I don't see this story lasting longer than a single thread, but sometimes shorter stories are fun too. Enjoy, folks! __________
The first thing you realize when you come to is that you're so heavily tied up you can't move anything but your head. The full-body armor and helmet you're wearing prevents the binds from chafing, but they're still uncomfortably tight. Your helmet covers your entire face, and the tinted visor shields your eyes from any glare or sudden flashes of light.
Looking around reveals that you're tied up on the floor of a throne room, given the ostentatious decorations surrounding you. Frescoes decorate the walls and stained glass windows let sunlight shine in, the artwork depicted upon them showing scenes from classical mythology. There's also the eponymous throne that gives the room its name, of course, and its occupant looks almost too pleased to see you trying to break loose from your bonds.
"I wouldn't bother, if I were you." Remilia Scarlet, Lady of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, cheerfully states. The vampire's jolly expression promises ill omens for your future, given your briefing on her.
"Why not?" You grunt out, still trying to free yourself. She snickers at your ongoing struggle.
"Well, those ropes are magically reinforced. You're not getting out of those unless I want you to."
"That seems to be the case." You wryly admit after a few more seconds of futile effort.
"Very good. Now, I've a few questions for you to answer." She says, voice brokering no disagreement. "Your name, if you would?"
"AE-51262." You rattle off.
"I said a name, not a string of numbers." She replies, flashing an irritated look your way.
"That's my official designation." You reply, voice flat. You hear a staccato burst of gunfire off in the distance, and your hostess cocks her head towards the sound for a brief moment.
"It seems your fellows are mounting another assault as we speak." She purses her lips. "Were they not being used against me, I'd have to give them credit for being tenacious."
"It's what we're made for." You say, a touch of pride to your voice, and with that one sentence the girl's mood skyrockets. She sports a toothy grin as she looks you over.
"Aha, and there we go!" She exclaims, rising to her feet. She daintily makes her way over to you, and when she gets close she leans forward until the two of you are nose-to-mask.
"You've given me something interesting!" She begins, a curious look in her blood-red eyes. "You say this is what you're made for, which implies that you're some sort of construct. Now how they've managed that is another thing entirely, which leaves me wondering as to how they made you." She pokes you right where your nose would be, were your face not concealed.
"I wouldn't want to spoil the mystery." You tell her, and she draws back.
"Disappointing." She sighs, shutting her eyes and touching her fingers to her forehead.
"My apologies." You say. She blinks in surprise before loosing a brief chuckle.
"Wouldn't have taken you for a polite sort, given how your friends are busy attempting to tear my mansion to pieces." She frowns slightly at that part.
"All part of the job, miss." You reply.
"And what a job you got yourself into!" She exclaims, clapping her hands together. "Infiltrating the Scarlet Devil Mansion! I'd almost be flattered, if it weren't for the fact that it's also incredibly annoying."
"Most targets don't think of me as merely annoying." You chuff. She smirks at that.
"Most of your targets aren't grand and powerful descendants of Dracula himself, you know." She counters.
"My intel suggests that your claim is a complete falsehood." You counter-counter.
"Oh, hush." She waves your accusation off, completely unperturbed. Silence reigns for a few seconds longer as the two of you stare each other down. Remilia gets bored first, and a red spear materializes in her hand in a flash of light.
"As much as I'm enjoying this banter, the fact of the matter remains that you're part of a group that is currently trying to kill me. As such, you're going to have to die." With that, she's got the point of the weapon at your throat. One little push is all it would take. You merely stare at her, waiting for the vampire to end it.
Yet, nothing happens. Seconds drag on without the girl in front of you poking your throat out, and after this goes on long enough she cocks her head to the side.
"Well?" She asks, an expectant look on her face. "Aren't you even going to beg for your life?"
"Why?" You ask, genuinely surprised. "If you were going to kill me, I wouldn't be able to change your mind so easily. Besides, you'd have just executed me earlier if you didn't want to interrogate me."
The point of her spear wavers, and then the weapons disappears in a flash as Remilia gives you a peculiar look.
"You've not even the decency to be afraid when I threaten to kill you." She complains, folding her arms beneath her chest.
"It is physically impossible for me to feel fear." You apologetically tell her.
"Well, I suppose I'll have to get my entertainment from you another way." She muses. Her eyes light up after a few seconds, and she clasps her hands behind her back as she gives you a toothy grin. "Ah, of course! Why don't you tell me a story? Preferably the one about how you broke into my mansion and made a grand mess of things? As a plus, I might just let you live if I like your story enough!"
"When you put it like that, what have I got to lose?" You ask, and the vampire looses a single bark of laughter.
"Quite! Now, tell me, just how did you get in here in the first place? I'm afraid I'm a bit fuzzy on the details of that part."
"How I got in, huh?" You parrot back. Well, that's simple!
[ ] You were flown in by indigenous support, and they dropped you over the walls where patrols were lightest.
[ ] You used an advanced digging tool to tunnel beneath the mansion proper. Time-consuming, but quiet and effective.
[ ] You went straight through the front gate, of course! The gatekeeper was a bit problematic, though.
[ ] [WRITE-IN]
Meanwhile, Remilia thinks you're here to kill her, but what are you really after? You're keeping this part to yourself, obviously.
[X] You used an advanced digging tool to tunnel beneath the mansion proper. Time-consuming, but quiet and effective. [X] Target abduction. (Flandre Scarlet) Obviously we came seeking Flandre's power. Story seems interesting.
[x] Sneaked over the wall during a heavy rainstorm, using it to cover your entry and taking advantage of the lightened entry. [x] Confirmation and observation of supernatural lifeforms rumored to be in the mansion.
[X] You went straight through the front gate, of course! The gatekeeper was a bit asleep, though. [X] Intel gathering, dissemination of disinformation and interrogation of target: Remilia Scarlet. Everything is going according to plan...
Going through the front gate (and, by extension, Meiling) wins out over tunneling your way in by one vote, but objectives are tied between making off with Flandre and deliberately feeding Remilia bad info while she interrogates you.
But you know what? They're both good ideas, so I'll merge them.
[X] Main Objective: Abduct Flandre Scarlet. Mission failed if subject is killed.
[X] Side Objectives: Gather intelligence. Spread disinformation. Interrogate Remilia Scarlet.
Congrats on swerving a way I didn't think of, by the way! This should be fun to write.
I hate to roll Author Fiat so early, but having had time to dwell on the subject I think I can say that switching the main and side objectives around will lead to a more interesting story. __________
Main objectives are as follows.
A: Gather intelligence on the Scarlet Devil Mansion and its inhabitants.
B: Interrogate Remilia Scarlet. If possible, do not let her realize you are doing so.
C: Spread disinformation as to the power of our organization and as to your purpose and actions in infiltrating the Mansion.
Failure here is not an option.
Bonus Objective: Abduct Flandre Scarlet.
Failing to achieve this objective is unfortunate but, given the target's obscenely high danger level, acceptable.
MISSION START __________
"I walked right through the front gates, of course." You explain. Remilia blinks once, twice, three times before breaking out into high-pitched laughter. You stare at the girl as this goes on for several long seconds. She favors you with a charmed smile after she manages to calm herself.
"Well, I do suppose fortune favors the bold! And there are few things bolder than assaulting a vampire's residence through the front gate. Consider this a small reward for your audacity." She says, and with a wave of her hand you find your bonds loosening. You're able to breathe a bit easier now, but you're sadly still invalid.
"My thanks to you." You say, and she performs a textbook perfect curtsy before drawing herself upright once more.
"I am a most magnanimous host, aren't I?" She responds, her eyebrows raised.
"Indeed." You concur. "Now, while I definitely had other options available, there's a certain charm to the main entrance. The only problem was..."
"The gatekeeper, yes." Remilia finishes for you. "I do hope you didn't hurt her too badly getting in. It'd be a shame to lose her after all this time she's served me."
"Well, about that..." You sheepishly trail off.
"Oh, damn." She curses, covering her eyes with a hand. "You killed her, didn't you?" __________
You're a short distance off from the Mansion proper, resting on a tree branch as you watch the Mansion's gates through a pair of binoculars. Fairy guards flit through the air in predetermined patrol routes, guarding the skies through sheer force of numbers. That leaves the main gate under watch by a single person. You've been observing Hong Meiling, the mansion's gatekeeper, and for the past hour she's been reading comic books, practicing martial-arts kata, and doing a seriously intimidating number of push-ups. Now, however, she finally seems to be finished with all of her exercises, given how she's tugged her hat over her eyes and slumped down against the wall next to the gate.
"All according to schedule." You mutter, and check your equipment over one last time. You've a compact assault rifle with plenty of spare ammo, an auto-pistol in case your rifle gets shredded, two rolls of grenades (Flashbangs and Incendiaries, respectively), a Heavy Digger, an Arc Thrower, and three remote-detonated demolition packs. Your armor, meanwhile, is tough enough to withstand concentrated anti-tank fire and has built-in strength and reflex boosters. You won't be jumping over the Mansion's walls anytime soon, but you could definitely punch through them given enough time and effort.
The Digger is an excellent tool for tunneling through anything in your path. This heavy version can tear through concrete with ease, but the increased power comes at the price of a reduced energy supply. It also shines as an incredibly effective (and incredibly messy) melee weapon.
Your Arc Thrower, meanwhile, is built to deliver an incredible electric shock to the nervous system of a target. It only has half-a-dozen charges before it runs dry, however, so you'll need to use it sparingly. As an aside, if you end up engaging either of the Scarlet sisters, you'll likely need to administer several shocks to down them. Provided, of course, that you don't manage to soften them up ahead of time.
Finally, your demolition packs are strong enough to cause heavy damage to any structure you plant them upon. They are excellent for causing chaos in order to distract your enemies, and work very well as a trap provided you know where a target will be ahead of time. Just try not to be near their (quite sizable) blast radius when you set them off, else you'll blow yourself to hell alongside your target.
With your equipment all in place, you hop down from your perch and stride towards the main gate. The fairies above pay no attention to you, too busy watching the skies for any airborne intruders. Soon enough you're standing in front of the gate, its sentry gently snoring next to it. Her hat is pulled over her eyes, and her chest rises and falls in a steady rhythm. You carefully push on the iron blockade, and it opens up without any resistance. However, it also opens up with a godawfully loud CREAAAAAAAK. You cringe and immediately whirl around to face the mansion's guardian, readying yourself for melee.
Amazingly, she hasn't budged an inch. You sigh in relief and turn back to the gate, intent on slipping through the gap you've created. Your move is interrupted when a fist smashes into your side, knocking the air from your lungs as you're sent flying. You twist in the air and land in a crouch, and you jerk your gaze up to your assailant.
"Did you honestly think I couldn't hear that?" The redhead chastises you, a hand on her hip as she studies you with an irked expression. The two of you are a good ten feet away from each other now, thanks to how she knocked you airborne.
"I was hoping you didn't." You admit as you rise to your feet. You wince at the stinging in your side. "Damn good hit, by the way."
"That's why they pay me." She says, pausing to crack her knuckles. "Now, seeing as you're a walking armory, I think I can safely assume you're up to no good. I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
"Afraid I can't do that, miss." You apologize. Her annoyance quickly flees the scene to be replaced by a feral grin, and she smacks a fist into an open palm.
"I was hoping you'd say that!" She cheers. "So, how do you want to do this? Spellcards, hand-to-hand, a mix of the two, what?"
You roll your shoulder a few times and clench your hands. "I feel like seeing just how much damage I can do. You up for it?"
"Man, this keeps getting better and better!" Meiling pumps a fist in excitement, her eyes shimmering with joy. "You know how long it's been since I've had a chance to fight someone properly?"
"Too long?" You venture, raising your fists and steadying your footing.
"Damn straight!" She affirms, slipping into a stance of her own. "You wanna start, or should I?"
"Ladies first." You offer. She wastes no further words as she charges ahead. Your reflex boosters kick in just before she launches a lightning-fast jab towards your throat, and you jerk out of the way just in time to dodge. She follows up with a burst of rapid-fire strikes, forcing you to backpedal and maneuver in a variety of improbable ways to dodge this onslaught.
She over-extends herself with one last punch, and as you sidestep the blow she realizes her mistake and raises her other arm to block. Your fist is faster, however, and it smashes straight into her nose hard enough to knock her back several feet. Her feet dig furrows into the earth until she slides to a halt, and she pauses a moment to feel where you nailed her. Your suit lets off a burst of steam as your boosters deactivate. You can't keep them active all the time, as otherwise it'll burn out and have to go through a short recharging period. Given who you'll likely face, even a short time without enhanced reflexes would be a Very Bad Thing™. Meiling frowns as the steam dissipates into the air.
"I'm thinking you've an unfair advantage, stranger!" She calls out, frowning. You shrug helplessly and spread your arms outwards.
"If I weren't wearing this suit, you'd have already pancaked me." You point out.
"Well, if that's the case, I guess it's fine. First point goes to you!" She allows, reassuming her stance. You shake your fist a few times before beginning a steady advance towards her. She waits until you're within a few feet before she stomps the ground hard enough to send shockwaves rippling through the earth. You falter when they hit you and she capitalizes on your moment of weakness by launching herself through the air, a vicious kick aimed at your skull. You barely juke out of the way in time, and she still manages to graze your helmet with enough force to send you spinning around.
You manage to stop yourself just in time to see her land in a crouch and round on you once more, springing towards you with a fist cocked back. You raise your arms up in a cross to block the strike, and when the blow connects it hits you hard enough to drive your feet into the dirt. She bounces away and lands upright, drawing herself back into a defensive pose.
"Okay, ow." She grunts, wincing as she flexes her fingers.
"Aaagh." You hiss, wringing your arms to try and shake off some of the stinging from that bone-jarring blow she nailed you with.
"You okay?" She asks, slipping out of her careful posture as she watches you with something approaching concern.
"I'm good, I'm good. You?" You reply, clenching your fists together and raising them up once again. She matches your pose, and the two of you stare each other down.
"Kinda hurt my hand a bit." She casually says. "Just what is that armor made out of, anyway?"
"Trade secret, I'm afraid."
"Thought as much. Shall we?"
You nod. She rushes ahead, and- __________
Remilia's pouting more and more with each passing sentence, so you pause in your storytelling.
"What?" You demand, and she somehow manages to pout even harder.
"Usually Meiling calls me whenever someone challenges her." She explains, annoyance clear and present. "So I can watch her fight, you know? This one sounded really fun, too!"
"You're bothered that you missed it?" You query, and the girl looks at you like you're clinically brain dead.
"What do you think I've been getting at?" She says, a lone eyebrow raised.
"Point." You admit. "So, anyway, where was I?"
"The part where you were fighting one of my employees so you could illegally break into my mansion?" She offers up.
"Right, that!" You brightly reply. __________
[ ] You have to end this fast, so it's time to disable your armor's limiters and go to town. Those limits are built-in for a reason, however. Do it too much, you risk burning things out.
[ ] Your suit handles most of the work for you, and you're certain you can outlast your opponent. The defensive game is the way to go.
[ ] You're limiting yourself to a fair fight against this martial-arts master because... why, exactly? It's time to get your guns on. [PLEASE SPECIFY REQUESTED LETHALITY OF ASSAULT]
[x] You're limiting yourself to a fair fight against this martial-arts master because... why, exactly? It's time to get your guns on. [MAXIMUM LETHALITY NO HOLDS BARRED NO CHANCES LEFT UNTAKEN]
We use our guns on Meiling and we use our close combat on Patchouli. Why? Because that's the most practical way to get in. Going toe to toe against such foes is madness. If you wanted to have a fair fight, you'd have taken the suit off. Besides, telling Remilia that we managed to kill her only by exploiting her weakness (long range combat) and the element of surprise would surely change (posthumously)her impression of her.
Continuing on with being a walking out-of-context problem: [X] In cases like these, you employ various martial-arts and gun kata designed primarily to incapacitate and immobilize one or more targets. Though they are fully capable of taking down targets on their own, you find them much more effective in delaying targets while stalling for backup. In this particular case, you have two objectives: distract the fairy guards from activities occurring elsewhere; and, stun Meiling in place (preferably knocking her out into the open as well). When there's a proper firing solution, your allies will call in the artillery strike.
You quickly go over your options as the beret-clad woman sprints towards you with ill intent. On one hand, you're gathering plenty of intelligence on her capabilities in a proper fight, and having a pretty good time of things while you do it. On the other hand, you're compromising your operation's odds of success with every moment you waste here. A single thought is all it takes for your limiters to disengage, and your suit starts venting heat as its boosters kick into overdrive. Everything slows down, and Meiling's previously breakneck charge becomes, to be blunt, geriatric. You rush towards her and slam a right hook into her jaw, and as she recoils in slow-motion you immediately follow it up with a left hook to her side.
One hit. Two hits. Three. Four. Five. Six. SeveneightnineteneleventwelvethirteenfourteenfifteensixteenseventeeneighteennineteenTWENTYTWENTYONETWENTYTWOTWENTYTHREETWENTYFOURTWENTYFIVETWENT YSIXTWENTYSEVENTWENTYEIGHTTWENTYNINE
Your reflexes disengage for a moment to let that flurry of blows register, and as the redhead soars up into the air from your last hit you quickly take her trajectory and the walls of the mansion into account. A little bit of careful maneuvering places you right before where she'll fall. You rear back as she drops ever closer, your boosters slowing things down once again, and you take a moment to admire the utterly shocked look on her bloody face before you deliver a mighty kick right to her gut. The way she folds between your leg is truly something to behold.
Time resumes as normal.
Approximately half a second later, one (1) Chinese gatekeeper smashes into a brick wall so hard that masonry goes flying. You tilt your head out of the way of an errant brick and dust your hands off as the redhead peels off the wall and falls flat on her face. Your suit takes this moment to let off a massive burst of steam, and suddenly everything feels incredibly heavy. You shudder and fall to one knee as heat vents out of your suit, and the grass at your feet starts bursting into flame from the ambient temperature.
Images appear on your visor as you order a diagnostics check, and you frown as you study the report. Your strength boosters have overheated, almost entirely crippling you, but in-built fail-safes have prevented them from suffering permanent damage. Emergency energy supplies stand ready in case you need to move now, and repair protocols are hard at work fixing up what they can. You just need to let things cool off for a short while before everything comes back online and you're able to-
Wait. Wait, wait, wait, she's getting up.
Your eyes widen as Meiling props herself up on her forearms, still somehow conscious after your brutal pummeling. Slowly but surely she draws herself upright, and while she's unsteady on her feet she stalks towards you with grim purpose. Rainbow-colored magic starts swirling around her arms, and you're quite certain that if you don't get up right now she's going to break you in half. You grit your teeth and force yourself to stand, your armor drawing on its emergency energy even as it creaks in protest. As the gatekeeper winds up to deliver a show-stopping punch, you draw back and prepare to deliver a game-ending blow of your own.
"You are such an asshole." She snarls, and her shining fist lunges for you. You swing at her in kind, trying to turn out of the way of her strike as your own homes in.
There's a veritable explosion of magic right in your face, and you find yourself airborne once again. When you hit the ground this time your suit shuts down completely. Your ears are ringing and you see double, and you're pretty sure there's a dent in your helmet. You give your suit a desperate order to reboot while you lie still on the ground, gentle footfalls warning of your impending doom. Soon enough, the battered redhead looms over you with murder in her eyes.
"I know I already said this, but it bears repeating." She growls. "You. Are such. An asshole." She raises a leg in preparation for a skull-shattering kick, and when it drops your suit chooses this as the perfect time to reactivate. You instantly clamp your hands around her foot, arresting its descent a mere inch away from your face, and squeeze. She shrieks as bones crackle and snap, and once you let go she smacks into the ground with a yelp. You quickly stand and step away from her in case she somehow managed to get up again, but from the way you shattered her foot it looks like she's not walking anywhere for a while. She glares at you from her spot on the ground, defiance writ across her face.
"I'd totally whoop your ass if I could stand up right now." She wheezes, not really seeming all that bothered by the fact that there's bits of bone poking out of her maimed foot.
"I'm just surprised you're still awake and not screaming in pain." You tell her, genuinely impressed. "I thought for sure you were done after I pummeled you the way I did."
"You hit me with all this and then you compliment me about it." She complains, but she's relaxing a bit since you've not made any more hostile moves towards her. "So now what are you going to do, anyway?"
"Now?" You reply. "I'm going to head inside the mansion, and there's nothing you can do to stop me."
"You might want to take a look around and rethink that statement." She points out, and with a sudden sense of foreboding you look up at the sky. The sky that is now blanketed by a veritable swarm of fey. A veritable swarm of fey that is brandishing all sorts of swords and spears and axes and evil, evil grins as they hungrily eye you up. You look back at Meiling, who is sporting a remarkably smug expression.
"Ah. Damn." You succinctly reply. The gatekeeper chuckles once and then winces, even that little expression of triumph too much for her battered body.
"You'd better start running!" She rasps out, sounding far too cheerful given what's about to happen. __________
"So that's how you got that particular dent in your helmet. And also why the lawns outside the mansion are torched, for that matter." Remilia muses, resting her chin on a fist as she watches you from her throne. She'd returned to her seat while you were talking, and is now languidly relaxing as you entertain her.
"That part was unintentional, I assure you." You say.
"But what was intentional was how you grievously maimed my favorite gatekeeper." She pointedly reminds you, crimson eyes narrowed.
"I had to deal with her somehow." You reply. Her wings twitch as she fixes you with an unamused look.
"I've still no idea where she got off to." She eventually adds, brows furrowed. "I do hope that one of the fairies had the presence of mind to cart her off instead of chasing after you."
More gunfire resounds in the distance, but Remilia hardly bats an eyelid. "Your friends are annoyingly persistent, aren't they?"
"No comment." You respond. The corner of her mouth quirks upward at that reply.
"Naturally. Now, I'm anticipating a tense escape here, seeing as you're currently not being used as a living pincushion by my staff." ___________
Okay, so, you've got who knows how many fairies looming overhead who are all very eager to maim you in a variety of interesting an painful ways. Also, there's a worrying amount of fire spreading through the grass. It's not especially dangerous to you, but it's certain to draw even more attention.
You reach down to your belt and unclip a flashbang. One fairy, distinguished from her peers by an ill-fitting wooden helmet, points her spear at you. "Son of a bitch must pay!" She cries, and the horde descends upon you as one, roaring obscenities and insults.
"I don't think so!" You yell back, pulling the pin and flinging the grenade into the dirt before you run like hell. They chase after you, of course, but their assault falters once the flashbang explodes with its titular blinding flash and ear-piercing BANG. Their confused screeching warms your heart as you blitz past the gate and beat feet through the main gardens. You've somehow the presence of mind to note that it's really quite beautiful here, but you've no time to stop and enjoy the sights. The main doorway to the mansion's lobby is straight ahead, but that's the most obvious avenue of escape and you'll likely be followed. Paths run through the gardens and around the building, and you can likely find an entrance to servant's quarters and the like that way.
"Oi!" A dense shrub whispers from next to you, and you jerk your gaze towards the offending greenery. "Geddin here!" It beckons. You stare at it uncomprehendingly. "We ain't got all day!" The bush urges. "They'll never find you in here, trust me!"
"You're a talking piece of shrubbery." You point out.
"You don't say?" It hisses back. ___________
[ ] Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! By which I mean bust through the front door.
[ ] Circle around and find a side entrance or window you can slip through or break open.
[ ] This bush is making a surprising amount of sense. Take it up on its offer!
File 136238214597.jpg - (427.76KB, 550x660, okay it's only the one on the left but THIS W.jpg)
"Incoming!" You warn, and dive straight into the bush. You smack right into the source of the mysterious voice and end up lying on top of it, and find yourself staring at a pair of sunglasses attached to an angry girl's face.
"Y'know, when I told you to get in, I didn't mean leap." She hisses, her turquoise hair and big floppy brown ears spilling around as she glares at you. You hold a finger up to your mouth as your pursuers start roaring overhead, the lot of them bellowing a variety of colorful insults.
"Yeah, maybe you can wait until they're gone before you ream me?" You whisper back, and she bites her tongue as the swarm soars through the sky. You glance downwards at this girl's dress, a dark one that goes down to mid-thigh with skulls and crossbones and other such ornaments embroidered upon it. She's wearing matching stockings and shoes too, no less! You take all this in and deliver the only appropriate response.
"So there's a little goth girl hiding in a bush." You muse. "Now why would that be the case?"
"Vampires have no taste for heavy metal, that's why." She complains. "You sing loud enough to accidentally break all the windows in the room one time and then they have their maid start trying to shish-kabob ya." She winces. "Poor, poor Mystia."
"Let me guess, shish-kabobbed?" You venture. She bites her lower lip.
"She kinda got her wings caught in a doorway while we were running away. I didn't see it happen, since I had the lead, but I definitely heard her yelling for me to come back and unstick her."
"And then I'm guessing you got to listen as they did their thing." You continue. She deliberately avoids your gaze.
"I'd already run too far. It... wasn't my finest moment." She says, regret lacing her voice.
"It happens." You steadfastly reply. "Now, seeing as we're currently pressed up against each other in a fashion usually reserved for the bedroom, I'm thinking we should introduce ourselves." The way her cheeks flush at your statement tells you that you've still got it.
"Smartass." She mutters, her eyes still fixated on a choice bit of shrub. "Get off me first, then we'll talk."
"Fair enough. I think they've left now, anyway." You reply, and rise up to your knees. She follows shortly afterwards, the two of you huddling close to remain concealed just in case there are any errant fey still around.
"The name's Kyouko." She states, looking you over with curiosity plain as day. "What about you, iron man?"
"AE-51262. A pleasure." You fire off. She blinks a few times as she takes that in.
"That's, uh, that's definitely a mouthful." She says, bewildered.
"I get that a lot." You reply. __________
"I'm going to have to make sure Meiling trims the bushes a bit when she's recovered." Remilia notes.
"You know, while we're on the subject, just what did happen to this Mystia?" You wonder. She pushes her hands against her cheeks and grins, looking the spitting image of a giddy schoolgirl.
"It was a thing of beauty." She gushes. "She'd dodged quite a few waves of knives and a pair of my spears, and I'll give her credit for quick reflexes, but then the idiot misjudged the width of a maintenance exit. Her face when we caught up! You really should have broken in earlier, just so you could've seen it!"
"I'm forced to assume you exacted righteous vengeance?" You query.
"Sakuya tied her up and carted her away somewhere." She replies, leaning back in her chair. "She said something about cooking grilled chicken for dinner tonight. The way that birdie's face paled when she heard was hilarious."
"That seems like it might be a bit too cruel." You point out. She waves a hand in dismissal.
"It'll teach that little twit not to break my windows again, won't it? Now, would you please continue?" __________
"So what'd you do to get all the guards so riled up, anyway?" Kyouko asks, resting her chin on both palms as she looks up at you.
"I got into a proper brawl with the gatekeeper, what else?"
She frowns. "If you beat her in a fair fight, then by all rights they'd let you through unharmed. You didn't do anything wrong, did you?"
"Oh." You grunt. "Well, I may have disengaged my limiters and gone full-out in what had previously been a purely physical match."
"Ah, you cheated!" She covers her mouth, eyes wide. "That's a big no-no! Now they're gonna shank you so much."
"Of course." You sigh. "So, seeing as you're already so close to freedom, why didn't you just fly over the walls earlier?"
"I could have either gone through the entire horde above us, or straight past that beefy wall of a gatekeeper. I, meanwhile, can shout really, really loudly and shoot off a bit of magic. I'd kinda resigned myself to hiding in here for the duration."
"Well, they're all chasing after me, and the guard's not going anywhere anytime soon." You tell her. "Now's probably going to be your best chance to break for it."
She's quiet for a few seconds as her eyes shut tight in thought. When they shoot open again, new resolve seems to flow through her. "You know what? I don't think I will."
"You what now." You blankly reply. She points a finger at you, figurative sparks dancing in her eyes.
"I ran because I knew I was outclassed, but you! Man, if you could win against Meiling in hand-to-hand, I'm sure you could beat up everyone here!"
"And you expect me to let you tag along because... why?" You question. She puffs her cheeks out and folds her arms, looking like a stubborn child being told she can't go out until she finishes her homework.
"I can be useful too, you know! Besides, if you're worried about me giving you away, then you wouldn't have gone straight through the front gate!"
"Point taken." You allow. "But I still don't see why I should let you follow me."
"Well, there's that little thing about how I could totally scream and lead everyone to you if you don't let me come along." She adds. Your eyebrow twitches.
"Wouldn't they stab you too?" You point out, but she shrugs.
"Eh, they'd pick you clean first. I could run while they were busy."
"You make a persuasive argument." You sigh. "Very well, I'll allow it."
She blinks once before grinning as she pumps both fists, teal eyes twinkling with delight. "Man, this'll be awesome!" She chirps. "I'm gonna be such a big hero when we get Mystia out!"
"Ah, ah! You can come along on one condition." You tut, and she activates the soulful puppy-dog eyes. "And that isn't going to work, by the way."
"Darn." She mutters, looking put-out for only a second before fixing you with a serious look. "Well, okay, whaddya got for me?"
"You can only come along if you promise to obey any orders I may give you. I can't afford to let you jeopardize my mission here." You explain.
"Fair enough." She immediately accepts, but then a shrewd look enters her eyes. "Now, you know what I'm up to, but I don't know what you're here for. That's, what do you call it... Ah! Pertinent information, yeah!"
"Oh, that's simple." You reply. "I'm here to steal Remilia Scarlet's heart."
She blinks once, and then the biggest grin you've ever seen crawls onto her face. "Ohmygod!" She squeals, squashing her cheeks between her hands. "That's so romantic!"
"Ah, no. I mean her actual heart." You correct her. "As in, I am going to plunge my hand into her chest and rip out the organ that would, were she alive and not a vampire, be pumping blood through her veins."
Your new partner freezes in place as if suddenly put into stasis. Her wide, unblinking eyes bore into you for several long seconds as the blood rushes from her face. "That's not very romantic at all." She whispers, aghast.
"That's the point." You shrug. __________
"You do realize that wouldn't be enough to kill me." Remilia tells you, a contemptuous smirk plastered on her countenance.
"That's only step one!" You happily retort. "It's part of a multiple phase plan that includes copious amounts of fire and some heavy artillery."
"This plan assumes that you somehow break free and catch me off of my guard, of course." She counters.
"Well, true." You admit. "But you've won, haven't you? I mean, you've got me tied up, and all my gear seems to have disappeared on me. I'd be hard-pressed to do any harm to you right now."
Remilia actually, physically, snorts at that. It's incredibly undignified. "Okay, now that you've said that I just know you've got some master-plan laid out, and I just haven't figured it out yet." She says, smirk widening as she peers down at you. You tilt your head sideways and stare back.
"Maybe I do, maybe I don't. You'll have to let me finish to find out." You shrug. "Now, shall I continue?" ___________
"Okay, normally, this would be the part where I run screaming away from you and your crazy plan to murder a really, really powerful vampire." Kyouko says, still warily eying you up after your previous explanation. "But, seeing as I've got a friend who needs rescued, I'll stick with you. Deal?"
"Deal." You reply. "Now, seeing as we're working together, I've got to ask. You know of any ways back in that won't lead to us running headfirst into a swarm of angry fairies?"
"Yeah, actually! I was starting to kinda panic when I was running and dodging all the maids, and it all kinda blurred together. I do remember bursting into this one back room and-"
"Finding a secret passage?" You interrupt, and she nods.
"Yeah! How'd you know?"
"Vampires have a startling tendency to place hidden tunnels in rooms that are out of the way, compared to most other supernatural beings." You explain. "It seems Miss Scarlet is no different."
"Right! So, anyway, I got this door to open up and so I ran into the tunnel. It was pitch black and everything, but I stumbled on through. When I hit the end it just opened up for me and I fell out behind the mansion, but the skies were covered so I circled around towards the front gate and hid in here. I was just about to head out when you showed up, woke Meiling, and got all the guards going stir-crazy." She gives you a disgruntled look. "Thanks for that, by the way."
"Not a problem." You reply, and she smacks a hand into her face. "Anyway, can you show me where you got out?"
"Yeah, not a problem." She hops out first, and you wait a few seconds to ensure that if any guards remain they'll go after her instead.
"What's the hold-up?" She calls back after a few seconds, and you take that as your signal to jump out after her.
"Just checking over my equipment." You casually lie. The skies are utterly clear of any fairy presence, and you guess that the lot of them just got so caught up in chasing after you that they didn't really plan out where to go. "Shall we?"
"Right." She says, an eyebrow quirked upward. "Just follow me and I'll lead you to it."
She spins on a heel and takes off down the rightmost path. You give chase as quietly as you can, eyes on the sky in order to catch any stragglers. Thankfully you remain unmolested, and soon enough you've rounded half the mansion. Your guide comes to a halt near an otherwise unremarkable section of wall and starts patting around in search of a possible trigger, so you take the opportunity to relax against a tree as she works.
"Come on, baby, come on." She mutters, steadily covering the entire brick wall.
"You're sure this is the right spot?" You ask, and she scowls at you over her shoulder.
"Of course I'm sure! It's gotta be this spot, I remember seeing that tree behind you when I got out." She returns to her search after saying that. You keep watch while she does her work, and after half a minute with no luck she flings her arms out in exasperation.
"I don't get it!" She complains, turning to face you with a frustrated expression on her face. She falls back against the wall and holds her face in her hands, and a despairing groan starts to escape her lips when she's interrupted by the wall behind her suddenly opening up. Bereft of any support, she yelps and flails wildly as she falls backwards into the hole. You walk up to the portal and peer in at the prone girl as she pulls herself back up to her feet.
"You hurt?" You question once she's back upright.
"Just my butt." She casually replies, dusting off the hem of her skirt. You twist and sidle past her into the dark depths of the tunnel, and her footfalls behind you tell she's following. __________
"You'd think I'd remember ordering that passageway built." Remilia mutters beneath her breath.
"Hey, I'm not complaining." You reply. She shoots a dirty look your way.
"Did I tell you to stop?" She questions, voice stern. "I want to know where you came out so I can have the blasted thing sealed."
"Since the alternative is you taking my head off, why not?" You acquiesce. __________
Well, considering one of the MC's orders is to spread disinformation as to the power of his organization and as to his purpose and actions in infiltrating the Mansion, most of it may be simply bullshitting.
"Why'd you even come here, anyway?" You ask, steadily advancing through the depths. Sadly, while your helmet has a built-in nightvision module, that relies on there still being light for it to amplify in the first place. In pitch-darkness like this, you have to resort to just feeling your way along right now.
"I came to buck the System!" Kyouko cheerily replies, somehow managing a beaming smile you can feel.
"And, let me guess, vampires are a big part of that." You dryly question.
"Of course! They get all stooped up in ancestors and sucking blood and storing a bunch of ancient wines that they're never going to actually drink! Now, you tell me, doesn't that sound just like the Establishment?"
"I'm forced to agree." You admit. "Now, how did you get in here? I don't think they'd let you snoop around just so you could wreak havoc."
"I know some people." She replies, trying to lend an enigmatic air to things. "They distracted Meiling long enough for us to slip in."
"Interesting." With that, you shut up. The two of you continue onwards for a short while longer before the kid speaks up again.
"So, uh, why're you here to kill Remilia, anyway? That's a pretty big deal, y'know."
"Orders are orders." You'd shrug, but it would be a pointless gesture in the darkness.
"Oho, you're a military goon?" There's an edge to her tone now. "How's it been, working for the burgouise? Been oppressing any upstanding citizens lately?"
"First off, it's bourgeois." You correct, and she audibly chokes. "Anyway, if you count anarchists, pirates, rebels, and other such dregs of society as upstanding citizens, then yes." You pause a moment before pressing on. "As an aside, if you actually do think those aforementioned scum are admirable then I need to have a talk with your parents because they are terrible role-models."
"Don't you be talking smack about my Ma'n'Pa, fool." She warns, but then you can almost hear her droop. "...Is what I'd say if I actually knew them."
"Ah, so you're a sad little orphan girl!"
"What? No!" She says, a tad too defensively. "At least, not the sad part!"
"It would definitely explain the gothic look." You mutter.
"Look, why are we even talking about this?"
"You brought it up first." You point out.
"Well, it doesn't matter, so drop it!"
"Tetchy, much?" You needle. A wordless noise of anger emerges from her throat, so you figure it's time to let up. "Okay, fine, I'll lay off."
"Thank you." She says, voice weary. Her footsteps stop for a moment and you follow suit. It's quiet for a second before she grabs you by the shoulder. "Are... are we going downhill, or is it just me?"
You quickly retrace your steps in your head and realize she's right. "Maybe we split off into a different tunnel?" You offer. "This is probably better in the long run. If anyone saw you get into that first passage, they might have stationed a welcoming party there. Coming out somewhere else gives us the element of surprise."
"I guess." She grudgingly admits, and you shake loose from her grip. The two of you progress onwards for only a short while longer before you smack face-first into a wall. Cursing your lack of a flashlight, you reach down and retrieve the Digger from your belt.
"Dead end?" The kid asks.
"Looks like it." You reply, and she chuffs in annoyance. "You might want to take a step back." You add, readying the tool for action.
"Wh-" She begins, and then you hold down on the trigger. The whole tunnel lights up as pure energy shoots out from the device and starts liquefying solid rock. "Okay, that's pretty awesome!" She adds, but you fail to respond in favor of continuing to melt a path. You've tunneled for almost a minute straight before you break a gap that lets light leak inside your makeshift hole.
"Getting somewhere." You mutter, steadily widening your exit. Half a minute later you've got a hole big enough to step through, and you advance with your digger at the ready just in case something nasty jumps out.
It's fairly dark in here, stray lanterns on the walls providing just enough light to see by. Stuffed animals and toys and other such diverse items are scattered across the ground, with gratuitous amounts of pink furniture to match. There are plenty of doors spread across the room, presumably leading further into the depths. All in all, it looks the mirror image of a room that any small girl might have, save for the massive four-poster bed and its occupant. A small blonde girl lies asleep beneath its covers, clutching a stuffed bear close to her pajama-clad chest. Poking out from her back are a pair of wooden, branch-like wings that extend outwards a good three or four feet. A rainbow-colored section of lights dangle from them, and all together they remind you of Christmas decorations.
"Yo, what's the holduooohmygod." Kyouko gapes, having followed you into the bedroom. All the blood drains from her face as she presses up against the wall, eyes fixated on the sleeping vampire opposite you. "Yeah, uh, maybe we should go back." She whispers, deathly pale as she tries to meld into the wall.
"If she wakes up, she'll check out the tunnel." You stoically reply. "Vampires can see in the dark, whereas we can't. Think about how quickly she'd catch up."
"Oh." She swallows. "Uh. Yeah. Good point."
"All we have to do is stay quiet and we're clear." You whisper, clamping your free hand down on hers. The sudden contact serves to steady the girl's nerves, and she swallows a lump in her throat.
Flandre Scarlet murmurs something beneath her breath, and then she cracks an eyelid open.
"Hell." You grunt. __________
"I'll give you points for ingenuity, but this is the part where an intruder would normally die. Seeing as you're still alive, however, that only leaves me so many possibilities." Remilia cuts in, her voice ice-cold. She reclines, statuesque, on her throne, her unblinking glare boring into you. "If you so much as scratched her..." She lingers on that, the meaning abundantly clear.
"Well, I didn't." You interrupt. Your admission fails to rattle her in the slightest. "She wasn't my target anyway, so this was just an unfortunate coincidence."
One blood-red orb blearily searches around for whatever disturbed her rest, and it locks right in on you. It slowly, slowly widens as she takes in the sight of you in all your looming terror.
This can either go really badly, or really well. You slowly holster the digger before you raise a hand and wave. "...Hello?"
She bolts upright with a high-pitched shriek, clutching the stuffed animal tight as if it were a shield. "I knew it!" She cries, pointing a shaky finger in your direction. "I knew there were monsters hiding in the walls!"
"Uh." You eloquently begin, and then you catch a face full of bear.
"Go away!" Flandre yelps, drawing the covers up to her chin once she sees her improvised bear assault does nothing to you. "I'll call Sis, I will! Then you'll be sorry!"
"Hold on, hold on!" You urge, raising your hands in what you hope is a placating manner. "We're not here to hurt you!" Unless you plan on taking her home with you, in which case you probably are going to have to hurt her. You sigh, momentarily pondering the ethical implications of abduction missions that concern small magical children.
"...Wait, really? You promise?" The aforementioned child hesitantly pipes up, a suspicious look in her eyes.
"Cross my heart, hope to die." You reply, making the requisite gesture over your chest. You're just thankful she's too frazzled from her rude awakening to remember that she could annihilate you just by clenching her fist.
"What he said!" Kyouko hurriedly adds, matching your gesture.
"Oh." Flandre carefully lowers her blanket, apprehension clearly evident in the way she moves. She squints at the two of you. "Okay, lemme correct myself. There's one giant hulking monster, and then... Then there's this lil' spaghetti." Her eyebrows knit together as she tries to place a name to the girl who is currently trying her damndest to melt back into the walls.
"Kyouko Kasodani pleasure to meet you please don't explode me." The kid rambles, nigh-petrified by the vampire studying her.
"Explode y-" The blonde begins, uncomprehending, before her eyes suddenly light up. "Oh, yeah!"
"That thing where you can clench your fist and kill things, yes." You interject, mentally cursing your companion for that slip-up. Your words draws the vampire's attention back to you, and she hops out of bed with a new spring in her step. Any previous traces of fright have vanished with the revelation that, yes, she can explode you.
"How'd you even get in here, anyway?" She asks, having skipped (actually SKIPPED) on over to you. You crane your head to stare down at this kid who barely comes up to your chest.
"I came out of the walls." You thumb at the spot you crashed through. "Where else?"
She immediately traipses over to the aforementioned hole before poking her head into the depths. "Y'think I would've figured out that was there after all these years down here." She wonders, voice echoing into the depths.
"Well, it wasn't. I just dug my way in." You admit, patting the digger at your belt.
"Ah, that'd do it!" She pops out again, looking back up at you in curiosity.
"Yeahokaycanwegonowplease?" Kyouko squeaks, and Flandre waves a hand towards an otherwise nondescript door.
"Through there, then hang a right at the first intersection, and there you go." She informs, and the twitchy girl soars past the two of you and through the doorway in a flash.
"I'll give her points for speed." You admire. "But if my intel's correct, I think she's about to run into a bit of a problem right about..."
"It's not opening!" Comes the wail from the background.
"Now." You finish.
"You're supposed to push!" Flandre shouts back. There's quiet for a moment, then the creaking of a metal door.
"Oh!" There's the startled reply. "Yeah, that did it! Thanks!"
"Does that happen a lot?" You ask, idly fingering your Arc Thrower as Flandre looks back up at you.
"More than you'd think!" She replies, surprisingly chipper for someone who just had a tank of a man burst into their room. Her eyes dart to the ultra-powerful tazer on your belt, and she leans closer to inspect it. "What's that supposed to be, anyway?"
Your hand clenches around the weapon's handle, but you hesitate in pulling it loose. You're certain you could drop her right now and she should stay down for several hours, but if anyone decides to check down here and discovers your work, things could get complicated.
"I really should get going, but..." You thumb the trigger. __________
SECRET CHOICE! (The Operative will omit this part in his retelling.)
[ ] "Let me demonstrate!" Arc Throw the living daylights out of Flandre and then plant a hidden demolition charge while she's incapacitated. If you later reveal this to Remilia, it'll either make for an impressive bargaining chip or get her mad enough to castrate you. Hopefully, the former.
[ ] "You really don't want to know." You've got a good thing going here so far, what with having this incredibly dangerous vampire not wanting to wipe you from existence. Try to keep it that way.
File 136321715629.jpg - (259.70KB, 600x800, more flan because i don't have a better image.jpg)
No, this isn't the right time. You gently move your hand away from the weapon before anything unfortunate happens. "Tell you what, I'll show you how it works on my way out. That good for you?"
"It looks like something for stabbing, so as long as you don't try to poke me with it I think we're good!" Flandre beams up at you, and while she's disarmingly adorable you remind yourself that one slip-up could mean your doom.
"Oh, no, no no no, I'd never do that." You reply, clasping your hands together (and coincidentally, far away from that weapon.) "After all, you've been a good girl, right?"
"Yeah!" Her sudden enthusiasm is both worrying and infectious. "Haven't blown up anyone for the past... year or so?"
"Ergo, no stabbing." You continue.
"Good! I've been knifed before and, lemme tell ya, it really hurts." She's a definite knack for stating the obvious.
"You don't say?"
"I do say." She replies, eyebrows raised up.
"An excellent rebuttal." You admit, and almost as an afterthought grab the bear that got thrown into your face when you first showed up. "By the way, toy animals don't make for effective throwing weapons." Advice dispensed, you thrust the thing out to the kid. She promptly snatches the stuffed animal from you and wraps her arms around it.
"You'd throw one too if you woke up and saw a creepy guy lurking in your room." She pouts.
"Not creepy, intimidating." You correct, and smack a fist against your chest with a resounding THUNK. "I'm built to strike fear into my enemies!"
"And into the hearts of girls trying to get a nap in." She replies, voice flat. "Besides, don't those two words mean the same thing?"
"Intimidating is reserved for staring down a hungry bear and other such situations. Creepy, meanwhile, is for things like a swarm of spiders suddenly crawling out of the walls." You pause on that note, and then deliberately turn to look at the hole you came out of. Flandre follows suit, a distinctly worried expression gracing her features.
"Well, now I've got that idea in my head." She grumbles, giving you a displeased look. "Thanks a lot, y'jerk."
"Sorry." You reply, sheepishly rubbing the back of your head. "If it's any consolation, remember that you can fly!"
"Which would be great except for the part when they get to the ceiling and start falling all over me. Ugh." She shudders, hugging the bear tighter.
Any further conversation is interrupted when Kyouko pops her head around the doorway with, sunglasses askew and the girl herself looking extremely spooked. "Hey so uh do you plan on actually leaving any time soon or what, because we've been down here way too long." She breathes out, words directed at you but eyes fixated on Flandre.
"It hasn't even been three minutes." You point out.
"Like I said, too long." She scurries right back out of sight.
"I get the feeling she doesn't like me all that much." The blonde says, looking rather put out by that whole exchange.
"Can't imagine why." You reply, heading for the door. "But, on that note, I really should get going!"
"Bye!" She waves one hand, smiling brightly. "Don't forget to come back when you're done doing whatever you're here to do! And try not to let Remi catch you, 'cause I'm pretty sure she'd be mad about all this!"
"It's not a problem if she does grab me." You assure her. "I'm sure we'll get along just fine!" __________
"I can't help but notice the irony." Remilia chuckles.
"Save it for when I get to the part where I'm actually caught." You retort. She makes an airy gesture in response.
"Fine. So you tunnel into my dear sister's room, waking her up from a mid-morning nap in the process, and instead of being eviscerated... the two of you then have a pleasant chat? That's really all that happened?"
"Quite." You serenely reply. She peers down at you, searching for any hint of lies, but it's hard to get a reading of someone when all you've got to go off of is a voice.
"I suppose you caught her in a good mood." She finally admits, smiling wistfully. "She really is a dear girl... most of the time."
"Most of the time?" You parrot. She quirks a brow upwards in response.
"You honestly can't expect me to believe that you don't know about how erratic she can be? You must have done some research before you broke in."
"I read up on her, yes." You admit. "The Hieda girl's report seems more than a little inaccurate, now that I've had to chance to meet your sister in person."
"I fail to see why you'd trust anything that paranoid fear-monger has to say." Remilia says, eyes narrowed.
"I make do with what I have." You'd shrug, were it possible.
An explosion rumbles off in the background, followed by the distant sound crumbling masonry.
"Oh my God, can't they stop destroying the place for one minute? The repair bill is going to be enormous." The vampire groans, shutting her eyes as she leans back in her chair. She's quiet for a few seconds more before she refocuses on you. "They must really want me dead if they're essentially declaring war like this. All this noise is bound to attract attention, however, and then..." She licks her lips, a sudden predatory look in her eyes. "Well, then it's only a matter of time before hell rains down."
"That would be bad." You admit. __________
Kyouko waits for you at the top of the basement stairwell, leaning against the wall by the steel door that closes the underground off from the rest of the mansion.
"So, do you usually press your luck by sticking around insane vampires?" She asks, an unreadable expression on her face.
"She was surprisingly friendly." You reply. "It ran against my expectations."
"All our limbs getting ripped off." You casually reply.
"Ah." She pales slightly. "Then maybe we should go before she changes her mind and does, yeah?"
"Good idea." You push the door open and step out into a hallway proper, your tagalong following close behind. The hall is ridiculously huge, the ceiling hundreds of feet above you, stained glass windows letting beams of light stream through. They're placed just high enough that the sun only lands on the walls, leaving plenty of shade to pass through. Not spying any particular landmarks, you pick a random direction and take off running.
"Oi, hold up!" Kyouko calls out after you, but you steadfastly ignore her. A few bends and turns later, you find yourself at an intersection, and the kid skids to a halt behind you. She opens her mouth, doubtlessly to lob recriminations your way. but stops as her ears twitch. She holds a finger up to her mouth. "Footsteps." She whispers, brows creasing. "Sounds like... only one person. Down the right. They'll be here in... half a minute?"
"Nice ears." You compliment. "Now, don't worry, I'll handle this."
She shuffles back as you press against the wall, listening to the padding footsteps grow ever closer.
They're three steps away.
You burst out in front of an incredibly surprised fairy guard, grab her by the neck, and drag your victim back behind cover in the span of one second. You slam the unfortunate trooper up against the wall, and her crude iron sword clatters to the ground as she dangles in the air. You lean in until your faces touch.
"What do I need to break to make you talk?" You whisper.
"N-n-no, don't! Please!" She stammers, pure terror in her eyes. You glance over at Kyouko and jerk your head towards your hostage. The punk-rocker hesitantly makes her way over, clearly perturbed by your method of interrogation.
"Uh, hi!" She says, giving your victim an apologetic wave. "I'm really sorry about this, but have you seen my friend anywhere? Dressed kinda like me, but with bird wings and a nice hat? Possibly being carted off somewhere by the head maid?"
Your hostage shakes her head negative and Kyouko throws her hands up in disgust.
"Where's Remilia?" You question.
"What? No! I can't-" You immediately tighten your grip, and the hapless grunt frantically claws at the hand cutting off her air.
"You will." You growl, keeping the pressure on for a moment longer before loosening your stranglehold.
"The tower!" She chokes out, desperation writ across her face. "S-she went to the clock tower!"
"What about the other guards? How many have passed through here?"
"We've got several squads on patrol in this section! Orders are to lock the entire mansion down until we find you!" Tears well up in the corners of her eyes. "I don't know anything else, let me go!"
"I think you should take a nap." You advise, applying a chokehold, and after a few moments of terrified struggling she goes limp. You gently lay her down and glance over at your tagalong.
"I figured you were good at oppressing the working-class." She says, giving you a look of marked disapproval.
"And you assume I care what you think." You retort. "Just be happy I only knocked her out." __________
"So you terrorized one of my security team and... not much else. That was a lot of talk for very little actually happening." Remilia yawns, eyes half-lidded from boredom.
"You wanted the whole story." You point out.
"Just skip to the part where you end up assaulting another one of my staff, would you?" __________
It's been a quiet ten minutes, aimlessly trudging through the twisting halls of the mansion. Your intelligence on the building's innards aren't nearly as up to date as you'd like, and you place the blame squarely on that chief maid's time/space abilities. Another quick ambush and interrogation nets you the directions to the clock tower and some more information on guard movements.
"So do you plan on choking out everyone who might see us or what?" Kyouko wonders once you hide the body, lowering her shades to give you a disapproving look.
"Yes." You reply, not missing a beat. "What can I say? It works."
She stays quiet after that, and the two of you traverse onwards until you come across a pair of fantastically large wooden doors stretching all the way to the ceiling. The massive portals have a sign at around chest-level, reading 'Library. Do Not Disturb.'
You rub your armored chin contemplatively as you stare up at the doors. The library is known to you as the stronghold to none other than Patchouli Knowledge, a witch boasting considerable arcane might and embarrassingly little physical strength. If you went in, you could likely beat the tar out of the magician before she knew what hit her.
"You don't plan on going in there, do you?" Your companion asks, brows raised, but you pay her no heed while you think. __________
[ ] Stop in and take care of the witch while you're here. You want to whittle resistance down as much as possible before the main event.
[ ] Stay on target for the clock tower. The sooner you get to Remilia, the sooner you can get back out and finish this whole operation.
[ ] You have a different destination in mind. [WRITE-IN]
Sorry about the delay on this one! Things kept popping up and I lost motivation for a little bit. Back in now, though! __________
"We're going in." You decide, stepping up to the massive doors.
"Yeah, uh, maybe you shouldn't go bother the powerful witch and oh who am I kidding you're going to do it no matter what I say." Kyouko groans, resigned, as you give both doors a mighty push. You stumble when they open with ease unfitting the two behemoths, but when you right yourself the sight before you takes your breath away.
The room ahead is huge. A vast assortment of bookshelves, all fully stocked, rise towards a massive donut-shaped balcony that serves as a ceiling hundreds of feet above you. Even more of the library can be seen through that gap in the roof, and it just seems to keep going and going and going as far as you can see. Fairies dart through the air in the distance, some of them no more than specks at this range. A red carpet covers the main path towards the heart of this enormous repository of knowledge, and plastered on the side of a nearby bookcase is a map.
"Ho-lee crap, this place is big." Kyouko says, squinting up at the ceiling as if trying to activate some latent x-ray vision. You advance towards the map and study it.
"According to this, we're at the main entrance." You say.
"Never would've guessed." The kid dryly replies.
"Hey, I'm just reading what it says." You retort, quickly memorizing the guide. "Anyway, Knowledge's study is the centerpiece of this place. Appropriate, I suppose." You step back and look up at the towering bookcases.
"Okay, I got that. What's the plan, big man?" Your sidekick asks, rocking back and forth on her heels.
"Think I'll climb up and get a lay of the land, then I'll head for the center and take the witch down." You pause, then tilt your head as you look at the girl. "Also, did you rhyme on purpose?"
"Girl's gotta have fun somehow." She shrugs.
"Right." You spare no further words as you start scaling the massive bookcase. You do so by jumping upwards, catching the next shelf, regaining your footing and repeating the process. Soon enough you breach one-hundred feet, then two, then three, and you just keep steadily propelling yourself higher and higher. As you climb, Kyouko keeps pace by floating next to you.
"Enjoying yourself?" The little goth smugly asks, arms folded behind her head as she ascends at a steady clip.
"It's good exercise." You reply. "Next time, though, I think I'll just take a jetpack."
She double-takes, her ascent momentarily halting. "Hold up, hold up, you've got those?"
"I'm a man in an advanced power-suit, and you're surprised by that?" You ask, jumping up another story.
"Just because you got one doesn't mean you have the other." She replies once she catches back up with you.
"Point taken." You allow. "To answer your question, yes, I do have access to jetpacks. However, this suit's too bulky. The best I could get is several seconds of air-time before they'd kick out on me."
"You ever think about letting the kappa take a look at them, then?" She prods. "They'd go nuts about something like that."
"Do I look like a traitor to you?" You jump again, and now all you have to do is pull yourself up to solid ground. Naturally, this is the point where a fairy clad in crude armor peeks over the ledge. The two of you stare at each other for a few seconds before Kyouko raises a hand and waves.
"Yo." She smoothly greets. "How's things?"
"...Good?" The sentry responds, taking a step back as she goes for the hand-axe at her side. "Am I going to have to use this?"
"No." You reach out, grab the guard by the leg, and pull her over the ledge. She tries to right herself mid-fall, but thanks to momentum she ends up smashing headfirst into the bookshelf opposite you. Her senses knocked loose, she bounces between the bookshelves all the way down.
"Ouch" Your companion winces as you clamber up to the top.
This area doesn't seem to be heavily patrolled, so that take-down hasn't alerted anyone. Still, you don't want to linger. You take a step back as you size up the distance between the shelves. They appear to be roughly twenty feet apart from each other, so you shouldn't have any problems.
"Try to keep up." You say, launching into a sprint. You sprint straight ahead and launch yourself off the edge of your current platform. You soar through the air and make a smooth landing on the next bookcase.
"Oi, stop going so faaaast!" Kyouko angrily calls after you as you speed off. You effortlessly bound from platform to platform, burning a path straight for your next target. __________
"Honestly, what is it with you vampire hunters when it comes to attacking my minions? They're people too, you know!" Remilia asks, indignant.
"When you use the word minion, I can't help but feel you don't care that much." You say.
"And you'd be right!" She admits, utterly shamelessly. "But they still work for me, and getting their heads cracked open leads to lower morale, and then they start to mope around, then I get angry at them for not working harder, and then depression starts to set in and it just goes on and on and on!" She pauses to take a deep breath of air before continuing. "And anyway, it's really just one large, vicious cycle that men like you only serve to perpetuate!"
You stare. She fidgets a little.
"How long have you been holding that little rant in?" You ask, after several uncomfortable seconds seconds pass.
"Too long." She sighs, pressing a hand against her forehead. "Now, where were you?"
"About to meet your friend, the witch?" You prod.
"Patchy, yes." She says, eyes narrowing. "I suppose it's too much to hope you didn't maim her?" __________
You skid to a halt near the ledge of this last shelf that looks down at the heart of the library. The study itself has a moderate contingent of maids and guards fluttering around, but what really interests you is the woman seated at the center of it all. You crouch down and pull out your binoculars to take a better look.
Patchouli Knowledge, the One-Week Witch (among other titles), is currently poring over her books. She looks utterly unconcerned with her surroundings, letting her security detail handle such trivial things as situational awareness. A red-haired woman, distinguished by the bat-wings extending from her head and back, deposits a stack of books on the witch's table before heading out.
"You know, we could still just head back out right now." Kyouko says, dangling her legs over the ledge. "They haven't seen us yet, after all."
"I've already come this far." You reply, lowering your binoculars for a moment. "I don't plan on this being a waste of time."
Any response is cut off when a chunk of the far side of the library's wall explodes. You bring your binoculars back up and immediately focus on this new development, catching sight of a blonde girl in a black-white dress and witch hat blazing through the air on a broom. Multi-colored stars trail behind her, exploding when they hit any solid surface.
"YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Whoops this new intruder, tearing through the skies at a phenomenal rate. Guards are scrambling to the air, but every single one is shot down the moment they get in range.
"Kirisame. Of course." You grumble, rising to your feet. Stray stars fly past, and Kyouko yelps as one nearly bashes her upside the head. "This complicates things."
"You think?" The girl hisses, now taking shelter behind you. The blonde witch dives down between the shelves and out of sight, so you check back on Patchouli. She's risen up now, a book floating ahead of her outstretched hand as she chants something. Her personal security detail has split off into three groups to blockade all the ground pathways to the study. Not that it does them much good when Marisa bowls straight through one group like a wrecking ball. While the other two squads converge on her in a surprisingly efficient display of teamwork, she reaches into her dress and withdraws a pair of flasks, one in each hand. She pitches both into the mob with unerring accuracy, and the explosion that results sends them all flying.
Her minions bought Patchouli enough time to finish her spell, and the purple witch unleashes a massive jet of water straight into the her opponent's face. The force of the spray sends the blonde flying back out of sight, but Patchouli keeps the blast up for the next ten seconds before letting it die down. Almost the moment she does, Marisa comes barreling back in on her broom. Patchouli executes a surprisingly agile twirl out of the way, and as the two continue brawling you think your options over.
"So..." Kyouko begins, looking down at the ongoing fight. "I put my full support behind the plan that lets them duke it out while we get outta here. Whaddya say?"
"Hm." You grunt.
"Please let that be a yes." She pleads. __________
[X] Let Kyouko borrow one of your guns in case things go pear-shaped. -[X] While they aren't looking, set them up the bomb. --[X] Casual, unhurried entry. ---[X] "...Ladies."
Taking them out while they aren't looking is effective, of course; but our integrity dictates that we face them, look them in the eye, maybe exchange a little (mis)information before we start cheating furiously.
[X] Let Kyouko borrow one of your guns in case things go pear-shaped. [X] While they aren't looking, set them up the bomb. [X] Help yourself to some of the rarer magical tomes that might interest command. Knowledge is Power [X] Casual, unhurried entry. [X] "...Ladies."
[X] Let Kyouko borrow one of your guns in case things go pear-shaped. [X] While they aren't looking, set them up the bomb. [X] Help yourself to some of the rarer magical tomes that might interest command. Knowledge is Power [X] Casual, unhurried entry. [X] "...Ladies."
[X] Let Kyouko borrow one of your guns in case things go pear-shaped. -[X] While they aren't looking, set them up the bomb. --[X] Casual, unhurried entry. ---[X] "...Ladies."
Even if we steal a book it will not be there in present time I mean: Ohh, he got a rare magical tome on him. I wonder where that came from. And they probably took it right away. And it will probably not please Remilia that we are now also a thief. We should stay with our objective and carry out our mission. Even though we know we failed and got wraped upp.
>say I'm back in after week-long dry spell >take even longer for next update
I didn't really have many chances to write this past week, sorry! Sick family members took up most of my time. Everything's better now, so the update train should be rolling just fine. __________
You pull your autopistol free and thrust it out, handle-first, towards Kyouko. "In case things go pear-shaped down there, I want you to use this." You say. She looks at the weapon as if it were a rabid animal set on biting her face off.
"No, sir, I don't like it!" She frowns, her arms crossing each other in a slashing, pushing away gesture. "Not sure if you've noticed, but I'd like to get out of here without becoming, y'know, a murderer."
"Unless I'm mistaken, spellcard rules make all weapons non-lethal." You say.
"You still have to declare a duel for that to kick in, man!" She counters, eyes narrowed. "Takes too long, given what we're up to. I'm not seeing any upsides compared to just regular ol' magic."
"Well, anything you point that at will die." She blanches, so you raise a hand. "Or be buried underneath an unrelenting bulletstorm of magic. Either way, we win."
She gives the weapon a hesitant look, and then reluctantly takes it from you.
"Now remember to keep the safety on and your finger on the trigger-guard until you actually plan on firing, otherwise you'll probably shoot yourself in the foot." You instruct, pointing out the weapon's features as you do so. "Also, the recoil is hideous if you just hold the trigger and go full-auto, so you'll want to stick with short, controlled bursts."
You give her a quick run-down on other important bits, and after a brief minute of instruction she seems to have gotten the hang of the basics. She's still obviously uncomfortable with the gun, but at the very least you're confident she won't freak out and spew gunfire everywhere.
Checking back in on the witches reveals the two still going at it. Surprisingly enough, Patchouli seems to have the upper hand, pressing Marisa hard with seemingly endless barrages of fire and water. She's showing no signs of stopping anytime soon, either.
"Right, I think I'd better head on down." You say, pulling a demolition pack free and priming it.
"Oh my God, AE." Kyouko rasps, eyeballs bulging out as they bore into the explosive in your hand.
"A bomb." You concur, withdrawing the device's matching detonator and flicking the guard open with your thumb. The cherry-red button only needs a gentle push for a disproportionately huge bang in return. "Now, I want you to circle around and remain on stand-by in case they try anything when I talk with them."
"So, you're setting up a bomb beforehand, and then you're gonna have a little chat with two people who are going to try to blast you to bits." She flings her arms out, exasperated. "Great plan, man! Or you could be sane and just detonate it while they're busy!"
"I'd rather infomine first." You say, putting the detonator back. "Granted, I'm likely going to be greeted with hostility regardless, which is why I want you in reserve! When they try something, just pop on out, take aim, and tell them to hold it. We should be fine from there."
"I fail to see an escape plan." She notes, fingers tightening around the pistol as she keeps glancing between you and down below.
"Well, we talk for a little while. Then I'll give you the order to hose them down with gunfire and I'll mix it up with some hand to hand." She's giving you an intensely disapproving look at that, so you raise your hands placatingly. "You can take a moment to declare a duel and make your bullets non-lethal, if that makes you feel any better."
"It does." She admits, her gaze softening. "But I still don't like this."
"Don't have to." You say. "Just stick with me and I'll help you get your friend out. After that, you're on your own." You spare no further words before you walk straight over the ledge.
"What wait no what the hell." She breathes out in disbelief as you free-fall to the ground.
The impact with the floor is bone-shaking, but you rise to your feet with little more than a grunt of discomfort. You pull the bomb loose, head over to the nearest bookcase, and discretely tuck it behind a copy of- "The Chemistry of Explosives." You mutter, an eyebrow raised. "Fitting."
The witches are currently out of sight, so you gingerly make your way to the massive oaken desk in the center of the study. There are plenty of spare chairs for any guests, but the biggest (and most heavily-padded) one lies right in front of the table. You take a seat in the magnificently fluffy chair that Patchouli had so recently vacated, lean back, kick your legs up on the table, fold your hands behind your head, and relax.
"WHARGHUBLURRR" Marisa roars a few seconds later, propelled by another jet of water through the bookshelf on your left. She flies straight across the study and right into another bookcase, scattering tomes across the ground. Patchouli steps out of the impromptu hole the blonde made, doorstopper of a book in hand, and strides towards the soaked witch with grim purpose. Marisa starts to pull herself up, but a focused lance of fire searing a hole through her hat jars the girl to a halt.
"When did you get so good, Patches?" The soaked girl starts, desperation seeping into her voice. "This wasn't how it was supposed to go!"
"Today is one of my better days." Patchouli says as she looms above the blonde, her cold eyes begetting no mercy.
"Oh God, no." Marisa wheezes in terror, scurrying backwards and bumping up against the shelf.
"In this library, Marisa, I am God." Patchouli grandly states, doom hanging off her every word. She rears back with that hefty tome, ill-intent plainly obvious.
"Wait, wait, wait!" The black-white desperately offers up, even as she raises her arms to shield her face. "If you let me go, I'll get your books back!" Patchouli looks upwards as she ruminates on that one.
"...Tempting, but I'd rather just hit you now." She decides, and the tome begins its brain-crushing descent. Marisa yelps as she tries to roll out of the way.
"Ladies." You casually greet, bringing everything to a shuddering halt. Patchouli's book stops inches away from her enemy's face as the purple-colored witch cranes her head to look at you.
"What the hell are you doing in my chair?" She asks, her grudge-match forgotten as she stalks over to you. Marisa pulls herself up and limps after her, a curious look in her eyes.
"It's very comfortable!" You compliment.
"Psst, you know this a-hole?" The blonde whispers, gawking at you from next to her newfound compatriot.
"Not in the slightest." Patchouli wonders, tilting her head as she glares at you.
"Well, I'm here to correct that!" You reply as you return your feet to the ground, straighten up, and lean ahead, resting your forearms on the table. "Name's AE-51262, under orders to terminate Remilia Scarlet. Figured I'd detour and have a little chat with you first, Knowledge."
The two exchange a meaningful glance. Without another word, the two train their foci upon you.
"Die." "Eat it!" Patchouli and Marisa, respectively, snarl, the duo charging up magical death.
There's the click of a safety disengaging, and Kyouko steps around a bookshelf and into view with her pistol trained on the witches. For all the advice you gave her, her hands still tremble as she tries to steady her aim. Patchouli remains locked on you, whereas Marisa spins and aims her octagonal focus at this new intruder.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you." Kyouko growls, making up for what she lacks in confidence with sheer vitriol. "Drop 'em before I blow your heads off."
"Yo?" Marisa casually replies, completely ignoring the order. "Do we know you?"
"You blasted me with a Master Spark once." Kyouko flatly says. Marisa spreads her palms and shrugs.
"You're gonna hafta gimme more to go off of than that, sis." She replies. "That mighta been pretty memorable for you, but to me? It was, uh... It was..." She trails off, tapping forefinger to chin as she thinks. Patchouli rolls her eyes.
"Tuesday, I think." Your sidekick helpfully prods.
"No, no, I'm pretty sure it was on the weekend." Marisa firmly declares. "Say, where d'you work, anyway? That might jog my memory."
"You think I'm stupid?" The kid snorts, lowering her gun for just a moment. Marisa immediately brings her focus to bear on your sidekick, whereas Patchouli thrusts her arm towards you, fire burning in the palm of her hand. You, meanwhile, take this as the perfect moment to draw the detonator.
"Ah, ah, ah!" You tut, rolling the deadly little thing back and forth across your fingers. "One more wrong move and I detonate the bomb!"
"The- the what now?!" Marisa hisses, shooting a sideways glance towards you. Kyouko's fingers twitch, but she stops herself from spraying the whole room down. Patchouli maintains her aim on you the whole time, her face the perfect image of serenity.
"A bomb's a bad choice for close-range combat." She calmly notes. "If the explosion would engulf us here, you would be caught inside the blast as well."
"That's where my armor comes in." You bluff. Your suit is a wonder of modern technology, but the best it could do in this situation would be to keep your mangled corpse packaged for the funeral. "Now, you can either have a seat and have a nice chat with me, or you can try something stup-"
"NOW!" Interrupts a new voice, and the redheaded assistant from earlier executes a magnificent diving tackle on Kyouko. As the two tumble to the ground, the kid accidentally pulls down on the pistol's trigger, causing the weapon to spray lead across the room. Marisa's caught by several stray bullets and goes down in a shrieking heap, and Patchouli goes completely white as one shot takes her hat clean off. A handful of bullets ping off your armor, but one lucky shot smashes right into the detonator and sends it flying from your grip; the top immediately clicks shut as a safety measure as it rolls along the ground, and you leap to your feet. Then Patchouli nails you full in the chest with a lance of fire, and the mere kinetic impact alone knocks you right back down, to say nothing about the scorch mark it left.
"Don't." She warns, flames dancing in her hand as she looms overhead.
"Geddoff!" Kyouko snarls, and a glance reveals a squad of fairies piling on top of the hapless girl and the redhead holding her down. The autopistol lies on the ground several feet away from her, far out of reach of both of you.
More guards keep streaming in with each passing second.
The witch's fingers twitch, the fire in her hands intensifying as the two of you stare at each other.
"This wasn't how it was supposed to go at all." You breathe out, and you can't help but feel very angry at how things happened.
"Next shot you get, don't waste time talking." Patchouli replies, eyes icy-cold. "Your move, rat." __________
[ ] They are about to see a maneuver that will change their view of the game! YOU SURRENDER!...long enough to lull them into a false sense of security!
>>56044 >"Oh my god, AE" >"A bomb's a bad choice for close-range combat." Only two references? What a shame
[JC] They are about to see a maneuver that will change their view of the game! YOU SURRENDER!...long enough to lull them into a false sense of security! Followed by bomb detonation and a swift retreat after recovering our bumbling sidekick.
[x] They are about to see a maneuver that will change their view of the game! YOU SURRENDER!...long enough to lull them into a false sense of security! Followed by bomb detonation and a swift retreat after recovering our bumbling sidekick.
>All those Deus Ex references remind me that I'd never gotten past the first go-round in Hell's Kitchen >Give it another go >SEVERAL DAYS LATER
"Wait, crap, I should probably work on an update!"
SO I DID
>have update mostly ready to go >reread it
"Wait a second this makes no sense"
>WELL DAMN >REWRITE
>DON'T ACTUALLY FINISH IT UNTIL NOW
[EXPLETIVE REDACTED] __________
So, you're surrounded by around forty fairies, a witch has a fireball ready to engulf you, your sole ally is being held hostage, and another witch is bleeding all over the floor thanks to stray gunfire from your aforementioned sidekick.
There's only one real option.
"I surrender!" You exclaim, immediately raising your hands up. The fire in Patchouli's eyes flickers for a moment as she takes that in.
"What, really?" She asks, suddenly uncertain.
"You what?!" Kyouko gapes, having been hoisted to her feet by the guards. The redheaded assistant stands next to her, hands primly folded behind her back as she watches the proceedings.
"Cross my heart." You say, carefully rising to your feet before unslinging your rifle and planting the weapon on the table. Your grenades, both remaining bombs, the digger and the Arc Thrower follow suit. You pull your chair back up and return to your seat. Out of the corner of your eye, you see one fairy loot the fallen auto-pistol.
"Let none say you did not come prepared." Patchouli notes. Her eyes dart sideways to the bleeding witch on the ground. "Now, can someone please get Marisa to safety?" She snaps, and a particularly brawny pair of fairies obediently trudge over to the downed witch.
"Heh, y'do care." Marisa groans out, shooting a weak thumbs-up at Patchouli.
"It's more that you're bleeding on everything." Patchouli points out.
"Oh." There's a distinctly uncomfortable pause as Marisa gives Patchouli a faintly disgusted look. "Y'suck." The blonde wheezes, inverting her thumbs-up before the fairy duo gingerly pick her up and start to trudge away.
"Milady." A dark-haired fairy steps forth from the crowd. She's distinguished from her peers by being the tallest of the group, along with the virtues of being clad in iron armor up to her neck and wielding a monstrous double-bladed battle-axe, as opposed to the plainclothes and simpler weapons of the rabble. "Suggest we simply cut his head off now and be done with it."
"Perhaps later." Patchouli replies.
"As you will it." The apparent captain nods, fading back in with the rest of the group. Patchouli glances over at the detonator on the ground, and one astute fairy carefully picks the device up and brings it to the table.
"All yours, boss. I'll just take alla this!" The grunt says, passing the detonator over to the witch right before she starts scooping up all your equipment. Once the minion finishes looting your supplies and returns to the crowd, you lean ahead, propping your elbows up on the table and steepling your fingers.
"I suppose it would be too much to ask for you to just tell me where you put this bomb and be done with it?" Patchouli asks, tucking the device away inside her dress.
"Well, it's definitely close enough to incinerate all of us." You pause, then tilt your head. "Except me, of course. I'm invincible."
A stream of fire bursts forth from Patchouli's hand, spraying all over you and your surroundings. One unfortunate fairy standing too close yelps when part of her dress catches fire, but her friends help smother it out.
"Proving my point!" You cheerfully say, steadfastly ignoring the flames licking at your armor.
"How can she do that without lighting the place up?" Kyouko wonders, but her guards merely shrug.
"You might as well ask how all the books aren't soaked after what happened earlier." The redhead idly adds.
"How come all the books aren't soaked after what happened earlier?" Kyouko dryly parrots back. Several guards smack their palms into their foreheads.
"Shut up, all of you." Patchouli orders, and the crowd obediently falls silent. The witch's eyes bore into yours. "I'm not getting anything useful from you, am I?"
"Not like this." You shrug. "You'd have to at least buy me breakfast first." __________
"So I'm interrogating you about your attempt to question Patchy, which turned around to her grilling you for details." Remilia breathlessly notes. "Now all we need is you capturing me and asking about all sorts of things and we've gotten ourselves a nice loop."
"Aren't you the least bit bothered about Kirisame catching several bullets?" You ask. She blinks a few times as she thinks on that.
"Not really?" She eventually replies, giving you a completely innocent look.
"Not even a little?" You press.
"I'm more worried about how much this is all going to cost, honestly." Remilia's ears twitch as another explosion rocks the distance. "Quite a bit, I should think." She adds. ___________
"You've the gall to ask for food after you break into my library and try to blow me up." Patchouli flatly says.
"Correct." You stare Patchouli down in silence for a few moments more before a pensive look crosses her features. She glances over at Kyouko, and the corners of her lips twitch downwards.
"Let's see how much you like this, then. Koakuma?" The witch asks, and the redhead snaps to attention, the bat-wings on her head simultaneously drawing back.
"Yes, mistress?" Koakuma says, the picture-perfect image of a loyal assistant.
"Be a dear and break that little dog's fingers, would you?" Patchouli calmly orders.
"What." You say.
"What." Koakuma concurs, her poise faltering.
"Oh no." Kyouko adds, the color draining from her face as two guards lock their arms around hers.
"A perfectly natural reaction." Patchouli concurs, shutting her eyes and taking a deep breath. Several seconds pass before she opens them again, and she frowns. "Koa, I can't help but notice you still haven't followed orders."
"With all due respect, mistress-" Koakuma begins, eyes narrowing.
"Koakuma." Something wrong seeps into Patchouli's voice, enough malice packed into that solitary word to make your hair stand on end. The redhead stiffens up immediately, her lips drawing tightly together as she turns on Kyouko.
"I don't know what to say, really. Sorry?" Koakuma lamely offers, looking put-out as she grabs hold of Kyouko's fingers.
The kid takes a deep breath, shuts her eyes, and screams.
Everyone present, save yourself, recoils at the sheer auditory assault. With her captors reeling, Kyouko breaks loose, headbutts Koakuma hard enough to knock the woman on her back, and takes off so fast she'd make an Olympic sprinter weep. She rounds a corner and vanishes from sight, leaving you to deal with this mess.
Time slows down as your boosters engage.
Forty-three hostiles are scattered throughout this area, counting Patchouli and Koakuma. The fairy guards have fanned out throughout the air, blocking any easy escape routes, but most are too busy clutching at their ears in pain to pose much of a threat.
First order of business is the witch. You launch yourself ahead, your outstretched hand grabbing Patchouli by the throat, and her eyes shoot wide open right before you chokeslam her into the desk so hard that it splits clean in half. As books, tea, and splinters fly, you hoist one half of the table up and swing it back around, battering the troops around you with enough sheer force that they explode into a sort of bright powder. The closest threats dealt with, you loose the bludgeon through the air towards a tightly-knit squad, crushing them underneath its sheer bulk.
"Open fire!" The fairy leader barks, and suddenly the rest of the fey are back in action. They shoot as one, spraying dozens upon dozens of magical projectiles at your position. You charge ahead, several hundred pounds of metal and pain, and a good dozen fey decide to match your move. They storm you as one, weapons raised and shouting incoherent warcries, even as their allies keep their fire up on you. Twisting your torso sideways as you sprint onwards, you shoulder-check the oncoming swarm so hard that weapons and fairies alike fly through the air. Koakuma, now back on her feet, spins on a heel when she sees you coming and takes off in the same direction Kyouko went. You'd give chase, but you have this fairy contingent to deal with.
The rest of the fey have taken to the skies, out of your reach, and they continue to bombard you with more fire. As you dance around their fire, you snatch up a fallen hand-ax from a downed fairy, sight in on the one guard loaded down with your entire arsenal, and fling the ax as hard as you can. Sadly, it was never balanced for throwing, and the weapon sails right past the guard's head. However, this near brush with death is enough to break the girl's morale, and she hesitates in her fire before turning tail and fleeing the scene.
"OI!" You shout, giving chase. That brings the others attention to the deserter as well, and their barrage ceases.
"You traitor!" The captain roars, and with a single precise shot she nails the cowardly soldier right in the back of the head. The hapless guard explodes into dust, and all your equipment falls as she disintegrates.
"Thanks!" You call out as you snatch the rifle and digger from the air, one in each hand.
"Boss, you idiot!" A different fairy curses, right before you nail her between the eyes with a burst of rifle fire.
"Storm him!" The captain orders, and the rest of the group falls on you as one. You spray the oncoming horde with gunfire and drop a good ten of them before the weapon clicks dry, and you toss it aside as you raise the digger to meet your foes. Pulling down on the trigger results in the first three fairies melting as they ram straight into the destructive energy emanating from the tool, and the rest immediately panic and try to scatter; key word being try. Packed as tightly as they are, their momentum carries the group straight into the digger's deadly path. One fairy is impaled straight on the digger thanks to a newfound chest cavity, whereas several of the others catch enough stray energy to take limbs off. As they hit the ground screaming, three in the back are able to break off in time to avoid their comrades gruesome fates. The ones you maimed burst into dust, and you shake the digger clean of any debris left before advancing on the remnants.
The last three show no desire to close in with you, and their weapons shake in their hands as they exchange terrified glances. Your eyes drift downward towards the looted pistol the lead fairy is sporting, and you take one last step forward, raising the digger and pressing the barrel right up against her face. She draws a sharp breath and holds it, droplets of sweat forming on her temple as her eyes peer down the barrel. Her companions don't dare to make a move as you lean in until you're nose-to-helmet. Your free hand snags your pistol and returns it to its rightful holster.
"Run." You whisper.
"Ohgodokayiamleaving" She squeaks, her blade slipping from limp fingers and clattering to the ground. She flees the scene at a rapid clip, and the rest hesitate for but a moment longer before you wave the digger around. Message received, they run for their lives.
The air behind you hisses, and you barely roll forward in time to avoid the captain's flanking maneuver. You spin around as you rise to your feet, leveling your pistol at her and stopping the woman dead in her tracks.
"That might have worked if you tried it a few seconds earlier." You say. Her eyes narrow as she takes you in.
"Getting into position was a bit tricky." She admits. "Wish they'd distracted you a little bit longer."
"So what's your deal, anyway?" You ask. "You seem... competent, for lack of a better word."
"Milady Knowledge offered a promotion for the first fairy to sign up for some testing." She calmly informs you, hefting the battle-axe with ease. "I've never felt better."
You immediately shoot her in the face.
The bullets ping off.
"Well, damn." You grunt, holstering the pistol and swapping to the digger. "How did you manage that?"
"My skin is augmented." She replies, looking only mildly annoyed by your interruption.
"I see." You sagely reply. "Shall we do it, then?"
"BLOOD AND THUNDER!" The captain roars, her previously genial manner vanishing as she sprints towards you. When you meet, her axe whirrs through the air intent on shaving the top of your head off, and you dodge back just in time for the weapon to scrape across your visor. You try to nail her with the digger's deadly beam, but she ducks it barely in time to avoid having her head sheared clean off. She responds with a swipe to take your legs off, but you hop over the blow and lash out with a boosted kick that catches her directly under the chin; her head snaps back with the CRACK of her jaw shattering she goes flying, her weapon falling to the ground as she lands and tumbles across the floor.
"Well, that was easy." You say, disappointed.
"Allow me to correct that!" Patchouli booms from far above, and you stymy a curse as you look up at her. All sorts of magical circles surround the floating witch, and her spellbook floats in front of an outstretched hand.
"How are you back up so quickly!?" You yell back, frustrated.
"ROYAL FLARE!" She shouts, and oh hell that is a lot of fire coming your way. You retreat, rounding a corner and hiding behind a bookshelf as you holster the digger and draw your rifle. Once you slap a new magazine in, you pop back out and spray a few bullets at Patchouli, but with all the fiery death raining down you're unable to get a clear shot. You duck behind the shelf again and try to come up with a plan as doom flies all around. __________
"If it weren't for the fact that you're right in front of me, I'd be betting money on Patchy. Now, though? I'm starting to feel like there's no way this is going to end with her alive." Remilia glumly says, sinking back in her throne.
"Just because I was using bullets and bombs doesn't have to mean she's dead." You say.
"Not helping." She grumbles. __________
PLAN OF ACTION?
[ ] Aerial superiority means she can bombard you to her heart's content, but you've got just the plan to lure her down.
[ ] Sneak around, climb up, and close for hand-to-hand. It'll be tricky, but you're sure you can manage it.
[ ] You're up against an asthmatic, and with how huge this library is you're sure there are some areas that are more than a bit... dusty.
[X] You're up against an asthmatic, and with how huge this library is you're sure there are some areas that are more than a bit... dusty.
I'm more of a strategist guy so making use of the environment would seem a good choice here. She probably knows her way about the place more than we do so if we turn the advantage then we should have a good chance.
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As fiery death rains down all around you, your mind returns to the map you studied at the entrance to the library. In addition to the major landmarks, it also listed every single section on this floor. While Patchouli's notorious asthma seems to have receded for now, you're sure it would only take one bad thing getting in her lungs to bring her down. You've got just the aisle in mind, too.
However, you're loathe to leave your equipment behind. A fireball smashes into the ground right next to you, and you wait for it to disperse before rounding the corner and charging straight into the hell storm of fiery death. You boost reflexes just long enough to plot a route to your weapons through this barrage before shutting them back down and blitzing on through.
"An unsound maneuver!" Patchouli calls, and several falling orbs of flame center on the pile of discarded weaponry. Your breath catches at the sight; the demo charges would take very, very poorly to the incoming fire. You drop into a slide, scooping your equipment up in an awkward one-armed carry as you zoom past, and fireballs smash right where you just were as you scramble to your feet and run straight for cover. Another glob of fire catches you on the shoulder, and to your intense dismay it sticks.
"Napalm?" You hiss, watching in horror as the fire rolls down your arm. You dive into hiding behind another bookshelf, and after dropping everything at your feet you start beating the flames into submission. You manage to smother them before they wreak too much havoc, although a half-melted shoulder pad serves as a grim warning as to what will happen should you get hit again. You quickly reattach all of your equipment to their proper places, but the moment you finish Patchouli soars overhead.
"Staying in one place is very bad for your health!" She shouts, making a grand gesture with both arms in the process.
"Hypocrite!" You yell back, sighting down on her through your rifle.
Then the bookshelf sucker-punches you hard enough to send you reeling.
"Agh!" You gasp, stumbling back from the group of angry wooden fists sprouting out from your previous cover. They reach out for you, crackling as they lengthen and twist through the air, and the sight is enough to make you turn and break for it before they can catch up. You sprint down the carpeted road as the limbs race after you, and a quick glance reveals that they're gaining.
"Run, coward! Run!" Patchouli taunts, keeping pace as more wooden arms burst from the shelves in your path. You duck and jump and roll and slide and charge through the seemingly unending forest of claws all grasping for you, and your boosted reflexes prove themselves invaluable.
"Oh, I think you're enjoying this!" You call out, hopping over a set of spikes that had just burst from the ground.
"Immensely!" She booms back. You've just cleared the last patch of hands when the floor ahead of you rockets upwards a good dozen feet in a solid earthen wall, but you barrel through the obstacle without stopping. A passing bookshelf grows spikes on its side that burst out and nearly impale you as you pass. This obstacle course continues for about half-a-minute before one of the pursuing claws brushes against your back.
"Oh, that's it." You growl, pulling a flashbang loose and tossing it upwards. The ensuing BANG earns a string of impressive curses from the witch, and everything giving chase to you freezes in place as you quickly double back around another bookshelf and straight into Kyouko.
"Whoa there, cowboy!" She gasps as you nearly smash into her, hopping back just in time to avoid your bulk. Blood trickles down her brow from a number of deep scratches across her forehead, her sunglasses are missing, and a bruise is starting to swell on her cheek. You grab her by the shoulders and hug her close as you press up against the shelf in an attempt to minimize your profile.
"Shh." You whisper, cutting off her protest as you watch the skies. Sure enough, Patchouli soars by a few seconds later. For a moment you think she's going to see you, but she must still be disoriented from the flashbang given how she just flies past without a second look.
"I think we're good for the moment." You breathe out, and when you look back at the girl held in your arms you can't help but notice her cheeks have flushed lightly red. Your eyebrows rise up. "What's your deal?"
"Uh, nothing! Nothing!" She hurriedly says, breaking free and taking a few steps back. She smooths out any irregularities in her skirt as she steadfastly avoids looking in your direction. __________
"Oh, God, don't tell me she fell for you thanks to a simple hug." Remilia groans.
"I'll just save you the trouble and tell you that it goes nowhere. Besides, I have-" You cut yourself off.
"Someone back home?" She finishes, the corner of her mouth quirking up.
Silence reigns for an achingly long ten seconds as she stares you down.
"...She was one hell of a woman." You admit.
"Was?" Her smile only widens. "Aww, she broke your heart, didn't she?"
"I fail to see how this is relevant." You grunt.
"Know thy enemy! And so on!" She waves a hand around in a grandly meaningless gesture. "But I do admit that right now I'm more curious about whatever you'd cooked up for Patchy."
"That I can tell you." __________
"What the hell happened to you?" You ask, readying your rifle as you keep a lookout.
"Koa-whatshername caught up and jumped me." Kyouko scowls as she rubs her bruised cheek. "She gave it to me good for a little while, but then I kneed her right in the down-under." She looks away and coughs into her hand, looking suddenly embarrassed. "I may have done it a few more times than was probably needed."
She has a hidden vicious streak. Grand. "How'd you find me?" You ask, eager to change the topic.
"You two were kinda hard to miss." Her eyes flit towards the trail of destruction the witch left while chasing you. "I was pretty much in plain sight for a while, but she was too busy trying to nail you to notice me. Nice moves, by the way."
"Thanks. Now, I've got a plan in mind for dealing with her. I can do it myself, but your help would smooth some kinks out. You up for it?"
"I'm pretty sure I could just sneak on out of here right now, but-"
"That would leave your friend in the lurch."
"Yeah. So, I'm outta luck!" She splays her hands out in a hapless gesture.
"Oh, this book's condition is just disgraceful." You note with disapproval, gingerly paging through the dusty copy of I, Robot in your hands as you lean against the end of the oaken bookcase. The entire aisle is coated by a fine layer of dust, but this book alone seems to have accumulated enough stray material to kick start a new Big Bang.
Out in the distance you hear Kyouko shouting out various creative insults, and all sorts of projectiles soar through the sky. You've every confidence in her abilities, at least in terms of lasting long enough to draw Patchouli down here. All you have to do is wait.
And wait you do, no one but Asimov to keep you company for the several minutes that pass by until Kyouko dashes around the corner.
"Five seconds!" She grunts as she rounds the bend. You draw yourself up to your full stature, get a firm grip on the open book with both hands, and wait.
"Dogs need to be punished!" Patchouli calls out from around the corner, disturbingly close-by. You leap out and take a moment to enjoy the floating woman's expression of dismay at your sudden appearance before you slam the literary classic shut right in her face, dispelling a cloud of dust from the contents within. The witch drops to the ground, hacking out great, shuddering coughs as she wraps her arms around her midsection. You gently return the book to its shelf as the witch folds to her knees, her whole body shaking with each successive choking gasp.
"All that magical fury and you get brought down by dust." Kyouko notes on her return, pity lining her voice as she watches the spectacle.
"Not... Not done yet!" Patchouli chokes out, grabbing hold of the nearby shelf and unsteadily pulling herself back to her feet. You sigh and march towards her, and before she can try anything you grab hold of both her wrists.
"The witch cannot cast if I disable her hands." You whisper, tightening your grip, and her eyes shoot wide open. She tries to protest, but with the dust still ravaging her lungs all that comes out is a pained wheeze. "But I'd rather we just have a nice talk about Remilia instead. Don't you agree?"
Patchouli finds a second wind at those words, somehow drawing a clear breath.
"You think I'd sell Remi out to the likes of you?" She laughs once, a harsh sound devoid of any mirth, before descending back into another coughing fit and falling against you.
"Wrong answer." You say once her fit subsides, right before twisting her right hand all the way around. Bones crackle and Patchouli drops back to her knees with a shriek of pain.
"Oh my God, you actually did it." Kyouko gasps, holding her hands over her mouth as the blood drains from her face.
You let Patchouli go and step away, and she spares only a few seconds to look at her hideously bent hand before she glares back up at you through the tears streaming down her face.
"I'm not telling you anything." She hisses out through grit teeth.
"I was hoping you wouldn't say that." Your hand falls onto your pistol, and grim realization plays across her face. "Are you sure you don't want to change your mind?"
She remains silent, squeezing her eyes tightly shut. Sweat and tears intermingle as they drip downwards, dotting the carpet with moisture when they fall.
"What a shame." You say, drawing the pistol free and pressing it up against the witch's forehead in a single smooth motion. She shivers for but a moment as the barrel connects before she goes totally still.
"Look, just... just stop it already!" Kyouko exclaims, choosing this moment to rush in and grab hold of the pistol, fruitlessly trying to pry the weapon from your fingers. "She's done! We can leave!"
"You were fine with the bomb!" You growl.
"The bomb didn't involve executing someone, you lunatic!" She snarls back. __________
[x] Mention you are unsure if there is a bullet currently in the chamber of the gun you are aiming at her. Ask her if she feels she should press her luck. It isn't really loaded though. Why kill a potential informant when you could just knock her out afterwards and use her location as a bargaining chip?
[X] SUFFER NOT THE WITCH TO LIVE. -[X} Pfft, yeah right. Like you'd actually do something like that. --[X] Oh gods, the look on Remilia's face. If only you had a camera right now. ---[X] But no, you only incapacitated her for a duration somewhat longer than this attack will probably last, and left her in a certain location for Remilia to find, which she will likely find quite amusing. ----[X] Would she like to take a guess right now? No? Well, on with the story, then.
[X] SUFFER NOT THE WITCH TO LIVE. -[X} Pfft, yeah right. Like you'd actually do something like that. --[X] Oh gods, the look on Remilia's face. If only you had a camera right now. ---[X] But no, you only incapacitated her for a duration somewhat longer than this attack will probably last, and left her in a certain location for Remilia to find, which she will likely find quite amusing. ----[X] Would she like to take a guess right now? No? Well, on with the story, then.
[X] SUFFER NOT THE WITCH TO LIVE. -[X] Pfft, yeah right. Like you'd actually do something like that. --[X] Oh gods, the look on Remilia's face. If only you had a camera right now. ---[X] But no, you only incapacitated her for a duration somewhat longer than this attack will probably last, and left her in a certain location for Remilia to find, which she will likely find quite amusing. ----[X] Would she like to take a guess right now? No? Well, on with the story, then.
[X] SUFFER NOT THE WITCH TO LIVE. -[X] Pfft, yeah right. Like you'd actually do something like that. --[X] Oh gods, the look on Remilia's face. If only you had a camera right now. ---[X] But no, you only incapacitated her for a duration somewhat longer than this attack will probably last, and left her in a certain location for Remilia to find, which she will likely find quite amusing. ----[X] Would she like to take a guess right now? No? Well, on with the story, then.
The silence in the room has an almost tangible weight to it as Remilia stares you down. Cracks spiral out from where her hand clamps down on her throne's arm-rest.
Despite your better judgement, you have to do this.
"I'm sure you've heard the phrase 'Suffer not the witch to live.'" You say.
It's quiet for a few more seconds before she slowly rises to her feet.
"That was a very poor choice of words." Her voice drops like a stone right before she tenses up. She blurs, and then she's in front of you and wrapping her unbecomingly strong hand around your windpipe. The vampire's eyes burn red as her vice-grip tightens, her stormy expression betraying no weakness.
"The only thing saving you right now is that you still have more to tell me. Speak." She says, voice low and grim. Her choking grasp loosens for a moment, long enough to allow a breath of precious air into your lungs.
"The look on your face." You rasp out.
For one glorious moment, her entire face contorts in an incredibly undignified look of surprise, and you praise God that your helmet records everything for the after-action report.
"What." She blankly says.
"The look on your face." You repeat, barely holding back laughter.
Her stormy facade breaks down, and as her grip on your neck slackens the corner of her mouth quirks upwards.
"Patchy's..." Her smile widens, showing entirely too-white teeth.
"Fine." You say. "Mostly."
"Ah." Remilia heaves a sigh of relief, letting you go as she steps back. The look she fixes you with is equal parts amused and irritated. "Much as I hate to say it, you actually had me for a moment there."
"I try." You nod.
"Be that as it may, I do not appreciate being toyed with." She says, her regal bearing back in force. "Kindly refrain from doing so again." __________
"I'm getting soft." You sigh, begrudgingly pulling the pistol away from Patchouli's forehead. "You can let go now." You add, and Kyouko hurriedly hops back. Patchouli cracks an eyelid open to peer up at you.
"That's all?" She wonders.
"That's all." You agree, watching as she pulls herself to her feet with the aid of the bookshelf.
"So..." Kyouko begins, keeping a healthy distance away from the witch. "Earlier, I totally meant to declare a spellcard fight before shooting, but then I got tackled and then all that nasty stuff happened. No hard feelings about Marisa?"
The look Patchouli shoots her could slay a man.
"You two come in here, interrupt just as I finally triumph over my greatest foe, threaten me with a bomb, blow my hat off, murder my entire security detail, and then this." She holds up her mangled hand. "I do not have words for how I feel about you right now."
"Bah, we both know the fairies don't count." You say. "On a different note, maybe you should be a bit nicer towards my friend here. She did just save your life." You jerk a thumb at Kyouko, and Patchouli pinches the bridge of her nose with her good hand.
"Oh, very well." She turns to Kyouko and dips her head down an inch. "Thank you for stopping this brute from blasting my head off. Now get the hell out of my library, and if I ever see you in here again I am going to set you on fire. Are we clear?"
"Crystal!" Kyouko trills, but you hold your hand out towards the witch.
"Don't think I forgot about the detonator." You say.
"I will flay you if you use this." Patchouli coolly tells you as she fishes the device from within the folds of her dress. You take it back and return the thing to its rightful place.
"You've got bigger things to worry about." You say, drawing the Arc Thrower loose and hip-firing it. Electricity arcs out through the air and surges right through the witch with enough force to lay her flat out.
"Ow." Kyouko idly notes, watching with a sort of fascinated horror as Patchouli keeps twitching on the ground.
"Much as I'd love to drag her somewhere embarrassing, I don't think we've got the time." You say, returning the stunner to its rightful place.
"Wot da zog is goin' on here?" Asks a new voice, and you whip around with a fist raised only to see a small, hairy, brown-skinned creature with a stack of books in its arms. It's currently squinting at you without a trace of fear, so you thrust your pistol in its face.
"...Naw." It decides, turning on a heel and taking off at a leisurely pace.
"The heck was that thing supposed to be?" Kyouko asks, her nose wrinkling.
"I have no idea." You admit. __________
"I was wondering when one of those little hobgoblins was going to show." Remilia says, her face lighting up with childlike glee as she leans back in her seat. "They're so cute!"
You blink a few times as you run that through your head.
"Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who sees them that way." She sighs gustily.
"You are... serious." You finally say, squinting to make sure some sort of bizarre clone didn't replace the vampire while you blinked.
"You're a tasteless plebeian." She sniffs haughtily. "In any case, skip on ahead to a more interesting part." ___________
You've made your way back to the central study, and as you head towards the bomb Kyouko whistles.
"Wow, you really did a number on this place." She comments, poking through the wreckage of Patchouli's desk for anything useful. You can't help but note that one super-fairy is nowhere to be seen.
"Guns and mining tools tend to make a mess, yes." You say, pulling the bomb out and disarming it. When you turn around, you see Kyouko intently studying the bloodstained ground where Kirisame caught those bullets. You purse your lips, all too aware of what must be going through her head at the moment.
"So, whaddya say Marisa's chances for a recovery are?" She quietly asks, wrapping her arms around herself.
"Well, she didn't look like she was going to die."
"Least there's that." She sighs. "Never thought I'd come so close to killing someone, y'know?"
"If it's any consolation, I was the one who gave you the gun."
"True. I guess I can always throw the blame your way if they catch me." She's silent for a few more seconds before she wrenches herself away from the spot. "What do you say we get moving, huh? I don't want to stay here any longer than we need to."
The double-doors of the library's entrance loom overhead like wooden titans.
"Ten-to-one says something's waiting for us out there." Kyouko says, hovering up and a fair distance away.
"Probably." You agree.
"Well, out we go!" She cheerfully says, and you pull the doors open. The giants creak as they move, and you find yourself face to face with a remarkably healed Meiling leading a formation of fairies that blanket the ground behind her far as you can see. The gatekeeper smiles brightly at your sudden appearance, her arms swirling with brightly-colored chi.
"Hello again!" She says, drawing a fist back. The fairies surge forward.
"Goodbye!" You reply, slamming the doors shut in the redhead's face. You put your back against the doors just in time for a titanic blow from the other side to send a web of cracks spiralling throughout the wood.
"Called it." Kyouko says, backing up even further.
"Shut up." You grunt, straining to keep the doors shut.
"This won't hold me for long!" The gatekeeper calls out, her voice strong enough to penetrate through the several feet of wood blocking her path.
"Well, this route is blocked. Any ideas?" You ask, a flurry of thuds resounding from behind the door as the rest of the horde starts pounding at the barricade.
Kyouko mutely jerks a thumb towards the hole Marisa made looming off in the distance.
"Good idea!" You say, pulling your recently liberated det-pack free. "Don't wait for me, I'll catch up!"
"You're sure?" She asks, giving the creaking doors a worried look.
"Very! Now go!" You finish priming the explosive and lob it aside. Kyouko wavers for a moment before shooting down to clap a hand on your shoulder.
"Try not to die!" She orders, right before taking back to the skies and flying off.
You hold the doors shut for a few seconds more until a fist smashes through the door mere inches from the right side of your head.
"HUTTAH, NECK SNAP!" Meiling shouts, her other fist bursting out to your left. You duck just in time for her hands to come together and grasp empty air. "You're not supposed to dodge!" She complains.
"Too bad!" You reply, launching yourself away from the doors and into a dead sprint. You make it scarcely twenty paces before the titans are slammed open, and a look over your shoulder reveals that you've got Meiling and her entire legion of fairies giving chase. The redhead moves fast enough that she's literally blurring with each step, and getting closer with every second. You flick the detonator's cap open as you run.
You make it a good hundred feet, until Meiling leaps and catches hold of your arm. "Gotcha!" She shouts, dragging you down with each passing step. You grit your teeth and push the button.
The resulting explosion roars several hundred feet upwards in a huge fireball, incinerating most of the fairies. You're just far enough to avoid the worst of things, but the sheer force of the blast is enough to lift you and your hanger-on up and send you flying through the air. You smash into a bookshelf and bounce off, wood splintering underneath your crushing weight. Once you've got your wits about you, you're able to take in the crater where the library entrance used to be. The thing covers a good fifty feet of ground, the bomb having utterly annihilated everything in its blast radius.
Meiling lands flat on her face in front of you. You immediately pull yourself up and raise your fists as she rises to unsteady feet.
"Oooooh, Patchouli is gonna kill me." She groans, surveying the carnage.
"Seeing as I'm the one who activated the bomb in the first place, I think she'll go for me instead." You say, sympathetic. "On a different note, I beat the daylights out of you earlier. How are you back up?"
"When my whole fighting strategy centers around punching people, you'd better believe I can heal fast." She proudly states, thumping a fist against her chest. "Also, I'm pretty sure I'm dragon-blooded. That helps a lot."
"Well, I suppose we should get back to it, eh?" She asks, and then she suddenly lunges for you. "I don't appreciate you blowing up all of my subordinates, by the way!" You duck a roundhouse and retort with a rising uppercut. "It's seriously not cool!"
"They're just fairies!" She weaves away from your strike, then lunges for you again. You sidestep the strike and respond with a right hook. "They'll get better!"
"Not the point!" She ducks out of the way, counters with a jab that rocks your head back.
"Don't give me that!" You smack her on the nose with a jab of your own. "We both know it's relevant!"
"Oh, shut it!" She nails you with a straight kick to the chest, strong enough to send you skidding backwards.
"Look, I'm just saying they're going to be fine!" You draw back into a defensive stance.
"That doesn't mean they don't get hurt! That's unacceptable!" She launches into the air with a flying axe-kick, her leg swirling with rainbow-chi. You leap aside and roll before rising to your feet.
"You're not pulling any punches, are you?" You ask as she closes and sends another kick towards your skull. You raise your arms to block the hit, but it still knocks you back a few feet.
"If you think this is bad, you're in for a treat!" She jumps away from your retaliatory strike and lands out of reach. "Tiger Chi Release!" She claps her hands together, and orange-colored energy starts pulsing out from her. She charges you again, so fast you can hardly blink before she's on you. Your reflex boosters activate just in time for you to raise your arms and block as she hammers at you with a seemingly unending barrage of punches. More blows hammer down on your guard, driving you back step by step as you search for an opening. __________
PLAN OF ACTION!
[ ] ATATATATATATATATA
[ ] You have yet to meet someone who can outsmart bullets.
Also I'm combining HIGH VOLTAGE and ATATATATA because you know what they're both pretty good. __________
You're not getting anywhere just blocking all of Meiling's hits. With all that chi surging through her body, every solid blow she lands has the force of an angry tiger. You intercept the redhead's next strike with both hands, clamping down hard as she tries to pry hers loose. She responds by launching a series of jabs at your head with her free hand, but you bob and weave between the blows before she just goes the direct route and headbutts you hard enough to sends you stumbling.
"You're pretty good!" She crouches and sweeps a leg, but you hop over the attack and send her a kick of your own. She intercepts your foot with both hands and shoves you back, and you teeter off-balance for a moment.
"I get a lot of practice!" You reply, regaining your footing just as she darts towards you. Her fists lash out at an incredible rate, battering you with a multitude of powerful hits every second. Every blow that connects explodes outwards with a small burst of chi, amplifying her already intimidating strength into something horrifyingly potent.
Then your boosters activate.
Meiling's strikes, previously unnatural in their speed, slow to something within human bounds. Her eyes narrow as you meet her next punch with one of your own, and her other fist snakes out towards you in response before you bash it away. This cycle continues as you match her blow for bone-shaking blow, pressing the advantage your suit grants while you still have it.
You're only able to keep this up for a few seconds before your suit will overheat, so after you deflect another hit you rear back for a show-stopping blow. A fierce smile crosses Meiling's face as she pulls back to do the same. The two of you swing at once, your fist grazing hers on its path.
There's the CRUNCH of cartilage snapping when your strike hits her square on the nose. Her mighty blow connects right with your face, leaving a spiderweb of cracks on your visor. You both fly back as one, your respective flights arrested by the bookshelves. Steam vents from your suit as you force your way back to your feet, your ears ringing and vision blurry. The glow of bright chi surrounding Meiling fades away as she pulls herself upright. She gingerly touches her nose and blinks as it comes away bloody.
Your visor is already initializing repairs, but you don't have time to waste in waiting. It retracts in a whirr of machinery, exposing your head. You touch a hand to your forehead and grimace as it comes away slick with a mixture of of sweat and blood. Meiling, meanwhile, grabs her broken nose and sticks it back into place with another CRUNCH, a mild grunt of discomfort being her only reaction.
You cautiously advance, Meiling mirroring your every step. The two of you halt just out of reach of each other.
"Been too damn long since I've met a man who could take me head-on." She smirks, a ferocious gleam in her eyes. "Even if he was a cheating sonofabitch the first time around."
"And I haven't met a woman who could dent my armor just by punching it." You reply. "It usually takes heavy ordinance to do that much."
"I'll take that as a compliment." She flexes her fingers while she studies you. "So, you plan on going all Fist of the North Star again?"
You frown. "I don't get the reference."
"Man, you're missing out! If it weren't for the fact that I'm about to pull your lungs out through your nose, I'd lend you a copy." She sounds too cheerful given what she's threatening to do.
"How did we go from beating the daylights out of each other to talking about... whatever you're talking about?" You ask, genuinely baffled.
"Eh, this is just the breather before we get back to it."
"In that case, you ready to go?"
"Wait for it." She says.
You suck a breath in through your teeth.
Her fingers twitch.
"Waaaaaait for it." She drawls.
You both lunge at the same time. Every strike she sends out at you is met by a fist of your own, and vice-versa. You're both too fast to score a blow on the other, no matter how many punches are thrown. These rapid fisticuffs continue until your hands interlock with hers in a grapple for dominance. She refuses to give an inch, and the two of you lean in until you're nose-to-nose. Her expression is serious, yet her teeth are bared in a wild grin.
"Hey." She grunts, every muscle in her body straining.
"What?" You reply, teeth grit.
She answers by darting ahead that extra inch and roughly locking her soft lips around yours. Your eyes shoot wide open and your grip slackens for a fatal moment, and that's all she needs to break the sudden kiss and clamp her hands around your throat.
"Gotcha." She whispers, squeezing down hard enough that you can feel your windpipe start to fold underneath the pressure. But, so close to beating you, she's made a fatal mistake.
With her hands around her neck, she can't stop you from going for the Arc Thrower.
Your helmet whirrs back into place to protect you from the imminent shock as you draw the stunner, and her eyes dart downwards when you jam it into her gut.
"Oh sh-" She starts, eyes widening. You pull the trigger.
Electricity surges through her entire body and roots her in place. You stumble free from her slackened grip and land on your ass, gasping for breath. Her fists clench, her eyes bulge, and her teeth grind together, right before she takes one last painstaking step towards you. Her hands reach out to throttle you, and then she collapses on her face.
You take a few seconds to catch your breath before rising to your feet.
"Almost got me." You admit with respect, returning the tazer to your belt.
A fairy limps around the corner of the closest bookshelf, followed by several of her compatriots. The whole group sports torn and blackened clothing, and they're obviously out of sorts from the earlier explosion. They stop in their tracks when you draw your pistol on them, but their eyes lock in on the body at your feet.
"Boss?" One breathes out, aghast. The others steel themselves for combat as the leader takes an uncertain step ahead.
"Y-you killed Meiling?" She asks, face white.
"She's just going to be down for a few hours. Give her my compliments when she's back up." You start drawing back. "She's very good at what she does!"
"Hey, wai-" The leader starts, but then you train the pistol on the fallen gatekeeper.
"Don't." You warn. The fairies mill about uncertainly, unwilling to chance you shooting their leader. You seize the opportunity to carefully back away and retreat. __________
"Two for two, eh? Even if you cheated both times, that's still impressive!" Remilia says, seeming more amused than anything. "By the way." She leans forward, a conspiratorial expression gracing her features. "How was she?"
"As a fighter? Very good."
She rolls her eyes and heaves an exaggerated sigh. "I meant when she kissed you, you dolt."
"Ah." You stay quiet for a few seconds as you think that over. "Fantastic." You admit.
"Hah!" Remilia barks, a wild grin spreading across her face as she claps her hands together. "In your face, Patchy!"
"You were running bets on-" You say, voice flat.
"You know it!" She interrupts, looking entirely too pleased with what she's learned.
"...You people have too much time on your hands." __________
It takes several minutes at a dead run to reach the hole in the library wall, but you make it without any further incident. Kyouko reclines against the wall, lying in wait for your arrival. Her eyebrows shoot up into her hair as she takes your battered form in.
"Did a bookshelf fall on you or what?" She probes, running a hand over the plethora of new dents on your chest.
"I'd have preferred a bookshelf to the gatekeeper." You say. She nods sagely in understanding and leaves it at that.
"Well, seeing as you're not dead, that just leaves us with this problem." She points towards the hole that resides quite a ways above. "Somehow, I don't think I could lift you." She dryly says. "You're gonna have to double back around, or something."
You smash your fist a foot deep into the wall, following it up with another punch higher up. Using the first hole as a foothold, you repeat the process and climb.
"Or you could just do that." The girl sheepishly admits, flying to match you.
It's a painstaking few minutes until you reach the top. Once you hoist yourself over the ledge, you whistle at the sight ahead. Marisa must have barreled through at least three walls to get to the library, leaving you with a clear path to the outside should you come through here again. You hop over the edge and land in a crouch, leaving an indentation in the floor where you fell. This hallway looks clear, but you still ready your rifle in case you meet any trouble. Kyouko floats down next to you, and you're just about to move on when her mouth opens, then clicks shut as she frowns.
"You hear that?" She asks. You shake your head.
"Where?" You whisper, scanning the hall. Several doors line the wall opposite you, though what they contain is beyond you. The kid's eyes shut tight and her brows knit together as she listens.
"...Thataway, I think." She points out a specific door.
You move cautiously, footsteps muffled by the carpet, and press up against the wall next to the target entrance. You can't hear anything, so after a few seconds you move into position in front of the entryway. You charge straight through the door, shattering it to pieces as you sweep the room for occupants. This is some sort of storage area, given the crates and barrels scattered around and stacked up high. They're all stacked in rows, leaving plenty of hiding spots for someone lying in ambush. Shelves cover the walls and are covered in turn by an assortment of empty glass jars, bags, and other such containers. The whole room is lit up by flickering fluorescent lightbulbs, casting shadows every which way.
The CRASH of glass breaking further inside jolts you back to attention.
"Guard the entrance, I'm going in." You order.
"Yeah, I'll just let you handle the creepy maze." Kyouko agrees, leaning up against the doorway as you press onwards into the veritable forest of containers. You're on high alert as you advance, but you find no signs of life.
Once you reach the end of the room, you find the source of the earlier crash. A jar lies in pieces on the ground, oozing some clear liquid across the floor. When you draw closer to investigate, something CLANGS against the back of your helmet, and you whirl around to beat the daylights out of your assailant. __________
What's the situation?
[ ] A scared sparrow needs some reassurance.
[ ] A malevolent maid lies in ambush.
[ ] Some mischievous fairies are being a pain in the neck.
>>57557 >Ah, but was it something in a good way or a bad way? I gotta know!
Good way. While I was thinking more about AE being the initiator & using it as a distraction when I suggested the idea the results are perfectly acceptable. I'm wondering about possible repercussions when Meiling comes to and if AE's in the general area when that happens along with what happens post-mansion raid.
tl;dr: S'all good. Wondering about post-raid things now.
It's pretty unprofessional to date a man who previously maimed some of the people you're sworn to guard. Also for consideration is that if this were a dating sim from Meiling's perspective, AE would effectively be Hard Mode.
yes I know those types of games don't have difficulty settings just go with it
>>57564 You make a good point, but I may I remind you that Remilia, and Patchy were betting on Meiling's kissing, all because they have to much time on their hands. That coupled with the fact that this is Gensokyo it seems highly plausible at least. Don't ruin this for me, it seems to good not to work out
>>57570 Does that even make a difference for our mc? We're in Gensokyo and the last could of times I saw Reimu and Marisa beat the crap out of the Scarlet Devil Mansion they became great friends and welcomed them to come back as well
>>57710 >Assassination mission Your memory's a bit fuzzy there, friend.
>>54942 >Main objectives are as follows. >A: Gather intelligence on the Scarlet Devil Mansion and its inhabitants. >B: Interrogate Remilia Scarlet. If possible, do not let her realize you are doing so. >C: Spread disinformation as to the power of our organization and as to your purpose and actions in infiltrating the Mansion. >Bonus Objective: Abduct Flandre Scarlet.
>>57712 Well... As anon said before this we aren't here to kill her, only interrigation. We are the ones here threatend to actually getting killed. True we were about to kill Patchouli but we didn't right?
You were all ready to bludgeon someone with your rifle, but the sight of the bloody girl in front of you stays your hand. Her dress, similar to Kyouko's in that goth-punk look, is torn and shredded all over, exposing a worrying number of cuts and puncture wounds spread across her entire body; None of them seem particularly serious, but all of them together have taken a hefty toll. Plumed ears extend past pink hair, both dirtied with a mixture of sweat and blood. Feathery wings sprout out of her back, bound tightly together by packing tape. A small brass lantern, clutched tightly in trembling hands, is dented from use as a mace.
"So, are you going to try that again, or...?" You ask.
Her mouth silently works open and shut as she stares up at you, grey eyes filled with the sort of utter terror one only feels when they know they're going to die. The lamp slips from limp fingers, making a godawful racket on impact with the floor. An inarticulate whimper escapes her throat as she takes one, two, three shaky steps back, bumping up against a crate as tall as she is.
You slowly raise a hand, palm facing outward. "Easy. Easy." You gently say. "I'm not here to hurt you."
"What?" She asks, eyes darting every which way.
"I'm not on good terms with the rest of the mansion right now." You assure her. "You may have heard the gunfire and explosions."
"I-" Her breath catches in her throat. "That was you?"
"Well, maybe the first explosions were someone else. But that last big one? Definitely me."
She's silent for but a second before she laugh, a mirthless little thing that echoes throughout the room. She slides down against the crate until she's sitting, drawing her knees up to her chin.
"That was- that was perfect timing, then!" She says, a sickly little grin forming on her lips.
"The maids, the ones doing all this-" She gestures at herself. "Well, they were all thrown off for just a second, and I'd been working at my ropes, y'see?"
She holds up a hand, showing off green fingernails that extend several inches out and terminate in wicked points.
"So you seized the perfect chance to break loose." You finish.
"S'right." She nods, and her hand snaps shut. "I ran out into a kitchen and, well, the rest is just... kind of a blur of shouting and shooting, you know?"
"I see." You mutter. "Well, seeing as I've helped you once, do you think you can trust me?"
You straighten up and hold a fist over your chest. "Soldier's honor."
"No, I mean-" She looks down at her feet, struggling to find the right words. "why help me? What do you get out of this?"
Light footfalls alert you to Kyouko's arrival on the scene, and she skids to a halt several feet away. Her mouth opens to say something, but the words die a swift death as she catches sight of the ragged girl next to you. Her expressions rapidly run the gamut of shock, disgust, and horror as she takes in her friend's sorry state.
"Mystia?" She breathes out, aghast. Her words wrench the trembling escapee's attention away from you.
"That's why." You say, but your words wash over unhearing ears.
"You- You came back?" Mystia asks, clearly unbelieving. Kyouko wastes no time in rushing over and kneeling down next to her lost compatriot.
"Oh my god what did they do to you?" She gasps.
Mystia stares up at her newfound friend blankly for several seconds, and breaks it by sagging against the other girl and wrapping her arms around in a hug. "This place sucks." She whimpers.
"Yeah." Kyouko whispers. She glances up at you. "Give us a moment?"
"No problem." You jerk a thumb towards the entrance. "I'll keep watch at the door until you're ready to go."
You trot off towards the storeroom entrance, leaving the two to their reunion. __________
Remilia's face is drawn taut.
"Something to say?" You prod. She sinks down in her throne, face shielded by steepled fingers.
"I never ordered this... barbarity." She says, voice weary. "Sakuya was simply to leave her tied up for long enough to make her sweat a bit. She'd be thrown off the property after the lesson sunk in and that would be it. No one was supposed to hurt her, you understand?"
"I'm surprised you're so bothered about this."
"Contrary to popular belief, being a vampire doesn't automatically make me a heartless shrew." She bites out. __________
You lean against a crate, facing the doorway with your rifle ready.
Nothing continues to happen.
You're just about to head outside and look around when Flandre pops her upside-down head past the top of the doorway.
"Heya!" She cheerfully greets, waving at you.
"...Hello, Flandre." You reply, having suppressed the immediate urge to choke in surprise.
The blonde flops down, lands in a crouch, and springboards right back to her feet. She strides on over to you and hovers upwards so she's at eye-level. "I heard some pretty big 'splosions, figured I'd check things out!" She says, beaming.
"Before you say anything-" You hurriedly begin, but she interrupts by clapping a hand on your shoulder with enough force that your knees buckle.
"Aw, I don't care! It's actually pretty impressive what you pulled off!"
"In all fairness, I was only responsible for one explosion." You admit.
"The library entrance, right? 'Risa doesn't pack enough boom in her lasers to make a hole that big."
You nod. "Used a demolition charge when that gatekeeper of yours was chasing me."
"Oh!" She sucks her lips in. "You didn't blow her up, did you?"
"She had just caught me when I detonated it, so besides being tossed around by the blast we were fine."
"Huh! Okay, I guess. What happened next? Be honest!"
"Well, first we punched each other."
"Of course." She nods knowingly.
"Then we grappled."
"And then she kissed me." You continue, not missing a beat.
"Ye- wait a sec." Flandre pauses, mentally rewinding that part until- "Hiiiiiiiii~" She squeals, covering her mouth with both hands. "Really? No jokin'?"
"No joking." You agree. "And then I knocked her right out when she tried to strangle me."
Flandre's glee is instantly replaced by a pout as she folds her arms together. "That's not the right way to end it!"
"I suppose you would have liked this instead?" You wrap a hand around your throat and mime out snapping your neck.
"Well, no." She says, distinctly put-off by your demonstration.
"There you go, then!" You reply. "On a different note, how did you even find me?"
She taps a finger to her chin, eyes darting up to the ceiling. "We-hell, I started with the crater where the big library doors used to be, and then I saw where 'Risa smashed through the walls and checked out over there. Figured you were the one who left all those little holes climbing up the wall, yeah?"
"Clever girl." You admit. "But how did you find me in here?"
"This is the only door in the entire hallway that's open."
Two pairs of footsteps alert you to the arrival of Kyouko and Mystia; the latter is hanging off the former for support, her every step unsteady. The tape covering her wings has been torn off, but the wings themselves remain hunched close to their owner; the multitude of cuts in them explains why.
"Hey, man, we gotta- oh crap." Kyouko gasps, recoiling back the moment she sees Flandre. Mystia shrinks down against her friend, somehow looking even more pitiful. Flandre waves at them, all smiles until she actually gets a good look at their disarray. Her grin freezes in place as she stares blankly at them.
"Wow, you look like you just went through... uh." She pauses, eyebrows drawing down as she wraps an arm around her waist, her other hand covering her mouth. "Crumbs." She mumbles, put out.
"What." Mystia blankly asks.
"I can't come up with a good, uh, what's it called?"
"Metaphor?" You prompt.
She snaps her fingers. "Yeah! That! Okay, seeing as I don't have a good metaphor, I'll be blunt." She points an accusing finger at the two other girls. "You two look like shit."
Mystia stares. __________
"Where did she even learn that?" Remilia gapes. __________
Flandre blinks a few times as she soaks in everyone's reactions.
"Oh-kay, maybe I shouldn't use that word again." She shrugs. "But seriously, what happened to you? Was it Sakuya? I bet it was Sakuya."
Mystia exchanges a furtive glance with Kyouko, and the latter hesitantly nods. The sparrow slowly breaks off and takes a shaky step towards the vampire.
"N-no, Miss Flandre." Her voice cracks slightly. "It was some of the fairy maids, but the room was dark and I couldn't get a clear look at any of them."
"So they were all stabby and liked hiding in blackness, huh?" Flandre muses, staring at the floor as she thinks. "That's... actually not that many folks I know. Which means I have suspects, and that means I have a solvable mystery on my hands!" Her head jerks back up and she claps her hands together, grinning brightly.
The joy in her blood-red eyes reminds you of how it felt to be issued your suit for the first time, and you can't help but smile knowingly. "So, I'm guessing you want to go investigate?"
"Heck yeah I do!" She crows, darting up into the air and bursting out into the hallway. "Thanks gotta go bye!"
The entire room is quiet for several awkward seconds.
"For a second there I thought we were all going to die." Kyouko eventually says, no small amount of wonder leaking into her voice.
Flandre soars right back in, causing Kyouko to fall backwards in surprise and flail wildly on her way to the ground. While that happens, the vampire lands in front of a petrified Mystia.
"Right so you didn't actually tell me the place where they were sticking you with the pointy bits, and I can't really investigate a crime without knowing the crime scene!" She breathlessly spits out, paying no heed to how absolutely gobsmacked her victim is.
"Kitchen pantry!" Mystia chokes out, shrinking back from the vampire's presence, and the blonde immediately hops back towards the door.
"Okay I'm going for real this time! Have fun!" She waves once more before bolting out the exit to begin her maidhunt.
Silence descends upon the room once again. Kyouko's mouth opens as she starts to say something, but it clicks back shut as she decides to not tempt Flandre's return. You wait expectantly for the blonde wrecking-ball to barrel back in, until Mystia breaks the oppressive quiet with a brittle laugh.
"Is she always this... excited?" She asks, watching the doorway with trepidation.
"She wasn't so hyperactive earlier." You say. "But, well, we all saw that doesn't count for much. I'll keep watch outside while you two get ready."
You stride out the doorway without waiting for their response, taking up position against the wall to minimize your profile. The entire hall is clear for the moment, but you don't let your guard down in the least. The two ladies limp out a few seconds later, Mystia once again using Kyouko as a living crutch.
"I'd say the big hole up there is your best bet." You prompt, pointing out Marisa's impromptu entrance.
"Right!" Kyouko says, giving her counterweight a strained smile. "All we gotta do is fly out up there and we're golden!"
Mystia gives a weak shake of her head. "I'm not... I don't think I can."
"Look, I'll help you up, it'll be fine." Kyouko reassures her, touching a hand to her friend's back.
Mystia takes a deep breath to steady herself.
"I have to try, don't I?" She offers her support a wan smile, readily returned, before carefully breaking free and stepping clear of you both. Her wings slowly, shakily, twitch outwards. Everything is fine until they unfold about half-way; the moment they reach too far, something pops. Her mouth and eyes shoot wide open in a mixture of shock and agony as she collapses to her knees, sudden tears streaming down her cheeks.
"I- it- it-" Her words die off into pained sobs as she hunches over, hugging her arms tightly around herself. Kyouko emits a strangled noise of panic as she kneels down next to the crippled girl.
"Oh god, oh god, that's bad, oh shit." She breathlessly rambles, completely at a loss for what to do.
You cast a glance over your shoulder, wary of any guards who may have heard this.
"Well, this is bad." You note. __________
[ ] You could easily tear a way to the outside with your digger, but its charge will certainly be exhausted in the process. Still, it'll be quick and safe.
[ ] You're loathe to use up the digger, but at the same time you can't leave Mystia stranded here. Haul her up and carry her along as you search for an exit.
[ ] You've fulfilled your end of the bargain; it's not your fault Mystia is too badly hurt to fly. Leave them and press onwards.
Can they operate the digger? If so, [x] Give the digger to Kyouko after making sure they can operate it and move onward. You can't really help protect Mystia as she is crippled which would hinder your battle capabilities. This is especially devastating if we need to mobilize quickly, given that she can't. We can give Kyouko a sidearm or something of the like if she requires additional firepower of something of the like.
While they can operate it, it's not going to be as effective as if AE himself were tunneling. Also, there's the benefit of having the combat monster stick with them to annihilate any guards and ensure they make it.
It's a bit riskier for them to go it alone, but it's still a viable course of action.
[x] You're loathe to use up the digger, but at the same time you can't leave Mystia stranded here. Haul her up and carry her along as you search for an exit.
Mission takes priority so we shouldn't waste a charge trying to protect sombody. It's possible that the digger could be of use after our interrogation of Remilia. We shouldn't be heartless and just leave them there either. It's a long shot but maybe they could pay back their debt some day.
You don't have much time to waste here, but you can spare time for a good cause.
Besides, you did say you'd help get Mystia out.
"Give me room, please." You say, crouching next to the quivering wreck of a girl. Kyouko hesitantly backs up as your eyes wander over Mystia's shredded back, and you find the problem nigh-instantly. Jagged gashes have been torn into both wings at the base, and the left one just cracked in half. It's little wonder she reacted so badly when they opened up.
"Oh, that's uncalled for." You mutter, pointing the wounds out. Kyouko leans in to take a closer look, her face twisting up in revulsion.
"I am gonna kill a bitch." She says, voice low.
Mystia shivers, silent now save for ragged snatches of breath.
"How you doing?" You ask. She painstakingly cranes her neck to look up, ashen-faced.
"What do you think?" She wipes a sleeve across her face, smearing tears and blood and grime over the torn garment.
"Perhaps that was a bad question." You admit. "I know it hurts, but we have to get moving before someone else arrives."
Anything further is cut off by a sharp whistling from above and behind you. A fairy guard hovers in the hole leading to the library, frantically waving to whoever's behind her.
"For example." You add, taking aim.
"Guys, I found 'em! Over here!" She calls, right before a burst of red energy smashes into her face and knocks her spiraling down. You glance at Kyouko, her arm outstretched and her open palm coated with rapidly-fading crimson magic. A look of intense satisfaction is spread across her face.
"Bitch status equals killed." She jerks a thumb down the hall. "Now let's move before the rest of them show up."
"This is a good plan." Mystia weakly agrees. "Please go with it."
"Gladly." You effortlessly sweep the girl up in a bridal carry and she tightly wraps her arms around your neck. It takes some effort to get your rifle ready as well, but you manage to hold it in your off-hand. "I'll cover the rear, you take point."
"You got it." Kyouko nods, taking the lead as you back up after her. You hardly make it halfway down the hall before more fairies start to pour out of the hole.
"On second thought, run!" You amend, spinning around and launching into a sprint. You quickly pass Kyouko up, but she puts on a burst of speed and matches you. Mystia shrinks against you as the air is filled with wordless shouting from the guards.
"Not sure if you've noticed, but my hands are full!" You snap back. "Get the tube-shaped one!"
She reaches over, wrenches a grenade off your belt, fumbles with the pin, and lobs it over her shoulder.
"Cover your ears!" You say; both girls obediently follow the order just as the flash goes off. The horde's shouting turns into a bevy of anguished cries along the lines of "MY EYES", "AAAAAARGH", and "WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING TO ME."
"Go! Go!" You urge, hanging a left at the next intersection and blitzing down the hall. _____
"Dress it up all you want, but there's only so much detail you can put into running away." Remilia states, slouching down in her chair. "Skip ahead?"
"Sounds good to me." You reply. _____
"Right, I think we've lost them." You say, taking a moment to pause and let Kyouko catch her breath. She's bent double, hand on the wall to support her. Mystia is too busy hugging you very, very tightly to pay much attention to the world around her.
"About time." Kyouko pants, rising back up and wiping a hand across her forehead. "Thought they'd never give up."
"T-they're gone?" Mystia pipes in, finally relaxing her hold on you.
The door you're resting in front of opens, revealing a trio of fairy guardswomen on their way out. The entire crew double-takes as they take you in.
"Sup." Kyouko smoothly greets, throwing them off even more. Their golden-haired leader peers at your passenger, looking faintly horror-struck.
"Oh my." She says.
Mystia offers up a sad little wave. "Hi." She says, smile strained.
"I don't feel like dealing with you right now." You gruffly say. "Go away."
"I- yes." The fairy says, drawing back. Her subordinates share worried looks as they follow suit. "We'll, uh, we'll just show ourselves out."
"Ye-" Kyouko cuts herself off with a shake of the head. "Actually, would you mind pointing out the closest exit? We're on our way out and all that."
The blonde's brows rise up. "Seriously?"
The maid glances at you and Mystia, and her eyes shut tight as she pinches her nose.
"I wouldn't normally do this, you understand." She grudgingly says. "We've got the kitchen back through the dining room in there, and an exit outside for anyone who wants to enjoy the sun while they eat."
Everything grinds to a halt as all present turn to stare at her. She shifts uncomfortably.
"Don't mention it." The blonde frowns. "Seriously, don't. I like having my job."
One of the other fairies clears her throat. "Boss? I think I heard something from, say, that way?"
"Y'know, I think I did too." The leader agrees. "Let's go check it out."
Both fairies fall in step with their commander as she marches past you, and the one that had remained silent waves when the other two aren't looking. Kyouko releases a held breath once they're out of immediate earshot.
"So." She glances towards you, brow raised. "Did you know that they were just going to give in like that?"
"I was going to shoot them if they didn't." You admit.
"Huh." Mystia adds.
"Let's be off, then!" You say, walking in line with the maid's directions. __________
"Right, let me count this out." Remilia raises a hand and starts ticking off fingers. "You've met gate fairies that are bloodthirsty, interior guards that are cowards, Patchouli's über-fairy who was incompetent, and found the handiwork of some downright sadists. Finally, you cap it all off with a group that don't understand the meaning of guard duty." She sighs heavily. "Inconsistent bunch, aren't they?"
"Maybe I should review your hiring policies." You offer.
The vampire smirks. "Hire the rampaging assassin? That's a good one." __________
You step inside the kitchen, Kyouko taking point once again. It's a mess inside, all manners of cooking implements scattered around and the floor slick with spilled water. A door hangs open, the room it contains too dark to make anything out. A trail of blood winds into the kitchen from inside the blackness, and Mystia clutches you tightly at the sight.
"Please don't go in there." She pleads, burying her face against your chest. You share a look with Kyouko, who looks faintly ill.
"That sounds good." She agrees, edging away from the doorway. You take a wary look around for Flandre, but it seems she's either checked things out already or just hasn't shown up yet. Either way, you don't feel like lingering.
"What about there?" You suggest, pointing out the only other door.
"Lemme check, first." Kyouko says, and you stand back as she sticks her head out the doorway. She sidles out moments later, popping back in only to wave for you to follow. Sunlight streams down upon the gardens when you step outside, and you take a moment to admire the pleasing arrangement of the flowers before you move on.
"Are we heading out the gate?" Mystia asks, looking around cautiously.
"They'll be watching it." You reply. "You're going through the wall."
"What." She asks, giving you a blank look.
"Huh?" Kyouko echoes.
"The digger." You say, exasperated. The greenette 'ah's before snatching the tool from you.
You gently set your passenger down in a patch of grass by the wall. She lies down on her side, wrapping her arms around herself, and simply breathes in and out. Kyouko stops fiddling with the tool at the sight, her face drawing tight. She looks away after a few seconds, exhaling sharply.
"So." You begin. "Want me to show you how that thing works?"
"It's just point and shoot and don't let it melt my foot off, right?" She replies, lightening up somewhat.
"Pretty much, yes." You admit.
"Shouldn't be too hard, then." She says, heading over to the wall and setting to work. You start to patrol back and forth, keen eyes scanning for any movement. The only noise is from the rhythmic thrumming of the digger as it melts a path through the brick wall.
"Hey, AE?" Kyouko eventually asks, not taking her eyes off her work.
"Hm?" You respond, stopping.
"I wanted to say thanks." A pause. "Seriously."
"You asked so nicely when we met." You sardonically reply.
"I'm trying to pay you a compliment here, geez." She says, disgruntled. "Don't ruin it."
"Where did you find this guy, anyway?" Mystia asks, sitting up a little.
"Ran into her on my way past the gatekeeper." You say, starting back up. "She decided to lend me a hand in exchange for my help in getting you out."
"Oh." The sparrow falls quiet. "That's... thank you."
Your reply is cut off by a flash of movement from one of the upper mansion windows. You snap your rifle towards it, but the shadow ducks away before you ventilate it.
"How're you doing back there?" You ask, dropping to one knee.
"I can see out the other side!" Kyouko calls back. "This thing's pretty awesome!"
"Well, that's great, but we're going to have company soon, so hurry up."
"Oh no." Mystia says, pulling herself to her knees.
It's a tense wait as you watch intently, ready to blast anyone stupid enough to show themselves.
"Got it!" Kyouko exclaims, popping back out of the hole. She lobs the digger your way, and you snatch it out of the air as she hauls Mystia back to her feet.
Then every single window is flung open at once, guards leaping out and charging towards you. You immediately open fire, snapping from fairy to fairy with each shot.
"BONZAIIIIIIIII!" They scream, swarming out at an alarming rate.
"Oh my god." Mystia croaks, aghast.
"Aw, hell." Kyouko agrees.
"I'll hold them! Go!" You order, unloading more and more fire into the oncoming horde. There has to be at least a hundred of them soaring at you now, the air filled with a cacophony of wordless shouting.
"There's an assload of them!" Your erstwhile companion points out, no small amount of panic in her voice.
"Go!" You repeat.
She hesitates only a moment longer before wordlessly lurching through the hole.
Your rifle clicks dry.
You've hardly cast the weapon aside before the tide of bodies rolls over you, hacking and bashing and cutting away with manic fury. Even with your digger melting whoever falls into its path, there's still so many swarming around that the sheer weight of their assault drives you down to your knees. A lucky strike knocks the digger loose from your grip as they keep pounding away at you.
"Get off!" You snarl, pulling a pair of incendiary grenades loose. A flick of the thumbs send pins flying loose, and with a sound like glass crashing the grenades ignite, white-hot fire spreading over your entire body in an instant. As they recoil back, you surge to your feet and crush one's skull with a burning fist. Fairies are shattered irrevocably with every subsequent blow, their warcries turning to screams of terror and panic at this sudden reversal. They're packed so tightly together from their charge that the flames spread through the crowd rapidly, everyone pushing and shoving and tripping over themselves in a desperate bid to get away.
Once they're all off, you take a moment to pat out the fires engulfing you. The gardens themselves are alight as well, burning up at a rapid clip and sending smoke trailing into the sky. A good chunk of the fairies are now alight, the air filled with their cries of pain and the soft noise of their death explosions. As this chaos reigns, a scarce handful have rallied and now stand before you.
"Halt!" Their leader tremulously orders, spear levied at you in a white-knuckle grip.
You pause, turn around, and walk away.
"What." She says, dumbfounded, as you retrieve the digger and rifle, reloading the latter before returning to where you were.
"You were saying?" You ask, resting the gun on your shoulder.
"Um, halt?" She says, clearly thrown off.
You take exactly one step ahead.
"Nuts." Another fairy curses.
"Yep, we're boned." A third conversationally adds.
The head of the pack takes a sharp, deep breath before she launches herself ahead, but you twist out of the way of her thrust and smash her down with an overhead hammer-blow; she crashes into the tiled pathway with enough force to send bits of pavement flying. The rest of the fairies stare blankly, first at you, then at the new hole at their feet.
"Welp." One remarks, before spinning on a heel and walking away. The rest quickly follow her, all too eager to avoid being the subjects of a repeat performance.
There's a rush of air behind you, and you twist out of the way just in time to avoid a knife to the back of the head. That only leaves you with the literal wave of knives flying at you. You hurl yourself out of the way with all the grace of a buffalo, smashing into the ground hard as the steel whirlwind rages overhead. There's a sound of rending metal near your right arm, and a quick glance reveals a horrid gash across the armor.
"Anti-tank knives?" You wonder. "That's a hell of a thing."
"And that's just one of my tricks." A new voice calmly notes, and you immediately jump back to your feet to see a woman leaning up next to the hole in the wall.
White hair and a matching headdress, blue eyes, blue dress, no wings, a knife clutched firmly in one hand, a golden pocketwatch in the other. She holds herself with perfect confidence, her gaze on you serene and unwavering.
"Miss Izayoi, I assume." You greet. She smiles faintly at your recognition.
"The one and only." She replies. "You would be AE, correct?"
"Tack a five-one-two-six-two to the end and you've got it, yes. How'd you learn it?"
"Oh, I've been watching ever since you came outside. You almost shot me, remember?"
"That was you in the window?" You ask, and she nods. "Well, that would explain how all the guards knew where to go running."
"I thought I'd let the footsloggers have a go at it first." She explains, idly inspecting her fingernails. "They get so antsy if I deal with an intruder before they take a crack at it."
"It was also a convenient way to see how good I was, I assume?"
"Naturally. The way you dealt with them was... interesting, to be sure." She casts a worried look at the smoldering gardens. "Although Meiling is going to end you for it when she gets back up."
"It seemed the best option at the time." You helplessly spread your arms. "Anyway, she'll have to get in line."
"Patchouli's going to end you too, yes." She notes. "Tell me, do you always wreck everything when you do this?"
"Usually." You shrug. "Now, I really hope you let the two young ladies get away."
"Do I really seem the type of person to go around stabbing people on their way out?" She asks, brow arched.
She rolls her eyes theatrically. "Fine, your two little friends are perfectly unharmed. I have standards, after all."
"Just wondering." You raise your rifle, finger on the trigger. Her eyes narrow. "Ready?" You prompt.
"Always." She flings herself sideways just as you open fire, hand clamping down on her watch, and the woman literally blinks out of existence. Bullets smash against brick, and the air whistles with the sound of flying metal. You look up to see a bevy of knives heading your way, and you hurl yourself out of the way just in time to avoid them.
She reappears behind you, then above, then to your side, more and more and more knives surrounding you with every moment.
"This doesn't seem a little unfair to you?" You ask, sizing up the loose dome of deadly blades now surrounding you.
"Not in the least." She replies, once again reappearing ahead of you.
"I don't suppose we could call this a draw?" You hopefully ask.
The knives all inch closer.
"Suppose not." You sigh.
You squeeze a quick burst of fire out as you charge ahead, but once again the maid blinks out of sight, and all the blades fly towards you as one. You leap, pulling the digger out and sweeping it across a wave of knives to annihilate them, and you twist mid-flight to squeeze through the newfound gap. The sound of rending metal tells you your dodge wasn't entirely successful. You spin around and fire away at the woman floating above you. She blinks out of the way yet again, and windows shatter from stray gunfire. More knives rain down on you, but this time you're ready to dance out of the way. One last burst of lead flies out of your rifle before it clicks dry, the bullets finding a home in masonry and little else. She phases out of the last volley and reappears directly in front of you.
"My goodness, but you're a terrible shot." She taunts, twirling a jagged blade in her off hand. "Is that really the best you can do?"
"Why don't you come over here and find out?" You challenge, levelling the digger at her.
"And get in range of that?" She looks vaguely disgusted. "Do you take me for a fool?"
"I was hoping you were." You admit. __________
[ ] If ever there was a time to go all-out, this was it.
[ ] Maids can't catch you if you're on fire.
[ ] To win, you first have to lose. Make it convincing and, when she lets her guard down, commence electroshock therapy.
[ ] There comes a time where a man must admit he is outgunned. Fortunately, this is where close air support comes into play.
You quickly go over several plans of attack as you wait for the maid to make her next move. To a one, they all fail thanks to the simple fact that your opponent can stop time.
Quite frankly, you're not seeing a way out that doesn't involve very drastic measu-
"Hey, you guuuuuuuuys!"
Or Flandre could lean halfway out of a window to wave at the both of you. She's swapped the pajamas for a proper red dress.
"Mistress." The maid calmly greets.
"Flandre." You add, causing Sakuya to ever-so-slightly double-take at you. "How'd you find us?"
"I just followed all the screams!" The blonde cheerily replies, leaning forward even further.
"There were quite a few." Sakuya acknowledges. "I'd much prefer if you would go back inside while I handle this."
"Hm, yeah, noooAGH!" She yelps, slipping over the ledge. The blonde spins through the air like a yo-yo, hair flying every which-way, before she lands picture-perfectly and springs upright.
"An excellent landing, Mistress, but you really should go back." Sakuya says, eyebrows creasing together.
"Nope!" Flandre waves a hand dismissively, completely unperturbed by the steam burning up from her skin. "I want in!"
"I'm having enough trouble as it is." You say. "You joining her means I'm doomed."
The vampire flashes brightly, and three other Flandres split off from the main one.
"This is even worse." You groan, and the original cocks her head sideways.
"Who said I was helping Sakuya?" She asks; the maid blinks in surprise as Flandre and a copy fly to your side, the other two moving to the woman opposite.
"You get two of me and she gets two!" The original cheerily says, hovering in front of you.
Her copy offers two thumbs-up. "Yeah! Everyone wins!"
"Leaving aside the fact that we were trying to kill each other, I can see this getting confusing very quickly." Sakuya notes, trying her best to remain stoic as the two blondes take their place behind her. In response, the original Flandre tosses her hat away while the other one flanking you casually tears off her shirt sleeves.
"Problem solved!" They simultaneously reply. Sakuya's pair crack their knuckles while yours start stretching in preparation for the big fight.
"You are actually doing this." The maid wonders.
"Yep." Hatless Flandre drawls.
Sakuya's fingers twitch. She inhales shaply, and-
"Wait, wait, wait a sec, I just realized something!" Hatless says, suddenly put-out.
"What now, Mistress?" Sakuya sighs wearily. The clones mill about uncertainly as the blonde turns your way.
"You!" She thrusts a finger into your chest. "Spellcards!"
"What about them?" You ask.
"You use a gun! It shoots bullets! This kills the maid!" The girl punctuates each sentence with another forceful poke, each one leaving a miniscule dent in your armor.
"I thought I was doing well for myself." Sakuya quietly says.
The girl delivers one last vicious stab hard enough to drive you back an inch. "Unless you want me to blow you up, we're using spellcards." She stamps her foot down, hands on hips. __________
"Think she picked that commanding streak up from you." You add, eliciting a smile from Remilia.
"Flandre's always been..." She pauses, as if to delicately pick through shattered glass. "Forceful, shall we say."
"I learned as much." You say.
"Let's just say she wasn't entirely helpful." __________
"I think it's a very good idea." You slowly say, hand raised in a placating manner.
"Good! Now, I'm guessing you don't have any cards, right?" Flandre claps her hands together, leaning closer with an eager gleam in her eye.
"Corre-" You start, but the girl holds a hand up.
"Doesn't matter!" She says. "Sakuya, get it started!
"Do you wish to engage in a Spellcard Duel?" Sakuya tonelessly asks.
You nod, and all your equipment shimmers brightly for a moment before the lights die off.
"So that's it?" You ask, giving your weapons a double-check. The maid dips her head, so you fire a quick burst at one of the opposite Flandres; she takes the brightly-colored shots full on the forehead and pitches back with a yowl.
"That was mean." Enemy Flandre Number Two chastises, smiling despite herself.
Enemy Flandre Number One flies back to her feet, eyes wild. "I'm gonna stick my thumbs in your eyes!" She screeches, and you sidestep a sudden burst of laser fire.
"Shut it!" Sleeveless Flandre orders, only to be met by a startlingly rude gesture before Sakuya slaps the offending hand down.
"Oh, it's on!" Hatless Flandre shouts, launching herself at the angry clone with an inarticulate yell. The double meets her with a dropkick, and the two get locked into a knock-down drag-out brawl.
"And now, Mistress, I ask why." Sakuya wearily says, massaging her forehead in a fruitless attempt to ward off an inbound headache.
"He seems fun!" Your other Flandre shamelessly explains. "And so far things have been pretty exciting around him, so, yeah!"
"Of course." Sakuya sighs with the air of one long-suffering.
"So, uh, what are we waiting for?" Your Flandre wonders, and Sakuya's copy shrugs helplessly before ducking a stray laser.
"I'unno." She turns to her servant. "What are we waiting for?"
"Perhaps you would like to engage our intruder, Mistress?" The woman offers, tilting her head slightly to avoid another beam.
The blonde squints, looking you up and down as you steady your footing.
"Eh, why not?" She leaps skyward in the blink of an eye and dives. You hurl yourself out of the way just as the blonde crashes where you were hard enough to make a crater. Sleeveless whistles as you climb back to your feet.
"Boy, I don't envy you!" She cheerfully claps a hand on your arm. "Good luck!"
"What are you going to do?" You ask, rifle raised as the Flandre opposite starts pulling herself out of the freshly-made hole.
"I'mma deal with Sakuya!" She takes off in a flash, leaving you to face the dizzy girl swaying back and forth.
"Ow." She plainly states, eyes crossed.
"You all right?" You ask, edging closer. She shakes her head vigorously, and her eyes clear up as she fixes you with a dazzling grin.
"I'm good!" She says, lifting off the ground. "Let's do this!"
You open fire as she flies up and sprays waves of red bullets at you. Several explode against your armor as you try to dodge, and they sting even through the thick plating. You dart and weave through the hail of bullets and lasers and knives as she does the same; she's much better at it, if mainly thanks to being airborne. More stray shots nearly clip her, but she pirouettes out of the way gracefully.
"Watch it!" She shouts, waving a fist at the two Flandres still beating the tar out of each other. Several of your bullets wing her, sending the girl spinning around before she regains her balance.
"Get your head in the game!" You rebuke, keeping the pressure on.
"You asked for it!" She retorts, and you promptly regret your words when she sprays a dense wall of bullets down. You hastily backpedal, and as her barrage starts to break apart you seize an opening and sprint for it.
That only leaves, oh, the other seven waves of bullets.
Boosters engage and everything slows, giving you time to take the whole formation in. You're able to find a clear path through it all after a few moments of study, and then you move.
Two steps forward.
Steam vents as boosters deactivate, and Flandre eases up for a moment.
"Nice moves!" She compliments, dipping closer to the ground. You pull a grenade free.
"Thank you!" You reply, lobbing the incendiary upwards. She recoils as it breaks open mid-air, spraying magical fire all around. A part of it catches on her leg and, for the second before it kicks in, she's merely confused.
Then it spreads, and she flares into a multicolored pyre.
"Ah! Hot! Hot!" She yelps, flailing in panic as she tries to pat out the flames. This proves to be her undoing, as she takes a painful-looking cross-section of knives, lasers, and other stray projectiles straight on the chin. She spirals downwards and hits earth hard, and you make your way towards her splayed-out, burning form.
"I don't wanna play anymore." She whines, curling up into a ball as she steadily grows more and more transparent. Moments later, she's completely faded from existence.
A startled cry redirects your attention to the side, where Hatless is spinning downwards in an uncontrolled descent. You toss the rifle aside and leap forward, your outstretched arms finding themselves in sudden possession of a very surprised passenger as you hit the ground. You swiftly rise back to your feet.
"Whoa." She says, looking up at you with wide eyes. "Thanks!"
"It's what I do." You reply, letting her hop free.
She's about to say something else before a laser smashes into the back of her head, and she pitches face-first into the ground. More shots pound into you, knocking you flat on your back, and the enraged Flandre responsible zooms in. Before you can get back up, she grabs you by the leg and effortlessly swings you overhead, slamming you straight into the ground with enough force to send cracks through the pavement. Not content with just one slam, she drags you back up and flails you overhead once more.
"Die, die, die, die, die!" She snarls, punctuating each word with another smash into the ground. Your head is spinning from the abuse, each blow rattling your entire body, and the onslaught continues for a solid ten seconds before she flings you into the mansion walls. The masonry shatters on impact, and you slowly peel off and tumble to the ground.
Now you know how Meiling must have felt when you first met.
Everything is swirling and indistinct, blue and green and gray mixing together into a blurry vision of reality. Soon, red and gold join the mix, making a very familiar shape.
"Thumbs. Eyes." It hisses, reaching down to make good on its threat.
Everything snaps back to clarity.
You surge back up, boosters powering to maximum, and lay into the vampire with a punch so hard she's launched off the ground. You immediately arrest her flight by grabbing her leg and slamming her back to earth, your other hand pulling the digger free. You jam the tool against her forehead and open fire; instead of melting her head clean off, it 'merely' unleashes a colorful spray of energy that, nevertheless, tenderizes the vampire's face. When you let up shortly after, she's completely out of sorts from the sudden burst of cranial trauma.
"Supposed to be a spellcard duel." You wheeze, holstering the digger. She groans senselessly in reply.
A whistle from behind catches your attention, and you turn to see Hatless waltz up to you. She gives the fallen clone a swift, vicious kick, and smiles brightly as the copy starts to dissolve.
"To be honest, I thought she'd be tougher." You say. It aches all over, but you're already shaking off the worst of the pounding.
"It's hard to be as awesome as I usually am when the sun's burning me up." She admits, folding her arms.
"Doesn't that hurt?" You wonder.
"Not really! Anyway, watching me toss you around like that was pretty fun." She claps her hands together, grinning at you. "Your comeback was pretty great too, though!"
You blink. "Thanks?"
You glance towards the ongoing battle between your other Flandre and the maid; the latter, while certainly showing signs of wear, seems to have the advantage as her swift bladework keeps striking true. In comparison, the clone's frenzied attacks hit only air.
"Double-team?" You prompt, grabbing your discarded rifle as Flandre takes to the air.
"You know it!" She replies, and the two of you blitz towards the maid as one. The vampire quickly outpaces you, and she dive-bombs Sakuya with a joyous shout; the woman blinks out of existence just before Flandre soars through the space she used to occupy. The other Flandre reels back, arms raised as a shield, but after a few moments pass without being sliced, she lowers her guard.
"Where'd she gaaargh!" She yowls, confusion interrupted by a knife burying itself to the hilt in the back of her skull. As she sinks to the ground, rapidly fading from existence, Sakuya reappears behind her and smoothly wrenches the knife free.
"Heads up!" The original Flandre calls as she loops back for another attack run, projectiles spraying from outstretched hands. You add your fire to hers, forcing the maid into some complicated-looking gymnastics in order to dodge back. She lands in a crouch before backflipping out of the way of more shots, and she flings a pair of knives your way that nearly have an intimate meeting with your eyeballs. As you lean out of the way, she disappears once again, reappearing above Flandre with leg outstretched. As she descends, foot set to collide with the vampire's skull, you-
Well, you- __________
"Let me take a moment to say that I don't usually make a habit of looking up women's dresses." You state.
Remilia's face is blank until her lips twitch up.
"However, she really should invest in a skirt with a bit more coverage." You continue.
It's a very knowing look she's giving you, now.
"Not that I'm complaining, mind." You finish, nodding in satisfaction.
"Lech." She gently chides, smirking. __________
"Apologies, Mistress!" Sakuya warns, prompting the blonde to look up just in time to catch a painful kick to the head. The vampire goes spinning to the ground, and with her out of the way you take the shot; yet again, the maid blinks away from your shots before flinging another bevy of knives your way, and you dart out of the way.
"You are going to be in so much trouble!" Sakuya warns as Flandre springs back up and closes for hand-to-hand.
"Not if I win!" The vampire retorts, unleashing a series of rapid-fire punches at the maid. Sakuya skillfully weaves between Flandre's rapid-fire punches, knife flashing in the sunlight as it takes bites out of the vampire.
As they trade blows and banter, you pull a flashbang free. You're banking on Flandre's vampiric hearing being able to pick your warning up, otherwise you're going to have some problems once all's said and done.
"Cover your ears." You calmly state, but the two show no signs of having heard you.
You pull the pin, draw back, pitch the grenade like a fastball. Flandre ducks just as it sails overhead, hands over her ears, and Sakuya quickly steps back in alarm.
Just as the maid is about to phase away, the flashbang detonates. She reels back, blinded and disoriented, and you lay into her with a massive uppercut. She arcs through the air for several seconds before crashing back to earth in a crumpled heap.
Flandre hesitantly uncovers her ears, and she winces.
"I knew it was coming, but still. Ow." She complains, giving the burnt-out husk of the grenade an annoyed glare.
Leaving the girl to sling invectives at the flashbang underneath her breath, you head for the maid. She cracks open unfocused eyes when you reach her. Her smile is weak, but utterly confident.
"You won't beat Milady." She rasps, hand closing around her watch. "I promise you that much."
"We'll just have to see about that." You reply, fingers closing around the Arc Thrower. __________
[ ] Taze her before she can pull any more time-hacks.
[ ] On second thought, if you end up having to disable Flandre, you'd prefer the stunner to actually be a surprise. Let her go.
A glance back at Flandre stays your hand, and the next time you blink Sakuya is gone.
"Well, that was exciting." You say, relaxing somewhat.
"You know, I haven't seen someone uppercut Sakuya like that in ages." Flandre cheerfully says.
You're about to ask her for details when you hear the whistling of flying steel, just before it bites through your back armor and into flesh. You strangle a cry of pain and whirl around, rifle raised, to see the woman responsible standing atop the outer wall.
"That was quite a hit." Sakuya says, nursing her jaw. "Next time, however, don't assume just one will be enough."
"Noted." You say through grit teeth. The twitch of your trigger finger sends a salvo of lead her way, but she phases away before it connects.
"She's tricky like that." Flandre says, seemingly unconcerned by the blade embedded in your back. You reach over your shoulder and, with a pained grunt, wrench it out and toss it on the ground. The tip is bloodied an inch deep, but thankfully it didn't hit anything vital. You, perhaps vindictively, crush it beneath your bootheel.
A quick examination of the damage you've taken leaves your lips curled back in a mixture of annoyance and apprehension. "The mechanics are going to give me hell over this, I can already tell."
Flandre blinks. "Who now?"
"Being a giant hulking monster, as you put it earlier, is hardly a one-man enterprise." You say.
"Oh." She pauses to study you closely. "Yeah, that makes sense. I'm guessing you go in, squash everyone, and then they work out the kinks when you're done?"
"Got it in one."
"They've got a big job on their hands, then." She says, rocking back on her heels.
"It's been a while since I've gotten this damaged, though." You say, remembering the incident that occurred the last time you came back like this. Several days of investigation dredged up absolutely nothing, but you know it had to be them. It had to.
There was so much mayonnaise, good God.
"Hey, hey, talk to me!" Flandre says, waving a hand in front of your face. "Am I really that boring, or did you just die? It's hard to tell!"
You hurriedly shake your head. "I was just thinking back on something." You say. A glance upwards shows the clock tower looming above, and you start back towards the mansion with your mission firmly in mind, right up to the point where your tagalong crashes down in front of you.
"Flandre." You say, staring at the grinning blonde. "What are you doing?"
"What're you doing?" She replies, not budging an inch.
"Well, I was going to fight my way up to the clock tower." You say. "Meet Remilia, knock her silly, have tea and biscuits, the works."
Flandre nods. "The usual, then?"
"On the other hand," You slowly say. "there's a very good girl right in front of me whose copy, incidentally, just tossed me around like a broken toy."
She winces, her smile fading. "You want a ride?"
She sighs. "Eh, why not. Hold on!"
"Is that a whoa-" Your question is cut off when Flandre snatches you in a single fell swoop, and she begins a rapid ascent.
"So, got anything to pass the time?" She asks, blazing towards the tower with due haste.
"Well, there was this one time I charged a tank platoon on foot." You say, and after Flandre squeaks in delight you launch into the war story proper; the tale lasts until you're level with the clock tower.
And then Flandre keeps going up.
"Ah, my destination's down there." You say.
"I got an idea!" She eagerly explains.
"Flandre, please, no ideas." You say, already bracing yourself for the inevitable.
She starts spinning around, slow at first but speeding up quickly. "A one!"
"Noooooooo." You say, dragging the word out.
She cheerfully ignores you. "A two!"
"No, no, no!"
"A three!" She lets go, pitching you towards the tower with perfect accuracy. "And away you go!"
You focus on keeping your cursing internalized as you fly at the tower like a cruise missile, and you crash through the glass clock window between X and XI to land in the tower proper. The building's insides are cluttered with wooden scaffolding that lead up to the clocks proper, and a multitude of gears ceaselessly turn to keep time running. A square staircase leads down to the mansion itself.
A girl's voice gently cuts through the air. "And so he arrives."
The young lady responsible reclines on a throne of air, effortlessly maintaining her regal pose as she looks down at you. Naturally, you study her right back.
She's a small girl, but even from here she radiates a certain commanding presence you usually associate with men twice her size. Her hair, a dark shade of blue, falls to her shoulders, accentuating vividly red eyes that stare at you like a particularly interesting insect. Her hat and dress and even shoes each mix red and pink in equal measure, a small number of frills and ribbons spread throughout. Leathery wings spread out behind her, black as tar and giving a blindingly obvious warning as to her true nature.
Even knowing she'd bleed you dry given half the chance, she's so delicate-looking that it's almost hard to consider her a threat.
"Lady Scarlet, I presume." You say, rifle raised to spit fire.
"The one and only." She replies, baring her entirely too sharp teeth. "Quite an entrance. I hope you won't mind paying for it." __________
"And so we finally meet." Remilia says, smiling. "Of course, seeing as you're tied up in front of me, it's obvious how it went."
"I half-expected you to be gone." You say. "Figured you'd try hunting me down."
"If you'd taken much longer, I likely would have." She says. A pensive look crosses her face. "Now, I grow tired of merely listening. Care to listen to my version of our meeting?"
"Aren't I supposed to be the one telling the story?" You ask.
She gestures dismissively. "Not right now, you aren't." _________
The hunter regards me with wariness, his rifle trained right between my eyes. His armor, so thick I'm unsure how he's even capable of moving, is pockmarked by a staggering amount of cuts, gouges, dents, burns, and other assorted battle-wounds, yet the man himself seems hardly affected. His weapons are markedly more familiar, no small part in thanks to some of my previous encounters with a rabbit fond of firearms.
"Of all the vampire killers I've met, you're certainly..." I pause, tilt my head, and squint. "How do you even move with all that armor on, anyway?"
"I lift." He says.
"Naturally." I float down and gently touch feet to floor. "So, out of pure curiosity, how many vampires have you killed?"
He falters almost imperceptibly. "What?"
I pause a moment, and then smirk as realization dances a merry jig in my mind. "You have slain at least one before, haven't you?"
"Correct." He says, just a little too quickly.
"Then who was it?" I lean in, all smiles. "Believe me, I know quite a few. Don't worry about offending me, they're crusty old bags to a one."
"Classified." Again, too quickly.
I'm grinning inside, but I school my features into the spitting image of a blushing maiden. My hands fall on my heart, my eyelids flutter, and I take a shaky step back. "I'm going to be your first, aren't I?"
"What." He says, voice flat.
"Please..." I avert my eyes and, ever so slowly, scuff a shoe against the floor. "Be gentle."
There's a crack of gunfire, a sharp, burning sensation drills through my skull, and I find myself suddenly spraying brain matter and viscera through a pair of matching holes in my head. I stumble back, both surprised and disoriented from having my brains splattered, and then the barrage starts in earnest. When the fire ceases moments later, I feel like I was just on the receiving end of a swarm of enraged wasps.
The myriad wounds spread throughout my body are already starting to knit themselves back together as I point a shaking finger at my assailant, struggling to come up with an invective sufficient to express my feelings at this moment. "You-" I start, unsteady, and his rifle spits another shot at me; the bullet burns between my clenched teeth before I spit it back out. "Dick."
"Lady, I'm here to kill you." He says. "It's to be expected."
"You dick." I repeat. One quick gesture is all it takes for Gungnir to flash into existence, and I flinging the blood-red spear at him as I dash sideways, his opening salvo ripping through the space I so recently occupied. The spear spins through the air on a direct course for his heart, but he twists out of the way just fast enough to have it scrape across his chest. It's a trivial matter to fly above his scattershot return fire and blast him with some of my own danmaku. I can't help but marvel as he starts dodging with speed unfitting his size, but my admiration is cut short as he reaches for one of the many grenades at his waist. Instead of sticking around, I simply fly through the hole in the window he so recently made; a wise decision, too, given the ear-piercing noise that resounds from inside the tower shortly after.
I swoop back in through the opposite tower window, wincing as the glass shatters; I don't look forward to the repair bills at all. He's too slow to evade my tackle, and I smash him hard into the floor, cracks spiraling throughout the tiles from the impact. My fists pound against him, cracking and denting armor with every blow, until he intercepts another strike and squeezes hard enough to crush bone into powder. Biting back an undignified shriek, I backhand him across the face, stunning him long enough for to fly back and nurse my wound. It's easy enough to reform the shreds of bone into something actually usable, but it stings like hell in the process.
"Right, I'm going to hurt you for that!" I say, pointing my reformed hand at the risen hunter. He responds by blasting away with renewed vigor as I charge, every bounding step I take fast enough that the average human could hardly make me out. Nevertheless, his reflexes are uncannily good, each shot eerily close to catching me. He's unable to score a clean kill before I'm on him, however, and I duck as he tries to bludgeon me with his gun. I duck out of the way, and as he teeters off-balance I wrench the weapon from his grasp and fling it aside. He shifts to block a follow-up punch, but instead of the blow he was expecting I simply grab him by the arm and hurl him over my shoulder, where he flies for a good second before hitting the ground and skidding out one of the clock windows. I look over the ledge just in time to see him haul himself through a lower window in the tower, so I fly out, pull a half-loop through the air, soar through the windoooooOOH THAT'S MY ARM HE JUST SHEARED OFF.
Biting back curses, I hit the ground hard and roll onwards. My remaining fingers dig into the floor, leaving five lengthy trails as I screech to a halt. I glare up at the hunter lurking next to the window, the weapon that so effectively de-limbed me held high; a priority target if ever there was one. I quickly rise up and recall Gungnir to my intact hand. He responds by drawing his sidearm as I fling the spear his way, and he twists just right so that it cuts past him and through the wall without even slowing. He opens fire with the pistol as I charge, his shots peppering the hall and shattering ornaments as I weave between the bullets. He nearly melts my face off with that shredding weapon when I reach him, but my quick dodge to the side leaves him open for my follow-up tackle. I hit him fast enough that the two of us go through the wall in a shower of plaster and masonry, and I knock the shredder loose as we tumble down towards the mansion's rooftops. He cracks his pistol across my nose hard enough to snap my head sideways, but I reply by grabbing it and crushing the barrel into so much scrap. I follow it up by repeatedly pounding my fist into his faceplate, denting and cracking the visor with each blow. He's not lazing about, either, his own fists smashing against my ribs and face and anywhere else he can reach.
We land on the arched mansion rooftops hard enough to send shingles flying, and as we both go sliding down I take flight. The hunter slides over the edge, but he grabs on one-handed just before he completely falls. I see to forming a new arm as he dangles; regrowing a whole limb is trickier than merely piecing a hand back together, naturally, so I need a moment to concentrate. Jagged shards of bone grow out of my stump, snaking outward and knitting together into a solid arm. The flesh comes next, running up the bone and terminating in a delicate hand, the skin soft and sensitive. I flex my new fingers a few times to get a feel for them.
The hunter's pulled himself back up by this point, one hand raised palm-out in a warning sign, a matte-black cylinder in his off-hand. The cap to it is flicked open, and his thumb is poised over the red button within. I'm just about to rush in and twist his head off when he clears his throat.
"Just so you know, I just planted a bomb while I was hanging there." He says.
"Ah." I say, hanging back. "And you've the detonator there, I assume?"
"Exactly. I want to negotiate terms." He says, finger precariously hovering over the switch potentially responsible for our, and more importantly my, annihilation.
"Unless they're of your surrender, I'm not interested." I say coolly.
He slides his thumb over the button, and my breath catches as I step back.
"My superiors never said I shouldn't take you alive." He says. "I give my word you'll be well treated."
"You can't be serious." I say, glaring at him.
"It's either that or I blow us both to hell." He inclines his head in what I take for a mocking nod. "I'll let you think on it for a moment." __________
"And then came the assist." You say, disgruntled. "Good job planning it, by the way."
"Actually," Remilia says, her smirk widening. "I didn't."
You feel somewhat put-out by this. "Really? I thought you had it all laid out.
"It was a happy coincidence." She says.
"For you." You say.
"For me." She agrees, smiling. __________
[ ] There's a witch with a gutful of lead and a handful of mad on the prowl.
[ ] One knife is all the maid needs.
[ ] Family is the tie that binds, and also the tie that swoops in to ruthlessly bludgeon the vampire hunter threatening your life.
I'd like AE to somehow fight off Sakuya, Marsia, Flandre and Remilia, only to have Meiling swoop in at the last minute and save the day/beat the ever-living crap out of him. Show everyone how it's done.
I keep my features carefully schooled, although the constant burning of the sun doesn't help my concentration.
"Time's up." The hunter says, his other hand going for the last weapon at his waist; a metallic, claw-shaped thing. "Do you surrender?
"You'll actually blow us up." I say, vague horror swirling in my gut.
"That's right." He says, edging closer. "I'll only ask one more time. Do you surrender?"
I stay quiet, going over my escape options as he closes in. My best chance is to wait for him to get close. With a heavy sigh, I raise my hands. "Very well." I say, giving him a bitter glare. "Do as you will."
"I knew you'd see reason." He says, but his advance is still cautious, leaving me no chance to try and disarm him.
And then Meiling leaps onto the roof from behind him, to my great surprise. My enemy twists immediately, detonator raised.
"I have-" He starts.
"Yeah, right, a bomb." The redhead waves him off dismissively. "Except there isn't any, I checked. If you're gonna bluff, man, at least try."
I give the hunter a hard stare. He looks at the detonator in his hand, then at Meiling, and finally back at me.
"Well, shit." He says. __________
"I do have to ask one thing." You say. Remilia nods, so you press on. "When I told you about my break-in, you acted like you didn't know your gatekeeper was still alive. Yet, obviously, you had to have seen her to be telling me all this."
Remilia smiles impishly. "To be more precise, I said 'Oh, damn. You killed her, didn't you?' And then I said I had no idea where she went."
"But we both know that she showed up to punch my face in near the end." You say. "What's the point?"
"I felt like seeing your reaction to blatant lies, what else?" She jabs a finger into her forehead. "Meiling must really have scrambled your brains for you to have completely overlooked it!"
"I... suppose she did?" You say, suddenly wary over how trustworthy your memory is. "Now you've got me wondering what else I might have missed."
Remilia is grinning toothily now. "Always happy to help!" __________
"Meiling?" I ask, as the hunter shifts into a close-combat stance. "Would you kindly teach this man why lying to me is wrong?"
"Gladly!" Meiling says, sprinting towards the man; her movements are oddly sluggish, however, and he leans aside, grabs her outstretched arm, and throws her off-balance. She tucks and rolls, springing back to her feet and launching herself at the man once again.
"You shouldn't be up for hours!" He says, notably agitated, as a series of kicks come dangerously close to knocking his teeth in.
"Not gonna lie, it really stung!" She replies.
His boot lashes out, taking Meiling's leg from underneath her, and she rolls away from the follow-up stomp powerful enough to leave a crater. I, meanwhile, hang back as Meiling hops back to her feet and charges once more.
"I know you like to watch, Milady," She says, her fists doing their damndest to turn the man's face into hamburger. "but maybe a little help would be good?"
"I've had enough bits taken off already." I say. "You deal with it!"
"Thanks for the support!" She says, dodging a hammer-blow from the hunter and punishing him with a solid kick to the chest.
I roll my eyes. "If you're going to be like that, fine."
She makes the mistake of looking back. "Wait, rea-"
Her words are cut off when she takes an uppercut on the jaw, launching her up and back through the air. This gives me an opening, so I charge with Gungnir in hand; each thrust I send at the man is narrowly dodged before he grabs the spear by the haft, holding it in place with astonishing strength as I try to pry it loose. Still, I keep him occupied long enough for Meiling to come back with a flying kick, nailing him in the face hard enough to send him flying. As he sails over the rooftop ledge, the two of us share a look.
"After you." I say, gesturing down below. Meiling leaps over the edge, no further encouragement necessary. I give it a moment before jumping after her, more than happy to let her take the brunt of his attention.
When I touch down, the hunter is on the offensive, forcing Meiling to dodge and block his uncannily quick blows. At least, until she weaves aside from one, shoulder-checks him off-balance, ducks a retaliatory swing, and finally her arm shoots out to nail him straight on the chest. His entire chestplate cracks as a burst of red chi explodes out from her fist, and he's launched upwards so fast and so high that for a moment I'm worried he'll break through the clouds.
We both watch in silence as he keeps climbing.
Meiling wipes a sleeve across her forehead, her smile victorious. "God, I love using Mountain Breaker. There's just so much punch to it, y'know?"
"It really is impressive." I say, looking at her out of the corner of my eye. "You weren't at your best, I noticed."
She huffs. "Didja see that little claw-shaped thing he had on his belt? Learned firsthand at the library that it shoots lightning."
"And yet here you stand." I say, unimpressed. "It can't have hurt you that badly."
"You obviously haven't been zapped by it." She says, giving me a Look, the kind that needs capitalization so you know how serious it is. My response dies in my throat as the man begins his fall to earth, which I watch with no small amount of concern.
"You didn't kill him, did you?" I ask.
"If he isn't dead now, he will be in about, oh, ten seconds." Meiling says, squinting at the falling man and his rapid descent.
"I'm docking your pay if he dies." I say. Her head snaps back to me, her expression equal parts unamused and incredulous.
"Oh, come on." She plants her hands on her hips. "You're gonna penalize me for doing my job?"
"I can't very well interrogate a dead man, can I?"
"I'm pretty sure Patchouli-"
I jab my finger at the rapidly-approaching figure. "Go catch him!"
"All right fine jeez." She kicks off the ground, flying to intercept. I lean against the nearest wall and patiently wait as she burns through the air to retrieve him. Thankfully, she makes it in time, and the man is limp in Meiling's arms when she touches back down in front of me. She's oddly gentle in setting him in the grass. I look at her, brow quirked, and say nothing. She stares back, not bothered by my gaze.
"Got a problem, Mistress?" She asks, folding her arms across her chest.
"You're being very nice to a man who was just trying to kill me." I say, tilting my head his way.
She sheepishly runs a hand through her hair at my rebuke. "Well, it's just that the man throws a damn good punch, y'know? The least I can do is show him some respect when he's down."
"Right." I say, unamused. "Well, I certainly hope that's the end of all this excitement."
My ears prick up as I make out a faint roaring noise, and I curse my words beneath my breath.
"More excitement?" Meiling asks, already tensing up for action.
"Appears so." I say, already flying up to see for myself. Meiling catches up a moment later.
An ugly, ball-shaped aircraft is flying towards the mansion from across the lake. A pair of cylindrical engines jut out, one on each end of the ship, both of them outputting vast amounts of exhaust. A roof-mounted turret swivels back and forth, tracking for targets, and even from this distance I notice when it stops and locks on to me.
"How likely would you say they're friendly?" I ask, already lining up a shot with Gungnir.
"Not very." Meiling says.
The ship's turret opens fire, and the two of us hastily move aside as their bullets fly past to gouge chunks out of the mansion.
"That answers that!" I say, and toss Gungnir. The spear pierces through a turbine with a great explosion, sending the craft spinning out of control. A hatch on the bottom of the ship, previously concealed, opens up, and a trio of misshapen metal creatures leap out before their ship crashes into the lake. They fly across the waters, exhaust trailing from behind them, and touch down on the shoreline before scuttling for cover in the nearby woods.
"I somehow doubt they're just going to go away." I say, pointing out their hiding place. "Deal with them, will you?"
"Sure thing." Meiling says, smiling with anticipation. "What about you?"
I glance down at the fallen hunter. "I've a few questions to ask our friend."
"Well, have fun with that." She says, and with that she takes off towards the trees.
"Try not to get shot!" I call after her. __________
"I won't bore you with the minutia of how I tied you up and dragged you here." Remilia says, rising from her seat. "Now that the story proper is over, however, I've still a few questions to ask."
You're suddenly acutely aware of the gunfire that still rings throughout the distance every so often. You remain quiet, mulling over the new information Remilia provided as the vampire walks up to you. She stops close enough to reach out and cup your chin in her hand.
"So, my friend," She says, forcing you to look her in the eyes. "Why are you really here?"
"To ki-" You begin, but she shakes your head.
"No, no, we both know that's not it." She says calmly. "If you really wanted to kill me, I'm sure you'd have come better prepared. What kind of assassin brings a stunning weapon?"
"Fine, you got me." You say without rancor. "I'm actually here to steal Flandre. You want to keep that adorable bundle of explosions locked away in a basement all the time? I don't think so."
Remilia lets go, the corner of her mouth quirked upwards. "Words like adorable don't sound right coming from your lips, just so you're aware."
"I blame the armor, personally." You say.
"Besides that," She says, paying no heed to you. "if you were really interested in Flandre, you'd have wasted several opportunities to try and make off with her."
"All right, I can see that's not going to work." You say, deadly serious. "Suppose I've nothing else to give but the truth."
"Do tell!" She says, leaning toward you with anticipation.
And then the wall to your left explodes, knocking you both down from sheer kinetic force as masonry and glass fly throughout the room. As dust fills the air and bullets fly into the room, a car-sized piece of rubble crashes down on top of Remilia with the telltale crackling of bones being crushed into jelly.
Your struggle to break loose suddenly meets with success now that Remilia has all the consistency of pudding, and you scramble to your feet in time to stare up the nose of a gun with electricity darting around in its chamber. Before you can move, electricity shoots out and courses through your armor; the damage the suit's taken is bad enough that a good portion of the voltage gets through, rooting you in place and keeping the pain flowing. You try to reach up and knock the mech's stunner aside, but a swift boot to the chest sends you sprawling.
Your eyes track up the stunner's barrel to its owner; a grinning metallic skull glares back at you with unnaturally bright blue eyes, and its face is distorted by odd bits of junk bolted on seemingly at random. The same applies to the rest of the mech's body, making for a robot that looks like it was cobbled together entirely from scraps and prayer. A dozen of the mech's comrades sweep past it, their movements precise and efficient as they search the room for any other hostiles.
Everything burns, and black encroaches on the corners of your vision.
And then Meiling, that beautiful, wonderful, amazing woman, takes the mech's head off with a flying kick. As you try to regain your breath, Meiling hauls the twitching mech up by the legs and tosses it into the thick of the enemy squad, bowling several of them over as the rest start shooting.
You can't see what happens after she charges in as your vision is filled entirely by the ceiling, but from the sounds of machinery being rent to pieces, you think she's got it under control. __________
[ ] While Meiling's busy and Remilia's so much jelly, now's your chance to run!
[ ] You're ready to tear something apart, and there's plenty to crush in this very room.