Pheromone Test Exercise #1

A spray of purple mist shot across the ground, raising into the air, a figure slowly materialized amongst it, walking at a slow pace with both palms held outward in a girlish way. Phero's dark eyes slowly moved left and right, trying to spot any viruses. Fortunately, it looked like she hadn't landed right on top of any. "I'm so nervous," she thought to herself, gulping but keeping her usual stoic expression. "I can't afford to mess up here in front of the corporation's president... But I don't really know much about fighting."

"Remember, Phero: we have one stock compound we already tested in the lab. It's an agent known as Compound A0001. I have tentatively dubbed it "Crazy Gas." It doesn't seem to do anything we'd want from an attraction pheromone, but it does have the pleasant side effect of turning a target crackers for a little while," the operator informed her navi with a small laugh. "Your chip arsenal as it stands consists of a shotgun, a rageclaw, and... an icecube."

Phero raised one eyebrow quizzically. "From what I read in the online manual you sent me before we went out, starting navis get a cannon with their ensemble."

One of Dharma's eyebrows twitched and she momentarily lost grip on her pen. "I traded the cannon for an icecube. It was for a charity, alright? Does that make you feel better?" she replied.

The navi gave another smile, crossing her hands behind her at the steep curve of her hips. "Well, if it was for a charity, then by all means," she giggled.

((Ready for Battle 1))
Starting her experimental trip through the ACDC network, some similarly experimental viruses were released by a higher power in her location. These viruses trod through the white earth with their massive feet and gigantic metallic spiked implements. Evil eyes peered through a tough helmeted head, intimidating any that walked their path. Swinging about their terrible weapons around their heads, they headed towards Phero's direction with malicious intent clearly shown in their eyes. Challenging her to a duel, one of the dastardly beings pointed its weapon at her, uttering a loud cry as it did so.

Metool A: 40 HP
Metool B: 40 HP
Metool C: 40 HP

Phero.EXE: 100 HP

100% Normal

Dharma laughed as she saw the three viruses making their way towards her navi. She pressed one hand against her cheek and leaned her elbows onto her desk. "Oh my! They may be putting on a big show, but those are Metools, the scum of the net. There's not a lot they can do to you unless you're a moron or a total novice," she explained, getting her clipboard and chip stock ready.

Despite her operator's words, Phero wasn't terribly comforted. "I should remind you that I am a novice, Dharma," she replied nervously, feeling upset and vulnerable.

"They won't be any trouble regardless. Focus on the experiment," she responded. "Try to keep your mind on calming things you enjoy. That's what I do when my job gets to me."

Phero's eyebrows lowered as she tried to decide what to think about. A field of flowers slowly spread out around her, starting in a circle around her feet and cascading outward in a beautiful field of red, purple, and blue, even bright whites and yellows. "Ah... That helps a little," she muttered, enjoying the scents.

"Good, because I'm loading the first compound now. This is Compound V0001, the first in a long, long line of concoctions that you'll be excreting through that creamy skin of yours," she smiled, loading it into her navi's body through an external device. "I can't imagine that it feels good, but you'll just have to bear with it."

Phero cringed at the words, but her eyebrows raised at the last statement. "Hrm. The feeling is... I could most closely relate it to how humans excrete wastes," she murmered.

The operator's face turned red and her ordinarily calm eyes widened. "What? It feels like urinating out of your entire body?" she gasped, grossed out by the thought.

With a small giggle, Phero raised her eyebrows with a knowing smile, although she was blushing a little herself. "You do understand that excretion is one of the primal pleasures, don't you? It's such a private act, but from what I understand there is some basic enjoyment found in the feeling of-"

"No more! That's too gross," Dharma groaned, shaking her head and then crossing her arms across her breasts. "I don't know what you're thinking, but focus on the battle and stop talking about such disgusting things."

Shrugging her bare shoulders, the navi turned back to the viruses to finally engage them. She pressed the rubber spritzers in her hands and gave a small shudder of pleasure as the pheromones slipped out from her body, creating no visible gas, but a detectable scent. Dharma's face twisted in repulsion again; this told Phero that in the future, she really had to hold in the emotion a little bit. "Oh gosh, wait... it's like I'm urinating while she watches," she suddenly thought to herself; her face reddened accordingly.

"Are you regretting your urination metaphor now?" the operator laughed, raising her eyebrows as she slotted through chips.

"Just a little," Phero admitted, turning her focus off of the eerie pheromone release feeling and back onto the battle. She created a shotgun and began inexpertly targeting the metools. Pointing the tulip-shaped nozel towards the enemies, she got the distinct feeling that there was something she was forgetting to do before all-too-quickly firing off the weapon. She had forgotten to brace the arm, of course, and the recoil sent her staggering back through the flowers. "Erk..." she muttered, knowing that Dharma's scolding would come soon.

Thankfully, it seemed that Dharma was not even watching at this point, being instead distracted by some business over the phone. With a sigh of relief, Phero equipped her rageclaw and moved in for the second one with reckless speed. Once she was up close, she attempted to slap the metool across the side of the head and send it skidding across the ground with a surprisingly strong, swift arm motion.

As a final measure of graceless fighting, she turned and ran to get away, stumbling across her own flowers while she ran and exposing the tight bottom of her pink undersuit to all of the enemies.

*) SetGrass
*) Hack: Glitch to MetoolB
1) Shotgun to MetoolA [50 shot attack + spread]
2) Rageclaw to MetoolC [40 melee slashing + impact]
3) Dodge
Turning a large part of the field into a meadow of flowers, Phero followed it up and released one of her experimental compounds at one of the Metools. The Metool started to whirl around in a fit of dizziness, and then made a little jig, which escalated into a full-on breakdance of some sort. Wasn't hard, since the Metool's helmet made for some great upside-down twirling action.

The other two Metools looked at the dancing Metool with a questioning eye, before one of them was blasted to oblivion by Phero's Shotgun, with a follow-up RageClaw. Seeing this atrocity, the Metool Phero had caused to dance spun even harder, and whacked its pickaxe against the ground. Using its spinning momentum from earlier, the Metool flung itself at the Navi, and a solid kick landed on Phero's chest. (10)

Metool B: 40 HP [Break Dance Mode]

Phero.EXE: 90 HP (RageClaw 5/6)

100% Normal
Dharma had known right from the start that V0001 couldn't have been their dream compound. In her experience, the best things in life took a lot of ingenuity and elbow grease (sometimes palm grease), so there was no way that the very first mixture they tested would be a winner. Still, she had not expected it to fail quite so spectacularly. "You'd think we just sort of randomly dumped things into the formula," she sighed, hanging up the phone abruptly.

"I'm sorry," Phero responded, fingering the dent in her armor that had caved in one of the tiny petal-like extensions of her upper armor so that it jabbed into her breast slightly. Wincing, she jiggled the little adornment until it plucked off. "This really makes me question the craftsmanship of my armor," she muttered, thankful that nothing more critical had been hit.

"It's just a lesson in the urgency of better dodging," Dharma laughed. "Also, keep in mind that your armor wasn't designed to efficiently protect you... just looking at it should tell you that."

Phero looked her own armor up and down again, reminding herself just how little it covered. It wasn't even composed of very thick metal. "What's the purpose of the design, then?" she asked, curiously.

"Inducing love. Viruses and navis won't be turned off from you with an appearance like that, right? Well, unless they're not into women or they fancy you classless for wearing that, I guess, but it's sort of cute as well," she mused. "I designed it myself, you know. The basic idea anyways."

The navi felt a brief suggestion of gratitude, but then realized that she'd really rather have some defense armor than the sort of provocative clothing Dharma had given her. Still, she understood it was for the good of the test, so she didn't really have a say in the matter... and it was sort of cute. Phero was sort of surprised that Dharma could design any clothing that wasn't just solid black throughout. "Very well. I'll try to take out the last enemy with my rageclaw."

"That's fine, but don't forget the experiment. I'm loading in another sample, V0002, which I expect you to test on the final enemy."

Nodding, Phero accepted the pheromone, squeezed the buds, then clutched her hands around her shoulders as her body shivered and released the invisible gases. She made sure not to make any sound so as not to gross out Dharma any further. Knowing that the pheromones alone would certainly not kill the virus, she also moved quickly across the grass to get in more attacks with her rageclaw, slapping the claw back and forth in her usual awkward way. Once that was through, she stood cautiously and watched for the odd, break-dancing Metool's retaliation.

*) Healing on grass
*) Hack @ Metool B
1) Rageclaw1 @ MetoolB [40 slashing melee + impact]
2) Rageclaw1 @ MetoolB [40 slashing melee + impact]
3) Dodge
The gases made their way toward the Metool, which immediately stopped break dancing on arrival. It immediately set its pickaxe handle up on the floor, and proceeded to use it as a pogo stick. Surprisingly, despite lacking arms, it didn't do a bad job with it. Not that it mattered, since the jumps weren't creating shock waves, and it was too busy pogoing to notice Phero smack it with RageClaw. And it was having so much fun, too. You jerkwad.


Phero.EXE: 95 HP (RageClaw 4/6)

Less than 100% Normal, more than 0% Grass, 100% No one cares at this point


Rewards: Guard1 BattleChip, 240z
"... Dharma... Are you certain these pheromones are supposed to be working towards inducing attraction?" Phero asked after having seen the effects of the latest bug briefly show themselves. "It seems bizarre to think that we would have only seen highly skill-based motions and competencies."

The operator sighed, clutching one hand to her forehead and accepting the chip data. She looked at the chip that had come out with distaste evident on her face. "Common stuff," she muttered, putting it into her folder. "The point is that we can test these pheromones very quickly, Phero. They are very much shots-in-the-dark when it comes to effect, because we really had no idea where to start in engineering the compound. If you knew a thing or two about the diversity of the net's creatures, then thought about the compound complexity achievable through programming and the niche interest of our research, you'd realize we have little to work off of and much to test."

Phero nodded slowly, stepping out of her flowers and further into the net. "I understand. It's just sort of humorous that all of them have had such amusing effects so far. I can't wait to see what else we can do," she laughed. "Although I'm sure there's some that would call this cruel and unusual."

"Ha. They should just be happy we're not testing these on captive net beings... which I could have arranged with a little more time and a more competent research team," the operator replied with an evil smirk.

((Ready for Battle 2))
A short walk further into the ACDC network, and Phero was already encountering more viruses. A duo of Bunny were hopping alongside a Spikey, when the latter picked up Phero's unusual scent. Apparently they deduced the smell as incredibly enticing, as they immediately headed for her!

Spikey: 90 HP
Bunny A: 50 HP
Bunny B: 50 HP

Phero.EXE: 95 HP

100% Normal

Phero anticipated the creation of another field of flowers as she prepared to take on the viruses, but was surprised as she found that nothing came out to replace the regular paneling of the net. She looked to Dharma briefly, then back to the viruses. "It seems my ordinary SetGrass program isn't taking effect," she informed her operator, although she realized that Dharma seemed to be in the middle of some operating functions herself.

Looking up, Dharma frowned, then immediately returned her head down. "Oh, I deactivated it," she answered nonchalantly with a wave of one hand.

The navi's eyelids drooped unenthusiastically. The flowers were a nice way for her to take her mind off of the difficulties of battle and the unpleasantness of her work. Without them, the fight would be a chore. "Why-" she started to ask, but Dharma was already prepared with the answer before she heard the question.

"Consider the pheromones you've been putting out, Phero. They're already filling the air around you with flammable perfumes. Add to that the possibility of the flowers around you igniting when that wolf attacks. Is any of that something you want to get caught in?" she asked her navi, turning her icecube chip over in her hand with a pensive expression.

Phero's eyebrows raised and she decided that it would definitely be prudent to pay more attention to the Spikey than she'd been paying. "My apologies, Dharma. I had not considered my fire vulnerability."

"Don't apologize, simply act. I'm sending you a rageclaw battlechip, along with an icecube. I want you to lift the icecube and throw it into the Spikey. If all goes as planned, you should be able to destroy the wolf in one blow," her operator explained.

With a small nod, Phero conceded. The idea sounded pretty simple. "Is there anything else?" she asked.

"You'll also need to be sure not to get hit and to test another batch of pheromones on those bunnies. I've loaded a batch of V0003," she finished with a smile.

The complacent look on Phero's face gave way to an expression of worry; meeting all of Dharma's demands wasn't going to be easy. To start, she threw down the icecube in front of herself and then placed one hand against the cold surface. Shivering slightly, she tried to hide her smile as another burst of pheromones slid out of her pores and began drifting towards the enemies.

"Gross," Dharma commented again in a small mutter, although her attention was still apparently elsewhere.

Ignoring her operator's comment, Phero watched a white gauntlet encase her hand, indicating the activation of a rageclaw. When the glove had finished forming, she sunk the clawed tips into the ice and then wrapped her other hand around the other side, lifting it awkwardly.

"Don't lift with your back, of you're just going to injure yourself. Try to do it naturally," Dharma laughed, enjoying watching her navi's feminine body shake with the hard exertion of physical labor. "The safest way to lift a heavy object is to keep your back entirely upright, while bending your knees and squatting." Once Dharma saw that Phero was taking her advice, seeming appreciative of the fact that her operator had made it easy on her, she signaled a thin man who'd come to the door to approach the PET. "Hello, Phillip. I'll listen to your business in just a moment, but first, why don't you take a look at how the experiment is going?"

The serious looking man, tall and thin with stately, short, and combed black hair, approached the desk, keeping a stern expression. He adjusted his square-rimmed glasses, then stuck his hands into the sides of his lab coat and leaned over the desk, trying to ignore the company president's eerie smile.

As Phero knelt down to properly lift the box, her short, metallic skirt did nothing to compensate for the movement and revealed even more of her bottom than Dharma had been expecting. Shocked, Phillip drew back and flew into the exact coughing fit that Dharma had known he would. The president always enjoyed watching her lead researcher squirm over the most minor unexpected surprises. "Ah, that was fun. But still, Phillip, your business will have to wait. I'm in the middle of an important operation," she laughed with a pleased grin.

Phero was unaware of what all had happened, but happy that she could finally lift the cube. Grunting, she hurled it towards the enemy wolf and hoped she'd hit him before he could respond with his bestial reflexes. The navi couldn't help but clench her teeth and narrow her eyes. She didn't imagine that the sound of an icecube smashing against the ground could be very pleasant, whether it hit anything or not. Finally, she began strafing to dodge the attacks of her enemies, although she had a feeling she wouldn't be able to match the speed of the bunny viruses.

*) Hack @ Bunny A [Glitch]
1) Summon IceCube [100 HP]
2) Rageclaw throw IceCube @ Spikey [100 thrown + impact]
3) Dodge
Not activating the SetGrass program for now due to potential burning death and pain, Phero instead summoned an IceCube. The Spikey looked at the IceCube with a puzzled expression before it was sent flying towards it, completely crushing its skull and deleting it. The Bunny that had the compound V0003 used on it went on a spinning, dizzy run, haphazardly firing electric rings around, obviously not hitting anything important. The other fired an electric ring at Phero as well, but it missed as Phero dodged out of the way nimbly.

Bunny A: 50 HP (Dizzy)
Bunny B: 50 HP

Phero.EXE: 95 HP

100% Normal
Phero sighed with relief, pushing her hair back over one of her ears as she saw that the enemy had taken the hit. She'd even managed to get something that looked like a marginally useful pheromone to take hold. "I don't think he's enamored, but at least it's something," she giggled to her operator. The operator sighed, but didn't respond; she obviously didn't care about the results unless they seemed to indicate a road to her perfect attraction formula. "Well, now there's two bunnies left. I can use a shotgun on this arm and... I'll keep my rageclaw to try to finish them off."

"Fine," Dharma agreed, still not giving Phillip a chance to explain his issue to her, "but be sure to test out the V0004 formula as well. I don't want to waste an opportunity." She recrossed her legs and slotted in the chips while the scientist watched impatiently.

Nodding, Phero accepted the chips and looked at the remaining enemies. Before she got her weapons ready, she let out another small, shuddering noise and let the pheromones seep out of herself towards intended targets. When the process was finished, she blinked her eyes, shook her head, and collected herself for the battle.

Reaching up one arm and summoning back the flower-nozzle shotgun, she aimed it for the unaffected Bunny and released; her boots made a metallic scratch as she slid back on the tile of the net. Once that was done, she readied the rageclaw on her other hand and approached the dizzy Bunny. She figured that with some luck, its dizziness would make it unlikely to hit her.

Reaching out, she attempted to slap it once with her rageclaw and catch it against her other extended hand, then catch it again with the claw and hurl it in the direction of the other bunny. She hadn't seen the outcome of her earlier shotgun, but if the bunny was still there, collision with another bunny ought to weaken it up a bit.

"Now Phillip, was there some pressing business you had to share with me?" Dharma asked, leaning one elbow onto the desk while paying no attention to her subordinate.

Sighing, the older man seemed to realize that there was no point in talking at this point. He pursed his lips and waited for her to quit staring at her PET screen.

*) Hack @ Bunny B [Glitch]
1) Shotgun @ Bunny B [50 shot + spread]
2) RageClaw to Bunny A [40 melee slashing + impact]
3) Rageclaw Bunny A [20 melee slashing] @ Bunny B [20 melee + impact]
Spraying out some experimental compound towards the Bunny unaffected by her pheromones, the Bunny suddenly obtained a very large grin for some reason, and was lifted into the air! Unfortunately for it, the Shotgun shot down its short-lived happiness, along with its comrade. You jerkwad.


Phero.EXE: 95 HP

100% Normal

-- BATTLE 02, VICTORY!! --


[HeatShot] Battlechip, 160z
"Another successful battle, but it doesn't appear that we're any closer to finding that compound. I don't think that the viruses bizarre grin could be attributed to anything like experiencing love," Phero noted, crossing her arms beneath her breast and pondering. "It's an odd combination of effects, though. I wonder what would have happened if we'd waited?"

"Irrelevant. If it's not 'love' I'm not interested," Dharma yawned, then spun in her chair to face Phillip. She crossed one leg over the other, then leaned her head onto one fist. "Now, state your business, Phillip. I'm very busy."

"Yes, Lady President. I have a report on the latest pheromone production. New compounds are being produced at a terrific rate, but again, I have to wonder just how necessary all of this is," the stiff man muttered, seeming even stiffer than usual as he tried to work cricks out of his shoulder. He didn't want to look any more needy of the conversation than Dharma did, but it was hard to look that apathetic, especially for a guy like him.

Dharma's eyebrows lowered irritably, but otherwise her position stayed mostly the same. "Phillip, would I have asked your team to develop these compounds if it was unnecessary? Please simply use the following rule to determine the validity: if I asked you to do it, it's what you should be doing. Are we clear?" she demanded. Seeing Phillip's obedient nod still accompanied by his unwavering frown, she sighed and adjusted her sitting position. "Well, Phillip? What is the cause of your concern?"

"I apologize, Lady President, it's just that-" he started, but was interrupted as Dharma rudely turned back to her PET and began speaking to her navi again.

"Phero, release more of the pheromones. We need more hits on viruses... Greater numbers, if possible. The wider the sample pool, the easier it will be to collect results," she explained, pressing her pen against her lower lip.

Nodding, Phero continued releasing a light but steady, nice-smelling scent from her pores while looking for more viruses to test her compounds on.

((Ready for Battle 3))
With yet more mysterious and ambiguous compounds to test out on behalf of her Operator, she came upon some new viruses, particularly specialized in artillery. Two stationary turret-based Canodumb viruses were accompanied left and right by two mobile bombardment-based Kabutanks, which were all but dying to test their compounds on Phero.

Canodumb A: 50 HP
Canodumb B: 50 HP
Kabutank A: 50 HP
Kabutank B: 50 HP

Phero.EXE: 95 HP

100% Normal

"Are you ready, Phero? Your enemies won't wait for you to prepare," Dharma laughed, watching as Phero reeled in surprise at the growing number of enemies.

The navi activated her flower field and then stood warily, looking over the four viruses. It wasn't hard to predict how they'd attack, seeing as two were giant cannons and the others also had long, protruding cannons on their faces. She figured she could make her chances better by turning them against each other. "Dharma, please load me some of that stock compound, if you would. I'm going to see if we can confuse them into fighting each other, perhaps," she requested.

Dharma sneered, then loaded the compound with another new one behind it. "I'm not one for recycling, Phero. Seeing past failed experiments brought back out into my sight does nothing but agitate me," she growled, then pressed one hand over her mouth. After a bit of contemplation, she revealed another smile. "But how is it for you, I wonder? Are you asking me to load in more because you like the pleasure of releasing them? Dirty girl, Phero~" she cooed, laughing in plain sight of Phillip, who grew ever more irritated waiting for his turn to speak.

The navi shook her head defensively. "I'm not thinking of something that lewd right now, Dharma. I just want to improve my situation," she retorted, accepting the compounds. She couldn't help but feel a little anxious, however. The sensation of releasing one compound was already pretty stimulating, so the thought of two at once...

Before she had time to agonize over it any more, she loaded them both up and let them out in a fine mist. "Nnngh.... ah..." she muttered, biting one finger as they seeped out and headed towards their targets.

"Hahaha! You look like you're about to climax, Phero!" Dharma guffawed, ungracefully banging her fist against the table with laughter. "What a naughty girl!" Phillip went into a coughing fit and pressed his head against one of the couch pillows to stifle it.

"It's cruel to design me this way and then make fun of me," Phero complained, crossing her arms and flushing red. To take her mind off of it, she summoned up a shotgun and took aim at the kabutanks. She fired off a sloppy shot, trying to toast the viruses before they could take any actions against her. She finished up by protecting herself with the guard that Dharma had slotted through to her.

*) Activate SetGrass [Create large area grass terrain]
*) Hack @ CanodumbA [Glitch]
1) Crazy Gas @ Canodumb B [Confusion ground attack, 15 HP sacrifice]
2) Shotgun @ KabutankA [50 shot attack + spread]
3) Guard1 up [1 hit shield + reflect]
Spreading her usual flowery field, Phero got to work spreading her chemical cocktails around. Her first set caused the Canodumb to go haywire, and break down for a moment. The other batch wasn't going anywhere, though, since she had accidentally let out the mist of compounds in a different direction in her stupor. Anyway, after that, she pulled out a Shotgun and blasted a Kabutank to pieces. She then pulled up a Guard to defend against attacks. It really wasn't all very necessary, though, since the Kabutank's bombing was extremely inaccurate and the Canodumbs were pulling themselves together to take aim.

Canodumb A: 50 HP [Stunned!]
Canodumb B: 50 HP
Kabutank A: DELETED
Kabutank B: 50 HP

Phero.EXE: 95 HP (Guard1)

45% Normal
5% Cracked
50% Grass
Phero was pleased to see that her pheromones were having some positive effect towards the battle. Still, she knew that there was no chance that Dharma would have any praise for her; malfunctioning machines didn't really tie in to inducing fondness or romantic feelings. "Well, it can still be a personal victory," she reasoned, giving herself a mental pat on the back.

Sure enough, Dharma's face betrayed no sense of satisfaction. "Hm, this battle is incompetency all around, huh Phero? You're lucky to have such brainless opponents," she yawned, slotting through heatshot, rageclaw, and icecube. "Test another compound and then finish up."

Nodding, Phero accepted her chips and got ready to release a new compound. Determined not to give Dharma the satisfaction of watching her reaction towards releasing the pheromones, the navi held her face as still as possible, keeping her usual frown as she squeezed her hand-plungers. Clouds of the untested pheromone released into the air, heading towards the enemy Kabutank. She smiled, thinking that she'd completely hidden the physical sensation of releasing the gas this time.

"Hm hm hm! Look, Phillip. You can still see the flesh at her thighs quivering, can't you? It's so priceless," Dharma chuckled, resting her cheek on one fist while Phillip went into another coughing fit. Truth be told, Phero hadn't been shaking at all until she said that; as if on queue, her legs started shaking upon hearing her operator's observation.

Trying to calm her extremities, Phero closed her eyes and readied her heatshot. It felt highly counter-intuitive to set out a field of beautiful flowers and then burn them as fuel for dangerous fires, but it might be an effective strategy. She pointed one arm out towards the cannons, then released a spurt of liquid perfume using one of her plungers. As the liquid flew forward, she released a miniature flame-thrower from the outstretched hand, which lit the liquids and turned the limited-reach liquid into a long-range weapon.

While watching her newly created fire shoot through the air, she brought down another tremendous block of ice to use against the Kabutank. With some amount of effort, she used her rageclaw and the strength of her legs to lift the massive object up above her head, then hurl it towards the Kabutank. On one hand, she realized that if her pheromones had been effective in some fashion, this attack's success would mean that there wasn't much time to record the effects. On the other hand, she wasn't so personally interested in the results as preserving her own health.

*) Hack @ Kabutank B
1) Heatshot @ Canodumb A and B [40 fire shot, A accuracy + spread 1]
2) Summon IceCube [100 HP]
3) Rageclaw throw IceCube @ Kabutank B [100 thrown + impact]
Sensing her chance, Phero launched a HeatShot at the Canodumb!...Unfortunately, sometimes the hardest viruses to hit were the ones that just stood there, and such was the case as the fired fire sailed wide left, no chance of hitting anything. Undeterred, she created an IceCube and tossed it at the other virus, but more on that in a moment...

At first, the bug seemed to do absolutely nothing. After being given a moment, however, hair extended from the sides of its horn to form a thick, luxurious mustache. Stylish. It seemed to like it, but wanted to see what it looked like. Where were mirrors when you needed them...ah, there was one, drawing near. It turned slightly, but oddly made no effort to avoid the attack, content to gaze at its own reflection in the ice as it crashed into it. But hey, it went out in STYLE.

Oh, and the other Canodumb fired a shot at Phero, but Guard bounced it back. Less stylish, but more pain for it and less pain for her was always good.

Canodumb A: 50 HP (Phero located)
Canodumb B: 30 HP
Kabutank A: DELETED
Kabutank B: DELETED

Phero.EXE: 95 HP

45% Normal
5% Cracked
50% Grass
Dharma growled in frustration. Mustache-growth was another useless dead-end; she'd feel happier if the effects were becoming anything closer to arousal at all. "Phero, is it possible that you're using the pheromones wrong, somehow?" she grumbled, clutching her head with one hand. "I refuse to believe that my greatest research team sent up such a shoddy, fruitless batch of pheromones as priority one tests."

"I'm not sure that the V0006 compound was entirely useless. The virus was drawn into vanity, after all. Self-admiration is still a form of admiration," Phero suggested, speaking as seriously as she could in the defense of a chemical compound that causes viruses to grow facial hair.

"Useless. If it was just vanity, maybe it'd work out. But there's no way we're going to market a love serum that turns men into Sasquatches!" Dharma groaned, turning away from the PET screen and twirling her pen idly.

"Sasquatches...? I take it you don't like mustaches," she murmured, then looked back at the viruses she was supposed to be finishing up. "Let's test another compound. That ought to cheer you up," the navi offered, waiting to load another pheromone solution.

"If this goes anything like the last one, don't count on it. Maybe we'll grow them some full, dignified cannon-beards? Perhaps we'll cure cannon baldness!" she laughed, keeping her attention on the pen. Phillip remained totally ignored as he tried to cough for her attention. Of course, Phillip coughing was about as uncommon as most people's breathing, so it was easy for her to phase out.

Optimistic all the same, Phero shivered and released another gaseous, invisible fume that drifted towards the cannons. "Well, I've only got one weapon left. I suppose there's nothing to do now but use it," she gulped. Experimentally, she tried stepping a little to the left. The cannon's nozzle seemed to be following her. "It looks like the sooner I destroy those things, the better..."

Moving in with unpracticed steps, she hurled herself headlong at the viruses. With speed but little focus, she tried to shred the cannons apart with her oversized, unfitting bear claw. She grunted like a child, flailing her arm back and forth between the two.

Dharma couldn't help but wish that there was some music or something to listen to while she virus busted, just so she didn't have to listen to the grating sounds of her navi's battle ineptitude. "This is pathetic," she murmured, turning on a track from her PET's musical selection and placing in earbuds. Phillip swore silently, fantasizing about walking up and ripping them from her ears.

*) Hack Canodumb A
1) Rageclaw Canodumb A [40 melee damage, B accuracy + slashing]
2) Rageclaw Canodumb A [40 melee damage, B accuracy + slashing]
3) Rageclaw Canodumb B [40 melee damage, B accuracy + slashing]