Tora, Poppi and Big Band
Level 8 Poppi (72/80) and Level 2 Big Band (10/20)
Location: Sandswept Sky - Al Mamoon
Primrose's @Yankee, Fox's @Dawnrider, Sectonia's @Archmage MC, Midna's @DracoLunaris, Yoshitsune's @Rockin Strings, Red’s @TheDemonHound, Laharl’s @Dark Cloud
Word Count: 850
With Tora, Braum, and Yoshitsune -fresh back from a visit to the bazaar after his business at the forge- all caught up to speed, the reunited group could finally split up once more. Midna steered them away from the train platforms where the Conductor remained and toward the entrance, where a few rows of handy benches just out of the way of foot traffic provided a place for those weary of walking around the city to rest their legs for a moment. Poppi felt no fatigue of her own, but when Tora hopped up and plopped down into a chair she seated himself right as his side. He lifted his new friend the Downy Crake from where it sat in comfort atop his head. “How doing, Pufi?” he asked, stroking the bird’s luxuriously soft feathers with a wing. “Hungry? What does Pufi eat?”
Pufi, however, kept his silence, so Tora kept petting him. He winced when Big Band seated himself across the aisle, his weight causing the bench to issue a protesting crack even when applied gingerly. The detective raised one leg and laid it across the other, giving many of the group the chance to realize for the first time that both appeared to be wholly artificial. If it put Braum off, however, he gave no sign, happily seated himself by his fellow big man. He leaned his shield against his knees, long edge on the ground, and bent forward to rest his elbows on it. “Hooh!” he exhaled mightily. “I’m sweltering in this desert heat, even indoors. My frozen homeland left me ill-prepared; for all my time with the REDs and BLUs, I’m still not used to it. Look at this sunburn!” He rubbed at the peeling skin on his shoulder, then nodded at Band. “I can’t imagine what you must be going through!”
Band chuckled. “It ain’t so bad for me. If I run hot, my coolers kick in to keep me from overheatin’, so I’m always feelin’ sweet ‘n lovely.” He took a deep breath in and out, then planted his crossed leg back to the floor to lean forward. “Then again, we can’t get too comfortable. We’ve got some business to take care of.”
Poppi clasped her hands together on her lap. “So, everyone going to try find rebellion members?”
“Oh no, not by a long shot,” Band told her. “If someone doesn’t wanna be found, they’ll hit the tracks the moment they see folks’re out lookin’.”
With a concerned look Poppi tried to think of alternative. “That mean we need think of other way to find them than just look around…”
Her seriousness seemed to put Band in a jovial mood. “Nah, that means we just gotta swing low, sweet chariot. Groups of three or four oughta do the trick. Small, agile, less conspicuous. And we can’t just futz around askin’ about ‘em outright. We gotta be a little smarter.” The big man took a look at Fox. “Not tryin’ to take control or anything, just speakin’ from experience. Long nights ‘neath that old devil moon.”
Tora could count a lot more people present than three or four, and he guessed that their knowledgeable new friend did too, although what he meant by ‘sweet chariot’ he had yet to fathom. “What about rest of us?”
Band looked back down the platform. “That Conductor already told you. But guessin’ from the chit-chat right before we waltzed to the temple, you all got some light pockets. Could knock out a few commissions in the meantime.” He produced a tiny metal arm from within his coat and pointed toward a board by the station door. A bulletin hung there with an assortment of job posters tacked onto it, offering a handful of miscellaneous tasks for anyone with time and wallet space to spare.
Notice: special commissions known as Bounties on offer in the palace. Inquire within.
- Deliverers Needed - a big shipment of fresh fruit is arriving by train from the Grove. With four of my workers still injured from the bombing two days ago, I need extra hands to get the fruit to my storehouse for processing before it can go bad. 30G apiece
- Investigation - Last night there was something inside the old church again. It’s been abandoned for months now and holed up tight, but I know I heard something, and saw some light. Find out whatever’s in there so I can sleep easy at night. 50G
- Missing Dog - Yesterday my beloved dog got loose. A few friends came over and the door didn’t quite shut. He’s big and white with brown spots, friendly, answers to ‘Cheese Legs’. He loves to be chased, so expect him to sprint away if you run at him. 75G
“I didn’t happen to take note of the Bounties when we’re in there, but those are on the table, too. Seems like a tough bunch here,” the detective observed.
Panther took the opportunity to speak up. “Fun as that all sounds, I should go look for the guys. They’re probably goofing off somewhere without me.” She sounded more remorseful than reproachful, as if she was missing out. Having only warmed up to a few of the Yellow Team members so far, she’d been out of her element among the rest of them and not very impactful during the exchange with the Grimleal. “If anyone wants to lend a hand, I’d really appreciate it!” Though she mentioned nobody in particular, the direction of her gaze made it clear who she’d prefer.
“Whatever your business is, you get about it, and I’ll hop to mine.” With a grunt Big Band leveraged himself onto his feet, reattaining his impressive full height.
His imminent departure left Tora looking surprised. “Going already?”
Band glanced his way as though the Nopon had asked an obvious question. “From the clock's chime to the cock's crow is but an instant. I must go.”
Following his lead Tora and Poppi got to their feet. “Maybe Masterpon leave work that needs discretion to others,” the artificial blade teased.
“Hmph! Tora super good at discretion. Tora up for just about anything, really” the Nopon declared. “Tough enough for bounties, for sure. Who need help?”
Al Mamoon - Palatial Gallery
From her position Jesse could cut through the chaos, but seeing the mad scientist just about to make his getaway and stopping it were two different things. Her yell caught the Phantom Thieves in the midst of the pandemonium, turning their attention upward. For a brief moment Joker’s eyebrows went up as he realized the culprit was on the verge of getting away, and with his trophy to boot, but his expression turned to determination the next second. Not on his watch.
“I got it!” He called, extended his arm upward. Rather than sending forth his grappling hook to grab an opportune hold up high, however, his device coughed up only a short section of cord. Joker stared at it in dismay--he hadn’t internalized that his hook broke in the upswell. “Or...don’t got it,” he growled.
Skull shook his head with a snicker, “Man, you gotta get that fixed. Guess it’s on us.” He ducked out of the way of an errant thruster, then beckoned the feline over. “C’mere kitty cat, it’s time for the Morgana Space Program!”
“I’m not a cat!” Mona scolded him, but he came nonetheless. He ran and jumped into Skull’s arms, and the boy spun around once, twice, before hurling Mona upward. Grinning from ear to ear, the blue-eye cat thrust his sword at the Infinite Spring. “Show ‘em your might, Zorro! Magarula!”
The persona manifested once more, rapidly slashing his iconic rapier through the air to whip up a wide-reaching gale. His whirlwind flooded the room and swept up balloons, thrusters, and Tengu guards alike, pushing them toward the edges. Through it all the Infinite Spring somehow kept stable, maybe due to the odd spheres stuck to the statue’s extremities that glowed and hummed. Whatever the case, Mona had plenty of airtime left. “Now, Zorro! Lucky Pun-!”
He was cut short as the old man poked over the edge of the Infinite Spring and shot him square in the face. Mona’s head instantly doubled in size, more than tripling the poor cat’s total weight, and with a confused yowl Mona plummeted toward the floor. Without so much as a second’s hesitation Joker abandoned the One-Shot Kill that his persona Leena had chambered, and alongside Skull, lunged for where his friend would fall.
By the time Jesse got into position, it was too late. The scientist had already removed the collision of the dome above, and now his unconventional ride carried him straight through it and into the skies of freedom. A few parting shots in the statue’s underside would change nothing, and more so than ever the FBC’s director was frustrated by the loss of her other abilities. Even the guards, feathers ruffled and heads spinning thanks to the whirlwind, were powerless to help. Smoke through her fingers, yet again.
Still, not an entirely fruitless encounter. A short ways away, the two unharmed Phantom Thieves crouched around their fallen friend. Mona seemed okay, but his head was so large he couldn’t even lift it under his own power, rendering him almost immobile. He looked to be on the verge of tears. “Hey, hey. You’re okay. Don’t start bawling on me.” Joker consoled him, patting the cat’s head. “We’ll get that rat before you know it. Just hang in there.”
Level 4 Nadia (24/40)
Location: Bottomless Sea
Blazermate's @Archmage MC, Bowser's @DracoLunaris, Ace Cadet's @Yankee, Hat Kid's @Dawnrider, Sakura's @Zoey Boey, Frog's @Dark Cloud, Mirage’s @Potemking, Mr. L’s @ModeGone
Word Count: 897
Though eager to see what must surely be the end of Scylla’s story as anyone, Nadia had something else she needed to attend to at the moment: the surface of the ocean racing her way at terminal velocity. From certain heights, she knew, a fall into water could brutalize a man just about as badly as into solid ground. For just about anyone her climactic yet foolhardy attack and subsequent fall would be a death sentence, but Nadia Fortune wasn’t just anyone.
First things first: she needed to slow her fall. Nadia went from a nosedive into a spread-eagle position, pointed her batteries downward, and started to fire. Even miniature cannons put out an awful lot of kickback when mounted to a lightweight frame, which translated to a lot of motive force on the frictionless surface of the water, and she was counting on the same recoil that slammed Scylla’s tentacle halfway into sashimi to help slow her down. She opened fire and felt the weapons wrenching upward, only for the batteries to click empty a few moments later. Oof...welp, that’ll have to do. By now the Life Gem had refilled enough of her blood that she could pressurize it. A stunt popped into her mind, just crazy enough that it might work, and she couldn’t afford to weigh its pros and cons while she lost the deceleration her cannons earned her. I hope someone’s watching!
She twisted herself around until she got a bead on Shippy, then used her precious blood to shoot her way. Her eyes locked onto her target: the yardarm of the great central mast, its sail furled for a journey under the boat’s own power. As she fell closer she detached her forearms on lengths of muscle, and at the final pivotal moment, latched on with every fiber of her being. Her downward momentum converted to centripetal motion with the aid of one more blast of blood, and with a yowl of exhilaration she began to loop. Her claws dug into the wood as she looped around the yardarm, again and again, losing speed and length with each pass, until finally her wild ride came to an end with her dangling below the spar. She dropped to the deck below only to realize her head both hadn’t stopped spinning and felt rather light. “Waiter…” she gasped as she tottered a few steps backward. “...Check please!” With a final lurch she passed out, hitting the deck in a pile of parts.
Shippy’s other passengers could scarcely spare the time to admire her spectacle, however. The Lurchthorn demanded their full attention, but quickly found that it couldn’t take it. While the imprecise conical blasts from Peach’s boomshot only chipped at its armor, Mirage’s well-placed revolver shots cut to the quick, mowing through the meat of the monster’s segments. No stranger to weak points, Link and Mr. L followed suit. When each segment took damage, it flipped to the other side as an act of self-defense, but the Lurchthorn only managed to delay the inevitable. The damage piled up, and when Rika went for the head the thing’s fate was sealed. A final, sickening CRACK rang out when the fatal blow was struck, and the skeletal fish’s segments went through a chain explosion from the tail all the way to the head. With it taken care of, and Shippy out of frenzied, chum-strewn waters, the passengers were free to focus on the clash of the titans up ahead.
Though he huffed and puffed, Bowser had reached his destination. He hauled himself up from his long climb and faced a monster bereft of tentacles, only to assume that talking was a free action. As a friend heart appeared between his claws a pair of sea-green sorceries burst against his chest. Even with a few of her tentacles down for the count, Scylla wasn’t about to relent, and she quickly showed him why. As the Koopa King charged she pulsed with power, gaining a golden sheen. “It’s playtime!” The horror of the deep rose atop a fresh batch of four tentacles, albeit much smaller than the ones before. Bowser’s turrets and tentacles barraged her, but for now she would not be stopped. Scylla leaned back on the rear two as the frontal pair rose up, poised to crush her assailant beneath their withering power.
It was a singular moment, a simple contest of hideous strength versus stalwart fortitude. Her tentacles slammed down hard. Shell cracked, beaks broke, weapons bent, and shards of stone flew far and wide, but from the dust Bowser still came. The golden aura faded as Scylla’s tentacles retracted, setting her down dumbfounded, and before she could hurl another faceful of noxious magic Bowser scooped her up in his claws. She screamed in rage, and her tentacles thrashed and bit. “Think you’re tough?” she shrieked. “I’ll kill you! I’ll rip you up and paint your guts on the rocks!” Though badly wounded, fading fast, and still under attack, Bowser received his hard-won chance to take definitive action against the tiny terror.
But that opportunity lasted only a moment, for Tentalus threw his weight against the seastack, and this time the behemoth won. The tall crag of stone had finally cracked, and that last impact jerked it irreparably out of balance. It began to fall, headed for a watery grave along with anyone without a decent exit strategy.
Of the various things he alluded to, Albedo did not anticipate the offhanded mention of Sucrose’s inhuman features to get much of a reaction from his new friend. He did not mind, however, and offered a little clarification. “More like cat ears,” he told her. “She is not a full-blooded Katzlein, so she has no tail. She tries to pass off her ears as part of her hair, and few ever realize otherwise.” However that might sound, he could not speak to any reason for doing so, save his assistant’s habitual shyness. Anything that would make her stand out, he assumed, she wanted to avoid. “And yes, she’s quite the bright spark. Despite her youth she’s made many achievements in bio-alchemy that would put experts in the field to shame.”
Comfortable in his seat, the warmth of Grillby’s interior, and the gift of good company, Albedo settled in for quite the story. It was as if the spirit of Hyrule’s history itself possessed Linkle, speaking through her in grand fashion to relate the epic saga of her world’s birth. He absorbed the deeds of Din, Nayru, and Farore as he worked away at his egg, bit by bit, until he’s taken in all there was to offer. Linkle’s description of the Triforce he met with interest, for although he regarded it as the typical wish-granting artifact of legend, he couldn’t help but wonder based on her description of the cyclical Legend of Zelda if such a power could come into play in this world. After that the Skullgirl dialed back from her world’s mythic lore to relate some more everyday details. If Albedo himself had lived an ordinary life he might have related to and been charmed by her tales of farm life, but he could only take her word for it.
More remarkable was the journey that must have led Linkle here. A simple farm girl, raised taking care of (what he assumed to be) chickens and hunting (what common sense dicated were) wolves by moonlight, now an undead warrior who commanded fire, ice, and lightning all at once...surely that made for a more fascinating tale? With the right reagents even the most basic materials could be utterly transformed.
Linkle went on to tell him about monsters and dungeons, and Albedo found himself nodding. Everything seemed to fit together nicely. Almost too nicely. He looked down to see a clean plate and an empty glass, then faced his new friend. “Thank you for telling me all that,” he said. “I said it before, but our worlds really do seem rather similar. Hard to believe this is coincidence. As for my world, though...I’m afraid you’d need to ask someone with a better grasp of history. Rather than things that were, I’m more concerned with things that are, have been, and always will be. A moment, please.” He rose from his chair and led his corgi over to the bar, where a small cushion was laid on the floor. The dog plopped into his makeshift bed, accustomed to this ritual, and Albedo stooped to give him a final scratch behind the ears before he headed back over.
“Ready to go?”
Thanks to his new coat, Albedo had no trouble leading the way through fresh snow to the south-southwest. Linkle followed him through an uneven land of hill and dale with frequent stands of trees. Here and there they passed the aged, cold-scarred remnants of fortifications that suggested the existence of some battle long ago, long since given over to the winter. Though animal sightings remained rare, the duo spotted a smattering of ice elementals, from the fragmented to the ethereal to the geometric. Surly-looking snowflakes glared at and blond that drew near, promising a cold reception if provoked. More problematic than the territorial elements, however, were foes that lay in wait.
When the pair stopped momentarily atop a snowy knoll, the nearby tree twisted their direction, the tips of their bare branches glowing hot against the cold sky. The Tree Women lurched down at the two with unexpected speed, snagging them in their long fingers of icy wood. The one that caught Albedo blew a stream of ice magic from her stretched mouths, but Albedo was ready. Before the monster could frost him over he manifested and plunged his sword straight into the narrow opening, prompting a hideous scream. She released him, flailing her arms with wild abandon, and Albedo dodged clear. “I dislike these things,” he remarked. “Easy to get away from, but irritating to spot.” That said, he doubted Linkle would find them very formidable. When his tree calmed down and started sending forth seeking candlelights from her branches, Albedo got a move on.
It wasn’t far from where the tree women lurked that the land fell away. Albedo and Linkle stood atop a stony cliff, looking out over an illimitable drop through frigid air at the temple the alchemist mentioned, although ‘temple’ didn’t quite do it much justice. The Cold Monastery was a series of towers atop mountainous spires, connected by bridges and dotted with frigid waterfalls that glittered in the sun. Each stood tall and loomed large, austere in their dignity. A trail toward the left led across a cliff, dangerously narrow at parts, and to the monastery’s gates.
Edge of the Blue - Creature Beach
On high alert for treachery, the posse meant to apprehend Sephiroth leaped to action the moment she did, and were rewarded for their vigilance. As she leaped skyward Birdie slung his chain at her, but the length fell short, and when she flung down explosive dark magics he scattered along with the rest. Sephiroth’s arc took her in the direction of the buried creature, but the others were quick on her heels even as she summoned forth her signature sword from nothing. “She can call her blade to hand!” Karin observed as she ran after the murderer across the sand, her fair features contorted by concentration. Everyone had been told to expect the unexpected, but there was no good way to anticipate this.
Still, rather than press the advantage of a hidden weapon to pull off a critical surprise attack, Sephiroth opted for another tactic. She assailed the buried creature with both magic and Masamune’s edge, attempting to goad it into attacking, but making assumptions was a risky business. The leviathan was so large, and so deeply entrenched in the ground, that she would need to do a lot better than that to provoke it. If anything, fleeing into its wide-open mouth and the labyrinthine depths of its innards might have been a better option. But Sephiroth wouldn’t be fleeing anywhere. As she leaped to try and make it over the creature, Officer Nanu saw his chance to nail her. “Now!”
Gothitelle activated Shadow Tag, sending forth her own shadow to surge forward and nail down Sephiroth’s as she took to the air in an attempt to flee. The moment the tag struck, Sephiroth dropped like a rock to the ground, all momentum lost. Then her pursuers reached her, and each took their turn.
First came Bacchus. He launched himself through the air in a flying belly flop, speeding past Karin and Shantae in the process. Before Sephiroth could rise from where Shadow Tag dropped her, the obese god splashed down, knocking her into the air. In a flash he was on his feet, and from his lips tore an obscene belch that took the form of waves of pink energy that barraged and overpowered Sephiroth, leaving her stunned. Next came Birdie with a rather more ordinary leap, chains in hand. “Nowhere to run!” He landed in front of his foe and struck her with a full force headbutt that staggered her backward. “Bahaha!”
All that gave Shantae more than enough time to complete her dance. “Transform!” In a burst of magic she changed into a blue-feathered harpy and flapped forward to seize Sephiroth by the shoulders with her talons, drawing blood. A powerful flap took her and her quarry into the air, and a moment later she slammed down, smashing Sephiroth into the sand. The impact jarred her talons loose, and she flapped backward to a safe distance.
Karin avoided the others’ punishing openers, but when her ally finished she rushed in to apply pressure, even though Sephiroth could act again. The reason why became clear when Bacchus blundered just begging to be hit, obviously trying to protect Karin as she dashed forward to deliver a quick series of punches. Birdie circled around to try a long-ranged chaingrab while Shantae flapped overhead, looking for a chance to dive. Nanu, meanwhile, called forth a second Pokemon. Lycanroc appeared in a flash, and with a quick command from her master ran forward to get a piece of the action.