SafariMan's Zodiac Challenge

Night's part of the being known as Ayashade would be inclined to agree with his other half. He was quite sure that they could take them all, though it would be fruitless effort, considering they could just trap them there.

The small black dragon's feet claws touched down on the teleport pad. Nighty was loving his new form. His body was craving for whatever Aya's energy was made of. It was just awesome. "Sorry boys, we don't have time to deal with you guys." The dragon waved at the robots with a huge grin on his snout, exposing his row of sharp fangs.

With his tail, he poked the teleport pad to activate it. "See you next time, we have an appointment with your boss."
Aya!Dagger glowed again as Night touched down on the teleport pad. The hilt disconnected from the blade, dropping the sharp bit onto the ground. The steel melted into a puddle and a knightly form arose from the ooze, hefting its own glowing blade.

Quote (Aya.SP)

Active: All for One [Team Subtype]: SPs may receive one Battlechip directly from the Operator each turn. (Once Per Turn).

Selected Chip: Swordy3HP: 180
Damage: 100 + Long Attack + Slashing / 75 + Wide Attack + Slashing
Accuracy: B
Description: Creates a Swordy-N3 virus to aid you. Can attack with either LongSword or WideSword, is immune to Sleep status, and can Teleport as a free action once per turn.
Element: Null
Special: Allied Virus: This virus has three actions per turn, and is fully controllable by the summoner. If no orders are given, it will perform actions at random, but will never intentionally interfere with or damage the summoner or their allies. Deleting this virus will grant no additional rewards to either side.
Trader Rank: A

As Ayashade teleported away, the Swordy3 turned, and struck at the machine with its sword. Then charged the enemy ranks, teleporting around, and slashing at multiple enemies with its LongSword/WideSword. It would cause what damage it could before its time ran out, either through deletion or through its disconnection with its operator, and disappear from whence it came.
Roc's eyes flashed to the thrown blade, then to the thrower; a big grin spread across her face, showing each of her sharp, hooked teeth. Magistrate might be swallowing back the full depth of her angst for the sake of professionalism, but Roc made no such courtesy. "Don't you try to tell me what I can and can't do, SP," she snickered, seeming to find amusement in the idea of Magistrate challenging her and perhaps forgetting that DragonierMan would likely be backup for his SP in such a confrontation. "What's wrong with calling a spade a spade? Pull the stick out your ass, Magi" she shrugged.

DragonierMan busied himself relaying a message to the area at large, which went unanswered, at least for now, and a message to Yasu, which was answered much more quickly.

Quote (Yasu)

It sounds like that bastard deserves to be killed... we don't need more threats and the last time we took hostages, even ones who could resist jacking out, it did not go well. That said, it's not worth inflaming the NP over. Once he's locked up without his arsenal, he ought to be relatively harmless. Let them have him. However, in the future, if you ever meet psychotic aggressors like this one or any active member of the ROT and are not being followed by the NP, you may dispatch them with impunity.

My apologies that your mission once again ended up more dangerous than expected. It seems we court such peril wherever we go.


Inside the control room, SafariMan raised his eyebrows, then gave a hearty laugh from the diaphragm, still sounding remarkably genial for such a depraved individual. "My apologies- I was not totally clear, it seems, and I understand your confusion," the man chuckled, picking entirely the wrong thing to apologize for in this situation. "Gala is my daughter. She's being held by the Mafia, you see. Not that it's any business of mine, of course... She's a grown woman and long since left my care," he finished, smiling nostalgically. "I'm sure she's enjoying herself, wherever they've locked her up. She can hardly do otherwise. As for why the Mafia chose to imprison her, when she was supposedly on their side, I imagine she was making a nuisance of herself! That girl always was a handful."

Only half-listening, HoundMan grunted a short distance away as he finally got the lid open. "Aroo! There's a girl inside!" he exclaimed, grabbing Suzume's arm and pulling her over so she could see. Perhaps predictably, Pest, one of the only players who'd yet to make an appearance, was inside, dressed in her usual uniform. "What an unusual looking navi! I wonder if she's another one of his weapons, aroo?"

"No, no, dear chap. She was a bargaining chip I pocketed early on, in case everyone wanted to fly the coop. I figured if no one wanted to stay for the hunt, I'd give them a nudge in the right direction by showing them I had a captive. It wasn't necessary, of course! The challenge caused the cream to rise to the crop. That's far more interesting, isn't it? Those who'll stay and fight for the thrill of it, rather than some sort of sentimentality! Hunters at heart, that's what you and the dragon are," he smiled.

"Kidnapping?! Your list of crimes gets longer and longer!" HoundMan barked, seeming offended. "I recognize her uniform; she's one of the Neo-Shogun Empire soldiers, right? Suzume, do you wanna take her back to base?" he asked, drawing up his lip into a tight frown. "I'll have my hands full with this guy."

"Tut tut, there's one more thing we ought to address: your reward. I've left it with the GNA handler; there's no need to worry. You can trust me! Apart from the necessary step of crafting the whole 'Zodiac Challenge' ruse, I've been nothing but honest with you, haven't I?" he asked again, not begging forgiveness, but rather, simply assuring Suzume that she would be paid for her efforts as he'd claimed.

"Alright, alright! Suzume, just let the NP know if there's any problems with payment, okay? I'm gonna get this guy going to his cell! Aroo!" HoundMan finished, snapping a sharp salute. "Good working with you, civilian!" he finished. Suzume perhaps would have preferred "soldier" or "officer," but one might imagine that there was a big addendum to the revised NP handbook stating not to add momentum to the growing empire by honoring their titles.

"And a fine hunt," SafariMan added, tipping his hat. Amusingly, the hair beneath was silvery gray, a stark contrast to the rest of his sooty, char-roasted appearance. With that, the two vanished, leaving Suzume with Pest.


The combined unit of AyaShade had plenty left to fight, but the fighting now would be even more pointless than it had been earlier. As such, Aya decided to flee, but she left behind a present. The summoning was a fine idea, allowing them to use the pad to get back to their precise coordinates, then wreck the thing so nobody could follow them. The only downside would be if anyone had any sympathies for the mini-swordsman, because no matter how strong his blade, he was completely buried by chisel-wielding monsters by the time Nightshade had imparted a few quips and the two were taking off.

On that note, the scene on the other side of the teleporter had devolved greatly since they left it. The whole clearing was covered in flames, broken stone men, and leveled weeds. No rocky creatures were moving, but neither was Bullrun... she appeared to have either vacated the area, moved on, or otherwise been EJO'd.


Around this time, DragonierMan would receive another response, this one from Oxybelle outside:

Quote (Oxybelle)

Good work; HoundMan just explained the rest of the situation to me. The NetPolice really owe the Empire one! The robots in this area are deactivating and I think everyone's gotten the message to jack out now. I'm going to call in a team to make one last sweep, now that comms are open again. We can handle it from here.

Presumably, they were free to jack out and grab their things at the GNA now. Of course, chances were, even locked up as he was, this wouldn't be the last time the group would encounter SafariMan.
"Understood," Suzume responded to a combination of Yasu/DragonierMan and SafariMan/HoundMan. She turned to HoundMan after receiving her orders. "Just remember to make sure that your superiors know what we did here today." She waved HoundMan off, with SafariMan in tow, and turned to Pest in the 'tanning bed'. She leaned over it and patted/shook Pest until she awoke, assuming she was unconscious. "Hey, you up? We won the contest... and apparently saved you as a bonus. Ready to get out of here and report back?"

Suzume didn't wait for long for Pest to respond before she started looking around for anything that looked valuable to salvage, stuffing it into a sack. Habits die hard after all. Though she did seem to stop occasionally to check on Pest. "So how'd you end up in that coffin? Swatted down and stuffed into a garbage bag?"

Quote (DragonierMan)

<You're welcome. And thank you for your help as well. Let this be yet another cobblestone on the road to friendship between our two factions.>

DragonierMan replied back to Oxybelle. Magistrate snarled at Roc for a moment longer before taking out a bag and began stacking the contents of the drone into it. "Before we leave, I want to take back samples. Go out and retrieve one of those stonemen robots, as intact as you can. I'll bring this drone back to my lab and isolate it from the network," Magistrate said over the commlink. When she was finished storing the drone in her pack, Magistrate jacked-out.

Drago shrugged and continued heading in deeper, trying to find Suzume. He could find a stoneman on the way, maybe, and he didn't particularly want to deal with the burgeoning fight between Magi and Roc. Now that communication was restored, Suzume was pinging her position to the rest of the NS members. It probably wouldn't be long before they found her and Pest, assuming that there weren't a lot of obstacles in their way.

Ayashade arrived in a smoldering wasteland battlefield in the middle of a swamp. It wasn't long before all the messages between the various members of the Neo-Shogunate began flooding in if they hadn't already been picked up. Aya went silent in Nightshade's mind as she went over all the communications, sorting the information into tiers of importance. Nightshade would be able to feel her thought processes race, getting a first-hand look at how she thought. The whole thing seemed to happen both really fast and incredibly slowly. Sharing minds was an interesting experience to say the least.

Then Aya suddenly broke the loud, and hurried, silence. Must find stoneman intact. Must find stoneman intact. Must find stoneman intact. She repeated this command over, and over, and over again. Her thoughts quickly clouded with a single thought. Utterly focused at the top of her priority list.

The dragon folded his claws, looking at the charred remains of the land. "Well...we won't be finding anything intact here. Bull lady sure has one hell of a firepunch. "

Squatting down, tail swishing in the ashes, the dragon grabbed an arm and raised it up to its snout. "We could always try to rebuild one if we find all the parts around here. Perhaps if they aren't completely charred." He added, standing upright again and throwing the stump back on the floor where it flopped in a puff of charred wood. Stretching around slightly, Ayashade took a moment to hop in the air again. An aerial view would be way more useful if they wanted to search the area.

"You know, all this fluff and I still don't know what I'm supposed to be now. Am I male or female? Or both? or none?" the dragon mumbled. "Never thought I'd say it. Though I'm thoroughly enjoying my own situation."
"You are still you," Aya's voice came through loud and clear. In mindscape, an Aya appeared from a cloud of smoke, wearing a black ninja outfit. "I am just in your shadow, whispering in your ear."

"Giving you strength," a second Aya's voice spoke up. This one was fully armored as she originally appeared to Nightshade when they first met. The form she had been throughout most of the mission, before they merged. A powerful, yet short, knight. "Teaching you how to stand tall and proud."

"To devour all that stand before you," the growling form of a ragged third Aya spat. She was dressed in tattered clothing, torn in places where shredded and pockmarked wings, sharp scales, and long claws grew out. They extended out of the mess of cracked, dried skin, and unkempt, wild hair. "To crush and rend. To make them dust."
Talking to Pest proved to be useless, as she was fast asleep. Hopefully, she'd be back to normal in a bit, but it looked as though the pod was releasing some sort of cool gas from the lid, probably intended to induce sleep. At best it was just a comfortable environment to sleep in; at worst, it was some kind of sleeping gas. Probably best not to inhale a bunch to find out. At any rate, pest seemed to be curled up and enjoying a nice nap, although she was doing it with long-pointed mask on.

Unfortunately, sleeping as she was, she was probably about the most useful thing for Suzume to pick up in the control room. The console had been reduced to a smoldering wreck by the magnum and the pod, whatever it was, certainly wouldn't be bagged easily. SafariMan hadn't been carrying one of his guns either. Nothing left for Suzume to do but gather up Pest and head home.


Magistrate picked up the pieces of the disassembled half-drone and made off with it. FeilongMan nodded, then took off as well. Roc turned back to DragonierMan, then raised an eyebrow. "If you're going after your SP, I'll go grab one of those fake SafariMan statue guys. Just get the heck outta here when you're done. Reward's gonna be waiting at the mission board and all that," she finished in an aloof manner, before heading back out the cave.

DragonierMan would reunite with Suzume soon after, by heading down the same uncomfortable tunnel he did. Well, he would reunite as far as seeing her through the window, and would probably realize that it wasn't worth it to go through the rigmarole of busting his way through whatever had been lurking on the right . The two would probably conclude it was time to jack out.


Aya and Nightshade found the area free of Bullrun and rich in smoldering statue parts. There was little left to do but go over a little bit of dragon-cat etiquette and behavior while surveying the land. Even with a few fires here and there, without those creatures stomping around, the net seemed a bit more peaceful. The two could probably join the others in jacking out soon enough.

((Now jack out and go get rewards at the mission board!))
DragonierMan and Suzume exchanged pleasantries through the window while she hefted Pest up over her shoulders in a fireman's carry. They then sent a message to Aya and Nightshade that they would meet back at the mission board building. Then they would both jack-out with Pest.

Meanwhile the three Aya's were waiting for Nightshade to say or do something.

(Before mission thread.)

Nightshade nodded at the three versions appearing before him. "Well I don't sure mind what I am right now."

Looking around at the charred remains, half wondering where Bull Lady went, he released his dragon form, returning to his regular self, albeit still wearing Aya's armor around him. Her powers were still flowing strong within his body.

"Right, the situation seems fine now. We should jack out and head back to Dad." he chimed, still pretty much enjoying his shared form. He sheathed Aya!dagger and proceeded to jack out. "I wonder what he'll say when he sees my new form!"

(Nighty and Aya jacking out.)
((DragonierMan gets:
18 Nightshade FXP
11 Roc FXP
5 Oxybelle FXP
8 HoundMan FXP
4 SafariMan FXP
1 Bullrun FXP
3 FeilongMan FXP
2 Pest FXP

Nightshade gets:
18 DragonierMan FXP
2 Roc FXP
5 Bullrun FXP
1 Pest FXP))