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File: Mono.jpg (321 KB, 1000x1257)
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It kind of hurts everywhere. You feel that sentence describes a lot about you right now. You're not quite certain whether it'll go away or not, but that's the best you can do for now. It kind of hurts everywhere...

But darn if it isn't fun on some level.

Welcome back, hunters, to Magical Girl For Hire Quest!

Archive: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Magical%20Girl%20For%20Hire%20Quest
General Pastebin: http://pastebin.com/u/MGFHQHandler
Character Details: http://pastebin.com/9J70gqM2 - UPDATED
Miranda's Techniques: http://pastebin.com/eTu7U2PZ
Mono's Techniques: https://pastebin.com/eHa6sP5S
FAQ: http://pastebin.com/8unLWUjF
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MGFHandler

You are currently Mono, newly minted employee of The Intersection, a dimensional nowhere and everywhere where you rest, recuperate, live, and get details for your next job. And you finally got your first major gig- even if in a sort of sideways manner. Your boss (at least you're pretty sure she's your boss) Miranda had signed you up for a thing where you needed to chase down and scare an initiate of some weird group that you have a feeling was more a cult than anything.

Well...they DID say you could kill him, but... you're really not exactly keen on that for obvious reasons. You're trying your best not to think about it.

At any rate, he'd proved skilled enough to escape the first two labyrinthine floors (out of five), so who knows, maybe you won't need to do it at all? Either way, that's something to worry about later. For now, you need to rest up a bit. The last time you encountered him, he put up quite the fight (and plenty of running), and then proceeded to pretty much dismantle a giant beast that you know you would have been slaughtered by. The question of why you seems to fear you more than that thing is constantly at the forefront of your mind as you rest and try to ignore your wounds. They're light, but with your exhaustion, they're still debilitating. That's okay though...for now. You have to think about this stuff.

Really good that you still have that hourglass. And that it wasn't broken. You should be ready to go in a few minutes... Relatively speaking. You just need to figure out how you're going to go from here.

Although now you're wondering where he got that knife. He didn't seem to have anything of the sort when he came in... It was just an old machete. And those needles...perhaps there are in fact weapons to be found here? You've still got ten or so minutes before you have to chase him. Perhaps you can check around for something to help you as well... Although you don't know how long it will take. No one said you had to go and immediately after him, so you might end up giving him some extra time...

>Try to check for any spare items.
>No, you're fine with what you have for now.
>Other
>>
>>1954921
>Try to check for any spare items.
Lorelei would have taught Mono the importance of procuring additional equipment on-site.
>>
>>1954921
>Try to check for any spare items.
We should never pass up free stuff.
>>
>>1954921
>>Try to check for any spare items.
>>
If we end up taking power ups and health potions the Initiate was supposed to get, we should leave behind taunting notes.
>>
10 more minutes due to start of thread.
>>
>>1954921
>>Try to check for any spare items.
The hunter lays a trap for his prey.
>>
>>1954955
>>1954977
>>1954981
>>1955000


Locked. I do need some rolls now, however. 1d100, best of 3.
>>
Rolled 53 (1d100)

>>1955042
>>
Rolled 67 (1d100)

>>1955042
>>
Rolled 40 (1d100)

>>1955042
>>
Mmm. Eh. Lesse whatcha find. Writing!
>>
>>1955042
>>1955066
>>1955068
>>1955078
From what you can remember, the new area is somewhere that's more of a fortress, somewhere stone and hardy. It seems that there are a lot more pathways and dead ends here, like a labyrinth. It's almost mesmerizing in its own way, and you get the feeling that both the initiated and yourself may have a bit more time than you expected apart. So, as it happens, this really is probably the best time for you to pick around and see if maybe you can't liberate a few objects. After all, if he had found some weapons here, you should be allowed to do the same, right?

As you explore, you come to realize that their definition of 'floor' is rather loose, considering that there's at least an upper level and a lower level, along with the one you're on now. They're not that far apart however. The whole area seems very circular in a way- at least, you feel like you're going in circles that aren't quite the same.

You pass a number of rooms, most with locked doors- however one is open, and it seems to be some sort of bedroom. Inside, you can see a long chest. It's flanked by two creatures, both of which seem like bloated humans, but you walk past them easily without them doing a thing, and open the chest.

What's inside seems to be a strange, wavy curved blade, only slightly bigger than a normal dagger. It gleams with the shine of the unused, but apart from that it doesn't seem like it's particularly special. You figure you might as well pocket it anyway - after all, if you have it, then that means he can't get it so easily. It fits pretty nicely on your hip actually.

Some other hunting doesn't reveal much; the blades are more rusty than anything, and the staves you can't use. You do at least have something of an idea of the layout by now though; off to the left after you get out of the hallway is back towards one of the foyers, where you can perhaps look back towards finding the initiate; straight ahead leads to an theater-like area, with seats and a stage. It actually kind of makes you a bit nostalgic.

To the right seemed to be a barracks or living area that's surprisingly empty; a lot of rows of beds and places where you can see armor, but nothing much in the way of weapons or any other goods.

Time to begin your search.

>To the left, at the foyer.
>Straight ahead, to the theater.
>To the right, towards the living quarters.
>Other

Gotta go, will be back tonight!
>>
>>1955225
>Straight ahead, to the theater.

Let's find a costume. Lay a trap for him indeed.
>>
>>1955225
>Straight ahead, to the theater
>>
>>1955225
>>1955269
I'm game for this, though we should also see if we find the exit and the key as well. Knowing where he needs to go to get out of here will help with keeping track of him.
>>
>>1955584
Supporting.
>>
>>1955269
>>1955359
>>1955584
>>1956053

Back. Gotcha.

We forge straight ahead! Writing.
>>
>>1955225
>>1955269
>>1955359
>>1955584
>>1956053
>>1956209
Might as well head forward. Your heart kind of tugs a little bit as you approach the stage. It wasn't really that long ago that you were up there yourself, even if it wasn't necessarily the happiest of times... wonder how everyone else is doing. You find yourself letting out of raspy little laugh - you're pretty sure that everyone else would be pretty dang shocked to see what you're doing right now! But...yeah.

As you look around, you can see that there's even a little back area, though not nearly anything appropriate to a proper stage play. It really looks more like a place for people to gather and watch a very basic performance. Stage doesn't really look like it can hold more than three or four people... At best.

Well, enough of that. There's more than just idle tapestry here- and you're pretty sure that considering the suits of armor, you can find something of worth here. Sure enough, you search a little bit only to find two sets of clothes that seem to be things worth being called costumes. One of them is a powerful Maiden Warrior, something that's not quite feasible as armor, but it does a decent job apparently protecting the important bits. You do like the battle skirt...

The other thing is the long, shimmering gown that you can tell will fit over your entire body easily. Even with what you have on already. It's brilliant and rather noticeable, and you're kind of wondering if perhaps you'll be able to successfully fool him in it.

>The battle dress
>The shimmering dress.
>Other
>>
>>1956520
>The battle dress
>>
>>1956520
>>The shimmering dress
>>
>>1956520
>Other

Wear the stage curtains.

Look at us.

We are the stage now.

But seriously.

>The shimmering dress.

Combined with our song we should be able to make it REALLY freaky.

We should blind him with it and then stab him while he's blinded.
>>
>>1956520
>>The shimmering dress.
we'll probably get a debuff while fighting in it, but we are trying to fool him... bleh
>>
>>1956520
>>The shimmering dress.
>>
We're pretty. Writing!
>>
>>1956520
>>The shimmering dress.
guys... what if we try singing one of the things that tried to kill mono on her world?
Maybe not the real deal, but something along those lines
>>
>>1956670
Or singing up-tempo to speed up monsters. Or down-tempo to slow down the Initiate. Just a little bit at first, then more and more.

Direct confrontation? Nah let's use the other monsters to threaten him. Make him exhaust his resources carelessly.
>>
>>1956520
>>1956527
>>1956542
>>1956577
>>1956580
>>1956619
>>1956670

Well... It's not like you were ever against feeling pretty. And you do need this in order to disguise yourself, if this idea you have is going to work. So you go ahead and take the shimmering, fancy dress. Hopefully you'll be able to do it justice at least once...

Yeah, the stage really isn't big at all. Definitely more for short and small plays, or making some kind of one person or two person acts. It takes you only a few moments to get used to it - it's far from the first costume you put on and even in this line of work you can tell it won't be close to the last. Even over this getup- which you noticed honestly feels kind of weird taking off. Like you're peeling off parts of your skin. It was big enough though, and light enough that you decided to keep everything on - if for protection then nothing else.

With that settled, you make a couple of moves, a few prances just to make sure you've got the feeling down...

Now... to begin. This one may not be for anything in particular, but you do know how to make an attractive, haunting sound...

And yet as you do, you can feel the air shift...

>If there's any effect in particular you want to try, now's the time to suggest it. I won't ask for a roll just yet to allow discussion until I get back tomorrow, but there will be a roll asked after you decide.
>>
>>1956947
how about an audience shrouded in shadows that when seen from the corner of the eye morph into monsters with back up dancers on the stage
>>
>>1956947
Set a scene! Pretend to be a doll/animatronic acting out a scene with props set off to the side. Make it writing a letter on an empty desk then getting up, getting attacked, and falling down dead then repeating. Or something like that.

Start out just moving, while humming a song.

Then have props off to the side. A pen with no ink, and prop weapons that could be used in your "murder".

When he enters the room start singing and sing the door closed while playing out your scene.

Wait for him to pick one up then go full witch and attack him screaming "Murderer! It was you!" Or if it's a different scene, wait for a completion point to do so.

Maybe make him think he needs a specific weapon to kill us. Lol. Or at afraid of it at first then laugh and attack him anyways, try to grab the dagger while his hands are full with the prop weapon.

Just to let him know we're messing with him and confuse him about what our "rules" might be.
>>
>>1957029
I was thinking something similar, but
>Stage doesn't really look like it can hold more than three or four people... At best.

There's lots of fun tricks I want to try, but most of them aren't actually useful in defeating him.

hmm, maybe set ourselves up a multistage boss-fight?
To start, he comes in during a 'performance', disturbing it. The 'audience' isn't pleased, and mobs him. The entire crowd doesn't need to be intractable, it just should seems like it. We 'havn't noticed' the interruption, and keep performing, using that as a pretence to control the crowd. He fights his way through the crowd, wearing him down a little in the process. We can take the opportunity to observe any new equipment, powers, and tactics.
>>
>>1957054
>>1956947
Just saying, if he is skilled with weapons he can probably guess which one we were "killed" with by our actions. And if he thinks we're some creepy ghost, he might think it's a puzzle or a clue instead of just us and something he should run the fuck away from instead of trying to "solve".

I plan to make him the most paranoid cult member ever if he survives.
>>
>>1957060
Oooh! We can combine ideas. Think we could get him to play the "role" of our opposite defeating us if we leave out the maiden warrior armor and a prop weapon? Could we make him wear a dress?

Maybe have the "Audience" shy away from the equipment?
>>
>>1957060
Maybe have the armor and a selection of weapons so that he thinks choosing the wrong one is a trap instead of it all being a trap? Only having some of the "audience" attack when he gets too close?

We should also have a fake key prominent on the stage placed so it looks like he has to act with us to get to it.
>>
>>1957060
We could even have an illusory opponent who is barely an outline compared to the black shadow mob of audience members.

The problem is baiting him in to make him think he has to interact instead of just fucking off.
>>
>>1957067
If we want him to participate, he needs to think he needs to do so in order to progress. We could sing a fake key in with the rest of the props, for example.
>>
>>1957082
>>1957082
>>1957073

Yup I kind of spammed a bit but that was one idea.

Also acting afraid of the weapon he picks for a bit then laughing and attacking as he finds out the key was an illusion.

That combination of spooky build up, jump scare, and "what a fucking bitch she was messing with me" to really drive home the paranoia.
>>
We'll need to balance what we want to do, with the complexity of said action. And remember, if we stop singing, the whole illusion falls apart.

Regarding the bait; if we use a fake key, we need to see if we can see the real one on him before showing off our fake, and we should have a backup. Maybe we don't just close the doors, but illusion them to be serious doors, with prominent keyholes. Our fake level exit key then could pull double duty as a room unlocker in a pinch.

To keep him from jumping and grabbing it, we could have it 'teleport' when he tries to grab it.
>>
>>1957118
Point about the complexity. We could just have ourselves shadow-fight after he grabs the props and let the audience go at that point.

I don't think we have time to grab the actual key, so having it teleport and be for the illusory doors is a great idea.
>>
>>1957136
If we can organize things right, we can drop elements as we add new ones, preventing things from getting too complicated. It's one reason I suggested a multi-stage fight.

Cool, so we've got a way to keep him in here until we're done with him. Now, what do we want to do with him? Fight? Dance? Act? Little bit of everything?

And, importantly, do we want this to be the climax? A theater is pretty much our ideal setup, but there are officially 2 more levels. 'Set the Stage' doesn't take Mana, but it will wear us out if we're not careful.
>>
>>1956670

Do not do that for the love of God. The only thing worse would be creating a phantom on the intersection.
>>
I’m concerned that these antics will not be appreciated by our clients. They expect a certain level of gravitas, and Mono hasn’t really tried to kill the Initiate yet, which they expect her to do.
>>
>>1957880
eh, its not in the intersection, so whatever, as long as it doesn't tries to kill us
>>
>>1957892
He’s saying it will try to kill us, and it would only be more stupid to try it in the Intersection.
>>
>>1957881
Uh. Yes we have? There's more than one way to try to kill someone. This way is called a "trap". Remember the client telling us that they respected and tried to protect against mental attacks?

There's also the H2H fighting and driving him into the Chimera again. And messing with him when he was fighting lesser monsters.

Read the quest bro.
>>
>>1957908
>>1957892

The problem with the phantoms is their self awareness and desire to become permanent. The minute we sing one to life, it will go to the ends of the Earth to become real. Which usually means traumatising their creator enough that they think about them all the time.

AKA Mono gets herself a yandere semi-omnipotent reality warping stalker who needs to scar her for life to continue existing.
>>
>>1957909
None of which were concerted and serious attempts to kill him. We’ve been pulling our punches so far, and this trap is more an annoyance than something actually meant to kill him.
>>
>>1956947
Have an illusionary audience that will attack with thrown objects while Mono sings a shadowy Protagonist to fight the Initiate while she sings. Move the stage landscapes around to create environmental hazards. Make sure to make a real effort to kill him this time. We aren’t here for a performance, we’re here to kill this guy.
>>
Daily reminder to attack em too.
Like...
A sneaky approach this time?

Sneaky, in the sense of "if you want to hide something, hide it in plain sight."
... that said, we need to "sing" ourselves a bit more disguise too. Mostly to finish the look.
We still have those claws and stuff. Let's hide that shit.
>>
>>1957927
yeah because breaking him down mentally and attacking him and possibly killing him is an "annoyance".

Well big guy. What's your plan then? If you have something better I'm willing to support it.
>>
>>1957979
The plan us to lure him in and attack him indirectly with puppets to see what his abilities are then directly ourselves.

I recommended doing that multiple times in my post.

>>1957927
Sometimes it's a slow poison that kills people.

Also we're not sure if we do want to kill him.

It only matters that we try hard enough to impress the client.
>>
>>1957938
So pretty much the exact plan we were working on except you want to attack him indirectly?

We still have another level to go all out on.
>>
>>1957988
My plan takes out the unnecessary parts of miming actions and putting on an act.

The whole thing with acting like we’re afraid of one weapon is a pretty shitty idea, all told. If you’re going to feign a weakness, it should come through in taking more apparent damage.
>>
>>1956947
Or take out the shadow audience entirely.
Sing to change the landscape into the previous floors and have shadow versions of the previous boss monsters such as the chimera fight the Initiate. Set up a shadow version of himself as the last shadow clone, and when he finishes it off have Mono directly attack from behind to suckerpunch him.
There’s really no need to fight fair.
>>
>>1958005
The goal was to get him to have his hands full with a weapon that doesn't actually work.

That really sucks. Switching weapons isn't a free action.

Alternatively we could sing tentacles that sneak up and pickpocket that acid knife.

Also we don't have unlimited mana works like Miranda does, so I'd like to save a sizeable chunk for going all out on the last level.

Dragonball rules. Whoever reveals their final form first loses. We've already committed to the Mental Attack earlier on and seen it's had better results than physically attacking him. So let's double down on it and keep messing with him. That it's working is the big draw for me.

And like I said, we don't have to sucker punch him now. In fact if we try and fail exhausted it'll look even worse on the last level as we won't be a challenge.

Seriously. Dude even praised us on our mental attacks earlier.
>>
>>1958005
Also I personally meta want to explore Monos Capabilities and have some fun with this. I like referencing horror tropes and old games like FEAR and Silent Hill that had puzzles like this to figure out.

The best part is thy if he survives it will be educational to not get caught up in mind games and focus on the goal. It's a trap where the correct solution a to ignore it. Heroes and such have a hard time in iron things like this though, they often want to "solve" it.

We can always just outright attack him if he doesn't fall for it, anyways. At least until our Mana runs out.
>>
>>1958017
Dragon ball rules are retarded, especially when trying to apply them to a Metroidvania situation where the Main Character only gets stronger with more weapons and items the further along in the castle they go.
By the last level, the Initiate is going to have the best weapons and items the temple has to offer, and we will have accumulated more injuries and expended more mana.
>>
>>1958032
Only if we're retarded and don't act to wear him dwn and neutralize him (as the dungeon is doing already).

He will be at his weakest on the final dungeon. This isn't actually a video game Anon.

But we should definitely bait him first to see what weapons he might have grabbed here and then try to take them.

Because the last level? The NEXT level? He doesn't have any time to prepare remember? It's go time right away.

So let's not be stupid and overplay our hand.

Nothing else here will hurt us except for him, and that only happens if we engage him directly.

Which is what he'll try to do if we just attempt to overwhelm him with our song. "Cut the head off the snake" is like, a cliche tactic because it works. "Geek the Mage first"? Don't fight ssummons, fight the summoner.

Luckily we creeper him out so much he got spooked and doesn't want to attack us because we seem like a scary ghost instead of something he can stab to death.
>>
>>1957082
>>1957029
I miss the "What if we" planning conversation instead of >>1958032 No! Your idea sucks! Conversation of this morning.

I recognize I'm getting caught up in it too, but I'd like to find a way to work together on this.

Why do you think we'll be injured and more tired than he will be? He does still have the other monsters to fight through as well.
>>
>>1958051
Because while we don’t have any means of recuperating, such as potions or medkits, the Initiate has shown that he recovers, like from the leg injury he got during our first encounter.
>>
>>1958080
To be fair we don't know if those are from things here in the labyrinth or if it's an ability he has.

And if it is then we should wear him down as much as possible indirectly to exhaust whatever is it. Lots of small attacks that add up. Harry him instead of trying for an alpha strike
>>
>>1958080
That is something I'm concerned about, not knowing his full capabilities makes it hard to strategize. But it seems like he could definitely take us 1v1 if it comes to a hand to hand and he uses the skills he used on the previous monster.

Looks like he's guys might not be scrub tier after all, or that Mono is scrub tier.

I figure worst comes to worst Mirada could step in as a Final Boss and obliterate some stuff.
>>
You forget that his success is also a victory condition. Our job is to test him and to push him to his limits, if he dies it's because he wasn't good enough.

This guy's an initiate taking a test to become a full member of some whacko doomsday cult or whatever they are, obviously the test has to be /possible/ to pass. I understand that you want to murder him but he's already shown himself to be a dangerous opponent. Gotta consider that Mono's life is also in real danger every time we push for a confrontation.
>>
>>1958094
Harrying him like that assumes that our reserves will outlast his, which is not assured. For all we know, he could acquire an item that will let him rapidly recharge his mana so that he can outlast us in a fight of attrition.

>>1958098
While true that we shouldn’t risk Mono’s life to kill the Initiate, since it isn’t a deliverable of the contract, we do have to provide a good faith attempt to kill him without holding back.
>>
>>1958116
Absolutely, but making a serious effort to kill him does in no way mean that we'll win.

A) If all the demons or whatever they summon for the test are Outgoers, I don't believe for a second that the initiates kill them. That's bad business and their summons would stop being answered and certainly not be rated as simple jobs.

B) Initiates obviously pass the test or there would be no organization.

C) They have no clue what Mono's actual power level is. Like, they're probably just awed and impressed by the weird ass magic and creepy horror monster thing we've got going. It's nothing unusual that a being that hunts with illusions and fear may not have the raw strength to win a straight battle.
>>
>>1958142
I think that using shadow clones of previous bosses culminating in a sneak attack from Mono will play to the expectations of the client more than using a shadow audience.

Also, while the fake key may confuse the Initiate, I think it would be because we were specifically instructed to leave the keys alone. So the Initiate will ignore it because he knows we aren’t supposed to interfere directly with the keys.
>>
>>1958209
Not knocking the plan but to me it seemed you just wanted to get up in his face with a sword fight because you want to kill him.
>>
>>1958222
Of course I want to kill him, because the intent has to be there to make it look good. I don’t particularly think we’ll succeed, but we have to show we’re trying, and trying to sneak attack him will do that.
>>
>>1958209
He doesn't know where the key is though. He might think we're just camping it.

Personally I think it's worth a shot. We can always just chase him down and attack him on the last level. Go all out. If he doesn't engage us then we can just hang back like I said and make his fights more difficult. He still has to fight the other monsters remember, and we can just wait for an opportune time to strike at him. We didn't help with the other boss battle, but our best skill I feel is as support/force multiplication or trapping/deception.

Trying to fight him head on will just result in him running or us getting really hurt

I don't think we can keep up physical manifestations of multiple summons that well either? So far it's mostly been illusions and thematic environmental changes.

And while he can heal physically, we've had multiple signs the mental stress is getting to him. Refusing to meet our eyes, trying to engage from a distance, shaking and freaking out a bit.
>>
>>1958222
Hey I want to kill him too. Or at least make a solid effort. I just think it's not worth getting shake up until the end.

Getting pretty messed up is a good way to convince them "we did our best" if we have to. But I'd rather that be our final move.
>>
>>1958222
Remember he doesn't have to kill us, just escape.

If they really complain the Miranda could make a show of force and say that we could kill EVERYONE there if we really wanted to. So maybe they should consider what "the best of our ability" means vs. To a reasonable degree.

Like they don't want their whole testing area just to explode right?
>>
Wow. Okay, sooo...seems like the general idea is:

>Create a scene on stage resembling the current situation, taunt with a fake key, try to lure him in, sneak attack.

Or is that incorrect?
>>
>>1958676
I'm down with it. Seems like enough of a compromise and we're just spatting over the details.

I think there was the most support for having a shadow audience attack him while we act out the scene though as a key element to wear him down / see what he picked up between the last floor and this one.
>>
>>1958676
i´d say avoid direct confrontation. we are going to lose a 1 vs 1; better to let the denizens of the place, or our constructs do the dirty job.
>>
>>1958676
Like at least 3 of us support the shadow audience and only one guy has a problem with it.
>>
>>1958716
That's why I said we should try to disarm him instead of just attack him. Take away his toys.

Or cut off a hand. See him heal that.

> Last floor he has a chainsaw hand.
>>
>>1958676
Yep, addendum that the sneak attack doesn't end in a prolonged fight.
>>
>>1958676
No, I want to use shadows of previous bosses and monsters with a final clone of the Initiate. And no using a fake key.
>>
>>1958712
>>1958716
>>1958728

Okay, so.

>Shadow Audience
>Eerie yet luminescant lighting.
>Acting out The Trial of the Raven
>If he gets too curious, get stabby and run.

If that's all good, then I'm going to first need rolls.

>1d20+5 for the Initiate's approach. Best of three.
>>
Rolled 9 + 5 (1d20 + 5)

>>1958743
>>
Rolled 17 + 5 (1d20 + 5)

>>1958743
>>
Rolled 14 + 5 (1d20 + 5)

>>1958743
>>
Neat! That works out for you. Writing.

Also get ready since this won't be the only roll you make.
>>
>>1958743
>>1958750
>>1958757
>>1958758
You have to think back to old lessons for this- while you've never stopped singing, doing it quite like what you've always done comes as a bit of a surprise, considering the change in location. However... You're going to need an audience for this. Shame that there aren't any nearby.

Fortunately, you can make one. At least with a little bit of effort. Generally you had the others to help you out with this sort of thing, but considering you're flying solo... well, you're just going to have to step up your game! And come up something interesting...if nothing else, those lessons you've been taking HAVE helped you in one area- putting a tune to whatever situation you find yourself in. The only real lesson Ms. Miana had tried to drill into your head was that a song could come from anywhere at any time. You just had to make sure that you recognized it when it showed up and could tell it to the world, and under fire. That last bit had proven tricky...WAS proving tricky, but you were kinda getting the hang of it.

For a lady that likes sleeping, she can be surprisingly knowledgeable at times. Fortunately, you've got just the song in mind, sort of...

When he comes in, he's indeed wielding a new blade, one curved and sharp, but little else from first glance. What he sees, however, is a number of shadowy apparitions sitting in the stands, silently and politely. He sees a room darkened, with a single spot of light on the stage as you trill lightly, giving yourself a strange, metallic key with a gem inside, after a mourning moment besides a monster you made up - you think it kind of looks like a chicken with scales, but that's neither here nor there - that is very clearly supposed to be bloody and slain.

"What in the...?" Well, it seems like you got him well and curious. Unfortunately, he's about to get a rather cold reception to interrupting the proceedings. Like one great black mass the congregation of shadows turns, and he's got the good sense to know something's about to happen as he readies his blades- he still has the poisonous one, hm?- they lurch towards him like a great sea of death. Almost immediately he cleaves one's head from its shoulder, and as the black morass attempts to grab him, he begins slicing through them with aplomb, curving around one's lunge with grace and planting a blade in the back before immediately spinning and ending another, all of the while slowly making his way toward you, as you continue to sing... Although you have to admit you're getting a bit nervous now.

>Keep away as much as possible as the shadows wear him down. Whatever they do to him is fine.
>Keep just out of his range, string him around as best you can, but keep eyesight. You can take advantage...maybe.
>Get ready to strike- you can at the very least keep some of the tune up during a fight, after all.
>Other
>>
>>1959015
can we artificially extend the distance between him and us? like what we did with the passways.
>>
>>1959029
yeap.
>>
>>1959015
>>Keep just out of his range, string him around as best you can, but keep eyesight. You can take advantage...maybe.
>>
>>1959015
>>Get ready to strike- you can at the very least keep some of the tune up during a fight, after all.
>>
>>1959015
>>Extend the distance between you and him.Also try to handicap him in some way.

Maybe blind him, or make him slower.
>>
>>1959015
>Sing shadow to wrap around his arms as he cleaves through the audience. Then turn it solid and use it to yank away his weapons.
>>
>>1959015
>Other: send a more substantial shadow at him while opening up the distance away from him, to make him use that new sword’s ability
We need to know what it can do, and he’s not showing any signs of being concerned about us anymore.
>>
>>1959015
>Keep just out of his range, string him around as best you can, but keep eyesight. You can take advantage...maybe.
>>
Not the only roll, he said
>>
>>1959015
>>1959029
>>1959049
>>1959062
>>1959889
You have to admit, seems like your disguise is working almost a bit too well. He thought he would be a bit more enraptured to do much while those shadows swarmed in, but all that seems to have done is given him a resolve. And given the fact that he might not notice who you are... might be better to keep him at arm's length. You don't want him getting too close to you, but you don't want him getting away either.

Lightening up just a bit, a quick spin and a hop backwards puts an extra foot or so as you shift the tone to something more confusing and lilting. Something just enough to throw off his initial perception... A little bit of extra space where there shouldn't be, a feeling of the room being longer and wider than it is. You're going to have to keep within his audible range in order to keep this up, and you don't have a whole lot of room to maneuver- not that you can't make room.

Sure enough, he keeps glancing up, and toward you in his confusion as he continues to slice away at the shades. No, he's not imagining things, but you have to think he thinks otherwise- especially when you see him and grit his teeth and deliver a massive
horizontal cut, the blade glimmering.

>Roll 1d20.
>>
Rolled 18 (1d20)

>>1961361
>>
Rolled 8 (1d20)

>>1961361
>>
Rolled 11 (1d20)

>>1961361
rollin
>>
Huh. Neat effects here.

Writing!
>>
>>1961367
>>1961369
>>1961370
>>1961361
What ends up happening is that you see something blur behind him - a shadow of his own of some sort. As he weaves through the crowd, it seems to follow his every move, only delayed a bit. What results is a...strange and macabre dance of sorts as him and his self made partner cut through towards you, only for you to step away from him and yet make it appear like he has much further to go; it reminds you a little bit of maybe a bee chasing a...another bee.

Okay, so maybe you're not great at the flowery descriptions Miana tried to throw at you just yet. Something you need to work on.

Either way he seems far more certain of himself than he did before, and you kind of have to wonder what caused it. Was it really just the new sword? Or did he learn something else? He doesn't seem to look you in the eye, though, and you're not sure what that means at all.

Before he does anything else, however, he swings his blade around in a circular motion, and his doppelganger follows. Before your eyes, a score of shadows have fallen, and there's only a handful left.

That's when he dives at you. As in physically leaps. You're quick to dodge, however - the distance that you've kept allows you to see it coming and respond easily enough, although you do feel your breath hitch a little bit in your sudden haste; interestingly enough, you noticed that he didn't really seem to try to strike you. His swing was half-hearted, at best, and he shows no particular concern as he misses.

>Reveal yourself now, and take advantage of his apparentl cluelessness.
>Keep leading him on for as long as you can.
>Other
>>
>>1961591
>>Reveal yourself now, and take advantage of his apparentl cluelessness.
>>
>>1961591
>Reveal yourself now, and take advantage of his apparentl cluelessness.
>>
>>1961591
>>Reveal yourself now, and take advantage of his apparent cluelessness.
Suprise!
>>
>>1961591
>Reveal yourself now, and take advantage of his apparentl cluelessness.
I feel like he knows who we are and is just holding back for now. Keep our fancy new sword hidden for now
>>
>>1961591
>Reveal yourself now, and take advantage of his apparentl cluelessness
Be ready to run if he proves to have gotten power ups.
>>
Maybe not for this encounter, but we have to change our tactics for the next one. I´m pretty sure that by know he knows that we arent as capable at close quarters than at range, and that means that the fear factor is completely gone.
>>
Locked and

HI.

Writing.
>>
>>1961653
We have reasonable defense via illusion, but offense requires something more... substantial. Mono's pretty squarely a support class right now, and I'm not sure how to give her offense a boost without just teaching her how to use a sword.
>>
>>1961591
Shit can he rewind time? Damn it you guys got suckered.
>>
>>1961666
Are we keeping an eye out for the shadow too?
>>
>>1961692
The problem with the next fight is that he will have gotten more power ups, tools, and healing done by then, while we will have had little time to recover.
Trying to outlast him in a battle of attrition when he has access to rejuvenation is a guaranteed loss for us.
>>
>>1961806
We just need to swap Mono out for Miranda for the final fight, clearly.
>>
>>1961666
>>1961591
>>1961604
>>1961606
>>1961617
>>1961623
>>1961631
Your breath quickens as he gets closer. Whether he knew about you or not, you would at least have a second or two of surprise if you timed this right. It was just a matter of actually DOING that...

Good thing your timing is pretty solid; cuz otherwise this clammy feeling in your face would probably be a bad thing. As he approaches, you ready yourself, trying to slowly cut down on the dance moves as he gets closer, while at the same time appearing that you haven't exactly stopped to focus only on him. It's not easy, admittedly- and you're pretty sure that and he wasn't somewhat distracted, he noticed all too easily - but as he steps lightly, closer towards you, you notice- just for a moment, his hand drops back, going to his side.

That's all the moment you need, and your cloak is flung at him with little further fanfare, to a shout of surprise from him, and in a snap the offending garment is shredded into, then four, then more than you can count. At the end of it, the dress is little more than pieces...

And seeing your moment, you rush in, blade at the ready, and you can hear a gasp of surprise before your sword moves forward and catches flesh. It's enough to make him shout in pain; you see him leap back, but you also see him leave a trail of blood.

Briefly, your resolve shakes at that- like there's two parts of you, and they're currently warring whether to decide whether that's a good or a bad thing.

It doesn't seem to slow him down much, though, as he quickly fires more needles, forcing you to dodge, largely ignoring his wound, though it's clear to see- a gash that tears through his clothes on his left side, close to the hip. Any hope that it's going to affect him much in the short term is dashed, however, when you see him swing away at one of the three remaining shadows, his own dark copy ensuring that the strike is enough. Now, there's practically nothing stopping him from focusing on you.

Whatever that thing is, it's copying his movements perfectly, and you can see just how trouble it would be if he tries to engage you... suddenly, you're a lot less certain of your chances in close combat- and those were rapidly going down anyway. It's actually kind of hard to sing with that thought in mind...

>Then again, your own new sword might be able to close that gap a bit...
>This is getting dicey. Time to get out- you'll have to stick and move now!
>Perhaps if you shift into Demonsong again- he won't have much defense against that.
>Other
>>
>>1962087
>Then again, your own new sword might be able to close that gap a bit...
>>
>>1962087
>>Then again, your own new sword might be able to close that gap a bit...
>>
>>1962087
>Then again, your own new sword might be able to close that gap a bit...
>>
>>1962087
>Perhaps if you shift into Demonsong again- he won't have much defense against that.
He can beat us 1v1 with swords, without his shadow and other tricks. If we can stun him and get another hit in, our chances of actually beating him go up.
>>
>>1962087
>>Perhaps if you shift into Demonsong again- he won't have much defense against that.
>>
Locked. We're going for it! Writing!
>>
>>1962087
>>1962105
>>1962115
>>1962132

Thinking about it, though, you've got one thing you know he isn't aware of- a new blade of your own. You're not quite certain what it does, if anything, but that could be used as a nice little surprise for him. It's just a matter of holding on until he suspects he's got the advantage- and then taking it away. Just have to be careful...

One problem with that, though- everything that comes from him is twofold, and you can't seem to find a good opening as you do your best to deflect his attacks; he's constantly forcing you on the back foot, and the fact that his shadow is a second or so behind in repeating what he does means that he has a window to try and trap you in between two attacks. As he goes high and then quickly goes low, you're forced to reveal your second blade in an attempt to parry.

He only briefly pauses, then flips his sword up- you meet his with yours, but then he flips his grip, shifting sideways and running past you, letting the blade drag perpendicular across your blade- and you hiss as you feel metal bite your side as the tip slides past your guard- it only ends up exacerbated when the shadow copies the movement- you're not sure what it was and don't have enough time to figure it out, leaving a gash in your upper chest bleeding.

"Damnit!" He yells, and as he jumps back to gain space for a second- some sort of instinct cries out that he is going to go for his own second blade, and you really really don't want that to happen. The end result is you charging forward with a wild cry, and just barely managing to get a cut on his arm as he indeed goes for his acidic dagger. To you surprise, though, he jerks back in serious pain, and you can see the wound is surprisingly bigger and nastier than you'd have thought at first glance (if still not too serious)- not only that, but you actually kind of feel a little bit better, too, especially across your chest. Like you just drank a cool glass of water.

You don't really have time to contemplate it however, as your followup strike misses entirely- you move to follow as he retreats- only to be forced to dive out of the way as he sends a number of needles at you yet again, taking cover behind one of the seats as a number of said needles pierce your arm in its thicker area.

By the time you raise your head, he's gone again, footsteps retreating. Part of you wonders what that was all about- and then a thought hits you. What if he really did think you had the key? If that's the case...he'll be back.

>You have to find a way to heal yourself, fast.
>You'll be fine, he's running! You're going to have to end this now!
>Maybe finding the key isn't such a bad idea...
>Other
>>
>>1962429
>You have to find a way to heal yourself, fast.
With the powers and tools he’s picking up, I’m having serious doubts that Mono will be able to provide an acceptable performance on the final level. But we need to heal up somehow before trying to attack him again.
>>
>>1962429
>You have to find a way to heal yourself, fast.
If we just found a vampiric sword, we can just go stab the monsters on the level since they're not hostile to us.
>>
>>1962429
>>You have to find a way to heal yourself, fast.
>>
Fair enough! You need healing!

and I need dice. 1d20, best of three for searching and stealth.
>>
>>1962429
>>You have to find a way to heal yourself, fast.
Assuming he comes back, we need a better plan, one that doesn't result in us needing to fight him hand-to-hand /again/. We need to be clever, not use brute force.
>>
Rolled 8 (1d20)

>>1962547
rollin
>>
Rolled 5 (1d20)

>>1962547
>>
Rolled 12 (1d20)

>>1962547
>>
Rolled 19 (1d20)

>>1962547
>>
Locked, but I'm going to have to leave again for now. Apologies.
>>
>>1962553
The original plan was to use the shadows to fight him and stay back, but that plan went to shit when it turned out our shadow audience wasn’t good enough to land even a single hit on him.

So yeah, keep that in mind.
>>
>>1962553
time to use the terrain again... we also have 2000 mana left for another demon song.
>>
In the event that we're forced to retreat or have Miranda intervene, we still get paid right? We've still got plenty of mana and it's the final level next, might be more prudent to conserve power for that. Can we go ahead to the next floor or only pursue?
>>
>>1964741
>In the event that we're forced to retreat or have Miranda intervene, we still get paid right?
No reason why we wouldn't. We weren't hired to kill him, we were hired to kill him if he wasn't skilled enough to win. If he wins, we've successfully proven he has what his bosses want from him.
>>
Had a bit of an issue to deal with the other day, but I'm back. Will be starting shortly!
>>
>>1962547
>>1962561
>>1962570
>>1962577
>>1962598
>>1962832
You're gonna to have to find some way to heal yourself soon. Everything that you've been up to is seriously taking its toll... is this closer to what it's going to be what it's like all the time in solo jobs? Bah, well... You've been whining about it enough for now. But either way, you have to make sure to avoid him for a while. It wouldn't do to come off as too weak, regardless of what shape you're actually in. So, time to step lightly...

There's a number of close calls, especially in one particular instance where you can see him in the distance going around the corner, but you do manage to avoid him for the most part; it's a close call in some situations, especially one instance where you can see him in the distance rounding a corner. Fortunately you're pretty light footed, and he doesn't seem to notice you as you take the immediate opposite hallway. As it stands unfortunately, you're not really able to find anything that will seriously heal you - you do manage to find a few bandages, which seem to be lined with some sort of liquid or disinfectant... At the very least, they seem to make you feel a bit better when you wrap them around your torso and arms. It's not great, but it'll have to do for now.

Soon, you can hear a rumbling coming from the east. That sounds like a large door opening if ever you heard one. From what you recall, you're pretty much supposed to chase him in a matter of minutes. By the time you reach it it'll be time to go. Question is if you'll confront him immediately or not. Considering how he's been going, if you put it off too long, he'll have something far stronger to work with when he does meet you. On the other hand, you could probably use the time to set up some sort of trap. Or perhaps you could take a different option, you surmise... considering what you just did before, you could do that, but taken to a much higher degree. Try to divest him of any new weapons or power ups. Chances are he'd find you, but you'd have more weaponry to work with, possibly healthier, and he likely be racing around trying to find new gear that's already been claimed.

>Approach him immediately.
>Try to find somewhere to set up a more tactical effort.
>Run to get gear and items before he does.
>Other
>>
>>1970371
>>Approach him immediately.
>>
>>1970371
>Try to find somewhere to set up a more tactical effort.
>>
>>1970371
>>Try to find somewhere to set up a more tactical effort.
>>
>>1970371
>Run to get gear and items before he does.
Tactics haven't really worked so far. Let's deprive him of more advantages
>>
>>1970371
>>Run to get gear and items before he does.
Boost ourselves, weaken him. We've been able to trap and trick him, but we haven't been able to do anything with those advantages. Let's see if we can give ourselves more bite.
>>
5 more minutes before call!
>>
>>1970371
>>Run to get gear and items before he does.
>>
>>1970371
>>1970386
>>1970398
>>1970424
>>1970428
>>1970458
>>1970487

No way you're going to waltz right back up to him right now. He knows your tactics and he knows what you have. But...he's gonna be looking around for a bunch of stuff while he's trying to find the key to this floor. So that means he's going to be a little bit busy - especially since you're pretty sure he doesn't know that you're supposed to be right behind him. So you can take yourself a little time... at least as long as you're careful. You might be able to deprive him of anything he might be able to use against you if you move quick enough. Who knows, you actually might find something pretty useful for yourself.

>Okay, gonna need 5d100 for things found. Let's see what you come across...
>>
Rolled 11, 67, 15, 94, 49 = 236 (5d100)

>>1970513
>>
Rolled 85, 15, 38, 96, 47 = 281 (5d100)

>>1970513
Jeepers Creepers.
>>
Rolled 99, 53, 39, 93, 87 = 371 (5d100)

>>1970513
for shinies!
>>
Oh dang, look at all them 90s.
We are just running through them.
>>
That fourth item is going to be swell
>>
Rolled 17, 2, 76, 62, 34 = 191 (5d100)

>>1970513
>>
>I'm surprised...

>*yawn* ...Hm?

>The warrior seems to be less direct than most, in a number of ways. Most never saw reason to approach his defeat from such an angle- stealing what we have left for him. We DID only say to not touch the key...

>Oh. Well, victory can be reliant on a number of factors- so depriving him of one of those factors speaks to her ingenuity.

>Indeed. But our stalwart is no slouch, by any means. Should her skill be in tactical decisions, as opposed to direct combat...I do hope our initiate is clever enough to work around her plans.

>We'll see. Someone get me some more tea. I want to stay awake this time.

>Wait, y-you were sleeping just? But your eyes were wide open...

>I know. I can do that.
>>
>>1970513
>>1970516
>>1970517
>>1970518

This place is very clearly meant to evoke a feeling of 'almost worthy'; the blue stone evokes a feeling of awe and respect, and you have to admit you feel like it's almost an actual civilized location... If it weren't for the menacing chill that seems to seep through the air, and the feeling of utter deadness that you swear wasn't here before. At the very least, it's somewhere that doesn't- or isn't supposed to have - throngs of strange monsters and beasts; indeed, it seems like here there's mostly humanoid creatures; things in various sorts of impressive green armor, yet you can tell no living soul inhabits them. They're patrolling the hallways, like true sentinels...beyond that, strange, pointy eared creatures that seem to have large, blank, white eyes and bodies that seem to be thin and emaciated, yet brimming with strength. At one point, you hear swords clash and a warcry- seems like the initiate has got himself into a scrape. Perfect.

Moving on for now, you travel a few hallways down to find what appears to be a storage room, and here is another, smaller chest, this one only locked by a turn lock. Opening it, you find what appears to be a clear flask of some green substance- you're not quite sure what it is, but you'll hold on to it for now. There's also a small wooden chest in the room; and you find yourself what appears to be a throwing dagger, something far smaller than the wavy blade that you have now. You're just glad your cloak has a lot of pocket space.

What surprises you the most about this floor is that it seems to have something resembling a dungeon, if the iron cells are anything to go by when you encounter them. Several, as part of you expect, seem to actually be housing guests, all of them far more grotesque and feral than the guardians that you've walked past before. One of them seems to resemble a brown, grinning, large horned creature in particular, far more muscular than most, and you notice he's got something behind him on the wall- a large, gem encrusted key. The demon seems to be standing around doing nothing in particular, but he keeps his eyes on you, never losing that smile.

Well...to get in there, you'll have to find a key to the cage. Bah. If this is what the initiate has to go through, you feel a little bit more sorry for him.

Fortunately however, what seems to be the keys to the cells aren't too difficult to find - there's a second room near the back of the dungeon area that, when you enter, seems like it's just supposed to be a sitting room... One with rather a lot of books. That's not what catches your eye, however. You can see that there seems to be a...a corpse, sitting in a corner, in its hands a strange crossbow. Unlike most you know of, it seems to look more like an instrument than a weapon, with three bows inlaid on its top, one below the other below the other. It seems like it's made to fire three bolts in rapid succession.

(cont.)
>>
>>1970750
Oh damn is that the Avelyn?
>>
>>1970750
Taking it, you fumble with it a bit before being able to open it and check that it's loaded. Checking the man, you notice what seems to be a bolt pouch as well. Taking it and looking in reveals he has 15 bolts left, for a total of 18 shots.

Taking a deep breath, you grab the keys from the desk nearby. As you open the cell with the large creature in it, a part of you expects him to try and take your head off- and you end up stopping yourself from breathing a sigh of relief when he doesn't, simply giving a low throated chuckle as you pluck the fancy key off the back of the wall where it hangs.

As you exit the jail area, you're surprised to hear a thump from a distance; and a sudden feeling of air leaving the room. You're not certain what happened, but you're suddenly a bit more nervous. Going back mainly along the path that you remember in order to get down here, you find that there's far more in the way of spacious and ornate rooms; although what purpose they serve you couldn't say. Maybe they're just arenas for him to fight in...

It's not much further that you run into what appears to be a more enclosed area, thank goodness. More smaller rooms after a small stairway up leading to another floor- not a Floor, mind you, just a higher elevation. There's even a statue of some fancy individual sitting on a balcony however; he seems to be dressed in the same clothing that the initiate is, only far more fancy. Around its shoulders is a flowing red scarf, and even you can't deny that it feels as though it holds some sort of power. Wrapping it around you cause you to feel...more agile, sort of. Or at the very least more limber. You're not going to suddenly try and do backflips, but you do feel better than you have in a while.

As the sounds of some sort of battle ring out from below, you continue your own exploration. The objects up here are located in ornate chests, from the looks of it; large, iron things. Some of them need keys, from the looks of it; one in particular in a room that you feel wouldn't be out of place for some noble or senator to rest. It has a wonderful looking canopy bed, a large closet and dresser, and a large mirror the deck bedecked by rubies and other gemstones. On the far end of the room, just barely hidden out of sight, is an IMMENSE chest, one decorated in green and yellow scales and horns as though evoking the appearance of a dragon itself. It needs a key though, quite clearly, and fortunately...a key you have.

There's almost a light that erupts from the chest as you open it, to reveal...something beautiful. It's a brilliantly ivory colored blade, one with jagged, teeth like edges that don't seem to sit wrongly on it. The curve is subtle and graceful, and the handle is comfortable even around your unusual hands. The weight of it is almost like you're carrying nothing at all, and yet when you feel the blade, it's undoubtedly some type of steel. Whatever it is...you're loving it.

(cont again.)
>>
>>1970884

Suddenly, there's a rumbling noise from the below, as well as a roar that sounds...surprisingly human. As you carefully walk out of the room with your new prize attached to your belt, you make your way down the hall, towards the sounds, only to find yourself standing on a balcony above what appears to be some sort of atrium, windows blocking your path. Below is the Initiate, hiding behind what appears to be a large wall of plants. As first you're curious as to what he's hiding from, but as large, pounding steps sound out, you come to learn very quickly.

It's some strange, four legged creature, made of twisted vines and bark. almost resembling a hound with no snout or tail. Slowly, carefully, it stalks around the immense open area, clearly looking for prey that seeks to escape him. Unfortunately, the creature is clearly on the other side, and the Initiate begins to inch towards the exitway little by little as the beast lumbers about unknowingly. Before you can decide whether to point it out or not, he darts away under the beast's nose.

>Try to point him out to the creature and let it chase.
>Forget the beast, try to intercept him yourself!
>Let him go for now. You'll be waiting for HIM on the next floor.
>Other
>>
>>1970770
Heh. Maaaaaaybe. Maybe I just took inspiration.
>>
>>1970898
>Try to point him out to the creature and let it chase.
>>
>>1970898
>>Try to point him out to the creature and let it chase.
>>
>>1970898
Oh also after we set the creature on him, let's get back to this balcony and snipe him. Stress him out a little.
>>
>>1970898
>>Try to point him out to the creature and let it chase.
>>
5 until lock.
>>
Which way did he go, George, which way did he go?

Writing!
>>
>>1970898
>>1970913
>>1970915
>>1970970
It takes you sometime in order to get down to the area where the creature is, still sniffing around like a foolish dog that doesn't how to catch a scent. Intimidating though it looks, it seems that its brainpower is sorely lacking. It doesn't take very long for it to see you as you make it down, and although you're not really all that understanding about how to work with animals, at the very least seems to you pointing in the direction of the exit way. It gives a strange snuffling, noise which vaguely confuses you considering it doesn't have a nose, and trots out with little other fanfare.

Strange thing, really. But then you hear a gurgling howl, and more thudding footsteps. At least it's got some level of tracking ability. Maybe.

As you move back out to the upper hallways, planning on gaining an overhead position, you can hear the roars and howls of the initiate, and to your surprise you can hear another cry- not his, but something haunting and wailing; the sobs of a person in despair. You're not entirely sure what that is, and as you move out to the inner balcony area, you follow the sounds off to a small corner that doesn't seem to really have any hallways or other such manner of entry point nearby. Not to mention it seems to be off in the distance somewhere, as opposed to the direction that the hound is going in. It doesn't make any sense, but part of you is curious as to just what's making that noise...

Before you can for too long however, you hear a massive explosion, and a sheering sound from below you as the hound slides into view on its massive bark nails, apparently just barely managing to backstep some sort of explosive. It's growling with a fierceness as the initiate shows his face, wielding some sort of hand held launcher. Vaguely, you remember that apparently this was supposed to be some sort of assassin group... suppose it's good to be trained in all kinds of combat, though. 'Cuz there's nothing silent or stealthy about this.

It's only after a moment that he looks up and sees you on the balcony. His eyes widen, and then he frowns as he lifts the device towards you.

>Run AWAY, reposition, and fast. You don't want to risk it.
>Maybe you can fake your position up here! Cause him to waste ammo.
>Quick fire- shoot him before he shoots you!
>Other
>>
>>1971420
>>Quick fire- shoot him before he shoots you!
>>
>>1971420
>>Quick fire- shoot him before he shoots you!
>>
>>1971420
Definitly want to make this fucker dry.
Make him waste his ammo Imma say.

How does he reload, if any? Any indication to how much shots he has? Unlimited would be... eh.

Worst case, we steal his thing, or break it.
>>
>>1971420
>Run AWAY, reposition, and fast. You don't want to risk it.
>>
>>1971465
It reminds you of a handheld cannon, shaved in half. The back end is some sort of tensile strength launcher, kind of like a crossbow. You can see a bag on his hip that wasn't there before, and more of the balls are inside it. They're about the size of a golf ball. You're not sure how many he has in there, but at a ballpark guess the bag isn't big enough to hold more than a dozen, if that.
>>
>>1971420
>>Maybe you can fake your position up here! Cause him to waste ammo.
Maybe Miranda can survive getting shot with a rocket launcher, but Mono certainly can't.
Any way to fire only one of the bolts? We can use it to harass him into taking more shots and while reloading with running ourselves dry.
>>
>>1971492
..lemme try that again
If we can use our crossbow without firing everything at once, we use it to goad him to wasting shots, and while he's reloading.

>>1971481
Not a rocket launcher then, more like a grenade launcher then?
>>
>>1971420
man I wish we could throw some fire or something at that bag.
>>
>>1971501
Seems so.
>>
>>1971420
>Maybe you can fake your position up here! Cause him to waste ammo.
>>
So, trying to waste ammo, then. We're locked.

Singing to fake your position needs a 1d20. You know how it goes.
>>
Rolled 20 (1d20)

>>1971544
rollin
>>
Rolled 9 (1d20)

>>1971544
5
>>
...Well, then. That works. That works exceedingly well.

Writing!
>>
Rolled 14 (1d20)

>>1971544
>>
>>1971585
>>1971609
>>1971644
The only takes a few seconds for you to start up a simple tune, something that says that you are somewhere you really don't want to be right now, and you should be somewhere else. With little warning, you see his vision settling down to the hallway beneath you, and you can immediately tell by the way he swings his walking around that he's fooled- certainly distracted long enough to be for the giant dog thing to get back on its feet and charge him. He only just barely manages to dive out of the way of the immense creature, and you see him fire at your doppelganger in mid-flight. It explodes with ferocity, the heat from the detonation watching over you, but your perch holds, as you see another version of you walk out of another hallway as you continue singing, the clone mimicking your mouth movements perfectly.

He has barely anytime to blink and realize before the large creature slams into him, pinning him down with a growl. At first you think he's done for, but then you see him reach for something inside his cloak, and he quickly slices his acid dagger along the creature's foot. It for sure yelps in pain, and backs off just enough for him to roll out of the creature's grip, clutching his chest badly. He looks at you, then turns to the other you briefly, clearly confused...and then the creature dives at him again. This time, the initiate evades fully, although he cringes and nearly drops to a knee as he does, clutching his chest as he keeps an eye on the big beast after a quick glare at you, then the other you.

And suddenly you realize.

You have a perfect shot at him. If you wanted to...y'know...do it? For certain? Now would be the time.

But- do you? It would be part of the job. They did say that if he wasn't worth it, then... but...actually killing someone? But you should. There might be other jobs like this. You knew this going in.

Why are your hands clammy?

>Take the shot. It's...you need to. Get used to it.
>Just...let the beast handle things. It's fine.
>Other
>>
>>1971976
>Take the shot. It's...you need to. Get used to it.
>>
>>1971976
>Take the shot. It's...you need to. Get used to it.
>>
>>1971976
>Just...let the beast handle things. It's fine.
>>
>>1971976
>>Take the shot. It's...you need to. Get used to it.
It'll come up sooner or later, unfortunately. Doing it now, while in a relatively safe position, is better than risking locking up during something high stakes or high precision.
>>
5 more minutes until lock. If anyone wants to vote on this one, now's the time.
>>
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>>1971976
>Take the shot. It's...you need to. Get used to it.

Do it.
>>
Still your breath, now.

Writing.
>>
>>1971976
>>1971997
>>1972017
>>1972031
>>1972053
Okay. Careful. You got lessons for this. No worse than a rifle. Lighter in fact. You could do this. You should do this. Right? You're already holding the crossbow up. Already aiming through it's sight.

Deep breath. In. Out. Hold. Center mass.

Squeeze the trigger.

A trio of bolts fly, one after the other. They're moving so slowly. Taking their time, stop taking your time. One of them hits through his chest. He freezes, and then the second hits, somewhere around his right shoulder. There's a lot of blood. You didn't think there'd be that much blood. The third misses- that's due the recoil. You didn't think there would be recoil for something like this.

There's blood rushing through your head, and you can feel your ears heat up. You're not sure what to do now. You can hear yourself breathing.

He's still standing. For a second, at least. Did- did you actually do it? For a moment you're not sure. For a moment, you're expecting to just kind of get back up and shrug it off.

And then he starts tilting over, and you see him collapse. Kind of reminds you of a puppet with strings cut. You're still aiming. Is he dead? What happens now?

Suddenly, you feel hot. And dizzy. But before anything else can happen a glow surrounds you...and with little warning, you find yourself in...somewhere you can't quite place. It looks very... Comfortable. Like a log cabin. And that leader man, along with Miranda is there. She's looking at you with an impassive expression.

It's the man who speaks first, however. "How disappointing. For such a promising candidate to be felled by such a simple trick in the end. It appears his martial might was superior to his mental might. Truly, I was not expecting such a gambit to be so successful, but it appears that his early fears of you were never truly conquered." He shakes his head sadly, and you're still feeling very lost and very strange. "Such is a critical flaw for any good agent of our high purpose, and it pains me that he succumbed to his delusions."

"Sometimes it happens," Miranda says, and you're not sure if she's talking to you or him.

The man nods in acceptance. "Tell me, warrior, what did you think of the boy? Speak truly and briskly."

Wait, what? What did you think of him? Why would...?

"Go ahead," Miranda says, and the look in her eyes brooks no argument. "This is good to do." Not sure what you mean by that. But...

>"At the end, I felt sorry for him...kinda." That it was him or you, at least.
>"He- wasn't good." You're not sure in which way you mean that.
>"He failed to be careful, so I took- I took the shot." Don't think about it, don't think about it...
>Other.
>>
>>1972284
>"At the end, I felt sorry for him...kinda." That it was him or you, at least.
>>
>>1972284
>"At the end, I felt sorry for him...kinda." That it was him or you, at least.
>>
>>1972284
>>"He failed to be careful, so I took- I took the shot." Don't think about it, don't think about it...
We can melt down after we're out of sight of the client.
>>
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Mono is going to need some help from Miranda.
>>
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Thinking about it, if these guys were such scrubs, and they were able to pass this test, maybe we were too hard on this Initiate.
>>
>>1972284
It's a shame.

Writing!
>>
>>1972284
>>1972292
>>1972322
>>1972345
You find yourself having trouble speaking when you realize what you want to say. As though the words just don't want to come out, that you don't want to acknowledge what just happened but at the same time know you need to. "At the end, I felt sorry for him...kinda." At the end of it, you felt that if you hadn't killed him, he would have tried to do the same to you... Eventually. Part of you isn't sure that that's entirely correct. Another part of you doesn't want to question it.

"Ah, you need not shed tears for him," the man assures you. "He knew the possibilities upon swearing his oath, and the fact that they have come to pass is of no surprise. He is not the first to perish in these halls, and he is surely not the last." you don't know whether that makes you feel better or worse. "In fact, your tactics have brought to light areas in our training that I would say are lacking. We will be certain to improve ourselves in these areas so that our ultimate test is far more thorough." he seems oddly proud, and that makes your gut churn...at the same time a light headedness passes over you. "None shall be considered worthy of holding a blade or undertaking missions in our name without being able to defeat such mental assaults as yours successfully."

He turns away, and you see Miranda nodding at you approvingly as he continues. "The Darklight Society will shine ever brighter thanks to your cleansing, in time. As your watcher agreed, your tithe is whatever you have claimed, along with what rests beyond the door, as it is always." Oh, right. The money. You forgot about that.

The three of you walk through the door near the back to see indeed a number of chests, similar to the one where you got the big sword in. Miranda opens one of them to see that they're full of coin made of a glinting yellow metal. "I took the liberty of checking it all earlier," she says. "It's all here. So, ready to get back?"

You find yourself nodding rapidly, and you're unsure why your heart is beating so fast.

"We're through here, then." She turns to the man and says something, but you're not paying attention. You just need to get out of here.

There's a sudden flash of light, and you're gone.

JOB COMPLETE!

-PRIMARY SERVICE RENDERED- PRIMARY PAY DELIVERED IN FULL

=TOTAL PAYMENT: 12 MOTES (LARGE)
>>
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>>1972687
It's not Miranda's specialty, but she should try to counsel and console Mono. She used to be that way, once, long ago. She should help her junior get over it.
>>
>>1972687
Aw, crap. Did we get to keep our lootz?
>>
>>1972687
You find yourself back in The Intersection almost immediately, right back in your base where you started. Miranda doesn't say anything, oddly enough. She just looks at you strangely.

You meet her gaze for a moment- barely a second- and that strange feeling, along with the knowledge of what you just did, finally comes roaring back. You actually killed someone. You took another person's life.

You're a murderer.

Not sure when you started walking. But somehow you're moving. Not a exit- there's a wall here, this is a wall. It's a cool wall at least, anything to stop the burning, stop the dizziness.

You're sitting against the wall now, you don't remember sitting, either.

"Careful breaths. First REAL time's never easy," a soft voice comes to you. A hand is placed on your shoulder and you shiver- at what, you're not sure. Not her, you don't think. Killing...killing was a fact of life even back where you used to live. You just...doing it yourself? Did it ever really register? You don't think it did. Maybe you're shivering at yourself?

It's several moments before you manage to focus again in any sense of the word- the world's still kinda a blur, but you can make out a figure, kneeling in front of you with a cautious look in her eyes. Miranda's...surprisingly more concerned than you've ever seen her.

>I-I just need a moment, please. Please just...stay.
>I'm...I'm okay. Mostly. I think.
>How do you do that? All the time? You can really just shut it out?
>Other
>>
>>1972704
>I-I just need a moment, please. Please just...stay.
>How do you do that? All the time? You can really just shut it out?
>>
>>1972701
Yes, forgot to mention. So Mono now has:

*Triplicate Crossbow
*Whitefang Blade
*Strange Potion
*Blood Drinker
*1 Throwing Dagger
*An Hourglass
>>
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>>1972704
>I-I just need a moment, please. Please just...stay.
>How do you do that? All the time? You can really just shut it out?
I feel like these posters should be put up somewhere in the SES offices. Maybe by Sal, who doesn't really get motivational posters.
>>
>>1972704
>>I-I just need a moment, please. Please just...stay.
>How do you do that? All the time? You can really just shut it out?
Honestly, I'd be worried if she was fine after that.
>>
>>1972716
Sweet. To be clear, Miranda isn't getting any of the cash, right?
Hey, an idea. could the company 'buy' gear from the employees, paying them for stuff they can't use? I don't know if we'll be willing to go out and buy gear otherwise, considering how expensive the HQ additions are.

>*An Hourglass
Really?
>>
>>1972774
Not for this one.

And yeah. She had it on her when she left, it's hers according to what the dude said.

Don't look too much into it.
>>
Okay, writing!
>>
>>1972704
>>1972713
>>1972731
>>1972746
"I-I just need a moment, please. Please just...stay." you really don't want to be around on now. You're not sure what you do. She simply nods, and moves to sit down next to you.

You wind up having to take a few more breaths before you can speak anymore. They're not desperate ones, but they are long ones. Really, they're for the sake of allowing yourself to think a little bit as much as they are for you to actually calm down. Miranda doesn't say a word until you look up at her. "How..." the words are trembling, and you have to force them out a bit. "How do you do that? All the time?" Of course you'd known people that seem to be so casual about it, especially when it came to you in particular - and you occasionally wondered just what was the cost of that mindset. Even your victims in the test- they had very clearly done some magic, made creatures that you saw, plain as day, weren't real. It was easy enough to discard the severity of the reality. Now, though, actually DOING it... "You can really just shut it out? Just kind of bury it?"

"At this point...yeah, kinda," Miranda admits. "It's been a long time since anything that simple really shook me up. And I know a lot of people who would call me a monster for sayin' that it's 'simple' at all. But it is. Eventually, it kinda settles in that...Iunno, I don't know those people. Chances are extremely high I'll never see them again, and nothing they or anyone on their entire plane of existence do is ever going to affect me ever again. They're non-factors. Same for you too."

She looks over at you, the face of decades of hardship in her features - you didn't see them before, but they're plain as day now. "It's not even a matter of being selfish about it. At this point it's a matter of practicality. Matter of paying for what you want for coming here in the first place, like I told you before. Izumi's held onto her 'no wicked people' morals, and she's got to take out an extra job just to not be erased from existence. Sure, she's okay with it, but she wouldn't have nearly the trouble she does if she didn't care so much." She leans back a little bit after her impromptu speech, resting her head against the wall.

You're not really sure how to respond again. You know they see each other as friends, but to hear her speak so frankly...

cont.
>>
>>1973032
"Honestly?" she continues. "It kind of annoys me. She's got so much skill and so much going for her, but she wants to play at something that she doesn't even REALLY have anymore. No one's judging her but herself. No one's going to punish her, no one's going to wag their finger at her for doing her job. We're all in a situation where we can't really afford to be all judgemental like that. You do what you have to. She could probably be one of the best in the business if she let go a bit, could have everything. Wouldn't have to worry about rent or dues a day in her life. Honestly, she deserves not to have to worry about it." And then she looks at you. "And you want to explore. That's fine. Like I said before, there's some amazing stuff out there. I was shock stupid for a good thirty years at every new world I went to. It was all so amazing, so wonderful. Kind of thought I was on some grand journey sometimes." Something that passes for a small crosses her face. "Don't tell anyone, but even now sometimes I'll stumble across a world that I kind of find...enchanting. Or interesting in other ways." She shrugs amicably as the smile slowly recedes, replaced by casual indifference. "Wonder never REALLY dies, I guess. Just... You got to do stuff in order to see it. Sometimes, if you want to see the really cool places... You got to do bloody stuff."

Mm... "So...you're saying I'll get used to it?" You refuse to entertain thoughts of whether that's good or bad.

She nods. "To a majority extent, if you put your mind to it. Up to you though. Like I said, this is a place where you can't really judge too harshly. Up to me, though?" She gets up. "The Intersection. That's what you should worry about. Save your kindness for the people around here. They're the ones that'll help you the most when you need it. Everything else is just a paycheck."

Oh...huh. That's...

Before you can formulate any more thought on that front, suddenly the door bursts open, and a chalky, skinny twig with a crystal embedded in her forehead- also known as Owlia, one of your coworkers- comes running straight for Miranda, skidding to a stop only inches in front of her. "Sososososoooo sorry, forgot to give you the Shield Shard from the other day but here you go!" And with no ceremony plops a small piece of a blue gemstone in Miranda's hand.

The look she gives Owlia is piercing. "Thanks. Really could've used this earlier, but thanks." Owlia shrinks back a bit, but at Miranda's inoffensive huff and pocketing of the strange gem, she pulls herself back to her full (tall) height.

"...Shield Shard?" you find yourself asking. Owlia's eyes turn on you, and you can already recognized the glint of someone who wants to tell you something that you really don't care about that much. But considering how she's smiling...

...well, maybe Miranda has something of a point. It'd be- well, nice to keep people you'll see a lot happy. That's something you can understand.
>>
And done for tonight! Tomorrow...might not run. Day after though, possible. Eyes on Twitter.
>>
>>1973047
>and a chalky, skinny twig with a crystal embedded in her forehead- also known as Owlia
heh.

Thanks for running. Back to Miranda next time?
>>
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>>1973038
You can always afford to be choosy and let your morals dictate the contracts you take; just be prepared for the consequences, whether it be taking a second or third job to pay the rent, or receiving a NOTICE OF NON-PAYMENT from the Dealmakers.
>>
>>1973063
Aye. This whole thing was, as people requested, basically a short training excercise for Mono, and she got officially got bloodied. Now we've got other things to deal with...

*coughInterdictioncough*
>>
>>1973075
Oh, maaaaan. Can't we just pretend they don't exist or something? I'd be perfectly happy to never interact with them again.
>>
>>1973038
>>1973075
Can we have Mono go with Owlia and Cylica on their missions? as a breather or get her mind adjusted to what life she has now and she gets to bond with the other newbies.
The seniors will have to deal with interdiction.
>>
>>1973369
Technically, you can order her to do so.
>>
>>1973113
>>1973075
baaaah, legal jargon incoming. Lets dealwith this as fast as possible.
>>
>>1974089
You mean lethal jargon
>>
>>1974089
Hopefully Sal has dealt with the worst of it and all we have to do is agree to accept payment for damages for somesuch.
>>
>>1973038
>You are now Miranda Styles.

Well. Overall, you thought the job had went fairly well. Mono'd actually went for the early end and killed the target- you honestly weren't sure she was going to do something like that, but the fact that she did... You can't help but admit that you're kind of proud of her in a weird way. You care about Izumi, more than you'd probably ever say out loud, and the fact that she seemed to restrict herself constantly grated at you. That Mono ideally wouldn't be held back by such strong feelings...well, she hopefully wouldn't have any issues beyond picking out good jobs.

Of course, once you'd gotten back she'd had a bit of a... well, might as well call it what it was, a breakdown. She'd dealt with it better than you expected, honestly, but she probably would need some time to herself in the long run as everything settled down inside. She'd agreed, and you'd asked Owlia to stay with her for now- besides, it would be good for the two to get to know each other a bit better. At least, that was one reason.

The other was you had just gotten a call, from Sal. And then you remembered the entire reason why you left in the first place. Interdiction's dickery. Just the thought of it brings and annoyed growl out of you as you march to Interdiction's offices, where Sal apparently was.

When you get there, the atmosphere is notably a lot tenser than when you first showed up. There is not a whole lot of people walking around now, but the few that are you notice seem to be constantly looking over their shoulder, several of them giving you a strange look as a uniformed receptionist leads you to the back. She seems young, although older than you, black haired, with a very precise hime-cut, and dressed very primly with a blue pencil skirt and vest combination, and rectangular glasses that you can't seem to see through all the time. She doesn't give you a second look, but you sense an odd aura of restrained malice around her. Funnily enough, you're not sure if it's aimed at you in particular or not.

>Ask about the odd tension in the air.
>Ask what she's mad about.
>Don't say anything at all.
>Other
>>
>>1977937
Iiiii dropped my trip again.
>>
>>1977937
>Don't say anything at all.
>>
>>1977937
>>Don't say anything at all.
Get in, do what we need, get out. Asking questions will do us no favors.
>>
10 more minutes due to start of run.
>>
>>1977937
>Don't say anything at all.
>>
>>1977937
>>1977981
>>1977984
>>1978064
Meh, better to keep quiet. Whatever issues she has is none of your business, and probably won't help you out much anyway. Instead, you let her stew in whatever she's angry about until she reaches a loane hallway with a single door at the end of it. It's only got one name on it- Vesquala. Seems like this is where everything's going down. You both walk up to the door, and the secretary knocks thrice- each a sharp, quick knock, like she'd burned if she touched the door for too long. "Miss Styles here to see you for the resolution of arbitration as requested." Her voice is clipped, too.

"Enter, enter!" the smooth voice of Vesquala purrs out from beyond the threshold. It's got an odd quality to it, this time. There's a timber to it that you can't quite place. As you take hold of the doorknob, you find that the secretary is already turning back. Apparently she considers her job done. Well, fine then.

...you have to admit, you weren't quite expecting the surroundings that meet you. You were expecting either something simple and basic, like a single table with some chairs around it and a few cabinets, or something that was more akin to a palatial stateroom, with large tables and fancy artwork and other such.

Instead, what is revealed to you seems to be something out of a candy maker's dream. Everything's in various pastel colors, from the cotton candy carpet to the chocolate colored shelves. The chairs look like peppermint, she has pencils that seemed to be made of gum, and-

"Raaaaather tasty place, isn't it?" Sal interjects cheekily. He, Nero, and Claudi are all sitting around a long, square table that smells of chocolate and coconut, and you find yourself getting far hungrier than you should be at the moment. You don't even like sweets all that much.

Claudi has a phenomenally grumpy countenance on her face, and she seems to have to restrain herself from sticking her tongue out at you once she sees you enter. Nero is similar, although to your surprise, it seems that most of his ire is focused on his sister, as opposed to you in particular. He actually has enough recognition of you to at least give you a very slight nod.

And at the far end, Vesquala sits, waving her upper body side-to-side sadly and slowly- and almost without seeing it happen, she snakes forward, towards a bowl of bonbons, and buries her face in them, gathering a number of them in her mouth before rearing back and swallowing them all with repeating snuffling noises. Kind of reminded you of a snake eating a rat, really... But then again considering her normal appearance, you suppose it makes sense.

cont.
>>
>>1978297
She doesn't acknowledge even till she finishes swallowing, but when she does she seems to look upon you with respect. "Greetings, greetings, dear division leader." Oh yeah. That. "Myself and Salavalda have discussed greatly, discussed greatly. It is rather clear that the fault lies with my own little ones...and so it has been decreed that you deserve recompense." She lets out a small hiss of discontent, but otherwise doesn't say anything.

"Since it was yooooour division that was involved, it's up to you to approve the punishment," Sal explains. "We've decided that a small monetary compensation is in oooooooorder, along with their temporary requisition for our purposes."

"Beg pardon?" you find yourself asking.

"Means theeeeey'll be working for us for a bit, super-star. Gratis, and under yoooooou!" Oh. OH. "Send 'em on jobs for us, maybe have them play maid, or gopher, whatever you like!" you suspect that the sound from his mouth after that is meant to be some sort of snicker. "Unleeeeeessss you've got yourself a better idea. I daresay we can bat it around."

Hm...

>"I'll be sure to make good use of them. Thank you for the temporary gift."
>"Maybe we could just make it monetary recompense?"
>"Actually..."(input a suggestion here)
>>
>>1977937
>>Don't say anything at all.
>>
>>1978301
>"I'll be sure to make good use of them. Thank you for the temporary gift."
It’s the deal that our bosses came up with, I doubt we can come up with a better one.
>>
>>1978301
>>"Maybe we could just make it monetary recompense?"
i think that the raw cash influx will be better than sending them on jobs....well, that depends in how much they will pay us vs the ammount of time they will be with us.
>>
>>1978301
>>"I'll be sure to make good use of them. Thank you for the temporary gift."
>>
Locked. They will be ours for now.

Writing!
>>
>>1978301
>>"I'll be sure to make good use of them. Thank you for the temporary gift."
If we're smart, we can send them on paying jobs and take the reward when they finish. Might even get more cash that way than taking the straight cash option.
>>
>>1978301
>>1978326
>>1978351
>>1978364
>>1978443
Well...can't really say that's not intriguing on some level. Who knows, might be able to find some use for 'em, or at the very least have them be easy sources of income. "I'll be sure to make good use of them. Thank you for the temporary gift." you're seated, so you can't bow entirely, but a respectful incline of your head seems to send the same message. Vesquala nods similarly, and Claudi sinks even further in her seat, mumbling something. "Can't believe a little prank got me doing this dum-"

And suddenly Vesquala's mouth rips open like a demonic, liquid viper, and there's a stab of actual fear tearing across your heart. Drooling fangs shower silvery spittle as she rounds on the younger girl as something is said, something you can't decipher, don't WANT to decipher, and the eyes of Vesquala are dark, with little more than a pinprick of red light inside that you can barely see.

Nero inhales sharply, and freezes stone still, as if absolute refusal of movement will blind her senses to him.

However the both of you are taking it, though, Claudi has it so, so much worse. It's practically in an instant that all the blood rushes out of her face, and seemingly the rest of her body- an excellent imitation of a corpse. Tears are in her eyes as she looks- is forced to look- square into Vesquala's own demonic, rippling visage. There's a blabbering nothing from her as her entire body convulses harshly, to the point where you think she's going to shake right out of her chair. The smell of...liquid waste carries from her shortly thereafter, but that's clearly not her priority as the liquid form of Vesquala hisses and burbles harshly, fangs dripping only inches from Claudi's face. Her eyes are wide - shocked in the manner of someone that cannot believe their own death is so close, and indeed, if you didn't know the context, you would have guessed the next action would be for her to be swallowed whole.

Which is why you're only a bit surprised when Vesquala pulls back, nodding once at the traumatized girl. Claudi gives a slow, careful, understanding nod back, her eyes never blinking even once.

cont.
>>
>>1978667
And then as if everything just then never happened, Vesquala turns back to you, all smiles and grace. "They will gather their things and be along within the hour, the hour. Thank you, Salavalda and Miranda, for allowing this quick and amicable resolution."

"Nooooooot a problem!" Of course, Sal seems absolutely unconcerned about what just happened. After your farewells, you both head out of the building side by side. Nobody seems to stop you, or even look at you.

Once you're out of the building though, you let out a deep sigh. Sal just chuckles. "Sheeee can be a real firecracker, can't she! Wellllll, I'll go on to welcome our temps. Yoooooou...do you things!" And then he twists in on himself, and that's it.

Grand. Well, you could check up on Lorelei, see how she's doing. Been enough time for her to cool off you think. Same with Izumi or Cylica. Owlia and Mono should still be hanging out together, but you're not sure if you want to intrude on whatever they might be doing. Then again, you can always take some you time and do your own thing for a bit. Maybe pick something new up, or heck, maybe you can just ride around for a bit, see if anything's new around The Intersection.

>What will you do for now?

>Visit Lorelei
>Visit Izumi
>Visit Cylica
>Ride Around (Random Encounter)
>Other
>>
>>1978673
>>Visit Izumi
>>
>>1978673
>Visit Lorelei
Is Sal still pissed at Miranda for her screwup on the Siren contract?
Can’t tell with Dealmakers; you only know you’ve angered them when they want you to know.
>>
>>1978718
You've basically answered your own question.

Nah, he's mostly over it.
>>
>>1978673
>>Ride Around (Random Encounter)

>>1978718
eeeh, that sounds more as sal being sal, or having other things to do.
>>
>>1978673
>>>Ride Around (Random Encounter)
>>
5 minutes to go.
>>
>>1978673
>>Visit Lorelei
>>
Rolled 1 (1d2)

Hm. Thanks to the last minute entry, I guess I'll have to coinflip.

1: Lorelei, how're you doing?
2: Let's take some us time on Red.
>>
>>1978673
>>1978718
>>1978795
>>1978824
Might as well see what Lorelei's doing. Hopefully she's calmed down by the time you get there. Heck, a call probably wouldn't go amiss. Fortunately, she answers on the second ring. "Yo?"

"You alright?" You ask, getting straight to the point. "Figured I'd come over and see how you were holding out."

You can hear a sigh on the other end of the line. "Yeah, I guess. Come on over. Honestly, I could probably use your help with something anyway. I'll tell you more when you get over here." She doesn't elaborate, and you find yourself curious.

"Sure." Goodbyes are made, and Red and you pick up the pace just a little bit.

When you get to Lorelei's apartment, you find her waiting just outside, casually leaning on the wall next to her door. You're not entirely sure why, but she welcomes you in all the same. As you get settled, you notice that she's actually done a bit of rearrangement here and there, she doesn't have quite as many knickknacks lying around, and although the place is still bright, there's a bit more uniformity to it, like she actually put some thought into interior decorating. Can't say you don't approve.

She's quick to offer you some juice, and accepting, you both plop down on her comfortable couch. And then...silence.

You take the time to study her face - and you can tell that for once she's having a bit of difficulty trying to say something to you. Considering what you told her to do before work, you figure the best thing you can do right now is to stay silent and let her focus herself.

It takes a minute before she actually manages to speak up. "Hey, so...I'll just be straight with you. I wanna test out that...projection thing a bit more now. I'd been building up to it in my classes, and she said she'd want to see it if it happens, but I kind of want you to be the first one I really try it on. I mean, y'know, since you were there when it first happened..." She starts to ramble, but a hand on her shoulder cuts her short.

>"You sure you want me here? We got you that expert for a reason."
>"Sure. Do I need to go to sleep again?"
>Other

(Had to deal with something, sorry! Last one for today. Will be back tomorrow, though!)
>>
>>1979055
>>"Sure. Do I need to go to sleep again?"
>>
>>1979055
>>"Sure. Do I need to go to sleep again?"
>>
>>1979055
>>"Sure. Do I need to go to sleep again?"
>>
>>1979055
>"Sure. Do I need to go to sleep again?"
>>
>>1979055
>>"Sure. Do I need to go to sleep again?"
>>
Gotcha. Writing!
>>
>>1979055
>>1979066
>>1979082
>>1979106
>>1979240
>>1979974
She really wants to do that now? Can't say you're not opposed. "Sure. Do I need to go to sleep again?" considering how this has been messing with her, you'll do whatever's needed in order to help her out.

She seems to have to think about it for a bit, but eventually she shakes her head. "Nah. At least I'm pretty sure no. All you have to do is sit there and just tell me if anything happens. I'm probably going to be out of it for a while if this works... Maybe even if it doesn't. So if I conk out, just bring me home and put me on the couch, I'll be fine."

"Fair enough," you agree. "So...'bring you home'? Where are we going?"

Turns out the answer is 'to the training clinic.' Made sense enough. She'd also managed to wrangle a private room for the two of you- when you questioned her as to how she managed to afford such a thing, she said we brushed you off and said that 'teach is covering it. Perk of being in the class.' You decided not to wonder about it. Before you know it, the two of you are in the middle of the ring. "Right, then, how do we go and start this?" you ask.

"You should be able to just sit down and keep yourself clear. I'm the one who's doing all of the hard stuff!" she says it with a joking manner, you can tell that she's clearly rather worried, looking into her eyes. Still, you just nod and sit down on the floor, as she does the same opposite you. "Okay, so... deep breaths. Let everything go, let yourself feel everything and nothing..." It's more of a mantra for her than for you, and as her eyes close, her breathing goes shallower, and her voice grows softer, until it's nothing but lip movement.

>Roll 1d20, best of three, please, for Lorelei learning 'Camera!'
>>
Rolled 20 (1d20)

>>1982413
>>
Rolled 11 (1d20)

>>1982413
>>
Rolled 4 (1d20)

>>1982413
Failure is always an option.
>>
Rolled 3 (1d20)

>>1982413
...
Drat. Wanted another 20.
>>
File: 1332307726699.jpg (84 KB, 904x528)
84 KB
84 KB JPG
>>1982418
>>
...Well then. This'll be fun. Writing!
>>
>>1982413
>>1982418
>>1982423
>>1982427
>>1982430
>>1982432
It's almost instantaneous as soon as she dips her head - she takes one last big breath, and you can see something warble out of her mouth- as though it was some sort of gas, something that you can only just perceive due to the fact that it seems to distort the air. It seems to freeze mid-air for a moment, and then shivers and fluctuates, before suddenly sparkling with bits of what you recognize is Lorelei's mana. With a shimmer, the gaseous nebula begins to take shape - one that you recognize as it coalesces.

Lorelei still appears a bit out of sorts, but by and large you can tell that that's her; she's lacking pupils and a mouth, but for the most part she seems to be her body, complete with what she just had on.

It takes a few minutes before she seems to register exactly what's going on, seemingly spinning around in confusion. After a moment of that, she turns back to herself, and reels back in surprise, her now-ethereal hair shooting like something out of a cartoon. With sheer confusion, she twists herself to take a look at you, and to your surprise leans forward - well into your personal space as she tries to observe you.

"...Hi?" You give her a little wave, and she seems to giggle a bit- although no sound comes out. Suddenly, she spins in place, and darts forward, and you instinctively try to block, only for something warm to pass through you- and there's a slight tingling in your head that lasts for only a moment before you hear something. "Hellooo? Can you hear me? I think...I think I did it!"

cont.
>>
>>1982553
"Yeah," you mentally affirm; you're not sure if she can hear your thoughts or not, but it's worth an experiment. "I can hear you loud and clear."

"Oh, awesome! I can't believe I actually did that! Wow! I mean, it was still scary, but... I guess I kind of don't feel like I'm not me anymore! That, and...well, having you around helps." She since the last bit quieter, although you hear it just the same.

"Thanks. So, can you do anything in there?" You recall that the last time, she seemed to have some kind of control... You're not exactly keen on giving up your bodily functions again, but...

"Iiiii dunno. I'll need to work on things a bit more, but at the very least, looks like I can hitch a ride with someone...I mean, can you tell I'm, y'know, in here?"

"Sorta," you explain. "It wasn't obvious at first; all I felt was something warm and felt like my head was itching for a second. I don't think I would have noticed if you hadn't spoken up." You can already see how this could come in handy on jobs.

You can hear a bark of laughter that isn't yours in your head. "Sweet! Although...being inside someone's body is really weird. There's like a bunch of things I can hear you thinking, but it's all so fast I can't really grab hold of anything in particular. But I dunno, I feel like maybe I could go further. Maybe I should try that full possession thing? Seeing as I am on a roll at all..."

Oh...so she brought it up. You're not exactly certain what the danger of that could be, but...

>I... I wouldn't recommend it right now. Maybe you should talk with your teacher first.
>I guess we can give it a shot. Just don't mess my head up, alright?
>Maybe we should try practicing something else before we do that. Like reading heads.
>Other
>>
>>1982557
>>I guess we can give it a shot. Just don't mess my head up, alright?
>>
>>1982557
>>I guess we can give it a shot. Just don't mess my head up, alright?
Might as well while we're going to the trouble.
>>
Hm. Only a couple of people, huh? Alright, need another roll, then.

>1d20 - 2 for Lorelei learning 'Action!'
>>
Rolled 19 - 2 (1d20 - 2)

>>1982606
>>
Rolled 5 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

>>1982606
wew
>>1982619
WEW
>>
Rolled 15 - 2 (1d20 - 2)

>>1982606
rollin
>>
Not too shabby! Writing.
>>
>>1982606
>Camera
>Action
Looks like Lorelei is missing a trick.
>>
>>1982557
>>1982570
>>1982576
>>1982619
>>1982621
Again, you're really not the biggest fan of this... but you suppose you can at least let her try. "Okay. I guess we can give it a shot. Just don't mess my head up, alright?" You try to sound a bit joking when you say this, but it just ends up as flat.

"Don't worry, I'll be as careful as possible, I swear." to her credit, she sounds just as sincere about that promise, which does alleviate your concerns just a bit. Considering her chosen line of work, she can be delicate when she feels the need to be, and you get the feeling that it's going to be that which she relies on right now.

It takes her a few minutes, as you can hear a grunting in your head... Seems she might be having a bit of trouble. It's a few minutes of feeling a strange jerking in your left arm before you happen upon an idea - taking a breath, you do your best to empty your own mind of any thoughts- meditation isn't exactly your forte, but you've gotten the idea behind it before. Kind of like how you trance.

It's hard not to react to your arm lifting on its own, but you can feel it rising, as well as your eyes opening when you're pretty sure you didn't cause them to. Like you're watching something in first person, you can see your arm come to you face as Lorelei gently waves it up and down, curling and uncurling the fingers as she tests her control. It's...astounding scary, if you're being honest with yourself, but you do your best to keep calm. "Whoa," Lorelei's voice comes. "This is...pretty wild. I...I'm not sure what to say. Maybe if I..."

It mostly works. Mostly.

But then your legs start moving on their own and it's hard for you to stop yourself from trying to shout in concern. It's like you're trapped in a cage and there's no way out, that something's got you on strings you're not you why can't you talk this isn't you this isn't you this isn't you-

Suddenly, everything convulses, and you gasp for air - everything's blurry, but you don't really recognize it as you collapse to the ground, your head pounding.

You just barely hear someone calling your name as you pass out.

When you wake up, Lorelei's sitting next to you- no, you're in her lap. You're still in the private room. And Lorelei's...

She's sobbing, cradling you close. Your head is still throbbing, and you feel like your throat's sore...but the panic you felt earlier is gone. In fact, you're kind of embarrassed that you freaked out so hard.

But, that's not important right now. Lorelei's cradling you like you were about to die...which you're pretty sure you weren't.

"I'm-I'm s-s-so sorry," Lorelei blurts out. "I though- I thought I had it and then suddenly there was SO MUCH and I couldn't make sense of it all, and-and I started to worry a bit, and then you and...." Losing the strength to speak, she just hugs you tighter.

Still, maybe you should say something...

>"...how long was I out?"
>"Let's not do that again."
>"It wasn't THAT bad. Swear."
>Other
>>
>>1982815
>"It wasn't THAT bad. Swear."
Sooth the Lorelei.
>>
>>1982815
>>"It wasn't THAT bad. Swear."
>>"...how long was I out?"
>>
>>1982815
>>"It wasn't THAT bad. Swear."
>>"...how long was I out?"
It's deeply unsettling, but doesn't seem to be painful or dangerous or anything.
>>
>>1982815
>Other
Pull her into a hug and reassure her that it’s fine. Miranda is more embarrassed that she freaked out at just that; she’s supposed to be the hardened, grizzled veteran of decades, not a newbie that panics as soon as she gives up physical control of her body.
>>
Locked. We're good. Writing!
>>
>>1982815
>>1982822
>>1982838
>>1982848
You have enough strength to pat her on the arm lightly as you try to set up a bit. "It wasn't THAT bad. Swear it." Yup, your voice is hoarse as all get-out, and frankly you feel like you could drink a gallon of water.

"Yeah, right," she sniffles, clearly unconvinced. "I felt you getting scared in there, 'cause I was scared too after a little while, and then I felt you getting scared cuz I was getting scared, and it all just GREW." She looks away, ashamed, but that little bit of information actually settles your head a little bit after you take it in a bit more.

"So, wait... It sounded like there was sort of an emotional feedback loop there - neither of us were really worried at first, but we kept registering the other's fear somehow," you muse. "so it might just be a danger of actually using that - you have to be completely calm if you want to not freak out whoever you're entering." ...why does that sound so lewd?

She laughs at that, only confirming your worries.

Uhh...ah, topic change. "So, how long was I out?"

"For a couple of hours," she responds, mirth quickly dimming. "But I figured we'd take a lot longer than we did to figure it out in the first, so we still got a few minutes left."

Oh...good. Honestly, looking at the both of you, you might need a few minutes to recover.

>Lorelei now has access to the setup 'Lights, Camera, Action!' wherein she can disassociate with her body, and astral project herself to a range of 50 meters. Anyone non-magical or minutely magical in nature won't be able to detect her, while magical individuals will see her mana spirit. She can attempt to possess and 'ride' anyone she comes across- if they are aware of her, it will require a roll, and consecutive rolls to remain in control. If unaware of her (sleeping or just unnoticed) she will remain unnoticed until she attempts to control their body, upon which the rolls will be required.
>>
>>1983064
Okay, gotta go. Will be back later tonight, though.
>>
>>1983067
See you later tonight!
>>
>>1983064
Neat. No Mana cost?
>>
Back.

>>1983281
Oh, no, there's a mana cost, but it's a moderate one. Need to put that in. The thing is that it's offset by the repeated rolls needed to get/keep her in the target body, especially when she gets noticed.
>>
>>1984044
So what`s next. Drinks?
>>
>>1984731
It should be evening, I think?
Also
>"They will gather their things and be along within the hour
>"So, how long was I out?"
>"For a couple of hours,"
Oops. We should maybe deal with them soonish.
>>
>>1984750
Drinks with new staff!
>>
>>1983064
When you leave, you notice a number of people looking at you strangely, but no one says anything, considering you seem to be in good health and in decent moods. Lorelei seems to have bounced back well enough after you got up without needing any help, and showing that you were indeed physically fine. Mentally, too, in defiance of her worries. Having your body jacked, you remind her, HAS happened before.

It's exceedingly *rare* (so far); rare enough to the point where you've forgotten the exact details of the handful of times it's occurred, and Lorelei's recent issues were the first in a loooong time, but it has happened.

It's when you get home that you realize exactly what the cost of passing out was. You actually completely forgot about your two 'temps'.

Nero is nowhere to be found at the moment, and you don't know whether you consider that a good or a bad thing right now. But Claudi, the loudmouth, is sleeping soundly on your couch, sprawled out recklessly, taking up the entire space. There's a healthy eating magazine loosely clutched in her hand, and a 2 liter bottle of soda on the floor, next to an empty place with what looks like a slice of cheesecake on it, all eaten except the crust.

Lorelei can only gawk. "Wow. The utter diamond BALLS on her."

You're not quite certain what word exactly fits how you feel right now. But you feel a lot of it.

>Hold on, you've got an annoyingly loud alarm clock around here somewhere...
>The couch is too good for her. The floor might like to get to know her, though.
>Water to the face is a classic for a good reason.
>No, you can be more creative...(Other)
>>
I swear I thought I'd posted this ages ago.
>>
>>1984770
>>Hold on, you've got an annoyingly loud alarm clock around here somewhere...
>>The couch is too good for her. The floor might like to get to know her, though.
>>Water to the face is a classic for a good reason.
All the Things! Set the alarm clock slightly ahead, then split the water and the floor duties.
>>
>>1984770
>>Hold on, you've got an annoyingly loud alarm clock around here somewhere... keep it out of reach and start playing the most obnoxious multiplayer game we have with Lorelei
>>
>>1984770
> Get her a blanket and a giant glass of water for when she wakes up.

> Leave a note saying you would like to talk to her in the morning

Nothing like being classier than people who think they're above you.

Alternatively

> Hand in a bowl of warm water. Yeah, you'll have to clean your couch but you can always get a new one. The story of "The one time you came over piss drunk and then just pissed literally"? That's forever.

Ideally, do the warm water first and then leave the kind note and drinking water.
>>
>>1984770
>No, you can be more creative...
Her handler. Describe it to Lorelei, and set up an illusion of her Dealmaker being pissed AGAIN.
>>
>>1984770
If possible this:>>1984809
If not
>Hold on, you've got an annoyingly loud alarm clock around here somewhere...
>>
>>1984770
Go with >>1984784
Keep the illusion trick for when she does something REALLY ballsy
>>
>>1984770
>Hand in a bowl
Yes, we are that petty
>>
>>1984770
> Blanket, water, and hand in a bowl


She won't know what to think of us.
>>
>>1984770
I can support the "hand in a bowl of warm water" prank.

I'm also tempted just to sit on her, though.
>Claudi: "Get! Off!"
>Miranda: "Lorelei! My couch is talking!"
>>
>>1984770
>Hold on, you've got an annoyingly loud alarm clock around here somewhere...
>>
Hi! Locked, we're being petty yet not yet we totally are.
>>
>>1984770
>>1984795
>>1984969
>>1985020
>>1985094
There's a few pregnant seconds of you debating on what exactly to do. You could be that little bit more responsible and just wake her up...but then again, even you need some occasional mischief. Maybe there's a way to marry the two. "Get a blanket," you tell Lorelei as you head to the kitchen.

You'd often heard about this little prank, but you never actually tried it out yourself. Always seemed a bit too...messy. But then again, this girl seem to be a living mess herself. Might as well make it worth it.

A few minutes later, you got her tucked in well with a warm blanket, a glass of water...and a little extra, with a note taped on her forehead with a simple message on it: "Sorry about being late. Hope you had a nice nap. Get cleaned up, and we'll talk later." After shooing a continually giggling Lorelei out of your apartment, you decide it's high time to bed down for now.

The bowl of warm water her hand slowly drifts in shouldn't get cold for a while.

----

Sleep is pretty normal, no dreams to speak of. Of course, when you wake up, after going through your morning abulations, you're not very surprised to bear witness to a very annoyed Claudi sitting in your kitchen chair. She looks up to you with something resembling a glare, but it seems like she's far too tired to give it any bite.

The two of you lock eyes for a few moments, neither of you blinking. Eventually, she breaks the silence. "He told me to come over. I did. You didn't show for ages. I figure 'whatever, I'll take a nap until she gets here.' And then I wake up having pissed myself WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TWELVE?!" Oh, wait, there's the anger.

>Response?
>>
>>1985457
"Twelve and a HALF!"
>>
>>1985457
You should have used a coaster.
>>
For real though this was such a fucking stupid thing to do I've no idea how to even begin to salvage this.

This is what happens when you act like a TWELVE YEAR OLD
>>
>>1985481
shut up claudi
>>
Pfthah. Hokay, writing.
>>
>>1985457
>technically its seventeen.
>You could have called me.

doesnt she has our contact?
>>
>>1985526
> Your first job is to clean the couch
>>
>>1984969
>>1985481
>complaining about an action you voted for
>>
>>1985537
You saying that's out of character for a 12 yo??
>>
>>1985541
??no??
>>
>>1985547
whatever, ugh!
>>
>>1985457
>>1985468
>>1985471
>>1985530
>>1985533
"Twelve and a HALF, if you want to get snippy about it." you respond. "Also you could have used a coaster. Or called me. You know, instead of just waiting?"

"Well, how was I supposed to know you weren't doing something important?" she hits back. "Or is this place just that small that you don't have anything better to do all day?" Honestly, it's weak provocation. And even she knows that judging by the blush on her face.

It's for that reason that you decide not to rise to her bait. "Your first task is cleaning the couch."

"Oh, screw you!" But, to her credit, she doesn't argue that as she gets up. You had a mind to offer her breakfast, but you're not sure if she's eaten or not already. "And what am I supposed to do after that, almighty leader? Do I get your shopping? Dust the walls? Am I just going to be your in-house maid for a week or what?"

Well, while that's admittedly tempting, you did have some other plans in mind for her. Then again, if she's going to be so difficult, you're not sure exactly how well that'll go down with her. You've got a number of ideas, you suppose. But first... "No. I was considering the idea that you do a few jobs for us."

She rolls her eyes at that. "Not surprised. Got someone like me on the payroll, you better make use of it. So, what kinda job first, then? I'm Interdiction- I'm fucking good at anything."

>A solo Enforcer job.
>A solo Courier job.
>Take your pick, so long as you do it well.
>You're going to ride with someone. (Pick an individual.)
>Other
>>
>>1985613
>>A solo Enforcer job.
>>
>>1985613
I am sorely tempted to send her on courier milk runs for a whole week. She deserves much worse for what she did but I think this is what will piss her off the most.

This is definitely the best course of action.
>>
>>1985613
Are there any jobs open for training a group of up-and-coming superhero team or magical girl squad? I could go for that. We might even be able to squeeze something extra out of it, due to her experience.

Plus, we get to annoy her indirectly by putting her with a bunch of kids.
>>
>>1985613
>>A solo Enforcer job. after cleaning our apartment.
>>
>>1985646
If everyone has the sense to not back my idea I'm throwing in with this
>>
>>1985613
changing from >>1985633
to >>1985646
>>
>>1985613
>>A solo Enforcer job.
ideally something like
>>1985646
Enforcer should pay better, which means we get more money.
>>
Hmmm...writing.
>>
Bonus points if they are, in fact, 12 year olds
>>
>>1985613
>>1985633
>>1985646
>>1985647
>>1985653
>>1985654
>>1985682
"You're going to be going on a solo job," you say primly as you reach out for your FarSight. You got just the type for her, too...

>Dancing Robostars: A job that involves being a combat trainer on a group of robo-idol magical girls that apparently lost their trainer in a fight. They're deep in the lurch because the same force that caused them to lose their trainer is actively after them. They need someone extremely skilled and untraceable to put the girls through their ropes quickly and efficiently, and to provide backup should things get dicey.
>Riders: Minimal Collateral Damage
>Pay: 18 Motes

>Thrill Killing: A number of young, evil magical girls capable of transforming into monsters have been created to counter the local heroines. Problem is, they are, to be frank, inept. They are calling for a trainer from Beyond in order to whip them into shape so they're both loyal and deadly. The trainer is not expected to battle the heroines nor will any extra pay be granted for unwanted altercations.
>Riders: None
>Pay: 15 Motes

>Soldiers on Parade: A magical military school is calling upon it's experts to summon and contract trainers and freelance opposition for the purpose of giving their Cadets unique challenges that they wouldn't be able to find locally, in an effort to increase their experience levels and provide them with opportunities they wouldn't be able to get normally. Expected to have an extensive, thorough schedule of combat trials with various win conditions.
>Riders: Merciful Hand (No Killing), Minimal Collateral Damage.
>Pay: 24 Motes

Not much else in the way of tutors wanted, it seems...
>>
>>1985833
>Dancing Robostars
>>
>>1985833
>>Thrill Killing
>>
>>1985833
Soldiers on Parade is tempting, but
>Dancing Robostars
is so much more amusing, gotta go with it.
>>
I'm not gonna make the obvious joke here. I'm just gonna say 'writing!'
>>
>>1985833
soldiers on parade
>>
>>1985833
>>1985845
>>1985860
"Here. This one," you point out.

She's quick to take a look - and visibly you recoil this as though you just told her to take a dip in lava. "You're fucking joking, right?"

You shake your head, keeping as serious an expression and tone as possible. "No. This is what you're doing now. And I expect never-before-seen results."

The look she gives you is one that can't seem to decide whether it wants to be pouty or absolutely in a rage. But, at the end of the day, she just nods. "Ffffffffiiinne. I'll train the chassis off of those stupid toys. Don't worry about gear, I've got my own." She turns away from you, grabbing out the house. "Not like I'd want any of your junk stuff anyway..." you can hear her mutter as she closes the door a little bit harder than she really should.

'She'll be fiiiiiiiine,' Sal's voice comes from nowhere. You only sort of believe him, but before anything else you get a buzz on your phone. A message? That's uncommon...ah.

It's from Zander.

'Ey there! I, uh, wasn't sure if it was right ta call ya just then. member our deal? We kin have that scrap whenever, I remembered yer an Outgoer, so if you gotta make a rain check or just wanna have some lunch or somethin' then that's fine! Just let me know! thanks!

>Respond to him positively, you're good for a sparring session.
>Respond negatively, take a rain check for now.
>Put it off for now, you're not even sure yourself.
>Other
>>
Paused for today! Will resume tomorrow!
>>
>>1986142
>Other: Respond neutrally. We’ll do it because we keep our word.
>>
>>1986142
this
>>1986184
I really don't like this guy, but a deal is a deal.
>>
>>1986142
>Respond to him positively, you're good for a sparring session.

Time to take out some aggression.
>>
>>1986142
>Respond to him positively, you're good for a sparring session.
>>
>>1986184
This.
>>
>>1986142
I'll back >>1986184
lets get this over with
>>
>>1986142
>>Respond to him positively, you're good for a sparring session.
>>
>>1986142
>Respond to him positively, you're good for a sparring session.
>>
>>1986184
This.
>>
>>1986142
>>1986142
> Respond to him positively, you're good for a sparring session.
>>
>>1986184
This
>>
>>1986142
>>Respond to him positively, you're good for a sparring session.
>>
>>1986142
Oooh exciting.
>>
>>1986142
> Respond to him greedily, you're good for a sparring session.

> Add another bet to the outcome. One of us has to help the other on a mission at an unspecified later date.

Haha you thought this would be a tie breaker!
>>
>>1986142
>>Respond to him positively, you're good for a sparring session.
>>
>>1984770
I agree with >>1986184, respond neutrally.
>>
>>1986142
>>1986184
Positively neutral
>>
Huh. Okay, neutral it is. Also hi, sorry I'm latecoming, but yeah.
>>
>>1989231
> All these new IDs on both sides for a controversial vote barely splitting it.

I'm sure we'll see all of them contribute later.
>>
>>1989252
Wouldn't that be a dream?
>>
>>1988538
>>1988140
>>1986991
>>1986215
>>1986207
>>1986215

HEY GUYS GLAD YOU COULD JOIN US.
>>
>>1989257
It would be wouldn't it.

It's okay though. Waifus ruin quests.
>>
>>1989258
Happy to be here
>>
>>1989258
You know you can hover over the poster's ID to see how many posts they've made, right?
>>
Ah, he's right. Some are indeed multiple.

Awesome. Anyway, writing still!
>>
>>1989287
He's probably a salty positive voter with a new id.
>>
>>1986142
>>1986184
>>1986215
>>1988071
>>1986952
>>1988514
>>1988538
Best to just stick with what you know. 'Alright. Gave my word. Today?'

'If yur free! Still knackered from work- we can just have it physical today, no blowin up stuff. Meet @ Warly's Gym, not clinic. Here's address.'

Hm. Fair with you. Although you have to admit you were thinking that he would be rather eager to try and do more like what happened the other day. You could use a bit more of a physical workout, you suppose. You've been relying on your magical a lot recently- all well and good, but you try to keep yourself in top form for any situation.

Picking out your gym wear - the green shorts and tanktop combination, you quickly double check exactly where that gym was- it's in a neighborhood area around the Eatery District- a place more settled by families that are in such a business, if you recall. Sparing a bit of worry in the hopes that Claudi will live up to her reputation, you quickly head out to rev up Red and set off.

Warly's Gym is a typical thing, a bit worn, but clearly still in business- and lively at that. It's a simple building, red and white colored with a big 'Warly's Gym' neon logo flashing up top. It's out near the left side of the district, bordering on the Festival District's limits. Made sense enough, you suppose. While there's still a good number of vehicles around, you find a place to park easy enough.

Inside, there's a small foyer with a young lady casually reading a book, while a pair of kids are sitting on the floor off to the side of a desk. They don't seem to be working though; they're far too busy playing some sort of card game. The receptionist takes one look at you and rears back a little, eyes searching your face. "You look familiar..."

"She's the lass I was talkin' bout!" A familiar voice says off to your left. Zander approaches with all the joy of someone who just has no worries in the world.

"Oh, her?" the girl says nothing more, merely smirking a bit before looking back to you and simply shrugging.

"Yup." He seems relieved when she doesn't say anything more, turning to you. "An' glad you found the place okay! Wanna get started?"

You shrug. "Sure." His grin falters a little bit at that, but he nods animatedly and shows you to a spare part of the floor. Really, it's actually kind of cozy in here. There's not an acre of room or more like at the clinic, but the number of individuals isn't so much that you feel crowded. More like a casual group exercise... which in a way you suppose it is.

"Right, thanks for keepin' with this. Honestly kinda thought ya might not wanna!" Part of you wonders if that's supposed to mean something, but you can't detect anything in his voice as he begins stretching. "Wanna go ta first fall or cry uncle? 'Gainst the rules to draw blood 'ere, and same for goin' till lights out."

>First fall.
>Tap out.
>Until we're satisfied.
>Other
>>
>>1989405
>Tap out.
He claims he's tired from work, so no going all out.
>>
>>1989405
>>First fall.
Quick and easy.
>>
>>1989405
>Tap out.
We should work on our ground game.
>>
>>1989405
>>Tap out.
>>
>>1989405
>Tap out.
It'd be over too fast otherwise.
>>
>>1989405
Tap tap tap. Not dancing, though.

And no stupid shirts.
>>
Rolled 88 (1d100)

>>1989515
What do you have against the shirts?
>>
>>1989405
>>1989421
>>1989427
>>1989429
>>1989507

"We'll just go until someone taps," you decide.

"Fair 'nough!" he agrees. "I'm still trying to shake off today anyway - was a pretty busy one for once, believe it or not!"

"Good to hear," you acknowledge as you warm up yourself. It's really been a while since you've trained outside of the clinic... You're going to have to remember that you're mostly dulled when it comes to powers anyway. Just as well; training this way will help to keep you on your toes and not rely on taking punishment. Could be useful.

After the both of you stretch well enough, you take positions. At a wordless nod, the both of you rush each other.

It's kind of a strange thing, fighting without any augmentations. You feel a bit more sluggish than normal, less 'there'. No time to really worry about that though, as you dodge another strike and try to get a hold on the ascending limb - he twists just out of your range before you can get a solid grip on him, though, and you end up having to fend off a few attempts at him latching onto you in turn. "Think the other day did me real nice- got a lot of folks coming in ta ask 'bout me," he says casually as he tries to size you up. "Best business we've had in a minute, y'know?" he just barely manages to step back from an attempted trip- you do manage to pursue however, and get him on the ground in half-mount; you got his arm pinned, and he's working to struggle out of it- he bucks once, and you misjudge how much pressure you needed to put on him, and he scrambles back up as you do.

The two of you circle each other again as you wait for an opening...

>Roll 1d20, best of 3 for how the whole thing goes.
>>
Rolled 18 (1d20)

>>1989710
Here we go.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d20)

>>1989710
>>
Rolled 4 (1d20)

>>1989710
rollin
>>
>>1989726
Well, I'm glad Handler doesn't take crits
>>
huh. Interesting.

Writing!
>>
>>1989774
For the best when it's best of 3 d20.
>>
>>1989710
>>1989715
>>1989726
>>1989766
The rest of the fight goes similarly back and forth for quite some time- it's pretty clear that Zander has a lot more experience than you and simply moving his body without any extra force - you actually wind up taking a few notes as to how he seems to avoid moving until the very last moment, letting his body flow freely, and yet with little excess movement - it's, as far as you can tell, like he has absolute control of his natural reflexes, and allows them to influence him only to the amount that he's making the maximum amount of movement with the minimum amount of effort. Very similar yet completely different to what you fought in the ring the other day, and you have to strongly focus in order to keep him away from your body.

At one point, you grab on to his shoulder, intending to wrench his whole arm, only for him to shift all of MAYBE an inch and practically throw you clear across the ring. Honestly, you're pretty glad that you didn't go to first fall, and as you stare at him upside down, flat on the mat, you're not sure whether he's grinning in satisfaction of a good tussle, or grinning at the fact that he's got you gawking. Maybe both. "Like that one, huh? There's a skill 'hind that one. Might tell you later!" Well... At least you got him sweating. As you get back up, you managed to prevent him from trying to get a hand on you and tackle a leg. It doesn't last very long though before he manages to shake you off, and the two of you are even yet again.

cont.
>>
>>1990014
There's a few minutes of live-fire 'research' and struggling to break his defense that's really more him being a slipper SOB before you finally catch a break- he steps just a little bit too wide, a bit too slow, and you manage to use that to get into his guard, slipping around him and applying a half nelson choke hold as you drag him down to the ground. It's only a few seconds of struggling before he finally taps. "Hokay, hokay, uncle!" He's breathing hard, and it doesn't let up as you let him go finally. "Yikes, that...that was fun!" He takes a moment to swallow some air before he continues. "Woof. Sweatin' up a storm. What about you?"

You're honestly rather smelly yourself. "I'm fine, I guess." ...Not that you have to say that.

"Not much of a fall-down fighter, is ya?" He guesses correctly. "Seems like you're more o' the sort to trade punches."

You nod. "I am. Tends to work out better."

"Oh yeah, no arguments there," he nods. "Some folks r' slippery, acourse. You got me because I slipped up, though. Good on ya for that."

After you get up, the both of you go through a very brief cool down. "So, jus' what was all that going on the other day with Innerdiction? I heard they screwed up your mate's fight."

"Just some stupidity on the girl's part," you answer. "They're making it up to us. One's on a job right now."

He lets out a whistle - clearly he knows the severity of the situation, or can at least make a guess. "Wowza, nice. So...I guess that means you got a little bit a extra time?"

>I suppose in some respect, yeah. Why?
>Not really. I'm looking at taking a solo job soon.
>Other
>>
>>1990022
>>Not really. I'm looking at taking a solo job soon.
>>
>>1990022
>>Not really. I'm looking at taking a solo job soon.
>>
>>1990022
>>Not really. I'm looking at taking a solo job soon.
>>
>>1990022
>Not really. I'm looking at taking a solo job soon.
>>
Agh, I have to go, but I'll be back later tonight.
>>
>>1990022
>Not really. I'm looking at taking a solo job soon.

So what are people looking for in a gaifu?
>>
>>1991273
A husbando? Nothing. Romance in quests is a bad idea in general. Anons are lonely and horny, any /potential/ romance will be relentlessly pursued, often to the detriment of things like plot and character development.
If the quest is built around it, sure go for it, but otherwise it tends to bog things down terribly.
>>
>>1991381
I believe that Miranda would not pursue romance because she's committed to her work. She believes in her job and the accumulation of Motes, as that's her life and she feels content in it. Romance would mean an investment of Motes and time which could have been spent on getting Motes.

Also she seems the type to prefer mature men who are about financial security and relaxing when back home.
>>
>>1991381
It also has a nasty habit of causing waifu wars; no one wins those. Look at what happened with the >>1991381 vote when the faintest possibility of romance was on the cards. That is only the smallest fraction of what romance can do to a quest.
>>
>>1991468
Meant to link >>1986142 on second link.
>>
And I'm back.
>>
>>1991503
Welcome back.

>>1991273
Personally, I believe that waifus can cause character development and interesting plotlines, but will concede to the fact that it can become intrusive if done incorrectly. With that in mind, Miranda is disinterested in relationships, which is why she wouldn't pursue Zander. However, if he does somehow manage to break away Miranda's shell and get with her, then I'm all for it. It's fun character development, after all. But again, only if it's unobtrusive to the main quest. I'll swear off romance if it's uninteresting, or if it brings the plot to a halt.

That being said, he's certainly an interesting foil to Miranda, so I like him. Also because Yuri a shit.
>>
>>1990022
>>1990037
>>1990041
>>1990046
>>1990075
>>1991273
You shake your head. You aren't really interested in laying around right now - for more than one reason. You can appreciate some time off as well as the next person. Can and have, in fact. But you're not really too eager at the moment to lay about just yet. You had plenty of relaxation watching Mono, but honestly? "Not really. I'm looking at taking a solo job soon. It's been too long since I've been on my own, and I feel like I need to get back into that groove."

"Oh, right, yeah..." he seems a bit distant saying it, looking around, but he doesn't disapprove. "Makes sense, I s'pose. Don't hurt yourself to not get too rusty." He sighs in exhaustion as he picks himself up. "I suppose I was asking 'cause...eh, nevahmind." He chuckles a bit to himself ruefully before he gives a stretch. "Nevahmind. Showers are through thataway, yeah?" He points off the the direction he's walkin. "You kin clean up there and get goin'." Hm. Different from him.

It doesn't take you too long to shower off, clean up, and return out in more standard clothing. Zander's already out as well, and you find him leaning against the wall, right before the exit to the reception area. "Thanks fer comin' out n' sufferin' a bloke like me, yeah? Don't worry too 'ard about the next time, I'll just letcha know when's fair. Trust me, got plenty more skills in me back pocket to land you flat!" His grin shows up again, still bright, if less blinding.

>"Just how'd you DO that, anyway? Couldn't have been magic."
>"Looking forward to it. See you around."
>"You're not the only one. I've learned a lot in my days."
>Other
>>
>>1991909
>>"Looking forward to it. See you around."
>>
>>1991909
>"Looking forward to it. See you around."
>>
>>1991909
>"Looking forward to it. See you around."

And in passing:

>"Just how'd you DO that, anyway? Couldn't have been magic."
>>
>>1991909
>"Just how'd you DO that, anyway? Couldn't have been magic."

Something new at 90 is worth looking into.

>>1991759
> Yuri a shit

Yes.
>>
Locked, back, sorry!

Writing.
>>
>>1991909
>>1991986
>>1992051
>>1992144
>>1992199
You just nod as you walk past him. "Looking forward to it." A quick wave, and he's already past your view. "See you around."

"Riiight..." actually, wait a minute.

You stop, and you turn around to face him, a question on your lips. "Just how'd you DO that, anyway? Couldn't have been magic."

To that, his eyes light up with that familiar shine, and he just grins that too-clever-by-half grin. "Trade secret. Spent nigh on twenty years learnin' it, an' a bunch of other stuff from an old man back where I used to be. Impress me enough next go-round an' I'll show ya! Whole lot more you can do with what I did ta pull that off, trust me." He gets that smug look on his face, and you just decide that it's better off that you get going before he starts up himself.

It's later than you'd like... but you weren't kidding when you said you were looking for a solo job. It's been some time.

Maybe you should fix that.

>Look for a job?
>Actually, you need to do something else...
>>
>>1992435
>>Actually, you need to do something else...
Hey, did we ever get our weapons back from being treated?

If so, skip to
>Look for a job?
>>
>>1992448
Yes.
>>
>>1992435
>Look for a job?
>>
>>1992435
>Look for a job?
>>
>>1992435
>>Look for a job?
It's been way too long since the last solo job.
>>
>>1992532
So, what kinds of jobs do you all want to see? Something contemporary, like dresden file or similar, sounds like it could be fun. We haven't been on anything Sci-Fi yet, either.
>>
Alrighty...You'll have the night to pick these out. Writing!
>>
>>1992435
>>1992448
>>1992468
>>1992473
>>1992532


>Total Blackout
>Assassin needed for a serious job. A cabal of magical gangsters are harassing a very, very good friend of mine who's actually trying to help make this world a bit less of a shithole. Problem is, they're one of the most powerful gang families on the continent. Well, too bad for them. I want them scattered to the four fucking winds, and I'm willing to pay whatever it costs. NO one hurts my sweetie-cakes except me.
>Riders Added: Minimum Collateral Damage
>Total Offered Payment: 25 Large Motes

>Warzone Recovery
>We've lost something extremely valuable in a very contested area between ourselves and the opposition, and we're lacking real manpower- we have just enough to fund this, but if we send our heavy hitters out now...it's a hellacious situation we're in, so we're willing to spend whatever we can to guarantee its recovery and safe return- not that we have too much. We need to retrieve it, at any cost, and it's probably going to involve near impossible odds...so, we're hoping for a super-soldier.
>Riders Added: None
>Total Offered Payment: 23 Large Motes

>Ending The Game
>This damn 'game' has cost too many lives. This is our last chance. Our last draw of the cards. They're giving us one last 'summon', so we need it to be one hell of a call. We need you to represent our team, find the way out of this place, and destroy these people holding this sick 'death game'! We'll do whatever it takes! There's more than us in here, and we're trying to get everyone out!
>Riders Added: Minimal Collateral Damage/Non-Lethal Force Requested
>Total Offered Payment: 21 Large Motes

>Evening the Odds
>Captain Zenma...he's done enough to Avos City, trying to hold it in his iron, callous grip. To the point of hiring extra-dimensional forces. They're running rampant over the people, and there's too much for the Neo Grandia Force to stop- things are going the way of anarchy! Things are at their limit... So we're going to take a page out of his book. We're help us shred apart his forces! We dislike the idea of having to pay for assistance...but it seems that's our best bet. So our checkbooks are open!
>Riders Added: Minimal Civilian Casualties
>>Total Offered Payment: 22 Large Motes
>>
>>1992935
>Total Blackout
>Assassin needed for a serious job. A cabal of magical gangsters are harassing a very, very good friend of mine who's actually trying to help make this world a bit less of a shithole. Problem is, they're one of the most powerful gang families on the continent. Well, too bad for them. I want them scattered to the four fucking winds, and I'm willing to pay whatever it costs. NO one hurts my sweetie-cakes except me.
>Riders Added: Minimum Collateral Damage
>Total Offered Payment: 25 Large Motes

Murder everyone on the opposition and all we have to do is not destroy all the infrastructure? Sure.
>>
>>1992935
>>Total Blackout
>>
>>1992935
>>Warzone Recovery
>>
>>1992935
>Warzone Recovery
Might be good to live test our sticky bomb technique, else I'll go with everyone else and say Blackout
>>
>>1992935
>>Total Blackout
>>
>>1992935
>>Warzone Recovery
>>
Page 10 warning btw
>>
>>1992935
>>Warzone Recovery
>>We've lost something extremely valuable in a very contested area between ourselves and the opposition, and we're lacking real manpower- we have just enough to fund this, but if we send our heavy hitters out now...it's a hellacious situation we're in, so we're willing to spend whatever we can to guarantee its recovery and safe return- not that we have too much. We need to retrieve it, at any cost, and it's probably going to involve near impossible odds...so, we're hoping for a super-soldier
>>
>>1992935
>Total Bllackout
>>
>>1992935
>Total Blackout
I'd like to see those gangsters' powers.
>>
>>1992935
>>Warzone Recovery
Sounds like a good opportunity to properly let loose.
>>
>>1992935

>Total Blackout

WE GOT BILLS
>>
>>1992935
>>Total Blackout
>>
Rolled 1 (1d2)

>>1992935
I can't decide,
>1)Total blackout
Possible Pros: fun assassin shenanigans, big pay, disguises, muh keikaku doori
Possible Cons: magic bullshit, annoying targets, dice gods fuck us over

>2)Warzone Recovery
Possible Pros: practice sticky bomb technique, gotta go fast, gotta be sneaky, kaboom
Possible Cons: "oops dropped the [valuable]!", annoying enemies, everything is much faster than us, robots/technology is a dick, dice gods fuck us over
>>
>>1992935

> Blackout.
>>
Greetings! New thread incoming!
>>
>>1992978
>>1993197
>>1993232
>>1993254
>>1993277
>>1993295
>>1993308
>>1993515
>>1993574
>>1993617
>>1993632
>>1993680
>>1993796
>>1993879

New thread!

>>1994212
>>1994212
>>1994212

I'm gonna enjoy this one.




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