Somewhere in the icy depths of Sharo Net, a patch of snow convulsed and writhed. The space of the Net tore asunder, expelling an inky wave of howling static from nowhere. The tiny storm coalesced, glitching Hex's morphic pool into existence, and vanished in a pulse that blasted a jagged hole in the snowy ground.

Egomorph was immediately summoned, rising from the static pool in a tiny, fetal ball. The waif wrapped her skeletal arms around herself, her lone eye peering around at the dismal gloom that was nighttime in Sharo Net. "Cold..." she murmured, curling into herself further.

"Emulating..." Hex spoke up, his pool humming with energy. Ego watched as a series of dark silhouettes, either too small or the wrong shape to be Navi bodies, rose up from his depths, converging and gathering as they ascended. Then the first broke the surface, revealing the unmistakable hard-hat and visage of a Metool, giant eyes glazed and lifeless. More viruses and pieces of viruses followed, grafted to the gestalt body by strands of protoplasm and welded by glitches. A Teddy and a Spikey were brutally skewered and sewn together, their combined bodies melding behind the Metool head to serve as its torso. Their combined limbs were rearranged, limbs torn and reset until they more resembled a spider than anything. Their hindquarters tore and warped as tendrils burst from them, weaving two bizarre limbs from what looked like Cacty segments. Finally, a twitching Handy capped one 'tail', while a dead-eyed Starfish convulsed atop the other.

The result of Assimilation was a very different beast as compared to Hex's other forms, a chimaera to his base form's poltergeist-come-revenant, or the amorphous storm that was Conclusion. Yet Ego felt a very distinct terror well up in her throat as Hex's new body regarded her for a brief moment, then started walking deeper into the storm. "They're hungry...which means you are too, doesn't it?" she whispered, forcing herself to her feet and padding along behind Hex. Her Conduit hung heavy behind her head, every errant red spark a warning that her tiny, fragile body was not hers to keep; any second, she could be taken over by those myriad voices, driven mad by her creator.

<(Battle #1, ready; Assimilation.GMO equipped)>
The frozen lands of the Sharo nets were mostly peaceful and calm, if still their usual wind-blown and frigid. To one side, some low, mountainous terrain, gradually descending into an ice shelf that in turn gave way to a broad, icy lake... on the other, a flat plan of snow drifts that eventually crept up to the edges of a dense pine wood forest, equally clad in thick snow.

Nearby, a small colony of Penguin fished and played at the edge of the lake, and far off in the distance ahead, the dull shapes of something that could actually be hut-like structures. Harsh conditions aside, it could actually be considered sort of pleasant.

At least, it could have, until Hex made the scene. At the sight of his grotesque, frankensteined chimera of a body, the colony of penguins slithered back into the water with much keening and chattering, all save three of the smallest ones, who huddled together, not heeding the cries of their elders, and moved towards him slowly to take a look.

Something was quite wrong about this scene, really. In the normal order of things, viruses disrupted the net and caused instability, and navis deleted them, to restore order. Right now though, between his nightmare-inducing bitsa of viral body parts, and the gaping, black hole he had torn in the net space to arrive here, one would be forgiven for not believing that Hex himself was actually supposed to be the NetNavi in all of this. the three young Pengi also seemed confused and uncertain, and lacked the better instincts of the rest of their colony. One edged forward a little more, then after taking a moment to psyche itself up, took a small run and slid across the ice towards the impossible creature, while the other two watched on.


PengiA: 80hp [Ice][1 movement away]
PengiB: 80hp [Ice][Sliding][Almost in front of Hex]
PengiC: 80hp [Ice][1 movement away]

-=Unpicky Eater=-

Hexadecimal.Exe: 160Hp [Snow]
Egomorph.SP: 60Hp [Snow]


40% Ice [Wide swathe around the edge of the lake]
30% Snow [Back and left hand side of the field]
30% Sea [Right hand side of the field]

-=Battle 1, Start!=-
A bout of shivers wracked Egomorph's slight frame, making her whimper and fold in on herself. Even with her eye squeezed shut, she could identify the small, cold scents lighting before her, by proxy of the Assimilation beast's predator senses. The little waif shuddered as her mind's eye was flooded with the image of the three young viruses, eviscerated and devoured by powerful hungry jaws and so, so very many teeth. "So hungry..." Ego moaned, unable to tell whether that was her or them talking, feeling her discrete self sinking under the weight of the hungering gestalt. Angry crimson leeched into her lone eye, the Manifest Conduit flaring with the rage and misery of the myriad voices made real. To her, the experience of having the gestalt mind awaken felt like being shackled into the empty darkness amongst them, watching her body become a puppet for the many to make dance. Her back arched, head thrown towards the midnight skies in a silent cry, before she was completely taken over and driven deep into the darkness of her own head; the many that usually inhabited that darkness rose up, moving as one within her skin. A stream of whispered half-thoughts from the thousands of clashing voices hissed out her lips, some of them words of confusion, most of them unable to speak anything but their eternal tormentor's voracity.

Opposite the possessed SP, Hex's emulated body bent low to the ground, tails arching over him like a scorpion about to strike. There was no conscious thought to be had here, no request to Arch for Battlechips. All that remained was the raw, driving force of his urge to consume, demanding that all was fed to the ever-growing beast. The Pengi slid towards him, slick ice robbing it of control, and in anticipation of the meal to come, Hex's body came alive. The Spikey and Teddy forming his torso opened their slack jaws, howling and slavering in a horrific pantomime of the feral tongue of viruses, snapping at the Pengi as it neared.

Ego, hearing the haunting cries from deep inside her own head, thought it sounded more like screaming, and futilely wished she could clap her hands over her ears to block it out.

While the two animal viruses growled and snapped, the Starfish woven to the end of his tail pulsed, flexible limbs flexing wide and shut, dead-eyed mouth gaping until its thin lips tore. A jagged rip extended from the mouth up each of the dead echinoderm's arms, grinding deep into the virus' body...and then the limbs opened up along the tears. Each jagged line revealed itself as a row of teeth as the Starfish was unfolded, mutated by the body it was bound to into a grotesque, five-jawed mouth. A high-pitched, keening wail joined the deep growls, and as it screamed, a thick tongue of knotted tentacles erupted from between the cruel teeth.

There were no sharp, precise points to the appendage that shot towards the Pengi, Egomorph dimly noticed, but instead a series of hideous barbs protruding from the outside of the tentacle, meant to entangle rather than skewer. The little virus that her body was watching so hungrily would have just enough time to comprehend the spines piercing its frozen armour as Hex's gaping maw reeled it in, before it would be devoured just like the Navis that remained screaming in her head. Mercifully separate from the chaos of voices for the moment, she was able to feel her own distinct pity for the little creature.

=Turn Summary=
1. Infect: PengiB [80 Null {A}, Break, Glitch]
There might have been a brief moment when the sliding Pengi realised that approaching this ... creature... at all, was a mistake. If there was, it certainly wasn't a long enough moment for it to do anything about it, before Hex's many armour-hooking tentacle barbs latched onto the poor thing, making the probable contact of sliding penguin meeting monster-navi into more of an inevitability.

Behind it, the other two, who had been preparing to follow their friend in slides of their own, hesitated, watching head-lit for precious few seconds that they likely couldn't afford. As if sensitive to the atmosphere, a fierce, moaning wind rose from the woods off to the left, sending a scything cold to rake the area. As much as Sharo was always cold, this particular wind felt like it had just come off a mountain, and the shrieks as it passed through the densely wooded forest carried more loose snow with it, pelting navi and virus alike and beginning to spread the thick drifts wider and wider.


PengiA: 80hp [Snow][1 Movement away][Hesitating]
PengiC: 80hp [Snow][1 movement away][Hesitating]

-=Unpicky Eater=-

Hexadecimal.Exe: 160Hp [Snow]
Egomorph.SP: 60Hp [Snow]


20% Ice [Thin swathe around the edge of the lake]
50% Snow [Majority of the area, save a thin strip at the edge of the lake]
30% Sea [Right hand side of the field]

-= 3 Actions Remaining =-
The air was full of screaming. Hex's tripartite slavering, the howling wind, and the pained whimpering of the doomed Pengi all mixed in Ego's ears, reminding her far too much of the perpetual storm of voices she hosted in her head. Her body was still watching the consuming process, unblinking; she could do nothing but watch and wish for the ability to at least close her eyes, or plug her ears.

The Pengi wriggled like a fish on the hook, doing nothing but digging the barbs deeper under its skin. The beast that would feed on it yowled in its three-part tongue, almost intelligible but not, and its tongue began retracting, dragging it through the freshly fallen snow. An overwhelming despair began to fill the little virus, staring up into the horrifying maw, a fledgling sentience contemplating its own demise.

It was right before the abomination now, a divot cut through the snow where it had been dragged. The Starfish-that-was yawned open, caressing the Pengi with its many jaws; the last thing the virus would ever see was the teeth and darkness. Then, fast as lightning, the mouth slammed shut around it, and only then did it start to scream: it found itself in the depths of Hex's pool, an endless field of white, and no command in the world could have held the Navi back from tearing into its meal. Protoplasm forced itself into the Pengi's body through its many wounds and gashes, scraping at its viral core, consuming it from the inside out. Its shrieks of agony echoed out from the beast's body as it was devoured, cutting off when it no longer had a voice to shriek with but resounding in every fibre of its dwindling being nonetheless, until there was nothing left but a tiny soulless body drifting in the void. .

The virus-beast pulsed, as though Hex's entire being was one big heart. A few seconds after the Pengi's death-screams ended, the Metool-head dropped off the main body, absorbed back into the pool without a sound. Taking its place was a mangled Pengi body, all too familiar for every being present, which was melded between the Spikey and Teddy like the third head of a surrealist Cerberus. Hex made the tiny body's mouth open, the marionette inside the puppet. Even as the monster bent down into a predator's crouch, shaking the slight dusting of snow off, the Pengi's cry rang out over the battleground; its brethren would only hear a tortured voice they used to know, and nothing more.

The many in Ego's body finally tore their monocular gaze off the first demise of the night, and slashed open an access panel to Arch's laptop. "Operator," Ego's voice rang out skyward, deadened and flat, "you are needed."

A spectacular hacking cough and a thick haze of smoke was all that could be identified at first. "Whazzat? Whaddaya wan'?" Arch slurred, scrabbling across his desk for the source of the voice. He picked up his PET and, lo and behold, there wasn't a Navi to be found inside. "Ahh, fur fuggen...th'hell ya doin', Hex?" he groaned aloud, turning back towards his laptop and opening the Net access on the third try, coming face to face with Egomorph's luminescent stare. "...Kid? Are ya...are ya actually, like, Hex, or were there, ya know, it dun even..." he trailed off, too intoxicated to make so much as a shred of sense.

Ego's face could have been carved from stone for all she reacted to Arch's antics. "Operator," the many within her repeated once more, "you are needed."

Arch finally comprehended upon seeing the two Pengis in the background: his Navi had gone busting, and he decided he didn't particularly care how. "Right, right, ya friggin...I'ave a name, y'know. S'Arch..." he mumbled, hands that felt like wavering jellyfish searching the surface of his desk for the chip folder. "Erright, have yer chips, getcher chips 'ere! Izzis all I am t'you lot? Izzit? Whatevvrr..." Five chips were grabbed at random and slotted into the PET one at a time, and Arch resumed whatever shenanigans he'd been up to without another word.

[Battlechips uploaded: CandyBomb1, ElecReel1, Wrecker, TriArrow, IronShield1]

The many minds of Egomorph had long-since been corrupted beyond any individuality. Every mind thought as one, screamed as one, felt their own pain and every single other being's simultaneously...and for all the horrors they suffered, combat unveiled a unique side-effect and advantage in that plans could be formed and debated instantaneously amongst the gestalt. The mind-gestalt scanned the chips as they arrived, and plucked the ElecReel out of the data-stream before it collected within Hex; the Conduit, already shining from within like liquid ruby, flared even brighter in response to the new data. "You will gather those remaining. Chase one to the other, and we will feed on them both," the dead voice rang out, not command but simple statement.

The instinct-driven mind of Assimilation processed this logic, and found it to its liking. Its many mouths bayed and shrieked into the gloom; the beast was ready to hunt. The Teddy's back warped and stretched, the animal's spine splitting open like a stuffed animal with a burst seam. Protruding from its back at an odd angle was a Megalian's face, gaping outwards to infinity. Its empty eyes burned with a flickering purple light, and a barrier wavered into existence around Hex's body, twisting and contorting with static flashes as the graphic struggled to maintain itself. Barrier up, the monster took a few long steps, shaking its way through the snow, eyes affixed on its prize. There was a brief moment where it curled in on itself, its eight mismatched legs bending low to the ground...and then it pounced, showing surprising agility for such a patchwork monstrosity. The thick snow slowed its progress, but it nonetheless stormed through the drifts with the single-minded intensity of a hungry predator, eight-legged gait somewhere between a spider's crawl and an animal's gallop. Its three heads tossed like angry horses, protoplasm dripping from their gnashing jaws like drool; Hex had tasted viral flesh, and it was hungry for more.

The charging nightmare-beast bore down on the Pengi nearest it. The Spikey head leered at it, mouth opening wider and wider until, had the virus been still-living, its jaw would have been snapped to pieces. The edges of its mouth tore, splitting a seam down the length of its body and allowing the entire upper body to open like one gigantic jaw. From the darkness within, a second mouth bloomed out of the torn Spikey, this one belonging to a spherical IronHead. The iron-hard shield clanged open and shut, large enough to catch just about any frontal attack in its mouth.

While Hex menaced its prey, Egomorph brought their Manifest Conduit to bear. The inner stripe of the outer ring bloomed incandescent scarlet, arcing manifested rage between the inner ring. The gestalt mind's single eye homed in on the other Pengi, imagining it blackening and charring under their wrath. All the while, Hex was bearing down on the other, herding it towards its brethren. Three long streamers of glitch-bearing protoplasm extended from the Pengi's beak, lashing at the virus like cruel whips. At once the herding dog and the whip-cracker, Hex did its best to get the two penguins as close together as possible, as per its directive.

When Egomorph was certain they had the best possible angle, their Conduit lit up, countless bolts of red lightning crackling between the two rings. The inner ring in turn channeled the energy into a tiny red sun at its epicentre, growing with every bolt fed to it. It reached critical mass, and with the scream of thousands, Egomorph let loose the electric torrent, slicing a jagged channel through the snowdrifts. The manifested rage and misery crackled and snapped as it flew, almost sounding like a chorus of harsh voices amidst the howling blizzard, dyeing the snow a glowing red.

Their energy spent for now, Egomorph drifted backwards into the snowdrifts. Held aloft by their Conduit, the waif's feet did not pace against the ground, but dragged against the tiny morphic pool beneath her, a stringless puppet. Hex's many hungry jaws growled and snarled, waiting for the incandescent glow to fade so it could continue its meal.

=Turn Summary=
Passive: FirstBarrier [10HP Barrier]
2. Movement: Advance towards Pengis
3. IronShield1 [2-Hit Shield]
Passive: Hack: PengiC [Glitch]
4. Movement: Herd PengiC towards PengiA
E1: ElecReel1: PengiA [80 [color=orange]Elec[/color] {B}, Spread3 (sides and behind)]
E2: Dodge
If the two remaining Pengi had hesitated when their playmate was ensnared, they positively flinched back as the inevitable result of that grappling followed. After a few more seconds of vaguely horrified spectating, one of them breaks free of its transfixment and begins to waddle as fast as it may back towards to smooth ice, where it might get some more traction and sapped, but the other remains quite pole-axed.

Apparently, this split up simply won't do, and nightmare-fuel navi made towards the two. Despite his surprising agility, the hex-beast still slipped and skidded a little on the snowy terrain, but in many ways this just served to make the jumping, crashing, thing that was after the two penguins even more upsetting. As it half crashed, half slid in front of the fleeing pengi, cutting it off, the virus squeaked and flailed its flippers before turning around and trying to head back the way it came. A large, weaving snowflake appeared from the small action and grew in size as it drifted back and forth towards Hex. more concerned with his meal, Hex crashed right through it in pursuit, but though the projectile dissipated against his barrier, the after effects of the frozen attack the chill of it settled into his various assimilated virus parts, causing most of them to lock up and stop responding to the gestalt's puppetry.

The other Pengi broke free of its stupor and also turned to flee alongside its friend, waving its flippers and sending another poorly aimed snowflake drifting back towards Hex, behind it. This one waved back in forth in just the wrong way, and managed to slip past the monster without actually connecting.

A moment later, Egomorph, or at least the conglomerate controlling her, struck, sending a jolt that encompassed and disabled both viruses, leaving them fallen and twitching in the snow. Though they struggled a little more, as the electric glow cleared each showed places where they were beginning to lose integrity and break down. if Hex wanted to make a meal of these two before they collapsed completely he'd need to be quick. Either way, though, the 'fight' such as it was, was over.



-=Unpicky Eater=-

Hexadecimal.Exe: 160Hp [2-HitShield][Barrier Broken!][Frozen][Snow]
Egomorph.SP: 60Hp [Snow]


10% Ice [Thin swathe around the edge of the lake]
60% Snow [Majority of the area, save a thin strip at the edge of the lake]
30% Sea [Right hand side of the field]

-=Course 1, Served!=-

Spoils: 500z, 12 BugFrags, IceSlasher1(Rare)

Quote (IceSlasher1)

Damage: 100 + Slashing
Accuracy: B
Description: Shoots a short ranged ice blade at an enemy.
Duration: Once
Element: Aqua
Special: Ice Type: This chip counts as Ice Type for the purposes of potentially freezing targets on Aqua Element Terrain or environments, as applicable.
Hex roared in frustration through frozen-shut jaws, scraping ineffectually with its broken paws. The Pengis were right there in front of it, twitching and disintegrating, but it couldn't manage to get its mouths free of the ice. After a few more moments of trying, it straightened up, walking to hover right overtop the two viruses. In lieu of its many mouths tearing at it, the morphic pool sprouted a great many tentacles, dragging the young Pengis under without a fight.

Ego was finally allowed control of her body back, falling to her hands and knees as the Conduit's ruby glow faded. Her dress soaked through in seconds, but for awhile, she was able to put aside the sounds of voracious tearing and viral death-screams in her head, and the Hex-beast shuddering as it mutated itself two new Pengi heads. Instead, she focused on having hands and feet to grasp the snow with, skin to chill and freeze under the unforgiving Sharo blizzard, eyes that she could close and block the world out for just a few moments.

Eventually, the sounds of dying stopped, and the voices murmured 'more' as one; Ego picked herself off her feet, where she knew Hex would be standing, free of its icy prison. Its belly was still split open and scraping short tentacles against the morphic pool, already hungering for another meal. It proceeded deeper into the darkness of the night, and Ego had no choice but to follow. The sensation of her skin numbing under the intense cold was no longer so pleasant, she thought.

<(Battle/Meal #2: Ready)>
The snow continued to drive at the pair as Hex dragged Ego further on his quest for snacks. It wasn't too long before they were approaching the small collection of structures that had been visible in the distance, though even close, it was difficult to discern much, between the dark of night, and the gradually increasing blizzard.

What could be seen was that it looked vaguely like a small fishing village, mostly made of hides, wood and furs, and it was, in truth, only about three or four tent-like structures in size. There was a low wall around the town in a semi-circle, which ended where the barricade met the lake on either side. A small bonfire was burning in the central area between the small huts, and was the only real source of light for miles around. It was visible, because on the curve of the wall that Hex was approaching from, there was an open gateway, looking in.

More pressing were the two shaggy-looking sentinels on either side of the gate, that looked to be dozing and snoring to themselves. As Hex approached though, they both seemed to rouse, shaking themselves off a bit. One gave a small howl at the sight of Hex and sounds of more movement came from the little huts. Two small figures in jaunty red caps appeared from different huts, and jumped, startled, when they looked out to see the creature bearing down on them. In the water by the shore, a yellow submarine floated, dormant, but at the sounds of commotion, several of its little lights flicked on and its motor revved up. This little fishing village apparently didn't mean to go down without a fight.

-=Rudely Awoken=-

SnowBlowA: 100Hp [Snow][Left of Gate]
SnowBlowB: 100Hp [Snow][Right of Gate]
Marina: 120hp [Sea][In the lake, within the wall]
BombBoyA: 80Hp [Ice][Near the open gate]
BombBoyB: 80Hp [Ice][Near the open gate]

-=Midnight Raider=-

Hexadecimal.Exe: 160Hp [Snow]
Egomorph.SP: 60Hp [Snow]


40% Ice [Everything within the walls of the village has been kept clear of snow.]
40% Snow [Everywhere else]
20% Sea [The edge of the lake, on the right as Hex approaches]


Village Wall: 100Hp
Small Dwelling A-D: 30Hp each, in a small circle within the wall.
Bonfire: 20Hp, in the centre of the ring of huts.


Blizzard: There's a snow storm brewing. Each turn, more of the terrain will be converted to Snow.

Snow battered Ego's tiny frame, numbing her under the unyielding wind; she was unable to stop, bound to Hex and the morphic pool they shared. A tiny whimper escaped her blued lips the moment shelter came into view, hoping that the beast would decide to stop inside the wall for but a moment.

Whether it was actually fortunate for Ego or not, Hex did make for the low wall, carving a path through the snow as it went. The scent of viruses was rich in the tiny village, dragging the virophage by its own appetite. The Megalian on its back moaned, the violet fire of its eyes projecting a static-lined barrier around the beast. Ego grimaced as she, too, caught the distinct signature of viruses in the air. The many took notice, crowding at the forefront of her head, straining at the fragile barrier that kept them at bay. "P-Please...please stop," she slammed her eyes shut, folding in on herself as though that would help.

Hex's many mouths hung half-open, drooling protoplasm and gnashing jagged teeth together. Its pool swelled, expelling a new series of viral parts that looked...wrong, even considering the unholy abomination that was his current body. The new body looked smashed together from viruses, all drooping heads and backwards limbs, protoplasm bulging from every crevice. Both bodies eyed the SnowBlow guards, gnashing and hissing to one another, and suddenly the new body charged. Scrabbling across the ground far faster than ought to be possible with such a broken body, the abomination sprinted the short distance to the gate, stopping right between the two of them. Squealing like a feral boar, the viral parts collapsed into a heap on the ground as the beast's back inflated, a bloated tumor of protoplasm swelling and breaking the body. Upon critical mass, it exploded with a sickening squelch, splattering Hex's toxic body all over the village gate.

"Operator, you are needed," Egomorph called, they and Hex dashing into the village walls in the wake of the exploding beast. Ego had not even had time to register the takeover before she felt her eyes open against her will; she was forced into the darkness of her own mind, watching and feeling her body drift through the snow without a shred of input.

"Mmmssjdfhsd...sure, fine, whatever," said Operator grumbled, throwing more chips into his PET without so much as looking. "Gittoutta here, yer ruinin' my buzz...heheh, buzzzzzzz..." he retreated into the depths of his own mind, and happily so, for his mind was wholly intoxicated and full of fun.

[Battlechips uploaded: CountBomb1, ElecReel1, Vulcan2, Sword, Quake1]

Egomorph immediately took the ElecReel for themselves, leaving Hex to keep the rest and use as it desired. "You will consume those which are before us," they ordered, drifting farther into the village. All the fine details of the settlement blurred out; all they could perceive was the viral scent hidden underwater. The Conduit glowing and arcing crimson lightning, they made for the back of the village, any semblance of a sentient mind erased in favour of feral hunger. They snarled and hissed like the lightning they carried at their backs, every bit the manifest of rage and hunger. Reaching as near to the edge of the pool as they dared, they and the manifested misery shrieked in unison, pouring a torrent of electricity into the sea. The pool at Egomorph's feet danced and shivered; even disconnected from the bulk of the beast, Hex hungered.

Moving on predatory instinct, Hex darted right of the BombBoy, attacking from its flank. As it started sliding on the slick ice, a Swordy's helmet bloomed out of the seeping crevice on its underbelly. Lacking any manner of natural traction, Hex puppeted the Swordy into slamming its energy blade into the ice, working to slow its moment down as much as possible. When it had slowed to the point where it felt capable, Hex dug its mismatched paws into the ice and leaped at the BombBoy belly-first. The Swordy pulsed, and mutated mid-leap: the bottom of its helmet opened up around the spike, turning into a circular maw, while the protrusion wavered and pulsed, steel gaining all the movement and consistency of a tongue. The Swordy's blade lodged itself atop the tongue, stabbing at the BombBoy even as the mouth behind it slavered and snapped.

=Turn Summary=
Passive: FirstBarrier [10HP Barrier]
1. Signature: Overwhelm: detonate between SnowBlows [Blast2 Stun, Glitch]
2. Movement: move into village, flank BombBoyA
E1. Movement: move into village, straight ahead
E2. ElecReel1: Marina [80 [color=orange]Elec[/color] {B} (Sea Terrain: +100%), Spread3 (sides and behind)]
3. Sword: plant into Ice, attempt to secure footing (5/6 uses remaining)
4. Sword: BombBoyA [80 Null {B}, Slashing] (4/6 uses remaining)
Having sounded the alarm, the two sentinels draw themselves up and begin to draw in deep, forceful breaths, adding their own potent suction to the howling winds. That they seem to be inhaling rather a lot of snow as they do this doesn't seem to bother either SnowBlow very much.

While the gale drags harshly at Hex and Ego, the volatile abomination races ahead of both of them, making the most of the winds drawing it in before bursting in a manner that any sane person would find, well, rather icky.

The resulting blast splattered both SnowBlows with Hex-goop, and they both began to choke and splutter, losing their drawn breaths as they tried to spit out the slime and hake it off their shaggy bodies. It wasn't really working. The one on the left began to writhe and twitch , twisting about like it was in pain, until, almost comedicly, a pair of stylised strong-man arms burst out from either side of its body and began flexing and posing, seemingly independent of the virus itself. The SnowBlow seemed just as distressed by this development as anything else, and began trying to shake the arms off, as well as clean itself of the hex-gunk. That the arms were providing it a slight red glow of strength didn't really seem to enter into consideration for the virus.

Across from it, the other gate guard disappeared. The goop clinging to it remained perfectly visible, though, and that aside, it was a more or less immobile virus to begin with, so, being suddenly invisible probably wasn't going to be much use, except possibly allowing the mindless beast that was Hex to maybe overlook it.

A moment later, Ego passes between the two struggling guards, passing close to the blissfully warm fire, but then immediately turning away from it again to confront the Marina. For its part, the submarine begins trying to submerge itself, Launching a slow-moving bubble as it does, but before it can get all the way under the water, Ego is standing above it at the edge of the ice. If it had any advanced sensory equipment, what the Marina picked up next would have been an absolute white out on all of it. Lightning flooded into the water, completely covering the submersible virus an covering much of the lake around it besides. For being a little metal sub, with a water alignment, and submerged in a body of water, the level of electrical overkill it received way quite impressive.

All of its little lights flashed and blinked, before an explosion sounded from somewhere inside the virus, and smoke began to pour out of its engine. With a pained shriek, it twisted ,then rolled over in the water, exposing its keel to the air, and acting rather more like a stunned fish than a sub. There was a somewhat despondent whir as it tried to start its motor again, before another explosion and more smoke make it utter a long viral groan. A rent in one side began spilling disintegrating data into the sea. It's attempt at an attack curved left and right, spiralling as it drifted through the air, but by ill luck of timing and position, it helixed right past Ego's diminutive frame without so much as touching her.

While this was going on, Hex was being much more, well, Hex. That is to say, the two viruses in the middle of the village were left to deal with a scrambling, monstrous abomination coming at them with terrifying speed. The both put down their bombs, creating something of a very unsafe barricade shortly behind the gates, but Hex banks to the side, scrabbling uncontrolled on the ice until it grounds itself and pulls the turn in with the help of some more heavy duty anchoring. As wildly as his conglomerate body mass slipped and scrambled on the ice, there was, apparently some sort of instinctive method to the apparent thoughtless hunger, because at just the right moment, he turned the seeming madness of his movements into a very precise stab that shot out and skewered the BoyBomb he had flanked, piercing it clean through the middle and lifting the little virus off the ground. Its feet kicked helplessly as it babbled something unintelligible in viral talk towards the other virus. One thing was sure though; this one wouldn't be pushing his bomb any further tonight.

-=Rudely Awoken=-

SnowBlowA: 100Hp [Snow][Left of Gate][StrongArm: Passive 20Strengthen][Stunned!]
SnowBlowB: 100Hp [Snow][Right of Gate][Invisible][Stunned!]
BombBoyB: 80Hp [Ice][Near the open gate][Behind BoyBombB]

-=Midnight Raider=-

Hexadecimal.Exe: 160Hp [Ice]
Egomorph.SP: 60Hp [Ice]


30% Ice [Everything within the walls of the village has been kept clear of snow.]
50% Snow [Everywhere else, plus a thin ring around the inside of the village all, creeping closer towards the fire.]
20% Sea [The edge of the lake, on the right as Hex approaches]


Village Wall: 100Hp
Small Dwelling A-D: 30Hp each, in a small circle within the wall.
Bonfire: 20Hp, in the centre of the ring of huts.

BoyBombA: 5Hp [StoneBody][Forming a two-block barricade in front of the village gate, but not blocking it]
BoyBombB: 5Hp [StoneBody][Forming a two-block barricade in front of the village gate, but not blocking it]


Blizzard: There's a snow storm brewing. Each turn, more of the terrain will be converted to Snow.
<(Unless I missed a hit from last turn, Hex should still have a 10HP FirstBarrier up)>

"Hmmmmmm, da-da-duuummmmm, ba-dwummmmm..." Arch hummed to himself, mouthing along to the bass-line of some unknown song from a time long past. His hands were playing with the PET more or less unconscious of anything his mind was processing. The time of Operator support was long over.

When Ego could see again, she was choking on ragged breaths on her side. Her dress had knotted into a soaked, twisted rope around her legs; she wanted to remove the bindings, but her arms were still in a death grip around her ribcage and she couldn't move them otherwise. Every sensation was a brand of overstimulation; the nothing had been so dark and complete that having a body was more than Ego could handle in that moment.. Her eye squeezed shut as she went limp in her confines, breathing like she'd never had to before.

The dying village was muted around her. All she could perceive was the roaring in her ears, and the cacophony of her heartbeat.

The winter air shook and trembled in Ego's lungs, but it carries enough chill to clear some of the panic-noise from her head. She remembers Hex's newest monster, thinks she could probably hear it savaging away were her ears working. She had no idea why she was back in control, but there was feeling in her fingers and she had a body she could move. She pried her grip off the hollows of her ribs and managed to lever herself to her knees. Her eye was still straining to keep shut.

Somewhere close to her was radiating heat; Ego could almost feel her body lighting up as it hungrily soaked up whatever warmth was offered. Blind, she gave her dress one good kick, then another, and managed with the third to free her legs enough to crawl. The ice stung her hands and knees but she barely felt it; little noises of relief started leaking from her throat the closer she got to the source of heat.

Yellow-orange bloomed through her eyelid, crackling and moving like a living thing. It was warm, comfortable, at odds with anything she'd processed to this point. A part of Ego remembered that the darkness beneath her feet was still there and still expected use of her. In a moment of sleepy, petulant defiance, though, the girl finally decided that if it wanted to steal this from her, it could either get it over with or let her enjoy this.

And astonishingly enough, no storms of screaming or unending white deaths buried her. She was forgotten, for the moment.

Hex had other things in mind, if what it thought with could indeed be called such.

The beast crashed to the ground, pinning the BombBoy skewered under its patchwork belly. The Swordy's body was now little more than a sharpened tongue and a rosebud of grinding metal teeth. They folded open around the spherical mass of the virus as the tongue retracted, the curved slabs cradling its weight as though the mouth had been deliberately shaped for the consumption of exactly this meal. Hex's body rippled and settled into the ground for a brief moment, pulsing like a busy heart. When it lifted itself back up onto its spider-like arrangement of legs, both Swordy and BombBoy were nowhere to be seen. The body sagged like one big crooked vector, all unevenly weighted parts and mismatched legs and no visible front or back end.

Arch's intoxicated chip-trading and PET-fiddling had resulted in a random assortment of new chips making themselves known to Hex, who gobbled them as is its nature. The toxic white pool at the amalgamate's feet bubbled and surged as it absorbed the data. A single DarkMech rose from nowhere, twitching oddly and twisting its bladed arms but otherwise whole. A mechanical keening rattled from its frame. Hex continues to surge and writhe underfoot.

A series of tendrils dart from the ground, burying and weaving into the seizing body like needles into cloth. The DarkMech was split in half along the middle, Hexplasm eating through each arm until the bladed tip bobbed like a crane's long beak. A pair of Handy viruses grafted themselves to each half, rearranging them into tripods between their new limbs and the shorn half-wheel they dragged behind them. A long trail of tentacles sprouted from the radial center of the parent body, burrowing into the drones and propelling them forward.

They moved by dragging themselves across the ground on their scrabbling hands, far quicker than seemed possible. They wove around the shoddy blockage of abandoned explosives, back the way Hex and Ego had entered the village from, and bore down upon the immobile SnowBlows. Their sword-necks flashed in wide arcs, pushing their bodies off the ground with their hands and swiping as though threshing wheat. The half-DarkMechs were full projections of Hex's hunger, and they bore the same resemblance to feral animals in their manner and their mindless clicking and noising.

While the drones worked to feed the parent, Hex's main body shuddered around its connection to the DarkMech bodies. Viral bodies shifted and rippled into new formations, becoming more quadruped in shape (if forgiving a significant increase in limbs). The Swordy-mouth reappeared keening and waving its cruel tongue at the forefront, nested atop a tangle of forelimbs and shoulders. Its hindquarters were cannibalised from scissoring Boomer halves and unidentifiable others into a series of spring-loaded legs. It sunk low to the ground - a chorus of twanging rang out as the steel clothespins were twisted far beyond their parameters. A tail or two whipped back and forth eagerly.

The campfire crackled, stirring the shadows. The wind howled in Ego's ears and sent the snow swirling in the hollow of the village.

Hex pounced.

The beast's legs mostly destroyed themselves as all the force in their coils released at once. The Boomer pieces were left to fall to the pool below as the body proper was launched, too many hands already reaching out and grasping for the inevitable drop. The Swordy's tongue traced a perfect parabola in the air through Hex's descent onto the final BombBoy, ready to bury him upon point of impact in gripping hands and hungry tendrils. The pillar of viral flesh crashed to the ground at any rate, morphic pool forming seamlessly around it; there it rested, hands busy with their grim work, planted or at least balanced in the ground.

It pulsed.

The DarkMech halves paused their crooked movements. They visibly changed tack as though the machine code had ker-chunked from one protocol to the next; both moved seamlessly as one to skewer any prey they'd left behind on the long blade, and wrap their arm-come-neck around the wound to pin the viruses together. The hands then began dragging the bodies back, prey or no prey, to feed the beast.

Ego rested, more or less blind and deaf to the calamity that was her Navi. Removed from her control, a long coil of tendrils stretched and coaxed themselves from the edges of her annex of Hex's pool. From her position near the campfire they rippled out, through the snow like snakes in winter towards the pool wherein the Marina lay. Arms upon arms stretched across its bulky frame, burrowed into the rents down its yellow plating and affixed their hold - it would never know the simplicity of deletion. Out of the water it went, dragged by the inexorable force of a thousand handless arms, and still Ego dozed. It disappeared into the white depths centimeters from her back without a sound.

-Turn Summary-
1. MachineSword: SnowBlowA, SnowBlowB [60x2 Null {B}, Slashing, Wide Attack, To-All Stunned Targets]
2. Movement: Pounce on BombBoyB
3. Sword: BombBoyB [80 {B}, Slashing, 3/6 uses]
4. Dodge, consume all available bodies

E1. Movement: crawl to Campfire
E2. Rest by Campfire
Finding the one fire in the storm to be her current solace from Hex's madness, the little girl crawled up to the flames to be comforted by its warmth, even if only for a brief moment, while her host continued to feed on the village inhabitants not too far away. With both of the shaggy viruses being frozen by the exploding amalgamation Hex had unleashed earlier, they were quickly consumed by the corrupted DarkMech's blades, the virus having risen from one of Arch's intoxicated slot-ins. Even with the earlier glitchy mess turning one of them invisible, they were quickly diced apart, while Hex turned its attention on the last remaining BombBoy.

Through its large shades, it was difficult to figure out what exactly the virus was thinking, but it was probably nothing very peaceful as it was hacked apart by a grotesquely summoned Swordy's tongue-blade, clearing out the last of the remaining viruses. As it fell into the snow, all of the lifeless husks that used to inhabit the area were pulled into Hex's body to be consumed, including the little bit of being that belonged to Ego, who was still resting by the fire. Both of the BoyBombs still remained dormant, and could easily be converted to battlechip data. The blizzard around them continued to rage mercilessly, and the fire was unable to keep up with it, putting it out before she could realize it.

-=Rudely Awoken=-

SnowBlowB: SUSHI'D

-=Midnight Raider=-

Hexadecimal.Exe: 160Hp [Ice]
Egomorph.SP: 60Hp [Ice]


20% Ice [Everything within the walls of the village has been kept clear of snow.]
60% Snow [Everywhere else, plus a thin ring around the inside of the village all, creeping closer towards the fire.]
20% Sea [The edge of the lake, on the right as Hex approaches]


Village Wall: 100Hp
Small Dwelling A-D: 30Hp each, in a small circle within the wall.
Bonfire: 20Hp, in the centre of the ring of huts.

BoyBombA: 5Hp [StoneBody][Forming a two-block barricade in front of the village gate, but not blocking it]
BoyBombB: 5Hp [StoneBody][Forming a two-block barricade in front of the village gate, but not blocking it]


Blizzard: There's a snow storm brewing. Each turn, more of the terrain will be converted to Snow.

-=Meal 2 Consumed!!=-
Bill: BoyBomb1HP: 100
Properties: Normal
Object Damage: 220 + Blast3
Damage Method: Throw, Knockback, Microburst, Pull, Gravity, Telekinesis
Attack Damage: 220 + Blast3
Accuracy: Not Applicable
Description: Creates a BoyBomb1 on the field directly before you. The bomb may be pushed around until the end of the turn. The bomb will explode at the beginning of the following turn, dealing extremely heavy damage to anything nearby. Be somewhere else when that happens....
Duration: Until destroyed or the beginning of next turn.
Element: Null
Special: If enough damage is dealt to this object to destroy it, it will immediately explode instead.
Trader Rank: D
Battlechip, 900z, 24 BugFrags
Inhuman screams bled into the wind. It was not the cries of the viruses falling to steel teeth and alien hunger that awoke Ego, but the loss of her bastion of warmth. With the village emptied, the campfire was snuffed out by the dark Sharo winter, and there was nothing more to distract the girl from the horrors around her.

Her eye fluttered open just in time for her to watch a tentacle drag the last remnants of the Marina under; she watched it go, gone stiff as the ice she rested on. Her newfound lucidity added a fresh layer of terror to the beast she was shackled to, made her that much more aware of its wrongness. She half-remembered the strange woman with fire in her hair, standing in Hex's maw with darkness and fear streaked across her face. She remembered all too well the endless bodies already beneath her feet.

Ego watched, frozen in fear, as Hex continued its grim feasting. The corrupted reached the parent body, blades heavy with the rent bodies of the Snowblows; even now, their glitches persisted. The many hands and claws around Hex's base reached for the dying viruses; their moans as they were pulled in were weak, and pitched up for one brief instant before being silenced.

The beast pulsed.

When the pillar of flesh was finished its consumption, it sent a final web of tendrils sweeping over the dead village. The defunct BoyBombs were quickly wrapped up and dragged under; a few of the simple dwellings were prodded at, rich in the smell of their late inhabitants, but ultimately were tossed aside in favour of other, tastier morsels, like the data leaked from its kills.

Its work finished, it levered itself back down until its legless hindquarters were resting on the ground. The maw it had just lowered onto the three viruses was facing Egomorph with teeth from too many sources. The shivers that ran through her only halfway had to do with the cold; she didn't relax when she felt protoplasm yank at her feet, pulling her into the endless white and leaving her there for time to forget. The body followed suit, sinking to the ground and disappearing like a magic act. The morphic pool was all that remained; one static tear in the Net later, that was gone too. The beast's hunger, for now, was sated.

<(Jacking out.)>