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|Chains Knight||Chains Knight has been offline for two weeks.
His entire world has been not only offline, but just... not there, for two whole weeks, as well.
Previously, there'd been a disaster, and then the whole world vanished, leaving behind a featureless plain, empty except for nature and warpgates.
Two weeks later, today, the world's reappeared. Except - not entirely the same.
First of which being the obvious: for being gassed and bombed and invaded, the world's looking surprisingly intact again! There's people, handing out quests with bright yellow ? markers over their heads. There's a road leading out west to the tutorial area, and another leading north towards the main part of the game. And there's still the welcoming air of a 'first town' - an aura of easy adventuring, quick (if not spectacular) loot, and not-too-dense lore drops.
Everything else, though... the 'RPG' part of 'RPG starting town' is gone. There's no fantasy aesthetic here anymore, it's all various shades of modern. And the dense roads and alleyways have been replaced with wide streets, the sort more appropriate for cars.
And there's a lot of cars. There's a constant hum of motors, both nearby idling and roaring off in the distance, along with the occasional screech of tires from someone braking too hard.
Where the weapon shop stood is now a store advertising 'Parts', and the item shop has been replaced with 'Upgrades', while the inns have been replaced with 2-in-1 motels and mechanic garages. The old woman that typically gives out a quest for retrieving her purse from a rat is now standing nearby what looks suspiciously like a beginner's drag race course.
Most immediately, in a ring around the warpgate plaza, there's land vehicles of all types - consumer-grade cars and motorcycles most prominently, with a souped-up go-kart and a few other options to round out the choices. Next to each vehicle in the ring is a rack of keys, each rack labeled 'Free Starting Vehicle'.
|Cantio||For someone who's clearly not a denizen of a game-y world, Cantio sure looks like she would belong in a typical fantasy RPG between the brightly colored anime hair, the bright and impractical anime getup, and the quiet tones of ambient town music following her as she gets her head into exploring the world of one of her missing allies.
The ambient music following her stops, though, when she pulls the drone floating behind her out of the air to turn the sound down so that she's not breaking the overall vibe of the far more modern-looking place than she had expected. The floating ? markers get her attention easily enough, but the discrepancy between those and all the vehicles clogging the streets have her staring a bit to try and get her bearings straight.
The big pile of vehicles with so many key rings, too, gets her attention, as she approaches the old lady to greet her with a friendly smile and a quick gesture around them at the ring of vehicles. "Hi there! Where... Is this? Is there something going on around here? It looks..."
She sees the Free Starting Vehicle signage, and the gears are already turning in her head. "... Is there some kind of event going on?"
|Bowser||"ALL HAIL BOWSERLAND MINI!"
"ALL HAIL BOWSERLAND MINI!"
A MODERATE sized air-ship makes its way through the warpgate, driven by propellers and its own deep bassy theme music. The Bowser Head pierces the gate first, like an extremely macho battering ram, and minions are waving their arms about, holding banners, as they are supposed to. "ALL HAIL BOWSERLAND MINI!"
The last two weeks has been a rush of work. Setting up a 'Fortress' in an area is second nature to Bowser's lackeys, and indeed, they have set up a fine stone tower with a small area surrounding it. There are no resources to harvest or people to conquer, so the minions have been enjoying time here as relaxation, and it has become a bit of a lazy station to be assigned.
Most of the chill things have been removed, signs of parties have been cleaned up, games put away, not because Bowser would resent them, but because Bowser would be mad he wasn't invited.
Bowser finally crosses the threshold of the world and looks to one side at his FORTRESS.
His fortress that now has several roads going around AND through it, complete with obstacles and flame throwers and cars outside of it.
The minions on the barge go silent.
Bowser stares at the fortress, grabbing a nearby koopa around the neck. He continues to stare, instead hauling the Koopa into his line of sight. "Did you... do this?"
Several others behind Bowser wave various limbs and nod and shake their heads interchangably.
Bowser sets the Koopa down slowly, then makes his way over to the edge of the airship as it weighs anchor a little out of the gate in the neutral parking zone.
"BOWSERLAND MINI IS THE BEST!" Bowser throws his arms up, "GET THE KART!"
|Xion||Xion had accepted a mysterious golden card and gained a magic chain from the mysterious Knight that had 'hired' her to be a wandering threat to people by appearing and engaging in (padded, black out and return to last Inn kinds of) Random Acts Of Dark Rider'ing, Xion Everywhere, and Ferocious Objective Encounters (or - F.O.E.) over highly traffic'ed areas.
It was a pretty sweet gig, for a weekend off from her rolodex of part time and volunteer work. Swinging by after had found. . . nothing.
Now, things had returned to a new kind of normal, and the bright eyed noirette beheld...
"Oh this is a huge downgrade in walkability for the city." Xion laments, as a WHOLE Bowserhead flying fortresss flies in and does not meaningfully further congest the complete disaster that is...
Xion, in a black tank top, pants, boots, and belt with silver clasp, stares at the walls of keys. "Free, huh? I wonder if he'll be Bike Chains Knight, or maybe Trains Knight this time." She considers, already reaching for a set of motorcycle keys.
Her smile at Cantio is interrupted as LARGER, MORE KOOPA-IER soundtracks play over her soundtrack which is playing over the ambient. Her only slight gaze pan takes in the enormous spiked turtle dragon man going hard in on the Karts.
"Oh. Are they better than... other things?"
|Timespace Riders|| Two college-age guys are pondering the modernized Startsville. One of them, in rolled khakis, matching low-cut boots and a too-large canary-yellow short sleeve button-up, speaks up first. "Everything's... different," notes Sougo Tokiwa, frowning with equal parts interest and concern. "Is this Arnold's vision of a perfect Startsville?"
"So it would seem, my Demon King," says the retainer Woz. Pursing his lips, he turns to Cantio. "Welcome to Startsville, dear Cantio. As you can see, esteemed King Bowser's retinue have made some alterations. Those aside, this place was not always as it is now--the work of an interloper by the name of Arnold Ray."
Both Woz and Sougo join Cantio near the 'Free Starting Vehicles,' and each of them naturally goes for a motorcycle.
"Hey, Woz..." Sougo ponderously asks, index touching his lip. "Do you know how to ride one of these?"
|Chains Knight||On Cantio's approach, the old lady stands up straight, or relativley straight in old lady terms.
"Welcome to Reshuffled, the premier racing MMO! Grab your friends, grab your keys, grab the wheel, and grab victory!" It sounds like a well rehearsed motto.
"There's no events going on currently, but we always have free vehicles for those wanting to hit the starting line. Speaking of:" Then her tone shifts from 'welcoming' to 'quest dialogue'. "A rat stole my purse and ran down this road! I need someone quick to chase after it, but be careful because if your wheels burn out, you'll startle it and it'll get away!"
Learn how to Drag Race gets added to Cantio's quest log.
Xion and the two riders get motorcycle keys. As soon as their motorcycles are moved from their initial spots, new cycles pop into existence to replace them.
The motorcycles behave like normal consumer-grade street-legal motorcycles, although the clickers on the key rings have 'SUMMON', 'DISMISS', and 'RIDE' buttons instead of normal things like lock/unlock. 'SUMMON' teleports the vehicle next to them, 'DISMISS' causes it to despawn, and 'RIDE' teleports it in (if it isn't nearby already), turns it on, and teleports the keyholder into the driver's seat all in one action.
|Bowser||THE AIRSHIP RUNS ON LAVA, IT IS CARBON NEUTRAL.
A platform lowers from the airship, and a muscle car is on that platform. A base green muscle car with solid yellow flames and the Bowser insignia on either door. The kind of muscle car that has SO MUCH ENGINE, it is BURSTING FROM THE HOOD. The kind of car that needs SIX EXHAUST PIPES. And CUSTOM LEATHER INTERIOR.
The car is not carbon neutral.
"Oh, I'm going to get that rat."
"NONE OF YOU OTHER SCHMOES ARE GONNA GET THAT RAT!" Having completely forgotten about Chains Knight, Bowser revs the car, letting the engine rumble. Flames shoot out of either side of the exhaust. Then Bowser slams on the gas, and the Flame Flyer rips out from underneath the airship, bursting out of the beginner ring, rushing down the street.
|Cantio||"At least a train or something would help, right?" Cantio comments to Xion as she takes note of her and the Riders' attire, then looks down at her own default state of white and purple. "If this place isn't so good for walking, though, then... I'll need a second."
It really does take a second, too, as Cantio is promptly replaced by a Cantio that's just sleeping, complete with confused grunt when she lands flat on her back for the second that she's even there. Before the clone can wake up fully, she's already switched again with the original, but in a leather jacket and shorts combo with high motorcycle boots to look a little more racer-appropriate!
"Bike Chains or Trains... Oh, these are both really good. She still hasn't decided if she likes Bike Chains or Trains Knight more. Regardless, she raises an eyebrow at Woz when he mentions Bowser's modifications, and she looks over slowly to try and get a better idea of what he means.
"Bowserl...? Ah." It does't take too long to get it. She blinks slowly as the shadow of the airship looms from overhead, peering upwards at it as it comes through the warpgate with so many minions and that blaring music. She unzips part of her attache case, reaches her hand deep in, and takes out a tablet.
She's taking notes on this. The old lady doesn't get much note taking in comparison, but Cantio does furrow her brow when a rat is mentioned. "And we're supposed to chase it by... Car?"
She looks over at the selection, shrugs, then goes to snag herself... Also a motorcycle! Except she instinctively climbs into the sidecar first, and it takes a bit for her to realize that she should probably get into the actual driver's seat to figure out how all this stuff actually works.
The sidecar also doubles as a convenient place to put her stuff case in.
|Xion||Xion has an extremely witty joke to make, readied when Bowser chooses a Kart to race. She imagines it:
In that possible, desired world, when the Koopa King seizes up the keys to his starter kart. Between Woz and Sougo picking motorcycles, the last minute swerve towards another king wouldn't just be funny - it'd be topical! And fun! And Bowser was good at kart racing - Xion knew this.
Then Bowser deploys his own custom muscle car and tears off after the rat.
Xion's look of all-consuming Extreme Neutrality on the topic overwhelms all other expressions. Flat faced, she reaches past the Riders to grab a set of keys to a red motorcycle, settles astride the free vehicle, and diligently pulls on a pair of black gloves over her hands.
"I'm going to take his power. Don't get in my way, Riders. I'll leave the rat to you."
She revs the engine of her motorcycle and screams off after Bowser, not waiting for the others.
|Timespace Riders|| "Wow," says Sougo, doing Bike completely Wrong, awkwardly trying to push down on the accelerator without having turned the key. "Bowser is really dedicated to helping Chains!"
Woz makes a put-upon sigh. He does at least manage a look down his nose at Xion. Holding a futuristic, square-faced pocketwatch in his hand, he smiles smugly, revealing the silhouette of Bowser's grinning visage upon it. "I think you mean 'don't get too far ahead,' for that is a power which I already possess. Savor the taste of my dust.~"
Woz peels out and hits a curb, nearly flying off the motorcycle.
"Uwoh!! I didn't know you could do tricks, Woz!"
Unable to conceal the burning flush on his cheeks, Woz does not bother trying to hide his embarrassed scowl as he re-situates on the motorcycle.
The both of them are going to need all the tutorializing they can get to reach that rat.
|Chains Knight||Bowser takes off in a vehicle that is absolute overkill for the 'Don't just slam your foot on the gas you newbie idiot' tutorial. Xion follows.
The rat is at the end of a straight section that fortunately does not dead-end into a wall or building, but instead empties out into a circuitous course with wide roads and various newbie-friendly ramps and shortcuts - into which the rat, spooked at all of the overkill heading its way, takes off through.
Chase down the rat gets updated on the quest tracker.
"Ah... let me get someone in to give you all a few pointers," says the quest-giving old lady kindly, and waves across the plaza.
"Ah - new players," says the new figure, hurrying over. "Welcome. Let's see, have you ridden motorcycles before-"
He's wearing a face-obscuring bike helmet, a CHAIN-TEAM-RACING branded jacket, and has a bike chain on a holster on his hip. "... Cantio? Sougo? Woz?" says Chains Racer.
|Cantio||With Bowser and Xion taking the lead by far, Cantio seems a little less concerned about chasing the rate and more with Woz doing a sick peelout onto a curb. "We're in your care, then!" She calls out to him reassuringly, hiding a giggle while joining Sougo in figuring out how to Bike good. She's not doing a great job of it, though, largely due to getting distracted in seeing how far she can crank each thing thing she doesn't quite understand just yet.
Thankfully, the old lady calls for an assist, and a familiar voice greets them! Cantio sounds as surprised as she looks, pausing in mid-crank to peer at him from behind the helmet. The voice is familiar enough for her to guess-
"... Chains? Oh, we were looking for you! I thought you were..." She pauses again, then coughs lightly into her hand. "... Didn't really know what could have happened, actually. Um. But are you okay? You look really different this time around."
She looks him over once, then gestures around the tutorial area once before taking a moment to tie her hair back for safety, too. "Did things change here, too? I thought your aesthetic was more... Fantasy RPG-y."
|Bowser||The Flame Flyer is not the first across the line. The rat gets a headstart as the car takes time to build up speed. It isn't a drag racer. But as the mighty engine roars to life, it starts to pick up speed. Bowser slams his foot on the brake, yanking the wheel around in a circle. Xion gets a quick look at his sneering smirk. A quick slam of his foot on the clutch, then onto the gas.
The Flame Flyer spins in a rapid circle as it disappears under a shortcut in a tavern, sliding through a tight window in the basement. On the other side, the Flame Flyer appears, driving backwards at full speed. Fuzzy Fuzzies swings from the rear view mirror as Bowser draws a bead on the rat. "If you aren't going to give me power ups..." Bowser pops the glove box and catches a Bomb-omb. He lobs one out at the road, trying to catch the rat!
|Timespace Riders|| "Hm... that voice sounds familiar... No, I'm sure of it, even if the outfit is a little different!" Sougo stops disgracing the long and storied history of motorcycle racing, instead ungracefully dismounting to run over to Chains Racer and wrap him up in a hug. "I'm so glad you're okay. What happened?" he asks, letting go and stepping back.
Woz clears his throat. For some reason, he looks a little annoyed. He, too, dismounts, and approaches in his usual, grandiose, arms-out way. "You were gone for nearly two weeks, following the attack on Startsville. Appearances would suggest that you, too, were altered." Looking Chains Racer up and down, and letting his arms fall to his sides, "Indeed, he was formerly more knightly, dear Cantio, until the assault on Startsville. Such a brazen attack on Concord interests cannot be allowed to stand. What do you remember, Chains?"
"Also," Sougo quietly adds with a small smile, "We wouldn't mind learning how to ride these. That looks like fun," he says, gesturing to the Bowser-Xion hijinx at the circuit a ways off.
"My Demon King," chides Woz, imperiously frowning, chin upturned, "We are not here to have 'fun.'"
Sougo gives him a pleading smile, sparking a battle of wills. Eventually the tides turn in the Demon King's favor, his retainer turning away with a defeated, annoyed huff. Sougo takes Woz's free hand into both of his own. "Let's learn together, Woz!"
|Xion||Entirely skipping all kinds of tutorials is not an exceptionally great idea for Xion. She isn't an ace driver or God's gift to stick shift -- but she can hear the languge of combustion engines and the roar of purpose that screams from her mount when she revs the handle and opens the throttle up. It's a tutorial on not burning out your tires! That means the most appropriate power is--
... Defensive driving. Xion doesn't have that power - Mashin Chaser does. Xion, a powerful telepath, just gets all of Woz's stank and little of the satisfaction of him eating it - just the certainty that he was Future Fronting.
"Hey!" She calls, quickly catching up with her accelleration to the Koopa King. "If we work together-!" She begins, and gets a smirk and a sick peel out for her trouble. Snorting, Xion sees back fenders and untaken paths and splits from Bowser, taking a series of ramps to get air over the light obstacles. "Power ups? In a contest of speed - I won't lose, because between us:" She produces a gold medallion with a white and red racing helmet on the face. "It's a Dead Heat!"
The medallion shifts into a small toy motorcycle and sidecar that Xion collapses with a close of her hand, slotting it into the fuel cap of her mount. Annoying jingles and badly mixed spanish guitar starts up.
SIGNAL BIKE//SHIFT CAR
RIDER! -- DEAD HEAT
A flare of heat and weight flares out from her red motorcycle and becomes a sourceless Drift Haze behind her, speeding up behind Bowser as he throws Bob-oms.
"BOMBS, seriously??? Do you want to win, or just trash the place?"
|Chains Knight||"I'm fine..."
"... It happens. Things alter around here. It was more 'fantasy RPG' as you say, and now..."
"... Well, now Reshuffled is a racing game."
He pauses. "I still have my old armor and helmet, and it's not as if 'Chains Knight' is a name forbidden for me to use now, if you're worried about too many things changing at once?" he suggests to Cantio.
He nods to Woz. "Yes - everything disappeared while Trigger was attacking Startsville. We lost access to the warpgates, and couldn't reach anyone outside of our world on the radio. A few hours later, the entire world changed to..."
He gestures widely. "Racing. It's hard to predict what we'll get, this time it turned out to be racing. Personally I think there are much worse genres, the post-apocalyptic cycle was unpleasant to live through, and the farming sim cycle was far too slow paced, for example."
"And then the warpgates started working again this morning, and people started coming through again... though my radio doesn't seem to work."
He holds the earpiece out. "I've been trying to get in contact on the Concord and Banter channels all day. Nobody's been responding."
|Chains Knight||*SQUEAK!* goes the purse carrying rat as the bomb lands right next to it.
BOOM goes the bomb.
This has a couple of practical effects: the most notable is that there is now a large hole in the road right in front of Bowser and Xion.
Secondly that the rat is vaporized. Chase down the rat is replaced with Collect and return the purse.
Thirdly - the purse itself gets blasted clear. By some feat of game design it's still intact, and now halfway across the circuit, resting at the top of a ramp.
Can Bowser and Dead Heat Xion avoid falling into the sudden course hazard, and who will get to the purse first...?
|Cantio||"So that's what happened... Ah. Sorry I wasn't around for that." Cantio gives Chains an apologetic smile at that, then nods when Sougo mentions learning how to ride. She turns away when she sees Sougo's will clashing against Woz's, and it's only by focusing on Chains that she can avoid bursting into laughter outright.
Also, hearing explosions int he distance. She's just going to not look at where Xion and Bowser went off to while she's still hearing those.
"It's not so much the change as it's the..." She furrows her brow to consider her words, then lets out a relieved sigh after a few more moments. "I'm just glad you're okay. Having to go through that much stuff really sounds rough." Another apologetic look, and then Cantio eyes Chains' earpiece.
With his permission, she'll take it, replace any busted parts with assorted junk she's got in her case, and tune it to the right channels so Chains can finally get back to where he left off. A little more time, and she can even add some extra music (piracy) functions to it!
"Now that you're back with us, though... What's the plan? Have you gone through all of the new stuff over here?" She gestures at the racing stuff vaguely, then glances at her motorcycle (that's conveniently been black and purple this whole time). "... Also, what kinds of weaponry do you recommend adding to these sorts of machines? I was thinking something with low recoil, but adding armor..."
She's starting to go into one of her tinkering tangents.
|Bowser||The rat is GONE. Heck yea.
"THIS IS A RACE! There's only one winner in a race! The one who wins the race! Which is going to be ME!" Still no powerups, dang it.
Oh neat, hole. Bowser slams the brakes, turning the wheel in a harsh turn right, allowing the front of the car to start spinning once again. The car itself isn't going to make it, still sliding back at hole as Xion puts on the Toyatic Juice.
At the same time, Bowser snaps his hand up out of the glove box, fingers grasped tightly around a single object.
MUSHROOM Holding it aloft with the same air of a Steamlight, he slams it down against the dashboard of his car. Six columns of red flames explode from the sides of the Flame Flyer as the forward inertia suddenly drags it in a new arc around the side of the circle. Tires ripple uinder the strain and a sudden wave of caustic tire fumes pour out from either side. His huge hands tighten on the wheel, eyes narrowing as he sees the PURSE, the TRUE FINISH LINE.
|Timespace Riders|| "You kept your memories, then. I'm glad," Sougo says with a fervent nod and a warm smile aimed Chains' way.
"Your radio was affected? Curious," says Woz, furrowing his brow and studying Chains, pacing slowly around him with his free hand stroking his chin. Stopping in his tracks to make a hand flourish, "It is good to have you back, sir Chains," says the retainer, offering a curt bow at the waist.
"Mm... Woz," Sougo intones, "Do you remember what that voice said? 'The program is too finely tuned to win against.'" He frowns thoughtfully, tapping his fingers against his thigh, before turning to Cantio. "I think our first step should be figuring out how to keep that from happening again. Maybe... maybe we could even get Chains' rivals to help us!" He smiles warmly, quite fine with political machinations. "After all," he concludes, "I'm sure none of them would want competition like that."
|Chains Knight||Chains' radio is entirely intact and functional. However, all of the numbers on it are messed up.
The Concord frequencies and the usual multiversal frequencies are all scrambled. The contact numbers of everyone Chains knows are scrambled, as well - those can be restored from backups pulled from the El Dorado server, at least.
The assymetric encryption keys on the radio are messed up. That's more inexplicable: the encryption keys on this model of the radio are hardware-encoded and shouldn't be changeable at all and would require changing the bits of hardware out - which would cause the firmware to fail self-validation and it shouldn't have turned on at all? Fixing it is still just a matter of re-authenticating with the El Dorado servers and doesn't take more than a few minutes, but however easy it is to fix it shouldn't have been possible to begin with.
"I haven't gotten to grips with much yet," says Chains. "If you want to play through the game to see what there is, you're more than welcome to."
"... And, hmm. You'd want to build something into the body of the machine, not just mount it on, to distribute the recoil..."
And then Sougo says something weird. "Voice? What voice are you talking about?"
|Cantio||"Agreed. Some more defensive systems, maybe, or training the locals? An early detection system for whatever happened could definitely help, too." Cantio nods slowly at Sougo while letting her mind start to wander, turning her eye towards the vehicles again before long. "Something to radio back with that something's happening so they can send some kind of call out before things start really deteriorating..."
Luckily, Cantio is soon snapped out of her wild plotting state by Chains speaking up and agreeing with the idea of learning to ride. "Great! I've always wanted to do that thing with the helmet and..."
Only then does Cantio realize she doesn't have a helmet. She deflates briefly. "... Well, at least attaching things sounds like it's doable, then. Something lower to the center of gravity, yeah... Maybe some kind of close-range option, too?"
"The voice?" Cantio mirrors Chains' question to Sougo and Woz, getting over that deflating moment and tangent rather quickly while glancing between them and Chains a few times. Eventually, she finally gets her hands back on the motorcycle. "Oh! What if we try and sort that out while learning these things? Then we can look cool and figure that out!"
Unfortunately for Cantio, saying that ensures she will never look cool today.
|Xion||King Bowser - Terrible Tyrant, Truly Tremendous, Terrifyingly Tempestuous, and other things that alliterize with a T - uses a powerful detonation to open a big hole in the track! From ground zero of the blast, the objective -- the stolen purse -- goes flying clear, forming an impromptu 'true' finish line just past a terrifying vehicle-munching gap!
Blazing on red-hot tires and weaving around the (tutorial) obstacles, the Nobody guns her burning red motorcycle further, Dead Heat's power well suited for head-to-head sprints. "That's a very kingly way to think about competitions! But is it the only way? You have that incredible car!"
Which hits the brakes. Xion zips past, straight for the hole, and scans for ramps. Of which there are none. Just a big hole, and the prize across the divide.
Kipping up, to balance her feet on the seat, Xion switches from riding her bike to surfing it, the wheels and handles and pedals operating 'themselves' remotely as she sizes up the gap.
And Bowser shoots past her with the power of Super Mushrooms, white-clawed and white-knuckled, a true racer.
Right at the edge, Xion doesn't hit the hole and get air on her bike -- she leaps off her mount like a sacrificial Yoshi, yanking the key out and going high over the hole. "You may be racing, Bowser, King of the Koopas -- but I'm a pursuer! Which means:" Still far short of the edge, Xion flings out her hand and reaches, a glowing silver chain hookshotting to the opposite end and connecting with the ground, reeling Xion across the rest of the distance as her idle motorcycle falls.
With her other hand, she toggles the RIDE button on the recovered key fob, bringing her motorcycle right under her for the Inevitable Motorcycle Slide across the opposite side, in a cloud of drift sparks, to reach for the purse neck and neck with the Koopa King.
"This is still Head to Head! Despair is waiting for past THIS finish line!"
|Timespace Riders|| Sougo says many weird things, so the (helmeted) look of askance from Chains and the likewise confusion from Cantio slide off of him fairly easily. He does answer! "Um, well... maybe not so much a voice as messages. Status updates, at first," he clarifies. "Like a progress bar. But there was also someone using them to talk to us. You called them annoying, Chains! Remember?"
"Indeed," says Woz to Cantio, hopping back astride his motorcycle. "But first..." Before he starts it, he procures that strange book of his, holding out a hand for both Cantio and Sougo to wait. "According to this book," he says, propping a shoulder upon the handlebars, "A coalition between the Four Heavenly Kings of Reshuffled would be very useful to preventing another attack and genre shift." Who calls them that? Woz must be the kind of man who'd die without a little drama. "Trigger will be our first ally, and my Demon King will sway him to our cause with a display of skill."
Sougo's eyes light up, as he hops back onto his bike. "Oh! The Ex-Aid armor would be perfect for that. Cantio, what do cowboys ride? We should keep an eye out, while we're learning."
The two of them start up their bikes and wait for the newbie quest to refresh. Rather than put on motorcycle helmets, the both of them transform. Rider armors have helmets. It totally counts.
"Are you guys ready?"
Once Cantio is, the two riders will start the quest with her. They're only as competent as average civilians, but Woz at least is capable of reading tutorials.
|Chains Knight||The bike behaves as Xion expects it to - when she presses the ride button, it pops into existence right beneath her, and even adjusts her position slightly - she goes seamlessly from gripping the keys to gripping the throttle with her non-keyblade hand, leaving her free to drift her way around the bend of the course...|
|Bowser|| Alright, that's some Mario level shit right there. Xion hops the distance with SICK CHAIN STUNTS, once again sitting along side Bowser. But the Flame Flyer is moving at full speed again, making it a tough contest. "Doesn't pursuing mean you are always going to be BEHIND ME?!"
"KAMMY, YOU DRIED UP OLD BITTY, GET OUT HERE AND DO THE MAGIC THING THERE ARE NO WEAPONS ON THE FIELD!!!"
Kammy comes out of Bowserland Mini wearing a Tom Nook brand pajama set and holding a little drink with an umbrella. "What. Oh. He's here." She fishes out an oversized magic wand and waves it in the air.
Iriscedent cubes appear on the battlefield, their sumptious rainbow finish and their floating ? making them tantalizing to the eye.
Kammy waddles over to Chains Rider to squint at him. And mostly to tell Bowser everything later.
BACK ON THE FIELD.
Bowser bursts through the first magical block, snatching something out of the air!
The Flame Flyer suddenly swerves, Bowser simply going for the ol' Biff Tannen. The side of the large sturdy steel frame and lovingly painted flames comes bearing down on Xion, though keeping up the speed to go towards the ramp.
|Cantio||"The Four Heavenly Kings..." Cantio repeats, apparently taking Woz's penchant for drama completely straight as her eyes light up with an excited fire behind them. "That's not too different from the cities back home, then. If you'll be going after Trigger, then I'll...!"
She stops. ".. Um. I don't know the others' names, so I guess I'll help with that!" After pivoting towards something still vaguely helpful, she takes a moment to sift through her thoughts on cowboys. "I know they have those flappy pants with the little spiked wheels on them... I know they go on trains, but those spikes have to be used on something... Thick, maybe?"
Two plus two equals five, and she snaps her fingers. "Buffalo!"
Soon, Cantio's ready to start the tutorial quest with Sougo and Woz, and she's actually okay at figuring things out once she gets her motorcycle moving! There's still too much wasted movement to consider her anything but an average newbie, though, but at least she's got enough physical bulk to not get hurt too badly if and when she wipes out despite the lack of a helmet.
|Chains Knight||As it turns out, after comparing notes, Chains Knight's memory diverges from what Sougo and Woz remember. Halfway through the fight against Trigger, all of the multiversals vanished - right around the time that, in Sougo and Woz's memory, the voice started speaking.
"... A coalition... I'm... a little bit unsure about that," says Chains. "We've been at each others throats for - I'm not sure how long, actually."
The tone he uses suggests that Chains Knight himself might have a few things to work out before he'd play nice with all the other three. "Trigger, fine, I can deal with him, though."
"He's usually over at the bowing alley, when you all are ready."
The tutorial gets set back up for the three, with Chains Knight joining by summoning his car. The tutorial, absent the overkill shenanigans Bowser employed, is a fairly simple affair - go fast but not too fast, and then slow down and turn around. There's little pointers and prompts that come up throughout it, and once someone on the team gets the purse back to the old lady everyone feels an EXP bar filling up slightly, and feels *slightly* more vehicle capable, in addition to the actual practice they got riding their bikes back and forth.
Trigger is in the Car Bowling Alley when they're ready - the bowling alley Bowser's minions built having been transformed into something more appropriate to a racing game. Trigger's decked out like a drive-by gangster, albeit a gangster that's still got cowboy elements - much like how previously he was a cowboy/fantasy RPG bandit combo.
"Array. And your friends. Didn't get enough of losing last time?"
|Xion||Around the turn comes the racers and Xion leans into it, used to trimming the ground at high speed from other activities in her life. This is a great idea, because she blazes perfectly throught the turn and guns it off. This isn't a great idea, for her, because Bowser has a flame spewing V8 Koopa Kart with all the trims and sharp fixings and her head sure is close to the track.
Bumped as she swerves, Xion is righted by momentum and gets her bike under control beneath her, gunning for the straightaway before the ramp. Aiming back to tow cable up one of Kammy's sumptuous rainbow blocks, Xion briefly takes the lead, hooks in the prize expecting either enormous hunks of pure gold (aka: exotic food money) or, some kind of evil powerup (which she was totally willing to slam)!
"Huh? It's not even a banana!" Xion complains, the magic chain wrapped around an empty peel (with eyes). "Here! I think your magic boxes are broken, Bowser!"
She tosses the banana peel in front of the Koopa King's trajectory to a clean ramp ascension!! The dirty moves!
"I'm a pursuit character because I've chased you! Now you've gotta deal with me - which is easier when I'm in the lead!"
|Bowser||Kammy follows. TOTALLY NOT TO ABSORB EXPOSITION but also maybe to be a voice of 'reason'. She ignores the other koopas and goombas as they roll RACE CARS at TIRE PILES, which is a little hard to get used to at first, because there isn't the same kind of spin, but it ends up like bombchu bowling, and is pretty fun.
"And none of those four are the ones who made the jets?" The old crone asks, sipping her umbrella drink which is in a commerative NASCAR mug.
BACK ON THE TRACK
Bowser is the banana peel expert. Unfortunately, Banana Peels and Bowser don't mix. And on a ramp?! The most dastardly of moves. His foot comes down hard on the brakes, and the wheel jerks to the left in a sudden shift. Both come too late. The banana peel hits the back tire and all friction from the car is temporarily removed. It spins out over the top of the ramp, coasting impotently down to the other side. The distance between Xion and Bowser goes from 0 to 60, the motorcycle shooting ahead.
The engine roars as the Flame Flyer enters the straight away, Bowser effortlessly skidding to move through another rainbow box.
A wicked smile grows over Bowser's face as Koopa shells materialize around the car. They whirl with a lethal speed and a wicked spin to them, the notably impervious shells building up speed.
Aim is not Bowser's strong suit. But you don't need aim on a straight away. Instead, Bowser begins a drift from left to right. With each signal of his hand, the shells rip away from the car in a straight shot. They hit the road and slide in a frictionless careen, building up speed into a lethal torpedo, three of them filling up the road.
|Timespace Riders|| "That's all the more reason to try, isn't it? You've got to be tired of sabotaging each other by now. Mm... either way, thank you, Chains, for giving this idea a chance. I won't let you down!"
Inside the Bowling Woz sneers at Trigger. "As I recall," the retainer intones haughtily, "Your victory was decidedly short-lived. Or did you forget the air strike?~"
Zi-O, however, is all smiles. "Hi, Trigger! I like your suit," says the armored-up rider, gesturing amiably towards the now-gangster. "We're not here to fight. I'm here to make a bet with you! See that lane?" he asks, pointing to the nearest unoccupied lane. Zi-O then gestures to himself with his thumb, placing it squarely on his cuirass. "I bet I can jump off my bike, get a strike in that one and the next one over, without touching the ground. If I can, you have to hear us out! And if I can't," says the rider, producing a Concord card, index of the opposite hand held up, "I'll bankroll an upgrade for your ride!"
Zi-O procures the Ex-Aid ridewatch, a colorful thing in nostalgic, neon pink and green. "What do you say?" he prods, pressing the stop with his thumb.
"Want to see how an off-worlder games?" Zi-O slots it into his belt.
The LCD chronometer reads AU24. The frantic ticking of a clock is heard, before Zi-O spins the Driver.
A disembodied suit of white armor with pink and green trim appears from a pink portal before him. A colorful four-button gamepad breastplate complements game-cartridge pauldrons. A shock of stylized pink 'hair,' rests atop the helmet, and the arms are replaced with bludgeoning pistons styled as controller buttons.
It flies apart as an attack unto itself, while Zi-O makes improbably high, platformer style leaps to 'collect' each piece after its divebomb.
Level UP! o/` Ex-AIIID! o/`
Sougo nods confidently, and gets Ex-Aid's catchphrase wrong: "I think I can get two strikes with no continues!" He's just not enough of a gamer to be sure.
|Chains Knight||"Air strike?" It turns out Trigger's memory also diverges.
"But - fine, I'll take the bet, I've got an Endgame ride... it'll probably max out your little card there, hah."
He goes over and takes a seat, resting his elbows on his knees and his chin(?) on his hands, as one does. "Go on then..."
|Cantio||"Well... Unless there's a blood feud involved, maybe we could redirect that towards something a little more cooperative?" Cantio suggests after Chains' explanation and even with that implication in his tone. "Or... Er. I mean, if it really is something /that/ bad, then..."
It takes until they're well into the ride through the tutorial before she finally comes up with another idea. "We could... Consolidate power? Instead of having it split four ways, if it's all..." Cantio gestures vaguely, then quickly gets her hands back on the bars so as to not eat shit going off the side of the road. "Focused in one place."
Even now, she's still considering those kinds of possibilities.
As Cantio gets more comfortable with the motorcycle, she starts taking more risks in her riding. She's not quite popping wheelies yet, but she's deliberately aiming for ramps and seeing how many times she can flip around before landing safely. Even when she eats shit, she manages to get up relatively quickly, but the lack of a helmet means her hair's kind of messed up by the time they get to the bowling alley to meet Trigger.
His greeting gets a blank stare from Cantio, followed by a polite wave. "Hello! My name's Cantio, second goddess of Cadenza. I've never met you before, but it's good to meet you now."
With Zi-O's infectious optimism, Cantio too finds herself smiling even though she's considerably less armored/helmeted and potentially less impressive looking in just that jacket and shorts/boots combo. When he issues that challenge, meanwhile, Cantio just goes right along with it and puts on her announcer voice while bringing out her loudspeaker drones (in high fidelity, no less)!
"It's a direct challenge from the Demon King against the Frontier Cowboy! Who's going to come out on top? The challenger, or the reigning champ? They've both got a lot on the line here, and it's not just their pride!"
Cantio's not actually sure who's listening, but it's at least going to be kind of hard to ignore when her voice is blaring out right from where the challenge is set to begin.
|Xion||Xion leans down and surges ahead after the ramp, focusing on the track. The ramp immediately curves out, playing out into more item blocks -- Xion grabbing another BANANA for being in the lead and holding onto it. Down a hill marked with checkered sides, Xion lets up on the aggression to check behind her - having talked all that game and then immediately tried to win the race towards the blown-away purse.
A green shell wizzes by the Nobody, and she reflexively jinks, late, left and away from another item block.
"Hey are there people in those?!" Xion asks, worriedly. At the velocity they were being shot at, she couldn't check easily! A weaving zigzag of course starts, the terrain bumpy if you don't make the turns, and Xion holds her second banana ready to counterattack.
It almost goes right! The banana barely leaves her hand when the second shell goes zinging by her, and the two items mutually self-detonate into a splatter of indestructible shell spinning out momentumless.
"Because I saw a bunch of little guys in shells! And you're shooting shells at me!"
The third shell lines up, and rather than jink it, Xion just jumps back up on her bike and balances while it drives straight (over rumbly ground! The shame!) to reform her keyblade in the air, grasp it in both hands, and take a baseball swing at the velocitous third shell!!
Where unstoppable key-force meets immovable koopobject a great clash of sparks and glittering showers of light burst from the connection - which hangs there, now speed-matched.
Xion grabs the 1x GREEN SHELL out of the air, and hucks it backwards, tongue out and one-eyed as she Z-targets Bowser and hurls it like a baseball pitcher, sweeping one leg up (on trembling motorcycle) and then dropping it down and pivoting for extra pitching torque. "You had me worried! I don't know how Koopa Magic works!" She grins. "Yet!"
|Bowser||"WHAT, WHO CARES?! THEY ARE KOOPAS!"
A perfect direct hit. The keyblade slams across the front of the shell, the spin on the shell keeping it in place for a delectable moment in time before the force of the blow slams it back towards the Flame Flyer. Realizing how SPEEDY Xion is, he's only got one course of action. Ride or get hecked. Xion just keeps putting on more distance between them and the speedy bike means Bowser can't land a single ding darn shot!
He twists the car, letting the shell hit at an oblique angle. Despite that, it SMASHES into the solid steel frame, crumbling the perfect green frame, sheering off a length of yellow flames. Tires squeal as the car slides over the asphalt, letting out another cloud of tire smoke until he can get himself right.
Flames expel from his nose as he drifts through another turn, the heavy car taking it tight. His foot lifts expertly off the brake in controlled spurts, keeping to the inside of the turn to get another shot at a box.
"Come on RED SHELLS!"
"WHY ARE THESE EVEN IN HERE!"
A boomerang with bright cartoony eyes appears in Bowser's hand as he lifts it over his head. Just a little more distance. A little more speed. Getting a little bit closer. The curved vegetable leaves Bowser's hand with a mighty throw, whirling through the air with an ominous thrum as it draws closer to Xion, attempting to drag her back!
|Timespace Riders|| "Ha! Right, then..." Car (or in this case, bike) bowling. Zi-O's hands grip the handlebars, finding the accelerator and gunning it. Thanks to the tutorial, he doesn't waste time peeling out. "Turn one way, lean the other... brake!" It's enough for an amateur drift, halfway down the lane.
Woz places a hand on Cantio's shoulder. "No, no," he gently corrects. "To truly rejoice, it must come from the very bottom of your being, that it may ring clearly above even the highest peaks int the land. Observe..." He then rudely shoves her aside and steps into earshot of the amplifying drones.
"IWAE! Today the ruler of time pens a new page in history," he regally proclaims, arms thrown wide, head helds high. "Traveling beyond pins and lanes, he leaps, to strike awe in the heart of a veteran gamer!"
*With Woz and Cantio cheering me on, I can't lose!*
Zi-O shifts his weight, flipping the bike and leaping clear, flying through the air towards the neatly arranged pins at the end of the lane. He adjusts his posture in midair, the heel of his boot striking against the front pin. Zi-O nimbly twists, adding circular motion to the pin as it falls, springing off of it with a retro video game 'bweep' noise.
The pin he struck twists sideways and knocks every adjacent pin over. That's one, and he hasn't touched the ground yet. Flying into the neighboring lane, Zi-O makes a double jump in empty air to carry himself over to the next set.
Bweep! Bwoop! His sweeping kick sends the front pin spiraling backwards to knock over half of its fellows, and the motion of his opposite leg, with a full second to spare, clears the other five. He touches down and strikes a triumphant pose--before someone yells at him for standing in the lane.
"S-sorry!" he calls, hurrying back over to Trigger. The Ridewatch is removed, along with that of his base form, and the unarmored Sougo beams at the Dark Gamer General.
"So..." Sougo explains for Trigger, with Chains as back-up, what happened from the point of view of the Concord members present, mentioning 'Arnold Ray' and the threat of another such attack.
"...I know that you and Chains don't always get along, but I really believe that an alliance would help the both of you. It doesn't do anyone any good if one of you beats the other, and then you both get wiped out by another attack like that. Besides... aren't you at least a little curious to see how 'finely tuned' that 'program' really is? Whether or not it can stand up to a coalition working in tandem?"
|Chains Knight||Zio Ex-Aid Armor performs the improbable feat of sort-of bowling. Trigger sits up a bit more.
"... Mmm. You did step over the line, though, which under normal rules would cause your frame to be rendered invalid."
"... You *did* knock them all down, though. Which was the bet."
He listens to the explanation Sougo gives, and then the pitch for cooperation.
"... Arnold Ray. Arnold Ray. Can't say I know the name. Whoever this is, they're clearly gonna be a problem, then, and..."
He looks around. "The world changing up all the time, resetting the score, that's gonna get in the way of everything, too."
"So fine. If you can pull off moves like that, you've got at least something going on. I'm game." He stands up. "I'm in. Long as you don't second guess my moves."
|Xion||"I care!" Xion shouts, dropping back to one-handedly motorcycle past the last of the zigzags and entering the Enormous, Inexplicable Racing Quarter And Half Pipe segment, with all sorts of boosters blinking lines of >>>>>> zoomies!
Accellerating into a velocitous wheelie when she *really* gets going, Xion clings to the near-runaway motorcycle and turns to watch Bowser.
"Come on! You're a Koopa too, aren't you? Would you want someone to not care about you, because you're a Koopa? That sounds awful! If you're going to be the king of the Koopas - you should strive for people to respect Koopas!" Swinging out her weapon, she aims to reel in another sumptuous rainbow item chest with Chains Knight's magic hookshot-chain power, coming up with 3x BANANA - still in the lead, of course, and getting low-tier items herself. She flingers them carefully after speed-ups to stymie Bowser's path and make tempting accellerators *actually* disappointing spin-outs right when the nitros kicked in!
Xion is nearly over a ramp, herself, when the tumbling 'low-tier' boomerang does to her what she plans to do to to Bowser, sucking her back and zeroing out her momentum right after the gap and pitfall past the ramp, sending her tumbling down into--
"Oh no-!" She gasps, and disappears down into the hole.
A corridor of darkness, since Xion lacks Lakitu to fish her from grisly temporary tutorial racing demise, opens horizontally over the center of the half pipe, dropping a confused and stopped Xion back onto the track with an 'oof!'. It takes her a moment to rev up after, giving a chance for bowser to pull ahead! But with her in the back. . .
Her items get better.
|Cantio||Woz's proclamations, bass-boosted by Cantio's speaker drones, give the latter quite a few more notes to take for her future works. "From the bottom up, huh? Maybe... Hmm. Maybe that's what I'm missing. Maybe..."
She trails off, letting those thoughts cook in her mind some more while observing his technique more closely, and she doesn't even seem to mind the shoving after the initial 'hey' and grunt. The way he gestures, the way he shouts, the way he gestures with even his head movements, it's all getting absorbed readily!
Zi-O, too, seems to absorb that support from the both of them, and even Trigger seems to approve by the time all is said and done. Cantio lets out a relieved sigh when he lets the minor infractions slide in favor of joining in on the alliance/ceasefire, and she flashes Zi-O a quick thumbs up before turning to Trigger once more.
"Great to hear! You're the expert here, so I don't think that'll be much of a problem. Besides, working with Chains means you two can even get stronger together over time instead of just trying to find that one trick to get a single edge." She explains, trying to sweeten the already-accepted deal just a little bit more.
|Bowser||The power of the kart is strong. Every time Bowser is JUST about to catch up by hitting a nitro, the banana lands. An innocent little yellow slippery cone with eyes. Immediately, the friction leaves the wheels, and the fierce muscle car fishtails. Gravel on the asphalt sprays out with every slam on the accelerator. Just as he gets speeding up again, another banana hits, dragging the car to the side.
Bowser's mouth burns like a furnace stoked. Flames lick out from the side of his mouth as his eyebrows angle downward into as angry as they can go. The wheel begins to split as his hands grasp it in utter rage.
The third banana hits and Bowser throws up one hand. All he needs is...
Xion appears behind him the instant he bursts through the block. Five coins appear in Bowser's hand.
His hand goes down into the glovebox once more. "You gotta learn what the OTHER THING a king does when he needs to win!" Bowser's dashboard catches the flames from his breath and bursts up into flames as the constant barrage from Xion has worn down what thin restraint he might normally have.
It's a single effortless fluid motion. Dragging out an Eight Foot Iron Ball from the glove box and letting it go into the road behind him.
"MAKE UP NEW RULES!"
|Timespace Riders|| "I won't second-guess you! In fact, at some point," continues Sougo, "We'll have to get to know each other a little better. I think you and Chains could come up with some really effective strategies, but Woz and I have only fought you the one time, and Cantio's just met you."
"You have both made a wise decision today," says Woz with a coy little smile, nodding to Chains and Trigger in turn. With his free hand, he makes a grandiose, sweeping motion, head once again held high. "Today marks the advent of a new era for this world."
Of course, getting the other two 'Heavenly Kings' on board is going to involve a lot more work--but Woz hadn't seen fit to share that particular part of the book, because it wouldn't have been convenient, of course.
"Mm... in the mean time, Woz, maybe you'd like to see a little more of the game?" Sougo smiles hopefully, inching a little closer.
Woz bristles, at first. After a moment's thought, he admits: "That... would not be unpleasant, my Demon King."
|Xion||Xion switches into the position of pursuer truly, dogging the Koopa King and getting back up to speed, but her angle on the accellerator pads is bad.
She dogs the Koopa King, dragging sparks from besides her motorcycle as her held keyblade drags on the track. The Dead Heat power has been pushing her motorcycle hard, but Kamen Rider Mach's power was best suited for the track, and Xion brought all the acrobatics and most of the Super-Star Action herself. Plus: This track was baby easy. Despite the diversity of the level, it was the Green Hills Zone of level design, a pastoral bit of everything at a light speed, that a heavyweight driver in an overkill beast machine incedentally used the pristine mixed city-countryside-skatepark as a quarry to do battle... over a purse.
Xion had forgotten all about it, because she was here for one thing. "Don't worry, King Bowser." A smirk takes her lips. "I already know how to fight to win. And if you make up new rules - get ready for them to apply to you too! When you create the whole world -- you have to live in it!"
Accellerating towards the Eight Foot Iron Ball, Xion begins to continuously trail sparks, and not from the auto-Mushroom of Dead Heat! Her keyblade drags against the track, readying for the approach of the massive iron ball. When it's close, she thrusts down, hopping up in the air and letting her bike go with her legs. Her free hand grabs the keys again, yanking them from the ignition to hit 'DISMISS' and send away the bike, giving her all air and nothing for the ball to run over. Instead, she hooks down again with her blade, trading her momentum to bite into the ball with the tooth of her cartoonish sword and flinging it forward -- while shooting a chain into the back of it, as its redirected!
Sailing through the air on an enormous ball of iron ends quickly, the ball now rolling the other way and Xion racing backwards atop it. Adroitly, she re-hits the 'SUMMON' button and guns it as her machine rezzes underneath her, sending the ball down the course at an accellerated pace. "What's past that finish line -- is a king's crown of my own! You'll loan it to me, right? After this?!"
With the impossible accellerating Motorcycle Mounted Eight Foot Iron Ball, Xion jams the accellerator and revs the engine enough for the tires to squeal, redden, and kick the ball into an angry red gravity-empowered road roller ball of racing energy and the announcement of DEAD HEAT - BURST!. The tires orange, redden, and then blow out, derezzing the motorcycle and sending Xion flying up into the air...
But Lord, that ball's a-comin'.
|Bowser||The purse. There it is. JUust ahead. In the open. All he has to do is get to that ramp. Bowser can feel it. And it might be the fire against his face as the car is bursting into flames. NO MATTER!
He's going to win! He's going to WIN! The singular moment, the whole world narrowing into the purse.
"YOU ARE NOT GETTING MY CROWN! I put it away, any-" Bowser peers up into his rear view mirror. Taking it between two fingers, he carefully adjusts the rear view mirror, as all he can see behind him is black. Tilting up, he catches Xion and the motorcycle, landing on the ball. The friction on the asphalt turns the heat up, until an angry red meteor is barreling towards Bowser, picking up speed!
Just need to get there. Just need to get there. Bowser fishes around in his glove box. ANything to block it! A boost! He must just WIN. The purse is all that matters! Metal begins to tear noisily as Bowser's foot presses the pedal down so hard the frame buckles under the weight.
The back of the car smokes as the paint gets too close to the fiery pursuer. Just... a little more.
The second the car changes velocity into another vector, the ball's crushing weight traps it, smashing through the entire back end of the car and right into Bowser! With his movement suddenly arrested, and not the type to wear a seatbelt, The Mighty Turtle Demon goes flying over the ramp, crashing past the purse onto the other side.
|Xion||Xion, tumbling down, lands with a roll that goes for a dozen rotations before she finally arrests her momentum from hyperspeed in a kneeling forward slide - using her arms as balances and guides, one hand gripped tight to Starlight. She skids to a landing short of the purse.
Bowser lands past it, sailing over.
The track quiets. Xion, whose borrowed powers peel off of her as she releases her weapon, stands and dusts off her knees and thighs before walking to the purse . . .
And stepping past it, to trot towards the crater Bowser has fallen into.
Sliding down the side with a hand to the embankment, Xion finds the Mighty Turtle Demon King at the base of his enormous impact crater, concern on her face - and a little humor. "Hey, King."
"You won, you know? The challenge wasn't get the purse. It was don't blow out your tires." She laughs. "I did that, and then you got blown up. But you didn't fail. I'm a pursuit-type game improver, not a hard wall."
She reaches a hand forward, offering to pull the bulky koopa up to a sitting position - she simply doesn't have the leverage to get him to standing, even with her cartoonish strength. "Between us, you're the better driver. So... Good race." She smiles.
|Bowser||Bowser's face did more damage to the road than the other way around, coming up with a few minor scratches. The iron ball with several pits in from striking Bowser. And well, the car half way crunched, flattened into a tortilla thickness under the iron.
The removal is main strength, Bowser peeling himself off the floor. And directly into a hand in front of him. A hand hovering right there. Bowser's huge clawed mitt engulfs it. "Of course I'm the better driver! This isn't a regulation track!" Bowser says, in a deflecting agreement as he pulls himself back up, perhaps adding a LITTLE force more than is necessary that gets the TOXIC MACHO SEMI-FRIENDLY GOTTA BE THE TOUGH GUY SMIRK. He brushes himself off from the chest downward, removing full chunks of asphalt from his chest. "And I wasn't using the right vehicle."
Putting a hand to the side of his mouth, Bowser bellows like no other, "HEY! YOU STUPID GOOMBAS GET THE MOTORCYCLE READY, BEST TWO OUT OF THREE!"
|Xion||Xion laughs, pulling back and letting Bowser have his moment. When she comes away from the slightly toxic tug, she comes back with a teacup gold crown - with a pair of slightly angry black eyes on it. Still smiling, she settles it on her head with both hands, getting it set in her black hair at a jaunty side-angle. "I'll hold onto this crown for now, and we can go round two some other time. My motorcycle is on cooldown after I blew out the tires anyway."
She blows Bowser a kiss with a puff of smoke, which surprises Xion as well, and then she disappears in a backstep of black-yawning portal. Her hands wave as they disappear back with her, and when she's gone:
The purse remains. Quest complete?