Warrior's eyes sharpened at the mention of Rosso's name. He hadn't heard that since his encounter with Nightshade in Rammount's aftermath, and even then, he hadn't learned anything about him since. The only piece of information disclaimed thus far was that it turned out Rosso wasn't who he destroyed all of the places Nightshade had assumed he had. Whether or not he harnessed Falzar's power was still an unknown, though.
His attention shifted from Merrill to Lalonia as she spoke up as well.
" No apologies needed. Nobody's ever useless, we just all have our strengths and weaknesses to apply to a situation when it demands them. Stick with us, Lalonia. A willing but unqualified hand is better than a qualified but unwilling hand; your time to shine will come, and there'll be a point where we can't move forward without you. "
He spoke to both now, tying up all of the loose ends that they collective held, or at least connecting the dots where they matched among each of them.
" The Reaverkings went off the radar after Juno fell. While Sharo's seemed to be minding its own business from what I could tell, Var made it sound like he was enlisted to a cause. "
Zaven, the stranger from Sharo, also hinted that Vestil, the Reaverking in Sharo, was an asset of his, but it wasn't fully confirmed knowledge yet. It was currently safe to assume that each Reaverking had their own individual motives and had gone their separate ways, but their collective involvement would be difficult to ignore going forward.
" A net-good cause, by what I understood. Or at least what they would believe to be the net-good; most agendas work like that, anyway. Most respectable groups aren't just bad for the sake of being bad. "
This was where it became gray, so he didn't explore further down that rabbit hole.
" I don't know much more than either of you, but the name 'Rosso' is at least familiar. I only know his name by a summary that a cat-navi had told me while I was in Netopia. Not all of that story has been lining up, but not all of it is disproven yet either. Allegedly, Rosso plays a significant role in everything though. A fairly significant role. "
The Reavers in the forest, that Merrill mentioned, was likely something to look into as well. Otherwise, Element City was Faith's last known location and she would certainly know better than Warrior where to go from here. It was concerning that she wasn't here in Creamland though, after this attack had been made against it -- it was more concerning to know that she could have been here before it, though.
Warrior would recognize it, first - the pixelated opening in the fabric of the Net that had floated just above the ground, before Var had closed it, had one not unlike it suddenly appear where it was a moment before. The same malevolent energy that it had flowing from the other side was lost to it, now, but, instead, came with something else.
The behemoth of a navi stepped out from the void, looking around at the destruction he had caused, and even now could see the additional destruction that Var had provided, even if he didn't know it at the time. As it closed behind him, he turned to look at the crumbling ruins, nothing but ash and destruction, that would be what remained of Pride Castle and all of its denizens.
As the power he exerted to create the warp in reality died down within his core, the aura he permeated died down as well, leaving Joker appearing as an unnaturally tall human, simply standing and surveying the surrounding destruction. He needed not stare at it too carefully - he already knew the specifics of the annihilation; after all, he had caused it.
It wasn't that long ago, and, yet, so much had changed. New energy roiled within his core, a constant companion had been lost, and a new checkmate had been delivered. How many times would he miscalculate before he realized that he couldn't always trust the numbers? How many times would he distrust the numbers before he realized that they couldn't miscalculate?
He had his back to the other three, for now, but, he knew that they were here. He didn't yet have any desire to speak with them, only to survey what he had done a moment longer, releasing a sigh at the sight. No remorse. Only the realization that it was a mistake, and only for the erroneous downsides it brought to his agenda thereafter. The only pause he felt was the loss of Unity and the Crimson Satellite, and even those, he realized, were purely because they were a useful resource to have - one, a companion when he had none, and the other, a power source when he believed he had no other.
The more he thought about it, the more that outlook sounded depraved and wrong, but the more difficult it became to call it flawed. Viewing them as resources made it easy for him to move past their loss - efficient. It also made it easier to take up the task of finding something to replace them - adaptable.
He sighed again, before he turned on his heel to glance towards the gathered three, staying silent so as to see how they would greet him.
Merrill turned to Lalonia first. He spoke softly, giving a smile that radiated gentleness.
"Two things. One - Just because you don't know, doesn't mean it's a disadvantage. In fact, you have an advantage of giving a new view that most of us cannot, because you haven't been around the net here long. There is absolutely no reason to get upset. Your thoughts are not baseless at all."
He gently reached his arm out, but retracted it quickly, scratching his head. He was unsure of how to react, both to her, and with Jake present. But, his smile widened and he nodded as Lalonia spoke about the Reaverkings. She did have good ideas to connect the dots.
"That's correct. If I understand correctly, there are five main areas, Electopia, Netopia, Creamland, where we are now, Sharo and Gigamerica. You learn quick! And that is a good point. With them being split up, they could still be connected... They could have their own goals, as well as be in communication with the others about their own goals. "
He crossed his arms.
"There are so many unknowns yet. But either way, they can't be ignored. Whether they work together or not, or even against each other, with them, we must tread carefully. I think we should pick an area and search to see what they are up to, or to any clues of their whereabouts. But as a team. i feel that splitting up makes us easier targets right now."
Turning to Jake, he sighed.
"... Rosso... I ran into him while at the Neopian Bug Lake. I was minding my own business when I found a sword, it was calling to me. When I unsheathed it, I felt my own energy powering the sword. It was unlike anything I had ever felt before. The only downside was, even with my abilities to utilize energy and life essence, That blade could absorb it all faster than I could generate the power needed to wield it. But the power of that blade was strengthened and conformed to my energy.."
From there, he looked down at his feet.
"Within moments, He showed up. Along with that black knight. He wanted the sword. He had enough power/pull to lock down the area before I could react. He knew me, knew who I was. He told me to hand over the sword or die."
He sighed. He looked back up between them.
"A little dragon man showed up. I gave the sword to him to hold while the black knight and I temporary agreed to an alliance against Rosso. A man with ridiculous firepower, figuratively and literally. One strike alone evaporated half of the lake. It was all I could do to stay out of close range. He had long range firepower attacks, that were strong enough to make the area shake. The black knight had a much better time. He called him... the..."
He scratched his head, clearly showing signs of frustration.
"The Ash Maker. That's what the knight called him. The dragon was slain trying to protect the sword, and the black knight ended up with the sword. I lent him some energy in the sword, before taking a blow to the head that was enough that I don't remember much after that, to be honest..."
He was hesitant about admitting the truth on one thing. That Death" had done most of the close range fighting, and had done more teaming up with Xion than he had. He didn't want to expose either one of them yet, honestly. For their safety, as well as Jake's and Lalonia's.
"I remember that Rosso had swords capable of producing flames that were so hot, they turned the sand into glass almost instantly. They fought to a stalemate, and both left. But the black knight kept the sword. It looked and felt so familiar. I know I've seen it before..."
Before he could say anything else, as he could tell something was amiss. He paused, noticing another presence, well behind Warrior He nudged him, staring down the new arrival.
So much to take in at once.. 5 nations in total it sounded. And Rosso? Was that the main one they were up against? A black knight after a sword..
Her thought process was interrupted, seeing a new Navi entering the area. Before even being able to notice Merrill's change in tension, she ran over to the newcomer.
"You, you're injured--"
She stopped short a couple feet from him. Lalonia's data analysis was very keen when it came to anything involving recovery. What she at first though were simple scuffs from battle was indeed much, much deeper. She felt Joker's lingering power, the wavering waves that exuded from him. Something was off, as if he suffered a mortal wound. He was severed from something that played a critical role for him. More than one scar even, and they were all relatively fresh. Lalonia felt as if this giant had just endured a war on his own.
"I.. your wounds.. are much deeper than they appear.."
Lalonia had a caring expression that quickly lit up as she recognized something. His aura was different now, but she recognizes the wavelength. She had felt a complete version of this aura before, back in a desolate town. It was brief, but she was sure of it. She curled her right hand and placed it above her chest just below her chin.
"Wait.. you, you were at that town, right? You saved the little Navi trapped in a glowing orb.. it had to have been you. What happened to you? Your data signature is unlike that time, it feels weaker as well. And that orb.. is he still okay? Where is he?"
Last Edit: Aug 5, 2020 12:16:44 GMT -8 by xoDeathy
Trebuchet MS Navi Info -The Fatebringers- Mayura V1 -Rosario's Followers- Rosario V5||Labrys V6||SILENT_CLOAK V9||Altair V7 -Neutrals/Unaligned- Navi Joe V1-(NormalNav1)||Rosary V15||Commander Kraft V3|| Sierra V1||Lalonia V10||Flame Hyenard V12-(BURN, BURN, BURN TO THE GROUND)||Keksis V8||Illia.KIL V10
Warrior nodded at Merrill's notion to move together as a unit, rather than to split up and go separate ways.
" We can't take any of them on alone, if they decide they don't like us being somewhere. That much I know for certain. "
Even together against only one of them, the odds were slim based on what he had found himself matched up with in Sharo. Warrior listened to the rest of what Merrill said, but it didn't add much to his own understanding, only reiterating that there were folk out there with an unknown agenda in motion.
It was then that he was alerted to the newcomer's presence. Warrior turned around to watch him as he surveyed the scene, reading his body language even as Lalonia approached him.
" ... "
Something about the air of his presence gave it away, but even Warrior couldn't quite pinpoint how he knew it. The awareness just seemed to be there this time, that this was the one that Var had mentioned earlier; the one that destroyed Pride Castle. Warrior didn't take any action of his own yet, just continuing to size up the newcomer from where he stood.
" Joker. "
That was the name Var had told him.
It didn't sound like a question, but the silence after it showed that Warrior was waiting for confirmation of whether or not the face matched the name. It didn't sound hostile either, but the silence also proved to mask the intent behind it.
And the silence would go on until he was the one to break it.
He noticed the man with the blades on his back turn and reference him to the other man that looked surprisingly human. Neither came rushing to his attention faster than the little girl, though, and he couldn't help but recognize her signature, either.
The way she could look at him and tell what he had gone through was further injury to his pride, but, he supposed it was to be expected. Even he was having trouble recovering from the brutish onslaught of the Crimson Dragon, not to mention losing Aeon immediately after. The energy he irradiated even outside of his combat state was diluted; before, it was almost impossible to completely suppress his power. Now, he felt weak, drained, empty - severed was a good word for it, even if he never heard her use it.
If he had the capacity for sorrow, his expression would've faltered at the mention of the little orb of light who could only be Unity. He had never seen her directly, but, he supposed the data signature was about right - it was difficult running those numbers, still. She told him he felt weaker, and he had to hold off the urge to prove his might - to surge up the well of power he possessed, just beneath the surface - because he knew if he surged that power up too frequently, the little storage unit holding it within his core that allowed him to constantly produce it may run out of its source.
His resource expenditure was supposed to be refuelable; unrivaled, even. Crimson could be generated anew from the surrounding, but, the power of the generational - how much of that reality warping power did he have left, without Aeon? Sure, the black hourglass he had recovered from the site was still affixed to his chest, but the power that hummed within it wasn't nearly as potent as it was before.
The crimson dread found himself lingering on the painful memories, the wounds that she spoke of definitely deeper than the claw marks he still bore from the Crimson Dragon's fury. He could do naught but look into her eyes, and hope that the despondency within them - the way that even he was struggling with his own feelings on the matter - would answer her question for her.
He turned his attention to the one that called his name, though, and that is when he knew it: Someone had come in behind him, to finish what he had started. The man looked strikingly human, much like that woman he saw from Netopia, but, in truth, so did he - aside from his height, of course. The way he spoke the name told Joker that he already knew the answer to the unasked question behind the declaration, but would at least give Joker the benefit of confirming it for himself. He felt a kindred energy from this one, as though they resonated on a similar level, and wondered on which level that was - the time bending power, the space warping might, or just the despondency that Joker felt within his own being.
"That is my name, yes. If you know it, you stand also aware that these," he confirmed, raising an arm and referring to the destruction around him, "were my deeds." It was very matter-of-fact; there was no pride behind it. There was also, unfortunately, nothing that sounded like remorse.
His power felt diluted, sure, but he himself knew that if he needed to, he could crest it over magnitudes across an infinitude of instants to protect himself. He wasn't entirely sure how to approach this situation, if he were being blunt with himself. He was used to appearing, doing what had to be done, and then being done with the situation. He was here, now, but he had no clue what had to be done. The unknown advisor had mentioned explaining his case, but, where to start? Where does he begin explaining to them that he will never be able to view them as anything more than numbers in a system, like he did everything else?
Where does he begin explaining to them that despite that, when his power source was put into harm's way, what he thought was his purpose for existing, he completely cast aside his analytics for fear that they could be wrong?
The suspicion was confirmed by the man himself, and he even went on to verify that Var wasn't lying when he told him who was responsible -- further validating the rest of Var's claims as well. The Reaver King's words were worth more than their face value, now.
" Welcome to the club. "
He was another "Network Buster" alright. It wasn't necessarily a friendly welcome as much as it was an obligated one, by the way it sounded at least.
" ... "
Warrior was silent himself for a moment as he evaluate the situation.
Joker looked like he had been in a struggle, and indeed he had against the Crimson Dragon, but from Warrior's perspective, those battle scars were from those that opposed him during his ravaging of Pride Castle; it was the only picture he could paint with the canvas he was given. While the claw marks could possibly be mistaken for dagger wounds, those definitely weren't Faith's marks; the scar on his own hand bearing testimony to that, despite it being concealed by his glove.
" Your successor gave off the impression you wouldn't be returning. And I don't imagine he sent you back after changing his mind on leaving me be. "
Var wouldn't do that. Not that Warrior knew him intimately or anything, but he said himself he was a soldier taking orders. If their shotcaller sent anyone back to fetch him, it'd likely have just been Var again.
" He didn't seem to find you that valuable, either. A tool to awaken a Titan, and one he sounded he was done with. "
Not his exact words, but close enough.
Var did set a particular preconception in Warrior toward Joker with the way he had described him earlier. The detail of the Eternal Endgame's sigil on his chest didn't escape him either, but it was a premature conclusion to jump to that being the Titan in question.
The words Warrior chose weren't necessarily to stir Joker up, but his reaction would still be gauged. There was little chance that he wasn't here of his own accord, rather than being directed by The Forces to return.
" Your motives are your own business; I'm not a saint myself. But what was gained by destroying Creamland? And where do you stand now? "
If he was here for a fight, he'd learn eventually that Warrior was seldom the one to draw his blade before he was certain of his enemy's intent. Until Joker initiated then, Jake was fine with asking questions in the meantime.
Last Edit: Aug 10, 2020 20:11:13 GMT -8 by Warrior
with Joker's revelation that he caused all of this destruction, Merrill couldn't help but frown. He was quiet, while Warrior spoke, asking his own questions. He again could feel his own anger rising, all of these unnecessary deaths, and he strolls back here, claiming he did it.
Unfortunately, Lalonia had gone straight up to him, and was concerned for his well-being. Now he was conflicted.
"What was the point of your destruction? You claimed these lives for what?"
He couldn't fully take the edge out of his voice. But, even if he wanted to, Merrill wasn't going to attack blindly. Lalonia was easily in harm's way, whether she knew it or not. And he didn't want her getting caught in any cross-fire, should a fight break out. He stepped forward, next to Warrior.
He looked at Lalonia. He wouldn't show it, but he was stressed that this could easily turn into a repeat of before, if they weren't careful. He worried for her safety.
"Peace. Please Be peaceful... You know that fighting doesn't always have to be the answer..."
"... He's the one all right. I can sense he's tainted with the souls of those lost... It might be ideal to destroy him now.."
"... Honestly, I don't know what to do right now. I suppose, since Jake seems to know more, I'll follow his lead. But if he places Lalonia in danger or attacks us outright..."
He crossed his arms and waited to see how Joker would respond.
So he caused all of this damage? But how, why would he? She helped that little Navi before.. who she could swear was no one evil. So if he was caring enough to save him, why would he slay so many lives? Was he forced? Could it have been the..
Yes, Warrior answered her question. This.. successor. His hands were forced and his reasoning was not his own. Did they have something of his that they threatened? Could that be the missing piece. Yes.. this must be it, Lalonia thought.
She returned Joker's gaze, and nodded in understanding. She couldn't condone what he did, but if he truly is coming back for repentance as Warrior suggested, he would be able to find it with her though it would take quite some time. She made sure her stern expression sent this message back.
Trebuchet MS Navi Info -The Fatebringers- Mayura V1 -Rosario's Followers- Rosario V5||Labrys V6||SILENT_CLOAK V9||Altair V7 -Neutrals/Unaligned- Navi Joe V1-(NormalNav1)||Rosary V15||Commander Kraft V3|| Sierra V1||Lalonia V10||Flame Hyenard V12-(BURN, BURN, BURN TO THE GROUND)||Keksis V8||Illia.KIL V10
The one with a kindred power welcomed him, a sentiment Joker didn't quite understand, until he considered what the welcoming must have meant - in the context, it could only mean that he was being unfortunately recognized for bringing ruin to a whole network. He saw the man considering his wounds, probably trying to gauge what had given them to him, the razor-sharp claw marks still stinging through Joker's very being.
What he said next would at least confirm another theory - someone had come in to clean up after him, which was why there were other parts of the network eradicated that hadn't been his doing. The man jumped around the name, never confirming if his suspicions were true, but, he didn't need to think too hard to guess the being capable of this much destruction.
The note of his value, and the reminder of the Titan he had awoken, was another stab to his pride, but, he did a good job at this point containing his reactions, keeping his face stoic as he went on.
This seemed the type of man to study things from all angles, and to consider the true repercussions of the outcome. He cared for the weight of his decisions, and the ends, Joker could tell, did not justify the means in his eyes. Joker held a very different standpoint. So long as something was completed to its expectations, why did it matter how else it was completed?
He was starting to see the value in this stranger's way, however.
That, of course, was when the questions started coming. He came forward and asked bluntly, his voice level, obviously trying to see the big picture before leaping to conclusions. He saw him eying the symbol on his chest, his wounds, wondering what pieces he could put together before he made any decisions. The little one, right beneath him, returned his gaze, and her stare seemed to try and convey a message back to him. Was that acceptance? Acceptance of what? Did she know what she was accepting?
The other, the one with the swords, from which he felt a different intensity of energy, kept eying him and then returning his gaze to the little one, as if worried Joker would snap at any moment and tear her to pieces.
The words of Uni resurfaced in his mind at the thought. The assassin he had condemned, as well. Not out of remorse, or even the haunting images that Uni had promised him - no, simply out of the reality that the unknown swordsman's mistrust was well placed. If he'd only known the true depth, would he even be able to restrict himself as much as he did, to simply stand up next to the other analyst and ask him about the reasoning behind his deeds?
Joker could not help but turn his stern gaze away at their questions. Without meaning to, his systems noticed the edge in the unknown swordsman's voice, and began preparing a display of power - instantly, the human form of his body began roiling with power, the black mist of the generational's might coiling up from his flesh as the power generator within his core went to work. What was a weak signal in comparison to previous levels suddenly skyrocketed, raising to an oppressive amount of force and strength that would be on par with, if not rival, the power that the little one had felt before.
Noticing the immediate response of his defensive mechanism, Joker took a deep breath to master himself. In another instant, his power died down, and the black aura licking over him receded until his power was once again dormant to the point of nonexistence.
"My systems are still on edge. A lot has happened in a small span of time," he said simply, as if that would explain the sudden intensity of strength that he displayed.
"You ask me what was gained from the destruction of Pride Castle, as well as Creamland's Border Islands?" he repeated back the question, providing more details than it had been asked with, as he turned his gaze back at the unknown analyst. "And you," he went on, turning to the unknown swordsman, ask me what was the point?"
He narrowed his eyes, incapable of hiding his distaste at the thought. "The point was to protect what I thought was my purpose. I am new to this world, and was brought into being by humans as an experimental project. I was designed as a Database - everything I do, every decision I make, is a series of numbers and calculations to determine efficiency of completion and value of returns. I was connected to a glitched supercomputer within a satellite in space as a power source, and used its intense quantities of bugged data to redefine what bugged data was capable of. When I generated too much power for the humans to control, they tried to destroy me. I was created and then I had to learn how to protect myself, and I had to learn how to destroy that which would destroy me.
"I went on to find something to devote myself to; the ONB of Element City was my choice. During the Reaverking's attack on Element City, Var and Deav challenged my beliefs, and asked me if the ONB was worth risking everything for. They showed knowledge of my unique situation, and seemed to be able to threaten my satellite. Despite my better judgment, I could not risk being wrong. In light of their threat to my satellite, I pledged myself to their cause, in return for them not destroying the only thing I knew.
"I claimed these lives to save my power source," he answered plainly, looking the unknown swordsman square in the eyes. He turned his attention back to the unknown analyst. ". . . But all I gained was defeat. In my desire to protect my satellite, I began storehousing power to use against Var, Deav, and those that worked with them, once the opportunity presented itself. As I gathered power, they used the Unity OS - the little orb that the girl speaks of, a sentient Operating System-based Navi - to animate the core of my satellite. Once too much power was stored within it, the destruction of Creamland compacting it too much, the trap was sprung, and the Crimson Dragon was born."
Once the story started flowing, it was easy enough to get out, but, he found himself choosing words more carefully on the go, and being sure to compact details that were otherwise irrelevant. He was unsure how much detail to go into was too much detail for them to listen to, as he knew what was important - what he had presented were the important parts, in his mind. There were more details to support the story, of course, but, this was the easiest way to explain what happened, why he did it, and what events made that a worthy cause in his eyes; to his systems.
Warrior reached for his weapon as Joker's energy began to surge, tilting his head in curiosity of whether Joker was really going to do this without saying a word. As the surge receded though, so too did Warrior's hand until it was back at his side once more.
" ... "
He listened closely to Joker's explanation -- understanding his motives led to learning a lot about the reasoning behind why he had approached everything the way that he did.
In terms of the story itself, the points were lining up perfectly with the other information he had pieced together from Var, Merrill, and Zaven. Some parts of Nightshade's story lined up too, though he was starting to see more clearly now that the perspective of the cat navi was a less involved one than each of these.
The repeated mention of the Reaverkings sent a ringing reminder in his mind that he had the opportunity to strike Vestil down, but let him walk instead. Changing that decision wouldn't have led him here though, nor to Verde, so there was no regret in that still: he was confident that this was the better outcome.
Deav's involvement was what concerned him now, knowing his history with Faith. That may have been related to why she had gone missing, but there was no way to be certain for the time being. The more he learned of the doings of the Reaverkings and their associated forces though, the more he realized he'd need to decide for himself whether he stood against them or stood out of their way, rather than looking to somebody else to make that decision for him.
It was a changed world that Var implied they were after. And to oppose them was to fight for an unchanged world. Warrior knew the world wasn't perfect though: while it could certainly use some changing, he wasn't so sure if it needed to be to this extent. He kept wanting to ask himself what Faith, David, or even Genesis would do in this situation, but what ultimately mattered was what he himself chose to do about it now, because as far as he knew, those pieces may not have been on the table anymore.
His attention was back to Joker now that his mind had finished trailing off.
" It's never a good feeling, being chewed up and spit out... "
While Joker's explanation didn't justify his actions, it did rationalize them. Warrior himself may not have done any different, given the same hand. Losing everything leaves a person with nothing to lose though, and as oxymoronic as that sounded, it was a dangerous force to make an enemy of: it meant they could fight without worry or concern of losing more, without any restraint or hesitation.
" ... a sentiment that Creamland probably shares with you right about now. Self-interest is a vicious creature, but it's natural. "
All parties involved were guilty of that self-interest, even Warrior himself. And the culmination of them all was what led to this rather bleak outcome.
But even in another timeline, had Joker failed and Creamland successfully defended itself over his would-be grave, what would they be branded as, considering his own intent was held hostage? Or would that truth be lost to the untold history?
Like his encounter with Vestil, this may have been the more fruitful of two outcomes as well. Because, while Creamland would have stood for slightly longer had Joker not destroyed them, the Reaverkings and the forces would still be veiled and may certainly have just come back and destroyed it themselves at any point later on: something Var was clearly capable of, but it was understandable that pinning the act on Joker had the benefit of remaining anonymous.
Any number of inbetweens could have occurred, but finding the optimal path ahead required working with what was, not would could be.
" In the end, I wouldn't pin Creamland on you. Var was responsible, using you as his means. "
It wasn't the bullet that was the murderer, nor the gun that fired it, but it was the man pulling the trigger that was judged for his action. While this notion did degrade Joker as being a "tool" after all, the truth was that, in this case, he absolutely was.
That didn't limit him to only ever being one, but no amount of self-realization would change what happened now: it was how he moved forward that would either solidify that or redefine it.
" Guilty or innocent isn't my call to make. But if their agenda involves ransoming others to do their bidding, I think I'd like to put an end to that. "
Warrior didn't intend to sound as though he didn't sympathize, but he was a bit too firm of a believer that actions spoke louder than words -- and sometimes, that left words unsaid that may have been better spoken.
In terms of his own new direction though, now was just a matter of where they'd strike next. If nothing else, it was all but certain that their next encounter would involve combat, unlike his more peaceful one with Var here earlier.
Given that most of the major continents had been struck, Gigamerica was left as an exposed outlier. But Jake could at least be certain that, unless he was recalled, he wouldn't be needed there. Even if it were attacked next, he'd have to trust his superiors' decision to leave him here on the eastern shores if that's what was deemed more effective.
" You don't look like the type to just walk away after such an offense. I'll invite you to join us in pursuit of them: we share a common enemy, now. "
The Forces' cause could still be a just one, but their methods were not. He could at least rally behind that notion even without knowing their endgame. And if figuring out their endgame was the goal, then it may require him to fight through the pawns to reach the king.
Their pawns were nothing short of overwhelming in their own right, of course.
While he didn't know where to search for these new forces, he did have two options. One was the ever recurring heading that was Element City, but the other, dare he consider it, would be to consult somebody that did know where to find them: NIA.
His standing with the organization wasn't a bad one due to an old favor a few years prior, and they would undoubtedly have kept tabs on navis as powerful as these, but their ideals clashed with his own, and collaboration could broadcast an unintended affiliation.
Last Edit: Aug 10, 2020 20:33:25 GMT -8 by Warrior
Merrill's body began reacting as soon as Joker began his small surge of power. His expression showed no change, instead following Warrior's lead. His instinct told him to protect Lalonia, as he looked towards her, making sure she was unharmed by the surge of power. like both Warrior and Joker, he let his power fade away slower, his crystal no longer pulsing from the previous skirmish, even.
"So the Satellite is your power source. And you say you need the satellite as self defense against those who wish to destroy you. So, by following through and assisting these Reaverkings, you acted out of self preservation..."
He sighed. As Warrior spoke up again, claiming Var was responsible for Creamland's destruction.
"While I agree to a certain extent, you still allowed yourself to be used to kill innocents."
He gently rubbed his forehead. So much hand changed in a single day.
"And now we have another titan roaming..."
As Warrior finished, he turned his head and looked at him first.
"While we could argue his role in this, there are other things that need to be addressed."
He stared back at Joker.
"While i don't know you, or understand your how you process emotion, but the way I see it, I agree with my brother. You can join us, and help us uncover the truth of what these forces at play are really after. Regardless of what you did, regardless of your will..."
He raised his hands out wide, acknowledging the devastation around them all.
"You owe everyone who you killed something in return. They deserve to have someone make sure their deaths weren't pointless."
Lowering his arms, looking at both Lalonia and Warrior.
"If you want to face the once who forced you to do this, come with us. We can face them together. I too, am not a fan of ransoming others."
He was fairly certain that they both were thinking along similar lines, with having Joker close by. There were multiple benefits, including another person, including his own strength and this database. The added person could serve as a deterrent in battles or help buy time needed. They could also keep an eye on him as well.
"Wise move, kid. Keep your friends close, but keep your "possible" enemy close too.
"What do you know about this... "Crimson Dragon"... This Titan you speak of? What can you tell us about him or her?"
Turning to Lalonia his face softened.
"Miss Lalonia, are you okay with this?"
He had a feeling she would be, given both her nature, and her kind heart. But it was also her right to refuse, and he wouldn't blame her either.
"Assuming we all agree, we need to come up with our next move. We can probably confirm that the forces at play are already preparing to make moves, or are making them now since Creamland has been fallen. Based on what we know, we need to stick together, and move quickly. The question is, where should we look first?"
He turned to Warrior.
"What do you think? We could check in the Forest net, where I had seen an influx of reverbots there. Do you think there is one reverking per country? If so, should we pick one and go after them to see what their goals are? Or should we hunt down this dragon and try and stop it? Whatever we decide, it needs to be as a group at this point. Considering how much power they have, splitting up makes us all easier targets."
He left the floor open for the others to speak. He crossed his arms again, this time his face looking more thoughtful and focused on the tasks at hand.
Joker looked at the unknown person, who he now realized was not necessarily an analyst - just a person carrying a heavy burden, that had no desires to pick up more. He didn't quite like the analogy, but he did feel chewed up and spit out.
It was true that a person that had nothing else to lose could fight without fear of further loss, but with nothing to lose, and no foreseeable cause to fight for, he was in a particular bind.
That, and there was more to his story.
"You'll excuse me interrupting," Joker said as he mentioned Creamland's sentiments, "But I do believe you misunderstand something - only one Navi stepped forward to defend all of Creamland. He was quickly dispatched. Creamland did not have any defenders."
This bit of information did not seem incredibly prevalent to him, but, they had different viewpoints, and maybe this information would be of some meaning to them. There seemed to also be a number of other misconceptions on the whole situation. He had an interesting position, working for that side; he could see a few things they might not have.
"There is also the matter of the Reaverkings themselves - I believe they are simply members of a larger task force. Var and Deav handled my instructions, but they did not assign me to Creamland - some other entity I met in Element City warned me that something more was coming, the 'Ripple', and then an entirely different force instructed me to destroy Creamland."
His data systems reminded him that his instructions were to destroy six or eight islands - but destroying the first six was easy enough, he defaulted to just destroying all eight. That was not an important fact, and would just incriminate him further.
The note on their agenda was also something he had to make a comment on, as his own observations did not make the situation that one sided. "Their agenda involves manipulating ideas and beliefs - from my understanding, my satellite was actually never in any immediate harm. They manipulated what I thought I needed to get at what they wanted. Despite my satellite never being in harm's way, I could not risk that being false, and so I listened to their ultimatums.
"They lead us to make decisions based on preconceived notions, but likely have conditions in place to ensure that their end goals come to mark anyways. In a way, they set the playing field, but leave us to make the decisions, and reap the natural rewards thereafter." He turned to the swordsman, here, responding to a few of his quips. There was much to discuss, much to ensure was understood properly, and a much broader view to all of this than the two here seemed to quite grasp yet. "The Crimson Dragon was a force unlike any other, fueled by the massive quantities of bugged data. It's power was unlike anything I'd ever experienced, a storehouse of data that allowed it access to an infinitely mutable attack pattern. When it was done with me, one of their number appeared, a being that reality seemed to rebel against, and I can only assume that he collected the Crimson Dragon. I do not think it is a threat that looms about - I think they are collecting titans, as they were the Eternal Endgame before I found him, first."
He looked back, subconsciously, at the emblem on his chest. "I had an encounter with its Programming, Aeon, and subjugated it to gain access to his abilities. The Seal of the Generational still hums against me, but, Aeon has since then extracted himself and moved onto his own grand plans," he explained, no small amount of spite in his voice.
That wound was also still fresh. The constant presence of his satellite, flooding him with information and data, as well as the constant presence of the generational's programming was something he would probably never get used to being without. "That is what prompted me to come here; losing him, right after losing the satellite. I needed something to try and give me a sense of purpose, considering my only purpose thus far has been to survive. The being I spoke about, from Element City, warned me that their fight is against the very basis of this world - the programming upon which it is laid upon, and our seeming inability to look past this programming after centuries of failing to it in favor of our own needs above anyone else. 'If something can only serve to work one way, and does not know any other, it is simpler to destroy it and start anew.'"
Those were not his exact words, but it was what was implied.
"Aeon's play in Element City has aggravated them all, whoever they may be. I was told that Element City, and all of Electopia, was to become a bloodbath due to whatever Aeon's creator was going to do to protect what Aeon did."
There was truly a lot to cover. Thankfully, his data systems made it easy to sort through the important and the unimportant, and also made it easy to deliver the information quickly. The only emotion he felt through all of it was the spite towards the Endgame for his ploy against him. Even now, he found himself struggling over the realization that his programming was to connect with the power source and use it - but to use it for what? That was never made clear to him.
"If I were being honest, I would have to tell you that I do not really care about what happened to Creamland," he said, rather suddenly, looking at Merrill as he mentioned what he owed the people of Creamland. What he was about to say was unnecessary - everything in his programming informed him that this was likely going to impact his relationship negatively. All the numbers in his vision told him that this was a very bad calculation to ignore.
But he figured that those numbers floating in his vision were also the numbers that rationalized his actions on Creamland in the first place, as well as his actions against the defenders of Element City's ONB. If those numbers were the basis of his programming, and he had to learn how to work beyond them, then perhaps recognizing them, and admitting that he is trying to learn a way to see a fault in his programming, was the first step. "I regret what happened here, but not out of remorse for what occurred; instead, it is for the errors in calculations that lead to my satellite's fall.
"Their lives were but more numbers to place into the system - my only regret is that it was an expenditure of resources that was unnecessary, and that it cost me my satellite. I do not know any better, and I wonder if my viewpoint bothers me. My programming tells me to survive, and it tells me what tools I have to do that with, and how to most efficiently use those tools. It is what kept me alive despite my creator's intents, despite the Reaverking's attack, and despite meeting with Aeon.
"That is my honest answer. If nothing else, you deserve to know how I view the issue. If you would be willing to be understanding, I search my parameters even now for the possibilities of learning a different way of thinking."
Collecting Titans? A single defender of Creamland? Eon really had returned?
Warrior's own viewpoint was still building, despite him having chosen his side just a moment ago, and all of this new information was invaluable to that end. That process would have to wait for now, however. As he listened on, he began to see clearly now why Joker had come here at all, and he felt that held priority over the politics.
" Unfortunately, this isn't something I can personally relate to. We can just boil that down to 'us being built differently'. "
He didn't follow a protocol and wasn't bound by any core programming that would dictate his decisions. His choices were just that: choices, made from any combination of factors rather than purely from logical, rational, or even purely emotional standings. Free will was allowed to shift to whatever motive it desired, and not having that wasn't really something that Warrior could even imagine.
" I believe you've already found a different way of thinking, it's just far less developed than your default state. If nothing else, that puts you a step ahead of what that stranger in Element City was saying about this world. "
Proof of evolution, in summation of the stranger's words, was what was lacking in this world, but that very same proof manifested in Joker's verbalized considerations.
Warrior could at least agree that putting one's own needs above anybody else's wasn't something to make a habit out of, but in contrast to that stranger, he didn't think this world was without hope of changing, nor that it had been consumed by such a notion in its entirety. Even Joker still leaned on the side of self-preservation, but that didn't mean he needed purging because of it. He was naturally seeking a better course of action after his innate directives led to loss.
" It's fair to see others as only data when that's all they see you as in return. Some people deserve to be dealt back what they've dealt to others; those that are more innocent should be kept out of the crossfire if that's what it comes down to. "
Warrior's own eyes shifting to Lalonia for a moment, as if hinting at what a demonstration of a more innocent individual would reflect. Joker didn't seem to have come across many of those, most people just treated him as an asset to their own ends, by the way it sounded.
" I have a deep respect for honesty, particularly the naked truth. Our morals clash, but your circumstances taught you only one path so, even if it isn't one that I myself live by, I can't fault you for it. You're searching for a better way: I can respect that, too. "
A large portion of who one was could be determined by their circumstances and experiences. It wasn't all encompassing, not for humans at least, but it was a powerful motivator and an even stronger builder of character.
Warrior didn't consider Navis all that different: their core programming was just more literal than a human's, but otherwise, they grew and changed over time all the same. He'd witnessed that plenty enough times through Merrill, Megami, Genesis, Embera; there were certainly some parts about them that never changed, just as there were even some parts about himself and other humans that never changed either, but in all cases, their tribulations matured them into being much more than just scripted personalities.
" I'm afraid I can't provide you with the sense of purpose that you came looking for. If your satellite was what gave you that, then perhaps rebuilding it would occupy time while figuring it out. I believe these new forces would simply step in the way again, however. "
Warrior didn't necessarily have his own sense of purpose, but when he saw a wrong that he could make right, he found a short term purpose to strive for. Outside of that, it was simply the cycle of human life that kept him moving forward: creating goals, achieving them; meeting others, helping them with their goals. There was no life-long devotion to anything like Joker seemed to be seeking, but if "life-long" was an indefinite term, Warrior would likely think very differently about it as well.
" Like them, we could certainly benefit from value you have to offer. Unlike them, we won't put our own interests above your freedom of choice. We'll welcome you if you would join us; we'll wish you the best if you won't. "
There was more to living than just surviving, but Joker seemed well enough aware of that by now. Most people would find their self-realization where ever they decided to truly look; Jake couldn't offer him much other than to point him to the path that he sounded like he was already on.
Last Edit: Aug 12, 2020 14:15:35 GMT -8 by Warrior