Keep's Castle (for DragonierMan/Nightshade's Mission)

As far as castles went, Keep's Castle turned out to be a fairly modest one, albeit seemingly in a superb state of repair, at least from the outside. The castle had no real towers, only a gatehouse, a rampart wall surrounding, and a keep in the back, presumably some sort of courtyard and smaller facilities inside the walls. The walls were strewn with banners, black with a white emblem depicting a castle shape with a tall keep. A moat surrounded the main structure, with a drawbridge, currently lowered, and a portcullis, currently raised. Hopefully, whatever enemy was being expected was still pretty far away, because otherwise, they'd simply walk through the front door when they got here.

Well, not quite. Three navis were gathered outside, none of them wearing livery indicating that they belonged to Keep herself. Instead, the three navis gathered outside included two Neo-Shogun soldiers, one a young man with a yellow bandanna obscuring his mouth and nose, and the other, a big one with a bit of light armor including bracers and shin-guards. The third figure was a woman, statuesque with a proud, straight back, clad in blue robes with long sleeves ending in clattering axe-blades. Perhaps because the ROT threat had been removed, she figured it fine to go back from pink hair to white. Her eyes were steely blue and judgmental as always, currently focused on the portcullis.

"I'd like to shut it down against that woman... rather, to let the honor-sod step just past the moat and then pull up the bridge, or else, to let her across, and then shut the gate upon her," Guillotine spoke, audibly, to the men on each side. The men each nodded, the big one stoney faced, the other blinking a few times as though he wished to speak, but keeping his mouth shut. "Hmph," she murmured, pressing one fist against the unsubtle curve of her hip and resting the other hand upon her cheek. The fall of the ROT's leaders might have improved her hair, but not her sour demeanor.

Escort, as well as the other soldiers and their hostess, Keep, were presumably deeper inside the castle somewhere. But hopefully not too deep, otherwise, there would be a fair bit of walking involved. DragonierMan and Nightshade would notice one more detail as well: a large board, perhaps a signboard naming the place, covered with a tarp. The tarp bore the words: "Closed for Renovations."
A portal opened up and spilled out the group in front of the drawbridge. "I still won," Aya complained while Magistrate and Suzume shook their heads. "Blowing up the whole thing doesn't count. The bet was taking turns scoring shots," Suzume chided Aya. "Unfortunately, you forced a draw by acting like a child."

"Like Nightshade," Magistrate added with a smirk. Aya's face turned bright red and steam shot off her. She got right up in Magistrate's space and grabbed her by the collar, pulling her down a little so they were face to face. "Say that again!" she growled, pulling a dagger with the other hand and holding it to Magistrate's neck. "I dare you."

Magistrate just looked at Aya smugly before Suzume and DragonierMan pulled Aya off Magistrate. "ENOUGH!" Drago commanded in his own gruff voice. "Save it for the enemy. We have a mission to complete and I'll not have any fighting amongst ourselves." Magistate straightened her outfit, still with a smug look on her face. "Tch, fine," Aya grumbled and raised her hands in reluctant surrender, having to give up on her fight with Magi for now. Her dagger flipped in her fingers and then disappeared somewhere like magic. "I'll beat her on the field," she promised.

DragonierMan walked past the other dragoniers and started across the drawbridge towards Guillotine and the two soldiers, who were getting a front-row seat to the fight that just ended. He raised his hand in greeting, trying to put on a smile and hopefully have them forget what they saw and heard. "Hello, DragonierMan and co. reporting for duty. What's the situation so far?" he asked.

Nighty hopped out from the portal with a series offlips only to skid to a stop right in the middle of the ensuring chaos. It wasn't a mystery: he was high on energy and literally high on power. His merge with Yumi seemed to be making him feel way stronger than his normal.

"Alrighty!" He chirped, wagging his tail around. "Operation bust all the baddies begin!"

Hop hop hop slurp! The navi divided in two. One copy seemed to be the usual Nighty, while the clone seemed to be scanning the area around with similar behavior as Yumi.

"Alright, I take left, you take right. Who gets to shoo the least viruses is a loser!"

With that said, Nightshade and Yumishade merrily walked opposite ways , not caring of a single thing in the world. They had their mission, they were going to hang out with their family and they were going to have alotta fun.
The banter between DragonierMan's SPs could be interpreted as the teasing of children, were it not for the fact that it also involved threats by dagger. Guillotine's confused face upon their approach, her painted lips pulled into a tight frown, showed she cared neither for those antics nor the energetic antics of Nightshade. It was hard to tell what she really liked, other than counter-strokes against her former employers.

Each of the soldiers gave DragonierMan a salute, but otherwise stayed silent. They either didn't have much of a briefing to give him or thought themselves below his rank. Neither looked particularly familiar (apart from the similarities they all shared as Electopian males with black hair in yellow tunics), so it was unlikely DragonierMan would greet them with anything more than a sense of formality either.

Guillotine seemed to be inspecting DragonierMan and Nightshade, as well as the girls, even once they got closer, but her mood did not improve. "Well met, DragonierMan. This must be the new recruit... or recruits... you mentioned?" she gestured with one palm upward, extending the hand toward Nightshade while the blades on her sleeve clattered. If the cat was not socially aware. It might look like she wanted him to shake her hand like a pet, or possibly to take it and start dancing. "The situation is... how should I say it... vexing." Again, it was hard to imagine a situation in which Guillotine did not look vexed, but she elaborated. "I suppose you received the same request from Yasu, stating that in exchange for manning this castle and offering improvements, we would be guaranteed its use, hm?" she began, crossing her hands behind the back of her robe. "Walk with me... and I believe our First General's grave misunderstanding of this castle's usage will become clear."

She remained silent for a moment while they walked, her boots clapping against the stonework in a way that might be satisfying for a castle aficionado. The walls were all covered with tarp, as though some painting was either drying or still about to take place. What would be less satisfying for said aficianado was the sight waiting past the gatehouse: the "courtyard" of this area, instead of something useful like smithies, training grounds, or armorers, held all manner of food stalls, stage shows, and the like. At first glance, one might suppose it was a Rennaisance fair. Closer inspection revealed an even stranger truth: it appeared most of the structures were water rides, viewings for aquatic viruses, and that sort of thing. In short, inside the castle walls were not the makings of the castle, but the makings of a water park.

"Once we arrived, I quickly requested to be posted at the gate to await your arrival. I have no desire to partake in such frivolities and I can't imagine why the owner reached out to the Neo-Shogun Empire, of all agencies, to staff it and suggest renovations. Whatever the case, Escort will be able to fill you in on more, as she has been speaking to Keep directly-"

As if on queue, the sound of a wail pierced the air. The navis and SPs would see a large man flying overhead for a moment, before splashing into a pool that appeared to be connected to the moat outside. It appeared he had either jumped or been thrown from the ramparts. A giant splash of water flew out the pool, hitting both Guillotine and her tour group.

The soaking Guillotine glared daggers (or perhaps axeblades) up at the perpetrator. Atop the ramparts, Escort was busy hiking her hands beneath the arms of another Neo-Shogun soldier, apparently planning to chuck him in the same way. One could only speculate as to why. Her attire appeared to be her full monk's robe, the uniform she wore, albeit without the hood or mask. Given the heat, she was probably sweating buckets, as Guillotine appeared to be, given closer inspection. "... I don't know why she is up there and not with Keep," Guillotine remarked flatly. "I suppose you'll have to search for the proprietress yourself-"

"No need. My apologies," a voice spoke up from underneath a nearby fried food stand. Impossibly, out from underneath the fryer emerged a tall lady in a regal dress, gray and reaching all the way to her feet with a balled skirt. The dress was covered over in armor on the top half, bulky and gray, seeming heavy even despite her decently muscled frame. The armor, as well as the tall helmet she wore, were adorned with primarily flat tops surrounded in minor spikes, a bit like a rampart themselves. A small black flag trailed from the top of the helmet. Her face was somewhat soft by comparison, with brown eyes and a more girlish appearance than either Guillotine or Escort, although she had a slight hook to her nose that might seem somehow familiar to DragonierMan. She was probably sweating even more than either of the NS officers and she appeared to be developing a sunburn that only covered the exposed part of her face. "I am Keep. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

"I wish I could say likewise. I had hoped to leave this to Escort, but now I will ask: what could possibly be the reason for requesting our soldiers and officers?" Guillotine snapped back.

A forlorn expression crossed Keep's face as she looked between Guillotine and the others. The sour tone of the conversation didn't match the delighted laughter of soldiers, having a ball in the background. "Ah... You see, up until last month, this was a castle with a more typical function. My mother, Castile, gifted me this castle and... to be frank... maintaining a castle, here on a public net, is a difficult job. And not a particularly rewarding one. For a time, I maintained it with it's original function but with no one to serve or lord to host, that proved... a little pointless. As a fan of culture, I began to convert the castle into a museum with artifacts and what not but... when that business did not turn a profit, I was forced to let go of my staff and sell the exhibits. With only the castle left, I began to consider options on how to recoup my losses for a low investment..."

"This does not explain why you thought we were best suited to assist with your task..." Guillotine responded, looking unsympathetic.

"Ah, you see... I heard your reputation for benevolence and thought you would sympathize with my situation," she suggested, trying to look as dignified as she could while essentially begging.

Guillotine arched her eyebrow, showing she didn't buy it.

Keep cast her eyes to the ground for a moment, then smiled. "So, ah... funny story... I had originally placed this as an open contract with the GNA and some of the language was perhaps... vague, because your General thought I was offering a fully functional holdfast. She was so excited and we both kind of got caught up in the banter so... I never managed to get a word in to clear the air," she answered, hoping others would find this funny and not insulting.

"Rubbish," Guillotine cursed, watching the fryer with contempt. "However, we have our job, and Yasu is paying us to complete it. There is still significant work to be done, even if it is not especially glamorous work. But allow me to ask: is it too late to convert this back into a stronghold? And what of the enemy you mentioned?"

"Ah, yes... well, my mother is bringing herself and her family to experience the opening of a waterpark, so at least for the near future, conversion back into a holdfast will be impossible. Also, she is the 'enemy' I was referring to, because she is planning to judge whether I've made worthy use of the property and reclaim it if I have not. I don't believe I told Yasu 'enemy's specifically, I used the word-"

"Nevermind," Guillotine sighed deeply, her bosom rising and falling with the motion. "What can we possibly do here?"

"Your soldiers can man the attractions. Beyond that, I was hoping some of your officers might accompany me and inspect the attractions, possibly providing input on what I should do to improve them. I'm on a tight budget, but anything here can be viewed as an investment-"

"And you'll be saving plenty on labor, since you've essentially paid them all with the use of a waterpark," Guillotine snapped back, slicking back her dripping bangs with one hand. This awkward pause could be a good chance for Nightshade and DragonierMan to get a word in if they wanted.
Aya threw up her hands in exasperation. "Ugh again with this?!" she groaned. "What does this make? The third or fourth time we have ended up on carnival duty?" Magistrate scrolled through some digital document in the air, "Second, if you include the GNA Recruitment Fair as the first. I would not classify many of the other events, like the Showbizz ones, as 'carnival duty'."

This did not seem to soothe Aya's temper. "Rrr. Whatever, I'm going to find something to hit. Really. Really. Hard," she said before taking off like a lightning bolt into the sky. If there was one of those 'ring the bell' hammer games, Aya would probably be heading there. Otherwise she would probably be gone for a little bit, assuaging herself by punching trees in the periphery.

"So..." Suzume began as she waved away some dust, trying to steer the conversation back on track, "What sort of attractions do you have? I mean, we aren't the most knowledgeable about waterparks... So I don't know how much help we'll be. But... I'm willing to try at least," she said. DragonierMan grunted. He was more of a warrior than an attraction manager, so he knew how Aya felt. But at the same time he had, had a lot of experience with many non-combat missions working for the Neo-Shoguns. So he knew the drill.

"Nightshade, Yumi, don't fall behind," he called to the new recruits. "The client needs your assistance here, let's make a good impression." He turned to Keep, "Lead the way." He then turned his attention to Guillotine. "It seems that instead of a military base, we are ending up with an entertainment complex. Though I personally find it vexing; especially since they decided on sending military assets as valuable as you, Escort, and myself to a non-combat situation that would be better served by other members of the organization who are more, suited, to the task; the need for the occasional bout of recreation for an army is important enough to try to complete this mission successfully. We'll just have to make sure that it doesn't break down discipline too much," he observed.

"Daaaad!" Nighty called, running off all around the place and then back again with Yumishade following close behind. The speed navi had probably ran around the place once or twice already. As one could tell, he was a kid in a...well...waterpark. "This so coooool!"

He pointed over to Guillotine "YOU!" He squeaked, materializing a thousand zenny and slapping them in the axe wielding navi's face soon after. "There. Money. You stop being grumpy now. This is my recruitment mission and it's the best day ever! You go do fighty stuff outside with big sis Aya if you want. She'll probably kick your ass but if that makes ya happy..."

Slipping past the group of NS soldiers without a moment of respite, Nighty literally tried to grab Keep by his hand and drag the owner away from the main group to the first available attraction posthaste. You could hear him shouting stuff as he impromtu "kidnapped" the owner or tried to for his own devices. "You gotta need swimsuit GMOs. Like, lotsa those. Not the boring kind of swimsuit. You gonna need...SHARKSUITS YES! Sharks are cool! You gotta get lotsa those. Then you also...((gonna need a mascot. Ooh. Ooh. I know! You can get a dolphin mascot. NOWAIT. Even better. YUMI. YES! Yumi is fluffy enough to be a cool water theme mascot yes. And then you get plushies and merchandize that you sell. Ooh ooh. And you gotta have a place to drink and eat. Like...a super cool restaurant plaza thing that can make even more zenny yes! And music. You need music. Like, fun music. Also you need *insert about 40 different kinds of waterpark things here listed with no pause in between them.*))"

Meanwhile the less excited and generally more calm Yumishade walked over to the nearest body of water and ducked down to examine it. She immersed her hand inside and waved it around a bit. Nighty's SP clone then seem to get a little concerned.

"This wtr.prog feels oddly wrong..." she mulled.

(-1000z thrown at Guillotine)
Aya quickly stormed off, fed up either with being deceived on missions, being assigned to unimportant tasks, or perhaps a mixture of both, leaving the others to their task. For her part, Guillotine was looking just as ready to stomp off, albeit for different reasons. "What does he mean, 'Dad?' Can't you get a hold of him?" she questioned DragonieMan about his companion, then withdrew backwards as Nightshade popped in between them.

Her face grew increasingly red in indignation as he offered her hush money, so to speak, and wapped it against her cheek. "Yooou... you confounded feline! An utter pebble-wit! I don't want your money! I'm not your harlot!" she complained, kneeling to grab the cash and throw it back at him, as though they were playing some sort of splash battle with cash.

((Nightshade regained his 1000z!))

"I will behave as I see fit! And it just so happens I am extraordinarily miffed! And you aren't helping! And you leave my buttocks out of this!" she fumed, beginning to chase after him as they ran circles around the park. This continued for a bit until Nightshade made his way back to Keep and pulled her aside for a pow-wow. "Ah, swimsuits. Of course! That makes sense," she murmured, nodding her head thoughfully while Nightshade led her away with one hand. Her armor felt like it must weigh a hefty bit, and dragging her was rather futile. Thankfully, she kept pace walking. "Sharks, you say? That is rather different, isn't it? I wonder if that is a good motif after all, although sharks have little to do with a castle setting. But then again, castles have little to do with water parks," she mused. "Merchandise, of course! Se have food and drinks, though if you could be more specific... oh, and music... if you could, er, be more specific," she babbled, growing increasingly incapable of keeping up with the cat boy's tempo. They seemed an I'll matching pair, her slow and deliberate, him bouncy and always-on.

Huffing in anger, Guillotine rejoined DragonierMan and begrudgingly shrugged to him, indicating they should follow after the others. "This is your recruit?" she asked, waving one jingling sleeve to dismiss the soldiers, as if not wanting them to witness her embarrass herself further. "He is a child! An ill-behaved one, at that. What do you suppose he brings to the table?" she grumbled. Of course, if she was thinking about it, he really was taking the ball and running with it, as far as their mission goal went.

Up ahead, Keep eagerly took mental notes, while trying to get a word in edgewise. "Nightshade. Nightshade. Nightshade!" she finally interrupted, planting her feet and becoming like a literal castle keep, immovable. "I appreciate the enthusiasm, but we really ought to take this one subject at a time," she insisted. "How about for starters, I'll prepare the shark costumes you suggested. I'll get the merchandise in the works. Then we can go over each attraction- and space to add attractions- and suggest what would be good there. Of course, I'll make sure each of you get share suits too. Alright?"

She withdrew for a moment to bring up a viewscreen like a clipboard and begin working on those subjects. The group would have a moment to talk, before she quickly rejoined them. "Here we are! Sharksuits!" she offered, presenting them each with .GMOs. Guillotine was in no rush to activate one, so the two of them (and their SPs could take the lead).

Quote (Sharksuit.GMO)

A stretching, form-fitting blue wet-suit with white trim from the chest down the fronts of the legs. A shark fin extends from the top of the head, with minor fins on each wrist. A white gill-like pattern stripes onto each side of the neck. Most people wouldn't consider it particularly stylish...

"What do you think? I also wanted to discuss the mascot," she mentioned again, waving Yumi over. "The... water feels wrong? As in temperature, or color? What should I do with it?"

At some point, the group might want to send Escort some sort of signal to join them, as much fun as the soldiers seemed to be having being chucked into the water by her. The group could also take a look at the viewscreen, which Keep had left suspended midair, to see their progress so far.

Quote (Notes so far)

Costumes = sharksuits (are they okay?)

Food? We have fried foods, soda fountains, water. What else?


Mascot = Yumi (need more details)

Attractions: Moat river, lake dive from ramparts, ??? using the keep, others?

Something about the water??

"He is actually calling me 'dad'. Mostly because he really took a shine to me," DragonierMan explained to Guillotine, matter-of-factually to her inquiry. "So much so that he begged me to be a part of our 'family'. I accepted, and by extension, I basically became his surrogate parent." He watched Nightshade frantically running around and chuckled a little bit at himself. "I am not sure yet if I fully understand what sort of trouble I have gotten myself into," he contemplated out loud.

Drago backed up suddenly as Nighty and Guilly had a money fight. He stood back, but followed on foot at a slight jog, as Guilly spat at and then chased Nighty a bit around the park. "Hey, wait up!" Suzume called out as followed them. Magistrate continued to stand where they had just conversed, taking the time to do some research on water parks with a set of vid-windows while everyone ran around. She clearly wouldn't be pulled into the childish chaos when they had a mission to complete efficiently.

Eventually Guilly, Drago, and Suzu ended up back where they started. Magi just glanced up from her research for a moment to acknowledge them, before returning to her work. Guilly questioned Drago about his choice of companions and he just shrugged. There wasn't really anything he could say to defend Nighty's hyperactive actions to the more stoic woman. "Well, the Neo-Shoguns could use the energy," he weakly defended. "The NS seems to be concentrating on the 'soft power' plays as their strategy to win public support, as these kinds of missions show," he said, indicating the park around them. "I'm guessing having such a positive youngster in the group could do wonders for the overall image. Think of it as a PR move."

"Also I'm not sure that he will leave me alone since he took me as his 'dad'," Drago continued as he watched Nighty and Keep some ways away. "So, might as well make him a member if he plans on following me into missions." He scratched his chin in thought for a moment, as if something had came to him. "Though I guess any mission that requires any form of stealth might be off the table for now," he mused. "He would be liable to run up and hug the first guard he saw."

When Nighty and Keep came back, Keep presented them with... Sharksuits? "Oh how cute!" Suzu giggled as she spun around and donned the .GMO in a flash of light. She did some light posing while wearing the wetsuit. "How do I look? Rawr~" she cried, playing up the cute shark-girl angle. Drago took out the suit and began to examine it, turning it around in his hands, while Magi just stuffed the data packet into her pocket without looking at it or Keep. She was still too involved in her research.

As Keep turned and asked her questions to Yumi about the water, Drago turned to Suzu. "It looks like it is time to call Escort down to get her input." Suzu nodded and pulled out what looked like a flare gun, from, somewhere. She aimed it in Escort's direction and pulled the trigger. A loud pop-like bang and hiss followed as the firearm discharged a large canister-like rocket into the air, trailing multicolored smoke behind it. It arced like a rainbow over the battlements and airbursted, like a firework, a dozen or so meters from Escort's position. Suzu raised her other hand as she lowered her gun arm and waved at Escort, beckoning her over. "YOOHOO!"

After the group was gathered, Keep presented her notes collected so far, and asked for more input. Magi finally broke her silence by throwing one of her vid-windows at Keep while she kept working on a few others that had popped up around her. The vid-window attempted to link with the viewscreen that the group was looking at and transfer its data over.

Quote (Water Park Currently Compiled Checklist)

- Wave Pool [Note: Locate in center of Hub.]
- Splash Pad
- Water Playground [Note: This is a combination of actual playground equipment and water sprayers of varying intensity. Should be located near Splash Pad.]
- Swimming Pools [Note: Should be a mix of sizes and depths for small children to adult-sized individuals. No Olympic pool is required.]
- Lazy River [Note: Use the moat around the castle for this.]
- Waterslides [Note: Should be a mix of body and tube slides, with both open and closed flumes, and at various inclines and speeds ("from mild to wild") to offer variety. At least one should be sized for a multi-person, family-sized unit, to ride simultaneously. At least one should be a head-first mat slide where riders can race their friends and provide a competitive experience for young adults.]
- Artificial Surfing Pool

- Locker/Changing Rooms [Note: Should also supply sufficient outdoor shower poles spaced periodically around places of heavy foot traffic for easy cleansing.]
- Concession Stands [Note: Should be castle themed stalls, but with standard amusement park fare. At least one outdoor restaurant required that makes a balanced lunch and dinner.]
- Outdoor Carnival Games/Arcade [Note: Should be located near a concentration of Concession Stands/Restaurant so people have something to do when they are digesting any large meal before going back to swimming.]
- Maintenance/Janitorial Sheds [Note: Should be out of the way of foot traffic, but close enough in case of problem.]
- Speakers [Note: Should be placed out of the way under roof overhangs and on top of shower poles, outside the spray range. Should be used to play medieval-style festive music. Can be used to occasionally communicate events, rides closing or opening, where to enjoy particular rides, etc.]

After a few minutes of scrutinizing the information presented by Magi, Suzu nodded her head. "Seems she has the majority of what makes a water park to me." She took a moment to look around at the others gathered around her. "Anyone else have anything to add? Don't be shy, after all, this is a group effort." She then looked to Escort in particular. "I know Nighty probably has a ton of ideas, but what about you? There must be something you might want that hasn't been either listed or needed to be added to an existing thing."

Nighty quickly undressed so that he could equip his sharksuit. He tacklehugged Suzume, giggling like a child. "This is so awesome!" He squealed, looking over at their new full body swimsuits. "Hm...It could be even more awesome though." He mumbled after a moment, finally taking in how the outfit actually looked. "Keep Keep! I got it!" He shouted, running back to the owner and showing her his hands. "We need webbing!" He said. "Webbed hands and feet!" He added soon after.

Yumi in the meantime shyly approached keep. The Sp dropped her disguise and returned to her usual dragonic look. "W-well it feels heavier. More...sloshy, you know." She tried to explain. "It might just be m-"

"Water later! Webbing now!" Nighty interrupted. "After we get the Sharksuits done, we'll try out each and every one of these attractions. " The navi said, looking for Suzume so that he could grab her hand with his. "I won't take no as an aswer!"

Yumi hummed, curling her tail around herself and sitting down beside Keep, ears splayed backwards. She didn't seem too phased by Nighty's high octane everything. If anything, she was part Nighty too, so in a way she could comprehend his excitement more than anyone else there.
Guillotine returned an unamused frown, perhaps suggesting, but not saying, that she thought DragonierMan would be better off disowning Nightshade. "Hmph. Well, at the verg least, you may want to consider keeping him on a leash. Literal, if it comes to that," she complained again, rolling one hand. DragonierMan would probably understand that keeping a kid on a leash would have an opposite effect on their public image tha nurturing a free child.

Keep smiled along with Suzume and clapped her hands. "Ah, yes. Very cute. I'm sure visitors would love it," she acknowledged. By the looks of the few soldiers who were now watching with dreamy expressions, she was probably right. It wasn't a proper swimsuit, of course, but these guys would take whatever stimulation they could get.

Keep turned to Nightshade and tapped a finger upon her lip. "Webbed hands and feet? I suppose I didn't think about it... like fins or flippers?" she asked.

"Nothing that's going to make your own employees trip over themselves. Keep it to webbed gloves and toes," Guillotine stepped in, cutting that problem off at its root. She clearly hated the mission, but she was still focused enough to know that they couldn't afford anything coming back and biting them fiscally, given that they weren't making any money from this as an organization.

"Quite," Keep agreed, then began to modify the GMOs to include that addition using her viewscreen. She turned her eyes to Yumi, then raised her brow in confusion. "Viscous... hm... I suppose that could be the chlorine. Its configured to emulate pool water. Do you think it would be better styled after a real stream, or perhaps the sea? This would be difficult to accomplish outside the net, but here, it's a simple feature," she questioned. Of course, even if Yumi wanted one of those feels, one might question whether the whole park would; DragonierMan or Nightshade could step in if necessary.

After applying the webbing to the costumes (which, while adding aesthetics, would make it harder to hold things in practice), she began reviewing Magistrate's list. "Ah, luckily, I have a lot of the food and games stalls already. Locker rooms and maintenence equipment I should be able to accommodate in the easier to reach areas of the castle. Er, as for all the rides... unfortunately, my space is somewhat limited. I could move some of the food stalls indoors to make room for more types of pools. Which would you consider to be the essentials?" she asked. "Slides are easy enough, since we can use the staircases and ramparts for elevation, its just the pools they deposit into that are going to be tricky, seeing as I have limited ground space and... zoning-wise... I'm not permitted to build outside the walls any further than the moat."

Escort, upon seeing DragonierMan's signal, leaped down to join the group, landing with a tremendous thud and amazingly, no apparent damage to her legs. She removed her head-covering, revealing her slick black hair, a bit slicker than usual due to the sweating. She clearly hadn't been swimming yet, since her hair was still styled. "Ah, DragonierMan, Sir... it is good to see you and your companions again. I believe this is the first time I've met the two of you, however," she continued turning to greet Nightshade and Yumi. "My name is Escort. Pleased to make your acquaintance," she finished with a bow.

"We were compiling ideas to shape up this water park before the guests arrive. Do you have any ideas?" Guillotine questioned, more impatiently than the others had asked.

"Hm? Oh... are there uniforms yet?" Escort asked, then noticed a few of them were now wearing the matching shark suits. "Oh, I see... I was just thinking that girls in swimsuits are sure to attract customers. These are..." she murmured, smiling somewhat awkwardly as she tried to think of the right words. "Certainly unique."

"Indeed, I'd say so," Guillotine sighed. "Anything else?"

"Well, as you saw, my service was requested in tossing soldiers into the moat. One of them asked and the others just seemed to form a line," she added stretching out the collar of her monk outfit to breathe and revealing the crazy musculature of her neck and collar as she did so. "Obviously I can't be there all the time, but how about some sort of... catapult... that sends guests into the moat?"

"Sounds stupidly dangerous," Guillotine complained. "I didn't say anything because their our own soldiers, but chucking visitors off the top of a wall like that is extremely reckless. Someone would definitely get hurt if you keep it up."

"... Pardon me, ma'am, but if I may say: it's a large moat and my aim is very steady. There is little danger," Escort offered. It seemed suddenly clear that Escort and Guillotine perhaps had a bit of unspoken animosity toward one another, which was part of the reason they had split up so early on. "What do you think, DragonierMan? Nightshade? Is there a safer way to do it?"

"Or should we just not do it, since we have a million other ride ideas?" Guillotine asked, giving a sharp glare that demanded agreement.

Keep watched with interest, though without butting in. She was currently occupied with using the viewscreen to quietly move as many of the food stalls and games as she could inside the gatehouse and the keep, to make room for various pools. "Ah, Yumi. Nightshade recommended that you should be out mascot earlier. Would you give me a good pose so I can capture it for our merchandise?" she requested. If Yumi wanted more instructions as to what type of pose, she'd be left wanting. Keep stood as still and silent as her namesake, probably having no idea what a park mascot ought to look like.

Her sense of expediency seemed to suggest that they were fairly short on time before the special guests arrived. Sensing this, Guillotine knit her brow, then spoke up. "I'll begin to direct out troops to man the stalls and rides. Right now, they're simply goofing off," she suggested, then turned on her heels with a flourish if her cape and tingle of her axe blades, like a dangerous wind chime.


Costumes = sharksuits (with webbed toes and fingers)

Food = outdoor restaurant, indoor concessions

Indoor arcade (could be expensive, can I get by with just carnival games?)

Mascot = Yumi (need a good picture to put on ads and merchandise)

Attractions = Moat river, pools, slides, wave pool, surf pool, splash pad, water playground, shower stands (will need to cut a few, not enough space)

Water needs change, possibly stream or sea water simulation?

Speakers with medieval style music and announcements

Locker room and maintenence equipment area... locker room can go in the gatehouse, maintenence equipment in the keep
"We'll see what we can do," DragonierMan said to Guillotine's request to put Nightshade on watch. Though given the bouncy nature of the child navi, that was going to be tough. As the discussion turned towards the sharksuits, Suzume looked at her hands and feet. "I don't think webbed hands or feet would be a good idea for the ride attendants. They will need full articulation for their hands, and not to stumble when walking or running, otherwise there could be accidents," she warned Keep. "Best to use wading shoes, if not full on water-proof boots," she added. "Though if you have a wandering mascot, then they won't need to worry about anything more than hugging people, so webbed hands or fins would be fine."

Then the conversation turned towards the water used in the park. "I would use Onsen
  • Aqua Elementals gain 3 HP/action partially or fully submerged, Non-Aqua Elementals only when partially submerged.
  • If any Sea Terrain exists in an adjacent panel, Onsen panels will change to Sea Terrain, except in Yoka (Sea will convert to Onsen).
  • Terrain changes between Sea and Onsen do not inflict damage upon submerged entities, nor do they eject submerged entities to the surface.
  • Elec attacks: +100% Source Damage.
  • PanelShot: Imbue Aqua + Blast1 Blind.
instead of Sea
  • Fire Elementals lose 10 HP/action standing, 20 HP/action submerged. Other Non-Aqua Elementals lose 5 HP/action submerged. Nullified for Aqua Elementals.
  • Ice attacks: 50% Freeze1 chance, Changes terrain hit to Ice.
  • Terrain changes between Sea and Onsen do not inflict damage upon submerged entities, nor do they eject submerged entities to the surface.
  • Elec attacks: +100% Source Damage.
  • PanelShot: Imbue Aqua.
if you decide to use something else,"
Drago interjected. "People would appreciate the warmer waters and it wouldn't cause damage to non-Aqua guests," he added. "Otherwise keep the simulated pool water. This is a water park after all. Making it like the ocean might turn some people off."

Keep then began moving stalls around. "Your current selection of food and games are sufficient," Magistrate confirmed as she closed her vid-windows. "If you lack space I would suggest concentrating your assets. Perhaps one large pool in the center of the castle that all slides funnel into. As such, I would suggest to keep the pool relatively shallow, and only provide slides that would not require a deep end at the drop off point."

"For example, concentrating on body boarding and raft slides would be better suited for the shallow drop offs," Magi advised. "And if there is sufficient room in the center of the lake pool, beyond what is needed for people to safely land after a slide, I would place the 'Water Playground' equipment there. It would make for a great central congregation landmark for families who wanted to keep an eye on their children if they get split up. Perhaps arcing bridges may be used to move safely from the shore to the center, allowing for the outer pool to be deeper while the inner pool with the playground equipment is shallower."

"I would also continue with the idea of using the moat for a 'Lazy River'-type ride," she added in closing.

Escort then showed up to give her input. "I think they look more professional than wearing bikinis or trunks," Suzume replied to Escort's complaint about the sharksuit. Sometimes practicality was more important than eye-candy. Though for some reason, many members of the Neo-Shogunate faction had a tendency to put aesthetics over function. "Although, I guess it wouldn't be hard to have shark-themed bathing suits at a gift shop or rental store," Suzume mused as she looked around from where she was standing. "That is, assuming Keep has such a shop within the park."

"I would advise against catapulting guests," Drago cautioned. "I have no doubt your aim is impeccable Escort, but we cannot have you shirking your duty to perform this task here daily. You will be needed elsewhere eventually." Drago folded his arms across his chest and frowned. "I would also be against trying to make a machine that will do the same job and potentially misfire or break down, causing injury or worse. As such I am vetoing the idea for the good of the mission."

As Guillotine went off to command the troops to their places, Keep got out a camera to use Yumi as a model. "Time to strut your stuff Yumi," Suzume encouraged. "Show them a bit of your confident swagger!" Drago turned to Escort, "Do you have any pointers on modeling for Yumi? I've heard some rumors that you might have done something similar in the past."

"You guys don't get it. This webbing is to swim better!" Nighty chimed, showing his webbed suit again. He was real proud of wearing it. The suit's material was extremely soft yet stretchy. "Isn't a swiftsuit supposed to be made for swimming? Maybe the staff could wear uhm...a different kind of suit. Like, a half suit. Mauybe with Yumi's colors. You know. Dark blue and red makes em very uh...recognizable. But these...I mean just look at them! Sure they're skin tight but it almost seems like I've turned into an acquatic creature."

"Well it sure looks that way. The webbing will sure help you swim." Yumi mumbled to herself mostly, before looking up to Escort and nuzzling into her thigh as a greeting. In the meantime, Nightshade skipped the introductions and offered Escort a Sharsuit.

"Come on, try it! He urged. It feels amazing on you, trust me on that one. Man, I wish big sis Aya was here...I think she'd like it too..."

He then turned over to Keep after Magistrate had finished her feedback chain. "Yeah, what she said. She's a super duper egghead. I swear on my soul she is the best in finding the most optimized way of doing stuff!"

Yumi did seem unsure about poses and cute faces, as such she looked up to Escort, expecting some kind of advice on how to mascot. In the meantime Nighty had set his eyes on the pool and was trying to convince Suzume in taking a bath with him in their new webbed sharksuits.
"Ah, right, I'd thought that a bit myself. That would make it rather hard to handle things. It would be rather difficult to perform certain tasks with webbed fingers," Keep admitted, dialing back the webbed hands and feet on her GMOs. "We can't go too overboard and have our employees dropping things. Sorry, Nightshade, but I think she has a point; swimming speed is much less important here than dexterity."

As Guillotine wandered off, she made a deep sigh, as though saying that should have been obvious in the first place.

Escort accepted Yumi's affection with a pleased smile, rubbing the young girl's head softly with one of her gloved hands. The same hands that were capable of crushing boulders when fully applied were also decently suited for headpats. "A sharksuit? I suppose I could..." she agreed, accepting one of the GMOs as well. When it replaced her outfit, her breasts, now relatively free from compression, exploded out like twin torpedoes. Between that and the absurd tone of her musculature, she had the type of body that would be nearly impossible to achieve outside the net. Not thinking about that, she crossed her arms beneath her chest and nodded. "I suppose I do feel like swimming." The soldiers all ended up watching Escort rather than doing anything productive, which might make them pretty lackluster employees for a waterpark, in hindsight.

She made a sympathetic smile as Yumi asked her for some sort of advice on how to make a cute pose, fitting of the waterpark's mascot. "E-Eh? You want advice on... being cute? From me?" she asked, making a face that clearly conveyed that this was unfamiliar territory for her. She closed her eyes for a moment, then seemed to come up with something. She clasped both hands together, with her palm pads against her head, sticking the two out like a shark fin, and made a face that looked something like an angry pout. It was, without question, a terrible pose for anything, let alone to be printed on advertisements.

Keep watched blankly for a moment. "Is that... A shark?" Escort slowly lowered her hands and went into a real pout, seeing that her offer wasn't what Keep was looking for. "Oh, it's... well... hm. I think it's not quite what we're looking for, Escort. Would you like to try again?"

She crossed her eyes for a moment and pressed one fist to her lips pensively. With an uncertain expression, she got onto her side, curled up, cradling her knees, and looked up towards, the others, keeping her chin tucked. "How about this?" she asked. It would probably be a cuter pose without her amazon body shape. Regardless, the soldiers were appreciating it.

"That's a little better... What do you think, Yumi? Did that give you any ideas?" Keep asked. In the mean time, she turned back to DragonierMan and company, eager to pull in more of their advice so that she could get the park into ship shape. "Onsen, hm? I suppose I do enjoy a good bath myself... it's soothing, after spending all day armored," she sighed, looking like she wouldn't mind a dip right now. "I suppose we can give it a shot. It'll certainly be unique to have an onsen waterpark, anyway. Only on the net, ha ha." She continued working with her viewscreen. " Putting the giftshops all at the front gatehouse is a fine idea. That way we can be sure they'll be seen."

She hurried to keep up taking notes with Magistrate's many suggestions, "That sounds quite nice. Thank you, Magistrate," she responded, then busied herself with shifting around the stands to make room for the pool. "Let's all clear out the center, so that we won't end up soaked once I make the changes. "As for the catapult... I'm with DragonierMan on this one. Of course, your men are free to have others throw them into the pool all they want but... actually, maybe not. I should probably put up some safety rules, including no wall-diving," she thought out loud, as another diver hit the water.

Escort didn't seem overly concerned about the veto of her catapult idea, but did look concerned about DragonierMan's knowledge of past modeling experience, which might, more appropriately, be referred to as acting experience. Either way, she didn't seem pleased thinking back to it. "That was... quite different. Not really applicable here... it was not exactly 'cute'," she insisted, climbing back up to her full height. "Frankly, I think you could take a photo of her from any angle and it would probably be serviceable for the task."

As the pool began to hollow out in the center of the castle and various slides and bridges formed around it, Keep must on a concerned face. "I think... Mother is outside," she informed everyone gathered. "Nightshade, Yumi, Suzume, Escort- please finish the photoshoot for Yumi so that we can use the promotional materials. I'll finish the rest of the construction here. DragonierMan, if you could please go to greet our visitors, I would appreciate it," she requested.

If DragonierMan complied, he and whichever SPs he took with him would find that outside, a woman who could only be Keep's mother, Castille, had beamed down. She was dressed very similarly to Keep, but with a much taller figure and armor that dwarfed even her daughter's, complete with a blue banner running from shoulder to shoulder and forming a cape upon the back. In addition to the armor, she carried a hammer with a head fashioned to look like a castle's keep, with a length nearly as tall as she was. Her face was light gray, somewhat matching her armor, and was the only exposed part of her body, with dark blue lipstick the same color as her banners. It was quite a stretch to imagine her actually enjoying a waterpark.

With her was another woman that hadn't been distinctly planned for, but who would look familiar to DragonierMan. This was not only because she was wearing armor designed like a building, similar to the other ladies he'd met, but also, her slightly curved nose, tired gray eyes, and black hair falling in a straight curtain had all been seen before, during a siege on the Neo-Shogun Empire's public camp. She hadn't brought her titular watchtower this time, but the ROT subordinate had the nerve to approach undisguised, wearing her long gray tube dress that didn't particularly flatter her unremarkable figure. If she spotted DragonierMan, after their last encounter, or really, once he spotted her, one might wonder what the reaction would be.

Castille was approaching the drawbridge with her chin up and her hammer raised like a standard, wearing a regal smile. The other, Watchtower, was slinking behind with a meek frown, wringing her hands together. neither one of them would fit in at all at a water park.
Suzume pulled Nightshade back a little from his insistence to go swimming. "We can swim later, Nighty, but right now we are on the job. I promise that once everything is running smoothly we'll have a lot of fun," she said with a sweet smile. She then turned to Yumi and Escort. "No, no, no, this will not do. Honestly, it's like we don't even see cuteness and sexiness all the time in the Neo-Shoguns," Suzume remarked sarcastically. She snapped her fingers until she got Yumi's attention. "Hey, hey, pay attention now Yumi. You are going to learn from the master." Suzume then turned to her side and looked at Yumi in profile. She lifted her left leg, balancing on her right, and raised both her arms up. She cocked both of her hands into claw-like poses and raised her left arm above her right, just like she did with her legs. "Like this. Now you try it."

Assuming Yumi followed her advice and did the first pose, and they got the photograph, Suzume would move on to the second. "Now do this," she said as she planted both feet on the ground, shoulder width apart, and then shifted her body as if she was about to run, but didn't. Then she twisted her head as far as she could to look back where she was moving away from, and lifted her arms up similarly to what she did in the previous pose. One arm over the other in profile, as if giving 'jazz-hands' at the end of a performance. "Just like this," she said before exhaling a steamy smoke trail out of her mouth to complete the look.

"Good, okay last one," Suzume encouraged. "This is going to require a Clone, so hold on one moment," she added, looking around for something that looked like a shield. If necessary she would take out a variety of sharp weaponry and try to hack a piece of wood off of one of the stands, or a sign, or something and fashion it into a shield, before shoving it towards Yumi's claws. "Great now make your Clone! Okay... so one of you on each side of the shield. Good. Now hold it together. Excellent. And now look at each other while fluffing out your wings and stuff. Perfect," Suzume said as she tried to direct the two Yumis.

"And that's a wrap," Suzume cheered as the last picture was taken. She turned to Keep and Escort after her photo session was concluded. "And that, ladies, is how you go 'cute'. I hope you are taking notes," she said, pointedly at Escort in particular. "I assume those pictures will do for you?" Suzume asked Keep, but with a confidence that made it seem that it was not a question, but a matter of fact. Suzume seemed confident that her bout of artistic expression with Yumi was without flaw in her eyes.

While this was going on inside the castle, DragonierMan was meeting with Castille and... Watchtower? A boom sounded in the nearby forest as Aya finally appeared, covered in scratches, tarnished in dust, and with leaves and twigs hanging from her hair, having taken off her helmet. She crashed down at the bank of the moat, just outside the drawbridge, and threw a dagger at Watchtower. However, the dagger was angled a little more downwards than she probably intended and it would probably either embed itself into the wood by her feet or go skipping into the moat. "ROT scum, you dare show your face again in NS territory?! I'm going to enjoy ripping the data from your core," she said drawing her sword and rushing at Watchtower in a blood-eyed frenzy, crossing the distance in an instant with her Movement signature.

Drago acted just as quickly on instinct, still not having a lot of time to process the spiraling events, and activated his own Teleport signature, appearing in Aya's path just in time to block her attack with his own blade. The kinetic force of the clash pushed Drago back, the two of them slidding a bit towards Watchtower and Castille, before Drago's greater strength won out and the two slid to a stop mere inches from Watchtower. Aya looked confused at the place where the swords were locked together, then up at Drago's face, trying to understand why he was there and stopping her. "Wha? What? What are you doing here?" she stuttered out. "Why are you stopping me? She has to die!" she exclaimed as she pushed harder into Drago's sword-lock.

Drago raised a gauntleted hand and smacked Aya across the face, sending her careening into the bridge with a loud, sickening thud. She ended up dropping her sword with a clatter as she bounced off the wood. "Calm yourself!" Drago bellowed at Aya, going a little bit too rough in his effort to snap Aya out of her bloodlust. "We're on a non-combat mission here," he reiterated to the probably concussed dragonier. He took a moment to turn and look at the cowed Watchtower. "And she doesn't seem like much of a threat anymore," he added with a scoff and a snort of steam. He turned back to Aya, "Go sit somewhere and cool down until this mission is over," he commanded Aya. "You can delete her next time she appears on the battlefield."

He then turned back to Castille and Watchtower as Aya limped away after reclaiming her sword, and sheathed his own sword. He then tried to put on a smile and put the recent ugliness behind him. "Sorry about that. You'll have to understand that she did attack one of our bases before as a member of the ROT faction," he explained to Castille, pointing to Watchtower as he did. "And that some people here would want her head on a pike for what she did, my own subordinates included," he added. He then looked pointedly at Watchtower. "However, even if I want to skewer you to the wall with a spear, I am a professional and will not allow harm to befall you while you are enjoying yourself here," he concluded. "Now, if you'll follow me. I'll show you to Keep and we can continue the revelry," he added as he beckoned them inside the castle, as if a deadly battle followed by heavily implied threats of dismemberment didn't just happened in the past few minutes.

No, they should just ignore that, and have fun as planned.

In the meantime Yumi perfectly mimicked Suzume's poses (albeit not really looking rather genuine in it) even though she was surely able to fluff up her fur she still had that kind of uncertainty that made it kinda difficult to look as cute as she really was.

"I...I'm sorry Big Sis it's just...this is really hard." She mourned at Suzume, ears flat and tail low.

In the meantime Nightshade was everything but uncertain about things as a shark fin could be seen navigating towards Escort now that Suzume refused to cuddle.

Without a care in the world Nightshade simply glued his face into Escort's belly, just skimming her chest as he hugged himself to her waist. If Suzume didn't want to give him hugs the he'd get hugs from the new people around.

"Have you tried being yourself?" He told his partner on his way towards the toned NS representative?

Yumi hummed to herself, then out of nothing, she scurried up the first available high place or slide. "Alright...uhm...Miss Keep? Take a picture in 3, 2, 1!"

The fluffy water wyvern jumped off, twirled around. She landed safely on the ground with grace and not even the slightest of sounds. She looked up to the group of people dressed in fullbody swimsuit and not.

"S-so? How did that go?"
At first, Escort stood back, crossed her arms, and listened to Suzume. She nodded along as though she understood the instructions and brought out her notepad, either for the purpose of taking notes or to scrawl out a journal, as she sometimes did. However, on the second, and especially by the third, she was raising an eyebrow as though she were a bit skeptical. She looked as though she wanted to question Suzume directly, but she didn't want to seem like she was raising a stink either. "The first one was a cat, was it not? Were the others... also cats?" she asked, tapping her pen up and down upon her paper like she was waiting to see if she needed to scratch out one of her notes. "Oh-" she muttered, noticing Nightshade; the height difference was so great that her breasts were resting atop his head like a shelf. She looked to both sides for a moment, then patted the cat / shark / boy on the back with practiced gentleness.

At any rate, Yumi had followed along with the poses, Keep had taken her pictures, and presumably from their employer's lack of complaints, she figured they would work. Yumi wanted to try one more, though; Keep complied as Yumi hit one, taking her snapshot. She gave a warm smile. "Yes, I believe Nightshade's advice was on point. If the patrons see you enjoying yourself, I'm sure they will enjoy themselves too," she praised Yumi. "Now please, enjoy yourselves while I put the finishing touches on our merchandise. Hopefully it will be done before my mother pokes in there... I am certain she will take a keen interest in that aspect," Keep sighed, seeming as though she wasn't relishing the idea of her castle and its wares being judged from a commercial standpoint.


Watchtower hadn't been planning to encounter the Neo-Shogun Empire any further than they'd been planning to encounter her. When a dagger embedded itself onto the bridge next to her, she jumped backward and clenched her teeth, beginning to glow. A stone wall began to rise briefly, before the other lady clapped the end of her hammer against the wood twice, signalling for her to stop. "If you bring your tower out here, young one, you are going to collapse your sister's lovely bridge. Behave, Watch," she insisted. On that note, the bridge seemed to be creaking plenty just from the weight of her armor, hammer, and tremendous body.

DragonierMan intervened to stop his SP from cutting down the approaching ROT member and gave her a harsh reprimand, sending her across the bridge. Watchtower didn't look any more pleased at this; the violence had set her more on edge, if anything, and she was clearly having a very hard time avoiding summoning that same tower she'd started to bring up earlier. She opened her mouth to speak, but whatever she was going to say caught in her throat. She looked a little as though she just wanted to leave or otherwise disappear.

Before anything could come out, Castille spoke up again. "I hadn't expected such a scene... Normally, I'd say that reflects very poorly upon the kind of people my dear daughter has chosen to employee, however, I believe I understand your motivations. From what I've heard, the black sheep of my family has made quite a nuisance of herself, using her particular gift. I apologize on her behalf," the mother continued with a brief bow. "I do hope your subordinate isn't hurt too badly. Her actions were unseemly, but also, entirely justified."

"Mother-" Watchtower began.

Castille turned her head slightly, as much as her armor would allow, and gave an unsettling smile. She began to wind her hammer up, hoisting it with just one hand near the tip of the handle, where it ought to have been particularly difficult to lift, making quite a spectacle. "If we really want to make it up to Aya, I think this is only fair," she chuckled. "Don't bring your tower up, Watch... not unless you want to ruin my dress with the moat water. That would be quite shameful," she suggested, as if she really expected her daughter not to flinch while being menaced by the giant warhammer.

Watchtower instead turned, running to get out of the hammer's reach. If DragonierMan was going to intervene, the range would make it a little difficult to do so, and the speed, even with access to his teleport; in the blink of an eye, the hammer was swung. It stopped just short of Watchtower's head, approaching from the other side. The long-nosed lady collapsed onto her knees and scurried further away across the ground.

Castille turned back around, then returned her hammer to her shoulder. "Oh dear... my daughter has wet herself. You'll have to excuse her, at least for a little while," she sighed. "Now, let's venture on inside. I do hope my other daughter is making use of her talents to better effect." The bridge continued to groan with every step she took; Watchtower just watched in the distance, staying on her hands and knees, until DragonierMan and Castille had disappeared inside.

The older woman walked alongside DragonierMan, looking this way and that with a smile that showed she was pleased with the renovations, even if Keep had drastically altered the castle's original purposes. She turned her smile back to DragonierMan. "That Watchtower... she was always a bit of a craven. My gift to her was the watchtower; I thought she would appreciate the defense it afforded. That was coddling of me and bad for her... she squandered it and, in her paranoia, fell in with those awful templars. The errors of youth... well, hers were particularly erroneous. I don't expect you can forgive her for what she's done, but perhaps you can trust me to punish her as a good mother should this time?" she asked, tapping her hammer up and down upon her shoulder meaningfully. "That girl... I wonder if there is any salvaging her now. She looks down upon everyone. She stays shut up. She won't socialize. She won't speak to me. She is... a disappointment." The fact that Castille could remain smiling even while speaking that way about her daughter might do something to explain Watchtower's troubled upbringing.

"As for Keep," she continued, not losing that sense of judgment in her tone. "Well, I won't say she is wholly misguided. She seeks my approval; that puts her a rung above Watchtower, at least. My gift to her was this keep and castle... I intended that she develop the land and either find someone worthy to serve and sustain herself that way, or else, find some other use for the property. She is not a lost cause... she knows obedience, perseverance. She is a bit silly and a bit dull, however. The answer she's decided upon is truly... amusing," she chuckled, pausing to run her fingers along a poster, describing rules such as "DON'T RUN AT POOLSIDE."

She turned her unsettling judgment upon DragonierMan, a wide smile fixed upon her face; she cupped her jaw with one hand. "You'd have made a fine owner of this castle, I think. If you bested my daughter's watchtower, indeed... you may even have made a fine son... or husband," she offered. The smile lingered on her face for a moment, before splitting into a teasing grin. "For one of my daughters, that is. Or my son, Donjon; you are to his preference as well," she shrugged. At last, the uncomfortable conversation drew to its close; the two were approaching the group they'd left a moment ago.

First impressions were important; DragonierMan would want to make sure he responded to Castille in the right way. If he wanted to stay the course, he'd have to act the model employee and he would need Nightshade, Yumi, and Suzume to follow suit.


As Aya skulked away, Guillotine found her. Two soldiers were following her, but she dismissed them, indicating for them to go another direction. "That was Watchtower out there, wasn't it? A pebblewit, for certain; as bright as a cobblestone. As a member of the ROT, she barely attended our meetings and had little usefulness on assignments. We knew she had strong defensive capabilities, but what use was that to an organization like ours? When she led her assault in that massive tower, I was a bit frightened, to be certain, because I knew the damned thing was invincible... but thanks to the plan, we didn't even have to battle against it. As you met just now, you must have seen the fear in her eyes, first when she saw him, then when she saw you. I watched from the ramparts. Truly, she is broken," Guillotine mused, crossing her arms with a jingle of her axe-blades. "She knows that stupid tower isn't enough to make her 'strong.'"

She raised one narrow eyebrow and turned her chin up, continuing to watch Aya. "I understand your sentiment... but I also sympathize with her, somewhat. If I'd been just a moment slower abandoning the ROT and joining the empire- and my only motivation was revenge, at the time, not an alignment of ideals- then I'd have been in her same place now," she suggested. "And I'd deserve whatever fate came to me. I feel like if it were Rack or Domm out there, I'd want them murdered on the spot. They are threats as well as insufferable, lewd mongrels. I'd have come down to join you in doing the deed. Watchtower, however, isn't worth the trouble; furthermore, she could be a boon to us, if she would lend us that tower of hers. Something to think about..." Guillotine offered. "But the sight of her now also offends me somewhat. She is dreadfully craven," the prideful lady scoffed, looking newly disgusted.

Sensing that Aya was still sullen, Guillotine crossed her arms behind her back and stared toward the digital clouds. "Aya, in the ROT, there is a class below all others we called 'The Worst Ones.' These ones were given the worst tasks, ridiculed at every turn, all to motivate them to become stronger... because all the ROT valued was strength. When I left, Watchtower was extremely close to falling into that tier. However, the ROT were... crazed in their motivation through punishment. I myself was degraded in ways I don't care to speak of. If such debauchery was levied upon me, who, not to brag, was herself one of the highest performing officers, then what must have been done to a scatterbrain like Watchtower? I do not know if she deserves sympathy, but she certainly must warrant pity."

"I'll leave you to think. If you feel like acting out your original intentions, I believe your master will be quite tied up for the foreseeable future and Watchtower is quite vulnerable. If you'd like to extend the olive branch to that sad sack, that is also an option. Or if you'd like to slide down a waterslide, there are plenty of those here as well," she sniffed, turning with a clap of her heels and heading back towards the stairs down.
Suzume looked at Escort with an indignant look as she asked her question, "Yeah, so?" She then furrowed her brow as she took a moment to think. "Well no... I mean, not really," she corrected. "I mean, I guess? But she acts like a cat normally so it's fine. Also cats are cute and you guys wanted cute," Suzume continued in a shaky effort to defend her choices. "I'm just playing to her strengths," she said with her hands on her hip and her chest puffed out in pride.

"Anyways, let's go show them how to have fun," Suzume declared as she tried to reach out and grab Nightshade's hands and lead him off to the nearest water slides. "C'mon Escort and Yumi, first one to the slide gets to ride it first!" she called back to them while increasing her speed to a light jog. The fins on her outfit wobbled as she sped up. She was about to have a blast on the slides, or at least make it seem like she was having the time of her life, in order to show any potential patrons how much fun they should be having here. It would also be a good test of her new swimsuit.

"Aya will recover quickly, we dragoniers are very strong," DragonierMan answered Castille's mock concern towards his subordinate. He then watched impassively as Castille put Watchtower in her place, with maybe the tiniest hint of a smirk, before continuing to usher them inside. It was up to a commander to issue the reprimand on their own subordinates after all, not allow someone else to do it.

As they continued on Castille's inspection tour, Drago listened as she talked about Watchtower and Keep. "Perhaps as both punishment and recompense, you'll have Watchtower join the Neo-Shogunate. She will be quite safe working in the base camps far from the front lines and she will have time to atone for her attempted destruction by helping to build something of value," Drago suggested. "As a part of the deal with Keep, she will be letting us use this castle as a base of operations in this sector. Watchtower could help her sister out here as well, under watchful eyes, and a strong guiding hand."

"This arrangement will also help with that socialization problem of hers. If it's one thing a lot of the NS soldiery like to do, it's to socialize. If you don't keep an eye on them they probably wouldn't even work, just lounge around and fraternize," Drago added. "Once the shock of it all wears off, she'll probably be gabbing along with the rest of them." He smiled, finishing up the pitch to Castille: "With these two things done, she'll become a productive member of society again."

He was a little taken aback by Castille's proposal of marriage to her daughters and/or son. "I am flattered, really. But I am not currently looking for a spouse," he replied, shuddering a little at the remembrance of MarriageMan.

Aya had sheathed her sword as Guillotine found her. Her eyes were downcast as she limped slowly along. She stopped as Guillotine started addressing her, but didn't look up at her as she talked. It was hard to tell if Aya was listening besides the slightest twitch of her ear on the side facing Guillotine. If Guillotine was watching closely, Aya's eyes were closed. The eyeballs were moving under the eyelids, as if she was watching or reading something while Guillotine tried to lend life experience to the supposedly emotionally wounded woman. Aya took it all in silence, hardly moving besides the lightest sway or breathing chest compression, while Guillotine talked to her.

Once Guillotine finished delivering her heartfelt speech and turned to leave, Aya's silence was broken by a sudden chuckling. "Hahahahahaha!" The chuckle quickly turned into a heartfelt belly laugh as her eyes snapped open and she clenched her side and stomach with one hand, and brought down her other hand to attempt to smack Guillotine on the shoulder in misplaced camaraderie. "HAHAHAHAHAHA!" Aya's belly laugh turned almost manic and her breathing became labored as something of gut-wrenching hilarity seemed to have gripped her in its madness.

It took a few moments for Aya to calm down enough to wheeze through something more than laughter. "Did you see her face?!" she asked between the bouts of laughter. "Did you see the fallout?! Hahaha she is sooo pathetic now! Hahaha!" she exclaimed as she slapped her knee. "Hooo!" she exhaled out as she attempted to pat Guillotine on the shoulder again. "You're right, she isn't worth deleting anymore. Hahaha!"

She continued to chortle a little more, clearly not as injured physically as she had appeared minutes earlier. Though her current mental state was another question. She then looked up at Guillotine's face, tears of laughter still streaming down her face, "Oh! Oh no. I'm sorry. Hahaha! You were trying to console me. Hooo!" Aya said, trying to get control of herself so as not to continue to offend Guillotine's heartfelt attempt of reconciliation.

After a few more moments Aya seemed to have settle down. She stood up fully and dusted herself off to look presentable again, turning to face Guillotine, though Guillotine was probably storming away in embarrassment. "Wait! Wait! Tell me more about the ROT hierarchy. I was taking notes," she called out as she chased Guillotine. Aya had clearly been ignoring Guillotine's attempts at consoling her with heartfelt emotional support, in lieu of mining Guillotine's more practical tactical knowledge. Though that probably made Guillotine's emotional outreach even worse for Guillotine, having let herself be vulnerable towards someone who didn't seem to reciprocate. "How many are left in 'The Worst Ones'? Do you think we recruit them to our side?"

Back in the park, DragonierMan and Castille would eventually arrive where Keep and Magistrate were, assuming that all of the rest went off to play (otherwise whomever was left would probably be there too). "I see that the guest of honor has arrived," Magistrate remarked as she closed her vid-windows. She did a little courtesy in her armor. "Greetings Miss Castille, my name is Magistrate," she began in a respectful, professional voice. "We would like to extend to you our warmest welcome," she said without much warmth in her voice. "I hope you enjoy your stay here with us today. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask," she concluded.

"Where would you like to start the tour first?" Magi asked.

Nightshade was enjoying his pats Escort was givig him when he felt a familiar touch grab his hand. He looked up curiously as his big sis gently pulled him away from the busty NS operative and gently walked him towards the slide. From the way the little navi's sharksuit's tail started to wag one could tell the small navi was back being massively excited about something.

Yumi followed the two with her eyes from her spot, before gracesfully lining up behind them on the way to the slides as she was called. She didn't mind playing in the water for a while. With her paws silently walking her in a slow motion she observed the split splat waddling of the other two. They clearly weren't used to webbed feet.

After a few fun rides on a couple different slides, it seemed that Nighty had a devious idea. When they approached the simple slide leading to the main pool area, the navi would whisper something to his SP, Yumi seemingly agreeing to something.

The end result would have Yumi and Nighty merging their code together again, so that the navi could use all of the SP's acquatic feature. As such, Suzume would probably be floating around the main pool with a cuddly dragon-hybrid snuggled to her chest purring happily as they drifted idly in the water.
Castille lowered her eyebrows and continued to smirk; her air of bemusement only seemed to be growing. "Right now, that daughter of mine is merely following me around like a scared puppy. If you'd rather her follow you lot around instead, be my guest and speak to her; I won't command her to do that. Perhaps her mood will improve by sliding down slides and goofing off with footsoldiers," she spoke in a droll tone, tapping her hammer up and down against her shoulder armor. "As for Keep... her plan sounds desperate. It seems that these two of my daughters find their fates inextricably tied to the Empire's now. Here's hoping they can make more of this than they have their ventures so far," the big lady sighed. "Assuming that worthless Watchtower hasn't run home already."

DragonierMan and Castille would rejoin Keep and the others, as they were wrapping up the photoshoot. "So... yes, cat?" Escort reaffirmed again, no longer writing in her notebook as her hands were occupied with patting Nightshade. Suzume and her Neo-Shogun compatriot did not appear to be very much on the same page.

"Why don't you all go have fun in the park? I'll stay here and greet my mother," Keep offered. Nightshade and Yumi would lead the way towards fun and frolic. Hopefully, Nightshade and Yumi could act as gel to pull these two together and show them how to have some proper fun.

"Hm hm hm... I will admit, if the many park-goers I see surrounding us weren't all wearing matching yellow tunics, I would have to assume that you had done well in turning this place around and generating business. After all, it doesn't matter to me what you use the castle for, so long as you make something of yourself. However, I have my suspicions that there may be a fair amount of dust swept under the carpets and knickknacks waiting to spill out from the closets," she smiled, glancing pointedly at the central pool, that, so far, was fairly empty, given that it had only recently been created.

"Not to worry, Mother. With the Empire's support, this place can become a fine amusement park for navis. We've made great strides- admittedly, just today- in terms of turning this place around. It's the sort of place anyone would want to bring their navi and that navi's, er, family," Keep answered, speaking in a fast-paced stream of words that showed her nervousness. "Acknowledging that ours is a special circumstance and that not many navis are, er, families. Which is to say, not many navis have mothers and fathers, not like you, mother, who presumably produced all of us children via-"

"I did not," Castille interrupted, smiling wider and pressing her free hand onto her daughter's shoulder. "Such a vivid imagination you have, my daughter. To think, that you have been hiding that talent for so long. Creativity is just what you need to make a thriving business... or a worthy stronghold, if you wish to return to the original plan. Although, do you have a choice? It sounds as though you've handed DragonierMan the keys to the entire castle," she noted, setting her hammer down head-first so that it stood on its own, then crossing her arms.

Keep gulped, perhaps wishing that she'd warned DraognierMan not to be quite so honest about her stakes here and the Empire's reasons for assisting with the castle. "Mutual use, yes. I'm far better at up-keeping a castle than leading an army... or serving an army," she admitted, which caused Castille to swap over to a frown. "What I mean to say is, I don't believe my talents are on the battlefield. Not like yours, mother."

"A lady should have both," Castille scolded her daughter. Smiling, she turned back to DragonierMan; something about him seemed to improve her mood. "What say you, DragonierMan? Do you think my daughter can make money with this waterpark scheme of hers? Is this a worthy use of the castle I gifted her? Or do you think it might be better to just take the whole thing out of her hands and give it to someone who would use it better?" she asked, resting one hand atop her hammer's butt. "Maybe have her crawl to you and beg for a place in it, like Watchtower would."

For her part, Keep managed not to rise to the provocation and blow up or beg, but she still looked nervous.

"My dear, half the point of a castle is to hold it. The moment you knew I was coming with the intention to take it back, you ought to have shut the gates to me and driven me out. It's a castle! That's what it's for!" she laughed into her hand, finding the whole situation hilarious. "Instead, you invite me in and show me a water park, knowing my answer will be to dismiss it and take back my holdings. Oh! But leave us not forget, before that, you allowed in the empire who would very much like to take this castle for themselves. Not just one of them- all of them! Two dragoniers, countless soldiers, as well as the rest of the bunch I briefly spotted earlier. You're so grossly outnumbered that they could lift you bodily and simply toss you out, taking this castle for themselves if they liked! Because you have no soldiers. A castle with no soldiers is worthless. Am I correct in all of this?"

"No, mother, not quite. I only invited the Empire in because I trusted them. They have yet to betray that trust, haven't they? That makes this a mutually beneficial arrangement: they've staffed my castle and I've opened it to them for their ongoing usage," Keep pointed out.

Castille grinned again, then crossed her hands behind her back, making a show of not grabbing her hammer, despite the increasingly threatening tone of the conversation. "What say you, DragonierMan? The idea is in your head now, isn't it? Would it not it be much easier to take down this whole water-park and re-outfit this place as a castle, as it was originally intended?" she offered. "I could even be persuaded to help you and the empire, if you demonstrate you're worthy of that alliance by your deeds and actions." There seemed to be some kind of riddle going on here... and there certainly didn't see to be much of a chance Castille was going to be enjoying any of the fine amusements they'd worked so hard to prepare.

Magistrate appeared next, working to get things back on task. Castille raised her eyebrows, then nodded to Magistrate. "Ah, your servant is especially well-mannered, DragonierMan. Most agreeable. Magistrate, please, lead me wherever you will. Keep, stay with us. We can table my earlier... suggestion. Give DragonierMan some time to think it over," she chuckled, re-shouldering her hammer. "Oh, should I be wearing a swimsuit?" she asked, fluttering her eyelashes teasingly. It was very hard to imagine the giant, armored woman in anything less than armor.


The slides certainly fit the classical definition of fun, although Escort didn't really have a body for sliding; she hung over any boogie-board or raft rather ridiculously, and because of her immense weight, it seemed hard for anything inflatable to support her. By the ominous creaking noises, they were pretty lucky that the water slides didn't actually give way under her. Other than that, she seemed to be enjoying herself, although laughter didn't come naturally to her.

Perhaps the reason she wasn't laughing was that she couldn't stop watching the negotiations in the center of the water park. "Suzume, Nightshade, let's keep on our guard. I have a feeling that woman is dangerous," Escort murmured. As Escort stood from the water, with it pouring from her slick hair; as she stood up to her full height, it might occur to the others that she was nearly as tall as the warhammer-wielding lady that had entered... yet still fell short by a bit. "My apologies... I'm spoiling your fun, aren't I? I'm sorry... I've always had a bit of trouble unwinding," she sighed, squeezing out the moisture from her dark hair while making a sullen expression.


Guillotine watched Aya's reaction with an increasingly disturbed arch of her eyebrows. She clearly hadn't been expecting laughter and certainly not so much of it. "Hmph... Careful... That is the kind of behavior that was all the rage in the Right of Operation Templar," she lectured, brushing Aya's hand off from her robe distastefully. "It is most unpleasant to imagine myself- or you, for that matter- aligning ourselves with that bunch of miscreants ever again. We must conduct ourselves with a certain dignity." Maybe Guillotine just didn't like laughter in general, or as Aya suspected, she simply didn't like her important advice being met with laughter.

The next question did seem to amuse her though, in a way, so she made a huffing noise and clutched her forehead. "The fact that I don't know the answer to your question ought to be reassurance of my commitment to the Empire and severance from the ROT," she responded in a snappy way. "But if I had to estimate, I'd doubt there are very few left in the Worst Ones. The ROT, having lost myself, WatchTower, BrainMan's direct leadership... and having Trebuchet and Domm defeated on separate occasions, assuming Domm was ever really defeated... probably lost significant momentum and bled members. If there were still Worst Ones, they were probably punished less than usual... after all, the ROT would need to look into promoting them to leadership positions. And frankly, if anyone is still left as a Worst One after all of that, they... should not be considered likely to be useful to our army, at least not in a combat capacity," she scoffed. "It does make me wonder who the direct commander of the ROT currently is. With BrainMan fragmented as he was... if nothing else, he ought to be weaker. Then again, I feel as though I overheard a mission report stating that a particularly powerful newcomer, Agony, joined the RoT. Perhaps they're not so bad off after all."

She looked out one eye for a moment, then closed both again and raised her nose into the air. "Not that I have any intention to rejoin them. They burned that bridge forever when they dared to try and trample my pride," she grunted. "At any rate, it is hard to say, regarding the Worst Ones. Some of them may feel more mad and feverish in their zeal than ever, as there is a certain element of desperation associated with the position that probably has only grown with the seeming failure of BrainMan's plan. On the other hand, others, who were not so committed to the idea and were serving only through fear, may be eager to turn leaf and join up with ours, a stronger organization," she posited, turning up one hand contemplatively. "If you should encounter any of them, feel free to try, but know this: crazed fighting is their first instinct and if they have any loyalty to the ROT, they will be eager to attack and prove their strength. They are not in a position where they will be forgiven for desertion, nor for running away."
Suzume looked irritated at Escort. "Yes cats! Do you have a problem with cats? Do you know of anything cuter than cats when dealing with posing female models? I swear to all the digital gods that if you keep going on about this as if it were a foreign concept I will cut you," she said as she brandished one of her daggers threateningly for a moment before it disappeared as quickly. "Anyways," Suzu came back to all smiles and friendship, turning one-hundred and eighty degrees around from her earlier threat, "Let's table this discussion for later and enjoy ourselves while we are here."

After many fun slides and pool shenanigans, Suzu ended up cuddling up with a merged Yumi!Shade in the shallow end of one of the pools, drifting lazily.

DragonierMan and Magistrate watched as Castille traded barbs with Keep. Eventually Castille made an offer on the location and a potential alliance. Drago thought for a moment before answering. "Before you arrived we had a similar conversation," he began. "As I stated then, the Neo-Shogunate is trying to project 'soft power' on the NET. They have been burned before when taking more direct action. Taking territory by force without gathering allies ended up getting them defeated in the past. Now, with that said we have arrived at a mutually beneficial arrangement with Ms. Keep: in exchange for the use of her castle as a stronghold in this sector, which she will retain ownership and command of, she gets the security of a military presence and workers for her projects. As a bonus since she converted this into a water park, the NS gets a boost to morale, and the ability to further project 'soft power' in the area. Yes she will not be fully independent, and able to stand completely on her own, but she is becoming a valuable ally to our cause. That is enough to warrant my protection," he explained, reaching for the hilt of his sword. "With that said, and while I would hope that you would become our ally as well, I'm issuing you a warning: you may attempt to take back this castle from Keep, but we will not give it up so easily."

Then Magi stepped up to diffuse the situation with a curtsy and some honeyed words. "That is entirely up to you," Magi stated in response to Castille's question about swimsuits. "As I said, this is a tour of the facilities. If you would feel more comfortable in a swimsuit, then by all means." With that said, Magi would begin to lead Castille and Keep away to the nearest attraction/food court/etc. leaving Drago alone. Magi would start with pointing out the facility in question and offer a brief description of its use, while attempting to nudge Keep into providing more details, and to just generally wingman for Keep as they went.

Drago released the hilt of his sword and went back the way he came, looking for Watchtower. "Watchtower are you there? We should talk," he called. If she responded, Drago would lay out the pitch he had discussed with Castille minutes earlier over Watchtower joining the NS, or at least work with Keep on the water park, and what that would entail. This would basically be a clean slate for her and a fresh start.

"Oh no doubt about that, she is dangerous," Suzume said to Escort's concerns. Though the way Suzu was acting, reclining with Yumi!Shade, she didn't seem concerned at the least. "But she probably won't try anything. She is woefully outnumbered and outgunned, and she knows it," Suzu explained with a glint in her eye. It looked like she wanted Castille to try something. "She will posture though," Suzu continued. "Puff herself up, make herself look like she is a toughy, but it will all be for showboating purposes. The important thing is she makes the impression. Simple leader-to-leader politics. I wouldn't worry about it," she concluded.

Aya frowned at the implication that her earlier comments were similar to the philosophy of the Right of Operation Templar, but continued to listen as Guillotine answered the rest of her questions. Aya arched her eyebrow at the 'crazed fighting' information. "There will always be a need for 'crazed fighters' for a long time to come," Aya finally replied. "And if poaching their talent makes them charge at us, all the better. I'd rather not have to go down any snake holes trying to flush them out for me to delete them," Aya said. "Hm, Agony huh? I wonder if I heard that name before?" Aya questioned out loud, not particularly having a photographic memory due to some viral corruption. She shrugged her shoulders as she and Guillotine were heading back into the castle, "So... have we managed to get all the ROT base locations out of you yet?" Aya asked. "It seems like we should hit them while their leadership is in disarray," Aya added.