|Mac Anu redux
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|Author:||Senna [ Sun Apr 01, 2007 1:50 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Mac Anu redux|
((I'm putting this here, but if it's supposed to rather go in the server, let me know and I'll move it?))
The city was just like it had always been. The people were going about their business like they always had. What in the world… how could it all be so regular, so everyday? Her right hand balled into as much of a fist as it could around the haft of her weapon, letting one nail bite into the heel of her palm. A tiny pulse of pain, fleeting as a summer breeze, but enough to remind her yet again that everything – everything – was different.
But why should they know, or care? They didn’t know her, they didn’t know that things were different. They were what she had been scant hours ago, and… and she’d been just as oblivious. Even when confronted by the reality of people being stuck here, making this game their reality, she had only half-believed. How could she expect them to care or change their routines for her concern?
Wrapped up in self pity so thick she would have hated herself if she’d been able to see it objectively, she’s done her normal routine in Mac Anu – headed straight for the canal. Well, it wasn’t quite as usual. She’d had an encounter with an old friend – brief but unsettling. But now she was perched at the edge of the water, watching the different people in their brilliant array of clothing and looks, walking along the canal on the far side. Their reflections made a blurred mosaic of color along the water’s surface, broken up by the ripples from the boats that rode back and forth. She remembered falling into the canal once. Would it now be possible to drown in there?
Terrible thought. Senna hated the idea of drowning. She’d resisted learning how to swim until she was twelve, ands then only learned because the pool they were using was four feet deep and she could stand up if things went awry. She couldn’t think of a worse way to die.
These morbid thoughts were startled away like a flock of pigeons by a chime, letting her know she had new Flashmail. She opened it and was surprised to find it was a brief missive from Canti.
Where are you? You can't be out here like this.
She read it through a couple times and frowned. Great. She hadn’t meant to make him worry, but now that she was thinking about it objectively, how could she NOT have anticipated that as a possible consequence? He gets the message, isn’t the first and most natural reaction to look around for the person? And when she proved not to be in the place, she could either be dismissed, or he could be worried.
Don’t worry. I’ll be around. Good luck with the next leg of the Freedom Fighters’ quest.
Though really, she thought, was it anything to be THAT Worried over? She was just spending time in Mac Anu, not running off like a vigilante to draw attention to herself. And if they were going to be watched no matter where they went, why not be watched while not being a threat? Give people no reason to come after her. It seemed smarter, safer, than going into the lion’s den, no matter how many of them there were. And she hated to think how many spells and potions had been wasted on keeping her sorry Long Arm but from staying a permanent ghost. No group doing serious work needed a resource drain like that. Simple economics. Maybe later, when she was stronger and more able to make a real contribution to the group, then she could come back. But for now…
For now what? She realized with a little twinge she’d been feeling HEAVILY sorry for herself with no cause. This was her own fault. She shook her head, as though she could physically force the thoughts from her mind. Think. For now she’d worry about now, she decided. Sort things out, and then make a decision. A person who was thinking rationally would have a much more difficult time descending into self-pity. She could go back, she guessed, and keep fighting with that group, but one big thing was keeping her from that course.
She was scared.
She was sure the others were afraid too, and that they pushed past that fear to engage in battle. But she could feel that doubt in her mind that might lead to her freezing again, as she’d done against Primal. This had become deadly serious, and she felt she lacked the courage to face down that fear. That would help no one, and be unfair to the others.
The sounds of people making their way through the city were familiar and tuned out, so she didn’t hear as Canti jumped down the stairs, but her attention was caught when she heard her voice.
"Senna, what're you doing here?"
She looked up, startled at hearing her own name. He was here? What in the world was he doing? Hadn’t he gotten her message? To her eyes, he looked a bit worried, and she found herself feeling a little guilty. Maybe he heard something, some danger that was in the city?
“What... what's wrong? And what were you talking about in your Flashmail?"
He walked over, saying, "You can't just go out like that, not anymore. We have a hideout for a reason. Every moment we're exposed, there's real danger."
Danger? It was like his thoughts were mirroring her own, but coming up with a completely different result. He saw being out here as the danger, while she saw being with the others in the same light. He seemed comfortable with fighting as part of that group. He should go back. He could help them. They needed all the help they could get, if Primal were an example of the sorts of things they faced.
Still sitting, she looked up and said quietly, "If you're worried, go back. But you know, that group, THAT'S The real danger. Searching out ways to let people who can manipulate lives and then going to them?" She dropped her eyes. "Madness."
"Whoa whoa whoa... We weren't looking for that guy. He found us! And if you think that's dangerous, then try to remember how we got in this mess!" He leaned in closer to keep the words more privately between them. "We fought the Elites right here in Mac Anu. It was a warzone and I KNOW it's still being observed. I'm not leaving until I know you're safe, and the only safe place I know is back at the hideout!"
Senna winced at the second part of this and her eyes swept the opposite side of the canal. THEY were the ones who’d trashed the city? She tried to come to grips with that for a moment before looking back to Canti. She almost asked about that, but in the end it was the first part of his comments that she addressed.
"You mean your group wasn't at that field to try to scramble a hub being controlled by these... what did you call them? Or that none of you thought they might notice someone running their gauntlet? And that they're not planning on doing it again, even though those enemies have to know they'll try?"
It seemed obvious to her, but then, she read a LOT, and figuring out the politics and between-the-lines reasoning and commentary were part of that. Marionette claimed not to be one of the Elites, whatever THEY were, but even if that were true, surely those Elites would be guarding the remaining hubs far more carefully since they’d messed up the first one.
"We were looking for the Hub, and it was definitely to put a dent in the Elites, but the guy who caused all that trouble for us wasn't one of them. I don't have all the answers, but I don't think it's the people who owned the place. Now, what're you gonna do? Wander the system until you get caught? You're in a coma now... There's nothing you can do about that, except help us take out the guys that did it so we can get out."
Senna glanced around again, then said, "Want to talk about this somewhere less central?"
Canti sighed. "Like where?"
She shrugged. "I’m not worried if you're not. But as for what you just said, I'd like to stay alive, in here or whatever. And I don't think I can do that as part of a group that goes looking for trouble."
The response she got was a little more energetic than she’d expected. "But what sort of a chance do you have all alone? They'll seek you out and kill you for sure, or make you a slave like Nighthand said."
Now, this was just getting ridiculous. She was starting to wonder how much control this Nall and Nighthand had over their little group. It might be true, it might not, but Senna always preferred acting on known dangers than guessed ones. And if this Marionette was going to keep following the group… that was worse.
She arched a brow at Canti. "How do you know that. Has it happened to someone? Sounds like a wive's tale. And it's fine for you guys. You're strong enough to want to fight things. I don't. I can't."
Finally she stood and started walking, tilting her head in an invitation for Canti to join her. If they were going to continue having this conversation, it made sense to keep moving, so no casual person just lounging around would overhear enough to start wondering what they were really talking about.
|Author:||Lord Canti [ Mon Apr 02, 2007 3:57 pm ]|
(From the time he had exited the Chaos Gate to right now, this confrontation had been trouble. First of all, the Twin Blade that he had had to interrogate/attack/appeal to in order to get the information about Senna's presence in Mac Anu had - rather unexpectedly - not followed him from Carmina Gadelica. That much pissed Canti off enough as is. He was gonna have to straighten that guy out if he was REALLY a can't-log-out coma player. What had happened next was his receiving of a flashmail from Senna, but he ignored it to find her at the canal. He knew that she wasn't safe here, something known from prior experience here, but convincing her... That was becoming a problem, as their conversation took turn for the worse. he told her about what the Elites do to coma players, and in response...)
"How do you know that? Has it happened to someone? Sounds like a wive's tale. And it's fine for you guys. You're strong enough to want to fight things. I don't. I can't."
(For a moment, Canti was stumped. He didn't have an answer to that one right off. He thought about it, though, as the two of them began to walk. There was great compelling evidence that the Elites did indeed do as Nighthand said, but HE could not prove it to HER right here and now. So instead, he thought he'd address the other part, about fighting. To him, it sounded as though Senna had just about given up hope during the battle against Primal. He had to admit it was more than trying, but he'd come to find that the Long Arm was, at the very least, a dependable sort. He had to make sure she didn't just let herself fall prey to whatever forces may be waiting...)
Canti: What do you mean, you can't? You're neck-deep in The World, about to drown. We all are and you have to either sink or swim.
(She opened her mouth to answer almost immediately, then closed it again and shook her head. It was a few paces before she actually spoke. It seemed as though the Twin Blade had given food for thought. Fine then... Chew on that a bit. Better than giving up.)
"Just one way? Join or die."
(She chuckled at this, though Canti certainly didn't know why.)
"I've seen you and Zan and Rayo pull some pretty weird stuff out. Things normal players can't do. Equalized the field a little, eh? I join you guys, I'm a liability at best."
(So that was what it was. A sort of gallows humor, spoofing thyself for the sake of others. Senna saw herself as not simply a fifth wheel, but something more akin to a seventh or worse. More than useless in the field, she thought that her own presence would actually hinder any chance of victory the rest of them had. They stepped at the main bridge of Mac Anu, overlooking the river. Canti sighed as he looked into the pixilated water, appearing as though he were searching for something in particular. Perhaps what he was really doing was going through his head for something to convince the Long Arm that she had more value than she believed. Besides, in a way, Canti felt that he entanglement in this was at least partially his fault.)
Canti: It's not like that, Senna. I'm not forcing you. It's just that you can't go back, only forward. With us, at least you could have protection. If you don't want to fight, maybe you don't have to, but I don't know what your chances are alone.
(Then, he smirked. These powers... Hoo boy... When he first saw the power of Twilight in effect, he was right here, in Mac Anu. No, that wasn't true. That was merely the first time he'd been aided by such powers in battle, by those who truly wished to help him. The TRUE first time had been Suraisu, with his extravagant lightning force, as he prodded them along his dungeon and blatently pulled the wool over mostof their eyes with his trickery. Canti never trusted him fully. He'd simply hoped that the man was not truly their enemy. In any case, the Twin Blade had a bit of good news for the Long Arm.)
Canti: Don't worry about our powers, though. It's the virus' side-effect. Mine were developing all throughout the Hub mission. You'll get 'em too.
(Not exactly like his, obviously. One thing Canti hoped for was that he wouldn't end up like Zan or Dien. They had some serious problems with the PVM on top of their Twilight afflictions. He thought of this as he heard Senna answering him, not exactly watching her for the moment. He could only just tell that she was looking upon the river as well.)
"You know...almost the only reason to go back is how boring bumming around a city that never quite gets dark sounds. Like living in Alaska. But..."
(She quirked an eyebrow at him.)
"If I do end up a liability, do I get to say 'I told you so'?"
(At this, we finally hear something of a laugh from Canti. Just a short chuckle, really, but a definite sign that he was becoming a little more pleasant now. He couldn't help it. She was funny. Of course, she was also handling this a bit better than he had been to begin with. The Twin Blade envied her that.)
Canti: Sure, if you like.
(Then, as he looked over at Senna...and something flickered. It wasn't a flicker that Senna could see, mind you. It was 100% Canti-perception. There was something he'd been looking for in the water, but he hadn't seen it. So, he turned away and then suddenly backed away a step, his black eyes wide open in shock.)
(When he looked at Senna, the Long Arm's image flickered over to the image of another form, a familiar form; a young adult girl with long brown hair and tough armor. She had fox-ears and a fox tail. It was the same hallucination from before, from the dark tower, but she was here! HERE! Canti's head suddenly burned inside, like his brain was on fire. He clutched it as something inside seemed to go haywire.)
Canti: What the hell is this...?
"Canti? What's what? What's wrong?"
Canti: Get out of my head... Get out of my head!
(He wasn't listening very well. Or rather, not at all. Whatever it was, it was something he was seeing that wasn't there, that was screwing up his perceptions, and he couldn't seem to focus right. Canti was shaking his head, as if to dislodge something, stepping back further, unsteadily. If he wasn't more careful, he might fall off the damn bridge. That might wake him up but... water was one of his prime weaknesses, right? Fortunately, Senna was quick on the uptake, carefully and gently taking his arm to try and lead him off to the Chaos Gate.)
"Oi, time to go..."
(However, Canti wasn't going anywhere. Or, at least, not very far. They had only moved a few feet when Senna's hand was dislodged by the spreading of his black wings all of a sudden. The contact had surprised him, grounding him for the moment. He was now looking around in proper clarity, wondering...)
Canti: What the hell just happened?
"That's the same question I had. Welcome back from whatever. Now, we might wanna go before we're noticed. More."
(A small smile let Canti know that she was treating this with a measure of amusement. The dark Twin Blade would've smiled back, but he was sort of lost in the moment of what had just happened there. It wasn't normal, not even for him. The visions of that kitsune Long Arm had never appeared before him like that. That's why he'd been searching the water. She had always appeared in a reflection, or become a fox in his bizarre visions. What did this mean...? Why did he even have such a vision? He had to tell Senna about this, as even a strange daydream-headtrip was a better explanation to this than none. )
Canti: I saw someone that I know doesn't even exist, at least as far as I know. D'you know any characters who were fox-like Long Arms? Nevermind... Let's get going.
(In any case, the Twin Blade appeared confused, but he seemed relieved that Senna was coming with him, out of danger. Well, almost. See, the funny thing about danger is that it looks out for you, sometimes in different shapes, like a quad of Cobalt Knights, for instance. These four had noticed that...something was off around here.)
"You there! Stop immediately!"
Canti: Oh shit...
(They were almost back to the Chaos Gate, almost out of here and out of harm's way. But as stated, trouble and harm tend to keep a long lookout and a nasty welcome. Hence, Canti already knew this was gonna get ugly when he turned around and irritably asked them...)
(They appeared to have a 'Captain' among them, sort of an extra to the three-player system.)
Captain: Those wings appear to be illegal upgrades to your character.
Canti: Ah, don't gimme that. I had them approved by CC Corp right at the start.
(He did, in fact, do as he stated. He specially-requested that his character be allowed to sport wings to give the appearance of him being the great Lord Canti, God of Black Flames. Of course, that was a while ago and he'd gone through a few unavoidable changes as of late. Needless to say, the Knights didn't appear especially convinced by his explanation. At this moment, Senna decided to help out in her best diplomatic-sounding voice.)
"Sorry, sirs, he's telling the truth. Knowing how hard you're all working, patrolling the city, the last thing we'd do is walk in here to start trouble. But thanks for your vigilance against cheats and troublemakers."
(As she spoke, though, one of the other Knights had been peering over a device of some sort. It seemed to be a manufactured outside of the normal game parameters. Suddenly, he drew his sword.)
Canti: Oh, now what?
"He's the one, the center of the disturbance not long ago. I don't know what it is, but something BIG was reading off of him a second ago!"
Captain: Knights...prepare for combat.
(That device had to be some kind of viral detection system, a tool that may as well have had the symbol for Norton Anti-Virus stamped on it. Canti let out another curse, largely in annoyance, as these guys drew their weapons. The guy who had drawn already was a Blademaster. Their self-appointed Captain was a Heavy Blade. The other two were Twin Blade and Wavemaster respectively. The fight was inevitable. These uniform warriors would have to be their opponent before leaving. Canti drew out his blades - Dante's Blades - and jumped for their Captain right off.)
Canti: Blazing Wheel!
(There is an RPG term used for the state these men were in. It's called "flat-footed". Normally, this refers to a time in which the enemy doesn't even know you're there, or know you're attacking. In this case, they had weapons out, but...were they ready for Canti? Their Captain defended as best he could against the dark Twin Blade's fiery strikes, but they seemed to explode before him and some of the damage got through.)
|Author:||Senna [ Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:59 am ]|
To say Senna wasn’t convinced would be a major understatement. Sure, there were dangers out there now. Hadn’t they faced one that had been sent by another? But the cold, flat truth of living is there’s danger EVERYWHERE. But you know that old saying – I don’t find trouble, trouble finds me? Senna had long since come to the conclusion that trouble didn’t just *find* anyone who claimed such a defense. They invited it, even encouraged it, in one way or another.
Tooling around alone, was it possible to become a target? Sure. But they were going out and doing things which were likely to draw the ire of the enemy, likely to make them targets. Something untoward was more likely to happen to them before to her. And safety in numbers? Ha. Marionette had reversed death. What possible reason was there to think it couldn’t do much, much more? No, logic and thee principles of triage suggested she was safer on her own than with them.
So why had she bitten her tongue when she was about to really try and explain that to Canti? Why hadn’t she pointed out there was no reason to expect that everyone who got stuck would end up with some whacked-out ability? Why had she given up the fight, so to speak, almost entirely? And why had she now trying to steer Canti toward the Chaos Gate and toward the Hideout that lay beyond it? One would think it was at best illogical and unlikely to aid in her desire to live to see eighty.
And yet, here she was, trying to ignore not only those questions but the more confusing and immediate ones… what was HAPPENING to Canti? He evidently hadn’t been talking to her. For the first time in a while, she wasn’t trying to log out every few minutes, just to see if maybe THIS time something was different. There was something more immediate than herself to worry about.
He seemed… unfocused, like he was seeing something too close or too far for his eyes to truly take in.
“What the hell is this...?”
She said the first thing that came to mind, inane though she felt it was. It certainly didn’t seem to help.
“Get out of my head... Get out of my head!”
Two reasons. First, she had no flipping idea what was happening to him, and anyone she knew who might be able to help was back at the Hideout. Second, on the bridge over the canal was about the best place to be if you wanted to get noticed, which Canti had seemed to be trying to avoid. Unsure what else to do, she put a hand on his arm, trying to direct him toward the Chaos Gate.
This, apparently, was the wrong call. It started out working, he was moving, at least enough for her mind to be scrambling over other thoughts – what was going on, was he going to be okay, did she even know HOW to get back into the hideout once they got to Carmina Gadelica – but her thoughts were brought quite abruptly to the present when her hand was brushed away in a powerful unfurling of wings. As Senna jumped, startled, that same hand found a temporary resting spot over her heart, fingers slightly curled into claws. What now? she wondered. Couldn’t things just stop happening for two seconds?
And just like that, Canti was more or less back to normal, except that he seemed unaware – or perhaps just confused about – what he’d done over the past few seconds. Senna managed to keep from asking him inane questions, though her words when she did speak were more brusque than intended. If this was part of the virus or whatever he was talking about earlier, she wanted no part of it and felt a stab of something else – regret, she guessed, that people were haunted by mental demons in any form, even a digital one. Who knew, here they might even be more real. So she tried to play light, and it seemed to work. Though Canti’s next question…
She tilted her head a little, considering his question. She did know of a fox-like character, but she was most definitely not a Long Arm. At any rate, Canti didn’t seem to require an answer and off they went, heading toward the Chaos Gate. Which leads back to the initial question – why, now that the immediate worry had passed?
The most basic answer was simple – a dawning realization that while she might have other things to do besides painting a target on her back and dancing for those “Elites,” whatever they were, she did not have other places to BE. Anyplace she stayed for too long would become suspicious, not to hackers or anything like that, but to normal players, and that could lead to all sorts of unpleasantness.
And then there was Canti who, whatever the reason, was concerned enough for members of the Freedom Fighters to come looking for her. She might not buy the lines, but he obviously believed them and something out there had him worried. It cost her nothing to go back, and would only likely irritate or worry him if she continued in her mule-headed opposition to returning.
Now remember that bit about “not looking for trouble?” As a shout heralded the introduction of four Cobalt Knights into the lives of Canti and Senna, her mind flashed back over all the things they’d done that called out for trouble to come and annoy them, from her own waterside sulking to their low-tones argument to the bit on the bridge. To be honest, she was a little surprised when their main beef with the pair was Canti’s appearance.
Canti claimed they were approved, and having no reason to doubt him and every reason to want to end this as smoothly as possible, she backed him up. However, for whatever reason, their words didn’t matter a whit. One of them was consulting a small device and announced that Canti had been at the center of some “disturbance.” Senna thought flaring out a pair of large black wings might be considered a disturbance, but probably wasn’t the one the knight meant. That was more of a see-with-your-eyes disturbance than a read-from-a-machine sort.
In the end, as the captain ordered his followers to prepare for combat, Senna could only think how absurd this all was. They were just attacking? Surely they were supposed to try diplomatic means first? Or maybe the readout on that little device was something like “Big disturbance. Wipe the floor with it.” Who knew.
All she could be sure of was a fight was brewing, and she didn’t even know the caliber of the people they would be facing. She did know she felt pretty good about her ability to hold her own against anyone of a relatively similar level provided they weren’t using underhanded tactics. She didn’t know how close their levels were, but she had a feeling they were about to find out. The knights seemed bent on making pains of themselves and the knights were between them and the gate. It would take a bit of work just to get to a point where they COULD Run away. But anyway, she wasn’t planning on running by herself. Unless they could both make a break for it, she really didn’t see the point. But that didn’t mean she wouldn’t be watching for that moment.
As her spear came up into the “ready” stance, Canti used the famed Twin Blade speed to great effect, striking out toward the group’s spokesperson in a blaze of Vak-based goodness. Not one to remain behind for long, Senna paused to dose herself with Ap Do before joining the fray. Were there more time, she might have done a few other boosts, but for now, the speed of a quickling would have to do for her. If time permitted, Canti would be receiving one before long.
By this time she was finished with the spell, the counterattack had begun. She darted in and pulled her newest weapon into her hands. Luckily they were all gathered into a rough group, and a Long Arm has a heck of a reach. She homed in on the Wavemaster and invoked Rai Wipe. If allowed to get out of range, that one could cause damage without having to be in range of their weapons, and spells would be far less effective against him because of his resistance. Really, they couldn’t *afford* to let this go too long. If the Wavemaster got out of range, it would already be too late.
Lightning crackled down the haft of her weapon, collecting at the point as she first swung. When the weapon and the Wavemaster were less than a foot apart, the gathered lightning made a second appearance, this time leaping forward and crossing the space between them faster than the weapon itself did. Outlining his form, the lightning caused him to stiffen in surprise. The others were already moving to attack, but the Wavemaster had hesitated for some reason – she could only assume he was not sure about using large spells with this many people around.
The magical component probably didn’t actually hurt him all that much. He had resistances against that sort of thing. But the skill itself – that dealt a much heavier blow.Wavemasters. Most brittle things The World had created, but among the most deadly.
The unfortunate part was, there were still two others, a Twin Blade and a Blademaster. The Heavy Blade had his attention completely taken by Canti’s unexpectedly swift attack. The other two had initially moved to help their captain, but now the Blademaster was pulling back to her side. She could only guess the knights saw she and Canti as equal threats – her for her level, he for whatever had spiked the reading he’d been talking about earlier. He was moving in, and the peripheral electricity that bridged the space between he and his teammate in a brilliant arc was enough to startle him, but not stop him.
Senna herself found there was a new twist to all this for her – at the first crackle of electricity along the weapon, she’d tried to pull back, to stop it. It seemed that even now, however, once the intricate weapons dances had been initiated, they were hard to stop. Electricity … the feel of it enveloping you with its mixture of heat and icy cold and pain … she could feel it creeping down her arms even as it raced down her weapon.
Just great. How wonderful if she planed on being gun-shy, so to speak, around Rai spells and skills. Perfect.
As previously noted, the skill was a square hit on the Wavemaster, but less so on the Blademaster, who was barely checked by the crackle of electricity, and only her upped speed meant that instead of catching her across the torso, his swing cut into her shoulder. Well, torso or shoulder, it HURT like anything. Ducking away, she tried to maneuver herself so the Wavemaster was between herself and the advancing Blademaster.
Man, if nothing else, being stuck in the game meant fighting in any way was gonna be a pain - literally as well as figuratively.
|Author:||Lord Canti [ Fri Apr 06, 2007 7:01 pm ]|
(This was as simple a case as anything. Fight, kill, death, repeat. Well, no... Okay, it wasn't exactly like that. These weren't mere monsters or any of Marionette's puppets. They weren't on the Elite payroll or even rogue hackers. In fact, all Canti could say about them was this... Of all the times for the Admins to be doing their damn job and look after the place, this was the worst time. Honestly, out of all the threats in The World, this was the LAST one on his mind. They couldn't kill him or do anyth- Wait a minute... Cobalt Knights delete accounts when they kill, banning the user from playing, or they incarcerate them for questioning. There was no way they'd get him quietly, so that meant a PKing if they got him at all. And if his account was deleted...)
Canti: NO WAY!!
(A sudden revelation as a plugged the Captain a good one in the gut, then backed off a minute. These guys, they didn't realize that his life was hanging by a thread, his or Senna's. If their accounts were deleted in defeating these sprite bodies...wouldn't they REALLY be dead? Shit... There was no way he'd allow that. They were probably a higher level, but he wasn't about to lose to a bunch of company nobodies! However, he didn't attack immediately, not with lightning in the air. Mac Anu was making him jumpy, unfortunately. Water and lightning? Yeah, that set his teeth on edge. He was like those monsters he'd trounced in the Protect The City event oh-so-long ago... Now, the Knights were backing into a group formation, realizing that the two of them were not ordinary fighters. Well, of course not. They were fighting for their lives. Canti calmed himself down, then glared at the group of warriors.)
Canti: Hey, toy soldiers. Got a question...
"How dare you refer to us l-"
Canti: Can it. One of you said something 'bout a disturbance. If it's so damn big, why doncha' leave us alone? I didn't harm anything.
"We can't just do that! You're using illegal software or someth-"
(The Captain held up his hand.)
Captain: We punish those who would appear as a threat to The World's prosperity. Your account will be seized, by force if necessary, and THEN we will determine if you're harmful or not.
Canti: I see...
(Ah, but if they did that, with either fo them, what they'd find is the taint of the Twilight, the dark secret of The World that Suraisu told him about back at the dark tower. Canti would never forget that conversation. It was that very exchange that the Twin Blade was holding onto, trying to believe that Suraisu was not really the demon he made himself out to be. He'd never find out for sure if he let it end here.)
Canti: Not good enough!
(Well, we knew THAT was gonna happen. Sliding under the sudden slash of the Captain on his approach, the dark Twin Blade, sliced at his leg during a sudden leap over to to the Wavemaster of the group. That was the problem with a tightly-packed group. A little chaos and the ranks are broken. Canti's sudden forceful action had gone past the Captain and nudged the Blademaster off balance, leaving the Wavemaster exposed suddenly and also making Senna's half of the battle easier. He slashed and stabbed with greater expertise at the magus, but did not get the chance to kill him, due to the Twin Blade Knight, who was NOT off balance. After a couple swipes, the Knight took a stab at Canti and-)
"What the...? No, you can't... HOW'D YOU EVEN DO THAT?!"
(The blade had been stopped when Canti bit down on it with his teeth!)
Canti: Gghhh...hee hee hee hee hee hee hee...
(Pulling back, the other Twin Blade was suddenly caught in a rather strong Twin Darkness technique, which killed him. The Captain, who had recovered, took a slice at Canti from the side and got him. Unfortunately...a wound was all he got. Despite the pain gritting his teeth, Canti smiled.)
Canti: Wasn't as bad as a thought. Didn't hurt that much at all...
Captain: What... What are you talking about? This isn't real. It's just a g-
(Canti switched to his Slayers, which made him physically faster than with Dante's Blades. With that, and the sudden surprising comment to the Captain, he managed to finish the Heavy Blade off. He fell to the ground, just like his counterpart. The Wavemaster looked pissed from this.)
"You won't beat us that easily! I can revive them all! Rip T- What the...?"
(Not enough SP! The Wavemaster was very confused!)
Canti: Dante's Blades, a weapon capable of Skill Drain. You, my friend, are out of juice.
(Ah, the pressures of work. You go in, do your thing, collect your pay. It's easy...accept you have to make quotas and reports and keep The World wholey stable. And then some punk kid who looks like some kind of black and fiery angel from hell comes and shows you up with a bit ogf gamer's knowledge. That...had to suck.)
OOC: Sorry I took this long. I was gonna post sooner, but I had the obligations of college, and then my uncle brought in a new computer during his Easter visit, so he and my bro are installing it and that left me to have to wait a bit.
|Author:||Senna [ Fri Apr 06, 2007 11:04 pm ]|
((Man, if a day and a half wait is long, I'll take it ))
Even though the digital bodies of the soldiers didn’t bleed, Senna could taste metal in the air. Her arm hurt like a sonuva, and blood from the wound (not fatal, but annoying and, as just referred to, painful) matted her gauze sleeve, gluing it uncomfortably to her arm. Perhaps that was it – she was tasting her own blood on the air. She was trying to block that part of it out of her mind, and failing utterly at the attempt. She had to keep trying though. Even though she didn’t know as much as Canti did about what the Knights could do, never having crossed them or felt the need to inform herself of their powers and charges, she got an undercurrent of urgency. This was a fight she felt they could not lose. Being caught here would not be good. She just didn’t know quite how bad.
As such, she was prepared to fight as hard and fast as needed. But to her surprise, they all drew back, grouping together, forming into a tighter formation which allowed the melee fighters to group around their injured Waemaster, providing him the protection he needed to become truly lethal. Though…. could he really unleash big attacks here, with all these uninvolved players around (some of whom were pausing to watch the confrontation as though it were some sort of sideshow or special event).
As Canti got into a bit of back and forth with the soldiers, Senna edged around, trying to get a clear line to the Chaos Gate. These people didn’t seem very keen on logic. To borrow a phrase, it seemed to be a mindset of shoot first, shoot later, shoot some more, and then once everyone’s dead, try to ask a question or two.
Well, they wanted a fight? She might not be the best on the block, but she sure had a lot of toys at her fingertips. Her natural instinct was to run as soon as the coast was clear – hence her positioning herself with a line to the gate – but Canti didn’t seem to be of the same mind, and whatever else he might be about, she trusted he knew more of these people and their situation than she and trusted he wasn’t staying without reason. So when he jumped into the middle of the soldiers’ formation, she switched to the Ichigou and stepped forward, thrusting the spear ahead of her with all the force of her whole body.
A thing that made fighting as a Long Arm rather amusing was how often people underestimated either their speed or their reach. The Blademaster who’d put the slice in her shoulder was the recipient. He’d turned to look in Canti’s direction when that notable threw himself among them, but his attention was drawn back when he realized there was a spear with a rather large point lodged in his stomach just below the protective metal of his breastplate. He looked at her in surprise, the hand without the katana reaching down and wrapping around the haft of the spear. The look on his face was easy to read – no fair attacking when I’m not paying attention.
Senna had, unfortunately, never been one to adhere to the suggested strictures of honor and chivalry. She was more utilitarian in all things. That included battle. Do what works. Always do what works. People don’t like it, they can send a letter to the management.
Instead of answering him, she spoke two words to the empty air. The Blademaster’s eyes widened and he started moving. The hand with the weapon swung, but his reach was not enough to be effective and the cut was easily dodged. The other hand left her spear and was evidently trying to be used to open a healing potion or a scroll. He had no time for either though. Repulse Cage activated with the point of her spear firmly in his gut. The force of the skill’s swing tore a wide gash in the form of the Blademaster, then cut back across, this time higher, scoring a deep line across the breastplate and digging a furrow like the one he’d inflicted on her across his left arm. .
As the swing finished, her spear swung behind her to loose momentum then came back up into her defensive stance. A bit of quick hand work switched ends, putting the point of the weapon to her right and pointed groundward. AS she eyed her enemy, Senna nearly laughed. How fast things could change. How long ago had she been talking with an old friend, having an unsettling but deep conversation in one of the back roads of this city. And now? Fighting for her life, more than likely? Callously slashing a chunk out of another person’s midsection while her own wound bled freely and made one hand’s grip on her spear slick and a little unsteady.
When had she started seeing players who were not stuck in this game as lesser things than herself? Things which could be attacked and hurt because they were not real. They were only data and imagination, characters in an ever-evolving and vast story on the pages that CC Corp. provided to them. And as any writer or avid reader knows, characters are there to hurt. You don’t have to feel bad hurting a character in a story. That’s their whole point.
So it was as the Blademaster came at her. She drew back, and despite a nice move to slip left, an attempt to get inside her attack area, there was still a little juice left in her Ap Do. She nimbly stepped forward, using her spear to block his blade. Another cut on the arm, another pained hiss between her teeth, then they were past one another. Senna let the point of her spear drop, its tip just brushing the street, then she stopped and thrust it backward beneath her left arm.
Red letter spelling out one of the most dreaded of words in a game floated across her field of vision, seeming to hang in the sky, and behind her she could hear the Blademaster’s body crumple to the ground. Her own HP was down as well, more than halfway gone – that Blademaster must have sacrificed speed and defense for power in his armor and weapon choices. She didn’t take the time for a heal right now. Instead, her eyes were taking in the scene.
They were starting to really gather a crowd, but that was only registered as an afterthought. The part of her mind that had played PvP games many times before assessed them and thought none of them looked interested in joining the fray. They didn’t know Canti and Senna from Adam and judging from the way the soldiers were throwing their weight around, no one probably wanted to be thought of as allies to this bunch of power-gorged idiots. They were only spectators, so as far as the fight, they were scenery. Nothing more. The soldiers were the only threat.
Were seemed to be the operative word. Canti had been busy. The other two melee fighters had already been brought down, and the Wavemaster looked about ready to run. From the look of things, Canti had hit him as well. That combined with the attack he’d taken from Senna… unless he’d healed himself at some point, he had to be nearly out of HP.
Cathal, you watching this pathetic excuse for a fight? she wondered as she ran up and swung at the Wavemaster’[s back as he turned to run. She knew the answer. He’d left, of course, left right after they’d talked. He hadn’t seen her in a while, he’d said. Did she want to talk, he’d asked.
She’d said something brusque. Something rude, no doubt. She couldn’t even remember. It was a sad realization, she thought as her spear sliced across the Wavemaster’s back, draining the last precious few HP he had and leaving his body to gray out on the ground. Cathal hadn’t seemed nonplussed by this. He was always calm, infuriatingly calm. He’d said she seemed a bit stressed. She’d told him it was none of his damn business. He just looked at her, the sort of understanding, expectant expression on his face that she knew so well. She’d only confirmed his suspicions.
Heaven help her, she’d almost told him. Luckily, her reticence and his schedule collided and he’d had to leave before she worked up the courage to say anything. It was fortunate. He’d taught her all about fighting in the game and was a good friend outside it, but if she’d told him, if she talked about it, that was going to make it real. Some detached part of her brain realized that once the reality of it hit her, she was going to be hard pressed not to break down. That was what was keeping her going now – a combination of shock and denial. It let her keep fighting, keep joking, keep GOING. Like here. Like this fight.
As the Wavemaster hit the ground, she looked over at Canti. “We going?” she asked, her half-smile on her face.
This might not be the best way to be right now, but she was sure it beat the alternative.
|Author:||Lord Canti [ Sun Apr 08, 2007 3:23 pm ]|
(A few minutes ago, he'd been so stressed and worried that he couldn't even think straight. They'd met Senna during the mission to the Hub only by coincidence. She had been there by accident only, caught in the wave of the tide that brought them to that place. From that point, she listened to them, openly and without sarcasm. She believed thme, because she found that it was all true. Senna helped them even though it was not necessary. No one would've blamed her for backing off and logging out. No one... They'd drawn her in and the door was shut from behind. She'd helped them at a high price, being stuck in the same situation. it was probably because they'd talked as much, helped one another out as much, that Canti became so worried in the first place. When you battle, side by side, understanding one another as comrades or whatever, you know that you can't let the other fall into danger, which was why Canti was here. Now, several moments after his arrival here, he was battling again, and seemed calmer, in higher spirits. He felt better for having released his frustrations. That was why Canti did not run. He needed the exercise, and he knew that Cobalt Knights were nothing in comparison to the hell he'd been dropped into. The Blademaster was dead now, and Senna had just killed the Wavemaster too. The group of four dissolved into nothingness, and Canti realized...they had a crowd. That was so...cool. He twirled his blades in his black-gloved hands, then put them away, looking around. He caught a smirking expression from Senna as she spoke to him then.)
Canti: Just a moment. Gotta make sure of something.
(There were two things on Canti's mind at the moment. First, there was the crowd. Nobody was moving to stop them, but he just had to check on something with them before leaving. And second...there were some flashmails that were for "The Party" just on the periphery of his consciousness that he should look into. Well...first, the crowd. He addressed them directly.)
Canti: Thank you for watching! In case you were wondering, we were all rehearsing for a performance based upon something in episode two of FLCL. Any of you who watch anime probably know what I'm talking about. There will be an announcement on the message board once we're ready, so stay tuned!
(With a smirk, he watched as the crowds began to divert and talk among themselves. One or two of the onlookers even shouted "Whoo!" in response. Canti turned back to Senna with wicked smile. He'd enjoyed that little lie. You could tell.)
Canti: Now, we're going.
(And he went up the steps in a wing-assisted leap to head over to the less-crowded Chaos Gate area. The less time they were in Mac Anu, the better. Oh, but wait a second... He had to check his Flashmails. There were...three of them. Wow. Canti looked at them briefly, reading as fast as he could because some of them appeared during battle and looked to be fairly important.)
To: The Party
Subject: The Next Hub
Well, as much as I'd like to sleep for fucking ever in this place, I think we should start considering our next move. Primal was tough, I know, but he was also only the start of this thing. Before we make any real decision on where we'll go, I suggest everyone whose able come to the common room. When that's accomplished, Rayo and whoever else went to the last field can give us some insight into the hub they visited (even if it was only for a small while). Since we'll have some insight into that field and, ideally, time to prepare, my suggestion is to hit that hub station again.
So yea, everyone who can, come down to the commons, if you would. The sooner we get this started the sooner we can rest again and the closer we'll be to being past this whole hub ordeal. I'd appreciate it.
See you soon,
(Well, that much was expected. He knew Zan's situation. He wasn't just restless, not with the PVM gnawing away at him like that. The sooner they got rid of the Elites, the better for him. Somehow, Canti didn't look forward to visiting the grave of one of his comrades.)
To: The Party
Subject: The Next Hub
I know I'm not Nighthand, but I'm in his body and I have all his memories and I've been here long enough to know everything Nighthand does. I'm basically Nighthand, anyways. I suppose I'm the pilot of his body for a while, at the least. Anyways, Zan's right. We can't loaf around here forever. As well as this place is hidden, Raine and Sheena can't be expected to hide us forever from the Elites, who no doubt are searching for us even as I write this. Some of you they don't know, some of you they definitely do. I know they probably wouldn't hesitate to kill me if they found me in a dark alley.
Primal was tough, and the way Marionette was talking, I fully expect to find another of his guardians at the end of whichever hub we choose to assault next. The best we can say of him at the moment is; he hasn't killed us. That's more than we can claim about the other hackers we've faced. But remember; he IS a hacker, and part of their organization, or else he wouldn't be protecting these hubs. We can't forget he's the enemy, as passive as he seems to be. Assuming it's a he. We don't know much.
Also, I was there at that other hub as well, so I can offer what insight I have. Once we're all gathered up, we can discuss our next move.
(Canti blinked. What was this now? Nighthand wasn't Nighthand, but Silverblade? This wasn't making much sense. Maybe he'd been brain-hacked, like in Ghost in the Shell. It was completely possible, given their condition. But what the hell...? This was getting weirder by the second. And the last message was also from Silverblade.)
To: The Party
Subject: The Next Hub
Me again. Raine added a chalkboard to the common room, and Rayo has written what he knows of the other hub on it. Just thought I'd make sure everyone knew.
(Standing before the Chaos Gate of Mac Anu, Canti was REALLY confused, which was not a good thing to be looking like in front of the Long Arm without some sort of explanation. Scratching his head, he turned to her and tried to word this one out.)
Canti: Check your Flashmail. You should have a few messages from our guys, since you never left the party. Zan wants us to organize and there's some new guy in charge, says he isn't Nighthand, but he's in his body and has alot of information. I don't know what that all means, but it looks like we've got a mission and a mystery if you're up to it.
(Sort of a question, that, but kinda' left open-ended. Canti was still silently stating that if she really didn't want to fight and risk her life, Senna didn't have to. Better alive and protected than alone and vulnerable.)
|Author:||Senna [ Sun Apr 08, 2007 11:21 pm ]|
At Canti’s suggestion, Senna checked her Flashmail as they began to walk through the disbursing crowd toward the Chaos Gate. She was a little surprised to still be getting messages from the group, assuming that moving to a different server would have disconnected her from the group, but apparently such was not the case. Flashmails usually made a sound as well, and now, thinking back, she thought she might have heard that a time or two. She’d just been so preoccupied with everything that she’d completely missed the significance of the sounds.
Typical, really. Well, it would be worth seeing what they had to say. Since they’d attacked Knights, chances were good any likelihood of her being able to lay low in Mac Anu had now given up its last tenuous grasp on reality and was gone. Ah well. Synopsis – one fairly sensical one from Zan, one long and fairly confusing one from… Nighthand? … and one short and to the point. As she was scanning over these, she answered. The conversation got most of her attention. At the moment, there was little of interest to her in the Flashmails. In fact, they were most important for what she didn’t know.
“If I’m going back, may as well help out?” she said. “But who is this Nighthand? I thought that Nall guy was in charge, but it seems like Night… eh, Silverblade holds that position?”
(Canti was, unfortunately, not certain of this either.)
"Uhhh...Nall is pretty high on the ladder, but I think Nighthand's really the one in charge. I'm not sure. And...really, I guess he was the first victim of the Elites. I dunno. Best you ask him yourself."
She shrugged. It wasn’t very important. She felt curiosity would be served eventually one way or the other. “Not important. Just don’t piss off either, I guess. Though… heh, I guess none of you should be taken lightly, huh?”
"Oh, come on. We're not all like that. At least...I try not to be."
She shook her head, amused. “No, you’re not. Still, I wouldn’t want to…eh, nevermind. But thanks for coming to warn me about what might happen.”
And she meant it. He didn’t have to come and had been genuine in his concern that something bad could happen to them out here.
Something bad HAD happened, her mind appended as CAnti spoke again.
(His face turned away for a sec, kind of like he was trying to gather his senses.)
"No problem, right? You'd do the same if it were the other way 'round, right?"
A reasonable question, but one she didn’t answer straight away. She had to consider it a moment. This was one of those questions that asked you to appraise your own personality – a thing most people were fairly bad at.
"I like to think so,” she said, answering as honestly as possible. “You never know until it happens though, do you?"
She stopped again. She had what she thought was also a reasonable question, and likely a force of the same self-appraisal. "How long does it take to get used to all this?"
(He did hear her, but he didn't respond at first. The question kind of bothered him.)
"I really don't know. I don't know how you get use to it, really."
(He looked like he wanted to say something else, but went silent instead.)
“No,” she said slowly. “I suppose I wouldn’t want to, either. Well, here’s hoping the next mission goes a little better than the last…”
(Suddenly, he found he couldn't look Senna in the eyes. It made him feel guilty.)
"Before we go back, I just wanna say...I'm sorry."
This earned him an arched eyebrow. She felt confused. "Whatever for?"
(There was a sidelong glance, but then his eyes stayed to the ground again, as if they were drilling holes.)
"I... When you joined us, I know how you felt, because we were all like that to begin with. Didn't believe it, didn't want to think it was possible. I noticed a change after we first spoke, and I realized that I made you believe."
(He paused a bit, then, now able to look her in the eye.)
"More than anyone else, it's my fault because I asked you to check on me in the real world. You could've left, unconvinced and safe, but I feel as though I'm the one who dragged you down into our own hell."
She waited for him to finish, but once he had, the response was immediate and serious. She’d long felt strongly that people as a whole did not take responsibility for their own actions. Every day it seemed, the world was coming up with another excuse for people to use to deny their own accountability. And such thought processes were enabled by others who were willing to take responsibility for things which were not their fault simply because they felt a sympathy or empathy with the troubled one. This would not do. She needed to take responsibility for her own actions.
"No you don't. Don't apologize for that. What happened to me is the fault of two people, myself and that Marionette bast... heh. Like you said. I knew. I could have left. I chose not to. Don't dare worry about that."
(This...caught him by surprise...and thus he was quiet for a moment, almost conflicted in thoughts. Then, with a slight smirk and a shaking of the head...)
"Alright, alright... You win. But let's make a little agreement, shall we? In addition to watching each other's backs, you keep me from saying or doing something stupid like that again and I'll... Well, I dunno, but I'll think of something. Deal?"
She laughed, then held out a hand. She was feeling a sort of strange kinship. Not friendship perhaps – she used that word only in guarded and few instances – but a feeling that they were both, in some instances, facing the same thing. Also, the feeling that, as he’d said, they’d watch each other’s backs. That might be more important than friends, if things were always going to be as exciting as they’d been that last field "Sounds good. Deal."
(Feeling much better, he took the hand and shook, now able to look at Senna without feeling guilty all of a sudden.)
"Let's go back. They're waiting for us."
(He gestured in an 'after you' sort of fashion, indicating that chivalry wasn't quite dead.)
She did as bid, as they reached the Chaos Gate. She wasn’t sure how to get back to the Hideout, but felt reasonably certain he did, so she’d just lead to Carmina Gadelica. The rest, as it usually does, would take care of itself. And who knew, maybe once things had worked out - in ways other than getting back to the hideout – maybe she’d be able to come to terms with things herself.
One can always hope.
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