Previous Thread: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/25168557/Archive:http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=Joker%20QuestEquipment FAQ:http://pastebin.com/CQfrwBnDPlayer List:http://pastebin.com/rRSM6LgWTwitter: https://twitter.com/JokerQuestOPRecap: You are ANON, the RED JOKER. In our last instalment, your expedition to NOCTUS - with the BLACK TRI-STARS - and the mysterious 'dead zone' has had unforeseen consequences. Now, you find yourself in the MANOR OF DUSK - and face-to-face with HECATE.
>>25276125Around you, the chamber is starlight-dark and midnight-silent. Every now and then, a sound breathes through the black space, a sound like the keening of mournful winds. The air hushes around you, the black tiles underfoot long worn dull - The wall lights casting a faint, twitching illumination...One that does nothing at all to ease the darkness, and only serves to make it dirty."Anon-kun." Hecate's voice is soft, and achingly familiar - Her pale silhouette limned by the light, her paler face starkly visible. Her footfalls make no sound, as she paces towards you; Tilting her head back, a soft, sweet smile on her lip; Her delicate, almost elfin, features crowned by spiralling horns."Anon-kun...I've missed you so much."Her slender arms are outstretched, welcoming - As if already embracing you, as you sway to your feet with a growl of ossified joints. Your targeting sensors are registering...-Confusion.But then, Hecate's targeting signature was always false echoes and ghost readings."...Why didn't you come find me?"HP: 130.0%COBALT BOOSTER: 150%ASSAULT SHROUD: 150%METER: 12% TIER ONE WEAPONRY UNLOCKED
>>25276350"I thought you were dead. Anyone would think you were dead, after that happened."I have a baaaaaad feeling about this.But then I've always had a bad feeling about Hecate.
>>25276350Well, shit. This is all kinds of awkward. Where are the black tri-stars.
>>25276350"I thought the worst had happened. I mourned. I killed some people to vent some frustration at having lost you. And now here we stand.""As nice as it is to finally reunite, how can I trust you're not a doppelganger?"Turn that paranoia up to Shadowrun levels.
>>25276436We should get Bishamon. He seems like an expert in awkward situations.
Hey OP, good to see you.>>25276350"I looked for you. I checked places I knew you frequented, places we'd been together. What reason did I have to check this place? The Manor showed me the ghosts of my past--do you think I ever wanted to count you among them?"
>>25276425"...After what happened..."Her voice trails off, as she cants her head to the side - A slow gesture, a thoughtful one - before her lips curve in that same slow smile. > "As nice as it is to finally reunite, how can I trust you're not a doppelganger?"Her pale fingers curl around your wrist - Cradling it, with exquisite delicacy - to bring your hand against her heart. Your fingers encounter something soft, something yielding, as you hear the soft rustle of lace against creamy skin...-But you feel nothing at all. You never could, through your armor. "-Do I *feel* dead~?" Hecate asks - There's an aching note to her voice, as if she's trying not to cry. "I don't..." she says; Her eyes moisten, and she lets your hand fall. "I...I was hoping you'd know."> "I thought the worst had happened. I mourned. I killed some people to vent some frustration at having lost you. And now here we stand."She nods - Biting her lip, her brow furrowing. "Please understand - I didn't want this for you. I - I don't want you to think badly of me."The words - They sound familiar, somehow. Like a memory of something that never actually happened. >>25276441> "I looked for you. I checked places I knew you frequented, places we'd been together. What reason did I have to check this place? The Manor showed me the ghosts of my past--do you think I ever wanted to count you among them?"She reaches up, towards your face - This close to touching, to cradling the angular lines of your helm...Before a little laugh thrums from her lips, on that doesn't sound like a laugh at all. (Continued)
"Oh, Anon-kun...The past - It's all around us. All that matters..." Her emerald gaze slides away from you, taking in the cavernous hall in it's entirety - "...Is whether we choose to dig it up.">>25276487>>25276436It occurs to you - You're alone. Where are Bishamon and Volt Regios? You came through the door together, but...The slow sweep of your sensors reveal nothing: Not even the faintest echoes. You're not even sure where *you* are - The dimensions of the chamber seem to shift and roil at the edges, the walls undulating like curtains in the breeze- As far as you can tell, the hallway extends before you - Branching off into three paths: Left, right and ahead, though the first two are mere blurs. Behind you, a spiralling ivory staircase leads both up and down at once, in an elegant curve; An intricate arc, like the curl of a conch shell, segmented into overlapping steps. ...When you look back, Hecate is already departing - Her slender form about to turn the left-hand corner, with one last, searching glance back over her shoulder...-And then, she's gone. [ ] FreeYOU HAVE CONTROL
>>25276775Follow but be weary. We don't know where this particular rabbit hole goes.....Check the Nihl. See if it's acting more finicky than usual. As the Nihl was originally Hecate's.
>>25276775I dunno about the rest of you, but that staircase has my attention.I say we go up.
>>25276775Definitely kicking myself for not asking Tyrian WHERE the gate was going to open.[X] FreeDespite being pretty sure the other two paths would lead us to our companions I kind of think we should follow Hecate. Though I'm almost certain this isn't really her I think there may be a chance to learn certain truths should we follow her.
>>25276775In the real world this was a giant evil mansion that dredged up the most horrifying event we'd experienced to date in order to play a game with us.We are now in that mansion, in the alternate dimension where everything is worse/has extra teeth.Does this chamber have any relation to what we remember from the Manor in Nara Dreamland? I assume no, but there's always the chance that something looks familiar.This isn't Hecate, but she never led us wrong that we know. I say follow. We ought to track down the Morpheus fellow who runs the attraction, ask him exactly why he knows how to pull our strings when Akira's the one with the Joker's Memory.
>>25276817The Nihl Sphere's glow is always dull, always sullen - But this time, when the orb settles in your hand, it *hums*. A twitching, violet illumination flickers to life; Uncertain, faltering, but somehow true - Enough that you can make out more than the vague, ominous blurs of your surroundings...In the Sphere's light, everything seems more *solid*, somehow - The world stiffly angular, sharply defined, the coiling edges of shadow giving way to stark lines. You pace after Hecate, one cautious step at a time, and- ...And you almost walk into a wall. Before you, the path - The path *you saw her take* - doesn't exist. It's a wall of solid, pitted stone; Stone that doesn't give when you bring your gauntlet against it. There are deep, gouging fissures in the wall; But then, how did she...?-When you lower the Nihl Sphere, your questing hand encounter air. Somehow - Somehow - the wall only exists by the uncertain, eerie light of the Nihl Sphere.Around you, the dimensions of the chamber ripple and sweat, as if disturbed. [ ] Free.YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>25276965Well, what does that make Hecate? Too many mysteries surrounding her. She's bad news.Anyway, with that rippling, I feel a fight coming on. Check out that staircase, but let's keep our guard up.
>>25276965Genre awareness brings to mind episodes where the protags are brought into their own minds or the past to confront fears and lies only to emerge stronger in the end. However I also recall an episode of the outer limits with a living house that used fake images of loved ones in order to trick and eat people. huh what option to take...
>>25276965I'd hate to see what Hecate looks like when the Nihl's sphere of influence passes over her....Hm. It stands to reason she.. it.. something is trying to lead us or trap us.. I'm beyond curious now as to what is happening.Let's follow her.
>>25277050I'm...Not sure, actually. Maybe we should go upstairs. I think the nihl sphere might be showing us which paths are traps.
>>25276965Hm. The zone defined by the Nihl Sphere is probably the zone's true form. The stuff past the wall is being hacked in, perhaps?Either way, I trust Hecate, so let's follow what the Sphere is showing us. Head to the stairs. We going up?
>>25276965Hum. Now that I ponder it. Our deepest desire at one point was to reunite with Hecate. I wonder if we desire it, we might be able to reunite with the Tri-Stars. Scratch >>25277050, let's follow the Nihls guidance.>>25277059Yeah, after I thought on it a bit, you're probably right. Although, the trap part didn't cross my mind.
Normally I'd say trust the sphere but that line about diigging up the past has me curious. Follow Hecate.
Actually wait, you mentioned we could see three paths: left, right, and forward. What does the Sphere show us about the other two paths?
>>25277157Probably all but one is walled off. That'd be my guess.
>>25277157(My apologies, the last one was very cluttered.)In the light of the Nihl Sphere, the other two paths still exist. At the staircase, the path down is sealed: The steps continue to lead up, but the spiralling descent is simply a smooth, ebony depression in the floor - With no apparent way down.
>>25277207Got it, thanks.Okay, we've got three options that keep us in the "real" (for lack of a better term) zone: forward, right and up. We could also pocket the sphere and go down or follow Hecate's shade. We know jack-all about where any of the other paths lead, but following Hecate is the one most likely to lead to acquiring information about her/our past.It also puts us at risk, since we're leaving the path we know even exists. I think we can agree that going down is an absolutely terrible idea if it's even possible so we're left with following one of the real paths or following Hecate. Risk versus reward, what do you think?I'm not wild about walking off the beaten path, but the chance to learn more about the past is the most tempting thing on offer.
>>25277207Yeah. We're caught in an illusory web.... let's try and break it then. Follow the path the Nihl shows us. If my pet theory is right, we'll encounter another being shortly.
>>25277274>>25277207With this defined I think we should follow Hecate. It seems more like something interceding specifically for us rather than a general malevolence.
>>25277324You lower the Nihl Sphere, the light dimming away to nothing - The path before you seems to slope downwards, somehow, twisting and winding; The slowly descent of the tunnel-curve almost imperceptible, swathed in a tangible darkness which seems to exhale slowly. On all sides, the walls undulate and sway, like the roiling waters of a tidal wave.You glimpse the faintest flutter of motion, at the very corner of your vision - When you turn to look, it vanishes around the next bend.Around the next bend...-Disorientation sweeps across you, as you behold the impossible landscape. Beneath your feet, you hear brittle, crunching sounds; Cracks spiderwebbing out across the fragile surface, like smoky glass over inky black ocean. And *beneath* it...You can see the shadow, rising towards the surface; Massive tail flukes closing the distance, in a few beats. It must have been leagues away, when it got the taste; Blind, they hunt by scent, by sound. A single splash, in a trillion cubic litres of roiling black water-"-I can't," Fuesil rasps, his fingers digging into the surface. The not-ice has cracked around him, and he clutches at the edge - Beginning to splinter, too, his own weight dragging him down. "-I can't, I can't-"The four green lights of his helm are oddly forlorn, as he moves with petrified terror- "You bastard! You *bastard*! Help me - Help me - *Help* me-"[ ] FreeYOU HAVE CONTROL
>>25277312But which path is that? The Nihl still shows every path but the way down and the way Hecate went.
>>25276965>Pocket the sphere, follow Hecate.If the sphere can make what's not there physical, I want to see what it can do to Hecate('s shade?),
>>25277343That sounds traitorous. This is probably a flashback. Let's continue acting it out.Destroy the ice - or not-ice, whatever - around him.
>>25277343[X] FreeWait, wasn't it him that left US to die?We can fly, so we can save him without much risk to ourself. CBoost strength if necessary to lift him.
>>25277348The way down was blocked. The way up was the only way to go, technically.>>25277343Damnit. I knew it. It's fucking with our perception or our sensors. We're being played like a second hand fiddle.Play the Nihl sphere over it first to see if it's a trap.Is there a way to turn off our sensor suite and go it manual or would that leave us blind death and dead?
>>25277343Rule number 1 of dealing with drowning victims: Stay safe yourself first. People panic when they're going under, and can very easily pull someone else in with them. It's even worse on ice, since the cold leeches heat from your body and tires you out faster, not to mention the chances that thrashing will break ice further. The best thing to do is to throw a line, or offer them a pole of some kind. Red Joker doesn't have anything like that sadly--but Frost Cestus does. And since was Frost Cestus who left Fuesil to die Frost Cestus is the one who has to make up for this.I guess the question is, are we Red Joker or Frost Cestus? If the former, jetpack and Cobalt Boost him out. If the latter, extend a polearm.
>>25277419>The way up was the only way to go, technically.See:>>25277207>>25277157the paths to the right and forward were still there.Also bad idea, pulling out the nihl now. We could be in solid rock save for this hack or whatever it is.
>>25277405You're right. This isn't what we told Natsumi. But looking back now http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/24501118/#p24502707 That could be interpreted either way.
>>25277451Ah. I completely misread those posts....I'd still prefer to pull it out and check the environs before being unceremoniously drowned by the funhouse of horrors.
>>25277495> Is there a way to turn off our sensor suite and go it manual or would that leave us blind death and dead?Your sensor suite has been hollow, empty - Unable to make out anything, the returns coming back with no targets. It's only through your eyes - Your manual optics - that you see the scene unfolding before you.As the ground begins to give, you fumble for the Nihl Sphere - The hazy illumination beaming forth again, throbbing like the beats of a failing heart-...And what you see sends nausea knifing through your guts, as it plays over black waters.Beneath you, beneath the glassy ice, open-mouthed ghosts wail. Spectral fingers, half-real, coiling like smoke, beat against the crumbling surface - Eyeless faces and screaming mouths, formed from half-real matter, burst against the surface...Then dissipate back into the lightless tides, only to reform. When the Nihl Sphere's light plays over Fuesil, his form- His form is solid, banded in iron, tendrils of smoke rising from the vents in his helm. The light plays over him, flickering, uncertain - It's impossible to tell how many eyes he has; Four, or just two, the mismatched lens flickering as he scrabbles for safety...But when the light plays over *yourself*, your armor is grey and red at once, in the half-glimpsed light. When the Nihl Sphere strobes - Red. When the light dims - Grey.(Continued)
Rolled 12>>25277525Rolling for SAN...No seriously. I expected it to be Oh God What.. But damn, did not see that.
>>25277547Oh fuck this is not good.
>>25277547Is that us rolling for success? Because I think that's the first time we've rolled over 50 the entire quest if it is.>>25277553Back in fine form I see! Is that SAN loss?
Rolled 25>>25277569Nope. We aced that. If our SAN was THAT low, we should've been seeing a therapist.
>>25277440>>25277405The effect is distracting, surreal - As if not sure *what* you are.But you lunge, anyway. The Tempest Scrander at your back flares, and the Cobalt Booster burns a cold, icy blue - Your limbs stinging with strength as you surge forward - ...And your hand closes around his wrist, the Tempest Scrander flaming at your back as you haul him upwards and away. He's heavy, thrashing - He shouts something, a sound that's entirely lost...As beneath you, the ice erupts. Beneath you, you glimpse tusk-like horns, the mouth full of ragged teeth inside a mouth full of ragged teeth inside a gaping, fang-fringed maw. You glimpsed the round, black, glossy, *blind* eyes-In the light, the deep-ocean predator's skin is translucent - The head just a vast sew of jaws, filled with hundreds of transparent fangs. It's a filmy shell, crammed full of writhing spectres; The jaws snap shut mere inches beneath you, as it breaches the surface, pelting you with chunks of splintered ice, as sharp as knives...Fuesil is heavy. Impossibly heavy. His weight is dragging you down, down - But he's coming apart. His armor boils away, in twisting streamers of code; An unmaking at the most fundamental level, like a loose thread unwinding a weave. He's becoming something *other* - A space, an absence, a *gate*...And in the heartbeat before the Corrector's jaws snap shut, you tumble through.(Continued)
>>25277620Stage 1 cleared.Now for Stage 2.
Terrible thought. This place *learns*. The Nihl will be less effective the more we use it. ...I hope I just did not give the GM ideas..
>>25277620...And you smell molten iron, burning sand, a vicious throbbing unlight as you sprawl on the cracked floor of an obsidian tower, taller you can imagine - So high the world beneath shrinks away to nothing, the city's skyline replaced by the bizarre alien architecture of the red. "Wake up!" Bardiel's bladed wings sweep out behind him, in great, resplendent crescents; Tall and cruel and spiked, like a steel halo - Spindly metal filaments telescoping outwards, as his hands clamp around your armored throat. (How did he get here so fast?)The world whirls, as he lifts you - And flings you away. You hit the ground with a sound like shattering glass, tumbling and rolling - The edge of the building a mere meter away, as vertigo plays across your vision. "-Time to die, Joker," Bardiel growls, awful blue light flickering behind his mask as he looms over you: His wings rising in a living cloak of fleshmetal and silver, chiropteran and awful - Veins of red pulsing beneath the surface. HP: 112.0%COBALT BOOSTER: 127%ASSAULT SHROUD: 138%METER: 19% YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>25277719Oh jesus, what the fuck. > "You're supposed to be dead, you asshole. Do me a favor and STAY DEAD, will you?"
>>25277719"Killing you wasn't therapeutic. Maybe it will be if I do it again!" And we have our relics this time!He's looking right at us; use the Tyrant Burst to blind him, then move out of the way of whatever he's going to hit us with. Try to get behind him while he's still blinded, put the Nova Cannon to his neck and pull the trigger. It's the only chance we'll get to use it effectively this fight, I bet the results will be hilarious.
>>25277719"I get to kill you again?Lucky me."Let's do it right this time. We don't have the retard shield anymore, so it should be fine.
>>25277719"You talk too much, Bardiel."Blind the apparition of Bardiel with a Tyrant Burst."And just die."Shoot him once with the Tau and retreat into the Obsidian Tower.
>>25277719"Bardiel... You know, under different circumstances I might have actually liked you. But you just kept choosing the wrong side."Give him a taste of the tau, but remember how fast he is and be ready to keep it out of harms way if he tries to damage it.
>>25277852This is in our favor this time. We have a basically limitless Booster now. We simply haft to keep blinding him and chip his health down with the Tau. Save our meter for the real nasty shit to come in the Funhouse.
Wait, hold up a sec. Hecate was taken.. then we killed a bunch of Smilers if my memory is right.. then we dropped Bardiel...Who did we kill next? We might have an idea as to whom we will be going up against.
>>25277719>>25277792>>25277827>>25277828>>25277852Wait, do we really have to fight him? I mean, we're on a somewhat limited timeframe: We need to find out what's going on and then find the others.
>>25277899Inox's sister, and Rust Kaiser. Though he might not be dead?
>>25277918There was also that thing Div-e came back as.
>>25277903My guess is we haft to fight and kill him to advance to the next Stage. Then go through the digital rift that opens.>>25277918Thought so. This is the damn river in Snake Eater.
>>25277903I'm willing to take a karma hit to kill Bardiel again. More to the point, it's entirely in character for Joker to absolutely flip out to be faced by this guy again.>>25277930Amalgam.I'd hold off on the theorizing until we see what comes next, we don't have enough to guess the common thread yet.
>>25277792>>25277827>>25277828You get one knee under you - Then the other. You hear the metal-on-metal shriek as Bardiel's wings comes up- ...And the air fills with knives. Like gunslingers in the Old West, you fire at the same time. Motes of light gather, for an instant - Before flaring out in a burst of eye-searing illumination, a flare so brilliant it bleaches all color to nothing- You hear a high, keening wail, a sound no human throat could *ever* make, as Bardiel's form...*Flickers*. It warps and distorts oddly, *repelled* - For one heart-stopping instant, his form stretches and *twists* in surreal, alien ways...Like crazed funhouse mirrors, a timeless vision to infinity. Glancing hits pepper you, as you dodge to the side; On impact, the wing-blades denature, dissolving into tiny, crawling spiders - You can feel them gouging at your armor, biting and gnawing...As the concentric circles of a pulse blast howl right past your shoulder, making you stumble at the fringes of the shot...-He couldn't do that before. There's a surreal feeling, not quite deja vu; You've lived through this once, but...>>25277852-The door is at the very edge of your vision, your Tempest Scrander's turbines whirring as you break to the side; You're not *behind* him, not really, but close enough. The bulky, oversized shape of your Tau Gun takes form, as you swing it up - Depressing the trigger pad, as Bardiel swings around...The particle beam slashes across him in a glowing arc, lighting him up - Then the gun bucks, as a fist-sized chunk of his torso explodes in a shattering blast. -And like snapping, coiling snakes, streamers of code boil out from the grievous wound, and sink into you. The world blurs, and turns inside-out.(Continued)
>>25277959EVERYTHING IS SPIDERS.Even the Joker.
>>25277959The knuckles of your right hand are badly skinned, threads of blood running down the back of your fist, and along the skin of your forearm. His jaw was way more solid than it looked, you think, and you wipe your hand against the white fringe of your jacket. Suou's slumped against the corner, his face puffy - Breathing through one nostril, his eyes blackened, glasses askew at an oddly jaunty angle. His head hangs forward, as you kneel beside him."-Hey." Your voice is thick, clotted. You think you may have lost a tooth. "Hey, it's over." Suou looks up, his bleary gaze going to the starburst of blood on the brick wall - And the crumpled form of the thickset boy beneath it, coiled in a fetal curl around his broken ribs; Clotted vomit splashes the harder ground beneath him. His other tormentor is flat on his back, his hands to his face - A spreading patch of dampness at the crotch of his pants. "Shindo...Shindo, man - Y, you have to go. They're going to *expel* you for this-""It doesn't matter," you say. "Look at me. That's right - Look at me. I'm your *friend*, Suou. That's all that counts."(Continued)
>>25278062He can't meet your eyes. "Yeah," he says, and there's something harsh and self-loathing in his voice. "-Yeah, and it's *always because of me*..." His hands ball into fists, his legs twitching feebly as he tries to stand. You turn your head. Your hand grips his shoulder, as you ease him to his feet- "...When the time comes," you say. "-I'll show you how to be strong."And- *************************-And Bardiel reels to the side, the deep, gouging wound knotting itself closed; A convulsive judder runs through that silver form, like a rippling wave - His helm *bulging*, somehow, as if from the strain...Then the ground explodes beneath you, and hurls you from your feet. As spiders skitter of your armor, as you shake off the ringing in your ears, you hear the solid CRUNCH of a heavy form crashing to the ground. Div-E Sepid is pitch-black, his oversized fingers curling lightly into fists. "-Everyone here knows you, Joker, and you know us all," he growls, the thick dreadlocks of his cables writhing in his wake. "...It's time to pay the piper." There's *two* of them, now - Bardiel shakes his head, readdressing you; He doesn't speak, though you hear the low, charging hum of his gauntlet weapon - The two forms bracket the black door between them, as it begins to waver at the edges...HP: 101.4%COBALT BOOSTER: 115%ASSAULT SHROUD: 120%METER: 26% YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>25278136(Forgot my picture.)
>>25278136Did he just bleed his memories all over us? God damn, there's two of them now.
>>25278136"The Piper you say? Such an interesting moniker. Tell me, is this your Funhouse?"Pull out the Nihl Sphere."You won't mind if I break it then, will you?"Look for *any* secret passage and haul ASS for it. We do not want to take the dude who just bled foreign memories into our brain.
>>25278136The bit about streaming code reminds me that we fed both of them to the Nihl Sphere. What would they look like under its light?Use EXEC_Swarm on Bardiel, using the Assault Shroud instead of spending HP. That should knock out his wings and the insect swarms. Another blast of the Tau Gun should do for him, he really didn't take well to the last one.Not sure what to do about Div-E, how did we kill him originally?
>>25278224We need to regroup. That means booking it out of here to a location where we won't be tag teamed by the B-Team. Although, I wonder if he also has the spider-thing too.
>>25278136"You knew who I was! You knew what I'd do! It's not my fault you got yourselves killed. But if you're want to block my path to Hecate again, you won't live long enough to regret it."Tyrant Burst 3 right through him.
>>25278224With AP's help. WE slashed him up with the Adjudicator, then AP gave us cover to charge the FA, then we killed him while he and his surviving group was transporting out
>>25278220Those memories are the best part of doing this. We have an option to find out their secrets if we win.
>>25278136"I don't regret killing any of you.Because you all had a choice."
>>25278295It'll happen at an inopportune moment and get us gutted. If we're fighting, we need to drop them quick. Feed them to the Nihl perhaps?
>>25278312> "The Piper you say? Such an interesting moniker. Tell me, is this your Funhouse?""You-"When you draw the Nihl Sphere, both Bardiel and Div-E Sepid flinch as one - Recoiling, as the eerie, violet light plays over them...-The drop on all sides; It's a solid wall of churning white mist, clawing hands and screaming faces reaching out of it - The 'city' is like a painted facade, a backdrop...There, but not *real*. And when the light comes to rest on your opponents...Like photo-negatives, they *blur*. Not solid, their edges poorly-defined, churning distortions in the air: Distortions, filled with *something* that writhes within them, something you can barely see - But makes you deeply nauseous all the same- >>25278259>>25278304"Everyone-" Div-E growls; "-has a choice-" Bardiel finishes, in voices not their own - The muzzle of a wide-bore maser rifle, and Sepid's gravity disruptor are levelled towards you at once...Your Tyrant Burst system drowns out the rest of their words, as a wrist-thick beam of ice-white energy blasts forth. Sepid interposes himself in the way; The blast explodes against his left-arm gauntlet, as his hulking form hunches over to receive the impact - You hear the blade-on-blade clash of Bardiel's wingbeats, as he takes to the air over Div-E Sepid, reeling back from the smoking ruin the particle beam has made of his arm......And then your Assault Shroud erupts into a churning swarm of locusts, boiling forth from you in a steel-winged cloud. The emberous red glow of their tiny eyes are nearly lost in the rasping surrusation of wings, as the ravenous constructs surge forward; Green light flares, as beams of green light scythe through the moiling hail of parasites, and there's a concussive *blast* as Sepid's weapon discharges...(Continued)
But there are hundreds more, and they're swarming around them, in a devouring half-sphere. Light flashes at random, as you make out both figures flailing, struggling wildly, frantic shots scything forth from within the swarm...The Nihl's light crazes over the door, as you swing around. Bathed in the sphere's illumination, you make out the slow, pendulous motion of a shifting chamber beyond...But close by, to your right, there's *another* doorway - The waves of howling faces parting like the red sea before Moses, a tiny, coiling route that leads into...-That leads nowhere. Nowhere that you can see; The eye of storm.And then you hear slow, patient footsteps behind you; And the slow *clink* of spurs, the sound achingly familiar. You know him before you see him - A lone shape in crimson armor. You make out the faint glow of his eyes, the white neon of the etched scar slashing across the red plate...Almost, but not quite shadowed by the wide brim of the fedora perched at a jaunty angle.The Red Joker's long-barreled Beam Magnum stays at his side. Instead, there's a low rattle, as the forearm sheath on his right arm retracts: Gauntleted fingers closing around the stirrup grip of a quad-barreled Vulcan cannon, a rack of Interceptors fanning from the raised crest of one shoulder."Well?" he says - His voice a thousand years old, dusty and dry and weary beyond belief. "-Will you kill *me* again, Joker?"HP: 97.1%COBALT BOOSTER: 61%ASSAULT SHROUD: 81%METER: 31% TIER TWO WEAPONRY UNLOCKEDYOU HAVE CONTROL
>>25278483Oh fuck."That depends. Am I supposed to?"
>>25278483Oh shit. Haul ass. Haul ass for the door. Let's get the fuck out of here.
>>25278510No, don't go for the door, you moron. We've been constantly ignoring the nihl sphere's advice through this entire episode. Go for the hole in the wall.
>>25278483"Do I need to? You gave your life for mine once, though I admit I can't recall why. But then, you aren't really him, are you?"
>>25278483"I can't kill you.Not again. You didn't have a choice."We're not shooting the old Joker. It isn't happening.
>>25278496>>25278640"Don't play dumb," he crackles. "This is the game. If you win, you get to go home."The light in his eyes flickers, beneath the brim of his fedora."-If you lose, you get to go home.">>25278554He laughs. There's a curious duality to it, like two voice speaking through the same mouth. "-You're beginning to catch on," the Red Joker says, in the voice that isn't his own. "There might be hope for you yet."The Vulcans spew to life, and hammer out a twisting, double-helix chain of gunfire. The shells explode against you - The kinetic force of them like ball-peen hammers pounding across your cuirass. The *roar* of the barrels spinning up - It fills your ears, making you stagger beneath the non-stop barrage; Brass shells clattering to the ground, clinking underfoot.The muzzleflash is a cross-shape blaze around his fist, your Assault Shroud stiffening to take the many, many shots; Stray shots riochet off the ground around you, with hollow *pings* - Scarring your armor, as fragments of nanomaterial spin away from each impact-One shell crashes into your helmet, and your head snaps back as your vision fills with snow. But you can already hear the low hum of a high-energy reaction, as his left arm comes up in a smooth, fluid draw-HP: 90.3%COBALT BOOSTER: 66%ASSAULT SHROUD: 64%METER: 39% YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>25278510>>25278543(Apologies, the two seemed mutually exclusive.)
>>25278677Hm. I would be tempted to hit him with a Disrupt, but I think his system access is going to be higher than ours.I don't suppose we have Misericorde? No? Too convenient I suppose. Well, we're blind and he's got a bead on us, so Tyrant Burst for now and EXEC_Harrow once we can see to aim. That'll tap us out of Booster, but oh well. If he\s going to be standing still then we're going to Nova Cannon him.
>>25278677This entire chapter has been a mindscrew. I'm not sure if we should keep fighting or just make a break for it. Scratch that, let's just RUN. Make for the hidden pathway.
>>25278677Since he's already beaten us to the draw I'd suggest boosting our speed to get out of the way, shoot him with the plasma caster and if it knocks him off balance hit him with the TAu
>>25278677I feel like the character as established would have real trouble choosing fight over flight here.We flee. Hidden pathway time.
>>25278772I think that the more we fight, the more people will turn up. We simply can't win like this.No, we need to run like hell.
>>25278823What? That's not what's going on at all. We're being confronted with situations like those from our past. Not the actual events, but people in circumstances that could have been. What's being put to the test is how we react. The person we abandoned we tried to save, the enemies we treated as obstacles we treated as such again, and now that we're faced with the form of our mentor it's time to see if we're worthy.Besides, we lost to his spectre in the real world. Don't you wonder if we can't beat it in this one?
>>25278772For a moment, you think of the dagger - In a thought, it could *be* here. Here, in your hand. You could->>25278791Your mind recoils from the thought. No. For the second time, the charging coils of your Tyrant Burst system flare - But this time, the flash is muted, a dull whine reaching your ears; As if the energy has been siphoned off, somehow, turning the devastating brilliance into a dim flicker...-And the ravening light of the Beam Magnum sears into you. You scream. You can't help it. The blast cores through your Assault Shroud, and the right side of your body erupts in agony. The overcharged shot *sears* you, in a single devastating stroke, and burning leaves of nanomaterial billow around like a boiling cloud of ash...But you bring your Plasma Caster up, anyway - And wrench the trigger. The solid *WHAM* of recoil kicks you back a step; The cohered plasma blast churning forth, like a blazing meteor. The Red Joker's Interceptors snap into rigid position before him - The criss-crossing lines forming the starburst of an energy shield as the flaming wave breaks over him...>>25278781>>25278801>>25278823But the distraction is enough. You leave him behind. You leave them ALL behind, and plunge into the mist, with the Nihl Sphere lighting your way. (Continued)
Reality screams, as it tears - A squeal of inarticulate pain, as its fabric rips apart. You're occupying the same space as another form...And, somehow, the world around you cannot bear it, as if the Nihl's light is actively *repelling* the blank whiteness of the damned...-There's nothing beneath your feet.You feel a sickening twist of translation-DARK.You lie on a plane of lightless stone, the black tunnels behind you now - Tiny, scattered specks of light, dozens of them, illuminate small parts of the gnarled, impossible structure before you, as dark and cyclopean as the edge of the universe...Not even the air moves. There are hints of spirals, lines, and swirling runes; Nothing to give any sense of scale. There's an impression of vastness, of infinity...Like the vertigo a man feels on the very edge of an precipice. Before you: A black, geometric shape the size of a city. Dormant, but repellent. It casts a great shadow entirely beyond it's size...Until the unlight of the Nihl Sphere flickers off the surface, and...-It isn't a shadow at all. It's liquid. Perspective snaps into place. You stand on the obsidian shores of a great ocean, as a twisting *form* - Vague, half-glimpsed - grows out from the waters, across an impossible gulf. It wavers, slightly, as if not quite real...And then you jerk back, as you feel a sudden, inexplicable chill. A shape glides through you, as insubstantial as a ghost; Dissolving into steam, before it resolves away in the distance. You make out the belled cap, the skeletal, eerie grace...-It's Pazuzu. (Continued)
>>25279028You start, but the vague figure ignores you; Around, more resolve into being - Like mist, like memories. There are six of them, in all - Five ghostly phantoms, watching as Pazuzu glides across the still waters...There, you can make out Kraken's white armor. *There* - Rust Kaiser's broad-shoulder, lumbering form. Bell Zephyr's slow, stalking pace and Bardiel's silver blur...And one more. One more that's just a distortion, a space within space...A faint visual distortion where the phantom fails to match its real counterpart exactly. You're watching something that's already *happened*. The great shape in the distance begins to fade, as Pazuzu turns - And seems to address the onlookers. There's a loping pause as they wait; Bardiel's echo stiffens, and Kraken shuffles back a step, as if alarmed by something only they can see...Then, rising from the waters; You see streamers of liquid darkness coiling into a shaft of mercury-threaded iron. Pazuzu's skeletal fingers curl around the haft, as he lifts it free - He holds it like a sceptre, high above his head; Spreading his arms in a gesture of welcome-The vision fades.You stand on the black shores of the lake, as you hear the slow lap of waves against the surf.[ ] FreeYOU HAVE CONTROL
>>25279108Oh, so this is what they were up to. If we're in Nara dreamaland, they came all the way to do something. It wasn't JUST a terrorist attack, they actually had a goal.
>>25279108>Bell ZephyrThe one we saved from a corrector we now know to be controlled by Hellebore? That's interesting, I don't recall her having a smiler icon.[X] FreeI'm curious, so take a look around and provided the ocean isn't acid, let's see if we can mimic what Pazuzu did with reults.
>>25279108Very interesting. Things are beginning to make sense, now. Pazu led his army here to...Show them something? He definently got that staff from this place, tho. I get a feeling we just got a good look at the Boss-level characters.
>>25279244Doubt there's anything to find. We should try to find a replica of where Hecate died in this pseudo dream we're in. Potential info from that would answear some questions
>>25279108So there's something in the water, eh? Let's touch the surface, very, very cautiously. I sense a powerup on the horizon.
>>25279351You look around, as a silent wind stirs the dust - But any further revelations fail to emerge. All is quiet, and all is still. It's oddly disturbing, the Nihl Sphere's glow shedding light on the inky waters...>>25279279>>25279367Slowly, tentatively, you cross the distance to the surf. From a distance, it could *almost* be mistaken for water...Up close, it's - Something else. Opaque, sluggish - Oddly viscous, with uncertain ripples as you draw near...As if sensing your presence, it undulates like a live thing. You remember the acid waters, far, far below - Of a Player struggling onwards even as they ate him to nothing...-But this is something different.When you reach out towards it, it *flows* towards you, like a liquid mirror - As if in echo of your motion, rising in undulating peaks...Contact. It feels- It feels remarkably like a mistake.That thought has a moment to flash across your mind, before - In a glittering, amphorous mass - the fluid boils up arounds you, and swallows you whole.(Continued)
Everything goes black-Your vision fractures, as a tempest of images boil up to meet you. A kaleidoscopic whirl of lives, of moments, swarming around you from every direction at once, like a crystal starburst; It's a torrent of sensations, of half-formed sounds, of bizarre vistas and impossible landscapes-You...You are the Red Joker.The realization makes you start. You'd almost lost sight of yourself, in the discordant chorus - In the mass of fidgeting, meaningless data. The brittle cold of the Nihl Sphere creeps down your arm, anchoring you; It *glows*, now, aching violet, bright as a pulsar, anchoring you...You concentrate. You *focus*. The sensation - It's like connecting with the Hollow Sun. Intense, but not impossible - You just need to hold on to who you *are*, as you sift through the discordant notes, the Nihl Sphere's light as clear as a beacon, slicing apart the images that threaten to overwhelm you...-No. Not images.*Memories*.That's what this great ocean is. Liquid memory. (Continued)
>>25279483You can *feel* - Vaguely, like claws scraping against a blackboard - the sensations wearing at the corners of your mind, as you weather the tempest. Too long, and you'd drown in it; Already, your resistance is fraying. But- ...In this timeless moment, as the Nihl Sphere centers your essence and mind, you're linked with the vast ocean of data - A space that churns in constant turmoil, but which holds answers - Perhaps *all* the answers. In the heartbeat before the connection is broken - In the instant before great stormwalls of defenses rise up, as you lurch back from the boundless ocean -You *ask*:[ ] FreeYOU HAVE CONTROL
>>25279504What is Pazazu
>>25279504[X] FreeHecate. Find out what happened after we were separated at Nara.
>>25279504> [X] FreeIs Hecate alive? WHERE IS SHE?
>>25279504The Red Joker's memory... we need to find out if Totenaz took it away from here, or merely copied it.Or if it was never in this ocean to begin with; stranded far away in time and space, left back where he gave his own life to save ours.
>>252795043 things I can think of that are important immediately: What happened to Hecate (let's put this to rest finally), what is the null zone we were investigating, where are Bishamon and Volt Regios
>>25279504Where is hecate?
>>25279557Huh, the way it has form and resonates with us makes me think it's something unique. Wata had a theory about the Red Joker armor and how it worked. That it downloads all the powers of its users and we actually have a broken version due to how we got it. By this theory the memory would be all the data of past users.
>>25279504>>25279552>>25279559Now that I'm thinking more about it, this could be the Ocean paralleled in Asuka's play, what with our using the Nihil Sphere (the analogue to the ship "we" traveled the ocean on) in order to protect ourselves long enough to "travel" the ocean of memory.Which means, since the whole story is about our search for a Hecate analogue, this might be the more prudent thing to ask first, as we might only have one opportunity to "ask" the sea.
>>25279591Too bad Wata went to bed or work or whatever. He doesn't seem to stick around when the quest runs his late.
>>25279598AsuNa, sorry. Been a while since she came up in the plot (for shame!), and dem animu names are easy to mix up.And the play PROBABLY just means the Red World as a whole as the ocean analogue, since it's referred to as the "Red Sea", but this is the sea in the Red World, so it could very well be referring to this as well.
>>25279504If we really have access to -the RED World's memory?- we ought to ask what went wrong during the last battle so many years ago.
Sight comes first - The pale, blue-tinged light that fills the hospital corridor, with the slow cross-dissolve of a scene already in progress. Scents and sounds follow - Cold metal, antiseptic - then the sensations of your form; Slim, not muscular - Perfect and constant awareness of body position -And then it all comes together - Your awareness of the precise curve from breast to hip, the slight tilt of the head to shift the hair away from the eyes, the rotation of one shoulder in an unmistakeable shrug. Before she even speaks, before you hear her voice through her own ears, you know- "-I can't tell you more than that, Anon-kun. It's...a very, very old, very dear friend of mine, you could say." ...Hecate says, as you meet your own eyes. The scene dissolves, and the world goes away.********************Everything is pain. Even from this distance, the screams come to you - The crackle of flames, the howls of Correctors and snap of gunfire - You're pawing at the ground, with your remaining hand, leaving a bloody smear- Your arm - Your *arm*- "Jok-"Your voice is a half-strangled gurgle, as you retch blood. "I'm-"Everything feels broken. Your vision is blurred, doubling, tripling - Your body slumping, hurting, the only sensation the icy spines of the blades driven into you - Terrible, all-consuming. You have to- You can't- It's not all right, it's-Darkness.You swim back up into the world of light again. The red dawn is turning to shuttering night, and you can smell ozone and metal as your mouth fills with copper- Another inch - The razored slivers, Bardiel's wing-blades, are all around you. They're in you, slicing and cutting, each time you try to move. > "-is she-" ...he's saying, only the faintest impressions reaching you - You make out, through your failing vision, his winged, furious form; Looking in every direction but the right one, unable to see you-Joker-kun was the only one wh-(Continued)
> "...get her? Is she de-"You hear the fretful *swish, of Pazuzu's robes brushing the ground; You can feel his awful presence, like a pulsar, drawing close. You can't-You'd rather *die*, but you can't- You won't let them *take* you. If only you could. If only you could. If only you coul-...Your hand begins to blur. Chromatic, crystalline halos limn your flesh, and the stone on which you lie, and the sky, as the agony goes away...And with it, an indefinable sense of loss. Everything goes black. Black, forever. But somewhere - Somewhere, an infinite distance away - You hear the a faint, muted beat - The steady throb of a forlorn heart. ********************The world is fluid, ever-shifting. For long moments, you float in total darkness, without sensation - Almost without thought, except for the slow beat of the seconds you count in your head...And the distant heartbeat, faintly remembered. For a moment, it's not clear where vision ends and reality begins...Until a point of light joins the shimmering phosphenes in your vision, as you rise towards it. You're floating, in full armor; Your arms move, and you break the surface. Or rather - You're standing on it. You're standing on the surface of the memory pool, completely dry; At some point, the roiling, churning liquid has become solid again - An impenetratable barrier you stand on, as steady as dry land. The transition is a seamless one; Now you stand in a great antechamber, a vertical line of light sliding into view...One that merges with the faint hiss of hinges, as twin fragments of the darkness part, like curtains being drawn away...Or like great double-doors opening. (Continued)
>>25279931STAGE: NOCTUSThe light of the Red World comes uneasily to you, now - Your limbs unsteady, but your targeting sensors as adapt as ever; As the Manor of Dusk's doors swing open before you. Outside, slow fires burn - There's a foul, coppery smell in the air, the scent of ozone and iron and coolant...And for moment, you wonder if *this* is another memory, as you behold the great square beyond...-There are two figures standing back-to-back. Bishamon has his sword clutched in both hands, his pitch-scribed armor battered and scuffed, though the lethal edge of his blade catches the light; One of the vanes of his helmet has been sheared off entirely, and sparks flare from the raw wire of his knee-joint. Volt Regios's sky-blue plate has deep, gouging rents in it - He turns awkwardly, made more so by his half-crushed helm; His cloak trails in tatters behind him, and you can see myomer fiber, the deep lines of new scarring, on his armor. "Look-" Bishamon starts. Words seem to fail him, one hand rising to shade his vision - His sword still at the ready. "...I don't *believe* it.""...Holy *shit*," Regios growls - And for once, there is no sarcasm in his buzzing voice - only blank surprise. "You're *alive*. Where did you...?"And as the Manor's doors swing shut behind you, fusing into a single seamless block - For a long, eternal moment, you honestly can't think of an answer.JOKER QUESTEPISODE 45TO BE CONTINUED
>>25280030(Gentleman: I apologize for the long posts in this one...But that's exposition for you. As this looks like a natural point to stop - And it's extremely late, now - I'll have to conclude the chapter here.As always, you've been a great audience: I'll admit, up-front, that I was caught off-guard by the path taken through this particular chapter. However, I'm also quite impressed.As always - Good night, and god bless. I hope to see you again soon.
>>25279814>"-I can't tell you more than that, Anon-kun. It's...a very, very old, very dear friend of mine, you could say."For those not aware, this is from back in thread 14, where we were visiting the hospital. We ran into Hecate there, and she said she just got done visiting a friend there. When asked who she was visiting, she got sort of serious, and responded with that line. Followed by the addendum:>She bites her lip, her eyes going distant; Clearly, she doesn't really want to talk about it. "...The oldest." I'd imagine we have a visit to make, once we figure out who she meant by this; if they've been an acquaintance of hers for as long as she's said she has, they may be able to give some insight as to what the weird chromatic disappearing act she pulled may have been.It's probably worth entering the Red World in the hospital with the Nihil Sphere, in case they are in some sort of Nihil Sphere-accessible antechamber of the Red World, like the secret Armory entrance through the Papillion.>>25280058I got here a little late, but regardless, as always, thanks again for running.
Needs archiving.Thanks for running, as usual.
>>25279931Does that mean hecate is alive? I think it means that she IS, otherwise we won't hear the heartbeat, but...
>>25280250I'm pretty sure that means she's alive. Otherwise, it would have been fairly explicit that she's dead. Anyone going to archive this?
>>25279533>>25279552>>25279559>>25279590Typical /tg/. Can ask ANY GODDAMN QUESTION, and you ask about the girl.
>>25280733Par for the course, then.
>>25280429Wonder who keeps downvoting things. >>25280733It was a fair question. There could have been more useful ones, but it was worth it to clear up that overhanging mystery.
>>25280733Never underestimate tg's ability to white knight.
>>25280105I suspect that was Akira.>>25280429Pazuzu warped her to some kind of null zone. Remember how he could Players using a key Relic? Hecate's either joined their ranks or in stasis there, depending on how it works.
>>25282803>I suspect that was Akira.That'd be the easy out, yeah, but we mentioned Totenaz to her during that same conversation, even before she knew who we were going to see.>"...You've met the Thief?" she sounds curious, now; "-I didn't think he'd approach you...What did he want?">"...He's the one who helped me find this, after all; Even now, I'm not even sure *why* he did it." Hecate takes a moment to mull over the second question; "-That, I'm not sure. As far as I know, he's never backed out of a deal...He keeps his word, when it comes to business. Whether I'd *trust* him, otherwise - What was that you said? 'As far as you could throw him?'" >She shakes her head, no. "-The Thief was the one who told me about you," Hecate admits - Her eyes clouded, worried. "...Who you *really* were, I mean. Why he'd take so long to approach you, himself...I'm not sure.">"My best guess - My very best - is that he's someone you know; Someone who's put all the pieces together.And in the next thread;>"...You were right; Two of them are Players." [...] "Well, there's a *definite*, and a probable...I *think* there may be two, but there's at least one..." This is a LOT more information on the person who turned out to be Akira than she would've given if it was the same person she didn't want to talk about at the beginning of our conversation. That, and Totenaz seemed to be a business contact through and through; definitely not the kind of person she would've described as a "very dear friend", not by any stretch of the imagination.Interesting to note, reading back, that Hecate mentioned that Totenaz helped her jack the Nihl Sphere from Pazuzu; and ESPECIALLY interesting that she didn't even seem to know WHY he did it, which means he likely didn't ask for something in exchange... We can assume he had something to gain from the Sphere changing hands, we just don't quite know what it could be. (Maybe Pazuzu losing it alone was beneficial to him in some way? Dunno.)
>>25283151>ESPECIALLY interesting that she didn't even seem to know WHY he did it, which means he likely didn't ask for something in exchange... We can assume he had something to gain from the Sphere changing hands, we just don't quite know what it could be.He WAS in love with her you realize.They weren't just business contacts, they talked about stuff. Like us, and her feelings. Remember too that Hecate had a disdain for the real world; she probably met Akira in the Red World and didn't know him at all in the real. Akira and Totenaz would be entirely separate existences in her mind.
>>25283151You know, I wonder about the Thief. When you think about it, Hecate still wasn't really clear about why she was in the hospital. The recent revelations muddy the waters even more: Who, exactly, was she visiting? And why did we get the hospital scene in conjunction with our glimpse at her fate?I'm really wondering. Why haven't we met Hecate's real form? I doubt that she would have minded. I personally wonder if she's ugly, crippled, or somehow deformed...Or worse, a guy.
>>25283603Interesting question: Why didn't she fall for HIM?
>>25283772He's a dick.
>>25283772Might as well ask why anyone falls in love at all. Maybe her saving his life affected how she saw him later. Maybe she was already in love with the Joker at that point. Could be that they were really young when they met so she wasn't thinking about relationships.>>25283826Tempting to say this, but our Red Joker's been a dick on just about the same level. We just have a white knight streak a mile long.
>>25283918No, we're a fairly decent guy. We only started actively murdering people in non-self-defence after Hecate died.Fuck, that begs the question. What are we going to do about Mio?
>>25283943I vote that we keep dating her. She's a genuinely nice girl. This is going to be an incredibly unpleasant love triangle, however.
>>25283943Check the early threads again. Our Red Joker has zero compunctions about killing people. We started to feel bad about it when Kaz and Natsumi got to see the result of one of our battles, but it's only recently we've done anything beyond killing the feckless fools who challenged us.This brings a different question to my mind: if we spent one hundred subjective years in the Hive, how much time passed in the real world?And how do we know that our character is actually human? The Red Joker armor passes from person to person, but something went wrong during our transfer. Say during the transfer, one Corrector gets lucky and manages to eliminate the new Red Joker... What happens?
>>25284267To be fair, a hundred subjective years in Hell would pretty much iron out any empathy you would have. It's been made pretty clear that the time in the Hive was a chamber of horrors.
Sure is dead in here