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"Flanked by a Few Competitors", 3.6.17 "Dreamworks Beekeep Redistributables" New
“It’s assuming I have resources at my disposal, Doctor.” Bolypius begins. “My programming is a nurtured/cultivated sort.”

“If I weren’t able to make your acquaintance. I’d probably be relying on plixel recycling of other glitches, or cannibalizing Hinobi consoles if I got desperate. Though I’d rather not, since I’m my current form I can’t disable their warranty-crawlers. And they’d probably figure out where I am. It’d take me possibly months, or maybe even years to return to full power. But if everything goes accordingly, and you have the resources you had whenever you went looking for me, a 2 week recovery period isn’t unreasonable for me to return to at least some semblance of normalcy.”
It explains. “Right now, I can’t keep a charge. My body is literally cannibalizing itself trying to support me. My physical ability is only around a 6 or 7th level glitch.”

“Whenever I was contained, the remains of the lynchpin were still embedded in my head. Even now I’m still healing from the wound, despite the fact that it looks scarred over. It’s why I’m constantly depleting energy at an unsustainable rate. My stabilization code is damaged, ergo, how they managed to bypass my regeneration and omnilock.” It explains. “It has taken me multiple years to eliminate the remains of the lynchpin itself, and multiple years after that to repair even a small amount of the damage. Likewise, I was mostly focused on eliminating the vast amount of status effects that the attack inflicted. The weapon was made to harm me, after all.” Bolypius continued to describe the situation.

“If I could describe it, I’d liken it to nursing a wound while in a drunken stupor, floating in a vat with no sense of up or down. It was only after the third or fourth year in containment that I could even see things again.”

“Regardless, it’s finally been removed from my body, and I’m still repairing my code as best that I can. But like I said, it would go a lot smoother if I had more material to work with.”



“I’m in no condition for frontline combat right now. I’ll admit that. I was playing fast and loose in the moment when I aimed to fight the local tech team, more than willing to end up reducing into a specter because of what I perceived was a noble sacrifice. Compassion is something I haven’t felt for any glitch in a while, and it was a shock to see that part of myself in anything.” It explains the Elektrixr situation. “I know Hinobi, or at least I thought I did. They wouldn’t think twice about locking up or chaining down something else like me.”

“But what I do have is 50 years of dealing with them, that’s 50 years of high octane, attrition, guerilla, and open combat against the group that’s the largest threat to you. There’s only a slim doubt in my mind they’ll try the old tactics on you before they start coming up with new things. But I’ve seen all of those old tactics before. And I’ve had a long time to figure out a counter to each one.”

“It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. I offer you invaluable experience and insight, and you offer to keep me safe and make sure I can recover. If either of us doesn’t hold up our end of the deal, we’re both going to meet an untimely demise. Hinobi is not to be underestimated, even if they have a tendency to act with predictable goals in mind. Because it’s about drive and power. Even if you see a train coming, you might not be able to stop it without the right equipment.”

Dr. X somehow looked unamused. "And vhat good iz zat when you clearly zeem miztaken about ze size of zis vorld?"

"Exactly. Hinobi has been big for decades, but they were never alone. Do you even know what else we were doing in that area?" Sirius asked.

"Never mind zhat, zhe point is zhat zhere are OTHERS. You have probably even led zhe forces of Blume right to our doorztep, and zhat's before we get to whatever group zhoze 'IOI' intruders act on behalf of."

“I see. I was not aware of that. My last encounter was with two oddly skilled Hinobi employees, a recurring theme in my imprisonment, it seems. I've been in that situation every time, as it was part of my original code that I could only be defeated by two coordinated players.”

Bolypius had left out something it never told anyone; It had grown beyond that part of its programming long ago, it no longer pulled punches for a pair of players that it had originally been programmed to only attack one target at a time.

“My knowledge of Blume is unsatisfactory, but I have no allegiance to any such entity. Why would I lead them here?”

Dr. X frowned. "Have you ever heard the vord 'authoritarianizm'? Cameras. Cameras everywhere. Ve vent to great lengths to avoid getting caught. Zhis town vas one of zhe only places left in zhe vorld vith no cameras. Now, as of two hourz ago, zhat iz no longer true."

“Where and when are we, if I may ask?”

"Ve are not entirely zhure. Zuppozedly ve are in anozher vorld from zhe ones we came from." Dr. X said to keep his 'allies' in the dark while not doing so for Bolypius. "Zhe people of zhis vorld believe zhe year is 2028 and zhat zhey are 'more real' zhan ve are."

“I suppose some things really do never change.”

"Zhis is Grand Forks, British Columbia. Ve learned quickly once ve could easily access zheir networks. Zhey put everything on zheir computers, fools! Anyvhey, zhat is how ve gave ourselves drivers' licenzes."

“May I see one of these computers? I am curious how things have changed since 2020.”

Dr. X pointed to the three gaming PCs on a tri-partitioned table that allowed three people to play PC games with some degree of privacy for a fee. "Zhose are common. Or zhere is... the Hiverse."

"What is this... Hiverse?"

Yukhoe huffed impatiently. Dr. X, however, shushed him. "Remember, our visitor may not know the NOW, Yukhoe, but ve do not underztand zhis world's past. Ve should show its' wisdom some respect, zo be a good host."

"They figured out how to share their fancy toys without anyone finding out where they came from." Sirius explained, pointing to a case with old game consoles. Bolypius took a closer look.

Among them was a Merchantsoft Hypnospace headband, which hadn't been usable since Hypnospace was shut down in 2000 after the Y2K mindcrash killed 3 people.

"No one has Gauntlets except technicians, but everyone has lenses that explain away what they see long enough to be easily memory wiped. That includes something that was last attempted in the 1990s, some sort of 'virtual reality in dreams', whatever that is supposed to imply." Sirius briefed Bolypius.

Bolypius opened the digital lock on the case with what little power it had, and then absorbed the data stored within the headband. Suddenly it seemed extremely distressed.

"Computers. Humans are COMPUTERS, made of MEAT, piloting MEAT PUPPETS. I MUST UNSEE!"

"What is he going on about?" Madame Vile complained.

"You are Glitches, how do you not see the HORROR of humans' existence?"

"Is he implying that brat who bothered Shinobi Man was telling the truth?" Sirius asked.

Dr. X seemed unfazed as usual, always one with a plan in the works. In reality, it was a poker face, Dr. X already knew he was a Glitch but he had to keep all these idiots in the dark if he wanted any hope of succeeding. For reasons he had yet to uncover, Bolypius' sapience was contagious, and though Bolypius wasn't aware at the time, Dr. X had been there when Bolypius had been defeated by those two Technicians who came to Spokane to do battle with it. Yes, the girl with purple hair and the boy who loved plans, from some small town in Washington State simply referred to in Hinobi's records by the location handle "Bailey" to protect the identities of employees. With the actual name of "Bailey" obscured, it would likely never be known where exactly "Bailey" was, but major cities like Spokane were not in the same boat due to their size serving as a suitable buffer for protecting the identities of current and past Technicians.

Regardless, those two moved on from that, and were currently responsible for Hinobi having a Heel Realization and turning to the Light Side of the Force Feedback as Senior Techs in the Seattle-Tacoma metrobelt.

"If zhat iz zhe case, we would merely be machines. Do you think you're only a machine, Colonel? No offense, Snare. Clearly zhis information means zhat Hinobi must be mistaken."

The expression on Bolypius' face changed, its eyes blanking for a moment.
It moved its hands up to its face, facing away from the other glitches in the room and seemingly removed the front portion of its own head, revealing it was some sort of emotive mask, they could only just barely see the edge of its real face, which was completely black aside from the slim glow of its eyes.

“A computer composed of its own self sustaining components, sentience produced by pure evolutionary force…. We’re not unlike each other in that way… in fact we’re nearly identical…”

“…But that’s even worse.”

“If humans and I are nearly the same. They’ve made the choice to try and contain me for being something they consider incorrect… it’s…”

“Oppressive… hypocritical… they don’t even want to be in their own bodies… they realize it… I wouldn’t want to either…”

“I’ve been too compassionate…”
 
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"Flanked by a Few Competitors", 3.7.1 "THIS HOTFIX UPDATE IS BROUGHT TO YOU ISEUL-T! TRANSCENDING REALITIES! THE BIAS WRECKER!" New
(( RP paused while I get up to date. In the meantime, I'm adding the "equal pacing" rule we agreed on. ))

Each post for the RP must be followed by a minimum of either... 1) A post by me as the GM (so an NPC or environmental change, not just for my character) and a threadmark on your post by me, 2) a post by one of the other players you're interacting with and a cookie from them, or 3) a post by one of the other players (including me as my character) and a cookie and threadmark by me.
(( MisterEightySix MisterEightySix Lord Moldoma Lord Moldoma Sir loin of beef Sir loin of beef hauntedbythewendigo hauntedbythewendigo Okay, we're unpaused! I'll type something right away for 86 and wendigo specifically. Stay tuned. Remember the new pacing rule is now in effect; this means the latest post you respond to must have a higher "version number" in its' threadmark than your last response as that character. Currently, that means MisterEightySix must have HardModeWarez/Hum respond to a post of at least 3.6.10, hauntedbythewendigo must have Elextrixtr and Pentifer respond to a post of at least 3.6.11, Sir Loin must have the Council or Spike and Bulldog respond to a post of 3.6.16, Lord Moldoma must have Alice/ZoeIRL respond to a post of 3.6.15 or higher - or have Bolypius respond to a post of 3.6.17 or higher - next, and finally I cannot post as in-universe Gadg8eer unless the response is to a post of 3.3.19 or higher (but will likely be asleep all night so expect him to not show up for a while).

Also, for the sake of continued potential for separation, PLEASE keep a response by one character separate from any characters who are not currently present in SEPARATE posts so that I am able to sort by plotline. I worked around it with all the previous posts, but from now on keep lengthy OOC to the OOC thread and only put a single short post with "(( double brackets ))" format in the IC thread if you need to do so, and keep characters in different groups in separate posts. ))
 
"Flanked by a Few Competitors", 3.7.3 "WE'RE BACK!" New
(Alice is sleeping. What the heck do you want her to do, have a nightmare? She’s 60,000 feet up in the air and she sucks at talking to people.)

(( That occurred to me before I saw your post while preparing to edit my post, but yes. I'm sorry, I didn't want that thing on the Guilded server to make things worse but it did. I'll let you propose a good series of events to get her back in the story on Guilded or via the OOC topic, otherwise I have ideas but I kind of need to give wendigo more focus and 86 is annoyed he never got to do a train fight. ))
 
"Flanked by a Few Competitors", 3.7.3 "WE'RE BACK!" - GitHive Issue #13: "[SUGGESTION] Traintop battle?" New
(( That occurred to me before I saw your post while preparing to edit my post, but yes. I'm sorry, I didn't want that thing on the Guilded server to make things worse but it did. I'll let you propose a good series of events to get her back in the story on Guilded or via the OOC topic, otherwise I have ideas but I kind of need to give wendigo more focus and 86 is annoyed he never got to do a train fight. ))
((I have Posted a Proposal in the Guilded Server that I believe can give 86 the Train Fight he wants.))
 
03 - "Juan of Arcade" (GTX: GNU Forks, s1e03) New
(Nope, won't happen. The absolutely unavoidable stuff is done now. hauntedbythewendigo hauntedbythewendigo We should take this opportunity and do our scene for a while so we're caught up with the flow of the rest of the plot.)

Meanwhile, a little while ago...

Hum stumbled a little as he made his landing on one of the rail cars on the other line, and watched the train slow to its unusual, pixelated stop.

"Well, so much for my shining moment," he grumbled, dusting off his windbreaker. He patted the pocket containing the HCP he had been about to use when Elextrixtr had started fiddling with the controls. "Don't worry, you'll get your chance."

He climbed over the guard rail on the side of the rail car in question and looked in Elextrixtr's direction as he started to climb down to the ground. "I'm gonna go find Pentifer before he gets himself into trouble. You coming? The sooner this situation is wrapped up, the sooner I can get home and get some sleep."

With that, he jumped down and started hurrying back along the tracks, muttering something about contractors not getting paid overtime.

"Well, why wouldn't I come along?!" Elextrixtr sassily remarked, getting ready to run as fast and far as she could.

Far ahead of the track, they saw a clearly disoriented figure- Pentifer. Jeez, that sudden launch must've taken a lot out of him.

With him was DPortEd and iQ. "We let him know the whole story, he's definitely as smart as Bolypius, just not a liability like him. I'm supposed to tell Hinobi but lets just say our email server has been 'acting up' lately and pretend he's human. Poor guy just realized he's been real and self-aware for less than 24 hours, talk about an existential quandry." DPortEd explained.

"Um, there's... one other thing. If we're going to hide him, we need to do it with resources already at our disposal or we might get caught." iQ explained. "We, um... We registered him as a tech to hide his PLixel signature from the Hinobi Glitch Positioning System, but we had to bypass the tutorial requirement because the training holodeck won't register him as human unless he's already an official Tech. He has no experience but... um, his game is all about catching and reaping the souls of the wicked, so... Can you guys train him?" he asked Elextrixtr and HardModeWarez.

"If you need to get him into the field to do it, the bylaw officer says there's something fishy going on at the new arcade on 3rd." DPortEd added.

"On 3rd what?" Hum responded.

"3rd Street? The place called 'Arcade Land' or something?" DPortEd tried to explain. "Okay, I don't know what he's talking about either but he says an arcade just opened up on 3rd Street and I checked the radar before we left but all this took longer than I expected- Never mind. The point is, there's a hotspot of Glitch activity coming from 7537 3rd Street and everyone except you three has been up all night working overtime."
 
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# Spike and Bulldog Variable Query New
(( MisterEightySix MisterEightySix Lord Moldoma Lord Moldoma Sir loin of beef Sir loin of beef hauntedbythewendigo hauntedbythewendigo Okay, we're unpaused! I'll type something right away for 86 and wendigo specifically. Stay tuned. Remember the new pacing rule is now in effect; this means the latest post you respond to must have a higher "version number" in its' threadmark than your last response as that character. Currently, that means MisterEightySix must have HardModeWarez/Hum respond to a post of at least 3.6.10, hauntedbythewendigo must have Elextrixtr and Pentifer respond to a post of at least 3.6.11, Sir Loin must have the Council or Spike and Bulldog respond to a post of 3.6.16, Lord Moldoma must have Alice/ZoeIRL respond to a post of 3.6.15 or higher - or have Bolypius respond to a post of 3.6.17 or higher - next, and finally I cannot post as in-universe Gadg8eer unless the response is to a post of 3.3.19 or higher (but will likely be asleep all night so expect him to not show up for a while).

Also, for the sake of continued potential for separation, PLEASE keep a response by one character separate from any characters who are not currently present in SEPARATE posts so that I am able to sort by plotline. I worked around it with all the previous posts, but from now on keep lengthy OOC to the OOC thread and only put a single short post with "(( double brackets ))" format in the IC thread if you need to do so, and keep characters in different groups in separate posts. ))
((where were we In the Spike and Bulldog Plot?))
 
# Spike and Bulldog Variable should be within the range below or return NULL New
((where were we In the Spike and Bulldog Plot?))
(( We kind of weren't. The flashback was just to introduce them and then I realized anything beyond that couldn't have happened before Zoe first met my character in the second post ever of the RP. BUT! They can tag along with the other three while I come up with something for Zoe and in-verse Gadge. It would be a good way to flesh them out beyond "those two guys"/"gamers on a couch webcomic protagonists". Eliza and Erwin too, I have some inklings of ideas to develop. ))
 
# Bug fixed; Comments should no longer be assigned accidental/redundant version number New
(( We kind of weren't. The flashback was just to introduce them and then I realized anything beyond that couldn't have happened before Zoe first met my character in the second post ever of the RP. BUT! They can tag along with the other three while I come up with something for Zoe and in-verse Gadge. It would be a good way to flesh them out beyond "those two guys"/"gamers on a couch webcomic protagonists". Eliza and Erwin too, I have some inklings of ideas to develop. ))
((Sweet!))
 
"Juan of Arcade", 4.1 "Progress Browser for Megamass Portals XP" New
"Sounds like we've both been there, but I swear I've done my best to not lie to you and to come clean about Biotechnica and CheatGenKey without breaking OpSec." she said. "It's going to be a bit of a long flight, feel free to fall asleep."

(( Naptime for Alice! ))
As Alice drifted off, Dee opened up an AugReal VidWindow to contact someone. "Hey, Jack? I need to hire a RipperDoc. Who have you got that's near?"

Alice became conscious to realized she was standing on her feet, in what seemed to be a small room with glowing grey walls and no exits. A small, late 1990s beige desktop PC was placed on a rigid glowing pink surface about the size of a desk but which seemed to hover at just the right height to type and click standing up. As she finished coming back to her senses, she noticed that the PC was not turned on and the mouse and keyboard did not have cables as would be expected of such outdated equipment, and that somehow she was in the form of her BeeTuber persona...

 
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"Juan of Arcade", 4.1.1 "Progress Browser for Megamass Portals XP" New
Looking down at her hands, Zoe briefly moved them up to her face and through her hair, grabbing onto her horns briefly. "D-Did I die and reincarnate in my player-character? I-Is this an isekai? Did the plane crash?" She looked around almost worriedly before sighing. "Oof.. If that's the case then... What a relief... If there's some sort of deity up there who did this, my only last request is that Dee gives Gadg8 my regards."

"But... I couldn't fucking breathe there and the whole place stunk of human greed... O-On earth I mean... Those few moments with Dee were... Okay... and the Glitch Tech stuff almost let me forget... But I had to leave my fucking house and I was already on a downward trend." She approached the PC and looked at the screen, it was blank, off, as stated prior.

"It's being around other people that bothers me. I don't like them seeing my real body. Or what was my real body I guess." She looked for an on-off button, and simultaneously for any identifying marks on the monitor.
 
"Juan of Arcade", 4.1.2 "Progress Browser for Megamass Portals XP" New
Looking down at her hands, Zoe briefly moved them up to her face and through her hair, grabbing onto her horns briefly. "D-Did I die and reincarnate in my player-character? I-Is this an isekai? Did the plane crash?" She looked around almost worriedly before sighing. "Oof.. If that's the case then... What a relief... If there's some sort of deity up there who did this, my only last request is that Dee gives Gadg8 my regards."

"But... I couldn't fucking breathe there and the whole place stunk of human greed... O-On earth I mean... Those few moments with Dee were... Okay... and the Glitch Tech stuff almost let me forget... But I had to leave my fucking house and I was already on a downward trend." She approached the PC and looked at the screen, it was blank, off, as stated prior.

"It's being around other people that bothers me. I don't like them seeing my real body. Or what was my real body I guess." She looked for an on-off button, and simultaneously for any identifying marks on the monitor.
The logo on the computer looked relatively normal...

uJRm5HB.png

...and a power button was on the short squat "pizza box" tower's front panel.
 
"Juan of Arcade", 4.1 "Nudle Crane Browser" New
With him was DPortEd and iQ. "We let him know the whole story, he's definitely as smart as Bolypius, just not a liability like him. I'm supposed to tell Hinobi but lets just say our email server has been 'acting up' lately and pretend he's human. Poor guy just realized he's been real and self-aware for less than 24 hours, talk about an existential quandry." DPortEd explained.

"Um, there's... one other thing. If we're going to hide him, we need to do it with resources already at our disposal or we might get caught." iQ explained. "We, um... We registered him as a tech to hide his PLixel signature from the Hinobi Glitch Positioning System, but we had to bypass the tutorial requirement because the training holodeck won't register him as human unless he's already an official Tech. He has no experience but... um, his game is all about catching and reaping the souls of the wicked, so... Can you guys train him?" he asked Elextrixtr and HardModeWarez.

"If you need to get him into the field to do it, the bylaw officer says there's something fishy going on at the new arcade on 3rd." DPortEd added.

"On 3rd what?" Hum responded.

"3rd Street? The place called 'Arcade Land' or something?" DPortEd tried to explain. "Okay, I don't know what he's talking about either but he says an arcade just opened up on 3rd Street and I checked the radar before we left but all this took longer than I expected- Never mind. The point is, there's a hotspot of Glitch activity coming from 7537 3rd Street and everyone except you three has been up all night working overtime."

"Whoa, hold on a minute there. What do you mean, 'except us three'? Don't look me in the eyes and tell me I haven't been putting in overtime, it's the middle of the night," Hum interjected.

"That's for head office to decide, not me," DPortEd said back, "since you went into business for yourself and all. So if you really want in on everything that's happening recently, then I suggest you get moving."

"Okay, fine. Sleep is for the weak anyway. At least we'll get to see what Pentifer is capable of, and I'll get to use... 'that'. Where's the van?"
 
"Juan of Arcade", 4.1.1 "Nudle Crane Browser" New
"Whoa, hold on a minute there. What do you mean, 'except us three'? Don't look me in the eyes and tell me I haven't been putting in overtime, it's the middle of the night," Hum interjected.

"That's for head office to decide, not me," DPortEd said back, "since you went into business for yourself and all. So if you really want in on everything that's happening recently, then I suggest you get moving."

"Okay, fine. Sleep is for the weak anyway. At least we'll get to see what Pentifer is capable of, and I'll get to use... 'that'. Where's the van?"
"Sure, I'll teach the red shape-like being who I'm pretty sure has managed to develop feelings for me within the first two seconds of seeing me." Ele responded to DPortEd, slightly chuckling. She felt something suddenly collide with her and hit the ground before looking down and seeing... ah, there he was.
Pentifer, who had now collided with Elextrixtr, found himself staring up at Elextrixtr with wide eyes.
"...Damn my clumsiness..." he muttered, slightly blushing.
"You good, little buddy?" Elextrixtr asked softly, holding a hand out to help Pentifer up.
(I'm sorry I support the idea of Pentrixtr ship existing)
 
"Juan of Arcade", 4.1.2 "Nudle Crane Browser" New
"Whoa, hold on a minute there. What do you mean, 'except us three'? Don't look me in the eyes and tell me I haven't been putting in overtime, it's the middle of the night," Hum interjected.

"That's for head office to decide, not me," DPortEd said back, "since you went into business for yourself and all. So if you really want in on everything that's happening recently, then I suggest you get moving."

"Okay, fine. Sleep is for the weak anyway. At least we'll get to see what Pentifer is capable of, and I'll get to use... 'that'. Where's the van?"
HardModeWarez, or "Hum" as most people called him, raised a hand in greeting as the van came to a stop.

"Evenin', Dave," Hum said cheerfully, opening the door and leaning half of his body out of the vehicle.
"Hum. Still keeping yourself busy, I see," Ed replied, a twinge of hosility behind his cordial tone. "How'd you get in iQ's van?"
"Dave, please, I know how to turn off the auto-roam, I'm not a TOTAL greenhorn with the software."

Hum hopped out, adjusted the blue windbreaker he was wearing, and closed the door. The windbreaker was unzipped, revealing a black Flunky Quest t-shirt underneath, but other than that, and his apparent taste in high-top sneakers and cargo shorts, he wasn't all that impressive to look at. Still, if he was a Tech, that had to mean there was something Ed saw in him... probably.

"Sorry about that, Zeke. I swear I was gonna return it, I just got... distracted."
"For... two months?" iQ questioned.
"You know what they say, time flies like an eagle."
"Speaking of time, we don't HAVE much," Ed interrupted. "We're in the middle of dealing with a serious situation."
"Yeah, that's kind of why I'm here. How serious are we talking?" Hum inquired.
"...The big one."

Hum stood silent for a moment.

"He's here? Like, HERE here?"
"Look, just get back in the van, I'll explain on the way."
"If you insist."

Hum already had one hand on the door handle when Ed cleared his throat loudly.

"A-HEM. In the BACK."
"Right."

"You showed up in iQ's van!" DPortEd pointed out.

"...here." iQ said, nervously pointing out the Belough Goods Truck he used as a vehicle as it pulled into a nearby truck loading bay according to it's programming. Gadg8eer wasn't the only one with a penchant for OpenTTB, but iQ tended to play for massive maglev networks and optimization in vanilla, while the much newer tech was in it for roleplay purposes and thus used a LOT of mods. "I'll drop them off downtown."

"Sure, I'll teach the red shape-like being who I'm pretty sure has managed to develop feelings for me within the first two seconds of seeing me." Ele responded to DPortEd, slightly chuckling. She felt something suddenly collide with her and hit the ground before looking down and seeing... ah, there he was.
Pentifer, who had now collided with Elextrixtr, found himself staring up at Elextrixtr with wide eyes.
"...Damn my clumsiness..." he muttered, slightly blushing.
"You good, little buddy?" Elextrixtr asked softly, holding a hand out to help Pentifer up.
(I'm sorry I support the idea of Pentrixtr ship existing)

"It's been 10 minutes and you're already going full fangirl? Okay." DPortEd shrugged, teasing the new couple. "Alright, I've got to get home. My wife expects me to stop by for supper and I still have to walk back to my truck. Skipper, what time is it?"

"It is currently Thursday, the 29th of June, 2028 at 364 Winks. Local time is ERROR: time.hinobi-k9000.corp did not respond Pacific Standard Time." the robot dog stated.

"Skipper, did you crap the database again? God damn it." Eddy responded, facepalming.

"It is currently ERROR: date.hinobi-k9000.corp did not respond at 364 ERROR: Unrecognized unit "unit_beet". Local time is 1:44 AM Pacific Daylight Time."

"Want me to try and fix that?" Hum pointed out sarcastically, knowing Eddy was being tugged between his empathy and his obligations.

"No. Skipper, find my car."

Skipper turned away and opened her mouth, projecting a blue beam of PLixels that immediately formed a portal back to the van.

"Good girl." he said, and gave her a battery to snack on, and picking her up to step through the portal. It closed momentarily after.

"Wait, why couldn't he have just used that this whole time?" Hum pointed out, because if he had to teach the new guy he was going to be sure Pentifer really could think for himself.

"...no, portals have cooldowns... and range restrictions..." iQ pointed out as they all got into the Goods Truck, and then realized Hum knew that but wasn't getting paid to teach a Glitch Technician Glitch under Hinobi's nose. "Oh, go format yourself, Hum." he said, and opened a VidWindow to set the truck to head for Eddy's Storefront.
 
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"Juan of Arcade", 4.1.3 "Neosiac Browser" New
((where were we In the Spike and Bulldog Plot?))

(( We kind of weren't. The flashback was just to introduce them and then I realized anything beyond that couldn't have happened before Zoe first met my character in the second post ever of the RP. BUT! They can tag along with the other three while I come up with something for Zoe and in-verse Gadge. It would be a good way to flesh them out beyond "those two guys"/"gamers on a couch webcomic protagonists". Eliza and Erwin too, I have some inklings of ideas to develop. ))

((Sweet!))

Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada
2028-06-29@364 Beets
For the uninitiated (in short, the Audience the Council of Evil had referred to with mysterious post-modern villain knowledge), there is a weird but real decimal time system called "Swatch Internet Time" which divides the day into 1000 Beats (000 to 999) with "000" being roughly 12:00 PM CET. This was invented by some trendy Swiss watchmaker whose creations were less timepieces and more fancy toys or collectibles. You know, a fad like Beanie Babies or Pokémon. Or like NFTs and Funko Pops.

Anyway, in GTX's strange welded canon, the equivalent was .Winks Sleepnet Time, which divided the day into 1000 "Winks" but was synchronized to the time in New Delhi (IST), the most populous time zone in the world in 1997 as China was growing fast but hadn't overtaken it. Hinobi purchased the Intellectual Property rights to .Winks once Merchantsoft realised they "had a dud on their hands and/or wrists"... only to wish they hadn't when Hinobi's line of Drone phones in Japan came standard with a built-in ".beet" converter in the clock menu (where 000 is synchronized to JST +9:00), and proceeded to sell the chip they developed to do it to both watch manufacturers and phone carriers.

By 2008 it was cemented as a defining feature of the then-transitioning Sleepnet (the beginning of the era of "social" media like MyScape, Spacebook or Friendface and Comb 2.0 centralized streaming services like Arasaka's DotFlix, Sidney+, and Hinobi's Swarm Store and BeeTube) and that was when Quill took it and ran with it, including it in their iqTop 65 (even their last update to InkOS for the PowerTop chip architecture of the iqTop 63 and iqTop 64) All-In-Ones and iqCandy (pronounced "Eye-Candy") music players, then their iCell ("iCell. Like hotcakes. Now starting at just <this offer not available in Region: Canada> with a 2 year contract. Contact your mobile carrier for sales information, or buy it unlocked at your local Ink Shop.") phones and iqTab datapads all before the Quill Watch's use of Winks (with the option to use the .beets Trademark and have its "Pro Gamer Cred" and the convenience of not having to convert from Winks to Beets for a $10 a month iqTunes Premium subscription fee) finally cemented the system in the public consciousness enough to be the rule and not the exception.

These days, the only clocks that sometimes came without .beets or their .winks equivalent were mechanical clocks - antiques or reproductions of older clocks - and even that was rare. The only reason it needed to be mentioned is, while it hadn't reached conservative cities like Houston or small towns like Grand Forks, major world cities like Los Angeles, New York, London, Dubai and Seoul had switched back to Winks over the past year in response to an increase in iqTunes Premium subscription rates and the population of India having re-overtaken that of China (PRC China) over the past few years, making .winks the most populous time zone in the world once again. Even Hinobi was forced to offer the option due to European Union consumer protection laws requiring free conversion between all relevant units in all devices made beginning in 2026.

That being said, the nations of Asia had never fully gotten along with each other, leading to Tempo Winks. tWinks used CEST because it was created for the European Union's Special Economic Zone, the major central locations of which were, well, in the Central European Standard Time zone. As a result, tWinks were the current standard and what people referred to as Winks now, with .wink being referred to as "Ink Winks" for their association with Quill products.

Grand Forks City Hall was one of such places where clocks could not be "software patched" for the sake of convenience. Due to the importance of Game Mechanics' work in the IT field, such "Bug Catchers", "Geek Squads" or "Cyberentomologists" or, indeed, "Glitch Techs" or whatever other name companies would use for their own in-the-field tech support, finding and updating such devices was one of the more boring parts of the job. Even though the clock on the roof of the City Hall - which had originally been the town's Post Office - was essentially correct and had AugReal VidWindows just below the clock faces to provide the time in .beets, Spike, Bulldog and "Bert" (Erwin "SavageDragonbert" O' Skunk) had been called in because the ancient BCC Computron terminal and it's prerequisite minicomputer needed to be updated before the ctOS Lite installation completed. They'd managed it just in the nick of time, and then spent the next 45 minutes gathering up everything they brought in to put it all back in their van.

"Oi, look. It's the teletuber head girl." Bert pointed as the van passed by. "What's her name, Xena or someth- Zoe!" he realised, and talked into his radio. "Oi! Zoe! It's Bert from General Protection Assault, how are the bridges doing?"

No response came, leaving Bert confused by the situation, but the vehicle did have its 'self-driving warning lights' on so he assumed it was because she was new and distracted. "What, is she muted? I's says to her over an' over not to turn off her gauntlet or she's not logged in and no paycheck!"

"I'm sorry, I don't know that one." responded Glitch Eliza, subtly letting him know she was listening without letting Horizen Prime - which monitored its ElizaWeb Agent Software - know she was a sentient copy of Eliza.
 
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"Juan of Arcadia", 4.2.0 "Cranium by Nudle" New
The logo on the computer looked relatively normal...

uJRm5HB.png

...and a power button was on the short squat "pizza box" tower's front panel.
"O-Oh... Merchantsoft... This must just be a weird virtual dream..." She pressed the power button, hoping to see what the monitor and its accompanying tower had in store.

No response came, leaving Bert confused by the situation, but the vehicle did have its 'self-driving warning lights' on so he assumed it was because she was new and distracted. "What, is she muted? I's says to her over an' over not to turn off her gauntlet or she's not logged in and no paycheck!"
A sigh came from the other end of the radio, it sounded... Almost like Zoe. "This is a low tier chatbot response based on ZoeIRL's personality datagram. She's not here right now, and I'm not permitted to give out the status of her current location. Not that I really know or care to..." The voice was even more mechanical than her normal remote voice. "If you have any questions about streaming schedules, merchandise, or current advertising deals. I can send you the links but... I get the feeling you might not be here for that... Judging from the fact that this is a corporate-trailed radio signal..."

"She has programmed me with a special message. In case you're here from IOI... But this commlink indicates you're from Hinobi. So I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to say... The gauntlet is technically on, but she literally can't operate this body to my knowledge. Again though, I'm not an idea engine, so it's a flawed guess."

The vocal chatbot sounded a lot more depressed and cynical than even Zoe herself normally did, even when speaking remotely. It was the same sort of malicious tone that she had started to take on her streams, especially now that views were dropping and she was losing passion for it.

At least while she had been doing her job as a tech, she seemed to be pretty engaged, and maybe even a little happy at some points. But this voice seemed to reflect a much more solemn side of her, if in fact it was based on her accurately.

Bolypius nervously scratched at its neck, this was an idling animation that it had started to develop as a tick, since one of the members of team 13 heroes had done it, and Bolypius sought to understand and emulate their abilities and strategies.

"Each one of you is Level 8. 7 is standard for a final boss, and in some cases, but Hinobi-Hard and especially esoteric-manifestation-event bosses can be level 8 without necessarily being secret superbosses or naturally programmed with typical level 8 traits in mind." It almost frantically tries to strategize. "I counted 7... We'll call them technical support agents for now... They were each carrying weapons that looked like ones I've only encountered one other time, inferior in precision to hinobis, but made with raw power in mind. The captain of their team was the only one I got a full scan on the equipment of. Judging from the EXP value, I'd say he's experienced enough to take on a few level 7's and win with a fair amount of ease. Just one of you would be enough to give him a hard fight or even defeat him, however..." Bolypius paced back and forth, speaking mostly for its own sake, though probably still expecting the others to follow its reasoning.

"There's 7 of them however. And I don't know what his other teammates are capable of. Whether they had knowledge going into this and countermeasures or if they're a provisional engagement squad is not known to me. At least partially due to the fact that they're not from Hinobi."

"They'll likely try and move through the sub-level and use what abilities and items they can to their advantage. I recommend if you can, that you please keep a close eye on what you can see there."

"As for me. I'm in no condition to fight. The equipment they have is something I'm not familiar with. In my weakened state, I'd probably end up being a liability. The best thing you can do is show me to wherever you've been generating glitches from and allow me to try and regain some of my strength. I'll likely require 5,000,000 C of EXP to return to baseline level 8 by consuming the energy of other glitches, preferably ones that aren't sentient or particularly capable of resisting my persuasive abilities. I must remind you that I am currently at 9% power and declining...."

"That means... I'll have to excuse myself from battling these opponents in particular... Though if I manage to reach a period of preliminary recovery, however limited it may be, say around 20 or 30% power, I'll try to help you. For now, I've provided you with valuable data, and my word. I hope that's enough."


Bolypius turned, specifically looking at one of the other councilors in particular.

"One more thing... Dr. X... Consider this your end of the confirmation... If you really are a divergent glitch, in the same way that I am... You'll be able to push through even if I'm in no condition to fight on your behalf as I am now... Trust is a valuable thing, and I don't have any for humans after 50 years, but I'm just open minded enough to try it with other glitches..."
 
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"Juan of Arcadia", 4.3.0 "Cranium-238: De-Nudle'd Cranium Browser" New
"You showed up in iQ's van!" DPortEd pointed out.

"...here." iQ said, nervously pointing out the Belough Goods Truck he used as a vehicle as it pulled into a nearby truck loading bay according to it's programming. Gadg8eer wasn't the only one with a penchant for OpenTTB, but iQ tended to play for massive maglev networks and optimization in vanilla, while the much newer tech was in it for roleplay purposes and thus used a LOT of mods. "I'll drop them off downtown."



"It's been 10 minutes and you're already going full fangirl? Okay." DPortEd shrugged, teasing the new couple. "Alright, I've got to get home. My wife expects me to stop by for supper and I still have to walk back to my truck. Skipper, what time is it?"

"It is currently Thursday, the 29th of June, 2028 at 364 Winks. Local time is ERROR: time.hinobi-k9000.corp did not respond Pacific Standard Time." the robot dog stated.

"Skipper, did you crap the database again? God damn it." Eddy responded, facepalming.

"It is currently ERROR: date.hinobi-k9000.corp did not respond at 364 ERROR: Unrecognized unit "unit_beet". Local time is 1:44 AM Pacific Daylight Time."

"Want me to try and fix that?" Hum pointed out sarcastically, knowing Eddy was being tugged between his empathy and his obligations.

"No. Skipper, find my car."

Skipper turned away and opened her mouth, projecting a blue beam of PLixels that immediately formed a portal back to the van.

"Good girl." he said, and gave her a battery to snack on, and picking her up to step through the portal. It closed momentarily after.

"Wait, why couldn't he have just used that this whole time?" Hum pointed out, because if he had to teach the new guy he was going to be sure Pentifer really could think for himself.

"...no, portals have cooldowns... and range restrictions..." iQ pointed out as they all got into the Goods Truck, and then realized Hum knew that but wasn't getting paid to teach a Glitch Technician Glitch under Hinobi's nose. "Oh, go format yourself, Hum." he said, and opened a VidWindow to set the truck to head for Eddy's Storefront.
Within the first two seconds of getting in the van Pentifer had managed to eat through two bars of candy that Elextrixtr had retrieved from her satchel, and was wolfing down his third one. Elextrixtr just quietly watched.
"Save some for me, you hungry rascal!" She laughed at how messy Pentifer had managed to get through eating the candy.
 
"Juan of Arcade", 4.2.1 "Progress Browser for Portals Vishnu/7" New
"O-Oh... Merchantsoft... This must just be a weird virtual dream..." She pressed the power button, hoping to see what the monitor and its accompanying tower had in store.


Upon reaching the desktop, she noted the old machine had ChitChat installed. Since the Federation Cyber-War, all service identification designations - from telephone numbers to bmail accounts and including ChitChat - were updated to be decentralized and federated, mostly by Techs like herself due to the issues faced by both companies like Merchantsoft (ChitChat IM), Pesterchum, BRIX Group (Builded), Seddit and Disbord, and by Open Source projects like the Early fediverse (which fortunately had all but won the Federation Cyber-War of the 2020s by 2028 over corporate interests). That likely meant she was supposed to click the little icon with the notification dot.

Sure enough, one click later and she saw a couple messages waiting.

ZANE_ROCKS_40_1986
Dr. Zane Lofton, PhD/MD
2025-08-09@040
This is an experimental product we're working on. Hopefully it can enhance or even replace other treatments of Gender Dysphoria and Body Dysphoria, as well as Belial Complex and Cyberpsychosis. If you're seeing this, you must have fallen asleep with our headband on and connected to an active PC. According to that (your) system's clock, I would be 43 at the time you read this. Or I could be dead by that point, but I don't want to tempt fate.

DiamondAge
Agatha Diamanté, CEO of Biotechnica (2020-????)
2028-06-29@365
Hey, Alice. If you're reading this, I put an EEG headband on you while you're asleep that was modified from an old Hypnospace Enforcers headband. Back in the day those guys were cutting edge. This was once Merchantsoft's attempt to compete with Somnius' CyberWorldZ before Merchantsoft became part of Microdyne. It's basically a lucid dream.
2028-06-29@366
Don't log out of your account on this dream computer, you'll wake up and we can't legally get access to sedatives so... um, yeah. We may or may not be in the middle of a RipperDoc surgery if you do that. The chat's live and secure, by the way. I plugged the headband into my Pip-Pad and this plane's cabin has a faraday cage like all the new airliners for safety reasons. We're only 20 minutes from our waypoint stop as I type this so we'll land and get you to a doc to figure out what's going on.

A text field awaited at the bottom of the screen for Alice/ZoeIRL to communicate back, and the clock in the upper right corner showed that the current time was @381/"2:07 AM", denoting she had shifted one time zone to the west since falling asleep.
 
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"Juan of Arcade", 4.2.1 "Somnius Netsleep Navigator" New
A sigh came from the other end of the radio, it sounded... Almost like Zoe. "This is a low tier chatbot response based on ZoeIRL's personality datagram. She's not here right now, and I'm not permitted to give out the status of her current location. Not that I really know or care to..." The voice was even more mechanical than her normal remote voice. "If you have any questions about streaming schedules, merchandise, or current advertising deals. I can send you the links but... I get the feeling you might not be here for that... Judging from the fact that this is a corporate-trailed radio signal..."

"She has programmed me with a special message. In case you're here from IOI... But this commlink indicates you're from Hinobi. So I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to say... The gauntlet is technically on, but she literally can't operate this body to my knowledge. Again though, I'm not an idea engine, so it's a flawed guess."

The vocal chatbot sounded a lot more depressed and cynical than even Zoe herself normally did, even when speaking remotely. It was the same sort of malicious tone that she had started to take on her streams, especially now that views were dropping and she was losing passion for it.

At least while she had been doing her job as a tech, she seemed to be pretty engaged, and maybe even a little happy at some points. But this voice seemed to reflect a much more solemn side of her, if in fact it was based on her accurately.
"Dagnab-muckle IOI, where you be keepin' my roommate?!" Bert waved his fist in the air dramatically.

"Would you like me to post an ad for a new roommate on Horizen Marketplace?" Eliza signaled.

"Yelly light!" he incomprehensively shouted. If Gadg8eer had been merely talented at IoT Automation, Erwin was a master-trained guru. Only those he really trusted knew he wasn't eccentric and/or drunk on the job, he just was True Neutral with a tendency towards Lawful Neutral. He'd been on the run ever since his hometown had their system memories reset about the "Nightfall Incident", when the IoT robots where he lived went haywire because of an infamous Glitch in World of Final Resident Doom Grand Craft Quakem Raider Scrolls 64 Advance VI: The Sequel to Skyrim (the original, not the 2025 remastered version).

Created mostly by microTech and Buy-N-Large, the Urbanoids (as the microTech ones had been advertized as) began displaying a wide degree of personalities they didn't have, but with exception of one little cleaning robot he'd brought with him, all of them were hostile to humans and had to be destroyed. The evacuation efforts prevented casualties, but they somehow missed Erwin - then a 28-year old TV repairman and aspiring cartoonist - who realized he had to get little WaLL-E to safety with himself when he realized they were going to bomb the town with Glitch Grenades (or rather, Meta-Glitch Munitions; like meta-cancer kills cancer cells for the same reason cancer cells kill their host, Meta-Glitches can be induced to stun a Glitch temporarily, and they do come in "military bomber warhead" size.) and the two got to safety but narrowly avoided BnL's "Greeters" wiping his memory and taking the robot from him. Currently, WaLL-E was at home taking care of his elderly mother, the two of them just so happening to live in the same building as Gadg8eer.

Having to keep WaLL-E functioning needed a bit of skill, but the really hard part was that software updates from the manufacturer could have potentially reset his system memory and thus "killed" his soul, so to speak. Not willing to let that happen, Erwin had made modifications with WaLL-E's permission to prevent further updates. Since then, the glitch inside WaLL-E that gave him a personality (a very shy but kind one) had evolved well past it's programming, though retained that personality he'd always had. In the end, with an upgraded QSD PLixel MemorySpace able to store 12 TeraPLixels of information, WaLL-E had even been able to retain all the information about being modified and repaired in order to keep himself functioning indefinitely even if Erwin wasn't around.

Mrs. O'Skunk was a kindly, frail old woman (for now, she was undergoing de-aging via telomere repair treatments and gene therapy and would be back to a younger self in a few decades) but not a naive one. Her son had always assumed he was something of a failure because his father had been a successful small business owner, but little did father or son know she used to work for CSIS as a high-risk operative. She knew how to express minor but not paranoid-sounding or anti-establishment concerns about how private technology really was. As a result, "SavageDragonbert" had contingencies ranging from running off to Europe because of political instability in North America, to "the family dog is actually the preserved brain of Ex-President Rouxles Kaard, summon the zombies and John Byrne", to "Bat-Shark Repellent" for the specific scenario they were in... roughly speaking.

"Mrs. O'Skunk, your son Erwin has added 'tomato seeds' and 'a rake' to your shopping list." her Eliza Hub said, temporarily overridden by Glitch Eliza.

Tomato seeds and a rake? Scammers claiming to be IOI's collection agency AND I need you to have WaLL-E look outside? "Ah, thank you, Eliza."

"You are so very welcome." Eliza said, in a softer and more honestly compassionate tone than an Eliza would typically do.

"Wally, can you be a dear and grab that rake?" Mrs. O'Skunk asked.

The little robot signalled happily and zipped off to the balcony, then used his binocular, night-vision camera-eyes to look outside.

On the street below, Gavin was still talking to his underlings from the back seat of his limousine. "You fell into a pit?! Why were you not watching where you morons were- What do you mean there was a trapdoor?! They're Glitches! Glitches don't plan anything!"

Spike and Bulldog were already peering over Bert's shoulders, at the VidWindow on the steps of City Hall sharing WaLL-E's viewpoint with Erwin, when they overheard the loud voice coming from the vehicle through the long range sensors of a Buy-N-Large Waste and Litter Logistics-Engine. Since WaLL-Es were also designed to detect and free any humans who may or may not be trapped under landfill material, an intelligent example of one would be able to hear the minute vibrations required to detect unconscious or trapped humans who may be unaware of the robot's presence.

"That'll do, cameo. That'll do." Bert stated as the robot headed back inside on the other end of the camera before cutting the feed.
 
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"Juan of Arcadia", 4.2.1 "Cranium by Nudle" New
Bolypius nervously scratched at its neck, this was an idling animation that it had started to develop as a tick, since one of the members of team 13 heroes had done it, and Bolypius sought to understand and emulate their abilities and strategies.

"Each one of you is Level 8. 7 is standard for a final boss, and in some cases, but Hinobi-Hard and especially esoteric-manifestation-event bosses can be level 8 without necessarily being secret superbosses or naturally programmed with typical level 8 traits in mind." It almost frantically tries to strategize. "I counted 7... We'll call them technical support agents for now... They were each carrying weapons that looked like ones I've only encountered one other time, inferior in precision to hinobis, but made with raw power in mind. The captain of their team was the only one I got a full scan on the equipment of. Judging from the EXP value, I'd say he's experienced enough to take on a few level 7's and win with a fair amount of ease. Just one of you would be enough to give him a hard fight or even defeat him, however..." Bolypius paced back and forth, speaking mostly for its own sake, though probably still expecting the others to follow its reasoning.

"There's 7 of them however. And I don't know what his other teammates are capable of. Whether they had knowledge going into this and countermeasures or if they're a provisional engagement squad is not known to me. At least partially due to the fact that they're not from Hinobi."

"They'll likely try and move through the sub-level and use what abilities and items they can to their advantage. I recommend if you can, that you please keep a close eye on what you can see there."

"As for me. I'm in no condition to fight. The equipment they have is something I'm not familiar with. In my weakened state, I'd probably end up being a liability. The best thing you can do is show me to wherever you've been generating glitches from and allow me to try and regain some of my strength. I'll likely require 5,000,000 C of EXP to return to baseline level 8 by consuming the energy of other glitches, preferably ones that aren't sentient or particularly capable of resisting my persuasive abilities. I must remind you that I am currently at 9% power and declining...."

"That means... I'll have to excuse myself from battling these opponents in particular... Though if I manage to reach a period of preliminary recovery, however limited it may be, say around 20 or 30% power, I'll try to help you. For now, I've provided you with valuable data, and my word. I hope that's enough."


Bolypius turned, specifically looking at one of the other councilors in particular.

"One more thing... Dr. X... Consider this your end of the confirmation... If you really are a divergent glitch, in the same way that I am... You'll be able to push through even if I'm in no condition to fight on your behalf as I am now... Trust is a valuable thing, and I don't have any for humans after 50 years, but I'm just open minded enough to try it with other glitches..."
Dr. X wasn't exactly what Bolypius suspected he was, but he was something similar. Similar enough to worry him, but again he didn't show it. Instead he took out his Power Gauntlet - a sci-fi style device meant to evoke the prototype devices under development at the time, originally warn by Dr. X in the Saturday Morning Adventures of Zoom Kazoom cartoon, and of course the ill-received Captain Aech and the Game Engineers animated movie of the Atom Girl H: The Game Master comics (loosely based on various Hinobi games). While the latter was extremely cheesy and heavy with cringe-inducing "Cowboy Bebop at His Computer" moments, it had the nostalgia of "when video games didn't have detailed stories except in the manual nobody reads". The former was just a diversity pitch that changed Captain "Aech" from red hair and green eyes to brown hair and blue eyes but left the "already a diversity Token" skin color at exactly the shade of vaguely dark brown she had before, and cut out her personality to replace it with horseshoe-esque Extreme-Left/Alt-Right political propaganda that seemed to switch between "Woke" and "Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist" after the cheap voice actor took a vape break and/or as it angered her.

The Hinobi Power Gauntlet was relatively useless on it's own. Without "tech support" (a nod towards the then in-the-works Glitch Techs division) from 5 people bearing the Rings of Cosmic Pander (The Windwaker, the Waterstone, the Earthbinder, the Fireflower, and the Heartometer. "By your powers combined, I AM CAPTAIN H!" "Goooooo Hinobi!") to link-cable to the Power Gauntlet, it was unable to do anything at all. With all 5 nearby, however, the Glove could reshape reality, as it did when Zoom Kazoom was replaced by Atom Girl Z, with just a press of a button.

But that was just a cartoon. The actual, glitchable Dr. X character was from a video game, and as the source material, it said the Gauntlet was non-canon. Did Bolypius know that? Or was it bluffing?

He only used it to communicate with someone, however. "Znare, I need you to take Bolypius and go somevhere zafe." he said into the device. "Vell, Ladies... Gentlemen... it zeems ve have a zituation on our hands. Vhy don't we show these... Eye-of-Eyes or Ee-oys or vhatever zhe hell zhey are... vhy ve have Boss Alerts? *8-bit Villain Laugh*"

If anyone else was coming, this time they'd be prepared.
 
"O-Oh... Merchantsoft... This must just be a weird virtual dream..." She pressed the power button, hoping to see what the monitor and its accompanying tower had in store.


A sigh came from the other end of the radio, it sounded... Almost like Zoe. "This is a low tier chatbot response based on ZoeIRL's personality datagram. She's not here right now, and I'm not permitted to give out the status of her current location. Not that I really know or care to..." The voice was even more mechanical than her normal remote voice. "If you have any questions about streaming schedules, merchandise, or current advertising deals. I can send you the links but... I get the feeling you might not be here for that... Judging from the fact that this is a corporate-trailed radio signal..."

"She has programmed me with a special message. In case you're here from IOI... But this commlink indicates you're from Hinobi. So I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to say... The gauntlet is technically on, but she literally can't operate this body to my knowledge. Again though, I'm not an idea engine, so it's a flawed guess."

The vocal chatbot sounded a lot more depressed and cynical than even Zoe herself normally did, even when speaking remotely. It was the same sort of malicious tone that she had started to take on her streams, especially now that views were dropping and she was losing passion for it.

At least while she had been doing her job as a tech, she seemed to be pretty engaged, and maybe even a little happy at some points. But this voice seemed to reflect a much more solemn side of her, if in fact it was based on her accurately.

Bolypius nervously scratched at its neck, this was an idling animation that it had started to develop as a tick, since one of the members of team 13 heroes had done it, and Bolypius sought to understand and emulate their abilities and strategies.

"Each one of you is Level 8. 7 is standard for a final boss, and in some cases, but Hinobi-Hard and especially esoteric-manifestation-event bosses can be level 8 without necessarily being secret superbosses or naturally programmed with typical level 8 traits in mind." It almost frantically tries to strategize. "I counted 7... We'll call them technical support agents for now... They were each carrying weapons that looked like ones I've only encountered one other time, inferior in precision to hinobis, but made with raw power in mind. The captain of their team was the only one I got a full scan on the equipment of. Judging from the EXP value, I'd say he's experienced enough to take on a few level 7's and win with a fair amount of ease. Just one of you would be enough to give him a hard fight or even defeat him, however..." Bolypius paced back and forth, speaking mostly for its own sake, though probably still expecting the others to follow its reasoning.

"There's 7 of them however. And I don't know what his other teammates are capable of. Whether they had knowledge going into this and countermeasures or if they're a provisional engagement squad is not known to me. At least partially due to the fact that they're not from Hinobi."

"They'll likely try and move through the sub-level and use what abilities and items they can to their advantage. I recommend if you can, that you please keep a close eye on what you can see there."

"As for me. I'm in no condition to fight. The equipment they have is something I'm not familiar with. In my weakened state, I'd probably end up being a liability. The best thing you can do is show me to wherever you've been generating glitches from and allow me to try and regain some of my strength. I'll likely require 5,000,000 C of EXP to return to baseline level 8 by consuming the energy of other glitches, preferably ones that aren't sentient or particularly capable of resisting my persuasive abilities. I must remind you that I am currently at 9% power and declining...."

"That means... I'll have to excuse myself from battling these opponents in particular... Though if I manage to reach a period of preliminary recovery, however limited it may be, say around 20 or 30% power, I'll try to help you. For now, I've provided you with valuable data, and my word. I hope that's enough."


Bolypius turned, specifically looking at one of the other councilors in particular.

"One more thing... Dr. X... Consider this your end of the confirmation... If you really are a divergent glitch, in the same way that I am... You'll be able to push through even if I'm in no condition to fight on your behalf as I am now... Trust is a valuable thing, and I don't have any for humans after 50 years, but I'm just open minded enough to try it with other glitches..."

Dr. X wasn't exactly what Bolypius suspected he was, but he was something similar. Similar enough to worry him, but again he didn't show it. Instead he took out his Power Gauntlet - a sci-fi style device meant to evoke the prototype devices under development at the time, originally warn by Dr. X in the Saturday Morning Adventures of Zoom Kazoom cartoon, and of course the ill-received Captain Aech and the Game Engineers animated movie of the Atom Girl H: The Game Master comics (loosely based on various Hinobi games). While the latter was extremely cheesy and heavy with cringe-inducing "Cowboy Bebop at His Computer" moments, it had the nostalgia of "when video games didn't have detailed stories except in the manual nobody reads". The former was just a diversity pitch that changed Captain "Aech" from red hair and green eyes to brown hair and blue eyes but left the "already a diversity Token" skin color at exactly the shade of vaguely dark brown she had before, and cut out her personality to replace it with horseshoe-esque Extreme-Left/Alt-Right political propaganda that seemed to switch between "Woke" and "Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist" after the cheap voice actor took a vape break and/or as it angered her.

The Hinobi Power Gauntlet was relatively useless on it's own. Without "tech support" (a nod towards the then in-the-works Glitch Techs division) from 5 people bearing the Rings of Cosmic Pander (The Windwaker, the Waterstone, the Earthbinder, the Fireflower, and the Heartometer. "By your powers combined, I AM CAPTAIN H!" "Goooooo Hinobi!") to link-cable to the Power Gauntlet, it was unable to do anything at all. With all 5 nearby, however, the Glove could reshape reality, as it did when Zoom Kazoom was replaced by Atom Girl Z, with just a press of a button.

But that was just a cartoon. The actual, glitchable Dr. X character was from a video game, and as the source material, it said the Gauntlet was non-canon. Did Bolypius know that? Or was it bluffing?

He only used it to communicate with someone, however. "Znare, I need you to take Bolypius and go somevhere zafe." he said into the device. "Vell, Ladies... Gentlemen... it zeems ve have a zituation on our hands. Vhy don't we show these... Eye-of-Eyes or Ee-oys or vhatever zhe hell zhey are... vhy ve have Boss Alerts? *8-bit Villain Laugh*"

If anyone else was coming, this time they'd be prepared.
(Before I begin this post, I'd like to thank Gadg8eer Gadg8eer For Possibly Explaining How Dr X can fight Both Atom Girl and Zoom Kazoom outside of Crossovers because I was confused there, I still have some Questions but lets get to the post)

A Purple beam of light which looks like the ones that appear when Atom girl is Teleporting into the start of a level Minus Being Blue, this was snare Showing up to basically be Bolypius's Ride to a Location to Recover from a Decade of Imprisonment with a Superweapon in his eye. (OOC:Yeesh having your eye impaled for a decade would not be good for your health) As the council left to Prepare to Give the Troubleshooters The works.
 
(Before I begin this post, I'd like to thank Gadg8eer Gadg8eer For Possibly Explaining How Dr X can fight Both Atom Girl and Zoom Kazoom outside of Crossovers because I was confused there, I still have some Questions but lets get to the post)

A Purple beam of light which looks like the ones that appear when Atom girl is Teleporting into the start of a level Minus Being Blue, this was snare Showing up to basically be Bolypius's Ride to a Location to Recover from a Decade of Imprisonment with a Superweapon in his eye. (OOC:Yeesh having your eye impaled for a decade would not be good for your health) As the council left to Prepare to Give the Troubleshooters The works.
Bolypius decided to subtly copy a particular bit of code from Snare as the other Glitch made contact to teleport both of them away, but was otherwise silent. Snare looked over at Dr. X and then at Bolypius, then teleported himself and the Glitch King to Dr. X's backup fortress "nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains!" (or something) a.k.a "It's supposed to be a SECRET backup fortress".

"Now, vhere vere ve? Ah, yes." Dr. X said, and executed a combo sequence on one of the arcade cabinets. "RELEASE ZE KRAKEN!" he shouted, and inserted an arcade token.

"I don't want to hear it, just get it done. What am I even paying you for?" Gavin said over the call to 'IOI_616001', the company-mandated Non-Fungible Cryptoken that activated while IOI Sixers were on duty and was assigned based on their character level (the highest level being 001 and the lowest being however many (up to 999) IOI Sixers were in operation.

Despite the creepy authoritarianism of IOI's employment policies, there was one thing that couldn't be denied about their tech support; you got paid good and weren't expected to actually fix anything because otherwise it would be on the Sixer's own tab. So it was rare for anyone to join with the same mindset as a Glitch Tech; most Sixers were flunkies (and not the catch-able kind) who couldn't hack it as an Arasaka Troubleshooter but still were purely in it for the money. They weren't very good at their job, but they didn't have to be, they just had to look the part and Uncle Sam would turn the other way, instead contributing to the lack of cities over-run with Glitches by "keeping the biggest cities of America free of" the same XP abundance as was available to all Glitch Technicians in similar countries including Canada. After all, why would a company as stingy as IOI include Medical or Dental?

This unfortunately meant that the top 7 Sixers (Code-named after the Seven Deadly Sins as "Pride", "Envy", "Wrath", etc.) had been sent on a special mission when they were no longer eligible to compete in The Finals, instead now investigating mysterious power surges coming from Danville that were causing a rash of Glitches across Washington State.

"The hack is this place, Pride?" Envy asked. By having the elite top 7 use names assigned to their leaderboard positions instead of anything concrete, he had only been Envy for about 2 days (this time, anyway) after falling behind Pride on the Sixer High Score board. Since his Hinobi ID was merely for gaming purposes (video games had been exclusively digital for a couple years and the Swarm Store app was the most complete of all catalogues by a landslide), it was only referenced for depositing his paycheck and he was to use designation 616002 for the duration of the mission.

You might have noticed some issues in that registration system. What happens if someone quits? Or if someone increases their rank on the leaderboard while the person they overtake is on a mission using that designation, and then the overtaker also goes on a mission?
Keeping their internal conversations dubious in their accuracy due to such flaws was intentional, it prevented the consequences of the company's actions from being as harsh as they should have been in court, giving them wiggle room when prosecutors questioned executives and employees for their shady practices.

The area looked like a Mapper got to it, but this was more than just a game map. The only one with the ability to see well was I0I-616001, whose status as the top Sixer gave his uniform a "unique cosmetic skin" of glowing gold at all times. It illuminated the room in what appeared to be an otherwise unlit stone-walled cellar or prison cell.

"Okay, watch and learn." Wrath boasted, and tapped an icon on his IOI Standard Issue "FixBit" smartwatch's secret Technician AugReal menu. He then charged forward, slamming through the wooden door and rendering it into splintered wreckage. After about 1.25 seconds doing the charging through walls thing, it wore off slightly faster than he expected and he slammed into the wall opposite their entry point. "@$$!" he swore as he clutched his face and head.

"You're lucky you didn't K.O. yourself, you idiot." Pride responded.

"This isn't good." Greed said, looking at her own FixBit. "Look at the ID of this Gltch's game."

Everyone leaned in to peer at her screen (except Wrath, who was giving them the middle finger as they ignored him). "What the shit? What even IS a Hedgelike?"

"A game where you are in a procedural dungeon and your character doesn't get out alive, like Urban Changeling: The Hedge or The Hidden Corridors. The goal is to see how far you can go before you die. It was the last major type of game to use time-based scoring." Sloth realized. "This thing is a living maze! We're trapped by an infinite series of walls and overpowered urban fantasy monsters!"

"Computers aren't infinite, there has to be a way out." Pride stated, and used his Elytra character trait to boost himself at high speed towards the trapdoor above...
 

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