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File 162847150691.png - (361.37KB , 1000x1000 , chp2header.png )
1007458 No. 1007458 ID: 5bf1bd

Chapter 1:>>/questarch/985116

Hey... you think she'll understand?

She doesn't need to.
Expand all images
No. 1007459 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162847153025.png - (377.88KB , 1000x1000 , 2ndch01.png )


Things are different ever since the SAI got stuck in me. Now I'm getting all... introspective. That's unlike me.

Standing around, pointing my guns like this... it makes me feel a bit more confident. Better than just sitting here doing nothing outside the arena.
For those days I didn't have my two gals with me, or held inside of my Signia, it just felt wrong, like I'm a soldier on a battlefield completely unprepared.
Now that they're back, I don't intend for anyone to ever take them away from me again.

Nanoweaver's going to be watching over us again, from whatever distant little camera she uses to watch over these matches. I wonder if she worries about me. What'll she do when I'm gone, anyway? She probably knows better than to try and coddle me, or, even worse, try to play mother. Not that I don't appreciate her as a guardian, but I'm so damn tired of others piloting me around, telling me what to do. I agree to it of course - just like I agreed to the SAI's orders when it first popped into my head... but that's just to minimize conflict. If I had the chance, I'd do everything on my own.

But for now, I do need help from others. Even my heroes - they still needed some assistance to get started.
I'm going to shed this weight someday - and enjoy the world outside however I can.

No. 1007460 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162847154763.png - (262.76KB , 1500x1000 , 2ndch02.png )

Yo. Glad to see that you haven't just settled into my bloodstream like lead does.

Nearly time for my first match against one of the other sector bosses - the first of the main four.
As weird as it sounds... the fact that I can actually lose this fight ain't making me feel much better, because the idea of me having to fight my sister AND the facility's best sharpshooter at the same time sounds like hell to get through.

Nickel, the Sector Boss of the Covert Ops Division. A bit of a recent promotion, much like Astrolysis. Unlike Astrolysis though, it's not so much honourary - Nickel is definitely one of the best stealth operatives this facility's trained, but she definitely seems to play around in her fights. Part of why she befriended Astrolysis was because of their mutual fondness for pointy objects and general willingness to get themselves hospitalized on a semi-regular basis.

I'm... ambivalent towards Nickel. Like Mnemosyne, she definitely is 'respectable'. Still... she's definitely someone who doesn't get involved in other people's problems. She keeps to herself, even if she's watching a close pal of hers break someone's arm, or actively lie. So that just leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Dunno if you feel the same, but aren't people complicit in a crime if they just stand around doing nothing? That's the kind of shit I'd probably stop when I'm a full-fledged hero sort. Don't give as much of a damn about the person being victimized as making sure the attackers are getting their shit pushed in.

As a reminder - Nickel's Parasignia is a knife. Honestly, the document we got from Nanoweaver... it went into how it works, but I'm sure there's more to her Parasignia than it being a literal single knife that works better than average, and can be recalled at any given moment. Sure, it's something I have to watch out for lest she threaten to poke my eyes out, but I'd assume she would have wanted to try and... make her Parasignia something more suited for her long-ranged fighting style? Not sure if that's something you can do with a lot of intention, but it's like how my Parasignia works well with my general approach to things.
I think Nanoweaver said it once, but, let's say you had a gal who could run really fast - it's something innate to her. She wouldn't want a Parasignia that manifests as a gun or any other projectile weapon because it wouldn't gel as well with her main strengths which are momentum and evasion, as if you really needed a gun, you could just get one. There's no damn need to make a Parasignia that just does the job that a tool already does unless it does something that usual tools can't accomplish.

Back to business, though. Like before, I'm gonna want to ask you for suggestions on my loadout for the upcoming fight.

The Covert Ops Division is probably the least predictable sector. Like the Training area, it's pretty modular - things can be set up in here in a few different ways. What is consistent though, is that we'll be going through three areas - the Urban environment, the natural environment, then finally the power grid. Nickel's a total sucker for one-on-one duels. She'll definitely be falling back to the power grid if I keep pushing forwards. The hard part's getting through all of the traps that she's set up. Unlike me, she's definitely had a lot of time to get this ready, and it's not like she needed to worry about people wandering in when the sector's primarily for training anyway.
I have to deal with the unpredictable environments while avoiding any traps she would've set up, and fending off her high-powered shots all the while.

The urban area's got plenty of walls - it's meant to train us for fighting in buildings and tight spaces. To normal soldiers, a bunch of rooms in close proximity's pretty hellish - you'd never know what's around the corner. But we're not exactly normal, are we? Nickel's going to be setting up traps and killboxes in this area, primarily in corners and the ends of hallways. She's far more evasive than I am, but I'll say that chasing after her in a rush is going to get me exploded, especially since she can dodge things like her own tripwires much more easily than I can. This is one of the few times her size is an advantage, and she's damn well going to use that against me as much as she can. It's when we pin her down in the third area when I can really deliver the beat-down.

The natural-looking area is a bit weirder. The facility couldn't exactly recreate an entire natural environment since the trees would get shot up pretty bad if that were the case, so we've got 'simulated' trees instead. Still, the room is pretty atmospheric, it can even dim its lights to simulate a forested area at night. Somehow, I imagine that's how Nickel's going to be fighting me. Wouldn't put it past her. Here, she's going to be abusing her small profile for stealth purposes - probably complete with a ghillie and everything. Here, this one's more going to me trying to avoid shots from unexpected locations. She's going to be hiding amongst the thick vegetation of bushes, and there's not going to be much cover for either of us. I'm going to have to use stealth tactics against her and minimize any time I spend out in the open if I still want my skull intact.

Finally, the Power Grid. This place isn't even really meant for fighting - it's basically just a big room where a good amount of the facility's power generators are stored. There's actually technically multiple rooms like it, but this is just one of the lot. Can't have our little fight blowing out all of the facility's power sources anyway. Still, it basically boils down to a bunch of boxes in the room, filled with high electrical currents. But most importantly, little place for Nickel to hide. Prime opportunity to get her into punting radius.

Now that I've got five gadgets however, keep in mind I can still only equip four active gadgets at a time - the last one's gonna have to be slotted in one of the passive slots if we want to make use of all of them.

Current Benefits -
First failed trap evasion is negated.
First bullet wound is negated.

Don't expect my armour improvements to last forever, though. You see how shit went down last time? That armour's gonna be splinters by the end of this, unless I somehow never take a hit at all.

My current equipment:
Twin Revolvers - The Sound and The Fury.
Shotgun - The Creirwy D-3

Barrier Generator - Projected Forcefield
Beam Unit - Long-ranged Beam Attack
Explosive Discs (3) - Throwable plastic explosives.
Pitch Prefect - Wrist-mounted tar launcher.
Blink Capacitor - Short-ranged teleportation and intangibility.

That's all. Don't forget to let me know about any game plans you've got in mind - but we're going to have to adapt to how things are set up in there. Gadget combinations are well-appreciated.
Oh, and if you want, we can pick between the two entrances into the area - north or west. Depending on how Nickel has things set up, it may make a slight difference, but I'm going to have to fight through everything anyway.
No. 1007463 ID: 094652

>Dunno if you feel the same, but aren't people complicit in a crime if they just stand around doing nothing?
It's based on predictive context. If you believe you can call the authorities without getting punished, but take a sadistic selfie instead, that's accessory to assault. If you honestly, truly believe that doing anything other than standing around has a nonzero probability that the overleveled attacker will turn around and shoot you in the face, that's self-defense.
What you believe the consequences are makes all the difference.

Blink Capacitor [Beam Unit]
Barrier Generator
Pitch Prefect [Explosive Disks]
No. 1007466 ID: 2d57a3

Oh, not doing anything when we could try and make the effort is part of what's wrong in life, yes, but not solving any problems is not nearly as bad as causing them.

>Don't give as much of a damn about the person being victimized as making sure the attackers are getting their shit pushed in.
See, if you care less about promoting virtue and more about punishing wickedness you will end up hurting a ton of people and saving little.

Have you considered studying medicine or ethics? The world is in need of doctors and teachers than people who punch other people in the face for being bad.

How about combining Pitch Perfect into the Explosive Discs to create discs that explode and cover the affected area in tar?
No. 1007468 ID: 96c896

Did you see what we saw last night? About Armintell and Mnemosyne? Nanoweaver was watching his memories.

You're talking about traps... was Nickel allowed to set traps before the fight starts? That doesn't sound fair.
No. 1007477 ID: 2d57a3

Oh, yeah! Nanoweaver was watching some footage of an aslian guy dating a three-year-old.
What a total creep, am I right?
No. 1007972 ID: 894419

>Yo. Glad to see that you haven't just settled into my bloodstream like lead does.

Aww! You do love us!
No. 1008655 ID: cdabe3

Take all the gadgets except the beam laser; we’ll try to set up traps and improvise weaponry to out-stealth the stealth lady, just like naked snake

I’m also wondering how the knife’s recall ability works. Maybe it teleport back to you or flies back somehow if you leave it somewhere. That could also be useful for traps.
No. 1009058 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163029308408.png - (452.77KB , 1000x1000 , 2ndch03.png )

>Have you considered medicine or ethics?
I have no idea if any kind of knowledge I've learned about first aid in this place is gonna apply when I go out in the bigger world, let alonemedicine. Hah, maybe if I go to a world full of robots or somethin', then I could do some nice work there screwing on limbs or whatnot.
...Nah, those things are too intricate for my taste. A good gun doesn't have too many components to it, good weaponry are maintainable like that.

As for ethics, there's nothing that bores me more than standing around in a room waiting for things to happen, instead of going out there and making it happen yourself. I'm a practical learner! If I wanted to learn about ethics, I'd learn it from the people out there. Who knows what kinda weird stuff goes on in the bigger world? Maybe punching faces is just how some people negotiate.

>Some Asliann guy
Never heard of him. I mean, I guess there were a few weirdoes loving it up, but I never had an interest in getting into a relationship when there's much more important things to worry about. The people obsessed with relationships were the under-performing ones for the most part.
How's any of this relevant to me dealing with Nickel? I've got more pressing issues right now.

What? No, I didn't see anything at all. The hell are you guys talking about all of a sudden? I haven't heard from you lot since last night!
This whole... watching his memories thing. Doesn't that sound like what happened to me, with me watching that playback of my past, but from a different perspective? Remind me to follow up on that after this fight's over.

>How come Nickel gets to set traps before the fight even gets to start?
I suppose it's a bit of a loophole, isn't it? I mean, if this was a normal tournament, I'd be fighting her in the same place I fought Judicium. But I guess they didn't want to make things fair for me to begin with - after all, if the arena's simply their sector, and there just happens to be few plastic explosives lined up along the walls, then that's technically legal, isn't it?
Honour's a funny thing sometimes, isn't it? I could complain about it, but who's going to listen to me anyway? I take any chance I get, and I'm going to beat her using all of what I've got at my disposal - including you lot.

>Loadout suggestions
Alright... let's see here.

I take the Barrier Generator as-is. It'll probably be good for blocking a short or two, but there's definitely the risk that Nickel can keep hammering away at the big glowey target and overwhelm its battery in moments.
I also grant the Explosive Discs the Pitch Prefect's properties, and the Blink Capacitor the energizing effect from the Beam Unit.
What this means is - while I won't be able to use the Explosive Discs as traps immediately, with Nickel being far out of my usual range, during the last stage, they'll be indispensible for helping me pin her down or injure her.
The Blink Capacitor having the Beam Unit slotted into it... I don't have much experience with the Capacitor as a gadget, but I have been testing it out a bit. So if everything lines up,
I believe that it'll effectively lower the cooldown on the Blink Capacitor, as I'm basically combining the Beam Unit's high-grade battery with the capacitor's own compact package.
Either way, I feel like I'm all set.

I go in through the north entrance to the sector.
It's pretty dark, though I can see the looming shadows of the labyrinth-like walls up ahead.
Those things are modular - you can pull 'em out, stack 'em up and put the whole lot back in a different setup. Plenty of bullet-holes have been made in these over the years, but there's no intention of letting anything going to waste.
No. 1009059 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163029310710.gif - (572.00KB , 1500x2000 , NickelBossIntro.gif )

In the darkness though, I spot someone - Nickel.
She's just... squatting there, with her rifle? I wasn't expecting her to give me the whole greeting, honestly.

"Hello, Argine."

Shit, wasn't expecting a greeting like this of all things.

"We really doing this, then?"

"My name is Nickel, assigned Sector Boss of the Covert Ops Division. In the shadow of Marco Azni Saildrift, I intend on seeing this mission through to the end."
Feh, she really subscribes to the same ideal as my sister?
I meet her in turn.
"My name is Argine. Like Urza who destroyed all foolish enough to challenge her, I will fight for victory, mine alone."
Memorized down to the letter.
No. 1009060 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163029313702.png - (24.94KB , 1000x1000 , covertopsroom1.png )


Assessment Phase initialized. Displaying environmental data.

Relevant data to current opponent rendering...

Parasignia Classification: Weapon Creation (Short Blade). (DATA PENDING)
Preferred Weapon archetype: Bladed (Knives), Sniper Rifle

Potential Weaknesses (Subject to change):
- Fragile body-type - low damage threshold.
- Short reach and low physical strength relative to host.
- Firearm must be prepared for optimal usage. Accuracy significantly diminishes at close range, or when under pressure.

Alright, so - she's sitting out in the open, just waiting for me. Her gun's at the ready, but at this range, it's unlikely to hit me at all.
Knowing Nickel, this is most definitely a trap of some kind - she must have several dozen escape routes - and chasing her's going to be deadly for me.
Going in for a grapple wouldn't go nearly as well as I hope it would.

With how these kind of halls are set up, there could be a dozen different traps hidden around the corner - it's just a matter of figuring out what she could have in store for me.

As we're navigating through the traps - run possibilities through me. If you can accurately predict which direction the attack's going to come from, or the nature of the trap, I'll probably stand a better chance at avoiding them. It's good to consider other factors such as the map's layout and what kind of things she'd try to do.

What's the game-plan here, guys? I could try and go for a shot before she can get out of the way, at very least.
No. 1009063 ID: c92a02

Ignore her and just bust down doors while moving to flank. Can't hide behind cover if there is no more cover.
No. 1009064 ID: 094652

I expect the traps to emulate the environment they're placed in. For instance, expect primitive spike pits in the jungle area to fool your implants. In urban combat, you'll find conventional civilian tools re-purposed as deadly weapons; explosives made from bleach, turrets made of leather chairs and vacuum cleaners, alarm systems triggered to flammable gas, etc.
First and foremost, to the east is a narrow corridor. Avoid it; if she hasn't placed a flamethrower turret or a tripwire bomb, it's because she wants to line up a straight shot with her sniper rifle.
The double-doors to your left are an excellent point to put two cross-firing turrets; one on the other side of the second door to get you to instinctively dodge, and another in the dead-end to finish you off.
I recommend you power on ahead. It's the most likely for low trap density; Nickel just walked through there, and if you pushed her through where she currently is, she'd risk getting hit by her own traps.
In fact, your strategy should be to stick to close-combat and disable her sniper rifle, either by theft or destruction. Once you're sure she can't use long-range attacks, dash through corridors with your barrier and make it to the exit. Keep your blink a secret until you find a section that is short but clearly littered in defenses.
Start by throwing an explosive disc at her, since she was so kind to get in range.
No. 1009066 ID: 2f6ee3

I have an idea of how she might be able to use her knife with guns. If she can manifest them in the vicinity of any bullets she's fired, she can use that to ricochet and change the bullet's path.

Hmm. Think you could blink behind her? I'm not sure what the range on the blink is. If you chasing her is what she wants, she'll have traps in front of her; she won't have an answer to you suddenly being behind her. If you can go for a grapple, all you have to worry about is her knife, and how deadly it might be in close range. Though, considering who her normal sparring partner is she might actually be more comfortable with a close range fight. Perhaps the safer bet would be to shotgun her at close range instead of trying to grab her or her gun.

I'm going to guess there's some sort of trap on the wall just in front of her, since at your angle there's a small blind spot there. It's probably something meant to delay you so she can retreat to long range.
No. 1009083 ID: 2f6ee3

Oh wait, she looks strange, wobbly even. Is that a hologram?
No. 1009378 ID: 5fd55c

Wo-how! That Nickel gif is so detailed! Really worth the time and effort!

Firing a few tentative shots at Nickel while getting to cover is highly advisable.
No. 1009596 ID: 5bf1bd
Audio NickelPhase1_ElCargo.mp3 - (6.10MB )

Title: El Cargo - Splinter Cell
Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SzhjG6OkvI

No. 1009597 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163093081317.png - (451.04KB , 1000x1000 , 2ndch04.png )

>Fire a couple of tentative shots at Nickel while getting to cover
I'll do you one better.

>Blink in front of her.
>Cut off her escape routes.

The little cube thrums as I blink forward past her, Diagram's handiwork manifesting itself in my grasp.
I squeeze the trigger, blasting the position I had just been a moment ago -
And the shot phases through Nickel completely.
I'm left with the scent of gunsmoke, the pellets buried in the floor.
>Was that a hologram?
Seems so. Figures that she wouldn't meet me this front on, but she still showed up for the pledge, at very least.
A little projector in the corner was making it, it seems. More like she was beaming a video of herself at that location, instead of it being some static hologram.
No. 1009598 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163093082814.png - (30.90KB , 1000x1000 , covertopsroom2.png )

Question is, how I breach into the next room.
Now that we know Nickel isn't actually here, and that she's likely watching me from afar - what's her plan gonna be when I try to step into that next room? It's a big one, so it's difficult to anticipate what kind of trap she's got in mind.

Blink's on cooldown for around two rooms. Guess even with a better battery in this thing, literally warping me through the air's going to ask a lot of any kind of tech.

A few preliminary options for the room ahead...
I could crack the door open, toss a modded Disc in and detonate - but that'll be ridding me of one of the three discs I have in total. I'll say that, the discs are probably most useful here, as the urban environment's structure means that throwin' them has more applications than out in a big forest. But I could also hold onto them for the final section in the power grid.
These walls are looking thin - I could also shoot it, making a bit of a hole for me to shoot or look through.
Or I could blast the door down with my shotgun from a distance if I'm concerned about something like a tripwire right in front of the door.
And for a little more of an alternative solution, I blast a hole through the wall using one of the discs and come in through an unexpected angle.

What's the plan of action?
No. 1009599 ID: 094652

Go with shooting the walls. You've got near-unlimited ammo so there's little detriment.
No. 1009604 ID: 5232cd

Shooting through a wall should be enough.
When Blink is back, think you could get on top of a wall? I presume climbing up isn't likely to work.
No. 1009605 ID: 36784c

If she’s watching you, then look for hidden cameras and destroy them. If she has less ways to track you, that’ll make it harder for her.

She’s also got goggles to help her see in the dark, so any unexpected bright flashes will probably blind her for a bit. But you’ll need to find her for that to work.
No. 1009608 ID: 7a3b7d

Well, if you bust through the right wall, it's a straight shot to the exit. It bypasses almost every room.
No. 1010422 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163153917832.png - (288.71KB , 1000x1000 , 2ndch05.png )

>Can you get up onto the tops of the walls with the Blink?
Probably could, yeah. Problem is, they're thin as all hell. I've got good balance of course, but that's like asking someone to fight in the middle of a tightrope. Not a good idea if I don't want to fall into a room and set off the presumable dozen IEDs she's got lying around.

>Shoot through the wall, you've got nigh unlimited ammunition.
Damn right I do. I may have to reload, but when I can keep printing more using my Parasignia, it's real bloody convenient.

I stand back, aim, and squeeze the trigger.
In an instant, I hear not one, but two blasts.
There's a brief rush of heat from under the door and the hole I've just created - fire?
For good measure, I shoot down the door as well - and the room's a mess.
A small fire's crackling in the middle of the room - guess when I shot the wall, the debris ended up setting off motion sensors. If I shot down the door first, I probably would've gotten blasted as well.

I look around in the blasted room, but there's not much to see - bits of debris are lying around, but the explosion was concentrated in the center of the room, presumably to stop it from blasting down some of the walls accidentally. Still no sign of Nickel, but there's probably no cameras in here, given how close it was to an active explosive.
No. 1010423 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163153920483.png - (30.89KB , 1000x1000 , covertopsroom3.png )

We're at an intersection now - several different paths we can take, here.
What's the plan, folks? Take one of the existing three paths, or something a bit more creative?
There's definitely a few walls I could try and blast through with an explosive disc, if you're willing to spend it.

I'm personally betting on the straight path - get through two doors, and I'm straight to the exit.

Before you suggest it, while making a spiderhole's well enough with the shotgun, trying to cut out a hole in the wall with it for me to go through's just giving her all the more time to add even more traps to this place.

And a quick reminder that I've got those 'magic' cards on me as well, if I need 'em.

The wiki has Argine's current card count displayed, as well as the effects.
No. 1010452 ID: a1eb5b

Shoot the walls to the two rooms to the south in order to set off the traps inside. THEN go to the one south-west of you.
No. 1010455 ID: 96c896

Hmm, yes, it may be a viable strategy to blow holes into multiple adjacent rooms to make it harder to predict our movements.
No. 1010998 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163205621863.png - (369.59KB , 1000x1000 , 2ndch06.png )

>Shoot something to the south two rooms to set off the traps inside of them.
>Make it harder to predict our movements.

Good call, yeah.
With a swift kick of the door to my left, I jump back in anticipation of an explosion that doesn't come.
Following that, two shots to each of the walls, busting a small hole through both.

Next is moving up into the narrow hallway.
With that, there's only two more rooms until the-
No. 1010999 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163205631647.png - (755.70KB , 1000x1000 , 2ndch07.png )


>Trap nullified!
A massive arrow attempts to embed itself into my chest.

...ugh. Good thing I had the armour up. That's busted now, so I end up discarding the plates. As they are now, they're more likely to get in the way than anything else. Better that than any of my actual limbs, though.
Chest stings a little from the impact, but otherwise I'm fine. Projectiles have this kind of habit of... just breaking up after getting near you. I don't think it was like that before, according to some of the older clones around, but I'll take all the benefits I can get.
No. 1011000 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163205636237.png - (37.62KB , 1000x1000 , covertopsroom4.png )

Next room's up ahead. Nickel's probably got another motion-sensing trap up in there, but just like with the arrow just now, she's gonna vary things up.

So, here's my quick proposal - I kick the doors down and blitz through the next two rooms, straight to the exit. This place's a hellhole and the longer I stay, the more likely I'm gonna get blown up. So I rush through, dodging the best I can. Like before, I'll blast the walls with a few shots before heading through.
If I do it right, I may be able to catch up to Nickel earlier than expected, meaning it's more of a straight shot to the end in the next zone, instead of having to wade through bear traps.

You got any brighter ideas up in there? Blink's still on cooldown and I've still got my shield, but my offensive tools aren't worth as much when I can't even find her.
No. 1011002 ID: 6e4236

Let's leg it to the exit using Briarspirit, then. Check all corners once you are there!
No. 1011063 ID: 96c896

Well, she knows where you are now. Shotgun the door, peek inside. That's a very evenly-shaped room so there's probably an explosive in it. Might want to bust down the door from quite a distance.
No. 1011730 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163274523927.png - (713.64KB , 1000x1000 , 2ndch08.png )

>Now she knows where you are.
Fah, what a pain.
She's probably waiting at the end of the area, just waiting to squeeze a trigger and watch me go up in flames.

See, this is why I don't like dealing with her. She just loves to play keepaway until you get hasty and she shanks you in the back - but bitching about her's not going to change the fact that at the end of the day, I'm going to press her face into the concrete.

>Use Briarspirit to charge through
Good idea. I'll have to test this thing's protective capabilities, and there's no point in having 20 of these damn cards if I'm never going to use any of them.

I reach into the waist holster for the cards that Diagram had made for me, and focus -
Without even having to riffle through the things, the Briarspirit card flies into my hand.
Real handy. And kinda scary. It's one thing for someone to make a working machine, but... magic? I'm glad this thing hasn't exploded al-
No. 1011731 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163274527044.png - (763.46KB , 1000x1000 , 2ndch08point5.png )

The card explodes, surrounding me with a comforting green glow.
...Better than having a flashbang go off in front of my eyes, at least.
And for some reason, even though I've never used one of these before... it feels like there's going to be very few things that can put me down now.

>One Briarspirit card has been consumed. 2 remain.
Dunno how effective this barrier's going to be, but there's one way to find out.
No. 1011732 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163274528604.png - (386.10KB , 1000x1000 , 2ndch09.png )

>Shotgun the doors again.
Can do. Swapping between my guns ain't much of a problem when there's nobody actively hounding me. I just swapped to my revolvers as well just in case, but all I got was that arrow to the chest.
The door falls, my fingers feeding more shells into the Creirwy as I peer into the now opened-room.

>Check your corners.
Nothing in the corners...

And right smack dab in the middle of the room is a nice block of plastic explosives.
Knowing Nickel, she probably has three others planted in the room, near the walls if I try to sneak around. It's an ultimatum, a big insult. It's like yanking on someone's tail, knowing that she'll start something and get a reprimand while you won't. There's no situation in a real battlefield where someone would simply leave a big chunk of explosive sitting in the middle of room, where it won't even damage me if I stay outside.

I'm not patient enough to go around it, and she knows that too.

Ha. Ha ha ha. Hahahahaha!
I just had an idea.

What if I used all of this shielding, and Nickel's plans to my advantage? If these cards are weaker than the Barrier Generator, then there's no bloody point to using them outside of being an off-hand utility tool, right? And no matter how good it's protection is - that force has to go somewhere, right?
What if I jumped over the plastic explosive and intentionally set it off, launching me over the wall and straight to the exit? Nickel'll be caught off-guard, because there's literally no way she can anticipate me literally having magic bullshit on my person.

It'll be just like that one plan that I had come up with to escape once - gearing myself up in protective gear, strapping explosives to a wall, and catapulting me over some of the defenses and into the Weave Nexus' area.
...Of course, that didn't work since I didn't account for how thick the walls were. Or how the layout of the area changes every so often. Or the actual quality of that protective gear against explosives.
Nevermind that!
Point is... I can do some crazy shit here. Are you lot in, or are you gonna talk me down from this?
No. 1011734 ID: c92a02

You don’t know what direction the blast will send you because there are other explosives you can’t see yet. Find and defuse them first.
No. 1011743 ID: 96c896

I'm in. No guts, no glory.
No. 1012271 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163323289934.png - (570.51KB , 1000x1000 , 2ndchEXPLOSION.png )

>You can't guess what direction that the explosions would launch you if Nickel put more in there.
That may be true, but that would require the explosives to be facing me, on the other side of the wall. I don't see any.

>No guts, no glory.

The timing on this is going to be interesting - and so, I jump forward.
There's a brief twang as I cross some invisible threshold, setting off a hook.

I can feel the searing heat of the blast behind me - and yet, as much as I can understand how hot it is - it feels like nothing more but a warm breeze.
No. 1012272 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163323293054.png - (228.52KB , 1000x1000 , 2ndch11flipped.png )

I soar above the walls, smoke and dust trailing behind me. So this is what it feels like to be a mortar shell, hah!
It takes just a moment to reform my gun as I look downward for any sign of her.
No. 1012273 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163323297124.png - (185.69KB , 1000x1000 , 2ndch11point5flipped.png )

And there, down below - there's Nickel, her rifle aimed squarely at the entrance.
...Where the hell did she get that trolley from? She's sitting in it like it's a little tank or something.

Of course, she's not going to see me coming, is she? Nobody ever looks up.

I point and aim, correcting the angle as I fly - I've still got to make a landing after all of this, too.
No. 1012274 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163323299302.png - (512.29KB , 1000x1000 , 2ndch12.png )

Nickel tries to shoot at me while I'm mid-flight, but as I answer her with a blast from my shotgun, the recoil pushes me out of the way of her own shot.
The clatter of buckshot against the metal shell of the trolley rings out in the chamber, breaking the silence.

Boom! Landed a hit there, even if it's small.
Nickel withdraws her rifle, ducking back under the cover of the trolley itself.
There's a 'beep' as it starts rolling away from me.
No. 1012275 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163323301519.png - (221.70KB , 1000x1000 , 2ndch13flipped.png )

I roll as I land, the trolley disappearing off into the next area. Not that it's going to go far on the grass, so she'll probably be footing it afterward.
Lil' bastard is already long out of my reach - She had a getaway route planned and everything!
Still - this was what a card let me do? This stuff's crazy. I don't feel it's protective force any more, but if the other cards are on a similar level to this, I can't imagine what getting my hands on more... magicky stuff outside would do for me.
Anything I should keep in mind as I go into the next area? Got a bit of a moment for a breather after all, but we'll talk deeper strategy once we get the new area scans in.
No. 1012284 ID: 96c896

She'll probably have a different strategy in place for the next room. Instead of traps... let's expect her to have set things up to most effectively use her parasignia and rifle. Difficult terrain, and perches she can snipe from.

So basically, once you get near the new area, be ready to get behind cover.
No. 1012323 ID: b72032

But beware of the _obvious_ cover, which will probably be trapped still.
No. 1012423 ID: 3328c7

Using the trolley for coverwhile setting fire to the grass in the next area could cause quite the ruckus for Nickel.
No. 1012560 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163359974287.png - (253.61KB , 1000x1000 , 2ndch014.png )

Going through the dark tunnel leads me to the second area of this division - the natural simulation area.

Ever since people started leaving, it's fallen into a bit of disuse, as there's no longer a need to take apart the various setpieces and put them back together to simulate different types of environments. I guess it's just stuck in whatever configuration it's in forever now.

Not only do we have little artificial trees arranged around in what's supposed to be a forest, we've also got these simulated cliffs around the main area. Don't remember how exactly they made it - but since it's not like we could go off-facility for training, they apparently made a bunch of plastic or fibreglass rubble and painted it over. Keeps it at least somewhat moveable if the environment needs to be changed around.
They basically designed this room so it feels like you're in a forest - while it's enclosed by walls, it's also got one-sided windows so that spectators can see in. I wonder if Diagram or someone else's looking in right now.

I breathe in, the outlines of my guns flickering in and out of existence. I can smell the dirt and grass in the air - so different to the rest of the facility. I wonder if this kind of humid air's what waits for me out there in the bigger world.
No. 1012562 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163359982841.png - (105.66KB , 1000x1000 , covertopsroom5.png )

>Assessment Phase initialized. Displaying environmental data.

New floorplan is in.
Time for a bit of a planning meeting of my own.

>Use the trolley as cover
It's tucked away next to the tunnel's exit... but I don't think it'll help me much here.

>Set fire to the grass!
Huh, well, not the worst idea - the smoke can block her vision, but the question is whether there's even enough to get a good blaze going.

The biggest problem about this area is Nickel's ability to exploit the high ground against me. I could probably climb it myself, but that'll leave me in a pretty bad spot, as there's absolutely no cover if I'm trying to fight Nickel on even ground - not to mention that Nickel will most likely see me coming
I'm anticipating a lot of those artificial trees to end up blocking line of sight from me and Nickel so that's at least good enough to stop a bullet or two from her rifle. If I let her camp me out, we won't be getting anywhere soon. The traps would be hidden within the grass for the most part, unless she's wanting to glue C4 to trees or something..

My first plan's going to be going through the middle path, then taking the path on the right (my left). Then I can try and maximize the amount of cover I get while closing the distance between the two of us, while also accounting for snares she may have planted near the densest foliage. She can't stay and camp me out if I keep pushing her back, meaning I'll be able to push her back into the power grid for an actual confrontation instead of playing hide and seek, but with bullets instead of rubber knives.
Setting fire to the grass has some potential, but with how the paths are looking, I feel like it could end up hurting me more in the long run. Plus, I'd actually have to go through that fire at some point.

Any suggestions?
So far, I've used one of my three Explosive Discs, but otherwise, my gadgets are all ready to go.
No. 1012564 ID: 96c896

In this scenario, blinking up to the top of one of the rocks is a good idea, at least to find out where Nickel is. Or...
How well are those "trees" attached to the ground? Maybe you could shove one around, use it to test for traps or as mobile cover. You do have your shield for that though...
Be wary of the trees that are close together; a tripwire would be easy to set between two trees.
No. 1012565 ID: 96c896

Also check to see if the "rocks" are hollow by knocking on them. I kinda doubt they're tricks like that though, it wouldn't reflect a real world combat scenario and this is clearly meant to emulate one.
No. 1012568 ID: 094652

You could try to move the rocks around as cover.
No. 1012596 ID: 3328c7

1) First-off, since Nickel already knows your current position, yell "Nickel, just wanna let you know your philosophy is a bunch of derivative, fatalistic bullshit!" Just to annoy her. She might even reply!

2) Check the rocks to see how solid they truly are. If they are hollow, go through them instead of around! If not....

3) Take the path to your immediate left, then hug the rock-wall while slowly advancing.

4) Check for traps and sniper nests every few steps.
No. 1012805 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163403966998.png - (233.36KB , 1000x1000 , 2ndch15.png )

>Yell "Nickel, just wanna let you know your philosophy is a bunch of derivative, fatalistic bullshit!" Just to annoy her. She might even reply!
I don't even know her philosophy all that well. And I'm pretty sure she's been insulted hundreds of times for being a midget with six eyes in the past, so I'm not going to do that and make her even more aware of me.

>Beware of the trees that are close together; a tripwire would be easy to set between two trees.
Noted. In this kind of lighting, it's not like I can see those well at all.

>You could use the rocks as cover.
It's probably true enough that if I hug the walls, she'll have a hard time gunning for me, but it'll also be pretty bad if she was right above me. Still, there's no way she can hit me behind cover, right?
I crouch down, lowering my profile. I sneak over to the nearest rock and huddle up against it.

>Check to see if the rocks are hollow.
A quick knock proves that they're not. Though, I think they are lighter than actual rocks and cement so that it can be transported more easily. But when it's all set up like this, it's not budging without extra equipment involved.

>Blinking up to the rocks could be a good strategy
Huh, yeah, I'll do that.
Once again, the little box hums, wrapping me in a thin glow - and I warp upwards, giving me enough time to catch myself on the edge of the rocks.
Damn! That thing had just enough range for it.

I pull myself up - and in the distance, I spot a small, blurry figure.

A shot flies past my head, barely missing.
I duck back down, hiding myself behind the ledge.

Guess she's already got a bead on me now. How is she this mobile? It's one thing to know where all of the traps have been set up beforehand, but how the hell did she get all the way over there?
The sides of the rocks are pretty hard to get a grip on since they're not especially rough, but I'm steady for now.
No. 1012806 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163403973278.png - (110.45KB , 1000x1000 , covertopsroom6.png )

It's a good thing I can make my weaponry appear and disappear at will, or we'd be having some issues right now.

So I do have a bead on where Nickel is, but given how close I was to losing a few grams of my head, I think running along the tops of these rocks is a poor choice, especially when the Blink Capacitor's on cooldown now. These things aren't easy to scale!

Currently, the middle path does seem like my best bet - the issue is that Nickel's able to see me the whole time I'm going there, since there's some parts of it that leave me exposed before I can hop into the tall grass.
I could probably try to set up a smoke-screen with the Pitch Prefect and setting some of the grass ablaze - given that I've made it air-burstable, it should definitely cover a decent enough area.
But I could also use that to go for the right-most route from your perspective, which has more solid cover due to the abundance of trees over there. Grass ain't going to stop bullets now.

I'm thinking of using the Pitch Prefect as a fake-out- I fire it towards the right-most path, creating a smokescreen. Then I use that distraction to go for the middle path instead, staying close to the rock wall so that visibility's low.
Your thoughts?
No. 1012807 ID: 5bf1bd
Audio NickelPhase2_Yakuza_0_OST_-_30_Growling_Hound.mp3 - (2.88MB , NickelPhase2_Yakuza 0 OST - 30 Growling Hound.mp3 )

Title: Growling Hound (Yakuza 0)
Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtndbeucAbk

No. 1012818 ID: 96c896

Hmm, either she can use the knives as spikes to climb rocks quickly, or she can freeze them in the air and jump off them to "fly".

Anyway, she's just going to wait where she is. A sniper's best trait is patience. So you can exercise patience as well, and wait for your blink to come back, using it to move from cover to cover. Can you use it while prone, and blink into the grass? Or is that easily spotted? I like the idea of a feint.

...hmm, do you have enough demolition expertise to use your explosives to break off a large chunk of rock, then carry it as mobile cover?
No. 1012848 ID: e7c7d3

I like waiting for blink to recharge
No. 1012852 ID: 3328c7

Alright, let's go with your plan, but watch for traps and activate a soulburst as soon as Nickel sees past the Pitch Perfect decoy.

Also, make a mental note: she may have missed and revealed her position on purpose because she secretly cares about you and wants you to suceed. <3 <3 <3
No. 1012979 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163437884710.png - (524.72KB , 1000x1000 , 2ndch016.png )

>Hmm, either she can use the knives as spikes to climb rocks quickly, or she can freeze them in the air and jump off them to "fly".
Huh, if her knife does go through things easily, then maybe it can be used as a way of helping her scale rocks. Kinda doubt the whole using it as an aerial footstool idea though, since she only has one of things in the first place.

>Do you have enough demolition expertise to use your explosives to break off a large chunk of rock, then carry it as mobile cover?
It's not that I don't know how to blow off a chunk for my own use, but I don't have the proper setup! Can't really blow off a chunk that's even shaped in a way that makes it so I'd be able to hold it and protect myself with it at the same time.

>She may have missed and revealed her position on purpose because she secretly cares about you and wants you to succeed.
She's been trying to blow me up for the past section this whole time, yeah right.

>Wait for the Blink to recharge.
Ugh, I never like doing this kind of thing, but you're right. Against people who outrange me, rushing in's only going to make things worse.
So I wait.


It's quiet.
A little pulse reminds me that the gadget's now charged up properly.

Time to put the plan into action.

Solburst's on stand-by in case Nickel tries to get a shot through, but I've also got armour good enough to stop one shot without actually hurting me if it comes down to it.

The Pitch Prefect's been put into the Explosive Discs, which is pretty convenient since that means I don't need to go out of my way to set the field on fire, heh.
As I hang off the side of the cliff - I manifest one of the discs in my free hand, pitching it towards the middle path.
It flies out, catching on the air for a moment - and I set it off, lighting up the room.
Flaming hot tar flies across the area, landing in the grass and burning it up.
Eugh. I can already smell the smoke.
That's One of my three Explosive Discs consumed in the process.

As the sounds of crackling fire fills my ears, I blink over to the patch of grass on the right path.
It feels a little weird, as it's more like I blink above the grass' physical mass before I flop into it. The feeling of the packed dirt beneath my sleeves and the tickling of the grass against my body... I can't seem to get used to it.
Shuffling down, I move up as much as I can, watching for potential hidden traps in the grass itself.
By the time I crawl to the end of the grass, I hear a shot in the distance ring out. I don't hear any bullets impact nearby, though.
When bullets are going this fast, it's hard to know where they come from at all. That's why I'm glad that the map at least can tell where it's...
No. 1012980 ID: 5bf1bd
File 163437889751.png - (134.76KB , 1000x1000 , covertopsroom7.png )

Okay, what the hell is this?
There is no way there's this many shots coming from this many angles! So either Nickel actually does have multiple bodies like you lunatics have been rambling about before, or there's something extremely strange going on.

Is this her Parasignia's effect? It could be.
Makes it a far harder task of tracking where she's gone, though. I'm not even sure if the previous position that's been shown is even accurate if she can spoof data like this.

Alright, here's my plan then - I keep going forward with the current path. There's no grass between me and the next safe spot, but I don't actually know where Nickel is at this moment anyway. If I sit around and wait for the blink to recharge again, the smokescreen's going to clear up and I'm far more likely to get shot again anyway.
Nickel's bound to start falling back as I get closer, since she wants to maintain the range advantage, especially since I can warp and mess her up that way.
For now, got any bright ideas for how I can try and close the gap without drawing too much attention to myself?
No. 1012981 ID: 96c896

I doubt she has multiple bodies. It's more likely she has robot drones. She had a hologram at the entrance, and was riding in a cart, so clearly she's allowed to have gadgets of her own. I think she's got remote controlled guns at various sniper perches, and she's acting as the spotter for all of them. She might have holograms at each one as well, which would mean you couldn't tell which one is the real one with your own eyes... I sure hope not, because that would mean you'd have to either figure out which one is real before attacking, or just attack all of them.
At least it seems like she's not allowed to have cameras spotting for her...
Oh, you said you were surprised that she got up on the rocks so fast. Maybe the one enemy dot we see on the ground is her?
...another possibility, instead of remote guns: she can *shatter* her parasignia's knife, creating electrical chaff, or something else that interferes with our ability to scan the battlefield. Like, a special echo? I have to assume our sensorium can deal with all the echoes that happen in a large indoor room like this one.

Either way, the first shot came from a perch somewhere on the rocks. We saw the bullet's trajectory, you can't fool our visuals that easily even if somehow our audio data is being disrupted.

If you make it to the exit, does she lose? Even if not, if you can get around the rocks at the end of the room, and the enemy dot on the ground is her, maybe you can ambush her from behind. I still want to continue sneaking... oh, can you manage some camouflage?
No. 1013057 ID: 183556

Keep moving through the left-most path (right-most from our perspective), until you reach the final rock formation.
After that move circumvent it and move towards the red dot on ground level for backstab attack.
No. 1013450 ID: ed0bfa


… is she able to freeze time?

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