The Tako Secret Sushi Store

"If Biggy was here, he'd recommend you bend over so we test that theory," Tammy pointed out, still smirking. For all that Biggy was a pervert, she seemed to have sexual harassment on the brain as well, though the answer as to why wasn't as apparent as it was with him.

Heidi listened to Mei, keeping her eyes averted respectfully until the other girl was dressed. "Frat party...?" she murmured, sounding curious and briefly lost in thought, before stammering and answering the other point. "Er, oh, no! Don't worry about that. I highly doubt Jacques put anything like that in here. It wouldn't match his motivations, from my extensive profiling of him... however, imprisoning us down here or making us mind control slaves would match his motivations, so let's remain on our guard."

Tammy laughed again, bringing her camera up to catch the best angle on Mei. "Sorry you guys had some bad luck, but I'm not being recorded anyway. There's no need for me to take mine off," she taunted. "Hey, could you try to tone down the 'me, me, me' stuff? NCPs, your problems, all that stuff. People are going to want you to be in this for the sake of saving the world from mind control, not for getting your navi jazzed up for the Colosseum or whatever. Really they aren't gonna want to hear you complain all the time anyway. Can't you think of anything good to say?"

It sounded like she was trying to goad Mei into a fight, or else, was just tonedeaf to how annoying such a request would be. At any rate, Heidi shook her head and interjected again. "Don't worry about that, Mei. Come on... we should see what's through the next gate," she rallied them both, looking out of place amidst the other busy girls in uniform as they headed through the dark doorway.

On the other side was a clean, wide elevator with mirrored walls, perhaps not surprising considering they had definitely run out of space for the building to span backward. It appeared to lead up to the attic or down to the lab. "Ah ha ha... at least this choice is easy," Heidi chuckled dryly, before pushing the button to make the elevator descend.

A smooth but awkwardly lengthy ride would take them down to the subterranean lab level. The door opened up to reveal perhaps a large laboratory space, perhaps surprisingly large to those who hadn't seen the full scale of Jacques' robots before. While it was very large, it was also very dark and abandoned... a few nefarious looking devices and even more evil looking giant, octopus shaped robots were lurking in the darkness, but none of them moving.

The only lit portions were a long walkway with handrails, leading to the wall on the back of the room. At that wall was a large, octopus shaped console, with seats suspended on its curled tentacles. The piece was very befitting an evil layer; it would be out of place anywhere else. Also noteworthy: a single light was flickering over a large door, locked with another giant, octopus shaped machine hanging over the doorframe.

"This must be it, huh? The server you were looking for. Unless its yet another room back," Tammy spoke up first.

"Hmm... I imagine it probably is. Although that begs the question what is behind that door. At any rate, there is a conventional jack-in port on this console, and it appears to have power. The screen says 'sleep mode,'" she pointed out literally, placing one finger just below the blinking message in green. "How about it, Mei? Are you ready to jack in, or should we check out that last door first?"

The door in the back had another monitor attached, although this one had not immediately flashed on to display Locksmith. Interestingly, a few items sat on a dashboard nearby that door: a box of saltine crackers, a stack of paper cups, and a small, box-shaped device with one red button on top, as well as a message taped to the surface: "INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO."
"Somehow, that's not really comforting..." Mei shook her head at the 'assurance' that the octopus obsessed man was only interested in imprisoning and enslaving them, and not doing things that would happen at a sleazy frat party. She then looked over at Tammy, and smirked. "Famous last words, 'Tiny'."

"Now now, you guys. If it's going to get harder, you need to work together, not tear each other apart."

"True. Still, you'd think that someone that cares so much about their camera wouldn't try to piss off the woman with the tools and technical know-how to make short work of it..."

"See, that's exactly what I mean! Togetherness! Teamwork! You three need to work on it!"

"I'm perfectly willing, but-" Heidi's interruption made her stop and shrug, as Mei wasn't quite emotionally invested enough to further disparage the camerawoman. "All right, all right. Faster we head down there, faster we leave." They headed into the elevator, and down they went. Once it started, though, she placed her hand on her chin thoughtfully. "Hmm. Now I'm kinda curious what he'd keep in that attic. Not enough that I want to check it out on the way back up, mind you..." From there, it was just an awkward, quiet ride down.

Things would cease to be quiet, however, when the doors opened to reveal what was down there. "Whoa! This place is huge for something beneath a sushi restaurant! ...The man really needs to vary up his tastes, though. At least throw in a squid or something for variety...and, maybe it's just because it's pretty dark, but I've gotta hand it to him. They're actually not nearly as horribly constructed as I would've thought, at least as far as I can tell. So, Heidi, someone actually climbed one of these while they were moving? I said it before, but I'll say it again. That's awesome. You'd have to be in really good shape to do that...some upper body strength, too. Who were they, a pro martial artist or something?"

"Um, you're kinda rambling on at this point, Mei..."

"Yeah, I know. I guess I'm just starting to get a little nervous."

"Me too. I don't want to see you become someone's mind slave!"

"That makes two of us..." The group made their way to the back, and the octopus console it contained. "So, what now? I doubt this is hooked up to a cable box." ...Ah, the server. That worked, too. "So, this is a server? It doesn't exactly look like one, but you're the expert. One thing I'm pretty sure about, is that we shouldn't check that door out yet. That Navi'll get suspicious if we go around checking rooms without approval."

"Yes, we really shouldn'" ...Sorry, what was that first option? "J-Jack in?!"

"You heard her. Looks like you're going to have to go in."

"Hold on a, does he mind control Navis...?"

"You've got traits that'll help you out here. First of all, if you actually do get mind controlled, Ray can always try to snap you out of it. Close bonds and all that. Second, thanks to Ray, you can jet out of there in a hurry if something happens. Third, you're adorable, and that might make that Navi drop her guard a little."

"Thank you...? But I suppose it can't be helped. It'd be heartless to make you go through what you have already without risking it happening to me as well."

"That's the spirit...I think...oh, on that note, I think you should leave Ray behind. It might raise an eyebrow if you went in riding on him."

"True, not many Navis do that. I'll leave my spear unsummoned as well, so I don't look too threatening. I can call it in a jiffy, anyway."

"Probably wise. ...Are you sure you're okay with doing this? Who knows what'll happen once you're in the network."

"Thank you for the concern, but if I want to reach the goals I aspire to, I'll need to throw caution to the wind and triumph over all obstacles! Even ones that could end up with me covered in tentacles!..."

"I'm sending you in before you manage to talk yourself out of it." There was the port, so point, "Jack in! Skye, Execute!"
Tammy regarded Mei's words by pulling up her lower lip in a pensive frown... but something was shining in her eyes, underneath horizontally set dark eyebrows. Divining the subject of the interest discretely gleaming in her gleaming eyes would be difficult. Still, she seemed to go back to her earlier quiet persona, sulking quietly in the corner of the elevator and fiddling with her camera as the three took a long ride together.

In Mei's defense, she had plenty of time to ramble with a captive audience. "I am not sure why it's always an octopus and never a squid... maybe eight is his lucky number?" Heidi posited with an idle smile, trying to be friendly but finding it hard to make small talk given the circumstances. "She actually was a pro martial artist! Her name's Leslie, she lives at a dojo. I didn't know it at the time. Later on, I visited her place and we took a bath together-"

The camera was suddenly back on her, peeping from the corner. Noticing that, she backtracked quickly. "I-I-It was a hot spring bath, so it's normal for people to bathe together there!" she clarified, squirming in her uniform.

Noting Skye's concerns, she nodded sympathetically. "I would send Incognito in too, but I'm worried that if Jacques' navi, Mindroot, is inside, she will recognize him. As for Tammy..."

The cameralady tapped her camera with one hand. "I think I'll send my navi in too. Not much point in just filming all of us standing here," she responded, stepping forward with her PET.

That seemed to surprise Heidi, who allowed it regardless. "Um, yes, he has been known to use mind control on navis as well. Be careful in there... I think you're as prepared as anyone can be," she agreed. With that, Tammy and Mei jacked their navis in, leaving the door for another time.
As soon as she saw Skye (whose outfit was thankfully fully refreshed upon her return) back in her PET, Mei made a dash for the door. As she started to open it, she turned her head back to the other two, one of which had no intentions of going anywhere. "What?! How do you know it'll...actually, there's no way to know it won't be able to tear through the door. Fine...but be careful. C'mon Heidi, she's probably right! If there's a way to shut this down, it's forward!" Grabbing her by the wrist, she opened the door and pulled her into the next room, whatever it contained. So long as it wasn't robots, they'd probably be fine...for now.
"As your new friend, it hurts me to say this, but once you see the kinds of means and methods I have access to, you'll realize that ignoring me isn't a viable long term option, Skyyyye!" Locksmith giggled from all around Mei and the other operators. "Don't worry! Even if there's a falling out now, it seems like we'll have a lot of time to make up and become besties again!" Skye's exit did not seem to have improved the navi's mental state.

The sense of urgency with which Mei pulled was not lost on Heidi, who was gunning it toward the back room with all her might as well. "I hope we can stop it from back there! Those navis in Locksmith's console may have been our only shot at full deactivation, and I doubt getting back in will be as easy as it was the first time," she huffed as they bolted through the door into the dimly lit room behind it. Behind them, there was the sound of something dragging across the floor with a scratchy noise, then colliding metal upon metal as it plunged forward, not toward them, but presumably toward the one girl that had remained behind.

For a moment, the sight that greeted them inside the room would probably make it seem as though the girls had reached a "game over" point already. What looked to be a pinkish-purple, octopus-headed man was standing right next to the door, dressed in a butler's tailed coat and top-hat. However, its range or motion seemed to be limited to swerving its torso left and right, so it didnt appear to have the capacity to harm or capture unless they got close. On one of its hands was a serving tray, currently empty. Upon closure inspection, the robot seemed as though it had been beaten and torn at, at some point.

The rest or the room was just as freaky as that first aspect. The room had no furniture save a small, silver stool, bolted to the floor, and a foul smelling bathroom stall in the back. At one time, this may have actually been a bathroom. Discarded toilet paper rolls and tins of dog-food were scattered all around. The lighting was scant, but what could be seen revealed that there were equations and notes scratched into many surfaces, as well as many folded into makeshift pens for the room's captive. Finally, most notably, a ragged-looking, dark-skinned man emerged from the back of the room, still carrying one such folded dog-food lid as though he could use it as a weapon. The guy had a pretty large frame, but that said, his square jaw and large hands seemed to be hanging from uncomfortably thin wrists and neck respectively, indicating beyond the dog-food that he had been malnourished during his stay.

"Don't look at the butler!" he warned them. "I've figured it out! The butler he... cannot be trusted!" the man spoke in a troubled voice. As he approached, the two could make out the shabby black business suit he wore, the tie long-since discarded. His hair was worn in thick, uncut tails that had perhaps once been dreadlocks, though he lacked the mirror or the means to get them styled as such now. A thick beard covered his face, with a few strands of gray evident. His eyes looked like two white marbles bulging out from his gaunt face. "The door... it's... open! Has it ever been open before?! One of the other times...?" he asked no one in particular. "You two... you're dressed as Jacques' henchmen! What are you here to do?! Has that bastard finally come to finish the job?!" he asked, beginning to approach with menace clear in his expression.

"No, nothing like that. We're only in disguise," Heidi reassured him, although she had adopted some obscure martial arts stance to prepare to defend herself. By the awkwardness of her position, it was clear she had only recently begun to practice it.

The man regarded the two suspiciously. "I don't trust anyone who looks like they work for that man... What do you two want? You here to bust me out?" he asked, skeptical, but perhaps hopeful.

"We are actually here to deactivate the robots and we need your help," Heidi added. "Right now!" she punctuated that thought, as another metallic crash came from the room behind them.

"What, what can I do?" he asked, seeming to shrink back slightly. "I'm so weak I feel like I'm gonna fall over... If you two are being attacked by robots I'm not gonna be any help at all..." he muttered nervously. Mei might be able to think of a way he could help, regardless.
"Don't worry about that for now. Maybe I can juryrig something if it comes to that!" For now, Mei was mostly interested in saving as many as possible...though once the door was closed, it really hit her that ended up not being everyone. "Damn! This wouldn't have happened if I hadn't opened my big mouth..."

"No, you did it to save me. It's my fault for letting myself end up in that situation to begin with..."

"Skye..." She would've done a sappy 'you don't need to blame yourself' speech, but looking to the side completely stopped that. "Oh cripes!...Huh?" ...It...was a robot, but it wasn't the kind that could move around and do...things. "'s not a threat. I wouldn't get too close to it, though."

"That's a seems rather scuffed up, though. I wonder why?"

"Don't know, don't really care." Not wanting to spend the rest of her life staring at an octopus man robot, Mei turned to get a good look at the room. "This place would make a prison cell look comfy...wait, is that dog food? I don't think Jacques is much for dogs, so..." Before reaching her conclusion, the presence of a man confirmed it. "Holy-have you been stuck in here this whole time?!"

"No way...he even resorted to imprisoning someone? I suppose I'm not terrible surprised, but still...does Jacques's cruelty know no bounds?"

"Apparently not." The budding engineer had no idea who this person was, but one thing was clear: he was missing a screw or five. Couldn't blame him, if he'd been stuck in here for who knew how long. "Don't worry, I'm pretty sure that door was locked tight until we came down here." He proceeded to note how they were dressed, which made her flinch a bit. " me, if I had anything else to wear, I'd be wearing it right now. And honestly, being naked doesn't sound THAT bad compared to this..."

"Well, since we know you're here, busting out would be nice. Problem is, we've also got robots after us. There was one more of us earlier, but she stayed behind to slow them down..."


"I guess there's not a lot we can do. Though..." Mei headed over to a wall, and ran her fingertips over the various scratch marks. "What are these notes? I can't tell what these equations are."

"......" In her PET, Skye closed her eyes, something popping into her head. Apparently, Locksmith was being borrowed by Jacques. One without any sort of outside contact. But, that arrangement was strange from the beginning. An operated Navi would have to have some sort of link with their operator, to ensure that they had full battle capabilities. And yet, Locksmith didn't have one. That made no sense, especially for a security Navi. It seemed unlikely that her operator would go an entire year without a Navi for a single job, that would be too inconvenient. And yet, he had. How? Nowadays, without a Navi, you might as well be living under a rock, or be stuck in couldn't be...but the timing seemed to line up about right...could it really be possible...? "No way!"

"Hmm? Do they make any sense to you, Skye?"

"No, not that, I just...I have to ask." The virus rider appeared (sans virus) on Mei's shoulder via hologram. She seemed oddly nervous, almost like she was afraid to actually ask. "Excuse me, your name, by any chance, Daedric Locke...?"
The man looked further dejected as Mei revealed she didn't have an escape plan, but he responded with the wide-eyed fervor that only one who sees their first opportunity to escape a dungeon can muster. "It's a long story and they aren't really important right now... I was trapped in here and... somebody left these for me. Whoever was trapped here before me, I guess. But it's my handwriting... But that doesn't make sense..." he mused, joining Mei in closely reading the scribbles. "Did I write these? But I don't have any memory of doing so."

He raised his eyebrows as Skye appeared, then furrowed his brow. "I am... I am Daedric Locke," he answered, sounding oddly uncertain of myself. "I was hired to work on a security system for some scientist, Wilhelm Jacques... did a real good job too... I'm the finest security expert in the world, some say. Anywho... he must've done something, cause next thing I know, I wake up and I'm here. He had me drugged or something... I figure it's gotta be that robot here. I suppose I've probably been here a few months eating this dog food to stay alive."

His time table was weirdly off compared to his navi's; judging by his appearance, he was probably the one mistaken, because even 3 months wouldn't be enough to grow out his hair that long. "Dammit, I'm a security mastermind! That's no bragging; I'm on INNETVATE magazine with that little title written under me. How the heck did I get trapped in here?" he grumbled, clutching his head.

An interesting question, but very much secondary to the point for now. Skye may have an idea of what they needed to do now that they'd gotten to the root of the man's identity. The noises outside had shifted to some other part of the laboratory being bashed to the door they'd shut behind them being bashed... that meant they were just about out of time.

Heidi was thinking similarly and voiced their next course of action. "Mr. Locke, you've got to get out there and tell Locksmith the contract is off! She's... gone crazy or something, and she won't stop attacking even though she knows Jacques double-crossed her!" she pleaded.

"Oh, that's not crazy. That's just how I programmed her. The ultimate security-" he began, before Heidi shot one finger towards the door, which was shaking on it's very sturdy door-frame. "Yes, yes! I want to stop her too! But how can I do that?! It sounds like I'm going to be dog kibble myself as soon as I open that door, and it doesn't seem like there's any way to contact Locksmith from in here!"

The ball was back in Mei and Skye's court; they would need to find a way to open the door long enough for the frail operator to terminate his navi's contract.
" definitely wrote this, if it's your handwriting. But it doesn't sound like this writing's very useful info..." Hmm? That was odd, why did Skye hologram on her...oh. OH. "Wait, you think this guy is...I mean, that would make some sense, but..." .But sure enough, that's who it was. "Wow. And I thought that guy was cartoon levels of evil before."

Skye seemed to be more relieved than anything, her earlier stress probably stemming from the fact she was worried about if it wasn't the man in question. "I knew it...but now we know what we have to do!"

"Which is honestly great, but, you know, giant robot out there, smashing stuff!" As if to spite Mei, it soon became clear that said robot had moved onto the door. "...Make that smashing the door...wait, if the robot comes in and sees him, won't Locksmith-"

"I can't say for sure. The OS for those robots might or might not provide enough visual'd be too risky."

"Damn...then we'll need to jack back in and show her ourselves! Which I realize is easier said than done..."

"But how? I don't know how those robots work..."

...Wait. Of course! "No, you don't. But you're also not experienced with this nutjob's tricks." The student looked over at Heidi, looking oddly like her Navi when asking Daedric her question. "Heidi! You know this guy better than anyone. Could Locksmith see us through the robot? Is there any way we could distract it for a moment so someone could get through the door? Anything you can think of might help, even if it's just a little bit!" She might have to make do with a little bit, too, based on how that robot was sounding...
"She should be able to see through to the outside! The robots each have an optic array, cameras in their eyes, which-" the man called Locke began, but Heidi cut him off for the sake of time.

"That won't work! Almost every robot and machine we've seen in here has had some issue with its optics, preventing Locksmith from clearly seeing who is on the other side," the Jacques-expert of the group pointed out. "And if she's as much of a stickler as you say she is, she isn't going to stop just at the sight of you. For starters, you don't even look like... you anymore," she added, trying to think of the nicest way to say he looked like crap. Mei echoed thoughts along the same lines.

Heidi's knowledge was called upon next, to provide an answer where seemingly there was none. "Well... despite what apparently happened to Tammy, we haven't heard a scream or anything worse. Even with how hard that robot is going at it, I think it just wants that door out of the way. Make no mistake: Wilhelm Jacques M.O. is never to kill, always to control. I'd bet my bottom dollar that thing is going to try to hypnotize it once it gets through. If we were to let it get a hold of me... you could break through and jack in Skye. No telling if more or waiting out there, though."

"If you can jack in Skye and then turn a viewscreen on so Locksmith can see my face, it will definitely work!" the former captive agreed. "I support this plan!" Heidi didn't object, but one might imagine she'd resent his eagerness to sacrifice her for this.

"Looks like we're out of time!" Heidi announced, backing up from the door as a hungry tentacle shot through the dented, bowed side. The appendage wrapped the frame, then crumpled it further, before yanking it off its hinge and allowing the whole robot inside.

At this point, Mei's only option was either to jump in the way and stop it from tackling Heidi, or else, to run for the console herself. Locke was already beginning a dash for the door, to circle around whichever unfortunate lady was caught. On the other side, a robot was writhing slowly in the corner, but it was hard to tell where Tammy had gone. The path to the console was clear for jack-in.
"I can't say I love the plan involving more sacrificing, but I don't think we have a lot of options at this point." It was a good thing Mei wasn't especially against the plan formulated, as a giant robot burst through to let them know their time was up, and regrettably had no apparent function to provide them with liquid refreshment. "Ugh, I'm sorry, Heidi! I'll do this as quick as I can!" Luckily, the way to the console was robot-free, so she started racing towards it. "Skye, get ready!"

"I'm on it!" Inside the PET, the Navi hopped up on her virus friend, looking determined as she grabbed the reins. "Speed's the key here, so I'll need your help, Ray. Consider it a final test before we can truly take flight!" There was no obvious reaction, but she could feel it in her heart...the Fishy was ready, willing, and able. "Jack in at will, Mei!"

"Almost...there...!" As she neared the console, however, a problem was arising. Due to the slippery material of her outfit, combined with parts of her bouncing as she ran as fast as she was able, Mei was hit with a fashion disaster, as her breasts popped out from underneath the straps of her Wilheim-approved apparel. She didn't seem to notice, however, as she simply pointed her PET at the console's port once again. "Jack in! Skye, Execute!"