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5 days ago
Current If you think you can't handle the truth, how do you think I feel?
6 mos ago
Watch Across the Spider-Verse. You did? Do it again. You already did? AGAIN.
2 yrs ago
If ya can't handle the heat, don't go burning your bridges.


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Level 1
0/10 EXP

Midgar was a far cry from the mean streets of Kamurocho.

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

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

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

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

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

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

With a heavy breath Kiryu snuffed his cigarette out and dashed it under his heel. It would be pretty shameful if his cover was blown because he took too long for a smoke. Questions still filling his head, the man known as Joryu walked off, keeping from the lingering crowds as he made his way to meet General Affairs. At the very least, he'll have some answers in the morning.
442 Words
+1 EXP
That makes sense, I think I'd wanna keep some form of it still, cuz even if it isn't a practical weakness it would be something he'd consciously avoid regardless. Would it be alright if I reworded that weakness and added one for his smoking habit, so it isn't just a "fake" weakness?
New join, new me!

Rank 7
18 / 70 EXP

"C'mon, we're almost there."

Raz knew that Lili was psychic, that she had gone through the same initiation into the Psych-OSF he did, and that she was perfectly able to access their shared Brain Talk with Yuito. Aaand that sneaking around jumpy psi-soldiers combing a locked down city district for things to shoot at was not a good time to be speaking out loud. These were all facts Raz was aware of. He was also aware, as a certified Junior Psychonaut, that the worst place for Lili to be right now was in her own head. A little tricky for psychics, but Raz was confident in his ability to irritate others, and she was very easy to irritate.

In a caring way, of course.

Raz was definitely getting in his own head about it. As the pair dipped out of sight from the frequent patrols, all that he could think on was the big mystery hanging over them: the seeming murder and actual disappearance of Grand Head Truman Zanotto.

Their investigation in the Otherlobe, lost somewhere behind them in the tall skyscrapers of Suoh, hadn't really answered a lot of questions. All it did was give further evidence to the recently murdered Truman-y wasn't Truman at all; his office full of things that according to Lili her father would never touch, a lack of care for the plants (a pretty hard point for her), and the small fridge that had been tucked under the desk stocked with tons and tons of caviar. All which pointed to the imposter having been there for a while, and planning to be there for much longer.

Raz was thankful for his mental defenses, since it pulled double duty tonight, protecting him from the roving mental feelers of Psych-OSF squadrons and preventing Lili from catching stray thoughts. Because the way Raz saw it, the best case scenario was still that Truman went missing despite his high standing and important public position, with some opportunist deciding to take his place. Fake Truman being the real victim didn't mean Actual Truman wasn't still... dead... somewhere.

"It's the next left," Raz said to Lili, trying to distract himself now too.

Neither of the kids gave off any 'spooky Other monster' vibes - a totally real psychic term by the way - effectively making them rats in the alleys, almost beneath notice. All that mattered was good old-fashioned sneaking, sticking to shadows and avoiding noise. Avoiding non-talking noise at least. The occasional whisper of a direction or verbal check-in should be fine, right?

Despite some tense moments of hiding and biding for patrols to pass, the duo made it to the office building that Yuito had been guiding them to. There was a platoon loitering in the main street, so they couldn't waltz right in the front door. Raz gestured up to a fire escape. "You first?" They didn't need to go all the way up, that would've been conspicuous, they just needed to get to a window they could climb inside, and once they were there was no trouble in making the rest of the way up.

"We're back!" Raz called, maybe a bit too loudly, when they reached the hideout proper. From what they were told over Brain Speak, Yuito, Hanabi, and Roxas should still be there. Everyone else took a little impromptu vacation. Not that Raz would complain if he got one too, but they could've at least waited until the welcoming party.
581 Words
+1 EXP
Vandelay Campus - Signal Tower

Location: Midgar Sector 06, the City of Glass
Raz’s @Truthhurts22, Roxas’ @Double, Sakura’s @Zoey Boey, Sandalphon
Word Count: 4,142 - +5 EXP

Though a high-speed ride on the Flight Units through Vandelay’s skies could really get one’s heart rate up, it sure did get the Seekers from A to B. In no time they closed in on their destination, and they found it about as Sandalphon described. A mechanical bridge connected the rear of the towering Vandelay Building to what looked like a relatively new facility, judging by all the construction work that left much of its lower front a jumbled, slapdash mess. On top of that the bridge had been retracted, leaving nothing but a series of cranes, scaffolds, and rails between the two structures. That didn’t seem to be stopping a certain someone, though. Leaping and ninja running through the tangle of platforms and walls was a cyborg in pale green armor with just one mechanical arm, a katana at his hip in a high-tech scabbard, his dark hair done up in a ponytail, and his stubbly face plastered with a casual grin. He navigated the construction site as if it was child’s play, then with a final leap landed on the square walled-in arena on the retracted bridge’s far side.

“No use running,” he called breezily, crossing his arms. “How about we get this over with, Kale?”

On the other side of the arena, a tall businessman stopped onto a circular elevator surrounded by red glass. Then he turned, his lip curled in annoyance. Clad in a dapper black suit plus coat with red highlights, accessorized with gold, and boasting a marvelous head full of platinum-blonde hair, he looked every inch the high-profile corporate CEO. “I don’t have time for this,” he snapped.

The elevator doors closed, and as he began to rise three elite Vandelay robots dropped down in front of the elevator. Storm Owl, Overdrive Ostrich, and Burn Rooster ran forward and slid to a stop as a quartet of ES units flashed in, ready to brawl. At the same time, 9S and 2B swooped down to hover at the front of the arena so their passengers could get off. Then both switched their Flight Units to combat mode, their fearsome ink-black mechs looming over the battlefield like harbingers of death.

Sakura dropped down, happy to be back on solid ground. She stood up from her three point landing and pumped her fists, eyeing everyone on the field and ready for a fight.

Roxas followed suit immediately after. ”...” The hooded Keybearer glanced in Raz’s direction and his gloved hand tapped a finger on the side of his head to tell them both to listen to his thoughts. Try reading their minds. Something tells me they aren’t going to be very talkative.

Sam looked over his shoulder, stroking his goatee. He didn’t seem all that bothered. “Well. Looks like the cavalry’s here..”

Raz looked from Sam to Roxas real quick, giving the teen a nod. He’d do his best, at least, no telling how easy he could manage when the heat started. For now, Raz focused his telepathic waves towards Sam, able to concentrate during the calm before the storm.

Sandalphon quickly contacted the Seekers. “Whatever you do, don’t engage him here. Help him against these robots. You’ll have to ride up to reach Kale, and that’ll be your best chance to figure out where he stands.” Then she altered her broadcast, her voice ringing out across the arena as she addressed the swordsman directly.. “Jetstream Sam. We’re here to assist you with the takedown of Kale Vandelay.”

“No faith in me, eh?” He shrugged. “Suit yourself.”

Roxas flourished his Keyblades in a flash of black and white respectively. So far his thunder magic seemed pretty effective against all the robotic enemies, so he was ready to cast more of those if needed, ”Just think of us as… insurance.”

Sakura’s gung-ho energy skidded to a stop. They all looked super tough. She thought they were just going to throw down! Now she stood there, eyes wide, wondering if Jetstream Sam really bought that these three were his reinforcements.

”Think of us like a snowplow,” he said as he hurried past Sam to face Kale’s defense force, totally copping Roxas’s line. ”We’ll clear the way while you… uh, stretch your sword arm.”

The Keybearer didn’t wait around any longer. He sprinted forward, wanting to get himself in the midst of the enemy robots so that he could soften them up a bit with a good Thundaga spell. He needed to have as many of them around him as he could in order to catch as many as possible within the spell’s radius. ”Thundaga!”

Roxas managed to speed into the thick of things to call down a deluge of lightning bolts that struck all three Reploids and their ES entourage. His electric bombardment interrupted the sword-wielders as they went to attack and actually staggered Overdrive Ostrich in a burst of static, revealing some sort of weakness, but the two elites didn’t share that shortcoming. Stopping to cast in melee range put Roxas point-blank as Burn Rooster assaulted him with two heavy kicks wreathed in flame, the Reploid’s fiery crest burning with excitement. At the same time, Storm Owl hopped backward and into the air, taking aim with his arm cannon. Three yellow targeting lasers appeared in a spread pattern, and after a moment three feather projectiles shot out like giant crossbow bolts.

The Nobody couldn’t exactly say he was surprised by this turn of events. He did rush forward in order to get off an encompassing spell, and now he was going to have to deal with the consequences of that action. The heavy nature of Burn Rooster’s kick made them a bit telegraphed and simple enough for Roxas to avoid with a couple of quick dodge rolls. Then came the small volley of feather shots from Storm Owl at nearly the exact same time - delayed ever so slightly by the act of taking aim. Those were quicker but came in the form of a trio of straight shots going in three separate directions. Dodging was a little risker so instead Roxas stayed put and used his Keyblades to deflect the feather that fired directly at him, leaving the other two to miss due to the intended target remaining in one spot.

Once the initial shock wore off the four ES units charged forward to engage the enemy. With a lot more power, durability, and reach than the average SBR, they would punish the Seekers for focusing too much on the Reploids or give said Reploids the chance to attack if their enemies turned their attention on the ES units. One of them, however, made the mistake of going after Sam. The Wind of Destruction had jumped back out of the fray when Roxas fired off his miniature lightning storm so he wouldn’t get hit, but when the ES unit chased him down, Sam avoided its slash with ease. He dodged to the left, then ducked, then to the right as the robot kept swinging, only grinning as his attacker grew more frustrated. After a moment the ES went for a mighty two-handed slam, but that overextension proved to be its last mistake. Sam put his hand on his sword and fired some sort of mechanism in the scabbard, launching the blade into action like a bullet from a rifle in a draw attack that made the typical iaijutsu slash look like a knife through molasses. The halves of the ES parted ways in an instant, including its black box, and the robot practically exploded into ashes the next instant. Sam casually returned his weapon to its sheathe and turned his attention to the newcomers as they fought.

Roxas was quick to retaliate against the two Reploids he was pitted against. He aimed his Keyblade and shot a Blizzaga spell at the flying Storm Owl right as he saw Burn Rooster coming down on him with a drop kick while wrapped in flames. Roxas crossed his weapons and used them to block the brunt of the blow and spun himself into a circular Dual Counter slash. But this meant that Roxas didn’t see Storm Owl swooping down on him. Evidently he had dodged the Blizzaga spell and now the Reploid had grabbed Roxas by the shoulders with his robotic talons and rose up with the intention of slamming the Keybearer back down onto the ground and hard.

Sakura had seen that Roxas was going two on one and had given the ES-Units on her the shake by throwing him into a nearby wall and with an acrobatic flip. Now she quite literally leapt into action, looking to stop Roxas from taking a hit. She jumped high into the air to challenge Storm Owl with a strong punch to the chassis. Performing an air combo, she brought her leg around with a spin kick. ”Shunpukyaku!”

“Agh!” Storm Owl took a tumble, though to his credit he managed to keep a hold on Roxas until both of them hit the ground. The impact forced him to release the boy, and a second later the Reploid flapped to his feet, his hand on his dented shoulder. “Hoo dares!?”

”Me!” Sakura shouted, getting into her fighting stance. ”Always!” She kicked at Storm Owl to force him away from Roxas.

“Roadkill!” Overdrive Ostrich roared. Recovered from his nasty shock, he shot a wave of sonic cutters across the arena to threaten all three Seekers at once, then charged at Sakura like a linebacker. By that time Burn Rooster was back in action too, and he wanted a piece of Roxas badly. As he charged in to deliver a flurry of kicks, Storm Owl prepared to join in the fight against Sakura but settled on Raz instead. He fired out four vacuum vortexes like miniature cyclones from his arm cannon. They hung in the air for a moment before hurtling toward his target.

This was child’s play. Storm Owl chose one of the worst targets he could’ve. The whirlwinds, while fast, had enough of a delay for Raz to dive out of their way before they reached him, and he was able to counter with ranged attacks of his own, powerful Blasts bursting on its large frame. ”Hey Bird Brain! Time to get grounded!” In what was becoming a common tactic for him, Raz closed the distance between them with Mental Connection, pulling himself up to where Storm Owl hovered, and delivering a quick three-strike combo that finished with a psychic palm thrust downwards, tossing the robot to the floor.

Sakura got a taste of her own medicine as the sonic cutter struck her in the back. ”Itai!” She cried out, barely glancing over her shoulder with wide eyes to see Overdrive about to crash into her.

Burn Rooster’s heavy kicks were telegraphed enough to dodge at first, but had a tendency to pick up speed the more he used them consecutively. He also started wrapping his kicks in fire after the first few, making them more dangerous to block in addition to being harder to dodge. But nearby, Roxas heard Sakura’s cry and caught a glimpse of the trouble she was in. He wanted to help but the Keybearer would have to get away from Burn Rooster first. That’s when it struck him and he got an idea.

”Waterga!” he cried, hurling a dense mass of water at the fiery Reploid. Surely that would douse the flames and give Roxas a chance to put some distance between them. He took the risk and made a break for Sakura’s position as fast as his legs would carry him. He skidded to a stop next to Sakura and cast another spell, ”Thunder!” he cried, calling down another miniature lightning storm around himself and Sakura. Roxas had managed to notice earlier that lightning was particularly effective against the Ostrich and so he was banking on the Reploid running right into his Thundaga before he had time to stop himself.

Sakura had uncrossed her arms, the big hit she was anticipating hadn’t come. ”Nice!” She said to Roxas, the Ostrich blown away by the Thunder. She turned and blasted a Hadoken at the Burn Rooster, meeting blue fire with red and putting herself back to back with the Keybearer.

”It’s basically three on three- no problem!” Sakura said confidently. She ran towards Burn Rooster and began exchanging blows. The Reploid was fast, strong, and powerful, but in Sakura’s opinion, predictable. Before it could get started on its blazing offense she powered through with an inky black Focus Attack, crumpling it with a flying knee. After that she began a series of her own spinning kicks that never seemed to stop, and when they did, it was only to provoke a reaction that would lead to me. ”Shunpukyaku! Shunpukyaku! Shunpukyaku!” She yelled as the combos went on.

Overdrive Ostrich, meanwhile, was proving to be a nuisance. When he was stunned by the initial Thundaga, Roxas was able to get at him with a flurry of Keyblade slashes. But once the Reploid was back on his feet he took off in a dead sprint, too fast for Roxas to keep up with him. He’d gotten smart, too, deliberately using his superior running speed to keep himself outside of the Keybearer’s Thundaga range to avoid another mishap. And on top of that, he was throwing occasional cutting spinners at Roxas from his range. Those were fairly easy to see coming and either dodge or reflect. But then the Ostrich changed up his tactics and made a leap into the air and clear over Roxas’s head. While in midair he dropped a group of cutting spinners directly down onto his opponent from above.

Roxas had to dive to the side to avoid the brunt of the attack. But he wasn’t able to avoid it completely. One of those cutting spinners got him across the leg mid dive. It hurt, but it wasn’t a lot of damage. Seemed like Overdrive Ostrich was designed for raw speed over power. So a single spinner wouldn’t deal a lot of damage on his own. But if this kept up he could certainly inflict death by a thousand cuts.

Having been tenderized by Raz, Storm Owl pulled out all the stops. He surrounded himself in a vacuum of wind blades as he flew toward the Psychonaut, then began to belt out barrages of cyclonic vortexes in four directions. After a brief moment, the streams began to rotate as well, forcing the boy to dodge like his life depended on it. He would learn the hard way, however, that Storm Owl wasn’t vulnerable during this attack. The vacuum deflected his projectiles, and when he tried to strike the currents sent him spinning. “My trump card!” Coming to a stop, the Reploid thrust out his hand. Three vortexes span up beneath Raz before erupting into a trio of tornadoes. “You’ll pay for making enemies out of us!”

Sam smirked as he watched this unfold, running his hand along his stubble-lined jaw. “I thought you three were here to help me?” Shaking his head in mock disappointment, he put a hand on his blade’s hilt. “Well, allow me to show you how it’s done.”

His scabbard’s trigger mechanism went off with a bang, and he shot forward through the gale in a dark red blur. Storm Owl scarcely got the chance to process what happened before his cannon arm split in half. “What the-!” Beak clenched, he tightened his fist and threw a weighty hook punch right at Sam’s big, shit-eating grin. The swordsman just slipped backward out of the way, his katana flashing upward as he did, and the next moment Storm Owl’s other forearm hit the floor. With his blade poised above his head, Sam took just a second to grip the hilt with both hands and adjust his aim. His weapon vibrated at a fever pitch, practically singing as it gained a bright orange glow. Then it came down, and the Reploid’s left and right halves fell apart, his dying groans fizzled out into static.
”Whoaaa,” Raz said, having already adopted a kicking-ass pose. ”That was super cool!”

”Oh, how nice of you to finally get off your butt and do something!” Roxas shouted at Sam in a snappy tone. He wasn’t blind to the fact that the guy had spent most of the fight standing there and watching them. But it was better to direct that frustration at his current opponent - who was once again making another leap over Roxas’s head, ”Oh no you don’t!” the Keybearer shouted as he jumped straight up and put himself directly in the Ostrich’s jumping arc, ”Gotcha! he taunted as he called another Thundaga. Ostrich was already midair and it was far too late to avoid it. Sparks and static spewed from the Reploid’s body as he crashed back down onto the ground.

”You’re done!” shouted Roxas, even before he himself could land he changed into an orb of light that streaked down and homed in on the stunned Reploid. As soon as he collided with him, Roxas hit the Ostrich with a powerful Cross Slash technique. And then followed that up with another flurry of Keyblade slashes and slices. Roxas turned out to be speaking the truth; after so much lightning and a healthy serving of blunt-force trauma to boot, Overdrive Ostrich went down, having never really gotten the chance to strut his stuff in the first place.

Sakura shook off a kick to the noggin, the Reploid zooming past her as she dodged his follow up kick. She was less eager to talk poorly to Sam after seeing him decimate the Reploid so easily. In fact, it was a pretty intimidating sight. Oh, man. Sakura thought to Raz. Let’s hope this Sam guy listens to reason. I don’t think the three of us could beat him on our own if he turns that sword on us.

Nah, we’d totally wreck him, Raz replied while doing his own super cool fight stuff, trust me.

Ducking another kick, she interrupted the follow up combo with an EX-Shouoken, blasting the Reploid backwards with a double launching uppercut. “GYAH!” Burn Rooter screeched as he sailed away, though he managed to right himself in the air in order to launch another attack. He shot his crest down at Sakura to whir like a flaming sawblade, then landed against the surface of the red-glass elevator. He kicked off, leaping through the air, and the moment after his crest returned to him he came down with his Overdrive Attack. When his axe kick struck the ground, it let rip an enormous tornado of flame. Then he dashed through the flame, charging toward Sakura and Roxas in a bid to kick them into his raging inferno, one at a time.

Sakura recovered from her uppercut, and unused to opponents who could shake off the strike like that, dashed forward only to catch a flaming crest to her chest. ”Oof!” She landed on the ground with a thud and backflipped to her feet in a second flat, watching Rooster perform his tornado move.

As Burn Rooster charged, Sakura moved forward quickly, meeting his charge with footwork. Her eyes narrows as he went in for a spinning kick. Sakura jumped backwards over the kick, the heat searing beneath her. Flipping over she brought her intertwined fists on the Reploid’s head like an anvil. Landing on her feet she kept her fists intertwined and like a pendulum swing them into the lower part of his head. ”Shouoken!” She exploded upwards with another launching uppercut. This time however, she launched him towards Roxas! That way he wouldn’t be able to recover in time to do a special move mid-air.

Not wanting to consume anymore magic, Roxas responded in the only other way he could. He launched himself forward toward the incoming Burn Rooster. He held both Keyblades inward and sliced them outward while his trajectory was crossing paths with Burn Rooster’s. With all that momentum, it was hard not to slice straight through the Reploid’s body. Though they looked primarily like blunt weapons, they were in fact called Keyblades for a reason.

Sakura flinched, covering her eyes and peeking through her fingers. Her coordinated attack with Roxas had done the trick, and with the Keyblade wielder’s climactic finishing move, Burn Rooster’d fiery rampage came to an abrupt end. Flaming fragments and ash rained down across the battlefield -Roxas had evidently destroyed the Reploid’s black box with that final blow- and his spirit drifted down soon after.

With the last of the robotic enemies dispatched, Sam gave an amused nod. “Not bad, not bad.” He then sauntered toward the elevator. “I appreciate you polishing off the appetizers for me–I had to save room for the main course.” Once on board, he turned around to smirk at the Seekers, beckoning for them to join him. “You haven’t had your fill yet, have you? The best is yet to come.”

”We were sent to help you, weren’t we?” Roxas answered as he knelt down to pick up the spirit left behind by Burn Rooster. Then he jogged over and entered the elevator, ”That means we aren’t done until you are.” He fidgeted with the Spirit a little as he said this. It was the first one he had ever actually picked up himself. He still didn’t fully understand how they worked, even though he knew how to make them fuse with him and other things. But he shuddered a bit. He was iffy about fusing with Spirits, and besides, that was illegal here in Midgar so he obviously couldn’t do that in front of Sam.

He had no idea what the law was regarding Strikers though, so maybe he could do that? Once everyone was inside, Roxas decided to use the last of his magic to cast a quick Curaga on everyone in case it was needed. He figured the elevator ride would give his magic enough time to recharge so that he wouldn’t have to wait for it to do so in the middle of battle.

Sakura let out a breath and ran her hand through her brown hair. ”We won…” She said, relieved. But it was a little too early for a full celebration. Sakura saw Roxas pick up the Burn Rooster’s spirit, and she cast an eye over to Overdrive Ostrich’s little orb. She wasn’t interested in becoming part robot, let alone part ostrich. But maybe he could be convinced to join her as a Striker? Walking over, she scooped up the spirit and considered it. It was time for an awkward elevator ride with a scary face guy. Sakura went on into the elevator and grabbed her elbow behind her back.

”I know fusing is against the law,” She said. ”But what about Strikers? Like getting them to fight on your team and stuff? Is that against the law?” She asked.

“Strikers?” Assuming the question was meant for her, Sandalphon ran a quick query against her mind’s ‘database’. “If you’re referring to the spirit phenomenon known as ‘Assists’, the same rule applies to them, I believe. Forbidden.” Sandalphon paused for a moment, perhaps connecting and saying something to another team. “Of course, it’s much more difficult to detect compared to fusion. Add in the fact that there are plenty of people out there with summoning abilities naturally, and the line is even more blurred. Rendering the law against Assists essentially toothless due to the abundance of false positives.”

”R-right, okay. Thank you, Halo. San.” Sakura said, hiding the spirit behind her back.

With Vandelay’s line of defense thoroughly trashed Raz looked up at the elevator he used to run away. ”Y’think we’re talking into some kinda trap?” Before anyone could answer he waved it away. ”Psht, nothin’ we can’t handle. Let’s go!”

Lv. 3

Pizza Tower

Having expended so much effort to get the group's cheese, Ichiban wasn't super thrilled to do the next task of making a bunch of pizzas for some picky troll guys. "Man, I was never good at this sorta logic stuff," he muttered, though he still invested in trying to figure it out, so he wasn't part of the gang's storytelling circle. He felt like he did enough of that last night anyways.

After a point where Ichiban was about ready to start throwing down with these tree things for how difficult they were being, a new route ahead was made clear. "Oh, we don't gotta deal with these guys then?" Ichiban wanted to go and gloat to them, but the relief at being able to avoid more pizza puzzles made him happy enough to let go of the grudge. He decided to leave them with a few toppings they hadn't used for any of their own pizzas yet. "Here y'guys are, hope you can figure it out yourselves."

With all of their own rations made, Ichiban was eager to get the party moving, sticking close to the front as they all were lead through some of the Staff Only doors. "Mask Fragments," Ichiban mused, "you guys were talkin' about them before. This Egg place you need 'em for, is that where this Guardian guy is?" He felt like he was really getting the hang of how the world worked.

Once everyone made it to the boss room, Ichiban whipped out his phone. "Oh sweet, a new job was added!" He tip-tapped his phone for a second, before in a flash of light he donned this new job, coming out with a fancy black suit, thin sunglasses, and a freaking katana. "Awesome! This'll be perfect for slicin' up some mean pizza monsters!" He stanced up, sword held high. "You guys go after the big dude, I'll cover ya from that smaller ones!" He charged into the fray, slashing and slicing up Cheeseslimes and Fork Knights alike, though less goopy enemies would be a bit tougher to cut through alone.
357 Words
+1 EXP

Rank 7
13 / 70 EXP

Midgar - SOU Hideout

With the day so chock full of action and intrigue, Raz was ready to hit the hay, but there was a lot to go over first, least of all being dinner. Eating a lot in short notice was a skill you pick up when your family owns a circus, so Raz cobbled together a tall multi-layer sandwich out of coldcuts that he balanced over to the main meeting table or wherever they were going to be hashing stuff out. He picked away at his food while Goldlewis debriefed the rest on the debate, meaning there were several moments where Raz helped fill in the gaps with a full mouth, but luckily everything was settled without much left out. When the debrief was over Raz still had a decent double-decker sandwich to go, which he was about to finish off when everyone else started discussing what to do next.

"Well I don't assume I know how these Consul guys think," Raz pitched in, sandwich halfway to his mouth, "but I feel like they have everything they don't have access to in their own world? This place is every world after all. Back where I'm from we don't have anything like sentient robots, magic, or Pokémon," he continued, gesturing to whoever in the room best fit the description. "It's probably the same for Happy Chaos and all the rest. Something here they really, really want to keep. For all we know there's some, life-saving medicine for them, or they met their soulmate here." Look at his lunchmeat concoction, Raz put it back on his plate. "Not that it excuses them helping Galeem or messing with everyone else."

His appetite continued to shrink as Zenkichi and Geralt went over everything with Konoe. He drummed the table with his fingers. Raz didn't like the idea of manipulating Happy Chaos, or any of the other Consul, with whatever mental illnesses they had, but that felt like a discussion for a different time. The more pressing bit was one that Zenkichi asked him specifically. "Oh, man," Raz muttered, "I probably shouldn't have said anything. It just felt relevant at the time." Feeling that all eyes were on him now, Raz couldn't not elaborate. He produced his Psycho-Portal, holding it up for everyone to see.

"I don't think you were around when I mentioned it to everyone else, Detective, but me and my fellow Psychonauts have this device that lets his astral project into people's minds. It lets us travel their psyche and help with any mental issues they have. So, uhh, earlier, when you mentioned Konoe having a ton of guilt driving his actions, it sorta popped into my head that I could be able to help him come to terms with it." Now sheepish, Raz set the portal down on the table. He glanced at Sakura, but didn't say anything about his excursion into her mind the other day. "It's a real big responsibility though. It wouldn't be right for me to go into anyone's brain without them being okay with it. It's supposed to be a way to help people, not a tool to deal with a problem."

With a nervous chuckle Raz returned to his sandwich, a little less enthusiastically than before. Midna brought up the Psych-OSF rebellion, which he was quick to jump on after. "We need to go back to Psych-OSF! Even if we can't find the rebels or Supernatural Life, we can still get to the conspiracy Shinra has there. When I was reading his mind earlier he mentioned Zanotto, the Grand Head of the Psychonauts. I'm thinking that if we can get to him, we can get to the larger plot, and we can figure out how they're turning people into Others, and try from there?" There was a little selfishness in the request, which hopefully nobody would pick up on. "And me and Sakura have to report in anyways, I think. We're kinda part of their most important faction and all."
663 Words
+1 EXP

Lv. 3

Pizza Tower - Ancient Cheese

Breaching the level's entrance, Ichiban stopped a few steps in to take in his surroundings. A large swath of ancient ruins sat before him, each brick a piece of cheese, each statue or decoration lovingly sculpted out of cheese, and generally just being very, very cheesy. Mold grew on a lot of the ruins, taking the appearance of overgrown vegetation. "Eugh, I hate bleu cheese," Ichiban grumbled. "But I guess I can't leave it out in case those trolls like it."

Having expected a serious scuffle to obtain his cheese, Ichiban found that the level wasn't all to hostile towards him. The hardest part was getting around - he was forced to take circuitous routes, clamber up helpfully guide-marked brick walls, leap across chasms, and etc. But the enemies left him alone, for the most part, a veritable army of Cheeseslimes milling around the space, too clueless to do anything except gloop around and stare vacantly upwards. Their biggest threat was slipping Ichiban up and sending him plummeting to his cheesy doom.

Meandering and bumbling his way through the obstacle course of ruins, Ichiban had plenty of time to both admire the locale and collect the goods. Hunks of various cheeses were easily broken off from the walls (sometimes as handhelds that came right off in moments of sheer terror), which Ichiban greedily stuffed in his sacks. He walked through a delicately detailed courtyard about halfway through the level. "Jackpot!" He took his time, since it seemed like nothing was after him just yet, taking provolone pedestal toppers and feta frescos for the loot. He didn't want to linger too much, though, everyone was counting on him!

Eventually, Ichiban reached the level's Pillar John, taking only a second to contemplate the living, sentient, heavy-breathing support structure before turning his attention to his task. "Man, I dunno if I can grab enough cheese," he thought aloud. Already he was nearing full capacity and barely had enough for a dozen pies. "Two bags wasn't enough at all. Maybe I can come back for round two?" Steeling his nerve, Ichiban charged the Pillar John, bashing into it with a heavy dropkick, toppling him right over. The whole room - the entire ruins - rumbled ominously. "Guess that's my cue to book it!"

Ichiban turned about face and sprinted the way he came. He was dreading the climb back down, but huge blocks of tiny purple faces had appeared in his path, helpfully(?) funneling him down a completely different route, one that was more straightforward to get around, though still lousy with obnoxious Cheeseslimes and precarious platforming. Still, Ichiban was prepared from the trek through the level the first time, so as the clock ticked down he traversed his way back to the exit with ease. Just as he neared the wonderful sight of the open doorway, he skidded to a halt, kicking up a dustcloud of cheese. Right across from the exit, a few paces and one large leap away, was a tall tower made, much the same as the rest of the ruins, out of cheese.

He barely had to think twice. He tossed both full sacks of cheese through the doorway before turning towards the tower: his new target. "Alright you leanin' tower of pizza," he taunted the inanimate building, "let's do this!!"

A dash, a yell, and a leap, Ichiban soared through the air for the second time in the same amount of days, crashing through some brittle brie bars, tumbling into a middle floor of the tower. Wasting as little time as possible, with mere seconds left for Pizza Time, Ichiban rushed down several flights of stairs to a lower floor, around the second or third, and started to beat into the wall. "Take! This! You! Stupid! Tower!" Ichiban punched and kicked the blocks of cheeses making up the tower, succeeding in wedging them loose and knocking them freeze, like a sticky game of Jenga. Eventually Ichiban had bashed enough bricks away to cause the structure to shift: it was about to topple, and that meant it was time to run again. Ichiban hurried back up the stairs as the tower tilted, steadily at first, then suddenly all at once as its weight came down on its weakened foundation.

"Shit shit shit shit shit shit-" Ichiban took the stairs three at a time, just as a long, droning ding sounded, followed by a malicious laughter coming from everywhere at once. "Aw hell!" Ichiban was thrown down as the tower fell, aimed right for where the exit sat, door wide open for anyone - or anything - to leave through.

A thunderous crash rose in volume from the other side of the level's entrance, and with it came a total avalanche of cheese, bricks and hunks and peddles worth of it crashing through into the hall. After the cheese dust settled, a massive pile of the stuff sat, blocking up Ancient Cheese's entrance entirely. Ichiban was nowhere in sight.

...until a section of the cheese pile shivered, and an arm burst through the side, one in a maroon sleeve, giving one hell of a thumbs up.

Level clear!
892 Words
+2 EXP
Beneath the Mask VI

Location:The City of Glass - Vandelay Campus
Attendees: Susie, Raz, Goldlewis, Zenkichi, Roxas, Midna, Karin
Viewers: Blazermate, Tora, Giovanna, Geralt, Sakura, Pit, Benedict, Partitio
Word Count: 2276 (+3)

Throughout the debate so far, the moderator had mostly skated through the proceedings as a non-entity, a fixture of the building enabling what people actually wanted to see, like a microphone or stage light. Now, however, people were starting to pay attention to him. Beneath his businesslike brown mustache lay a slight smile, almost smug-looking, as he smoothed over his hair. It was time for question number six.

That’s it! Roxas thought. The moderator seemed to be the only person who wasn’t surprised by that last question! But why would that be? Unless…

“Psst, hey Raz?” Roxas whispered to the Psychonaut with a nudge of his elbow, “Could you do me a favor and scan the moderator’s thoughts? Something about him isn’t sitting right with me. Call it a hunch, I guess.”

Following Roxas’s hunch, Raz’s next target for mind-reading wasn’t Armstrong or Shinra, but the moderator, asking questions nobody expected to be asked. When he tried, however, he drew a complete blank. There were no loose ends or stray thoughts to delicately tweeze out between his probing fingers; it was like he hit a solid wall, blocking off all access to the moderator’s thoughts. ”That’s strange,” Raz whispered to his friends, ”I can’t get a read on the moderator. His mind’s… armored like a tank.” He scoffed a little at his borrowed turn of phrase.

“Hmm…” was all Roxas responded with for the time being. He’d hold his full thoughts for the time being.

”You can’t?” Karin asked, remembering Raz being powerful enough to enter and change someone’s mind from within. ”Surely that suggests he’s powerful? Or at least being protected by someone who is?” Karin leaned over to Raz, but had her eyes locked on Armstrong, Shinra, and the moderator.

”It definitely takes some training to protect against a psychic’s telepathy,” Raz answered. ”So either he’s very good at his job, or something fishy is going on.”

”At the very least, he’s no ordinary moderator.” Karin said. ”The two candidates have no such protection, yes? And it’s not as if they don’t know telepaths exist. It’s something about him in particular.”

”I suppose we have a target to interrogate, assuming he isn’t the guardian himself. That would be quite odd though, unless said guardian was bored. Hmm…. Susie muttered, noting what was happening.

“Moving right along then, gentlemen. After the Ever Crisis and the enemies both inside and out putting the city’s safety and jeopardy, another major concern for the people is Midgar’s continued stability. Mr. President, Senator, what is the source…” Udo looked up from his papers to petition the candidates for an answer. “Of Midgar’s power? You first, Shinra.”

The question perturbed the incumbent greatly. “What is this, some manner of quiz show? The answer is patently obvious, who could’ve possibly asked-”

Armstrong shrugged casually, looking out into the distance. “Hey, if you don’t know…”

“Ahem!” Shinra straightened his suit jacket officiously. “For the sake of posterity, I’ll answer it. The source of Midgar’s power is Mako energy, of course. Clean, reliable, affordable Mako energy. The cornerstone -indeed, the very lifeblood- of the Shinra Electric Power Company that serves as this city’s beating heart. Virtually limitless in supply, it -and my company- ensure that Midgar will never go dark. Not in a year, ten years, or a hundred years. Thanks to Mako, Shinra Electric will always light the way to the future.”

His response got a chuckle out of Armstrong. “I feel like I just watched a commercial. You might be technically correct, Mr. President, but being correct doesn’t make you right. The source of Midgar’s power -of its greatness- has never been any kind of fuel. No, this city owes everything to just one, singular miracle: its people. Their courage, their strength, their never-say-die attitude, even in the face of dire circumstances, wanton tyranny, and eternal war. The people are the source of Midgar’s power, and once they’re free of the shackles of corporate elitism, they ‘ll make Midgar great again!”

Roland thought such a question was odd. This moderator was already acting suspicious by trying to humiliate Shinra. Either he had a death wish and was just messing with him, or was possibly some… hostile element. A syndicate perhaps? He’d have to keep an eye on this one for the time being, he seemed more of a threat than Armstrong and his bald entourage.

While initially Goldlewis felt like dismissing this whole segment as a wash thanks to the bizarrely uninformative question and the candidates’ nothing-burger replies, something about it stuck with him. He couldn’t shake the gnawing sensation that there was more to this segment than met the eye. Since he lacked any information that could be used to repudiate either man’s claims, he found himself replaying the moderator’s question in his head. The source…

Suddenly a chill ran down his spine, and the hairs on the back of Goldlewis’ neck rose. The words of the black-coated stranger flooded back to him. “‘Look for the source’,” he murmured. Those exact words, plus the moderator’s strange questions, sent his mind into overdrive. Like everyone else, he assumed that the mysterious stranger meant the source of the Ever Crisis. So far that line of thinking seemed promising, thanks to the various threads that seemed to link elements of the Ever Crisis back to Midgar itself. But what if it had all been a red herring? He remembered the press passes, delivered to the Seekers’ brand-new secret hideout out of nowhere. Someone wanted them here, someone who knew things and possessed the kind of clout few did. And now, both the candidates and the moderator had let slip similarly erudite information, seemingly for nobody’s benefit. Except theirs.

“Somethin’ ain’t right,” he whispered, looking around. That dreadfully familiar sinking feeling had settled over him. Like the boat he’d been sailing on had already been scuppered, and the water was pooling around his feet. Where was Midna–if she’d seen something, he needed to know, and fast.

”You don’t have to tell me, it feels like this is building to something, yet there’s nothing out of sorts going on. Yet.” Midna whispered back, the princess having returned as the question ended due to the pause/hubbub it generated being good cover to relay information. She herself wasn’t feeling much better, though her emotions were more of a straining water tank, its wood buckling and yet the valve that would release the pressure was stuck tight.

As bad a thought as it was, she almost wanted something to happen, in order to release that pressure.

”Threes. Things that come in threes carry weight,” she said, drawing both from rhetoric and religion for that prediction ”so if I was orchestrating this, and had something I wanted to do to make an impact, I’d do it at the end of the the third act”

”You don’t think someone’s waiting for something to happen, do you? Maybe they’re trying to start a riot and are… warning us?” With the moderator’s brain protected from him and the strange thoughts he first picked up - someone who noticed him and talked back - a shiver ran up Raz’s spine. ”Somebody was prepared for us being here. If they just wanted to get info out of Shinra and Armstrong they didn’t need us for it. Why d’ya think they did that?”

“It’s him.” Roxas said suddenly, pointing his finger in the direction of the moderator so the other Seekers would know who he was referring to, “Ever since the last question something about that guy hasn’t sat right with me.” he explained to them, “I wasn’t sure at first until Mr. Dickinson asked who submitted that sixth question. That’s when it dawned on me that he was the only person who wasn’t surprised at all by the question, so I asked Raz to scan his thoughts. And it turns out he’s protected somehow. It has to be him. I just… don’t know how or why.”

”You think so? I mean he could be, but I don’t think he’s looked at us at all since we got here. He is pretty suspicious though.” Raz shuffled around under his oversized hoodie, producing his Psycho Portal for all to see. ”I could get a more direct peek into the moderator’s head,” he offered, ”since this seems pretty important. There’s a few more questions left, right? It shouldn’t take too long. I think.”

Goldlewis glanced at him, his face apprehensive. Even if it wouldn’t take long, there wasn’t much time; the next question was coming any second now. “Don’t do anythin’ that’d put us in jeopardy. ‘Specially yourself,” he cautioned.

”Nobody’s seen me yet, so I’ll keep keeping a lookout” Midna said, and then she was gone right as the next question started to be aired.

Zenkichi’s hands were steeped together, brows furrowed as he tried putting the pieces together. He was a PubSec Investigator, dammit! He could figure this out! The Source. What was the Source? The obvious answer was Galeem- the source of this created world, the source of literally everything going on in it, but what was too obvious. The source of the Ever Crisis was a mystery to everybody in Midgar, and he wasn’t going to try and crack it. Not enough info, not enough time. This wasn’t an unsolvable puzzle, they’d been given a direct line to this place, a firsthand look at everything going on here. Armstrong said the people were the source of Midgar’s power. A populist answer, if correct as the basis of Democracy. Shinra went more literal, with his company- and Mako- being his answer.

But what if the answer was both? The walking fortress that stole the life force of the dead in the war, Mako, the lifeblood of the planet (according to Avalanche, at least). What if the source was life energy? Spirits had to, theoretically, contain a pretty massive amount of energy inside them to be able to be used for Fusion, to fundamentally alter the essence of a living creature. What if Nox, the master of that walking fortress, was taking the energy from Spirits and using it to power whatever it was he was planning? That…could be pretty bad. But before he could say anything, the next question began.

”We had better get ready for what's to come if whatever this is wants us here. This could all be a trap we’ve stumbled into. Although who would even set it? This could be an opportunity, since we were just spinning our wheels here, at the end of the day.” Susie said, with the same mumbling thoughts that the rest could hear, but not those too far from her.

Karin leaned forward in her chair, folding her fingers together underneath her chin, her eyes alight and her smile widening.

Geralt sat there, in stunned silence, his head cocked to the side. “Is it just me, or are these questions becoming more asinine? This…doesn’t make sense.” He hummed, thoughts going around his head. “Either whoever picked these questions is having a laugh at everybody’s expense, or there’s more going on here. What’s the source of Midgar’s power? What even is Mako, Giovanna? Does anybody other than Shinra actually know? Or is it some big secret they don’t let anybody in on?” His eyes were narrowed on the moderator, wondering why he was bothering to ask these bizarre questions, and why they were chosen.

“This not normal question, meh?” Tora asked. He really had zero frame of reference when it came to political events like these.

Though she’d only been half-listening to most of the debate, Giovanna couldn’t disguise the fact that its direction was confusing her as well. “Some sort of fuel, I think. Comes from the ground, and they process it or something in their reactors. Powers the whole city. At least, that’s what I’ve heard.” She didn’t feel the need to join the cavalcade of people stating aloud how weird this was. Instead she scrunched her brows together trying to think of why. “No way it’s just some curious -or ignorant- citizen. The moderator would’ve screened it out. Whoever he is, he’s doing this on purpose. If it was making just one of ‘em look bad I’d get it, but both?” She tilted her head. “Does anyone remember what he said his name was, back at the start?”

Sakura just threw another dart, this one closer to center. She was only paying attention to what the people she knew were saying, and was tuning out the debate itself.

“No, I don’t remember. I wasn’t paying it any mind…hmm.” Geralt’s face scrunched up a bit, but he didn’t quite have any idea what was going on. He could tell something was strange, but he was missing a few bits of context to really make any actual guesses as to what. Giovanna pursed her lips. There was a chance that she could call into base and have someone run a search on the moderator’s name if she knew it, but now she’d just have to wait and see for herself.

Level 4 (XP: 12/40)
Level Up!

Edinburgh MagikaPolis - Grammeowster’s Kitchen

"We did our best," Wonder Red offered once everyone came to their senses, "and we've learned valuable intel. As far as I'm concerned, we haven't failed yet." Wonder Red had doubts, such as how their encounter may have marked them as a larger threat to the Consuls and could bring harsher retaliation than they've already faced, but he didn't want to dwell on them or put them into the team's heads. "Plus we didn't leave empty handed." He raised a hand to Mewtwo. "We saved those two civilians from Consul L's collection. Albedo," he addressed the geomancer, "you're an alchemist, correct? Do you think you'd be able to bring them out of their frozen state?"

All this time Wonder Red was thinking 'if only'. If only the Virgin Victory was there with them to provide support. If only Professor Shirogane were here to concoct a solution to Consul N's Latency. But... no, it would be selfish of him to wish Commander Nelson and the VV were with them. They were of much more use to Alcamoth, especially after its destruction.

"I've heard some information about Linkle," Red commented on the new goal they had. "Though I wasn't fully debriefed on her situation. If you think she'd be open to talking with us, it's worth a try." He straightened his gauntlets, checking them over for damage, then going over the rest of his suit. The other downside to not having his usual support was the upkeep of the CENTINEL suit. For now it held, but scratches and cuts exposed its pulsing neon circuitry. It was engineered to maintain power in spite of heavy damage, though Red made a mental note to be more cautious in the future.

"We may need an advantage if we have to fight her," Wonder Red noted, "as much as I hope it doesn't come to that. She seems exceptionally powerful."
323 Words
+1 EXP
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