The Bond

{EAX002}

[<<< From ACDC Town: Repetition for Emphasis <<<]

Eric entered the living room to find Stacey already waiting.

"So it's time. Did you talk to your 'friend' yet?"

Friend? He thinks of me as his 'friend'? A small blush came across her face. She'd never had a friend before.

"Her name is Amity," Eric responded. "And I guess we'll give being partners a chance."

"Good," came a voice from Stacey's PET. "If you plan on working together then we need to put that bond to the test."

"Thank you Crony, couldn't have said it better," Stacey replied before connecting her PET to the black box on the wall that bordered the dining room. With a beam of red light, her navi disappeared from the PET screen.

"Amity's turn," she said, pointing to the black box.

Wait. THIS is the test? I thought they were going to ask us questions. 'In this situation', that kind of stuff. My way of busting is frowned upon!

Directing the emitter to the black box, Eric launched the 'Send' command.

"Wait, you don't-"

A giant spiral of multi-coloured fragments engulfed Amity as the transmission began and she entered the slipstream. "-know." All kinds of random segments of data, light and colours whizzed by as she began her first network traversal. "THIS IS AMAZING!" she squealed, if only to herself. It all looked so magical to her.

Suddenly she sensed a large presence coming at her, which instantly gravitated her feet toward the source. Two seconds later, the slipstream dispersed, and performing an aerial somersault in line with the gravitational pull, Amity landed with a graceful touch.

The thud behind her that followed was not so delicate. She turned around to find herself staring at a rather tall and bulky navi, sporting colours of red, blue, black and white. It had a rather fearful look of disdain on its face and was definitely not impressed at needing to be there.

"So. You're Crony. Hi." Amity said before extending out a hand in an attempt at a friendly greeting.

The navi did not reciprocate. "Pleasantries. Completely unnecessary at this stage." Turning his back to her, he pointed towards a glowing bulb in the far distance. "You see that?"

"Umm, yes?"

"Head towards it."

"Wait, that's the test?" she pondered out loud.

Crony sighed and shook his head. "No. The test will be how you deal with any hostiles along the way. Master Eric needs someone who can hold their own." He looked up and down her build. "I highly doubt that's you."

"Crony." A voice reverberated from the area around them, unmistakably belonging to Stacey. "You don't get to make that call, only I do."

"Sorry ma'am." Cronos stuck out his well-built arm and pointed towards the glowing orb. "Start walking. I'll be following and watching from a distance."

Oh I am SO in over my head right now... "Whatever you say boss," she replied with a hint of sarcasm in her voice.

"GO! And don't call me 'boss'!" he commanded, again thrusting his hand towards the orb.

'I'm not testing you'. Nope. Of course not. RIGHT. As she began walking, she checked her disruptor cells, exchanges and blades. Everything was in order.

"You want me to bust viruses. Fine. But I'll do it my way. Not yours," she muttered as she walked off.

------

Amity: 150 HP

[Disruptors at the ready; busting that 'isn't busting'. This should be fun! REQUESTING BATTLE 1!]
It was a fine day indeed for testing. Emulating the forecast for coastal Electopia, the heat whipped a playful breeze down the grassy pathways of ACDC Net. In the distance, one could see a walkway along what looked like a riverfront, continuing a walking-speed highway roughly in the direction of Crony's guidance orb.

Amity had only been walking scarcely a moment before she encountered a sight that merited at least a double-take. A series of ball courts were stationed along the walkway for anyone fancying a game. One such court was occupied not with Navis, but viruses. Three Metools of distinctly varying sizes were spread across the brightly dyed turf, utterly focused on some arcane game involving a large black ball. The smallest was currently in possession, though it was alone on its side.

The larger two leered and catcalled a series of squeaks across the field, to which the smallest turned its nose, and in that moment beheld their visitor. It immediately started motioning frantically with its mattock, giving the universal sign for 'come here'. What could come from such an encounter? There was only one way to find out.

-Sports Junkies-

LilMetool: 40hp [Grass (Red Court)] [In possession]
MedMetoolB: 40hp [Grass (Blue Court)]
BigMetool: 40hp [Grass (Blue Court)]

-Lookie-Loo-

Amity.EXE: 150Hp [Normal] [1 Movement away]

-Terrain-

50% Normal [Surrounding area]
50% Grass [Fenced courtyard, divided halfway between Red Court & Blue Court]

-Special-

Fenced Courtyard: Attacking the courtyard from outside the insurmountable chain-link fence is impossible , as is vice versa.

Black Ball: a large black ball, it can be moved by many means.

=Battle 1, Start?=
Amity noticed that there was a pathway that seemed to go the same direction the bulb was situated. She tried to think of an excuse, a diversion, something that would give her just a few moments alone with Eric, to explain her situation. She'd mentioned it already, but did he remember?

Better yet, did he care?

As if someone had noticed her dilemma and thrown her a lifeline, Amity heard the faint buzzing of a speaker over the transmission between Eric and herself. It sounded like it was coming from the same room.

"Really?! Can I not get an hour to myself???" came an irritated voice that sounded like Stacey. Amity kept listening to a new conversation as she kept moving forward. In a much more composed voice, it sounded like Stacey was talking to someone. "Bauersox..........that's right, I'll be in at two o-clo-..........patrol? We don't cover that sector, that falls t-..........with respect, captain, they haven't been willing to help us these last few weeks, so I don't understand wh-..........no no, I understand. Tell Command I'll be there tomorrow..........I know the path, it... hold on one second..." a few more muffled sounds, followed by a door slamming. Had Stacey left the room?

She quickly looked over her shoulder. Crony was about twenty steps behind her; close enough to hear her speak, but likely not loud enough to hear WHAT she was saying.

"Eric? Can you hear me?" she spoke softly, maintaining her walk.

"Is something wrong?" Eric asked.

Amity sighed. "I told you, I can't delete viruses. It's not right," she reaffirmed. "If this is your sister's test, she won't like the result."

A short silence followed. Amity looked at the ground as she walked. 'The bond' they wanted her to develop was not possible.

"How'd you survive the initial test then?" Eric asked. "One of the courses they taught us in primary school said that all navis were tested against wild viruses to ensure they could survive. I remember getting upset at watching weak ones get deleted because they couldn't make the cut. If you had failed, you wouldn't be alive."

Amity was surprised. Not about what Eric said particularly, but that humans watched such destruction of navis possibly just like her, hard on the outside but soft on the inside, like... like it was a natural part of life. It made her angry.

"I didn't die, if that's what you're concerned about," she said with a slight huff in her voice.

Eric could see he'd unintentionally struck a nerve. "Look, I didn't mean it like that..." Eric apologised. "What I meant was, if you passed, you had to have deleted viruses, right? If you did it once, you can do it again."

Amity stopped on the path. If I have any chance of making this work, I guess he needs to know the truth, she finally decided. "I didn't delete anything," she muttered.

"Then how did you pass that test?" Eric wanted an answer... NEEDED an answer.

Amity began walking again. "How much do you know about the emergency jackout protocol?" she asked.

"Emergency jackout protocol?..." Eric stopped to think for a second. "Oh, you mean an EJO? Like, your getaway failsafe if you've taken too much damage?"

"Yes, that. It's not just limited to navis. All viruses have a hard-coded EJO command as well. It's just that most viruses are too stupid to use it, so they become pixellated dust," she explained.

"Wow. I... I didn't know that."

"Most people don't," Amity confirmed. "I was the result of one scientist's theorems that navis can be peacemakers and protectors at the same time. As a result, my body is made of many types of variable disruptors instead of the normal digitisers you'd expect to find in a combat navi. Any weapon I fire, battlechip or otherwise, does not inflict damage, but instead begins a degredation of core network sustainability. If I can overload a virus' code with enough irregularities, it will trigger a critical stability degredation error and invoke the virus equivalent of an... EJO... as you called it."

"...so, you literally cannot kill a virus?"

"I cannot. I can only disrupt their internal code at a network level, which separates their internal core from their external chassis, and sends the core back to its base mainframe." When Eric didn't respond, Amity was about to explain further but stopped upon hearing the muffled sound of a door closing.

"Okay, I'm back. Did I miss anything?" Stacey asked.

"Only the newbie dragging her feet," Crony replied from a distance.

Amity turned her head to the hulkish navi and gave it a glare. What's your problem, buddy? she wondered.

A light breeze came out of nowhere and threw her hair into the wind, creating long waves of flowing purple hair. Without even realising, she'd managed to walk into a recreational area that looked rather inviting. Any negative emotions were quickly pushed aside by the abundance of lush grass and neon red and neon blue turf.

Amity's attention was quickly drawn to three small entities circling a large black ball of some kind. At first she thought that maybe it belonged to all three, but when the two larger ones began to separate themselves from the smaller one, it suddenly became very clear to her what was going on.

It was a game. And the strong intended to pick on the weak.

Not on her watch.

She quickly sized up the scene around her. It was just the four of them. The size advantage of the largest and middle-sized helmets would be negated should she join up with the smallest one. Whatever rules they had made up, she was certain she could figure it out. It only took a brief wave of the smallest one's pickaxe for a sign of assistance, and she was off. The test could wait. It wasn't like she would pass anyway.

"Hey, stop! What are you doing?!" Crony yelled from the distance.

There was a large chained fence surrounding the court. That wasn't going to stop Amity. One set of fingers interlocked with an upper portion of the fence, followed by a hard jump and successive cartwheel over the remainder of the fence, and Amity was airborne, propelling herself off the top of the fence itself and pirouetting in mid-air. Unbeknownst to her, as she twirled in an arc her dress began emitting a misty trail behind her, as if she had unleashed water vapour in her wake.

Landing on the other side of the fence in perfect stance, she dashed over to the centre of the action. It only took another large jump and instantly she was by the side of the smaller yellow helmet. "Hey, I don't know if you can understand me, but us little guys have got to stick together, right?" she said whilst high-fiving its helmet. She turned her attention to her new opponents. "What do you need me to do?"

----------

Action List:
[1] Movement -> Leap over the fence
[2] Movement -> Join LilMetool
[3] Interaction -> High-five LilMetool, Engage Opponents

Amity.EXE - 150 HP
The Metools watched in unanimous awe at the newcomer's entrance. The smallest hardhat meeped up a storm as he was high-fived square in the plus-sign, tapping his little feet like an excited dog. The larger two jeered at Amity with impressive bravado, but there was a definite hint of uncertainty to them now that they had just lost both the numbers and the height advantage.

Whether or not the miniature Met understood Amity's words or not, it didn't waste any more time. It toddled over to the game ball, affecting a long look of emphasis at it. It then turned that same look to the Navi, and lastly to the other viruses. Finally, it wound back a size -7 shoe, and gave the ball a massive skyward boot.

The other side of the court exploded into motion as the ball sailed high, high overhead. A closer look, however, would match the kick's parabola to land right square over Amity's head; it had been a volley. Time seemed to slow down in the seconds before it was due to impact...but hang on a moment. There was something in the court, some ambient static that seemed to demand attention.

Just what was that mysterious ticking noise?

-Sports Junkies-

LilMetool: 40hp [Grass (Red Court)]
MedMetoolB: 40hp [Grass (Blue Court)]
BigMetool: 40hp [Grass (Blue Court)]

-Lookie-Loo-

Amity.EXE: 150Hp [Grass (Red Court)] [Incoming!]

-Terrain-

50% Normal [Surrounding area]
50% Grass [Fenced courtyard, divided halfway between Red Court & Blue Court]

-Special-

Fenced Courtyard: Attacking the courtyard from outside the insurmountable chain-link fence is impossible , as is vice versa.

Black Ball: a large black ball, it can be moved by many means. It has begun to tick...
Amity watched her new companion suddenly dash forward. It looked like they would get to make the first move.

"Cut that out! You have more important things to be doing!" Crony yelled from behind the fence. He had tried to perform the same maneouvre that Amity had performed moments ago, but his larger size and lack of similar athleticism made such a feat almost impossible, and his hands were far too large to fit into the diamond mesh grid. Surely such a fence would pose no challenge for the battle-hardened navi, but it didn't look like he was making much of an effort to try and make it to where the action was taking place.

It didn't matter much; her teammate, once inspecting the ball and its surroundings, took one of its feet and gave the ball a mighty boot. For such small creatures, they certainly knew how to kick.

As it made contact with the black ball, sending it high into the air, Amity felt her antennae vibrate ever so slightly. For a brief moment, it had detected something in the localised region. No time for that now; it was only a slight twitch so it wasn't terribly important.

But wait, it had kicked the ball BACKWARDS. Why? Shouldn't it have tried to get the ball past the team?

Only once it started its curve back across the court did she put two and two together. It was heading straight for her; a team play.

If this was a distance game, height was going to be her advantage in getting it past the two goons on the other side. Time to get some altitude, she thought to herself. Quickly positioning herself in such a way that her left foot was in front of the right, her left leg only slightly bent while the right was curved at a much larger degree, she reached for the ground with her right hand, positioning it between her two feet whilst generating some frenzy gel.

Frenzy gel was one of the various disruptor gels her body was capable of creating, but for some reason many of her defined utilities were either corrupted or offline. Amity had wondered about this as she'd completed her pre-checks earlier, as she couldn't think of any reason or cause for them to have been corrupted between the training facility and here. No matter; only a very small amount would be required for the purpose she had in mind, and surely her systems could manage that in their weakened state.

As it secreted itself out of her arm and moved into her palm, all of which was hidden by her cyan dress, she waited for the right moment to propel herself upward. In fact, with the pose she had chosen, she could even stylise the move, going for a backflip contact.

Eric had been watching the change in movement and was thoroughly confused. "Umm, what are you doing...?" he asked quizzically.

The ball was exactly where it needed to be, so no time to explain, only demonstrate. "THIS!" she yelled as she ionised the gel and jettisoned it to the ground. As the distance between said hand and the ground was less than five centimetres (OOC: 2") the resulting shockwave was sent straight back up through her arm, reverberated into her chest, and suddenly gravity no longer applied.

Amity lauched into the air. A perfect launch, too; the ball was in the optimum position for a wicked punt right over their silly heads.

As she began her aerial flip to complete the trick, she instantly regretted the entire decision. Her antennae were starting to vibrate erratically and only got worse the higher she rose, and there was only one thing that could possibly be the epicentre of the sudden danger that was setting off her environmental feelers.

And she was two seconds away from booting it with great force. No possible way to change trajectories either; her math had been TOO perfect.

Please, please, PLEASE just be a glitch...

----------

Actions:
[1] Prepare -> Brace for upwards launch
[2] Movement -> Jump/launch to meet Black Ball
[3] Action -> Kick Black Ball

Amity.EXE - 150 HP

----------

OOC: I really have no idea what you have planned here. My OOC knowledge has me guessing a timed explosion is definitely imminent, but how? Where? When? Doesn't matter; a good RP'er stays in character. :D

Also, the 'frenzy gel' is part of what will become a sig attack of a much larger nature later on, but given that it's not being used for anything advantageous (a large jump could've done the same thing, but not nearly as exciting to write) and can't/won't affect any actual battle mechanics, I figured that would be okay. It's all part of the storyline gradual reveal (assuming I get that far) but please let me know if it's not okay.
The ball hung in the air like a stage's moon prop under the force of LilMet's initial boot. Capitalising like a seasoned professional, Amity readied her personal supply of 'Physics-B-Gone' and brought it to bear in a textbook grenade jump. Somewhere, a kid playing an FPS had the strangest urge to salute.

At the peak of her jump, Amity stretched a leg high to the heavens, and slammed the ball down with a pele kick. The instant her foot made contact with the ball, she could feel a click from somewhere in the ball's innards. The ticking immediately doubled as she and it fell back to earth. The opposing team meeped their displeasure, scrambling to cover the field.

One just managed to get itself positioned under the ball, and lacking time to position itself for a kick, simply retracted into its eponymous helmet. The ball clanged down on its dome with enough force to leave a perfect hardhat-shaped imprint in the turf, but left the virus unharmed even as the ball was once more sent wilding into the air. The largest, perhaps still upset at their opponent's superior agility, withdraws its mattock from nowhere and sends a shockwave ripping across the pitch. Both Amity and the Metool are buffeted by the sucker-punch; like any proper sportsman, LilMet turns the other cheek with no more than a couple cried (or meeped, rather) fouls, but there was no time to waste. The impact had doubled the ticking once more still, to the point where the ball had begun to flash a most ominous red. It hung high enough that there was little telling where it would fall, only that it falling was rather more perilous than it had been a bare moment ago...

-Sports Junkies-

LilMetool: 30hp [Grass (Red Court)]
MedMetoolB: 40hp [Grass (Blue Court)] [Guard]
BigMetool: 40hp [Grass (Blue Court)]

-Lookie-Loo-

Amity.EXE: 140Hp [Grass (Red Court)]

-Objects-

Game Ball: 10HP [Fly Ball!]

-Terrain-

50% Normal [Surrounding area]
50% Grass [Fenced courtyard, divided halfway between Red Court & Blue Court]

-Special-

Fenced Courtyard: Attacking the courtyard from outside the insurmountable chain-link fence is impossible , as is vice versa.

Black Ball: a large black ball, it can be moved by many means. <TICKING INTENSIFIES>

<(PS. Sorry for the wait.)>
<(PPS. I'm sorta just wilding here to try and get back in a creative space, hope you don't mind : D)>
<(PPPS. Adding flavour to your standard actions (movement etc) is completely alright and generally encouraged, go hog wild.)>
<(PPPPS. This space for rent.)>
Contact! With the full accuracy intended, Amity's foot made a very satisfying boom as it drove the ball back into their opponent's territory. She may have been incredibly proud of herself, had fear not gripped the poor girl. The ticking sound (and that's what it in fact was, ticking) sped up as it flew away from her. Although it didn't quite make the distance she was aiming for, it did still catch the mid-sized helmet off guard, only just narrowly retreating under its protective dome.

Her attention quickly switched from concern to pride. "Hah!" she cried, raising her arms triumphantly as her feet gracefully landed on red turf. Turning to her comrade, she cheered again. "Did! You! See that!" she yelled, momentarily forgetting the imminent peril that lay before her.

Her ignorance was very quickly punished; although they were not engaged in a battle, emotions run high on the sports field as well as the battlefield. Her attention to her team-mate caused her to absentmindedly miss the warning sign of a raised pickaxe and subsequent shockwave that tore across the field from blue turf to red turf, catching both Amity and the lil' helmet off-guard. A sign of a bad sportsman if there ever was one.

Thankfully, it was only a small scratch; what was more interesting was that the lower fringes of her dress began to glow a muted white light, which matched a feeling of slight warmth that began to course through her body. It was as if it was responding to the external damage and trying to self-repair, or right a wrong. Amity expected this, of course, but Eric did not.

"Hey! You're glowing! Is that normal?!" he questioned with a worried tone.

Amity glanced down and smiled. "Yes, that's normal. You can't be a peacekeeper and not be equipped to deal with a little backlash, you know," she responded with a slight sassy tone in her voice.

Her antenna were still warning of the danger ahead. The 'ball' was now beginning to flash a disturbing shade of red, which in Amity's mind couldn't possibly be a good thing. What to do? This is no longer a game; someone is going to get hurt badly if this goes where I think it's going... she pondered to herself.

"Quick, what do you have that I can use to remove that ball from the area?" she asked Eric.

Eric wasn't ready for such a request. He'd completed a number of trial runs with navis at Stacey's and Crony's command, but they were usually over by the first battle, and quite often due to the navi doing all the heavy lifting, not Eric. "Umm, I have three battlechips here..."

Amity was a little concerned about the amateurism being demonstrated, but didn't have time to discuss the situation. She too was technically a beginner, but hopefully the little training she'd received would help. "What are they?"

"Umm, there's a Shotgun..."

Nope, that'll cause damage to the others...

"...a RageClaw..."

Don't even know what that is...

"...and a Cannon."

Ugh, all that's good for is..... KNOCKBACK! "Yes, send the cannon!" she commanded. She quickly glanced over at Crony, still feeling his burning gaze watching her every move. If this worked, she wasn't going to get any words of commendation from him, that was certain.

Eric singled out the Cannon battlechip and tried to insert it into the chip reader on the PET, but it was blocked by another chip. It took him a moment to realise this, but once he'd realised what the problem was, he clumsily pulled it out and replaced it with the Cannon battlechip. The PET read the new data and began network transmission, resulting in a similarly shaped Cannon protruding out of Amity's right arm, with only a small amount of the barrel extending past the edge of the sleeve.

Accuracy was critical. Amity wasn't aiming for power in this shot; come what may, her intent was to ensure that, if the ball would survive another contact, that it was driven far away from all four of them. The force resulting from a Cannon blast should have been sufficient to do so, provided it didn't destroy the object in question first.

Lining up her shot to the best of her ability, Amity fired the disruptor-altered shell at the ball, hoping for another miracle. As she fired, Amity moved across the field to put her body in between the ball, the opposing team, and her team-mate. If anybody was going to get hurt by this, it didn't deserve to be him, it wouldn't be fair...

But sometimes sport, like the battlefield, doesn't necessarily play 'fair'...

----------

(@Sage: Not a problem; if I had've realised that you'd posted way back, I would have replied a long time ago. Feel stupid that I waited two months for a response; wasn't going to bump it, that's for sure...
I'm down for the different style of battle, Amy's not your typical navi. Will actually add a decent layer of discovery and ingenuity. Good to know about the RP moves too, thank you.)

Actions:
[P] THAW [Amity: 140 HP > 147 HP]
[1] Take Aim [Black Ball]
[2] {Disruptor}Cannon [60 HP + Knockback] > Black Ball
[3] Movement > Amity to stand between BlackBall / MedMetool / BigMetool group and LilMetool, facing group

Amity.EXE = 147 HP
The tiny Metool, its eyes laser-focused on the fly ball, made an angry warbling buzz at Amity's antics, perfectly communicating 'eyes on the ball!' despite a singular vocabulary of 'meep'. Despite its stoicism, it still couldn't help but take notice when its teammate flared at the edges and stepped forward, beginning her retort. With Olympian grace and quick-thinking, Amity changed the rules of the impromptu game. This was, of course, assuming there had been rules to begin with, but one could never tell with viruses these days. Abandoning her soccer/volleyball fusion in favour of the traditional choice of target-shooting, a Cannon was levelled across the low net that served more as formality than any true barrier. If anything, it may have helped guide her shot, in putting the game ball just so between herself and the opposing team.

Perhaps sensing what was about to happen, or perhaps just committed to its bad sportsmanship, the largest hard-hat launched off another shockwave. Watching it sail harmlessly between Amity and the LilMet, one might think its first shot must have been very lucky to have landed. The other popped back to its feet just in time to watch the Cannon shot tear across the field, drilling a bulls-eye into the falling game ball. Its eyes, already about 50% of its body mass, popped from their sockets. The ball shone like a sun; for a brief moment, the world went stark-white.

The FootBomb exploded. Dark cannon shells burned like sunspots on the star that bloomed from the blast. The Knockback combined with the already-impressive blast front in spectacular ways, producing a great blast front that propelled itself through the blue court in a manner reminiscent of a tactical airstrike. The back fence more or less vaporised as the side walls crumpled to the ground like tinfoil. The viruses were simply gone.

Only when their vision had rebooted onto the smoking crater left behind, did the LilMetool let loose a great cheer. Bouncing right past Amity's eye-level with exuberance, it careened a couple laps around the remnants of the court before springing to land right atop Amity's head. For a moment it wriggled in place affectionately, before bouncing off to tear off to parts unknown. Left on top of Amity's head, upon examination, was a small pile of Zenny...and an Electopian worker's hard-hat of her own. Somehow.

-Sports Junkies-

LilMetool: ESCAPED
MedMetoolB: DELETED
BigMetool: DELETED

-Lookie-Loo-

Amity.EXE: 147Hp [Grass (Red Court)]

-Objects-

FootBomb: DETONATED

-Terrain-

75% Normal [Surrounding area, smoking crater once known as Blue Court]
25% Grass [Red Court]

-VICTORY!-
Rewards: 300Z, Guard1Effect: (1 Hit Shield) + (Reflect(up to 60 + Piercing + Line Attack): On Hit)
Accuracy: S
Description: Generates a 1-Hit Shield upon activation. When this shield blocks one hit from a non-Break attack, it responds with a hyper-fast damage ray.
Duration: Until broken or overridden.
Element: Null
Special: Negated by Break. Ignores Impact.
Special: Reflect: Damage returned is equal to the damage of the attack blocked or the damage cap listed, whichever comes first. Reflect is not subject to negation by Impact.
Special: Status Guard: This chip blocks debuffs.
Trader Rank: E


<(P.S. Sorry you didn't see that, I'm gonna be a little slow to reply re: life; I can always ping you or something to say mod's up, that's generally how we do on the Discord)>
The resulting explosion, combined with a small shockwave to boot, wasn’t enough to cause any harm to our protagonist, but it was enough to knock her onto her derrière. The dust cloud that followed prevented her from seeing the carnage she had put into motion as well. After the dust had cleared, Amity was greeted with a somewhat large crater in front of her, and no sign of her opponents (or any of their field, for that matter). Had that been the purpose of her actions, she could have been proud.

Except it wasn’t. And she wasn’t proud, either. Amity gripped her chest, hoping this guilty feeling would subside, but it didn’t. This was the worst possible outcome; her enemies destroyed, not defeated. Never to roam another network again. No virus EJO. A bomb (and that's what it had been, a bomb) had catalysed with her digitised Cannon and caused natural destruction, not a neural overload. No emergency jack-outs could have occurred from this type of network intereference.

And it was all her fault.

A mild combination of despair and shame locked her to the ground. Oblivious to her new partner’s celebrations. Oblivious to the victory laps it ran around the now battle-scarred field. And last of all, oblivious to the gifts it deposited on her head as it departed. She was still just frozen in place, almost numb.

“Amateur.”

It was Crony’s voice that broke through her paralysis. She turned her head around to see that he’d moved directly behind her, as if he was now standing over her.

“Amateur,” he repeated again after getting no response from Amity, this time with a more agitated tone. “You’re letting one get away,” he said as he indicated towards the final Metool with his right hand.

Amity was partly stunned, partly outraged. “You... think I did that on purpose?” she replied, her voice cracking as she spoke.

“Clearly not,” he growled without breaking stare at his target. “Shotgun please, ma'am.”

His arm now replaced with the signature Shotgun barrel, Crony took aim. Amity suddenly realised what he was about to do. “NO!” she screamed as she used her feet and bent legs as a crude spring to thrust her head into Crony’s chest. The normally composed and fully alert soldier had not expected such a move from someone he had just labelled an amateur and no threat whatsoever, and was caught off-guard. The momentum of Amity's impact caused him to hunch over just as he was about to launch his offensive. The resulting Shotgun blast was suddenly diverted to the ground, blasting a large hole only inches from Amity’s lower fringes.

“Dammit child, what is wrong with you?!” he bellowed as regained composure a few steps back from Amity.

"It's leaving! It's not a threat to either of us!" she argued with just as much volume and intensity. It wasn't very intimidating though, as she was now laid out with her back to the ground.

“Pathetic, that's what you are! Another please, ma'am!” he retorted as he turned his attention again to the distance.

Stacey's response was not what Crony expected, nor what he wanted to hear. "Crony, it was already a long shot at that distance. By the time I send you another Shotgun, and you size up your shot, the distance to the target just makes the whole idea a stretch. All you’re doing is wasting time and creating potential risks to civilians."

"But ma'am​, what if it-" Crony began.

"Crony, let it go. It's not important. What IS important is that we do what we came here to do," Stacey gently reminded him.

This conversation was not going to end the way Crony wanted it to, and disobedience to a direct order was not an option. Groaning, muttering and sighing, all in the same breath, he turned his gaze again to the mess that lay before him, and then to the navi a few steps away.

"GET UP," he growled.

Amity rolled over, propped herself up from the ground and dusted off the debris that had been caught in her dress. There didn't appear to be any severe damage, and anything else had been repaired by the sub-routines. The material was indeed incredibly durable.

"Eric, your navi has new battlechip data," came Stacey's voice second-hand through Eric's communicator.

Amity looked at the gifts her partner had left behind. She'd had a small hope it would stick around longer, but given what had happened, she certainly couldn't blame the creature. She'd been given a second chance, and not only had she failed to access the situation correctly, but she'd caused casualties through her own naivety. Even if she HAD meant to engage in battle the way these humans expected her to, she had still come up short, 'defeating' only two of the three targets.

"Amity, can you please transmit the new data?" Eric asked in a somewhat shaky voice.

It was only at that point that she remembered that her human counterpart had been watching the entire ordeal. How did he feel about her performance? Did he understand, or even sympathise with what just happened? Did he approve? She shook her head as her mind began racing. No, not right now. I can't afford to lose it right now. Amity gripped the replica helmet that looked identical to the ones being used on the field and watched it digitise through her body.

On the receiving end, Eric removed the previously blank chip, which now contained battlechip data for a Guard1 chip. "Haven't had one of these in a while," Eric commented in a lowered voice. The truth was, his test battles normally didn't go this well. Or long. And now, the duo were moving into rare territory for Eric; the second test.

"Keep moving," Crony ordered as he once again gestured to the glowing orb in the distance.

Crony's attitude was getting the better of Amity. "Whatever, boss," she muttered and turned back to the path, stepping over what was left of the fence she'd vaulted over only minutes ago.

"What did I say earlier?!" Crony yelled.

"I don't care!" Amity yelled back as she began sprinting away from him. The more distance she could put between the two of them, the better. The guilt inside her began to fade slowly as it was replaced by rage, but she knew when this was all over that she'd have plenty of time to berate herself for what she just did.

----------

Battle Complete...?

Zenny: +300 (0 >>> 300)
Battlechip: Guard1 (1-hit Shield/Reflect 0-60 Non-Break DMG + Line1 + Piercing, S, Normal/Counter)
Battlechips: 4 >>> 5

Level Up! Battlechips x5 (5 chips)
Amity.EXE : Level 0 >>> Level 1

Amity.EXE : 147 / 150 HP

{The second test! Can Amity dig herself out of the mental hole she's just put herself into? Battle 2, start!}

{@Sage; I think I may have just messed up previously with the new forum format. This new site has RSS feeds so I can use that in my feed reader to know when stuff is added, but thank you for the offer.}
For all the drama that could be incurred by a simple game of exploding kickball (though perhaps 'simple' was the wrong word), Amity found it in herself to forge ahead. The path, previously just skirting the edge of the fenced-off small courts, unfolded into what looked to all and sundry like a full-fledged outdoor complex. Wide, delineated fields took up a sizeable portion of the landscape, speckled with spectator stands that loomed precipitously over the action, were there any at present. In the distance, Amity could see what looked like buildings atop a low hill; perhaps, at one point, they had been intended as offices for the larger grounds, but their point, whatever it had once been, was rather moot now. Beyond a few junk-data tumbleweeds, the place was deserted.

Her maddened dash took her straight through such a field, all the way to the touchdown zone...and then the ground was shattering, panels falling away beneath her feet, the momentum of the sprint just carrying her to safety. Little details that anger's red haze tends to blur made themselves known: namely, a good-sized chunk of turf spider-webbed through with cracks, and the perpetrators standing right atop it: a Powie and a Metool (perfectly normal-sized), having made a game of smashing up the ground as viruses do. Her previous path was clearly outlined with a very deep, dark hole; this apparently ran counter to their cracking game, for they raised a surprisingly decent uproar in their outrage, for a hardhat and a flapping pillow. Two cackling ghosts lurk at the edges, enjoying the show.

-- ACDC Irregulars --
SpookyA: 30HP [Normal, opposite Cracked]
SpookyB: 30HP [Normal, opposite Cracked]
Powie: 60HP [Cracked] [Airshoes]
Metool: 40HP [Cracked]

-- Running Back --
Amity.EXE: 147 HP [Normal]

-- Terrain --
75% Normal [Touchdown zone of a very, very large field, Grass in the distance]
20% Cracked [Crater dead-centre]
5% Broken [Line straight through the crater]

-- BATTLE 2: IRREGULARS VS. AMITY - START! --
-- SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY --
Emotions were running high as Amity gritted her teeth to ensure not a single tear escaped her eyes. This bully of a supervisor clearly fed on weakness, and she wasn't going to let him keep pushing her buttons.

She looked back to see how much distance she had put between Crony and herself, but as she glanced back the location which Crony had previously been stationed on was empty, with a tiny dust cloud leaving the ground in his absence. Amity only had one second to contemplate what had happened to him, as the next second she firmly impacted an unknown character standing in front of her. Her face was deeply implanted into its chest, but she didn't need to guess who it was.

"You'll need to run a lot faster than that," Crony sneered.

Amity removed her face from Crony's chest and, in a similar manner to the fence before, immediately grabbed his arms from beneath. With a combined boost of her legs and arms, she used the upward momentum to push herself into the air, furthering this momentum by using her auto-balance actuators to snap her feet to Crony's shoulders and jumping almost instantly. Once again, the wannabe acrobat twirled in mid air while leaving a trail of blue mist from the underside of her dress, and landed a few steps away from the officer's assistant, ready to continue running.

Crony had tried to grab a hold of her to prevent this little manoeuvre, having already been the victim of her quick reflexes once, but all he was left with was a thin layer of slimy gel on his hands. The dress had simply slipped out of his grip. As she began to once again dash away, the tiniest hint of a grin could be seen on Crony's face.

Amity hadn't noticed the change in scenery as she ran. Running was second nature to her; after all, if you didn't want to fight, you'd better be able to run. It was an unusual sight to see, for certain, but Amity simply didn't care. The rage began to subside as the minutes passed by, opening up the way to her remembering the previous battle and its unfortunate end. She felt like she was slipping, like the ground was going to give way at any moment.

Wait a minute...

As she looked down, she noticed that the ground was, in fact, giving way, as the section of ground she was running on was badly cracked and damaged. The distance she'd already run into the area had caused even further degradation, and the ground was now slowly opening up to her presence. A look of panic crossed her face as she began to run harder, the only thing she could think to do to avoid being swallowed.

A final leap and her feet were back on solid ground. Amity turned around to find that quite a large section of the area had been damaged, but it didn't look to be natural. What could have caused this? she wondered to herself. A metallic CLANG got her attention, and no longer did she have to guess; a Metool and a funny looking creature were jumping up and down, throwing their weight around and making quite the scene.

"HEY!" Amity yelled. The shrill shout echoed across the distance between both parties and caused them to turn towards its source. As they did, Amity also noticed that two rather ghastly creatures had been laughing from just outside the cracked dome. Were they encouraging this action, or just bystanders? She hadn't seen either the pillow-shaped virus or the see-through viruses before, so she wasn't sure whether to treat them as hostile, but that rage of hers was quickly growing once again.

"What do you think you're doing?! A heavier or slower creature could have hurt themselves!" she yelled while pointing to the hole she'd left behind her. Maybe they were just bored, or maybe it was a misunderstanding.

The Metool in particular had been standing still as she'd been yelling. As it looked to the trail of holes, and then to the cracked zone it had helped create, its eyes began to portray a rather nasty look of defiance. It waved its pickaxe into the air and dropped it to its side. It wasn't an attack, just a show of force to create another set of cracks in the floor. It was almost as if it was saying "back off, we'll do as we please".

Given the circumstances... it probably wasn't the wisest thing to do.

Eric had been watching and was waiting for his partner to request one of his battlechips. What he didn't expect to see was the frills light up again, glowing as they completed some minor repairs. He also didn't expect Amity to raise her arm up and point it in the direction of the Metool. She didn't have any kind of gun-based chip loaded, what was she doing...?

Inside the sleeve, the repulsors were generating cleanser gel, gathering inside the palm of her hand in preparation of a rather hasty exit. The sleeve was also taking rigid shape, no longer drooping but extending to its full capacity in preparation for a gelatinous cannon burst.

Amity didn't know how, or even if, she'd deal with the rest of this troublemaker's accomplices, but that is exactly what her purpose was, to send troublemakers away. A twitch of her wrist, and the cleansing gel made a satisfying sloshing sound as it separated from her sleeve and careened towards its intended victim.

Taking up a stance of preparation with her feet firmly planted on solid ground, Amity waited to see what the others would do, not wanting to be made the fool. "Your move," she responded as she kept her eyes focused forward, ready for any sudden movement. "We don't have to do this."

==========

Actions:
[P] THAW [7 HEAL] >>> Amity [147 >>> 150 / 150 HP]
[1] Calming Spray [40 DMG, Aqua] >>> Metool
[2] Preparation for Dodge
[3] Preparation for Dodge

Sigs:
Calming Spray [Used; 1 TCD applied]

Party:
Amity.EXE: 150 / 150 HP
Giving Eric not a second to react and Operate, Amity took the battle into her own hands. Whatever the Metool may have thought the flying, wobbling globule to be, there was no mistaking its shock as the gel ball splattered right between its eyes. The ammunition, non-lethal though it may have been, still did a champion's job of breaking the virus into a datastream slurry, blue and bright and all the same bits and bytes as composed all things virtual. It scattered to the winds, to eventually reform and terrorize the landscape another day.

The Spookys stopped laughing. Their entertainment interrupted, their googly eyes narrowed across the field to Amity's antics. Two identical shimmery sounds later, they teleported right into the youth-s personal space, vile overlong tongues a-swinging no matter her attempts at de-escalating. The first was neatly sidestepped, courtesy of a quick bit of footwork that unfortunately sent her straight into the second's lash, undoing her healing subsystems' steady work. They warped back to their starting places, leering.

The Powie, despite the disappearance of its partner in crime, hardly even seemed to have noticed that a brawl was imminent. At least, that was the impression one got from its next move: ignoring all and sundry, it simply jumped, and slammed another bit of turf into rubble. If it had been aiming for Amity, it's aim left much, if not all to be desired. The cracked zone now equalled nearly half the surrounding area; any more, and movement would become difficult.

-- ACDC Irregulars --
SpookyA: 30HP [Normal, opposite Cracked]
SpookyB: 30HP [Normal, opposite Cracked]
Powie: 60HP [Cracked] [Airshoes]
Metool: CLEANSED

-- Running Back --
Amity.EXE: 140 HP [Normal]

-- Terrain --
50% Normal [Touchdown zone of a very, very large field, Grass in the distance]
45% Cracked [Double-wide crater dead-centre]
5% Broken [Line straight through the crater]
The cleansing gel hit its mark and demonstrated its value, disrupting the outer core and forcing a return of the inner mote back to its source. Success.

This was no time to celebrate however; there was still a situation that needed de-escalating. Would the other three entities take the hint and disperse?

Apparently not.

The two ghastly creatures, no longer amused by the recent developments and likely disturbed by the quick dispatch of one of their colleagues, disappeared without moving and reappeared right in front of the lass. While she'd been prepared for a frontal assault, what she wasn't expecting was two oversized tongues to start swinging at her from a mere step away; those mouths were deceptively large to hold and hide such monstrosities. The first swipe was dodged by a quick one-two twirling step, but this left her exposed to an unexpected co-ordinated second serving.

As it made contact with her upper body and slid its way up to her face, the blood-curdling shriek could be heard for miles over. The damage was minimal, this was true, but it didn't have as much impact as the ooze that remained on her face as both partners zipped back to their original posts.

Amity wiped and wiped her face with her hands as hard as she could, but it had no effect, the putrid smell was there to stay. "HOW... DARE YOU?!?!" she screamed as her hands shook, half from mortification and half from rage. This day just kept getting better. "YOU! ARE! FINISHED!" she followed up while slicing the air in front of her with a flat palm, aimed in the direction of her antagonists.

Eric was concerned. The cute, kind navi he'd seen yesterday was a far cry from the angry fighter in front of him now. What was going on in her head? Was yesterday's 'nice girl' an act? Or was this just a reaction from being forced out of her comfort zone?

Crony continued to watch from the distance, having moved himself to the spectator stands. Was it because he enjoyed watching Amity make a fool of herself? Did he have faith he didn't need to be her backup? Or maybe he wanted her to fail? Who knew. His face was expressionless once again.

A booming sound and a shaking of the ground grabbed Amity's attention and helped to break her out of the spell of indignation she'd entered once again. The pillow-shaped virus was definitely not a lightweight; in fact, it was doing more damage to the area than the Metool had done. At this rate, it was going to de-stabilise the surrounding area and make it even more dangerous, for herself and anybody who was unfortunate to walk by.

Priorities; first, the... wait, what even is it? she wondered.

As if something had read her mind, a dialogue box appeared in front of her that snapped itself onto the ground breaker. As it quickly swirled some lines across its figure, the scanning ended and a small box appeared.

// Virus Identified
// Label: Powie
// Hitpoints: 60
// Known Data: None - engage for analysis

Okay, but what about them? she pondered as she leered at the remaining duo.

// Virus Identified
// Label: Spooky
// Hitpoints: 30
// Known Data: Can temporarily teleport to target to attack

Fine. First priority is the... 'Powie'... then, and then I'll take out those 'Spooky' nuisances. "CANNON!" she yelled at Eric.

Stacey gave Eric an 'are you going to take that?' look. It was the second time Amity had demanded a chip instead of requesting one. Eric broke away from her gaze, picked up the Cannon battlechip data and inserted it into the PET. He wasn't fond of having orders barked at him either, but at least if Amity kept control of the battle, he didn't have to do anything. The last battle had been completed with almost no input from him whatsoever, so what difference did it make?

As he pushed the Cannon battlechip into the reader, he remembered the new chip data he'd been given, the Guard1 chip. Without asking for permission from either Stacey or Amity, he entered the second chip into the reader as well.

Back in ACDC Net, Amity's right arm once again took shape inside the sleeve into the green cannon module, modified once again by her chipmod-disruptor-wave frequencies like last time. Admittedly the last battle didn't go as expected, but with no secondary unmodified objects in the way, things would be different this time. Before Amity could begin to line up her shot, her left arm was quickly embraced by two thin metal strips around her forearm, in preparation for the large yellow shield that would appear and attach to them momentarily. It startled Amity as she wasn't expecting it, her arm dropping from the sudden weight gain.

"Hey! I said Cannon, and only Cannon!" she snapped.

"I thought you may want that in case the ghosts strike again," Eric replied. Had he done wrong? He removed both chips from the reader and placed them back into their slots in his chip folder to start the re-energising process.

As she looked at the oversized replica helmet of her former ally, she remembered firsthand how it had stopped the ball- no, bomb- from causing any damage to its wearer while it was hiding underneath it, so maybe it could be of use to her. It was a sensible move, but Amity wasn't going to let that small act get in the way of her angst towards him. It was as much his fault she was in this situation as the lady and her stupid navi. "Next time, ask!" she scolded.

Amity focused her attention again towards the Powie and let loose the cannon fire, leaving a small blue trail of smoke as it hurtled across the field. It was hard to believe that such a small being could cause so much damage; would the cannon fire even leave a mark?

No time to worry about that; as she embraced the shield that locked itself onto her left arm for protection, she noticed her dress glowing again, responding to the damage caused by the vile licking assault. As a breath of air passed over Amity's face, bounced off the shield and wafted back into her nose, reminding her of the breach of her personal space, she so badly wanted to walk over and smack them in the face, but with a cracked field separating them she'd have to wait for the right opportunity. Amity gritted her teeth and tried to maintain focus on the task at hand. Would the shield stand up to any assault? Time would tell.

==========

Actions:
[1] [Disruptor]Cannon [60 DMG] >>> Powie
[2] [Disruptor]Guard1 [1-Hit Shield, Reflect <=60 DMG, Line1] - Equipped: Amity
[P] THAW [7 HEAL] >>> Amity [140 >>> 147 / 150 HP]
[3] Brace behind shield [Defending]

Sigs:
Calming Spray [-1 CD; 0/1 TCD - CD complete]

Party:
Amity.EXE: 147 / 150 HP [Guard1] [Defending]
The Cannon announced its discharge with a muted *whump* of displaced air. Amity's special brand of aftermarket tuning appeared to have had no effect on its functionality: her aim true, the Powie was destabilized in a flash of cyber-blue. Like a child's lost balloon, the soft glow of the virus' core module floated in a cloudlike datastream, disappearing soon after to parts unknown.

The Spookys, now fully deprived of their entertainment, muttered and chattered fiercely to one another. The time for laughing and glee was, it seemed, over. Again they warped, popping into Amity's personal space just in time for Eric's bit of uncalled-for Operating. One was so riled up, its wild lash misses Amity completely but for a few flying specks of drool. The second picked its opening more carefully, lagging just a second behind its buddy to mimic a boxer's one-two rhythm.

Thankfully for Amity and her dignity, a well-placed shield sent the tongue whipcracking straight back into its owner's face, leaving a red mark and not a little of its own slobber smeared across its cheekbones. The Guard faded, having bought Amity's subsystems enough time to begin repairs; this did not go unnoticed. Both the be-licked Spooky and its buddy screeched their displeasure, sensing themselves decidedly on the back foot (had they any) and not liking the feeling one bit.

-- ACDC Irregulars --
SpookyA: 30HP [Normal, opposite Cracked]
SpookyB: 20HP [Normal, opposite Cracked]
Powie: CLEANSED
Metool: CLEANSED

-- Running Back --
Amity.EXE: 147 HP [Normal] [Guard1 Broken!]

-- Terrain --
50% Normal [Touchdown zone of a very, very large field, Grass in the distance]
45% Cracked [Double-wide crater dead-centre]
5% Broken [Line straight through the crater]
This time the Cannon worked as intended; another successful separation, and now there were only two rebels remaining. Amity breathed a sigh of relief.

The Spookys began another assault run, but Amity was somewhat prepared for this thanks to Eric's quick thinking. She still wasn't sure that it had been intentionally smart or not as she still hadn't gotten a good idea of his busting prowess yet, but this move was definitely a welcome one in the end. The first nasty attempt of a virus kiss came hurtling towards her; not at all unexpected, but with the Metool shield on her left arm, the one-two pirouette maneouvre that failed previously should now be adequate with the additional support.

History repeated itself as the tongue went flying past her, but unfortunately for our little miss, the tongue appeared to have retained some additional slobber from the previous unsuccessful swing, and because of this, a globule of muck still managed to traverse its way across the small distance between the two, and regrettably made contact with her right cheek. Amity almost tripped as she finished the twirl with her left foot, agitated once again by that distinct smell of festering goo. A momentary lapse in attention followed as she tried not to throw up. Thankfully the shield proved its worth as the second Spooky repeated the same attack, only to be met with the cold steel of its viricial brethren which sent the swipe back into itself. It wasn't enough to cause any major damage, but based on the look on the pair as they cowardly retreated, this particular attack run was clearly not as successful as the first. She took her right hand to her cheek and flicked away the vile slime, knowing any further efforts would be useless. A good long cybershower would definitely be required after today's ordeal.

The shield destabilised and faded into nothingness after completing its job. Amity was once again faced with a cracked battledome and the two remaining foes. She took a second to check her repulsors, and was happy to find the cleansing gel generators recharged and ready to go again. Okay, so we used the Cannon and the shield. That leaves only the Shotgun and the... whatever that last one he said was. Amity wanted to get over to the duo's personal space as they seemed intent on staying as far away from her as possible, but the giant dome of potential hazard prevented her from doing so. If the glacier gel generators in her boots were working she may have been able to restore part of the field, but those repulsors were reporting 0% power, another question mark in her mind. Why are all of my gel repulsors running on almost zero capacity? she wondered to herself. The cleansing gel generators were running, albeit at a limited functionality, but the generators for frenzy gel, leech gel, glacier gel, aloe gel, why were all these systems inoperable? And why were the healing systems also only running at a fraction of their normal energy? She focused on the fringes as they stopped glowing; it appeared they had fully recovered her health once again. That new 'operator' of hers had some questions to answer.

Amity quickly reviewed the battle thus far. On both instances the Spookys had tried to attack her at close range and then retreated. Did this mean that they were incapable of long-range attacks? If so, this may be her moment. "Shotgun!" she commanded, readying herself for its familiar feel of cold steel.

Eric reached towards the chip folder to withdraw the requested chip but Stacey's hand grabbed his wrist first, which forced him to turn his head to face her. "SHE doesn't operate YOU, YOU operate HER," she hissed at him in a low voice, her aggravation beginning to show. Then, in a much louder voice, she continued, "Don't you think you should let Eric decide if that's best?"

Amity wasn't expecting Stacey to interfere with her operation, and the standoff between the two was causing Amity's digital blood to boil. What, did you want a "please", is that it? First it was Crony barking orders and now her. Taking direction from the old witch? Not happening. If she wouldn't let her operator do his job, then once again she'd take matters into her own hands. The cleansing gel began to once again gather in her right palm, its cooling nature easing the tension building up inside her body only slightly as it did so. "Have it your way," she replied sarcastically as she took aim at the left Spooky with her palm. Another quick twitch of the wrist and the repulsors took charge, discharging the gelatinous blob towards its intended target at high velocity with a misty blue vapour trail in its wake.

Crony was too far away to hear Amity's words on the field, but since Stacey's PET was in the one hand while her other hand gripped Eric's arm, he'd been within earshot of the conversations happening between the two siblings and heard Amity's remarks secondhand through Eric's PET speaker. He gently shook his head, although it wasn't exactly clear what he was disagreeing with.

There was still one more target to deal with, and not a lot of time or defensive options. Stacey had been sternly talking to Eric but Amity hadn't been paying attention to the words themselves. As Eric replied to whatever Stacey had said, precious seconds were passing by for Amity. "Are you sending the Shotgun or not?!" she demanded. A few seconds later, she heard a sharp slapping noise through the PET comlink, followed by a muted gasp and then silence. She hadn't been paying attention to her real-world monitor and wasn't going to start now, but a few more seconds later her arm began transmutating. Finally, it took shape into the Shotgun she'd requested. "About time!" she quipped as she took aim at her second target without hesitation and ejected a disruptor-modified tube of pellets into the field, leaving a bluish-grey cloud of smoke in front of the girl. Amity still wasn't sure if the disruptors turning some aspect of her battlechips into a blue or bluish hue was on purpose or just a side effect, but she enjoyed it nonetheless.

As the Shotgun fire streaked across the field, Amity pondered on whether the two Spookys were simply going to repeat the same moves as before; was it possible for her to throw off their aim by simply taking a few steps back? As the silver tube disseminated back into her arm, she tried to perform a graceful cartwheel backwards, away from the cracks and away from the carnage. How our little gymnast was able to do so while remaining elegant in a dress was anybody's guess. A thought crossed her mind however as her head neared the ground; what if doing so gave the Spookys an opportunity to unleash an attack she hadn't yet seen? A valid though, but one that would have been useful moments prior...

==========

Actions:
[P] THAW [7 HEAL] >>> Amity [147 >>> 150 / 150 HP]
[1] Calming Spray [40 DMG, Aqua] >>> SpookyA
[2] [Disruptor]Shotgun [50 DMG] >>> SpookyB
[3] Perform a backward cartwheel (strafe backwards)

Sigs:
Calming Spray [Used; 1/1 TCD remaining]

Party:
Amity.EXE: 150 / 150 HP
Vitalized to peak performance, Amity's gun arm leveled across the field without a waver. Her first target is vaporized straight into an EJO before it could blink; by the time the second Spooky registered its predicament, her arm was already flowing into the long barrel of a Shotgun. Enraged beyond measure, it made what would be the last warp of its current life. The spectral tongue flew forward, only for Amity to pull a graceful cartwheel out of harm's way, leaving the lowly ghost facing down a gun barrel with it's mouth wide, wide open. Turnabout, it seemed, was fair play.

*kra-KOW*

-- ACDC Irregulars --
SpookyA: CLEANSED
SpookyB: CLEANSED
Powie: CLEANSED
Metool: CLEANSED

-- Running Back --
Amity.EXE: 150 HP [Normal]

-- Terrain --
50% Normal [Touchdown zone of a very, very large field, Grass in the distance]
45% Cracked [Double-wide crater dead-centre]
5% Broken [Line straight through the crater]

--VICTORY!!--
Amity GET: 420Z (Achievement Unlocked: Blaze It), ShockWaveDamage: 40 + Line Attack + Ground Attack
Accuracy: C
Description: Sends a narrow, but long, shock wave rolling in front of an enemy. Slow, but difficult to jump over due to its length.
Duration: Once
Element: Null
Trader Rank: E
The two remaining cores ascended into the air. They must have then latched onto some invisible data stream as the next second they were gone.

"Four out of four SRVRs. That has to be a pass, right?" Amity asked out loud. Her words lingered in the air as nobody responded. Although most of the outer core data had either evaporated back into the network area or disseminated completely, a large fragment remained visible near where the Metool stood inside the cracked arena. She wanted to inspect the data, but was concerned about falling into a pit.

As she tiptoed ever so gently across the field, she found herself repeating the same words under her breath: "float like a butterfly, float like a butterfly, float like a butterfl-" wait, what even IS a butterfly...? That train of thought caused her to stumble on seemingly nothing, and with a lurch forward, she broke the panel that the fragment data was sitting on, causing herself and the data to fall into a small pit.

Getting back to her feet, she picked up the random object and attempted to examine it, but was interrupted when the ground suddenly began to rise on its own. In mere seconds she was back at normal ground height. More than that though, a sizeable portion of the cracked area had been seemingly repaired too.

"Huh. I guess the network resets itself after a while," she chuckled.

"Yes and no. Yes, it eventually does repair and reset foreign tampering, but no, not that fast."

Amity turned to find Crony bent down towards the ground as he raised his hand away from it. A quick scan of the area confirmed that the restoration work had been his work, as there was a near perfect circle of clean panels with Crony at its centre.

"I guess I should thank you for getting me out of that hole?" she huffed.

Crony didn't respond. His eyes were focused forward, but not towards her. She turned her head to match his gaze, but couldn't see anything on the horizon in that direction that would have caught his eye. The silence suddenly reminded her that both operators had been strangely absent from their presence for the last few minutes. Maybe Crony's attention was back in the real world?

Amity pulled up her real-world HUD but was greeted with a view of the lounge room ceiling and what must have been the side of Eric's head. That meant he'd put the PET down on something. But why? "Hey, I have some data to transmit," she announced, but again, silence.

"Be silent," Crony ordered. "Now is not the time."

Amity was about to argue with him regarding his bossy nature but decided against it. If something was happening in that room, however, she couldn't see squat. Is there an alternate viewing monitor? This angle won't get me anything, she sighed internally. Again, as if on command, the HUD suddenly became three dimensional, adding a new perspective that gave a much better overall look at the state of affairs in the human world. Huh, this would have been handy yesterday.

Eric was sitting on the couch, but with his head inbetween his two hands and looking down at the ground. The PET was sitting on the armrest, which explained the previous view. Stacey was sitting on one of the recliners, but had a look of disgust and anger on her face as her eyes burned a hole through Eric.

Minutes passed without a word or a movement.

Stacey was the one to finally speak. "'You don't know everything,'" she repeated in a cold, harsh tone. Based on the way it was uttered, it sounded as if she was repeating Eric, who remained locked in place.

She repeated the words, slower and more deliberate. "'YOU. DON'T. KNOW. EVERYTHING.'" She was almost seething at each word. "How DARE you even utter those words?!" Stacey screamed. "Where do you even get the stones to THINK you can speak to me like that?! I have had it with-"

Crony interrupted her. "Ma'am?"

"WHAT?!" she yelled as she turned to face Crony.

"With all due respect, it's not in Eric's character to challenge your authority like that. I think you may have overreacted," he replied in a gentle yet direct manner.

"Are... are you taking his side...?" Stacey was now angry and confused.

"I'm not taking anybody's side," Crony affirmed. "But I think you need to hear Eric out. I don't believe he is currently capable of the malice you're indicating."

Stacey took a moment to let that sink in. Had her rage at Amity led her to jump to conclusions? Turning her attention from Crony and back to Eric, she crossed her arms in front of her. "Well?! What do you have to say for yourself?"

Eric slowly raised his head from his hands, almost like a mouse slowly peeking its head into an unknown area. It was only then that Amity noticed the sharp red mark on Eric's left cheek, and suddenly everything was making sense. That explains that slapping noise, she confirmed to herself.

Eric was partially in shock, and almost choked on the words as they came out. "I... I meant that... you don't... don't... know everything. She... she said she... thinks we're testers... and I... I told her... we're not. But... but..." Eric couldn't finish his sentence.

And Stacey didn't need him to. No matter how that sentence ended, it was Eric being his usual neurotic self. Not accusing her, not judging her. All the anger that had built up inside her just washed away, her sight now locked on the welt that was burning across his face.

"Oh Eric. I'm so sorry," she whispered, reaching out her hand to touch his shoulder. Eric recoiled further down the couch, not as a retaliatory move, but simply as a defense mechanism, evident in how his arms instinctively covered his stomach.

Tears began to build in the corners of Stacey's eyes. She reached into the handbag that had been sitting on the coffee table. Amity thought it may have been to retrieve a handkerchief, but instead she withdrew two battlechips. The design of both were completely foreign to her.

"Eric. Take these," Stacey requested. The orange-haired giant looked at the offering. Two battlechips. For him? When he hesitated to take them from her hand, she placed them on the coffee table instead and turned away. Eric tentatively picked them up and looked at them.

After a minute of observation, Eric finally spoke. "For me?"

Stacey nodded. "I was going to give them to you if you passed the trials. I guess you can keep them anyway, as a way of saying sorry for me overreacting." She wiped away the tears from her eyes. "I don't know why I did that. You don't ever talk back to me." She turned again to face Eric. "Can you forgive me?"

Eric nodded slowly.

Stacey smiled. If there was one thing she could count on her brother for, it was keeping the peace, even if she didn’t deserve it.

"Umm, not that it's terribly important, but I also have a new battlechip. Can someone please take it off my hands?"

The smile on Stacey's face quickly disappeared. The abruptness of the purple-haired navi was causing all manner of issues for her. Nevertheless, she handed a blank battlechip to Eric, who this time took it from her directly. "Here, use this."

Back in the digital world, the data remnants began to transmutate into Amity's core as it prepared for transmission out of the net. Amity was happy to be rid of it. "While we're at it, can you tell me what battlechips you have that I can use?"

Eric removed the new chip and placed it in the chip folder. It appeared he had regained some composure, but not all of it. "Just the names... or what... what they do?" he asked.

"I know you have a Cannon, a Shotgun, and a Guard chip. You don't have to explain those. What else?" she replied.

"Ummm..." Eric stammered, as his knowledge of the remaining chips was limited. Stacey, noticing this, proceeded to move herself from the recliner to the couch and sat next to Eric.

"You know about the Cannon, Shotgun and Guard1 battlechips. Good. The remaining chips are a RageClaw1, SkyShoes, Mushy, Shockwave, and..."

She hesitated as she picked up the last one. "Where did you get a Recover30 chip from?" she asked Eric.

"It was... was in the PET already..." he responded.

Stacey was surprised. "Ax is getting lazy in his old age," she chuckled out loud as she put the last one back into the folder. "Do you need me to explain the function of any of these chips?" she asked Eric's navi.

"Shockwave is what those Metools fired at me in the first battle, wasn't it?" she replied, feeling another twinge of guilt at dispatching the duo permanently. "Recovery chips heal, so a Recover30 would heal 30 hitpoints. RageClaw1, SkyShoes and Mushy, those are new to me."

"Contact!" Crony announced to the group. Amity was about to ask what that meant, but didn't need to when she turned her head in the direction of a low rumbling sound; a cloud of dust in the distance indicated that either something large or a large group of somethings was heading their way.

"Friendly or hostile?" Amity asked.

"Doesn't matter," Crony responded. "You still have one more trial to pass. This is yours."

Amity opened her mouth to answer, but Crony's image suddenly blurred away from her and back to the spectator stands. That's how he gets around so fast, she realised. A quick look around her surroundings showed that the arena had not been completely cleared, with a few scattered cracks and one hole a few paces in front of her.

"Friend or foe...?" she mumbled to herself as the cloud drew closer...

==========

Battle 2 Complete!

Zenny: 420 (300 >>> 720)
Battlechip: Shockwave
Battlechips: 5 >>> 6

Inventory Acquisition {EA#B001}
Battlechip: SkyShoes
Battlechip: Mushy
Battlechips: 6 >>> 8

Amity.EXE: 150 / 150 HP

(You can't spell 'trial' without 'tri'. Requesting Battle #3. Three. Tres. San. Drei.)

(((@Mod: I wasn’t trying to keep the terrain clear for the next battle by keeping Amity in place; by all means terraform with the arrival of new opponents as you please (like you need permission...))))
Whether it could be said to be a large group or not, the stampede that charged down the field certainly outnumbered Amity's party of one. The cloud of dust resolved into a diverse party of four - no, five; the odd collection of spheres bouncing atop the Spikey was in fact a Cacty. Bounding along at its heels was a crackling Bunny, itself being chased by a Swordy, glowing purple blade held high. A Melody careened over the lot of them, frequently ricocheting off an errant limb or head to create a wild sort of game bereft of rules or sense.

The party's course curved in a winding path all across the field, until one lucky swipe from the Swordy put the Melody's face directly in line with Amity. Burbling excitedly at the sight of a new thing to be bounced off, it tore off like the world's most aggressive rubber ball. The other viruses, with a clamour of yipping, burbling, and otherwise noising however they were wont, followed suit.

-- Team Names-That-End-With-Y --
BunnyBunny (Bunny)

Bunny viruses move by hopping. They are adept at jumping, and can reach higher terrain or hop onto objects with ease. They are also very good at dodging, and are treated as having Haste (+10%) for Evasion purposes only at all times. Omega Bunny has double Haste (+20%). These effects cannot be removed except by Glitch. They attack by launching a ZapRing from their ears.

Area: ACDC, SciLab, Electown, Dentech

HP: 50
Attack Damage/Effect: 10 Elec + Stun1
Attack Accuracy: A
Attack Description: Hops around randomly before lining up a shot and firing.
Element: Elec
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): ZapRing1, Zenny
Special: Slightly better dodges.
: 50 HP [Stampede!]
Swordy: 60 HP [Stampede!]
CactyCacty (Cacty)

When a Cacty virus attacks, it creates two damage zones: the body and the head. Touching either the body or the head will cause damage to the player, but only the head is used as an actual attack. Cacty virus bodies are 50% resistant to all forms of damage except Fire. There is no defense piercing that bypasses this effect except the Fire Element. This effect applies only to the body of the virus, as the head of the virus sustains full damage as normal.

Area: ACDC, Electown, Okuden Valley

HP: 70
Attack Damage/Effect: 10 Wood per hit + Act-Shot + Ground Attack
Attack Accuracy: C
Attack Description: Throws its head at opponents. When it hits something, it bounces backwards one space, then tried to bounce forward again. When the cactus ball reaches the edge of the field, it appears again on the virus. This attack is stopped by objects.
Element: Wood
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): CactusBall1, Zenny
Special: Act-Shot: This attack may hit each target a number of times equal to the virus' max actions per turn, but the virus may only attack once per turn.
Special: Divided: This virus has two Hit Zones when attacking. Both may sustain damage from a single attack as if they were separate targets. Damage is cumulative.
: 70 HP [Riding Spikey]
MelodyMelody (Melody)

Melody viruses move, dodge, and attack by jumping. There is no distinction between these 3 actions.

Area: ACDC, Kotobuki Town, Netopia, Dentech

HP: 80
Primary Attack Damage/Effect: 20 Null
Primary Attack Accuracy: C
Primary Attack Description: Jumps on the enemy.
Secondary Attack Damage/Effect: 10 Null x 3 attacks
Secondary Attack Accuracy: E
Secondary Attack Description: Bounces around with complete disregard for whoever or whatever is in the area. Can hit obstacles as well as enemies.
Element: None
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): Binder1, ColorBall1 (Rare), Zenny
Special: Increased evasion.
: 80 HP [Stampede!]
SpikeySpikey (Spikey)

Spikey viruses are a little faster than the average virus, allowing them to cover more ground than normal with movements and dodges. They may attack while moving, but as normal, they cannot attack while dodging without expending a second action to do so. Spikey viruses are also able to use something called 'pack tactics' when 3 or more of them are present. Simply put, the Spikey viruses attack and dodge as a wolf pack. In addition, they are treated as having a reduced power Haste and Accuracy Enhancement effect which grants them a +5% bonus to evasion and accuracy while this effect is active. The effect is passive, and only expires when their numbers drop below 3.

Area: ACDC, Kotobuki Town, Yumland, Netfrica, Hades Isle

HP: 90
Attack Damage/Effect: 15 Fire + Spread 1
Attack Accuracy: A
Attack Description - Fires HeatShot
Element: Fire
Possible Rewards (Per Virus): HeatShot, Zenny
Special: Uses pack tactics when with at least 2 other Spikeys
: 90 HP [Stampede!]

-- Name Also Ends With Y --
Amity.EXE: 150 HP [Normal]

-- Terrain --
55% Normal [Packed turf field]
45% Cracked
  • Changes to Broken when stepped on, chance to fall in when triggered.
  • Burrow: Change terrain to Broken, Null 50 to burrower.
  • Panel Crack attacks, >100 Damage Break/Impact/Drop attacks: Change terrain hit to Broken.
  • PanelShot: Splash1.
[Large patch behind Amity]

-- Objects --

-- FEE-FIE-FO-FREE --
-- I SEE THE START OF BATTLE THREE! --
Amity continued to focus on the dustcloud as it became bigger and bigger the closer it got to her. In nervousness she quickly checked her surroundings so if she needed to leap one way or the other she would be safe. Left, clear. Right, clear. Behind... as she chanced a glance behind her, a nasty scattering of cracks took her by surprise.

"Hey, you missed some!" she yelled to Crony as she pointed at the damage. Her 'babysitter', for lack of a better word, had taken the same seated pose in the grandstand as before with the same cutting stare. I bet he did it on purpose... she grumbled.

The dustcloud was starting to become transparent as the reducing distance dissipated the cloak created by the dust particles. Suddenly three entities came into view; a large quadruped with spiky hair that seemed to be juggling some green balls on its back, followed by an odd-looking smaller creature with an unusual hopping pattern, and finally some kind of knight wielding a wavering sword. Something black was being bounced between them as well.

What an odd collection indeed.

As she continued to stare, Amity realised that the green balls were in fact not balls, but something else altogether. It seemed to sway on its own, contrary to the actions of the partner it sat atop of. Additionally, what she had thought to be a blur in the group was actually yet another comrade (maybe?) that seemed to be bouncing between the three main travelling companions.

Is that... five... new characters...? she quizzically wondered to herself. As had happened before when she began to ask these questions, five separate boxes appeared on her visor-like vision and began analysing.

// Virus Identified
// Label: Spikey
// Hitpoints: 90
// Known Data: None
// Element: Fire [Aqua-type advantage]

...Aqua-type advantage...? she wondered. Then it hit her; her gelatinous makeup, both solidified as a fleshly female and liquified as various responsive gels, were mostly of an aqueous composition, meaning that their use against entities of a fiery composition would be much more effective than standard weapons. That's handy. If he gets aggressive I should be okay. And the others?

The scanner moved next to the Spikey's rider, and then to the back of the group.

// Virus Identified
// Label: Cacty
// Hitpoints: 70
// Known Data: None
// Element: Wood [Neutral]

// Virus Identified
// Label: Swordy
// Hitpoints: 60
// Known Data: None

It then gravitated to the virus that was about to impact said Swordy.

// Virus Identified
// Label: Melody
// Hitpoints: 80
// Known Data: None

Finally, it fixated on the middle entry.

// Virus Identified
// Label: Bunny
// Hitpoints: 50
// Known Data: None
// Element: Electric [DANGER: Aqua-type disadvantage]

That warning sent a chill down Amity's spine. Just as she had the elemental advantage over the Spikey, this Bunny had the battle advantage over her. All-in-all, it was five against one, and a quick math calculation resulted in a combined enemy strength of over twice her current maximum hitpoints, and she wasn't even at a quarter of her normal battle capacity. The sensible thing to do would be to take out the Bunny, but it was protected from both front and back, making a direct hit almost impossible at this distance. She'd have to risk battling one or two of the others first to even get close. This was going to be an uphill battle.

Or was it? She still had time. Eric could call her back.

"Eric, the odds aren't in our favour. Pull me out," she ordered.

In the real world, Eric was an an impasse. On the one hand, he wanted to comply. He'd already jabbed at the functions menu and the only thing remaining was to press 'Recall'. The only thing stopping him was his sister's burning eyes, compelling him to freeze in place. Stacey had realised that anger wasn't helping the situation, but she needed to take control back from the purple navi to ensure this test was completed properly.

"You can pull her out when I say you can. Understand?" she commanded Eric in an authorative yet calm manner.

"Come on, just do it!" Amity yelled though the PET speaker.

Back in cyberspace, the Melody had landed on the Swordy's head, which caused it to grab the floating note and send it flying with the aid of its sword. Just before it left the knight's grasp, the Melody spotted Amity in the distance. Amity wasn't sure if it could smile, but with the change of expression, if it wasn't a smile that crossed its face, she didn't want to guess with that expression meant.

The Melody began rapidly hopping towards our poor lady, and as soon as the other four noticed its change of path, they too began the same march. "Come on, get me outta here, now!" she yelled earnestly.

Instead of hearing Eric's voice as confirmation, she heard Stacey's directions: "You'd better choose your battlechips quickly..."

..........WHAT?! The combination of fear and dread now got to share Amity's mind with anger. Looks like she'd have no choice on this one; there were too many viruses to risk a non-combatant attitude if things suddenly changed for the worse. "FINE! Guard and Shotgun, quickly!" The same combination had worked last time, and in the face of more opponents, Amity had to try it again.

Eric pulled both chips out of the folder and jammed them into the reader, almost missing the designated slots in his rush. Both chips were recharged and ready to be deployed; they were accepted by the PET and digitised into the network. Eric was slightly embarrased again. He'd hesistated, and should have already had a plan ready to go. Once again he was reliant on others to feed him instructions, unable to help himself. There was no way that Stacey was going to have let them stop, not when they'd come this far as a team.

Both data packets arrived and manifested themselves onto Amity; the large yellow shield with a blue plus once again taking its place on the left arm, and the silver shotgun barrel once again solidifying her right arm and peeking out ever so slightly from her right sleeve.

"...What are you thinking?" Eric asked.

"I'm hoping for a miracle, that's what!" Amity growled. "Maybe the Shotgun can take out more than just the note!"

Amity tried to lock on to the madly bouncing creature as it closed in on her. Bouncing left and right, it was proving to be a very hard target to put in one place. With her body crouched behind the shield she waited for her moment, hoping to catch the Melody as it bounced in front of its party. If she could get the timing right, even if she missed the black note, she might get one of its partners instead. Heck, maybe she could score more than one of them at the same time.

With a twist of her solidified wrist, the shotgun barrel exploded in the same blue-tinted smoke as before and tore across the field towards its intended victims. Time would tell whether the move would give her the result she desired. As she did so, she noticed the hem of her dress beginning to glow. She was already at maximum vitality, so that could only indicate one thing.

Great, even my internal systems know this is about to hurt...

==========

Actions:
[1] [Disruptor]Guard1 [1-Hit Shield, Reflect <=60 DMG, Line1] - Equipped: Amity
[2] Take Aim, Wait for Shot
[3] [Disruptor]Shotgun [50 DMG] >>> Melody (/Group)
---
[P] THAW [7 HEAL] >>> Amity [??? >>> ??? / 150 HP]

Sigs:
None in cooldown

Party:
Amity.EXE: 150 / 150 HP
Told myself I wasn’t going to bump, but just want to make sure the topic itself isn’t buried. :)