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  1. 4 likes
    Shout out to @Tormented for paying for this site which doesn't do much of anything for him. Given a certain other site is being filled with bots I'm even more appreciative than before. Even if not many people are around it's still nice to have this place.
  2. 4 likes
    Once Z. and Hector got back, it was time to distribute. This was trickier than Z. expected, though. Not everyone wanted or in fact deserved some fruit. The former category was taken up by everyone surrounding Clobber the Clobbopus and his newfound coconut-cracking abilities and the latter category, well… Jirachi was busy producing fruit of his own, so he didn’t need any fruit either. Whatever. There were still a few people/Pokémon milling about, so Z. stopped pretending to be Hector and picked one of them. Chester seemed especially aimless, having just walked up to the stream and then just back again, so Z. zeroed in on him. “Catch,” Z. tossed an apple at Chester’s head, though with a bit of underthrow, the apple landed just short of the Chespin. “Eat up,” they said. “Need all the calories you can get if we’re gonna be saving the world.” They looked past Chester to the rushing stream. “Were you trying to catch a look at your reflection in there? Water’s kind of fast for that. I tried to be a Froakie earlier and just ended up looking like a Treeko.” They frowned. “Other way around.” Why was it so hard to get that right? Hadn’t Marv always been a Froakie? “Whatever.” Chester picked up the apple from the ground and looked at it. “I was, and well, it is. Sadly, I am not too accustomed to this body yet, familiar as it may be in a general sense.” The Chespin waved his stubby arms at his side as if to convey this feeling. Then he let out a small, if not begrudging, “Thanks,” gesturing to the apple. “Sure,” Z. said. “Hey, though, hold still.” Z. did the same thing they did with Hector, pacing around their target, trying to get a good idea of exactly how they looked from every angle, and, when they were ready, did another sick backflip and came down as a copied Chespin. “There’s a better look, I hope,” they said. They imitated Chester’s stubby arm wave and pensive face. “I guess it’s more like this right now, though.” Like, Hector, Chester was suitably impressed. “That is quite the amazing skill, Z. I suppose it would make sense being a Zorua you’d be able to pull off illusions like that, just as my own head is harder than steel. And it’s a better mirror than the river, I suppose. Though, uh,” his mood shifted back to concerned as he studied the finer details of Z.’s illusion “do I really look like that?” Z. tried a few more different poses. “Close, anyway. I don’t think it's perfect perfect yet. I can feel certain things just not working right. I can’t do stuff I think that I should, but I already promised myself those were- Oh, you mean the face? Yeah, my guy. You look so fucking lost right now, I’d be surprised if you knew which way was up.” “Ugh, how mortifying.” The (real) Chespin brought a stub to his face. “I suppose I have had a lot on my mind with all the recent developments. Though!” Chester pointed skyward. “I am very much aware which way is up right now, thank you.” Z. resisted the urge to roll their eyes, if only because they couldn’t imagine Chester doing anything of the sort, and they were still mimicking him as best they could. They focused on the second of those sentences instead. “Yeah?” they said. “Which one’s more shocking to you, waking up one morning from a night of uneasy dreams and finding yourself transformed into a Pokémon, or being conscripted by a demigod to save a world you know nothing about?” Continuing their mimic, they also brought a stub to their head, jamming it right under their chin. “Or is it a secret third thing?” They needn’t have bothered with the mimicking. Chester wasn’t paying attention to the physical mockery at all. He earnestly answered the question. “I feel like I have taken to being in a new body surprisingly well actually. Jirachi’s proposition is also exciting, if not a bit daunting, especially with how little we have to go on.” His voice got low, but the next question was still clearly directed at Z. “How exactly does someone help another in a situation they’re both wildly unfamiliar with?” “Oh god, teamwork questions.” Now it was Z.’s turn to bury their head in their stumps for real this time. “You moderated me enough on the forum, so you know I'm not the person to ask for that stuff, especially when someone else is already a one-person team.” They did another sick backflip, but their memory of what Hector looked like all joined together was already fuzzy, so their impression came out the same. Z. dismissed it quickly. “Fucking… Okay. But you did ask me. I think, then, the best thing someone who's lost can do for another lost person is just be there with them. Nobody wants to be lost alone.” “Right, I should have kept in mind who I was asking,” Chester joked. “But if that’s all it takes…” He looked past Z. over to Hector. “But you would expect someone to be spearheading the rest, correct? Showing them which way to go?” Z. couldn’t help but stare. “You’re really hung up on this, huh?” they said. “I mean, you could fight him on it. Six on one doesn't seem like a fair fight but I've got a feeling in my gut that says I’ve taken worse bets. Maybe you haven’t. I dunno. But okay, just between you and me, but when I jumped into the water all the way back at the bottom of that dungeon, I absolutely wanted people to follow me, even if I didn’t say it. That sort of teamwork, if it does need a set leader at all, is a two-way street all the same. Of course, who did end up following me…” Z. left an empty space. They didn’t even want to think the name. “well, that’s what I mean about two-way streets, I guess. “Oh, but if you tell anyone I said any of that, I’ll peel your little green shell off of your little brown head and drag it through the mud.” Chester nodded along. “I see…” Then he started to laugh. “You’re more of a team player than I gave you credit for, Z. And if that’s the case, don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me. I may not be perfect, but I always respect another’s wishes. Now,” and this is where the laughter really got going, “let us be lost together!” And they wandered back off to the rest of the group for real this time. Z. shook their head. Part of them felt like a suck-up, going right after both moderators and getting back in their good graces. It was just part of the dance, of course. Act out, lie low, accrue social capital, and spend it all. But then again, Chester and Hector weren’t moderators anymore. They were people, and like Z. had just said, they were all lost. Before they could get too lost, they noticed something still on the ground. “Hey!” they called out. “Actually take your fucking apple!” They threw it at Chester’s head again -- harder this time.Z. balanced their new badge on both of their front paws, observing it as it glinted in the sunlight. It was just the right size to fit at the base of their new Zorua neck, but there were other ramifications to consider. Would it work while they had an illusion up, or did they have to illusion up a fake badge too to use the real one? It seemed like such an easy thing to test out, but they didn’t want to get sidetracked. They were playing good right now. That would probably change once they got where they were going, of course, and they’d otherwise have to force themself to listen to everyone’s yammering, but sure they could play nice for now. They put the badge down for a moment and took a drink of water. Were they supposed to set a home point now? Was this home? They hadn’t been lying about that Hierarchy of Needs snark. As frivolous as that chart was, shelter was still the next step. Was the night sky going to be their blanket? Z. scratched behind their ear and consciously felt the Zorua fur in the way. That would help in that case. Maybe they were supposed to make a bunch of lean-tos. Whatever. It didn’t matter. Not right now, anyway. “Alright,” Z. said, finally putting the badge on. “Let’s go get lost.”
  3. 4 likes
    A Knight's Tale Ends "Sir Petrus...?" Petrus heard the cooing of Gwenllian, causing the red armored knight to turn away from his steed, to see the princess standing at the doorway to the stables. "My princess, why have you come?" he sighed, looking away from the beautiful one before him. "I had wished not to see you, before I departed." "Yes, Sir Petrus." Gwenllian responded softly. "But I could not, nay, I would not be alright until I saw you off. After your engagement with the dragon under Adrien's control and even stopping Adrien from his unfathomable techniques in the dark arts, I prayed you would stay for a bit longer." "Aye, and I would indeed stay." Petrus spoke, his gaze returning to Gwenllian. "But you know as well as I do, my princess, that the longer I stay, the more danger that would be caused by Adrien and his magic. It is the duty of a knight to protect what I care for..." he paused. "To protect who I care for." The two continued to stare at each other, until finally Gwenllian embraced Petrus, holding him tightly and not letting go. Petrus could hear the young girl sobbing, even hearing her tears colliding with his crimson armor. He tried his hardest to fight the tears that hung in his eyes, but it was not to be. From his eyes, the crimson knight began to cry as well, continuing to hold onto Gwenllian and not letting her go. The minutes seemed to tick away as the two continued to hold each other endearingly, but alas, this slowly was broken apart by the crimson knight. Petrus wiped the tears from his eyes and then Gwenllian's eyes, before he took her hand and slightly kissed it. "Gwenllian, I promise to you, I will return to you." he spoke, his voice cracking with sadness. "I will defeat Adrien and return to you." Gwenllian's hand remained held by Petrus until she put her other hand on top of his. She gave off a faint smile before slipping something into his hand. It was a small ring with the emblem of a spider engraved into it. "Then return to me, Sir Petrus." she said softly. "This will give you reason to return to me." The crimson knight remained quiet, only holding the ring in his hand as he looked at Gwenllian. A small nod came forth as he turned and mounted his steed, before trotting out of the stables. With a small jolt of his foot, the painted horse galloped away fast from the kingdom. He jolted his foot again, the horse ran faster. Then faster. And faster... Petrus tugged on the reins of the horse, before he stopped and looked back behind him. Now the kingdom of Orléans was but a faint glimpse, a far distant goal now. He looked away, directing his gaze only to the spider engraved ring. His mind could only drift back to Gwenllian and her beauty. Petrus couldn't stand being apart from the love of his life, but he swore an oath, and as a knight, he knew he would have to uphold it. He put the ring into the satchel on the horse, before jolting its side again, riding off towards the rising sun. The sunlight glistened over his crimson armor. And once more, the spider knight rode off, to finish his quest once and for all. He looked at his computer screen, letting out a loud sigh. Right now, that was the last page he had on the story he’d been working on and off entitled “Of Spiders & Knights”. This was a project that Marcus had started since he was fourteen. Of course, it would’ve been done quicker iiiiiiiiiif he wasn’t also moonlighting as the one and only arachnid based hero and saving the city. He finally got up from his chair, moving away from his desk as he moved around his apartment. “Okay you guys…hit save on that for me…I'll send it to Triple J by the end of the day.” he said, pointing at a small group of spiders that were by his keyboard and mouse, to which they immediately went to work on saving the document quite a few times. "Who am I? You sure you want to know? Alright then, let's start at the beginning, one last time. Same story, different beats." From the Top! "My name is Marcus Mattox. I solved an ancient tablet and got bit by a mystical spider, and for the last four years I've been New York's one and only Spider-Man Multi-Threader! Pretty sure the rest of the narrative you know, or at least the broad strokes of it. Became Anansi's ambassador, became a superhero, lost my dad, saved a bunch of people, saved the city...quite a few times actually, fell in love...uh...she's on the wrong side of the law currently...hopefully that'll change, wrote a book...well...attempting to write a book. Hey, you try and juggle being an aspiring writer while also being a protector of the city and tell me how easy it is! Ahem...anyway, even though I have to juggle the career I'm chasing and being a spider-based hero, I wouldn't trade it for the world. After all, I'm the only thing standing between New York and the ever oncoming threats that rear their ugly heads. It's my story that I've been blessed with...and I'm going to see it through to its final chapter!" “Grazie, the first of many tales that'll be written for the Daily Bugle Publishing. Now…let’s see if the city that never sleeps has anything new for me.” Marcus said, immediately flipping on a police scanner whilst grabbing his phone. He started flipping around it as the scanner crackled to life. “ALL UNITS! We have a situation…” the voice said immediately. Marcus knew that always meant something ‘fun’ was afoot. Whilst shoving a chocolate chip muffin down his gullet, he could hear the scanner continue. “...Repeat! Mysterio in Times Square!” “Oooooh, more waxing lyrical with the discount Sorcerer Supreme!” Marcus laughed, fastening his web-shooters onto his wrists. Hang On...! Let's review this... "Bit of background on one Quientin Beck AKA Mysterio. He was generally just an illusionist that played shows out here in NYC, but he had the aptitude and determination to do more. Apparently he went to study the Mystic Arts from our own Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange. So he had the drive, the aptitude and determination…he ended up getting to the top in terms of skill levels to an extent…so what happened? Well, you're Friendly Neighborhood Multi-Threader happened. Mind you…not purposely. See about this time, Strange sought me out for a potential candidate for his replacement and wanted to train me. Now, this was short lived, considering the guy was very strict when teaching anything in the Mystic Arts, plus he hated how I utilized tech with my powers. Nice guy though, we occasionally chit chat from time to time, play chess…even assists me with ideas for my books…annnnnd I'm rambling. Back to the present topic! Beck seems to resent me, not only taking away his chance to become the next Sorcerer Supreme, buuuuuuut I sort of saw him attempting to mess with the wrong kind of magic while he was at Kamar-Taj. We're talkin' like serious Dark Dimension stuff, the kind that would probably make Criss Angel blush. Downside, most of Beck's stuff is all just illusionary based, cause that's all he's good with. Maybe one day he'll surprise me though." HELLO NEW YORK!!! He grabbed his suit and immediately tossed it on, sliding the mask on last. He flung his apartment window open and took a running leap out of it, immediately launching himself outward, shooting a web as it caught the corner of a building, slinging him around to follow after New York’s Finest, already rushing to the scene. The exhilarating rush of the web-swinging helped Marcus…Multi-Threader…focus and clear his head. Right now, he knew how the former Sorcerer Supreme candidate operated, he was a sucker for the audience…a sucker for theatrics, so if he played his cards right…it would be simple. His thoughts, however, were cut short by the ringing of his phone. Luckily he had the earpiece in his ear. “Hellooooooo?~” he answered with a laugh. “I assume you overheard the news?” the young man’s voice on the other end said. “Oh hey, kiddo!” Multi-Threader laughed, doing a quick flip in the air during his web-swinging. “Yeah, it’s ol’ fish-bowl head. So, we know what’s going on at present, Terry?” Terry simply sighed on the other end. “Honestly, it seems like the same situation as usual, buuuuuuut…looks like he brought in a giant wyrm-like dragon.” “A wyrm?! Oh man, he’s really upping his game if he’s going that far for an illusion!” Multi-Threader smirked, flipping over onto a SWAT truck’s roof. “Either way, this should prove to be fun for me…gotta cut loose after finally finishing that final chapter! Anyway, talk with you later bro…enjoy the show!” He cut the call short, holding onto the truck’s roof, watching them turn sharply into Times Square. Even before the turn, however, he was already feeling that sensation. His hairs standing on end, a tingling sensation at the back of his skull and the general chills he felt: his Spider-Sense. Once the turn was made, lo and behold, there was the green scaled menace of a wyrm dragon, terrorizing the citizens. “Sheesh, he wasn’t kidding…talk about a humongous beast!” he whistled, flipping off the truck’s roof and onto a nearby building wall. "Let's see if Beck's taught it any cool tricks." “BEHOLD!!! The return of the master of the arcane arts: Mysterio!!” a figure spoke, simply walking down a set of green magical steps. The man in a green pressed suit with a smokey fish-bowl helmet descended into the Square. “Purveyors of this new age, attempting to banish the old arts from this world, see before you the wyrm summoned straight from the Dark Dimension! You must know now that your resistance to the old arts is futile!” “So does Dormammu know that you took his pet or did you borrow it without permission?” Multi-Threader piped up, waving a bit at the villain, who now turned towards him. “Awww, what’s wrong Beck, you don’t seem happy to see me. Then again, it’s always hard to tell with that small fish tank on your head.” “Wall-crawler! You shall not hinder my plan to become the new Sorcerer Supreme this time!” Mysterio shouted, his hands began to have a magical aura around them as two green triangles began to spin in front of them. “Tibi gratias agimus quod nihil fumas!” He spoke, shooting out two green magical beams straight at the spider based hero. “-Well I tend not to smoke anything, it’s bad for the whole hero image!-” Multi-Threader shot back in perfect Latin, which seemed to make Mysterio grumble under his breath. The wall-crawling hero immediately jumped off the building’s roof, narrowly dodging the two blasts as he fired a web onto another nearby building and swung around Mysterio, flipping upwards as he shot a web ball filled with a few spiders right at the sorcerer. “Seriously Beck, I think you need to come up with some new ‘incantations’, and maybe ones that actually make sense?” “You insolent arachnid!” Mysterio shouted, already attempting to knock the spiders from the web ball off his clothing. “Totem of Anansi, you shall cease this mocking of the TRUE Sorcerer Supreme!!” “Hey, what can I say…I’m a mocker, I mock!” Multi-Threader landed on a nearby roof, immediately firing two webs at a nearby air conditioning unit that was on the roof. It was a bit of public property damage, but he figured New York would look past that part. “I’m also a puller…a tugger…a yaaaaaanker!” he grunted, pulling the unit off and proceeded to swing it around before launching it at the arcane lunatic. “Guess I’m just a general jack of all trades!” “Denique diatem efficacem inveni!” Mysterio fired off another set of magical energy in the direction of the flying air conditioning unit. “Beast of the Dark Dimension, dispose of this meddlesome spider!” he commanded the wyrm, to which Multi-Threader was now realizing..it was real, the damage it was doing definitely seemed 100% real. But luckily no one was injured that he could see…so it could’ve been much, much worse. “First, congrats on the new effective diet my guy. What did you decide to cut out…the fish?” he quipped, knocking on his head to refer to the fish-bowl helmet. “Secondly, color me impressed, Quentin! You managed to actually conjure something that isn’t a pale imitation and illusion! Maybe I should call the doc and have him inspect the impressive feat!” The wyrm roared as it slithered towards the wall-crawler, to which Multi-Threader leapt from the roof and proceeded to aim right in the direction of the creature’s face. “Let’s try and blind this guy…alright fellas, show time!” he said, holding his hands in front of him as he flung a few spiders that crawled along from them towards the oncoming beast. Once they were on the creature, Multi-Threader immediately moved mid-air to narrowly grab onto the wyrm. “Okay…time for some blindness. Go for its eyes!” For some, it would look like nothing was happening at first…until a loud, ear-piercing roar was heard from the wyrm…what truly was happening was Multi-Threader’s spiders were in the process of biting the creature’s eyes over and over again. “Alright, that’s Plan A…now…didn’t get to Plan B yet…” he grumbled, before running along the wyrm’s back, webbing one side of it’s head before swinging around it’s open mouth, narrowly avoiding it’s closing jaws, before webbing the other side. Now he held a makeshift set of webbed reins. “Alright boy…HEEL!!!” he shouted, yanking the reins upward and getting the wyrm to cease its moves.Eventually, it would stop, whether by the pulling or just due to the sheer exhaustion it was feeling. Regardless of the reason, he let go of the reins and stood victoriously over the wyrm…who…began to fade and disappear beneath his feet. “Awwww, so it was an illusion? Man, you had me convinced there Beck. Lemme take a guess…illusions with a sort of a Dark Dimension styled buff to make em feel more realistic in the moment? Gotta say, you're putting more work into this than you usually do. It's almost impressive…almost being the keyword." “Grrrr…you and your insistent meddling with my destiny shall not stand, wall-crawler!” Mysterio began to slowly descend, holding a hand out towards Multi-Threader. “Credo Elvem ipsum etiam vivere!” A quick bolt of magic was delivered towards the spider-hero, with another being prepared in succession. Multi-Threader glanced over, seeing a manhole cover and immediately fired a web at it, yanking it towards him as he used it as a shield against the first bolt of magic. He immediately spun a bit before launching it at Mysterio. “Cap…eat your heart out! Also, I'd kindly ask you to leave Elvis out of this. Let the King of Rock rest already, for Pete Sake!” Mysterio was hit by the manhole cover, trying to get his bearings back together, grumbling. “Nullae satisfactionis p-...” “Yeah yeah, you can’t get no satisfaction!” Multi-Threader was already right there in front of Mysterio, delivering a punch right into his helmed face, knocking him onto the ground. “Least you could do is not rip off Mick Jagger…first Elvis now Jagger, for shame.” he said, snapping his fingers as suddenly he was beginning to be webbed up like it was nothing. After a few moments, Multi-Threader had those few spiders start to crawl back up towards him. “Job well done, fellas.” he watched as the last one came up, noticing that it left the message: Baddie Bagged, courtesy of the Magnificent Multi-Threader. “Alright, time for us to go.” Multi-Threader chuckled. “Lest the news media decides to want to pin this on me…oh what am I saying, some most likely will anyway!” He grabbed onto a nearby light pole, swung upwards before firing a web to grab the nearest building, swinging away. Or at least…he would've, if something didn't immediately catch his eye. A bubbling black hole slowly opening nearby. Multi-Threader paused in his stride, sticking to a nearby wall, staring at the strange portal. He tapped his ear and immediately called Terry once more. "Hey kiddo…" "Marc! Saw everything, you really got him good this time round!" "Yeah…listen, there's a strange portal-like sight I'm looking at right now." Multi-Threader continued, sounding a little serious. "May want to cancel the plans with me coming to see you and the missus…" "...Marc don't do anything stupid, please…" A chuckle escaped his lips. "Me? Stupid? C'mon kiddo, it's more-or-less called creative curiosity. I'll be back, don't worry." he said, hearing his brother sigh on the other end. Once the call was over, the arachnid based hero made his way towards it, getting closer and closer…though it was beginning to be a bit too close…like at an alarming rate. "Okay…it's sucking me in like a Hoover…wonderful!!!" Multi-Threader shouted, trying to resist but ultimately took the plunge and was drug in. Hitchhiker's Guide to...the Spider-Verse? Multi-Threader wasn't too thrilled about this insane roller-coaster of a ride he was being taken on…even noticing a few of his spiders crawling on his arm and beginning to web a sign saying: S.O.S. "I doubt anyone's gonna answer that, fellas!" he shouted, falling or being drug along through wherever he was going even more. He did, however, eventually see quite a sight he'd never seen before. Was it…space? No…that couldn't be the case, as he could still breathe. Scratch space out of the equation for the moment. If not space, then what? He didn't have much time to ruminate on it, considering his eyes were glued on the grander picture before him. An infinite web…spread across this strange void. "Curiouser and curiouser…" he muttered, continuing to fall as apparently others before him did. As he passed by…he was stunned at seeing the sights he did. World's that were similar to his own…but vastly different. "It's a full on multiverse…interconnected by these weaved webs…" Multi-Threader guessed to absolutely no one. He had heard that it might've been possible, but this wasn't something he figured was. He passed by a few of these interconnecting threads…seeing the world's and even specific things. For instance, a young man being hit with an ancient arrow and obtaining a ghostly spider-like being that came from within… Then there was a robotic heroine dressed to the nines in black armor… And…was that a horde of spiders, dressed up in a spandex suit? That one there sort of hit home for him to an extent…just like how the world that was in front of him was planning to. "Oh damnit…" he gulped, bracing for impact as he was practically launched right out the portal into the air. It was a strange looking city, though at first glance he could've mistook it for Manhattan. Nevertheless, Multi-Threader exhaled slowly, immediately looking around as he found a nearby rooftop and a billboard on it. "Now…let's hope…my aim ain't off…otherwise this spider is going splat!" he muttered, immediately launching his web right to the billboard. It stuck successfully, allowing him to swing gracefully upward and land on top of the roof. "Alright, stuck the landing!!" Multi-Threader huffed lightly. "Now…where in the world am I?" He looked around, before glancing at the billboard and noticed the words: Metro City. "Metro City? Well, I officially know I'm not in Kansas anymore…and luckily no house was dropped on me." He took a moment to attempt to gather his thoughts, about the time a glider flew past his peripheral. Well, perhaps "flew past" is a bit of a stretch...it was more like it was stationary and hovering at about 50 feet above the roof line. Unbeknownst to him, it wasn't who he thought it was…but he wouldn't know this or care. "Oh goodie, looks like the Wicked Witch sent out at least one of her favorite flying monkeys after me. Well, better not keep ol' Norman waiting!" He began to jump building after building, eventually web-swinging towards the glider. "Ayyyyy Gobby! Been a bit! What's the plan this time? Drag me into a new dimension, attempt to squash the spider? Ooooh! Or are you planning to open that Goblin themed restaurant you've always wanted??" Multi-Threader called after the "Goblin".
  4. 4 likes
    High above the streets of Manhattan, a woman looked down from her rooftop perch. Through the black miasma that filled the world's atmosphere, she couldn't see the streets from up here, but she could still hear the traffic, always buzzing about. She wasn't sure how long she'd been sitting up here, but she did know she was getting impatient. "Eden Brock, stop where you are!! We're taking you back to Alchemax, dead or alive!" An exasperated groan escaped Eden's lips. The kind one would make when simply trying to relax, but the same interruption gets in the way every five seconds. Her gaze did turn, but rather than behind her, it was to her right, where, stuck to the wall by what resembled a black, tar-like web, was a young man still struggling to break free. "Who's that?" One of the armed men demanded, nodding toward the trapped man. "What's he doing here?" "Bait." "W--" "Do you even know who you're trying to capture?" "...an Alchemax intern who got fired after stealing Project Venom. Fisk's orders are to bring that thing back to Alchemax so it can be disposed of. With or without you still intact." "Very wrong, very false, and very hostile too." From beneath Eden's jacket came a loud snarling noise. "Oh, we don't like liars, by the way. And we really don't like people threatening or badmouthing us." Getting up to her feet, Eden finally turned to acknowledge the armed squad of men behind her, counting them up real quick in her head before concluding that Alchemax had once again not sent nearly enough people. There was only six of them. "Now, you seem to have been fed false intel, so let's set the record straight, one last time." WE ARE... "My name is Eden Brock, though I've almost forgotten that a couple of times. Seven months ago, I was an unpaid intern at Alchemax who was dragged on-board - against my will, I should add - as the first human test subject for the top-secret Project Venom, which was designed to kill Spider-Girl. We'll give you the short version from there. We got fired, the project was scrapped, and we argued for a few days because two distinct life-forms sharing a body just didn't sit well at first. We reconciled, united under a common goal, and jointly decided to kill Spider-Girl, not because Fisk says so, but because that's what we want. Of course, we want Alchemax destroyed too, each for our own reasons." A black ooze worked its way up most of Eden's body, before branching off at the neck. From the suit of chemical armor, an extra head sprouted, looking directly at the squad of assailants. "We can never go back to our old life. One of us was powerless and afraid, and the other was a lab project not supposed to think or act on its own. Together, we perfectly compliment each other; we're able to do whatever we want, and don't have to be afraid of anyone or anything. We can't describe how liberating that is. And we're certainly not about to let you take that away from us. Not that we think you could, no matter how hard you try or how many of you there are." The head of the suit slid itself into place, wrapping itself around and over Eden's, encasing her entirely in its pitch-black form. "After all, we are Venom. We'd recommend running and saying we evaded your capture attempts, just FYI." "Like hell we're backing down from this kind of paycheck!" With that, the men opened fire, spraying bullets on Venom with every intent to bring the beast down. Only to stop in shock as the chemical suit of armor seemed completely unaffected, its form shifting and churning to push the bullets back out and spill them onto the ground. "Well, we tried." VENOM Venom shot one of their arms forward, as if to punch, despite the distance. From the symbiotic bioarmor's fist, an extra appendage sprang forth with the punch, its end taking a form roughly like the head of a spear, which thrust itself directly through one of the armed men. Their other arm, meanwhile, reached out toward a man on the side, extending into a long, prehensile tentacle. It wrapped itself tight around him, before flinging him up into the air, and he soon disappeared out of view through the miasma. The tentacle then grabbed the next man over, before slamming him into the roof beneath his feet and then dragging him closer to Venom. Once he was close enough, the armor's torso erupted into an array of tentacles, grabbing him and pulling him into the armor, where his form could be seen thrashing and struggling under the bioarmor before slowly stopping, followed by the Venom suit returning to its original size, leaving no trace of the man it had just swallowed. "Die, dammit!" One of the men had managed to reload his gun and open fire again in the time it took to dispose of the first three. Venom simply ran up to the assailant and put all of their might into a single punch, shooting him off the rooftop, across the street, and into the next building over. Their hand then reached out, simply grabbing the next man over by the neck and squeezing tighter and tighter until he stopped moving. Just in time for the man who had been flung up to land back on the roof. With five out of the six armed men disposed of in no time flat, Venom turned its eyes toward the last one. "Tell Fisk to use something much bigger than rifles if he wants to stop us." "So do you just never take a vacation day or something?" Immediately disregarding the last of Alchemax's men, Venom snapped their attention directly behind them, a hungry elation in their voice at the sight of the masked heroine before them. "SPIDER-GIRL! We were getting tired of waiting! We set up bait and everything!" From the back of the bioarmor, a singular tentacle emerged, reaching out and grabbing at the webbing keeping Venom's hostage in place before ripping it out, setting him free. No later than that, however, did the hostage find himself in Venom's grip, and promptly flung off the roof. "Why!?" Immediately, Spider-Girl sprung into action, sprinting past Venom and getting a running start to leap off the roof. Not even a second after taking the leap, however, her spider sense was already going off. Something was behind her and approaching fast, and it didn't take a genius to guess what, or rather, who. Spider-Girl swung her arm out to the side, shooting out a string of webbing to a nearby building, and immediately yanking on it to fling herself to the side. Not a moment too late, either, as she right after saw Venom dart past her, in a trajectory that would have definitely let them catch Spider-Girl had she reacted just a moment later. "DON'T IGNORE US!" Venom roared, as they fell past Spider-Girl and faded from view through the miasma. BATTLE ABOVE NEW YORK Ignoring Venom's demands to not be ignored, Spider-Girl started forward again, using the same method she'd used to avoid Venom's attack. She had to find that hostage, and catch him before he turned into a red splat on the pavement. She liked to think she was getting pretty good at the whole web-swinging thing, but even so, she was putting everything she had into a mad dash down the street. Not long after her initial dodge, however, she could sense it again. Venom wasn't giving up that easily, and they were leaping for Spider-Girl at a point in her swing where she didn't really have the ability to dodge well enough to escape. Venom and Spider-Girl collided, crashing into the walls of a nearby building where the pair stuck themselves. Once on the wall, Venom reared back their right fist, making sure to keep the left hand on the wall to prevent Spider-Girl from chasing down the hostage any further. Their fist shot forward, but Spider-Girl moved her head aside to avoid the punch, and all that happened for it was Venom's fist went through the steel walls of whatever building they were on. They tried to swing their arm from where it was, but Spider-Girl ducked out of the way, slipping out of Venom's range by letting herself fall through the gap between their legs, and leaving a gaping gash where once there was a fist-sized hole in the wall as the only sign either woman was there to begin with. "Spider sense... how annoying." "Maybe you should take some time off to relax," Spider-Girl called out, starting off in the hostage's direction again. "I bet a good spa day would do wonders for that complexion of yours!" As Spider-Girl sent out her next web line to continue swinging, Venom extended a tentacle from their hand, wrapping it around the heroine's leg and pulling back, stopping her escape once again. In return, Spider-Girl grabbed the tentacle with both hands, and with the full, unrestricted use of her strength, pulled on both ends, ripping the end that had grabbed her off from the rest of the tentacle. A surge of pain shot through Venom's bioarmor, and the pair let out a horrible, primal shriek as the sudden sensation shot through them, causing them to lose their focus and fall to the streets below, leaving behind a loud thud and a small crater at the point of impact as Spider-Girl started retreating yet again. "Ohhh... we're gonna enjoy killing her, and we're gonna do it slowly so we can savor the moment," Venom growled, as they got back up to their feet. Back above the streets, meanwhile, Spider-Girl could hear someone shouting for help. A wave of relief washed over her on the fact that, based on where it was coming from, Venom's unlucky victim had found himself something to hang onto before taking a fatal fall to the streets below. As she got closer, however, she heard something large and metallic from below. Even without the spider sense, she could tell Venom was up to something. From underneath her, a large semi truck quickly came into view, springing out of the miasma and heading straight for her. With no time to dodge, the best Spider-Girl could hope for was to take the truck head-on. Once she'd been hit by a projectile truck, Spider-Girl rolled over, moving herself to the side of the truck and using it as a springboard to close the rest of the distance to the hostage, scooping him up from his precarious perch before running up to the building's roof as fast as she could, setting him down on solid ground. "Sorry I can't take you down from here, but I've got a maniac trying to kill me. Call the police or fire department or something; they'll get you down." Next order of business: the truck. Spider-Girl perched herself on the edge of the roof, shooting out a pair of webs from her arms across the street to the building opposite her. Once those were connected, she disconnected the webs from her web shooters, and secured them onto the roof she was standing on. Then she repeated the process as many times as time would allow for, before the truck started coming back down. Once the vehicle came into sight, two things immediately registered in Spider-Girl's mind. One: The truck. Two: The familiar sensation of her spider sense alerting her that Venom was coming, and fast. New plan. Spider-Girl leapt off the roof, shooting herself through the air and landing on top of the truck. On the way, she made a point to check through the windshield for any occupants. Nobody was inside, and the driver's side door was open, meaning whoever was driving had managed to get out before Venom threw the thing. Good. Naturally, once Spider-Girl landed, Venom wasn't far behind. The latter landed with such force that the webs beneath the truck gave in faster than they would have otherwise, and the truck began to fall again. Something Spider-Girl already knew she'd have to deal with. Spider-Girl planted her feet and one hand firmly on top of the truck to stick to it, and with the other, shot a web line to the closest building. She was not looking forward to this next part. The impact of the truck hitting an entire building was enough to shake Venom off, giving Spider-Girl a precious moment to reinforce her web line, slowing her descent until she was able to set the truck down on the sidewalk, free of pedestrians who had since vacated its landing zone. It was a strain both on her web shooter and her arms, but a sigh of relief escaped Spider-Girl's lips when she realized she'd done it. But fans and other bystanders were of course not the only thing waiting for her down there. Spider-Girl jumped, leapt, climbed, and hopped around, but the distance was closed, and Venom was not somebody she wanted to take a direct hit from. While her spider sense was saving her up until this point, eventually, Spider-Girl's luck ran out. After enough time, she found herself in Venom's clutches, the villain holding Spider-Girl up by her wrist, keeping her at arm's length to prevent her from striking back effectively. "We finally caught you. Now, we are going to kill you - slowly - and then we are going to eat you so that nothing is left, and then we are going to destroy Alchemax." Venom's grip began to tighten. Spider-Girl could hear the cracking and creaking of one of her injectors getting crushed and eventually broken in Venom's grip, and the bioarmor began to crawl its way up Spider-Girl's arm, constricting everything it was able to wrap itself around. Spider-Girl began looking around for something, anything to get her out of this bind. The bioarmor had taken her arm entirely, and was making its way around to her neck and ribs. Then she saw it. Unsuspecting, red salvation! A fire hydrant. Spider-Girl took a deep breath, and with her free hand, she shot out one last web line of desperation, catching the hydrant by one of its valves, and subsequently ripping it off. The resulting blast stream of water knocked Venom off their feet, washed the chemical bioarmor clean off of Spider-Girl's own suit, and forced the dangerous chemical lifeform that was Venom to retreat into the body of its host as the combatants rolled and crawled out of the hydrant's aquatic assault. "Not the spa day I suggested, but you sure look better after a good rinsing," Spider-Girl said, shaking her arm to get the blood flowing normally again once she was back on her feet. "You think this is over?" Venom taunted. "We'll dry off, and we'll hunt you down, again and again. You can't escape us, Spider-Girl. We'll chase you to the ends of the earth if we must." "Sure will, champ." As she dismissed Venom's threats, Spider-Girl hopped over the stream of water to get closer to Venom, lifting them up and putting them against the wall, before spraying them down with webbing to keep them stuck in place. "We both know you'll just break out of whatever prison they put you in, so just stand there for a while and think about your actions. I'm getting out of here before the press shows up. See ya!" "You aren't going anywhere without us!" Venom shouted, struggling with all of their might to break free of the web Spider-Girl had ensnared them in. Alas, without the might of the symbiote, they were but a normal person, and escape was impossible. As Spider-Girl continued to leave, it was all Venom could think to do to continue trying to provoke the hero. "This is an underhanded tactic that a hero should not resort to! You haven't won anything yet! Get back here! Spider-Girl! Fight us, you coward! You... you're already gone, aren't you?" In Eden's throat, the feeling of a large, moving lump could be felt, before the head of the symbiote stuck itself out of Eden's body through her mouth. "Cutting us free," it said, lowering its head down to dig its rows of dagger-like teeth into the webs holding them in place, essentially eating its way to freedom before retracting back into Eden's body. We have lost once again. "That's fine. No matter how many times we lose, we only need to win once. We're going home, I guess." HOME SWEET HOME After a long day of heroics mixed with keeping up with her job at the Bugle, there was nothing quite like going home. Once she got her Bugle job, Joanna insisted on moving out to live on her own, and found a one-bedroom apartment before long. The place was cheap and certainly not something to be proud of, but it was well within her budget, and the landlord was a pretty good guy, too. She easily could've gotten a new place by now, but by the time that was on the table, Joanna had grown pretty fond of her little home, for better or worse. Plus, the neighbors were interesting people. Door's stuck again. That, however, was her one real complaint. The door. She'd brought it up several times, and by the sound of things, getting it fixed was definitely on the to-do list, but she'd yet to see any signs that it would actually happen. Putting about as much force into it as she would have been able to before becoming Spider-Girl, Joanna gave the door one push after another, until it finally gave way and let her into her own apartment. With a door like that, she probably didn't even need to lock it, but she wasn't about to test that the hard way. Inside the apartment, every sign pointed to the place being decently old, predating the chemtech boom of the 90s and having received no real renovations since. The easiest giveaway was the windows. They were sealed away behind an extra pane of glass now, but the windows themselves were an older type meant to be opened to let in fresh air. Not getting to live in a time where that was a viable option was something Joanna would have regretted, had she any say in when she was born. But it wasn't like she could control that, so moping over it would accomplish less than nothing. Plus, this was her place to relax after another day in the life of Spider-Girl. Joanna tossed the bag hanging from her shoulder onto the couch, opened the refrigerator, and pulled out a box of pizza she'd ordered the other day, grabbing a slice and sitting down without bothering to reheat the pizza. "Pizza time. Finally." As she worked her way through the piece of cold pizza, Joanna opened up the bag and reached inside. Feeling around past her Spider-Girl suit, she grabbed onto what felt like a bent, warped piece of metal, and pulled out the injector Venom had crushed earlier. Based on the look of it, it was - in her untrained opinion - completely fucked. "Damn. Parker's not gonna be happy about that." She'd have to drop by his place tomorrow to get that fixed. If something urgent came up between now and then, she could certainly manage with just one injector, but having both just felt better. The day was just about over though, so Joanna could kick back, eat her cold pizza, and watch some garbage TV programming. News channels were mostly talking about Spider-Girl's actions of the day, which she didn't need a recap on. There was one that mentioned one of Oscorp's lead engineers was getting laid off, but what Oscorp did was frankly none of her business; her beef was purely with Alchemax. Drama channels, nothing interesting. Movie channels, nothing interesting. Comedy channels, nothing new. Joanna chose to go back to the news channel talking about Oscorp; it was a story she wasn't aware of, which by default made it the most interesting thing on TV right now. It was also one of Norman Osborn's very rare press appearances. "Letting go of Doctor Octavius isn't a decision I made lightly. His contributions have been invaluable in seeing Oscorp develop into the chemtech titan it is today. However, over the decades, Oscorp's philosophy on chemtech has changed, and while I still see Otto as a dear friend, and a great man, the distance in ideology between him and Oscorp has only gotten bigger over time." "Mr. Osborn, can we get official word on the rumors that various national governments have denied extensions to the rights for Oscorp's chemtech testing fields!?" "I would like to keep tonight's headline focused on Doctor Octavius." "Mr. Osborn, what is--" "Mr. Osborn, would you--" "Mr. Os--" "Mr. Osborn, Alchemax's CEO Wilson Fisk has openly decried Spider-Girl's acts of vigilantism, does Oscorp hold the same negative view of Spider-Girl?" Joanna leaned in close to the TV for this one. Suddenly, she was invested in this press conference. And based on the time he took to think about an answer, it sounded like Norman was willing to answer this one! Suddenly, a sharp pain shot through her body, and a bizarre, additional sensation she couldn't fully describe. It wasn't anything like an injury. More like... a feeling that she wasn't even there in the first place? And then, a hole appeared above her. Just, a hole, in the air itself. There was no chemtech in the world that could accomplish this, and before she had time to think about it further, she realized the hole was sucking her in. THE PORTAL Joanna tried to push herself back down, but that certainly didn't work. She could feel herself getting pulled up still. Her web shooters weren't even on or she'd use that, but she made certain to close and grab her Spider-Girl bag, stuffing the broken injector in as well for good measure. She reached down to the floor, hoping to stick to it like she would on any other surface. Which worked. For a bit. Soon, however, that too proved ineffective, and there was nothing Joanna could do but be swallowed up by this unknown hole above her. She did, however, manage to grab her pizza on the way out. The non-reheated familiarity of cheese and sauce on refrigerated crust was a small comfort in the extreme unknowns surrounding her. In her mind, the place she'd been flung into looked like outer space, not that she'd ever seen it herself. Moreover, it was as if a giant, infinite web was spread out across the entire... wherever she was. As she fell - though in what direction she couldn't tell - Joanna could see many other sights. Things that simply did not - could not - exist in the world she knew. Worlds of brilliant vibrance, bursting at the seams with color and sound. Worlds of cold, unfeeling steel, where all was machinery. Worlds of stark nothingness, seemingly devoid of anything at all but dry, gray dirt. Worlds of... was that a pig in red spandex? Eventually, the visage of one of these worlds was moving straight toward her. Or rather, she was moving straight toward it. Joanna braced for impact, crashing through the image of the world, and landing... IN ANOTHER WORLD... ...face-first on the pavement. "Oww..." Upon getting up to her feet, Joanna quickly noticed she was outdoors. In a sudden panic, she reached into her bag, grabbing her gas mask... before realizing something very unusual. She'd been breathing before she got up. She was doing it right now. Not choking on a toxic miasma, but... breathing. Like, breathing air. Slowly putting the mask back where it was, she realized more and more about her surroundings. The open feeling that came with not having your visibility cut down by the miasma. The breeze that felt more like a gentle caress from the air, rather than a clammy hand wrapping its gross fingers around her. People just going about their daily lives, without a care in the world. Okay, that last one applied normally too, but the general vibe was completely different! They dressed similar enough, but sometimes, something about somebody's attire just felt slightly off from what Joanna would expect clothes to look like. Plus, a lot of the windows she saw were those old-style windows, like the ones in her apartment. Some were even wide open, letting the surprisingly clean air just go inside. Okay. Calm down, Joanna. Use your context clues. Clean air, blue sky, all that jazz... this must be Latveria. The more she thought about it, the more that made sense. It was famously the last "clean" place in the world, owing to benevolent dictator Victor von Doom's affinity for chemtech simply being on an entirely different league from even the combined forces of Alchemax and Oscorp. At Doom's level of genius, suddenly, some mystery hole that sucks people out of their apartments and drops them in Latveria seemed fairly plausible, if not downright possible. But something bugged her about that conclusion. Latveria's foreign policy. "Nobody gets in. Nobody gets out." Latveria's isolation was infamous for how strict it was, so unless Doom knew Joanna was Spider-Girl, she saw no reason she'd be randomly abducted to this place. And how would he know that? He probably didn't even know Spider-Girl existed. As Joanna turned a corner to try and get some answers from the locals, another thing stood out to very clearly tell her this wasn't Latveria. A towering bronze statue. Dedicated to a man named "Mike Haggar" and the revitalization of a place called Metro City. That certainly didn't sound like a Latverian city name, but more importantly, Mike Haggar was NOT Victor von Doom. While his nation was infamous for its refusal to interact with the outside world, Doom's ego was nothing short of legendary. From what little she knew about the guy, there was no way Doom would raise a memorial to commemorate anyone else, and if one were to be raised without his approval, it would surely be torn down before dinner. So this wasn't Latveria after all. Which begged the question. "Where the hell am I?" As Joanna tried to get her bearings to figure out what this mysterious Metro City place was, a rather average-looking white collar salaryman looked straight at her. And then began to approach her. Quickly. Joanna's spider sense was telling her that this very average salaryman who was approaching her at a full sprint was trouble, but she had been on edge in general ever since that hole opened up in her apartment, so it could have just as easily been general parano-- Suddenly, Joanna found herself instinctively swerving to the left, barely dodging a punch thrown by this guy. AVERAGE DAY IN METRO CITY Okay, this guy's got a lot of anger to let out, apparently. Should probably deal with him. It wasn't really in Joanna's usual agenda to beat up random office workers, but he did start it. And he was clearly out for a fight, hands up and everything. Joanna was willing to humor him, not as Spider-Girl, but plain old Joan Joanna Jameson. It was a good opportunity to dust off her high school boxing experience. Joanna put her own fists up, ready to defend herself. At first, she wasn't sure if this guy was fighting her or some invisible foe in the air, based on his repeated kicking of the space in front of him. Joanna chose to believe his target was her though, as despite his bizarre tactics, his eyes were fixed on her. In high school, she wasn't much of the "bob and weave" type, but being Spider-Girl, that sort of thing came naturally to her. And so, she bobbed and weaved around his attacks, getting into punching range. As she approached, however, her spider sense alerted her to something. But even it didn't seem to be sure what. Probably just nerves. Joanna threw her fist out, hitting the man square in the chest... and stopping in utter shock at he was completely unaffected. Instead of hitting him properly, what appeared to happen was he was somehow immune to her strike, and was now shooting up with a strike of his own, catching Joanna in a rising uppercut attack. At this distance, even with her agility, there was no time to dodge, and Joanna felt herself get knocked off the sidewalk, shot up and away from this extremely normal person, and landed harshly on the pavement once again. What... the hell... just happened? As Joanna got back up to her feet, something unusual happened. The man who had assaulted her threw - of all things - a ball of sand at her. Not only was this extremely underhanded, it wasn't a very effective method of attack. Joanna simply closed her eyes, and was suddenly very surprised as the ball of sand struck her with all the force of a human fist. Physically getting her bearings back from the strike didn't take long, but in the time it took to mentally recover was enough that by the time Joanna opened her eyes, the man was right in front of her again, about to strike her with the same uppercut. Unable to react in time, Joanna was once again shot upward, this time staying down a while longer. Uuugh... wherever I am, I clearly need to be more on guard. Joanna watched the man who had just beaten the shit out of her then went about his day as if nothing had ever happened. Even the crowds that had stopped to watch the one-sided fight simply continued their daily routines, completely unfazed by what they had just witnessed. Joanna didn't get back up until her assailant was out of sight, upon which time she took in her surroundings again, watching for violent maniacs this time. It was definitely a city. Aside from the statue that wasn't of Doom, the only place that really stood out to her was a Japanese restaurant a bit down the street. Cold pizza was tasty, but it wasn't terribly filling. Maybe a good meal would make her feel better. And so, Joanna made her way over there, keeping herself on high alert.
  5. 4 likes
    Alois was still particularly annoyed at the cacophony of birds that was around. He was never really a bird kind of person. He was never really any kind of animal person for that matter, and his hometown was hardly helping that. Add to that, the deluge of birds had taken him by surprise so he had briefly stopped paying attention to what could be wrong here. After all, he followed pretty quickly after the maid so she would have to be here, and he didn't realize that the door to this room was still closed fast enough to come to the conclusion that she still had to be here, even if he couldn't see her. As a result he was taken by surprise, again, by the sudden amount of force that was being thrown at him and knocking him to the ground. Hearing the maid above him, Alois couldn't help but let out a, "what?" He had heard of counting sheep but never chasing after them, so he wasn't sure if she was going to but him to sleep, kill him or turn him into some kind of ranch hand. Letting out a sigh, the boy had realized that the position he was in currently and definitely sucked. So he would have to remedy that. After a moment's pause the boy asked, "hey. Are you a bird kind of person?" Before the woman could answer Alois threw his head back, smashing his into hers and allowing him to push himself back up onto his hands and legs. Turning a bit the boy kicked at where he presumed her legs were only to find that she was nowhere to be found. Worried that she might've gone for another diving strike on him, the boy quickly scrambled to a standing upright position and tried to look out for the maid. As his eyes scanned the room, still filled with birds, his searching was cut short as the arm of the woman wrapped around his neck in a chokehold. Taken off guard yet again, Alois's body flailed a bit in panic at the sudden loss of air. As he was able to recognize what was happening, though, his frantic movements turned into more deliberate ones. Having the air choked out of him the boy couldn't make a witty retort, though his mind seemed to think it was a priority to think of one even in this situation, and so instead he just grabbed at her arm. Yanking with all of his strength, he wrenched the woman's arm off of his neck and tossed it down, trying to turn to face the woman while doing so. "Huh... You're stronger than you look." "Yeah and you're a whole lot less hospitable then you look." Tsetseg held onto Cora as the two of them galloped down town. As Cora explained what was likely going on, Tsetseg kept her own eyes and ears more aware, being still on the lookout for any sort of crime that might be being committed. As they continued to race down the streets, something came into view of Tsetseg's eyes. She wasn't able to make out who it was, since they were currently a bit too far away, but they could see someone on horseback. Pointing further down the road the girl exclaimed, "there! Bad guy that way! Way way down that way!" While Cora herself wasn't able to see the figure yet, it would be clear that based on the direction and distance they were traveling that they, and the figure, were heading towards the back gate of the town. After saying that, Tsetseg's ears perked up as she heard something else. A set of hoofbeats. Of course, they were on a horse already so hearing that was natural, and they were chasing after another horse so hearing a second set wasn't out of the ordinary either. But she was positive there was third, and that they were coming from a different direction entirely. "Oh! Oh! Oh! Other horse that way!" The girl pointed towards the intersection that she was sure they were about to meet up with this third horse, so as to warn Cora to not crash into it.
  6. 3 likes
    The most surprising thing about YCMaker embracing the AI art thing is that he was actually around long enough to implement an art theft button. Also hi everyone, I know I have been dead for like 2 years now
  7. 3 likes
    OP- 「REALiZE」- LiSA Okay, let's do once more, eh? My name is David Driver, and I am this world's first and original Spider-Rider. Yeah, you heard right, first. My world's different from those other Spider-Man worlds. Probably why that Miguel O'Hara refused to let me in his little gang. Anyways, over 30 years ago, the Evil Eight managed to take over the US Government from behind the scenes. Now we live in a world without choices. Sure, people think they're going to steer right or steer left, but they didn't make the roads. The big choices already got made for them a long time ago. Everything in the end was falling under the Evil Eight's plans. That's where I came in. Thanks to a suit created by two geniuses working with alien technology, I became the Spider-Rider, a fighter for peace and justice! A lot has happened in the twenty years that I have been Spider-Rider. I fought against evil, defeated the Octopus Corps, and I saved the city. Then I saved the city again. And again. And again. I fought so long I became a symbol of peace. And then, after many years, my successor came. The Scarlet-Rider. Finally, I could retire in peace. But life wasn't that simple. The Scarlet-Rider had his adventures, and yet I got called back into action. We saved the city again. And again. Then his successors came. The Ghost-Rider (Not to be confused with Ghost Rider, the hyphen is important) and the Stinger-Rider. Yet still, my battle seems endless. No matter how much I fight, no matter how hard I hit, evil keeps coming back. It keeps getting back up. Nobody said fighting for peace would be easy though. With all the strength I have, I will keep on fighting. Until the day that I am gone. The roar of an engine. The heavy footsteps of a mighty warrior. The streets of Neo York for once was not covered in traffic. Everyone knew not to do such a foolish thing. One of the heads of the Evil Eight, Aleksei Sytsevich the Rhino Ruler, challenged the symbol of peace, Spider-Rider, to a duel. Now the two were racing down a speedway, a high speed race with the highest stakes. The Rhino Ruler's footsteps pounded into the pavement, leaving potholes and cracks in the concrete. "I've been waiting for this for a long time!" The Rhino Ruler snarled as he charged ahead. His massive form blocked out the sun, casting the motorcycle he was chasing into a dark shadow. "Your constant meddling, your constant ruining of my plans!" Spider-Rider turned his head to look back at the mountain of a man. "You make plans?" He asked sincerely, despite the sarcasm laced in his voice. "AND YOUR CRAPPY INSULTS!" Rhino Ruler roared as he pushed himself to move faster, slowly catching up with the motorcycle. "This ends tonight, Spider-Rider!" "You're right, Rhino Ruler. At the end of this day, one shall stand, one shall fall!" Spider-Rider replied with passion. Without warning, the Spider-Rider swerved to the left and shot a webline out at a lamppost to his right nearby. He then slammed on his brakes, creating a line for Rhino Ruler to trip over. A simple trick, but one that worked in the past. With a roar, the Rhino Ruler took a leap into the sky, avoiding the trap entirely. "I ain't going to fall for that a second---" "Fifth!" "---Fifth time!" Rhino Ruler landed on the ground, the earth shaking and the concrete shattering from the impact. He then charged after the Spider-Cycle once more. "Hey, it was worth a shot!" Spider-Rider commented as he leaned down. Quickly and carefully, he fired another web, catching some traffic cones just like bugs. He yanked them up into his hand, inspecting them carefully. He had five shots... he could do this. With that in mind, he turned around and threw one at the Rhino Ruler's face. It slapped the Rhino Ruler right across the face, causing him to cry out in surprise. He wiped it away, only to receive another cone in his face for his worries. "Cut that out!" He roared as he wiped away the second cone. With a quick backhand, he swatted a third cone out of the air. Spider-Rider threw his fourth one, this one completely missing his opponent. Undeterred, he threw his final one. This final cone, this last beacon of hope, found its mark. The cone landed directly on Rhino Ruler's massive horn, covering up the tip of it. "Oh, I got the thing on the thing!" Spider-Rider cheered. "What do I win?!" Spider-Rider could see actual steam blowing out of Rhino Ruler's head as the evil leader's face turned a dark red. "YOU!!!" The villain roared with the anger of a storm. "I win me? ... That's a horrible prize. Can I trade it in for gas money?" Spider-Rider taunted. Turning around, Spider-Rider began to formulate his plan. Now that he got Rhino Ruler angry and tunnel visioned, all he needed to do was make it to the construction site. Then he could lure Rhino into a pit of cement, yadda yadda, same old same old. When was this going to end? When would he actually get that peace he was fighting for? Would it ever come? Spider-Rider was so lost in his thoughts, he didn't notice what was on the road ahead of him. A strange purple glow drew his mind back to reality. What could possibly be making that glow? Oh no. That was a portal. "No, no, no!" Spider-Rider went to hit his brakes, but realized if he stopped, he would just have Rhino Ruler ram his rear end. With no time to think, the Spider-Rider came to one conclusion. He put the pedal to the metal. With a shout of determination, the bike drove straight into the portal. The world around him changed from the city he was familiar with to a great void. It was almost like he was in space, but he knew for a fact space didn't have giant strains of webs connecting together entire dimensions. He held on tightly to his bike, not wanting to get separated from it. If the Spider-Cycle fell into a different dimension, he might actually go crazy trying to get it back. He looked behind him, seeing the Rhino Ruler flailing helplessly in the void. He was sure that the giant rhino man was shouting something, but the Spider-Rider couldn't hear him at all. That in and of itself was a miracle. A bright light suddenly shone, catching Spider-Rider's attention. Looking forward once again, he saw that they were about to collided with one of the many webs that made up the Spider-Verse. Gritting his teeth, Spider-Rider positioned himself for a landing. The two travelers exploded out of a portal in the sky. Below them laid what looked like a very modern city. It wasn't futuristic, it wasn't downtrodden... it was just a city one could find in any average, boring dimension. Looking over his shoulder again, Spider-Rider saw the Rhino Ruler drop like a stone, crashing into what looked like a junk yard of some sort. Meanwhile, the Spider-Cycle was smoothly gliding through the air. However, could see he was about to land on a rooftop. With little choice, Spider-Rider let his wheels spin, his engine roaring with power. The moment he landed on the roof, he fought to stabilize himself, making sure the Spider-Cycle didn't tip over from the impact of the landing. The Spider-Cycle stayed standing and drove off the edge of building. With a quick flick of his wrists, Spider-Rider shot out a webline, the web attaching to the building. With the grace of an acrobat, Spider-Rider managed to land the Spider-Cycle into the road. People all around him turned to look, seeing his amazing feat of strength and dexterity... Only to go back to their own business. It was like that wasn't even impressive to these people! To be fair, it was hardly impressive to him any more. He remembered the first time he pulled that off... now it was just routine to him. Shaking his head, Spider-Rider looked around to get his bearings. He seemed to be in something sort of Times Square equivalent. There were stands lined up offering all kinds of foods, several kinds of shops, and a bunch of civilians walking around without a care in the world. Of course, it obviously wasn't completely peacefully, as he could see people loitering around dark alleyways, looking for all sorts of trouble. The strange thing was, all these loiters were wearing what looked like a CRT TVs on their heads. That had to be some sort of gang thing. The Broadcasters, maybe? He definitely needed to think up of some TV based quips now. As his mind raced, he finally found a sign, one that proudly displayed the name of the city he landed in. Metro City. That was a weird name for Neo York, but he supposed it wasn't his place to judge. More importantly, he knew the Rhino Ruler came along with him. And now he had to find him in this unfamiliar city. "Well, hope you pick me up soon, Miguel." He muttered with a tired sigh as he revved his engine, driving his way deeper into the city. OP's notes
  8. 3 likes
    Penelope and Alois "Oh, go an' blow a flabby one, ye pinprick-pinteled wandought," the maid spat crudely. If looks could kill, she'd have speared him through already. Fortunately for Alois, he remained intact and whole. Unfortunately for him, the maid found her second wind shortly after. Fueled by frustration and anger, she used Alois's momentary lapse of attention to her advantage. The woman heaved the fighter off of her and regained her feet. "I ain't 'ave time fer ye two, so I'll jest be on me way. Ye gots yer answers, so leave me be, an' I'll do ye the same." The maid hared out the door, swerving around Penelope, the sudden motion causing a flurry of activity from the pigeons in the dovecote. It would be difficult to follow her through the hail of birds. Gunther, Citron, Raki, and Peaches Luckily for Peaches, with Citron leading the way, and Gunther, Raki, and the villagers helping, the operation went without a hitch. The arrow was out, and the biggest danger had passed. Despite the wyvern's body still being injured, sore, and weak, the sharp pain that had wracked her chest had lessened slightly. All that remained was to wait for recovery. The bandages would need to be changed out for fresh ones every so often, and the wound checked in case infection set in. But that was, at least, familiar territory for most of them. When Citron expressed her gratitude, Thile grinned. "Oh, t'was no problem a'all. Us Phar folks, we git things done." "Right glad I am t'see the wyvern's doin' all right. Wouldn't be right t'see one o'em go. T'would be a bad omen, 'em being so alike to—" Achos wiped his brow. "Aye," Pheodea spoke over him. "I'm sure it would. But for now, we should focus on cleaning up the area." The older woman turned to Raki. "I don't know how you got here, and I don't know what your purpose is, but anybody who would help a creature in need like that is somebody I'm willing to trust. If you do no harm to Phar, then no harm will come to you here neither." The weaver smiled momentarily at him before purposefully turning her back to the Isaurian and barking out orders to the other villagers. "Clean up the area. Any sharp pieces need to be cleaned up, sharpish. Make sure all the blood is gone, or it'll attract flies. Gather up all the cloths." When one of them gave her a sullen look, she shook her head. "Don't look at me! I'm just an old woman! You're lucky my old bones even made it over here." Link, Tsetseg, Cora, and Garinphasia Tsetseg's arrow struck true, and Gaston staggered with a cry like a wounded beast. "Oh, woe is me! Lackaday, for I have been besieged most aggressively by these foul ruffians." A mad glint came into his eyes then. "But ho, there is yet promise." He stumbled forward, angling toward his horse. Were Link or Cora to approach him, he would ignore both. Meanwhile, his horse, still galloping, veered to the side to avoid Garinphasia, running over her tail. Spittle flew from the horse's mouth as it turned, aiming away from the trees and toward open land. Where Gaston stood, arms outstretched, though one of them was bent at an odd angle. "You will cessate now! For your master! You are but a mere beast, and I, a hunter of beasts. I, Lord Pylauses Gaston, commendate you!" When it became apparent the horse would not stop, his brow furrowed, and with his good hand, he grabbed hold of the animal by the neck, forcing it to a stop in front of him. The man laughed wildly. "Yes! Yes! If you shall not acquiesce, then I must bring you to heel. Now, let us go!" Once more, he attempted to get back astride the horse.
  9. 3 likes
    “...You should all be able to approach as far as you need to help walk me through this,” Citron spoke, her voice catching in her throat as she knelt by the wyvern’s side. She knew Peaches; she could tell the Wyvern was in pain, and as much as the wyvern would do anything to protect her… As long as she acknowledged them, and didn’t seem worried - and as long as they remained unthreatening - they would be fine. “...But I think I’m the only one she’ll trust to actually do this,” she reaffirmed, doing her best to smile. “After all we wouldn’t want you squandering that good grace you’ve garnered with her, would we, Gunther?” she did her best to smile briefly as she nodded towards him. “...And you’re on thin ice enough with her as well, Raki; so you shouldn't push it,” she turned to nod towards him as well, before returning her attention to the Wyvern in front of her. Her hands were shaky as she knelt down, and began examining the arrow in more detail. Her own chest hurt in a sympathetic fashion, but she pushed the guilt aside as she cleared her throat, and raised the knife. “...Peaches,” she began, speaking softly. “...Grandpa must have done this for you at some point, alright? So I’m going to need you to trust me, when I say; this is going to hurt, but it will save your life. Do you hear me?” she’d ask, using her free hand to lightly pat the Wyvern’s scales. She waited then, for a moment, for a low rumble of ascent to escape the wyvern’s throat; it wasn’t that of a screech, but it was still an acknowledgement. So there was nothing to do, but begin. “...I’m counting on you all,” she’d murmur; using one hand to steady the Wyvern’s scales around the wound, while she held the knife as steadily as she could in the other; Peaches, for her part, staying as still as she could whilst still breathing. Citron listened then, as Raki described the process. Her hands shook, but she was… Careful; slowly tracing a steady line from the side of the bolt, enlarging the entry-wound slightly, and removing a couple of scales in the process. “...We need to enlarge the surface of the wound, slightly, so that we can try to pull the arrow out as safely as possible; for that, we also need to hold it open,” Citron parroted; in her own words as she spoke through each step, taking a small line of fishing-line and a hook from the supplies they had brought, and very carefully holding the hide away from the arrow. “This will allow us to get a better hold on the bolt, and also make sure nothing gets left behind.” As she did so, she carefully swapped from her free hand holding the bandages against the scales, to carefully remove the damaged scales; holding a bandage to the wyvern’s hide with the elbow of her bad-arm as she placed the knife down, and took a pair of sticks brought by the villagers in her good hand. “...Then, prepare the implements by disinfecting them, right? Does, er… Anyone have some honey?” she’d ask, glancing around. To her surprise, while no one did - someone was able to fetch some quickly enough; her heartbeat as an ever-present reminder in her mind that they didn’t have much time. But they were fast enough, and so she continued; taking the jar and carefully coating the two, straight sticks of wood. Her stomach shifted uncomfortably as she hesitated for a moment, before… Slowly, and carefully, inserting the sticks on opposite sides of the arrow, now a possibility due to the hide being pulled apart, and pinch them together against the shaft of the bolt. “And then, with a steady hand, we have to feel for the barbs with the implements, so that you can match the entry-wound,” she explained, trying her best to keep her lunch down as she felt a mixture of blood and wound press in around her fingers as she pressed the sticks further in, until they were interrupted as she felt the sticks pressed something hard; halting their progress. “...And then, you pinch them together, and… have to pull it out,” she swallowed uncomfortably, hesitating for a moment. Peaches, for her part, had been gentle; shaking in the way that any might should they be in pain, but… Never so much as screeching in Citron’s ear-- Even as she pulled the arrow free; sweat beading on her forehead as she took careful measure to match the entry-wound to the best of her capability. It was only as she threw the bolt, now free of its victim, to the ground; that Citron felt as if she could focus, or even hear, again. “...Then, comes dressing the wound!” she yelled; parroting their words, though by this point, she knew what she was doing. Her heartbeat thumped, loudly, in her chest as she balled the bandages up, pressing them as tightly as she could, and made to stuffing them into the wound; blood rising, and mixing with the honey she had already begun applying to the bandages as she stuffed the wound as well as she could with her good hand. it wasn't long until she had lost count of the number of bandages pressed within the wound, the experience of pressing them in until they were soaked with blood becoming an almost endless cycle, but... She found herself focused again whence she had finished that work, and could instead focus on applying vulneraries to the edge of the wound. The hooks were the last to be removed, as she began to bandage the surface of the wound, taking careful care to press the scales back together as well as she could, bandaging the lizard, until… Blood-soaked as her hands, both the good and the bad, were; she was… Done. All that was left was to… Hope it worked. Taking in a deep breath, Citron stood up as she did so, glancing around as she held her hands awkwardly in front of her, still-dripping with a mixture of blood and honey as she did so. “...I… Will have to change her bandages fairly regularly, for a while; and then once a day until it heals,” she’d explain, swallowing nervously, as she did her best to recall the off-handed first-aid she had learned back on the orchard. “But I think, we’re… Past the worst of it,” she explained, hope steady in her voice as she gave a slight bow to not only Raki, Gunther, and Erdick; but also the villagers. “Thank you, for your help, all of you,” she did her best to force a smile to her face as she spoke; even as she scrubbed idly at her bad hand with the good, as if doing so might remove the blood from both of them, rather than smear it further.
  10. 3 likes
    There's so much wrong with this post that I don't know where to start. So let's start from the top of the post! So, right out the gate, there's a problem with your proposal. A very serious one. Torm owns the website, and he lives in the UK. So if the website was to cease operations in the UK, its operations as a whole would not be far behind unless he passed ownership to Yemachu and just continued footing the bill himself or something? Seems like a lot of hoop-jumping over what will likely amount to nothing. Furthermore, you flat-out admit you haven't done your own reading and research (you're basing your post off information from YouTube, ffs), and I hate to sound like I'm gatekeeping, but one should never present an issue as prevalent as you're making this one sound without doing their own research first. This sort of thing is exactly how misinformation gets spread around. So I took the time to read the Online Safety Bill's exact wording myself. Neither you nor the YouTube video linked back to anything showing the actual papers, by the by, so I had to do that myself, too. For shame. I'm pretty sure I legally need to clarify at this point that I'm not a lawyer, I've never been to law school, etc, and I've also never set foot in the UK, so someone who meets at least one of those criteria would be a better authority on what all I'm about to say. Not to mention a lot of this referenced other laws/documents but didn't say what was actually written in those. Anyway, assuming I've read all this right, the act does exactly what's written on the tin: Looks over the web and tries to make it less harmful toward children and animals. A noble goal, but that assumes that's all they do with it. Now, being American myself, I live in a country where there's no shortage of laws that also look over the web and what everyone posts on it. That being the case, I can say with full confidence that unless you've been posting content that involves the abuse of children or animals and live in the UK, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. Your belief that this will have a profound impact on NCM is, however, frankly ridiculous. Not only do you need to be thirteen or older to register for this website, with most if not all of its userbase being fairly past twenty already, but NCM is such a small middle-of-nowhere site that's only tangentially related to Yu-Gi-Oh at this point, that anyone looking to make a move on/against this site would have to go out of their way to even know about it in the first place. You basically illustrated in great detail for us the amount of mental gymnastics you had to do to turn this particular molehill into the mountain you did. How, pray tell, would this internet equivalent of a middle-of-nowhere gas station town with exactly five buildings, come to the attention of the UK government, and why would they care if it did? Are you gonna tell them yourself? Have you been posting content that would get their attention? To summarize, your information sounds unreliable, the situation you've outlined is absurd, and your solution would mean shutting down the website as a whole since it's owned, run, and paid for by an Englishman (not Yemachu, who is a coder that does work on the cardmaker and possibly some behind-the-scenes stuff I don't know about). Now, I must again clarify at the end of my post that I'm not in the UK, and have only read the Online Safety Bill in a vacuum. If there's further context or information that I'm missing, I'm very open to that possibility, but based on what I've read both here and there, I could not disagree more with your entire proposal for so many reasons.
  11. 3 likes
    Belle walked down the path, step by step. Her feet, clad in orange Running Shoes now, pounded on the dirt road. How long had it been since she had trodden the ground outside like this? She couldn't remember. But she was in no state to dwell on it. Her mind whirled with plans of revenge. Her cousin was powerful, but overconfident. If Belle could get the drop on her, then she might have a chance. She would show Sabrina not to mess with her. If she could just get ahold of pink hair dye… But of course, she would have to get through the Korova region first. Which would be difficult. Each step caused Belle's stomach to lurch and her lungs to heave. If I had known I'd have to walk so much, I'd have tried to get in shape before this. Oh, who am I kidding? I would have just made plans to avoid this situation altogether. It was then that she realized something. The sound of twin footfalls, one energetic, the other feather-light, had disappeared. The girl looked up, only for her eyes to confirm what her ears had picked up for a while now. Belle closed her eyes. Opened them. No, everything was still the same. She was… "Alone," she muttered. Why was that? Did those two tire of her and run ahead? They must have decided that they didn't want her around anymore. She was slow, after all. Gloomy too. Really, it was no wonder nobody liked her. At this moment, Belle forgot her earlier complaint about being stuck with normies. Now she realized that there was something even worse than that. Solitude. Belle clenched her hands in her recently purchased shorts. No, she was being stupid. She was not unfamiliar with loneliness. Hadn't she been alone for most of her life? But this time, her parents weren't here. She didn't have the few friends she had made in Pokémon Unite either. She would even welcome her stuck-up cousin at this point. "Hello?" she called out. "Nate?" she paused, "Quinn? Are you there?" No answer. "H-Hey, I'm sorry I…" slowed you down, "No, whatever. Just come back." No answer. She hadn't known either of those two for very long. Just as long as they had been on that cruise. So why did she care if they left or not? She clenched her fists. "No. I don't care. I don't need them." She took a breath. "I'm fine." And then she looked up, locking eyes with a youngster around her age in the tall grass. Like a pointer dog, he straightened in place, and then bounded across the field. "I'm trying to find more Pokémon. Wait! You look weak! Come on, let's battle!" The blue-haired girl glared at him. "What are you talking about?" Despite herself, the pinched feeling in her chest melted away. "Huh? Don't you know the rules? You lock eyes, and you battle!" The boy bounced back to stand about ten yards away, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet. "Come on! Let's go!" "I—Fine. Yeah. Let's fight." The boy released a Rattata, pumping a fist. "Great! Let's go!" Belle took out her own Poké Ball and twisted the top. With a flash of light, a tiny cow with a grassy hide appeared. It turned to look at its trainer, giving a soft low. "How do I do this again?" the girl muttered to herself. "Whoa, cool Pokémon, but we won't let that stop us. Rattata, use Tackle!" "Oh right. It's like a turn-based role-playing game." Belle pointed at the cow. "You," she moved her hand to aim at the charging Rattata. "Use, uh…" She paused. "Crap. I don't know." The cow looked over its shoulder and gave a plaintive moo. In the next second, the Rattata reached its front, lowering its head and slamming into the grass type. The cow flailed its hooves helplessly and fell backward onto the dirt road. "Hey, why aren't you doing anything?" the youngster demanded. "You don't want to fight after all? Belle sighed. "That's not it. I just don't know which moves to use." The boy stared. "You're kidding, right?" He leaned over, holding his sides as he laughed. "What the heck, you're serious?! Okay, look," he pointed a finger. "That red thing sticking out of your backpack. Isn't that a Pokédex?" "This?" the blue-haired girl leaned her arm back to grab what he was talking about. "I think so. A sailor gave it to me when I got this Pokémon." The boy nodded. "Yeah, that's it. I've got one of my own." He dug into his shorts and retrieved a red gadget shaped like an old-fashioned handheld gaming device. "This is mine. Got it all the way from Johto. Yours looks like a Korova-style one. Anyway, point it at your Pokémon. You'll find out what its moves are that way." "Got it." Belle followed his directions. "Huh, it says…" ♂ Poamoo Grazing Pokémon Type: Grass Height: 2'6" Weight: 20 lbs A gentle Pokémon which takes grass in its mouth only to absorb the moisture and is careful to leave the grass unharmed. Name: Poamoo Lv. 5 Original Trainer: Belladonna Morgane ID No. 235536 Current Moves: Tackle, Tail Whip Ability: Overgrow This Pokémon is pretty Docile by nature. You first met one another on the SS Rising Sun. It's capable of taking hits! "Yeah, so whatever moves it lists, those are the moves it knows." The youngster nodded sagely. "You ready then?" "Huh." Belle studied the Pokédex for a second longer and then stashed it away in her pack. "Yeah." "All right, it's time to go! Rattata, use Quick Attack!" "Use Tackle, Poamoo." The cow attempted to move, but before he could, the Rattata had knocked him off his feet again. "Too slow! You have to do better than that. Rattata, use Quick Attack again!" "Huh, looks like Pokémon battles are tougher than I thought. Poamoo, turn around and use Tail Whip." "Moo," the cow lowed and slowly turned around, tail swishing in the air. When the Rattata arrived, it received a face full of bristles. "Now, use Tackle backward!" Belle shouted. In her excitement, she completely forgot her exhaustion. The cow dug his front hooves into the ground, lifting his haunches and slamming backward into his opponent. "What?! I've never seen a Tackle used that way before…" the youngster muttered. Belle smirked. "Guess I'm just full of surprises." "But that won't be enough to take us down. Rattata, use Hyper Fang!" "What?!" The rat nodded and raised its head, incisors glowing white over the Poamoo's behind. And then it bit down. "Moo-OO!" The cow let out a pained cry and collapsed on its side. "Yes!" Belle's opponent grinned and held up two fingers in a peace sign. "We win! Go Rattata! I knew you were top percentage." "I… lost," the blue-haired girl blinked. At that moment, all of her fatigue came flooding back. She yawned. "Oh well. Win some, lose some. Return—" "Hey, wait," the boy interrupted. "I'll patch up your Pokémon. Got some Revives on hand in case Rattata goes down during training. It's a bit of a walk back to New Point Landing, and you don't want to miss your friends, right?" He crouched down next to the Poamoo. "… Okay. And what are you talking about?" Belle approached the boy and collapsed on her butt beside him, leaning her head into her arms and yawning. The boy's Rattata nosed into her side, sniffing inquisitively. "Your friends. The ones you came with. They went off into the grass. One of them said something about exploring, and the other got ambushed by a Rattata and then walked into the grass. You didn't know?" He took out a small diamond-shaped medicine that he placed into the Poamoo's mouth. "… No. I did not," the girl grumbled, waving off the rat. Nate and Quinn didn't leave after all. They just went to catch Pokémon. I should've known. Guess I just lost my head back there. Good thing they weren't around for that, or that would have been really embarrassing. She breathed a sigh of relief. Not that I'm happy to have those normies around. I'm just glad that I didn't make a fool of myself. That's all. The boy massaged the cow's throat, causing him to swallow. "That makes sense. I was wondering why you were calling out like that earlier. Turns out you had your head in the clouds!" He laughed, but continued before she could say anything. "Well, you weren't too bad for a cloudy Swablu. You surprised me once you actually started battling." "Really? Huh," In her distraction, Belle did not guard her pocket, and the Rattata scooted forward and bit off a chunk of granola bar. The Poamoo twitched and rose to its hooves weakly. "Yeah, you'll do okay." the boy spritzed a Potion and rubbed it into the cow's coat before climbing back on his feet as well. "Look. Good as new. Hey," he turned to Belle and held out a hand. "My name's Joey. What's yours?" Belle did not take the hand, placing her own hands over her pocket defensively. "Belle. And get your rat off of me!" Joey laughed. "Sure, sure. Rattata, come on." He whistled. The rat turned to Joey, munching on granola happily. "Return!" The Rattata never lost its smug look, even as it glowed red and returned to its Poké Ball. "Hey, do you have a Pokégear? If you do, let's exchange phone numbers." With the rodent menace gone, the girl relaxed. "Nope." "Too bad," the boy sighed. "Well, maybe I'll see you around. I'm training here in the Korova region, too." "Maybe," Belle said. Then, when the other turned to leave, she cleared her throat. "Hey. For earlier. Uh, thanks," she mumbled out the last word awkwardly. "No problem! That was a great battle." With a wave, Joey ran back into the tall grass. Belle fell onto her back on the dirt road. "What a weirdo." Her mouth twitched into a smile. "He didn't take my money, either. Guess he really did just want to battle." She flopped onto her side, facing her Pokémon. "Hey, you. Go stand right there," she gestured weakly. With a low moo, the cow obliged, blocking the sun from hitting his trainer's face. "Thanks'a bunch," the girl's words slurred from exhaustion. "Should name y'something too. Maybe Moo. You sure moo a lot." "Moo." "Yeah. Like that." "Moo." "Exactly." Belle closed her eyes. "Wake me up… when… s'time to go home." OOC: This time, I didn't post a couple hundred words while low on sleep. Woo! Go me.
  12. 3 likes
    Clobber was acting weird, which was in-character for him, sure, but that didn’t make it any less stare-worthy, the way he shuffled around and turned away like he was embarrassed to do a perfectly normal task. He had some weird jab about fruit farming that Z. didn’t quite follow -- even if they had been a farmer, what would be the problem with that? -- but maybe that was his plan to get Z. to move on to something more interesting. It didn’t work, or rather, it did work in that Z. moved on, but not for that reason. No, even before Ears the Noibat lunged forward at the broken coconut, Z. was already cringing and moving away. It was the shrill scream she’d let out that did it. It was basically a dog whistle, and not the online kind Z. could seize upon and call out, so they could only be miserable about it the usual way. They dropped their coconut piece and said, “Hey, warn people maybe next time you want to do that, huh? I was just getting used to having voices in my head that aren’t mine, don’t gotta exacerbate the headache by throwing in a tornado siren.” Thankfully, other people were breaking away from Jirachi at this point, leaving more people to go bother instead. Hector first went over to the river to look at himself more than he already could with six sets of eyes lying about, then to get a drink of water, before finally coming over to offer to do something with the coconut water instead, but it was the wrong thing. Like, it hit an off-key note in Z.’s brain even if they couldn’t place the whole tune, just component parts. It wasn’t like they weren’t going to call Hector out on it, though, even with the little information they could scrounge up. “Yeah? You got an emulsifier on you? Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” Maybe they had mentioned cooking on the forum, then. Well, they remembered that information, at least, so a cooking topic seemed most likely. If there was a cooking topic, Z. felt like Hector would have been on it, so they refrained from further calling Hector a cooking poser. Instead, they said, “If you want to cook something, we’ll need a fire, and maybe an oven if we can find some stone or clay or something. Walk with me and help me carry the stuff for that.” Hector turned to face Z. when they spoke. It took a moment for the troop to rotate for all of them to be facing the right direction, but when they all had, six sets of eyes settled on them. “I didn’t promise to make chicken curry. I just said that I could,” he said through the Brass. All six of the little orbs swelled up when Z. suggested gathering the supplies. “I would love to help gather the stuff to build an oven. It would be great to cook for everyone,” he said. Then he paused and glanced toward Jirachi. “Probably shouldn't be running off yet though. He sent me a weird… mind… message thing while he was answering questions. Think he wants us all to gather up before he tells us something important.” Again with the mind stuff. But Z. couldn’t help but look quizzical, tilting their head to the side as Hector explained his reluctance. “He literally said we have half a day though? And yeah, building an oven's hard but we don't need to finish it until after we get back. If it’s so important, he can tell us whenever he wants.” They flexed their front paws. “If there's one thing these things are good for, I bet it’s digging pits.” One of the troopers turned back to stare at the mist approaching the shore. “Well, he said the Mist would be here in half a day. But I thought there was more he wanted to tell us before that, right?” Hector said through the Brass, who was still staring at Z. “I figured it was a quick break to grab a drink and a bite to eat before we got down to business.” Z. felt their eyes nearly bulge out of their skull. Leave it to a moderator to make up their own personal rules and try and get everyone else to follow them. It was enough to get them to slip up a little bit and reveal some ulterior motives. “Then help me carry food for most of these people then,” Z. snapped. “God, do you want me to give you a proper ‘you’re welcome’ or not?” Hector laughed. It tinny noise that rippled from trooper to trooper and caused their heads to bobble out of sync. It was almost bad, like, Ears’ ear noise, if it weren’t also on the softer end. “Sorry, sorry. You're right,” he said (reiterating what Z. already knew). “I’m sure he can wait a few minutes while we grab some things. We deserve the break.” The troop formed into a single file line with the Brass at the front. “Lead the way, Captain.” “God,” Z. said again, again containing themself first at the laughter at their expense and then the absolutely comical conga line performance this was becoming. The “Captain” thing didn't help much. Stifling it all still meant it came out as a light cough, though. “Okay.” They went further inland a little ways, just going upstream. Despite the outburst, the “You’re welcome” was not entirely forthcoming. Every so often, they would point out a fruit tree that could be interesting, some of them even fruits unrecognizable to both of them, and both Z. and Hector would shake and/or physically attack the tree to get at its precious bounty. Hector handled most of the carrying, what with technically being six Hectors and all, but Z. did nestle some of the smaller fruit into their fur similar to how they had the Oran Berry back in the Mystery Dungeon. Eventually, though… “You’re welcome,” Z. said. “I didn’t do it for you specifically, so you didn’t even need to thank me, but you’re welcome. I also didn’t thank you for correcting that actual child about me, so there you go, you get one of those for free too.” They stopped in their tracks, looking at the latest flora discovery directly in front of them. “Oh, you've got to be fucking kidding me,” they said. “It’s a date palm.” Hector did what looked like a shrug but the gesture was not very clear when all six members of the troop were ladened with fruit and supplies. “Thanks anyways. I appreciate it. And don’t sweat it about Cross, I think he just didn’t understand. Patience goes a long way in my experience,” he said. The troop stopped marching when Z. did, managing to stop before walking into them this time. “Oh, man,” Hector said, the troop shaking with laughter again. It was a much deeper belly sort of laugh this time. “Lucky day for Clobber, huh?” he managed after a moment. “We got him a date.” Z. didn't fight the laugh this time. It was practically a cackle. “He’s a little dingus, isn’t he? One thing I’ll give him is he has the decency to chew with his mouth closed, but imagine being embarrassed to eat in front of people. Any idea who he's supposed to be in real life?” “Not really,” Hector said, quieting down a little bit. “You probably noticed but I wasn’t exactly active the last few years. Might not want us to know considering he hasn't mentioned his username at all.” “Mm,” Z. said, nodding. “I guess. I can think of some really embarrassing people for him to be, and I will absolutely give him shit for it if it turns out he was indeed as much a goober then as he is now. But Ears has been like that too, and she seems cooler than that.” Hector walked over and used his shield-hand to scoop a date up and toss it up onto the shield of one of the troopers. “Plenty of people are cool now that weren’t fifteen years ago,” he said. “I was a pretty cringy twelve-year-old when I first joined, but I like to think I’m an alright twenty-seven-year-old.” Z. laughed again, but didn’t correct him. “That’s true,” they said. “I have some baggage myself, don’t I? And that's even ignoring what Zeta Channel eventually became. Naw, my problem is it’s a cringy thing to do now. I don't know. I don’t want to say it’s a matter of trust or anything stupid like that because you don't need to know someone’s entire life story to know they have your back, and I certainly have bigger trust issues right now, but it still feels like they're withholding something, and that’s not not meaningful, you know? We’ll see.” Hector tried to shrug again. “I get that. I don't mind so much, mostly because I don't think any of the real weirdos from the site got plucked up, but it would be nice to know who they are.” “Oh, that’s true,” Z. said. “The real weirdos. God, could you imagine? I think I would strangle Summer if I saw him in real life.” They tried to get a few more dates but found themself running out of available space. They looked at Hector going around scooping things up with his shields. “Actually, hold still,” they said. Hector did so, and Z. made a quick loop around the six Falinks, checking and double-checking each of them in turn. “Now just, like, walk? Move around a bit?” After that was done too, Z. un-nestled their fruit, concentrated as hard as they could on what they had just seen, and threw themselves into the air in a sick backflip. What came back down was a pretty decent copy of Hector, all things considered. The troopers weren’t going to move from their spot behind the brass, Z. knew that even before trying it, but still. “There,” they said, scooping up the fruit again. “Now it at least looks like I’m carrying more than I am. Should be enough to head back now, huh?” Hector shook one of his heads. “You’re getting the hang of that whole copycat thing pretty fast,” he said. “I’m only just now starting to get the hang of this whole six-in-one thing I've got going on.” He hefted the weight he was carrying, hoisted as they were atop his shields like little platters. “Should be good to go. Think we've got a pretty decent haul.” “Cool,” Z. said. “And hey, at least you get to practice just by, you know, being. And I’ve still got a long way to go too. But I’m not going to stop until I get there. Imperfection I can fix like that is just not something I can abide by.” One final laugh. “I guess if you can’t sort yourself out alone, I’ll be there to make sure you do. For now, let’s go back.”
  13. 3 likes
    Hector's eyes met Jirachi's, and it felt like looking into the dizzying expanse of space. The legendary said nothing, but the Falinks heard a voice going, "not yet," inside his head. It was the sort of voice that is not actually a voice at all, but a feeling hatched in the head. A thought not quite put into words. So when the psychic type answered Es instead, it was with none of the usual awkwardness that comes with being ignored. Instead, it was as if Hector were back home waiting his turn in line at the gas station. "By special, do you mean, uh, special attackers? Or do you mean Special special? I can't say for sure on the first, but for the second, no, they're normal Pokémon like you and me. Except none of us are really normal, huh?" The mythical thought for a moment. "Since I'm a genius, and you all are actually human beings (or so my intuition tells me). So you could say they're more normal than any of us! ♪" He waved his arms in emphasis. Jirachi then turned to Chester. "Well, I actually cleansed that place earlier, and the Pokémon there were all normal mystery dungeon Pokémon. So maybe you're immune, but maybe you aren't. I wouldn't risk it, myself. But speaking of cleansing, that's what happened! I wished to restore the world back to the way it used to be. But I'm too weak." He smiled with a touch of self-deprecation. "My power could only cleanse this small island and the edges of the mainland where you originally arrived. It took a lot out of me, too. If I use too much of my powers, I fall asleep, just like what happened while you all were in the mystery dungeon." He giggled with some embarrassment before addressing Marv. "But I'm a lot better than I used to be. It's true that in the past I only stayed awake for one week every thousand years, but stuff happened, and I've gotten better at that. Even after using all my wishes, I can stay up for a looong time now." Jirachi floated higher into the air until he rose above the trees. When he spoke next, it was in their heads. "On the subject of time, there isn't a lot left. My power originally covered a wider expanse. But every second, the Endless Mist gains ground, and now only this island is protected. If you look out at the sea, you can see it approaching even now." He pointed with a pale arm toward the shoreline. — The three at the edge of the island found that the coconut pieces were rich and filling, but not as crunchy or sweet as they remembered. After all, most processed coconut from our world is grated, toasted, and mixed with sugar. And, contrary to popular belief, coconuts do not contain milk inside, only water. But this being a mature coconut, there was very little of that either. Still, it had a nutty and refreshing flavor. More coconuts hung from the surrounding trees—young green ones and mature brown ones. And the island had more than just coconuts. Bushes and trees laden with ripe fruit and berries suffused the green inland areas with a fragrant perfume. But the wind blowing off the ocean waves carried a distinct aroma. If you have seen the sea before, you would recognize it immediately. But if you have not, then imagine a heady cocktail of greenery, salt, and tangy sulfur, all with a fishy overtone. Separate, they are ordinary, but together they produce a briny scent that is unforgettable. The sea itself I won't describe, having already gone over that earlier. What was important was the edge of the sea. The boundary where the ripples and waves blended into one thin line meeting the sky. There, a grayish smudge stained the horizon, as if an amateur had taken a dirty eraser to a sketch and made it worse off for it. If any of the three glanced at the blemish more than once, they would find that each time, it grew bigger than before. But it was so gradual that it was hard to tell, and it looked as if their eyes were playing tricks on them. — Jirachi fluttered back down to the ground. "The Mist won't be here for a while, at least. By my calculations, it'll be… about half a day. Enough time to rest and grab food. Some of you have found out already, but this island is full of goodies! And the stream over there has a lot of cool, clean water, too." The Pokémon twirled in the air. "There's more I want to say, and I haven't answered all the questions either, but I want you all together for that, so I'll hold off for now. Let's meet up back here when you're ready! ♪" He paused, voice growing serious again. "And... for those of you who have decided to help... Thank you. I mean it." After that, Jirachi would grab an apple and eat it while waiting for the others to finish, cheeks bulging like a Morpeko's. OOC: All right! Got a lot of questions answered, and now you all have time to do whatever on this island for a bit before we get back to plot stuff. Let me know if you need information for your posts. Your characters are free to bum around, get a drink, grab food, whatever. I won't worry about "rounds" so much for this part, so feel free to post multiple times (or not) depending on what your character is doing. I might not post at all during this part since Jirachi will just be chilling in one spot for the most part. Exceptions are if you need me to write out a short post with description or if your character chooses to interact with Jirachi. Also tried out a new style of writing for this post. I'm thinking I might do more like it for this RP, specifically, since it seems to fit the genre. Let me know if it's jarring in any way, though.
  14. 3 likes
    Penelope and Alois At the end of the hall, there stood a door much like the other doors in the house—sturdy elm of a paler hue than the stout oak so often used for doors in Galtea. Here at least was something very Histian in a house decorated in the style of Penelope's home country. Through the door, the girl would hear the flapping of wings and the cry of birds. Were she to open it, the sight that greeted her, while certainly exciting, was not at all surprising for the tactician. With the feathers swirling in the air, it almost looked like a scene from a play. Alois and a familiar brunette woman faced each other on opposite sides of the room, chests heaving for breath. Both bore reddened marks on their body, the fighter on his neck and the woman on her forehead. Penelope would recognize the other as Dille, the maid from before. She appeared to have transformed into an entirely different person. In the kitchen, she had stared at the floor, shoes tucked underneath the apron on her maid's dress, and her hair wrapped in a prim net. Now she leaned forward with both legs wide apart in an upside-down U shape, apron and dress tied up with the hairnet on one side for ease of movement. Dille glanced at Penelope. "Tsk, another uninvited guest. It's obvious y'all ain't ne'er learned yer manners, barging into m'lord's house like this." The maid rushed toward the tactician like a wildcat. "But I'll escort ye out!" Gunther, Edrick, Citron, and Raki When Gunther arrived at the stable, he saw no horses, but a familiar wyvern on the ground, Edrick, Citron, and Raki surrounding her. An arrow stuck out of her chest. Most people would realize the seriousness of the situation right away. If not because of the blood seeping from the wound, then at least from everything else. Peaches lay still with closed eyes. Citron shook her head, teardrops flying from her face. Raki held a knife in his hand, explaining something in a low voice. Edrick, who appeared significantly more disoriented and scuffed up than Gunther had seen him last, held up multiple knives of his own. Things were looking grim. At this moment, multiple villagers leaned out of their windows or opened their doors, alerted by the noise. One of them, Thile, the woman whose stall Citron had repaired earlier that day, gasped in fright. "Shit. Tha' winged lizard looks bad. I'm gonna grab some bandages. Be right back!" She hopped back down the road toward her house. Her actions broke the others back from their daze. A fat shopkeeper with long curly hair and clothes covered in rooster feathers brought several vulneraries and a couple of concoctions. "I don't know if this'll help, but here," he held them out to the group. "I run a shop selling medicines like this. That wyvern… it looks scary, but it's an animal all the same." He fidgeted. "I was an animal recently myself, so I'd like to help." "Same here," Thile muttered, arms laden with bandages. "An', er, ye helped me repair mah stall, so's this is just makin' things square, is all." Achos, the bulky lumberjack that had assisted with the rebuilding, stared at the arrow. "Aye, ah'm sure I 'cognize tha' arrer too. It's from that bastard, Gaston," he growled. "I knew 'twas bad all along. Let us know if'n ye need help wiv anythin'. I can do any heavy liftin'." He flexed his muscles. The other villagers murmured their agreement, rolling up their sleeves with expressions of determination. Link, Tsetseg, Cora, and Garinphasia Ahead of Link, the road split into a T-intersection. Gaston had gone left, but from the right came the clip-clop of hoofbeats. The horse heard them, too, pricking his ears and veering left to avoid crashing into them. Soon enough, the mercenary would see three cavaliers, two of them he recognized—Cora and Acantha. Cora carried a familiar-looking archer with her. The two-toned girl pointed at the intersection with excitement, keeping her balance even with one hand. For Tsetseg and Cora, they could see a side road approaching, and from it emerged a magnificent-looking silver bay destrier. Atop it rode a familiar figure in green, looking far more comfortable atop a horse than he had on two feet. His face was wild and a fierce light shone in his eyes, much like the warriors of Locris when the wrath of battle was upon them. With Tsetseg's warning and the horse's hearing, the group avoided an accident, now racing alongside each other. It became apparent that Link would outstrip the rest in no time. While the militia had fine horses compared to most villagers, they had still repurposed them from farm horses. They were not pedigreed equines bred for riding into battle like the one Link took from Gaston. "Didn't take you for a horseman. So you finally decided to join the party, huh? Took you long enough," Acantha quipped, returning to her formal speech from before. Behind her, Phai bit her lip, directing her horse to the right to avoid drawing near to the ferocious-looking mercenary. The group, with Link at the front, arrived at Phar's back gate. Gaston had already gone through, plowing through the fields and stirring up the sheep in his haste. The nobleman's destination was clear: the forest at the edge of the village. The forest that many had already gone through: Licorice, Gunther, Sienna, Tsetseg, Phai, Raki, and Timmy. There, Garinphasia rested, awaiting orders from Raki. The wyvern would hear hoofbeats, and see a large man on horseback carrying a bow in one hand headed straight for her. Behind him, he had strapped a large sack to the back of the horse. The man hadn't noticed Garinphasia yet, but he would soon enough if he continued.
  15. 3 likes
    Hanging from the bent antenna with one hand, a figure silhouetted by the setting sun looked down upon Old New York City. The building was once known as the Empire State Building, but the city was now the center of an entirely different, not to mention more sinister, empire. Politicians and penny-pinchers all replaced with cold, unfeeling steel. And at the top of it all, the Uru Overlord himself, Ultron. The silhouette scoffed. Today was gonna be a bad day for the Big Bithead. Releasing his grip, the figure fell down into the shadows between buildings. Goblin on the Streets Spider-Goblin plummeted through the air, breathing in the city. His eyes were closed, but he could feel the city around him, he knew it by heart. The Building Formerly Known as Avengers Tower was less than two miles away, but Oren knew that the surface would be crawling with drones. As much as he’d like to just swing down 5th Avenue, it wasn’t an option. Oren had almost reached the ground when he felt the ZAP on his left - “Cyber-sense is buzzing…” Extending an arm outward, two tethers fired from the knuckles on his glove, embedding themselves in a long-since stripped flagpole. The tethers released almost instantaneously, reeling themselves back into Spider-Goblin’s glove, but the touch and go contact was just enough to alter his downward trajectory. Just in time to avoid the sight of a quadcopter, as Oren disappeared behind the long since deactivated body of a Sentry robot that was slumped against a building. Spider-Goblin didn’t touch the ground as he used his tether-shooter to swing down through an entrance into the subway. Oren hated the subway, but it was the best way to get through town. While he could probably sneak past the drones by carefully crawling, Mason was very clear that the “gizmo” had to be at the drop site in time for pickup. And time was something Oren didn’t have. Reaching into his bag, Oren pulled out a folded metal contraption, tossing it out in front of him. Rather than hit the ground, it hovered in place, making use of a repulsor array on its underside. With a hop, Spider-Goblin mounted the glider, and began rocketing off through the tunnel. Fortunately, much of the original wiring still lined the tunnels, and enough of these wires were live that Oren’s cyber-sense could guide him once he had gone far enough that his vision gave out. The lenses of his mask were equipped with night vision, but the infrared light involved would be just as visible to Ultron’s drones as it would be to him. No worries Osborn, you’re not a kid anymore. You got over your fear of the dark weeks ago. Navigating in the pitch black, Oren traced the city streets in his head until he could feel it. He was underneath The Building Formerly Known as Avengers Tower. Even after the metalhead put that huge “U” on it, the rebrand never really stuck. Opening his bag, his spider glider folded itself up once again and returned to its designated place, as Oren righted himself to stand upside-down from the ceiling. He could feel just how tightly packed all the tech above was. This was Ultron’s treasure trove, full of the most valuable and advanced devices he has acquired in his conquest of Earth. Fitting to be keeping it in the center of what was once his enemy’s headquarters. Fitting, and stupid. Arrogant son of a glitch would have smelted it all away if he knew what was good for him. Oren could take what he wanted, use it to upgrade his suit and glider. But he couldn’t afford that kind of risk. The tinkerer back in the encampment needed that goober, and Spider-Goblin was the only one who could retrieve it. “Let’s go. In and out. 20 seconds heist.” Tossing another item, a steel ball, from his pack up onto the ceiling, it stuck in place, glowing bright blue through seams within. After a few seconds, it rolled around in a circle about a meter wide, and with a crackling light it cut through the ceiling, and floor above, allowing it to drop through to the ground of the subway tunnel as a neat disc, the only hint at Spider-Goblin’s infiltration being a wince-inducing crash of concrete against steel rails. Regardless of his nervousness, Oren knew he didn’t have much time to work with, and hopped up through his spider-hole into the vault. It was full of gadgets and weapons Oren had only heard rumors about, ranging from an ancient-looking hammer with a severed, orange skinned hand still clinging to it, to a dozen or so intact Iron Man suits of armor. Despite all these wonders, Oren was sent here to retrieve a small box, perhaps the size one would expect to keep jewelry in. His cyber-sense made the circuitry within easy enough to detect, and he found his quarry placed nicely upon a small pedestal. He stepped gingerly toward the box, making sure not to trip any pressure sensors in the floor. After a deep breath, Oren picked up the goober, and stood still, fully expecting some form of unseen alarm to be tripped. After a five-second eternity, Oren shrugged, turning around and taking a step back toward his escape tunnel. With luck befitting Peter Parker himself, it was then that the alarm went off, a siren that Oren could tell was audible even as far as outside. “Shock.” Spider in the Sheets “SPIDERRRRRRRRR” With his cyber-sense practically overloaded in this room so packed full of tech, Spider-Goblin’s regular old spider-sense momentarily failed him. Crashing through an adjacent wall came the hulking form of Rhino, colliding with Oren and sending him straight through a wall, directly out into Columbus Circle, gaudy central statue of Ultron and all. “Aren’t I shocking lucky? I get to prance around with Ultron’s pet unicorn!” Scrambling to his feet, Spider-Goblin pulled a small metal device from his pack and threw it at Rhino. The device separated into eight pieces in mid-air, all connected by wire to form a web-like net. As it blanketed over Rhino, a powerful electric pulse surged through it, visible arcing against the villain’s armor. Of course, such a tool only served to tickle Rhino, as he tore it off with a laugh. “Foolish Spider, I am no unicorn! I am the RHINO!” Once again, he charged toward Oren, this time pointing his horn forward with intent to skewer the hero. “Yeah, yeah, I know Aleksei. Guess the enhancements from your boss didn’t include boosted brainpower?” As Oren desperately clutched the goober in his left arm, he pointed his right fist toward the rubble left behind from his dramatic exit. All four tethers fired out, latching onto a gauntlet from one of the suits of Iron Man armor that had been knocked apart in the tussle. Retracting it, the gauntlet fit right above his glove. Alright, Osborn. Spider power plus repulsor power, hope that’s enough… Sliding low beneath Rhino’s fast-approaching horn, Spider-Goblin sprung up from the ground, and using the rear-facing repulsors in the gauntlet for extra force, threw an uppercut haymaker right at Rhino’s jaw. “Here, maybe this will knock some sense into you!” The punch landed solidly, and even with the Rhino’s adamantium-infused skeleton it was enough to ring true and knock him out for the count, as the lumbering brute stumbled backward and collapsed. Oren stood up, passing the goober to his fancy new armored hand, and began to dust himself off, “One of these days I’m going to be lucky enough to be able to run an evening errand without having to risk life and liZARD!!!” Spider-Goblin dropped back and performed a backward somersault, as the jagged form of what was once Dr Curtis Connors dove over him. Kicking up with both feet, he launched the Lizard into the unconscious Russian cyborg nearby, but had to do a double-take as Lizard scrambled back to his feet and immediately flickered out of visibility. “Invisibility? Wasn’t the whole chameleon thing someone else’s gimmick, Dr. Connors?” Before Oren could use his cyber-sense to track down the hiding reptilian villain, he felt the typical buzz that meant danger was incoming. Hopping up to his feet, Oren was greeted with a stream of acid that burned an inch-deep hole in the concrete where he lay a split second ago. “Hey, Mac. Cheese not able to make it tonight?” Seemingly unwilling to engage with the hero’s attempt at humor, Scorpion jumped down from his perch above, charging toward Oren. Scorpion’s first attack was with his tail, naturally, but Oren tossed the goober up into the air and deflected the blow with the palm of his unarmored hand. Scorpion took a wild enraged swing at Spider-Goblin with his enlarged claw, which Oren ducked under. “Hey Scorpion, wanna see a cool party trick?” “Eh??” Spider-Goblin placed his armored palm against Scorpion’s chest. “Boop.” Activating the repulsor, Oren launched Scorpion back and into the statue of Ultron, satisfyingly managing to knock it down. “On second thought, hold the cheese. Looks like you’re plenty grilled already.” Taking a half-step backward, Oren pulled a pumpkin bomb out of his pack as the Lizard’s elongated tongue zipped past him, before sticking the explosive onto its tip on the way back, “Your entree, doctor,” Spider-Goblin made a showy bow as the tongue retracted from whence it came, catching the falling goober in his hand. He paid no mind to the following explosion. The Lizard was probably fine, Ultron liked fixing his dolls whenever they ended up breaking. Oren hardly had a chance to catch his breath before a multitude of caped fishbowl-wearing lunatics flickered into existence around him. While holograms wouldn’t normally be a concern for Spider-Goblin, Shi’ar hard light technology made them considerably more threatening. One Mysterio to Rule Them All floated above them about fifty feet up. “Bow before the wonder of my MYSTIC DUPLICATION!” Oren raised an eyebrow so hard that it managed to be visible through body language alone, “Come the shock on man, you know you’re not magic, I know you’re not magic, you know I know you’re not magic.” With a wince, Oren’s own body flickered slightly as a second one of himself stepped from the position of the first. “Tell you what, how about we match that with a bit of quantum duplication!” The duplicate cupped both of his hands, as the Oren who carried the goober hopped up, locking his heel within his own superpositioned palms. With a single concerted effort of jumping and throwing, Oren launched himself up into the air. “Show’s over Mysterio,” performing a mid-air frontflip, Oren brought his heal down onto Mysterio’s domed head with a heavy axe kick. “time for you to bow out!” Before Oren could reacquire his bearing and attempt to swing away, he was plucked out of the sky by a man in an enormous flight rig. Vulture’s mechanical claws held Oren tightly as the pair ascended through the air, up above the city skyline into open air. “Thanks for picking me up, Toomes, I’m headed over to Midtown. You can just let me off once we get in the neighborhood, I don’t want the meter to run too long.” The old man in the bird costume responded with nothing but a metallic snarl, when Oren felt his spider-sense clawing at the back of his mind, the screech of what could be a lethal blow. Wrenching his unarmored hand free from the Vulture’s claw, he fired his tethers into the far end of the left wing, yanking it inward just in time to block a large steel bolt fired from the arm of Kraven, who was posted upon a rooftop below. Oren could see Kraven beginning to reload for another shot, but the first bolt struck a vital part of Vulture’s flight harness, resulting in the pair entering what was quickly becoming a death spiral. Oren could see the drop point for the goober in the distance - the antenna from which he scouted out this heist - but he knew he couldn’t afford to make any mistakes. Kicking off with both legs, Spider-Goblin pushed his way out of the Vulture’s remaining claw, suddenly finding himself in freefall with nothing to swing from. Pulling out his spider-glider, he tossed it below him, allowing it to unfold as his feet latched into place. With one last profane gesture back at Kraven and the Vulture, Spider-Goblin rocketed off toward the drop point. It was at that moment that some kind of weird thing happened. It would be fair to say that weird things happened to Spider-Goblin a lot, but this was real weird. An enormous bubbling black hole appeared in the sky above Old New York City right in front of Oren’s flight path. Even though he veered away, he could feel it sucking him in. Oren could see the drop point, with the tinker-built drone ready to receive the goober, but the longer he revved the engine on his glider, the further he slid back into that black hole. “Sorry Mason, looks like you’re gonna have to figure out the rest without your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Goblin.” Removing the red and gold gauntlet from his right hand, he placed the goober within it grip, set the repulsors to max thrust, and released it toward the drop point. Cutting the power to his glider, Oren Osborn was pulled… INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE When Nate Richards explained the idea of the Chronal Abductor to Oren, he had a retrospectively fitting model he used to describe the intricacies of a time stream. As events occur, as chaos theory does its thing and produces unexpected results, branching paths are created. Things become more complicated when it is considered that in some realities, time itself is different. While it may be 2014 in one world, it could be 2099 in another, and yet both worlds coexist. The connective tissue of the multiverse goes in every direction, sticking together anything that has, is, or could happen in an extraordinary Web of Life and Destiny. And now Oren found himself plummeting through this web, at alarming speed. He attempted to use the repulsor engine of his glider to course correct, but whatever had pulled him in seemed to do so with more of a plan than he felt particularly comfortable with. TWOING!! Oren's shoulder knocked against one of the threads of this bizarre web, and for a split second Oren could swear he heard echoes of Vaudeville music - not that he'd have any chance of recognizing it as such. A wing of his glider hit another thread, causing him to go into an uncontrolled spin while a roar like that of a 100-meter tall Japanese lizard echoed through every atom of his body, a shriek of confused interpretation of nuclear allegories. Afraid he would lose track of it in the chaos, Oren snapped his fingers, signaling for the glider to fold up and return to its place in his pack. Despite Spider-Goblin's best attempt at smooth travels, he had several more collisions on the way to his unintended destination, catching glimpses of spider-people ranging from an orange-haired woman in skating gear to a cartoon cat, but before he had a chance to make any sense of these visions he was jettisoned through a portal not unlike the one that had sucked him in only seconds earlier. Oren was in freefall, coming down toward a city that he had never been to before. It wasn't too far from home, but he could tell everything here was a little… wrong by the sensibilities he had acquired over his last twenty-two years. Redeploying his glider, he perched atop it and looked down upon this strange, wrong world. “So this must be Jersey, eh?”
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    Dearest Mother and Father, By the time you read this, the SS Rising Sun will have arrived at New Point Landing of the Korova region, and my grand excursion will have properly begun. I do have to thank you again for your care package. I have already made great use of the stain remover, and the contents of the little pill bottle have proven very helpful in adapting my corporeal form to the ocean waves. Cassiopeia enjoyed the candy you packed for her as well. I worry you spoil her even more than I do! I tried to find you in my dreams last night, were you looking for me? I could not find you, and you have my apologies for that. I could not help but return to the more abstract and dreadful regions of the astral plane. I have described to you before, I am sure, the various dangers I have encountered, but what struck me this time was the utter lack of sound. It was a deafening silence, the kind that can strip away the ego and leave nothing behind but an empty shell. When I returned to the material world, I had to spend several minutes lying motionless just listening to the water crash against the boat before my wits returned to me. I do not mean to make you worry, though. I am handling it well. You will be pleased to learn that I have already made new friends who are also undertaking adventures of their own. I met each of them individually, and it turned out by fortuitous happenstance that they had already acquainted themselves with each other! My encounter with Nathaniel was so marvelous the margins of this letter are too narrow to contain it, but I will describe my meeting with Belladonna as you may find it entertaining. Cassiopeia and I were wandering one of the decks of the ship. It was midday, but the clouds had just parted after a particularly violent storm, so there was hardly anyone else around. The crew had only just put the chairs back out. We were looking out at the horizon and experiencing the sublime vastness of the ocean beneath our feet when we noticed the body of a woman lying in one of those chairs. I thought she was dead! I thought the storm had proven so exhausting for her that she had either left for new worlds or joined me in the interstice between them. I poked her. I had to. My curiosity would not allow me otherwise. My cheeks flush just recalling the moment, because, of course, she was not, even if she said she wished she was in that moment. Thankfully, we are already past the point of grudges and on to what I suspect will be gentle ribbings where appropriate. I am sure someday I will have similar gaffs to make about their behavior too. The horn has just sounded announcing our arrival at the docks, and Cassiopeia is looking at me with an antsy expression on her face. I will have more for you soon, but I must be going now, first to find my companions, then to a mailbox, and then, adventure! Sending love, even in death, QuinnQuinn looked over their letter with quite a sense of satisfaction over how it had all turned out. The way he saw it, people either had very good handwriting or very poor, with no in-between, and Quinn was proud to be of the former category. “See? All done,” she said, showing the letter to Cassiopeia. Either the Drifloon could read or she made a very strong impression of doing so, and gave off a happy sort of hum when she had finished regardless of which it was. “I knew you would approve,” Quinn said. “Come now, we really must be going. All right, then. Now, just to double-check…” They made one final loop around their cabin, making sure they had everything a good ghost needed to go on a Pokémon adventure (or at least everything that they had packed to take along with them. All the clothes had been cleaned, toiletries were all put away, ze had either stowed or put on any personal effects… it all seemed just so. Once hir pens had been put away, the only things left loose in the cabin were the letter and Cassiopeia herself. “Would you like to be in your ball?” Quinn asked, “Or would you- Oh!” Cassiopeia had refused, instead nuzzling right up to Quinn and looping her strings around its wrist. “I was only asking in case it was windy, you silly balloon. We do not want a repeat of two days ago.” Again, Cassiopeia made a noise and rubbed her face on Quinn’s. “Alright, you win,” Quinn said. “But we really must be going.” Their cabin was pretty far away from the gangplank, which made Quinn worry that they might be keeping the rest of the group waiting, though that turned out not to be the case. Quinn and Cassie stood just off to the side, scanning everyone else coming off, looking for the two familiar people on the whole ship, listening to the dockmaster give a welcome to each and every passenger with the same laugh every time. Fortunately, it was not windy, even if that meant Cassiopeia got to float around all vindicated and full of herself. It was quite a while before Belladonna and Nathaniel stumbled off the ship, and Quinn rushed over to meet them as soon as she spotted them. “My friends!” she said. “Hello! I just have to purchase some stamps and a few other supplies and then-” For the second time that day, though, they were interrupted, as Belle broke from Nathaniel’s shoulder and collapsed onto the dock. She had seen this before, of course. In fact, Quinn remembered doing similar things when they were alive. Sometimes, when you did not want to do something, the only recourse was to not do anything. But that would not do for Quinn. They did not just go through the effort of making new friends and explaining their condition to them enough times until they accepted it, just to abandon them as soon as they were off the boat. Quinn could not help himself. While Nathaniel desperately tried to tempt Belladonna with lemonade, Quinn kneeled down next to her and, for the second time this trip, gave her a good poke in the arm.
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    Riding bareback was nothing like riding with a saddle. It was a skill most often found amongst the commonfolk; Link had never met a noble who could do it. It required great balance, a lot of experience, and a total disregard for personal safety. He could still hear Ilia’s father yelling directions at him, even so many years later. “Keep yer knees tight. Lean forward, if yer gonna gallop. Not that much! Ye’ll mess with her balance pressing on her neck like that. …That’s the trick! Look at ya go! Yer a natural!” It proved to be a muscle memory. Shifting his hips until the horse seemed comfortable, seated more forward than was traditional if he had been using a saddle. The mechanics behind it were hard-wired into his brain. The same could not be said for the actual muscles—muscles rarely used in day-to-day life—that the act required. Link ignored the pain and pressed his heels into the horse’s haunches. It barely seemed to take notice. It was so large and layered with muscle that the soldier was certain that his own weight was negligible to it. The village raced around him in a blur of colors. The wind buffeted his face and ripped his hat off his head, blowing his blonde hair back. Gaston whipped around to shout something that Link couldn’t make out. He glared at the man but said nothing in return. His burning anger had been cooled into smoldering embers of hate; he was no longer consumed by his outrage, and instead let it serve as fuel to push the engine that was his body past the point of breaking. Link’s grip tightened on the hilt of his sword in preparation. He was gaining. Both horses were incredibly fast, but his horse was faster, and carried a lot less weight. Two bitter enemies united under one banner for the first time in many years that day. Death normally took pleasure in tormenting the former soldier—reminding him of their frequent collaborations—but in that moment, it hugged him like an old friend. It could be seen in his eyes when he focused on Gaston, and in his face, dark and stormy as a slate cut from a storm cloud, and even in the wind that blew his hair, framing his face like the wild mane of the great cats Gaston hunted. Death nipped at the heels of Pylauses Gaston, its scythe of choice a soldier too gentle for war. No one could outrun it forever.
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    "Goodbye home, and hello to a new region!" The girl stood at the stern of the ship, foot on the railing holding onto her hat so as to not have it blown off by a sea breeze for the fourth time during this journey. "Now I know what you're wondering, Rus, why look back now when the beginning is right in front of us?" The Lepash, that had been standing a healthy distance from the railing, had no such thoughts and seemed to be tired of the constant speeches she had similarly been dolling out for the past two weeks. "It's obvious, right? Since from here on out we'll only be facing forward! This is the last time to have fond reminiscence of what brought us here before starting our adventure! See she's got the right idea of it," Jacklyn pointed to a blue haired girl who had been keeled over the railing of the ship, and without being able to actually see her expression Jacklyn took it to mean that she was having a great time experiencing all the marvels of large boat travel. Jacklyn then looked out onto the horizon for approximately five seconds before she had said, "well that's enough of that. Come on Rus!" Rus had nothing to reminisce about. If anything it was actually returning home rather than going anywhere new and unexplored. Of course this was entirely missed by her trainer as she ran ahead. Rus started to chase after her, only to stop for a moment as a man passed him, holding a pokemon he could've sworn was familiar before remembering that his trainer was moving to the front of the ship. One to make a competition of everything and a sore loser, the Lepash broke into a sprint keeping up with its trainer until they got to the bridge connecting the ship to the land. With all the people crowding up to get off the boat, Jacklyn picked up Rus saying, "don't want you to get lost. And here you go Rus, look! A new town! A new region!" To her. "Ooooh man, I can't wait!" The Lepash was growing less comfortable with this, already disliking the idea of being carried around, as Jacklyn's excitement started to cause her to wave her arms around with the fire type still in them. Once off the boat, the girl made an emphatic jump onto the first land of the port saying, "wooooohoooo! We're here! It's really real!" Giddily chuckling to herself, as the fire type squirmed in her hands the girl said, "oh right. Here you should do this too. Hup!" The girl lowered her arms and let go of the Lepash, who let out an annoyed grunt, and seemed thankful that experience was over with. After a moment, the girl spotted her other teammates saying, "oh, look, there they are! Let's go Rus." The Lepash turned its head to the side and scoffed for a moment, eliciting a frown from the girl before she remembered, "right, you don't get along with that Shinx very well, huh? Oh, well...That won't do! We've all gotta be pals since we're adventuring together, I think. But I'll let you sit out so you don't get lost in town and you two can have a chat about uh...pokemon things, later." The Lepash rolled its eyes before being called back to its pokeball. Running to meet up with the others, she waved enthusiastically saying, "heeeey guys!" Once with them, she heard Anima's suggestion and smiled, pointing emphatically at her. "I like the way you think! We're going to be out there. In the wilderness braving the uh, wild! No beds, or houses or running water. Just us and the desert sand! Or dirt or something. So we'll need supplies. Plus who knows what kind of souvenirs and knick knacks you can find here? Now, if I were a good place to shop where would I be." Jacklyn had no idea where to start. In fact, now that she was up close she was starting to realize just how small all the buildings here were compared to her home and how different, even still just being a port city, it all felt. Her excitement began to burst forth again as she just said, "ah whatever, let's just go look around and see if we can find anything."
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    At the back end of the ship, or "the stern" as those savvy with nautical jargon would know, stood another girl. Except standing was not quite the right word. She leaned over the side of the railing, much like Anneliese had at the bow. But her eyes were not on the horizon, nor was her mind on the coming journey. No, it preoccupied itself with a separate journey. The journey of her partially digested meal, all the way from her stomach to over the side of the ship. After that journey ran its course, the girl stared miserably at the waves below. "The internet lied to me," she muttered. "Being outside is supposed to help with seasickness, but I still feel sicker than a Snubbull." This person was Belladonna, but only when she was in trouble. For all other times, she was Belle. And unlike some trainers on the ship, she did not have a Pokémon by her side. Her new starter was tucked safely inside its Poké Ball, which itself was tucked safely inside a pocket of her dark blue sweatpants. They were baggy, though a little tight around the waist, matching the puffiness of her navy-and-white sweatshirt, now stained with dried vomit. Her outfit was not one meant for the outdoors. She had first worn it days ago in blissful ignorance. Believing her day would comprise the usual tasks of mopping the floors and finding trainers lost in the mess of warp tiles the Saffron Gym was known for. Belle wiped her mouth and groaned. With her mood about as low as it could get, it got worse, and then better, when the cruise ship slowed to a halt. Worse, because she almost fell backward onto the deck from inertia. Better, because the ship stopped moving. Which meant her stomach could stop imitating the Whirl Islands for a change. The girl sank to her knees, head lowered, till her ultramarine hair pooled on the waxed wooden tiles of the ship's deck. "Ugh." Several minutes passed before she moved. In fact, she would've stayed put, but for the kind person who lifted her to her feet and helped her off the cruise ship. She gave them a tired thumbs up when they reached the dock. By the time Belle got off the ship, most, if not all of, the other new trainers had already greeted the dockmaster. At his enthusiastic reception, the girl raised her head from its near-constant droop. Sunken yellow eyes set into a face like congealed milk sent him a thousand-yard stare—or a teenager's best approximation. "Somehow," she rasped, "I doubt that." Belle hobbled past the man. Several times, her knees gave way and almost sent her into the drink. "Still got my sea legs," she muttered. After far too many paces (but was in fact just a couple dozen), the girl finally gave up and crumpled onto the dock face-down. "Wake me up when it's time to go home," she muttered, mouth pressed into a gap in the slats. Note: The "kind person" could be anybody. Feel free to have your character help Belle off the ship if you want. Otherwise, it'll be one of the ship's crew.
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    …Things sure had been moving fast. To be honest, though, she knew she should have expected that from an adventure such as this, and so she had at least managed to steel herself. This had allowed her great alacrity when it came to making her way onto the ship, and as far into the ship as she could manage; resolving to spend as much of her time in-doors as she could, for the time being. This meant that even now, she was still inside, in her room, as they neared their destination “...Even still, from in here, the waves sound… Almost nice, don’t they, Confi?” she murmured to seemingly no one in particular, before lifting the small rock that had been in her hands up in front of her face, and tilting her head. In response, two pink eyes crept open, gazing dully at her, before a small, almost wistful “...Cor…? La...So...” rang out; one that she felt more than heard, before nodding. “...I know…” Anima trailed off, sighing. “...He’ll never let us hear the end of it if we don’t head back out there to keep an eye on her,” she agreed with her Pokémon, giving her an almost apologetic look as she placed the Pokémon down on the foot of her bed, and finished packing her things into her bag before slinging it over her shoulder. “...So… Let’s get on with it,” she smiled, holding out a hand, and allowing the small, white Pokémon to trot onto her palm; transferring the Ghost-type to her bag as soon as the Pokémon had made it onto her hand, so that she could peer out from the darkness with her piercing Pink eyes. “...Just… Try to be more careful who you… Er… Threaten, okay?” she chuckled, as she slid open the door to her room, and began to trace her way back towards the deck. She felt bad, at least a little, scolding her quiet Pokémon, but it was only fair given that’s how they had gotten into this mess, after all. Even now, she couldn’t help but feel mildly proud of Confi for standing up for her. Even if it was a mistake, and even if both she and her new friend had been at fault for the sudden meeting (and impact, as they literally ran-into each other), the undead-coral Pokémon had wasted no time in skulking out from the darkness to look at the other woman's Pokémon in a way that she no-doubt had thought intimidating... Only to get scared away as the small Lion held their ground, looking at any moment ready to fight. Of course, Anima had had no flights of fancy that Confi had actually managed to intimidate her self-made opponent, especially given how much she had been shaking, and so in the end she and her soon-to-be-friend Anelleise had ended up having to calm their respective Pokémon down themselves, but... it was the thought that counted, she reasoned; she just hoped that- “Cor…” Anima blinked, as she came to a sudden stop for a moment, as the wistful ring of her Pokémon in her ears brought her back to reality; and she narrowly dodged the wall she had just about walked straight into. “Ah…Aha, right,” she murmured, deflating slightly. “Sorry,” she rubbed the back of her head, pausing for a moment, before she resumed her trek of the maze-like ship… --- In the event, she had only just made it out to the deck as the crew had begun rounding everyone up to be ushered off and onto the docks; which was, by her account, remarkably good timing. This allowed her to get off the boat as soon as possible, which was a concept she would hardly give up under any circumstances. Even as her group had made their way off the ship, she had made sure that when they stopped moving, she had put at least a few other groups (as well as her group-mates) between her and the docks; just in case. It didn’t do completely ease the gnawing feeling in the pit of her stomach, but it certainly didn’t hurt. Distractions also never failed to hurt; and so the boisterous greeting of the Dockmaster was welcome as she gave a quick, agreeable nod. Even as she opened her mouth to speak and thank the Dockmaster, one of her assigned traveling companions, Anneliese, spoke first, proclaiming him to be a ‘delightful man’. Unsure of just how to add onto this, she just sort of smiled as she turned to look at Anneliese, and decided to instead acknowledge the girl’s question. “I… Um… Hope I’m not speaking out of turn here,” she began, glancing between the two of them. “But we should… Probably stock-up on any supplies we may need for the next leg of our journey-- And find anything about it out that we can,” she’d counsel, bringing a hand up to her chin. “Of, course, it’s a group decision though, so… I'll, uh... Leave the final decision to you...” she trailed off, absentmindedly bringing a hand to rest on her bag’s strap, as she glanced between her companions.
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    Penelope and Gunther With everything going on outside, the kitchen itself seemed too still. Like an eye in the center of a great storm. No noise stirred the mansion but the soft sounds of Hanikap’s murmurs from the next room over. “Never shoulda got caught up in all this. What would me dear Ma say now if’n she could see this?” And then, above their heads, nearer to the parlor exit, Penelope and Gunther both would hear the startled coos of pigeons. A familiar voice accompanied the cries with a shout, “Who has this many birds?!” Alois One could forgive the fighter for letting his guard down. After all, birds—doves and pigeons both—filled the dovecote. It would be difficult to make out much of anything in the flurry of wings and round bodies. From the sheer number of birds, the flapping of their wings alone generated enough noise to surprise most people. But combined with the screeching, it produced an overwhelming cacophony. It would not be surprising if the noise reached the people outside or downstairs, even. Amidst the hail of feathers, a shadow dropped on the boy, sending him crashing to the floor. “Sorry, but I don’t much like being chased,” a low voice whispered in his ear. “Don’t worry, I’ll have you chasing after sheep soon enough.” Edrick, Citron, and Raki Edrick, Citron, Peaches, and Raki could also hear the ruckus in the dovecote above, though it would be harder to make out over the sounds of the outside and Peaches’s pained roaring. The arrow had buried itself grievously close to the wyvern’s heart. Had Gaston a little more time and a little less urgency, Peaches would be dead. As it was, the wound lay a little closer to the center of the wyvern’s chest, and so she could still count herself among the living. The Isaurians at the scene would know that the weak points of a wyvern were their wings and soft underbelly. Wyvern riders dreaded archers for this reason. A well-aimed shot could take a wyvern out of commission forever. The belly scales had furrowed up like a small hill around the wound. To those unfamiliar with battle, it would have seemed innocuous. A mere stick poking into the chest. Barely any blood. But below the surface, bits of wood splintered off, creating slivers resting amidst dark blood and pale flesh. The arrowhead itself remained intact, but it had ruptured a blood vessel. To remove the arrow now, without taking proper steps, would be a fatal mistake. Link It did not take long for Pylauses to realize he was being chased. The man turned back once and cursed. “Damn you, fellow!” he shouted. “Can you not at least have the common sensitude to know when to capitulate?!” He lashed the reins against the horse’s neck. It whinnied but increased its pace to a gallop. The ride carried Link through the streets of Phar. In the dusky twilight, the village houses shone in only two colors—sunset gold or a brown so dark it seemed black. The sun glared directly into the mercenary's eyes as it set behind the village wall. Few villagers ventured outside at this hour. The scant few that remained disappeared at the sound of hoofbeats, till the streets were empty of all but dust. This road would be familiar to the mercenary. Hours earlier, he had walked this same path, following Alois’s mother Mene to her house. But rather than a pleasant stroll, he now raced to catch up to Pylauses Gaston. Ciela At the front of the mansion, a single horse and rider had been resting near the food trough Gaston had laid out for his horses. Miraculously, the rider had remained asleep through the earlier commotion. But considering the extent of her injuries, perhaps it was not so surprising, Were she to wake now, she would feel much more rested than before. And much more herself. Tsetseg and Cora Acantha snorted, “Of course, ya get on her horse.” However, despite her words, the girl didn’t look like she minded. “Come on! Let’s go! You said Pylauses’s house, right? In that case, we need to head this way.” The redhead took the group down the main road leading toward the back gate. They hadn’t gone far when Phai caught up to them on a dark blue roan. “I’m here, I’m here!” she cried out with relief. “I’m sorry, it took a while, and I uh, well, ye don’t need to hear the details, I guess.” The girl wilted under her cousin’s annoyed glare. “Humph, well, as long as you’re here, it don’t matter, I guess,” Acantha sighed, voice slipping into the same drawl as the other villagers. As if she had tacitly accepted Tsetseg as trustworthy. "Let's go." However, the redhead stopped the group before they could even walk fifty paces. “Hold, there’s something ahead.” Now that she had pointed it out, the rest of the group would hear hoofbeats in the distance. But they were not the slow clops associated with a walk, nor the clip-clop of a trot, nor even the three-beat sounds in a canter. No. Instead, they could hear the four-beat patter of a gallop. Somebody was racing recklessly through the village on horseback. Horses weren’t supposed to go much faster than a walk in the village proper. “Do ya think that could be the militia?” Phai asked. “But… ain’t that a mite dangerous?”
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    As it happened, faced with what looked like an impossible feat of strength on the part of the man they were chasing, the man who it seemed for all the world was kidnapping their friend, Edrick had decided to try the impossible himself. How many times had this group of theirs overcome nonsense beyond nonsense in order to achieve some kind of victory here? If this bastard was strong enough to throw a wyvern, why couldn't he be strong enough to catch her? He owed Peaches that much at least, she was hurt worse than he was or at least he believed she was. He could do this. He could help- And then he received two important reminders. The first was that the people around him cared about him, delivered in the form of Link diving on him from behind and taking him to the ground before he could be smashed by several hundred pounds of flying lizard. The second was that he was hurt... a whole lot worse than he was giving himself credit for. Oh he could hear his mother and sister chiding him now about going off and trying to get into another fight when he should have been resting and letting one of them heal him! So while Link got up off his back he spent a few more moments there laying facedown in the dirt, dazed from the pain and meekly bleeding in the street while he tried to remember how to move. An assortment of noises and voices helped wake him from this temporary stupor he'd found himself in, and while the world spun around him he slowly got up to his hands and knees, bright blonde hair already dirty again from the day's excitement and starting to look a little closer to that black it had been when the others met. Come to think of it, Penelope still hadn't tried to get him to properly wash it yet. Advantages of getting hurt, he thought as he waited until the ground stopped spinning before his eyes and he could make out voices properly again. “You’ve done so well-- You just… I just need you to stop, and stay still. I need you to be okay.” That was Citron... and it didn't sound like Peaches was doing all that well. He could... maybe help tend to her again after this, but there were other things that needed- "She's a wyvern, she'll handle it." That was the new boy... Raju? Raykee? One of those, he couldn't remember right now. But that boy also had a Wyvern... and now he had an idea on how he could help continue the fight. He wasn't catching a horse on foot, he'd tried that for years now and had plenty of proof that wouldn't work, but if he was flying? "H-hey," he managed to all but cough out as he made his way towards the two riders, one arm clutching at his freshly re-bloodied chest and the other holding the lance he'd been using to keep himself up, "I don't think I can help here, and I can't catch Gaston on foot, so... can one of you fly me after him and drop me like a rock on his horse?"
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    THE VOID A PLAY IN ONE ACT CHARACTERS IN THE PLAY Z. C-ko Moderators of Yanma’s Custom Monsters forum Girls of the Chorus THE VOID was originally performed at the Kashira Shadow Playhouse as part of the PMDUOS event on the evening of June 2, 2023. SCENE Z. is alone on an empty stage. Z.: Oh, what fresh hell is this? Is this even allowed? Fuck, you would think I’d have been granted the decency of being free from extra bullshit at this point. Okay, no, I would have accepted one of two things happening when I fell asleep: The dungeon bullshit would have been all a dream and I’d just wake up to a normal life, or my subconscious would pull from memories my conscious mind could not, and I could get desperate flashes of another me that doesn’t exist anymore. But this is neither. I’m still a Zorua, though. Fuck me. [They move to the front of the stage] Hey, anyone watching this? No? Typical. Stage lights dim, save a lone spotlight center stage, where Z. was just standing. Z. (turning around): No. [The spotlight reluctantly moves to where Z. is now. Z. turns back around] (Sound Cue #1) Z.: I guess I do remember some things. It’s dumb forum drama, because of course it is, but a forum update made YCM’s mod forum available to the general user base. It got fixed, but basically, any sort of gossip anyone could get their hands on got posted to the miscellaneous forum. The posters got banned and the threads were deleted pretty quickly, but some people’s download buttons were even faster. The voices of the YCM MODERATORS recount their posts from offstage Moderator 1: Oh my God would Zeta just shut up? Moderator 2: Decides they're a they now and makes it their whole personality lmao Moderator 1: Not even that just like... I’ll dock them for calling Summer a bitch ass-cunt or whatever and that’ll put them on their best behavior for a bit but then the warning points go away and they’re back on their bullshit again. Moderator 3: Summer is a bitch ass-cunt to be fair Moderator 1: That’s besides the point.[trails off] Z.: That was a fun two weeks. It all got derailed into some bullshit about mod transparency that went nowhere, and I never got an apology or anything, but I wasn’t really asking for one. The point was, for a hot second there, everyone was on my side. And the thing about people being on your side, they tend to question you a lot less. (Sound Cue #2) The spotlight dims to a barely-noticeable circle on the floor and the back wall of the stage is illuminated. Z.: What now? (Sound Cue #3) The shadow of C-KO appears crossing the back wall from right to left and back again. She is carrying a gramophone. C-ko: Extra! Extra! The CHORUS is represented by more shadows cast on the back wall in the shape of accusatory finger-pointing. C-KO no longer has her gramophone, and her clothing shifts as the accusations continue. This would make sense in, like, a shooting script instead of a stageplay but technically this is neither -- it’s a dream sequence -- so you figure it out. Chorus Girl 1: Aha! You’ve got fox paws for hands. You’re not human, you’re a foxgirl! C-ko: Nope! I’m a human! These are just gloves -- it’s getting kind of cold. Chorus Girl 2: Aha! You’ve got hooves for feet. You’re not human, you’re a horsegirl! C-ko: I see why you’d think that, but these are just very fashionable shoes. They’re all the rage in Paris. Chorus Girl 3: Aha! You’ve got rabbit ears. You’re not human, you’re a bunnygirl! C-ko: No! No! These are just, uh, wearable antennae for my phone so I can get better reception. I promise I’m human! Z: Why do you want to be human so badly? C-ko: [screams] CURTAIN After a dream that felt like it could have lasted either five minutes or nine months, Z. woke up in an entirely new place with no sign of the conflict that had rendered them comatose in the first place. On the one hand, they were glad to not be fighting anymore, especially with the embarrassing showing that had gotten them put to sleep in the first place, but, on the other hand, that Cleffa had something coming to them, and Z. wanted to be the one to do it. There was a zero percent chance that they were ever going to see that particular Cleffa ever again, so their frustration was entirely empty, which really made it all even worse. Their Oran Berry was missing too, a crime that had too many mundane explanations (it fell out somewhere, someone needed it in an emergency, that fucking Cleffa took it) to really blame anyone currently present, so that only compounded everything. “Fuck,” Z. said for want of anything else to say. Almost everyone else was crowding some other Pokémon that was sleeping nearby. Z. couldn’t remember the exact specifics, but they were pretty sure that most anyone would be mad if they woke up to a sudden horde of people clamoring for attention, especially if one of those people looked like he was six people. It was a Jirachi too, so it had the power to back that anger up. Even Es the Rotom had gone over to pester the thing, and Z. had been pretty sure that if any of them were going to wait for them to wake up and cheer when it happened, it was her. Z. huffed and pulled themself to their feet. It felt incredibly natural to do that downward-facing dog to upward-facing dog yoga stretch thing, but it felt weird that it felt natural, if that made sense. Like, it made sense that it felt normal, but- “It doesn’t really matter,” Z. said. It was kind of to that and the previous thought wrapped all into one. Of all the humans-turned-Pokémon, Ears the Noibat had the right idea. If the Jirachi was going to be helpful, it was going to be helpful regardless of whether it was being pestered with an extra meaningless question. Of course, Ears was better at getting a view from higher up, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t do the same thing, but on the ground. “I’m going this way,” Z. said, pointing in the opposite direction the Noibat was looking.
  24. 3 likes
    Chester had Hi'd his last "yah" as he successfully punched the Cleffa, only to be immediately be interrupted by something of an incredible wind storm. The phenomena defied all forms of logic that the Chespin was aware of, and to make matters worse he felt an incredible sense of dread as he was picked up by the wind. Not the regular kind that any normal person would feel being violently rag dolled by a spontaneous raging gale. No this was something more instinctual. Something akin to his very genes telling him that anything to do with wind would be a time for his species. Though, of course, he definitely felt the first kind of dread too. He had his own wind knocked out of him as his back slammed against the wall. Then, being picked up again he was tossed into an entirely different wall, slamming his arm against that. Then a third gale picked up and tossed him once more. He could see his own demise coming as he knew he was going headfirst into a wall, and that typically slamming one's head into something was considered fatal. However, as his head smashed against the rocky surface he felt...nothing? His head felt fully intact and he wasn't even suffering from a headache of some kind. If anything, he felt more sorry for the wall, though these feelings were interrupted once more as the wind continued toss him about like a chew toy. Chester's body ached all over as he awoke to the sound of a gentle wind blowing through the area. Pushing himself off the ground, Chester muttered, "what happened?" Looking around and taking note of the scenery, the boy said, "where...this certainly isn't a cave." The Chespin was shocked by the sudden six voices shouting at him, essentially expressing his own thoughts. Albeit louder. Looking to Hector the Chespin cleared his throat saying, "that is certainly the question of the hour." Everyone's attention was then drawn to the pokemon that, as Marv - someone who had most assuredly always been a Froakie - had pointed out, was the Mythical Pokemon Jirachi. "That would certainly not be the thing I'd have expected to meet here. But," Chester looked back to the rest of the group, taking stock of them and making sure they were alright. As the moderator it was his job to ensure the safety of everyone in the group. Though, as the de facto leader as a result, it was also his job to take charge in the conversation of getting info from the wish granting pokemon. Though it seemed to be asleep and two people were already asking it questions, and as such it would be rude of Chester to interject. Though also the first set of pokemon they met that weren't them were also immediately hostile so Chester wasn't sure if conversing was even in the cards with this pokemon. Though it was also a mythical pokemon and they were not in a cave so perhaps such a thing wasn't a worry he should've been having. Though every time they had come across something new or dangerous thus far that one sided voice would warn them about it, and it certainly wasn't doing such a thing now. The Chespin was lost in thought and decision paralysis for a moment before saying, "alright everyone make sure you aren't injured and keep your hostilities in check until this pokemon wakes up. One question at a time too!" The moderator had almost told everyone to form a single file line to ensure that they each went in a proper order, but stopped himself short before looking at the Jirachi.
  25. 3 likes
    Had Raki made a list of all the things he could have expected to see as he neared the window, the spectacle he witnessed would have been as far as possible from qualifying for it, not even if someone had warned him in advance. In fact, even after seeing it with his own eyes, it probably wouldn't have made the cut. When he had entered the kitchen, the woman that had been so focused on her work moments before was nowhere to be found. This didn't catch his attention for more than a few moments. The missing knives, even less so. After all, who was he to know what nobles did with their cutlery. As for the missing woman, even if his... "questioning" from before hadn't been enough of an incentive to move into another room, then it was still no surprise that she had fled after a wyvern roared right out of the kitchen's window. Said window, so carelessly swung open, was much more interesting. It helped that Raki was already approaching it. Despite what some of the stories the people shared around at his uncle's village told, a wyvern's cry wasn't nearly enough to throw open doors and the like. Not even Garinphasia's. But wherever that train of thought was going, it ceased to be an issue as soon as he came close enough to peer down towards the street below. "Impossible..." Raki flinched back as if he had just seen Peaches open maws come in from the window, but even that would have made more sense. People... There was no way for a human to be able to do that, was there? He clenched the window frame, leaning forward as he stared in disbelief, blissfully unaware of the presence of the woman right above him. He had met many a wyvern in his young life. He had met many people who handled said wyverns daily, he himself had been one of them. He had yet to see someone capable of lifting one of those scaly beasts by muscle alone. Let alone throw them after that. Raki remained frozen on the window as the scene unfolded, as Edrick and Link dodged the throw, and the man who performed the deed took a bag near him and rushed towards a couple of horses. His muscles remained unwilling to move when the swordsman who he had met a few minutes before struggled to his feet, while the man made his escape with the sack on horseback. His focus was on the wyvern that he had almost been attacked by, thrashing on the ground in pain after having been made to fly against her will, and the crying rider that had rushed to her partner's side. His mind, however, was on Garinphasia. She is... Well outside the village Just as he had asked her Raki didn't want to assume it would have been impossible for her to come to him had he called. She had done it before. But by sheer distance, it functionally was. He would have had no aid were he to find himself in need. That... that was probably for the best. There was an arrow stuck in Peaches chest. Likely to also be that man's doing. An arrow, with that kind of strength behind it... Garinphasia would have not backed down against such an opponent. She just wasn't the type. Would that man be able to juggle her like that too? Surely... Surely not... "GASTON!" That single scream, as Link launched himself in pursuit, shook Raki out of his paralysis. Gaston. Lord Gaston, Hanikap said. He hadn't paid attention, distracted as he was by the event itself, but if that man who had escaped was the one... Raki's hand went to the handle of his axe. This was no time to be lost in thoughts. The man most responsible for what had happened to Timmy was escaping. that was all that he needed to know. "Where did she go? I believe she may be more dangerous than I had assumed." Almost all that he needed to know. The rest of the interrogation had finished while he was busy doing nothing, it seemed. Raki turned towards Gunther and Penelope. "Who?" It took a moment of watching the girl searching the kitchen with her eyes before Raki could guess of whom she may be talking about "If you're talking about the maid, she wasn't here when I arrived." He turned towards the window "However, That Gaston guy just threw a wyvern at your companions, so I think I'm going to go out." With that said, he jumped out the window, onto the street below. Now that he noticed, there was a conspicuous amount of knives on said street. A wild neigh caught his attention. Link was taming one of the horses, or about to be thrown off by it. It was the first one. The swordsman charged in hot pursuit, Raki did not need to guess of whom. Near him, the rider had finally calmed her wyvern, but she seemed to be in a sorry state herself. Raki could understand. If Garinphasia had been wounded beyond his abilities, he doubted he'd have felt much different. Raki made to pursue Link's trail He looked back to the wyvern. Calm as she was, he dared not to approach one that had already found reason to be hostile on the same day, and now she was wounded to boot. The wyvern didn't seem to have any broken bones, as far as he could tell. No part of the wings was bent the wrong way, and she didn't seem to be avoiding putting her weight on any limb. The only doubt was on the chest, but that was probably the arrow shaft still lodged inside. Besides, the rider was another Isaurian. She seemed a nice girl, and she had saved his behind when he had been so careless with peaches before, but the less he had to do with her the better it would have been for him. The arrow didn't look like it had hit a vital organ, but it went in pretty deep. How was it that they treated the fresh arrivals with arrow wounds again? His recent experience was mostly with wounds caused by Isaurian dark magic. He looked back to where the horses once stood. Gaston had long since left. Link was no longer in sight either. Raki really wanted to catch that guy. That guy on a horse. Raki picked up a knife. Clean knife, do not try to shake out the shaft, enlarge the edges... "She's a wyvern, she'll handle it." Raki closed his eyes, trying to recall the other handlers at work, and his few own works on the more surface-level wounds. How deep was it that one had to go? If the heart is... No, before that, how did you prepare a knife properly? He opened his eyes and looked at the blade, dirtied by the fall on the road. Water, fire... was he forgetting something? "We only need to take out that arrow properly." Still, even if he recalled how to perform the operation, one issue remained he may have not been able to solve. He could try what techniques he knew, but... Unless the wyvern decides to allow someone else to do it, he looked at Citron There is only one person who can get close enough to actually operate.
  26. 3 likes
    Penelope and Gunther “Y-you really won’t toss me outside?” Hanikap whimpered. “It’s so scary out there. Lord Gaston, the scary flying thing, the wolfydog…” He held his head. “I just… Just wanted to be better, is all. In a better situation. I thought, if I followed Lord Gaston, some of what he had would rub off on me.” He licked his lips, slipping back into his accent. “I ain’t meant for things to get this bad. And now I… I just…” The man sniffled. “I jes’ wanna forget this e’er happened!” He glanced between both Penelope and Gunther. “If’n you can promise to protect me afterward, ‘specially from that angry-lookin’ boy just now. I’ll tell ye everyfing I know. But it ain’t much, I tells ya.” Alois First, Edrick ran out of the room and entered the master bedroom to climb down the window there. Then Citron clambered out of the window in the smaller bedroom they stood in, landing on the roof of the dovecote below and leaving Alois alone up top. Edrick’s way was safer. Citron’s way was faster. It did not take a sage to guess which way Alois would choose. He vaulted out of the window to drop directly onto the roof below. Before the fighter could finish the leap to the ground; he saw another person near the roof he stood on. An unfamiliar young woman with her hair tied up in a bonnet climbed up the side of the wall, arms and legs spread wide like a spider. She held up a hand with several kitchen knives fanning out like silver claws before she threw them all at once down on the ground. A brief flash of satisfaction crossed her face when Link shielded his own face, but she spared no further time to gloat. Instead, she took that opportunity to climb directly below where Alois was standing. The woman cast the boy a quick glance but said nothing, swinging into the window like a trapeze artist and closing the door. Raki The first thing Raki saw upon entering the kitchen was the notable lack of the woman, Dille, who was here before. Next was the knife rack lying on its side, empty of knives. Lastly was the window to his left, swung ajar and shaking slightly from the vibrations caused by the motions outside. Were he to look out and up, he might glimpse the same woman Alois had seen, and perhaps recognize her. But the kerfuffle outside the window was more likely to seize his attention. Edrick, Link, and Citron Miscreant (Intro) - Fire Emblem Awakening Edrick was fast catching up with Pylauses Gaston, but the man did not have the look of a wounded deer fleeing from the hounds. He did not snort in fear, his eyes did not roll backward, he did not even gasp for breath. No, instead his eyes were dark and glittering with anticipation. He was the hound. Perhaps that should have been the first sign that something was off. But his blustery demeanor had thrown everybody off. A fool is a fool, and not to be taken seriously. That is what everybody says. He reached Peaches, but instead of balking, he pivoted to let her stand between him and his pursuers, dropping both bow and sack. And then, he grabbed each of her legs, one giant hand per leg, and lifted. Miscreant - Fire Emblem Awakening For a second, the man stopped. It looked as if the weight of the wyvern would be too much. But then he clenched his teeth, his muscles bulging with the effort. Peaches ascended into the air outside of her own volition. Pylauses’s eyes turned bloodshot from the effort as, with one last roar, he held the wyvern above his head, shirt ripping open and falling from his torso in tatters. The group then beheld the full extent of Gaston's strength. He was built like a boulder, his waist showing off a six-pack. The man’s body shook from the effort of holding Peaches up. He roared again, spittle flying from his mouth as his muscles bunched in anticipation. And then, with a savage heave, he threw the wyvern at both Link and Edrick. Even if the two avoided the throw, they would lose precious time in doing so. Time enough for Pylauses to surge forward in this game of hunter and hunted. Gaston did not stop to look and see if Peaches smashed into either of the two. The man, now gasping for breath, picked up both bow and sack and continued to run. It didn’t take long before he reached one of his horses—the lighter, cream-colored one. The silver bay snorted and stepped away as soon as it saw its owner, hoof kicking out. The man growled and bound the sack to the other horse. He vaulted over the side and clumsily planted himself in the saddle. Pylauses backed the horse out of the open stable and whipped the reins forward with one hand, the other still holding the bow. The horse whinnied and raced forward like the wind given physical form. Gaston was getting away. Tsetseg (and Cora) Acantha hurried into her house, and for a long, tense minute, it was just Cora and Tsetseg standing outside. And then the girl exited, a scowl on her face, before hurrying to the back. A few minutes later, she returned atop a handsome chestnut stallion. “Let’s go. Phai will catch up soon.” The redhead matched the others’ speed, and her hands loosely gripped the reins, but the crease in her brows bespoke her impatience. Eventually, Cora’s house came into view again. Only her father, Posostro, stood in front of them now. “Heyo, I see you found Acantha!” He smiled. “The missus went off to gather the rest of the militia. They’ll be guardin’ the other way, in case this is a ruse or summat. So you can have no worries. The village’ll be well-protected.” “Well, I suppose that’s the least she could do, as head of the militia,” Acantha muttered. Posostro laughed. “As sharp-tongued as ever. Yer mother chose well in namin’ ye.” Acantha flushed. “That’s…” She glared. “Never mind. Just hurry and get Abel!” The man chuckled and left, returning soon after with Abel in hand. “Here,” he held her reins out to Cora. “He’s all yours.” “Yeah, yeah, let’s get going already,” Acantha snapped, then turned to Tsetseg. “You’ll slow us down if you remain on foot for much longer. Get on a horse with one of us. Pick whichever!” OOC I'm back!
  27. 2 likes
    It was not every day that a person expressed genuine curiosity at Quinn’s condition, and Quinn took full advantage of Briget’s invitation. He told Bridget about its abduction, how xe was found dead on Mount Coronet, and how only a spirit and Cassiopeia remained. Even when a shorts-wearing Youngster ran up and demanded Quinn battle his brand-new Starly, Quinn’s focus was still mostly focused on her new companion. It was a good thing Normandie was used to fending for herself. “It does not affect my usual day-to-day activities as much as you would expect. I still walk along the material plane. I still consume food for nutrients, although, of course, more spiritual fare is preferred. Oh, use Tackle!” Quinn called out. Normandie hissed and charged right at the Starly, who flapped its wings in an attempt to escape, but by the time it was airborne, it had extra Ratffian weight keeping it down, and the two tumbled to the ground in a pile. Quinn continued, “Perhaps the part that is most odd to me is the occasional reaction I get. People identify me as strange, which is understandable, but when I explain my situation, it only seems to amplify their assessment. I do not see anything strange about it. You said it yourself. Ghost-type Pokemon exist. Can Human ghosts not also exist?” Bridget nodded. “You’ve got a really good point! Tho’, ‘sides yourself, all I’ve ‘eard of ghosts is just rumors. Bet everyone’ll fink this’s just hearsay too when I go back an’ tell ‘em about you.” “I understand,” Quinn said, returning Bridget’s nod. “I do not have a way to prove myself, but I do not have a particular desire for one either. Tail Whip, Normandie, let us make this next hit count!” Normandie was in the middle of dodging the Starly's counterattack but as she ran around the field of battle, she did manage a few cracks with her tail as requested. Quinn said, “Thankfully, I do have other things outside of being a full-time ghost. I have my art. I have this journey.” They broke zir attention completely away from the battlefield and stared at Bridget directly. “What are you besides a Pokémon Professor to-be?” It took a moment for Bridget to respond with anything more than “Hmm, difficult question, that.” She watched the two Pokémon battle even when Quinn did not. She came up with the answer: “A gym battle fan, I suppose. Dunno how the rest of the world handles ‘em, but in Galar they're a big deal. I’d even bet I’m one of the top fans of my hometown’s gym leader.” Quinn widened hir eyes. “Oh, your town has a gymnasium as well? Everyone in Eterna City knows the movements of our gymnasium leader, Gardenia. She is surely the city’s foremost celebrity. Even those who do not follow League movements know Gardenia. And why should they not? Everybody sees the influx of fresh young upstarts. We all want to succeed.” Quinn felt herself get a little melancholy, but ey pressed on anyway. “I want to succeed. What I did not have the opportunity for in life…” But the moment passed quickly. Quinn whipped back around to the battle. The Youngster seemed annoyed and was recalling his Pokémon, but Quinn put a stop to that. “Now, Normandie! Pursuit!” It was amazing how fast the Ratffian could run when she needed to, glowing with that purple aura as she raced forward to catch the Starly before it could fully retreat into its ball, a snarl so loud that even Quinn had to flinch. But Normandie did let up as soon as all could confirm the Starly had fainted. Quinn was glad for that, at least. “Well done, Normandie!” Quinn said, digging through faer bag. “Come get your reward!” The Youngster pouted. “It’s not as fun when you’re just battling a Pokémon. I wanted to banter too,” he said. Only then did Quinn realize just what he had done. “Oh! I apologize. Here, if you go and heal up your Starly we can go again if you like.” The Youngster wanted to sulk instead. Quinn forewent taking any money from the boy, though. It was the least ze could do. All Quinn could do after that was wish the Youngster luck on finding an opponent who would better respect his time and effort. Yet still, Quinn was happy for the victory. E turned back to Bridget, a smile escaping their lips despite her best efforts. “I think it is time for me to go looking for more Pokémon,” Quinn said. They pointed at the statue off in the distance. “I am going to go this way and see what I can find.”
  28. 2 likes
    Migrated over from cardmaker.net, so I'm working on getting my stuff from there moved over here as well. I have a Silver Fang archetype that's totally finished (except for lacking artwork of any kind) and I'm working on a very ambitious Mega Man Battle Network project at the moment as well.
  29. 2 likes
    good news after trying some half-hearted fixes, giving up, procrastinating for half a year, building a new computer, and installing but not checking the game, my copy of darkest dungeon works again so failing a massive technical failure on my end the blag will return next week
  30. 2 likes
    BGM: In the Morning Sun - (Pokémon Mystery Dungeon - Explorers of Sky) To an outside observer, it appeared as though the Pokémon were engaging in a cheer or pep rally. But their faces did not display passion, but grim determination and fear. And then, at the last, smiles. Jirachi himself looked wistful, tears falling from his closed eyes. And then, everybody felt. Clobber's hopeful joy, Z.'s satisfaction and anticipation, Noibat's innocent excitement, Chester's proud fulfillment, Es's cheerful camaraderie, Marv's nostalgic affection, and Hector's optimistic gaiety. Mixed in among them was a warm sense of belonging. Though nobody knew which emotions came from whom or what brought them about, they experienced them all the same. The feelings washed over everybody in a dizzying wave that seemed to only amplify their own happiness. And soon, despite their current situation, the world did not seem as dark or as overwhelming as before. Each one of them felt as if they were a star illuminating the night sky. Nothing in the world could put out their light. It seemed only right that they began to actually glow, though the light traveled across their bodies and ended at the badges, which then emitted a blinding effulgence that seemed even more so under the cover of night. At that moment, they could feel a pale cloud surrounding them, growing ever closer. And each knew intuitively that if they were to let it touch them, they too might become washed with its color, as the rest of the world had. But as soon as the light reached it, the haze pushed back before dissipating as mist beneath the morning sun. And then the light expanded, resembling an inflating balloon, enveloping a larger and larger area. Until everybody's foreheads beaded with sweat and the euphoria ebbed away. "Stop," Jirachi's voice awoke them as if from a spell. Their bodies and badges no longer gave off light, but the air seemed purer and the night sky brighter somehow. And then they realized why that was. Without knowing it, perhaps distracted by the task before them, night had come and gone. The black of the sky diluted to a pale blue shot through with streaks of orange. At that moment, everybody there was both exhausted and buoyant. Because they all knew they had succeeded. A mysterious energy protected the entire island from the Mist. Even now, they could still feel it like a static crackle on the skin, but only if they concentrated through the badge. A period of silence ensued. There seemed no need to speak, because they had all shared in the same emotions and success. Finally, however, Jirachi broke the lull. "Thank you, everybody." He sniffled, dabbing at his eyes with his arm-sleeves. "I predicted, of course, that we would succeed, being a genius," he chuckled wryly. "But even genius plans fall through, and… well, I guess it doesn't matter, since we succeeded. ♪" BGM: Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon OST - Partner's Theme The mythical beamed radiantly at the group. "I think I've decided what I want to do now. Everyone, I have a request! ♪" He paused, "I understand that I've already asked a lot, but…" The Pokémon ascended into the air. "As you know, we could only restore the island. While that is an amazing accomplishment, it doesn't change the fact that the Endless Mist still covers the rest of the world." His expression turned determined. "I don't think it's any coincidence that, of all things, the wish gave us badges. These badges were initially used by Rescue Teams, then by the Exploration Guild, then Adventure Squads, and then by the Expedition Society." His voice softened at the last two words before it rose again in conviction. "So I think it's only right that we team up as well." Jirachi hovered in the air. "Though the teams, guild, squads, and society are gone, I want to revive the sentiment of cooperation and hope that started them all. I want to make this world a wonderful place for Pokémon to live in again." Stars seemed to shine in his eyes. "And after what we all experienced, I firmly believe that you can grant this dearest wish of mine. So everybody…" He extended an arm toward the group. "Please unite with me to restore this world and establish the Restoration Union!" OOC: Finally, the long-awaited title drop (sort of)! And more music! The plot is finally starting to move forward, and things are happening! What will you do? What will you say? Is this a "but thou must" scenario? Find out next time, on Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Union of Stars! The host does not guarantee the fulfillment of this promise. Side effects of taking the host at their word may include annoyance, disappointment, and outrage. No Pokémon were harmed in the creation of this post. The words above do not necessarily represent the opinion of the host.
  31. 2 likes
    Belle didn't like the sound of that "nowhere near the worst thing a Pokémon has done," but she also didn't care enough to ask what Quinn meant. "If you say so," she said instead and turned away. She was tired and ready to go home. But she couldn't do that, so she did the next best thing—return to the Pokémon Center. The way back was quiet except for the occasional wild Pokémon. Remembering her earlier loss, Belle bit her lip and sent out Moo to get some training in. The cow seemed to handle most of the Pokémon just fine, which was good, at least. Nate seemed to take their shared interest in the Hoenn Rangers as a sign that they were friends now. Or that she was open to chatting. With a put-upon sigh, the girl replied in short sentences: "Yes," and "fascinating" and "uh-huh," though her irritation subsided eventually as she was drawn into the conversation despite herself. "You mean Littleroot Crimson," she corrected. "And he's not bad. I preferred Pacifidlog Cobalt, myself. She was the coolest, but she was also hyper-aware of how the world saw her. She felt the most realistic out of all the Rangers." Moo didn't have to rest much compared to the others (having done the least amount of battling) but he still benefited from a rest in the center. When everybody was done, Belle approached the other two, agreeing with Nate as she glanced over Quinn's stomach. "It did. I wouldn't overdo it if I were you." She didn't push the subject, however, instead grunting at Nate's last words. She didn't enjoy training (it sounded too much like work), but she also didn't enjoy losing. Which is why she got good at League and Unite. But if she didn't want to lose in actual battles, she had to train. Sabrina had told her that enough times.
  32. 2 likes
    Z. only realized after the fact, after Jirachi’s pure light had enveloped them before anyone else, that screaming in false pain and terror would have been a really good prank. It would have thrown everything off, and caused one extra flinch of realization, but not more than that before they’d get swept away too and land with only mild discomfort. And it was still discomfort. Just because it didn’t hurt didn’t mean Z. had to like the feeling of being displaced. Alas, again, they only thought of all this when they landed at the center of the island and had to watch everyone else’s reactions to landing without the extra bit of playful fear. They didn’t even say anything snarky to Clobber; his fears were already assuaged by Jirachi bringing up the rear in his spell. The plan, as outlined, was a bit whimsical. “Make a wish…” “Think happy thoughts…” It all seemed like something straight out of a play. “Clap your hands if you believe.” But as soon as they thought that, a new set of words floated into their head, seemingly only by association: But release me from my bands With the help of your good hands. Gentle breath of yours my sails Must fill, or else my project fails, They knew where that was from. That was the final monolog of The Tempest. How did they remember that? But the words kept flowing, and Z. found themselves mumbling along. “And my ending is despair, Unless I be relieved by prayer, Which pierces so that it assaults Mercy itself, and frees all faults. As you from crimes would pardoned be, Let your indulgence set me free.“ Their fanfic! Yes, that was where they had used it. Their months- and tens-of-thousands-of-words-long project had ended with that exact ending, a final thanks from the main character to anyone who had read that far. Speaking of indulgence, it was definitely a bit of wankery to have done so. As Z. would later write in Zeta Channel, “If you start referencing other stories, you better make sure you can live up to them. If I see fucking Shakespeare, I’m going to start wondering why I’m not reading Shakespeare instead.” When they got called out about this apparent hypocrisy, they responded, “You think my story wasn’t worth it?” Z. hadn’t responded with the other reason they’d allowed themselves such vanity. In truth, they’d promised themselves exactly that sort of ending to their story from the outset. Even before knowing its quality, even before being able to measure it up against the other submissions to the Creative Writing subforum and find all the rest lacking, it was simply a promise for creative release and satisfaction -- borrowing from the Bard meant they had completed the damn thing in the first place. The laurels that followed never actually mattered. Just finishing it was enough. Jirachi wanted happy thoughts, right? What could be happier than that? Even more recent goings-on had generally been more positive. They were cordial with people who deserved it, after all, which had led to a fair few positive conversations. Even on a selfish level, talking with Hector and Chester had led to their own self-improvement; they were now more confident in their Zoruan ability to mimic other Pokémon. Like they had told Chester, it wasn’t perfect, but it was a marked step up from back in the Mystery Dungeon where half of their attacks had barely worked at all. There were other, negative parts, of course. Z.’s mind briefly drifted through some of them. There was still an inherent lack of trust some of the other forum members seemed to have with each other, and a grudge that didn’t show signs of going away anytime soon. Z.’s eyes fell on the target of their enmity, but they looked away as that Pokémon nearly returned Z.’s stare. There was still nothing to say about that. But Z.’s antics on the forum had gotten them unfairly slapped with the label of “cynic” (they’d tried for “realist”, at least, to massage the pessimism inherent in that label, but it never caught on). They could be happy for some parts of the future, as long as they got a chance to see them. Right, that was the wish Jirachi had asked for. Z. closed their eyes, consolidated every thought they’d had since their arrival at the center of the island into a single phrase, a single image pictured in their head which they held onto with as much mental strength as they could muster, and WISHED.
  33. 2 likes
    Nate inhaled as deep as his lungs would allow the second they stepped foot out of the town. The air was different; lighter, cleaner, carrying the smell of grass and dirt and a dozen others that he couldn’t yet identify. “This is it,” he announced, looking over at his companions. “The first real step in our journey. Isn’t this awesome? I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a kid.” The voice of his parents sprang unbidden to the forefront of his mind. You’re still a kid, his Mom would say. How can you expect to take care of a Pokémon when you can’t even clean your room without being told? Nate fought off a frown. That had never been a fair comparison. His room was organized in the way that made sense to him, his Mom had just never liked it. But telling her that always just caused his Dad to join in on the conversation. You’ll get all the experience in battling you need from the dojo, if you would actually pay attention during your lessons. Now stop talking back to your mother and go clean your room. Always quick to try and force him to be something that he would never be, that was his Dad. Nate had learned not to argue with them; the topic of him going on a Pokémon journey just left him and his parents tense and awkward and never went anywhere productive. That was why he had to run away. They hadn’t left him any choice. At least that was what he had to tell himself, even if he regretted it the first few nights on the boat. All of his self-doubt dissipated when he looked out at the first route. Trainers scouring every inch of tall grass for Pokémon, the tiny little creatures darting back and forth, and more than anything the atmosphere of the area. Wild. Untamed. Full of unpredictability and life and Pokémon and people alike just chasing their dreams. It was so different from the droning monotony of his life in Saffron City, and Nate knew he would never get sick of it. He smiled even wider than he had the moment he stepped off the ship. “C’mon! Let’s go explore!” He whipped out his notebook and flipped it open. “I wanna see if I can find every one of the Pokémon I heard about. Plus I wanna look into this rat-king stuff!” A sudden idea struck the boy. Nate took Peat’s Poké Ball from his belt and clicked the button to release the bear inside. Peat appeared with a yawn, then looked around in confusion until he spotted his trainer. Nate waved at him. “Have a good nap bud?” he asked. The little bear made a noise somewhere between a growl and a bark, then waddled over to bump into his trainer’s leg. Nate reached down to pat him on the head. “Good to see you’re feeling better. We’re out on the first route now bud. I’m gonna explore a bit and maybe start looking for us some new friends. I thought we could get some training in while I do that? How does that sound?” Nate crouched down so the two were at eye level. Peat slapped his fins against the ground and rumbled happily. “Hehe. I knew you’d be up to it. Awesome! Let’s start with that patch of grass over there! I bet there’s some awesome Pokémon hiding in that bush!” Boy and Bearble ran off into the tall grass without another warning. Anyone that followed or looked their way would see Nate and Peat carefully looking through each patch of grass, turning over every single rock they encountered (before carefully returning it to its spot), and at one point Nate even shimmied up the trunk of a tree to check for birds. A Rookidee squawked at him and pecked his hand when he got too close, causing him to fall out of a tree, and Peat roared at the little bird and accidentally blasted it with a swarm of watery-bubbles that pelted its feathery belly. Trainer and Pokémon alike broke into a celebratory happy dance after that. Nate could be heard from at least twenty feet away shouting something about “bubble” and “the strongest” and also "didn't see ratking up there".
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    With her and Anneliese left to the shopping of other assorted items, Jacklyn was smiling looking at all of the wares that the store had to offer. There was any numbers of medicine around, but Jacklyn hardly any idea what they would need a burn heal or antidote for. And she loosely knew what potions were for but all that mattered was not getting injured to have to use them in the first place! As such, the only thing that mattered to Jacklyn at present was getting another member for her team. After all, a pokemon journey was only a real journey when you had a full team to go explore with! And as such, she was sure that she knew just what it was that she had to buy. Walking back to her team members as well, a bag in hand, the girl said, "I'm back! And look what I got!" Anneliese had already shown of her own findings to the other two, as she said, "I also bought a bunch of pokeballs. In fact, lookie here!" Showing the bag to everyone else it was clear that there was a large amount in there. "Ten of them to be exact. But, fufufu, if you think that this is it then you're in for a surprise. Because you see," the girl rifled through the bag before pulling out a white pokeball. "It came with this! An eleventh! They're called Premiere balls I think. I don't really know what's all that special about them and like sure it cost me everything to get one of these but it looks different! Which means it has to be special right?" The girl proudly presented her Premiere ball again, before putting it back in her bag. "So, how'd shopping go for you Anima?"
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    Well... shit. Double shit, in fact. First he was turned down on his perfectly... insane... idea, why was the option that put him at the greatest possible risk of physical harm the one that came to mind for him first? He wasn't trying to die... was he? More... importantly than yet another layer of this steadily building mental breakdown he was going to have in the near future was the fact that Peaches was hurt much worse than he'd initially expected judging by Citron's worry and how the Wyvern was barely able to hold still. He did what he could to listen for the moment, his head steadily throbbing less and less as he recovered from his most recent introduction to the ground. And after he shrugged off his traveling pack, reintroducing it to the ground in the process, he felt a little better. Less weight, less pain, an easier time standing, an easier time thinking and paying attention to them commenting on performing surgery. "Well, it's probably not the same," Edrick said, slowly picking through his words as he knelt, then sat, on the ground beside his pack and got to digging through it, "but I've had a few pointy sticks dug out of me. I... think I can help." He was a little distracted with his fishing through that bag, and eventually found what he was looking for. First out came a whetstone that was very, very well used judging by the concave sides. The second was a beaten up wooden box, which he opened to reveal a trio of very well looked after knives. He had been doing a good bit of the cooking since he'd joined them, and the knives were one of a number of things he brought from his home. "But uh... probably shouldn't... be the one doing any work here." It wasn't exactly pleasant, but Edrick had to accept that right now there wasn't very much he could really do to help. Just hold still, try not to get hurt any more, and let the... actually qualified people do what needed to be done. Whatever was happening in the house he probably couldn't help with at this point. Link was already too far ahead for him to catch, and this... this just had to go without him for right now.
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    Hector frowned at the answer Jirachi provided to his question. There was no way for him to get back home. For a moment, he felt the panic that pooled in his stomach swell into a tidal wave that threatened to sweep him away, to throw him into the deep end of the pool where his feet no longer touched and his emotions consumed him. Why? Why do I need to get back home so badly? What could possibly be that important? He dug deep into his memories, deeper than he had yet dared to venture for fear he would be unable to find his way back out of the mental maze that was his new consciousness. He vaguely remembered private messages with friends he had made on the forum as a kid. Most of the conversation had been about the trading card game. Hector could remember those vividly. He could still feel the crushing disappointment of being unable to attend his first national trading card tournament, but why he had been unable to attend, that remained a blank void in his mind. Why could he not attend the national tournament? Why had he become inactive on the forum? His friends pressed the issue, but much to his chagrin, his past self had remained incredibly vague whenever he was forced to answer. Personal stuff. That's what I said. What could be so personal I wouldn’t tell my friends? He huffed in frustration and stamped his feet. Despite all his best efforts, the introspection revealed nothing he hadn’t already known. His only comfort was found in Jirachi himself. He remained calm and joyful and the aura that he had about him was overwhelming. A blanket of confidence and assurance that everything would be alright… even if he wasn’t sure how. Hector shook his head (a rather funny looking action from the outside considering he was ninety percent head and all six shook simultaneously), then he pushed the thoughts to the back of his mind. It was like Jirachi said. Things would turn out for the best. He had to believe that. His panic had finally started to abate. Then the bombshell dropped. There were to be no friendly faces. No settlements for shelter. No help or guidance in navigating the world they had found themselves in. It was the exact opposite of that. They were supposed to help bring peace back to a world on the brink of an apocalypse. Or post-apocalypse, he corrected himself. If the entire world was already like the Pokémon they had encountered inside of the dungeon, then the world was already largely wiped out. Filled with creatures who knew nothing but pain and fear and violence. The thought made him incredibly sad. Hector stepped forward to the front of the group. He had gathered his thoughts and steeled his resolve. “To be honest, we’ve struggled to get this far. Half of us are only just now starting to learn how to navigate our new bodies, most of us can’t seem to get along or cooperate on even the simplest tasks, and you want us to do what even the most powerful Pokémon in the known world couldn’t. How do you suggest we do that?” he asked bluntly. There was no malintent within his voice, no condescension. Just a genuine question. “Do your powers grant us the same immunity as the rest of the island? Or are we vulnerable to it as well? And how do you expect us to repair a calamity on such a huge scale?” He looked around at the rest of the group through the body of the Brass. The troop of Falinks bundled together and stared up at the Jirachi. “I’ll help. I have no reason not to since I’m already here. But hopefully you can tell us how to start.”
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    BGM: Time Gear - (Pokémon Mystery Dungeon - Explorers of Sky) Jirachi didn't look surprised at the questions it received. It waited for the initial barrage to die down before answering. "You won't want to hear this, but… I don't know!" It twirled in the air with giddy energy. "I just summoned you here. Even though I'm a genius, I'm not sure how or why you all got chosen, or how the spacetime of our two worlds interact. But my intuition tells me that there shouldn't be a problem back in your world, and my intuition is never wrong… except when it is! ♪" It moved from twirls to figure eights, cutting through the air like a bird. "You might think I'm busted, or wonder why the wish chose you of all people, but I don't think the wish chose wrong. It sounds like you all know your current limits. And once you know them, you can go beyond them. That's how life works. You just need to unlock your true potential. I believe in you!" It flew toward Marv. "I like you! You have the right attitude. It is well-known that when the hero's job is done, that's when they can finally reap the reward. In your case, I believe you should be able to go home once everything is done." Elegant spins and cartwheels joined the figure eights. "My pronouns? You know, I think you're only the second person to ask me that!" It danced closer to the Zorua. "Or is it the third?" Though it paused in its speaking, its movements continued unceasingly. "Well, whichever it is, you can call me Jirachi (or Jiji) and I'm a boy! ♪ As for the remaining questions..." The newly revealed male slowed his motions, as graceful as a dancer reaching the coda of their performance. Gradually, he came to a halt, hovering in place and shutting his eyes. All of the Pokémon, even Clobber and Noibat, would feel an energy emanating from the legendary humming through their bodies, down to their very bones. Finally, the energy faded, and Jirachi opened his eyes. They were now as dark as the night sky and clouded by a sorrow that everyone could feel at that moment. The sorrow sharpened into a silvery grief and became so overwhelming that the group almost trembled from the pain of it. But before they did, Jirachi blinked, and the emotion receded like a passing storm. The legendary smiled then. It was the kind of smile only ever seen on the very old, who have lived long lives and experienced things younger people could never hope to imagine. A smile arousing both a desire and a dread to share in those experiences. Jirachi's next words were muted, but no less clear, falling down into their heads like April rain. "A couple of you asked where we are and what we're dealing with. I didn't answer before, but I will now. This is the world of Pokémon, and we are on an island. While the island has no name, it is very important. Because," he paused, "this island is the last remaining bastion of hope for this world." The Pokémon shook his head. "I know it sounds dramatic, but it's true. Once, this world was clean and beautiful, filled with life. Pokémon lived in harmony. They formed settlements and teamed up to go on rescues, explorations, adventures, and expeditions. When I fell into my thousand-year slumber, that's how it was. But when I woke up a few days ago…" He took a shaky breath, closed his eyes, and then opened them. "The world has changed. No longer do Pokémon live peacefully, or even remember a time when that was possible. The earth, seas, and skies have been overtaken by what I call the Endless Mist, or just Mist, because that's what it looks like. An endless mist rolling out over the entire planet and blanketing it in a constant gray cloud. Any Pokémon it touches grows feral, losing all sentience. They become little more than a mindless beast." The wish Pokémon gestured helplessly. "It used to be that only those living in mystery dungeons acted that way. Now, however, only you all, myself, and two others that I know of have kept our sanity. This island is the only safe harbor, cleansed of Mist by the power of my wishes. But that was all I could do by myself. That's where you come in." He nodded at the group. "I believe you all can combat the Endless Mist, and restore the world back to the way it was before."
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    Nate was quick to react. “Dodge it Peat!” The command was superfluous. Once the rodent had slowed down enough that the little bear cub could see him, Peat was quick to spot the danger and attempted to push himself out of the way of the attack. Attempt being the keyword. Peat was still clumsy and uncoordinated on land, and his slippery flippers found no purchase on the street beneath him. He slipped and tumbled forward. Rattata—its focus recently heightened—capitalized on the situation. It rammed its head into Peat’s soft, squishy underbelly, pushing with enough strength and momentum to lift the Bearble off the ground and launch him several feet away. “Ha! See?” the youngster shouted. Nate bit the inside of his cheek and fought down the urge to tell her it was a lucky shot. He knew better than most that every fight had a degree of randomness that had to be accounted for. He crouched down to be closer to Peat, who was struggling to get up by his feet. “Hey bud. You okay?” Peat looked up at him with his little button eyes and snorting, still trying to find his footing. “I thought so. You’re made of tougher stuff than that, huh?” Nate smiled when Peat swelled at the compliment and finally managed to steady himself. “In that case… When I say jump, you jump straight up, alright? We’re gonna finish this fight before he gets another lucky shot like that.” Peat nodded and waddled forward, staring down the Rattata more intensely than Nate had ever seen him look at anyone. Oh yeah. He’s got that fire in him alright. First knock down and he’s finally taking it seriously. Like trainer, like Pokémon. “Now you see why Rattata is the king of this city!” the youngster shouted, throwing her arm forward to gesture at them. “Finish it off with another Tackle, Rattata!” Rattata threw itself forward again. Nate slammed his closed fist into the palm of his hand and shouted, “gotcha! Peat, jump!” Many things could be said about the young Bearble. He was clumsy. He was too curious for his own good. But one thing that was certain was that Peat had total faith in his new trainer. The little bear cub had been crouched and ready to jump from the moment he had waddled away from Nate, his face scrunched up in concentration. The moment that he heard the signal he launched himself into the air with every bit of power he had. Rattata’s eyes widened as its attack missed, the youngster across the field shouted “what?!”, and then the rest of the plan became clear. Peat landed on top of the Rattata when it came down and pinned it to the ground. “Quick! Do the Scratch combo, just like we talked about!” Nate yelled. One-two. One-two. One-two. Peat smacked the pinned Rattata across the face with his flippers repeatedly. His claws were small and not very sharp, but the strength behind the blows was enough that within a few hits Rattata’s head sagged back and its eyes started to swirl. “That’s enough, Peat!” Nate called as soon as he noticed. Peat was mid-swing but Nate raced forward and scooped him off of the little rat. Peat squirmed for a moment before calming down when Nathan’s grip held firm. Rattata disappeared in a flash of red light as Younger Zoe returned it. Nate closed the distance and offered her his hand to shake. “That was a great battle. You and Rattata nearly had us. Right, Peat?” Peat, now looking much calmer, made a noise somewhere in between a grunt and a purr and wiggled his earfins at the girl. Youngster Zoe crossed her arms and huffed. "Urgh, listen here! I'm gonna train so hard, and get all the top Rattata around and show you who the top percentage really is!" Nate grinned and put his hand down. “You’re on,” he said. “Until then you can tell everyone about the time you almost beat the future-champion of Korova.” Younger Zoe huffed one more time and then she was gone. As soon as she was out of sight, Nate spun around and threw Peat several feet into the air. “WE DID IT!” he yelled to the heavens. He caught Peat as he came down and buried his face into the cub’s mossy fur. It was always damp and smelled like seaweed, but Nate was so caught up in the moment that he barely noticed. “You did amazing! I can’t believe you got up from that tackle! Rattata was all like, BOOM, but then you got up and you jumped and it was like, BAM! RING THE BELL! MATCH OVER!” Peat roared and rumbled and wiggled his body from the tips of his ear fins all the way to his rear flippers. The two of them continued to dance around and be totally over the top loud until Nate realized they were drawing attention to themselves. He put Peat on the ground and reached for his Poké Ball. “I’m gonna return you until I can get to a Pokémon Center,” he said. Peat grunted his protest but Nate pushed on. “No way. Fight hard, rest hard. That’s the golden rule. You earned a rest, alright?” Nate scratched him behind the ear fins one more time. “I’ll let you out tonight and get you some good food and we’ll celebrate even more then. You did awesome bud.” Peat protested for a few more minutes but eventually caved and vanished into his Poké Ball. Nate clipped it to his belt and started walking, hands behind his head and looking up at the sky. The smile on his face never once faltered. Life was good. He had won his first battle. He had the greatest Pokémon in the world. And he was on his way to a Pokémon Center. Except… “Excuse me. Do you know where the Pokémon Center is?” he would ask the first passerby he saw, feeling very stupid for not following his opponent when had the chance.
  39. 2 likes
    In a moment of characteristic weakness, Anima had hoped that Jacklyn would have brought with her a bit of… Reason, to the discussion; that the approach of their third adventurous third would dissuade Anneliese from wasting her money-- Only for them to have fallen into the same tourist-trap pitfalls, even if to a lesser extent. “W-Well, the stamp, does look nice,” Anima did her best to smile encouragingly, only to… Pause, as something Anneliese said seemed to process in the recesses of her mind, prompting her to release her bag with her left hand, so as to bring it in front of her mouth. “...What… Are funds?” she’d repeat, cocking her head to the side as she stared at the girl she was traveling with, growing distress evident on her face. “N-No! Jacklyn, don’t encourage her-” she spoke in an uncharacteristically worried tone, before turning back to face Anneliese. “Anneliese, you… You do… You do know what money is, right?” she’d stammer, tightening her grip on the other girl’s hand, rather than simply letting it be held. “You do know what money is, right?! I- I only have enough money for one person…!” she’d exclaim, distress evident in her voice as it mixed with an eerie wail from her bag as she practically shook. "Of course I do. That's what father and mother use to get things." “Then why did you ask what funds were?!” Anima asked, the distress fading from her voice slowly; slower than she would have liked, that was for sure. “Money is-- Er, funds are the money you have on yourself-- You know that, right? You- You have some money on you, right?” she'd ask, a terrible, sneaking suspicion gnawing at the back of her mind. "Of course I don't. Father and mother have the money and I couldn't very well ask them before I left." “I… I see,” Anima would almost visibly deflate, before looking towards the shopkeeper, and then back towards Anneliese. “Then… Unfortunately, um… until we find a way for you to, uh, make money, you’re not going to be able to get a souvenir like the spoon,” she’d explain, her voice almost sounding pained as she tried to explain it. “I’ll, er… I’ll cover your supplies at the department store today, but… Um… That means I’ll need to budget it a bit more, but… I, suppose I can probably manage that,” she murmured, releasing one of Anneliese’s hands, as she began to trail off to catch up to Jacklyn; still intent on dragging the girl with her, as long as she didn’t protest. Regardless of whether Anneliese behaved or not, Anima would eventually arrive just as Jacklyn was saying something about ‘a thousand steps’ and an ‘egg’; clearly an over exaggeration, at least… She hoped it was, if any of them came across eggs later on. “Right,” she’d agree with Jacklyn, smiling as she once again adjusted her bag, cocking her head to the side. “A, er, guide…” she trailed off, still mentally trying to run the budget in her mind so that she could get items for both herself and Anneliese. “Do you… Know what a guide like that might, er… Look like?” she’d ask, completely out of her depth as far as going to a large store like this was concerned. “I’m afraid I, er… mostly only ever went to the Pokemart back home, so I'm not super familiar with a store this, uh...” she rubbed the side of her neck. "Large."
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    Nate pumped his fist. “I owe you one. Both of you,” he said, flashing both of his companions a smile so bright it could have been mistaken for a beacon. “You got most of it. Poké Balls, potions, antidotes, and whatever else you guys think we might need. I brought a sleeping bag from home so I’m good there. So probably just food and water and that sort of thing?” He rummaged in his pocket and pulled out a coin pouch in the shape of a Snorlax’s head and handed it to Quinn. “Here. Just put anything leftover into the group stuff. Feel free to use it all, if you gotta. Is there anything else…?” He blew a stream of air out of pursed lips and looked up at the sky. “Hmm… I think that’s all. So… ifyouguysdon’tneedanythingelseI’llseeyasoon!” The words spilled out so fast that they would be near impossible to make out. There would be no chance for clarification, either, because Nate rushed off immediately to face the youngster that had challenged the group. “We’re not tourists.” Nate tossed Peat’s Poké Ball up and down softly as he talked. His smile seemed permanently plastered to his face. “We came here to take on the Gym Challenge. My friends can be a little… different… but I promise we’re all tough. And we’re gonna prove it to everyone in Korova, starting with you!” He pressed the button on the ball and Peat appeared on the street. First only as a red silhouette of energy, but it filled in to reveal a dark blue bear cub with mossy fur and fins in place of paws. Peat sat back on his hind legs, snuffled the air a few times, then cocked his head to look at Nate. More training? He seemed to ask. “Not this time pal. This time it’s the real deal! Our very first battle. You ready for this?” Nate bounced from foot-to-foot. He seemed ready to break into a dead sprint. Peat immediately leaned forward to stand on all fours. He roared (as well as a young cub could roar) a challenge and started to waddle forward. He only made it a few steps before a blur of purple and white slammed into him and sent him sliding back to Nate’s feet. “Hey! That was a cheap shot!” Nate protested. Youngster Zoe stuck her tongue out at him and said something about dumb tourists and Korovans always being prepared. “I see how you wanna play it. Use Growl Peat!” Peat had clambered up to find his footing again. The attack seemed to have done little more than disorient him, and having grounded himself, he slapped his fins into the street and rumbled an admittedly higher-pitched growl towards the Rattata. It shrank back a little bit but didn’t retreat. “Use Quick Attack again Rattata!” “Scratch, Peat!” Rattata lunged forward and bowled into Peat again. The attack pushed the bear cub back a few inches, but did not have nearly the same effect as the first blow had. Peat tried to return fire with a smack from his claw-toting fins, but Rattata darted away before it could make contact. The Younger seemed more than pleased with her success. “See? You’re too slow! None of you are even gonna leave a scratch on Rattata!” Peat clawed his fins into the street and wiggled in frustration. Nate frowned. “Rattata are all real fast Peat. Just keep your cool bud.” Peat looked back at his trainer for a split second. In that time, the Youngster yelled for another Quick Attack. Nate watched the little rat intensely. It reared back and gathered all its weight on its hind legs, muscling bunch up, and then--it vanished. Peat yelped. Nate whipped his head toward him just in time to see the purple blur darting away again as his own starter stumbled backwards. He felt helpless watching the little bear struggle. “Hang in there Peat! Use Growl!” Peat shuffled forward and rumbled at the Rattata once again. It shrank down further. Nate could tell that it was fighting against its own instinct, to run from a bigger and tougher Pokémon. That was good at least. It meant that it was holding back a bit whenever it attacked. “Don’t be scared of him Rattata! Use Quick Attack again!” the youngster called. Rattata bunched back on his hind legs and prepared to lunge forward to attack. Nate recognized the signs the second time. “Peat! Get your guard up!” Peat tried to drop his head to shelter them with his legs, but he was too slow. Rattata hit him again and sent him stumbling towards his trainer. Nate clenched his fist into his pants legs. His blood was pumping just like it did in his own matches. Think. Think. Think. This is my first test as a trainer. Just think of it like a boxing match. What would I do if my opponent was too fast to react to? The answer was obvious. Watch the hips and shoulders and the feet. Look for them to telegraph their move and react to it before they throw it. Peat isn’t experienced enough to do that though. We’ve only done drills. Unless… Nate crouched down to be on the same level as Peat. His starter was only a couple feet in front of him at this point, and when he crouched down, the little cub turned to look at him curiously. Another wave of guilt washed over Nate when he saw how hard Peat was breathing. “Hey. You’re doing great, okay? We just gotta mix it up. When I give the word I want you to Scratch straight in front of you as hard as you can. Alright? Don’t worry about watching Rattata.” Peat’s little black eyes shined like buttons. That was always his reaction to anything Nate said about training. His faith still sometimes overwhelmed the boy. Nate steeled his nerves and pushed himself back to his feet. “Hey! Stop talking so much!” the youngster shouted. “Use Quick Attack Rattata!” Nate watched the Rattata more closely than he had ever watched anything. He could see its whiskers twitching in response to the command. He could hear the loose asphalt of the street sliding as the Rattata started to move. He could see when the little rat leaned back onto his hind legs to prepare to dash--”NOW PEAT!” Peat wiggled his nose in confusion but did not hesitate to swipe at the air with his fin. It made contact with a purple-and-white blur that seemed to materialize out of thin air, and sent said blur flying back the way it had come. Rattata bounced off the ground and rolled once before managing to find its footing. It was panting heavily now too. Nate whooped with joy and leapt a foot off the ground. “You did it! Good job Peat! I knew you could do it!” Peat slapped the street with his fins and then reared up on his hind legs and adorably roared his victory to the sky. Nate had to resist the urge to rush forward and sweep the little cub up into a hug. The youngster stomped her foot and shouted, “the battle isn’t over! You just got lucky!” Rattata immediately launched forward into an attack. Nate shouted a warning and Peat sent the Rattata sprawling again. Nate thought Zoe seemed a little bothered that time. She pointed forward and said, “oh yeah! Well we have another trick up our sleeve! Use focus energy Rattata!”
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    Belle thought about getting up. She really did. But that would require effort, and effort was not a word the girl cared to hear. Or say. Or imagine. So while she thought about getting up, it was a transient thought. A bubble rising to the surface of her brain and popping before it could so much as stir the waters of her imagination. Nate was shouting something. He was a loud person; a high-energy type that encouraged his companions to emulate him. Exhausting to be around. Very different from their first meeting, vomiting his guts out over the side of the ship. Unlike Belle, he had bounced back from his bout of seasickness like a Spoink. It just went to show that the world was unfair and there was no God. Belle would've avoided Nate and his unfair health, were it not for him helping her multiple times while on the ship. When she needed hydration, he was there with a drink. When she was too sick to move, he walked her to her cabin. So her feelings balanced equally at gratitude and regret. Time would tell which would weigh heavier in the future. There was a poke on her arm. At first, Belle thought it was the little bear Nate had chosen as his starter. Back on the ship, it had snuffled into her arm. She had ignored it, though its nose really was very ticklish, and unfortunately, Belle was the ticklish sort. Not that she would ever let anybody know. But it was Quinn this time, not the bear. Belle groaned out loud, mentally raising a white flag. "Fine, I'll get up." She let Nate pull her back to her feet and accepted the lemonade. Belle then stared at Quinn with a weary wariness. The third member of the group, and an absolute weirdo. Coming from Belle, that was saying something. The person (if one could even attribute that word to them) had made it clear just how weird they were from the start. The two first met while Belle lay on a chair, recovering from a recent storm (and the subsequent tossing of the ship). Most passersby would ask if she was okay. Quinn poked Belle and asked if she was also a ghost lingering on the mortal plane. Belle had taken the comment in stride, unable to do much else in her condition. But now, with her stomach not distracting her so much, she could finally parse that sentence (and the others) with the care they deserved. This… person (or ghost, whatever) was a weirdo. There. Analysis done. Nothing more. Or at least, Belle would like to end it there. But Quinn was… peculiar. Unusual enough for Belle to wonder if they were a ghost, after all. Belle was an internet guru and knew that ghosts weren't just of the ectoplasmic variety. Quinn could be a half-ghost, an evil spirit, or something else. Sometimes, Belle wished she had honed her psychic powers more, or at least directed her attention to matters beyond telekinesis. Then she could say for sure. But that would have meant effort, and as mentioned before, effort was not a word one could associate with the girl. Speaking of effort, walking. Belle managed several more steps, gaining confidence that she would, in fact, be able to walk without falling over. A momentous occasion soured by the appearance of a girl in shorts shouting about a Pokémon battle. Again, effort. Not something Belle was partial to. She took a sip of lemonade (not gulps, because she didn't need her stomach turning over itself again). With that done, she waved at Nate. "I'm fine. In fact, I have an idea." The girl coughed, throat raw from throwing up so often on the ship. "You can 'claim dibs' on all of my fights for me. Sounds like a win/win situation." The strange girl had a point, though. Belle needed a change of clothes. Badly.
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    It was odd, to be honest. Throughout Marshall’s life, there were always arguments over what ‘death’ meant for each person; it was strange having an answer. Then again, she knew this answer would be less than satisfying for most, but what could she say? There was nothing. It was a peaceful nothing; a nothing that she almost understood this time, that she almost accepted. After all, this nothing had rescued her from the gouging pain that had so prompted her entry into the darkness; this nothing had rescued her from the acute knowledge of every organ in her body, as it screamed out in pain from the lance that had embedded itself in her flesh-- But as with all sweet-nothings in death, that too came to an end, as a voice followed. As a voice showed her something. A dragon was born. A star was born. A world was born. It seemed, she had an answer to the question of creation as well now. Marshall awoke with a sigh, as she found herself slumped down on the ground, and once again assaulted by the existence of sensations. There were small things; the feeling of her clothes as they clung to her body. The uncomfortable feeling where she had begun to wear a hole through her shoe, though it hadn’t quite come to be yet. The rough ground against her face, and the rest of her body. The feeling of air as it passed through her mouth, through her lungs. The light as it assaulted her eyes with a sudden fervor, the overwhelming might of the light reinforced by that of sound as Sabrina asked question after question; and good questions as they were, they were still a lot. She would have to process them later. With another sigh, Marshall slowly rolled herself onto her side, and then sat up, cracking her neck, and then her back. Blinking one eye and then another, she slowly pushed herself to stand up, stretching her arms for a moment, before crouching back down. “...Good then,” she spoke, clearing her throat as she picked her hat up off the ground, before rising back to her full height, turning to regard the others as she placed her cap back on her head, and adjusted it. “...I’m glad to see that my previous hypothesis about life and death rings true in these tests as well, Dispatcher,” she nodded towards River with a faint smile For how simple a question it is River seems to ponder it for a moment. “My Lady is certainly responsible for your current state of being, though I believe the return of your hat is more a product of your own doing.” “...I see,” Marshall nodded, crossing her arms. “...I suppose then, that it’s similar to our weapons?” she asked, the idea sparking off in her mind. “Where, since they are a part of us, their physical form is shaped by our self perception? And in that way, our clothes and appearance are as well?” The girl smiled and nodded. “Yes very similar. As I had mentioned, identity is a very important part of the soul, and both the concept of wearing clothes and these clothes in particular must have some importance on your own identity. So rest assured that no matter how damaged or lost your clothing becomes it shall always return to you, in a similar way to how your body will always retain the same shape after being healed.” Marshall seemed to pause, as if taking this information in for a moment, before nodding. “...That makes some sense, then,” she nodded. “Thank you for your time, Dispatcher,” she brought a hand back up to her hat, and gave another slight nod towards River, before turning her attention back to the others. “...I suppose I should add to this; good work. I wasn’t able to see it, but judging by the fact that I have returned, I’d like to thank you all for dispatching our remaining foes in a timely manner,” she’d explain, tucking her arms behind her as she spoke, a faint, almost proud-looking smile on her face.
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    Clobber didn't really notice what was happening around him. He was laser focused on getting to the water and washing up. He had to stay focused so he didn't end up freaking ou- didn't end up getting annoyed at everyone being so damn stupid all the time. He DID notice when the small bat Pokemon landed nearby....with a coconut of all things. "Wait there really was one of...forget that don't go hurting yourself for a damn, uh, fruit?" He wasn't about to waste time trying to figure out what a coconut actually was. "Anyway, here lemme..." he reached out for the coconut, saw the clump of dirt still stuck to his fist, and pulled back. "On second thought you hold onto it for a bit I'm gonna wash this off me first. Then, I dunno, I probably can crack it open." He glanced over at the group and sighed. "Maybe a snack will get em to stop actin' up." He began to finally wash off the dirt when suddenly a voice that was growing more familiar spoke in his mind. "As I'm sure you've all figured out, this place you've all found yourselves in is the world of Pokémon. And it's my fault you're here. At least… I think so. This world is in trouble. And I made a wish upon the stars to save it. Right after, you all showed up! Since I am a genius, I just know that there is a connection. You seven (or twelve) must be the heroes this world needs!" Well that wasn't that surprising. No, it was hella surprising, but it made some amount of stupid sense that the wish Pokemon would have been able to pull something crazy like this off. At least he knew that it wasn't his own wish that brought him here, he wouldn't want something like this right? "Tch, heroes, no way someone like me is a hero. That Jirachi must be busted or somethin' if they landed on me with their wish." He hadn't realized he said it out loud at first. He also didn't know where it had come from. What even was someone like him? He didn't really know much about what he was like. The only memories he had mainly involved arguing and posting then removing failed attempts at art. Which he supposed was not really the stuff of legends in the slightest. He glanced over at the Noibat. "Guessing you don't got any idea about why any of us would be chosen do ya?" He glanced at the coconut. "And hand that over, I'll take it, doesn't look like you'll be able to do much with it yourself."
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    “One-two.” Thump-thump. “One-two.” Thump-thump. Anyone watching the boy on the deck of the ship could have been forgiven for believing that he simply never learned to count higher than two. Everyone aboard the ship would have seen him standing around and waving about two rubber pads he had strapped to his hands; he had done it every day since boarding. “One-two.” Thump-thump. “Really put your body into it, Peat, don’t be afraid to follow through.” Most would have gathered that Peat was the mossy blue bear Pokémon that was always hitting the pads, re-contextualizing the boy’s actions as training. Other things that marked the boy as a Pokémon Trainer—aside from his Pokémon—were the iconic Poké-Belt with a minimized PokéBall clipped to it, his very practical manner of dress, and the PokéDex he sometimes whipped out of his pocket to stare at. Thump-thump. Peat struck the pads, one after the other, with the flats of his fins. Nathan shook his hands in the fashion one did when trying to shake-off a papercut, yet he was grinning down at Peat. “See how much stronger that was? That’s how you do it! Just about knocked my hands off!” He unstrapped the pads and let them hang loosely from his wrists, crouching down and patting Peat on the head. The cub excitedly tackled him to the ground and began pressing his snout into his trainer’s chest. Nate tumbled backwards onto the deck, laughing the whole time. “Hey! Careful! With how strong you’re getting, you keep bowling into me like that and you’re gonna have to find a new trainer!” Peat made a high-pitched chattering sound deep in his chest that was reminiscent of a running motor. Nate giggled and playfully wrestled his starter off of him, shoving him back onto the deck. “I’m serious! With how much weight you’re putting on—Peat?” Nate cut himself off when he noticed his starter waddling off towards the stern of the ship. “Where you goin’?” he shouted after him, but it was too late. Nate scrambled to his feet, shoved the punching mitts into his backpack, and chased after the runaway Pokémon. “I was kidding about the weight, bud! It’s all muscle! You’re not really gonna flatten me into a pancake! Come back!” Even with the head start, Nathan was much faster than the naturally aquatic Bearble. He caught up just in time to see Bearble finally coming to a stop beside a kneeling figure. Nate wasted no time in darting over to see if he could help. “Yo, you okay?” he asked. Then, after getting a closer look, he realized that he recognized the figure. “Belle? Seasickness is still bothering you, huh?” He had actually met her in a very similar situation. They had boarded the ship on the same day, and both of them had spent the first few hours puking off the side of the boat. His own sickness had thankfully gone away after the first day. It appeared that hers hadn’t. Nate wasn’t sure why but he felt somewhat responsible for helping her. He felt guilty, bouncing back so fast while she was still suffering. Peat also seemed determined to help. The cub pressed his nose into her arm until she was forced to acknowledge them. Nate took the opening to grab her hand and pull her to her feet, slinging her arm around his shoulder when she proved unable to support her own weight. “Don’t worry. I got you. I think it’s time for us to get off, anyways, so how about I help you off the boat? I’m sure you’ll feel better then.” He paused only long enough to return Peat to his PokéBall. The little bear hadn’t yet learned how to navigate crowds, and had a tendency to trip people or get stepped on, so Nate had taken to returning him whenever they had to travel in busy places. It didn’t take long to get off the boat. Belle was heavier than she seemed, but Nate was also a lot stronger than he seemed. Nate let her remove her arm from around his shoulder and hold her own weight once they were far enough onto land. A man with glorious facial hair that had Nate longingly stroking his own cheeks, wondering when he would be able to grow something like that, welcomed them to the city. Nate very nearly cheered with excitement. “Finally! We finally made it to Korova! This is the first step in our journey. Can you believe that, Bel—BELLE?!” Nate rushed over to her side and pulled her back to her feet. He was careful to stay close enough to catch her if she were to fall again. “Here,” he said, pulling a bottle of lemonade out of his backpack. “Drink this. You’ll feel better. You’re probably dehydrated after being sick for so long.”
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    Hector very nearly inserted himself into Z. and Es' spat as a mediator, purely out of habit, but decided against it. They were both—from what he gathered—adults, he was no longer a moderator, and this was no longer an internet forum dedicated to a children's card game. They both needed to act their age and settle their own disputes. "No hard feelings," he said to Jirachu, ignoring the argument nearby. "I can be pretty grumpy in the mornings too." Hector wasn't sure if that was true. His memories of his teenage years were the most clear to him, when getting out of bed involved a lot of grumbling and groaning, but vague memories of extremely early mornings made him wonder if he had outgrown that. Jirachi spoke again before he could think on it much more. Something about explaining things. Then—then the voice that had guided them throughout the cave echoed in his head. Hector very nearly stumbled backwards in shock, but he had mastered his body enough to find his footing before he fell. "The voice from the cave," he mumbled. It was obvious now that he thought about it. The wind, the telepathy, Jirachi having already used their wish... Of course Jirachi had been the one to bring them here. Who else possibly could? Hector was shocked to find that the realization made him angry. Something told him that he could not afford to be here. That there was something, someone, some place that desperately needed him there. That something would go terribly wrong if he was gone for very long. It had been a tiny, niggling thought in the back of his head since had first woken up in that cave, but now it was all he could think about. It dominated his every thought. He took a deep breath to steady himself. "How do we get back? How long have we been gone?" Hector did his best to project a calm front, but the fact that all six voices spoke at once was a dead give away to how anxious he was. He focused harder. "I'd be more than happy to help. Honestly, I think this would have been a dream come true at one point. But I'm not a kid anymore. There's... I'm not sure, but I know there's something back home that needs me there. Something really bad is going to happen if I'm gone too long."
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    BGM: Awakening - Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX The Pokémon continued to blink, and for a few seconds, it looked like an owl. But then it stopped, revealing doll-black eyes. But unlike doll eyes, these shone with a light and life that could not belong to anybody but a living creature, and a happy one at that. A wide smile stretched its face as it cheered. "Whoa-a-a-a! Hey now! My eyes are wide open!" No longer mumbling, but using the full force of its vocal cords, everybody would realize where they had heard this voice before (if they hadn't already): their helpful guide in the mystery dungeon. It stretched its arms then. First the left one, and then the right one. "Huh? Oh, you're all awake!" It paused. "You know, I just saw you in my dream! In my dream, you were… engaged in a heroic battle. Or some of you were." It bobbed up and down in the air. "Whoa! That's so strange… Feels like I've had this happen to me before. Where people from my dreams appear in front of me…" It giggled. "Fancy that! ♪" In the brief (and likely dumbfounded) silence that followed, the Pokémon turned its attention to Z., "You know, in my dream, you said some pretty mean things. But… since it was a dream, I won't hold it against you!" Then it twirled in the air, catching sight of Es and Hector. "Whoa! You're not looking so great. But don't you worry, I'll Wish away your aches and sorrows." The goofy grin disappeared then. And at that moment, the entire group would feel the lack of it, as if the sun's light had grown a little dimmer. But not just dimmer. The entire area darkened in a false night. Even the outside sounds disappeared as the Pokémon clasped its hands together and closed its eyes in concentration. Not long after, a single glowing yellow star descended from the heavens. It circled around Es and Hector, and then spread out to circle the entire group, but touched nobody. And if anybody reached for it, it would wink out of existence, reappearing in a twinkle as soon as they gave up. Eventually, it stopped its spinning to climb back into the sky, stopping directly above everybody's heads. Then it exploded into multicolored lights, sizzling like a firework. But the flash of light brought with it not a searing burn as expected, but a gentle warmth like that of a candle in the darkness. At that moment, all pain evaporated, and all lost energy returned. The closest comparable feeling would be that of awakening from a long, restful sleep during a midsummer vacation, with no school or work to worry about. The group could bask in that feeling for a few seconds. Then, as if beckoned by the star’s disappearance, the daylight and surrounding noise returned with a vengeance. The Pokémon opened its eyes, a slow smile spreading across its face, separating its hands to spread them wide. "All better now, right? All right! ♪" Not even waiting for them to reply, it twirled in the air again. "Before you all say anything, and I know you all must have a lot to say, I have a question of my own!" It turned to Marv. "Weren't you different before? And… wasn't there one more of you?" It paused, shaking its head. "Or… never mind. I wasn't actually there with you, so I must've… made a mistake?" Its bell-like voice rose in pitch from confusion. The entire group would share this confusion, their thoughts and memories scattered like dewdrops under the sun. But the gloom didn't stick around for long. Because the next second, the Pokémon had returned to its beaming countenance. "Well, whatever! If I can't remember, it must not be that important." It giggled. "Before I forget this too, I'll introduce myself. My name is Jirachi! But you can call me… Jirachi! ♪" OOC: Okay, this is the actual start of the round. I say round, but since there is no fighting, a round isn't really necessary. Just post what you want, when you want, and if you want to post again before I post, go for it! I also might not wait for everybody to post before posting since this is mostly interaction, and so my posts will probably be interaction posts.
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    It was a blur, in more ways than one. Marv heard the howling wind, felt it…it was intense, like he was experiencing a massive tornado or even a hurricane. It came out of nowhere but practically ravaged them all like a wild animal, feral and bloodthirsty. To say Marv's heart was beating miles a minute was an understatement…he honestly felt like he was going to collapse from a heart-attack. Everything else was fuzzy, as his vision played tricks on him…or did it? He could've swore he saw a portal open and…a Pokémon of some sort…and a human? He reached out for it, didn't he? Cause that was -----...he did want to at least make sure that ----- was alright... But was that what he was doing? Then…it all went black for Marv. The wind was the thing that caused Marv to stir, though it was a calm awakening versus the monstrous beast that whisked them from their previous location. No, this seemed more like a parent's tender touch to wake their child. It was something Marv did not mind, as he stirred himself awake. The surroundings seemed more colorful than the stone dungeon that had been their first awakening experience. The hot sun, the soft grass, the cool breeze, a blue sky and a few palm trees stretching above them. It was a beautiful picture that lay before them, at least, from what Marv could see. There wasn't any urban noise, which meant civilization wasn't around much…which was both a plus and a negative. The plus being, it was more peaceful and quiet. The negative being, they didn't know how far civilization was…and they needed that at least, especially if they wanted food. Marv finally began to sit up, no longer wishing to stare up at the blue sky, as he rubbed a hand over his face. He paused, looking at his hand. It was a white hand with blue…that…was right, right? He shuffled himself upward and began to hop…wait…hop? Regardless, he hopped until he found himself a small spot where water was. Looking down, he saw his reflection: a Froakie. He recognized the Kalosian starter, but was he always a-... His eyes went blank, his thoughts began to mist over. It was like he went into a sort of trance-like state. It lasted a bit before finally snapping out of it, though Marv then ended up wondering just one thing. …what…was I just thinking about? Once he got himself situated, he noticed Hector, Es and the aptly named Clobber (he at least remembered the little brawling octopus requested to be named that) looking at a… "Wait…is that…?" Marv muttered, tilting his head, looking at the white and yellow Pokémon. There wasn't any mistake. Once again, he hopped in the direction of the others, trying to make sense of the strange thing. “Hello? Are you awake? Did you bring us here?” “If so! Watch it, b-b-b-buddy! Unlike some of my friends here, I’ve got a br-brain, and can only t-t-t-take so many blows to the noggin!" "Oh yeah? Really coulda fooled me. Surprised you don't think they're dead, too." "Seemed like a bit of an insult…but maybe was meant as a compliment?" Marv shrugged. He looked at the three, before looking at the sleeping Pokémon. "And I'm not sure this little guy did it…unless they wished us out." The Froakie looked at the others, before explaining. "...they did a whole Poll back on the forum. Was a popularity contest…I think…but this little guy popped up. It's Jirachi. Soooo the odds of meeting a Mythical are…kinda high." He glanced at Clobber, seeing his face basically still covered in dirt. "By the way…yooooou want me to clean you up? Got something…right about here…" Marv motioned with his hand over his whole face, showing Clobber where the dirt happened to be.
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    Anchor Roy Biff, face all red and hands clenched tight around the back of the chair he was leaning on, looked to the world like he was about to throw something -- hands, Sarah, the chair, whatever. Still, he managed to take a few deep breaths before responding to Override’s question. “Not an apostle, then?” he said. “That’s fine. But Lailah’s like every other holy leader Scarlet City has had, so I would have assumed you’d have been able to make some extrapolations.” “She is different,” Sarah chimed in. “She’s quieter than most. And -” “Thank you, Sarah,” Roy said. “It’s true that she’s quiet, but she’s quiet in that ‘wisdom’ sort of way, not in the ‘shy’ sort of way. And she’s not a gang leader. She’s not going to bite your head off if you look at her funny. Here, you want an itemized list of instructions? Do: keep Aeon in check because I worry she’s going to take that last as a challenge -- don’t look at me like that Aeon, you know you are.” He gave the hero in question a wry grin. “Do: be on your guard in case this big meeting goes pear-shaped. Lailah’s current church isn’t that far from Goodale Park so we might need you elsewhere to assist. And don’t, under any circumstances -” He paused, and frowned. “Mustard,” he said. “French or Dijon?” Sarah asked. Roy wheeled around to face Sarah and made a wordless gesture that could only mean, “Does it really matter?” to which Sarah just shrugged and exaggeratedly drew a question mark in her notes. When Roy returned his focus to the actual briefing he’d clearly lost his train of thought and had to move on. “You had better get going,” he said, “before the situation gets even worse.” We Live on a Fucking Planet Baby That’s The Sun One of the central tenets of the Zorrastran faith was that no one church was more important than any other. Whether it was smack dab in the middle of Scarlet City or out in the ruins with a wall practically aligning with the Shimmer, they each had unique quirks that made them stand out. To ascribe value to any one such quality of a church would be to diminish the other qualities, that was the teaching. To that end, no one church could house the Archangel for any significant length of time. Lailah lived the life of a nomad, a wanderer going between churches as she saw fit. They were obligated to house her, of course -- though they would have even without the laws of the church dictating as such -- and she presided over the weekend ceremonies, giving a few remarks if asked before moving on a week or two later. The church she’d ended up at for the first week of November was just outside the Short North area called the Church of the Sacred Harp. The lot used to contain a school building, but that had been torn down decades, if not centuries ago to make room for the large X-shaped building, one with an altar in the middle and rows of pews extending outward in each cardinal direction. At the end of each arm of the X was a scene depicted in stained glass telling the story of Zorro and Astra’s battle with Nil. The door under the scene showing the two, victorious, banishing Nil from the city, and yet with Nil’s final machinations looming overhead, was unlocked as Sibyl arrived, though before she could get a chance to take in too much more of the scenery, she was approached by the church’s pastor. “Welcome,” they said. “You’re a bit earlier than we were expecting but the Archangel Lailah is upstairs and should be ready for your appointment.” A pause. “Although, weren’t there supposed to be two of you? It doesn’t matter, I suppose. If you would just follow me.” The upstairs had a few more pews to view any sort of church service, but was mostly an office space, where the church took care of the various administrative tasks required of it. It was an open office, without walls or cubicles separating the two computers, refrigerator, or, yes, the cot where the Archangel Lailah lay, looking up at the ceiling. At the ceiling? No. In fact, Lailah’s eyes followed two globules of light, each no bigger than an apple, as they danced weightlessly around in the air. It took a prod or two from the pastor for her to even notice Sibyl’s entrance, and the woman scrambled up to a sitting position on the cot, brushing down her costume to something expected of her station. The orbs of light shifted their position as well -- they now flanked Lailah on her left and right. Her eyes fell on Sibyl and she smiled warmly. “Ah, my friend,” she said, revealing herself as someone who called everyone her friend whether she knew them or not, “how are you? Welcome. How may I be of service?” To the pastor, she added, “Thank you, you may leave us now.” OOC
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    Intermission: Mayor Sam Gladwell When he had gone to bed Halloween evening, Scarlet City’s mayor, one Samuel Gladwell, had done so at a reasonable hour. That was a word that he hoped people associated with him -- with his political career, with his friends, with himself as a person. Mayor Sam Gladwell was one reasonable human being. As that was the sort of person he was, he had assumed that nothing would wake him up until the reasonable time that his alarm went off. Instead, he had been awake since about one in the morning dealing with crisis after crisis. It was approaching one am again now, and he still wasn’t home. He was currently running on three cups of coffee, a hastily-eaten sandwich, and a fifteen-minute power nap someone had afforded him twelve hours ago now. Perhaps it had just been one constant crisis -- the riots, two of the three major gangs of the city deciding that now of all times was the perfect time to get back at each other, coordinating a massive memo chain between the mayor’s office and the Peacekeepers, not to mention responding to the press, especially so close to election day. This could easily be his legacy. If the situation was handled poorly, it would be all anyone would remember of him. Well, that, and the world would end. But as it all crumbled and fell apart, they would blame him then. Things were finally quieting down though. Most of the lower-level staff had been dismissed at five, anyone else deemed non-essential had left a few hours later, and coordinators like Director Sekelsky were foreseeing no more immediate issues. He’d even dismissed his bodyguards. He was alone now, with a single light to keep him company. He looked up. That single light was enough to illuminate his desk, yes, but he could see even outside the light’s expected radius. It didn’t just go away. Even when he closed his eyes, the light was still there. Mayor Gladwell turned the light off and allowed his thoughts to wander a bit more. The election was on his mind. His opponent was a businessman named John Fipp. There was a moment in the town hall mayoral debate where, after a spirited back-and-forth about the minutiae of various policies (and a little bit of name-calling -- Sam was willing to admit some of the blame on that front even if “That’s such a lie, they should call you ‘John Fib’” was a very strong line), a middle-aged gentleman stepped up to the microphone and asked the candidates to say one thing they liked about each other. It was a common enough question, one Mayor Gladwell and his debate team had even prepared for. He’d stayed on script for that one, pushing Fipp’s qualities as a businessman and how he clearly cared for Scarlet City. Fipp responded by reiterating the actual substance of the debate to that point. “They say, ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff,’ because that’s the mayor’s job. If I am elected, do you think I’ll suddenly push sweeping changes and make everything worse? Of course not. Nothing is going to fundamentally change. I respect Mayor Gladwell and I respect the time he has spent leading our city, I just think it’s time for someone new.” John Fipp had left weaknesses abound for him. He could point out how he was minimizing the importance of the role. The mayor was the elected leader of the entire world! How dare he casually presume his mayorship would be no big deal. Not to mention, if the candidates were similar enough, why choose anything other than the status quo to begin with? Mayor Gladwell could have said any of those things. But when the moderator prompted him for a rebuttal, he simply smiled. “John, let’s just admit that we like each other,” he said, walked over to his opponent’s podium, and hugged him. Later, his team asked him why he did that, and he admitted that he felt forced to. “I couldn’t let him have the last word on civility,” he’d say. But that was a lie. He felt forced to, yes, but the other sort of way. For a brief moment, he saw the story of the debate stretching out in front of him, and the path between him and John Fipp’s podium was already laid out. There was nothing to do but follow it. As he reminisced further, he saw his path stretch out once more. He was moving again, smiling warmly and walking away. The idle thoughts had turned into dreams, ones that were only interrupted when his phone buzzed with a text from his wife. I know I promised I’d wait up for you but I don’t know how much longer I can last. Are you coming home soon? Mayor Gladwell smiled warmly and sent her a reassuring message. He stood up, put his jacket on, and began his journey home. Hopefully, he thought, the next important events would be a full week away. At least that would give him time to prepare. MONDAY NOVEMBER 07 174 DAYS REMAIN “They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” -Revelations 17:14 (NIV) Even It Out “Where’s DEUS?” Director Sekelsky and Bard were en route to Goodale Park for the truce negotiations, which left Victor’s second-in-command, Roy “Roggy” Biff, in charge of the day’s briefing. Like Bard, Roy was a thinker, though his power was a bit more well-defined. Bard just “knew” things. Bard’s power gave him information from a source nobody could pin down. Roy’s was more synaesthetic -- he associated situations with various colors and could use that information to his advantage. Also in the room was his second, Sarah N., and she was the one Roy had addressed the question to. “DEUS was last seen at the intersection of Summit and Fifth directing traffic,” she said. “He’s likely to be there until either rush hour ends or the construction crews get that light fixed.” Roy rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Green, I guess. Lime.” Sarah made a note in a little notebook she had in front of her on the table. “For whatever it’s worth,” she said, “construction has been playing rather nice lately. I’m sure that was factored into your calculations -” “It was.” “- but I felt like it would be good to restate the reason for optimism in this case. Even if something does go wrong -” “It won’t.” “- you can rest assured your plight has a decent chance of being answered.” “It won’t,” Roy said again. He straightened his clothes before actually starting to address the two heroes in the room. Override and Aeon had been assigned to work together again, though at least there was a better reason than “they were the only ones left” this time. “Alright,” he said, and he began his briefing: “Because you two were the ones who volunteered to relay as much information as you could find regarding the end of- regarding Cassandra’s prophecy,” Roy said, still dodging the role specific G3 members played in the events of just about one week ago, “you’re being assigned to formally pay that debt. We’ve been running our end-of-the-world simulations this past week, but we need to explore every option available to us. If it’s an end of the world somebody has thought of, it’s one we can try to prepare for. We’ve arranged a meeting with the Archangel, the spiritual leader of Scarlet City’s largest religion, and you two lucky ducks get to go talk to her.” “There’s a list of potential topics to bring up in your briefing packet,” Sarah chimed in, producing a pair of them and sliding them across the meeting room table, “but obviously the big important one is Zorrastran’s apocalypse story and how much of that the church teaches as metaphor, and which they take at face value. I mean, some of this stuff… The sky literally comes crashing down at one point.” “Thank you, Sarah,” Roy said, taking control of the briefing back. “We’d like you to also, you know, gently encourage the church to take the stance that this is not the end of days. Even if it turns out to be the case, we don’t need people believing it. Knowing your days are numbered does strange things to a person.” He paused, then frowned. “Beige.” Sarah made another note and kept silent this time. “Guess that means you better get going before things get worse,” Roy said. “Make sure to thank Catty Key for arranging this meeting on such short notice again, of course. Oh, and Aeon? Don’t disappear to go get food this time, hm? Meanwhile, miles away, Sibyl had been summoned to the Moray Clan lair, where two of the three Fates, Clotho and Atropos, awaited her. Lachesis, they explained, had gone on ahead to scope out the preparations for the meeting -- they’d be joining their sister soon. “But we do have a job for you,” Atropos said. “Very simple, one you’ve probably done a hundred times before at this point.” “The Archangel Lailah owes us a favor,” Clotho said. “And now’s the time to collect.” “Gotta sermon she needs to give next Saturday.” Atropos already had the papers in her hand and handed them over to Sibyl. They had right-aligned paragraphs and everything. “Don’t really need to say what happens if she refuses, do we?” “That being said, while you should be the most intimidating self we know you can be -” “Creation and destruction in one package, right?” Atropos winked. “- keep a good head on your shoulders. Lailah’s likely to have some people from the church with her, and that’s discounting her actual superpower. The Stanley Principle doesn’t work if you’re just being an idiot, right? She can suffer the consequences another day if she wants.” “You just gotta make them think you could kick their asses even if you can’t. Simple, right?” OOC
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