Courting Shadows

((Branch: Companion Net Thread for => Courting Shadows))
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As the slim bolt of light that had injected her into the outer security system cleared, Lyntael opened her eyes and looked around, blinking a few times. The world outside might be in the pitch dark of night, but here it was bright and vibrant, as always. The outer system net was a wide expanse of intersecting pathways, a terminal node at each point. It bent the eyes a little bit if you tried to look too closely, but most nodes about the area seemed to have pathways connecting to most of the other ones she could see, and and small pulses of light zipped back and forth between them along the edges of the walkways.

As well as being connected with each other, most of the nodes she could see form where she had landed made arching ramps or stairways, linking to smaller access points up and down from the main on and it took her a moment longer to put together what was what. Behind her, the nearest cluster gave off a faint hum and she turned back towards it, moving to the main terminal at its base.

Right, so... Each camera tower connected all sensors to a single node that handled the feeds and passed them up to the over-arching security system. Each tower could cross-reference its feeds with any tower that shared sensor space with it, but that only happened on request. Easy. Rogan was... there... so...

"Status, Lyntael." The sound of Rogan's voice startled her thoughts and, more irksome, brought her mind back to the issue that had been distracting her before. Why now, of all times?
"I'm here safely, sir," quickly she relayed the basics of what she'd learned, working as she did to over-write the live feed with a loop referenced from the previous few minutes. Rogan sent her his first destination and she got to plotting his route through the grounds.

Done with the first terminal, Lyntael turned and quickly looked for the next tower she needed to work on. At least the system was fairly simple, and the connections short. There was lots of time to make it safe as Rogan crossed the grounds at a casual walk but even so, she still found herself running from one cluster to the next, to keep the feeds clean ahead of him. She stopped at the last one, covering the stairs as he climbed them towards the doorway he'd selected for entry into the building. This would be the difficult bit. How long did she have? Two minutes... okay...

As soon as she pressed the last switch, Lyntael jumped to the ladder that connected each tower to the upper walkways and climbed. Each up-link had a connection to the central security system and the moment she stepped out onto the inbound walkway her vision blurred, a static feeling covering her as it whisked her along at an impossible pace. For the briefest moment, all she could see was white, before everything stopped again, leaving her standing still on the landing zone for the transit. To her left and right, a dozen other up-links terminated in similar step-off platforms, coming from the other external camera towers, and ahead of her paths connected all the other networks related to SciLab's main security system. Now, where was it... The internal camera networks were broken into sections, each controlled by a sub-system that reported back here directly. She just needed the one responsible for the wing Rogan was in.

Walking quickly, Lyntael's eyes darted about for the reference number she was looking for, but part way around what seemed to be large loop she stifled a small cry and ducked down quickly. Mercifully, the walkways in the main system seemed to have raised barriers for the most part and she huddled behind one, her heart suddenly racing. Why had she not even thought about this? Coming the other way around the loop, another navi ambled at a very leisurely pace. He was dressed plainly in an outfit bearing the SciLab symbol and a security badge. He also had a mug of coffee in one hand, and was reading a file with the other, and didn't truly seem to be paying any attention to what had to be his rounds. Even so, Lyntael realised, with an extra curse at herself for not thinking of it, that she simply couldn't afford to be seen here, now. She bit her lip trying to calm down. Aside from out-going roads to other sub-systems, there didn't seem to be any other way off the main path here, and no way past him, and her clock was ticking. She had to back-track, and hope it didn't take too long.

It was an effort to get herself to move at all, initially, but she kept low behind the barrier and scuttled back the way she had come. Running out of time. Desperate, she stole a peek up above the barrier when she guessed it might be far enough and, not seeing the guard any more, began to run. There was no time to be sure, she just had to hope he was the only one out here. Racing past the point she'd first entered, Lyntael kept going, barely taking the time to steal a glance up at each out-road as she went until, with a gasp of relief that she promptly muffled, her eyes landed on the sub-system designation she'd been looking for. The same rushing sensation took her as she stepped onto the outbound walkway and when her vision cleared she looked around immediately for the camera node that covered the door Rogan would enter by.

The layout of the rest of the system didn't register to her as she found it, still unconsciously counting down in her head. This system was a bit different, the security tighter and the feeds more efficient. Not good. Even so, she got to work.

"Sir... I'm here, hahh... I've switched over to the internal sub-system, and I'm working on the camera covering the door... You've got thirty seconds on the outside camera still, just... just a moment... There! You're clear, sir." Out of breath, she realised the last had almost been a cry and she caught herself bracing for a scolding. Strangely, it didn't come. Rogan must have settled into work mode too much to even bother chastising her now. Lyntael resisted the urge to sigh. She probably needed to do the same, really; this net was tighter, and slipping him through wasn't going to get any easier.

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((Begin Game, first move to follow when it's not after midnight...))
Getting the camera feed looped wasn't a big problem, fortunately, and a quick glance over her shoulder at the rest of the area she was in told Lyntael that no-one else was in the sub-systems at all. That was a relief. The real problem was the recursive feedback. Unless she stood and maintained the loop, none of these cameras would stay down for very long at all. At least she could use them to keep track of where he was more easily; small blessings. Rogan was still at the door, waiting for her all clear. She missed him at first, since he was now dressed in a lab coat and held a sheaf of files in one arm. The ID badge looked a bit worn, and the coat a bit used, too, and it hadn't been until her third glanced over the area that she'd realised it was him.

"Rogan, sir. The security is more difficult here. It'll be tight, and I can't keep the cameras safe for long. Just, give me a moment... Ok... Where to, sir?" Rather than responding, Rogan was already moving forward. He seemed to be looking between his file and his PET, as though checking something, but a silent message came through to her a moment later.

"It should be a straight hall and the offices are evenly spaced. Stop me if I get too far ahead of you." She grit her teeth. So much for him listening to her difficulties. The entry hall was safe enough at least, covered only by that one camera. She kept an eye on him as the man walked slowly past the intersection and kept on, looking for all the world like a researcher lost in his notes. He'd be coming into view of the third camera on the system soon, but she stayed where she was a moment longer, keeping the loop on the first as up to date as she could afford to. Just a moment long... now! Dashing away from the console, Lyntael raced across the lowest walkway towards the third terminal. In the back of her mind, the thought needled her that how fast she could run really ought not be a part of a job like this, but she ignored it.

Her fingers raced as she reached the new console, but a glance at the screen and the last looks she'd taken before leaving the first made her heart jolt. He'd be too soon, there wasn't enough time, even for this.
"Wait, sir! Wait! I'm almost there!" the bypass was simple enough, but it still took a few moments. Anything more complex, that might last longer, would take longer too, and that just wasn't an option. "There! You're clear!" It only vaguely registered in her mind that her voice held a desperate, almost shouted edge to it, and she caught herself hoping that Rogan wasn't too annoyed at her. A moment later she breathed out a long, slow breath as he came into view of the now safe camera.

There wasn't long before the first camera would revert, but so long as he kept moving they should be ok. This was way too stressful.



Summary

1) Maintain Camera 1 (2 Actions Remaining)
2) Move to Camera 3
3) Begin Looping Camera 3
4) Complete Looping Camera 3 (2 Actions Remaining)
Eyes fixed on the camera readout that showed Rogan's position to her, Lyntael swallowed and tried to stop her fingers from twitching at the console. He was making his mind up about something, but he didn't seem interested in telling her what he was planning. In another moment, his indecision was over and she grit her teeth as he turned north. Why? Why was he going...

There was no time to really question it though. Rather, she could only steal a last glance at the screen before tearing herself away at a sprint. He was heading into the field of the second camera on the circuit, its node way across the grid and up an inclining slope from where she was. Climbing the bridge afforded her a beautiful view of the area, where, amidst the brightly lit pathways connecting the camera nodes, a virtual replica of the department hummed away below. Deserted, thankfully, or so it seemed. In the back of her mind, a part of her wondered if they was a real correlation; the labs all had their own terminals and jack-in points after all.

There was no more time to take the view in, though, as she pelted up to the next node, looking hurriedly to the screen. No time, no time... she began the process but the count of Rogan's pace in her mind already told her there wasn't enough room. There just wasn't, he was going to be recorded. Frustrated and working as fast as she could, Lyntael didn't really notice how badly she had begun to spark and crackle, until the screen in front of her pitched into a static mess as the camera got a little bit too magnetically scrambled to cope with. She pulled her hands back, startled, but her mind knew to make the best of an opportunity and ask questions later. It she couldn't see the feed, then neither could it be recorded. It would do, for now, though there was no telling how quickly it would recover.

"Rogan, please!" She barely cared how pleading she sounded, made worse by a slight pant on her breath. "If I don't know where you're heading, I can't keep ahead. I need more time, sir!" He'd spoken about working together, before, but working with him didn't mean much if he wouldn't work with her. Lyntael wanted to pull at her hair. Worse, he seemed to have no intention of slowing either. Her fingers darted to the keys again. The loop wasn't complete, but she could at least maintain the static for a few more moments, except, Rogan was just going to keep on, and he'd pass into the next camera, and she wasn't even finished with this one yet. Her heart felt like it was drumming in her ears; they'd barely started and already she was letting him down. Like this, she couldn't even tell clearly where he was.

Blinking, she closed her eyes tight for a moment, tyring to will herself to calm down, but it really didn't help as the distress of messing things up for Rogan, again, began to sink its tendrils through her. It should be simple, why couldn't she even do this right? Think, there had to be some way to fix it. She remembered seeing other people from the other cameras, and she knew there was at least one proper guard on the wing, and he'd been in the north side, somewhere. Surely Rogan wouldn't chance getting seen by him. That meant he'd keep going though, and that meant...

"Stop, Rogan, sir, stop! I can't keep up, there's just too many cameras!" She didn't care if she was shouting at him now, or if he'd scold her for sounding upset. He was lucky she wasn't sniffling from the distress already, but a tiny flicker of frustration and anger at the situation was helping her hold it off for now. He was still in camera two, and only in two, but the only way he was likely to go was into camera four, and she couldn't possibly get there and fix it in time. Then there was the overlap, all through both northern hallways; seeing the doubles of people in multiple screens all the way through was enough to terrify her at this point.

"Please, sir, I'm trying, but there's just to many. The north side of the wing has so many more cameras overlapping each other. Please, you have to go a different way! I just can't do it. I'm..." Oh light, there they were. She sniffed back and squeezed her eyes shut in a last ditch attempt to stop herself breaking down. "I'm sorry sir, I am. I'm doing the best I can!" This was not the time for giving up. That was what she had to tell herself. Breaking down into hopeless sobs was not the answer, especially not now. She hadn't failed him altogether, not yet. Think. He had to go back the way he came, but there was a space she could work with there, surely. It had to work, there was just no time for anything else. She turned away from the scrambled console, electricity still sparking wildly in her hair, and bounded down the ramp behind it, back towards the first camera node. If she could just get ahead of him, and into a rhythm, she could still get control of things again. She had to.


Summary

1) Move to Camera 2
2) Scramble Camera 2 (1 Action Remaining)
3) Maintain Camera 2 (1 Action Remaining)
4) Move to Camera 1
Running headlong down stairs wasn't the cleverest thing to be doing, but in her own defence, Lyntael knew she wasn't at her calmest right now. Slight as she was, she overbalanced about two-thirds of the way down and tumbled with a startled shriek, crashing painfully down the last few steps, to fetch up against the first camera terminal. Her left shoulder-blade complained with a sharp twinge, and to a lesser degree other parts of her. Even so, the girl grit her teeth and scrambled to her feet as fast as she could, pulling herself up to the console.

A hurried look at it showed she still had a few moments, and she reached up to sweep the static out of her hair and shove it away, into the metal railings nearby. She had to do this properly, no more malfunctions. The sparking would come right back, she knew, but for a precious few seconds she was static free enough to work. The loop was easy enough to make, at least, and she'd already done the exact same thing here once already; her fingers danced.

"Left here! Now, sir, now!" She called it as sharply as she could, though even hearing herself, she knew her voice sounded anything but collected. It didn't matter, so long as he listened. She swallowed. "I can fix this, sir, I can, I promise. Just... just give me a moment, please. South when you reach the wall, sir."

With the loop complete and the camera safe, Lyntael watched Rogan pause nonchalant at the junction, glance about, then head in the way she had asked. The sigh of relief that followed surprised her; she hadn't realised she'd held her breath, as nervous and unsure that he'd follow her instructions as she was. She tapped in a few more commands, holding the loop from decaying for a few more seconds while he reached the same junction they'd started in and dropped her head, drawing a few deep breaths, one after the other to calm herself. As she looked down, she noticed that the top tie on her vest had torn free. Again. This was the second time it had given out during a fall she'd taken. It honestly surprised and annoyed her that the fabric seemed to be so flimsy. Still, it wasn't like there was anything to see. With a shake of her head and another wince for lingering pains, she turned and started running for the walkway that led to the third node again. No mistakes this time.

"Just wait there a moment longer, sir. I'm almost there. Just making the next camera safe, sir." Talking while running made her voice come out in breathy pants, and she half expected Rogan to chastise her again, but he remained silent. Maybe he was just ignoring everything but her direct instructions now. Did that mean he was angry at her? The thought brought the sniffle and the threatening tears back again. She really was doing the best she could for him. It was the first time he'd trusted her with anything this serious, she just couldn't mess it it, she couldn't!

Summary

1) Begin Looping Camera 1
2) Complete Looping Camera 1 (Safe, 2 Actions Remaining)
3) Maintain Camera 1 (Safe, 2 Actions Remaining)
4) Move to Camera 3
Lyntael reached the third camera node at a run, skidding to a halt at the console even as she looked desperately at the screen. Rogan hadn't moved yet, good. She licked her lips, trying to calm herself as she started the loop. Everything should be alright now, there would be enough time after all. She could see him working his deception with the man that had brushed by him; in one way, it amazed and impressed her the way he could slip persona so seamlessly, becoming whoever he needed to be to avoid being remembered or to access places he shouldn't. It made her heart skip to see him working so, and yet, at the same time... another part of her still felt upset by what it was he was so often doing; that the deception seemed so natural and automatic to him, almost without thought, worried her. Sometimes she wondered whether the Rogan she saw, when he was all alone, was even the 'real' Rogan, but the cold reminder to that was knowing that he didn't see her as a person to begin with; a something, not a someone from who he might have to hide things. She sniffed again, and shook her head. There, done.

"East now, sir. Across the junction that's got two cameras on it, and into the long hallway. You need to cross that junction quickly, sir!" Biting her lip, she glanced back the way she had come. The first camera didn't have long left, by her count, hopefully he would move fast.
"Yes, yes, I'm on my way. These mistakes don't correct themselves you know. I'll be there shortly." Rogan's reply made her hesitate for a moment, puzzled, before it registered that his answer was part of his act as well. At least he was moving.

Just as Lyntael thought she was getting herself under control and beginning to calm down, Rogan hesitated at the junction. What was he doing? The first camera was going to revert any moment, he needed to go! All at once her heart was in her throat again and she cast a frightened look back towards the first camera. There was no chance she could make it back to fix the feed up if he didn't keep going right now, but she could see he wasn't. There was nothing for it but to sprint, and hope. There was time here on the third camera anyway. She raced back along the narrow walk the way she'd passed a couple of times now, calling to him as she went.

"Rogan, sir! You can't stop! You're still in the first feed, you need to keep going! I can't get back to maintain it fast enough, please sir, go!" As she arrived at the first console again she gripped its edges harder than she ought to, watching him, and she knew her should had probably sounded suitably urgent when she shouted, but instead of walking on, Rogan turned and detoured down the southern passage. What... Where was he going? She stepped back from the terminal, feeling herself sparking as her eyes darted over the screens trying to follow him. Where had he gone. What camera covered that bit?

"I can't see you, sir! Rogan, I don't know what camera you're in any more, I cant' find you! Why didn't you go on, sir? I- I had things ready, but. I don't know, I can't tell what I need to fix next, sir, I—" She was panicking now, she knew it, hair crackling madly and the fear of messing things up making her hands shake again. Rogan's voice cut her off sharply, and the sound of it shocked her like a physical blow. He was angry and his voice was hard and sharp.

"Lyntael, you are grating my nerves. I have instructed you already to do as I command and nothing else. It is not a terribly complex order. Do you understand what I'm telling you?" She shrank in on herself, head dropping and arms hugging at her shoulders as he berated her. He really was angry at her.
"Y-yes, sir..." It was all she could do to keep her voice steady enough to answer, and she wasn't even sure she succeeded at it. She didn't, as it turned out; the sharp cut of his voice continued. She flinched as he gave his ultimatum, and felt herself lose the strength to fight off the prickle in her eyes that had returned. She was trying her best to do what he needed, truly she was, but she really just wasn't good enough after all. He didn't need her, really, if he was prepared to just... just, put her away.

She heard him asking if she could do the job or not, but her heart whispered that he'd already decided she couldn't. Somewhere along the way her knees had buckled under his words and she knelt, curled over on herself, sobbing while she waited for him to just pull her out and be done with it. This was the most important jobs he'd ever trusted her with, and now... now he'd decided she wasn't of any use anyway. She clutched herself, but the expected light beam didn't come. Rather, his silence continued for a few more seconds, before she heard him sigh heavily. Her head snapped up as she realised he had actually been waiting for her answer.

"Yes, Sir! I can! I can do it, I promise!" Oh light, it would be a miracle if he even understood her with that tearful, wet gasp. She rushed on anyway. "I won't let you down, Rogan, sir, I swear it I won't! Please, please, I can do this!" He was giving her a chance still, that was all that mattered now.

Lyntael scrambled up to her feet and looked to the terminal again. Fighting sniffles and dashing at her eyes, she tried to collect her thoughts. Rogan didn't look like he was anywhere; that had to mean he had someone found one of the few camera blind spots in the wing. That meant he was fine as long as he didn't move from it, and she could get what he needed ready. That was good. Ok, be calm, and think... he'd disappeared heading that way, and the plan had shown it as a dead end... he still needed to take the southern passage, though, so that meant she would need to make both of these ones safe....again, she realised, glancing at the feed for the first camera, now reporting true again. Well, she had to start somewhere if she was going to show him show could be useful. Her fingers began to work the keys again.

Summary

L1) Begin Looping Camera 3
L2) Complete Looping Camera 3 (Safe, 2 Actions Remaining)
L3) Move to Camera 1
L4) Begin Looping Camera 1
Alright, so, this one was almost done again, get back to three and reset it, and there should be just long enough for Rogan to get past, if she was fast. Lyntael continued to work, blinking and taking deep breaths as she still fought to compose herself. Rogan was annoyed with her, and this was a last chance; no matter what else happened she was not going to fail again. She was not, it just wasn't an option.

Taping in the last command, the girl immediately turned on her heel and sprinted back along the walkway. A small part of her thanked whatever small mercy it was that she seemed to be in a well secured part of of the SciLab network. There was no way in the world she'd be able to manage this if she had to run from virus activity at the same time.

"Almost, Rogan, nearly ready. The junction where you turned off is covered by two cameras, and I'm getting them both covered." Her voice was still unstable, and a little breathy while she ran, but it was better than it had been, at least. She was doing her best to squeeze as much seriousness and calm into it as she could, though the results were still debatable.

She reached the third terminal again and started running the now familiar sequence. She swallowed, nervous, and resisted the urge to stop and run her fingers through her hair. The more she tried to focus hard, the more the small annoyances crept in at the edges of her consciousness; the way the torn catch on her top dragged back and forth across her skin, the lingering soreness from her earlier fall, that she was sure was probably going to begin bruising in one or two places before much longer. She tried to put it out of her head.

"The window won't be long, sir. You'll need to move quickly, through the junction and then east, into the hallway, and keep going until you're out of the western side camera. I'm almost there..." She finished the loop, striking the keys harder than she strictly needed to as she cut it into place again. "Now, sir! Go now!" Eyes staring at the screen in front of her she watched for Rogan reappearing from the blind space, wishing she could tell exactly how long her had before the fist camera caught sight of him. Her pulse jumped as she caught sight of the man once more, walking quickly now, thank goodness. "Come on, come on.... move, move, move..." It was a murmur, under her breath as she watched, kept private, even as she caught herself tapping anxiously against the edge of the console with her fingertips.

Summary

L1) Finish Looping Camera 1
L2) Move to Camera 3
L3) Begin Looping Camera 3
L4) Finish Looping Camera 3
There was a weakness in her knees that made Lyntael sag at the console, relieved, as Rogan wasted no time hurrying along the corridor before the camera watching the turn reverted. He barely made it, but barely making it was far better than not quite making it. She let out a tense breath then glanced at the layout again. Ok, this one was clear, hopefully long enough until he was out of it altogether, next would be...

The camera grid was neat and symmetrical, sure, but but as Lyntael took off towards the terminal for the eighth camera, she found herself wishing that the path lengths were all uniform too. Instead, she sprinted, taking the long, level pathway. The fading pain in one leg was enough to remind her that the shorter, steeper stairs towards one of the other nodes, would have been less preferable still. Oh well. As she ran, she took a moment to look down across the electronic net-replica of this part of the complex. As deserted as it seemed down there, the halls and structures still glowed bright with lights and signals. It made her feel increasingly nervous the longer she had to stay here. There couldn't be no-one around at all, and even if the camera circuits weren't patrolled, all it would take would be for a navi in the sub-net below to look up and see her rushing about. She had no plans at all for how to deal with anything like that. Getting caught, here, on here end, hadn't come up in any of Rogan's planning, at all, and she'd only thought about it herself when it was far too late to raise the issue. It was a worry she tried to put out of her mind, though. There was more than enough that could go wrong already, and she was absolutely on her last chance for that.

Reaching the eighth node, she spared only a cursory glance at the screen before beginning the process of crating a safe loop for Rogan. There should be enough time to get it place this time, without too much danger. She worked as quickly as she could, even so. Good, almost ready, and... she glanced up at the screen again and almost bit her tongue as she stifled a short gasp. She was barely done with this one, he couldn't move north yet, there was a second camera covering that junction! Without taking time to pick her words, she called out to Rogan, not even caring to try and control her voice in her hurry to get the warning out.

"Sir! You can't go north yet!" It was something of a gasp, but she rushed on, explaining why he couldn't as quickly as she could. Before she'd even noticed what she was saying, the girl heard herself promise to fix the other one as well, without even thinking if it was feasible or not. Could she get them both down for long enough to let Rogan cross? She spared an uncertain glance to the stairs that led back upwards towards the seventh node. A problem for later, even if later was only a minute away. For now, all that mattered as that he didn't move north. Or stay put, she realised with a shock. Her heart lurched as a hollow twist of fear sank through her. She'd said he could wait still, but if he did, then the third camera would catch him... he needed to get out of it right away! Oh light... what if he... Her hair and skin began to crackle as she panicked and Lyntael jumped back from the console quickly, pressing her hands to her face as she tried to suppress a small moan. Why was she so bad at this?

It was another moment before she straightened and dared to look at the screen again, and saw, with a relief that nearly robbed her of her ability to stand, again, that Rogan had indeed pressed onward, and was now safely in the corridor only covered by the camera she'd just fixed. The relief didn't last long, though, as her eyes followed the pathway up. There was someone else in the hallway, and no chance that they'd avoid each other. All she could do was hope Rogan wouldn't be mad, and extend the loop. He'd probably be in this view longer than he hoped, now. Even as she put her hands back to the keys, she looked back towards the stairs again. She'd need to fix that other camera soon one way or the other, but she couldn't leave this one until she knew he was moving again. Her heart hadn't really gotten a chance to slow down the whole time, yet, and she was starting to feel the thumping in her chest as an almost uncomfortable sensation now.

Summary

L1) Move to Camera 8
L2) Begin Looping Camera 8
L3) Finish Looping Camera 8 (Safe, 2 Actions)
L4) Maintain Camera 8 (Safe, 2 Actions)
As she watched the screen, Lyntael cringed at the sight of Rogan getting accosted by the woman in the hallway with him. He was going to be angry with her, more than he already was, she knew it. She could see he was having to talk his way out of it, and opened the channel just so she could hear what he was actually saying. Some part of her hoped to gauge his mood, but realistically she knew that wasn't really possible. Rogan was far too experienced an actor to let anything but the calm and congenial face show. The topic threw her for a moment though. She knew that other navis were different from her, or rather that she was very different from other navis, but, somehow, listening to them talk about it like that... somehow, it just made her uncomfortable. She closed the channel again. There was work she needed to do anyway. Rogan wasn't going to be caught up for long, and neither of them had very long to waste in either case. She turned from the keys and began the climb up the slope towards the seventh node.

As expected, the twist from her earlier fall made Lyntael wince as she ran up the steps. It wasn't bad, really, just enough to notice, and be uncomfortable. As she reached the console, she took another deep breath and resisted the desire to put hands to her cheeks. Normally, she could run all day, but somehow, the combination of the sprinting and her own nerves was leaving her ore flustered than it ought to. There was no time to worry about it, though, and instead she concentrated on creating the next loop. A glance at the screen showed Rogan already beginning to move on and she opened her private link to him again.

"Rogan, sir. You're clear to keep heading north now, until you get to the junction that branches right. Turn that way when you reach it, and then you should be almost there." He didn't acknowledge her words, but when she looked at the screen, he was still heading northward. There wasn't much time. If everything went right, he'd be out of both cameras he was in now, and under the ninth one, just as they were about to revert, and she should have just enough time to make it safe. It would be fine, and he'd see she could help him after all. Nodding to herself, she took a last glance at the screen, then turned to head towards the last camera node.

As she sprinted down the gentle slope towards the ninth terminal, Lyntael spared another glance for the labs laid out below. There still seemed to be no-one around, thankfully. Her eye lingered for a second on one of the closed offices nearby. She couldn't see anything inside the netspace replica of the lab, but it was the one Rogan was aiming for, in the real world. The legality, or lack thereof, of what he was doing still upset her, of course, but she told herself again that, really, he wasn't harming anyone since it was just information he wanted. They'd slip in and out again, and he'd learn what he wanted to, and no-one would get hurt by the whole ordeal at all.

She reached the terminal, panting again as she skidded to a stop, and put her hands to the keys. A quick look at the screen, though, made her gasp and stop, one hand going other mouth even as she bit her lip. Rogan had stopped, and wasn't moving forward. There wasn't time to wait, or the other cameras would revert and catch him. He couldn't stop, there wasn't time! Unconsciously, she put both hands to her head, gripping at her hair in panic as Rogan turned aside, heading a different way. She'd told him the way to go, and he hadn't said anything!

"Ah! Sir, where..? Ah, no..." She'd cried out to him before really thinking about it, making no effort to regulate her voice for him, and trailed off again mumbling small, worried denials to herself without thinking to close the channel again. What was he doing? There had to be a reason of course, but, what could she do... where was he now... Ok, ok... he was still safe, at least... not for long, but maybe it was something. She turned from the terminal she was at, doing her best not to panic utterly.

Summary

L1) Move to Camera 7
L2) Begin Looping Camera 7
L3) Finish Looping Camera 7 (Safe, 2 Actions)
L4) Move to Camera 9
L* Freak out because Rogan isn't communicating with her properly.
It really was beginning to all get a bit beyond Lyntael as she sprinted back down the stairs towards the eighth terminal. Her heart was in her throat and she stumbled again on the steps, only catching herself from falling this time with a desperately grabbed cushion of air, but even as she raced on, the panic flooding her was reaching the point where she couldn't really deal with it any more. Her hands were shaking as she reached the terminal and began working by rote.

Up on the camera screen she looked for Rogan and found him heading towards the northern junction. There was nothing she could do, nothing at all. It was a completely different pair of cameras and she was far away from either. It was hopeless. Her body sagged at the keys as she completed the loop, until she had sunk into a huddle by the base of the terminal.

"I-I can't sir. I can't do it right." And there were the tears again. She was past trying to stop them now, and her voice cracked. "I'm sorry. I just can't keep up. There's two on the junction you're coming to, sir/. I can't get to them, either one. I'm sorry, sir. I'm sorry." She sniffed back, tyring to breath. "Please don't hate me." The last came out barely above a whimper, and was engulfed in her disconsolate sobbing before the end, and the sound of Rogan growling under his breath only made it worse. When his voice came back to her it was hard, and Lyntael flinched, huddling up further as though trying to escape the sound of it.

"Lyntael, when I misjudge the dial on my toaster and burn my toast, I might grow irate, but I do not hate the toaster. That would be pointless, and make no sense besides. Now get up, and do the work you've been given." Her head rose a little, and she glanced about where she was, but his words only made the hollow ache she was feeling worse.

"You've probably been recorded, by now, Sir." She sniffled again, still instinctively trying to shield herself from whatever his voice might bring next. Curled up on the ground as she was, she wasn't watching the feeds and couldn't tell for sure, but, he wouldn't have waited, just like all the other times. "I couldn't stop it from happening. I'm sorry."

"I'm aware of that. That is not what I asked of you. I will fix what you have broken, in time. For now, Lyntael, Stand Up." The layering of command in his voice this time practically dragged her to her feet before she'd even thought about it. "Good. You have work to do. When a plan goes awry, you do not give up. Is that understood? You keep going, and you do whatever you must to mitigate, and to reach your goal however you may. Am I clear, Lyntael?"
"Yes, sir." Her voice was still tearful and quiet, but there was literally no other response she could think of giving to him.
"Good. I will fix this. Focus on doing as you were told for the rest, and no more mistakes."
"Yes, sir." She swallowed and took a deep breath, turning towards the camera screen again to work out what he needed her to do.

Alright, so, ignoring that junction, then... Right. Lyntael blinked away her tears as best she could and took a few more breaths. Just do what she could, he had said, whatever was necessary. That meant the seventh node next. She began to run.


Summary

L1 Move to Camera 8
L2 Begin Looping Camera 8
L* Why is it all going wrong!?
L3 Finish Looping Camera 8 (Safe, 2 Actions)
L* Have break-down over messing up.
L4 Move to Camera 7
The crackling in her hair was snapping brighter and fiercer as Lyntael ran, small sparks leaping to the railings and falling about her every time she stumbled slightly or grabbed out to steady herself. She was barely watching where she was going, so much as following the path to her next stop, eyes fixed on the terminal at the end. A part of her mind was telling her to calm down, but the singular voice of soothing was drowned out by the myriad of other thoughts and worries coursing back and forth. Whatever it took, he'd said, and she would. She'd even go along with whatever he wanted, no matter how illegal or dangerous for him it was, if he'd just forgive her mistakes so far. He was still trusting her, and she swore she'd do whatever she needed to to show him it was justified.

She caught the edges of the terminal to stop herself as she reached it, and began working at the keys immediately. Her hands and fingers trembled, but by now the process was familiar enough that it didn't matter. A quick glance at the screen showed Rogan engaging a couple of normal scientists, but he— Static blanked the screen suddenly as the feed crashed and the system overloaded. Lyntael felt her heart lurch again and she looked down to see her sparks dancing like mad between her fingers and over the keys. No... No, no, no, not now. A low moan slipped from her before she could stop it, sounding more like the fear of some small wounded creature than a young girl and she pulled her hands back, grabbing at her hair again instead in frustration.

No time. Crashed was as good as looped, for however long it held, and Rogan needed her at the next camera already, or, at least, he probably would soon, if he kept moving. It would have to do. With a last helpless glance at the scrambled screen reading, Lyntael turned and began the long climb to the ninth camera node again. She ran hard, her strides stretching out on the gradual incline. He was almost there, it really shouldn't take much longer, if everything went well. Just this last little bit, if she could make it safe in time.

Her breathing was harsh by the time she reached the last terminal. It wasn't the running, really; she knew she could run all day without tiring, normally, but the stress was wearing her down. In her mind she had been counting his steps, guessing at how long she had before he'd show up in the last section, and there as no sign of him as she reached the node, but it would be close. Fingers shaking, she started the loop, but her eyes kept darting back to the screen every keystroke. No more mistakes. How long? He'd be there soon, had she miscounted? A part of her felt certain that he was about to arrive on camera before she was ready, every moment, until ,with a small cry of fear she slammed both hands onto the keys, sending a large discharge of electricity right into the terminal. The resulting crash was fairly predictable, but Lyntael herself breathed a long sigh of relief, leaning heavily on the keys as she caught her breath.

It was done, and Rogan was safe. Once he was within this camera's sight, he'd be out of any others, and there should be no others to block until he was inside the lab he needed. After a moment Lyntael looked up again, staring at the flashing static with an almost zoned out gaze. She just needed to keep this one knocked out until he was done, and then they could leave. Blinking suddenly, she froze. There was a problem with that thought, she realised; once Rogan was done, they could go home... which meant he'd need to get out, which meant... Lyntael felt the urge to break down into sobs again rising up and she tried to fight it off. It meant she was only half done, really, and that she'd have to do it all again to get him away safely. The thought robbed the girl of her willpower for the moment, and she slipped down to her knees for what felt like the hundredth time that night. It wasn't fair.

It was several seconds before a more pressing thought fought its way to the surface and Lyntael jumped up again, leaping back into full panic in a heartbeat. Clear or not, she still needed to keep it that way until Rogan was finished. It wasn't too hard to keep the feed from righting itself, but it still needed some attention. Working quickly, she set up a short maintenance loop on the scrambled camera and forced it in place. It was easier to do when all there was to work with was featureless static, at least. That done, the young girl let herself breath again, putting a hand to her chest and rubbing at her emblem as she finally took a few moments to restore some semblance of composure to her appearance.


Summary

L1) Begin Lo- *Bzzt* Scramble Camera 7 (Safe, 1 Action Remaining)
L*Silently Bemoan Lack of Control
L2) Move to Camera 9
L3) Begin Lo- *Cssht* Scramble Camera 9 (Safe, 1 Action Remaining)
L*Again with the errant sparking!
L4) Maintain Camera 9 (Safe, 1 Action Remaining)

*Note: Lyntael has Scrambled 3 times. 2 more before failure.
The problem with maintaining a static loop on a camera like this, was that it gave Lyntael no clear frame of reference for where Rogan actually was, or what he was doing, and he'd muted her line to him as well. Two fingers continued to rub small, nervous circles around the emblem at her chest, unnoticed while she fretted over the dozen or more ways that things could be going wrong.

To shift her focus, she concentrated on breathing slowly instead, and refreshed the loop with another feed of the same static. He'd tell her if something went strange at this point, surely... he was right at the lab, and only in one camera, now, so, if she had to change anything at this point, he'd say so, wouldn't he? Unless he expected her to have good visual on him and know what was going on. Then he might be expecting her to respond without saying anything at all. What if something was already going awry now, and she couldn't tell?

Fighting the worry down, Lyntael stepped away from the console, scrubbing one hand through her hair before leaning heavily on the guide railing. If he'd muted her, it was probably just because he was dealing with someone, and didn't want an interruption. That was what was most likely, really. She had to tell herself that; Rogan didn't make mistakes, after all. Her eyes scanned over the lab layout below her, neat little enclosed subnets modelled after replicas of each separate lab or office. It wasn't really too far below; the camera system was closely linked to the physical building's layout after all, but she still couldn't see and actual access points to get from where she was, to the actual sub net she'd need to switch to once Rogan was inside.

Looking back to the screen, she refreshed the loop again with another glance for the mesh of walkways linking the camera terminals. She could probably just jump, if it came to it. It wasn't far, really. Looking down again she could even be fairly certain of which lab block housed the subnet for the lab Rogan was aiming for. Supposing he told her when he was going in, that was. The hand returned to circle her emblem unnoticed as she began to pace. Supposing he told her anything. She couldn't exactly let the feed recover to check on him, and she couldn't ask him so long as he kept her muted. What was she supposed to do? The helpless waiting left Lyntael gritting her teeth in frustration, but all she could do for now was continue to maintain this last feed, and hope.


Summary

L1) Maintain Camera 9 (1 Action)
L2) Maintain Camera 9 (1 Action)
L3) Ponder the troubles of having an operator who insists on doing everything alone
L4) Maintain Camera 9 (1 Action)
The longer the static flashed across the ninth terminal, the more Lyntael found herself fretting about what was going on, on the outside. One hand went to the keys again, but she hesitated, unconsciously rubbing at her emblem still. What could he be doing? He'd have said something if he'd gone in; surely he'd have said something. But what else could he be doing to take so long? This one camera only covered a small section of passages... She swallowed, looking about again. Unless he'd had to backtrack for some reason. He'd already spent time walking about, just expecting her to keep up. What if he'd already moved somewhere else, without her? Sparks crackled in her hair again as she stepped towards one of the other pathways, then back to the console again, torn. Not knowing was driving her mad.

She had to know. If he'd moved away and exposed himself without her there to cover him, it would be her fault. Why was he keeping the line muted? A quiet, frustrated moan slipped from her lips as her fingers clenched into fists and flexed again, before she darted to the console and refreshed it, then broke into a sprint, running for a node that wasn't scrambled. If only he'd just talk to her!

She was halfway along the walkway when his voice brought her skidding to a halt.
"Lyntael. I'm going in now. Get to this lab's sub-net and make sure there's no interior traces." Just that, and the line went silent again. Blunt and serious, it still made knees weak, though with relief more than anything this time. He'd just been waiting for some reason, that was all.

The relief only lasted a moment, though as her thoughts processed what he'd actually said. Halfway along the walkway, she turned to the rail and looked down towards the network of smaller labs below, trying to find the one she needed again. Her fingers curled around the rail as the girl closed her eyes, recalling the diagram of links she'd looked at before and trying to tie it up with where she was looking from now. No good. With another glance downward she turned and retraced herself to the ninth terminal at a run, bringing up the network links quickly.

"Yes, sir. I'm switching down now, sir!" She bit her lip after uttering the answer and pushed down the wince that followed. It wasn't a fib, really. She was working on it. It would just take a bit longer than it should, that was all. A lot longer. None of the normal network links were operating while the security system was switched to its night settings like this. Lyntael stepped away from the console, hands making small, unconscious fists. She ought to be there already, but she'd just assumed all the links would be on. Like this, she'd have to go all the way back out before she could get back down to he localised lab subnet Rogan needed her to watch now. That would take way too long.

Her eyes slipped to the side, eyeing the neat cross-hashing of internal lab nets below where she was. It was a long way. She could probably make it, though. Another few moments pacing with her eyes flicking downwards and Lyntael took a deep breath. Time was wasting, and Rogan was waiting for her. She set her shoulders, then broke for the railing nearest her goal. Two steps took her there and one hand gripped the rail as she vaulted over it. She began to gather wind about her to control the fall, but as she dropped a rough static shock washed over her. Sparks dashed in front of her eyes for a moment as her body tingled, and her sense of the air she'd drawn on was gone in the same instant. Her mind registered that it was the network transition, before she was falling again, disoriented now, and with her vision still dancing.

On instinct, Lyntael stretched out her limbs and pulled on whatever air pressure she could gather, drawing it about herself as best she could. In a blur she saw the walkway above spin across her vision, and shoved the air in the other direction as hard as she could; the impact came a moment later. Her shoulder hit first, and it was probably only the lightness of her body that saved her a sprain. The angle sent her sliding and rolling until she felt herself falling again; a shorter drop this time, then another rough thump before her back fetched up against a wall.

"Lyntael. Is everything clear?" Rogan's voice was quiet but impatience, and the sound of it dragged the girl to her feet as she shook her head, clearing it. Sore in a few places, but nothing hurt. Blinking, she glanced about to make sure she was at the right spot. That doorway had the right string. Good. She pressed on quickly, biting her tongue against giving an answer; she found, even dazed as she was, she couldn't fib to him again, not over a direct answer. She slipped through the door into the lab's closed subnet.

Summary
1) Maintain,
2) Maintain,
3) -Game Complete
Inside the door, the lab was laid out in an eerie replica of the physical laboratory it managed the systems for. The door was at one end of the rectangular space, facing onto an open area that took up about a quarter of the area. A large screen filled most of the near wall, with a combination of scrolling text and complicated diagrams cycling across it; a closer inspection would show it to be a screen saver, rather than actual scientific material. A short way to the left of the door the lab wall was set with a series cupboards and cabinets with a sleek, silver design that ran to the end of the room in various lengths and sizes. Most likely their real-world counterparts contained all the advanced equipment one might need for cutting edge research; here an open door revealed them to be facades for individual device interfaces: plug-in links for that same equipment.

Where the cupboards began, the centre of the room contained a set of three flat work tables, clear of any clutter here, but each inset with a small screen and keypad on one side. Each table was supported by a solid leg on one side; in truth simply the tabletop itself, curved over and down to the floor at a slightly inward angle. Odd were the two minor support braces at the opposite end of each bench; net physics certainly wouldn't have required their existence, and clearly they were there simply in an effort to replicate the physical lab as closely as possible. The opposite side of the room held a single, long workspace running the length of the room with a number of separate, movable seats tucked in under it. At regular intervals, this bench was broken up by four wet areas; sinks or basins with functional waterworks and draining space either side.

Finally, at the far end of the room, the back wall held a second large projection screen, this one shut off completely, and what looked like a small storage closet door set into the far corner. It was likely another attempt at recreating the physical lab, and whether anything was actually in or behind it was anyone's guess.

Unfortunately for Lyntael, the young girl observed none of these details. Her focus, rather, was entirely on the other navi lounging at an easy slouch against the wall directly facing the door. He looked human in form, and wore a worn-looking black coat with the collar turned up to obscure much of his face so long as his head was lowered to his chest as it was now. The cuffs were turned back in an old-fashioned style, but with his arms folded at his chest the flaring, like the rest of the coat, only served to further obscure his slender figure. He wore matte black pants with some sort of green and silver line-work on the outer legs, but, strangely, the thing she noticed most in the first moments were his boots. Eric had designed her outfit with shoes, an she had hated them from the first. Rogan hadn't cared enough to make her put them back on, so, she hadn't worn them since. Many navis didn't have, didn't need, or else literally had no way of wearing footwear, but these boots looked solid, sturdy and well worn. She only had a moment to think on the peculiarity before the navi slid into a more upright position unfolding his arms and flexing his fingertips as though about to reach for something.

“And here I was thinking no-one would show.” There was a casual self-assurance in his voice, the words delivered with a low-born common accent that she couldn't quite place. “Poor little masterless thing. You got guts, sneaking in here all on your own. Boss'll be interested to know that at least one of you got this far.” He was walking slowly towards her now, fingers still rolling and flexing, but Lyntael's gaze had locked firmly onto the other navi's eyes; a woody green that glinted in a way that tickled her fear above a grin that she was already thinking of as a nasty sneer. “End of the line for you though, sweetie; orders are, after all.” As he drew closer, Lyntael found herself wanting to back away and soon found herself retreating one small step at a time down one side of the room.

The initial shock at seeing another navi right in front of her had worn off, but her heart hadn't slowed. It was lucky that the shock had stopped her from speaking, she realised; he seemed to think she was someone else. Masterless...? A jolt of shock came with that thought and she stifled a small gasp. It had only been a few seconds, true, but she hadn't answered Rogan yet. Immediately she muted the line from her end, hoping that he'd trust her enough to leave it that way, and send a text only message back to him.

“Another Navi here. Thinks I'm alone.”

“Oh, you look right terrified. Can't say I blame you.” Somehow, he was now very clearly between her and the door, and he stopped to lean on the edge of the first table. “Nice thing about you unoperated little orphans? I know you aren't going to just zap out on me because you got scared. Nowhere to run to, really.” He cocked his head the other way and suddenly he was rolling a small knife over the fingers of one hand. “Too scared to even say anything? What an interesting pretty you are. You sneak all the way in here alone, to a place like this, and what... you think there wouldn't be a proper guard? What's in that little head of yours, girlie, I wonder, hmmm?” He began to clean his nails with the knife-tip, still watching her. Rogan's response, mercifully in text only, reached her as the guard-navi spoke, though it did nothing to make her feel any better.

“See that he keeps thinking that. Stall until I'm finished.” She backed away a little further, doing her best to look simply wary, rather than afraid. The other navi didn't seem to buy it.

“So, Sugar, let's hear that voice a bit before I snuff it out. What's your name?” He began to advance again and Lyntael had to fight to stop the startled squeak that rose in her throat. He believed she couldn't get out, and was saying up front he meant to destroy her? Or was it just a threat? Either way, her next few steps back were more stumbled than she wanted them to be.

“It-it's Lyntael. I-” how to go on? What could she say that wouldn't show her up as not being... whoever he thought she was. Well, the truth actually worked well enough here, “I didn't think anyone would be here...” The other navi chuckled aloud, and it sent a chill through her.

“Well, Lyntael, my name is Vigilance, and I'm the one who is going to ride you raw before I permanently delete you.” The way he spoke with such an unconcerned certainty was far more frightening than any more violent threat he might have made, and this time she did gasp loud enough for him to hear as he rolled his shoulders. He laughed again. “So, how would you like your life to end, little stray? Tell me how you want to go out.” Her heel kicked something and Lyntael realised she'd reached the far end of the room already, her back almost to the wall.

“Wh-what-” Clenching her teeth, she steadied her voice, “What do you mean?” Before she realised, Vigilance closed the handful of steps between them until his body was close to her, one hand to the wall beside her head. He was stooped over enough to meet her eye to eye. Her flinch seemed to amuse him.

“Well you see it's like this. I am going to do my job, little Lyntael, and you will be disposed of.” He stopped there, and she felt his breath stir the air between them. There was more coming, though, and she waited for it. “But I could take care of it any number of ways. I could just do it right now, swift, quick, simple.” He tilted his head. “Satisfactory, but a bit boring.” The knife was there again, just in front of her face. “It'd be a real waste though. You are a pretty little thing, after all. I'd prefer you looked a touch older, but I'm not that picky.” The implication sent an unwanted flush of crimson through her cheeks and Lyntael could feel her skin begin to crackle. Her hair snapped and one tiny spark jumped from the tip of her nose to the blade of his knife. The blade darted away and disappeared, but Vigilance gave no other sign of the shock he must have felt.

“Well there's a reaction. A sparky one, are we? That's ok; I do like a live one, and if you blush like that, I'm guessing you've got everything that I want going on. Lucky you.” He lifted his hand and Lynael darted away from him, driven almost by instinct. Vigilance just laughed and let her back away to the other side of the room. She tried to gather her thoughts, but the direction his threats were taking now was fuelling a whole other type of fear. She found herself shaking her head in a silent denial of his promise while she groped for a response.

“Just stay away from me. I'll fight, if I have to. I- I won't...” In the back of her mind, a horrifying thought surfaced, and she tried to shut it out. Would she? The way Rogan had spoken to her meant she just couldn't fail him. He needed her to stall; if it came to it, could she she actually let... that happen? The thought made her feel ill and she shoved it down. No. She'd rather die than let a situation like this be her first. She'd keep fighting until he killed her, if she had to. The nasty, horrific thought wouldn't stop though: that wouldn't work, it whispered, because she'd just EJO, and then he'd know Rogan was there, and so she'd still fail him. If she fought, and he beat her down, and Rogan wasn't ready, then she'd actually have to surrender before she was jacked out; there might be no choice. No. No, no, no! It wouldn't come to that, it couldn't. If she had to fight, then she would, and she'd win. There was just no other choice than that. Her distress showed clearly as her hair crackled and sparked, but Lyntael took up a fighting stance.

“I mean it. Stay back.” In turn, Vigilance stood straighter, though the only thing that showed he might be thinking of fighting was the fact that his hands now held a dagger each, rather than just one. He frowned and raised an eyebrow at her.

“You're shaking.” His knives flourished. “You can't fight me, and you know it. Play my game; You'll live longer.”

“What game?” Her voice shook as badly as her hands, but the longer she kept him talking the longer it would be before the fighting started. Vigilance smirked again, raising his hands slightly to either side.

“It's simple. Surrender to me, and your last few minutes become a last few hours, and in the time, we make them a fun few hours, and who knows, maybe in that time I'll lower my guard, or maybe you'll find a chance to make a break for it, or escape. You won't get what you came for, but that was never going to happen; outside that, though... well, the possibilities are endless.” It sounded like he was offering to let her go if she consented, but something about the way he said it; the look in his eyes; the cruel, hungry smirk... something told her it was just a dangled hope, offered simply to watch her try. He flourished his knives again. “But, if you fight first, then I'll beat you until you can't fight any more, and that won't improve your chances of getting away. Assuming I don't end up deleting you by accident in the process.” He shrugged, arms out in a feigned apology. “It's a hard thing to tell, with some navis.” The cavalier stance disappeared again a moment later.

“Either way, it'll be far more enjoyable for both of us if you just surrender to me now.” His features darkened to a far more serious look, the sneer fading into a more subtle curl of the lip. Lyntael took a breath; he clearly wouldn't be drawn on chatting any further, and she shook her head, doing her best to firm up her stance. Her hands still shook. Vigilance sighed and shrugged his shoulders again.

“Pity. Your loss, cutie. Guess it'll just be me who has all the fun then; you won't enjoy this at all.” He stepped forward again, but this time the pace carried a far more combat-ready grace to it as Vigilance raised his hands, one knife out and to the side and the other in front of him.
The moment seemed to hang as Lyntael saw the other navi begin to move. She knew a very serious fight was coming; more serious than she'd ever been in, given the possible consequences, and there was nothing she could do now to avoid it. It felt like hanging over the edge of some bottomless drop, a sinking, heavy feeling in her gut dragging downward and pulling her heart and breath with it. Then the moment was past and Vigilance was coming at her in a rush much faster than she could follow.

On instinct she stepped backward, trying to move away without taking her eyes off him, and brushed against the counter than ran the length of the wall. The static roiling on her skin and crackling in her hair was beginning to leap free in arcs and jolts, filling the air around her with energy, but the other navi didn't seem fazed, dashing straight through it until she felt him press right up against her a moment later. Felt, rather than saw, because she had winced in the last moment, a short cry escaping her as she raised her hands and turned her head aside. A pulse of energy from her core accompanied the small gasp and she felt it arc out into a humming shell of energy around her, drawing the excess electricity on her skin and hair with it and taking boosts as it passed her strike points, until it stabilised.

Vigilance didn't seem to care much about that either as his hands darted out. Hands? Where had the knives gone? The thought was dashed form her mind as his hands snaked and grappled, slipping under one arm to grab near her shoulder while the other took hold of her other wrist and curled around, beginning to bend it back at the elbow and push behind her. Up close like this, he towered over her, though it also became clear how slender he was in reality. Instinct took over a moment later and she struggled to slip free, pulling her arm loose only to have him immediately apply a different hold. As she focused on getting free of the creep, writhing away from him, Vigilance only spoke, crooning almost in a deeply self-assured voice.

“You'll have to do better than that, girl. Was it supposed to hurt? Your skin feels all tingly, you know. Is it like that on the inside too, hmm? Was this your plan, really? Sneak in and hope no-one was around? It's a good thing you're pretty enough to give a guy a solid, because you sure aren't clever, little girl.” She tried to block out the obscene murmurs, wriggling and fighting off his hands, then, in a last effort, letting her legs buckle in the hopes of getting below his grasp, at least long enough to scramble away a few more steps.

Summary

L1) Dodge (backward)
Passive: A Manifest Spirit: (10Elec, nova2) Overcharge -1
L2) My Heart Falters: (40Elec Barrier, Buster Charge, Off-Target1) Overcharge -1
Situational Stress: Overcharge +1

-=Turn Splice After 2 (Two Actions Remain)=-

Vigilance:

V1) Dodge (inwards)
V2) Personal Matter (Hold, 10 Drain, Stun x3, Self-Slow1, Off-target1)
V3) Buster Charge
A wild Vigilance appeared!

Lyntael used A Manifest Spirit! (10 damage to Vigilance...'s casing)
Vigilance used Personal Matter!
Vigilance's attack missed!
Lyntael used My Heart Falters!
Lyntael became cloaked in electricity!
Vigilance began storing energy!

--- THE HUNTED ---
Lyntael: 150 HP (40 HP Elec element barrier) (1 Buster Charge) (2 actions remaining this turn)

--- THE HUNTER ---
Vigilance: 660 HP (20 HP casing) (3 actions remaining this turn)

TIME PASSED: 0.5/8 turns
As she stumbled away, Vigilance was already following her, though he didn't seem too concerned about her slipping away. His soft laugh rang in her ears. It felt like the worst sort of cat and mouse. The way he moved, and spoke, like he wasn't really interested in attacking her at all, so much as getting his— His hand gripped her shoulder again as she scrambled upright, and this time it held tight. She could feel his body close behind her and tried to dash forward, but his grip didn't budge. Instead, she felt the sensation of a single finger running slowly down from the nape of her neck, so delicate it was almost caressing. It sent a sickening shiver through her and made her insides lurch.

“I normally like to wear them down slowly, little girl. Take them apart, piece by piece. Unwrap the present one slice at a time.” His voice was, like the touch, a whisper, and she squeezed her eyes shut trying not to listen to it. “I can see someone's already started unwrapping you, though. Go on, refresh your outfit for me, darling. Let's start from a clean slate, hmm?” Ughh... the clasp on her vest, the top one that always seemed to tear open with alarming ease. Was he actually going to try to strip her instead of fighting seriously? Every moment just intensified how much of a sick monster he was. Lyntael struggled again, trying to tear herself away, and the finger pressed more firmly against the base of her neck. Just that, nothing more, but she stilled again, her teeth clenched. As long as he was teasing her like this, it was time she was buying for Rogan. Let the bastard talk.

“I— I can't.” She mumbled it, and the tremor in her voice wasn't as much of an act as she wished it was. He laughed aloud and his hand let her go. Lyntael moved away, dashing a few paces up the length of the room and turning to face him before she'd even thought about the action. Vigilance was holding his knives again, with a grin that showed all of his teeth.

“Thought so. They really did a number on you, sugar, didn't they. What else, I wonder?” He began advancing again, and Lyntael could feel the ways his eyes roved over her whole body. Her fists clenched as she backed off, and she could feel the charge under her skin. For once she welcomed the sensation, encouraging it as she stared back at the other navi.

“Stay back. I mean it, don't touch me again!” She tried to make her voice harder, but the thud of her heart left it shaky anyway. She the current under her skin built, Lyntael kept it in check just short of bursting point. Just a tingle, was it? Across from her, the other navi raised one eyebrow, then lifted a dagger, gesturing her to come closer.

“You're such a delicate-looking flower, Little Lyntael... it would be a shame to pluck the petals without giving you time to shine. Come on, at least you can put up some fight, can't you? Make it a bit interesting for me?” The knives flashed as he spun them over his hands in several quick loops. “We'll get to the plucking soon enough, don't you worry.” She knew what he said, but 'plucking' wasn't the word she heard in her mind, and, from the dark, eager look in his eyes, Vigilance knew it too. The uncomfortable, sick feeling in her gut grew each time he referenced his intentions.

Summary

L3) Buster Charge
L4) My Pain is Real: (Counter(Melee Damage): 40Elec, Nova2, Self-Slow1) Overcharge +1 (Another +1 on expend)

V4) Whisper: Time Delay (2 turns): (Freeze, Slow, Stun)
V5) Hands Off: Counter(Incoming Attack): Multi-Stage: First (Feint), Then (Take Aim), Then (50, Knock-Back x3)
V6) Buster Charge
Passive: Quicksilver (Auto-Haste), treated as always in effect unless otherwise mentioned. Won't be listed in subsequent turns, but is assumed as on.

Cooldowns and Overcharge

Lyntael:

My Pain is Real: 2 Turns
My Heart Falters: 1 Turn

Self Inflicted: Self Slow (1 Turn), Off-Target (1 Turn)

Overcharge at end of turn: 2/5

Vigilance:

Whisper: 3 Turns
Personal Matter: 2 turns
Hands Off: 3 turns

Self Inflicted: Self Slow (1 Turn), Off-Target (1 Turn)
Vigilance used Whisper!
Lyn will be scared stiff in 2 turns!
Lyn continued to charge energy!
Vigilance used Hands Off!
Vigilance is waiting for an attack!
Lyn used My Pain is Real!
Lyn is waiting for an attack!
Vigilance continued to charge energy!

--- THE HUNTED ---
Lyntael: 150 HP (40 HP Elec element barrier) (Counter up) (2 Buster Charge) (2 actions remaining this turn) (Whisper takes effect in 2 turns)

--- THE HUNTER ---
Vigilance: 660 HP (20 HP casing) (Counter up) (3 actions remaining this turn)

TIME PASSED: 1/8 turns

(So many parentheses...)
(And since two more won't matter, geez, it's easy to mod a battle when neither side's flinging chips at each other...and willing to mostly sit back and use defense/counter sigs that aren't triggered...and I can be too lazy to write detailed descriptions...)
Lyntael pushed away the sick, heavy fear in her gut, clenching her teeth tight. Without realising, her lip had drawn back enough to show them bared, presenting her perfectly straight, white, small, even and utterly unintimidating snarl to the man. They were just words. That's all. She gathered her wits, repeating the thought to herself as she did. He said horrible things and made lewd, unthinkable threats, but that's all they were; words and threats. He was fast, and strong, yes, but she could still fight if she had to. If ever she had to then now was one of those times.

As she firmed up her stance Vigilance grinned, seeming to sense that she was going to put some fight into it after all. When his knives stopped spinning he was holding one normally, and the other in a back-handed grip instead. Then he made a small kissing motion with his lips, mocking her.

“Such a cute little smile. It's a good thing we're navis, in'nit, or else I'd have to worry about knocking out a tooth, or wrecking that pretty face of yours...”

“Shut up!” Something about that last taunt pushed her over the edge and she sprang forward towards to creep, driven into lashing out before the words were even out of her mouth. Just a tingle, was it? She'd show him. The current was almost at bursting point within her, coursing beneath her skin and glowing at her wrists and ankles now as well. She could feel the strain of it, knew that the release would only make it build faster and burn more, but for once she was glad, losing herself for a moment in the sensation.

Even so, her movement was driven by a reckless impulse, and even though her motion held its usual grace, it wasn't particularly hard to see coming. As she darted in, her right arm rose in a brief guard while she drove over-arm at the bastard with her left fist, aiming for his stupid, smirking face. The rush of release filled her as the energy responded, drawing in from her strikers, unifying and bursting out from her fist in a crackling explosion of sparks that blinded her vision.

The rush of energy blocked out most other sensation, and she couldn't tell whether she'd even connected or not, but the next feeling to punch through her awareness was an impact in her gut that drove the wind from her and made her eyes snap wide. The reserve of charge latent in her body was expelled in an uncontrolled cascade of electricity around her, but Lyntael wasn't aware of it. The impact flung her backwards with a force that made her small frame rag-doll as she was thrown roughly against one of the tables in the middle of the lab. Pain was the only thing registering as the edge dug into the small of her back and momentum rolled her up over its surface. The memory of a cry was ringing in her ears; the sound of her own voice.

Vigilance brought his foot down again with a glance for where his quarry had been sprawled across the table behind. She had certainly tried hard, that time, he was sure of it. The amount of electricity she was putting off was impressive, for such a tiny thing, he supposed. Still, it hadn't really been much effort to read where the girl was flinging herself and act appropriately; a quick duck to the side of her punch had left him perfect space to turn all the way around and slam the silly thing with a follow-through roundhouse. The sparks crackled and tingled, and on bare skin they might even have hurt, maybe, but he'd pay her back for that affront in good time. For now though, he took a moment to watch her regain her senses.

Most navis probably would have shaken off a quick punishment kick like that, but she had cried out, and now looked more than a little dazed. He tilted his head as he watched her hands move to cradle herself, probably in pain. He was sure he'd felt a barrier fail but she certainly seemed to be hurting all the same. He let his eyes drift a bit further; her skirt was hiked at a bad angle under her and his lip twitched up. She really wasn't wearing very much at all... this was going to be a short game. His eyebrow quirked up briefly at the sound of a low moan, followed by the girl coughing once or twice. Little things, all of which were making a picture of detail that you'd never find on any normal navi; she was a custom design if ever he'd seen one, and not cheap by a long shot. It really would be a shame if he'd broken her already.

As the drain on her body subsided and her vision cleared, Lyntael managed a pained groan, instinctively reaching to hug herself as the recoil of her barrier collapsing lanced through her body. He'd hit her, somehow, and so quickly she hadn't even been finished with her own attempt at attacking. There was an aching burn in her muscles; that familiar feeling of being drained only for her body to begin rebuilding its charge more forcefully than before. How far could she push before it consumed her? Did it matter this time? It was a current suffusing her, and she couldn't stop it, only expend it, or try to diffuse it.

Last time she'd really pushed hard, she hadn't even been able to control herself by the end. If Martia hadn't been there to save her, well, she certainly hadn't been able to save herself... She began to struggle towards rising; at least to drag herself off the table to her feet, but before she could even get that far her view of the ceiling was obscured by the horrible man's grin. His knuckles bore into her shoulders as he loomed over her, pinning her down with fists that still held his knives, if less gracefully than before.

“Laze around like that and I'm going to think you're inviting me, sweet-pea. That what you want, now, is it?” His voice was half snarl, half laugh, but as he spoke, Lyntael became aware of how she was held: pinned to the tabletop by her shoulders, her hips just barely on the edge with her legs sprawled free, and Vigilance, standing there, holding her down with one of her thighs to either side of him. There was no thought, then; only raw panic.

“Get away from me! Don't touch me, don't touch me! Get off!!” The string of screamed denials continued as she thrashed and flailed against his hold, but his predatory grin only widened. He leaned in, bearing down on her and changed his grip until he was pinning one arm with his elbow and pressing down hard on her throat with the same forearm. The fingers took over the grip of her other shoulders with a smoothness that said he'd done as much many times before, and suddenly he had a hand free. She wriggled and thrashed, but the weight on her neck cut off her shouting. She couldn't reach anywhere useful on him with either hand and the dancing of electricity over her skin didn't seem to be bothering him either.

She could feel panicked, desperate tears beginning to escape her eyes but she refused to stop fighting him, however futile it was beginning to seem. The current building in her had already cycled to a point that she could feel it burning to escape again, but for once in her life that pain took a back seat. Vigilance dragged the flat of his blade down her cheek and she saw his knuckles tighten as sparks cracked at the blade. It should have given her hope, but even if he was feeling it, and it was hurting, that slight tightening was all the sign the creep gave.

“This is how it will end, little Lyntael. This is how you,” he lingered on the word. “End. Not yet, but soon. After we've had all of our fun, this will be how it happens.” His voice was a hiss, close by her ear but even as she tried to shout, to curse him out, to do something, the pressure on her throat increased until it was all she could do to draw breath. The knife blade passed down to drag its point delicately over her collar-bone, tracing a small circle around her emblem. “It won't take much, once you're worn down a little more.... Or maybe...” The knife moved, casually flicking to slice through the two remaining straps on her vest and push the left hand side of it away. Lyntael closed her eyes tight, doing her best to shut out the sickening grin and hungry eyes as he exposed her. The knife blade traced over the most sensitive portions of what he had revealed before dipping lower, counting her ribs, until the point stopped above where she could feel the furious hammer of her heart. “Maybe...” he continued, “I ought to put the knife here. You are a beautifully detailed specimen, after all. Maybe here might just be more effective, on you.” The blade withdrew and Lyntael cracked her eyes open just enough to try and see what he was doing. She almost wished she hadn't, though.

He'd dawn back a little; still bent over her, but now he was waving the point of his knife back and forth above the hem of her skirt, as though trying to decide something. She started struggling again and the man glanced upward to meet her eyes.

“I'm just showing you how it all ends now, darling, so that you'll know it when it happens. You'll know what's going to happen, and you'll know you can't do anything to stop me.” He smiled wider. “And so, once you're all used up and broken, you'll just get to watch, and wait, helpless, when the time comes. But first...” His eyes dropped again and the knife resumed its wavering.

Amidst his taunting, Lyntael felt the pressure on her neck lift a little on one side and struggled harder to get a grip on the arm holding her down. Vigilance frowned, looking up to straighten his pin on her, but as he did she lifted her legs, curling up as tight as she could until she managed to get purchase on his chest with her toes. She saw a flash of anger on his face as he realised his mistake, but it was already too late. Lyntael kicked outward as hard as she could, letting loose the furious charge that was raging under her skin. She had meant to kick the monster away, but Vigilance himself didn't move. Instead, she felt her body slide, tearing free of his pinning hand as the bright flare of her kick half-blinded them both, until she tumbled off the far side of the table to land in a heap on the floor beyond.

Her body screamed at her from the release of another discharge so soon after the last, but fear was overriding the sensation for now and she began to struggle to her feet. Already the energy resurged and her limbs shook from the overbearing charge cycle. It was too much and she knew it, but she pressed on, dragging herself with the help of the table edge. Her eyes were burning, too, though maybe that was the tears. Lyntael herself couldn't see the small cascade of energy that was whiting out her eyes with an electrical glow, now that she was reaching the limits of her body.

Either the charge would keep her attacker from his more disgusting promises, but burn her to a cinder if she kept pushing, or else she could try to cool it off again and risk... she felt ill even contemplating the alternative. The only thing that kept her from jacking out right away was the one thing that remained important in her mind, even over her fear; no matter what, she couldn't let Rogan down again. Across the table from her, Vigilance shook his head, blinking as his vision cleared. She heard him curse under his breath and pushed herself to move further away from him.

“Damnit, get back here, you little bitch!” Gone were the smooth words, replaced by a voice that was all angry snarl now. As she glanced his way she saw his hand extend towards her, then a flash as a cluster of white energy darts burst from his wrist, each trailing a thin, glowing wire. She didn't feel much able to walk, let alone dodge, and there was no time regardless. In the last instant, all she she could do was hope that, whatever he was hurling at her, he was still as dazed as she felt.


Summary

Lyntael:
L1) Full-charge Strike ((3+1)x20=80Elec, B(From A; Off-Target), at Vigilance) (Overcharge +1)
L*) Activation of My Pain is Real (Melee Damage; Action V*): (40Elec, Nova2) (Overcharge +1)
L2) Involuntary (though for once welcomed) Action: Buster Charge
L3) Continued Buster Charge, while being Grappled and Tormented.
Passive: A Manifest Spirit (10Elec, Nova2) (Overcharge -1)
L4) Full-charge Strike (80Elec, B, at Vigilance) (Overcharge +1)

Vigilance:
Afterburner: V0) Take Aim
V1) Charge Time for Now you See Me
V2) Setting Now You See Me: Trap (Any Incoming Shot or other Ranged type attack): On Set: (Charge Burner 2, Charge time 1) On Trigger: Multi-stage: First (Feint), Then (Teleport), Then (Hold, Freeze), Then (10, Null x 3 Hits), Then (Recovery Time 1)
V*) Activation of Hands Off (Any Incoming Attack; Action L1): Multi: (Feint), Then (Take Aim), Then (50, Knockbackx3)
V3) Buster Charge
V4) Contextual action: Grappling Lyntael
V5) Buster Charge while doing creepy things.
V6) Full-Charge Buster Shot ((1+1)x20=40, Pull, B (From A; Off-Target))

Cooldowns and Overcharge

Lyntael:
My Pain is Real: 1 Turn
My Heart Falters: Cooling Down

Overcharge: Begin: 2/5, +1 Full-Charge Strike, +1 Activation of Counter, -1 Manifest Spirit, +1 Full Charge Strike, End: 4/5

Self-Inflicted Nerfs: Self-Slow (Ending), Off-Target (Ending)

Vigilance:
Whisper: 2 Turns
Personal Matter: 1 turns
Hands Off: 2 Turns
Now You See Me: 2 Turns

Self-Inflicted Nerfs: Self-Slow (Ending), Off-Target (Ending)

Miscellany

Regarding Actions V* and L*: Assuming two V Actions to L's one initially, time progression should thus be: V1, V2, L1, V*, L*, I believe, so the chronology is sound. If that's incorrect, let me know.

Further regarding Take Aim actions and action V*: Multiple instances of Take Aim do not stack, but Take Aim is consumed here, by the counter, I think? This leaves no aim boosts after this point for anything else, despite the separate action that Vigilance took at the start, and the second Take Aim supplied by the counter itself. If this is incorrect, and there remains a Take Aim action after this counter, then would it effect a contextual action, such as grappling: Action V4?

It may seem as though I've taken a liberty or two here regarding action and effect, but for the most part, it's only in the case of RP contextual things that don't effect hard mechanics, or else in the case of certainties, such as assuming a Counter trigger when it will trigger, regardless of whether the attack triggering it succeeds or not (Hands Off). The one exception to this is the case of Lyntael taking the aforementioned counter hit, which I reason is essentially the same as 'throwing' the avoidance roll: since it's willfully failing for the sake of RP, to the detriment of my own character, I felt it was alright; I and others have done so before, under the heading of saying that your personal character is not in a position/state to be avoiding anything, and thus automatically 'accepting' a hit against them. Elsewise, I've written so that the actual actions themselves could be taken as either failing or succeeding, without breaking the flow.

Also it's my party and I'll cry if I want to.
Vigliance takes aim, and prepares his next counter...and just as he does, Lyn strikes! Despite his best efforts, she manages to get a shot in! And then, for the purposes of drama, she gets knocked back quite a ways, and loses the barrier. Then there's buster charging, grabbing, dubious things the likes of which that RERN has never seen before (except for that time way back, when someone was raped by a Spikey)...then, attacks! A Manifest Spirit makes sure that Vigilance won't get through this unscathed! Then, charge shots are exchanged. Presumably, the same could not be said for business cards.

Also, Vigilance gets a new casing.


--- THE HUNTED ---
Lyntael: 110 HP (My Pain is Real up)

--- THE HUNTER ---
Vigilance: 570 HP (20 HP casing) (Now You See Me up)

TIME PASSED: 2/8 turns

OOC Note: My Pain is Real did NOT trigger on Vigilance's counter, as much like traps, counters cannot be triggered by other counters.
((I was mistaken about some mechanical aspects, but have revised. The RP section has been re-written to reflect the necessary changes in turn summary.))


Closing her eyes and shrinking away didn't protect Lyntael from the swarm of white darts racing towards her and she heard herself shout as several of them grazed her skin, or stuck fast. There was a moment where the razor lines of light tensed, then her shout became a startled shriek as they pulled back again with enough force to drag her back towards Vigilance in a tumbled heap, bereft of her already unstable balance.

“Stay down, brat. You've caused enough trouble.” The voice still sounded angry, but he'd clearly composed himself somewhat after firing the shot. Her vision swam and she blinked, trying to get her bearings. The current burning under her skin was making it hard to think, and the ache in her muscles from containing it wasn't helping. The sting in her eyes made her squint as she reached for a table edge. The sound of footsteps barely registered to her.

“It's going to be beautiful when you break. I'm looking forward to your tears.” Cold and dark again, the voice came from above her, but Lyntael was mostly focused on getting up again. Her limbs responded slowly and it felt harder to move than it should have, even with everything else. A hand grabbed the back of her vest and hauled her upright. She felt the sliced garment trying to pull free and tightened her arms in unconsciously, trying to keep it on. As he lifted her, Lyntael managed to pull her feet underneath herself properly, but when she tried to turn to face the man, found he was holding her just that little bit too high. Her toes touched the ground, but only barely. A moment later the pull on her vest released and she dropped, catching herself and putting one hand on the table to balance, but it only lasted a moment before she felt his arm wrap firmly about her chest and shoulder gripping tight and pining both of her arms as he hugged her back to his chest.

She tried to struggle, but it felt like she could barely move her arms and legs at all, let along break free of his hold again. He had to be getting shocked, touching her like this; she could feel his hand gripping her arm tightly, fingers pressing in hard enough to bruise. If he was, though, he was shrugging it off again. She could feel his lips by her ear, brazenly ignoring the snap and crackle of electricity arcing in her hair.

“Maybe that's you crying already, hmm? Is that what the light show is with your eyes, dear? It's pretty, but somehow I doubt it. You're too... human for that, aren't you?” He was whispering at her, taunting again, just like before, and his voice seemed to sap what strength she had to struggle. Even after it felt like she'd landed a good hit or two, here he was, still just playing with her. She probably hadn't really hurt the bastard at all, just made his damn 'game' more interesting. An ache in her jaw made her realise her teeth were clenched tight.

“Look at this... you're even bleeding. I wonder if I...” A jolt of pain shot through her upper arm as Vigilance shifted and squeezed his fingers, forcing open and pressing hard on one of the small cuts his flurry of knives had made in her skin. The light bleeding intensified until a trickle ran over his lower fingers and Lyntael couldn't hold back the dull moan that followed, however much she tried. Small sparks cracked and danced over the cut, but Vigilance ignored them. Instead, he was already whispering in her ear again. “That's beautiful that is. How in the world did you end up here, cutie? Is someone giving me a Christmas present? Because it isn't my birthday, you know.” As he held her pinned close to his body, she felt him shove his hips against her skirt, making absolutely sure she felt... that, even through his clothes. She tried to lash her foot up at the disgusting display, willed it with all her might, but her limbs just weren't responding. Vigilance whispered again, almost hissing his words this time. “I do love the way you whimper... you're going to feel amazing, I just know it.”

“S-shut up...” Why did her voice slur like that? She tried harder, shaking her head from side to side as she tried to fend off his foul taunts. “Stop it... Just shut up.” Better. She heard him chuckle quietly by her ear. “Get off me. Get your filthy, gross, hands off me!” This time she manage to work some volume into her voice and coax at least something resembling a struggle out of her body. Her fists clenched as she writhed, trying to find a way to slip free. It still felt like every action was coated in treacle, but it was better than doing nothing. If he was going to lay hands on her like this, at least she could show him how unpleasant it could be to touch her. Even if encouraging the surge might burn her out, it was better than being aware for what he promised, so she focused. The energy under her skin, coursing through her veins, was already straining to burst but she pushed further, willing the charge up, building it as fiercely as she could bear. The sting in her eyes was bad enough that she could barely keep them open. Vigilance laughed aloud.

“Not going to happen, angel-cakes!” Her focus faltered for a moment, surprised, as the arm released her and instead a hefty shove in the middle of her back propelled the girl forward. She only went about a step before her hips connected painfully with the edge of the nearest table and she buckled forward over it, catching her balance. One hand gripped tight in her hair and she heard Vigilance growl at the sting. As he shoved her face to the table-top, Lyntael tried to push back, struggling to get purchase with her hands. “Still, if it's Christmas, I'd best keep unwrapping, hadn't I, sweet?”

Her mind barely had time to notice the way he pressed against her, the suggestive position made worse by the feeling of his threat shoved hard to the back of her skirt, before a sudden, scoring pain lashed down across her back, followed by a second that made her shriek. The painful shock lurched her body and she struggled to turn away from the source of the pain before her recoil took over, but though she could feel the full force of the electrical energy inside scouring at her, it strained and raged under her skin, nothing came. She welcomed the release, this time, even if it burned her, reached for it, but all she felt was the queasy horror of what this monster was promising, and the memory of his smirking face, brushing off the best she could do, like it was nothing.

Without any release, the current coursed through her body feeling like it was eating the flesh from her bones, but no matter how she tried, she couldn't tap it. She had managed to roll over, at least, or perhaps he had let her, but as she did the sliced remnants of her vest began to fall. On instinct she reached to hold the remains on with one hand, but it was already too late as the tatters slipped away and disintegrated into data. She raised her head in time to see the creep drawing back with one fist, swiping it around at her head in a backhand that came towards her knuckles first. Her hand jumped up, palm outward as she strained in vain to raise her barrier before the blow came, but again, nothing. There was time for a momentary flash of despair to thread through her heart before her vision went white.

Vigilance let his momentum carry from the backhand, pivoting and raising his other arm high before dropping it hard, elbow-first, towards the girl's middle. The way she screamed sent a tingle down his spine. Still... He took a moment to back off again, leaving her sprawled and coughing on the table-top. No sense being careless, after all; she'd already shown off far more kick than he'd expected, and seemed to be getting more sparky by the minute. Caution before pride.

“The sooner you give up, the less I'm going to have to damage that pretty face of yours, doll.” He tilted his head, watching her struggle to recover. It really didn't look like she was going to give up, short of being beaten within an inch of her life. He'd have to be very careful; this was one present he really didn't want to destroy before he got to play with it more. As she tumbled off the desk and climbed to her feet, Vigilance took the time to appreciate the girl, now sans top. Shame that a navi made with such care was so... underwhelming in the upper story; young was fine, but those barely filled his palms, not even a handful his fingers could get in on.

“I'd normally tell you how much better you look out of that restricting top, girl, but I don't think your top was restricting anything at all. Don't worry though, that just means your downstairs is going to be even more pleasing.” He spun his knives, meeting her eyes. The white cascade of sparks falling from them had increased, and he couldn't even see the colour of her eyes any more, covered over by electric static like they were. Whatever was going on there had him feeling vaguely cautious. “Why don't you hug that bench again and we'll find out.” He grinned and flourished, keeping the blades low at his waist. “You're going to keep screaming either way, I'm sure, but the blades will be more painful. It's your decision, darling.”


Summary

Lyntael:

L1) Buster Charge
L2) Half-Charge Buster Strike ((3+1)x10=40Elec, A, at Vigilance) (Overcharge: +1)
L*) A Manifest Spirit (10elec, Nova2) (Overcharge -1)
L3) Buster Charge
L4) My Heart Falters: (40Elec Barrier, Buster Charge, Off-Target) (Overcharge: -1)
L*) Situational; Nullify prevents Counter Discharge, increasing tension. (Overcharge +1)



Vigilance:
V1) Buster Charge
V2) Grapple Action (against Lyntael)
V3) Take Aim
V4) All The Angles: Multi-Stage: First (10, Nullify), Then (10, Slashing), Then (20, Impact), Then (20, Break)
V5) Buster Charge
V6) *Action Lost to Afterburner*

Cooldowns and Overcharge

Lyntael:

My Pain is Real: Cooling Down
My Heart Falters: 1 turn

Overcharge: Begin 3/5, Buster (+1), A Manifest Spirit (-1), My Heart Falters (-1), Situational (+1) End 3/5

Vigilance:

Whisper: 1 Turn
Personal Matter: Cooling Down
Hands Off: 1 Turn
Now You See Me: 1 Turn
All The Angles: 3 Turns