylight was above a central mound of patchy brown grass and dead plant life, and some kind of ruined, decrepit shrine that was similar to the one within the house. There was a pool of water that was clogged with algae. At the top of the mound of dirt was a small square of wooden fence posts and patch of wet dirt.

There were a few Panic Attacks crawling about on the walls and floor of this large chamber. But they hadn’t noticed Raz yet.

”Okay,” Raz whispered to himself as he assumed stealth mode, using the dim lighting to his advantage, since he didn’t have the means to fight these Panic Attacks head-on. ”All my Psychonauts training tells me that this seed I have probably has to go into that mound of dirt.”

He crept to the center of the room, to the wet patch of dirt, cramming the seed down in as gently as one could cram something. He then looked around to get his bearings. ”Pretty sure I have to open the skylight and clear that water, too, and those’ll make some noise… Ah screw it.” Raz looked upwards, readying himself for a Psi-blast, directing three bolts squarely on the hinges. He then booked it for the drain, hoping to reach there before the Panic Attacks got to him.

The hinges creaked, groaned, and snapped under Raz’s attack, the skylight looking like it was going to break. The Panic Attacks moved in from their different positions, but were distracted by all the noise coming from above that they didn’t understand where the original source came from. Moonlight came in through the narrow gap like water threatening to spill over the edge of a cup. But the last hinge, the third and final one Raz had shot before running, was more stubborn than the others. As the Panic Attacks began to circle towards the dilapidated shrine…

”Oh, come on!” Raz stopped in the middle of running-and-hiding, too exasperated at the sturdy piece of metal. Of course, this only served to draw the Panic Attacks’ attention his way again. ”Oops.” No time left to lose, Raz rapidly burst the remaining hinge with a flurry of Psi-blasts, hoping at least one would hit so he could finally book it to safety!

With the final latch broken, the skylight fell away, groaning on its hinges. Moonlight, far brighter than what it had been before, bathed the entire chamber in a cool light. The chefs of the distant kitchens cowered and fled, packing up their things and throwing themselves through the steel wall just to get away. The black oil burned away. The clogging, swampy algae turned into lily pads and lichen, flowers bloomed and the pond began to babble and run again. The broken shrine bloomed with new life as vines crept up around it and flowered.

The cherry blossom breeze surged within, traveling to the central shrine. It swirled around and from the seed a tree began to blossom and sprout. Decades passed in mere moments, and the loose blossoms attached themselves to its growing branches and settled there. The leftover wind blew the terrible creatures away, sending them scattering for places to hide if it did not crush them against the walls with retributive gusts.

The Maw both seemed more open, and yet, smaller. The room Raz was in was suddenly no more than a single floor, the cherry tree almost reaching out of the skylight entirely. The shrine now made up a majority of the place, though there were still dark corridors on either side, moonlight came in from above.

Raz took a moment to appreciate the calm space, the claustrophobic, suffocating feeling of the old space gone like a held breath. ”Well, it’s a good start,” he said, looking up at the cherry blossom. The Maw was still here, of course, but it should be more manageable for Sakura to handle. His help given, Raz shuffled inside of his knapsack and pulled out his smelling salts. ”I’m kinda hoping the Psych-OSF has a better way of leaving minds than these.”

And with a waft under his nose, Raz was gone, back to the real world.

The psycho-portal popped open again as Raz’s projection was pulled back into his body. He returned to his senses with a start. ”Alright! Everything felt like it went smoothly. How are you feeling now, Sakura?” He asked, pulling his goggles back onto his head and stowing the portal away.

Level 2 (XP: 14/20)
Ace (@Yankee), Frisk (@Majoras End), Prisoner (@XoXKieroBombXoX)
Edinburgh MagicaPolis

As the group got themselves seated in the bakery, treats ordered and delivered surprisingly quick, Wicke got started on her spiel. Wonder Red, for his part, remained skeptical of the Aether Foundation even as the representative right in front of them had an entire passionate monologue about their mission statements and contributions to the city. He didn't expect a straight answer out of her on the issue - why would a company worker divulge the dirty details of said company to a pack of strangers? While Red wasn't a detective of Big Band's caliber, or really, at all, he did have experience with people. It was mostly with elementary schoolers, to be fair, but it let him pick up on Wicke's genuine enthusiasm all the same.

Whether she was covering for her superiors or not, it was clear the Aether Foundation had employees devoted to their cause.

Wonder Red went to eat some of his own chocolate treats only to find them squishy, half-melted as if by some radiant force of happiness. He balked at his sticky fingers and tried to wipe them clean on the hem of his jacket when nobody was watching.

"I must say, you do your company justice, Wicke," Red said, picking up a fork. "Are you sure you're not in charge of advertising and PR?" From anyone else that might've sounded like a dig, but Red sincerely meant it here. She'd do a great job as the company's face, if she wasn't already. Red continued, a little more on topic, "other than the All Around Spheal Spheal team, I've witnessed Pokémon before. They're certainly impressive creatures. If the Aether Foundation is housing ones they've rescued, are they available for adoption?" Red didn't quite say 'so we can use them in our upcoming fights', but he was pretty darn close to it.

It would have to be a question answered on their own time, as Wicke was in a hurry to leave the café and get back to work. Almost as soon as she left the discussion turned to what they should be doing now, which itself was quickly turned to Frisk and her information regarding 'L'. Hearing that even here they hadn't escaped the watching eyes of whoever the Consuls were put a damper on the mood, though Red remained hopeful. "This could be a good time to gather more information on these Consuls," he posited. "Where we can, that is. If L is in charge of the whole city there are bound to be public records of her exploits and perhaps even a way to trace her back to the Consul." Maybe a touch too hopeful. Optimism was important.

A hideout was needed, and luckily their new friends also had access to that too. The place was stunning, a massively impressive library of impressively massive size, though for Wonder Red, whose home world was larger than life already, it was an easier pill for him to swallow. "This library is very expansive! We should make note of this for later, it might be a valuable resource of information." The obvious statement out of the way, Red and the other got acquainted with the magic bookmarks that helped tell them where to find things. They might not have needed one each, but it helped to have options.

Big Band led the way to the library's stairs, a task much more daunting than anything they faced thus far. Red stepped forward, saying, "it'd be best for everyone to conserve their energy in case we're attacked, so I can help with this." He raised his fist up, and shouted...


A chorus of otherworldly 'shhhhhhhhhhhhh's echoed across the marble-floored library, cutting of Wonder Red's exclamation. Several wax-headed caretakers looked in their direction, dangers raised ominously. Red clear his throat and gave them all a nervous nod of understanding. "Yes, right. Quiet." He raised his fist again, and instead whispered...

"uniiiiiiiite hand."

In barely a blink of an eye Red's 5 companions were pulled together, hard-light encasing their bodies to form Red's signature gauntlet. And, in maybe his most mundane use of it yet, Wonder Red simply... took the stairs. The others safely morphed into his weapon, it was all on him to exert the energy in order to tackle the endless flight to the higher floors, stepping quick and assuredly one after the other, Unite Morph raised up. "Floor 26, here we come."

And Floor 26 they did go. While an unusual, perhaps even comical sight, Red's little idea was effective in getting the group up and up and up the many floors in record time. His pace might've slowed a few times, and his arm may have drooped on occasion, but sure enough Wonder Red took the final step onto the 26th floor. He dematerialized the Morph, allowing the others to touch the ground again, and doubled over, clutching his shaking knees and trying to catch his breath.

"Hoooh, haaaah, d-destination reached, team." He gave his arm a few turns, rolling his shoulder. "And with... with minimal damage done."
843 Words
+2 EXP

Rank 5
42 / 50 EXP

Sector 3 Upper

Raz had been uncharacteristically silent since the Other fight. In a bit of a mad dash to re-prove himself to Lili, hoping that a display of bravery against some monsters would clear the awkwardness of their scuffle, Raz instead got shot down hard and had been out of the count for most of the fight. It was... embarrassing, to say the least. He was shaping up to be a pretty key figure in things around Suoh, maybe even all of their stay at Midgar. He couldn't get reckless like that again! Even after Peach so helpfully healed him Raz kept to himself, mostly following everyone else's lead in the aftermath of the fight, until being addressed directly snapped him out of his funk.

"Uh, what?" He blinked up at Pit, as if his eyes were out of focus. "Oh, no, I can't. Sorry. Thought Transference is a pretty high-level technique, I never learned it back home. And Clairvoyance only works if you're the one using it..." Such a matter-of-fact denial might've stung, but at least it roused Raz into a bit of action.

He chose to stay out of the proceedings at the gym, deciding it was better to let himself heal up a bit more than getting right back into a brawl, and while everyone was checking out the gym the next step of their plan was revealed: infiltrating the Psych-OSF.

Raz nodded to Peach and Goldlewis. "Oh right, I've totally got an in. Me and Roxas even managed to free one of my friends, Lili Zanotto, so she's on our side too! A bit more than she already was at least. She's, y'know, cool. On the level. In on things." He cleared his throat. Coach Oleander is her squadron's leader, and he offered me a fast track to joining. I tried to get the rest of you in too, but it looks like the Psych-OSF is leaning more on the 'OSF' part of running things. They don't even let non-psychics join anywhere." He scratched his head and glanced out the window at all of the specially-tuned advertisements and road signs.

"It's kinda weird. Back home it was us psychics that were looked down on. Here, they run the place, and anyone else are seen as 'different'. Sorry, guys," he offered to his team members, very sincerely too.
396 Words
+1 EXP
I'll be posting my app a little later once I manage to scrounge up a faceclaim (I'm awful at it), but for now I'm officially calling dibs on the Tower arcana and Davy Jones for my Persona. Don't you steal them!

(you can steal them)
Dibs on Davy Jones.
I just so happen to have my own water-based Persona idea knocking on the back burner so I don't see why I shouldn't throw my hat in!
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