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Kale Hearthward Things start quickly.

The Bistromath shows up - popping into existence nearby using Infinitely Improbable luck - to collect everyone in turn, with only a sms ping heralding its arrival.

"We've gotta hurry," says Agent Chieftain, shortly, when everyone's in. He's handling the briefing while Fjords is trying to expedite dinner (For those newcomers: The Bistromath is a restaurant-shaped spaceship staffed by robots, and powered by receipt math.)

"We've intercepted a report that Purge, and... J and Spin are at the Maximum Octave Receiver. It's probably for whatever superweapon song it is he's looking for, and we can't let him have it."

"No - just bring it all out at once, and the dessert, and the check - what do you mean the kitchen staff are out sick, you're all robots," yells Fjords in the background.

Chieftain ignores the noise, and continues on regardless. "Recovering J and Spin from Purge is important, but... keeping him from the song is top priority. Over *everything else*. Is that understood?"

"... And that - on that note, we may have some civilian interference. The reason we know Purge is there is because we intercepted a report by Space Channel 5. Try to dissuade them or deal with them - we don't need it out there that there's a superweapon in play."
Ioanna Langstrom      Ioanna Langstrom adjusts a pair of black mirrored sunglasses as Agent Chieftan explains the situation. She's been put into a suit that wouldn't look out-of-place in a government agency, save for the extremely high platform shoes, which are most definitely not standard-issue.

     Ah, news crews. Ioanna raises an eyebrow over the shades. That would be the reporter who saved the President (sort of) last mission, and the reporter she met when Kale first took her to that region of space. So she had an in there - she might even be able to distract them.

     "I can handle the news team," Ioanna says after a moment.
Karlan Nobles Today, just like last time, Pramanix is on the case without her brother on her case! Despite being here for the second time, she's still not up to speed with things, but she does offer some assistance to any newcomers that might look confused about the matter.

"We're stopping an alien invasion with musical and dance-based violence!"

That's the entire explanation she has. She also doesn't look dressed for dancing at all, or at least not anything particularly fancy. Pramanix is dressed in beige insulated pants with the deep pockets on each side, a yellow t-shirt with some local sports team's logo on it, white sweatshirt underneath that t-shirt like youngsters often wear, and a blue baseball cap bearing the logo of a different local sports team that's raised a good two inches off her head thanks to her hears holding it up.

Pramanix looks towards Agent Chieftain a moment later, however, with a blank look on her face. "A question, if I may. Who are... All of those other names? Will we need to identify any of them and tell them apart from each other?" From the look on her face, it's kind of obvious she doesn't really want to worry too much about memorizing all those details.

"... Wait, isn't Space Channel 5 that station that pink-haired person was from?" She's got a few details in her head, at least.
Swordbearing Pair Rean Schwarzer and Laura S. Arseid seem out of place. Teenagers in military academy uniforms, each with a sword - an Eastern-style blade and a massive greatsword, respectively. Rean shuffles his hands nervously, but nods, while Laura closes her eyes, taking in Chieftan's statements. At the end, both nod to each other.

"I don't know what kind of super weapon this may be, but you have our assistance. Rean Schwarzer, Thors Academy Class VII, Paladins Chevalier." Laura rises from her seat. "Laura S. Arseid, Thors Academy Class VII, Paladins Chevalier."

The nervousness seems to stop once Rean starts to rise as well. A hand briefly hovers over his blade, before he joins Laura instead, nodding to Ioanna. "We'll focus on recovering the agents. I can distract Purge from his song while Laura pushes forward past any obstructions, maybe..."
Trudy Grimm     A new face to this particular incident belongs to the self-proclaimed 'wretched little witch' Trudy Grimm. Dressed in her usual fineries, the fluffy-sleeved jacket and knee boots, all the beads and charms and little skulls present, the Grimoire dangling from her arm by a deceptively sturdy strap, she rocks gently back and forth on her heels with a thoughtful look on her face. After a bit, she closes her eyes and turns her face upward, "I'll have to get caught up later. Always thought music could be dangerous if used for evil. So for now the mission seems pretty clear to me."

    "Keep the bad guys from the bad thing; catch the bad guys if possible; keep unwanted noses out of our business." A firm nod at her summary of objectives, which is followed by an ear-to-ear grim with sharklike teeth, "Trudy Grimm, at your service. I'll contribute where-ever I am able, horrid sorceress that I am."

    Her attention is soon drawn by the voice in the other room arguing about food and robots, but she doesn't say anything about it; just a glance that way.
Blemishine     Maria is very passingly familiar with what's been going on in the Beat Galaxy, if only because of the dossiers and reports that have gone out! Since her recent induction into the Paladins, she's been brushing up so she's not totally lost, even with how totally out there half of it sounds. Still, she's fast to adapt!

    This does not prepare her for the Bistromath actually showing up however. Nothing in this world can prepare you for bistromatics and restraurant spacecraft. She'd probably be totally overwhelmed if she had to absorb this /and/ the actual briefing at the same time, but thankfully, her constant wandering eyes back towards the noise in the kitchen don't stop her from getting the full rundown. Also, Pramanix is very good at explanations.

    She runs with it. "Understood!" She nods several times over from where she's seated. Is she also overdressed? She feels like she's overdressed. Kind of closer to Rean and Laura than the casual outfits. "It's natural keeping a song that dangerous out of his hands is more important than anything, right? I'll help stop him too! I do have one question, though."

    She leans in. "Um...what kind of place is the Maximum Octave Receiver?" This may be taken as her asking about what kind of battlefield conditions to expect. Actually, she just wants to know what it is.
Staren     Staren is having a lazy evening checking in on her parents' house while they're off on some long adventure. Relaxing on the couch catching up with happenings on her headcomputer while eating cheeseburger helper noodle.

    And then suddenly there's a text, and the doorbell rings. Staren answers the door in a T-shirt, exercise shorts, and moccasins. "Um."

    Now she's feeling kind of self-conscious next to Ioanna -- she's gesturing in the air as she manipulates some AR display no one else can see. Thankfully she can warp in proper clothes, right? Although, she's still trying to understand what exactly it is she's going *into*. "What? The Purge? Who's J and Spin? Maximum Octave Receiver? A superweapon song? ...Who are you? Is there any intel on our enemies' tactics and resources?"
Kale Hearthward "Did - Fjords, why is there a Concord operative here," says the broad-shouldered Chieftain. "Why did we pick up a Concord operative?"

"Sorry, trying to get dessert out!" calls Fjords from the kitchen.

"... Whatever, we could use the help. It's a long story, and we're in a hurry, just try to pick it up as you go along," Chieftain tells Staren.

"The Maximum Octave Receiver is a giant antenna - it's on a remote planet, to cut down on noise pollution."

The receipt finally arrives at the table. Chieftain glances at it. "... What - why is there a twenty percent 'third party booking charge' on this?"

"... Whatever. We're in a hurry. I hate this damn ship..." he says as he signs it, and then reaches over to punch the totals into a nearby computer console.

Improbably, the number on the receipt is the exact instruction set the Paladins (and etcetera) need for the ship to teleport right where they need to go - which it does, parking neatly just outside the giant Space Antenna...

... most of which is covered by a large bubble shield, which includes the control facility at the base of the structure.

"Spin..." says Chieftain, glancing out of the restaurant's window, and pointing - there, at the perimeter of the shield, is an adult humanoid who's wearing the same 'discordant music note' uniform that Chieftain had been wearing while he was under Purge's control. "That groove is recognizable from a mile away."

Indeed, Spin is grooving. He's making a slow step around the perimeter of the shield, occasionally snapping his fingers, chanting something, or doing complicated dance gestures. The shield pulses with each action, as if being reinforced.

"We don't just have him to worry about," says the other elderly agent, pointing elsewhere - where a Space News Van has just touched down and disgorged one Space Newscaster (who indeed has pink hair) and one Space Camera Drone.

Ioanna, and possibly others, can tap into their communication lines:

"<Watch out, Ulala. He's got some sort of rhyming shield up. It might be a tough fight - you'll want to match his Groove or his Shade to stay hyped up and wear him down faster. Looks like he's just using Freestyle slash Freestyle right now - but look out for him to mix it up.>"

"Nothing for it - break through that shield however you can, and hurry," Chieftain is saying in the meantime. "Agents are... GO!"
Swordbearing Pair Once they're there, outside the perimeter barrier, Rean and Laura begin forming a plan next to each other. Once they're synced, they each nod, bringing up their smartphone-like ARCUS Orbments and looking to Spin. "They've taken his mind...we've got to help him." "Agreed."

Their actions are simultaneous, as Rean touches the barrier, and then leaps back. This is risky, but...he's not a practitioner of Eight Leaves One Blade for nothing. Movement is a breeze.

Rean suddenly moves to leap up onto the side of the barrier sphere, and start running up it. He tries to position himself above Spin, hand over his sword, waiting for what's to come with a calm, patient breath.

Laura, meanwhile, grabs her greatsword and takes it in both hands. Her strength is great, for an otherwise 'mundane' human. She pulls her blade back, and then moves to start smashing it into the barrier overhead. But she hasn't ignored Ioanna.

Each strike is carefully synced to vibe to the beat the others will put on, especially following Ioanna's lead should she take a specific pattern. There's a measure of control and skill here that allows her to just time each strike down to the second.
Ioanna Langstrom      It really is telling that Ioanna was born a Multiversal, because the sheer insanity of the Bistromath just really doesn't bother her at all. Improbable jumps? Sure. Receipt instructions? Yep. Oh, it's weird, alright - it's the kind of weird she'll talk about later over drinks or dinner - but it's not something she needs to sit and gawk at. It's the 'I saw a car crash today' of the Multiverse; an abnormal event in a normal day.

     So when the Bistromath parks outside the antenna Ioanna's already ready to go. She only waits for 'Agents are...go!' out of sheer professionalism, at which point she bolts past the rest of the team, leaps, and lands next to Ulala with a *wham* and a bunch of dust kicked up around her.

     "You're being deputized," Ioanna says to Ulala frankly, "To help deal with this situation. We need to break through the barrier and break him free of his mind control."

     "Run interference on the shield. We'll deal with incoming fire."

     And then she walks past Ulala and towards Spin. Her feet, in her tall platform shoes, are already starting to tap against the ground. Her confident stride is turning into her hips slowly swaying to the beat.

     "Agent Spin," Ioanna says, adjusting her sunglasses as she stops, moving into her step, "Agents are go. I trust you can keep up."

     Aggroing the boss is usually not her deal, but since she might actually be the best dancer here, it might be the most strategic option.

     And boy is she a good fucking dancer.

     Ioanna falls into the beat immediately. She moves like she's done this all her life. Maybe she has. Her hands go up, her feet swing up in kicks. She spins, arms going in front of her, then behind her. She bends backwards.

     The woman knows how to dance, that's for damn sure.
Karlan Nobles "Five new faces today... Ah, this should be a cinch!" Pramanix announces confidently while getting up to follow Chieftain's gaze towards the outside. She squints at the shield, nodding slowly as she confirms that it is indeed some kind of shield. "It looks like some kind of ritual. It's different from how mine works, but the precise movements..."

She strokes her chin lightly. "We'll just have to throw him off his groove. That should be easier with so many of us making enough noise and running interference." She suggests, looking over at the group again and recognizing Blemishine after a moment. "Ah! I didn't know you were out here too, Lady Blemishine. If anybody from Kjerag asks, you didn't see me." She makes a quick zipping motion with her fingers, but the muffled snickering is a pretty good sign she's joking around.

When the signal to go is given, however, Pramanix shifts right into FOCUS MODE. She slips her bell off her belt smoothly, already ringing it gently by the time she's off the ship. She's matching the beat created by Ioanna's tapping and augmented by Laura's bashing, adding the pleasant chime of a ringing bell as she stays on beat with her own flowing step. Despite her outfit, her dance is still as elegant as ever, taking her from side to side slowly while snow begins to fall around Spin.

Not all around, even, but specifically centered on Spin as the supernatural snow threatens to sap away his strength. It's not cold enough to stay as solid snow on contact with the floor, either, and it's liable to melt around him quickly to provide a slipping hazard as well.
Trudy Grimm     "Oh, overwhelming defenses is something I'm particularly good at," Trudy's attention snaps back to Chieftain with that broad smile of hers. She drifts to the windows as well, getting a look at the Lay of the Land. The tiny shadow around her feet darkens from a faint shade to pitch black, expanding slightly, and the girl suddenly sinks down into it.

    Afield, a similar sudden darkening occurs in a stone's shadow, growing pitch and elongating as the sorceress ascends out of it as if scaling a staircase. She holds the Grimoire in one hand; her other snapping fingers to the beat. Even her steps are timed to the rhythm Spin has set.

    The shadow she stepped out of remains, and from it spills a ghoulish parade. Skeletons dressed in ragged modern clothes and golden chains, many with at least one gold tooth. One wears a ballcap askew. Half a dozen in total shamble out, rattling in tune to the beat, forming three to either side of the girl who called them.

    Trudy sweeps one foot forward, plants it, then taps it to the beat as she gestures with her free hand, one finger extended in a point. Her skeletal troupe steps past her, advancing sidelong, leading with the lead foot, bringing the back foot to the lead, and proceeding this way while shaking their arms.

    This group doesn't stop until they're perhaps five paces behind Ioanna-- at which point the Skeleton Dance Troupe plants their collective feet, flex their knees, and start twisting from side to side with their arms tucked in, wrists out.
Blemishine     "Oh, that makes sense!" Of course a remote place is where you'd put a big antenna. How giant it actually is will remain to be seen, but to say she's raring to go is an understatement. There's an awkward laugh when she also leans over to glance at the receipt, and glances briefly off towards Staren, and then Pramanix. There's a conspiratory lean in, and a giggle. "Don't worry, Miss Pramanix!" She mirrors the zipping motion with a wide smile. "Nobody back home will hear a thing. Knight's honor!"

    But when it's time to go, Blemishine is all business, at least for a scant few seconds before she catches sight of Spin. "He's--" Grooving! And you'd have to be blind to not tell how that rhythm is keeping them from where they need to go. If getting the rundown from Pramanix and Ioanna didn't explain how things work here, all it takes is one look at those fresh moves. And Ioanna's equally fresh moves! Then if it comes down to following the lead...

    An armored boot comes down with a metal clank, in time with Spin's finger snapping.

    She keeps it up even as she draws her blade with both hands, and paces her movements forward so that ach step comes down in time with the beat. It's a little awkward, but the more the seconds past, the more she catches on and can stick with it.

    "Throw him off his groove...alright!" And then she's at the barrier herself, sword raised overhead just as one of Laura's attacks come down--to be brought down a split second later, adding a second resonating smash right behind her own, like an echo. She's both matching the rhythm as best she can, and acting as backup for making this beat their own!
Staren     It's... it really is a dance-off? And now Staren can kind of get the vibe of what kind of dancing we're talking about, not a fancy ballroom deal, more of a... okay, she knows nothing about this but she can take a swing at it? She fiddles with the computer interface. Bleep bleep boop. Warp!

    ...That is just walking-around clothes for her, isn't it? Fitted red T-shirt, this one showing a bit of midriff, baggy-fit sea green cargo pants, and white sneakers with red treads. And the long sea-green hero scarf with a red alice band to keep her hair from flying in her face. This is what she's going with, apparently.

    She warps in a swarm of drones and walks out after Ionna. The camera drones observe the battlefield. AI notices the pattern of the beat, noting it on Staren's HUD for her to follow and help her keep time. She shuffles a bit. Crosses her arms. Tap tap tap her foot, not really knowing what to do. Swaying a little, feeling more nervous as time goes by without her making a serious move.

    And then Rean and Laura give her an idea. She touches her scarf, a protective glow briefly sweeping over her. And then she draws her pistol, spinning it, and stops it on the beat, firing at Spin. The sound is turned on, so it makes a noise that works as some kind of synth rhythm instrument, like a down-sliding pitched triangle wave in a tinny room.

    After a few shots, she shifts her body so that instead of standing with right hand towards Spin, she's standing with left hand towards spin, firing across her body (lasers have no recoil and she can aim with an AR reticle on her cybernetic HUD). Then she turns and fires over her back, using the drones to aim. How many more seconds can she keep making up different ways to Fire Gun before repeating herself or looking too dumb?
Kale Hearthward Attacks get launched against Spin or the shield - a one-two combo from Rean and Laura, with Ioanna setting the beat and being the frontwoman, and Trudy providing the backup dancers. Pramanix comes in with the bell dance, and Blemishine and Staren strike on the beat.

And - it all works. Better than it should. Even the dance steps are causing damage, but the act of attacking in sync with the beat and the group is making things hit the shield more, causing it to shrink back till Spin's getting hit directly by attacks, causing him to retreat back further behind it for protection as he regroups. It's a good feeling - a very hype-worthy moment, one might say.

"Alright - you've got a beat, but anyone can carry that," says the brainwashed agent. "But forget dancing - do you think you can rhyme to save your lives?"

"What? Deputized?" asks Ulala, glancing over at Ioanna, and she's about to say something further, but gets cut off by her operator's voice from the camera drone. <"Watch out, Ulala! I'm detecting a shift in his Shade pattern - looks like it's Blue! Match it if you wanna stay hyped up!">

"Man-" says Spin, bringing one hand up to his face as though it was holding a mic.

"- your strikes are so weak they make me wanna spew,"
"Knockin' on this house like you're gonna get through."
"You steppin' up like you're gonna strike true,"
"But your aim's way so wack you'll hit your own crew!"

And with each rhyme, the shield pulses - and then when he hits the last verse, it pushes outwards - an advancing wall of force that'll knock people around.

"Okay - matching his shade - um, things that rhyme with blue, right?" She looks like she'll take a few moments to get her rhymes in order. Maybe someone else should give it a shot.
Ioanna Langstrom      So multiple types of music can interact with Beat Galaxy. Honestly, she should've seen that coming. Ioanna should've expected it. Why not? It's not like it was *Dance Galaxy* or something. All kinds of music has a beat.

     And rap is not a beat she's familiar with at all.

     When Spin drops the sick rhymes Ioanna only has time to react once she's been struck by the first blast. She moves sideways after the first lightning strike, sliding into a spin. Rap, rap...different types of rap? Cultural raps? Musical challenges? Flyting is too specifically human and has too much ritual associated. Anything? Anything?


     She's freestyling, then.

     Well, she's got Beat Galaxy's local culture down. When Ulala starts talking about blue, Ioanna snaps her fingers and moves into it. She'll be trusting in others to add to the rhyme.

"Softshoe weak dancing, shame on you,"
"Can't outdo our style so you've got to drop the tune,"
"This isn't your stage, even if you're on the tube"
"So exeunt left and we might not pursue."
Trudy Grimm     Force and sick burns rattle Trudy's skeletons. Two of them collapse, and she braces against the force wave herself for a moment. Her toetapping returns and she thrusts the Grimoire forward, surging with vile magics. The collapsed skeletons reassemble, missing some parts, while those who are still standing shed damaged bones. They do take a moment to glance at each other, then fix Spin with matching eye-less socket glares. One by one, they speak, their tones raspy and hollow and filled with force.

    "Check this poser, was it Spin or Sue?"
    "Bro can you tell he's scared as a Shrew?"
    "He might as well toodle on an old Kazoo."
    "His moves are lame, are we roastin' a Statue."
    "What kind of left-footed loser thinks he can rhyme Too?"
    "If you wanna top us, you'd better know some Voodoo!"

    As each one hisses his line, he folds his arms. Head and shoulders bobbing to the beat, their lead foot tapping while their brothers carry on.

    Once all six have busted their rhymes, the skeletal crew snap their fingers into a point, all directed at the target of their roasting raps.
Staren     "I, um, what? If you think this'll stop us you are through! Wait, shit, you already used that--" Staren is slammed back by the field repeatedly, attention split between dancing and dodging. Finally she rallies enough to warp on the vambraces with a burst of wind, blasting the field with her pistol and the right vambrace's beam cannons to slow it down.

    "Is that really what we're gonna do?"
    "Let him dictate that we follow his hue?" Staren raises her arm dramatically.
    "I say it's time we try something new! ...Wait, shit, I'm still doing it!" Staren stands dramatically with her arms out to her sides as missiles warp in, shoot up into the sky, then come down at Spin, positioned differently with each note of any music going on, potentially encouraging Spin to make a dance out of dodging between them! She points dramatically at Spin,
    "Now I'll tell you what you're going to do! ...DAMMIT!" She stomps a foot and clenches her fist, but the missiles keep raining down!
Blemishine     "It's working...!" The longer it goes on, the more Blemishine gets used to it, until she's really starting to get comfortable keeping pace--and Spin is forced back! It actually is a really good feeling. And kind of fun, at that. Almost enough to make you forget this is a serious battle. Almost, but not quite.

    Especially when the brainwashed Beat Agent switches gears. "Eeh!? Rhyming now, too!?" That's all she gets out before the expanding shield slams right into her, briefly knocking her off her feet and sending her backwards. She just barely avoids losing her footing, touching back down and skidding back a few meters. Keeping a beat is one thing, but she's never done anything like this before!

    Wait a second. 'Rhyming now, too'. That actually rhymes with blue. She thinks about it. Maybe it's not as hard as she thought. Tightening her grip on her sword, the knight stands up tall again.

    "Er--" Deep breath. "...That's fine, because we still haven't withdrew!"
    "Don't be so confident, because it's you we're going to subdue!"
    "Whatever Purge has filled your mind with is completely untrue!"
    "But deep down, that's something you should have already knew!"

    She actually put so much thought into that, she forgot to actually step forward to follow up with an attack. Whoops. But that probably matters a lot less here in Beat Galaxy.
Swordbearing Pair Drawing and raking his blade across the shield to the beat as he keeps up with it shrinking, Rean is basically tightroping it. As the blasts come out, he nearly loses his balance, but catches himself on the tip of his boot, one foot, which is enough to keep him up. Laura keeps swinging, but as she does so, she's now nervous. Rhyming? How...

Rean and Laura glance at each other, and then continue their attack. But they start trying to work together, rhyming every other line, Rean then Laura.

"Do you think you're someone special? Who?"
"Really, he must be new."
"It's time to bust some moves, us two."
"Rean, is this our cue?"

"It's time to pay you what you're due!"

In sync, the two smash down, trying to break the barrier just enough that Rean can drop down into Spin!
Karlan Nobles With Maria's allegiance secured, Pramanix has nothing else to worry about! Well, until  she realizes the other angle of this battle that she's only dressed and not prepared for one bit: It's a rap battle. Although she's more than adept at memorizing and spitting out stuff that sounds good during her sermons, it's another thing entirely to use it to deride someone or actually making it rhyme!

That barrier expands on the beat, and struggling to come up with anything worthwhile distracts her long enough that she's caught flat-footed when the end of verse and wall of force come all at once. Pramanix manages to get a mound of snow built up behind herself hastily so she's not landing on any badly-placed seats, but it's still enough to daze her for a moment.

"Blue? What rhymes with..." She'll just have to figure it out as she goes. Getting her bell into ringing position again, the inclement weather starts to come down more heavily onto Spin, less like actual snow and more like someone is just flinging buckets of sleet at him. As that happens, Pramanix starts snapping her fingers on her free hand while she tries to get her words to rhyme and match the beat.

It takes her a while to actually start and finish the whole thing.

"You have a way with words, that much is true."
"In a battle of insults, I'll defer to you."
"I've always believed in taking on a brighter skew."
"So surrender now and we'll help you come to!"
Kale Hearthward Rhymes - and missiles and icy weather and other things - lash out at the shield, causing it to shrink back further. The rap battle - even if some people are accidentally getting into it instead of purposefully setting out to style - seems to be making both sides hit a bit harder. As the shield flickers, so too does Spin's full-covering helmet, revealing the person underneath briefly, before it reasserts itself.

"Alright - so you can spin a rhyme, but can you stay on topic..."

"<Watch out, Ulala! His Shade is going back to Freestyle, but now he's asserting Groove: Weapon!>"

"Wait, which one's groove?" asks Ulala. "I thought I was rhyming blue things!"

Spin's not waiting, though.

"You with the missiles? I also got a gun,"
"You'll run out of bullets while I only need one."
"Waving your sword - or is that a stick?"
"Maybe you'd be better off calling in sick."
"Skeletons? Watch out, I'll be swinging a club-"
"That goes for you too - that a shield or a washtub?"
"And all that ice - that ain't got me shook,"
"Not when I come swinging with a big ol' icehook."

And with each line and rhyme, the shield charges up further, till once again it releases a wave of force, more massive and debilitating than before!
Swordbearing Pair Rean and Laura are getting kinda into this, but don't do too much more, besides a rhyme each. "Do you wanna taste my katana?"
"Cut the cord, here's my greatsword!"

Even as the blasts debilitate them, Rean keeps up on the barrier, striking at it with all his might. Laura, meanwhile, steps back, and smashes her blade into the ground, trying to cause a quake that'll go underneath and mess with Spin's dancing!
Trudy Grimm     Trudy leans forward, briefly losing the beat of her toe-tapping while pressing into the force-waves thrown off by the Agent's newfound rhythm. The Grimoire's pages flip wildly, though remains firmly in her hand in spite of it all. "I've got more than skeletons," the sorceress mutters. While her troupe line advances through the burns and bluster, they begin to collapse. Skeletons never were the most hardy of frontline creatures, but their talents were pretty handy for starting things up. While she pats out some acidic sizzle on her jacket, the vile magic of the Grimoire pulses again, thumping to the beat as she holds it up. The shadow around her feet expands and elongates, a massive hand reaching out to grip the unshaded part of the ground before her. It hauls up, drawing up a torso and another arm, which in turn helps haul the headless giant corpse out of her shadow and into the light.

    'Giant' might be misleading, it is a 'mere' four meters tall. Despite being headless, when Trudy points, the monster steps forward, one pace per beat, nowhere near as agile as the skeletons from before. When it approaches, it raises big meaty and slightly gross hands, then hammers down on Spin's shield with one fist at a time, each blow landing on the last word of the rhymes still spewing out of the skulls littering the ground around it.

    "Why you gotta act all vile and Toxic?" SLAM
    "Tired of catching burns, try catching this Rocket!" SLAM
    "Since you suck at rap, maybe you could try Rock!" SLAM
    "You wanna rhyme weapons? Skelebros got that on Lock!" SLAM
    "Mess with our Missy only if you got some Plans!" SLAM
    "End of the day all you'll catch are these Hands!" SLAM

    Even just hitting the shield has the giant's form degrading, but it doesn't seem to care. It certainly isn't slowing down.
Ioanna Langstrom      Hell.

     He can change up the style whenever he wants. Ioanna hadn't accounted for that, either. The rhyme scheme shifts and everything goes sideways. She has to throw up her hands in front of her to avoid being knocked off her feet - and even then it doesn't matter, as the waves of force get stronger and stronger and stronger. She falls backwards, but manages to turn the fall into a dance move in the process, swinging back up out of the fall in a breakdance groove. The debilitating musical aura is going to be rough to fight. She can feel the waves pushing against her as she tries to pick back up the music.

     Alright, then. Playing by the rules continues to work for her and him, so...

"One gun, one man, you're way outclassed."
"You think you'll be quick? Figures you can't last.
"Change up the music or don't, I don't care"
"Your suit lacks style and your dancing lacks flair"
"That's your only weapon and it's coming in slow"
"Dodging you is easy when you've got no flow"
"And there's one weapon you forgot to do"
"What's my gimmick? You don't have a clue"
"Can't stay on topic when you don't have the deets"
"Might as well cop out again and change the beats."
Blemishine     "He's changing things up again...!" This time, Maria isn't so surprised. That doesn't make adapting to it any easier, but it does at least let her brace herself against the next blast coming from the shield. She hunkers down and holds her ground against the attack, using her shield to help weather it out until it blows past.

    Talk about tough. Resteadying herself, she rears her sword back with one hand and sets to move, and then sprints back in to regain distance! She was too focused on her rhyming before, but not this time.

    "Don't make light of our swords, or you'll be in for a rude reward!"
    "Or our shields, we still have yet to yield!"
    "And aren't you behind one over there!? Come out and fight us fair and square!"

    As she goes, the blade she holds back glints with a spark of light somewhere within the guard, which flashes into light gleaming along the entirety of the edge. Just like that, she goes for a momentum-driven stab back towards Spin's barrier, timing the impact with another of the group's line-enders.

    A flurry of similar attacks follows behind it, the wait time between each beat being used to pull or jump back to add more impact behind the next one. If she focuses enough on one point while also keeping pace with the rhythm, maybe she'll have a better chance of breaking through.
Karlan Nobles "Oh, come on. Now we're working on topics?" Pramanix isn't one to avoid complaining, at least, as it already took her a while to come up just with rhymes in the first place. She's expecting the wave of force to hit her this time, at least, so she hunkers behind a wall of ice with a pile of snow behind her and...

Lands right on her ass again. At least she's prepared for it, although it's still not particularly pleasant to get crushed by both a shockwave and also her own wall of ice. It breaks apart once she smacks it a few times, though, then gets back up to start figuring out her own rhymes in additon to a plan of attack.

The attack: There's more splashes of ice water, windier currents to try and throw his footwork off, and even a single ice brick thrown right at his gut for good measure. She's clearly holding back on the sharper and more lethal-looking projectiles considering the fact that the secondary-but-might-as-well-be-primary goal is to take him in alive, but that doesn't mean she's going to avoid giving him some bruises along the way.

"I'm not really fond of fighting with guns."
"It's too impersonal, and it's just not fun."
"I'd much rather bring down a simple pipe."
"Something with weight and power. That's just my type."
"My brother prefers swords to slay his foes."
"He calls them 'special techniques', but it's just iaido."

This one actually came out of Pramanix a bit faster, even with her footwork and bell-ringing picking up. Is she getting used to this? Or maybe it's just easier when she's letting a little venom out.
Staren     Staren draws the matter manipulator with her free hand and drops a reinforced concrete barrier to stand behind, then sheaths it and the gun and leans against it from behind like someone trying to hold a door closed. The shield batters, concrete cracking before finally breaking, and Staren leaps back, a bit scuffed up though her defensive spell is still taking the worst of it -- a hair out of place here, a scrape there, a small tear on the edge of her shirt there, that sort of thing.

    She stands again, fingerless black gloves warping onto her hands along with a mic, and a backwards black ballcap on her head. She speaks into the microphone, words amplified as she bobs back and forth:

You say you got bullets but you only need one?
You're GONNA have a fork, 'cuz you are DONE.
Sneerin' at our chosen weapons, stylin with your rhymes
'Cuz lead and steel aren't stronger than the words in your soul
But I tell you what, son, you're not the only one who pines
For a world where guns and swords don't decide who ends up whole!

    Staren points the non-mic-holding hand dramatically at Spin.

That doesn't make you better, though perhaps you're not the worst,
But I hear you're bad enough to use a superweapon song
So think again if you think I'll let you come, in, first
For me to let you hurt people with music? That'd be just sick and wrong!

    Staren flips open the cover of the left vambrace and dramatically Presses a Button. The Samson power armor warps in behind her, an eleven foot tall humanoid robot hefting some kind of magitech assault rifle sized for it.

    Staren points forward. "Surpress the field! Keep firing, batter it down!" The Samson obliges, firing an endless autofire barrage of telekinetic bolts, Staren slapping her free hand against the side of the rifle to keep pumping magic in to reload it. "How much longer will this take? I've had it with this clown!"

    Despite the words, she's grinning. Damn, this is kinda fun!
Kale Hearthward The rhymes lash out again - the swordstrikes and shots and other things as well - and the shield gets driven back yet further. Spin's losing ground more and more with each exchange.

"We've nearly got it!" calls a voice from inside the facility. "Keep them busy just a bit longer!"

"Yeah, that's easy for you to say," says Spin, over his shoulder, before refocusing on the fight - barely keeping the shield up as Staren's assault lashes out. By now, the shield's over halfway depleted from where it started at.

"Alright, let's mix it up," says Spin, at the same time Ulala says "Okay! My microphone's got quite the trick-"

"<Watch out, Ulala! He's shifting his Groove *and* his shade!>"

"Oh - come on! GIve me a minute!"

"You go - jettin' around these worlds for free,"
"Takin' in all that the eye can see,"
"All the disruption following thee-"
"Thinking you're some hero answerin' a plea-"
"When really, you never consider the key-"
"Never stop and ask yourself the-"
"- question, would things be better without me?"
"Wake of destruction in opportunity-"
"Makin' your own villains, fuck off and flee!"

The shield lashes out once more - and the scheme gets harder to follow, and while the hype levels are increasing to the point of off the charts, can people keep up with a Shade *and* a Groove to stay with the escalation?
Swordbearing Pair Not good enough. Another shield back. This time, Rean goes flying off. Laura calls out. "Rean!"

Rean rises from the dirt, grumbling from the pain, as he takes picks up his sword and wipes it clean. He points it at the barrier. No time for rapping. "Laura, synchronized attack!"

The two go forth, ARCUS allowing them powerful synergy, as Rean's blade is set aflame as it's flicked outwards. The Flame Slash impacts with the barrier...

And moves to burn through it, sending out an AoE-style wave of fire at Spin! Perhaps it can break, and they can ignite that clothing of his!

Laura keeps hitting the barrier as they do this, trying to just shatter it with her raw strength and skill.
Ioanna Langstrom      Something in-topic and rhyming with 'ee'. That's all Ioanna gets before the shield bowls her over, knocking her flat on her ass. There's some more lightning from on high as she fails to keep the beat, blasting her once, twice. But that's it - two Strikes and then she's back in the groove, swinging herself back up onto her platforms and moving back into it. Her dancing's getting faster as she keeps up, moving *ahead* of Spin this time - moving into a position where *she* can start dictating the speed rather than him, and trip him up as he juggles his Groove and his Shade. It's simple, but it's been effective before in Beat Galaxy, and with everyone else distracting him, she can use the opportunity to exercise that experience once again. That's all she's really got going for her, at the end of the day - experience.

     But boy does she have a lot of that.

     So as Spin's rhymes kick up, Ioanna speeds up her own beat, adding her tapping platforms to the mix. They're big and heavy and she can make them work for her real, real well.

"Sir I get paid, don't project on me,"
"I'm a professional, I've got a degree"
"I study xenoanthropology"
"And I've never heard of any culture where they rhyme 'the' and 'thee.'"
"Did you run out of steam? Is this the end of your spree?"
"Spitting accusations in hopes of breaking a knee?"
"I can tell you've been controlled because if it was me"
"I'd drop more than the helpless bite of a flea."

With that Ioanna brings up her foot and slams it down in the middle of the beat. The platform shoes radiate out a burst of light. Then another. Then another. Technically it's an attack - elemental blasts - but she's blasting the ground to emphasize her dance moves as she swings back, bending at angles both tantalizing and impressive. Her hair hangs down behind her, whirling around as she does. She makes the suit work for her and she makes the light show work for her and she makes the rhyme work for her and she makes the beat work for her and she makes her body work for her. It all comes together in one perfect dance.
Karlan Nobles Following this particular beat has become second nature by now. Keeping her dancing and her bell ringing on point isn't even a question for Pramanix. Spitting out rhymes while trying to follow the theme of whatever it is Spin is shifting to, though...

That's still going to be a problem. Even if she's able to withstand Spin's third blast of power and even stay on her feet this time, how long can she last? Long enough to just keep spitting things out, at least, as she gathers up her second wind to keep it going without insulting Spin himself.

"Your talent for adapting these rhymes really surprised me."
"I thought we'd be done by verse three."
"But after hearing you speak like this, it's clear to see-"
"-that we can't just leave you be."
"But our goal's bringing us into harmony:"
"Tech lady."
"Inventor kitty."
"A horse, not a pony."
"And someone that might summon a zombie."
"Once we stop Purge and set you free-"
"-we can finally order something tasty!"

Even with the constant insults, Pramanix still can't get too angry at Spin. irritated, for sure, but she's still trying to live up to some kind of better image of herself. There's a calm look on her face as ice pillars form up around her, shattering into shards moments later as they flow past her allies and directly towards Spin. Once again, they're not designed to cut him apart, but to drain him. To tear through any defenses he might still have with that suit. To freeze him long enough that the shield can finally be brought down.
Trudy Grimm     At such close range, the force of Spin's beats blasts the headless giant head-on. The flesh on its torso and arms vaporizes, leaving behind a colossal, scorced skeleton with some seared fleshy parts stuck on the back half. It is at least tidily cauterized, and didn't have a whole lot left 'inside', as it were, so while the beast looks pretty mangled, at least it won't be costing anyone their lunches. It collapses backward, disappearing into another pitch-black shadow similar to what it emerged from. On the back line, Trudy picks herself up, patting out bits of flame clinging to her coat. The Grimoire flips itself open, flying rapidly through pages and only settling on one when she grabs it again.

    While Trudy invokes more of her wretched magic, a circle of unsettling runes swirling out around her feet, the discarded heads of her rapping Skelebros continue to hiss out their rhymes.

    "Yo dog, our mistress heard your Plea!"
    "Your weakness is bared for all to See!"
    "That book is more than some dead Tree!!"
    "Just dance in place, that's the Key!"
    "It's all you can do before our Spooky Queen Bee!"
    "Now listen close to make out her Decree!"

    "Collapse and writhe before me in Agony."

    Trudy slams the Grimoire closed with both hands, the runic circle around her erupting and dispersing outward. Chains crafted of curses erupt out of Spin's shadow, not only attempting to hamper his movements but inflicting the burning, searing pain of white-hot metal anywhere they touch.
Blemishine     Forcing Spin back in this tug-of-rhythmic-war is a small comfort with that voice from inside, and it puts Blemishine on edge - they must be running out of time. Whether it's purge getting the song he wants or something they're trying to do with the antenna itself, they have to step it up! Just like their opponent is. She has a rougher time keeping up with the shield blasting out at them all, and an equally rough one keeping pace with the beat.

    But she grits, and holds, narrowing her eyes from over her shield. There's no time to stay on the defensive though, so she immediately lunges back in to close in on the now-smaller barrier to continue pressuring it.

    "Maybe they wouldn't, or maybe they would,"
    "But I'm still new to this, so maybe you've misunderstood!"
    "As a knight, I still have a long way to go--"
    "But even so!"
    "We're not the villains here, that much is true!"
    "And we're *all* going to get you back and make sure Purge is through!"

    She's kind of matching the faster beat made by Ioanna without meaning to now - but each slash comes with a shine of light, flecks of warmth and radiance blowing off from the points of impact to wash over others nearby and soothe their wounds. Rean, Laura, and Staren in particular get a rousing call of, "Keep at it! A little more of those combo attacks and all that firepower, and we'll make it through! Just a little more...!"

    She might not be able to drop any crazy dance moves (right now), but her repeated strikes keep getting more intense, until the sound of cleaving light against energy and metal smashing down behind it might threaten to throw the Agent off his own beat. All the way until Blemishine kicks back, digs her feet into the earth, and launches forward with her shield set in front of her--attempting to batter against the abused shield and shatter right through it!
Kale Hearthward Spin reels back, as if in physical pain, when Ioanna gets her Xenoanthropology rhyme in - and in *meter*, too.

And that's the opening the rest of the hits need - they land one after another, shrinking the shield down further, and causing Spin to shrink back further himself...

... And yet, he stands up. It's time for his next trick.

"Okay! I've got a handle on this - what's the next shade, what's the next groove?" demands Ulala, of her operator.

"<I... can't get a read!>"

And this turns out to be because Spin's next trick... is that he doesn't have one.

He's been so thoroughly schooled that he doesn't have a comeback - not only from the physical stress of keeping up the groove shield, but also the psychological stress has weighed him down in a physical way. It's as if the whole universe - the entirety of everything - has taken a look at his performance, graded it, and delivered from on high the judgement. He feels it in his bones, the phrase no freestyler wants to ever have put upon them, but that all constantly fear, that they all feel lapping at their heels as they lay down their rhymes...

The universe says: U rappin' AWFUL

The shield breaks apart.
The full-body brainwashing uniform fizzles apart.
Beat Agent Spin falls to his knees, and from there down all the way to the ground, breathing heavily - beaten, freed, but still alive, with the path into the facility now unguarded.
Staren     Never stop and ask yourself the question, would things be better without me?



    Spin DARES. He DARES accuse STAREN of never considering HER OWN MORALITY?!

    She doesn't hear the rest. It's just noise. Without a word from her, the Samson drops its gun and dashes forward. Huge rocket-gauntlets teleport onto its arms, as well as a jetpack and additional leg thrusters as it places its hands on the field in front of (but not directly in front of) Staren and all the rockets fire.

    Staren glares. Her hair and scarf flutter dramatically from the air pushed aside by the rocket exhaust. The Samson strains as the shield pushes. The rockets somehow turn up MORE, roaring louder and higher-pitched, trailing mach diamonds in the air behind them.

    The field pushes back. It's almost at Staren. At the last split-second, she jumps, a few feet up, not back, not taking her eyes off Spin.

                Wormhole Portal Recharged. Warping armaments...                

    Staren is in a ten-foot-tall suit of robot armor. Where the Samson is barrel legs and huge pauldrons, the Delilah is, well, *comparatively* slender, though still proportioned like a ten foot tall humanoid warrior, with rounded shapes and a missile launcher behind the right shoulder. Forearm-mounted plasma cannons and retractable blades are hidden by the same rocket gauntlets as the Samson currently has. The paintjob is unfinished, but it looks like it's mostly white, with some black on the flexible bits under the plates at joints. The helmet has an antenna sticking up from the back, a ridge atop the head concealing the barrel of some kind of energy weapon, and three glowing red horizontal slits at eye level.

    The Samson and Delilah give it their all. Servos and steel strain, rocket thrusters melt. When at last there's a break in the push, the one-use parts drop off so as to not overheat and damage the underlying machines, a haze of heat over them.

    A drone projects a holographic image of Staren's head, still looking at Spin with the same expression, now unnaturally lit up by the screen inside the helmet. "You. don't. know. me."

    "I am Staren Wiremu. I don't always do the right thing, but I try. I've agonized over the plight of unseen masses while 'heroes' fight for the status quo that crushes them underfoot and grinds them to dust. I've been asking myself if I'm doing enough since long before you began... whatever this is." the Delilah waves a hand dismissively at the antenna building.

    "I've argued for the sake of people that hated me. I nearly destroyed myself for the sake of ideals that put others first with no place for me."

    The power armors step forward. "I survived, and faced my self-destructive self-hatred, and with friends at my side I'm stronger than ever. And I STILL ask myself sometimes."

    The armors lift their right arms, pointing at Spin. "But you think YOU can break me with your little Philosophy 101 bullshit?" They take another step. "Your 'trying only makes things worse, caring and fighting makes you the REAL villain' sophomoric troll nonsense?"

    The red-lined visor glares. "Go home. Stay in your armchair and stay in whatever internet forum you crawled out of, and stay out of the real messes the adults are cleaning up."

    And then both armors turn and fire all of their weapons at the antenna, trying to destroy it and stop it from transmitting the song with a barrage of TK bolts, plasma blasts, and missiles.