❯ .hack//CHECK – Deal ( Chapter 6 )
Naomi stood in front of the east Chaos Gate of New Mac Anu. Suddenly, a tanned man with bleach-blonde hair wearing sunglasses and a blue « samurai-like » garb with both sleeves missing stepped through the Gate. At his hip, was a tokkuri, and on his neck hanged headphones. In his hand, was one of the few level 99 weapons of World II, The Peacemaker Mark V. His movement was graceful, but solid.
« Long time, no see, Deacon Blue. », commented Naomi.
« Glad you like it, » said Deacon Blue, « my entertainment budget is blown for this month. »
« Well, I guess that does it, Deac, The Groovers are practically back. », said Naomi, « If only Stan would import his character… »
« Crap… They messed up my member addresses… Hold on a sec… », said Deacon as he began to tinker with his menus.
While they stood there, other players began to crowd around.
« Is that… It’s him! »
« Deacon Blue! Really? »
« He’s so cool… »
« Are The Groovers coming back? I thought she looked familiar… »
« I got a job for ’em! »
« Huh? », said Deacon as he looked up from his menus. The crowd startled him. « Um… Don’t you guys have things to do? », he asked. They all scattered.
« Walk and talk? », inquired Naomi. They began to walk.
« Sure. », said Deacon. « You know what? It just doesn’t make sense… »
« What? »
« I lose my character, yet, your character is still here. It’s weird. »
« That’s right. You said you remembered something after you saw ‘Protect Break’. What was it?
« You ever heard of the ‘dot-hackers’? »
« Yeah. »
« I read somewhere that back in World I, the leader of the ‘dot-hackers’ had to ‘Protect Break’ enemies before he could ‘Data Drain’ them. »
« ‘Data Drain’? I remember… It put some folks into a coma or something, right? »
« Yeah… But, how did that guy gain the ability to ‘Data Drain’? Also, is he somehow killing people with it…? »
« Deac, let’s just give it up. »
« Huh? »
« Look. After we spring Stan from the joint, I’m leaving. You guys can sit and play, but I’m gone. It’s too much, man. »
« Wow… This is sudden. »
« Sorry, Deac, we’re talking lives here. I want to live. I suggest you do the same, and Stan, too. »
« I can’t do that. »
« Why? »
« I just can’t. »
« #Sigh#, so anyway, how are we gonna pull off this job? »
« Like I said. We need to call ‘him’. »
« Ah, crap… »
« I don’t think you get it… »
. . .
Deacon Blue and Naomi continued to stroll through the streets of New Mac Anu. Merchants shook their wares in front of passers-by as they shouted slogans that no one really cared to hear…
« So. When you were referring to ‘him’, it wasn’t ‘him’, but a different ‘him’? », said Naomi.
« Right. », replied Deacon Blue.
« You scared the crap out of me, for a second there… »
« Yeah. The guy we’re looking for goes by the name ‘Nash’. »
« Nash? »
« Yep. He’s an aromatic grass dealer. As well as a rare hoarder. »
« What’s so special about him? »
« That’s right. You don’t know. Back when WIII launched, a guy was banned for griefing among several other offenses. Nash and a couple of other guys, all of them level one, mind you, somehow managed to make it into the dungeon and break the guy out. Because Nash masterminded the plan, he became an instant legend. »
« You were one of those guys, right? »
« How’d you know? »
« Lucky guess… Anyhow, is he that good? »
« You bet… One thing, though… »
« What? »
« Well, he’s only at level 20 to 25 at the moment… »
« ‘That it? »
« Well… Not exactly. . . »
« Hey, what’s up! Want some AG? Only 50GP a unit! », yelled a voice. Naomi looked up to see a fair woman dressed in a loose fitting pale green robe. Her long blue hair hid her forehead, and her purple eyes had an odd, piercing quality. She carried no weapon. »A couple of whiffs, and you’ll be hooked. Tell you what. », she said to Naomi, « Since I’ve never seen you before, I’ll give you a discount. » « Nash, it’s me, Deacon. », said Deacon Blue, « We need a favor. »
« This is Nash? », asked Naomi.
« Deacon? », squinted Nash. He handed Deacon his member address.
« Yeah. It’s me. Nice look, huh? », said Deacon. « This is the character I told you about. Look. We need you for a job. »
« Stan again? », asked Nash, « What is this, like, the third time he’s been banned? »
« So let me get this straight. This is a guy? », pointed Naomi.
« Yes. », said Deacon, « Now, Nash, how are we going to do this? » Deacon Blue invited Nash into his party.
As Deacon and Nash spoke, Naomi checked the Nash’s status screen. It read:
He’s using sub-par armor, but where are his weapons?, she thought, good strength, but really crappy Magic Stats…
« …Okay… I have a slight idea as to where he’s being held. Based on his offense, I’d say he was on the second floor. », explained Nash. « Now, what kind of force do we have? » Nash began to navigate his menus. « Hmmm… We got a level 99 Heavy Blade, a level 97 Twin Blade, and a level 24 Armless; me. Okay… Items look good, scrolls look good, equipment… No, no, no… That just won’t do. »
« What? », asked Deacon.
« Naomi, you need better equipment, dear. », said Nash
« Here. », Nash handed her a pair of blades.
« What? Oh, thank you! », she said. The blades had an elegant curve with serrated hand guards. The handles were ivory in color with a ruby phoenix insignia at the cross-section.
What’s he doing with level 99 weaps?, she thought as she equipped her new weapons.
« Also, everyone, take these. », instructed Nash, « We’ll need them. » He handed Deacon and Naomi twenty five flash-bombs.
« Hey, hey! Now we’re talkin’! », said Deacon.
« What are these? », asked Naomi
« Flash-bombs were only available during a special event, and are extremely rare because of their ability to allow escape from battle. The main drawback, is that they can place you almost anywhere. From another room to another field, their unpredictability makes them dangerous to use. », explained Deacon Blue. « Wait a sec… How much is this gonna cost? »
« With equipment and flash-bombs, » started Nash, « somewhere in the ballpark of five-hundred thousand GP. »
Deacon paid the woman, « Stan owes me for this… »