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Previous Thread:

http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/3612440/

Archive:

http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=Joker%20Quest

Equipment FAQ (Updated):

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1H08Ji7FI_KKb8k0dpPcIcvHJp5mnk22CzKOMLnfq3g4/edit?usp=sharing

Player List:

http://pastebin.com/rRSM6LgW

Episode Guide (All credit to Watashiwa & an unknown Anon):

http://pastebin.com/xuZNynTM

Yui IF scene (Adult content):

http://pastebin.com/8CSEVSXB

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JokerQuestOP
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>>3701485
And now, at last, you have come to the end of all things.

You walk through the ruins, across the endless black sands – the faint scuff of your boots, the hum of your hydraulics, the only sound in all of that vast silence. There is no hope of shade, in this perpetual twilight: the lurid glow of the moon (Or is that the sun?) lending the darkness shape and form.

There is no wind.

Now and again, a sound breathes through the black space – a sound that reminds you, almost, of distant winds or the crush of acid breakers against an ocean coast. But it is neither of those things, and if you stop – if you pause, for a moment, to consider – it recedes so quickly, you may have imagined it.

Daegal. Where is he?

In this place, time has no meaning. The only measure of it is your patient footfalls against the sterile, powdery sands, your Assault Shroud rippling in the wake of you motion. As you trudge onwards, threading your way between fallen towers and the wreckage of great machines, only your tracks mark your passage across the vast expanse.

Your optics do not adjust to the light. They merely present the world as it is, integrating light and shadow into a scorched-pale landscape, a surreal monochrome vision of stark and unwavering intensity.

You've grown stronger. The damage from your fight with VOIVOID – from the thing that ALEPH FUESIL had become – were deep and rending. But even those terrible wounds have sealed, little more than shallow gashes in the metal skin of your crimson armor, receding in the same way a smile slowly fades.

Where are you, Kazuya?

Only static comes over the Dirac channel. Your Argus Sensor is dead, unresponsive, on your left arm – the Hollow Sun's silver insignia registering no response. TERRORSIGHT has burned them out, reducing their input to the shallow hiss of white noise, like a blank cathode-ray tube boiling with electronic snow.

You've left the Gate's fractured half far behind, now. The vast shape's bulk still casts a slanting shadow across the sands, a perpetual monument to the inhuman effort of your odyssey. You've searched it, thoroughly – wending your way through the shattered hull, threading through archways and stanchions and the ruptured innards of the great construct, Lachryma leaving an oily black stain as it seeps away into the sands.

All of that, and Daegal was not there.

The other half of the Gate came down in pieces, huge chunks of hull and sections of ring burying themselves into the sand. The devastation would have been extraordinary – That is, if there was anything left to destroy.

VOIVOID's Locus Seeker rests in the palm of your hand, a tiny blade sealed within a sphere of diamond glass. It points, as always, towards you and at nothing else. It seems you won't be finding Kazuya that way.

(Continued)
>>
>>3701487
And then you see it.

On a stretch of half-collapsed wall, pale and white – almost incongruous in its familiarity, amid the burned-out leviathans of alien machines...

Charcoal markings, formed into drawings.

The art is impressionistic, the angles deranged. Two figures, two boys, fleeing across a street strewn with rubble. Above them, crows – all the crows in the world – swarm, diving and attacking them. They are rendered with such stark malevolence – beaks open, claws reaching, wings spread like blades – that they could only have been drawn from vivid memory, their shapes fluid and overlapping, rendering them into a single primal terror.

Their eyes are oblongs of animal indifference, their talons cruelly hooked and curves, the murder diving down towards their prey in a single unbroken wave.

There are names scrawled at the bottom of the relief – little more than indecphirable scribbles, though that is no surprise. Meaning is the first thing to be eroded away, here.

Your gaze follows the image, as it flows into the next. The next tableau is just a little further, and has the same mesmeric intensity of the first. A pack of twisted shapes – powerful, hideous forms, with wide mouths full of canine teeth – surge forward, in pursuit of four figures rendered in a sketchy, almost impressionistic style.

There is an immediacy in the image, as one of the figures – one of the boys – turns back towards the approaching pack. There is a tautness to his form, an absolute focus in his eyes, a terrible awareness of what is to follow.

Of what must be done in order survive.

There's more.

The blind window-eyes of a corpse that was once a city.

A lunatic procession, burning forms capering and writhing as they drown in raw flame.

A weapon, firing into something unseen.

A wolf smile, sealed away in nightmare armor.

The last image is merely a symbol, something hacked and carved and scored into the hull of some ancient behemoth, white against the blistered black. It is the symbol you've seen – once – that is somehow both a mockery and a mirror of your own.

The White Joker's mark.

> FOREBODE activated.

(Continued)
>>
>>3701508
You are already turning, even before the grating voice echoes hollowly through the ruins.

“Is it coming?”

OSSEOUS HIEROPHANT steps into the light. Narrow frame, long limbs – Damaged, too. One shoulder is exposed, gearwork clacking, pneumatic tubes wilting around the joint. The high-crested skull is marred by large convex dents, optics clicking in that single eye. The remaining pauldron is adorned with – of all things – a painting, an abstract of geometric shapes that glimmer with delicate hues.

It lists to the side, leaning on a knotted length of wood, a staff that seems almost as old as it is.

You can tell, at a glance, that deep and permanent damage has been done to this Player. Fragments of armor gleam against raw myomer, the rest stripped away – when that head turns to regard you, with a single dull-orange optic, you can see the scars that criss-cross the back of the metal skull.

Too deliberate for mere damage, then. Surgery.

But Hierophant stands tall. There is something measured, something almost noble, in his slow forward pacing. Something in his bearing, that tells of former greatness.

Right over the player's ravaged torso, a single undamaged plate of armor remains – it, too, has been marked with the symbol of a wide and fanged smile.

“I w-wait and wait, but i-it never c-omes.” His voice hitches oddly in the middle of words, sputtering through speech.

“I wait f-for it, but it n-never comes.”

[ ] “What are you waiting for?”
[ ] “Who are you?”
[ ] “Are you the artist?”
[ ] “How long have you been waiting?”
[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3701546
OP, what's our current damage? Do we have any parts we can start repairing with Microassembler? If so, the order of parts to repair is
Incom controller
Autoloader
Vitae Booster
Cooling systems

>Start reloading the revolvers until every single one has a full bullet count again.
>Send out the Incoms as vectors and have them start searching for Daegal
>"Who are you? The artist? I like your work."
>"Waiting for what? For how long?"
>"Why the surgery?"
>>
>>3701564
https://pastebin.com/UCzAGmC0 Here's the Memory by the way.
>>
>>3701564
(I'd say that you're fully recovered. Keep in mind that you can't actually see through the Incoms / Interceptors.)
>>
>>3701568
Alright, but can they give us targeting information if they detect, say, something made of orichalcum?
>>
>>3701571
(Unfortunately, your targeting sensors are down due to TERRORSIGHT. You're aiming solely by eye. However, sending out the Incoms to look for Daegal is a perfectly viable idea.)
>>
>>3701579
Please do that then JQOP, along with the other suggestions
>>
>>3701579
If we're at full HP then switch the crux to the Vitae Booster.
>>
>>3701564
Dude, fucking hell. We are standing before another Player and you want us to reload our fucking guns?

Save that for after, when it won't be seen as a threat.

>[ ] Free
"That icon. You are one of the White Joker's people?"
>>
>>3701589
>>3701602
>>3701579
Would we retain our Vitae Booster charge if we switched to the Cobalt Booster?
Its endlessly refilling energy supply is perfect for powering the incoms right now.
>>
>>3701653
Lad you can reload guns and NOT point them at people. Not only that, this guy is a White Joker friendo. I want our guns reloaded *ASAP* considering what we could be facing.

>>3701655
Lets not take out Booster as we could be fighting WJ's buddy any other second.
>>
>>3701564
>>3701602

> Start reloading the revolvers until every single one has a full bullet count again.

The Caesar is in your left holster, Axanael in your right – At some point in your wanderings, you've reloaded them both. The motions are almost automatic, now, feeding bullets into the cylinder, snapping it shut, the hammer ratcheting back with a patient click.

You could reach them in a heartbeat. But the time hasn't come. Not yet.

The low hum of gravimetric suspensors linger, as your INCOMs detach. They briefly orbit you, like pilot fish, before zipping away in ever-widening arcs.

Perhaps he'll see them. Perhaps they'll find him first.

> “Who are you? The artist? I like your work."

“They twist, you know?”

“They twist and t-they twist and they twist.”

Claw-like hands clutch that twisted length of wood, blade-tipped fingers sliding over the curves. HIEROPHANT'S immobile features express as much melancholy as they can, as a shudder runs through his form.

“Even n-now, they s-still...”

> "Waiting for what? For how long?"

“W-waiting...”

There is an indescribable longing in HIEROPHANT'S rasping voice.

“F-for the moment. For t-the time that's...”

HIEROPHANT spasms to life once more, takes a twitching, jerking step towards you.

“I r-remember,” he says, without ever looking away. “S-so much and so l-little. It's h-hard. The o-only t-thing I know for s-sure is that I use them. I paint and paint so I r-remember. Moments l-like this, I know h-how I am. Fading. N-not always there.”

The single optic glowers, the light within flickering.

“It's v-very frustrating. Frustrating.”

“Even w-when I remember, I f-forget what they mean.”

> "Why the surgery?"

The dull eye turns away, staring out into the infinite gulf.

“To t-take me with him.”

One hand uncoils from the staff, pointing. “O-out there. T-take...”

HIEROPHANT's hand lowers, slowly, words faltering. A deep, ticking sound in the bowed figures chest grows in magnitude, grinding, squealing, stuttering. Long black streaks, like tears, ooze from the joints of his armor.

> "That icon. You're one of the White Joker's people?"

In answer, HIEROPHANT bends his arm, grasping one finger of his hand, and twists. There is an audible snap of shearing metal, as the finger – torn loose – tumbles to the ground. He looks up at you again, and – finally – you see how deep and rending the damage is.

Fibre-bundles and plating have been stripped from HIEROPHANT's frame, but the real damage is to the memory banks of his electronic brain. At a guess, you estimate that nearly all of it has been deliberately excised – leaving just enough to retain consciousness.

Like a broken phone, with the last few message looping, eternally, through the ether.

(Continued)
>>
>>3701666

“M-maybe that will bring it sooner. Maybe it likes to eat them.”

There's an edge like pleading in that last statement, as it stares at the fallen finger. For a moment, you think HIEROPHANT has fallen silent, for good – But then...

“There were t-thirteen of u-us, on the first day.”

Clearer, now. Stronger. There's something familiar about the words, as if Hierophant has spoken them aloud before – Telling himself the same story, over and over again.

It turns away, limping along the length of the surreal gallery, Hierophant's shadow angling across the mosaics. Somehow, the perspective seems to be subtly altered, as he staggers along, leaning on his staff.

“W-we swore. From t-thirteen, one. We k-knew, you see? Only o-one could be the White Joker. Only one...”

That mangled hand presses to that remaining panel of armor, as if cradling something infinitely precious. Perhaps Hierophant is speaking only to himself, now – For he minds you not at all. But there is something definite in his motions, retracing the same well-worn winding path...A path you'd never have spotted by yourself.

“It c-could have been. Me. Could have.”

Your footfalls are almost silent, compared to that lurching, limping gait.

“Others...s-stronger. But I loved her. I *loved* only h-her. We a-all did.”

Gears ratchet in Hierophant's neck, that head tilting to the side, righting itself.

“I l-loved...”

That's when you see the first body.

(Continued)
>>
>>3701689

It is, of course, a Player's armor. Heavily augmented, a robust build laced with fluid-lines and power cables. Once, it must have been savagely weaponized, like all who made it this far.

Once.

Now, it is headless and hollowed-out, gored through autopsy and drilling. The methods are brutal but precise, telling of the harvest that followed.

Hierophant stares at it for a long time, remembering.

“Should h-have died. Finish. Finished i-it. Like the o-others.”

The orange light in his optic glows brighter. Banked from an ember, to a fitful glow.

“But I w-wanted to live. No m-matter what.”

“I wanted...”

Mechanisms grind, within Hierophant. There is a throb of power – like a ghostly whisper – building within that frame, a feeble echo of what once was and might have been.

“Should have...”

And you see that he learned the same lesson you did, too late: That survival, mere survival, is not enough.

[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3701689
>“W-we swore. From t-thirteen, one. We k-knew, you see? Only o-one could be the White Joker. Only one...”
Oh, christ. The White Joker is like that Chinese story where a number of poisonous creatures are stuffed in a pot, and the winner is the most poisonous of them all.
>>
>>3701715
Fire Axanael.
>>
>>3701721
What? No. Jesus anon, there's 13 of them because they were the old WJ's apostles. When the Marshall flooded the Black, the Black Cardinal was forced to flee into it and he got lost, his body left to rot so his 13 followers had to come after him. They spent their 100 years looking for him while we spent 100 just surviving and stubbornly looking for a way out. THey aren't Gu.

>>3701715
>Show him the Crux
"Mikogami once told me that 'I cannot give forgiveness, unless one asks for it - And, to tell the truth, there's very little for which people need to be forgiven. Absolution and penance...I have found, too often, that each is but a state of mind.' You shouldn't have died. In fact, you are here and now, right where you are meant to be."

"Did you ever talk about how you planned to bring Kotone back as the Black Joker? Did you have any ideas or plans?"
>>
>>3701715
So, Naoya was one of thirteen zealots. One of them became the White, all of them believed in Kotone.
The surgery stuff reminds me a bit of the current White Joker. IIRC there've been passages mentioning his extreme precision.

So they basically made one of them the White Joker, then used surgery to cannibalize armor components in order to upgrade him?
I guess it was a compromise to allow the others to kinda follow Naoya and be able to leave the Black.


I wonder what he is waiting for.
For his death? To be collected by Naoya?

Maybe putting him out of his misery might be the best.

"What would you have finished?"
>>
>>3701741
Don't shoot him yet. We still want to talk to him.
>>
>>3701715
"Could you tell me the names of the other twelve?
Do you remember your real name?"

Maybe we can get a hint for Naoya's past player armor.
>>
Hi, I just wanted to pop in to say I am extremely impressed by the longevity of this quest.
>>
>>3701788
Suffering is best enjoyed in a draw-out fashion.
>>
>>3701788
Stick around. New people are always great and fun to deal with.

>>3701786
This is a good idea.
>>
>>3701741
>>3701781

Your hand hovers near the big iron, the one with the black-threaded mercury grips.

But not yet.

Not yet.

>>3701759
>>3701765

> "What would you have finished?"

“I...”

The light in his optic dims. There is a sense of rummaging, a sense of searching – a reaching for something that is no longer there.

“I d-don't know.”

> "Mikogami once told me that 'I cannot give forgiveness, unless one asks for it - And, to tell the truth, there's very little for which people need to be forgiven. Absolution and penance...I have found, too often, that each is but a state of mind.' You shouldn't have died. In fact, you are here and now, right where you are meant to be."
> "Did you ever talk about how you planned to bring Kotone back as the Black Joker? Did you have any ideas or plans?"

A strange, hacking sound echoes across the dunes, beneath the weird light of the moon. It is discordant, a grinding of metal-on-metal – then almost a sigh.

“I r-remember. T-thinking, planning...But i-it's gone. It's a-all gone.”

The dim light fluctuates, swells in strength.

He took it. He has i-it now.”

Hands – One mangled and one whole – twitch against that gnarled staff, worn smooth by centuries, yet impossibly still in one piece. In a world that is all stone and metal, ash and dust, the faint glimmer of still-living wood is an alien sight indeed.

The Crux gleams, faintly, before you. It kindles something in Hierophant – Stiffly, as if only now remembering how to move, he straightens. You hear his spinal links ratchet, leeched of hydraulic fluid. That dull orange glow, like fading embers banked higher, seems to issue from fissures in his twisted form.

> "Could you tell me the names of the other twelve?
> “Do you remember your real name?"

Those shoulders lift in a creaking shrug.

“Not w-what I was.” That mangled hand, pressed to the dull, cracked orb of what might have been an Essence core. “P-part of me is here. The rest of me...E-elsewhere. On the other side.”

Hierophant's head swivels. There is a dusty, dry cunning – or the fading echoes of it – in that rasping voice.

“I can't leave. I w-was waiting. F-for something to happen, first.” He turns, slowly, traversing on tottering limbs. “Maybe y-you are it. Maybe t-this is what this part of m-me was waiting for.”

(Continued)
>>
>>3701794
>>3701792
I would but then I would need to troll through a hundred+ threads worth of backstory to understand what is happening.
>>
>>3701816

And, at last, the wind begins to pick up. The first breeze skims across the lone and level sands, whistling mournfully through the bones of fallen cathedrals and shattered machines.

“S-sometimes I still t-think there might be some way back. L-like a maze, a-and all I have to do is f-find the route through. B-become whole again.”

That orange-glowing eye flickers up at you.

Then – Slowly, wearily, as if it is inevitable:

“Will y-you fight me, J-Joker?”

Those hands, whole and mangled, twist the staff tighter, tighter, as if to snap it.

“Not f-for him. For m-myself.”

[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3701816
>>3701839
JQOP, are you saying Naoya operated on him to take his brain and organs? Did he literally harvest him for brain matter and spare parts?
>>
>>3701856
Seems like he did.

>>3701839
"I'll fight you, if you want, but I'd rather you get out of here with me and my friend. Unlike you, I have a bit more on my side..."
Show him the Nihil Sphere. Take it out.
>>
(Gentlemen, it's extremely late: I must turn in for now, but I'll continue at the first opportunity.)
>>
>>3701969
Thanks for the run.
>>
>>3701868

The shutters of the Helix Gauntlet iris open, to reveal the anti-radiance of the Nihl Sphere. Here, and only here, it glows like a violet star: It is a light that is palpable chiefly in how it makes everything around it less real.

A significance gathers, like a fever nightmare – it makes phantom nerves flare with a cold so deep it burns, a bone-deep ache racing through your arm.

Hierophant makes a low sound. A sound that merges a rasp and a sigh, a metal-on-metal scraping like the slipping of gears.

“The opener o-of the way...”

You feel it before you hear it – A pull. A throb. A craving, an unbearable longing.

Here on the precipice, where reality has worn thin, the Nihl Sphere cries out – a silent song – to its other half, to its twin beyond the veil. To Pazuzu's eye, a universe away.

The Eyes of Night, separated by the crimson ocean. Parallels and echoes, once again.

Beneath you, the world convulses. A tremor ripples through the landscape, a slow shudder like something stirring to life. Black sand twists and coils through the rising winds, as if – after eons of deep time – time is beginning to move once more.

> "I'll fight you, if you want, but I'd rather you get out of here with me and my friend. Unlike you, I have a bit more on my side..."

The grinding, scraping sound – A rasping laugh, you realize – judders from Hierophant's form. That battered helm twists to one side, then the next.

No.

Hierophant's mechanical face – what remains of it – is impossible to read. No emotions are truly capable of making their way through the metal. And yet, there is something there, in the dull glint of his optics. Some pathos, some empathy.

“O-only the Joker gets to l-leave.” There is a dread certainity in Hierophant's words, something that might almost be sympathy. “We k-knew, you s-see? I was h-his friend. He would h-have led me further. He would have taken me w-with him...”

“-Except I c-couldn't follow.”

Pistons and gears judder within Hierophant's form, as the Player – achingly, slowly – draws himself to his full height.

“One of u-us will die t-today,” he says. “I h-have searched for salvation, b-but instead I found t-this.”

The light in his optic flickers. Orange, to red. Embers, banked to a flame.

“B-but it will n-not be meaningless. I-it will not be a s-low collapse into d-dotage and madness.”

Acutators groan, as he shuffles forward – His unblinking gaze level.

“One of u-us will die f-for what we believe in – For legacy.”

“And the o-other will go on...alone.”

[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3703223
>*Nod*

There's nothing more to say.

>Draw Noctourne and unload It at Heirophant
>Aim Anaxel and fire when we're sure we have the shot
>Create both bandoliers If they aren't ready now
>Use EXEC Barrier In case of any codebursts
>Boost our Interceptors and set two of them to defend us and three to attack In sword mode

Let's probe him for the first round to see what he does, assuming he doesn't die outright from the first set of shots.
>>
>>3703223
>>3703626
Our interceptors are still on a mission.
Agree with using the revolvers. Use this sequence of events to gauge his fighting style.
>>
>>3703626
>>3703658

A warping blur, at your left holster – schematic lines sketching themselves into existence, like ink on parchment...

Thought becomes deed. You draw, and NOCTURNE is in your hand – the sleek black revolver rising, dead suns locked away within the core of each bullet. You have AXANAEL in your grip, at the ready-

But NOCTURNE fires first. A needle-thin beam of anti-light sears across the distance, a coruscating violet-threaded line of annihilation – the weapon makes a characteristic sigh-moan as it discharges, like the last breath of air from a dead man's lungs.

-Beneath you-

Instinct takes over. The Tempest Scrander roars to life, and you leap as the ground erupts. Red particles fume from your jump pack's nozzles, hurling you skyward with an effort as blunt as a grunt of pain-

Beneath you, the ground erupts. A great plume of black sand geysers upwards, as a hand – a titanic, skeletal hand, like something cut from a titan's rotted corpse – bursts from the ground. It looks less like bone and more like grey stone, like something throughly petrified by the turning of centuries – But there is tremendous force in the fleshless fist, great talons slicing the air as they shear towards you.

Each one is fully as long as you are tall. You twist, jinking hard to evade as the mass of petrified bone whips past you – You can hear the whoosh of displaced air, as a burst of thrust sends you spiralling upwards, between phalanges; they miss you by less than an meter, sand showering down from those scythe-tipped claws. They move with ponderous unstoppability, with an inexorable, implacable force-

A second hand has thrust Hierophant's ravaged form high, fingers curled in a petrified cage around the palm. His form is a mere blot amid all the vastness, the great column of stone rising, rising, almost faster than your Scrander can carry you – there is a massive bite sheared out of the stone, just beneath the wrist, where NOCTURNE's blast connected. Grey sand pours from the wound, lost amid the black motes that pour down the emerging limbs, with a waterfall's thunderous roar.

Each arm is already a hundred meters tall, and still ascending. The ground shakes, as the grasping hand slams into the earth with all the force of an artillery barrage – Clouds of sands gusting outwards on all sides...

But it doesn't stop there. It grasps, claws biting like pitons into the charred shape of some fallen hulk – part of a drilling rig, perhaps – and pulls. Quakes ripple through the earth, as you hear the screech of tormented metal-

It's pulling it up. It's wrenching it free, the way a rioter rips a flagstone from the ground.

(Continued)
>>
>>3703766

You bank, hard. The first line of fire sear through the air, as EXEC_BARRIER's tessellated hexagons shimmer across the Sinistral – for the first time since your battle with VOIVOID, the hard-light field deploys, buttressed by the Codeburst as raw energies slash into it.

Hierophant, immobile, leans on his staff – the platform moving with him, a pinprick of indescribable crimson brightness hovering above the twisted wood. The arc of fire slashes forth from it, tracking you as you dip and weave to evade – but then a second winks into existence. A third. You hear the shrill shriek of the rising winds-

A second line of flame shears towards you, parallel to the first – never intersecting. The third blast is simply a powerful linear distortion, a cutting line blurred to invisibility as it sweeps through the empty air like a flashlight of annihilation. You can see the first vines – threaded with metal – unfurling from the sliver of wood he clutches, burying themselves into the lurching stone at his clawed feet; that single orange eye unblinking, as it rotates to follow you.

The iron mechanisms of your Aegis amulet gleam dully against your cuirass, stirring to life – but as streamers of flame whip away from your form, there's no response. He's using a Codeburst, certainly – Except it's the source of the attack, instead of targeting you directly. Unusual.

You race ahead of the rippling line of severing air, heat-distortion making reality wobble like a mirage in the wake of flames. He hasn't been able to hit you, not yet -

HP: 176.0%
VITAE BOOSTER: 142%
ASSAULT SHROUD: 138%
METER: 18%
ENCROACHMENT: 9%
REVOLVERS: CAESAR (6/6) / PEACEMAKER (6/6) / AXANAEL (6/6) / NOCTURNE (5 / 6)
CARTRIDGES: N/A

CRUX: VITAE BOOSTER

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3703790
(To clarify, the skeletal hands are massive constructs, and hideously strong. But they're slow, as you'd expect anything that size to be. HIEROPHANT is sheltering on one, and the other is attacking you.)
>>
>>3703790

>Photonic Mantle - On
>Photonic HALO - Create
>Fire the Noctorune at the damaged part of the hand HEIROPHANT Is using as a platform, break It. Fire AXANEL Into the hand/cage at HEIROPHANT direcly
>Fire the Photonic HALO to convert the other hand and/or the rig Into dust before It can be thrown
>Exec BARRIER remains on
>Crux - BOOSTER

Did Exec BARRIER have an effect there? It seemed like while It didn't prevent It due to It's nature It was unclear If It lessened the damage at all.
>>
>>3703839
(You basically blocked the attack completely.)
>>
>>3703790
>Vitae Boosted Chain Mine at the one carrying Osseus
>Fire some concussion missiles at both arms
>Disrupt his staff
>photonic mantle
>>
>>3703223
Fuck... even this guy is saying that only we can leave. We still owe it to Kazuya to try. If we have to sacrifice the Nihil Sphere and Cybele's bracelet for it I'm all for it.
>>
>>3703839
>>3704056

Crimson light blazes – It crackles around you, like an empyrean mantle. The photonic light of your scarf flutters in your wake, like a banner; DESPERADO snaps as it unfurls, shedding fragments of energy that splinter and flaw with a sound like smashing ice.

As the halo device materalizes, rising over your helm like a hood, an alien radiance flickers. Flashes of your internal structure, of your bones, can be seen through your armor, like sporadic X-rays. Vapor streams from your limbs, cising sparks of colorless lightning leaping from the rivets and joins of your cuirass, gathering around your optic array-

Circles of energy radiate from NOCTURNE's barrel, an instant before the main beam ignites. The ray slices across the distance, and stabs deep into the petrified stone of Hierophant's construct. Half a tonne of stone sifts away, in a lightless flash of ash and streaming grey sand – it lurches, tilting to the side, a deep, primal tremor running through the tower's span. More stone tumbles away with an avalanche roar, like icebergs calving from a glacier.

Hierophant fires back. The rippling howl of superheated air, focused into a cutting beam – two parallel streams of thermic energy, turning green and then blue-white as he feeds the attack with everything he has left. His clawed fingers gouge into the living wood of his cane, the triparite assault lancing towards you as you dip and weave to avoid them, a huge first of stone rising up behind you...

And the air fills with flying metal.

The first hulk – Almost perfectly intact, apart from trailing treads – hurtles towards you, tumbling end-over-end. Your Abruption Jets punch into your spine, wrenching you unmercifully into an evasive vector – Your intertial damper straining, as grit and micro-debris spatters off your armor like hail. The burned-out vehicle smashes into a half-collapsed tower and topples it, disintegrating in a rain of torn plate and assemblies, shedding huge chunks of itself as components rain down.

It's not enough. It's nowhere near enough.

Your lifters cut in to arrest your plummet, as you twist round to face the titanic hand, empty now. It reaches for you, the scale so vast as to be almost surreal – there is a sound of grinding stone, like a landslip, like a mountain forced into lurching life.

Corospant flickers around you, and the Photonic Halo fires, just once.

There is no recoil. It is nothing like a conventional weapon at all.

A vast, expanding force detonates in the skies. False thunder shrieks, as blinding light blooms. The static discharge is enormous, as it saws through the dark – For an instant, you see the grasping hand writhe, as if trying to escape. In truth, it is merely stone shifting and jolting, as the disruption charge hammers it, turning the ossified column into something that simply cannot exist under local physics.

And, without any warning at all, the hand explodes.

(Continued)
>>
>>3704122

There is a cudgelling boom, the rush of a shockwave. Debris – Ash, sand and fist-sized chunks of stone – rain down painfully, like the aftermath of a nuclear eyeblink. Mineral dust fills the air with a churning haze, clearing to reveal – faintly – the ragged hole blasted in the construct's palm. Utterly shorn through, pillar-sized fingers topple down to the bleak landscape below, like the plosive whoof of bomb-blasts.

You bank towards where Hierophant stands, lofting higher on wings of jetair and flame. Red particles stream from the Tempest Scrander's thrusters, as you accelerate towards him. The speed of your passage cuts a powerful linear distortion through the expanding dust-cloud, as he raises his staff in a gesture of warding-

Tiny glyphs swarm across your field of vision. Code-chains and algorithms, coalescing and calculating, solving the paradox.

Osseous Hierophant's stave detonates like a short-fused grenade.

The sound is a brittle bang, a spray of wood chips and splinters. It takes his hand with it, all the way to the elbow – shards punch into exposed myomer fibre-bundles, coolant weeping from the wounds in sluggish, viscous trails. The brilliant, lethal points of light around him wink out, as he stares down at the bare metal of his exposed bones.

Perhaps he knows what's coming.

You raise AXANAEL, in a unwavering hand. Hierophant is a shrunken, defeated figure, his shoulders slack, his remaining arm down. Despite everything else – Curiously, amid all the ruin – two things remain pristine; the landscape etched onto his pauldron, and the grinning symbol above his heart.

The big iron flashes, and barks just once. There is a brief flash of discharge.

Hierophant's head and shoulders – everything about his waist – vanishes in an abrupt impact. What remains of him snaps back off his perch, stone grinding as the unstoppable round pulverizes and crushes through the weakened platform. Rubble and massive fragments slide off into the gulf, vast chunks of stone slithering down as all animation leaves those great, petrified hands.

The noise of the tumult is as overwhelming as it is brief, as you hover above the churning haze of dust and black sand.

Gone, just like that. An eternity, ended in an instant.

(Continued)
>>
>>3704148
Oh, the absolute joy I felt from reading what the Axanael just did Is just Incredible.
>>
>>3704154
really? i thought it was kind of sad.

we shoukd give Kazuya the helix gauntlet and nihl sohere so he can supercharge them, and the orb so he can follow us. we use full bore to open the way so all he has to do is use nihl to stabilize and follow.

should be easier...
>>
>>3704148
You wonder, distantly, if this was the end he was hoping for.

The view from above shows the extraordinary damage that has been done to the already-blasted land, in that brief, lethal exchange. The great skeletal hands have smashed apart everything in the way, in their singular, all-consuming drive to shelter Hierophant and to reach you – the ruins below look like a child's discarded toys. Great fissures spiderweb across the bleak earth, as the first faint glimmers of light catch your eye.

Your Incoms ascend through the vast palls of dust, clustered together like the points of a star. The blue light of their gravimetric suspensors is like a distant flare, hovering above the mangled, truncated wreck of what might once have been a ship. Wretched black fumes boil out of its innards, coiling upwards towards the sky.

Their simple hunter-seeker algorithms have found something.

[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3704167
Quick, to the source.
>>
>>3704178
>>3704167

This, but load our guns. Load our Cestus with a couple of Silver cartridges.
>>
>>3704167
Go to them
>>
>>3704179
And since the structure might explode, we'd want to activate Anathema, just in case it blows, and throw Fortress Mode on the person that's in the wreckage, unless it's for example Voivod or something.
>>
>>3704178
>>3704179
>>3704180
>>3704181

You descend through the roiling clouds of smoke and ash, the wind whipping in your wake. The backwash of your Scrander churns the sand around your landing zone into a frenzy, abrading your armor – leaving bright, silvery scars – as you land, gravel crunching beneath your boots.

Your Interceptors snap back into place, locking themselves into the charging racks at your spined shoulders and the small of your back. The cylinder block of your Cestus cycles, silver cartridges trickling into the chambers as frost fumes around the fist-weapon.

And then you see it. The leviathan's half-toppled shape presses down on a dull half-sphere of condensed nanomaterial, pinning it securely in place. Tonnes of metal, all jagged beams and shorted-out power lines, pressing down onto that tiny, unyielding shape, barely visible from where it lies buried in the sands. It is dusted with black powder, the low wind shivering through the wreck – brushing the fine, sterile sand into eddying gones, flicking like foam off the outcroppings of rock and metal.

All of that weight, in one place. Oily girders and riveted black metal and pipes, crushing it like an insect beneath a boot.

You turn AXANAEL's cylinder, snapping the revolver shut as the bullet slides into place. A distortion ripples around you, like a haze – You walk through the forest of girders and jagged spikes of shorn-off struts, striding through them without breaking them.

It's easy if you try. It's almost as if VOIVOID's power was made for you to use.

Kazuya? Are you there?

There's only one way to find out.

You reach out. The industrial talons of the Crisis Arm clamp down on the nearest girder, as you firm your grip – the zero-point field expanding, in a wave of rippling distortion. It lashes out, spreading tendrils and filaments of itself across the hull, metal creaking and groaning at the interaction.

And then, with a single effort that sends molten strength pulsing through your limbs, that makes the Vitae Booster flare in your torso, you wrench it aside.

There is a deep, rending shriek. Ancient, tarnished black steel crumples inwards on itself. There is a terrible screech as soot-mouth stacks vent dark fumes, the nozzles twisting out of shape – you can't feel it, but the temperature begins to rise, the cavern of metal revealing the damage-pocked nanomaterial of the sphere.

It crumbles beneath your touch, dispelled at last. Borne on friendly winds, it peels away in twisting motes, drawn inexorably to your Assault Shroud like iron filling to a magnet.

(Continued)
>>
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>>3704185

Daegal lies beneath it, pinned like an insect beneath the collector's needle – the plinth of the Gate slanting across his form, his armored spine forced into an arch from the wedge of metal beneath. You can see where his right arm was locked in place, trapped beneath his own form – the sphere's lower half must have ruptured on impact, allowing the sand to pour in.

His head tilts downwards, one cracked lens pushed up against the ground, locked in that awkward position. There's only the faintest trace of light in the damaged optic, his body stiff, unresponsive – Rigid, as if in spinal lock.

There is a crackle. A faint, hoarse crackle, lower than a whisper.

"...Is this a dream?"

[ ] Drag him clear.
[ ] "No. Not for a long time."
[ ] “Time to wake up, Kaz.”
[ ] “...Are you all right?”
[ ] “-How long were you down there?”
[ ] “...Can you hear me?”
[ ] "C'mon, up you get. You need to walk it off."
[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3704192
>[ ] Drag him clear.
>[ ] “-How long were you down there?”
>>
>>3704192
>[x] "No. Not for a long time."
>[x] “...Are you all right?”
>[x] "C'mon, up you get. You need to walk it off."

We ought to clear the debris from him before we move him.
>>
>>3704192
>"Can you here me?"
>"How's your condition?"
>Use Anathema to pick him up and pull him out by himself. Then set the Crux to Booster.
>>
>>3704192
Please tell me that you can still see
>>
>>3704194
>>3704196

> [X] "No. Not for a long time."

“Thank-”

A hesitation, as if he's trying to remember the words.

“...God,” Daegal rasps out. “Thank God. I thought – I thought it was for ever. I thought...Though it'd never end-”

> [X] Drag him clear.

Your Crisis Arm locks around the plinth, and you pull. Iron bends, rivets tearing out as cables snap – You have just enough purchase to firm your grip on Daegal's gorget, as you drag him free. His limbs are still rigid, his gleaming plate scraping against the black sands with a hiss, shreds of his Mirage Shroud coiling away as it is abraded.

> [X] “-How long were you down there?”
> [X] “...Are you all right?”

“I...I don't know,” Daegal manages, still in that broken whisper. Blue light glows in his optics, wavering, spidery.

“I couldn't move. I couldn't move.” His fingertips trail in the sand, digging long furrows. If he could, he would be shaking.

“Couldn't get free. Couldn't move. I tried to reach you over the channel, but...”

The low clunk of his autoloader, cycling within him. “I screamed and screamed, until – Until I couldn't.

“It felt – It felt like days, maybe. Weeks. I tried to get free, but it just kept crushing me *more*-” Something, some echo of desperation, haunts Daegal's affectless voice.

You can see where the Dirac-hub bulge on his collar has been crushed – or just damaged? - preventing him from shouting from help. Or perhaps it was working all along, and he'd been shouting across the channel – not knowing that you couldn't hear him – until he lost the strength to scream.

If you hadn't found him-

You decide not to mention it. Some things aren't worth speculating about.

>>3704199
> [X] "C'mon, up you get. You need to walk it off."

The throb of the Crux – a pulse, steady and just on the edge of awareness – shifts, subtly. Red light swells within your Vitae Booster, heat threading through your limbs.

“Trying,” Daegal grits out. “Just...give me a moment-”

(Continued)
>>
>>3704205

His gauntlet closes around your arm, vicing tight. Gears mesh, as – slowly, haltingly – Daegal levers himself to his feet, supporting himself on you. He totters forward, in a blind stagger – Hunched, almost sclerotic as he sways upright, internal gyros spooling as his lurching walk straightens out.

“Why...don't I feel any different?” he wonders aloud. “It's been hoursdays – and I *remember*, but it's like none of it happened-”

His voice wavers, dopplering in and out. He doesn't sound too steady.

But there's only one direction left to go, and the end isn't far away.

For long, interminable moments, there is nothing left to say. Just effort, trudging forward – One step after another, meandering over the dark sands. Towards the cliff that overlooks the chasm.

Towards the hole in the fabric of all things.

“We're...almost there, aren't we?”

There's something in Daegal's voice, that might be hope.

“This is where we want to be, right? Where we've been trying to get to? This is what we were looking for, isn't it?”

The broken causeway – the bones of the mountain that once was. If you look, you can perceive patterns in the darkness, as if the gulf is shrouded in mist – there is a sound right on the edge of perception, as if you could expect to hear a monstrous roaring cataract below.

“...This is it?”

Daegal goes very still, as a handful of pebbles – just tiny flecks of stone – trickle off the edge, plunging down into the endless drop. There's something mesmeric about the chasm, something about the perilous span of rotting black stone that turns the mind towards the plunge.

“What now, Joker?” Daegal say, halting at the precipice.

“...What now?”

(Continued)
>>
>>3704215
>“What now, Joker?” Daegal say, halting at the precipice.

>“...What now?”

Now I will do what I do best: break the rules by not understanding them.
>>
>>3704215

A tremor runs through your right arm, like palsy. The shutters of the Helix Gauntlet can no longer hold back the Nihl Sphere's light; power boils down the snaking nest of cables in violet jags.

It glows. It glows like a star.

It glows like the only light that has any meaning, in this place.

It wasn't like this, before. Before, this place was swarming with vivid, hateful life. Before, all that lay before you was the ascent and the will to reach it. To push through, no matter what.

But before, you were here alone.

The White Joker must have come this way, too. Long after you did.

What now?

You'll have to jump. It's the only way.

You can feel the Nihl Sphere's chill radiating through your arm, a cold so all-consuming, so total, it reaches right to the very marrow. To your soul. It feels like the tips of your fingers – if you had fingers – are slowly, gradually turning black.

It wants to be used. It wants to return.

You've never learned how to use it. But you know, instinctively, that you can. That it was made for this, to fling you across the gulf between worlds.

To pierce the Shroud, one final time.

Except – Your control's an imperfect thing. Faltering, uncertain. You have no way to master it, no way to interface with the Sphere, other than the mechanism of the Helix Gauntlet – which was not made for this.

No way – Except one.

You remember Pazuzu's Nihl Eye, the lightless orb set side-by-side with the gleaming, rotating mechanism of the optic set in his skull. But something whispers, deep within you, of the price you might pay-

A price that might be forever.

But there's more.

You remember VOIVOID's words, then OSSEOUS HIEROPHANT'S. How only the Red – the White – Joker can leave this place.

And you wonder, not for the first time: Is that true?

The Eye of Night might take you home. But what about Kazuya? Can he come with you?

Can you afford to leave him behind?

You remember-

-the black smear of where Kazuya's eyes once were. The ruin of his torso, the deep, rending wound in his gut – the glimpses of hard red muscle, the webbed bulge of gut. And the stench you can only imagine, his legs broken and twisted beneath him-

Here, in the Underworld, Daegal is whole and alive. But will he be, once he leaves?

You don't know. You don't know.

(Continued)
>>
(There's an explanatory post to follow after this one.)

>>3704228

He might be remade, hale and unbroken. But he might not.

If you return – If you take him with you – there might not be enough of him left to live.

Except-

You can't imagine what he would do, roaming the endless plains of silence, becoming strange, becoming mad like the others. Never sleeping, never resting, always dreaming of – ceaselessly craving – the time when he was alive.

But maybe half a life – a purgatorial existence – is better than no life at all.

Can you make the decision for him? Should you? He might not understand what he's choosing, even now. He might not be able to comprehend what it means.

The echo of his words:

What now?

The moment, heavy with expectation.

[ ] “We jump.”
[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3704231
Tell him the full truth, but we're attempting the jump. Use whatever we have to make the jump. Nihil supported by Cybele's bracelet. Fortress mode around us so we don't drift apart. Heck check if he can't super charge our nihil eye or the gauntlet to fine tune control. I refuse to go without trying. We're not going to just leave him rot here.
>>
>>3704231

(Gentlemen, I'm going to lay the cards on the table, and explain – OOC – exactly what is about to transpire.

You have managed to retain possession of the Nihl Sphere over the course of your journey through the Underworld, which is commendable. As such, you have the power to pierce the Shroud, and attempt to return. You're certain – from experience – that the Red Joker's armor will protect you, through the descent: You're almost assured to survive it.

You don't know, however, whether Daegal can. It's possible that his armor won't be able to survive the passage through the Shroud: When you entered the Underworld, it was via Pazuzu's machine, which was meant to effect such a transition.

Kazuya was mortally wounded back in Episode 123, and he's been in his Player form since then. Like you, he hasn't reverted back at any point. You don't know whether he'll be healed, or whether he'll remain fatally wounded when you return to the Real.

An alternative is to leave him in the Underworld, with all the attendant consequences that might result.

At present, your (rudimentary) control of the Nihl Sphere is mainly facilitated by your Helix Gauntlet. However, you know that you could improve your control via Pazuzu's method i.e. Removing an optic sensor in order to implant the Nihl Sphere. Bear in mind, however, that you're instinctively aware that this will have consequences.

It's up to you how much you want to tell him.

This is a major decision.)
>>
>>3704239
This. Tell him everything we reasonably can, make the preparations, and jump.
>>
>>3704239
Oh and grab the guy before he tries to be a hero and just pushes us off.
>>
>>3704231
>[x] “We jump.”

Gotta have faith otherwise all this was for nothing.

Also maybe leave this vote up for a while so more people can cast their vote. You are outside your normal running hours.
>>
>>3704244
(Sure. I'll leave it up for an hour or so.)
>>
>>3704240
What about the Joker's Memory?
>>
>>3704255
(It's currently in your Beam Magnum. It's an option, but the Nihl Sphere has a significantly better chance in all meaningful ways.)
>>
>>3704256
This might be a dumb question, but if say we implant the Nihil sphere, Could we house either the Cobalt Booster, Cybele's bracelet or the Joker's Memory in the Helix gauntlet? If so could we use that to assist our passage through the shroud in any way?
>>
>>3704231
Either way, it's better if we take Kazuya with us. If we just leave him here, then he will almost certainly go mad or commit suicide (if that's even possible considering his armor).

Even if we entertain the possibility of stealing Pazuzu's Nihl sphere and trying to come back here to recover Daegal, the difference in time dilation will mean that even one day in the Real will be a century of waiting for him.
>>
>>3704240
Op i vote for tell daegal everything . If he chooses to go back and potentially die, then we implant the sphere and take him with us
>>
>>3704240
Will using the Nihl sphere kill us? If not, put it in. I don't mind losing an eye.

"Look. Kazuya, I'm going to try that honesty thing you kept talking about. This is it. The path to the Red and from there, home. The Nihil Sphere is made to pierce through veils and to go from one realm to another. Now I know that the Red Joker armor can survive the passage but I don't know if you can; it's likely, because the old Red Joker said I'd need you but I *can't* be certain. And, if you do go back to the Red, you have your body still. I don't know what condition it's in. As long as you stay here, you'll *live*. I could even try and come back for you... But it might ve centuries.

So, here's our choice. Do you want to jump and risk it or stay? I won't force you, either way. I can even try putting the sphere in my eye... But I'll lose an eye in the real. I don't mind that, not at all. I just want you to understand what's about to happen.

So, what's it gonna be Kaz? Try and fly or wait for me?"

If there's a tie, put me down for jumping.
>>
>>3704267
I agree. Leaving him here is barely an option. In a way, this place is worse than death. Even if we can come back for him, how far gone will he be?
>>
If he chooses not to come with us, we should see if we can find the White joker and and drag him back here and transfer the Armour to Degal, give him the Locus Seeker so when we return for him he can find us.
>>
>>3704240
Kazuya, we have two options.
Either I tear out my eye and secure the jump this way or Ieave you here, steal Pazuzu's other eye and come back to get you.
The second option would take days, which means hundreds of years down here.

I think we both know what the better option is. You have seen voivoid.
>>
Could we not give daegal the eye , maybe he can enhance it and not require an implant like us
>>
>>3704293
Unlikely. It's ours. He doesn't have a Helix Gauntlet either; he'd still have to lose his eye.
>>
>>3704294
>He doesn't have a Helix Gauntlet either
About that:

>There, on the right arm - Blue light fuming from the joints - is the unmistakable mark of the Helix Gauntlet. The ruby icon on his breastplate, glowing with flickering inner radiance...The fires of the Cobalt Booster, refined for a singular host's use.
>>
>>3704294
He was able to interact with the gate without the memory if.only for a moment it's worth checking to see if daegal can interact with the nihil eye the same way
>>
(Gentlemen: Locking in. You've decided to tell him everything you know, then make the jump without removing an eye?)
>>
>>3704307
This, OP. Self-mutilation can wait for later.
>>
>>3704307
I'd say with removing an eye, but it really depends on what everyone else says.
>>
>>3704307
First op,
>we want to know what daegal decision is does he want to stay or go.
>if he chooses to go Next we want to try and give daegal the eye to see if he can enhance it so we don't have to give up an eye
>If that fails, we implant the eye and make the jump.and try to bring daegal with us
>>
We have to do everything we can to bring daegal.with us. If we want that sweet hollow sun power up
>>
>>3704314
We've given everything to bring him this far, we're not leaving him now. If we can leave without sacrificing an eye, even better.
>>
>>3704311
Seconded. Maybe he can interface with our armor.
We are likely needed for our attunement with the nihl.
>>
>>3704307
I'm fine with losing the eye if we have no better alternatives. We'd probably end up doing that eventually anyway, considering we'll need both Nihl's to save Hecate and (probably) deal with the Black Joker.
>>
>>3704307
Remove our eye
>>
>>3704239
>>3704242
>>3704244
>>3704267
>>3704270
>>3704275
>>3704290
>>3704278
>>3704311
>>3704318
>>3704320

And so the moment of decision has come at last.

Kazuya is silent, for a long, damned moment. Unspeaking, he might almost be a gilded statue – Unmoving, so utterly lost in thought it leaves no room for speech.

And at last, he turns. He looks back, at the endless dunes – then down, to the endless fall that awaits. In one direction, eternity: In the other, death.

But there's a chance-

White noise blurs from his speakers, as he exhales a breath he does not need. An inner light fluctuates within his optics, the wan light issuing from the joins of his armor.

“I don't know.”

Kazuya looks down at one gleaming gauntlet, his fingers curling, slowly, into a fist. There is a mute agony in the gesture, stark indecision in every line of his being.

“I...Joker – Anon...I don't know. I'm...Fuck, I'm afraid. Going back to *that* - I don't know if I can do it. I don't know if I can face it-”

“...I don't know if I ever could.”

A silence descends, softer than splinters.

Then-

“You said – Time works differently, here. That a day there is a century here-”

Yes.

He's thinking, now. Turning it over and over in his head-

“Even if you come back,” Daegal says, low. “-It could be thousands of years. More.

Yes.

His boots scuff against the black rock – He doesn't pace, doesn't prowl the narrow span, but for a moment it seems like he might.

No matter how you might try, you would never reach him in time.

“I thought-” Kazuya says, almost to himself. “I thought, at first...It'd be – be like an adventure. Just...just something to tell Natsumi, something to tell Akira. You know, before.”

There's a catch to his voice, now.

“-Nobody said it'd be like this.”

Yes.

You would make it different, if you could.

“No. No, not that. It's okay. I just...”

For a moment, you think he might fall silent – But he forges on.

“I know – I know there aren't any guarantees. I know it could be the end, over there-”

His arm comes up. It scrapes against the crusher of his helmet, metal-on-metal.

“But maybe that's all I get. Just an ending, that's all I want now. An end to this...This place. It's – fuck. I may never sleep again, you know that? This – this might be all I ever get to see. The last thing I ever get to see.”

“I just...I just keep thinking, it's going to be over. Finished. Done with. But there's always more, and it's always worse-”

Daegal raises his head. Slowly, with a hum of servoes.

“Anything's better than this. Anything's better than going on like this – forever.”

(Continued)
>>
>>3704307
the Nihl sphere isnt ours, it belongs to Hecate. lets not replay EVERY part of the fucking play.

kaz could help us by interfacing with the helix gauntlet
>>
>>3704336
Don't take out the god damn eye. Have you ever tried to fight with ONE EYE? You have no depth perception! OP, put it to a final vote before we make the leap.

Remember that interfacing with the Eye is a FUCKING BAD THING. It drove Montague insane!
>>
>>3704365
We took out the Athame and found the axe already. Play is broke.

However, considering how we'll probably need to use the eye to resist Pazzy's and to find/bring back Hecate, it makes more sense to me to put it in now while we can ALSO help Daegal.
>>
>>3704368
>You have no depth perception!
Not really an issue for cameras. Remember, we have sensors, not actual eyes.
>>
>>3704348

Forever has a power of its own. The word seems to echo, all the way down – across the detritus of deep time, over the towers and blasted lands and the city of doubled shadow.

And for a moment, you think of acid breakers beating against the surf, under the endless night.

“We have to try it. I have to – No matter what.”

He says it as if the words will make it a truth. Daegal's limbs are so rigid they might shatter – You can see the spindle lock, to stop them from trembling.

The Helix Gauntlet's complex mechanisms rotate, as you remove the Nihl Sphere from the socket. The size is never quite the same – here and now, it seems smaller than a marble, tiny against the palm of your gauntlet. Daegal's gaze goes to it, and you see the hope – and puzzlement – in his stance-

He reaches out, tentatively – Never quite touching it, as he says what you've been dreading.

“What do I...?”

In the end, it's up to you.

[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3704378
>>3704378
and our sensors are all borked we're relying only on visual input now.
>>
>>3704368
>>3704378
(Gentlemen, my apologies: It's extremely late, and it's unlikely that I'll be able to get the next post - which is extremely long - up in time, but I'll strive to do so at the first opportunity.)

(To be absolutely clear, I confirm that replacing an optic with the Nihl Eye will negatively affect your accuracy and combat ability. It does not provide a substitute to conventional vision.)
>>
>>3704380
>>3704382
Don't remove it, and jump. There is absolutely no reason to mangle ourselves permanently for a better chance. If we make it, we'll be permanently penalized for no reason.

The most important part of a fight is hitting things.
>>
>>3704379
> This sphere can take us home but extracts a price, Daegal I am.willing to pay it, I owe you that much. But first I want to see if you can interface with it like the you did with the gate.
>>
>>3704384
And leave daegal and the hollow sun upgrade behind. You outta your mind. We have the auspex and argus sensor to compensate for one eye
>>
>>3704384
>If we make it, we'll be permanently penalized for no reason.
And if we don't, then it's game over for us and Kazuya because we were afraid of the negative consequences.

Even if we get severely penalized, direct interfacing with the Nihl Sphere should carry its own benefits and we will likely go down this path anyway if we get Pazuzu's half. We're also going back to the Real soon, so our other sensors will be back by the time of the next combat encounter.

We've also gotten a shitload of power-ups recently. We can deal with being penalized some.
>>
>>3704389
Besides, we could look into getting the Nihil Sphere swapped with another optic. Imago still has a relic eye. If we can find him, perhaps we can get it from him.He'll likely not do it for free though.
>>
>>3704382
In case we get the Nihl eye transplant: Any chance we can pull the same trick as with the Midas Arm back in the day and use part of the Assault Shroud to cover up the Sphere like an eyepatch. Give our Pazzy a nasty surprise when the time comes.
>>
>>3704390
We are GUARANTEED to survive. OP literally said we have done this before. The only guy actually at risk is Kazuya.
>>
>>3704382
Fucking hell.

We need our vision, but the only people we owe anything won't depend on the outcome of any further fights.
Replacing our optics will directly impact our chance of saving one of the few people we would do anything for. So we sure as fuck are gonna do it.
Yes, Mio and the Black Joker and shit are things that we need combat ability for, but Kazuya has a much higher precedence on our hierarchy of needs. How could we not do everything in our power to save him?

I do have one question, though. Replacing *one* optic? I thought we only had the one.
>>
>>3704379
>>3704382
Replace the eye, I guess. I'm 100% confident this will not fuck us over at any point in the future.
>>
>>3704424
(Technically it's your main optic, but you have secondary ones.)
>>
>>3704430
Interesting.

By the way, for how long were we in the underworld? Have we approached a century at this point?

"Kazuya, I spent a century down here so that you don't have to. I will get you through this. Now help me replace my eye with an alien artifact."
>>
Let's not replace our eye. It's a sacrifice we don't need to make, and not all sacrifice is good or necessary, even.
>>
>>3704379
>"Kaz...I spent several centuries down here before. Much of which I spent crawling on what's left of my limbs. I came out nearly a vegetable. I don't want to subject you to the same fate."

>"If we're going, we're going together. And I'll do my damnest to keep you from losing you in the jump."
>"When we reach the other side...You'll be in safe hands. I'll hold on to you and hold youin case...in case it turns out...the worst case happens when we return from the real."
>Fortress mode, use the Assault Shrouds to bind the two of you together (preferrably around where he was mortally wounded before assuming player form) and wrap Deagal with as much armor as possible, Hold Deagal from behind, use any method to try and securely keep him from slipping away.
>Don't replace your eye
>>
So if we actually replace our eye, we will want to put a level into Argus, as well as get the module that allows us to amplify its strength.

We should also look into other ways to offset this disability. I'm sure the Hollow Sun can create something.
>>
Sure replace the eye. I want to see how that ends.
>>
Why the fuck do you people want to replace our eye? We need the accuracy. Don't replace the eye, you idiots.
>>
>>3704486
Because then we get the Nihil sphere upgrade and synthesis for better code bursts, its constant detection, being able to take in energy. Don't forget that Auspex/Argus are two sensor suites we have already, can be upgraded and have proven to be useful time and again.

Not only that, the sphere will help us find Hecate AND save Daegal. This is a no brainer to put the sphere in; we can even invest an upgrsde into sensors or the argus to compensate but we MUST get Daegal to the Sun, save Hecate and acquire the full Crux and both Nihil spheres.
>>
>>3704495
What I wonder about is what the Helix gauntlet was made for, if not the NIHL sphere.
What else would we put there? The Cobalt Booster?
>>
>>3704510
I've been meaning to give that a try.
>>
>>3704510
It's meant to be a conduit for energy; it's the source of EXEC POWER TRANSFER, waives Consume's cost and decreases the cost of each codeburst. We should be able to place something else in there; the cobalt booster, the memory or some other kind of battery should work.
>>
>>3704585
>it's the source of EXEC POWER TRANSFER
That's actually the ring that we got after the raid.
>>
>>3704630
I thought that just let us do it at will? Maybe the Memory pastebin clarifies. Also, just a thought
>Nihil sphere + Aphelion
>>
Don't replace the eye. I don't really care about the possible combat negatives or the eventual benefits we might possibly obtain, but it's Pazuzu's eye and therefore the symbolism will probably fuck us up.
>>
>>3704751
It's not his eye, the Black Cardinal had it before.
>>
>>3704732
By the way, the armory entry for The Aphelion also describes it as an optic. We might be able to swap it later. Unless it's already found it's place in another slot on our armor.
>>
>>3704379
Don't replace the eye. Bind Kazuya to you with whatever we can, hold his hand In a deathgrip and we jump. God, please don't die Kazuya.

Would replacing our main optic with the Nihl even do anything for us, or do we just *think* It might? Just because It works for Paz doesn't mean It will work for us.
>>
>>3704382
>can we use an EVOLVE option to gain another main optics later?

>The Nihl Sphere exists in the red and the real, so we are actually going to lose a real eye correct?

>can we remove the sphere later if necessary? not to regain our sight, but to say, give it back to HECATE?

>The sphere RAPIDLY drains people of power and HP, will we really survive imitating Odin?

>>3704387
This +1,000,000

deagal has a helix gauntlet analog, so he should be able to interface and boost the Nihl Sphere.

If that fails, then yes replace the optic. We arent leaving anyone else behind. And if need be we can tear the damn thing out and fight half blind if we need to give it to HECATE.
>>
>>3704382
I'm pretty against swapping eyes. Currently, all of our secondary sensor systems are down and our visual optics are pretty much the only sensors operational. If we end up getting into a fight the moment we jump the gap, we'd be at a serious disadvantage.

And this all assuming putting in the Nihl Sphere actually improves our chances significantly enough for the risk. We still don't have any idea how it works besides pure instinct and may have a whole lot of other secondary effects besides impaired vision. Remember, we've still got White Joker and Pazuzu waiting for us on the other side. This is not the time to be considering a mystery box nerf.
>>
Everyone all for pulling out our eye and replacing it with the Nihil Sphere is a retard.
>>
Don't replace the eye, link up both Helix Gauntlets around the Sphere in a handshake so that Daegal can golden-enhance the jump instead.

If needed, fight him so that he charges to 100% to Ult into the Helix Gauntlet/Nihl Sphere.
>>
>all these coward minmaxers so afraid of the penalties that they'd knowingly risk the survival of our one and only ally
Faggots, one and all.
>>
>>3705210
>>3705221
>>3705241
Are you fucking dense? We already know that the Nihil Eye is a substantial improvement in our ability to pierce the Shroud; we can't even use it properly now and we STILL might be able to cross. Not only that, you're ignoring the fact that we'd be able to use it properly for once and that when we use our sensors, our suspect, aphelion and terrorsight, we can use them THROUGH the Nihil Eye.

Not only that, when we're back in the Red, we're returning to the Hollow Sun and then the real anyway.
>implying we can't just upgrade our sensors or get daegal to make more

Not only that, it massively improves our detection, ability to see through things and finding Hecate.

>>3705241
You think killing Daegal is a better idea than using the Eye in our head? Because he'll die if we fight him in this state.
>>
>>3705253
Also this. You disgust me. Daegal is worth losing an eye for. We'd have died without him. Not only that, this is probably an upgrade anyway.
>>
>>3705264
Just use lower-rank weapons, ffs, so he gets on-hit meter but isn't actually substantially damaged. Use Vulcans or fist strikes or some shit.
>>
>>3705268
Literally will still kill him at this point, dude's got a fucking hole in his chest and we could still exist. I mean really anon, you gotta do BIG DAMAGE to get more meter
>>
>>3705264
Golden Ult'ing the Nihl Sphere, if it works, would be at least as good as implanting it, so we are not missing out on the chances, or potentially even giving a better chance than what we get with implantation. It really depends on whether Daegal can do that and how far it goes.

Come the fuck on, remember what did he do to the Gate. He can enhance relics to utter fuck, and implanting the eye only gives a buff, not a 100% guarantee that he doesn't die in transit.

Like, as I see it, we have X% to have him make transit, and X+Y% if we implant. What I want to check is if we don't have X+Z% if we goldenboost it, where Z>Y.

(Hell, maybe he can golden-tendril -us- and we can get X+Y+Z% if we implant it and he is touching our eye, or something.)
>>
>>3705273
Can we not give him the Crux for a bit? I don't remember it being Joker-locked in usability. Would heal him up a bit.
>>
>>3705273
In addition, he can poke -us-. We are mostly healed, and we can weather lower-ranked attacks. And we have micro-reassemblers.
>>
>>3705282
Bruh, we don't know if its permanent and more importantly, the Nihil sphere isn't just a normal relic. You're dealing with the highest echelon of power here.
>Daegal putting the Nihil Sphere in the Helix Gauntlet
No. It's an eye. It needs to be put into the eyes to work properly.

>>3705283
No, the Crux works by controlling the lachryma within us. It, in and of itself, doesn't seem to have an effect besides protecting us from the other part of the Crux.

>>3705286
Pretty sure that won't give much meter if we just punching bag anon. You need back and forth for meter; look at how little correctors or non Players provide when you try to fuck them up. Not a good idea. Especially because you probably can't enhance the Nihil Sphere, seeing as it's in the same league as the Chalice Armor, the Crux and the Fatal Abyss.
>>
>>3705253
>>3705266
As someone that doesn’t really care that much the situation, it’s pretty clear. The choices are replace the eye, leave him behind, or take the very unlikely gamble that risks Deagal life. I don’t get what the big deal is with the accuracy penalty since having an ally offsets that massively and it’s likely to come with it’s own benefits. Not to mention it’s been hammered in pretty hard “nobody get to leave but the Joker”

So my question is: Do you think Deagal is worth sacrificing? Because it seems the answer is yes.
>>
>>3705316
No, we aren't killing him. Fuck, we can get him to MAKE us sensors. I'd have RJ kill himself before we leave Daegal behind.
>>
>>3705282
Thats if he even can interact with it. The Nihl sphere is finnicky.

Of we can get him to inteface with it without dying then sure.

But ultimately, if it means sacrificing some of ourself to save Kazuya, then we need to do so. Not just because he is our friend, but because doing so is the -exact opposite- of what Naoya and PAZUZU woukd do.

Naoya sacrificed his friend and allies, literally tearing them apart to make himself stronger.

PAZUZU used EVERYONE for his goal of reclaiming Mikogami's kingdom of impossible dreams.

Anon can finally give something up to save someone else.

And if we save Kazuya, maybe we can save Natsumi. And if we save Natsumi, maybe we can save HECATE. maybe by saving one life we can start a tidal wave of change. or maybe not. But we have to try, and we have to try as hard as we can.

The action may be the same as PAZUZU's, but the reasons are exactly opposite. And we owe it to Kazuya to tey, even if all thats waiting for him is death.

(personally fiven the amount of essence hes absorbed its likely that fate will find a way to preserve him. Like waking up in a sterling industries medical wing or some such)
>>
>>3705316
Anon claimed the Red Joker after he returned to the real, so it has to be possible.
>>
>>3704379
>>3705978
>The action may be the same as PAZUZU's, but the reasons are exactly opposite.

This convinced me. Remove the eye, try everything to improve our chances of taking Kaz with us. Screw that "Only the Joker leaves," noise.
>>
>>3705978
Damn this is kind of a convincing argument for sacrifice.
>>
>>3704379
OP, would ripping out our main optic and putting In the Nihl help us save Kazuya, or would It be just as effective as having It In the first place?

I'm coming around to the idea, but I'd like some reassurance that altering ourselves, debilitating ourselves, at least gives us the benefit we're hoping for.
>>
>>3705982
Except that's bullshit.
>>
>>3705982
No, anon became Joker before leaving.
>>
God Damnit. Ive been reading this quest for years and only now have I realized that we could have used EXEC_REAP to steal knowledge of Codebursts from fallen enemies.

GRAND MAGUS had a wonderful "bullets curve to hit you even if they miss" field that would have been amazing.
>>
>>3707392
We never killed him, dude ran away.
>>
>>3707392
What makes you think that's possible?
>>
>>3704437
(You would estimate that it's been several months, but your count is inexact. The long periods of unconsciousness have thrown it off.)

>>3705241
>>3705282
>>3705316
>>3705978
(Upon consideration, I'd say this is an entirely viable option. It makes logical sense that Daegal would be able to use his primary ability on your Helix Gauntlet as long as he remained in physical contact with you.

He may not be able to augment the Nihl Sphere, but he can certainly augment the Helix Gauntlet to increase your control.)

>>3707147
(The most effective option would be removing your optic and replacing it with the Nihl Sphere. However, allowing Daegal to augment your Helix Gauntlet would also be extremely effective. You could attempt to use the Nihl Sphere without either of the above, however.)

>>3707392
>>3707438
(This was, in fact, the unstated intended use of EXEC_REAP.)
>>
Gents I think our best option is to go with daegal enhancing helix gauntlet. We can always implant the eye if things look dicey
>>
>>3707453
Let Daegal enhance it. Also FUCK. How many codeburst enemies have we fought anyway? Only like 3, right?
>>
>>3707453
>He may not be able to augment the Nihl Sphere, but he can certainly augment the Helix Gauntlet to increase your control.

I guess this would be a great compromise for those who do not want to remove the optic and those that do.

What do you guys think? Want to give it a go? If so, should we give him the compass so he won't get lost, and cybele's bracelet just incase? If I recall correctly it worked in a similar fashion as the Nihl Sphere, only less potent.
>>
>>3707467
I am for giving him the locus, but against giving him the bracelet, it won't provide him any protection
>>
>>3707467
>>3707475
I still think it's quite likely we'll need to implant anyway but fuckit, let's just have him enhance the gauntlet. I think implanting it is safer but OP said 'extremely effective' so it should still probably work.
>>
>>3707485
This.
>>
>>3707453
Can we use ANATHEMA in such a way that would target DAEGAL exclusively while passing through the shroud to shelter him by shunting it's negative effects away? Could we give Kazuya the APHELION and just use EXEC_REND in between teleports to make sure the shroud won't start to erode him upon exiting the quantum conduit?
>>
>>3707453
The handshake to end all handshakes. Let's do it
>>
>>3707485
(To clarify, I confirm that implantation is safer. Augmentation is still extremely effective, but not as much as replacing your optic with the Nihl Sphere. Think of it as the median solution.)
>>
>>3707509
Has the vote been locked in yet?
>>
>>3707513
(I'll consider this locked-in, in the interest of continuing. I'll give it half an hour, then begin the next post.)
>>
>>3705241
>>3705978
>>3707465
>>3707466
>>3707467
>>3707475
>>3707485
>>3707502

You consider.

You don't like it. None of the choices available are good ones, but they are all you have.

But you understand, now. You know what has to be done.

The Helix Gauntlet's shutters iris open, as you place the Nihl Sphere into the socket. It keens, as if agitated – You sense a terrible need, an awful longing that remains unfulfilled. It is a sound on the very edge of perception, an atonal moaning that never quite reaches the realm of human speech.

Violet sparks dance across the Helix Gauntlet's cables, like a nest of writhing snakes. Jags of colorless lightning flicker, as you make a fist.

You stand on the threshold, now. Here, at the very end of the world, the Nihl Sphere's power makes the air shake.

You taste electricity on your iron teeth. Space flexes, as the wind picks up, the first gusts scudding across the dunes. They suck and screech, as tendrils of corospant slide across your armor, grounding themselves on the black stone of the broken causeway below.

Daegal takes a wary step back.

“Joker-” he begins, cautious now. “Anon...Do you know what you're doing-?”

No.

His optics flickers, as you push the Locus Seeker into his hand – For a moment, he clutches the small orb of diamond glass in gilded fingers, before comprehension dawns. The tiny, gleaming bauble locks into his Helix Gauntlet as if made for it – the blade pointing at you, unwavering.

“If we get separated...” Daegal says – But his words trail off, leaving the rest unspoken. What, then?

He stares down into the chasm, for a long, long time. The darkness yawns below you, the long, final drop beckoning.

You can feel the pressure of the gathering storm, now. Ancient metal sighs and creaks and groans, as the wind stirs it. Flecks of ash, borne on the gusts, sweep past you into the waiting void.

Power gathers. You realize, distantly, that your right hand is shaking – You force it to be still, but it's just a matter of time, now. You can feel the force building within, like a grotesque pressure: the light of the violet star shining forth, stark and eternal.

You raise your right hand, and regard the Nihl Sphere, through the crackling swirl of rising static. For a moment – Just a moment – it feels like you should be able to see your future within.

But all you see is power.

A high wail is rising with a coil of wind, as it circles the two of you. Snakes of anti-light writhe through the air.

There is a low rumble, far above. A distant flash.

Thunder.

Rain, heavy drops of it, is beginning to fall.

Now.

(Continued)
>>
>>3707597

Daegal's hand rises – And he hesitates. Just for a moment, the lens of his optics darkening to something black and almost opaque. You think he might push you away, over the drop – Make his choice, and yours, in one single swift motion.

But then he steps forward, to your right. His orichalcum gauntlet vises down, almost convulsively, as he stands by your side. He may be saying something, but all that comes over the Dirac channel is white noise as his fingers bite down into your arm-

Golden light pours forth.

The Helix Gauntlet lights up, like a phosphorescent flare. It is a light that casts all else into shadow, that bleaches all color from the world. It burns down into the stone, as luminous filaments bridge the distance – linking you together, as the grand transmutation begins.

The storm breaks.

Lightning blasts the cloudless sky, savage bolts tearing down from above. It detonates against the scorched black hulls of marooned leviathans as the downpour begins. In the weird illumination that writhes around you, the rain is sticky, tarry, gleaming in the storm-light. It falls in huge, swirling curtains, as if it will never end.

Perhaps it won't. Perhaps, one day, the entire Underworld will be drowned by the deluge.

You will never know.

Your Assault Shroud's nanomaterial turns dense, unreflective – A prelude to Fortress Mode. The dull, lightless gleam is mirrored by the glossy sheen of Daegal's Mirage Shroud, reflecting all around him in a shifting mosaic of mirrors; In the amber light, you see yourself, reflected over and over again.

The Helix Gauntlet cycles, abstruse mechanisms whirring and ticking as they spin up. The light radiates from you, now – New schematics sketching themselves into existence, the shadows and lines of gears and wheels beginning to chug and clatter. They etch strange circles and hoops in the falling rain, like ripples in water – the sound of frantic industrial life almost (but not quite) drowning out the low hum that builds in your skull.

It gleams. It gleams like it did when you once held the Hand of Midas – the source of the gleaming armor that sheaths Daegal's form, the power that remade him when he was broken.

The twisting cables of the Helix Gauntlet shine, now. Feed-lines and accumulators gather around them, plates of armor sliding into place along support struts, clamping down. Radiant glyphs shimmer, above each knuckle – the eerie glow, violet and gold at once, expanding.

Daegal's expressionless helm turns towards yours, as if impressing this moment into his consciousness.

And he says-

“On three.”

“One.”

The world is bathed in aurora light.

“Two.”

The deluge pounds down around you, a curtain thicker than fog.

The Nihl Sphere's song – or wail – builds to a painful pitch.

“Thr-”

You jump.

(Continued)
>>
>>3707624

He's a heartbeat slower than you are. Some last instinct, some remaining sense of self-preservation, stopping him from taking the plunge.

But when you leap – fall – you are linked to him, as he is linked to you. The causeway vanishes from beneath your feet – You hear Daegal's strangled shout, hear his boots scuffing for purchase, as your weight pulls him with you-

And then there is only the descent.

There is no wind, in the darkness below. Just an utter, consuming blackness.

Down.

There is the impression of tremendous speed, of vast walls of stone rushing past.

The lightning-streaked sky vanishes. The Tempest Scrander at your back pulses with the false promise of escape, as if anything could ever escape the drop of rushing nightmare.

You plunge through the blackness.

Down. Forever down.

Daegal falls with you.

His arm judders, his form contorting in a convulsion of motion. The only other thing in the world, his gauntlet grasping your arm so tightly, the metal begins to buckle.

Please, you think he says.

God-

No.

But you can't be sure.

The Nihl Sphere glows bright. Brighter. It is as if the void between worlds has cast aside the last restraints, to release all that pent-up radiance in a single surge.

Everything fades, in a blaze of violet fire. Perhaps this is death, to fall forever and to burn, until all else becomes a distant memory-

And for a moment – Just a moment – the light is not violet, but white. Bright, cold – a white that is somehow more hideous, more terrible, than the blackness and the Underworld you've left behind. There is a sense of terrible force being brought to bear, like a bottomless maw yawning open to devour you-

Your sensors blur to nothing. Static fills your displays. The horrific un-light – all colors and none – well up from the cracks in reality, as everything shudders, flexes and shivers around you. It feels like you are being smashed and pulled apart, a vast roaring filling your very core – An onrushing pandemonium that would shake you to pieces, as you're wrenched into the churning maelstrom.

Terrible sounds, across the Dirac channel. Sounds that are almost words.

Faster.

Faster.

(Continued)
>>
>>3707662

The light twists around you, and carries you forward. Forward, into the emptiness – through oceanic blackness, across the vast expanse of infinity. Screams, boiling around you – the same sound twisted and stretched across the void, until even the meaning is lost-

And then the pain begins.

It is a pain like no other, like nothing you've ever experienced. An agony so fundamental, it spears into the very center of your being – into all that remains – like threads of burning black venom. Worse is the knowledge that what comes with it is eternal, that the essential core of your being is flayed away one sliver at a time.

A certainity blossoms that what is happening to you – what is being done – may be forever.

Thought becomes will becomes form.

Something grasps you. Something utterly inimical, something not meant to exist in the same plane of the universe. In all that vast, consuming whiteness, the essence that clings to you is in irreconcilable conflict with your own, and it brings with it only inarticulate pain.

But you grasp it, too. Awareness flickers across your consciousness, a whisper of something fundamentally important – something that you fight to hold on to, even as it tears you apart.

And it is ripping you apart. The one certainity you can seize upon is-

If you let go, the pain will end.

[ ] L͜et̢ ̡g̵ơ.͘
[ ] H͢o͝͝ĺ̴͞d ̴͢͟o͝n̡
[ ] F̷r͜e̴͡ę

YO̡͝U̧ ̢́Ḩ̸͜A̧̢V̛̛E Ć̶O̡͝͠N͢͜͡T̴̛R̕͡Ơ͠͡L
>>
>>3707687
>Hold on!
>>
>>3707687

>[X] H͢o͝͝ĺ̴͞d ̴͢͟o͝n̡


>"Awareness flickers across your consciousness, a whisper of something fundamentally important -"

Makes me feel like holding on and trying to tell Daegal to do the same if possible would make sense here.
>>
>>3707687
>[X ] L͜et̢ ̡g̵ơ.͘
>>
>>3707687
U̞͔ş͇̘̭̦͇͍ͅe̱̻̙ͅ ̖t̯̻̘̯̣h̞e͔̕ͅ ͖̤͓̞͟C͇̱̣͍̬̣r͉̬̺̠̣u̶͉͓̱̫̗͔̖x̱̺̖̪̟͉̭ ́a͍͞n͉̜̫̦̙͝ḍ͉̰ ̮͈̼͇ͅB̢̝͕̠͖͕̼l̛̯a̭c̳̠̬̰̞̩̠k̴̼ ͎J̨̥͇o̤̟͉͈͎k̢̝̜͍̭̹̖͖e͔͎r̮͈̹̘ͅ'̛̹̪s̢̺̝͉̱̖̬̖ ̤͇̫H̨̤̹̳e̪̖͙͇̹a̧̮͍̦̰̙r̢̤t̮̤̣̻̳͇ ͎t̖̦̻͕̘̣͟ͅo̩̫̬͕̜ͅ ͚͔͈͖̪͠ḫ̠̭e͇͇͚͓̜̗̫al̴͔
R̼̮̜̳͜e̱̖͎̠̣͓i̸͔̬̙͉͎ͅͅn̼͉̦̜̞f̴̯͕̣̣̥̟̟o̢̬͉̗̻͙̥r͕͉̩̤͖͈c͓̣͔̬̜̥e͜ ͎o̷͖u̶̱͚̬̮̭̤r̫͍̼̠̹s̛͔̳͔e̟̘̞̗͓͔͠l͎̭̥̕v̶̳̝e͓̼͕̼͠s͕͇̙̮̺̮ ̗͓͇̩̩̝w̦i̸͖̦t̟̬͘h̼͈̮̘͟ ̨̘t͞h̸e͚̰̣̼͓̣ ̺M̮̳̯͓e̝̦̙͇͢m̭͡o͚̝r̡̙y̼

͓Ú̬̝͚s̺̺͚̪͜e̪̪̤̘͞ ̤̥̻̬̝̹̭E̳͙̰X̵̗̟E͓̳̥͇͓͕͉̕C̶̟̝̝̭̰ ͎́B͉́A̝̹R̝͖̪̗R̤͔̣͔̗͟ͅI͞E̷͈ͅR̘

I told you guys we should have put the fucking eye in. Now we might lose something ANYWAY.
>>
>>3707687
Oh fucking hell. Hold on, no matter what.
>>
>>3707718
This and also
U̸̻̜̭͙͙̙̦s͜ẹ̵͚ ̗͇̣͙͓̰H̢̗̭a̱̠̬̼͍͝r̤̗̦̬m͕͞on̠ia
>>
>>3707709
>>3707712

Don't let go.

You hold on.

Blink.

A haze of sterile light, outside time. Between one breath and the next.

The pain is your world, now. All-consuming, devouring you whole. It feels like parts of yourself are being shorn away, like dry leaves put to the torch.

But you hold on.

You feel the grip weaken, like a candle guttering out. Like quicksilver, slipping through your fingers even as it burns you.

But you hold on.

Blink.

Cold light, eons old.

>>3707718
>>3707712
>>3707726

You reach out, for something. For anything. For some anchor, in all that consuming vastness.

But there is nothing. Nothing you can do-

Except hold on.

Don't let go.

Across the interstellar gulf. Through the eternal night of the blind.

The fire rages inside you, the hungry cold burning without end as you fall through the endless black. It feels like you grasp a single thread, a filament of the sun, thinning to almost nothing-

But you strain harder, not knowing what you're doing. Not knowing how. Only-

Don't-

-let-

The fire is all.

Drowning in an ocean of acid, the waves rising to pull you under. Half-glimpsed forms, beneath the raging surface. Thoughts like flecks of static against solid blackness.

Blindness.

Centuries reel and unspool with arctic slowness, and still you fall. In the slow creeping course of eternity the universe churns itself to completion, and all things become again as they were uncounted eons before.

Blink.

(Continued)
>>
>>3707752
I think what's happening is that Daegal's essence is entering our armor, as he is augmenting the Helix Gauntlet.
The end result is that the Red Joker armor, which has a way to protect itself from this transition, is trying to purge his essence as he is overtaxing the protection by essentially being a semi-part of us.

I'm sure we are suffering damage, but Kazuya is too important. We already lost Haze and Akira.
>>
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>>3707752

...

..

.

The first dawn of light in your universe brings pain.

It burns you, as you become aware of it – as it fills your unblinking eyes.

It is grey, pale – an expanse that stretches on into infinity. It brings with it a force, an immense pressure – a hundred times harder than rock, a thousand times harder than iron – that presses against your skull, in a hard line of pain.

Light. It should mean something.

You feel-

A memory of fever, a sickly heat prickling through your bones. Bruises.

A smell. Cold stone. Something burned. An earthy reek.

For the first time in forever – Like a dreamer awakening from a long, long nightmare – you feel the breeze against your skin.

And you realize-

Here and now, you are alive.

Flamelight, blurry. There is a smell of smoke and sweat and blood. Your head pounds – your mouth, your throat, is as dry as a desert on fire.

It feels-

Breathe. Breathe.

Your vision swims. You feel weak, pitifully weak – Slowly, achingly, you heave yourself over. Push yourself up to hand and knees. For a moment, all you can see is the grey floor on which you had been lying, bits of charred red cloth mixed amid the scraps and detritus-

You remember. You know where this place is.

You stomach heaves and twist, as you fight down the dizzying nausea that roils within your gut. Sensation returns, in a rush – the abrasions on your hands and knees, like papercuts. The dull pain in your bones-

You're in-

You're...

Moisture patters down the wall of the alley. A shape scuttles, darts across a puddle of rainwater.

And your gaze is drawn – inexorably – to the mark carved into the wall, left curiously untouched despite everything else. The one you've seen before, a long, long time ago.

You're back.

You're back.

(Continued)
>>
>>3707772
Dude it's obviously Harmonia or, more likely, the activated Black Joker's Heart. I doubt it's Daegal mingling with us; look at the descriptions used. Threads of heat and cold? Endless voids? An acid sea?
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>>3707786

Back, at the beginning of it all.

It's night. Night, but – the sky. What's happened to the sky?

The sliver you can see, through the rising walls, is a bloody arterial red. There is a smell, like salt, borne on the wind. It roils, shifting in patterns on the very edge of making sense-

You have to look away. You look down, dizzy.

Somehow, you feel – know – that something is wrong.

Where's-

And then you see him.

You see a crumpled form, sprawled face-down on the alleyfloor – lying there, as if it will never move again. Kazuya's shock of black hair is threaded with grey, now – He's still in the gilded coat (the sequins peeling away, now, like fool's gold) he was wearing on-stage, a lifetime ago.

As are you, you realize. The weight of your long coat settles heavily on your shoulders, but you feel things move within it, familiar shapes.

The Carnifex. You've brought it with you.

The Nihl Sphere – glittering dully with oblate fire – winks at you from the gutters. As if it wants to be found. Instinctively, you reach for it-

And then you notice it. The final detail.

As if your mind was blocking it out, and absorbing everything else around you, until you couldn't put it off any longer.

Your hand doesn't move. Neither does your arm.

You try, and nothing happens. It hangs at your side, limp, dead.

You can't move your right arm.

[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
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>>3707807
>losing an arm over an eye
GOOD JOB YOU FUCKS I TOLD YOU

>Check to see if Kazuya is still alive
>Check our phone
>Start trying to move our arm slowly
>>
>>3707811
Also grab the Nihil Eye and see how spent it it.
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>>3707807
Our arm doesn't fucking matter right now.

Check on Kazuya. Is he injured? Do we have a phone? Is there a phone booth?
>>
>>3707807

Work our way up from wiggling our toes to more complex stuff until we gain enough articulation to go see Kazuya.

Also try to communicate
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>>3707811
>I TOLD YOU
You what?
>>
>>3707807
OP, can we still wear the Carnifex? Do we have Harmonia?
>>
>>3707807
We ought to check how Kazuya is doing pronto. See if we can't call an ambulance or something.
>>
>>3707816
That there'd be a cost ANYWAY
>>
>>3707811
>>3707813
>>3707814
>>3707815
>>3707817

You try-

Dark spots dance in your field of vision, across your brain.

All right. All right.

You breathe. Breathe. You try again.

You have to turn, to reach for the Nihl Sphere. It's cold, that light undimmed – the violet anti-radiance flaring through the cage of your fingers.

Getting to your feet is Everest.

You can't move your right arm. You feel – nothing. Not even pain, not even numbness. Just...An absence. As if it's no longer part of you. And that, perhaps, is the worst thing.

There's a faint chime, a scrape of sliding segments – the cut stones of HARMONIA rattling around your left wrist. They glow, with a light of their own – a sullen radiance that does nothing to the darkness except to make it dirty.

Kazuya.

You try to say something-

A rasp, a croak. You bite your lip, until a bead of blood wells up in your mouth – Coppery, metal, but better than the dryness that rakes your throat.

Better.

You look around-

Later. Later for that.

The Carnifex. Maybe it can-

You reach for it. Then you remember, and you reach across yourself with your left hand. Brass – or is that red gold? - glints in the poor light, as you bring the half-mask of grasping skeletal fingers to your face.

It locks in place. It catches, and you feel the pinprick of micro-filaments as something scrapes against the skin, fastening itself. There is a pins-and-needles sensation, fierce and deeply uncomfortable, a sense of something returning.

The world blurs at the edges, as you stumble forward. Your legs feel like cloth beneath you, on the verge of buckling. You reach up to steady yourself against the wall-

With your right hand.

You did it without thinking, the way you've done countless times before. Your fingers flex, and you stare-

With the Carnifex, you can move your right hand. Your entire arm. But without it-

(Continued)
>>
>>3707807

>Use your left arm to take the Nihl Sphere and pocket it
Then
>See to Kazuya, see if he's alive.
If anything, if We took Kazuya's hand during the Transition, Kazuya theoretically would also have a dead right arm.
>>
>>3707836
I hope you have some upgrade path that leads to Carnifex Synthesis, JQOP.
>>
>>3707851
It already exists. I wonder if we can fix this. The White Joker can recreate things. Getting his power could allieviate this issue.
>>
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>>3707836

Better, now.

You should feel stronger. You should feel quicksilver strength surging through your limbs.

But all you feel is exhaustion. Worn, wan, as if you're made of paper.

It takes four strides to cross to his side. A single motion, to sink to your knees.

Kazuya.

He doesn't stir.

You reach out. Grasp him by the shoulder. Turn him over.

For a moment, you're not sure what you're expecting to see. For a moment, you expect that eyeless, nightmare visage, smeared with gore. And you can see where ichor and other unnameable fluids have soaked into – through – his clothes, in old, ochre stains.

But-

His eyelids flutter. His limbs twitch, like a dog in a nightmare. His chest rises and falls, as he shudders – A bone-deep shudder, a spasm, curled up on his side...

“Hhhhhhhhhhkkkkk-”

The first breath rasps from his lungs, his fingers curling into claws. His back arches so violently, as Kazuya let out a strangled, choking cry as he reels awake. It is an awful sound, the sound of a man who has been drowning, who never thinks to breathe air again. The sound of a man waking from an immobilizing nightmare, as he shudders himself back to consciousness.

For a long, long moment, he lies there. His eyes open, motionless.

“I-”

“-I was dreaming,” Kazuya rasps out. Low, almost on the edge of hearing.

“I dreamt – I remember...”

He begins to shake, violently. His arms curl around himself, as if to banish the cold, to ward off the shock that racks him. He retches, as if hoping to empty out everything that remains in his stomach, but all that comes out is stringy bile.

“Jesus,” he whispers. “Jesus.”

In the poor light, his face is achingly pale – as he turns bleary eyes towards you.

Then-

“A-anon?”

It's a papery whisper, disbelieving.

“You're – We're...”

Only now remembering, his eyes roll down. Cords bunch in his neck, as he tries to sit up.

His eyes are wide, now, and they seem to hold the light. His voice is still a whisper, but its hush is no longer lifeless.

“-alive.”

“You – you held on – to save me...”

At the very edge of perception – there is a buzz. A drone. A pulse, coursing up through you.

For a moment, you wonder if something has come back with you. Something, clinging on like a tick. But the vibrating pulse lingers, and your hand drops down to your pocket to find-

Your phone. The screen is cracked, but the dull, dusty blue light is still there. Half a charge.

The number-

Mio.

[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3707870
(Gentlemen, I have to stop here for the night. However, I'll post at the first opportunity, when I get a chance. Good night, and God bless - I hope to see you all soon.

In addition, congratulations on your escape.)
>>
>>3707870
"I held on. It cost us both, but it was better than losing you.

>Mio
Oh god oh fuck. Answer it I guess?
>>
>>3707870
My boy is alive! Thank god. Only thing I'm worried about is how our arm is in the red. I kinda feel like being a dick and not picking up. Might even be for the best. She might be in Naoya's grasp and picking up would tip em off. It's probably best if we lay low and head off to the hollow sun, or either lay low and rest for a bit.
>>
>>3707877
Is there no way to repair our arm? What are the mechanical functions of this OP? No usage of our arm without the Carnifex?

>>3707870
"Always. I'm pretty sure Natchan would kill me if I came back alone. Now, I need you to call her. Call Asuna. Call anyone. We have to see who's still here. Now, I have to take a call."

Answer the phone. "Mio?"
>>
>>3707877
Thanks. How well did we do on the way out?
>>
>>3707897
We're answering Mio ffs, this is too important to head in the sand.

Seriously, if we've lost the use of our right arm in the Red, this is catastrophic. No Golgotha, no Caesar, no Beam Magnum, no dual wield Chagan, no Providence and Lucid EXCEPT in carnifex. Not only that, we STILL may end up losing an eye anyway if we have to bring back Hecate or hunt down Pazuzu.
>>
>>3707870
>"I couldn't let go, I refused to let go. Letting go would mean losing you."
>"It did cost me the use of my entire right arm...
>Flex your right arm, make sure all the joints are working properly.
>"the reason I can move it at all is because of the Carnifex mask I'm wearing...but for what it's worth, it's a good price to pay for getting you out alive and whole."

>Answer the phone and put it on speaker phone.
>"Anon speaking, fresh from Hell."
>>
>>3707870
Kneel and set a hand on his shoulder.
"For what it's worth, I'm kinda glad that you were with me. I never had the opportunity to level on this entire shitshow with you before.
Also, you can now be the golden boyfriend to Natsumi's chrome armor.
There is one thing that I can assure you off, and it's that you won't ever need to see that place again."
Then stand up again.
"Anyway, I got a phone call. I'm pretty sure that's not Mio who's calling."
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>>3707854
Checked the level up list. We can upgrade the Carnifex but not Synthesize it
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>>3707870
>"Don't sweat it. Would be dead ten times over without you anyway."
Check for any wounds just to be sure.

Only answer the call once we know Kazuya won't just die on us.
>>
>>3707919
Gotta upgrade it at least once. I cannot overemphasise how much of a disaster this is.
>>
>>3707931
We use the Carnifex in any fight that matters and regularly fight with missing limbs anyway. It's a bad situation, but hardly crippling.
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>>3707811
It's just the Real nigga. Who cares?
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>>3707934
We literally can't use any of the weapons I mentioned in our default state, the cestus, the crisis arm and anything two handed without busting out the carnifex, which we can be knocked out of and tske increased damage in. This isn't a small debuff.

If we'd tried to fight Vovoid like this now, we'd be fucked. Seeing as WJ and Black Joker are likely more dangerous than Voivoid, this is a disaster.

>>3707951
It's going to carry over, just like sacrificing an arm to the Nihil Sphere would have.
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>>3707966
You seem to be under the impression that replacing our eye would only have cost us said eye. It also would have slowly driven us insane and made us forget everyone. Every option had downsides, we don't even know if this is permanent. Chill the fuck out.
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>>3707966
We literally don't even know what happened to our arm in the Red. Maybe it's gone, maybe it just needs a few repairs, who the fuck knows? I don't, and unless you're JQOP I don't think you know either.
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>>3708012
It clearly wouldn't because Pazuzu didn't forget everyone. Fuck, the eye doesn't work like the Play; we don't have a boat and the Diadem is dead. No one has ever said the Sphere effects your sanity; in fact pretty much everyone we've met and shown it too has expressed lust and seen it as a positive. I said all of this yesterday and nobody listened.
>>
>>3708024
>the artefact that exists in two places and would have taken out our eye had fucked up our arm
>it won't effect us in the Red
You're kidding
>>
>>3708027
Pazuzu is pretty blatantly fucking insane.
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>>3708030
He is more sane than most of his subordinates
>>
>>3708029
Did I say it wouldn't affect us? No, I didn't. Calm your tits and stop prematurely drawing conclusions from your own, hysterical interpretation of half the facts.
>>
>>3708034
>following a basic trend of logic where the consequence of the Nihil Sphere is inflicted on us in both worlds is 'hysterical'
K

>>3708030
Pazuzu isn't insane at all. He's selfish. He always has been; he wanted the Diadem for himself and that's it. Hell, he didn't even use Lachryma on himself because he was afraid of it. Pazzy has always been rational just like Naoya has. They just have goals that they'd go to any lengths to achieve.
>>
>>3707870
oh god damnit. the loss of an arm is actually -worse- than losing part of our vision. AND we dont get whatever changes or upgrades might have attended the implantation. Deagal is alive, but weathered by the transition. We -might- have greater control over the Nihl Sphere with the helix gauntlet now, or we might not.

Weve lost half of our total damage output per turn, the use of Golgotha, and the ability to attack and use a shield at the same time. We are also heavily limited in our ability to use heavy weapons, and might have lost the use of the Frost Cestus.

Compare that to losing our primary optic, which has happened before, and which we have numerous ways to get around. The passage would also have been safer for both us, and Deagal.

This is not what i meant when I said we should sacrifice something for Kazuya. Half measures never work.

on the plus side, woo kazuya survived!

>answer the phone.
>just listen for now.

maybe its her, maybe its naoya, maybe its her in league with naoya, maybe she got free. God in Heaven I hope she got free.
>>
>>3708636
>AND we dont get whatever changes or upgrades might have attended the implantation.
Or we might have avoided a horrible death as both Anon and Kazuya were drawn straight into the heart of the Black adn drowned in unending Lachryma.

Seriously where are you guys getting this bullshit? For all we know we'd have been entirely blind if we'd implanted the Sphere.
>>
>>3708687
>Seriously where are you guys getting this bullshit? For all we know we'd have been entirely blind if we'd implanted the Sphere.
Because JQOP bloody fucking told us. Work on your reading comprehension.
>>
>>3708721
Let's look at what JQOP actually said.

>>3704382
>(To be absolutely clear, I confirm that replacing an optic with the Nihl Eye will negatively affect your accuracy and combat ability. It does not provide a substitute to conventional vision.)
>will negatively affect your accuracy and combat ability.
>It does not provide a substitute to conventional vision.
Knowing what we now know, that the limb we chose to use the Nihl Sphere with was damaged, it is entirely possible we'd have been entirely blind. And unless we visit the Red we can't fucking tell what the changes to us actually are, like I've been trying to drill into your heads.

>>3707509
>To clarify, I confirm that implantation is safer.
>safer
What, in this context, does safe mean? It's not clear. It could mean having a higher bonus to rolling how well the escape goes, but it could just as well mean higher chance for Anon to survive even if it means Kazuya dies.
>>
>>3708780
>Knowing what we now know, that the limb we chose to use the Nihl Sphere with was damaged, it is entirely possible we'd have been entirely blind.
He also said that we are only replacing our primary optic and our secondary ones would still work. We would likely go blind in one eye and get severe accuracy penalties and so on, but we would not just completely switch to bat mode.
>>
>>3707870
"Always, Kazuya."
>Answer the phone

He's alive. Fuck all that other noise about whether our arm Is fucked up, we did It. We can recover an arm with the right means, but Kazuya? You can't get him back.

He's alive, he should be dead but he's alive. We saved him. We actually saved someone. We're not alone anymore now. For the rest of this, we have Kazuya by our side, he didn't die, flayed to nothing by the void. He Isn't lost, losing himself down In the underworld becoming a shell like Anon, or Voivoid.

We brought him back. This might be the most triumphant, albeit bittersweet victory of the quest.
>>
>>3708780
The Nihil sphere works in both worlds. We'd lose *one* eye and our main optic but gain new abilities in turn. Now, we've gained nothing (besides Daegal obvi) and lost the use of our arm.

Anon leaving was never the issue; we were always going to survive. Implanting the eye means safer for Daegal and a smoother transition.

>>3708903
I'm not sure if we can get our arm functioning without the Carnifex again. It's irritating because we had anons saying to remove the eye for a number of reasons
>Help us find Hecate
>Provide new abilities
>Maximised safety for Daegal
>Greater protection against Pazuzu's bullshit

Like okay sure, we saved him, but we could have done that by implanting the eye, something we may have to do anyway for the multiple reasons stated AND he would have been safer. Even if we had bad to severe targeting penalties, we have Argus and Auspex to compensate along with the actual sensors upgrade itself; right now, I'm not sure if we *can* compensate for a ruined arm besides using the Carnifex.
>>
>>3709107
yeah pretty much this in its entirety.

Most of our entire "build" relies on having two functioning arms. from the plasma vilcans on up.

And yeah rereading through the passage, this did permanent damage to our actual essence or soul. We have every reason to expect that the damage in the real is a reflection of damage in the Red.

I mean -maybe- we can have new artficial nerve pathways built or use the assault shroud to wrap around the limb and puppet it. the Carnifex reactivates the limb, so its not impossible, just very limiting.

We might potentially get it fixed at Sterling Industries. They have medical filaments based on Argent's design. And Daegal is essentially the endgame upgrade to all of Argent Prominence's abilities.

Plus I suspect the old man left something behind for us in his final hours, he did always talk about wanting to upgrade us. Its worth a shot.

Plus we might be able to link the Manifold Network to the Hollow Sun to create something to rival or surpass the Diadem.
>>
>>3709312
Argent is dead and I'm not sure there *is* a Sterling Industries anymore. The good news is that the damage is likely just nerves given the fact that the right arm is fully functional, we just lack sensation/control over it. That makes it a hell of a lot more repairable. Not only that, the White Joker's power could potentially allow us to repair ourselves... Likely at some other cost however.
>>
>>3709312
Wait, if we can't use our right arm, does that mean we have to use the Carnifex ALL THE TIME?
>>
>>3709360
just because argent is dead doesnt mean he doesnt have a legacy.

we dont know what happened to our robot form during the transition. But from the sound of it the damage was extremely permanent.

Im not saying there wont be any way around it, but it wont be easy.
>>
I had a shower thought. If our arm in doesn't function in the red without the carnifex either, what about repurposing meridian blade tech into a functioning arm? It already uses donor player components, maybe through The Hollow Sun, and help from what's left of Argent Prominence's group we could make do. And yes, I know it's too early to say what's possible or not, but I'd rather speculate than bemoan the loss of an arm.
>>
>>3710805
Would that even work? We can't use it without an arm, anyway.

White Joker seems to have a kind of cannibalization power. If you read between the lines, he got to EXACTLY the same place as us and made the ruthless choice. Instead of taking his best friend with him, he took all his shit and left him behind. That might be the most personally evil thing he did so far.
>>
>>3710839
To be fair, unlike RJ he didn't have the choice. We could only do what we did because we had the Nihl Sphere. If he did that, he'd get himself killed along with anyone he'd tried to take with him.

Also, I seriously doubt any of them were really "friends" in the conventional sense.
>>
>>3710841
They all were in love with the same woman. They also clearly fought together, Hierophent did all the art commemorating their adventures. The question is whether they all died, or if a few were still roaming around at the end.

If they started out with 13, they must have lost some people on the way out.
>>
>>3710851
Pretty sure Hierophant and WJ were the only ones left. When we faced WJ, he said: "There were thirteen of us down in the dark. Now there is only two."
>>
>>3710891
I misquoted. What he said was "THERE WERE THIRTEEN OF US, DOWN IN THE DARK.

A THOUSAND YEARS LATER, THERE WERE TWO."
>>
>>3710839
No, White Joker has a creation power but his frame isn't built for combat. To honour his allies however, he harvested some of their best bits and then remade himself with them. Remember how Kraken was remade using Corrector parts? White Joker did the same but using his fellow disciples which is why Kraken was used as a test dummy.
>>
>>3710900
I'm seriously curious what his Eidolon will be like.
>>
>>3710900
It seems our power is more direct, while he needs to get creative with his. Remember, Mikogami (a former priest) fought off RJ, but he lost the final battle. His plan was 'I'm going to die, but someone will continue my work', which RJ didn't plan for.
>>
>>3710900
Naoya's shtick has always been surgery. Remeber the seisen high simulation bodies? he had an entire fucking program set up.

Its no surprise he did the same with his allies.

He is, again, in many ways the opposite of Anon. Naoya is a man who heals people but destroys countless lives in order to achieve his goals. Anon is, and has always been, a destroyer who is trying to save as much as he can despite the onus of the red jokers armor.

>>3710908
Mikogami built the Final City, or found it. Whatever he was doing his daughter Kotone had a way with the black joker. And the Black Joker can use lachryma to make ANYTHING.

Imagine living forever in a place where your wildest dreams can be made real with little more than a thought.

Then the Marshal flooded the place with pure lachryma and killed pretty much fucking everyone.

PAZUZU wants to get back and live forever as god-king of paradise.

Naoya wants to bring Kotone back either because he loves her, or because she has a way with the Black Joker. Maybe both.
>>
>>3710908
Well there's a reason Mikogami STILL lost despite having the crux, both Nihil spheres and lachryma but, that being said, we didn't see him with any of those when he fought the RJ after making his city in the Black. His frame isn't made for battle but... Well, he can make things right? Create to a level no other Player can? When we fought Naoya before, he didn't seem to use any meter abilities or anything beyond relics. I think he was using relics he'd specially created for killing Players; a sword that rends essence, some mind reading device, his shadow cloak. Not only that, he used a codeburst or two and also had sword legs; what if he got those two pieces from his cannibalised fellow disciples?

I think the White Joker can mitigate his combat issues by Relics he himself makes. Mikogami decided to spec into codebursts and sneaky bullshit to avoid damaging his vulnerable frame but Naoya thought it might be a better idea to recreate the armor, like the Marshall did with the RJ armor, but did so using lachryma and his fellow combat ready Players to create a WJ that can fight like an RJ. Hence, why he looks more like us than how Mikogami's WJ looked. He's changed the core frame to be as combat ready as a normal Player while keeping all the WJ advantages.
>>
>>3710952
I think it might also be WJ being significantly higher leveled than us. Remember, he was stuck in the black for a thousand years compared to our hundred. Could be he had to heavily invest in combat related skills to get on the level we were during our battle, because his armor might be more creation inclined than anything else.
>>
>>3710966
I believe the a thousand years line is either him lying or referring to his time spent in the city and then afterwards when they were cast out and looking for the WJ. This is mostly because he makes a very large deal about how similar we are, even beyond both being Jokers. Naoya doesn't seem like someone who's regard or interest is easily won, looking at how he treated the Smilers, Pazzy and Kraken.

I doubt the White Joker has the innate capacity to be overly combat focused; even its hands are artisinal and delicate.
>>
(My apologies for the delay. I'm working on the next post now.)
>>
>>3707891
>>3707903
>>3707904
>>3707929
>>3708903

> "Always, Kazuya."
> "I held on. It cost us both, but it was better than losing you.”

“Cost...?”

Kazuya's voice is sluggish, dazed – His fingers unclenching, slowly, as he tries to make sense of what you're telling him.

Your phone continues to buzz, the urgent drone echoing from the walls. In this enclosed space, the peal of the ringtone is achingly loud, loud enough to make your ears ring.

“Your arm...?” He stares. Blank, his expression changing as slow comprehension dawns. “Is that why – Why you're wearing the...?”

He tries to point, but the effort draws a hacking cough from deep in his chest. Kazuya doubles over, as his body twitches and shudders and spasms itself back to life.

“...nahhhhhh...shit-” he manages, as he – awkwardly – rolls onto his side. “Jesus, it hurts-”

“Never thought I'd be happy to hurt this bad...”

Well. That makes two of you.

Your phone, as it is made to do, rings on.

>>3707906

> "For what it's worth, I'm kinda glad that you were with me. I never had the opportunity to level on this entire shitshow with you before. Also, you can now be the golden boyfriend to Natsumi's chrome armor.”

Somehow, somehow – Kazuya smiles. It's awful, pulling the skin tight around his grin...But he smiles, anyway.

“Yeah,” he says. “Yeah.”

Even in the poor light, you can see the answer on his filth-streaked face. You're not sure he's getting all this – He's still groggy, and trying to make sense of what you're saying isn't helping. His gaze drifts, uncomprehending, to your half-mask; His brow furrows, as if he's about to ask Why are you wearing that? when you've already answered him-

Then-

“Natsumi...” he says, softly – A twinge of pain passing across his face. Then urgently - “Anon, if she's alive...!” For a moment, he nearly lurches to his feet – a muscle-ripping effort – but it's too much for him, and all he manages to do is to raise his head before he flops back down.

> "Don't sweat it. Would be dead ten times over without you anyway."

He looks like he's been through hell, but you're pretty sure he'll live. Both of you will.

“All right.” Kazuya's head twitches in a nod, and he wipes a smear of snot from his nose with the back of one shaky forearm. “All right. Help me up-”

It's effortless, with the Carnifex – But a twinge reminds you how hard it's going to be, later, as you drag him into a slouch and settle him against the cracked brick of the wall.

>>3707898

> "Always. I'm pretty sure Natchan would kill me if I came back alone. Now, I need you to call her. Call Asuna. Call anyone. We have to see who's still here. Now, I have to take a call."

With an effort, he brings his trembling hands up. Patting himself down, fingers crawling over stained and tattered clothes. He looks like you feel, every effort palsied and half-cohered.

(Continued)
>>
Are you guys sure we've even lost our arm in the red? Barring any specific anti healing debuffs, all damage is healed upon re-entry to the red. We've also seen that a physical injury in the real doesn't effect performance in the red because Iniox Fang wasn't a paraplegic robot. What happened seems to be a non-lethal empathic injury like the one Bardiel suffered after our first fight.
>>
>>3711059
It's a calculated estimate given how the Nihil Sphere exists in both worlds and how it burning up our arm was likely feedback from the attempt. It's possible it's still functional there but I'd say odds are 70/30 for it to be broken.

That said, we will adapt if it is. We always do. I've come up with a few ideas to mitigate if it is the case.
>>
>>3711059
It's noted to be a permanent change to our Essence, so I seriously doubt it's not fucked in the Red.
>>
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>>3711054

> Answer the phone and put it on speaker phone.
>"Anon speaking, fresh from Hell."

On the other end of the line-

You can hear the mournful howl of the wind. Somewhere distant, then. Somewhere high-up.

“Hello, Joker.” The voice is measured, calm. Like a hand on your shoulder, a murmur of bereavement – Warm, without being solicitous.

Naoya.

“Welcome home.”

Kazuya's eyes go wide. He stares.

“Shiiiiiiiiiiiii-” the word hisses out of Kazuya, never quite managing to reach the t.

“And Montaigne, too. That will of yours – Indomitable. I applaud you, Joker.”

Too late, Kazuya claps a hand over his mouth. You see horror flicker in his eyes, just as you can hear the smile in Naoya's.

“Be proud of your choice. Love – compassion – is the heart of the human condition. It ennobles us, I think. Without it...Well.”

“Without it, I don't think the world could be endured.”

Naoya's voice echoes from the walls, coming at you from all directions.

“Pazuzu doubted, you know. He believed that you were lost. That you had passed from the world, never to return. And I told him: Have faith.”

He chuckles. Not laughter, just a small sound.

“So – Here you are, now. Twelve days later, and five minutes before midnight.”

Kazuya's hand slips down to his side, limply. Where's Mio? he mouths, afraid to say more, afraid of letting something else slip.

“She's quite lost to you, you know,” Naoya carries on. As if he has all the time in the world, as Kazuya jerks back – A guilty flinch.

“But she's with family, now. Safe. We will all be, when this is over. All of us. My promise to you, Joker.”

"After all...I could never hurt her. Something only one of us could say - Isn't that right, Anon?"

He's enjoying this. Savoring the moment.

[ ] "And?"
[ ] "Is there a point to this?"
[ ] "Get to the point."
[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3711073
>[ ] "And?"
>"Osseous Heirophant. He was still there. Still waiting, until I came."
>>
>>3711073
>Free
I met your buddy hierophant, seems like you treat your friends nearly as badly as you treat your enemies. Least I had the courage to finish him rather then leave him a broken toy. That's the difference between us naoya I don't deal in Half measures
>>
>>3711082
>That's the difference between us naoya I don't deal in Half measures
The whole Mio thing was us acting in half measures, though.
>>
>>3711073
"Get to the point."
"Whatever you've done to Mio, it won't work. She's not just another Osseuss you can throw away and discard Naoya."
>>
>>3711073
>What happened while I was gone?
>Say, you wouldn't happen to know where Pazuzu is, now would you?
>>
>>3711090
Considering how we tried to tell her everything multiple times, it really wasn't.
>>
>>3711095
We did tell her multiple times. And then walked right back on the decision to cut ties if she couldn't accept the truth. We neither committed to her nor dropped her.

Admittedly, that was mostly because of Wata's cancerous waifufagging, but still. Saying we didn't bullshit a lot and throw around borderline schizophrenic mixed signals when Mio was involved is a lie.

I'm on the side that wants her gone, desu
>>
>>3711073
>[ ] Free
I'm going to kill you and take your arm. It's going to do more good than you ever did.
>>
>>3711100
Well, we actually DID end up revealing it all, she just ran away before we could then explain and we didn't get a chance to meet her again.

To be frank, I liked Mio more before Wata waifued her and she became a moeblob who was horribly boring. I didn't really care for her plotline either and the fact we're saddled with it despite I think... 90% of the current fanbase is totally apathetic to her is arguably the biggest weakness of the quest along with how frustratingly opaque it can be at times.

I like Hecate and I think Mio is fine but having to deal with this incessantly... Ugh. And apparently all of our guys are dead now.

Also, by the way, for the love of god, never ever let on we're going to absorb Naoya and take the White Joker's power for ourselves. The guy is a fanatic and he'd probably kill himself to make it harder to kill the Black Joker.
>>
>>3711101
DON'T SAY THIS FOR FUCK SAKE WE ARE NOT TIPPING HIM OFF TO THE INSTRUMENT
>>
>>3711081
>>3711082

> "Osseous Hierophant. He was still there. Still waiting, until I came."

Silence.

> “At least I had the courage to finish him, rather than leaving him a broken toy.”
> “That's the difference between us, Naoya.”
> “I don't deal in half-measures.”

It lingers, and – for long, long moments – there is only the howl of the wind.

“Haruto,” he says – And you know you've wounded him. You can hear it in his voice. “-*he* believed, until the end.”

You hear Naoya exhale, softly – A low sound, full of pain. “You made the choice I couldn't, Joker. Be proud of that.”

>[X] I'm going to kill you and take your arm. It's going to do more good than you ever did.

“That dedication to violence...I admire you for that, Joker. Sincerely, I do. It's never been easy, not for me. But you – You make it...An act of will, I suppose.”

That smile again, in his voice. “Our fathers chose well, didn't they? It's almost as if-”

> "Get to the point."

“If you insist. After all – We hardly have all night.”

> “Whatever you've done to Mio, it won't work.”
> “She's not just another Osseus you can throw away and discard, Naoya."

Softly, now:

“Would you like to see for yourself?”

Kazuya has been staring, stricken. He goes perfectly still, now. Frozen.

“Oh, yes. She's here with me – So think of that, before you call for the Leukocyte. I'd put her on the line...But I don't believe she wishes to speak with you.”

“But we should talk, Joker. After all...'Yet already, it seems I have travelled far'.”

Quoting. But from what?

(Continued)
>>
>>3711128
"I think Mio can answer for herself. Just like Kotone did when she said this was a disaster waiting to happen. Just like the city.

You can't use lachryma as a band aid for Naoya. You have to let go."
>>
>>3711128
>So think of that, before you call for the Leukocyte.
"You're really tempting me here. Would save me so much time."
>>
>>3711101
Let's just hope his core isn't in his arm Anon.
>>
>>3711128
>>3711122

Too late.
>>3711101
You're an idiot for tipping Naoya off. You could've kept your damn mouth shut, but now Naoya knows about it and can make proper countermeasures.
>>
>>3711128

supporting this:>>3711141
>>
>>3711128
>Oh, yes. She's here with me – So think of that, before you call for the Leukocyte
Oh fuck me Naoya is a genius. Why don't we just kill Mio that way?
>>
>>3711142
>>3711151
And have Kazuya betray us for causing collateral? This ain't a solo playthrough anymore. We have Kazuya as a party member. We can't be a sociopathic murderhobo like we used to.
>>
>>3711128

> What happened while I was gone?

“The beginning of the show. There are celebrations to be had, Joker. A panoply of delights.”

“Given what's coming next...I'm actually feeling a little giddy. I could show you – But you'll see.”

> You wouldn't happen to know where Pazuzu is, now would you?

“Oh, you'll be hearing from him. And soon, I think.”

“Very soon.”

> "You're really tempting me here. Would save me so much time."

“You could.”

“Given everything so far? I think you know what's *not* going to happen. But maybe you need to see it, anyway.”

“I assure you, I won't get upset.”

> "I think Mio can answer for herself. Just like Kotone did when she said this was a disaster waiting to happen. Just like the city.”
> “You can't use lachryma as a band aid for Naoya. You have to let go."

“Oh, we're long past that point. 'So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past'...”

His voice turns brisk, businesslike.

(Continued)
>>
>>3711151
>>3711155
Don't fucking tempt me dude, I am so sick of having to deal with the fallout of a decision i had to miss 6 years ago because I had class at the time. I am sooo sick of having to deal with Wata's mess.

If I actually thought that could kill them both, I'd be tempted but we *can't* anyway. We need the White Joker's core.
>>
>>3711160
Noyion to Daegal to fucking text Natsumi already; we need to know who's not fucking dead.
>>
>>3711165
Also Naoya likes The Great Gatsby. That second quote is the final line from it. All the more reason to hate this fuck.
>>
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>>3711160

“The Halcyon Tower, at midnight. We'll be waiting for you, at the top.”

The Halcyon Tower...

You remember. One of the city's perpetual landmarks, something that was right on the verge of completion-

Six years ago.

And then the impossible happened, and it became just another derelict – Just another living ruin, looming above the skyline like a skeleton on a gibbet.

The world had changed – moved on – and in the years that followed, there would be no place for a monument to achievement.

“One last thing, Joker: There'll be an offer, soon."

"I advise you to take it seriously.”

The line cuts out.

Silence blooms, in its wake.

“Midnight,” Kazuya mutters, under his breath. “-that's less than five minutes away-”

>>3711165

He looks up. He has his phone on his lap, the screen filled with jumbled text.

“Anon – What do we do?”

[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3711175
> Free
>Kaz it's time to call everyone still alive, head to the hollow sun and end this.
>>
>>3711179
(Note that you have around five minutes to get there. There's not enough time to make a round trip to the Hollow Sun and back - You could summon an Assault Roader or a Raptor to travel to the Tower, and just barely make it in time.)
>>
>>3711175
"What time is it now? We've got a lot to do.
Find out who's left alive; I need Asuna and Natsumi to know what's happening.
I'm going back to the Red, now. You can come if you want, I won't force you. Either way, I have to get to the Holow Sun asap. It's been a number of days so it must be full of Essence plus its the only way I can reach people.

I was hoping we'd have time to build an army but we don't so we just have to rally what's left, use the Sun and hit the tower. The offer might be about my arm. Can't be sure.

I'm entering the Red now. If you don't want to come, at least let Natsumi and Aoba's supervisor at Sterling Industries know where the Smilers went.

Hopefully, I'll see you soon Kaz. Either in this world or the Red."

Enter the Red. Time dilation will give us a better chance to get to the Tower and to plan an attack.
>>
>>3711181
We can have Kaz go to the Sun witb the Comet while we hit the Tower with the Assault Roader right?
>>
>>3711185
(Absolutely, but you might want to wait for the next post before deciding on a course of action.)
>>
>>3711187
Right well
"Kaz, we have to marshall anyone that's left. Call Natchan or Asuna if you can. I'm going to go save Mio, kill Naoya and put Kotone to rest once and for all. You though... Look, you don't have to come with me if you don't want to. You saved me a hundred times over in the Black and you've already nearly died at least twice. I don't need you to do anything besides make some calls, okay Kaz?"
>>
>>3711179
>>3711184

> “Kaz, it's time to call everyone still alive. It's time head to the Hollow Sun and end this.”
> “We've got a lot to do.”
> “Find out who's left alive; I need Asuna and Natsumi to know what's happening.”
> “I'm going back to the Red, now. You can come if you want, I won't force-”

A violet thunderbolt blasts through your brain, mid-sentence. For one moment – for one nerveless second – it feels like a bomb has gone off.

“-gaaahhh-”

And you realize: Whatever's happening, Kazuya can feel it too.

But the shattering agony – the roar – goes on and on, and the world goes Red.

STAGE: DIS

The bricks turn to black iron, and the ground turns to pitted steel, and all sensation fades to the absence that comes with Player armor.

Slowly, moving with aching care, Daegal stands. No longer infirm, but still staggering – still dazed from the shock of the transition, as he unfurls from his crouch.

In the distance, the great foundries of Dis belch smoke and cinders into the roiling sky – A sky, you notice, has not changed from one world to the next. There is a sense that something is different, something has changed-

Time. Time is beginning to move, at last.

Your right arm is raised, and for a moment, you feel a flare of hope – But the Carnifex's skeletal fingers grasp your helm, and you know: As above, so below.

Fucking hell-

A ragged curse.

“Joker – What's...?”

Kazuya reaches for you, but you can't answer him. You have to press your hand to the side of your helmet – the Nihl Sphere's light blazing – to keep your head from exploding.

Because the roar is gathering itself into a voice. The Voice.

You know it, because it's calling your name.

YOU HAVE RETURNED, JOKER.

Pazuzu.

AT FIRST, I DOUBTED – BUT NOW, I BELIEVE.

Daegal stares at you, first with shock – then with understanding – then with gathering dismay.

YOU KNOW WHAT YOU HOLD.

Yes.

YOU KNOW WHAT I WISH.

Yes.

I HAVE AN OFFER FOR YOU, JOKER. TERMS YOU MUST HEAR.

YOU HAVE UNTIL MIDNIGHT.

I AWAIT YOU AT THE BEGINNING OF ALL THINGS.

And silence, mercifully, falls.

“That-” Daegal begins, slowly. Searching for the words, grasping for some sense he can make of it. “That was Pazuzu-

Those glowing optics turn to you.

“What – What did he mean – 'At the beginning of all things'...?”

[ ] “Hecate, Kazuya. He means Hecate.”
[ ] “He's at the hospital, Daegal. And he wants me to meet him.”
[ ] “...So this is what Naoya meant.”
[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3711237
(And I must stop for now, but I'll continue as soon as I have the opportunity.)
>>
>>3711237
For fuck's sake. I figure we can't go to both. It's either or, right?
>>
>>3711280
Can Kazuya go to meet WJ, while we meet Pazuzu?
>>
I just want to say, I hate every single one of you who voted to not replace our eye with the Nihl Sphere. All our cool upgrades and relics from going through the black basically mean nothing now, because you stupid fuckers tried to be clever, tried to get something for nothing. We are either gimped by not having our dominant are from now on or we take a permanent HP reduction to constantly use the Carnifex, if we even can use it constantly; before it would disengage after a few combat turns. I hope to God JQOP let's us just keep it active from now on since that is the only way we aren't completely screwed.
>>
>>3711237
>[ ] “...So this is what Naoya meant.”
>[ ] “Hecate, Kazuya. He means Hecate.”
>>
>>3711237
>[ ] “...So this is what Naoya meant.”
>"Pazuzu wants me to meet him at midnight, Naoya wants me to meet him at midnight. They're forcing me to choose between Hecate...or Mio."
>>
>>3711294
Stop whining you gigantic bitch.
>>
>>3711175
oh god damnit, hes been fucking waiting for this. Its obviously a trap, but we kind of have to go.

who the fuck can we call?

>>3711185
The Hollow sun is captured or under seige. Fuck you Bishamon. Fuck you directly to Hell.

>dial Natsumi on speaker

"Kazuya and anon here, we are alive, heading to Halcyon tower in the Red, in dire need of support. ... probably medical as well. Please be alright, we've lost too many."

to Kaz: "you dont have to come with, but I'd appreciate help with the damage assessment."

>shift to the Red to see how bad it is.


its going to be aweful having to fight Mio.
>>
>>3711237
>hes at the hospital, and he wants me to meet him

oh fuck me, its a choose between Hecate and Mio with a side of Faustian deal.
>>
>>3711237
I mean this is a no brainer decision lads. We *cannot* go to the Hospital because, if we do, Naoya gets to complete his plan and bring back the Black Joker. That is an absolutely *unallowable* issue because if it gets into the Red, it can cross into the Real and then it'll kill the entire city and fuck, maybe even the planet. Not only that, if it manages to get into the Red, there's nothing stopping it from crossing over to the Real immediately and becoming... Well, at least 3 cities worth of dead people + Kotone + all the lachryma in existence embodied in a human.

>'Hecate, Kazuya. He means Hecate. He's at the hospital where her body is in the Real and he wants to use our Nihil Spheres to do... Something."
>"I can't go. I can't. If I do, the Black Joker will have time to be resurrected and then we're all dead. God damn it. Just, fuck it all to hell."
>"The plan doesn't change Kazuya. I need you to make some calls. If you want to join me in the Red, take the Red Comet to the Hollow Sun and take what's yours by right. I'll take the Assault Roader to the Tower."

OP, do we have anything on the Dirac? Does Daegal? Shouldn't we have Diract Transmitter II now, to create a full network? It's been 12 days real time and that was on the agenda.

>>3711294
We can keep it active but honestly, we probably shouldn't. The Carnifex is an item to use in extremetis and lowers not just our health but our armor protection. We can't let it become a crutch; we'll have to unequip it and learn how to deal with just one fucking arm now. Maybe we can use lachryma to create new nerves for it.

Losing the cestus, crisis arm and helix gauntlet is a huge loss though.

>>3711315
If there was ever a time for it, it's now.
>>
lol
>>
>>3711344
Does he need us for that?

I don't think he's going to do the summoning there. If he could, he'd have done it LONG ago. I think he actually wants to talk.
>>
>>3711237
Op I really think we need to know what the situation is with our arm. Is this permanent or can we fix it? I mean we just got the cestus and the upgraded golgotha.
>>
>>3711344
Nah, fuck that. No way in hell am I voting for meeting with WJ and the current Chalice Queen on his terms. I

I'd rather we went to take down Pazuzu while Daegal takes his rightful place as the ruler of the Hollow Sun. The thing is made to be an Anti-Black Joker weapon and may suffice even if we don't create the Instrument.
>>
>>3711377
What I don't get is why this is framed as choice; there's literally no way we can choose to go to the Tower second, everyone will die.
>>
>>3711294
Would you retards stop acting like replacing our eye was a perfect solution with no downsides other than a mild penalty to accuracy.
>>
>>3711237
Honest question, what the fuck are Pazuzu's and Naoya's plans actually?

Why would Naoya actually fucking summon the Black Joker?
I would assume that he just uses a fragment of the Black Joker and infuses Mio with it in order to revive Kotone. That's very different from manifesting the Black Joker and fucking everything permanently.

But for Pazuzu, I'm kinda at a loss. He had the Diadem and that promised land shit.
Does he want to trade the NIHL eye for Hecate?
Or will he respect that we now own the eye and just require us to use its power for his gain?


Also, the enemy is not just Naoya and Mio in whatever form.
Naoya knows the Leukocyte. You know who else knows the name of the killsat?
Bishamon.

You wanna fight a lachryma augmented Raiden clone on top of the Chalice Queen/Black Joker fusion and the White Joker?


We need to go with Pazuzu, revive Hecate and rally our forces. Mio is a write-off, but this is the only way to not just die.
>>
>>3711443
on top of this we should also nuke the tower as well.
>>
>>3711386
Anon, the Hollow SUn isn't made to deal with the Black Joker, it's an entirely novel organism which doesn't exist in the system. Not only that, you're ignoring the possibility that the moment it appears in the Red, it goes straight to the Real and kills everyone anyway. Meeting with Pazuzu is irrelevant if we all fucking die when the Black Joker comes out.

Not only that, the only person who's said that Mio has been broken by Naoya is Naoya. Naoya who lies all the time. Naoya who lied about how Kotone felt. Naoya who would say anything to hurt us. Why would we *ever* believe what he says?

Again, this is all academic though. Naoya can destroy the entire city instantly if the Black Joker is formed considering how many lives are feeding it and how it's even stronger than when the Marshall faced it.

Now, if OP says 'the Black Joker won't be able to manifest immediately', I might be inclined to go pick up a Nihil Eye but right now? We have no guarantees it won't just appear and end the game.

>>3711412
Anon, we'd have taken penalties but we'd have gotten benefits as well. Not only that, we had sensors and auspex to compensate for that, things we'd have gotten back from appearing in the Real. I can't see how putting in the Nihil Sphere would somehow be worse than the loss of
>The Crisis Arm
>The Beam Magnum
>Dual Chagan
>The Cestus
>Golgotha
>The Caesar
>The Helix Gauntlet

We'd have paid for it for sure but we'd have gotten benefits in return. I think people can criticise the fact that OP gave us a median option that ended up way worse than the Nihil Eye probably would have been.

It's just like this choice right now which, presented as is, is going to mean we're leaving a bunch of loose ends behind. Now OP's never fucked up besides with how he treated Kraken before in my opinion but as things are presented right now, we're in a fucking awful position and we're going to lose out on killing one of the 2 antagonists we hate so much.

>>3711443
Naoya is going to put Kotone's soul into Mio's body because he thinks that the amount of essence she's juiced with will be enough to keep Kotone/the Black Joker from not becoming unstable but he's entirely wrong/insane because the revenants/lachryma that makes up the Black Joker has no depth. He'll try to let a little through or fish Kotone out of it but it'll backfire horribly because the Black Cardinal made the Black Joker out of lachryma and she's just a piece of it. It'll just flow through Mio and end up corrupting and ruining everything.

>do i wanna fight bishamon
Yeah, I'm not too worried about Bish because Daegal should be able to take him by himself and, again, the moment the Black Joker comes back, all of this is academic anyway and we'll just fucking die en masse. We don't *have* an option here, because Naoya's plan is doomed to fail and the moment it does about 50 million Players worth of essence slams into the Chalice Queen and the heart of the Black itself is born through her armor.
>>
>>3711412
As far as I can tell replacing the eye is inevitable.
>>
>>3711472
>Yeah, I'm not too worried about Bish because Daegal should be able to take him by himself
Dude, this is Bishamon with Naoya's backing.
Think Rust Kaiser, but swordy. You know, surgery and lachryma and all that jazz. And probably some implanted anti-Joker gimmick.

Even if he starts this shit, it won't happen instantly. We need Pazuzu's deal, we need whatever we can get from the Hollow Sun, we need Natsumi, we need the remnants of Sperling Industries and we need Hecate. Admittedly, that last one won't be very useful.

We physically cannot go to the fight like this. We NEED to scrounge together resources and bodies to throw at the problem.
>>
>>3711520
Imago made Rust Kaiser, there's no reason to think Naoya did. Bishamon couldn't take us when we were going easy on him, he won't be able to do it now. He's just not that threatening and even if he was, we have to go for the White Joker to kill him before the Black Joker manifests.

>even if he starts
Who says he hasn't already? We've been out for 12 days, he literally just told us that he's about to finish his plan and bring it out.
<<"So – Here you are, now. Twelve days later, and five minutes before midnight.”

The Church of the Last Hour is called such because they placed a sacred focus on the 12 hours of the clock. That's why the Cardinal had 12 disciples. He's telling us he's about to summon her NOW. If we need the time to stop it, we have to go now.

>we need to
I know what we need ideally, that's why I want Daegal to go to the Hollow Sun and then come back and get us once he's juiced us and why I want us to talk over the Dirac but the fact remains that the White Joker is doing his plan at midnight from what he's told us and the stakes are too high with that plan to leave it to chance. We'll just have to go. As for the Leukocyte, we already fired/launched it at the Diadem and at Alura so he may have found it for either of those reasons.

If we leave things to chance, we'll pay for it *again*.
>>
>>3711550
>As for the Leukocyte, we already fired/launched it at the Diadem and at Alura so he may have found it for either of those reasons.
Have we ever before found out the name of a relic that is not ours without being told?
Player names are visible for everyone, relic names are not.
>>
>>3711573
Yeah but they could have just sent something up to check or had the Diadem check it out *after* it bombed the shit out of them. Again, they've had 12 days to set the deck.
>>
The situation right now insinuates that WJ is pretty much going to summon Black Joker in 5 minutes. It isn't explicitly stated, but the chance is so high I'm loathe to risk it, unless JQOP states that Black Joker won't be summoned right then and there.

I'd also like to remind people of something important.

The time for waifu's is over.

We have to approach this situation with a mindset that there are no more love interests even if they are technically alive.
Don't even entertain the thought. Any plan that doesn't prioritize stopping WJ is a non-option.

Don't pick the option to go to Pazuzu because you want Hecate back. If he asks you to give him the eye in exchange for her live you end him right then and there.

If we go to Halcyon Tower, don't go there thinking you can talk-no-jutsu Mio into forgiving us and switch sides. We do however owe her one chance to disassociate with Naoya and his plan. She refuses? She dies. Simple as that.

I wouldn't put it past Naoya to have turned her into the trigger that summons Black Joker. And even if that is the case, it doesn't matter, because we ought to whack her regardless.
>>
Just for the sake of vote counting, I'm spelling out my vote:

I'm in favor of going to Pazuzu. Maybe send Kazuya to the Hollow Sun while we go there, but I'm ambivalent.
>>
>>3711588
I still don't believe that Naoya's control over her is that great because if it was, he'd have let her talk to us, mock us and try to piss us off. Just like when he said he said Kotone agreed with him but also refused to let her speak.

Otherwise, I agree with everything you said.
>>
>>3711621
Same. The idea that we'll just get an instant game over if we don't meet Naoya is bullshit. It's a choice for a reason and I'd rather take my chances with Pazuzu and then deal with Naoya when we have the both Nihl Spheres and the Hollow Sun army at our backs.
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>>3711653
>is bullshit
JQOP has made it explictly clear time and again what will happen if the Black Joker is released, the beliefs of the Church of the Last Hour and that he will let us suffer the consequences of his choices. Even the risk of it is too much to throw like, 7 years of time away.

I could totally see us being delayed by Pazuzu to the point where the ritual is half complete and it's started to emerge or else it emerges fully formed.
>>
>>3711128
We've been back one fucking thread and already anon says stupid bullshit-

>>3711101
That OP gleefully pounces on to everyone's chagrin, knowing It'll bite us In the ass.

Just like old times.

>>3711237
>We need to get to the tower. If anything, Pazuzu will come to US.
>>
>>3711344
No, fuck that. PAZUZU dies, HECATE lives, AND we save Mio.

>>3711472
They can’t just transition from the red to the real, especially if we get someone to activate the Manifold Network to prevent it.

I.E. send Kazuya to Sterling Industries to activate the manifold network and seal off the Red.

Or integrate it with the Hollow Sun to massively extend its operational time and resources.

And yes, the Hollow Sun is an anti Black Joker weapon. It always has been.

Also, Bushamon can cut through orichalcum with ease. He isn’t an easy fight for Kazuya.

>>3711550
Yes, he is going to sacrifice Mio to bring forth Kotone. Yes that’s bad. But we can use the crux +twin eyes of Nihl to kill him, graft his arm and kill her/it.
>>
>>3711588
Nagoya kindly told us where the summoning takes place, if Kazuya heads to the Manifold network he can, with Natsumi’s help massively strengthen the shroud there delaying the ritual. The Manifold network is already set up to do something like that, now imagine focusing all of that power to stop Naoya.

We can do both. We just need to make Kazuya and the remnants of SI work together to save the world while we kill all the villains.

Or do you want PAZUZU to slip away?
>>
I don't understand why we are divided on this. The white joker is our goal we need him for the instrument. Pazuzu will chase us cause he needs the second nihil eye. White joker is counting on pazuzu being a distraction.
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>>3711980
It's like it never fucking ends. Every fucking time.

>>3712011
>they can't transition from the red to the real
Why? Why can't they? The Black Joker is a Player. A super powerful fucking Player but it's still a Player. Of course it can transition to the Real.

>The Hollow Sun is an anti Black Joker weapon
No, it's a manufactorium and a really big fucking gun but there is nothing saying 'this is made to kill the Black Joker'. It's not specialised for it, it's just the only weapon we've seen bar the Leukocyte that's big enough to put a dent in the Black Joker.

>Bishamon can cut through orichalcum with ease
No, he can't. He'd need neutronium weaponry to do it with *ease* and that shit is hard to get and incredibly unwieldly. If he does use it, Kazuya will crush him with speed using his shield and sword combo. Where the fuck are you getting this?

>Yes that's bad
Anon, that's assuming that by the time we get from Pazzy back to Naoya he hasn't already done it, brought the Black Joker back and killed everyone or that we'd be in the condition to do so anyway.

>>3712023
The manifold towers are designed to rip down the Shroud, not empower it. It takes fuckery from Sterling Industries to make them able to rebuild it and again, you're assuming any of them are still alive and that we'll have the time to do this. We really don't fucking know until we get the Dirac Transmitter response, which we should have now.

>Do you want Pazuzu to slip away?
To fucking where? It's like >>3712246 says, Pazuzu needs our Nihil Eye for his plan and the sole reason he's alive is probably because White Joker wanted him to distract us from his goal to bring the Black Joker back. The Black Joker has ALWAYS been the main antagonist and main focus of this quest since episode 4 and 10. Stop taking your eyes off the prize, Naoya and Black Joker are the main threats and always have been.

Again, as >>3712246 says, Pazuzu needs us there for his plan and Naoya does not. If Pazuzu needs to speak with us that bad, he can reschedule for whatever fucking reason; he didn't even give us a reason that we have to meet him there whereas Naoya literally fucking said 'I'll begin/will finish summoning the Black Joker in 5 minutes so come at me.'

Jesus christ can we not just focus on the actual point of this quest for once and kill the Black Joker?
>>
>>3712337
the Hollow Sun recognized the Black Joker infection inside Rook and went berserk, overriding our authority and trying to kill him. Anti-Black Joker weapon. That was in fact our first clue that lachryma was oart of the Black Joker.

Bishamon cut through deagals hand due to his phase weaponry and passive abilities. OP confirmed it after the minor ensuing shit storm concerning orichalcum.

Argent Prominence SPECIFICALLY made it his life's work to reverse the effect of the manifold towers in order to seal the Red away. That was literally his entire end game. to turn the Red into an exclusive password locked place. Even if his work is only 10% finished, and he was inches away from completing it when we spoke to him, it would STILL contain enourmous power.

And his work was far enough along that SI had mini false Manifolds. He was probably 80-90% done.

AND Kazuya can link to and upgrade the system like he did for the Gate.

Natsumi is one of the highest ranking people left on their side, and Kazuya is a former employee so he knows his way around. The plan is easy to execute. Hell he can even travel there in the Red and get there faster if time is an issue.

fucks sake, even Kazuya's pre-Deagal ability was forcing people out of the Red and into the Real. He is literally perfect for this job.

in addition the shroud doesnt just apply between Real and Red. It also seperates Red and Black. Naoya simply wont be able to complete his ritual while the network operates, meaning he will have to lay seige to Sterling.

Meanwhile, we confront PAZUZU, murder the fuck out of him and use both eyes of Nihl to EXEC_REAP him and learn a)what Naoya's actually up to, b) how to save HECATE, and c) every fucking codeburst he knows. oh yeah, and we get the completed Crux.

Then we can go fight Naoya and his cronies as a nigh unstoppable God-robot.

Bishamon will likely fuck everything up somewhere along the way, but when hasnt he?
>>
Voting to confront Naoya, can't waste anymore time with Pazuzu and honestly at this point our endgame should be making sure there's at least something still standing for everyone else after this absolute clusterfuck, it's been shown time and again that Anon can't have his cake and eat it to.
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>>3712390
It recognising a containment doesn't mean it's an anti-Black Joker weapon, it just means it recognises a containment.

Our Midas Hand didn't heal like's Daegal's do and didn't have his automatic transmutation or imperishable effect. It got broken multiple times due to internal structure i.e. it's always been less hardy than actual Daegal.

He managed to modify only one Elysium Tower completely and again, you're assuming 1. it still exists 2. that anyone can operate it 3. that it will somehow hold back the strongest Player in existence. The other towers he modified were just his guys doing hacking minigames and crawling over them with Pretra. Lets not forget that Naoya's had 12 days to damage the shroud.

>Natsumi
We don't even know if she's alive or can help us. She probably is but I wouldn't count on anyone else for much right now.

>he won't be able to complete it
He's had 12 days and again, the two strongest Players ever; Mio who's been passively stealing Essence from everyone around her since she was born and the Black Joker.

>we confront Pazuzu
Why? He needs us for whatever he's going to do. Force him to come to us. Not only that, literally nothing you've said makes it sound like the 15 people who were left of Sterling Industries before the attacks on the Manifold towers (5 of which they had to destroy/were destroyed which would make restoring the Shroud even harder) would be able to work Elysium or that White Joker hasn't used these 12 days to kill basically fucking everyone.

>Bishamon
This is assuming Bish is with him and that he doesn't just get his blades broken by Daegal, who's now carrying a modified Ascalon and Adamant and who has been restored to his full power.

If he can survive Voivoid, he can easily survive fucking Bishamon.
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>>3712337
I cannot stress enough, Naoya has planned ALL of this. PAZUZU has seen his own plan fall to shit, and now is fully on board with Naoyas.

BOTH of the options we were presented are traps. Naoya knows -exactly- how bad the passage through the shroud was. Just like he knows we slept with Cybele and love Hecate. like he knew Kazuya was here even though Kazuya only mouthed the words instead of saying them.

He knows things because he is connected to the lachryma.

If we run headlong towards him we will be fighting all the remaining smilers, possibly double power up Mio Chalice Queen, her three horribly powerful cryptids, and Naoya himself.

If i thought there were a chance we could win Mio back to our side to even the fight I might agree with you. But do you expect us to be able to handle that write in?

No, we need to throw a wrench in Naoya's plans. we need to put HIM on the back foot for once.
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>>3712413
There were thousands of Manifold Towers and Argent Prominence was actively sending agents out to link them to his network.

The one we saw was a central interface point thay had been spatially moved to inside SI headquarters.

the Black Joker also isnt a player, and doesnt have free reign of the Red. he can briefly project as a player into dreams, thats it.

the real BJ is a monster stuck in the deepest parts of the Black in the Pit.

But sure, if you have a plan that will let us fight Corrupt Chalice queen Mio, The White Joker, three super strong cryptids, all the remaining Smilers, and possibly Kotone/The Black Joker itself while down an arm I am all fucking ears.

because so far your plan is "run towards the biggest threat"
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>>3712430
The Black Joker is a Player made from Lachryma. The Marshall explained that to us in 158; the reason it'll kill everyone if it enters the Real is because it's a Player.

There was basically none of Sterling Industries left *before* the 12 days if you reread the forces assessment. We don't have the time and manpower to get the Manifold towers up before we hit White Joker.

Not only that, we have two tasks right now. One is time sensitive. Why are we leaving that to last? It's madness.

This will depend on the Dirac Transmitter as I said earlier but honestly the longer we wait, the more time Naoya has to do his shit and that will backfire badly on us.

>what's the plan
Hit the White Joker before he has the time to completely consolidate his control over Mio and hijack her and her correctors so he can summon the Black Joker. We hit him before he can finish his plan, not after or during. I thought that was obvious.
>>
Is it a bad time to point out that our next level up choice has effectively been made for us? The only option is Carnifex assimilation, right? To hopefully negate the penalties for using it, because there's no fucking way we can get by without using it. Too much of our shit relies on us having two hands. Anything else would be dumb given that Joker is now a cripple without the damn thing.

In a way, it's kind of poetic. Now, Red Joker can only be whole when he bears the mark of the executioner.
>>
Also, have we considered just finding out where Naoya is and then pulling the trigger on the Hollow sun at him? A few thousand anti-lachryma robots seems like it'd throw a big fucking wrench in his plans and give us some time to breath without worrying about him scheming.
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>>3712484
We need to assimilate the Carnifex or get the Beam Magnum's smaller version. One or both.

God this arm thing is the worst. We haven't been in a situation this shit since when we found Kazuya dying.
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>>3712487
This could actually work if Daegal goes to the Sun.
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>>3711280
(Yes.)

>>3711284
(Yes. That's a viable option.)

>>3711377
(It's permanent. Without the Carnifex activated, your right arm doesn't function.)
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>>3711621
This, but I think we should send Kazuma to meet Naoya / Mio. We don't have time to go to both places alone, so we have to send our understudy.
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>>3712545
How far away is the Hollow Sun? Can Daegal get there in 5 minutes and fire it?
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>>3712575
(Yes, but remember that the Hollow Sun is a single-shot weapon. If he fires it, he'll also release the Dominion and the Hellion army.)
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>>3712584
How long will the Sun last with Daegal controlling it? Will the Leukocyte be destroyed if we fire the Sun?

Anything on the Dirac?
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>>3712575
I vote against this because it's jumping the gun. How do you know he won't just teleport away? Naoya fucking said "Go ahead, drop a Hammer of Dawn on me, I don't mind."

We split up. Forget all the resource-hoarding and item autism for now.
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>>3712596
(The length of a single battle i.e. A few hours. You'll still be able to use the Leukocyte afterward.)

(I'll address the Dirac in the next post.)
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>>3712603
(To clarify, I'm not currently available, but I'll continue after returning from work.)
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>>3712603
Are you posting now or do you need a response from us?
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>>3712545
>(It's permanent. Without the Carnifex activated, your right arm doesn't function.)
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>>3712636
Lachryma could potentially fix that.
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>>3712608
hey OP, can Deagal interface with the manifold network?

although I suspect that might be outside the scope of our knowledge.

>>3712476
if Mio is with him voluntarily, then he controls her.

in fact I can guarantee it. when we black holed the Diadem out of existance we also destroyed the last remnants of Helebore. Woth her out of the way there was nothing left to stop Naoya from controlling Mio like he had always planned. giving him 12 more days just cements it.

i mean, shes strong so we might use the power of love to break her free, but again do you really think we can make that write in?

narratively, even if we left 4 hours ago with all our allies we would be too late to stop him. though thats a bit meta.

because, again, we arent up to fighting ALL of them right now. Lets use Kaz to delay them with the manifokds while we take out PAZUZU, level up, and gain a twin Nihl set.

the network only has to last like 30 minutes tops.
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>>3712717
Lachryma is Black Joker Essence. Are you sure you want that anon?
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>>3712746
You think Mio is voluntarily letting Naoya kill her to bring back Kotone? Of fucking course not. I mean, once again, we're takimg the words of a liar as if it's fact.

>Hellebore's attempt to control her was destroyed
Was that explictly mentioned? I don't remember that.
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>>3712776
I mean we're already implanted with it, so we have to use it.
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>>3712778
hellebore was contained on the Diadem. Hellebore trying to possess Mio was the only thing preventing Naoya from controlling her. We black holed the diadem with the singularity feeding off its energies to expand far beyond what it should. The Diadem was destroyed. Thus Helebore was also destroyed. Thus her attempts to possess Mio ended. Thus Mio was left alone in the dark and deathless place having been betrayed by Anon and tortured into compliance by Naoya.

By this point she likely would go along with the replacement just to stop the pain. Its entirely in character for her.

The real question here is do we save Mio or save Hecate. I know you dont want it to be about waifus, but that is an inescapable part of this.

Im saying we try to save everyone, defeat all the villians, and give Anon's fuckups and sacrifices some real meaning.

Send Kazuya to do the job that only he can do. Send him to use the Manifolds to delay Naoya. We only need like 30 minutes. Argent Prominence might have been a pacifistic fool, but his lifes work can save millions.

Even if they only have one mobile Manifold unit, that might be enough to strengthen the shroud enough to prevent whatever Naoya wants to do.
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>>3712778
plus, Naoya doesnt lie all that often. He flat out told us he wanted Mio.
>>
I wonder, would having Kaz head to the Hollow Sun in the Red Comet and shoot it at Naoya could delay him long enough for us to deal with Paz?
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>>3712907
Are they even working together any more? What did he mean by 'take the offer seriously'?
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>>3712894
I agree with the Manifold plan. The one thing we are critically short on is TIME and by the nature of how the Argent modified Manifold network operates, it is highly likely to buy us some time by sealing the Real from the Red and Black. Then we have the opportunity to not rush into Pazuzu or Naoya headfirst like idiots and actually gather up the resources/allies we’ve spent all this time gathering for this exact damn situation.

There’s a reason why Naoya told his entire damn plan. He could have just stayed silent and let everything play out with us none the wiser. Telling us about Pazuzu means we’re pressured to either go waste time on him, or we attack into Naoya while he has all the advantages. Either action works for his plans.
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>>3712932
He’s banking on Anon wasting his five minutes trying to save Hecate rather than trying to stop him.
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>>3713013
Stop him from doing what, exactly?

If he didn't want us to find him, he could simply have not called. We would have no fast way of finding him. More, if he was trying to kill us, he could just have ambushed us with overwhelming force. Actually calling us up and going "Hey, let's talk" seems actively counter-intuitive to either extreme.
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>>3713039
He literally doesn’t lose anything using Pazuzu as sacrificial bait. He knows how close we were to Hecate.

By telling us, he puts additional pressure us to try to accomplish EVERYTHING in five measly minutes. Resources and time devoted to saving Hecate are resources and time not spent on him. If he stayed silent, there’s always the chance we’d stumble on his main plan and throw everything at it. Giving us an unwinnable choice puts all the control of the situation in his hands.
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>>3712894
Hellebore wasn't on the Diadem though, she moved from it to Mio and was actively trying to possess her; there was nothing of her left on the Diadem because she was putting everything she had into hijacking Mio. Blowing up the Diadem wouldn't have effected her at all.

>>3712982
This Manifold plan isn't great. It requires too much time to get working because the towers themselves all need to be activated, it presumes that we have enough manpower to activate them, it presumes that there are enough left to activate and it doesn't put boots on the ground against White Joker.

If we're going for Pazuzu first, we have to send Daegal to the Hollow Sun to activate it before firing it and then leading his angelic host to the Tower. Then, maybe, if it's possible we can try the manifold plan but if we want to hit Pazzy, we gotta give Naoya something big to chew on. We'll even keep the Leukocyte which we can then fire on the Black Joker.

>>3713039
This anon is correct >>3713061 WJ left Paz alive so that we'd have to make this choice and split our forces. Not only that but he probably needs us to take the Black Joker's Heart out of us to make his ritual perfect and he knows we're going to be coming for him no matter what. By telling us where he is and using Pazuzu to force a decision, he splits our forces to weaken us so he can spend more time finishing the ritual to summon the Black Joker. We can use the Hollow Sun to disrupt this.

I've said it before and I've said it again; our next choice entirely depends on the Dirac call and who picks up.
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>>3713110
What if he's just...you know...NOT there? We'll have wasted the angels for nothing.
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>>3713110
I do agree that the manifold plan has a few unknowns, but its based on logical extensions of what we know to be true.

Hell given the fact that Argent's deepest desire was to become Deagal its even more likely that his systems will respond to Kazuya.

The plan would be better if Aoba had survived, but it does put boots on ground against Naoya. Argent had hundreds of players, and the only reason they were spread thin was his insistance on trying to fight ALL the correctors and later protecting them by closing ranks.

But with Aoba and the old man dead they can get off their butts and enter the fray for real. No more hand wringing, no more ethical compunctions. time to save the world.
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>>3713128
That seems like a stretch but we'll just target the White Joker, not the tower itself.

>>3713148
Most of those players were killed during the Diadem raid though. I mean, Armaos specifically says almost everyone is dead and counterweight squandron was the only meaningful crowd left. It's something to consider but by no means should it be the core of a plan; just a modifier to one.
>>
Naoya called us to achieve his goal.
He wants to blind us by waving both Mio and Hecate in front of our face. He's possibly gloating, but more likely is that the awareness of both choices is meant to lead us to either of them.

That's why I'm in favor of the Hecate thing - we can be pretty sure that Pazuzu doesn't lie much, while Naoya is set up to fuck us up.

In addition, sending out Kazuya to Sterling Industries is a good idea. Trying to get him inside, with Natsumi's help, would make the manifold idea plausible.
Activating the towers, fighting Pazuzu (or maybe even just diplomancing him) and then going to the Hollow Sun should be viable in time.
Firing a tachyon ray at WJ is tempting, but there might be multiple bad outcomes - a defense that redirects attacks, him simply not being there and telling us to go there to buy time, etc.

Also, when we go to confront the White Joker, there's another issue: The mind reading ability.
It makes it really hard to have an ally with us. Any kind of coordination will result in Naoya knowing what the plan is.

In addition, the Hollow Sun will have produced new relics in our absence.
Actually, I just remembered the Appolyon Buster.
Could replacing our arm entirely with a relic reduce the damage?
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>>3713318
>Also, when we go to confront the White Joker, there's another issue: The mind reading ability.
And that's the exact ability that screwed us in the ass because we anons couldn't keep our damn mouth shut.
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>>3713318
You know, I don't think Pazuzu EVER lies.
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>>3713330
I'm sure we won't keep our mouth shut next time, either.
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>>3713318
I imaginw the damage to our arm is permanent. along the lines of "can no longer accept essence".

But the carnifex manages to make it work, so maybe there are other ways.

its a bit meta, but part of the reason I want to face PAZUZU is because hes worth a a level up at least, and I dont think we can win against Naoya and Co. as we are. Naoya by himself? yeah we could win. Naoya and any other help? unlikely.
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>>3713318
Pazuzu lies all the fucking time
>>
Am I mistaken if I think that Mio is necessary to the plan because she's got a fuck ton of Essence to trigger BJ? If so, we might need to bust out Leukocyte's Tachyon Disintegrator or the Beam Magnum's Full Bore, to counter that. Keep in mind that Naoya knows of the Leukocyte and potentially of it's capabilities, so he will have likely prepared for it. This might also mean that the Hollow sun is compromised. So if we send Kazuya there, see if we can give him the the chronometron and maybe also the Lucid Blade. I know that this isn't foolproof, and that Naoya has planned even for us doing this.
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>>3713461
Pazuzu is a pretty shit fighter. What's he got left? Another Phantom Edge? Enfer's ghost protecting his bitch ass? He has NEVER won a fight against us. Ever.

I vote to confront him, because look at us! We're death incarnate! We know Naoya isn't with him, he can't overwhelm us by himself.
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>>3713318
>sending Daegal to Sterling instead of the Hollow Sun
Oh for fuck sake we don't even know if there's a fucking Sterling left, will you idiots stop acting like turning on all of the Manifold towers instantly will do anything.

>Apolloyn Buster
Why would this help at all, logically speaking? The issue is nerve damage, not 'reinforcement'.


>>3713318
>>3713640
The Leukocyte is something he's obviously planned for and even if we did lose it, we'd lose the WJ core as well and the ability to use the Instrument.
>the hollow sun might be compromised
Fucking how.

why is it that anons always come up with these inane insane ideas that never fucking work
>>
>>3713647
I'm not saying to fire the leukocyte or the Beam Magnum's Full Bore on Naoya, buylt on Mio instead in the worst case scenario. I'm also noy saying the Hollow Sun IS compromised, but we should keep in mind that it MIGHT be a possibillity.
>>
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Oh fuck, I just remembered we still have Caliban in the Hollow Sun! That might give us a better fighting chance.
>>
Let's bring this convo back down to earth. As far as I can see, we have nothing that the white joker is not expecting. The only thing he can't expect is the sheer amount of might we can fling at him with the hollow sun. It's always being our panic button for Ragnarok. Sure feels like Ragnarok to me anons. This is the benefit of bringing daegal back , we can spilt our focus. And you better believe that if we ignore pazuzu he's gonna try and shank us from behind while we have are arms elbow deep in wjs chest.

Not to mention if we get pazuzus shit that makes us more resistant to any black joker fuckery that wj might deploy for our second engagement
>>
>>3711237
Hey, I'd just like to ask and note a few things.

We dropped out of the Black and Into the real, even If only for a matter of minutes. Doesn't that mean we lose real Important shit like FATALISM and the revolvers we spawned?

FOREBODE Is permanent now, no need to worry about that, but let's put some Booster to use before any of the big confrontations.

>FATALISM - ON
>PHOTONIC HALO - CREATE
>AXANAEL - SPAWN
>CESTUS - 3 SILVER CARTRIDGES

I don't think we have enough for more than that until a couple of rounds pass, but that doesn't use up everything and we could easily slide In one last cartridge or bandolier during any bit of talking before things come to blows, or perhaps In the period of arriving before the talking starts.
>>
>>3713772
Let's not spawn axanel, nocturne I'd the better option
>>
>>3713772
Fatalism is paid for each crit individually.
>>
>>3713796
I was under the Impression you had to pay for activation first, and then pay for each round you negate a crit In. As long as It's up, that's what matters.

>>3713773
I won't argue that. Noctourne's a good gun. I chose Axanael because I wanted a 'NO' button. We saw what It did to Heirophant In one shot, that kind of absolute stopping power might be needed here shortly. Noctourne Is a more well rounded gun, and It's transmutation beam might be harder for Pazuzu to defend against than a physical projectile so I'm fine with either.
>>
>>3713833
Axanel is a bad pick right now considering we'd need two hands to load it properly. I suggest we prioritise
Mistral
Calibre
Nocturne
>>
>>3713837
Bandolier SHELL gets rid of that problem, It'll reload Axanael for us. We should consider adding It to that list once we've got our free reloads up and running.

Those are all fine picks for right now though, I've been meaning to see Mistral and Calibre In action.
>>
>>3713871
Yes but we still have the issue that axanel shoots once a turn and requires the Caesar to reach its full potential.

Also, we should shift back to range combat now. A combination of the tesseract with forbode and the carnifex's speed should mitigate our fragility of being able to be knocked out of Carnifex. At least until we can get more of the autoarmor.
>>
>>3713647
>Why would this help at all, logically speaking? The issue is nerve damage, not 'reinforcement'.
It's a self-contained relic.
Relics tend to power themselves. It might very well be capable of following our directives indirectly. Not as a natural extension of our body, but much better than an inert limb.

Same goes for Hellion arms, actually. Those might be compatible with the interceptor system if we get the Hellion control upgrade.
>>
>>3713928
But our right arm already has relics mounted on it and it can't control them. The relics power themselves but that doesn't mean they'll function and work.
>>
>>3713772

(Yes, I'm afraid. You've been reset to your basic 15% Meter, and limited to Tier 1 / 1.5 weaponry. Fortunately, everything else is fully restored, as well as your one-shot Relics.)
>>3711284
>>3711312
>>3711313
>>3711386

> [X] “...So this is what Naoya meant.”
> [X] "Pazuzu wants me to meet him at midnight, Naoya wants me to meet him at midnight. They're forcing me to choose between Hecate...or Mio."

“Holy shit-”

The words are affectless, all emotion flensed from his voice by the monotone of Daegal's speakers. But you know how he feels.

His gleaming helm turns towards you, staring-

“Anon...Joker – W, what...”

“-What are you going to do?”

>>3711653
>>3711621
>>3712246
>>3712596
>>3712907
>>3713772
>>3713733

If you confronted Pazuzu-

If you reached the Halcyon Tower in time-

If you sent Daegal to the Hollow Sun-

On your field of vision, the Dirac channel lights up – Chrome Cypher, greyed-out, inactive. Asleep, perhaps.

The collection of petty warlords and leaders you assembled into a loose coalition? Inactive, all of them. One flaw in the network is that you can't tell if they're dead, if they've removed their insignia, or are simply elsewhere. You wonder, fleetingly, how many of them made it out.

Bishamon's signal was lost a long time ago. Armaros, too. Rook, Haze and Thief-

Well. You know what happened to them.

From that grand list of names, three are active: Volt Regios. Tyrian Edge.

And – White Licorice? Somehow, somehow, she must have survived, too.

>>3713772

You look down at your right arm. The Helix Gauntlet is restored, seemingly pristine – the Cestus's loading chambers racking, as Silver Cartridges slam into place. The cylinder cycles, as the Vitae Booster's glow dims to a low ember – Fed by the Crux, the throb slowing as the crimson light within roils sluggishly, like viscous blood...

-And the glow wells up again, as it fills itself from within.

What would happen if you removed the Carnifex? Would your arm still function?

And you think: No.

Whatever was done to you is permanent. You might find some workaround, some way to restore functionality – But this will be forever.

So be it, then.

(Continued)
>>
>>3713952

Time.

You're running out of it. Your options narrow, moment by moment. If you-

“-I'll do it.”

Daegal's voice is ragged, even as it crackles from his speakers – But he stands tall, his Mirage Shroud stirred by the breeze. With the damage to his armor restored, at last, he gleams.

“I'll go after Naoya. You – do what you have to do, Anon.”

There's an urgency in his voice, now.

“Look – I...I don't know what Pazuzu wants. But you have to meet him. You *have* to.” Mechanisms clunk within him, the equivalent of a dry-swallow.

“Joker – If you don't, he'll kill her. You know he will. And...shit, I mean – I don't think you could live with yourself, after that. That matters, I think – It's got to.”

The flickering, fitful light plays over the intricate runes and circumspects of his armor. One of them, on his left vambrace, depicts two hands clasping – In brotherhood, or in farewell. Both, perhaps.

“I – Hell, I don't know what Nao...What the White Joker wants, either. But we can't leave things like this. Someone has to be there, no matter what.”

You can tell that he's terrified. He knows, better than anyone else, what you can do.

But he means it.

“Joker – We have to go, now, before...”

Daegal's voice lowers. His helmet dips forward.

“-Before it's too late. For anything.”

[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3713977
"Alright. Kazuya, no matter what...thank you."

>Take Daegals advice. He'll go to Naoya, you'll go to Pazuzu
>You'll talk across the channel
>Warn Daegal that the White Joker can read minds
>Wish him good luck
>>
>>3713977
OP, contact Liquorice, Regios and Tyrian right now.
"This is the Red Joker. No time for questions, the entire city is in danger and I'll explain later. Where are you and what's your status? If you can, move the Hollow Sun to intercept Daegal. We're firing it."

"Daegal. Head to the Hollow Sun first. Take the Red Comet. Take whatever you need, buy whatever upgrades you can. Then, fire it at the Tower and lead the Choir there. Try and keep Mio alive. Naoya... Ideally don't kill him if you can help it because I need his core to kill tye Black Joker. It's the the source of lachryma. Of the Correctors. Of the Black. If it enters the Red, it can enter the Real and if it does... It will make the Diadem look like nothing. The disaster from six years ago will be a flicker in the fire compared to it.

Tell Mio and Naoya I'll see then soon." Fist bump with our right arm.

Take the Assault Roader and go right now.
>>
>>3713977
>One of them, on his left vambrace, depicts two hands clasping – In brotherhood, or in farewell. Both, perhaps.

God fuck, that hurt me.

>Shake his hand, perhaps one last time.
>>
>>3714002
This is stupid, he'll never get there in FIVE MINUTES. Just tell him to fucking go there, as quickly as possible.
>>
>>3714002
Deagal JUST said he knows someone has to be there for Naoya, someone has to be there for Pazuzu. This Is our option, trust him to deal with Naoya while we go and kill Pazuzu, save Hecate.

We can't afford anything else, we have to have faith In Daegal and go.
>>
>>3713977
>>3714002
OP, amend this. Give Daegal our booster, Logos, our Meridian Blades, the Chromatron, Erdinog and every other item we don't have equipped right now besides the Midas Shroud and the Tesseract.

Does the entrophic field count as a debuff for Golgotha's ability? If not, equip the Tesseract
>>
>>3714002
>>3713977
Pretty sure Kaz needs the Assault Roader more than us since he needs to make the round trip between the Hollow Sun and the Tower while we can just book it straight to the hospital. Otherwise I agree with letting the Hollow Sun loose. This is exactly the situation it was made for.
>>
>>3714009
>>3714011
OP stated the HS is five minutes away. He has time to get there, launch the Sun and arrive as Naoya starts his plan; the entire flock should be sufficient to slow Naoya's roll.

If it's really that unpopular just ignore that and give him the toys. Maybe the other two can fire the Sun instead.
>>
>>3714019
The Assault Roader should give Kaz enough time to make the round trip, which is why he should be taking it instead of Anon.
>>
>>3714015
The comet should be able to make it. It had the super boost. If it's too slow maybe he can take a Raptor? We need the Roader to reach Pazzy on time.
>>
>>3713977
Damn it we sacrificed our arm for him and now he's probably gonna get killed. Hate that we're being forced into this situation literally right after we got back from the Black.
>>
>>3713977
>>3714015
>>3714021

OP, what's our fastest vehicle? Raptors, the Assault Roader or the Comet?
>>
>>3713977
Can we alert Daegal to the facts about the White Joker?
>Beam Magnum
>Carnifex
>Sword Bits
>Sword Legs
>Ghastly tentacles
>Regen
>Mind reading
>>
>>3714025
(Definitely the Raptor. The Assault Roader is sufficient to reach either location in time, though - It's a hovercycle, after all. The Red Comet's more of a tank.)

(Unfortunately, it's extremely late - I'll get the next post up when I have the opportunity, but I must turn in for now.)
>>
>>3714019
Pretty sure OP said the HS takes 2-3 hours to fire. I think it was mentioned during preparations for the Diadem raid.
>>
>>3714031
Buy Daegal a Raptor. Let him decide if he needs to hit up the Sun or not.
>>
>>3714031
Then Kaz should get the Raptor and we get the Assault Roader. We should keep the Red Comet as reserve in case Pazuzu has backup.
>>
>>3714030
>>3714037
(You already have a Raptor available. Also, you can safely assume you've told Daegal about your duel with the White Joker.)
>>
>>3714041
Let him take the Raptor then, we can take the Roader. OP, will we be able to communicate/get responses from the Dirac before Daegal starts heading off? Because that may change the decision making.

Can the Hollow Sun be moved?
>>
>>3713977
>"Kazuya, a word of advice if you're gonna face Naoya. Act on instinct, don't think. He reads minds. He'll probably know what you're thinking of the moment he sets eyes on you."
>>
>>3714019
>>3711181

Read this post, sorry anon we don't have the time.

He needs to go to Naoya, we need to meet Pazuzu.
>>
>>3713977
>Reach out one hand and shake Kazuya's hand.
>"Thank you Kazuya. Thank you."
>"One last thing: Survive. Just like how we survived the Black, Survive the fight against Naoya."
>>
>>3714064
If we can dirac the others and they're on the Sun, maybe. If not, I think it's worth a 5 minute delay; even if the ritual is halfway done, the sheer number of Hellions should be able to destroy those defenses.
>>
>>3714002
I'm against this.
Don't fire the Sun right now.
Fire it as a last ditch option. For all we know, there's some defense that will just disable this attack and then our sole shot will have been wasted.
We need to know the condition of the combat arena beforehand.

However, send our three allies to the Hollow Sun with Daegal.
Let Daegal show them how to fire it if we do need it. We can call in the shot via Dirac.
Let Daegal take whatever relics he needs and maybe a few Hellions if he can, then take on his intended mission. If White Licorice wants to join him with the tank, she can. He can put her on the Raptor and call in the tank once they have reached Naoya.


We take the roadster because we just need to move to a single location. Use the travel time to load up on gear. Activate as many revolvers as possible, fill the Cestus to its limit, etc.
>>
>>3713977
Oh fuck. I sure hope Daegal understands that when we gp meet Pazuzu we're going to kill his shit and not trade the damn eye. Look, if we can kill Pazuzu, and we can save Hecate, go for it. She'll probably be way more effective with those eyes than we do. But I think trading the eye is a horrible idea.
>>
>>3714082
>defense
I really don't see what defense could stand against the Dominion alone. To be honest though, I'm starting to think that maybe just having Daegal go in the Raptor might be enough and we don't need to send him to the Sun.
>>
>>3714092
>I really don't see what defense could stand against the Dominion alone
How about having a bigass shield that scales to the amount of enemies?
Or how about simply not being there?
Maybe a teleport ability that allows him to continue the ritual five minutes later in another location?

The quest won't end after this fight. We'll still need the Sun if we can help it.
>>
>>3714103
what the fuck would be the point of this choice if naoya can literally teleport away? why choose the tower? why spend 12 days fortifying it? You are right about needing the Sun though. And does Daegal actually need to stop off there? I mean he's already proven himself a dozen times over so I don't actually think so.
>>
Man i wish i could finish the archives but reading JQ leaves me depressed for hours.
>>
>>3713977
Bishamon is going to be at the hospital.

Naoya knows anything he wants, and if he offered Bish a chance to murder the woman we love in exactly the same way we did to him he would take it.

Plus PAZUZU knows he needs a front line fighter to avoid being decimated. Bishamon fits perfectly. If we are truly unlucky he has the fatal abyss. Though i suspect not.

if white licorice is alive as well as tyrian and volt then natsumi is alive as well.

we can dirac as we drive.

If Tyrian is alive hes inside the hollow sun.

>dirac tyrian over the TRISTAR coms to meet Kazuya at halcyon. bring the red comet, any explosive charges he can, and as many relics as possible, but especially the skyshaper. oh, and start the quickest conversion for caliban and deploy it to Halcyon.

Deagal can load up

>give deagal the auric shroud and time dialation device

>dirac white licorice and have her wake up natsumi, she needs to get to sterling and have them bolster the shroud around halcyon, then support Deagal at Halcyon we will be there when we can.

>dirac Volt we need backup at the hospital, PAZUZU and maybe bishamon

hope to god she went through with the terminus upgrade.

thats the best I can think of.

whatever Naoyas doing probably takes time.

Wait, Asuna. we gave her a com didnt we? she would be a perfect counter to Naoyas mind reading bullshit with her future predicting bullshit. try and contact her to support Kazuya.
>>
>>3713977
WAIT!

>give Deagal the auto revive item!!

we didnt take the upgrade so we cant use it! He can by interfacing and upgrading it!

we can literally give Deagal an extra life.
>>
>>3714321
You said Bish would be with white joker first, now you're saying he's with Pazzy. which is it? Not only that, why the fuck would Pazzy want to kill Hecate? He loves her. Not only that, the Fatal Abyss was thrown into a fucking black hole.

We should keep the Midas Shroud. Daegal's shroud already has the perks it has but it has better ones too, like being the Mirage Shroud. Giving him the Logos, Erdinog and Chromatron are musts though.

No, we only met Pythia in the Red once and that was before we had the Dirac.

Why would Liquorice be able to contact Natsumi?

Regios could still end up dying again. I'd rather they play support.
>>
>>3714321
tyrian can grab a positron rifle and a stealth field and be sniper support for deagal.

Deagal needs our auto revive item, the auric shroud, the distortion halo, and the time dialation device. we can hand him two of them Tyrian can bring him the rest.
>>
>>3714355
Stealth means nothing against Naoya, he can sense thoughts. the mirage shroud is worthless.

he does however use a physical red iron greatsword and a physical assault shroud blade thing. the auric shroud will buff deagals defense against physical attacks and energy attacks.

hell I would give him the Sinistral if i didnt think we would need it.

and Licorice because Natsumi is exactly the type of person to try and take care of her, hence she might have her number. If we are stupendously lucky Licorice is crashing on her couch seeing as she literally had nowhere else to go.
>>
>>3714361
It's not an extra life, it wouldn't help him. Reread how the catalyst works. Also, what stealth field? That needs Regios to charge it.
>>
>>3714381
You're basing our strategy on luck. Not only that, Daegal already has an orichalcum shroud that is a mirsge shroud. My point is that the Midas would ve a downgrade.
>>
>>3714387
That’s how the catalyst works, for us. Deagal produces a free upgrade just by holding a relic. To say nothing of his super golden upgrade abilities.

If I’m not mistaken he also has some degree of natural regeneration.

Thus the catalyst is far more useful to him than it is to us at the moment.

Not sure why your set against this, it’s not doing us any good.
>>
>>3714435
The terminal revivifaction upgrade is separate to upgrading the catalyst so no he would not.

We also have natural regen.

I'm against it because we have more ways of regening than Daegal does and we're simultaneously a more fragile model. Even then, the catalyst won't save him/bring him back. Why don't you reread the level up sheet and see what I mean?
>>
>>3714185
Try participating. Instead of looking at a five-car pileup you're its cause.
>>
>>3714669
we arent going to be getting a level up mid fight, and our next upgrade is practically certain to go to integrating the carnifex.

therefore it is actually utterly worthless to us at present.

Deagal on the other hand interacts with relics as if he had spent a level to upgrade them or activate their features, meaning that simply by him equipping the item it recieves a free upgrade. thats his basic level one core power.

And yes Deagal is durable, but not indestructable. Naoyas beam magnum alone could probably wear him down.

we need Deagal to be on the verge of unkillable if hes going to survive this fight.

meanwhile we dont have a level up available to spend on revives even if we kept the damn thing.

Lastly if Deagal spends his super upgrade option it seems to affect everything he has equipped, including the revive. he will be able to tank basically anything.

if we didnt need the crux to face PAZUZU id give him that as well, but he regens on his own so its probably alright.

even if it doesnt heal him fully it will keep him alove until we get there to shove the Crux in his body.

Unless you want Kazuya to die
>>
>>3714669
we could also try giving him the misericorde on the off chance it works on the white joker as well. But that could bite us in the ass hard.
>>
>>3714082
This literally is the last ditch option. We fire it now or it might as well not exist. It’s time to use these bloody trump cards.
>>
>>3714002
With >>3715049 in mind, I support this course of action. Kazuya goes to the Hollow Sun, fires it at the White Joker, and then books it to the Halycon Tower. Give him everything we have that we don't really use before sending him off. If his golden artifice ability works on the Red Comet, that'd be fucking fantastic.

Meanwhile, we go to murder Pazazu for being the asshole who kicked this shitshow off in the first place.

If we can persuade Tyrian or Regios to come with us, then do so. I strongly suspect that Bishamon will be with Pazazu, and having those two with us means we MIGHT be able to talk him down.

I don't know what White Licorices relevance to this plan is. We could ping her a message on the way, I suppose, but unless she's done some serious fucking powerlevelling in the last fortnight then there's not a lot she can do.
>>
>>3715099
we should wait until we are fighting the actual Black Joker.

ideally it wont come to that at all if we disrupt Naoyas little wedding.
>>
>>3716115
That's the point of firing it now. We hope it ruins Naoya's day badly enough that this worst case scenario in which the Hollow Sun is the only option left doesn't happen.
>>
>>3716349
He's literally daring us to do it. I get the feeling he'll survive even if we did.
>>
>>3716412
Yeah, firing the Hollow Sun is just bound to end in disaster.
Naoya KNOWS about the Hollow Sun. Bishamon told him, I fucking tell you.
>>
>>3714321
Why do you keep calling on Asuna for aid

She wants nothing to do with this clusterfuck
>>
So I don't think Naoya can actually summon the BJ right now. Why? Because we have its heart. So all this panic about us only having a limited amount of time and that Kaz needs to split up and delay Naoya so we can get the second Nihl Sphere? High level mind games so we weaken ourselves. Naoya can't do shit without killing us first, no more than we can complete the Instrument with out his core. That's why he hasn't already done the deed during the 12 days we were gone; if he could have he certainly would have because he cares about the goal, not a fucking rematch with us. That's why he had to believe we would be back as opposed to Pazzy who thought us dead; if we had died down in the dark his plan was basically fucked. No heart=no BJ=no Kotone.
>>
>>3716624
He hasn't had the heart the entire time and he's been confident he could kill us/seal us away. His plan doesn't seem to need it.
>>
>>3716624
Does his plan even need the heart? He doesn't seem particularly worried about it. Does he even know we have it?
>>
Will you guys stop buying silver cartridges for no fucking reason? Why the fuck did we buy 3? We should be buying the bandoliers and revolvers instead for fuck sake. Maybe if it was brass for a keep away shatterblast but the fuck do we need a black frost, absolute zero or ygg for?
>>
>>3716674
The revolvers are locked behind Tiers. Silver Cartridges can be bought at any time, and they fuck shit up.
>>
>>3716695
Cerberos and the Judge are both available with the bandlioers and so fucking what about silvers; brass and chrome can cause damage as well. We don't need artillery, a coup de gras or an area bombardment right now. Whoever suggested that is an idiot.
>>
>>3713977
I don't see why this Is such a split vote, really. OP's laying It out that we NEED to go see Naoya. To not see him In some capacity Is a lose condition, Daegal's telling us as such. That's why he's the one bringing It up, yet we also need to see Pazuzu, so Daegal's taking our place with Naoya. Trust In Daegal and don't try to be fucking 'clever' this time. We just have to finish It, make an end. Daegal will be firing the Sun against BJ once he's Inevitably summoned, to make the fight winnable so we can use the Instrument. That's the point of that. Until then, we have to go kill Pazuzu, get the eye, save Hecate, and double back to see how fucked things are with Naoya to go buy Daegal time to use the Sun.

>>3716674
As the person who did It, It's a hell of a lot harder to get people to agree on what revolvers to use than It Is to just buy a silver cartridge or three, when that's basically a free supermode In the waiting.

Yes, we should get the bandoliers, but nothing needs to be reloaded when It's spawned, so walking Into a confrontation with cartridges expands our options and walking In with bandoliers doesn't do much of anything until we unload a gun. Unless you want to Immediately detonate them, for some reason. However given the Crux, I say why not both? In just a moment we'll be able to buy those too. As for revolvers I say Axanael If It wasn't already made, Noctourne, Adamant, Mistral. Any of the tier 3 revolvers would be fine, though.
>>
>>3716695
>The revolvers are locked behind Tiers.

Well If that's the case I didn't know that. I suppose It wasn't a problem In the Black, where we had already long opened all our tiers.

In that case we should just focus on the damn bandoliers until tier 2.
>>
>>3716705
Because silver cartridges for who knows whatbis like smashing flies with a sledgehammer. Why would you choose either
>3 instant death shots that can go wide so we need either a super strong opponent or three mooks all lined up
>black frost when its not ecen necessart and is a huge investment
>fimbulwinter which is aerial denial artillery

Over
>ability to make a smoke screen
>shotgun debuff + damage and possible dot
>lightning quick closing smash
>really big fist

Brass cartridges are the most flexible of the available varieties. This was a bad call because what the fuck are we using them against? We have 3 different kinds so we can use them.

We haven't even tried out the judge or kerberos yet either
>>
>>3716714
Okay, but while BF Is a huge Investment, It means we can't get gimped during the time using It. Limb damage and Internals (and relics like the carnifex which Is VITAL) won't exist as far as things to be broken, and we expect Bishamon to be there who might exploit that.

The point of doing It was we'll have time to regenerate booster anyway, and popping In 2-4 brass on the fly especially with the carnifex letting us do It faster Is much more feasible than spending a full 135-180% midfight, which Is why I did It In advance. We have free booster with time anyway I figured we should put It to use.
>>
>>3716722
>bishamon
One or two people think that. I don't think he is and even if he is, I don't see him being a big issue. However, smokeout/shatterblast would have been better responses if he was rather than turning black frost and letting him just smash us.

Relics like the Carnifex are totally breakable in Black Frost; we lost our Argus against Voivoid while in Black Frost. Playing keep away and shooting at range better suits chrome and brass cartridges than it does silver. I mean, come on.
>smokeout
>lucid blade
That's basically one dead Player instantly. Especially when followed up by Providence.
>>
>>3716726
Can we actually fight reliably out of Carnifex? If it gets 'broken', we're basically crippled offense-wise. ALL the really good weapons are two-handed.

At this point, our only real enemy is Naoya, who drew even with us in that one fight (but implied he used a lot of power summoning a storm). What exactly is the nature of his power, other than magic surgery and creating Players?
>>
>>3716727
>codebursts
>mind reading
>lachryma regen
>carnifex + beam magnum
>shadowtentacles
>able to switch into a more killy mode where his legs become blades.

I think we can be okay without the carnifex. A bunch of our weapons are still active
>chagan
>incoms
>judge/nocturne/calibre/mistral/kerberos
>nova gun (no vulcans because those suit two hands more than one but it could work)
>every meter weapon bar the longinius
>photonic halo

So, ideally we can
>attack with left hand weapon
>use familiars (which microassemblers can repair now)
>codebursts
>incoms
>photonic halo
We can still spit out a ton of attacks each turn.
>>
>>3716727
Microassemeblers can repair carnifex if it is damaged.

You know if we mount the other psir of familiars we have, we can get up to 9 drones a turn that attack in melee and at range while we hang back and use nocturne or calibre to snipe.
>>
>>3716349
even if we kill naoya, PAZUZU, Bishamon, Helebore or Kotone, save Hecate and Mio, and prevent kazuya from dying we still need to travel to the pit and kill the real Black Joker.

And yes, we would have the Instrument, but it would likely still be a difficult fight.

>>3716425
bishamon likely didnt need to tell him, Naoya learns things through lachryma immersion.

>>3716452
mfw her master plan was to wait until all the other waifu were dead and Anon was too crippled and tired to protest before she made him her husbando.

>>3716731
he also wields a red greatsword that fucks things up.

and we can also throw assault shroid blades
>>
>>3716775
>difficult fight
Yes but we keep the Leukocyte regardless. The only reason to hold off now is more research and we could end up over preparing; I'm of the camp now though where doing it is not necessary for Daegal's survival though.

>BISHAMON TOLD HIM
While I disagree with this anon that lachryma told Naoya, they've had 12 days to check and the Diadem was still functioning after getting nuked; they could have scanned it and learned the name in any of that time. Hell if Bishamon told hin everything, why didn't he mention the Hollow Sun? That's a way bigger threat than the Leukocyte.

>red sword
Thought that was evident desu.

>shrike blades
Good in a pinch they shouldn't be core arsenal until we can synthesize with the assault shroud.
>>
>>3716775
>bishamon likely didnt need to tell him, Naoya learns things through lachryma immersion.
And yet he didn't know Kazuya's one and instead used the one from the stage play.

Anyway, silver cartridges are a huge boon for the first strike against Pazuzu.
They allow us to go all out for a few rounds with carnifex, golgotha and free shatter blasts.
Yes, free shatter blasts. The anon who whined about getting silver because it gives no shatter blasts is full of shit.

We are basically breaking the tier-barrier by opening with this move. It will likely accumulate enough meter that we are back to T3, as long as we get a few hits in with either Golgotha or the shatter blasts.

>>3716796
>Hell if Bishamon told hin everything, why didn't he mention the Hollow Sun? That's a way bigger threat than the Leukocyte.
Maybe some remaining loyalty for Volt Regios and Tyrant Edge? They might still hang out there and he probably isn't interacting with them anymore.

"Naoya learns through lachryma immersion" also makes no sense when one of his allies went to us to trade knowledge.
>>
>>3716821
Also, what equipment do we give Kazuya?

We should load him up on all the stuff that we won't be using anyway and make sure he doesn't take anything that we can't live without.
>>
>>3716452
She's going to fucking die like all the rest. If she don't want to she herself or the people in the city or her friends because she doesn't like that her dreams are real... Well, at least we asked.
>>
>>3716821
>free shatterblasts
So you missed out on me mentioning smoke out, blizzard rush and freezing buster, as well as the fact that if there's anyone to fight before Pazuzu, we waste our silver cartridges? It was a stupid choice anon. There's literally no reason to do it considering hoe conditional 2 of the 3 uses of silver cartidges are. Black Frost is useful if we want a slugfest but who says it'll be a slug fest.

>>3716827
>Rubicante + Caganazzo
>Chromatron
>Logos
>Meridian Blades
>Erdinog
>Cobalt booster
Keep the rest.
>>
>>3716855
>>Cobalt booster
Doesn't he already have one?
I guess he could try putting it into his Helix Gauntlet instead of the locus or whatever it's called.

Also, what about the tesseract field? Does Kazuya currently have an equivalent?
>>
>>3716872
Yes, he has the dual phase field. It's basically a mini armory guardian and suits him extremely well considering his armor already has insane energy resistance. Plus, that's irrelevant anyway because he has no way of repairing the Tesseract if it gets damaged; his armor's repair/regen doesn't extend to relics as shown by his busted Cobale Booster and the fact he lost his energy shield cuz of Voivoid, the Armory Guardian and all the other shit he went through.

I want to give him the Booster and Blades just in case he meets anyone who could use them. Regios or Tyrian would be terrors with Meridian Weapons for instance, never mind whatever Liquorice has become.

We ourselves keep the Auric Shroud and the Tesseract. If we synthesise with the assault shroud, we may be able to use the Auric and the Tesseract syngerises amazingly with Carnifex and microassemblers.
>>
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>>3714062
>>3714064
>>3714076
>>3716705

Metal clangs on metal, as you clasp hands – Daegal nods, even as a distant boom echoes across the city. Vented thrust screams, sharper than an eagle's shriek, a powerful linear distortion cutting through the sky.

“Yeah,” he says. “Yeah.”

He looks up. Twin vapor-lines trails through the air, as a sleek black shape descends on jets of green fire. Aft of the Raptor's stabilizer vanes, ion engines burn with emerald fury – the downdraft sends contrails of smoke whipping around you, your Assault Shroud gusting in the sudden winds.

The fighter comes down in a tight spiral, the matte-black hull glossy in the red light – Concussive force pummels the ground as it hovers, unfurling docking claws from the craft's underside. Cool blue light streams forth, as Daegal steps beneath it; For a moment, you think he's about to say something more-

But then he simply jumps up, and pulls himself up with one hand. The claws furl around him, and Daegal vanishes from view.

Go.

The Raptor lifts off with deceptive slowness, gliding up, up and away. Green lights pulse at the corners of that sleek silhouette, chips of metal clattering off your armor, like sleet.

Then there's that clap of thunder again, acceleration rings gathering around the vulture-winged craft as it goes supersonic – Accelerating, swinging high over the iron towers and foundries of Dis.

The crimson light of the hypersphere shimmers, as the Teleport Homer materializes in your hand. Throughout your long sojourn in the Underworld, it was dead, lifeless – Here and now, telltale lights glow, as you twist the selector.

A burst of sound, a loud double-bang of overstressed air pressure. Cracks skitter over old iron, the landbound torpedo of the Assault Roader materializing – It never lands, idling on gravimetric suspensors, the drive system humming as it powers up.

You swing yourself into place. The engine roars, as you twist the throttle.

A warning scrawls itself across your field of vision, the Hellion Cycle rocking like a boat in rough water as you flick the limiters off.

Unbidden, a phrase comes to mind:

Jack the sound barrier.

Bring the noise.

(Continued)
>>
>>3716965
>ion engines
So the acceleration is crap but it can reach high speeds after months of accelerating?
>>
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>>3716965

The Assault Roader leaps forward like a living thing, thrusters belching smoke – It growls down the alley, streaking out through the exit ramp, and into the streets beyond. The Hellion Cycle sways as you pull it round, engines flaring in the soot-occluded dark; Acceleration punches into your hardshell armor, grav-plates sliding and adjusting as you hit the afterburners.

The drives thunder. The growl builds to a roar.

Iron-dark buildings blur past, the chassis quivering beneath you as the cycle's engines kick to full burn – You speed beneath a skeletal catwalk, a long straight yawning before you as the way clears. Shapes loom out of the twilight gloom, like ghosts, as the Assault Roader skids under the jutting pylons of a fuel conduit, eating up the distance with terrifying speed.

Even with the Carnifex, navigating through the tangled mass of struts and pylons would be a nightmare. But the world bends to avoid you, space rippling and curving like a fever dream – You steer by the twitching cursor of the display track, affecting maximum horizontal velocity. Grey dust plumes behind you, as you hit the roadway, odd light dancing and flaring.

And then you're gone.

Northbound.

> Dirac White Licorice.

Ghost-echoes dance on the channel, crackling with static – Like the echo of someone else's war.

“Who's – Joker? Is that *you*?”

A heartbeat later:

“You're alive?”

She doesn't sound the way she did before – The last you remember of that pale, white figure, before it was enfolded within the Red Comet's steel. Shocked, but more certain, somehow; As if the impossibility of what she's seen now grants room for anything to happen.

“I'm not – It really is you. You're not...!

A pause-

“Is – Is Kazuya with...?”

Yes.

Licorice exhales, sharply – A sound made more so by how unaffected it is. She murmurs something inaudible, on the other line, something too soft to be heard.

> Have her wake up Natsumi, she needs to get to Sterling and have them bolster the Shroud around the Halcyon.

“I...This is crazy, we thought you were *dead* - It's been...”

“I'll get Nat – Cypher – I'll get them as soon as I can...!”

> Dirac Volt.

For a long, long moment, there's only silence across the channel – Then...

“Knew it.”

Even in those blunt, clipped words, it's impossible to mistake the satisfaction – stunned satisfaction, but satisfaction all the same – in Regios's affectless voice.

“*Knew* you were coming back-”

You have to pull wide, for a moment – then wider still, towards the edge of a causeway. The Assault Roader lofts high, gravity elements kicking you across the retaining wall. You open the throttle as the hovercycle comes down, building speed.

(Continued)
>>
>>3717016

> We need backup at the hospital, Pazuzu and maybe Bishamon.

Another long, damned silence. It's impossible to know what Volt might be thinking, on the other end – the faint crackle of static occluding everything.

“Will be too late to make a difference.”

A pause.

“But will try.”

The line snaps shut, like a guillotine's blade coming down.

There's something stiff in Volt Regios's affect – More so than you remember, at any rate.

Bishamon. You know he's out there, somewhere.

You remember what Kazuya said.

And then all that matters is speed.

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

STAGE: PURGATORY

The grey monolith of the hospital looms before you, the crimson light catching the sunward – If such a term has meaning, here – faces, bright. The rigid geometrical perfection is only emphasized by the banners that drape it; Great swathes of black cloth, marked with-

Marked with that grinning symbol.

If you weren't braced for anything, you may have swerved.

Instead, you ride up under the flapping banners, and into the cool darkness. As you enter the grand avenue, there is a distant crackle – A sound that revebrates through you, the air growing closed and oppressive as if the walls are closing in. Your vision recedes to optic-only, a static-laden drone lingering...

You're being jammed. No – the entire area is under communications blackout. No external communications in or out-

Except via the Nihl Sphere, of course.

PAZUZU means for this to be a private audience.

Grey stone gives way to black steel. All attempt at architecture has been abandoned, now – The SOUICHIROU MIKOGAMI wing of the Metropolitan General Medical Center is a solid black octagon, flat and lightless and impenetrable.

Except...That's no longer true.

You dismount. The Assault Roader idles as your weight leaves it, the engine ticking over. There is a great flight of steps before the black obelisk, like a processional advance to a temple.

(Continued)
>>
>>3717057

Violet light pulses, before you. Die-straight, it carves across that lightless surface – Up, then across.

Down.

A doorway.

Violet light pours out, a perfect rectangle of radiance. The way in.

The light beckons.

[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3717065
Activate the Auspex and Argus. Scan it. Aim with the Beam Magnum to use its sight as well.
>>
>>3717057
>>3717065
Oh, so this is what the signal booster upgrade for the Argus System was for.

Thankfully we have forebode, so we don't need to be all that wary of an ambush. We can decide on a course of action if that actually happens.

There is nothing we could set up, outside of maybe sending the interceptors out to push the bike outside or something. At least if they can work in jamming conditions.
>>
>>3717065
>Display Nihl Sphere, see if we can tamper with that door to leave it open after we go in
>Go In
What is the play if Mikogami actually turns out to be on the level with this? I know it's like, one in a million, but if he is?
>>
>>3717065
>Free
>Draw the beam magnum, aim down the sights detect how many life signatures there are.
> Fire the beam magnum 3 times
>Active exec barrier for the potential counter attack
>>
>>3717076
>>3717073
Can we combine these?
>>
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>>3717073
>>3717075
>>3717088
>>3717076

You're jammed. Thoroughly jammed.

The Argus System registers nothing, though dampeners keep feedback from knifing through your brain. But in the cold light of Auspex-

Nothing. No hidden guardians or deathtraps, waiting to spring. You raise the Beam Magnum, and bring it around in a slow sweep – A sight more powerful than anything you've used before registers...

Nothing.

And yet – Your visor screens are alarmingly blank, your communications and sensors comprehensively blocked. It's like if a dead zone was dropped down in the middle of nowhere, to utterly shroud this place from observation.

A strange thought dawns: Perhaps this isn't just for your benefit.

> Display Nihl Sphere, see if we can tamper with that door to leave it open after we go in.

The Helix Gauntlet irises open, to reveal the Nihl Sphere. It thrums, the high singing wail of resonating power echoing deep within-

He's here. Close, too.

The violet doorway – A wound in the fabric of the monolith – hovers before you, waiting.

You pause.

You consider.

And in the end, you step through.

Red washes out of the world. Violet is in ascendance.

Even before the violet flash fades, the Beam Magnum is up and ready in the seconds it takes for your vision to clear. Artificial thunder echoes in your auditory sensors, filtered to tolerable levels by your helmet's systems.

You can already feel the cold, though that might just be the fragment of a memory. Hear the quiet noise, the faint beeps and thrum of essential medical machinery. The long, ivory-and-obsidian hallway stretches before you, row after row of sealed doors on either side.

You know what lies within.

You know what awaits.

One of the great, baroque doors near the very end of the hallway is – of course – open. Your strides echo, hollowly, against the unyielding floor – Each one taking you forward. Closer to the end.

When you turn-

The first thing you see is the Cradle. Metal and opaque glass, something like smoke swirling within, blotting out any impression of the pod's occupant. Like the others you've seen, it is changed in the transition from one world to the next – identical, in both the real and the Red.

And in front of it-

-one skeletal hand pressed to the glass-

-fleshless face blankly unknowable-

-is PAZUZU.

His form has changed, in subtle ways. The fingers of his free hand curl around his half of the Crux, the stave's corospant fires – the ones he used to kill Akira - stilled at last. Violet gems gleam at the ends of his mantle, his shroud coiling and rippling around him like black smoke. Like broad, black wings.

Even at rest, filthy light swaddles him. There is a constant surrusation, as if he is surrounded by the hushed whispers of a crowd – Or waves breaking on an endless shoreline.

It feels like he's been here for hours, now; for how many hours, you cannot say.

Hours, alone with Hecate.

(Continued)
>>
>>3717172
"You've always been a smart man Fuma. Why bother with the Diadem? Why couldn't you have just helped her?"
>>
>>3717172
It seems strange to say, and perhaps almost naively hopeful, but the way this Is written, with what Joker just thought about the dead-zone jamming everything, and thus outside detection...

It couldn't be. Pazuzu couldn't possibly want to help us against the White Joker, could he? After all we've done? What does he have to gain?
>>
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>>3717172

You remember how his face was once a pale, porcelain blank. This visage is somehow more honest, somehow truer.

He is jester and grinning death, all at once; Both regal and a skeletal, eroded caricature of famine.

> "You've always been a smart man, Fuma. Why bother with the Diadem? Why couldn't you have just helped her?"

PAZUZU does not move, at your words. The mechanisms of his left eye – his sole eye – wind and counter-circle.

You know what his right eye holds. You know what lies within.

SHE WAS TO BE MY COMPANION THROUGH ETERNITY.

His robes flutter, in an unseen breeze.

TO STAND BY MY SIDE, WHEN THE HOUR OF PROMISE WAS MADE TRUE.

WHEN – AT LAST – I WAS FREED FROM THE CHAIR.

He turns. The violet fire of his Nihl Eye smokes with anti-light, with an infinite and depthless darkness. A darkness so deep, you may as well be blind.

Then-

JOKER.

YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN MY ENEMY.

[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3717222
Oh fuck me
> "You're in love with Hecate. You've been since the beginning, haven't you?"
>>
>>3717222
"...You haven't given me much reason to think otherwise, but now-"

"I'm listening. Make your offer, Pazuzu."

>Create the bandoliers, if only to use Booster as we gain It
>>
>>3717229
Yeah. We've known this for... It was implied for a long time, but It was without a doubt confirmed when he told Alura how pale a shadow she was compared to Hecate In the Diadem.
>>
>>3717248
>>Create the bandoliers, if only to use Booster as we gain It
STOP DOING COMBAT ACTIONS DURING TENSE TALKS. PEOPLE CAN BE AFFRONTED BY HOSTILE BODY LANGUAGE.
STOP BEING A FUCKING AUTIST.
>>
>>3717222
>"And yet you succeeded at making me yours rather quickly."
>"For me, that day was the first time killing became a goal, rather than a method."
>>
>>3717222
"Then why all of the things that happened?"
>>
>>3717222
"Why Bardiel then? Why send him after her and then me? Your Smilers have been trying to kill me since I met them.

Why am I here? Why now? You know what he's planning. Speak."
>>
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>>3717286

> "And yet you succeeded at making me yours rather quickly."
> "For me, that day was the first time killing became a goal, rather than a method."

A glow, in that eye of smokeless fire.

YOU ARE THE EATER OF THE WEAK, JOKER.

YOU EXIST TO CULL THE UNWORTHY.

YOU THRIVE ON DESTRUCTION.

Shaded darkness coils around Pazuzu, like the teardrop of shadow in an endlessly-flickering flame.

TO DENY YOUR NATURE IS TO INVITE IT.

> "Then why all of the things that happened?"

That skull-face turns upwards. You wonder what he's seeing.

THE WORLD IS CHANGING, JOKER. GOD IS WITH MEN.

THE OLD HAS PASSED AWAY. BEHOLD, THE NEW HAS COME.

THE BLACK CARDINAL'S DREAM WILL SOON COME TO PASS.

ALL IS AS HE HAS FORESEEN – PARADISE LIES WITHIN OUR GRASP.

ALL ELSE IS BUT DUST IN THE WIND.

>>3717324

PAZUZU's grasp tightens. Glass creaks beneath those fleshless talons.

> "Why Bardiel then? Why send him after her and then me? Your Smilers have been trying to kill me since I met them.”

Something – something that may be a laugh, something that might merely be the rasp of bone-on-bone – echoes in the chamber. A pinpoint of light flares in PAZUZU'S false eye.

FOR THE SIN OF WOUNDING HER, I OFFERED BARDIEL A CHOICE: DEATH, OR EXILE.

HE CHOSE DAMNATION.

>>3717229

> "You're in love with Hecate. You've been since the beginning, haven't you?"

YOU SLEW HIM FOR LOVE. I WOULD HAVE UNMADE HIM, FOR THE SAME.

IN THAT, JOKER, WE ARE THE SAME.

> “Why am I here? Why now? You know what he's planning. Speak."

I SENSE THE WHITE JOKER'S HAND IN ALL THIS.

ONE DAY, HIS INTRIGUES WILL STRANGLE HIM.

HIS PLACE IS ONE OF HONOR – YET HE HAS FORSAKEN HIS LIFE'S REWARD, TO CLEAVE HIS OWN PATH.

HIS GOALS CONCERN ME NOT AT ALL.

MY BUSINESS IS SOLELY WITH YOU.

(Continued)
>>
>>3717388
"You haven't seen used lachryma yourself for a reason. A Player made from it is madness. Do you actually think you can survive if the Black Joker comes?"
>>
>>3717363

> “Your Smilers have been trying to kill me since I met them.”

I AM NO TYRANT, JOKER.

ALL SERVE, IN THEIR OWN WAY.

THE LORD WILL KNOW HIS OWN.

>>3717182
> “Why bother with the Diadem? Why couldn't you have just helped her?"

>>3717248
> "...You haven't given me much reason to think otherwise, but now-"
> "I'm listening. Make your offer, Pazuzu."

AND SO WE COME TO THE HEART OF IT.

The shadows grow long and dark. Blossoms of hoarfrost crackle and fume, on the surface of Hecate's Cradle.

THE DIADEM SURVIVES, JOKER.

THE LAST HOUR APPROACHES, AND ALL SHALL BE MADE WHOLE.

THE CHOSEN ABIDE WITH ME, AND THE TIME FOR THE PILGRIMAGE NEARS.

SOON, THE PROMISED LAND WILL BE OURS.

Pazuzu's hand tightens into a fist, as grasping something only he can see.

ALREADY, WE HOLD THE CRUX AND THE ARK.

ONLY THE EYES OF NIGHT REMAIN.

And at last, he turns to face you. At last – His robes billowing and snatching in an invisible gale, striated by pennants and spines of anti-light – Pazuzu gives you his fullest attention.

I KNOW YOU HAVE NOT BEEN BROUGHT TO BAY, JOKER.

YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO SPEAK, WHEN YOU COULD DESTROY.

I WOULD BE REMISS, NOT TO REPLY IN KIND.

LET THERE BE AN END TO THE WAR BETWEEN US, JOKER.

LET THERE BE PEACE AMONG MEN.

Tension gathers. A palpable force.

THE OFFER SHALL BE MADE ONCE, AND NEVER AGAIN: THAT I BUY YOUR GOODWILL.

THIS IS LESS A SURRENDER THAN IT IS A CONTRACT – VALUE GIVEN FOR VALUE RECEIVED.

Low, now. Each word carefully chosen, carefully measured.

WE CRAVE THE SAME THING, JOKER.

ONLY ONE POWER CAN AWAKEN THE SLEEPER. ONLY THE EYES OF NIGHT, WIELDED TOGETHER, HAVE THE POWER TO DO SO.

Pazuzu's hand becomes a claw. It presses to the front of his robes, over where his heart should be.

ONLY I POSSESS THE KNOWLEDGE TO DO SO.

THERE IS NO OTHER.

The words hang in the air – And, for a moment, you realize: He wants to do it. He wants to awaken Hecate.

(Continued)
>>
>>3717418
"Where are you going? Will you ever come back? I need the Crux. The full Crux."
>>
>>3717418

LET ME RETURN HER TO YOU, JOKER.

LET HER WALK THE BRIGHT FIELDS OF DAY ONCE MORE.

PLEASE.

Pazuzu's lean, drawn figure is so still, it is almost painful. His immobility is agonizingly precise.

>>3717429

> "Where are you going? Will you ever come back? I need the Crux. The full Crux."

WE WILL NEVER RETURN. THE ARK WILL TAKE US BEYOND THIS WORLD, TO THE PROMISED LAND.

THE CRUX IS MINE TO WIELD, AS IT IS YOURS TO HOLD.

He holds it like a talisman. He holds it like he will never let it go – As if it alone promises salvation.

And perhaps it does.

I SWEAR TO YOU, IN THE NAME OF THE BLACK CARDINAL, ON MY HOPE OF THE PROMISED LAND.

I SEEK ONLY TO TAKE THE DEPARTURE WITH MY CHOSEN.

YOU WILL HAVE HECATE, AND I WILL HAVE THE LIVES OF MY FOLLOWERS.

YOU NEED NOT SPEAK YOUR ANSWER.

ALL I ASK-

And Pazuzu extends an open hand in your direction.

IS THAT YOU GIVE ME THE NIHL SPHERE

[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3717451
So, I suppose we can either take up his offer or kill him and extra the knowledge we need with EXEC_REAP.
>>
>>3717451
"The lift off of the Diadem almost destroyed the City before. Why won't it now? And wby did Hecate turn against you?"

It comes down to a question of can we trust Pazuzu (no) and can we let go what he did before (yes). I really don't trust that this is the end and it ends that neat. I'm not sure Hecate would want it either; she turned against him for a reason.
>>
>>3717451
(Gentlemen: As an addendum, your best guess is that he's jamming you with the Diadem's systems. It's entirely possible he's targeting this room with the Diadem's guns.)

(You're likely to survive a barrage - Hecate, and the other sleepers, won't.)
>>
>>3717451
Hm, trading the Nihl Sphere to revive Hecate AND get the full Crux WITHOUT having to fight is a pretty tempting offer. (Assuming I'm not misinterpreting his "THE CRUX IS MINE TO WIELD, AS IT IS YOURS TO HOLD." statement.)

Assuming of course Pazuzu genuinely doesn't plan on backstabbing us.

Still, I get the impression he's being genuine here.

>You take second Nihl eye and I will take the second half of the Crux. Whatever happens after that is up to Hecate.
>>
>>3717451
So, the NIHL sphere is powerful as fuck, but its only real use to use is for leaving the underworld.
Effectively, we will need to face the Black Joker alone. Worst case, Kazuya kills Naoya offscreen and becomes the White Joker, in which case we will need his power for the Instrument.
The question here is: Will he be able to just help us finish it, or will we need him to be present in the underworld (and thus trapped without the NIHL) to activate it?

Other than that, it's just a codeburst battery for us. Hecate could make do with Harmonia, I guess.

I would accept his offer. Wish the Carnifex was active, though, to prevent any kind of surprise.

Could we maybe ask for a way to offset the lack of the NIHL's path-opening properties as part of the deal?

Also, I wonder whether we should ask him if he could get the other sleepers as well. Shouldn't they be Hyades?
>>
>>3717467
I don't think he's kidding. I think he means it. Did Hecate love him back?

OP, are we cucking him right now?
>>
>>3717451
I want to believe him. I really do. If he's telling the truth, we get Hecate, and we get him and the Smilers out of the way for good.

But, why would he let Hecate go, just like that? He still loves her.
>>
>>3717480
>I would accept his offer. Wish the Carnifex was active, though, to prevent any kind of surprise.
It is. We transitioned with it on, which is why we can use our arm.
>>
>>3717476
(He's not giving you the Crux. You get the feeling he actually needs it to leave. He's not asking for your half, however.)
>>
>>3717483
>>3717485
My best guess is that he is intending on backstabbingus, it would be planning to coerce Hecate to come with him to Paradise.
>>
>>3717485
This is a good question.

> "If you love Hecate, why would you let her go?"
>>
>>3717480
Hecate left Pazuzu for a reason and he's already shown he's willing to lie, betray and kill the entire city for his ambitions. There was a reason she left him.
>>
>>3717504
Dude, he just said that he ISN'T in love with her.

Don't ask this, for fuck's sake.

>>3717486
Nice. Then give him the NIHL, but ask him about the other sleepers (Are they Hyades? Would it be possible to awaken them as well?) and about other means to get some of the advantages of the NIHL sphere back.

Also
"With all this talk of the promised land, I would actually like to hear what it is supposed to be like. If I will never see you again, I want to know what you were fighting for."
Because fuck, did we ever get to learn what they actually mean by that? Do they wanna live as robots in the Red?
>>
>>3717510
Regardless, his plan hinge on Hecate being revived, so if he has a betrayal planned, it would occur AFTER that.

The only question is would we be willing or even able to fight a Pazuzu with double Nihl Spheres.
>>
>>3717522
>The only question is would we be willing or even able to fight a Pazuzu with double Nihl Spheres.

Carnifex Forebode.
Golgotha.
Black Frost.
Abruption jets and double strike because we are charging.

I think we have good chances if he doesn't have an automatic evade.


Also, spoiler in case he might have his own mind reading thing.
>>
>>3717529
Thankfully, we're no longer at a point where we're reliant on the Nihl Sphere for survival. I say we go for the deal. For the first time since Nara Dreamland, we have a serious shot of getting Hecate back.

If Pazuzu decides not to play ball, we'll just have to take the Nihl Spheres by force, then.
>>
>>3717451
>I want to. I really do. But theres a sticking point left between us. Akira. He died by your hand. Everyone else is settled, but not that one.

>so, what is the life of a man worth Fuma? I've always paid it back in death, but maybe you have a better answer.
>>
>>3717545
Seriously, for what reason would mentioning Akira now of all times do any good for this situation.
>>
>>3717467

> "The lift-off of the Diadem almost destroyed the City before. Why won't it now?”

Pazuzu does not move. His hand remains outstretched.

THE HARVEST IS COMPLETE, JOKER.

THE ARK IS ASCENDANT.

ALL THAT REMAINS IS THE JOURNEY BEYOND.

THIS WORLD MEANS NOTHING TO ME, NOW.

> “And why did Hecate turn against you?"

His false eye flickers, dully.

BECAUSE I TOLD HER THE TRUTH.

I TOLD HER TOO MUCH, TOO SOON.

SACRIFICES WOULD HAVE TO BE MADE, BEFORE ALL WAS IN READINESS.

THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HARVEST TO COME – IT APPALLED HER.

THE ERROR WAS MINE, AND MINE ALONE.

SHE LACKED-

FAITH.

> "With all this talk of the promised land, I would actually like to hear what it is supposed to be like. If I will never see you again, I want to know what you were fighting for."

Pazuzu's true eye cycles. Even through his flat, affectless words, you can hear the undisguised longing.

IT IS A LAND OF BEAUTY BEYOND BELIEF, JOKER.

A LAND WHERE SOULS TAKES FORM, ETERNAL AND IMPERISHABLE.

He looks down as his hand, at his robes – the regalia that adorns him.

NOT LIKE THESE FALSE SHELLS.

IT IS A PLACE WHERE WE CAN BE OUR TRUE SELVES, SHORN OF INFIRMITY. FREE OF MORTALITY'S CURSE, AT LAST.

A WORLD WHERE DEATH IS BUT A MEMORY.

Then, softly-

A PLACE WHERE I CAN BE FREE FROM THE PRISON OF MY SELF.

> "If you love Hecate, why would you let her go?"

YOU HAVE LOOKED UPON ME, JOKER.

YOU KNOW WHAT I AM.

I AM A SHELL OF A MAN, A MISERABLE, WITHERED THING.

A LEARNED, ERUDITE BOX.

He lowers his horned head. Then-

I HAD HOPED-

-I HAD HOPED-

SHE WOULD CHOOSE TO TAKE THE DEPARTURE WITH ME.

NOW-

NOW, I SEE THAT DAY WILL NEVER COME.

There's more. Something else, something that sends a tremor through him.

EVEN NOW.

EVEN NOW, DESPITE EVERYTHING-

-I STILL LONG TO BRING HER HAPPINESS.

(Continued)
>>
>>3717564

The shudder wracks Pazuzu. It has cost him, you can tell.

But then the violet light blazes in his false eye, and he is himself again.

I WOULD HAVE YOUR ANSWER, JOKER.

NOW, AND FOR ALL TIME.

[ ] Free

YOU HAVE CONTROL
>>
>>3717564
Wow. Now I just feel fucking bad for him.
>>
>>3717574
"This is a small price to pay for her life.

Take it. Our goals are not opposed anymore."
>>
>>3717574
OP, just to clarify. From Pazuzu's words, does that mean the Diadem is already airborne and won't hurt anybody if it takes off?

I'm inclined to give Pazuzu the benefit of the doubt here. If it comes down to a fight, well, what happens happens.

>All right, it's a deal, then.

But if the Diadem still poses a risk add:
>But unlike last time, you give a chance for people to get out of the city before the Diadem lifts off. If there's so much as a single living soul left in the danger zone I'll finish what I started on it.
>>
>>3717592
(Yes. The Diadem is already airborne - It lifted off in the Seisin High stage. He has clearly harvested enough souls to at least keep it in flight.)
>>
>>3717587
> Trusting pazuzu come.on anon.

>>3717574
>if you want it, you will have to take it.
>Load the cestus with a brass lachryma cartridge launch smoke out then lucid blade for a crit
>Use aphelion to.close fast and smash him with Golgotha
Activate exec barrier, and the photonic halo
>Create assault shroud fortress mode around hecate

Op can we activate the chronometron now or do we need time to switch it in?
>>
>>3717587
This. Take the damn thing.
>>
>>3717605
(You gave it and the Auric Shroud to Kazuya.)
>>
>>3717574
>>3717545
reposting

plus

>youll delay your departure and help me stop whatever Naoya has planned. She wont be very happy in a world beset by whatever horrors he has in store.

>dont worry, it wont take long.
>>
>>3717605
Seriously, wtf is wrong with you. The guy offers an olive branch and you're just going to swat it away?
>>
>>3717574
"As one murderer to another, I trust you this once."
"I hope you won't force me to make us both regret it."

>>3717605
Dude, he'll bombard the whole area if we start a fight now. That means giving up on Hecate.
>>
>>3717605
If you do that, she is 100% dead. OP has stated that Pazu is aiming the Diadem's guns here. She'll die or just never wake up.
>>
>>3717605
dude anon, even with fortress mode Hecate might die. Even Im only angling for more out of the deal. I still think the dealnis worthwhile.
>>
>>3717614
Supporting this. If we can appeal to Pazuzu's wish to have Hecate be happy, tell him that helping us defeat White Joker will allow us to make a world where she can be free. If he leaves now, then things are still uncertain, but he can ensure a better world be delaying his departure, just a little.

It's worth a shot, at least.
>>
>>3717614
>>3717631
Try this. Offer him the Hollow Sun. He can have it and the Eyes afterwards if he wants. Just give us Hecate and help us with the White Joker.

I am not sure about letting him go but I'm going to say, 60/40, to let him go.
>>
>>3717640
Why the fuck would he need the Hollow Sun? He can't take it with him and the thing has already found it's true owner at this point. We don't have the power to decide that.
>>
What is wrong with you anons, this guy killed the thief. He indirectly killed rook and haze
This guy willing sacrificed 100s for his retarded goal.
And you just want to give this snake unbelievable power, on a promise he will give us back a woman he would rather put in a coma then let be with us. You are living in a dream world.
Pazuzu has to pay for standing in our way and not dying back when we black holed his machine
>>
>>3717631
>>3717614
(Gentlemen, my apologies: I should address this in an IC post, but I should just be clear. Pazuzu has no interest in anything else but this specific deal. He's very clearly going to leave as soon as he can.)

(As stated above, he doesn't care about the White Joker. The White Joker, to Pazuzu's mind, is your problem. He's not coming with them, therefore he's irrelevant.)
>>
>>3717654
Because we have better things to do than deal with a religious fanatic who never really cared about us and only ended up in an antagonist because we got in the way of his plans of our own will.

Pazuzu has never displayed a desire to interact with Joker beyond reclaiming the Nihl Sphere and has never done anything to us out of spite. Guy wants to do his shit and fuck off. He doesn't deserve to be let off, but we have bigger fish to fry and he's going to make himself a non-issue at this point anyway.
>>
>>3717657
hmmm fine. If he doesnt want to delay, then cut that part of the deal, lets just see what he WILL offer us.

he wants to leave, fine. but hes waking her up now.
>>
>>3717651
He wanted it before. What's the vote tally now? Sound off.
>>
>>3717657
That's fair, thank you for the clarification. In that case, I would like to vote to accept the trade as-is. I'm not happy about letting Pazuzu go, but the chance to at least part on decent terms is more than I expected.

>>3717654
To be perfectly clear, I despise Pazuzu. Akira was my favorite character, and his death really, truly fucking sucked. However, if we can remove Pazuzu and the Smilers from the picture, then that's too good an opportunity to pass up. If we fight him here, now...then things will go further south than we can recover from.
>>
>>3717654
Dude, RJ and Pazuzu have both fucked each other up to the point where they're both exhausted and practically have nothing left, all basically stemming from their rivalry for Hecate.

Just as how RJ lost a bunch of friends to Pazuzu, the Smilers as an organization are basically all gone. And even he's admitting that he doesn't expect Hecate to come with him. He's got nobody to enjoy Paradise with but himself.

At this point, we just want this self destructive rivalry with Pazuzu to end, especially since we've got to deal with Naoya, who has legitimate malicious intent toward RJ.
>>
>>3717682
I say TAKE THE DEAL.
>>
>>3717682
Taking the deal.
>>
>Pazuzu gets to fuck off to his Paradise after all
>Akira, Rook and Haze's deaths were literally for nothing.
Fucking wow
>>
>>3717699
Can't say I am surprised at the shit decision making in this thread, after all it's the same group of anons who lost us an arm
>>
>>3717699
Eh, he's literally alone now. Also, we seriously fucked up his engine and the Diadem in general. For all we know, the ship might already be too wrecked and this is just his desperate suicidal attempt to try anyway if only to have closure.
>>
>>3717699
>Akira, Rook and Haze's deaths were literally for nothing.

You act like dying for nothing hasn't been a running theme for this entire quest.

Either way, the Diadem is already powered up and the dead are dead. We can at the very least get Hecate back out of this entire rotten situation.

And if Pazuzu decides to backstab us after then? Then we can kill him to your heart's content.
>>
>>3717682
Fighting him
>>
>>3717682
It's a deal.
>>
>>3717699
>>3717706
I bet you guys were same ones crying how you’d literally sacrifice anything to save Daegal, and now you’re balking when we’re presented with a similar choice for Hecate. Fucking hypocrites.
>>
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>>3717587
>>3717592
>>3717617
>>3717622
>>3717631
>>3717675
>>3717684
>>3717694

The Helix Gauntlet irises open, one last time. This close, the light of the Nihl Spheres bathe the room – the high, rising song of power drowning out almost all else.

Your fingers close on the Nihl Sphere. For a moment, the Helix Gauntlet resists – As if, after so long, it is reluctant to yield up it's prize. But then silent mechanisms disengage.

And then the Nihl Sphere is in your hand.

It is larger, now. Large enough to fill your palm.

Cold, like nothing else you've ever seen in the world. A cold that reaches all the way to the marrow.

Pazuzu waits. He leans on his staff, his hand extended. As if he's been waiting for ever.

The moment lingers. For the stretching eternity between one thundering second and the next, the Nihl Sphere seems to hang in the air-

-As it passes from your hand, into Pazuzu's.

It is in his hand before it ever leaves yours. Before he catches it, he has already turned away, though he still faces you and will forever.

It does not land. Instead, it hovers above those fleshless fingers – A low sound, a sound that merges a creak and a sigh, coming from deep, deep within.

Pazuzu releases the Crux, the black-braided shape seemingly crumbling to dust. He reaches up, to his false eye – His fingers turning in the socket, like a key.

There is a click.

It comes free. Now, the Eyes of Night floats above his hands – their atonal hum rising, rising, to the crescendo of a song.

At last.

JOKER, Pazuzu says, finally. Violet light radiates around him. For a moment, you think he might move to the attack-

But he does not. He merely stands, as the crackling radiance swells to fill the world.

THANK YOU, JOKER.

And then the power comes.

Worms of violet light play up and down the walls of the chamber. Sparks of multicolored radiance earth into the void. You can feel something at the very edge of perception, the rotation that threatens a storm – Winds, rising in the realm beyond. In two worlds at once.

Impossible color swells to fill your vision. Glyphs scrawl themselves into the air, as graceful and smooth as brushstrokes. They burn with fire so black that your eye cannot hold them – they shift and twist and shimmery and crawl, making patterns in the air, sucking light from the world...

Thorns of light crackle in the air. They coil around Hecate's Cradle, in an embrace. Radiance dances-

And for a moment – just a moment - the opaque swirl of dark mist within the Cradle clears.

You see her. She lies within, her eyes closed as if she is merely sleeping – Dreaming an endless, tranquil dream. For one moment, you see Tsukimi's face, wan, drawn – then Hecate's, flush with life, overlaid over her own. She looks achingly vulnerable, achingly alive – the mist alive with swirls of radiant light, like the petals of strewn flowers...

(Continued)
>>
>>3717735
>I bet you guys were same ones crying how you’d literally sacrifice anything to save Daegal, and now you’re balking when we’re presented with a similar choice for Hecate.

>Joker sets out to save Daegal
>Does anything to save him
>Saves him

>Rook, Haze and Akira set out to stop Pazuzu
>Die trying to stop him
>Joker helps Pazuzu
>>
>>3717755
Conveniently forgetting the entire reason Joker went after Pazuzu in the first place was revenge for Hecate.

And now we have a real shot of getting her back.

Now, I’d understand if you were against it for giving up the Nihl Sphere but the fact you never mentioned it at all means you’re unwilling to swallow a bit of damn pride to get what we were aiming for this entire time.
>>
>>3717755
To be fair, in the first place the only purpose of infiltrating the Diadem was to satisfy Joker and Rook's murderboners.
The Harvesting already happened by that point, so we couldn't really stop the ship or save anyone by boarding it.
If really cared about saving people, we would have just joined everyone else in breaking the Shield as quickly as possible and fucking off.
>>
>>3717741

Pazuzu's robes smolder. Flecks of ash take flight, those fleshless arms beginning to tremble from the effort. Your sensors register impossible readings – They tell you that the room is at absolute zero and hotter than the surface of the sun, all at once. They tell you of a vast outpouring of energies.

You hear-

A chirring cackle. The Nihl Spheres shine with furious light, scoring marks in the stone – Echoes of the data-chains that coil and unful around Pazuzu.

Pazuzu's head is thrown back. A monotone howl rips from him. A jagged violet spark spears out of his open mouth, arcs up, arcs down, strikes the Cradle. There is a dull grinding sound – a painful meshing of gears. Lightning crackles around his horned regalia, blasting everything and nothing at once. The Cradle's frame begins to rattle, phantom colors and images swelling to fill the world-

Too much rides on this moment. You are trapped by it. Hanging between fear and hope.

Pazuzu howls. His body convulses. Thick streams of violet lightning wreathe him, carving deep gouges into the walls, as everything becomes a whirlwind of light and hammering air. Black dust begins to puff out of the cracks, the shadows thickening, writhing as they draw closer-

He lifts off the ground. He seems suspended, a blazing figure, crucified on a cross of violet light. The Nihl Spheres tremble, incandescent like the hearts of suns.

> FOREBOD-

And then he turns the power on you.

The force of it strikes you, head-on. Arcing lightning curves towards your Aegis amulet and explodes it, white-hot iron splinters flying in all directions. The invisible power slams into you, pinning you to the wall, as odd script coils around you – And you see exactly what the blasts from earlier were doing. In long, threading lines, they were engraving the beginnings of a grand invocation, greater than anything you've ever seen.

Hecate's Cradle flares, and you see only white light through the glass, obscuring what lies within-

There is a metallic shriek. A solid beam of unspeakable radiance links you to Pazuzu. The force is inexorable, as it pins you in place – It doesn't hurt. There is no pain. It is simply utterly and completely alien, utterly and completely unstoppable.

Grey light shines through the joints in your armor. Seems to shine even through the metal. You are a single bright spot in a spreading ink stain in reality.

ERROR

ERROR ERROR ERROR

The wall cracks behind you. New glyphs, new symbols, are etched around your form. You are at the heart of a light-bloom, a malignant supernova that writhes and takes form – You see nothing but the energy spike that bisects your vision, as writhing violet-and-gold light encircles you-

(Continued)
>>
>>3717781
Told you fucks we couldn't trust him
>>
>>3717809
Hey, now we can kill him like you murderhobos wanted this whole time. Have at it.
>>
Bunch of goddamn retards.
This isn't white knight quest , this is joker quest. As if pazuzu would forgive us for destory get his plans and nearly killing him. Stealing Hecate, and genuinely being a thorn in his side. Fools first the arm and now this. Hang your heads in shame
>>
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>>3717781

Burning into you. Bringing what is within to the surface.

Something cold unfolds inside you, wrapping around your bones. Your crimson armor, fading to grey-

Your armor is changing. Between one beat and the next, the pulse of the black heart within you-

-Stops.

The Carnifex comes free, with a jerk and a crunch of violated mechanisms. It clatters to the ground, rotating like the spinner in a child's game. There is an unmerciful contortion, too abrupt to be painful-

You hear glass splinter, shattering, as the air fills with a blizzard of flying shards...

The light blasts your world away.

...

..

.

For the first few seconds, there is nothing. Consciousness – and the shock of the real – returns in a surge. You are sprawled on the ground, all strength sucked from you, your hands-

-Your hand scratching at the ground.

Human. Out of the Red, and into the real-

Your form flickers, caught between states, that hyper-awareness lingering, fluctuating-

RED-

No.

FRO-

You barely glimpsed it, but it was there.

Not red. Gunmetal grey.

Not the Red Joker, but – Frost Cestus.

You're FROST CESTUS again.

Before you – Preservation fluid sloshes from the Cradle. Dreadfully pale, Tsukimi lies where she has fallen, her shift clinging to her wasted limbs. Beads of moisture glisten like gems in her black hair.

Somehow, somehow, your arms are around her. Her skin is cold to the touch.

Above you, Pazuzu hovers – Corospant crawling across his robes, his regal shadow falling across both of you. He gestures; the wall tears apart, behind him. His fleshless face looks down upon you, for a long, long moment, as the skies flicker red and black beyond.

Two worlds, each with the same roiling sky.

And he says:

I GIVE YOU YOUR LIVES.

FAREWELL, JOKER.

(Continued)
>>
>>3717835

Softer, almost a whisper:

FAREWELL, HECATE.

The air tears open. A vertical gash, swirling violet radiance beyond – It hangs in the space beyond the wall, now open to the night. The wind moans, as Pazuzu is drawn back, back into the portal; the Nihl Spheres flaring with renewed light, as the tear close around him in a final thunderclap.

A moment of silence.

Then, you hear the shouts. Then, alarms begin to ring – Medical alerts going off, like sirens.

In the distance – Slowly, majestically, looming above the skyline – you see the great, crooked spire of the Halcyon Tower burst into flames. Fire swirls skyward, as the vast structure comes down like an avalanche. Level after level folds, storey after storey collapsing, the overwhelming noise – distant though it might be – beating against you like a physical force. A vast quantity of dust billows into the air.

The limp form cradled in your arms – arm – stirs.

A cough. Another. Oxygen-rich fluids dribble down her chin, joining the stains that darken her white shift.

You look down – And Tsukimi's eyes, achingly familiar, meet yours.

The faintest shadow of a voice:

“Joker...kun...?”

JOKER (?) QUEST

EPISODE 164

TO BE CONTINUED
>>
>>3717881
(Gentlemen, this was a great episode. Unfortunately, it's extremely late for me: Good night, and God bless. I'll check back in on the thread later, when I wake up.)

(Please note that you have been reduced to your Frost Cestus form. Your inventory, other than the Crux and the Carnifex, has been locked. You remain unable to use your right arm, except in Carnifex mode.)

(There are more details, but I'll clarify them in the next thread.)
>>
>>3717885
I'm glad you had fun, JQOP. Sleep well and God bless you, too.
>>
>>3717885
Guess Pazuzu couldn’t leave without at least one parting shot to make life more difficult.
>>
>>3717835
>>3717881
Well, colour me confused
What did he just do?
>>
>>3717902
Loaded away all of our weapons, Relics and skills as the Red Joker.

But was kind enough to leave us with only a single arm to punch things.
>>
>>3717902
He honored his word and revived Hecate before fucking off for good, but not without one last middle finger.

He was somehow able to remove the Red Joker armor from us and we are now back to our original form, Frost Cestus.

My big prediction is that the RJ armor got locked out or hidden away somewhere and Hecate will play a role in getting it back.
>>
>>3717885
What the fuck is happening
>>
>>3717885
The thought occurs to me that if we're (hopefully temporarily) not the Red Joker, we might be able to become the new White Joker if we kill Naoya.
>>
>>3717911
>>3717921
Well, shit. Should have anticipated that he was too petty to just fuck off. Also, Halycon Tower just exploded.

In any case:
No way to find Naoya
No Red Joker powers
No Golgotha
No Nihl Sphere
No Right Arm
And Naoya is summoning the Black Joker RIGHT NOW

The situation has become interesting
>>
>>3717885
you know what? fuck it. not even mad.

god I hope Kazuya's alive.

Fuck PAZUZU eternally.
>>
>>3718101
Well, we still do have our right arm, technically. We still have access to the Carnifex.

And considering OP says the inventory is "locked" and not "gone" leads me to believe the Red Joker armor is not truly gone. It'll be interesting to see what getting it back involves.
>>
At least we managed to get a girl back, for once.
Let's not have her killed/seperated from us again.
>>
>>3717957
HOW are you going to kill Naoya without our powers?
>>
>>3718254
Yeah, the one good point in all this. However much of a dickhead Pazazu is, he at least didn't forswear himself. He bought her back, just like he said he would.

Hell of a good part. Almost makes up for all the shit we're going to have to deal with next.
>>
>>3718200
It's simple. We just need to gattai with Tsukimi!
>>
>>3719095
He didn't even kill us! He could have done it effortlessly, but he let us live. He could totally kill us or abduct Hecate, but he really did heal her.

That's the craziest thing. Were we really fighting him for over one hundred chapters over a woman?
>>
>>3717902
(Your upgrades and abilities - as well as your inventory - have been entirely sealed away. You retain the Carnifex and the Crux, as well as your Crisis Arm / Cestus and related abilities.)

(Everything else is currently inaccessible.)
>>
Really.
>>
Holy shit.
I can't help but laugh my ass off.

My assumption? He transferred the armor to Tsukimi to awaken her, similar to how we gave Daegal to Kazuya.
>>
Is the thread already archived?
>>
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>>3719859
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>>3719379
I think Fuma's just a broken man, his way of thinking Is warped, but maybe he never Intended to be the villain from his point of view, just too desperate to care about something like morality.

I get the feeling that things are going to get Interesting, and I trust OP. If anything, this will be a bittersweet badend, at worst.

At best? No, this Isn't over. Not yet.

I think that yes, we were just two broken men fighting over a girl. He's an asshole for being willing to sacrifice all of those people to get to his heaven, for leading so many to the slaughter, he can't say he didn't know what he was doing, what he was enabling. But you know what? It's already done, he's already got It and he gave us what we really wanted, what we've really been looking for the entire quest. Hecate. Now we just have to fight to keep what's left.

He let us live because he wants her to be happy, and I suppose he understood too well what we'd been fighting him for, so perhaps he couldn't blame us for what we'd done to him.

>>3719806
Oh my god. I'm trying to Imagine Hecate as the Joker. At least let her keep what we had If she won't, If she can't give It back.
>>
Well shit. Glad i was here for this legendary moment in JQ. A.L was here
>>
So right after getting a huge update to the armory guide and unlocking a bunch of shit, our armory is suddenly shrunken down to less than an eighth or so.

And we aren't just downgraded to Frost Cestus, we are downgraded to Frost Cestus without a Cestus. Possibly without even our entropy field.
>>
>>3720592
>implying he made that entire character sheet so we CAN'T use it.
We'll get it back.
>>
>>3719806
>>3720018
THis can't be it, we can still use the Carnifex which only Jokers can use.
>>
>>3720592
Oh yeah, our build is more crippled than it has ever been, frankly. We can't do shit to Naoya and his goons until we get the Joker armour back.
>>
I WAS HERE

Holy fucking shit I'm laughing my ass off, we simply can't ever get a good break
>>
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Well, for one I'm happy this image no longer applies and we finally have something to show for all the fighting we've done. But on the other hand, jesus fuck you guys, she gave her life trying to prevent Pazuzu's plot and saving us and in the end we do the opposite: complete Pazuzu's plan in exchange for her life. I don't think she'll be very pleased once she hears of what we've done.

I was pissed as fuck since I missed the thread but after thinking about it, we did fail to stop it at every step of the way: the Shroud went down and the harvest succeeded, our motley band of hijackers failed to stop Phantom Edge from unleashing the true form of the Fatal Abyss and not even a QSC was enough to destabilize the Diadem. It just grinds my gears a bit after we've spent all this time fighting the Smilers to just....let it go like this. Can't blame y'all for being disheartened and tired after so long, and with a more pressing issue (Naoya and BJ) to deal with. I guess Pazuzu really won this iteration of the "game" by holding out til the end.

I just hope we do have some way to effectively fight Naoya without the RJ armor, my personal guess is that Pazuzu hit us with a uber buffed version of EXEC_DISRUPT, having the two Nihl Eyes might allow even the impossible against the RJ armor.
>>
>>3721552
Anon, we did succeed though.
>QSC destroyed Fatal Abyss and PE, forcing Pazuzu to negotiate for the eye or die
>Killed most of the Smilers and managed to save a chunk of the City
>prevented the entire city from being destroyed
>saved everyone who was trapped in the Diadem raid

Wata and the originals are at fault for focusing on the Chalice Queen competition instead of the Smilers but it would be incorrect to say we failed.
>>
>>3721552
She wanted to prevent the harvest. We already failed at doing that, so continuing the conflict with Pazazu serves no purpose when he is already intending to literally just fuck off into space and never come back.

Picking a fight with him and the rest of his fanatical goons would have fucked us over as well, with the added downside that he probably would have killed Hecate. Also, consider: When you kill the leader of aforementioned fanatical goons, what, exactly, do you think those goons are going to then try to do? The ones which don't charge us outright are going to go over to Naoya's team by default.
>>
>>3721606
Tbf, Wata and the old guard were permanently confused on what mood they wanted to be

>>3720523
We are all witnesses anon. M.Q was here
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>>3720592
I may be exceedingly optimistic In my thinking, but somehow I don't think Pazuzu locked us out of our Joker armor just to be petty. If he wanted us to die, he'd have just killed us. He could have once he had the eye. In these circumstances what he did *should* be a death sentence, so why? Us dying won't make Hecate happy, and he knows that.

There's some greater purpose to what he did, I think. It sounds Insane that I've come to find myself wanting to defend Pazuzu of all people, but I really don't think this Is meant to hurt us, at least that Isn't the main point.

Somehow, this Is going to end up working In our favor very soon, or at least this was necessary to complete the revival somehow. Either way, I look forward to the following threads to find out.

>>3719413
Currently gentlemen, just currently. Believe.
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>>3721800
No, it makes perfect sense really. He had the strength to kill us with how juiced he was but instead he knocks down our armor to Cestus for some reason while enscribing it with code. If he wanted to kill us, he could have just blasted or melted us or done something less esoterric.

Maybe it had something to do with Hecate or maybe he saw being the Red Joker as a curse and he wanted to give us our life back. Whatever it was, there's no need to go so esoteric if he just wanted to kill us.
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>>3721874
I think he might have done it so we wouldn't be tempted to just shot him in the back when he leaves.
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>>3722619
Why not just kill us then
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>>3722739
I have a feeling that getting hit with a ton of essence will reverse this.
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>>3722739
Well he did say he gave us our lives. Doesn't mean he wouldn't take precautions.
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>>3723494
Yeah but he just could have teleported away
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>>3719413
OP, have we been reverted to lvl 1 Frost Cestus or the high level Frost Cestus who met the Marshall in the Black?
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>>3711155
>>3717819
You know I was thinking about these posts and it made me laugh; the murderhobos and edgefags are responsible for most of the good ideas in the quest
>Left Imago alive
>Left Utopia Ruler alive
>Killed Bell Zypher by swapping her with us so Rust would smash her
>Said from the start to spend less time on waifus, more time in the Red
>Urged us to start killing all of the Smilers as soon as we could rather than the retarded frenemy shit Wata and others had us do
>Always were anti-honour fag fighting and encouraged us to win as quickly and as completely as we could
>Urged to stay away from Prominence and Sterling Silver who are ultimately the ones most responsible for the Diadem harvest due to their negligence; if they'd listened to Joker after the Hive Raid, this wouldn't have happened
>Said to put the Athame in

They've almost always been right.
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>>3723494
I kind of take giving us our livess back as relieving us of the responsibilty of being the Red Joker. He likely though he was doing us and Tsukimi a favor; we would no longer have to fight Naoya and the Black Joker and could just live seeing how we got the girl we love back. He really didn't understand Anon very well it seems.
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>>3725114
I personally wonder how Hecate's going to react. We didn't actually know her very well. Being out of the loop for all this is going to be weird.

OP has confirmed she's physically older than us, too. More, Tsukimi is ill, physically atrophied and probably suffering a lot of complications. Is she even a Player, without the Nihl Sphere?
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>>3725114
I took it as 'I could kill you, but I won't: Take your lives and go'
Because while I do think there is something ulterior here, Pazazu is still a dickhead.
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>>3725316
I think in a weird sick way, he knows Hecate loves us. So he spares us, because killing us would upset her. This puts a lot of his actions in a new context, since it humanizes him a lot.

Can I say I'm really glad Tsukimi is actually a woman, and a fairly attractive one? I was worried she would be a guy, or a really old woman.
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>>3725325
did anybody actually think this through or know what the fuck they were voting for? it sounds like basically no one did
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>>3725761
Yes. It was a very simple decision

>Give Pazazu his eye in exchange for A) Hecate and B) His fucking off into space forever and dragging every remaining Smiler with him
>Fight Pazazu and whatever trick he has in store, every remaining Smiler tries to kill us for the rest of the quest
The question, I suppose, was how much each person who voted trusted Pazazu to not fuck us over. Some believed he was completely on the level. Some believed he was completely lying. In the end, it was kind of both. He pulled a total dick move, especially right now in zero hour, but he didn't actually lie to us. He did what was promised, returned Hecate to life and fucked off into space forever.
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>>3726535
But nobody put any thought into what to do with Hecate and Mio and some canons didn't even know she's 21~ years old compared to our 17
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>>3726578
It's quite interesting that /qst/ is actually really bad at playing the whole anime protagonist thing. Every time, we fail and just punch our way forward. Literally the only thing we're really good at is killing people.
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