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551789 No. 551789 ID: d77784

It been a day since the announcement from the government that had basically damned every breaker in the nation to being hunted by everyone else. Already there were reports of riots occurring in major cities across the nation, in no small part to the panic caused by the very idea that people can warp reality at will. It can't help but be noticed by you and your crew however, that most of those riots are occurring in the east. Most likely D7 stirring up trouble. Everywhere else just seems to be in a state of shock, uncertain what to do, although the panic is slowly spreading. Thankfully, even without orders from you, your organization is already actively helping to calm the panic by taking any breakers it can find and taking them to safety, and barring that, warning them against using their powers. At least until you can come up with a plan.

Which is what the hastily put together strategy meeting is for. You assembled in a conference room scrounged up from somewhere, and all of the inner circle is here, talking quietly amongst themselves while you brood on things in your head. Everyone here was someone who'd received a... what had the doc called them? Reminders. They'd received a Reminder from you, a focus you'd tuned and handed over to them to keep hold of. some wore them openly, like Cass and Aria. Others preferred to hide it away, as Elizabeth and Chris did. You find your attention drawn to each in turn, noting things that had changed over the past few months.

As always, Cass is the first one to garner your attention, and despite her protests to the contrary, her life is improving in leaps and bounds. Over the past few months, her suddenly highly protective, if no less violent, personality, has polarized a lot of people around her, either they came to love her or hate her. Regardless, she is given the respect she has earned, being one of the lieutenants to "El Jefe" as you are being called now. While she isn't the most dedicated when it comes to leading people, resorting mostly to yelling at them till they do what she wants, when it actually came down to the few instances where a fight needed to be broken up, she was the first to step in. You've also spent countless hours teasing her over her slowly growing relationship with Isaac Grimm, who she insists is "just a friend", but you are certain is steadily becoming a bit more than that.

Elizabeth, your daughter, is slowly changing as well, although whether or not for the better, you don't know. She occasionally disappears for hours on end, rarely telling you when she'll be gone, but always returning. More and more you've noticed that she tends to be twiddling her fingers around, as if idling doing something. Still, she also seems to be getting steadily more lucid, focusing less on the weave and more on what actually IS. If anything she seems to be deliberately weaning herself off of her reliance on that other sight. Why, you can't seem to get out of her, but the process has made her a bit testy, although you suppose it's partly your fault that she's also getting steadily more sarcastic as she rejoins the world of the living.

Chris, as always, remains as stoic as ever. Her small group, wielding katanas and the like, has grown into their own, and follow her with an almost rabid devotion. After apparently finishing her training of them a month ago, she has since ignored them, although that hasn't stopped them from mimicking her in her steadfast silence and vigil over the others. Many of her trainees have taken it upon themselves to follow her example, and it's slightly off putting to walk into a hallway just to find one of them silently standing guard. Still, the woman herself, if anything, has gotten more silent, especially whenever her estranged sister can be found in the same room. Rise does little to cause issues, instead spending much of her time corralling the fairy Sidhe, but on the occasions that the two meet face to face, conversations have been short and awkward. You are not sure how to help the situation without seeming like your being rude, but even a few night time sessions with Raphael have revealed little about Chris, or her thoughts on the matter.

Nicole and Michelle are in and of themselves the most stable of your group, being from the west, they have a lot of concern regarding recent events, especially because they hope that perhaps, with the much different culture of western breakers, that the normals of the region won't react in the same way as those of the east. The meeting today is supposed to help address that, along with a few other things that the others have to bring to your attention, but you feel like these two are the most desperate for a favorable solution. You suppose you can understand. You wouldn't want to be hated by your home either. Even if you already are.

Still, the most drastic change has been in Aria. The woman has spent considerable amounts of time with you, going out of her way to be in the same room as you. Still, at time she disappears completely, and you get the feeling you haven't seen as much of her avatar, Golem, as you had before. For whatever reason, when you do see him, there's always a rumbling accompanying him, and he always seems to be facing you, regardless of where or how you move. Still, the time you've spent with Aria has been entertaining, if nothing else, and it provides a welcome distraction from your work. Still, in the face of recent events, even she is looking grim, and she seems to be idly checking her phone at regularly intervals.

Then it's to your own matters that your attention moves next. Jacob, despite some small misgivings, has been let out of the room provisionally. He's allowed to move about the base, under guard, and has been instructed to only answer questions directed specifically at him. That helped somewhat, until people started to realize that he remembered everything you said around him. He's been treated somewhat like an outcast since, given that many people say things they wish weren't remembered and repeated for other people to hear. Still, it's at least marginally better than having him locked up all the time. Maria, on the other hand, proved a larger issue. It took nearly two months for you to agonize to a resolute decision, and even that took some actual coercing from your friends to get done. Still, the woman had, with some help from Aria, been wiped and relocated to Britannia. There, Aria pulled some strings to have her looked after and cared for till she could get on her feet. The LR had originally been the chosen spot, but it had later been changed, thanks to the possibility of Raul getting his hands on her. Still, you'd rid yourself of the woman, and while you'd gone to Chris in an attempt to make sure she was fine with the result, your friend, in her exact words, "not care what happened to the one who lost". You'd left it at that, although that had somewhat unnerved you. If Chris had lost, would she have just gone along with whatever they had decided, without complaint?

You'd also spent some of your time, when you could spare it, playing around with Raphael's fusion. You'd nicknamed it Nightmare Linda(Raph's suggestion) and had gone tromping through dreamtime about once a week, had spent most of that getting used to the new body and picking up a few new fears. Cass, upon learning you could do it, freely gave permission to take hers, as long as it didn't take you too long, and similarly, Chris had given hers as well. That gave you two new forms, That Which Cannot Be Cut, and Berserker Cass. You felt a little guilty pulling Cass' out, but she simply shrugged away your apology. It just meant facing herself again, and she'd already done that. Still, despite you playing around with Raphael, you'd found yourself putting off coming into contact with Cally again. Some part of you didn't feel comfortable, especially because you still felt guilty over having shot her. Still, you can't put if off forever. Maybe you'll do that later...

And that concludes self-reflection time. You clear your throat to get everyone's attention, and the group goes silent, all eyes on you. For once, you can legitamately claim you feel like the leader of an organization, instead of just the person who signs all the paperwork.

"Well, we all saw the thing from yesterday. Thoughts?"

"It's bad. If the government is getting involved, we have issues. A lot of em."

"I have to agree with Ms. Reed on this one. More than likely, other nations will quickly follow suit, or at least admit to the existence of breakers. Britannia, my own homeland, will probably be one of the first. Everyone knows that the UNA will weaponize the breaker population, whether they say they will or not, after all."

"So where does that leave us?"

"Honestly, I don't know. The only options I can see are somehow going to ground completely, and making it impossible for the UNA to find you, or going up against them head on. Either way, you'll be declaring an unconditional war with Division 7. After all, if you don't deal with them, you don't have a hope either way."

"Regardless of your decision, Mother, it would be best to start doing something about the local population. If you can somehow win the normals of the west coast to your side, then you'll have a much easier time in the events to come."

"I agree with Elizabeth. Gaining some allies wouldn't hurt. We could try the breakers of other nations as well. I mean, Raul up and disappeared, not that he was trustworthy or anything, so stop giving me that look, little miss stuck-up. But gaining outside help would be a good move."

"So basically, regardless of the path we take, we're going to need help."

"That sounds about right. Ah... the sewer rats of Central would be a good group to get into your debt, helping them escape into our territory might win them over. The fixers are a lost cause in my opinion, but if you wanted to, we could send an envoy, I guess. That leaves the breaker communities of other nations we could go talk to. I could start setting up a list if you like."

"I'll think about it."

"Also... seems like a bad time to bring it up, but we've had multiple reports of activity along the borders of our territory. I don't want to get into too much detail right now, we have bigger things to discuss, but when you get the chance, I think you should look them over."

"I will, Nicole. Later. For now..."

You NEED to be the leader right now. You could tell that everyone in the room, even Aria, is uncertain. Looking to you. You've pulled them through a lot already, now they need you to keep pulling.

Which means you need a plan.

>>>Input Command
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No. 551805 ID: fd6ae9

>Elizabeth growing up into more of a snaky teenager
Jeeze! More seriously though, as much as I've appreciated her character development, seeing her actually start to grow up and moving into whatever the Observers are trying to pull her into makes me a little sad. Her grammer's even more normal.

>You wouldn't want to be hated by your home either. Even if you already are.
Your home doesn't remember you exist.

>Rise
We should talk to her at some point, see how she's coping. And did George ever make any progress examining her? If we're going to war with division

>Reminders
Did you ever test if you could manifest from those while others hold them? Not that you could possibly get used to working with 7 new weapons, just out of curiosity. The Doc has one too, right?

>What do?
We can go underground or we can stand up to them. And we can't possibly protect everyone and everything we're responsible for if we try to hide. Maybe we can keep a core of the group safe for a while, but that will leave many breakers out in the cold, and McCarthy will only get stronger in the meanwhile. It would mean turning our back on part of what we stand for.

We stand up to them. We've been at war with Division 7 a long time. We've just been too occupied to find a way to bring the fight to them.

(On that subject, what's the Doc gotten from mining that disk?)

Our first move though, should be Elizabeth's idea. Division 7 had it's announcement. We should make our own public appeal. Use a combination of our financial influence, what the doctor can whip up, and good old breaking to put our own message on the air. Tell the world who we really are, and what we stand for. Maybe we can win over the locals at least, and give people outside our area of control something to think about.

(I'll throw up my ideas for an actual speech over in dis. Exact details will depend on what can be dug up according to my next idea, and I assume there will be prep work to do first).

>other ideas
Do we have anyone who is, or used to be, a lawyer in the organization? (Or failing that, can we set a law firm we own, or the legal departments of some of our companies to work). I want someone combing through whatever information Division 7 has made public, or what we Jacob may have seen. What the legal justification is for what they're doing, how breakers are classified (are they not considered human? Or citizens?). Which pieces of the constitution (or equivalent) are still in effect, have been suspended, or are being broken? Specifically- I'm looks for things to turn on their head. For example, if we're not recognized as people, or part of their country, then we are logically not subject to their authority. I want ways to show where the UNA is breaking it's own legal code (if we can find any), or committing what count as international war crimes. I really want a justification for our own philosophy (breakers looking after their own affairs, policing themselves, and refraining from messing with normals), and to be able to say that the UNA therefore has no legal right to police or weaponize us.

>reaching out to foreign groups
Do it. The more we can unite breakers and establish some kind of cooperation and peace, the stronger we are, and the weaker D7's case appears to the people of the world. (And as much as Aria dislikes Raul he did come across as trustworthy. Even if he's sneaky, he honored the agreements he made). ...although we may not want to open diplomatic channels before we make our appeal.

Helping other domestic breaker groups (like the sewer rats) under attack by D7 escape to our territory isn't a bad idea either. ...the problem with the fixers is we need to convince them that we're right. That's it better to compromise to our way of thinking (getting breaking under control and stabilized) rather than trying to wipe it out.

>look over border stuff
Probably something to check out while other people are making arrangements for the appeal.
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No. 551832 ID: 2f4b71

I think a core component of any speech we make would be to avoid making any blanket statements about breakers, but about our group specifically. Otherwise, the message could easily be undermined by a few bad eggs, or by deliberate action from D7 puppets.
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No. 551835 ID: c6460b

I feel like some sort of public statement of "We've got a group of organized breakers-ask anyone in the area if breakers have caused them any distress." Or so would be a way to start.
Basically, even if we are hidden, if it's more of a 'masquerade' going, where Breakers can police themselves, then we can say simultaniously two things:
1. Don't mess with us, we're big, we're dangerous.
2. We'd like to live peacefully, and co-exist, and we can prove it, by how long we've been here without causing major issues, at least.
If we can set a precedent of being reasonable, we can at least establish ourselves as being 'nice' breakers, and get the heat off us.
>>
No. 551837 ID: 88960e

>>551832
We can include blanket statements in explaining what breakers are, and to portray us as something other than the monsters D7 tried to paint us as. Then we move on to our group in specific. (Again, we don't need the exact text ready now, there's a little research and prep time needed to set this up).
>>
No. 551925 ID: d77784

"... We make our own announcement then."

"We're going public?"

"We have to. This organization is here to protect breakers, and normals, and basically keep the peace between the two. If we go to ground, then sure, some of us will survive. But we'll be in no position to defend anything. So, that leaves us with one option. We go public. And if need be, we go to war with Division 7."

There's silence around the room for a few minutes as everyone absorbs your words, and then the Doc stands, sighing in false exasperation.

"Well then, I better start making preparations to broadcast to the world. I'd suggest finding a face, or hiding behind another mask. No one is going to remember you otherwise. Oh! Maybe we can have a shadow cover your face when your on the air! NO! Decision for another time, have work to do. Need to take control of broadcast satellites..."

"And there he goes. Looks like we'll have control of the news when we need it. For now, I think I'll start drawing up that list of possible contacts in other parts of the world, Ms. McCallahan. I'll see about getting in touch with those I know to be trustworthy. If you'll excuse me."

"Damn it, Linda, you never go for the small stuff. Well... I'll do what I can to help, I think we all will. Just give us the word when you need us."

Most of the group leaves, headed off to get things done. Nicole, however, stays behind, a folder in her hands. She looks just as grim as before, if not more so, and you reach for the files before she even begins speaking.

"What have you got for me?"

"Incident reports from our borders. Most of it is minor skirmishes with small breaker groups coming our way that don't like the idea of peaceful coexistence. Unfortunately for them, we've become quite skilled at defending ourselves recently. I've labeled the outstanding one's, though, as well as marked who you should talk to for more information. Anything else you need, Linda?"

"Yeah, actually. See if you can't coerce some lawyer type into finding me something I can use to... discredit the government in their treatment of us. Give us legal ground to tell them to fuck off. Not that I'd give up if we didn't have the moral high ground, but it would be nice to have."

"I'm on it, Linda. And... don't think you have to handle those incidents yourself. You have us now, delegate when you need to."

"I'll try to remember that."

Nicole leaves as well to get your request done, as well as help out where she can, leaving you alone with your thoughts and a folder full of incidents. Nicole was right, most of these are little things that look like they've already been handled by the security arm of your group. A few do stand out as unresolved, though.

Directly east of here lies a city known for it's casino's and entertainment. Essentially, the night life reigns supreme there, and is called simply Night City by most. It's also the farthest point east controlled by you, and at that just barely. Still, a group of Sonia's mercs act as a forward defense group, and they've been encountering sudden a rapid attacks by unknown enemies. They've sent a request for help back, and Sonia apparently felt she'd give you the chance to make a decision before she intervened herself. It's been marked that Isaac has been put in charge of dealing with the situation on Sonia's end.

A more troubling event is occurring in the more northern sections of your territory. Breakers are disappearing one by one, and there are few clues regarding the issue. Rise has agreed to investigate for you, and is already preparing for the journey.

There are also reports of a fixer group "raiding" into your territory, attacking defenseless breakers and disappearing before anyone can react quickly enough to do anything about it. It's becoming a very dangerous threat, as the more the group does it, the more powerful they slowly get from pilfered foci. There's no one currently assigned to deal with the issue as of yet, although it was one of the security branches that sent up the report.

Last, but not least, is the rather odd reports of some sort of "unraveling" occurring at a small town in the snowier regions of the northern UNA. It falls along the west coast, and therefore you territory, although the region the incident is occurring is under the purview of only a single, small security outpost. While nothing is explicitly endangering anyone as of yet, the men stationed there felt it should be reported.

>>>Input Command
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No. 551927 ID: da40a6

Hrrrm.
Unraveling will be Linda and/or Elizabeth, I'm sure the watchers will want to do something about that, so we'd need Elizabeth as a contact.

The Fixers should be dealt with, I'm thinking Aria&Michelle should go that way.

As far as Sonia's Mercs, well, Issac is already on the job there. Cassandra&Chris might make for an interesting pair of reinforcements.

And as far as Rise, yeah, she can go. Maybe take that Duke guy Cassandra fought in the arena with her.

On deck, we'll have Tao, as well as the third stringers of Ghost Girl and Flamthrower Boy, Rodreguez, aaaand I think that's all the named Breakers we have that are combatants.
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No. 551945 ID: fd6ae9

>need a face to broadcast
...darn. I was actually thinking of working nonexistance into the speech (proof that we're what we claim to be. Any fancy trick or break we pull on screen can't be proven not to be Hollywood magic. But telling our audience they're going to forget our name and face as soon as they look away?). That idea kind of assumed they'd remember what we said, though.

>hacking into satellites
Liiiiraaa. Why'd we let you go south instead of west. We really could have used your help with a media blitz.

>lawyer type
Thing to review: whatever documentation the government released following that announcement, whatever relevant information the doc has pulled from Rise's CD, and what we can compare or cross reference with Jacob (...actually, if there's anyone who wouldn't be bothered by him, it's hard core legal types. A perfect witness, automatic stenographer and document recall all in one?). I'm betting the public information and legal declarations don't sync with all the information we have access to, and what we know they're really up to doesn't sync with public UNA law.

If that's the case, we'd want to release some kind of report with / after the broadcast. Internet bomb it, so there's no way the government could take it down. Showing their hypocrisy or disregard of their own laws (or draconian enforcement of black laws hidden from the public eye) would do a lot for our own credibility with the public.

>problems
How far away are all these possible points of interest? They're all closer to the edges of our territory, and outside of Sun City. Most of them involve an additional time component of waiting for or finding the actual problem. That means anyone sent to deal with these issues can be expected to take at least a day.

Talk to Elizabeth about the unraveling before deciding what to do about it. Threads are in her and to some extent your (if the Warden was right) wheelhouse. (Is it being caused by something wrong with reality? By a tear? Or an irresponsible breaker with the right powerset?). It's possible she may want to investigate directly, but in that case, we can't send her alone. (It's one thing to trust her doing whatever she's been disappearing locally to do. Potentially sending her into a hostile situation without backup or protection is unthinkable). (Possible escorts- Linda, Nicole, Chris, or Aria?).

Night City looks like direct combat. My first impulse is to send Cass with some backup (maybe some of Chris' trainees?). Possibly Michelle too if we don't send her to deal with the fixers- demons gotta eat.

The fixer raiders are fast, and they hit seemingly defenseless targets? I think the best cure for that is to set a trap. Give them a defenseless looking target with enough juice to be tempting (Michelle? Kiddie-Aria? Make sure you don't order anyone to be bait- ask) and then we hit them fast and hard. (Avatar(s) popping out of nowhere, sniper(s) open fire, or Mike's stealth team hits them, or Chris countering speed with even more insane speed, or maybe Tao? He's fast, and lightning is faster. ...yeah, that's a lot of possible people, and probably more than we need at once).

Rise can investigate, but I'd feel more comfortable if she weren't doing so alone (well, she has Sidhe, but as an avy she has her own particular set of weaknesses). It's really not a good idea to send someone to investigate multiple disappearances on their own. If she hasn't made any friends she'd care to invite, see about sending someone to help her. (She's free to run or conduct the investigation as she sees fit, of course. We're sending help, not someone to boss her around). Not Chris- that would be too distracting or dangerous on a mission.

The unraveling and mysterious disappearances both have a chance of being connected to Jean (or possibly, another tear). That calls for extra caution on those teams.

Remember we still need someone in charge back at base in case anything happens. There's Linda obviously (although non-existence gets in the way, and we'd prefer her getting some action), Nicole has filled that role before (although her stats are a little low compared to some of the others- could use the XP from action), and Aria kind of fits (she's already acting as our face in some regards. Although that isn't a very interesting role for her).

Linda I'm not so sure. We could go with Elizabeth if she needs to investigate, or possibly act as part of the ambush (potentially, we could even be the 'helpless' bait, if we set it up right with Someone Else). I think the campaign in Night City is best left to others to run (seems straightforward), and going with Rise personally might give us a chance to talk, but it's not placing much trust in her if we basically take over her investigation personally.
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No. 551949 ID: da40a6

>Broadcast
Crazy thought-if Someone else is tied into Remember the Fallen like I think it is? We could have Linda do that broadcast after all.
Since Raphel is tied a person wandering around and that might get him into trouble, let's use Cally instead! Maybe even with her music and everything!
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No. 551950 ID: 2f4b71

Aria would be perfect as the Face, except for her connection to Brittania. Until we have something solid on how Brittania will fall (for or against the UNA) and if Aria will fulfil or shirk her familial responsibilities, we can't centre our PR campaign around her.
Which sucks. Either we trust her and take a huge risk (which may be enough to tip her into siding with us, or may be too heavy-handed and push her away), or we keep her out of anything critical and risk pushing her away.
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No. 551956 ID: fd6ae9

>>551949
...as amusing as that would be Rave Linda is waaaay not appropriate for the public appeal, mission statement, and calling out of D7 we want to pull off. (You're right that we haven't tested if people will remember RtF forms, though. Actually putting in a DJ appearance somewhere at sometime might be an interesting experiment).

All we really need to pull off is to orchestrate things such that people distinguish the persona we put forward as sufficiently separate from ourself to be remembered. Remember- people who meet Linda forget her. But people remembered the pilot of the godkiller, vaguely. We may not have a thread, put I'm assuming in the right circumstances we can set down enough of a groove, or a meta-presence in a larger community, to leave a memory. (Possibly something to discuss with the Doc and/or Elizabeth).

>>551950
I don't think Aria is going to be terribly offended if we don't ask her to do our speech. I mean, yes, obviously it would be a big gesture of trust if we did, but I think she gets that this is important to us.
>>
No. 552135 ID: d77784

Some initial ideas pop into your head about who might be handling what, but you shake them away before deciding anything solid. You have some time, talking to people about things wouldn't hurt. Specifically the things that are unclear. Your first stop is to find that daughter of your's and find out what you can about this unraveling thing. You head downstairs, glancing around for the girl. You find her glaring at a wall, muttering things and looking like she wants the thing to stop being there.

"What are you doing, Liz?"

"Wondering why this wall is here."

"... Um..."

"I don't remember this wall being here. That's all. So I'm wondering if this wall should be here. It is, but... should it be..."

"Liz, this wall has been here the entire time."

"Really?"

"Yeah... Are you alright?"

"I... don't know. I don't think so. Trying to remember what things look like for everyone else is very... confusing."

"You'll be fine eventually though, right?"

"Don't know. Never tried before."

"Well... I'm sorry about that. Regardless, I kinda need your advice on something."

"The unraveling event, don't know, looking at it is... painful."

"You tried already?"

"Couldn't help it. Big event. A tear is there, I know that much... maybe two of them, I... I can't be sure."

"Alright. Don't push yourself, alright? Even that little bit of information is helpful... and stop staring at the wall, it's not going to go anywhere whether you want it to or not."

"Don't tempt me..."

You walk away laughing. While this newer, more lucid Elizabeth is certainly disconcerting, she still has the same childlike glow underneath. A part of you hopes she never changes, but the likely hood of that is small. Everyone changes eventually.

The next person you need to talk to is Rise, and you find her looking over a bag and arguing with Sidhe, which means a lot of hushed tones and tinkling bells. You hadn't really spent much time around the pair, to be completely honest, busy as you were with other things, but from what you'd heard, Sidhe had kept her pranks down to a minimum. As for the lethality of those pranks however...

"No, Sidhe, you can not make all the lightbulbs explode before we leave. I do not think anyone but you would appreciate that... I do not care if you do not care, you are not doing it... Ah! Um... hello. Can I help you?"

Sidhe chimes in before you can say anything, and Rise stares at her in confusion for a moment before turning back to you.

"So... apparently I have forgotten you for some reason? I apologize. Sidhe seems to think that was rude of me."

"Don't worry about it. I'm used to it. Uh... I heard you were going to investigate the missing person's case up north?"

"That is correct, although I do not believe that information was ever released..."

"Ah! I work with Cass. I tend to hear about things before most other people. Even if I don't leave a big impression at all."

"I see. Yes, I agreed to go investigate. Sidhe was just arguing over what prank she was going to pull before we leave. It should only be a few hours flight, and Nicole was kind enough to provide funds for travel and expenses. Why? Are you perhaps going to come along?"

"Uh..."

That's right. You had thought about going yourself. And not just for this mission. Now might be a good time to come to a decision, after all, the other two seem fairly straight forward, it just remains to assign people to each.

>>>Input Command
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No. 552160 ID: fd6ae9

>A tear is there, I know that much... maybe two of them
...well, great. Now I'm really not sure what to do about that. We don't exactly have anyone who's prepared to deal with a tear, let alone two. (Jean fighting another one?). Linda's the only one who might have a way to deal with them, meaning we're left ignoring the problem or investigating personally. And I'm not sure bringing Elizabeth would be a good idea at all, or that she seems up for field action right now.

...and I'm not sure at all who we bring with us if we go investigating something like that.

Gah. I'm going to go shovel some snow while I think about it. I think the basic approach from before still stands on everything else- send Cass (and maybe someone else with her) with forces to reinforce Sonia's and Isaac's group, and arrange a trap for the fixers (although we still need to work our who or what the bait is, and who to include on the team hitting them). Michelle needs to see action (the demons are restless), and should probably be involved in the fixer fight (it's an offense as opposed to defense on the night city mission, which also has more people on it). Rise can't go alone, but I'm not sure if we wish to accompany her personally, or if we're doing the tear thing.
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No. 552259 ID: fd6ae9

All right. So looking it over again: two missions are fundamentally simple combat. As much as we might like to get some licks in or grab a point or two of XP, neither mission really requires our personal attention (as amusing as it would be to play bait using Someone Else).

Deployments:

Night City: fundamentally a defense operation, which recently has become what Cass is good at. And hey, it gives her down-time near Isaac. And it would be kind of neat if Sonia saw how Cass has gone from without training to with (berserker Cass was scary for a lot of reasons, but new disciplined Cass is scary effective).

Obviously she's bringing some troops with her since they requested backup. And maybe send along Chris (good for her trainees if we're sending some of them), or Nicole? (one of her motivations seems to be to prove and improve herself, and we haven't given her enough action).

Fixer trap: if we can't use Linda and someone else to set a trap, Aria seems the best fit. She can change her appearance to appear harmless, she openly wears less threatening a non-avatar focus, and normality cloak and high spirit means they won't be able to judge her real strength. And her own person is less vulnerable than Michelle when attacked. Although, again, this is something you ask someone to do, not order.

Her reinforcements and strike team should probably include Mike's group. They can keep themselves concealed until the fixers hit, and they move fast themselves, and include at least one sniper. Twinda might not be a bad addition too. If we're worried about their ability to hit and leave too fast, Chris is also a counter for speed types. And if we don't deploy her elsewhere, Nicole is good at shutting people down, and could use XP (although, again, I think I'm starting to over-stock this team).

(You know, now that we're rich, one thing we should do with Twinda: buy a box of spare ammunition for our big gun. Since she can't reload with BP, that way, when we choose to deploy her, we can just make sure she has a few clips. Then there's no worrying she'll run out).

Michelle obviously needs to be deployed. The demons want to fight. Kind of torn on where she'd be more effective, or where her avys would be more sated (where are there more baddies for them to eat, and less competition with allies to eat them). I think I'm leaning on having her on the ambush team (she doesn't have to be too close, like we did with the Hunter, and dropping monsters out of nowhere is great for an ambush). And flames of Hell would be a great move to prevent a group of enemies from fleeing in all directions- they'd all go down while our allies would be free to move to intercept. Although I suppose it depends on the expected size of the two enemy groups we have to sic her on.

Nicole, again, I feel like we're under-utilizing. She could use XP, which I'm not sure she gets just running things as our intermediary. I'm also not sure how busy she is with that or other things we've thrown at her right now, though, or how much she's hankering to see action (she does seem driven by self improvement and excellence, but also to try and prove herself to us?). Assuming XP and personal preference aren't issues, she's not a bad choice to be left in charge of the main place while other people are dealing directly with problems.

That means the real choice is where to apply Linda.

The tricky part is the tears. We can't really send anyone else to investigate in good conscience; there's a good chance they'll be killed or unmade. Linda's the only one with any apparent protection (she may not have a thread for them to harm anymore, Jean seems to have decided to help in a crazy way, and McCarthy seems to want her alive), or who's been implied to have a way to fight back (the warden's comments on raw reality, and Elizabeth lending her sight). Butting our nose in is still kind of risky though.

Also, if we do go and investigate, I'm not sure who we bring with us. Traveling alone is stupid, but all our close allies are melee types, and tears kill with a touch. Liz is sort of relevant, but bringing her into that kind of danger (especially in her current state) seems very dumb. ...I suppose Chris has the most experience with this kind of thing, and the added benefit of being fast and able to teleport? Might keep her alive. Not sure how well her mindset would work with investigation.

...at the very least, the people who called in the unraveling should be warned what caused it, and that they should not engage if they encounter a tear.

Alternatively: we could probably be a big help to Rise. We've actually got decent powers for investigation. We can ask tough questions without causing a scene or alerting anyone we're close, because we'll be forgotten. Someone Else can get us in anywhere, or get people to tell us things they wouldn't normally. And hey, x-ray glasses. Plus there's the chance to maybe help Rise personally, and the mission generally seems more fun. ...and there's also the problem that I'm not sure who's a good fit to send with her as backup otherwise.

I guess I want to do the sleuthing more, but the tears seem too dangerous to ignore. While also too dangerous to go into blind. Which leaves me a bit stuck. Anyone else have a different take on this?
>>
No. 552270 ID: 10b54e

If it's too dangerous to bring our closest allies because they're melee, then find ranged allies? It doesn't have to be someone we know closely, necessarily, as long as they're decent at combat.
>>
No. 552280 ID: fd6ae9

>>552270
Honestly, we don't want combat with a tear (since we have no sure way to end such a fight right now). Melee is just another disadvantage on top of the several breakers have v tears.

And going with people we aren't close to kind of brings up other problems (like unfamiliarity with the danger we're investigating, nonexistence becoming a problem halfway though, or someone not trusting to our decisions or listening to us at the right (wrong) moment...)
>>
No. 552283 ID: 10b54e

>>552280
All good points. However, eventually we will need to find a way to deal with tears. Now might not be the time. But if not combat, recon might be in order?
>>
No. 552297 ID: fd6ae9

>>552283
All right, with you and Z's last vote, that's consensus Linda should investigate the unraveling personally. (Can Elizabeth share over long distance? We could get the advantages of her sight when we need it, without putting her in harm's way).

That just leaves the question of who should accompany Rise. Even if she does have Sidhe backing her up, she could use an ally in the field. (Z suggested Duke, but I've really no idea if this is his kind of thing. Doesn't help that we haven't seen him since like thread 2).

(Sidhe's an interesting thought-problem for force deployment, actually. She's free of the usual weaknesses we'd associate with an avatar dependent on their breaker- but it's not clear in what ways she may be disadvantaged not having a breaker connected to her).

>Sonia intervening herself
...wait. I just realized that means she's 3 months+ pregnant now, and hasn't started taking it easy yet.
>>
No. 552402 ID: d77784

"Not me personally... I have something else I need to go do. But... uh... I heard they were thinking of sending someone else to go along."

"If they do, they should send them after me. I will go on ahead and begin looking into things."

"Wait! Hold o-"

Before you can finish, Rise is gone, out the door and hopping into a taxi, Sidhe sliding into her pocket to hide. The woman gives you a little wave before the taxi heads off down the road, and you sigh. Well, you can't fault her enthusiasm, although you suspect it has more to do with her sister than anything else. Regardless, you turn away to find someone else. There's a few people you want to talk to. The first one you manage to find is Nicole, mostly because she'd been looking for you as well.

"Hey, boss. I got some things you need to take a look at. Just expense reports for last month and-"

"Sorry, Nicole. I have some things to do. Besides, I trust you with stuff like that. Which reminds me... I'm gonna have to leave town for a couple of days, maybe more."

"Wha- Why?"

"That unravelling event. I don't feel comfortable leaving it to anyone else, especially when I might be the only person with any resistance to whatever it is tears do."

"I... I see. God... who's gonna do all this paperwork then?"

"Well, I was kinda hoping you'd do it."

"Yeah, I guess that a good ide- Wait, what?"

"You've already pretty much been doing everything yourself anyway. I don't see how this is any different."

"... I guess your right. I was kinda hoping to go beat some people's faces in, but... well, I guess we'll get ample opportunities for that kinda thing when this war finally gets started. Sure, I'll take care of things here till you get back. I hope you'll stay in contact though. I want to go over everything we learn regarding... well... everything."

"Don't worry. I'll take a laptop with me, you can send everything to my email address."

"Got it. Well, I'll go take care of this then. Good luck out there."

"Thanks. I'm probably gonna need it."

Nicole takes off, looking just a little pleased with herself. You can't blame her, she's becoming somewhat indispensable as an aid, especially when it comes to the handling of all the daily necessities that come with running this place. You smile a little to yourself, then head off again, searching for one of the others you need to talk to. Soon enough, you find two that you need, and gather them together to talk to both at the same time.

"Aria, Michelle. I was hoping you two would help me out with one of those problems we're having on the borders."

"Of course, Ms. McCallahan."

"Anything, Linda! Levi and Moth want to help too!"

"Thanks. It'll be a big help, really. I was hoping you two would help me with these fixers that keep pushing in. I was thinking an ambush of some kind, Aria would be a good choice, you could do your little girl trick and draw them in. Michelle, Levi and Moth could then hit them when they go to grab you. Mike's group might be up to help too. I'm going to talk to them as soon as I find them."

"Leave it to us, Ms. McCallahan. You have other things to deal with. We can take care of things from here."

"You sure, Aria?"

"Of course. We are not completely useless, after all."

"Of course not. Well, I leave it to you then. You seen Cass around?"

"She's been at the training ring, as usual, if I recall correctly."

"Alright, I'll check in with you later then."

You head towards the training ring, and sure enough, you find Cass going through yet another routine, but as you approach, she breaks it off and comes over to the edge to meet you.

"What up, Linda? Look like you want to talk about something."

"I do actually. How'd you feel getting some alone time with your boy toy?"

"Wha- ISAAC NOT MY BOY TOY, DAMN IT!"

"Who said anything about Isaac?"

"I-... fuck!"

"Hahaha! So I was right, then?"

"Just... fuck!"

"More seriously though, I was hoping you'd deal with the Night City problem. Take a group and support Isaac and the rest of Sonia's crew that's there. I don't want to force you or anything, but..."

"I'll do it, Linda, don't worry about that. Not that anyone around here would listen to me anyway."

"Take Chris and her crew. She'll listen to you, and they'll listen to her. It's kinda cute, really. It's like she's got her own little cult."

"Alright. Works for me. And stop fucking teasing me about Isaac, alright? I took your advice, didn't I?"

"Yeah, you did. But I don't think there's a thing in the world that could stop me from teasing you about it. I've got a few other things to do and get ready for, but I'll leave it to you."

"I got it. You go do what you need to do, I'll handle the things on my end... where the hell did Chris go?"

Cass wanders off in search of the other woman, and you head back up to your office, already intent on your own goal. You have some ideas you'd like to go over with Elizabeth, but that can wait. For now, it's time to get things ready for your departure. You're sure a few days can be used for your prep work, as you doubt the unravelling will get too much worse by the time you get there. Hopefully anyway.
>>
No. 552403 ID: d77784

You'd left the day after getting your assignment from Linda, using a bus that Chris had managed to scrounge from somewhere. Contrary to your beliefs, and much to your surprise, a number of people had volunteered to go with you, quite a few that you'd practiced with over the past few months. Chris and her group had come as well, the woman with her usual silence, her crew with much more enthusiasm. You'd arrived that same night, everyone tired from the long and cramped drive. That's why, two days after being given the job, you were finally meeting up with Isaac, here in Night city, at dusk at a local casino. The place was buzzing with the sounds of dice, slot machines and the low hum of people. You were waiting, having arrived early with Chris, and were unhappily munching on something expensive and unpronounceable. For some reason, Chris had known what it was and ordered it for you, but regardless, you still found your own foot tapping impatiently. You had things to do, damn it, and this waiting around wasn't helping any.

"Hey Cass! How ya been?"

"Fuck."

Isaac. Fucking. Grimm.

You knew you were supposed to meet him, after all, this was his show, but still, with everything that is going on, you can't help but feel this uncomfortable awkwardness in the pit of your stomach every time you've run into him. It made you feel... like... like... Like a giddy schoolgirl getting talked to by the most popular boy in school. And you LOATHED that feeling. It was almost like losing control again. The one feeling you never wanted to have to feel. Regardless, you soldier on, reminding yourself to try to relax and take things as they come. Isaac hadn't pressured you at all, just as Linda had said, and you hoped you could work things out in your head and get rid of this horrible situation soon.

"Aw, don't be like that, Cass. As much as I'd love to do my normal routine, unfortunately, we've got work."

"Right... work..."

"As far as my group managed to figure out, there's Division 7 strike teams running around causing problems. We think they have a FOB set up inside one of the casinos, although which one is up in the air. We've narrowed it down to this area at least, but that still leaves us with at least 7 casinos. Most of your guys are all melee types, while mine are all ranged. I figure we mix our two bands together, make it as even as possible among two groups. One will pull a perimeter guard around the area, see if we can't limit the damage these bastards are causing, the other starts sweeping the casinos. Shouldn't take us more than a few days to secure the city, the we'll see about setting up a better guard outpost. Maybe stick around awhile to help keep D7 out. Thoughts?"

"... You really are a professional."

"Hey! Just cause I don't act like it doesn't mean I don't know my job!"

"Alright, alright, let me think..."

You suppose, with you and Chris here, one of you could go with this perimeter group, the other with the sweepers. Which one goes with which shouldn't matter much.

>>>Input Command
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No. 552407 ID: f8e899

Right.
I'll gaurd the perimeter, Chris sweeps- probably plays into that D7 training she got better anyway.
>>
No. 552413 ID: fd6ae9

>Nicole stuck with paperwork
...is there some reason a lot of that can't be foisted off on Twinda?

At least Linda seemed to handle that well, and Nicole's okay, if a little disappointed. We'll have to get her some action later, though.

>talk about everything
Yup. Definitely a priority when we get back. We're not going to be keeping secret about what's going on with our close allies, and even if we're in charge, we're going to listen to the other's input and ideas.

>Rise took off on her own
Well... drat. That's what we get for being indecisive, I guess. Or deciding the tears were too important to ignore. Hopefully she'll be fine.

>and Linda too
...we put everyone but Elizabeth on assignment. Meaning we're either traveling alone, or with her. I suppose not exposing anyone else to the risk of unraveling has it's advantages, but sending people into danger solo still makes me anxious.

>Cass
Oh hey, we get to much around with the combat missions even though we didn't choose them. Nice!

>What do
Putting Chris with the sweep teams is smart. Not that you haven't had your own run ins with the fuckers, but she, better than anyone else we have, might recognize signs of hidden D7 operations. And that edge of picking up on a clue sooner might matter.

In addition to ranged and melee balancing, see if you can assemble teams to try and spread out coverage from warped and normalizing abilities. There's going to be fighting eventually, but it would be nice if we can catch the fuckers unawares.
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No. 552725 ID: d77784
File 138744258571.jpg - (50.87KB , 587x1000 , cool+anime+military+girl.jpg )
552725

"I'll take the perimeter. Chris, can you lead the team on the sweep through?"

"Understood."

"I'll go with the sweeper team as well. I've already got my lot picked out to stay behind. You can find little groups of them all along the main roads. See you on the other side, Cass!"

"Shut up and do your job, damn it."

Isaac leaves grinning, and you finally get rid of that uncomfortable feeling, and get down to business. You quickly divide up the group you'd brought with you, trying to spread out the ability to keep the weirdness seeming normal so that the normals don't start freaking out once the fighting starts. Still, there's is only so much you can do, and hopefully, Linda has someone who can do damage control.

Regardless, you have your chosen men, and you quickly send them out to go do what needs doing. Chris takes her's and starts off to do her end as well, which leaves you and two of your to head to the nearest guard post Isaac set up. Upon your arrival, you find it to be a street vendor, with a few tables set up for people to sit. You don't immediately spot anyone that you peg as one of Isaac's, but you sit anyway, figuring that here was just as good as anywhere else. The rest of your small group spreads out a little, most talking amongst themselves and leaving you alone. You don't bother paying them much attention, instead finding yourself bored with the lack of activity. Still, as you doze off a little, someone plops down into the chair opposite you, and you raise your head slightly to get a look at them. A girl by the looks of it. Maybe about as old as Elizabeth. She dressed like someone from the military might be, which surprises you. You think you would have spotted her before in those clothes.

"Your the one Isaac's interested in, right?"

You feel your eyes narrow before at the mention of Isaac. That was probably the last thing you'd have expected to come out of anyone's mouth at this point, and you hoped this was not going where you thought this was going. Unfortunately, reality decided now was a good time.

"I just want you to know, Isaac is mine, alright?"

Oh, look at that, the little girl wants to see who's got the bigger set of brass balls. Let's spin the wheel of emotions and see what comes out! What's this? Boredom! Who'd have thunk it!

"And since when did anyone decide that asshole was anyone's property?"

The venom in your own voice surprises you. The emotion you had just displayed was decidedly not boredom. Sounded quite a bit more like annoyance than anything, in fact, and you weren't quite sure where that came from. The girl, on the other hand, takes that as a challenge, and you groan inwardly at what you just set off.

"Isaac is mine. I met him first. I fell in love with him first. I know more about him than anyone else. I'm destined to be with him, and I'm the only one that could possibly understand what he's been through and done. I don't care what kind of bitchy, half-brained whore comes along, I will not give him up!"

"..."

You find your boredom quickly disappearing, being replaced with anger and... possessiveness? Jealousy? You aren't sure, but whatever it is, you feel the need to put the annoying brat in her place, and her juvenile attitude isn't helping you stay calm any. A few people from your own group are, to your growing amazement, making motions for the girl to stop, but she seems to be ignorant of them, or flat out ignoring deliberately, which does nothing to curb your growing desire.

This feeling, it wasn't unlike the anticipation before going berserk.

>>>Input Command
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No. 552742 ID: 293a2e

"First off, Issac came for me, not the other way around. Why that is, I don't know, you'd have to ask him."

"SECONDLY, we're here to take out D7, this isn't the time or place for a new little feud. We can settle this back home if you're so determined to take me down, but if we fight now we'll blow the mission. I've made a mess of things enough times to not want to do that again."

"And Third...Who are you, again?"
>>
No. 552753 ID: fd6ae9

>hopefully Linda has people who can clean up
I'm pretty sure we still have cleaner teams. Never did away with those. Someone has to normalize and clean up the rubble after bad things happen.

>teenage military brat love triangle out of nowhere
Geeze, and I was just thinking about how nice it was that the last love triangle pleasantly fell apart almost immediately.

>Diplomatic Crisis: Cass!
...although I'm sort of wishing I'd won that argument to invest one more point in will, now.

>This feeling, it wasn't unlike the anticipation before going berserk.
Well, obviously loosing control and beating down this brat is a bad idea. Both personally, in terms of the mission, and in terms of fucking up Linda's arrangement with Sonia's mercs.

But is this response entirely a bad thing? Romance does feel like loosing control. Something you have good reason to be cautious about, but... maybe if it's starting to assert itself that's a good sign?

>what do
...laugh? (Sort of changing the direction of the loss of control. Laughter's a lot safer a way to let this overwhelm you than anger).

I mean, the situation is absurd. You don't know anything about love, and you never wanted this, and now you're being confronted by a tiny-teen who knows even less than you do (are you really this far behind? You have to do actual bullshit teenage relationship drama?). And destiny? You know that's bullshit. Destiny says something like half these guys, maybe pipsqueak here and Isaac included, are supposed to be dead, along with Elizabeth, Raphael, Michelle, and who the fuck knows else bought it that night. But you helped Linda break that. Fuck...

And well, not taking her seriously, or letting her provoke the reaction she wants from you, certainly puts her in her place. (This is sort of ending up a strange laugh, half absurdity, half how fucked up things are, and a quarter mean, too).

Then I think while she's off guard, you calm down back to mean buisness-like Cass, and get into this stuff. >>552742 Who the hell is she, it's him she better bring this up with, and we're on a mission right now, brat. Which means right now, instead of doing your duty, you're trying to pick a fight with a superior officer about boys. Soldier. If you're going to wear that uniform, try living up to it while we're in the field.
>>
No. 552786 ID: 2f4b71

"So you consider him a piece of meat, unable to make his own decisions?"
Slipping back into knifing people up isn't a fantastic idea, but a razor tongue certainly seems appropriate.
>>
No. 552869 ID: d77784

For a moment more, you let the somewhat awkward silence continue before you finally grace the girl with a response.

"So you treat him like a piece of fucking meat, completely unable to make up his own fucking mind?"

"Wha-"

"Shut up and listen, brat. From what I can see, you're trying to be little miss soldier or something. If you going to wear the damn uniform, at least fucking act like it. We have a job to do. Kill a bunch of Division 7 assholes. That is the only thing you should be thinking about right now. If you really want to get into this, it can wait till we're someplace else. In the meantime...

"Go fucking do your damn job and get to guarding."

There's silence from everyone, although your group is mostly silent while looking resigned to your own outburst. You, on the other hand, feel smugly satisfied. You don't know if it'll get her to leave you alone, but at least you've let off some of this aggression. As you start to lean back in your chair, however, you catch a flash out of the corner of your eye, and instantly kick out with your leg, shoving the younger girl out of her chair and onto her back. You, however, turn out to be the intended target, as you feel your head jerk to the side before death. You wake a second later to find the area around you filled with screams, gunfire and the sound of an announcement coming over a speaker.

"-THE THREAT ! I REPEAT! A GROUP OF BREAKERS HAS COMMITTED TERRORIST ACTIONS WITHIN THE VICINITY! PLEASE EVACUATE THE AREA QUICKLY AND AVOID ALL CONTACT WITH THE THREAT!"

Assholes. They shot you first. Regardless, you drag yourself to your feet and manifest your chainsaw, taking a quick look around the area, your own group is holding together admirably, keeping themselves down and avoiding making themselves easy targets. The issue remains of that sniper, however, as they continually fire upon your allies. You note absentmindedly, however, that the main force assaulting you is composed entirely of normals, dressed in a rather cliche fashion of black suits. A shame, but they chose their own fate.

You see your own group look to you, clearly waiting for some more instructions, while Isaac's team sets about doing their business of killing. It seems you'll have to direct your own people yourself... you wish Linda was here. It would make this so much easier.

>>>Input Command
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No. 552875 ID: fd6ae9

Death number... who the hell knows, you lost count ages and ages ago. Assuming we started with a full tank, that and a manifest puts us at 30BP.

Good on you that your reflexive response was still to push the brat out of the way, though.

So much for the element of surprise, though. They found you before you found them.

>Terrorist actions
I guess just existing is considered terrorism now? (...which, ironically, would make terrorist leader Linda completely innocent). Granted, you were here to attack them, but they shot first. In more than just this fight- in attacking this city, and in coming after breakers in the first place.

Interesting that they don't even bother with demanding surrender, or trying to arrest anyone anymore. Even the faked niceties are out of the way, now.

I'd be tempted to wreck the broadcast, but we have more important things to worry about right now. Maybe we change it to say something else when we normalize the mess? "The only 'terrorist act' we committed was acting in self defense against the suits hunting us." Even if we can't hide the fighting anymore, normalization can still serve the purpose of cleaning up the collateral damage.

>all normals
A group of normals can't take a group breakers though, without a serious situational and/or numerical advantage. Which means either (a) the guys attacking you don't realize what or how many they're up against (and/or their commanders have no qualms sending them to their deaths for no reason. Possibly to drum up anti-breaker sentiment?), or (b) this is a feint or stalling maneuver. To keep you busy or distracted until the real threat (a subject, a tear, unmaker rounds?) arrives.

Regrettably, there's no way to know which it is. All you can do is be aware of the risk, try to wrap this up quick, and keep an eye out.

Oh, and just in case the broadcast and the news inspires any civilians to try and be a hero? D7 is the enemy, and gets dealt with as such. Any idiot who picks up a gun or kitchen knife or baseball bat instead of getting out of the way isn't. And should be kept alive if at all possible. ...although, let's not shout that and give the agents the bright idea to start dressing in plainclothes. (Although I suppose they can't hear well over gunfire, and we're clumped right now).

>what do
The obvious first thing to do would be to find a way to disrupt or disable those snipers to buy your people the room to act. The best way about that would probably be an active break of some kind (although our usual break the weapon tactic may not be as effective since Cass doesn't have Linda's affinity for guns. ...actually, I'm not sure what Cass' affinity counts as, post personal transformation. What would she be better at active breaking?). Obscure their vision (smoke, or fire?), collapse part of the roof they're on, make any chain on their person or weapon seize up, or rev up?

You also have that bullet blocking technique you've been working on, but you can only put a saw blade in so many places at once, and there are multiple gunmen. Still, that can be useful in giving someone else the cover or momentary freedom to take action. Or in keeping the enemy busy.

In general, the right approach is cooperation. People covering for each other, and buying them the room to fight back. If you keep your cool, and don't allow suppressive fire to work, a group of normal D7 agents can't hold up.
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No. 552880 ID: 59d844

Sniper's gotta go. Well, actually...This seems like an attempt to give us some bad PR.
Set up the D7 guys as fighting horrible monsterous beings that don't die, that can spawn weapons or transform into terrible beings...
And get footage of us at our worst.
I think what we should do is Active Break some cover up, so we don't have to worry so much about the gunfire. Then?
Search for surveillance-they knew we were here. Why, and how was that?
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No. 552883 ID: fd6ae9

Sidenote- if we do break in any cover- remember we're just trying to make life difficult right around where the snipers are. We're not trying to blind the entire area such that our own gunners will have trouble.

>PR move to make D7 [breakers] look bad
Yeah, possibly. Not much we can do about that at the moment. Although I'm pretty sure normalize can be used to wreck recordings, if they make any.
>>
No. 553014 ID: d77784

You briefly consider trying to guard on your own, but discard the idea quickly as impractical. You'd tire out long before anything useful could be done. Instead, you try something you hadn't for a long time. You tried blind breaking some cover into existence. Your will reaches out and smashes into reality, forcing your desires on it, and in the end, reality bends, at least a little. The ground around you seems to... lift itself, proving places for you companions to hide, although it could hardly be called ideal. Still, not bad for your first attempt. You could easily cover any holes. With no way to really strike back against the snipers however...

Well, you suppose that's what you had teammates for.

--------------------

You'd been following Cass' directives as quickly as you could, going through the first of the possible hiding spots of the Division 7 task force located in the area, when you'd heard the crack of gunfire and quickly identified it as being not from the casino you were in. Mere moments later, Cass' voice drifts over the radio, sounding just a little annoyed.

"Hey, Chris?"

"Yes?"

"We have a small problem."

"So I see."

"We can deal with the guys on the ground. The snipers though..."

"Understood."

You quickly turn your attention to the building across the street, another casino. Getting back down to the ground floor and getting across the street would take more time than would be advisable, and more than likely you would meet resistance in one form or another. There had to be a better way across. An idea strikes you, and you can't help but smile slightly to yourself. You turn to one of your followers, a bigger man you remember being quite strong, and decide to take a page from your master's insanity.

"You. How strong are you?"

--------------

"FUCK!"

Your chainsaw snaps across your field of vision, deflecting another sniper round from pegging the bitchy girl in the face. You were tempted to just let her die one, just to make you feel better, but somehow you couldn't bring yourself to let it happen. Those snipers were really starting to get on your nerves though. It had only been a few minutes since you called Chris is hopes she could do something. You'd begun to think that was a bad idea. Maybe you should've-

The sound of glass shattering above you draws your attention, and you can only stare in shock as you watch your companion literally sail out the side of the casino's glass windows, almost literally flying across the gap between the two buildings. Just as she appears to fall short, she blinks out of existence, and the sound of more glass shattering is heard. Suddenly, the snipers have a much bigger concern than you. You take a moment to consider making some sort of remark, then decide against it. You've learned it doesn't help, and besides, you've got your own business to take care of.

Your own group is already beginning to push forward, the more melee oriented launching themselves into the fray, while the ranged provided covering fire. Everything seems to be proceeding smoothly, until you men are suddenly pushed back, a flash of blades cutting down the first to reach the agents.

The person who quickly reveals himself is wearing the same Division 7 armor that Chris still wore. He held two blades in his hands, and the way he carried himself seemed oddly reminiscent of the way your companion moved. Still, unlike her, he seemed completely lucid and sure of himself, placing himself between your group and the surviving agent behind him.

"Surrender yourselves, breakers, or I will be forced to terminate your lives."

>>>Input Command
>>
No. 553023 ID: fd6ae9

>Chris has herself thrown between skyscrapers
>snipers versus the gunner's worst nightmare at close range
Bravo. *slow clap*

That's an interesting display of initiative and creativity, though. Put together with her reluctant role as a leader / mentor for her own squad, I think we're seeing definite signs of growth. She may cling to the master thing and discarding her past, but she's definitely more than she was as Subject 23. She's improving.

>You were tempted to just let her die one, just to make you feel better, but somehow you couldn't bring yourself to let it happen.
That's a good thing, really. You're putting important real-world concerns ahead of stupid pettiness, as you should. You're leading by example, if nothing else.

>Dual-blade D7 subject
>oddly reminiscent of the way your companion moved
...he's the third Muramasa sibling, isn't he. That's Jin. Although Cass probably doesn't know his first name, she's probably been made aware of Chris' situation (like Linda would never talk about it, and we do have her estranged sister hanging around).

>what do
Call him out on his name. Throw him off balance a little. And then inform him you don't recognize Division Seven's authority here, and no one's going to be surrendering. They're the ones disturbing the peace. (Okay, that's not how she'd say it, but I can't really parse that into Cass-speak myself).

If you can draw him out into trying to justify his actions, or defending or Division 7, or attacking breakers, throw the fact that his siblings disagree in his face. Or point of the hypocrisy in D7 creating him, if breakers are so bad. (...Cass knows about the artificially induced breaking, right? That must have come up with one of the group discussions with Linda at some point).

I doubt you can get him to stand down, but his whole style is about concentration and control. If you can make him confused or angry, it'll make him weaker. You of all people should know that.

>fight
Assuming he's anything like his sister, he's going to be fast. Luckily, betweem Aegis and Weapon:Enviroment you can throw your massive 20 str into block and to-hit checks (and he's probably got less than 20 finesse. Cass is crazy specialized, and he'd have needed to divert XP to weapon upgrades). You'll have more reach, but he can put blades in two different places. He can probably do that ridiculous anime cut through anything stuff too (although I'm hoping Aegis will allow you to stop his blades from cutting right through your saw like butter). The fact he doesn't have much reach will probably mean he'll be fighting close to you- which will give you at least one opportunity to release a blast of flame when he's not in any position to dodge it. If you need more reach, don't be afraid to throw weapon enviroment at him (although you should expect him to dodge or cut through anything that comes him way that way. It's just a means to keep him busy or force him to move when setting up something else).

Hopefully you can count on someone backing you up, and trying to shoot him while you're in his face. Linda and Tao may not be here but... (chance for the brat to return the favor?).
>>
No. 553043 ID: fa2b3e

Hrrm...Part of me thinks we don't necessarily have to beat this guy, only stall until Chris can get back from slicing snipers.
But yeah, >>553023
has the tactics covered, I'd say.
>>
No. 553233 ID: d77784

"Hey, Muramasa! We haven't done a damn thing to anyone! So fuck off, and leave us the hell alone!"

The man opposite you, who you place as the missing sibling you'd heard about, simply closes his eyes before taking a deep breath and settling himself. Then his eyes snap open and there's only an enemy before you.

"Then you will be terminated for the protection of the UNA and its citizens."

And suddenly, the bastard is right in front of you. Thankfully, you'd been training heavily, refining your new, defensive tendencies, and your weapon is already up before his blades ever reach your flesh, the sound of metal bouncing off metal sounding in your ears. Almost at the same time, gunfire explodes around you, battle between the agents and your own forces quickly resuming. You however, can barely spare a moment to recognize that fact, as you are forced to throw everything you have into defending yourself.

If Chris' speed is inhuman, than her brother's is godlike. Strikes come at you impossibly fast, and it's only your constant practice that saves you. You find yourself only having to enter your heightened state a few time, blocking the occasional blow that slips through your natural defenses. Still, you find yourself getting pushed into a corner, and fatigue is quickly starting to set in. Which is why it comes as a grateful relief when you hear the rattle of gunfire and your opponent disengages, dodging behind cover to avoid the spray of bullets sent in his direction. You glance behind you to find the bitchy girl, crouched behind a convenient bit of cement, some form of rifle clutched in her hands as she goes through the seemingly well practiced motions of a manual reload.

Huh. Maybe she was useful after all.

You take the opportunity to grab a nearby trash can and hurl it at your enemy before charging in behind it, but are satisfied when you find that you actually managed to clip the bastard across the arm, sending him into a spin. Your chainsaw rises to meet him, and he practically kills himself as the chainsaw rips through his flesh. A spray of blood covers your body, and for only a second, you feel a rush of pleasure before you manage to push it away. You will not go back to that ever again. Not as long as you can help it.

The man is up and moving quickly, and soon the pair of you are locked into your battle again. This time, however, he finds his attacks further frustrated by the girl behind you, who actively covers for you whenever she can. When the man tries to go for her, you always throw yourself in his path, perfectly willing to sacrifice a few deaths yourself as long as she can continue with her harassment. Still, even with both of you working in tandem, you barely manage a few kills against him, and your body is starting to protest the physical exertions your placing upon it. Which is why Chris' voice over the radio comes as so much of a relief.

"Sniper's have been dealt with. Further, the enemy operations room has been discovered and destroyed."

Your opponent seems to have gotten a similar message, as he disengages quickly and retreats a relatively safe distance. Those agents still alive after the tussle with your undying hordes(haha!) retreat with him, and you count with satisfaction only a handful still remaining.

"Looks like your done, fucker! Why not surrender yourself?"

"Division 7 does not surrender to terrorists. Gloat of your victory now. We will come for you soon enough."

The group turns away from you, but Isaac's group immediately begins assaulting them again. Still, before you can blink, something is dropped onto the ground, and a flash of light hits your eyes, blinding you. Moments later, sight restored, and the Division 7 group is gone. The bitchy girl sighs next to you, looking unsatisfied, before turning to you.

"This doesn't make us friends!"

"What doesn't, Anna?"

"Gah! Isaac!"

The man steps out from inside one of the casinos, looking tired, before smiling at you weakly. He's carrying a sniper rifle, by the looks of it, although you can't help but notice that Linda's is bigger.

"Well, Cass, we did some good work. There's just one problem."

"Yeah? What's that?"

"They weren't a lone strike team."

"O...k... What's that mean?"

"They were scouting."

"Scouting? Scouting for what?"

Chris' voice comes over the radio again, this time sounding much more somber than her usual voice.

"They intend to invade the city."

"Oh... Oh shit..."
>>
No. 553234 ID: d77784

Your journey northward, to the location of the unravelling event, had been uneventful, taking only a day by air to reach the nearest location that wasn't within the unraveling itself. Furthermore, thanks to your daughter teasing the strands of reality just so, your radio now reached your daughter, hidden safely away back at home. And ONLY your daughter. Not that it mattered, you were here alone anyway, but you'd have to remember to get that fixed when you got back. Upon arriving, it had taken another day to reach a small town just a mile away from the edges of your goal. Even from this distance, however, you can feel the profound feeling of... wrong... that came from your destination. Yes, that was the feeling of a tear alright. But something felt off about even that. Like there was a blemish on the feeling itself. Another one, maybe? You couldn't tell from here, and you'd rather not dive headlong into that without being prepared.

Which brought you to today, and further, the update you'd received by email. With a possible attack coming from Division 7, larger and sooner than you'd expected, it meant plans had to be sped up. The specifics were obviously not available(even the data the Doc had didn't suggest any of this), but that meant that preparations had to be made. Cass had elected to stay within Night City and help prepare the place as best she could, Chris staying as well to provide support. The others had already completed a number of their objectives, Aria having sent along that the fixer forces had been located, and that the plan was being prepared. Rise had given only a passing report, saying she had identified possible causes, but little more than that.

Which meant you had little to do other than start your own investigation, which unfortunately, didn't turn up much. You tested the boundaries of the thing a little, and to your surprise and joy, found that traveling inside the unraveling didn't seem to cause you any problems at all. The environment inside, however, was... disturbing, to say the least. Trees, rocks, the very ground, it was like everything was missing large chunks out of it, and the rest of somehow being slowly eaten away by something else. You'd retreated back to the town you were using as a base, and now, at dinner, had stumbled across someone you weren't quite sure what to make off. Or rather, he'd come and found you.

"Good evening, Ms. McCallahan. I admit, I hadn't expected you to arrive quite so... soon."

A man seats himself opposite you, a man you know you should have felt approaching and yet didn't. Your eyes narrow as you take in his appearance, his clothes immaculate and well made. He smiles at you, but for some reason, you can't bring yourself to smile back.

"Jean Bisset."

"Got it in one, Ms. McCallahan. I told you we'd run into each other again. Have you thought on my question at all?"

The man call a waiter over, and you glare at the man, letting your thoughts sort themselves before responding.

>>>Input Command
>>
No. 553240 ID: b56ea6

We don't know. If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say they're the result of either Watchers or Breakers acting at cross purposes creating a powerful tangle in reality. But that's just that, a guess, not something to base actions on unless situations force us to.

After we answer the question, I think one of the first things should say is something along the lines of "I thought you told... yourself that I'd only have to wait a few more days, for what I don't know, but it's been at least three months." What we've seen from him so far shows he wants us to be more curious about tears, and I'd prefer if he didn't control and dominate the conversation like he did last time.

I wonder if this is the issue he told himself(Or I think more likely a trace of Guy) he'd deal with so that we didn't have to. If so, he's, uh, not done a very good job given the time-table.
>>
No. 553249 ID: fd6ae9

>Can't cut right through your saw
Looks like Aegis held. That or he forwent more weapons upgrades in favor of stacking finesse.

He has good strength too, or more likely, finesse focus, if he's strong enough to keep his small blades from being wrenched out of his hands when they catch in the roaring chain.

...and depending on how literally you take some of those passages, he seems to have the same personal power as Chris. That's never happened before. I suppose it sort of makes sense if they share a similar perspective, background, and injury, but that still seems sort of odd.

>faster than Chris
No god damn honor matches. Don't let her challenge him one on one and surrender if she loses. The mission, and her loyalty to the group / Linda comes before personal pride (or honor).

>as she goes through the seemingly well practiced motions of a manual reload
Shit. She's normal? Or at least, that gun isn't a manifestation. Which may mean she's a non-weapon type using a mundane weapon (a la Aria) or some other edge case (like Isaac).

>invasion
They have the forces for that? I suppose if they brought in the actual army, they have the numbers and equipment to lay down a lot of hurt on a smaller group of breakers.

We're going to need that public appeal up ASAP. Next draft of the speech will have to address this incursion directly.

Basic response: try to keep civilians out of this as much as possible. Go to ground, and adopt guerrilla tactics. No prolonged battles where they can get reinforcements in and pin you down and overwhelm you, or tire you out. Hit hard and fast, and then get gone. Anyone who can active break and who has an affinity for guns had better pick up Linda's trick of breaking them (maybe Cass should try it herself, too). Learn hard on spirit powers when you can- use normality and warped for surprise attacks, and getting in to destroy enemy supplies and munitions and transport (that'll slow them down). Wreck enemy supplies fast with active breaks and get out (If necessary, allow Isaac to store away what he can on raids. Weapons for him and anyone else dependent on non-manifestations, and food and other supplies for your groups). The mission is staying alive and making things as hard as you can on the enemy.

>Jean
Sit down across the table from him. Full tea-time with Cthulhu again, here. What's he eating? (They need to eat? That's worth noting).

>Have you thought on my question at all?
How am I supposed to know what a tear is? It's not as if understand what a breaker is. Or what I am either now, for that matter.

All I've been able to learn for sure is you don't happen the same way we do (people break, but they don't tear. Tears originate some other way). And that you consume threads, which would seem to put you odds with almost everything that has different uses for them. (Especially if threads are a non renewable resource. That's never been made explicitly clear, but it's sort of implied to be that way).

You said before I have it in for McCarthy. And I do. Because he's a monster. But that's who he is, not necessarily what. You want to tell me why I should have it in for the rest of you? (How many of them are there?) Or what's happening, here?
>>
No. 553250 ID: fa2b3e

What a tear is, precisely? Hard to say. I only have you and the Demon to judge from, and frankly? Neither of you two have given me a good impression.
Now, what I've HEARD, is that you guys tear and then eat threads of reality, and I've seen the Demon unravel someone, so there is that. Beyond that...I don't know.
>>
No. 553270 ID: 2f4b71

>Invasion
Depending on whether D7-aligned forces have surrounded the town or not, we have two choices: buckle down and prepare to repel a siege, or break out and avoid fighting among civilians. Option two is tempting, but depending on how much of a hold D7 has on the regulars, it might just be giving them up to a worse fate.
Or there's Option Three: Break an evac route for the civvies (and breakers low on lives), and pull in more forces. Warp gates, rapidly-excavated Breaker-rail, whatever. Sucker D7 into overcommitting against a force far larger than they expect.
>Jean
May as well ask him if he's the cause of the unravelling. See if all tears share McC*****'s Machiavellian gloating streak.
>He's carrying a sniper rifle, by the looks of it, although you can't help but notice that Linda's is bigger.
What's that Cass? Size envy? Would be a shame if somebody went and told Linda...
>>
No. 553352 ID: d77784

"You need to eat?"

"No. But I like to keep the illusion."

He settles into his chair once he's finished ordering his food, and offers you a calm smile. You stare at him in confusion for a moment, then shake your head to clear it and focus on what you need to focus on. Namely, getting information.

"How am I supposed to know what a tear is? I don't even know what a breaker is. Or even what I am for that matter. I've figured out that you eat threads, which seems to piss off everything else that exists in reality.

"But before that, I thought you told... yourself... that I'd only have to wait a few days. It's been three months."

"Yes... well... the issue turned out to be quite a bit bigger than I'd thought. We can get to that later. What tears are is the issue you need to focus on, as that will tell you how to kill one. Preferably not me, but in the end, that will be up to you. Now, since you seem to have little idea as to what we tears are, I'll try to explain what I know, as best I can.

"To start, tears are not... real."

"I kinda figured that one out."

"No... even this body of mine doesn't... exist. Emotion, hunger, exhaustion, all of it is... a mask. A fake presentation to make ourselves feel more real. To make us feel more... human."

"You're faking being alive?"

"To put it simply, yes. We don't exist. Reality does not recognize our existence in any meaningful way. We can't even be creative in any real way. Humans, anything real actually, could come up with brilliant new ideas, create beautiful works of art, perform music that seemingly drips with emotion. A tear... can only mimic. I can copy someone else playing a song perfectly, but can't put any real emotion behind it. No one will have the emotional reaction that you are supposed to. Creativity and feeling is not what we are."

"Then... what are you?"

"The easiest way to put it is also rather apt. We are, Ms. McCallahan, black holes to reality."

"Black... holes?"

"Yes."
>>
No. 553357 ID: 88960e

*Shake head* But why would a black hole need to pretend to be anything other than what it is? If it's all about empty consumption, why the restraint, why the mask at all?

Why are you helping me? Why tell me any of this? By your own admission, whatever your motives are, they're assumed. An act. But something is motivating you here. And McCarthy's actions don't make sense without a plan, either. (Which would seem to involve Linda, free to do something).

Where do you come from then? A black hole would suggest something collapsed.

Try not to think too much about the implications of things that don't exist not having real feelings or personalities. That's a little close to home.

What do they want?
>>
No. 553358 ID: 88960e

Also: ask what happened (or what is happening) in/to this town. Or why it was so important that disk of D7 data didn't reach Raul.
>>
No. 553359 ID: fa2b3e

...Seamstress, hunh?
Tears, Weave. They're holes that must be patched, must be filled...I wonder then...
McCarthy. John McCarthy. He was born 52 years ago, and from when he was young he was quite the patriot, always looking to serve his country.
He had a seemingly 'sixth sense' for sensing when someone was talking about him, and who. With this sense, he wormed his way into the government, into D7, and slowly would use this 'sixth sense' and his wits to carve a path to D7.
That's who&what McCarthy is, or at least, that's who he will be once we break him into existance...That's perhaps the kindest way to destroy a tear. Break a new person into being, that overlaps and replaces them somehow...
>>
No. 553402 ID: fd6ae9

>>553359
You're proposing we try to stop him by making him real? By filling the hole?

I suppose that might work, but if his hate and apparent gleeful sadism was faked before, I'd hate to see what the real version looks like. And you'd be making him human just so we could put a bullet in his head.
>>
No. 553417 ID: d77784

"But why would a black hole need to pretend to be anything other than what it is? If it's all about empty consumption, why the restraint, why the mask at all?"

"I said the comparison was apt, not that it was exact. Our purpose, as you've so kindly pointed out, is not mindless. We all have our motivations, so to speak. Our physical traits, however, are very similar to a black hole. Even now, my very presence here is slowly eating away at the threads that surround us. Not enough to cause any lasting damage, admittedly, at least not without them staying around me for a few years. If I were to go active, however... well, consumption would because the least of our problems. Regardless, the mask is necessary because all tears, in some way or another, want to be real. Our methods differ, and our exact desires change, but every one of us wants to be able to do what you, and everything else real, can do.

"We want to exist."

"To... exist?"

"Yes. Even the one you call the Demon desires it, in his own way. Sadly, how he plans to go about achieving that I don't know. Nor do I know why he's so focused on you. Perhaps you're his obsession."

"Obsession?"

"All tears have one. Most of the time it is obsession with a concept, an emotion, a piece of artwork or some such. Mine is, was, breakers. Or rather, how breakers do what they do. I found out it is impossible for me to understand, even if I were to find it. After all, I'm not real. My obsession, so it seems, has changed."

The waiter returns, bearing plates of warm food for the both of you, and Jean tucks into his with gusto, his actions making it difficult for you to believe he is faking it at all. You eat a little, but find questions and thoughts keep probing your mind, disrupting any hope you have on focusing on your hunger. Eventually, you simply drop your fork onto your plate and lock your gaze on your uninvited guest, and, as if sensing your intent, he pauses in his own meal, glancing up at you questioningly.

"Why are you helping me? Why tell me any of this? By your own admission, whatever your motives are, they're assumed. An act. But something is motivating you here."

"... Ms. McCallahan. I am a young tear. A rather small and weak one at that. I can't tell you everything there is to know about tears, or even if there is anything more to know. But, despite my small lifespan, if it could be called that, I have done something that no other tear, to my knowledge, has been able to do.

"I tasted real emotions. I... felt... for the first time, what it meant to be angry, sad, happy, hungry, tired. Everything you take for granted, to me, was as sweet as... as... I can't begin to describe it, Ms. McCallahan. I can't hope to tell you what it was like, to simply BE."

The tear opposite you stares back at you, and as he speaks, you feel it coming off of him like a wave. Longing. He longs for that feeling again. You can tell just by looking at him. Still...

"That doesn't tell me why you are helping me."

"Because, Ms. McCallahan. Now that I am suddenly aware of how it feels to be real, how could I not help the one person who has the greatest chance of letting me feel that again. And... unfortunately... there's someone in my head that keeps nagging me to help you, and I find that it is extremely difficult to ignore. So, take my words as you will, at least understand that I have no intentions of going against you."

"... What's happening in this town?"

"The end result of a tear going fully active. Why I have no clue, maybe some mad attempt to become more real, or some such, but regardless, the watchers have done their best to contain the situation without causing issues. I've been keeping out of their way as best I can. I'd hoped to simply consume my errant brother before something like this happened, but you've seen how that ended."

"I see... you said that tears were not real people, right?"

"Yes. Basically."

"Then... if we made them a real person, would that-"

"You can't 'break' a tear. Not normally anyway. Nor could you really forge us anew, not without something to solidify the creation. I have a method for killing a tear, but... it is not pleasant. And a breaker would have to die in the process."

>>>Input Command
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No. 553420 ID: fd6ae9

>emotions aren't real
Which means they don't experience real fear. Which means the Nightmare wouldn't have been a way to deal with them after all. Oh well.

>how he plans to go about achieving that I don't know. Nor do I know why he's so focused on you. Perhaps you're his obsession.
...the Demon wants to take your wings.

>there's someone in my head that keeps nagging me to help you, and I find that it is extremely difficult to ignore
Guy? I'm kind of not sure why whatever's left of him would be pushing Jean towards that. It's not as if he was even aware of Linda, up until the end where he got sort of a much wider perspective.

>I have a method for killing a tear, but... it is not pleasant. And a breaker would have to die in the process.
...you use their raw reality. Take the stuff that makes them and use it to plug the hole.

(Assuming he confirms that as correct) Does the source matter? (Because the unmaker rounds are still out there. Theoretically, we could use the stuff in them instead of having to pull a Raphael or a Guy to get at some).

>the one person who has the greatest chance of letting me feel that again
And how am I supposed to do that, exactly? ...and for that matter, why do the observers have such a problem with you if all you want is to exist. I'd think they'd be happy to work you into the system, when the alternative is to leave you tearing holes in it. (Potentially opens up a lead in to what he said before about Elizabeth).

Where do they come from, anyways? If a breaker is the response to a trauma- the result of an profound emotional impact on a person... is the antithesis literally the opposite? The obsession- an unexperienced or unappreciated thing that calls someone into (non)being to fill that role? An impact that demands a person.
>>
No. 553557 ID: d77784

"...you use their raw reality. Take the stuff that makes them and use it to plug the hole."

"Raw... reality?"

The questioning tone causes you to pause, staring at him in surprise. It quickly becomes clear the Jean has no idea what raw reality is, but upon explaining the basics, the tear drops into thought.

"I suppose, if you had some, raw reality could be used to forge a thread for a tear, enabling reality to focus on them and recognize their existence, and therefore become capable of being killed... but raw reality isn't something you just pick up off the ground... hmm..."

"Regardless, no, my method does not revolve around this... raw reality. Rather, instead of making a tear recognizable, you simply... use something else to define it. Take the thread of a breaker and... wrap it around the metaphorical existence of the tear. Of course, then destroying the thread of the breaker takes the tear with it. Still, your way sounds much safer for everyone involved. Or at least, it doesn't lead to the inevitable death of someone else."

"You mentioned earlier that I had the best chance of making you... real. How am I supposed to do that, exactly? ...and for that matter, why do the observers have such a problem with you if all you want is to exist? I'd think they'd be happy to work you into the system, when the alternative is to leave you tearing holes in it."

Jean sighed as he sat back in his chair. You watch as he rubs his forehead, clearly thinking through something before he leans forward again, apparently ready to speak.

"Observers are there to protect the harmony of reality, or some such nonsense. To correct mistakes in the weave. Tears, by our very nature, are rather large mistakes, even I will admit that. It doesn't help, in any way, that tears are not meant to be real. We are not meant to be anything. To fill in something just to make us real would go against whatever ideals they hold. At least, that's what I assume to be their motives, I can't claim to understand them any better than I understand you.

"As for me... well, things seem to happen around you, in case you hadn't noticed. I think being around you has the highest chance of giving me what I want. Or at least keeping the Observers from coming after me."

You start to ask your next question, before Jean interrupts, placing his silverware down and standing, collecting his hat while he's at it. He pauses a moment, as if considering something in the distance, then frowns at nothing and turns back to you.

"Well, as engaging as this conversation is, I think it is high time we turned our attention to the matter at hand. Namely, dearest brother having a meltdown a few miles from here. I doubt I've gone unnoticed by now, the Observers do so love to stick their noses where they aren't wanted, but you I doubt they've seen as of yet. I can lead you to the center of it all, but I doubt we'll go in without resistance of any kind. Proxies are a tear's best friend, it helps us define ourselves, and pretend to be that much more real. I doubt my dearest brother has consumed his own proxies, unless he truly has decided to end it all.

"The decision is yours, after all. As I've said, the Observers are doing a rather good job about keeping the event contained, at least for now. It will probably be a few more months before the tear breaks through whatever barriers they have in place."

>>>Input Command
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No. 553574 ID: fd6ae9

>Or at least, it doesn't lead to the inevitable death of someone else.
Except for the fact we haven't found a non-death way to get at raw reality. It still kind of involves taking apart someone else to get at it. (Granted, we haven't experimented yet. Maybe there's a way we could build up a supply by taking small bits from multiple people over time, and letting them recover / grow back (assuming it even works like that), instead of taking one person completely apart all at once).

>Proxies are a tear's best friend, it helps us define ourselves, and pretend to be that much more real.
So control of an entire wing of a government, let alone major influence over a nation, must be a goddamn wet dream. McCarthy's made himself as real as he can, defined by everyone he controls, and everyone he's at war with.

>Contained tear, deal with?
Well, I'm here already. I don't much care if they've noticed me or not, and I think it's high time I had a turn sticking my nose where they don't want it. ...and this town is still supposed to be under my protection. I'm not going to go ignoring a problem just because it's tears and not breakers.

If the tear has proxies, this strikes me as an excellent time to abuse someone else. Full on stealth mission. We can enter hostile forces as a friendly, and then disable most the group before they have the chance to mount a serious defense. (Use some of that actual combat training to cold-cock someone from behind with a pistol-whip. Or there's always breaking out the shotgun, or using break-sight plus dual pistols plus battlefield instinct to walk into a room and drop everyone's BP to zero so they can't manifest). Granted, we'd have to disable the proxies quick before the tear sensed something was up, but I would think our non-existence would give them troubles too (he'll be trying to sense things that are real, or that are holes in things that are real. Positive or negative values. We're just... not there. Zero. No amplitude).
>>
No. 553775 ID: d77784

"Well, I'm here already. I don't much care if they've noticed me or not, and I think it's high time I had a turn sticking my nose where they don't want it. ...and this town is still supposed to be under my protection. I'm not going to go ignoring a problem just because it's tears and not breakers."

"As it pleases you."

You quickly pay your bill before Jean leads you once again towards the boundaries of the "torn reality", as he calls it. You quickly find that the closer you get, the more uncomfortable Jean becomes. Still, the moment you pass into the torn reality, he seems to relax with a sigh, although he glances back and frowns just as unhappily.

"What?"

"They sealed me in. How... expected."

"Is it that bad?"

"At the moment, no. I don't have a reason to leave. However, later on, when I do, it could become a problem."

"Couldn't you just... do whatever it is this other tear is doing?"

"He's significantly stronger than me, and it would take him months to eat away at the barriers. At my current level of... power... it would take me closer to years."

"I... see. I'll, uh... keep that in mind."

"Please do."

The trip continues on for another half hour after that, silence stretching on for quite awhile, before Jean suddenly stop and crouches down, gesturing for you to follow suit. He shuffles forward, up towards the edge of what looks to be the remnants of a tree line, and points out what looks like an incredibly intact cluster of buildings.

"There. That's where the tear is. Calls himself 'Holiday', although the why of it eludes me."

You ignore the man a moment, performing your customary task of manifesting your sniper rifle and taking a look. After a brief scan, you finalize a couple of things.

1) There's practically a small army inside, numbering somewhere between 70-80 people.

2) This tear seems to be hidden away underground, in a vault like room. You think. It's kinda hard to tell when things seem to be warping and shifting and tearing. Still, you can make a reasonable guess.

3) Security here is so lax it's almost laughable. Clearly, they aren't expecting anyone to actually get past all the shit going on around you.

"Well... this is... disappointing."

"Hm?"

"They have almost nobody on actual guard duty."

"Well, it's hardly surprising. Do you have a plan? If you require a distraction, well... I'm sure I could arrange it."

"Arrange it?"

"Consume a few of the guards. Draw dearest brother's attention away from you, so that you can do whatever it is you want to do. You know... tear things."

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No. 553797 ID: 3fc613

Hrrrm...
As nice as a 'distraction!' is... I feel like Jean here would be more useful as a frontline fighter, that we support via the sniper rifle.
But that might be me misunderstanding his powers.
This might only work for tear on tear combat, but it takes raw reality-the stuff that comprises threads, to plug tears right? Might be that by using a few of the threads he's eaten, Jean could plug the tear, if we can help him bust through the Tear's defenses and help wear him down.
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No. 553801 ID: fd6ae9

What kind of security are we looking at here? Normals, or breakers? (For a group of 80 that we weren't aware of before, I'd expect almost entirely normals). They don't appear harmed or affected by the enviroment? I mean, you're non-existent, that sort of made sense. Other people I would have expected to be vulnerable, unless the tear in there is shielding them (which raises a question- if we remove him, does that protection go with him? Do they all die when we deal with their boss?).

Did any of that actual combat training you did cover how to knock someone out? Being able to cold cock normals, if necessary, with a pistol-whip would be useful. We don't want a bloodbath if we can avoid one, after all.

If this 'dear brother' of Jean's is significantly stronger, how had he planned on dealing with / consuming him by himself instead of being overcome himself? It's not as if we brought raw reality (although maybe it's more readily harvestable here where everything is all frayed?), or like you have a thread to use (assuming you were crazy enough to go the suicide route).

...is Holiday going to sense you breaking nearby? Or Jean's approach? (Little vague on how sensory stuff works with them).

>Distraction?
(Let's try to avoid plans that include slaughtering, killing, and/or feeding everyone inside to a tear unless it becomes absolutely necessary. We don't know that deserve that).

If I want to get in there, I think I can walk right (someone else into one of the 80). It's you who are going to need a distraction or cover of some kind to get in unnoticed.

(What is our plan, anyways? First mission in a long time without a set objective. I guess we're trying to figure out what the hell this tear is up to, and/or why, and stop him and/or kill him if we need to? Honestly not sure if this ends in a talk or a fight. If we're accepting Jean's story, and that tears don't all deserve to be killed out of hand, that means we're forced to consider them on a case by case basis. And we don't have much to judge or condemn this Holiday for, yet. Or his followers).
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No. 553937 ID: d77784

While your training sessions with Isaac did inevitably go over methods of close quarters combat, most of what you focused on was how to bring your chosen weapons to bear when it such confined conditions. You had asked about hitting someone directly with your weapon, and while Isaac had pointed out that yes, you can do considerable damage that way, you could also break your gun, unless you reinforced the thing through reality. On top of all that, while it was possible to knock someone out that way, your far more likely to cause fatal injuries than you are to simply knock them cold.

Security, on the other hand, is difficult to figure out. Thankfully, Jean has been around for awhile, and easily fills in the holes you have. Most of those inside the base are normals. There are, however, 4 breakers within, considered the elite guard, or something to that effect. Everyone else involved is normal, or as normal as you can be while being the follower of a tear in the fabric of reality. As to why they remain still whole, it is likely Holiday is focusing on consuming the area around him, and not his followers. Eventually, however, he'll get it into his head to eat them as well. And yes, once he is dealt with, more than likely they'll be torn apart by the state of the environment, although whether that could really be called death is another issue. Which somehow brings another thought to your mind.

"Jean, how were you going to deal with him on your own without getting eaten yourself?"

"Tears, in our desire to be real, tend to mimic the real. I was planning on killing him in his sleep. He's quite obviously abandoned any pretense of being real now, so that plan is out the proverbial window."

"You mean... you were just going to catch him by surprise?"

"Exactly, Ms. McCallahan. Is it so hard to believe that we can be caught by surprise?"

"But you just said that-"

"But we pretend. Everything. Even those emotions that you humans don't desire, we want to be able to feel. So even though we can't, we mimic them anyway, just because."

"... Is this Holiday going to know I'm coming?"

"Doubtful. He's never even heard of you, from what I could gather. Doesn't know you even exist. Or don't exist."

"And you?"

"Oh yes, he'll know I'm coming. Even a tear as small as me is going to be felt. He just won't care to do anything about it. At least, not at first."

"... I see. I can get in on my own, but... well, I think your the one that's going to need the distraction. And we have to figure out how to deal with the bastard. I'm hoping to talk to him before hand, maybe figure out what he wants..."

"He wants to be real, Ms. McCallahan. The end goal never changes. Just the method... I would guess his attempt involves eating everything around him, in some vain hope that the more threads he's consumed, the more real he'll become. But if your so dead set on talking to him, that's your business. When it comes to actually killing him, though, we'll have to discuss it after he's been subdued. Killing him while he's active and awake is not something I would like to attempt."

You pause to consider everything, with Jean staring at the cluster of buildings, and you find yourself frowning. This tear business is... incredibly complicated. To the point you wish things had just stayed simple, with the one. But now you know there's more, and they all want the same thing... this is annoying.

"Mother?"

"Elizabeth?" You'd forgotten she'd modified your radio. It amazed you that this was even possible, although you hadn't understood a thing about her explanation. Maybe you should look into that with her next time. "What did you need?"

"You are hesitating."

"... Yeah, a little."

"Would you... like to talk?"

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No. 553985 ID: fd6ae9

>no Tintin physics
Drat.

>as normal as you can be while being the follower of a tear in the fabric of reality
Raises the question of how much his followers know what he is, or believe is going on. I mean, it's not as if the mess outside is hidden from them, but I kind of doubt they signed up for a suicide mission either. What do they think they joined up for? How complicit are they? (On the one end of the spectrum, they've been deceived. On the other, they're full on crazy end the world cultists).

...them being dead if we do, or dead if we don't is frustrating, though. Eighty people at once is a high body-count, even for us. (Possibly there's a window to do something after subduing Holiday, but before killing him?).

>But if your so dead set on talking to him, that's your business.
Not that we need to explain this in detail to Jean, but it's more a reluctance to let ourself be used again so easily (killing people on just someone else's say-so). Obviously we don't approve of anyone eating holes in the world, or leading large groups of people to their deaths for their own ends. But if we accept Jean's premise, and we treat tears as individuals, not as mindless things to be exterminated, then we have to acknowledge the fact we're assuming an awful lot here.

>discuss killing after he's been subdued, while he's active and awake is not something I would like to attempt
There's still the matter of subduing him, though. Which is hardly trivial.

>Would you like to talk?
...maybe. Yes.

(If and when it becomes necessary to explain to Jean who you were talking to). My little watcher, as you put it.
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No. 554111 ID: d77784

"... Maybe... Yes."

Jean raises an eyebrow at you questioningly, but you simply wave away the unspoken question. You can explain later, if he's still curious, but for now, you'd rather work all these things in your head out, and you can't think of anyone better than Elizabeth. Even if she's slightly loopy.

"What would you like to talk about?"

"There's a tear out here, and I have to deal with him. How is something for later, but regardless, it seems like I'm going to have to do... something about him. But... after talking with one, it seems like all they really want is to be real. To be something within the weave."

"So you feel like you must treat them as human then. With feelings, and wants, and needs. Like you would any other person."

"... Yes."

"I... have no answer that will satisfy that part of you, Angel. I cannot find it in myself to pity them, or treat them as real. To me, they appear to suck the threads of reality from everything. To destroy what is real, and accomplish nothing in the process. To me, they are everything that is wrong with the weave. That tear that is with you, the one who holds a piece within his grasp even as we speak, the one that calls itself Jean Bisset. Even him, I loathe. Even him I doubt I will ever trust.

"But I trust you, Angel. I trust your judgment, and your decisions. I believe you'll be the one to change reality, for better or worse. So I can only say this.

"Follow whatever you believe to be right, Angel. The rest of us will follow behind as best we can, as we always have."

"... Thanks, Elizabeth."

"Of course, Mother."

"Still, that just leaves the 80 people that are following him. I don't want them to die for no reason."

"Ah! That, I can help with!"

"Really?"

"Leave it to me, Mother. Focus on the tear, and I will do what I can."

"... Thanks again, Liz. Don't know what I'd do without you."

"Likely break reality again."

The line goes dead, and you turn your attention back to the buildings, mulling over Elizabeth's words. When she was talking about the tears, you'd heard it in her voice. Hate. Fear. Pain. You can't imagine what it is she sees around tears that causes those emotions, and you don't really want to find out. But you take her advice to heart.

Follow what you believe is right.

"Who was that?"

Jean's voice cuts into your self reflection, and you can't help but scowl at the man for a moment. He blinks in confusion for a moment, but you wave it away. It didn't really matter anyway.

"My little watcher, as you put it."

"Ah. The one who doesn't like me. Yes... well, I think I'll just ignore whatever it was you were talking about now. Do we have a plan now?"

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No. 554131 ID: eed384

Ok.
Our 'Little Watcher' is going to help out with dealing with the people around Holiday, so we can focus our efforts on dealing with him.
Now. I'm not feeling too happy about this guy going and eating at all of reality, but I'm going to practice plugging tears on him. Since the alternative... Is either burn myself out repairing him or using one of those breakers he caught to do it.
If we don't get raw reality on the way... Would it be possible for me to 'borrow' one of your threads to make him real? If I can pull that off, I can do you afterwards, and any tear that comes to me.
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No. 554132 ID: 2f4b71

If Elizabeth can deal with the bystanders, then we have no reason not to just head straight for the tear.
>Do we have a plan now?
"Do what I do best. Break things"
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No. 554136 ID: 0f1482

>I cannot find it in myself to pity them, or treat them as real.
Well, it's a lot easier from Linda's perspective. Something that just wants to be real hits pretty close to home.

Still, Elizabeth makes good points. Even if they might be pitiable or sympathetic in the right circumstances, that doesn't justify the damage they're doing. We can't allow him to destroy the weave or get mass numbers of people killed just because Holiday wishes he could be a real boy.

>Can't imagine what she sees
She could show you, if you really wanted to. Although I think I can imagine. It's a lot harder to be sympathetic when the damage isn't abstract- but something you can witness. A black hole in action isn't pretty. (Although- we saw the possibility for redemption in Cass, even when we saw just how horrible the monster inside her was).

>Do we have a plan now?
Yeah. We get to and deal with Holiday, one way or another. Everyone else is just an obstacle we need to get around. She's going to do something about the people, which means we're going to try not to kill them.

If Jean comments on how he can't really do that, or how his powers are kind of all or nothing (he's either eating someone or not) point out that Holiday is the only one in there who really has a way to permanently harm him. No one else can. Simply not being killable gives him all kinds of options without drawing on active consumption.

Specifics- Linda can still someone else in. The tricky bit is smuggling Jean in too. And then, of course, figuring out how we subdue Holiday when we get to him. (We discussed possible means to kill a tear. But not how to subdue one).

(I kind of suspect this will involve working with the weave, as the Warden said we could if we could see. Which will mean borrowing Elizabeth's sight at the critical moment, I think).
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No. 554309 ID: d77784

"Yeah. Elizabeth can do something about the everyone else, which means we are trying to leave them alive."

"Understood. No consuming and no going active. Shame really. Still, I doubt anyone here could really kill me. Except for Holiday."

"That just leaves how I'm supposed to subdue the tear himself."

"I would advise shocking his system somehow."

"What?"

"Pick apart his obsession. Find the flaws in his logic. Our obsession means everything to us tears. It is what we cling to. If you disrupt it in any significant way, we lock up."

"So... what is his obsession?"

"No idea. You'll have to figure that out on your own. Of course, you could also try shooting him till he stops moving."

"Thanks. That's very helpful. Well, time to go."

"Wait, you never told me the plan!"

"To do what I do best. Break things."

You slip out from your hiding spot and reach out with your power over reality. For a moment, you feel the presence of dozens of people, and you randomly select one and simply... step into their place. One moment they were they and you were you, the next, you are them. A minute later, you open the door into a main building, heart pounding in your chest. This is the first time you've used this in this kind of environment, and you were never good at faking things. Hopefully no one notices the difference...

"Beth! Hey! How the patrol go! I didn't even see you leave the party! EVERYONE! BETH IS BACK!"

Cheers erupt all around you, and you quickly discover that everyone in the room is drunk and partying. You find a drink shoved into your hands, but you manage to slip through the crowds and deposit the beverage into someone else's grasp. You weave your way through the groups towards where you remember the stairway down is, pausing only occasionally to greet someone awkwardly or deflect some question directed at you. It's not until you just start to reach the door that someone grabs you roughly by the arm and drags you into a nearby hallway and away from your objective. You curse silently, but quickly turn your attention to this newcomer, only to have your lips covered by someone else's. You blink in surprise, not quite sure what's going on but just letting them do whatever, until the person pulls back, revealing a man maybe a few years older than you, a look of confusion on his face. He starts to say something for a moment, then frowns, uncertainty filling his face.

"You are... I apologize, I thought you were someone else..."

"It's alright. I, uh, I'll just go then."

You slip away and start to head back the way you came, intent on your destination, before the man speaks again, halting your movements even as you mutter away some darker thoughts.

"You are... Beth, correct?"

"Um... yes?"

"You're not certain?"

"... More like... your question is a bit... uh... confusing... I guess..."

Great Linda. Let's just act like a complete idiot, not even recognizing your own name. Maybe you should have practiced doing this kind of thing more often. You probably wouldn't be tripping over your own words like a fool.

"Why would it be confusing? You don't remember me? You don't remember our promise?"

Oooooh shit.

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No. 554310 ID: 65788e

Drop it. Drop Sombody Else, right now. He's probably drunk, and he'll have a look of confusion on his face.
Say something like "Maaaybe you've had one too many?" Given the atmosphere and the name 'Holiday' I'm betting I know what this tear's obsession is, buuut we'll have a better view once we actually meet him.
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No. 554316 ID: 0f1482

>Our obsession means everything to us tears. It is what we cling to. If you disrupt it in any significant way, we lock up.
Huh. And here I was assuming Jean was Emily's obsession. But locking up isn't really how I would describe her reaction. I suppose we didn't really challenge her logic or blow her mind though, we just tried to keep it from her.

>Why would it be confusing? You don't remember me? You don't remember our promise?
...maybe I had a little too much in there. Or maybe I'm questioning how much I want to remember, right now. Maybe all this (the tear stuff around them) is getting to me.

Look, I just need some time to think, okay? We'll talk tomorrow.

Play the girlfriend with doubts- the one with the sad air who needs time and space to herself. Make it feel like it's about the situation or yourself, not about him, or something he did. Hopefully this gets him to back off and give 'Beth' the space she needs for the night. Don't overplay your hand though- breaking them up would be something of a dick move, and an altercation would be bad for stealth.

Muttering to yourself: even when I'm not me I still have to deal with everyone falling for me.

>>554310
I don't think he's drunk. He's confused because he thought he was kissing his girlfriend, only the kiss felt wrong, not like her. So he thinks he somehow grabbed the wrong person. Then he looks up, and it is her. Looks like her, sounds like her. Only she's acting really weird. So he's confused and worried that there's something wrong, or that she's blowing him off for some reason.
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No. 554425 ID: d77784

"Even when I'm not me I still have to deal with everyone falling for me?"

"What was that?"

"It's nothing... Maybe I just had a little too much to drink in there. Or maybe I'm just questioning how much I want to remember. Or maybe all this is just getting to me. I just need some time to think, alright?"

"Beth? Are you... thinking about breaking up with me?"

Sonnuva-

"NO! I just-"

"Is something wrong, Beth?"

Someone else comes around the corner, someone who clearly wasn't part of the festivities in the other room. You glance at him nervously, not sure what to do with more people showing up, especially when you were trying to keep notice to a minimum, and you have to bite back an explicative as you see a number float by the man's head. Damn it all, this was one of the breakers! Fuck! You absentmindedly note the number to be a 41, but that becomes the least of your problems. You hesitate a moment, trying to come up with something to say when you have no idea who this person is, but thankfully, your 'boyfriend' does it for you.

"Sully? It's... It's nothing..."

"It's clearly something, Michael! Come on, we'll take this somewhere else."

You find yourself effectively guided farther away and into another room, this one occupied by a woman, another breaker with a number of 35. You find yourself fidgeting uncomfortably as you sit in an offered chair, this Michael sitting next to you and the first breaker sitting in a chair opposite you. The woman raises her eyebrow questioningly for a moment but chooses to stay out of it for the moment, although it's clear her interest has been caught.

"Alright, come on, tell me what's up."

"Well, we were partying it up, you know, the usual, and Beth I guess managed to slip away without anyone noticing. Anyway, I guess she went out on patrol and when she got back she was looking a little down. So, I figured I'd cheer her up a little, you know, be there for her an stuff. But... she seems a little..."

"A little...? Beth, you feeling alright?"

"Uh... yeah. I just... I need to think through some things, that's all..."

"Beth, you're not really thinking about breaking up, are you?"

"What?"

"What?"

"NO! I just-"

"Hold on, this is not something guy's should be interrogating a girl about."

The woman interjects and takes hold of you, guiding you into a bedroom attached to the main room. She sits you down on the bed and retrieves from a cabinet a bottle of what looks like wine and a few glasses. Handing one to you, she fills both before sitting next to you, for all the world appearing like a caring older sister type. You glare at the glass in your hands, wondering how the hell you managed to get into this position, even as the woman starts probing you gently for answers.

"Alright. Now that we're alone. Tell, me, how are you feeling right now? It can't be easy, dealing with a new relationship so soon after your fiancé died."

For the love of-

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No. 554433 ID: 0f1482

I'm somewhat amused that our attempt to get back in the field doing missions and action has instead turned into doing relationship shenanigans again, for a completely unrelated set of new characters.

Kind of bad luck you picked one person out of 76 who's apparently close enough to two of the breakers for them to take an interest in your behavior. (I wonder if Elizabeth could help you learn to pick out threads that are more or less entangled with other people? Could make future stealth attempts easier). Well, that, or they're good with a large number of people. Either way, at least it shows they're not crazy nihilistic world-ending cultists.

The situation isn't all bad, though. This is potentially a chance to learn more about what's going here, or get valuable intel on Holiday (before talking to him), or to possibly learn a little about the breakers here before having to fight them (see a focus, or anything else that clues you in to what they do?).

Absolute worst case scenario, we're alone with one breaker we can quickly disable, and a second in the next room. That's half Holiday's elite guard you could take down quickly if everything went to shit.

I guess since neither of them made us, we can assume these two didn't have break sight, at least. Although, maybe if we Someone Else into a normal, Linda's number might be concealed by a passive normality cloak effect?

>Tell, me, how are you feeling right now? It can't be easy, dealing with a new relationship so soon after your fiancé died.
Answer honestly. You know what it feels like to have lost people you were close to- and to be starting something new with someone else. (Maybe it's not as raw now as it once was, but the wounds are still there, if you choose to open then). Just leave out the details, and the names. Let real feeling be your shield. Sticking to emotions also means you're not dependent on facts, names, details you don't know.

We can try to draw to draw information out of her in how we answer. If you feel guilty, or regret getting him involved, or what happened, or express any kind of uncertainty about what's going here complicating it, that may lead her to try and reassure Beth with the facts of what happened, or to remind her what they're working for.

Basically- let her have the emotions she wants to draw out from her friend. And let her give her friend the answers she needs in return.

Hopefully things will blow over, and for the investment of some time and uncomfortable manipulation of people's friendships, you'll have your cover and more information.

(Investments in will, don't fail us now!).
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No. 554449 ID: d77784

You know how to make this easy. You know what this Beth girl must be going through(or rather, what you would be feeling if you were in her place) because you've been through it. And as much as you hate to dredge up those feelings, and worse, voice them to someone you don't even know... You need to. You need information on Holiday, or even what's going on here. Or better yet, why. So, despite your misgivings and generally dislike for what you're about to do, you do it anyway. Still, you refuse to do this without draining the glass of wine in one shot, causing the breaker next to you to look rather surprised.

"I... I don't know... Part of me feels... broken... inside. Like... I don't know how to deal with it. I mean... It's just... starting this relationship, with someone new, is... I don't know, it feels awkward. Like they're expecting something from me, and I'm not sure I can deliver it. And hell, my last relationship failed before it even really... I don't know, maybe I'm just hesitating because I'm not sure how I want this to go. Do I want to try again so soon? And do I want to try with he-" Whoop. Almost slipped there."- him. I mean, it's fun, and I enjoy the time spent but... I'm not sure if I should even be trying right now. Especially with everything that's going on..."

The woman puts her arm around you comfortingly, or what is meant to be comforting as you find yourself thinking it's more awkward the anything. Clearly, however, the woman knows Beth, and has chosen to write off your stand-offish attitude to your own doubts. Or her doubts.

"It's alright. I understand. I used to be that way over Sully. But you gotta get past all that. Yes, you had someone special before. They were special. And they'll always have someplace in your heart somewhere. But you can't stay stuck on them forever. They're gone, and not coming back. I'm sure they would have wanted you to live your life to it's fullest anyways. No one who loves someone wants to see them afraid of loving again."

The woman stops there, taking a sip of wine and simply sitting there. You mutter a rough thank you, waiting patiently for her to let you go, or start talking again, but neither seems to be happening anytime soon. You wait a minute more before turning towards the woman slightly, not bothering to hide your confusion.

"Um... is there a reason your still...?"

"Hm? Oh yes. I was just wondering who you were, is all. Beth was normal, if I recall correctly."

You flinch at the mention involuntarily, but the woman's grip hasn't loosened at all. You smile sheepishly, a little uncertain about what you were going to do now, but the woman offers you a kind smile, clearly not hostile. Yet.

"Oh, don't worry. I'm sure our talk before was real. No one I've ever met can fake that kind of hurt easily. Just a thought, but who were you talking about before?"

"... Woman named Aria..."

"Hm. A lesbian?"

"Bi."

"Ah. I see. And the one before?"

"Are we seriously having this discussion?"

"... Yes?"

The woman finally lets you go, clearly not thinking of you as hostile, or at least, not showing it, and you find yourself slightly annoyed. You barely know this woman and she's digging into your personal, dare you say it, love life. Definitely not the person you would want to have this discussion with, if you were to have the discussion. Yet even with all her prying, you find that you still don't detect any hostility whatsoever from her. It's like she simply doesn't care. She seems to notice your expression though, and she sighs before offering you another kind smile.

"Oh, lighten up. Holiday won't mind another party goer. He doesn't really care about that sort of thing after all. Only things he hates are days without parties and his siblings, although he doesn't talk about them much. Too busy getting drunk. Said all this around us was the beginning of something special, a real party for the ages. Party to end all parties. Not sure what all this really is, but hey, he's gotta be real powerful breaker to pull this stuff off, right?"

>>>Input Command
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No. 554453 ID: 65788e

Party all day and party all night. That's Holiday's thing...
McCarthy, I bet, chose that name for a reason. He's clever. His Obession, is Paranoia. And he incites it in others, and we're his target. As a bonus, those who target him he himself can use his own faked Paranoia alongside his being a Tear to detect them. It's why speaking his name draws his attention.
But as far as Holiday goes...I think the best way to break him might be to talk about Cally, and use her as an analouge. No matter how great the party, how great the music...It's gotta end sometime...
I wonder if we could use Someone Else, and literally be a DJ for the party? Treat both Cally and Holiday to one last dance, before the music dies again...
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No. 554458 ID: 1e9bd6

Whups. Looks like she does have break sight, and someone else doesn't cover our number.

>Beth was normal, if I recall correctly.
Surprised she didn't push it, but Beth still is. The combination of real concern and empathy for her friend and her apparent apathy over where is is, or if she's all right is strange. (Maybe she doesn't actually know Beth that well, and likes to play the councilor / big sister routine with people? Might explain why she's still pushing you even after making you).

>You barely know this woman and she's digging into your personal, dare you say it, love life.
Well, to be fair, you tried to use your love life to trick her. You put it on the table, made it fair game. Not that you should enjoy this kind of treatment, but it's your own fault.

>Not sure what all this really is, but hey, he's gotta be real powerful breaker to pull this stuff off, right?
...so that's it, then. He didn't tell you.

He's no breaker.

When she protests or pushes you for more- you've never seen a manifestation. If he carries a focus, you should have been able to feel it wasn't attuned to him. He doesn't die the way we do. All his powers have ever really been good at is consuming things, unraveling. No static, none of the feeling you recognize. No number. And there's no injury deep in his soul- just an obsession. Sound about right?

Really, you've seen what he's doing outside. "Party to end all parties" doesn't set off any alarm bells in that context? There's only one sure way to end them.

(Assuming she says something along the lines of "you think he's going to kill us all?"). I wasn't sure at first. I'm a lot more sure now.

>>554453
Cally is... an uncomfortably apt comparison. Party till you drop. It's the same kind of self destructive suicidal play. Only she just made you kill her. Holiday's looking at a much bigger body count. (Although in his case, he may be more hoping that party till everyone else drops makes him real. He wants to consume the party when it's most alive, to make himself so. It's like an inside out suicide. Self-creative and everyone-else-destructive).

The idea of working her into this (somehow getting our resolution with her when facing down a much darker version of something similar) is appealing, but I'm not really sure how we go about it. DJ-ing would require us to play along, and I was kind of hoping to get through to this girl, rather than just playing along. (Although, if we want to go that route, she left us that option. Instead of trying to tell her what she's obviously missing about Holiday, we accept that invitation to be one more party goer). There's also the problem that using a Rave-Linda form around a tear takings away our nonexistence- instead of having no thread to harm, we're putting Cally's on the line.
>>
No. 554568 ID: d77784

"... So that's it then. He didn't tell you."

"Didn't tell us? Tell us what?"

"He no breaker."

The woman go silent for a long few minutes, and you wait, somewhat impatiently, for her to say something. After awhile, she stirs from her thoughts and frowns for a moment. Then she stands, stretches, and shrugs, offering you a lopsided grin.

"Oh well. I have no idea what to think about that, but I get the feeling it doesn't matter anymore anyway. Now then, as much as I hate to do this, I do believe Michael deserves his Beth back, doesn't he?"

You stare at her moment in disbelief, then sigh. You'd forgotten how much you hated dealing with people before you'd become a breaker. Those old feelings were starting to resurface. They were always so... unreasonable. Regardless, you drop your takeover of Beth, and nod at the woman, who suddenly seems a bit surprised.

"This Beth person should be back in the party hall."

"I... see... what did you just-"

"Doesn't matter. You won't remember it after awhile anyway."

"I won't... remember...?"

"Like I said, doesn't matter... can I get some time to myself? I have some things I need to... think about..."

"Of course. I'll be in the main room if you need anything. And I won't tell anyone about this."

The woman leaves, and you settle yourself and let what just happened sink in. It seems more like the woman just doesn't care much about her own situation at all. Or anything, for that matter. Maybe this Holiday did something to their threads after all? Still, it's not something to be getting worked up over. You've always been good at thinking up plans on the fly. There was no reason you couldn't do it now.

Which is why you found yourself thinking about Holiday and his seeming obsession with parties, and how you might "shock" that. Cally could do it, you were certain of that, but... Cally's remembrance was not "nothing", like you were. She was real. That meant Holiday could hurt her. Besides, you had meant to talk to her before using her again... maybe now was the time after all. Not like you'd find much better.

You take up the glowstick focus in your hands and stare it a moment before closing your eyes and reaching out with your feelings. For a moment, there's nothing, then the sound of rave music fills your ears, heavy beats thumping in your chest and sending boundless energy through your limbs. Your eyes "open", and you find yourself once again at an empty rave, Cally found dancing across the stage as the music plays. She spots you and offers you a massive smile before gesturing to you and shouting over the music.

"COME ON, LINDA! LIVE A LITTLE! LET'S DANCE!"

>>>Input Command
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No. 554603 ID: 1e9bd6

>Maybe this Holiday did something to their threads after all?
Or maybe it takes a certain mindset to end up following someone you know almost nothing about to an endless party in the middle of an unnatural wasteland. It's as likely to be a part of who she is, or what her injury was, as something he did to them.

A certain degree of apathy would gloss over what should be warning signs, after all. I doubt everyone here is messed up the same way, but for some reason or another they all let themselves get caught up. For whatshername, she just didn't care. Maybe Beth was vulnerable due to what she had been through, or was trying to escape. Whatever. They still don't deserve to be eaten just cause Holiday wants to be a real boy.

>you'll forget
Well, she's a breaker, so not immediately. Probably not before this mission is over, even. And will she remember her conversation with not-Beth, even if she can't remember what happened after?

>how to shock him
Well, Linda can out-drink pretty much anyone, and Cally can out-party. If we went out there, we could certainly get Holiday's attention. (DJ Winter gets an encore performance. Or actually... would Rave-Linda need her own DJ name, even if it's Cally guiding us? Taking charge of the party would get his attention, fast). And once we have it, Cally's basically the antithesis of what he's going for. He wants to use the party to make himself real. She's the one who lived it- until it killed her. The party to end all parties doesn't get him what he wants.

>Holiday could hurt her
If he tries, we drop the fusion, asap. Get her out of harm's way, and take the hit ourself. If we fail to get him to lock up with Cally, we're forced to fall back to shooting him until he can't move.

>They're gone, and not coming back.
Would it be easier or harder in your case, if that were completely true, you wonder.

>C'mon, let's dance!
Bittersweet smile, and then go to her. Give her one dance on the spectral stage before the song winds down, and you have to talk.

...I have a party I need your help to crash. Someone's attention we have to grab. Whose world we have to rock. But, first, if this is going to work, I think we have to talk. I have to ask you something I've been putting off.

Why, Cally?
>>
No. 554699 ID: d77784

You force yourself to smile, a little half-heartedly, before you scramble up onto the stage and take Cally's hands, letting yourself get dragged along into her energy and enthusiasm. Soon enough, a more genuine smile spreads across your face, and you dance with the woman for what seems like hours. The music dies away eventually, however, and you find yourself falling onto a couch you didn't remember being there before, Cally curling up next to you, her body pressed against yours. You allow yourself a moment to relish the connection before sitting up and growing serious. Cally seems to sense the change in you, and pulls away slightly to give you a curious look.

"Cally. ...I have a party I need your help to crash. Someone's attention we have to grab, whose world we have to rock. But, first, if this is going to work, I think we have to talk. I have to ask you something I've been putting off.

"Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why'd you get me to kill you, instead of asking me for help?"

The girl sobers quickly, her happy expression dropping to be replaced with one of distaste. She pulls further away from you and bounces to her feet taking a few paces away before turning back to lean forward, eyes locked with yours.

"Would you have?"

"You know I would have! I'd have faced anything you needed me to!"

"Yes, but could I do the same for you?"

"What?"

"Linda, you have people around you now that will do exactly what you'd do, just for you. But me... I couldn't do it for myself, much less someone else. I... I thought about it. Struggled with it. Could I give up fame, the spotlight, the heart thumping music, the chance at my dreams? All for someone else? All for someone better than me?"

"Cally, I-"

"Shut up! I'm not done! Linda, even if you don't realize it, you do things, and it makes people WANT to be better. To push themselves to help others. Hell, the organization you've brought into being, it's very purpose is protecting not itself, but its members. I... couldn't do it. I couldn't bring myself to care, Linda. About all those people you were, even then, working to save. You were always doing just that, whether by searching constantly for the most peaceful solution, or putting down an enemy that threatened the peace. I don't doubt you would have saved me, Linda. I don't doubt that given half a chance, you'd walk right now into the depths of hell to drag me back to life. But I'm not that good a person. All I ever wanted was my fame. And you made me look at the ugly side of myself."

"That doesn't mean you had to die!"

"You're probably right. But in the end, we live with our choices, Linda. Mine were mine to make. And weren't your fault..."

The woman sits back down next to you, forcing you to look at her for a moment, as she grabs hold of your head. She stares at you with an intensity you weren't used to, and you find yourself growing more uncomfortable as she continues to stare at you. Minutes pass by in silence, and then her eyes narrow and her pretty face is marred with a frown of confusion.

"What is this about, Linda?"

>>>Input Command
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No. 554735 ID: 1e9bd6

Well. That was not at all what I was expecting.

>Cally's ugly reason
It's not fair, though. It shouldn't matter if she was selfish, or that her motivations were less than noble. You shouldn't have to choice between your dreams and being better like that. Not everyone should have to be a big damn hero. One of the things we should be fighting for is a world where it's safe for people to live normal, selfish, petty lives. Where being a breaker doesn't mean getting caught up in a cause just to survive. We wouldn't have begrudged that.

...and you're really not helping now, are you, rubbing in how much a hero you are championing her right to go be her famous little self.

Although maybe Cally's right, partially. Despite our best efforts to try and make Sun City safe, we're moving towards a full out war. We wouldn't have been able to give her that kind of safety yet, and she'd be as caught up in this as anyone.

>"What is this about, Linda?"
There's a tear here. A hole in the world that wants to be a person. And he's got it into his head that he can make himself real through some big party to end all parties. And the best way I have of stopping him before a whole lot of people die for nothing is if we get inside his head, and I wasn't sure you could help me with that unless I understood what was going on in yours.

...or maybe it's about me. And that there's someone else who might be faced with your kind of choice about me.
>>
No. 554745 ID: ce2306

Whoa...Well...
I came here because well, This Tear guy? He's making the party to end all parties. Awesome-sounding right? Except...He's gonna eat that party, and everyone caught in it. I figured well...Remembering the Fallen with you would both amp the party, but also tell him, and everyone else that sooner or later, the music ends,and it's back to normal life...
I'm kind of worried about him trying to eat you though...I don't want to lose you again.
>>
No. 554847 ID: d77784

"Uh... Well... There's a tear here. A hole in reality that wants to be a person. And he's got it into his head that he can make himself real through some big party to end all parties. And the best way I have of stopping him before a whole lot of people die for nothing is if we get inside his head, and I wasn't sure you could help me with that unless I understood what was going on in yours. And... I was worried that if I couldn't do that... he might hurt you. And your focus..."

The woman raises in eyebrow in question, clearly not satisfied with just that. There's a long silence before the woman huffs in annoyance and backs off slightly, glaring at you some more.

"Linda. This clearly not it. Well, not ALL of it. You're usually not this awkward when it comes to possible life or death situations. So come on. Spill it. I literally CANNOT tell anyone else."

"......or maybe it's... about me."

That catches Cally's attention.

"Oh?"

"There's... someone else... who might be... faced with your... kind of choice... about... me..."

You glance up, your gaze having steadily dropped to the floor as you forced yourself to admit your thoughts, and find the other woman practically glowing with curiosity. Her face is literally inches from your own, and you find yourself resisting the urge to push her away, just from her proximity and intensity.

"Spill. Now."

"Uh... it's... um... a woman, named Aria. She's uh... been hanging around me, flirting a little, I guess..."

"And you haven't?"

"I... might've... flirted back a little bit... just a little..."

"Right~ Is she hot?"

"Wha- What kind of question is that?"

"IS. SHE. HOT?"

"Yes! Yes, she is hot!"

"1 to 10?"

"What?!"

"1 to 10?"

"Why are we even-"

"You NEED to talk to someone about this. You have to. Unless your little gang has changed a bunch, no one in your little band is really qualified to talk about this sort of thing with. Sometimes, Linda, you just need to let yourself be just a little bit of a naive school girl. Let yourself admire what's placed in front of you."

"You mean be you."

"Yeah!"

"You weren't exactly subtle."

"Fuck subtlety, it's overrated. Now then, back to the issue, 1 to 10?"

You pause, starring at the girl in what can only be described as utter shock. You realize rather suddenly that Cally, at least this one, is partially constructed from your own thoughts about her. So you must be filling in at least some of the blanks with your own assumptions about her. Maybe if you changed some of them-

"Ah! Focus! 1 to 10?"

"... 8... 9 if she wore something with a deeper neckline, she dresses too conservatively..."

"HA! So you do think about it!"

"I'm still alive, damnit!"

"Yes, Linda. Yes you are. And I'm not. And won't be, not unless you tear apart reality to get it done, and we both know by now what that does. I can tell you this much Linda, with absolute surety. I wasn't... unhappy... when I died. Sure, I had some regrets, or have some regrets... or something. But it was my own decision to die, and not your fault... well, okay, mostly not your fault. You were just doing what you do naturally, and didn't even realize it. I'm sure there are others, within your group and without, that are going through the same things, because of actions you perform without second thought. Linda, don't change that part of you. Keeping trying to help people. That's what you do, now. I struggled, and chose myself over being the better person. And maybe that decision wasn't necessarily the wrong one either. I don't know much about this Aria chick, but if she's facing the same dilemma as me, whether to let you help her or face her own past on her own, then I wish her the best in whatever she chooses. Of course, that's not to say I don't think you should try to help her anyway."

"Didn't you just say-"

"It's what you DO, Linda. Sometimes, whether they want you to or not. Still, we're putting off something that sounds fun. A party to end all parties, huh? Like hell I'm letting some upstart tear or whatever the hell show me up on what I do best. Let's go rock a party, and maybe get you laid. And me laid. Us laid?"

You can't help but laugh after that. Cally, at first so serious and sure, has devolved once again into her bubbly, music loving self, and you can tell, at least for now, that this little conversation is over. Still, as you feel yourself pulling back into the world of the living, Cally riding shotgun, you hear one last comment from the woman before you return completely on the subject of Aria.

"You think she'd let me ride shotgun while you were romping?"

-------------

Your eyes flicker open again, taking in a room you've already seen before. This time, however, your ears hear nothing except the thump of hard beats in your ears, interwoven with melodies and more beats. You stand and stretch your body a moment, before producing a hair tie from somewhere and tying back your now purple hair into a pony tail to keep it out of your face. Then, a slight bounce in your step and a half-crazed grin on your face, you slip out into the main room, humming along with the music in your ears, to find the two breakers from before, looking incredibly confused. The Michael guy has left already(you feel a shudder of revulsion pulse through you), but you pause a moment, contemplating what to do. You notice the woman trying to say something you can't catch over your music, and you slide of one earphone to facilitate actual conversation.

"What happened to you?"

"Rave mode."

>>>Input Command
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No. 554851 ID: 1e9bd6

...I have never been more okay with having a murdered ex-girlfriend as a spirit guide and life coach.

Seriously, how did we end up turning our fuckup into something so awesome. I'm kind of in awe here. Or I would be, if I wasn't laughing my ass off.

>You think she'd let me ride shotgun while you were romping?
...oh gods. Aria might even go for that at some point, if just for the experience. The Cally threesome is back on the table.

>I chose myself over being the better person.
That gives me a good idea for parting words, when this transformation is over. (Assuming things go well).

Hey, Cally? Maybe this way you got to be yourself and the better person, after all.

>Rave mode
Right. Holiday's obsession is with parties? Let's give him one that'll get his attention. You're turning this place up to 11.

Do this sun city style. The entertainers use active breaking to put on a good show? Well, none of them ever came close to having Linda's level of juice, or were as good at it as Cally. We can put on one hell of a light show, and then some. (Anyone will cool crazy ideas for the specifics? Throw them out. This is one time where practicality isn't an issue. We can go wild. Spirit 7 active breaking, and it's in-theme while we're Rave-Linda).

Start out on the dance floor amping things up, but make your way to the stage (or make a stage, if you need to). If you really want to get the party going, it's time for DJ Winter to put in an encore performance. ...or does Rave-Linda need her own DJ name? Even if we're learning heavily on Cally's skill, your dual-vibe is going to be unique, distinct from her solo act. (Drawing a blank, at the moment. DJ Angel seems too on the nose. Maybe something that draws on the mecha anime thing?).
>>
No. 554870 ID: ce2306

>cool crazy ideas
Break out the Rave-Light Angel Wings!
Callinda the Angel of Raves has arrived!!!

And I say that in all seriousness. I don't know if it should be a hologram or just there, in all it's impossibility, but rave-light wings that shine their light across the dance floor should be a thing we either have up throughout the party, or something we do as a finisher. When the Wings hit their expiration point (if they do have that sort of thing), I'm hoping we get to burst them into feathers all over the room.

Oh, we probably should do something sutble with the lights so Beth and her boyfriend get together and she can clear up the mess. I kind of wanna say something like break a message to Beth about using Someone Else on her and what happened during that time so she'll be willing to play along.
>>
No. 554997 ID: d77784

Before another question can get asked, you're already out the door and heading for the room you remember the party being in. Sure enough, your memory serves you well, and you find what looks to be a party. Your eyes take in the bland scene before you, and you can't help but feel like this couldn't even be called a party. Thankfully, you know how to fix that. A smile spreads across your face, one that you'd later be told by one of the party goers was a mix between insane and genius rolled into one. You let out a sharp, piercing whistle, the commotion dying instantly, before you raise one hand dramatically in the air and letting your smile devolve into a smirk.

"I'm crashing this party."

The simple statement is followed by a snap of your fingers. The results could hardly be called anything less than insane. The world warps and shifts around you, perhaps made even easier by the lack of reality getting in the way to tell it to stop, and what once was bland walls and bland music are suddenly a dazzling light show and pumping beats that get the heart pumping. A stage that may or may not have been there before is easily accessible, and you already there, fingers working magic as the simple beats are mixed with melodies and harmonies and sheer raw adrenaline. You find Cally leading the way far more than yourself, guiding you through motions your body shouldn't know but does.

That was just the first step though. The room barely contains a fifth of the people here. Definitely not enough. The room wouldn't hold the numbers you needed to entertain though, and one room wasn't the venue you wanted to play anyway. Another snap of your fingers, and with a burst of light a wall is suddenly gone, letting the party and music and the strobing lights spill out into the yard, such as it was. Within moments, more people are attracted to the sudden festivities, and you waste little time in convincing reality to have a good time. The yard, filled with nothing, suddenly IS the dance floor, panels lighting up to strobe with the beat. Tendrils of light(something Cally had seen done once by a street performer) snaked out of thin air, highlighting people's bodies as they moved to the rhythm. Soon, by word of mouth or word of song, the entire place is partying, drinking, dancing, singing, loving. Whatever it is they felt like doing. You were merely a facilitator. For the moment.

Still, with the party in full swing, there was absolutely no reason, at least to your Cally-drunk mind, that you couldn't let yourself have a little fun as well. Within minutes of getting everyone involved in the party, you hop down from you place on the stage, "acquire" something alcoholic and down it within seconds of retrieving it. The cup is tossed unceremoniously to the side and you slide into the dancing crowd, happily joining in. As you reach the center of the crowd, and idea pops into your head, and you hear Cally's ghostly laughter in your ears before you snap your fingers again, and pulsing, iridescent wings explode from your back in a shower of light and color, enveloping the dancers around you. Just like every other source of light in the place now, your wings strobe with the beat, shifting colors seemingly at random, even as get into the songs once again and start dancing. Cally's lack of subtlety in going after what she wants proves itself rather conducive to having a good time, as you spend nearly an hour dancing, drinking and somehow managing to end up with a hot, barely dressed woman hanging off you as you lounge on a nearby couch. Of course, that's when your attention is brought crashing down to what's serious, as the target of all this arrives. Of course, that does nothing to halt the festivities around you, as everyone is too drunk on alcohol or adrenalin to care. He spots you easily however, thanks in part to your wings, and makes his way over to you, flanked on either side by a breaker, 44 and 47 respectively. Still, your mind can't help but not take him seriously at all, even if you can feel how dangerous he is.

"Hello~ Can I help you with something? I'm a bit... preoccupied."

You fingers stroke along the skin of the woman sitting with you, causing her to giggle shamelessly, but Holiday doesn't seem to notice or care. Instead, a chair is found from somewhere and he sits, staring at you intently.

"Was it you who did all this?"

"The party was soooooooo dull. I needed to liven it up a little. You know, make it an actual party. Why, should I be apologizing?"

Cally's mindset distracts you again, mostly because she'd rather be focusing on the woman who's now kissing along your neck, but Holiday demands your attention, although you don't necessarily stop the woman from continuing what she's doing.

"No. I actually came to thank you. It seems you've done me a favor."

"Oh? Hey, whatever makes you happy, I guess. I just wandered in."

"Right. Can I get your name, sexy?"

That causes both of your joined minds to shudder, Cally because he's a man(or pretends he's a man) and you because he's a tear. You were not expecting that. Still, you find yourself mulling things over. The party was in no way going to die down at this rate. You hadn't heard from Jean this entire time, not that you'd expected to. Maybe he was waiting for an opportunity of some sort? It might be useful to distract Holiday and let Jean slip inside...

>>>Input Command
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No. 555071 ID: a576f7

Cally: EW!
Linda: Nooo thank you, if you're asking me out-you kind of rub me the wrong way, especially now.
Cally: I don't do guys.
Cally&Linda: But as for my name? Call me... The Angel of Raves.
>>
No. 555086 ID: 1e9bd6

Tsk tsk, Linda. After discussing Aria with absolutely everyone, you've already got some other cute little thing hanging off your arm?

...you know, maybe if even complete strangers and ghosts are telling you to go for it, you should. One date, months ago? Maybe you should make another move.

>took an hour
Huh, took him long enough. On the plus side though, we'll have regenerated most the BP we've spent becoming other people and overcharging that party.

>breakers, 44 and 47
So... not Sully or little miss apathetic relationship counselor. The other two.

>what do
This is what we wanted. We need his attention if you're going to get inside his head, and take him off his game by challenging his obsession. We also need to get him alone, separate from his guards- if we get him locked up but they immediately rally to protect him, it doesn't do much. That keeping him distracted gets Jean inside is an added bonus.

...that his attention has a sexual competent is unpleasant, but we can just not let him take things too far. Playing a little coy or hard to get has the advantage of maybe drawing him into saying more, to win us over. To possess, to catch the interest of, someone that so embodies the living vibrancy he idealizes. (And the more hung up he is on your Cally-persona, the better it's going to work when you challenge his ideas).

Play along, try and keep him interested, and talking. It would be real convenient if he says anything that confirms our suspicions he's planning on killing everyone. Also, we need to hear as much as we can get him to say- the better we understand him, the better we'll be able to challenge his ideas and bring his dream world down around him.

We may need to reassure Cally to keep things synced though- we're not going along with anything. We're leading him on, so we can break him.

>>554870
Totally should do the wings exploding into feathers thing if we leave the room or go anymore more secluded with Holiday.

>name
...why I'm the angel, of course. DJ Prismatic Angel. You can call me Linda, though.

(Refractive Angel? ...or is there an adjective that invokes both light and the crystal element of snow so we can tie it to the pulsing light thing and the DJ winter alias? Snow Angel maybe? Sort of symbolically making one of us out of or in the image of the other. And it might tie in if we let the glowing light-feathers 'snow' down, or settle on the ground to be danced through, after.

Names are hard).
>>
No. 555159 ID: d77784

"If you're trying to pick me up, no thanks~ At the moment, I don't swing that way."

As if to support that fact, the woman in your arms giggles again, and Cally keeps getting distracted, pulling your combined attention to the girl again and again. Still, the danger hasn't passed yet, thanks to the tear seated in front of you, who doesn't look the least bit put off by your dismissal of his flirting.

"I see. Well, always time to change that. Regardless, I still haven't heard your name."

"I'm the Angel, obviously."

"Angel?"

"Yeah, the Angel of Raves~"

Holiday blinks, then a pleased smile spreads across his face and he begins to laugh happily. Before long, however, his laughter fades away, and he turns in place to regard the party going on around you. He seems to get even more happy as he soaks in the joy that comes off the party goers like like from the sun, and when he turns back to you, he's practically ecstatic.

"You've really made this party quite a bit more lively, you know that?"

"Like I said, the Angel of Raves~"

"Regardless, I think this is the best outcome. With this, my plans can happen so much faster."

"That ni- Wait, what?"

Before you get an answer, Holiday reaches forwards and taps the woman in your arms, who instantly explodes into a shower of threads of varying colors, which quickly disappear into the tear's "body". His smile grows, but this time, you can see a hint of the insanity behind it.

"I didn't expect this much excitement and liveliness to occur so rapidly. And all from the influence of one person. I'll have your thread now, Angel of Raves. It'll make me feel so much more real."

The two breakers with him look utterly confused, like they weren't sure what just happened, but their confusion is short lived, as Holiday stands and seems to push his hands into them, sending them screaming before they explode into threads, once again sucked into Holiday. And after all that, no one else in the crowds around you even notices, their eyes too accustomed to the lights shows you've been putting on, their minds too drunk off the music and alcohol. Well shit. This could be bad.

You throw your weight over the couch as Holiday lunges for you, your wings exploding into a shower of light and "feathers" in order to hopefully confuse the tear, and all he catches with his fingers is the piece of furniture. You land on the other side and slip into the crowd, hoping to buy just a little time to think. Unfortunately, you feel that profoundly wrong feeling flow everywhere, and even the partiers are starting to take notice. One thing echoes through your thoughts as you analyze the feeling and realize something.

Holiday, in order to talk to you, must have gone inactive. This feeling... he's gone active again. And this time, he isn't discriminating in what he consumes. Thankfully, the two breakers you'd encountered before were a little smarter than their fellows, and it seems that the woman at least took what you said a little seriously.

"EVERYONE! GET OUT AND GET DOWNSTAIRS! WE'LL DEAL WITH THIS!"

People start doing what people do best, namely panicking, but you provide a little help by snapping your fingers and making the tendrils of light created earlier start pointing the way out, quickly clearing the dance floor. Unconsciously, you manifest the twin plasma rods, setting them spinning in your hands, as you regard your opponent. Your joined quickly by the two remaining breakers, Sully and his wife, with the man manifesting what looks like a baseball bat and a baseball, and the woman pulls a mirror from thing air, although she looks a little uncertain at what to do exactly. Both glance at you, as if expecting answers, but unfortunately, there's not time to give them what they want.

"AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Even with the party destroyed, even with all that gone, you still shine with life! Vibrant like the sun! I need it! Must have it! Must BE it!"

Well... that was comforting.

>>>Input Command
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No. 555207 ID: 1e9bd6

Shit. How many fucking people have to die just for being attracted to Linda? Poor nameless npc party girl. (The breakers at least chose to get involved with someone incredibly dangerous when they should have known better. She didn't).

Unless killing the tear means we could recover some of the threads he's fed upon? Or, at least the recent ones. Like, we grab those threads when Jean takes him apart, and then reweave them, like we did with Raphael. Only this time there won't be big pieces missing, burnt up breaking time. (We might have to ask Elizabeth to let us 'see' to make that work, though).

...possibly we could even get some raw reality for the doc to study that way, if we don't put those two breakers back together quite as strong as they were before.

At least that removed all doubt and chance of sympathy. He can't be helped. He's mad, and dangerous, and has to be put down.

>you still shine with life! Vibrant like the sun! I need it! Must have it! Must BE it!
Right. Time to break him. Talk to him. Try and keep him focused on your words while you spin your rods, so he's not trying to eat you or the others, just yet. If you have to, use your tempo shifts to protect yourself and the others.

Hit him with exactly what happened to Cally. Fuel your words with every bit of grief you felt over her death, and with every regret she still has. Gloss over her not-unhappiness, or the weird sort of resolution the two of you have managed to reach since. (So mostly honest emotion- but framed in a misleading way).

Yeah, that's me. Vibrant. Full of life. The life of the party, you could say. I loved it. So much so, that when I had to choose between being a better person and giving up the party, I chose to keep on dancing.

And you know what that got got me?

IT GOT ME DEAD!

(Start to let the fusion unravel, her thread to slip back away, as you walk towards him). I lay there on the dance floor, music pounding in my ears, as I bled out in my lover's arms. I expired. And now I don't even EXIST.

(Stand right in front of him, nonexistant, speaking softly). This won't bring you life, Holiday. It can't fill the tear. It's hollow. I'm in a position to know. This won't make you real.

...hopefully that's enough of a shock to his obsession to get him to lock up. And then Jean can walk up and consume him while he's helpless, before he can hurt anyone else. While he's doing that, call up Elizabeth, and ask her to do whatever she's going to do. And if she can let you see. (And then maybe try and snag and save the threads of those people he just killed. Maybe there will be spillover as Jean feeds?).

If this fails, we'll have to fall back to plan shoot him till he can't move.

>Hey, Cally? Maybe this way you got to be yourself and the better person, after all.
And I still want to use this parting line for Cally, especially after using her / framing her experience in a bad way to get to Holiday.

>as if expecting answers
Hopefully we can give them some, after.
>>
No. 555229 ID: 1e9bd6

If we need more lines in the middle, we could do a sort of I can't -, and I won't get to - (filling in a list of Cally's regrets). And neither will you.

>explain
I sort of hope at the end mirror girl figures out Linda had become the person she lost before, and that's what she was talking about, and comments on it, after the fight is done.

If not, we can explain ourself- you asked the one before? That was her. (One of them, anyways). I can sort of become other people, for a while. These guys though... they aren't people. They want to be. But they can't. And they do a lot of damage trying, trying to fill a hole without a bottom.
>>
No. 555461 ID: d77784

You feel it, a swelling jumble of emotions rising from you, and not just you, but Cally as well. For whatever reasons, your intentions seem to have been picked up up on by the ghostly woman, and she begins to channel her thoughts, her regrets, and emotions, using you like an antenna to put that much more weight behind the words you speak.

"Yeah, that's me. Vibrant. Full of life. The life of the party, you could say. I loved it. So much so, that when I had to choose between being a better person and giving up the party, I chose to keep on dancing. And you know what that got got me?

"IT GOT ME DEAD!

"I lay there on the dance floor, music pounding in my ears, heart struggling to keep time as I bled out in my lover's arms. I expired. And now I don't even EXIST. I'll never get to feel that life again. The vibrant pounding in my ears as the music plays. The cheers of the crowds as they gather to hear my song. The rush of adrenaline from stealing that kiss from the angel that walked into my life."

You hear pain in your voice you hadn't meant to be there, that certainly wasn't in your emotions. The sting, however, is, and you quickly notice that the lines between Cally's feelings and your's have blurred further than you intended. Still, by now there is little stopping her, and your attempts to interrupt the connection between the two of you, the let it fade so that you might be able to protect her precious thread, the last remnant of Cally you posses, are rebuffed by her emotions, which continue to rise as she warms to her topic.

"I don't know what it is you think you know, but simply partying till the end of time doesn't make you feel more real. It just fills your head with delusions and fantasies. I thought I could keep living like that. I thought I could keep on going as I was, and remain the same forever. But life doesn't work like that. The party, at some point, has to end. Or how on earth would you be able to have another one after it? How in reality would you ever know if you could top it, and feel the rush again, only better?

"This won't bring you life, Holiday. It can't fill the tear. It's hollow. I'm in a position to know. This won't make you real."

By the time she's done, Cally has somehow guided your combined existence to stand right in front of him, to stare a tear right in the eyes and challenge him to tell her she's wrong. For a moment, you feel his presence seem to rise up, as if he's going to rip her apart, as if he'll consume her essence, destroy that vibrant light she seems to shine over everything. Then just as quickly, it's as if that same horrible feeling is frozen in time, as if you can feel it trying to do what it wants, but somehow meeting a roadblock. You simply stare at him for a moment, as he stares right back, for a few minutes, before your Cally-infused mind decides this is both strange and boring. Your hand comes up to wave in front of his face, your voice conveying an almost mocking sarcasm.

"Hellooooo~ Anybody home?"

"That... Miss McCallahan, what happened to you?"

You turn and spot Jean, his hat in his hands, looking confused and mildly entertained. Cally hisses in annoyance, and you barely stop yourself from mimicking the action. Probably shouldn't be acting hostile towards allies. Still, you can't but express a slight disgust, this time at, to your eyes, outdated style of clothing.

"What the hell are you wearing?"

"Hm? What does that have to do with anything?"

"That's like... from the 1800's or something."

"Miss McCallahan, is that really what we should be focusing on?"

"Ah! You're right... still need a new wardrobe..."

"Later, Miss McCallahan, now to decide what we're going to do with my esteemed brother."

"Um, could someone explain to me what's going on right now?"

The woman, who's name you still don't recognize steps in, not really angry but not quite happy either. You consider for a moment that you should probably explain at least what's going on, but Jean seems entirely uninterested in the pair, instead striding up to his "brother" and examining him like one might examine a piece of art in a museum.

"Uh... well... uh... I'm trying to save everyone here, so... uh... actually, it's a bit long to explain properly. I could try, but it would take awhile... um..."

"Then... sum it up or something!"

"Miss McCallahan, what should we be doing? Do you just want me to consume him? Unless one of these breakers here wants to volunteer..."

"Volunteer? Volunteer for what?"

Oh god...

>>>Input Command
>>
No. 555472 ID: c7ab83

I don't like this...
We explain to that Breaker what we'd need her to volunteer for-no WILL manipulation.
If she says yes then we go ahead, but if she says no then Jean handles it...
Actually? If she agrees to it, Jean eats Holiday, and then we make 'Jean' into an actual person, if not a breaker in his own right.
two tears removed from the weave, and hopefully, a new ally gained.
>>
No. 555488 ID: b56ea6

... I kind of want to have Jean eat him regardless. Sending a message to other Tears that if you mess with us, we'll stop by and make you real is a bad thing to do. A very bad thing. Still, if someone actually cares for him enough or what his goals were before this to want to sacrifice themselves to make it a reality... I think Linda should give it a shot, because that's more in keeping with who she is, even if it's not the smartest thing to do.

>>555472
If she agrees to it, her agreement will likely be to make Holiday, the "person" she knows, real, not a blanket "Sure I'll sacrifice everything I am and ever was for any Tear ever"
>>
No. 555499 ID: 627d94

Oh, huh. I was thinking to drop the fusion so as the replace the thread Holiday was focused on with Linda's nonexistent one. Shock him by showing rather than telling- equate Linda's not being there with Cally's death. Looks like heartfelt words were enough, though.

>Volunteer for what?
Volunteer to die.

>"Then... sum it up or something!"
Holiday isn't a breaker. He isn't human. He's a tear- a hole in reality that desperately wants to be filled. And he would have eventually eaten everyone and everything here in the desperate attempt to do so.

We'd don't have much time to close the hole before he snaps out of it. And there's only a few ways to do so. We could tie it up with a breaker's thread- at the cost of their life. Or we could let another tear swallow the first.

>what do
I think the only real option we have is to let Jean eat him. If we're going to even think of treating tears like people: Holiday is dangerous and mad. No matter what sympathy we may feel for his desperate, misguided attempt to be real, we can't allow him to lead people to their deaths and recklessly tear reality apart. We can't contain him, or fix him, so we have to end him before he hurts more people. As for Jean, yes, he's a tear. His goal isn't any different, and we know what he's capable of. Letting him grow stronger could potentially backfire. But he took a big risk in trusting us, and so long as his desire to be a person means acting like a person, we have to treat him as one. The same rules we apply to breakers in our territory should apply to him- and so long as he follows our rules, we shouldn't kill him. (Possibly we should have a conversation about this with him before leaving- so long as he follows the same rules as we expect breaker in our territory to, we'll tolerate him).

The question if he breaks the rules just by being, harming reality around him, intentional or no, is a problem to be addressed later.

If either Sully or mirror-girl are dumb enough to offer to sacrifice themselves: Don't be stupid. You have each other, don't you? Don't put him through that pain / don't put her through that again. (Depending on who speaks up).

A possible third option would be to use raw reality. But we don't have any, and we don't know how long it would take to make some, if we can make some in these circumstances, or if it's possible to make without having to take someone's thread apart to do so (in which case it just turns into a riskier version of the volunteer-sacrifice plan).

Have Jean wait a moment. Activate your comm: Elizabeth, whatever you're going to do, it's about to be time. ...can you let me see?

Once we have View the Weave, if there's an obvious and expedient way to grab some of the damaged shreds of reality around you (without unmaking a person) and put an end to Holiday with raw reality, do so (I don't expect that to work, though). Otherwise, turn to Jean and tell him to do it. And watch. If we're going to make a final decision about we treat him (and the other tears) you need to see him as he really is, and at his darkest. Can you still see any humanity or feel sympathy when you see him as Elizabeth does? (We saw past Cass' darkest self and helped her. Is this something we can do with them / him?)

I expect Holiday's death to include some spillage- releasing of threads he consumed. (It's how things were described with Emily, at least). I think we should take the warden's advice- that we would be capable of working with this stuff if we could see it. Snag the (hopefully not yet digested) threads of Holiday's recent victims before they're scattered or Jean eats them, and put them back as they were. Put them back together, like the warden helped us do with Rapeal. (I'd rather not have killed someone else just for coming onto Linda. The two breakers I don't care if they come back normal like Raphael did, or full strength. They should have known what they were getting into). Jean gets the rest of the deeper snarl- the stuff too far gone.

>closing stuff
Parting words for Cally, will need to reach a final decision about / talk with Jean, and possibly help the survivors (we can invite them back to sun city, or offer to find them someplace if they've nowhere else to go).
>>
No. 555521 ID: 627d94

>>555472
>>555488
Uh, you guys seem to be under the impression we have a way to make tears real. We don't, yet.

Jean didn't explain the process of wrapping a breaker's thread around a tear as making a tear real- just grounding them. It defines them. Gives an outline around the tear- making them real enough to be hurt or killed- to destroy the tear along with the thread. But an outline doesn't fill the hole. The tear still wouldn't get what it was after.

The best proof that this method doesn't make them real: Jean gave us that intel, and he isn't trying to seduce or persuade or force someone into making that sacrifice for him. Instead he's following Linda, believing she's best chance of finding a way to be real.

So the choice is: kill someone to kill the tear (because we don't want to give Jean any more power) or let Jean eat Holiday (preserving lives while risking making a potentially unreliable and dangerous factor stronger). Personally, I'm of the opinion we can trust him so long as we understand him. So long as he believes Linda can and will get him what he wants, we can trust him to play by our rules. If he's given reason to believe otherwise though, he becomes dangerous again.

That, and I really have a hard time asking these people to die for our doubts. We came here to protect them.
>>
No. 555695 ID: d77784

"Holiday isn't a breaker. He isn't human. He's a tear- a hole in reality that desperately wants to be filled. And he would have eventually eaten everyone and everything here in the desperate attempt to do so."

"Wha- Can't we do something then?"

"Either Jean there, another tear, eats him, or one of us, er... you or.... Sully, was? One of you two would have to sacrifice themselves to kill the bastard."

That shocks them both to silence, minds trying to process information that they can't quite understand or believe. You take a deep breath before finally letting Cally go dormant once again, but before she's completely gone, in that half-state where both you and she are separate but not, you offer her a gentle smile and words would seem to catch her off guard.

"Hey, Cally? Maybe this way you got to be yourself and the better person, after all."

"... Maybe, Linda. Maybe. Stay beautiful~"

The ghostly Cally departs, leaving you once again your normal self, dressed in normal clothing. You stretch some of the kinks out of your body, some of those dance move Cally loved you were sure involved movements that resulted in your limbs bending in way that didn't seem feasible. Still, you didn't mind the exercise at all. It was certainly interesting. The end results though...

"Hey Elizabeth? You there?"

"Of course, Mother."

"Whatever it is you got planned, I'd suggest getting it ready. Holiday here is about to be dealt with."

"I... see... We will be ready."

"We? You know what, we can talk about that another time. For now, do you think you could give me your sight? I need to test something. Hopefully it'll turn out alright."

"As you wish, Angel... It is done."

A redundant statement, your eyes fill with the sight of those glowing threads, although you can tell that the power is only a piece of your daughter's sight. She's chosen to limit you somewhat once again. Why would she do tha-

You freeze in shock as your gaze moves over the tears. Or rather, where your normal sight can barely make out their physical forms. What you see with Elizabeth's sight, however, is far from what you expected. Instead of there simply being nothing around them, like you, threads weave and vibrate against their existences, but as they move away, the threads appear diminished. Less, somehow, then they were before. Glittering sparkles of reality seem to bleed off each one thread that even passes close to the tears, disappearing into the dark emptiness that the they represent, and just from watching, seeing, understanding, you feel something wrench in your gut.

Wrong. All tears are... wrong. In every sense of the word, they are wrong. They should not be. Should never have been.

You quickly separate the emotion from yourself, and realize just as quickly from feeling similar things recently that the emotions you'd just felt were Elizabeth's. Likely an unintentional bleed through thanks to you using her sight. It was likely why you felt such as sense of security about yourself when you'd viewed yourself in a mirror the first time you'd done this. Still, even by recognizing what's going on and trying to ignore it, some of it bleeds through. Even Jean, who you've chosen to trust, at least for now, feels so wrong every time he passes into your vision.

"Ms. McCallahan? Are you quite prepared?"

"Uh... yes. right. Prepared. Uh... do your thing, I guess..."

You watch, and begin to reach out with your senses, as Jean pulls off a glove in semblance of some aristocrat from the olden days, before his smile widens into something that can only be described as hungry. The view your borrowed sight provides suddenly warps as Jean goes active, threads that were once simply being corroded away suddenly getting pulled into him, the light of reality simply disappearing into a ever growing, ever gaping maw of sheer nothing. Then he lays his hands on his "brother" and it becomes impossible to describe. Nothing meets nothing, black hole meets black hole, and two unstoppable forces collide. And Jean, with his advantage, proves the stronger. Holiday, as if for the first time, begins to shed light, and you quickly reach forwards, intent on grabbing at what you hope are the threads he just consumed. The threads explode outwards before being sucked back in by Jean, but your grasp holds one, a single thread, pulsing once again with life, if a little worn around the edges. The woman who'd simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Part of you remembers her, remember things about her you can't have known. Her life is splayed out before you like a blanket, and you find you can see each event, each choice, each action that touched her existence. And then the pull of Jean's hunger snatches it from your grasp, like a fish that had wiggle free and followed the river's flow. You snarl in defiance, but by then, it's too late to do anything. You can only watch as it disappears into the tear in front of you, his nothing growing larger and more insistent. But something else catches your attention and steals your anger. As Holiday's nothing disintegrates, and more threads pull free, you glimpse something you remember, and feel something you hadn't thought to feel here, of all places.

Raw Reality.

You react faster than you imagined you could, reaching for it, hoping to grab hold, but Jean seems to be targeting it specifically. His hunger grabs hold and doesn't let go, and you find yourself having to release your hold on it or be dragged into the nothing. Still, the amount of Raw Reality inside Holiday was at least four times the amount you used when changing reality to kill off Marc.

Within moments, after that raw reality disappears into Jean's form, he goes inactive, that consuming of threads going with him. Now, he only nibbles at the threads around him once again. You collapse onto your knees after that, feeling suddenly tired, but you force yourself to stay awake. There are things you need to check on.

"Elizabeth?"

"The guests are fine. As are the remaining breakers. They are all being transported somewhere else. Only you and the tear remain... he is stronger, Angel."

"I know... I know..."

Elizabeth's sight leaves you, perhaps by her own choice, to spare you the horror she sees, and you turn you gaze on the tear. Even without her sight, you can feel his wrongness stronger than before as he replaces the glove on his hand, glancing around him as he does.

"And so ends the story of Holiday. Or the not story, as the case may be. Ms McCallahan? Is something wrong?"

You hesitate, questions flitting through your mind faster than you can voice them. You steady yourself with a calm, deep breath before letting your thoughts settle.

>>>Input Command
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No. 555713 ID: 0c2931

We shouldn't have told him about the Raw Reality, shouldn't we. Crap.
We've got to practice messing with the Weave more often after this! Maybe we could show Aria this and see how well she takes to it-she's certainly capable of breaking some impressive things into being.
>>
No. 555726 ID: 627d94

*Sigh* ...no matter how strong you get, you still can't save everyone.

>We?
I assume she persuaded the observers to help. This trap is theirs, after all, and I'm sure they'd prefer to save threads rather than letting them be consumed. Moving 80 77 people herself, at at long range, is well beyond the limits of what she should be able to active break. (I suppose it might be within the limits of a collaborate break? But those are risky in their own way. And I'm somewhat more comfortable with her working with beings we don't quiet trust than risking her life).

>you find yourself having to release your hold on it or be dragged into the nothing.
Interesting question: would that actually harm us? Perhaps that's pushing our luck, but if Linda doesn't have a thread, it would be hard for it to be damaged. Although, even if we could safely enter a tear, there might still be the problem of getting back out.

>Is something wrong?
*tired, only half sarcastically* ...you can really ask that with a strait face?

I don't particularly enjoy watching people die, and it being my fault. Let alone twice.

And Holiday's core. That was raw reality. Four times what it took me to break time. Four times what it took to cheat death, screw prophecy, and accidentally change myself. ...four times what it would have taken to fuck everything over if I'd made a mistake.

Forget about your tearing a black hole in the world and eroding threads, reality, just by being. That stuff is... world ending dangerous by itself. And I don't know what it's doing there. Is it what tore the hole in the first place (if we're using the 'black hole' model- you need a core, a superdense mass that supplies the gravitational attraction, something for time and space to collapse around. Is the raw reality playing that role? Too much reality collapses in on itself, tears a hole, and starts pulling more in?), or maybe it's something you make? Eat threads, digest them, get raw reality. But that's way more than you'd need to make one person. And if it keeps accumulating...

They want to be real. And they eat to try and get there. But I'm wondering now if that's what they're intended to do at all, if their desires don't lead to a trap. Holiday hoped once he crossed some critical point he'd be real but... I think something more catastrophic might happen. What happens if a black hole goes nova?

Jean's accomplished one part of his goal, at least. He's motivated us. We don't want to see more people die that way, we don't want to see reality continually worn away like that, and we certainly don't want to find out what happens if a tear builds up a critical level of raw reality.

Which means we need to find a way to give them what they want. Or if it can't be done, or if the price is too high, kill them trying. (If Jean objects or starts: hey, you want to be human? First step. You try for a life worth living, or resign yourself to die trying).

>after all the tear physics talk
...are those barriers still in place? You can't leave?

I'm expecting he'll answer in the affirmative, but now that he's stronger he could eat his way out faster. In which case we try to deal with that.

This prison has a warden, right? So Linda talks to them (through Liz, again?). They don't want to let a tear lose, but they're still ahead, overall. They traded one active tear who was going to consume a lot, for one who's currently restraining himself. Why force him to go active here and eat his way out? And they still need a permanent solution. You're their best bet at finding one. So if they want that, they should let you have him.

Think of it as parole.

>>555713
I think he would have gone for it, regardless.
>>
No. 555743 ID: 2f4b71

It sounds almost like tears tear off threads of reality and hold them inside themselves. They can't hold onto them, can't weave them around themselves, they just... collect inside but out of reach.
>>
No. 555798 ID: 627d94

>>555726
Slight issue with this is although we should be upset at what happened, it's kind of hard to (or we shouldn't) direct all that anger at Jean- it's hard to blame him for being what he is (he can't help it (even though he wants to)). Or for doing exactly as we told him.

Which means any outburst has to be kind of balanced so we're not blowing up directly at him / pushing him away (losing control of the dangerous monster we helped create). Not sure I got the balance right, there.
>>
No. 555822 ID: d77784

"... You can really ask that with a straight face?

I don't particularly enjoy watching people die, and it being my fault. Let alone twice.

And Holiday's core. That was raw reality. Four times what it took me to break time. Four times what it took to cheat death, screw prophecy, and accidentally change myself. ...four times what it would have taken to fuck everything over if I'd made a mistake."

"That bad, is it?'

"Yes. It is that bad. Forget about your tearing a black hole in the world and eroding threads, reality, just by being. That stuff is... world ending dangerous by itself. Reality ending dangerous. And I don't know what it's doing there. Is it what tore the hole in the first place, or maybe it's something you make? Eat threads, digest them, get raw reality. But that's way more than you'd need to make one person. And if it keeps accumulating... "

"Ah... I see the issue... and now, I have some of this stuff in me... how fascinating."

"I'd hardly call it fascinating. More like horrifying."

"Well, to each their own, I suppose."

"Yeah. Right. Regardless, tears are a threat. A threat that needs to get dealt with. We either give them what they want, make them real... or we kill the lot of them. No harm meant, Jean."

"None taken, Ms McCallahan. Just be aware that if it comes to that, I will fight for my life. Fake or not, I want to live."

"Fair enough. That barrier still there?"

"Yes. I could easily eat my way out, but something tells me you have other plans."

"Of course. Time to go talk to these Observers. Elizabeth, you there?"

"Yes, Mother."

"Think you can play go between again?"

"Yes."

"Alright. I'm headed for the edge of this place with Jean. Let them know I'm coming."

"Understood."

Experience Gained: 2
Experience Total: 6

>>
No. 555824 ID: d77784

You jerk awake for the fifth time tonight, head pounding as the voices come back. Talking. Shouting. Singing. Whispering. You know they are real. Have to be. But everyone else can't hear them. That's normal to. Everything is as it should be. You think. The voices seem to disagree.

I'm hungry, Mother.

Now isn't the time to eat. It's only two in the morning. Breakfast won't be ready until at least six.

But I'm HUNGRY!

Later, Levi. You can eat later... I haven't heard from Moth in awhile. Where is he?

That one is content to be silent until he is ready to kill. Not very intelligent at all, in my opinion. It's good no one asks your opinion then, big brother. Both of you should stop that. Mother will be unhappy with you if you keep it up. You are not wanted here, As. Begone from this place. Just because we don't have bodies doesn't mean we can't have our say in Mother's thoughts. Wouldn't you agree, Bel? Leave me out of your tiresome bickering. Always supportive, aren't you? Still, I'm the first one to notice that Mother could finally hear us. So why is it Levi got to be real first? I'd complain to Mother, but we already know she can't recall why she chose him either. As, for the love of Mother, BE QUIET!

P-Please! Stop fighting!

And just like that, as always, the voices are silent once again, their whispering just at the edge of your conscious. Over the years of hearing them, you'd identified, in total, seven distinct voices within your mind, each prone to different suggestions, thoughts, desires. All, however, seemed to bow to your will. The most vocal were Levi and As, although why that was, you'd never know. Moth had become much more active since gaining a body though. As if in reaction to your own musings, you pull the two dolls you share your bed with closer to your body, feeling an unnatural warmth from both of them. YOu draw comfort for a moment before you stomach growls, and once again, Levi demands that he's hungry. You consider ignoring him and trying to go back to sleep, but your stomach growls in protest again, and you decide instead to slide out of bed and silently make your way through the hotel room you share with your brother and that Aria woman. You didn't really talk with her, she intimidated you quite a bit, which made Levi uncomfortable and Moth irritable. Still, it comes as a surprise to find that very same woman sitting on a couch in the living area, lost in thought. You pause a moment, wondering it you'd intruded, before Levi's hunger drives you forward again.

She doesn't seem to react at all as you scrounge up something to eat, your brother well aware of your tendencies and having already stocked the fridge with snacks of all kinds. It's only as you finish your meager meal and begin heading back towards your room that the voices begin to get insistent again.

You have to talk to her. As! No one wants to hear your perversions! For once, Levi, butt out and keep your mouth shut. I should eat you alive for that! For once, Levi, I agree with the perverted freak. The woman is interesting to us. So many chances to corrupt her pure intentions. Hardly the most pure of goals, Mon. She is irrelevant to our Mother. Leave her be and get some rest. You will need it tomorrow, Mother. Oh? So even the ever silent Beel decides to join his kin? How delightfully unexpected. Stop your pointless prattle, As. Let's just all go back to sleep.... Much as I loathe to agree with our most perverted of siblings, the woman is someone the Angel is interested in. You and your endless desire to repay debts! She saved Mother, you insensitive-

You drown the voices out again, but pause in your journey back to bed, eyes fixing on the silent woman on the couch. She seems a bit... forlorn. Maybe...

>>>Input Command
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No. 555839 ID: 0c2931

Hrrm... I guess ask her what's up/ how she's doing?
>>
No. 555852 ID: 627d94

Okay, we have got to stop by and visit her head the next time we get a chance while dreamwalking. It's probably crazy fascinating.

>Seven
Well, that's a sort of a relief. It's only the seven princes of hell in her head that need letting out, not the whole key of Solomon.

I suppose my concern before that giving her a new avatar might have increased the burden or made it harder on her was ill placed. Because she didn't gain a new presence in her mind at all- they're all already there.

...did making two of them real (or more real) help at all? Do they bicker less, or put less of a burden on you? (Hopefully Mac turns up another avatar to use, eventually).

Does anything else help? (Elizabeth has her video games, when she needs solace from the weave). Do any of them push you into things besides Levi's insistence for food? (Could be much worse).

>repay debts! She saved Mother
Sounds like they slipped up, there. Have they said that kind of thing before? Ever explained what they mean? I got the impression before they've been keeping it from you.

>Aria?
Why should you be intimidated by her? Your friend, Elizabeth, was able to talk to her, and she's not much better with most people than you are. And you sort of have something in common. She has her own 'demon' on her mind, even if you haven't seen much of him. And someone Linda favors can't be that scary. (...or they all can't be that scary).

Forget corruption, or usury, or manipulative interest, or dept repayment, or whatever other reasons the voices are giving you. She's in pain, and not so different from yourself, and what have you to lose by talking to her?

Are you... all right?
>>
No. 556105 ID: d77784

You stare a few moments more before taking a hesitant step towards her. The voices in your head are suddenly silent, they usually are when you are actually talking with someone. Still, you can hear them whispering in the background. They are expectant. Other people always interest them the most. It's always been like that.

"Um... E-Excuse me. Uh... Are you... um... Are you alright?"

Your voice is like a knife through the silence, and you flinch at the sound of your own voice. That was a little loud. You hope that didn't wake brother. Not that brother ever woke up, even when you wanted him to. The woman seems to jump slightly in surprise, and half-turns to get a look at you. For another moment, there's silence again, before you see a friendly grin take its place on her face.

"Yes. I'm fine. I just have... a lot on my mind, is all. Many things to think about... Are you prepared for tomorrow?"

"Y-Yes. I think. Levi seems to think so anyway."

"Ah yes, you are an avatar user, like myself."

"Uh... yes."

"Quite impressive, that newest avatar of yours. Behemoth, was it?"

"Um... Moth doesn't usually talk to me much. Unless there are things to hurt."

"I see... Much like my own avatar, it seems."

"Um..."

"Yes?"

"Your avatar... I don't see him around much anymore..."

"Yes. He doesn't like the way my heart is going, I think. Can't say I much like the way it's going either."

"Your... heart?"

"Yes. It doesn't exactly move the way my parents, or my avatar, wishes it to, and I can't say how I... feel... about that. Still, that is hardly a discussion you need to worry about."

Ah, a lovesick heart. How... cliche. Beel, quiet! She's obviously broken up about this, if she's talking with an almost total stranger about it. Or maybe she's not broken up about it at all? Thank you for the lovely insight, As. I'm sure we all understand the situation so much better now. Is this pointless babbling necessary? It's not like we have any advice for her. Let's just get back to sleep and be done with this whole affair. Bel, we're going to be working rather hard, tomorrow. Please, don't remind me. The pointlessness of all that work is simply- Oh, you're just jealous because you've been stuck in here all this time, unable to do anything at all.

Um... what should I...?

Mother, you don't have any experience with that sort of thing. Any advice you give her likely wouldn't be helpful. Except you have me, Mother! I'm an expert at relationships! Dirty ones... Quiet you! I'm just saying that any advice you give would be completely inappropriate for the situation. Well it's still a whole lot better than what you might give her! I never said I was even trying to-

The mortal thinks to much. Not enough killing.


Moth? Moth almost never talked when it didn't have something to do with killing. Although maybe the discussion over Aria had annoyed him enough to garner his input. Of course, you didn't see how killing anything would make her mind up for her.

"Talking with your avatars, are you?"

"Huh? Uh... no, all of them."

"... All of them?"

"Ah! I mean... um... uh..."

Smooth, Mother. Real smooth. Not helping, Mon.

>>>Input Command
>>
No. 556114 ID: b56ea6

Levi's wrong. You have plenty of experience being pulled in disparate ways you don't fully understand. But ultimately
>All, however, seemed to bow to your will
and this doesn't seem to be the case for her. So look at what's different. She only seems to have the one avatar, and seems she's surprised for there to be anything else prepared to become another. Maybe, in a way, that's the source of her struggle. She has a second potential avatar that's been neglected. And that's led to her one running rampant, and ultimately dominating her life.
>>
No. 556132 ID: db7998

Huh. So Aria's more torn up over her internal conflict than the fact the time skip meant we didn't advance anything for months, or the fact Linda chose to go elsewhere this mission. That's good, I guess. Or at least, better than what I expected to be wrong.

>>556114
Ooh, that's a really good way of looking at it.

>... All of them?
...the voices have always been there. They haven't all found bodies, but they're all still there.

Maybe it's the same for you? Maybe there's a part of you you aren't used to listening to, or that's just speaking up now. Just because it can't walk around yet doesn't mean it's not there.
>>
No. 556368 ID: d77784

"The... uh... the v-voices... in my... um... in my head..."

"You have voices in your head?"

"Y-yes? Levi, and Moth, and... and a few others... I... uh... I c-can't really... um... really hear them right now... though..."

"I see. Well, I'm sure you don't want me prying too much into your personal matters."

"Um... you're... um..."

"It's alright. Take your time. We're in no hurry, it seems."

You pause, taking a deep breath to steady yourself. This was a lot harder than you thought. Maybe some people were just better at it? Still, you felt like you had something important to say, so you decided you were going to say it. The problem, of course, was actually vocalizing it.

"Um... m-maybe... maybe you just... um... m-maybe it's the same... f-for you?"

"What do you mean?"

"M-Maybe... uh... m-maybe you have... a-another voice, like me? Something th-that wants to speak... um... b-but doesn't have a... um... a body? B-but... maybe it... uh... it still wants to be heard?"

Aria seems to stare at you for a long time, simply taking in what you said, before frowning slightly as she tries to fit the pieces together. In the meantime, as if sensing a lull in the conversation, the voices come back, as insistent as ever, if a little less interested in helping the woman opposite you now that they seem to be catching onto your thoughts.

I can't believe it. Believe what? Mother... she wants to give one of those bodies to this woman! What? Ah! He's right! She talking about someone else's voice! That means- What does she need all of us running around for anyway? That'll just put more of us in danger. You're just saying that because you have a body, you cold-blooded glutton! Now shut up and get out of the way! MOTHER! YOU CAN'T GIVE UP BODIES LIKE THAT! WE NEED THE- Be quiet! What Mother does is none of our concern! She'll do as she pleases, and we'll give her our council when it's asked for! No! NONONONONONONONONONONO! I WANT A BODY TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO~

That... That was rather unexpected. Before you can reply, however, you find your focus on the voices interrupted by Aria, who seems to finally have put the pieces into place.

"You think... I have another avatar inside of me?"

"Um... yes?"

"You don't sound very sure."

"Um... I'm told... it can be different for... um... other... uh... people..."

"I see. Still, it is a good way to think about it. A voice inside of me, that maybe I'm trying to suppress, even without realizing it... food for thought. Thank you, Michelle, that was very kind of you."


You feel a little glow of satisfaction and warmth blossom in your chest, and you smile pleasantly at the woman. She smiles back with equal warmth, before turning back to stare out a nearby window. You pause for another moment before standing, Levi and Moth dragging across the floor behind you as you head back to bed without further comment.

----------

The next morning finds you nursing a cup of hot chocolate, the three of you(yourself, brother and Aria) sitting inside a quaint little coffee shop located in a more desolate part of town. You'd tracked the ambushes to this area, likely used to avoid having to drag in civilians. Even the fixers didn't want to draw attention to themselves, especially with D7 on the loose.

"Are you ready, Michelle?"

"Hm? Oh! Uh, yes."

"Alright. I'll go over the plan once more. I'll go out in my child form and lure them out while you find a good place to hide. Once I've got them, I'll lure them to wherever you are, and you can unleash Leviathan and Behemoth on them. That should clear that up nicely. The Snake and his followers can then deal with anyone that tries to escape, as well as ward away any civilians."

"R-right!"

"Are you sure you have nothing to add?"

You pause again, the voices in your head silent. This was not the time for chatter. Moth was rumbling in your skull, and you could feel Levi's hunger beginning to grow. Still... was there anything else to add? And where should you go to hide?

>>>Input Command
>>
No. 556384 ID: 834ce6

Where to hide where to hide...
Perferably? Someplace big, where Moth and Levi can move without encum...Actually, ask them. Where would they like to fight? And from there, pick a hiding spot around that.
>>
No. 556389 ID: db7998

Haha. Wow. We really pissed them off with that idea.

How far to take the idea is kind of up in the air, though. I mean, Michelle obviously has personalities waiting for bodies, and it's likely there's a part of Aria she hasn't been listening too. If it needs a literal external manifestation for her to deal with it is the real question. And then there's the mater if a new avatar would draw on that impulse at all (or just tie back to the original injury and 'leash'), and if it did, would making it sapient change it significantly?

Michelle has the considerable advantage of knowing in advance who she's going to get if she repeats avatar creation. Anyone else might have to worry about the consequences of further fragmenting their mind, or introducing a new personality to the mix.

Of course, it's all a moot point until Mac finds another avatar to trade for, or we take one in battle.

>plans
If it's an ambush, I think the best tactic would be to open with Moth. Charge right in, and possibly open with flames of hell (blowing up everyone around Aria, leaving her unharmed. Possibly, since the ability specifically only targets enemies (awful discriminating for hell) it could even be used to separate enemies from civilians). Then when they start trying to fall back or regroup Levi suddenly appears on the other side.

Michelle has warped reality, which means the battle should be hidden from normals. Which means it won't draw anyone's attention or cause a panic, although Mike's guys might still have to stop civilians from wandering in.

>>556384
This is probably the best idea, we pick an arena for the fight first, somewhere big enough for them to let loose (and where keeping the sun city civilians out of the way won't be too difficult) and then find a hiding spot.

Warped reality means we might be able to make ourself more secure, since she could walk right past locked doors and security systems, and normality means we can walk right past human obstacles. Meaning we could put Michelle in someplace reasonably secure- not where a fixer couldn't get in, but where brute forcing going through after her would set off alarms and give her warning. (Like a secure office building for a company or law firm overlooking an open space? If the windows are tinted or reflective the right way, the baddies won't even see us watching from a few floors up).

Tricky bit might be finding a place with enough space for this kind of fight in daylight that won't be filled with civilians. (Which might be easier with an indoor space, actually. Although that rules out the overlooking building hiding option. Suppose it depends on what we can find). Can we rely on Michelle's familiarity with the city to pick a good place? She is from here.

Not sure if a dance for two differentiates between breakers and their avatars. In the most generous interpretation, if Aria's applying that boost to Michelle, both Levi and Moth reap the benefits. In the less generous interpretation, Aria could only boost one of Michelle / Golem / Levi / Moth at a time.
>>
No. 558075 ID: d77784

You shake your head, already understanding your own part to play, and the three of you head out together, strolling along the streets as your own eyes dart around, looking for a good place for Levi and Moth to fight. Eventually, you find one, an open factory container yard. While the amount of damage to the property is probably going to be quite a bit, you've been assured by Aria that Linda won't mind much. That's enough for you, and you double check with Levi and Moth to find them in agreement. The more space they have, the more damage that can be done. You make your way to a good place to hide yourself away, then pull the two dolls close to you, feeling the warmth they exude. Your brother opts to remain close by, while Aria slips away only to return a few moments later as a much younger girl. She smiles at you with childlike glee, apparently very used to her chosen role.

"You ready?"

"Um... yes."

"Alright. I'll be back later!"

Aria disappears again, and you settle onto a nearby crate, kicking your feet back and forth idly as the voices start to act up in your head again.

This is boring. Hardly our fault. Yes, but unlike you, Levi, I'll still be bored when the enemy gets here. Quiet! You'll get your fun some other time! I'll never have any fun if I never get a body. Is this really the time to be discussing this? When else are we going to talk about it? Oh, I don't know... when Mother isn't in any danger? Like that'll ever happen. She's the Mother of all demons. When will she ever not be in any danger? When we cleanse this world of anything that seeks to harm her. And how will we know who wants to harm Mother? Linda doesn't. Yes, Levi, we know you favor the angel, even if she smells horrid. She's got a smokin body though! And there's another helpful comment from the Prince of Perversion. Lust, thank you very much. Same thing.

The rattle of gunfire distracts you from your inner demons, and you get off your crate to sneak a look out of a window. You spot little Aria darting between down below you, and a moment passes before you catch sight of the first of her pursuers. The man is massive, larger than anyone you'd ever met before, and you can't help but shudder. The thing looked a little like Moth, only less like a wolf and more like a bull. The only reason you could even tell it was a man was the rather large... um... You cut yourself off from those thoughts, instead focusing on something else. Something like Moth being bigger and meaner.

"Moth?"

A rumble of something very angry echoes within your mind, and for a moment, you feel yourself smile. Moth was going to have fun. What a good boy. You toss Moth's doll out the window gently, and watch the doll descend to the streets below. And then, a tug of your will and a moment of time, and something very angry and very destructive was unleashed upon the yard. The rumble you'd felt within yourself was suddenly felt across the entire yard, and the bull-man halted in his charge, nervously glancing around. Bad idea.

The Prince of Wrath bursts through a container just to the right of the bull-man, and the two of them smash through another set of containers before sliding to a halt opposite each other. Moth roars a challenge, and the bull-man, perhaps more human than it's adversary, simply takes a step back, obviously intimidated. Moth will not let his challenge remain unanswered however. Not against an opponent like that. The demon charges once again, and the bull-man can't do anything but meet the charge head on, strength versus strength.

Gunfire once again grabs your attention, and you spot Aria, her child form dropped in exchange for her adult one, avatar guarding her back as she resolutely faces her opponents. The first is the source of the gunfire, a normal-ish looking man with a rifle of some kind in his hands. Further along, you spot another person, holding back from the main area a little, who appears to be dressed in what you think is a dress. At least... it looks like a dress? You can't really tell from here, but you assume it's a dress.

"Hold it right there! We're going to need to you to hand over any foci you have on you!"

"Do you? And why should I?"

"We won't hesitate to harm you, Miss! Just give us the foci, and everyone can go their separate ways!"

"Luke? Warren is missing."

"What do you mean, he's missi-"

The bull-man bursts through a nearby container smashing into the ground heavily. He's bleeding badly, but still manages to pull himself to his feet as his allies circle him protectively. Moth rumbles into the open space as well, shoving aside the remnants of the container, before settling on all fours and glaring at the enemies before him.

"What the hell is THAT!?"

"Don't know."

"That? A friend of mine. See, we've heard about your... activities... and feel the need to make them stop. To be completely honest with you, I could care less what actually happens to you, but as it turns out, a woman I'm rather infatuated with doesn't like that sort of thing, so I think we'll have to settle with simply making you powerless. So, would you like to surrender now, or...?"

Without warning, the man opens fire on Aria, but Golem interposes himself between him and her, and bullets ricochet off his armor. Moth reacts by hurling himself at the group, but the bull-man, while injured, is far from out of the fight, and charges at the demon, pushing him to the side and wrestling him to the ground. The bull-man is quickly aided by the third person, which turns out to be a girl dressed in plain looking clothes. At least, until her arm begins to shift, turning itself into a massive hammer like fist, which she uses to smash into the demon form of Moth. You toss push your will out again, summoning Levi, but you notice quickly that Aria is effectively pinned, Golem unable or unwilling to risk his mistress against the hail of gunfire being unloaded into him. Moth could likely deal with the bull-man by himself, easily, but with the two, they're driving him back.

And you can sense others. The whispers of Levi's voice in your mind call to you, as his body slithers just beneath the surface, waiting. Hungry. Ready to consume. There are other nearby, that have the smell of someone... good. Someone that feels... wrong... to the demon somehow.

You hesitate, unsure of who to help, and how, even as you notice your brother suddenly appear next to your side, drawing a pistol from somewhere and looking uneasy. His attitude is quickly starting to rub off on you, and you shudder slightly. You don't... maybe this... wasn't such a good idea.
>>
No. 558076 ID: c480f4

>Hammerfist, Minotaur Breakers.
:D!

>Battle plan.
Hrrm. Aria's pinned, but she'll be okay for now if I'm reading this correctly, besides which,
Moth, however, needs help, or he's going down.
Michelle's brother though...He's a normal. Skilled yes, but a normal. I think he and Michelle should stay where they are, hidden and away...
I wonder though...You're the Mother of all Demons right? And your demons are named after the Seven Deadly Sins...Maybe you could break their afflictions/obessions onto the enemy breakers? Distract the gunman by giving him a taste of Levi's endless hunger, or infect the girl with Lust.
>>
No. 558078 ID: 4a75fa

>Linda won't mind the property damage
It can be normalized, or fixed with money. We have ample resources to put things right.

>not being in danger / cleansing the world
Not exactly what the demons have in mind, but the whole goal of Linda's organization would make a hell of a lot of people safer if it's successful, Michelle included. (I wonder if that will attract their support? Not just out of Levi's sense of duty / debt owed, but a practical means to an end).

>ambush
Huh. Interesting group of fixers. They seem more determined to disarm than kill, and tried to give Aria the chance to stand down. Very different from the ones you fought before. Possibly more well intentioned. (Meaning there's potentially hope for them, should they survive. Not the immediate concern though).

Alright- tactical situation. One gunner pining Aria and golem, hammer-girl and minotaur keeping Moth busy, and other targets, not yet engaged, that Levi is interested in.

I would note a pinned Aria isn't really pinned. She still has a ton of BP and active limit breaks. That gives a lot of leeway to break the current stalemate. (If anyone has specific ideas, Michelle could relay them via the comm system). If Aria doesn't break it on her own, Moth could always throw a flames of hell- which would kill all three of the enemy while not harming anyone else. That would give Aria and Golem the time they needed to close to engage, and then it's 3 on 3 instead on 1 pinning 2 and 2 on 1. And in strait 3-3 I think the other guys lose. The gunman would certainly be at a disadvantage with a metal fist or sword in his face, and we already know the bull can't keep up with Moth 1 on 1.

Don't forget Mike's sneaky people are out there too. If and when we really need it, there could be an attack from the shadows or a sniper's bullet.

Not sure how Michelle's own spirit powers could contribute directly, unless warped reality kicked in at the right time. If factory equipment came on and got in the way or ran into someone at just the right time. Or, since this is a storage yard, if a cable or chain were to break and drop a load, or for a lock or door latch on a container to fail and the container to spill out, or a forklift or truck to just happen to have the parking brake fail. (Or any of these could be triggered deliberately, via Aria and active break).

Tactically, I'd be more inclined to put Levi on the second front than send him in to help the others, provided other ideas for breaking the stalemate work. (If they don't we'd have to send him in anyways). Although there is one concern- is the presence he's sensing with the people we're fighting? If they're fixers, why aren't they helping their allies? Obviously we can't ignore additional enemies, but if they're not additional enemies, we don't want to be attacking third parties and drawing them in.

>brother protecting you
Just remember, that if it comes to it, you throw yourself in front of him before he does the same for you. It hurts, but you can afford to die. He can't. Don't let his desire to protect you get him killed.

He shouldn't shoot, yet. Giving away your position and making the two of you targets won't help the situation.

>not a good idea
You don't have time for doubt, now. All you can do is try to make the situation in front of you. Not like you can change the past.

>>558076
>affect them with the sins of the demons?
Remember that Michelle doesn't have active break, and she's already uneasy and unsure of herself. That means she would suffer full concentration penalties for a free form break. Plus we've never seen anyone freeform mental stuff like that (mental manipulations have either required dedicated foci, or will fueled conversation / order barking). I suppose it's possible her spirit is high enough she could force some things through anyways... but weird mental stuff without a focus or ability for it, and only 3 will doesn't strike me as something likely to work.

I'd agree the Michelle and her brother should stay put, though.
>>
No. 558100 ID: c480f4

(Distraction ideas for Aria)
Maybe...Break that a bullet ricochets back at the guy, making him duck for cover, is one solution.
Something like breaking an explosion off in the distance is another.
One REDICULOUS way to do that might just be the old 'tea time!' break somewhere, perhaps matched with some sort of bragging dialouge like: 'Really, I hope this convinces you you're in a fight where you're outmatched. *sips tea* I'm obviously not alone, but there's more to us than what you see here.'
Which actually might distract the two fighting Moth in addition to gunner guy.
Last, but not least, she could break that gun into jamming-granted, she doesn't have the gun focus Linda had, but I figure she's likely more powerful than that gun guy either way...
Come to think of it. Given how Gun Breakers have to break to reload, she could just wait for him to run out of BP, and then clobber him.
>>
No. 558169 ID: d77784

The whispers start in your head again, the first time you'd ever heard them while in danger. Usually they left you alone so that you could concentrate. But they were insistent. They may not have bodies, but they were the Princes of Sin, and they would not be denied their fun. One voice above all rang out, demanding a sacrifice to itself, demanding that the woman below you be granted to it.

Mother. Sweet Mother. Grant me the daughter before you... send me to her, that I might whisper the words of lust within her ear, that I might corrupt her body, mind and soul to my sin...

You react as if in a dream. Thoughts whirl in your head, but As, so long held back, cries out with its own unholy desire. It must spread its sin. It must sing to the body, of pleasure and desire. It will not be denied. Not this time. You reach out with your will, eyes locked on the women in front of you, and you feel a smile spread across your face.

"Go, Asmodeus. Grant your gift upon the daughter of man."

"Sis? You alright?"

By then, you've snapped out of it. You shake your head in confusion, but feel it. As is doing something. You can hear his whispers in your thoughts. But this time, they aren't directed at you. No, this time another hears his words, his powers, his gift, and he will give it to her without shame or remorse. The woman below you, intent before on fighting alongside her ally, suddenly breaks off, stumbling back in surprise. Her hammer-hand wavers, then melts away back into normality, even as she collapses against a container. And behind her, like a shadow, is As, mouth next to her ear, whispering words you can't seem to make out. The woman stumbles away, trying desperately to do... something, before she disappears from sight, much to the confusion of her allies.

"Sarah? Sarah! What's wro-"

The bull-man is interrupted by Moth, claws rending flesh as he is freed from his other opponent and allowed to focus on the one. The bull-man is killed, but he revives on the ground, Moth still on top of him and jaws ready to clamp down on his prey. The bull-man gets an arm up just barely to block the attack, but Moth clamps down on the arm and refuses to let go. It seems he has his own opponent well in hand now.

Which brings you back to Aria. While you don't really consider yourself a leader type, you do find it a bit odd Aria hasn't really done anything about the situation herself. You briefly wonder if she's waiting for something, then suddenly remember you have a radio you could call her on. You fumble with your sleeve a moment, trying to remember how to make it work, before you find the switch and bring it to you mouth.

"Um... Aira?"

"Miss Crowley? Did you need something?"

"Um... are you waiting for something?"

"Waiting?"

"Yeah... because you... haven't really done anything."

"Oh! Well, I was planning on trying something eventually, but Golem is being rather protective at the moment, unusually so."

"Well... um... couldn't you... distract him? The guy, I mean..."

"Distract him? I suppose I could... how to do that..."

"Um... maybe... uh... you could...uh... have... tea time?"

The moment the words leave your mouth, you suddenly realize how stupid that sounded. You feel your face flush with embarrassment, even as you hurriedly try to cover up your mistake, but you're met with only silence for a few minutes before Aria gets back onto the radio.

"Miss Crowley, are you... stereotyping me?"

"Um... I'm sorry! I didn't mean-"

"Wrong, for the most part, if quite entertaining. Let's do that, shall we?"

"What?"

Suddenly, the world is fuzzy, and you blink away the TV static to discover Golem has been placed in front of the bullets a little better, and Aria herself is sitting at a small, elegant table. Delicate china is placed upon it with what can only be described as painstaking care, and the woman herself has a gently steaming teacup in her hand, going through practiced motions of refinement and elegance as she takes a sip. She, for all the world, looks the image of a refined young princess, which she quickly breaks as soon as her tea is set back onto the table, and she breaks into laughter.

"Well, this is certainly ridiculous, isn't it? Still, it speaks volumes for their supposed abilities if I'm even able to do this in combat."

The man, Luke, looks irritated, but this is quickly replaced with a confident grin as another man steps into the area. He is covered by what you think could be described as a cloak, and he drops down to one knee as he spots Moth, who pauses in his killing to glare at the newcomer. The man is still, but Luke seems far more talkative.

"About fucking time you got here, Michael! Where's the other two?"

There is no response, the man is simply kneeling. Levi, however, rumbles beneath the earth. This one is what is making him uneasy. It feels... wrong. Even to you.

>>>Input Command
>>
No. 558190 ID: c480f4

>Micheal
>drops to one knee.
Oh.
Throw the Demon Voices at him! Quickly! All of them!
>>
No. 558217 ID: 4a75fa

Interesting. Looks like throwing her demons at people's minds is completely in theme for her, after all. (Which I suppose solidifies her theme as mother of demons- she's all about bringing them into the world, one way or another). And I suppose it must be using the demon's will scores instead of her own.

I wonder why we've never seen that before? (Have you done this before, Michelle? Or is this the first time- a new way you realized you can use your powers, that your children can express themselves?). It's certainly an interesting option for a non-lethal disable. ...although we'll have to see what the consequences of releasing a monster on that girl's mind rather than her body is. She may need a sitdown with George if we don't want to leave her permanently damaged.

>feels wrong
Not the like man from a few months ago, right? You went with Linda and Chris to meet Rise, and he showed up outside? Because if he's a tear that's seriously bad news. (Suddenly missing teammates also make me nervous, after seeing Holiday turn on his own). If that's the case, you need to let Aria know immediately.

...did you feel anything before? That might have meant he did something to his two missing allies?

If he's not a tear, the unease could be coming from theme (archangel Micheal?) and/or he could be another connection to the observers. In any event, he seems to be preparing an attack on Moth. A preemptive strike with Levi seems appropriate.
>>
No. 558229 ID: c480f4

I don't think he's a tear. I think he's legit got an angelic theme, and probably is going to kick Demon behind if we throw corporeal ones at him.
If anything, we should:
Break to throw another mental demon at him. Maybe the vocal one from before, Envy I think it was? And then from there, have Levi eat the Rifle guy.
I think sending Levi or Moth directly for the Archangel will end badly-we should direct Aria to fight him instead.
(Now if I wanted to go for rule of cool, I'd send all the mental demons at him, have Asmodeus force the girl back to fight on our behalf, have Michelle break up an outfit fitting of her status (Black robe/dress accented with skulls, red trim maybe a pentagram circle for good measure) And ride out there on Moth's back saying something like 'YOU DARE TO FACE ME? MOTHER OF ALL DEMONS!?!' But that'd be foolhardy...I think.)
>>
No. 558233 ID: 4a75fa

>>558229
I suspect you're right about what he is, I just wanted to give Michelle the chance to recognize him as a tear on the off chance he is. She met Jean, she should recognize if it's the same kind of wrongness.

The problem I see if if he has some kind of archangel theme, throwing demons of the mind at him aren't going to work. He'll resist or be unaffected, and we'd be directly exposing our disembodied children to harm or counterattack.

Physically attacking him with corporeal demons may not be a flawless plan either if he as means to fight them, but avatars are hard to permanently hurt, and we should be able to physically harm him, even with a type disadvantage.

Although, honestly, if Michelle is fundamentally at a disadvantage, the smart move is to trade partners at the first chance. (Levi takes Luke off of Aria, and then Aria and Golem are free to engage Micheal).

...and yeah, putting Michelle front and center to harm probably isn't worth the theatrics at this point (seems to me she'd be kind of mortified, anyways). Maybe if there comes a point where a distraction would actually turn the tide, though.
>>
No. 558546 ID: d77784

You pull back from the window, slightly intimidated by what you are feeling right now. It isn't like the other man, the one that felt wrong to you, and Levi, and Chris. No, this man doesn't seem to invoke the same feelings in others as he does in you. You and your demons. This man feels wrong, but the feeling is much closer to animosity. Thoughts swirl through your skull, some your own and others those of your demons, and eventually, you come to a simple conclusion.

The man had to go. None of your children liked him at all.

You peak out the window again to see the man stand, voicing rising in volume as he draws a glowing blade from thin air and light start to surround him.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me."

Aria seems to blink at that, and pauses in her laughter before glancing at Moth. It takes only moments before she puts the pieces together, even as this Michael starts to advance on the demonic beast. Unfortunately for the man, Moth is not alone.

"Levi!"

You call brings the serpent up out of the ground, an explosion of cement and dirt flying everywhere as he emerges, jaws clamping around his target and rending flesh before hurling him into and through a nearby container. A roar follows, a call of challenge to the man who dares stand before a demon prince, and the call is answered as the man pulls himself from the wrecked container eyes taking in the sight before him.

"God. Grant me the strength to bear my unholy burden, so that I might still wield it in your name."

A burst of power flows outwards, and you watch as angelic wings spring from the man's back. Levi hisses in hatred, and even Moth has tosses aside his earlier prey in favor of this new foe.

"An lo, though I may be burdened, I am not burdened alone. For you have seen fit to send me comrades, brothers and sisters who share their faith in you, if not in word then in action."

You see someone scramble up onto the rooftop of the building opposite you, and who draws something you can't quite make out. Another person emerges next to the angel man, a spear aimed at Levi, and you feel a rising anger start to boil up in your body. Unfortunately, you don't get much chance to act. The one on the roof fires something, hitting Levi in one of his eyes and causing him to roar in pain. This is followed by the one with the spear charging forward, keeping Levi from lashing out with his jaws by poking at him with the spear. The last, Michael, returns his attention to Moth, who charges without restraint at the man. You can't help but describe it somewhat like a bullfight, the angel winged man sidestepping at just the right moment and slashing across with his blade, cutting a gash into the demon's back legs. The accompanying roar of pain cuts into you like a knife, but even that is cut short as the bull man charges in, goring Moth in the back and wrapping his arms around the beast in an effort to keep him in place. The two struggle against one another as Michael moves to the front, glancing only briefly at the Levi, who is still being rendered immobile. Then he turns to the demon in front of him, raises his sword and begins some sort of prayer.

"Oh lord in heaven, I thank you for this chance you have granted me-"

You feel pain shoot through you like a knife as Levi and Moth roar as one, pain and rage in both. Aria has begun moving as well, Golem charging the gun user and forcing him to focus on staying alive. Aria herself snaps her fingers, the rooftop opposite you crumbling underneath the man who sits on top of them. He disappears into the building, freeing Levi from his influence, but that does little in such a short time.

"- for I shall cleanse this world of those touched by the devil. I shall release them from his corrupting influence-"

You feel your heart wrench as Moth roars, to your ears sounding more like a scream, and Levi roars back, lunging at the spear wielder without fear of reprimand. His jaws close around his prey, but he won't make it in time either. Not to save Moth. You start to take a step back, aiming to throw yourself out in some attempt to save your child, to save Moth from the pain, from the agony, from the harm he is about to come to. You can't bear to see him like that. Not like that. But you already know you won't make it in time either. Why? Why were they so able to stop Levi and constrain Moth?

Why were they hurting them so much?

"-You chose me, oh lord, to bear your will. I shall do so without complain, and without mercy to those who dare wield this power-"

As Michael brings his blade up to strike at Moth, you feel that painful tug in your heart again, and you feel a burning need. You have to do something. Anything!

>>>Input Command

Bonus!
If you can name each of the Princes and the sin they are associated with, you'll get a bonus prize.

>>
No. 558556 ID: 62d3af

Waaait a second. They're your children, but they're also the demon princes. But for now...
Stop, think. Spear user Levi's got, and Moth's disadvantage will only last as long as that Micheal is there, praying and doing the bull-fighter trick.
Moth should go back to fighting the minotaur, while Levi focuses on the spear guy-Aria takes on the angel and prevents him from praying...

>Princes and their domains!
All I know is Asmodeus, Prince of Lust, for sure. I can toss out other names that I've heard of.
Mephistoles, Mammon, uhhh... That's about it. With any luck the other suggestors can finish the list for the super-break!
>>
No. 558564 ID: 76b151

Lets start with what we know.

Leviathan is the Prince of Gluttony. (Though mythologicially he is actually Envy.)
Behemoth is the Prince of Wrath.
Asmodeus is the Prince of Lust.

Possible others:
Beelzebub\Ba'al (Gluttony normally. Maybe switched with Leviathan? So Envy?)
Mammon (Greed)
Aamon\Satan (Wrath normally, Envy would be a good fit for Satan since he is said to covet God's throne.)
Lucifer (Pride)
Belphegor (Sloth)
Another possible answer is Belial, I'm not sure what he would fit though.
>>
No. 558583 ID: 4a75fa

Longshot but... your demons are being hunted by angels, right? The reason they can hurt them so badly is because they believe they have the right to. That angels are supposed to hunt demons. That it is their right and place to do so. That your children are wrong, and do not belong here.

Except they're wrong.

Your children are sanctioned by an angel. That's what Elizabeth calls Linda, right? And that's what Levi can see she is. Levi tries to hide the details from you, but you know she saved you at one point- and that she protected them. And she helped you bring 'Moth into this world. And you're here on her orders. Their mission doesn't have any divine mandate that yours lacks.

You're carrying a focus Linda gave you, right? So you'd remember? Take that out now. Draw on it. You can't tap into a weapon's manifestation, but that's not what you need. It's a part of her, her essence. You need that, now. Use the light of one angel to shield your children from these others.

Light cuts through the darkness- but not other light. With that edge canceled out, this becomes a fight of flesh and blood and bone and steel. And your children can win that.

(If these guys lose their elemental advantage, it goes from a angelic curbstomp to a 'fair' fight between weapons and monsters. Much more something we can handle. Plus, if they actually buy into the religious nonsense they're spouting, suddenly losing their divine edge against the unholy beasts is going to be a nasty shock to their systems).

>demon bonus
Okay, this part got way too long, and I don't even reach a definitive answer, so I'm kicking it over to quesdis.
>>/questdis/79176
>>
No. 558603 ID: 2f4b71

That's right. This guy feels wrong? That's because he's a false angel. His words are lies. He has no authority over your or your children.
>>
No. 558650 ID: 7400f2

Yes, would real angels rob Breakers like they've been doing?
>>
No. 558676 ID: 88960e

>>558650
That's a good way of looking at it, really. What's it say when the 'demon' is just trying to protect people and her home, and the 'angels' are the ones hunting people?
>>
No. 558865 ID: 4a75fa

Alright. Fallback options in case personal belief / rejection of their power or shielding the demons from holy attacks with angel-essence doesn't work:

Moth could still blow up a flames of hell in that guy's face. Although he may not have time if there's a casting display, and from the powers these guys have shown so far, they might be able to suppress that kind of demonic power from activating, or resist its effects. (It would burn the bull off his back if it works, though).

(Actually, I wonder, is there any interesting way to combine flames of hell and devour? An explosion of fire along a vortex axis. Might even stack multikills- instead of being eaten or burnt once, the enemy would be sucked into / along the column of flame, possibly burning to death more than once before being eaten or the spout shut off. Although there's some kind of potential for a feedback loop ripping the fire of hell through the earth, and then sucking back through the gate to hell in Levi's stomach...)

If all else fails, Michelle's brother could always take in on himself to shoot Micheal. Problem is, that exposes Michelle's position, and worse, his. She'd pretty much have to tackle (or break) him out of the way and take at least one kill for him. Hopefully it would buy enough time for Michelle to throw a repair at Moth, and for him to shake the Minotaur pinning him off.
>>
No. 558898 ID: a703cb

>Demon bonus attempt (We aren't limited only to 1 right? Built on Redeath& Magey-kun's work)
Lust-Amadeus
Wrath-Behemoth
Envy- Belial
Gluttony-Leviathan
Pride- Beelzebub
Sloth-Belphegor
Greed-Mammon
>>
No. 559666 ID: d77784

>>558898
Two of these are wrong. I'll leave you to figure out which two. The rest are correct though. I'll confirm some of them(and the one that probably isn't that obvious) and add a small note/clue.

Behemoth- Wrath
Asmodeus- Lust

Note/Clue- A demon prince doesn't necessarily exhibit the sin it represents itself. For example, Leviathan is hardly envious of anyone. However, it is their job to punish the sinners who enter their domain. Obviously the demon's of BR don't have a domain(other than Michelle's head), and as such, generally depart from what they might "normally" have as a behavior. It doesn't help that, as creations of Michelle, they will generally follow behaviors SHE believes them to have.

I'll leave this open for one more day before posting. Oh, and I'm back again.
>>
No. 559690 ID: 4a75fa

>Oh, and I'm back again.
Just in time! No need to prod anyone with a red hot poker.

>>559666
Okay. So... if you're saying Levi really is Envy, that pretty much automatically means Levi is one of the two we got wrong, as is whoever we assigned envy to. So to fix, it should be:

Leviathan, Envy
Belial, Gluttony

Unless you meant there are two wrong in addition to Levi. And assuming Belial is the right name for the seventh demon. (As I mentioned before- we've only seen 6 of the 7 named, even counting fragmentary nicknames).

(If Levi is envy, it might explain why he got picked first. He was hard coded to want what he didn't have more. Or it was to inspire envy in the other demons? As has definately displayed a lot of envy and resentment).
>>
No. 559841 ID: 3bb36a

Lust-Asmodeus
Wrath-Behemoth
Envy- Leviathan
Gluttony- Belial
Pride- Beelzebub
Sloth- Belphegor
Greed- Mammon

Hrrrm...I'm not very familiar with Alaster Crowley but I'm guessing he's related to Michelle?
>>
No. 560716 ID: d77784

Redeath got it right all the way in the beginning, actually.

You suddenly remember, as if your thoughts were being guided like a moth to flame, and your hand slips into your pocket and wraps around the small object hidden inside. It's influence is subtle, but there, and the comfort it provides is unnaturally potent. You feel your heart rate slow, your mind sharpen, your body relax. A single breath, and then your recall. Leviathan considered Her to be an angel. Considered Her to be someone worthy of his respect and loyalty, such as it was. Even Moth, on the occasions he spoke, gave Her a grudging acceptance. And She was with you, even now. She was always with you. You close your eyes and draw on the power that sleeps within the object in your pocket.

A small bullet.

You open your eyes again, just as Michael finishes his mantra, and two things happen seemingly at once. The first is something shooting out of a nearby container and stabbing the bull-man through the back, an massive spiked hand potruding through the man's body and out the other side, attached to the woman from earlier, Sarah. As still remains with her, whispering words in her ears, but her breathing has calmed and she seems in far more control. If targeting new people. This seems to catch the bull-man by complete surprise, and his grip on Moth loosens.

"Sarah?"

"-So that all foul beasts may be-... Wha-"

Michael's weapons shoots forwards, aiming to stab into Moth, but just as he does so, a flash of light explodes from in front of Moth, and you watch as the angel-man's body jerks to the side as if struck, the sword scraping across Moth's side at the last moment. Painful, but nowhere near deadly. Moth breaks free a moment later, and the look on Michael's face, full of surprise and fear, is satisfying to an unnerving degree. Moth goes to work, brings claws and teeth to bear in an instant, tearing the man into bloody pieces. The other targets fair little better, and with the archer apparently gone without a trace, the rest of the fight becomes simply mop up. You make your way down to the ground floor as soon as your opponents are dealt with, Aria's target having been incapacitated for later interrogation, although the one's your demons are fighting have no such chance. They will be satisfied.

Still, as you arrive in the open area, you are approached by the Sarah woman, her hand reforming into something normal, even as you hear As once again within your thoughts.

Look what I found, Mother! Can we keep her?

The woman bows as she reaches you, looking just a bit fearful.

"I... I'm told you are someone I should respect, and that you are the mother of Lord Asmodeus, and are my mother too."

"... Lord... Asmodeus?"

"Yes... he... uh..."

The woman flushes red, even as the Prince of Lust cackles happily in your mind.

I granted her pleasure beyond anything she has or ever will feel amongst the humans. In exchange for her loyalty, I have promised her more. She is ours now, Mother, in body and soul. I have taught her as much. You disgust me, As. You're just jealous because you don't have any presents to give Mother. Besides, she is ever so much fun. So many perverted dreams left unfulfilled. So many dreams I could make reality. Why, even now she's thinking about a rather lustful fantasy involving Mo- THAT IS ENOUGH, AS! Of course, Levi. Of Course.

"Um..."

The woman interrupts your attention on your children, and you blink away your confusion to focus again.

"Ah... As told me... about... um... what happened... uh..."

"I... see... um... As?"

"His... nickname..."

"Right. Nickname. As. Uh... I think I'll stick with Lord Asmodeus. Uh... do you have... a name I should use... or should I just stick with Mother?"

"Oh! I'm-"

She is Lilith to you, Succubus, or Mother, or Mother Lilith. Her name is for other to us-

"I'm Michelle."

"But Lord Asmodeus just said-"

"You can hear him!?"

"Uh... yes?"

"I wonder if it's because... anyway, you can call me Michelle. It's easier."

"O... k... Then, Michelle, from here on, I'm yours to do with however you want."

"Um... ok... uh..."

"What's going on over here?"

Aria trots over to the group, looking curious, even as Golem follows behind her, clutching the captured and unconcious breaker behind her. She's tossing his focus from one hand to the other, but it seems to hold little of her interest.

"Uh..."

"Are you another servant of Michelle?"

"Serv- Did you just get a servant, Miss Crowley?"

"Um..."

"I don't know if you should be talking to her like that."

"And she's already over-protective of you. It's the beginnings of a full blown cult. How... entertaining."

"Um..."

"Keep being disrespectful and-"

"Oh, hush. I mean no disrespect. I'm equal to her within the organization. I suppose you'd called us comrades. Regardless, who are you wi-"

Aria is interrupted as Golem suddenly drops it's cargo and bullrushes you, arm extended to grab at you. Everyone is taken by surprise, except, it seems, Sarah, who is suddenly in front of you, arm expanding into a hammer-like fist to smash the avatar aside. Moth suddenly descends on the metal foe as well, ready to tear into it, before Aria steps in, eyes blazing with barely contained fury and fear.

"Golem! Halt!"

The avatar freezes, and you call off Moth as well, although the demon, as well as Levi, stick close by, eyeing the offender warily. Even your new disciple keeps herself ready, interposing herself between you and Golem. Your own concern, however, is for Aria.

"Um... what happened?"

"I... do not know. I didn't order him to do that. I... have some idea, but it may be best that I stay away from you for awhile. Or at least keep Golem away from you. I'll leave you to deal with the questioning of our prisoner and your new servant, I need some time to think."

"Um... alright. Just... if you need to talk..."

"I understand. Thank you, Miss Crowley. I'll see you later."

Aria leaves, and you take a moment to watch her before turning to Sarah and the prisoner. You frown a moment, then your brother moves to pick him up and you dismiss your own avatars into their doll forms. This seems to intrigue Sarah, but she keeps her words to herself and falls into step behind you, seeming to you like an overprotective bodyguard or something. It's clear she doesn't know how to act, and neither do you, but maybe your demon's will know what to do.

Experience Gained:
Aria: 4
Aria Total: 6
Michelle: 4
Michelle Total:9

>>
No. 560717 ID: d77784

You reach the edge of the barrier a half hour later, and easily step through. Jean, on the other hand, meets resistance, and looks very unhappy about it.

"Well... it seems we've found the edge. Closer than it was last time, they must already be seeing to the damage."

"They're fixing it already?"

"Or at least trying to fill in the hole as best they can."

"Seems like a relatively good idea to me... Alright. Elizabeth, you there?"

"Yes, Mother."

"Time to get their attention for me."

Mere moments, you feel something change in the air around you, and someone seems to step from nothing. The woman glances around, looking a little puzzled, before she calls out softly.

"Um... Hello?"

"Curious how she can't see you at all, isn't it?"

"Mother, speak and I'll translate."

"Alright... Hello, you can't see me, but I need to talk to you.

The woman jumps before glancing upwards at something you can't see, then frowns. A quick whispered conversation with something, then with more volume as she addresses you, or rather, something to the right of you.

"You are the one we can't see, right? I've come for multiple reason's myself. It seems that, um, once our business is concluded, I'm to deliver a message to you."

"Uh... ok... well then... I need you to let the tear that's in there out for me. We've come to an... arrangement, of sorts."

"I'm afraid I can't just let it out. It would go against my duties."

For the love of- Of course they'd pull this shit. It makes you wonder how they get anything done. Of course, you suppose leaving your daughter alone and letting a tear out are two separate issues. You'll have to come up with some better argument then simply "He's with me".

>>>Input Command
>>
No. 560720 ID: 3bb36a

Hrrrm. Looks like we're at a stand-off here...Not unlike how you guys are at a stand-off with tears like him. I'm guessing you guys can't actually deal with him.
Basically... I intend to put him... On Parole, so to speak. I'll keep a close eye on him. Right now I don't want to try and take out another tear, assuming I even know what method to use, they all carry a heavy price...
However, I heard something interesting from Jean, about it being possible to fix tears into normal people? I don't fully understand why that shouldn't happen. It's not like they wanted to be born a tear, right?
>>
No. 560729 ID: 4a75fa

Oh, neato. The angel-light thing worked.

>Redeath got it right all the way in the beginning, actually.
Pfff. And you let us keep guessing.

>cult of Michelle / lust disciple Sarah
Holy crap, geeze. Um. Not sure how to feel about that, really. We literally just mind raped someone. Conditioning her to serve with lust (or addicting her to it?) is a lot more morally uncomfortable than just temporarily immobilizing her with it.

Although I suppose she's still mostly in possession of her faculties (does that mean it was a choice?), and if she was on the self-destructive fixer path, maybe we gave her something to live for? ...sure, I'll go with that. Tactically, if Michelle now has a dedicated bodyguard, that does make using her avy's offensively easier.

...I can't help but think this is going to make the next time Elizabeth and Michelle hang out entertainingly awkward. (Liz amused or completely non-pulsed, Michelle still embarrassed or uncertain, and poor Sarah with no clue).

>no such chance. They will be satisfied
Er, after Aria's bit about Linda not wanting us to kill them, we still did? And that's really awkward after Sarah switched sides. She shouldn't have had to watch them die.

>golem
Huh, what set him off. Michelle tapping into the Linda-essence? Her providing Aria with the idea there might be something else inside her to listen to? ...her use of the word comrade, perhaps? (Accepting herself as part of the organization, rather than a temporary hanger-on. Not someone who would leave).

>some better argument
As I understand it, you can't actually hold him here. Your choice is to let him walk out, or watch as he damages reality further ripping his way out. Is your duty to contain him greater than your duty to reality?

And without his help and information, I wouldn't have been able to stop the other one eating an entire compound full of people. That's threads- lives- you had written off and trapped inside that now aren't lost. Call it a win.

(If she responds that they helped get those people out- I know. And I thank you for that. But it still wouldn't have happened without him).

Look, I know you don't have a permanent solution to the tear problem. Let me try to find one. It'll be a lot easier if I have access to one who's cooperating.

>last words
After we've dealt with everything else- I'm coming home, Elizabeth.
>>
No. 561354 ID: d77784

"As I understand it, you can't actually hold him here. Your choice is to let him walk out, or watch as he damages reality further ripping his way out. Is your duty to contain him greater than your duty to reality? And without his help and information, I wouldn't have been able to stop the other one eating an entire compound full of people. That's threads- lives- you had written off and trapped inside that now aren't lost. Call it a win.

Regardless, I intend to put him... On Parole, so to speak. I'll keep a close eye on him. He'll be under constant supervision, no need to worry about that."

The woman pauses again, then sighs. For a moment, nothing seems to happen, then Jean gets an odd look on his face before hesitantly stepping through the unseen barrier. He pauses another moment, as if not quite believing what just happened, before nodding to himself and striding over to take up a position behind you.

"The message I am to deliver. You are going down a dangerous path, trusting a tear, especially as you draw closer to the open war with another. Be careful you do not lead the enemy to what it is he desires."

The woman is suddenly gone after that, leaving no room to reply, and Jean snorts in disgust.

"Typical. Vague words that mean little. Regardless, before we go any further, I think I should hand this over to you. A... last resort, so to speak."

The tear removes an object from his pocket, and upon receiving it, you discover it to be another bullet. This one, however, doesn't feel like any foci you've ever felt before. It pulses with reality, a strong pulse. For some reason, you feel like the thing is alive somehow, and you glance at Jean questioningly.

"A remnant. Of... someone else."

He doesn't offer anything else, regardless of how much you try to prod after that. Eventually, you simply give up, and stow the focus away, but you find your thoughts constantly trying to work the problem. Could you use it like Cally's and Raphael's? And if so, who would come out? You shake the thoughts away and focus on the task at hand. Or rather, your own eminent return to Sun City.

"Elizabeth! I'm coming home!"

"Will not meet you there."

"... What?"

"Investigating disappearnace of Risa Muramasa. She missed her report time. Taking a few people and going out."

"Are you- Elizabeth, just leave it to me! I'll take care of it-"

"No. Need to be more useful. You have public address to work on. I'll deal with Risa issue. Also, expect call from Warrior at some point. She's having... relationship issues."

"Uh... okay?"

"Talk to you later, Mother."

The line goes dead, and you frown, uncertain about Elizabeth's decision. While you have faith in her abilities overall, combat is not exactly your daughter's strong area. You make it back to the hotel without incident, and take some time to get yourself cleaned up before laying out everything you might need to spend some time on.

The focus received from Jean(who's currently on your couch watching TV) is now on the table, awaiting your decision to do... whatever with it. Then of course, there's the issue with Elizabeth. You could decide to ignore her recommendation to leave it to her and meet her there. Wouldn't take too long to find out where Risa was last. And of course, there's the all consuming issue of what to do about Jean. While he's fine right now, and will continue to be so, you have to figure out what overall he's going to be doing. You can't just have him hanging around uselessly, and by what it sounds like, he doesn't exactly relish the thought of being idle either.

>>>Input Command
>>
No. 561387 ID: 0d86f9

"Lead the enemy to what he desires."...
That would be exactly the sort of sneaky crap I'd expect from the Tear of Paranoia, McCarthy.
As far as Jean goes...
First off, Jean=/=Elizabeth. We should hold the two apart as much as we possibly can.
Secondly, Jean? Would it be REALLY BAD if a Tear made a public speech? Because of Lindy's Nobodiness, she'll be forgotten-we need a face, and we might as well use someone who probably will look the part decently enough.
As for the foci...I can't think of a reason NOT to check it out. It'd be something else if Jean planted a trap that only Someone else, and on top of that, Remember the Fallen, could access.
>>
No. 561419 ID: 4a75fa

>a dangerous path, trusting a tear
>Be careful you do not lead the enemy to what it is he desires.
She's damn right that it's dangerous. Don't forget how quickly Holiday turned on those who trusted him. And we still don't know what really McCarthy wants from you. If we misjudge Jean at any point, or play into McCarthy's hand... this could all go very wrong, very fast.

>Typical. Vague words that mean little.
For what it's worth, she was fairly straightforward with her warning. (Unless they actually know something about McCarthy's plans they're withholding?). He's the one being oblique with this remnants and last resort nonsense.

>Could you use it like Cally's and Raphael's? And if so, who would come out?
The big questions that occur to me: would you even be able to do that with the focus of someone you never knew? You... got close to the others. You don't know if it works without that connection. And secondly- Jean described it as a last resort. Would it even be safe to tap into? It might not be something you can use without serious consequences.

Seems to me you might want to try... communing with it before waking it up. (If it's alive, does it dream?). Or maybe seeing what Elizabeth has to say. Not something we should rush into, for now. Whatever, or whoever, is inside there, you don't have a good reason to take that kind of risk, yet.

(I'd be against spending an XP to wake it up right now, that's for sure. We don't know enough, yet. That bullet was created by Guy's death, his final break, and Jean's rebirth. Who's inside? Guy, Jean, Brother? None of them, someone in the middle, some combination? The last thing Guy broke was to make his gun into something that could kill a tear- which that focus still might manifest. But would using it be similarly fatal for Linda?

Traditional tuning also seems a bad idea. As dangerous as what's inside that focus might be, trying to force it out and put a piece or ourself into something that's alive seems worse).

Actually, is there anything written on this bullet? You have your trusty 12.7×99mm of fuck reality, what's this one?

>Risa
*Cough* Rise.

>uncertain about Elizabeth's decision
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and calm down. Nicole said to trust her- and she's right. You should. As much as you want to protect her, you have to accept you can't fight every battle for her. Trust her. She's not foolish enough to run off into danger alone, and you left Nicole in change- who's not going to let let her leave without an escort. Nic will make sure she's safe, go with her, or make sure other people do. You left good people back in Sun City (Michelle, Aria, Nicole, Rodriquez, Mike...), even if they don't all remember who you are anymore.

If we really wanted to butt in, you could send a message to Nic via Twinda to look out for Elizabeth. (Or if our spirit is finally high enough for perspective swapping to work, you could check yourself that she's going to be okay, and even hug her goodbye, wish her luck).

>You make it back to the hotel without incident
Where we're staying near Holiday's mess, right? We haven't made it back home, yet.

>you have to figure out what overall he's going to be doing
I would start by asking him what he had been expecting to be doing. Had he thought this far ahead? Hell, what does a walking antithesis of everything that's real normally do, anyways?

>You have public address to work on
I've been champing at the bit to actually write our appeal to the normals, to the other breakers, and our response to the government. A good part of how I shape the last part is kind of stuck until I find out what the law-types have to say, though. Waiting on that.

The immediate problem Linda needs to think about is how she's actually going to give this speech. Because it seems important to me (and it should be important to her) that she make this herself. But she needs to be remembered to do that. And I'm not sure we want to be wearing someone else's face, or if we did, who's face we'd wear.

I was hoping the Doc would have a temporary way around it. Maybe Jean will have an idea? You're stuck in the middle, and he kind of looks at reality from the other side, as it were. (Failing that, I may have some ideas of my own, but I'd have to flesh them out. Could we burn a focus maybe? Use everything in one to forge a temporary presence or thread).

>Rise
Speaking of not letting people go off alone. We could do a quick test to check if Rise is still alive, at least. Become her, just for a minute. You can't displace a thread that isn't there. Then let go, putting her back where was, awaiting Elizabeth's help. And maybe, just maybe, a small disruption might help her our of whatever mess she's in.

(And for out of character reasons- we might get a reaction out of Jean. He knows Rise. Or Guy did, anyways. That gives Linda a question to ask- something to follow up on. And he might care if she's gone missing, or have an idea what she may have ran into).
>>
No. 561425 ID: 2f4b71

>Rise
>Someone Else
People being kidnapped is exactly the sort of thing Someone Else is for.

We could check up on Aria, see how she is, and if she's free to help Elizabeth.
>>
No. 561457 ID: 4a75fa

>>561425
Problem is, Linda doesn't know if she's back from the fixer thing, yet (and do to jumping perspectives, niether do we). In character, I'd be more for trusting Elizabeth, and trusting Nic to see she's taken care of. Out of character- if Golem went off on Michelle, there's a worse chance he might go off on Elizabeth (since she's way closer tied to Linda and Aria's current conflict).

Although talking to Aria should be something we get to, soon. (When even ghosts and strangers are pushing you...). Still, we have to deal with the immediate problems of what we're going to do with Jean and about the speech, first.
>>
No. 561828 ID: d77784

A thought pops into your head, that this is the sort of situation that becoming someone else might be useful for. Very useful for. Still, Elizabeth wanted to be the one to take care of it, and as much as it worries you to let her be, and simply trust her judgement... she's proven herself time and again to be trustworthy. More so than you have been, actually, given your record of royally screwing things up. You have to trust her. That won't stop you from checking on the wayward sibling of your friend, and you flicker her out of existence for a moment, taking her place. You hear dull thud as you let her thread go, satisfied that she isn't dead at least, and turn to notice the couch in your temporary home literally gone, eaten completely, as Jean reigns his unexpected outburst in. He mutters something you don't quite catch, and you frown as you stare at the tear.

"You alright?"

"Hm? Oh yes. Just... didn't expect to see her here..."

"Her? Rise?"

"Yea- Ah... I'd rather not get into that. It wouldn't matter anyway, the woman wouldn't recognize me, regardless. From my... uh... days of being 'real'."

"O...k... you sure you don't want to talk about it?"

"What can I say? The emotions are, unfortunately, there for me. They aren't for her. Conveniently, my loss of reality forced others to forget I ever was real. And besides, me and Him are two separate people. I think. Mostly. Regardless, I don't think this is something I want to discuss right now. Perhaps another time. I'm sure you have other things you could be doing anyway."

Jean frowns a moment, then huffs as he's forced to sit on the floor to watch TV, and you leave him alone, confident that pushing him will get you nowhere. At least, not without the right questions. And you do have other things you could be doing. You spend the next half-hour getting some of your paper affairs done, the reports and the like that you barely glance at. They don't interest much, not at the moment anyway, most of it is just reports from lawyers who still don't have any definitive answers for you. You take the opportunity to contact Nicole, and tell her to make sure Elizabeth is safe for you, or at the very least isn't going alone to hunt for Rise. Your friend assures you that your daughter is in good hands, or at least trustworthy hands. You sigh in relief, a little of the tension in your body lifted, but you quickly shake it away. There's still more to do before you turn in for the night.

You pause a moment to pull out and examine the newest bullet you've added to your collection, before tucking it away again. While you're certain something is written on it's side, you find yourself feeling a little dizzy staring at it, and you decide it would be best to have others on hand when you do decide to mess with it further. Besides, you have no idea what it does, and would prefer further opinions before jumping the gun... so to speak.

Which just leaves a couple of things before sleep. Jean seems largely uninterested in what he's watching, although that hardly stops him, and it's highly unlikely he'll be going to sleep anytime soon by the looks of it. So, you decide to contact someone else first, and you hesitate a moment before picking up your phone at dialing the number. It rings twice before the other side picks up, voice sounding worn out and devoid of her usual spark.

"Hello, Ms. McCallahan. How can I help you?"

"Hey, Aria... you alright? You're not sounding so hot."

"Yes and no. It's... complicated. Golem is becoming increasingly... independent. And violent. It's just very tiring having to- No. This is hardly your problem, and not something I should trouble you with. But I digress. You have something you want to speak to me about?"

You pause, your original questions sticking at the back of your throat. She seemed a little... preoccupied. Was asking her another favor really something you should do right now? Not to mention she seemed quite ready to brush her own issues under the rug to help you with yours...

>>>Input Command
>>
No. 561832 ID: f461c5

>>561419

We already know that what we do as metapersonas like the Godslayer can be remembered. Perhaps we could use that, be introduced as the godslayer and speak from behind a screen, so they only see the silhouette. As long as we can abstract our Linda-ness enough, we can expect to have our words remembered, right?
>>
No. 561858 ID: 4a75fa

>me and Him are two separate people.
I wonder if that's a problem. Will he still want to become real if that means ceasing to exist and someone else stepping in?

>it's highly unlikely he'll be going to sleep anytime soon by the looks of it
Assuming he chooses to, or remembers to, at all. It's all an act for them, remember.

>Aria
>Was asking her another favor really something you should do right now?
...no, that's not something you should do right now. You've taken her for granted long enough. She's waited a good long time while you tried to sort out your own head. But when even complete strangers and ghosts are telling you to push harder, maybe they have a point. She deserves some of your attention.

Just talk to her. Be there for her. Maybe it will help. She's been someone you've relied on, so let her learn on you. I mean, it sort of is your problem, isn't it? Or at least, you contributed. Hell, even if you can't do much to help sort her issues from here, maybe you just taking an interest and taking the time will cheer her up some.

>>561832
Potentially, yes, hiding our face and using a meta-identity would work. (The Doc mumbled something about shadow or masks way back then).

The biggest problem with that having our face hidden kind of undercuts our message. If we're coming out, stating who we are, what be believe, trying to assert our humanity in the face of those who would demonize us- appearing to be trying to conceal our identity hurts that. And not having a face makes us harder to empathize with. We come across less as the person we're trying to portray, and more as the villain the government has painted us.

Secondly, I'm not sure the godkiller pilot is the meta-identity we would want to use. She has good press, but she's also the reckless giant who fights monsters in densely populated areas and causes massive property damage. Kind of helps D7's case more than ours. And it also politicizes any further use of the bot, as it would be seen by the public, other breaker factions, and D7 as our faction's leader taking direct, highly visible action. I think the godkiller is better left with vague affiliations.
>>
No. 562023 ID: d77784

The words spoken by Cally, and the other woman, seem to echo in your ears, before you shake them from your immediate thoughts and focus on trying to actually follow their advice. At least a little.

"Aria, if there's something going on and you need to talk, I'm here for you. You know that, right?"

"I... yes, Ms. McCallahan. I am fully aware. However, you... it would not be good for me to rely on you, not now. Not with... Please, Ms. McCallahan, let me take care of it?"

"I'm not letting you do this on your own if you don't have to. At the very least I consider you a dear friend, Aria, and I don't leave my friends to suffer alone. Regardless of whether they want to or not."

"... If you keep talking like that, Ms. McCallahan, your going to have me falling for you even harder..."

You barely catch her muttered words, and you realize quickly that you weren't meant to hear that. Still, the words manage to make you a bit uncomfortable, still uncertain as to where your feelings lie in regards to her affections, but you easily push them aside thanks to the problem put in your face. Still, a moment passes before Aria speaks up again, a bit more confidently.

"Your words are a comfort, Ms. McCallahan, truly. But in the end, I don't think you helping me would aid in resolving this particular issue. I don't believe anything really will, besides... No. That is something I truly don't want to drag you into. Still, I thank you for your concern."

"But you aren't going to tell me the problem."

"No. No I'm not. Perhaps, in time, when it becomes less of an issue. But for now, I think it best if I dealt with this on my own."

"... I can't force you to tell me. Just remember that I'm here for you."

"How could I forget? Will that be all, Ms. McCallahan?"

"Yeah. For now."

The conversation ends, and you hang up, tossing the phone onto the table. You find yourself slightly annoyed, getting your help turned down wasn't new, but with the insight provided by Cally, you'd discovered that you were rather insistent on helping irregardless. You might have to do some prying of your own into you friends affairs. Still, thoughts for another time. The final issue on your agenda for the night rears its head, and then you can get some sleep. You get up and make your way over to where the tear sits, leaning against a wall a little ways away. As if sensing your attention, Jean turns to face you, looking slightly curious.

"Did you need something?"

"I've been trying to figure out what to do with you, and I figured I might as well get your take on things."

"My take on things? I'm not sure I understand exactly what you're asking."

"I don't know... what is it you expected to do?"

"To be honest, I never thought that far ahead. I mean, I can hardly do what a tear is supposed to do, or not supposed to do, which is eat reality. That seems a bit counterproductive to your goals."

"... Yeah, that would be a bit destructive, wouldn't it?"

"Mm."

"Uh... what did you normally do? Before deciding to help me?"

"Perform horrible, torturous experiments on defenseless breakers."

"... Uh..."

"Or went on missions for Division 7, in which I captured breakers so that I could subject them to said experiments."

"..."

Well...

>>>Input Command
>>
No. 562024 ID: ddfb02

Not to say that those things aren't horrible but why? Getting ordered around by a bigger Tear?
I can't help but think it'd be all too easy to go active, eat the gaurds, and run like the wind...But I guess the Wardens kind of make that difficult, Tears gotta stick together if they don't want to get captured in barriers and all that...
>>
No. 562026 ID: c3a253

I feel like trying to tackle the "What can Jean safely do" question alone is silly. I'm sure the Doc would love to figure that question out, as well as invent new answers to it.
>>
No. 562031 ID: 4a75fa

Ah- heh. Kind of a literal and forceful interpretation of just being there for someone, but I guess that's how we do things, huh.

>Jean
...really not helping your case here.

What the hell is the connection between Division 7 and tears, anyways? They found a way to control you? Are they making you? I assumed McCarthy just found a way to take over. Or hell, maybe he's been around long enough to have founded it. But if there were more of you, that goes past coincidence.

>>562026
Assuming bringing his back to a base filled with breakers is a good idea. A good deal of them are going to be able to feel the wrongness of him, and there are those who would realize what he is. He wouldn't exactly be a popular addition. In fact, his whole presence would probably work against the whole safe haven thing we're pushing (scaring people away), and probably sour relations pretty fast if and when we're approached by any other breaker factions.

...plus, if we ever lose control of him, the damage will be so much worse than when Marc showed his true colors.
>>
No. 562154 ID: d77784

"...really not helping your case here. Why? Because some other tear told you to?"

"No. I felt like doing it. Or faked felt like doing it? No one told me to do it. I just did."

"... Um... that's a little..."

"Disturbing? So I've been told. I can't change the past, however, so what's done is done."

"I suppose you're right. What's the connection between Division 7 and tears, anyway? Do they make you? I mean, it seems a bit more then coincidence that you'd just start popping up."

"I don't know about that. While there are quite a few that have aligned themselves with McCarthy, there are more that are just going about their own business. The only thing Division 7 offers is money and political power. Why McCarthy wanted that is beyond me. And unfortunately, I don't know where tears come from, although I'm fairly certain I could artificially induce the creation of a new one. Maybe."

"You can make tears?"

"Well, I can set up conditions so they have a high likelihood of appearing. Whether they actually will or not is beyond me. So yes, it is possible McCarthy is creating tears. Might have made me, as well. Which is oddly unpleasant."

You frown in annoyance, non of this was making the situation any better for you and your little gang. Still, you have to hope the situation can't get any- No. Better not think that. You might as well just shoot yourself in the head if you completed that thought. Still, it didn't seem like you were going to get very far with this tonight, so you figured it was about time for sleep. As you stand to head towards the bedroom, however, Jean's words stop you, apparent curiosity egging him on.

"Why do you keep doing that?"

"... Doing what?"

"Pretending to sleep."

"What? I don't pretend."

"Really? You're like me though, aren't you? Reality can't define you, and therefore shouldn't be able to apply it's own concepts to you. Like fatigue. Or even aging."

"Uh... well it does."

You slip into the bedroom after that, suddenly aware of the fact that what Jean was saying was getting uncomfortably close to him equating you as equal to a tear. You feel yourself shudder in unease, and as you start to drift off, you can't help but feel like maybe what you are now is proving to be making you less... human.

----------------

The next morning is uneventful at first, although you can't shake the feeling of unease. At least, not until you get a phone call in the middle of breakfast. You glance at the caller, than frown a little before answering.

"Cass?"

"Linda! YougottahelpmeIdon'tknowwhattodoImeanIdon'tevenknowwhatI'mdoinginhereohgodwhatifsomethinghappanedandIwasdrunka
ndIcan'trememberwhathappanedlastnightandI'mfreakingoutandIsaacandthepartyandIcan'tfindChrisandthere'stoomuchan
dIdon'tknowIneedhelpLindaI'msoconfusedrightnowan-"

Cass continues rambling incoherently into the phone as you pull it away from your ear slightly, frowning at it. Clearly, something happened. You take a moment, letting Cass continue to ramble on, as you decide how you're going to calm her down and get her to explain the situation without causing more panic. The usual should do.

"-AndwhatifIscrewsomethingupwithoutmeaningtoan-"

"Cass!"

"-Yes!?"

"Slow down. I'll listen as long as you want me to."

"Oh... right. Slow down. Um... where was I at?"

"I didn't even get the first bit, Cass."

"Right. Right. Calm. Slow down. Stay calm. Um... this could take awhile, Linda. I'm barely holding in the screaming."

"Take your time Cass. I'm here for you. And please, don't scream into the phone."

"Right... well... uh... It started, um... a few hours after we drove off D7-"

>>>Vote: Chris Wayneright(Repel a D7 Counter-Attack)/Isaac Grimm(Deal with Drunken Cass)
>>
No. 562157 ID: ddfb02

>Chris
IT'S NINJA TIME!!!
>>
No. 562164 ID: 4a75fa

>Making new tears
Yeah, that's the last thing we need.

>Disturbing
To say the least. A harsh reminder that he is a monster. He's literally incapable of compassion for others, and is only working with us because it serves his goals. And the only reason we're putting up him instead of putting him down is because he may be our only way to stop a whole lot of monsters. And because we feel just a little bit of pity for them.

>like a tear
>reality shouldn't be apply to apply concepts like fatigue or aging to you
>less human
Well, we already know that aging is something breaking messes with. (Maria looked a lot younger than she was, and Aria has no problem breaking herself to a child. And commentary in the dis thread implies that's no illusion). Fatigue, though, so far that's proven to be the great equalizer. No matter how strong a breaker is, they can only go for so long. If we could choose to ignore that, that would be a game changer.

Not that I think we should try. If Linda's making herself human out of habit (something above and beyond the pretending the tears do- actually applying the rules she expects to herself, since reality can't), that's a good thing. We shouldn't try and make ourself less human for a tactical edge.

It had occurred to me though, that Linda's not so much a tear as at a halfway point. She's less real, still human. And if we're halfway, maybe it would be easier to try and make a tear like us than like everyone else.

There's also a flipside to that- if we can figure out how to make a tear all the way real, maybe we can fix what's wrong with ourself too.

Possibly the idea of fixing a tear by using ourself as the template is something we should discuss with the Doc or Jean later. The question of how human we are might be something we save for private and Elizabeth later.

>who follow
So... fight scene or more talking and drunken silliness. Kinda torn, really. On the one hand, getting a peek inside Isaac's head is interesting, but trying to direct how things go between him and Cass from both sides feels almost cheaty. On the other, a nice simple fight is appealing, and there's more we need to understand about Chris' head too. I guess I'm leaning Chris, but I'm not sure if that's selling Cass short, here.

Poor Nic, stuck at base and getting no action while these two are getting a second session.
>>
No. 562343 ID: d77784

It had been only a few hours since you'd repelled the attack, and in that time, you'd taken the rooms used by Division 7 and set up a more suitable base of operations within a safer location within a privately owned hotel. The assets provided by the Master had easily secured the locations and, in keeping with the Master's wishes, allowed you to reserve the entire space for your own crew to the exclusion of any others. You had to keep the chances of normals being killed to a minimum. You'd also taken what you could from the D7 "war room", hoping to gain something more from their files, but with little success. They mostly only had plans for causing mayhem and destruction here, preparations really for the true assault to come. Still, it was something, perhaps proof that could be used the Master to bring some credit to her speech later.

And now you find yourself here, standing off to the side as your companions celebrate the victory. You find yourself disinclined to join in, but with little else to do at the moment, you find yourself observing the controlled chaos that seems to engulf the room. Even Cassandra is getting dragged into it, although she is certainly looking suitably uncertain about the whole thing. Still, the other leader here, Isaac you believe he was called, seems to be watching out for her, so you feel comfortable retreating from the area and instead heading outside to check on the guards posted around the building. Nothing is reported as a problem, so you decide to head back towards the party, if to do nothing more than observe silently, but as you reenter the lobby area, you find one of the guards, knocked unconscious. You quickly wake the man, and when he says he doesn't know what happened, you frown in distaste. The way you see it, you have only two options.

You can alert the entire compound to the danger, but with most of them being drunk, you doubt they'll react well to the news. Or you could try to deal with this as quickly and quietly as possible. Keep those who are aware to a minimum.

>>>Input Command
>>
No. 562348 ID: ddfb02

Hrrrm. Tough call but... Not probably isn't going to be made better by alerting the party-goers.
>>
No. 562360 ID: 4a75fa

You already broke the initial forward force of the enemy, and from the papers and plans at their base, and your own familiarity with their operations, you should have some estimate as to their number. That means, unless they managed to bring in a large number of reinforcements in a very short time, you should know they do not numbers for frontal attack. This is, instead, a surgical strike. As the disabled guard would support. A precision attack by the surviving agents and their subjects.

Riling up a large group of drunk people and sending them searching in all directions would be counter-productive. The level of confusion and disorganization would only play into the hand of an enemy infiltrator. In their current condition, the others are safer from attack in their current group than if they split up.

Best response is the quiet one. Turn to those who follow your instruction- the ones who are still in control and disciplined. Hunt down the threat.

Also, should it become necessary to warn the entire group, you still have the comm system. And a even without active break, breaking to enact some manner of alarm strikes me as well within a spirit 7's capabilities.
>>
No. 562421 ID: 2f4b71

>>562343
>Or you could try to deal with this as quickly and quietly as possible. Keep those who are aware to a minimum.
Inform Cassandra and Isaac, then begin sweeping. They can take care of corralling the rest of the group and will be pre-warned if the infiltration turns out to be a precursor to an all-out assault.
>>
No. 562511 ID: d77784

Your mind makes connections quickly and efficiently. This is a surgical strike, not an full assault. They would not have resorted to such quiet and controlled measures otherwise. They don't have the numbers for that. Still, this needs to be dealt with, and you deem it best not to alert the partiers. At least, not all of them.

You quickly get in contact with one of your disciples and instruct him to warn Cassandra and Isaac of the danger, and to inform them that you are dealing with it. Once he is on his way, you grab a couple more and lead them towards the security room. It would be the first place you would take control of, as it limits the enemies ability to find you. As you enter the hallway to the security booth, you spot a suited man standing next to the door, a weapon you subconsciously identify as an MP5 resting in his hands. For your disciples and the man, a second of surprised inaction occurs. For you, that second results in the man's death, his head neatly severed from his shoulders with the flash of a blade. You catch the body before it can fall to the floor and lay it down gently, then silently direct your disciples to either side of the doorway. Once in position, you kick the door in with one solid blow, and your followers dart in, weapons flashing in precise strokes as they cut down the suited men in the room. The bodies thud to the floor, and one man screams, his arm taken off instead of his head. Your followers cringe at the sight, they are still unused to the sight of death. You don't have any such qualms, silencing the man with a merciful swing of Muramasa. Then your attention is turned to the cameras, eyes flickering across them in search of the intruders. It's mere moments before you find them. Two groups, in fact.

The first seems to be heading for you "war room", likely hoping to get their hands on whatever data they can. There's nothing physical there of any importance, except the documents you'd stolen from them, but the laptops contain far more precious information. Lists of numbers and possible plans are already saved onto the devices, not to mention the locations of your security bases throughout the region. It would be vital to keep the enemies hands off of that information, and while there are guards there, they couldn't hope to handle the enemy on their own. The other, however, seems to be heading down, below the ground floors, with heavy bags on a number of them. You frown, uncertain as to what they are attempting to do, but regardless, you resolve to stop them. Whatever it is, it can't be good. A quick count reveals each of the enemy groups to be about 30 persons in size, with perhaps two breakers to each group.

You turn your attention to the pair you have with you and notice that they've multiplied into 10 total. About half of the total number of disciples you'd brought with you. Those here are your best students, although they are far from reaching your level of skill. You'll need to split them up somehow if you hope to stop each group. Or, of course, you could simply deal with one group yourself and leave you students to deal with the other.

>>>Input Command
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No. 562512 ID: 759db3

Heavy bags? Either they already got what they came for, or it's explosives...
I don't know how well explosions work on Breakers, but I feel like while it would seriously suck to get our current base blown up, it's not as bad as letting D7 have the intel to hit ALL of them.
You, and the best student of that bunch, are coming with you, to stop the men going after the laptops-the rest go for the bags.
Christ+1Disciple protects data.
9Disciples on bags.
>>
No. 562538 ID: 4a75fa

>war room, data
We can cheat, there. The data doesn't have to be there when the enemy arrives. We can break the documents and laptops out of the room and conceal them elsewhere (calling a nearby object of known location to hand isn't a difficult break, and we have a whole group of people. The concentration penalty won't be big outside of combat, and some of the disciples might have active break. Assuming the papers are in boxes and there are only a few laptops, it would just be several members of the group each sacrificing 1BP to protect our interests). Then, instead of becoming a critical point we have to defend, where we actually stand to lose something, the war room becomes a trap, an ambush point.

>bags, below ground
It's an attack of some kind. They plan on planting explosives, or gas canisters, or something similar. I'm not exactly sure what would be most effective against breakers, but it's some means to kill all the breakers in the building again and again. It's the only tactic that makes sense with inferior numbers and infiltration versus a large group of breakers in one place.

Regrettably, there's no easy solution there. They will simply have to be attacked and dealt with. Granted, if we familiarized ourself with the building when we moved in, we're more prepared to ambush them effectively.

>how divide forces
I would say asymmetrically. The group without Chris gets more students, but Chris doesn't go into combat alone either. (Split the ten 7-3 maybe?). Theoretically, Chris might be able to go solo, but it would be foolish to play into hubris.

As to which group goes where- look at the monitors, again. You see anything about either of the subjects that would demand you personal attention, or make them the bigger threat? (Like if either was Jin). Failing that, the bag team are the bigger immediate threat. You should run that team.

...master might approve if any of the subjects could be taken alive. (George, especially now that he's had a chance to check out Rise's resistance, might be able to free some of them). But their lives are a secondary objective. Neutralizing the current threat is your priority.
>>
No. 562636 ID: d77784

You pause, considering options and strategies. The first thing to come to mind, really, is why should you simply leave the data where it is to be stolen. Or rather, why you haven't just moved it with your powers. You consider a moment, then take a calming breath and reach out with, simply telling reality what you want. And, just like that, reality discovers that you are right, the data wasn't in that room. It was in the room with the partiers. Because that's where you'd put it earlier. You smile to yourself as you check the camera feeds again, the enemy now heading for an empty room. Now all that was left was to enact the ambush.

"Two of you, stay with me. The rest of you, get upstairs. If you can, alert the guards their to simply let them enter the room, then ambush them inside. Understood?"

"Yes, Master."

"Go."

The eight remaining students dash off to do your bidding, while you turn back to the cameras to check the progress of the second group. They're already a few floors down, choosing to take the stairs to avoid messing with the elevators, and you frown in annoyance. Either route would be slow going. Unless...

Your certain your mother would claim your new Master as a bad influence.

You unsheathe Muramasa as you leave the room, entering another just as quickly, your two disciples in tow. You pause a moment, considering the ground, and then simply cut the floor from beneath you and drop down a floor, landing with a heavy thud on the floor below. You pause a moment, considering, then repeat the process once more, before pausing again and smiling in satisfaction at the shouts you can hear audibly.

Found them.

Muramasa returns to its resting place, and you poke your head out the door to see the enemy group having paused in the corridor. The lead man spots you instantly and hesitates, not sure what to do when just your head is poking out. You duck back inside the room, hand already resting on the hilt of your blade, a single deep breath readying yourself for the performance to come. Before you can finish, however, you find yourself interrupted.

"Master? What is the plan?"

Ah... you had forgotten those two...

>>>Input Command
>>
No. 562653 ID: 4a75fa

>You're certain your mother would claim your new Master as a bad influence.
Haha. Draw inspiration where you can. And she does have a certain style, doesn't she. Almost a flair for practical solutions, if that contradiction makes sense.

Wait. You remember your mother?

>what's the plan?
The bags likely carry some manner of weapon they intend to plant. Your objectives are to secure them, and prevent any of the enemy escaping with them in the confusion.

As for yourself, Chris, you're going to get right inside the enemy formation (blink) and begin causing as much damage and confusion as fast as possible. Attacking the agents from the inside makes it easier for your pupils to close the distance without being slowed down or stopped by enemy fire. A central attacking position also make it hard for the panicked enemy to fire on you without hitting each other.

After the initial bloodbath, your priority shifts to dealing with the two subjects while your students contain and/or finish dealing with the agents and secure the bags.

Neutralizing the threat takes first priority. Taking any of the subjects alive for deprogramming is a luxury we will consider if and when we have the chance.
>>
No. 562661 ID: 567c6a

It IS a ninja move to come from the ceiling. Though traditionally that's done through ceiling panels instead of just cutting through. Still, points for awesomeness.
Anyhow, tell them to charge when they scream, then blink away to the center and make the bad guys howl!
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No. 562746 ID: 2f4b71

Their job is to cover either end of the corridor, to keep the enemy contained while you relieve them of their cargo (and sundry appendages).
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No. 562839 ID: d77784

"Follow. Kill."

The two disciples blink in confusion, right before you dart out into the hallway and are suddenly in the middle of the enemy, crouched low to avoid an instinctive gunshot. There's a brief pause, silence, and the only sound you really hear is your own breathing. And then, as if to signal you to begin, one of the agents breaks the calm before the storm.

"Oh shi-"

He never finishes, as your blade leaves its home and you begin your dance, flashes of steel accompanied by the screams of the dead and dying. Within moments, at least six are dead, another three on their way. Without warning, however, a small pellet looking object bounces against the wall next to you, and you glance at it before it explodes in your face, hurling you through the concrete wall and into a room on the other side. You wake and shake confusion from your thoughts. Your blade and sheathe managed to remain in your hands, but as you stand, you watch as a man and woman step through, both looking deadly serious. The Breakers it looks like. Their agent handlers step through after them, shouting directions over their shoulders at the remaining men in the corridor.

"Get those charges in place now! We'll hold her off!"

"Hey, Em. You know who that is?"

"Uh, no? I'm new, in case you'd forgotten."

"That's 23... I don't know if we can win."

"23? The fugitive? THAT 23?"

You tense as the two handlers continue their conversation, the subjects under their control waiting for the order to kill. You remember these two. 58 and 59. Siblings. You'd helped catch them. Hadn't heard much of them afterwards. One had pellets he'd chucked around, could do all sorts of things with them. The most annoying were the adhesive ones. Destroyed your speed. Others were used for killing of course, but that one was the worst. The other preferred combat up close and personal. A mace, if you recall correctly. A mace with spikes on it. She'd been easy. When her brother wasn't helping her. Regardless, you had to finish this quickly. Your disciples weren't going to last long on their own. You hadn't taken out nearly as many agents as you'd hoped.

>>>Input Command
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No. 562845 ID: 2f4b71

>>562839
Our targets are the agents. Take them out, and we can deal with the breakers at leisure. Either call in your disciples, or go for Instant Movement to arrive behind them, seeing as they've sent both their captive breakers forward through a choke point without any rear guard.
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No. 562846 ID: a181d1

Blink, kill handlers, declare them captured.
Alternatively, if that ends with you receiving a pellet or mace to the face, We adjust our plans...Hrrm.
Actually, with just how SHARP Muramasa is, couldn't you just go for blocking Mace's attacks so the force of the swings ends up cutting through Mace's weapon?
As for pellet boy...We want to keep him in close range to you as much as possible-it'll limit his ability to use his pellets on you without getting caught in them.
In short-
Mace Girl's Mace is as much an option as the girl herself, stay close to Pellets to negate his abilities, and you should be able to win this fight. Cowardly? Maybe, but it's 2 on 1. Not actually much of a fair fight to begin with...If not a bit familiar.
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No. 562873 ID: 4a75fa

Okay, that's one blink, and one free-form break. Assuming Chris started at full BP, that brings her down to 41. Could be lower though, if it hasn't been long enough since the previous D7 attack for her to fully regen.

>two word instructions
>Get those charges in place now!
Dangit, Chris. This is why I wanted you to tell your students to focus on those.

>Your disciples weren't going to last long on their own.
Which means you unfortunately have two secondary priorities. If your students find themselves in dire straits, you may be forced to blink to their defense. You may also be forced to blink to the agents setting the charges to kill them / disrupt their work, if they get too close to completion.

>couldn't you just go for blocking Mace's attacks so the force of the swings ends up cutting through Mace's weapon?
Easily. So far, I don't think we've seen anything that Muramasa doesn't cut right through, even with negligible force. Possibly her sibling's weapons, if they're similarly enhanced, and potentially Aegis might allow Cass to block (it worked on Jin, but we don't know for sure his blades have the same crazy cutting edge Chris' does).

>What do
You captured these two? That means they may still see you as a subject. Agents are briefed on who traitors are- subjects are given orders on a need-to-know basis.

Best plan- terminate the handlers, and normalize. Make yourself appear, in the sibling's eyes, to have never surrendered your position as subject 23. (Shouldn't be too hard- presumably they're lower spirit than us, you still dress and move like a subject, and they remember you in that role. Only out is if one has really good will- but the brainwashing should have hurt their ability to think for themselves and get though this kind of deception. They're conditioned to accept the truth that they're told- and this one isn't far off). Then, order them to slaughter the agent 'traitors' (that way their mission profile even stays the same- you've just switched who's who) on your master's authority.

Best part, if this works, you can even order them to surrender their foci when the fight is over.

>tactics (whether or not the gambit to control the siblings works).
Fighting in the middle of the agents, when possible, is preferable. Crossfire becomes an issue for the enemy- agents risk getting hit both by you and the siblings (really a problem for his area of effect pellets), the agents will have difficulties firing on you without hitting each other or the siblings, and difficulty focusing on your students or setting up their explosives.

If you do have to fight the siblings, rendering one unconscious as soon as possible is probably the best way to deal with them. Since that will be hard when they're working together, you may need to work with your disciples to separate them.
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No. 563059 ID: d77784

You tense, and the two breakers tense as well, with the two agents behind them barely starting to react before you blink forward and are standing next to them, blade already sliding out with a hiss of steel. Unfortunately, before you can complete the action, you feel something snap against your right shoulder and suddenly your arm freezes in place, covered in an almost plaster like substance. You frown in annoyance, eyes narrowing, before you tumble through the hole in the wall and back into the corridor, a mace missing your skull by easily. A quick check reveals your students, at least for the moment, have everything well in hand, the agents trying to get past them finding nothing but the biting steel of swords in their path. Still, they're starting to wise up that someone's obstructing them. You try a second to wrest your hand free of the odd prison its found itself in, but you aren't strong enough to break the stuff. You frown again, not happy at all, but simply flip the sheath and draw Muramasa as the whole assembly passes you by on the way down, cutting a man in two while your at it. That makes 10 dead, at least. Meanwhile, the handlers are hardly staying quiet.

"HOLY SHIT! DID YOU-"

"SHUT UP AND DON'T PANIC! 58, bring the boom!"

Pellets get tossed through the hole, but you're already heading further down the corridor, killing as you move. The explosion that follows is bigger than you'd expected, however, and your hurled into one of the agents, sending you both sprawling. You're dazed for a moment, and someone manages to get it through their head to shoot you in the back, unloading what sounds like another MP5 into your back. Your spine takes a solid beating, and you know you're going to be sore, but unfortunately for them, the armor you're wearing, stolen from the Division themselves, can easily handle the small caliber rounds the gun uses. The attackers legs, however, can't withstand getting cut off. You leap to your feet, ready to go again, only to have a mace nearly smash you in the face. You cut the weapon, and the offending limb behind it, clean in two, but unfortunately, the pellets that come behind it are not so dodge-able. They explode in your face, sending you and 59 hurtling in opposite direction down the corridor, with you colliding with the same agent who'd just gotten up. You put him out of his misery as you rise to your feet, eyes glaring down the corridor.

"Holy hell! She's STILL not down?"

"She was McCarthy's personal bodyguard. You think he'd have picked someone that would go down easy?"

"Hey... she's still wearing our armor. You think she might...?"

"Don't bother. We have our orders. 58 and 59 seem to be doing alright against her anyway. I don't know what's going on behind us though. I'm gonna check that out. You stay put, make sure these two keep her occupied."

"Yeah, yeah... Still... I wonder... Hey! 23! It's ok! We're... uh... friends! Remember? Division 7? McCarthy? We just came to get you back."

>>>Input Command
>>
No. 563062 ID: 606aa1

...Oh man. I just had such a hilarious idea. I just hope Chris goes through with it.
Just say "Password". They'll probably go NUTS trying to figure out what you're talking about, and the distraction's sure to give you time to kick some butt and take names.
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No. 563086 ID: 4a75fa

>kill the handlers
Hmm. Well that didn't work. Sucks about the arm-plaster thing, but apparently Chris can get away working left handed.

I suppose we could try breaking the stuff away, but she'd need an opening or lull to try it without getting killed. And we'd suffer the full concentration penalties, although our spirit is probably high enough to overcome.

>fight siblings in the middle of enemy agents
Well, that worked, at least. 58 Probably did as much damage to the agents as we did.

>Holy hell! She's STILL not down?
...that was kind of an amazing amount of abuse without a death. (Although, minus a blink, we're now down to 36 BP or less). And that D7 body armor is crazy impressive if someone can unload a clip in your back at close range and only leave bruising. (Even if the bullets aren't getting through, you're tanking the hits. I'd expect a risk of internal bleeding or ruptures, especially from sustained, close fire).

A death might have freed your arm. Although, then again, facing multiple enemies, tow of them breakers, we don't really have good respawn conditions. We could very easily end up pinned or chain killed if we did die.

>Hey! 23! It's ok! We're... uh... friends! Remember? Division 7?
...I almost feel sorry for this handler. Poor Em.

This one is a lot less experienced and more gullible than the other, and she's currently alone. Pretending to play along probably has a tactical advantage. If you can get her to lower her guard (and/or the subject's) you can exploit the opening. (Either of the siblings unconscious would be useful. Or dying slowly, so they can't contribute to the fight for a few minutes, allowing you to deal with the others).

If there's anyway we could combine that with a normalize we might actually be able to get the siblings thinking they're on the same side as you. Problem is, we'd have to remove the handlers if you wanted to control them, and in a manner that doesn't set them off. ...I'm probably reaching, here.
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No. 563581 ID: d77784

"Password?"

That single word seems to throw the enemy into confusion. You hear her mumbling things to herself for a moment, then suddenly, with more volume, she addresses her comrades.

"Hey so, uh... anyone know any passwords?"

Silence reigns, no one willing to say the wrong thing as you simply stand there, acting as if you are waiting quietly. Instead, you analyze, watching for the moment you can strike. It comes quickly, the two breakers reacting with confusion towards the handlers actions. You understood the feeling as well, if only because you'd lived it. Why weren't they ordering the attack again? Why the sudden questions? Why does it matter?

"Shit... uh... Hey, Robert? You know anything about a pass-"

The words are cut short in an instant as the freezes up in shock at the sudden burst of movement coming from in front of her. Your blade becomes a steel blur, and your enemies, so much slower than you, lose limbs and tumble to the ground, flailing helplessly. A moment later, you are in front of the handler herself, and her head is separated from her shoulders. You step past her as her body falls forward, and you take the moment of stunned silence to try breaking this cast off your arm. You almost feel your concentration slip, but then your arm is free, and you switch Muramasa over to your dominant hand. The other handler, is far more experienced than his now deceased comrade, and at least knows a few tricks. Like killing his Subjects to bring them back into play.

"Don't just stand there! Kill the Subjects! Get them back in the fight!"

The remaining men behind you move to obey, but you dart back into their midst, settling once again into your deadly dance, even as gunfire erupts around you. Within moments, all those that remain near you are dead. That just leaves the handler and those your disciples are fighting. You turn to go back that way, only to instinctively block as a mace comes hurtling towards your skull. Unfortunately, you'd blocked with the bladed end, and with such a fine blade, instead of deflecting the blow you merely cut a slit down the middle. You head caves as metal meets bone, and you black out before waking again, forced to your knees with the force of the blow. Pellets roll and land at your feet, and you are suddenly blown backwards down the corridor, the force of the explosion twisting your body violently and causing you to die again, this time waking on your stomach. You pull yourself to your feet again, glaring down the corridor to see 59 glaring right back, even as pellets coming shooting out from behind her. You cut them out of the air, with disdain. But it seems, that they were meant merely as distractions. The handler and two breakers disappear into the room through the hole you'd made, while your two disciples finish up their task and appear from behind them, looking out of breath and physically tasked.

"Master? The bombs are destroyed."

That was one task complete, at least. You rush forward to the hole and dart through to find the three already disappearing into the actual door entrance. It seems escape was his plan now. A wise one, all things considered. However, you had no intentions of letting him escape.

>>>Input Command
>>
No. 563583 ID: 606aa1

Hrm.
"Deal with the girl with the mace."
So that mace girl is tied up, while you fight pellets boy.
>>
No. 563589 ID: 4a75fa

1 break, 2 deaths, brings us down to 33 BP or less. It was definitely worth taking those hits in order to eliminate the other agents, though. That simplifies things a lot.

>newbie-girl decapitated
Yup. Definitely feeling a little sorry for her. Not really sure how to read D7 putting inexperienced or unprepared people in the field. Should we be encouraged that they're getting desperate, or discouraged that they can afford to just throw bodies at problems? Does this mean they're succeeded at large scale recruitment, or that they're drafting warm bodies and putting them out there to die?

I do hope our PR campaign will make staffing harder for them.

>"Master? The bombs are destroyed."
Excellent. That's what I brought them along for.

...I know there's not much time for it in the heat of battle, but spare a word or two of encouragement for your students when this is over. Your approval means a lot to them, and they did their jobs well.

>Escape
Yeah, you shouldn't let that happen. The last thing we need is for D7 to retrain experienced handlers, or to be able to reuse subjects.

Blink in front of the retreating enemy to cut them off. Then they're pinned between you and your students, and it's 3 on 3, and one of them is normal. That's a fight you can win. Instead of 58 and 59 having an advantage working together against you, you'll have the advantage if you coordinate your attacks with your students. You can divide and overwhelm the enemy. (Try and capture the subjects alive, if you can).

Be alert, though. If you're cutting off the enemy's escape at the door, that means you're exposed to whatever may be outside. It's possible the enemy left forces to cover their retreat or escape. Say, another subject (Muramasa family boss fight yet?), or a sniper covering the door.
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No. 563627 ID: 2f4b71

If you have a radio, or if the building has a PA system, now would be the time to announce the attempted incursion.
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No. 563650 ID: 88960e

>>563627
Well, hacking the PA, if there is one, would take concentrating on a freeform break, which Chris can't do effectively while trying to stop the enemy from escaping. Cass is the only person on our comm network in range, but she's kind of drunk right now, making her reaction unpredictable. I kind of think sounding an alarm or filing up the party goers isn't a good idea, though. Confusion and chaos wouldn't help unless we needed to rally or move the whole group.
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No. 563665 ID: a30945

>>563650
>hacking the PA
I was thinking more 'grab the handset off the wall and hit the "all zones" button'.
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No. 565028 ID: d77784

"After them!"

You take off after the enemy even as you shout the command, and your students fall in behind you quickly, although they swiftly lose ground to your sheer speed. Regardless, you round a corner to find the enemy halfway down the hall, and for you, the task of cutting off their escape becomes simple. You blink forward, suddenly among the group, and Muramasa sings as it cuts flesh and bone. Then you blink again, this time appearing on the other side of them. You smile in satisfaction, the brother of the two subjects is not missing his leg and is clutching at the wound in obvious pain. His sibling barely notices, the girl charging you at her handler's command, the man clearly willing to sacrifice the girl to save himself. You end her resistance by severing her arms from her torso before Muramasa returns to its sheathe. The agent, clearly spooked, turns to flee back the way he'd come, only to encounter your two students, blades drawn and eyes challenging. The man glances between the two paths, clearly trying to decide something, before he throws up his hands in defeat and sighs.

"I surrender!"

Your two students begin to lower their blades, but you remain tense. Expectant. Confused. From what you can remember, Agents rarely surrender, preferring to die for their cause before give anything up. Then again, your only experience with other Agents were those your... handler... had loaned you to, and you couldn't be sure this was one of those.

Still, it was a matter of accepting his surrender or simply ending his life now. While you are certain your master would prefer the humane option.. Sometimes, your master could be too trusting, and it was part of your duties to protect her from all threats. Including her own bad decisions.

... What to do?

>>>Input Command
>>
No. 565037 ID: ae43f7

Hrrrm...
Honor your Master's Wishes. He will be under your personal surveillance-your students can return to the party and continue watching over them.
>>
No. 565043 ID: 4a75fa

Pff. I would have preferred taking naive-handler alive over competent-handler.

>protect her from all threats, including her own bad decisions
Haha, wow. I think we've successfully taught Chris to think for herself, again. She's playing directives against each other to get the interpretation she wants. (And I think I detect a rebuke over the way Linda handled the Maria situation).

>what do
Order your subjects to stand down, and surrender their foci.

If he complies, once you're holding their foci, render him unconscious and take him alive. If he tries anything, kill him.

Now, what are the real risks of taking a surrendered prisoner? Well, if the enemy is familiar with your master, it could be a trap. An enemy who knows how you behave can use that against you. This whole attack could have been a move of desperation, or a poor tactical decision, or severely underestimating your forces, or it could have been a deliberate sacrifice to put a piece in position.

Obviously he will need to be extensively vetted by those who are skilled in such things. Searched for anything concealed on (or in) his person (tracker, transmitter, anti-breaker tech, a 'break object' like Aria's gem, a concealed weapon of any kind, etc etc). Then and only then can he be moved to another location, or passed on to interrogators.

58 and 59 will be held until they can be handed over to George. Your master would be interested in their freedom. (Odd feeling, there).

>Your two students begin to lower their blades
Flash a look at them telling to remain vigilant. Combat isn't over until it's over. This could still be a trick to stall for time. (Our back is to the exit they were feeling towards, right? If that's open, we could still be attacked from that direction).

Once the situation and prisoners are secure, spare a few moments to give your students encouragement / assessment, then arrange to have the area swept again to make sure no threat remains and report back to the others. Be sure to check up on what happened with the other group. (And once we've double checked security, cleaners will have to deal with the mess).
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No. 565070 ID: 2f4b71

The one thing we don't do is take him further into the building or bring him to everyone else. He gave up a little too easily (didn't even try of shooting the breakers to allow them to revive).
>>
No. 565074 ID: 4a75fa

>>565070
He's surrounded by three swordsmen, his subjects are disabled, and we know how fast Chris is. If he tried a shoot-revive, he'd very likely be dead before they respawned (probably before the second shot), and 58 and 59 wouldn't win the 2 v 3 fight. If he's doing cold hard math, surrender is a better option for survival.

Of course it could be a trick, too. Confusing or distracting the enemy long enough to try something is a better strategy than just shooting, as well.

>don't want to bring him to everyone else
We would want to keep him isolated, yes, but regrettably, we will have to get someone else involved at some point, too. Chris can only search for a certain level of concealed threat. Anything on his person, sure. Anything hidden with surgery, or an innocuous object that might have a hidden break trigger (like Aria's gem) she might not be able to locate. (D7 does have access to superscience, breakers, and tears, after all). He'd need to be checked by an Elizabeth-alike. (Even without the precog, there's gotta be other people in the organization who are more geared at scanning and examination than combat).

Shipping him home for interrogation (or moving him to a new location) is definitely out until we're sure he's clean.
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No. 565768 ID: 4a75fa

One last thing for Chris to consider: her students are watching. It may be your duty to protect your master from possible mistakes, but you can't afford to teach them disobedience, or to disregard mercy. Long term, that would cause problems too.
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