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  1. 4 likes
    My Legion cosplay for Fanboy and Soda City
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    ←Previous Post -- Next Post→ Weeks Zero and One: "It was The Road to Hell. It was Hard Times..." You will arrive along The Old Road. It winds with a troubling, serpent-like suggestion through the corrupted countryside, leading only, I fear, to ever more tenebrous places. There is a sickness in the ancient, pitted cobbles of The Old Road, and on its writhing path, you will face viciousness, violence, and perhaps other, damnably transcendent terrors. So steel yourself, and remember: there can be no bravery without madness. The Old Road will take you to hell, but in that gaping abyss, we will find our redemption. The initial introduction to the campaign is a series of tutorial fights with the Crusader and Highwayman, but I’m going to jump ahead a little here and just go through our new adventurers, describe all the quirks that they’ve just gotten, and, when necessary give some brief commentary on how I expect them to improve. In a normal game of Darkest Dungeon, I wouldn’t take half of you. I’d just find the ones I liked and dismiss the rest. But, to be really corny about it, this isn’t a five-card draw, it’s a twenty-four-person stud, so studs you shall become or die trying. You’re gonna do great. With that out of the way, let’s actually go down The Old Road to find our redemption or whatever Wayne June was talking about. The tutorial’s not over yet, though. The Hamlet is still mostly boarded up so I’ll cover that when it becomes more open, but the first foray into the ruins is scripted as well, so let’s go there. You’re supposed to run with a Crusader, Highwayman, Vestal, Plague Doctor party, but we have significantly more options available to us. I chose this party for a few reasons. The first is, well, I feel incentivized to use the adventurers with forum names. Besides, I don’t have a better solution to Skaia and Hakima being Antsy yet, and it’s not like they have zero synergies when paired up. Arbalest’s Big Crossbow, then, was an easy choice since the Arbalest also deals with marks, and then I needed a healer, so Junia it was. You’ll notice the name the game gave this party. That only occasionally shows up and is a sign the developers at Red Hook anticipated this party might be put together. Again, this will be a scripted map, so I know what I need to take to save on gold. The dog biscuits and the bandage come from choosing the Houndmaster and the Arbalest with me, and the rest, in order, are as follows: Torches so I can see, keys for chests, food for healing (and, you know, to eat), shovels for blockages, and holy water mostly for a curio but it can also boost resistances to debuffs. I suppose I can go through the remaining items too. Dog treats are a Houndmaster-specific buff when consumed, and bandages stop bleeding. To the right of the shovels is antivenom, which cures blight, and in-between the bandages and the keys are medicinal herbs, which cure miscellaneous debuffs. In the bottom-left is ladanum, which is useless I mean, it cures the stress-over-time effect called “horror” which is a little rare, even after Marvin’s mods, and on the other side is Shard Dust, which we don’t need to worry about until at least mid-game and will be explained then. This is an important screen, though. Once you hit that “Embark” button at the bottom, there is no turning back. We’re ready, though, so into the ruins we go. That’s all I have for you today. Sorry I couldn’t introduce everyone, but this post has gone over 3500 words. I don’t know how the next few weeks will go, but there hasn’t been a reason for me to complain just yet. Let me know if you have any questions, either about your character or about the game at large. Next time, we’ll open up the wider estate for exploring, go through some of the slowly-reopening buildings of the Hamlet, and, as a special treat, a trip to the circus! ←Previous Post -- Next Post→
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    25 years later, I've finally completed Crash 1.
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    The end of the Chicken Fight round and the immediate aftermath that followed was a blur to Risa. She barely remembered much, other than a hazy reply to Ben as the two separated. Regardless, she eventually found herself out in the lower reaches of the arena, below the stands, her Stabilizing Soles held over her shoulder by the metal frames near the opening for the leg, her heartbeat finally slowing enough to fully comprehend what had just happened. “I’m in the last round of the Sports Festival,” she said softly to herself. She was hardly able to believe it. How the hell was she here, among the other students of the Hero Course? To think this all started just because I was able to drag Sasaki out of that debris, she thought to herself. The thought was shocking to her, and she suddenly had a desire to find Sasaki and make sure he was alright. After all, I maybe jogged him real hard in midair… I’m sure I can just see if he’s going to make a quick recovery, right? “Hey, is that the Kawashima girl?” Risa very suddenly felt the need to accelerate this plan, a flush of color coming to her cheeks as she hurried down the corridor back into the stadium proper, not looking back despite calls of her name from behind her. It’s fine, it’s fine, they’ll just assume it’s somebody else, she told herself. It wasn’t until she was just around the corner from the infirmary that she realized there were likely precious few other small girls in UA uniforms loaded down with various pieces of metal and carrying foot cages over her shoulder. Oh. Oh no. Oh god. She silently berated herself as she stopped her forward momentum to pace back and forth, back and forth. Was that rude? I mean… They want to talk to the Hero students more, surely- “Kawashima? Kawashima Risa?” She jumped about a mile, whipping around to see, wide-eyed, a full on camera crew and a microphone pushed in her face. “Um… Yes? Hi?” she squeaked helplessly. The reporter, undaunted by Risa looking like a startled deer, smiled widely. “Young Miss Kawashima, we’re just looking to interview some of the heroes who have made it this far in the Festival!” “Student, just a-” she began a meek correction, but the reporter was already forging on. "Kawashima, it looks like you have been doing a spectacular job upholding the family legacy!" Risa couldn’t put her finger on why, but that question felt like a knife blade to the gut in her current mood. Regardless, she tried to smile as she answered. The result was less than convincing, but the embarrassed reaction to the interview was days away, when it was inevitably recycled on TV and she would have the misfortune to see it. "Ummmm, I don't know about that! My big sis Fumiko is the one you'd want to talk to about that… The hero Prestige? O'Hara-sama is really where a lot of the credit for today so far has to go. I really was just very very lucky to have him put up with me as a partner!” "Funny thing, he said the same about you. Did you two know each other before all this? You've made quite the pair." "No, I've never met any of the Hero Course before toda- EEEEEH?!? He said what? He's just being nice, he's very encouraging. But ummmmm... No, I hadn't met him, I'd only heard about his Quirk in class a few times and thought it was interesting because, well... It is, isn't it, he's learned to use such a fascinating Quirk so well, even in round two where he had to carry me around and wasn't able to crawl on walls he was-" Risa now began a long and detailed ramble about Spider Colony what she had been able to infer about it, her brain having finally latched onto something she could talk about with confidence. She failed to interpret the reporter’s peeved expression as a desire for her to stop, thinking maybe she hadn’t clarified a point correctly. “And like I was saying, I think he has some degree of ability to direct them, or they’re way smarter than spiders usually are, and they’re actually very smart insects, I mean arachnids-” "I... See…” The reporter managed to finally cut her off by cutting around behind her, weaving an arm around Risa’s shoulders and leaning in conspiratorially to ask the next question. “We heard early on that whichever non-hero course student gets the farthest will be inducted into it. How do you feel, now that you have accomplished that goal and outlasted the two general course students from the previous round?" All thoughts of Spider Colony left Risa’s head. Her brain screeched to a halt at this question. All she was able to say was: "... Atsushi-san and Karada-san didn't advance?" “... Well, no. Didn’t you see on the board? You’re the sole student not from Class A or Class B.” "... I don't remember much after I saw I had advanced... I don't think I even saw the other teams that went forward..." "Well then it's a good thing the path into the hero course isn't a memory exam, isn't it?" The attempt on humor was lost completely on Risa’s mounting tide of panic. "Wait, WAIT, I'M the highest non-Hero course member in the Sports Festival?!?!?" "Congratulations, Kawashima," was the simple reply, as the cameraman started frowning at the reporter, making very clear ‘finish it’ looks with his eyes. Risa was only able to offer a very small “thank you” in reply. "With a legacy like yours, there will be a lot of eyes on you. Let's see how far you can go!" The reporter slapped a hand with forced cheerfulness on Risa’s shoulder before they turned to walk away, huffing out a breath. "Yeah... We'll um…” Risa cleared her throat, not even processing that the microphone wasn’t being shoved into her face anymore. “...have to see, right? How far..." “Why would you want to be a hero?” The memory of a question Risa had asked herself over and over again for years rebounded inside her head. She resumed her slow walk down the hallway, frowning as one of her hands absently fiddled with a strap on one of her Soles. Why indeed? She was smaller than most people her age, scared more easily than people her age, dumber too if her Support grades were any indication; She didn’t even have a Quirk that could make up for it. If I didn’t get to bring these in just for being in the Support Class I wouldn’t even be here, she thought to herself, rubbing at one of the weights on her belt. There was no sense in denying that. All the rest of the top eight had gotten here on the results of the Quirks and their skill at using them. Hers did literally nothing without something to work with from the start. I’m not like Fumiko, who can just make metal from her skin… And I’m certainly not the former Glory. So why do people keep acting like I am? She realized two things with horror. One was that clearly the interview crew had gone the same direction as her, and she hadn’t even noticed. She could hear the reporter’s voice around the corner even now, just outside the infirmary. The second was that her eyes were wet. She hurriedly reached up to wipe at them, almost dropping her Stabilizing Sole as she did so. She certainly didn’t want a bunch of strangers to see her crying, though she couldn’t quite put a good reason to why. "It appeared to be quite advanced, the only other one allowed to bring tech in is the student who designed her equipment herself, in class. How did you manage to receive this special treatment?" A stab of guilt, that. Even the casual onlookers knew that fact of the matter. "It's weaker than I am. [Significantly]. It's a registered support item that I need to get through day to day life." Risa very dimly recognized Diana’s voice. She and the American had never met, but this wasn’t the first time Risa had heard her speak. And after all, who else could they be talking to? "It looked plenty strong on camera. The boy you hit was awfully bloodied just from that strike. Is he on the other side of this door?" Risa frowned. That wasn’t exactly fair, at least not to her. Diana was right, her arm was literally missing. Only now did she think back to when she had walked by Diana in the stadium. There HAD been a small tingle, that sense she had that alerted her to any metal close enough for her Quirk to pick up on it. She hadn’t even noticed in her gut-wrenching worry about the next round. She had never seen the specs on Diana’s arm, had truthfully not even known she had a prosthetic, but it clearly hadn’t been designed to be used as a weapon first. Even she knew that, there was no way it would have broken that easily. She wondered if she should say something. She may not be a Hero Course student, but perhaps as a Support student her word might have some weight? Sure, she had the worst grades in her class, but they didn’t know that. Probably. But for all she knew Diana’s arm HAD been made as a weapon and there had just been some fluke, some aspect of her Quirk or Syo’s Quirk or Ayane’s Quirk or just a fluke of physics that had caused it to explode like that, though she really rather doubted it, perhaps she could ask Deerc-sensei about- And then Shannon’s cool voice cut in from around the corner. Risa flattened herself against the wall instinctually. She had seen the variety of holy terror that Shannon was capable of. Deerc-sensei still sometimes groused about her decking his Thunderjaw by herself. She couldn’t give a good reason for why Shannon scared her. She had been terrified of her the entire Festival, trying her best to avoid her the entire time. But now at least she could get behind Shannon’s actions as she did what Risa hadn’t been brave enough to do herself and tell the reporters off. It reminded her of something her sister might do, and Risa wasn’t entirely sure why that was concerning to her rather than a cause for relief. Or maybe it was both. At that thought, Risa had to take a mental step back and make up her mind that the pressures of the day had officially made her thought processes, convoluted and frantic at the best of times, officially made no damn sense. "I am powerful. Society dictates that means that I am and will always be a good hero, due to such.” Shannon’s voice, filtering around the corner again. Another frown from Risa. Being powerful… There was something to that. After all, she was weak, and not a Hero Course student. But for some reason when Shannon said that she couldn’t help but think of Ben. Think of Kawashima Fumiko. Think of Kawashima Yozo. And she still couldn’t say exactly why. But there was one thing she knew she did want to do. “Siegi-sama?” Risa had followed Diana away from the infirmary, waiting until Shannon had left in the other direction. She waved a hand as she rushed to catch up on her shorter legs, Stabilizing Soles held over her shoulder. “I um, was going to the infirmary to see if Sasaki-sama, make sure he’s alright… if he’s in there, I don’t know if you saw him. Kawashima, by the way,” she said hurriedly, waving a hand. “I was O’Hara-sama’s partner? Um…” There was an awkward moment while she gathered her words before blurting out: “I overheard the reporters. Talking to you, I’m sorry. They talked to me too and I… really didn’t like it either.” She looked down at the ground, embarrassed to talk about it. “But I… I think the question about your arm was really unfair. I’m not the best Support student but… Icouldmaybetryand… fix it?” She bit her lip. It sounded daft when she said it that way. Surely Siegi thought she was trying to sabotage her now, she was so unbelievably awkward. But she both could and wanted to offer. The desire to want to help.
  5. 4 likes
    So, that job I mentioned before? I got it. I now make 6 figs working remotely. My girlfriend and I are planning on moving to Columbia, SC soon.
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    The last of my Christmas gifts for my family: This is Jordy, my mom and dad's chocolate lab, wearing the jersey of his namesake!
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    you either die based or live long enough to become cringe
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    My latest piece in soft pastel, this time using splatters of white paint for the stars. Feedback is appreciated! ^^
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    "Alright gang, this has been Maya-chan! I've gotta get going. As you all know, Digimon World Online is coming out today and you know who is getting in at launch. I reaaaaaally wish I could I could stream it with you guys but you know how it goes. Game uses your real life appearance and that'd be trouble for me. But who knows, maybe we'll play with each other and not even realize it, that could be so fun! Let me know on my socials what you're planning to do with the game. I'll be talking about my experiences with it in upcoming streams just wont have much footage. Guess I'll have to come up with something. Maybe I can get Doki-kun to stream with me and we'll play the digimon card game while we talk about it! Oh there's so many things to do. You all know my stream times, if not it's down in the description along with my socials. Follow soon for exclusive signed merch, offer ends in two weeks! Keep it real and keep shining!" Click. Stream ended. "Uggggghhhhh" Came a moan as the face behind hit Vtuber Maya-Chan slumped back into her chair and planted her face down on her desk in front of her. Jeanne Sakamoto had just gotten done streaming for three hours and her day was only really just beginning. A thought crossed her mind why she was still doing this but the thought of disappointing so many fans seemed like more trouble than it was worth. She could see the social media threads over Maya-Chan leaving drama and the shit she'd have to go through the Vtuber company. Oh right them. A contract seemed like a pretty good reason to keep doing something too now that she thought about it. Before moping too much longer, Jeanne looked up from her den of depression to a clock to see she still had a scant few minutes before the DWO launch. "Well Jeane, you came this far. Might as well not be late." the woman muttered with a huff as she hauled the box of goods needed to play the game onto her desk. Opening it, deciphering instructions and assembling was easier than she had anticipated but still more complicated than any game had a right to be, at least in her opinion. She was tired enough that if she could have put off logging in for a day or two she would have. But she knew she wouldn't last a half hour of not showing up without Shion blowing her up in every conceivable method of communication. "I can't wait for this super awesome game." She said with as little life as she could muster. "Gonna be the greatest thing ever-" she was cut off the by digitizing process. 'Logging in.....User.......Maya.......DIGILIZING NOW' Never had Jeanne put much thought into what having her body deconstructed and turned into data would feel like. She figured it was just all overblown VR type stuff. But this was something else. But then all at once she was herself again just somewhere completely new. Somewhere that looked beautiful really. For a fake place in a game anyway. She was almost in awe until she was surrounded by other people all eagerly logging in for the first time. The starry-eyed masses quickly made her gut twist and turn. It wasn't like this was even the best graphics she'd ever seen in a game. Like sure she was actually in it but there were probably missing pixels or something. The girl's focus was on the CEO of the game company, Kazuki Iwakiri, who welcomed them all to Asuka City. Jeanne took the opportunity to move away from the congested spawn point to take in the bright eyed corporate speak. A game changing the course of history. Like that had ever happened. Still, at least the man wasn't going to take all day to get to what everyone actually wanted. A device, primarily white with dark purple accents, along with a soot black egg appeared before Jeanne as so many similar pairs of objects did for every other player at Iwakiri's word. Without warning the egg began hatching, revealing a bizarre looking black ball of something with yellow eyes. A Botamon it was, which Jeanne would know if she bothered to look it up in the game's information. She definitely didn't already know all about it. Having to lug this thing around was going to be troublesome but it was almost cute enough to justify it. But the CEO wasn't done handing out presents as the creatures all began their first evolution on the spot. Gone was the ball of black fur and in it's place a ball of gray fur with long ears. "Wait... is mine broken? How come mine didn't get arms or legs?" Jeanne voiced to no one in particular. This didn't seem to deter the creature though, who propped itself upright as much as a spherical creature could and puffed its non-existent chest. "I'm Pagumon! It's an honor to meet so soon Jeanne." Pagumon said, doing what looked like its best attempt at a bow. "So soon? Oh yeah didn't sign up all that lo- wait what?! Ah shit, I shoulda known they sold my data. Never use real names even when they ask for them, stupid!" She vented as Pagumon looked on concerned. "Please don't be upset. I've been waiting eagerly to meet you. This should be a happy time." the digimon offered, its ears drooping. "Aw c'mon Fido, dont start with that. I'm not mad at you, you didn't do anything." Jeanne responded, softening some. But Pagumon seemed peturbed. "Fido? I'm Pagumon." it asserted in confusion. "Yeah well you're like my dog now right, it's a nickname." the human offered in explanation. "You were given an opportunity when signing up to nickname me, you should have done so there. I am Pagumon and that's that." the furball stated. "You don't gotta be uptight about it." Jeanne said, clearly annoyed her new parter was such a stickler about these kinds of things. But there was no two ways about it. Jeanne kept calling Pagumon Fido and Pagumon continued to deny that was its name and demanded she address it properly if she wanted a reply. Still, Pagumon seemed overjoyed to be with Jeanne at all. As for Jeanne well, Pagumon was cute so it was lucky. The two left, Pagumon in Jeanne's arms as they talked some more. Jeanne explained she was looking for a friend and Pagumon suggested heading back to the spawn area as most players wouldn't have dispersed from there yet. A solid idea and one which the girl accepted. Now it was just a matter of looking for Shion. In a sea of faces. No problem there. Actually it ws a lot easier than anticipated as something caught the girl's eye. A raincloud, a tiny one at that, isolated entirely to the space just above a single player's head. That alone required a good laugh but no sooner did the woman look to see the poor soul with their own storm cloud than did Jeanne see her own best friend, Shion. That was too much, the girl burst out laughing as she approached. "Wow I really missed out on not pre-ordering huh?" she managed to get out when she stopped laughing enough to actually speak. Shion knew that laugh. It had a distinct vibe of "wow, this sucks, and you probably suck for getting so into it." She'd recognize it anywhere, and while she'd normally turn and greet its owner with a smile, she was already in a bit of a sour mood. And so, sour expression fully intact, Shion turned, and greeted Jeanne back with a "Oh, shut it. This was the most not-terrible pre-order bonus; how was I supposed to know the damn thing would be bugged?" "Wow, here I thought you were just trying to ruin the vibe for everyone on purpose. Was gonna be offended." Jeanne fired right back. At this point Pagumon interjected. "You shouldn't be rude to your friend!" it said very earnestly which only got another chuckle out of Jeanne. "We got every flavor of buzzkill here what'd I even sign in for?" "To be a better buzzkill than them, obviously," Shion answered. "And maybe to try and find game-breaking exploits so you can kill the devs' good moods too. The CEO didn't seem all that happy that his collector's edition bonuses were bugged when I met him. All I could get to make up for it was some bits, though." Jeanne could only give a typical whistle to fake being impressed. "CEO talking to nobodies huh? What an in touch and down to earth old guy. Be sure to threaten to refund if your... bonus here doesn't get fixed soon." Jeanne spoke, uncertain if she could call the endless raincloud a bonus with a straight face. "I'll make sure to do that. Give the devs a week, and if I'm still getting rained on, threaten a refund. 11,000 yen for a bugged poncho I need to wear." Shion finished that thought with one of the driest, most sarcastic "Woohoo"s one would likely hear. "Oh, loosely related, do you want to hit up the shops before we check out what this game's got to offer? I've got a nice chunk of bits, and I'd like to pick up some extra..." Shion pointed up at the raincloud hovering over her. "Equipment." Jeanne feigned shock this time as she reeled backward dramatically placing a hand across her chest. "Is it my birthday?" she teased. "Well far be it from me to deny charity in any mmo. And I'm not even being told to change my password to something specific must really be my lucky day. We'll get you fixed right up Miss Sunshine." Jeanne added to rub salt in the wound. "Miss Sunshine, haha," Shion sighed, leaving an obviously fake laugh behind as she got up, and opened her map. A map which, to her great relief, was rather well-made. Everything was clear, labeled, zoom functions worked properly, it was by all means a very nice map. It was surprising how easy it was to botch a map system in these kinds of games, really. After confirming the location of the nearest clothing store, Shion pointed in its general direction, said "That way," and started in that direction, gesturing for Pomumon and Jeanne to follow. She could feel the funny looks being sent her way. She didn't mind that, mostly. The ones she did mind were the ones from players with what she recognized as being other collector's pre-order bonuses. If she didn't know any better, she could have sworn one of them off-handedly commented how glad they were they didn't pick the poncho. "For all the odds and ends in this thing's settings - it came with its own settings window, by the way - you'd think they would have checked that it can be switched off," Shion sighed. Jeanne for her part had been taking in the sights but more especially the people giving Shion funny looks. It was all she could do to not start laughing about the whole affair again. "Well for all his happy vibes and bravado for us noobs you know that CEO guy has to be overworking his team to be doing well... this." Jeanne said while motioning with her arms to a vague nothing. "This turning people into data stuff's kinda wild. Dunno if I'd be impressed or worried for the employees health if there weren't some bugs here and there." She paused, an off-handed comment about a way better pre-order bonus getting a snicker from her. "But hey, there's some positives to it all. Like how I'll never lose you in a crowd, or how I'll always have a conversation starter with everyone we meet 'cuz I can always just be like 'yeah that's me and my localized weather anomaly if you look closely you can see the rain is actually just the tears of all the disappointed pre-orderers". All said, I see this as an absolute win... you know, long as you aren't hugging me or anything." Jeanne added with a playful look of disgust. She did not intend to get wet simply be proximity to her best friend simply because said best friend wouldn't remove a cosmetic she didn't have to keep on. But then again Shion asserted she did have to keep it on and who was Jeanne to argue that? A foolish question really, Jeanne was never going to let it go. "Well, at least one of us is having a good time with this. And that's exactly what I'm doing here." Ah yes. Here. The clothing shop. The way Shion heard it, back when MMOs were not run through VR, the shop was generally just an NPC that you talked to, the list of items appeared, you traded in currency, and that was it. What a bore that sounded like, as if the shopkeep just had magical pockets containing their entire stock! Fortunately, those days were gone, and the shops of a VR MMO were at least a little more immersive. You could interact with the shelves or boxes, or in this case the racks of clothing. You could pull an item out from the lists - organized lists based on what you were interacting with - and examine it before buying, or even try it on in the case of clothes and other equipment. Then, once you were ready to buy, you could just hit the purchase button, trade in your currency, and your better MMO shopping experience was concluded. Immersive, intuitive, ingenious. "Say, since we're here and all, do us both a favor. Check around the place and try to pick up something for yourself." Pointing up above her head again, Shion added "Buy as if you were dealing with this instead of me. My treat. I'm gonna check the footwear and see about replacing my soaked shoes with something waterproof." "My whatever do you mean? I can only see the smiling faces of my friends. I don't see glitches." Jeanne teased as she left to look into wet weather gear. As she perused lists of items, Pagumon couldn't help but speak up having been a largely silent listener in the conversation between the two girls. "Are you two really friends?" it asked with an honesty and earnestness that might have made the woman choke had she been drinking something. Or staring up into her own personal raincloud. Crazy what not having one of those would do. "That's a silly question." Jeanne asserted. Having a piece of data analyze her relationships seemed like a waste of time. What did robots and algorithms know about any of this? "But you seem to always be bothering each other." Pagumon added, its ears drooping again. "It's a girl thing, kinda hard to understand I know but it is what it is. If you wanna think we're friends that works fine. It is the easiest way to put things." Jeanne remarked coldly as she settled on a matching pair of umbrellas, each wildly plastered with the logo for DWO and several of the posterchild digimon. "My god, they're hideous. Perfect." She said with an evil smirk. The redundancy of needing an umbrella while in a raincoat was going to drive Shion up a wall and Jeanne only wished she had a camera for it. "Let's go find our friends." Jeanne said to Pagumon who agreed happily.
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    Moments Before the Duel "Team Wilding is making their first appearance today, led by their captain, Action Duelist Honey Froswald! Some of you in the audience may recognize her as the younger sister of Major League Champion Elliot Dritte! Cam she live up!?” “Her opponent is Daichi Raimu from Team Genesis! Not much is known about them, but perhaps we’ll learn some today! Can he measure up to the sister of a champion!?” Daichi looked at himself in the mirror of the locker room, as he just finished changing into his outfit, looking at the hat he'd be wearing. "Win or lose..." he smiled before nodding, putting the hat on. "It's showtime!" The Duel The lights in the arena cut off for a moment, until a series of spotlights started coming on one by one, moving in quite the rhythmic fashion...finally something cut through the hushed tones of the crowds. “Ladies and gentlemen!! If you would please turn your attention this way to the center field and you’ll see our illustrious challenger...miss Honey!” the voice boomed as the spotlights pointed at the Duelist on the field. But all but one suddenly left the Duelist in a swift fashion. “...and who comes to take the stage to meet this challenger? Why...none other than I...” The remaining spotlights converged on one fixed location and suddenly an explosion of purple smoke erupted in where the spotlights stood...and once it settled… “Ladies and gentlemen, the Moonlit Magician has arrived.” Daichi smirked, bowing slightly and facing towards the opponent, the lights immediately coming back on afterwards. “I’m Honey Froswald! I don’t have any special epithet, but I want to give everyone an entertaining experience, all the same!” “3… 2… 1… Duel!” LET THE SHOW BEGIN!!! Action Field - Grand Adventure...he was cool with this. It was something he'd spent some time on before, so he was in his element somewhat. "If you don’t mind, I believe I’ll take the first move.” Daichi drew his five cards and looked at them, nodding slowly. “I shall set the Pendulum Scale, using my Dragonpit and Dragonpulse Magicians!” Soon two magicians appeared at either side of Daichi before rising into the air above him, being surrounded by a pillar of light. “The scales of 1 and 8, meaning monsters Level 2 through 7 are fair game!” Taking another look at his hand, he nodded. “And now, I’ll use this moment to do just that! Using Dragonpit and Dragonpulse...time for the real show to begin!” Daichi watched as now a dowsing pendulum appeared between the two magicians and slowly began to sway back and forth. “Metronomic Pendulum, swing and sway to mesmerize the audience! Give way for the magicians to take the stage! PENDULUM SUMMON!!! Now, put your hands together!!!” Soon one light came from where the Pendulum swayed and in quite the light show and flair, one magician exploded in a bright colorful array of light and descended near Daichi. "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the star of my performance: Oafdragon Magician!" Daichi proudly introduced as the magician took a slight bow. "Alas, it's the first turn and I cannot attack. So instead, I’ll set one card face down and relinquish my t-...” he said, simply placing one card face down just as he said, preparing to pass his turn...however, Honey didn’t seem to let him just yet. “Not so fast! I activate the effect of my Ursarctic Micbilis from my hand! By tributing another Level 7 or higher monster from my hand or field during either player’s Main Phases, I can Special Summon it! I tribute Ursarctic Mictanus! I then activate its effect! It allows me to summon another Ursarctic monster from my hand! Come down, Megapolar! When this one is summoned, I can destroy one spell or trap… and I choose your set card!” Ursarctic...that was something he wasn't expecting exactly. “Well well, now that is an impressive start from you!” he said with a smile, immediately flipping his face-down up: Pendulum Area. It did indeed shatter in front of him, but in quite the beautiful display. “I suppose my bait of Pendulum Area worked. Well, if that’s the case...then I shall now relinquish my turn...provided you have no other interruptions. Now go on, let’s see what we can do to entertain the masses!” “Then you’ll love what comes next! I use Megabilis as a tuner, with Polari as the non-Tuner…” She motioned to them as their forms became green rings for Megabilis, and a single black star for Polari, “to summon...Ursarctic Grand Chariot! When it’s summoned, it destroys two cards you control… So I’ll destroy Dragonpit and Dragonpulse!” The massive mech reared the scythe back as Honey hopped onto the mech’s shoulder before shooting forward, swinging the mech through the pendulums set as scales and shattering them, leaving Daichi with just one card in hand and Oafdragon. “Taking out Dragonpulse and Dragonpit...an impressive thing to do as of now...” Daichi nodded, before moving quickly towards an Action Card...however...he didn't get it whatsoever. Honey seemed to beat him to the punch as she was practically launched by Grand Chariot to grab it. “Now, Grand Chariot! Destroy Oafdragon!” As Daichi recovered from missing the grab, he shielded himself with his cape, only for his monster to be destroyed! His life fell to 3400 from the battle damage, as Honey walked back up beside her ace, panting. The crowd cheered for the display it saw, only a bit louder than Daichi earlier. “I’ll set one, then it’s your turn. Let’s see you beat that!” Surprisingly, Daichi was applauding Honey right now, the sounds of him clapping could be heard. “Impressive display...truly! But, we magicians don’t go down as easily...not when we still have so much to display and dazzle our audiences with! I draw!!” he said, drawing his next card. “From my hand, I activate Amazing Pendulum! Seeing as I no longer have any cards in my Pendulum Zone, I can add two Magician Pendulum Monsters with different names from my Extra Deck to my hand. I’m selecting Dragonpulse and Dragonpit!” Quickly removing the two cards from his Extra Deck, Daichi added them to his hand before swiftly placing them on his Duel Disk. “Time for a repeat performance, you two! Dragonpulse and Dragonpit now set my Pendulum Scale! Once more, metronomic pendulum! Swing and sway! Pendulum Summon! From the Extra Deck and from my hand!!” Two lights appeared from the swaying Pendulum as two monsters appeared in a kneeling position. “Oafdragon Magician returns and joining him is Rapid-Fire Magician in Defense Mode!” “In response, I activate the Micpolar in my hand!” She revealed the polar bear card, Mictanus in grave popping out to be moved to banish, “Summoning it in defense! And when I do, it searches for another Megapola!” As the polar bear mech surfed onto the field, Honey’s set card also rose up, shining as it activated. Her LP fell to 3300 as the name Ursarctic Quint Charge became clear. “Then I activate the first effect of Quint Charge! I add Megabilis back from Grave to hand, only to tribute it immediately for Megapolar!” The humanoid polar bear mech from earlier appeared once more, brandishing its hammer! It took aim at Dragonpit Magician, pulling the hammer back for a swing, and…! “Heh, truly trying to silence my performance with that. However, not this time!” Daichi ran off, giving a whistle to Oafdragon and Rapid-Fire to quickly follow him. He then found what he needed...an Action Card just hanging near one of the little ship fins. Running off the side, he held his hand out and immediately Oafdragon Magician caught it, flying him over towards it. In an instant, the ivory magician grabbed the card and added it to his hand. Once they were back on the ship, he immediately played it. “Action Card - Starry Night! This turn, all face-up Spells and Traps cannot be destroyed.” Once he played it, a shimmering set of stars seemed to shoot across where Dragonpulse Magician remained, protecting it from Megapola. “A valiant effort, but I believe that’s as much as you’ll be able to do there...and now, since I activated a Spell...to be accurate, a Normal Spell in the form of an Action Card, Rapid-Fire Magician’s skill activates.” The magician holding two scepters moved slightly for a moment, having various amounts of colored fiery orbs floating around him and the scepters. “Whenever I activate a Normal Spell, with him, I can inflict 400 points of damage to my opponent! Now, do your thing, Rapid-Fire!!” Rapid-Fire Magician nodded and began to wave the scepters in his hands, the fiery orbs dancing around him before being launched towards Honey, colliding and taking the damage out. Honey: 3300 -> 2900 LP “And with that, I shall end my turn!” Daichi declared with a nod. “Ahh, so that’s your strategy. I was wondering, but that’s pretty neat. Guess I have to take that out first!” Honey grinned as she drew for turn, looking over the board. “I Special Summon the Megatanus I drew from my hand, banishing Megabilis from grave for it!” As she placed the card on the disk, a black mech, not unlike Grand Chariot, appeared, though it stood not much taller than Micpolar and brandished a bow. It took aim at Rapid-Fire Magician, pulling the string back… and letting its arrow shoot true, flipping the monster to face-down defense! “When it enters, we’ll turn that burn off for now! On to battle! Megatanus, destroy the set Rapid-Fire Magician!” With a slight grit of his teeth, Daichi watched as Rapid-Fire Magician was attacked and destroyed by Megatanus. Luckily he didn't lose Life Points from that attack, but even still, that was an impressive move. He looked around for a moment, before finding another Action Card nearby. “Bingo!” he said, rushing towards the card. “Next up, Megapolar is going to destroy Oafdragon! Arctic Crusher!” “I don’t think so!” Daichi shouted, playing the Action Card he just picked up. “Action Card - Debris Shield! This prevents the destruction of one monster I control only once!” Soon a small shield of falling debris appeared before Oafdragon Magician and protected him from the incoming attack of Megapola. Or so he thought... “Useless! I activate Action Spell - Eclipse Event! During this battle phase, all action spells have their effects negated! Finish it off, Megapolar!” "W-What?! That's a trick I wasn't expecting!" he exclaimed, basically watching the shield of falling debris immediately vanish from in front of Oafdragon Magician. Daichi slightly gritted his teeth again, before attempting to outrun the incoming attack. Unfortunately, this put him at a huge disadvantage...now that he couldn't use any Action Cards during the Battle Phase. The attack struck true and it blew Daichi back quite a bit in the process. “Now, finish it off, Micpolar, Grand Chariot!” The two mechs mobilized at her command, Honey riding the synchro straight toward Daichi! The polar bear rammed him, then Grand Chariot’s scythe grazed him, knocking him down, and ending the duel. The area filled with the sound of clapping, and a bit of cheers. Nothing like a fully packed stadium, but enough to give Honey a little bit of warmth. As Daichi’s LP fell to 0, the area had lights appear around Honey as she rode Grand Chariot, showcasing her as the winner. The screens that showed their duel showcased such as well, while she stepped down to the ground, the duel fading away. Walking over to Daichi, she extended her hand and smiled softly. “Sorry if that was a bit… brutal. I actually thought you were really entertaining, good game!” The ivory magician simply was dusting himself off before extending his hand in response, a wide smile on his face. "Alas, my first Duel was one setting in loss...but, against someone like you, who was able to entertain and showcase to the audience in such a manner, I happily accept it. A truly entertaining game, miss Honey." Daichi smiled before holding her hand up high, practically doing a curtain call bow with her. "Ladies and gentlemen! Let's hear it for your victor in this Duel: Honey Froswald!" To this the audience began to cheer about this and once it was time for Daichi to take his leave, he exited the Duel field and made it to the locker room in order to change...taking the hat off, he simply looked at it. The smile on his face showed he had a fun time, to show that he enjoyed such an amazing Action Duel...but what laid underneath that smile? Was it...a bit of frustration? Sadness? No one but Daichi would know the answer to this.
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    Interview 4 - Cochlea the Namekian by Chaos Sonic (Ft. Guest Interviewer - Yui)
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    This sucked. Inu hated the fact he smelled the dolls all the way on the top of this building. To make things worse, he had to fight off robots to even get close to the dolls. They were easy enough, a few punches taking them down, but then something weird happened. Two robots dropped from the ceiling. Not only that, but they had really weird designs. One looked like a giant turtle covered in spikes, buzzsaws spinning out from the sides as flamethrowers sprouted from its back, the turtle staring blankly as jets of fire spewed from the weapons. The other had a long thin body, one Inu was pretty sure was supposed to be a baguette. Looking it, he saw a silly hat on its head, and a small curly mustache on its face, solidifying that idea. The poor robot had no hands, instead ending on what looked liked scythes, but looking closely, Inu realized the scythes were modeled after croissants. "What idiot made these designs...?" Inu muttered. Watching the screens, seeing students come across bizarre and impractical robots only brought a smile to the Pro Hero's face as he held up a notebook full of crazy robots designs. "They're even more beautiful than I thought," He said as he went back to creating robot designs with the skills of a preschooler scribbling in a coloring book. The support teacher Mr. Deerc looked over his shoulder, sighing. "One day I'll figure out how you keep slipping these designs into my tests," He muttered. "Don't worry about it, John," Terro commented. Inu sighed to himself as he rolled passed the two robots, picking up the two human sized dolls, one on each shoulder. "Alright, you pile of scraps, let's do this!" Inu barked as he bared his teeth. The baguette robot only flexed its metal arms angrily before it walked behind the robot turtle, rearing its leg back, obviously trying to kick the dangerous turtle into Inu. However, when it swung its leg, the foot got caught in the buzzsaws, shredding its foot instantly, which caused the robot to lose its balance, falling forward and having its entire body shredded to bits, neither robot reacting to the turn of events. Inu stared blankly as the turtle fired off the flamethrowers, the flames falling short a few inches from actually hitting him. He looked down at the turtle's feet. Waiting for it to move, but soon realized it had nothing. No legs, no wheels, not treads. The turtle couldn't move. With a sigh of relief, he went to leave the building, when the whole structure shook. "What the H-E-double fuck was that?!" Inu called out. Tai sighed to himself as he placed down over 30 dolls on the sidewalk, wiping his brow. He was really lucky that the test was in the afternoon, and not at night. He dusted his hands off and went to find more dolls to help when a loud booming noise caught his attention. "What was that?" He turned, looking at the giant building that was starting to fall over, its giant shadow covering the entire area. "Shinobu, what the heck did you do?" He muttered to himself, having a good guess at the actual answer. With a sigh, he cracked his knuckles and ran over. The building fell over, a deafening sound being heard as the building began to break everything around it with its sheer weight. Tai stood in its shadow defiantly, holding out his hands, and catching it before the building could touch the ground. Gritting his teeth, he lifted the sideways building over his head, struggling to make sure it didn't topple into the ground. "No need to fear, I got it," Tai stated as he began to walk down the street, carrying the building to the outskirts of town. "I... I need to think of a better catchphrase," He muttered. "Maybe 'there's no need to feel, I am here!'?" he decided to leave that for later, focusing on leaving the building balanced as he made his way out of town. "Shit, shit, shit, fuck, fuck, fuck!" The poetic words of Inu rang out as the building he was inside began to topple over. He couldn't keep his footing as the floor became the walls, and the glass windows became the floor... that couldn't withstand the weight of both him and the robot, who began to fall over hundred feet down towards the unforgiving ground. Thinking fast, Inu spun himself around, taking a deep breath in before letting out a torrent of flame, the force of which greatly slowed his descent. Keeping his grip tight on the dolls, he felt a foreign feeling in his chest, a sense of pride. He was going to make it out okay, thanks to some fast thinking! But pride always comes before a fall. Some debris from the building were falling as well, and a particularly large rock nailed the wolf boy in the head, causing the boy to stop breathing fire and fall back down to the ground, his vision getting dark. "No, no, no!" His mind called out as his body spun through the air, steam coming out of his eyes. "It's not fai---," He was knocked out the instant his body crashed into the ground, leaving the injured boy laying in a crater, his grips on the dolls lost.
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    <OOC> BGM: Personality Quiz - Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX Listen. Can you hear the voice carried by the winds of time? "You...you can hear me, right?" You cannot ignore it. Only those with willing hearts can hear the call across the boundary of space. "Could you be a human? If you are, then that means...I finally found you!" After all, you are one of those extraordinary beings we call humans. "This world...needs your help. Please come...and lend your strength!" O you have undergone the test of the soul. You who have proven yourself worthy. I await your arrival in the world of Pokémon. "Be strong! Stay smart! And be victorious!" And remember. Wherever there is light, there must also be shadow. In the belly of an ancient ruin, several people woke up at the same time. Now, they could have woken from the steady trickle of nearby water, or the jagged blue edges of the broken cobblestone beneath, or the damp chill that clung to their forms, or even something else. Regardless, they were awake. Surrounding them were sandstone walls webbed with cracks thick with moss. Water dripped from a ceiling that had previously held a honeycomb pattern, but now showed a broken mosaic. Here and there, once mighty cylindrical pillars lay collapsed into piles of stone, while others still stood proudly over crumbling foundations. To the side, a clear spring-fed pool wore away at the sharp edges of its confines, spilling out into a canal that ran underneath one of the brick walls. Though one could not call the atmosphere cozy by any means, it carried a certain serenity to it. The air was still and heavy with moisture. Shadows smudged the sharp edges of the room in the dusky light from the cracks above. Even the cries of distant creatures were but a faint echo. Despite this peace, the people gathered there would find their minds clouded by confusion and uncertainty. Their names and experiences in a certain forum shone clearly, as if lit by a spotlight, yet beyond that there was nothing. No history, no semblance of who they were beyond their life on that forum. In addition, a strange feeling of wrongness lingered in the backs of their consciousnesses. Something about them had changed. Map OOC
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    ←Previous Post Weeks Four, Five, And Six -- I’d Say The Three Musketeers But Only One Of The Newcomers Is I’ve been alluding to a limit different from the strict one Darkest Dungeon imposes on its higher difficulties, and last week I said I would talk about it this week, l here it is: There are four levels of quest in a standard game: Apprentice (level 1), Veteran (level 3), Champion (level 5) and Darkest (level 6). The goal is simply to clear the Darkest Dungeon’s four quests, so you might expect to be able to simply grind Apprentice dungeons until all your heroes are maxed out since that will minimize the chance of failure. But adventurers can refuse to go into dungeons. If they’re two levels higher than the quest difficulty they scoff at your attempt to put them in a lineup. This isn’t the only way they’ll refuse, though. If they’ve managed to survive their venture into the Darkest Dungeon and emerge victorious, they will never go back in. We don’t need 4 heroes brave enough to face whatever horrors lay within, we need 16. You’ll notice we only have 24 slots, so we can afford 8 deaths total before the game starts getting really difficult to win. Like, sure, we could send less than a full team into the hardest quests in the game, but, you know, is it even comprehendible that we might win? Now, technically the mod removes this feature, so heroes will only take a massive Stress penalty for returning to the Darkest Dungeon, and if you do this challenge yourself and end up doing that, don’t let anyone call your achievement any lesser. I just don’t want to. So that’s the limit. These 24 adventurers are going to reach the level cap of 6 startlingly quickly, and we’re only going to be able to push back the inevitable by doing those Champion-level dungeons for so long. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what’s on the docket today. Cooperative: +5% Crit when Guarded Ravenous: Doubled food consumption Ah yes, the three DLC holdouts are going to be making their way into the game. Amani here probably shouldn’t have Ravenous for very long, but thanks to the newly unlocked Sanitarium, we can start to purge these undesired quirks. Everything else would fall under the purview of the Guild. All this is expensive, of course, hampered even further by the fact we failed to complete the mission last week, but rebuilding starts today. I do, in fact, have a plan. The first part of that plan is to get rid of the two Antsy quirks in the party. I’m planning to go to the Weald again -- this time, it offers a Warrior’s Cap that increases the accuracy of melee skills -- so Hakima and Elmer will come with this time, leaving Skaia behind for therapy. I should note also that you want to get rid of these quirks quickly for another reason: the longer they stay, the more ingrained they become, the more expensive they are to remove. The biggest question mark here is the Plague Doctor, given that she’s a blight-heavy class and the enemies in the Weald are generally resistant to blight. We have her in the third position, though, so her dagger can inflict some bleed, and really, I just want her as a secondary healer since Junjeong’s healing is over time rather than immediate. Really, the biggest thing that can go wrong is if we run into the Collector again, though what are the chances of that? (I’d say this is dangerously tempting fate, but I already know what happens this week, it’s not). Night Owl: +2 Speed when Torchlight is low Rotten: -25% Healing when Blighted Thin-Blooded: -10% Blight Resist I forgot to get this screenshot until the end of my time this week, so he didn’t start with Thin-Blooded but he sure has that now. I really don’t want this guy blighted, but the Flagellant is otherwise super cool, and nothing too debilitating has shown up on the one we get. I also dropped off Hakima and Elmer Fudd in the Sanitarium to get rid of his particular antsiness. Unfortunately, they don’t let you remove more than one thing at a time, but that one definitely has to go first. Running an Antiquarian and no healer into the Cove is a little risky, but I rationalized it by saying this: We need gold otherwise we’re just going to be floating in place until we start being able to manage Medium-length dungeons, and Josephine can still work to keep everyone off Death’s Door in a pinch. Besides, the Cove is known for being full of armored enemies (or scales that are like armor, anyway), and each of the other heroes can pierce through it. We should be able to speed through a few of these fights. Fairweather Fighter: +20% Damage at full health Profuse Bleeder: -25% Healing received while bleeding Dipsomania: Intense craving for alcohol Our last addition to the team, with a screenshot of her so new that I didn’t even change the name yet. Like I mentioned before, she’s another Arbalest, but another Arbalest is not a bad thing to have. In fact, she’s probably good enough to take with us into the final run of the week. Margaret probably could have been the healer by herself, especially for a Short-length mission and especially in the Warrens. Still, I wanted to be sure after the previous run, so Alhazred came with as well. We also get to see Damian in action, since the Flagellant shines here, and The Goliath’s main attack also inflicts bleed, so he’s a welcome addition as well. Speaking of, low accuracy fighters like The Thrall are why having accuracy trinkets are so important. The Warrior’s Cap went straight onto him. That’s it for this week. Next real-life week, we should be hitting Week 10, which will be when step one of my grand plan comes to fruition. I’ll give you a hint, it involves the truest eldritch horror of them all: Capitalism. -r ←Previous Post
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    ←Previous Post -- Next Post→ Weeks Two and Three: Welcome to the Show I wouldn’t normally talk about The Butcher’s Circus this early. It’s clearly meant for people already familiar with Darkest Dungeon’s mechanics. But an event fires on Week Two that heals an extra 10 Stress if you play a round and I need as many edges as I can get, so here we are. I actually did a couple fights with a couple different teams just to confirm my feelings. I’m not going to go into the details of each fight, but here’s the gist of Darkest Dungeon’s PvP mode: Okay for starters, the mode is kinda hit or miss. I mean, it’s free and doesn’t detract from the rest of the experience, so, like, there’s no reason not to try it out for yourself, but the matchmaking isn’t great, the connections are likely buoyed by the game being turn-based and even then are prone to failure, and, well, the game just wasn’t balanced or even built for a competitive head-to-head environment. Changes have been made, still, in an attempt to try. The biggest one is that the “things that hit multiple targets do less damage” design choice has been pared back, so they’re much more viable now. Multi-target attacks are also the ones that tend to do stress damage to help that strategy become more viable as well -- not to mention a tuning of the afflictions. It’s also harder to kill enemy heroes, with the Death’s Door system (that I’ll explain in more detail later) applying to your opponent just as much as it does to you. It’s still a game of dice rolls, and sometimes your opponent is just going to win more dice rolls than you, but Darkest Dungeon in general is about weighing that risk versus the reward anyway, so it’s not all bad. That being said, some heroes are downright unusable. Here’s a tier list for you: S) Arbalest, Crusader, Houndmaster A) Man-at-Arms, Bounty Hunter, Abomination, Jester B) Flagellant, Vestal, Occultist, Antiquarian C) Shieldbreaker, Leper, Highwayman, Grave Robber D) Hellion, Plague Doctor Musketeer wasn’t on the tier list maker I found, but she’s actually different from the Arbalest in this mode, and I’d put her in C-tier because of that. Every single difference leaves the Arbalest in an advantageous position. The big pro-tip for your Butcher’s Circus experience is to be as disruptive as possible. If the opponent has to spend time fixing the problems you’ve created, that’s time they’re not enacting their game plan. That’s one way a hero can be high-tier: their disruptive potential, or ability to not be disrupted. The other is versatility, or “How many potential teams can this hero be a part of?” The Arbalest and Crusader both can act as pretty tanky healers while also serving to disrupt or straight kill the opponents, so that’s why they get the top slots, and the Houndmaster rounds out the S-tier by never getting caught out of position and doing whatever else you need in the meantime. I’m not going to go down the entire list because we’d be here all day. Instead, here are the teams I tend to work with: Stressed Out: What it says on the tin. Man-At-Arms’ Bellow inflicts stress and debuffs damage to keep the team alive while the Occultist pulls the enemy backline into Zealous Persecution and Grapeshot Blast range. Marked For Death: As much disruption as possible in one team. Pulls, pushes, stuns, marks… this team snowballs and snowballs hard. Jester could also be effective here since Dirk Stab is good at getting past Death’s Door checks and Finale just straight-up ignores them, but this is the combination I like the most. Caped Crusaders: All aboard the Leper train on this one. Battle Ballad buffs Accuracy, and the Leper’s Chop will mow everything down. Arbalest is to keep the stuns off and Crusader is to stun and keep everyone alive. Bleeding Me Dry: Exactly what it says on the tin. Three bleeders and a Vestal who can stun and keep everyone alive. Get Out of Dodge: The “cheese” comp. If your opponent doesn’t have a Jester, Man-at-Arms, or Musketeer (and those last two are going to require some upkeep), your opponent isn’t going to even be able to hit you. Eventually, your Graverobber’s poison darts will blight and/or stress everyone out. Have fun with those. Me, I’ve got some more Ruins to explore. I mean, first, we need to keep Hakima and Elmer Fudd busy somehow, so I’ve decided to have them pray away their sins. While I’m loathe to have a repeat adventurer so early into the run (we’ll get into why next week), Skaia doesn’t have any stress at all and one extra run isn’t going to ruin my plans. It does mean I had to agonize about who to put where, but I came up with a plan. You’ll notice the Caretaker hanging out in the Transept there. That’s just what he normally does when he’s not selling supplies, hanging out in the various stress-relief facilities, gumming up the operation just a little extra bit. There are a few new things on this page, so let me break it down real quick. The most noticeable is the firewood now joining the lineup. I chose a Medium dungeon this early in the game mostly because the heirloom reward was a couple of portraits. Portraits are probably the rarest of the four main heirlooms, and not only are they what most facilitates upgrading the adventurers' moves and gear, I would also like as close to 50 of them as I can by Week 10 for a surprise tool that will help us later. Medium dungeons are dangerous because, well, they’re longer than Short dungeons. There are also Long dungeons, and two other lengths that are spoilers to get into so I won’t right now. The longer the dungeon, the more opportunities for mistakes and bad luck there are. There is some respite, though. The firewood allows the adventurers to camp in any empty room, which can either provide buffs or help relieve stress as needed. Long dungeons give two such logs, for however much that helps. I should also talk about my selected party a bit. I already mentioned Skaia’s role in things, just keeping him busy for a bit, but Sethera is probably the odd one out here, given that the Jester, as mentioned, is a bleeder class and the skeletons in the ruins are very resistant to bleed. We’re not using Seth to bleed the skeletons, though. We’re going to make sure Yui can hit things. Alhazred can heal and help Skaia pull things into Yui’s blade as well, though, as we’ve discussed, taking an Occultist as the only healer is a little risky. Then again, Yui can heal himself, so maybe there’s less to worry about. In retrospect, I probably should have packed more bandages. There's another tip for you all: Always pack more bandages. Probably good life advice in general, really. The biggest help in Week Three is the Guild and Blacksmith buildings opening up. These are how we’re going to train you to be better units and get you better gear respectively. They’re costly endeavors, but they’re also one-time investments. Once a certain hero knows a move or has a better sword, they have it for as long as they’re alive. We can save a little money right now, then, by taking Doggo and Euryale on our next mission. As two of our three transforming classes, none of them need to learn new moves, simply upgrade them when the time comes. Boudica only really needs to learn If It Bleeds, and Ren just needs to learn Guillotine. So that’s the party I decided to take into the next dungeon. We’re moving a little bit. This time, we’re going into the Weald. I chose a short Weald mission because of the trinket offered as a reward: a Speed Stone. Trinkets are little charms you can add to the adventurers to give them little buffs. There are some drawbacks to many of them -- taking increased stress damage is a common one, for example -- but a Speed Stone just offers a generic +1 speed, so it’s worth fighting to get. That’s all for this week. I'm still reeling from that Collector encounter, but there’s no reason to panic. We’ve even, believe it or not, got a few more recruits coming in that should hopefully help us out. Plus, now that it’s Week 4, the Sanitarium is now open, and I can start making good on those threats promises to fix you into shape. Oh, and Thar, we’ll get you a turn in the dungeon too. ←Previous Post -- Next Post→
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    Z's suggestion of Wobbuffet made Noibat sheepishly retract some into herself. The idea seemed obvious with it pointed out like that. Still her assessment stood that a Wobbuffet didn't strike her as particularly dangerous. The Rotom arrived to exchange some words with the feisty Zorua before the latter took their leave to press on into the hopefully not much danger. That left Noibat back with the bundle of literal energy that was Es, uncertain how to address her fellow human-turned-pokemon. She had half a mind to simply continue following Z. But the immediate spirits to do that were soon dashed as she heard very plainly the Zorua calling back that whatever she had heard, the pokemon ahead did not match. As if aware off their new talents being doubted Noibat's ears drooped and she instinctively tried to stroke them as if they were long human hair. Something about it felt right. Did she have long hair normally? Thinking about that wasn't going to get her anywhere. Moving forward seemed to be the only real option as the procession of Falinks passing by the hallway soon reaffirmed. With the sounds of more shouting she turned to Es. "Guess we should get in there." Noibat said with something resembling confidence. Taking to the air once more Noibat flew a bit smoother this time through to the new room. The sight ahead of her was something to be sure. What she couldn't quite place. Z and Hector were in the middle of combat as the noises had indicated. But where was the Wobbuffet? Noibat's ears pinged the room, establishing its size firmly in her mind. And yet somehow there was the sound of two distinctly Wobboffet like shapes, exactly where the Staryu were. What's more the Cleffa Noibat could clearly see with her own eyes sounded like a little dinosaur plushie with a tail and everything. "Just my luck I'd get the hypersensitive ears that don't work right." the bat groaned as the cheery voice from earlier sounded again in her head. Something about being Team Beta didn't feel right. But the more pressing matter was the aggressive pokemon in the room, one of the Staryu was even already latched onto one of the six faces of the Falinks. A menu to tell her her moves would have been helpful but Noibat wasn't finding any luck there. She was just behind Hector now though being in the air she had a good look at the attacking Staryu. "Obviously a flying type what would I knoooow...." Noibat tried to wrack her brain for a knowledge of pokemon move pools. For her troubles her wings picked up in intensity. Something about this felt right, like her body knew what to do already. It felt like her wings moved in slow motion as they reeled back more dramatically than they usually would to sustain her flight. With a single mighty flap Gust erupted from Noibat's position in the air, squarely striking the Staryu off of Hector's face and back into the Cleffa and knocking it away. The Staryu was clearly dazed and missed a water attack at Z and the Cleffa seemed even more worried after what had happened. "D-did I do that?" Noibat started in disbelief. She was even still maintaining her position in the air and not crashing into a wall, or one of Hector's butts. This had to be her lucky day. Aside from the waking up as a Pokemon bit. "I mean hah! Take that! Totally planned!" she ultimately asserted, trying to convince herself more than anyone that this had always been her intention.
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    "Hey, did you read the paper today? Seems there was a freak accident a couple of days ago in the subway..." Quick and Dirty version of the Application (But please watch the video, it took a lot of work): Colored Character Images
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    Hello will put the app here when I can, probably tomorrow knowing myself, yo "Oh, great, now I'm a Pokemon...hey what're you looking at? Keep walkin if you don't wanna throw down!"
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    Hmmm, well...haven't been in a Pkmn RP since Fallen God...why the fuck not! Anthem of the Lonely
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    "I was just waiting on a print but... What was a print again? Can't seem to remember... But! -Bzzzzt!- I do remember that you should only use ABS Filaments if you have a fume hood!"
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    Tsetseg continued to eye the Isaurian boy cautiously, even despite the dogs seeming to have gone over to him as if to assure the group that he was fine. Tsetseg was not usually one to argue on the authority of something so fluffy, unless they could also turn into humans, but even still her fears hadn't let up. As Rocky and Timmy continued to exchange pleasantries with each other, Tsetseg took a startled step back and let out a yelp as the boy called out, "Phasia." Though it seemed to be something to help Timmy get out of the hole, she had no idea what it actually was that Rocky was doing, Tsetseg was still frightened that it had been some kind of strange dark magic word that the boy had been casting. Looking up to the sky, and then from the side to, then behind her, she determined that nothing had actually happened...yet. Still concerned, Tsetseg appeared as if she had some kind of twitch as she kept looking in a different direction then Rocky every few seconds. As Gunther had gone to ask him about his goings on here, the girl swiftly nodded along with it. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Did you do any like weird dark magicy magic stuff? Like making a a biiig flying rocky wyvern - " the girl gasped and cut herself off. Muttering to herself, "rock, Rocky, wyvern," the girl hid behind Gunther again as she continued to stare the Isaurian down. Alois shrugged as Edrick made his comment about the stone dragons, only for him to point at Citron and say, "see, both got lizard stuff in our hometown. They might be more common then you think." As Edrick and Ciela both started to make their way out of the room, Alois's mother had come back in. Frowning a bit as she chastised him, slightly embarrassed by it the boy quickly recovered his usual demeanor saying, "come on, Mom, me? Tease him? I never. I haven't teased Eddy once our whole journey, not a once." Then doing nothing to assuage their concerns about him, as Citron seemed to have similar concerns about Edrick's state he simply waved the concerns off. "I'm sure he just needs to walk it off, really. There's not a stab wound out there that could keep him down for long. And for all of her many, many..." the boy stopped himself for a moment before finishing, "eccentricities, that girl is one heck of a uh, doctor, we'll say. So even if anything bad happens I'm sure...he'll be fine..." The boy's words trailed off at the end as he could only imagine what kind of trouble they would actually get into. Flashing a smile to Citron and his mother he said, "there's nothing to worry about."
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    BGM: Fire Emblem: Three Houses - A Dark Sign Catriona stared down at her goblet moodily. It had been a long day. Too long of one. It was only yesterday that the group had fought off a horde of Awakened and the spirit of Abbot Jack of Alltrades appeared before them, granting them the ability to rewrite their destinies. He also had shown the others a vision of his past while she took a walk with Link. She had needed a break from that place and its strange atmosphere. After they all left that place behind, they traveled westward toward a town Licorice had mentioned. The challenge was getting there. They gave up on crossing the rain-swollen river for the night. The next day, today, they had crossed it, but were set upon by a group of beavers. After some struggle, they made it across, but Licorice had an issue causing her to separate, with some others following. Catriona and the rest reached the village, and headed further inward, guided by a beaver and the sound of roaring. At the village square, they found a wyvern rider passed out and her wyvern stuck under a stall. After getting them out, they found that the wyvern rider was named Citron and the wyvern Peaches, and they had stumbled upon the village just earlier that day. As for the village itself… Catriona took a cautious sip of the wine. She knew it was foolish, but wine had always been a weakness of hers. She took more sips, and then more. And then the goblet was almost drained. The village had been full of animals. Soon, a member of the militia, Cora, appeared, and after getting over her initial suspicion, guided them to her house. The animals’ strange behavior, and the naked people, led the group to conclude that the villagers had been ensorcelled into animals, and their livestock into people. Cora had escaped the curse as she had been out scouting. Eventually, Licorice and the others reunited with the main group, and it was decided that they needed to go to the mayor’s house and investigate. After some searching, and the mayor arriving himself, they found a secret passage underneath the house, which led them to the town hall. The group fought a stone statue there that looked like a wyvern, but was more majestic. After defeating the statue with the help of burning the flowers, the village’s curse was lifted. Afterward, most of the group followed Alois’s mother, Mene, to her house, though many of them had also split off to do their own thing. On Catriona's way to Pylauses’s house, she had heard villagers mention how a militia girl named Phaidra had taken Tsetseg fishing, that Sienna had helped Amas and then borrowed his dog Icleias, and that Gunther had followed them. The lord did not know their present situation. She herself had recently been accompanied by Link, Citron, and the unconscious Ciela, though she had sent them ahead after Link’s wolf Rohns had bitten Pylauses’s leg. Catriona had apologized and chosen to stay at his house in recompense. Which led to her current situation. “My benediction once again for your treatment of my leg. How do you exclaim the wine? It is most splendiferous, no?” Pylauses gestured grandly, dark hair gleaming like oil in the candlelight. Catriona tilted her head to the side, hair brushing over her dark eyes. “It’s…good.” Almost…too good. Good Galtean wine, something she would not expect to find out in this backwater Histian village. Her eyes narrowed on the person across from her in suspicion. “It should be. I remain, in hindmost, an aristocrat. Not at all alike to the hoi polloi.” “Interesting…pardon me…but I had thought Histia…to have done away with their nobility.” She spoke slowly. It was as if there were a dam between her thoughts and her mouth. Every word spoken took several times the effort it usually took to say. “You speak authentically…” the man’s muddy eyes never moved from hers. “You are, legitimately, a most sagacious ruler.” The room was spinning. Catriona shook her head. But that just made it worse. “Apologies. Can you repeat…” she cut off. The headache that had been plaguing her all day pounded at her temples with renewed vigor. “Oh, how barbarous of me! I had not cogitated your estate of lassitude! Permit me to navigate you upstairs to your suite!” The man hurried over to catch her as she slumped over in her chair. The woman stared up at him weakly, coughing as she inhaled his heavy perfume. “Yes…I seem to be…more…than I thought…apologies…” Though she had the will, she lacked the energy to keep her words from breaking up and slurring. Even now, she found exhaustion eroding away her will, and also her consciousness. “No lamentations are mandatory, my respected sovereign.” His shadowed face broke into a grin. “I am, postliminary, thy modest serf.” Catriona nodded and closed her eyes, letting sleep overtake her. — Alois, Penelope, Edrick, Link, Citron, and Abdul sat inside Alois’s mother Mene’s house. Ciela still lay unconscious outside atop Remy. Though most of them were comfortable with light conversation, Abdul found himself increasingly uneasy, especially since the mayor and Mene still hadn’t returned from their clandestine conversation outside. He knew he had to be setting out for Pylauses's house with Link soon, but a thought itched away at his brain. Some would call it paranoia, but he knew it as a justified concern. “Excuse me,” he spoke to the others politely, leaving the house to better listen to their talk. Unless accompanied, only he would be privy to the following conversation. “I still don’t think it wise, Mayor,” Mene shook her head. “They’re just kids, most o’ ‘em. What they don’t know won’t hurt ‘em, an’ gettin’ ‘em involved, well…” The mayor sighed. “Don’t you realize, Mene? They’re already involved. They’ve seen the statue, the town hall, and they’ve got their own suspicions. That younger princess, she has said little, but it’s quite obvious she suspects—” “‘An yer saying she’s a princess, an’ all? That sweet thing? Why, I still can’t believe it! My Alois, consortin’ with princesses?” The woman clicked her tongue. “Ye knows I want the best for ‘im, Mayor. We’re naught but humble village folk at heart, despite what we do. We’re not meant ta get involved with them nobles.” “Shh…” the mayor looked around furtively. “Don’t say that too loud. We don’t want anybody to hear.” “Ye worried about Pylauses?” “Him, and that man from Isauria. I don’t trust him. He’s got the stamp of magic on him. Just like that witch.” “Oh, you’re too much! Jes’ cuz summat’s from Isauria, don’t mean nuthin’.” While hearing Mene’s defense warmed Abdul’s shriveled heart, he could not help but concern himself with what the mayor had said. He knew it! He knew he was not welcome here. It would begin with whispers, then torches and pitchforks. And finally, he would be driven out. It had happened before, and it would happen again. When would he find people that would accept him and his withered appearance? Perhaps never. Regardless, he needed to leave before the situation reached a boiling point. Returning inside, he bowed to the others, especially Penelope. “My most humble apologies, but I must be going,” he rubbed his hands together nervously. “I have, ahem, noticed that my presence is unwelcome in this place, and would rather not risk getting thrown out. I would like to leave on my own terms.” Smiling at Penelope, he nodded. “May we meet again someday, Your Highness.” With that, he departed, taking his camel in hand. While he regretted parting from such a person of high standing so soon, especially since he hadn't turned around her negative view of him, it was that very thing that had him leaving. He could not rely on her, or the others, to defend him. Perhaps they would meet again, but for now, it was goodbye. — Gunther and Tsetseg had followed a dog named Lassie. It belonged to a boy named Timmy that had gotten stuck in the quarry pit. Sienna, Phaidra, and Icleias, after following Licorice’s trail and seeing she had crossed into Great Marsh, backtracked to the forest surrounding the village, and followed Icleias to the quarry pit as well. Now they stood, wondering how to get the boy out. “‘Ey there, Lassie, good girl!” Timmy shouted. “‘Ello, are the rest o’ ye ‘ere ta rescue me?” He looked around and whistled. “Whooee sure is one big pit I fell inter. But I bet mah good friend Raki can ‘ave me out in two shakes of a wyvern’s tail. ‘E shouldn't be far. I was talkin’ to ‘im shortly afore everythin’ ‘appened an’ all.” OOC
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    RIP to the legendary John Madden
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    I got hired by a company called Cognizant as an Oracle Developer. According to my onboarding documents, my official start day is January 3rd. I’ll be making $24 hourly. I’m still waiting on my placement at the moment. Hope to have that on Monday.
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    Logo by me Quite a while a ago, the first version of this site's card maker has gone online. While it does do its thing, there are quite a few points on which it could be improved. This entails both reworking the code (as it is quite a mess that hardly uses any of the available tooling), and adding new features that makes using it a great experience. Some parts of the development process will be detailed in this blog. Tooling improvements This first instalment will be about the original implementation and improvements to the toolchain for developing the newer version of the card maker. Bundling the code As indicated in the intro of this blog, the original implementation hardly used any tooling. Most of the code was written in plain HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. I beleive that, at the time, browsers hadn't standardized how to import dependencies from the code itself at the time (and even if they did, support among different browsers was subpar). This meant that you'd have to orchetrate the imports yourself, or place everything in one big file. Plain JavaScript <script src="level-editor.js"></script> <script src="name-editor.js"></script> <!-- And many more such lines… --> <script src="card-maker.js"></script> As some parts of the code depend on the content of another file, you'd need to make sure the order which the files are imported is correct; files without dependencies first, any others after all of their dependencies. As you can imagine, this is quite error prone. You could probably hack something together like the following to have a file specify it's own dependencies. But there are some edge cases involved that are easy to get wrong. function dependOn(url) { var dependency = document.createElement("script"); dependency.src = url; dependency.onLoad = callback; document.body.appendChild(dependency); } dependOn("level-editor.js"); // At this point, the dependency would not have been loaded yet, // so using any of the code in the relevant file would lead to // errors. new LevelEditor(); // Using a callback instead that is invoked when the file has loaded // is more likely to work out correctly. dependOn("level-editor.js", function() { // There is however no guarantee that the code in "level-editor.js" has // run at this point. Any definitions might thus not be in effect yet. }); Another issue with the naïve implementation above is that it does not check whether the file has already been imported, for example when multiple different files have the same dependency. This could lead to useless duplication of code. RequireJS Luckily there was a project available that took care of most of these issues, and had some other utilities that you might not have thought about. I'm referring to RequireJS. You'd wrap the content of your file in a function called "define", where you specify on which other files it depends, and what to do once all dependencies have loaded. // level-editor.js define([], function(){ return function LevelEditor() { // … } }); // card-maker.js define(["level-editor"], function(LevelEditor){ return function CardMaker() { // … } }); Optionally, you could even specify what to do when the dependency failed to load. Most code was thus wrapped in those "define" function calls. Now only the entry point needed to be included, and the dependencies would automatically resolve themselves. This was nice for development purposes, but for users and the server it isn't as great. First you download the HTML that specifies it needs a script file; fair enough lets fetch that as well. The browser then finds out that it needs another file(s) first, so download those as well; same story. This could go on for a little while, making the site slow to load. Luckily RequireJS also provided an optimizer that bundles all those files into a single file (or split something into different files that can be loaded later when actually needed). It also performed other optimizations, such as shortening function names, removing comments and whitespace. This would all lead to faster load times. This all sounds great, so why change it? Well… as it turns out not every dependency does support RequireJS. And in cases where they do, everything but the kitchensink is included. Not great for efficiency (as is typically noted in the relevant documentation). Manually managing software versions of used libraries is also not ideal. NPM/Yarn/etc As it turns out, there are a few options out there for managing dependencies of your project, irrespecitive of whether those are part of the output, or solely for helping with development (such as bundlers, linters that check whether your code follows a standard, or transpilers that take care of turning modern code into code understood by older browsers). Most of them are interchangeable; they pull in the code from a software library (and its dependencies), and keep track of which versions have been installed. I have picked "yarn". So if I were to add some dependencies I'd write something akin to: $ yarn add react react-dom $ yarn add --dev typescript Most libraries that you pull in this way also document how you should import them; effectively the same in all instances, but different compared to the code listed prior ("define"). Not too big of a deal, and looks somewhat neater when a lof of dependencies are involved. import React from "react"; import { render } from "react-dom"; import { Rating } from "@mui/material"; // Rating (by default) uses stars to let the users input a number; ideal for the level editor. render(React.createElement(Rating, { min: 0, max: 12 }), document.getElementById("root")); Now, if we were to directly use the above file, we'd probably run into the issue of the browser not understanding import statements; it is syntax that was introduced for a different code execution environment (Node). A transpiler/bundler could take care of resolving those dependencies. Webpack But wait, didn't we just go over RequireJS, and it not being suitable for the job? Yes, but there are quite a few other options out there. And unlike RequireJS they support the import syntax that is actually supported in some contexts. In my experience Webpack is most commonly used, including in scripts that help set-up boiler-plate code. So for example, if you have the following two files: // card-maker.js import { LevelEditor } from "./level-editor.js"; function CardMaker() { LevelEditor(); } CardMaker(); // level-editor.js export function LevelEditor() { console.log("Editing levels!"); } Webpack would generate output akin to the following (which has been somewhat simplified compared to actual output). (function(modules) { var installedModules = { }; function require(id) { if (installedModules[id]) { return installedModules[id].exports; } var module = installedModules[id] = { id: id, loaded: false, exports: {} }; modules[id](module, module.exports, require); module.loaded = true; return module.exports; } require("./card-maker.js"); })({ "./card-maker.js": (function(module, exports, require) { var LevelEditor = require("./level-editor.js")["default"]; (function CardMaker() { LevelEditor() })(); }), "./level-editor.js": (function(module, exports, require) { exports["LevelEditor"] = function() { console.log("Editing levels!"); } } }); This way the dependencies get correctly resolved in the required order, making it far easier to work with compared to plain JavaScript. Now at this point you might wonder whether all that hassle was worth the somewhat hard to read output, compared to where we started: manually ordering imports. I would say very much so. Though it might not be all that apparent from the code examples. Some benefits you also get (sometimes requiring plugins for Webpack) include: Optimizing output by stripping useless whitespace and comments, as well as renaming functions and variables to something less verbose, saving a lot of bytes in the long run Splitting code that is relevant for different pages into reusable packages, or only importing code when actually necessary Hot reloading, so you do not manually need to rebuild the code and refresh the page each time you make a change Allow for importing different file types, to make sure they are bundled. And I'm probably forgetting a few other advantages. That might have sounded like quite a few hoops to jump through, and might actually be the case. However, there have been some kind developers that have created some script that take care of most this stuff. Thanks to those scripts, it essentially boils down to running a single command, akin to the following (this is but one such command). $ yarn create next-app --typescript There might still be some configuration required depending on your use case, but I reckon it still greatly simplifies things fo you. And with that I'll end of this post; it has already gone on for longer than I initally intended, despite hardly involving any code of the card maker itself.
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    Another soft pastel piece of my other sister's dog: Millie
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    Pokémon Crossroads OOC Welcome to the World of Pokémon! This world is inhabited by many creatures called Pokémon, each more unique and fantastical than the last. The people of this world have learned to coexist alongside Pokémon. Living with them, proving themselves in battle alongside them, and researching their many mysteries. There is a wide variety of Pokémon, just as there are a variety of Pokémon Trainers! Some challenge the Pokémon League, some attempt to rise to the top of the Contest world. And some take a different path entirely, one that leads to a grand adventure... Aether Paradise The island was artificial; Man-made to house and service Pokémon. A large, stark white collection of rectangular structures all welded together upon a central floating base in the middle of Alola's ocean. The soft rolling of the waves and the screeching of the Wingull that flew through the air were the only sounds that surrounded the great Aether Paradise. A video feed was playing, projected on the wall of a dimly lit office. It was a wide shot from far away, depicting a rolling hill that rose up high above a small village, up against the bright morning sky. The plume of debris and the large moving object that had collided with the hilltop was exceptionally visible against the backlighting of the sunrise. The thin form in the desk chair leaned forward, surveying the feed as it was paused, looking intently at the spherical form that was frozen against the Alola sky. "Do you think it could be one of them?" asked his companion, her voice sounding quite loud in the quiet room. The thin form at the desk considered briefly before saying, with a steady, calm voice. "Perhaps not... The signs aren't identical to past incidents... But it wouldn't hurt to check." "Paranoid, are we?" asked his companion cheerily. But his tone did not lighten as he answered. "Aether's made enough mistakes. I'd like to get ahead of one, for a change. Get us past what got us here in the first place." "You say 'us' like they were your decisions, Mr. President. They were your mother's." "I'm just the acting President... And my point stands. Who here can go?" "I'll see what I can wrangle up. We have some adventurous new hires lately; Perhaps they'll do!" A Day In Paradise The rest of the island was not so somber. A whirlwind of activity abounded in the Conservation Area on the second floor. A great sprawling array of greenery and artificial rivers ran through the floor, all framed by sleek railed walkways that collected at rounded platforms. Often these walkways would be crowded with the visitors that now regularly toured the place, invited by the acting President. But today the greenery was where the real action was. An absolute mess of Pokémon were scattered throughout the garden, of all types and shapes. Corsola, Wingull, Crabrawler, Fomantis, Mudbray, Pichu, Staryu, a few Exeggutor that stretched high up above towards the domed glass ceiling and the bright sun beyond, and even a massive, sprawling Snorlax were crowding up the garden, with a handful of white-uniformed Aether employees struggling to move their way through them without trampling on the smaller ones. "Alright, everybody, hustle, hustle! And no, I do not mean the ability!" A tall, lean man in Aether white with slicked-back hair and a large pair of green spherical sunglasses over his eyes marched through the ranks of employees, clapping his hands together loudly to punctuate his words. The empluyees largely tried to stay out of the way; Assistant Branch Chief Faba was well known to be an unholy terror when he didn't have his orders followed to the letter. Faba held out a white bag, composed of a biodegradable white material and filled to the brim with lozenges of an orange and blue color. "Every Pokémon in our care needs their dose of medicine for inoculation!" he called out, almost being drowned out from the various calls and trills of the Pokémon underfoot. "Be sure to apply the proper dosage, ESPECIALLY to the Snorlax! But first... Somebody needs to take care of the Exeggutor!" He pointed up the great trunks of the four massive Coconut Pokémon, who were staring down at him and smiling dopily. "One dose for each head!" He scowled, pivoting on the spot as he squinted through a small flock of Pikipek. The ones that were more old hat at the Foundation quickly dove out of his sight, some behind trees, others into the nearby river, and one behind the Snorlax, narrowly avoiding being crushed as it rolled over. Finally, Faba's eyes settled on his chosen victims for the task. "You! You! You! Aaaaaaand... YOU!" he called out dramatically, pointing with a flourish on each one. "You four! Take three of these," he yelled out over the din, holding out the bag of medicine, "and get them to those Exeggutor! I don't care if you get them to lean down, lie down, or if you shimmy up their neck, just get it done!"
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    Risa looked up frantically at the board. ALL these students that she had to worry about, all these people she didn’t know… She zoned in on the ones she knew to be wary of. “First place,” she said quickly, sitting next to Ben as she started to pull off her stabilizers. No way those bulky things would be of any use in this. She would almost certainly have to be the rider. “I saw Hoshi-sama lift a building. We can’t compete with that. Shoshiki also stopped the Ferris wheel on his own, so we should avoid him.” Her voice was fast, her words flying out quickly. But she didn’t have the same manic energy as she had had a second ago. Her brow was furrowed, not looking at Ben, not at anything really, just staring ahead as she finished pulling off her stabilizers. Deep in thought “I know a few of the Hero Course quirks from class, but I don’t have everything. Which ones from Class A do we need to be worried about?” "Class A? Hmmm…" Benjamin looked at the board and nodded. "Sun is unpredictable, like his Quirk. Kio is the most versatile of things, considering how many cards he has. Then again, it depends on which one he ends up using...if he hasn't already used one." He paused, his hand on chin before sighing. "Rika has the range with her chameleon tongue...and Ayane has her sound Quirk. Meanwhile Takehiko has his Pawns with his Chess Quirk...though I [dunno] what else he's hiding up his sleeves." Once again, Benjamin paused before sighing. "The only one I can't put my finger on is Diana. I'm honestly unsure what her Quirk does. I know specifically Sun and Rika up close due to working with them during that ex...am…" Benjamin's face turned slowly to one that didn't look great, as if recalling a bad memory, which...if Risa was smart, she'd realize what it was. He shook his head quickly and cleared his throat. "A-Anyway...I think that we may need to find a way to play it safe and do what we can." Risa, however, was in her own little world, and hadn’t spotted Ben’s pause. She finished removing the stabilizer cages from her shoes, standing and holding them awkwardly in her hands. “Seigi-sama… Well, she’s in the first place team so we should probably avoid her anyway…” She was frowning, deep in thought. “.... Ooooooh, I don’t know who to GO for!” She started bobbing around Ben in a circle. “Everyone in the Hero Course just seems so strong!” "Just need to figure out how to hinder them is all." Benjamin said with a shrug. "How bout this for an idea: instead of figuring out who to go for first, how about we figure out a way to just survive? Ya know, attack and retaliate if necessary. We play it defensive in the long run." Then something popped into his mind and his face lit up. "Ohhhhh!!! Ya know what? Risa we can do something else! You can pull people off balance with your Quirk...and with my spiders doing the same thing, we shouldn't have too much of an issue." “Oh no, what am I doing?!” she suddenly yelled, thrusting the stabilizers into his hands. “Quick, quick, put these on, I can’t believe I just wasn’t going to use them at all!” Benjamin yelped a bit, looking at the stabilizers and shrugged. Doing his best to put them on, he looked awkwardly at them and then at Risa. "I put these on correctly, right??" - - - - - - - After that the buzzer had sounded and they had to rush to their places. Risa was sweating bullets atop Ben’s shoulders as he cautiously tested the weight of the stabilizing soles. I just have to... find a way. Find a way to get Ben through to the next round. That's all you have to do, Risa. The team didn’t have much time to adjust, however, before being set upon by an enemy. Just one enemy. From Class 1B, Mayu wasted no time approaching the team with intent to win. With no more warning than her showing up in the pair’s eyeline, she reached forward, opened a pair of eyes on her hands, and opened fire. “... Eh? What?!?” Risa waved her arms and Ben only barely managed to yank her out of the way of the two beams. “Ben! She doesn’t have a rider! Isn’t that against the rules?!” "Yeah, that's...uh...ref! Ref! Where's the call??" Benjamin blinked. “Oh, I have a rider,” Mayu interjected. Pointing upward, she continued “He’s up there, staying away from the action. As long as he doesn’t touch the ground, anything is permitted outside of lethal force, remember?” “No way…” Risa turned her head, looking up into the sky with wide eyes. Surely enough, there was a red-winged form soaring through the sky, one of two, but this one did not have Diana Seigi atop it. Risa felt her heartbeat starting to thud inside her ear. “Atsushi?!? You can do that?” “His Quirk is Crimson Wings,” Mayu shrugged. “It’s right there in the name.” “I meant not using him as a rider!” she called back defensively, embarrassed somehow amid the chaos. "...well...errors have been made on that." Benjamin sighed, to himself. "Okay then...improvisation is the name of the game." “What do we do?!” Risa asked frantically, almost toppling off of Ben as she ducked two more blasts from Mayu. “We can’t even touch Atsushi’s target!” "I think we have to focus on Mayu first...seeing as she is a bit more of a pressing threat." Benjamin quickly replied. "Also, calm down Risa! If you don't you'll fall...and you won't be able to truly shine with your support items." “Support items?!?” Risa grabbed onto the last word, processing only half of Ben’s assurances. Despite her convictions at the start of the event it had taken her less than a minute to begin panicking. “Uuuum, THIS one!” She reached to her belt and threw a small disc at Mayu, flinging it as hard as she could. Three iron balls sprang from it on long cable cords, and the whirling bola spun its way towards the student. Mayu - not expecting a support item so suddenly, let alone one meant to be thrown at her - was unfortunate enough to have one of her arms caught in the bola. Immediately, she started struggling her arm to try and get it free of the device, but stopped after only a moment. “It worked!” Risa yelled out, sounding just as surprised as she did relieved. "[Nice shooting, Tex!]" Benjamin cheered. Eyes on the Target A prolonged huff sounded from Mayu, as her attention turned back to her target team. “Okay, that’s on me,” she sighed, after a deep breath. “I shouldn’t be sleeping on the support class, especially when it’s someone who rescued a hero course student. I’ll be sure to take this seriously starting now!” Spanning the full breadth of her midriff, a large eye opened up on Mayu’s body, foregoing the previous bullet-type projectiles to fire a fully-fledged beam at the opposing team. "That's...not good." he clicked his tongue, before looking up at Risa. "Hang on real quick!" With that, Benjamin took initiative and began to move them out of the way of the eye-beam. "Hey, you probably need to ease up there. Otherwise I'm fairly certain your optometrist will hate you and the overexertion of those eyes." Yikes...probably not one of his better quips...he'd need to think of something better. Risa clung onto Ben’s head from her spot atop his shoulders, the breath catching in her lungs as the massive ray whizzed by her. She felt a strange whoom sound, felt it, even, almost like it cut through the air around it, and her blood ran cold. "Out of curiosity, Risa...but can you use your Quirk on that bola?" Benjamin asked, keeping himself steady after the evasive maneuver just performed. "Cause if you can, maybe we can catch her off guard. Worst case scenario, we get the bola back." Meanwhile, while he spoke, he flicked his hand slightly...preparing something. Risa turned on his back, looking back towards Mayu, who was still bearing down on them. “Y-Yes…” she managed. “I… I think so. Why?” Mayu sent shivers of dread down Risa's spine. She thought back to every time her sister had bested her in one of her bouts of training, and how every student here was of that caliber. Why does Ben think I deserve to be here? Why does he think I would want to be a hero? "Then call it back." Benjamin simply said, looking in Risa's direction. "We're gonna make it through...and it's going to be all thanks to you and your Quirk..."
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    That was it, then. The duels were over, with a 2-1 score overall for Team Genesis. They were pretty exciting duels, too. Evelyn could hardly ask for a better real intro to pro dueling on this side of the Pacific. “Would anyone like to weigh in first?” “Yeah, just a quick question. Sai, what the fuck?” Oh, that? Out of the three duels the team had partaken in, Daichi lost his, Falisha won hers, and then there was Sai. He also won, but unlike Falisha's modest victory, Sai finished the game with a display of brute force and sheer power. “...Did it never occur to you that the crowd wouldn’t like what you did?" They sure didn't like it. They even booed him for his performance. It was pretty rude, to be honest. "We’re not just trying to win, we do have to get some support. It doesn’t matter how good we get if the crowds refuse to show up for us.” Were... were those two not one and the same? “I understand you have your own views on this. I don’t even disagree. You need strength to back up your convictions. But what you did was beyond a show of strength. It made us look like bullies. It makes Vega look bad. It makes me look bad. It makes Rosalia look bad. Your duel will affect how we’re all perceived. First impressions matter. And the first impression we made now is that we’re willing to talk down to our opponents. Demean them. Treat them like that when there was no reason. When people talk about your victory, it’ll be in the context of how unnecessary your behavior was. Daichi, despite his loss, is the main reason we have any good will with the audience.” "Sashisematta. Is there a reason for what you did out there?" This felt like a matter everyone should weigh on. Including Eve. After waiting a bit to make sure nobody else had anything to say - and a brief moment of surprise at Sai's lack of an immediate answer - Eve presented her thoughts. "Does there have to be one?" Wait, no, that came out wrong. "Er, I mean, yes, he maybe said some things that were out of line. There's always going to be heels like that, and I'm not saying we should encourage it, but his actual turn? That was fine, right? Whether you make your opponent go to exactly zero like Falisha or make a display of power like Sai, winning at our debut is a great start. Plus there's that saying... all publicity is good publicity. Or something. I would've been rooting for him, at least, even if we weren't teammates," Evelyn concluded with a shrug. Then, as if it hadn't occurred to her until just now, Evelyn added one last thought, unrelated though it may have been to the matter at hand. "Oh, we should get something tasty to celebrate our first win. My treat."
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    Rosalia had been transfixed on both duels since Daichi had been eliminated, but when Sai found a reason to bare his chest suddenly she found reason to suddenly look elsewhere, anywhere else. She rose a hand to her temple, half covering her face as if she were on the street with Sai and people were staring, for once her generally placid face looking awkwardly embarrassed. Why is he doing that? she asked herself, looking out of the box they occupied to see that there was a raucous response from the audience at what she could only call a spectacle. But her embarrassment soon gave way to discomfort, and her discomfort then to a somber stare as Sai proceeded to somehow escalate the situation while picking apart his opponent's field piece by piece. It would have been an impressive feat of skill if she hadn't been thoroughly distracted by how he was conducting himself. Almost as if his words themselves contained the acid of his Starving Venom. And when the dust cleared and the duel was won... For some reason the boos caused Rosalia to wince. This was not a sound she had expected to hear. Especially not in reference to their victory. - - - - - - - She had spent the remainder of the last duel in deep thought, raising her head only to acknowledge a relived smile when Falisha managed to pull out a victory over Sorrel. But she was distracted by two phrases echoing inside her head. "Next time you have lofty ambitions, back them up with more than platitudes." "We have a bunch of skilled duelists but we still have a long way to go..." That gentle rebuke to Daichi seemed to echo louder and louder in her head until it somehow bounced back to her as Sai's biting remark, loudly within her mind. She had trouble shaking it from her mind, not even sure how the connection made sense but knowing in her heart that it very much did. She didn't even notice Vega look to her, but she was pulled out by Kendra beginning to lay into Sai. “Did it never occur to you that the crowd wouldn’t like what you did? We’re not just trying to win, we do have to get some support." She's right. “I understand you have your own views on this. I don’t even disagree." Somehow I don't either. "You need strength to back up your convictions. But what you did was beyond a show of strength. It made us look like bullies. It makes Vega look bad." Maybe I should say something. "It makes me look bad." I should probably say something. "It makes Rosalia look bad." I really should say something. "Your duel will affect how we’re all perceived. First impressions matter. And the first impression we made now is that we’re willing to talk down to our opponents. Demean them. Treat them like that when there was no reason." Why is it so hard to know where to even start? How is she doing it so easily? "When people talk about your victory, it’ll be in the context of how unnecessary your behavior was. Daichi, despite his loss, is the main reason we have any good will with the audience.” Another pang of guilt as she wondered yet again if that one slight disagreement back in the meeting had created some domino effect that led them here. It was salvageable, yes, but she really wished it hadn't happened in the first place. As captain shouldn't she be ahead of this? She let out an audible sigh, making the first proper sound she had produced in twenty minutes. She noticed Vega's eyes flick over to her and thought she saw a hopeful glint in them. She very much wished she had anything impressive to offer but all she managed, with a tired and flat voice: "Sashisematta." She tilted her head up to meet his eyes, despite the twinge of discomfort she felt doing so. "Is there a reason for what you did out there?" she asked simply, merely looking at him and waiting. No judgement in her voice, no discernible opinion easily read from her expression. Just... waiting for his answer.
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    Angelfood LIGHT FIend/Effect ATK 1000 | DEF 1800 If this card is sent from the hand or field to the GY: You can Ritual Summon 1 Non-Effect Ritual Monster from your Deck. This effect of "Angelfood" can only be used once per turn. The result of some drawing practice I felt like making into a full card. A pretty straightforward effect that's probably significantly more powerful than I imagine it to be. But hey, those dusty Performance of the Swords and Crab Turtles in your box of old cards deserve some love.
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    ╔. .═════════╗ “So this is where we’ll be watching from, huh?” Kendra stepped inside of the viewing box as she rubbed at her cheek gently, she was honestly glad she wasn’t dueling right at the start. She had a few… Quirks with her deck she wanted to solve still. Batterymen weren’t the most prestigious of archetypes on their own, she had a lot of editing to do to make them presentable on even the minor league circuit… And honestly, that was a daunting task for her. She could put it off a little bit longer. Daichi was the first duel she was interested in keeping an eye on. Falisha would probably be able to handle herself, she had a hard time keeping up with those motorcycle duels… And of course, Sai sure did exist. It was going to be a bit hard to keep up with everything at once. “Alright Daichi… It’s your opportunity to speak to the audience…" She hummed gently as she grabbed a little bag of chips from the snack table, opening up a bottle of sugary diabetes she had brought herself, and reclined back, ready to watch her team get to work… Realistically, she should have had more to say. Her focus was mostly on Diachi’s duel, and true to his word, he was flashy. Pendulum Summon was practically made for flash, it was hard to imagine who could use it and be boring. The thought actually made Kendra smirk a little bit. His Magicians kept rising from the dead like zombies, despite being Spellcasters… Honestly, it was just a bit unfortunate he was up against their captain, she was consistently batting off his attacks and preparing to retaliate during his own turns… She wasn’t sure if any of them would’ve have had a better showing against the captain of the team. ...But more than anything, the end of the duel left a sour taste in her mouth. Card games involved a certain amount of luck, but… Honey’s victory there was ultimately a draw of a card on a field… That just so happened to counter the card from the field that Daichi had grabbed? There was a reason she didn’t like Action Duels. Daichi would’ve lost without the Action Card anyway, but he loses with it as well, it just felt futile. She let out a tiny sigh, her head resting on her hand as she leaned against the arm of her seat, “...Well that was anti-climatic. I feel bad for him.” “So we lost our first duel, huh… That’s a shame. Mostly because it really hurts morale, both for the other two and for him moving forward. You guys, don’t be too hard on him, got it?” “Not a great start to our first match. But at least Sashisematta still seems confident." “Definitely not a good start… Daichi put up a good fight and he got the crowd’s approval... That counts for something.” --- That left Sai and Falisha. Falisha… She could not keep up with that turbo duel herself. She’d have to catch the replay of it later on if she really wanted to analyze what the hell was going on. That meant Sai was going to be what she focused on… And she wasn’t a fan of what she was seeing. Sai’s first turn was fine. Logical. His opponent was ready for the Fusion Summon, took his turn… But that goading. That prodding at the opponent, it wasn’t necessary. It made him look bad, and it had the added downside of making him look like a fool if he lost… “Is this really the stage presence you want?” She took a sip from her drink, a little sigh escaping the tired woman as she leaned back to watch the duel continue. It definitely didn’t get any better. Outright insults were starting to be flung by Sai now as well, disregard for what his opponent is doing, then… A bomb. Admittedly it did break theme, but it wasn’t like she didn’t have options that broke theme. Xyz Summoning was a toolbox, it was meant to cover a wide variety of options, that’s what made it so appealing to her. It would’ve been silly for that Avery to not have options in his deck that were different from the rest of it. But then, the two of them started to talk once more. Sai starting to prod at his opponent, Avery finally replying back in kind… Kendra just frowned. The final turn played out more, the return of the Fusion Summon method to pull out another monster from his Extra Deck... Even if Sai was right, and she was inclined to agree with him… Platitudes don’t create victory after all, but his brutal methods clearly didn’t bond him to the audience. The booing crowd made perfect sense in this situation… In fact, it made more than perfect sense. Daichi, for his loss, had won the crowd’s heart. He had pulled them into something ‘special’ and that counted for something, even if she had been hard on him in the earlier meeting. Meanwhile, despite the show of strength coming from Sai, there’s more to this than just winning, the crowd was angry that it ended on that note, not that she can really blame them… --- “Would anyone like to weigh in first?” Kendra raised her hand, “Yeah, just a quick question. Sai, what the fuck?” She gave him a pointed glare, a firm look in her eyes that normally that tired girl didn’t show. She put her hand down in front of her arm rest, before turning to look back at the fields, “...Did it never occur to you that the crowd wouldn’t like what you did? We’re not just trying to win, we do have to get some support. It doesn’t matter how good we get if the crowds refuse to show up for us.” She didn’t stop though, her fingers curling against the rest of her seat as she did, “I understand you have your own views on this. I don’t even disagree. You need strength to back up your convictions. But what you did was beyond a show of strength. It made us look like bullies. It makes Vega look bad. It makes me look bad. It makes Rosalia look bad. Your duel will affect how we’re all perceived. First impressions matter. And the first impression we made now is that we’re willing to talk down to our opponents. Demean them. Treat them like that when there was no reason. When people talk about your victory, it’ll be in the context of how unnecessary your behavior was. Daichi, despite his loss, is the main reason we have any good will with the audience.” ╚═════════. .╝
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    “So we lost our first duel, huh…” Vega muttered aloud as she watched Daichi walk off the field, shaking her head a bit, “That’s a shame. Mostly because it really hurts morale, both for the other two and for him moving forward. You guys, don’t be too hard on him, got it?” She turned to the next screen over to watch Sai’s duel, a sigh and a smirk on her face. Yeah, this is what she signed up for when she recruited him to the team. But maybe he was overdoing it a bit. His opponent clearly had a lot less experience than him, but there was Sai, showing his ass. Finally, she turned to watch Falisha and Sorrel, just in time to see Falisha keep having her effects just barely make it. She seemed to be holding on, but… “Y’know, for how aggressive Sorrel is being, she has a lot more removal than I expected,” the red-haired coach reclined a bit, propping her legs up on a table in front of her, “But, iif anyone can bounce back from that… It’s probably you and Falisha, don’t you think, Eve?” ----- “I draw for turn!” Avery declared, a single bead of sweat falling down his face, “And then I special summon Alpha, the Master of Beasts!” As Avery’s card slotted into the disk,a loud roar filled the arena. From above, a large beast came slamming down, impacting the ground with a rumble that could be felt by everyone in the arena. As the beast stood up and looked forward, it’s leonine face bared its fangs, wings spread wide, and lithe body digging its gnarly claws into the pavement as it roared once more. “Then I activate Alpha’s effect! I’ll target my Puppy to return it to hand, and if I do, I can return cards my opponent controls to the hand equal to the amount I returned!” "Tut tut tut." Sai let out an exaggerated, sigh, rolling his eyes at his opponent. "Did you forget about my Dragostapelia's effect? By placing a predator counter on your Master of Beasts, I can negate its effect." As he spoke, his dragon spit out another of the small plant-like counters, which promptly attached to Alpha's face, preventing it from finding its target. “I’m well aware. I overlay Kalantosa and Puppy! Appear, beasts of the forest, Joyous Melffys, to the Extra Monster Zone!” The vortex formed and the stump from before appeared, but now covered with all kinds of fruit. A llama, a mouse, and other Melffy creatures appeared around the stump, looking over at Sai with a confused and expectant look on their face. “Then I proceed to battle. Alpha, attack Dragostapelia! Regal Roar!” Leaping at the dragonoid, Alpha’s wings spread wide as it sunk its claws into the creature, roaring loudly until only a few stray vines lay about. With a growl it returned to its owner, standing slightly behind and left of the stump, causing Sai’s life to drop to 3700. “Then Joyous Melffys attack you directly!” As a banana slapped Sai straight between the eyes, his life fell to 1700, and Avery let his breath out, “And I will end my turn.” Sai spread his arms wide as he took the damage, grinning and laughing like a maniac, his clothing billowing in a gust of wind. "I had warned you, and here it is! My final turn!" For a moment, his expression was calm, serene even, as he pulled a card from the top of his deck. "And now, I have drawn the card that will spell your defeat." “During your Standby, I activate Joyous Melffys! By returning it to the Extra Deck, I can revive any number of level 2 or lower beasts, as long as the amount is equal to or lower than the materials it had. As it had two, I’ll revive both Kalantosa and Puppy!” The stump faded away as a bunny’s head popped up, looking around to see if it was safe… only for Puppy to hop on top of it and bark proudly, panting as it stood proud. It stood a space to the right of Kalantosa with Catty to its right, while Alpha stood far left. "Summoning your Kalantosa against an empty field? I must really have you on edge!" Instead of looking at the present field, Sai instead inspected his long and carefully manicured fingernails. "Did you have any other effects you intend to waste, or should I just go ahead?" “Take your turn. If you have time to blather, you have time to play.” "Oh, but don't we have time for both?" With a frown, Sai placed a card in his field spell zone. "Allow me to invite you to my favorite place, the field spell card that will spell your demise! Despia, the Branded Theater!" Behind Sai arose an enormous building, styled in the same manner as his Crimsongleam Dragon. "It allows me to conduct fusion summons without Polymerization, and with it I will spell my victory!" "Now, for the next part of my plan for victory, I will normal summon my Predaplant Ophrys Scorpio! Its effect allows me to discard a monster card, my Predaplant Drosophyllum Hydra, to-" “I activate Catty’s effect and then Puppy’s effect! By returning it to the hand, another Kalantosa will appear,” The dog yipped as it turned around to hop into Avery’s hand, another of the bunny, slightly different shade. After that, the kitten followed suit, with Avery adding a card from deck to hand. “I search Hop Eared Squadron… and Kalantosa will destroy Branded Theater!” "Oh no! Not my Theater!" The tower behind Sai began to crumble and collapse, Kalantosa's effect having made quick work of it. "Nonetheless, my Scorpio's effect will now resolve, summoning Predaplant Darlingtonia Cobra from my deck!" Emerging from the ground was what first appeared to be a flower, before it bloomed to reveal the face of a venomous snake. "Since it was summoned by the effect of a Predaplant, I can search my deck for the spell card: Fusion Recovery!" “One more thing, I activate Hop Ear Squadron!” Avery placed the card onto his disk, causing three rabbits, using their ears to fly, to appear around the new Kalantosa and salute! They suddenly dispersed into green rings, two of them, and surrounded the rabbit, causing it to turn into two green stars. “Appear, festival of hopes and dreams… Star Mine!” As the summon finished, a doll-like creature with fuses all over its body appeared between Alpha and the remaining Kalantosa, defending itself… and having its fuses extend and attach to the two around it. “It may break theme, but when Star Mine is destroyed, it deals 2000 damage to you! If you destroy anything adjacent to it, the same thing happens!” Avery roared, bracing himself, “So I suggest you back down. That 1700 won’t take the hit.” Sai raised his eyebrows. "But does it not damage you as well? That's an awfully risky move. You are putting quite a lot on the line just to win this duel." “I have the life to handle it right now. You don’t.” "Even so, to blank your defensive options early just to hide behind a bomb you can barely survive, don't you think it's foolish? Your plan only makes sense if it's truly an impenetrable defense." “... I’m doing what I can. I’m no pro. I’m here because it means something to someone I care about, and I can only hope to improve. I’m sure I’ve played this out wrong, and I’ll learn from that in the future… But is it more pathetic to lose due to mistakes, or more pathetic to win because someone else made mistakes?” Sai gritted his teeth, the joy washing away from his face in an instant. "If nobody is to make a mistake, then the game is nothing but luck. To trod upon my victory is tantamount to trod upon my FREEDOM!" In a burst of motion, Sai grabbed hold of the kimono he wore, pulling it off of his body and throwing it into the stands in a single movement. Underneath, he wore a pair of billowing pants with several pleats, and his upper body was exposed to the entire audience. Every inch of his skin that had previously been concealed was covered by tattoos. His entire left side matched his arm, an intricate pattern depicting what goes on beneath the depths of the sea, its edge adorned with carefully drawn breaking waves, in homage to classical paintings. The right was ablaze, with even more demons and devils now visible. The details almost seemed to have been carved into Sai's body, the ink working together with scar tissue to create the complete image. On Sai's back was a vivid image of both the Sun on his left side and a blackened Moon on his right being pulled together into a spiraling abyss in the center, invoking both his spell card Polymerization, as well as the Yin-Yang. "Now, I will go beyond what luck ever could and seize the victory I foresaw on the very first turn!" Sai's face was curled into a vicious snarl as he slammed a card down onto his fan, "I activate Fusion Recovery, which allows me to return Polymerization and Despian Comedy from my Graveyard to my hand!" With an outstretched hand, Sai caught the two cards as they were ejected from his Graveyard. "Now I shall activate my Polymerization once more! By fusing Ad Libitum in my hand with Ophrys Scorpio on the field, I can summon Predaplant Chimerafflesia!" Just as his Darlingtonia Cobra pulled itself from the ground, so did a new monster, albeit on a far greater scale. An enormous flower of red and white sat between the two duelists, with two vines that each ended in a flytrap-like mouth. "Plus, since I used Ad Libitum as fusion material, I can summon back my banished monster: Masquerade, The Crimsongleam Dragon!" For the third time in the duel, Sai's ace dragon hit the field, hovering beside his new plant monster. "Now, Chimerafflesia, use your effect to banish his last hope! Consume Star Mine!" Without delay, the two mouthed appendages dove in toward the synchro monster, each taking half of it in mouth and tearing it in half, avoiding the explosion Avery was banking on. “Damn it!” Avery shouted as the monster was banished, pieces of it laying about the board, “Still, you can’t overcome Alpha!” "Oh, this Alpha?" Suddenly, the predator counter on the beast's face erupted with growth, crushing the monster's head and destroying it. "Since it had one of my predator counters, I can tribute it to summon my Drosophyllum Hydra from the graveyard." As he spoke, the monster he had previously discarded returned to the field. "I suppose your Master of Beasts served a better role at the bottom of the food chain, didn't it?" "And finally, do you recall when I said that my Branded Theater would spell your demise? By banishing Despia Tragedy from my graveyard, I can set it upon the field once again, and now I will immediately activate it!" The sky darkened and the air turned cold as the theater appeared once again behind Sai. "Now I shall use its effect to send my Drosophyllum Hydra and my Darlingtonia Cobra to the graveyard!" The two monsters shattered into fragments of solid vision, as a dark shadow coalesced before Sai, "Nobody will match my desire for victory. No matter how far I go, my hunger will never be sated! Fusion summon! Starving Venom Fusion Dragon!" The shadow burst to reveal the monster, a purple and black dragon adorned with multicolored orbs. On its head, a pair of horns curved forward, pointing directly at Avery. "And, since you control a special summoned monster with 200 attack, my Fusion Dragon gains that much! Not that it needs it." With a purplish glow, Sai's monster's attack rose to a total of 3000. "Now, Crimsongleam Dragon, attack his remaining monster!" Sai's demonic dragon dove in toward the small plant-adorned rabbit, aiming to crush it within its cruel jaws. Avery's monster didn't stand a chance. "Now, Chimerafflesia, attack directly!" The toothy vines went out yet again, but this time directly at Sai's opponent, taking a huge bite out of his life points. Avery winced at the attack, scowling. 2800->300 "Now, just as promised. It may have ten times the attack needed, but I am not in the business of mercy. Starving Venom Fusion Dragon, destroy my opponent's hopes and dreams!" The dragon heeded its master's command, diving in to his opponent and reducing Avery's life points to 0. "Next time you have lofty ambitions, back them up with more than platitudes." While the field faded away, Avery simply sighed. He looked back up to the window where his team waited with a wistful look, then silently walked away from Sai. Anyone looking close could see tears in the large man’s eyes, but his back was to Sai the whole time. The audience remained silent as the duel ended… Until someone booed, shorrtly followed by a few more. It wasn’t comparable to the applause from earlier, but it was clear the performance did not sit well with them. ----- “Alright then, I draw! Time to win! Aaaaaaand… MOTHER F-” The audio cut rather suddenly from Sorrel to the audience, who could only see her pitching a fit… But Falisha got to hear every single choice word that escaped Sorrel’s lips. “Rrr, I proceed to battle! Thunderclap Skywolf attacks you directly!” The wolf howled as it disappeared again, only to reappear with lightning crashing against Falisha’s disk! “Then I end my turn,” Sorrel muttered as her turn ended, only to be met by a taunt. “Oh, and it would seem you whiffed…! Well then, let’s see what I draw!” “Oi, shaddup! I just got unlucky, that’s all! What can ya do right now, anyway?” “Haha, I got it! I activate the Speed Spell, Overboost!” Her Speed Counters immediately rushed up to 9, her engine revving loudly as she pulled ahead, “Followed by activating the Speed Spell, Deceased Synchron!” “Hold it!” Sorrel grinned wide as she revealed the last card in her hand: Hop Ear Squadron! “I activate this guy’s effect! By summoning him during your turn, I can immediately Synchro Summon using him and a target. Seeing as I only have Thunderclap… Synchro!” When the red-haired girl placed the card onto the disk, they took their positions around the wolf in a triangle, beginning to transform… Only for the wolf’s claws and fangs to tear through them, howling as its own body faded to leave 7 stars. The two rings from the rabbits circled around, then tilted forward, only for a pillar of light to fill the area, a high-pitched howl echoing from it! “From a galaxy far away, the apex predator appears! Blow away the competition, Stellar Wind Wolfrayet!” Out of the light came a beast so large it barely fit on the track, running over Sorrel with paws on either side… if you could call them that. It had a sharp, draconic look about it, with glowing red eyes on either side of a red-gemstone mounted on its face. It had two large red horns, with other red protrusions across its body, segmented in appearance. Its reptilian tail flicked as its scarred-looking wings twitched, letting out another high-pitched howl! But… it only had 2500 attack, same as the wolf before it. “We’ll see if that even works! I banish Xenoguitar and Adamancipator Analyzer from my graveyard! Synchro Summon, erupt from the waters yet again, Adamancipator Risen - Dragite!” The dragon appeared from a burst of crystal once again, roaring at the wolf, which howled louder back at it. “Xenoguitar’s second effect from being banished, I mill Crystal - Dragite! I proceed to activate Dragite! Damnit, failing to find any rock monsters.” “Think you got a bit ahead of yourself there?” Sorrel grinned, her monster growling… and a counter denoting 3100 attack appeared next to it. “Each time you attempt to activate a monster, Wolfrayet gains 300 attack points! And with you failing your removal, you can’t attack over it anymore!” “Then I'll spend 7 speed counters to draw a card! Yes! I proceed to activate the Adamancipator Signs that I drew, targeting the Leonite in grave!” “I activate my trap card, the Transmigration Prophecy! It allows me to return your Risen Leonite and level 4 Leonite to your deck and shuffle!” “Sorry kitten, but I activate Dragite’s effect, due to it’s crystal being in my graveyard, I negate your trap card! Leonite revives, stacking Seeker, then using Leonite’s effect to add it to my hand!” Her runner erupted in a combination of fire and crystal, scattering the runway with lingering flames and crystal particles “Dammit…! Even so, you can’t kill Wolfrayet! In fact, doing that gave him another 300!” “Special Summon the Researcher in my hand, finding Tackle Crusader! Synchro Summon, Merge the stones gathered by the Hurricane, Risen - Rapture!” A small windstorm blasted behind her bike, blowing out any of the flames behind her and scattering the dust off the track, and Wolfrayet growled with 3700 attack. “I then activate Tackle Crusader’s effect, targeting Wolfrayet!” A spirit of the Tackle Crusader appeared, wrestling Wolfrayet before forcing it face-down in a chokehold. “Useless!” Sorrel laughed as the beast’s attack became 4000… and a wicked wind whipped through the arena, even shaking the glass on the booths that the two teams were viewing from, “When Wolfrayet has at least 4000 attack, I can return him to the extra deck… and shuffle each monster you control back into the deck! Howling Windstorm!” Wolfrayet stood up and shattered the spirit of Tackle Crusader, letting out an even more shrill howl than before, causing the wind to intensify around Falisha’s monsters… and throwing them all in different directions, only for them to shatter and return, “I may have no monster, but I drew the only losing card in my deck! This game is as good as won now!” She grins, “And with that, you’ve lost this duel. I Normal Summon Seeker, using it’s effect to special summon Koa’ki Meiru Prototype from my deck.” “3000 exactly!? Dammit, you little-” “I attack with both monsters! And that’s game~!” As the rock-robot and the boy struck at Sorrel’s runner, the screen came up, showcasing Falisha’s victory as she slide to a halt. Sorrel let out a frustrated grumble, pulling the helmet off of her head, while Falisha pulled up beside her, pumping her fist for the crowd watching as the small cheering erupted! The rock player hopped off of her runner and walked over to Sorrel, extending her hand. “Hopefully the banter didn’t get to you too much. I had fun and hope you did too. Feel free to come find me any time and we can get a few practice matches in!” “Eh? Why are you apologizing? I shit talk my opponents constantly, Hoeny just asked me to tone back!” She laughed loudly before taking Falisha’s hand and shaking it, “Good game. I’m a bit frustrated, but mostly at myself. I could have stopped that earlier but didn’t, so fair’s fair.” After the shake, Sorrel turned away and threw her hand up behind her as if to say bye. However, Falisha would find a note in her hand with Sorrel’s number in it, saying that she was owed a rematch! ------ “There you have it folks! Despite Team Wilding’s Honey coming out on top in record time, both Falisha and Sai from Team Genesis pulled out the win, no matter what you think of their methods! A big round of applause for Team Genesis!” The applause from the audience did come, but… It was less than Falisha had received individually. It also ended without much fanfare, only for the MC to clear their voice and continue. “Thank you to everyone for coming out to see these premieres today! Maybe some of you have new teams you want to follow, so please continue to support your local minor league!” ----- Vega sighed up in the booth as the duels wrapped up. She had feared it would come to this, but it would be a teachable moment. At least, once she had a chance to let them all discuss it themselves. And think on it. Once the three duelists had made it up, she cleared her throat… and began to clap. “Congratulations, guys! It’s always seen as a great sign if you win your premier, though it’s usually against an established team… but, either way, you did it! I hope this serves as a source of morale moving forward! However, I would like you guys to… discuss what took place here today, before we go. Of course, you don’t have to, but it’ll just be moved to next week’s discussion, so it’s either now or then. Would anyone like to weigh in first?” Vega smiled and looked over the entire group as she said it, although her eyes did linger on Rosalia for just a bit longer than the others, if anyone noticed.
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    Pokémon Crossroads OP - Sabotage - Ryokuoushoku Shakai The world of Pokémon is filled with a plethora of Trainers, each with their own story and each with a different path through this land with all its strange and mighty creatures. Many challenge the Pokémon League, many seek to study the intricasies of Pokémon and become learned in the field, and some just enjoy the life they have with these companions that can fit inside their pocket. You have chosen to devote your life to Pokémon alongside an organization that seeks to assist any Pokémon placed in arms way: The Aether Foundation. Though your Alola branch has had some rumblings of bad publicity with former President Lusamine the previous year, the Foundation has since flourished under Acting President Gladion. Branch Chief Wicke, your direct superior, has seen an influx of new hires, particularly looking out for ones who need a second chance just as much as the Pokémon in the Foundation's care do. You have all been employed by the Aether Foundation for various lengths of time, but none longer than 3 months. You may know each other a little, but you aren't close. That is all about to change. as you are let loose on the wide world of Pokémon. Rules Character App Feel free to spoiler any sections of this you feel necessary. I'll likely be looking to see which apps I accept in a week on August 17th. Feel free to join the Discord server I've prepared in the meantime (https://discord.gg/56cmKveu) and until then, happy app-ing. ED - Homura - LiSa
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    So today I bring 3 different drawings. First a Demon Girl I made for a card contest Second, well... in the same contest, another user drew something, and so I drew that character but in my style and without it being chibi like the original xP Finally, a work in progress that is a retry of an older drawing. Some years ago I made a request thread and among the entries there was a Pokemon Gijinka of Omanyte. I'll start with posting the old/original version I made: and so this is the retry: These are all stuff I made today when I finally caught good weather and a good day off for this xP Only the last one I can modify based on any feedback I might get, but feel free to point out stuff from the other ones regardless for educational purposes~ xP
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    Arden, now without a field and down some LP, drew her card. Then she stretched her arms and neck, looking more alert by the time she’d finished. “That’s on me. I played my Zombie World too early. Now that I’ve got a workable hand, we can really Duel.” This was far from the first time Arden and Yuliya had dueled, but to have it be on the greatest stage Persica had to offer shot a spark of excitement through Arden’s body. “First, I’ll activate the spell card Foolish Burial, sending a monster from my Deck to the Graveyard. Let’s go with this Mezuki.” No sooner than her monster reaching its destination, complete with a hologram of the card being dropped into an open grave, did Arden place another monster down, this time from her hand to the field. “Next, I summon Zombie Master from my hand.” Zombie Master: Level 4/DARK/Zombie/1800/0 “And then I’ll activate its effect, which lets me discard a monster, then target a Level 4 or lower zombie in my Graveyard to Special Summon. What’s interesting about this effect is that since you discard and then choose a target, the monster you discard and the one you summon can be the same. So, I’ll go ahead and discard this Gozuki from my hand, to summon the very same Gozuki.” Gozuki: Level 4/EARTH/Zombie/1700/800 “Oh, that’s cute,” Yuliya said. “I don’t think any of my ‘discard to do a thing’ effects do that.” “Not many do,” Arden shrugged. “In any case, with Gozuki now on the field, I’ll activate his effect, to send a zombie from my Deck to the Graveyard. I’ll be sending Uni-Zombie to the Graveyard, and activating that Mezuki from earlier afterward. By banishing itself, Mezuki can summon any zombie monster from my Graveyard, so I’ll bring back the Uni-Zombie I just set up for.” Uni-Zombie: Level 3/DARK/Zombie/1300/0 “And this is where things get really interesting. Next, I activate the second effect of Uni-Zombie. It lets me send another zombie from my Deck to the Graveyard, but it also increases the level of one monster on the field by one. In exchange, however, I can’t attack with anything that isn’t a zombie for the rest of this turn. I’ll increase the level of Gozuki.” Gozuki: Level 4 -> 5 “Now, with all the setup finished, we can get to the main event! If nothing else, I like to think I’m about to make it into this tournament’s highlight reel, because I Synchro Summon. By tuning my Level 3 Uni-Zombie with the Level 4 Zombie Master, I summon a Level 7 monster. Rise, Red-Eyes Zombie Necro Dragon!” BGM As Arden removed her two monsters from the field, accompanied by a graphics animation on the screens above the duelists and a hologram to match on the field, the two zombies were soon replaced by a much bigger one. A black dragon, eyes aglow and body wreathed in ghastly blue flames, appeared behind Arden. No sooner than its appearance, however, did Arden make her next move. “Now, I activate the effect of the Mezuki I sent to the Graveyard just a moment ago, banishing it to bring back Zombie Master, and then activate his effect as well. I’ll be repeating that trick we talked about, this time discarding the Plaguespreader Zombie from earlier to summon him!” Plaguespreader Zombie: Level 2/DARK/Zombie/400/200 “And then we… Synchro Summon! By tuning my Level 2 Plaguespreader Zombie with my Level 5 Gozuki, I’ll summon another Red-Eyes Zombie Necro Dragon!” Red-Eyes Zombie Necro Dragon: Level 7/DARK/Zombie/2400/2000 “Almost done! When Gozuki is sent to the Graveyard, I can activate its second effect, banishing any other zombie from my Graveyard to special summon any zombie monster from my hand. By banishing the Goblin Zombie you destroyed last turn, I’ll summon Vampire Grimson from my hand.” Vampire Grimson: Level 5/DARK/Zombie/2000/1400 “Don’t get used to him; he won’t be here very long. I still have one more card left in my hand, and I’ll be using it to activate Plaguespreader Zombie’s effect. Now I can tell you what that does. If it’s in the Graveyard, I can put a card from my hand on top of the Deck to summon it. Which I will. And by tuning my Level 2 Plaguespreader Zombie with… you get the idea. Red-Eyes Zombie Necro Dragon!” Having started from an empty field and six cards in her hand, three of the same undead dragon now loomed behind Arden, growling at the dragons assembled on Yuliya’s side of the field. Yuliya grimaced. “I don't think I've seen this one from you before, Arden. Well, you’ve got three of them now and you haven’t even told us what they do yet.” “They do two things, though one of them doesn’t matter very much right now, with Zombie World gone. However, the other thing they do is gain 100ATK for every zombie in both of our fields and Graveyards, including itself.” Yuliya brought out the fingers, counting through the turn. It had been a complicated one, though, so she did it again. “So that means…” “Indeed. With four zombies on the field, and four more in each Graveyard, each copy of Red-Eyes Zombie Necro Dragon has 3200 points to strike with! Just a little bit more than your own monster.” “Ah! Well math’d” “Thank you, thank you. Without further delay, let’s put those points to use! First, I’ll use one of my dragons to attack Thunder Dragonlord!” The center dragon of the three reared its head back, raising its long neck upward and taking in a deep breath. Before suddenly slinging its head forward, aimed directly at the larger of Yuliya’s monsters and spewing out a stream of blue flames not unlike the ones shrouding its own body. Yuliya: 8000 -> 7800 “If Zombie World were still active, this would be the part where I go on about its other effect, but I suppose I got a bit too eager playing that before having a major play ready.” “Yeah, well, against a worse opponent you might have still gotten some use out of it.” Yuliya stuck her tongue out, mostly playful, but with a hint of upset as she moved her monster to the graveyard, dead for real this time instead of just pretending to be because of a field spell. “Against a worse opponent, I wouldn’t have realized I need to actually do something like this,” Arden retorted. “But enough about us, because it’s time to deal with a worse opponent for my dragons. Using the second Red-Eyes Zombie Necro Dragon, I attack Thunder Dragondark!” The process repeated, this time washing away a considerably smaller - though still large - dragon in fire. Yuliya: 7800 -> 6200 “Yah, well, you’re smart enough to attack the reinforce effect second,” Yuliya said. “Dragondark has the same effect when destroyed as it does when banished, after all, and who knows what tricks I might have in here.” She patted the deck slot on her duel disk. “I guess I have to actually choose what that is now, though. How about something as innocuous as a spell card, hm?” A card popped out, Yuliya showed the tell-tale green border to everyone, and “Thunder Dragon Fusion” showed up on all the screens in the arena. “Look forward to that,” she said. “I don’t have much of a choice, do I? I can’t quite end the duel this turn, but I can attack directly with both my third dragon and Zombie Master!” At her cue, a third gout of flames - now accompanied by a significantly less threatening purple bolt of magic - fired off in Yuliya’s direction, knocking her Life Points down, quickly bringing them close to 0. Yuliya: 6200 -> 3000 -> 1200 “Ugh. Well, ‘close to zero’ isn’t the same as ‘at zero.’” Yuliya said. “And you’re handless now, right? Are you doing anything else over there besides beating a poor girl half to death?” “Goodness me, you make it sound so violent. Unfortunately, as you’ve observed, I have no cards left in my hand.” Arms crossed, Arden nodded in Yuliya’s direction. “And having already attacked with everything I can, my turn is now over. The floor is yours, dear friend. You’d best stage a comeback real quick if you want to win.”
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    Aduain, Morgan, and Fen had begun moving to the athletic section of the clothing store. The fish was still a touch confused at Fen's mention of his goal and Morgan's encouragement. But he didn't want to delay their moving further away from the photographer so he chose not to question it much more than that. Aduain was curious to see what Prana felt athletic equipment should look and feel like. A lot of it was stretchy but most all of it felt like it would slow him down in the water so he wasn't immediately keen on buying anything. Morgan seemed to be enjoying herself anyway as she held a shirt out toward him. She was right, it definitely would be big on him. But that could be fun in its own way and like she said, enough room his gills wouldn't be obstructed. "Mouth's for eating, sides' for breathing." The hunter succinctly summarized Morgan's open pondering about how he breathed. The flaps of his gills even lifted up for a moment as he took a big breath to show her before taking hold of the shirt. He held the article of clothing up to himself to try and see just how big it would be on him. It was going to be long more than anything that was for sure. As it happened this section of the store didn't have much of a wall as it bled back out into rest of the mall. And the group had caught the attention of a man just across from them. Adonis' laugh pierced the air as he stood in their path just as they were moving in the general direction of his store. Aduain had been looking over his shoulder half the time since they had moved and continued to do so now. The fish hadn't entirely registered everything the muscular human had said but an excuse to go into a different store altogether was perfect. "Yeah yeah, sounds great let's go-" Aduain cut himself off as he finally got a good look at Adonis. "Wow that sure is some shape." he said in awe of the physique before him. "Yes, it is indeed quite majestic isn't it?" Adonis said as he tossed his hair and admired himself in the nearest window. "I'm sure even one as small as you could look, well, something like me if you tried." Aduain had to try not to laugh at the idea of his body looking anything like what he saw before him. It was funny enough he almost wanted to take the deal purely to see what it would be like. "Hmm... seems like that might slow me down. I know! A demonstration! I wanna see what muscles like that can do!" Aduain said as he began looking around for the heaviest object he could find in the mall. If he was going to look ridiculous like Adonis he had to be sure there were benefits. The body builder instead offered an arm to the fish to grab onto which Aduain did gigling all the while. The man then looked to Fen and said "Excuse me, little lady" as he proceeded to lift her off the ground and into the air along with Aduain. "Not bad big guy!" the hunter cheered, enjoying the display. "But I ain't the biggest fish in the sea, let's see you go all out!" Adonis laughed and moved to pick up Morgan as well. But upon closer inspection of her he decided against it. "This was just child's play of course! The great Adonis can lift more than you can even imagine." Adonis declared as he motioned for a staff member to join him outside the store. Without warning they too were lifted. Aduain could only laugh. Without nen, at least he assumed this was without nen he couldn't tell if Adonis had any like most of the Pranans, this was fairly impressive. "Not just for show!" The hunter said as he let go and hopped to the ground. "If you can really lift more than I can imagine then... what'd people call it again? Oh yeah! We should arm wrestle!" he said, bouncing from foot to foot at the idea. Adonis busted into laughter for some several seconds before settling with a look of surprise. "O-oh, you're serious! Well, I suppose Adonis does not mind but I wouldn't want to hurt you little man." the buff man said. "No problem! I'm tough as they come! Even a couple giant squids can't hold me down" Aduain boasted in an attempt to assure he was up to the task. "Giant...squids...Well, alright if you say so just don't feel bad about losing!" Adonis returned with confidence. Adonis escorted Aduain, and either of the girls who wished to follow, into the athletic store across the way. At his word staff set a table and two chairs down in the middle of the room which caught the attention of any shoppers in the area. Surrounded by workout equipment and other buff, though perhaps not Adonis level, people, Aduain seemed even smaller than he already was but his excitement was bigger than any of them. A small crowd was forming around the table, knowing Adonis must have been issued a challenge. Several cheers were already sounding from some fans of the man. Though he seemed conflicted as though there should have been more people clamoring to see him all the time. Disbelief shot through the crowd as Aduain stepped up to his seat. Several concerns could be heard among the whispers of the still growing spectators. Surely he was out of his mind to challenge Adonis. He was so small. What was this fish person doing here? Would his arm survive even grasping Adonis'? Where were his pants? Endless angles to the same conclusion: Adonis was sure to win before it even got exciting. The two contestants shook hands first then transitioned smoothly into the standard positions, each elbow on the table with fists above. Though the size difference made the posture somewhat difficult. Aduain readied himself and visible only to Morgan his nen was very calm and stable at the moment. Adonis offered him one last chance to back down which Aduain assured wasn't necessary. At a staff member's call the two began pushing against the other. Despite the talk it was clear neither was pushing all that hard against the other yet. Smirks were exchanged and the hunter obliged and began pushing as Adonis' hand began moving. "Good, good that's the way! But the great Adonis will not be beaten!" the man shouted. Cheers erupted from his fans while others turned away, not wanting to see how badly the fish's arm would be crushed once Adonis finally exerted himself. With his ever present flair for the dramatic the man let his hand come nearly to the table before the veins in his arm began visibly popping out as he forced Aduain's hand over and nearly to the opposite side of the table. But to everyone's alarm, none more so than Adonis himself, the fish's hand did not go all the way. The nen in the hunter's arm was flowing faster now and was the cause of the deceptive strength. Adonis exerted more and more of himself trying to push the fin hand the final inch yet it wouldn't budge. Aduain's smirk grew all the bigger as new murmurs went through the crowd. Finally someone shouted for Adonis to stop messing around. The moments seemed like eternities for the body builder at this unflinching tiny hand. For Aduain this was a light warm up. "Pretty sure I can imagine this big guy." Aduain mocked as his nen began really surging. Slowly Adonis' hand was moving back. Up and through the middle, back down close to the other side of the table. Visible panic set in to Adonis' face at the prospect of losing to one less than half his size. The crowd now was souring as his defeat hung over them. How could he be losing to someone so much smaller than him? Were they wrong to have believed in him? Aduain, who had been ready to beat the man and show the error in judging strength purely by muscle size, took note of the crowd and saw the pain on the man's face. These people meant a lot to him. Their respect and admiration obviously kept him going. And as a guardian of this place... well Aduain didn't feel it right to take that from him. So he completely relaxed his nen, his arm taking on the strength one might expect of such an untoned limb. Adonis felt the unbearable strength leave his opponent and he looked deeply into the fish's eyes and found only understanding. With a genuine smile and a nod Aduain told him silently to do what he had to. A single manly tear fell down the body builder's face as he slammed Aduain's fist into the opposite side of the table in one motion. The Great Adonis had triumphed. Renewed cheers sounded, faith was restored in his fans. "That was a dirty trick letting me think I'd won!" Aduain cried out in feigned bitterness. "There, there. Prana wasn't built in a day! And neither were the muscles of the Great Adonis!" The man cheered with another of his hearty laughs. The store joined him and even Aduain couldn't help but try it out himself.
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    Well, nobody else got the reference, but then again, it was really just for Z. and Z. alone. That was fine. What was less fine was Es the Rotom deciding to make fun of them. “Oh my god, read a…” No, hold on. “Go watch a…” They paused and realized that they weren’t actually sure what the reference was, just that it was one they’d made. The gap in their memory extended to that too. That was even more frustrating than the original slight, honestly, even if Z. still had to respond to it all the same. “Just get some culture into that traffic cone of a head, why don’t you?” they said as they ascended into the void waiting for them higher up the stairs. Unlike the previous black-fogged thresholds Z. had crossed so far in their new life as a Zorua, this one actually took a while to get through. It didn’t feel like Z. was moving at all, or perhaps they were moving but not under their own power. Perhaps that ambiguity was part of the point. Z. didn’t take too much stock in any of that, though, instead they spent the time trying to parse some of the more “out there” moments in a past hour that had already been pretty “out there.” They were a Zorua now. Sure, that was, like, the first coherent thought they’d had as soon as they woke up but that didn’t mean it hadn’t taken this long to actually process what that meant. Now there was a whole bunch of stuff they had to figure out about themselves all over again. The illusion thing was one such example. They hadn’t even thought of that as a thing they could do until they’d actually gone and done it, probably because they hadn’t internalized it, and still really hadn’t. It stood to reason that they “knew” some moves too, would they be able to use those when the chips came down? Then again, their brain certainly hadn’t rejected any of those ideas either, unlike the time, say, that Cubone tried to imply Z. was something they weren’t, so it wasn’t all bad. Of course, if they allowed themselves to have some fucking empathy (as they once told Summer, a phrase they then followed with “you ignominious twat”), that probably meant everyone else was going through something similar. And yeah, they’d seen some of that too. Since they were thinking about abilities, all those intrusive thoughts they’d been getting were probably the Noibat’s fault. Z. figured they’d probably have to push her to figure those out as well. Plus whatever was going on with Es, plus the Clobbopus getting stuck to a pillar like he did (no matter how funny it was in the moment)... Hopefully, they all knew this too, but it was better to be safe than sorry. The void finally dissipated, and despite, you know, making it up the stairs first, Z. still found themselves surrounded by everyone else, faced with a new set of twisting passages, all alike. The group was slightly less alone than they were on the previous floor, though. Someone was trying to make contact with them, to encourage them onwards and upwards. This would have been all well and good, though the sing-song musical way the voice in their head phrased themselves grated a bit. “That better not be you, ears,” Z. said. Noibat had proven she could joke, but there was a stark difference between puns and snarks and whatever this was if it was indeed a joke. “You heard the voice,” Hector said, though Z. wasn’t sure how he figured that out without, you know, asking about it. He went on to say the same stuff the other ex-mod had, all stuff that was barely worth listening to the first time, though at least he ended with something interesting. “I’ll take point,” he said, as he walked off and immediately into a wall. “Okay, counterpoint,” Z. said once they’d composed themself after a few quick chuckles. “I hear you. I see you. But why doesn’t someone who has figured out how to move properly go first?” They pushed through the crowd just in time to make it to the exit to their right, and, unlike Hector, managed to stop themselves before they hit the wall that appeared in the way. At least, they did for a moment, before six Hectors ran into Z. from behind and forced them into it face first. “Fatherfucker,” was Z.’s immediate reaction, both to the obvious stimuli and the immediate realization of the consequences of their actions, though, muffled by unidentifiable stone, it came out more like “Ffffkuh.” When they popped back out, they had more. “Yeah, changed my mind. Gonna stay as far away as possible. Give me a shout if something stupid happens again, I guess, but otherwise, yeah. Or don’t. Whatever.” The way left seemed to stretch onwards, winding around the corner and out of sight, an opportunity Z. relished, even as the sounds of movement up ahead grew more and more pronounced and the strange voice’s warning about hostile Pokémon came back to the forefront of Z.’s thoughts.
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    “Draw for turn! Yoooo, I got it!” Felicity’s face beamed from the field, onlookers swearing there were stars in her eyes, “I reveal Fortune Fairy Swee when I draw her, allowing me to summon her immediately!” Placing the card on the disk, the watery fairy appeared with a sparkle, her half-lidded eyes accompanied by a smile, as she pointed at a monster on Ayakuro’s board. “When she’s summoned from the hand, I can target a monster you control and banish it temporarily. And I target… Your Oneiros!” Next to Aya, an angelic man with black wings stood with a fierce expression, more than twice her side. With dark wisps floating around him, as well as an angry red hound at his side, his wings began to flap as a red-eye on his chest began to glow. “Not so fast! I activate the effect of Oneiros, the Dream Mirror Tormentor! Since I have…” She motioned to the field that the duel had become, a dark castle courtyard, with wicked laughs breaking out occasionally, “Dream Mirror of Terror, I can negate one monster effect! End of Dreams!” A beam shot from the eye in Oneiros’ chest, hitting Swee and causing her to cry out, a red aura around her. With a pout, Felicity moved to continue her turn, but… “Next I activate my set Metaverse! I use it to activate Dream Mirror of Joy from my deck!” The horrible nightmarish castle area began to bend and stretch, but as it began to form cracks all over it, Aya grew a big smile, taking in a breath. Looking around, Felicity quickly stole an action card, using Fortune Fairy Chee as a means to boost her up. Moments later, the nightmare shattered, and was replaced with an identical castle shining with resplendent light, complete with the sun in the sky and cherubs flitting about. “Then I use Oneiros’ other effect, as I control Joy. I tribute him in order to bring out his good half from the extra deck… Oneiros, the Dream Mirror Erlking in defense!” As the light of the field rained down on Oneiros and the beast beside him, Oneiros’ wings began to change color, folding in on him… Before suddenly opening triumphantly, revealing the same figure but now adorned with lighter colors and a kind smile as the eye on his chest faded. --- Daichi, who was trying his best to keep his composure while also recording the Duel, couldn't help but get excited at seeing this. Felicity Fey and her Fortune Fairies against Hifumi Ayakuro's Dream Mirror. And of course, while he was disappointed that Felicity's combination fell flat at first, it was obvious that her and her monsters were definitely working in the vein of trying the next thing and simply going with the flow. "Using Chee to boost her to get the Action Card…" he nodded, remembering the fact of how Honey utilized her monster to move about the Action Field more freely. "Definitely needing to make a note of that." Daichi muttered, glancing at Kendra. "What do you think, Kendra? How's things looking thus far?" Kendra tapped at her cheek for a moment as she watched the ongoing duel, a tiny mumble escaping her as she yawned lightly, “Action duels are so hard to keep up with…” She chuckled softly underneath her breath as she watched Daichi falling into the duel more and more… Her hand propped her head up as she caught the energy to properly respond to Daichi, “I’m not sure who has the edge in this exact situation, to be honest. I haven’t looked into either deck very much, and with Action Cards being a factor, it’s hard to guess, but…” She closed her eyes as she mumbled to herself, “Fey is relying pretty heavily on top decks, while her opponent seems pretty well set up. If she can’t manage to end it this turn, then… I’m willing to bet she loses from here.” "It's the style of the Fortune Fairies, unfortunately…same time, in most scenarios, the Fairies usually support other Spellcasters…though the best one for them to aid is Fortune Ladies" Daichi sighed a bit. "And since Felicity mainly runs the Fairies, you can see how it generally relies on the top decking. Heh, removing the 'Action' aspect of it, you got the board state and general profiling of Felicity fairly well, Kendra. Would expect nothing less from our Sleeper." he snickered. Kendra gave a soft smile to Daichi, a little chuckle escaping her as she let out that sigh once more, “It’s the one thing I can do. I don’t think I could keep up on the Action Field, that’s why I stick with Standard duels. But with those, you have to pay attention to every move. There are fewer variables…” She didn’t want to say what came after that statement, but ultimately she didn’t want to hold that thought either, “...I imagine that’s why Rosalia took her tie so hard. In the end, a win or loss in a Standard Duel always comes down to being prepared for your opponent. There are fewer mix-ups that can happen…” "I see…" Daichi muttered, lulling this over in his mind. He needed to keep that in mind. --- “Now in my main phase, I switch my three defending fairies to attack… then activate the equip spell One-Shot Wand! By equipping it to Chee, she’ll gain an additional 800 attack! That’s on top of the 2000 she sits out due to Miracle Stone!” As the fairy’s wand was replaced with the staff ending in a crescent, her attack grew to 2800. “So what?” Aya jeered, putting a foot onto the balcony of her dream castle and resting one arm on it as she leaned forward, “2800 can’t beat Oneiros. Unless you’re plannin’ on another topdeck?” “You got it. I proceed to battle and attack Oneiros with Chee, which activates Miracle Stone! When my fairies attack, I can draw a card… and I believe the top card of my deck is going to beeee…” She drew it dramatically, revealing it to Aya without a second thought, “Fortune Fairy Hu!” A voice rang from the crowd, somehow carrying over the chaos of the arena as the Action Duel raged on, "Never underestimate the Fey fortune!" “You what!?” Placing the card onto the disk, Felicity was proven correct, as the smug looking wind fairy appeared, waving her wand to make Felicity add a card from her banished pile to my hand. “When summoned this way, she returns a banished Spellcaster to my hand… Effect Veiler! But that also means all my fairies are stronger by another 500, at 2500 each!” As the fairies grew stronger, with Chee going up to 3300, Aya grit her teeth, before motioning to her dog monster. “Phantasmos activates! Since I have Dream Mirror of Joy up, it can tribute itself in order to summon its light half from the deck… but this also activates Oneiros’ effect! When a monster I control is tributed, I can target a card on the field to destroy it, and I choose Miracle Stone!” “Not so fast! Action Spell - Dream Shift, activate!” “I use its effect to target Miracle Stone, making it survive Oneiros’ effect!” “Tsk! Fine, the chain resolves and I summon Phantasmos, the Dream Mirror Friend from the deck! When this hound appears, it revives one of my Dream Mirror monsters… and I choose Morpheus, the Dream Mirror White Knight!” A happy and massive white dog appeared next to Oneiros, taking the place of its dark counterpart, before sniffing around. It ran back towards the castle, away from the action… before happily charging back with the knight in tow, with the blonde human quickly kneeling defensively. “And when he’s summoned, he can’t be destroyed by battle or effects this turn. So, would you like to change attack targets?” “Nope!” Felicity grinned, pointing at Oneiros again, “Chee, destroy Oneiros!” The earth fairy saluted before flying in, dodging a blast of light from the Erlking… only to comedically bonk him on the head, causing light to pour from every part of its body. “Alright, I overcame him!” “Useless!” Aya cried in response, her grin back, “When Oneiros is destroyed by your card, he can revive a Dream Mirror… return to the field, Oneiros, the Dream Mirror Tormentor!” As the light from the destroyed king faded away, his wings turned black and his expression dark once more, with the red eye on his chest opening back up. “When the battle ends, I can destroy One-Shot Wand to draw 1,” Felicity retorted, before glancing at what she drew, “Then… Hu destroys Phantasmos! Fortune Gale!” The wind caused the poor defensive dog to whimper as it was torn apart, leaving the knight and Oneiros standing on either side of Aya. With a tilt of her head, Oneiros extended his hand, which she hopped onto, bracing herself against his body. “And then I… I set one and end my turn!” --- Kendra hummed for a moment as the end of the duel came through. Sure enough, Aya managed to stabilize the duel in the long run… “...I should’ve been paying more attention to the other matches too.” She laughed for a moment, her hand rubbing at her neck for a brief moment, “I was almost surprised when Free lost, despite Aya’s win…” "It was all an amazing turn of events." Daichi nodded, putting the camera away before leaning back in his chair with the widest smile on his face. "Honestly, that's why the Duels that Team Fortuna have are so exciting. They have this…this energy to em, Action or otherwise. They can pump the audience up so much that they even get them to feel like they're a part of it rather than just watching the show." He watched as Fortuna ultimately took their curtain call bow at the end of it all. "...it's one of the reasons I admire them. And…it's one of the reasons I hope to reach and achieve that level of Action Dueling. To enchant and entertain the masses to the point of them being a part of this rather than simply being a part of the audience." A small chuckle escaped Kendra as she nodded her head softly, “It’s great, to be able to channel that energy productively. Not everyone has that skill. You do though, I’m sure of it. It might take some time to really settle into a rhythm for it, but… If this is what you want to achieve, you’ll make it there..”
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    “What are you?” “None of your fucking business.” God, that felt so good to say. The question was as vague as a forum rule enforcement on a foggy day, and to ask for clarification was just entertaining the thing as legitimate. It was better to shut the whole thing down entirely. Not to mention there was the whole self-actualization part of it. “I am who I am and there’s nothing you can do to change that,” Z. felt like they were saying. Then, because of course it did, everything changed. The room they found themselves in upon waking up was dank, and not in the internet slang sort of way but actually dank. The floor felt wet, everything was pretty dark even after Z. woke up and managed to shake off their remaining unconsciousness, and everything just smelled like a science museum exhibit on the ocean. The more Z. took it all in, the more they started getting uncomfortable with it all. It was a safe environment, sure, there weren’t any obvious threats, but that didn’t mean it didn’t feel hostile. “Malefic.” That was a good word. Z. remembered putting someone on blast for using it wrong in their eyesore of a story, “The Little Primarina: What if Disney Princesses Were Pokemon Trainers?: The Grand Convergence Saga Part 1.” The snark was something like, “Maybe you can return this misused two-dollar word and use that money on something useful, like hiring a goddamn prereader to tell you you’re using two-dollar words wrong.” In any case, the ruin/cavern/whatever they were now in felt malefic. It made the hair all over their body stand on end. It suddenly clicked what “shaking off unconsciousness” even meant. It was a simple three-word phrase, but two of those words needed a little more examination. The first was “unconscious,” implying that they’d been asleep in the first place, because Z. didn’t remember going to sleep or getting knocked out at all. They barely even remembered what they had been doing before that. The other word was “shake,” and not because that didn’t feel right to do -- in fact, it felt too right. It felt incredibly natural to just pull themselves up onto all fours and make sure all their blood was moving in all the right ways, and now that they were thinking that, well, what was the deal with being on all fours anyway? There was a pool nearby -- that must have been the source of the dankness, Z. realized -- and they dragged themselves over to get a look at their reflection. There wasn’t any other way to put it. They were a Zorua now. Okay. So. On one hand, the wrongness of the room instantly faded, the realization recontextualizing that feeling, turning it into something internal, which they could, well, they could deal with it easier. On the other, well, that was when the thousands upon thousands of follow-up questions started piling up. Adrenaline started coursing throughout Z.’s bloodstream, especially as the other Pokemon behind them started going through similar realizations, the shouting and commiserating only serving to quicken their heart rate even further. It was the sound of six voices all trying to introduce themselves at once that finally got Z. to act. They wheeled around, “Shut up, shut up, shut up!” It didn’t quite work; a few more names slipped through the cracks. Z. made sure to remember both of them so they could give them both an earful later. “We’re not going to learn what’s going on just standing here, and we can do all the getting to know each other we want while trying to find a way out,” they said, “so I, at least, am going to go fucking do that.” That wasn’t to say they weren’t worried, just that the “actually being safe, actually getting out of this mysterious dungeon” was much higher on the current hierarchy of needs than the certainty that this was all a dream or whatever. Z. picked a direction, choosing left, to follow the water flowing out of the pool, and started walking. They made it to the edge of the stream before they turned around one more time and said, “Call me Zeta- Call me Z.! But don’t think I’m gonna double back if you suddenly need my help!” With that, they pushed off into the water and started paddling across.
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    ~Theme: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity - Opening~ <IC> Hosted by: Sethera "You...you can hear me, right? Could you be a human? If you are, then that means...I finally found you! This world...needs your help. Please come...and lend your strength!" As you come to awareness, you remember having heard these words before finding yourself in this situation. Previously, you were a normal human being on planet Earth. You attended class, went to work, stayed home to play video games, etc. However, you were also part of a fairly active forum called Nincada's Custom Monsters, or NCM, as it was more commonly called. Your activities on that forum are the only things you can clearly recall from your life. Everything else is hazy and indistinct, though your personality traits still shine through. Now, you've arrived in a strange world. The world...of Pokémon. "Be strong! Stay smart! And be victorious!" Introduction Rules Application Roster Nincada's Custom Monsters FAQ
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    Edrick wasn't really feeling his best at the moment. Between the source of his crisis of faith having been less than a day ago and the savaging his body had taken fighting that stone dragon, he was honestly surprised he was staying up and keeping things together. But he was, and for now that was the most of what was going to matter. Even if he was occasionally nodding off for a minute or two while the rest of them were waiting for Mene and the Mayor to come back in and comment on something or other. When he did manage to fall asleep for those few minutes he awoke with a start some few moments later, convinced that he had dreamed something prophetic but unable to really convey anything to the group. How was he supposed to describe what a "Wheatley Crab" was when he barely understood it himself? Maybe he was just going a little crazy with two exceedingly long days following each other so closely. He barely even registered that Abdul was leaving, seeing him off with a wave of his hand that seemed distracted. And truth be told it was distracted with how he was drifting in and out of consciousness. What snapped him back to the moment was twofold: Link's departure from the house, and Penelope's question about who exactly Citron was. "Princess, I don't think-" and before he could offer objection their newest companion was offering an explanation. An explanation that just had him missing home all the more, a dour expression crossing his face. At least he could be thankful that the pain of his injuries was a good enough explanation for why he was in such poor spirits in the event that anyone questioned him. Not that he... really expected any of them to believe that in the event that he was questioned. They knew how he was with getting hurt, so he knew, or suspected, that he was going to be asked poignantly why he was in such a bad mood at the moment. And truth be told, he didn't have an easy answer to that question if it did come up. "I think you've got the monopoly on stone dragons," he said at length once the explanation was done and Alois responded in his characteristic sarcastic fashion. "But, since we're full up and someone should go after him, I think I'll get to following Link," the boy said as he got himself to his feet and then spent a moment scratching at his injuries through the bandage over his chest. And unless anybody happened to stop him, that was his plan. Walk himself right out of the house and head after his mentor to see what was happening with the elder Princess.
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    It worked! Rika was in disbelief, she managed to strike just at the moment Atsushi was distracted enough to get his points. She felt a little bad sniping them from him specifically, considering he had been really helpful to her during the first round, but what else could she do? The others were all too focused and guarded and he was the easiest to tag at that particular moment... Especially with the end so close. She laughed gently, her hands were shaking a tiny bit as the buzzer rang, calling the end of the chicken fight... "if you will all direct your attention to the big screen, the bracket for the last phase will be visible, displaying our top eight." She took a deep breath as she turned her attention to the screen, her colors started to shift towards a pale blue, swirled with green as her hands pressed together. She was probably lucky, honestly. If she had been put up against someone like Sun or Shannon right away, she wasn't sure she was going to have a chance. Instead, she was up against Risa, the rising force from the Support Course who had stunned audiences, and some of the contestants. Did she really have much of a chance there, either? She took a deep breath, her hands clenching together as she did. Those thoughts weren't helpful even a tiny bit, and she wasn't going to dwell on it! She had more important things to do, like go as far into this as possible. She might've be new to the Hero Course, but Risa wasn't a Hero Course student either, they were on pretty similar footing here, and Rika wasn't going to psyche herself out because of the big talk from others! She took one, deep breath as she stepped out of the battle arena, she had to prepare herself mentally for this, and there were two people she knew she could count on when she needed to get ready for this upcoming task. ──── ⋆⋅✦⋅⋆ ──── "Hoshino Rika! How does it feel to be a replacement student for the undercover villain, and now be receiving clout for two successes in the Sports Festival!" Crap. Rika took a deep breath as she was jumped on by cameras, her eyes narrowing a tiny bit as she tried to look for a quick escape. She wasn't able to spot anything in time sadly, and was doomed to the endless torture for the time being. She flinched for a moment after the question about the undercover villain, but... She wasn't a replacement for that, seems like information got a bit muddled over time, she was even there when Tsubasa had been arrested... Her face fell for a moment, her skin turning a soft shade of red as she finally addressed the questions, without turning towards the cameras. "I'm proud of my performance so far. We'll see if it holds up." She figured keeping it brief was the best plan here, it wasn't like she had any valuable input on the whole traitor situation anyway. "How far do you expect to get when you will be facing off against someone with a legacy like Kawashima Risa?" She had hoped they would've just left it there, she wasn't really that big a name, she couldn't imagine too many people were taking an interest in her. But then nights of angry rants from both her parents about how awful this particular publication was came back to her. Her father hated the way it played favorites with heroes and used them as toys for its sick game. Her mother hated the total and utter lack of anything resembling actual journalism, and how often a hero would come into her shop while touting their newest article as if it meant anything. Rika shrugged her shoulders a tiny bit, her hair flicking behind her as she tilted her head back, "Legacy doesn't mean much when we're all still learning. Risa is a strong contender, but so is everyone else here. My goal is to just get as far as I can, and I've already made it further than I expected to." "Fine. Is there anything else you'd like to say to the audience?" She hummed briefly, "...Nope!" It was a cheap trick, but it was pretty good at catching someone off guard when they weren't expecting it. Her colors quickly shifted to blend in with her surroundings, now that she had time to think. She ducked down through the crowd while she had the opportunity. It wasn't the cleanest getaway, but hopefully it would catch them off guard enough for her to flee. ──── ⋆⋅✦⋅⋆ ──── "There she iiis!" Rika was the one caught off guard again, but her search wasn't in vain all the same. She beamed as she saw her father approaching her, running forward to catch him in a tight hug as she let out a deep breath, "You made it into the top eight, that's amazing!" Rika smiled softly, a little mumble escaping her, "I had help from others to get there. Without Atsushi and Takehiko, I don't think I would be here now." She pulled back for a moment, before tilting her head a tiny bit, "Mom's not here, huh? I knew you were going to have your work cut out for you on getting her to come, but..." She trailed off, before feeling his hand pat her back, "She's here, just not right here! Some... Clients wouldn't leave her alone, so she's been barking at them all day, trying to get them to back off so she could watch in peace. It hasn't been going well." He chuckled a tiny bit, before ruffling Rika's hair lightly, "She wanted me to pass on the message to meet her after the next round, she wanted to talk to you privately, you can find her..." Rika let out a sigh of relief, she really thought her mother was going to skip the Sports Festival entirely. She listened to her dad go on about how proud he was of her performance so far, but she had a question that was starting to bother her a little bit. "...What do I do against Risa? She apparently descends from, well... You heard what was said on stage. Everyone is building her up, I feel like even if I do win, that'll just turn people against me for knocking out a favorite." "Why worry about it?" He responded almost instantly as he pulled back Rika, his hands on her shoulders as he looked down at her, "It isn't your fault if people want to see things play out in a particular way, you're here to do the best you can. Put up the strongest fight against her you can, win or lose, you've already had a performance you can be more than proud of." She took a deep breath, her skin swirling red and yellow, her heart pounding in her chest as she did her best to steady herself, "Maybe... I guess..." He rolled his eyes for a moment, before ruffling her hair gently once again, "Come on, we're getting something to eat before you have to go back. You've still got some time before the next round." He started to pull her along, making it clear that there wasn't a choice in the matter for her...
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    ╔. .═════════╗ She could accept Sai’s reasoning. At least he HAD a reason, that was her concern. Brutality for brutality’s sake wasn’t something she would support or condone, especially if she was going to be forced into this co-captain position. That said, his attitude didn’t sit right with her. She hadn’t even dueled him yet as far as she can remember, she hadn’t dueled very many of her teammates really, and she didn’t consider that relevant to the matter at hand. And regardless of what Sai thought… She very much believed this was going to inspire people to come back at them with more venom just by association with Sai. The antics weren’t going to just disappear. “I won’t be joining for food, I’ve got a late night ahead of me. Work needs me in, had to pull some favors to get the afternoon off for this. And then I’ve got stuff to check on. Have fun celebrating you all.” She waved her hand towards the rest, heading off as she put her hands in her pockets. - - - All of her leads were a bust. It was slightly annoying, to be honest. The little card shops, those were fine, she didn’t expect to find much of help at them. A few main deck tech cards that might be useful were great, even. But the larger shops that she expected to be more useful, those had let her down. Very few of the rarer things she was looking for, very little Extra Deck options that she didn’t already have access to... Kendra sighed gently as she laid out the cards of her deck in front of her, the problem was still right here. No matter how many changes she made, no matter what little alterations she made, there was always that risk. It was starting to grate on her, no number of tests was making things just right for her. Her toolbox options were lacking. She had plenty of power behind the deck, Ultra Electromagnetic made sure of that. But she needed more options, she had even been considering asked Vega to postpone putting her into the next round just because of that, and yet she still hadn't solved her problems. Card shops weren't selling what she needed, at least not at a decent price, and even the more budget options weren't so easy to get a hold of at the moment. It was frustrating. She knew, realistically, she could bring it up with Vega. She could get a bit of help on getting the cards she wanted to put in the deck and just get to work from there, but she didn’t want to do that, at all. She didn’t want her deck to be made through the efforts of others more than her own. If she was going to follow this path, she was going to do it right. But that meant things were progressing slowly. Her toolbox was missing a few flex options, her deck wasn’t consistent enough to the point she was happy with, all of this… “Kendra, Eve, do you two think you're up for this next match?" Kendra propped her head up on her arm, resting her elbow on the table as she considered the question. “...I don’t think so. My tests haven’t gone well, if no one is available to fill in, I’ll do it, but I think I need a bit more time. There’s a few cards I’ve got my eye on and I’ve almost got them sold to me, but I just need to do a bit more persuading… I don’t know if it’ll be done in time for the match.” "Kendra, I'll have to be going to the mall today to get a bit of shopping done... If you would like to accompany me we could discuss your strategy there." She winced for a moment, a little breath escaping her, she wasn’t prepared for that. It was easy enough to confront the fact she wasn’t prepared on her own, having someone else experience that was definitely not something she wanted… But she also knew she had no way to outright deny it. She didn’t make plans, her schedule was always nearly empty, she was even going to be in that area trying to get a few more of the cards she wanted to grab for her deck… Which meant she would probably end up running into Rosalia there anyway. She took a little sigh, “...Yeah, sounds good. I was going to be in the area. One of the shops there has a card I’m trying to get my hands on, I’m just waiting to see if they’re going to sell it or if they’re going to keep using it as a pride piece…” She cursed her luck for a moment. Rosalia will see right away that she isn’t ready, it wasn’t even just the Extra Deck she was dealing with right now. As if the day couldn’t get worse. ╚═════════. .╝
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    "Oh, we should get something tasty to celebrate our first win. My treat." "So, what are we getting to eat?" "Mmm... Well, first things first, you guys should go and enjoy whatever you guys want. I'm gonna be a bit busy tonight, so I need to go home and get ready~" Vega crooned, then cleared her throat, "However, I'm gonna take the time to organize my thoughts. I would like to go ahead and meet up Tuesday, rather than later in the week... and yes, we have a match next weekend." Standing up to walk away with a soft hum, Vega stopped as she passed Daichi... placing a hand on his shoulder and looking down slightly to give him a soft smile. She patted his shoulder before stepping away, spinning around and flashing a smile and peace sign to the team as she descended the elevator. Of course, there was plenty she could say right then... But it was best for her to be hands off, she felt. ----- Saturday, February 22 6:35 PM "Running just a little late, are we?" a soft voice giggled as Vega walked into the ritzy Italian restaurant, looking over to it. At the bar sat a woman wearing a nice, body length dress, with some seashell flourishes on it, and her light blue hair fell to the small of her back. She stood up and walked over to Vega, looking up at the taller woman with a smile from about 9 inches below, "I figured you might be a bit later than this. Didn't your team want to celebrate after their first win?" "Well, they did, but... It's their limelight, y'know?" Vega laughed, rubbing at the back of her head, her own outfit almost matching the other woman's, but a bit less form fitting. Bits of She wore a pair of bangles that took on an appearance similar to flame, but overall, the outfit she chose was much more modest. Unlike the woman, she wore flats, before leaning in to rest her arm around the smaller person. "Besides, I didn't wanna stand you up. I just... take some time getting ready." The other woman giggled as Vega blushed a bit, leaning her head against the coach, "So... do you want to tell me about what happened with it, then?" "Ah, well... He's a bit... That is to say..." Vega scratched at her cheek, trying to look away from her companion, "He's... he's a diamond in the rough. Yeah, that's it. It's a rocky start, but it'll get better. Now, let's get a table, then I can tell you more, yeah?" ----- Tuesday, February 25 3 PM "Once again, congratulations on your first win, Team Genesis!" Vega began the meeting with a big grin, slamming her hands on the table, "Before anything else, it was a great showing! I had Daichi, Sai, and Falisha show up early to have a talk with each of them individually, but for now, I'm sure you've had time to look over the replays I sent each of you... At least, if you were planning to at all~" Vega seemed completely unconcerned, but there was an ever so slight accusatory tone to her voice. "Anyway, while I encourage more discussion of the duels since you've had time to think about it more, I would also like you to each look at your messages. I've sent info on the next team we'll be up against, and, well... It's a somewhat newer team, but one with a lot of fans and a lot of success so far. To the point that a number of the duelists on it are considered Major Circuit worthy or better. I'm not saying that I doubt you guys, by any means, but... do not take Team Free lightly." Walking over to the whiteboard, Vega hummed as she began to doodle more @Ignisters alongside writing some information down. While it was only briefly, if someone was paying close attention they would see the flame-like bangle on her arm peek out from under her coat's sleeve, before she turned around and clapped, having listed the decks, duel type, and approximate skill level of each of the players. Two in particular, Johnathan Nava and Charlie Robin, seemed to be ranked S+ and S tier, respectively. "Now... We won't know who they send out against us on Saturday, but we still need to be prepared. We only really have Daichi for action duels, so I assuuuume we'll be going with him, but that leaves standard and turbo. Kendra, Eve, do you two think you're up for this next match?"
  50. 2 likes
    With Ryia's continued attacks the monster Reinaan had attacked now seemed ready to retreat. Had the sounds of the larger beast approaching not been there he might have given chase in annoyance but at the same time it was clear that it no longer wanted to fight them and if killing it meant that much to him there was a good chance it was going to bleed out on its own. The draken pulled his weapon out of the beast after Ryia did, the slight delay from the thought process about letting it go. The boy had been ready to prepare for the much more pressing matter before them when Ryia spoke to him. He couldn't help but chuckle softly at the girl's attempt which he recognized as something of the banter he and Lindow often shared on the battlefield. "You must be really raring to go." Reinaan teased in response before taking stock of the situation. "We need to hide the mounts!" He shouted to the group as he turned to face the bulk of them. "And then ourselves while we're at it. Whether or not we attack it we'd be stupid to do it head on." The hunter offered as instruction to those who probably hadn't spent their whole life fighting monsters larger than themselves to live and eat. Admittedly, most of the strategies that came to mind involved a solid ten draken hunting party but then they had a fair bit of magic on their side his old hunting parties could only dream of. "Pick your favorite bush or tree and get as low down as you can. If we attack we focus its legs until it can't stand anymore." "Have you considered smoking it away?" the voice of Ziiyol the spirit of fire asked, perfectly relaxed. Reinaan groaned as his partner appeared at his side. "Really not the time for this." He muttered at her in hopes that would be the end of her contributions. "But have you at least cons-" Ziiyol began before the Draken cut her off. "I'm not setting fire to the forest!" Reinaan asserted more loudly than he meant to. He turned from his spirit who laughed softly to herself and followed him to see his plan through.
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