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Shadow <X-Concord-Chatter> 4 Dr. Eggman says, "Aha! Tell me, members of the Concord - how would you feel about seeing the results of a true genius firsthand?"
<X-Concord-Chatter> 4 Dr. Eggman says, "-not me, to be clear. My grandfather."
<X-Concord-Chatter> 4 Dr. Eggman says, "I managed to find a scrap of his diary in some of the data from Robotropolis, though I've no clue why it wound up there - perhaps an alternate-universe Gerald Robotnik had similar designs - and I decoded it, cross-referenced it with my own world, and managed to locate a secure G.U.N. blackbox facility."
<X-Concord-Chatter> 4 Dr. Eggman says, "Since my grandfather was working for G.U.N. before they murdered him, and since this facility appears only in my grandfather's notes and nowhere else, I suspect whatever is in there must be *extremely* important to the military."<X-Concord-Chatter> 4 Dr. Eggman says, "I'm going to go liberate it. Would anyone care to join me?"

And so it begins.

It began some minutes ago, really - the Concord's arrival at GUN blacksite 'Iron Gate', hidden away in an otherwise unremarkable mountain range. There's a security presence outside, in a tiny base, but only a light one - a few guards with mundane weapons that would be easily dispatched or incapacitated by the Concord elites on contact. It's suspiciously underweight for what is supposedly one of the Guardian Unit of Nation's highest security sites.

The reasoning becomes clear shortly after - the guards were just posted at the entrance. Iron Gate extends down far into the mountain itself - a long, deep slope heading downwards, armored with metal plating, barricaded by several security doors - including one very solid, very thick one right at the entrance, the titular Iron Gate of the Iron Gate base.

Since when has a mere door stopped Dr. Ivo Robotnik, though?
Eggman      The G.U.N. War Truck is an eighteen-wheeler. It has been tricked out with spikes on a highly-armored cowcatcher, heavy armor all over its body, and a number of weapons including but not limited to missile launchers and machine guns, as well as an armor-piercing tank turret. In theory it is G.U.N.'s answer to Doctor Ivo Robotnik's heavier vehicles: a machine that can just go headfirst into a swarm of robots and smash them all up while providing cover fire to G.U.N. forces.

     In theory.

     In practice, well...

     One of those very G.U.N. War Trucks has hit a very nonstandard velocity. This is in no small thanks to the giant rocket boosters that have been strapped, loosely, to the sides. The G.U.N. guards might have time to see the Egg Empire logo on the sides as they dive out of the way of the incoming vehicle. It does a little twist, remarkably precise, to avoid crashing into anyone - presumably Eggman's sensors are good enough to ensure that nobody gets killed in the process.

     And then the truck jacknifes. The rocket engine on one side explodes as it meets the Iron Gate. The truck bucks as the trailer lands with a loud thump through the broken door.

     The trailer opens.

     A classic Egg Pod, armed only with a giant wrecking ball dangling from the bottom, comes sweeping out of the vehicle. Eggman grabs a microphone.

     Tap, tap.

     "Attention, Guardian Unit of Nations. I am Doctor Ivo Robotnik, the greatest supervillain the world has ever known. Please - call me Dr. Eggman."

     The words echo over the base loudspeakers as his lips split into a grin. "And I have brought friends."

     "I have no demands. I'm going to smash this base to the ground and reclaim my grandfather's legacy. You can do whatever you like. Fight, or don't. Escape, or don't. Resistance, as they say, is futile."
Arcadia So Eggman wants to do this literal gatecrasher style. That is perfectly fine with Arcadia, she prefers the fast and direct methods herself. Though that doesn't mean she can't be devious about things when she really wants to be -- she is part cat after all.

So she is following the War Truck, tailgating practically, to use it's greater size and mass to conceal herself from view as they approach the base. It's the only reason she herself is not speeding ahead full throttle.

She also doesn't want to steal the thunder of Eggman's DRAMATIC ENTRANCE as is his right as a self proclaimed supervillain.

She doesn't stay in it's wake as it jackknifes though, being more than agile enough to swerve away and around of it while it takes out the massive gates, and speeds inside.

Eggman releases his Egg Pod, makes his grand proclimations and threats... and by the time he says 'I have brought friends' she's already into position near the pod, wings spread and magitech weapons ready. Really, someone not very aware of things might even mistake her for a creation of the doctor, being part robot and part animal. "Hello, I am one of afformentioned friends. And I bring an important message." Achems softly. The raises and slightly modulates her voice. "ALL YOUR BASE BELONG TO US."
Kukuru Somehow, Kukuru's found herself being an accessory to another one of Eggman's plots. This time, though, there's a personal element to it, and she's all for getting back at those that hurt not only her (extended) family, but their (actual) family as well. When the call is made to take back what's his, she arrives ready for a fight and to break down some walls and other things as needed.

That doesn't mean she can't make the truck somewhat more comfortable for her friends, though. Kukuru hands out snacks, drinks, and even those little wet napkins to make sure everyone's hands are clean before they might have to start getting them dirty later. She's also dressed in that slightly more fight-appropriate outfit with the shorts and the jacket rather than her (admittedly more comfortable) blouse and frilly dress combo.

"Now, everybody. Make sure you've got your seatbelts on, or you could get hurt." Kukuru warns, making a show of clicking her own into place. Safety first, after all.

"Trojan... Hoooorse. Okay!" She only has enough time to finish spelling it out on her phone before having to put that away as the operation begins. Her timing's actually pretty good, too, as she just holds onto her seat while trying very hard not to freak out over the explosions and crashing. She waits until it comes to a complete stop before finally unbuckling herself, and then she hurries right back out, relieved to no longer be in something that might explode with her in it.

Eggman issues his demands loud and clear, and Kukuru eventually steps out from behind the Egg Pod right when he mentions bringing friends. She points at her eyes, points at any guards or cameras that might still be functional, then heads right for the broken gate towards a less busted section of it.

And then she starts tearing out more chunks of it with her bare hands. Massive chunks, too, until she can just take a huge her-sized chunk of steel or even one of those security doors with her as some kind of makeshift shield/warning slab.
Darren      Something else emerges from the trailer. It's a man in athletic shorts and a blue jersey with 15 displayed on the back and shoulders. It names him as SPEARS. He would appear like any normal guy, were it not for the fact that his manner of leaving the truck is to levitate out and above it. Six blue-and-yellow pokeballs orbit him, like the rings of a planet.

     His emerald eyes scan over the place, "MOON! 16! HUT! HUUUT!" waiting for the right moment to strike. Kukuru's entrance and destruction of the gate is that moment. "HIKE!"

     Darren is off like a bullet, and so too are two pokeballs. Racing down to the ground, as a small ladybug with an aircraft early-warning system for a thorax and a little green-eyed alien emerge from their pokeballs, Darren telekinetically gathers the unevenly sized pieces of rubble that Kukuru didn't bother picking up, hurling them straight into the sky.

     Saucer is surrounded in an eerie purple mist, before the little ladybug grows to immense size, its large, circular shadow enveloping the truck as it transforms into what's essentially a giant UFO. A gravity differential causes the chunks of rubble to rain down oppressively, while Roswell further harries any remaining guards with psychic projections of swords that harass with lasers and warning swipes.

Ozhira     From the damaged cab of the G.U.N. War Truck, something glistening and crimson spills out. Whoever might have been driving is clearly very dead. Except-- they aren't dead. And they weren't driving. The Beast had simply insisted on seeing everything from the front-row seat, and has now left a hideous blood-colored stain across the cab's entire interior. A stain that pours out through the dislodged door and pools on the ground below.

    While Eggman and Arcadia and the others issue their threats and announce their presence; this puddle of red sludge shifts suddenly, casting up a pseudopod to cling to the bottom of the truck's door. A nightmarish mass of crimson ropes, meaty chunks, and teeth rises up from the pool.

    This soon expands and reorganizes itself into a humanoid shape, eventually producing colors and taking on the human disguise commonly adopted by the creature Ozhira. While Eggman speaks, the girl turns their red eyes ceiling-ward, then down and aside in either direction. Guards are being assaulted already-- rather than searching for doors, Ozhira's body emits a low-frequency rumble, echolocating for air shafts, elevators, or other ways out of the initial chamber that the creature can exploit.
Shadow The giant truck comes through, slamming through the big doors. The token force outside is more equipped to deal with inquisitive civilians, lost hikers, and stubborn goats - an entire rocket truck far beyond what they've done drills for.

They scatter, encouraged to get lost by Darren's flying saucer, but not before setting off the alarms. Kukuru's 'I see you' routine done at a security camera gets noted by someone on the other end of it, and the alert escalates a little bit, at least in theory. It's already at 'Alert Level Eggman', and there aren't levels above 'Eggman' on GUN's alert scale.

Kukuru starts breaking into the base - literally, tearing through the ruins of the gates, and the obstacles beyond.

And the obstacles beyond turn out to have teeth. Aside from having more barricades, GUN's prized flying turrets start streaming out from deep within the base, showering the party with lasers as they progress. It's a meat grinder of automated defenses, with frequent chokepoints and kill boxes - Ozhira can use the facility's ventilation system to get ahead and flank most of the mobile turrets from the other side, though the spaces are tight enough that none of the party can follow her.

More turrets, more doors...
Eggman      It's probably for the best that there aren't levels above 'Eggman' for G.U.N., honestly. Anything even more dangerous than Eggman - let's, for instance, suppose a dark god or something - was probably caused by Eggman anyway, so it all wraps into itself nicely. Very efficient. The chicken comes from the Eggman, and so on.

     Speaking of the Eggman himself, he's just flying about, his wrecking ball smashing into robots that get in his way. He's letting the Concord take the initiative here, at least at first. When the laser turrets come out, though, Eggman's moustache twitches downwards.


     How boring.

     The Egg Pod flies up and smashes into one of the laser turrets. He smashes into another. Then, another. With three of them down, the Egg Pod lowers itself, produces a grabby claw (it's always had one, don't worry), and gathers up the scrap. The Pod then moves to follow along behind Kukuru, Darren, and Arcadia as Eggman starts futzing with the bits of turret.

     "Artless," he complains loudly as he follows them, "The military-industrial complex simply doesn't understand good design. Look at these things."

     The pod takes a hit. It wobbles. Eggman almost drops the scrap he's messing with. "Ford's sakes!"

     He leans one arm over the side. "Be careful, you government goon! This is a classic! And you scratched the paint!"

     He rubs his chin as he watches the others. Darren's Pokemon in particular get him staring behind those glasses, moustache twitching. Then,

     Eggman drops the scrap on the ground.

     The scrap unfolds into what is *clearly* a robotic chicken.

     It stands up and clucks loudly like an actual chicken. It spreads its wings to reveal repurposed laser turrets.

     It lowers its head and goes barreling for the door blasting covering fire all over the place.

     Eggman sits back in his pod, content. "Art."
Arcadia The GUN troops are honestly some of the smartest militia mooks Arcadia has seen in a while. The sound the alarms and then run for the hills realizing this is a threat best left to their automated defenses. Speaking of which. Oooh, flying turrets. Which are shooting. Which Arcadia is dodging with her exceptional speed and agility, even in the restrictive underground quarters and hazards being brought to bear.

But instead of blazing guns Arcadia pulls out a long staff from her subdimensional pocket, pointing it forward as she activates it. The forward end splits open into a quad of panels that ratchet back out of the way of the projector revealed behind them. The projector has a lens crafted from megadiamond, one of the native materials of the Line that has weird anti-inertia effects. In this case by channeling her own energy through the device, it fires that effect into a beam that cripplingly robs the targets struck of their momentum.

Which she uses to zap several hovering turrets to render them immobile and no longer hovering, so they fall into the traps and hazards instead, to destroy both in the process.
Kukuru Stuff going into the sky abruptly isn't too concerning to Kukuru, and it even makes it easier for her to identify what she can actually snatch for later use. "Good thinking, Darren. Now... Oh, there it is. I can take this!"

And so, Kukuru brings a whole ass door with her. The timing is great, too, as it's roughly when the G.U.N. facilities' guns start firing on the group. She advances steadily with the door raised as a makeshift shield in one direction, taking particular care to keep an eye on Ozhira's smaller form. Getting blasted with lasers on the other side isn't particularly pleasant even with her healing abilities keeping her wounds from building up too quickly, though, and it's visibly agitating Kukuru the longer it goes.

"Maybe... They should hire a designer for their bases. Oh, we could leave some business cards!" She suggests at Eggman's complaints, then furrows her brow in deep thought. "Wait... No, that'd be kinda awkward. I mean, they... Your grandpa... Sorry."

She sounds genuinely sorry, too. Pained, too, as another laser hits her in the side and draws Kukuru's ire enough that she jams the door vertically into the ground, then disappears into one of her trademark purple energy effects signifying she's teleporting. As with almost all of her teleporting attacks, she appears behind a turret before smashing her fists into it with her stupid amounts of physical strength. She repeats this teleporting and smashing process to start neutralizing the defenses, only remembering to actually take her claws out after the fifth turret so she can keep her hands a little bit cleaner.

"Art's hard. The only stuff I know how to make is food, so... I think it's really neat that you can come up with stuff like that so fast!" She gestures at the robotic laser chicken before slinging a turret at another turret.
Ozhira     Echolocating themself a serviceable map of the surroundings, Ozhira's head jerks aside suddenly and they trot across the initial hanger, amidst all the chaos unfolding from various weapons and smashings. The Beast does not stop but rather springs and dives as one might into water-- except that Ozhira has just dove into a floor grate. Right through the grating, residue splatters around it, then schlorps in after the creature's main biomass has disappeared.

    And thus begins Ozhira's Adventure in which the Devourer seeks out power cables to sever; but not without contributing along the way. Reaching out of vents with a crimson-hued pseudopod to grab a turret in passing, tear it off the mounting, and drag it into the vents to be destroyed by gnashing teeth. That sort of business, as the Beast navigates a maze of narrow vents in a form that causes scarlet juices to spill out through grates it slithers past.

    Ozhira might also be searching out anything to tear apart to remove obstructions; ways to force open doors and the like.
Darren      Darren's shouts ring out above the din of battle. "GOOD HUSTLE! KEEP IT GOING!" Past the gate, joined by Eggman, he multitasks.

Stone. 40. Hut. Hike.

     With three down from the bad doctor, but more to go, the quarterback breaks into a sprint. Break right to keep a laser from striking one of his pokeballs, short stop and a juke to give another the slip rather than take a laser to the chest.

     A wave of crushing gravity rolls forth from Saucer, the giant bug UFO's tractor beam shining brightly as it sweeps over the swarm of turrets.

     "Word," he agrees solemnly with Eggman, as Saucer shrinks down and returns to his ball, replaced in that same moment with a haunted sarcophagus sporting four ghostly arms and a mischievous, fanged grin. Sharp, pointed stones coated in powerful corrosives line the ground and air in their wake, a veritable minefield for any turrets that weren't crushed by the tractor beam.

     "Seven billion in spending, and they can't give the Drip Department a little walking around money? That's ridiculous."

     Roswell, the little alien, beeps his approval at the flying laser chicken, the colorful lights on his hands flashing excitedly.

DOPE, he telepathically exclaims.

     Darren is apparently inspired by Robotnik's inspiration, opening up an app on a smartphone that hovers out from his pocket. Xes and Os are arranged on a virtual gridiron, with routes marked out. He taps 'SAVE' and puts the phone away.
Shadow The turret logic is fairly simple - they search for any moving targets that don't have a proper GUN signal, then they open fire on it. The challenge comes just from sheer numbers - each time the party turns a corner, there's more of them. Each time the party breaks through a security door, there's a flock of them waiting. Each time the party boards a slow-moving open-air elevator, there's a bunch that take pot-shots mid-transit.

Arcadia's anti-momentum device drops the elevator ambush group handily, in the literal sense. The turrets fall down, down further - there's no sound of them hitting the ground. The base is equipped with standard military issue bottomless pits, it seems. There *was* another group arrayed in ambush as they got off the elevator, but Ozhira took care of them in passing.

After that there's a bridge chokepoint with a wide-ranging group of turrets waiting - one that quickly thins out from Saucer's efforts, and Kukuru's repeated teleport strikes take care of the rest. All of them drop the shiny chaos drives

And then finally, at what has to be the bottom of the base, the alarms intensify. A series of doors slam shut right in the party's face - a final gauntlet of barricades, tightly sealing the chamber beyond with no ventilation. There's no tricks to be used here, just solid doors, and the party's out of rocket trucks.

They are not, however, out of laser chickens - it barrels through, smashing through door after door, Eggman's latest creation taking out the final obstacles in one glorious act of mutual destruction. Rest in peace, laser chicken.

... And beyond, a singular chamber. Whatever's here is what all of this was to protect.

There's a series of terminals, and an opaque, ovaloid stasis chamber connected to all of them. Something is sealed here. The machinery is bulky, and securely wired in - taking the pod all the way back up to the surface might not be an easy option.

Opening the pod would require a password, and multiple terminals activated simultaneously - a multi-person lockout, requiring the efforts of five people at once.
Eggman      "Oh I've no doubt it's much more than seven billion," Eggman says lazily, "The Guardian Unit of Nations is the worldwide military and law enforcement organization. Something like a shield around the planet."

     "The combined economic might of nearly every nation on the planet to defend them all from the great Eggman Empire. Almost insulting, isn't it? Well, I suppose they were founded to defend the planet from other problems - they have, after all, been around since before I was born."

     "It's not as if this world has any lack of dangers," Eggman wheels his finger, drawing a disc in the air as he leans on his shoulder, "My grandfather was instrumental in learning about the ancient troubles of the world and its various problems. I'm sure the G.U.N. dealt with all manner of troubles before I came along. I vaguely remember them being involved in my attack on Angel Island, actually - a sort of flying base of some sort. I doubt I dealt with them personally. That..."

     He looks around, as if ensuring that nothing can hear him. Then, with his voice dripping with hate, says, "hedgehog"

     "Was obviously a more pressing concern."

     His foot taps against the pod's floor.

     "Genius is something you're born with, and talent is something you sculpt," Eggman says proudly to Kukuru, "One part inspiration, one part aspiration, one part application, one part perspiration."

     "That's the recipe for a proper genius."

     They enter *the chamber*.

     Eggman settles his Egg Pod near one of the terminals. He starts typing. "Well, the rest of you get on a terminal. I'll coordinate from the pod."
Arcadia "I don't think they were planning on an entire group of invaders," is Arcadia's analysis of the course of events that follow. She eventually takes a few shots when they get to some turrets that are advanced enough to fire ahead of her movements instead of aim at her directly, but it's minimal damage at best. Especially with the sheer number of the dangers being taken out as a whole by the party. "These tactics would be most effectives at overwhelming one or two people."

Idly she picks up a few of the dropped chaos drives as they go, because you don't just leave loot lying around. Even if it's inferior mass produced loot as the not-so-good Doctor pointed out. Clearly they still have a use, if the chicken turret sacrificing itself gloriously to destroy the final barricade of bunker doors is any indication. Eggman can have them later if he wants, she's just doing her job.

"One is natural, one is crafted, and not everyone that has both can shape them together so effectively." Her tail flicks a few times as the group enters the final chamber, then zips up to one of the terminals as instructed. Ooh, buttons. But she has to refrain from punching anything until Eggman says so. "Again, design and tactics oriented towards stopping an individual or two rather than an entire raiding party."
Ozhira     Ozhira is nearby, having followed along in the ductwork all this time. The tell-tale sign of the Beast being that crimson residue oozing out of grates that the creature passes by. No doubt it's leaving the ventilation system a nasty mess just by moving through.

    In the final chamber, red ooze spills out from a ceiling grate, first a trickle and then a large scarlet lump. From this, the Devourer's humanoid guise rises and resolves; color coming in last. Splatters of red slink back in while they stand up, taking in the deep chamber's interior with their mouth slightly agape, pointed teeth on display.

    "...Containment," Ozhira says, finally, "This we recognize." A hand raises, pointing at the central tank, "We, too, were once contained like this. In a facility like this." The girl? trots right up to the containment vessel, staring into the opaque surface. Reaching out, she touches it with one palm, fingers spread out.

    Only then does Ozhira move past the tank to one of the terminals as Eggman instructs, putting some pep in their step, "If they cannot break free, then we will assist."
Kukuru More alarms. It's actually giving Kukuru a bit of a headache, and she diverts some of her attention to start smashing the sources of the noise by throwing all manner of stuff at them.

"Sounds like they do some important stuff, then... But if your grandpa was helping protect the world from stuff, too, why would they go after him?" She asks Eggman while proceeding deeper into the facility, still disappearing every now and then to take out an alarm. "I mean, they'd have to be on the same side if they both want the world to be safe, right? So..."

She lets out a troubled noise, then shakes her head. "Nnh. No, that's not always the case. Some people can be really weird about that kind of stuff, too, especially if there's too many of them."

Another sigh. Her mood does improve considerably, though, once Eggman speaks to her about genius and talent. "That's a neat way to think about it... I wasn't born smart, but I've got other stuff that smarter people like you and Darren can work with to make your jobs easier." She flexes an arm for emphasis. She doesn't really look like a body builder at all, which might make the freakish strength even more odd. "So! Don't be afraid to count on me to do the heavy lifting, okay?"

With her spirits raised, she joins Arcadia and Ozhira at the terminals. She even takes off her claws to make sure she doesn't accidentally break something. "Ready!"
Darren      The journey to the terminals is one that's frought with frequent swap-outs--but Darren is one of those trainers that fights with his pokemon, not behind them. For all the laser turrets attacked with storming blizzards, pierced with corrosive-laden spikes, or struck with psychic swords, just as many are shoulder-checked in midair or outright hit with superhuman haymakers from the former PFL pro.

     He's broken a sweat and sustained a few cuts and burns by the time he's down where the terminals are. "The look is boo-boo," Darren partially agrees with Eggman. "But they recognize the Robotnik game. You're a whole threat class, blood. The *top* threat class."

     The QB recalls the Ramesses and Roswell, sending out a ferocious yeti in their place. A glance between the yeti and Darren passes briefly, before the yeti nods, lifts both arms up, and envelops everyone in a colorful, shifting barrier reminiscent of the northern lights. It'll protect against sudden attacks from whatever responders or defenses the base might still have.

     "I'll get on 'em in a minute, Doctor. Need to make a playbook adjustment."

     Actually just Stonehenge emerges from one of the orbiting pokeballs, an animate stone arch with a confident smile. Digging into his drawstring backpack, Darren produces a well-loved CD (?), the faded cover art depicting an animated stone creature laughing gleefully before a field of explosions. 'TR138: EGG BOMBER,' reads the title. Slapping it into an oldschool portable player, Darren places the earbuds over Slabb and presses play. The pokemon's eyes light up with inspiration as the CD... spins so fast it literally evaporates.

     Waving the smoke away, Darren gives Eggman a thumbs up, and approaches the nearest terminal, awaiting instructions. Slabb, meanwhile, litters the entryway with floating, egg-shaped stones that carry a worrying glow visible in their cracks.
Shadow The terminals light up. The lead terminal needs a password, the others just need someone on deck to dismiss the half dozen warning messages that pop up and then confirm that they're cracking open the pod that absolutely shouldn't ever be cracked open, are you sure, are you positive, you did read the warnings, right?...

The stasis pod raises up a bit, part of the process of the physical locks on it releasing. There's a *whoosh* of compressed air escaping as the pod's doors unseal, and then slowly open.

And then slowly, a gloved hand reaches out, grabbing onto the side of the pod, steadyhing the occupant as he stands up.

For a brief moment, the shilouette is... suspiciously familiar. Enragingly familiar, to one specific person. But the color is off, the details are off.

The pod's occupant, a black hedgehog, stands up, and looks around the room, eyes meeting each member of the Concord (and their pokemon) in turn, and then looking over the rest of the room, before returning his attention to them.

"My name... is Shadow. I am the ultimate lifeform," he says. "And since you were so kind as to release me..."

"... Before I have my revenge, I shall grant each of you one wish."
Eggman      "That's a story for another time," Eggman says to Kukuru as the pod begins to hiss. And then...

     A hedgehog.

     But not *that* hedgehog. No, no. This is a much more...interesting...turn of events. Eggman strokes his moustache as Shadow makes his grand proclamation.

     "A wish, eh."

     Eggman folds his arms behind his back. "I think you'd rather I grant your wish."

     "I am Doctor Ivo Robotnik, grandson of Gerald Robotnik. I found you here thanks to his notes. They tried to bury you away from your place in the sun, just as they buried my grandfather...and my cousin, Maria."

     Eggman's glasses gleam. "Join me, Shadow the Hedgehog, and take your rightful place in this world. G.U.N. feared you enough to lock you away. You, the ultimate life form, deserve much better than that."

     He spreads his arms. "So come and join me, and our Concord, and show the world your power!"
Kukuru "Later, then~" Kukuru nods at Eggman, seeming satisfied with leaving that matter alone for now. Her attention is on the weird pod, anyway, and getting it open through the power of TEAMWORK and pressing buttons on a thing. She doesn't know shit about cracking security systems, but she knows how to follow directions well enough, and when that pod opens...

Kukuru's just gawking at the strange creature coming out of it at first. She's not quite sure how to react at first, but when he introduces himself, she's quick to wave at Shadow and smile warmly at him. "He-llo, Shadow. My name's Kukuru. Ku-ku-ru. Are you hungry? Or..."

She's already digging around in her pockets, completely forgetting about his offer of a wish in favor of pulling out a container of lukewarm meatballs with sauteed broccoli and a thermos filled with milk tea and slightly too-squishy tapioca bubbles. "Thirsty? Here, here. How long have you been in there?"

She practically shoves those things at Shadow's gloved hands, only then noticing that he's only wearing gloves (and possibly shoes). "Oh! Aaand..." She rummages in her pockets while letting Eggman handle the recruitment offer, and she retrieves a sweater (handmade, with the Concord's logo tastefully stitched onto the back) and sweatpants (storebought, with the Concord's logo garishly slapped onto the side) shortly afterwards. "It might be a little chilly to go out without these."
Arcadia Arcadia cancels a warning. Cancels another warning. Cancels another warning yes she's sure stop asking. "This terminal is worse than the pop-up ads in a mobile game!", she laments to no one in particular. Finally it gets to confirmation of opening the Mysterious Pod, to which she slaps the final control with so much gusto it would of broke a less resiliant keyboard. "Yes, finally!" Actually hits the button a few more times for good measure.

Patience is not her strong suit.

Eventually everyone gets to that point, and the pod emits the hissing of activating. Opening. The sphinx watches... then zips over to the other side... then back to where she was as that was a better angle.

Staying still is not her strong suit either.

Until the occupant is finally emerging... Ultimate Lifeform? What's that suppose to mean? And why would an ultimate lifeform look like a spiny rodent, no offense to the great Gerald Robotnik, but it's definitely an odd choice. Or at least it seems so to someone created in the image of a mythological and divine entity.

She starts to say something about the wishes being offered from a dark and edgy looking entity with a dark and edgy but very cool name to go with the appearance, but Eggman steps in to do his thing as the great evil genius he is and make his play to convince this so-called Ultimate Lifeform to join them before she can finish composing the comment. So instead she just jumps in on that topic. "Oooh, yes! Good point, Doctor. He must be able to do something extremely phenomenal to be called the Ultimate Lifeform but be locked away like they were scared of him. But we'd much rather utilize him and his capability, whatever it may be. And revenge is certainly on the table," she gestures vagely with her hands "We enjoy smiting people that think they can spite and snub us because we're obviously better than them."
Darren Warnings are clicked through, dismissed. Keyturns granted. At the end of it all, the ultimate lifeform makes his appearance.

     *Each of us gets one wish. I know somebody's gonna say 'sign up.'*

     Darren grins at Eggman. "Didn't even need Future Sight for that one," he says, backing away from the terminal.

     "Darren Spears," he says, introducing himself with a palm over his lightly damaged jersey. "This is my team," he says, pointing up at the pokeballs that slowly orbit him. "Those two are Slabb and Harry. Former PFL pro, but I'm searching for higher peaks, you feel me? I'm after that good good. That Truth. It's out there, and I'mma find it--'cause I think it's the key to being the ultimate version of me." His green eyes burn with determination. "I'm closer than most humans on my world will ever get. My body exceeds the limits of the average human by miles; my mind..." He chuckles, pointing to the orbiting pokeballs. "You see it. And every day, I put in that work to cultivate my *spirit,* too."

     Darren takes a deep breath. "We don't become stronger, locked away by ourselves," continues the enlightened scientist, resting a hand on the yeti's shoulder, maintaining eye contact with shadow. "Ask any of my team, and they'll show you how much stronger they've gotten, working together. They've made me stronger, too." he says proudly, patting Harry to the sound of an assenting growl.

     "My wish is this. You be the best ultimate lifeform you can be, no less. Give me a push when I need it, and I'll do the same thing for you. If that sounds simple, it's not." Darren rolls up his sleeve, and flexes. An impressive bicep displays. "Being the best is about more than this." Lowering his arm, "It's harmony in mind, body and spirit--that's what makes you strong."

     "Can you grant that wish, Shadow?" he asks, his brow furrowed as an intense, challenging frown appears on his face. "You got what it takes to be my rival?"
Ozhira     Ozhira does as instructed, though a low growl starts to escape, escalating in volume with each warning message that must be dismissed. The noise promptly cuts off when there are no more alerts to fuss with, red eyes blinking slowly. They turn, staring over their shoulder as the pod finally opens and its occupant emerges.

    Eggman is on the conversation. Arcadia is on the schmoozing. Kukuru is on the mothering. Darren is on the friending. Ozhira to their credit doesn't do more than perhaps invade Shadow's personal space in silent curiosity. They circle him at a few paces' distance, doing their best to not seem like a predator and likely not succeeding.

    Eventually the Beast stops, tucking their hands together in front, "We are Ozhira. We, too, came from a laboratory's containment vessel. And yet you are very different from us." Hands raising to either side, the Beast awkwardly, simply says, "We welcome you."

    And Ozhira is on the ... science monster camaraderie?
Shadow Kukuru gets to Shadow first. He disregards her asking if he's hungry - but when the thermos and the container are pressed into his hands, followed by the clothing, he takes them all. "Tribute, for my return, I see," he says, slightly misunderstanding what her intention is. "Acceptable."

He opens the thermos and sips at it. "... A fitting level of quality, for the ultimate lifeform," he says to her, which is probably a compliment.

Then to Darren. "That is... a foolish wish," he says, looking Darren and his crew over. "You may be pushing yourself past your mortal limits, but that does not mean you have reached a level comparable to myself. *Matching* my level may as well be a dream, and attempting it may turn that dream to a nightmare."

"... But if that is your wish regardless, I accept it. Just speak up loudly when you are ready to call it quits, I might not hear you from how far ahead of you I am."

Ozhira circles. Shadow's head turns slightly at first, and then he keeps still for the rest of the circling. This is a show of dominance.

"Ozhira. Very well, then. The differences are likely due to your laboratory being inferior to mine. Your welcome is accepted."

And then finally Eggman. There's a glint in his eyes when Gerald is mentioned, and a purposeful poker face at Maria being brought up. "Whatever you think your 'Concord' can offer that I cannot obtain on my own..."

"... Remains to be seen."

Shadow, thermos still in one hand with Kukuru's other gifts held under the other arm, hops effortlessly off of the side of the stasis pod, landing neatly on the ground. "But if it is your wish that I join and help, very well. You have it."
Arcadia Arcadia tilts her head to one side as Shadow accepts the 'gifts', the welcomes, and Eggman's proposition to join the faction. While maintaining that 'greater than you' attitude. Okay so Ultimate Lifeform is clearly more than a cool ominous title, because that's precisely how an ultimate being would be expected to act.

The sphinx clasps her hands together, tail swaying a few times. "Your uncle certainly did an exceptional piece of work, Doctor. I'd say this liberation is a success." It may not be relevant to them directly by the scholars back home will be happy to hear of this reclaimation of scientific genius given form and purpose.

Pause. Tilts her head the other way.

"... Is this were we blow up the base as we leave now?"
Eggman      "Yes," Eggman says, "It is in fact where we blow up the base as we leave."
Kukuru Calling it 'tribute' has Kukuru giggling briefly. It's not the first time she's met someone with that kind of inclination, and it certainly won't be the last, so she takes it in stride easily. "Right, right. It's good to have you in our family, then!" She chimes in cheerfully, clapping her hands together for emphasis before getting her oversized claws back on. "Now, let's..."

She pauses, then turns to Eggman. "Do you think the truck still works? Or are we gonna have to find a new one while we're breaking everything else?" She asks, thinking for a few moments before looking towards Darren and Arcadia. "Oh! Um. Do either of you have rides? Or..."

She knows better than to ask Ozhira the same thing. Kukuru's fairly certain she doesn't know how to drive, anyway.

"Oh, if we're breaking stuff, keep an eye out for anything valuable. We might be able to get a little bonus if we bring something good back."
Darren      Darren laughs, hands in his pocket. "Yeah," he says, nodding at Shadow. "You got what it takes alright." Challenge accepted.

     Turning to Eggman, Darren nods. "Watch out for those," he says, eyes flicking towards the bombs with which Slabb mined the adjoining hallway. But it's not that he's worried Eggman himself would run into them. Far from it-- "Don't wanna dirty up your big finish." Darren grins. He just doesn't want any going off prematurely.

     Slabb and Harry both return to their pokeballs. Darren himself lifts into the air, arms held out as his sides, eyes closed. A focusing breath. When his eyes open again, they gleam with some otherworldly awareness.

     Space folds--Darren winks out like an old TV powering down, appearing on the other side of his minefield to make his exit via flight. "If the truck don't work," he calls back, "The meter's still running on my RV!"
Ozhira     "We welcome you to our chorus," Ozhira states with a faint musical lilt in the tone. They seem happy about it, at least. Eggman brings up destroying the facility, though, and the girl glances back towards him. After a moment, their eyes wander ceiling-ward and a hand lifts to touch at their chin, "It will be a novel experience for us. To leave before the explosion happens. Rather than. Having to outrun the explosion."

    Their movement is a little stiff at first, it takes a few paces before Ozhira's unnaturally jerky, jointless movement settles into something more believably fluid and human-like. Shadow's comment about 'her' lab don't hit anything particularly sensitive, though. It just rolls off while Ozhira turns towards the containment room's exit.

    As the group departs, each time Ozhira wanders past one of the vents they had sullied, they pause to collect the material left behind. Though all they seem to do is stick it in the pocket of their blazer despite the fact that there's nothing in that pocket each time they do it.
Arcadia The confirmation is all Arcadia needs. She spins on a heel and starts... then stops for a moment as Darren reminds the group about his defensive booby trapping. "Oh, yeah, almost forgot that." Then restarts, taking off to avoid the egg bombs.

And make use of her own explosive projectiles, alternating between her fire clusterbombs and rolling thunderballs to maximize to demolish anything she can on the way back up. Which is pretty much what she does anyways, being made for high speed output of firepower.

They found the 'treasure' locked away within, looting anything else is meaningless at this point.