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Author Topic: Quest!: A MangaRaiders Story  (Read 874 times)

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Offline Coryn

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Re: Quest!: A MangaRaiders Story
« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2018, 07:51:49 AM »
@Mahlua: I blame myself for that. There was a couple week writing hiatus in the middle of your part, so some ideas got disjointed. That stupid its/it's thing is definitely down to my phone's autocorrect. (It always wants to do "it's" without exception.) I will keep an eagle eye out for that one in the future.

@Lego: Not in America. The stereotypical windowless van is white. And I'm a little surprised you didn't know Croseus. That like, the oracle people use to explain what oracles are.


Glad you all liked it though! Next chapter should get a little more action packed. So keep an eye out.

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline Coach Fro

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Re: Quest!: A MangaRaiders Story
« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2018, 08:48:17 AM »
Rick, the hero we don't deserve...

And man Lego was really out here kidnapping people. I was damn near in tears when I read that part!

And I totally see what territory I had a hand in opening up. Gotta say though, "Googlelith" was way more clever than my whole "Search Bars" thing.

I"m really loving this narrative voice you're coming into for this story. It makes reading the story a lot more fun and interesting. Keep it up man!
Messatsu...



Offline Coryn

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Re: Quest!: A MangaRaiders Story
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2018, 09:28:31 AM »
Thanks Fro! Lego was not wrong to say I'm channeling the ghost of Pratchett. But the search bars are still a cool idea! That's part of why I left in the bit about there being multiple ways to search. Gotta leave it open. But I figured Google would have to be something special.

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline Coryn

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Re: Quest!: A MangaRaiders Story
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2018, 07:55:40 PM »
Oh hey, this chapter is only THIRTY SIX PAGES LONG! What the *censored* me? Things just keep getting long no matter what I do. I actually had to split this one in two! Also, why the hell did I italicize so much? I swear I should just start typing the forum commands into the document itself.

Enjoy everyone! Let me know what you think of my interpretations! And tell me how well you followed the music instructions. I tried doing a little bit of integration this chapter.




CHAPTER 3 - PART 1
CHAPTER 3: In Which Our Heroes Encounter Adversity, And A Sandwich Is Stolen

Because time was hard to keep track of on the Net, what with every site keeping a slightly different time, this part of our tale begins with Mahlua, who found herself traveling what she thought could be the titular 'old road’ from the prophecy she had received. She had taken some time to research the early days of the Net, and had come to a place which she had a passing familiarity with.
   Once, it had been a lively place, but unlike her previous destination, some life still churned here. Not because of any particular love for the site, but because it contained multitudes.
   Mahlua stood on a plain known as Angelfire, and it looked to be aptly named.
   Angelfire was a site that hosted other sites within it. Mahlua was taken to understand that this had been all the rage once upon a time. A quick and easy way for anyone to develop their own world. But that led to many building sites who had no business doing so. Most Angelfire sites died, and the evidence of that surrounded Mahlua to a stifling degree.
   Sites which still contained life floated above her head. They reminded her of giant soap bubbles, and Mahlua continually had to remind herself that despite their exterior size, they would be much larger within. Soft lights glowed within each floating sphere. The dimmer the light, the closer to death it was. The inverse was true as well, and from the hundreds of bubbles Mahlua could take in from her current vantage point, a few dozen seemed as lively as they perhaps had ever been. It was an encouraging vision, but it was marred by what surrounded her.
   When it was new, the surface of Angelfire had been described as a paradise. It was a source of infinite potential, springing forth satellite worlds with regularity. But no more sites were born these days, these days they only died, and what a death it was. When a site died, and it went fully dark, the bubble would burst. Whatever was contained within exploded out into its new space. Debris would crash down onto the surface below, annihilating anything unlucky enough to be in its way. So it came to be that now, deep into Angelfire’s life, that the crumbled ruins of a thousand forgotten sites littered its surface. Mountains of rubble and dreams had grown where once deep valleys ran, and on top of it all, stood Mahlua.
   Wow...that got dark…
   It was all, quite literally, below Mahlua's notice however. She was focused on one of the still floating sites. This bubble stood out above all the rest, because while most only glowed with the slightest hints of color, this one looked like someone was throwing the rave of the century inside. Mahlua knew, of course, that this merely reflected the amount of activity, and not the actual activity itself. But, a girl could dream, couldn't she?
   Her curiosity peaked, Mahlua summoned up Angelfire's holographic directory, and scrolled down the list. Each bubble had a highlight superimposed over its surface as they passed through the selector on screen. Mahlua quickly flicked through them, waiting for the rave bubble to light up. It did, and after a slower scroll back up the list, Mahlua settled on her target. Its name: TheChalicesFanPage.Angelfire.com.
   “Bingo.”
   This was going to be easier than she thought. She'd be with the Twins by that evening, prize in hand. Maybe even with the twins, Mahlua fantasized. But she quickly pushed her thirst down, and recentered her mind on the business at hand. The Golden Chalice did not belong to her yet. Getting distracted now would do her no good.
With a click on the screen, and an account set-up later, Mahlua was whisked away in a torrent of data and light. Soon, she would find out just how close to the mark she had been.

   Lego sat in a cozy cafe having lunch. Before him stretched the morning’s newspaper, turned open to the classifieds section. It hadn't taken long to find the listing he was looking for. The damn thing took up a whole quarter of the page after all. Whoever had posted it was investing some serious money into their ad campaign if nothing else. Just looking at it reminded him of some old-timey newsreel. The ad, which was printed in shimmering golden ink on a black background, read as follows: ‘WANTED! WARM BODIES AND CURIOUS MINDS TO USE THEM! ARE YOU STRONG? HEALTHY? OTHERWISE UNOCCUPIED OR WITH WITH A SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT OF FREE TIME? APPLY TODAY FOR AN EXPEDITION INTO THE UNKNOWN! EXPLORE THE FAR REACHES OF THE NET! OVERCOME DANGER! WOO EXOTIC PEOPLES! JOIN THE QUEST TO FIND THE MYSTERIOUS GOLDEN CHALICE! NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY! COME SEE US TODAY!’.
   Below this exuberant fanfare we're some stock images of golden cups, and an address. An address, that Lego was currently sitting across from and keeping a keen eye on. It had been a relatively short stake out, and so far he was yet to observe any activity from the towering office building. Interestingly, only one occupant was listed on the company directory posted outside. So, Lego knew if anyone came in or out, it would only be for this 'Legends Lmtd.’.
   To help pass the time, he had ordered coffee and a sandwich. After some delay, the staff brought the order out, finally having decided he wasn't there to rob the place. Lego knew that Facebook was a bit quiet, but it was like they had never seen a guy in a trenchcoat and facemask before.
   Blatant class discrimination aside, Lego found it to be a perfectly nice establishment in which to hold a stake out. Far nicer than the van, in any case. Nice enough even, for Lego to get completely lost in keeping his gaze focused on the opposite side of the street, and forget the goings on immediately around him. And it was because of this, that Lego did not pick up on what was about to happen, until it was well and truly too late to stop it.
   *https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUC2EQvdzmY*
   There was a soft clicking sound that Lego could not quite place. It seemed to be masked by someone shouting, but that he understood. It was that darn clicking which didn't connect. The noise had originated behind him, and Lego turned his head to take a peak at what it was.
   Ah, of course.
   It was a gun.
   Things slotted into place in Lego's mind. It was just the hammers on a double barrel shotgun being pulled into place. That was fine and dandy, but Lego was less pleased about being able to see directly into both barrels.
   Now, he was somewhat experienced with firearms. He'd even had occasion to use one, from time to time. But that didn't mean he was fond of having them shoved in his face. Normally that meant someone was angry about something, and that meant trouble, and that meant he had to do his job.
   Guess that means it's time to listen to the content of the yelling.
   “Put your hands up!”
   That sounded about right. Lego raised his arms and took in the situation. The person in front of him was on the smaller side, wore an oversized coat, and had covered their face with a ski mask. Behind them, Lego caught sight of another robber in similar dress. This one was waving a pistol in the general direction of the shop’s employees as they loaded up a burlap sack with food from the display case. Lego popped an eyebrow. “You're sticking up a shop for sandwiches?”
   “Be quiet!” Retorted the shorty.
   “Hmm…”  Thought Lego. Two robbers shouldn't be a problem in a fight normally, but not everyone on the Net was used to this kind of rumble. Lego was fairly confident he would be able to get around Shotgun Shorty, but Pistol Pete over there would be a problem if they took any hostages. “Ah...screw it.”
Shorty began yelling again, “I said-!”, but they didn't have the chance to finish. Lego stepped to the side, grabbed the shotgun by the barrel, and jerked it up. One barrel went off, and the storefront window exploded. Before                
   Shorty could fire the second round however, Lego had torn the gun from their grasp. Before Pistol Pete could turn and address the commotion, Lego had spun Shorty around, face planted them into a table, and leveled the shotgun at the second robber.
   Lego smiled. “Nobody move! This is a robbery!” He always wanted to use that line.
   Intimidation tactic #56: Threaten something important to them. If your mark is not cooperating with direct aggression, turn that aggression against something, or preferably someone, that they cared about. Lego didn't know if Shorty counted in that realm, but it didn't hurt to try.
   Lego flicked his wrist, and formed a femto-dagger against Shorty's neck. “Don't move buddy! Or your your friend…!” Without taking his sights off of Pistol, Lego pulled off Shorty's ski mask. “Gets…!” He hadn't intended to glance down at their face, but curiosity had gotten the better of the moderator. “-it!...oh no...”
   It was just a damn kid.
   Just a damn kid with a shotgun.
   Just a damn kid who had pointed said shotgun in his face.
   Just a damn kid who was robbing a cafe.
   Just a damn kid who was robbing said cafe for sandwiches.
   Just a damn kid who had to steal to eat.
   Guess there wasn't any going back now.
   Lego winced painfully at the huddled employees. “Sorry about this!” The shotgun went off a second time, only this time it shattered a light fixture on the ceiling. By the time the sparks had gone out and the staff could see again, Lego was already booking it on foot down the street. In tow he held one short kid, one slightly taller kid, and a sack full of mediocre sandwiches.
   And pause the music.

   Banks were an old institution. They had been around in some form or the other since humans had both developed things of value, and wanted to keep them safe. Usually, this meant cold hard cash. But in a world where money was reduced to ones and zeroes, most banks were reduced to little more than glorified calculators. Most suckers could run a bank these days if they had the wherewithal to boot up their computer on the morning. So, physical locations dwindled, only sticking around to inspire nostalgia, and infuriate normal people with their heavily restricted hours of operation.
   Of course, this was not most banks.
   This was a bank that had endured not because it was good at being a glorified money changer, but because long ago, its founders had recognized a need, and fulfilled it admirably. The purpose of this bank was not to store paper bills or gold bars (although its depths contained multitudes of each). No, this bank protected objects, big and small. And if Coryn wanted a place where the Golden Chalice could have been kept safely locked away, he could have hardly found a better location.
   Coryn stepped directly into the bank’s gilded lobby from the arrivals’ zone. The whole site was interior. There was no outside to this place. No outside meant no exterior walls, and no exterior walls meant no one surreptitiously tunneling or exploding their way in. And what an interior it was. Gold and fine marble covered nearly every surface. Four columns of expensive stone reach up towards the ceiling, even if they didn’t actually support anything. Above Coryn was a cavernous space which extended nearly as far as the eye could see. Glass elevators zoomed up, down, and sideways, all leading to offices or other administrative areas. Below his feet, were undoubtedly levels upon levels of safes, strong boxes, and reinforced hallways. Coryn didn’t care about their legion of secrets, he only wanted one of them. Thankfully, a helpful stooge was already on his way.
   “Good day to you sir! Do you have an account with us?”
   Coryn eyed the short, balding man. He wore the same pin-striped suit as all the other employees on the lobby floor. All Coryn could spy on his person with a tablet sporting the bank’s logo. With luck, this was just the ‘Yes Man’ Coryn was looking for. “Actually I don’t!” Chirped Coryn. “But I am looking to open an account this morning!”
   The dollar signs practically projected from the man’s eyes at the promise of a sales commission came into view. This was a pretty ritzy establishment afterall. You could probably pay off that new boat with the kind of bonuses they threw around for landing a good mark. As the initial euphoria wore off, the employee began frantically working on his tablet. “Of course my good sir!” May I have your name to get you started in our system? Please, walk this way with me, I shall give you the tour of our amenities!”
   And they were off to the races. Coryn gave enough fake information to satisfy their required fields, and cheerfully    followed along. First came the lobby, a short history of the bank, basic services, a warning about cancellation fees, and questions about collateral. At last, they arrived at a set of heavy metal doors in the lobby’s rear. The employee continued on. “Beyond here sir, is the entrance to our vaults. I of course will also continue our tour beyond them. We have a wonderful display area that shows you the full extent of our accommodations. I can not take you into the actual occupied vaults themselves, but I assure you they will be of the exact same construction as those you will see in the examples.”
   “Solid reasoning.” Coryn said. “Although I do have some dangerous materials I am interested in securing. You can fit my needs?”
   The man mocked offense. “Of course sir! You are not the first...err...experimental scientist we have played host to. Your belongings will be well taken care of while they are within our care. You have my personal word!” He now motioned towards a large, cylindrical contraption which stood to the side of the doors. “Before we enter however, employees and account holders must be scanned for contrabanned. It is procedure. Please, sir, after you.”
   The banker motioned at the machine, and Coryn started on his way. He had already deactivated his shield generators upon entering the bank, and his katana had been confiscated by the security guards upon arrival, but there was still the chance he would trip this level of security. When Coryn was within a few feet, the cylinder opened like an iron maiden. The interior was filled with a pulsing green light, and the door slid shut behind the mod as soon as he was safely inside.
   The contraption began its work. Coryn could see a real time display of his own body on the wrap around screens. His bones were glowing brightly amongst the dullness of his flesh, but after a few seconds, there was a pleasant ‘ding’, and the door swung open. There wasn’t an army of security to greet him, so Coryn took a quiet sigh of relief, and stepped to the side is escort repeated the process.
   At last, they were allowed into the vaults. An energy fence when up behind them as the metal doors were unlocked, and together, Coryn and the banker stepped into a well lit, if somewhat dull and gray, hallway. They came to a T-intersection, and on either side Coryn was confronted by the sample vaults. The banker helpfully assured Coryn that the massive openings in the walls were for display purposes only, but the scientist was only half listening. His eyes could trace the electrical signals running through the air, and while it wasn’t directly visible to him, Coryn could tell that some very sophisticated security programs were keeping an eye on everything happening within the vault. Data was slowly filtering into his system, but he couldn’t decipher it on the fly. More than likely, he wouldn’t be able to gather enough in this short tour to develop any sort of effective countermeasure. He would have to return to MR, bring back some actual materials to store, and then use that as a pretext for more data gathering. Even then, Coryn figured it would take letting the V.I.’s run wild with it for a few days before anything useful came out of the process.
   Just as Coryn was considering simply brute forcing his way through, the tour came to an end.
   “Do you have any questions sir?” Asked the banker.
   Coryn contemplated his response while pretending to take an interest in the motion detection system of a mid-sized lockbox. He could take out his escort quickly enough, but there would definitely be hidden security measures built into the walls. His own scans couldn’t penetrate them, so Coryn assumed the worst. It would take a minute or two for his shields to reboot, and without those, he was basically worthless in a prolonged fight. With a sigh, Coryn began filtering through his internal sub-menus towards the shield generators. Before he could reach them however, Coryn’s decision was made for him. “I…”
   Everything was suddenly black. The sound of systems losing their power was audible as a descending hum. The banker’s voice came out of the darkness. “I don’t understand! The backups should be-!” He was cut off mid sentence by a loud smack of flesh against flesh. Thankfully, Coryn still had robot eyes, and they switched to infrared just in time to block a strike meant for his windpipe.
   The figure bounded back down the hallway, and came to a stop on the other side of the unconscious banker. Lights flashed back on, and Coryn got his first good look at their assailant. It was horribly cliche. She wore a black leather catsuit, and had a utility belt that would put a flying mammalian themed superhero to shame. What drew Coryn’s attention however, was her gasmask, and the long black hair that flowed out of it. It was flat faced, with a filter cartridge sticking out  the left cheek. The lenses were blue chrome, and all Coryn could see was his own self reflected back. But what stood out the most, was that the whole mask was otherwise a shiny, metallic red. Oh, and that it had horns.
   Like a demon.
   It was going to be an interesting day at the bank.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2018, 07:57:33 PM by Coryn »

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Offline Coryn

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Re: Quest!: A MangaRaiders Story
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2018, 07:56:16 PM »
CHAPTER 3 - PART 2
Mahlua’s first impressions of TheChalicesFanPage.Angelfire were not stellar. In fact, the place was an absolute crater. It was currently night, but Mahlua doubted that it would look much better during the day. Everywhere she looked it was nothing but burned out two-story buildings, abandoned factories, and barren warehouses. Even in comparison to MR, this place was small and empty, but the object of Mahlua’s search meant she had to take her time delving through the ruins. More and more however, she was beginning to think that there had been some sort of mistake, that there was no one here at all. Angelfire must have been acting up in its old age. Surely the activity indicated from the outside was a mistake.
   After a few hours of searching, Mahlua found herself perched upon a disused power pole, slowly scanning the city. She had managed to go through a solid third of it, but hadn’t seen any indication of life. What she had in abundance were old concert flyers for a band called The Chalices, but nothing the would help her now. The dates stretched back a long time, longer than should have been possible, but she figured that a band could easily have a rotating cast.
   Right before she went down the rabbit hole of questioning whether or not a band that had over time replaced all of its original members could still be called the same band, something pricked her senses. Specifically, something pricked her ear. Something like...music? She turned her ear towards the sound, and it definitely sounded like it could be music, but at this range it was still pretty nebulous. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to check it out.
   Except that it could, it could hurt a lot.
   As Mahlua got closer, she decided that it was definitely music that she was hearing. Whether or not it was good music? Well, maybe the state of the fan page was a better testament to that than she could ever make.
   What she found was a warehouse like all the rest. Unlike the rest, this one contained a horde. There were at least two-hundred people. Hardly a news-breaking turnout, but respectable enough. Pastel lights flashed on and off from the ceiling, but they only illuminated the stage, so Mahlua was able to slip in easily enough from the dark back of the room.
   Within, Mahlua was confronted fully by the writhing mass of devotees. They were decked out big hair, conflicting colors, and more face-paint than you could shake a county fair at. It was a glam rock concert through and through, and it was not a completely unfamiliar atmosphere for the witch. Fun as it seemed, Mahlua had a mission, and that meant making her way to the stage.
   As she now expected, Mahlua spotted a massive banner hanging from the front of the stage. It advertised: “The Chalices: Turn of the Century Tour”. Mahlua wasn’t sure what calender they were working from, but it had been some time since the turn of the century. Perhaps more terrifying was the thought that they had never stopped a more appropriately timed tour, but Mahlua pushed it from her mind. She was just in time to be shoved from behind, and Mahlua found herself stuck at the very front of the crowd. She was pinned between the fans and the movable barrier, and became acutely aware that her standard aesthetic stuck out like a sore thumb. Mahlua was not the only one to notice however, because almost as soon as she had appeared, the lead singer took notice of her. His vocals trailed off, and they were quickly followed by the rest of the band. An uncomfortable and confused silence fell upon the building, and Mahlua was stuck in the center of it all. She eyed the singer. He looked like he should have been doing themed weddings somewhere dressed as a famous musician. There was a lightning bolt drawn on his face, and a mass of red hair was slicked back over his head. When he spoke, it came out as a forced English accent. “Well hello there darling. Are you lost?”
   His words conveyed concern. His tone did not. He just sounded like he was mocking her. The band behind him gave a short laugh, and the immediate crowd echoed it. Soon, the whole room caught on.
   Mahlua took him in, sizing him up. He didn’t look physically intimidating, but she was stopped short at his collar bone. Around his neck, from a thin chain, hung a tiny, golden, chalice. Whatever happened next, Mahlua knew she needed to get her hands on it. “I’m not lost. I heard about the famous Golden Chalices, and I just had to come hear them perform.”
   This was met by another round of chuckling from the band. The singer continued to speak for them. “Well, I’m very honored by your visit love. How is it that you heard about us? A good friend maybe?”
   Mahlua thought about Art-tan, and about the oracle she had met. “Yes.” It was close enough to the truth.
   The vocalist smiled. “Ah, I see. Well that’s good to hear. I’m glad you could come then! If only you had worn something more appropriate.” This time the whole crowd laughed. Mahlua forced out a chuckle to help ease the atmosphere, but the atmosphere had already gone from simply awkward, to brutally malicious. Everything about that place and the people in it gave Mahlua the heebie-jeebies. For a moment however, it seemed as if all would be fine. The Chalices returned to their playing posture. The lead singer belted out the next note. For a moment, Mahlua relaxed.
   A moment, and then everything collapsed.
   The singer stopped singing. He lowered the microphone. He stepped forward, knelt down at the front of the stage, and leaned out so far that his face was only a few scant feet from Mahlua’s. “The thing is, you see.” He made a sweeping motion at the crowd. “Is that every last one of our fans is here and accounted for. We keep very precise roles you see. If anyone is missing, we’ll know it. If anyone is without a ticket, we’ll know it. If anyone has invited a plus one, we’ll know it.”
   Mahlua began to reach for her mace.
   The vocalist squinted at her. “Everyone’s here, and ain’t no one invited anyone new this year.”
   Mahlua narrowed her eyes back. “Give me the chalice.”
   He smiled softly, and spoke almost in a whisper. “Take it from me.”
   *https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewFBuYHldeY*
   It was almost like slow motion. Mahlua pulled her mace free, the singer pulled back to his mic stand. She swung. He belted out a noted. The next thing Mahlua knew, a massive force struck her in the gut. It sent her up into the air, and into the corrugated back wall of the warehouse. She looked up, and multi-colored neon energy pulses were emanating out of the band’s amps. They were small for a moment, but as they group started up again, they flared into life. Amorphous shapes formed in the air, throwing out energy into a great barrier around the stage. The lead singer raised his mic to join his fellows, and spoke one last sentence before re-initiating their song. “Get her darlings!”
   The crowd was on the move, and they looked all too happy to see her. Mahlua charged herself up as much as she could in the few seconds she had, and leapt into the fray. She landed on a girl dressed almost entirely in rhinestones, and smashed a man wearing a shirt that she swore should only count as pants, in the face. Unfortunately, seeing two of their comrades smashed almost instantly, didn’t dissuade anyone else, and the mass piled into Mahlua. She was pushed back up against the far wall, and was forced to drop her mace to the ground. Fortunately, that hand found itself flat against the metal, so while the crowd was busy trying to crush her beneath its weight, she busied herself drawing occult symbols. Just before Mahlua lost the ability to breath entirely, she finished, and with a pulse of energy, arcs of lighting spread out in a circle around her. They seared right through the thin metal, and the wall collapsed outward. A surprised group of rockers were sent out into the alley, and thankfully, they avoided trampling Mahlua in the process. Once a good twenty-five of them were on the far side of the wall, Mahlua hit the second phase of the hasty spell, and brought the wall back to its original position. Lighting snap welded it back into place, and Mahlua snatched up her mace. They wouldn’t be gone for long, but it might be long enough.
   Mahlua dove back into crowd. She maced a few people with a wide swing, kneed an unfortunate looking gentleman in the gentleman’s area, and uppercutted another with a pulse of lighting that continued on to punch a hole in the rusting ceiling. By now, a few members of the assembled rockers were deciding that their love of The Chalices was not as strong as their fear of the woman covered in glowing purple hieroglyphics. Those intelligent few were pushing their way towards the exit, but at least half of the crowd were still willing to fight.
   By now, the band themselves were beginning to get involved. The pulsing neon lines that protected them began lashing out. They blasted away chunks of concrete, and even sent some unlucky concert goers flying. Mahlua could not fault their efficacy however, as every time they hit her, she was sent tumbling across the warehouse.
   The crowd was back, and they dogpiled as one onto Mahlua. She wasn’t looking to do any lasting damage to the rabid fans, but this was clearly beginning to get out of hand. Mahlua charged up, and the hair of those above her was ripped free from the spray holding it. A few intelligent souls leaped free, but the rest were sent flying as a wave of electricity smacked into them. Mahlua righted herself as bodies rained in ragdoll fashion around her. They would be fine eventually, but they would be staying out of the fight for now.
   Mahlua cast her gaze around. The vast majority of the crowd were piling out of the main entrance now. But a few were still willing to fight. Unfortunately, they seemed the most pleased to brawl.
   A man in a silver jumpsuit uppercutted Mahlua right through her defenses. She was launched up into the air, where another rocker was waiting for her. The rocker pile drove Mahlua back into the concrete floor with an elbow, and the witch coughed up spit into her assailant’s face. It was an unintentional move, but it did the job. The piledriver rolled off, clutching their eyes. Jumpsuit was coming back around however, and Mahlua had just enough time to recover her Mace. Mahlua blocked the first strike, but jumpsuit more than outmatched her in raw power, and he laid into her. Dents appeared in Mahlua’s mace as she used it to block. Slowly but surely, she was losing her footing.
   After a few strikes, Mahlua was sent ragdolling towards stage right. She was dazed pretty heavily, but as she raised her head, she noticed something. The bassist was looking at her with some concern. Between the four of them onstage, he definitely looked like the nervous one of the bunch. Although it took a second, Mahlua connected his emotional state to the shield, and noticed that the neon barrier was subtly less dense on his side. In fact, there was a gap in the waves at just about head level…
   Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
   Mahlua stuff her mace back into her pack, and started into a dead sprint. The bassist’s eyes went wide, and he started yelling something at his bandmates. Mahlua couldn’t hear what it was, but ultimately it wouldn’t matter. She converted herself into a bolt of electricity, and slammed into the thin spot. It held for a few seconds, but then Mahlua felt herself blast through. She reconstituted herself, and Mahlua found herself soaring above the stage. But the Chalices were no longer upon it. Instead, they were disappearing through a side door on the opposite side of the stage. Their singer was the last one through, and he flipped Mahlua the bird as he disappeared across the threshold.
   Mahlua landed roughly into their drum set up, but was quickly after the band. The barrier had disappeared, and she passed into the maze beyond. The corridors all looked the same, but Mahlua was faster alone than they were as a group, and she kept an ever decreasing time behind them. Mahlua followed them through the halls. Through storage rooms and dressing rooms. Custodial areas and craft services. Sweat smelling practice rooms, and ‘herbal supplement’ smelling green rooms.
   Finally, Mahlua had them trapped. It was a dead end hallway, filled with various props and miscellaneous tools of the concert trade. She was only within a few feet of the lead singer, but suddenly, the band members at the front of the pack began to disappear. They were dropping down, and it took all of Mahlua’s effort to not let herself follow them into the unknown. As she got to the end, it became clear that they were all diving into some sort of portal. Doubtless, it would be taking them someplace far off-site. Someplace that Mahlua would not be able to track them.
   Mahlua skidded to a stop just in time, but still she grasped for the lead singer. He had turned towards her at the last second, and gave a condescending wink. Mahlua stretched out her fingers as far as they would go, and clenched her fist. “Get back here you secondrate David Bowie impersonating bastard!” However he was already out of reach. The vocalist disappeared into the portal, and it snapped shut behind him, revealing only an empty concrete pit.
   Mahlua was alone. By now the concert attendees had almost certainly all run for someplace safe. Even if she could find one of them, Mahlua doubted they would reveal, or potentially even know, where The Chalices had escaped to. It was likely that this escape route was designed to flee from their oddly fanatical fans in the first place. So now Mahlua stood in the darkened hallway, her best lead snatched away by a half-rate glam rocker.
   Except…
   What was that sensation between her fingers?
   Mahlua looked down. Caught between her fingers was the chain the lead singer had been wearing around his neck. Hoping beyond hope, Mahlua opened her clenched had, and there in her palm, lay the tiny, golden, chalice. “Well...how about that?”
   She turned it around in her hands. It quickly became clear that this was just a trinket. Mahlua couldn’t feel any energy coming from it whatsoever, magical or otherwise. Sure enough, as she scratched at its surface, Mahlua came away with a thin layer of gold paint beneath her fingernail, and dull metal on the charm.
   So then, it really was a dead end after all.
   Mahlua slid down against the corridor wall and fiddled with the little cup. Surely that band was protecting some kind of secret? Would they really go through all that trouble just to have a little fun with her? Were they really that bored? Mahlua stopped her line of questioning there. Of course they could have been. Her fellow Raiders had been known to  literally kill each other over less. It wasn’t out of the question. But, as Mahua continued to run her fingers over the cup, she noticed a strange texture around its rim. From a distance, it was unremarkable. Upon closer inspection however, it was a series of tiny numbers. Each, engraved with an exacting touch into the side of the chalice. She got it right up to her face, located a break among them, and started reading it to herself softly. It took a few tries, but eventually, an answer dawned on her. “Is that...is that an IP address?”

   Remember that tune from earlier? Restart it.
   It had all gone wrong for Lego very quickly.
   He had gotten to his van, which was good. But, he had also gotten the attention of the authorities, which was bad. Lego was starting to think he should have paid for the closer parking, because the few beat cops he had bulldozed on the way back from the restaurant had clearly called for reinforcements. They were beginning to cordon him off, and it was only a matter of time until he would be trapped.
   The two thieves were huddled in the back while Lego was doing his level best to get the van started before the law had completely surrounded them. If he could only make it out of the district, they stood a good chance of breaking free.
   That was how Facebook was laid out. While there was an overall government that controlled the city, but individual districts were under the sway of special interest groups. These groups ran the spectrum from harmless to malicious, and each enforced the law in their own way. Fortunately, this meant that Lego could outrun the local police fairly quickly. Unfortunately, that meant Facebook had a surplus of moderators, and that meant trouble.
   Just before the circle closed, the van started, and Lego jammed his foot into the accelerator. Tires whined, uniformed officers jumped out of the way, and Lego found himself tearing his way through traffic. Unlike on MR, cars choked the roads, and Lego traded a lot of paint as he weaved between the openings. A few bullet holes had peppered his back doors during the flight, but the cops quickly stopped firing as the potential harm to civilians outweighed the possibility of actually stopping the vehicle. It was clear to Lego as well that the bulk of the police had been around him already. The district was fairly small, dedicated mainly to discourse about climbing gear, so by the time he had made his initial escape, Lego was free of obstacles. Soon enough, Lego was roaring past a road sign advertising the fact that he was now officially into the next group’s terf. All was quiet. Nobody had reached out to their neighbors.
   Yet.
   Lego breathed a deep sigh before he turned to his guests. “Would you mind explaining to me just why I shouldn’t toss you out here?”
   He was met with a fist. The impact stung, but Lego was more than capable of fielding a punch from some tween. He caught Shorty by the wrist and tossed him into the passenger seat. Pistol was still in the back, but Shorty, upon processing what had just happened, signaled that Pistol should stand down with a frantic shake of the head. Lego was still staring him down however, and finally the kid gave the mod what he was looking for. “We’re sorry...but you weren’t supposed to fight back like that! If you had just stood still, we’d have been outa your hair…”
   Lego turned his head back at Pistol. “And you?”
   Pistol raised his hands as if to block a strike. “Don’t look at me, it was Pip that pointed the shotgun in your face.”
   “Shut it Bugs…” Said Pip, formerly known as Shorty.
   So that was the story then. Now that Lego had a chance to get a better look at each of them, Pip looked to be around ten to twelve. Bugs was taller, and probably around fourteen or fifteen. Just damn kids, as Lego had surmised. A voice in the back of his head reminded him of the stupid things he had been doing at that age. Another voice reminded him he was technically an ancient alien cat-like being, but he dismissed that one. The Legoh part of his brain was going to win out that day. He did what he could to address both of them while still keeping his eye on the road. “So that’s it then? You’re just stealing food?”
   “Well, actually we’re…” Started to say Pip, but Bugs shushed him.
   “Don’t tell him nothing Pip!”
   “Sorry Bugs…”
   They fell silent, but Lego was not satisfied. “Did it have anything to do with that building across the street?”
   The boys tried to hide it, but they didn’t have the experience to do it properly. Lego smirked. “Ah, so you do know something! I was scoping that place out when you showed up. What do you know?”
   Pip seemed uneasy still. He didn’t want to be chided again, but Bugs spoke out. “We don’t really know all that much. Ruffle makes all the plans, but people have been going into that place and not coming back. Some of them have been our friends…” It was obviously a sore spot, so Lego let it slide for now, and redirected his attentions at the road.
   “Alright then, so we’re we headed? If it has something to do with that building, then I want in.” More apprehension. Lego didn’t blame them, but he needed an in. “Look, I’ll let you in on a little secret, alright? Where I come from, there’s a whole lot of really strong people, and I’m the strongest one of them all! So if you let me go with you, I can provide some much needed…” Lego eyed Pip’s arms. “...muscle.”
   The implication was not lost on the two boys. Finally, they gave Lego a nod, and Pip pointed out the window. “We gotta get to district 4286. It’s run by a bunch of junkers. Our base is there.”
   Lego swerved off into the exit, and descended from the elevated highway into a dense copse of buildings. At first, all was quiet. Lego didn’t even see anyone out on the streets. Although that didn’t seem unusual for the area. It seemed that most of the structures were industrial. Maybe they were factories or warehouses, Lego didn’t care. It was only that there was something else bothering him. After a few more blocks, Lego finally figured out what it was. The streets were empty, but the buildings weren’t. Faces were everywhere. Pressed against windows, doors, over rooftop edges. All eyes followed the black van, and they watched as Lego slammed his foot on the gas pedal.
   Too late.
   Lego was drifting around a corner, the van barely staying upright. Right in front of him, a garage door rolled up, and out poured hundreds of blurry shapes. They were about the size of a person, and when one ground pounded onto Lego’s hood, he realized what it was. “Attention criminal! Stop your vehicle immediately!”
   “F*ck off!” Lego drove his brake pedal into the baseboard, and the figure was sent tumbling across the blacktop. The van slid to a stop, and for a moment, all that moved were the blurry shapes in the air above. Slowly however, the figure stood back up. Lego’s fears were confirmed. A mustachioed human face stared back at the van, his faceplate having been sheared off. They raised their arms, and Lego stared straight into the bright spots in his palms. It was a game of chicken Lego’s poor van would surely loose, so he hit the accelerator. He had no time for Iron-Man styled moderators today.
   The first one, Lego sent over the roof, but the next dozen? Those were going to be a problem.
   Suited figures swarmed the van as it sped through the empty streets. First they targeted the tires, but Lego had installed run-flats after his last attempt at kidnapping Writer-tan, so he didn’t go down right then. Even so, his handling had suffered something fierce. If he was going to shake of his pursuers, Lego needed to go on the offensive. “Bugs take the wheel!” Lego grabbed the taller kid and shoved him into the driver’s seat. Despite Bugs’ protestations that he didn’t know how to drive, Lego ignored him, and booted open the ventilation hatch in the roof. “I’m going topside.”
   It wasn’t much better above, but at least Lego could move around. Energy blasts were coming from this way and that, so Lego found himself dancing around somewhat comically. But dodging was getting nowhere, and they were punching holes in his van. Lego whipped out his arm, and summoned his femto-machines into a baseball bat. “Stay away…” Lego swung directly into one of the beams. “...from my precious van!” His specially designed machines worked the energy they found themselves in contact with. For a moment it swirled around the bat, but only until the perfect angle was reached. The blast was flung back out, and Lego smiled as it smashed into the mod who had fired it. The afro man was filled with a sense of satisfaction as he watched the now useless hunk of metal smack into the ground. That was the problem with power armor. As soon as you cut the power, all you had was a very expensive weight suit. Good thing they weren’t over water.
   One down, eleven to go.
   Lego dispatched a few more in a similar manner, but they soon caught on to the tactic, and stopped firing their energy beams. Instead, they closed in, and latched onto the van itself. Two hit the roof, one on each side of Lego. Lego swung, and the one towards the front of the van dodged. The second grabbed Lego in a bearhug, and Lego’s stomach dropped as he was lifted off his feet and into a german suplex. Of course, if Lego was right, said suplex was going to end up with him off the van, and face first into the pavement at a relative speed of eighty miles per hour.
   Lego disappeared off the back of the van, but before he had his face rubbed off, he snagged the van’s bumper, and forced a new pivot point. Unfortunately for the mod handling him, Lego’s gambit paid off, and he was freed as the suited mod was peeled off by friction. Lego pulled himself back up to the bumper, and placing his feet on it, leaped back onto the roof, fully ready to knock the head off of the first moderator with his bad.
   Surprisingly, the first moderator had disappeared. It was only now that Lego questioned what the others had been up to.
   He didn’t have to question for long.
   There was a shudder, and then the dropping sensation returned to Lego’s stomach. The roof buckled, and then it fell right into the van. The two boys looked back in surprise, and Lego looked back with a shrug. No sooner than he had, did the rest of the body of the van get completely pulled apart. Lego’s van had been opened up like a clam shell. Two sets of suited moderators flew off in each direction with a half of the van’s body. Without the backdoors to keep it in place, the roof began to slide back, and Lego was forced to run along it like a treadmill until the roof finally fell off. It clattered along to to a stop as what remained of the vehicle sped away. Lego watched it disappear out of sight, and just then, shed a single tear before turning back to the now exposed engine.
   “Grieve later.” He told himself. “Kick ass now.” Lego finished.
   The power-suit mods had reformed into a blockade farther down the road. Lego watched on helplessly as their gloves began to glow. The next onslaught was sure to end the van’s life, but Lego had already made his piece with the van gods, and with purposeful steps, he returned to what had been the van’s cab, and took a boy in each hand. They were surprised by the action, but Lego ignored them. Instead, he kept his gaze forward at the men and women who were about to destroy his most faithful companion. “Goodbye my love.”
   The soft buzz of a flash-step. The electric pulse of the energy beams. The searing heat of the gas tank exploding. Lego watched it all from a nearby rooftop, and promised to one day return and salvage what he could. Until then, he had other things to attend to. “Take me to this ‘Ruffle’ person. We need to have a chat.”
   Alright, cut the music. We have a bank to rob.

   *https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zRSEMjmCIU*
   It had been what one might call ‘a pregnant pause’. Neither participant was pregnant of course, but the anticipation was certainly growing in Coryn’s mind. He had rushed his way into rebooting his shields, but they were still only thirty percent of the way there. The woman in the mask had yet to make a move or say a word, so Coryn ventured a few hesitant questions. “So...break into here often? You got a name or something? Would you...mind showing any indication that you’re actually alive?”
   45%
   “I’ll...take that as a no…” Coryn eyed her, waiting for some sort of move. Finally, his patience was rewarded. Her head tilted just half a degree to the side, and she struck. Small orbs flew in Coryn’s direction, and once they had reached the appropriate distance, they exploded into thick, black smoke. “Oh no you don’t!” Shouted Coryn, just as she aimed a kick at his head. He had kept his infrared on for one eye, so he never lost track of her in the smoke bomb. Her boot was deflected, but Coryn could assume that she had no problem seeing him either, because she used the momentum change she gained from his block to spin a knee right into his side. Coryn was knocked into the wall of the hallway, but it didn’t take him off his balance for long. As soon as the masked girl was coming in for her next attack, he was already on his way to meet her.
   60%
   Coryn grabbed her by the midsection and tackled her into the opposite wall. While she was still in close however, the masked woman drove an elbow into Coryn’s shoulder, which sent him to a knee. She followed up with a butterfly kick to the jaw, and Coryn once again found himself against the wall.
   70%
   Another pass at her utility belt. This time, a bright flare erupted in the tight space, and both of Coryn’s eyes were rendered useless. He closed them tight, but the woman was already on the move.
   80%
   Coryn threw himself into a defensive posture, but without eyesight, it was all he could do to protect himself from the worst of the barrage. She was without a doubt a skilled fighter, but it was apparent that most of her attacks relied on taking her opponent by surprise. They were quick, but they lacked power. On the other hand, Coryn had spent most of his life being bashed around. If there was one thing he knew, it was how to take a punch.
   90%
   Coryn felt as his ankle was impacted. His leg went into the air, and the rest of his body went down.
   95%
   More strikes as he fell. Coryn was beginning to wonder if maybe he had said something insulting, but then:
   97%
   “Is that a knife?”
   98%
   “Oh yeah, that’s a knife.”
   99%
   “Oh no, she’s going to stab me with that knife!”
   The thief’s hand plunged down, the blade leading the charge. Its target was Coryn’s neck, and he raised his hands to do whatever he could.
   SHIELD BOOT-UP COMPLETE. OPERATIONAL CAPACITY PERFORMING PER SPECIFICATIONS.
   The knife, and the girl holding it were pile driven into the ceiling. She was forced to release it by the shock, and Coryn chuckled as he watched it drop harmlessly to the ground. “Oooohhh...Now why did you have to go and try to stab me?” He stood within the safety of the bubble. It had also displaced the walls around him, and stray sparks sprayed from damaged electrical equipment. “All I wanted to do was talk.”
   Coryn couldn’t read the girl’s expression through the mask, but he could feel her eyes on him. Sounds of security trying to force their way into the vault echoed down from the entrance, but the thief was not making any moments to indicate she was trying to escape. Finally, Coryn asked the question he had been wanting to all along. “So, what are you here to steal anyway, devil woman?”
   Coryn hadn’t really expected anything from her, but this time she changed tact. “None of your business.”
   It was a heavily modulated voice, but it was definitely human. You might have called it ‘creepy’ sounding, but Coryn wasn’t about to be deterred. “It wouldn’t have anything to do with The Golden Chalice would it?” This time, a shiver clearly ran down her back. She shifted uncomfortably in the tight space.
   “Never heard of it.”
   Coryn smiled. “Liar.”
   “What’s it to you?” She replied.
   “In reference to the chalice or to your lying?” Said Coryn.
   “Either.” Was her comeback.
   Coryn said. “As to your lying, it’s just plain rude.” He pointed an accusing finger at her. “As for the chalice, that’s none of your damn business either.”
   What she said next, she said with a smile, although you would have never known it. “Then I guess you’ll never find it!” There was a spark, and that spark turned into an explosion. It rolled across Coryn’s shield, and when it was gone, so was a chunk of reinforced concrete from the ceiling, along with the girl that had previously been pressed against it. Coryn’s head darted from side to side, and he was just in time to see her disappear behind the corner leading to the main entrance.
   The chase was on. Coryn reconfigured his bubble until it was just large enough to ride in, and rocketed down the corridor after her. As the moderator rounded the corner, he found her standing at the doors. They glowed red around the edges where security had cut their way through them, and the dots of plasma that indicated where they were currently cutting were about to find each other. In a moment those doors would be open, and Coryn would lose his chance to extract the information he needed. He set off at full speed, intent on knocking the girl out against his forcefield and capturing her. She noticed him, but instead of dodging, she stayed her ground. Perhaps it was her way of showing she surrendered, but Coryn was not about to take unnecessary chances.
   His assumption would prove correct. Just before she was caught, the thief jumped straight up. Coryn passed below, and craned his neck up just in time to see her disappear into an open ventilation shaft that should have been far too small for any human to normally pass through. He could even see where she had cut through metal bars which covered the duct’s cross-section. But this was only one moment of time. In the next, Coryn’s bubble smashed into the vault doors, and they exploded off from the small amount of door that still kept them in place.
   Back in the lobby, the guests and general staff had been quarantined off along the walls, while uniformed guards were spread throughout, but mostly cloistered around the vault doors. At least, they had been until they were swept away by the great hunks of metal. Both doors slammed into the pristine tile. Dust and porcelain chips flew into the air as the doors embedded themselves into the floor. Screams were heard echoing through the cavernous space, but Coryn could only spare a quick glance behind him to assure that no one had been crushed beyond repair. From his tour of the lobby, he had a general idea of where that air duct might be connected to, but to reach it, he needed a key of sorts.
   Thankfully, the guard that had confiscated Coryn’s sword when he first arrived was still posted at the entrance, and Coryn made a beeline for him. The guard, of course, had seen what Coryn had done to the vault doors, and ducked low to try and avoid the same fate. Coryn however, merely transferred his relative position to the outside of the bubble, and while in a crouch, swung around the guard, and snatched the katana from his back. “Sorry to break bank regulations, but I really need this right now!”
   The scientist was headed up, and not just up in any direction. Directly above the vault entrance was a massive relief in gold depicting daily life at the bank. It was supposed to be a commentary upon how financial institutions kept the world running, but what had caught Coryn’s eye was that it was actually raised a few inches off the rest of the wall, and that from those few inches, a soft droning sound could be heard. Now, normally a gap only a few inches tall wouldn’t serve very well as an opening to your air conditioning system, but if that gap was several thousand inches wide, then you were talking about some serious square footage. Finally, if you assumed that no one had the foresight to guard the air conditioning unit, then it would be a great place for a thief to infiltrate your bank.
   Coryn raised his blade, and using the momentum of his shield, propelled the sword right through the center of the artwork, from bottom to top. An unmistakable gust of air was being drawn in through the newly created gap, so Coryn stretched out with his shields, and filled it completely. He put both hands together, and motioned as if he was pushing out to the left and right. The flat shield layers followed suit, and the relief was ripped from its supports to collapse into the teller desks.
   This time, Coryn was certain that the thief was surprised. There was an opening almost the same size as the relief, and half as deep. The thief was hanging from a duct in its roof, obviously on her way up. After seeing Coryn floating there, she made an effort to scramble out of sight, but Coryn wasn’t about to let her. He formed a small bubble around her foot, dragged out out of the duct, and flung her into the open air of the lobby.
   The guards below ran to catch her, but before they had a chance, a dark object shot out from around her wrist, and latched on to the top of one of the room’s pillars. It activated on its own, and the thief was dragged up into the air with Coryn following closely behind her. He dropped back into his bubble, and spiraled up the pillar.
   As they ascended, the lobby floor turned from a great expanse to merely a light spot at the bottom of the tower. They were reaching the ceiling now, and the thief was running out of space. From this vantage point, Coryn could see a glass ceiling above them. The grappling hook was attached to the top of one of the pillars, but without a doubt the girl was angling to use the momentum to burst out through the skylight.
   This concerned Coryn for two reasons. Firstly, as mentioned earlier, this site had no exterior. If she sent through the ceiling, they would only end up between worlds, stranded on the open Net. That was not an ideal place to be, and only indicated the extents to which this thief was determined to escape. The second, was that if Coryn wanted to learn what she knew, then that meant he would be trapped in that void of data as well, and it was not something he wanted to do that day.
   So then, just, don’t let her do that. Check.
   Coryn poured energy into his propulsion, passed the thief, shifted to the side, and once he was far enough ahead of her, shot himself to the side. The pair collided, the grappling line snapped, and together they tumbled in and through several offices on the upper floors. Loose papers flew as they found their footing. They were in an open office plan, with rows and rows of desks flanking a central path. Coryn was back on his own two feet, and once again the two studied each other.
   No one else seemed to be on the floor. More than likely the employees had been evacuated to some designated area or the other, so Coryn and the thief had the space to themselves. Coryn readied his sword, although he hoped he wouldn’t have to use it. It stood to reason that the woman would break out another ranged attack. If he wasn’t careful, Coryn could very well likely lose her here.
   That was when she did the one thing he hadn’t expected. She ran across the office, onto the catwalk railing, and jumped.
   And Coryn jumped after her.
   Even for someone who knew what they were doing, it was a long way to the bottom. Coryn had spent years leaping off of skyscrapers, it came with the territory. But even if this girl was such an expert thief that knew she would survive, it only meant that Coryn would lose his opening if he didn’t saddle up and follow the daredevil stunt with his own.
   Together, they fell unassisted. Coryn was only a few dozen feet behind her at the start, but she was slighter than he was, and her posture was a pure nosedive. The moderator was steadily losing ground, and seeing as she was making no attempts to slow down, he figured that her escape would take place well before she hit the ground. His only recourse was to cut her off before then. Coryn lit up a fresh shield, and accelerated after her. As they approached the final hundred yards, a soft blue glow surrounded her. The masked woman was about to jump to a different site, somehow overriding the normal blocks put up the security minded bank who didn’t want people escaping into thin air. But those were things that could be worked around with enough time and expertise. If she had cased the bank properly, it would have been well within her repertoire. But she had just met Coryn, so there was one place he knew she couldn’t escape.
   Luckily, distance equals velocity multiplied by time was a very straight forward formula, and they had reached terminal velocity some time ago. Coryn reached out his hand, narrowed down on the right distance in front of the thief, and closed his fist.
   The thief tried to jump, but instead, she found herself caught in a shield bubble. Her connection to her destination could not penetrate, and she stayed exactly where she was. As soon as the masked woman realized this, she looked back up at her pursuer, and was just in time to watch as Coryn’s fist slammed into the side of her head as he phased through from his bubble into hers.
   His hand hurt, but Coryn couldn’t feel any broken bones. Despite his momentum, Coryn had failed to knock the mask off the thief’s face, but at least he had managed to bring them both to a gentle hault. He now stood on the tiled floor of the lobby, but Coryn had yet to disperse the shield surrounding them. The thief was definitely off balance, but she was coming around. Before that could happen however, Coryn made his move. Subtly, the mod adjusted the properties of his shield. It grew opaque, and although light still made it through, none of the curious onlookers could see or hear what was about to transpire within. “I’ll ask again. Are you here to steal The Golden Chalice?”
   The thief looked at Coryn. Her senses were getting back to normal now, but instead of attacking him, she just settled down onto the ground. After another wait, she responded. “I was here to steal something that might have led me to the Chalice. The genuine article isn’t here.”
   Coryn was intrigued, but disappointed. “Ah, so you didn’t get it then did you?”
   “No.” She said flatly.
   “No?” He said confused.
   “I got what I was looking for. Thanks to you, actually. I just came to scan this place’s records. When you busted through the walls of the vault you broke the seal on their data insulation. Everything I needed leaked right out.”
   Coryn could hear a hint of satisfaction in her voice. Sure enough, he checked his own logs, and there had been a spike in data flow during their chase. “So you know where we need to hit next?”
   She leaned back in surprise. “We?! This is a solo operation pal, and you aren’t invited.”
   “Ah…” Coryn cooed. “But you see, I’m the only one who can move through these shields, so you’re trapped in here. I walk out, and I’m just a hometown hero who stopped a bank robber. On the other hand…” Coryn stepped forward, and offered the thief a hand up. “You let me in on your little scheme, we share what we know about the chalice, and once we find it we both go our separate ways enriched by its power. Deal?”
   The thief’s gaze didn’t waver, not that there was much else to look at. Finally, she grasped Coryn’s hand, and rose to her feet. “Alright then. But if we’re going to work together, I need to know your name. I want something to use against you if this thing goes south.”
   “It’s Coryn Sken.” Said Coryn as he started to initiate a jump to a fresh site. “And what am I supposed to call you.”
   “What?! You don’t even know who I am?!” It was the first honest emotion she had betrayed the whole fight.
   “Should I?” Responded Coryn, with more than a little amusement in his voice.
   The woman jerked her head to the side with a huff. “Typical mark. I get no respect from the common masses.” She turned back to Coryn. “I’m Demon Thief Dai-yu, and don’t go forgetting that!”
   Coryn winked at her as the jump began. “Don’t tell me about names you shouldn’t forget.”

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline Coach Fro

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Re: Quest!: A MangaRaiders Story
« Reply #20 on: August 26, 2018, 08:50:29 PM »
You really know how to amp up the action in a story don't you, Coryn? I'll admit, I'm jealous. I wish my action scenes were this good.

And man the music selection was spot on. That song you linked for the bank fight scene couldn't had fit the mood more perfectly.

And looks like we're seeing an interesting group of Npcs taking part in this whole fiasco. Dai-Yu definitely feels like she's gonna spicing things up later on, which is gonna be a lot of fun to see. I'm curious as to how you're gonna connect all this madness together eventually.

Nice work man! Looking forward to the next update! 
Messatsu...



Offline Coryn

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Re: Quest!: A MangaRaiders Story
« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2018, 09:30:21 PM »
Thanks Fro! Yeah that song just came up on my feed and I knew it needed to be used.

I'm glad you're liking the NPCs. I really wanted to flesh out the fact that there's like, a whole civilization out there. Thanks to you again for Drifter helping me push that idea out there with this story. Sometimes it's too easy to forget.

I think I have a pretty good idea for tying things together. Still working out the details, but I've basically 'storyboarded' the plot with a music playlist, so it's been helpful in weaving this thing together. Still, I got a massive chunk just missing out of the second act, so hopefully I will come up with something before I reach it. Still got some room to go. *fingers crossed* I'd post the playlist, but I'm pretty sure it could spoil a few things.

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Offline Coryn

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Re: Quest!: A MangaRaiders Story
« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2018, 10:24:49 PM »
Okay, so I was thinking this out in the shower, since I wanted to give you a good breakdown. So here's Coryn's School of Fight Scenes.

The first thing I do is make sure I know the details of the venue, and the powers of the participants inside and out. Well enough that I can close my eyes at any point in the fight, visualize what things look like, everyone's relative positions, etc. Once that's down, it's really a simple process.

First, you have to let a little randomness enter the equation so you can at least get things rolling, but once they are, I just grind it out on pure logic. If character A does attack X, then character B would logically do technique Y to block it. If you have a good concept of who your characters are, then this should come pretty naturally to you. Then, it's just a matter of describing what you see happen next in your minds eye. If you can see the dirt getting churned up, then convey it in the writing so that your reader can too. I think it also helps if you really visualize things happening in the 'real' world as much as they are happening in an 'anime' world. It will help you get across a sense of physicality that just anime can't.

I can't really help when it comes to the language you chose in the moment, but as far as the 'choreography' goes, that's how I work through fights these days.

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF