Era of Gourmet: Universe Sauce

You find yourself walking down a path of cut down greens through the vast forest, inhaling the juicy, misty air of the rain forest. It looks as though the I.G.O. has prepared a way for people to make their exploration for the famed Universe Sauce, narrowing down the search to the Nectar Forest.

The Nectar Forest is well known for its constant rain fall of various juice-like rains every other hour, making it the ideal place to collect and sell these juice as products. However, the Forest is still noted as uncharted territory as it is just too vast and countless people have been lost in their attempt to explore...

At the end of the path, you find a very small camp of I.G.O. employers and three paths heading to different directions. To anyone's surprise, very few people has come in search for the Universe Sauce, with others most likely intimidated by the legend behind the Nectar Forest. All three paths looked identical, but it wasn't recently made like the path you have taken just before, they were made like this before and maybe for a good reason...

The path on the left had ancient ruins covered in vines and moss, leading the path with stone bricks on the ground. The path in the center was literally filled with deadly plants from the start, most notably riddled with Toxic Roses and its deadly thorns covering the path. The path on the right, however, seemed relatively normal compare to the other two...Until a distant scream echoed out from it...
"Ha, ha, ha..."

Trudging through the fabled trees of the Nectar Forest, Jerry Yuu lumbered along, his massive refridgerator on his back wobbling to the sides every now and then. He had sustained himself with the forest's unique "juice rain", stuffing them into various containers in his fridge for later consumption. However, the Nectar Juices were not what he was looking for that day. No, it was for a much more coveted item, something that would indubitably be the best complement for his puddings.

Universe Sauce, what an enigmatic name. Rumors were that its taste suited anything it was put on. Meats would put out a savory taste, salads would bring zest, and, of course, desserts would bring sweetness. The tales spoke of a legendary sweetness, so pure and sublime, that he thought it must be immortalized. Definitely, the best way of preservation, and the most delicious, was to encase such a wonderful substance in gelatin, he thought.

As he dreamed of the wonderful desserts that he would make from his later exploits, he stopped at the intersection, with some I.G.O. employers and three roads leading off into nowhere. From his research earlier, he had surmised that all three were possible paths to the same conclusion. Still, it never hurt to check first-hand. Looking towards his right, Jerry raised an eyebrow as he saw the relatively normal-looking path.

"Aiyah, not good sound," he exclaimed, as the path suddenly emitted a faraway-sounding scream. Then, he turned towards the middle. That path didn't look very inviting either, with some imminent dangers right from the start. Hell if he was going to take that way. "Nooo waayyy, no," he said. The last path turned into the left, and looked the least threatening of the three. Just some moss, some old ruins. Though, from his experience, ruins meant traps. Plenty. He scratched his head.

Then, an idea. Of course, there were people there. Why not just ask? It wasn't going to hurt anyone to ask. "Excuse me, can I ask something?" he said, addressing one of the I.G.O. employers on the site. "Which way to this... Universe Sauce?"
For Questa, traversing the Nectar Forest was like being surrounded by the temptations faced by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Fruit was everywhere, but her principles told her that eating it was a sin... and if someone saw her doing so, all the worse. Using some child-like mental haggling, she made up in her mind that her dining upon those delicacies would have to be saved as a reward for an especially good deed.

Observing the I.G.O.'s outpost in the jungle, she couldn't help but feel a since of worry. The Universe Sauce was an ingredient that had disappeared years ago from overconsumption and understandably so: the magical substance could taste like anything. Who wouldn't want to get their hands on it? Judging by the prickly thorns and poisonous grasses everywhere, she theorized that the jungle seemed to have created its own security for the sauce. Still, she couldn't leave it up to uncertainty. Questa saw something of a duty to make sure that the sauce didn't go the way of the dinosaur again.

It occurred to her that she didn't exactly know the right way... just as she was considering stopping to ask a guide like Jerry had, she heard a scream off in the distance. Her obscure joints allowed her head to turn almost 180 degrees behind her to look in that direction. Two instincts kicked in: one, her instinct to protect, and two, an awareness that people would likely be headed along the most direct route to the sauce. She concurred that the only solution was to run headlong onto the rightward path and see what the trouble was. That way, she could help the person out, then quickly get back on the road to protecting the sauce.

Rapidly dislocating her ankles to help her feet traverse the jungle floor and running in a full-on ninja charge, she headed towards the source of the sound.

And that was all that needed to be said. The IGO agents, the abundant plant life, and even the thick, muggy air itself immediately came to understand her importance. The harsh conditions of the Nectar Forest seemed to naturally bend away from her, as if in reverence of her. Nevermind her sparse clothing being well suited for this warm climate, that had nothing to do with it. She was Ginger Brea, and she was great.

Everyone and everything withing several hundred meters was immediately alerted to her arrival, not due to a grand announcement, but just by her sheer presence. Even through the Nectar Forest's thick air, Ginger's sublime scent permeated the clearing, sending an advance signal to all whom it may concern of her greatness. In fact, she had come in pursuit of the fabled Universe Sauce to reaffirm her greatness. An ingredient of such auspicious standing and legend, let alone it being named after the entire universe, should be fantastic. Really, it had to be, else it was not worthy of her own fantastic being. She didn't even have the slightest thought of the Universe Sauce possibly being greater than her. It just wasn't, flat out.

Ginger's spectacular self was not without witnesses, however. There were Bishokuya here, and Ginger's wonderfulness was only matched by her benevolence. She accepted the presence of the Bishokuya, and their desire to obtain the Universe Sauce. In fact, she was so accepting that she even was willing to speak to them. "Hey, you!" shouted Ginger, pointing to the chubby guy with the refrigerator. The fact that she had actually pronounced his name properly was both unknown to her and unimportant. "And girl, as well!" she continued, addressing the retreating figure of the ninja. "These 3 paths do not matter. The deliciousness of the Universe Sauce and of myself are both great; they are drawn to each other. As long as I look for it, the Universe Sauce will come. You are all allowed to partake in my inevitable success, so follow if you want. Which I know you do."

Having established her superiority, Ginger followed after the ninja girl in a casual walk without even addressing the IGO agents. She and IGO mutually stayed out of each other's business, mostly. It was a testament of her brilliance.
All the I.G.O. Employers was, at the very least, at the level of a super military soldier from their stern look, firm stance, and their absolute perfect body build. However, they seemed fairly lax as most of them were under the tent playing a game of cards while one stood out with his legs perfectly spread apart and both his hand behind his back. This soldier looked down at Jerry with a serious look while he gave the answer to the question...

"We couldn't determine the exact point of the Sauce. The scientists at I.G.O. HQ was only able to determine the general location of the ingredient to this forest, none further...Just so you know, the distance you traveled so far into the forest was only the first layer of the Nectar Forest. One of these three will lead you deeper through the layers...and hopefully lead you to the sauce."

His answer was lot more lax than one would've expected from his appearance, but still, it didn't mean that it was helpful or anything. But just as he was about to continue the quick debriefing, he two more figures heading through the entrance. One was a strange Caucasian girl dressed in black who could twist her entire head around, but it didn't seem to phase the soldier one bit.

What did get to him, however, was the appearance of Ginger. The soldier's mouth gaped open, but literally turned his head the other way along with all the colleagues in the tent. "I-I didn't expect to see you here, Miss Ginger...I'm guessing you're here for the Sauce, correct?"

Though the soldier was at the mercy of the girl, Questa seemingly ignored Ginger and made a dash for the right pathway where the bloodcurdling scream was heard from...
The path Questa took looked seemingly normal as it did at the entrance, but it was in absolute silence. There was no sound and the only thing the ninja can hear was her own foot step.

No matter how fast she was with her dash, it felt like she was making no progress what so ever as the scenery simply looked all the same. She couldn't really determine the source of the scream at this point...Until she heard it again. This time, the scream went off not so far from here. However, she heard something else in the midst of the silence, the rustling of leaves.

Up above the threes in front of Questa were three Golem Apes (Capture Level 10), peering down the lone Bishoku-ya with their golden-yellow eyes and pounding their rock-like fists together as a form of provocation. If the ninja was to find out where the scream was coming from, she would have to deal with these apes!
"Ah, ahh, tanks," said Jerry, as his rather strange way of talking pronounced the expression of gratitude as an artillery vehicle. Suddenly, his nose perked at a certain smell, a certain sensation. Honed to the sweet smell of desserts, his senses directed him towards a particularly light-dressed female. Raising an eyebrow, he heard her address him by name on accident, though he'd already gotten used to that; it really wasn't as amusing the umpteenth time.

Something was mentioned about the relatively low importance of the paths, and that he should probably just follow her. Internally shrugging, he went along, still smelling that wonderful sweet scent in the air. He found it was near the one he was following, but did not guess that the scent was from the girl herself. Jerry deduced that it wasn't as artificial as something akin to perfume, he'd worked with sweet scents enough to know that this was a natural smell.

Lugging along his gigantic refridgerator everywhere had given him enough fitness to walk around with it casually, but catching up to someone else was tiring. Popping open the fridge door, he extracted a bottle of juice, and downed it immediately. "Ah! So sweet!" he mused, finishing the entire thing in one gulp, and continuing on with his walk. He didn't bother making any sort of small talk with the girl he was following, as his girth turned people off.

All he could do now was- Were those apes?

Probably, he thought. He found some lone girl facing down the rocky apes, and stood back to observe. No good would it do for him to charge headfirst.
Questa looked back at Ginger sternly, tensing her eyebrows. "What foolishness! To go on important food-related business dressed in such an outfit... And she's indecent too! Doesn't she know that a woman seen unclothed is not fit to wed?" she growled inwardly. "She belittles the significance of protecting this sauce and likely desires it for her own greedy purposes..."

And yet, when Ginger asked... no, demanded, that she follow, she was almost compelled to go. The IGO were meek within her presence... Questa began to feel meek as well. The finely honed edge of her ninja senses dulled somewhat. It's as if something was tugging at her, saying: "She's right... You do want to follow her. She's the kind of person who will take you where you want to be, even if you didn't know that's where you were going!" The mental suggestion scared the ninja, but one thing set her back on track: the thought that she had to save whoever was in danger up ahead.

As such, she beckoned herself forward, spinning her head back around so as not to look at Ginger. She also had to keep her eyes on the path, as the jungle grew progressively more dense. Before she had time to locate the source of the screams, however, some giant apes showed their angry faces... perhaps they were even the ones who had caused the screaming in the first place.

Frowning, she looked upon their ruffled fur and beating fists, trying to decide an appropriate way to deal with them. Even if she could circumvent them (she was quite fast), they would undoubtedly cause trouble for or possibly injure any adventurer following her. The apes had a vantage point from which they could attack unwary travelers and were obviously of ill temper. She saw it as something of a duty to make sure they caused no harm to those coming behind her.

She also had a bit of a feeling that somebody was following her... far behind, she saw a fat figure watching. That was a little comforting; judging by his appearance, he was probably a bishoku-ya, and it was likely he'd aid her if she got into trouble. For now, however, she had to decide how to defend herself. She decided that the easiest way would be to look for something like a rod or pole. Quickly, she wrapped both hands around the trunk of one of the scrawnier trees applied inhuman torque to its body to snap it off. In doing so, she'd made herself a quick and easy bo-staff that she could use as a weapon.

Slowly, she approached the apes, holding her bo-staff up in defensive readiness. It was likely the golem apes had prepared something of an ambush and would throw things at her. Using her crazy powers of spin and almost as uncommon powers of ninja skill, she was confident she could hit small projectiles out of the air as she approached the apes.

She also realized they had a vertical advantage, so she looked for any large, scalable trees or hills. Of course, for her, almost anything was scalable.
Ginger's pace didn't quicken by even a millionth of a step as she heard the pounding noise of the Golem Apes trying to intimidate these people who were invading their turf. They could wait; everything happened at her pace. The world waited for her. When Ginger did finally arrive at the end of the path, she saw the refrigerator guy snarfing some sort of pudding, the Golem Apes up in the trees, and the ninja abducting a small tree to use as a weapon.

"... No no no, this won't do at all!" shouted Ginger as she marched ahead to stand by the ninja. Ginger could've gone out in recognition of pudding man's cautiousness, but no, there were far more pressing matters than if pudding man was willing to fight or not. "I will NOT allow you creatures to stand above me!" As she said this, Ginger grabbed the paper fan hooked to her hip, snapped it open, and covered her mouth.

"Girl," continued Ginger, addressing the ninja at her side, "your apparent willingness to climb these lesser trees will not be needed. That wooden bludgeon you took, maybe, but you will be fine right here, for these Golem Apes will be coming to us. Rather, they will be coming to me! Hahaha!" Ginger's laugh, filled with arrogance and very long vowel sounds, echoed through the forest as she waved her fan in front of her. "Isn't that right, Golem Apes? Don't you want to come to me, Ginger Brea?" Ginger then fanned the air above her, sending her glorious scent wafting upwards into the trees. The Golem Apes would surely soon understand that they wanted to be down on the ground with Ginger. The idea of something up in the trees being more desirable than her was completely preposterous.
The Golem Apes continued their provocations by jumping up and down from the trees, but when it became obvious that Questa and the rest weren't going to take the warning, the Apes let out a primal roar as a sign of the battle...However, their rage soon began to give out when something else had caught their attention, sniffling their giant nose as it tried to find out the source of this desirable scent.

As soon as they realized that the scent was coming from Ginger, the Golem Apes began to pound their fists as a show of excitement and jumped straight down towards the "frail" girl, immediately circling around her. It was easy to say that they were enticed by the smell coming from the girl...almost wanting to eat her up. The three Golem Apes gathered closely around the girl, slowly savoring the smell till they tried to "dig in"...