Virus Busting II: Electric Boogaloo

Phantom flashes of white danced in ScorchMan's head. Blind and unable to see the bolts themselves, their crackling heat was close enough, reaching with forked fingers even as it blackened the lava and hissed through spaces he'd occupied instants ago, that his mind simply filled in the blanks. "Where are they?" he called, springing to his feet.

It was the glimpse he got of ScorchMan's face that shut Griffin up. Helmet scorched, teeth bared somewhere between a cringe and a snarl - the firefighter's training instantly recognized a person in duress. The veneer of cheering on a sports game was ripped away wholesale; he visibly snapped himself into Work Mode and began fiddling with the PET's controls, rifling through the remaining chips and squinting through the screen as he made it pivot around ScorchMan. He selected a couple and cleared his throat. "They're both in front of you, we should be able to line them up. Aim forward and strafe, stay on your feet and wait for my signal. Chips are coming in, now go!"

ScorchMan was off before his Operator finished speaking. The RageClaw gauntlet vanished as quickly as it had appeared, reforming into the Shotgun's long twin barrel. Bracing one arm against the other, he held the mounted gun at chest-height, pointing it out as straight as he could and bracing himself for the burning phantom light. His legs carried him sideways in mincing half-lunges, for firing a gun blind was fundamentally awkward. If Griffin's signal didn't come quick enough, he wouldn't know where to aim until the viruses gave their positions away by attacking. "Do I have the shot?" A gout of sooty red flames betrayed his agitation, flaring from his shoulder pads. His voice remained level.

"Almost! Little more left and let em have it, one more right after this!" Griffin had as much time as it took ScorchMan to take one more step and plant his feet to remember the volume. He lunged for the dial just as ScorchMan raised the Shotgun; even muted, Griffin felt the report watching his feet, stomped up to the ankles in lava, jolt back hard enough to leave rents in the molten earth a few inches in front of each boot. He chucked the second chip in and spun the volume back up, "HeatShot's up, keep it going!"

The Shotgun deconstructed itself a split-second after firing, metal shifting and clicking back into the Scorch Buster's comforting weight. ScorchMan held the gauntlet out in expectation of a new form, but none was forthcoming. Rather than forming a weapon, the HeatShot was compatible enough with his default code to be loaded directly into his internal furnace. Foreign yellowy fire licked at his chest vent; he could feel it swirling in his torso, flowing down his right arm and pooling in his buster. He hadn't moved a muscle since firing the Shotgun. Trusting in Griffin's aim, he held his arm steady, braced himself in the lava a second time and let the fireball fly. There wasn't much hope of going anywhere quick with his legs half-stuck in the ground - if anything was left to light him up, he was just going to have to take it.

-Turn Summary-
1. Feint - put Twisty between ScorchMan & Scarecrow
2. ShotgunDamage: 50 + Spread 1
Accuracy: A
Description: A gun whose shot penetrates an enemy to hit another one directly behind it.
Duration: Once
Element: Null
Trader Rank: E
: Twisty [50 Null {A}, Spread1 targeting Scarecrow]
3. HeatShotDamage: 40 + Spread 1
Accuracy: A
Description: Shoots a fireball whose explosion penetrates an enemy to hit another one directly behind it.
Duration: Once
Element: Fire
Trader Rank: D
: Twisty [45 Fire {A}, Spread1 targeting Scarecrow]
Low on options and stamina, ScorchMan struggled through his own pain and difficulties to take down the remaining viruses, following instructions from Griffin as he trusted his operator to guide him. His strafing movements brought the two remaining viruses into alignment, but as the navi took his first shot, the hope that the scarecrow might hesitate to fire with another virus in the way proved vain – the dressed-up lightning rod swivelled with him, heedless of the twisty, and before ScorchMan fired, a bolt of lighting cracked down towards the scarecrow and shot outward. The lightning bolt struck through the disregarded twisty, and ScorchMan wasn't able to get himself out of the way of the electrifying strike, suffering another body-locking jolt.

His own shot, fired a moment after, was true as well, and the twisty was caught in the crossfire of attacks. It struggled to direct its remote bit as this happened, and it struck a panel far from ScorchMan's current position, before the navi finished up with a second shot. He managed to keep his braced aim steady and the fire bolt destroyed the twisty virus and scattered fall-off all over the scarecrow as well, but the immobile virus was still functioning. Most of its scarecrow form had been burned and shredded, leaving it a denuded metal strut with some machinery underneath, but it crackled and hummed as it clung to operation.

-=Shocking Farm-Hands=-
ScarecrowScarecrow (Scarecrow)

Scarecrow attack every action, if able. Every time they attack, they recover HP equal to their attack power regardless of whether or not they hit anything. This virus type also has the rare ability to absorb Elec element damage as healing for the same amount. They are immune to any status effects associated with Elec element damage/attacks. Scarecrows are anchored to the ground, and thus enjoy the effects of SuperArmor. Scarecrow are never encountered underground or indoors.

Area: Electown, Dentech, NAXA

HP: 100
Attack Damage/Effect: 20 Elec + Piercing + Recover20
Attack Accuracy: A
Attack Description: Conducts thunder, healing itself.
Element: Elec
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): DollThunder1, Zenny
Special: Immobile.
Special: SuperArmor: Immunity to Knockback, Microburst, Pull, Gravity, and similar effects.
Special: Lightning Rod: This virus absorbs Elec attacks as Healing.
A: DELETED
ScarecrowScarecrow (Scarecrow)

Scarecrow attack every action, if able. Every time they attack, they recover HP equal to their attack power regardless of whether or not they hit anything. This virus type also has the rare ability to absorb Elec element damage as healing for the same amount. They are immune to any status effects associated with Elec element damage/attacks. Scarecrows are anchored to the ground, and thus enjoy the effects of SuperArmor. Scarecrow are never encountered underground or indoors.

Area: Electown, Dentech, NAXA

HP: 100
Attack Damage/Effect: 20 Elec + Piercing + Recover20
Attack Accuracy: A
Attack Description: Conducts thunder, healing itself.
Element: Elec
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): DollThunder1, Zenny
Special: Immobile.
Special: SuperArmor: Immunity to Knockback, Microburst, Pull, Gravity, and similar effects.
Special: Lightning Rod: This virus absorbs Elec attacks as Healing.
B: DELETED
ScarecrowScarecrow (Scarecrow)

Scarecrow attack every action, if able. Every time they attack, they recover HP equal to their attack power regardless of whether or not they hit anything. This virus type also has the rare ability to absorb Elec element damage as healing for the same amount. They are immune to any status effects associated with Elec element damage/attacks. Scarecrows are anchored to the ground, and thus enjoy the effects of SuperArmor. Scarecrow are never encountered underground or indoors.

Area: Electown, Dentech, NAXA

HP: 100
Attack Damage/Effect: 20 Elec + Piercing + Recover20
Attack Accuracy: A
Attack Description: Conducts thunder, healing itself.
Element: Elec
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): DollThunder1, Zenny
Special: Immobile.
Special: SuperArmor: Immunity to Knockback, Microburst, Pull, Gravity, and similar effects.
Special: Lightning Rod: This virus absorbs Elec attacks as Healing.
C: 5Hp [Metal][mid right field]

TwistyTwisty (Twisty)

Area: SciLab, Electown

HP: 80
Attack: 20 Elec + Panel Break + Drop Attack
Attack Accuracy: C
Attack Description: Summons a RemoteBit to rain down lightning and break panels.
Element: Elec
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): RemoteBit1, Zenny
Special: Immobile. RemoteBit is invulnerable to all attacks and effects. Can use Blinder once.
A: DELETED
TwistyTwisty (Twisty)

Area: SciLab, Electown

HP: 80
Attack: 20 Elec + Panel Break + Drop Attack
Attack Accuracy: C
Attack Description: Summons a RemoteBit to rain down lightning and break panels.
Element: Elec
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): RemoteBit1, Zenny
Special: Immobile. RemoteBit is invulnerable to all attacks and effects. Can use Blinder once.
B: DELETED

MagTectMagTect (MagTect)

MagTect move and dodge at slightly above average speed. In spite of the fact that they have wings, and hover above the ground, they are still subject to the effects of the terrain below. Regardless, they are very dangerous thanks to their ability to exert control over enemy movements with pincer attacks and magnetic pull effects. They know how to use these effects, too. MagTects avoid liquid terrain types if at all possible, as they do not function well at all if forcibly submerged.

Area: SciLab, Electown, Netfrica, NAXA

HP: 90
Primary Attack Damage/Effect: 20 Elec + Stun 1 + Magnetic Pull
Primary Attack Accuracy: B
Primary Attack Description: Pulls opponents towards them and hits with a magnet. Stuns.
Secondary Attack Damage/Effect: 10 Elec + Seeking + Pincer Attack x 2 Missiles
Secondary Attack Accuracy: C
Secondary Attack Description: Shoots two MagnetMissiles at a target: one from each side. The missiles move as if to pass the target, then suddenly turn towards each other in a pincer attack with the target between them.
Element: Elec
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): MagBolt1, MagnetMissile1 (Rare), Zenny
Special: Pincer Attack: Attacks a single chosen target from two opposing directions at the same time.
: DELETED

-=Blazing Explorer=-
ScorchMan: 25 Hp [Lava, mid left field][RageClaw: 5/6]

-=Fine Fields=-
50% Lava [Pathway up the center, and the entire left field]
15% Broken, 5% Cracked [Some holes and cracks in the middle pathway]
20% Metal [The right side 'field']
10% Solar [Circular patch, in the fields, around TwistyB]

-=Objects=-
RemoteBitA: [Deactivated]
RemoteBitB: [Deactivated]
For one burning instant, the blind Navi's entire world lit up in sourceless fluorescent white. The light wasn't really there: he understood his own body's workings as intrinsically as any Navi, and knew this for a fact. The current was playing tricks on long-atrophied optics on its way through his virtual makeup - his eyes were as nonexistent as ever. For all that, even as he burned from the impact, the brief illusion of sight still managed to leave ScorchMan feeling a bit wistful.

He still made no move to dodge, just lifted one leg free of the sucking lava, and stomped it down even deeper. Heat rushed up his legs, stoked the guttered flame in his chest back up to blazing. Smoke and coal-red fire billowed from ScorchMan's chest, his arms, even his helmet. His face vanished along with the rest of him behind the roiling curtain - there was no need for a window, not when he'd seen the virus light itself up to cast its burning light. The human bonfire held out his arms to the Scarecrow, Scorch Busters dripping with embers, and pushed forward. Burning murkily low like cooling red earth, the streaming flames from each arm twisted in front of him into a coiled red rope, thinner than the dynamic shows he liked to put on but plenty hot enough to do the job.

For want of energy to throw himself through any more high-falutin maneuvers, ScorchMan just wormed his back foot another inch deeper, took a simulated, emphasized breath, and felt his furnace well up just enough for another fireball. The shot was messy, both the round itself and its execution. Arm up in an exhausted haymaker, the Scorch Blast was more a scattershot of dirty embers than a true flame burst. It would have to be enough. "Did I get him!" he shouted into empty space.

In his exhaustion, the Navi had forgotten the imperative uptick that would have made his statement a question. Griffin knew him well enough to catch on, but peering into the flames licking at his viewscreen itself..."It's hard to say," was all he had for the moment. "Hang tight, ScorchMan, just need the smoke to clear. If that wasn't enough I'll..." a long beat. A bit of lava sputters and catches fire, "...well, I'm pretty sure it was enough."

-Turn Summary-
1. Conflagration: Scarecrow C [40 Fire {A}, 20 HP Barrier; 2TCD]
2. Buster Charge
3. Half Charge Shot: Scarecrow C [20 Fire {A}]
The smoke that billowed out from all over ScorchMan's body did little to obscure the glowing embers that reflected off of the Scarecrow's heavily marred face. Despite this, its closed eyes looked calm, perhaps as blind as ScorchMan himself was, staring down the flames that burst out soon after that charred it to ashes. All that was left was the metal framework that was its "skeleton", still sparking with electrical discharge. Looks like it could be useful for some battlechip data...

-=Shocking Farm-Hands=-
ScarecrowScarecrow (Scarecrow)

Scarecrow attack every action, if able. Every time they attack, they recover HP equal to their attack power regardless of whether or not they hit anything. This virus type also has the rare ability to absorb Elec element damage as healing for the same amount. They are immune to any status effects associated with Elec element damage/attacks. Scarecrows are anchored to the ground, and thus enjoy the effects of SuperArmor. Scarecrow are never encountered underground or indoors.

Area: Electown, Dentech, NAXA

HP: 100
Attack Damage/Effect: 20 Elec + Piercing + Recover20
Attack Accuracy: A
Attack Description: Conducts thunder, healing itself.
Element: Elec
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): DollThunder1, Zenny
Special: Immobile.
Special: SuperArmor: Immunity to Knockback, Microburst, Pull, Gravity, and similar effects.
Special: Lightning Rod: This virus absorbs Elec attacks as Healing.
A: DELETED
ScarecrowScarecrow (Scarecrow)

Scarecrow attack every action, if able. Every time they attack, they recover HP equal to their attack power regardless of whether or not they hit anything. This virus type also has the rare ability to absorb Elec element damage as healing for the same amount. They are immune to any status effects associated with Elec element damage/attacks. Scarecrows are anchored to the ground, and thus enjoy the effects of SuperArmor. Scarecrow are never encountered underground or indoors.

Area: Electown, Dentech, NAXA

HP: 100
Attack Damage/Effect: 20 Elec + Piercing + Recover20
Attack Accuracy: A
Attack Description: Conducts thunder, healing itself.
Element: Elec
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): DollThunder1, Zenny
Special: Immobile.
Special: SuperArmor: Immunity to Knockback, Microburst, Pull, Gravity, and similar effects.
Special: Lightning Rod: This virus absorbs Elec attacks as Healing.
B: DELETED
ScarecrowScarecrow (Scarecrow)

Scarecrow attack every action, if able. Every time they attack, they recover HP equal to their attack power regardless of whether or not they hit anything. This virus type also has the rare ability to absorb Elec element damage as healing for the same amount. They are immune to any status effects associated with Elec element damage/attacks. Scarecrows are anchored to the ground, and thus enjoy the effects of SuperArmor. Scarecrow are never encountered underground or indoors.

Area: Electown, Dentech, NAXA

HP: 100
Attack Damage/Effect: 20 Elec + Piercing + Recover20
Attack Accuracy: A
Attack Description: Conducts thunder, healing itself.
Element: Elec
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): DollThunder1, Zenny
Special: Immobile.
Special: SuperArmor: Immunity to Knockback, Microburst, Pull, Gravity, and similar effects.
Special: Lightning Rod: This virus absorbs Elec attacks as Healing.
C: DELETED

TwistyTwisty (Twisty)

Area: SciLab, Electown

HP: 80
Attack: 20 Elec + Panel Break + Drop Attack
Attack Accuracy: C
Attack Description: Summons a RemoteBit to rain down lightning and break panels.
Element: Elec
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): RemoteBit1, Zenny
Special: Immobile. RemoteBit is invulnerable to all attacks and effects. Can use Blinder once.
A: DELETED
TwistyTwisty (Twisty)

Area: SciLab, Electown

HP: 80
Attack: 20 Elec + Panel Break + Drop Attack
Attack Accuracy: C
Attack Description: Summons a RemoteBit to rain down lightning and break panels.
Element: Elec
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): RemoteBit1, Zenny
Special: Immobile. RemoteBit is invulnerable to all attacks and effects. Can use Blinder once.
B: DELETED

MagTectMagTect (MagTect)

MagTect move and dodge at slightly above average speed. In spite of the fact that they have wings, and hover above the ground, they are still subject to the effects of the terrain below. Regardless, they are very dangerous thanks to their ability to exert control over enemy movements with pincer attacks and magnetic pull effects. They know how to use these effects, too. MagTects avoid liquid terrain types if at all possible, as they do not function well at all if forcibly submerged.

Area: SciLab, Electown, Netfrica, NAXA

HP: 90
Primary Attack Damage/Effect: 20 Elec + Stun 1 + Magnetic Pull
Primary Attack Accuracy: B
Primary Attack Description: Pulls opponents towards them and hits with a magnet. Stuns.
Secondary Attack Damage/Effect: 10 Elec + Seeking + Pincer Attack x 2 Missiles
Secondary Attack Accuracy: C
Secondary Attack Description: Shoots two MagnetMissiles at a target: one from each side. The missiles move as if to pass the target, then suddenly turn towards each other in a pincer attack with the target between them.
Element: Elec
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): MagBolt1, MagnetMissile1 (Rare), Zenny
Special: Pincer Attack: Attacks a single chosen target from two opposing directions at the same time.
: DELETED

-=Blazing Explorer=-
ScorchMan: 25 Hp [Lava, mid left field][RageClaw: 5/6]

-=Fine Fields=-
50% Lava [Pathway up the center, and the entire left field]
15% Broken, 5% Cracked [Some holes and cracks in the middle pathway]
20% Metal [The right side 'field']
10% Solar [Circular patch, in the fields, around TwistyB]

-=Objects=-
RemoteBitA: [Deactivated]
RemoteBitB: [Deactivated]

-=Battle 4, Victory!!=-
Rewards: DollThunder1Damage: 80 + Line-Attack5
Accuracy: B
Description: Fires a powerful bolt of lightning that pierces through objects and enemies alike.
Duration: Once
Element: Elec
Trader Rank: D
Battlechip, 1350z
At long last, there was quiet. Well, relative quiet anyhow, ScorchMan thought ruefully, as Griffin's window exploded with riotous he-shoots-he-scores hooting and cheering. But nothing was shooting at him for the moment, so he contented himself with picking a random direction and walking until he found the lava's edge. He eased himself down to sit on the solid ground with a deep sigh, and sunk both legs up to his knees in the liquid heat. "Have you got anything for healing, Griffin?" he found a moment between cheers to chime in.

"Oh!" Griffin startled out of his victory riot, and immediately noticed it was very quiet. There had been other people in the park before, hadn't there? "Sorry buddy, gimme a sec," he rifled through the chips. His combination online shopping spree and raffle blitzkrieg hadn't yielded anything like ScorchMan was looking for, but tucked nigh-forgotten in the back of the PET case were two little half-sized chips. The PET swallowed them eagerly, spitting the cases out inert, and he watched the Navi lean back and groan in relief. "Better?"

"Much." ScorchMan tipped back until his shoulder vents hit the ground. Kicking his legs idly in the lava, he mused, "At some point I want to inventory that chip folder of yours, I swear it's changed every thirty seconds since I jacked in."

He heard Griffin laugh nervously. "Ahaha, yeeeeah," he stared down at the modest pile he'd managed to accrue, only for the PET to chirrup that it had another ready to load onto a blank. "Well, now's as good a time to start. That one that just downloaded is called DollThunder, and I just got a new one in the mail called AquaDragon." He almost held them up to the screen for visual inspection, only to remember and fumble them across the bench. "Then there's a Guard, something called SkyShoes, and that's everything new so far. You remember the rest, yeah?"

ScorchMan's brow furrowed invisibly under his helmet. "HeatShot, FlameLine, HammerToss..." he murmured. An artifact of spending so much time around humans showed itself in the Navi counting the mental list off on his fingers. "So we've got fifteen?"

Griffin made the count and grimaced. "Fourteen..." he admitted, puzzled. Had he traded something? It was a little embarrassing how quickly he'd forgotten, when the Chip Trader BBS was still open in four different tabs on his PET. "Hang on...right, I traded a PileDriver...I think? And this definitely isn't the Guard I started out with, the colour's different. Uhhh..."

"Way to Operator, dude," ScorchMan snarked, but there was no bite to it. Not when his voice was thick with relief, or when his pose brought to mind nothing so much as a vacationer at the poolside. Tension visibly bled from the set of his shoulders; he grabbed the lip and flexed both legs, taking the moment to feel the difference in sensations as they kicked and swirled against the pleasant burn of the lava. The right leg was a seamless machining of all the data that went into sustaining a Navi's form; one could look as deep as they pleased into ScorchMan's code and find not one byte out of place. Moving it was, the Navi suspected, a very different sort of feeling to the biological symphony that was a human body flinging itself through space, exerting its force against that of gravity and inertia and its own physical limits. A properly-crafted Navi could conceivably run from one side of the Net to the other, and never once stop to catch their breath.

The left leg was marred with rents along the outside of the knee. A long series of raised lines protruded from the gaps in the armour, incongruous against ScorchMan's carmine bodysuit. The smallness of the wounds belied thick coils of venom that had burrowed deep into the joint, with a few tendrils running up and down the leg for good measure. What code they had melted through had been altered, somehow; Griffin was still trying to figure out exactly what had happened.

It hurt, sometimes. Usually when ScorchMan was running, or taking a fall on his bad side, or a million other things he and Griffin thought sounded like fun at the time. Now, sunk deep in a lava pool and safely wrapped in ScorchMan's inbuilt fireproofing, his leg was feeling good in ways he scarcely had words for. Good in ways that seemed to mean he could finally take his mind off his life's perpetual annoyance, and relax for once. It was novel to say the least - just ScorchMan and his thoughts, and what was that noise? "-man? You're kinda freaking me out, dude. Dude? Duuuude." Oh. Right.

"Yeah?" ScorchMan mumbled, sounding downright sleepy.

Griffin tried to stifle a grin, and very quickly gave up - ScorchMan would just hear it in his voice anyway. "Well, you asked for healing instead of just jacking out, so I figured you were gonna keep going, yeah?"

ScorchMan thought about it. "No," he decided, huffing a laugh, "no, I think I'm just gonna stay right here. See what finds me, you know?"

"Aren't you always razzing me about staying in the tub too long? Hypocrite much?"

"This is clearly different," ScorchMan kicked at the lava, making it splurch. The noise was more gratifying than it had any right to be, so he did it again, "I highly doubt I'm going to wake up so soaked full of cold water my-"

"DUDE!"

"-has wrinkles."

"That was ONE TIME!" Griffin screeched with the indignity of one profoundly roasted.

"I could have gone the rest of my existence blissfully unaware of that oh-so-lovely aspect of Operator cohabitation, but no, you had to start carrying on about your anatomy for the next three minutes! That image is in my head now, Griffin, I'm gonna have to live with those three minutes forever!" ScorchMan was shaking with mirth and belly-laughs, a hand coming up to drag down his face.

"No, you're right," Griffin kicked back, happy to have a partner in his carousing. "You're just gonna sit there so long the lava cools, and your feet get stuck in the ground, and next thing you know some big ugly virus monster is gonna roll up on you all 'oooh, I didn't know snacks grew outta the ground!' And then you're gonna feel reeeal silly, aren'tcha?"

ScorchMan got very quiet. Griffin was half-expecting him to get up and walk away, only for him to shrug and quip, "Still better than a wrinkly ass." He smirked as Griffin started back up, though he did lift his feet out of the lava before it could cool overmuch. He made no move yet to get up, sitting by the lava and enjoying the heat and the moment while they lasted.

<(MiniEnergy x2 used, HP: 100/100)>
<(Waiting patiently in place for Battle #5)>
As ScorchMan relaxed and bantered in a good-humoured way with his operator, the warming lava bubbled and popped with slow, deep sounds. The field he had been fighting in seemed almost pleasant, now that it had been redecorated.

Unseen by the navi's limited senses, a small cluster of thin, deep red-coloured points poked up slowly from the centre of his magma pool. One, then another; three four... eventually twelve thin red points sprouted up from the centre of the lava pool, silent amongst the gently shifting fluid. It looked almost like the top of a plant of some sort, until the feelers began to push outward, rising higher and higher, extending and extending. The individual points grew thicker as more and more of their length was exposed from the lava, and then they each bent outward, articulated joints revealing themselves as the limbs continued to emerge. Still quiet, the mass of great legs pushed outward and upward, clawed tips leading in every direction as a second set of joints emerged; the limbs began to form an umbrella over the lava pool, each claw point touching down delicately, and with surprising precision at the edges of the pool.

Still silent, each of the twelve legs braced and began to pull a body up from the lava as well; though its great mass moved with unerring stealth, ScorchMan might still begin to suspect something was off at the faint sense of presence, and the increased dripping sound of lava falling back to the pool as the creature emerged.

Griffin had a better ring-side seat to the view that was unfolding. A large, thick body rose from the lava, longer than it was round, but covered in deep crimson hide that looked smooth and reflective; the lava slid from it easily as it lifted up. The body was segmented; towards the back end, it tapered into a wicked-looking needle stinger, while the main section sprouted the dozen legs that held it up. the head of the creature bore a dozen black eyes, and below, an exaggerated set of piercing mandibles that seemed to be salivating thin streams of liquid, white-hot magma back into the pool. Even ScorchMan could feel the increase in temperature as it emerged, focused on the relaxing navi. He only had a moment to really notice, however, as the ambushing predator pounced in towards him.


-=Unwanted Bath-Buddy=-
Myriad.F.Seek: 500Hp [Lava]

-=Surprised Bather=-
ScorchMan: 100Hp [Lava, edge of the pool]

-=Former Fields=-
50% Lava [Left side of the area]
30% Normal [Around the edges of the lava pool]
20% Metal [The right side of the area]

-=Battle 5, Start!=-
"ScorchMan," Griffin started, but the Navi was already standing. His Scorch Busters unfurled and clicked their barrels into place. "It's coming out of the lava, be ready to move," he warned, trying to make sense of what he was seeing. It was a sight bigger than anything they'd taken down before, that was for sure. The park was finally quiet, its sole patron quietly squinting into his PET, wearing the same focused grimace as his Navi.

The tension was back in ScorchMan's shoulders like it had never left. All he could glean were hints and snippets of the world reacting to the new presence: a faint plinking of lava on lava, each drop taking instants longer to fall than the ones before it; an impression of rising heat, strangely disparate from the lava yet only growing hotter for the separation. The mystery was solved when Griffin yelled, "Spider! Big damn lava spider, Jiminy Crinkles move move move!" and then there was no more time for thinking. With a wordless yell ScorchMan threw himself sideways. For a moment his legs wheeled above his head, and his arms groped blindly to catch himself and complete the roll.

Somehow he made it to his feet, pounding ground until he could feel the heat behind him and nowhere else. There was no need to face his foe, not when its maw burned like a tiny star against his armour, hot enough to wash residual heat against his back. Could it see him as he saw it, feeling the heat of his furnace like a colourless flare of identity? ScorchMan would have the time and the words to ask himself later that day. For the moment, his world was burned down to the barest perceptions: boots against ground, left gauntlet click-clacking into a stronger, heavier gun, big (presumably) ugly virus monster charging on feet he could scarcely hear.

ScorchMan brought the Cannon to bear, holstered his right buster jacket only to lunge forward and brace his free hand against the ground. He'd felt the recoil enough times now to be ready for it. Griffin made to say something, only to be cut off with a barked, "I know where it is." Reaching for the point that felt the hottest, he squeezed his fist and snapped his arm back and up to control the gun's report. He felt the shot leaving the chamber more than he heard it, and the Cannon was not a quiet gun. The second he felt the weapon begin to dissemble back into a buster, he was launching himself back into motion. This time he flung himself the other way, unwilling to commit to a direction as long as the virus (?) had enough room to charge.

Griffin sat back and heaved out a relieved breath; compared to even minutes ago, ScorchMan was moving visibly easier, his stride coming out more fluid and less pronounced in its unevenness. His shoulders lit up yellow-orange, followed shortly by his legs, chest, and finally his arms and busters. A wave of flame lit the space between the two foes bright and shadowless, dancing eerily across the shining metal nearby. A light of inspiration seemed to shine itself right into Griffin's face - before it could fade, he swiveled his camera and called out, "Keep going this way, stay ahead of it!"

When the fire had died down, ScorchMan was already out from behind it. Trusting his Operator, he pivoted and swerved, committing to evasion over gaining distance from the creature. Just behind him floated Griffin's window, and the sound of battlechips clattering between the big man's fingers. His gait remained steady, while his fingers twitched as though aching for another weapon. Only the tautness of his jaw, hidden by a shroud of yellow fire, betrayed the Navi's anxiety at facing down something so large, and so damned quiet. He could only keep moving, and hope the white-hot burn of his foe's jaws would continue to give it away.

-Turn Summary-
1. Dodge right
2. Feint right onto Normal
3. CannonDamage: 60 + Knockback
Accuracy: A
Description: A decent sized cannon with a single shot.
Duration: Once
Element: Null
Trader Rank: E
: Myriad [60 Null {A}, Knockback]
4. Dodge left
5. Conflagration: Myriad [40 Fire {A}, 20 HP Barrier; 2TCD]
6. Dodge right
The looming presence of excessive heat was enough for ScorchMan to leap up from his relaxing lava bath just as the lunging set of white-hot mandibles slammed down to the place he had been in. A frantic series of desperate dodges and shifts followed as the giant spider repositioned itself, rearing back and lunging again, two of its forelegs raking left and right as it tried to knock its prey down. ScorchMan ducked and dodged again, though one of the claw strikes still seared a line of pain across his back. Fire, he was used to, but even through his own innate comfort with heat and even magma, the thin line of pain still burned as much as it sliced, and she could feel the small wound smouldering.

The navi fired back a retaliation with a quick cannon shot, but even as his weapon fired, the presence near him shifted; he felt the core of heat move with sudden grace around to one side, as the spider leapt on silent feet and touched down again just as stealthily to his side, as though coming in from a new angle. In a moment, it was on him, its bulk knocking him to the ground as its fore-claws and fangs stabbed and lashed out. ScorchMan was able to roll between its strikes, avoiding each of the attacks in turn, almost by evasive instinct and the other tells that his senses were sending him; one claw slammed into the ground beside him, another back again, the snick of its mandibles trying to close over him as he shifted again; one sudden jolt of pain as another leg pinned his arm for a moment, then retracted just in time to give the navi time to roll away once more, before the next bite could bisect him.

Suddenly, its weight dropped, momentarily pressing the navi flat, before burning white sting of flame-beyond-flame stabbed like a thin needle into his middle, leaving a sense of melting venom within him that burned every time he moved. But move he had to. If the spider's molten heat was enough to burn him, the same, at least, seemed to be true in reverse. When scorchMan released a conflagration of flames at his silent assailant, he felt, and sensed, its mass rear back from him, allowing the navi to scramble out and away from it.

It leapt at him again, pouncing to try to pin him down once more, but the sudden arc and rapid motion of its body heat was enough for ScorchMan to divert in his running just enough to avoid it; listening for the impact, he did, just, hear the sounds of its many legs touching down on the ground not far from him, but only really because he'd been listening for it, and probably because it had landed heavily, in the hopes of grappling its prey. As he moved away, the lingering burning, melting feelings from where it had grazed him remained; they weren't bad, but they were hard to ignore.

-=Unwanted Bath-Buddy=-
Myriad.F.Seek: 460Hp [Normal]

-=Surprised Bather=-
ScorchMan: 75Hp [Normal][Barrier: 20Hp][Claw-Pierce: 5Fire per turn, 4 turns remain][Sting: 5Fire per action, 5 actions remain]

-=Former Fields=-
50% Lava [Left side of the area]
30% Normal [Around the edges of the lava pool]
20% Metal [The right side of the area]
The longer Griffin watched ScorchMan growl under the spider's snapping assault, the hotter his shoulders felt against his raglan. It was nothing but the simple sympathy of really, truly knowing that feel (bro), but the sympathy of a burn could make the burly fireman wince just as easily as the burn itself. "Hang on, dude," he called and rattled through his chip folder. Familiar jolts of adrenaline were shooting up the big man's wrists, though the lack of anything physical to burn his energy on left Griffin feeling strangely untethered. A nebulous spark of an idea was trying to catch alight; he spun the camera and scanned the earth, trying to see enough to fill in the gaps.

The shine of metal. Rancorous, predatory skittering. A handful of unfamiliar, untested chips and the barest understandings of how they might work. The idea flared up without warning - in his Work Voice he barked, "Run to your three and keep ahead of it!" Seeking out whatever felt most applicable to the not-quite-a-plan, his fingers found a chip displaying rocket boots and thought 'sure let's roll with it'. "Pop this one ASAP, okay?

Distantly, ScorchMan felt the chip as a flare of heat in his chest-furnace. The bulk of him was occupied with wrestling a nigh-invisible foe that moved quicker and quieter than anything so large had any right to. That, and the burns - the ones across his back were ignorable, but it was the sting in ScorchMan's belly that had the Navi gritting his teeth, liquid fire seeping and spreading higher up his limbs with every step. There was nothing for it but to push into his boots, pivot ninety degrees and sprint where his Operator had indicated. The chip was unfamiliar; ScorchMan reached for it like a weapon, snarling when the data slipped from his grasp and flowed down his legs instead of loading into his busters. "What - am I - supposed - to do with this?" There was a split-second of the most peculiar pressure inside his boots, like his feet had just swollen to twice their size-

and the SkyShoes ignited.

The world vanished. All there was to register was smoky lava-baked air on all sides, and a pillar of fire gushing from the sole of each foot. Also, an angry bellow that sounded a lot like, "WOULD YOU WARN A GUY!!" From somewhere behind ScorchMan came an apology, barely audible over the wind rushing through his helmet. More noticeable was the second chip: this one felt uncomplicated, easier to handle by far, and fluorescent-bright in a way he recognized the instant it loaded.

Flailing as he tumbled and spun, ScorchMan's off-hand found a handle as it unfolded from his gauntlet. With something to centre his body on, the Navi managed to lock his legs tight together and start controlling the spin. The wild torchlights brightened and melded upon being united. There was just the small matter of finding the arachnid's white-hot maw to distinguish which direction below lay, and he would be able to right himself.

A flicker of heat-beyond-heat against his back. Ever-rising heat. His legs came up over his head once more, and kicked forward to break the spin. In the split-second of hanging freely before he had to get his feet back under himself, ScorchMan let gravity point his DollThunder railgun down to earth, felt for the dripping starburst at the spider's maw, and squeezed the trigger. Lightning flashed, all the heat and light of a sun condensed into a snapping, forking river of plasma. The Navi could have been a thundercloud - filled with swirling heat and gusting through the air, the inside of his skull a riot of scintillant fire, he certainly felt like one.

There was no thunder, but then, that was probably for the best. It dawned on ScorchMan that he didn't even know if being this high up would necessarily guarantee his safety against this particular foe. If it still had a means of reaching him he didn't know about, he'd best make it as difficult for the beast as possible, and so he threw himself once more into a tuck and roll. It was, in hindsight, rather easier when one knew which direction was up, and thus when to throw one's rocket boot-equipped feet out to stop flipping and right oneself. From a point somewhere to ScorchMan's left, he could hear Griffin shouting, "Yes! Yes, that was perfect! Keep this under you, it could probably still get you if it jumped, and I bet you anything the bastard's gonna be mad enough to try!"

The rapid verbal torrent was punctuated with a third chip. ScorchMan recognized the Guard the instant it began to unfurl, comforting weight spreading from his gauntlet like a solid steel wing. The shield spread asymmetrically, only a small portion extending past his hand, with the bulk following the line of his forearm well past his elbow. With a grunt, he wheeled his arm up and flexed his bicep in a classic strongman curl. With his legs flexing into the thrust of his rocket boots and his shoulders slightly hunched for balance, much of ScorchMan's body was concealed behind the Guard. His buster trigger seemed almost to itch, nevermind that it was somewhere in his head and not exactly scratchable. He wanted badly to just bark at Griffin for more guns, more fire and take whatever came at him, but his stings yet stung, warnings dearly received against letting the spider have too much liberty. Fighting blind was still far too novel, and his fire too fresh-kindled. Theirs' would have to be a shared victory, or no victory at all.

-BurnTurn Summary-
1. Feint [Bait Myriad towards Metal]
2. SkyShoesEffect: High-Alt Flight
Accuracy: S
Description: Grants the user the ability to freely fly at high altitude. Initial takeoff is considered a dodge. If shot down, user may take off again until effect ends.
Duration: 1 turn
Element: Null
Special: Beware of fall damage.
Trader Rank: D
[Dodge: vertical takeoff into forward flip]
3. Take Aim
4. DollThunder1Damage: 80 + Line-Attack5
Accuracy: B
Description: Fires a powerful bolt of lightning that pierces through objects and enemies alike.
Duration: Once
Element: Elec
Trader Rank: D
: Myriad [80 Elec {B+}, Line Attack5]
5. Dodge
6. Guard2Effect: (1 Hit Shield) + (Reflect(up to 120 + Piercing + Line Attack): On Hit)
Accuracy: S
Description: Generates a 1-Hit Shield upon activation. When this shield blocks one hit from a non-Break attack, it responds with a hyper-fast damage ray.
Duration: Until broken or overridden.
Element: Null
Special: Negated by Break. Ignores Impact.
Special: Reflect: Damage returned is equal to the damage of the attack blocked or the damage cap listed, whichever comes first. Reflect is not subject to negation by Impact.
Special: Status Guard: This chip blocks debuffs.
Trader Rank: C
(Held under feet)
As ScorchMan and Griffin worked together to avoid the lethally quiet fire-spider predator, the sense of its heat nearby continued. Perhaps it had intuited ScorchMan's restricted normal senses, but for a moment it seemed to fall behind him slightly as he led it away towards the other side of the fields, the burning feeling from its attacks still searing him.

All at once, in a whisper, Scorchman felt it lunge forward, flying at him in a burst of unheralded speed, just as a second unexpected acceleration lifted him into the sky. A skittering sound and the screech of claw-tipped legs scraping across metal below him preceded a billowing wave of heat as the beast hissed up at him, its molten maw yawning wide in frustration.

Just as he righted himself in the air, and tried to line up his target below, the core of impossible heat down below shuddered and shifted as a stream white fire and molten material lanced up from the creature below to spatter and tether the navi. it melted through his remaining barrier, and left hot tendrils on his body, connecting ScorchMan to the creature below, but by the time the strands reached his skin they weren't hot enough to harm the fire navi any more. He did feel the stands pulled suddenly taught, however, as the shot yanked tight and reeled him back towards the ground far faster than he had originally been falling.

He had just enough time to send the blast of electrical energy down ahead of him, right into the waiting mouth of the hunter below; the bolt hammered in with an electrical reverb that was only overshadowed by the screeched hissing sound as the spider writhed and flailed at the unexpected mouthful. It collapsed flat against the metal panels in a heap as ScorchMan tried to ready his guard for a crash landing.

To his senses, the pinpoint core of fire suddenly dithered and diffused, spreading into a broad lake of heat, while, on Griffin's screen, he saw the spider spread out a further coverage of lava, into which it swiftly sank. The creature was still reading as present, however, and there was no way it was done for yet – though perhaps it was retreating like an ambush predator caught off-guard?

Scorchman landed in the fresh lava pool, surfing on his shield a moment later, just as a spike of heat in his awareness shot up from below the surface; he was able to slide to the side of it just in time for the razor thin stinger of the spider to punch up from the lava, skewering only air. Victory as short-lived, however, as the attack came on two fronts – no soon had he moved aside from the attacking tail stinger, then the bloom of the creature's hottest core opened up beneath him and its mouth snapped up on either side, fangs attempting to sink in.

Fortunately for Scorchman, its jaw was not incredibly wide, and most of its bite seemed to lodge on his shield; the fangs still pierced, crumpling the defence, but by a quirk of the chips protection, the scoring heat of its bite didn't manage to infiltrate his own body any further. Before it gave out entirely, the guard shield recoiled, sending a retaliatory blast of energy back down the spider's gullet with a flash, and blasting it back under the surface of the lava again.

-=Unwanted Bath-Buddy=-
Myriad.F.Seek: 280Hp [Lava]

-=Surprised Bather=-
ScorchMan: 45Hp [Lava][Claw-Pierce: 5Fire per turn, 3 turns remain][SkyShoes still active for the start of the turn, but will be gone by the end]

-=Former Fields=-
80% Lava [Left and right]
20% Normal [Narrow central strip]