Needless to say, Vanguard's reentry to the Network wasn't nearly as graceful as his exit of the previous one. His normally collected demeanor was fractured, and he came stumbling out of his darklight pillar, clutching at the rapidly flowing life essence from wounds on his chest. Grabbing at the nearby table for support, Vanguard hoisted himself up and tried to get a closer look.
Whatever Magnolia had done to him, or perhaps that change in code had caused within him, he was literally bleeding. While the wounds were slowly closing up, they seemed much less receptive to his natural healing abilities than his normal battle scars - and, worst, the blood pouring from it wasn't just a visual appeal. With how much he had already allowed to pour from his body, he felt lightheaded, nauseous, and little spots had appeared in his vision. The little room he had ported back into was practically spinning, and, for all of his knowledge on how to deal with wounds, it escaped him on how to deal with this - he wasn't meant to bleed. He wasn't meant to feel this weak, to feel this . . . this . . .
All he could think of to do was to apply pressure to the largest gash, at his chest, where the woman's blade had sliced through his darksoul to get to him. Offering what power he could to the flames around his hands, he intensified the blaze, hoping that his true life essence would help in the healing process. In the meantime, he awaited for someone to answer his call, whether it be another Navi or another man behind a screen, so that he could give his report.
The sooner he could get out of here, the sooner he could get to the root of this problem. He needed to go back and get a full diagnostics ran, so that he could handle this issue, personally.
He had managed to return in a much worse condition than before, both physically and mentally. His recovery was competing with it, but it appeared as though either the nature of the wounds were causing them to heal slower or whatever was going on in Netopia. Using more of his life essence was at least speeding up the process a bit, but still left him feeling all the symptoms that blood loss brought about. That strange thing at the border, Magnolia's appearance and disappearance into Netopia, the unseen one who had managed to exit Netopia at the same time despite the situation...
Many things were going on that required attention, though most importantly was probably his damaged body at the moment. This time rather than a voice behind a screen or Rosso, who was working elsewhere, he met one of the others in the NIA. It was a female secretary navi, wearing attire befitting that position and having chestnut brown hair and blue eyes. She had come into the room because she noticed the reading that said that one of their own had returned, but was startled by the sight that she saw right after and was a bit unsure of what to do in the present situation. Though to her, she presumed that perhaps the bleeding was something designed in to him rather than something that was also forced upon him now. She also wasn't exactly carrying any sort of recovery items on her person.
He looked up from his rather humbled position, leaning against the desk, as the secretary Navi walked in. At first, she seemed to be just on a script, answering a call as required of her. Upon seeing his situation, though, shock crept into her face. That intrigued him. While Navis likelyd didn't come back from the field bleeding all of the time, wouldn't it be the norm for some Navis to return bedraggled and battle scarred? Perhaps he just looked far worse than he first thought.
"Why don't you tell me? Do I look alright?" As cold as his voice was, and as sarcastic as such a phrase could be, he was entirely seriously. He couldn't quite get a hold of the scope of the whole situation, and he was slowly but surely losing grasp of what was happening around him. Even her voice, as it reached his ears, was muffled by an incessant, high pitched tone buzzing in the back of his ear. He could only barely pick out what she looked like, and, the more he thought on it, the more he failed to grasp at a solution to the situation.
. . . ?! He keeled forward, suddenly thinking something, and almost fell flat on his face. Picking himself off of the ground, he delved through his mental library of battle chips and picked one out. Data flashed across his visor before the chip appeared in front of him, and aura of darkness surrounding the volatile looking chip.
A chip that, in many places, was incredibly illegal to own, or even produce.
Removing his hand from his side, he reached out towards the chip pulsating with evil, and crushed it in his hand, lacking any coherent thought at the time towards what the woman, or the NIA as a whole, would feel about his use of DarkChips. As the chip's power poured into his form, surrounding him in a powerful aura of dark energy, the incredible sensation of its strength passed through him, and, little by little, his wounds were mended by the dark power.
Once again, he felt the darkness reaching deeper, and felt the power creeping towards his soul - instead, the dark power was redirected, purged, and then surged outward, his darklight essence blazing through his wounds and his hands as his body was revitalized by both the darkchip's healing abilities and his own life essence surging with renewal from the dark power.
When it was all said and done, he took a deep breath, and slowly stood up from his kneeling position. Vanguard glanced at the secretary Navi, and, only then, with his wounds healed and his mind slowly clearing up, did he think about what inhibitions she may have against the means he used to restore himself.
For a moment she thought he was being sarcastic. And admittedly if he was being sarcastic at this particular juncture than she could also hardly blame him for it. But his cuts were particularly extreme there. It looked like something had just tore large pieces of him out of him. Was it really a blade that did this? It still looked like sword wounds, just really deep ones. It was impressive that Vanguard was as able as he presently was.
"You don't appear alright at all, sir."
She was going to move closer to try and help him up, but then he called up a chip that even she knew wasn't something that you should be carrying. The NIA was questionable enough in its approach on matters, though this was just another step in that questionable direction. So she was running the process on a moral level, and then on a personal level, on how to approach such a matter. And after taking some time to come to terms with it as Vanguard looked at her, she settled on looking at it as a means to an end as long as the person was able to control themselves towards that end. Basically, it was a flexible subject. She herself would personally not want to try using one.
"But you do appear better now, obvious as that might be."
The Dark Chip had done much for his injuries. Seemed it was better able to handle the damage he took than his natural healing prowess. Something that was at least learned from this encounter, among other things.
She didn't call anyone in, nor did anyone arrive to apprehend him for his use of the illegal chip. She, personally, didn't seem very perturbed by the ordeal, either. Her calm stare was something of an unspoken answer to his silent question. Vanguard decided it would be best to leave it at that, and went on to give his report.
"I have much to report; the situation at the border was . . . interesting, to say the least," he began, wanting to get right to it. Tapping his visor, Vanguard projected a screen in front of him, stepping off to one side so that the secretary had a better view.
"The first thing I did when reaching the border was run analytics on the actual border, to try and see if any errors or blocks in the code were present that prevented it from resetting. My findings were less than appealing." The floating purple screen ran with line after line of the infinitely shifting, infinitely changing code that he had logged from his brief expenditure of analyzing the border's code. "It was like some gigantic ripple pulsed through the entirety of Netopia; even my own code had been rapidly shifting," he explained, just as the logs ran through his own shifting code. "The security protocols within the border had already been vastly different from my, ah, previous visit, and the same code running in the protocols had been running through my own program.
"Despite all the changes, nothing seemed to be working any differently. It all functioned normally, just operating on a different source code. As soon as the changes became evident, it all re-calibrated, and everything went back to normal."
Interesting, to say the least? What did he uncover when he did his investigation at the border? Upon showing her the findings however, she was probably even more startled then he was on the scene. Though possibly not as much too as he literally had to experience it firsthand. So much happened all at once that it looked like it was impossible... but if it was in fact possible then how would they go about it? Whatever it was had rewritten all of Netopia, which posed a threat all of its own kind there. It fell in line with what their overall objective was: stopping things that had that much power to flaunt because they could for whatever means they felt they should flaunt them for.
"Previous visit... right."
In a bid to keep her own grasp on the situation intact she recalled that information pretty much pinned Vanguard as the starting force of the border's fall since his was the nail in the coffin. Quite the visit that was indeed, one could say. Still, focusing on matters at hand this was a serious problem. How would they even begin to approach something like this? She definitely did not know, so passing this along was crucial. But beyond what Vanguard himself could show them there was no evidence to even begin an investigation... far more thorough than things had been in the past against forces of great power.
"I'm not even sure where they'll begin, but I'll relay the message to the higher-ups. Though our strongest field agent is presently occupied with other pressing matters too, so he won't be of assistance for now."
That could probably mean that it was referring to Rosso. He did just receive another mission that he was taking care of. The rest of their approach would be left up to the rest of them, and their human operatives would see about what they could do about pretty much all of it, though seeing as there was nothing there, her expectations weren't set very high as of this moment. But that left something else that was important to her out too. Vanguard wasn't exactly a lightweight as a field agent either, all things considered.
"But how did you incur all of those injuries, then? Was it Genesis again?"
Vanguard pounced on her words like an eagle falling on their prey. "I know exactly where they can begin their investigation," he said with conviction, mentally running through the remainder of the analytics to show a digital map source. "Before they could cut it, I traced the connection back to the source of the change. While it is likely it is a false pretense, it is something to work on - a secluded location, on the human side," he explained, spitting out human like it left some foul taste in his mouth.
She then mentioned their strongest field agent. Based on who they sent in to first apprehend him, and the power he detected - or, rather, the lack thereof - he could presume that she referred to Rosso. It would seem that the arrogant Navi had something of a name for himself. If given the opportunity, he would gladly test whose flames burned strongest. Something about how Rosso was preparing his personal blazers when the man broke in left him to wonder just how badly Rosso wanted to delete him.
He was pulled from his thoughts by her next question, and had to take a second look at himself to wonder what wounds she had meant. Scoffing at himself, he remembered what had caused his hasty return in the first place; he had nearly forgotten about the wounds the swordswoman had sent him on him. "I attempted to call in a disturbance, but, the line was tainted with static. An entity crossed from Netopia into Electopia, and another - Magnolia was her name - dashed across the border into Netopia as though it were nothing.
"She was kind of like Rosso, in that she gave off no indications of any power - I couldn't read her data . . ." he trailed off, not wanting to tell too much of what he learned from his encounter. "I reported both instances through the NIA Isolator, and gave chase to Magnolia. Those battle wounds were her courtesy."
What he decided not to mention was how few battle wounds she walked away with. Being the first entity to assail the border since it fell under his jurisdiction, Vanguard felt personally responsible for her escaping - and intended to be the one to bring her down.
On the human side of things? Were there humans around that were capable of doing things like this? It made sense why it was likely a false pretense, but it was still something to go off of that also showed Vanguard's distaste in humanity as a whole. She noted it down as something to have their human agents investigate as well, a location that was certainly not the easiest to go and deal with. Though she was honestly hoping he would have just claimed that it was Genesis who did the deed rather than a new face. That meant they had another problematic figure running around Netopia to try and deal with.
"Kind of like Rosso? Hm..."
That gave her a thought then. How much did they know about Rosso on file? She imagined his information was something privvy to their higher officials, but many of them didn't know his origins or where he came from. He simply showed up and joined the NIA one day and distinguished himself by swiftly decimating many problematic targets in record time. He hadn't been particularly challenged in his time with them at all. Was it some sort of new design that was steadily becoming more available, or... she would keep those thoughts to herself as well.
"Then we'll leave her to you for now and focus on the other matter. Though you might have some work to do already. From what we've gleaned from their discussion, they're troublemakers already."
She pulled up a screen of her own, displaying the border. In this particular case, two more figures being on the screen. She imagined he already knew this much, but in a show of good faith on her part she let it be known that they were at least keeping tabs there as well should he be preoccupied. They wouldn't interfere in his jurisdiction, as it was his own, but they would at least make certain to notify him when something was amiss too. It also displayed where they intended to go next, should they be absent on his return.
"Both have affiliations with Darkloids and one looks the part. Neither have good intentions for others as a whole."
She seemed lost in her own thoughts at his comparison between Magnolia and Rosso. He remembered more and more with each passing moment that he was the one here that was new - in all of his experience, he was the one used to filling in others on important information, be that about the business he ran or the target he hunted. For the first time in a very long time, it was Vanguard that needed the explanations. How new was Rosso? Just how much did the rest of the NIA know about the mysterious Navi?
She seemed keen on keeping the talk formal, however, and quickly shifted gears to what was his next assignment. He turned his attention to the screen she pulled up, and instantly huffed when he saw the familiar landscape of the border. He had a small monitor on the edge of his visor displaying almost the exact same feed, only his was more focused on the border edges itself - her monitor seemed focus farther into the netspace, closer to where he and Magnolia had crossed blades.
Something had told him that, even with it being his own jurisdiction, they would still choose to keep tabs on him. With this sort of organization, nothing was to be strictly given to another - there was always a hierarchy of command, and there was someone above him watching his border, even as he delegated its control.
If they had gotten this far into the Netspace, then they were either fast paced individuals, or were present during his fight. If the latter were true, he likely could've seen them, if he weren't so hasty to return after his sparring failure.
The two on screen were strangely reminiscent of one another, even if only vaguely. They both possessed the same, gelatinous, glossy skin substance with pulsating red veins coursing through them. The larger of the two was encased in a powerful looking steel core, acting like a carapace to its gelatinous body - whether to account for integrity or assist in structural form, he couldn't tell.
The smaller of the two - sitting in the other's lap - had rather simplistic armor, without specialization or any particular purpose aside from being there, coating their form. It was almost like a mother cradling her repugnant child.
He raised an eyebrow and turned to the secretary, only just then thinking on her choice of words. She listed all the normal criteria he would consider before taking a target. Glancing back at the screen, he studied the situation more carefully, with their idle banter and the childlike behavior of the less specialized blob. While the carapace encased Navi was definitely imposing, the one alongside them had no indicators that worried Vanguard.
Still. They were on his border, and, regardless of how he felt about them, that required his investigation. "I'll be sure to return to the border, then, and assess the situation for myself." His words were short, purposeful and direct. An unspoken warning hid within his insidious glare as he prepared to exit:
She closed her eyes and gave him a small bow as he departed. He was always one to investigate before taking action. Here was hoping they didn't just pull the wool over his eyes and he let them go, only to have them stir up later problems. That wouldn't look so good for the one in charge of the border, would it? But were that the case, it would similarly fall upon him to try and run damage control.
...And boy, would that be quite the amount of damage control they would have to deal with if their little plan ran off without a hitch.
Vanguard: 25 exp/ 250 zenny.
Wackoguy: Hello there, Rego.
Mar 17, 2020 14:38:15 GMT -8