An Abandoned Village

Hades Net is a fiery hellhole known for scorching heat and an unquelled, dangerous virus population. These factors together make it hard to imagine anyone settling down there, but apparently, someone had in the past. Abandoned wooden huts dot the landscape, although many lay on their sides in a pile of their own debris. Some have been burned or dismantled entirely. The ground is unusually charred even for this net and bits of metallic weapons are lodged into the ground, shattered into pieces by some great battle. Anything that was in tact and possibly worth something was taken some time ago.

Ordinarily the place was gloomy and dark, but not right now...

Flames bristled and cracked off the body of Lee, who stood in the center of town, dressed in her red armor and helmet. She held her spear in two hands, away from her body and perfectly horizontal. As she did, a swarm of white, transparent figures flew from the houses, heading for her. She began to spin her weapon, then braced her legs and began cutting down the ghosts. She finished by slamming down the spearhead on the last straggler. "It's going to take more than illusions to beat me!" she announced, smiling despite the sweat listening all over her exposed flesh.

"I don't want to do this any more than you do! I don't have your stupid armor!" a voice called out, seeming to come from three directions at once.

"Liar, I saw it! I'm not dumb!" Lee retorted, turning her head back and forth to try to find the speaker. She wouldn't notice DragonierMan's arrival.
Great black wings beat the sky as a dragon's roar echoed off the dilapidated buildings and charred battlefield. The dragon blotted out the sun with his wings before swooping down toward Lee. It passed low over her head, blowing dust and ash through the air before pitching to the side and coming to rest on the roof of one of the nearby buildings that looked the most stable. Its claws dug into the timber and it gave one more roar. The creature contorted and grew smaller, compacting into itself until it no longer existed. Leaving behind a half-naked man that stood upon the ramshackle roof. He was only wearing his headband, which whipped about behind him on two long tails of cloth, and leather codpiece.

"Behold The Ardant, Dauntless Dragon Knight. Vigilant Partisan DragonierMan.EXE!!" he bellowed from his perch, adding the 'dragon' part to his title. "I have already defeated Alex, your leader, and recovered the armor she stole. Surrender now or I will hunt you down just as I did her." As he bellowed his commands he took the time to look about him, trying to figure out which ruined hiding spot his target was hiding in. "I will give you to the count of three."

"One." He pointed his hand at one of the more fragile looking buildings as energy welled within his buster-palm. The sphere of energy shot from his hand to blast into the building.

"Two." He pointed his hand at another fragile looking building and shot a blast into that building.

"Boy, you look a little bit like an exhibitionist when you come in like that!" Lee laughed, as though such happenings weren't par for the course with the names and outfits Yasu encouraged NS officers to use. "You're almost naked! Is your butt covered?" she asked, looking amused.

"Yuck... I don't know what you're going on about! It sounds like you're as crazy as she is!" the disembodied voice insulted him. "Put some pants on!"

"On the contrary! Why don't you take your clothes off and prove you didn't steal that armor, huh?!" Lee provoked the hidden magician. DragonierMan's gonna blow up all your hiding places!" she added, seeing that he was now doing so.

"Alex?! She's my enemy too! She and her ninja attacked our beach citadel just a while ago!" the voice complained. "I didn't steal your armor and I'm not working for her!/

"Come on, we saw you all run out of the camp together and I've even seen that you're wearing the armor under your robe!" Lee reiterated. "Or if you didn't, come out and show us!"

"Newsflash: not everyone wants to walk around half naked like you guys! I may be an evil troll, but I have at least a few standards!" Trik retorted. "I'm going to come out and we'll talk it over rationally."

"You just said you're evil! How can I believe you now?" Lee asked,sounding genuinely confused.

"Hey, from where I'm standing, you two look like the bad guys," she sighed, materializing in the air as her witch's broom shot out from a relatively in tact hut. Her form slowly became more solid on top of the broom: she was a woman of average height and build, dressed in an unremarkable black robe and cape. The little flesh DragonierMan could see was green and perhaps tough, but her facial features were mod or less normal... except for her gleaming yellow eyes and fangs. She certainly looked like the evil one in the situation. She wore no shoes, although that particular detail didn't seem to matter much... Appearance-wise, she looked a lot like the troll that had kidnapped one of Yasu's soldiers earlier, only not as ugly. "Alex is our common enemy... she stole my monster cauldron too-"

"Stole your cauldron?! How does someone steal a cauldron?" Lee laughed, as if this proved the lie.

"Because she has a giant," the magician spat. "That also helped her rip apart my brother's tower."

"Time out! Group huddle!" Lee called, pressing her hands into a "T." Trik sighed and rolled her eyes. Lee waited for her ally to come down to ground level, then wrapped one arm around his broad shoulders. "I've got two plans! Number one:we rush her and rip her clothes off. Two: we get her aroused so that her armor shines and we'll see her boobs glowing. That's tough though because I have no idea what an evil troll woman is into."

"Are you two making a plan? How about this: why don't you tell me about this silly armor and I will work on crafting you a new set? I'm an expert at making things like that," the troll offered. "And in exchange, the NS helps me get my cauldrons back."

"You'll doublecross us! You did say you were evil!" Lee reminded the troll, pointing her weapon out in an accusatory fashion.

"Honestly, that's more my brother's thing. But it's the family business and... uh, it's a long story. What do you too want to do?"

"I don't trust her... She hasn't got any backup... Let's just rush her and if we're wrong, we apologize! That sounds good, right?"
At Lee's comment on DragonierMan's nakedness, Drago scoffed and crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm here to cover your ass. I would think that you would be appreciative to be teaming up again." Then he looked around for the disembodied voice as she too made a comment about his nakedness. He then flaunted his muscles to the surroundings by doing a few body-builder poses. "Take a good... long... look. The next time you will see it is up close and personal." He then began to systematically destroy the broken buildings with energy blasts.

While he was destroying a few hiding spots, Lee and the disembodied voice continued to talk. At hearing that the voice was going to come out of hiding, Drago stopped blowing stuff up. He looked up as the voice materialized as a black-cloaked witch riding a broomstick. From his position on the roof of one of those abandoned buildings, she didn't look that bad. She might even be pretty attractive under all those clothes. The yellow eyes and fangs didn't phase Drago, he just smiled with his own fanged-smile.

Drago listened as Trik recounted how she wasn't a member of Alexis and that Alex stole her cauldron. His smile broadened at the mention of a giant on Alex's side. A giant! That might be worth hunting. A giant would give him a real fight.

But his reverie was interrupted as Lee called a group huddle. Drago leapt down from his perch and jogged on over to Lee, who wrapped an arm around his broad shoulders. He leaned an ear closer as Lee went over her plans. Both seemed to revolve around seeing what was under her robes. Drago wasn't adverse to either plan. But before he could agree to anything, Trik interrupted them.

Trik offered a third option. If they told her about the armor and helped her get her cauldron back, she would make more. Lee wasn't into the plan. She wanted to jump the witch and take it from there. Drago looked up at Trik and called up to her. "I will do one better. Give us back the armor that you took and we will introduce you to the one who made it, perhaps you can help her make more, and we will get your cauldron back. General Yasu has no love for Alex and her Alexis organization." Drago smiled and ground one fist into his other hand. "I enjoy a good hunt. I just hope this giant of theirs is there too, I haven't had a good fight for days."
"Yeah, except one problem with your stupid plan: I don't have your armor!" Trik snapped, growing tired of explaining herself. "I don't know what she thought she saw, but I've never even seen this armor you're talking about. I also don't care about learning who made the armor. I'm going to make you replacement armor to fill in for that armor that YOU guys lost, not that I stole. In exchange, you guys are going to get my magic cauldrons back. That's the deal."

"There's just one problem! You have no leverage! We know you still have our armor right now, no matter what you say! And we're not doing you any free favors!" Lee snapped in response. Her stubbornness was either a boon towards getting the armor back or an inhibitor towards any kind of mutually beneficial negotiation. "If you don't have it, just take off your clothes and prove it!"

"No way! I'm not stripping down just so you can see that I'm not wearing your armor!" the troll growled. "Listen, I need my cauldrons back. I can't grow my monsters right now, and they're all useless when they're not giants, which means that it's just me and my brother... we'll never get those cauldrons back ourselves. You guys have to help!"

Lee folded her arms and shook her head. "We'll talk that over with our boss later. For now, you've got stolen property. We're not going to help you out just because you're giving back what you stole!"

The troll grit her teeth irritably, then sighed. She lifted her robe in the back, bringing it high enough to show her short black boots and bare knees. "See... Is this your armor?!" she growled, moving her hands underneath her robe. After two metallic snaps sounded, she brought out a black, armor bikini bottom, bearing the image of a horned skull at the center of its waistline. It didn't look like anything DragonierMan remembered seeing as part of the armor collection.

"..." Lee was quiet, bending forward to inspect the armor carefully. "Uh... I thought our stuff was golden... Time out! Another huddle!" she called, pressing her hands into a "T" yet again. Trik shook with rage as she struggled to remain quiet. "Alright, Drago... that isn't our armor. BUT, remember: she's a magician! For all we know, she made that as a trick. I saw something shining underneath her robe, AND she escaped from the castle along with Alex. She must have stolen it! She couldn't have just been wearing armor underneath her robe for no reason, right?" She brought her cheek next to DragonierMan's and whispered quietly. "We need to see under that robe. She's got to have that armor, I'm sure of it! If you wanna just yank it off of her, I won't tell Yasu or Dee, promise!" she mentioned, as though she thought DragonierMan might be worried about either of them finding out about other affairs he was pursuing.

Of course, if DragonierMan was sufficiently convinced at this point that Trik didn't have the armor, negotiations ought to be his first order of business. He needed to decide whether he trusted the troll to craft new armor... or, perhaps more importantly, where the first armor had gone in the first place. Alex didn't have it, so if Trik didn't either, that left only the giant... it didn't sound like anyone else had been spotted fleeing the camp.
The witch brought out a black armored bikini bottom, bearing the image of a horned skull at the center of its waistline, as proof that she wasn't wearing the armor DragonierMan had been sent to retrieve. This gave the nearly-naked man pause. It clearly was not in the style of the armors that he had seen before. His hand came up and stroked his chin and his brow furrowed out of reflex. Lee also seemed just as confused at this turn of events, looking concertedly at the garment before calling for another time out.

She got Drago in another huddle and insisted that the troll still had the glowing, golden armor. And once again suggested that Drago strip Trik of her dignity to get at the stolen suit. Then she told him, with her cheek pressed to his, that she wouldn't tell either Yasu or Dee. Scout's promise. Drago cocked an eyebrow at the insinuation, but didn't pursue it.

He turned back to the troll after the huddle ended. He coughed into his hand to clear his throat before addressing the woman floating on the broom. He tried to sound professional and empathetic. "My colleague here is still under the impression that you possess the armor we are seeking. Specifically that you have an item of goldish-hue on your person. Perhaps it is not the armor that you posses, but rather a locket or something else that has a golden shine. If you would be so kind as to show us this golden item, we may be able to clear up these doubts."

To the untrained eye, Drago looked like he was standing relatively placidly, as if he was planning on finishing this up diplomatically. To the warrior's eye though, his muscles were tensing, readying his body to spring into action. His bare feet dug into the earth with sharp taloned-toenails. His knees bent in at the slightest of angles. Inside he was warring against his better judgment of just jumping Trik and sorting this out through force over acquiring a potential ally for the NS through peaceful negotiations. The "jump her and then sort it out later" side was slowly edging out its opponent. Especially since Lee was also egging him towards that solution.

It eventually won out due to the dragon's nature. Regardless of whether or not Trik complied or continued to deny, Drago leapt up at Trik and attempted to grab her or knock her off her broom [equipping RageClaw1 if needed]. Leathery wings quickly unfurled out from the flesh of his back as he took to the air. He beat his wings several times in rapid succession to eat up the air and bring him into striking distance. If he succeeded in his attack, he would drag Trik down to the ground near where Lee stood. And tear her clothes to pieces with his claws.
"What are you, some sort of magpie? Look at that: black underwear and black robes. I clearly don't have any gold!" the sorceress argued, waving the risque metallic garment to show what she meant. As DragonierMan made a lunge for her, however,she dropped it and put both hands on her broom. She used it to stop him from getting his hands on her, although he succeeded in knocking her down with the strength of his body. She then held him away at arm's length, like she was fighting off a rabid dog.

"You insane dragon, get the hell off me!" she cried, kicking her legs. As she did, DragonierMan began tearing apart her cloak, which came apart rather easily. "Ah! Stop!" she commanded, but far too late; the whole thing was now torn open into a mat that lay beneath her. Long, black hair spilled messily from her hood as it came apart. Beneath the robe she wore only an armored bikini top, to match the bottom... which she no longer wore. Both of her hands, each with long, black fingernails, left the broom and crossed between her legs for modesty's sake. Her body was far more glamorous than one would imagine, but her skin was a little coarse, as befit a troll.

The only source of gold anywhere on her were two golden hoop earrings, each occupying a separate earlobe.

"Whoops... I guess I was wrong! Tee hee..." Lee laughed, backing away as if worried she was next.

Trik said nothing and glared up at the NS subordinate, her chest heaving due to her accelerated breathing. A sort of purple blush had overtaken her face, probably because her blood wasn't the natural color. "Satisfied?" she spat, screwing up her eyes in a challenging expression.
"No." DragonierMan stated blandly as he stood up and walked over to where the black bikini-bottom lay and tossed it to Trik. "Now that, that is out of the way, we can move on." He was not happy that the troll did not have what they were seeking, it just meant that he would have to do more work to finish this mission. However, at least the perks of his job entitled him to his fair share of titillation. "General Lee, I hope you are satisfied now that this woman does not have our armor." He said with a half-sigh, before fixing his stare on Lee.

"There is nothing for us here now, we should track down this giant of Alexis." He flexed a taloned hand, "And delete him. Hopefully he has the armor and puts up a good fight, or I will be very cross for all this wasted time." He then looked over at Trik, probably recovered a bit and huddled under her torn robes. "If your cauldrons are there as well, I will return them to you. As payment for what has transpired today."

"Now tell me where this giant is with your cauldrons and leave the rest to us." He doubled forward onto his hands and knees and began to grow. His wings spread wide as his skin turned scaly and black. His jaw elongated and his nostrils flared. His tail grew out and swished around behind him as he took once more the mantle of a dragon. He swept a wing out to scoop Lee onto his back and awaited Trik's coordinates before swooping off into the sky.
"Yeah, I guess uh... I guess she doesn't have it! I maaaay have just seen the shine underneath her robe and thought it was our armor. Who wears armor panties anyway?" Lee laughed, as though the wardrobe of the typical NS officer was much more reasonable. "But he who never gambles never profits! Is that how the phrase goes?"

Ignoring Lee, the witch/troll crawled up onto her knees, continuing to block her nude lower body with both hands. "Who are you calling a waste of time?!" she complained. "There should be a knight around to slay a beast like you! You can find the giant at our old tower... she's using it for something or other. My guess is that the cauldrons are still in there. The coordinates are in beach net. And if you and that giant delete each other while you're fighting, that's fine by me!"

*DragonierMan received Coordinates.DAT*

"Hey, that's where my sister is! I'll bet she's fighting the giant right now! That's no good... a giant would be hard for me to take down, let alone my sister! She's really short, you know?" Lee gasped, as is the ninja's height ought to be considered an indicator of her abilities.

"While you two were goofing off here. Idiots..." Trik scoffed, slowly climbing up the length of her broom in order to rise to her feet without exposing herself.

"We gotta hurry! No time to waste!" Lee pronounced, running off like she planned to traverse the whole distance by foot. "Actually... I guess its better if we just use a gateway," she realized, changing direction.

((Topic opening soon in Beach Net))