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

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?

Prizes?

Mascot = Yumi (need more details)

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

Something about the water??

Music?
"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)

Rides
- 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

Utility
- 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.

Quote

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."
Reference


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.
Reference


"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.
Reference


"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.

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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.

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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.