...Stays in NetVegas

A piercing black light slammed into the ground, the resultant particles quickly reforming into a fluid, black form. Instantly, four luminescent globes — one red, one pink, one green, and one blue — slammed into the black form, generating an explosion of white light. As the fusion navi stepped out into the unfamiliar network, he yawned groggily and plodded forward, looking from side to side. "We're b-busting already?" he asked, flexing his fingers experimentally, "Y-You s-said that w-we navis are supposed to have a f-full sixteen standard s-sleep cycles." Rass paused, fiddled with his helmet, and shrugged his shoulders. "But then, I d-don't ever recall you adhering t-to that rule, now that I think about it." When Suien didn't respond, Rass adjusted his scarf, patted his fingers against each other, and glanced around the strange new area. Taking note of the sleek crimson lines of the NetVegas area, he began to access a communications link with the real world "H-Hey uh... where are we?"

Now's not the time, Rass, said Suien suddenly, interrupting Rass' communications uplink with his own window and causing the small pink navi to fall backwards in surprise, I need you to find the memory backup hub for this security camera and copy some video data. I've already briefed Tem on the details, so all you'll need to do is find the hub and read the data.

"Oh... uh... okay S-Suien," said Rass, crawling to his feet and brushing himself off gingerly, "What's the h-hurry though? Is the v-video something important?"

Argo chortled, appearing on Rass' chest in a flash of green. You have NO idea, Rasshole! he laughed, You might even say that the video is of explicit importance!

Argo, that doesn't even make any sense, linguistic or otherwise snipped Tem, sweeping across Rass' left shoulder with a bit more force than necessary, Regardless, it is imperative that we begin this search immediately. Given that our netOp may very well be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation, we should get moving on our way to determine whether a risk of prosecution exists.

Yeah, sniggered Argo, You might even say we need to work *explicitly* fast!

Tem glanced wearily to her side, regarding the laughing green subsystem with a Is something malfunctioning within your processor, or is the network just making you retarded?

Rass gulped as he started down the network, What... what could Suien have done...?
(OMFG! YOU IS BACK!? Welcome back you rasshole!)

As Rass began his lively stroll into the network, looking around for the video of his netop's..."adventure" last night, but, only to be caught up by several floating heads in bubbles across the usual normal terrain, guess the Rasshole should saddle up his combat processes and get ready to defend himself.

Magalian-AA: 130 (aqua aura: 10 HP)
Megalian-AB: 130 (aqua aura: 10 HP)
Megalian-AC: 130 (aqua aura: 10 HP)
Megalian-AD: 130 (aqua aura: 10 HP)

Rass"hole".EXE: 100 HP

Panels: 100(0)% Normal

Battle 1 to recover the video of importance...BEGIIIIIIIN!
"Wh...what?! Suien, you can't b-be s-serious!" shouted Rass, blatantly ignoring the viruses that quickly appeared in front of him, "I m-m-mean, just think of what M-MeleeMan will think..."

"That's it! That's what we'll need to figure this out!" shouted Suien, his dishevaled image appearing on a communications window besides Rass, "If Ran... I mean, if that person has a PET on her... or him, whatever - then we can try to recover it and check their ID files."

Great, so why don't you just jack us out of the network and rummage through its stuff then? asked Tem cooly, I should think that would be a more feasable solution than hijacking a motel security camera to view previous footage. Better yet, why don't you just wake it up and ask it what its name is. If it turns out to be Rania, then you're probably better off just confronting her and dealing with it. It would certainly save us the trouble of having to battle viruses of an unknown fighting index in our current condition.

Rass' audio sensors immediately picked up. Before Suien could respond, the pink navi glanced downward at his body in horror. "C-C-Current condition?" stammered Rass, examining the fusionist protoplasm with urgency, "Wh-What do you mean?"

Tem swirled into existence on Rass' chest, Honestly Rass, why bother with the system administrator position if you're not even bothering to check the vital configurations at bootup. she sighed, After you entered sleep mode, Suien, being the genius he is, had an interesting little programming wager at that last bar we were at. Turns out he's not the master programmer he claims he is, and managed to disable certain key functions of the fusionist protoplasm. Tem disappeared as she fused with Rass' diagnostic programs, sending lines of green code across Rass' pupils. As you can see, our fusionist protoplasm no longer has the same cauterizing properties that we once had. Moreover, and perhaps even more alarming, is the decrease in synchronization. The data readout ceased as Tem reappeared on Rass' chest, On one level, that means that we'll no longer be able to use Argo's overclocking technique though to be honest, it isn't much of a loss. What's worse is the fact that the fusion bonds that are keeping us operating and together are...


Before Rass could respond, Suien interjected "Look, the only way we're going to be able to assess the extent of the damage is by continuing to battle. We won't know the extent of the programming damage unless we test your combat variables. As for the desynchronization, I'll see if I can isolate the leak, but it couldn't hurt to try to work together. Even I don't really understand the finer mechanics of your fusion, but maximizing efficiency is our best option" Glancing nervously to the side, and twirling a battlechip between his fingers, he muttered, "...and let's not forget that we have a little issue of finding that video information?"

Oh right. Working together. snapped a sarcastic Tem, The power of teamwork, brilliant. That's going to solve ALL of our problems, isn't it? Just finish the job and be done with it!


Foolishly?! FOOLISHLY?! Listen, you robotic son of a binome...

Rass clutched his head painfully, trying to shut out the voices that threatened to distract him from the battle at hand. Why is everyone so angry at each other? Is it something I did? he thought, feeling the familiar sensation of a battlechip download surge through his circuitry. Green coils of lightning played across his right arm as the curved metal blade materialized in Rass' hand. As he gave the weapon an experimental swing, Rass was horrified to see Ishamel's crimson presence surge into his arm. RELINQUISH CONTROL, CORE SYSTEM shouted Ishamel, IF SUBSYSTEM TEM BELIEVES THAT THE OPTIMAL COURSE OF ACTION IS TO WORK ALONE, THEN USE TEAMWORK AND PROCEED TO VACATE MY IMMEDIATE AREA. SIMPLIFY: GET OUT OF MY WAY! The targeting subsystem whirred with effort as countless variables were crunched, seeking the correct angle to throw. With great effort and a overpowering throw that left Rass stumbling for footing, the boomerang was released, sending the viridian projectile screaming toward the viral quartet. The metallic blade sang as it sliced through the air, but Rass had little time to enjoy it as Ishamel was forced from his hand, leaving it limp and somewhat numb. Tem seized the moment, hijacking the fusion navi's legs and arms and forcing him into a crouch.

You're idiots. You're all idiots. Every last one of you. she scowled, charging a burst of air into the fusionist protoplasm, If you want anything done, I guess you just have to do it yourself! Just lay there, I'll take care of everything here!

Pah, that's what she said! laughed Argo.


"Guys, guys!" hissed Suien, hunching over the PET and pulling around the corner to avoid a passing security guard, "Seriously, get it together!" The netOp slid in several more battlechips, hoping that Rass would have the capacity to use... well, at least SOME of them correctly. Suien massaged his temples, realizing that the splitting headache from the hangover was probably not going to get better anytime soon. "They seem to be fighting a lot more than normal," he muttered, fiddling with a few dials on his PET, "perhaps it's just the stress of the situation, but I can't believe that something like that could trigger such a drastic change in sync level. I hope it wasn't a programming error..."


Rass felt the now-familiar recoil of the airshot battlechip slam into his body, propelling him skyward as the vacuum exploded into the network floor. As the small pink navi was propelled upward into the sky, he could feel his body contorting in mid-air, performing a visually impressive, but gut-twisting array of spins and twists, his arms extended downward. At Tem's direction, Rass' hands appeared to cave in, filling themselves with pockets of air. With a deafening pop, the fusion navi sent a pair of compressed air bursts to earth. Elecreel1 configuration settings suggest that the optimal target is a properly grounded one... not that any of you idiots would have bothered to take that into consideration. said Tem. Rass could barely pay attention as he struck the ground in an awkward roll, grunting with exertion. No sooner had he regained his balance did Rass' now-azure hands thrust forward, fingers extended, as Tem's narration continued. It's not a surprise that I'm the brains of this operation. The best "teamwork" I could ask for is all of you sitting still and letting me do what I need to do, she growled. Yellow coils of lightning leaped and arced between Rass' fingertips, forming a luminous web of energy between his two hands. A split second later, a vicious set of thunderbolts erupted, sending the acrid scent of ozone throughout the area. Residual sparklets of light fizzled out, and wispy tendrils of smoke trailed from the fusion navi's fingers as Tem bolted from his arms as quickly as she had come. Immediately, Rass' arms were seized by prickly numbness, and dangled uselessly from his side. He tried to move them, but the protoplasm would not budge. "H...Hey!" he stammered, taking a step back in panic, "I... I c-cant m-move my..."

Rass was cut off as his third subsystem slammed into his hands, rendering them once more beyond his control. Tem and Ishamel hadn't exactly been gentle with their commandeering of Rass' limbs, but Argo was far less accommodating, brandishing a shimmering laser blade in one hand and an extremely rude gesture in the other. There's really only one way to play this! Ranged chips? Frilly acrobatics? Idiocy, that's what! he roared, cutting a fierce, glowing arc through the air as he began his charge, There's only one language we should be thinkin' about here, and that's good old-fashioned melee-painese! Argo laughed mirthlessly at his own joke as Rass leaped headlong into the head-shaped viruses and let loose a spiraling cut clockwise around his body. The humming energy blade sang as it sliced through the air, tracing a luminous trail in its wake. As he landed the first time, he dragged the blade along the ground, scoring the network with deep cuts as he darted across the battlefield, opting to deliver a second upward slice at the offending viruses before retreating back from Rass' hands, leaving them limp and lifeless once more.

Gasping for breath and struggling to move his crippled hands, Rass scrambled backwards, trying to find some way of escaping the remaining opponents. As a packet of Areagrab data integrated itself into his systems, the fusion navi gulped, squared his legs, and watched each virus carefully, prepared to trigger the teleportation maneuver battlechip should an attack come his way.

But at this rate... he thought, eyes narrowing with concern, I won't be able to move my arms without aid from the support systems. With the three of them bickering like they are... do I stand a chance?


1: Boomerang to Megalian-A (A, B, and C) (60 damage, Wood)
2: Airshot to ground, launch self into into air
Fusionist Physics (passive, knockbacks 2 enemies per turn): Knockback Megalian-A (A and B) to the ground
3: Elecreel1 to Megalian-A (A, B, and C) (80 damage, Elec, increased accuracy against ground)
4: Widesword to Megalian-A (B, C, and D) (80 damage)
5: Widesword to Megalian-A (A, C, and D) (80 damage)
6: Areagrab-assisted dodge
RASS, with the "assistance" of his subsystems, begins to lay on the viruses.

First, Ishmael, controlling his Boomerang, targets the Magalian group and sends the Boomerang spinning through the Auras, dispelling them for the moment.

Tem takes this chance to launch RASS into the air with an Airshot before knocking down two of the Magalians with compressed bursts of air propelled from the fusion navi's ligaments. Charging wild and powerful burst of electricity between the fusionist protoplasm's hands, Tem releases a air-rending Elecreel at the Magalians, dealing some major damage to the group.

Argo makes RASS rush into the fray, full of masculine chauvinism, as he swings the Widesword heavily and yet with some sort of flowing grace, at the viruses, cutting down the floating heads in a matter of seconds.

He kind of warps ahead after grabbing the rewards. Man those arms and hands must feel numb.

Magalian-AA: DELETED
Megalian-AB: DELETED
Megalian-AC: DELETED
Megalian-AD: DELETED


Panels: 100(0)% Normal

Get: AuraHead1, 750z
Hmph, I told you that this would be a breeze with my brilliance. Everything has transpired according to my flawless calculations... no thanks to you imbeciles. Tem swirled into existence on Rass' chest, eyes gazing upward toward the fusion navi's face. Now let's get going — I'm not looking forward to spending any more time than necessary in this disgraceful search of this disgraceful network.

As if! It was that last display of badass-ery that let us win the fight! Pah, your stupid girly tricks couldn't match up to my peerless melee handling any day of the week! retorted Argo, colliding angrily with Tem on Rass' chest, knocking the wind out of the poor navi and sending him gasping for breath.

"Ah... guys?" muttered Rass, standing over the shimmering blue battlechip data that had since materialized in front of him, "S-Sorry to interrupt, b-but I think there may be an issue h-here." As the fusion navi attempted to move his arms using his own volition, he was met with a painful resistance. A surge of electricity coursed across his limp arms, but not a single digital muscle tensed at his command. As his subsystems continued to bicker atop his chest, the fusion navi could only stare wistfully at the battlechip data before sighing, extending a foot, and allowing it to upload through his body.


Meanwhile, in the real world, Suien barely noticed the new battlechip deposit itself from the PET's side receptacle as his fingers flew across the keyboard. Oh this is bad thought the netOp, brow furrowing as he read through the data, For some reason, the Fusionist Protoplasm seems to be losing its adhesive properties — without any corresponding increase in synchronization! Really, the way those four have been pulling and tugging at Rass' systems, the adhesive index of the protoplasm has been the only thing that's been keeping the subsystems from literally tearing themselves apart! If that value continues to deteriorate... The raven-haired operator shook his head, frowning. Contrary to Tem's accusations, I don't think that this is a result of a faulty programming code. To change the physical properties of a corporeal net-based form would mean that I'm some kind of programming prodigy when tanked. The rate of deterioration suggests that this is a result of gradual misuse of the fusionist protoplasm. he mused, bringing a set of slender fingers to his chin, But then, how could we be misusing the fusionist protoplasm? I've looked at the baseline code for a few of the upgrades and from what I can understand, it's based on a recovery-style format, right? All of my programming is technically by the book, so why is there misuse there?

Suien, frantically running scans on the dual screens of his PET, didn't notice his visitor until he received a tap on the back. Nearly jumping out of his seat, the lanky netOp found himself face to pectoral with the largest man he had ever seen. The tall, thuggish-looking male of Netopian descent loomed over him, the morning light reflecting over his dark sunglasses. The man crossed his muscular arms over his chest and stared at Suien, who could only stare, mouth agape at the stranger. The thought of running briefly crossed Suien's mind, but it was quickly dispelled by the timely realization that the towering assailant was blocking the only exit to the motel. He was cornered. Alone. In a seedy NetVegas motel. Wearing only a robe and facing a huge dark-skinned muscular male. Nowhere in the history of... well, history... has a situation like this ended well.

"I... I... I c-can explain," he stammered.

((Battle 2))

Amidst all this arguing, confusion, and threatening encounters, RASS had found himself trudging along in sand.

It didn't seem like quicksand, but it was... sand, nonetheless. Apparently viruses resided in this sandy terrain, and they did not like RASS suddenly coming into their territory, so they attacked.

This group consisted of high speed type viruses, something one really shouldn't be trifling with on sand terrain.

Hoo boy.

DarkMechA: 120 HP
DarkMechB: 120 HP
DarkMechC: 120 HP
FishyA: 90 HP
FishyB: 90 HP
FishyC: 90 HP
MomograA: 60 HP (Burrowed)
MomograB: 60 HP

Terrain: 100% Sand


"Wh...What the h-heck is this?!" shouted Rass, stumbling through the sand-filled NetVegas terrain with difficulty, "S-S-Sand?! I c-can barely move as it is! H-How am I supposed to f-fight like this?" A gust of gritty wind blasted over his body, causing the fusion navi to sway to and fro, his boots buried under a small layer of sand. As the floating viruses hovered menacingly overhead, Rass fearfully stumbled backward, tripping over a sand dune and winding up on the ground. The impact was sufficient to rouse the fighting subsystems and awaken them to the rapidly developing situation. Unfortunately, neither Tem, Ishamel, nor Argo seemed to have heard Rass' complaints about his paralyzed limbs, and immediately began berating the hapless navi.

Geez Rasshole, you're such a freaking klutz! What's wrong? Is standing becoming too difficult for a little pansy like yourself? I'd tell you to freaking sit this one out, but it looks like you've already got that covered! growled Argo as a patch of green appeared on Rass' inert shoulder, If basic balance is too tough for you to comprehend, maybe we *are* better just splitting apart. I'd rather take my chances with half an arm... and I'd STILL be more balanced than you!


Rass gave a downcast look as he struggled to his feet and assumed the best fighting position he could. "At least you're finally agreeing on s-something, even if it's how p-pathetic I am," he muttered, "so much for s-self-esteem." Rass glanced nervously between the platoon of Finally, turning to the sky, he called up toward his operator, voice tinted with urgency, "Hey uh... Suien? B-Battlechips? Please?"


Suien, meanwhile was facing off against a monumental challenge of his own. Having just been caught hacking into a motel security camera and facing a man about twice his size, Suien could only stare dumbfoundedly as he calculated endless possible conclusions to the scenario — each less pleasant than the last. For all of his intelligence and problem-solving aptitude, the dark-haired netOp could not figure out any possible means of escape, nor any words that could ameliorate the situation. The brute looked Suien over from head to toe, causing the smaller man to flinch instinctively. Wh...What the heck is he doing? thought Suien, watching the large Netopian finish sizing him up...

....and crack a huge smile. ohgodohgodohgodohgod, he IS going to rape me! Wh-What the hell am I supposed to do? Do I tell him I have some sort of disease? Maybe I should just try to run? Nah, I'd probably hit something and knock myself out... but then again, maybe this is something I'd rather not be conscious for... I mean... well... yeah... I guess that's my best course of action. Find a nice big wall and slam as hard as I can into it. Hope I can move my head with sufficient velocity and force as to...

Fortunately, before Suien could carry out his plan of knocking himself unconscious, his would-be assailant laughed heartily and spoke. "Yo Masters!" he shouted, chuckling heartily as he slapped Suien on the back hard enough to knock the robed operator down, "Wassup, homeboy! You're one crazy dude! I can't believe all the crap you pulled last night dude, you were off the HOOK!"

"Ex...excuse me?" stammered Suien, finally finding his voice and backing away instinctively, "Masters? I... I think you've mistaken me for somebody else."

"No way, man!" laughed the brute, "There ain't no possibility that I made a mistake. You're Suien Masters, prince of gamblers and shot champion of the Powder Keg nightclub! 15 shots in 15 minutes! Friggin amazing for an Electopian dude like yourself! Hell, if there ain't no Electopian that's got one of those shirts you're wearing! You're the MAN, Masters... or my name ain't Joey Gigz!"

At Mr. Gigz' suggestion, Suien realized for the first time that he was, in fact, wearing a shirt. Pulling the cheap fabric of his robe aside, he strained to read the gimmicky print on his oversized, obnoxiously purple shirt. "I keelhauled the bomblet challenge at the NetVegas Powder Keg Nightclub. Arrrr," he read in an intentionally flat tone of voice, "Well that certainly explains the hangover... but still doesn't say anything about a unicycle... or the person in bed with me."

Joey stared for a moment before stomping off toward Suien's open door with enough force such that the dark-haired netOp feared his sleeping companion would awaken if the floor didn't give out first. Poking his head into the room momentarily before giving Suien an inquisitive look, Joey regarded Suien with a look of shock and horror. "Dude," he said, his voice a deep baritone, "you've got a guy in your bed. What the hell?"

"What?!" balked Suien, "No. No. No. You've got it all wrong. That's not a guy. That's a girl. Seriously, that's GOT to be a girl. There's no way that that's a guy! Look... Joey, was it? I'll prove it to you. If we can just get a look at this video data from last night, I'm sure it'll tell us exactly who... or what... that person is over there."

"Ah... Suien? Battlechips? Please?"

Suien, realizing that his PET was still operating, slapped himself in the forehead and slammed a rapid sequence of battlechips into his PET. Muttering to himself the entire time. "Not possible at ALL... this morning keeps getting better and better..."


Rass looked in dismay at the hodgepodge of battlechips that Suien had downloaded into his systems. The Areagrab provided much needed maneuverability, and the Guard2 a certain measure of defense, but the remaining chips were woefully inefficient in terms of damage. "Why did Suien send me the firehits?


Well, I suppose this isn't entirely out of the ordinary for Suien. Hungover, distracted, and possibly a criminal? He's probably neglecting us again — as per usual.

Are you guys freaking idiots? Suien's tryin' to tell us how to handle this battle! shouted Argo, shoving both subsystems out of the way as Rass' entire lower body turned a deep green hue, It's all about the elemental process thingamajiggers. Those panels over there are made of sand and stuff... and when you add fire to sand, you get uh... glass! Yeah, glass! Because the heat... makes it hot and melty and crystal-y The other subsystems looked on dumbfounded at Argo's attempt to describe the physics of glassmaking. Though his explanations were woefully inadequate, Argo did have a point... and as the 3L3M processor administrator, he was the most qualified to talk about terrain shifts. Yeah, and the melty crystals turn hard, because... um... look, we've got two freaking firehit battlechips, okay?! he said finally, Let's use them.

Hmph. Guess everyone's good at *something* Tem scoffed.

"Except me, apparently," sighed Rass, triggering the Areagrab battlechip and phasing into the air.

A split second later, the fusion navi appeared in between the Momogra viruses with a resounding crack. A faint crimson aura could be detected surrounding his body as both of his hands flashed with white-hot flame. Here we go, Rasshole! shouted Argo, raising Rass' fists high into the air and extracting every last bit of thermal energy from the downloaded battlechip data, I'm gonna give these idiots a HEAT down they'll never forget! With that, Rass felt his arms slam into the network, easily piercing layers of sand and causing blurry lines of radiating heat to waft up from the ground. His processors gave an uncomfortable whine as crimson sparks erupted from the now-soupy and bubbling sand. Hyahahahah! roared Argo, And now for the grand finale, let's activate M.A.S.S.! Crush them like insects with the power of a true Super Savi-

Argo never got to finish the sentence. As the molten glass began to cool, Rass felt a subsystem rush into his legs, tensing them up and pressing off from the ground, releasing his arms and propelling him a few steps backward.

No, we're not going to do that, said Tem simply, taking control of Rass' arms and brushing the fusion navi's shoulders off gingerly, Not only are the remaining battlechips ill-suited for the purposes of M.A.S.S., but we don't know the effect that the transformation will have on the protoplasm. Feh, to think I actually gave you credit for a second back there — good to know my days of not taking you seriously aren't going to be over anytime soon.

Oh yeah, Tem? Well at least I'm not a... a girl!

Your loss. huffed Tem impatiently, slamming Rass' palms onto the network in front of him and generating a giant fan in a burst of sand. Instantly the Wind virus roared to life, kicking up sand and sending it spiraling in the direction of the other viruses. Rass looked downward as he heard Tem chuckle to herself. His now-azure hands radiated light for an instant as a large, gray tuby virus appeared in front of him. This should stir things up a bit — the fighting index and aerodynamic character of those viruses suggest a high-speed character, but let's see what happens when we mess with their sensors a little bit! she quipped, Ishamel, send a few concussive bursts toward the birdlike viruses! That should confuse them sufficiently! As the Discord battlechip erupted with a cacophony of sound, aimed to confuse the speedy viruses, Rass lifted up his arms and felt the fusionist protoplasm to cave inward, creating a vacuum of air. With a powerful crack, two bursts of kinetic force surged toward the Fishy viruses, aimed to knock them off course. Rass spiraled downward toward the sand and braced himself for impact... and came to a sudden realization.

Huh... that's weird... he thought, landing hard on the sandy battlefield and taking an instant to examine his arms, I... I can move again? What just happened to me? He scarcely had time to ponder this quandary, however, as a large yellow shield materialized on his arm. Fumbling to take a defensive position, Rass brought the guard up in front of his face and peeked over it slightly. It was difficult to make out anything with the roaring fan kicking up a sandstorm and the screeching tuby causing his eardrums to erupt... but as difficult as it was for him, it had to be just as tough inside the windstorm, right?


1: Areagrab between MomograA and MomograB
2-3: Simultaneous Firehit to both Momogra panels, (60, Fire, Turns to glass. If misses and Momogra's burrow/move through glass, 75 shatter damage)
4: Wind, aimed between remaining viruses and Rass. (100 HP, Causes sandstorm)
5: Discord (100 HP, confuses opponents)
*Fusionist Physics — (Knockback x2. Attempt to knock FishyA and FishyB off course, potentially into the pathways of the DarkMech projectiles, in hopes the Tuby confusion will cause the DarkMechs will attack their allies)
6: Guard2 (Reflects 120 damage)
RASS moved in with quick and silent ferocity using the help fo the Areagrab chip, which eliminated some of the sand's hampering movement, but still landed him in the sand.

With the much dragging of his subsystems, RASS crashed two powerful Firehits into the Momogras, one deleted right out, the other accidentally jumping out of a recently formed Glass panel.

Turning his attention to the other viruses, RASS summoned two of his most trusty objects, the Windbox, and the Discord, both of which caused extremely hampering circumstances for all parties as there was a Sandstorm in the area.

Confused through the Discord, the DarkMechs fired their thunderballs randomly and the Fishys zoomed through the confusing Sandstorm. RASS knocked two Fishys back into their DarkMech allies despite the Sandstorm, causing random amounts of entangling and impact damage.

A thunderball comes at RASS, but he puts up his enhanced Guard, reflecting it back at one of his opponents.

A Fishy crashes into said opponent soon afterward, man, this looks like some sort of messed up dogpile.

The Sandstorm rages...

-Heaped Together, Can't Move-
DarkMechA: 90 HP
FishyA: 60 HP
DarkMechB: 90 HP
FishyB: 60 HP
DarkMechC: 95 HP
FishyC: 75 HP


Terrain: 2% Broken, 98% Sand (Sandstorm Effect! Accuracy reduced by 1!)

Windbox: 100 HP (0/3)
Discord: 100 HP (0/3) (Confuses Foes)
As Rass engaged the newest wave of viruses, we return again to Suien Matsumoto and Joey Gigz as they continue to unravel the mysteries of the previous night...

"I'm telling you Masters, you rolled in at about 7PM last night, sat at the bar, and took the bomblet challenge!" continued Joey, attempting to recount the events of the previous night, "You slammed down those shots faster than any Electopian I've ever seen, then booked it toward the casinos. You was telling everyone that you're the 'prince of gamblers' and that you was going to make your fortune tonight. Then, I guess you..."

"Okay, first of all, it's Matsumoto, not Masters. Suien Matsumoto." interrupted Suien, "Second, I can't have possibly have had that much to drink. It's only 8 in the morning, and I'm a lightweight by any standard. There's no way I could down fifteen shots and wake up the next morning with just a hangover. If what you say is true, I'd either be still drunk right now, or catatonic in a hospital. It'd be impossible for me to be the guy you think I am if I'm talking to you this morning."

Joey blinked at Suien's latest comment, before shaking his head slowly in response. "Morning?" he said finally, "Homeboy, you've been sleeping all day. It's 8 at night, dawg."

"Wait, it's 8 in the evening?!" asked a dumbfounded Suien, running to the end of the hallway and opening the window. Sure enough, the sun had just about set, and the city lights began to bathe the city in a neon glow. The dark-haired netOp stared out at the city in disbelief for a moment, before retreating back to the hallway. Sighing, he looked at the security camera and bit his lower lip. "Is there anything else I should know about last night?" he asked.

"Well first of all, you started talkin' real fast to this dude next to you. He sort of insulted your navi, and you said somethin' about bein' a programming master. You did some programming stuff to your Navi, but before you could get very far, I took away your PET. We was afraid that you was gonna try somethin' stupid like virus busting while piss drunk. I mean, you coulda been arrested for an OUI — you could get some serious time for stuff like that. Only a moron would operate in that state."

"Ah... ah, right... of course," muttered Suien, suddenly refocusing his attention to his navi and the thin lines of battle data displayed on his PET, "Only a moron would do something like that" As he fiddled awkwardly with the controls of his PET, something Joey had mentioned struck him as odd. Taking care not to interrupt the battle routines being carried out by Rass and his subsystems, Suien accessed the history function of his PET. Instantly, several diagrams and poorly-written notes appeared. The netOp's eyes widened as he explored the ramblings and routines of his intoxicated former self. While most of it was incoherent and illegible, one page in particular caught his attention. A wireframe model of what could only be described as a rocket surfboard and some quickly typed shorthand that would be absolutely meaningless to an ordinary reader. "Recv = NO. Rass is OBJ!!!1!"

"Of COURSE" he muttered, plucking a battlechip from his folder and slotting it in as Joey Gigz looked on in confusion, "The deteriorating adhesive qualities of the protoplasm? The desynchronization following subsystem conflict? Rass can't be a recovery-class netnavi — if he were, then his fusionist protoplasm would have stabilized and eventually assimilated the four core systems given the adhesive, reconstructive qualities of a recovery-style core. If that's not the case, Rass' fusion core must be a generator that is providing independent energy feeds to each of the four systems — with their independent interconnectivity emulating the systems of a recovery-type due to the synergistic nature of their system processes." Suien's fingers were a blur as they traced across the PET keyboard with deftness and precision, "Now I've been programming Rass' subroutines and signature programs to actually tax the individual subsystems to their limit based on the assumption that unless each system worked independently, the subsystems would eventually lose their individual personalities and become assimilated into the recovery-type fusionist protoplasm... but now that his core won't even allow them to synchronize, I can start building more synergistic routines. Time to get cracking."

Joey, for his part, continued to stare at Suien with a confused look on his face. "So uh... what're you saying?"

Suien turned to Joey Gigz. Caught up in the moment and ignoring the fact that he had only met the brutish man yesterday (and only remembered him for about 10 minutes), he excitedly pointed to his PET notes. "I was wrong about my navi's programming! Rass.EXE isn't recovery, he's an object-class!"


Rass knelt to the ground, breathing heavily as he recollected his system resources and examined the chaotic battlefield. He flexed his fingers again, suspiciously testing their responsiveness and half-expecting them to fall limp to his side at a moment's notice. Before he could petition his netOp for additional chips, however, strange pinkish lines traced a luminous wireframe across the contours of his body, causing it to radiate a soft glow. Small wisps of data began to escape from the lines, the square packets of data escaping slowly into the air and dissipating shortly thereafter. Staring at his arms in confusion, Rass wasted no time establishing a communications uplink. As Suien's face appeared on a semitransparent screen beside him, Rass cocked his head to one side as he addressed the dark-haired operator. "S-Suien? What's g-going on?" he asked, gesturing to his leaking, wireframed arm, "Th-The fusionist p-protoplasm seems to be discarding excess adhesion d-data, b-but I thought w-we didn't w-want to lose any more of the adhesion? Is th-this a b-b-bad thing?[/i]

Suien smiled and continued to send a series of commands to Rass' protoplasmic body. "Don't worry about a thing, Rass. I think I've finally got this figured out." he said, hoping to reassure the worried netnavi, "Your body's been acting up because I was basing my modifications to your design on a flawed premise... which in turn, caused certain parts of your body to shut down due to overuse and lack of synchronization with other subsystems. You see, this whole time I was trying to rely on the reconstructive abilities of your fusion core to develop your programming. By treating the fusion core as a recovery system, I was forced to use reconstructive routines to create items from your fusionist protoplasm. As it turns out, that was a less-than-efficient approach. Using a navi core designed for construction solely for reconstruction reduces its output and limits the energy feed by a significant factor. All I'm doing now is refreshing your operating system to encompass some of the new modifications I made.

"Oh... w-well, that's g-good to know. I w-was afraid that..." began Rass, before realizing something, "W-W-W-Wait! Are these the m-modifications you designed when you d-drank all that alcohol? B-B-Before you p-put me to sleep, y-you said that you h-had come up with s-something. I d-don't w-w-ant some random g-glitchy..." Rass stopped himself as he saw Suien's hurt expression on the viewfinder. Quickly realizing his slighting remark, Rass cleared his throat and looked down at the ground, "L...Look, I d-didn't m-mean..."

"It's okay, Rass... I understand, said Suien, hiding his disappointment as he typed the final sequence of commands into the PET, but don't worry. I've completely debugged the program files, so you won't have to worry about glitches or bugs as a result of faulty programming. I figure you'll be able to find a use for this as uh... a device to increase your mobility across the battlefield. Rass gulped and bowed his head respectfully as the pink tracking lines disappeared from his nimble frame. "To initialize it, all you need to do is isolate a packet of energy from your fusion core and allocate it to the protoplasm blueprint ITEM-2 — short for the Independent Thrust-Energy Mechanism, Mark II... Then just hold out your arm and let the fusionist protoplasm get to work."

Rass nodded obediently and held out his right arm. Chains of green code ran across his eyelids as he followed his netOp's directions, selecting the appropriate protoplasm blueprint and allocating the core. Sure enough, droplets of black protoplasm began to leak from his fingertips, collecting in a suspended blob in front of him. The protoplasmic mass quickly collected into a long, ovaloid shape, with a pair of rounded cylinders on either side of the object. Rass looked confused at the creation, cocking his head to the side. Before he could inquire as to its purpose, Argo forced his way into Rass' right hand and turned to face the fusion navi. Rasshole! he shouted, catching Rass' attention, We're leaking protoplasm here! Are you ignorant enough to just sit here and do nothing with your hand stretched out like an idiot? Get with the freakin' program before we... we... we.. AUUUGH!

Rass' eyes widened as a green orb of light burst from his hand and surged toward the newly-created black object, leaving a trail of small lime-colored sparklets in its wake. As the light crashed into the protoplasmic form of ITEM-2, the nosecone formed into a bright green cap, complete with Argo's questing visual sensors. W...What's going on?" demanded Argo, as three thrusters at the end ignited in a burst of brilliant green flame, Why am I not in the body anymore?! What the hell is this thing? Some kinda... rocket surfboard?! Does this stupid piece of junk data even mov-WHOA!

Suien nodded as ITEM-2 surged forward into the air, causing Rass to cover his face as grit sprayed everywhere in the wake of the high-velocity liftoff. "Prepare to get equipped with the newest fusionist protoplasm construct, designation: ITEM-2 — or simply, if you prefer, the 'Rassboard'" he said, allowing himself a small smirk and sliding several battlechips into the PET, "Argo has the control, so adjust your strategy accordingly"


Prepare to get equipped? What kind of grammar is that? thought Suien, frowning, Guess I'm still a little off-kilter from the alcohol...

Joey laughed as he watched the Rassboard fly around the battlefield on Suien's PET screen. "Oh, that's right! You was betting that you could make your navi fly, even while tanked! I can't remember who was sayin' you couldn't, but if I see him again, I'll get him to pay up!" Joey smirked, slapping Suien on the back "Guess that's one of your mysteries solved, eh Masters? Well, I'm going to go get a NetCola from the machine downstairs, you want anything Homeboy?"

"I'm fine... and it's Matsumoto, not Masters," replied Suien, giving Joey a quick nod before returning to his PET. As he ran a few additional diagnostics, he began to think back to the original reasons for his latest expedition. He's right... I guess that's one less thing for me to figure out. Then again, that's really the least of my worries since I still don't know who that girl... or guy... in my bed is.

...and why the hell was I calling myself Suien Masters? That's an awful pseudonym if I've ever heard one...

...oh, and the unicycle. Where the hell did I get a unicycle from?


Rass, meanwhile, had quickly adapted to the Rassboard's high-speed capabilities by simply allowing Tem take over his lower body and adjust his balance accordingly. "Allowing" was used in the loosest sense here, as his first few seconds aboard the Rassboard were a mess of flailing, stumbling awkwardness. A few harsh words and quick balancing algorithms from Tem later, Rass stood crouched on the board, scarf whipping around in the wind as the protoplasmic rocket traversed the battleground at an alarming pace. Tem tersely admitted that there was some tactical advantage to the flying mechanism while Ishamel seemed irate that the protoplasm STILL lacked an independent aiming function, but no subsystem was more thrilled than Argo, who flaunted his newfound freedom by pressing the thrusters on ITEM-2 to the limit.

Gyahahah! Look, Rasshole! Tem's riding me! he shouted, dipping low to the ground and prompting Rass to crouch even lower She's taking a fast ride on my rocket!

Rass considered laughing, but immediately thought better of it as he felt Tem stomp angrily on the Rassboard, causing it to jostle slightly as Argo struggled to recover. The fusion navi flailed his arms as Argo's green presence shifted to the surface of the flying transport, glaring toward Rass with angry green eyes. Hey! Totally unnecessary, Tem! He shouted, weaving and shifting across the torrential sandstorm, It's not my fault that while Rasshole's practically impotent, I've got some major thrust going on!

Argo, I'm not going to dignify that statement with a response was Tem's flat reply, In any event, we should utilize this mobility to our advantage and move in for close-range combat. Since you're screwing around inside of that "rocket," I'm afraid Rass will have to take control of the Melee attacking. Rass gulped and nodded as a small metal cylinder materialized in his hand in a burst of data. He fumbled the small device for a moment before grasping it awkwardly with his left hand and slamming it into his right. The fusionist protoplasm of his hand easily absorbed the cylinder, transforming into a luminous blue blade, coils of electricity running up and down its shaft. "R...R...Right," muttered Rass, giving the ElecSword an experimental swing as the Rassboard flew into the sandstorm, "Melee weaponry. I c-can do this."

Argo, now fully in control of the Rassboard, slid the flying machine up alongside the group of huddled viruses. As Rass shielded his eyes from the sand with his non-sword hand, he saw the large DarkMech opponents loom closer to his immediate location. The Rassboard lurched as Argo reversed the direction of one of the thrusters, sending the board spinning on its horizontal axis. The fusion navi widened his eyes in panic, but kept his wits about him, extending the Elecsword and allowing the force of the rotation carry the weapon in a long, brilliant arc. As he spun, he felt Ishamel's presence sneaking into his free arm, discharging a burst of kinetic energy in the process. Rass frowned as ITEM-2 recorrected its trajectory and soared to the other edge of the viral group. What on earth could he be thinking? he thought as he brought the blade upwards in a skyward arc, It looks like he's aiming toward the green fish viruses, but I'm good enough with the Elecsword... is he just trying to make things easier for me, or is there something in this plan I don't know about?

The fusion navi received his answer as his Elecsword suddenly disappeared, replaced by a frightening-looking alien skull mounted on a wrist-launcher. Rass screamed and probably would have fallen off of ITEM-2 had Tem not braced his legs so quickly. Geez, Rass. You would think that a system administrator would have more familiarity with his own weapons, growled Tem With all these changes in the body, I'm a little surprised that your incompetence as an administrator remains a constant.

Ishamel, however, barely noticed the core system's error as his crimson presence surged into Rass' wrist, his single yellow eye glowing in the sandstorm. INITIALIZING AURAHEAD MODULE! CONCUSSIVE CHARGE TO 100%! roared Ishamel, TARGETTING ROUTINES COMPLETE! COMMENCING FIRE! Rass felt his arm jerk up, awkwardly clutching the vibrating, skull-like head for a split second before releasing the projectile in a stream of cerulean light. The recoil of the blast knocked the Fusion Navi's entire body backward as Argo struggled to adjust the Rassboard to prevent him from falling. The alien skull shrieked forward, swathed in an unnatural light as it tore across the sandy stretch toward the Fishy viruses that Ishamel had been attempting to align. Before he could confirm a hit, however, Rass was already charging up yet another onslaught of energy. Palms cupped together and flashing with electricity, he extended his arms above his head. Coils of electricity arced from the ElecReel's core, striking the sandy landscape in their wake. The fusion navi squinted as the ball of energy pulsated in his hands, threatening to overload his circuitry as bolts of lightning snaked down his arms. With a grunt of exertion, Rass brought his glowing hands forward, unleasing a high-voltage onslaught that surged across the battleground like a glowing yellow spiderweb. As the electric-element lightshow concluded and the acrid scent of ozone wafted into his olfactory sensors, Rass collapsed panting onto his floating platform, aware of the risk of a counterattack, but too drained to do anything about it. With a pained grimace, he lifted himself to his feet and stared out into the desert, warily regarding the opposing viruses through squinted eyes. He was sure that the guilt of having snapped at Suien would catch up to him sooner or later, but at the moment, there were more pressing issues to worry about...

1: *Masterpiece* Rassboard (20 + 31 HP object, 2 tactical movement passive, 1 hit shield)
Rassboard(1) —Traverse the edge of the sandstorm
Fusionist Physics(1) — Knock FishyA in line with FishyB
2: ElecSword (80, Elec) — DarkMech A, B, and C
Rassboard(2) — Traverse the edge of the sandstorm
Fusionist Physics(2) — Knock FishyC in line with FishyB
3: ElecSword (80, Elec) — DarkMech A, B, and C
4: Aurahead (90, Line) FishyA, FishyB, FishyC
5: ElecReel1 (80, Elec) any survivors
6: Reserved for dodging
RASS boarded his new object with gusto and rode around the Sandstorm, brandishing his Elecsword with style.

Setting up, he lined the Fishy's up with each other, dispersing the tumbling virus heap that already formed, and taking a slash at the DarkMechs. This prompted them to fire Thunderballs that locked on to Rass, but were too slow to hit him for the moment.

Riding along, RASS knocked another Fishy into its companions before deleting the DarkMechs right out with another Elecsword. Taking this chance, the fusion navi sent an Aurahead straight at the Fishys, rolling them over in one blow. He fired off an Elecreel later for dramatic effect.

The objects disappeared, making RASS land in a heap in the sand, which soon turned normal as the Sandstorm died down. It was sort of comical how RASS looked, sprawled out randomly on the floor.

Time to move on.

Heaped Together, Can't Move-


Terrain: 2% Broken, 98% Normal


Get: Machine Sword, 2100z
Rass dusted himself off, knees wobbling slightly as he readjusted to the feeling of standing on his own two legs. Before he could fully regain his balance, however, he felt a sudden impact slam into his gut, knock him out of breath, and bowl him over onto his backside. Gasping, Rass looked down at his chest and saw the familiar green presence of Argo staring back upwards at him. Why the heck did you disengage that rocket-surfboard, Rasshole? he growled, Hurry up and get it executed again! Anything that gets me away from your inept system administrating is a sure winner in my book!

"Ah... s-s-sure thing, Argo..." replied Rass, scrambling to his feet and dusting himself off, "Just l-let me t-transfer this d-data back to the PET and I'll get right on it." The plucky pink navi walked over to the unassuming data and sent it bursting skyward in a packet of cubial data, humming as he went. Argo blinked a few times in surprise at Rass' cheerful compliance before narrowing his eyes suspiciously. Hey Rasshole, what are you so damn cheery about? he demanded, Finally learned who's the boss around here, eh? Finally treating me with the respect I deserve?

No, I mean, yes, I mean... well... Suien's trying so hard to make us great thought Rass in response, fiddling with his helmet as he checked the landscape once again, The least I can do is try to be as cheerful as I can.

Hmph, you should talk, Argo, interjected Tem, YOU of all people shouldn't be deserving of respect.


Ishamel, you do realize that we don't even know the gender of Suien's bedmate, right?

Ishamel instantly quieted down.


Suien, having been listening in on the subsystems' chatter, nodded in affirmation. "For once I agree with you," he muttered to himself, "We'll have to see how 'lucky' I really am..."

((Battle 3))
RASS ventured further into the security system and took step after step...

...before being rudely shifted sideways.

Raising his head in alarm, he tried walking forward again, but the ground underneath him seemed to shift to the side.

Glancing around, he noticed that he was standing on a giant circular space that was layered much like an archery target. There seemed to be four layers including the "bullseye" in the center. While the outer layers shifted every so often, the center would stay the same.

The current area he was standing on was plain normal, next to him were Metal and Sea, and across was filled with Grass.

In the center was Lava, marking it seriously as a "bullseye." Four Volcanoes surrounded what appeared to be a pot in the lava.

Hearing noises behind him, RASS was suddenly confronted with two MuteAnts. There seemed to be Spidys lingering on the Grass side, ElecOgres on the Metal, and Slimeys seem to populate the sea.

What a... diverse collection.

MuteAntA: 90 HP
MuteAntB: 90 HP

RASS.exe: 100 HP

ElecOgreA: 120 HP
ElecOgreB: 120 HP


VolcanoA: 100 HP [Facing Normal]
VolcanoB: 100 HP [Facing Metal]
Pot: ??? HP
VolcanoC: 100 HP [Facing Grass]
VolcanoD: 100 HP [Facing Sea]

SlimeyA: 90 HP
SlimeyB: 90 HP
SlimeyC: 90 HP

SpidyA: 80 HP
SpidyB: 80 HP
SpidyC: 80 HP


"Yo Masters! Look out!!"

Suien barely looked up from his PET as he slid the final battlechip into the receptacle on the PET. "For the last time, Joey, it's Matsu..."

The dark-haired netOp never finished his sentence. Out of nowhere, a blur of baby blue slammed straight into him. Briefly disoriented by the sudden impact, Suien could only stare in shock as the garishly-dressed newcomer grabbed him by the fabric of his robe, pulled him into a sitting position and brought his terrified face up close to his big, red nose.

big... red... nose? A clown? thought Suien, before his thoughts were rattled as the stranger shook him violently by the robe.

"You! I know you! Give me the &%$! back my property, you &%$#ing son of a binome!" he shouted, drawing back his fist in preparation to strike. Before the attacker could deliver the punch, however, he was grabbed from behind by Joey Gigz, still clutching a bottle of NetCola. Suien's assailant was dragged backwards by Joey who, despite his size, seemed to be having some difficulty. At this point, Suien's initial suspicions were confirmed — his attacker *was* a clown, complete with baby blue ruffled bodysuit, white makeup, orange curly hair, and the large nose he had noticed earlier. "Get the hell away from him, ya crazy circus freak!" shouted the monstrous Netopian, "Hey Masters, should I give this bit-brain a beatdown?!"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, no beatdowns! Let me... let me talk to him!" yelled Suien, waving his arms frantically in an effort to prevent any more illegal activity from occurring in the hallway. Joey reluctantly released the clown from his powerful headlock, and the disheveled harlequin fell to the ground, breathing heavily. Turning to his attacker, Suien spoke. "Mr. Clown, I uh... I understand that you might be somewhat irate over the loss of your property, but I assure you that I have no idea where your... whatever it is is. I think you've managed to find the wrong guy — I'm not the one you're look-"

"Bull&%$@!" spat the clown, shooting Joey a furious glare as he dusted himself off with his white gloved hands, "I'd know that &%$#ing smug face anywhere! Suien &%$#ing Masters, the self-proclaimed Circus 'Blingmaster' himself!"

The dark-haired netOp was taken aback by the clown's accusation. Well, there's that name again — guess it'd have to have been me, thought Suien, biting his lower lip, But 'Circus Blingmaster?' How many titles did I claim last night? Sighing, Suien got to his feet and adjusted his glasses, regarding the clown with a weary countenance. "I suppose that would be me, although my name is actually Suien Matsumoto. I would apologize for whatever it is that I did last night but uh... the truth of the matter is I can't remember much of what happened last night. Do you think you could fill me in on whatever it was that I need to apologize for?"

"Blaming the $#%&ing alcohol? Feh, you're just like all the other $#%@ college kids in this $%#@ing town. Just give me back my unicycle before I serve your pasty Electopian @#$ with a lawsuit."

"The... the unicycle?" stammered Suien, "That thing's yours?!"



Argo swiftly ppeared on the front of Rass' chest alongside Ishamel. I dunno Ishy. I don't know if I could operate under someone who was... you know, like that. I mean, it's tough enough having to live with Rass, who could pretty much swing either way.

"H-Hey! I l-like g-girl navis..." protested Rass, looking hurt, "I m-mean, there was that g-girl at Yoka... and... and that NetPolice agent... and..."

Argo laughed in response. And who, Rasshole? When was the last time you were in female company — or more importantly, when was the last time a girl so much as looked at you? he scoffed, Face it, pinky - your best friends are a burly meathead who is about as manly as you can get, and some nerdy gaming geek guy. If you're straight, then I'm a cursor-type!

If you three are DONE talking your moronic, juvenile drivel, I'd like to remind you that we have a job to complete! For binary's sake, your half-bit brains turn to mush at the very mention of Suien's love life. scowled Tem, If I didn't know any better, I'd say that you're all more womanly than your system configurations would suggest.

Pah, you've got no argument from me, Tem. You're more of a man than any of us. chuckled a snide Argo.

Tem seemed to bristle, before darting into the center of Rass' chest. Look, you green pinhead, I think Suien needs to get laid more than any other male operator out there, but now's not the time or the place! she growled, bumping the red and green patches downward as her angry eyes glared down Rass' torso. Argo seemed to smirk as he sidled alongside the fuming tactical subsystem on Rass' chest. So you're in agreement, then? he asked cryptically, nudging Tem to the side, Even you, the great tactical genius that you are, think we need to do something about Suien's dating life?

"V-V-Viruses!" yelled Rass, breaking the scheming subsystems' focus and causing them to scramble into formation. As the impressive menagerie of multi-element viruses began their approach, the fusion navi took a nervous step backward, having been jostled by the area's strange, shifting landscape. He looked around, taking note of the several dangerous terrain types populated by the equally-dangerous opponents. "I... I... I... wow." he stammered, overwhelmed by the amount of battle calculations that would need to be done to keep on safe terrain. "T-Tem... d-d-do you think you can f-figure out how to handle this? I... I'm a bit confused."

Rasshole, what are you waitin' for? Hurry up and get that rocket thingamajig ready to go! shouted Argo impatiently, Tem'll agree that's the best course of action! We're not gonna have the... the... mobility! Yeah! Mobility advantage on this uh... crazy battlefield! If we're flying, then we won't get hurt by the... craziness! Yeah! So hurry up!

The depth of your vocabulary never ceases to amaze me, Argo sniped Tem, However, I believe I may have discovered a more appropriate allocation of our system resources — one that is more fully able to eliminate threats with utmost precision and elegance without resorting to needless, extraneous action. Rass, if you would please upload these commands to Suien, we ought to be able to finish this battle in a clean, painless, and most importantly, efficient manner.

Oh *brilliant* Tem, growled Argo in response, And I suppose we'll be using some needlessly complex combination of physics and acrobatics? Can you tell me how that's more effective than plain old face-bashing? Can you?

For your information, I have a much more elegant approach, Argo. When I say we avoid needless, extraneous action, I actually mean it. replied Tem dryly, Today, we'll be using chance

Rass gulped, nodded, and uploaded Tem's projected battle routine. Are you sure about this, Tem? I mean, I've never been the most lucky navi around, and if something goes wrong, then... well... we'd be in trouble. he thought, I don't think that we have the raw power needed to take on this many diverse opponents.

It's indeed sad fortune that you've been cursed with mediocre intelligence, Rass, replied Tem, turning to Rass' chest and observing the viral horde, But then, you're lucky you've got me to do your thinking for you. Just sit tight like a good little boy and don't question this tactical decision. Though the success of this maneuver is mediocre at best, the expected payoff is rather huge. You'll need to be prepared, however, if this fails, you're going to need to dodge. I've made some preparations to help mitigate the risk by preemptively eliminating certain threats in the event that our luck turns sour, so be sure to refresh that portion of the battle routine.


Suien read Tem's instructions with a bemused smirk before removing the requested battlechips from his chip folder. I suppose it's only appropriate that a gambling-themed battlefield would mandate such a risky strategy, he thought, sliding the selected battlechips in one after the other, If I didn't know any better, I'd say that whatever powers may be that conspired to place us into this situation had a sense of ironic humor.

The disgruntled clown, meanwhile, had since calmed down now that he had been reunited with his unicycle. Standing across the hallway from Joey Gigz, the portly entertainer leaned against the wall and casually lit up a cigarette. "So I guess your boy's in some deep $%#&, huh?" he asked Joey, motioning toward Suien with his cigarette hand, "Slept with some tramp, no $#&%ing memory of the previous night? Would be lying if I said this wasn't totally $%&#ing unexpected." The clown took a deep drag of smoke, and shook his head. "Get all types around this %$#&hole city, you know?" he said, "But they're all the same. %$&#ing kids looking for a good time, get a little bit too excited, and BAM! They're lookin' at twenty-one $#%&ing years of child support the next day. Hope Masters over there used some %$&%ing protection. %$&%ing %$&%faced %$#&."

Joey eyed the clown with a mixture of disgust and amazement. The burly Netopian didn't respond at first, clearly at a loss for words. Finally he shook his head and asked, "You know, for a clown, you ain't so much funny as... angry and mean, yo."

The clown snorted, exhaling a burst of foul-smelling smoke. "You've got some &%$#ing nerve, Netopian," he growled, "Look, pal, I'm only 'Chuckles the Clown' on stage. I don't %$&#ing like the gig, but it pays the bills, capice? So don't go around expecting laughter and sunshine from me unless you're willing to pay for it." Chuckles tossed the cigarette onto the ground and stomped it out with his comically large shoe. "I didn't have enough time after my shift to change cause I've been lookin' for this Masters $#%$head," he said, "Guess it's just as well though. I've got a performance down the block in a few hours, so I'll just $%#& around here till the show starts. Least there aren't any foreign hoods around here tryin' to steal my property... present company excluded."

Joey mumbled something unintelligible in response and took a swig of NetCola. He probably would have protested further, but Suien waved dismissively toward his two newfound companions. "Hey, could you two keep it down over there?" he asked, motioning toward his open motel door, "We don't want her to wake up. Or him to wake up. Whatever." The dark-haired netOp pushed the last chip into the PET receptacle with a satisfying click, sighed, then fiddled with the controls of his PET. A pink wireframe diagram of Rass' protoplasmic body appeared on his top viewfinder. Suien frowned, biting his lower lip, as he carefully studied the schematics. Rass was clearly an object type this entire time... but he was able to use recovery techniques previously too? he thought, turning his attention once more to his ever-changing netnavi, This seems to warrant some investigation... given that we're no closer to figuring out who that mystery person is.


Rass, meanwhile, was faced with a quandary of equal magnitude, though of a substantially different character. There he stood, looking rather diminutive and small as the oversized roulette wheel and vicious viruses bore down upon him. In Rass' hand pulsed a small yellowish orb of lightning, which discharged sparks and coils of electricity at intermittent intervals. The electric energy projectile weighed heavy in his hands, but he did his best to hold it steady as his three subsystems made the necessary adjustments. "Rass, can you hear me?" asked Suien's voice, "You weren't online the last time we resorted to sheer chance in a battle, so let me make this as clear as I can. The odds are even, but the stakes can be stacked in your favor if you follow the battle routine. By attacking some of the viruses before we evaluate the success of our gambit, we can cut our losses should luck not be on our side. Just in case though, I've sent you a bit of insurance that'll help you escape attack. Be careful though — this battlefield looks pretty unpredictable, and we don't want to find ourselves in a bad position here. Clear out the viruses in one sector, then play things smart from that point on."

Rass gulped, and nodded his head in affirmation. The Areagrab battlechip data was on standby in his systems, ready to trigger at a moment's notice should the need arise. Still, the fusion navi eyed the surroundings carefully, arms and legs tensing as his adrenal simulators overclocked themselves. In a sudden quick motion, Rass leaped off from the ground, breaking into a full dash toward the MuteAnt viruses. Before he got within range of their attacks, however, he wound up and hurled the pulsing thunderball toward the Volcanic viruses in the center of the battlefield. The charged projectile sailed lazily through the air as it homed downward toward the target. Unable to check or confirm the hit, however, Rass continued the follow-through of his toss, bringing around his left leg in the process. No sooner had the booted limb left the ground did the alien-looking Aurahead battlechip materialize on his foot. Ishamel's yellow optical sensor flashed as he discharged the heady projectile mid-swing. The ivory-white projectile streaked toward the MuteAnt viruses, screaming forward with bone-crushing force. Rass spiraled around, sliding to a halt on the network and clasping his hands together. Hmph. I suppose this is as good a time as any, mused Tem as a medium-sized cube materialized in front of Rass in a burst of data. The fusion navi's fingers flew across the panel of the DblCube as he entered in the viral designations, specifying all fourteen targets as "enemies." As uncomfortable as I am using gambling as a tactic, I suppose there's no avoiding it in this particular case. Rass, go ahead and deploy it.

Rass nodded, tossing the cube into the air and watching it spin rapidly on the axis, flashing shades of orange and green as chance took its hold. Rass gazed at it for a bit, silently chanting in his head, Orange, orange, orange, orange, orange...


"I... I don't know, Ishamel," said an uncertain Rass, as Tem surged into his arms and took aim at two of the volcanic viruses, "W-What if its full of v-viruses? I don't think we should get too c-close." Rass felt his muscles expand and contract in rapid succession, sending two bursts of kinetic force barreling toward the two Volcanos. "M-Maybe we should just wait until we clear th-the area before we take a look," he suggested.


For once, Rass has a point. It's probably a better idea to stand back and evaluate the situation before we charge in. interrupted Tem, eyeing the pot warily from her vantage point on Rass' shoulder, But then, if it is some sort of valuable data, it would probably be prudent to shield it from harm. If we could find some way to defend it without putting ourselves in harm's way...

"Oh, I know!" shouted Rass, slamming both palms onto the network, "a Windbox!" Before Tem could respond, green surges of data shot toward the middle pot, collecting into a rectangular wireframe on top of the strange pot. As protoplasm leaked from Rass' body into the newly-forming object, Tem slid deftly into Rass' hand, possessed its motor functions, and slapped the pink navi across the face. You idiot! That object was supposed to be used for defensive purposes only — as in our own defensive purposes! she yelled as the windbox surged to life, sending a stream of wind upward as the heavy fan lay flat atop the mysterious pot. Rass recoiled in shock, but nodded his head apologetically, orange scarf flowing lightly in the agitated wind. Stepping back nervously, he allowed the final battlechip to surge through his systems — this one containing several self-replicating packets of data that caused his entire body to tingle and prickle. Rass gulped, taking a final glance at the rotating DblCube before stepping back and clasping his hands together once more, charging the protoplasm with the data and infusing it with the desired schematics. A split second later, several droplets of protoplasm erupted from Rass' back, scattering on the floor and collecting themselves into larger shapes. Black goo gave way to silver machinery as an army of DarkMech soldiers stood at the ready behind Rass' back. As the fusion navi turned around, each of the cybernetic viruses gave him a sharp salute with their silvery sword-arms. Rass nervously returned the salute before glancing over at the battlefield and giving his orders.

"Um... just... do your thing, I guess..." he said.

1: Thunder (40 + Stun) to VolcanoC
2: Aurahead1 (90 + Line + Break) to MuteAnt A, B, and SlimeyA
3: DblBeam2 (10+Stun to all if orange, status cure to self if green)
*Fusionist Physics: Bump VolcanoB and VolcanoD against VolcanoC
4: *Masterpiece (+32 HP)* Wind (Summon 100HP Windbox) on top of Pot, designed to shield/keep whatever is inside the pot inside
5: MachineSword (60x2, Widesword to all stunned targets) to Volcano C, D, and B if Thunder hits, To all targets if DblCube2 is orange)
6: Areagrab, saved for an Areagrab-assisted dodge toward "Normal" terrain
Amidst a myriad of terrain, a wide assortment of viruses, the incessant arguing of a certain trio of subsystems, and the verbal assault of one very disgruntled clown, it was amazing that Rass and Mr. Circus Blingmaster could even come up with a plan, let alone one so appropriate to the area. Here's to that NetVegas magic, gents.

Rass discharged a Thunder ball from his hand, which crawled at a very leisurely pace towards that Volcano, which, being not much more than a chunk of rock, made little effort to escape and was soon struck and stunned by the attack. Perhaps some viruses around were starting to take up civil disobedience as a form of offense.... Maybe.

Next came the extraterrestrial-looking AuraHead. With a thrust of a foot, the pearly white projectile screeched forth, and with some assistance from Ishmael, plowed through the pair of MuteAnts with relative ease before the viruses could even make a noise in response.

At this point, the true spirit of NetVegas came to fruition in the plan, as Rass pinned his hopes on his DBLCube2, which quickly began blinking back and forth from orange to green... orange... green... orange... green... orange...green...


Orange! A wave of appropriately-colored energy flooded out of the cube, phasing through every virus on the field and leaving them with a rather stunned feeling. Who says the house always wins?

Now, while there was a vast opportunity in front of him, Rass instead chose to focus on the Pot, which for some reason the DBLCube didn't designate as a target. Still unsure of whether it was good or bad, the fusion Navi opted to plug the thing up and find out later by summoning a Windbox on top of it, which promptly earned him a slap with his own hand from Tem.

Here's where the fun part happened. Rass activated the MachineSword, summoning forth a veritable platoon of DarkMechs, all ready to go out and slaughter on their meek commander's orders. Of course, with all the vurses already stunned, not much of an order was needed. Like the proverbial bull seeing red, the DarkMechs began their rampage, hacking away at every single target they could find in one big happy, gruesome, and downright strange choreography.

The DarkMech platoon left with one last salute, and Rass was ready to AreaGrab to a new location... but quickly realized that everything was dead. Whoops. However... The battle routine wasn't ending. And the Pot was still there, unmoving underneath the Winbox. Odd, but since this was the only thing still in the way...?


RASS.exe: 100 HP



VolcanoA: HACKED
VolcanoB: HACKED
Pot: ??? HP [Not an enemy...?]
VolcanoC: HACKED
VolcanoD: HACKED

Wind: 100 HP [On top of Pot]