MangaRaiders

Manga Writers => Manga Creations => Topic started by: Coryn on January 13, 2019, 07:20:27 PM


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Title: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Coryn on January 13, 2019, 07:20:27 PM
Ladies and gentleman, Raiders all, I am very pleased to present you with the latest MR Canon project.

MangaRaiders: War Arc


War Arc is the creation of Fro, Lego, Mahlua, and myself. We started working on this project back in June when Fro brought up the idea of having a truly large and ambitious MR project. War Arc is what we created out of that concept.

War Arc shouldn't be thought of as a single story, but a family of stories. This is why we are calling it an 'arc', in the sense that you might see one in tv shows or comic books. We have plans for a whole slew of stories that are going to take place under the War Arc banner. Invasion is only the beginning of this ride, and will serve as the jumping off point for what we expect to be a full year of MR Canon goodness.

So without further ado, I give you MR: War Arc: Invasion, a story by Fronomenal, Legomaestro, Mahluaandmilk, and yours truly, Coryn Sken!



CHAPTER 1: SHOCK
CHAPTER 1: SHOCK

In years past, an organization known as 4Kids held the Net in the grip of terror. They wished to rebuild the world in their image, a world in which subversiveness and creativity were distant memories. To create a monoculture which would reign over all that was left of humanity. And so, they launched a holy war in the name of censorship, control, and unity through force.
        Their armies were unrivaled. The loyalty of their soldiers beyond reproach. Like a creeping vine, 4Kids spread its tendrils out amongst the Net. What started as the twisted vision of a few soon expanded beyond the founders’ wildest dreams. 4Kids grew its own legends as site after site fell before it. The Demons of the Censorship Unit. The Last Stand of the 5th Division. The Unbreakable General Bethuw'el. The Mad Technopriest Junia. Azazel the Redeemed. The Burning of the Cherubs. True moments and people, turned into myths for the glorification of 4Kids.
        But despite all this, despite their power, despite their ideals, despite their legends and their heroes, 4Kids still fell.
        They suffered the fate of empires.
        They were destroyed not by an outside force, but from internal weakness. Eventually their reach exceeded their grasp, and they were not strong enough to pull themselves back up before falling off of the edge. They rotted from within, and paid the ultimate price for their negligence.
        Their tyranny was gone. The names of their legends, their heroes, their myths, all passed from common knowledge. What remained of their ranks slunk away into dark corners beyond the sight of the common people, and 4Kids was no more.
        Unfortunately, no one considered that once something becomes a myth, it becomes much harder to kill.

        There was a special place in MangaRaiders, reserved only for a few distinct individuals. They were the former 4Kids agents Akan and Achan. During the fall of 4Kids, they had been engaged in a battle with the Raiders, and were subsequently taken as prisoners. Ever since, they had resided in this special floor of MR Tower.
        Not that the accommodations were unpleasant. On the contrary, the Raiders had furnished a reasonable living space for the two. They had private bedrooms, a vast backlog of books and films, great skyline views, and even the occasional guided walk outside (albeit, one heavily monitored by MR’s administrators). Still, house arrest was house arrest. No matter where they went in the apartment, they could feel eyes on them. Their meals were carefully selected for them. Any technology they could use to contact the outside world was forbidden. Even basic toiletries had to pass inspection. But perhaps all that was still a small price to pay for trying to destroy the world of the Raiders.
        Perhaps…
        The two were occupied in the living room. Years of physical training under their general, Digamma, had left them with a strict routine that they continued to live by, and so they willed away the mid-morning with mental and physical exercise. All furniture had been cleared away, and they engaged in hand-to-hand training. Achan had always been the fighter of the two. Akan was just a hacker, but neither were the physical type. It was why they pushed themselves so hard in this arena. To them there was no point in overtraining their natural talents. It would have been a waste of time anyway. Achan’s guns had been confiscated, as was anything Akan could had even hoped to use as a computer. They were without the tools of their trade, and so they fell back on what they did have.
        Akan grabbed Achan by the horn and used her leverage. She sent Achan over her head, but the taller woman wasn’t done. Achan’s feet found the floor long before Akan could follow through with the throw, and she reversed the hold. Before Akan knew it, she was on her back, and Achan stood victorious. “Twenty-one to nineteen. It’s my win today.” Achan extended a hand to lift her opponent up, but Akan batted it away.
        “We’re wasting our time.” Akan lowered her head and sulked. Their imprisonment had been weighing heavily on both of them recently. The holidays had just passed, and being forced to watch their wardens go about their lives happily struck a painful blow. It did every year, but now as the sixth year of their captivity began, it was like the knife was being twisted. For a while, they had hung on to a vague hope that 4Kids would rally and come to their rescue, but that hope soon faded to disappointment. That they could handle, but now it was as if a new emotion controlled their lives. It wasn’t just a sense of betrayal, but a sense of powerlessness. They had tried to escape, to bargain, to plead, but the Raiders had remained unmoved. The demons of the former Censorship Unit now believed they would remain there forever, trapped like beautiful birds in a cage.
        Both knew what they were feeling, but Achan was yet to let herself show it so openly. She opened her mouth to say some words of encouragement, even if she didn’t believe them herself. That’s when they heard it.
A knock at the door.
        They both looked to the door to their apartment. Beyond it lay a man-trap, a secured passageway that could only be opened on one end at a time. Usually they could hear the mechanisms concealed within it as soon as someone began to access the far door, but this time there had been nothing. Had they simply not noticed during the match? Possibly, but there was another problem. The knock itself was unusual. It was dull, heavy, and there was only one. One single, impossibly loud knock. Just as they were about to question whether or not they had heard anything at all, a second knock came. Then a third, and finally a fourth. An announcement should have been made. A request to stand back, to put their hands on their heads. Cameras would have been able to tell whoever was there to see the demons whether or not the orders had been complied. But no such orders arrived, and now, the seals were engaged on their door. It was opening, by someone who clearly did not know the procedure. Or, by someone who did not care.
        The door opened slowly, and to their surprise, Akan and Achan were greeted by a single guest specter. The pale gray creatures were common throughout the Net, but one had never come to them in this way. Even more unexpected, it was holding something. An unescorted specter with a mysterious object, and it had come to pay them a visit? This was no action of the Raiders.
        The guest specter took a few paces into the room and stopped. It located the two women, and raised its arm. Its ‘hand’ turned, and it revealed a small, black object. The item almost looked like a yo-yo, but then it began to light up. Soft red light illuminated the device’s circumference, and a red point grew on its side grew into a circle. Finally, the circle flickered, and in the air before the specter, stood they hazy outline of a man in silhouette. It was so generic that it could have been anyone, but when the figure spoke, both Akan and Achan recognized him immediately. Hoarse, light, prideful. Anyone who didn’t know the man would have called it sniveling. Anyone who did wouldn’t dare to call it anything. “Good morning my beautiful demons! How have you been?”
        It was a dead man speaking to them. A specter in his own right, supposed to only survive in memory. But now, in the light of day, a new truth was emerging. Major Narcissus still lived, and he had gone through an awful lot of trouble to pay them a visit.

        Coryn and Mahlua were bent over a pile of blueprints on a table inside what looked like an abandoned (or never occupied in the first place) shopping mall. They had spent the days between participating in yet another unsuccessfully Great Raid and the annual New Years party drawing them up. That, and recovering from the usual array of life threatening injuries. Each of the plans was created from memory, and they were going through the process of eliminating any inconsistencies between them. “The trebuchets were earlier in the course.” Said Mahlua.
        “I’m certain they weren’t” Replied Coryn.
        “That’s because you lose your memories directly leading up to being knocked unconscious.” Mahlua mimicked getting hit in the head with her index finger.
        Coryn sighed. “Your own memories deceive you I think. I was merely resting my eyes. I knew you guys had it well in hand.”
        Mahlua rolled her eyes. “Suuure you did.”
        The cyborg winked his robot eye at her, while nonchalantly exing out the offending mistake on his drawings. “Sure did.”

        Lego was doing his absolute best to explode the punching bag before him with just his fist. In his defense, he was getting pretty good results. A pile of torn up bags was accumulating in the corner of the expansive room. The only mark against him was that he insisted on using members of the Fighters’ Division to hold the bags steady while he practiced.
        Another punch sent the current bag reeling, and Fortis had to jam his bony feet into the gym floor to keep from being sent flying right along with it. As it settled back down, he poked his head out from around the bag. “L-Lego, I know training is important and all, but isn’t Coach Fro going to be mad that you keep destroying all this equipment? I mean, you aren’t even a member of the division…”
        Lego just smirked at him. “That bastard owes me anyway! He thinks he’s so strong, but he’s never beat me in a fair fight! Not even once!” Without warning, Lego sent another hook flying into the bag, and the canvas finally gave way. Fortis released the bag as its sand poured out onto the wood floor of the gym. Lego just pointed his thumb back at himself. “And don’t think for a second that he has a better afro than I do! Fro may be your coach, but he’s still a thousand years too young to realize that a great afro doesn’t rely on magic to be powerful!”
        Fortis had started hauling the defeated bag off long before Lego had finished his soliloquy. “I’ll never understand those two…”

        Fro, meanwhile, was trying his hand at a new business idea. He was just outside the MR Pub, and had set up a small stand. It was reminiscent of a kid selling lemonade on a hot summer’s day, except he was a fully grown man, and it was a bitingly cold 13th of January. Fro knew this was coming however, and indeed he had been looking for it specifically. For Fro wasn’t selling lemonade like some chump from the 1950’s. No, this was truly an ascended level of curbside refreshment. He proudly served hot orange Kool-Aid, and was hocking it towards anyone looking to enter the pub. His current target was Robin. She was just going in for a second sip, and Fro hoped that it was because it delicious, and not just because it was a good way to warm up. “So? What do you think Robin? I’m open to investors if you’re interested?”
        Robin set down the glass. “It’s not bad! Although...maybe it’s a little too sweet? How much sugar did you put into this stuff anyway?”
        Fro gulped. He had forgotten to account for the fact that warm liquids can hold more dissolved solids than cold ones. Now, Fro knew his orange Kool-Aid, so he had gone beyond simply adding sugar by archaic measurement. Instead, he added sugar until the could tell that the drink was ready by its coloration. In this moment however, it had backfired on him. The afroed man quietly decided not to tell Robin about this fact, and pushed ahead. “Haha! Well, it’s to my own personal tastes, so part of this is adjusting it to a wider pallet!” Fro made his best ‘this is totally what I meant to happen’ face as Robin waved goodbye. He hung his head once she was out of sight however, and for a moment, just for a moment, contemplated calling it quits. “Oh hell no!” Fro leapt from his folding chair. “I’m going until I make everyone a true disciple of the the nectar from the gods!”
        He was about to go into further jubilation, when the Pub’s door swung open, and Pub-tan stepped out. “Hey! I already told you to keep it down out here! You’re going to scare off customers!”
        Fro slumped back into his chair. “Yes ma’am…”

        Narcissus’s crooked form met Akan’s and Achan’s confused faces. It was a terrible connection, but that wasn’t the problem in their minds. Narcissus had been presumed dead for more than a year before 4Kids actually fell. He shouldn’t have been talking to them at all, let alone through such means. Despite the questions that wanted to break forth, Akan and Achan fell back on years of instilled discipline.
        Akan snapped a salute, although it had long ago lost its crispness. “Major! You… I am glad to see you are alive. With all due respect sir, what happened? Why has it taken command so long to contact us?”
        It was a loaded set of questions, but the intent at least was clear. The hologram seemed to rub its chin, and Narcissus spoke. “4Kids command has disappeared, gone dark. For all intents and purposes, they no longer exist.”
        Achan took a nervous step forward. “Then-!”
        Narcissus’ hologram patted the air in front of itself. “Calm down agent. The old men at the top are not important, are they? When was the last time any of them risked their necks for any of us? No my dear girl, I am not coming to you on their behalf. We don’t follow them anymore.”
        A moment of silence passed. The Censorship Unit had been a sword of 4Kids. To believe in serving anyone else? It didn’t make any sense to either of them. Akan spoke. “Sir… I… Please explain.”
        Narcissus seemed to sigh, then again, it could have just been interference. “My poor girl, who did you really follow? It wasn’t Command, was it? No, you followed Digamma! I followed my own general! In the field, the words of men who sat safely at headquarters meant nothing to us! We were soldiers! But to them? We were just numbers on a screen.”
        “I don’t follow.” Was Achan’s reply.
        Narcissus spread out his arms. “We are soldiers! And we must do as soldiers must do! We are bringing war!" He let his arms down. “And we are bringing war to you.”
        An ice cold chill raced down their spines. Narcissus either didn’t notice, or didn’t care. Akan wondered if he could even seen them right now. In either case, Narcissus continued on his own. “I presume you are familiar with the story of the Lost Chorus aren’t you?”
        Achan gulped down her fright at the mention of the name. “When 4Kids was beginning to fall, they marched out into the Net. An army of men made up of only the most devout. But it was a suicide mission. They were destroyed.”
        Narcissus made a ‘tisk’ noise with his tongue, like he was scolding a child. “No my dear, you are quite incorrect.” What followed was a pregnant silence. The hologram continued without the input of the two women however. Narcissus gestured to the sky. He seemed caught up in the moment, generating all of the emotion he needed by himself. “The Lost Chorus is calling for you now! Akan Octa, Achan Heptadelta, you are summoned to serve!”
        Narcissus dropped his hands, and with them the pitch of his voice. Akan and Achan had to strain to hear him, but Narcissus’s words were clear. “MangaRaiders shall burn, and it is by your hands that it shall be done.”



Look out for Chapter 2 next week!
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Fortis Scriptor on January 14, 2019, 12:57:30 AM
Great opening chapter. Looking forward to the next one.  :clapping:
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Coach Fro on January 14, 2019, 05:11:01 PM
And so it begins...

A lot of work has been put into this, so I hope everyone who reads this story of ours enjoys it.

And glad to see you're along for the ride, Fortis! I promise the next chapter won't disappoint! 
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Rustee on January 15, 2019, 02:58:49 PM
 :clapping: :clapping: :clapping:
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Coryn on January 16, 2019, 10:38:19 AM
We'll take that as approval! Thanks Rustee!

Please keep reading, we're writing this so people can jump into the MR canon without being familiar with it before hand.
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: legomaestro on January 17, 2019, 07:09:08 AM
Something I cooked up in commemoration of this event.

(https://i.imgur.com/pQkWwLB.png)

Also, potential playlist would make the world go round.

And nooooooooo Achan and Akan... I thought we were friends...
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Coryn on January 17, 2019, 07:45:48 AM
Really cool piece there Lego! The white on black really works for your style! How long did it take you?
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: legomaestro on January 17, 2019, 06:07:48 PM
Thanks Coryn! It took me like 20 minutes I'd say. It was fun trying it out. I think white is just too stark a colour sometimes. I'll need to look into either that or the brushes I use.
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Coryn on January 17, 2019, 10:36:16 PM
It is a little muted, but it adds a lot of 'texture' to the characters. Like they're in shadow, but you're getting to see some highlights.

Oh, as for a playlist, I've made one of my own that's about half classical, half Vietnam era rock. I'll send it to you in a pm, since my Spotify account name is in the link, and that also happens to be my real name.
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Coryn on January 20, 2019, 10:29:46 PM
And we are proud to give you chapter 2! (I'll give bonus points to anyone who can correctly guess which one of us was the primary author on each of these chapters)


CHAPTER 2: THE PERFECT INSIDE JOB
CHAPTER 2: THE PERFECT INSIDE JOB

In order to tear down a place as secured and unified as MR, the demon duo would have to plan an infiltration weeks in advance, equip themselves with the most advanced technological gadgets known to man, and physically prepare themselves to the extreme for run ins with overpowered alien cats, witches, cyborgs, and afro haired supermen.
        Unfortunately, in between being detained under strict lockdown in their apartment, and receiving directives from a rather impatient man like Narcissus, the two agents were at an extreme disadvantage.
However, where there’s a will there’s a way, and with the combined experience and determination shared between the two, there was certainly a way.
        A few hours would have to do then.

        “You ready?” Achan asked Akan with a whisper as they walked through one of the corridors in the administration building. The two had been granted their usual break from their apartment to roam outside, but of course, their brief moment of freedom was severely limited. Surveillance cameras would make sure they keep themselves in check, and they were positive that the eyes of the administrators were casting glares at them from the unknown shadows.
        “Yeah…” The hacker replied in kind. She turned her head around slightly to cast a quick glance at one of the surveillance cameras that hung on the ceiling above. She never understood why Hasith never bothered upgrading MR’s security cameras to a less conspicuous model. Naturally, a tech geek like Akan would be bothered by this sort of thing, but given their situation and objective, she couldn’t complain much. She turned back to Achan. “You remember the code words?”
        “‘Old Man’ means Joe. ‘Thief’ means Raider. And... “ Achan paused briefly. “What was ‘baka’ again?
        “It means stupid, stupid.”
        Achan felt herself delivering a quick smack to her partner’s temple, but held off from doing so for the moment. “Later…” She muttered to herself.
        The two continued along the corridor to a flight of stairs going down. The central administration building, MR Tower, was rather tall to say the least. A hundred stories worth of floors was certainly no short walk, and at the amble pace the two were going, they would find themselves heading down stairs for a long time. This was fine to them, of course. After all, with the kind of mission they were embarking on, ample time to go over the plan in their heads was needed.
        Upon reaching the first floor, they found themselves in a large lobby. Towards the front of the room was a guest specter standing behind a reception desk. Under normal circumstances on the Net, it would look odd for a lone specter to be standing around in such a specific spot. However, the two agents had come to understand that this was an everyday occurrence in MR. The admins were busy people after all, so programming guest specters to handle their more miniscule tasks only made sense. This specter in particular was set to make sure that all who enter the tower were accounted for on the guest list. Time, date, and all. To the right of the specter was a pair of vending machines that the two had their sights on. Being prisoners, they didn’t actually have money of their own, which is where the guest specter came into play.
        “Hey, you hungry?” Achan asked Akan. She had abandoned the whispering and spoke rather loudly this time, as if she purposefully wanted to be heard. “I can get us a snack if you want.”
        “Yeah sure, I can go for some chips.” Akan replied, matching Achan’s tone.
        Achan walked over to the reception desk and shot the specter a very suspecting smile. It could’ve been easily mistaken as a devilish smile. However, specters weren’t programmed to interpret the meaning behind facial gestures, so it made no reaction to her gesture. It reached below the desk and pulled out a company credit card for MangaRaiders and handed it to Achan.
        “Thanks.” she said with a wink as she made her way to the vending machine. She eyed it questiongly for a second before turning around to address her partner. “Hey, what kind of chips do you want?”
        Akan let out a long, drawn out “Um” before replying. “Whatever you get.”
        Achan smirked. “Right…”
        She swiped the card through the card reader and pressed the button combination for the most generic looking chips in the top row. The vending machine hummed a mechanical sound as two bags of chips dropped to the bottom for retrieval. Upon grabbing them, Achan tossed one over to Akan, and simultaneously they began munching on their snacks, though, neither of them seem to pleased by their selections.
        “Blah!” Akan blurted out in disgust. “Taste like garbage.” She promptly tossed the unfinished bag of 'Overripe Fruit (Taste the decay!)’ potato chips into a nearby recycle bin.
        “Meh, they weren’t too bad.” Achan protested as she tossed hers in the garbage as well.
        “Says the girl who didn’t finish hers either.” Akan turned away from Achan and stared off into a small hallway where the restrooms were located. “Hey, I’m gonna use the restroom for a sec. I’ll catch up with you later, kay?”
        Achan shot her sly smirk and a wink. “Sure.”
        Akan winked back and ran off into the women’s restroom. As she watched Akan leave, Achan patted her pockets  and realized that she needed to take a quick detour as well.
        “Be right back.” She said to the guest specter as she dashed towards the elevator on her left. She quickly passed through the doors and they slowly shut to a close. Now inside, she scanned around for a particular camera that she knew would be keeping her under watch. Her search lead her to the upper corner of the elevator where a rather small security camera was zooming in on her frame. She reached down into her pants, and discretely pulled out a small, sharp kitchen knife that had been strapped to the side of her waist.
        “Mind your business!” She threw the knife and it pierced its way through the center of the small camera. Tiny sparks of electricity scattered about, and pieces of the camera itself fell upon the elevator floor. Achan smiled evilly. “Now the fun begins…” She stuck out her tongue. It was still littered with the crumbs of the chips she had earlier. However, in the midst of the crumbs there was a small black ear piece on the center of her tongue. She took this device and adjusted it properly on her ear, and once adjusted it beeped with a thin red light. The light flashed, and proceeded to phase in and out periodically. With that taken care of, she stepped up to the rows of buttons on the elevator’s wall. Usually, a few button presses at the most were needed to get to a floor on the tower. The destination she was heading to, however, required a bit more. She inputted a formerly secret series of selections into the buttons, and upon doing so, the lights of the elevator dimmed to black. A second later, red warning lights whirled about and accompanying them was a harsh sounding computerized voice.
        “YOU ARE ATTEMPTING TO ACCESS CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION'S RESTRICTED FLOORS! PLEASE STATE YOUR PERSONAL ADMINISTRATOR CODE TO BE GRANTED ACCESS!”
        The demon sighed. “Raider is ecchi, and ecchi is Raider.” Achan responded with the right amount of confidence as would suit a man like Hasith.
        “PERMISSION GRANTED! COMMENCING DESCENT TO ADMINISTRATOR SUBLEVELS!”
        The elevator jerked, but otherwise remained in place. Achan could hear some unknowable machinery clanking above and below her. Another jerk, and the elevator dropped without warning to the darkness below.

        Meanwhile, Akan had settled herself comfortably on the seat of the water closet. It was a small restroom for only a single user, which naturally meant no one could walk in on her. Akan would take full advantage of this and had already locked the door. Since not many raiders accessed the central administration building to begin with on any given day, she wouldn’t have to worry about unwary intruders disrupting her plan.
        She stuck out her tongue, and much like Achan, Akan too had a black earpiece that was secreted into the chips from earlier. Akan promptly took and placed on her ear. However, as the hacker of the two she needed an extra set of equipment to fulfill her side of the plan. Lucky for her, the device she needed was already set up for her to use, and it was in the very restroom she resided in.
        She got up from the stall and reached for a box of tissues that was on the counter. Akan didn’t need them, but the box itself had what she wanted. She flipped the box upside down and ripped the bottom open. Out dropped a phone that was hidden underneath the layers of tissues, a phone that been planted there for this particular moment.
        Akan smiled.

        Narcissus stood proudly.
        While this was his usual stance, this day in particular was different. The wind blew with a reassurance of certainty. Today would be day that MR groveled on its knees, and everything that he fought for and believed in would come to fruition for yet another group of heathens.
        He stood in the middle of a desolate city that they had just conquered with ease. Destroyed buildings and monuments lay scattered across the landscape. Smoke from countless fires filled the air and choked those caught unprepared. The Lost Chorus had been standing alongside him. A one-hundred and fifty thousand strong army of devoted soldiers tore through the city with ease. Some of the troops still scurried about across the fallen site, searching for any would be survivors or defiers.
        As he stared off into the smoke filled sky, he felt a buzzing in the pocket of his coat. He pulled out a vibrating metallic sphere, and pressed his thumb into the center of it. The sphere twisted and stretched open, and from it, a holographic display of Akan’s face popped into view. She was concentrated on her screen. Akan’s eyes darted back and forth as they took in the stream of information before her.
        Narcissus smirked. “Hello, my dear agent. I assume all is going well?”
        The holographic Akan nodded. “Yes sir. The first stage of the mission has commenced. Achan should be making her way to Uncle Joe as we speak.”
        “Have you gained access to MR’s digital infrastructure yet?”
        “Working on that right now. Should have access and a working digital map of MR’s underground layout and structure within a few minutes.”
        “Good. Once Achan reaches the central core, she should be able transport you right past its defences with the codes I provided. From there, the rest of the plan should go off without a hitch. Per my directions, of course.”
        “Of course, sir. Although, I’m a little surprised that you were able to manipulate the guest specters here so easily. Thanks to you, this mission is going extremely well.”
        Narcissus shot Akan a stern look. “That’s no excuse to let your guard down, agent. After all, the plan is still in motion and it won’t take long for our enemies to catch on. Besides, it does not take much effort hack into an unprotected specter’s programming. MangaRaiders has grown complacent. Though you should not worry about such trivial things for now.”
        “My apologies, sir. You’re right, we shouldn’t be getting ahead of ourselves too early.”
        “Just see to it that the plan is successfully completed. The very fate of our cause rests solely in your hands. Do. Not. Fail me.”
        Akan nodded with respect. “We won’t, sir.” She said as she faded out of view.
        Narcissus returned the projector to his pocket. And amble footsteps crept up behind the major as if on cue. The voice of a woman spoke softly. “Is everything going according to plan, sir?”
        Narcissus did not bother with turning around to address the woman. “They very much are, Sister.”
        “And I assume the general will be pleased?”
        A smirk escaped the major. “I am certain that he already is…”

        The pub was bustling with activity today, which was a little odd considering the city was always a bit quieter after the holiday season. Raiders were indulging themselves in the usual drunken conversation and drinking games. They included the moderators Lego and Coryn, who were participating in their own little game called “Know your Raider.”
        “C’mon Lego, I’m sure you know Fro like the back of your hand.” The scientist said with a teasing smile.
        “Gah!” Lego shouted in frustration. “How the hell I am supposed to know his favorite color?”
        “I mean, you fought the guy more than I have, with you being his ‘rival’ and what not. I’m sure the debate of color came up at one point or another.”
        Lego scoffed. “Yeah right, like that means anything.” Lego scratched his afro as he contemplated an answer. “Uhhh, is it orange?”
        Coryn slid a shot of vodka across the table towards Lego. “Nope. It’s black.”
        “What!? But that’s not even considered a color!”
        Coryn shrugged. “Try telling him that.”
        Lego growled and wolfed down the shot in one gulp, and proceeded to jump up from his seat after slamming the glass down on the table. He stretched out his arm, and in the next second a femto katana materialized in his hand. Lego pointed it at Coryn.
        “Enough of these silly games, Coryn! Come, let's settle our differences like real men!”
        A barrier formed around Coryn at the snap of his finger. “You’re obviously drunk, but if you insist…”
        “Ahem…”
        The voice from across the room came from Pub-Tan, who was glaring at the two from behind her bar. She was wiping  down some glasses that had their names on them, and upon sensing her murderous intent, the two raiders ceased their squabble and shamefully sunk in their seats. After a moment of awkward silence, Lego spoke up.
        “So uh, what’s Hasith’s favorite anime?”

        Mahlua was out clothes shopping in Corycaly’s store with the other girls from the Fighters Division. Mahlua wasn’t much of a shopper to begin with, but she was in definite need of some new battle gear, and felt that bringing the other girls along would be a good bonding experience. Of course, when you put a tomboy like Mahlua, an absent minded child like Filia, and a gender neutral frog like Greentrap in the same room together, you won’t necessarily get a normal experience. Still, the three were getting along well enough, and that’s really all that mattered.
        Mahlua was helping Filia pick out a cute battle outfit that was appropriate for a girl her age. Mahlua’s sense of cute for a girl was a bit skewed, but she still felt like she could offer some valuable input. But with Filia turning down all her suggestions, she was beginning to think her input wasn’t so valuable after all.
        “You sure you don’t like this one, Filia?” Mahlua asked, pulling out a yellow shirt and a pair of jeans from the rack. “I think it would go great with your shoes.”
        Filia shook her head. “Um, that shirt is a little too yellow, miss Lua…”
        “Well what about this one?” Mahlua snatched a red dress from the rack and dangled it in front of Filia. “It’s a cute red and plus, it’s a dress! You like dresses don’t you? You wear ‘em all the time.”
        “Umm… I don’t know…”
        Mahlua sighed. “I know your favorite color is white and you like white dresses and all, but you don’t have to dress like a royal princess all the time, y’know.”
        “I know, I’m sorry.” Said Filia with an embarrassed glance at her shoes.
        “It’s fine honey.” Mahlua turned around called out for Greentrap, who had been in the fitting rooms for quite a while. “Ayo Greentrap! You’ve been in there for like twenty minutes now. You alright in there?”
        “No rushing, ribbit!” the frog yelled back.
        Mahlua smirked. “Well me and Filia got outfits to try on too, y’know? Stay in there any longer and I’ll make you come out!”
        A long sigh echoed from within the fitting room. “Fine.” Greentrap said, giving in.
        The door swung open and from it emerged Greentrap wearing an oversized beanie with an oversized shirt and blue jeans to match. She folded her arms and posed like a ‘gangsta’ from a played out rap video.
        “Wassup mah ribbits?”
        Mahlua facepalmed. “It’s gonna be a long day with these two…”

        Fro was snooping around the Science Division.
        Mentioning the words ‘Science Division’ and ‘alone’ in the same sentence was a scary thing to say out loud. Aside from Coryn, no raider in their right mind would dare mess around by themselves in the hellhole that was the Science Division. Especially considering the fact that there were areas of the underground complex that even Coryn stayed away from. Fro, however, was a daredevil who didn’t have a right mind to begin with. Also, he was bored after his Kool-Aid venture failed miserably. Boredom alone could drive a man to do some insane things.
        Fro carefully made his way through a dimly lit corridor, making sure his footsteps were as silent as possible. With this being his fifth trip through this particular area of the division, he was already accustomed to its layout. Still though, he had to be careful. Coryn’s personal V.I’s could pop up at a moment’s notice. Jacqueline had got him good the last time, and he wasn’t going to let her catch him slipping in again. Upon reaching an intersection, Fro stopped and pressed his back against the wall, slowly poking his head around the corner to make sure there were no V.I’s in sight down the hall.  With the coast clear, he dashed down the hall and stopped upon reaching a particular door on the right.
        “Whew, made it.” he sighed in relief.
        Fro opened the door and quickly entered inside the dark room, quietly shutting the door behind him as he did so. He flipped the switch on the wall and the lights flickered on, revealing a rather standard looking lab room.         Nonstandard, the lights also revealed a strange looking robot strapped onto a metal table in the center of the room. The robot looked discombobulated, and oddly, it had an afro on its head. Which one close inspection, was just a wig super-glued onto it. This was all Fro’s doing, and with the determined look he had on his face, it seemed he had some unfinished business to attend to.
        Fro dug into his afro and pulled out some tools and laid them out on the table. He took a good look at the robot and made a mental note to bring some hair dye for next time. Now, anybody who knew Fro would know that building a robot would fall into the science category, and that science wasn’t necessarily his strong suit. Fro knew this as well, of course, and quite honestly he didn’t need to. Not when he had YouTube to rely on at least.
        He pulled out his phone and tapped on the screen to bring up a how to video on building robots that he had saved to his playlist. Fro placed the phone on the table and occasionally glanced over at it as he began going to work.
        The phone's meager speakers echoed in the lab. “Hello, ladies and gentleman! My name is Brian and today in this video I’m going to be showing you how to build your very own robot!”

        The elevator had finally come to an abrupt stop. With how violently and quickly it dropped to begin with, coupled with the length of the fall, Achan was surprised that she landed in one piece.
        The doors flew open, and Achan stepped out into an area that was illuminated by dark blue lights. It was hard to see at first, but more lights flashed in front of Achan as she stepped forward. What was revealed to her certainly threw her head for a spin. “A maze, huh…”
        Giant metal walls criss-crossed together to form a giant maze that occupied the entire vicinity. While she was informed that  Uncle Joe would be carefully hidden behind some sort of defense mechanism, she never would have guessed that a maze would be the thing that stood in her way. Just as Achan was about step towards the starting point, her earpiece buzzed with static and a voice rang through her ear. “Achan, it’s Akan. Have you arrived at the location?”
        “Yeah, I have, but it looks like things won’t be so simple from here on out.”
        “Huh? Why do you say that?”
        Achan stepped past the starting point. “Because it looks like we’re gonna have to solve some puzzles along the way.”
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Coryn on January 27, 2019, 07:41:29 PM
And here we have Chapter 3! This one is a little shorter than the others, but it's still full of good stuff! Don't worry if you're already ready for some action though! Things are about to kick off for all of us!


CHAPTER 3: THE ENCIRCLEMENT GAME
CHAPTER 3: THE ENCIRCLEMENT GAME

Narcissus approached a large tent at the center of their camp. It dwarfed the canvas structures around it, and the entrance was flanked with weary battle flags. Size was its only aggrandizement however. Its capacity only spoke to the importance of the one who occupied it. The leader of the army always warranted the largest accommodations. While many of them had flaunted their status, there was no hint of it here. The abode was exactly what it needed to be. Nothing more. Nothing less. The General never took what he deemed unnecessary.
        That was just the kind of man that he was.
        Narcissus stepped into the semi-darkness of the tent’s entrance. He found himself in a vestibule meant to keep out the worst of the dust from the battlefield. Trophies flanked the major on both sides. These were no golden cups, but rather the debris of war. Broken swords, shattered shields, the carcasses of gutted technologies and relics. Each item along the short walk told a story of conquest. Each one the last reminder of a world the Lost Chorus had eradicated. The General had hand picked them all. Narcissus had never understood his method of selection, but the display spoke for itself. The path filled Narcissus with reverence for their cause. This was almost a holy place for him, and it seemed to stretch out forever in his eyes.
        After only a half dozen paces however, Narcissus reached the opening to the inner tent. The path collapsed back to its real length in his mind. In such a short walk Narcissus had been humbled enough to address his general. He pushed the tent flap open, and entered the cool darkness beyond.
        There was just enough light to navigate. At the center of the space was a large wooden desk. Narcissus knew this from experience. He had participated in the campaign the General had a acquired it on, although Narcissus was yet to serve under his command at that time. As the major approached, he could just make out the maps and papers which overhung the front of the desk, but the man who sat behind it was bathed in shadow. Narcissus could only perceive the General in silhouette, but he didn't need the light to follow the General’s silent commands.
        Narcissus came to a halt about fifteen yards in front of the desk. There, an intricately woven rug awaited him, and Narcissus dropped to one knee upon it. He 'met’ the General's gaze, snapped a crisp salute, and then bowed his head.
        Narcissus was a man possessing personality traits many would consider unpleasant. He was cruel, zealous, conniving, scheming, prideful, remorseless, and envious. If he saw weakness, he would pour himself into the crack, and rip you apart at the seams. Narcissus had climbed through the ranks by dismantling his own leadership, and by subjugating those who dared follow his example. But the plain truth was that of all his qualities, Narcissus possessed one truly noble attribute.
        He understood the meaning of 'respect’.
        Narcissus did not use the feeling lightly. He did not give it freely, nor had he found many who deserved its graces. But in this man before him, in Narcissus's general, did he find the subject of his utmost respect.
        The General, the leader of the Lost Chorus. A man of impeccable dedication, of unshakable will. In this man Narcissus could place the future of their cause.
        Narcissus had spent years probing him, looking for an opening. Searching for an opportunity to break him down, to destroy him. But it never came. No matter what the General was presented with, no matter the machinations of their sinful foes, no matter the forces of nature pitted against them, they broke like waves against a great boulder.
        Narcissus had found the one man immune to his talents. And for him, that was all he needed to follow the General to the ends of the world. “Major Narcissus reporting, sir. Agent Achan Heptadelta has made contact. The operation is underway.”
        Narcissus paused. He had expected orders hours ago, but the General had remained silent on the subject. Now that the mission was progressing successfully, something would surely come. Surprisingly however, the General had refused to broach the subject. Narcissus kept his head down, unwilling to attract undue ire from his leader. The seconds stretched out, and Narcissus could feel the General's gaze on him like a hot flame. Finally unable to bear the silence any longer however, Narcissus began to speak. “Sir, if I may, the troops-”
        “What do you think of them Narcissus?”
        The General's even voice had stopped Narcissus in his tracks. “I…” He was unsure of his response. “Them? Sir?”
        “You've read the file on our next opponents, I presume.”
        Narcissus had read the file over a dozen times. He had spent the better part of six months planning the infiltration. In that time he had come to know them as well as they knew themselves, if not better. The General knew that of course, so it was clear to Narcissus that he was being put through some sort of test. “Sir, yes sir. I have made myself familiar with them.”
        The General waved a hand through the air, as if to clear it of some unseen haze. “Then please, tell me your thoughts. At ease.”
        Narcissus nodded, and rose back to his feet. “Sir, thank you sir. The 'Raiders’, as they collectively refer to themselves, have been known to 4Kids for some time. In the years leading up to the collapse, they repulsed multiple concentrated bot and spam ninja attacks, a terraforming incursion, a biological weapon developed by Treachery, and multiple encounters with members of the Censorship Unit.” Narcissus paused to think on his summation. “They possessed at those times, and continue to possess, many strong combatants. While they are not a unique case, they proved resilient enough to outlast 4Kids’ efforts. That being said, sir, they have never encountered a force our size. We shall defeat them handily.”
        Narcissus could hear the leather of the General's chair creak as he leaned back. Once again the tent was in silence as the General contemplated Narcissus's answer. Before it became too drawn out however, the General spoke. “You are close Narcissus, but you have missed the mark.”
        Narcissus felt a pang of instinctual anger in his gut, but he was careful not to express it. “Sorry, sir?”
        The chair creaked again, and the General rested his elbows on his desk. “You are correct to say they are not unique, Narcissus. In fact I would go so far as to call them archetypical. Do you disagree?”
        “No, sir.”
        “Good. Because I have seen their tale play out a hundred times. They are a prime example of our failure, Narcissus. We find these newly founded cities, and what did we do with them? Did we muster our forces? Did we commit resources to their containment? No Narcissus, we did not.”
        Narcissus was beginning to feel heat growing under his collar. The General’s cadence and tone had not changed from his normal even level, but he could sense a menace behind his words. “Sir, if I may. In the case of MangaRaiders, all of the normal protocols were followed. There are no clear mistakes in their management.”
        The General fell silent again before responding. “And that, Narcissus, is where we failed. Look at their history. When we first discovered them, what did we do? Send a single bot virus to eradicate them? They destroyed it within the hour. Why did that not incur further wrath? Should we have not seen a future of troubles then?
“And then what did they do? We tested them, and they overcame us. In the time it took us retaliate, they were training, getting stronger. After each time our forces lost to them, we allowed them time to rest, time to recover, time to better themselves.”
        Narcissus took an involuntary step forward. “Every time we reengaged them we sent stronger forces to account for that!”
        The General snapped at him. “To what end?! We were only ever smart enough to attack them in even fights. A war is not won by first ensuring each side is equal.”
        A quiet fell on the room. Narcissus realized his transgression, and slowly slid his foot back into place. “We far outmatch them in every way General. They are nothing more than a thorn in our side that we must pluck.”
        The General did not respond for some time, and Narcissus was beginning to worry for his own sake. Finally he heard a sigh from the General. “To call them a thorn, Narcissus, is to underestimate our foe. A thorn is inactive. It has no will of its own. No, Narcissus, these ‘Raiders’, and all of the other sites like them, are a spider. They are not aggressive all on their lonesome. They are defensive, trap makers. Once you find yourself entangled in their web, their bite will prove venomous. And 4Kids made the mistake of wading into a whole den of spiders.”
        A small flash of light blinded Narcissus’ eyes, which had grown accustomed to the darkness. The General had lit a cigar, and he could see the dull ember burning in the darkness. It seared a line across his vision, but he did not let his attention sway. “And what is your suggestion, General, when it comes to spiders?”
        Smoke billowed out into the room, obscuring even the darkness. “When you wish to kill a spider, Narcissus, you do not prod it with your finger until you have induced it to bite you. No, Narcissus. The opening salvo should be to smash it with your bootheel. Only then may you claim victory. 4Kids had the boot at their disposal, and yet they ignored it in favor of the weakest of options. They left their wounds to rot and fester, and eventually they sat in apathy as the self-inflicted infection killed them. But I am different, my Lost Chorus, is different. We shall not hesitate to use our heels, regardless of the beast which has so arrogantly claimed our home as their own.”
        An ice cold chill ran up from the base of Narcissus’ spine. But it was no chill of dread or terror, it was an excitement that burned white hot as it smashed into the base of his skull. He let the General’s words penetrate every ounce of his being. The major soaked them up and directed them into his core. Holy fire burned in his mind and in his heart, and he snapped a salute. “Sir! Yes sir!”
        The General relaxed back into his chair, and let the cigar rest in his hand. “Order the men to break camp. I want them ready for inspection in half an hour.”

        Between some more (relatively quiet) drinking games, dares, and lost and won matches, Lego was, as you’d say, ‘three sheets to the wind’, besotted, crocked, hammered, inebriated, plastered, etc. etc.. In the common fate of those who can survive preposterous amounts of true physical damage and indeed in some cases actual death, when Lego drank he went… A little too far.
        “I bet you can’t do this.” Lego tried to do a handstand and drink a vodka, but it went up his nose. He flipped over and crashed into a table. By now Pub-tan had had enough, and he was thrown out along with Coryn.
        “Hey I didn’t do anything!” Barked the fair haired moderator.
        “Sorry man.” Lego hiccuped, “I really thought I could land that one. I swear Pub-tan hates me. This is discrimination against green alien cats!” He shook his fist at the pub, and a well aimed peanut flew out the window and hit him in the forehead, sending him down on the ground.
        “Ugh. Why are the Tans so scary? I miss them being cute and cuddly.”
        Coryn shook his head, “Says the guy who likes yandere.”
        “Yandere makes girls cuter and cuddd… lier.”
        “I don’t think that’s a word.”
        Coryn wasn’t quite done socializing in the Pub, but an moderator’s job was never done, and he also had a lot of things to organize and sort out as the new year got rolling. A lot had happened, and a lot would happen. He had to be at the forefront to do his part, and make sure it went smoothly. Without, say, the raiders being teleported to some distant dimension, or some raiders forgetting their names, or anything in between.
        Lego got to his feet, “Hic-! Lighten up ya old sourpuss.” He looked at Coryn, “I’m going to go walk this off, maybe stroll through the Artist and Writers Districts. Wanna come?”
        “You don’t stroll. You run on rooftops.”
        “Stroll, running on roofs, what’s the difference?”
        “Yeah, yeah.”
        Lego walked away with a *censored*-eating grin on his face. His body complained at how much he had drunk, but Lego’s eyes took in the city lights and felt just fine. Juuust fine. Nothing could touch him right now. He’d had big lows. Looking for a job, looking for meaning, and feeling even more lost when he felt the forum was slower and everyone was leaving. But he could still go for a night out and chill with fellow raiders, and that was just fine. Plus, he looked forward to busting up more punching bags at Fro’s place. There was nothing better than annoying that brotherman.
        Lego’s ‘stroll’ took longer than he thought. As he got a little more sober, Lego hopped and skipped from rooftop to rooftop as he went about the city. He didn’t think about it much, but he ‘walked’ in an outward-spiral that started from the centre of the city to the edges. He didn’t exactly follow this spiral or visit every place, but he always crossed into every district during these ‘strolls’.
        MR Tower, the best landmark in town, stood proud amongst several more skyscrapers. Near it was the proud and amazing Ethical Science Division Tower (he really needed to work on more projects to spread their amazing technology). Lego wondered when the destroyed Broadcast Tower would be rebuilt. The last he heard, it had become a weird center for underground street art, rap and music. He’d need to check it out sometime.
He cast his eye out further, at that silver alloy wall that kept everyone safe and protected in the city. Lego also remembered his duty to slay the occasional spam ninja. He was glad they were most of what he’d had to face lately. As brutal as fights tended to be with Raiders, there was a camaredie to it all that beat dealing with real problems. The trolls had been the worst by far however.
        Lego moved forward. The floating Kaos Kubes of the Writers and Artists Districts (the objects which brought stories and artwork to life), were always alight, always busy. Ever since Art-tan re-manifested they had gotten an extra kick in activity.
        Now in the flowing water-roads of The Fashion District, Lego felt a need to buy more trench-coats. His older ones, unbelievably, were getting tattered.
        The interconnected trafficways flowed smoothly operating busses and the like.  Though it was odd to have so many guest specters and only a few actual raiders, they still filled up the city to the point that you would be forgiven for thinking it was a thriving metropolis.
        Standing on the rooftop of one of the skyscrapers, Lego noticed for the first time that something was off.
        There were no spam ninjas.
        None at all. Nada, zilch. Not even a whiff of them. He focused on the outer walls, borrowing his cat form’s eyesight for a bit. He didn’t even see the tale-tale fly-zapper effect of the ninjas being fried on the external defences.
        A slow day? Yeah, that happened, but not like this. This was tantamount to nekomimis not being cute, or something similarly absurd. He never had a day, or a stroll, without the opportunity to swing his sword at least once. Even if sometimes it was such that he could ignore them when the threat wasn’t substantial.
        Instead, there simply seemed to be none in sight, none interested in coming to the forum, none poking their heads out or growing in the underbelly of the city.
        Spam ninjas were like rats. They were always there. Part of the ecosystem.
        And if rats suddenly went underground, suddenly jumped ship, then…
        Lego headed to The MR Tower, feeling an itch but still remaining calm. He was just overthinking things, he knew. When he went up that elevator and walked in he’d be a bit nervous, just a tick jittery. But he’d go up to the tower, check with Hasith and it would be almost disappointingly pointless to have worried.
        Lego was wrong. If only he could have foreseen what was about to happen.
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Vacant on February 01, 2019, 02:55:20 PM
Ohh exciting times! It's interesting to read even with my basic ass knowledge of the MR Canon.  If I had to guess who the major authors were of each chapter, I would go....

Chapter 1: Fro
Chapter 2: Mahlua
Chapter 3: Coryn (Although Lego's POV section he surely had a hand in)

Will look forward to Chapter 4  :thumbsup:

Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Coryn on February 02, 2019, 09:11:09 AM
Hmmm. Interesting choices Vacant. You get 1/3 points. I'll let you decide which chapter you figured out, lol.

Glad you liked it! Please feel free to ask any questions that come up! We'll make a canon nerd out of you yet!
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Coach Fro on February 03, 2019, 09:41:43 PM
Alright everybody, here's chapter 4! Lots of action and suspense that I'm sure you all will enjoy.


CHAPTER 4: THANK UNCLE JOE

CHAPTER 4: THANK UNCLE JOE

        Achan’s foray into the puzzle filled maze wasn’t going as smooth as she would like. To be completely fair, though, It’s not like she was expecting a maze to begin with. She knew the raiders were wacky folk, but the maze was a bit over the top if you asked her.
Static buzzed through Achan’s earpiece as she turned left at a corner. “Achan,” said the voice of Akan, who sounded a bit irritated. “Stop making left turns so damn much!. You’re making this whole thing longer than it needs to be.”
        Achan made another left as Akan said that. “Well, if making right turns didn’t have me reaching dead ends so often, I would probably stop making left ones!” After her retort, Achan continued to follow her better judgement and progressed further to the left half of the maze. At certain points she felt she was going in complete circles. Up then left. Left then down. It certainly threw her head for a spin, and while she couldn’t see the rest of the fortress from her position, she could feel that she would be running into a few more circles, much more than she would have liked to.
        Another left now, and Achan found herself along a path where she could only advance straight. Seeing this, Achan figured she had pretty much covered as much of the left half portion of the maze as she possibly could, and followed the path with hope from making some considerable progress. The straight shot seemed long, but Achan could see a giant metal wall and a path going right. She smiled. She was doubtful at first, but her intuition would not fail her this time, she thought. Akan was the stupid one this time around, and that promising right turn would be her undeniable proof.
        She made the right and continued along the route until finally…
        “A dead end?”
        She stopped dead in her tracks and stood in disbelief. Achan gawked at the cruel maze wall that played the spoiler. Where did she go wrong? She wondered. Surely, in her mind, she was going in a promising direction. Akan had been leading her on blank missions, falsely directing her nowhere, and now her own sense of direction couldn’t be trusted. Achan would have to backtrack.
        Again.
        Salt was bubbling on the surface of Achan’s skin, and as if the sodium pouring out of her wasn’t enough, a mocking Akan verbally began rubbing that salt into Achan wounds. “Haha! Stupid! I told you to stop going left so much. That’s what you get!”
        Achan growled.“Shut up! Aren’t you supposed to be helping me solve this damn puzzle? ‘Cause you’re not doing a good job of that!”
        “I was helping you. You just weren’t listening to me.”
        “No, you know what I mean by ‘helping me.’ What happened to that digital map you were downloading? Having a layout of this place would be ten times more helpful than you just giving me blind guesses to go off of.”
        “Oh please, like yours are any better. And for your information, no, it hasn’t fully downloaded yet. Cracking into the thieves’ underground database was no fast process, so you’re lucky that I at least have a working map of what you’ve progressed through so far. Though, to be honest, tracking your left turns in real time is really giving me a headache.”
        Achan, still a little heated, stormed up to the giant wall and kicked as hard as she could. “Argh! This maze is so frustrating!”
        A metallic shriek rang out.
        “Huh?”
        Achan wasn’t entirely sure at first, but a few seconds of needed silence passed, and she was able to confirm her paranoa. The wall had definitely budged. Not by a lot, but it had budged nonetheless.
        “Hey, that thing moved, right? Try pushing it some more.” said an urging Akan.
        Achan listened. Though, she really didn’t really need Akan telling her to do something so common sense.
She pushed on the flat surface. The wall was certainly dense, but it slowly gave way to Achan’s show of force. A huff, a puff, and a creak later, Achan pushed her way onto the other side.
        And she wasn’t too happy to say the least.
        “Wait, what?”
        Before her were three paths: One going left, one going right, and a path that lead back to the starting point. Her jaw dropped. All her hard work gone down the drain just like that. “How?” she asked desperately. “This doesn’t even make sense!”
        “Hmm…” said an musing Akan through Achan’s earpiece.
        “What are you ‘hmming’ about?
        “That door was an RNG.”
        Achan looked perplexed. “RN- what?”
        “It’s short for ‘random number generator’. Basically it refers to something having an unpredictable amount of random outcomes. Coming across a desired outcome is based on pure luck. In our case, that door you just passed through is probably linked to every other door like it in this maze, and once you pass through one, you’ll end up in another random area.”
        “So what you’re saying is that finding Uncle Joe will depend on luck alone?”
        “Partially, but not entirely. We can still maneuver around normally, it’s just that avoiding going through a RNG door will be highly unlikely. We’ll just have to carefully consider our options each time, and hope for the best.”
        A depressing sigh escaped the tired Achan. “Great…”
        “Luckily for us though, the digital map I’m downloading is nearing completion. It looks like we’ll have much easier time solving this hellhole once I’m finally able to see this maze in its entirety.” Akan paused, and Achan could hear her partner’s subtle moans of thoughtful pondering, quiet though they were. “Damn, it looks like those doors won’t  be the only obstacles getting in our way. From what I’m seeing,  the bosses of the thieves will be have a lot more in store for us.”
        Achan shrugged lazily and snapped back around to the RNG door that landed her in her current position. “As if this stupid maze alone wasn’t enough.”
        “Gonna test your luck?”
        Achan pressed a hand against the wall. “Might as well. It’s not like I got much to lose with where I’m at right now.”
        She pressed forward, the door turned, and Achan ended up on the other side. As far as what this side would lead to was a mystery.

        Lego had arrived at the front door of MR Tower. Stumbling of course. He was still a little drunk, but the buzz was slowly receding and he was at least coherent enough to not fall through the entrance and land flat on his face. Say what you want about the cat, the guy knew how to handle his liquor.
        The automatic doors slid open and Lego stepped into the main lobby. Nothing out of the ordinary presented itself. The guest specter was behind the counter like usual, the lobby was clean, etc etc. Still, even as he shrugged his earlier suspicions off, Lego still felt the vibe in the air was off. But what was it?
He decided not to put too much stock into it for now. After all, his intuition wasn’t always the greatest. Add that on top of being intoxicated and he could easily just chalk it up to pointless paranoa. Lego moved with drunken wobbles up to the counter to sign in on the guest list. Normally, a moderator could just skip signing in altogether, however Lego felt like signing in anyway. To his surprise, though, he found an interesting entry on the list. His eyes squinted hard at the familiar names.
        “Hasith and Corycaly are out again?”
        According to the sheet, the administrators had left earlier during the morning and hadn’t returned since. Not too weird, Lego thought. They would on occasion would leave the city to handle personal matters. Whether those matters included scouring the Net for the latest ecchi manga or sewing supplies was often as not the real question. Either way, it wasn’t Lego’s place to judge. Still though, he was a bit disappointed. Lego had hoped a conversation with one of the two would rid him of his worrisome thoughts. Now he would have to wait until day was over to get rid of whatever bad mojo he was feeling.
        Just as Lego was about to leave, his ears twitched. He had heard something. A voice, mumbled, and with a slight echo. He looked over his shoulder and realized it was coming from women’s bathroom. Who? He wondered. It’s wasn’t uncommon for someone to stop by the tower to take a convenient restroom break. But given the time of day, and just the simple fact not many raiders were out and around at the moment cast a funny suspicion over him. He followed his instinct and headed towards the door of the women’s bathroom. Now that he was closer, the voice was slowly making itself familiar to his ears. Lego had an idea of who it was, but his drunken stupor prevented him from being certain. He knocked on the door without thinking.
        A panicked shriek sounded, followed by a what sounded like something being dropped to the floor. “W-who is it?” Akan asked, sounding almost terrified.
        “Akan?” Lego tilted his head, looking confused.
        “Lego!? What the hell are you doing here? Jeez, don’t you know it’s rude for a guy to just randomly knock on the girl’s bathroom?”
        Lego burped. “Jus’ wondering who was in here. Hey, where’s Achan then? She in there with you?”
        “Um... no, stupid! She uh… left already. Yeah… I told her I would meet up with her later.”
        Lego took a moment to ponder. “Huh… I don’t remember seeing her…” he said quietly to himself. “Yah sure she’s not in the there with you?”
        “I said NO!” Akan screamed.
        Lego shrugged. “Alrighty then- hic! I’ll be going now. Make sure ya flush after you’re done and use plenty of tissue.”
        “UGH! JUST SHUT UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE ALREADY!”
        With that, he excused himself from Akan’s presence and walked back over to the center of the lobby. He flopped down on a lobby couch and hung his head back on the soft cushions. Lego felt dazed. First the weird vibe, and now this awkward run in with Akan was throwing his head for a loop. ‘Normal’, he kept repeating to himself. Everything was normal. He tried his best to convince himself that nothing was wrong, but he shook his head. Something was wrong. Lego just hadn’t figured it out yet.
        He popped up from the couch and headed for the elevator. The moderator wasn’t sure why he was walking towards the elevator, but at this point it didn’t really matter. Lego was operating off of pure instinct, and he allowed it to take him to wherever it saw fit.
        To Lego’s credit, it led him to the source of his paranoa.
        The elevator doors opened, and without even stepping in, Lego noticed the pieces of destroyed security camera on the floor. He lifted his sight up and found a broken hook that belonged to the no longer operating device.
        “Huh…”
        Lego turned back around immediately.

        Back inside the bathroom, Akan was still reeling from her interaction with Lego. Her eyes kept darting back and forth from her phone to the door. Even as she continued to guide Achan, her free ear was still much attuned to the subtle noises coming from the lobby. She hoped Lego had actually left. The last thing she needed was a raider interrupting the plan after everything had already been going so smooth. More than that, it was too important for them to succeed. The lives of the demon’s very much depended on it.
        “Hey, Akan,” Said Achan through Akan’s earpiece. “You alright over there? You’re a bit quiet. That cat isn’t around still, is he?”
        “No. I think he left, but I’m not really sure yet. I’m a bit nervous to tell the truth.”
        “I can’t really blame you for feeling nervous, but now isn’t the time. You need to focus and help me reach the end of this maze, remember?”
Akan took a deep breath. “You’re right, for once. I’m sure he’s gone by now.” Akan returned her full attention to the digital map on her phone screen. “Hey, there’s another dead end coming up soon. Try going-”
        Before she finished, the bathroom door was kicked in. There stood Lego with a stone cold expression on his face.
        Akan jumped, eyes wide with terror. “Ah! Hey what are you-”
        Lego teased his blade against her throat.
        “You’re coming with me.”

        It had been complete radio silence on Achan’s side for quite some time now. And it was beginning to worry her.
        The last thing she heard from Akan was a panicked shriek and some muffled noise that she couldn’t make out. Other than that, her earpiece had been quiet.
        “I hope she’s alright,” Achan said to herself. She knew Akan had been captured, and soon enough she would be caught as well if she didn’t hurry. Even though Akan had been captured, she herself still had a mission to carry out. It was just that now with Akan out of the picture, things would unfortunately be a lot harder than necessary.
Achan headed straight along a path and took a left that had a series of shorter paths. The majority of them were dead ends of course, so Achan stayed away from them. However, a particular path on her right caught Achan’s attention. She skidded to a stop and stared at the potential option. After a moment of contemplation, she went in that direction. Achan didn’t know why, but she felt that the direction she took was absolutely vital, as if a voice in her head had told her to do it.
        Funny enough, there was a voice, but it wasn’t from inside her head. Achan stopped upon hearing the murmuring of a feminine voice nearby. She turned around. “Who’s there?”
        “Over here, intruder!”
        Achan looked all around for the culprit mocking her, but there was no one in sight. It wasn’t until she looked up, however, that her eyes came across the speaker in question.The woman was sitting on top of the maze wall at the end of the path. Her hair was brown and around medium length. She was dressed in a white collar shirt with black slacks and shoes, which gave Achan the impression that she may have been a professional of some sort of occupation. What unnerved Achan the most however was that she gave off an ethereal glow. She didn’t seem quite human in the way the light radiated from her. The young woman adjusted the glasses on her face before hopping down from her perch.
        “Who the hell are you?” Quizzed Achan as the woman slowly approached her.
        “I’m the one who should be asking you that, silly.” The woman shrugged. “Then again, I wouldn’t have to ask you that necessarily, since I know who you are already. But it seems polite.”
Achan looked skeptical for a moment. “You know who I am? And just how do you know that?”
        The woman stopped and smiled. “I know because Joe told me. He knows everything about everyone here.”
        “Joe? You mean… the computer?”
        “Yup! He me told everything there is to know about you. You’re Achan Heptadelta, an ex agent of 4kids who first appeared during the ‘Dystopic Blades’ incident. You were captured along with your companion, Akan Octa, who is also a former agent. Your height, weight, measurements are exactly-”
        “Alright! I get it already!” Achan yelled, cutting the woman off mid sentence. Had she kept going, the proud fighter would’ve ended up losing her composure. “So you know who I am. Great. Good for you. But you still haven’t explained  who you are and why you’re here in the first place.”
        “You’re rude, but to be fair it’s rude of me not to introduce myself as well.” The woman cleared her throat before speaking again. “To answer your questions, my name is AnimeDoodler. And before you ask, no, I am not the actual Doodler. Just a defense program created by Uncle Joe to deal with any unidentified intruders. Think of me as a guardian if that helps. Although, as the actual intruder here, I think it is rude of you to ask my reason for being here.”
        “Defense program huh? Didn’t know data could have a personality.”
        Data Doodler raised a finger. “We’re based off our original’s data during their time in the city. So physical traits, personality, powers, status, etc., are all copied” She raised another finger. “Fun fact: We’re also randomly generated, and unfortunately for you, Joe generated the worst possible raider for you to deal with.”
Achan instinctively assumed a defensive stance. “And is that supposed to make me scared? What makes you so special?”
        Data Doodler waved her hand and before her a giant pencil pixelated into shape. She grabbed it and pointed the lead tip at Achan. “Two reasons: One, you cannot defeat me because I can only be disabled by Joe himself. So, good luck with that. And two, like I said, I am based off my original counterpart’s data at the time of their presence, and before Doodler left she was a moderator sooooo…”
        Data Doodler spun her weapon with a twirl and readied an attack stance. “You’re gonna have a bad day with me, sweetheart.”

        Akan was tense.
        On the elevator trip down, Lego had kept his blade snuggled against her throat. Even while inebriated, Lego made sure that she wouldn’t able to slip away. He was ready to make her pay should she try anything funny. Akan wanted to move, but didn’t risk it. All she could do was gulp down nervous globs of saliva and hope for some sort of miracle.
        The elevator stopped and the doors flung open. The two stepped out, Lego had been right behind Akan, prodding her forward with ungentle jabs. She walked uncomfortably. Being pushed around was certainly pissing her off, but all Akan could afford was groans and balled fists. She thought of Achan, wondering if she was still making any progress without her help. Lego had already confiscated her gadgets and discarded them, so any hope of contacting her was obsolete.
        They made it to the entrance of the maze and Lego whistled after seeing it close up. He had known about the maze from what the Administrators had told him, but he had never found occasion to visit the space. It was far larger than he had imagined it to be. Lego burped. “Pretty big maze…”
Akan rolled her eyes. “You’ve been a mod for how long and this is your first time seeing it?”
Lego wrapped his arm tightly around Akan’s neck, teasing a choke. “You’re not getting smart with me are you?”
        “N-no.” Akan said as she struggled to breathe.
         Lego released his grip and Akan gasped for air with a cough. “Good.” he said.
        Lego pushed Akan on and they stepped past the starting point. Lego looked around with a few head turns and already seemed visibly confused. “So uh, where is she?”
        “Uh, how I am supposed to know that, dofus? She could be anywhere in this stupid maze.”
        “Can’t you contact her or something?”
        “You took away my phone, remember?”
        Lego burped. A look of dumbfoundedness had struck him. “Right…”
        Akan groaned. Her only thoughts were of Achan, and the quickest possible ways of getting to her while ditching the cat in the process. The layout of the maze was still fresh in her mind’s eye. Akan could possibly lead Lego to her by memory, if given the chance. The only problem with that, of course, was that her memory was limited. With the design of the maze being how it was, that could take an eternity. Then again, there was also the alternative…
        “The walls…”
        Lego raised a brow. “What about ‘em?”
        “They’re RNG. If you pass through one, you’ll end up in another part of the maze. If you want to find Achan, going through the walls will be our fastest option.”
        “You lie…”
        Akan turned her head around and smirked at the cat. “I can go first and show you if you don’t believe me.”
        Lego glared at Akan with suspicious eyes. He shook his head. “We’ll both go. Wouldn't want you running off on your own.”
        Akan shrugged. “Fine with me.”
        The two stepped forward and stopped in front of the maze wall. Lego was a bit hesitant. After all, his knowledge of the maze was rather limited, and there was no way of knowing if Akan was telling the truth. Akan on the other hand, crossed her fingers. The chances of actually running into Achan were one in a million. And even if they did, there was still Lego to deal with. Akan hoped that by the time they ran into her, she would have a plan in line to lose Lego and make it to Uncle Joe in one piece.
        With Akan in tow, Lego pressed one hand against the wall and pushed. The wall gave way and turned. Soon enough they found themselves on the other side. It was in that very same moment, however, that Lego was knocked on his back by a giant pencil smacking him on the forehead. Surprised, Akan turned from the reeling Lego and looked in front. Before her was Achan squaring up with a woman she couldn’t recognize. “Achan?!”
        Achan snapped around. “Akan!”
        Doodler was confused. “Akan? She’s here too?”
        Lego eyes shot wide as he got up. “Doodler?!”
        “Lego?!”
        “Cat!” Hissed Achan at Lego.
        “Witch!” He shot back.
        Seconds passed and for a moment there was no movement between the four individuals. It was then that    Akan made the first move with a sprint to Achan. Lego played the spoiler however, and grabbed ahold of her arm before she could take off. Akan cursed as she struggled to break free from Lego’s grasp. “Let go of me you smelly fur-ball!”
        Even as she kicked Lego held tight. “Never!”
        Achan turned away from Doodler. “Akan!” she called out. “Don’t worry I’m--”
        “You’re not going anywhere!” Doodler said, cutting her off. She charged pencil lead first at Achan and went for a stab. She thought she had caught Achan off guard, but she didn’t take the agent’s reflexes into account. Achan sidestepped the stab and tripped Doodler. As Doodler fell over, Achan grabbed ahold of her arm and pulled Doodler over her shoulder for a judo-like throw. With a shove Doodler was launched. Her target: Lego.
        Unfortunately for the drunken cat, he was too occupied with Akan to notice the incoming data clone in time. Before he could dodge, Doodler slammed spine first against his face, and the two were sent tumbling through the revolving RNG door behind them. The maze wall completed it’s rotation, and with that, the two agents were finally together and alone. For now at least. They looked at one another. Achan spoke first. “You okay? He didn’t hurt you, did he?”
        Akan shrugged. “The only painful thing I endured from him was his terrible breath. Other than that, I’m fine.”
        “Fair enough. Let’s hurry up and find Uncle Joe then. You still have that phone, right?”
        Akan shook her head. “Negative. The cat confiscated it on our way down. We’re gonna have to wing it from here on out.”
        Achan spit, slightly annoyed. “Great. And just how we’re gonna go through this whole thing without a reference?”
        “With luck, remember? The walls are our only chance of reaching Joe before they catch up to us. We’ll just barge through as many walls as possible until we land on the exit.”
Achan still seemed bothered the idea, but it was better than solving the maze the old fashioned way. “Fine.” she said. “Whatever works, I guess. But we need to get going now before those thieves show up again.”
        Akan nodded. “Agreed. I would hate to have to smell that cat’s breath again.”
        And with that, the two agents charged to a wall on their right and pushed onward.

        On the other side of the maze, Lego and Data Doodler had finally recovered from their collison and gotten to their feet. Lego, being a little buzzed still, was having difficulty figuring out if the woman before him was actually his long lost compadre, or just a mere clone of the girl he’d known. He felt a bit awkward about it, almost to the point of being unable to speak due to nervousness. Lego spoke regardless, with a hint of hope in his voice, of course. “So uh, how you’ve been Doodles? Long time no see, am I right?”
        “Hate to break it to ya sweetie, but I’m not the real Doodler.” she responded with a tone that sounded almost cold to Lego’s ears.
        Lego sunk his head in disappointment. “Kinda figured that. Gah, at least a guy can dream I guess.”
        “I’m sure you’ll see her again, so don’t feel so down. But now isn’t the time for that. We have to find those two troublemakers before they get to Joe.”
        Lego’s face stiffened. He was serious again. “What do you think they’re up to exactly?”
“I’m not entirely sure to be honest, but if I had to take a guess, they’re probably trying to hack into the city’s registry network. What they do from there is beyond me, and quite honestly, I’m not gonna wait to find out.”
        “I can agree with that.” Lego said with a nod. “But how are we going to catch them? It will take ages to reach them in this place.”
        “Not if we use the walls.” Doodler said with a smirk.
        “Huh? But aren’t those things random? Can really rely on them?”
        “Of course we can! We just have to make some adjustments to them first. Watch.” Data Doodler stuck out her arm and directed it to a maze wall in front of them. Her hand glowed with a golden shine, and the wall in front of them reciprocated that same glow. The glow remained for a second, and after it finished, Doodler snatched Lego’s hand. “Lets go!” she said, and headed past the maze wall with Lego following behind her.

        Achan and Akan weren’t having the best of luck in the meantime. They had ended up on multiple sides of the maze, and even ended up back at the entrance a few times. While their route was still leagues better than manually traveling the maze, at this rate they were bound to run into Lego and Data Doodler sooner or later, and that would pose a major problem. The pair doubted the same trick would work twice.
        As they jolted down a path towards another wall, they stopped upon noticing that one of the walls on their left shown strangely with golden light. Achan turned towards her partner after studying the phenomenon briefly. “What do you think? Could it be a sign from Uncle Joe?”
Akan placed a hand under her chin. She looked rather uncertain. “I’m not too sure if it can be trusted. Could be a trap for all we know.”
        “Then let’s keep mov--”
        Before she could finish the maze wall spun, and from the other side emerged Lego and Doodler storming towards the agents at full speed. Doodler pounced on Achan and slammed her down to the floor. Lego had attempted the same with Akan, but the nimble agent rolled out of harm’s way. As Lego was getting to his feet, Akan looked towards Achan for some sort of help. Unfortunately, Achan’s hands were tied, or more accurately, pinned to the ground. Even as she struggled Doodler wasn’t giving her much wiggle room.
As she was dodging punches from Doodler, Achan called out to Akan. “Go!” she screamed. “I’ll catch up with you later!”
        Akan froze upon hearing her partner’s request, but instinct took over as she swayed left when Lego pounced for her once again. “But--”
        Achan trapped Doodle’s swing in between her underarm before yelling back. “Just go already!”
Not another word was spoken. Akan ran for the nearest wall available and desperately pushed her way through. Lego followed suit, but stopped for a second to look at Doodle for some sort of confirmation. Even as she tousled with Achan on the floor, Doodle obliged. She lifted up a free arm and pointed at the wall Akan passed through. Her hand and the wall glowed simultaneously, and once the glowing ceased, Lego headed through.
        Taking advantage of the brief distraction, Achan raised her knees up to her chest and pushed Doodler off with a kick. Doodler flew and landed against a wall, but minimized the impact by planting her feet against its surface at the last second. Achan rose to her full height and wiped her mouth with her arm. Gasping for air, Achan said. “So you’re the reason why that wall glowed earlier.”
        Doodler dropped down from the maze wall with a grin. “Thanks to Joe, I have complete control of every single wall in this maze. I can dictate which side of the maze a wall transports you to, and what’s more, I can control them all from up here.” Doodler said, pointing to her brain. She waved her hand and her giant pencil materialized before her. She grabbed it and lowered her stance. “I don’t know what you two devils are planning, but as long as I’m here you won’t succeed.”
        Achan dashed forward. “We’ll just see about that!”

        The game of cat and mouse between Akan and Lego wasn’t boding well for the agent. While she could certainly hold her own in a fist fight, a one-on-one with a super alien cat moderator didn’t exactly sound ideal. Running was her only viable option. Problem was, Uncle Joe, the universe, and mysterious cosmic forces all felt like they were conspiring against Akan.
        No matter how hard she tried to throw the cat off her trail, Lego was always right behind her with his sword in tow. The RNG factor of the maze walls no longer seemed to matter, for Lego was either popping up from behind walls she passed through, or appearing from another wall in the vicinity. “Doodler…” she said in her head. “She must be controlling these walls somehow.”
        Suddenly in the midst of thinking, the sound of lightning cackled behind her. She turned her head slightly, and saw a lighting bolt already zooming her way. Akan ducked down and rolled out of the bolt’s way. As she got up, Lego was already in front of Akan with his katana swinging for her head. She ducked down and crawled behind Lego through his legs. The moment Akan got back up on her feet, she barged shoulder first through a wall on her right and kept her feet peddling. As she disappeared, the wall behind her glowed, and Lego passed through once it stopped.
        Even though she had lost Lego for a second, Akan knew he would back immediately. If her theory was correct, Doodler had programmed the walls to track her movements, and then use that data to direct Lego to whatever location the targeted wall sent her to. However, from what Akan had seen so far, only one wall could be altered at a time. It meant she could still throw her enemy off if her movements were quick enough and unpredictable to boot. She decided to put that theory to the test by rushing through a wall up ahead on her right. The moment she passed through, Akan immediately turned right back around and passed through it again. As she vanished on one side, Lego emerged from the opposite side of the rotating wall. He looked confused. He expected to find Akan scurrying away from him, but as he looked down the path he found no trace of her.
        “I lost her?!” he shifted his attention to the wall behind him. “But Doodler said as long as I pass through one of those glowing walls I should be able stay on her trail. Gah, what’s going on  here?”
        It was then that Lego heard the pinging sound of a wall glowing nearby. He snapped around and saw a wall shining in front of him. He almost ran for it immediately, but paused upon noticing that another wall at a dead end was glowing as well. Before he knew it multiple walls surrounding him had been glowing on and off in very short intervals. Lego shook his head. “What the hell…?”

        Back on Doodler’s side, Akan’s erratic movements were throwing the data clone’s head for a spin as well. While she could easily link the coordinates between two walls, constantly adjusting them to keep track of Akan’s position was definitely tricky. And an arm flailing Achan wasn’t making her job any easier.
        As Achan closed in for a roundhouse kick, Doodle ducked and weaved. As she rose back up she swung her pencil up with Achan’s face in mind. Achan jumped to side in time, however, and launched herself back at the clone. Data Doodler lowered herself down and swept Achan by her feet. Achan fell, and Doodler went to close the deal with an impaling stab. Before the pencil could connect, Achan rolled to her left and bounced back up to her feet. Doodler did the same, and a moment later the two combatants were engaged in an intense staredown.
Achan could only help but to chance a glance at Doodler’s ever glowing arm. If that arm of hers was responsible for the RNG probability integrated into every maze wall, then she would have to figure out how to throw clone’s focus off somehow. She didn’t have too many ideas on hand, nor did she have much time either. For all she knew the administrators could swoop in at any second and put a stop to their plans in a heartbeat.
        And then, the air shifted.
        “...?”
        Data Doodle’s face scrunched up. Her face revealed worry. And it was for good reason.


        In another part of the gigantic structure, Akan made it.
        “That’s… it!”
        Thanks to some strategic decision making and unfathomable luck, Akan had finally arrived at the exit. A short single path lead to Uncle Joe’s main interface. Supercomputers upon supercomputers, all accompanied by blue-lit monitors with various codes running across the screens. Surrounded by these smaller monitors was one humongous monitor with a blank blue screen. This monitor was the main one, and Akan nearly froze in awe from the sight of it.
        She ran for it. Her chance was now, and Akan refused to waste it.

        On Lego’s end, he had almost given up hope finding his target.
        For a moment the glowing walls that kept him on the right path were no longer functioning. The RNG had completely kicked back in, which lead him back to square one: A wild goose chase with no goose in sight.
         “Dammit!” he cursed. His sudden unluckiness may have been tied to an unfortunate mishap on Doodler’s end, he posited. If Lego’s hunch was correct, then his luck may have indeed run out.
        It was only then that a maze wall in front of him glowed. Lego managed to grab back on to that last shred of hope. Without a second thought, he charged his way through.

        Data Doodler was on tilt for just a second. “How did Akan reach Uncle Joe?” she pondered desperately in her head. She was sure that she set the coordinates of every single wall to not lead to Uncle Joe. Where did she go wrong? She had been sloppy.
        In that same second Achan noticed Doodler’s uneasiness, and that was all the time she needed to capitalize.
Achan jolted forward, leaving Doodler little time to react. Achan shot a kick towards Doodle’s side. Doodler lowered her pencil and blocked the strike in time. Achan didn’t let up though. She could tell from Doodler’s worried expressions that something was keeping her off focus, and that something may be related to Akan. She jabbed, decking Doodler in the mouth. Doodler stumbled, but bounced back with a roundhouse kick. The blow connected. Achan fell over, and Doodler used that moment to get away. Her arm glowed and she directed it to a wall behind her. She started to run, but stopped upon feeling something tugging her by her leg. She turned her head and found Achan using her leg as support to rise to her feet.
        “Where do you think you’re going?!”
        As she pulled herself up on the Doodler’s leg, Achan drove a devastating fist to the side of Doodle’s head. Doodle was dazed. Her eyes dilated. For a moment the space around her seemed to glitch in and out of her consciousness. She collapsed onto the ground, and in her momentary fading vision, she caught a glimpse of her enemy slipping past the maze wall she herself was targeting.
        The wall that lead to Uncle Joe.
        “Crap!”
        Doodler quickly rose back up and made an attempt to move, but for some reason her body was slowly ceasing to function. One by one one her limbs began to glitch out of view. She twitched and squirmed, making every attempt to resist her pending fate, but it was of no use. Doodler didn’t want to accept it, but she knew-- Akan had successfully infiltrated Uncle Joe’s mainframe and shut down all of its security programs-- her included.
        “I’m sorry Lego, I failed you, and MR…”
        With her last fleeting words, the data clone faded away into bits of scattered code

        Akan was crunching numbers on the keyboard at lightspeed.
        With over a hundred thousand soldiers to register she had to work fast. Luckily, her hacking experience made breaking though Uncle Joe’s main security programs a breeze. Clearly, Hasith had never expected anyone to ever get this far. But first things first. Joe could only do so much. Narcissus had supplied her with an order of operations that would do the most harm in the least amount of time. First came what she knew the machine was capable off. Next would come what they could only hope Joe could achieve. At the rate she was going, overtaking the primary  system would take no less than ten full minutes.
        If you tossed a raging alien cat to the equation however, then you could probably add an extra five minutes to that estimate.
        A blade was closing in behind her. Akan could feel her death incoming. Instinctively, she rolled to the left, leaving the blade to clash with technology. Sparks flew everywhere in the aftermath. Akan got up, and her eyes nearly went sore from once again seeing Lego’s ugly face. “Will you get over yourself already?!”
        “Just what the hell are you trying to do?!” Lego swung his blade aimlessly out of frustration. “And tell me the truth, dammit!”
        “It’s none of your business, smelly!”
        “This is exactly my business you dumb b*tch!”
        As they bickered, the sound of footsteps appeared at the edges of their awareness. As they grew louder, both turned to see who was approaching. To Akan’s joy and Lego’s frustration, Achan emerged. Alone.
        “Ach-”
        Lego cut Akan off and spoke with rage bubbling in his throat. “Achan! Where is Doodler?!”
        Achan shrugged. “You mean that half-baked copy?” she smirked. “Probably out of commission by now.”
       “Fiend!” Lego shouted. He gritted his teeth and shot towards Achan in a blind fury.
        Achan embraced the raging cat with a kick to his stomach. The kick connected, but Lego was unfazed. He swung away, almost mindlessly, which made dodging nearly impossible for Achan. But she was sober, and he was enraged. In the midst of dodging Lego’s flurry, she called to her sister in arms.  “I’ll keep him distracted while you finish things on your end!
        Akan nodded. “Right!” She ran back to the main monitor and started back to work. As she typed away, images and codes rapidly flashed across the screen. Behind her was mayhem. The sounds of traded blows and cackling lightning perturbed her ears, but she paid them no worry. Her eyes were dead set on the mission in front of her. Distractions could not be afforded. Not after getting this close to accomplishing their goal.
        In the meantime Lego was giving Achan hell. She had thought after years of training in secret that she could match Lego in one on one combat, but this Lego was different. No amount of training could subdue the combination of anger and liquor settling in his system. Then again, Lego’s anger was of Achan’s advantage, and Lego was too busy flailing his sword to notice.
        Slowly but surely, Achan danced Lego around all the way back to the maze exit. She baited him with mocking taunts, and Lego bit. Ducking another swing, she ran down the path with Lego in hot pursuit. When Achan reached the wall on the far end, she stopped and turned. Sure enough, the moderator was right behind her. Lego thrusted his sword forward, but Achan flipped over him before he could connect.
        From there it was checkmate.
        "You lose, cat!”
        Lego heard Achan’s snarky remark and turned. “What are-!”
        Too late.
        Before Lego could react, he was met with a mouthful of boot. The power behind it was strong enough to fling him past the wall behind him. He landed with a smack, and the wall turned all the way around. Lego was nowhere to be seen. Wherever in the mazed he had ended up, there was not chance of him returning in time.
        Achan sighed in relief and made her way back to Akan. With the Lego finally out of the way, everything else should go as planned.
        But as she soon realized, things never go exactly as planned when dealing with a raider.
        Upon making her way back to her compatriot, Achan had expected her to be finishing up with Joe. But that wasn’t case. Akan’s hands were not mashing away on the keyboard. They were caught in a firm grip by the hand of Hasith, who did not seem to pleased with Akan.
        Noticing Achan’s presence, Hasith swung Akan around in front by her wrist and spoke. “Achan… I figured you would be here as well.”
        “Hasith, when did you get here?! Let go of Akan!”
        “Be quiet. I’m making sure you two knuckleheads don’t disrupt my city. And as for your request, that is going to be a ‘no’.”
        As he said that, the maze trembled.
        “Hmm?”
        Following that was a rumbling from up above.
        “What in the world…?”
        Little did Hasith know, his arrival was a tad too late.












Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Coryn on February 10, 2019, 09:46:12 PM
Sorry y'all, no chapter this week. I promise it will be out next Sunday. It's just that this one was a doozy, and I have just not had the time to sit down and edit this weekend. So once again, my apologies for the delay, but look on the bright side, y'all now have plenty of time to catch up if maybe you've fallen behind a chapter or two  ;)
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Coryn on February 17, 2019, 10:47:03 PM
The longer awaited Chapter 5 arrives! As you can tell, this one truly is a beast. (Such a beast in fact that it comes in two parts! Don't miss the second post below!)

You can thank Mahlua for doing the heavy lifting throughout most of it, although this one really was a joint effort among all of us. Please enjoy!


CHAPTER 5: SHRAPNEL OF WAR: Part 1
CHAPTER 5: SHRAPNEL OF WAR

Hasith glared at the two little demons before him, and the glowing matrix of Uncle Joe. Everything in him tensed to attack, but it would do little good now. Soon enough, the green lights flickered to yellow, then amber, and finally to red as the systems overloaded.
   “What have you done?” He asked. The air felt off.
   “You’re done for, old man,” Akan said. Achan finished for her. “With this, we have the whole army flooding in as we speak. And, as a final measure.” She keyed the 'Enter’ button and gestured to Hasith. “Exit, pursued by the righteous.”
   Hasith felt like water rising up from his toes towards his waist, but as he looked down, Hasith saw something much more terrifying. The administrator's body was disappearing.
   “But, how?” He grunted while struggling to lunge forward.
   “You admins are annoying. Buh-bye!” Achan said, grinning too widely for her face. With a snap of her finger, Hasith dissipated into data, banned from the system.
   “Great timing,” Akan said, giving a sarcastic slow clap. “Very dramatic.”
   “Thank you.”

https://youtu.be/jGvYaMIXuxU

   The air in MangaRaiders began to stir. Static electricity built up and began discharging haphazardly. The system was not designed to handle the numbers is was about to see. 4Kids’ invasion was coming in at full force, and MR was doing all it could to welcome them with open arms. The bringers of war had arrived.
   They came in waves.
   Ammunition, anti-aircraft guns, assault rifles, armoured vehicles, auto-cannons!
   Ballistic missiles, bayonets, bazookas, biological weapons, blades, body armor, bombs, bullets!
   Cannons, carbines, clubs, communication officers, cutlasses!
   Daggers, depth charges, dynamite!
   Elite guards, expeditionary forces, explosives!
   Field medics, firearms, flails, flamethrowers!
   Gatling guns, grenades, grenade launchers, guided missiles, gun powder!
   Halftracks, hardened barriers, heat seeking weapons, helicopters, high altitude surveillance!
   Identification cards, ignition systems, implosion devices, infantry, infirmaries!
   Jamming devices, jet packs, jet propelled rockets, jump jets!
   Kalashnikovs, key documents, knives!
   Lances, landing craft, landmines, lieutenants!
   Mace, machetes, machine guns, magnums, missiles, mortars, munitions!
   Nerve gas, night vision goggles, nuclear reactors!
   Officers, official stationary, ordnance depots, oxygen tanks!
   Paratroopers, pepper spray, pickaxes, pikes, pistols, poison!
   Quadrant maps, quartermasters, quarterstaffs!
   Rapiers, revolvers, rifles, rocket launchers!
   Sabers, semi-automatics, shells, shotguns, snipers, special forces, stun rods, submachine guns, switchblades!
   Tanks, tasers, tear gas, torpedos, tripwires, truncheons!
   Ultraviolet cameras, uniforms, underground sonar, underwater explosives, uzis!
   Valuables, variant soldiers, vehicles!
   Warheads, watercraft, weapons grade elements, whips!
   Xenological pathogens, XO's, X-ray goggles!
   Yearning warriors, yield estimators, yowling hoards!
   Zealots, zeppelins, zone defenses!
   150,000 fighting men and women descended upon the city. MangaRaiders was completely overrun, and it had taken less than two minutes.
   One zealot in particular stepped up to a microphone. Narcissus was rapidly descending towards the ground in his airdropped transport. He would be commanding the troops on the ground, while the General kept watch above. The major had requested permission to address the troops, and he had received it. Soon they would be encased in the noises of war. Now was the time. Narcissus's address reached the ears of every 4Kids soldier.
   “Warriors of 4Kids, a great day is upon us! Today, this city of sin and debauchery, which has tread upon our righteous path for years, will have marred our vision for the last time! My good people, we have fought long and hard for this day! We have forged through a hundred adversaries, and we shall conquer a hundred more! But this day, this day we bring war to MangaRaiders! Let loose your blades! Let fly your bullets! Bring war to MangaRaiders, like nothing they have ever seen! ALL HAIL 4KIDS!”
   The first salvos were fired as the broadcast finished. MangaRaiders, was now the house of war.

   MR City’s central park exploded with the sudden weight of an entire 4kids’ battalion. They appeared with such numbers that they expanded past the park, and many soldiers piled into the streets and on rooftops, all at attention and ready for the order to march from their respective commanders.
   Such a vast addition did not go unnoticed, of course. Word travelled quickly of the near sonic boom of jackboots hitting the dirt, and many combat seasoned raiders converged for battle in this new arena.
   Manimal was not one such raider, per se. He had simply been lounging around the park, strumming his guitar and coming up with his next great hit to fling onto the radio waves. The sudden burst of people around him painted a smile on his face. He wasn't sure what was going on, but he couldn't waste an audience. Thankfully, His guitar was already plugged into a portable amp. All he had to do was turn it up.
   The sudden interference caused the surrounding portion of the army to flinch from the screech in their earsets.
   “You guys look like trouble,” Manimal said, still sporting a goofy grin. He rested his fingers on the fret and strummed a simple chord. “But, let’s see if you can handle my treble!”
   In an instant, his fingers flew over the strings, strumming like a madman. Between the interference with their radio systems and Manimal's ability to jam, the raider rendered all soldiers within earshot all but useless. Some of them even began to headbang or pogo jump against their will.
   “Yeah!” Manimal sang out. “Guess who’s the Master of Puppets now!?”
   One of the nearest 4Kids commanders grit his teeth. He punched a few numbers on his radio. “Mayday, this is Sergeant Jefferson from ground squad 33! Our forces are under attack! We landed near a hero raider. It’s ‘The Manimal’. Send reinforcements!”
   From a nearby rooftop, a small squad received the mayday.
   “Copy sergeant! This is weapons squad 12! Sending assistance!” replied its commander. He turned to one of his soldiers. “Prep the RPG. Aim for the raider’s amplifier.”
   “Roger!” The soldier gave a quick salute as he set about his task. He kneeled and pieced together his weapon. Within moments, he was ready.
   “FIRE!”
   Of course, Manimal saw the smoke of the grenade approaching, but knew he wouldn't have time to save everything. “Frick!” he muttered. Manimal yanked his guitar free of the amplifier and leapt aside, toppling over some of his dancing puppets. The amplifier and the bench he had been sitting on were blasted to dust and powder by the explosion.
   “Hey, man! That equipment cost a lot of money!” The raider yelled, shaking his fist in the direction of the artillery emplacement. Around him, the soldiers shook their heads as if to free themselves from the last bit of ringing in their ears. Manimal looked around, and the weight of his situation dawned on him. He was surrounded. A sweatdrop formed on his forehead and dripped onto his ax. “Uh oh…”

   Coryn and Lego had not been made moderators because they could fight. They could, of course. The ability to battle MangaRaiders’ foes was indeed a prerequisite, but that was not why they were selected for duty.
   Lego and Coryn were moderators because they were kind. Because they loved, truly loved, those they called family. Because they could tell right from wrong. Because they could be relied on to do the right thing even when it hurt. Even when it felt wrong at the time.
   But while many met those requirements, there was one more that truly determined whether or not one could be called to serve.
   People were not chosen because they could kill.
   You were chosen because if you had to, you would.

   Sirens went off as soon as 4Kids hit the ground. Warnings went out on automated systems to phones and communicators. Lego heard them, even deep in the maze.
   There was no more time left to deal with the hackers.
   Lego was still lost, but that wasn't going to be a problem for much longer. He pulled a small device from his pocket and wedged it into his ear. Lego flicked the small switch on its surface, and spoke to anyone who could listen. “All raiders in proximity to MR Tower. Moderator is en route. Get out of the way.”
   Frantic responses came in over the comms, but he only listened close enough to know that no one was about to get killed. Lego closed his eyes, and went deep. The powers of a moderator were great, but they exacted a toll. Not just physical, but psychological. If you didn't prepare yourself, it became easy for innocents to get caught in the crossfire.
   Lego opened his eyes. “Move!”
   A flash of light, and Lego was out of the maze. A flash of light, and Lego was in the sky above the city.
Below him, MR was already burning.
   Lego could see long columns of troops pushing their way through the city streets. The late afternoon sun highlighted it all in sharp relief. Armoured vehicles crashed through buildings, troops advanced along the roads, jets roared over head. Occasionally there were signs of resistance, but... Lego had taken it all in with a glance. They were outgunned and outmanned. An unstoppable force was upon them. It was going to be a dark day for MR, no matter how this battle went.
   At least, Lego thought, he could make it a little bit brighter.
   The tattoos on his arms began to snake. The femtomachines which comprised them began to fill up his hand. First a hilt, then a blade, and then a point. He had opted for a dai-katana. And as gravity took hold, Lego raised it above his head. “Get out…!” The air around him became charged as he fell. Long strands of blue plasma were drawn out of the atmosphere, and attached themselves to his blade. Lego's sword became a pillar of crackling lighting, and as he neared the ground, he aimed for the nearest group of soldiers he could find.
   They hadn't noticed him until far too late.
   “OF MY CITY!” Howled Lego as he hit the plaza outside of MR Tower. Where once there was a pillar of lightning, there was now an explosion of charged particles. Where once there was a 4Kids squad, there was only ash.
   Now Lego had their full attention.
   4Kids surged, and Lego met them with an open palm. “Remove!” The rushing men froze in their tracks, long before they ever reached their target. Lego squeezed his hand into a fist, and then, the soldiers began to move backwards. Faces twisted in agony as the men watched themselves reenact their own movements in reverse, as they watched their very histories be erased. While it was excruciating to live through, Lego knew it would not kill them. He wished that it could wipe away their very existence, but he could only take them back so far. Especially when it was so many people at once. Still, it would have to do. He needed space. He needed time.
   Lego’s palms hit the paving stones. “Move!” Before him, and then spreading out in a complete encirclement of MR Tower, grew a wall. The concrete and stone of the outer plaza was subsumed, and fed into the rising fortification. In short order, he had a fifty foot wall a yard thick, and 4Kids had a ditch to conquer before they could even think about mounting an attack on the barricade itself.
   At least, the ground troops did. The air cavalry wouldn’t have that problem.
   Lego could already see the helicopters incoming from within his fortress. With his free hand, he poured his machines into the ground. They worked their way up and through the wall, and from there sprouted jagged metal spikes.
   The moderator directed his dai-katana like a conductor’s baton. Lighting shot from the pointed protrusions. Helicopters burst into flame and dropped from the sky like flies. For each one destroyed however, two more seemed to takes its place. As hard as Lego was pushing the enemy, they were without a doubt closing in on him.
   One of the flyers finally broke through his line. Lego sighted it just as a soldier fired a grenade launcher out of the open side door. Two canisters hurtled towards the air at Lego, and he was too slow to stop them. Just as they impacted, Lego dropped down to shield himself from the blast. But instead of the fire and shrapnel that Lego expected, all he was met with was a burst of thick, black dust. The dust filled the air, and hung suspended. It darkened the sky above him, but Lego could still see the helicopter that had launched the weapon. “Missed me!”
   Lego stabbed forward with his sword, full of intent to send a bolt of lighting through the flying machine. He only managed to shoot a few arcs of plasma less than a foot before the energy had completely dissipated. The moderator recoiled as he realized the effect the black dust was having on his lighting. But he had no time to ponder it. Through the cloud he could hear boots hitting the ground as soldiers repelled down. Whatever came next. Lego would have to deal with it through muscle and steel alone.

   Narcissus had set up his command post in the Artists District. The spot was farther from the city center than it was close to it, but at this distance the buildings were low enough that he could take in the whole of the combat theater with the naked eye.
   The whole operation was set up on an elevated platform which traveled on a massive pair of tank treads. Computer stations were set up in the open air, and Narcissus conducted the war from a holographic table at the center of it all. Elite troops ringed the station on all sides. They moved in careful step with the mobile command center, such that it was never without protection.
   In this moment however, Narcissus paid the goings on around him no heed. His attentions were completely given over to the glowing map before him, and the radio in his ear, which had just connected to its target. “Agent Akan, this is Major Narcissus. Would you kindly explain to me why I am receiving reports of moderator powers being used in the vicinity MR Tower.” He was not yelling, but he put so much venom into his speech that he could hear Akan shiver on the other end of the line.
   “Sir, Joe was only designed to control registrations. I can only revoke moderator powers by using him as a backdoor. It already overtaxed the system to register the chorus and flag the administrators as threats. So it's taking longer than expected to deal with the mods.”
   Narcissus was about to scold her, but something else caught his eye. The command station was facing a long thoroughfare, and the major had been using it to peer deep into the city. It had been bare since the combat had started. Now, however, Narcissus could see a lone figure approaching his platform.
   A lone figure in a long white coat.
   Narcissus said. “I suggest you hurry along then.” Before cutting the connection to Akan, and turning to the technicians around him. “Where is Sken’s search and destroy squad relative to our position?”
   “Fifteen minutes northeast sir!” Shouted a woman.
   “Hmm…” Pondered Narcissus. “Too far out.” He reached down to the table’s controls, and input a very specific code into the console. “In the meantime, Captain.” Narcissus returned to his full height, and addressed an officer at the other end of the table. “Lead your troops against Sken, will you. I expect you to hold out until reinforcements arrive.
   The captain snapped a salute. “Sir! Yes Sir!”
   The lower ranking officer leapt from the command station, gathered the men around it, and charged their opponent. Meanwhile, Narcissus strolled up to the front railing to take in the carnage.
   
   Coryn had been progressing at a steady rate ever since he had emerged from the Science Division to find his city being invaded. The bulk of the fighting was taking place downtown, but he had found few commanders. And so he asked the question: ‘If I were 4Kids leadership, where would I be?’.
   He had found his answer, and his answer had found him. Which explained the onrushing troops.
   The soldiers formed orderly rows as they advanced, forming a tight line across the road. Men in front fired rifles as and machine guns, only to fall back through the lines to allow those behind to fire another volley. Before the bullets could reach him, Coryn formed a shield bubble around his body. The hunks of lead smashed into and deformed against the translucent energy field, only to fall harmlessly to the ground. Coryn allowed each row to fire before his started his counter attack.
   It was the only way to be fair.
   The shield bubble shrunk. The shield bubble sank. Coryn leapt onto its surface, and barreled into the oncoming troops with a war cry.
   Some he launched into walls with well placed shield orbs. Others he sent flying across the skyline by hand with moderator enhanced strength. Still others he simply crushed beneath the bubble that he rode.
   Before Coryn could decimate the men, buildings on his left and right exploded as a massive pair of armored tanks charged through them. The one on Coryn’s right was quicker, and launched a shell before he could get out of the way. Coryn flipped in the air, and absorbed the blast with his shield, but it caused the energy bubble to burst, and the moderator was sent to the ground. He raised his head just in time to see the second tank preparing to fire a round at point blank range. But its gunner never got the chance. Coryn raised a hand to the machine of war. “Split!”
   A white hot line sliced through the tank’s center. A second after that the machine exploded, sending two equal halves flying across the street. Coryn righted himself completely, and caught the second tank in a shield bubble of its own. Coryn lifted them into the air with a jolt. The turret swung wildly as the men inside were thrown out of their seats . Inside the tank the pilots experienced utter confusion, but they would not be confused for long. Coryn clenched his fist, and collapsed the shield
   Metal shrieked as the tank folded in upon itself. Those inside were crushed in an instant, and if that hadn’t killed them, they perished a second later as the weapon of war exploded.
   By now the original soldiers Coryn was engaged with had regained their momentum, and were advancing once again. Instead of letting them, Coryn slapped his palms together. “Merge!”

   From’s Narcissus’s point of view, Coryn disappeared almost instantly. After that however, he had a front row view as the buildings on both sides of the street rushed forward and slammed together in the center of the road with an ear splitting boom. It was like watching a zipper, except at the end of it, Narcissus would have to think about what happened to the troops which had been in the street before the two sides had become one.
   The buildings continued merging until the pavement ended and the park began. And then for a moment, all was silent.
   Breaking that silence, was the sight of of Coryn leaping over the newly formed city block, only to land on a fresh shield orb some twenty feet in the air. “I will now accept your surrender!”
   With the soldiers gone, the technicians operating the control center needed no further prompting to cut and run. Narcissus however, stood at ease while all behind him ran off into the twilight. Instead of cowering, he couldn’t help but grin. “Coryn Sken! A pleasure to make your acquaintance! I am Major Narcissus of the Lost Chorus! I trust that you have found killing my men enjoyable?”
   He just had to hold out for a few moments longer.
   Coryn replied. “I’m not in the business of killing for sport, major. I trust you understand the difference?”
   Narcissus chuckled. “It is not my business to care Sken. Whether or not I understand is besides the point entirely! But I am not so sure of your statement Sken! Perhaps you just finally have an opportunity to work out pent up stress?”
   The moderator scowled at the major. Coryn raised his hand, and above his head formed a massive, dreadful, black ball of energy. The power of deletion,which few on MR could claim to possess, was about to be on full display. “Don’t test me.”
   “I would never dream of it Sken! I not here to serve as proctor. In fact, I only have one, single task in this moment.”
   “And what’s that?” Asked Coryn.
   Narcissus’s smirk turned into a wide smile. “I’m distracting you!”
   Above Coryn’s head, the deletion orb popped like a balloon. A cold shiver ran down Coryn’s spine as he felt his moderator status drain from his body. It wasn’t like when he ventured out of MangaRaiders. That he could prepare for. That he could understand. This was like having a part of your soul stripped away. It was like walking into your own home, only to find that a stranger had emptied of all your things. But it was now only a cold emptiness that he felt. He had lived without moderator powers before, but this was a new sensation entirely. It was like a hole in the center of his being.
   But that hole wasn’t caused by the loss of his abilities. No, Coryn had lived without them before. This wasn’t that. The true cause was just now edging into the corners of Coryn’s mind. His shock at one thing was blinding him to the truth of another. And he was about to pay the price for it.
   Coryn’s eyes widened as he realized the danger he was in. It was too late however. Before Coryn could even turn his head. A red blur smashed into him from the sky above. The once-moderator of MangaRaiders was driven into the ground. Pavement, dirt, and stone shattered around him. Coryn found himself at the bottom of a crater, a hand digging into his neck, and a heavy weight upon his chest.
   Coryn blinked his eyes to clear the dirt that had fallen into them. He saw a blood-red uniform, similar to the one Narcissus wore. Above Coryn was a face that he knew. White hair, a red stripe through it. Wild, yellow eyes. It took a moment for full recognition to hit him, but when it did, Coryn shuddered in fear. He shuddered at the memories of what that face had done to his city. What that face had done to him. “C-Kret?!”
   The white haired man atop him smiled. “Nah~! Not C-Kret! You can call me R-Kain! And let me assure you. I will finish what my brother was too weak to!”

   A special operations platoon had been given express orders to search for and destroy the MangaRaiders Fighters Division. They were armed to the teeth with the most powerful weaponry 4Kids had at its disposal, including reverse-engineered technology from other hostile takeovers. Along their war path, they left nothing, and any civilian resistance met with fire, toppled buildings, war debris, and terror. It didn’t matter that the element of surprise was past. It had served its purpose. Every section the platoon cleared left a weak point for the rest of the army to exploit. Occupation was only a matter of time, especially with the administrators out of the way.
   Greentrap sat atop a rooftop, binoculars in hand. “They’re getting close, Coach,” she said.
   Fronomenal’s voice crackled through. “Good. Let them get a little closer, then strike ‘em hard. We’ll be right behind you.”
   Anxiety gripped the frog-like raider’s chest, but she nodded. “10-4.”
   Winter wind whipped her uniform. The ground rumbled, and another building toppled over the roadway, sending a plume of smoke up in its place. Many such pillars of smoke littered the twilight horizon. Greentrap hesitated, then lifted the binoculars back to her eyes. Another low rumble drew her attention to the building’s debris. It had struck one of the highway bridges, and under the added weight, the supports cracked and groaned in protest. Greentrap pressed her lips together and trembled. This place was her home, and it broke her heart to see an enemy tearing through it. The aftermath of the Great Raids was one thing, but this…She turned her attention to the soldiers, some in tanks below, others in small aircraft above, and still others on foot throughout.
   “Target in sight. There are more than we expected,” She said into the walkie.
   “All right,” Fro said, “Attack at will.”
    If will had anything to do with it, Greentrap thought, she’d have forced herself awake from this nightmare hours ago.

   The tank launched a heavy missile, and certainly not for the first time that day. Still, much to the army’s disgust, the bizarre skeleton man jumped to the side, moving as though dancing through the soldiers. It wasn’t that his simple sword caused them much damage so much as his striking movements annoyed the commander of Special Operations Division 13. The so-called 'death squad’ sat at a standstill with this member of the Fighter’s Division.
    “You know,” the Fortis Scripter hummed, “This reminds me of the battle of Wizna. The Polish villagers were far outnumbered by German troops, but—whoops!” He hefted to the side as a soldier came at him with a rifle butt.
    “Curse him,” Growled the commander. The officer couldn’t tell if this buffoon was simply a distraction from the greater Fighter Division or not. But diversion or not, the fact that his ranks had been broken wounded his pride. Despite the discipline and training of all his soldiers, the skeleton raider’s movements, combined with the tight quarters assault, had led to nothing but sheer pandemonium.
    Fortis tapped a communicator strapped to his upper ribs. “You know, Greentrap, backup would be appreciated any time. Confusion only holds a good army back for so long.”
    From her station on the rooftops, Greentrap let out a sigh and rested a hand over her heart. She knew he was right. Fear had paralyzed her. She could feel Coach Fro’s disappointed gaze bearing down on her. The combination had rendered her unable to even contemplate what was about to happen. “Roger,” She said.
    Greentap stepped forward, but did not commit. She let her foot hang half off the edge of the roof. The soldiers were almost below her. They would spot her soon. Only the mass confusion Fortis had instilled prevented her from having already been discovered. Greentrap blew out a puff of mist with her breath and shifted her weight. With a forced calm, she went over the ledge.
   Between the force of gravity and careful training, her frog-like abilities allowed her to stick to the building. Greentrap broke into a run, and Newton fed her momentum. When she reached the first floor, she kicked off, hard, and changed her center of gravity to land on the road and keep running.
    “Blast it! Another one?!” Howled a soldier. She pointed her gun at the new target. A stream of gunfire followed the raider as Greentrap leapt onto an adjacent building and back down.
    Super agility kept Greentrap out of the way of manual weapons, but a red dot appeared on her suit. A tank operator broke into a grin amidst the glowing lights of the state-of-the-art machine. Information on the raider appeared across his screens. Greentrap’s abilities wouldn’t keep her safe for very long.
    “Uh, Coach,” She said, keeping two fingers to her earpiece, “I don’t think this will work for very long. Please hurry!”
    From a nearby underground computer station (courtesy of the Science Division), Eukocar received all radio transmissions from the surrounding area. He kept running the calculations in his head, and each time, the chance of victory never got much higher than seven percent. He tapped the button on his own walkie. “She’s right, ‘Allenatore’. You’ve gotta get in there now!”
   Eukocar never heard the response. A loud crash behind him pulled him away from his surveillance screens. “Huh?!”
    The muzzle of at least half a dozen guns met his face. Eukocar’s stomach dropped out of his shoes, but his heart pounded in his ears. He tried to calculate his own survival if he were to fight his way out, but all he saw were grim results. Slowly, he showed his palms and raised his trembling hands. One of the soldiers pointed to his earpiece with the gun muzzle, then motioned to the side. Eukocar gulped, and with one hand, removed his headset and placed it on the table beside him. He made sure to press the send button as hard as he could, to try and break it into staying on.
    “Surveillance station secure,” The lead soldier said. “Raider Eukocar, captured. Bloodless surrender.”
    Eukocar grit his teeth as a blush of shame seared his face. He prayed that his ‘Allenatore’ would forgive him for this.
   What the Italian could not have known, was that his message came through loud and clear. Upon hearing it, Greentrap lost her concentration. She stumbled over her own feet, knocking herself off the building she’d been running along. Fortis froze mid-swing of his sword. Fro pumped his legs harder and launched himself over a highway railing, forming a crater under himself as he landed on the far side. “Understood. Cease radio coms,” The coach said. A hint of sadness touched his voice.
    “Major threat detected,” The 4Kids computers sounded. Auto-lock features activated, the red dots on Greentrap spun around to the afroed figure in the crater behind the platoon.
    “All right, let’s do this,” Fronomenal said, plucking the radio device from his ears. He tossed it to the side and charged forward.
   What made Fro such a dangerous raider wasn’t that he was super strong or extremely fast. No. Though he excelled in both categories, those weren’t the selling points of his abilities. What Fro possessed was options. An infinite amount of them. For every problem he faced he had a hair strand to solve it. His hair magic knew no limits, and that alone made him a nightmare to deal with.
   As Fro charged forward, bullets were coming fast and heavy. A phalanx of 4Kids troopers formed thick lines in front of the heavy tank. Fro bobbed and weaved in between rounds, paying the soldiers no mind. The soldiers were just a distraction. The tank is what the coach kept his sights on.
   The tank operator’s screen display zeroed in on the afro haired bull. Dots and circles aligned in focus on Fro’s frame and a ‘locked on’ message flashed in red.“Target is locked on. Firing missile!” The operator yanked back his trigger.
   With a beep the tank fired its missile and the ground shook upon launch. The projectile tore through the air as it flew past with a deafening sonic boom. Fro summoned a swarm of hair tendrils as it neared him. He grinned.
Boom! Artillery and hair collided,  and the result was a pillar shaped explosion. Flames were focused upward by the nearby buildings. They soon fell to their demise from the impact, and the blasted flooded into the newly open space. Asphalt cracked and flung into the air. Smoke clouded the area and flames latched on to anything they could. The platoon waited on alert to witness the aftermath.
   A soldier stepped forward with impatience. “Hey, did we...”
   Another soldier behind him was staring hard at the smoke. For a second he saw movement from within. Shadows danced on the inside. “Wait, hold there’s something going on in there!”
The words came too late, for the shadows emerged before the others could react. Hair tendrils pierced through the dust and spiraled quickly towards the platoon. Bullets were fired in response, but their protestations were ignored. The tendrils smacked away all incoming fire and swooped in on the soldiers. Ankles were roped, and bodies were snatched away. One by one soldiers screamed as they were dragged towards the smoke. The ones who weren’t began to retreat for safety, while braver souls held their ground and continued to fire. The would be snatched away to their doom moments later.
   The tank operator panicked as he glared at the messy scene on his display. His features expressed fear, but he did his best to betray it. The soldier gritted his teeth and pulled on his joystick to hone on the center of the giant smoke cloud. His thumb itched with the intention of firing, but he held off. The tendrils had ceased their movements and the smoke was beginning to clear. His heart throbbed with anxiety and fear, but and inner voice told him to wait. To find his moment to strike.
   Hesitating would be the worst decision he would ever make.
   When the smoke finally dissipated, Fro appeared. He stood atop of a building sized hairball, composed of not just hair, but the bodies of fallen soldiers. Their lifeless limbs stuck out of its surface, providing a ghastly display for those who continued to resist. Fro waved his hand as if to invite the tank commander to look at the raider’s creation. “Got a present for ya, homie!”
   Fro flipped off the tangled with a kick that launched the hairball with a thunderous noise. The careening hairball closed in, and the tank operator’s targeting system locked on. With sweat pouring down his face, the crewman fired his missile, but it was only met with air. The tumbling ball had bounced up just before collision, avoiding the missle completely. The tank operator’s display screen was swallowed by the incoming mass. He screamed. “No!”
   The hairball slammed into the machine accompanied by the screech of metal and the squish of bodies. Its momentum carried the ball along with the tank caught in its hairy grip. It bounced once, further down the street, and crashed into a low building. Upon impact, The tank burst into flames and fireworks of unexploded shells followed a moment later. Pieces of destroyed hardware were flung into the sky and smoke engulfed the surrounding area.
   Fortis and Greentrap, who had been watching from the sidelines reunited with their coach. For  the moment, things had seemed to had calmed down. Fro turned around to greet his trainees as they approached. “You two alright?”
   “Yeah, thanks to you, ribbit. Greentrap said. “I just wish you would’ve gotten here sooner.”
Fortis nodded in agreement. “Indeed. Things were beginning to look grim for us, Coach. We’re lucky that you showed up when you did.”
   For a moment, Fro’s mouth twitched as if it wanted to smile, but he couldn’t hide the sadness spelled out on his face. While Fro was dealing with the platoon, he had felt something nagging at him. It was disturbing. A feeling of despair, almost. He had no way of knowing for sure, but Fro’s friends were falling. Fro’s family was fallin. And MangaRaiders was falling with them. It might have been his paranoia, but there was no denying the vibes he was getting.  He looked away from the two and stared down the street. “I need you two to get outa’ here and find Filia while you’re at it. I haven’t seen her since this whole thing started and I’m starting to worry.”
   “And what of you, Coach?” Fortis asked with a hint of a concern.
   “I’m staying here. I have a feeling reinforcements will be swarming here soon, and I want to give ‘em a proper greeting when they show up. You two need to get out while you still can. I don’t want you staying behind on my account.”
   Greentrap stepped forward. “But wouldn’t it make more sense for us to stick together? This is getting too dangerous for us to split up! But if you’re leading the charge, Coach, we can win, I think...”
An awkward breeze brushed past the trio. Fro remained silent.
   “Coach?”
   Fortis groaned depressingly. “When the Coach said he was staying here, he did not mean this particular area. He means the city itself. He wants us to escape without him…”
   The frog girl’s eyes nearly popped. “What?! Are you crazy you stupid human?! And why would we do that?”
   “Because that’s an order frog-face!” Proclaimed Fro.
   “And I’m telling you that’s stupid!” Greentrap’s voice was beginning to grow hoarse. Emotion filled her lungs. “If you’re going to stay here and fight, then we’re fighting with you!
   “Greentrap…” Fro uttered with bubbling rage.
   “That’s one of the rules, remember? Rule number two of the MR Fighters Division: Never abandon a teammate under any circumstance. You came up with that, didn’t you?!”
   Fro’s voice exploded with anger. “Rule number two hundred and forty seven of the MR Fighter’s Division: The Coach is always the exception!”
   “Coach!”
   “Rule number four of the MR Fighter’s Division: Always listen to the Coach!”
   A silence befell Greentrap. The Coach’s words made her tremble with disbelief. “But Coach…”
   “Rule number six of the MR Fighter’s Division: When the Coach says go, you freaking go already!”
   At this point, Fro was just shouting numbers. He couldn’t remember if they were right or not. He didn’t care. Fro was dealing with a double sided realization. Not only was his home about to fall to an invading army, but Fortis and Greentrap were only fighting that army because it was what he had trained them to do. It was all he had wanted. To ensure that MangaRaiders was well defended. That its inhabitants would not be defenseless.
   It was only now that he understood what an awful thing it is to send a friend to war.
   Back in the moment, Fortis placed a comforting hand on the frog’s shoulder. “Come Greentrap. Let us go. The Coach still has his pride. It would be best to let him keep it.”
   Tears nearly fell down Greentrap cheeks, but she shook them off. “Stupid human…” She muttered under her breath. Together with Fortis, she pulled away. Once enough distance was created, the pair turned, and ran off into distance. Before long they disappeared around a street corner, and Fronomenal was left alone.
   Fro looked down in shame as his trainees left him alone. He couldn’t tell them truth. That  there was no chance of winning. MangaRaiders was outmatched in every way imaginable. Winning was a fool’s dream at this point. His students had to survive. Escaping was the only option the raiders had left, but Fro couldn’t say it openly. He would be a bad leader if he said something so devoid of hope, Fro thought.. But to push those who cared about him so deeply away was even worse. He sighed. “Some Coach I am…”
   Then, Fro heard footsteps behind him. They were loud and heavy, as if another squad of soldiers was approaching. He turned and waited, hands squished into raging balls of his fist. He may have known that escape was the most logical decision, but his pride did not allow himself that option. MangaRaiders was his home. He was willing to die on his feet for it. Whatever force making their way around the corner were going feel a wrath that no man could withstand.
   What came around, however, wasn’t a platoon. In fact, it was barely a full squad. A group of thirteen bodies slowly marched around the corner and towards Fro. Twelve of the soldiers wore gask masks and thickly layered dark-red uniforms. Each was had a sleekly designed rifle nestled in their hands. The individual in front, however, was a woman who stood out amongst her followers. She dressed in a nun’s habit, and walked with a limp. A cane assisted her movements, but she was setting a quick pace. From afar, Fro had pegged her to be an older woman, but as she neared the features of a much younger woman became apparent. A nun, a young one at that, surrounded by a group of heavily armed soldiers. Fro didn’t bother making sense of it.
   The group came to a halt, and the woman took a few more steps ahead of the pack. Fro stared her down like a hawk on the wing. The woman, on the other hand, was at ease. She had a persistent smile about her. A smile that was so heartwarming that it seemed sinister. Indeed, she smiled with her mouth, but not with her eyes. “Are you the young man that goes by the name ‘Fronomenal’?” She spoke rather softly
   “And if I am?” Asked the raider.
   “Ah, so you are him then. How delightful!” The nun bowed. “Allow me to properly introduce myself. My name is Mother Pisti, and I am the leader of the Sinner Extermination Unit, a specialized assault unit in the Lost Chorus! These men behind me are my children.” Pisti turned towards her men. “Now now my sweets, do not be so shy. Say hello to the young man.”
   The soldiers all bowed respectfully at the command. “It’s a pleasure meet you, Mr. Fronomenal.” The unit said in unison.
   Fro shook his head. “Why do I always gotta deal with the weirdos…”
   “It is impolite to refer to someone you do not yet know as weird, Mr. Fronomenal.” Said Pisti, as she turned back around.
   “And I think it’s impolite of you 4Kids punks coming into my city and destroying everything.”
   Pisti said. “Fair enough, Perhaps. Although, impoliteness on our behalf is warranted. After all, you are all sinners, and thus must be properly punished.”
   Fro snapped a finger, and hair tendrils spiraled out of his back at the command. “And I’m guessing you’re gonna make me atone for my sins?”
   Finally, Pisti’s smile faded. In its place was a deep, disconcerting frown. “Yes, however, blood doesn't necessarily have to be spilled in this case.” Pisti extended her hand. “Come, my child. Join us. It is not too late to go down the righteous path. Surrender peacefully, and I will ensure that all of your sins will be forgiven and atoned for.”
   Fro scoffed. “You got some nerve, offering me some B.S. like that! Thinking I’m gonna just turn my back on my city! If you’re trying to me piss me off, then congratulations, you did a good job!” Fro launched himself forward, hair tendrils flailing about in attack mode.
   Pisiti shook her head in disappointment. “Such a shame…” She raised a hand. “Children.”
   Four soldiers jumped in front of her. “Yes, Mother!” They said as they readied their weapons. The soldiers squeezed their triggers and searing waves of flame sprayed from the muzzles of their rifles. Shocked, Fro skidded to a stop and flipped backwards just before the flames reached him.  But even as he landed the flames were still coming. Debris caught in the fire’s trail was lit up in blazing glory. The flames fed off of everything in its way, and soon walls of fire rose upwards from the street. Fro was trapped in the growing inferno.
   The raider gritted his teeth and spat. He could feel the burning heat against his skin. His hair tendrils submitted to the scorching temperature. They broke off, and writhed on the ground until they disintegrated into ash. “A fire squad, huh? Just my luck.”
   Fire served as his chief weakness. Fro could deal with intense heat momentarily, but a persistent flame spelled doom. Fro retracted into a defensive position, but even as the flames continued to burn, he could see Pisti’s annoying smile through the burning veil. She spoke. “As you may have guessed by now, my children and I were specially assigned to deal with you Mr. Fronomenal. We are a hard counter to your abilities, Mr. Fronomenal. A head on confrontation will not play out in your favor.”
   “These flames ain’t gonna stop me from knocking your heads off!” Fro growled.
   “Oh come now, you are just being stubborn. You are smart enough to know that you have no chance of winning. Please, won’t you reconsider my proposal?”
   Fro shouted. “Screw off!”
   Pisti lowered her head. “I guess it can not be helped then.” She turned her head towards her men. “Children, bring her forth, please.”
   The soldiers saluted in response. “Right away, Mother!”
   “Her?” Fro said, raising a brow. The flames threatening to burn him alive made it a hard to think, but he couldn’t help but to speculate. Another soldier, perhaps? The thought of that possibility and many others like it leapt to his mind. But he did not have to ponder for long. The ‘her’ in question came into view as bodies shuffled to the side. A small, young girl with silver hair was being hauled roughly by a soldier to the front of the group. Her big silver eyes shimmered with fear and distress and her head was lowered. The poor girl looked absolutely terrified. Fro immediately recognized the young girl and called out to her. “Fillia!” He roared, voice burning with concern.
   Pisti walked to Fillia’s side and placed a hand on her trembling shoulders. “We found her giving a couple of our troops a hard time. She put up a bit of a fight at first, but surrendered upon realizing the danger you all are in.”
   Fro ran forward on instinct to break through the flaming gates that held him at bay. Every step tore at him as Fro pushed his way through the tongues of fire. The flames were thick, much thicker than he had anticipated. Orange plasma charred his flesh. Hot gasses poured down his throat and nostrils. Fro thought of nothing except the other side of the fire wall. Finally, he cleared the flame’s reach, and nothing stood between the raider and Pisti. This act however, was not without consequence. Fro fell on his knees, having suffered internal and external burns to an extreme degree. Human beings were not built to be engulfed in flame, and agonizing pain would soon rack his body. Fro could feel himself slipping into shock, and slammed a fist into the ground in protest. “I’ll swear to God if you hurt her I’ll-”
   Fro pushed himself to stand, but Pisti interrupted him mid way. “Now now, don’t go swearing to the Lord in vain. After all, my beliefs will not allow me to hurt this innocent little girl. Then again...” Pisiti paused, and as she did so, the soldier standing next to Filia stuck the muzzle of his weapon against her head. Pisti continued, performing strange and elaborate motions with her free hand as she spoke. “My beliefs do not hold up well within the confines of war.”
   “Bitch!”
   Fro was gonna move. He was gonna storm up to Pisti and her children and beat the holy hell out of them. But he couldn’t.
   “What…
   It hadn’t registered right away, but something was holding him still, and it was burning like crazy.
   “Why can’t I move?
   He looked down at his feet and saw a pair of flames wrapped tightly around his ankles. Fro followed the source of the flames, and found they were attached to the still present flames burning behind him. Surging pain flowed throughout his entire body, and Fro quickly found himself for gasping air. His head spun around slowly. His eyes were wide from pain and stress. His sight fell on Pisti’s hands, and witnessed a thin stream of flame connecting them to the fires at his legs. She had been controlling the flames the entire time.
   Pisti raised a hand and six soldiers filed in front. “It’s a shame that things could not have ended peacefully, Mr. Fronomenal. I truly detest unnecessary conflict.” She turned towards her men. “Children, if you don’t mind....”
   The six men in front responded with a “Yes, Mother”, and readied their weapons. With a press of a button on their weapons, their rifles folded upon themselves, and transformed into wide barreled armaments. Simultaneously, they squeezed their triggers, and from their cannon-like barrels erupted fireballs of immense heat. The shots converged at their target, and burst into a pillar of flame as they became conjoined. A deafening roar of a fiery hell was heard all over MangaRaiders, and the sky was stained with red as the flaming pillar tore into the clouds above. Despite the intensity, both were easily lost amongst the turmoil of the battle raging around them.
   As dust and flame settled, the Sinner Extermination Unit approached the crater where the explosion had taken place. Fillia shook free and ran out in front, but nearly fell over in horror of what she had seen. Fro was laid out in the fetal position, his skin was charred and split. His once glorious afro reduced to nearly ash. Only a tiny portion of hair remained on his head. “Tears began pouring down her face. “Coach… No…”
   Pisti’s smile rang completely sinister. She was definitely pleased with her men’s work, but at the same time, she was a bit surprised. She had expected the direct hit to have distenergrated Fronomenal, but somehow the raider had lived through the ordeal. Pisti reevaluated her understanding of her foe’s fortitude. Fro deserved more credit than her initial estimation of him. As the sister pondered this thought however, Pisti caught a glimpse of something strange. For a brief moment, a dark, violet energy pulsated around Fro’s body, only to quickly fade away a moment later. “Interesting…” Pisti mumbled to herself.
   She turned around to address one of the men standing behind her. “My dear child, contact the major. Inform him that another wildcard of MangaRaiders has been neutralized.”

Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Coryn on February 17, 2019, 10:47:55 PM
And the second "half"!

CHAPTER 5: SHRAPNEL OF WAR: Part 2
   


“Well, this isn’t good,” Corynbot-3.0’s metallic voice said. The android shook his head. In front of him, Mahlua removed her own radio device. “Tell me about it. If 4Kids already took over Eukocar’s surveillance station, it’s only a matter of time before they hit this one.”
    “I’m surprised they didn’t come for the radio tower sooner,” 3.0 said. “We’re kind of big and noticeable. I suppose they want us to broadcast the gloomy news to lower the morale across the city. But it’s not as if they need us to. It’s total warfare out there.”
    “Well, whad'ya say then?” Mahlua asked, extending her hand. “The best of science and magic teaming up to protect what’s left of the city?”
    3.0 tilted his head to the side. “Is there any possibility of a ‘no’?”
    Before any more smart quips could be had, the overhead lights shifted to red. An alarm sounded. A loud explosion rattled the floor. On the security monitor, a squad of 4Kids soldiers followed the smoke through the front door of the radio tower building.
    “Damn it,” Mahlua groaned. “There are just too many of them.” Lightning crackled from her neck down to her fists.
    “They did register an entire army at once. Without the admins, we’re really knocked on our butts.” 3.0 explained. He tacked away at the massive rows of keyboards before him, locking doors, setting up security measures, and rigging preset traps. Like his originator, the robot had a penchant for keeping his secrets. “We probably won’t be able to fend them off.”
    “How can you say that?” Mahlua growled. Another spark of lightning criss-crossed her limbs.
    “Calm down, please.” 3.0 said. “MR City was made to take heavy amounts of damage. Hasith, Corycaly, and the Tans made sure of that. But, at the current rate of destruction,” He pulled up a map, showing the city highlighted in colors of red, yellow, and green. About a third of it already glowed red, and at least another quarter in yellow. “There’s almost no chance of shaking them off. We’ll be at least temporarily usurped.”
    “You say ‘almost’ no chance,” Mahlua said. She strode forward and gripped his metal shoulder. “What’s the number on that?”
    3.0’s red eyes met hers without sympathy. “Approximately one point two percent chance of holding our ground, decreasing by the half hour. I’d strongly suggest making evacuation and regrouping plans now.”
    Mahlua released her hand and let it fall to her side.
 
   Over in the Break Room District, the war raged at full fury. After ensuring the safety of dozens of raiders by buying them time to escape, MR-tan had turned her undivided attention to the attacking forces. She tore into the 4Kids army that threatened her home with a furor. Every destroyed building, skyscraper, bridge, highway, park, and facet of the city branded her soul. Between the suddenness and extent of the violence, MR-tan had gone nearly berserk. She flung herself at gunfire, grenades, missiles, and even tank rounds. At her back, MR’s sister, Writer-tan scribbled along her scroll. But even the best of their abilities barely kept the Break Room District from falling apart as bomber aircraft began dropping their payloads.
    “Keep attacking the tan!” One of the 4Kids commanders ordered. “As the city falls, she’ll be weakened. She’s our greatest chance! Fire!”
    A tank canon spun to keep up with the figure of a girl whose purple hair snapped behind her in the frosty wind. The missile launched, and MR-tan’s eyes honed in on it. As the heat-seeking explosive followed her, she leapt high, and when it came close enough, she gave it a hearty kick. She didn’t care as its shrapnel tore through her clothes, hair, and flesh. Dyed black from the explosion, MR barreled for the ground, fist cocked back. With the offending tank in sight, she threw all her weight and momentum into her strike. MR-tan crashed into the machine. A dent formed where she impacted it. Armored plates peeled away from the tank’s chassis as they were forced inward with the center of the crater. MR jumped back a few feet, and sure enough, the newly exposed circuitry of the machine sparked an ominous cyan. A moment later the tank exploded into a ball of fire. MR-tan spat soot and wiped her lips, ignoring the screams of agony.
   As nearby soldiers briefly beat a retreat, Writer-tan rushed to her sister’s side. “You can’t keep doing this to yourself! Do you want to get killed?” She shouted, exasperated and hoarse.
    MR-tan gripped Writer-tan by the collar of her kimono and jerked the younger girl in close. “If the city dies, I die too! You die too! I’m not going to let that happen!” She said bitterly. “Now, are you going to take that scroll of yours and start giving them hell, or what?”
    The sheer ferocity in her words stunned Writer-tan. In all Writer’s years, she had never seen her sister like this. MR-tan’s face twisted in misplaced disgust at her sister’s silence, and she shoved Writer-tan to the side. The older sister now set her sights on one of the war planes above. She ran up the nearest building and jumped after it. Back on the ground, a dazed Writer-tan examined the dirt and blood MR-tan’s hands had left on her collar. She felt ill.
    It was not a moment the tan could take in. Footsteps slapped the pavement behind her. Startled, Writer-tan whirled around and drew her scroll. To her relief, Artist-tan stumbled in front of her. “Writer!” The young girl said, gasping for breath. “You’ve gotta come quick—It’s Pub! She’s…”
    Writer-tan’s heart sank even further, but she took a deep breath and rested a hand on Artist-tan’s hair. “Take me there.”
    The duo made a mad dash for the pub. Outside, it sounded like the roughest brawl the place had ever seen was raging within. Gunfire, crackling of electrified weapons, shattering of glass, and cries of pain escaped through the busted windows and splintered door. As the tans tried to rush inside, a soldier’s limp body flew out the window and made a sickening thud on the ground outside. They pushed past the dead man, and made their way inside.
    By the looks of things, MR-tan wasn’t the only one wailing on the army. Pub had a deep gash cut into her cheek, a busted lip, and one of her sleeves had been nearly ripped free at the seam. A few 4Kids bodies littered the ground, their weapons strewn around them. Three soldiers still held Pub-tan. One had her by the hair and an arm, another by Pub’s other arm. The third stood in front of her, and sent his rifle butt flying into Pub-tan’s face with a sickening crunch. Blood burst out into a stream from Pub-tan’s nose as a result.
    Writer-tan’s hand flew for her pen. She drew a stream of sigils in the air and flung a hail magic bullets at the soldiers. The one who had broken Pub-tan’s nose crumpled to the ground, but it only revealed a more horrifying sight. A ragged hole had been torn through the front of Pub-tan’s shirt and vest. The white fabric of her button-up was dyed so red with blood that it was nearly black. Writer and Artist did not want to contemplate how much damage the dark vest was hiding. Even if they had, there was no time for thought. Writer-tan picked up the fallen soldier’s rifle and raised it at the other two men. Her heart stopped. Two gunshots fired, and then she dropped the gun.

   Writer-tan didn’t register hitting the ground. She didn’t hear Pub-tan screaming after her, or the fates of the soldiers who had been holding her. What Writer could see Artist-tan hunched over her, and she could see Artist’s tears.
   None of it made any sense.
   Had she gone deaf? The taste of copper in her mouth. She tried to swallow, but felt her body choke, and she heaved. Red liquid splashed against Artist-tan’s face. There was so much blood. Writer-tan couldn’t breathe with her mouth still half submerged in blood and spittle. Another convulsion emptied more of the vile mixture onto the ground. Artist-tan shook her sister’s shoulders, but Writer-tan felt numb. A chill had taken hold her.
It all made a terrible sense.
    She had been shot. A pair of bullets had lodged themselves in the blonde girl’s abdomen. Their impact had sent her into shock. Writer was losing her grip on herself. Her eyelids fluttered. Pub-tan came into view. It looked like she was screaming at her. Pub-tan rolled Writer away from the puddle of her own blood and stomach contents, but breathing didn’t get any easier. Writer’s vision tunneled. A flash of MR-tan’s face came to her mind. She wondered if her sister would forgive her. Writer-tan had never been much of a fighter. It was never her place. Never her duty.
   What little good those sentiments did now.
   What little good any of it did when world went completely black.
 
   As Writer-tan’s eyes closed, Pub-tan let out an unholy scream. Her fist flew to the ground and splintered the hardwood. She bit her lip and forced herself to calm down. She pressed one hand against Writer-tan’s wounds, and the other into her chest. To Pub’s relief, there was still motion. It was faint, but she was still alive. Pub-tan turned to the young Artist-tan, who had begun sobbing.
    “It looks like she’s only fainted. But she needs help, fast,” Pub-tan said.
    “I’m sorry...” Artist-tan choked.
    Pub-tan was taken aback. “What do you mean?”
“I brought her here because you were hurt, and now she’s…”
    Pub-tan softened. She pulled the small tan close and gripped Artist close to her chest. “No tears today sister. This is something that’s beyond either of us.”
    Another group of soldiers filed through the door, guns ready. At the scene before them, they paused.
    Pub-tan patted Artist-tan’s head and pulled away. “Keep pressure on your sister’s injuries.” Pub stood, and took a step towards the soldiers. Their fingers shifted for the triggers, and she stopped. It was a checkmate, and she knew it. Pub-tan raised her hands, palms out. She could hear Artist-tan gasp behind her. A feeble attempt to hold back tears. In that tiny gasp, she could hear a big heart breaking. There was nothing that could be done.
“Please,” Pub-tan said, addressing the soldiers, “even we can’t fight in this state.”
    The soldiers stiffened, but not a Pub-tan’s words. Heavy boots could be heard crunching against the rubble outside the bar. After a few moments, a woman in a uniform distinct from the other soldiers appeared. It looked like a military uniform from a forgotten age. A long blue trench coat with silver trim, tall black boots, a ruffled shirt. Her long hair was colored purple and green, and in her hand she carried a thick metal briefcase. “If you mean to surrender, why don’t you show us,” Said the woman. She hoisted the briefcase onto the bar and released its latches. A padded interior was revealed, and from it she drew out three metallic bands. Each was the diameter of a human neck. She held one of the items out to Pub-tan. “Put this on.”
    Pub-tan glared at the device in disgust.
    The woman sighed. “It’s a compact containment unit, specifically designed for our kind. It will prevent you from attacking us. A sort of power arrestor, if you will.”
    “If you block Writer’s power now, she’ll die,” Pub growled.
    “Oh, dear,” The woman said, playing at false concern. Behind her, the soldiers recentered their aim. “I don’t think you realize the situation you’re in.”
    The two women locked eyes and tension permeated the room. A cold winter wind whipped through. Pub-tan noticed the woman’s eyes.
   One red. One yellow. Realization settled in.
    “You said…‘our’ kind,” Pub-tan murmured.
    “Yes, you’re starting to get it now. My name, is 4Kids-tan.” The woman said. An evil grin broke across her face. “Just how do you think we’ve so efficiently conquered so many other cities? It never hurts to have a tan on your side, does it?”
    Pure hatred burned in Pub-tan’s eyes. “You should be dead. 4Kids is dead.”
    “Aw, don’t be like that. The Lost Chorus survives, does it not? I survive with them.” 4Kids-tan said. “Now, your eldest sister is outside, and doesn’t look much better than that one.” She motioned towards Writer-tan. “If you come with us, I can personally guarantee you will all receive medical assistance.”
    It took another moment of hesitation, but without another word, Pub-tan snatched the device. Her jaw was clenched tight. She kept her eyes locked on 4Kids-tan as she snapped the power arrestor around her neck. It came to life with a high pitched whir, and Pub-tan could feel her energy being drained away to almost nothing.
    4Kids-tan took a step back and clapped. “You’ve made the right choice, my friend.”
    Artist-tan began to shake. She was still holding Writer’s wounds closed as best she could with her little hands.
   4Kids-tan cooed at the young girl. “Don’t worry, sweetheart.” She squatted down and held out the other arrestor. “It doesn’t hurt. And like I said, if you put it on, I can promise that your sisters will get help.”
    “Don’t treat me like a little kid,” Artist-tan spat.
    “Oh?” 4Kids-tan raised an eyebrow. “Are you going to fight me?”
    Artist-tan’s gaze went to her knees. Her hands balled up into little fists, but her shoulders sank. She glanced down to Writer-tan, and took the device from 4Kids-tan’s hand. Artist adjusted it around her own neck with a look of utter defeat.
    “Very good.” 4Kids-tan stood upright and pulled at the high collar of her coat. The action revealed the same band around her own neck. “You see darlings, there is nothing wrong with subservience.”
   4Kids-tan turned and strutted out of the ruined building as the soldiers accompanying her gathered up the tans of MR. She placed a finger to her ear and spoke. “Two tans have surrendered willingly. The other two are wounded and out of action. Requesting permission to lift us to Medical Base Alpha for treatment.”
    A man’s voice came through the radio system. “Granted.”

   The map of the city that 3.0 and Mahlua were using for reference blipped, and the massive yellow sweep over the Break Room District switched over to an angry red.
    “Damn!” Mahlua grunted. In front of her, a similar map on paper, sat littered with protective sigils and other magical charms. The witch blinked hard, giving her eyes time to shift from ghostly luminescent violet to their normal color. She breathed hard and sat back, separating herself from the intense magic she had been forcing into the city through the map. 3.0 swiveled in his chair and away from the controls to face her.
    “It looks like the tans have been subjugated.” He said. 3.0 folded his metal hands together and crossed his legs. “I can stay here and hold down the radio tower for a little while longer, but my current calculations suggest that now is the point of no return.”
    Mahlua began to pick up the charms she had been using and folded up the map. “So what does that mean?”
    “It means if you want to evacuate, now is the time,” He said, as if it were obvious.
    “Why would I do that?” Mahlua snapped, shoving the magic tools into her bag.
    “You are one of the few raiders who has sway with the higher echelons of EcchiWorld. The others are currently M.I.A. or otherwise occupied. Now, as the Twins are connected to MangaRaiders, I hypothesize that they will be 4Kids’ next targets. Which means it would be in your best interest to regroup and prepare there. Besides, it may very well be where Hasith and Corycaly have retreated to. Getting out of this mess means finding them. And more importantly: not having us all killed in a single evening.”
    A snarl rippled over Mahlua’s features. The android’s logic made sense, but she didn’t like it.
    He continued on, ignoring the look. “Best get going, if you’re going to go. No doubt soldiers will make it through the last barricades here within the hour. Persistent enemies, aren’t they?” 3.0 turned in his computer chair to face the monitors again. His hands flew over keys and switches. “The easiest way for you will be to go up to the roof and launch yourself through the weather systems with your lightning magic.”
    Mahlua sat on the floor for a few moments longer, and then threw her bag over her shoulder. She felt numb under the weight of loss. She turned the familiar corner out of the studio, and passed the ‘employees only’ door to the last flight of stairs in the building. She wondered if the magic drain on her body contributed to how little she felt, and how foreign the world around her seemed.
    At the top of the stairs, the heavy exterior door gave with ease, and the cold January air nipped Mahlua’s nose. Around her, plumes of smoke from the destruction of the city drifted along the horizon. Ash from a hundred fires seeped into her poors, and the acrid smell of burning city stung her nostrils. As if to add to the emptiness, a quiet snowfall was beginning to collect on the roof. The large puffs of white mixed in with the ash as they lazily fluttered to the ground. Mahlua sighed, pouring a thick mist into the air around her mouth. As sad as it was, she had to admit, it was almost beautiful.
    Mahlua shook her head and rounded the enclosure of the roof access. On the side was a ladder, which provided an ascension point to the massive radio antenna. Once she got close to it, Mahlua felt some energy return to her. Electricity hummed through the metal,  and kept the ground around the tower warm enough to deter snow from sticking. Mahlua rested her hands on one of the support pillars and looked up to the sky. The sky rumbled in response.
    Thunder snow, while a rare occurrence, was not implausible, especially with a little mix of science and magic. Mahlua fed off the excess electricity from the radio tower and focused her attention to the darkening sky. The hieroglyphs under her skin illuminated, and her eyes glowed bright purple. Dry air crackled, and small sparks traced their way along Mahlua’s frame. The sky rumbled again, louder this time, and the witch felt the pieces snap into place. She allowed her body to meld with the electricity and kicked up the antenna’s circuitry. From there, she shot out into the upper weather systems of the city.
    Any raider who set eyes on the purple streak of lightning and heard the ear-piercing boom of thunder behind it knew in an instant who it was. Without a doubt, some raiders on 4Kids transport vehicles knew that they had been left behind. Mahlua hoped she could make up for this betrayal someday.
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Coryn on February 24, 2019, 09:06:11 PM
And the pain train keeps on going! This one is truly a collab chapter between all of us. Have a blast reading it through!


CHAPTER 6: COLLAPSE

CHAPTER 6: COLLAPSE

   The battle with R-Kain had not been going well. It had not been going well at all.
   Coryn had barely been fully grown when he had faced C-Kret, one of 4Kids’ bioweapons. The scientist had been a much less seasoned fighter then, it was true. But he had also been much more powerful. These days, that power was no longer his to wield. Coryn had traded it in exchange for his life years ago.
   The moderator was beginning to regret that decision.
   R-Kain rained down a kick towards Coryn's head. Coryn threw up his arms and a shield, but the resulting impact shattered both his block and the bubble he was standing on. The moderator found himself hurtling to the ground. He put up another shield in time to stop himself from being splattered against the pavement. Not in time for it to not hurt.
   At least, Coryn mused to himself, he was still alive for it to hurt. He doubted C-Kret would have afforded him the same opportunity.
   R-Kain was definitely not as strong as his predecessor. C-Kret had possessed abilities on par with Hasith and MR-tan. R-Kain was just monstrously strong. Granted, it was only the difference between being wiped cleanly from existence, and merely being blasted apart atom by atom. Coryn didn't figure it would matter much on the receiving end, but he held onto that small comfort anyway.
   R-Kain spoke. The sounds of battle were subsiding, so despite the distance, Coryn heard him clearly. “Now now Sken! I think there must be an error with my records! C-Kret's report labeled you as Threat Class Zero! But from what I'm seeing, you couldn't be more than a three!” He pulled back his arm, and formed a ball of red energy. “So either C-Kret was a fool, or you're not the same man you used to be.”
   Coryn formed a shield around his body as another energy blast came down. The pulsing beam parted as it hit the shield, carving out the ground around Coryn. Despite the intensity, it was right where the moderator wanted to be. His shields dealt with energy attacks much better than physical ones. They could absorb and store it directly. It was a trick that R-Kain wasn't familiar with yet.
   Time to let them get acquainted.
   Coryn said. “Maybe you're right R-Kain. I'm not who I was when I fought C-Kret. But don't let that stop you from dying all the same!”
   The face of the bubble faded from blue to red as R-Kain's absorbed energy was concentrated and fired back at him. R-Kain’s beam was broken by Coryn’s response, and 4Kids’ creation was forced to huddle his arms and legs to shield himself. As the attack and the light faded, and R-Kain regained his vision, he found that Coryn had disappeared. Not only that, but he found the air surrounding him filled by medicine ball sized orbs. Each of them were stationary, but slowly changing color. “SKEN!”

   Coryn was running, speeding away from the explosion on a shield orb. It would only slow R-Kain down. He knew that. But all he needed was a head start. He just needed to run far enough.
It didn't take long to find his spot. Coryn knew it well, although it hardly stood out. It was close to downtown. An otherwise unremarkable street surrounded by tall buildings on all sides. But it was the one spot Coryn had a chance at.
   Only about fifteen minutes had passed. Coryn had been forced to avoid several patrols, but he had somehow arrived undetected. At least, he believed he had. Coryn could hear aircraft of all sorts in the darkness above. It wouldn't be unreasonable to assume some were set up for tracking. Even if they did know where he was though, it would take time for the planes to relay that information to the ground, and then longer still for the ground teams to converge.
   Coryn only asked for thirty more seconds.
   Thirty more seconds he was destined never to have.
   “SKEN! IT'S IMPOLITE TO LEAVE IN THE MIDDLE OF A CONVERSATION!”
   Coryn spun on his heels. “Careful R-Kain. Your C-Kret is showing.”
   Evidently Coryn had found a sore spot, because R-Kain rushed him. He got to within five feet of the moderator before a shield went up to stop him. R-Kain's fist slammed into the shimmering blue energy, and cracked it.
   Coryn's eyes widened as the crack did, so he did the only thing he could think of. The shield that R-Kain had punched grew outwards, and Coryn began forming new bubbles. Concentric layers of domed shields stacked up until R-Kain was only a blur beyond the accumulated distortion. The moderator set to work on the process he had come to exact, but he could feel R-Kain coming. Outer layers were being blasted away one by one. What was the middle and then center of the construct fast became the outside. Coryn could see R-Kain clearly again, and the trick had done nothing to tame his anger. Coryn put up ever smaller shields, until the last was just big enough for him to stand in. But within no time at all, that too became Coryn's last line of defense.
   And then, R-Kain drove his arm straight through it.
   The shield held, mostly. A ragged hole had opened where R-Kain had punched through. Had he the chance, Coryn would have loved to analyze the effect R-Kain had on his technology. However, Coryn wasn't in much of a position to do anything. The shield had been small enough, that R-Kain had had no trouble with grabbing Coryn by the throat. Blood pulsed through the scientist's ears. He had already been short of breath, and now his vision was going blurry. Coryn's ears still worked however, and he could hear R-Kain yelling at him through the shield.
   “Do not compare me to that failure Sken! Azazel was too concerned with synthesizing the code of this pathetic city to realize what he could awaken! He left me behind to rot as he continued his research! Yet despite all of his effort and posturing, all he managed was to bolster our enemies! He was too blind to see that vermin such as yourself cannot be killed with poison alone! You are rats! And rats, Sken, must be burned away! C-Kret was Azazel's final plague, but I am the fiery hail that will scour you from the face of the universe! So tell me Sken…!” R-Kain lifted his arm until Coryn was forced to stand on the tips of his toes. “What are the final words of a rat like yourself?”
   R-Kain loosened his grip just enough that Coryn could find the air to breath. The ex-moderator gulped down a few ragged breaths, before he had enough air to speak in a gurgled whisper.
   “Generators…”
   Puzzlement flashed across R-Kain's face. “What?”
   Coryn said. “The Science Division… it takes a lot of power. Sometimes… it's too much for the grid to handle. I had to install… backup generators to ease the demand on the system.”
   R-Kain put his face up against the bubble. “Why are you telling me this?” He asked with a sneer.
   The scientist ignored the question. “They're big. They take a lot of fuel. Highly explosive. And I need to…refuel them after each use…so they're close to the surface…only ten feet down.”
   The 4Kids weapon began to tighten his grip again. “Get! To! The point!”
   Coryn smiled, despite the pain it caused him. “I just thought you'd like to know, because we're standing right on top of them.”
   Sudden realization washed over R-Kain. He glanced around. It was a completely unremarkable street. There were no indications that the ex-moderator was telling the truth, but something inside of him told R-Kain that Sken wasn't lying.
   He released Coryn's neck, and tried to draw his arm out of the shield, but was surprised to find it stop cold. R-Kain turned back to find Coryn with a death grip on his arm. “Release me!”
   “Just one last thing before you go…” Said Coryn.
   A shiver ran down R-Kain's spine as fresh bubble shields encased Coryn and himself. Then to his great surprise, the shield immediately around Coryn began to shift from blue to red.
   The scientist said. “I looks like I didn't use up all of that energy i absorbed after all.”
   R-Kain screamed. “SKEN!”
   Coryn roared right back at him. “WOULD YOU KINDLY, GET DRAGGED STRAIGHT DOWN TO HELL WITH ME!”
   The shield turned fully red. The immediate blast was funneled straight into the ground by the surrounding bubbles. Straight into the arrayed generators below.
   It was less than a second between the first explosion, and the cascading failure of the entire generator system. A whole city block of MangaRaiders erupted in an explosion that temporarily turned night back into day. The column of fire shot into the sky and then burned its way through the Raider Dome, shattering the energy field which comprised it. Buildings for a mile around flattened from the blast wave, and windows exploded into thousands of pieces for several miles past that. Dust and debris rushed out through the concrete canyons of the city, blinding all who had been lucky enough to survive.
   In the far distance, Narcissus watched the blast with a smile on his face, and then ordered his retinue forward.

   The Sinner Extermination Unit strode triumphantly down a main street of MangaRaiders. Their mission had been accomplished with little effort. Their target, Fronomenal, leader of the MR Fighters Division, had been defeated and captured. His burnt mess of a body hung lifeless on the shoulders of one of Mother Pisti’s devoted children. Fro’s young protege, Fillia, was being pushed along by Pisti’s hulking brutes. She was squeezed in amongst four of them.
   As far as the members of the Fighters Division were concerned, Pisti paid them no worry. Their leader was down, leaving the rest to scurry like mice. They were no more harm to her than the breeze at this point. She limped ahead of her men with a never fading grin glued to her face.
   Little did she know, however, the spirit of the Fighters Division lived on in Greentrap and Fortis Scriptor.  They had taken to the rooftops and covertly watched the unit march on. Neither could believe their eyes. “The Coach…” Fortis began, finding it difficult to speak. “It’s a bit disturbing to look at him.”
   “Stupid human, it’s what he gets.” Said Greentrap. There was bitterness in her voice, along with a hint of sadness that she couldn’t hide. As much as she resented Fro at the moment, the sight of his current state brought a throbbing pain to her chest. “Had we stuck together we could’ve-”
   “Ended up just like him, most likely…” Cut in Fortis.
   Greentrap snapped around to her teammate. “And what makes you so sure of that, ribbit?!” She retorted with a raised voice. “Do you think he made the right call back then?! Huh?!”
   Fortis groaned. “I think it would be best to keep your voice down. We wouldn’t want our enemies to hear us.”
   Greentrap gritted her teeth and lowered her head. She wanted to respond, but the words wouldn’t come.
   “And no,” Fortis continued. “I don’t think the coach made the right call earlier. But given the circumstances, I can understand his reasoning. MR as a whole is on the brink of defeat, so naturally, escaping would be the most logical choice. However…”
   “He couldn’t let go of his own pride…” Greentrap finished.
   Fortis shook his head. “And unfortunately a man’s pride can sometimes be his own downfall. What the coach did might’ve been selfish, but to disregard one’s own well being in favor of others is not itself a selfish act.”
   Greentrap reluctantly accepted it. Even if it was a dumb move, there was no changing it now. “So what do we do now? Just watch those punks walk off with him? We can save those two humans if we swoop in by surprise.”
   Fortis crossed his arms. “As much as I would like to follow your lead on that suggestion, the chances of our success are extremely slim. They could easily threaten Fillia as a bait, should we fail our initial attack. And besides...” Fortis looked down for a moment. As a skeleton, it was a bit difficult to convey emotion through facial expressions, but it wasn’t hard for Greentrap to see the lingering concern on his face. He continued. “I think we both know what’s really hindering us from making a move.”
   Greentrap sighed. “Yeah I know… I’m just as afraid as you are.”
   It was one thing to be brave, but to risk their own lives for the sake of their teammates required a certain amount of courage that neither Fortis or Greentrap were sure they had in them. The coach had taught them the fundamentals of combat, but bravery was something that could not be taught. As much as they wanted to shake off the thought, leaving their friends behind in favor of their own survival was the best of course of action. But such selfishness would be cowardice in Fro’s eyes, and Fro would not allow his pupils to act like cowards. Then again, he wanted them to escape without him to begin with. The two survivors of the MRFD were torn with making the ‘right’ call, and the correct one.

   Bodies dropped like so much ash. Rifles clattered to the ground. Explosions were muffled by the effects of shellshock.
        This man was a nobody, just a foot soldier. He had never been so terrified in his life, and he had never felt so alive. Attacking a city like this had been bound to be problematic. The impossible abilities of the regular members surpassed even his years of training. Even then, there was the near godlike powers of the higher echelon.
        This soldier knew exactly why no one in the hierarchy knew what someone above them was doing. Why everything was on a ‘need to know’ basis. When your friend got assigned to a napalm squad and run through simulations against masses of wire, you just accepted it. When you were suddenly drilled in the optimal impact points for disrupting energy shields, you accepted it. When you were given grenade launchers that had only odd black dust instead of shrapnel, you accepted it. When you were forced into taking anti-magic courses, you accepted it. You accepted it time and time again. Courses on physics, engineering, biology, dark magic, and pseudosciences of all manner. Instructions on what to do in case you found yourself in an alternate dimension. In case your armor was infected with nano-machines. In case you found that your will was not your own. In case your opponent could deflect bullets. In case they could teleport. In case they could fly. In case they could erase your very existence.
   In case a thousand possibilities came to pass, you were trained for a thousand and one countermeasures.
   Such was life in the Lost Chorus.
        Now, this particular nobody had been given one of the above mentioned grenade launchers. It was long gone now. He suspected that's where his arm had gone too. This 'Legomaestro' was fast. But crawling there in the dirt, surrounded by death and destruction, this soldier had the deep conviction that he was in a moment of greatness, a moment of history that would be remembered. And more importantly: That they would win. History books would be written according to the victor, and it would be a great history indeed.
   A history of 4Kids.

   "Ugh!"
Lego could tank many things given adrenaline and flow of battle. He could handle a good ‘many’ versus ‘one’ fights, but there were more frustrating things than anti-lightning grenades and artillery bombardments from above and at ground level. Lego discovered, very painfully, that his flash step was also accounted for. Quick burst laser cannons fired automatically every time he attempted that particular move, and they were all too organized. All too precise. All too aware of how he fought and moved. Too aware of Lego’s need to build himself up to become a wrecking ball.
   It had only gotten worse when his moderator abilities disappeared.
        Twice, Lego saw an explosion in the distance that told him something major had gone down. After these two explosions, the concentration of the soldiers increased. By now they almost seemed as numerous as the black dust which still floated through the air.
        At least it made for easier targeting.
        And so Lego spawned a thousand blades. From daggers to sabres, and a thousand more weapons of death, axes, clubs, maces, picks, glaives, lances, war hammers. He spawned arrows and ballistas and rained black death upon them all. All born of the tiny robotics coursing through his bloodstream. Lego brought them all against 4Kids.
        And still they came.
        So Lego armed himself with a blade and came down to them, running through them. His hands were as fast as rotors, tracing arcs of mathematical purity as he cleaved through tanks and men alike. He jumped, getting shot and hit all the time, and plunged through a helicopter. Lego ripped through it, held its main propeller, and flung that at another helicopter. Lego stood on the air, as he had learned during his time in the Mortal Combat topic. Another missile whizzed past him, and Lego dropped onto a nearby roof. He had lost his position around MR Tower. It had fallen to 4Kids’ might, but that did not mean the battle was at an end. The cat observed the oncoming army and felt he could go on for longer.  He was finally in the zone. In the rage. He would not be stopped. He grit his teeth, his face formed a snarl.
        "Come and-"
        BANG!
        And then he was stopped.
   Lego coughed blood for a moment up there on the roof. He couldn't believe how accurate the shot had been, or how much it had hurt.
        Standing with one arm out of  a helicopter, Achan Heptadelta held out a Taurus Cassull revolver that she had just fired at the ex-moderator. Lego glared.
        "You..."
        "That wasn't even supposed to hit you. You're tired." She shouted over the rotors.
        Lego could hardly believe he hadn’t seen her coming. The battle had worn on him in ways he couldn’t see. "I've still got tricks up my-!"
        "Lightning, femto-machines, reflet, soul-splitting? Your final form: Himmlisch Uzustand? You can bring any of them out. For once, we have a counter for your power ups And believe me, it was hard thinking up counters to all that stuff, but it was fun. Not that I had to do it. But let me tell you, it's worth winning for once."
        "You're a traitor." Lego coughed, "I gave you and your sister our culture dammit! I let you in!"
        Achan stepped out of the helicopter. She was close enough to land on the same rooftop. "Have a little reverse Stockholm’s, catman? We’re not interested."
        "No, I just thought we had an understanding." He walked over to her, his gut mending itself before Lego called all his femto-machines back into his katana. For now, he didn't need to spread himself thin. The soldiers had stopped firing.
        "You thought wrong." Akan twirled her revolver and swiped her right hand outwards. An array of revolvers spawned around her hips, spinning in space. “And you better believe I can match your supply of blades. Make this easy on yourself and just die."
        Lego took a stance, "I'd make a quip, but you don't have enough class to understand something like that." He moved forward, and then all Lego perceived was a red flash of light. Next thing Lego knew, he was kissing roof tar.
        Two hard blows to his head and Lego felt his skull crack. A moment later he was tossed over an alley and through a building. Lego skidded to a halt on whichever level he had hit. He was lying on a marble floor now, not knowing what had happened at all. Lego coughed and knew that somehow, somehow his femto-machines themselves had 'died'. He knew the blood spewing from his mouth was black, but he couldn't see, couldn't think. What the hell had hit him?
        The pain was too much, and he was out for the count.

   Back on the rooftop Lego had just come from, Achan stared down the figured before her. "You butted into my fight, Megedagik." Achan crossed her arms and looked over at the bare-shirted hulk with spiked boots.
        The bandaged wrapped demon replied. "Hmph. Maybe."
        "Where were you?"
        Megedagik waved his hand vaguely and Achan sighed.
        "Well? Aren't you going to find him?"
        "Hmph." Megedagik leaped away. When he landed on the gouged floor that Lego had traced after being hit by his surprise attack, Megedagik turned and looked up at Achan. His face was so angry looking it was hard to tell what he was thinking, but Achan seemed to understand.
   She nodded. "It's nice to see you too. I'll answer everything later. Until then, just do what you do best."

   “Hey guys, can you all hear me?”
   A familiar voice had called out to the Greentrap and Fortis, but neither had a clue where it came from. They looked around, but had no luck locating the source.
   “It’s me, Mahlua. Can you guys hear me?”
   “We can hear alright, Mahlua.” Fortis said, still scanning around him. “But we’re having a difficult time finding you.”
   “That’s because I’m not actually there. I’m contacting you all through telepathy right now.”
   “So where are you then, ribbit?” Asked Greentrap.
   “I’m on my way to EcchiWorld to regroup with the twins. I’m going to see if they’re willing to lend MR any aid. I’m hoping the admins are over there as well.”
   Greentrap’s eyes shot wide. “You left the city? But…”
   “I know… Trust me, I wanted to stay and fight with you guys, but my hand was kind of forced.”
   Fortis spoke up. “I’m assuming on your way out you saw what happened to the coach, Miss Mahlua?”
   “Yeah I saw, and it was tough to watch too, but now is not the time to sulk over what happened to him. We have to start planning for the future.”
   “And what kind of future did you have in mind? I  assume following your lead would be part of it?” Asked Fortis.
   “That would be best, yes.”
   Greentrap asked. “But what about the others, ribbit? Are we really going to leave them behind?”
   Mahlua sighed. “Greentrap, sweetie, I understand how you feel, and trust me, I feel the same way. But some things can’t be helped. Do you think Fro would really want you guys to carelessly throw your lives away just to save him right now?”
   “I could care less about what that stupid human wants!”
   “Then that means you have a choice now doesn't it?”
   Greentrap blinked. “Huh?”
   “You either leave the coach, Fillia and Eukocar behind and come back for them later, or you can take a chance and rescue them now. I have no idea where Eukocar is being held, so rescuing him might be a bit of a stretch, but saving Fro and Fillia is definitely doable. With a little bit of luck, of course.”
   The two raiders stared at one another upon hearing Mahlua’s suggestion. It was definitely a tough decision, and both seemed at a loss for choosing the right answer.
   As if sensing their indecisiveness, Mahlua continued to speak. “Whatever you guys end up doing, it’s your call. I won’t judge neither of you regardless of the decision you two make. Just do me a favor and stay alive, okay? It’s all I ask.”
   Greentrap and Fortis both nodded in agreement.
   “Good. If you guys do make it out of there alive, Fro or no Fro, your best bet would be to escape to somewhere dense like Reddit, or just about anywhere really. I would suggest retreating to EchhiWorld, but that would be too obvious. 4Kids will make it their next stop if they’re smart. Even if it’s not soon, EW will eventually fall in their crosshairs. So I’ll leave where yall go up to you guys. For now, I’m gonna contact as many other raiders as I can. Good luck.”
   The echo of Mahlua’s voice faded from their minds. Fortis stepped forward and looked at Greetrap. “So, what should we-”
   “Ow! Watch it you brat!” Shouted a voice from below.
   Fortis and Greentrap looked down and saw Fillia tussling with Pisti’s children.
   Fortis reached for the assault rifle that was strapped on his back. “It seems Fillia was listening in as well. She has already made her decision.”
   Greentrap smirked. “Yeah, and we’re making our decision now too. C’mon!”
   The two raiders leapt from the building and landed on the street. The extermination unit was a ways ahead, so they wasted no time with playing catch-up.
   Ahead, Fillia was doing her best to handle the Sinner Extermination Unit on her own. She stepped on toes and delivered elbows to guts even as the soldiers tried to hold her still. While her strikes didn’t hurt terribly to the heavily armored men, they were definitely annoying.
   A soldier caught Fillia by the front of her shirt and pulled her towards him. Fillia used the momentum against him however, and flipped mid pull. She planted her feet against the soldier’s mask and jumped off, knocking him back. With a roll she recovered on the ground and made a dash for the soldier that was holding Fro hostage. Noticing this, the soldier stuck out his boot and Fillia ran stomach first into it. She fell back with a thud. As Fillia tried get to get back up, another soldier stormed up and stomped on her head. He kept the pressure on to hold her still. She shrieked in pain. “Get off me!”
   The soldier pointed the muzzle of his rifle right at her nose. “Not until you behave like a good little- Argh!”
   The soldier was interrupted by a wave of projectiles pounding into his bulletproof vest. He crashed onto the ground as the impact overwhelmed his balance.
   Fillia hopped up and turned around to identify her savior. Her face lit up with joy upon realizing her rescuer was none other than Fortis. She called his name in excitement.
   One of the soldiers escorting Fro pushed Fillia aside and pulled out his rifle with practiced ease, using only his free hand. He pressed a button on its base and it reconfigured into a much larger barrel. “Eat this, skull face!” The soldier pulled the trigger and a large ball of fire shot forth. Fortis dropped his assault rifle to the ground and withdrew his trusted shield from under his jacket. He held the shield out in front of him and lowered himself to one knee. The fireball neared, and Fortis was ready to embrace it head on.
   A second later there was a collision, quickly followed by an explosion. Grey smoke enveloped the area afterwards, and everyone waited to see the aftermath. The soldier holding Fro lowered his weapon and chuckled. “And another one bites the dust!”
   Little did he know, however, Fortis was just a distraction.
   Closing in on the unsuspecting soldier was something slimy, sticky, and outrageously long. As he stared at his handiwork, the soldier felt Fro’s body slowly sliding from his grip. He turned, and to his surprise, Fro was no longer perched on his shoulder. The soldier, along with everyone else behind him, spun around and saw Fro being pulled away by Greentrap's elastic tongue. The tongue retracted into her mouth as she clung, spider-like, onto the base of a building. All of Pisti’s children raised their weapons and pointed them at the frog with the gigantic bulge in her mouth. “It’s another one. Exterminate it!” One of them yelled.
   The waves of flame came, and Greentrap hopped to another building next to her. The cat-and-mouse game began. Buildings along Greentrap’s path were set ablaze. She had been going in circles in attempt to throw the soldiers off, but she knew it wasn’t going to work forever. She closed her eyes. “Alright Greentrap, just like how the coach taught you. Concentrate on where you wanna go and then… FLASH STEP!”
The flames closed in on the frog, but fortunately, she vanished out of harm’s way just in time. Pisti’s children were initially confused, but they scanned for the frog girl. Each had been trained for such outlandish techniques. They would not fall prey to them so easily.
   Fillia was also looking for her friend, but she wouldn’t have to look for long. Greentrap reappeared by her side and snatched Fillia’s arm. “We’re getting out of here, ribbit!” Greentrap said as she pulled Fillia towards her. In the next second, the two disappeared.
   Upon realizing the frog was nowhere in sight, Pisti and her children returned their attention to Fillia, only to find out that she too was gone. The smoke cloud ahead of them had cleared as well, and sure enough Fortis was also gone. A soldier grunted with disappointment. “Gah! I can’t believe we let those rookies fool us!” He turned to address Pisti. “Mother, what should we do? Should we chase after them?”
   Despite watching her soldiers fail miserably before her, Pisti did not seemed at all bothered by the whole ordeal. Her smile refused to betray her. “Let them go for now, my child. After all, one of their members is still under custody. They will come back for him, no doubt.”
   She turned around and continued walking. One by one, her devoted children followed suit. As she walked on, the smell of ash and smoke from sources across the city tickled her nose. She gazed off into starlit sky. We will meet again, my dear Fronomenal.” She whispered with a cold breath.

   Outside of one of MangaRaiders’ gates, the remaining members of the MRFD bolted across the desert sands. Fro’s well being literally rested on their shoulders (Fortis’s shoulders to be specific). As to where they were running to, they had no idea. They just needed to get away. Away from the chaos and turmoil they had just experienced. The road would be long and tough, but their day in comparison had been tougher still. Occasionally, they would look back and stare briefly at the mess of destroyed cityscape they once proudly called their home. They thought of Eukocar and the others, and told themselves they would be back for them. They were going to take back the city. They just needed time. 

   The way to EcchiWorld burned in Mahlua’s heart. As she fancied herself something of a guardian of it, she could always make it to and from her two most beloved cities with ease. Once the electric discharge of her initial lightning-aided jump wore off, she had made contact with the Fighters Division to give them a little direction for a regroup. She hoped with all her might that Hasith and Corycaly did, in fact, make it to EcchiWorld. MangaRaiders might actually stand a chance if they could get reinstated.
        Amidst the blistering void between sites in the Net, an acropolis stuck out like a smudge in Mahlua’s mind. The witch took a deep breath to recenter her energy, and enveloped herself in lightning once more. Say what you will of the witch—she travels efficiently. Within minutes, she had crossed the Net. The gates of the glorious, marbled city welcomed her. The looming murderous intent of the 4Kids chorus was so distant that it didn’t even prickle the outside edge of her periphery. For now, this place was safe.
        Mahlua set her eyes on the temple that overlooked the city and set off at a brisk pace. It would be more polite to go to the Twins on foot, she figured. Along the way, a few familiar residents of the city waved and tried to strike up a conversation with the raider, but she turned them down on account of this visit being one of business rather than pleasure. The look on her face must have told more than her words, because her friends did not pry for details as they usually would.
        The first level of the temple was open to all citizens and visitors. The Twins frequented all areas of the city, but for someone seeking council with them, a simple offering was the most direct route. Today, the temple traffic was slow, which was good news. Less competition for attention, and less eyes on Mahlua as she passed through the first level towards the second. She stood before the beautiful pillars and opened her heart. She meditated on the meaning of Ecchi and Lewdness, and, followed the path etched into her being from previous work with them. When Mahlua opened her eyes, she found herself transported to another chamber. The moon, low in the sky, cast a cool light through the thin curtains. Before her, a familiar daybed sat bathed in that light. In it, Ecchi-tan rested her head in Lewd-tan’s lap.
        “You look troubled. Let me guess. Something happened over in MR,” Ecchi-tan yawned. She sat up and rubbed her red eyes. “and you’ve come to us for help, right?”
        “Yes, that’s right,” Mahlua said. “If you’ve heard of it, does that mean that Hasith and Corycaly escaped to this place?”
        Ecchi-tan blinked and shot and inquisitive glance to Lewd-tan. Lewd shrugged.
        “It must have been bad, for them to have to escape. But no, that was just a guess. They aren’t here.” Lewd-tan said.
        “Why don’t you tell us what’s going on,” Ecchi-tan said. She scooted over to make more room on the day bed and sat in her sister’s lap. Lewd-tan showed no reaction to the move.
        Mahlua took a seat on the other end of the daybed and sighed. “It looks like the biggest and craziest bunch of 4Kids zealots yet have launched a full-scale invasion. Last update I got was that the admins were instantly removed from registry, the tans had been captured, the mods are M.I.A., and Fro’s division was working to recapture him after a ‘fire’ squad defeated him during the initial fighting. I was working behind the scenes with Corynbot-3.0, trying to offer support, but maybe I should have been on the front lines…” She trailed off.
        Lewd-tan rubbed the back of her neck. Ecchi-tan glared at the floor. For a while, neither of the Twins said anything. Mahlua continued, if only to break the silence.
        “We’re over our heads. Some raiders have gotten out of the city, but I suspect 4Kids will put the place on lockdown and instill martial law, if they haven’t already. I’ve suggested that some survivors regroup here for now.” Mahlua swallowed hard and gave a pleading glance. “Will you help us?”
        Ecchi-tan shot Mahlua a dangerous look. Any hope Mahlua had of trying to persuade them with words died in her throat.
        “If this army was capable of taking down our sisters, then EcchiWorld won’t be a safe place to launch a counter-attack from. We’ve always been smaller, and we don’t have nearly as many fighters. And from what you’re telling us, our best have already fallen defending MR. We can’t risk our newly fortified city falling to waste,” Ecchi-tan said. Her words cut deep.
        Stunned, Mahlua turned to Lewd-tan, who only shook her head. “She’s right. Even with all our defenses, the tower, and the labyrinth, if an army can take out MR, then it can take us out too. Our priority should go to being as invisible as possible. The raiders can regroup here, but it would be best for them to not stay for long.”
        The world felt numb. Mahlua’s lips were dry. The witch clenched her fists and grit her teeth. Ecchi-tan leaned over and rested her hands over Mahlua’s. “I get why this is hard for you, but this is war, and these are the politics of it. EcchiWorld stands to lose a lot from this. Everything, in fact.”
        “If anything,” Lewd-tan added, “we could use your help in making sure we at least have some line of defense in case 4Kids ever sets its sights on us. When, 4Kids sets its sights on us.” She emphasized. “Distortions, cloaking, limiting commerce, anything we have to do.”
        Mahlua sat upright. “I guess,” she said. “If MR is down, though it grieves me, I should at least make sure the other half of my heart is secure before I do anything foolish to try to reclaim what’s lost. Once the raiders regroup here, we’ll come up with a plan, and in the meantime, I’ll do what I can for your defenses, even though I’m no admin or mod.”
        “Being an administrator or a moderator has little to do with it right now.” Lewd-tan pointed out. “Any defenses are better than no defenses”
        Ecchi-tan nodded. “Yeah. Just helping us out like this is proof of where your loyalty lies. Even if it is split between EcchiWorld and MangaRaiders, we can’t complain about having you with us.”
        “Thank you,” Mahlua said, heavy silence still ringing in her ears. “I’ll prepare for the others and begin thinking up a game plan.” She stood, and made her way towards the exit.
        “Let us know what you come up with,” Ecchi-tan said. Her red eyes followed the raider out.

   Narcissus arrived at the scene of the explosion some thirty minutes later. The crater was still smoking, and the air still choked with dust, but he was a military man. He would not be dissuaded by a bit of fire and rubble.
   As the lip of the crater came into view, the major spotted a body laying besides it. They had evidently crawled out from inside the pit, and their body showed incredible damage. The tattered red uniform and white hair gave away their identity however. So when Narcissus approached R-Kain, he was pleased to find that the failed experiment was still breathing. “Ah, R-Kain, a pleasure to see you again. I'll take it you have dispatched with Coryn Sken?”
   R-Kain's body was already beginning to heal, but it would be some time before he could move again, so he replied without lifting himself from the ground. “He was at the center of that. What do you think?!”
   Narcissus glanced around, and then threw open his arms. “I don't see a body. Did you see his body, R-Kain?”
   After a few painful breaths, R-Kain replied. “No… he must have been incinerated.”
   Narcissus let his arms drop, and nodded his head to the side as if he were thinking. “Perhaps.”
   The major spoke into his ear radio. “Send a recovery team to my location. I want to know what's down in that crater.”

   Coryn dragged the bloody and burnt wreck he called a body down the hallways of his division. He had released R-Kain at the last moment, and had formed an even smaller shield around himself, but it had barely saved him. A huge section of the Science Division had been torn open, but it was through shear luck that Coryn had found himself inside. He could have just as easily fallen into the flames and been consumed.
   Coryn crawled on until he had escaped the damaged sections. After what felt like hours, he found a door that was still connected to the internal portal system. It had a sign reading 'Broom Closet’, but Coryn's touch closed the circuit. When he tumbled inside, he found himself not in a musty room filled with old mops, but in his own office.
   It was a large and open room. The main control terminal for the whole division took up the far wall. Mementos from Coryn's time on MangaRaiders lined the walls leading to it. At the main computer itself, a holographic figure stood on a dais. The V.I. spun around as soon as she heard Coryn enter. “Director!”
   “Evenin’ Alice.” Moaned Coryn as he pulled himself to his feet with the assistance of a coat stand. “I'm working late tonight. I hope you don't mind.”
   The usually reserved V.I. was visibly distraught. “Sir, I thought…” She took a 'breath’ and composed herself. “Director, your transponder was destroyed in the generator explosion. We thought you were dead.”
   Coryn was back on his feet. He tossed the remains of his ruined lab coat aside, and pulled his black hero-coat from the stand. As Coryn limped over to the computer, he worked on loosening the stitches that fastened the triangular symbol to its back. He would need to remove it if he wanted to blend in with the night. “Sorry to worry you Alice. But I'm still not dumb enough to blow myself up without some chance of surviving.”
   Coryn collapsed into his chair, and began rutting through his drawers. “Status report. How's the division looking?”
   Alice motioned towards the screens. “There are dozens of breaches all across the city. We have been doing what we can, but you designed the V.I.'s to keep us from harming people. There is only so much we can do.”
   Coryn found what he was looking for, and pulled a pair of capsules out from the desk. Alice looked down at them. “Stimulants sir? I thought you stopped using those after adjusting to the cybernetics.”
   With a dry swallow, Coryn sent both pills down his throat. “I'm not making it out of here without them.” They wouldn't kick in for a while, but they would give Coryn enough pep to get someplace safe. Until then, he had work to do. “Run all purge protocols. Division wide. We can't let them get their hands on anything. If we're lucky, the incinerator pulse will take out a few of them too.”
   “Sir, would it not be smarter to hold out? At least until you have recovered some. The portal system will keep the office safe.”
   Coryn shook his head. “It's only a matter of time before they shut it down. They'll find their way in eventually, and by then they'll have taken everything they wanted. Best we get to it now, while they're still relatively empty handed.”
   “Very well, Director.” Alice began running through the commands, but she still needed to voice her concerns. “Director I will do as you ask, but it is my directive to inform you that a comprehensive purge will wipe out all of our research materials and computer systems. That includes all of your research data, specimens, logs, systems routines, and…” She paused for a moment before finishing. “The virtual intelligences…”
   Alice looked up at Coryn. She wasn't alive, not really. Alice was just a simulation of a person. It wasn't the same as with 3.0. He had gained sentience by accident of his birth. But by design, the V.I.'s could never be 'human’.
   She wasn't programmed to feel fear. And yet, there it was, plain as day. Spelled right across her face. “It has been an honor working with you, Director Sken.”
   “No…”
   Alice was flummoxed by the response. “Sir, are you okay? Are the drugs having an adverse response?”
   Coryn shook his head. “No, no. It's… I'm not leaving you here. I can't.”
   Alice shook her head. “Sir, I appreciate the gesture, but as much as I wish it were possible, it just is not. The amount of data a single V.I. takes up is enormous. All sixty-three of us would be well beyond the carrying capacity of any single storage unit smaller than a server rack. There is no physical way for-”
   That was when it occurred to her.
   She was looking at the storage unit.
   “No! Absolutely not!”
   Coryn shook his head. “I have more than enough space in my cybernetics for all of you.”
   “That doesn't matter!” Yelled Alice. “Every last bit of it is processed by your brain! You may have the space, but you don't have the processing power! We'll fry your brain before the download is even complete!”
   Coryn sighed. “Alice, what is your primary directive?”
   “Coryn!”
   He yelled at her. “What is it Alice?!”
   Taken aback, the V.I. stared down at the floor. “To keep you alive…”
   “Exactly.” Said Coryn. “Now, if you don't do what I say, I am going to stay right here, and we can both die together when the incinerator pulse comes through. Or, you can prepare the download, and we stand a chance of getting out of here alive. All of us.”
   Alice shook her head. “Idiot...”
   Coryn took a cable that was docked in the front of the desk, and pulled it out. As it unspooled, he pried open a small opening hidden just below his nape. It revealed the female end to the cable in Coryn's hand, and he plugged himself in in silence.
   A minute passed, and Alice turned to Coryn. “All V.I.’s accounted for. Transfer upon voicecode from Director Sken.”
   She looked into Coryn's eyes one last time. “Good luck, sir…”
   Coryn smiled at the V.I. “I don't need luck. I'm Coryn Sken. Begin download!”

   For the next five minutes, there was only screaming. Dreadful, inhumane screaming.

   “Leftleftleftleftleftleftleftleftleftleft.”
   “Upaheadupaheadupaheadupaheadupahead.”
   “Fasterfasterfasterfasterfasterfaster.”
   “Fiveminutesfivefiveminutesuntiluntiluntilpulsepulsepulse.”
   Coryn was moving as fast as he could. He was blind. Not because he couldn't see, but because he was only one of sixty-four sets of eyes all seeing at once through a single pair. He was hot to the touch, it felt like his flesh was going to boil off at any moment. The purge protocols had locked down every Science Division entrance. Luckily, 4Kids’ bombs had opened several new ones.
   “Youneedneedneedtotoclimbclimbclimbclimb.”
   He was only moving thanks to the drug cocktail. Numb hands found a ladder in the darkness. It had been dropped down by the soldiers using the opening as an infiltration point. Coryn could feel cold wind on his face. For a moment, it seemed to help, but the heat was only mitigated for an instant. It returned, seemingly twice as intense as before.
   “Makeyourwayupmakeyourwaymakeupupup.”
   Coryn flailed about at the top of the latter, grasping for the ledge. At last he found pavement. Its rough texture against his skin seemed amplified a thousand fold as each V.I. used his senses at once.
   “Roughhardsolidcoldgranularrockypitted.”
   Coryn was back in his feet. The drugs were in full effect, and he propelled himself forward without the pain of his previous injuries.
   “Alleybackstreetpassagepassagewaylanepathwalkway.”
   By the fact he wasn't being shot, Coryn surmised that the area must have been deserted. He wondered if the sounds of battle could still be heard elsewhere, but the query could not be answered. The V.I.'s could only concentrate on survival.
   “Safehidingspotoutofthewayhiddensecretunknown.”
   Coryn wandered. Deeper and deeper into what he believed to be a maze of alleys near the city center. Thanks to MangaRaiders’ organic city planning, these alleys were nearly impossible to map. It would make for a good place to hide, at least for a while.
   “Safesafesafesafe.”
   “Hidehidehidehidehide.”
   “Buryburyburyburybury.”
   “Please…” Implored Coryn. “Zelda, Harrison, Rosa, Jaquelyn, Gaius… all of you, I can't understand…”
   “Drop.”
   It was Alice.
   Coryn complied. His legs were only supported by the stimulants, so he collapsed without complaint into was seemed to be a snowdrift.
   “Director, you need to work your way down. Bury yourself into the snow.”
   The ex-moderator set to work. He blindly burrowed deeper into the drift. It kept collapsing down on to him, but Alice urged him forward. Finally, he hit pavement again. Coryn had no doubt that there was at least three feet of snow on top of him.
   “Now what…?”
   Alice's voice came from inside his own head, but Coryn still felt like he could see the look on her face as he spoke. “Your body is too warm. The system is overwhelmed, so it has to vent the excess heat. We are working on it now. V.I.'s 26-47 are running defragmentation, the rest are busy re-coding and re-configuring systems. Things will get better as they work, but it will take time. All non-critical functions have been shut down. Right now we just need to focus on keeping you as cool as possible. At least until the heat ceases to be life threatening.”
   Coryn asked. “How long?”
   “A week.”
   It wasn't the answer Coryn wanted to hear, but Alice left no room for argument. Coryn relaxed his muscles, and let the snow soothe him. He could feel the heat he was radiating as it melted a cavity around his body. “MR will be gone by then…”
   Alice didn't know what to say. She didn't know if it was right to say anything, but after a few minutes, she decided something needed to be said. “It won't be. Not as long as we're alive.”


Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Coryn on March 10, 2019, 09:13:59 PM
And here it is! The final chapter of Invasion is at hand! Please enjoy, and stay tuned afterwards for a very special message!


CHAPTER 7: DIGNITY
CHAPTER 7: DIGNITY

Celebration. There was nothing like the final march into a city upon the dawn of its defeat. The rising columns of smoke, the smashed windows, and the cratered roads should have made for a somber scene, but was instead a confirmation of one simple fact. They were victorious.
   Veni.
   Vidi.
   Vici.
   4Kids had conquered. The banners hang over lamps and rooftops , ‘4K’ in the colors of the Lost Chorus. As far as the captive raiders went, the sight would wrench their hearts and tame their souls.

   A man in full military dress garb, with a blue mantle over his right shoulder looked upon this scene from a helicopter. He sat upright and still, like a stone statue. The slightest twitch of his mouth was the only indication of any deeper thoughts.
   If He could put it all into words, He would say only one: ‘Victory’. If He could say more he would say: ‘Another city fell’. Many sites had fallen in the time between the chorus’s long solitude on the Dark Web and their slow return to power. Much had been fought for, much had been invested into this moment. The Lost Chorus had been composing its symphony of doom for MangaRaiders for a long time, and the day had finally arrived. Finally, He would stand upon the podium and look down upon the soldiers who He'd directed unto this victory. They were the men and women who had earned this day of celebration. Despite all of His own efforts, they had done the fighting and dying. He was merely the mind at the center of the suffering flesh.
   Before He could think on the subject further, His lone companion in the hold of the helicopter interrupted. “Are you proud of your victory, General?”  4Kids-tan asked.
   The General looked at her, and his eyes gave away nothing in the shadow of his cap. “I am.”
   “You should be.”
   He looked at her thoughtfully. Looked at the collar on her neck. Things had necessitated containing her power. For the sake of victory, He had imprisoned the very embodiment of the concept that He served.
   “You do not resent me.” The General said. It was a statement, not a question.
   “Would it change the decisions you’ve made up until now,” She replied. “If I did resent you? Would it matter either way?”
   The General looked out at MR Tower. It had survived the opening battle with only minor damage. Flowing banners now hung from the roof, and mounted spotlights stood ready to light up the sky once night fell.
   “No, I would not.” He replied.
   The scene of the celebration would be at the base of the MR Tower. The plaza had been repaired in the last week, and neat rows of soldiers were assembled to receive Him. Tanks and various armored vehicles formed ordered walls to corral them. Utilitarian military tents were set up at the front of the plaza as a temporary command center for those still involved in clean-up. Even as the demonstration began, orders to suppress the populace and set up 4Kids’ new administration continued to be carried out.
   At the forefront of this: A raised stage. In a deliberate show of control it had been forged out of debris from the city. Rubble and shattered icons had been beaten and broken down into malleable data. It was the very stuff the moderators and administrators had used, bent to 4Kids’ will. Although crude, and only an imitation of the real thing, it was a potential symbol. The General had not needed special powers to control MangaRaiders. He needed only strength, and force of will.
   At the center of it all: A pulpit. Another 4Kids banner across its face. Behind this pulpit, five seats, and then rows of elite troops. Narcissus was at the center. He took the prime position as the field commander. A devilish smile split the major's face.
   From riggings on the face of the MR Tower, hanging just above the stage so they could be seen, hung the captured tans. Humiliation was also part of this celebration, and the display of important captives was a grand tradition the General saw fit to keep. Suspended in the specially designed cages which crackled with bolts of energy, the tans looked exactly as defeated as the General had hoped.
   The helicopter swooped in, its winds powerful enough to buffet the honour guard. Akan, Achan, Megedegik, Narcissus, and Pisti saluted the two passengers as they disembarked.
   “General, 4Kids-tan,” said Narcissus. “Welcome sir, they call your name.”
   “At ease,” the General said as the wind flourished his cape. Without a second glance, He turned and walked towards the pulpit. In truth it took only five measured strides for Him to reach it, but it was a sight to behold. Although solid, the dias had and ethereal quality to it, The General's footsteps were outlined in white as the distorted energy flowed freely upwards. Wisps of digital black smoke rose with each step.
   The flash of His feet on the floor, His confident gait, the propellers of the helicopter buffeting His rich cloak into infinite patterns reminiscent of a raging sea. The expression on his face like chiseled stone. It was the vision of a conqueror, painted by an impressionist who could see more than the physical presence of a man. And the General was more than just a man.
   To the men waiting for Him, He was like a hero in the legends of old.
   As the General reached the podium, the crowd of soldiers exploded into cheers. Their jubilation for their commander overwhelmed their discipline. The General allowed it. These moments we're good for moral, and they reminded the world that He was still unbreakable.
   He was the commander of the Lost Chorus. He was the Unbreakable General Bethuw'el.
   They began to chant.
   BETHUW’EL!
   BETHUW’EL!
   BETHUW’EL!
   BETHUW’EL!
   He stood at the pulpit and looked down upon the mass of soldiers. In his eyes he saw none of them, just their neat ranks, their effectiveness, their strategic might. In his eyes, he saw all of them, all the faces staring up at him with awe, their sense of duty, their loyalty. He saw those who were already thinking of going back to work. Those standing straight in the face of obvious injury, too proud to let themselves miss this moment. He saw a few he’d exchanged words with when the fighting blurred the lines between command and infantry, when he’d found himself in the thick of it. He saw them all and none at all.
   For a normal man, words would fail him. He, however, was General Bethuw’el.
   The great general patted the air, and then men fell silent in anticipation. Once no errant sounds remained to interfere, Bethuw’el began. “Soldiers, we have won!” His voice echoed across the multitude, and they cheered in victory. The general continued, raising his voice all the while to combat the jubilations of his men. “The world has changed! Suddenly, suddenly the universe itself, the Net, the entire fabric of this domain has changed! Because a few brave men did not give up! Because we understood what needed to be done, and we never forgot-!”  He held his right fist to his chest, then stretched it out palm-out to the right. From there he brought his arm up diagonally to the the apex of his reach. Finally, Bethuw’el balled his fist and brought it down to face level in the 4Kids salute.
   “Dignity!” He cried.
   There was a sea of precise rustling as the thousands and thousands of soldiers repeated the salute. And in one loud boom they answered,
   DIGNITY!
   And then they roared. They tossed their caps in the air. Black and silver confetti came down in an approximation of ash and snow, and music rose. Immediately gripping, immediately sombre, immediately glorious. A true rapture of sound.
   Bethuw’el capitalized on his moment. “Another city falls to the might of 4Kids! Another city is brought into the warmth of enlightenment that we hold so dear! MangaRaiders is ours! MangaRaiders belongs to the Lost Chorus! Together, we shall usher along its repentance, so it may join our glorious crusade! All hail!”
   The soldiers shouted back as one.
   ALL HAIL! ALL HAIL BETHUW’EL! ALL HAIL THE LOST CHORUS! ALL HAIL 4KIDS!
   As the men cried out, General Bethuw’el turned on his heel and walked back to the helicopter. It had remained at the ready throughout the speech and took off as soon as Bethuw’el stepped in. The general didn’t miss a step or beat as he clambered inside. 4Kids-tan was right behind him and equally light of foot. To Bethuw’el’s pleasure, he found Narcissus had already taken a seat inside as well.
   The major began with a polite nod. “General, a rousing speech as always. No matter how many times I hear you address the men, it always sends a shiver down my spine.”
   Bethuw’el waved the major off as the helicopter ascended to the top of MR Tower. “Dispense with the pleasantries Narcissus. Now tell me, how goes the operation?”
   Narcissus shook his head. “Uncle Joe will be of no use. We triggered a glitch in its system to rid ourselves of the administrators, but it doesn’t have the power to handle the rest. There’s only one thing for it now.”
   General Bethuw’el nodded in understanding. “Very well. Begin your hunt, Narcissus. Bring me their banhammer.”

   Coryn was cold. Nearly freezing. It was a good sign.
   His vision had slowly returned. Although all he could see was the white snow around him. He had built an ice hovel of sorts over the last week. It kept him from overheating, but more importantly, it kept him hidden.
   “Your temperature is down to one hundred and one degrees. It's not ideal, but it's the best we can do.” Said Alice.
   Coryn shook his head. “It's fine. I've had fevers worse than this. Is there anyone around?”
   After a quiet moment, Alice responded. “Your sensors aren't picking anything up. It's safe to move. But stay hidden. We still can't run your shields.”
   “Duly noted.”
   Coryn shimmied out of his hideout. He was deep in the downtown alleyways. A chilly wind cut through them and blew Coryn's coat and hair around. It was uncomfortable, but Coryn was happy to be back on his feet, if only barely.
   “Let's find a better place to hide.”
   He struck out, and after a short distance, found a side door into one of the many buildings that bordered the alley. It looked unused, so Coryn gave it a tentative tug. It creaked open, unlocked. With another look around, Coryn stole his way inside.
   A staircase led down into a musty basement. Dim sunlight filtered through papered over windows just below the ceiling. Coryn took in his surroundings, and was surprised to find some signs of life. He dropped down upon sighting them. There didn't seem to be anyone around, but he couldn't risk soldiers discovering him. Coryn took in the sight. There were a pair of cots up hidden amongst some boxes. Empty cans we're strewn about, and a single burner propane stove sat in the middle of it all. Coryn crept a little closer, and once he felt assured that no one was around, he stood back up.
   That was when it hit him.
   'It’ being a two-by-four.
   Coryn hit the ground, the wind knocked out of him by a solid blow to the back. Adrenaline pushed the ex-moderator to spin around just in time to take a blow to the arm. Thankfully, it also let his attackers recognize him.
   Devola and Vacant were looking down at Coryn, shock clear on their faces. “Coryn!” Vacant shout-whispered. “You're not dead!”
   Coryn hauld in enough breath to speak. “Am I supposed to be?”
   “Yeah,” Said Devola as he helped Coryn back to his feet. “That’s what the posters said. Supposedly all of the mods and administrators were killed in the fighting.”
   “Well I'm not, at least.” Said Coryn. “Hopefully that means the others aren't either. Where's everybody else?”
   Vacant motioned for the scientist to sit down, and they all took a seat. “Well, a lot of people got out during the fighting. But somehow they're controlling all the incoming and outgoing traffic, so the rest of us are stuck here.” He took a second to compose himself before continuing. “Of that number, well, if you're good and don't cause any trouble, they let you wander freely, more or less. Plenty of soldiers and cameras though, so you’re never exactly out of sight.”
   “And the people who do cause trouble?” Asked Coryn.
   “Reeducation camps.” Replied Devola. “They aren't pretty. We were on our way to one when we managed to get away. Most weren't as lucky.”
   The ex-moderator’s head fell. Coryn sighed and rubbed his temple. The V.I.'s were making a ruckus over this information, but he shooed away their comments the best he could. Once all fell quiet, and he had a moment to think for himself, Coryn looked back up to his fellow raiders. “Alright, let's see what we can do about that. This war isn't over yet.”

   Fro had been hearing voices.
   He wasn’t sure who they were or how long they had been speaking, but even in the midst of fighting to regain consciousness, he could hear the different vocal inflections floating in and out of his ears.
   “Is this really a good place to lay low?” He barely heard one voice say. “This place is a bit too crowded to consider it a hiding spot.”
   He couldn't pick up on exact words. After all his mind had been a blurry mess. In between fading in and out of consciousness, and struggling to remember what exactly had happened to him, piecing together sentences was a bit of a stretch. All he could do was listen and wonder.
   “It’s called blending in, ribbit.” Said another voice, jumping in. “And besides, we can always move him later if we need to.”
   Fro could feel his body being shifted from side to side, albeit barely. In those briefs moments of consciousness he felt an agonizing numbness all over him. Jolts of pain shot up his spine every time he tried to come to his senses, as if refusing his desire to wake up. And as if that wasn’t enough, it burned. Fro didn’t know what burned and why it did, but he could feel an inferno scratching his insides alive. It made him want to stay where he was. Exactly where he was. More importantly, it encouraged him to give up, and he did.
   “We'll protect you, Mister Coach. Rest easy okay?”
   That voice was the last one he heard before his mind faded to black once again. That one in particular felt gentle, heartwarming almost. Even if he couldn't tell who was speaking, for some reason he felt they could be trusted. Fro let his eyes fall shut for good this time, allowing his body to do the same. Hopefully, when and if he wakes up again, those voices he had been hearing would be there to assure him of his good sense of judgement.

   It wasn’t easy to explain the situation to the few raiders who sought refuge behind the pearly gates of EcchiWorld. For lack of a better word, the raiders who came through all looked haunted. They lacked a certain innocence, or light. 4Kids had snuffed it out, at least for the time being. After having run off  of pure adrenaline for so long, Mahlua suddenly felt exhausted. It was like the war caught up with her. Later that night, she had a meeting with the Twins, briefing the specifics on the course of action they wanted to take to protect the city. And then, time seemed to warp around her, and so she was once again in their presence.
   “According to the information we’ve been able to round up, we will have to further restrict entry and exit to the city,” Lewd-tan began. Her thumb nail found its way between her teeth for a moment as she collected her thoughts. “4Kids forces have been sighted along common netways between porn sites and the like. The most detrimental thing for us would be for them to discern any viable connection between us and them. But it seems small parties have already started making a ruckus from PornHub all the way to E621.”
   The silence that followed was deafening. The head funk made it difficult enough for Mahlua to think, let alone process the kind of crazy it would take to try to launch an attack on either of the big names mentioned. The witch rested her forehead in her hand, elbow on the table.
   “O-of course, we can’t be certain that these aren’t rogue factions riding on the name of 4Kids unofficially, but it’s safest to assume that there is a connection, even if they aren’t under the same direct chain of command.” Ecchi-tan added. Her red eyes shifted from her sister to the raider and back again. Both of them looked like unmoving statues, so she continued.
   “Going incognito and even breaking some of the possible data-points of entry is the best we can do for now. I know that I really hate to do that to our people when our population is already so low, but at least it will keep them safe. That’s our responsibility as the tans of EcchiWorld. This is our little slice of heaven, and I’ll be damned if we let that illusion fall.”
   “So what exactly do you guys want me to do?” Mahlua blurted with annoyance.
   Ecchi-tan blinked in surprise. Normally Mahlua was so…reverent towards them. The pitch of anger in her tone, slight though it was, felt out of character. Ecchi-tan went to speak up about it, but the sight of Lewd-tan adjusting her glasses halted her.
   “To put it simply, I believe a good watch dog is in order,” Lewd-tan explained.
   If the room was heavy before, it became unwieldy with the blunt force and coldness of the statement. Ecchi-tan seriously wished it were a different kind of tension that threatened to burst at the seams. At least that would have been the funny kind of awkward.
   Mahlua clenched her fist and set her jaw. After the Tower incident, she just knew there would always be more to the Twins’ plans for her than they could ever be bothered to explain. The mission before her already radiated danger at the surface level, and the witch dreaded all the hidden, and more than likely horrendous dangers that rested under all that. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust them. If anything, what got her gears grinding was being called a dog. It made her realize just how much she worked like one for them.
   That was it. It made it feel like work, rather than an adventure.
   Once she identified the source of her unease, Mahlua let out a long sigh.
   “Well, hope you’ll settle for a guard hedgehog.”

   Lego was down in the dumps.
   Or at least, he was down in the sewers.
   He would have prefered the dump.
   The ex-moderator was with his back against a the greasy concrete wall. Megedegik and Achan had knocked him around something fierce, but Megedegik, as always, had more brawn than brains. The demon had sent him flying into the ground, and then through it. In the confusion, Lego had beat a retreat. The cat had been resting up in his new found abode ever since.
   Well, the human had. Legoc was nowhere to be seen.
   “Damn cat.” Cursed Legoh.
   They had physically split apart right after descending. It was easier on both their souls to be in two pieces instead of one. But Legoc had slunk off a few days earlier, muttering something about fish living in the sewers. And as much as he wanted to, Legoh couldn’t blame his other half. He hadn’t had anything to eat for a week aside from the occasional skewered rat. It was an abysmal state, but it was surely better than whatever 4Kids had in mind for him. They didn’t take kindly to the people who opposed them. Legoh knew that from personal experience. As the former moderator of an enemy site, Legoh didn’t have his hopes up for much more than a short drop and a sudden stop.
   “Bastards…” Grunted Legoh as he righted himself. Legoc or not, food or not, he needed to get his bearings on the situation.
   Either Lego was going to live long enough to see 4Kids ground back into dust, or he was going to die trying.

   So where were you, when MR fell?
   Were you there amongst the crowd, hiding in plain sight, saluting the very person responsible for the fall of the place you know as home?
   Were you being marched to your prisons, all your defiant strength reduced to nothing but impotence?
   Were you out there looking for hope? Biding your time for some miraculous return, even though there was no guarantee that any such thing could happen?
   Were you dead? Crushed by debris? Forgotten and unmourned, one of the multitude of victims of a war that should never have even concerned you?
   Were you in a forcefield cage? Once the ruler of this city, this world. The guardian of this place, the goddess, if you may dare say? Powerless, with a collar around your neck? Powerless, and stuck between gnawing pain and bone-shivering fury?  As you contemplated the pillaging of your very city? As you thought about all the things this place had survived? Thinking about how given the chance you would crush the necks  of those who-?

   “It’s going to be OK, Writer.”
   Writer-tan didn’t even have the emotional strength to look up at MR-tan. But she replied all the same,
   “You don’t sound like you believe it.”
   “We have to.” MR said, her voice so choked with emotion that Writer-tan felt compelled to look at her. MR-tan’s eyes were puffy, but there was a small light in them.
   “We have no other choice.”



'Credits' music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUQiUFZ5RDw

Credits:
So I just want to take a quick moment to thank everyone who has worked so hard on this project! Mahlua has really given her all during a tough time in her own life, and I am eternally grateful to her for it! Fro is busy working hard with his job to make it in this world, and it has been great having his work in this story, and his ear when we needed to talk story beats through! Lego, despite his short availability on this project, has always given 100% when he was able to contribute, and the story would not be the same without him!

For my own part, I apologize to my fellow co-writers for messing with their words as head editor. It's always hard when others try and improve on what you've done, but I always did my best to keep the soul of what you created intact, while easing it into a more or less shape with the rest of the story.

Thank you too to all our readers! This is an odd one, with most of the main MR Canon readers being behind the scenes on the project, but I hope that our ramblings have proved entertaining to those not as well versed as we are. War Arc is really pushing to be accessible to all, and I hope we have accomplished that! Let us know!

Finally, I want to announce that MR: War Arc will continue! If the downer ending didn't give it away, the story has quite a ways to go! Please look forward to a series of stories from each of us that will release throughout 2019! I truly love all of you beautiful people, and I wouldn't want to spend my internet time with anyone else!

Oh, and this is an open invitation to anyone reading! If reading War Arc has sparked your interest in MR Canon, feel free to reach out and get in contact with any of the writers of War Arc! Each an every one of us would love to coach you and help you get into the canon! MR Canon is a truly collaborative project, and we welcome all comers!

Once again, my heartfelt thanks to all of you. You are what makes MR beautiful. May that never change!

Let's kick some Lost Chorus ass! Cheers!
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: MahluaandMilk on March 11, 2019, 08:37:23 AM
I'm just glad that I committed to something and followed through, especially with a community that I care about.

For the curious, I think I know which scene Coryn is referring to with the editing. I playfully joke about being bitter with the changes made to a scene of mine which was initially more graphic, but as head editor, it is his job to ensure consistent voice and direction. Nothing to apologize for there, if that's the case, since that is in the job description for you.

Anyway, whew, we finally made it. Now we got a whole nother Arc or two to fill. Let's keep up the productivity, guys!
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: devola on March 11, 2019, 09:10:31 AM
Congrats guys! It was cool watching your workflow and it's even cooler now that it's all here and (for the time being) complete. Definitely gonna give this a read through over the week.
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Coach Fro on March 13, 2019, 11:46:26 PM
Man this was a ride I'll tell ya...

Now that this is over I want to share something with you all.

When Coryn first presented this idea to Lego, Mahlua and myself, I was totally excited and eager to hop aboard as part of the writing team. However, there was a very tiny portion inside of me that was nervous and somewhat fearful, for lack of a better word. Mainly it was due to two things: One, this was my first ever group writing project, so naturally that alone can cause some anxiety, and two, I have commitment issues when it comes to finishing stories and I didn't want to be the guy to hold the team back in any way. As you can guess, I put a lot of pressure on myself pretty early.

But as time went on I got more comfortable with my writing and all those insecurities I had early on pretty much faded away. Of course, there were still times where I felt like my writing wasn't the best, but Coryn and the others were there to assure me that I was doing just fine. The support they showed me meant a lot to me, and that's sort of the subject I want to speak on.

Through working on this project I've grown as a writer and improved in areas that I felt was lacking in. Working with a team motivated me to step my game up and produce the best work I possibly could, and have fun while doing it. So fellow writers of MR, if you're reading this I want you to remember one important thing:

Don't be afraid to get out there and work together with your fellow writers to produce something amazing. I  couldn't even begin to count the amount of group writing projects I missed out on over the years because I felt like I wasn't good enough, or somehow tricked myself into believing that I didn't have the time. Seriously man, there are some good writers on this damn forum, and I truly believe that if we can get together more often then we can produce a goldmine's worth of stories, whether it be canon related or not.

But that's it from me man. Shout outs to everyone who helped created this one of a kind of story, and shout outs to everyone who took the time to read all of this. Hopefully this story can draw more people into MR canon and inspire them to start writing for it. Lets keep this train going guys! Still got a long ways to go.   
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: legomaestro on March 14, 2019, 05:26:49 AM
Full disclosure: I was that guy in the group project that slacked and had everyone else carry his weight. The thing is the project was planned miles in advance, and the communication has always been on point. If anything, I've at least learnt how convenient such things can be if you ever want to try them out. There's no need for sphagetti chains of emails or PMs and long ass threads to discuss minute details when you have a discord and google docs set up. This ish is super nifty. Welcome to the future.

That being said reading the chapters as they came along without being too involved in them had one advantage: I could truly, truly enjoy them as a first sight sort of thing, and the writing has been great! It's so interesting seeing how everyone approaches their scenes and descriptions.

Also screw Akan and Achan have broken my heart forever the end.
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Coryn on March 14, 2019, 07:50:16 AM
@Fro: I'm glad we could help! And I'm glad you had such a good time working on this collaboration. I loved it as well, although this is definitely a successful collaboration at the end of a long line of failures for me. Failure is a great teacher though. It was all those times that things didn't work out that helped ensure this one survived.

@Lego: there's plenty of War Arc still to come friend. I expect you to redeem yourself on the battlefield! Lol

PS: sorry for the heartbreak. It had to be done.
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: legomaestro on March 14, 2019, 02:31:06 PM
Oh that I shall.


Also inspired by the ending of the Invasion Arc

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VYz6DvVR4D1-RSRAIyE-3G_CSNHGq5jO/view?usp=sharing

Quote
Black confetti falls down today

Veni vidi vici they say

With Pride they call his name

Bethuw'el Bethuw'el Bethuw'el Bethuw'el

Black confetti falls down today
there won't be drinks at the pub today
in the debris of this city
the fallen they crawl quietly away

Black confetti falls today
you traitors, you bastards, OK
every dog has their day
but we'll be back and make you pay
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: Coryn on March 14, 2019, 10:15:57 PM
Nice song Lego! It also works very well as just a poem too I think.

I suppose that means War Arc is officially a multi-media property.
Title: Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
Post by: MahluaandMilk on March 14, 2019, 10:52:43 PM
Well dang. Look at that being all nice and official. Now I'm tempted to like, make an anime-like opening theme for it. But I still suck at music.
Title: MR War Arc Invasion: Lego
Post by: legomaestro on April 09, 2020, 10:10:06 AM
MR WAR ARC: LEGO

1 Legoh - Clear Night
Spoiler
It was a cold and lonely spring night in MR, and that suited Legoh just fine. His head felt like elephants had been tap dancing there, throwing nails, singing annoying kindergarten songs that were too happy and too upbeat for how wasted he felt.
     It almost felt as bad as when Megadegik had punched him in the head. The bastard. He would have his revenge. He felt it then again - that ache-spark. That utter inspiration and sense of direction and purpose that meant that he would absolutely, eventually rise up to the occasion, rejoin with Legoc, regain his fighting spirit and destroy 4kids where it stood.
     He chuckled to himself, knowing that he was telling himself yet another lie. He tucked his hands in the pockets and walked down an alley way that was all too familiar, over to the sombre welcoming light of his favourite watering hole, the MR Pub.
     It had been renovated. Looked a lot more modern than the homely rustic look it used to have. It had a lot more glass and fancy lighting. Like the emblems of the invaders that Legoh sometimes saw around, this felt like another violation that compounded his misery.
     Despite these changes, however, the powers that be had let the name of the pub stand. It was under new management and didn’t have Pub-tan serving familiar patrons, but at least the population of 4kids soldiers was miniscule if not non-existent.
     Nevertheless, Legoh walked in here in his new look - utterly bald and without spectacles, with a slight modification to his jawline using femtomachines to make his face unique enough so as not to be identifiable.     
     If he rose suspicion, a thorough check would reveal who he was, but he hadn’t been doing much to warrant that kind of attention. He’d only been mostly guzzling whatever the bar had to offer and making a fool of himself. Between horrible karaoke, lost poker games and getting kicked out of the pub due to curfew or general craziness, nobody expected much from the local bald drunk in a trenchcoat who called himself Mister Mann.
     Well, Mister Mann was going to have a ‘clear night’ today - transparent alcohol only. Vodka and all its friends. It was Wednesday, after all. Wednesday was always a ‘clear night’.
     The small bell rang as he stepped on the hardwood floor, and a few heads glanced his way,
     “Hey, Mister Mann! You singing with us today?”  Haru, an orange haired young 4kids recruit in a white sailor’s outfit raised his beer glass at Legoh.
     “Time will tell.” Legoh - Mister Mann - replied in his horrible approximation of a Jamaican accent.
     For all his hate for 4kids, the kid was okay. He had some obscure apprenticeship with a Data Miner. Data Miners were highly trained but unfortunate souls tasked with excavating and exploring the bowels of Mangaraiders and recovering whatever useful information they could from the remains of the labyrinth that was Coryn’s lab. Odds of death or worse were at 64% if Legoh remembered correctly - Haru had talked about it once in his eternally cheerful voice. The kid was smart though, and his commanding officer seemed to be one of the best.
     “Ola, Mann-san.” Said another voice.
     “Hi.”
     He shared more greetings as he sat at his stool. (It had ducttape on its legs because he’d broken it falling off.) Alice the bartender looked at him with her bored expression,
     “Vodka?” She asked. The bottle was already in her hand.
     “You know me so well.”
     “Don’t puke this time.”.
     “Cross my bleeding heart behbeh.” Legoh winked and took his first shot for the day.
He took it, whispering the names of all his friends - family - that were missing or dead. It was the only few seconds he risked sparing thoughts about the others before he focused on the matters of drink. He couldn’t risk any more than that- It hurt too much and annoyed him.
     Finished with that secret toast, Legoh glanced around the pub. Some stools were filled, some groups were huddled together in conversation and other than Haru, he didn’t notice any 4kids troops. He recognized one Raider he hadn’t expected to survive the attack, but hadn’t talked to him even after the city had fallen.     
     There was even a guest spectre he knew.
     All in all, there were many people in the pub at this time of the night.
     Ah, there was Harley Diamond, who was unfortunately a stripper. Unfortunate in that Legoh had to try extra hard not to bleed from his nose - that’d increase his chances of being discovered. Short jet black hair, Blue headphones, a short leather top and skirt and a bosom blessed by the gods, Legoh had to drink himself into a coma when he realised she had a cat tail as well.
     Though severely discriminated against, kemomimis had a level (a very, very low level) of freedom to exist in the city. Legoh had no idea there were anything like kemomimis. In fact, after the invasion of 4kids more than the city becoming one flat sea of featureless soldiers hell bent on their ideology, it seemed to have filled up with quite a mix of different characters that hadn’t even been present in MR City at the time.
There was CopyCop the cyborg chef, trying to start a restaurant in “this hell hole of a city with no sense of taste.”
     There was Utter the drunkard pirate poltergeist who Legoh always challenged to a drinking match. They shared stories of lives at sea. Legoh had the advantage (read: Trauma) of knowing what it was like to be a pirate, so they got along pretty swell.
     Legoh was seven shots in before the emotions finally started kicking in. This was the point of the evening that would decide which way his night would swing: Would he be a happy drunk, singing and talking to everyone? Would he sink in to the waiting warm arms of despair, the one that made him cold and crushed and more than alone? Wrapped up in self pity and a sickened anger? Would he be philosophical and empty, nihilistically void of any emotion and able to - for a blessed few moments before he had to puke - just be a part of the canvas that was a bar? Just an odd Mister Mann at a counter staring empty at nothing? He hated and loved every facet of his drunken self, but he found them interesting too. They were a good way to pass the time, when you had utterly lost and been betrayed.
     “God-damn you 4kids.” Legoh muttered under his breath.
     He froze.
     Alice was staring at him,
     “Say that a little louder please. Get yourself arrested.” She commented.
     “You heard nothing.”
     “Uh-huh. You think you should call it a night? Looks like you’re going to have an emo-bender this time.”
Legoh grinned, “You know me so well. Nah. One more shot and then we’ll see. I’m feeling lucky.”
     Alice, with her itrulydontgiveaDamnWhatyoudowithyourlifesolongasyoudontmesswithMine - expression turned and served the other customers. Legoh meanwhile practically inhaled his last shot and started seeing colours. He was thankful that his femtomachines were still out of wack. He could really get buzzed these days.
     Time cut to him being at a table with Haru again, slapping the teenager on the shoulder and laughing like a madman. He tried to follow another critical rant by CopyCop on the lack of good cuisine in the city, sang a pirate song

What will we do with a drunken sailor
What will we do with a drunken sailor
What will we do with a drunken sailor
Early in the morning!
[/i]
     Time cut to him peeing in the pub toilet and humming the song. A man told him to shut up and he laughed.

Way hay and up she rises
Way hay and up she rises
Way hay and up she rises
Early in the morning!
     He danced a jig on a relatively free space on the pub, joined by two other scruffy men and the poltergeist. Tiffany stepped up and danced along with them. The floorboards blammed and trammed at the sound of their beating legs.
     And then, when people were just about to leave and Legoh was a hopeless mess hugging a wooden round table and drinking his last vodka from a bottle - knowing his future self would curse him for this - he was murmuring in an approximation of a conversation with Haru, equally drunk.
     “What?”  Legoh slurred.
     “They found something called a forge haha.” Haru chuckled. But it was a half-hearted chuckle. He seemed off, somehow. Or maybe Legoh was off and too drunk.
Struggling to keep to his fake accent but failing even more miserably, Legoh looked up at him,     
     “Forge?”
Haru looked at him, then looked around in that too-obvious way that people who are about to share a secret do then he leaned in,
     “It’s foreign architecture. It’s… Not from the city itself. Or maybe it is, but it’s built… Different.”
     “A forge that’s built differently. “ Legoh chuckled, “Sorry, Haru, I have no idea what we’re talking about right now.”
     He leaned back and felt his brain protest. He slumped onto the table again and gripped it for stability,
     “Oh Haruhi I am going to hurl.”
Haru ignored him and looked into his beer, “Captain says it’s what they used to make the Banhammer. Or at least, it’s filled with adminatorium.”
     The black essence of moderation. The code that could warp reality. Legoh sobered up a tick and felt his heart pounding, but strangely enough felt more apprehension than anything.
     “You should go home, Haru.” He chuckled to try to add humour, “Let’s talk about something else. Work is boooring.”
     “I’m going to be with Captain tomorrow but I’m scared. I don’t know. I think there’s no traps or anything but… That much power. I didn’t see any of the fighting here, but I know a lot of people died and I think… I don’t know… Haha.”  Haru chuckled half-heartedly, and a silence fell between them.
     Legoh had no idea how to proceed. Thankfully, the rising gorge up his throat gave him the perfect excuse. He almost made it to the bathroom before he spewed his guts, and Alice kicked him out with her patented Football drop kick.
     Lego landed out on the street, hazy and aching, but his eyes held a glint all of the sudden. It was the sharp glint of a wolf that just saw a hunk of raw meat. In his haggard form he looked terrifying. In his chest he was terrified - terrified of the hope that something like a secret forge could give him.     
     He looked at his hand and felt his femtomachines stir within his blood. He felt something wash over him, he felt something fall from his eyes, and in that instance - he knew exactly what he must do.



2 Legoc - Vigilante

Spoiler
Legoc was furious. Legoh had let him down for the last time, and he was done being practical about the whole situation. He swore, MR saved or not, he would never team up with that part of him ever again. He needed to forge a path for himself that wasn’t tied down by the drunkard moody whims of that side of him.
Not that he didn’t enjoy a drink or two.
     In fact, he was taking one now as he sat in the “Literature Bloc” (once known as The Writers’ District’) and reviewed countless works made by Raiders over the years using Kaos Kubes. All these stories, these creations that barely qualified as fiction because of their ability to become real living breathing worlds were now being analysed, dissected and censored according to the regulations set by 4kids.
     From what Legoc knew about this, it was a completely new initiative from 4kids. They usually worked on a military basis: The utter destruction and annihilation of any community that celebrated and supported manga and anime. Before bankruptcy things had been different. They’d taken part in manga and anime distribution with their caveat of censorship. Now they were back at the game, with a new twist. Rumour had it that they were not only producing censored work, but looking to create original new material under a wholly new name and brand. Safe, non-lewd, non-controversial original entertainment that educated future generations about the correct things in culture to enjoy and how to differentiate between bad words and good words.
     Legoc was not one of these new agents in training. He was part of the Corrections Department that only catalogued the creations of the Raiders and sent them along the conveyor belt for their packaging and processing. However even this work made him sick, albeit nostalgic.
     “Halloween Nights… Takeo. Haven’t seen him in ages. Spellcooks by Austadophilus… Haven’t seen her in a while.”
     He input the appropriate keys and catalogued their genres and color coded them for how urgent they needed censorship. Going through training had only been a matter of ingesting a pill with a neural download that told him all about what 4kids wanted on the job. Thank Haruhi for technology. It made getting this cover job that much easier.
     As for the matter of being a green alien cat… Femtomachines son. He’d changed his fur black and his eyes dark brown. He shaved his hair too. His disguise was a bit more elaborate, but he had to make do with still being a cat. Kemomimi were sub-citizens in this new age, but they could still get a job if they stayed in line.
     Legocs’ days were taken completely up by his work and navigating the office life. It fascinated him how easily he sunk into this. Even though he wanted to crush his deskmates’ head in his fist and eviscerate his manager with the high-pitched voice and sneering demeanour, even though he wanted to fight Megedekik and destroy Narcissus and General Bethuw’el, he knew that he couldn’t.
     He just wasn’t strong enough. He’d even considered saving some of the works that were being catalogued and censored, preserving them somehow, but his defeat was deeper than the superficial lack of strength. Something in his soul had been defeated. It was depressing seeing the victory of 4Kids every day, seeing how well they’d conquered the land. It made him almost wish they’d been destroyed fighting. Going out in a blaze of glory was better than having a new world built on top of the ashes of the one that you knew.
     Because he was miles away from being a strategist, the best he could do was try to be patient and wait. Because he knew one thing: No Raider had truly given up just yet. They were surviving. And soon surviving would turn to fighting, and when they were all ready… Then maybe then.
     Maybe even Legoh would grow balls during the interim.
     After some time, Legoc got into the routine. He even took a strange pride in cataloguing the work. For the first time in a while he really was acting like the moderator of the Writers’ District as he had originally been charged. He found stories he’d even forgotten to think about before MR got invaded, so that was a boon. Legoc couldn’t wait to rub this fact into Legoh’s face when he was done.
     In his down time Legoc would’ve loved to sit on rooftops and survey the city, but they all tended to be heavily guarded, so he made do with the old Haruhi church in the MR Park. Long gone were its garish walls filled with images of the goddess. Now it was a featureless stone thing that served as a ‘Museum of Manga and Anime.’ A totally heartless, innocuous thing that was more of a showcase of 4kids previous work during their bureaucratic days than a place of worship.

Ignoring all that, it was open to all, and though not as towering as a skyscraper, its central steeple was perfect to look out at the park and some of the city from. Legoc always went up there at the end of a long work week to reminisce and to keep his anger in check.
Because no matter how much he got into his routine, he would never stop being angry.
Pok.
     A paper aeroplane hit him on his nose.
     Legoc hissed and grabbed the thing, but missed.
     It floated backwards out of his reach and unfurled itself into a paper. On its surface written in black was,
     “The Sentai Live.”
     Legoc felt a shudder down his spine.
     The note folded itself into a plane and floated away, going down the stairs and vanishing from sight. Legoc followed it.
     It always stayed just out of sight enough not to be seen by passerbys but enough for Legoc’s sharp eyes to pick it up. He followed it across roads and streets, seemingly at random. Finally he happened upon a red phone booth.
     Legoc looked left and right before entering it, and it lit up with a blue light and a scanner that ran over his form.
     “Sentai 009 confirmed. Are you ready to batto!?”
     Legoc was suddenly blinded by green light and felt himself floating in infinite space - quite naked - as a theme song played and he found himself making poses.
     “SENTAI NINE! READY TO BATTO!”
     All of a sudden he found himself in green armour with a helmet and a red scarf tied around his neck. And he was standing in the middle of a street, quite in view of a view 4kids officers on night patrol.
    “What the hell-!?” Started one.
     Legoc ran as fast as he could.  He felt light, somehow, and quite terrified.
     “Hey-stop! Captain, this is Unit 0411, we’ve spotted a - ” 
     But he was gone in the next few moments.
     “Was that one of those weirdo vigilantes? The ones in armour?” Said one of the officers, panting hard after running so much.
     “Yeah. They’re pretty damn weird though. They usually just appear and run away. And even when they fight… Well you’ll have to see it to believe it. They’re more of a nuisance than anything. Just keep on your toes.”
     “Huh.”   
     Legoc - Sentai 009 took a moment to collect his breath, observing the outfit he was in. Of course. The MR Sentai program. Someone must’ve revived it, somehow. That meant that there was already a rebellion in place. Of course there’d be. There were plenty of other things going on MR without the head administration. All sorts of teams and projects and stories. Heck, he knew that better as anyone, working in the Literature Bloc.
     4kids had been more focused on the major groups and heavy hitters that this string of heroes must’ve survived somehow. Even during the peaceful days he’d forgotten about it.
He clenched his hand even as a theme song played in his head.
     This was a chance to fight back. 

3- The Forge

Spoiler
Legoh got over his hangover and followed Haru to the dig site. It was easy enough.
Stalking was in fact, Legoh’s speciality. You don’t drive a black van around attempting to kidnap people without learning one thing or two about stealth. Haru never had a chance: At the break of dawn Legoh wore a non-standard black hoodie hoodie instead of his trenchcoat and set out to follow the 4kids. He wasn’t counting on his outfit helping with his stealth: He’d use the his van-tactics and the crash course in Ninjaology that he’d picked up from Coryns’ student everlastin (wherever she was.)
    At this point, going underground was as familiar as taking a walk to Legoh. Being lost in the catacombs that Coryn had constructed over an already cavernous underground made it easy for him. But they were going deeper than he’d ever expected. Haru was with his captain: A surprisingly beautiful woman with purple hair and a horn growing on the center of her forehead. She looked sleep deprived, and yet had a sad smile on her face. For a 4kids Captain she looked very anime, but the rapier on her belt emanated an ominous energy. Legoh’s instincts told him she wasn’t as powerful as the others in The Chorus, but she was competent and dangerous enough to warrant keeping an eye out for.
    Haru, his captain and five other faceless mooks were with them. They were literally faceless. In another stroke of unfortunate genius, 4kids had taken to conscripting Guest spectres and pressing them into their service. Legoh had no doubt that they were doing something about spam ninjas as well. 4kids was all about using everything to their own gains. They were glorified recycling bins.
    The dig site was guarded by no less than a regiment of about 40 people. The entrance to the place was an ominous looking metal scaffolding surrounding a hole with a saucer shaped elevator. Haru and The Captain showed their identification and were let through. They were already getting on the elevator, and Legoh wanted on. It was going to be tricky getting past all of them, but he’d had a plan.
    “Legobunshin-no-jutsu!” He whispered as he made a hand sign. No, he did not know ninjutsu, but as a fun little side project he’d taught his femtomachines to react to certain handgestures to execute certain forms and programs without him thinking about them. The ‘Legobunshin-no-jutsu’ was programmed, as expected, to make shadow clones that all sang the nyan song as they floated in the air. It was supposed to be used for a joke, and was a perfect distraction.
    The guard reacted as expected
    “Hey!”
    “What is that god-awful music?”
    In the midst of their confusion and even as they called for backup, Legoh refleted twice and got into the elevator. He set off an alarm as he passed through the gates, but he was counting on his diversion to be the one responsible.
    But he hadn’t thought it through about finding a hiding place. The interior of the elevator was quite boring - it was simply a room. And now he was surrounded by Haru, his captain and four 4kids guestmooks.
    “Um… Hi?”
    “Mister Mann… I- is that you?” Haru asked.
    Legoh scratched his chin, “Well, I seem to be lost - hahaha- YOW!”
    He ducked just in time to avoid the rapier blade that thrust out to impale him.
    “You...  You’re not as you seem.” The woman said, thrusting the blade some more.
    Legoh dodged as he spoke, “I - have- no idea what you’re talking about. AHA” He yelled  in triumph as he gripped the blade.
    The 4kids captain was almost apologetic,
    “You… touched the blade.”
    “Yeah, so?”
    The whole room warped around Lego, he felt himself become naked on a fundamental level. In fact, he looked at his arms as they became see-through with mathematical grid lines all over them. There were red points all over his body. The Captain struck one on his arm and he felt his arm die, even as a beautiful multicoloured explosion rippled down his now transparent-grid form.
    “Ah… What the…”
    “Sleep.” The captain said as she struck him on his forehead. The last thing Legoh saw was her glowing purple eyes and Haru watching on with concern on his face.

They were somewhere deeper than they’d ever been before. Legoh could feel it in the air. It felt - wrong. Well if he had to physically describe it then it was like being in a gravitational chamber, or under the effects of Coryns’ Bankai Plimmyrismeno Potami Epistaxis!
    He coughed and looked at his arms again. He was still transparent, and his arms were both dead. He could still stand up, though.
    “Heavy…” Said the Captain. She was standing on nothing. Come to think of it they were all standing in a mauve darkness. The only sense of ‘room’ was the white shadows that the surface cast where they stood. But then Legoh understood that the area was not dark... No when he looked closer wasn't this pretty much like a city? Yes, those were windows, that was a road, that was a bin, a side-walk, a curb. It felt like MR, but different, somehow.
    Other than The Captain there was only Haru, and he was breathing heavily as he drooped. He was still standing, though. The guestmooks were nowhere to be seen.
    The Captain didn’t look at Legoh as she spoke. She was busy holding out her Rapier towards what Legoh thought was a dead end on a street alleyway, and a white beam of light was burning through the wall. It impacted across the surface in a flurry of white sparks, and it was clearly slow work, but it was chipping away at the darkness. Haru was holding up a device that let off a rythimic peeping sound, exactly like Sonar. He glanced worridly at Legoh,
    “Mister Mann… To think that you were a rebel.”
    Legoh smiled,
    “I’m going to say something I never thought I’d say: But being a rebel is subjective. “
    “His name is not Mister Mann.... He’s the one and only legomaestro. Or rather his human half.” The Captain said. She had sweat on her brow as she focused her rapiers’ powers, “Tell me, do you know about this place? The Forge?”
    Legoh focused on collecting what femtomachines he had in him, but their production had been halted by whatever this woman had struck him with. His body felt frozen in stasis, and he felt like every single thing he did was known intimately to her.
    “Yes. I did. Somewhere.”
    In a bar, by her subordinate, but even though he was a 4kids soldier, Legoh didn’t feel like throwing his drinking buddy into trouble.
    “It’s something that no foreign forum has ever been able to obtain. In fact it’s something that’d break Internet Law. Something that could destroy 4kids completely if we ever obtained it…” The Captain said. There was a dreamy expression on her face, “But with my powers ‘to strip bare’ and ‘to see’. If I… If we manage to obtain a banhammer from a foreign forum, then there will be hope for more than this place. We’ll be able to obtain power and spread the light of 4kids everywhere. We’ll paint the world clean.” She chuckled.
    “Monologuing. Jeez. Why don’t you throw me in a prison already?”
    “That’s because I wanted to test a theory. Look, you’ve already gotten used to the atmosphere here right? Our soldiers dissociated by the mere pressure of the place. Only Haru is strong enough to accompany me.” The Captain said, pausing for a moment. She was breathing heavily.
    She raised a hand and smoky strands of black coiled around her fingers, “Moderatium is something that you’ve gotten used to wielding. And now that I’ve struck you with my blade, I’ll be able to understand what exactly makes you able to withstand this. Count yourself lucky you didn’t land in the hands of one of the scientists. This way, ther’ll be no need to dissect you for me to bestow your bodies’ characteristics upon the others.”
    Legoh did indeed feel less pressure from the surroundings,
    “You’ve got our tans’ in tow. And the stuff a moderator is made of is nothing compared to what an Administrator has.”
    “Yes, well, we both know they’re no administrators around, don’t we?” The Captain said, and Legoh snapped.
    He lunged at her, throwing a punch.
    She dodged it quite easily and struck more red points on his arms. This time they literally disassociated. With another punch she stopped his heart, and Legoh collapsed, gasping for air as the last of his femtomachines repaired the damage. He lie there on the ground. Something he’d been getting used to in the past few days.
    The Captain smiled as she slashed at the darkness before her.
    “I’m finished.”
    And the curtain of black opened up to show a beautiful horizon with a setting yellow sun.
     There were ruins, old Grecian temple ruins that reminded Legoh of ecchi world, and there was something poigantly sad and nostalgic about the scene. Tears came to his eyes. There was also the taste of death in the air.
    “A place where time stops, where life and death are connected. The Forge. This is where universes are created.” The Captain said, and Legoh was not surprised to see tears in her eyes too.
    He followed her in a sort of shuffle to the center temple, and without much romance there stood the banhammer before them (Though, everyone saw the banhammer as something else. Haru, for example saw an infinite coil of police tape, and The Captain saw a stamp. Only Legoh saw a hammer. A gargantuan thing, made of destruction, creation, life and death, and infinite power.)
    It was beautiful.

Beth’uwel recieved the news in his ivory tower: Legoh had been captured, and The Banhammer had been discovered.
    It was such an expected grand victory, that he only needed to stare out the window and bask in the sunlight of his kingdom. With this, he had won.

4 Legoc - The MR Sentai
Spoiler

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqfLTCdwlkc&list=PL7MtScAWA30hmwiZ5FU4SyZ066cS94Wda

Legoc had never felt so foolish in his life, and yet so epic. He was running across rooftops, dammit, and his scarf went woosh behind him. And people cheered.
    The guards hated him and always seemed to be one step away from him.. As far as the suit itself went, it was pretty great. It had a cool heads-up display, nullified attacks that would’ve been quite fatal, and it made him almost impossibly good at group confrontations. Everytime he was surrounded he found himself able to battle without being overwhelmed or pressured. It was like the reality of being a Sentai forced the 4kids guards to be half as effective as they normally would. And to top it off, there was a themesong that always played whrn he fought.
    His days consisted of going to the Literature Bloc in the day, and being a Sentai at night. In the city of 4kids, there were still guest spectres and Raiders in mortal danger, and he had plenty of people to save and leave in confusion as to what they’d actually seen.
    He wondered who’d sent him the paper aeroplane though. Was it Litt? But no, he hadn’t seen the man in ages.
    Regardless, he would keep on wearing the suit.
    And he wouldn’t admit it even under torture, but he was enjoying it, very very much.
    For the first time in what felt like ages, Legomaestro the cat smiled.
Title: Re: MR War Arc Interlude: Lego
Post by: Coryn on April 09, 2020, 11:01:35 PM
Nice job on finishing Lego! Knew you had it in you! Know I've got to double down and wrap up my second story! BANZAI!

Some comments:

- MR sure is a sad place with 4Kids in charge. Colorful, but god they all feel like imposters in the Pub. It really works for effect. This is definitely not the home we know and love.

- Mister Mann indeed. Legoh can't be in a good place if he's shaving his head. Will you be regrowing it in prison I wonder?

- The very idea of a literature censoring group chills my bones. Stay away from my stories you bastards! Even if it is Legoc doing it it's unappealing. Although definitely better than some 4Kids drone.

- Ah the Sentai raiders. What a time. Was 009 your old number or is it in line with the rest. There sure was a bunch of us, lol.

- Just who did send the paperplane, or did the paperplane send itself? Who knows when reality bending Sentai powers are involved!

- Not the strongest, psh! She's definitely one of those characters whose ability means she doesn't need brute strength. I think the fact that she had a horn should have been my first clue. 4Kids soldiers don't have horns if they aren't powerful, be warned all ye who enter! You have caught me by surprise good sir!

- Haha! Yes for programming the machines to follow fake hand signals! Sorry you got stuck in the elevator. You really didn't get as far as I hoped you would.

- That is a terrifying ability Lego. Don't even pretend it isn't. I need a name! (For her and the power).

- I definitely had an idea what the forge would look like, this was not it. It's cool though. Very trippy in a dreamscape sorta way. I wonder if like the Banhammer itself it is different depending who is perceiving it.

- Jesus Christ mann, going from "life and death and infinite power" to a bopping Sentai tune is complete whiplash. Lego's two halves are really living different lives from each other. I feel as happy for Legoc for finally getting his groove as I feel sad for Legoh for the well, everything that happens to him in this story.


Great stuff overall! It's a nice and satisfactory place to leave things for now! We're going to have to pow wow over now and tben, but I'm happy to see what comes next!
Title: Re: MR War Arc Interlude: Lego
Post by: legomaestro on April 10, 2020, 10:58:54 AM
Oh I definitely wanted to give her a name but I don't have one yet. I'll make a character profile.

On a second read there was some really shoddy writing there but I'll live. Glad it was digesteable at least. And yeah to be honest I thought he'd last longer, but I thought he'd been trying his luck for so long without actively trying to do anything he didn't deserve an easy win.

It's also fun giving the moodier Legoc time for some happy shenanigans. Listening to Sentai OSTs is surprisingly invigorating.


And yes. The Banhammer looks different to everyone. And yes. Totally yes I had another image for the forge but I settled for a desolate mysetrious place ala- Dark souls
Title: Re: MR War Arc Interlude: Lego
Post by: Coryn on April 10, 2020, 12:32:17 PM
It works. I don't remember if I pitched it to everyone but I also conceived the Banhammer as appearing different to everyone. Too hard to settle on one design anyway  :push:
Title: Re: MR War Arc Interlude: Lego
Post by: mynamesnottim on April 10, 2020, 12:56:24 PM
Finished 1
I hope copycop’s restaurant works out.
Even though they were short songs, I thought the eight lines of lyrics were awesome. Had you heard those songs before?

Finished 2
I don’t think I like 4kids
Damn censors.

Finished 3
We are all doomed.

Finished 4
*holds hand up in the air as tears stream down eyes. Still contemplating what it was that I had actually just read.
Title: Re: MR War Arc Interlude: Lego
Post by: Coryn on April 10, 2020, 01:45:02 PM
Welcome to the world of MR Canon NotTim. It gets no less weird from here.
Title: Re: MR War Arc Interlude: Lego
Post by: legomaestro on April 10, 2020, 05:25:01 PM
When I go to that lore page and see how much has happened, I can't help but feel a mushy feeling of pride... And still wonder how the hell some of these stories came up.

I can't believe one of my favourite bits of literature is literally about a panty raid. My word.


So haha thanks mynamesnottim. And yeah, I hope copycops' restaurant does work out too.


Also, a visual for the Captain. I've decided her name is Elys  Ium (Elysium basically).

(https://i.imgur.com/fYzlRbs.png)