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=== To whom it concerns ===
Who I am isn't important. Neither is how I got this information to you. The information is the important part; it always is. More important than anything else, in this Multiverse big enough that it loses itself in its own scope. Read close and read carefully.
How much do you know about the Multiverse? I don't mean the high concepts this time, I mean what there is out there. What goes on every day. Who needs you. Who hates you. Where you could do the most good. Where you could get what you want.
Of course the answer is 'barely anything', because none of us have that kind of power, but we should do the best we can. It's our responsibility as people who can do things that others can't, to make sure they get done. Imagine how it'd be to go through the end of the world just because, even though they're close at hand, nobody even knew where you were. The Multiverse is the better half of a century old now. How many people, even Elites, do you think have died without ever finding what they were looking for, only because nobody could tell them where it is?
The big three do their best. Some are better at it than others, but there's enough to keep you busy enough not to complain. But is it busy enough to feel right? Plenty of you use your time on day jobs, picking up things that suit you when you see them. That means, most of the time, there isn't anything that particularly does. But there has to be, somewhere out there, right? What do you do with your time? Why are you committed to what you are? Why do you jump into some things and not others? What do you get out of them? Do you think what you're looking for is out there somewhere? Do you think someone out there needs you, and only you?
Less than a tenth of known Elite-class individuals are involved in any of the big three in Sector zero. The era where the threat of being caught between two titans would pressgang entire worlds into mumble-mouthed military action is passed. Do you know what they do while you're not around to see? How much do you know about what happens while you're not looking?
There are more problems than people who can solve them, but one person can solve a lot of problems, if they know where, when, and what. If there are nine of them for one of you, what's your role? Do they need your protection? Do they need what you have to offer? How many things are decided without you, every single day? What kind of grip do you really, realistically, have on the Multiverse? Are you making a difference?
Not without that kind of knowledge you're not. With this many worlds, all in one place, you could spend your entire life where not one day slips by without moving the needle on where you want to be, but as long as all you've got to stare at is a job board, a quarter of the offerings promising you'll risk life and limb, you don't have that.
If there are so many people out there, just like you, who don't take a side, don't stand for what you do, but live their lives like you do, what might they know that you don't? What have they seen? What can they give you? Tapping into that vast wealth of knowledge, of experience, of movement, is where you draw your full potential from. It comes from acknowledging the object permanence of the Multiverse; that it still exists after you've gone home for the day.
That's what we do here. That's what I've been doing for you. How would you have known any of this if I hadn't told you exactly where it is? How might have this all played out if you didn't have the info I have to give?
So if you see the value in it, then you're not alone. It's a seller's market. Everyone needs what we have, but we can put it in the hands of anyone fit for the job. And it should be people who are fit for the job. If you want to see a future for Sector Zero where you reach your potential, we can't hand it all over to anyone.
So deal with this. A few old faces got the wrong idea; that because they find things, and get people things, they know things. Have a heart to heart. And discourage the curious.
=== Missive self-terminates in thirty.
|Penumbra|| The coordinates are a change of pace. So much that it's nearly eerie. A flight through two dozen progressively smaller Warpgates funnels you to a single exit, on paved white concrete bricks that form a path through a half-assedly landscaped green park. Apple and hazel trees, out of season to flower or fruit, uneventfully fill space, shading vacant, dusty benches with blank plaques, and empty rolled aluminium trash receptacles. The path leads to an intersection of several, creating a small round plaza around an overly tall, wrought iron gas lamp tree, next to an empty lot, a newly painted road, and behind it, opened gates to a five story red brick building, barely renovated out of the late 19th century.
The breeze is faint, the sun lukewarm, the paths and road unoccupied save for the sound of crickets and chickadees. It's aggressively boring. A place that one struggles not to forget even as they look at it, having to glance back at features they'd just stared at, to make sure that they were really there. There is only the faintest tinge of soft white scattering on the cloudless, blue horizon, marking this place as an out of the way corner of a world that neighbours the Expanse just closely enough to watch and travel, but without being a part of it.
It takes a minute to notice anything amiss about such an oppressive pastiche of nothing interesting. Along with the gates, aged oak doors of mediocre maintenance have been left hanging open to the building interior. All of the windows are blinded in the middle of the day, with no lights behind them. A small group of figures in suits are hanging around at the gate and at the doors, a few patrolling aimlessly around the unmaintained gardens between them, but those closest to the buildings are facing in rather than out. From what can be glimpsed, all that seems to be inside is snatches of rooms stacked with bookshelves. Further, there is no radio signal or digital traffic from the old place at all.
In fact, it's impossible to get a transmission through the red bricks at all. All sorts of scanning bounces right off the exterior. The dark zone continues for quite a ways underground. Aerial imagery returns just more empty lot.
|Doctor Strange|| Strange is here. He just Is. That is the benefit of his station, to Be places whenever he needs to. He arrives through a hissing portal of sparks which closes behind him.
The place is uninteresting. Unusually, oppressively so. It's a defense mechanism, he suspects. The men in suits probably are, too. Are they the ones the missive mentioned? Those who assume they have knowledge because they go out and get things? Or are they just the hired help? They mill about, seemingly with no aim, in front of that building.
The doors to that bulding are open. That's enough of an invitation for him. Another portal opens, inside the house. If possible, he'll just bypass those people in the front yard entirely, appearing inside the house to peruse the titles and contents of those books. What kind of information is this place cataloguing?
'...Are you making a difference?'
Mack tilts his head upwards on creaking steel, the words burning across his vision. His lip twitches. A sound like a fork scraping a plate follows.
"Nah. Not enough." He pulls himself to his feet --
A trash heap alights into the suggestion of a park.
It isn't all scrap metal, but it's certainly doing a passable impression. The hoverbike is laden with strapped-down cargo bins and bolted-on armor plating, a mishmash of assembled detritus intended to pray they deflect incoming fire. The rider is a short, similarly-scrap-clad figure, leaning forward and low with chrome-plated fingers clutching mismatched controls. It drifts forward from the gate, its rider's cybernetic senses flinging out pings and chirps to go with the grating sound of grinding metal. Nothing but this flimsy excuse for a park comes back.
Mack holds on and guns it for an open door. Being slow and steady strikes him as a recipe for time-wasting disaster.
|Robin Sundance|| The coordinates are a change of pace indeed. Someone more cautious, more careful, less daring, less reckless, might probably stop, wonder if it's a trap, and calculate a bit more...precisely...a plan of entry and exit.
Robin Sundance is not that man.
He avoids the main park path. He is an expert at this. Sneaking is what he does - what he has done for a very long time. Even before he was Masked Ranger Thief, he was someone who had to live in the shadows, simply by nature of his resistance. He spent years learning how to slip between cracks and hide in plain sight, how to avoid the obvious and make use of distraction. So he does not walk bold as brass through the park but rather slip through it carefully and expertly until he finds the door. The aggressive mediocrity works only in his favor - even though he stands out all the time, he is excellent at misusing that mediocrity for his own purposes.
Over the gate and onto the roof. He slips directly over the aimless patrols. He grabs the archway of the door, and, with great precision and remarkable acrobatic skill, slides directly in over the guards, disappearing directly against the ceiling.
Yeah, he can just crawl on the ceiling.
He can just do that.
And so he does. He slips forward, past Doctor Strange, taking advantage of the loud and furious incoming parties to get a glimpse around and find an obvious way down.
|Shinnosuke Tomari||Shinnosuke Tomari got a strange Multiverse missive in the mail, about a lot of interesting questions he doesn't quite understand, but wants to understand. He does, however, understand that there's a threat to some people. The people the letter is telling him to have a 'heart to heart with, and discourage the curious'. He can start an investigation here.
He did not bring his car, because pinging the coordinates ahead of time told him the warpgate ends in a damn park, so as he steps out of the last warpgate, stretching in his police suit and tie, he keeps to the path, heading up towards the building. A few things are curious.
The guards are milling around, and those closest to the building face inwards. The doors are open. And- his Seneschal, whose picture he saw while being recruited, is just heading in. So...
Tomari pulls a silver high-tech belt with a red 'face' on the sensor plate out of his jacket, and places it on. As his jacket flutters, there's several miniature 'toy' cars on his hip in bracers.
He passes through the gates, waving his Paladins badge towards anyone who moves to stop him, and moves to approach Doctor Strange, speeding up to keep pace with him and catch up with him. "Seneschal! Chevalier Shinnosuke Tomari. I got a strange letter today in a place the mail doesn't get delivered. Mind helping me crack this case?" He's just going to waltz inside, and if security comes to hassle Strange, keep them off his back.
"This is strange, Shinnosuke. My sensors aren't reading anything about this building. Be Careful!" Mr. Belt says, the last bit in spectacular English compared to his usual Japanese.
|Strawberry Princess|| Strawberry Princess arrives in subdued fashion, simply walking briskly through the warpgate in her casual attire. A patch showing the green shield of the Paladins, sewn onto her surplus jacket, is the main indicator of her Multiversal affiliation- that and the quietly ominous slender carrying case slung diagonally across her back. Somehow its mystery contents project an aura of menace.
Others are already heading into the building. Instead- after saying her hellos to the coworkers she recognizes on sight, like Strange and Shinnosuke- she makes her way over to the men in suits, trying to pick out whoever looks the most important.
"Hey there," she says to one of them, putting on her most pleasant awkward smile. "Strawberry Princess, with the Paladins. We're here to-" Mack's motorcycle blows past right behind her, making her hair flutter wildly in the breeze. "-have a look at this building, it seems like. Who are you folks? Think we can work together?"
|X||Pulling up after Mack's hoverbike is an impressive and shiny Ride Chaser, the difference in hoverbikes being like night and day at least, in terms of visual oppulence. It had a gutsy but slim chasis, with more emphasis on the front end than the back and held an identical color scheme to its rider, only, it also possessed the markings of the Maverick Hunters along its side, and what looked like an inert police light mounted to its front.
"It's a nature park of some kind, at least by appearance ... "
X reaches up to place a finger on one of his 'ear holes'. "This is X. Can you read me?"
"Loud and clear, X." Alia responds in an even tone, before continuing, "We can't get a good reading of the area .. it's like there's some kind of dead zone dead ahead. Be careful!"
With a frown, he eased the Ride Chaser along so that there was no repeat with what happened with Strawberry Princess moments prior, until he has a clear beeline to shot forwards after the other hoverbike and follow its path inside.
|Reiuji and Rin||What a strange missive. Neither Utsuho nor Rin know quite what to make of that mysterious message when it reaches them, althoug they do certainly give it the old college try despite not knowing anything about college. Without little more to go on than the missive, the coordinates, and hints at learning more about things they barely know anything about, they set off in search of the big nothing!
There's a gate. There's doors. There's some people milling about around the gate, around the doors, and there's a fair few slinking their way in that they're not even aware of doing some other weird magical stuff. There's even someone blasting right on in with a motorcycle, drawing cheers from the pair before they notice that familiar cop heading in along with the explosive baker.
Utsuho: "Oi! Shin! Strawberry!"
Rin: "Yo, bro! Sis!"
The pair land a fair bit behind Shinnosuke and Strawberry Princess while calling out to them, Utsuho landing with a heavy thud thanks to her concrete-encased leg and Rin landing with a softer, appropriately catlike step. They don't even spare a second glance to the people in suits, apparently intent on shadowing the few people they recognize so far.
As always, they're wearing their weirdly ornate clothes in white and green, black and green, and far too many other visual elements.
Utsuho: "You're looking into this place, too? We got a weird letter."
Rin: "Didja write these, or was it some other weirdo?"
|Doctor Strange|| "Hi, Tomari," says Strange. "I got the same missive. It's not the first time, either." Into his waiting hand, there simply Appears a manila folder, with copies of the previous letters, after action reports, and the like. "Whoever our contact is, they're someone with experience dealing with factions that aren't... affiliated with any of the Big Three..." He chuckles mirthlessly. "Their words, not mine." He nods pleasantly to Strawberry, spotting her outside, then goes back to scanning the spines of the bookshelf.
"So far, each one of those has led us to a different--" Strange steps out of the way of Mack's chopper. He creates a closed portal loop just inches from the wall, the other inches from the opposite wall. Mack can gradually slow down by recursively passing through the same space. "Group, each with its own philosophy and goals." The Seekers, the Tempest, the Makers. Those who would study the Multiverse and dissect it, those who would make war with it, and those who would build upon it.
|Nanoha Takamachi|| Nanoha has considered many of these questions before. She's also tried to do Everything before.
It didn't end well.
There comes a point where one realizes that they can't do Everything. After that it's a matter of prioritizing. A matter which is very complicated and differs from person to person. In Nanoha's case, there are a couple of levels of prioritizations before she gets down to 'Help out in the Multiverse'. And even that level has its own set of prioritizations. A key one being 'existing cases she's worked on'.
Which is why Nanoha is here now. Having already previously participated in the investigation of the strange messages, Nanoha is keen to see the mystery resolved. She appears from the final warpgate, wearing her usual combat dress. Though for the moment, her staff is no where to be seen.
Nanoha takes in the sight of the strange house. Of particular note, the men in suits outside. They seem to be monitoring the house? Like they're expecting something to happen. Or there's something inside they don't want getting out.
Nanoha spots a number of other elites responding to the provided coordinates, including allies. Though it's when Strawberry Princess moves to speak to those men in suits that Nanoha follows along behind. Talking to them seems like a good place to start.
Joining in on the conversation, Nanoha introduces herself with a wave of her hand, causing a holoscreen to pop up and show her credentials, "Captain Nanoha Takamachi, Time-Space Administrative Bureau. Also of the Paladins. May we ask what you are doing here?"
|Tomoe||Again Tomoe gets another letter, from likely the same source or someone connected with it has sent it. She'll read it and then toss it she knows it won't last long and doesn't think it's a good idea to try to save on to it she'll have to recall the contents from memory. The letter asks a lot of important questions so far as she's concerned. She's got some thinking to do though she might not be accused of doing such that much. She now will head out once she's fone reading the message. It's time to go see what awaits her this time.
The last part of it sticks with her and she'll head to the location the message gave her. She ends up flying the way through several warp gates until she finally ends up in a final one.
She'll take a look around at the park and pause for a moment it seems pretty nice. Yet she knows places like this can hide oh so many problems and danger. So the Salamander is on pretty high alert. It takes her a moment but she sees it and she'll size up the building and the guard well the people who seem to be guards.
It's time to go see what's up much like Strawberry Princess she's going to try to say hello first. #-1 ARGUMENT OUT OF RANGE
"Hello I'm Tomoe, I had come into some information something is up here and came to take a look."
The here comes Mack whom she's not met before and wonders who this person is. She also takes note of the various arrivals such as X, Utsuho and Rin.
"So the missive just keep going out, do they? Doctor Strange? I wonder where all this is going to lead..."
|Xion||IN CASTLE OBLIVION:
Xion downloads a suspicious app. A magenta STAR WARS TEXT CRAWL appears telling her that something something HELPING PEOPLE something something MULTIVERSE something something QUEST COUNTER something something THREE PUNKS something something BAD ENOUGH DUDE?
Xion nods fiercely, grabbing a pile of medallions off her desk.
"I am a bad enough dude." Xion whispers, getting her Action Aviators out of her dresser.
AT THE LEVEL TWO HITMAN MANSION THAT TOEI IS FILMING AT:
The sun shines high in the sky. Was it there before? Who cares! A sunbeam glimmers down onto the grounds next to tridoron, while a ocean-churn and bubble-pop sound occur in the extremely aggressive godray.
From it, flaring her opened black coat out behind her, steps a golden-haired Xion with aviators on. From among her bangs, almost-hidden stalks of wheat sway as she moves. Her under-shirt is golden yellow, with a stylized white kitsune mask pattern with X's over the eyes silkscreened on, and otherwise wears a standard pair of black shorts and black leggings.
There's an odd jangle, like rings tinking against each other, as she walks, though she wears no obvious extra belts.
"It's the hero of everyone's hearts - Shine X!"
Pronounced 'Shine Key'.
She walks right up to Doctor Strange and Shinnouske, tugging on the former's sleeve. "Hey, hey, are you the bad enough dude I talk to?"
|Mack||Mack ends up in a space-loop that lets him slow his junkyard hoverbike down enough to not careen into some kind of obstacle right on the other side. His headware is going wild, but his psychic senses point out where people are standing instead, letting him swing the back of it around to change direction. He's itching to open up the throttle again and just power through whatever is inside here to the inevitable strongroom at the end, but he's also aware that the two-chaser pile-up that he and X would cause by blindly doing that while both, well, sensor-blind would probably only be hilarious from the outside.
He slows and squints back at the group, amber-colored pinpricks peering out from the lumpy face of the rider. One hand goes up to wave back at Strawberry, partly in greeting and partly in mute apology. Mack looks simultaneously torn between figuring out who all these wizards, warriors and Masked Heroes are, and actually just jumping through a window to get a move on.
|Chase||A lot of the message that was sent to Chase either goes over their head completely, or simply answered for him. However, one question sticks out to him more than any other.
Why are you committed to what you are?
It's a question they've been asked a lot recently, in one form or another. Every time he answers though, things start adding up less little by little. Perhaps that's part of their plan to wear him down.
It isn't important now. Chase drives his motorcycle through multiple increasingly small warp gates, and down the narrow paths, neither making note of or really appreciating the scenery. Neither does he pay attention to any of the people outside the building.
He isn't entirely rude though, as he parks his motorcycle a respectable distance away before walking past the crowd and all the way inside.
He'd have probably been better served staying outside and talking to the strangers there, however. Tomari Shinnosuke, Kamen Rider Drive, is here. However, so is Xion, and several other people.
So for now, he'll have to behave. Besides. He's here on a job, like last time.
That doesn't mean he has to talk, though.
|Doctor Strange|| Strange nods at Tomoe. He opens his mouth, but is interrupted by Xion's QTE Sleeve Tug. His sleeves are quite tuggable; his tunic is a navy colored kind of rough-spun but comfortable cotton. "It's 'bad enough dude to rescue the president,'" Strange corrects. Straight-faced, "And yes. I am that dude."
<J-IC-Scene> Xion says, "I'm Xion," Pronounced 'Shion'. "But my hero name is X!" Pronounced 'Key'. "I add other bits to it when I use borrowed powers, but I'm always the hero of everyone's hearts!"
"Nice to meet you," he says. "I'm Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme, Seneschal of the Paladins. And you," he says, looking over at Mack, "Must be Mack." Sensing the biker's hesitation, "Don't worry about forging on ahead. Just try not to make a mess. I'm a 'thorough' kinda guy, and I get the feeling Shinnosuke is too. Here." The sorcerer faces Mack fully, and begins to weave a spell. It looks, especially to Tomari, like he's fighting off some invisible enemy, but the crisp motions of his hands, deflecting those invisible blades, call forth burning orange lines of energy. They're coaxed into the shape of mandalas which float before his fists. With one final double-palmed thrust, a sonorous hum sounds, and there is a sort of mirage-like shimmer which settles in over Mack's form.
"You should be able to gun it without breaking anything now."
|Xion||Xion squints at Doctor Strange. "You're the bad enough dude?"
Extending her arm out to the right, her keyblade appears in her hand like a sunbeam shot from the sky, a molten gold with a solar-patterened tooth-head. A trio of extra golden rings jangle along the teeth inside.
"So we're supposed to defeat you, then? That's what the text said."
While her tone is serious: That's absolutely not what the text said.
|Penumbra|| Charging at the house(?) (library?) on paired hovercycles seems like a safe bet in terms of cutting right to the problem. Though the area is suspiciously boring, there's nothing to stop either Mack or X except a low cobblestone wall, a few unremarkable guys in three-pieces, and the width of double doorframes. What are they gonna do, throw themselves on the front of a speeding bike?
Actually, yeah. In both cases, the unremarkable men --all humans, roughly the same look of age and social class, big builds, visors-- turn and *sprint* on both vehicles, one hurling himself on the Ride Chaser and two on the front of the flying junk heap as if they're tackling the president short of a sniper's bullet. Rather than cutting them in half, the force of the speeding bikes causes the back ends to tip up into the air, as the men involved dig their feet in and cause their shoes to rupture and burst, suit shirts tearing over to reveal body armour beneath as they grunt and strain holding the power vehicles in place. Men milling around the garden hurry to the sound and commotion, drawing weapons from inside their jackets and training them on the two metal-men, while others simply run up to tackle them to the ground, and hit personal radios in secret service fashion.
And yet, in much the same way Strawberry Princess somehow manages a casual conversation at the front, the pair of strongmen guarding the gate itself, looking out, address her and the other two women as if nothing is happening at all. One holds out a hand to tell them to keep their distance. The other keeps his arms folded. "Sorry you came all the way out here, but we're going to need you to move along. You're far away from the Commonwealth. This land is privately owned; this is business. Dealing with a squatter. If you've all been told you investigate, you're being mislead. Wait out here and the Miss will answer your questions later, if she chooses. We're authorized to defend the property with force if need be." They pronounce 'Miss' with the same tone as 'Don' or 'Chair'.
|X||The forehead gem on X's helmet lights up as the Sorcerer Supreme casts his magic spell, allowing Mack and his bike to become intangible. Introductions are had with Shine X, pronounced Key, as his internal system already began reconfiguring itself in response to the stimuli.
His body began to shimmer, just lightly, as it had when he'd gained that new attack from Strawberry Princess, the blue plates of armor along his body beginning to turn a dark red the same shade as Strange's signature cape, while his black body suit shifted into a dull blue with yellow lines trimming it.
Shifting his arm into Buster form, he immediately gave it a try by blasting his Ride Chaser, and thus himself, with a multi-colored projectile that immediately exploded into a small field which caused him to become transluscent, his outline flickering and flashing.
"This'll be very useful. I hope you don't mind." X coyly smiles.
As a result of his newfound ability, X is able to slip through the grip of the men trying to stop them, much like a ghost, and the would-be tacklers wind up eating dirt likewise. Useful, indeed.
|Penumbra|| Though they are capable of moving into formation to block Chase's approach at the door, telling him to "Walk along." and "We're not open for business.", they are, apparently, not capable of monitoring it all that well, however. It might not even be their fault. As Strange and Robin slink in, they find all of their senses, beyond the standard five, impaired to the point of almost uselessness. Connections cut off with the outside, positional and timekeeping devices stop working, all the way down to a wrist watch, and video feeds show static. The suits are likely as otherwise blind as they are.
Strange finds that the building looks like it may have been a mansion at some point, but practically every single room has been filled with as many shelves as will fit now. Most of the western style, laden with books stacked cover to cover, the degree of dusty that comes at the end of a monthly cleaning. Many are more like mail rooms, or wine cellars, with rolled up scrolls packed in diamond formations. A couple have been cleaned up into home office-like server rooms, humming with the rush of air cooling and blinking away with activity, but with no operating system connected to them.
Each time he opens a book, he feels something amiss. Some are blank. Some are filled with jumbled letters that don't spell anything. Some are filled with nothing but full pages of black marker censoring. Some are in some kind of machine code. Some even look like impenetrable captcha static, printed in ink. All of them are completely unreadable, in various creative forms, but have been maintained and kept to a modest degree, and some have been moved recently. Closed circuit cameras follow him in these rooms, as does, he could *swear*, the eyes of old oil paintings hung up on head walls.
Robin can dodge those things if he takes a somewhat circuitous route, though using the ceiling puts him in the blind spot of most of those things by default, so long as he doesn't approach them down a long straight hallway. There are no suits inside; the ones out in the yard seem to be watching the exits only, as if expecting someone to try to leave the area.
He also finds that most of the building is made up of radiating bars, in an east and west wing, from a central lobby that pierces the entire building vertically, exposing four layers of balconies under a skylight, with twin spiral stairs accessing both sides alternatingly, coiled around a statue that looked like it used to be holding something, but no longer, its face worn down smooth. He can hear a woman's voice in the room, on the ground floor, cool and collected, but he can't see or hear who she might be talking to.
"You seem to be mistaken, boy. This isn't a siege. I'm not here to wait in this dusty lobby and outlast you. This is an actualization of terms. You remember what terms are, right? If you make this more of a pain than it's worth, I'll just have this whole place the hard way."
From a vantage point with a straight drop down, he can see a pale-haired woman in a long black coat and heels, flanked by two suited toughs, and a familiar dark-haired, soft-featured woman in elegant martial dress, with a dull, generic scabbard at her side, impatiently scoping the area.
|Robin Sundance|| Ah.
It is a winding, unpleasant, circuitous route indeed, along the ceiling. Robin is very thankful for a myriad of experiences doing exactly this - slipping into dangerous places with dangerous guards who would murder him at the drop of a hat. He crawls his way along the ceiling carefully until he reaches the statue, at which point he memorizes the look of it. He swings his way up onto a wall, plants his feet against it, and jumps onto the statue to perch and look around.
And then he spots her.
His lips twist into a smile.
It's a straight drop down.
So of course, he hops off, spinning around in the air in a thoroughly unnecessary (but very flashy) fall, his scarf trailing rainbow in his wake. He lands a bit behind Sevra - outside her reach - and skips back out of the inevitable slash.
"Bonjour, ma belle~," Robin's voice is playful, though his eyes are not. His hand goes to his chest as he smiles. "I have been looking for you, you know. Indeed I could not get you out of my mind. You have left such a marvelous impression upon me that I simply could not stay away."
Two fingers go to his lips. "And you look so beautiful in that dress that I am indeed gratified that I came looking."
The Vaulder snaps up into his hand. "So. Shall we dance, ma belle?"
The Vaulder slams against his waist. The belt grows around him. He spins out a big, old-timey key with a domino mask in the ring, sticks it in the side of the belt, turns it once, and slams his hand across the vault door handle. The handle starts spinning.
" Transform. "
Robin spreads his arms as armor forms around him. Two headpieces, key-shaped antennae. Red-and-black armor with highlights of gold. A flowing black bottom-cape, the ends of a trenchcoat. And, last, a pair of green lenses, a black domino mask locking around them.
He takes a bow, one hand behind his back, the other sweeping in front of him. "Masked Ranger, Thief."
"An advance notice. I am here to snatch victory from your hands."
The Rifler grappling-hook spins into his palm. He snaps it up and starts shooting immediately. Three-pronged blasts of energy go tearing out as he jumps onto one of the stair rails, sliding down it past her, daring her to chase him.
|Mack||Mack's Strange slow-down happens just before he gets piled on. He's simultaneously impressed with the guards' showing and unsurprised by how they appear to be superhuman. They ground the bike effectively, and the weird metal man on top of it, though Mack's twisting, squirming upper body wards off attempts to totally immobilize him. He's doing something... martial, but doing it just shy of actually attacking the guys.
Some Supreme Sorcery happens. Mack fuzzes out into something like a mirage. He looks down at himself, then up at Strange, grinning. The expression is mildly unsettling with the way it stretches his face and makes jagged bits of metal scrap against one another along the edges of his uneven jaw.
"Good guess, Doc." The load on the bike lightens now that it and its driver aren't altogether solid. "'preciate the help!" He raises his too-long neck, peering over the suit-wearing guys, and gives X a neck-jerk towards one of the double doors.
*Then* he guns it. Time to see what's going on in this ominous puzzle-mansion!
Chase is completely stone faced, even as he pulls out the Break Gunner, jabbing the end of the barrel into his open palm, causing an aggressive music track to loop as he holds it.
A deep menacing voice warbles out of the gun as a pair of phantom tires appear beside him. And then, in a flash, he's wrapped in an assortment of purple and black armor, with pieces of chrome and compound eyes accentuating his new form.
Not skipping a beat, Mashin Chaser bends down, slamming his weapon into the ground beneath them as a wave of energy disperses outward, fully freezing everything and everyone around them.
With clawed fingers, they attempt to push aside one of the frozen guards, before turning around to grab Xion by the hand and drag her along in his attempts to force his way in further.
|Reiuji and Rin||And then another guy shows up on a motorcycle. A robot guy, even that gets piled on by the suits.
Rin: "Hey, maybe we should get one of those!"
Utusho: "How much do you think that'll cost?"
The bird and the cat mull over that for a moment, but their attention quickly snaps back to reality when the suits answer the talking group and inform them that they have to wait for 'the Miss'.
"So if it wasn't you, who did write this stuff?" Utsuho grumbles, peering past the guards towards the commotion over by where Chase and X are. Rin, upon noticing Utsuho's excitement over said commotion, grabs her by the wings and tugs her off to the side with a couple of protesting noises before huddling up.
Utsuho: "What? It's not like they're gonna let us in."
Rin: "Yeah, but you see all these Paladins here! We just got on their good sides, too!
Utsuho: "But waiting to find stuff out's so boring.... Bleh. Fine. But only because she wants to check things out first."
With that plan settled for now, the pair rejoin the group being held up by the guards just in time to see Mack gunning it as well. Rin keeps her grip firmly on Utsuho's cape likes she's about to fly off, much to the latter's chagrin as they actually try to continue getting information from the guards.
Utsuho: "Fine, fine... Who's this 'the Miss', anyway? Why this place all the way out here? It sucks out here."
Utsuho tries to get information, anyway. Rin, meanwhile slinks off to try and find her own way in, finding some cover off in the distance to transform into her two-tailed cat form before returning. She looks for alternative means of getting into that building, avoiding the guards out front and staying away from the impromptu motorcycle path. Should she spot an open window out of standard line of sight, she'll just fly right up there instead of worrying about skulking around at ground level.
|Xion||Strange teleports away, into the depths of the Legally Distinct Umbrella Mansion, gasping slightly as she's blocked, with Chase, from following. As she gets a feeling for the area, she dismisses her sun-blade by simply releasing her grip on it.
"Oh no! I'm sorry! I've done it again! This is a *library*. I can't be loud here."
Chase grabs her, and, in Stopped Time, drags Shine X Statue Freeze through a field of the heaviness.
"So... Cool!" She croaks, her eyes twinkling in slow motion.
|Doctor Strange|| "Yeah," says Strange. "Iiiii thought so." That 'unimpressive' thing this place has going on was certainly a defense mechanism. It has to be, because this place has thrown a figurative towel over a lot of his means of figuring things out. Of course, he can cheat a little bit.
Another Strange appears. "Hi, Tomari, hi me. Listen--those guys outside are here because someone else owned the place and they're trying to get rid of 'a squatter.' Your radios aren't gonna work, but I already let everybody else know the play. Namely... we wanna find that squatter and get their side of the story." He then leaves. Vanishes. No explanations. Sound familiar, Tomari?
"Alright," says the remaining Strange, closing one of the books. "There's nothing we're gonna be able to glean from these, anyway." He waggles it. "They're not *for* us. Let's get looking for that squatter." He passes one of those oil paintings. Stops. Looks it in the eyes. Grins. Affably pointing a finger, "Classic."
Tap-tap-tap-tap. "Hey," says Strange, knocking on one of the lenses of those cameras with a finger. This is gonna be the most direct way to reach that person, for sure. It beats flying all through this place, yeah? "If this thing doesn't pick up audio I hope you can read lips. You know who I am--and if you don't, I'm 'not a fight idiot.' Let's talk." Those last two words appear before him, in burning orange letters, just in case the camera *doesn't* pick up audio.
|Shinnosuke Tomari||Tomari bypasses the Bodyguards by following Strange through his portal. Once he's inside...
Well, Mr. Belt starts complaining. "I feel naked, Shinnosuke. None of my scanners are working - it's as if I'm just a mind in a belt." As Tomari grimaces at this, opening a book, he finds he can't read it. His mind feels fuzzy. But he can figure out what's going on easy enough.
"This room, it's like a trap for information. As long as we're in here, we're not going to be able to gather anything to solve the case. I say we find the 'squatter', get them to safety - this gives me too many bad vibes."
As the other Strange appears, Tomari blinks, but takes it pretty easy. "Remind you of someone, Mr. Belt?" The belt just makes a flustered sound, as Tomari waves to the cameras, and then moves to proceed forward with Strange.
"I don't know what a 'fight idiot' is, but we're not here to wreck houses. We're investigators." He speaks clearly into the camera. "I'm with him."
To be Actually Useful, however, Tomari pulls out Shift Max Flare, the orange mini car, and holds it up. "There's probably going to be winding paths. Mind scouting ahead?" The car spins, and then is launched through the air, flying straight for the nearest route. Any split paths, it takes the LEFT path, and comes back if it hits the goal, dead ends, opposition, or a trap. Hopefully, this doesn't run afoul of the info blockade.
|Tamamo|| Tamamo no Mae, associate of the Paladins, arrives without the other Paladins, and may be totally unaware that other people are in the area through simple fact of her delayed appearance. She'll probably notice pretty soon, but before that can happen, she's already trying to enter the obviously important property of specifically boring appearance on her own, undeterred by any gaps in her information.
This is not like to pass without incident, considering the suited and armored men trying to stop any trespassing on their claim. Fortunately, it wouldn't be the first time guards have sought to deny her entry. And this time, since she came alone, she won't even have to talk around the explicit malice and righteous anger of her companions. That makes it mildly easier, although, overall, she'd admit to preferring company, regardless.
"I have been invited within. This being the case, please lead me to the miss in charge. Oh, do not worry as to whether this warrants interruption. I shall wait within, if the timing is not yet fortuitous. There would be question of your diligence only if I were unduly delayed without. Now, shall we?"
She's learned a bit about how to control the force of her Charm without being utterly overwhelming to the point of leaving broken husks of men since then, too. Slowly scaling up the intensity helps. Mixing in feelings of awe and adoration with trust is generally helpful.
|Tomoe||Okay so as she moves to talk to the suits. They are not hostile but they are telling them to gets moving on she has a feeling she should not try to press the issue with them as she thinks about how the heck to get inside, as that's going to be a bit of a task fo her to get inside. She will back off and gets an idea in mind. Tomoe will now end up trying to get out of the line of sight she has an idea she's going to try to map things from the air for the moment, maybe she can find something that will be of use from that vantage point. If not she'll have a position to get her way in more easily as she'd be flying past the guards from on high. So that's what she attempts to do this time.|
|Penumbra|| Becoming intangible is beyond the ability of the guards to handle. Chase and X slip straight through their grasps. The intangible rdes should be thankful for it, ghosting through the edges of door frames slightly to very too small for them. They can both hear shots fired behind them, but after punching a few neat holes through solid brick, the firing stops without doing much more than showering them with dust and tiny sunbeams.
Outside, the Paladins can see those suited guards chasing after them, pounding dirt at breakneck pace to follow them inside. One of them is already using his earpiece to phone inside, which, on Robin's end, manifests as the woman in the black coat stopping long enough to listen to a bodyguard who taps her on the shoulder and whispers into her ear.
"You little snake." she says out loud, again, to nobody in particular. She sounds impressed. "I don't know how you're transmitting, but if it's on the property, it's mine too. Since you're broke, what did you offer them? Or are you preying on the mental weakness of the talent out there again?" Again, she sounds impressed at the same time as irritated.
She is not, however, warned of Chase at all. Once he slams the side path with his gravitic surge, the two men there are utterly unable to move. It'd take them half a minute to reach their earpieces, never mind try to communicate something in verbal ultra slow motion. He is free to enter through the west wing, and its endless realms of shelves of indecipherable books and disconnected servers.
As for Strange and Tomari already there, Strange receives no answer, for lack of any intercom system apparent in the room. Tomari may actually be the recipient, however, as Max Flare whizzes off into the halls. So low to the ground, it only takes a few laps around isolated library blocks to zip past an old vent in the baseboards, which suddenly flips open with a squeaky click and a loud buzz. There's absolutely no way Tomari could fit more than a hand inside, but a Shift Car could go, if he feels a desire to send one tumbling down a hotwheels track of old metal-sheeted air ducts, and hopefully not straight into a boiler.
|Strawberry Princess|| Strawberry Princess's smile doesn't falter at being told to move along, though she is sufficiently alarmed by the bikes crashing into the linebacker toughs behind her to break her sunny character for a moment. She nearly rushes over before realizing that the goons are unhurt, and instead just fidgets in place uncomfortably before turning back to the one she's decided to chat up. "Sure thing! I'm very sorry, sir. If she'd like to talk with us later, that'd be great. I don't know how much you're allowed to say, but I think we can have a friendly-"
Mac drives through some of the guards. Strawberry's smile tightens slightly to a grimace. "Sorry. I'm sorry. I'm just gonna... be over there. Have a seat for a little bit. Wanna come with, ahh- did I ever catch your name?" She flashes Utsuho a raised eyebrow of prompting curiosity, then turns to head towards the park.
Upon locating a decent place to sit that's a comfortable distance from all this nonsense going on, she flips open her phone and pulls up a rudimentary version of Tetris. And also, surreptitiously, presses a button on her wand through the gray carrying-case. As she does, there's a subtle taste of metal in the air and a slight tingling sensation- one that Utsuho might well recognize as radioactivity.
Strawberry's awareness shatters into a hundred invisible fragments as her clandestine Heart Ability activates. A swarm of ghostly imperceptible eidolons flows silently around the guards and into the house, through the front door and every single other available entrance. They disperse throughout, seeking out every nook and cranny for anything of interest. The house may foil scanning and scrying, but this isn't a mere scan- it's Strawberry herself, fragmented and faceted across space countless times.
She finds the empty-handed statue, the nonsense books, and Robin's duel all in short order. After seeing exactly what it is the phantom thief's here for, she decides to make a contribution to the sanctity of the duel rather than violate it: a magical pink bubble springs into existence around the two of them, shifting in position and enlarging as they move so as not to impede either of them, but proving stubbornly durable to outside interference. That should keep the toughs and the 'Miss' from barging in easily.
Even still, the rest of her eidolons continue to search the mansion-library for further tidbits: is there anything here besides books worth fighting over? Are there any defense systems that could be activated to aid the 'squatter'?
|Penumbra|| Outdoors, Tamamo walks up to the guards, they glance to each other, and then stand aside, one holding out his arm to show her up the slightly weedy walkway as if it were a red carpet. The instant she passes, they form back up again, and block Utsuho. "The Miss owns the property, and she has business inside. You aren't to disturb her. Just because you work for some other organization doesn't mean where you can go wherever you please." The other one says "Have some respect for privacy would you. What's going on is over your pay grade, and you don't want to be on her bad side." The other one makes a rough, slightly crooked half-smile. "We're out here for *your* protection."
Tomoe breaking off to scout from the air finds two things amiss. The Warpgate they come through is gone. Also, once she gains a certain amount of distance from the old mansion, it becomes an empty lot, changing places like an optical illusion. Someone would have to glimpse it in the distance, and choose to walk all the way down a boring nowhere path to a square of nothing important to even see it there. Getting through a high window wouldn't be too hard now, for either her *or* 'Rin, with only a couple of door bouncers left outside; the rest have chased the robo-men inside. However, when Strawberry leaves, she gets only a nod and a "Have a pleasant day ma'am."
|Shinnosuke Tomari||Tomari doesn't get a response besides...an airvent opening. Tomari can't get inside, and neither could Strange, but a Shift Car could. Max Flare seems skeptical about it, though - it may be fire-themed, but it's not fire-proof! But...
"Alright, get back in the holster. I'll send Mr. Belt down in Shift Technic." Mr. Belt seems surprised, but then nods. "I see...if there's someone sending a signal down there, I may be able to communicate with them. However, if Shift Technic gets damaged-"
"It'll be fine, Mr. Belt." Tomari says, as he grabs the green car. "Rinna can repair it. Let us know if you find anything."
And then, the Shift Technic is possessed, flies up, and straight for the vent. It can't survive a boiler, so hopefully, it's not a trap.
|Tamamo||Tamamo, naturally, takes this sort of treatment as her due. It's not every day someone gets to escort a goddess, so it's fair to say that she's doing them a favor. That's how she would think about it, at least, if she'd given it any further thought at all. In fact, her mind is firmly on what's ahead, expecting her escort to take her wherever the most important person in the area is. She'll decide what to do once she sees what's there.|
|Penumbra|| Those inside the mansion can't possibly miss what Robin jumps into. If the man himself weren't loud enough, the gunshots that spark at him on the way down would catch anyone's attention. Even though Strawberry's clones have their link to her dimmed and suppressed, she can make out the location by the tiny bit of her physical presence in them.
But when Robin touches down, both the suits have actually cleared the area from him, smoothly moving out of his reach rather than trying to pile on, and forming up to block the woman in heels standing in front of the statue.
It's a very good thing he'd anticipated being attacked as part of that maneuver. He feels the fine distortion of Sevra's unique weapon splitting open his shirt collar before he feels the swoosh of air or hears the rasp of sharpened white marble. She steps forward twice and chases him with another couple of slashes as he leaps backward, but suddenly stops her advance when she gets about ten meters from the mystery woman, suddenly falling back to deflect his shots with a third too-few movements, splitting the multiple prongs with fractal cuts that make sure none of them go around her.
"You." she growls, tossing her plain scabbard to the side and gripping the Throne Blade with both hands. "I knew you'd show up. From what I hear, you do every time the Unifiers make moves. And now I know where you're getting your intel from." She glances at his Rifler. "Where is it? If you don't have it, I'm going to hurt you a lot more than I need to."
But, despite all of that, there's something Robin cannot easily ignore. It wasn't Sevra, or the guards, who had reacted to him first. Before he'd said a word, that woman in the open black long coat had locked eyes with him. Red, through immaculate curls of white hair. She looks over her shoulder, away from staring at the statue, thoughtfully twirling something like a siver pen between painted nails. "Sevra. This is the chance you were promised, but don't forget why you're here." she says. It's hard to imagine the woman Robin is more familiar with taking orders from anyone but Klars, but the begrudgingly conscious look on her face tells of some serious favours traded to be here. "Yeah. I know." she replies.
And then Strawberry's bubble appears around the both of them. The guards look as if they don't quite know what to do, and move to try and hurry their probable employer out of the lobby, who shrugs off their hands. Sevra reacts with a split-second grin, now knowing she has an excuse, and transmutes herself into a streak of white and fire-coloured static, easily crossing the dome to strike Robin, with an intense, focused wave of heat expanding from the edge of where her sword probably is (it's too fast for him to see directly) to leave very little safe space on that side. When she stops her dash, the sword is smoking. "I've been training extra, just so I could beat that back out of you!" she says.
|Chase||Super Heaviness gets Mashin Chaser and his Lost Child where they need to be. Though he's not exactly out of the clear yet. The moment he's out of range, or he's not using it anymore, they're going to come at them from behind.
So, despite the probable property damage it might cause, they slam the door behind them, breaking off the door handle in the process as they quickly find a bookshelf to place in front of the entrance to help block it off.
Once it's sufficiently guarded, the swell of intense gravity stops, and they turn to Xion.
|X||Shooting past the guards and into the building proper, alongside Mack, the outline of his intangible form continued flashing and flickering at increasingly tighter intervals, the 'rhythm' increasing in 'tempo'. A soft, visual timer. While nothing from the outside could come in, so long as all parties sending and receiving were inside, there didn't seem to be any trouble with being able to trade information. X receives several locational snapshots and directions between Robin and Strawberry, and he puts them to use.
With one last flash of his outline, brighter than all the others, his intangibility wears off just as he pulls into the scuffle between Robin Sundance and the foul foes he'd decided to challenge to a showdown. The Ride Chaser is braked abruptly, turning on its side so X can lower one foot to the floor and kill his momentum. For the most part, it looks like everyone who'd showed up to investigate was here, now.
X jumps off of his machine and lands on his feet. He'd promised not to interfere with Robin's personal affair unless absolutely necessary, and he'd keep to that if possible. His color scheme had shifted back into his normal blue-on-black.
"Just give it up. Fighting any further than this is pointless for you."
His voice was stern but even and his intention was clear; stop or be stopped.
|Doctor Strange|| "Oh, man," says Strange, looking at Max Flare, the literal hot wheel. "Brings back some memories." When it returns, and Tomari mentions sending out Mr. Belt in Shift Technic, he chimes in. "I might even be able to fix it here, if it's not completely destroyed. C'mon. Let's follow him and wait it out. If Krim finds something down there, I can get us in."
Indeed--if it's not just a way to a boiler or some kind of trap, Strange will render himself intangible, fly through the floor, appear on the nearest open space on the other side, and cut open a portal for Tomari to step through.
|Xion||Locked in a room with... M-mashin Chaser-san??? All alone? No escape?
There's an odd flush to Xion's cheeks. "Is this the power of Shine's blessing? Lucky in love???" She frets, looking away with both hands on her cheeks.
Re-summoning her sunny key-blade, Xion dowses around the room. "I know! We'll find a really big air vent, and crawl through it! They'll never expect it, because this is a creepy mansion filled with lore. I'm a genius!"
She leans over to find an air duct, grinning, and looking back at Mashin Chaser, who is...
Enormous and purple.
"Nnnnnew plan. We should find something important, and... Wait, no, we need to stop people from doing... something? Because..."
Xion's expression falls, her wheat-laced bangs drooping. "We could probably work with Drive and the Sorcerer Supreme, if we really need tips on an investigation, but... Let's do our best!"
She pumps a fist. "While Robin fights, we'll find someone to help, okay?"
Tapping her keyblade to the blocked door with a soft 'kerchik' locking sound, she turns to one of the walls of books. "If you were a trapped person, in which direction would you be, Chase? The place is too spooky to dowse in, I think."
She reaches out her senses anyway, feeling around in the dark for trapped hearts among the pages.
|Penumbra|| Tamamo, for her part, is taken straight to the statue lobby, and its lovely skylight and grand stairs, in the middle of the ongoing battle between the Tempest fighter and Robin Sundance, who has stolen from the Unifiers (or rather, their remnant subfactions) three times now. Given that they're currently enclosed in Strawberry's forcefield, neither of them present much danger to her, but the two guards in the room that she hasn't charmed aim their weapons at her immediately and demand she stop moving.
The refined-looking white-haired woman in the black coat finally turns all the way around to look at her, somehow managing to look bored and amused at the same time. One hand goes to her hip, the other flicks the silver pencil between her fingers, and extends it into what looks like a long, slim pipe. "Who might you be, and why were you let inside? I gave strict instructions to keep lookie-loos off the property."
On Krim's end though, Shift Technic leads the way down into the twisting bends of old ventilation tracks, clattering and banging the whole way down, and then flies out the end, where the duct has been intentionally disconnected from a straight shot into the boiler room, falling out onto the floor below instead.
It ends up in a room that was probably once an exchanger area, completely hollowed out of all machinery and turned into an impromptu den, outside of any basement floors or cellar compartments one would ever reasonably search. It's barely larger than a walk-in closet, but has been stuffed with server decks, computer screens, teetering towers of thick tomes, and plastered with what look like spy movie posters over the bare concrete. Empty cans are neatly arranged in a corner, and a black metal desk eats up half the available space to support five monitors and four keyboards, with only a single chair between them. The only lighting is the glow of the myriad screens; only a couple show views inside and outside the mansion; the rest are monitoring all kinds of places that seem to have nothing to do with this, from closed-off meeting rooms to grassy training fields to a convoy moving through a barren desert.
A figure in jeans and a hoodie (with MECC branding) swivels from the chair, and leans down to scoop up the shift car. Under the hood, there is just a brushed, black steel, head-shaped frame, surrounding a polished, hemispherical screen. LEDs somewhere behind it light up into something resembling an emoji face, and the figure brings up a segmented, mechanical finger to 'shush' against it, with a little audible 'tink'. It points to the screen where Robin is, now plus Tamamo, and then, X speeding his way in.
Despite arriving via obviously hero-coded motorbike, X doesn't seem to get much of a reaction from the woman. Instead, she takes a moment with the slender pipe, then blows out a trickle of silvery smoke, glittering slightly under the skylight. "Fighting? I assure you this was being handled by the book until you barged in. Of course, I had some idea the little snake would find a way to drag someone from outside into this, so I took some precautions." She gestures with the instrument over to the battle. "And see now, how I've been attacked. I'd rather you turn around and hurry off before I call the authorities." she says. "Oh, of course. I am the authorities. Now get lost."
|Reiuji and Rin||"Hah! Shows what you guys know. I don't work for any organization at all." Utsuho announces proudly, perhaps not realizing just how unimpressive that sounds at all in her desire to contradict the guards. Still, being stopped raises her hackles enough that she's just about to just bash her way in, stopping instead to follow Strawberry Princess when she asks her to follow.
"Sure. These guys suck, anyway." She says just loud enough for the guards to hear, eventually crossing her arms behind her head while moving alongside the veteran magical girl. "Utsuho Reiuji, administrator of the Hell of Blazing Fires, strongest hell raven, Sun Eater."
She seems particularly pleased about that last one. She can at least figure out that Strawberry has something in mind, although it's not quite clear to her at first as they move further and further away from the guards. "Heard your name a couple of times now. Strawberry Princess, right? So what kind of baking do you do, anyway? Never heard of foods that let someone shoot off stuff like-"
She feels the tingling. Naturally, she starts grinning excitedly. "Oh. So you wanted to have a match out here, huh?" Utsuho cricks her neck lightly as she flaps her wings, hopping from one foot to the other to get herself warmed up. "Are we just gonna go straight to the good stuff, or what?"
While Utsuho is busy misinterpreting Strawberry Princess' intentions, Rin's made her way in! She's also utterly confused by what it is Sevra's saying to Robin, not yet familiar with the Unifiers and just trying to bumble her way through understanding what's going on. The expanding bubble has the window-loitering cat keeping her distance, although she does make her way down once she finds an opening.
And then it's time to actually do some snooping. She loiters briefly to watch the Masked Ranger's battle, Tamamo encountering someone Rin can only assume is 'the Miss', but her attention is diverted elsewhere: Trying to find the squatter! Choosing a direction at random, she opt sto look for stairs, vents, or even busted walls that might help her get further below the main floor of this building.
|Robin Sundance|| Ludicrously fast.
It's faster than he can see - but it's not faster than he can react to. She teleports forward and he blinks back, a flash-step that grows the bubble outwards. His foot whips around to catch the side of the stairwell again, swinging him backwards *just* before the blade can directly connect - and he still gets a slash across his face and a blast of sparks for his trouble. It dislodges him from the rail. He starts to fall, only to fire the Rifler straight up and drag himself upwards by the ceiling.
"Ma belle, I am flattered you think so highly of me."
"And I think quite so highly of you, too. Your abilities are strange and wondrous. I know that, while you and yours have them, there is no real victory - only delaying the inevitable. After all, you can manipulate something we cannot yet perceive more than a glimpse of. You have spent your life learning to wield this power. We have only just discovered that it exists."
Thief lands a little ways outside her reach. "And yet...despite that...I am not the sort who gives up so easily."
He spins something into his hand. It's a little rhomboid switch. White, save for the grey rim around the top. A blue button on top. He holds it up in front of his face.
"This is the fruit of my labor. Metal from your scabbard for the wires. A bit of the Tower's power source. A power system unravelled from the glove. All brought together for this moment."
"Enchante, ma belle. Be delighted. I made it just for you. A token of my affection."
Thief raises it above his head in a wide stance. His thumb presses the button.
Thief slams the switch into the Vaulder. It turns forward, extends - a security camera, attached to the door. Light shimmers out.
It looks for all the world like hexes overlapping in front of him. Like lenses spreading out. Five lenses, hexes, wheeling in the air. They look like Diter's shield; they split the air like Sevra's blade.
Thief walks forward, straight through the hexes.
Thief splits. One, two, three, four, five.
Five Masked Ranger Thiefs.
They move as one. One of them streaks forward, charging directly into her line of fire, a distraction to barrel straight over her and overwhelm her with fists and wheeling kicks - the Scout.
One of them goes left, firing blasts from his own Rifler - the Distraction.
One of them kicks off the rail and jumps over her, the Rifler pointing directly behind her. He fires at her legs, not her head - at the stairwell below her. The Safecracker.
The fourth Thief runs. He dives forward under an arc of her blade, around Scout's wheeling kicks, to deliver a springboard blow to her chin. The Muscle.
And the last Thief starts rolling backwards, firing cover fire for his other selves. The Getaway Driver.
It's a sight to behold. It's one big Masked Ranger Team attack, with just one person - but more importantly he's trailing the energy behind him, the rippling, strange energies that the Templars themselves wield.
This is what he's been stealing for.
A weapon to fight them on their own terms.
|Mack||Mack tears ass through the guards and the door. His bike's cargo racks glance the edges of the doorframe, and he goes through that, too. That gives him a crazy idea.
"Call you if I find anything," he yells/transmits over to X. "Gotta split up for a bit!" He turns his eyes for the edge of the building, as far as he could see it, and then swings the bike that way. He's pretty sure he'll go straight through the walls, even if he can't scan through them. Privacy measures rather than anti-intrusion, he thinks.
The mutant on the scrap-bike rides until he finds an exterior wall of the house, then rides parallel to it, aiming to intangibly pass through every other obstacle he comes to. His implanted sensor package goes into overdrive, taking dimensions of the rooms and adding them to a map being generated by his headware. He fully intends to grid-sweep the entire building by way of ghosting through the walls on a hovercycle.
There is absolutely nothing that could go wrong with this plan.
|Tomoe||Tomoe will find some very interesting things she would sere the warp gate is just freaking gone. She'll keep mapping things and soon she gets away from the mansion it changes it leaves Tomoe very confused for a moment then she starts to wonder about it. It doesn't take too long for her to get the idea. This place is indeed strange and thankfully she's able to find a way in, she'll fly on down. Find a good high window to get it open and force her way inside. She'll attempt to not break it but if she has to she will smash it if she can't get it open.
"Well well this is interesting...just what is this place?"
|Chase||Xion appears to be overheating. He knows she isn't human, but perhaps later he will talk to her about the importance of proper hydration, since that's the only cause he can think of off the top of his head.
She then asks a question, and rather than rub his chin thoughtfully, or otherwise outwardly show that he is thinking, Mashin Chaser just stands there stanced up like a man in a rubber suit.
An occasional grunt is the only sign that he hasn't totally ignored the girl, but eventually he comes up with an answer.
"If someone is trapped, the most likely places to search would be the basement or attic. I will look for the former."
With this revelation, they begin moving through the building in an attempt to find stairs leading down.
Only looking though, he wouldn't want to lose Xion.
|X|| X waves to Mack has he continues on, grinning briefly.
"I don't think so," he responds to the 'Miss', with a frown. "If you really had the authority to be here and do this, you wouldn't be suppressing information the way you are. You're trying to assume control of this estate by force."
Before any other dialogue, sharp or blunt, could be traded between the two, the incredibly skilled Masked Thief pulled off a brand new experimental attack before their eyes. It catches X's attention briefly at the sheer oddity of the spectacle, before he refocused on the tall, white haired woman.
X narrows his eyes at her, "Stand down and pull your men out of here. If you won't comply, I'll have no choice but to subdue you."
|Penumbra|| Mack blazing his way through the building finds out that his assumptions are correct; the mansion turned info-storage doesn't seem to have any real intrusion countermeasures but sheer obscurity; and certainly they work, because he'd never have been here if someone hadn't given him exact coordinates.
What does happen, however, is that his mapping software constantly populates his minimap with empty rooms. There are walls and doors and windows, but everything else shows up, even on his native software, as a big scrambly captcha static bar, with the word [REDACTED] over it, and an emoji shush face. Trying to access the information indicates it's somehow been encrypted on the fly, despite nobody having any access to his systems at all.
Also, none of the guards can catch him while he's doing Casper wheelies through mazes of rooms that are solid for them, so they give up and begin rushing into the main hall instead.
~~That damn cat again~~ A very normal cat stalking around the place doesn't have any trouble going about unimpeded. Unfortunately, up and down the stairs, room to room, the building seems to have nothing in store for her but endless stockpiles of knowledge that has somehow been rendered actively completely useless. She can find several ventilation ducts, which lead around an old building like this as they should, but it'd be a tight squeeze even for a liquid life form such as a cat. If she chooses to do so, she has no choice at all about falling into the boiler.
Escaping from that particular situation due to being a Kasha and not actually a cat, she'd end up in an old concrete boiler chamber, gritty brass pipes included, that has been retrofitted with rubber mats, extra electrical wiring, a massive radio set taking up an entire wall, like a police monitoring station, and a compact, hexagonal object, brushed matte black metal and half a ton in weight, the size of a coffee table, which hums ominously. Given all the wires connected to it, it's either the power source, or a lot of power is going into it.
|Tamamo|| Tamamo lightly gestures back the way she came, dismissing her escort with a "Thank you, gentlemen. I have kept you long enough." She shows no surprise or concern for the guns pointed her way, though only because it would break the natural magic that is Looking Like You Belong, which she reflexively maintains.
"I? Why, I was invited here. If you wished otherwise, then I suppose it was not your invitation. This, however, is no great surprise. It seems someone quite wishes for me to experience such sights as others have kept in obscurity. Curious, is it not?" While she speaks, she's scanning for anything that could cause problems for her Charms. That woman had such a device, before, so seeing another one wouldn't surprise her. Brute-forcing a solution has both short- and long-term consequences she'd rather avoid, putting aside that she hasn't actually been offended by anyone here, as yet. Except the Tempest agent, of course. With no good reason to avoid it, she'll set it to 'low' and take a different tact than she'd used for the guards.
"I am Tamamo no Mae. You are free to bask in the blessing of my presence, to seek my favor, or to explain yourself that I may leave with curiosity sated, though if you would rather choose another path, I shall not stop you. You may, for instance, choose to assert 'authority' over all the gods of heaven. I do not see this as a wise use of time, but has such concern ever stopped a mortal, afore now?" There's a bit of a teasing tone in there, a clear challenge to authority, but also an appeal to reason. Tamamo isn't here to stop her, and can be dealt with through means other than force. It's 'dealing with her by force,' refusing to deal at all, or otherwise showing disrespect, that she's painting as a foolish waste of time. She is too instinctively important to ignore, like the one figure in the foreground who keeps hogging camera space, even if this means pushing every other person in the room into 'the background,' no matter what they're currently up to.
|Strawberry Princess|| "Utsuho Reiuji," Strawberry repeats, consolidating the name in her memory. Her pronunciation is unexpectedly flawless. "Administrator of the Hell of Blazing Fires... I've never met anybody who ran a Hell before. Isn't that sort of- bad? Or... I guess it must not keep you that busy, if you're here."
She laughs a little anxiously at the moniker- "Why do you call me the 'Baker', anyway? I've never really, you know, baked anything. Just make sandwiches and snacks. Or noodles, if that counts."
She's settled in all comfy-like, poking at her mobile Tetris and fishing around in her pocket for some nicotine gum, when Utsuho notices the tingling. Her eyes follow the hell-raven in blank incomprehension for a minute- her attention is elsewhere, trying to push through the info-fuzzing and stay connected to her ghostly other selves- before it finally clicks what she's being asked. Strawberry's eyebrows climb up her forehead; her hand clumsily fumbles for her gun, but doesn't draw it. Her phone buzzes softly as she loses the game of Tetris. The response probably isn't what Utsuho's expecting from such a mighty warrior:
"Please don't hurt me."
|Penumbra|| Chase looking for stairs down the normal way finds that there are two routes to the basement, in symmetrical places in the east and west wings. They've been blocked off. Sealed off, actually. Literally poured full of concrete and painted over. If there is something important down there, it isn't meant to be accessible to . . . people, really. The chances of this are high, but also strange, especially since it doesn't seem like this place has a standing crew or maintenance staff.
Tomoe really just has no trouble breaking a window though.
X elicits a callous laugh from the woman in front of him. "So, preying on ignorance it is. Never dismiss free labour capital; the Multiverse is full of people who have no idea what their time is worth after all." She then gestures half-heartedly around the circular hall that opens up into all those floors of books. "To be clear with you; I'm not doing anything. The Encryption in place here is very much the point of this installation. It was very costly to develop, is very valuable, and also doesn't belong to the wannabes currently sitting on it. This property, and everything on it, including the information meta-technology, represents a considerable portion of my investments, and I'll have them back, as per-contract. I repeat. You don't have any business here. Get out of my sight."
Tamamo, meanwhile, finds that the woman in front of her not only has 'a device', but that exact same one. No, a better one. Higher end. More advanced. Pinned to the inside of her jacket collar, between an elaborate weave of straps framed by thick fabric and edged with black fur. The pipe, or rather what's in it, reeks of something adjacent to magic as well, however the woman herself appears to be totally normal. Not measurably superhuman in any way, and with no particular outstanding presence outside of sheer confidence.
"Pleased to meet you." says 'The Miss'. It's somewhat lukewarm, but the change in tact is sudden and strong. Not just calculated, but brazenly so. The plain idea that she has no use for X's heroic interference, but will instantly seize on some kind of opportunity presented by Tamamo being here, even if it's extremely inconvenient. "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's. It's an honour to have you here, but I'll have you know that I'm the proprietor of this particular installation; I had it built and developed with my money and my personnel, and so having it back is my concern. I'd think that's a little below the concerns of the solar divine, wouldn't you say?"
"However, if you'd like to talk about it, I'd be willing to move my next appointment to make a little time. Over tea maybe? See what we can do for each other. But first I need this rat out of my cellar."
|Mack||Mack zooms through, doing Casper wheelies whenever he sees a guard. He doesn't change his course, so it's possible that they could head him off at the pass... if whoever designed the mansion had designed it with a perfect grid layout and easily-accessible access points from multiple directions.
Since this place was not created by a colony management sim enthusiast, Mack has no problems with the guards. In fact, they stop chasing him at some point, prompting him to transmit intel to that extent to the Paladins while he tries to figure out a course of action. He ends up checking what he *does* have -- and finds that it's all encrypted, redacted, and emoji-filled.
Which is both frustrating and a little existentially terrifying. Mack immediately shuts down his sensor package, for fear of some kind of super-hacker being out there and able to get into his head like that. No signals go in or out. He withdraws mentally, too, his psychic awareness folding up in on itself, leaving him feeling astoundingly blind and a lot safer.
It's only an overreaction if you've never met a mind-melter.
Mack checks what he did get. It's a floor plan, but it has no other useful information. He makes a guess to where the way down could be (all the good stuff is always in the basement), but finds nothing in particular that indicates there's a way there. He drums his fingers on his handlebars, thinking, and then instead goes to see if he can go upwards instead. If there's a master bedroom or big, expansive office, he expects he'll find some kind of hint as to how they're doing all this and what the purpose of this place is there.
|X||X's narrowed eyes squint just a little bit further as he sighs. It's a very human action; he didn't need to breathe and thus, the very act of sucking in air was something mimed from humans, a visible sign of his exasperation. But, he'd made his stance clear. He sent his message crystal clear, back out or else. She was opting for 'or else'.
He hated when this happened, and it happened often -- he could only suppose it was a fault with himself that he could seemingly never convince anyone to back down, but he also knew that there were some people who couldn't /be/ talked down. Some people could not be reasoned into a different course of action.
He knew what he was here to do and he would do it. There was no more ambiguity regarding the situation, everyone here had made their intentions known and reached their decision. X's body shifts colors again to the palette that closely matched Doctor Strange, and quickly aimed his Buster for the floor under the woman's feet and firing at it. The 'missile' on impact made a small portion of it intangible and X, sprinting at max speed, aims to tackle her down into, and through it, to whatever basement level might be below.
|Xion||Confronted with a path down to the basement as Mashin Chaser and Shine X continue their zany romp through Uncle Infosec's Panopticon Pleasure Mansion, Xion stops, and considers the blank Stanced Up form of Chase, screws up her courage, and makes a decision. "I don't want to split up with you! Especially if you're going into the scary basement! You'll need a light, if you want to go into the darkness."
<Tac-Watch> 4 Chase says, "The basement is sealed off. Nobody could have gotten in."
<Tac-Watch> 4 Xion says, "Just because the hole is sealed doesn't mean there isn't someone at the bottom of the well, Chase."
Xion levels her keyblade at the 'sealed off' entrance to the basement tapping it with the 'clik!'-sound of a lock unlatching. Then, dramatically, she takes a running kick at the barrier.
"If it's really a wall, and not an extra locked door, this'll figure it out!"
|Shinnosuke Tomari||Shift Technic is grabbed by the mechanical man, allowing Mr. Belt to see the monitors through the car's spotlights. Mr. Belt doesn't speak up, however, but the car returns to Shinnosuke Tomari as he passes through the portal with Strange.
He(?) doesn't want them to talk. But that's not an option. "Shinnosuke Tomari, Paladins, police officer. I assume by the fact you're spying on this and haven't told us to leave that you're not with the gangster investors down there." He's listening to the screen, and his face sours as the 'miss' in charge speaks to X. Tomari's voice is hushed, just to be polite to the shush person.
"If you can speak, please tell us who you are and who you work for. We'll be honest with you, in exchange. Anything you need to know."
|Tomoe||Tomoe gets in without a hatch once she's in Tomoe will take a look around and start to sweep the floor. In the way one would expect someone who came from an MMORPG might she's searching for anything of note, chests, books, signage, people, anything that might help give more information. Or even just interesting parts of the building. She's on guard for trouble or even others from the Paladins or whomever else is poking about this strange place. She's also aware she may get jumped when she does.|
|Doctor Strange|| Stepping through the portal, Strange closes it behind him. It's a little cramped for three people, especially for two as tall as he and Shinnosuke. Something about this person... maybe they *can't* speak in the traditional fashion? Their face is just a screen, and there are those emoji things... so. How about this, then.
A notepad appears in Strange's hand, a pen in the other. He scrawls out a little form for their 'squatter' to fill out. His handwriting, even when he takes his time to write it, is wobbly and messy.
MY NAME IS ____
I __AM/__AM NOT THE ONE WHO SENT THE MISSIVES
I AM HERE BECAUSE _______ (Strange leaves more room for an answer here)
I WANT _______
Strange tears off the sheet and hands it, along with the pin, to the as-yet unnamed squatter.
|Reiuji and Rin||Indeed, it's that ~~mother fu~~ trouble-making cat that finds her way in! Where she's found herself, she's not quite sure, but squeezing into the awfully tight space is a sacrifice Rin is willing to make. She's none too pleased about falling into the boiler, but when she finds herself in something far less boiling than she'd expected, she takes note of all the strange additions.
She has no idea what most of this stuff even is, but it's definitely not a normal boiler room. The radio set gets a few slaps to see if it does anything, the mats are nudged to see if there's anything under underneath them, and the hexagonal object gets a more thorough inspection. She even goes as far as transforming back to her humanoid state to get her hands on the thing, trying to wiggle it without removing the wires.
Naturally, Rin also tries to just lift the thing. She grunts and strains to no avail, though, because she's not the beefy one of the duo. Only then does she start trying to make the really heavy thing easier to lift, doing it in the smartest way possible: Removing the wires with her bare hands.
Utsuho's fight-idiot grin turns to a blank stare when she hears that request from Strawberry Princess. Her wings stop flapping, the heat that had almost started to build around her dies down, and she even stops hopping a moment later.
"... What." She really doesn't know how to react to this at all. The posture, the barely-there reaction, even the limp attempt at grabbing something. "Why... This? Didn't you call me out here to fight? I can feel your power in the air!" She snaps briefly, looking and sounding more frustrated and bewildered by the second.
"So if you weren't looking for a fight, then what is all this?" She asks while moving over to Strawberry's side, staring at her for a moment before letting out another frustrated grunt and squatting nearby. Depending on where Strawberry is sitting, that may be on the back of a bench, on a tree, or even something slightly off the ground as long as she can get both feet on it. "It tingles like mine, but not. Or is this another one of your...? Oh."
The baker thing. "You make food for your power, right? That's why you're called Strawberry Princess." Utsuho sounds convinced that she's right despite not having any other proof otherwise.
|Tamamo|| "Oh, this place does seek to downplay its own importance, yet this is all deception, no? It is the most curious library I have seen in more than a year. You shall need do more than this to satisfy me."
X is charging for her.
"Another time, then. We shall be in touch." Not that Tamamo is actually leaving. If they're leaving the room, then she's going to check out the statue. A touch-range reading might still tell her something, even if it's in the way that she sees nothing. Its past would be the most interesting to her, at the moment, but she'd settle for knowing its future.
She's flatly ignoring the goons, and more politely ignoring the fight in the bubble.
|Penumbra|| Sevra pursues Robin up the stairs as easily as over flat and level ground, bouncing from step to railing and back to cut short the natural spiral. As far as Elites go, she's unusually aggressive. She doesn't leave significant pauses for back and forth banter and scoping each other out, and it's tough to carry a dialogue without those ordinary pauses that happen between two experienced fighters. Exactly the sort of person who would attack during a transformation sequence, or an opponent dramatically staggering back to their feet. It's instinctive, even, rather than malicious. Where would somebody learn to fight like that?
When she sees the switch, and hears it described, however, she fumes in response. "You what?! You broke it, didn't you! That was-- that was a gift from Klars you boorish idiot! Why even come back if you don't have it?!" It seems to have rattled her, a little. He can see subtle twitches of impatience and upset in her stance.
So she takes him head on. The Scout rushes her from the front, leaps over the extended slash that cleanly bisects the stairs, and pummels against her guard from above, before being struck by a sliding back-bilted thrust to the sternum and a spinning roundhouse kick of her own. She leaps from her high ground and begins ascending the balconies as she comes under fire from the Distraction, running ahead of its fire and sideways along the walls and railings, and the reflects several shots from the Rifler back at him, catching them in the bifurcation of the shattered marble blade and flicking them back out. She jumps from the Safecracker's leg shot, but the cloven stairwell collapses from under her, causing her to fall straight onto the Muscle's two-legged launcher kick. Her head snaps back in what would be a knockout blow in a boxing max, as she is bodily thrown off the ground, stunned for long enough to land heavily on her back. She rolls over from what looks like sheer muscle memory, leaning up against a bookshelf for stability for just a moment, then spitting a wad of blood. Her jaw is bruised, though it should probably be cleanly broken.
"You need six." Sevra suddenly says. "It doesn't work if there aren't six." She stands back up straight, pushing off the shelf. "What was the point of coming back here? Just to pick a fight? What does that have to do with being a thief? Especially one that self-absorbed." She shortens the two-part handle with a snap, causing the floating pieces of blade to contract, and then split apart, leaving her wielding a shorter blade in each hand, in reverse grips. "But then, I called in a lot of favours to be here, just for this! You'll get what's coming to you after last time, just you see!"
For a split second, it seems like Sevra herself has split into multiples as well. Given greater luxury of examination than Robin actually has, he'd be able to tell that they're mostly after-images from moving so fast, using some kind of superhuman footwork to occupy six different areas for long enough to seem mostly solid. The flickering duplicates begin chasing down his doubles, using their agile twinned blades to adeptly deflect fire and close in to perform lethal multi-part disabling takedowns.
Other than being used as weapons, however, he doesn't see any activity from the blades. It seems he's pushed her to using an older, more reliable technique, native to her place of origin.
|Strawberry Princess|| "My power...?" As Utsuho gets frustrated, Strawberry's body language shifts from limp anxiety to genuine concern and something approximating guilt. "I'm- sorry, Ms. Reiuji. I didn't mean to let you down, it's just- I thought I'd get you away from those guards, right? There was gonna be a dumb fight, and I didn't want that." Her expression wavers somewhere between a contrite grimace and a sympathetic smile; her shoulders slump. "I just- thought we'd get to know each other. You know?"
The food thing makes her outright burst out laughing, though. She shakes her head, wiping her face with the back of one hand. "Oh, gosh, no- I'm sorry. That's just a magical girl name. It's... no, here, I'll show you. It's simpler." Standing up (and towering over Utsuho in the process, though she's too gangly to make it intimidating), she unslings the carrying case from her back and pops it open, pulling out...
A slightly undersized magic wand with feathery wings and a darkened crystal at the tip! A gunmetal-gray reactor is unnaturally bolted to the side, a cancerous tangle of pipes and wires surrounding a thickly reinforced core. A red screen displays a number that ticks down with each passing second:
It is, of course, unmistakably the source of her radiation- fission, rather than the fusion Utsuho's used to. "I don't have any magic of my own left," she says wistfully, "so this makes it instead. 'Life support'. But, you know- I'm glad to have it at all."
|Robin Sundance|| Six.
He needs six.
The five Thieves get knocked aside, toku sparks bursting around them. They fall backwards from the onslaughts, rolling backwards, until they break apart into shimmering hexes and vanish. Thief's fingers clench. He stands up, and moves to changes keys-
ALARM! ALARM! ALARM! ALARM!
Bright blue lightning rocks across Thief's body. The Caper Camera crackles as energy ripples across the belt. Alarm lights flare across the Vaulder as he stumbles and hits the ground on his knees.
Sevra's attack crashes into him.
There's no fire for her to deflect, nothing for her to stop. Thief's body is racked with pain, blue and red lightning bursting along his body as she comes in with her blade. The takedowns are quick, efficient, and brutal - sparks erupt across his body, joining the lightning as he's sent spiralling away in an explosion. He hits the stairwell and bounces twice, three times, four times. He keeps rolling as the belt rings out, CRIME OVER.
Robin bumps once at the bottom of the stairs.
Sevra's scabbard falls to the side.
It's undamaged, save for some scrapings of metal.
Robin, covered in his own blood, tosses the scabbard up to her.
He has his honor, after all.
And then his face hits the ground.
|Penumbra|| Xion jabs her keyblade against the freshly painted floor. There is a loud click. A long, rectangular, door-shaped passage opens through what must be a thousand gallons of cement, exposing the stairs like parting some kind of grey sea. It's not just a blocked door; they filled in the entire thing. Explosives wouldn't even do the job.
There is also a great big door at the end, matte black and fitted into a much older iron frame, but the locking down of this door is a foregone conclusion, and she and Chase are able to enter into the basement.
A few sharp corridors with nothing special in them take the pair of them to where Rin is, currently slapping a very complicated dashboard, and then trying to lift a mysterious science hexagon. It is extremely hot to the touch. Much hotter than the boilers. Though the room itself is only stuffily warm, the surface of the metal could char steaks easily. The cables have all been screwed in and bolted into place with specialty tools; they could be ripped out, but seems like they'd be made that way as a proprietary way to keep them from coming loose for a very good reason.
This roughly coincides with the electric lighting in the house flickering for just an instant, catching some attention. 'The Miss' looks upwards. X fires his buster. "Down!" yells one of the guards, and tackles her aside. The intangible floor causes him to plummet into the basement, and land on top of the curious cat, momentarily too dazed and rattled to figure out how to get off her.
This also supremely irritates the woman. Without apparently being in much of a hurry, she takes the offered hand of her other bodyguard, who helps her back to her feet. She dusts off her coat with one hand, the other somehow still having a hold of that pipe without any of its contents unsettled. Another drag. "I see I've been too polite to you. Muscle without a boss' brains behind them really is just a nuisance." She points down. A loud, vibrating *fwoom* fills the room, and an immense pressure falls on X, like a cargo ship filled with bricks. Buzzing static fills his sensors, audible like a broken television. The floor cracks under his weight. Disturbance fills his vision as 'the Miss' walks up to him.
This shouldn't be possible, because Tamamo had just ascertained she has no magic nor combat powers whatsoever, which matches up with having secret service goons with her as backup. Faced with facts though, his options are pretty limited with just her shoes in his field of vision for the time being. "I hope you aren't under the impression that you are immune to consequences just because of the company you keep." she says. "If I hear a sincere apology, I *might* just let this go."
For a moment, though, she focuses on Tamamo. "Can you see what it's holding?" she asks, about a statue clutching a void of long-removed ornament. "My reasons for wanting an information storage system like this are my own, unfortunately. Business, you understand. It wouldn't do for people to walk in and take things, after all the hard work we put into cataloguing it."
Examining the statue up close finds an obnoxious blank of any useful information. It doesn't seem like her powers are blocked in any way, but it feels like the statue has neither a past nor a future. Up close, however, she can see a tiny camera embedded into the base, a sound system-- and then her hand catches on something that she can't see. A small, invisible, metal protrusion.
|Penumbra|| Rin screwing with the radio panel has an effect Mack can sense too. And by sense, that means see, with his eyeballs. Touring around the top floor, he finds a way into an attic, and that the entire space has been weather reinforce and sensor shielded inside, laid down with surprisingly luxurious carpet, and *stuffed* with transmission equipment, from old World War era radios to floating globes of energy inside complicated rings of wave-measuring bands. The whole room hums with the sounds of hundreds of voices, none of which he can make out, and glows with the lights of readouts he can't make sense of, but they briefly become intelligible when Rin slaps the panels randomly.
"Verity, you can't-"
"Are you sure Sevra will be-"
"--the Listening Post will be--"
"--Rider a species?"
In the basement, the robotic figure takes Strange's paper, wads it up, then tosses it in a trash can overflowing with spent batteries. The emotive display disappears from its face, followed by a rapid, coloured-in text scrawl, reading: "My name is not important. I'm here because this is I have to finish some work. I want Acquisitions to give up and leave; the terms of our partnership didn't include us having to turn over everything we found; that was only implicit for benefiting both our groups."
There's a moment's pause to allow them to read, then it blanks and resumes writing. "But we at The Hub can't be compromised that easily. We've taken plenty of lessons by what you people get up to. If the Acquisitors want what we have, they have to get in line for it, the same way as everyone else."
"But since you've been reliable clients of ours, we'll give you some special dispensation, if you can get rid of that woman. Without killing her, though I don't know if that would be possible right now."
|Strawberry Princess|| There is, of course, nobody aiding X- he is standing alone against the Miss, or lying prone as the case may be. Anybody with eyes can see that he and Tamamo are the only representatives of the Paladins there, and the kitsune has decided to sit this one out. And yet, someone- or something- grasps his hand as he lays on the floor. He can't see it, but he can feel it, the not-quite-human fingers interlacing with his own. It's the shape of a hand with broken bones inside it.
It squeezes his palm slightly. There's something there, somehow- something he can copy. Something he's copied before to terrifying effect.
Inaudible to everyone but him, an unfamiliar girl's voice whispers right next to his head: "Take it."
|Doctor Strange|| "It's important to me. You just don't wanna give it. But that's fine." It was probably this person that sent the missive, anyway.
"She's a tough nut to crack," says Strange to Tomari. "I'm gonna get you in--and get you a way to remove her." He's already working on a portal. It's going to open directly above her, dumping Tomari out where he can make a surprise attack. Immediately after Tomari is clear, the portal changes. It no longer leads to the room where he and the Squatter are in. Instead, it re-orients itself.
Widening, the portal opens up to the middle of the Great Ocean. Yeah, it's that trick again. She can either stay, deal with Tomari and the ruinously powerful thing that X has just been given... or she can take a swim.
|Shinnosuke Tomari||Shinnosuke watches the paper go into the trash, and the mechanical person to speak. He considers it for a moment - and then nods, when they say 'without killing her'. "Alright. I believe you. I don't know if I *trust you*, but I believe you. So..."
Shift Speed, the red car with white stripes, is grabbed, as he turns to Strange. "Right. Thank you."
Once the portal's open, Tomari twists the knob on the belt, places the car into the bracer, and shifts it into gear. "Henshin!"
He then moves to dash straight through the portal, to be dropped above the Miss. The belt calls out in the last second before impact.
DRIVE! Type -- Speed!
Kamen Rider Drive comes down in a kick, moving straight for her upper body, trying to deck her into the floor. Red body armor has formed around him, over a black bodysuit, with a bug-like helmet. The kick is just below 'finisher-strength' - he doesn't want to kill her, of course, but she's certainly a threat, even if she's not a monster. A Full Throttle would be wrong.
"Sorry I'm late, X! Mind if I run a lap?"
|Penumbra|| When Robin hits the ground, Sevra finally stops flickering between six different places as well, stopping in front of him in a puff of dust and broken stairwell pieces. She's breathing heavily, and sweating somewhat from the intense physical exertion of whatever that technique was.
From a prone position, he can see her scoop down to pick up the scabbard, turn it over, examine it closely, then sigh in relief. Re-joining her Throne Blade, there's a moment where she clearly considers skewering him to finish him off, then sheathes the sword instead. "You can't fit five sides into six points." She says. "I don't know what business you have with the HEXSYS, but you should quit while you're ahead. I'm letting you go out of respect for how far you've come so far, but don't expect . . . well, you'll meet them eventually if you keep this up."
|Xion||Xion's never 'unlocked' concrete before. But, as a merely VERY EXTREMELY locked door and not, in fact, a wall, Xion--
Jams her foot on the concrete-backed door and yelps. "Aa-chachacha!" She jangles in surprise. "Woah! That's a lot of concrete! Woooooooow!" She gasps as the grey tide parts.
For a moment, Xion experiences red, painful flashes of something that causes her eye to twitch, bringing up an hand to wipe at her face. "W-woah. Heh-heh. Anyway! Let's find the trapped people in the basement!"
One unlocking later, the pair Mystery Gang down the stairs and through the hall and--
Someone's hurt, in the basement!
"Chase, you were right! It is the basement!" She happily announces, jogging off with her keyblade over her shoulder and ignoring the CAT touching the CUBE to the downed goon.
"Hey mister! Are you lost? I was pretty lost too, but..."
She looks up, through the hole in the floor, confused. "What's even going on? Did you fall from there? I'd give you this key and tell you to find your own answers, but actually I'm looking for some too!"
|X|| -- BZZZT!!
X, before being given the chance to take her to the basement to do battle, suddenly finds himself being pressed down upon. It takes everything he has to remain upright, but even that doesn't last long as he's forced to his knees, pulled downwards and crushed from above by a monumental Pressure.
The android grits his teeth tightly as she admonishes him. "I ... won't...!"
He strains. It wasn't like being stuck in Gravity Beetle's attacks, it was more like .. being dragged so deep down to the ocean that his armor chasis was starting to crack. That was the kind of overwhelming and encompassing force he felt, the only thing he could compare it to. His sytems worked overtime, trying to force him to overcome it, but ...
Now that he thought of it, this wasn't the first time he'd been incapacitated this way, was it? But it'd been a really long time since the last. It wasn't the same, but the feeling of frustration and hopelessness .. it was just like back then.
For a split second, he saw purple armored feet standing there gloating down at him, instead of that woman. But he came back to reality quickly enough. "Ngh..!"
Back then, he'd found the strength to stand up, and the power that was hidden deep inside of him exploded. But now, he couldn't feel that strength, as if it had been completely emptied out.
Unable to move from his spot on the ground, something grasps onto his hand. " .. ?"
It was the touch of a friend, and the belief that it carried. Take it.
X grips it tightly and breathes in. Something appeared, deep inside, again. His body shifts colors, his armor becoming a familiar red while his body suit, initially in Doctor Strange's blue, turned into a pretty pink.
The red gem on his helmet glowed as his system regained a previous tool.
His body released a great burst of power, filling him up just like it had when he'd fought Vile and Sigma. A beam of light blasted through the ceiling, heeding his call and falling onto his body, covering him with new armor over his arms, legs, and his head.
Even his Buster looked different, as he charged the Strawbeam Cannon past the limit, releasing it as wave of supercondensed Annihilator energy that expands from his body in a sphere, threatening to obliterate whatever got caught in the explosive expansion.
X pants, back on his feet. "Feel free," he says to Drive. "But I'm not down for the count, yet! I won't give up!"
|Reiuji and Rin||"Wha? But dumb fights are fun. You should try 'em more." Utsuho recommends, then looks dumbstruck again when Strawberry Princess expresses her intent to actually speak normally with the raven. "That's... Uh. Really?" She actually sounds rather agreeable to that. "Sure, why not? Surface-dwellers have been pretty interesting, anyway. And strong, too!"
Another laugh, and Utsuho looks up as Strawberry Princess gets that wand out. She does't seem intimidated nor concerned about the size difference, her attention instead captured by the wand that draws a chuckle from the raven. "Ah, so you got one, too! Except yours is..." She raises the coppery orange control rod covering her entire right arm to hold them side by side. The rod in question looks more like a long club than a rod.
"You said.. 'Magical girl'? So you use that to make the magic, and then that turns into the energy? It's... Yeah, it definitely feels different from mine, but sort of close. If you need energy, though, why not just..." She closes her eyes, then snaps her fingers and points towards the place they just left.
"You could eat that sun god. Then you'd get the same kinda powers I got! Probably. Even though you've already got..."
She squints at the timer. "... Whatever it is you're doing now already. Uh. What /are/ you doing, anyway?"
Trying to hoist the science hexagon was a very bad idea. Even being used to the heat doesn't make Rin immune to burns, and the cables being stuck in place means she's just on track to not make any progress (visible to herself). Wiping some sweat off her forehead, she looks up just as she hears one of the guards shouting, coinciding with him landing right on her.
That, of course, results in yowling and screeching. Luckily, with the guard dazed at just the right time, she can focus entirely on scrambling out from underneath him and escaping from the room with only moderate to severe crashing into the radio set again on her way out.
As luck would have it, Xion and Chase are there, too! Rin has just enough approximate knowledge of both of them to assume they're not going to turn her in for trying to steal that science hexagon, too, and she quickly moves to keep them between herself and the goon/the hole in the ceiling.
"You're here, sis! Bro! This place is super big. Confusing, too, with a bunch of weird machines and guys falling from the ceiling. He was trying to beat me up!"
Chase doesn't seem surprised by Xion's ability to just completely unlock the concrete with her giant key (because it's a giant key, stupid).
He is also totally a nice and compassionate guy that consciously chooses not to point out how pointless her kick was, and his silence isn't totally because he does not fully understand the concept of feeling cringe for someone else.
Doors dealt with, however, Mashin Chaser is now free to enter the same room as Rin along with Mysterious Shine X (pronounced Key).
He spots the cat youkai attempting to steal a strange science artifact, shortly before a guard ends up phasing through the ceiling and landing on top of her. Without a second thought, and able to deduce that whatever it is this cat person wants is probably important, enough for her to risk her life for it, Mashin Chaser swoops in to pick it up. It's hot, but between a layer of armor and their ability to simply DEAL, they don't fear holding on to it. At least for a while.
This is probably a bad read and the cat is just a DAMNED CAT trying to steal shiny things, but Chase wants to believe. Believe in this shitty cat he just met.
|Tamamo|| There is a thing here. Tamamo has stated, in no uncertain terms, why she is here. Of course she tries every possible way to interact with The Secret Thing, going through magical analysis, divination beyond the realm of mages, and a variety of finger motions. Apart from a reasonable ordering of actions, there's no hesitation.
X decided to force an issue, and it might not be going well for him. Tamamo looks long enough to determine that he isn't in danger of being crushed to death automatically, with no outward suggestion of concern. Afterward, though her senses are mostly focused on the statue, she looks at the Miss. "How unfortunate. Of course, your preferences on the matter are understandable, but what may we discuss, if you will not speak of this place, and this place will not speak of itself? My reason for being here cannot be satisfied with only this. There is that implication, in writing a summons, that it shall be worth the reader's time. I need not impress upon you the worth of mine."
For a moment, she's distracted, looking above, trying to spot where Robin Sundance has gone to, and his opponent... Sevra, wasn't it?
Almost idly, "As for him, it would be wise not to discount the company kept. Rather, it is a matter of *counting*." There's not really enough time to expect someone to grasp the particular meaning intended by that before Tomari's appearance.
|Penumbra|| There's a negative flash across the robot person's screen-face. It pulls down its MECC merch hoodie, then taps with a metallic noise. "My name is not important." flashes repeatedly, like a hold alarm, for several seconds, before being replaced as it swivels back to the screens. "We don't have complete information on whatever she brought with her; out of the other groups, hers has by far the best information security. But you have a good shot right now. While she doesn't have any of her usual favourites with her. That woman from the Tempest; she's only here for honour, and a sentimental reason. But don't overdo it. You won't like what happens."
After that, and the Sorcerer Supreme fires his portal and closes it again, it extends its hand to shake with Strange. "We won't be staying here much longer, so you're welcome to the class six materials while you're here. We at the Hub appreciate your assistance, and I hope you appreciate ours."
"Matching people like you to the places you need to be; that's what we do. The right people in the right place at the time. That's what matters. The information is the important part; it always is. More important than anything else, in this Multiverse big enough that it loses itself in its own scope. You can't rely on a faction for everything."
|Mack||Mack plods along upstairs, abandoning his scrap-laden bike at the bottom of the staircase in order to more quietly approach whatever might be hidden therein. Part of him wonders if this is actually how someone associated with a group like the Paladins ought to behave, skulking around private property without permission from the owner in search of wrong-doing to accuse them of. Most of him, however, rationalizes it thusly:
1) A mysterious letter usually indicates something worth investigating;
2) A large number of identically-dressed goons usually indicates something worth fighting about;
3) No one who uses point #2 isn't up to something sketchy;
4) The Paladins cannot function entirely reactively and remain effective; thus,
5) The suspiciously sensor-proof mansion conceals a dark and dangerous secret to actively pursue.
He did not expect it to have quite such nice carpeting, though.
Mack trudges into the attic-room, eyes scanning (visually!) the interior. He hasn't seen such a collection of comm-related junk since he last went back to Madhaven. He creeps into the midst of it all, the overlapping sounds total nonsense to him. It isn't until something changes, and he's not sure what, that he can make out any of it -- and then it sounds an awful lot like the Multiversal radio bands he's been chatting up lately.
The mutant cautiously reactivates his sensor package's recording functions for all of a second and a half, trying to get a detailed picture of this room's interior contents. He isn't sure if it will work, but his theory is that if they're a listening post, they have to have a small gap in whatever obscurement they're using in order to properly monitor all of this, and that this room represents that gap. Failing that, he'll look for something with a data port and try to jack in, suddenly very interested in absconding with radio frequencies and access codes for the people fighting down there. Maybe they're talkative.
His Option 3 involves physically removing pieces of the room and checking it out later. That seems like an even worse idea, though. We'll back pocket that.
|Doctor Strange|| Strange rolls his eyes at the flashing message, but relents.
When offered, he shakes hands with the entity. "I agree." Whether that's about the necessity of information, or the fact that you can't rely on one faction for everything isn't clear, and he doesn't elaborate. Maybe it's both.
"The materials... those aren't so important to me as any information you could give me on them. If there's, like... a primer, some documentation..." Dryly, "...maybe shoot me an email..." Ever one to let sleeping dogs lie, Strange is primarily concerned with the applications of those materials, how and if they might be misused. If he's going to take them or take advantage of them, more than likely it's going to be to seal them away or else quarantine them from dangerous hands.
If there's anything here that's benign, or else anything which might tangibly benefit the peacekeeping, aid and improvement efforts of the Paladins with minimal risk, then he might be interested in actually snagging it for more than just sealing away.
|Strawberry Princess|| Strawberry Princess's eyebrows lift once again as she examines Utsuho's arm-blaster. "Hey- it looks like the control rods mine has, sort of! Just bigger." She habitually holds her own wand, the hell raven might notice, with something approximating firearm safety- never pointing it directly at anyone or anything important. "And hey, you got it in one. Radiation gets turned into magic gets turned into beam. I don't know all the details, but- it 'feels different' from yours, I bet, because the sun is sticking atoms together, but plutonium is tearing atoms apart. ... At least, I'm pretty sure."
She looks absolutely aghast, though, at the suggestion that she 'eat that sun god'- a hand covers her mouth and she goes a little pale. "No! Tamamo's a friend of my- of someone I like! I can't eat her." And then, as an afterthought: "And also, cannibalism is bad!" And an after-afterthought: "And also, I just can't!"
She lets out a long, slow sigh, closing her eyes for a moment. "But... I appreciate the thought. Really- I do. I never thought I'd- get my magic back, at all. So you being concerned about it, thinking up other things... Thank you for caring," she concludes, opening them again and settling back into her typical smile.
As for what she's doing: "Oh, I'm just... staying out here, in case things get real bad. Standby. I'm not- not very good, at things other than blowing stuff up. You know? And this isn't a blowing-things-up kinda problem, right now." She grimaces slightly- it's not a lie, but it's uncomfortably close to one.
|Xion||Torn between helping up the downed MISTERPRESIDENT goon, but down in the basement, Xion must make a choice.
"Oh wait! No I don't!" Xion announces to the world who is not getting her internal narration track, and then heaves the goon over her shoulders to heave him towards Chase and Rin as they mess with the infocube.
"I'm coming! I have an idea! I've got it!" She hoots, rounding back towards them, key-sword dragging along in her wake.
Setting the goon down, she points her sunkey sword at the INFO CUBE and -- daps the tip against the restraints and attachments. "Unlock!"
"You shouldn't ham-hand electronics, Chase. If you do, the little bits will break. Be firm but gentle."
|Penumbra|| Up on the ground floor, a lot of things happen. While X is incapacitated, both with the mysterious power that shouldn't currently be existing, and traumatic flashbacks, 'The Miss' has the time, between heel grinding her unfortunate robot victim's head and demanding an apology, to stop for Tamamo, and produce what definitely looks like a business card, slick and black and cornered with chased gold. It reads Acquisitors - Branch Five then Offices Of: Vivian Akaiako
"What we have to talk about, of course, is what I can do for you. Don't get too bad of an impression just because you've caught us at a bad time. If you're interested in what we built, where we sourced it from, who we connected to have it done, and how you could have something like this too --or whatever it is you want-- you won't find anything better. Not on your own, not with the Paladins, not even with the Concord. What matters in this Multiverse is that everything you could ever need is somewhere, so it's just a matter of getting to it. Personal ambition, greater good, or just someone special, if it exists, it's within our reach, no questions asked. I'm sure someone like yourself would rate for good credit. And if you're here about the HEXSYS too . . . Well."
Then, the poor hero boy she is stepping on, does not apologize. Instead, he gains a tremendous surge of power. Enough to send her staggering back from the wave of pressure that explodes from him. "Stay down you disobedient little bastard." she hisses despite it, holding up her arm to shield her face, even as she slides back on her high heels, coat whipping in the current of heat and energy blazing off of him. "Sev-"
Sevra doesn't need to be told. The bubble that Strawberry had previously used to contain the fight is insufficient to restrain her in this emergency situation. The woman draws the Throne Blade again, and there's a thunderous blast of light and sound from inside the pink dome, which unravels into a rainbow of strange and somehow unnerving colours, spinning undone into fraying strings of light. She splits the forcefield into a million fine pieces, and then blitzes out of it on a trail of cobalt fire, diving after Vivian, and then grabbing her coat from the back and *hurling* her out of the sphere of annihilating energy. Her sense of X's power, as the warrior in the group, is clearly better than her current employer, because from there, she vents that seething energy down and away, and blasts away and out of X's collateral zone, snatching the hapless guard still sprinting towards his boss too slowly.
The act of pulling her employer out of danger, however, has also thrown her right into Strange's and Tomari's combination plan. Vivian is just catching her balance, and vocalizing the words "What the-" when Kamen Rider Drive comes flying out of the portal. The flying kick strikes her in the back --and then the red light inherent in the maneuver spills into its threads, spreading out in a wave across her body, diffusing into a tight mesh of briefly visible hexagonal channels.
She tumbles forward beneath his momentum, and straight through the remaining portal, out into the Great Ocean, where she will undoubtedly be Very Unhappy.
Altogether though, it cleanly resolves the emergency situation. Sevra lands at a distance, carrying the suited guard over one shoulder, glances at the last fizzling spark of the Sling Ring portal closing up, and then grimaces in a way that indicates she's going to get chewed out later. "Klars was right about you." she says, without elaborating. "But then, he's never wrong. I'll be seeing you eventually." Then she leaps up to the second storey balcony, and kicks out the window. No reason to stay, now. It seems she really had just gotten herself on someone else's assignment to square off with Robin and retrieve that scabbard.
|Tomoe||So Tomoe is looking for Information or any of thing of note it's not going too well. It's not that she's screwing up there's just been little for her to find if anything. The towering Salamander woman is moving along and one might hear the sound of her armour as she moves. Yet as moves, she hears something to see that someone has headed up to the Attic-room. So she follows what the worse that could happen to her, right? She will come across Mack and will end up calling out to him.
"Hey you checking this place out too? Get anything? I just keep getting these missives which have sent me all over the multiverse."
She doesn't know Mack though she seems pretty confident in herself and she doesn't appear to be actively hostile as she lowers her sword and her shield at this point.
"Oh the name's Tomoe."
|X|| "Hah ... hah "
He pants, even though he had no need to intake oxygen the same way a person would after exerting themselves. It came naturally to him, as natural -- as the ironic, in this case, saying went -- as breathing. His whole body exuded heat and steam, red lightning crackling along his form from the sudden wave of energy that exploded out of every nook and cranny, threatening to consume everything immediately around him.
But, no one died. No one was even truly hurt from it, and he was fine with that. The stiuation resolved itself as nicely as it was going to, after a point. Although, the radioactive nature of the attack meant that it would take some time to cleanse the area for safe habitation, that'd be an issue that could be tackled later.
The massive swell of energy that had allowed him to stand up through the pressure left him as quickly as it came, and he was left shaky on his feet, his Buster arm transforming back into a normal hand. With the familiar still grasped in the other, he raised the free extremity towards Drive and the rest and transitioned into a thumbs up with a small smile. "We did it."
|Shinnosuke Tomari||Kamen Rider Drive hits his target, and as she doubles over, lands on his feet. As she passes through the closing ocean portal, he makes a wince complete with sound, but moves over to X instead to give him a thumbs up back. "It's good to finally meet you. Are you alright? If you need a repair, I can fix you up - it'll hurt, though."|
|Reiuji and Rin||Chase bought it! Maybe. Not... Really? It's hard for Rin to tell when he's going for that weird science hexagon, but it's far more impressive than her own attempt to grab the thing. Xion coming in with the assist in the form her UNLOCKING BLUDGEON has Rin gawking yet again in surprise.
"Whoa... You can just do that, sis? Handy trick to have up your sleeve..." Does Shine X even have sleeves/ Rin understands the phrase well enough, at least. "Then you've got this, bro! Just watch out for the burning and the weird noises from the stuff stuck to it, but you got this! If anything breaks, it probably wasn't worth ta-uh. Useful, anyway!" She cheers Chase on, oblivious to what the actual purpose of the device is and how inappropriate it may be for her to just start cheering on a strange armored guy trying to yank the thing out.
"... Oh yeah. It's really heavy, too!" That'd probably be important to mention. She lurches a bit from feeling the residual shockwaves from X's blast further above, although that just leaves Rin with a puzzled look with little else to recognize it by.
"Fine, if it's a friend. Bad luck, making friends with the one person you could eat to fix your energy problems." Utsuho sighs with an exaggerate slump, furrowing her brow again after a moment. The continued sentiments have the raven confused again, but the smile has her laughing confidently once she gets her bearings. "Heh.. No problem! But if this Multiverse is anything like what spat out two of me, then there's gotta be more Yatagarasu to eat. Or..."
She's thinking. Oh no. "... You could find another one of those sun god foxes to eat. One that you don't know. Or even just the soul, if you're that worried about cannibalism.
On the topic of things being done presently: "Blowing stuff up is fun, though. Fastest way to solve most problems, too, unless you actually gotta regulate the heat you put in. But even then, it's not that hard if you're on top of managing the cor..."
She looks around slowly, as if finally realizing something. "Where'd Orin go?"
|Penumbra|| In the basement, the suited tough appears to be too confused in that moment of chaos to have much to say about Rin lying about his intentions, too focused on staggering back up, readjusting his sunglasses, and then doing a couple of arm swings indicating he plans to just jump the hell right back out of the basement and up two floors through an intangibility square.
Xion distracts him from that. "What? No. You shouldn't be here. I mean it. Get out, kid. If the Miss finds you here, she'll call Throne squad. Or Zenith. Don't know which is worse for you." He glances to Chase. "This your robot?" The ground floor promptly explodes as X goes berserk, causing the lights to flicker and the roof to crack in the basement. The group is showered with heavy concrete debris, a chunk of which smacks the man in the back of the head, and knocks him out properly.
And then Chase just hups the half ton science hexagon up, pulling it out of its floor fittings and stripping the bolts. It is very hot. It's uncomfortable for him to hold, bordering on actually kind of painful. Disconnected of its fixings, several things happen. Most immediately is that the radio equipment immediately transitions to a blank test screen and a toneless, whining drone. Another is that Xion slaps it with her sun-keyblade, and should be very glad she chose to be sun element today.
The interior contains, amongst other things, a small sphere made of interlocking hexagonal plates, that surround a small, intensely burning light, evidently to absorb its energy and funnel the heat into the myriad sinks and coils filling up that casing. The sphere is by far the heaviest part of it, and essentially kept in check only by the borrowed Authority over the Sun borrowed from Tamamo and all associated proper nouns. A small object also falls out of a slot in the casing; a crystal lens, set in a black wooden frame that smoulders as if it'd been on fire for a while now, connected to a white cobalt chain, clatters to the floor and rolls.
The other thing that happens is upstairs in the attic, where Mack is. Recording the information passing through the room isn't initially very helpful. Even to his ears, it sounds garbled in a way that doesn't come from bitrate loss; rather, it sounds almost intentionally jumbled up, though in a very organic way. All data ports in the electronics have been carefully and lovingly removed entirely, tiny screwdriver use and all, to render this a zone where removable media doesn't get to exist.
When the plug is pulled though, rather than shutting down completely, it all clears up for about two seconds --and *then* is force-closed by some emergency countermeasure. During that period, he captures just enough data to recognize not just the usual broadbands, and hundreds more clones that aren't used by the matching algorithm he's familiar with in this zone, but access to communications channels unique to specific worlds, to specific *people*, and data monitoring from, amongst many others, Grand Dorado's civilian areas, Aegis Astray's satellite towns, and some garbage tower in the middle of nowhere. Some of it is intercepted. Some of it is intentionally transmitted. A lot of it seems to be some proprietary code format for processing raw multimedia data of extremely high fidelity. It's incomprehensible where it could all be coming from --and it seems like only a small split of feed from a much broader stream. Whatever effect was being used to censor it undoubtedly used a ton of power.
|Mack||Balls. No ports. That tracks, though. He briefly wishes he'd followed through on his threat to that irritating idealist to learn how to telemechanically possess things just so he could bypass that particular measure. Mack rubs his chin with his left hand, itching at the place pallid flesh meets scrap metal --
Tomoe walks towards and addresses the attic while Mack is involved with trying to gain intelligible details from this whole mess while he's otherwise mostly blind and deaf, at least as far as he's concerned. He has not un-tightened his psychic senses, nor completely turned up all of his sixth, seventh, or eighth tech-related sensory options. He's a little jumpy, we'll say.
Which is why she looks up the access to the attic and is faced with a hunched-over troglodyte covered in scrap metal brandishing what looks an awful lot like a black powder pistol at her. Except black powder pistols don't frequently get held in hands made of brushed chrome, and also don't usually have a weirdly sunny glow down the interior of the barrel. It's probably safe to say whatever it is is a touch more dangerous than that.
Mack's eyes brighten for a second, then he turns away. "Yeah. Something, all right." Apparently he's decided that she isn't actually one of the guards trying to pull one over on him. "You can call me Mack. At least until we're on a first-name basis."
The mutant records what he can get once it suddenly clears up. He starts sorting it in his head, the two seconds of audio from so many sources a lot more than you'd expect to be crammed into such a short period. "It's a monitoring station. A big one. They've got ears all over, and in places you wouldn't believe." He looks back down the stairs at Tomoe. "Sounds like the fighting is over. Gonna be guards all over this place soon, so I'd jet, if I were you."
Mack raises his handgonne up to his brow in salute and then promptly phases through the floor.
|Tamamo|| Tamamo accepts a business card. She leans far, far away from a sphere of annihilation. That's a power to be respected, and she prefers when it's carefully aimed, which is more difficult to do when pressed by impossible-surprise gravity techniques. It's a good thing she's not particularly vulnerable to nuclear radiation, having too much big-fire affinity for that.
Done with prodding at the something-or-other hidden on the statue, and seeing no more here to sate her need for interesting sights to fill her outing, she steps back away, and focuses her vision upwards. Robin Sundance was someone up there... but she can't see him now. From that, she'll assume that he was well enough to make his own exit. Satisfied on that front, she steps around to the hole the suited man had fallen through, and steps into it, feet touching either side to stagger her descent with a verbal "Toh!"
This was for the sake of letting her see more of this place's secrets, but what she finds is--a bunch of people she had no idea were here, and an opened-up science hexagon. But that's not really important.
What's important is that Shine X is here. "Oh. My. Is that...? It /is/. Yes, I see." She's going to remember every facet of this outfit. Something will come up later.
|Tomoe||Tomoe has seen many strange beings in the multiverse, Mack? he's a new one she takes nott of the pistol it looks like a black powder pistol. She doesn't assume it is and even if it was such a weapon is still- perfectly lethal. It also now glowing down the barrel yeah it's dangerous thankfully nothing goes pear shape she'll pause at the mutant for a moment.
"A monitoring station."
She thinks for a moment ats Mack lays out the details of what he's uncovered.
"Useful info and advice, thanks."
She seems to mean it she'll look around one last time then book it for the nearest window. Which she'll jump out and fly away on her firey red wings.
|Xion||With the objects in hand thanks to Chase's power as Mashin Chaser, Xion's borrowed Shine X form, and Rin's power as...
A cat? With two tails???
Holding out her hand, a cloak of black energy like a cloth falls over the collection of artifacts.
"X-Zone." Pronounced 'Key Zone'.
With a wink, the objects disappear into her inventory, and cease to present a threat to Mashin Chaser or the gang. The HEXAGON AND ITS PRIZES are added to her KEY ITEMS inventory.
"Okay, Chase. Ready to go? You really are a pro at this. Alright!"
Xion catches a glint of the sun in her eye, and waves back at Tamamo. Striking a pose, sun-blade high, she links at the shoulder with Chase, and they disappear in a water-droplet of darkness.
|Chase||Holding this box of LITERAL SUN POWERS, as it turns out, is actually decently painful. He's got a high pain tolerance, being a machine and all, but he really does not want to be standing here all day with this in his hands.
Xion asks if he's ready to leave, adding the items to her robe of many pockets and relieving him of his burning burden, and he gives the slightest of nods.