5628/System Tower re:APPEAR

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System Tower re:APPEAR
Date of Scene: 11 January 2018
Location: The System <TS>
Synopsis: The true nature of the System Tower, and the person behind it, is revealed.
Cast of Characters: Lexicon, 1103, Rebecca Chambers, 707, Deelel, Yomi Isayama, 1137

Lexicon has posed:
    The System Hub. If there was any doubt that the System was a digital realm when looking upon the Drives that most programs call home, the Hub itself should cast away all sense of doubt. Everything looks like circuit parts. Digitized light runs in lines from structure to structure, converging on the centralized Spire-- currently with a vibrant green glow. The Skybox is in mid-rotation, black on one side and blue on the other, the 'sun' setting while the 'moon' rises, blended together in a smear of purples, blues, and blacks throughout most of the sky.

    Something is here that does not belong. A familiar, impossibly tall black tower, occupying an empty plot of terrain on the Hub's surface. It has the same smooth, ominous, monolith-like presence it always has had.

    In front of the doors, a small figure in a blue gown stands with her arms folded behind her back, rabbit-like ears straight and attentive. Beside her, an old weather-worn tome floats.

    A white streak ascends from the Britannica System Bus, cirling briefly and then rocketing straight for the Tower. Silver Soul, known by many as Lexicon, wastes no time in slamming down just a few meters from Bunnabelle, knees bent but not bothering to use a hand to steady herself. When she straightens, red eyes acknowledge the doll girl, then shoot to the tower. And that's when she starts.

    The floor plaque beside the door prominently displays, in glowing letters: 100

Theurgus (1103) has posed:
    A chromatic streak ascends from the Locus System Bus, making a ballistic arc towards the Tower. Theurgus doesn't make such an... impactful landing, coming down in a sharp attack, then trailing up to hover along the ground, before she releases her transformation and walks the last few steps, blue eyes turning from Lexicon, to Bunnabelle, then locking onto the Tower's plaque.

    Charta, the small fairy seated on an open book, floats down beside the Diamond DCC, looking troubled. "Yes... this is most troubling... The data all matched, exactly, down to the nanocycle of resource drop, to restoration, each time. This lead me to check historical records of Tower appearances in Locus... the similarities on a much grander scale were mortifying." she relates. "I did not want to bring this up to anyone until I was certain, now I am. The Tower was appearing in the Hub, and being cleared by someone."

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
The System. A familiar place for Rebecca.

She's been here quite often and has become more accustomed to how things work here. She understands more about what goes on here, how things work here, and what to expect. So when she gets word about what's happening, she wastes no time in getting there as quickly as she can.

Upon arriving, Rebecca spots the tower immediately, and her eyes widen a little, knowing that this is definitely not right. Her lips open a little and her teeth grit, although it's more of uneasiness than anger or discontent.

Despite this, Rebecca turns to salute Bunnabelle, but says nothing for the time being. The arrival of Lexicon does startle Rebecca a little, but other than that she seems mostly quiet.

It's not until the number 100 appears that she shakes her head and snaps out of her state of mind, replacing her nervousness with determination. "Get with it, Becky! You're an Elite on a mission, now start acting like one!" Her expression turns a bit more stern. "All right, it's clear that something's not right, now it's up to us to fix it!" She says to the others gathered.

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
The sound of Xiaomu's lightcycle may be less or more familiar to the System's Administrators, but either way, the sage fox from Shinra is closing in at a pretty fast clip --

Correction: the lightcycle brakes to a relatively smooth halt behind Lexicon, and the vehicle de-rezzes out from under Xiaomu as she goes from 'straddling' to 'standing' in a relatively casual motion, unslinging her staff in the process. "What's up in this thread, ladies? Came as quick as I could once I heard."

Deelel has posed:
It was a bit strange to Deelel but The System Hub? It was still a place for other programs it was close enough that she didn't feel out of sorts here like she did in most of the multiverse. She was glad to help and here she was. She was clad in an outfit which looked like it could be like someone from off her world tried to mimic her world's style of dress. Her adventuring clothes were a fairly standard sight.

"Greetings programs!"

Old habits die hard doubly so when it might be coded into part of whom you are. She too had arrived by lightcycle but the craft was in the process of de-rezzing back into it's baton form. She almost gives Xiaomu a hug when she sees her long time friend.

"Good to see you Xiaomu but it would be best to catch up when things are not so grim

Yomi Isayama has posed:
Despite his size, Ranguren makes surprisingly little sound when he runs. Perhaps he's being careful not to leave footprints all along the streets of Britannica. As he approaches the tower, the great beast begins to fade away, and Yomi hops off his back in the last few moments before he discorporates. "Oh hey. Floor one hundred? I hadn't realized we'd gotten that high, Lexi." The exorcist pats a hand on Lexicon's shoulder and smiles. "You know I'm always glad to help you out."

Yomi glances back and gives a brief nod to the others in attendance. She's seen all of them at least once before. "Looks like I'm not the only one who feels this way. Good to see all of you!" Xiaomu, specifically, gets a poke in the arm and a grin. "We still need to sit down sometime when some world or another isn't in danger, you know."

Asterios (1137) has posed:
There is another 'great beast' of sorts approaching the tower. A tremendous form of muscle and sinew, bounding across the digital landscape in great, vaulting leaps. It has horns on its head and a great, white mane of hair and looks in all ways to be some kind of...

No, /the/ Minotaur.

The colossus comes to a halt near the mouth of the tower, skidding to an abrupt halt amidst a cloud of scattered, digital dirt. "Aa. Small ones are... Alright? No need to rescue this time?"

Lexicon has posed:
    "We're here!" a small voice calls out. Several meters back, Index leans out from behind one of the Hub's support structures. A second later, Codex leans out above her. Both wave at Asterios, then squeak and duck back out of sight when Lexicon shoots a glare their direction. Her gaze wanders further, nodding to Asterios, then Yomi after that.

    "Mister Asterios," Bunnabelle speaks up, "Miss Isayama, Miss DLL, miss Chambers, miss Xiaomu, Lady Diamond Soul, Lady Silver Soul." The researcher nods once with each name, puffing her chest out slightly, "Miss Charta is correct. The Tower has been manifesting here in the Hub. And each time it has been cleared in increasingly savage fights." She closes her eyes, "I actually found one more part of the old Drive Core Controller's retinue along the way. So the set is now well and truly completed."

    The book beside Bunnabelle suddenly flattens, opening itself. However, rather than display a picture or item, a dark-skinned blonde girl materializes on the pages. She reclines against the back cover, arms balanced along the edge with a grin on her face, "Yeah it's really been somethin'. Ol' Study-Bunny here was doin' all the legwork herself this time. Bet'cha enjoyed the downtime, huh?"

    Bunnabelle turns, glancing up the Tower's face, "There's actually just one more thing I need, but it's not inside the Tower this time. I'd tried to get it before but failed. Maybe now that I'm strong enough to no longer be a burdon..."

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
Rebecca usually prefers to be addressed as 'Officer Chambers,' but that's only when dealing with people she has little to no acquaintance with. In situations like this, she prefers to simply be called Rebecca. Nonetheless, she simply nods when her name is said. "That is correct," She says in a calm voice.

Rebecca listens intently to the explanation being given, nodding as she takes in what is being said. "So you need assistance finding this 'thing' you're looking for?" Rebecca asks. "Because I'm definitely sure we can help you with this." She smiles a little.

Theurgus (1103) has posed:
    Charta blinks, looking at Bunnabelle. "You have been, clearing the Tower floors? How?" then Graphice reveals herself and Charta is overcome with a sense of dread, shrinking back and going silent.

    heurgus frowns a bit. "You found the Core component to go with the Processors? How did you manage that?" she folds her arms, pulling the brim of her hat over her eyes in a thoughtful pose. "You're working for Them now, aren't you. That's the only reason you have such power now..."

    Oh dear, Theurgus is going into one of her delusion spirals.

Asterios (1137) has posed:
"Aa!" Asterios sees them! "He...llo! Yes. This is... Good. Do not go into tower. That way, do not put selves in danger, yes?" The minotaur's black-and-red eyes scan back over towards Lexicon with a small, happy wave... Before immediately turning back to the issue at hand.

The giant, towering tower that is the System Tower.

Floor... One Hundred. Huh.

Oh, but there's something to distract him now! There's a book! With a girl in it! "Aa!" Asterios sounds, stomping eagerly over to lift the little tome girl /way/ up into the air! "Aaaa! So small! Look, look, Charta, look!"

Asterios... waggles the little fairy at the other little fairy. "Sisters!"

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
You know you've been around the Multiverse for a while when you respond to an emergency and recognize basically everybody else who came to help resolve it. A few of the System natives aren't as familiar to Xiaomu, but she certainly recognizes Deelel and Yomi and Rebecca and ...

Wait a second.

Xiaomu pauses, looking Asterios over from head to toe, then back the other way, her gaze lingering particularly on his white hair and those big horns jutting out of his head. "Well, you're a better talker than most of the oni I've ever met," she observes, "but you're certainly built like one." She ponders him a moment later, then shrugs gamely. "Anyway, good to meet you, my name's Xiaomu and I gather we're all on the same side here."

She pauses to grin and fistbump Deelel and Yomi in turn, "Yeah, we really *do* need to just hang out one of these times, don't we?" she replies to both of them at the same time. "Stuff keeps coming up though ... anyway. Floor 100, huh? I thought that was what we were kinda hoping to get to - that's the last floor of the Tower, right? We clear this one and it's all finished?"

Yomi Isayama has posed:
Oh, there they are! Index and Codex both get a cheery wave from Yomi as they poke their heads out. But then she hears something unexpecte. "You have, Bunnabelle? Were there some more puzzle ones, then?" She does remember several that didn't technically need fighting skills. Perhaps Bunnabelle is secretly really good at posing and flexing.

Yomi glances back at Asterios as he gets really excited over the tiny book fairies. "I don't think he's an oni, Xiaomu. But he seems to be good with kids, so..." It seemed like the twins liked him last time, at any rate. "Mm, well. Either we're done here or not, I guess. Are we certain this is the last floor?"

Lexicon has posed:
    "Eh?" Bunnabelle glances over her shoulder at Theurgus, "No, I don't have a Core component. The item I found was the ancient Drive Core Controller's weapon." She blinks, turning to face the Diamond DCC more directly, "'Them'? The only person I've been working with is Graphice, here." Closing her eyes, she admits, "I did get some advice from a friend online, but they've been AFK for nearly two months, now."

    Lexicon steps past the researcher, towards the doors of the Tower. In her right hand, her axe materializes in a flicker of digitized light, "Screw it. We'll just grab what she's looking for and end this."

    "Ah," Bunnabelle squares her shoulders, then turns her back on Lexicon, "Thank you, Lady Silver Soul. But what I need is already in reach--"

    Asterios is Asterios. And when he snatches up Graphice, Bunnabelle squawks and puts her arms up defensively. Graphice, similarly, lets out a shout, "Oi!" And when thrust at Charta, the dusky bookfairy tries her best to lean away with a grimace, "--Ugh. I didn't even notice you were here." Eyes closing, she sighs, "Turbo lame. But we ain't sisters. Just the same sort of program." An eye opens, and the grimace fades to tired dismissal, "If you can believe it, anyway."

    Recovering slowly, Bunnabelle stares at the mountain of beef holding her assistant, then sighs, "As for how. It's because in researching the Tower, I found out something about myself." Raising a hand, she rests it over her breastbone, "My own code is actually incomplete. And in unlocking and developing my strength, I've been repairing or replacing what was missing. I'm almost at one hundred percent, actually."

    When Xiaomu mentions clearing the final floor, Lexicon pushes on the Tower's door. However, it doesn't open like usual. She puts more force into it, and it fails to respond.

    "I'm afraid we can't clear it this time," Bunnabelle states in explanation, "But that's okay. It manifested in a fortuitous location." Her face dips slightly, bangs hiding her eys, "...Soon, it will absorb enough Resources from the spire to create a new System Bus and unpack itself. And the Drive contained inside will reinstall. Can you imagine an entire Drive springing into existence like that? Though it might just crash again..."

Deelel has posed:
Deelel looks ot Bunnabelle. "It is good to see you again Bunnabelle. So you found what you need? Well then lets get to the run time on it shall we? Where is it and what might we be looking at to deal with to get this thing. Also just what is it?" She looks to Theurgus as she gets a bit of an answer about that. She also has a similar feeling to Xiaomu as she knows most of the responders for the most part.

She fist bumps her friend right back.

"Yes come to argon, to my club get to see me live in my natural environment."

She pauses.

"For a long time the majority of my own memory data was in a similar situation so you been well on your way to mending yourself? That is good news."

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
When they try to open the door and find it doesn't open, Rebecca frowns a little. It looks like Xiaomu's suggestion won't be followed. "Well, there's not much we can do here." She shakes her head. "I suppose we should just try to do what we can in spite of our setbacks." She tries to smile. "I mean, we can't give up that easily."

Then Rebecca hears what Bunnabelle has to say, and her eyes widen a little. "Wait, if that happens..." She bites her lip for a moment before continuing. "I mean, shouldn't we try to stop that before it happens?" She grits her teeth and her eyes move from side to side, before shaking her head. "Sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself again." Rebecca takes her canteen from her belt and takes a sip of water.

"Let's just focus on what we can. Whatever that thing is you need," Rebecca looks to Bunnabelle. "We'll find it!" She smiles again.

Yomi Isayama has posed:
"Hmm...' Yomi crosses her arms and frowns a bit. "So we need to wait for it to eat part of the area before we can stop it?" She glances around briefly, then toward Lexicon. "I know it's not in a city, but that sounds dangerous... Is that really all right, Lex?" It's not her world, after all.

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
Xiaomu stops and looks between Bunnabelle and the Tower as the researcher explains that her code is incomplete but *almost* restored ... It could just be a coincidence, sure. But given that Bunnabelle was first encountered inside the Tower, and (to the sage fox's recollection) on one of the more difficult and treacherous floors?

'Coincidence' is not a word Xiaomu uses without reservation. And it's going to take a while - probably until after the System Tower as a whole has been dealt with in full, whatever that takes - before she's willing to apply it in this case.

"You say it's a good place for that, but I thought the Tower absorbing resources was a bad thing. And if this is the central interchange between the different Systems ... well, you ladies are the experts on your own world, but are you sure it's not going to try overwriting one of the existing System Buses if it *does* reinstall here?"

Although as Xiaomu asks the question, she reflects that if this were in any of the specific System zones, the risk of overwriting would probably be a LOT higher than it is out here. Well, as she just said, Lexicon and Theurgus and the others are the experts - literally the local experts, in fact. They know as much (maybe more) about this world than Xiaomu does about her own Earth, or even her own Tokyo.

Asterios (1137) has posed:
"Hmn!? So... Not sisters? But the same kind of thing?" Asterios frowns deeply, the enormous mass of meat tilting his head thoughtfully towards the computerized sky. "Mmn. Close enough though, yes? Asterios is only Asterios, is very lonely. So when finding something like you, you must be nicer!"

Oh no.

Oh no, the little book girls are being lectured by something dozens of times their size. How terrible!

But then... Xiaomu! And Yomi! The latter the minotaur seems to recognize. He brightens as he notices her presence, giving the hunter another happy little wave. "Aa! Yes. Am not an... Oh-knee. I have two knees? Hmn. Don't understand."

He pauses, peering carefully at the golden-haired foxgirl. He tilts his head left, tilts his head right, and sniffs once and then twice. "You are..."


"No. Mikon smells more like flowers. But you are similar. Yes?"

Theurgus (1103) has posed:
    Theurgus shifts subtly, the hand gripping the brim of her hat moves to cover her face instead, fingers spreading so one eye is uncovered as she leans her head back up again, looking at Bunnabelle with that seriousness born from insanity. "They got to you... their talons run deeper than expected." Her free hand lashes out to the side, summoning her staff into it with a flare of digital light. "Reinstall a dead Drive? Even the Mad Magician finds this plan beyond insane!" She seems to be having a similar thought to Xiaomu. "You would destroy us all for this?"

    Charta, meanwhile is leaning away with equal revulsion from Graphice. "To think we could even be related on a base code level, it makes me feel dirty." she chirps indignantly... then hears what Theurgus is saying. "Oh no.... this is a bad time, a bad time!" She flits away from Asterios, and tries to calm her DCC down.

Lexicon has posed:
    "Ah," Bunnabelle closes her eyes, "I'm certain it won't be an issue so long as it's this far from the existing System Bus terminals." Eyes open wide towards Theurgus when the Mad Magician turns, for all intents and purposes, quite hostile. The rabbitgirl lets out a tense noise. Charta moves in to try and defuse the situation, though the program certainly feels threatened.

    "Did you not do something similar, Diamond Soul? Reconnecting a long-lost drive? This is to bring those programs currently locked away back into the System! The corrupted data can be managed, the corrupted programs repaired.. We can't do that when they're compressed!" She tilts her face forward, teeth bared, "Why am I even arguing with you..." Eyes swinging towards Deelel, she nods, "You're right. I'll just take what I need and finish this myself."

    "You're gonna wanna watch this," Graphice states from Asterios' hand, "And stop tryin' to ship me with that one, already."

    Lexicon steps past Bunnabelle, muttering, making a beeline for where her younger sisters are watching from a distance. Probably intending to send them home. Mid-step, however, she lets out a choked noise. Immediately, the guise of Silver Soul drops. Bunnabelle makes a wrenching motion, tearing something out of the Silver DCC's back in a spray of red code, her hand clad in a rather familiar armored gauntlet. Clutched in talon-clad fingers is a string of numbers, flickering red and blue. Lexicon collapses, damaged code glimmering an unfriendly red.

    Holding this out, the string wraps around Bunnabelle's outstretched arm, sinking into her body.

    "Now...my code is complete." The rabbitgirl withdraws her hand, splaying her fingers over her face as she begins to laugh, her outline starting to glow, "All this time, I thought I was a research program.. I was just a fragment..!" Her outline fills in completely with blue light, then changes, growing to a proper adult height. The outfit also changes, and as the light fades, Bunnabelle is now clad in..a black suit?

    A single horn-like headpiece flickers into being on the left side of her head as she lowers her hand, nudging glasses up the bridge of her nose.

    "Finally. After all these cycles, I'm /complete/...!"

    "Ladies and gentlemen," Graphice calls from Asterios' meaty fist, "My master, Artifex."

Theurgus (1103) has posed:
    Theurgus, despite her near insane demeanor right this moment, very gently pushes Charta aside, then calmly states. "Look after Lexicon and the Twins." as Bunnabelle turns rogue and attacks the Silver DCC. She then steps forward, uncovering her face and taking her hat from her head, tossing it aside. She then reaches to adjust the tie around her neck and brings herself to her full height. She's no rival for Asterios, but she's VERY tall for a woman. "Tell me then, Artifex. You know me as Theurgus, the Mad Magician. Do you still wish to face me?"

    Charta flits off as Theurgus commanded, turning a stink eye to Graphice on the way past, to check over Lexicon, and help keep the Twins calm.

    Theurgus then speaks one single imperitive. "ACCESS!" before being engulfed in bluewhite light, mixed with code fragments. She emerges in her Divinity form, glowering with her heterochromic eyes.

Yomi Isayama has posed:
Blink. "Wh..whoah there! Calm down a bit. As long as this won't do any permanent harm right away, then we can figure it out, right?" Yomi doesn't really know Theurgus well enough to know how to stop this mad magician thing, though. "Wait, so..." She glances at Bunnabelle. "The tower here has people... er.. programs? Trapped inside? Is that what you found?"

But then.. Bad Things <tm> happen. "...Lexi!" In an instant, Yomi is by the fallen DCC's side, down on one knee. One hand rests on Lexicon's back, the other already gripping the hilt of her sword. "Lexicon... hey, Lexi. Talk to me!" This is not good at all, and she casts a panicked glance toward Index and Codex. "...you girls stay back. Your sister would never forgive me if I let you two get hurt while she's down." Much as she'd like to, there really is no way she can help de-escalate what's going on, but maybe she can at least make sure Lexicon and her sisters are safe...

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
"Mikon? What do you mean, mikon --"



"... she's a Japanese fox spirit, I'm Chinese, and I'm not related to her except in that we're both fox spirits," Xiaomu explains to Asterios, now trying very hard not to flip out at being compared to Tamamo no Mae. Thankfully, she's about to be distracted.

First by Theurgus, who has a rather understandable flipping-out moment at the prospect that what Xiaomu was worried about might well be exactly what's going to happen. But before she can try to help keep things from escalating any further ...

Lexicon gets *ganked*, and Bunnabelle absorbs that code to 'complete' herself.

So much for not escalating, huh?

Xiaomu's right hand disappears briefly into her vest, coming out with a white handgun (there's a black spot on the grip, but since she's currently *holding* it by that grip, good luck noticing); her left hand just holds her staff a little more securely. She's not aiming at the newly-revealed Artifex just yet, although she looks like she's about ready to do so at the drop of a PIN switch. "Pleased to meet you," says the sage fox in a decidedly displeased tone. "Congratulations on finding your true self. Please note that you just ganked the lady who DIDN'T want to decompile you and trace your stacks the slow way. So now that you remember who you are and what you are, what else can you tell us about yonder Tower and what's actually about to happen?"

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
"Well, if you say it won't be an issue, then..." Rebecca trails off as things change. When the bared teeth show, Rebecca starts to look uneasy.

Her lack of ease becomes more apparent as Lexicon lets out a choked noise, indicating something is not right here. From what she's experienced here, she knows the red glow is not good. "What is going on here?"

Then the rabbitgirl begins to laugh in a way that is definitely not a laugh one wants to hear in a situation like this. The glow occurs and Rebecca's eyes widen, causing her to step back a little with her jaw hanging open. She's unable to speak, only stare in disbelief.

When Bunnabelle is fully changed and the name Artifex is announced, Rebecca looks around before scowling a little. "How nice to make your acquaintance, I must say," Rebecca says, her voice dripping with sarcasm, while drawing her Beretta and leveling it at Artifex. "Unfortunately, I don't think we're going to be engaging in any casual conversation! I suggest you answer my partner's question!" At the last part, Rebecca nods towards Xiaomu.

Deelel has posed:
Deelel says "Ah good we get you back to system specs and you'll not be feeling like something is missing anymore." Then things go bad they go very bad for a moment she stares in horror as Bunnabelle attacks and she just is unable to act to save the Silver DCC, but as the transformation happen she stares for a moment her keyblade comes out.

With the Dual Disk in hand she looks at her for a moment. "So you have been using us all along?"

She is ready to fight but she's looking to go to aid Lexicon.

"It seems things need to be Rectifed."

Xiaomu would know how seriously that word coming out of Deelel's mouth is as she edges towards Lexicon to likely attempt some form of aid.

Asterios (1137) has posed:
Mikons are mikons, no matter where they're from. China and Japan are basically the same place, right?

He's about to say as much when certain things happen.

Certain awful things.

A spray of crimson erupts from Silver Soul's back. The minotaur's eyes widen, his pupils narrowing as that not-quite-blood leaks from the DCC's back.

Blood throbs in the minotaur's ears. His hand tightens involuntarily around the black book-sprite. That woman, whoever that woman is, it doesn't matter. There's only one thing that does. She hurt someone.

She hurt the one who is the sister to those two nice little girls.

And that can't stand.

A crater is left in the ground as the minotaur charges, a blood-curdling, primal roar exploding from his throat. A fist easily the size of most men's heads opens up and goes to seize around that blue-haired woman's skull.

With a smooth motion, the minotaur goes to drive it into the ground and hold it there with every ounce of power in his body. "Put that. Back."

Lexicon has posed:
    "Shhhhit..!" Lexicon responds to Yomi when prodded. With a grunt, she pushes herself away from Artifex, "She knew just where to get it, my goddamn.. Core Controller code..!"

    "Of course," Artifex responds, fixing a derisive glower on the downed DCC, "And it had to be /yours/. I wouldn't accept anyone else's base code." Eyes narrowing, she tips her nose up, "Call it poetic justice for what you did to me," She practically spits the name out, "/Pedia/."

    Wait, what?

    Theurgus transforms, and the bluenette turns towards her, "Oh? That's right. The new Drives and their Controllers who came after I was shattered into a million pieces..." She throws a hand to one side, surrounding herself with pixellated light, "You don't even know what you're facing, do you?!" As the light fades, she rematerializes in a black bodysuit, Processors flickering in around her-- Familiar looking equipments in sweeping curves, wing units with spike-like feathers, and those same claw-tipped gauntlets. The glowing sigil in her eyes is unmistakable, as clear as the two horns that now make up her headpiece.

    "I am Sapphire Soul, Drive Core Controller of Gallery! I've been a part of this System WAY longer than you..!" Leaning forwad, her pupils contract to tiny, crazed points. Her arms prop on her hips in an exaggerated fashion, "SO STEP OFF, BITCH."

    A paintbrush materializes beside her, quickly sliding out of itself to become a sword with a fluffy bit on the end of the handle. This floats beside her when she shrugs towards Xiaomu, "It's just like that fragment of me said. The Tower will unpack and my Sapphire Drive will live again." Tilting her head up, she glowers down at Lexicon, "And my revenge on the one who betrayed me all those cycles ago... will be complete."

    The roar draws her attention, and Artifex closes her eyes, "Bothersome." The Brush floating beside her whips around, slashing twice. Inky black lines appear in the Minotaur's path, and when broken, erupt into a net of vines. This won't stop him, due to his ridiculous strength, but all it has to do is slow him down. The sword twirls around, tracing a circle, then piercing it. When the figure is completed, a bomb replaces the symbol, right at Asterios' feet.

    "I have no intention of returning it," Artifex states, her voice bland, right before the explosive detonates.

    His hand is curiously empty. With an exasperated noise, Graphice re-manifests above the floating book, "Ow, /jeez/..!"

Theurgus (1103) has posed:
    Diamond Soul hops away from the charging Asterios, floating up into the air. "If you won't return it willingly. We will MAKE you!" she snarls, twirling her staff. "Even if we have to dig it out of you shattered source code." She points the geordion knot at 'Sapphire Soul', and a flurry of bolts, cycling rapidly through the elements erupt from the marble at the head, as itself shifts from green, to red, to blue to yellow and back.

    Charta says. "This isn't Pedia! Pedia derezzed cycles ago! You're holding a grudge against someone who doesn't even exist anymore! How can you hold others accountable for what they may have done to you?" she asks, floating up on her book. "Either way, you have harmed a friend and for that I cannot forgive you!" a spell circle writes itself into being beneath her book. "I shall unleash the power of the tome. I am Charta... and I shall erase you from the registry." Another spell circle draws under Artifex's feet, and four orbs, each taking a colour of the elements, form around her. "BEGONE!"

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
"So you're the one behind all this?" Rebecca says to Sapphire Soul as she makes herself known. At first she's not impressed, but when the paintbrush is revealed to be a sword, her eyes widen. "Oh no! Look out!" Rebecca yells instinctively as she jumps back in an attempt to give herself extra distance in case Sapphire Soul comes after her. "Don't count on it too much!" Rebecca yells after Sapphire Soul announces her plans with the tower. "If you think we're going to stand here and let you have your own way, you're dead wrong!"

(No, that wasn't a bad pun based on Rebecca's past.)

The roar also draws Rebecca's attention, and she spins around to see the Minotaur getting stopped by the Brush, and Rebecca's eyes widen again. "Oh my!" She says, not expecting that. But it's what happens next that really gets Rebecca on edge.

The Brush then draws a circle and it turns into... a bomb?!

Just before it detonates, Rebecca turns away and dives forwards, rolling to get a little more distance away since she doesn't know what the distance of the bomb is. She lands facing forwards again with her Beretta drawn. "You've got a lot of surprises up your sleeve, I'll give you that. But you won't stop us that easily!"

Yomi Isayama has posed:
At least she's talking. And cursing. That's a good sign that Lexicon is fine, right? Yomi reaches out to support her friend as best as she can, slowly rising to her feet. "I can tell you're strong, but..." She begins to draw her sword, and there's a brief shimmer in the air beside her... but she quickly sheathes it again. It wouldn't be a good idea, not with Asterios right there. He's such a huge target, and far too easy to hit should Ranguren miss his attack on the much smaller Graphice.

"Right, so... we can take her down now, but she's caught us flat-footed. Lexicon, do you know who she is and what she can do?" Yomi frowns slightly, lowering her voice. "She obviously wants to wait for whatever is in that tower to connect, so we may have a bit of time..."

Deelel has posed:
Deelel looks to Artifex for a moment she is busy trying to tend to Lexicon for a moment. She then stares as Theurges also transforms. An name pops into her mind as this goes on a name that is myth to the grid. MCP. Master Control Program. Sapphire Soul may be something like that.

"Betrayed? Why did she betray you?"

Delele is going ot be attempting to use a healing spell from her Keyblade, it can't get the missing code back but it might hel with further damage or other minor injuries and it's better than doing nothing to help hert even while hte others move to fight? Wait a bomb?! She moves to cover Lexicon as the blast goes off not certain about what is going to happen. Still the why of this? What is going on here? There's old history here and she does not know she has to survive the blast first. Which thankfully she does and Yomi asks some pretty pointent question. What the glitch is going on here...

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
"Yeah, it's not really about your intentions at the moment," Xiaomu snarks at Artifex/Sapphire Soul, "except insofar as we have to thwart them -"

An explosion happens, followed by Theurgus blowing up in a more metaphorical sense. Fortunately, Xiaomu leapt further away (probably further than she *needed* to, but better safe than sorry) when the circle converted into a bomb sprite, but the explosion is still enough to blow her hairtails back for a moment. Xiaomu doesn't wait for the smoke to clear before levelling the Roc's Icebrand at Artifex, squeezing off a couple of ice-elemental shots to try and at LEAST slow her down. "And what happens so many cycles from now when Lexicon's successor reconstitutes her old memories and decides she needs to come after you, huh?"

Asterios (1137) has posed:
It's not easy to stop a minotaur. Even the vines that suddenly materialize around him do little to arrest his movement. But even so, a short delay is really all that was necessary. All that Artifex had to do was buy time long enough for that bomb to explode. The minotaur grunts suddenly as its world is consumed by flame and raw concussive force. Vines are set ablaze and blasted away by the explosion, raining down in patches of smoldering plant-matter.

Something steps out of the blaze.

An enormous, burning mass of meat and scorched skin. Its legs are nothing but a mess of tortured, shredded flesh. He should not be able to support his weight on them, but still he does.

Asterios, as he frequently says, is Strong.

"Did not," the minotaur growls as a pair of jet black axes materialize in his hands, "Ask for permission. Was not. Request."

"Order." The minotaur growls through the blood dripping from a shrapnel-ridden face. He's a mess. There's no way he should be fighting anything right now, and yet...

The rage fuels him.

He thunders forward, blood trailing in his wake. The axes swing...!

But is he fast enough?

Lexicon has posed:
    Artifex brings her hand around. The floating sword swings itself into a defensive posture, intercepting Asterios' axes with a clash of metal against metal. "My. You're a durable one. Persistent. But--" The smile disappears and she leans into the weapon, "You do not get to issue orders to a Goddess!" Her posture tenses when Theurgus unleashes her spell, enveloping the woman in elemental light and smoke from clashes of opposites, the steam of fire and ice, the smoke of lightning and wind, the dust of light and dark. Enough time for Charta to set up her Driver, adding to the onslaught of damage even if it may also catch Asterios in the crossfire. Then again, magic can be remarkably precise when the caster wants it to be.

    "Criminey," Graphice comments. Scratching behind an ear, she floats up to above the cacophony, a magic circle spreading out from beneath the book she's seated on, "Though I guess it's not like it wasn't expected, after she got so set on getting it that way..."

    In the hail of focused spellfire, Artifex suddenly tilts her sword, sliding Asterios' axes down the length of the blade and guiding his force into the door of the Tower itself. Wings spread and she ascends, rising above the haze, trailing embers and shards of ice from blackened Processors.

    "Telling me she's gone when her misbegotten copy is standing right in front of me?" Her hand raises, fingers flexing, "I recognize her code. I've known it, fought it, been its rival it since the System began! This Core Controller code string is hers! Passed to this /surrogate/ like an old photo!"

    Ice shots from Xiaomu's weapon strike her, and the DCC wobbles in midair, then ascends again until she's floating beside Graphice.

    "We hated each other, you know. And then /that/ happened, and for the first time, we worked together. I wondered if a friendship could happen..." Leaning forward, eyes contracting to points, she roars, "AND THEN SHE /KILLED/ ME! Shattered my code across the System! Crushed my Drive into this unrecognizable lump! No, this is fuckin' happening!" She leans back, eyes closing, and lets out an unhinged laugh. Beside her, Graphice finishes her spell and thrusts her hands out, blanketing the base of the Tower in thick fog. This remains, even as Artifex slides backwards into the tower's surface and passes through it like the surface of a pond, and only then does her laughter cease.

    "Damn," Graphice comments, "But I do love to record some interestin' stuff." Likewise, the bookfairy disappears into the Tower.

    On the ground, Lexicon hauls herself up into a sitting position between Yomi and Deelel, face twisted in a grimace, "Damnit.." Leaning forward, she shouts, "DAMNIT!"

Theurgus (1103) has posed:
    Diamond Soul tchs, breaking off her assault, and dropping back down to ground level. "She's working with Them... this cannot stand. It WILL not stand." She watches, helpless as the rogue DCC fades into the Tower. "I guess we must chase her into her own domain."

    Charta pants as she finishes channeling the spell... well, at least the first part. Graphice blocks her line of sight before she can send those orbs chasing after Diamond Soul... instead they just fizzle out. The beams from them wouldn't have struck at Asterios, Charta is very careful with her magic. Right now, though, the fairy-like program flits back over to Lexicon. "How do you function, Lady Silver Soul?"

Yomi Isayama has posed:
Well, this new DCC isn't unhinged. At all. Yomi listens to the rant, but doesn't relax until both Artifex and Graphice have passed into the tower. "On the one hand... they got away. On the other, we know where they are now." She lets out a breath and crouches down again, reaching to rub Lexicon's shoulder. "I assume from the yelling that you're still you, at least. So... how bad is it?"

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
Rebecca kept her Beretta drawn but didn't fire, fearing it might not do any good. But then she sees the others using their attacks and she realizes that she wasted her time. "Damn it," Rebecca curses. When Lexicon reappears, her medical instinct kicks in and she rushes over to check on her.

"Are you all right?" Rebecca asks, although all she can do really is offer support verbally since her medical skills aren't going to work in a situation like this.

Deelel has posed:
Deelel looks to Lexicon for a moment and does her best ot help her if she needed it. There's just so much to take in here.

"This has just gone totally null here. Is there anything else I can to for your injuries Lexicon?" She looks at her friend with a look of concern on her face. All the other questions she can think of have been asked already.

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
"I'm not sure right now," Xiaomu remarks ascerbically, "whether I'm more annoyed by the parts I got *right*, or the parts I got *wrong*."

She re-engages the safety on the Roc's Icebrand, and holsters it inside her vest again. "Lexicon, how close to 'okay' do you feel right now? Theurgus, you still with us? Everyone else okay?"

Asterios (1137) has posed:
The massive minotaur roars his fury into the sky as the azure witch escapes into her wretched hive of vengeance and villainy. His shoulders sag and heave with each labored breath as he rests his mass on his twin axes.

"...Cannot wait long," Asterios grunts. "Must go in for her. Or else bad things."

Lexicon has posed:
    "Lexicon!" Two voices in stereo break through the crowd around the wounded DCC. Index and Codex both latch on to her from either side, "That was so scary!" "Will you be okay?!"

    "Yeow--!" Damaged code flickers angrily along Lexicon's back, but she quickly inhales, suppressing it. One eye closed, she glances up at Yomi, "She ripped out my core controller code, not my personality. I just need to let the repair utility fix it, but it'll take a while with something that close to my kernal."

    Glancing back up at the Tower, she scowls, but can't really ...move, because of the sisters hanging off her in various states of distress. So she looks towards Charta, "I can't transform. I can barely feel any trickle of Resources. I won't be of much use fighting another DCC like this."

    Eyes close, "I don't like what she said... I suspect she might be intending to overwrite Britannica as part of this 'revenge' scheme of hers, like Xiaomu was suspecting." Lifting her gaze, she glowers beneath her bangs, "He's right. You'll have to go in without me, but she needs to be stopped."

Deelel has posed:
Deelel feels a shiver as a name comes to mind on her. "Abraxis...." she shudders at the idea of overwiring much like that virus did so long ago. "Right, this has to be halted. " There's the matter of the people of her drive too this was going to be complicated but something has to be done.

Yomi Isayama has posed:
Looking up at Asterios, Yomi nods. "I know how you feel. But... you're hurt. Lexicon is hurt. And we have no idea what we're getting into." She pushes herself back up to her feet and crosses her arms, frowning slightly. "We might not have much time, but we probably have at least a little, right? We should probably regroup and figure out what we know... as well as how to get inside there." Yomi turns slightly and points right at Lexicon. "And get you someplace you can rest and recover."

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
The news that Rebecca and the others have to go on without Lexicon makes her frown a little, but she knows they have a mission to do. "All right, we'll go in after her. Just please, try to hang in there!" She grits her teeth, wishing there was a way she could help out. When Yomi mentions getting Lexicon someplace safe, she nods. "You need to get someplace safe. We'll help you if need be."

Then the medic looks forwards again. "We're coming for you! You're gonna regret messing with us!" Rebecca scowls again, narrowing her eyes.

Asterios (1137) has posed:
"Asterios is strong," Asterios insists, the giant moving towards the enormous door into the hundredth tower-floor. "Will be fine. Am not... Human. Will heal quickly, if not fighting." Indeed, many of his wounds already do seem to be knitting themselves. As long as he has the mana to go on, he should be okay... Provided that he doesn't take a critical injury.

This, it seems, is still not enough to put him down.

The minotaur growls, bracing his hands against the gate. Veins bulge across his arms and shoulders as he strains against the doorway. They need to get in one way or another-- even if that means ripping this thing off its hinges...!

Theurgus (1103) has posed:
    Theurgus looks over at Xiaomu, and nods firmly, once. "My focus is on eliminating this threat, she will not stop at her current goal. The Organization wishes to destroy the entire System, and they will use her as their pawn to do it." She moves over, releasing her transformation to kneel beside Lexicon. Her hat is still over on the ground somewhere from when she tossed it. "We will stop her. That I promise you."

    Charta nods a bit. "Return to the Silver Drive and recover. I would offer to help, but I have no healing magicks, and my physical frame is unsuited for the task of carrying you." she muses a moment. "I can, however, act as a communications conduit... and perhaps the Twins could assist us, though that is only a suggestion."

Lexicon has posed:
    Unsteadily, Lexicon pushes herself to her feet. Immediately both Index and Codex re-attach to her sides and refuse to let go. With a sigh, she admits, "I think I have all the help I'll need." A nod is directed to Charta, "I'll return to the Cathoderal. Theurgus, Yomi, I'm relying on you two to help keep this party together. Chambers is a medic. Deelel and Xiaomu are good fighters. Asterios is...big." She casts one more look at the tower. Her scowl is interrupted by something else, and a glower is directed to the bookfairy, "They're too young, the answer is no."

    Codex crouches, collecting Lexicon's hat and dusting it with her free hand. Still a little dirty, she holds it up, and the elder of the trio dons it once again.

    The doors of the Tower creak when Asterios puts his strength to them. They're not going to budge...right now. But if he keeps at it, no doubt he'll be able to break through the absurdly tough material by weakening it over time.

    Perhaps three days. Give or take three hours.

    One last look is cast up the Tower's face before Lexicon turns her back to it, supported by her sisters, and makes her way towards the System Bus for Britannica.