The Hunt Renewed

Maybe it was the outdated systems of the PET struggling to work that slowed her reaction.

Maybe that was why she found it easy to brush off the feeling that this situation was familiar.

When she examined the feeling telling her this, all she found was a fragment that pointed to memory space that no longer existed or had long ago been overwritted. Like a loose page torn out of a book and left on the floor.

"Yes, that's me! I'm glad you like my name. You have a weird one but it's kind acool too!" She chirped. She took a hand off the broomstick to give a little encouraging wave to Ego. The way the other Navi took the broomstick though...


"Outside...do you mean the real world or outside that current Net? Hm.." Sophia asked while Vasilia gave her broomstick a little wiggle, almost as if she was attempting to shake the tendril off.

It looked like the slime the witch-doll wasn't suppose to touch. It sounded like Ego who the witch-doll was trying to help. A sticker-like sweatdrop rolled down from under her hat to dash itself against the floor below. It was getting closer, maybe closer than she should allow?

[color=#CD7F32]"Wait, you're part of the white?" Sophia abruptly dropped her thinking pose, her face looming large in the video window that floated near her. "Then-Vasilia! Drop the broom and get away!"

"Okay!" She let go. Her hands released the handle as Ego's neck cracked loudly and then they flew to Vasilia's face, both of them covering the area where her mouth probably should have been. There was a sharp hiss of indrawn breath from Sophia as they watched the slime grown and consolidate, Vasilia leaning back to avoid it as it reached for her. Something scratched and scrabbled at her soles and finally when her body had long since appeared to be off balance she stepped back. Away from the tendril. Away from the head. "Oh no, oh no no no no i don't like this!"

"Vasilia!" Sophia's voice was sharp with something splintered and high. It brought back memories of a similiar cry as it rose above both Ego's stream of pleading and Vasilia's own denial of the situation. The doll pulled her hands from her face to knock them against her hat then shook her head wildly.

"I've pulled myself together! But what about Ego? She's in more pieces than I am!"

"I think... I think it might be too late for her. Her NetOp- if this thing wants to do something to him then we need to stop it! Or at least slow it down." The puppet's hands clenched and unclenched, bunching the hat in their grip as Vasilia stared. The scrabbling at her feet was worse now, but she didn't care about that. Was there really nothing they could do for Ego?

Something hurt in her core but she lowered her hands from her hand and gestured to dispell the broom back into bits of data. "Okay, I'm ready!"
A sickening sort of relief started to spread through Ego at Vasilia's protests. Being scared of her was good, she thought as firmly as she dared - scared meant they understood, or at least they were starting to. Scared meant the sweet voice with the pretty name was still alive, still discrete, and not just one more mindless shriek from somewhere in her head. Being scared would keep her safe.

Still, she wondered what she must look like now, to make the human shriek so.

"Yes...slow it...down. Th-the twins!" she startled herself by recalling, "i-in the lab. The one-in-two-bodies. They were..." where had they been? The blue one had told you, it hadn't been long ago...right? "..what did they call it? Po...lice? They didn't...understand - tried to help - it escaped - have to - warn...them..."

A gurgling moan cut her off. The tendril coiled over Vasilia's abandoned broomstick, pulling it down Ego's hollow neck with sucking squelches. "Heartwood...fractal...unguarded...familiar..." Egomorph gasped out, swaying from side to side, "this taste...Vasilia...is that you?"

[Prey is nearly within reach. Alerts are circulated into the main system from Administrator's client: with new rootcode nearly finished distributing, the white prepares to reactivate.


"N-no!" The pool eddied and swirled underfoot, "it - it knows you, why does it know you?" Ego's voice was starting to break at the edges, asking questions that made her shake to consider. Tendrils were creeping now from the edges of the pool; she felt herself being dragged slowly forward, towards Vasilia. There was a nauseating weight pressing all over her, like being deep inside the white. She shook her head; it was getting harder to hold up with every second. She saw herself from every angle but her own eyes, walking up to - "...a dome? So full...so many signatures. It ate something there...a Navi? No...no, something else. It just...reached out there. Reached out, and - it tasted you. It recognized you-"

The realization burned as hot and sudden as acid - all at once the panic returned, redoubled, and slid straight down into stark, screaming terror. The pool drank deep of her unrest, a dozen new feelers writhing and churning their way out the edges of the pool. There was a feeling like sliding feet-first down a giant's gullet: Ego felt the pressure creep up her legs, balloon in her belly, swallowing her up from the inside out. She was out of time.

Irregular shapes drifted beneath the pulsing surface of the white. Egomorph's halos crackled, casting their bloody light in jagged arcs - above the rising hiss of static, the Support Program cried out, "It...IT FOLLOWED YOU HERE! R-RUN! RUN!!""

<(ACCEPT PVP REQUEST? Y/N)>
"Twins in a lab? That could be more specific." Sophia muttered as Ego spoke. Eventually though the pile of parts that use to be a girl (or still were a girl? Ego's condition was a mystery) spit out the word 'Police' and even Sophia knew she could do something with that.

Surely the country didn't have that many twins in a lab who worked for the police.

Vasilia snapped her fingers and her broom disappeared! Just not in the way she had wanted. She froze as the broomstick was ingest and leaned forward as Egomorph spoke.

"Familiar? You know me?" The puppet asked, wonder in every word. She had been ready to flee but- those crumbs of not-quite-memories still nudged her awareness. Despite her yearning, despite her attempts to chase that thought-train any further the tracks stubbornly refused to magically extend past where they abruptly dead ended. One hand crept to the witch-doll's emblem, an unconcious act as the puppet started to babble. "I'm, I, I don't remember you! Were you there?"

"That is not good sign." Sophia said as horror crawled up her spine and Ego continued to talk. The scary-creepy white goop apparently recognized her Navi, remembered her from some time when it had eaten something that wasn't a Navi? That part was confusing but it didn't really matter. There was only one real option here. She jammed her finger on the jack-out button only to be met with a pop-up message box and a loading bar.

ER̴ROR: Unable to q̸u̸i̴t̴ until active processes a̵r̷e̴ closed. Now closing processes. T̷i̷m̸e̵ remaining: µ2:7¢

"You glitchy piece of-" Sophia snapped her mouth shut as her eyes landed on the many search tabs she had been using while Vasilia spoke. Her fingers scratched against the control panel for the bike. Distantly she was aware a few people were gathering to watch the events on the screen. She caught whispers of commentary but she couldn't spare the brainspace to translate. "Vasilia, you have to start running! I can't jack you out yet, there's a delay, a timer but it's broken, you have to run! Run so that that thing doesn't catch you!"

She broke off as Ego's weird halo-thing sent off spikes, as the support program started to yell. The witch-doll didn't hesitate any further. As much as she wanted to stay, as much as she wanted to help it was obvious that she couldn't, not now anyways.

"I'm sorry! It'll be different in the future, I promise!"

(PVP Request: Accepted)
What started as a cautious desire to help had rapidly spiralled into horror and madness as Hex woke, Ego fell away and all that remained was panic amidst the impulses of fight and flight. Vasillia was not safe, and in that moment she became aware of just how deserted the empty back-alleys and rarely travelled by-ways of the remote area of Sci-Lab actually were right now. There was no-one around to help, or to witness her plight. She could run, but how quickly could the amorphous monstrosity move? She could fight, but how exactly did you fight something like that? Ego's screams echoed between the high-rise structures that cast the light from above into tilted rays.

In this moment, they were in a small oval-shaped plaza, raised and suspended between walks that moved between the many tall structures all around. There were only two pathway out of the normally peaceful rest space – one lead back behind Vasilia, between two buildings before curving away to the left. The other was at the far end, behind the swelling mass of nightmare-fuel, and seemed to lead to a down-ward curving ramp.

The plaza itself had a small garden feature in the centre, with a single tree, as well as a neat park bench on either side. There were railings, but a glance off the edges revealed more walk-ways below, leading in different directions – a fair jump and a drop for a navi throwing themselves over the side, but against staying where she was, it was perhaps another option for the desperate.

-=The White=-
Hex: 180Hp [Metal]
Egomorph.SP: 90Hp [on Hex]

-=The Witch=-
Vasilia.Exe: 120Hp [Metal]

-=The Walk-Way=-
60% Metal
  • Cannot be Broken or Cracked except with Geddon/PanelShot, cannot be Burrowed into.
  • Elec attacks: +100% Source Damage.
  • 100 Damage Aqua attacks: Change terrain hit to Cracked.
  • 100 Damage Fire attacks: Change terrain hit to Furnace.
  • PanelShot: Imbue Elec + Break.
[large ovular plaza]
20% Grass
  • Wood Elementals get +5 HP/action.
  • Fire attacks: +100% Source Damage, change terrain hit to Soil.
  • PanelShot: Imbue Wood.
[Small greenery feature in the centre]
20% Solar
  • Elec Elementals get +5 HP/action.
  • Wood attacks: +100% Source Damage, change terrain hit to Cracked.
  • PanelShot: Imbue Elec + Stun1.
[thin strips along the edges of the area, like edge-guards]

-=Fight or Flight, Begin=-
"Battle routine set! Execute!" The video screen disappeared as the PET prioritized the Navi's functions to the exclusion of all others. Her voice stayed with Vasilia, and the puppet only.

"Vassie! We're going to get a bit tricky here, okay? Make for the path behind you but don't run that way yet."

"Okay! I can do it!" The witch-puppet's fingertips began to glow and she lifted her shoes in sequence to tap her fingers against them and activate the defensive spells imbued within. Immediately they began to stomp in place, prepared to intercept attacks directed toward the main body and Vasilia readied herself to run.

The hands below her moved themselves to assist. They squirmed out of the confines of her shadow and raced across the net to scratch and tear at the metal, wearing the area away and turning it to dust and dirt.

"Goodbyyye~ creepy goop!" Vasilia waved a still glowing hand above her head as she took several steps backward, her body already turning to the path behind her. It was the obvious, safest path away from the goop monster and the doll wondered why they weren't taking that route but she trusted Sophia! Her NetOp was smart!

"Incoming, Vasilia! Use this then make a break for it!"

"Oooh...I'm really sorry about this Egomorph! We can still be friends later, right?" Magic flooded Vasilia's system and she sketched a horizontal cylinder in the air and then slapped her hand against it twice. With loud 'pop' a log appeared for each slap and went bouncing toward the White and the it's unfortunate lure. Now that the logs were away, such a good spell!!!, Vasilia was on her way! Her boots smacked against the ground as she raced for the railing.

If she made it to the railing there would be a shriek of fearr before one of her hands turned into a cannon and, following her super-smart NetOp's instructions, she fired in such a way as to hopefully align her better with one the walkways below.
Battle Log

1) Kick-Out!- 2-Hit Shield and Counter(Last Shield broken): 10 Wood + Knockback + Self Slow - 2 TCD
* Set Soil
2) Feint toward path behind her + Evasion boost from Soil -Evasion Self Slow debuff
3) RollingLog1Damage: 50 + Ground Attack + Wide Attack (2) + Double Attack
Accuracy: C
Description: Rolls a log at enemies. Can hit up to two enemies at once per log.
Duration: Up to 2 uses before the end of the turn.
Element: Wood
Special: Double Attack: After spending an action to attack with this chip, you may choose to spend a second action and attack with it again before the end of the turn.
Note: This chip used to be known as RingLog1
Trader Rank: D
@ Hex/Ego (+5dmg Same Element Boost) +100% Final Damge from Soil/Change to Grass
4) RollingLog1Damage: 50 + Ground Attack + Wide Attack (2) + Double Attack
Accuracy: C
Description: Rolls a log at enemies. Can hit up to two enemies at once per log.
Duration: Up to 2 uses before the end of the turn.
Element: Wood
Special: Double Attack: After spending an action to attack with this chip, you may choose to spend a second action and attack with it again before the end of the turn.
Note: This chip used to be known as RingLog1
Trader Rank: D
@ Hex/Ego (+5dmg Same Element Boost) +100% Final Damage from Soil/Change to Grass
5) Movement -> Up and over the railing + Evasion boost from Soil -Evasion Self Slow debuff
6) CannonModeEffect: Adds +20 Null and Knockback to your Buster Shot Attack.
Accuracy: Buster Accuracy = A
Description: Your Custom Weapon vanishes, and is replaced with a Cannon. Your buster returns to normal when the chip effect ends.
Duration: Number of Uses equal to double your Rapid stat. Cannot be Broken.
Element: Null
Special: Overrides Buster. Disables Charged Shot.
Trader Rank: D
1/2 uses -> Midair manuevering onto walkway

Cooldowns
Kick-Out! - 0/2

Chips Used
CannonMode
RollingLog1
The scream cut out. Egomorph lay still, frozen but for the tentacle's crawling. An incandescent red glow settled in the space between her halos, refracting bloodily against the metal skyway. From underfoot came a quiet, bone-deep drone of static.

Ego stood, or rather, straightened. Her legs were gone, now; a column of white ooze held her torso aloft, tattered dress hanging empty from the waist down. Tendrils crept from her wrists, joined the larger one from her neck in creeping forward, ever forward.

The earth itself seemed to speak, with a voice like scraping metal, [Gestation complete > Command: administrate]. The Conduits' crackling grew audibly louder as the oozing pool began to boil over with its own mass, rising higher and higher off the ground. The dark shapes loomed within, stared Vasilia down with too many empty eyes, and-



-breached the surface.

As Egomorph disappeared under a layer of dead, hollow skin, the pool lurched with its newfound mass. Administrating its own growth, a carved-out head oozed out and became a shoulder - it in turn vomited an alabaster leg, shattering its jaw around its base. Tarry black veins seeped from the pool's depths and knitted the grisly arrangement together, and then the white had an arm with which to drag its pool forward. More of it seeped into the Net with every second, spurting out of the shell in feelers and tentacles.

They all pointed in one direction. In catching her signature and tasting a sliver of her being, a part of Vasilia had vanished into Hex's event horizon, which reached endlessly to draw all things into itself. It knew its objectives, had gestated and processed them prior to reactivation - now Hex was awake, in full intelligent control of itself, and there was nothing left to distract it from obtaining the rest.

<heartwood/fractal/unguarded> was fleeing. In a surging wave, it pursued.

All at once, the Net was filled with grinding, stamping cacophony. Still swelling and sewing itself together, the white crawled after Vasilia on a tumble of hands and things it had crushed and mangled into hands. Some had eyes; others, whole faces stretched and reaching in dreadful ways; some were nothing but grasping teeth. Stretched tall above the crawling depths was Egomorph, only recognizable by her halos and the thick, undulating tendril that had broken her head off. Her arms were rigid as antennae, fixed out and slightly up in a pose that looked almost religious, as though the white were saying (were Vasilia to look back at what followed her), 'behold, all that we have become; behold, all that you shall become'.

The Conduits were spinning faster and faster, whining with staticky feedback. [Command: Activate] the voice from below said, and pushed against its connection to the halos. Crimson light arced off the rings from the power spike, the energy processed from the white seeping back into it. Feeding off its Administrator's power, it gave a triumphant gurgling bellow, and charged.

Little attempt was made to avoid the obstacles <heartwood/fractal/unguarded> had set down in its path. Barely sentient (albeit intelligent), perpetual motion was the white's natural state - to deter its advance would take a significant display of force, and while well-coordinated, Vasilia's log trap failed to register. It went through the rail as much as over it, Egomorph's tendril shooting through the air after Vasilia as she made her desperate leap. The body carried its trajectory after her, ooze piling upon itself, all the momentum of its charge behind one single, grasping, hungry point. It was getting closer.

-Turn Summary-
-FastArmour [40 HP Casing around Hex]
-One for All [Link Hex & Ego's HP]
E1. Equip [nested doll-body, Ego inside Hex]
1. Feint [ADVANCE]
2. Buster Charge
3. Movement [FOLLOW]
4. Buster Charge
E2. Command: Activate [Random Effect, mod rolls d10; 1TCD]
Possible Activations
1 - Hollow bodies rise from the pool, to be grifted on as disposable armour.
Effects: 2-Hit Shield (random ally)

2 - A cloud of crackling static bursts from the pool and settles over its creator.
Effects: 40 HP Barrier (random ally)

3 - Hex's pool is churned and agitated, seething with aggression.
Effects: Sig Chill (random ally)

4 - The pool directs its code to gather, corrupt, and rupture into a toxic haze of static that befouls all it settles over - even Hex itself.
Effects: Glitch 2 (indiscriminate target)

5 - Ego is pulled under. The pool lurks underfoot, feeling out its next target.
Effects: Burrow, Take Aim (Egomorph only)

6 - Hex or Ego begin moving erratically.
Effects: Haste (random ally)

7 - Tentacles rise from the pool, sensing, reaching out from every angle.
Effects: Accuracy Enhancement (random ally)

8 - A misshapen pile of sewn-together bodies is raised for cover. Upon its destruction, it bursts into a noxious slurry of energized matter, which is consumed by the white as fuel.
Effects: Summon 20 HP CorpseHeap (in front of random ally), Trap (When Destroyed): (15 Healing, random ally)

9 - The pool reaches out to eat at the terrain, growing stronger for the added mass.
Effects: Medium Cracked Terrain (random location), Strengthen 20 (random ally)

10 - Red light bleeds from the Conduit and surrounds Ego in a searing aura, damaging her but increasing her strength several-fold.
Effects: 60 Strengthen, Sacrifice 15 (Egomorph only)
5. Movement [CHARGE]
6. D̴̺͊̾I̴͍͍͛S̵͙̕Ȃ̸̢R̴͑͗͜M̷̺̑͝
As Hex arose and began to spill forth onto the network, a brief lurching moment of predator and prey passed between Vasilia and the writhing mass. The body formed up, covering itself in more data even as its mass stretched and expanded, while Vasilia started up her own emergency precautions. The navigator flinched backwards, beginning to back away and in a lurch, the White followed. Another step, a larger lurch, and then Vasilia began to flee.

As she made for the far end of the rest area, Hex followed after, giving chase. It moved, taking what remained of Ego with it, the remains of her ruined body displayed almost like some macabre deific martyr. It came on, gaining speed as it crossed the distance, unheeding of the attacks that Vasilia threw behind her. One long bounced and rolled, slamming into the mass of body parts and sinking in; the broken limbs and twisted remains cushioned it, then gripped on, wrapping themselves around the offending piece of data and drawing it into the white.

The second log struck the ground and upended itself, tumbling end over end to crash with full force into the ego-shaped body lure and the seething nightmare below at once, but though this seemed to ruin most of what remained of Ego's form, the log remained wedged upright in the white mass, driven partially through doll's shape. It shifted and twisted, beginning to be devoured as the horror surged forward.

The chase had become a sprint now, as Vasilia's feet thumped through the soft soil and Hex's mass became an onrushing torrent that consumed everything behind her. Ego's tether crackled and activated, but it was hard to tell what it had done immediately; there was no visible sign other than the pulsing red light (Effect: Sig Chill: applied to Command:Activate itself).

Just as grasping tendrils reached out to being curling around Vasilia's various parts, the navi heel-turned and dove to one side, going over the railing as much of Hex's bulk thundered past. Grasping hand-facsimiles and reaching tendrils lashed out, arresting its forward momentum and heaving it around to give chase again.

Free-falling for a moment, Vasilia transformed one hand to blast herself back under the platform and inward towards a lower walkway, perhaps hoping that the Hex mass would continue to fall to the much greater descent below them. The shot pushed her back easily, but even as it fired, the surging, twisting horror of the white pursuing blocked the light and filled her vision above. It oozed like a hungry flood down over the rail, while grasping parts shot out in every direction to grab onto the lower railing and stop it from falling further. Multiple tendrils continued to reach for Vasilia even as she pushed away from it; two caught onto her cannon hand and wrapped around it, followed by a sensation of hunger and screams.

Vasilia felt a tugging sensation, trying to pull her back towards it again, before she came free, landing roughly and rolling over twice to fetch up against the far railing of the crossing walkways below. She'd made it down safely, but she hadn't thrown off her pursuit. In the moment it took the navi to pick herself up, she could see the hideous mass of aberrant data clawing its way back up over the side of her new location. Two of its tendrils caught her eye for a moment; they had something. The cannon she had just fired was wrapped in white mass and cracks laced it, but the muzzled wavered before pointing itself towards Vasilia. It was enough to realise in that moment that the whole apparatus had been torn free; the hand that had helped her stand again was the only one she had right now. She couldn't feel her other hand at all any more.

This lower walkway split and branched; one led back into a high-rise building, with the faint green light of a wide archway marking it as a public entrance of some sort. To her left, a smaller gantry skipped over to a different building; there was a door, with a hand-print panel on one side, for access. In the centre of the area, directly between Vasilia and where Hex was in the process of mounting the railing, a broad spiral stairway, with an open central shaft, seemed to descend all the way to the ground, a long way below. The final path curved back upwards at a gradual angle, but it was obscured by a large yellow and green machine that was trundling along the walkway towards them. It had a selection of spinning brushes that were cleaning the path, and a smiling prog operating the controls. It seemed largely oblivious to the horror show that was unfolding before it.


-=The White=-
Hex: 125Hp [Over Missing, but stable][2 Buster Charges][ CannonModeEffect: Adds +20 Null and Knockback to your Buster Shot Attack.
Accuracy: Buster Accuracy = A
Description: Your Custom Weapon vanishes, and is replaced with a Cannon. Your buster returns to normal when the chip effect ends.
Duration: Number of Uses equal to double your Rapid stat. Cannot be Broken.
Element: Null
Special: Overrides Buster. Disables Charged Shot.
Trader Rank: D
successfully captured; 1 use remaining]
Egomorph.SP: 1Hp [on Hex]

-=The Witch=-
Vasilia.Exe: 120Hp [Normal][A Hand Down: Only one wield slot available for remainder of fight][Kick-Out: 2-Hit shield + Counter][Self-Slow]

-=The Walk-Way=-
60% Normal
  • No effects.
[Branching walkway]
40% Missing
  • Permanent bottomless hole.
  • Doubles dodge penalties for bad RP.
  • EJO if you fall in.
[A large drop; falling will not necessarily result in EJOs, merely a change of battlefield, or potentially an end to the chase if enough separation occurs]
Nothing had gone exactly as planned and the seperation between what was wished for and what was reality was startling at best for the novice Net Op and Navi team.

But this situation was no where near the best.

Frightening might be better term, or maybe horror film-esqe...it certainly brought a few black and white images to Sophia's mind as she watched the scene unfold on the moniter over her bike, completely focused on the pet and the screen and the meager pile of chips in front of her.

"Egomorph! I'm so sorry!" Vasilia's hands couldn't stop, couldn't slow their frantic actions as she tried to keep ahead of the surging tide. If she had been able to stop, if she had the time to spare they would have been cupped over her face in an expression of horror as the logs impacted against the broken doll. The one she had promised to try to save, the one she had wanted to protect-

Something sharp and painful lodged in the witch-puppet's chest as she tossed herself over the railing. It wasn't fear at the fall, she wouldn't remember the pain from something like this anyways, no the fear was in the kernal of memory that was sprouting panic at the sight of the bodies sticking out of the White's nightmarish mass and the words being spoken. The panic was in her hand being engulfed, in the familiar way her name was called.

"Vasilia!"

The panic was in the fact that even with her limb torn from her body and the connections that let her control it being snapped she could still feel it.

The realization hit her as her shoes hit the pathway and she staggered, her intact hand groping blindly at the spot her other one should be. She could feel it, still, could feel the tacky slime sliding over and around her, dragging at the hard edges and corners of the gun-shape it had assumed.

"It stole your gun? I'm sending you another chip! Start running!"

Sophia's voice wass foggy and distant but the little puppet still tried to do what she said. The puppet staggered away from where she had landed, letting for once the hands beneath her feet guide her with their incessant tugging.

Left foot, pause, right foot, pause.

More ungainly than even her normal steps and so slow, too slow. The hands grew frustrated. They scratched and scrambled and tore at the smooth pathway until it began crumbling to dust and dirt.

"MOVE Vassie! I can't send you another chip- I don't know why! It says something about a limit but- oh! Because it stole the chip! I still can't log you out, you have to run!"

Vasilia came back to herself with a start. Sophia was worried and it was the doll's job to stop that!

"Und- under- I got it! I'll get moving!" She suited words to action and twirled on one foot away from where she had been standing with the faint hope of avoiding the deluge. She surveyed Egomorph's remains once more while something tightened in her chest and crushed out the sharp pain before, smothered it under cold and a flash of an image of her body laying there instead.

She turned and fled.

There was a machine ahead of her. Her angle of vision was all wrong, she didn't see or didn't register the Mr. Prog perched in the driver's seat. She saw only the possibility offered by something bulky enough to obstruct the path and keep the White away.

1) I can feel myself being eaten! - do nothing
2) Shadows' puppet -> Dodge +Self Slow nerf
3) Dodge + Self Slow nerf
4-6) Movement -> Toward

Active
Kick-Out! - 2-Hit Shield and Counter(Last Shield broken): 10 Wood + Knockback + Self Slow

Cooldowns
Kick-Out! - 1/2

Chips Used

CannonMode
RollingLog1
Halfway-dangling over the long drop, the pool flattened and clung to the edge with veins and clinging protoplasm. Every hand that had made it over the rail smashed itself into the ground; unseen beneath the road, the shell's dangling edge split open at the seams. White slithered from the cracks in a snakes-nest of tentacles, climbing the patchwork body's jagged ridges and looping back into its own mass like an abstract ouroboros, jettisoning the hollow deadweight as it went. The logs were already cracking and splitting where they'd stuck fast - ooze mixed with wood pulp into a lumpy, bubbling semi-solid that tried to form teeth even as the white pulled it down to feed on. Through it all, two tentacles wound slowly over their capture with something like reverence. Its Administrator quantified the weapon wrapped over it, yes - but the hand within, and its connection to the mind that moved it was the white's true prize.

One scraped open a hole and made its entry. It was not quick.

Egomorph was the last thing to be dragged over the edge. A few scraps of white fabric were all that remained of the little girl Vasilia had found just minutes ago, now floating in a lumpy pustule that looked like nothing so much as a tumour on Hex's surface. Wood pulp fused like mortar with the skin that stretched over her bubble, and then she was a tumour with writhing tendrils and too many mouths. The Conduit hung pristine and untouched, if slightly dimmer from the white's damaged connection.

[Command: replicate] Its connection damaged, Hex's voice sounded farther away this time. The pool seeped and spread, eating itself a foothold on the walkway. All it consumed was taken under and digested into more oozing white, which Hex fed right back through its window, bolstering slightly the pillar-like connection that clung to the Net's underside. The oozing pile and its tumour visibly swelled with yet more mass. Ego's halos steadied some, glow intensifying - her many mouths gibbered and gnawed at each other. [Command: activate] The voice sounded closer; Egomorph remained a writhing but immobile beacon to its master. The white seemed to suck the light right out of the air, flaring bloodily from within as the energy it processed from itself was in turn digested, and converted into yet more mass and might.

Pulsing arhythmically and brimming with red luminescence, static humming deeper than bone., a flailing mess at the walkway's edge, the white almost hurt to look at. This, along with the slow, savouring burrow of tentacles into Vasilia's hand, as it continued its dizzying motion a few seconds after it had found its foothold, was not unintentional.

It lunged. The hunt renewed, the cacophony resumed like it had never paused. Hands upon hands smashed the ground in her wake, split themselves to shards only to vomit out more skittering fingers. As it neared, more and more hands started reaching around the Navi as much as for her. The amorphous mass crowded the path, herding her to the edges. Shards of a trademarked smile leaked out in places - the white knew the scent of Mr. Progs well, knew them to be empty and tasteless compared to the rich wealth that lay in a Navi's cortex. It had little use for the insubstantial mouthful ahead or the device it drove, and it wanted them gone (it wanted its prey helpless, alone).

Amidst the tangle of hands, Vasilia's own was raised against her on the end of a long coiled tendril - over far too many seconds, it had burrowed all the way through, the sharpened tip slithering out the cannon's cracked barrel. For a moment it swelled up, wooden fingers splintering as pressure built inside - so much so that when the tentacle shot after Vasilia, the cannon blew apart. A small forest of little feelers rose from the pool to sweep up the remains, careful not to miss a morsel. The tentacle flew with the force of a bullet and all the mass it could fit behind the amorphous blow - if it didn't go right through, the force alone was liable to send Vasilia tumbling off the ledge, just how Hex wanted her.

Whether she fell or continued to run, the white's hunger-driven tunnel vision kept it following her all the same. It was all around Vasilia, a constantly moving blur of whipping feelers and pounding, stamping legs that would not stop spurting from the pool. It had tasted her spark, her mind, and the force she could bring to bear. Now it was wary enough to add this extra layer of unpredictable terror to its pursuit, and prepared to retaliate in kind.

A tentacle grew from the writhing white grass. Studded along its length were the splinters of Vasilia's hand, woven with veins into cruel thorns that even still reached out for the once-them. Something in <heartwood/fractal/familiar> signalled through the connection of hands to the white, a fragment of a passage of growth. As the thorned whip came down in a lashing storm, Hex sought out that dormant seedling of self-outside-of-self in Vasilia's core; reached out to touch it, feed it, make it grow and bud and flourish and blossom.

-Turn Summary-
*FastArmour [40 HP Casing over Ego]
E1. Command: Replicate [30 Healing, Hex & Ego; 2TCD]
E2. Command: Activate [Random Effect; 1TCD]
Possible Activations
1 - Hollow bodies rise from the pool, to be grifted on as disposable armour.
Effects: 2-Hit Shield (random ally)

2 - A cloud of crackling static bursts from the pool and settles over its creator.
Effects: 40 HP Barrier (random ally)

3 - Hex's pool is churned and agitated, seething with aggression.
Effects: Sig Chill (random ally)

4 - The pool directs its code to gather, corrupt, and rupture into a toxic haze of static that befouls all it settles over - even Hex itself.
Effects: Glitch 2 (indiscriminate target)

5 - Ego is pulled under. The pool lurks underfoot, feeling out its next target.
Effects: Burrow, Take Aim (Egomorph only)

6 - Hex or Ego begin moving erratically.
Effects: Haste (random ally)

7 - Tentacles rise from the pool, sensing, reaching out from every angle.
Effects: Accuracy Enhancement (random ally)

8 - A misshapen pile of sewn-together bodies is raised for cover. Upon its destruction, it bursts into a noxious slurry of energized matter, which is consumed by the white as fuel.
Effects: Summon 20 HP CorpseHeap (in front of random ally), Trap (When Destroyed): (15 Healing, random ally)

9 - The pool reaches out to eat at the terrain, growing stronger for the added mass.
Effects: Medium Cracked Terrain (random location), Strengthen 20 (random ally)

10 - Red light bleeds from the Conduit and surrounds Ego in a searing aura, damaging her but increasing her strength several-fold.
Effects: 60 Strengthen, Sacrifice 15 (Egomorph only)
1. Dodge onto Normal
2. Feint [FLANK]
3. CannonModeEffect: Adds +20 Null and Knockback to your Buster Shot Attack.
Accuracy: Buster Accuracy = A
Description: Your Custom Weapon vanishes, and is replaced with a Cannon. Your buster returns to normal when the chip effect ends.
Duration: Number of Uses equal to double your Rapid stat. Cannot be Broken.
Element: Null
Special: Overrides Buster. Disables Charged Shot.
Trader Rank: D
: Vasilia [30 Null {A}, Knockback aimed to push off walkway]
4. Movement [CHASE]
5. Dodge
6. Entry [80 Null {A}, Break, Glitch; 3TCD]
The moment of horrified showdown only lasted for an instant, before the reality of Hex churning, consuming and regenerating from Vasilia's attacks saw it expand and spread ever more vigorously. Red energy crackled across the conduit and what remained of Ego's presence, before arcs or garbled code and sticky whit mass burst like popped boils to spatter the walkway and Vasilia herself with their senseless screaming gibberish.

In the brief stretch where she couldn't act, however, the incomprehensible infusion of distorted code sent a shock through her – it wasn't pleasant, but it startled the navi in a more galvanising way. There didn't seem to be sense fighting this... thing... but she could still get away from it, surely. A tingling in her systems said it had to be so. A wash of rough, energetic healing washed across her, and though it wasn't necessary right now, she also felt a swell in her own magic, almost like it was responding to the danger.

The white mass came on, and Vasilia started to run, retreating back across the lower walk towards the rising path where the cleaning machine trundled towards them. Hex followed, seemingly unheeding of all but its desired goal. As Vasilia began to vault over the cleaning machine, Hex levelled the pierced and cracked remnants of her own weapon at her, releasing a heavy whit mass that one of Vasilia's protective boots kicked up to deflect at the last moment. The impact spun the with navi around, however, and she stumbled back from her perch, precariously to the edge of both the machine, and the entire walkway as a result.

“HEY! THAT'S DANGEROUS!” A bright, jovial announcement from the cleaner prog in the driver's seat likely went unnoticed by both Vasilia and the monster pursuing her. Vasilia tottered, trying to keep her balance as the mass of Hex's form chased and lunged for her, thick tendrils lancing out to break and pierce and claim her. In a last desperate twist and shift of her body, Vasilia's foot slipped and in a jolting instant the doll found herself beginning to fall.

The stabbing thorned tentacle slammed through the space where she had been, embedding itself into the guys of the large machine instead, which immediately began to twist and mutate, crumpling and expanding as long, random grows of metal sprouted up and grew out of it in chaotic directions.

“OH NO! OH DEAR! OH NO!” in the midst of the swiftly unrecognisable machine mass, a muffled voice called out, but Hex was already swarming over the point where Vasilia had fallen; it could see the puppet dropping away, towards the ground far below, and it would only need to fling itself after her to catch up.

As she fell, the aberrant sensations coursing through her shifted and combined into a powerful pulse, deep in her core; it felt strange, not entirely comfortable, or pleasant, but it offered her strength and power, if only she could work out how to use it.


-=The White=-
Hex: 155Hp [Normal, Edge of the walk, directly above Vasilia][2 Buster Charges]
Egomorph.SP: 31Hp [Casing: 40/40Hp][on Hex]

-=The Witch=-
Vasilia.Exe: 120Hp [Falling over Missing][A Hand Down: Only one wield slot available for remainder of fight][Kick-Out: 1-Hit shield + Counter][Glitch: SAS Soul (Indefinite)]

-=The Walk-Way=-
20% Normal
  • No effects.
[Branching walkway]
80% Missing
  • Permanent bottomless hole.
  • Doubles dodge penalties for bad RP.
  • EJO if you fall in.
[A large drop; falling will not necessarily result in EJOs, merely a change of battlefield, or potentially an end to the chase if enough separation occurs]

Glitch Log


SAS Shortcut (Positive Glitch)(Mutable Glitch): The victim suffers a glitch in their signature Attack System which causes a more efficient and longer enduring function. Positive effects generated by signatures last for as long as this glitch does, unless their duration would already be longer. SPs and Navigators are treated as independent by this glitch; an SP whose navigator has allocated them personal signatures is unaffected if their navi has this glitch, and similarly an SP with this glitch finds only their personal signatures effected, without infecting their navi's. Lasts three turns, until combat ends, or removed with Status Cure, Glitch Eater or other similar effect.

Growth Catalyst (Positive Glitch)(Catalytic Glitch): The victim suffers a temporary protective or restorative effect, randomly determined, and taking effect immediately upon application. This effect lasts only until the end of the turn. At the end of the turn, the Glitch checks for any Mutable Glitches in the victim's system. If none are present, the glitch is dispelled. If a Mutable Glitch is present this glitch interacts with that one, and creates a new, long-term glitch of a related nature to one or the other, or both. If the Mutable Glitch and the Catalytic Glitch are of different natures (Positive, Negative, Balance), the new form will be either Balance, or the nature of the Catalytic Glitch. If multiple Mutable Glitches exist, one is randomly selected. Glitch lasts only for the turn that it is applied.

SAS Soul (Positive Glitch): The victim's Signature Attack System briefly defies all code logic. Signatures have no cooldown and can all be used once per turn. Positive effects generated by signatures endure indefinitely (or until destroyed as usual in the case of defences), instead of their listed duration, as long as this glitch remains. This includes enhancements, such as Haste, body defences, such as shadow and multi-turn/action benefits such as regeneration effects. Any time the victim uses a signature with a beneficial effect on themselves, they spontaneously regenerate 10Hp. Glitch lasts until combat ends, or removed with Status Cure, Glitch Eater or other similar effect.
Bodies. Bodies. Yet more bodies. It would be nigh-impossible now to count the faces as they flowed and gibbered over the edge, each one a tale cut brutally, horrifically short. Limbs crawled from the stream pouring over the lip of the pathway, over each other, over itself, after their quarry. Egomorph was passed from hand to foot to mouth to hand again, carried down the macabre waterfall to the spiraling point at its base. When the haloed lump had no more hands to carry it, Hex peeled open its shell and pushed at the oozing connection that bound them together. Yet more white was forced into the space between them, the tendriled ball pushed beyond what velocity the fall allowed, carried on a tide of writhing tentacles. Through its Administrator Hex reached out, many mouths gnashing with a madness that went beyond sentience or sanity.

Just as Hex reached in ways Vasilia could see, so too did it stretch in directions she could not. It still held onto the connection it had tunneled, deep through Vasilia's hand, reaching across space-that-wasn't-space to the body beyond. It could feel, in its unquantifiable way, the growth that flourished in <heartwood/fractal/familiar?> - were it conscious of such things, it might perhaps have found the budding energy pleasing to behold, in and of itself. As power welled in Vasilia's body, so too did something else: something that sought to unspool invisible feelers into Vasilia's chest; to rasp and scrape along her heartwood; to feed on the beautiful swirling growth she fostered.


It was reaching into Egomorph too - this, Vasilia could see, were she to look back at what plummeted after her, reaching to claim her before they even hit the ground. The entire hemisphere facing the Navi crumpled into itself, falling into a hollow that had formed at Ego's center and vanishing from sight. Hex's matter flooded through the oozing tentacles into the hollow, compacting on itself, consuming more and more and somehow more of its own mass. Strangely, the light behind Vasilia (were she facing it) seemed to shine brighter, pulled by Hex's density from the deep infrared shades into visibility.

Colours that didn't exist shone from the anomaly at Egomorph's core. The burning un-brightness ate at itself, hues fading darker and deeper, divorcing itself farther and farther from comprehension. Only Sophie and Vasilia would be able to say what they saw, staring into Hex's monument. To Sophie's organic eyes and brain, it might have folded so far into itself as to look like a strangely magnified patch of nothing, like a hole in the Net she could only look past, without seeing the thing itself. Vasilia's mind, conversely (uniquely) might instead force a memory into the space it occupied, or perhaps a sensation her body would try to feel as something tactile. The only universal descriptors one could fit the anomaly were these: it had no physical substance; it cast neither light nor shadow on the surrounding Net; it should have only occupied as much space as Egomorph's child-sized lump, but the longer one stared into it, the farther it opened up until it seemed to span from notional horizon to notional horizon; it, as was true of all that called itself Hexadecimal, hungered singly for the consumption of all things, and tore itself bodily through the Net to carry its endless mission forward. All other truths of the anomaly were unique to those who perceived it.

It was grim mercy that kept Ego from experiencing any of this. Forced from her own head to drift bodiless, bereft of awareness as part of the swirling white, there was nothing left of the broken china doll-girl in the amorphous, tumbling chaos. All Vasilia could see was Hex, its unholy birthing, and the Administrator it reached for her through. The Conduit halos burned, keening with a discordant, static-y howl that managed to claw at the ears and shake the bones in the same instance. Tentacles were reaching from the jagged edges that enclosed the burning unlight, grasping with alien hunger closer, closer.

Not close enough.


It came at Vasilia like an ocean wave, starting before they even hit the ground and continuing for long-after. Tentacles and limbs reared from behind Hex's genesis, where they had never stopped tumbling over themselves to be the first to grasp hold. Veins sewed together great coiling boughs out of the amorphous surge, wrought from hands and ribs and anything it could reshape for clutching. The rest of the body followed after them, seeking to bury the whole grim ensemble, Vasilia, Egomorph and all, in a writhing, tangling tide of itself. Just as it reached forward, it dragged its own mass back in a circuitous whirlpool of flesh, diffusing from a swollen lump into a creeping, crawling thing that seemed to swallow the ground itself. Thin scouting feelers reached from its maw to swat at Vasilia's feet, provoking the retaliation it had seen of them. The implication was clear: it had Vasilia alone, now it wanted her soft, undefended.

The creeping white was swelling up again.

-Turn Summary-
-FastArmour [40 HP Casing around Hex]
1. Movement [PURSUE]
2. Throw Egomorph at Vasilia
E1. Movement [SNARE]
-Glitch Eater [Consume SAS Soul, Strengthen 20 (Hex)]
3. Synthesis: Egomorph [Glitch 10 (Contagious), Charge Burner x2; 5TCD]
E2. Grapple Vasilia
4. Attachment: Vasilia [Gravity, Freeze, Turn Delay (1 Turn): Hold, Self-Slow; 4TCD]
5. Buster Shot: Vasilia's Shield [15 Null {A}]
6. Buster Charge