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|Cantio||This is not the first time this area has been attacked by monsters. Scorches mar the beigey/bone white outer surface of the high walls that surround the coast lined town, and those spots in particular reek of burnt plastic. It's not nearly grand enough to be called a city, but it is certain to take a lot of work if the patchwork of new and old materials making up those walls and those of the buildings is any indicator.
Also, all those monsters roaming around outside. Notwithstanding the ones actively approaching the gates this minute, it's easy enough to see the local wildlife mingling with the Viruses not only out at sea, but also in the woods between this town and the high rises of Cadenza in the distance.
Also, there's a bunch of monsters approaching the gates. A swarm, even, as colorful wave of weird blobs starts to descend upon the gates. Alone, these things wouldn't be a threat, and even a large group would be more annoying than dangerous. The town's fought off these sorts of blob things before, but only in the double digit scale at most. From the looks of it, though, the town could be overwhelmed through three or even four digit numbers of these rolling slimy things within the hour.
That's where Elites come in. As with before, the town has promised compensation through money or data for those coming to aid them. They're taking potshots at encroaching mass until then.
|Forte||A data reward is nice.
For the cloaked figure floating in from the nearest warpgate, though, the hunt itself is the reward.
"... Low level," remarks Forte, once he reaches the gates - making no motion towards introducing himself towards those in town, or those also appearing to tackle the threat, or - well, to anyone else at all, really.
GETABILITY.BAT - READ READY
AUTONAVI SLOT IN - AREA_STEAL A - STANDBY
"Junk food," he adds, and then he floats towards the mass of slimes, unhurried, glowing-red hand extended...
... The air seems to sizzle around Forte's hand - not actually heating anything, but digitizing the stray bits of water vapor in the air as it passes through, making it about as dangerous to touch or be touched by.
|Shotaro Hidari||Weird monsters threatening a town? Well, Shotaro can't say that he's experienced something like this before, but he does protect a city from monsters in a way. In front of the gate, a normal-looking man with a fedora and dressed in half business casual half noir outfit stands there. People obviously would wave him away but instead of heeding them, he remains there.
"Alright partner, let's drive off these monsters first. We can find out what's going on afterward." Shotaro says, back in their base, Philip grins, as a belt appears around each one's waist. In Shotaro's hand, a purple USB stick appears. Back with Philip, he draws out a green USB stick. "Sounds like an interesting mystery to get involved in."
The green stick is pressed, before being pushed into Philip's belt. Both Shotaro and Philip speak as one: "Henshin."
Shotaro's belt reveals the new memory already inserted, as the purple memory is pressed, and inserted into the belt.
Shotaro's hands come to either side of himself, as the Kamen Rider armor seems to spin around him, applying itself to his body as if the wind was blowing it on.
Kamen Rider W points a finger forward, aimed at the monsters. "Now, count up your sins!" he says before rushing forward, ready to fight the creatures head-on with nothing but his fists, friendship, and an extremely cool Henshin.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| Hibiki wasn't here last time the place got attacked, but she sure is this time. It's coincidence more than anything else that ends up carrying her here this time, and as anybody who knows her can attest, there's a precisely zero percent chance she'd ignore a distress call no matter what else she might be doing. If this isn't the first time they've had this kind of trouble, something's gonna have to be done about the problem at large, but for now...
"Balwisyall nescell Gungnir tron..."
On a sprinting approach to the front of the gates from off to the side, there's an echoing chant that resounds off the walls of the city followed by an explosion of golden light. It bursts away to reveal the orange, black, and white bodysuit and armor of Hibiki Tachibana's Symphogear, the scarf topping it all off finishing forming as she leaps forward right into the horde of monsters and ineffectual potshots.
"What did you guys do to make /this/ many of 'em mad...?" She asks nobody in particular in the middle of attempting to grab onto one of them, swing around on her heel, and fling it towards the biggest crowd of its friends she can see. The sheer amount of them might be a problem.
Might. She also throws up something halfway between a wave and a fist pump in Kamen Rider W's general direction when she gets a chance.
|Bercilak|| Payment may be discussed later--though he'll almost certainly choose the data, Bercilak is more immediately interested in the challenge posed by the sheer numbers of viruses headed for the gates. While they're not much one-on-one, it's been a while since he's fought so outnumbered.
His bike is never hard to miss on the approach. A roar that pounds at the chest and thrums in the throat, near deafening in its bellow. When Bercilak slows down to bank or make a hard turn, that roar 'softens' to a rapid-fire stream of explosive pops. Its engine is highly efficient, without many moving parts--but it is loud. The saving grace is that he's moving dynamically through the approaching mass, meaning that no one person is bullied by the noise for too long.
Rather than try and slice through the slimes, he's using the cowcatcher at the front of his massive bike to plow through them, swinging the blunt cheek of his axe like a club to splash through whatever plasm manages to avoid his charge.
He makes a gauntleted finger-gun towards Forte with the other hand, nimbly pulling up to elevate over him as he... eats? The bike pulls a tight loop to catch a better look at it. He's seen it before--he just doesn't remember. His loop causes him to catch the limb of a tree with his bulk, yanking it loose and causing it to fly towards him and splinter against his chest. Oops.
He gets back to work, shortly after that, waving excitedly to Hibiki. "WHAT ITIDES, SIB?!"
|Team Breelai|| "So like, can we take half pay up front, then the rest after we finish the job? No? ... Yeah, yeah, fair enough, I guess."
There's a half-hearted attempt from Cheelai to bargain harder with the town residents, something that doesn't go well because no sane person would pay up front for monster removal. But as far as she's concerned, it never hurts to try. What's the worst that could happen anyway?
Meanwhile, Broly, like a good boy, stands at the edge of the town. He's crouched down, hands cupped around his eyes to help shield the sun from them as he looks at the horde from afar. Outside of the token resistance from the townsfolk, no one else is currently engaging. He hasn't also gotten the okay to go either, and as much as he'd like to, it'd be rude to start without approval.
|Staren|| he city is under attack from slimes... Staren tries to remember if she's seen these monsters before. Hasn't she? Yes, poochooze. Sarracenia's explosives and blunt attacks seemed to work. Staren considers what sort of weapons to bring. Magic and explosives seem like a good bet... Hmm. Have to choose a look. Magical Girl, maybe? But she hasn't designed that sort of costume. And then words from last night's conversation about Halloween cross her mind:
I don't need an excuse to dress up as a cute witch anymore!
Staren drives a hover APC from the warpgate, stopping by the wall. She hops out, and the doors and roof open, revealing missile racks and a few squads of golems -- mostly metal humanoids and a couple of larger humanoids, 10' tall concrete bipeds wielding kanobos.
Staren herself is dressed in clothes that scream MAGIC by virtue of the matching red cloak and wide-brimmed pointy hat, with Concord Orange accents, though it's hard to make out details from the distance. She's got her usual bag, a staff, and a wand tucked into a belt.
Leading the golems outside the walls, Staren sweeps a hand from side to side, then points forward imperiously. "Spread out! Form a distraction so the poochooze can't all overwhelm a single target!" Of course, the actual words are more for the benefit of allies, as actual more-specific individual commands have been sent to each unit over radio.
|Cantio||The Elites start to arrive, and the local defenders start to breathe again. <<"Thanks for showing up! Again, even!">> They add that last bit upon recognizing the likes of Forte and Staren, and they keep their word as they start directing their fire towards the sides that have (comparably) less Elite coverage. <<"We'll get the stragglers, so you can all focus on the bulk of the Poohcooze!">>
Forte's float-stroll towards the swarm of aptly named Poochooze, the colorful dog-ish-faced blobs approaching him en masse despite thedangerous sizzle of his hands. Even though he's not on the ground, they're still more than capable of flinging themselves at him whole-body, aiming to overwhelm his weird hand thing with sheer numbers.
Kamen Rider W, meanwhile, gets the attention of another chunk of the swarm as he runs right at them. Some of the Poohooze actually form up into something nearly as tall as he is, but three times as wide. Once they're in range, they form into a blanket sort of shape as they try to fall right onto him and engulf the double fighter wholesale.
<<"Nothing! Well, I mean, besides living out here. Viruses are a dime a dozen out here, but they usually don't swarm up like this!">> Hibiki's question gets an answer from the same (apparent) leader of the guard while she tosses one Virus into many, bowling them over in a noisy pile of incoherent high-pitched noises. Getting into the middle of them, however, means there's just more directions she can be swarmed from, especially when they're practically carpeting the field and trying to engulf her legs to immobilize her.
The rumble of Bercilak's motorcycle initially puts the town guard on edge, but the collective force breathes a sigh of relief when that rumbling comes not from a beast, but from an ally! One that's plowing right through the horde, even, as the Poochooze do their best to clog up the motorcycle with their bodies. It's the best they can manage until he approaches Forte, anyway, using that opportunity to try catching him in the crossfire of leaping dog-slimes as well.
<<"We'll go for a third. We're good for it, but...">> Cheelai's bargaining attempts actually work to an extent, and the guard leader issues the order for one of the town's accountants to handle all the necessary bank stuff to get that half paid right into Cheelai's account of choice. <<"... He's fighting, too, right?">> Broly, weirdly enough, is actually kind of safe from the swarm for the time being. He's just not safe from some stares coming from the guards noticing that he hasn't gone up just yet, but they're not about to try poking him when they have the more immediate threat to worry about. (Also, he's kinda scary down there.)
With so many Elites already on the field, Staren's golems help put the finishing touches on spreading the focus of the Poochooze swarm. They're certainly not working on any kind of hivemind or central intelligence in general, and and the numbers soon become one or two hundred per person instead of an entire swarm for everybody.
|Forte||Forte lets himself get swarmed.
This is a mistake.
A mistake for the swarmers, that is. Because once they're sufficiently piled onto him-
AREA_STEAL A - EXECUTE
-he vanishes, and reappears up above the pile, swooping down with glowing hand extended!
The phrase 'like a hot knife through butter' is very apropos for what's about to happen. Things just *evaporate* - or seem to - as they come into contact with it.
|Shotaro Hidari||W goes in fist first, punching a few of the strangely-faced slimes before they form up, and collapse down on him. Suspended in slime, and struggling to move Shotaro tries to struggle in the liquid for a moment. It was quickly apparent that this was going to go nowhere extremely fast. This was when half of W started talking to the other half.
"Shotaro, let's try using the heat memory here," he says, to which Shotaro can't really argue. In slow motion, he seems to grab another memory and pulls out cyclone which seems to disappear. Pushed into the slot, the belt is once more pushed into the W figure as the change happens.
Now half of W is red instead of green, and without warning a charge of fire erupts out of the Kamen Rider to try and burn away the slimes around it. He fights back now with a whirlwind of punches and kicks, aiming to burn away the slimes as they approach him.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| "Poochooze...?" Hibiki muffles into her scarf while glancing back towards the gate, after hearing them get named. After playing bowling with one of them, she glances back to the ones she scattered around - now that she's not sprinting in full blast, she can actually get a good look at their doggy faces.
Damnit. They're actually pretty cute.
Not so cute when she realizes she's put herself right in the middle of a bunch of them though, and she begins yelping and nearly buckling underneath the slimy assault, even waving her arms around some to help keep her balance. "Woah, w-woah--well whatever they want...ngh, get off of me...!"
Before they can start gunking up the inside of her leg armor too badly, she forces one foot up as high as she can manage before stomping it back down as hard as she can. The ground cracks and fractures under the force a meter all around her, before it bursts upwards in a shower of force and flying debris that'll send all the Poochooze around her flying every which way.
Which will clear the air, but leave a lot more around. "Then we'll just have to thin 'em out!" Which she begins solving by breaking out into punching some of the still-airborne sections of earth, shattering them and turning the fragments into shotgun projectiles. She's sure glad Staren's golems are making this more manageable.
|Staren|| Up close, the poochooze could see the wires, gems, and bits of jade on the 'magic' items, not that it means anything to them. Their attempts to ram into Staren with their acidic bodies are rebuffed by a spherical amber forcefield. Discoloring and cracking it slightly. Staren recoils slightly, regretting this plan allowing them to get close before she draws attention with attacks. The oozes swarming the metal statues aren't repelled, although the acid is slow to eat away at them. They punch and kick but are overwhelmed. That's okay. To be a distraction is their job.
The two larger constructs swinging kanobos around are probably a bit more effective at repelling the poochooze swarming them.
Staren, for her part, needs the poochooze to give her some space! Fortunately... She is not beholden to gravity! Fingers absent-mindedly brush the circuitry attached to the underside of her cloak, but the actual activation is a little *push* of magic directed by Staren's mind, into the circuits, where the energy is amplified and shaped into a flight effect. Her cloak and skirt, and the floppy tip of her hat, flutter dramatically in nonexistant 'wind' for a second as she crouches and then leaps up. And up, and up, floating! She draws the wand from her belt, a stick with a cartoon star shape on the end, and flips over in the air, clothes and hair behaving as if 'down' is the way her feet are aimed. She aims the wand up (down) and a bit of blue-white energy pulses over it before a bright orange spark flies down into the ground, exploding in a great fiery sphere on impact!
Of course, ONE explosion in ONE place is hardly going to signifricantly thin this herd. A salvo of missiles arc over the town wall, raining down on concentrations of poochooze though off-center so as not to blow up her golems yet, high explosive shockwaves aiming to disrupt the slimes!
Staren grins. /Magic/. How long did she wish she could learn to do this for...?
|Team Breelai|| "Oh...Huuuuuh. Didn't expect that to work! Not that I'm complaining. Well, anyway, yeah he is. HEY BROLY! WE'RE HELPING NOW!"
Ignoring the fact that there are people right next to her, Cheelai shouts at the top of her lungs and into the radio as she packs up to leave. As to why she's shouting directly into her radio? Dramatics, mostly. It also makes her look more professional or something, or at the very least, like... Intimidating? Whatever, she's not gonna worry about it.
With permission to go, Broly springs into action, completely ignoring the guards watching over him as he disappears in a blur of speed. Not really being able to clothesline a slime at his height, or simply not being creative enough to try, the Saiyan opts for a much more simple approach by flying low to the ground and using their massive body like a bullet to plow through the slimes.
Not wanting to fly past however, Broly eventually hits the brakes by digging his fingers into the ground below, ripping out a large chunk of the terrain and awkwardly flipping as he does so, though he course corrects by simply slamming both his body and the large piece of data-land he's holding into one last 'innocent' slime.
|Bercilak|| The Wraith doesn't have many moving parts--but what parts it does have can certainly be gummed up by slime. At first, any slime that gums up the bike's motivators--the flaps that direct air and allow it to turn--is somehow evaporated by some invisible force. But his nanites aren't instant.
When his combination socializing-showboating puts him in the crossfire of a dog slime dogpile, it's just beyond the capacity of his cloud to manage. Unable to pull up when he needs to, Bercilak ends up burying the nose of the bike into the earth, cutting a deep trench until it collides with a venerable tree. The impact saps the last of his momentum, and he is dead in the water for a moment, battered by leaping Poochoozes.
Bercilak lifts his axe, reverses his grip, and plunges the edge into the back of his shoulder, as slimes swarm him. From his fall cloak of helenium and feather reeds there sprouts a wild an uncontrolled growth of brush, so thick and tangled as to deny purhcase to the slimy grasp of those viruses swarming him, shoving them all off with sudden and explosive force.
Tearing the undergrowth from his armor, Bercilak guns the ignition, using the Wraith's front-end and incredible torque to shovel the entire tree from the earth. Just as the tree begins to tip, and lean towards him, he deftly cuts right into a barrel roll, allowing it to fall past him in an effort to try and flatten the Poochoozes below.
Bercilak likes this tactic so much that, when Staren yells for a distraction, he cuts a path through the next nearest group, furrowing a fissure in the ground with his axe. In his wake, towering oaks grow, and he weaves in between them, felling each with a deft stroke of his axe, and setting them all to falling with thunderous crashes.
"LIK SWICH, STAREN? BAHAHA!" W appears to have some sort of heat-based attack. Bercilak hoots and hollers in the Rider's direction, pumping his axe arm high and planting the axe in the ground to make a dime-turn. Why? So he can clap W on the back, on his way to clean up after Broly's bullet-flight. The axe's cheek is swung towards stragglers like a mallet, underhand, with all the horsepower of the Wraith to assist his strikes.
|Cantio||At first, it looks like the Poochooze might actually have the upperhand against Forte. They surround him, they pile on top of him, and then they collapse onto him as though they've eaten right through his entire robotic body! Aside from the fact that he nothing personnels them instead and gets the drop on them, carving through them with ease as they start dissolving into pixelated clouds of data that he can feast on easily as long as he's not worried about extra... Bloatware or something computer calorie joke-related.
When W brings out the Heat memory and the colors of that suit shift from green to red, it's the town guards that actually look surprised by the display. "Hey, isn't that just like...?" "You think he's working with them?" "No, no. That's totally a guy. Guys from here can't transform." "Oh. Right." The slimes, meanwhile, are about as insistent as ever on attacking, and about as squishy and flammable as one might expect. Their outsides dry up first, and then they shatter on impact if they don't just disintegrate before even reaching the Rider.
As much as the Poochooze try to cover Hibiki, meanwhile, her fighting spirit and also stupid amounts of physical impact prevent them from making much ground. The shockwave from the stomp and debris alone are enough to blast several of them apart on impact, and yet more outside of the immediate death zone are blasted high enough into the air that the landing following that bursts them into clouds of corrupted data as well.
When Staren starts going up, the Poochooze start to build themselves into a tower! Except they're not really capable of complex architecture or calculating proper support systems, so it quickly devolves into a large pile of them slowly building upwards and not getting anywhere near high enough to reach. It does, however, put them all in a convenient place to blast the everloving crap out of them, scattering bits of jelly and data all over the place.
"So are you his handler or...?" One of the guards asks Cheelai while shooting at some of the stragglers actually trying to reach the town, squinting slightly as Broly just disappears. Their attention is turned towards the generalized mass of Poochooze, however, as his charge sends a whole swathe of the things flying along with huge chunks of the terrain smashing them apart and burying their... Whatever they're made of under the rubble/dirt/grass/weird rocks and ensuring that whatever grows on top of that will be mildly dog-slime flavored.
Bercilak, like Forte, looks like he might be in a bad position when his bike hits a tree and he's swarmed by the dog-ish slime monsters. They swarm and they pile, but their efforts are all for naught when Bercilak makes like a tree and grows uncontrollably through the whole lot of them. Battered away but not fully beaten, they try to chase him down, nipping at his heels persistently! Alas, the Viruses quickly realize that the situation has only been made worse by the addition of yet more trees and also that big freaking axe he has, scattering them all over the place.
|Cantio||Needless to say, it looks like the Poochooze really aren't going to stand a chance for long against even two or three Elites working in tandem, never mind six of them. To make matters worse for the swarm, the Elites aren't the only ones coming out to meet the Virus swarm. As things look steadily worse for them, a burst of fire erupts from the crowd a fair distance away.
It's not so far away that the source is impossible to see, but just far enough away to recognize it as coming from the north. As the smoke clears, two figures can be seen, clad in silver and red armor that looks vaguely rubbery like the rest of their bodies. They're armed with a sword and lance, respectively, and they're both mounted on green and black slimy creatures, also respectively.
Their mounts also look considerably less shiny and more weirdly rubbery than those making up the force attacking the town. They're also attacking and being attacked by that flood of things, too, conveniently diverting some of that flood's attention.
Those facing the Elites, meanwhile, start to gather together. They pile onto each other rapidly, practically absorbing their fallen brethren's data on the way and eventually turning into a gigantic Poochooze! It's easily large enough to dwarf the town's walls in height, and wide enough that someone could probably do laps running around on the thing if they really wanted to try.
This same giant Poochooze also decides to start swinging at the Elites wildly. Not with the expected slimy tendrils something of that size and texture would, but with big angry fists made of stretched out and smaller Poochooze!
|Shotaro Hidari||W stumbles only a little at that back clap from Bercilak. To which the Kamen Rider turns his head towards the large man and gives him a nod. "Thanks!" he says, respectful but also more than willing to take a compliment where it lies. Though when the slimes join into MEGA SLIME, this is a problem.
W tries to be fast on his feet, but the sheer size of the creature and its unpredictability are hard for the Rider to guess right. The strike causes a line of sparks to form across the chest of the rider before he's thrown to the ground. It takes a moment for the Rider to get back to his feet, running one knuckle across his chin.
He comes back, however, viciously aiming a barrage of fireballs that seem to come off of his fists, each one pounding into various places across the slime monster. If the fire can shrivel them up...then the Flame Memory was the right one.
"Might be too early to consider metal," The red half of W says, "Yeah," says the Joker half. The red half also notices that people at the wall were in wow of them. "It seems our transformation got some attention. We should look into this," the red half says again. "Mmm. Didn't they say something about men not transforming?"
|Bercilak|| Bercilak leans forward excitedly in his seat. Two mysterious figures have appeared--highly knightly, by his estimation. He considers getting some altitude and dropping by to make introductions, throw hands, and the like... but only until the remaining Poochoozes form into an enormous, wide mass.
"Bahaha! Onbringe hit, thanne," he shouts, hoisting his axe one-handed above his head. His other hand guns the accelerator. A lance of sharp white flame stretches from the Wraith's exhaust, the roar growing louder.
When the Green Knight misjudges a foe's strength, his reaction is not fear or worry. It is glee. The massive fist collides with his bike, and despite his attempt to take the blow on a side-panel and roll past it, Bercilak is flung from the hoverbike, and his steed goes flying off as he plummets to the earth, landing beside Broly.
"Thou'rt overstrengthi," he says to Broly. "Let us espy the mesure of yon beste's strength, ei? COME! WE SHALT FUCK HIT UP!" The impact stripped his helmet from him, and there is a wild gleam in his blood red eyes as he points to the opposite side of the giant Poochooze.
"THE ERTHE IS OURE ALLIE!" The Green Knight demonstrates what he means, driving the blade of his axe into the earth and cutting a wide gash, hewing it with such force as to crack and split the ground. Levering the haft, he lifts up a massive, earthen slab, hoping Broly will do the same. When his brute strength manages to get that wall of earth upright, Bercilak roars with excitement, advancing one heavy bootfall at a time, picking up speed, cutting on his armor's thrusters and attempting to sandwich the giant monster with Broly!
Oh, that's right, most people don't do too well being squished by huge rock slabs. "WACCHE THEE OUTE, ELLES THOU SHALT BE CRUSHED!"
|Forte||Forte has a very... unsatisfying meal.
"... Why did I bother coming out here..."
Well, at least he can save the village. Do the right thing. Be heroic and all that.
You remember the heroic thing, right Forte? The whole reason you left exile, right? Saving people and fighting the corrupt establishment and making sure nobody gets entirely unjustly persecuted the way you were?
Yeah, Forte remembers. -Ish.
The giant Poochooze swings its fist, and Forte can't nothing personnel his way out of it in time - there's a very solid sound of data against data, and when Forte reappears he looks a little bit less... put together.
However - if the oozes are forming one giant mass... that also means they're a bigger target.
AUTONAVI SLOT IN - CHARGE_SHOT X - EXECUTE
His glowing hand shifts forms - becoming a large arm cannon that starts gathering energy as Forte aims.
"Deletion," he says, simply, as he fires - the recoil from the massive shot causing him to get pushed back a bit in the air.
|Staren|| This is going well. Some kind of slime knights? have also shown up and are further splitting up the enemy forces, and her golems are holding, though a bit slime-eaten.
And then it rapidly gets worse.
Part of the REASON Staren encouraged the poochooze to spread out was so that they couldn't combine into giant ones. And now, it turns out they do that anyway? They can do it USING THE MATERIAL FROM DEAD ONES?! "Oh COME ON! We have to completely destroy them or it doesn't count, and even spread out they can still form King Poochooze?! SINCE WHEN!" Staren complains at reality in general.
And then things get worse. Tentacles. Tentacles?! Why are there tentacles?! A previously-unfelt concern about this bubbles up in the back of her brain as they wrap around her forcefield and it begins to crack more and more... It's not looking good, but eventually the round, spherical field slips free, and as she tumbles through the air she summons sensor drones to boost situational awareness.
She considers her options. Blowing them apart doesn't matter -- as long as there's enough left, they can just merge with the dead material. Burning? Maybe, but she has to be sure it's a ... chemical change, or something, so that burned crud is left behind, not usable goo.
Well, it's A Plan. "Golems! Stay away from the big ones!" The golems capable of doing so back towards the town wall -- there's probably a number of them floating helplessly within the king slimes...
"We've got to destroy the goo so it can't be reused! I'll burn it when you knock it loose!" Staren focuses on the giant slime, watching for others' attacks to knock out slime, or burst it or something, and immediately throwing more fireballs to burn it before it can be reused.
Oo, Forte has the right idea. Just DELETE things! Staren's sensor drones focus on him, trying to understand and analyze what his buster is doing... if she can replicate it, maybe she can put this poochooze menace down faster!
|Hibiki Tachibana|| When she gets a moment to breathe and (not) relish in the corrupted-looking data littering the area, Hibiki braces herself for more of her share of the Poochooze coming her way and to take stock of the battlefield. Everyone looks like they're holding up--but wait, who the heck is that deep over there? To the north...?
"Are those...knights? But they look so--"
...rubbersuity. But she doesn't know how things roll in Cadenza aside from what she knows from Cantio, so she won't say anything. And it looks like they're allies. Hibiki is halfway to almost trying to fight her way over to assist them when the still-massive swarm of Poochooze they're still dealing with gets smarter.
And bigger. In short order, Hibiki is left staring up in the shadow of the colossal dog-slime with wide eyes. "Oi, oi--isn't it bad enough that Noise do this, now you have to do it too!? I guess I shouldn't expect anything less from slime monsters..." Fortunately, this isn't a strange kind of sight for Hibiki even at home, so she recovers quickly. Just not quickly enough to fully avoid getting punched and sent flying backwards with a shout of pain.
Though she recovers with a flip and a clean landing, right back into a run. As it goes on with its swinging rampage, she goes for a leap to avoid the next one, landing on its arm and continuing to run up it. "Or just pound it with everything we've got!" She calls back to Staren and Forte as she goes, with Broly and Bercilak being the ones on her mind. And also herself.
Because she aims to make it all the way up to the thing's shoulder before making one last jump to come down onto its head from above, with a descending kick meant to dig as deep into its body as possible. This will probably either split its cute little face in half, or send a bunch of the Poochooze composing it scattering everywhere. One or the other.
|Team Breelai|| "Handler? Huh??? Oh, nah. He's a friend. He's just uh... A bit too polite sometimes. Yeaaaah! Anyway~, I'm working on it though!"
Cheelai just kind of waves dismissively at them as she pulls out a phone to check her bank account. It's perhaps a bit of an understatement on her part, given that Broly will literally stare at a plate of food until given permission to eat still... But he's learning... She thinks...
MEANWHILE AT BROLY:
The Saiyan is assaulted with a giant, nasty, slime fist. Rather than just take it, he brings his arms up to block and plants himself firmly, refusing to budge from the stance he's adopted even as his feet leave tiny trenches as he skids back.
Eventually coming to a stop, Broly turns his attention to Berc, his head tilting in confusion at his words. It isn't until the knight lifts a chunk of earth that the Saiyan finally pieces it together.
Bending down, he sinks his fingers into the weird digital landscape once more,concentrating for a moment as his muscles bulge outward. With a small grunt and a mighty heave upward, Broly too, produces a massive rock, which he awkwardly fumbles with a bit to angle it right, before running over at mach speeds to join Bercilak in the sandwiching maneuver.
Not wanting to stop just there, however, he lets go of the slab of earth, taking a step back and throwing one of his massive arms back before thrusting in forward. There's a burst of green energy as his fist connects with the piece of rock, the force of the blow splintering it into a fine dust.
|Cantio||The Giga Poochooze lets out something that sounds like a belly laugh as it actually manages to catch several of the Elites with its meaty fists, all despite the fact that it doesn't have so much of a belly as it is just a giant head blob. The noise itself is enough to shake the ground a bit, though, and it even draws concerned looks from the town guard.
"... Tch. Well, don't just stand there. Keep shooting!" And so, the town guard continues to fire on the beast with questionable success considering that it doesn't actually pay any attention to them. It has bigger fish to fry, after all, and it could be bigger than it already is if not for those rubbery Poochooze riders keeping some of its growth potential at bay with all sorts of fire and lightning imbued slashes.
Also, they're keeping the reinforcements at bay from joining up with the main mass. There's a rhythm to their elemental bursts, too, almost as if they're attacking with a steady tempo rather than just swinging as wildly and quickly as they can.
Forte's charged shot is one of the few things that actually looks relatively normal around here. The size of the shot is another matter entirely, of course, as is the fact that it's his arm that functions as the gun rather than him using a gun, but the effect it has is what really throws the guards and the Giga Poochooze for a loop. Instead of just blasting it apart, the data itself separates from the main physical mass, and a lingering cloud of data remains/starts to fade as chunks of jelly splatter on the ground beneath it. There's still probably time to eat if he's quick about it.
Although Staren's logic is sound, bullshit boss mechanics rarely are, especially when it's in a world that just distinct enough that nobody has to worry about getting accosted by roving bands of lawyers. Picking up on what works between W and Forte, however, means that the monster's absorbing abilities aren't going to do as much as they could when they're speeding along with burning and deleting swaths of its mass at a time.
W's fire-based strikes were effective earlier, so it's easy enough to figure that it would be just as effective on this giant now that it's pretty much nothing but surface area to hit. Its outer jelly hardens even before the combination Rider makes contact, although it seems to have enough intelligence to propel those massive burnt chunks into W's incoming attacks to intercept them before they can strike the main body. It's certainly not a technique that the smaller individual Poochooze were capable of coming up with or doing separately.
Bercilak brings up a big freaking slab of solid ground, and the side of the giant starts to burble as multiple Poochooze-arms burst out of it. They flex threateningly, complete with bulging (slime) biceps, prepared to meet his wall of ground meat head on! What it's not prepared to deal with, however, is Broly doing the same thing from the opposite direction, and it gets crushed between their MIGHTY GIRTH as it deforms into less of a wide circular blob and more of a long wall sort of squished thing. Punching through one side allows some of that stuff to start oozing out, but only in the context of also having a huge chunk of it battered apart.
Hibiki comes down as its trapped between those walls, and there's not a lot of any room to maneuver. The best it can do is propel some chunklets of Poochooze to try and slow her down, but there's little stopping her from torpedoing herself through the slime wall and splitting it down the middle/burying herself inside of its giant mass.
|Cantio||Despite all the damage to it and the gross pile of formerly-Poochooze slime scattered all around the field, however, the assembled creature is still alive! Barely. It gurgles in clear pain as it starts compressing itself further into that ground wall sandwich, oozing through the cracks and trying to drown Hibiki in rocky sludge in the process. She's the first to notice that it's trembling, however, as it seems to be pushing back against the walls. It can't muster up enough power to shoves those walls off of it outright, but as a last ditch effort...
It bursts through the cracks instead. The gaps allow it to concentrate its body mass through small gaps instead of just flooding around aimlessly, firing chunks of itself all over the place like pressurized harpoons and slicing discs. Some of those pieces even embed themselves in the ground and the walls outside the city, causing some of the guards to duck behind cover and the mysterious-ish knights to dive for cover!
They still remain mounted the entire time.
|Shotaro Hidari||Once more the massive thing strikes, and Shotaro can see that the flaming fists were not as effective. He does not focus on dodging this time, but rather trying to get closer to it. They gotta do something more than play defensive with this thing. Slime strikes out, but this time the Rider is prepared for the strange attacks, taking sparking damage across the shoulders instead of directly in the torso.
"Shotaro, it's getting used to our attacks. We're going to need something powerful against it to break through its defense," One half of W says, the other half already has an answer, "Then we'll use a Memory Break," he comments, drawing the heat memory out of his belt, and placing it in a slot on the side of the belt.
HEAT MAXIMUM DRIVE
W's fists start to glow red, as the two sides of W split down the middle. The Purple side dives in first, aiming to uppercut the giant monster followed by the Red side, aiming to capitalize on the initial strike by launching it up higher. The combined attacks leave a surprise, an explosion of fire that will burst (hopefully) burst through whatever hardening it can do to resist their fire.
... Now Forte resumes.
GETABILITY.BAT - BITBUCKET MODE READY
Not eating, though. Just simply deleting it. Clearing out everything that remains, making *absolutely* sure it can't come back!
He pursues it across whatever form or location it goes to - if it oozes into the walls, Forte starts melting a hole into the walls. If it retreats, he teleports after it. If it splits up, he attempts to herd it back together - and *then* continues his purge, the glowing hand deleting everything it touches...
|Hibiki Tachibana|| Hibiki really thought that would put paid to this thing. You know, the deleting. And the total wall crushing. And also the part where she kicked clear down the center, ending up with her leg indenting in a ton of its body somewhere halfway through its torso. "Pretty tough, aren't you!? ...Wait..."
Before she gets the chance to put some more oomph into a second hit, she notices what it's doing. Her eyes go wide. "Watch out, everyo--agh...!" She's swiftly made part of a Giga Slime sandwich as the thing squeezes itself in and she's caught dead in the middle of all of it, briefly disappearing inside a heaven slash hell of doggo-aspected slimes. It's not anywhere near as pleasant as being buried in actual dogs, on account of things like the crushing pressure and the lack of air to breathe.
For a few moments, it looks like she might be entirely drowned in it, and at the mercy of both it and all of the attacks coming to obliterate it--before Hibiki takes the volatile power within Gungnir and rather than focusing it into either her hands or legs, lets it build, and build, and build...
"Hraaaah!" Before it goes out in all directions as an expulsion of raw, forceful golden energy. From the inside, it'll force away or disintegrate all of the Poochooze surrounding her, and attempt to blow open a massive hole in its mass.
More than big enough to send a ton of (thankfully much more harmless) slime erupting everywhere, and create a big enough opening that Hibiki herself can fly out and roughly hit the dirt a safe distance away before everyone else finishes putting paid to the thing.
|Bercilak|| "O, shit," says Bercilak, looking over his shoulder at W. You should always look when you hear the belt noises, because it usually means some hype shit is about to happen. W's vertical split inspires Bercilak to attempt the same.
Mercifully for everyone present, before he can reach for his axe, he is speared by lances of sharpened ooze. That massive harness over his breastplate blunts several of them, sparks flying as scores are cut into its surface. Ooze needles are deflected away from his vitals, and strike plates over his shoulders and thighs.
Even these, however, have an unusual means of resistance--rather than being totally skewered, the metal plates become unusually hard at the very instant of impact. Some spines still manage to pierce his bodysuit, exiting his back and poking through his cloak coated in slick red.
When Bercilak manages to reach his axe, he thankfully has forgotten about trying to see if he could pull off W's trick with it. Instead, he uses the haft to break free the last of the giga Poochooze's tendrils, then reverses his grip. The axe is spun so that the blunt poll of the weapon's head is faced towards his wall.
Just as Broly did, Bercilak shatters his wall, this time with a rapid one-two-three combination. His hips and shoulders drive first the poll into the wall, then, with a brisk snap, the haft, ending in a vicious overhead to send the whole thing collapsing atop the Poochooze's rapidly dwindling body. Bercilak leaps into the air, and despite his immense weight, his strength is enough to carry him almost to eye level--assuming that cute face is still coherent, anyway.
At the apex of his leap, he lets out a bestial, gleeful roar, which serves as the only warning.
With the axe wound up so far for a strike that the head rests just behind his broad shoulders, Bercilak cuts on his thrusters. All of them fire downward at once, and he drives the poll into the digital earth, making a hammer of his weapon which sends a dramatic spray of rubble upwards, sending out a cone-shaped crater before him to try and bury what's left of the giga Poochooze just as Hibiki explodes her way out of it.
|Team Breelai|| Broly is honestly shocked the thing is not dead yet, and is caught completely off guard as it retaliates after being smashed between two rocks and many other forms of abuse that probably should have killed it.
Taking a few steps back as they're hit with the desperation attack, Broly decides to simply jump back and distance himself, wiping the slime off before it has a chance to do icky slime things.
With the thing on its deathbed, the only thing left to do is to finish it off. A proper burial, so to speak. With this in mind, Broly stretches an open hand outward, a giant green orb of energy growing in front of it.
Letting it grow for a bit, he eventually grasps the ball of destruction, causing it to shrink in compress as he does so. What comes next is simple, the Saiyan gets a running start, before simply chucking the energy sphere at the remains of the slime-creature like a baseball.
|Staren|| At least they have the slime on the ropes! "Yeah!" Staren cheers the others on, "Make it a jam sandwich!" Although, what's happening to Hibiki doesn't look good...
Staren can't focus on the others, though, she has to do aerobatics like crazy, also pulling a grapple gun from her bag and pulling herself to the ground or the town walls to mix it up. Even so, glancing hits pile up, the forcefield eventually shattering into a shower of sparkles, forcing Staren to activate some other defense, a blue-white suit of translucent armor appearing around her body before fading from visibility.
On the good side: Her drones have finished gathering data. Staren already has some idea of how to replicate it. She takes cover behind a stone golem while directing machinery back at the lab. Metal and plastic are shaped, gems, wires, and jade are slotted in, and as she steps out of cover she dramatically holds up her arm: A sort of oversized, bulky bracer-thing warps onto it, then extends out a barrel-like protrusion covering her hand. "Alright, let's try it out!" As she flies towards what's left of the creature, she slams a coppery cylinder into some sort of... battery port? on the device, then lands in front of the Poochooze, bracing with one arm on the 'arm cannon' exactly like you'd expect, "Commencing prototype field test!" energy sucking into the barrel of the weapon and then a blast of deleting energy similar to Forte's earlier charged shot firing at the main concentration of goo left!
|Cantio||As the Giga Poochooze shrinks back into itself to try pulling itself together, it finds that its decision to try hiding in that wall while absorbing Hibiki would turn out to be the beginning of the end for it. Bercilak breaks that wall onto the Virus, piercing it with countless shards of debris that tear it apart from the inside, and his diving strike blasts yet more stone and debris into it from below despite its attempts to force all of those painful chunks out of its mass.
The burst of energy from Hibiki within itself, meanwhile, causes it to blast outwards from that wall sandwich turned wall soup, the sheer force of that energy burst forcing those wall shards to rip it apart even further from the inside. As it tumbles tumbles around helplessly in mid-air with no more cover to speak of, the shout of a mysterious voice from W's belt should be worrisome to the Virus for reasons that it and Bercilak are totally aware of already.
It actually looks like it's trying to get away from W even as gravity takes hold and brings it right back down to the split Rider, barely able to hold itself together already. Those consecutive strikes launch it into the sky that detonates in a fiery explosion for some reason, engulfing it in flames and leaving its outside almost a perfectly solid mass with even less maneuverability than before.
That makes it a perfect target for Forte and Staren to start blasting it apart yet again. There's no need to chase it down, as it's all piled into that burnt shell. Shooting into it does open up a few holes, but it's not enough for the Virus to escape as it keeps getting shot and outright deleted each time it tries to slide out of a gap. With so many blasts coming in whenever it tries to peek out, it's soon cowed and forced to hide inside for what little time it has left.
One of those combination shots happens to join Broly's energy sphere as he hurls it right into another gap. With nowhere else for that energy to go, it all explodes at once, shattering the entire shell and sending its remains to the ground below.
And possibly Bercilak, if he doesn't move. It's not going to hurt him, but it might be kind of gross to have burnt dog-slime Virus chunks falling all over the place.
|Cantio||With nothing else to hold itself together, the Giga Poochooze collapses first into a pile of smaller Viruses, and then breaks apart entirely into a dense cloud of pixelated data. The pair of mounted knights approach the cloud, and the faces of the Poochooze they're on seem to be straining a bit as they stare right at it with labored breaths.
"There you are... Is everyone okay?" Cantio's voice comes from behind a pile of debris as she steps into frame, a tablet in one hand and a pair of styluses (stylii?) in the other. She's only tapping on the screen with one at a time, but she switches them up every now and then to punch data into that screen. She steps over a mess of poochooze jelly that's steadily turning into floating data, pausing to stare at the two knights as they straighten up and turn to face her.
"Oh! Right, go ahead. You've earned it." With that, the silver and red Poochooze(?) knights waste little time before circling around Cantio and sucking up that floating data. Rather, it's the mounts doing all the data-suck, and in a rather literal sense that Forte and Staren might even recognize from the last time they were here. Cantio, meanwhile, looks towards the group, then at the town in the distance as the guards watch her and the knights wordlessly. "So... Um... Does anyone know what's going on with that over there?"
It seems as though she's not aware of that town, and the people inside aren't in any hurry to greet her, based on how they've suddenly opted to remain radio silent.
|Shotaro Hidari||Kamen Rider W stands there, fingers pointed out at the exploding slime. However, the form of the Rider breaks apart like it was put on, a wind storm blowing the pieces away until Shotaro and his hat remained again. Of course, by this point, Cantio is here and collecting what looks like data. Oddly, a beetle-looking robot is sitting on Shotaro's shoulder.
Shotaro pulls his hat off to introduce himself to Cantio, "Shotaro Hidari, detective," Offering her a business card. "Odd that these monsters are gathering here, almost as if they are attracted here for some reason. Or are they simply attracted to people?"
He asks, trying to get this investigation off right.
|Forte||Forte, on request, goes to snag (not eat) some of the discarded data before the knights can vaccuum it all up. It's for someone else to look at.
"It's a town," he says, glancing over at Cantio. "Is something off about it?"
|Hibiki Tachibana|| "Eugh." That's all Hibiki says as she finds her way back to her feet after all of that, shaking some slime in the process of turning to data off of her with a few brushes before glancing back. Dang. Kamen Rider W is...cool. Really cool. How does he even get the wind to blow like that...?
All of the others get a nod as well, with a slightly curious glance towards Broly in particular, before Cantio makes her appearance. "Fine...I think. Hopefully, we're the only ones who got smacked around, and everyone in town is still okay..." She casts a glance back to the gates as if to make sure, then lets out a relieved sigh before looking back.
With a curious tilt of her head. "Uh...you mean the city?" Apparently, Hibiki is pretty confused about the wording. There's a weird kind of tension in the air though, she thinks, with how the guards have also gone quiet. With a slight frown, the magical girl nods in turn to both of the knights. "They're with you? I've never seen them before. But they were a big help back there."
|Staren|| Staren watches the mount-slimes absorb the data suspiciously. Is it REALLY over? Then the buster-thing Staren's holding starts to smoke -- she ejects the cylinder and then the weapon drops from her hand, which she shakes as if she touched something hot. Okay, this one may need some refining...
Cantio interrupts her thoughts about that. Her ears perk up and she looks at Cantio, then at the guards, then back at Cantio. She clearly knows something but for some reason has to think before just saying it.
But... she can't lie to an ally. And surely things can be cleared up? "This is the town your, ah..." She glances around at non-Concord folk, "...'that' was in, remember? Cadenza, I think it's called. They..."
Staren looks at the wall, then back at Cantio. "There's some kind of complex political situation going on I don't understand. Why do they have to be ruled by music or something if they don't want to be?"
|Cantio||Taking the business card from Shotaro, Cantio dips briefly into a polite curtsey. "Cantio, Drive Core Candidate of Cadenza." She says first, then quickly and quietly adds while pointing towards the taller and grander (tops of the) city in the distance past the woods, "Heir apparent, that place over there."
"They're attracted to people, but it's strange for them to swarm in these kinds of numbers. I've heard of them gathering around places that aren't as defended as the main Drives." A beat, then another explanation: "City."
"But coming out here..." She starts, stops, then looks towards the town again. "... I mean, I didn't even think there'd be a town out here. I'm surprised this could have sprung up so quickly, too, especially within Cadenza's territory..."
She sounds troubled about the existence of this place, and Staren's 'that' gets a confused look from Cantio. "No, no, Cadenza's my home." Luckily, she already pointed at it earlier while explaining to Shotaro! "I know there's smaller towns here and there that people would prefer living in outside of the main city, but they usually remain in contact with us. Did they tell you anything else about this place?" She doesn't bother hiding the fact that she's trying to get information about the town without actually asking the people in town about it.
Hibiki's question about the knights, meanwhile, has Cantio smiling again. And briefly laughing, too, but it's a little awkward as well. "Yes! They're..." She takes a deep breath to steady herself. "These are the first members of Cadenza's newly formed Bugster Defense Force." She announces clearly, conveniently not looking at the rubbery knights as their mounts(?) keep munching away on data that Forte isn't grabbing.
|Staren|| Cantio clears up the name thing, at least. "Oh." She finally just tightbeam-radios her, <"Isn't this where you had your secret bugster research lab? ...Ohhhhh, you just meant somewhere in the massive territory of Cadenza. Okay.">
Staren sighs, as she realizes they haven't been on the same page at all! "This is where the bugsters attacked awhile back! He was here too." She nods at Forte. "And you didn't answer my question..." About why the town needs to be ruled by music or something.
|Bercilak|| Bercilak is no stranger to the gross--or as he'd call it, the 'ugsom.' He is so thoroughly unbothered by the falling, burnt slime everywhere that it splatters all over his armor and even stains his mohawk while he celebrates the victory. "FUCK YEA! That was wholli fuckinge ille!" There's a wild gleam in his eye as he approaches Broly for a high five. He doesn't even know who Broly is, or if he knows what a high five is. But even if Broly is totally clueless, it doesn't rain on the Green Knight's parade.
Bercilak hustles over to Hibiki and W, his armor dematerializing. He's wearing a denim vest over a band shirt. 'OSTO' is visible across the front, and beneath it, a depiction of a trippy guitar, the bottom of which looks like the tractor beam of a UFO, the top of which contains a city skyline beneath a glass dome. The space biker (free of slime save his hair, thanks to ditching the armor) quickly wrangles both his new rider pal and Hibiki in green biceps, attempting, after a spirited 'bring it in' to lift them both atop his shoulders. "'TIS WHAT I AM VAUNTINGE ABOUTE! BAHAHA!"
Protest or squirming can get the both of them a ticket back down to earth. "Ah. God shit," he says, nodding, before making a determined, almost intimidating stride over to Cantio with red eyes as hard as iron.
Before he answers her question, he looms over her, axe resting haft-first in the ground, as if he were expecting her to suddenly atone for some grave misdeed... before he raises his free hand. It is easily capable of enveloping her head, and seems to be slowly doing just that... as he gently pats her head. Pat, pat.
"Wherefore dost thou not ofaxe -theim?-" His axe leans backwards. Towards the city. Yes, he noticed that she's going about asking these questions as if she's loathe to speak to the people herself.
|Shotaro Hidari||Shotaro goes into the air on top of Bercilak's shoulder. This is extremely surprising, and also very much personal space violating. He's Japanese after all, personal space violations are as close as touching the same carpet.
Though he weather's it with good humor. "Alright, there big guy," with a smile on his face. It's fine, after all, it's just the western way of things. Though he DOES hear the cool comment from Hibiki. Though he doesn't respond other than to tilt his hat to her.
Back to business.
"Well, from what I heard they seemed concerned about transforming women. Perhaps you can shed light on this? My transformation gave them a shock."
|Hibiki Tachibana|| Hibiki raises an eyebrow curiously at the explanation on what the situation with the town is. Having not been here last time, she's working solely off of what she learns this time. She had no idea this town was here? And they're not in contact with Cadenza at all? That's...a little strange. Does it have anything to do with how many Poochooze's attacked, or could that just be because they don't benefit from their protection?
Right before she gets hoisted in by Bercilak, letting out a surprised sound as those big strong muscles heft her tiny frame. "W-Whoa, Bercilak! Haha--it was really cool though. You and the big guy...you guys sure make one heck of a team. I'm gonna have to try that move myself sometime."
There's a small smile on her face as she says that, giving a look and a small nod of her head towards Shotaro if he had also consented into getting shoulder-sat. She politely hops off around the time he starts approaching Cantio, to be on her feet alongside the Green Knight to talk with her.
Where she gets the answer she was looking for.
Wait a second.
Hibiki glances between the knights, and then back to Cantio. She repeats this a second time before speaking up rather flatly, like she's trying to make sure she heard that right.
"...The /what/ defense force?"
|Staren||Staren ohs at Shotaro's observation, and adds, "I figured that's because the.. Drive Core Candidates are all women, and you transform, right?" She taps her chin. "Or is it something all Princesses can do? I REALLY don't know much about this world, I guess."|
|Team Breelai|| With the Giant Slime defeated, Broly takes a moment to scoop up some of the goop on his body with one of his fingers. He gives it a quick whiff, before scrunching his nose and flicking it away.
Bercilak approaches Broly again, speaking in his weird tongue yet again and raising his arm up high. He tilts his head again, trying to figure it out, before finally coming to a conclusion.
Reaching out with his own hand, he slaps the Green Knight's hand. Probably not as hard as he'd have liked though, infact, Broly's high five is more like a gentle bunt. But at the very least, the Knight Bro wasn't left hanging.
"It was very... Fuckinge ille, yes. Thank you."
Broly, despite just dropping the F bomb, gives a faint smile.
|Cantio||<<"R.. Right. Not here specifically because that'd be kind of... Um. Pointless to put it here?">> Cantio replies to Staren on the radio first, only sounding more confused about the music thing. "It... Doesn't? Music is my city's specialty, but people are free to pursue whatever careers they want to. Is that what they told you?"
She actually sounds rather troubled about that last part.
Turning to Bercilak, she stares at his shirt first before looking up as he towers right over her. The intimidation is pretty clear as she shrinks back momentarily, but finds her footing a few moments later and steadies herself. "B... Because this is the first time I've seen this place. And I'm hearing some concerning things about..." She glances towards the town briefly. "... A new town that just decided not to tell us anything about them being here? And something about not wanting to be 'ruled by music'?"
Thankfully, Shotaro's question gives her a moment to calm down a little. "Ah, right! Staren sort of has it there. The cities here are called Drives, their leaders called Drive Core Controllers, and their leaders-in-training-" she points at herself "-are called Drive Core Candidates. Controllers and Candidates can transform for increased combat effectiveness and a boost to our general abilities. These Drives are comprised of large territories that span large sections of our world, so most of the hospitable land falls under some Drive's domain for safety and ensuring everyone's safety with the System Resources we collect from... Er. It's easier to protect everyone this way."
"And coincidentally... Er. We're all women, yes! Huh." That actually seems to be a first time thought for her. "Weird coincidence."
That's something she'll have to think about later. She also snickers at Broly's mimicry of Bercilak, looking up and between the giants a few times. "Are you teaching him bad words already?"
Hibiki's confirmation question has Cantio freezing up for a moment. "... Bugster Defense Force. They're not as wild as they seemed at first, and they can be controlled. It was either that or just letting them... Languish forever, so I figured this would be the best way to do more good with them beyond data collection." She answers, not without some degree of tension evident between her and Hibiki.
|Staren|| Staren looks between the 'knights' and Cantio. Realization dawns! "Ohhhhh! They're not a force defending FROM Bugsters..."
Her ears splay and tail and hat droop as she nods to Cantio re: 'Is that what they told you'. "They want to be ruled by logic and math, yes. They didn't want me to tell 'the princess'. The way her eyes turn to Cantio as she emphasizes those words indicates that she at least believes Cantio to be the 'Princess' the villagers referred to.
She hasn't yet gotten to assuming EVERYTHING she knows about this situation was a misunderstanding and re-evaluating it all from that perspective, she's mid-conversation!
"They don't want trouble, although they seem to think that they can secede from Cadenza peacefully without any conflict or diplomacy, by just not telling anyone. I said, won't that be a problem when the tax collector shows up, but..." she shrugs. "I don't really understand how stuff works here."
|Shotaro Hidari||Still over one of Bercilak's shoulders, Shotaro makes a thoughtful gesture, thinking on something for a brief moment of time. There were some things that fit here, they seem afraid of what Cantio is, or those like her. The virus' attacked this place, which was 'odd' to her. With a pat of the big guy's arm, Shotaro jumps down and gracefully lands.
"It would be easier if you sent someone who could talk to the people in. If you want, I am willing to investigate. My prices as a detective are rather reasonable," he says, making a motion towards the city. "Otherwise things might get complicated, and the truth could escape us."
He tilts his hat again, dramatically, "But it will need to be by your wishes alone." That's not entirely true, but it's better to get paid for it.
|Bercilak|| "Per happes," says Bercilak to Cantio, when asked if he intended to teach Broly bad words. Truthfully, he hadn't. But it's funnier to imply uncertainty. The Bugster Defense Force are offered wordless fistbumps.
When Shotaro mentions needing someone who's good at talking in, Bercilak points at him, as if to say 'this is the guy you want.' Truthfully, he has no idea--he just knows that he himself, and Hibiki, are the last two picked on the Talking To People dodgeball team.
"Verily, Staren, it shalt be dificultuous for theim to hath the frenesse thei lest--al of us may awene differentli hau thei might ensese thire frenesse, but idelnesse shalt avail theim not." Running a hand through his mohawk out of habit--and then forgetting that it's all slimy and wiping his hand on his vest, he ponders the nearby 'Drive' with a ruminating grunt.
His red eyes shift between Cantio, back to the city, back to Cantio. "Stil... 'tis not for no reson that thei withele thire spekinge." He frowns. "Thei art mishopen of thire regimence. Swich is what thou fer, I trow?"
|Hibiki Tachibana|| "Bugsters..." There's a grimace on Hibiki's face as she listens and quietly repeats the word, her eyes going off to the side. It's not difficult to tell that right at that moment, her thoughts are going back to the events back in the hospital some time ago.
Her scarf really does do a poor job of hiding her conflicted expression. She'd closed back some of the distance she had with Cantio since then, or at least she felt like it, but now all of that stuff is not only knocking at her door but kicking it down and forcing its way in. "...I see. I guess that is better than just...letting them do that."
It's a bit hard to tell how much she actually believes that, especially with the way her hands tighten up at her sides like she's trying to stop herself from saying more, but she does at least slowly look back towards the other girl. "...The 'first members' means there's going to be more of them though...right? Don't tell me you're...?" She doesn't finish the question, though the implication has to hang in the air. Repurposing the ones she already has one hand is one thing, but...
|Cantio||"Right. They're a force of Bugsters for defending Cadenza." Cantio confirms for Staren, looking a little more in her element for at least a moment until that lingering tension between herself and Hibiki returns to the forefront. "Leaving them to just exist in holding forever was another possibility, but training them... Taming them felt more useful. There's only so much of Cadenza I can watch over, and our guards can only handle so much. But by turning the existing ones towards this..."
She pauses, then actually manages a smiel at Hibiki. "Don't worry. I haven't created any new ones since then. I don't plan on doing that again." She speaks genuinely, almost sounding relieved herself as she finally gets to just say that outright. "If I do, it'll just be with animals or something. Uh. If that even works, anyway."
The tension, however, doesn't quite end even after that as the conversation turns back towards the people of the town she apparently wasn't aware of until recently. "If they didn't want anyone from Cadenza to know about it, then... Uh."
She looks to her left, to her right, then just gestures at herself.
"I don't think they wanted trouble either, but to... Secede?" She sounds bewildered at that. "Why would they...? But we're still in Cadenza's terri... Y-yeah, no, you're not the only one that's having trouble with this." She pinches the bridge of her nose lightly, inhaling sharply and letting out an exhausted sigh despite doing nothing more than speaking and standing there.
"So there's a... I guess a new city? Nation? That's seceded from Cadenza silently while claiming this area for themselves even though the main city is right over there, and expecting... I don't know what they were expecting us to do once we found out?" Cantio looks towards the high-rises of Cadenza in the far, far distance over the treetops, then sighs. "Okay... At least I can't see my house from here?" She forces a laugh, then lets out another exhausted breath before nodding towards Shotaro.
"Please, if you could. Maybe not today, but... Um. Long enough to make them think that you're not there because I asked you to." Cantio manages another chuckle. "I need some time to figure out what my own options are, too. About all of this, the Viruses swarming over here..."
The Bugster knights seem confused at Bercilak's fistbumps at first. They recoil briefly at first when they see his fist nearby, but the silver knight on the green Poochooze-like thing is the first to mimic him before the red knight on the black mount does the same. They're still wary of him, but not so wary that they won't stop eating.
Bercilak's observation has Cantio frowning at first. "What? No, that's... Ehm. I mean, why else would they be here without saying a word to us?" She rubs her forehead again, still looking troubled about the whole ordeal. "Just going in there and telling them that everything's going to be okay is... Something my sister would be better at. I'll just need to reassure them some other way the next time I'm here." She glances back at the town, then turns to the Bugster soldiers and taps on her tablet to get their attention before starting to leave in the direction of Cadenza.
"Once I find out what they're worried about, I'll just have to prove them wrong about whatever their doubts are."
|Staren|| "To Be Honest they *were* expecting trouble once found out, I think, they were just hoping not to be found out." Staren's ears perk up a bit. "I'm glad it's not just me who this seems weird to. I dunno if this town is part of some sort of alliance or federation, it might just be on its own."
Staren hmms. "Maybe you could... go in in disguise and talk to them? Wait, is your *sister* the Princess they're afraid of finding out? Maybe they're less worried about you."
Once I find out what they're worried about, I'll just have to prove them wrong about whatever their doubts are.
Staren squints at Cantio and taps her own chin. "Hmmmmmmmm. That sounds like something /I/ would say, minutes before I also end up saying 'Whyyyy is everyone mad at me what did I do wrong, why won't anyone tell me?'" She puts mock agony on her face while gesturing with her hands, fingers curled towards the sky.
"I'm not saying it won't work when /you/ do it, but... I dunno. Just a heads-up, from my own experience?"