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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 3:54 pm 
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Well-Oiled Machine
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Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 12:59 am
Posts: 176
Location: :noitacoL
Waiting around can be awkward sometimes. Though most business managers would have you believe that people feel comfortable sitting around in their waiting rooms, the reality is that they're not. Often times a person would find themselves sitting close to or across from people they don't know and probably would just as soon not meet. Such a predicament would be devastatingly nerve-wracking for Lighteria since eye contact and casual conversation are two things he has yet to master... or even do without hyperventilating. Fortunately for the group today, Kit has no such handicap. If someone is sitting across from her in a waiting room, they exist for two purposes only: A potential belly rubber or a possible nap interrupter. Such people must silenced or encouraged depending on which they choose. For this situation though, neither of the options pop up in a timely manner. No sooner has Kit rested her not particularly weary but certainly lazy head down on the couch armrest then the room spring to life, a door appearing and practically screaming at the group... "Ya'll come in here!"

While Kit does eventually answer this oddly mid-western sounding beck and call, she does so at her own pace, plodding lazily behind the players as they're forced to enter the hallway one at a time. Being relatively tiny, Kit could easily sneak betwixt the ankles of the Freedom Fighters and reach the front of the hallway first... but let's face it: bounding ahead excitedly is something a dog would do and Kit shall never stoop to such a base level as to be compared to a DOG. I mean, really. As she reaches the end of the hallway, her senses are assaulted by two extremely prevalent things about this room. 1: There is a garden. 2: There is a weirdo sitting in it. Apparently Marionette has his fair share of doormen.. though through his rather straightforward speech, this one apparently doubles as an information center. Clearly this is a good opportunity to learn more about what they're up against, or at the very least shoot the breeze before things get dangerous again. The group seems to sense this as well, most everyone approaching the Guardian and asking some sort of probing question to try and wrest some answers out of this stoic AI. As the group pours on the interrogation, Kit too decides to come up with her own questions. After all, this person they're talking with is clearly a genuine, bona fide AI, just like Kit. There's a certain empathetic bond between two beings created entirely from some programmer's overactive imagination. Not to mention, this Guardian has obviously been touched by Twilight just as Kit has as well. So much potential lies here in the meaning of such an existence and what common beliefs or ideals they could possibly share. Indeed, if there's anyone she could touch base with outside that hideout, it would be this guy. That in mind, she finds herself sitting at his feet with a hefty amount of dignity. After a painfully cute paw at his ankle to grab his attention, Kit speaks, what she feels, are the most important questions on her mind.

"Mew meow mew mew? (What'd Angel do to Lighteria?)"

"Angel did nothing but die."

Not particularly surprised he could understand her, Kit seems to don an irritated look at this. Clearly, not the answer she was hoping for. In her heart of hearts, she was hoping he'd give her step by step instructions on what to do next, but this guardian has FAILED her. Nevertheless, that answered there is still one more pressing question.

"Mew mew meow mew meow? (Are there any milk saucers around here?)"

"No."

How uncouthly blunt! His lair fails to provide the most basic of amenities and he doesn't even have a HINT of apology in his voice? Tch, no sense talking to THIS barbarian much longer. Only one more essential piece of information is required at this point before she can be done with him.

"(Mew meow MEW mew meow meow mew meow? (Is there at LEAST a place I can get an ear scratch?)"

"Is that not what your party is for?"

Kit blinks at the response... this was TRUE. Though no one had obliged in the previous room, that was clearly due to the fact that they spent only a small amount of time there. Now that they're waiting for Marionette to get out of the shower or whatever, there's PLEANTY of time for that. Of course, just to make sure, it might be best to pick out a target and start dropping some hints. Now who would be a good candidate for this...? Perhaps that Blademaster Dien? Yes, that's a good choice for sure. Her decision made, Kit turns away from the Guardian without so much as a thank you and wanders over to Dien and leaps into his lap as he sits on a garden bench, purring expectantly.

_________________
Lv. 37 Twin Blade (180 SP)
Weapon: Rashou (Thunder Coil- 30, Suvi Lei- 20, Mumyn Lei- 30) (Life Drain)
Armor: Holy Tree Mail (Juk Kruz- 20) - Scarab Earring (La Repth- 20, Rip Maen- 40) - Time Sandals (Ap Do- 15) - Forest Gloves (Juk Kruz- 20)
GP: 14384

Wish list (In order of priority): Angel halo accessory, chibi angel wings, Bone Armor, Professional

Lighteria: "Obsessively updating my profile since Fri Oct 01, 2004 7:10 pm"


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 2:55 am 
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Exalted Player

Joined: Sat May 13, 2006 3:58 pm
Posts: 288
Location: In da' plains of hell, natch.
(Really, of all the people to see back from the wastes, returned from disappearance, Canti hadn't expected to see Dien back again. He had wondered, on and off, what ever became of the guy. It kind of bothered him that he vanished, so when he appeared in the waiting room now...it was pretty damn reasonable to ask what he'd been up to. It didn't take long to get a response either. Not the one expected, but there we are.)

"Didn't know you smoked."

(He probably wondered if it did any good. That'd been one of the Twin Blade's own concerns as well. And the fact is...it DID, or else he wouldn't try it. The effect of a cigarette is all in the mind. Therefore, he was working off some stress with 'em while leaving his body unharmed by what the real thing would do. Still, though...it hadn't had the chance to run its course. Canti was still a little shook up by the training he'd gone through.)

Canti: I don't...'till now. I just...needed something, you know? I haven't even had my regular medication in here, so I...

(Then, something caught his eye and surprised him. It was a veritable Holy-Shit/Thank-God moment, a look of shock and...relief?...came over him for a moment as he saw Senna. He'd heard her voice and glanced, then focused more on her, forgetting the Blademaster for a moment. She was alright... Whatever happened, whatever drove her off, at least he knew that she was okay. So, getting back to Dien...)

Canti: Sorry. Alot of shit's been happening while you were out.

"I can imagine. Alot of that shit followed me. The World's just a shitty place, I guess..."

(Amen, Reverend. No argument there. Every moment he was stuck in The World, with no freedom to return to his own life - no matter how crappy it was at times - was a deeper and darker hell than anything in his wild imagination. So, it seemed that both he and Dien had fallen on hard times. And while Canti's had been alone in a group of individualists pretending to be team, Dien was truly alone. It was easy enough to understand the sentiment. Suddenly, he noticed the Blademaster smiling at something. What the...?)

"You two got something going on?"

(This took him off-guard completely. Think of a computer loading a page on the internet and then LOOK OUT! CRASH!!!)

Canti: Er, what? No, we're not- I mean, uhhh...shit.

(The thought seemed to derail his mind altogether for a moment. Canti felt embarassment, since...while they did SEEM close, he hadn't tried anything. Not at this time. And yet, trying to say so was hard as hell at first. It was probably because of the way Dien phrased it, being all suggestive and whatnot. That's what threw him, and it wouldn't be the only comment that did.)

Canti: I dunno about that. She went missing during the last Hub. I thought she was leaving us. It really bummed me out.

"At least you got yours back."

(The 'yours' part caught the Twin Blade's attention. What was he saying? Canti wasn't even sure if they were an item yet, and he was a little shy to find out. In the short amount of time she'd been here, the two of them had definitely become friends. Maybe even good friends. He certainly worried about her when she vanished, but wasn't that normal? What Dien's comment did here was throw in a thought that he hadn't been thinking. Not on the surface. Canti tucked it in hindbrain for now, figuring it was better not to jump to conclusions. In the meantime, the Twin Blade's eyes narrowed at him for a moment.)

Canti: Uhhh, what're you talking about?

(This provoked laughter. Why? He wasn't sure. Looked like a tension-breaker to him, the way Dien was going now. It must've been because of the way he'd reacted.)

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean that you were together. God, there'd be something wrong with something like that happening so immediately. No, I meant that your relationship with her is roughly the same as mine, with..."

Canti: With who? Dien...where were you this whole time? What the hell did you do?

(Instead of answering, a look passed over the Blademaster's face. He... He knew that look...)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(For some reason, he couldn't stop himself from shaking. It all happened too fast. The call, the ride over, the sudden beeeep at the end... It was too much to absorb at once. He couldn't take it in. And so, he sat in a room at the hospital, his eyes looking at nothing as they filled with sorrow and the agony of despair. His whole life was being torn to pieces, starting with the ones who brought him into this world. Why was this happening...? Everything was coming apart and he didn't know if it was possible to keep it together...)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(That was the kind of pain that Dien's expression showed. Then, as the sign saying "Please Wait" vanished, Nighthand was on the move and soon they were heading down a corridor. It was after they fell into line that the Blademaster spoke, and he listened quietly.)

"In the tower with Suraisu, do you remember Futune? His character had been hacked not long before, and as a result he had the ears and the tail--but more than that, he had a super-intelligent AI with him. Her name was Danielle, and originally, she'd been created to take over his real-life body. Anyway, through the course of events, she wound up installing herself on me, before Futune lagged out."

(Futune... Yes, the blue fox. Of course, he remembered Futune. He'd asked the fox-man about some of the hallucinations he'd been having, because what he saw was a girl with fox-ears herself. That was Reyome, though. A real person. Funny how The World works. It was then that the doors at the end of the hallway opened into an expansive garden? Eden, perhaps? Well, if so, then Marionette was the snake... And the head of that serpent took the form of Guardian, the puppetmaster's right-hand henchman, looking stoicly as ever. Anyway, Dien concluded with "That's who.", ending his tale. It was hard to believe, but...Canti managed to. Lately, it'd become a common theme around here.)

Canti: I guess I can't really understand what that's like. You, Zan, Sekai... You've all got these AIs attached to you. I didn't know Futune had one. He just told me he'd been hacked and that was that.

"Yeah, the funny thing is that I could have stopped her. When she began installing herself, I caught it in my firewalls, and was literally asked by dozens of prompts if I wanted to let her in."

(He then paused for a moment, before continuing...)

"I could have said no."

Canti: Why did she do it? Errr, uhhh... Ya know what? Nevermind. I don't need to know that badly.

(He had a look that understood how hard a guy can get hit in life as he took a drag on the cigarette. Fact is, he really didn't want to know. Getting drawn in too deeply would only hurt him that much more, and he already hurt so bad as is.)

Canti: Some things are better left out, 'cause they're too ugly to face.

"Nah, she wasn't ugly. Anything but. She installed herself 'cause she was curious and intrigued by how I interfaced with The World. No dark intents there. Now that she's gone, though, I can't help but wonder if I never should have let her install in the first place. Would not knowing her have been better than not having her now? These questions I ask myself, they have no answer."

Canti: Well then, I can't help ya. I didn't even know you had her."

(He had things on his mind as well, tossing down the cigarette butt and crushing it.)

"Heh, yeah. She was rather self-conscious about letting people know about her. In fact, I think that it was only Zan who knew."

Canti: Zan?! Heh. Figures... So anyway, let's harass the doorman.

(He said this with a sudden grin. Dien questioned him quickly and then accidentally tripped on Guardian's leg, since he had been looking Canti's way instead. The Twin Blade winced at this as Dien pushed himself up and saw what he tripped on.)

"Oh right, you're Marionette's Guardian."

(Fortunately, Canti himself was more aware of his surroundings, and gave the Guardian a nod.)

Canti: Sorry about that, guy. My bad, really. Say ummm...are human like the others? Never really figured that part out.

"Perhaps I once was. I am beyond such limitations now, however."

"Limitations? How do you mean?"

"You are limited. Pain holds you back, biology weakens you, morality stops your decisions."

Canti: So, in other words, you're pretty much like Angel, Devil, and Primal were. Correct?

"Incorrect. I am beyond them."

(Black eyes narrowed at this, glaring at the Guardian carefully.)

Canti: How far beyond?

"There is no proper scale on which to measure our relative ability."

(It sounded suspicious and it sounded like bullshit. The idea that Guardian was far superior to his 'siblings' didn't wash, not to him. Canti had found that the greatest adversary he had was himself. And Guardian being more of an external threat, he didn't measure up in standards. Besides, the guy seemed more like Marionette's butler than top warrior. It was the mask with a little class, the gentleman cane, the stoic stallion. He wasn't suppose to be the threat, but rather the message-man and, let's face it, the doorman.)

"Then I'm glad you're more of a diplomat than Primal was, 'cause if you're stronger, then I'd rather not have to fight you."

"I am simply performing the service the Master bid me perform."

"So if he says 'fight,' you fight?"

"I would."

(Ah, this made sense. NOW he understood. The butler was a bodyguard, the witch's familiar, the necromancer's chief abomination. It fit perfectly. Why didn't he see it before? There was more he had to ask this guy.)

Canti: And the service is to block us from advancing any quicker than he wants. I heard. So lemme ask you... Is it that your master placed you here because we're suppose to fight? Or is he really just preparing for us and he'll tell you to let us in if we're just patient?

"Don't provoke him, Canti. I'm fairly confident it's the latter."

(He ignored Dien at this point, mostly because it was not an invitation to fight, per se, but because he wanted to know, for certain, if that was what the puppetmaster intended...or if he really just wanted them to wait for a bit. Marionette seemed to enjoy forced-confrontations.)

"The Master is prepared. He tests your curiosity and your desire to meet him. Whether you fight me or not is irrelevant to his plans, only to yours."

"So then this is the Rat's Gauntlet. Tell me this, Guardian, do you know what became of Nall?"

(The rat's what? Canti didn't get that one... And what's this about Nall? Eh, he'd find out eventually.)

"That is a question for you to ask the Master."

Canti: Okay, so you either don't care or are not informed of the big questions. Tell me then, O man-of-the-door, what are you for, aside from Marionette's top bouncer? Does he even have any power beyond making guys like you?

"He knows more about you than you do."

"Then how much does he know?"

"There is no scale on which to measure his knowledge."

"In terabytes, then? Petabytes? He's in The World - he has to have some quantifiable database or resource book or something..."

(Dien wasn't going to get what he wanted out of the frozen mask. Besides that, Guardian's answers were starting to worry Canti, and annoy him.

Canti: Dien, we're not getting anywhere here. He's a blocker for us AND information. He's a blank slate. Nothing to give.

(Suddenly, Guardian moved for the first time, turning its blank face to stare directly at Canti.)

"Reyome works hard, doesn't she? It's too bad she's powerless."

(Then, it switched to Dien.)

"A shame you had to leave your comrades for this."

(Both of them were struck hard by this pair of phrases. Canti felt as though he'd been sucker punched, and he imagined that Dien's was like a stab to the kidneys. The Blademaster was quicker in his reaction, pulling out his sword and pointing it at Guardian's throat. The winged Twin Blade didn't even hear what was said, because he was already feeling the fires of rage burn within him, symbolizing that he had had ENOUGH. Reyome put aside everything in her life to keep an eye on him and investigate the situation with the team itself as much as she could. No one - man, beast, guardian, or whatever - insults that!! Canti's reaction was not as dramatic as Dien's, but it carried impact as black fire rose from a pointed finger. He didn't fire yet. It just got his hackles up is all.)

Canti: Fuck you, ya friggin' zombie! If you're so smart and tough, how come you've got HIS hand up your ass?!

(He meant Marionette, about how he was obviously a puppet. Guardian didn't answer that yet, but DID rise to the challenge made. He stood, his cane floating on front of his body, pushing Dien's blade away. He placed one hand on Canti's finger, and the other on Dien's forehead. Abruptly, both of their graphical effects disappeared, while simultaneously Dien's sword snapped in half. Then, after stating that he was nothing like Angel, Devil, or Primal, the scene changed back to normal. Everything was how it was before Guardian stood, only the two players' aim was now several inches off. Wait, how the heck did THAT happen? Canti got a "What the...?" look on his face after that, then withdrew his finger. Remembering he had to keep it cool, he took out a cig, lit up, dragged on it, and blew out a plume of smoke before speaking again.)

Canti: Wouldn't bet on that, ya know, keeping Angel in mind. She said the same thing. 'I serve him of my own free will'. Told me so. It's bullshit. You're nothing to him. Just a tool waiting for the hammer to fall.

(He grinned the devil's grin, or John Constantine's. Either way, that was the effect. He had the bastard pegged now. Servant to the last, useful and resourceful, but utterly dispenseful. He watched Dien power down while speaking next, and was curious about why he'd had that glow...)

Canti: Tough or not, he's master. He'll end you, no contest.

"No such confrontation will take place. The Master's goals are my own. I work with him in fair exchange for my abilities."

(Right now, that glow had Canti's attention more than Guardian's self-assured snobby confidence. And they called HIM the devilish one. Hah! Hubris and arrogance, running hand and hand in Guardian Land. The Twin Blade waited as Dien had his share.)

"And. it would seem, your knowledge. I'll tell you what, Guardian, you can talk all you want about our abilities, about your pathetic master, and about how bad you could own us in a fight, but let me advise you of this: if you touch our personal lives? Things are going to get real ugly down here, and you won't want to stick around to see it. I don't give two shits about Marionette, and you know it. I'm just here to follow with this band of Freedom Fighters, 'cause it's what Amy wanted. I don't really know their goals, but I do know that killing you would give me no grief. So, don't fucking push me."

"You speak well of friends you left behind. Were it only that they could see you as you die from such overconfidence."

Canti: Right. Of course.

(Attention diverted from Dien, Canti went back to dealing with Guardian, whose convictions he was growing more and more skeptical of. He was a snob, and nothing beyond that. High on himself and as self-assured as a certain character in a comic whose fall was legendary. Let's just face it. The track-record for servants around here was pretty bad.)

Canti: I'm curious. What kind of goals do you have? What are you for? And hold off on 'His Master's Voice' for a second. I just want to know what you DO. Gimme...'A Day In The Life Of Guardian', alright?"

(He had hoped to hear the voice of the Guardian without having Marionette crammed up his ass, one last ditch effort to see what motivated him beyond zealotism. He didn't like this bouncer's attitude. Speaking AS a part-time bouncer, he knew what the profession was like, and the butler-boy here was - if we may alliterate once more - a load of bullocks.)

"I do what the Master requires of me. His orders are my guide."

(And now, Canti just facepalmed, groaning...)

"So you're nothing more than a boy on a string. You were right, Canti. This guy has nothing for us. Though I would like nothing better than to see his head impaled on a stick, he's not worth the effort of killing to make that a reality. Let's just stop talking: no need to kill anyone yet."

(Not worth killing? No, that was untrue. If nothing else, Canti found that all things were worth doing if possible. There was no excuse for this. He had tried to be reasonable and he'd been coaxed into being forceful. It looked as though both of those were doomed to failure. Therefore, the Twin Blade saw that they were defeated...for now. A real battle had yet to be made, but let someone else take that bull by the horns. Nighthand was leader. Let HIM deal with Mr. Fabulous over there. Those two were made for each other. As for him...)

Canti: Nothing but aggravation. Totally unreasonable. I can't talk to this guy.

(...he turned away from Guardian. There were better people to talk to, and one in particular he wanted to talk to badly. After Canti left, Phoenix was up to bat, but he would not be paid any heed. That guy wouldn't budge under ANY condition, so the issue was ignored for the time being. Coincidentally, as he was hoping to have a word with Senna, she seemed to want to speak to him too.)

"Hey Canti. That...thing have anything interesting to say?"

(Apparently, the conversation hadn't been overheard. Canti still appeared to be a bit aggravated by it.)

Canti: If by 'interesting', you mean 'asshole', then yes. He had a great deal.

(Check that. Quite a bit.)

"Well, at least I suppose we can't say Marionette's throwing anything unexpected at us in that regard. They're ALL assholes as far as I've seen."

(He pointed a thumb back at the guy.)

Canti: He claims to be beyond all the others, and he's 'certain' the master will never cast him aside. And from what he knows from Marionette, yeah...an asshole beyond the call of duty.

"Hmm. Ah well, maybe it's better if we don't get anything from it. Since it's obviously here to either start a fight or give us some specific bit of knowledge, I feel almost spiteful in not trying either."

(She let out a chuckle, one lacking entirely in humor.)

"But that's...eh. Good to see Dien back. Do you know the new guys?"

Canti: Glad to see him too. Don't know the other two yet. Guess I will, eventually.

(He looked back for a moment, recalling the "What the fuck?!" moment they had over there.)

Canti: And I wouldn't try fighting just yet. I don't think he's BSing about his power.

(He was pretty serious about that, what with the bending of reality there. How did Dien's sword snap and then repair anyway? That was Guardian's doing in totality, right? Senna just shrugged at this.)

"I wouldn't doubt it. It is better than versions one through three if it's to be believed, after all. So we wait for Marionette to sic it on us."

Canti: I'm not sure if we have to or not. He could be ordered to, but we might not have to deal with it.

(At the moment, though, this didn't really concern him. There were other things on his mind. You could see it on his face.)

"We should take up an over-under on when we get to move on."

(She glanced over, a smirk/smile on her face. Canti...almost didn't get what she was saying, then picked it up as though divined to him from the gods. Afterwhich, he declined the idea, saying...)

Canti: Eh, I'll pass. He's ready for us. He's just waiting for the right moment.

(Then, speaking of the right moment, he abruptly changing the subject, feeling as though he couldn't sit on it anymore. You couldn't expect him to, so he didn't. Canti's next words were a little more serious, reflecting the issue of how Senna had effectively vanished and told nobody about it. Not even to say goodbye.)

Canti: You didn't want me following again, I take it...

(She tipped her head to one side and lightly shook her head.)

"Some things you gotta do alone."

(Alone. There was that word again. Part of him liked to strike out on his own, but another part almost couldn't stand it. It was more like...he could cope with it, but he believed in staying a team because it meant that you didn't have to BE alone...except as a last resort. Of course, Canti was guilty in his own fashion...)

"I guess I can understand, since I'd taken up the habit. But...I knew that I'd be coming back."

(And he didn't know if she would, ever.)

"I didn't know if I would. But then, if I hadn't, it would have been because I shouldn't."

Canti: Yeah... You said that might happen.

(They'd made an sort of an agreement together, after the first time Senna had left. If she felt that she wasn't making any sort of a difference, then she certainly wouldn't have any reason to stay. They didn't word it quite like that, but that was what the deal boiled down to. It was just that...even if she was leaving for good, he would've felt better knowing. Because then, he wouldn't have-)

Canti: What made you come back?

(She gestured around the room.)

"You all. And being able to, I suppose."

(The allure of the team. Heh. If only it were more team-like... But part of that caught the Twin Blade off guard. It raised the question...)

Canti: Being able to?

"Like you told me way back when. You never know what's out there waiting for us, right?"

(Better the devil you know, eh? He could understand that fine, but it made him think there was more to it. It was the sort of phrase that indicates something had happened while she was out. Some kind of confrontation or event. This seemed to be a repeating theme with the both of them. Well, if that was the case...better that he start. Wouldn't want her to be caught unawares, right? So, as calmly as he could, he said it.)

Canti: Something happened while you were out. My infection activated when we had to fight Angel.

(It wasn't something he was proud of either. One would think that suddenly gaining power from this game would do some good, but really...it doesn't. Hearing this brought a bit more actual emotion into Senna's voice, and she sounded concerned as she asked...)

"What happened?"

Canti: Well, at first, it was just that felt a deep hatred...that I just wanted to kill her. And then when I attacked, something was different, and...I'm pretty sure that was the first time the black fire appeared.

"Black fire... So infection is like...what Zan does with his transformation, or Phoenix and his....whatever he does?"

Canti: I don't even know what Phoenix does, but I guess that's how it works...

(He could understand the Zan part of it, demonizing with wings and all. Oh, right...)

Canti: It's not all there is. It tried to kill me.

"What?!"

(He wasn't sure of it himself, but it happened...)

Canti: Something snapped when we were fighting Angel. I lost control and woke up in the barracks with my bed on fire. I guess she beat me, but something happened. And when I tried to gain control, the virus infected the field and threw everything it could against me. That part's my fault, but I think it was inevitable.

(He looked at her with significant worry in his black eyes.)

Canti: I'm losing it, Senna... It's finally happened. I've gone bat-shit crazy.

"So...coming back was more difficult for you than for me. But...crazy?"

(She frowned. What was it? Was she skeptical, or did she just not like the looks of what he was saying. For Canti, it was a little of Column A, B, and C...which ALREADY didn't make sense.)

"It sounds like you're aware of what happened - and that it DID Happen. It just sounds like...well, like this infection is making things living hell for you."

(Let's see... He threw up black blood several times, had constant pain driving through his skull, and - oh yes - a ton of spikes agonizingly shot out of his body. All this and more while being attacked by Mythos abominations and beastial clones of himself.)

Canti: Oh, it happened. I was lucid for every moment of training. I'd borrowed a program from a friend of mine, a field-editor. That's what the virus took over. Nearly didn't make it...

"Glad you are back. Jeeze. Did you...get any of it under control?"

(He smirked with a "Heh", holding up his right hand and conjuring up...a small amount of Darkness Flame. Just enough to point out the accomplishment. It was fire, but clearly made out of Ani-type energy.)

Canti: Damn right, I did. It uses SP.

(He let it die.)

Canti: I saw myself changing. There's something else going on. I don't think it's complete yet...

(She frowned thoughtfully.)

"Meaning... you might have to do it again?"

Canti: No!

(His answer was spoken with sudden fear, and then he quickly regained himself.)

Canti: Not like that. Never again. The virus was trying to change me into a thing, so I'm pretty sure that I haven't accessed all of its power. But...I'm not sure I want it either. All I see is a maniacal beast with no control. You know me. I may be impulsive, but I'm in control.

(Nodding, Senna apologized for the comment.)

Canti: Not your fault. Like I said, I got myself into that mess. I could've just trained normally, but I chose to go it alone in an unproven method of bringing out the 'inner me'. Remind me never to touch H.P. Lovecraft ever again.

"Uh...yeah, sounds like. Though I'm not sure he didn't see this place. Maybe this less material life is our true life..."

(Canti looked at her carefully.)

Canti: No way. It's like you said. For me, it's a nightmare. I'd rather go back to my crappy life than end up thinking this is paradise, like all of Marionette's puppet-pals. I want out of here, and I want you to be able to do the same, and everyone else. The World is a terrible place to live, Senna.

"True. Though I don't suppose we're in any position to judge which hell people prefer. Heck, part of me wonders sometimes myself."

Canti: I prefer the one where my only problem is fixing cars, paying bills, and coping as best I can. There's no virus in real life. No Elites, no mind-fucks, no coma...

(A pause, though, as he suddenly looked downtrodden.)

Canti: No friends, either... I came to The World to have fun, keep in touch with the human race. Didn't work, did it?

(Senna tilted her head to one side, then the other in a so-so gesture.)

"I suppose it depends on how you mean. But I...eh. I can see what you mean."

Canti: Well...I have friends here, clearly. I just don't like the price. Which would you pick? I mean, if you had to...

(Any trace of mirth left her features. )

"Ask me after Marionette's taken care of."

Canti: Yeah...

(Then, trying to lighten the mood again...)

Canti: For what it's worth, though, I'm glad you came back.

"Thanks. I wasn't sure they'd let me back, to be honest. But without Zan and Sekai, I suppose it's an easier decision."

Canti: I don't think you'd have much trouble with that. And besides, you know I got your back.

"And you know the same goes both ways, neh?"

(He gave her a look, with a smile.)

Canti: The cure for alone, right?"

"Definitely. Heh, so now what? We cool our heels and wait?"

(Canti sighed.)

Canti: Pretty much. Actually, I don't mind. I really didn't wanna fight him anyhow.

(Then, she sighed.)

"Ah well. And me without a deck of cards."

(A slight pause followed, and then the Twin Blade grinned.)

Canti: I have music. Does that help?

"Immensely."

(This was something he had access to thanks to some outside help, made possible by a hack that he clearly was not responsible for, and that certainly no one else in the group had done for him. Canti reached out and made a playlist window appear, switching the options from 'Self Only' to 'Group'. He had quite an extensive collection. Gesturing to it, he bid her...)

Canti: Choose.

(He said that offhand, letting her go ahead. The window stayed up without him holding it there now. Senna looked embarrassed, which was a look he hadn't been expecting, really.)

"Actually, you better. If it's not classical, I don't really...know it all that well, you know?"

(Errr, no. He didn't quite follow. Not much into music, perhaps? Wait... Classical?)

Canti: What? You mean like...'Flight of the Valkyries'?

(He selected down...and there it was. Canti had a number of tastes based solely on what he thought sounded good, and not necessarily because of their origins. This, inevitably, made him pretty well-rounded in his tastes...with a few odd ones intermixed.)

"That works. Though...it seems a little climactic for our waiting game. Can't help but improve the situation, I think."

Canti: Er, sorry. All the classical ones I like are the climactic ones. Well... Ah, of course."

(He selected one from Fullmetal Alchemist ((http://gh.ffshrine.org/song/3060/4)), and hit play. Most of those themes were classical AND cool. Soon, as though the room had surround-sound built in, the music began to filter into the background, as though it WERE the background music playing in proper. He should've tried this a long time ago. Senna listened for a few seconds, then nodded.)

"Nice. That'll work. What is it?"

Canti: It's from an anime that came out some years back called Fullmetal Alchemist. Really popular. Glad ya like it.

"How'd you get that, anyway? Seems useful. Or at least entertaining."

Canti: Friend of mine did it. It's a god-send. Just a reminder that I'm not alone.

(And he would have to thank Rey later for that, and for being there. Guardian was wrong, dead wrong. As far was Canti was concerned, Reyome's power was far greater than any of the pawns that Marionette could pull together. The fox lying in the shadows, keeping track of him and doing all she can to help. Even the sentiment was enough to make the situation bearable. That was why Canti believed in the team, and in staying close to friends in similar circumstances. Nighthand didn't seem to care as much as he did, but perhaps he failed to understand the meaning of this hell. They were exiled from their bodies, and had only each other to rely on. Without these ties, without any sort of bond with any of these people, they would surely go insane, and the Elites would win. For all he knew, Marionette was sent specifically to drive them all to the breaking point, making them easy targets once their spirits were broken. They had to stay together, and that's why Canti was still here, and not alone. The music played on, and he just listened...waiting to see what would happen next.)

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 3:08 am 
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Location: Here and there.
A few moments after his appearance into the room, Hac’s eyes began to revolve. There were a few key objects such as the sign which caught his attention in a minor way, but there was one player who seemed to stand out to him most of all. Having almost a lapse of memory, Hacorie stared at him for only a moment as not to seem rude in staring. It was Raven. Even though they had only met briefly in the past, Hac knew the character. How? The same way he knew Phoenix; Raven was also in Fatal Exception. How strange this all turns out to be. Maybe the Elites are interested in my clan…nah…must be coincidence. Hacorie thought as he shifted his gaze as the room began to change in a minute way. Before he knew it, a small doorway opened up leading into a narrow hallway, which was barely large enough for one person, width wise.

Filing in line, Hac almost made another ‘Team Moron’ moment by joking about how someone had cut him in line. Ah, the childish fun he had caused in the real world by using such a ploy in his younger days. Teachers would always be wary about the order of their lines, and would pinpoint any type of informal movement. The hilarious thing about single file lines was they were enforced throughout childhood for no reason. These lines held no grounds in the real world; if someone cut you off on the interstate, you either deal with it, honk your horn, or give’em a little nudge off the road. Of course, in retrospect, the first would come to the best outcome. After the momentary blast to the past, the group finally arrived in another section of the field.

This ‘room’ was quite different from the one they arrived in however. It was almost as if the hallway had led them to the outside, to a great and beautiful garden. So Marionette likes gardens? Weird… Hac thought as his eyes quickly scanned the garden. If the group was not careful, they could easily be caught off guard. Of course, after realizing one figure rested on a bench in the room, its presence seemed vaguely familiar to Hac. The description he had heard through the grapevines of the group led the Heavy Blade to believe this was Guardian. What gave it away was the mask really. Who else would wear such a weird ass thing on their face?

As thought, the Guardian creature started talking; predictable, Nighthand was the first to try and get some answers out of it. However, his conversation seemed to be leading nowhere. Guardian seemed to only talk in circles, and give no concise answers. Everything seemed to be on a broad spectrum, but to its defense, it was just another pawn of Marionette; it was the same as Devil and Angel. Most likely, it would also have to be defeated sometime in the future. The only question was, when?

Turning to his left, Hacorie pinpointed his friend who had arrived. A gleeful smile seemed to be present as he finally spoke.

"Senna...I was worried something had happened after the last hub...you sort of disappeared, and never answered my flashmail...I almost thought Team Moron would be disbanded." Hac’s eyes quickly drifted to the floor, and his smile disappeared. He was glad Senna was back, but she had not even told anyone of where she was going. She and Hac had been friends and allies since the days before the Freedom Fighters, and Senna was one of the only characters he could currently call a ‘friend’. If she were to leave the group entirely, Hac would feel ostracized; he had already made the ‘naughty list’ of some of the group due to his actions in the past.

"Yeah, I'm sorry about that. But it'll take more than a little side trip to break up the team eh?" Hearing the response and gesture offered by his kind acquaintance, Hac’s smile returned. Feeling a sense of joy, he returned the peace symbol back to her. However, the sign and meaning of the ‘V’ was quite ironic for the group. They wished and hoped for peace, but always had to fight. It was such a paradox, but then again…it showed the group had heart; it showed they were human.

"Heh, yeah...So it seems we will finally be able to meet the one behind all this...you ready?" Hac questioned. He was already bracing for a veiled answer, but instead a blunt one came at him like a rocket. Senna’s expression changed so hastily, and her demeanor sort of had a demonic glow. Finally, a stern reply from the Long Arm was said.

“No.”

"Not quite the answer I was expecting…” Feeling a sense of confusion and utter surprise, Hac felt speechless momentarily. He had no way to reply to Senna. Finally, he blurted out a cliché statement to try and delve into the Long Arm’s psyche, “what’s wrong?”

"It's been watching. And now, it had eyes on the inside of the group. It wanted us funneled somewhere specific. It has every advantage, and all we get is a thing that might as soon lie to us as not. How can any of us be ready, eh?" A small pain began within the Heavy Blade’s stomach as he listened to the serious Senna begin to emerge. It was not often that Senna became completely rough in speech; to cause this, something had to really yank her chain. It was as if Hac had hit the sore spot in conversation, but it had to be asked. Her retort was not without truth though. Everything the Long Arm said was complete and utter realization to the situation the group was in. However, saying such words allowed could lower the morale of anyone. Usually, such words were kept in secret, but Senna had let them out. With his smile creeping wider, Hac spoke once again to the Long Arm warrior.

"Touche. However, one can only hope to be prepared in these times. While your technical response is the most sensible in nature, my naive response at least leaves room for hope; that is something we need right now." Once again, the truth was spoken. The group could not succumb to such statements as Senna’s. They had to believe naively a win was possible for any situation, and this way of thinking would allow everyone to fight with all their heart. Even if the fight seemed hopeless, the group had to act as if they could take any challenge. It was basic psychology.

A brief pause came in the conversation, as Senna began thinking and comprehending the reply she was given. Maybe, as her “no”, Hac’s statement was unexpected. However, after the brief lapse, she started up with a change of subject.

“"I suppose that's true. So, what do you make of that?" Senna spoke while making a small nod toward the Guardian.

"Hmm...Quite the extraordinary predicament we are in. We could shoot off some questions and try to get some answers. If you noticed though, it acts to preserve its own being as well as Marionette's. So fighting may be a good option to eliminate the future threat." Of course, by this time, there was already a bit of conversing between the Guardian and a few other members of the party, but through his small amount of notice, Hac did not hear his question appear.

"Heh. Asking it questions is the last thing I want to do,” “But if you want to, maybe you'll get something out of the answers."

"If not...we could always...pull another stunt if you know what I mean," Hac cracked another smile. Senna knew exactly what he meant. She even gave a small laugh at the entire sentence before she responded again.

"Depending on how long Marionette would have us wait, perhaps it'll come to that either way, neh?" Concurring with her analysis, Hac turned back to face the beast. It was his turn for interrogation. Hopefully, the Guardian would not make his temper flare. If it did, Team Moron may once again have to work together in complete synchronization.

"Well it's crunch time...time for my question...wish me luck." He said with a sigh, as he began to walk forward to announce his presence to the creature.

"Of course! Good luck. “ Senna called from behind; Hac had only one thing to say in return.

"Thanks..."

“So, guardian…answer me this if you will. Your master had already proven his mental prowess, and we were travelling in the direction he had paved for us. Why did Marionette use Zan as a type of funnel to lead us to guide us to this location; so why would he choose to make a rift in our group by more or less using tactics best described as extortion?” A minute amount of anger began to rise in Hac’s voice as he uttered his question. He had been one of the ones to figure out the deal, but when seeing Zan’s Flashmail explanation, the items did not add up.

"Extra assurance. Testing the coherency of your group. Seeing how well you band together, even with a traitor in your midst."

"Assurance? So he became scared? We knew we had to play his games in order to advance to our goal. He could have surmised that based on our needs that we would finally arrive here. So why would he need assurance?" Hac was quickly becoming aggravated by the Guardian. The answer given was a natural thought, but Hac was hoping the Guardian would delve deeper into the meaning.

"He wished to make it more than simply possible that you would come to him. He has a use for you." The replies of the Guardian itself seemed to raise a flag in Hac’s mind, but instead of trying to expose his hypothesis just yet, he would continue his questioning.

"Did he not think that supplying a traitor in the ranks would divide some of the group though? If he has a use for us, then why would he use such a ploy? Before you answer, is it because if all of us were united, he would have a higher probability of being beaten if something were to initiate a battle between him and us?" This was one of Hac’s better questions. If Marionette really needed to use the group, then a united front would give much more of an effect than one split down the middle. Of course, the puppet master could be frightened of the group’s power, and he knew that he had to cut some of it out…like cancer.

"No. He has no fear of defeat. He tested your coherence because, should you turn amongst yourselves, you would be no use to him."

Smart ass…

"All right, one last thing. Do you base your answers off your own thoughts on the matters, or what your master would decree?"

"That depends entirely on the question."

"All right..that's all I need to know then...thanks."

Turning around, a smile came upon Hac’s face. Slowly he walked over toward the leader of the group.

“I will ask your opinion this time before acting this time; our questions to this thing seem to be leading us nowhere. Should we attack…or should we wait to meet with the master. I seem to believe either way we will have to fight Guardian, but I do not know if it would be wise to fight him now or later. What do you think? Hac asked. He did not want to actually create a scene like last time, and Nighthand seemed to be one of the most sensible of the group. His input meant a lot to Hac. Only time would tell. Either a battle would soon ensue, or if the group would progress unscathed.

_________________
Hacorie
Level 36 Heavy Blade
Gold: 21237

Equips
Oceanic Aura/Sharktooth-Ice Helm-Winter Coat-
Shiva's Rings-Bondage Pants
---Water Magic, BL Yokohama

Wishlist:
Level Meh Up
Weapons: Sakabatou/Rock n Roll/Peace Blade
Body: Knight's Armor
Other: Earthlore/Feng Shui
--------Water/Earth Scrolls


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:35 pm 
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“I will ask your opinion this time before acting this time; our questions to this thing seem to be leading us nowhere. Should we attack…or should we wait to meet with the master. I seem to believe either way we will have to fight Guardian, but I do not know if it would be wise to fight him now or later. What do you think?”

Hacorie’s question drew the heavyblade’s attention away from the Guardian, whom he had been studying intently since they arrived. He listened in on each of the conversations that took place, gleaning every bit of information that he could.

”I don’t think we should attack him.” He paused, wondering if there would be any objections to his statement. ”I know if we let him live, he’ll be by his master’s side if and when we fight Marionette himself. But… I don’t know if we’ll even have to fight. Marionette has just been testing us, and he hasn’t sent a battle our way here yet.”

Something worried him more than that, though. The power that Guardian so casually displayed to snuff out Canti and Dien’s powers, and to somehow move them was frightening. There was no delay, no graphical effect, nothing to dodge; just a power.

”I don’t know if we could beat him. Not right now anyways.”

”Then the decision is made.” Guardian stood and a door appeared behind him, much like the original door had appeared. His cane in his hand, Guardian walked down the hall that appeared, pausing only to sent one final line back.

”The Master will see you now.”

Nighthand was unnervingly quiet as he walked down the echoing hallway leading away from the garden. Scenery seemed so incidental in this place. It was like Guardian was tasked with giving them a place to be comfortable, and chose randomly. The stone corridor was perfectly square, perfectly straight, and perfectly drab. It served one purpose and one purpose only; allowing travel from point A to point B.

Soon enough, however, they reached the end of their travel. The hallway abruptly ended in a slope downwards into a stone amphitheater. Stone walls rose high enough to prevent viewing of any outside scenery, but the sky overhead was bright and clear. The amphitheater was rough-carved from a dull gray stone, but lined with exquisitely crafted and comfortable-looking assortments of seats; from pillows to benches to recliners. The only occupant aside from themselves and Guardian stood in the middle of the stone ‘stage’ at the bottom of the amphitheater.

He was dressed in what seemed to be a white tuxedo, or similar long dressy suit. Around the wrists, ankles, and waistline were a series of blue triangles. He wore white gloves with a yellow flower emblem on their backs, with a similar emblem on his breast pocket. His shoes were curved up in points. His collar held on either side of his throat, halves of a blue butterfly

His head was covered in a large mask-like fixture. His chin jutted out in a long pointed curve much like the toes of his shoes. The top of the ‘helmet’ that he wore was painted with a blue carnation, and three spikes jutted from its edges. One to either side and one behind it. They hung like jester’s motley, blue carnations dangling from each. One extra blue carnation hung from what appeared to be a coattail, dangling from his waist.

His face was unnervingly still. His right eye was covered by the helmet, and his left eye was ornamented with triangles and color. His mouth was painted on in a perpetual smile that showed blocky white teeth.

He held no weapon; instead, in one hand, he held a single yellow daffodil.

--------------------ooc: Feel free to ask him anything. You can even attack if you so choose. How this encounter plays out is up to you.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:42 pm 
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He surveyed the group as they came in, one by one, and he knew them all. He knew their minds and their bodies, their powers and their habits. He knew all the buttons he could push on any of them, to get them to do anything he wanted.

Guardian, his faithful partner, returned to his side and began to idle, his cycles devoted to analyzing the group and determining any threat before it came. It freed up a lot of thought processes to be used in the encounter at hand. Valuable resources.

”I wilL speaK nO longeR iN riddleS, buT yoU musT forgivE mY dictioN. youR languagE iS noT mY owN.”

His voice was not one voice, nor did it come from him. It was a hundred, a thousand different voices, modulated and altered, echoed and played with delay and even backwards.

”yoU havE manY questionS, I aM surE. asK.”

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whaT happenS wheN thE puppeT pullS thE stringS?


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 1:22 am 
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Finally, it’s time.

The time was finally here for the Freedom Fighters to meet the mysterious Marionette. The one who knows the many secrets of the Freedom Fighters. The one who had them to go through a series of trials involving a deadly foe of his creation. The stage was set which was very literal in this case. The person of interest was in the middle of the stage and definitely dressed for the stage. Marionette was more of a jester than puppetmaster but his appearance would not allow Phoenix to drop his guard.

Marionette’s voice was definitely strange to even one who has been trapped in the World for just a while now. It was not just one voice but of many. From what Marionette said about our language being not his own, Phoenix doubt he was human. The blademaster kept wondering who Marionette served while being Keeper of the Hubs. He now suspects that Marionette is probably an AI created by the Elites to administer the duties of the protected Flashmail system used by the Elites.

Since Marionette did allow the Freedom Fighters to ask questions, Phoenix did not want to waste the opportunity. He took a few steps towards the stone amphitheater before asking his questions to Marionette.

“So we finally meet face to face. I do have many questions for you. Let’s start off with these. How do you know the things you do? Do you possess the ability to spy everywhere in the World? If you possess this ability, then why you haven’t told the Elites about everything about us? One more thing, are you really human because I think you never been a human ever?”

Phoenix looked very closely at Marionette’s mask with great interest on his answers he will give to him.

_________________
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
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 3:18 pm 
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Of course it was the one named Phoenix who was the first to speak. His questions were as expected; simple, quickly delivered, and to the point. He wanted to know the capabilities of the puppetmaster. Would his answers be sufficient?

"I knoW whaT I dO througH observatioN anD extrapolatioN. morE I cannoT saY. yoU stilL harboR ilL wilL towardS mE, sO iT woulD noT bE prudenT tO telL yoU alL oF mY secretS. aS tO mY specieS, I aM A maN jusT aS yoU arE. oR, oncE I waS. jusT aS yoU, lockeD iN thiS worlD, developeD neW abilitieS, sO toO diD I. I merelY augmenteD minE witH outsidE forceS, anD useD thE forceS oF thosE abovE tO furtheR boosT mY capabilitieS."

Which, of course, brought him to the one unanswered question. Why, in fact, had he not reported the multiple incursions into the Hubs, his sole area of custodianship, to Those Above, the ones this group called the Elites? Therein lay the foundations for all of this adventure; their goals were not really all that different. The puppetmaster, his jester figure in front of them, desired to be free of the control and influence of the Elites. Yet, escape was near impossible for one even so high up in the ranks as himself. He needed more than to simply betray them. He needed to cripple them, and distract them, while he made good his escape.

"anD thuS yoU comE upoN thE reasoN I calleD yoU herE, thE reasoN I testeD alL oF yoU thE waY I diD, anD thE reasoN I havE noT reporteD yoU tO thosE abovE. yoU arE tO helP mE, iN A commoN goaL wE sharE. yoU wisH tO defeaT thosE abovE. I wisH tO nO longeR worK beneatH theM. wE arE, foR thE momenT, allieS. I testeD yoU sO thaT I mighT knoW youR strengthS, tO besT usE yoU. sO iT iS thaT I givE yoU informatioN, shielD yoU froM spyinG eyeS, anD helP yoU oN youR waY. yoU havE proveN yourselveS stronG enougH foR thiS tasK."

He had no doubt that they would do exactly as he wished. Whether they attempted to fight him first or not was of no concern to him; his Guardian and his own powers could easily handle anything they threw at him. It would be easy to convince them to go where he needed them to go anyways; where else would they be able to find their lost leader and companion? What could they do but rescue Nall?

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whaT happenS wheN thE puppeT pullS thE stringS?


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 7:10 pm 
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Asgard was impressed with the quick response time of the white bearing jester. He was calmly looking from the two entities in the middle of the theater, and back to the way they came. Even though he was almost believing that Marionette's claims could be true, this whole situation seemed like a trap. The negativity in his mind stemmed from entering, not being able to weigh the options of not exercising essential energy for a potential conflict, or trying to take down the character known as Guardian. Even though he did not know the difference between Canti's and his own power, indecision stopped him from helping out. Now was the time to learn the extent of the hackers' newest lapdog.

Terro was out of sight, hiding its displeasure. Almost as if he could feel something, or possibly even know something, that he didn't.

"Greetings, fellow. I wish to ask a few questions." He paused for a second to quickly re-evaluate his line of questioning.

"I am now in understanding of your reasons to test us, but what do you believe that all of this hardship has accomplished?"

"Secondly, I believe that, as per the answer given to Phoenix, that you are very knowledgeable to the goings on in 'The World'. I would like to ask if you know who I am."

"And finally, if you are at liberty to say, what is to be your next move, and what is to be the Hacker Elite's next move?"

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This is my non-banner profile. Read at own discretion!
Wishlist (Bolded sections denotate priority, in descending order)
In General: LEVELS
Pet-Related: EX-Levels, [Lv. 2]Overdrive Sphere, [Lv. 2]Ressurect
Armor: Dice Gloves (20 RARE), Golden Turban (42), Saint Cross (41), Protect Ring (41)
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 7:50 pm 
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Ah yes. The man of many classes, the man who began as a heavy blade and turned into a special class that had since vanished from The World. The data existed in places, but was fractured, inaccessible, corrupted. Dualist was no more, yet this man still stood before him. The transformation into a Fist Fighter had served him well so far, in that, at least, he still survived.

"thiS hardshiP, aS yoU puT iT, alloweD mE tO furtheR gaugE thE focuS, abilitieS, anD coherancY oF youR grouP. yoU havE proveN worthY oF mY attentionS."

The fist fighter was bristling, and it was clear that he still perceived the threat inherent in the situation. Yet... he questioned the knowledge the puppetmaster possessed. Who he was? What a simple question.

"yoU arE thE fisT fighteR knowN aS asgarD. yoU werE A dualisT oncE upoN A timE, anD prioR tO thaT, yoU werE A heavY bladE. anD yeT thaT iS noT youR origiN. yoU werE alsO oncE thE admiN thoR. A knowledgE commoN tO mosT oF youR grouP, amonG otherS."

And so it went. As if such a bit of knowledge were difficult to obtain. The next question was... somewhat more valid, at the least.

"mY nexT movE wilL bE tO leavE. oncE I havE assureD myselF thaT yoU arE welL oN youR waY, I wilL burY myselF iN shadowS. aS foR thosE abovE, theiR motionS arE hiddeN froM eveN mE. I cannoT looK intO theiR soulS. howeveR, theY havE A wonderfuL prizE waitinG foR theM iN A dungeoN, A maN whoM theY greatlY desirE tO havE iN theiR handS. oncE thE messengeR arriveS iN theiR strongholD, I imaginE theY wilL rusH tO thE scenE tO claiM theiR prizE."

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:11 am 
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Location: The "Who's Online List," Stalking People...
There is something that I think everyone should know about Dien before reading the events that follow. He is very much a dog person. Most of his friends have dogs, and he gets along very well with them. It’s the kind of gift that renders guard dogs entirely useless, as he would be able to completely tame them with a friendly look and head-scratch. Cats were entirely different animals.

So needless to say, when the kitten jumped into his lap as he sat on the bench, he was very surprised. Thoughts of protest briefly crossed his mind, but at this point, he could use the affection. With a sigh, he let his hand come to rest on the animal’s back, stroking sedately and thinking on the situation at hand. He was weak. His power was useless, and the Guardian that had been provided was no help to either situation. Still, odd as it was, the tiny creature now curled up on his lap managed to provide some form of comfort, and set his mind at ease. Probably just an illusion anyway, but nonetheless, he continued with the backrub.

“You know,” he began, speaking quietly enough that only she could hear, and somehow having missed the fact that she'd clearly demonstrated her understanding of English, “be glad you’re not human like the rest of us. There is just so much crap that follows us around, that nips at our heels like a chihuahua on crack and eats away at our insides like a poison.” The cat merely purred.

“Take me and Amy, for example. In the tower with Suraisu, I thought that I’d completely left her forever: forsaking what relationship I’d though I had in exchange for closure. Come to find out? She felt for me in the same way I did for her, only for whatever reason she couldn't bring herself to tell me. How do I know this if I’m trapped in here? She's stuck, too. Told me herself after I nearly died. How can I handle that?

“What do I say to the girl of my dreams after she tore my heart out, stomped it into the ground, spat on it, and then picked it up and nursed it back to health under a different mask?” He paused, looking down to the animal for some semblance of reply, but not letting her get a word in at all before sighing again and continuing as the cat adjusted herself.

“Now she’s fighting to protect me,” he paused, hand and all, staring blankly at a tree across the path, “both her and Cobalt...” The cat rolled over in his lap, exposing a belly and seeming to signal that with the back sufficiently rubbed, it was the belly’s turn, which pulled him back to the reality of petting her.

“They’re risking life and limb to protect me—they risked everything they had to bring me to the hideout on the Expanse, and what did I do for them? God, I feel so helpless!” His hand had stopped a sentence and a half ago, but nonetheless he continued to speak, “I’m sure you know what it is to feel helpless. You being so small and insignificant; you’re probably ignored most of the time. You proba-” It was then that he was cut off, though, and from the least likely of sources: the kitten on his lap.

“Hey watch it. I’ll have you know I’m very popular with the Mac Anu lowbies.”

“…what?” His eyes fixed on the animal, bewilderment crossing his face. Had she just…talked? She seemed to be taking it all in stride, acting as a cat would and cleaning the back of her ear. That is, until,

“What ‘what?’ Don't tell me my English is that bad…”

“…you’re a…cat…" he said, trying to wrap his mind around the animal’s commented nature, “…but you know English…wait, you were listening the whole time?!” She merely nodded slowly, as though it was common sense.

“Yeeaaah… These adorable ears aren’t just for show you know. By the way, would it kill you to scratch behind my ear occasionally?” The realization hit him like an 18-wheeler. He’d just told this kitten the very thing that had been bothering him throughout this expedition, and she’d done absolutely nothing to alert him to her fluency in English. Somehow, he felt very strongly wronged.
“I…” he began, then remembering the thing’s absurd request, “no, I will not scratch behind your ear! You…you should have spoken up when I started talking!” She merely continued licking her paw.

“Why would I do that? You were doing great on the backrub.” She blinks. “Which, by the way, shouldn’t have stopped.” Dien’s answer was simple.

“Off,” he said simply, refusing to play the animal’s games any further, “now.”

Her ears pinned back, as she retorted. “Tch. Don’t order me around.” Taking a lot longer than she needed to get off his lap, the blademaster had half a mind to push her along until she curled into a ball at his side. “Some people are so unappreciative…”

“Well I’m a dog-person, so there.” Banter with a cat would quickly lose its novelty.

Troublesome as the encounter had been, soon the Guardian dictated that it was time to move, and so he rose to follow with the rest of the group, not bothering to check if the feline would follow in suit.
__________

Nall, Dien thought, having listened to Marionette’s answers to Phoenix and Asgard’s questions, the Elites want Nall!

“Where is Nall?” He finally asked, “and I want nothing vague. Give me server, keyword, level of the field, and floor of the dungeon. Oh, and while you’re at it, any knowledge you have of the dungeon’s layout, puzzles, and foes, would be most appreciated.” Nall had started their group. Nall had been the one to save him from Suraisu. It had been Nall who’d brought them all in, and it was Nall who was to lead the charge against tyranny. The eagerness with which he asked wasn’t born of these thoughts, though, it was born of something else—the fact that no one else seemed to really care that he had gone missing, despite the puppeteer’s obvious allusions to the desperation of his situation.

Besides the fact that he’d blatantly said that the Elites were going to be there.

Still, other thoughts pressed on his mind – answers that Marionette would very likely know the answer to. If Guardian had been able to tell of how he’d been thrown into the Freedom Fighters’ care by Amy, then it was likely that his master still had eyes in the field. Dien didn’t much care about whether this man was friend or foe anymore: he was a source of information, and at the next question, he would be the resting point for the blademaster’s hopes and fears.

“And my friends,” he said, forcing himself to slow down and think before continuing, “what happened after I left?!” Nothing else bore as much weight in his mind.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 5:42 pm 
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Ah, and so the fiery blademaster caught on to his not-so-subtle hints. Nall, yes Nall, the ever present lead force of this gang of rebels, always seeming to get himself in more trouble than he was able to get out of. This time was no different, save, perhaps, he hadn't actively been seeking the trouble he found. In any case, once more he found himself in need of rescue, of salvation, by the hand of the very weapon he had helped to forge.

"nalL waS captureD bY thE denizenS oF A particulaR fielD." He waved his flower, and a trio of floating images appeared, one to either side and one above him, large enough for all to see. They were all gray, until the top one flipped to a small looping movie. The film was of Nall entering a field coated in lava, the ground cracked and releasing heat in waves. It showed him fighting his way through creatures made of fire.

The second film the one to Marionette's left, showed flickered to life as the top one looped. It showed Nall encountering a strange new enemy, something none of them had ever seen before. It was humanoid, but clearly not human, as its body morphed and changed at will. A second one appeared, somehow different from the first; while the first was more akin to liquid, the second was like a rapidly mutating beast of flesh. Nall's slashes were ineffective, and he clearly tried his signature move, his Time Slash. The surprise on his face was evident when it struck the fleshy beast and did nothing, and the surprise was even more potent when the second creature formed a blade from it's arm and repeated the move on its original user.

As that video began to loop, the final one began to play, showing little more than Nall in a small, dirty jail cell, struggling to get out but unable to. He was stripped of his weapon, but his armor was still intact, and a dull gleam revealed his pendant still in place; Twilight's Tear was not so easily taken from him. He strained against a solid metal door, but it refused to move.

Another wave of his flower, and the videos all disappeared. "sO iT iS righT noW. thE leadeR oF thE hackerS iN placE oN thaT fielD haS departeD foR yamiyO, tO inforM thosE abovE oF theiR capturE. thiS wilL takE somE timE, aS aN audiencE witH thosE abovE iS noT easY tO comE bY. thE windoW iN whicH yoU havE tO rescuE hiM iS closinG, buT slowlY."

He paused, then brought up another screen, layered with data.

"thiS iS thE fielD. lambdA: gateD foldinG starE. leveL 75. firE elemenT. thE fielD itselF iS madE iN thE imagE oF thE gamE defaulT lavA fielD levelS, buT increaseD tO deaL damagE aT A constanT ratE. therE arE nO portalS, buT thosE firE monsterS roaM freelY. theY comE iN fouR poweR levelS: leveL 20, 40, 60, anD 80."

He paused again, knowing what he had left to say would be unsatisfactory to the group. But, it was all he could say. This field was one of the few he could not view clearly; so experimental it was, so laced with strange new things, that he could not delve deep into it; not deep enough to predict it's changes.

"thE dungeoN haS multiplE levelS. thE toP layeR iS A caverN typE. thE middlE layeR iS A castlE typE, anD iS thE homE oF thE hackerS thaT remaiN. thE bottoM layeR iS A jaiL typE, wherE theY storE experimentS, faileD anD otherwisE, aS welL aS prisonerS anD tesT subjectS. thE exacT numbeR oF floorS oR layouT changeS iN wayS I cannoT predicT." That was all he could tell them.

So that brought him to Dien's more personal question. It was a simple matter to watch the goings-on of the relations of any of this group, with none being secret to him. So he opted for a simple explanation rather than a long one.

"aS foR youR friendS. thE onE knowN aS amY iS injureD anD iN recoverY, whilE thE onE knowN aS cobalT watcheS. theiR adversarY, facinG defeaT, fleD."

Now it remained for them to make a decision. Do they stay and try to extract more information from his thus-far-willing memory, or do they rush off to rescue their friend and leader? To him it seemed a forgone conclusion.

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whaT happenS wheN thE puppeT pullS thE stringS?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 7:15 pm 
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Why?

The word, simple, one syllable, still cracks before the speaker gets it completely out. The speaker, a Long Arm, grips the back of a nearby seat and leans forward, her arm a taut anchor, as though only her grip keeps her in place at the moment. The knuckles of the other hand are white around the spear.

Since finishing speaking with Hac and Canti on the previous field, she’s been silent, watching, waiting, occasionally tapping her fingers against the shaft of her spear. She was a picture not of unease, but of discontent at that time. Even walking the final hallway to this center, a place whose image evokes an uncomfortable parallel in her mind, she was watchful. But now, here, it is as though someone has ratcheted the levels of her energy, her tenseness, as high as they’ll go and it’s become visible in her very bearing.

There are many questions she could be referring to, but only one she really wants the answer to. A fishing expedition for information on a couple levels. Not only what is the answer, but how well does this creature truly know those it faces? How well can it gauge what’s at the forefront of one member’s mind, faced with what it’s told them?

It’s funny how anger can overcome fear, and now, perhaps suspicion overcomes anger? Whatever, it’s rarely good to simply replace one evil with another – though she’s not sure an answer will do anything to lessen ANY of it.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 8:33 pm 
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Location: In da' plains of hell, natch.
(The music continued on, as it was still on stereo while Canti wished it so. This gave the Twin Blade a chance to relax. There was no fighting going on, and he felt more at ease right now than he had been in his entire time stuck in The World. Watching the others made him wonder for a second. Asgard and Raven... No, he didn't know them. At least, he didn't think he knew them. Perhaps he'd seen them in passing and just forgot, because that was the sort odd Deja Vu going through his head right now. Though, one thing that got him laughing was Kit on Dien's lap. Poor Dien. He didn't even know that Lighteria's cat could talk. After all, it was a pure coincidence that they'd met before, but Kit seemed perfectly normal to The World to Canti. That Dien seemed confused was a laugh riot. And the Blademaster actually rejected the cat! How could he even do that? Personally, Canti had a weakness for small furry animals. It came naturally. But enough about that. The Twin Blade's attention was suddenly diverted by Guardian, who said that Marionette was ready for them. Wait...)

Canti: The decision...? Hah! Of course...

(He'd said "The decision has been made." because his master wanted them all to choose specifically not to fight. Guardian had gone the limit, though. He even resorted to being a total bastard to see if they'd try. In that case, Canti laughed to himself. He'd passed the test. For while he did raise a finger and his temper went up for sure, hand and Dien both never actually initiated combat. Good call. So now...there was a door, and they were heading through it. Canti followed, and...hmm. Okay, he realized that the music was still playing, about halfway through the hallway. So, he flicked out his hands to the button to make it stop and disengaged the playlist for now. As he did, they came into a theater with seats. Not like a movie theater, but - and rather predictable - a stage-type theater, a place for drama and comedy. Yes, that's how this whole setup went. They say there's broken light for everyone on Broadway. They say that life's a game, and then take the board away. They give you masks and costumes and an outline of the story, then leave you all to improvise their Vicious Cabaret. And their host? Eh heh heh heh heh... A joker if he ever saw one. Canti wouldn't have been too surprised if his voice matched Mark Hamil. Heh... In fact, wasn't there just something fucking familiar about this guy? Eh, maybe it was just Deja Vu again. In any case, whatever persona this guy took, at least they were finally speaking to the REAL him, and not some stone-faced proxy. THOSE were starting to get on the Twin Blade's nerves. The way Marionette actually spoke was freaky. It reminded him of that god-awful text in all of his PMs from the guy. God, what a freaky mess. At least he stopped being a riddle-some asshole while talking to the others. Canti learned things just by listening in. It made it easier, so he wouldn't have to ask similar questions.)

Canti: So...he HAS been putting us in the position to deal with the Elites for his own purposes, which is to no longer follow them. Moreover, one of their guys has Nall and he's shown us the way to, once again, do what he wants. Even though I prefer Nall over Nighthand and stuff, I really wish he'd just cut the crap here. So many god-damn secrets... Let's see if he's willing to share a few of 'em...

(Right. So...after the puppetmaster was done speaking with Dien and Senna, Canti decided to take his turn. Senna caught him a bit off-guard with the one singular question... Anyway, the Twin Blade had his weapons holstered and his arms clearly emitting nothing. So, if Guardian was looking to screw him up again, he wasn't going to find a good enough reason to. He decided to start out pleasant enough.)

Canti: Okay, I've got a few questions in mind. Some have been stewing a while. Others are just off the top of my head. For instance, what class are you, anyway? Not an important one, but ya have to wonder. Also...

(And now, he turned a little more serious.)

Canti: Tell me a bit about your puppets, the ones we killed and the one watching us even now. Why people, man? You're a coder. It's obvious. You could've used artificial instead of living people, so why do that? I think it's pretty clear that they were pathetic people, including Guardian. Still, for some reason, I just don't approve...

(His mood appeared to get darker as he continued, though he was far from exhibiting anything that resembled a violent action. He recognized that Marionette was a person you could expect an answer from. A decent answer that didn't sound like it was the repeated lyrics of a badly-made robot. Speaking of answers, there was one that he hadn't gotten, for all the searching that he'd done on his own. It was still important to him to know that answer. Therefore, he asked it...)

Canti: Lastly...after talking with Nall before...and searching around, I still have no idea what happened exactly to him, the one you referred to as 'The Blades'. Nevermind what you think of the guy or what he is to you. If you're answering questions, then I want to know the answer to this one. What exactly happened to Suraisu? Not just after the tower, but everything. What happened to him in the past to make him how he was? And what happened to him after he fought with Nall? Dead? Escaped? Punished by the Elites? Roaming around in stealth? You've got eyes everywhere, so tell me.

(He wasn't just asking for himself, though, even though it DID seem like it was his burden to bear. He wanted to know because of Zhao and Dien as well. The ones who 'made it' through the tower, only to be backstabbed. Why had any of this happened to them? And what happened to the guy that almost did them in? Where's Mr. Baseball, for crying out loud?!)

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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: Wed Mar 12, 2008 10:38 pm 
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OOC: Done, with some questions immediately scripted by Nighthand. Don't think he's ignoring you! :(

Nall...

"Is the hacker messenger taking normal player means of travel to get to yamiyo?" Asgard cut into the conversation again, trying to devise a pre-emptive strike. If he could slay the messenger before he step foot on the Yamiyo Server, then they would have, theoretically, an infinite amount of time to devise a plan.

"nO. thE gatewaY tO yamiyO iS hiddeN anD moveS constantlY. hE musT contacT A gatekeepeR tO telL hiM wherE tO gO."

Shit. "Then, can you divine the location of the messenger and/or the gatekeeper?"

"thE gatekeepeR neveR leaveS yamiyO. thE messengeR haS entereD anD iS losT tO mY sighT."

That means that there could be hours at most. If they're told about Nall, they would race to the scene. "Great. Then if I were to leave right now, would you stop me...or are you going to give a final test..." Asgard straightened up and Terro was quick to his side, proud and ready to act. Their primal assumptions were going to be that this whole meeting was a trap.

"yoU maY gO aS yoU pleasE. bE warneD, howeveR. oncE yoU leavE yoU wilL bE unablE tO enteR thiS fielD agaiN, noR wilL yoU bE ablE tO contacT mE." Asgard blinked in surprise. He had thought that there would be at least one more test of competence before...whatever was going to happen...would happen. He cleared his throat, seeming a little sorry for jumping to conclusions.

"Alright, then one more before I leave. Even with Nall captured, as powerful as he is, I don't see all of the elites coming to retrieve a captured, disabled, unarmed, prisoner. I know he has some artifacts of twilight, but who would you predict they would send for retrieval?" Asgard motioned to Terro, pointing straight in the direction of the Chaos Gate. Terro, knowing that it didn't need to read the Fist Fighter's mind to ask what he wanted, rushed forward to the exit.

"anY maY comE iF theY wisH tO gloaT, buT roycE iS almosT assureD."

And that's not good at all. Asgard bowed, "I thank you for your wisdom, Marionette." With that, Asgard sat down on one of the amphitheater benches, waiting for the rest of the team to be ready to move. Even though he wanted to race to the field where Nall stood a caged man, he knew that if he went there alone, even with Terro, he would most likely be killed. The 20's and the 40's he could take, the 60's he could probably take, but the 80's and the doppleganger monster shown in the video showed him how much a solo mission in there was nothing more than a fool's errand. But at least he could send his scout to see on where everything stood.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 11:25 pm 
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To Senna, Marionette remains an impassable wall. She wanted to know too much, and his answers would not satisfy her. Knowing this, the puppetmaster remained stonily silent to her question. Canti's, on the other hand, were much more answerable.

"I aM nO clasS, iN youR termS. iT haS beeN lonG sincE I havE faceD combaT anD I havE removeD thE primarY combaT formS. I aM bY nO meanS helplesS, buT I fighT noT witH youR gamE weaponS."

An interesting revelation... how DID he fight? It had been long since he was forced to. His Guardian as well was lacking in a class, but it didn't matter. They fought without skills or weapons.

"yoU arE perhapS righT iN thaT I prefeR codE tO peoplE. howeveR, codeD constructS lacK thoughT oF theiR owN, nO matteR hoW compleX theY becomE, witH thE exceptioN oF thosE infuseD witH thE viruS. thE viruS iS ficklE anD uncontrolleD, sO uselesS tO mY purposeS. peoplE arE predictablE, controllablE, anD havE thoughT oF theiR owN beyonD thaT whicH I caN prograM. I usE theM, wraP theM iN mY codE likE armoR. somE greateR thaN otherS. primaL rebelleD anD waS brokeN, burieD furtheR sO hE coulD noT betraY mE agaiN. deviL waS insanE, A casT ofF slavE oF thosE abovE, anD I srippeD hiS codE sO hE waS berefT oF thE bugS installeD oN hiM tO keeP watcH oN mE. angeL waS greeD iN digitaL forM, anD easY tO manipulatE witH thE minimuM oF compulsorY codE." He said nothing about Guardian, the one at his side, for to reveal the secrets of those still living was to reveal a potential weakness. He wished to have none. He knew Angel was still alive, knew of the deal struck between her and the archer that was not even present.

"thE presenT oF youR foE, suraisU, iS unknowN tO mE. hE iS withiN thE boundS oF yamiyO, anD haS beeN sincE thE toweR felL. thE pasT iS slightlY lesS obscurE. hE waS aN admiN mucH likE youR companioN asgarD, buT witH mucH lesS poweR. hE waS A hackeR-hunteR, buT waS captureD anD tortureD ouT oF hiS minD. iT appeareD verY unpleasanT tO havE hiS blooD exchangeD foR molteN metaL. theN, hiS outsidE lifE removeD froM hiM anD hiS positioN withiN thE administratioN losT, hE begaN worK foR thE onlY oneS whO stilL accepteD hiM; hiS stitcheR tortureR, mentoR, anD teacheR. hE acteD aS A recruiteR foR thE hackerS. thuS iT waS thaT yoU meT hiM." A rounded and vague history, but, a history nonetheless.

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