SoapMan's Office

Luckily, the place that Regalia had been pointed to required no means of infiltration or illegal activity to reach. SoapMan's office, like many of the other offices, was available to the public within regularly scheduled hours. Regalia had been pointed into the office sector, leading him through rows and rows of doors marked for various Prosecutions officers.

The scenery was very quiet and mostly shades of white walls and blue carpeting; each corner was dotted either with a tasteful potted plant or unremarkable motivational poster. There was no reason for anyone to raise a big ruckus here, nor was there any time for any officer to slack off their duties. A few officers busily moved from office to office, but otherwise, Regalia was left with a sense of lonesomeness.

A sterile white door lay ahead of him, marking SoapMan's name. Regalia might take one more moment to review the info file before heading in...

As I was moving through Sharo Net, some guy in a robe with huge, black bird wings and claws attacked me. I remember distinctly that his wings were lopsided, like one was bigger than the other, but more distinctly, some of his features reminded me of my sister's. As he tried to kill me, he kept saying, "I'm hungry" and "We need more data." He acted like he was insane.

After twisting his arm enough, I finally got some answers. He said that somebody named "SoapMan" was doing a lousy job and that "Carbuncle" would deal with him. A little twist more and he told me that both of these guys were NP officers. SoapMan's easy; lots of transparency on that guy. Carbuncle's not. Investigating, I e-mailed SoapMan, only to learn that he did indeed know a Carbuncle. Recently though, he broke off contact. Whole thing smells suspicious.

Try to drill SoapMan or his colleagues until you learn exactly who Carbuncle is. Figure out the relationship between the two. If you get the chance, ask somebody also about a navi named Scavenger. This might not require any real "drilling," but the whole things smells so fishy that I'd be surprised if it didn't.
Regalia, appearing once again in his full battle-gear, stood in front of the door.

"Bit of an odd mission for us, don't you think so?" Thomas asked through the comms, curious.

Regalia simply nodded in reply, then knocked on the door. Three short, loud raps of his armored knuckles, clanking with the striking of metal on wood.
"A visitor! And they knocked so politely! Just a minute!" a voice answered from inside the office in response to the greeting. Their pitch was oddly like a man speaking nasally while simultaneously gulping between words at an inhuman rate. Weirder than that was the bizarre noise, like some kind of over-sized or otherwise uncannily loud spring snapping. It was followed by a series of similar pops, until finally, the noise died down. At long last, the owner of the office answered the door.

SoapMan was a tall guy, but not in any way a menacing one. His body was made out of wet, spongy, and porous material, consisting of a head shaped like an upright football, a long body in the shape of a rectangle (with no feet), and long arms like pool noodles. Thick gloves and chest armor made of white, possibly over-polished armor composed his clothing, along with a belt and earguards. Bubbles drifted wistfully up now and again from the pores on his head and every time his mouth (which was more like a shallow indentation) opened, Regalia saw that his body was indeed full of soap water.

"It's nice to have a visitor! My name's SoapMan, although, I guess you already got that. What brings you here today, stranger?" he asked in a painfully campy way, keeping a big dopey smile on his face and pressing both fists to roughly where his hips ought to be.
"It is necessary that we speak."[color=5A6351][/color] Regalia said in reply, the opaqueness of his visor hiding the fact that his eyes had taken more than a few confused glances at SoapMan's appearance. "And given what we must speak about, I believe you would prefer it to not be done in such a... public space."[color=5A6351][/color] Regalia looked off to the side idly at that, noting the hallway with lots of other offices and doors; anyone could head down this way at any time.

"My title is Regalia.exe. May I come in?"[color=5A6351][/color] He finally asked, a proud rumble in his chest as he spoke.
"Well sure! I've always got time for the citizenry. Come on in and take a seat!" SoapMan suggested, holding the door open with one oversized hand while Regalia moved past. He peeked out for just a moment, spotting a woman in blue clothing and giving a look of surprise. Quickly, he shut the door behind himself.

The inside of SoapMan's office was sort of hideously milquetoast; all of the furniture was polished and white, including his desk and the guest's chairs. He himself had no chair, because his lower body was basically a giant flat sponge with no knees. All across the wall, various posters with motivational speeches and "golden rules" had been plastered. There was no telling what had made the springing noise that Regalia had heard. It might have even been the navi he was talking to, judging by the navi's unfamiliar anatomy.

"What can I do for you today?" the NP officer asked, crossing his hands in front of himself atop his desk, despite not having taken a seat. "Do you have questions related to Prosecutions? I've been getting those a lot lately!"
"Perhaps."[color=5A6351][/color] Regalia said simply, leaning his cane against the chair he was seated in. "You seem like a clean, honest, hard worker, SoapMan."[color=5A6351][/color] Regalia noted, seemingly making an offhanded remark.

Silence reigned for a moment as Regalia waited, staring at SoapMan's face. "Clean and honest."[color=5A6351][/color] He repeated.
"Oh, I get it! Clean! Yeah, I'm always clean," the NP navi giggled, releasing soap bubbles from his wide mouth as his elliptical head rattled. "Honest? Well sure, I'm honest! What kind of NP officer would I be, otherwise? What do you need to know, friend?" SoapMan inquired again, twiddling his thumbs idly as he awaited the question. It was hard to avoid becoming annoyed by his utter obliviousness towards Regalia's reason for being there.
Regalia smirked, then opened his mouth and spoke-- "Honest? Well sure, I'm honest! What kind of NP officer would I be, otherwise?" --but the words were not his.

"Carbuncle."[color=5A6351][/color] Regalia spoke, again, this time in his own voice. His tone was heavy with the seriousness behind his words. "Tell me... about Carbuncle."[color=5A6351][/color]
SoapMan stared blankly for a while, then tapped one enormous finger up and down against his long chin. "Carbuncle? She's AlchemyMan's assistant, right? That's what she told me, anyways. Had documents with his stamp on them, anyways!" he chuckled. "Yes, I recall when she came through a little while ago. I liked her armor, all white and clean! We talked for a little while and she basically told me to just keep on doing what I was doing. Kind of weird, right?"

The navi tensed what semblance of a brow he had and his mouth switched to a stupid frown as he entered deep into thought. "You know, that is weird, isn't it? Kinda feels like she was here for no reason... It'd take a smarter man than me to figure it out!" he finished, laughing so that more bubbles drifted out of his mouth and towards the roof.
In an instant, Regalia had pulled up every single publicly available file on AlchemyMan. None of them were much help, so a second later he had closed them. Regalia deftly swished one leg over the other, the armor smacking together with a threatening clank, then steepled his fingers together with a sigh.

"You are doing a terrible job."[color=5A6351][/color] Regalia said evenly, fingertips tapping together before him. "Not just in dealing with Carbuncle, but at lying as well. And it is not appreciated."[color=5A6351][/color] Regalia ceased his movements at that, the small clanks of his finger-tapping cutting off into silence, and listened intently for any noise from outside.

Afterward, he spoke again. "So what are you going to do, SoapMan?"[color=5A6351][/color] Regalia asked, words inquisitive but dripping with the hidden threat behind them. "Are you going to speak truth? Because I will assure you, I will get to the truth regardless of your actions here..."[color=5A6351][/color] He leaned forward, " is merely a matter of your continued health."[color=5A6351][/color]

Another seemingly-calculated pause as he listened again, then leaned back. "Lying can be... dangerous to one's self, after all. The heart dislikes such things as much as the body."[color=5A6351][/color]
SoapMan's eyes widened and suds began to froth up from various pores on his body as Regalia furthered his interrogation, accusing the officer of unsavory practices. "Well, excuse me! You come in here and say that I'm lying? You're insulting my devotion to my work and threatening me with violence too?! I'm not one to judge character, but sometimes it's part of the job description and I must say, you seem like a real rabblerouser! I assure you I haven't lied in any capacity," the officer defended, pressing one hand to his chest to show how sincerely he meant his words.

"As you may or may not know, I have taken it upon myself to perform an extra duty for the NetPolice Prosecution Department," he continued, walking away from his desk slightly while inspecting the soap dispensers on his wrists. "There's a lot of people out there, such as yourself, who don't fall under any sort of 'criminal' designation, but are none the less very, very rude! I can't tolerate such people filthing up the net, so what I do is I take them in personally and keep them in special holding cells. You're about to see the inside of one such cell, you rude man! We're going to clean up that attitude until you're fit for society!"

And just like that, the navi was approaching Regalia within the small office with one fist pointed straight out towards the civilian's face. "Of course, if you come quietly, that'd make things a lot easier for me and be a good step towards rehabilitation for you! Once you see the error of your ways and become a nice person, it'll be fine to just let you go!"

SoapMan had to be doing something pretty wrong here; perhaps if Regalia could escape and report him to other NP officers, he could avoid a fight? Additionally, SoapMan didn't seem especially smart, so there might be a way to trick him.

SoapMan: 200 HP

SoapMan's desk: 40 HP
SoapMan's chair: 40 HP
Regalia's chair: 40 HP

Regalia: 180 HP

Terrain: 25% Normal (very small area, melee range is inescapable while inside)
(Door is behind Regalia)
"You are doing a terrible job."[color=5A6351][/color] Regalia said again, irritated. He sighed. "You do realize that what you have just said-- and what is now recorded on my PET, firmly out of your lardscummy reach-- is easily enough to get you arrested, reprimanded, and your badge revoked, yes?"[color=5A6351][/color] Regalia paused, a harsh edge creeping into his voice. "Not to mention that you are threatening to arrest and imprison a citizen whom you yourself have said falls under no law of this land as a criminal. That is not only illegal, you pompous milquetoast, it is a crass violation of your responsibility, duty, and vows."[color=5A6351][/color]

"Now sit down and tell me about Carbuncle, or I will have you arrested regardless."[color=5A6351][/color]

Thomas paused on the other end of the line, blinking. "Harsh."

"Be ready with the Areagrab, Thunder2, and AirSword."[color=5A6351][/color] Regalia sent back, staring SoapMan down.

----Turn Splice: No actions used----
X: Try to talk SoapMan down
"Hey, my duty and vows are to keep the peace and put people that upset that piece behind bars! You are one such person; a guy who's rude and calls me names like that can't be put on the streets with good, ordinary folks!" SoapMan defended, literally bubbling with outrage. "I'll have you know that there's a lot of people inside the NP that approve of what I do! They've told me so themselves, in person! And why shouldn't they? All I'm doing is making the net a more wholesome place to live!"

"Anyway, just to show you what a nice guy I am, I'm going to tell you everything I know about that girl before I take you in. You should learn from my example! Okay, let's see... her whole body is covered in white armor and its full of metal plugs; I guess something comes out of her suit when they're uncorked. She's er... a-an adult woman and she's got a really pretty voice! She was very nice to me," SoapMan continued, recalling all of the details as vividly as he could imagine. "She came in, told me she approved of what I was doing, and left. That was it, actually! She didn't even show me what was in the file she was carrying."

"Alright, now you know everything I know about her. Why don't you come along with me to a holding cell now? They're really not bad places to live; I treat their occupants with genuine warmth and compassion, awaiting the day where they'll reciprocate my good behavior and go out to benefit society! Some of them just take so long to get there, so it becomes a pretty elongated imprisonment... but yours doesn't have to be that way!" SoapMan reassured him, coming forward to offer Regalia his hand.

SoapMan: 200 HP

SoapMan's desk: 40 HP
SoapMan's chair: 40 HP
Regalia's chair: 40 HP

Regalia: 180 HP

Terrain: 25% Normal (very small area, melee range is inescapable while inside)
(Door is behind Regalia)
"It is a terrible thing you are doing here, SoapMan. In time you will come to understand it, whether it is by your own hand or the hand of your betters."[color=5A6351][/color] Regalia scratched his brow with an armored finger, then sighed. "I sincerely hope I never have to look upon you again. Farewell, SoapMan."[color=5A6351][/color]

A blink later and Regalia had soundlessly disappeared from the chair he was in, reappearing-- with seemingly no movement, in the hallway outside of SoapMan's office. He casually summoned his cane with a flick of his wrist, and watched as it began to bend, to distort, the handle turning into a pair of halved curves and the length becoming a broad blade. Regalia leaned it against the door handle to SoapMan's office, and then smacked the flat of the blade, driving the tip into the ground. If someone tried to open the door from within, it would now get stuck on the blade.

Just for added protection, the twin curves of the handle curled around the door handle, seemingly of their own volition, and Regalia walked away at a brisk-- yet casual-- pace, glancing discreetly around for any sign of the navi that SoapMan had mentioned. Realizing that his gazes looked rather suspicious, Regalia quickly summoned his helmet, the visor immediately covering his eyes from view. His searching glances doubled almost immediately in pace as, without tilting his head, he quickly searched around, looking every which way he could for Carbuncle while meandering vaguely toward the exit. If things got bad, he needed to be able to bolt.

Fighting the police never turned out well, after all.

1: Areagrab (Teleport + Accuracy UP): Exit SoapMan's office
2: AirSword: Summon and wedge in front of the door handle to block it
4: Helmet signature (20 HP object + Light + passive 20 HP barrier on Regalia; Equipped)
X: Masterwork: +33 HP to Helmet
Deciding against the unwise path of attacking an NP officer inside his own office, Regalia made an exit from the room and then locked SoapMan in. The officer had been ready for a fight, but the confusion allowed Regalia all the time he needed to get a safe distance away. "Oooooh, dish-soap! Whoops! Pardon my language. B-But, er, you get back here, you rude man!" he called out from behind the door, beating on it with his fist to try to get out. It half seemed like he honestly expected Regalia to come back and unlock it for him just out of courtesy...

Regalia helmeted up just in case, then continued moving. As he continued to move away, he heard no sound of SoapMan pursuing, nor did he hear any alarms. In his hurry, however, he bumped into a woman, who was turning from around a sharp corner. The two both fell down, one to either side. "Please sir, watch where you're going," she sighed, bending over to grab some documents she'd dropped.

The woman was entirely decked out in black and gold armor, much of it looking as though ingots had been grafted directly onto the armor. If she hadn't spoken or been wearing lipstick, it might have been difficult to identify her as a woman. Well, at least until she bent over; even clad in her navisuit and hip armor, it was pretty clearly a woman's butt. Unfortunately, she seemed to be in a hurry and might be a little too irascible to entrust with any of his newly acquired dirt on SoapMan to begin with. He might need to keep looking if he wanted to find someone reliable to get more info from.

Of course, Carbuncle was nowhere in sight, as luck would have it.
Regalia crouched down and began to help the woman with gathering her documents.

"Not a problem, my lady. It would be my fault for not seeing you and acting accordingly, not yours."[color=5A6351][/color] He nodded, grabbing a few documents in hand and covertly looking them over as he began to stand back up. His eyes remained shrouded by his visor, however, so it was difficult to tell just where he was looking...

"I had not heard your name, miss. I am Regalia.exe. And you would be?"[color=5A6351][/color] He offered, not a hint of his inner suspicion hiding in his voice. His hands subtly shifted their grip on the documents he had managed to snatch as he held them, grabbing them just a little more securely; he didn't wish for his sudden encounter to decide to, ah, seize the opportunity, after all.
"My name is Bank.EXE. I apologize again, sir," the woman responded with amazing brevity, apparently not wanting to spend any more time talking than she had to. Hastily, she gathered up as many documents as she could, before stopping on the one Regalia was holding. She gave a curt smile and dipped her shoulders, as she realized he must have some intention in keeping his grip so firm. "Is there something I can do for you, sir?" Bank inquired in a voice hideously reminiscent of SoapMan's own obsessive politeness... although it was fairly obvious her own was rooted in sarcasm.

The documents were all in secure folders, which didn't give Regalia much of an idea as to what they contained, but did at the very least show that she was headed somewhere in a hurry with sealed documents. That alone might be interesting context for him. Additionally, they all carried her own name on the seal (as far as he could tell).
"Bank? Seems surprisingly... chaste, for what I assume to be a banker navi, even if it is succinct."[color=5A6351][/color] Regalia commented.

"He might've been crazy, but SoapMan was right, you know. You could be a little nicer." Thomas commented, snacking on a potato chip. The bag crinkled loudly before the line muted the connection, detecting that Thomas had gone quiet again. Regalia nearly snorted aloud.

"Tell me, do you know a navi named Carbuncle?"[color=5A6351][/color] He said, his lips drawn taut into a serious frown, and his hand folding his arm in a more comfortable grip over the folder. "Because she happens to match your description fairly well, and I would most certainly like to talk to her."[color=5A6351][/color]
The black-and-gold-armored navi rolled her eyes, keeping a surprisingly staunch grasp on the folders such that she was drawn in slightly towards Regalia as he retracted the folder into his clutches."Surprisingly chaste? You sure have some preconceptions, don't you?" Bank drawled with a bemused smile. "I don't know who Carbuncle is, but I'm surprised you're saying she matches my description. How many navis incorporate a gold bullion into their armor, exactly?"

The officer gave an experimentally harder tug on the document, trying to pull it back into her grasp. "Why don't you go talk to the help desk down the hall? I don't know any navi by that name, but maybe they'll be willing to help you. Just don't bump into them and try to hold their files hostage, hm?" she suggested, lowering both penciled-thin eyebrows. "Or do you not realize that there's something wrong with seizing the confidential file of an Internal Affairs officer in the middle of a public hallway?"

Of course, the "public" hallway wasn't actually terribly busy, regardless of what she said. In fact, nobody really seemed to be watching them.
At her comment about "gold bullion", Regalia looked down at his own gold-on-silder armor, embedded with gems and looking supremely valuable. "Aside from you and myself? I would assume anyone with a GMO and similar tastes."[color=5A6351][/color] he said curtly, keeping his grip on the folder strong. Over the line he could hear Thomas laughing. Loudly.

"Regardless, I have my reasons to find you suspicious. Present some credentials which back your argument, or I cannot, in good conscience, relinquish this folder to you."[color=5A6351][/color] His eyes brimmed with emotion as his gaze leveled with Bank's--not that she could see them behind the visor.