Madness, Minus The Madness

((Connecting from Favour the Road, Travel in Style......))

Faces appeared before Fissure, ghostly specters, figments of dreams and nightmares. Most had missing limbs, the areas where they should have been singed black. Some even had gaping holes and entire sides absent, replaced with burned circles. They screamed, deafeningly silent. They surrounded and shrilled at Fissure, pleading wordlessly, begging without sound. And Fissure could do nothing, it's permanent grin still held, but it's eyes were filled with pain...

The vision came to a sudden, welcome end as Fissure touched down onto Yoka Net's entrance portal. These dreams, only happening when it's data disassembled during transit, became less and less vivid with each passing day. But they were a scar, a scar so deep in Fissure's synthetic mind that it was one Fissure would have to bear forever.

<<Hey. You alright?>> There was concern in Jim's voice, but more than enough cynicism.

"Read me those coordinates, if you'd please."[b][/b], scraped Fissure, ignoring Jim's inquiry and shaking off the haunting memories.

A yellow arrow appeared before Fissure, pointing towards the inputted destination. With a grin three sizes two big and a wary ally at his side, Fissure followed the path of the moving arrow, the rhythmic alternation of Fissure's steps melding into the daily Yoka bustle.
The coordinates Fissure had received led him to a bathhouse establishment after a long walk through the populated Yoka common area.

The ritz and polish of the place, made up to look very regal, told him that it must be some sort of VIP area. The lack of civilians walking about this part of the net confirmed his suspicion. As soon as he approached the gate, however, a quick scan from one of the workers identified him as authorized to enter. He was hurried along quickly to a private bath, which two purple standard navis guarded each side of. Nodding as they saw him, they opened up the door to allow him through, hurrying him so that he had little time to get his senses. A rush of gaudy tapestries, shiny statues, and intricately designed armors assailed Fissure's vision as he headed through the hallway, finally reaching the bath to which he'd been directed.

If Fissure had an eye for women, he'd be in a veritable paradise right then. The bath was populated by about twenty women, all dressed in ninja suits that flattered their figures well or, in the case that they were in the bath, apparently nothing. The fantasy-like scene was ruined, however, by two factors marring its blissful setup. The first was that each of the women was wearing a grotesque mask like a demon's face, of varying colors but all carrying the same horrible design. The second was that the women who were in the bath were primarily huddled around a morbidly obese, fanged and naked man with dull, purely yellow eyes. Nobody was talking aside from the one man, giving the odd impression of a grown man playing with dolls.

"Welcome, Fissure! You're our newest recruit, huh? You look strong, ha ha ha!"[font=eras demi itc][/font] the man laughed as if the two were already very familiar, stopping to take a huge swig of a strong looking drink in a transparent mug at his side. Wiping his mouth roughly with one arm and smacking his fat lips, he waved one arm to Fissure. "You've got good taste, you know. Undoubtedly you're here because you have talents that other families just wouldn't understand, I know how it is. We, the Teksqp, are the guys that everyone else is scared to mess with! Our skills and priorities are far beyond the comprehension of the other families, although we still work in tandem with them."[font=eras demi itc][/font]

"Most importantly, the Teksqp takes care of its own!"[font=eras demi itc][/font] he grinned, hoisting his plump arms over the back of the tremendous marble bath's lip. "We've all got our own initiatives, but we Teksqp realize the value of each other's cooperation. Well, enough of my blabber, care to take a dip and make yourself comfortable while I give you the mission briefing?"[font=eras demi itc][/font] he asked, waving one arm towards the opposite side of the enormous tub. The tub was fortunately very large, but the idea of Fissure dipping down into water was already pretty ridiculous and sharing the tub with that man only made the prospect look even less appealing.
Ever since the very first net-navigator had been designed in the image of a human, there had always been ways for navis to simulate the lives of their creators. Nowadays, you couldn't walk ten paces on the internet without coming across a digital coffee shop or a dating site for navis. Fissure had even seen a place where one could parody the lives of regular people going about their everyday jobs.

But this... this really cut the cake. Fissure could not fathom a single, logical reason why someone would go to such lengths to build an enormous, private bathhouse on the internet. There was no point. No purpose. No sufficient use other than wasting time that could have gone into more constructive uses. The towering, marble structure looked like something out of BC Rome, covered in tasteless carpets and hanging canvases of questionable content. It was shameless, offensive, and the result of nothing short of complete disengagement from the guiding hand of common sense.

It was almost beautiful.

Fissure licked his teeth with a flickering, forked tongue, marveling at the sheer arrogance and degradation that poured from every facet, crack and tile within the entire building. Brightly polished, yet sickeningly vulgar suits of armour watched from their alcoves as the residing security, who looked as though they were there for show rather than actual protection, led Fissure to his destination. He couldn't help but grin madly at the "artwork" lining the walls, portraying bloodbaths, violence, orgies and executions. Such a place could only belong to one who thought themselves a demon.


"Welcome, Fissure! You're our newest recruit, huh? You look strong, ha ha ha!"[font=eras demi itc][/font]

He was half right. The loud, bloated "man" before him, disarmingly bare and proud of it to boot, had about as much flavour and charm as one of hell's nearest and dearest. He was obviously influential, surrounded by a delightfully fashioned harem of women. Listening to the Teksqp commander's rather blusterous welcome was a little difficult, as it felt like he was throwing up every time he spoke.

"You've got good taste, you know. Undoubtedly you're here because you have talents that other families just wouldn't understand, I know how it is. We, the Teksqp, are the guys that everyone else is scared to mess with! Our skills and priorities are far beyond the comprehension of the other families, although we still work in tandem with them."[font=eras demi itc][/font]

As the commander went on, Fissure busied himself by snaking the flat of his fore-talon up the back of an attendant, who had taken it upon herself to stand at his side. So far, it was looking up for the blacksmith.

"Most importantly, the Teksqp takes care of its own! We've all got our own initiatives, but we Teksqp realize the value of each other's cooperation. Well, enough of my blabber, care to take a dip and make yourself comfortable while I give you the mission briefing?"[font=eras demi itc][/font]

The tub the man occupied was large and, like everything else in this place, adorned with the imagery only a mad artist would take pleasure in creating. The water looked inviting, but the idea of sharing it with the commander did not greatly appeal to him. Besides, it made his joints stiffen.

"I am grateful for your hospitality."[b][/b], said Fissure in his humblest tone, "But i'm afraid large bodies of water disagree with me somewhat terribly. If I may?"[b][/b]

He tapped the heel of his anvil foot against the floor a couple of times. Several red cracks spread out from the point of impact, crimson light pouring up from below. After a moment, a wide, steel throne emerged from the broken ground underneath Fissure, who settled into the scarlet, velvet seat. The top of the throne was adorned with a very large, iron version of Fissure's grinning emblem. With his arm around her waist, he guided the attendant to sit beside him on the arm rest.

"I must say, this place has quite a delightful decor."[b][/b], Fissure buttered, settling into the mood. He tried some smalltalk, and hoped the man didn't mind minor destruction of property. "Did you commission it yourself?"[b][/b]
One of the ninjas sat down wordlessly at the side of Fissure's throne showing no signs of resistance.

Another navi might be annoyed with somebody messing up their marble floors and furthermore summoning a throne in an area where the owner was obviously already trying to establish a position of dominance. Luckily, Boss Oni did not seem to be such a person, and took it all as a show of camaraderie. "Splendid! Ladies, please bring me a towel along with my throne. My guest and I are going to have a quick but pleasant discussion!"[font=eras demi itc][/font] Fetching him both of these things, Fissure spared himself watching as Boss Oni climbed out of the water (with the assistance of a few of his women), then garbed his lower body in a towel.

Not waiting to dry, he plopped down onto the cushion and faced Fissure with a big smile across his face. "Yes, I did indeed commission this building myself. Few of the NetMafia bigwigs enjoy such fabulous luxuries as I do, but do not fear, I am more than willing to share my bounty with the new blood. I've decided that this glorious bathhouse of mine will one day be teaming with the life blood of the Teksqp family: promising new recruits such as yourself,"[font=eras demi itc][/font] he said with a grin, pointing with one hand while he dipped the fat fingers of his right into a small box. Pulling out some confectionery that looked a little like a gourmet chocolate, but gooier and pink (perhaps it had melted due to the heat of the room), he sucked it into his mouth and then licked his fingers with pleasure. "What a question to ask! You've got a good head on your shoulders and you know where to build your connections. I like that,"[font=eras demi itc][/font] he guffawed, waving off the subject.

"Well, I could go on forever entertaining questions regarding my wealth, but we'll put that aside and let it stand as a promise of things to come... rewards you may see in your own future,"[font=eras demi itc][/font] he said with a smug grin, pulling out another fistful of the goop and raising it like he was making a toast before promptly slamming the whole hand into his mouth and greedily sucking it clean. One of his attendants approached, wiped the hand with a towel as he withdrew it, then bowed and returned to her original position. "Let's focus on your mission. To become one of our recruits, we need to see that you have the competence and will to accomplish one of our tasks. I'm giving you the benefit of doing me a personal service,"[font=eras demi itc][/font] he continued with a little less enthusiasm, now that they'd strayed from the subject of his own wealth. It seemed he was now about to broach upon a topic that would likely lose him favor with most individuals and was trying to decide how to approach it tactfully.

"I'm sending you on an errand to fetch me a new female companion. I'll spare you the boring details of how this all works, but suffice to say, my operator Jim has created a device by which I can expand my personal harem. I've used it for a long time, it's very intuitive. Basically, after preparing one of these models at expense to myself, I simply need to get a navi with my Oni Mark,"[font=eras demi itc][/font] he explained, snapping his fingers towards another of his women. Quickly, four women banded together to bring him his weapon: a huge, blue, barrel-nozzle bazooka with his emblem across one side in purple. "This is my Lordly Cannon. Ordinarily, it discharges a very powerful explosion, but a modification allows it to use the Oni Mark as well. All you need to do is point it at a heavily injured target and fire. Regardless of whether they block it or not, so long as it hits, the mark will go through and capture their appearance. You've got three shots."[font=eras demi itc][/font]

"Three female NetPolice officers are having a little get-together, I don't know why. I'm interested in any of them... so no matter who you get, it's a win for me,"[font=eras demi itc][/font] he said with a warm smile, perhaps contemplating their appearances to himself. "I should warn you, however, that one of the women is a member of NP officer BrassMan's 'Brass Guard.' Recently, one of our top men saw fit to delete one of the Brass Guard for... basically no reason at all,"[font=eras demi itc][/font] he said with a spiteful grimace. "It's caused a serious backlash amongst the NP; they're cracking down everywhere. If we delete another of the Brass Guard, the results could be catastrophic. Whatever you do, don't delete the navi called 'City;' you'll know her because she wears clothes that look like a skyscraper high-rise,"[font=eras demi itc][/font] he finished.

Making another sweeping gesture with a large, curled hand, he brought over four ninjas. "These girls will help you accomplish your task. Remember: any collateral damage is fine. I don't care who gets deleted either, even my own girls. These navis are likely to be fairly tough, however, so I'd recommend you move quickly and eject as soon as you've met your goal. Don't attempt to delete them all, that'd just be a waste of time. Finish this for me and I promise you membership in our organization, along with the full benefits of my affection," [font=eras demi itc][/font] he finished, giving a delighted grin at how benevolent and generous his closing promise had made him sound.

Four ninjas moved over to Fissure's side, bringing the cannon with them and cloaking themselves so that their appearance as evil ninja dolls was not so obvious. One of them held the coordinates to the meeting that Oni had mentioned. Oni smiled and nodded, taking the acceptance of the mission as a given. "Anything else you need?" [font=eras demi itc][/font] he asked through a mouthful of the pink goop, talking through his fingers as he licked off the remnants.

((GET: Oni Cannon (usable 3 times max, deals 0 damage "Oni Marker" shot attack)))
((GET: Coordinate data (coordinates reveal to go to Netopia Net)))
((GET: Blade Slave.SP, Fire Arrow Slave.SP, Healer Slave.SP, Barrier Slave.SP (stats will only become relevant in mission)))
Fissure's taloned hand massaged the curvature of the attendant's lower back as Boss Oni went to lengths describing his personal fortune. When the conversation turned to business, Fissure leant forward in eager contemplation, his unnocupied hand resting along his knee. The NetMafia commander spoke of capturing women to expand the bathhouse's most prized "collection". A mission that flaunted control, perversion and superiority. Fissure shivered in delight at the prospect of such an audacious yet enchanting act of barbarity.

"Kidnapping and... 'forced re-employment'?"[b][/b] he trilled delicately, coiling his arm further around his passive neighbour. "Now there's a felony I have yet to sample."[b][/b]

As the four hot ninjas brought over the bad-ass, phallic-sounding "Lordly Cannon", Fissure rose from his temporary throne. A click of his heel sent the small, iron tower back below the re-assembling marble, not even leaving a cracked tile. The hefty, blue bazooka took both hands to aim properly as he tried looking down the emblem-emblazed sights. With a lash of tongue and hair, Fissure downloaded the weapon into a temporary memory cache, causing it to evaporate into a stream of white lines.

"Worry not, kind sir, you'll have your fair trophy in the end."[b][/b] Fissure's snake-like body arced furiously as the blacksmith took a long, low bow, swinging a taloned arm below his chest. Straightening, he took the co-ordinate data from one of his new companions and sent that to its own place in his mind. "I thank you for your hospitality and the company you keep."[b][/b] Fissure motioned to all of the bathhouse's inhabitants, including them all in his polite gratuity. "And if this assignment works out pleasantly for us both, perhaps a more... permanent contract could be founded."[b][/b]

Fissure humbly waved away Boss Oni's final inquiry. "Far be it for me to ask more of you than your blessing, kind sir."[b][/b]

With a final grating bow, Fissure pulled his dark cloak over himself, concealing all but his bleached smile, and turned. He strode out of the bathroom, the little posse of ninjas following his lead.


As Fissure made his way out of the great, iron gateway, Jim's face appeared to his side, returning from one of his little chores.

"So... how'd it go?", the young man asked, warily eyeing the cloaked individuals tailing his only friend.

Fissure thought back to the wealth, the style, the influence, the superiority and the bad-assed ballsery of just one of the Netmafia families. One day, he'd be the one to hold such power, possibly even greater than all the families combined. And he would put it to good use... Vengeance would have its day in the end.

Only Jim, who had been with him for longer than most, noticed his permanent grin growing into an almost face-bustingly-huge mockery of mirth.

"Like a dream."[b][/b], hissed the serpentine navi between his collectively outragious teeth.

Fissure swept away from the mafia property along the way he had come, trailing a worried hologram and a set of cloaked quadruplets.

((Connecting to Favour the Road, Travel in Style......))