Netbattles and Chill

With his first course of action being to split off his visage in two after distancing himself, Courseman's sight seemed to get the attention of the Prog, which immediately hopped to attention. "OH, THANK YOU!" the hard-hatted Prog said. "I WAS SENT HERE TO REPAIR THIS BRIDGE! THANK YOU FOR THE HELP!" The Prog's excited outburst caused the viruses to turn their attention towards their direction, but fortuitously, they were still around the bend enough that the decoy Courseman sent ahead was much more of a primary target. Immediately, the ColdHead viruses snapped their mouths shut, while the Megalians went on the offensive by launching their heads forward. One of the heads collided with the diversion and dispersed it, just as its backup popped up next to it -- the Needler turret. Rapid rounds of needle fire burst out towards some of the viruses, solidly impaling the two Megalian heads but ricocheting off of the ColdHead's spherical dome.

With reassurances given to the Prog, it cheerily responded with an "UNDERSTOOD! I WILL WAIT UNTIL THE OPERATION IS COMPLETE!" as it was covered in a protective watery mist. Once his real self glided out into the area, the Basher seemed to take note, and a dim reddish glow began to emit from its twin barrels. One of the ColdHeads also saw the shadowy figure come in, and split open its face to belch out a cannonball towards him. The ice ball landed just shy of his position, turning the snow next to him into sheer ice. After steadying his aim as well as he could, the shots rang out from his revolver. The sound of shattering metal came forth, with the shots landing on one of the ColdHeads, as well as the Basher, ending the latter just before it could launch its intended attack. Sparks flew next, as the Megalians' heads tried to retreat into the relative safety of their blue-shrouded bodies. Their luck would fail them as they were fried to a crisp from the electrical attack Courseman discharged.

Another cannonball flew past him into the snow, rather anticlimactically, freezing it into ice. The ColdHead that it came from was starting to spin itself around rapidly, presumably lamenting its lack of locomotion. Behind him, the Prog he had left for itself was peeking out from around the corner. It wasn't saying much of anything, and its permanently smiling face didn't betray any kind of expression either, so it just looked kind of strange.

-- Viruses --
ColdHead EXColdHead EX (ColdHead)

ColdHeads alternate actions between attacking and guarding. These are the only actions ColdHeads may perform, and the first action of every battle is always guarding. ColdHeads will not break from this pattern unless forced to by status effects. ColdHeads cannot be lifted or thrown, even with Rageclaw.

Area: SciLab, Sharo, Hades Isle

HP: 100
Attack Damage/Effect: 60 Aqua + Break + Small Ice Terrain Change
Attack Accuracy: C
Attack Description: Fires Cannonball. Breaking. Creates Ice Terrain.
Element: Aqua
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): IceBall1, Zenny
Special: Immobile.
- Iron Body when not attacking.
A: DELETED
ColdHead EXColdHead EX (ColdHead)

ColdHeads alternate actions between attacking and guarding. These are the only actions ColdHeads may perform, and the first action of every battle is always guarding. ColdHeads will not break from this pattern unless forced to by status effects. ColdHeads cannot be lifted or thrown, even with Rageclaw.

Area: SciLab, Sharo, Hades Isle

HP: 100
Attack Damage/Effect: 60 Aqua + Break + Small Ice Terrain Change
Attack Accuracy: C
Attack Description: Fires Cannonball. Breaking. Creates Ice Terrain.
Element: Aqua
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): IceBall1, Zenny
Special: Immobile.
- Iron Body when not attacking.
B: 100 HP (Snow, right of road)
BasherBasher (Basher)

Basher viruses are the top-tier of the stationary gunnery viruses with an unmatched single-shot damage output among the normal viruses. They are also the rarest of their class, and appear only after battle 5. They also never appear in large numbers in a normal battle, meaning the ratio of total viruses to Bashers should be at least 4 to 1. The attack cycle of Bashers is 2 actions long, regardless of which attack they use. The first attack requires one action to charge before firing, and the second attack executes twice in succession. If they are stunned, they resume their attack cycle where it was halted once the stun wears off. They don't move, and don't dodge.

Area: Sharo

HP: 120
Primary Attack Damage/Effect: 60 Fire + Break + Panel Break x3 Targets, 1 Action Charge
Primary Attack Accuracy: A
Primary Attack Description: The virus selects up to 3 targets, and spends an action charging up the main cannons. It then fires a Magnum blast that reduces most Network constructs to ashes with a single shot, usually leaving a blast crater where they once stood. It may target empty panels and objects as well as enemies.
Secondary Attack Damage/Effect: 10 Fire x3 Targets + Double Attack
Secondary Attack Accuracy: A
Secondary Attack Description: Fires a 3-shot spread from the left arm cannon, then follows up with an identical attack from the right arm cannon just after. Each cannon shot requires an action, and both attacks must occur one after the other.
Element: Fire
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): Magnum1 (Rare), Zenny
Special: Immobile
- Main attack destroys panels, reducing enemy evasion by 1 Rank.
: DELETED
Megalian-AMegalian-A (Megalian-A)

All Megalian-A viruses are equipped with Omnishoes, and fight from the air. This virus type will spend an Action Dodging, and then Attack the following Action. If there are more than one Megalian (family does not matter) the viruses will work together, alternating their attack Actions or attacking as a group (mod's discretion). When attacking, both the head and the base can be damaged separately (if the Aura protecting the base has been destroyed).

Area: Beach, Sharo

HP: 130
Attack Damage/Effect: 40 Aqua + Break + Piercing + Group attack.
Attack Accuracy: B (special)
Attack Description: Lines up with a target and launches its head at the enemy. Accuracy decreases with each hit.
Element: Aqua
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): AuraHead1, Barrier, Zenny
Special: Omnishoes: capable of free flight.
- Dodges every other Action. Attacks when not dodging.
- Has a 10HP Aqua Aura (Pierced and destroyed by Elec attacks).
- Can be attacked while head is extended.
A: DELETED
Megalian-AMegalian-A (Megalian-A)

All Megalian-A viruses are equipped with Omnishoes, and fight from the air. This virus type will spend an Action Dodging, and then Attack the following Action. If there are more than one Megalian (family does not matter) the viruses will work together, alternating their attack Actions or attacking as a group (mod's discretion). When attacking, both the head and the base can be damaged separately (if the Aura protecting the base has been destroyed).

Area: Beach, Sharo

HP: 130
Attack Damage/Effect: 40 Aqua + Break + Piercing + Group attack.
Attack Accuracy: B (special)
Attack Description: Lines up with a target and launches its head at the enemy. Accuracy decreases with each hit.
Element: Aqua
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): AuraHead1, Barrier, Zenny
Special: Omnishoes: capable of free flight.
- Dodges every other Action. Attacks when not dodging.
- Has a 10HP Aqua Aura (Pierced and destroyed by Elec attacks).
- Can be attacked while head is extended.
B: DELETED

-- Navis --
Courseman.EXE: 100 HP (Snow) (Shadow, Self-Slow)

-- Other --
Mr. Prog: 100 HP (Normal) (PPC Equipped: MetHelmet, 30HP Barrier)
Needler2HP: 80
Properties: Normal, Mobile
Object Damage: 80 Null + Impact + Break
Damage Method: Ramming attack, Telekinesis, Throw
Attack Damage: 40 Null x 2 hits x 3 Targets
Accuracy: A
Description: Summons a gun platform that attacks up to 3 separate targets each turn with its trio of double spike cannons. It can also perform a defense piercing kamikaze attack.
Duration: Until destroyed.
Element: Null
Special: This chip's accuracy cannot be boosted or reduced by any means, including RP quality.
- This object may ram a target instead of firing needles, but is instantly destroyed in exchange.
- This object may dodge by trying to ram nothing, but if it hits something in this way, it is still destroyed and deals object damage.
Trader Rank: C
: 80 HP (Snow) (30 HP Barrier)

-- Terrain --
20% Normal
  • No effects.
(Roadway through the snow)
30% Snow
  • Non-Aqua Elementals get -10% Evasion and reduced movement speed.
  • Wind attacks: +100% Source Damage. Imbue Aqua if Null. Change terrain hit to Ice for 1 turn after turn hit, then back to Snow.
  • Aqua attacks: 25% Freeze chance, change terrain hit to Normal if triggered. Boost chance to 100% if Ice-type.
  • Fire attacks: Change terrain hit to Ice, generate Frosty Mist: -10% Accuracy for Non-Aqua Elementals, +10% evasion against Non-Aqua Elementals, Freeze1 effect for any Aqua or Wind attacks.
  • PanelShot: Imbue Aqua + Freeze1.
(Everything else up to the ravine)
10% Ice
  • +10% Evasion to all. Non-Aqua Elementals get -20% Accuracy.
  • Aqua attacks: 25% Freeze chance, change terrain hit to Normal if triggered. Boost chance to 100% if Ice-type.
  • Elec attacks: +100% Source Damage.
  • Fire attacks: Change terrain hit to Sea.
  • PanelShot: Imbue Aqua + Freeze1.
(Two patches on either side of Courseman)
40% Missing
  • Permanent bottomless hole.
  • Doubles dodge penalties for bad RP.
  • EJO if you fall in.
(Ravine)
Courser was beginning to feel the strain of staying fully blended with his shadows as he resettled his stance and took a glance about the field. Fortunately, only one virus remained to be taken care of and he stood straight, beginning to glide towards it as his form shifted and split again, one body ambling to either side of the needle turret as they passed it.

As they moved, the impressions of colour fading away to a mixture of black shadows and white highlights. A few extra buttons on his shirt managed to fall open as his pace became languid in away that it wasn't before, despite being relaxed. On the other side, the other courser's appearance also shifted, filtering to monochrome shades while his skin paled and his eyes darkened slightly. They approached the ColdHead together, until, in a suddenly quicker movement, the more languid of the two CourseMen darted in and around, positioning himself to sit right beside the land-locked turret with a wide, lop-sided grin.

“Right-o... Let's get you open then, shall we? Don't worry, this won't hurt a bit.” With a lazy grace, the seated courser had produced a crudely sharpened prison shiv from somewhere and now spun it about his fingers, tossing it back and forth form one hand to the other. Across from him, the second Courser sighed and rolled his eyes, to taking a seat but instead tapping one foot and putting his hands on his hips. The seated Courser ignored him.

“Come on, little guy... Open... Up...!” With darting and prying motions, he began to jab the shiv into the seams in the virus' outer shell, striking at it with alarming force despite the crudeness of the implement as she sought a weak point to break open.

Opposite him, the other Courser slumped in obvious boredom, then leaned down and pointedly tapped his wrist at the one with the knife. The first Courser spun his shiv and shrugged. In a moment he was standing again, tucking the stealthy weapon away behind his back.

“I said...” With a manic grin, his hand came out again, pulling an improbably large, steel-headed block buster mallet from behind his back as he did. “Open. Up!” Gripped in both hands, he raised the hammer high, then brought it slamming down again in an effort to convince the virus with the far less subtle tool. The other courser only shook his head, though a small smirk betrayed a hint of amusement.

Further back, just in case Courser's messing around missed the mark, his needler took aim from the relative safety of the side lines, lining up one muzzle of its weapons with the ColdHead and waiting until it was properly open and exposed before firing a quick double flechette shot at it.

-=Summary=-

C1) Movement: towards ColdHead
C*) Shadow: Following with, implying that Courser is wasting time and is lazy. It recolours to resemble his MimeCross.
C2) JailBirdCross (Level 1, MeleeMastery, Bash, +10 to Null Chips)
C3) Dodge
C4) Prison Shiv: (20 x2Hits, Break, Nullify, Melee, A)
C5) Take Aim
C6) BigHammer1Damage: 160 + Impact + Break
Accuracy: B
Description: Summons a giant metal hammer to utterly crush one enemy that stands before you.
Duration: Once
Element: Null
Trader Rank: D
(170Null, Break, Impact, A)
C*) Needler: (40null, x2 Hits, A)
With the remaining ColdHead being a solitary target, Courser seemed to take a more lax approach towards clearing it up, with his split visages each playing a different role in the matter. One of them took point with the blue dome with a not-too-innocent grin, while the other... kept watch, for lack of a better word. The first one pulled out a knife to attempt to wedge the virus's maw open, with varying success. Prying it open was successful, sure, but at one point, he missed a seam entirely, and the shiv merely embedded itself into the steel dome, cracking it in the process. Maybe it was a bit too much force. Nevertheless, Courseman opted for the brute force approach soon enough, and the ColdHead stayed stock still as it was smashed with a gigantic hammer.

"HOORAY! THANK YOU!" the Prog from behind the two Coursemen cheered. Out of nowhere, the sound of a high-capacity diesel engine started up, and a massive yellow mobile crane came driving up from around the earlier bend, with the hard-hatted Prog happily manning the driver's seat. In front of the crane, the image of a grinning Prog-face was painted. "TIME TO GET TO FIXING!" it said, stopping just short of running the Coursers over. He would notice that the crane was carrying what looked to be a single giant bridge, fully assembled, painted in black and yellow warning colors.

-- Viruses --
ColdHead EXColdHead EX (ColdHead)

ColdHeads alternate actions between attacking and guarding. These are the only actions ColdHeads may perform, and the first action of every battle is always guarding. ColdHeads will not break from this pattern unless forced to by status effects. ColdHeads cannot be lifted or thrown, even with Rageclaw.

Area: SciLab, Sharo, Hades Isle

HP: 100
Attack Damage/Effect: 60 Aqua + Break + Small Ice Terrain Change
Attack Accuracy: C
Attack Description: Fires Cannonball. Breaking. Creates Ice Terrain.
Element: Aqua
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): IceBall1, Zenny
Special: Immobile.
- Iron Body when not attacking.
A: DELETED
ColdHead EXColdHead EX (ColdHead)

ColdHeads alternate actions between attacking and guarding. These are the only actions ColdHeads may perform, and the first action of every battle is always guarding. ColdHeads will not break from this pattern unless forced to by status effects. ColdHeads cannot be lifted or thrown, even with Rageclaw.

Area: SciLab, Sharo, Hades Isle

HP: 100
Attack Damage/Effect: 60 Aqua + Break + Small Ice Terrain Change
Attack Accuracy: C
Attack Description: Fires Cannonball. Breaking. Creates Ice Terrain.
Element: Aqua
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): IceBall1, Zenny
Special: Immobile.
- Iron Body when not attacking.
B: DELETED
BasherBasher (Basher)

Basher viruses are the top-tier of the stationary gunnery viruses with an unmatched single-shot damage output among the normal viruses. They are also the rarest of their class, and appear only after battle 5. They also never appear in large numbers in a normal battle, meaning the ratio of total viruses to Bashers should be at least 4 to 1. The attack cycle of Bashers is 2 actions long, regardless of which attack they use. The first attack requires one action to charge before firing, and the second attack executes twice in succession. If they are stunned, they resume their attack cycle where it was halted once the stun wears off. They don't move, and don't dodge.

Area: Sharo

HP: 120
Primary Attack Damage/Effect: 60 Fire + Break + Panel Break x3 Targets, 1 Action Charge
Primary Attack Accuracy: A
Primary Attack Description: The virus selects up to 3 targets, and spends an action charging up the main cannons. It then fires a Magnum blast that reduces most Network constructs to ashes with a single shot, usually leaving a blast crater where they once stood. It may target empty panels and objects as well as enemies.
Secondary Attack Damage/Effect: 10 Fire x3 Targets + Double Attack
Secondary Attack Accuracy: A
Secondary Attack Description: Fires a 3-shot spread from the left arm cannon, then follows up with an identical attack from the right arm cannon just after. Each cannon shot requires an action, and both attacks must occur one after the other.
Element: Fire
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): Magnum1 (Rare), Zenny
Special: Immobile
- Main attack destroys panels, reducing enemy evasion by 1 Rank.
: DELETED
Megalian-AMegalian-A (Megalian-A)

All Megalian-A viruses are equipped with Omnishoes, and fight from the air. This virus type will spend an Action Dodging, and then Attack the following Action. If there are more than one Megalian (family does not matter) the viruses will work together, alternating their attack Actions or attacking as a group (mod's discretion). When attacking, both the head and the base can be damaged separately (if the Aura protecting the base has been destroyed).

Area: Beach, Sharo

HP: 130
Attack Damage/Effect: 40 Aqua + Break + Piercing + Group attack.
Attack Accuracy: B (special)
Attack Description: Lines up with a target and launches its head at the enemy. Accuracy decreases with each hit.
Element: Aqua
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): AuraHead1, Barrier, Zenny
Special: Omnishoes: capable of free flight.
- Dodges every other Action. Attacks when not dodging.
- Has a 10HP Aqua Aura (Pierced and destroyed by Elec attacks).
- Can be attacked while head is extended.
A: DELETED
Megalian-AMegalian-A (Megalian-A)

All Megalian-A viruses are equipped with Omnishoes, and fight from the air. This virus type will spend an Action Dodging, and then Attack the following Action. If there are more than one Megalian (family does not matter) the viruses will work together, alternating their attack Actions or attacking as a group (mod's discretion). When attacking, both the head and the base can be damaged separately (if the Aura protecting the base has been destroyed).

Area: Beach, Sharo

HP: 130
Attack Damage/Effect: 40 Aqua + Break + Piercing + Group attack.
Attack Accuracy: B (special)
Attack Description: Lines up with a target and launches its head at the enemy. Accuracy decreases with each hit.
Element: Aqua
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): AuraHead1, Barrier, Zenny
Special: Omnishoes: capable of free flight.
- Dodges every other Action. Attacks when not dodging.
- Has a 10HP Aqua Aura (Pierced and destroyed by Elec attacks).
- Can be attacked while head is extended.
B: DELETED

-- Navis --
Courseman.EXE: 100 HP (Snow) (Shadow, Self-Slow)

-- Other --
Mr. Prog: 100 HP (PPC Equipped: MetHelmet, 30HP Barrier) (Vehicle Equipped: ProgCrane)
ProgCrane: 1000 HP (Snow)
Needler2HP: 80
Properties: Normal, Mobile
Object Damage: 80 Null + Impact + Break
Damage Method: Ramming attack, Telekinesis, Throw
Attack Damage: 40 Null x 2 hits x 3 Targets
Accuracy: A
Description: Summons a gun platform that attacks up to 3 separate targets each turn with its trio of double spike cannons. It can also perform a defense piercing kamikaze attack.
Duration: Until destroyed.
Element: Null
Special: This chip's accuracy cannot be boosted or reduced by any means, including RP quality.
- This object may ram a target instead of firing needles, but is instantly destroyed in exchange.
- This object may dodge by trying to ram nothing, but if it hits something in this way, it is still destroyed and deals object damage.
Trader Rank: C
: 80 HP (Snow) (30 HP Barrier)

-- Terrain --
20% Normal
  • No effects.
(Roadway through the snow)
30% Snow
  • Non-Aqua Elementals get -10% Evasion and reduced movement speed.
  • Wind attacks: +100% Source Damage. Imbue Aqua if Null. Change terrain hit to Ice for 1 turn after turn hit, then back to Snow.
  • Aqua attacks: 25% Freeze chance, change terrain hit to Normal if triggered. Boost chance to 100% if Ice-type.
  • Fire attacks: Change terrain hit to Ice, generate Frosty Mist: -10% Accuracy for Non-Aqua Elementals, +10% evasion against Non-Aqua Elementals, Freeze1 effect for any Aqua or Wind attacks.
  • PanelShot: Imbue Aqua + Freeze1.
(Everything else up to the ravine)
10% Ice
  • +10% Evasion to all. Non-Aqua Elementals get -20% Accuracy.
  • Aqua attacks: 25% Freeze chance, change terrain hit to Normal if triggered. Boost chance to 100% if Ice-type.
  • Elec attacks: +100% Source Damage.
  • Fire attacks: Change terrain hit to Sea.
  • PanelShot: Imbue Aqua + Freeze1.
(Two patches on either side of Courseman)
40% Missing
  • Permanent bottomless hole.
  • Doubles dodge penalties for bad RP.
  • EJO if you fall in.
(Ravine)

-- Encounter 9, Victory!! --
Rewards: 3850z, 15 BugFrags (Exact Kill (+2): Basher), +1 Basher Bounty
As Courser let the hammer fade away and turned back towards the corner where the Prog had been hidden, his outfit faded back to its normal colours and styles and the shadows fell away from his body, leaving the navi standing more clearly in the open again.

“Time for another quick run, Jen, I've got a moment to question the prog here, so I should be fine. Got the list?” Beside him, his monochrome decoy shook its head at his back then disappeared with a mostly hidden smile while Courser began to walk back towards the bend. He nodded briefly at Jenny's quick murmur of agreement.

“All clear, little guy, you can...” He was cut off as the prog brought out its version of 'bridge repairs'. He stood to the side and watched it drop down the entirely new replacement bridge with a vaguely amused eyebrow. “That's certainly... efficient.” He wandered across to the edge of the ravine and looked down briefly before turning back.

“I'm guessing you don't know what destroyed it in the first place, or where it goes, do you? I've been following some pretty strange anomalies out here for a little while now...” He shrugged and looked back towards the far side then folded his hands behind his head in a relaxed pose.

“I'm probably going to go take a peek over and see what's there, but any reports you've got would be good...”

((Post one without operator))
"STEADY DOES IT..." the Prog said, as the bridge was lowered into place, perfectly fitting into place of the ravine. After doing its work, the crane raised its hook, and the loud engine slowly whirred to a halt while the Prog hopped out. "DONE!" it proudly announced, while Courseman went to inspect the place for itself. When Courseman turned back, he would find the crane already gone, with only the Prog there hovering by his side.

"SORRY! I HAVE NO RECORDS STORED ABOUT HOW THIS AREA WAS DESTROYED. I WAS ASSIGNED TO REPAIR THIS AREA WHEN IT WAS DAMAGED. THIS PATH GOES UP TO A VOLCANIC SIMULATION RESEARCH AREA, REGISTERED UNDER SHARO NETWORK ADDRESS 88:FF:11:AA:12:9A. DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER QUESTIONS?" said the Prog, all with the same smiling face it always had.
Courser could only raise an eyebrow at the Prog's bridge repair, but eventually he nodded and shrugged. It was a long shot to hope that the repair program would have any information beyond its direct orders, but it was still worth checking.

“Right you are, little guy. Volcanic simulation and research, you say... I wonder if that has anything to do with the mass of artillery viruses, or the black-inked modified ones... Jen, you back yet?” there was no immediate response, but Courser shrugged and turned to go, waving to the prog as he left. “I'll probably go check that out then. Be careful...”

He kicked off and began gliding across the bridge and towards the area that the repair program had described to him, surfing the water current quickly now as it made gradual, drawn-out s-curves. One clone moved alongside him, crossing and complimenting his path as they went, and they both kept their eyes open to different sides as courser began to search for any sign of a connection between whatever was up here, and the odd virus population he'd encountered. It might be nothing, but it might be something as well – there was no telling until he checked.

“Whew... courser, I'm back and settled again, and everything is all processed! Find anything interesting while I was away?” Jenny's voice came through to him slightly out of breath again and courser grinned.

“Not yet, though be ready, the prog said there's some kind of facility up ahead here, past the ravine. Volcanic research. It might not have anything to do with anything, but the Basher turrets that we've been hunting are kind of out of place in Sharo, and their base code is fire aligned, so I thought it was worth checking.” He heard Jenny offer a quick affirmative and begin shuffling things back out of her bag and setting up as he continued to search.

((Second post without operation – Operator now returned))
((Ready for Battle 10))
Skating his way around the bend, the path led up a winding incline by the side of the mountain. The further he went, the scent of sulfur started to permeate the air, rising from a few cracks splitting the side of the mountain. Something he noticed as well was that the white road was now stained with some sort of trail of black soot. Besides that, despite the cold that generally characterized the Sharo networks, the temperature was starting to rise little by little, such that the snow that usually covered the area was replaced by white CyberPanels and dark red soil. Eventually, he reached the end of the road, where the incline opened up to an open gate in some wire fencing. The fence protected from what looked like quite a sheer drop on both sides of the clearing.

Further ahead was a tall grey barrier wall encircling some inner area, most likely a little over twice CourseMan's height. Despite the large red "no entry" signs propped up alongside it, something seemed to have melted clean through what appeared to have been a security checkpoint station close to the wall, creating a very large hole in the wall, that was as wide as the wall was tall. Beyond the breach, thick opaque clouds of gas obscured whatever lay beyond, but whatever was back there, CourseMan could certainly feel the heat radiating from it. Par for the course for a "volcanic simulation" area, most likely. There was also something stranger that CourseMan might notice; on either end of the hole, alongside upturned and melted barricades, the remains of a pair of Basher viruses lay unclaimed. The multi-barreled turret viruses had been thoroughly disabled, with their metallic bodies warped from being melted, probably by whatever had invaded the area.

Before CourseMan would be able to decide whether to investigate further into the area, loud pneumatic discharges could be heard echoing out from the breach, accompanied every time by a slow, metallic stomping. A cloud of gas blasted out from the hole, obscuring whatever was making its exit. Stomp, stomp, stomp, a slow, methodical approach. A massive shadow, reaching the top of the melted wall, appeared within the cloud of gas. Then, the gas suddenly cleared, blown away by jets of steam.

Standing there was a heavily-armored iron giant, its square grey features almost entirely caked in rust. Glowing red vents all about its body hissed with trails of vapor, the biggest source of which were two large towers jutting out from its back, around a cylindrical base covering the majority of its back. Around its large metal feet, a pool of lava trailed back from behind it. Beady eyes peeked out of a square-jawed metal head, as the heat CourseMan felt earlier increased further, clearly radiating out of the new arrival.

"Ahhhhh, nothin' like a hot soak! Can't believe they'd be hiding something like this way up here!"

In contrast with its otherwise intimidating stature, the voice that came from the giant sounded somewhat like a cheerful old man, albeit somewhat robotic. Being otherwise uncovered, a fluffy white towel was wrapped around the lower half of the giant's body. A small hand towel in its gigantic gauntlet-covered hands, the giant used it to wipe down the side of its rust-covered head. Then, he stopped wiping, staring ahead.

"... Hm? Another one? Come back for more?" the giant grunted. He stayed silent for a moment, eyes narrowed slightly. "... Deal with it however I want? Alright, sure, I could use some more exercise now." He threw the hand towel over his head, landing neatly over his neck, and balled up his fists. Even more steam burst forth from his vents, and the heat reached a crescendo, warping the air with its intensity. The giant widened his stance and stomped on the ground, causing it to split open, leaking forth a torrent of lava that quickly spread out around his feet. Around him, the destroyed Bashers and barricades sank into the lava, while he stepped into it up to his knees.

"Come on!" he roared.

-- Aging and Active --
ThermalMan.EXE: 500 HP (Lava)

-- Cool and Collected --
CourseMan.EXE: 100 HP (Normal)

-- Terrain --
40% Lava (Around ThermalMan)
60% Normal (Everywhere else)

Field Effect:
-- Volcanic Activity: At the start of each turn following the first, the volcanic crack will burst forth with Lava, increasing the area currently covered by Lava by 15%. Any non-Fire elementals caught in the vicinity take the same damage as standing in Lava for 1 action.

-- Battle 10, Start!! --
Moving in a graceful compliment with his primary decoy, Courser drew to a relaxed halt as he came upon the unwelcoming complex entryway. The rupture in the inner wall seemed... sub optimal for a simulation facility, or whatever else it was meant to be. His decoy peered at the steam clouds within, watching, while Courser briefly inspected the two destroyed basher turrets.

“Can't make out much of what's beyond there, boss, mind yourself...” The clone stepped into the breach, squinting through the steam and haze, but Courser himself just nodded. The turrets weren't set up like intentional installations, as far as he could see – they were near the rather unconventional hole, rather than an actual entryway. Cautiously, he drew one wave whip and slashed quickly at each ruined virus. Who knew, maybe the wrangler would count them if he was lucky?

As the next crash of sound and the accompanying steam blast shot out from the gap, Courser and his decoy both twisted away to put their backs to either side of the hole in unison. They had a moment to look up as the figure showed itself within the steam clouds, and back off a touch more in opposite directions as the impressive creature emerged.

“Woah there...” The left courser let his water current skip him back into some of a clear space away from the breach in the wall. The right hand one did the same, raising a cautionary hand as he did and speaking up from the opposite side.

“Easy on the magma works, friend! We're just here to look around!” Both CourseMen had huddled away from the metal man's stomping with a flinch, water and mist swirling about their bodies. Each made the display of hiding partially behind freshly focused shields of rushing water, one wave whip from each forming a broad barrier that flowed out from the central boss and away to the edges before cycling back around, but courser himself was ready to leap and split again, if their new friend proved immediately hostile; a glance at the field disposed him to roll left, while the fresh clone would roll right; it would take him closer to the cliff, perhaps, but he had enough eyes on the field to be mindful even if he wasn't watching it himself.

Given the size and apparent power of the iron giant before them, courser was more cautious than usual about not getting caught out or singled out from his decoys; each pair of eyes he had was watching for any indication that his potential opponent could see through the deception, and in the palm of his free hand, a small inky bead of water coalesced, tucked out of sight until he needed it.

“You know, I'm all for a dip in a hot spring with some fun company, but I'm pretty sure that's not what this place was for...” He shrugged and nodded his hear towards the ignored warning sign. Across from him, his clone peeked out carefully from behind his shield.

“Say... you must have seen those Bashers you just melted down, right?” It tilted its head. “We're not looking to fight, really. I'm CourseMan, that there's RiptideMan,” Courser's clone nodded in his direction. “We've been following the trail of all these excessive artillery viruses in the area... you had any trouble with them, or know anything about what's going on? We'd really rather chat than fight!”

While his decoy spoke, Courser flicked his eyes to the area just past the other navi, and the hole he'd emerged from. The erupting lava vents were a pain, but it made him recall the last time he'd used unstable explosives in an unstable area. His clone shot him a quick, incredulous look between talking, but courser continued. Behind the huge navi, steam condensed into dark coloured water and formed a line across the breach in the wall. It pulled tight against the ground, then faded from sight as a small bundle of complicated electronics formed on one side, just within the wall. The first time anything crossed the line of the breach again, the charge would detonate a potent explosive across the impromptu entryway. A little further in, the black, shadowy water appeared again, forming a pool on the ground, before giving rise to the round, bumpy shape of a large sea mine, all black metal and a single red display that showed a number three on its front. It it ended up in lava, the mine would bob on the surface.

It seemed like their new friend was in a tussling mood, regardless, but even as the navi and his duplicates sought to avoid whatever opening onslaught the metallic figure threw their way, they kept up smiles and something of an amiable banter. Each of them was watching carefully for the kinds of offence their target was going to favour; Courser had a lot of tricks up his ever multiplying sleeves, but most of them were double-edged, and using the wrong one could prove disastrous.

“No, really... Anything you know would be helpful! You seem like such a nice old gentleman, after all!” Behind where they were attempting to make the focus of the likely impending battle, the red display on the mine clicked over from three to two.

-=Summary=-

C*) First Barrier: (40Hp Barrier)
C*) First Armour: (10Hp Casing)
C*) Shadow: Moving right and mirroring Courser's behaviour; doing more of the talking than Courser, but it's fairly even
C1) Forked Streams: Trap(Incoming Attack against CourseMan): Multi-Stage: First (Dodge + Decoy(1 round)), Then (10Aqua, Shot-Type x2 Hits).
C*) Forked Streams Decoy, if/when triggered: rolling inwards, towards the inner wall and circling in that direction
C2) Shield NCP: 2-Hit shield
C3) No Peeking: Counter(Nullify or Seeking Attack directed against CourseMan or any of his decoys): (First: (Blind + Disarm, Shot-Type), Then (Decoy(1 round)).
C*) No Peeking Decoy, if/when triggered: splitting and moving towards the centre, back, near the gate where Courser entered the area.
C4) Dynamite1HP: 100
Properties: Light
Object Damage: 100 Null + Blast2
Damage Method: Throw, Knockback, Microburst, Telekinesis, Gust
Attack Damage: 100 Null + Blast2 + Line Attack + Seeking
Accuracy: D (thrown) / A (trigger)
Description: Sets a lightweight laser trip bomb. When something crosses the sensor beam, the bomb detonates a shaped charge that blasts an entire line. It can see through Invisibility. This weapon is very dangerous to use, caution is advised.
Duration: Until destroyed or until it attacks.
Element: Null
Special: Laser TAG: Attack triggers when something moves through the targeting laser beam, no matter who or what that may be.
Trader Rank: D
(100Null, Blast2, Line Attack, Seeking, A (on Trigger)) Trip line across the destroyed inner wall hole.
C5) TimeBomb1HP: 100
Properties: Anchored
Object Damage: 50 + Impact
Damage Method: Telekinesis
Attack Damage: 100 + To-All-Clause (Enemies)
Accuracy: S
Description: Places a bomb on the field that will explode after two turns, damaging all enemies.
Duration: 2 turns or until destroyed.
Element: Null
Trader Rank: D
(100Null, To-all(enemies), S, End of turn after next) Set up a short way beyond the trip line created by the Dynamite.
C*) Fast Barrier: (40Hp Barrier)
C6) Dodge, chat, and watch for the kinds of attacks ThemalMan favours, if he does attack.
The metal Navi paused for a moment, steam venting from his joints. The fists that he had readied at his sides relaxed slightly, and his small eyes narrowed further. He looked back and forth between CourseMan and "RiptideMan", grunting loudly, and his shoulders hung down. Taking the towel off the back of his neck, he straightened up to his full height, draping it over his arm.

"Alright, sure. It's not like I have anything to do while I wait for this place to heat up proper. This godforsaken Sharo place is too damn cold for its own good, makes everything ache." At the mention of a hot spring, he rubbed his square jaw in thought. "A hot spring...? Oh! You mean like those heated water pools; no, can't say I'd be much of a fan of rusting any more than I've already got now. I'll stick to what I know," he said, scooping up some lava in his hands and letting it pour from between his fingers.

Curiously, the towels around his hips and on his arm didn't seem to be burning at all from contact with the molten earth. "Excessive... what? Artillery viruses? Those big turret ones that were here before? Mmm..." he said, looking up from playing with the lava pool to look around the place, presumably trying to find the now-sunken viruses.

Scratching at his temple, he shrugged. "Can't say I noticed if there were that many of them when I got here... These two I found here, yeah, but those got scrapped pretty quickly. I just came here to do what I wanted to do. If you want to look around, be my guest, s'not much here."

While CourseMan began setting up his insurance around the place, the giant retreated a little backwards to the edge of the gurgling pool of lava. It seemed like it was about to erupt a little, but he paid it no heed and reclined against the edge. Once the TimeBomb was set, however, he looked up suddenly, looking to his sides in puzzlement. He didn't seem to notice the bomb itself, though, as it silently set itself up along with the Dynamite trip line, he went back to addressing the two. "Any reason you two're following them viruses? Just out of some sorta civic duty, or someone payin' ya?"

-- Aging and Active --
ThermalMan.EXE: 500 HP (Lava)

-- Cool and Collected --
CourseMan.EXE: 100 HP (Normal) (Barrier: 40) (Casing: 10) (Shield: 2)
(Decoy: To CourseMan's right)
(Trap: Forked Streams)
(Counter: No Peeking)

-- Terrain --
40% Lava (Around ThermalMan)
60% Normal (Everywhere else)

-- Objects --
Dynamite1HP: 100
Properties: Light
Object Damage: 100 Null + Blast2
Damage Method: Throw, Knockback, Microburst, Telekinesis, Gust
Attack Damage: 100 Null + Blast2 + Line Attack + Seeking
Accuracy: D (thrown) / A (trigger)
Description: Sets a lightweight laser trip bomb. When something crosses the sensor beam, the bomb detonates a shaped charge that blasts an entire line. It can see through Invisibility. This weapon is very dangerous to use, caution is advised.
Duration: Until destroyed or until it attacks.
Element: Null
Special: Laser TAG: Attack triggers when something moves through the targeting laser beam, no matter who or what that may be.
Trader Rank: D
: 100 HP (Normal, across breach in wall)
TimeBomb1HP: 100
Properties: Anchored
Object Damage: 50 + Impact
Damage Method: Telekinesis
Attack Damage: 100 + To-All-Clause (Enemies)
Accuracy: S
Description: Places a bomb on the field that will explode after two turns, damaging all enemies.
Duration: 2 turns or until destroyed.
Element: Null
Trader Rank: D
: 100 HP (Normal, slightly behind Dynamite1's trip line) (2 Turns Remaining)

Field Effect:
-- Volcanic Activity: At the start of each turn following the first, the volcanic crack will burst forth with Lava, increasing the area currently covered by Lava by 15%. Any non-Fire elementals caught in the vicinity take the same damage as standing in Lava for 1 action.
As they chatted and Courser sized up the scene, he sent a pulse of shadow to refresh his primary clone and keep it playing the part. It didn't sound like the navi was involved, but his first comments, Courser had to guess to an operator, had sounded like he had more purpose here than he was letting on. He let himself skate across to one side, absently examining the damaged outer fence while 'Courser' took over the conversation.

“Aye, well, we'd love to call ourselves good samaritans, sure, but really? The bounty on 'em's pretty nice. Unusual over-population in the area, so it goes, and there's a pretty decent Zenny reward for culling 'em, once you've hook up a contract before hand, if you follow.” He shrugged and winked at the reclining lava navi, gliding up the the edge of the pool, though of course, the clone didn't deign to dip a toe in.

“Got to say though... this place is looking pretty wrecked up... supposed to be a research and testing facility, or something like that... Now me, I'd never trespass on a private lot like this normally, but Riptide over there...” The decoy nodded his head back behind him. “My mate's a treasure-hunter first and foremost, and a badly damaged research place seemed pretty sweet for finding valuables, so we though.”

While the clone was chatting, Courser crouched down by the fence and beckoned with one finger. A small well of shadow formed close by him, until it became a narrow hole in the ice and snow. Dark waters rose from it an coalesced into the shape of a hard-hatted mole with a shovel over one shoulder. It had a slim armband with Courser's emblem on it, secured around its shovel arm.

“Right, little guy...” He spoke, loud enough for the other navi to hear, but clearly in a quiet tone mostly directed at the new summon. “Place is a bit ruined – watch out for the lava, and be careful of the gentleman over there too... but see if you can't find us some treasure, okay?” The mole gave a lazy, undisciplined salute and ducked back under the ground for now. Courser, as 'Riptide', stood straight again and looked around the area as the thermal activity seemed to be making more lava patches the longer the situation continued. He made efforts to avoid any of the newly forming patches with light footwork.

“Say, friend... Sharo really does seem like a pretty ill-suited network for a gentleman like you. I can't imagine you'd come up here just because you felt like it, and then complain about it... or, if I'm honest... bust up some poor sod's facility just for a hot bath... What brings you up here to do something like that, really?” Closer to the other navi, the one calling itself Courser grinned and stretched, hands behind his head as the appearance of softly swirling waters circled around him in lazy patterns.

“Aye... what d'you know that we don't, mate? Something... lucrative?” The clone arched an eyebrow with a smirk. The real Courser winced slightly as he peeked at one of the newly opened pyroclastic flows in the area, shielding himself from the heat with one hand; the misting water field around his arm shored itself up as the heat seemed to make his hand glow a redish-orange hue for a moment or two before he pulled back from it.

“Hey, Courser! This place sounds like it's getting more and more unstable. We probably don't have long to search it!” His voice was clear but casual; neither he nor his decoy sounded worried by this prospect, so much as noting the danger and moving on with the conversation. Back in the middle of the enclosed area, behind the laser trip line, the black mine clicked its dial over as the red number dropped from two to one.

-=Summary=-

C*) Shadow: Moving towards ThermalMan, still cautious but acting more relaxed now, and chatting.
C1) Dodge (ducking the spotlight in favour of letting his decoy lead conversation)
C*) 'Forked Streams' and 'No Peeking' decoys intended behaviours as before, if triggered
C2) MomograHP: 60
Damage: 15 + Backstab
Accuracy: B
Description: Creats a Momogra virus to aid you. Attacks with a shovel from behind, and has a constant Mole status that ignores terrain solidness when not attacking (unless the panel currently does not exist). Still affected by other effects of panels.
Element: Null
Special: Allied Virus: This virus has one action per turn, and is fully controllable by the summoner. If no orders are given, it will perform actions at random, but will never intentionally interfere with or damage the summoner or their allies. Deleting this virus will grant no additional rewards to either side.
Trader Rank: C
(no tangible combat orders yet, aside from 'look for treasure' – just to be ready)
C3) Dodge
C4) Stall for time and hopefully more information.
C5) Fire+30Status: Fire Element UP 30, Stackable
Accuracy: S
Description: Adds 30 Damage to all hits of a Fire Element attack chip, before any external environment-related or target-related damage modifiers apply.
Duration: Once
Element: Fire
Trader Rank: C

C*) Fast Barrier: (40Hp Barrier)
C6) Dodge and Stall