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 Post subject: decisions, decisions....
PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 12:09 am 
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Location: ...Tracking...please wait...
”I'll do what I can.” Sheena's voice was weary. She had just spent a great deal of time and energy on putting Nall back together. Garaa's attacks weren't normal, not by a long shot. Just the simply physical attacks that had struck the two so-called leaders of the group had torn the character's inner data to shreds. It took a long time to put Nall back together, but finally the job was done. He was no longer in pain, and was sleeping peacefully.

Sheena had talent above all others when it came to the Twilight virus. She had always been the one to control Nall when he got too out of hand. This was, really, no exception. Just, now her abilities served a greater number of people.

A scan over Dien showed a much different situation than Nall's and Nighthand's, however. It wasn't a problem with Twilight, nor with Dien, just with how the two were interacting. And, unfortunately, there was nothing she could do.

”There's nothing I can do for him, I'm sorry. Any tampering with him I tried right now would damage him permanently. He has to pull out on his own.” Sheena's unusually sober voice woke Raine, who had long since trained herself to be alert, even in sleep, to unusual things. She sat up, yawning and stretching out her long limbs.

”But don't worry! I'm sure he'll come out of it fine!” That was more like it. Sheena quickly went to work on Nighthand, a significantly less intensive job. He had been hit less, for one thing, and his data was less complex than Nall's. Likely no one but Raine and Sheena would see more than a mess if they tried to scan Nall.

Sheena, now happy as ever that her work was done, bounce off around the corner in the common room. Raine smiled softly at her partner's antics. She was always like that, as much as Nall wanted to hope otherwise. The eternal optimist, full of bubbling energy that could barely be contained. And a devil on the battlefield, those few rare times she fought.

Abruptly, Nighthand sat up. Something had woken him. Judging by the internal gaze his posture assumed, it was a flashmail.

Flasmail
To Nighthand
From Tokki

I'm ready to die for you and the rest of the Freedom Fighters, Nighthand. If you'll let me prove my value. I lend all of my power and wisdom to you.


Short, and sweet. Still, he had to be wary. The last time they had seen Tokki was in a fight against Melzas, the elite of Ice, and the skeletal warrior had corrupted the Long Arm such that she fought against them. It had seemed that she had broken free from the grasp of the Heavyblade's mind control, but Nighthand couldn't be sure. She had disappeared soon after. His message in response was quick as well.

Flashmail
To Tokki
From Nighthand
It's good that you're once more willling and able to help us in our cause. I'd tell you where we are, so you could join us, but at the moment I'm not too sure myself. I'll let you know when I know where we are and where we're going, because I suspect that it won't be easy to get here.


Which reminded him... Where, really, were they?

”All I can offer is what I've been able to glean from the energy and the information I've gotten from people talking while you were asleep. Which isn't much. And that sounded like gibberish. Anyways, I suspect we're no longer in Delta or Theta. This is plainly a hideout, but on a scale of which we've never seen before. Raine and Sheena must have built it themselves. I suggest you ask them.”
Good to see you're talkative once again.
”I try.”

Nighthand climbed from the bed and quickly explored the rest of the hideout. For all that it was at least five times bigger than their previous hideouts, it wasn't really big at all. As he went from room to room, he gathered everyone up with the same message.

”Since Dien doesn't seem able to move, gather in the barracks room.”

Finding all that he could in the hideout, he returned to the room and waited for everyone to return. When they did, after a few minutes, he began to talk.

”I'm sure you all wonder a lot about what's going on, some of you more than others. I myself don't even know where we are, though I have my own suspicions. Raine will be best to answer those questions, but first, I have something to say.

What we've just been through, what we've just witnessed, is a massive amount of power. Only once before have the Elites even dared to attack the town, but this time it was a full-scale war. They brutalized the Admins. I don't know if you saw it or not, but I'm not even sure if ANY of them, Kamui, Balmung, even Tritoch are even still alive. For all I know they're now prisoners of the Elites and the hackers. Which means one thing; Our enemies are far more powerful than we dreamed.

They weren't even using their full power. They CAN'T even use it. Outside of their own server, their strongest abilities would send the official servers down in flames. We can't face these people, not as we are. Kuja, Jett? They were weak, compared to these. Make no mistake. We are fighting a war. No more hit or miss head on battles. We can't afford that. We need to think about what we're doing and we need to PLAN. This is a war I fully intend to win.”


Nighthand looked around, as if daring someone to speak. Raine, however, didn't allow time for a questions and comments section.

”Well said, Nighthand. You're right. This IS a war, and one Nall has been fighting far longer than any of the rest of you. This hideout was one of our first, and is the only one to remain. It was taking a huge chance bringing you here, but it seems to have paid off.

You see, this hideout isn't really IN a root town at all. It is, in fact, under one. Yes, that's right. This hideout is nested underneath the data of Carmina Gadelica, Lambda Server's root town. The data is carefully woven together with that of the town so that it's remained undetected. The NPCs you see in the shop room are simulations; they only tap in to the root town's NPC system when a purchase is made, and they add the GP and items to the most recent purchase in the server, automatically redirecting the items to us instead of to the one who placed that order. The Gate operates in a similar way, piggy-backing on the real gate only for as long as is needed to take us where we need to go. It's been deactivated for the moment, because with the Elites prowling for you right now, we can't afford anyone leaving and drawing attention to us all.

I've edited each of your characters with a key, so that you're able to enter and leave here. You'll probably never see the root town of Lambda, as selecting that server will bring you here instead. Going to one of the other servers will take you to that town, but I caution you; the admins AND the elites will be watching. You go to one of those other towns and I don't know if we'll be able to come and save you in time.

However, you no longer need to go to those towns to access fields on those servers. Our gate has a server select, so that you can choose a field on Delta, Theta, or Lambda from here. Just... try not to cause too much traffic. Again, we don't want to be noticed.

I heard that some of you are discontent with the arrangement we have here, and I'm sorry. I can make some changes but it'll take time.”


Nighthand picked back up again.

”Like I said, this is a war. Think of this like our one base of operations. Which simply leaves one question for me: Where do we go from here?”

Rayo, the one Nighthand had rather hoped would take up the call, was the first to offer an answer.

“What about Yamiyo server? We know that the elites head up a society of hackers. If we can move in and capture a lesser player, and have him give us information...”

”That wouldn't work.” Nall was sitting up now, though still in the bed. ”The hackers are too fast. Even if we could reach Yamiyo, they'd all be upon us in moments. And there, on THEIR server, they have no limits. That doesn't matter though, we couldn't reach Yamiyo anyways. Why do you think I havn't already taken them out, with Raine and Sheena? Why did you think we've spent so much time hoping to catch one of them in the regular servers, and find clues to their whereabouts? We can't FIND Yamiyo server. We were only able to reach it that once, because Garaa let us. He TOLD us to come, and left the door open for us. To find it now would be like searching for a single rare item known to be only in one dungeon in Delta at a time, but that moves from field to field. Even if we knew the doorway was on a field, it might be gone by the time we got there.”

Nall leaned back, closing his eyes, and once more letting the others speak for him.

”That's true. We can't get to Yamiyo. But, with a server so isolated, they have to have facilities in the regular servers. They have to come out, some time, or else their plan of infecting everyone is worthless. When they're in the normal servers, they have to have special systems in place so they can't be traced by the Admins. One of those systems is their Flashmails.

Now, most flashmail's are routed through a central server and sent to their destination character; if this character isn't logged in, then the flashmail bounces. Not so for the hackers, who are stuck in the game. They don't want their flashmail's caught and intercepted by the admins, however, so they set up their own system. It's devious, and it's right under their noses; Here in Lambda, Sheena and I have been working on a way to track them. We've managed to locate three of their hubs.”


”And to take out three hubs would cripple their communications. Sounds good to me. What are the keywords?”

”Closed Solitary Gate, Pulsing Light Trap Core, and Muted Illusionary Code. Beware, though, they won't be without their guards. We've only just discovered the locations, we don't know what the fields contain.”

”It's the only lead we have... So let's pick one.”



----------------------------------=ooc:
Alright, kind of a dull post. So, here's the plan. Talk about them, talk to the people (Sheena's absent at the moment), decide on a field. Rest, discuss strategies, all that good stuff. Dien, time to wake up before a pillow accidentally lands on you. >.> you're part of this too you know.

Don't worry, action comes soon. About the room additions; mention them to Raine and she'll work on it.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 2:50 am 
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Rayo listened to the blademaster’s explanation, content to receive information on Yamiyo Server. Since the group had been there once and since the party often traveled in unconventional means, it wasn’t too far off in assuming the hacker’s server was within reach, but what wasn’t doable wasn’t doable. Still, Nall’s annoyed reaction was unwelcome, though not entirely unexpected. The plan may not have seemed all that well thought out, but the lack of knowledge the party had hindered ideas until they bounced around. Furthermore, the wavemaster never even got the chance to finish his thought. Supplying the rest of his reasoning might have helped with formulating a different approach. It’s not as if Rayo believed Nall wasn’t trying what he could, but no one was perfect, not everything was necessarily considered.

Nodding as Raine supplied the information on a workable course of action, the mage had a few issues with the plan thus far. The specifics for the fields were wholly unknown, leaving names that could be pointless as the only guides. As much as the second field could be bright, like a fire or thunder field, irony might place it as a darkness one instead. The last could be hinting at an inability to perform speech adequately, or it could be just as stupid a name as any other of the randomly assigned keywords.

The second issue was with timing. A good scenario could play out with a victory at the first field. Still, there were likely additional hubs beyond the three located so far. The news of their loss would pass on and the remaining locations fortified further. A second strike might also work, but each additional strike would leave the party with a greater chance of having to deal with an Elite, maybe even two or three. Splitting up to take out the remaining two posed a greater risk, since the fields would probably go from well guarded to Elite protected. The smaller groups could become a liability and their main guns couldn’t focus on handling any Elite interference at a single local. If the strikes went in the opposite order however…


“I had a thought about the strikes. Naturally, if all three hubs could be neutralized the hackers would be hindered the most. If we were to analyze our own forces and separate us into two flexible units, two of the fields could be taken out simultaneously. Nall and Nighthand could be split up logically to provide greater firepower for each front and guard from unexpected dangers. If anything went horribly wrong, Raine and Sheena could bail out a field’s team, assuming they weren’t attached to either specifically. Assuming the first two blows against the Elites proved to be worthwhile, the two units could rendezvous at the third field and link up. With the combined power, it should help make up for their increased defense and allow us to finish the matter faster. Also, if two of the hubs were taken out, it might slow down, even if slightly so, any response by the hackers. We don’t know how many other fields they’re using, so if we have a bit of luck the Elites would be spread out among them afterwards, if used at all. If our entire group faces only one, then the attack could even be changed into the slaughter of the Elite in question. If I’m not mistaken, our group is in possession of three twilight items. Challenging a single member of their best doesn’t seem unreasonable. If we wait and attack only a single field at first…we might lose out on opportunities to handle the others.”

The magician finished, feeling his suggestion had been fully explained. Even if the plan was accepted teams would need to be formed, but such matters could wait until they were fully necessary. The plan could simply be shot down, but it was a strategy worth mention.

Hitting all three at once would spread out their forces too thin, among roles that the group didn‘t have in triples. Hacker support, main powerhouse, and so on. The lack of proper support magic might be an issue, but proper member placement could probably remedy that.

On a less vital note, the wizard pondered if there were any additions he might enjoy if added to the hideout. A library or study would probably be relaxing, the kind with the big chairs one could rest in so enjoyably…but that was asking for too much. The ones capable of making such changes probably had better ways to spend their time than cater to interior decorating complaints.

_________________
Rayo
Lv.47 Archer 745HP/311SP
Bell, the Silver Grunty of Thunder
Skills/Spells-Shocking Arrow of Voltage(30), Arrow of the Burning Stars(10), MeRai Rom(40), Rai Kruz(10), La Repth(20), Rip Maen(40), MeRai Kruz(20), GiVak Kruz(20), MeRai Don(20), Rig Saem(15)
Weapon/Armor/Book-Golden Royal Bow/Thunder Torque, Thunder Cloak, Able Ring, Ivory Greaves/Thunder Magic
Wishlist: YL Fukuoka, Stormlore, Winter Stone, Silver Grunty


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 4:10 am 
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Zan had long since moved himself into the barracks, the one area where he had the proper quiet to indulge himself in some peace. That was, of course, after all the drama Phoenix made about Dien going into shock. A little surprised that it was Reinier of all people busting out the medical know-how, he waited until it had settled down once more before he moved himself toward the corner of the room, away from the majority of prying eyes as he slipped off his leather coat and laid it along one of the comforters of the beds. Next he took off his boots, setting them halfhazzardly next to each other, socks stuffed inside. Giving his toes a rather enjoyable flex for a moment, he began to lift his shirt off and over his head, a cheesy, stereotypical strip club song starting to play in his head. Laughing a touch to himself, he tossed the green shirt over his coat and stretched his arms above his bed, the muscles and form he had thanks to his infection with Twilight rippling and coiling with the effort. Leaving both his black pants and his silver full-moon necklace on (oh how the ladies frowned, he was sure) the lycanthrope made sure he had a little room for what he was about to do.

Every since he had consumed that girl in Mac Anu he had been gnawed at with hunger, practically eaten alive inside out by it. In truth, all it was was the growling of the Beast, another outlet he had given it to bother him. Luckily, after considering a few gruesome options, he had come up with an alternative. Zan had rarely ever savored any extracurricular activities during his high school years. However, there had been one thing that he still used today, that he was surprised he had forgotten since his infection. The martial arts had never been his strength and he didn't claim to have such a power now. The one thing the pointless karate classes had taught him, however, was to move his anger (something he had always had, that the Beast had only amplified) out through meditational movements. It was stupid, really. But it was all he had right now to distract him from the mute rumble of his stomach. If there was another thing Zan could wish for, it would be for some natural hungers. All he wanted right now was to run through a forest and actually hunt something down. The chase made their heart pump faster, made fear spice their meat and make their blood that much sweeter. Mmm...and the still-beating heart of someone still alive...he'd kill to rip into one of those. Literally, he supposed. As disgusted as he was with himself, he could hold no such discrepancies with the food he wanted. Ah well. That would come another day, if ever.

A deep breath taken, Zan positioned his feet together, his fists clenched upside down and to his sides as all thoughts of food were forced away. What wasn't pushed aside, however, was the Beast. For the first time in, well forever, he embraced his inner-cruelty, his inner-rage, his inner-killer...and let it boil over his skin. It felt like a legion of ants crawling over and under his flesh, trying to break free, to rip and eat its way into fruition. For a while his skin flexed with the telltale signs of his oncoming transformation, his teeth constantly shifting from normality to duel-rows of razor animosity and back again. After a while, after a period of growls and tests of will, Zan conquered it. He could feel it still drifting over his flesh, but it existed more now as a breeze, a current, rather than an army of insects. Exhaling the breath he had taken, the lycanthrope pushed both of his hands out in front of him, the air rippling with the inner-conflict of man and animal. What would look like heat was actually an expression of his crossing energies, of the line he currently walked between civility and primal madness. Only the air around him held this edge, hands flowing in slow, turtle-paced combat gestures as he felt that hunger began to slip away. Each contact his fists made with his invisible targets was imagined as well, each strike thought to be a sweep of claws through flesh rather than knuckles against bone. It made the Beast happy, made it content as a league of sick, twisted thoughts consumed Zan's trance, his body continuing its movements and patterns. When all of the hunger had come to nil and Zan drew his Beast back to his core, the air around him stopped its waves and settled, leaving Zan to eye Dien and the plans he had been pondering since his wake up, slipping on his clothes before such plans could be acted upon.

With his exercise stopped, Zan drifted over to Dien's bed, eyeing the unconsciousness and would-be idle form. That, however, was not who he wanted to talk to. "Danielle? Are you able to come out of there?" The last time they had talked, the AI had come undone. Or something. Would she even respond?

"Behind you," she said, Dien barely moving at her appearance, "what's up?"

Not jumping, his Instinct perking at her presence before the first syllable left her lips, he simply turned to face her. "You know...if I was anybody else, I would have jumped up about five feet out of my skin right about then."

She smiled, taking a seat next to the cradle that Reinier had made for his feet on the bed, in the relatively small space that was there. Looking up to the heavyblade, her eyes squinted. "You know, I don't think I got your name out of our last conversation."

That was odd. Hadn't he...? No, guess not. "Yea, my apologies. I just assumed you could read Dien's brain or whatever and get all that information that way. Sorry for the assumption." Holding out his hand, if only for the gesture (knowing full well she couldn't actually touch him), he continued. "Zan. Though the women in my life have a knack for calling me Conner. Either is fine, but don't spread that around."

Still, she put her hand forward, the image of their hands in contact for a moment the best gesture she could give to him for the moment, "Zan'll probably work best," Danielle said, pulling back her hand, "and don't worry about assumptions: the hacker that made me assumed I was male, so don't feel bad." A smile crossed her lips, a bit embarrassed if an AI could be such. After a moment of awkward silence, she spoke again, "So, was there something you wanted to talk about?"

Smirking at her words, surprised a stranger could rouse him from his usual broodish mood; the lycanthrope drifted his eyes away from her own. This was going to be weird. "Well, I heard Dien talking before about being some sort of hippy hacker. And you seem to be one of the most realistic AI's I've run into in this game. One of the most complex. I...." Zan's voice stopped cold. Why couldn't he just ask for some help? What was so hard about that?

"Oh no, I'm sorry if you misunderstood," she said, quickly stepping in, "Dien didn't make me, I'm a parallel version of another program that installed itself during the whole ordeal in the tower." Her voice trailed off, and a quick look to the player told her that she had just misunderstood him. "That's not what you wanted to say, was it?" There was a touch of concern in her voice, almost as though she felt suddenly foolish in front of this boy.

Zan's eyes returned to her own, his Siberian Husky blues wavering with failing strength, the front he put up for everyone else seeming to chip away around another female. A stranger, more specifically. He had to be tough around everyone else, had to be dependable. But her? "No, heh. It wasn't. Did...did you happen to overhear the conversation I had with Dien? About the little, uh, expedition of sorts I went on when the Freedom Fighters split up for a while?"

Danielle shook her head, letting her eyes close in their time. "No," she said, "sorry, but I was a bit busy fending off the infection, and unlike Reinier's dragon I can't harmlessly scroll through his thoughts." Eyes gazed off to one side, her lips muttering something about dragons and not having the strength to fight.

Zan was silent then, not really wanting to go over it all again. Maybe...he had an idea. "Hmm. Well...I might have a way. In the real world...lycanthropes, even borvos, carry memories in their blood." He held up a hand before she could question it, letting off a small, dry laugh as he did. "I know, it sounds crazy. But maybe my Plures Vultus Mortis has the same properties. Seeing as you can't actually consume the blood I'm going to draw...and I know, it's gross...but maybe you can take the data it probably carries. You're an AI who, apparently, reads code. Maybe a touch would do?" Nicking a line along his forearm with his Horse Killer, a small rivulet of blood trickling down, unhealing in his human form...he offered up the cut, putting everything that had happened to him from his trip into the Shadow up until now; including the dreams, the memories from Lowen, every visit, and every emotion and presence (both real world and not) they had shared together.

Cringing at the thought, the girl was hesitant, to say the least, about touching the character's blood. Hell, she wasn't even sure it would work, if her abilities could even adapt to that kind of interface, but then again the boy had just cut himself for her. Sighing, and keeping her eyes closed, she slowly put her finger in the blood that seeped down his arm. All at once, a flood of images, thoughts, emotions, sounds, scents, and stories drove into her mind. A slight gasp, and a tear fell down her cheek, the fate of the three pack-members revealed, and then a smile at the joy of Lowen, of seeing their happiness. She knew the story, now, the whole tale, and her misted eyes opened. After a sniff, and a rub from her sleeve to rid her eyes of tears, she attempted to speak once again, her voice a little weaker than it had been. "Well I'm pretty sure that Dien, that Jed, is sharing the same fate as the rest of you Freedom Fighters, so he won't be able to hack your data-wound open again." She stopped, another image of the girl's pain crossing her mind, "I'm...sorry. If there's any chance for either of us to do anything, I will let you know immediately."

Flexing his arm and his arm alone into the toned muscle of the Clabro, he watched the wound heal in a blink, his weapon stashed in his inventory once more. Zan shouldn't have expected more. "Yea...I guess I saw that coming. She just..." His head dipped forward then, the hood of his cloak pulled over his head, concealing his face as he spoke once more. "She's in so much pain and there's nothing I can do about it. I'm stuck here with asinine tasks and missions that aren't exactly, you know, asinine really, but they're taking up time. I have resources I could use, but I'm too caught up. I can't leave everyone here for Lowen. I want to, I should...but I can't. Not yet. And I know she doesn't want me to. They aren't going to kill her. But if I leave the Freedom Fighters...a lot of people could die. God, Danielle...she cried her heart out against me and there was nothing I could do to ease it." A hand disappeared into the blackness of his hood, coming back moistened with tears. He was being an idiot. A weak, stupid little God damn...guh. Stop crying. Reinier or Jinx is going to walk by and laugh at you. He tried to tell himself.

"Hey," she said, putting her hand forward in an attempt to grasp at his, but frustrated as the two passed through one another, "don't stop crying. There may yet be something I can do..." Her voice trailed off, and she thought on it for a while. Danielle had first been attracted to Dien because of the unique connection he had to the game: what if there was something there, still? Something, possibly, that she could use...? No, that would mean facing off with Twilight again, and that thought was not appealing. Another image of Lowen being tortured crossed her mind, and she closed her eyes, another tear spilling onto her cheek. There was no getting around it: she had to do something. "I have an idea," she said, breaking the silence yet again, "I'll have to check on it a little more, but there may be a way to wake him up in the real world, somehow."

Too late, the lycanthrope mused inwardly, the tears in his eyes already drying, that wall beginning to rebuild itself slowly but surely. He didn't have the time to engross himself in the sorrow the situation held. For now, it had to be checked. When he was sure his face had normalized itself, that his eyes weren't swollen and the tears had ceased completely, he looked up at her with hope in his eyes. "Oh? Thank you. I mean it...I need a little hope these days. Whenever you figure something out, if you do, please let me know. Thanks for listening to my babble, I'm sorry if it's been hard to keep yourself projected so clearly for so long."

"Oh n-no," she said, twitching momentarily, "it was nothing." Another smile, and her arm jerked itself laggishly again. "If I'm right about a couple things, though, you'll owe me pre-pretty big when it's all over." It was no joke, but she could already feel her form beginning to flicker in static. A wave, and again she was gone from view, off to wait for the blademaster's recovery. There were a few things she wanted to run past his knowledged brain, but that would have to wait for him to be conscious.

With all of that put behind him for now, Zan began to make his way out of the barracks when the rest seemed to be arriving. Huh. Staying where he was, hopping up lazily on a free bed near Dien, he listened intently as Nighthand, Raine, and Nall in turn all spelt out their concerns and plans and realizations...the whole deal. It wasn't an entire surprise to Zan, but it was in part. Had he not told the newbies that they were getting themselves into a war? Even still...the way it was all phrased, the attacks being planned on the hubs and all of that...it was intense. No longer would they be doing their Hail Mary attacks on random Elites. Those bastards were far too pissed off to deal with anything even remotely like that. They're luck was out. This was real and it was only getting worse. Scratching the back of his head, Zan soon found himself board and annoyed at his own thoughts, moving to drift over to where Reinier had found himself. The lycanthrope already had some ideas formulating in his head and, hopefully, Pebbles would agree with them.

Turning his attention away from both Raine and Nighthand, Zan directed his own question towards Reinier in a mild whisper. "You've been around longer than I have, which one of those is probably least likely to maim us?"

Reinier held up the notepad he had picked up in one of the rooms, and began to scuffle through his notes. He gnawed on a pencil, and nodded slightly to himself. "Closed Solitary Gate, for sure. One of those places has the word 'light' in it, and light equals Royce. I want to avoid her like the plague. The other has illusion in it. That can be taken for ice tricks Melzas can pull off... I don't have to warn you about him. The Gate though... it's probably just some lesser hacker no one cares about. We should be able to fair best there," Reinier whispered back to his friend, nodding to himself again.

Watching with a vague sense of entertainment as Reinier got in thinking mode, musing over Zan's question, the lycanthrope waited for him to finish before he offered up his own input. "Maybe. After I saw what that bitch can do with that one freak spell of hers...I'm in rush to go after her either. And Melzas...that fucker is the one that put me in a coma. I'm tempted to gear after him right now and regret that he ever touched me. But I couldn't, not really. And how do we even know any of them are there? Eh, but I digress. We really don't know who could be in the gate field. Wouldn't you rather deal with people you're familiar with rather than someone who could potentially be worse?" Maybe he was off, maybe this would only screw him and everyone else over...but it was logical.

A smile crawled across Reinier's face. The scarlet haired boy looked over to Zan, fright apparent in his eyes, and said, "You saw what they're capable of, at not even full force. They're pissed. They're beyond pissed now. That's why I don't want to face them right now, because I do know what they're capable of. You could feel the fire of Royce's anger against your skin, couldn't you? Hell, you could taste how pissed she had become. 'Hell hath no scorn like a bitch,' says The Bible. Well, right now she's pissed off more then an Ethiopian watchin' a doughnut roll down a hill. Give it time, give them all time. Their anger'll subdue a tad, and then we'll strike... when they're less hesitant to slaughter us in an instant."

Zan couldn't help but smile at that in turn, rare laughter crawling through his throat and past his lips to disrupt the quiet he had attempted to keep up in this conversation. "Maybe you're right. I really don't want to face them when they're hell bent on ripping us to bloody tatters...but anger can make people do foolish things. If we go to the field with Melzas or Royce...if they're even there...we could have a chance to find them tripping up. It could be a chance we'll never get again. I'm so damn sick and tired of surprises, aren't you? Each one of those fields is going to have them. The first one, if we're right about the other two, is going to have even more surprises. It seems like we'll be able to keep our heads together better with a little familiarity, that's all."

Reinier closed his eyes and shook his head. "They're not the 'Elites' for nothing, though. Royce... Imagine you're walking in the desert," Reinier outstretched his hand and concentrated upon the sand in the other room. Inch by inch, the amount of sand that had been conjured up found its' way in to the barracks, and on to Reinier's bed. He placed two fingers in the sand, and moved one finger in front of the other, as if it were walking. "I'm a visual person, sorry. Anyway, you're walking in the sun. Light plays tricks on your eyes, my friend, it can make you think a cactus is your best friend. That's my theory on her powers, anyways. Light... it's interesting... It might be pure power, but we don't know... Melzas... well, he's just a bony bitch I don't want to deal with now. I hate the cold... That's just the Texan in me speakin', though." Reinier removed his fingers from the sand, smiled, and scratched the back of his head.

Quirking a brow, Zan watched the little presentation, crossing his arms with a slight edge of intrigue in his eyes. When nothing beyond the sand came and Reinier's little show was over, he continued his point. "Right, but what about the possibility of the other one, hmm? What if his or her powers are far more devastating? What if that person could keep us in a labyrinth forever of their own making. An infinite realm of gates and doors and locks and weaves...we don't know. We can't know. Yet...with the other two...we have some idea. We could plan more effectively around stuff we have some experience in. I'm tolerant of the cold, myself. But that's the New Yorker in me talkin'. I would suggest the one that sounds like Melzas' field, but the guy pisses me off. What with the trapping me here, as I said. I don't need to be any angrier than I am. Outside forces are keeping me distracted enough. I think we should go for the Light one."

Reinier let out a laugh, and crossed his legs on the bed as he set down both hands this time in upside down "V" shapes. In a high pitched voice, he called out, "Roar, I'm Royce! I hate you! Grrr!" As Reinier said this, he wiggled his left hand about. Then, he began to move his right hand about, and in a deeper voice called out, "Well I'm Nighthand, bleh bleh bleh! I think I'm tough shit!" From that point, Reinier shot a bit of sand at his right hand, making it fall over. "Oh noes! You used Ultima and raped me! I'm fucking dead!" Reinier smiled once more, and cleared his throat, putting a closed fist against his lips as he did this. "That was my first encounter with Royce. First real one, at least." Reinier explained looking in to the Lycan's eyes, just hoping to put some sense in to the kid.

Zan sighed, his ring finger of his right hand coming up to scratch his brow. He wasn't listening. "Yea, I get that. And don't look at me like that. I'm not being naive. I know plenty well what she's capable of doing. Well, I know in part. And that's the key word right there, my friend. Know. What if this other guy could simply blink you out of existence? I'd rather be raped by Royce, not literally...eck, than have to face something that could simply render to my code, my mind, and my soul all into blankness with a thought. Can you tell me that this third party won't be able to do any of this? Going into that field is treading in murky waters. I like my water a little less...polluted."

"That ten cent whore Royce is as polluted as you get my friend. And she's the leader, meanin' the most powerful. So, in theory, we'll be fighting someone not as strong as her. And if whomever we're fighting isn't an Elite, which we know would be true if we see them and don't instantly recognize them, then we'll have a better chance of winning." At that point, Reinier reached out and grabbed Zan by the shirt collar, and pulled him in closer. He pulled gently, and continued to pull until Reinier could reach out and whisper a few gentle words to his ear. "Plus, the morons around us, Phoenix, Jinx, these greenhorns... They would hit some kind of euphoria to find their opponent isn't some Hacker GOD. They'll be useful to us, knowing that the group stands a chance to win." Reinier released Zan, and pulled back to continue his speech. "Furthermore, you know what happens to the moral levels when we see an Elite. Random hacker? It'll stay the same. Royce? Melzas? In the shitter. Fast."

Huh. Finally...finally he had managed to snag a point worth paying attention to. "Hmmm. I guess I have no real response with that. But, you know...that whole collar thing? Anybody else here could have gotten their limb removed. You're lucky I actually respect you." Smoothing out his collar, he pressed on. "I guess I have no repose. If I want a little faith invested in my opinions, I need to invest a little in the opinions of others. You have my vote. Mysterious hacker it is."

Reinier smiled, joy rushing and jumping within his stomach. He gave a slight nod and let out another laugh, and said, "Yeah, I'm a sucker for dramatics..." Reinier held up his notepad, and flipped to a new page. He wrote out each keyword, and under "Closed Solitary Gate," he added two tick marks symbolizing votes. He hopped off the bed, and looked down at the sand. Reinier shot out his hand, and the sand flew off the bed and scattered down upon the ground. Reinier looked around, and finally said to Zan, "Guess I'll be the tallier for this expedition..." Reinier did the traditional Lifeguard whistle, that of a rising note that descended immediately down to the starting note. He raised his notepad and called out, "I'll take the tallies for what field we're visiting. I've got two for 'Closed Solitary Gate' so far. Just swing by and tell me your field o' choice, and I'll mark ya down."

That's when Zan drifted from the rest of the group, coming to lay himself on one of the barrack excuses for a bed. He was still in hearing distances to the rest of the conversations going on, but at least he had some time to think to himself in all of this. As Zan had told his friend, he was no fan of surprises. Going into a field with absolutely no prediction over what was going to happen was a little frightening. It made him want to pace...but pacing only agitated him and he had just gotten over the little meditation and Beast bitch-fit. Zan did not, did not need it to start whining again. Perhaps, though, he should talk to Raine or Sheena or whoever about adding the kitchen. That would make the whole thing easier on him, in the long run. To have something to come back to, knowing raw meat was always just so far away...it would ease his mind when the hunger came. Or, more realistically, possibly inflate it. Either way, knowing he had a meat source back 'home' would do at least a little something to ease his thoughts and man would that be one hell of a change in pace.

For now, though, he closed his eyes and relaxed. In time...in time.

_________________
Lv. 50 Heavy Blade
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Special: Levels, GR Sendai, PL Sakai, Darklore.
W: Tonosama Sword, Mineuchi, Jundachi.
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I: Holy Sap, Treebane, Cooked Bile, Nightbane.
EX: Elemental Summon (Lv. 2), Overdrive (Lv.1), Elemental Attacks (Lv. 2), Enhance Dark, Elemental Breath (Lv. 2).


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 1:53 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 13, 2006 3:58 pm
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Location: In da' plains of hell, natch.
(The last thing he remembered, before darkness claimed him, was looking up all of a sudden and seeing Reinier - the Earth-dude who was supposedly the guy that was looking after him - in the sky there, doing something or other that didn't look right. Comprehension of what that thing was only dawned on Canti after it happened. Earth spikes, very deadly. He was out from the shock of being killed in The World by one of his apparent allies. That was after Mac Anu, and now he was out cold in the worst way. Shortly before this all happened, Canti had been hallicinating. Part of it had to do with The World, but without malevolent influence, and part of it had to do with himself. The high of his prior dose came down hard like his adrenaline surge, leaving him distraught and lost in his own head. He saw things, images of things... A crow, a fox, an eagle, a hydra... None of it made any sense and he barely remembered any of it after getting hit by Reinier. Afterward, however...)

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

(You have to appreciate the kind of mental setup that Canti had, especially after a dose or two of the attitude-control/dream-suppression drug, Nephilim. It left him with a psyche that was a little screwed up. Perceptive, but lacking in foresight. Quick in reactions, but slow to realization. Anything that happened at the drop of a hat was easy to cope with. Anything that required his extensive planning might never get completed. He wasn't a leader and he wasn't a follower. He was just Canti. But unlike Dien or Zhao, he didn't get voices in his head that came from having personality problems. Canti WISHED he was insane. That way, he wouldn't have to worry about things. No, the problem was that he was sane in thought, but not in action. He had clarity of mind, but a jumble of problems in real life. Hence, the Nephilim. Without it, he'd be a depressed maniac who spends time thinking of ways to die. Or at least, that's what HE thought. The real Canti, known as Damon, had merely caught an addiction, his psychosomatic need coming from his personal life issues, which he couldn't get over yet, but might just be able to if he just tried. But in the red-brown haze swimming in his mind, something never rested, something that was maybe the flicker of regret or a vague memory, that just said NO. The fox saw this in the crow that he was, and understood. He didn't really have anything, did he? And now, he had even less. The fox tried to comfort the crow, even though his wings had broken a long time ago. But that was the problem with the crow. Like the eagle and the hydra, he knew what was true. Pain was the only way to live. That's the lesson that we learn before we die.)

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

(He awoke to a room that he never knew, a headache that he'd never felt, and a pain that he never imagined. The room was circular, unfamiliar, and had various things in it that were a little too blurry to take in yet. The lack of things fighting him spelt safety in his mind, though he had the feeling that total safety was doubtful. Something was very wrong here. This wasn't the headache of a man who's been on a binge. His chest and back didn't hurt because he'd strained something. He'd been hit full-force with a powerful attack and DIED. The vague impression of having been a ghost lingered, but he was very clearly alive and not well at the moment. Status: Red. Level: Twelve. Items: More than he remembered having. Okay... He liked 'em, though. They looked rather nice. Anyway, people were moving around and talking, some of them fast. Canti didn't know what was going on, where he was, or what the holy fuck Reinier had been thinking - but he was gonna find out. He found Zan first, looking like hell in the sense of his health AND in his devilish appearances. Not a good combo. He spoke up to get his attention, but it was clear that Zan - like usual - preferred that he didn't. Well, that was his tough luck.)

Canti: Agh... What the hell...? Hey, Zan... I've got a headache this big...

(He made a gesture to indicate that it was a fairly sizeable one.)

Canti: ...and I feel like something heavy landed on my spine. I didn't... I didn't really get killed by Reinier, did I? That's all I remember... Okay, that and some screwed up dreams, but they don't count.

"Yes, you did. Like I told you asshats from the beginning, staying with us too long is going to get you comatosed. And look what happened. Welcome to your new home. The pain sucks, doesn't it?"

(Comprehension of what Zan was saying dawned on Canti, as a man confronted by the Grim Reaper would about his death shortly after walking up with a bad hangover and before his morning breakfast. It was a hard thing to digest, running on only two cognative cylinders out of six. Canti put his hand to his forehead in disgust as he realized what this meant. And what'd he mean he 'stuck with them'?! He didn't even stay for that long and THEY were the ones who advised him to stay while he was still flagged. All he had to do was wait around 'till someone de-flagged him and then he was off, BUT NO! Bastard Admins came by, then their happy-go-freaky Elite Hackers. Oh, lovely freakin' day! Sure, the action wasn't bad, but fuck! So now, you could hear Canti muttering half-curses in a hard-to-control anger, because he had been royally screwed. The situation was never in his control, he never saw it coming, and this shit always happened! Still...he calmed down. It wasn't really their fault. They DID say that he could bail out if he liked, mostly to Zhao when he spoke up, but it was for all to hear. He could've left...and he didn't. That only left what comes after...)

Canti: Oh yeah, this sucks alright. I was coming down from the last dose I took, and then something hit me hard right before Reinier blew me up. How come he did that, anyway?

(The 'hard hit' before Reinier didn't refer to a monster, but mental incapacitation, the likes of which, he couldn't remember. Just...one minute, fighting, and then...welcome to Reinier-based Painville. The question had a grim reaction from Zan as he told him.)

"Xenobia...she can touch you and basically make you her butt monkey. I killed Dien like Reinier did you. Infected him too. Rayo himself got infected and passed it on to Zhao when he killed him as well. All because of that bitch."

Canti: Xeno...?

(The name didn't immediately ring a bell in his hungover head at first, but then a vision of the Twin Blade passed in his mind, the sadistic yet thoroughly-enchanting assassin that seemed to have mass control over the Knights of War, as much so as the guy who raised the dead soldiers to attack everyone. That Twin Blade Elite was suppose to be the leader or something, which seemed proven by her apparent abilities. All of the hackers seemed to make Suraisu look like a puppy-dog, but she had even greater powers. Canti also remembered something else.)

Canti: Oh yeah... Someone said they were gonna fight her. I kept back 'cause it was obviously suicide for me. So, it wasn't Reinier's fault, then...

(That was kind of a relief, really. Imagine, his ally becoming his enemy and that he'd be wanting to tear that guy's throat into pieces, but being far too down the line in abilities and strength to even make it possible. That would've sucked even more than being here like this, trapped in the body of Lord Canti of the Black Flames. Okay, not everything was bad, but the cons heavily outweighed the pros. Canti looked around, speaking of being here. This place was, as stated before, totally unfamiliar to him...yet it had a sense of being safe.)

Canti: Another hideout? How many you got?

"Not too sure. I think this is the last one. I was never told about it, though. It's pretty nice compared to the others. It has some shops, if you need any items. A Chaos Gate...that I'm pretty sure doesn't even work. And, let's see...ah, yea, a common room just outside of here and a meeting room near that. It's a decent set up."

(Zan shrugged as he spoke, betraying an understandable indifference to the subject. "Nice place. Where's the fridge?" and all, right? Yeah... This was basically someone's pad, a fixer-upper that was apparently not too bad as far as they go. That the Chaos Gate didn't work was hardly a bother at this point.)

Canti: Yeah...

(He took another look around. Leaving this place would be pointless anyway. He was a lost soul in The World now, slightly more pick-off-able than even before. Someone would notice what happened to him. Nobody looked after him or anything, but being in a coma when he runs a business? Yeah...definitely. He'd be noticed. The question was...would he be missed?)

Canti: So now...I'm stuck freedom fighting until either I'm dead or they are.

(He sighed, feeling down. This was all pretty shitty, even for him. Oh sure, he'd been low before, maybe looking for a way out, or maybe looking for a way in. It all depended. Canti was never sure what he wanted. He tried to live and failed to die and...that's about it.)

Canti: I kinda' knew, going in, that something was wrong...when this all started back at the tower. I just didn't think about it enough. Maybe if I thought ahead some time, I'd be better off, here...and outside. But this is what I let happen to me... I wonder... Would it even matter if I ever got back?

(A smile was given, though it wasn't built on any real sympathy. Zan felt no remorse in Canti. They'd all gotten up shit-creek. Still, Zan bothered him, and he was beginning to figure out why as he spoke.)

"Welcome to the questions we've all asked ourselves. You have one hell of a road ahead of you, kid. Just wait until your first power shows itself. That's about the only highlight. Well, unless you're Dien. Whatever his power is sucks ass. It's eating him alive."

(Too blunt, too callous. If he tried hard enough, Canti could find it in himself to give a damn about people. He wasn't dead to the world YET. The fact that the mention of Dien's problems caught his concern proved that even he could feel something. Zan, however, was a pain in the ass, and that made Canti glare at him strangely with those black pits he calls eyes.)

Canti: Don't call me kid, alright? I may BE a kid, but I also gotta work for a living. What do you mean about Dien, though? He's usually the stable one. What's wrong with him?

(Zan looked like he wasn't paying attention until the bit about Dien came up.)

"Twilight is conflicting with him. Doesn't seem to be bonding well."

(Then, he smirked at him as he added...)

"Kid."

Canti: Tch.

(To which Canti responded with a slight smile and a flip of the bird.)

Canti: Ass.

(Then he dropped that aside to move on and say...)

Canti: I didn't know that could happen. Well, I guess we'll find out when I get there. I don't feel anything but the pain of living. Hope that this all means the picture won't get fuzzy anymore...

(He was referring to the brown-red haze, but while that may have been a glitch that only he seemed to suffer in terms of graphics and sound, it was probably not the last he ever heard of it. In fact, it was more than likely - due to all things conforming to the way they were in his head and in The World - that they would happen alot. Unable to not laugh at that last bit, Zan nodded in agreement with his statement, though.)

"Yeah, I always found that to be an improvement. I'd get some more rest though, kid. You look like shit."

(And with that, he retreated back to his desired place of being, namely bed. Kid, huh? Well, it beat Slacker. Much as Zan irritated him, he was right, about everything. It was his fault, he was in the stew-pot, there was a helluva road ahead, and he looked like shit. That made Canti more than able to pretty much desire same as him, since he was still in the red, and looked it. Canti sat in one of the more comfortable chairs and found, of all things, a mirror nearby. This was fortunate because his face had felt funny after it stopped hurting. All his pains were trying to die down properly, but something odd was taking its place. He looked in the mirror and muttered a "WTF?!", with all the proper confusion entaled therein. Zan had to have noticed, but probably didn't care. Someone had drawn on his face, making him look like either Fu Manchi or Ming The Merciless. Some kind of evil Chinese fellow. It didn't matter. So, on the one hand, he had to admire the detail put into it. But on the other hand, this was a cruel joke to be playing on a dead man, especially if that dead man was suddenly resurrected as he had. So, the only thing to figure out was who had done it. Well, DUH...)

Canti: Jinx.

(That was obvious. The only plus here was that he looked like an amusing conception of the devil. Still, he rubbed this off and decided to sift through things, now that his mind was in one piece. Canti did not currently give a damn with whatever was going on. Dien and Zhao had to come to terms with this shit, just like him. Of course, Dien was being eaten by himself. He couldn't figure on that one... Still, what could he do? So, Canti decided to let the experts handle the field that they themselves were stuck in and focus largely on himself. Let's see... Items. A few new ones here, including a pair of weapons that he hadn't bought. Canti was going to have to figure out a way to use all these. Some of them were two valuable to lose. These knives, the Bloody Twin and the Dante's Blades. Similar design, different power. He couldn't use the latter yet. Canti also noticed...the Unknown Item was going. It went from being a little question mark to being the blades he couldn't use. He could tell that. Also, he rather liked the new weapons. No elemental power like the Shadow Blades, but they had dark abilities, and the Bloody Twin Drained. Excellent... The presence of these darklings calmed him for some reason. How odd. Well, nevermind... He'd sort it all out later. Canti lay back into the chair to recover.)

Canti: Ugh... What the hell am I doing here...?

(Those were his closing mutterings on the matter as he fell asleep, not even sure what to do next, or even IF there was a next. Canti's thoughts were running too far in a jumble with all this, and the voices he kept hearing - external ones from around the hideout - weren't helping either. He was able to achieve a fitfull slumber, which improved things, but he was miserable. Not cranky-miserable, just life-sucks-miserable. He slept until Nighthand woke him up.)

"Since Dien doesn't seem able to move, gather in the barracks room."

(The only response he got, though, aside from getting up as requested, was a growl that might be a passable Zan. Okay, so maybe he was a little cranky. You'd be too! The only thing that bothered him right now was, of course, Dien. With no great offense to Zhao, Dien was probably the only one he could relate to right now and he was being racked with pains he couldn't even imagine! Zhao - the hydra that bit its own heads - was too many minds of things. In any case, upon entering the right room, Nighthand began to fill them in...thought he didn't know this hideout very well either. Anyway, the gist of the matter was that the Elites had been very bold when they attacked Mac Anu, which was just Canti's luck that they did at THAT time. The Admins had taken a beating and may already be dead and gone. Was that possible? Yeah. Likely? Who knows? Maybe that bitch was dead... Still, the problem here was power. They had it and we didn't. Even outside their lair, it was too much. Homefield advantage didn't add up to shit. So, they needed a plan. Well, good luck. Canti's brain-fried, so don't count on him except for execution-of-plan. That left Raine to speak. He didn't really know Raine, or any of these people, but they were stuck here now... Seems that this secret hideout really was a secret, being down below Carmina. Canti had visited Carmina Gadelica before, just to see it. He liked the place. Too bad it was over his head right now. In fact, right now it was that way in more ways than one! The place worked alright, but the gate was off for their own protection. They were watching, so this place was keyed to everyone here to deliver them here for this server and this server only as far as root towns were concerned. That left Nighthand at bat again to ask what they were gonna do. Rayo had a thought, but Nall saw about as many problems in it as Rayo had in his departure plans from Mac Anu. This led to a plan from Raine, involving communications hubs. This war had suddenly become Vietnam, assuming any of them wanted to survive. Somehow, being cutthroat bandits and Vietcong made more sense here. It was a mission to sabotage their network of communication. How useful would that be? Maybe only a minor inconvenience, but they had to try. It was much better than a stand-up fight for sure. Canti held up a hand, thinking of something as Raine was done talking and there was enough silence for him to be heard.)

Canti: I've got questions, and...I hope there are answers. First, does it take a high-level player to destroy these Hubs? Second, what about the guards? Third...does anyone else here think a distraction to leave the Hubs unguarded would work? 'Cause...if the Hub itself's just a piece of equipment, then anyone could handle it while all the toughs fight it out. If not, then...well...I dunno.

(He paused for a moment, then went over to Reinier after his antics with Zan were over and he named himself the Tally-Man.)

Canti: I'll take one for Muted Illusionary Code.

(That left only one thing... This place: his future home. What to put in it? Maybe knife-rack? Or the head of some murdered animal? No great ideas came to mind yet. Maybe later.)

_________________
I'll have a doozy of a sig later, I swear. It'll reflect ".hack//CODE" an' everything.

Hey look! A profile! It's got items and stats and things! Cool! If it isn't fully up to date, it will be, so don't worry 'bout it.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 6:33 pm 
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Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 1:59 am
Posts: 226
Location: The "Who's Online List," Stalking People...
Quiet. Bitter solitude rained down on him, and the world was cold. Dien lay still, shivers running up and down his spine, inflicting more pain than comfort. Even breathing hurt now, just lying on his back with his feet elevated – he could feel the blood’s flow becoming subject to gravity’s pull, but didn’t dare to grit his teeth in pain. That would only result in more.

Dien,” came the familiar voice out of the silence, and it all went numb. Was this death? “do you wish to save yourself?” He nodded, still afraid to speak for the pain that could accompany it. He felt a hand on his shoulder – warm, strong, and comforting. What was more, it didn’t hurt. Eyes opened, and the world was black, only himself and the military-style bed he lay on illuminated.

“Where am I?” he asked, the pain from his body completely gone. Looking around revealed nothing: no walls, no ceiling, even the floor seemed missing. Relief had come, though, and he fully intended to take it for everything it was worth. This wasn’t the room that he had been dragged into with the rest of the party, obviously, but the question he’d asked still lingered in the air, silently echoing off unseen walls.

This is the deepest place in your mind,” the voice said, “the only place I could bring you to free you from the pain you’re feeling.

“And let me guess,” Dien replied, “I can’t stay here for too long – is that what you’re gonna say?” There was no response for a time, the player forced into sitting cross-legged on his bed and waiting for some continuation from the AI. He didn’t really mind being forced to wait in this peaceful place, but more than anything he wanted to get up – talk to Zan about what had happened, thank Reinier for the foot-cradle, and take part in the group. Hell, logging out was probably the farthest thing from his mind at this point. It hadn’t even been a question: they needed him, so he’d stick around through thick and thin.

You’ve been infected,” he said, the obvious coming forth again, “and the virus has met fierce opposition from your controlling will. It can and will continue to attack until your resolve to fight it has been crushed.” Resolve to fight it? What the heck was he talking about? He hadn’t been fighting anything during this time – physically or mentally. Sure, the pain sucked, but there was pretty much nothing he could do about it. The virus had made sure of that, had blocked his only out and the feedback apps he’d made.

“Look, I don’t know if you know what you’re talking about,” came his reply, “but I haven’t been doing any fighting – not since Xenobia killed and infected me.” That’s right: it had been Xenobia who had done the damage, not Zan. He’d have to make sure the heavyblade knew that when this was over.

Consciously, no,” he continued, “but in your subconscious, a battle has been furiously raging since the wolf’s first slash. By sheer force of will, you have your emotions in check, only letting out the ones you want to. However, the virus is attacking your will, trying to take control of you entirely, and because of that, your will is being crushed from two fronts, and the physical consequences have been intense.” It was a lot to think about, but that would have to wait for later. A loud rumble met his ears, and the bed he was on shook.

“What the hell?!” he asked, reaching for his sword to find it strangely absent. In fact, the sheath wasn’t there either, nor the bag at his other side. In an instant he was on his knees, bracing himself against the mattress as it jostled him about, like it was trying to throw him off.

Quickly! If you want to survive, you have to let go!” What? Let go of what?Release the pain you have inside: let it out no matter what you have to do to get it there, you need to release it! Right now it is the strongest force fighting your will, and if you let it out, then the infection might just be forced to stop fighting.

“What do I do?!” he asked, but the voice was gone. The rumble grew louder, and he could hear cracking as the bed he was on only shook more and more violently, each shake feeling as though it could throw him for a mile. Suddenly, a burning pain erupted from his back, running up and down his entire spine again and again. Was this what he had meant? He fell onto his back, staring up at the black ceiling. For a moment, it flickered white, and he writhed, the pain beginning to overtake him again. No, he meant a different pain.

A scream echoed throughout the room, a cry of pain as Dien’s form contorted on the bed. The pain wasn’t just physical this time – it was just the result of what he could feel inside. Zan, the man he would have given everything to protect, the one he trusted probably more than any of the other elder fighters, the werewolf had betrayed him. His teeth clenched together, and as much as his mind screamed that it wasn’t true, the rest of him wouldn’t believe it. Zan was responsible for his entrapment: for the fact that he’d never see his friends again, that his hacking days were over, the fact that he wouldn’t get a chance to make things right with Amy. The writhing stopped, and he lay flat, staring up at the ceiling.

Amy: the girl had built him up since that moment in elementary school, leading him to believe that they were best friends and that he could trust her with anything. He could feel his skin beginning to grow pale as his bitterness tore through, pouring through him and beginning to take over. She had completely forgotten him for some dumb-as-a-doorknob jock. He couldn’t make her happy! He couldn’t bring her joy – that much was a ridiculous idea. As much as Jed tried to admit it, as much as he’d tried to burn her out of his life and forgive her, the wound was still there, and still had her salt licking it open. His mind told him to stop, but he told his mind to shut up. This hurt would never go away.

A sudden flicker and the pain inside his body subsided. He could still feel its presence, but it didn’t hurt him anymore. He had taken the lid off everything he’d kept bottled up for all these months, and releasing the emotional pain had bent the physical pain to his control. OUT! His mind screamed, and the stuff screamed back at him, contorting his body once again, but no, he wouldn’t let it this time. By sheer force of his will, the stuff was driven outward, and his face bent with its exit, showing the only part of its existence.

Anyone watching him would see a black aura begin to surround his body as the pain was ejected, burning at the edges of his clothing and bleaching his hair. The sweat that had plagued his skin evaporated in its essence, and his eyes were devoid of anything but white. There was no more pain inside him – not even a memory of it remained. His mind had gone quiet, submitting to his release. It was done.

Sitting up, his thoughts only on the betrayal he’d received in the past months, he looked to his right. There, the werewolf lay, seemingly in some dream. Dien’s head turned to one side and he stared at the man that had so heartlessly cut him open. He gave a grimace, and the lycanthrope cried out, dropping to his knees as he was weakened by a pain more intense than anything he’d ever known. For a moment he clutched at himself, trying to pinpoint the pain but only getting more for its sake. Then his muscles began to bulge, and his shape changed, bones snapping into their new places. He attempted to stand, barely mustering it and whimpering with the new onslaught, eyes gazing at the blademaster, begging him to stop. There was nothing interesting here anymore.

He turned, scars forming across his body, reminiscent of the claw-marks that the now-victim had inflicted, and various other wounds he’d received in his time in-game. No pain, though – there was none for him anymore. Feet carried him slowly toward the next room. In here, several names were tied with the faces that looked at him: Nighthand, Reinier, Nall, Rayo, Canti, and at last Zhao. An image flashed across Dien’s broken mind, playing out the final events of Mac Anu’s fall: this was the ungrateful one who had nearly killed them both. With a gasp-like screech, the player stared at the twinblade.

Immediately he let out a scream, falling to his knees much like Zan had done, only for him, there was no other form. Slowly his body hit the earth, beginning to writhe and shrink, compounding in on itself and shaking with the pain. The other players rushed to his aide as could be expected, and Dien only smirked, watching the whole thing play out in his un-woven perspective. Just as soon as it had been there, it was gone, and he lay on the floor – his body having taken a lethal blow from one of the higher-level players in the room. Slowly, bits of his sanity returned, assigning control where it belonged and holding back the deluge that may have been fatal to the entire group if its development had gone on any further out of control.
__________

What the hell just happened? he asked himself silently, his ghost lying on the floor in some sort of conference room. Was that release? Had he managed to relinquish control long enough for his emotions and the infection to battle it out? He felt exhausted, but at least there was no more pain. It had worked. Lying on the ground, he could hear the other Fighters scurrying around. His eyes caught a hold of Zhao, who was slowly standing up. Wait, why was he on the floor in the first place? Hell, why had Dien even died? It didn’t make much sense, but he could at least be glad that the pain was gone.

OOC:
So, that was Pain Release, level 1. Anyone I made go into pain, well, I got your permission first, so basically when you write out your character’s response to it, it’s the most painful thing you’ll probably face in The World short of actual deletion. As for everyone else running over to Zhao, I only thought it would be natural. Sorry if your character wouldn’t have responded to it like that: I didn’t have time to go around and ask everyone.

Fun stuff, eh?

Oh, and I didn't get to the post-incident stuff yet, because, well, there are too many variables with other people's characters there that I couldn't begin to write out a post without making at least one of you mad at me.

_________________
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Image|||Level 35 Blademaster (+200 EXP)
Wishlist: EXP, Ends of Earth, Armor with Status Effects


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 5:13 am 
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Drumming her fingers on the side of a bed, Hijinx took a second glance around the room and wondered whether the NPC would get cold without his pants. One thing led to another, and after a thoughtful minute, she was holding up the gaudy things, wondering why she had wanted them in the first place. The memory of the shopkeeper turning red like a tomato made her grin and nod, decidedly throwing her gambling gained jeans backwards over her shoulder. More important matters ensued, with talk of attacking this important HUB or that important HUB quickly winding down to a visual display of Reinier's first encounter with a half naked Royce. Snickering at his illustration of the events, she wondered if the elite wasn't just playing hard to get. Sure, the woman wanted nothing more than to skewer them all and delete the remains on the outside, but maybe deep down she just really, really wanted Nighthand's affection...

Shaking the thought out of her head for a moment, she managed to pay attention long enough to hear the dog and his friend belittle her efforts. With a pout, Hijinx leaned back and crossed her arms. Because of them, the fist fighter would have to actually start doing some real work, which meant less fun for her. Still, there was a trick she had planned long before. Sitting up quickly and looking around, she spotted Dien, a ghost now, though why didn't seem to matter so much as the fact that he was dead. With a vaulting boud, she was out of her seat and sliding to a halt next to the corpse, pulling out a ressurect and using it before a full stop could be accomplished. She let loose with a cheer and hopped to her feet, arms stretched towards the roof. It was time for the surpise she had set earlier, and they were all in perfect positions.

A slight noise came from the roof of the middle room, like air escaping, followed by a different strange sound, vaguely resembling a pop. An eerie silence lasted only a second before the barracks were flooded from the same direction with whipped cream, filling it to the ceiling as it burst through the doorway with a FWOOSH! As it slowly sagged down to unveil everyone's head, Hijinx smiled wide, showing off impressively white teeth and looking like a snowman.

OOC: Happy jinx, one and all! :D

_________________
Hijinx the Lucky Former Rabbit
Level 35.000 Fist Fighter
Equip: Fist Guards, Wyrm Hide, guard cap, Snow panther, silver bracers
Item: 5 ressurect, 2 antidote, 10 healing potions, 6 Emperor's Soul, 3 Raging Earth, 5 Ice Floe, 4 Gale Breath, Knights Bane, 10 Speed Charms
Money: 1103gp
"The problem with life is there's no back-ground music."


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:38 am 
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Phoenix watched Reinier using his earthen-based powers to create a system to raise Dien's legs which managed to bring him out of the danger zone for now. After Reinier left the room after saying to watch him for any further complications, Phoenix did so since he had nothing else better to do. Sheena took a look at the pain-weary blademaster and said that she could not anything for him since it was something that no amount of outside help could fix but he should be fine. Phoenix truly wondered that he was going to be alright or not but time will answer the question. Before he could think about the situation anymore, Nighthand got up and told people in the room not to leave since Dien could not move.

Phoenix waited for everyone to gather into the barracks and lean on one of the bedposts to get comfortable. Once everyone gathered in the barracks, Nighthand began to speak to everyone. Phoenix paid attention to Nighthand's words which part of it was something that he thought about a long time ago. Phoenix knew long ago that this was a war which should be fought as such. Then Raine spoke up and talk about the current hideout which was really the first base created in fighting against the Elites. His question about the Chaos Gate was answered as it really was not a true gate but a shadow along with the stores of the Lambda server. Then she mentioned the part about the key and not seeing the root town made Phoenix sad though as he never seen Carmina Gadelica for himself. Then again, the hideout's Chaos Gate can do a lot more than the regular gates can which was a plus in Phoenix's eyes.

Rayo suggested that they should go to the Yamiyo Server which was the base of operations of the Elites but Nall shot down that idea since the entrance jumps around and they are too powerful there. Phoenix had to agree with Nall about going to Yamiyo as this point, the group would be easily defeated without a very great plan and power which was very lacking at this point. Then Raine mentioned that she and Sheena discovered three hubs that Elites have been using for their flashmails. Phoenix thought if they could take out those hubs along with some possibility of getting some info from those flashmails, it would be a step in taking out the Elites.

Rayo was the first one to speak about a possible plan to deal with the hubs. Nighthand suggested that the group should pick a field and go to it but Rayo had a different plan in mind which Phoenix agreed more with. He thought if taking out one hub would make the other two hubs harder to take out even with everyone around since security would be tighter after destroying the first hub. He did a quick count of the current members excluding Sheena and Raine since they would be more valuable in the hideout than on the field which he counted 12 people.

Let's see. It's possible to do three groups of four or two groups of six. It would be nice to take all three at once but without a third member of the class of Nall or Nighthand are at; the group without either of them would have the hardest time taking out the hub. If Gingi was still around, then it would be possible but she's not. Depending on the condition of the group, there's a possibility of doing a quick strike on the final hub after taking out the other two hubs. Now the next part is to think of how to split up the group into two groups of six players. Nall and Nighthand should be the leaders of the two groups but placing the rest of us into the groups is going to be tough since I don't know what equipment or skills they have.

Phoenix decided not to think about the splitting on the groups until more players agreed with the idea. Then at that point, a more in-depth discussion about who goes where will take place. Even if the group was split into two, there was no way that everyone would be happy in how the groups were setup since you cannot avoid having members that people hated being around. Any group with that has Hijinx in it would be the perfect example of this. Phoenix just remembers the old saying, "You can't make everybody happy all the time just you could make some people happy most of the time."

Then Phoenix noticed that Reinier was taking a tally on which field they should go to as he and Zan agreed to go Closed Solitary Gate while Canti wanted to go to Muted Illusionary Code. Reinier and Zan's reasoning for going to Closed Solitary Gate was because they did not know what Elite could be stationed there as Muted Illusionary Code had Melzas while Pulsing Light Trap Core could await Royce who had the deadly power of Ultima which he has seen kill players before. It does not seem Canti had any reasoning behind his choice which Phoenix did not care to know at this point. At this point, Phoenix decided to speak to the group.

"I liked Rayo's plan which we are strong enough to divide our forces into two and attack two hubs at the same time. Maybe we could even do an attack on the third hub if we are still strong enough after taking out the first two. If we are going to attack one hub with all of us, I don't have a preference on where we go since we don't know anything about the fields themselves except for their name. I'll go with what ever you guys decide."

After Phoenix spoke, he heard the voice of Suzaku echoing through his head. It is a nice plan after all. There is a fine line between ambition and caution as splitting up the group and succeeding on two fronts would be great but at the same time, it failed very badly for us. The safe path is to take out one hub with our combined forces and risk not going after the other two because of increased security on their...

Suzaku stop talking to Phoenix to notice that one of the new Twin Blades named Zhao suddenly collapsed. He went towards the fallen Zhao along with the other players which he seemed to collapse due to some intense pain but he was able to stand up again. Then he noticed the former rabbit using a resurrect on Dien who became a ghost which she jumped to the roof and played another prank on the group by filling the entire room with whipped cream.

Phoenix was now covered with whipped cream and wanted to kill the rabbit which some people would probably joined him at this point but he was trying to resist lashing out on the members. Luckily, Phoenix had his hood up which protected his head and face from the cream. He cast La Repth on himself to remove the cream from his clothes which it worked for the most part. Only Hijinx would play pranks at a serious time like this. I will figure out your true identity one of these days, rabbit. Oh yeah, I almost forgot.

Phoenix remembered that he needed to ask some things to Raine and Nighthand. He went to Raine first and said to her, "It's a nice hideout you got here. If you could add something of a training area so we don't have to go out to the fields to train our powers. Maybe you could have something where we could simulate different battle conditions and allow us to create custom opponents. I'd be grateful if this addition was put in the near future." After hearing Raine's reply, Phoenix left her company and went to Nighthand as he needed to talk to him about something he thought about earlier.

"Hey, Nighthand. There was something important I want to talk to about. It's not about the next plan of attack but it's something I'm bothered by. So my question is the following. How much do you remember of your previous life before being infected with the Twilight because I could barely remember anything before I got infected and most of those memories are my time playing the World. I really think that the Twilight not only traps us in the game but removes our memories of the real world."

Phoenix awaited for Nighthand to answer his question and doesn't know what kind of reply he would get but he needs this question answered though.

_________________
Phoenix
Level 48 Blademaster
Equipped Skills: Vak Revolver, Gan Revolver, Dek Vorv, La Repth, Juk Kruz, Rue Kruz, BiVak Rom, GiGan Zot
Other Skills: Rue Kruz, Rip Synk, Rip Saem, Crack Beat, Rue Slash, Ani Slash, Gan Crack, Gan Revolver

Wish List: Phoenix's Fire, Gold Necklace
EX-Spheres: LV 3 - Overdrive, LV 3 - Curative, LV 3 - Elemental Breath


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 3:07 pm 
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-Ryok turned on to his side. His eyes were closed, but no sleep came. He had been sitting on the couch like this for some time thinking of what just went on in Mac Anu. He hadn’t slept in a few days and he didn’t think that it would change for quite some time. He sat sleeping until the faint sound of people moving about the new area met his ears. Rolling off the couch his face met the ground with a thud. He rolled onto his back and sat up looking around to try to catch where everyone was going. They seemed all to be flowing in one direction. Feeling best that he follow them in case something that shouldn’t be missed is said he stood and proceeded towards the room. Peeking in he noticed the group in a discussion about what should take place next. Moving through the middle of the group he leaned up against the back wall and listened.

-The group of players he wasn’t to well acquaint with put in their share of what to do next. Rayo was the first to bring up the hidden Yamiyo server. Nall however threw the idea out due to the awesome power of the hackers in their own server. Raine followed up by telling everyone of the system in which the hackers communicate. It was different that that of the normal player of The World. There was only one reason for it, and that was so that their secret messages stayed a secret. These ‘hubs’ which no one seemed to be able to offer a description on, acted as routers for the Flashmails the hackers sent to each other. Instead of going to the main hub where all Flashmails were conducted, they went through special ones that the Admins couldn’t watch over. She went further to say that if these ‘hubs’ were destroyed that the hackers communicate would be crippled. Then even supplied us with keywords where we could find these ‘hubs’

-In response Rayo offered a plan of action that sounded as if it would work well enough. Though the hackers would be on alert after what just happened in Mac Anu, so they’d probably have guards there. Nonetheless it was a good plan to take out two of the hubs simotainously. That would reduce the reaction time of the hackers, and might even allow us to reach the third in time to destroy it as well. Though destroying them all at once would make the whole process even easier. Splitting us wasn’t the problem; it was making it so that each had an equal chance to destroy each hub.

-Ryok turned at the sound of someone screaming. It was one of the newer members. He was one the ground, seeming to be in pain. Ryok started over to him, but stopped half way. His hands clutched his head, as a loud ringing noise seemed to fill his mind. Every muscle in his body seemed to stop functioning, and he fell to the ground. The ringing kept on even when ryok couldn’t move. Why? Why wouldn’t it stop? Even when he hadn’t the power to try and stop it, it kept going. Then it was gone. Just as fast as it came. Ryok rose up on to his knees not willing to ask around at what exactly just happened. He pulled his legs out from under him and sat up against the wall. As he got half way up to his full height there was a rush of white foam into the room. Knocking him back against the wall he sat there with the force of the mass on him until it all faded. Ryok shook back and fourth getting most of the substance, whatever it was off. He looked around the room at everyone. He gave them all a second to regain their sensibility, and started.

-“Back to the hubs. I agree with Rayo for the most part. We should split up, but I think it would be in our best interest to take them all out at the same time. It sounds more risky than it probably is, but think of the benefits. It wouldn’t give them the chance to react at all, and might even null our chances of running into an elite altogether. There is a simple answer to the uneven groups. We make the two with Nighthand and Nall, making Nall’s party smaller due to his strength, and Nighthand’s slightly bigger, even if it’s just by one person. The last group we put everyone else in. It’s a long shot, but if the elites aren’t already at the fields then it would probably make it so that we don’t run into one at all.

-What about the hubs... Do we know what these ‘hubs’ look like or what they are exactly? For all we know they could be the entire field as a whole, or just a little silver box that collects the information.” Ryok looked around, it was the first time he had ever input anything. He hoped he hadn’t made a fool of himself. He leaned against the wall looking around until Hidama happened to float in. She glided past everyone right through the middle of the group as ryok had and stopped next to him.

-“What’s goin’ on?” Ryok looked hard down at her. It was a serious conversation that she had just interrupted. He patted her head with his fire resistant gloves, and pushed her towards the door. Ryok let out a fake laugh, and thrust her forward.

-Leave.

-Why? What’d I do?

-Nothing… Just leave.

-If I didn’t do anything then wh-


-Ryok reared back and kicked her. She tumbled out the door. Ryok motioned for someone to close the door, a smile across his face.

-That wasn’t nice.

-…

-Fine, I’ll just go back to our rock and sleep, I didn’t want to come here anyways.

-Nonono! Don’t use the Gate.

-Why not?

-Just don’t do it. Ok?

-Maybe I will maybe I won’t…

-Why do you have to be difficult? Wait, wait I should really be asking why did I end up with you and not an animal like Timat, or Urbosh.

-You’d rather Urbosh than me?!

-Wel-

-He, she… It is just a blob!.. It probably doesn’t even talk!

-Yeah, I guess I crossed the line there, but Timat would be cool.

-

-I was just kidding common… But seriously, don’t use the gate.

_________________

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Ryok| Lvl. 27| Heavy Blade| Demonic Sword| Kagayuzen| Fire Bracer| Suzaku Fiery Pants
Karin| Kannon| Miu Lei| Vak Rom| Vak Don| Dek Vaks| Ap Vaks
Skill Drain| Death

Wish list:Black Sharp Angelic Wings| Time Headband| Unique Weapon


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 3:33 pm 
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Dien's outburst, quickly quelled, left Nighthand chuckling inwardly. So. That was how his power was going to manifest. Well, at least now he wasn't useless.

It wasn't long though, before he and Raine had to start answering questions, and providing whatever information they could. Nighthand saw a lot wrong with Rayo's proposal to split up, but he would leave that for later.

Which left Canti's questions first.

“I've got questions, and...I hope there are answers. First, does it take a high-level player to destroy these Hubs? Second, what about the guards? Third...does anyone else here think a distraction to leave the Hubs unguarded would work? 'Cause...if the Hub itself's just a piece of equipment, then anyone could handle it while all the toughs fight it out. If not, then...well...I dunno.“

”We don't know what the hubs are... All we know is that the fields have been modified somehow to route flashmail. Knowing the hackers, it's most likely some kind of creature or artifact you'd have to destroy. If they were smart they'd make it impossible to kill, but they've never done that, for whatever reason. They view this all as a big game to them... Guards would most likely be lesser hackers and monsters. We had a hard time finding these keywords, and know little about them. I doubt, however, that the Elites would be there. They'd be more likely to be planning another assault from Yamiyo, or scouring the servers looking for us. I sent Sheena to scout the fields, she should be back soon.”

Moments after Raine's speech had come to a close, the room flooded with confectionery delight. Nighthand, caught full in the wave, burst out laughing.

”Man, Jinx... You just don't take anything seriously, do you? We just about got killed back there and you're as happy as ever.” He looked around at the rest of the group... He alone, perhaps, knew just how fearsome Hijinx could be. The problem is, she was rarely of the mindset to be fearsome.

”There's something odd about you...” Raine muttered, under her breath. She saw something in Hijinx that no one else did; her own particular affinity with the natural code of the game confirmed it. Sheena would have to help make any sort of analysis, but... There was more to the perky fist fighter than met the eye.

The whipped cream began to melt into the floors, furniture, walls, and so forth; like snow on a spring day. One advantage the admins were unwittingly giving the freedom fighters; Raine had tapped into the chaos gate's self-repairing functions and applied similar code to the whole base. As such, nothing would stay damaged or dirty for long. Useful, in the event of a scuffle, but in this case, probably an unfortunate bit of added enthusiasm to the ex-rabbit.

That taken care of, or at least being slowly taken care of, Raine and Nighthand turned to answer Phoenix.

"It's a nice hideout you got here. If you could add something of a training area so we don't have to go out to the fields to train our powers. Maybe you could have something where we could simulate different battle conditions and allow us to create custom opponents. I'd be grateful if this addition was put in the near future."

”Yes, I think a lot of you would like a training area. Something that complex, though, will take time to design. It's hard enough to hide the Twilight all of you together just contain, but actively using your powers is another thing. I'll see what I can do, though.”

"Hey, Nighthand. There was something important I want to talk to about. It's not about the next plan of attack but it's something I'm bothered by. So my question is the following. How much do you remember of your previous life before being infected with the Twilight because I could barely remember anything before I got infected and most of those memories are my time playing the World. I really think that the Twilight not only traps us in the game but removes our memories of the real world."

Nighthand's brow furrowed as he contemplated. He, too, didn't remember very much of the so-called real world... but he'd been stuck in the game for several years. He kept up a little with what was going on, major world events at least, through the connection of his Father being a player himself. Before Nighthand could answer, however, the need was removed by Sheena's reappearance.

”I can answer that, Phoenix! Twilight doesn't sap your memories or anything, that's just what being stuck in here does to you! It's still an evil virus, though! I'm doing my best to cure it, but it fights back, and fights hard!” Sheena nodded several times, then turned and hopped onto a bed.

”Hey everybody! I just got back from scouting those fields; so I can tell you a few things! First off, none of them are locked! That means there are no elites there, because they have a habit of locking the fields they're in so only we can get in! Closed Solitary Gate is a level 23 Darkness field! All I did was log into them and gate back out with what I could see, and all I saw there was a building! The dungeon looks like a temple, a couple of statues in front of it! Pulsating Light Trap Core is level 30, and wood elemental! It's a twisty forest path so I didn't see the dungeon! Muted Illusionary Code was a lot like Closed Solitary Gate! I could see the dungeon, another temple-like building! Oh right, and the field is level 28 and Earth Element!”

”Thank you, Sheena. Now, as for your suggestion Rayo... I wouldn't recommend splitting into groups. Just because the elites aren't there, doesn't mean whatever IS there will be easy. In many ways, fighting the elites is easier than their minions, because of their power. The elites don't need to be devious, they just have to hit hard. Their underlings, however, have lesser power, but have to know how better to use it.” She sighed. It was never an easy fight when the hackers were involved, however you put it.

Suddenly, Nighthand remembered something, and spoke up once more himself.

”Oh yeah, and I got a flashmail from Tokki. She's ready to come back, so once we know some keywords, I'll let her know to meet us there.”

_________________
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 7:00 pm 
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After his conversation with Canti, Zan had once again returned to the poor excuse for a bed he had been occupying the moment before. He needed to focus on what was going on here. Now. It's where all of is mind should have been, where all of his thoughts should have been directed towards. But...well...they weren't. As always, the love-sick and over-worried and overworked lycanthrope had his mind gravitating around the girl he cared almost too damned much about, stuck in the real world with men Zan wanted to end. It was a bad idea to try and go back to sleep and, well, he was well aware of that. Everyone in the new Hideout needed to discuss their next move and rehash out new plans for the field they wanted to go to.

So, if he was going to continue to mull over the only girl he had ever truly cared any real thing about...he needed to find a balance. The last time him and Lowen had talked, she had mentioned being able to tap into the connection they had. Maybe, just maybe, that was something Zan needed to attempt as well. Shutting his eyes, trying to blank out his thoughts, the lycanthrope reached down the empathetic link they shared and called out to her, trying to see if she was okay, if what had broken up their union before had been something on their side. A feeling akin to someone ripping out a large, jagged piece of metal from inside his skull was met with his action, both hands coming to grip at the sheets desperately, the pain too much to even speak.

This, Zan realized, must be what Dien's been feeling like every damn second. Alright, so not as bad, but fuck if Zan cared right then. Just as he felt his will of silence begin to slip, when a small sound began to worm its way out of his throat, his spin bowing, all the pain went away. And yet...Zan felt nauseous. Whether from the pain or something else, he felt sick. His body simply seemed...wrong. Like some surgeon had operated on his head instead of his stomach, or whatever the hell. Something was just off. Yea, how about you never try that again, dumbass? Zan groaned as he came to sit on the bed, his palm rested against his forehead, keeping his head up as he fought to beat away the vertigo that had begun to amass inside of his skull. That too, eventually, came to a pass. When the lycanthrope opened his eyes, expecting to see the Freedom Fighters discussing some course of action or another, his eyes were instead met with a sight he could do without.

-------------------

At first his mind didn't recognize the shape, too confused at the setting the mystery figure had him in. From what he could tell, the both of them resided inside of some monstrously huge room, two doors (both covered in windows) stretching a good twenty, thirty feet up. Opened as they were, moonlight flooded into the room, illuminating only the first few steps into the room, a single stream of that silver paleness licking along the side of the figure's face. Hair as black as ink fell past her ears, just above her shoulders. Huh, longer than he had remembered. A single gray eye could be seen, almost as pale and empty as his own.

Once more that smile resided on her face, dark and ambitious, riddled with tainted humanity and sociopathic intentions. Somehow, someway, she had invaded his head. Atra. He tried to shake the whole thing, to come back to the bed and rid himself of this fantasy world she had crafted. Something in his face (all of him caught in the fall of moonlight) amused her, overly-entertained laughter filtering through the air as the rest of her came into view. Unlike before, she wore a white gown that flowed almost endlessly behind her, the woman's body constricted and her cleavage prompted rather suggestively with the pearl-hued bodice that seemed almost to blend with the rest of her.

God, he felt so ashamed. But
why?

The theatrics of it all were too much; her dress, the feudal setting, the lancing light of the moon. Atra was trying to build up towards something, something Zan knew he wasn't going to like. The lycanthrope tried to turn in run, to find some physical exit to this mindscape, but found no will to do so. She was controlling him. He didn't know how, he didn't really care to, but she was. Alright, if she wanted to be in the driver's seat, she could just go ahead and do that. His mind, luckily, was still his own. Words refused to pass between the two, a humored knowledge in Atra's eyes as she began her approach towards him, taking her time with each step she made. The little bitch was drawing it out, trying her best to be seductive but coming out, in the end, as nothing more than obnoxious. When she was close enough to touch it was her that lifted the first finger, drawing a line with her index finger along the line of his jaw. That did it. That one little ounce of contact had his skin crawling and control sifting back into him, the lycanthrope stumbling awkwardly away from her.

"Stop. I don't know wha the hell you did, but let me go. I can't be here right now." Even to him it sounded weak.

"Shhh. You know how I told you I could move code? I simply...redirected the link you had to Lowen here and aimed it towards little ol' me. Whatever you guys have, though, is damn strong. I've been trying for a few days to do it. Took some serious power, let me tell you." The smile on her face never left her lips, seemed almost plastered there.

"Give it back! You can't take that away from us! It's all we have!" Zan's fists clenched tightly at his sides, trembling with the anger boiling under his skin.

"I may be a coldhearted woman, as I'm sure you've ascertained, but I do crave what most everyone else does. It isn't fair, what you and Lowen have. That whiny little brat doesn't deserve it." Her voice was bitter then, the humor draining from her face. Zan still didn't get it.

"Check your own fucking opinions at the door, you stupid, jealous little bitch! LET ME GO AND GIVE WHAT YOU TOOK BACK!" He was losing control, the rage eating him away. Breathe Zan. Just breathe.

"See! That! That exactly! Look how quickly you come to her defense! She's got you so tightly wrapped around her little finger. I can give you so much more, Zanny boy. You can embrace your Beast around me. I'll give you my darkness and we can bathe in it. People run from their shadowed halves because they think it's wrong. Is the blackness still not a part of the world? Why does light have to be so important? Screw all of that. Forget all of your friends. Forget her. We're both stuck here, why not stop making things so stressful? Let's live this out. I need to live this out." When her little speech finished, Zan didn't even skip a beat.

"Oh get the hell over yourself, Atra. You sound like a really bad movie. Why are acting like this all of a sudden? You weren't quite this depraved the last time we met." She, however, paused.

"I..well, Wolfsbane isn't what I thought I was. When I told you before that they were torturing her...I was bluffing. I needed something to get you off-balanced. But...they started actually doing it. I've seen some of the things they've done to her, things that keep me from sleeping." Was she expecting sympathy?

"You expect me to feel sorry for you? You tortured Gemini. You killed him. Deleted him. What makes you any different from them?" The lycanthrope was still trying to keep his cool and, so far, was succeeding.

"Because! This is just a game! Video games are rich with torture and violence and all of that crap. What I do here doesn't matter! It's different from the real world!" The way she shouted...it was almost as if she was trying to convince herself.

"You don't believe that. And besides, none of this explains why you're suddenly trying to mind-rape me." Keep her talking. Maybe then he'd find a way to make this all go away.

"I can't live with myself like this. From the moment I've been comatosed I've done nothing productive. I've only harmed. I've trapped innocent people in prisons. You taught Lowen how to live again. I need you to do that for me. You have to do that for me." Zan knew, right then and there, that he could make this all better. He had the power and the words to inspire hope into this woman and pull her out of her darkness. A part of him withered when he refused. She'd suffer.

"Can you give Lowen and I our link back?" Zan kept his face blank.

"No, but that's because I've never really had it. It's too strong for me to keep. You're...basically an idiot when you're angry. I thought it would give me a shot if...hold on." Sighing, she simply motioned with a turn of her wrist. "There, in a few seconds you'll have it back. I won't keep it anymore. I'm done with all of this. I can't hold the controls. Wolfsbane is all on you now. I quit." And with that she vanished, leaving Zan alone and rather confused.


-------------------

Jolting up on his bed, scratching his head with blatant confusion, Zan swung off the barrack cushion and indulged himself in a stretch. That was bizarre. Before he could attempt to shake it off further, a fire licked its way along every inch of his skin; boiling blood, cracking skin, and pouring acid into his lungs. The lycanthrope felt like a statue of pain as he fell onto his knees, trying for the second time to keep himself from making any noise. Failing, he cried out wordlessly, eyes trying to search out the source of his ailment. Was Atra trying something new? Was this some changed tactic? Only when his gaze lingered over what should have been Dien did he feel that he had his answer.

By God...what had happened to him? Charred clothes, a contorted face, iriseless eyes and pale skin that matched the bleached nature of his hair...it was him. So that was how Twilight wanted to show itself. Sonuvabitch. Wonderful way and wonderful timing. Gritting his teeth, Zan came to his feet, eyeing the others for action. None of them seemed to know what Dien was doing to Zan and none seemed too eager to approach the kid. Whatever was up with him, he wasn't himself. He was mindless...and Zan would have to amplify that condition. With his body rippling into his Clabro form he rushed over to the kid in a blur of agility, forcing all the strength he had into the palm of his hand when Dien turned to push the same fate onto Zhao.

With Dien's back to him, the lycanthrope smashed his hand into the back of the kid's skull in an upward strike, intending it to only knock him out. Instead, the attack lurched Dien forward and ripped his ghost out, killing him. Almost seeming to shrink a bit back into his human form, Zan turned his head with blatant curiosity as he was resurrected almost as soon. Odd. Before Zan could make any sense of the confusion this world was bringing him, a flood of whip cream began to overtake the barracks. A growl in his throat, the lycanthrope sprinted out of the room with the sugary wave nipping at his heels. Only when it had spilled somewhat into the common room was Zan able to stop, the dessert topping loosing its will and mass to follow. Before he could even ask who did it...Zan knew. Who else would pull a stunt like this? Shaking his head, ignoring Asshat the Rabbit, Zan walked up to Dien, aware of the talk they needed to have.

Soon.

_________________
Lv. 50 Heavy Blade
Wishlist
Special: Levels, GR Sendai, PL Sakai, Darklore.
W: Tonosama Sword, Mineuchi, Jundachi.
A: Samurai Helm, Able Hands, Rare Greaves.
I: Holy Sap, Treebane, Cooked Bile, Nightbane.
EX: Elemental Summon (Lv. 2), Overdrive (Lv.1), Elemental Attacks (Lv. 2), Enhance Dark, Elemental Breath (Lv. 2).


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 9:24 pm 
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Reinier lay on the bed while holding his new notepad above his face. The boy simply doodled, taking down notes every now and then on who wanted to go to what field. Reinier found it interesting how the group had this brand new, pretty awesome looking hideout… and yet the ex-rabbit managed to mess up a whole room within the first hour. But thanks to Raine the room returned to normal, only it now had no more sand for the boy to tinker with. The boy caught a glimpse of the eccentric girl Sheena speaking to Phoenix, before inevitably hopping on a bed and gathering everyone’s attention. She began to speak of the fields, and gave the bare information on each. Level, element, what the field looked like, two of the three dungeon appearances. Reinier stared at the information, thinking of what to do, and of which field he would want to visit first.

What are you thinkin’, Tai? I think we should head to the Wood field first, because it’s the highest level field. Get the hard out of the way first, then work down and around sorta thing. You get what I’m saying?

I’m thinking we go to the Darkness field first and work from there. Get the easy out of the way first as a warm-up to the hard. It’s how I always work games like this. You have a better chance at succeeding at the easy things first, then gradually get moral up for the harder tasks at hand.

Reinier nodded gradually to himself, and sat up. He hopped off the bed, and made his way over to Nighthand. Reinier poked Nighthand in the back, and could imagine seeing the massive blue letters “Miss” appear above his head. He chuckled, and then asked, “How you holdin' up? You look kinda sickly.”

Nighthand turned around, and replied, “Garaa does that to you. Felt like sausage for a little while there.” The boy let out a soft chuckle to himself, imagining Nighthand as a walking sausage. The blood sausage no one really eats, because it’s kind of scary to look at.

“Eh, it’s what happens when you think you’re bad ass and can take on the world. Goes down to that Karma thing, y’know? Anyways, what field are you thinking? I’m thinkin’ we go to that Wood element field first, then work from there. Tai says the other way around, though. Thoughts? Comments? More then just a sentence of reply?” Reinier smiled for a reason he didn’t even know. Something about Nighthand’s presence just made him feel at ease, even though the man looked pretty scary now with his new wings.

“With the levels of people we have, I’d be more inclined to go to the darkness field. Besides my natural affinity... and how wood probably destroys you. Dunno though. Without the elites, any of them should be a cinch.” The smile had been wiped off his face, and he could feel the love for his “leader” melting away.

Reinier felt it was his chance right now to spring on to Nighthand that he really did not want to go with them to the field, but to train himself. “It doesn’t destroy me, parse... Just... really really hurts. But then again, going to a field where I’m the higher level for once would be nice... But I don’t know right now, because I’ll be useless anyway we go. Would we really need me to go? I could probably find something else to do, y’know…” Reinier trailed off, scratching the back off his head and kicking the floor a bit while looking away from the man, hoping he would pick up on the subtle hint.

“What, and have me miss all your spectacular flaming deaths? Hardly. You’re most useful here, where I can glean amusement from your repeated demise.” And by this point, Reinier began to wonder greatly why he looked up to this guy at all. He simply gave a blank stare to the man, while thinking of his comeback.

“Well, if I were to train then my deaths would be more grand then ever, cus I’d probably go out in some massive sandstorm of glory, y’know? Plus, it’s not all that fun always dying. I’d rather be somewhere else trying to get stronger. That way one day I’ll be able to kick your ass and push you in to the flaming death.” Reinier let out a soft smile, imagining him pushing Nighthand in to one of Klive’s attacks. The thought of Nighthand roasting alive, screaming and writhing out in pain while the flames gradually ate away at his flesh, just put Reinier in a new state of euphoria, and lifted his spirits greatly.

“If you want to leave, leave. Hard to say if you’ll ever come back. I’ve watched better men than you disappear when they went off to train. Whatever. But a pessimistic attitude like that is just gonna make you worthless wherever we go.” Nighthand’s voice stayed unwavering through the whole statement, his black eyes seemingly piercing Rienier’s soul.

The boy simply blinked, and had no response. He gave a jittery nod, and said, “Y-yeah… another for the Gate…” Reinier made the tick mark, and scuffled away not wanting to really speak with the man anymore. He nearly ran in to Rayo, who seemed to be in his normal mood of deep concentration on the next move.

I like this guy… I’m glad he came here to the group. He brings a lot to the table. Who would have thought that our “Slash, slash, slash some more, another slash here,” technique was… wrong?

Reinier waited for the dragon to insert his witty statement of something along the lines of, “Anyone with a brain,” but nothing came from the dragon. Reinier wondered if he was simply ignoring him, but just shrugged. The boy tapped Rayo on the shoulder, smiled, and asked, “What’s your take on the next course of action? The group thing sounds like a good idea on paper, but when it comes down to it... do you really think it’ll be a good plan?”

“Well...it really comes down to whether or not we can make two perfectly functional units out of the whole. I think it's workable given our number...six per field doesn't seem that bad. As long as we balance out physical and magical capabilities between the two we should be fine battle wise. I wouldn't imagine that any of the lesser hackers should be able to match the Elites defeated. If the battle plan is set, then I think six works just as well as twelve so long as we keep our wits,” the mage replied.

Reinier gave a nod and plopped down on a nearby bed, pulling out his notepad and pen. He made two columns with six dashes in each column. “Okay, so how do we work this? I think it can work too. I’ll tell you now, Zan and I will probably be on the same team…” Reinier began to mutter the last bits of the sentence as he jotted down Reinier and Zan in the same category. “You can have Jinx and Phoenix…” And this time he wrote down three names in the other categories. “What about the green horns?” Reinier looked up to the mage with his pen still pressed against the paper, eyes and ears opened to suggestions.

“We might as well keep them with their partners, right? Besides, having all of them in one field would throw off the balance unless we changed the numbers.” Reinier nodded a few times as he began to write down the names of the younger players. Canti and Dien under Zan and Reinier, and Zhao under Rayo, Jinx, and Phoenix.

“Four and four, lookin’ good… I can take Nall, you can have Nights… so that’s five and five… So that leaves… Ryok and Cypher, if I’m correct. Oh, and Tok-a-loke. All up to you from here, ‘though I might rather havin’ Tokki in my group, for those just in case reasons,” Reinier said, beginning to doodle on the edges of the paper.

“Hm...how did it go when Ryok was battling with you and Canti to protect our rear? Did you get any teamwork going?” The question partly took Reinier by surprise, as he had actually pretty much forgotten the battle ever happened by this point.

A nervous laugh cracked from Reinier’s lips as he rubbed the back of his head and closed his eyes, smiling and laughing. “Funny you should mention that! I, uh, yeah, well, you see… the teamwork was so… immense, that I kind of forgot about Canti even before the fighting began? And then Ryok’s so quiet I didn’t even know he was in my group… it was mainly Taimat and me just killin’… er… yeah! Teamwork to the max!” Reinier let out a sigh as he buried his head back in his notepad to cover his face. He began to scribble viciously as if he were doing something important.

There was a slight pause before Rayo spoke up once more. “…I’ll be taking Ryok then.” Short, sweet, and to the point. Another reason to love the guy.

“Right!” Reinier announced, thrusting his pen in the air with a smile. He scribbled down the final names to the group, Tokki and Cypher to his, and Ryok to Rayo’s. Reinier spoke up once more, “Team Reinier: Reinier, Zan, Canti, Dien, Cypher, Tokki, Nall. Team Rayo consists of: Rayo, Zhao, Ryok, Jinx, Phoe, and Nights. What about fields?” Reinier asked next, placing the end of the pen in the side of his mouth. He began to gnaw a bit on the end, examining the list and attempting to look busy to an extent.

“That’s something to discuss with everyone. The darkness field for example would be good for me if we can keep the offense rolling, while you'd have the same role in the wood field. Alternatively, you could also claim greater potential power in the earth field. However, those thoughts only reflect two of the players total, not considering everyone's preferences,” The Wavemaster said. So smart, always knew every angle of what was going on.

Reinier gave a nod, uncrossed his legs, and stood up on the bed. His wings jolted open a bit as he peered around the room. He stuck two fingers in his mouth, close together near his teeth, and simply blew. A high pitched whistle echoed throughout the room, getting everyone’s attention. “Boys, girls, and ex-rabbits boy do we have a plan for you! Sparky and I have come up with tentative teams for our future excursion! Team Reinier, we can rename it later if ya’ll want, shall consist of: Reinier, Zan, Canti, Dien, Cypher, Nall, and Tok-a-loke. Team Rayo, which can also be renamed, shall be partying with: Rayo, Zhao, Nights, Ryok, Phoenix, and the lovable Jinxy! Now, this is where ya’ll come in. We need your opinion on the groups, and what field we want to go to. Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?” Reinier smiled and hopped off the bed and looked over to Rayo. “I think they know what’s goin’ on now.”

_________________
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Reinier's Wishlist: Sakabatou|Sharktooth
Abraxas' Wishlist: Complementry|Summon
The Hack's Wishlist: Wall lvl 2


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2006 5:10 pm 
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Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 3:09 am
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Location: Wherever I'm needed.
A battle was taking place, and once again the battlefield was that of my mind. This clash, however, was not one that was quickly resolved. No, this one was far more difficult, because this time, someone had to win a true victory. No more would temporary wins suffice, because there was no longer a body to control.

You're my creation. You can't win.

It's because you think that that I have a chance.

We clashed, far more violently than ever before. Blades landed on both other blades and on the flesh of our minds many a time throughout the encounter. And it seemed that neither of us would get the better of the other. The battle simply went on and on, with no real hope for either combatant. As it drew on, we both grew tired, and finally we withdrew, both attempting to catch our breath.

You've improved.

Thanks.

I'll still win.

I doubt that.

WIth those words, we flew at each other again. This would be the last clash, the clash that would determine mastery till the end of time. Once it was over, he minds would truly be one. He struck towards my face... and I hit the floor, then rose up and drew both blades across his chest. He screamed, and the sound of it cut me deeply, damaging mind and soul for all eternity. The war was over. I had finally come out on top.

---------------------------

I awoke, seemingly safe and secure in an area I had never seen before. The merging had left me with the mother of all headaches, but I would have to live through it. The pain would dull, though the scar would never truly heal. Luckily, I was fairly sure it would never fully open again. The seal, placed there through my own stubborn resolution, would not fail unless I willed it to. That gave me some peace of mind, enough to give me the strength to talk to my new allies. However, hwo many of them did I trust at this point? Aside from Dien, was there anyone?

Rayo.

Despite the flashes of memory I had from the ordeal in Mac Anu, I trusted him, nearly as much as I trusted Dien. Had he really meant to kill me back there? I doubted it. I couldn't see him being that vicious.

I stood and walked, entering the next room where Rayo seemed to have just awoken from a deep sleep. My motions were awkward, as the shock of being in this new body along with the recent fusion left me drained and shaky. The mage simply stood, waiting for me to speak... or perhaps he didn't even notice me. Unsure as I was, I decided to open the conversation.

"Rayo... there you are. Care to explain to me what happened back there?"

The wizard looked up, acknowledging my presence at last before responding. "Which part? The fact that Xenobia manipulated my own body against my will or how I even could cast Lanceor when I was nearly out of SP before she took over?"

That explained it. "Well, you just inadvertently answered my question. She can just take people over like that? Remove all their free will? Even those of us who are infected?" I simply assumed he was infected... an assumption I felt was safe given our current situation, and he didn't contradict it.

"Well, given all of the knights being controlled and everyone else from our side...I'd say that doesn't make a difference."

I pondered, then nodded. "I suppose you're right."

He then took it upon himself to continue the conversation. "What about you now? What shape are you in?"

I laughed a little inside, wondering if the mage's powers of observation were dulled after his sleep. "Did you see me walk in here?"

"Outward signs say a certain amount, but a bit of white magic can cure those. I care more about what can't be seen."

So he figured that something was going on thanks to the Twilight infection, eh? Well, he was perfectly correct. "Well, I'm stuck in here, same as you. Except... I'm trying to keep two people fused as one."

"Do I want to ask about the details?"

It was here that I had to decide. Did I really want him to know everything? Not even Dien knew exactly what was going on right now.... "I'll tell you if you want to ask. But I'm not gonna volunteer it. "Ask and ye shall receive," I suppose."

He pondered for a moment, then made his decision. "I'll leave it alone for now then. How did you find the chaos before?"

I was confused, as much of my memory was foggy "What do you mean?"

He clarified a bit: "The confusion, the sheer amount of foes, the power of the Elites and administrators, all of it."

Now the memories flooded back into me, though luckily Rikama wasn't able to rise up once again. "It definitely cut into me... if you noticed when I disappeared, that was me losing control for a bit. But that was mostly because we were destroying..." I took a deep, rattling breath, trying to find the strength to continue after revisiting such an extremely painful moment, "... the only place I call home."

Rayo looked almost puzzled, then simply began to feed me his usual logical interpretation of things, which I didn't much want to hear at the moment. However, I wasn't about to be rude to him, so I let him speak. "...I don't consider either the root town or the game itself my home. I exist, but it ends there. If to live I had to tear through all the towns and fields, the very game itself...it wouldn't be too large a cost for our lives." Fat lot of good that did for me. I already knew that what I felt made no sense, and him saying it didn't change me one bit. So I decided to simply reinforce my belief.

"I see... I don't think I could ever give up my only home." I thought about how I had went on, day after day, on the outside. The torment and rejection... Wait... when did I become so emo? Damn, must've done it without noticing... I'll change that. "Life outside was painful. Too painful."

Rayo's inquisitive nature continued to show itself, as he just couldn't seem to get away from questioning me. "You'd prefer to be trapped here and hunted after?"

I though about that question long and hard. Did I really want to be stuck here, trying to evade capture- or worse, deletion- for all time? The answer... "... to an extent, yes. It's exciting, at least. So long as we don't get caught." I gave a small grin, trying to coax the same out of Rayo, but no such luck. Man, seems no matter how much I like this guy, I can't get past his cool exterior... does he have to analyze everything? Maybe I should go talk to Jinx sometime....

Another question brought me back to the room. "If given the choice, you'd stay here instead of departing to your true home?"

This question required no deliberation in my mind. "Yes," I said, giving a simple answer for a simple query.

It was only now, though, that Rayo said something I had a vested interest in hearing and replying to. I had understood this for awhile, and I wanted to make my position known. His next words opened the door for me to do so. "You do realize...this very well won't be a personal decision. What sets one free might set all free. Your refusal to leave...if that comes into conflict the escape from this place, it'll end up losing."

"Oh, I won't stop us from being free. You all deserve it. If I have o give up paradise to help all of you, that's just life. You've done plenty for me, and I'm unable to give much back."

"...Learn to create your own paradise, wherever you are. I don't believe such a thing is linked to location, but to other components of life that are much more portable."

Those words instilled in me a hope, or perhaps awoke one that had long been buried. I could create my own paradise... "... That's good advice, Rayo... thanks."

And then, as if nothing important had been said, Rayo went right back to business. "Now, if we want anything to happen...we need to plan our next move. I've got some ideas but I'm waiting until we have a full house of people who've had naps and decided to rise once more."

Knowing what was coming, I switched from philosophy mode to tactical mode, ready to plan. "Sounds good to me. I'm ready when they are."

What I didn't realize was that I was going to be prevented from participating in that planning... thanks to the person I had the most faith in.

I listened to what Raine had to say, trying to process it all slowly and not miss anything important. The distinction that this was a war was one that I had made before, but not fully accepted until this moment. I was now tied to this fate, this clash of virtual titans, and I would have to do my best to aid our side and bring them ultimate victory.

My train of thought didn't get much further after that. I saw Zan collapse to the ground, switching between his human and wolf form sporadically. I was shocked and appalled, completely sickened by the insanity that was occurring... it seemed to be coming from-

Before I could figure it out, I too was hit by a wave of intense pain... no, intense wasn't the word. Mind-blowing, that was better. It tried to tear in from the outside while simultaneously shredding my insides, and I collapsed instantly. Though I had no physical form changes, I felt one thing through all of this: the seal was weakening. He was giong to shatter it. Everything I had worked for... and if he did, it would not only release him, but-

I was granted my miraculous release when Zan slew Dien where he stood. I whimpered softly, not in memory of the pain but in relief that it hadn't gone on any longer. Had it done so, I would have been destroyed. My data would be gone, and I would never have been able to return to see any of these people- my new comrades- again. Though I had known them but a short time, they had become my family already. I would have hated to check out of the world without at least making peace with them all. And I decided to start with Zan.

I approached him slowly, worrying that he could lash out at any moment, and opened the conversation. "Zan... thanks. You did more for me there than you know."

The lycanthrope simply shrugged, indifference in his eyes. "Eh. He was hurting me too, kid. Everyone else was just sitting on their ass. I didn't actually mean to kill him. But it worked out."

His cold shoulder stung, though I tried not to let it show. I simply tried a new angle... I didn't want to give up until I was sure he didn't hold any sort of grudge against me for the way I spoke to him when we met. "I... I want to apologize for the way I acted when we met. I feel like I made an enemy of you so quickly... when all I really want here is to be on good terms with everyone. Especially people like you... people who help others without even thinking."

Zan laughed then, a dry, quick burst of noise. "Apology accepted, kid. But don't be foolish. I was helping myself. As you knew, it was rather difficult to think past the 'OH FUCK PAIN' to really consider anybody else."

I was ecstatic at having gotten a laugh out of him, though I tried to play it down. "Heh. I know what you mean. I'm gonna sit down and take a load off... talk to you later, Zan."

It was only at that moment that the werewolf turned to me, a friendly pat placed on my back. "Oh and Zhao, don't worry it. I don't hold grudges. Just hold your own out when it matters and you'll get all the respect you need. Get some rest, yea?" And with that Zan left me be, allowing me to attend to my own thoughts.

I had one last thing to say before I collapsed: "Whatever Rayo thinks, I'm with him. I may have only known him shortly, but I trust his tactical mind completely."

And then I sat, nearly passing out. At the very least, I wasn't really in any shape to listen to any responses.


Last edited by Zhao Xun on Fri Jun 30, 2006 10:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2006 9:37 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 13, 2006 3:58 pm
Posts: 289
Location: In da' plains of hell, natch.
(The meeting was taking a bit of an odd turn right now. It started out ordinarily enough, and still continued to be as such when he spoke of some ideas involving bait-and-switch or other diversions, but there were complications about that business which were pointed out by Raine. It was just that planning was kind of hard when you had little to no information. The Hubs could be monsters or tiny items for all they knew, which was a problem. Also, it seemed that as the hackers were something of sadists, they could contrive the whole field to be something dark and sinister that could be impossible or near-impossible to get through. Canti recalled the dark tower in reference to this. Incredible puzzles and mysteries, all to find their way to the Demon of Fear, and then the traitor among them, Suraisu. Intricate and devious. He understood the concept perfectly. It was shortly thereafter that he received a shock as Dien stumbled in...looking even worse than Canti had felt. And then...)

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

(The eagle had come upon its last legs and beheld a group of shadows. The crow watched as the eagle shrieked out loud, its voice lashing at the hydra before falling silent. The shadows gathered as the crow continued to watch, as if a statue and not a true being. The fox knelt down beside and proclaimed him alive. He'd learned that to die was to concede the pain, and survived. A storm came and went, and the fox was again beside the crow, prodding the broken wings and wondering what will make them grow...)

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

(Canti shook his head, as if trying to reorient himself. He knew it. He was afraid this would happen and it worried him. As a living person outside of the game, in his real life with his real job, the medication he took sorted his mind and suppressed his dreams. He'd required a combination of the two because of the torturous nightmares that plagued his nights as his mental anguish haunted his days. In short, he was a wreck. Now, without the Nephilim and being stuck in the game like this, it seemed his consciousness was having some fun with him, turning his perception inside-out with dream-like visions. And stranger than that, he felt that the other was in those too. Did he make that one up while in the tower? Or was that a real person somewhere? Canti couldn't make heads or tails of it, but soon gave it up as Sheena came in with the information. It made it easier to get an idea on what to do as she pointed things out, but then something came to mind and he stepped over to Raine bring them out into the open.)

Canti: Raine, I don't know about this. Suddenly, every instinct in my body is telling me "Trap!" in a big way. Unprotected with only their guards and stuff? Right... I can see one of them sitting around, watching us go, and then whipping out the hellish power when our backs are turned. You said this was a big game to them, well I think that the game now might be fly-fishing, if you catch my meaning. Whatever we do, we should go in expecting to deal with it.

(Then, he looked left and then right as he paused before speaking again...)

Canti: Also...I kinda' miss my music. It helps me think, in and out of battle. Maybe you could do something about that...?

(That much was a shot in the dark, but he liked his playlists while fighting and felt naked without them. Music was a heavy influence on his mood at times. Without it, well...he wasn't naked so much as he felt...unarmed. Nevermind that now. Shortly after speaking, he heard Nighthand and Reinier talking. Seems the tally was not gonna happen after all. That's okay. His motivation for choosing that one field had been a gut instinct only. Nothing solid. With this being done, Canti was put upon 'Team Reinier', which also had Zan, Canti, Dien, Cypher, Nall, and Tokki. He couldn't argue with that line-up, except...he hadn't really gotten acquainted with Cypher, and who the hell was Tokki? Another member, yes, but how good? Better or worse than Nall? Anyway, everyone else was going in the other group and Reinier was looking for some feedback. Okay... Canti had one, and it was for Reinier in particular.)

Canti: Just one thing. You take point. Nothing makes a meat-shield like a living statue.

(The remark was more or less a jibe to the earth-dude about getting him stoned in the worst way possible, but also sensible because he was also big on the collateral damage and was obviously a strong character. That being said, the only oddity was where the living statue part came in. That was a little over the top, just like how Dien was an eagle, Zhao was a hydra, and most of these people were shadows of their former selves. In a way, they were all shadows, even him...the bloody crow.)

_________________
I'll have a doozy of a sig later, I swear. It'll reflect ".hack//CODE" an' everything.

Hey look! A profile! It's got items and stats and things! Cool! If it isn't fully up to date, it will be, so don't worry 'bout it.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2006 11:37 pm 
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The thunder mage simply blinked as when the whipped cream wave struck the room, and then watching it all vanish just shortly after it had arrived. ‘…But I like whipped cream.’ Still, the magician didn’t bother to voice his topping preference, mainly due to the lack of a food to put it on. Still, next time he wished to dine, he might need to ask Hijinx where to find the whipped cream.

Listening to some of the responses and comments on the general plan, his ears only perked up once Phoenix mentioned the memory issue. His first time had definitely wiped out some memories, but nothing seemed wrong this time around…at least not so far. Had Phoenix entered his current state through the same means as Rayo had? Most likely not…but it wasn’t entirely impossible. Given the length of his first stay and the retrieval issues, sending out a second player might have been considered. At some point, the wave master would need to inquire when the swordsman first joined the group…eventually.

Ryok and Phoenix both approved of the split, but that only made three. If not everyone agreed, that was fine. Still, if more didn’t choose to work with it, there was no reason to bother even trying. From what Nighthand had said, the water manipulator was about to return, but her opinion on the matter couldn’t be gauged without her presence. Flashmail might be the easiest way, but the lightning caster preferred to keep the entire conversation Distracted from his tally, the wizard was sucked into Reinier’s own train of thought.

Satisfied except for the comments on Ryok and team names, the mage simply shook his head as Reinier called out to everyone. It didn’t matter if people were put into groups unless they actually worked together. If everything failed on Reinier’s end in proposed teamwork, Reinier and Zan would team up like usual. Canti and Dien probably would as well. Still, Zan’s presence there helped keep things peaceful. That was one warrior who was looking out for everyone, both in battle and out of it. It might not be teamwork, but anyone in danger wouldn’t go unsupported. What of his side? Nighthand would easily split himself off from everyone if he felt it would help deter a threat, Hijinx was unpredictable, with most of the others being harder to get a read on through lack of observation or opportunity. Still…team names had to be addressed.


“…I don’t think we even need team names. Whatever the case, it isn’t anything important or worth discussion really. The only important factor for designating which is which would be based on the field attended.”

After speaking, Rayo sat down and pulled out his Thunder Magic, flipping through it like it was a catalog. Who knew what opportunities the team would have in order to pick up more efficient equipment. It would be best to know in advance whether or not anything discovered would be useful and instantly, without any delay. Noting Zhao’s vote once he spoke up, the sorcerer noted the total had now become five.

_________________
Rayo
Lv.47 Archer 745HP/311SP
Bell, the Silver Grunty of Thunder
Skills/Spells-Shocking Arrow of Voltage(30), Arrow of the Burning Stars(10), MeRai Rom(40), Rai Kruz(10), La Repth(20), Rip Maen(40), MeRai Kruz(20), GiVak Kruz(20), MeRai Don(20), Rig Saem(15)
Weapon/Armor/Book-Golden Royal Bow/Thunder Torque, Thunder Cloak, Able Ring, Ivory Greaves/Thunder Magic
Wishlist: YL Fukuoka, Stormlore, Winter Stone, Silver Grunty


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2006 3:50 am 
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With all of the conversations aimed his way slowly becoming less and less, Zan once more found himself with a little free time to think. Which, by experience, wasn't entirely a good thing. The lycanthrope felt a little badly about how he had spoke with Dien, but the kid had been the 'one-too-many' out of everyone who had walked up to him or grabbed his attention one way or another. What Zan really needed was to leave this Goddamn group and go huddle somewhere that would offer him up some fresh meat and a place to think without the chaos and hustle of Reinier and his planning brigade. Knowing that both things were out of his reach, Zan used what little peace he had inbetween would-be interrogations and breathed. Atra was bothering him. But what about her? What about her was grading him so much? The Heavy Blade would have liked to think himself noble, that he was infuriated with her because she had killed Gemini. The AI was a God damn copy of Zan's data pre-infection. It had literally been a part of him. Sadly, that wasn't it. Zan felt...

...sorry for her?

Disgusted with himself but knowing all too well the truth it held, Zan could only wonder why to a whole new degree. Why feel bad for her? The bitch had killed a guy that had been a decent friend and had been a part of a group that was currently holding his girlfriend and fellow faol captive and tortured. The whole speech she gave him about it just being a game, about her quitting, it could easily have just been some really bizarre plot to further her attempt at seducing him. In her mind, maybe, if Zan had become her plaything than getting him to do the whims of Wolfsbane would be that much easier. But no...there was something else. She was so God damn sincere. Lies didn't really have a scent, but what they usually did to a person was telltale. Then again, she could simply be good at masking them. Gah, no, it was too honest. He would probably end up hating himself for believing her later, but he did. Then what about her story made him feel sorry for her? Again he knew the answer, and again he didn't like that it bothered him. She seemed so alone in her twisted little world, her body held underwater in the chaos of it while a single hand flailed out into the air in hopes of someone grasping those squirming digits and pulling her free. Fuck his stupid savior complex. Not everyone could be yanked from their own inner-turmoil.

Having identified the source and reason for his personal disturbance, Zan was able to pull himself out of that hole, if only temporarily. He needed to immerse himself in the squabbling amongst the group of team names and team contents. If anything, he needed to do all of that as a simple distraction. A good distraction would be just dandy about now. Switching his thought stream into planning mode, he considered the idea of the Freedom Fighters splitting up. Quite frankly, Rayo's amazing abilities for tactics and strategies aside (amazing next to the rest of them, anyway), it seemed like a damn poor idea. Why split up their forces when said forces were just getting strong and built up? Yea, let's dwindle our numbers once we finally have them. Brilliant. Zan would have voiced his objections, was two seconds from it, but everyone seemed pretty chipper and content about the idea of it all. Ug. If there was one thing the werewolf wasn't in the mood right about then, it was arguing with the people in that room. Most of them were too stubborn to listen to him when it mattered. Eh, oh well. It might actually turn out to be an Einstein tactic and Zan would have been the one to hold it at bay. No fun. Deciding to at least disperse his ideas towards someone who'd listen, Zan approached the lightning mage.

"Do you really think this whole splitting up thing is wise? You seem to know what you're doing in terms of tactics, so I won't try and go out and claim to have any better ideas, but it still seems a little off to me." It was true enough, anyway.

"Six seems a reasonable amount. Against the Elites, I don't think our chances for success vary much between the difference in numbers. Against anyone else however, half should be more than enough to take out or defend against. Weaker groups going in without a plan managed to take out some fearsome beasts. I'm not saying this won't have risks, but attacking the hackers is by it's nature dangerous. I want to optimize the damage done to them with the least risk reasonable. I don't want us to take out one hub and then lose the opportunity to strike there again. We might find hitting the third foolish after taking out the others once back up arrives. I'm trying to balance the risk of going with not going. We can have danger now, when we know it's there and should have the element of surprise, or we can see if leaving their network intact kills us in the end. I'd rather be proactive and hinder them as much as we can."

Zan paused, considering the offered words. They had some sense in them, and it those parts that the lycanthrope had to mull over. "I know. And that's all well and good, but we've been struggling with our small numbers for longer than I'd like to think. After all of that and we finally have some numbers backing us up. Do we really want to chop down said numbers now because of an idea that could turn out to be pointless? No offence intended man, but it seems like we're over thinking this."

"Possibly. Though the survival thus far attests to the success a smaller group could have. If all goes well and the third field can be attacked, that would be with everyone. Still, we could all go to one field and end up just as badly off. From my understanding they can track the excessive twilight energy or something to that extent. Splitting up might even help us sneak underneath their radar."

There, a decent point. Something Zan could hold onto. "Ya', I see where that's true. With as many people as we have, we'd easily trip off some massive Twilight alarm. I guess that's what we'll have to do then. Can't say I like it." Pausing, mid-turn, Zan faced the Wavemaster once again. "Oh, and sorry you're stuck with Jinx. If the rabbit gets out of hand, just stuff your wand down it's throat and let Lanceor deal with it."

"We'll live. I'm worrying more about the enemy really."

Zan laughed, nodding his agreement. "Yea. I have a feeling we'll just be dealing with flunkies, but those guys could be pretty damn scary as well. We're walking blind right now. We just have to hope that Lady Luck flashes us some flesh and gets us done what we need done."

"Well, I pity any lesser hackers who'll face us. Not to be bragging, but we're scary in our own ways. Look at you or Hijinx for that. Unpredictable madness, wolf mayhem...it's a more level playing field."

A shrug then, the lycanthrope not as confident in the matter as his fellow Freedom Fighter. "Maybe, but I wouldn't put it past them to have some pretty scary players in the mix. I guess we'll just have to keep the 'what if' games to a minimum. It won't get me, or us for that matter, anywhere."

"On the plus side, if they do have anyone significant there that's not an Elite, we might be able to deal them more damage by taking them out."

Again, a good point. "You got me there. That or we could die, but when is that not a possibility with this group? Anywho, I'll talk to you later. Good luck with Team Rayo."

"...I should smack Reinier for making names..." Laughing again, Zan departed from the conversation.

With nothing really accomplished, but his doubt lessened a touch but Rayo's assurance, Zan once again wondered what it is he could do to keep his mind's crippling pessimism at bay. Take up golfing? Or ping pong? Maybe football. More likely than not, he'd be able to actually accomplish one of those things before everyone finally got everything arranged. Admittingly, Zan was impatient. The lycanthrope, like Reinier, had grown used to the blind flailing in the dark that eventually led them where they needed to go. Monsters? Elites? Pshhhh. Smash smash smash smash smash. That had always taken care of it. Though, like Nighthand had mentioned before, the two previously defeated Elites (though Zan had only been around for one) had been nothing more than a mistake. They were probably amateurs at the game of 'Kill Some Freedom Fighters' in comparison to the rest of the Elites and whatever other goon squads they had at their disposal. Not exactly a calming thought, but a truthful one. At least he was pretty damn positive it was.

So what exactly did they do now? None of them, not even Nall, was fit to take on any of the Elites Zan had seen in Mac Anu. Okay, so maybe Nall, but that was still doubtful. The lycanthrope had seen at least two or three of the big wigs that could blink and make Nall whimper. An over exaggeration, probably, but the fact remained that him and the rest of the Freedom Fighters were pretty damn helpless when it came to taking down the Elites head-to-head. That was probably why this whole hub business was going down in the first place. Raine and Sheena and all of them had come to that same conclusion before Zan even had the time to conceive it. Man, he really needed to get his head in the game. It was really coming down to that little wire. Zan needed to clear his thoughts of all of the things out of his control and be some help in things that actually could make use of his assistance. Keep sharp. Keep aware. Keep awake. Those were the only things he could hope to accomplish if he was going to continue to be a reliable warrior in the midst of all that was going down.

Thinking of the teams, though, Zan felt himself to be on the better end of the deal. The whole discussion with Rayo about Jinx aside, he just had a lot of people on his team that he trusted. Reinier and Dien. Two. So not a lot a lot, but enough. Plus, with Dien's newfound abilities having already shown, it would be good to have someone with those kind of crippling abilities on his side. Sure the asshole couldn't exactly control that shit, and would probably end up making Zan won't to tear off his own skin again, but it was still a nice thought in the more general sense. If anything, Zan just wanted to get this show on the road. He thought better when the action was heavy. It made the Beast lend its two cents and, animosity aside, it was generally good advice. Having the Instinct was especially helpful and, as Zan had found out on several occasions, the primal side of a human's brain was often smarter than what they walked around using now. Laughing at the thought of a cave man Twilight infection, he prepared himself for what was to come.

_________________
Lv. 50 Heavy Blade
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Special: Levels, GR Sendai, PL Sakai, Darklore.
W: Tonosama Sword, Mineuchi, Jundachi.
A: Samurai Helm, Able Hands, Rare Greaves.
I: Holy Sap, Treebane, Cooked Bile, Nightbane.
EX: Elemental Summon (Lv. 2), Overdrive (Lv.1), Elemental Attacks (Lv. 2), Enhance Dark, Elemental Breath (Lv. 2).


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