Episode Guide (All credit to Watashiwa & an unknown Anon):
Yui IF scene (Adult content):
For whom do the flowers b̤͍̞̓̇̃̎l̖͚̠͖̓͋o̬͆o̟͍̰͓̦͊͗̂ͪm͎̹͋̏̃̓̅̚?̞̙͖́̊͒͐̇͂̌
Walk over your cold corpses.
You exist between moments, now.
-the cising sparks of EXEC_CONSUME-
-the crazed flicker of the Nihl Sphere as it drinks in CALCITE ARROW's death, in a swirl of violet motes-
-the abstract patterns of gore gushing from the stumps of Rook's severed arms, his head flexing and twisting in shrieking pain as he thrashes on the deck-
The Hektonhire, roaring and hissing and spitting its ember rage as it comes for you. The thing that was once Rust Kaiser is a behemoth, a monstrosity - Lit by the ghastly strobelight inferno that consumes the Thief (Something dark, shapeless, thrashing in the heart of consuming flame) - vast limbs ripping up the ground underfoot as it surges towards you with ponderous unstoppability.
Impaled by a dozen spikes of burning orange light - like swords, like stakes - it moves with singular purpose. Huge, cloven hooves of bleached bone - shod with pitted iron that seems moulded to feet - smash down, leaving skittering craters in their wake. Great claws with too many joints, like the lashing branches of winter trees, close and open, open and close, ending in black talons. Those backward-jointed legs are brutally muscled, tatters of armor flaking away, great curving horns lowered for the charge-
When Rust Kaiser's roar hits you, Haze falls to his hands and knees - His eyeslits flickering green, green, yellow at the world-splitting sound.
It is like the laughter of an earthquake; made worse for how it *is* laughter, rumbling laughter without sanity or end, an all-consuming fury centered solely upon you.
With every heartbeat, he *grows*. It is as if Rust Kaiser's blistered, cancerous soul has burst the confines of what is possible, surging forward in a storm of grinding footsteps and lashing claws, veins stretched and splayed over pulsing slabs of corded grey muscle, wrapped in strands around arms become thick and branching, in thin wiry tendrils, in vast splaying roots of flesh, in circular pods with a hundreds fingers waving in some unknowable pattern-
Pupils like black holes. Scales, and crags, and cliffs of skin. Decaying organs pulsing beneath translucent pieces of exoskeleton or chitin, pulsing and throbbing - On and on. Forever.
Reality itself is losing its grip. The world is changing right in front of you, permitting this monstrosity, this un-truth.
Daegal - The Condemner's blade fizzing as burning petals flutter around him in a whirling storm - puts what you cannot into words.
"Oh fuck," he says.
As your talons rip free of Calcite's helm - His form already collapsed, turning grey as the animation leaves it, only a dim flicker of awareness on the Orthrus Crest - you face down your foe. Rust Kaiser is vast, looming above you, towering. Still growing, *expanding*, a torrent vile of flesh pushing outwards, armoring itself in a thickening skein. Ropey veins are threading their way through it, blisters of fat and muscles pushing up through the surface-
Crowned with burning light, Alura stands. Beneath her mask, her eyes and mouth are full of white fire, the wire-black strands extruding from the shoulders and sleeves of her gown humming with electric tension. Violet glyphs smolder against her dress, swarming with code-chains and symbols right on the verge of understanding-
Her head turns - As if only just remembering Daegal. Her lips move, shaping an unspeakable word; There's something sensual in it, like an intimate whisper, like a kiss.
It hits Daegal like a wrecking ball, and hurls him away like a scrap of paper in a hurricane.
On all sides, the Memory Towers shatter outwards in a multicolored blizzard of crystal fragments - the terrible resonance staggering even you, as Kazuya smashes to the ground on his shoulder and rolls and rolls and *rolls*. The tatters of his Assault Shroud trail in his wake, like burning leaves - golden armor shrieking as it leaves deep grooves in the onyx surface.
"Now," Alura breathes. Smaller chunks of rubble are rising into the air, around her - ANIMA's great head descending, above one pale shoulder. She raises a hand, to caress that grinning maw; the Cryptid's *solidity*, its *realness*, is abrupt and startling. It *hisses*, and the light that burns in its many eyes echoes the sickening radiance that streams forth from Alura.
COBALT BOOSTER: 31%
ASSAULT SHROUD: 16%
YOU HAVE CONTROL
(Gentlemen: At present, the Thief is being incinerated by Alura, and the Hektonhire is closing in on you. SCYLLA has been healed by the use of EXEC_CONSUME on CALCITE ARROW.
Rook is still alive, but limbless.)
I know the feeling.
>Calcite Arrow's remains are also a valid target.
Thanks for the suggestion, JQOP.
I'll vote for doing that, I guess. Switch with CA's remains.
It'd be best if we could do something about the Thief burning to death, too. By firing at Alura, maybe, though I doubt that'll be too effective in doing damage to her.
Move backwards as fast as possible, switch to the Chernobog and start firing at Kaiser. Summon the Fusion Annihilator behind us and start charging to the max. If he comes too close for comfort, use EXEC_REND to negate his attack. We need as much distance as possible. Send a dirac message to Haze: "Shoot the warhead towards my location when you see a blinding flash."
If we manage to get full charge - shoot at Kaiser with the FA and then use the Orthrus Crest to switch with Calcite.
>Switch with CA's remains.
We'd just end up face-down, more or less exactly where we are. We just killed him with EXEC_CONSUME, after all.
I like this plan, though. If we can spare it, I vote for spending Booster on a charged missile. Fire should be effective.
CHAGAN's acid-etched markers smolder with coruscating green fire, as brass filaments unspool - they find the armored forearm sheath of your Plasma Vulcans, verdigris spreading across your arm like corrosion in fast-forward. A low hum builds, as power linkages connect - Inner chamber pressure building, the weapon's vast bulk sketching itself into existence in arching schematic lines-
Your free hand closes on Haze's collar, as you wrench him upright. He gags, stumbling backwards as you haul him away - the breathless koom-koom-koom of Rust Kaiser's pounding footsteps splintering the ground underfoot, as inexorable as the crack of doom.
> "Shoot the warhead towards my location when you see a blinding flash."
"Joker - Wha-" he blurts out, dazed, half-coherent...And then all sound is extinguished in the thunder of the colossal weapon, as CHERNOBORG begins to fire. The multi-barreled plasma cannon is wedged against your hip, the metal snake of the feeder coiling back, fat and heavy - When your fist clamps down on the stirrup-grip, the heavy weapon makes a grinding metal noise as it spins up, a blinding flare of burning gases flickering around the rotating barrles-
Hell spews forth. Actinic plasma devastation, searing beams of it - Salvo after salvo of rapid, shrieking shots, shredding the air with fizzling javelins of light. The close energy blasts send static flaring across your systems, as steam vents explosively from the juddering weapon's wide; Each shot altering the ionization of the air, as the storm of shots brackets Rust Kaiser and rips across him-
Flesh explodes. Each superheated round lances deep, each shrieking shot erupting into a roiling fireball - There are so many impacts, their continuous fire explodes the walls on either side in eruptions of abraded smoke. Rotten meat distorts under the deluge, carapace buckling and crackling like paper in the rain. You keep the triggers depressed, panning the weapon, strafing the Hektonhire as it roars and lumbers forward like a man head-down into a storm...
-Back. Further. Back. Haze's fingers claw at your gauntlet, his heels dragging deep grooves in the ground - He's shouting something, but his voxponder's howl is entirely lost in the torrent of glowing rounds, even as CHERNOBORG's barrels begin to glow red-
Somehow - In the absolute aural chaos of gunfire - you *hear*...
A vast inhalation. Air, begin drawn into vast lungs. The building howl of the fastest wind-
The Vector Trap disgorges the Crisis Arm in a flare of red light, three-taloned fist vicing down on Haze's collar. With a ripping surge, with an effort that makes hydraulics in your arm scream, myomer muscles ripping, you hurl him away from you as hard as you can. The Abruption Jets flare at your shoulders and palms and knees, the static burst *repelling* fiercely against the ground - It flings you back, as abruptly as if you've been snatched away on a wire-
The hurricane-force winds that spew forth from the Hektonhire's depths - Maelstorm winds, raging and shrieking and gusting, accelerating black obsidian sand that rips through anything in its path. It is a razor's torrent of howling force and lacerating particles, scouring your armor as you turn *into* the blast - CHERNOBORG's flashing roar choked off, the weapon's mechanisms already fusing beneath the rusting winds, ugly noises chugging within the feeder mechanisms-
EXEC_REND swallows you up, and wrenches you into the space between worlds.
And you *crunch* into the ground, a heartbeat ahead of the flaying winds - the molecular paint scoured from your armor, CHAGAN a dead weight on your left arm. Already warped, CHERNOBORG's fused barrels are leaden, dragging in your wake; When you make a fist and smash it against the floor to free your arm, they *snap* off with the *crack* of brittle twigs.
Smog wisps from your armor, spontaneous frost fuming from the surface - But through the shrieking winds, you glimpse Rust Kaiser's swarming form. CHERNOBORG's burning shots have shredded the behemoth, blasting the Hektonhire's surface into a haze of gore. Unspeakable fluids paint the walls, spattering what little of the chamber's mirrored surface remains, organs and shreds of hide clinging to the cising, sparking wire of the Memory Towers in drooling gobbets-
Something rises up, slowly - righting itself, from the molten fireball created by the Plasma Chaingun's expanding blast-pattern. The air is filled with swarms of flies - An organic mist of vaporized flesh.
And yet, you have only ripped away the facade.
There is gristle and rancid meat, blisters and herniated intestines, ulcerated tongues and rotting teeth in the Hektonhire's form. It is hard to look at, and harder to understand. It defies visual interpretation, mad eyes rolling - set against the creature's hide, saw-teeth grinding in the sockets. There are fronds, like tiny fingers, in overlapping layers in scales. Ropey chunks that spatter, twitching, leaking white fluid-
Not dead. Not remotely dead.
You wrench yourself upright - Something's wrong with your leg, the joint jammed, rusted solid - your Abruption Jets flickering feebly with charge. You try-
>You wrench yourself upright - Something's wrong with your leg, the joint jammed, rusted solid - your Abruption Jets flickering feebly with charge. You try-
Hoo boy. First episode back, the dice already seem to hate us.
A blunt, jointless arm of flesh and muscle explodes out of the Hektonhire's spreading form, and smashes into your chest plating. Already cracked, it shatters - Lifting you off the ground, driving you backward. You miss the barbed-wire mass of a memory tower by inches - And then it whips down, knocks you back to the floor with a crunch, a crack, a spray of hydraulic fluids. Half the light in the world *shuts off*, as one optic sensor splinters within your helm...
One of those huge, upcurved horns spears through your left leg. There is a shriek of rending metal - You are *dragged*, those great hooves churning, your form smashing against Rust Kaiser's unyielding hide as the Hektonhire slams into the wall, full-force; The thunder of the crash revebrating through the chamber, as it draws back, back-jointed legs compressing - Barbs and fleshhooks raking against your form, the mad eyes glaring malevolently from that pitted hide at you-
You bring your fist down, and smash the horn to flinders before it can turn you into a smear on the wall. The jagged spike still impales the actuators of your hip-joint, grinding against the mechanisms - You roll to the side as one great hoof smashes down, the shockwave buffeting you with an artillery-shell impact-
TIER FOUR WEAPONRY UNLOCKED
(Gentlemen, I'm assuming you used the Nihl Sphere to cast EXEC_REND; You're short of everything else. Let me know if you preferred to use Cobalt Booster + Meter, and I'll alter the last post accordingly.)
Haze is on his feet, now - His arm levelled, switching sides futilely. You are *beneath* the beast, and he has a clear shot-
-But he hesitates.
You're too close.
Dimly, across the channel-
"Joker - You have to *get clear*-"
The Nihl Sphere is a cracked orb of quartz, a tiny, dull flicker of illumination - the last echoes of Calcite's death - captured within. The vast bulk of the beast is an advancing cliff of pitted grey flesh. Mottled, lumpen tentacles snatch at you, foul beaks of clear cartilage yawning and snapping - Your helmet's filters already clogging up from the wretched brown ichor gushing out of the wounds-
You don't think Rust Kaiser - the thing he has *become* - can die.
COBALT BOOSTER: 38%
ASSAULT SHROUD: 4%
YOU HAVE CONTROL
>You don't think Rust Kaiser - the thing he has *become* - can die.
Swap with Arrow, or if we can't anymore, Rook.
Then use the Quantum Singularity Cannon.
A colossal hoof rises, juddering muscles wrenching taut. It is a singular move, a declaration of primal intent - to wipe you from the earth, to turn everything you are into an expanding stain, to grind you into the dust. Even now, Rust Kaiser is still *changing* - a giant, bloodless wound ripping across his skin, that already-warped body continuing to hunch over, great tusks ripping through the tatters of flesh. The body itself is nothing so much as a gaping maw, a wet cave with saw-teeth, dark limbs contracting as it rears up, turning the entire mass of its body into a hammer, all brackish, moving colors of black and grey and vile green-
The horrid urge to cling fast. To survive.
What could he have become, down, down in the desert of black sand? Still living, still *changing*, becoming something grotesque, becoming something new. The impossible mass is warping with each second, a strange tumor pushing out of a nictating slit in the dull flesh, a hissing shriek boiling out of that toothed maw, like the howl of something mechanical and insane-
And in the instant before the crushing weight comes down, you reach out - *grasping* that awareness of Calcite's crumbling form, the brutal crest chained to your pauldron gnashing metal teeth as the eyes burn with vengeful light-
Billowing black clouds. The howling screams of infinity. Falling, falling *forever*-
Sound returns, in a rush. You hear the splintering *crack* of armor giving way, like a bird's hollow bones breaking. Calcite's mortal remnants are there, then gone; Flattened in the most abrupt, most brutal way. All that remains - as that pitted iron-shod hoof *stomps* - is a splintered leg stuck out flat on one side, an arm on the other. The force of the violent compression takes Calcite apart, sending a powerful and curiously directional spray of shards out more than twenty meters; part of his visor splinters off like a spinner in a child's game, cracks radiating outwards from that singular impact-
Somehow, somehow, you hear Alura's deep, shuddering exhalation - A sound that is almost pleasure, in the intensity of its relief. "Die," she whispers; her form is so still it shudders with intensity, rivulets of quicksilver trickling from her palm where her long nails have driven into her shimmering mercury skin-
But only for a moment.
You hear her breath catch, as she intuits - Senses, perhaps - Haze turning towards her, his arm levelled. The biohazard warnings badged on his armor are a lurid yellow, as he takes aim with singular intent; the viral payload is one of the most lethal weapons you've seen in the Red World, an utterly agonizing way to die-
And Alura knows this too. She knows this because she's seen it being *used*, in the Original Hive - the wailing, quavering mounds of coiling wire and liquefied myomer muscle and mulch that shrieks and convulses before every last iota of consciousness is gone.
For one blurred instant, ANIMA is at Alura's side - crouching over it's mistress, baleful eyes glaring -
And then it *moves*.
Too fast for any human eye, any sensor, to properly follow. The warp-wash that surrounds it distorts reality, making time run out of step, making flakes of burning ash hesitate in mid-air. It makes a keening noise, like the wheels of a train drawing sparks from steel rails. At Alura's will, the Cryptid becomes a speed-distorted blur, a speeding phantom like voltage freed from a shorting cable-
It is upon Haze in a single leap. It lands on him talons-first, punching through his midriff - Muscle cords straining beneath the dry sandpaper rasp of its skin. It is a many-eyed horror, leering down at Haze; Smoking talons rip out of him - A jagged, disbelieving cry wrenched from his speakers, more surprise than pain - that maw yawning wide, to reveal row after row after row of *teeth*...
Daegal's dropped the Immolator. He's still stunned from the shattering impact of the concussive word, still trying to find his footing. All he has is the Condemner.
And so he does the one thing you told him never to do, and launches the sword like a harpoon.
Alura screams. It is a petulant shriek, a sound that mingles anger and pain - A wordless howl of frustration. She bucks, convulsing as the phase blade tears through her body, punching right through where a lung should be - Impaled, she staggers, sways - for a moment, you think she might fall. The keening hiss wrenches from her lips, her trembling fingers closing on the hilt; Her clutching hands slipping, as she *pulls*. The burning edge of the Condemner slicing her palms, the quicksilver substance of her form *flowing*, rippling, as it melts through her-
It won't kill her. But as the pain blazes through her, it distracts her for *just long enough*-
And in his own way, Haze has taken your lessons to heart. He lashes out with his hand, as ANIMA lunges - The armored sleeve of his arm ramming all the way up to the forearm-
It bites down.
There is a *crack* of armour shattering, a crunch of titanium-analogue bones shearing. It bites off his arm all the way to the elbow, cables spilling out from the hideous rent. You hear Haze howl, even as he cracks the thing in the side of the skull with his remaining arm, a desperate, paltry blow-
But ANIMA's maw is still full of his hand, the severed limb flopping down it's gullet.
When the jaws vice close, they vice close on the warhead's payload.
All of that virus. Enough to bring a shrieking, hideous death to dozens.
All of it, down ANIMA's throat.
But that's all you see.
How long has it been since you used this? A lifetime.
There is a brittle thunderclap, the whirling red void of the VECTOR TRAP disgorging your arsenal. Bright schematic lines sketch out the Plasma Caster, the Railgun, the Fusion Annihilator - Each one hovering in the space around you, unravelling; Becoming part of a complex mechanism you can only dimly intuit, an astral pattern that shapes itself into existence with cold and lethal intent.
And at the very heart of it, as the Singularity Cannon forms itself around you-
A pulse. A throb. A wrenching *tug*, from deep within - As if iron claws have closed around your heart, and *pulled*. Something rips itself out of you, something writhing and clotted; the core you've glimpsed only one before, a shape of infinite density that smells like the death of suns. It has *grown*, somehow - expanded, throbbing with an internal life; palpable waves of unlight beating against the world, as the Singularity Cannon unfurls to receive it.
The shape is unstable, now. It seethes, struggles, with frenetic life - A dull whine echoing across your sensors, a flickering line drawn across your half-splintered vision as your systems fail, all power redirected to containment...
There is no trigger. It is nothing like a normal gun at all.
The trigger is in your mind, and you shape the singular thought:
Everything is frozen. Daegal, one arm outstretched. Alura, half-collapsed, fighting to drag the impaling blade free. Haze, almost lost beneath ANIMA's form, forever locked in mid-retch, convulsing as neural feedback saws jagged blades through his nerves-
The vast monstrosity before you.
The thing that was once Rust Kaiser.
Reality *cracks*. It bucks and tears. Dark light wells up from the edges. A ragged gap, and again the bright darkness of the void beyond.
It begins as a pinpoint. A distortion, a tiny blot of darkness. Imperceptible - Just above that great crown of pagan horns, like the flashes of light that come with disorientation. It swells, an expanding distortion - Opening wider. Wider, flickering with distorted shreds of matter. Colorless lightning tears the air, seething...
-The world rips open, into the infinite cold of the void beyond. It is somehow more hideous, more terrible, than the blackness and the Hektonhire and the swell of the vast firestorm that surrounds the Diadem. That unholy unlight pours forth, alien and sterile - A white jagged gash tearing up, up, through the fabric of space, like a torch taken to the individual frames of a film.
Faster. Faster. An accelerating cyclone, powered by it's own dire momentum. A dark sun, lit from within by an anti-light, burning with fire so black the eye cannot hold it - Growing, fueled by itself, the maw of the vortex growing with a hungering shriek, spinning everything it touches to nothingness. You glimpse black-centered spirals opening with in the overlapping cyclone, a gravitational singularity that draws all things into the spinning hole...
It is eating into him. It is consuming every iota of him - That shuddering form *distorting*, *compressing*, *warped*, crushed-
Ice cakes your armor. Every metallic surface and object blackens and tarnishes.
The spinning force creates a wake, a funnel, pulling Rust Kaiser *into* himself - Away from you, as the abyss yawns opens. He is diminishing, across an impossible distance - searing red light churning at the end of that void, darkening and twisting, a weird illumination silhouetting the tumult of the melee. The Hektonhire is falling away from you, out of this reality entirely; In the frozen moment, it *still moves.*
It twists. Arches, as if trying to free itself, that vast grinding maw gnashing wildly. It is shaking, faster, faster - Flesh flowing over the crackling towers, wrapping around the cising crystal, squeezing tight. Gripping on for existence itself. A lapping wave of skin grasps at rivets in the floor, clamping down on them so that they poke whitely through the stretched tissue. Arms bifurcate over and over, splitting into thick tendrils that wrap around every available surface - becoming roots that push into cracks in the splintered floor-
Impossible force. Unstoppable object.
He is trying to pull himself free. His upper body is trying to wrench away from the dying mass, limbs flailing, clawing at the air - But it knows it is dying. You can see the vitality gnawed away from the vast bulk, the color of its horrid flesh changing, turning ashy, shrivelling, because of the absolute, complete hatred that hits you like a palpable force...
Then - There is a shape. An ethereal shape. A manifestation, a hazy shimmer, like smoke in sunlight. Independent of the black, blistered bulk. It flickers in and out of reality, moving too fast - a spectre, a form jumping and flickering, like a film running at the wrong speed. Repeated and overlapped.
There is a low keening, that slices through your soul. That shape - almost human, quivering as it loses form and control, shaking as if caught in a violent earth tremor. You can feel the scalding fury of the force within it, as it vibrates itself into smoke with a wild frenzy. Shreds of it are drawn into the void, too, the anguished specter fighting the inexorable progress of death-
And though it cannot speak, though no sound can escape the void, you hear a single echoing word-
Black motes cascade into the air, like soot. The buzzing is everywhere.
> I'm sorry this happened to you Kou.
It reminds you of the first night, the first and final descent into the black. That was a kind of damnation, one that you have never really come to terms with and never will.
What awaits him is more total. More complete.
>No EXP for killing him
It's in the pastebin desu
>Furthermore, targets destroyed by the Singularity Cannon are utterly annihilated - They have no chance to drop Relics, and their empowering essence (Green motes of light) is similarly consumed by the hungering nothing.
(Gentlemen, my apologies for the abrupt conclusion. It is actually extremely late for me - while I'd love to continue, tomorrow is a full work day. I'll strive to start earlier next time.
Good night and God bless. You've been a wonderful audience, and - as always - I hope to see you next week.)
So wait... does it actually seem like we're winning now? It seems like Alura is gonna be all that's left and she has a sword through her stomach. Both us and Daegal are still just lightly mangled, and Haze, Thief, and even Rook might not be dead yet.
I mean granted we still have a couple jokers to deal with after this, but... You know, good job team.
We only have 32% HP left, no meter, no booster, no shroud and more corruption than I would deem comfortable.
He's pretty fucked up, has no weapons, and is only alive because he has a form of regen that's implied to restore him to a certain threshold when he falls below it.
No arm, probably severed spine, barely alive. He's not going to be useful unless he spontaneously gets a massive level-up from killing Anima
Depends entirely on whether Anima and Alura die in time.
True. He's disarmed, though.
If nothing else, I think we should CONSUME Alura as quickly as possible. We'll probably lose a chance for an upgrade, but at least we'll get some HP, meter and probably a lot of Nihl charge out of it.