2017-10-06: Under Cover of Night

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<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Jolly Roger is the sole natural harbour for the entire Badlands region -- meaning that all shipment that comes from Aquvy tends to concentrate around it. This includes large and small shipments both, and in this particular instance, Riesenlied's received a tip that a large shipment of Dragon Fossils has arrived at Jolly Roger: a Kislevi shipment.

Given the recent rumours of the Golem Sado being damaged, it doesn't take a genius to think of why Kislev might be buying Fossils en masse.

Warehouse #23 is a huge building on the shipyard of Jolly Roger, where the shipment is supposed to have been stored for the night under the auspices of Hartwell Gunsmoke's charters. Security is on high alert tonight, and extra Drifters have been hired and posted here -- the ARMs company suspects the Ebony Wings may be interested in this...

...which is not entirely unwarranted -- at the strike of midnight, the beating of wings can be heard.

Above, Riesenlied looks towards the warehouse and presses her hand to her throat mic. "There's the warehouse. Devet, start scanning procedures and confirm if our cargo is inside."

The dragon-winged Metal Demon is seated ontop of her typical dragon -- a 12-foot rotund ahriman-esque dragon with yellow flesh and a happy single-eyed face, Muni-Muni. It doesn't... look particularly threatening. "M-muniii?"

"Shh... it's okay," Riesenlied encourages.

Devet -- a pink-haired girl seated atop her own Dragon with headphones and a shirt that says 'ODJN'S GONNA ODJE' grins and taps away at her keyboard to say, "Okay, starting the scans now -- you'll have to hold off any fire for a bit, though!" She presses a button, and starts bopping to some beat. "I want my baby back (baby back) ((baby back)) (((baby back)))~~"

Riesenlied nods as she presses her throat again. "Riesenlied to all units. Sweep the area for trouble, and secure the perimeters. And remember, non-lethal only, please -- we aren't here for anyone's lives, just the cargo."

It doesn't take long -- a spotlight is turned on, and the Dragons aren't exactly the stealthiest; an air siren blares out along with a rotating red light as someone shouts, "Contact! It's the Ebony Wings!"

"They're expecting us...?" Riesenlied frowns, coughing just a little. "Keep at it! Jedan, Sedam, form a guard around Devet! Everyone, stay on your guard -- keep a narrow profile and stick to the darkness and avoid their ARMs fire!"

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

Ida Everstead-Rey stands out in front of Warehouse #23, trying her best to stay alert. Next to her is someone she was not expecting to see in the Badlands, at all. Jimmy Shen Long is a big, intimidating man. He looks, at a glance, like a tough who thinks he has class: decent suit, hat, no jacket, gunsmoke rifle slung across his back. The right side of his face is marked by shrapnel scars, and there's a patch where his right eye should be. His head is shaved, and he has a stubbly beard. Both of his arms have extensive tattooing, which disappears beneath the rolled-up sleeves of his shirt--the twin dragons of Guild Galad. Fire Dragon, the winged patron of industry, graces the right, while Water Dragon, the serpentine patron of trade, is inked on the left. He is the Everstead-Rey Company's Steward of Interests and Trade Secrets, which roughly means he's it's head of security. What exactly he's doing across the world is a question Ida hasn't gotten a satisfactory answer for. She is in the process of getting one.

"There's a Fossil shipment going through here," he says. He leans on the railing, and a casual onlooker might make the mistake of thinking he's leisurely watching the waterfront. He's watching, and he's keeping track of everything. "It's heading to Marze, and then north. We got word that certain parties have eyes on it." Ida knows what he means by 'certain parties'. The message Jimmy's intermediary sent was less than secretive about the whole thing. "Your aunt doesn't trust Hartwell not to screw the pooch on this one, and anything we can build up with Kislev is good for the bottom line."

The night is clear, and full of stars. It doesn't take long for Ida to pick out the advancing silhouettes against the sky, and a lump forms in the pit of her stomach. She hoped this wasn't going to happen. She was praying it wasn't going to happen. Did you think Riesenlied wasn't going to try and follow up on her threat? What a fool you were. She thinks back to Arash, and to what his family went through. Horrible thoughts tumble through her head in quick succession. Your family will be disgraced if she is allowed to have her way. You will join the rest of the paupers in the canal slums. You knew this was coming. Fight. Only force will dissuade her. Only force will break her. Only force will teach her.

"Right on schedule," says Jimmy Shen Long. One of the dockworkers immediately begins shouting.

'Contact! It's the Ebony Wings!'

"Could they be any less subtle? Keep your head down or your aunt's going to nail my hide to her office wall." He looks up, catches sight of the Wings taking formation as they swoop overhead. "Those are dragons, huh?" He sounds... at least a little awed, because he would have to be made of stone not to be, but also skeptical. "Don't look like any goddamn dragons I've ever seen. But hey. You studied these things, right? Can you put holes in their wings?"

Ida twists to face Jimmy, and blinks. "I--I imagine so. Just--" Oh God. Oh God, she thinks, and that horrible sinking feeling gets even worse. People are going to kill each other over this. She looks back to the Wings, and then back to Jimmy, but Jimmy is already making towards a good vantage-point.

Her throat goes dry.

A game for a child who knows not her own limits.

A minute later, Ida Everstead-Rey skids to a stop below the Wings, swallows, and looks up at them. Words fail her. Say something, idiot girl. At least say something if you're going to draw attention like a foolhardy--

"RIESENLIED!" Ida roars. There's a vestige of the fury she vented against the Wings' commander last time, but now it's at least not coming out of nowhere. "Don't--don't make me do this! I will shut your little party down if--" Her hands twitch. She realizes she's posing like she's drawing guns but does not actually have her ARMs with her.

<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

'Could they be any less subtle'

Oh you poor innocent cupcake, you have no idea

A shadow falls across the battlefield. How? How does a shadow fall at the strike of midnight? Nobody knows. Things just get darker. Impossibly darker. Almost like something were standing in front of all the stars in the--

Oh

There's... there's a weird flickering after-image standing in front of all the stars in the sky. And also the moon.

How else does a man cast an appropriately intimidating shadow in this situation? You have to put your back into it if you want to make an impact. YOU GOTTA SUFFER FOR SHOWBIZ. Performance demands bloodshed!

"Bonerobbers, gravediggers, you who would turn the noble dead into instruments of death, hear my name! I, who stand in the full light of the heavens, command--" The myriad shadows gather into one, a single figure standing on a convenient perch in front of the great silver star...!

"IN THE NAME OF THE MOON!" Zed declares, posing elegantly, "I WILL PUNISH YOU...!"

He leaps! He falls! HE KICKS A SAILOR IN THE FACE! "COME AT ME, BONE FRIIIIIENDS!"

<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

'Could they be any less subtle'

Oh you poor innocent cupcake, you have no idea

A shadow falls across the battlefield. How? How does a shadow fall at the strike of midnight? Nobody knows. Things just get darker. Impossibly darker. Almost like something were standing in front of all the stars in the--

Oh

There's... there's a weird flickering after-image standing in front of all the stars in the sky. And also the moon.

How else does a man cast an appropriately intimidating shadow in this situation? You have to put your back into it if you want to make an impact. YOU GOTTA SUFFER FOR SHOWBIZ. Performance demands bloodshed!

"Bonerobbers, gravediggers, you who would turn the noble dead into instruments of death, hear my name! I, who stand in the full light of the heavens, command--" The myriad shadows gather into one, a single figure standing on a convenient perch in front of the great silver star...!

"IN THE NAME OF THE MOON!" Zed declares, posing elegantly, "I, ZED, WILL PUNISH YOU...!"

He leaps! He falls! HE KICKS A SAILOR IN THE FACE! "COME AT ME, BONE FRIIIIIENDS!"

<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

One of the Drifters hired to protect Warehouse No. 23 is standing a little to the side. Leon Albus is wearing his grey duster, as ever, over the suit vest and black pants. He looks sideways, at the warehouse, and frowns at it for a moment. His eyes close for a moment as he takes a deep breath. Then, he looks at the person with him -- another member of the Yggdrasil's crew. Someone who, really, he has no business of acting like he is in charge of.

Yet, that happened regardless.

"Fei, Josie," he says. He keeps his voice quiet. He almost keeps the awkwardness out of telling them what to do hidden. "We'll stand guard, but when we have a chance--ideally, after the others are gone--I want in there. I've heard some rumors. I want to check them out. But... Bart could use these things, too."

Dragon Fossils were worth a fortune. The Yggdrasil Alliance was not made of gella, either. He looks up, eyes shifting to the sky above, as he sees shapes against the starlight -- and then the cries that call out, as Ida shouts and then hesitates.

He frowns. Leon looks at them. "We need to drive the Wings back. I can appreciate what Riesenlied has planned, but... if she gets those fossils, remember where they could end up. Stick close and don't let yourselves get distracted. If we can grab the fossils and run, do it."

Then, he pops around the corner. Argent Divider swings up to his shoulder, the long, wood-handled shotgun aimed up with both hands. The barrel glints in the lamplight, before a round fires out, hurtling towards the Wings' dragons -- and then explodes into a bright flare in their midst.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

"Valmar's balls," says Jimmy. He takes his eye off the scope for a moment to just look at Zed. He's having trouble processing.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

"--stand down!" comes the immediate answering call of a rather imperious voice from nearer to the warehouse; apparently Noeline had already snuck close enough to the warehouse that you could almost be forgiven for thinking she's part of the Drifters guarding the place. From that, it almost seems as if her yell is a ploy to try to throw the guards into disarray - though she doesn't offer anything more in the way of details following her shout, preferring to let the Drifters assembled make up their own details.

There's a flit of movement, however, as a figure in dark clothes slips quickly from one piece of cover to another - and it becomes obvious that the Crimson Noble is doing her best to move towards a flanking position compared to the rest of the Ebony Wings, the brief flash of something like a crimson blade glinting in the darkness as she sweeps to her next hidey-hole.

Having already tried to sow a little confusion - likely useless, given Zed's grand proclamation - Noeline instead moves onto an appeal; perhaps she's been learning from Riesenlied, though-- "--we have reason to believe that this warehouse is storing components for use in the Golem Sado! The Ebony Wings will not allow that weapon to be used once more, not after the destruction and pain it visited upon human and demon alike. Are you truly willing to countenance such a thing happening a second time?"

--Riesenlied probably wouldn't add the guilttrip at the end...

<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

Leon's flare explodes in the sky. The light blazes into the battlefield. He rises from the fallen crewman, stares Jimmy in the eye, and...

...A skirt flutters.

...

why is he wearing a sailor uniform on top of his usual uniform.

"JUSTICE!!" Zed yells, and then punches Jimmy in the face

<Pose Tracker> Rose has posed.

Large shipment of extremely rare and valuable goods, someone told Rose. It's going to attract bandits, and worse, the Sparrowfeathers deduced - and it belongs to Kislev. If we were to respond to the call for protection we'd be getting a lot of brownie points with them. This caused a bit of internel debates amongst the guild, as they debated whether they were into bodyguarding or not. Eventually a consensus is reached: not really, but we've been trying to make a breakthrough into Kislev's good graces for a while now. There's also no small amount of curiosity about the contents of the shipment.

For completely legitimate reasons.

Due to risk, however, it was agreed the Sparrowfeathers wouldn't send one of their caravans out to the potential slaughter, so much as a handful of folks to keep an eye on things. And so one can find Rose and the Ayn twins, Talfryn and Felice, sitting on the edge of the warehouse's roof, facing its entrance, eating sandwiches as they await morning with everyone else. The sound of wings - the sight of dragons against the night sky - it's unfortunate. And it's not what they expected at all.

"... are those dragons?" Talfryn asks.
"With riders?" Felice echoes.
"Oh. Crap," Rose simply answers, frowning. "Maybe this wasn't such a great idea. You two, can you go down there and get anyone who looks like they can't handle a dragon out of here? I guess I'll... huh... I'll..."
The disembodied voice of Dezel asks: "You have no idea what you're going to do, do you?" and so Rose frowns all the more.
"I WILL FIGURE SOMETHING OUT, THANK YOU," she screeches. Conveniently, that is when Zed gets loud and then dropkicks a sucker. "Liiiiike maybe this, which I -can- handle."

And yet Rose does not because of something Noeline shouts.
Parts for a weapon? That massive thing that was slaughtering people by the dozens on the frontlines? Suddenly, not interfering is looking a lot better than before. The twins make off to pull bystanders out, but Rose remains overlooking the area, hands hesitating on her sheathed knives.

<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Earlier this week, Claude C. Kenny dragged a slightly traumatized and definitely depressed Ida Everstead-Rey into mortal danger based on the assumption that with enough guts and willpower, you can just rub some dirt in those feelings and walk away smiling. He was very wrong about this assumption, although given the circumstances of his upbringing, he can be somewhat forgiven for making it.

To help make up for his error, the young man from definitely not space has been keeping an eye on Ida to make sure she's doing okay. This has mostly meant him standing a little behind her and looking tough, which is something he's used to doing. On the down side, this is not hard work, and so his mind was free to wander to other things, like how he's going to explain to Rena that he's pretending to be a prince so he can fake-marry Cecilia to keep her possibly safe from being badtouched when they surrender themselves to a dirty old man named Shaka Khan.

Even for Cow Patty Planet, it has been a weird week.

It is almost a relief when things show up to him to punch, and even more of one when one of them is Zed. "Oh thank Christ," Claude prays fervently as he darts forward out of the shadows and moves forward. "FOR THE RECORD I AM NOT JUDGING YOU FOR YOUR SARTORIAL CHOICES!" he shouts out loud. "YOUR PRESENCE AT ANY POINT ALONG THE GENDER SPECTRUM IS UNRELATED TO AIR SLASH!"

The last two words are punctuated by the aforementioned attack. Noticing Ida is weaponless, Claude reaches for his backup gun (an Everstead-Rey single-action repeater, appropriately enough) and then tosses the loaded, unsafetied firearm in her direction.

Because AMERICA

GS: Claude C. Kenny has attacked Zed with Air Slash!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

The people of the Ebony Wings have seen Ambrosius in many different states. They have seen him in his familiar poncho and hat. They've seen him gone without, as he did casually in places he felt safe.

They most likely have not seen him fully equipped for combat.

It's a marked charge from his ordinary outfit. His body is covered in a thick, protective suit, and his face is concealed behind a protective mask, with a visor to protect his eyes as well as allowing him to see more effectively in the dark of night. It is the typical outfit of a Veruni operative, though his was a dark red. A set of bags is wrapped around his body. Attached to one is a durable combat knife. At his waist is a holster carrying a bronze-colored revolver.

At the moment, Ambrosius has somehow maneuvered himself near to the Drifter's front lines, without being seen...

He does not attack yet, however. He merely watches.

Waits.

Waits for the right opportunity, the final call on whether they should fight or stand down.

He knew what the answer would be, but he was not one to disobey orders.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

Ragnell is neither a Metal Demon nor a member of the Ebon Wings. But by the same token, she's only a Drifter in the sense that she goes where she pleases. More importantly, Dragon Fossils might be worth a fortune, but she personally has no use for them, and in fact gave a Dragon Fossil she found in a dungeon somewhere to Riesenlied as a gift. ...Actually, has she done that yet? She keeps meaning to.

Regardless, she's got more reasons to help Riesenlied out than not, and while Riese says she wants no bloodshed or killing, that the target is solely the cargo and no one's to significantly hurt anyone, but realistically speaking, when you put yourself up against a bunch of Drifters, you are basically putting your life in the hands of the Goddess.

She rides along with one of the Ebon Wings upon the back of a dorky ice dragon, half-smiling as Noeline attempts to tell folks to stand down due to these being the parts for a deadly super-weapon. Not everyone listens, but then Ragnell figured that'd be the case. She casts her gaze across the defenders, noting Zed and Claude already starting to go at it, and-- "Mm mm mm, well, if it isn't Rose," she murmurs, half-smile growing into a grin.

She is *just* cooperative enough to wait for the Call before actually shooting anyone, however.

<Pose Tracker> Kalve has posed.

Kalve does not often fly. It isn't that he has a problem with it; he just typically lacks an opportunity to do it. His most recent experience with heights was nearly very lethal, though, so he's been considering what to do about that for next time. Next time is, in fact, this time. Convenient how that works out.

"Move for the objective," Kalve transmits. He activates the mic hands-free. His neck quivers like a plucked string in a spot for a span of seconds. It's uncomfortable to watch when it's actually visible. "I will take care of our friend on the ground." Kalve rises to a stand on the back of one of the dragons. He taps its hide with his heel, and then, without further delay, steps out into the open air.

Kalve falls. He passes through the spotlight, a brief silhouette plummeting towards the ground. He changes on the way, his poncho billowing as spidery tines of gleaming steel emerge and shoot out backwards. They strike a tilted wall of scrap metal, an edifice convenient for keeping watch and shining lights -- and for slowing falls. The screech of metal on metal is audible throughout the soon-to-be battlefield.

Kalve lands heavily in a low crouch. He straightens, striding towards the warehouse in plain view. He looks human -- except for the array of spike-tipped limbs curling behind him, the points hot from friction and glowing in the darkness, and the eerie red slashes that cut horizontally through his eyes and light up all the same.

Ida is directly between him and the warehouse. Kalve hasn't said anything just yet, but he's only just about within conversational combat distance. He really doesn't feel like shouting if he doesn't have to.

<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

On the top of a nearby building, several people laying down on the edge of a roof watch matters. One of them mutters, "This is going to be really boring unless -"

A spotlight snaps on.

"I knew the cards wouldn't steer me wrong. That's fifty G from you, mister."

"Did your cards predict that?" says HENRY JOHNS, a platoon leader in a certain military unit. He points towards Zed.

Margaret peeks through the spyglasses.

"... Who is that sassy lost child? Maybe we can recruit him. - What is he even talking about."

Margaret frowns. "I retract my offer of employment. Let's go!"

SOON, a handful of additional figures appear on the map, metaphorically speaking. Outside of the warehouse, off to one side - not the primary entrance. Several people in black cloaks start trying to blast a hole in the side of the warehouse while they are circled, as if by a protecting shark, by a tall woman. (That Henry guy is minding the wagon.)

"Ufufufuh," Margaret says as she makes her leaping, frenetic orbit around the faceless supporting cast. "One way or another, they'll be showing their face today..."

They?! Is she just being mysterious for the hell of it?

(yes)

<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

As soon as Iskandra gets notified the expected visitors have arrived, her black wings unfurl and she leaps down from the building she was standing upon, spotting a person doing a fairly good job at being sneaky. She isn't trying to be sneaky, however, the flapping of wings her size rarely is, and she needs to flap them to land properly.

"If you're with the Ebony Wings," she tells the person she has met once but does not recognize, "this is where you'd turn around and flee. If you're not, this is where you'd get the heck out of trouble. Either way, if you're gonna stay I'm gonna kill you. Nothing personal, money's good." Finger runs around the tip of her blade, and her red eyes almost glow with anticipation, "But if you're going to stay, please make it fun?"

<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

"Claude!" Zed turns abruptly as his SWORN RIVAL'S voice reverberates passionately into the night. "To think that we would meet here, I--" Claude attacks. Zed's eyes widen! A SKIRT FLUTTERS THROUGH THE AIR (SLASH). "I--!"

Zed is leaping, lunging, his expression one of pure, ecstatic joy...!

"I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT ANY OF THOSE WORDS MEAN," Zed says in all caps. He cuts right into Claude's Air Slash, and then cuts right at Claude with a totally ordinary slash. "BUT I DON'T CARE. LET'S YOU AND ME FIGHT!"

yes... this is the power of love... between men...!

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

Ida walks forwards as Noeline attempts to provide a justification for what's happening here. It sinks right into the mud of Ida's psyche, but not before depositing its load of awful emotions.

In her mind's eye, a landship takes a glancing shot from Sado's beam in the stern, and goes flying off like God reached down and flicked it with a finger. Ida can see tiny silhouettes tumbling from its deck. As if in counterpoint, she remembers standing in an alley as a Metal Dragon--a real one, not one of Riesenlied's--stares her down. Its maw opens wide, nuclear fire igniting along its teeth.

Jimmy, meanwhile, gets Zed up in his grill. Perhaps surprisingly, he doesn't crumple with that first punch--he rolls with it like a pro, gripping the rifle to keep Zed from grabbing it. Claude happens a moment later, buying him some breathing room. Jimmy works his jaw, and takes aim. A sniper duel with Jedan starts... now.

Ida stares up at Noeline and Riesenlied and their crew, jaw tight with anger. She looks like she has been betrayed. Kalve showing up is equal parts gut-wrenching and sweet relief. She turns to him, the expression on her face wavering. Her usual emotional control is gone, but she bows nevertheless, slips into an open-handed fighting stance, and moves to strike. She takes a step forward, pivots on a heel, and drives an open palm right for Kalve's side.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Kalve with Open Palm!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Kalve takes a solid hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Open Palm for 120 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Zed takes a glancing hit from Claude C. Kenny's Air Slash for 60 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

"Claude!" Zed turns abruptly as his SWORN RIVAL'S voice reverberates passionately into the night. "To think that we would meet here, I--" Claude attacks. Zed's eyes widen! A SKIRT FLUTTERS THROUGH THE AIR (SLASH). "I--!"

Zed is leaping, lunging, his expression one of pure, ecstatic joy...!

"I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT ANY OF THOSE WORDS MEAN," Zed says in all caps. He cuts right into Claude's Air Slash. Claude's air slash cuts right into him. And then Zed cuts right at Claude with a totally ordinary slash. "BUT I DON'T CARE. LET'S YOU AND ME FIGHT!"

yes... this is the power of love... between men...!

GS: Zed has attacked Claude C. Kenny with Sword to the Face!
GS: Zed has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Riesenlied hears Ida's shout, which alarms her -- but it doesn't surprise her for long. She certainly wasn't expecting her all the way out here, but... given her relation with Fossils, she isn't surprised either.

She hears Noeline's appeal, but some part of her thinks that it probably isn't going to work.

Leon's shots ring out in the darkness, and the flare pops out bright as the dragons move and divert. Those that are familiar with the Dragons would know them; they aren't... exactly like the Metal Dragons of legend. Mostly 12 feet in size, of particular penchant to certain elements, but not particularly... threatening.

One of them -- Thunderh -- lets out an uncomfortable groan in the flash of his flare, and the metal maid manuevers to get out of the way of fire.

Kinda derpy, more like...

"The Golems must not be allowed to operate, for any reason -- let alone to be used as a tool in Aveh and Kislev's neverending war. The Ebony Wings will intervene for the sake of upholding the Treaty of Iscariot!"

She upholds the treaty of dead men and women, and she knows it. Yet she would never forego or besmirch the spirit that they upheld.

She glances towards the dark figures as they start their intrusion into the warehouse, with a frown. "Noeline, there are several intruders by your position breaking towards the target. Please intercept, and--"

She looks towards the rest of the group. "Return fire and defend yourselves, but do not take unnecessary risks. If our target isn't here, we're leaving."

GS: Claude C. Kenny critically Guards a hit from Zed's Sword to the Face for 19 hit points!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Noeline with Seek the New World!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Ambrosius's attention is primarily on the combat lines, but he is not deaf to the goings-on around him. He hears the flapping of wings, and a voice ordering him to flee.

A familiar voice.

Unseen behind the visor, Ambrosius's eyebrows furrow. He hated fighting people he'd worked with before...but she was an enemy.

In one swift movement Ambrosius draws his revolver, turns, and fires. As ordered, he is not aiming to kill - merely to wound or to force her to reconsider her situation.

She had already threatened him. There was no need for a warning shot.

<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

A job's a job, particularly if they're paying.
Even better: payment up front. While, generally speaking, archaeologists are not particularly noted for performing guard duty, the calculus shifts slightly when you're an archaeologist-turned-Drifter. Josie has ruins to find and ARMs-smithing projects to fund, and both take hard cash to do. As does the beer fund.

The Gawain-series rifle is out, propped casually against her shoulder. Penelope, notably, is nowhere to be seen.

"A little five-finger discount, huh...?" she murmurs, voice low in semi-darkness near the warehouse. "Well, we were already paid," she settles for, right shoulder rising and falling in an easy shrug. "Besides, while what's going on isn't any of my business... probably better a few of them don't go to either side, right?"

And even if she bears Metal Demons no particular ire...

...Well, the horde of incoming dragons might just stand as one reason why she can't just let them do however they please.

"Looks like we've got company," she drawls, unshouldering her rifle. "Fei, do me a favor and shout if you see anything dangerous-looking coming this way? Let's see if I can't pick one of them off..."

Let there be light, courtesy of Leon.

Squinting through the front sight of the rifle, Josie takes careful aim, scope slipping across the dark sky until she finds the shape of one of those oddly-shaped dragons slicing through the air.
Time to put the rifle's range to the test.

...Golems must not be allowed to operate, huh...

"Hmm." It's a thoughtful noise.

A thoughtful Josie then pulls the trigger anyway.

GS: Josephine Lovelace has attacked Riesenlied with Front Sight!
GS: Josephine Lovelace has completed her action.
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Iskandra Grendorre with Conversator!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
GS: Riesenlied takes a glancing hit from Josephine Lovelace's Front Sight for 95 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei Fong Wong actually did think that Riesenlied wasn't actually going to start doing attacks on humans again. It seemed like she was content to building her village of love and peace. Of course, people trying to rebuild Sado is pretty much the appropriate target for the Ebony Wings, so it's not too strange. Unfortunately, as Leon and he are here to gather intel, this attack of Riesenlied's may prove to be an opportunity but while Riesenlied isn't inclined to kill folks, he can't say the same for any metal demons that might latch onto this cirucmstance.

"Mm. And we need to eat." Fei admits. "Especially after uh... especially after what happened." Did the gobs steal his money as well on top of everything else, purely to provide an arbitrary setback to Fei so that he has to continue to put himself into situations like these?? You bet!! He was running low on funds anyway since hotel living ain't cheap. Doesn't mean he's happy to be fighting Riesenlied's team so shortly after hanging around their village like a friend.

Like a friend, he laughs to himself briefly. Luckily Leon brings him back onto task with a reminder of the worse case scenario. "We don't exactly want 'em rebuilding that thing either," Fei admits. He's seen what it could do. "But you're right. We need to find out what Kislev's up to."

He glances towards Claude as he starts shouting. He squints faintly. Something about the way he talks... But he doesn't have the luxury to go chasing feelings right now. He pays little mind to Zed, he's obviously the distraction even if ... yeah ... okay ... he's a very good distraction. He turns his head instead towards the 'crimson noble' metal demon spy who is ... shouting at them. He squints further.

He looks over to Leon. "I think... I have an idea. I'll keep Noeline busy." He looks to Leon. "Maybe I can convince her to let us run off with 'em, but to be honest, whatever their plan is, if any of 'em are the lynchpin, I'm guessing it'll be her. Let me know if you need me to back off, or uh--literally just run off with something. I can carry shit."

He then turns and runs towards Noeline, pausing to glance over to Ida.

"Hey Ida. Who ya fightin'?" He glances to Kalve too and--

--and--

ONE THOUSAND YEARS AGO

FEI HAS NO IDEA WHO THAT IS

NOW

--he gives him a casual wave as well before leaping for Noeline, trying to jump kick her in the face.

"Hey Noeline! You got a minute??"

DC: MISS! Iskandra Grendorre completely evades Conversator from Ambrosius!
<Pose Tracker> K.K. has posed.

Dotted with warehouses and aging buildings, the thing that dominates the Jolly Roger is, doubtless, its centerpiece: a massive, decaying ironclad situated at the heart of the town, repurposed as the main hub of the entire town. In many ways, it is an eyecatching symbol of grandeur, evocative of the titans of another era. Very few like to dwell on the reality:

That they are dwelling in the rotting remains of a dead time, in a dying land.

Erosion still steadily whittles away at the large structure like the sprawling carcass of a dead god as the Ebony Wings arrive, seeking a very different sort of remains. The ironclad is largely empty for now, many people vacated or vacating in a way that makes that often decently-thriving hub reek of uneasy silence.

But it is not abandoned.

They are there, perched upon the bent mast of that broken ship. A sight in the distance, barely visible save for the occasional glint of polished white against dwindling light. Easily dismissed. Easily ignored. But they are there, standing upon the repurposed graveyard of a rusted monstrosity of war where once was nothing but that uneasy, empty sky. Filling a void on the cusp of conflict like they were summoned.

For now, they do nothing. Nothing obvious. No --

For now, the Trial Knight just watches events unfold, hands clasped at their back as that faceless helm tilts to bear witness like a dispassionate arbiter slowly weighing their judgment.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

"Sure thing Josie!" Fei adds, midjumpkick. "...Uh." He looks towards the decaying ironclad.

"Uhhhhhh..." He may start shouting for Josie next round.

<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

Now as it turns out, Iskandra knows the general range of responses people have to being threatened with death, and her response was immediate. Sidestepping the shooter with unreasonable ease and raising her blade in response, a swift upwards motion to strike at the mask of her opponent. "Rather rude to hide your face from the lady you're dancing with, don't you think?"

GS: Iskandra Grendorre has attacked Ambrosius with Opening Gambit!
GS: Iskandra Grendorre has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Ambrosius critically Guards a hit from Iskandra Grendorre's Opening Gambit for 20 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Ambrosius!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked Noeline with Violence Becomes Casual After A While!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
GS: Noeline takes a solid hit from Riesenlied's Seek the New World for 0 hit points!
GS: Reload! Noeline gains 15 extra FP from Riesenlied!
GS: Noeline takes a glancing hit from Fei Fong Wong's Violence Becomes Casual After A While for 49 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

Meanwhile, Claude's poor gun hits the ground, shamefully ignored. It goes off with a sharp report, putting a bullet into a nearby wall. Ida does not seem to notice.

<Pose Tracker> Rose has posed.

"This is a mess," Rose comments to herself. She doesn't want to help Kislev get a weapon up and running. If she'd just been informed better - if she'd known this was going to be a weapon, she'd have donned her mask and... well, the thought wasn't one she was especially friendly with, but she'd have been helping the Wings with this venture. Instead she seems to be suck here trying to minimize collateral.

At least if there's one thing she knows she can't agree with, it's the scale of the attack. This was a job for a hit and run, not a battlefield full of dragonfire and... everything else brought to bear.

There's Ida and Kalve fighting again, even.

Rose sighs, and prepares to jump off the roof to go assist Ida, when her sharp eyes catch, upward, a glimpse of something that holds her attention.

"... that who I think it is?" she says, brows raising.
"Yep. Looks like you're not the only one with shady friends." Dezel says.
"Yeah... guess not." She raises her voice. "OI, RAGNELL! YOU GET DOWN HERE THIS INSTANT!"

<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Claude C. Kenny would really, really like to not be having complex feelings about fighting Zed right now. It was so much easier when he could place the Metal Demon into either the 'totally human rival' or 'inhuman monster' boxes in his brain. This is... much more complicated. Which automatically makes it worse. And yet, at the same time, another part of him desperately wants to see whether Zed has pulled anything new out since Lacour. Because he most definitely has.

Zed leaps in to meet Claude, and the blonde swordsman is waiting for him. Zed once observed that the downside of trying to fight your regular sparring partner is that you begin to know all of the other's tricks; Claude sees the slash coming a second and a half before it's delivered. The last time he tried to block this strike from Doombringer, he lost a good three inches off his utilitarian longsword. This time, the curved-bladed sword Gamgee gave Claude at the end of the Lacour Tournament meets Zed's strike, and the comprably thin blade holds firm.

And Claude's right hand flickers down to his leg holster, drawing his new mainline ARM; not the Everstead-Rey repeater he's been carrying for months (that landed a few feet away from ida after she didn't catch it and discharged harmlessly into a wall). It is instead a large, heavy, four-barreled pistol that looks more like the bastard love child of a sawed-off shotgun and a hand cannon. He found it in a stupid robot tower and immediately fell in love with it. It is a really, really big gun.

And Claude unloads two of the four barrels toward Zed's belly from about three inches away.

GS: Claude C. Kenny has attacked Zed with Lancaster Pistol!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

That reaction was not unexpected. He had had an opportunity to judge Iskandra's behavior before, though he had yet to see her in a proper fight.

His hand extends, catching the blade before it can strike his mask. It cuts into his glove somewhat, but he doesn't seem to either notice or care. Instead his other arm swings around, attempting to slam the durable butt of his revolver, Conversator, into the side of her head.

He didn't often use the weapon for that purpose, but, well...it was in his hand.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Riesenlied hears the gunshot before she sees it, and before she can do anything about it, Josephine's bullet has plunged through her shoulder and suddenly sent her flying--

"Muniii?!"

--and crashing down onto a pile of crates on the nearby warehouse, groggily collapsing onto a pile of heaped wood.

"Sniper fire, distance 880 sharls or thereabouts -- 345 angle--" Riesenlied reports with a cough to the rest of the group, to where Jedan's already returning fire to try to smoke Josephine out of her own sniper's nest with his own rifle -- armed with rubber bullets.

Right near where Leon is, in fact, if he wishes to engage in melee.

GS: Ambrosius has attacked Iskandra Grendorre with Butt of the Joke!
GS: Ambrosius takes 8 damage from Poison!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
DC: MISS! Iskandra Grendorre completely evades Butt of the Joke from Ambrosius!
GS: Zed takes a glancing hit from Claude C. Kenny's Lancaster Pistol for 50 hit points!
GS: Josephine Lovelace has attacked Riesenlied with Front Sight!
GS: Josephine Lovelace has completed her action.
GS: Riesenlied takes a solid hit from Josephine Lovelace's Front Sight for 82 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

Oh hey, there're some other familiar faces here too. Like Josie! Ragnell hasn't seen her or her pigeon in a while. She likes the way she stops to think, then engages in violence anyway. It's so human of her. And that's totally not sarcasm. There's also a lot of faces she doesn't know, and those she's able to see, she makes a small mental note in case they end up becoming important or noteworthy later. And...

There's a figure in white armor, watching over the battlefield from afar... Ragnell's grin fades as she notes their presence; then Rose yells her name, and Ragnell looks down. "Oh, are we fightin' already?" she says, nonchalant, as if it weren't already a big brawl. "Well, it's been real, Dva. See ya later." She pats the Ebon Wing who may or may not even be able to see her, then bunches her legs beneath her and leaps down towards the ground. She lands in a flash of lightning, her element softening her fall, and stands up with a grin a ways away from Rose.

"Howdy!" she drawls, pulling her twin pistols. "Mm mm mm, helpin' out with the construction of weapons o' mass destruction, are ya, Rosie?" She tilts her head. "Or were you lookin' to scope things out? Mind you, either way, I'm here to give Riese a hand, *sooo*--" And without further ado, she raises her pistols and fires off a pair of shots at the assassin. Simple, neat, quick, and with no warning besides what's implied.

GS: Seraph Ragnell has attacked Rose with Twin Bullet!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

And by the time it gets to Iskandra's head, she's backed off some. "So impolite, how is a lady to enjoy killing someone when he doesn't even bother to either put up a good fight or scream? Tsk, tsk, tsk." She takes a glass flask out of her belt, containing a clear liquid and takes the opportunity to glance at it a moment, almost making it seem like she plans to drink it, then she flings it towards Ambrosius. Whatever it hits, the impact shatters the flask and spreads the corrosive liquid, a reasonably strong acid.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Dva is stuck lamenting that she's currently floating above the seas of Jolly Roger, unable to see Ragnell. Why can't these dumb humans fight underwater? Grow gills already.

GS: Iskandra Grendorre has attacked Ambrosius with Acid Flask!
GS: Iskandra Grendorre has completed her action.
GS: Ambrosius guards a hit from Iskandra Grendorre's Acid Flask for 24 hit points!
GS: Break! Statuses applied to Ambrosius!
GS: Rose takes a solid hit from Seraph Ragnell's Twin Bullet for 100 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Leon isn't, ultimately, the least bit surprised when Josephine starts shooting. She was never one to hold back. He looks sideways at Fei, then nods. "Don't underestimate her," he says. "And keep safe."

The blonde-haired man is rather surprised, however, when Riesenlied crashes down into the ground in front of him. He gasps once, staring at her. His silver eyes widen -- and then narrow. "Riesenlied," he says. He snaps his shotgun to the side. The barrels unfold, and then the narrow longsword blade telescopes out. "I know why you're doing this... and I don't intend to let those go to Sado, either."

He frowns.

"...But I don't want to see them in your hands, either," he says. "That puts us at odds, does it not?"

He may be talking -- but he is also buying Josephine time.

<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Conversator whiffs as Iskandra backs away. Ambrosius frowns slightly behind the mask, but he doesn't seem to be in a particularly talkative mood today. Even that jab at him doesn't seem to particularly affect him.

He studies her for a moment as she draws out a vial. He prepares to shoot it out of her hand, but instead of drinking it she hurls it directly at him. He swipes Conversator at it, but the bottle breaks, splashing acid everywhere. It gets on his revolver and his suit. It's not pleasant, but the suit is particularly durable...still, there was the risk of it eating through if he left it to its purposes. He takes a step back and quickly invokes some Ether.

His body is coated in a mist, cleaning the acid away before covering his body in a protective shield.

GS: Ambrosius has attacked Ambrosius with Cleansing Waters!
GS: Ambrosius takes 8 damage from Poison!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
GS: Ambrosius takes a solid hit from Ambrosius's Cleansing Waters for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield! Statuses applied to Ambrosius!
GS: Restore! Ambrosius clears debuffs from Ambrosius!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Josephine Lovelace with Counter-Snipe!
GS: Leon Albus has attacked Riesenlied with Holding Pattern!
GS: Leon Albus has completed his action.
GS: Riesenlied takes a glancing hit from Leon Albus's Holding Pattern for 0 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Josephine Lovelace takes a solid hit from Riesenlied's Counter-Snipe for 149 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

What do you do when the thing you thought was a monster... isn't? Claude isn't exactly the only one tussling with identity. Zed isn't quite sure either. On the one hand, his people deserve a home; they deserve a place to belong. But on the other, to claim that home is to kill and kill and kill. Destroy everything. Set it all ablaze. Siegfried would say that's the right path; that humans are nothing but treacherous, honorless insects that need to be exterminated for the good of the world.

But is that really the case?

Zed doesn't know. It's complicated. He'd much rather just fight someone right and proper. The complicated stuff gives him a headache, it makes him drink. This is so much easier to understand.

He understands swords.

He also, it seems, understands guns.

"CLAUDE!" Zed roars as Claude fires. He has three inches to dodge. Three inches to parry. Doom Bringer whirls, sparks burst across the blade. One shot splits, burying a fragment of lead in the demon's gut. Zed's lips part in a fierce, excited grin. That's right-- this time, there's no Harken to disturb them. He can go all out...!

Zed's spirit surges. His blade erupts as if ensconced suddenly in the light of the full moon. Claude had seen this trick before-- but that doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be easy to block. After all, it's less a 'technique' and more 'Zed getting way too hype for his sword to take.' Everything that follows is pure swordplay. The demon lunges, parrying briskly up into the underside of that four-barreled gun before launching into a fierce series of heavy, pounding blows!

GS: Zed has attacked Claude C. Kenny with RayBlade - Zed Saber!
GS: Zed has completed his action.
GS: Claude C. Kenny takes a glancing hit from Zed's RayBlade - Zed Saber for 63 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

And while the body gets coated in mist, the black-winged mercenary. At least, that what Iskandra is tonight, closes in, trying to take the opportunity provided by the obscuring nature of any mist to get a quick hit in at to his midsection, before moving beyond and trying to land an elbow in his neck. "You're never going to get anything done if you don't actually start hitting me, you know."

<Pose Tracker> Rose has posed.

"I didn't KNOW this was for a weapon. I think you can guess what I'd be doing if I'd known," Rose says, making the mistake of not being on-guard until it's too late. Ragnell is hostile, it turns out. That's not a good surprise. She narrow manages to leap aside, if we can call it narrow; there's a gash going through her right side, the blood barely visible as it stains her already red tunic. Rose glares at the Seraph, reaching for her knives.

"YOU seem to be helping in pointless bloodshed though, so I'm going to have to ask what kind of high ground you think you have right now!" On the bright side it's highly unlikely Rose will hold a grudge against Ragnell. On the other hand it's also unlikely she'll hold back.

"I guess we'll just have to keep each other occupied so neither of us can be said to be doing anything bad tonight, won't we?" Trying to maim each other isn't anything bad by her definitions, apparently! "Besides you owed me some sparring, so this'll do!"

Her knives come out - Ragnell isn't the only one who can become lightning. Electricity dances along the blades as Rose surges forward, in the same motion she uses to unsheathe them. A single blade fully outstretched up front to stab as the assassin makes like a bolt of lightning, trying to return the favor of having her sides shot out by... stabbing Ragnell's sides out.

GS: Iskandra Grendorre has attacked Ambrosius with Foul Play!
GS: Iskandra Grendorre has completed her action.
GS: Rose has attacked Seraph Ragnell with Lightning Tiger Blade!
GS: Rose has completed her action.
GS: Ambrosius critically Guards a hit from Iskandra Grendorre's Foul Play for 19 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

From the Drifter's point of view, the figure calling out is not a terribly imposing one - she doesn't even look like the sort of person who should be sneaking around, a girl looking just about old enough to be past her teenage years, wearing a sleeveless vest and a light skirt and with dark red hair in two long twintails. A familiar sight for anyone who's spent time in Wayside as of late.

By any rights, she shouldn't even be able to sneak as well as she is; her clothes are predominantly white and red - and yet somehow she's managing to stick to the shadows so effectively and nimbly that it's almost possible to lose track of her when she next shifts. She's obviously trying to push further into the warehouse, though whether that's strictly part of the plan or something she was just doing to hedge their bets, it isn't strictly clear.

At Riesenlied's instruction, though, her hand goes up to her own microphone, speaking lowly into it. "Understood. I'll--" she begins to say, but doesn't get any further than that - not when there's the unexpected rush of Fei Fong Wong hurtling through the air towards her out of nowhere. It's a testament to her reflexes that she's able to put her arms up in time - but she does grimace as she catches the attack dead-on, pushed back in a skid until she feels her back hit a wooden crate.

When she looks up, it's almost bemused. "I would have thought that you, of all people, would be happy to see Sado silenced--" she begins to say, before the rest is lost in the sudden clamour as the battles around them get underway.

At least she doesn't seem inclined to actively attack back - instead, she flicks a hand out, sending two familiar little white-metal spheres to eagerly beep and buzz around Fei. It would be almost endearing were they not peppering the area around his feet with light shots, trying to restrict his movement. "Would you perhaps stay there?"

GS: Noeline has attacked Fei Fong Wong with Trouble and Strife!
GS: Noeline has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Riesenlied has to put her trust that Jedan'll cover her -- she's not equipped to deal with an opponent at such a range, especially when...

...her eyes widen as she watches Leon approach, his shotgun snapping and the sword extending from it. "I do understand that. And that does put us at odds..." she murmurs through a wince she's trying to not tremble from -- she lifts herself as she draws her own sword, so much thinner and fragile compared to Argent Divider.

She knows Leon wouldn't do this without reason, in a battlefield -- he's too aware of everything that's going on. He's buying time... and given that Josephine's been around the Yggdrasil -- is it for her to accomplish her objective?

She can't waste time here.

"Can I trust you'll put them to better use...?" Riesenlied has to ask him -- she grits her teeth, and concentrates as she draws that massive, clawed arm of hers back. A shimmering burst of photons starts to surround her, and she's shielded as a thin wash of energy attempts to push Leon back.

GS: Riesenlied has attacked Leon Albus with Rising Heart - 'Spirits Within'!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Ragnell takes a glancing hit from Rose's Lightning Tiger Blade for 50 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! Statuses applied to Seraph Ragnell!
GS: Fei Fong Wong critically Guards a hit from Noeline's Trouble and Strife for 8 hit points!
GS: Leon Albus takes a solid hit from Riesenlied's Rising Heart - 'Spirits Within' for 81 hit points!
GS: Riesenlied takes Cover! She gains 50 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

It might seem obscuring to Iskandra...but Ambrosius could see just fine. She charges at him. He catches the first strike with one hand, and the elbow to his neck is stopped by the butt of Conversator's grip.

She says he won't get anything done if he doesn't start hitting her.

He takes that into consideration.

With a brief gesture, the mist around the two of them begins to whirl and converge into a dangerously swirling blade that goes flying dangerously toward her.

While he is busy with Iskandra, Ambrosius is unable to keep an eye on how the battle is progressing elsewhere...troublesome, but he would just have to hope the others could handle their own tasks.

GS: Ambrosius has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Iskandra Grendorre with Aqua Cutter!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
DC: MISS! Iskandra Grendorre completely evades Aqua Cutter from Ambrosius!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

"'Pointless'? Really, Rose?" Ragnell replies, raising an eyebrow. "That's a hell of a thing t' say when you just admitted what you'd be doin' now if you'd been fully informed. Anyway, I'm not aimin' for moral superiority, I just like fuckin' around with you." Ditto goes for Ragnell: no grudges here, only the pure enjoyment of battle. That she's here to help Riese is almost secondary by comparison, even though that's her stated reason for being here in the first place.

And as Rose said, she's been wanting to fight her for a while anyway. And, let's be real: Rose no doubt has wanted to kick Ragnell's ass for a long time, too.

Rose charges at Ragnell, literally, lightning dancing along the shining arcs of her blades. Ragnell dances with her as she closes in for the cut, but her steps aren't swift enough to avoid a hit entirely; the edge gashes shallow but long along her left side. It looks nasty, but Rose'll have to do better than that if she wants to make Ragnell retreat.

"Works for me," she drawls. "On both ends!" She keeps running past Rose, arcing around in a semi circle, as one of her pistols charges visibly with golden power; then she fires into the air. "Squall Shot!!" she calls; a moment later, a thunderstorm of lightning bolts and needle rain pour down towards Rose, aiming to both drench and shock her if she's not quick enough to avoid the worst of it.

<Pose Tracker> Kalve has posed.

Kalve stops when Ida turns. He returns her bow, his expression as composed as ever. She seems angry, he thinks. He briefly returns Fei's glance and tilts his head towards him in acknowledgement. It's as close as a Metal Demon gets to going 'sup' unless you're, I dunno, Zed.

Ida comes at him. Kalve adopts a familiar defensive stance as she does, his footing solid and his hands raised. As she attacks, he hears a gunshot go off in his immediate viciniy, and assumes a second attacker is flanking him with her. His head twitches to the side towards the source -- and he spots Claude's tossed revolver, abandoned and alone. Did someone serious throw a loaded weapon with the safety off--?!

WHAM.

Kalve stumbles to the right. He hops two short steps, then plants his foot, twisting and leaning and delivering a spinning backhand that moves too smoothly to be entirely muscle-driven. It's a simple maneuver, one that he's shown her before, intended to strike her in the side or back and knock her off-balance. The difference between the maneuver she's reproduced and this one is twofold, though: first, his innate and practiced capacity for shapeshifting makes his reach and potential momentum deceptive; and second, he's leaving behind a shroud of metallic dust that swirls around him like a cloud of insects wherever his hands go, making it potentially difficult or dangerous to try that again.

"You're upset," he observes, perhaps too casually.

GS: Seraph Ragnell has attacked Rose with Squall Shot!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

If there is one thing Claude can agree with Zed on right now, it's that it's nice to just focus on fighting and turn your brain off. (Yes, there is a difference from his normal state. Somehow.)

The boy from Earth tosses the Lancaster pistol up into the air before Zed can cut at it (he really, really likes that gun) but the movement prevents him from concentrating fully on his defence. Zed's first cut catches Claude square in the side, and he grunts as air is blasted out of his chest by the force of the strike, although the Federation armourweave hardens to prevent the blade from slicing through. The second is met with a half-hearted parry that deflects the strike just enough for Claude to stumble backward a couple of steps. Int he time it takes Zed to close, Claude's feet are back under him, and he brings Gamgee's blade up in a horizontal parry to meet the descent of moonlit Hyadean steel.

A bell tone peals out from the contact, and Claude grits his teeth, muscles straining. Zed's sword comes within three inches from his collar, but no closer.

"ZEEEEEED!" Claude roars back, feinting a disengage in the direction of the falling four-barreled pistol; instead, he disengages and ducks downward, bringing his left hand off his sword hilt, blue-yellow chi flickering into life. Claude's hand and shoulder blue into motion, a dozen punches ripping out toward the metal demon swordsman - face, chest, and then the rest are all face again.

GS: Claude C. Kenny has attacked Zed with Meteor Palm!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has completed his action.
GS: Kalve has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Liquid Metal!
GS: Kalve has completed his action.
GS: Rose takes a glancing hit from Seraph Ragnell's Squall Shot for 50 hit points!
GS: Seraph Ragnell takes Cover! She gains 50 temporary hit points!
DC: MISS! Zed completely evades Meteor Palm from Claude C. Kenny!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Kalve's Liquid Metal for 65 hit points!
GS: Kalve takes Cover! He gains 50 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

"So you can see through that just fine. Good to know." Iskandra is no stranger to magic however, and by the time the mist forms a blade she's already moving out of the way with that unreasonable speed of hers. "Magic, well, you're at least resourceful. I have to wonder, though." She closes in for a quick kick, "I'm self-taught, you don't strike me as an amateur, so what's the problem here? Can't stand to hit a girl?"

GS: Iskandra Grendorre has attacked Ambrosius with Rapid Strike!
GS: Iskandra Grendorre has completed her action.
GS: Ambrosius takes a solid hit from Iskandra Grendorre's Rapid Strike for 74 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

"I certainly think so," Leon answers. "But, I don't know that you'd think so. If those are going where I think they are... " He looks back at the warehouse for a moment, and then he looks back at Riesenlied -- at her own sword. Argent Divider lifts, one-handed, and the silver blade glints in the starlight -- and then brighter, as the wash of energy slams into him.

It strikes, knocking him backward. His feet stumble over the ground, dancing with the movement to keep up and not stumble. But, then, he kicks off the ground, and moves at Riesenlied.

"I'm not convinced, though, that your attack on the means to make war won't end in tragedy!" He lunges, twisting around. Leon arches his body around -- and he comes crashing down for her, swinging his sword down for the Tainted commander's midsection.

GS: Leon Albus has attacked Riesenlied with Raze Slash!
GS: Leon Albus has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Riesenlied takes a glancing hit from Leon Albus's Raze Slash for 55 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

"You're right." Fei says. "I hate golems and, well, fighting." Says the guy who just jumped into a flying jumpkick as a 'hello there'. "But we're here to gather information. Can't let you run off with those fossils just yet." He pauses. "And it's a bit late to just make a deal about it, you know? Mid-fight like this?" YOU STARTED THE FIGHT FEI. "I mean, you know, mid-attack rather than specifically this fight." He clarifies further.

"Those guys..." Fei says, recognizing these things from when Adelyhde was on fire. He hops back a few feet, bouncing away from bullets before, actually yes he does this, lashing out with his foot up into the air in a straight kick and slamming them down on the bullets, kicking them to the floor in a single maneuver.

"What do you plan to do wiht the dragon fossils once you've got them?" He asks. "Hate to tell you this, but the Ygg's after 'em too, so I don't know if we can negotiate this time."

He leaps for one of Noeline's 'options', as if to jump kick that into her, but he shifts his knees up and instead pounces on top of it before leaping back down to throw a headstomp for Noeline's skull, feet first!

"Besides..."

He frowns for something. "...You feel different than normal. Did something happen?"

This may be news to Noeline. He glances over to Leon and can't help but agree with the sentiment. "...What he said." He adds.

<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

As Iskandra moves out of the way of the Aqua Cutter, Ambrosius gets Conversator back into a firing position. She's much faster than he expected, however, and before he can fire she kicks the revolver right out of his hand.

He backpedals slightly, flexing his fingers. He had certainly felt that one, and she raised a good question.

Why couldn't he hit her...? Had it really been that long since he'd been in a proper fight? Was he just rusty from inaction?

He pushes those thoughts aside and lunges forward. As he moves he draws his combat knife and swings in a wide, deadly arc in front of him.

GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked Noeline with Quick Kick Combo!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Iskandra Grendorre with Scything Swing!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

Fei asks who Kalve is. Ida's throat constricts. What is she supposed to say? She turns to her friend, and her mouth moves, but nothing actually comes out. Someone shoots Riesenlied out of the sky; Ida sees her fall out of the corner of her eye, and that horrible relieved-sickened feeling gets worse.

It doesn't help that she spent like four days camped out on Kalve's porch, waiting for him to come home. There were still biscuit wrappers there when Dean hauled her stuff out, an obvious tell if ever there was one.

Ida takes the hit straight in the side. It knocks the breath from her; pain spikes through her ribs, and she sags a little, gasping. She rises, looks her boyfriend in the eye, and says: "Yes." Saying more takes a bit more focus, which she doesn't have right now.

Ida tries to backpedal, her gaze darting around for an exit--she can hear Jimmy opening fire from somewhere, but she's not sure where, and that big Demon with the rifle seems to be on anti-sniper duty. Nothing she can do about him at the moment. "I have had an uncomfortable week. This is not helping matters." She advances on Kalve, trying to put some pressure back on, but the off-hand strike she launches is jerky, unfocused. It's more of a shove than a proper palm-strike, honestly.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Kalve with Offhand Shove!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
DC: MISS! Iskandra Grendorre completely evades Scything Swing from Ambrosius!
GS: Noeline takes a glancing hit from Fei Fong Wong's Quick Kick Combo for 47 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Rose has posed.

"Yes, pointless! There're workers here, people who have nothing to do with the war! Drifters who took a job without knowing what it was because they wanted work! ... alright, that one's kind of them, me included, but it's not worth getting them caught in this," Rose argues, just as Ragnell invokes DIRTY SERAPH MAGIC aka a bit of a hole in Rose's training. One she's been crossing, certainly, but that's still quite wide.

Lightning blasts the assassin back. Luckily, her reflexes make up for her lack of experience dealing with sorcery of any kind (whether it's coming from a gun or not Rose isn't about to discriminate), and she manages to throw herself away from a diretc hit, denying Ragnell two in a row. She's still momentarily stunned by the lightning.

"This could've been handled way better, is all I'm saying! Without involving all of the bystanders and Drifters in the area." She avoids saying something mean about Metal Demons and their methods, even if she wants to.

Rose blurs, suddenly; in a sudden burst of speed, she actually gets all the way around Ragnell and behind her in an instant, as if disappearing and reappring. Her knives sing in the air, slashing countless as though there far more than just two in her hands. "Is that why you were in Adlehyde when the Demons attacked? To HELP them?" She sure hopes the answer is no.

GS: Rose has attacked Seraph Ragnell with Thousand Swords!
GS: Rose has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

"Well, no matter." Iskandra ducks below the knife and past Ambrosius, then flaps her wings to create some distance as she tosses a flask below her wings and towards him. The flask turns out to be full of some awful, smelly corrosive liquid. Not the same kind as the last flask, this almost feels like the product of an experiment gone wrong. Regardless of what it is, it's not good for people.

GS: Iskandra Grendorre has attacked Ambrosius with Flask Toss!
GS: Iskandra Grendorre has completed her action.
GS: Ambrosius guards a hit from Iskandra Grendorre's Flask Toss for 55 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

Or engage in melee with the group coming in from the ground, Fei-- that also technically helps her, considering her current (aggressive) sniper role.

She hit--

Something. Something drops from the sky in the darkness, plummeting to land heavily a ways in the distance.

Josie's stance only dips for a second, muzzle pivoting in a short dance. "Don't think I hit one of the dragons," she mutters, glancing sidelong at Leon. "Try and keep 'em--"

Dark eyes widen briefly.

"--shit--"

Too many. Nowhere to go. Not enough time.

It goes without saying that -- rubber bullets or not -- this swath of the warehouse yard is torn up by the force of the rounds. Crates, previously standing as quasi-cover, are thrown up into the air in a shower of debris. Somewhere in the midst of the wreckage, Josie twitches, half-covered with shattered pieces of wood. She coughs, wincing at the notable ache radiating from her... everything as she slowly pulls herself upright, stance guarded as she keeps half an eye out for whoever -- they were nearby, she's sure of it -- just attempted to take them out.

The serious question is, does her own personal sniper see her, rising from the wreckage of what was once suitable cover? And more importantly, does Leon see where the sniper's hiding?

For now, she'll have to trust that she's not backing herself into a trap, as she plunges into the uncertain shelter of the lee of the warehouse. And that, as she holsters the rifle and ascends -- lopsidedly, somewhat slowly, with the assist from some helpfully undamaged crates -- that nothing else will just pick her off.

But these are the chances one takes in life. Upon hauling herself up over the lip, she hangs low for a moment, listening.
...Sounds like Leon's found someone to tangle with, at least. She'd love to give him a hand, but there's one -- several -- large problems with that.
A half-second more and she slides the rifle out, once again aiming up for the beasts that hang in the air above. They have an advantage she doesn't particularly care for. She closes one eye as she lurks there, as low as she dares while still able to attain the angle she needs.

Well, it's not every day you get to shoot dragons, she supposes.
She opens fire.

GS: Josephine Lovelace has attacked Riesenlied with Have a Blast!
GS: Josephine Lovelace has completed her action.
DC: MISS! Riesenlied completely evades Have a Blast from Josephine Lovelace!
GS: CRITICAL! Seraph Ragnell takes a glancing hit from Rose's Thousand Swords for 75 hit points!
GS: Cripple! Statuses applied to Seraph Ragnell!
GS: Kalve guards a hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Offhand Shove for 36 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

Unbreakable extraterrestrial metal meets unyielding Filgaian steel. Each impact reverberates through each blade. Electrons driven mad by the force surge and leap, shedding bursts of light that flash with each and every impact. This is how it's supposed to be. Nothing but the interplay of strike and counterstrike. Zed's grin only grows wider. The ancient alien feels his heritage singing hallelujahs in his veins.

Were all Hyadeans born to fight?

Who knows? But Zed was. Zed is.

Zed chases as Claude disengages. Zed laughs when his rival goes for his gun, and laughs again when instead he decides to just go for the fisticuffs. Claude's fist don't contact Zed's eminently punchable face. Each fist meets another fist. Each blow is bet with another blow. Punch to punch, knuckle to knuckle. Claude's hands burn blue-yellow. Zed's shine violet-green. It's no surprise that one would learn from another.

This is how it was meant to be.

"CLAAAAAAAAAUUUDE!" Zed screams, meeting Claude fist to fist one more time before chasing in with a flurry of his own. He opens with a right hook, then steps in with a series of body blows. He surges forward, his fist a black comet that burns violet-green at the point of impact: An uppercut straight to the jaw!

<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

The knife whistles as it cuts through the air...but not, as it happens, Iskandra. She is already gone. Ambrosius swings the knife again, this at the flask as it flies toward. Some of the liquid inside still manages to get on him, but less than if he had hit it directly.

Her temporary retreat gives him time to pick up Conversator once more. He aims and then fires...this time aiming for those wings of hers. If he could debilitate them, it might make it easier to land a hit...right now, it was the best he could hope for in this situation.

GS: Ambrosius has attacked Iskandra Grendorre with Wing Clip!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
GS: Zed has attacked Claude C. Kenny with METSU SHORYUKEN!
GS: Zed has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Claude C. Kenny takes a solid hit from Zed's METSU SHORYUKEN for 145 hit points!
GS: Iskandra Grendorre takes a solid hit from Ambrosius's Wing Clip for 37 hit points!
GS: Slow! Statuses applied to Iskandra Grendorre!
<Pose Tracker> K.K. has posed.

They fight, like it is inevitability. Attempts to resolve the situation a formality before blood is appropriately shed. The tips of metal fingers drag against their clasped gauntlet. A horned helm tilts, reflecting turmoil against its polished surface.

Conflict. Unavoidable conflict.

"..."

The silence from the Trial Knight is a weighty contrast to the battle that rages on below. Their attention turns towards Ragnell as her attentions drift from them to Rose -- and then that selfsame target of the Seraph's. A lone finger taps at the back of their opposing hand, a slight, metallic ring in the comparative quiet. They shift, taking a lone step forward...

... and in the distance, a shell of soft, white light shines brief like a shooting star before the knight in white armor disappears within the ephemeral folds of space...

...their next step on solid ground taking them to the rooftop of the warehouse Drifters and Ebon Wings fight so bullheadedly over.

There is no act of aggression on K.K.'s part, despite their reputation. They seem more interested, for now, in watching, their attentions drawing from fight to fight, from weaved spells to squeezed triggers, from straightforward conflict to ones more weighted in history... before their focus settles finally upon Riesenlied as she attempts to fend off both Leon and Josephine -- as if the actions of the Tainted commander in particular held the lion's share of their interest in being here today.

The Trial Knight is not one to shirk from their word, after all.

<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

There it is, finally Ambrosius manages to land a hit. The gun hits the wing, tearing through and doing sufficient damage, causing the hellion to bleed. "There we go. Now we have a fight." She sounds almost relieved really, but that doesn't stop her from taking out a flask and swiftly raising it to her lips, downing the liquid inside and tossing the flask aside. "Can't have you slow me down, though."

GS: Iskandra Grendorre has attacked Iskandra Grendorre with Swift Draught!
GS: Iskandra Grendorre has completed her action.
GS: Iskandra Grendorre takes a solid hit from Iskandra Grendorre's Swift Draught for 0 hit points!
GS: Quick! Statuses applied to Iskandra Grendorre!
<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

With something of a rueful laugh, Noeline's hand flicks up in front of her; the crimson scythe in her hands was definitely not something she was holding a few moments ago, but she brings the almost ornamental weapon up to respond to Fei's feinting kick on Strife - and when it doesn't come, is able to read enough of her opponent's movements to plant her feet apart as she hefts it higher, catching the martial artist's downwards strike on the weapon's haft.

It's hard to say what Noeline was expecting of the other man's strength, but it's probably fair to say she's underestimated him; she's forced to shift, and throw the strike roughly aside rather than fully meet it. "--bury them," she adds bluntly as she flits away to one side in a long dive and roll, trailing sparks behind her where her scythe meets ground. Rather than a dodge, it's more a way to maneuver further into the warehouse, leading Fei after her. "They are our dad. I-- imagine that the bulk of Metal Demons would prefer to put them to use, admittedly, but the Ebony Wings would rather they get to rest."

There's a pause, and Noeline tilts her head as she hops back up to her feet, a half-amused smile on her face. "Perhaps I should ask what the Yggdrasil will do with them instead? --well, it isn't as if I particularly mind, myself," she admits with a shrug. "So long as they aren't going to Kislev, or being used to fight fire with fire. I can at least say with relative certainty that that would end in tragedy, for sure."

Suddenly, she's shifted on her feet to lunge forward in a darting strike - that uses the flat of her blade, sweeping the crimson weapon up in a broad arc to try to carry the man into the air and back into a pile of crates.

GS: Noeline has attacked Fei Fong Wong with Pointed Commentary!
GS: Noeline has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Riesenlied tries to keep her focus -- it's been more and more difficult to keep focus, even in the wake of her senses getting more and more frayed and extended ever since encountering Equites. It has been a problem for combat, and it's showing itself now.

Atop that, she hasn't exactly been a powerhouse in combat -- and the sheer strength of Leon and the weight of Argent Divider rattles against her thinner blade as she struggles to parry it, and it cuts through and draws red blood from her side as she tries to twist off off him.

"It won't go to my brethren," she hisses weakly. "I only seek to bury these ancient dragons. To give them proper rest."

She hears Cetiri -- her mother's voice over her comm. "Riese, don't overexert yourself. We are uncertain of the effects your meeting has--"

Josephine's powerful rifle shot rings through the air, and it's with a screech that Salamandra twists and suddenly breathes fire, melting what would've been a dead-on sniper bullet into slag.

"We're not gonna hold this position long, Riese," Jedan reports with a grimace as he tracks where that bullet's come from to take aim once more, firing back in more rapid fashion to try to continue to push Josephine out towards open ground. "Don't think we're going to get away with the prize if it's really here!"

Everyone's yelling at her, and she can't blame them. Riesenlied shakes her head as she says, "Just hold on for a bit longer! Devet, how's--"

"--babybackbabybackbabybackbabyback--"

"--still working," she murmurs, before turning towards Leon again. Her sword is rattling as she tries to keep it steady, where her muscles are screaming at her. She looks like she could fall down.

She closes her eyes, the Dragon's Tear shimmering at her neck. An emanation of empathic flow surrounds her, and she takes a strike, slashing thin air. A flurry of photonic needles lance forward, trying to scatter around Leon's position to force him to reposition.

"Form, light, and descend thus from a paradise long lost!
Rising Arte... Sterling Sea!"

She doesn't look like she's used to these new... powers of hers, but it's the best she can do right now. Physical swordplay will just overwhelm her.

GS: Riesenlied has attacked Josephine Lovelace with Slag the Bullet!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Leon Albus with Rising Heart - 'Sterling Sea'!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Leon Albus takes a glancing hit from Riesenlied's Rising Heart - 'Sterling Sea' for 104 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

"Ohhh, *that's* what you mean," Ragnell utters, understanding dawning. She wonders briefly what her employers told her about the situation; it probably doesn't matter, though. "Riese actually has orders out not t' kill anyone, she just wants the cargo an' split, if that makes you feel any better, an' you'll note I'm not attackin' anyone besides you, a human who I know damn well can defend herself. Beyond that, you'll have to take it up with Riese herself--"

Lightning bullets rain down, literally, but Rose isn't so easily caught when she's expecting an attack. The sheet of rain between them is helpful in terms of giving Ragnell a bit of cover, but Rose literally cuts right through it before reappearing right behind Ragnell. The Seraph is fast, but that bit of speed was unexpected, and Rose gets in several good slashes before Ragnell's able to thrust herself backwards into a roll to avoid the final blurring strikes. She's a bit slow to rise to her feet as a result, but even as she is, magic weaves itself at her feet as she calls up a Seraphic arte.

"Would I'a helped y'all out if that were true?" Ragnell says dryly, before snapping a hand up. "Lightning!" A bolt strikes down towards Rose from above, sizzling down with plasma heat and a loud CLAP. "In short, no!" She didn't even know the Metal Demons at that point (Zed doesn't count). "Honestly--"

Light flashes nearby, on the rooftop of the warehouse everyone's all up in arms about, literally. Ragnell glances over, and seeing the Trial Knight gazing down upon at the various battles, her lips peel back into a chuckle.

She doesn't deem fit to point them out to Rose, though. Let her notice for herself.

GS: Seraph Ragnell has attacked Rose with Lightning!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Claude C. Kenny had a great plan called 'punch Zed until he runs out of face to punch.' Unfortunately, Zed sees his bet and doubles on the raise, unleashing a flurry of strikes that Claude barely manages to block, each impact sending him staggering backward. He raises both arms up to deflect the crosses and hooks, but his elbows start to drift apart, opening his guard to a strike from below.

Which Zed provides.

Claude's vision goes white as Zed's fist connects, and he goes flying backward in a lazy spin, trailing a thin line of blood and spittle from his mouth. The blonde swordsman lands hard, bounces, then lands again on his belly; he tries to get up, then falls forward and barfs out what's left of his dinner.

(Bad luck, Boy from Earth! Bad luck, bad luck!)

Get up, a voice tells him, and Claude tries to comply, dragging himself up the wall of the warehouse, trying to blink stars out of his eyes. He's pretty sure the AWMS that hit him is somewhere in that direction, and so he stamps down on the ground. The effort nearly sends him keeling over, but the resultant wave of spikes rips vaguely in Zed's direction... and also ida and Kalve.

Claude blinks and shakes his head, teetering perilously.

GS: CRITICAL! Josephine Lovelace takes a glancing hit from Riesenlied's Slag the Bullet for 82 hit points!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has attacked Kalve with Ripper Blast!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Ripper Blast!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has attacked Zed with Ripper Blast!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has completed his action.
GS: Fei Fong Wong takes a solid hit from Noeline's Pointed Commentary for 86 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Claude C. Kenny's Ripper Blast for 54 hit points!
GS: Kalve critically Guards a hit from Claude C. Kenny's Ripper Blast for 12 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Zed takes a glancing hit from Claude C. Kenny's Ripper Blast for 35 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Actually landing the hit doesn't give Ambrosius any satisfaction. This was strictly business, after all, and his aim wasn't to kill. He had to remind himself that the important thing was keeping Iskandra tied up and out of the fight proper, even if that meant keeping himself busy, as well.

He does not go for another shot with Conversator, he has a feeling he would just be wasting bullets at the moment. Instead he conjures another Aqua Cutter and sends it flying toward Iskandra. This one is much easier to see coming, and therefore less dangerous...but still quite the threat. It could carve through stone, after all.

GS: Ambrosius has attacked Iskandra Grendorre with Aqua Cutter!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Rose guards a hit from Seraph Ragnell's Lightning for 72 hit points!
GS: Cripple! Statuses applied to Rose!
DC: MISS! Iskandra Grendorre completely evades Aqua Cutter from Ambrosius!
<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

And this time, the alchemically sped up hellion leaps up against the wall and past the aqua cutter, and as she flaps her wings, she uses a little magic to enhance the effect of that. Not to make her fly, but to enhance the motions of the wind that come from such a thing. "Keep trying, maybe you'll make this fun yet." She sounds annoyed more than anything at this point.

GS: Iskandra Grendorre has attacked Ambrosius with Cold Winds!
GS: Iskandra Grendorre has completed her action.
GS: Ambrosius takes a solid hit from Iskandra Grendorre's Cold Winds for 97 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Leon is rather strong. At over six feet and in good shape, he has a lot of muscle to him, even if he tends towards speed more than sheer might. He finds his blade meeting hers, sparks flying, until his sword draws blood when it strikes. The red blood surprises him -- the red blood, like his own, instead of like the Metal Beasts and handful of Demons he struck down, during the Battle of Adlehyde.

His grits his teeth, but he nods. He tries to keep track of where Josie is. It isn't easy. The battle with Riese demands his attention, and then she swats his sword aside -- and photonic needles surge forward. They strike, some burning into his coat, others slashing by his legs, and one slamming into his chest.

It blows him backward. Leon flies through the air, and then he rolls a couple of times, before he comes up into a three-point stance. "I get why you want these things buried... but there's dangers in hoping the past will stay buried. Others won't let it stay there--and you're in a rare position to have the resources to deal with it!"

He snaps Argent Divider. The long, narrow blade telescopes inward -- and then its barrels snap into place. He aims at Riesenlied, then fires a shot off. The round erupts, a caustic, rust-colored glob of material hurtling towards her.

GS: Leon Albus has attacked Riesenlied with Rustshot Round!
GS: Leon Albus has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Riesenlied takes a glancing hit from Leon Albus's Rustshot Round for 31 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Riesenlied!
GS: Riesenlied enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> Rose has posed.

"That so? Guess I misjudged. Still a sloppy strike if you're asking me, but if you're so sure everyone gathered'll obey the orders given..." Rose has to admit, if Ragnell's telling the truth, it changes quite a lot. In that case, all Rose really has to do is look busy enough that she can claim she tried to defend the wares and get some faction points from Kislev. Probably not a lot, but more than if she'd stood by.

"SHINING MIRROR!" she intones, at the sight of lightning yet again. Rose's knives slice a circle up ahead, and a temporary shield interposes itself between the Seraph and the merchant. Round, glimmering and blue, it's a bit of a mix between a mirror and the surface of a lake, but more importantly it lessens the incoming bolts quite a bit.

Sadly they still get to Rose, and while she remains on her feet, she falls to one knee from the pain, grunting.

"Glad to hear it. On both counts. But -" But what? We'll never know, because suddenly, K.K. appears. Ragnell and Rose had, after all, been fighting on the roof. The appearance of the Trial Knight would be hard to miss.

Rose extends a hand, knife and all, towards Ragnell, as if calling for a momentary halt in the punching - and from the way she glares at K.K. it might be obvious why. Will Ragnell take the free shot?

"Trial Knight! What are YOU doing here?"
It's a simple question, and Rose hopes he'll actually answer it. With words. PLEASE with words and not with stabbing, she's in no state to be trying to fend him off.

<Pose Tracker> Kalve has posed.

'Yes.'

Kalve nods, once, in acknowledgement. "I apologize for my part in it. I do not intend to cause you distress," Kalve says, all while he stalks forward after her. He seems to ignore the battle all around them, focusing entirely on Ida rather than the carnage the Wings' appearance is causing. He stops when he sees her center of balance shift, recognizing her sudden change in posture and moving to intercept. He turns her awkward palm strike aside with a spiralling motion with one hand, the swarm of metallic particles pressing against her forearm and helping push it aside. They become inert a moment later, turning to so much dust.

He starts to say something else, but he suddenly half-turns instead, bringing his arms up in front of him. A wave of spikes shoots out of the ground, rolling towards him like an ocean wave. He extends one arm and sweeps it downward, driving the metallic cloud into the spikes. They come apart just before they hit him, the gleaming shards turning to dust as whatever he's unleashed chews it up and promptly comes apart itself. Kalve's left with slashes of grey powder on the ground all around him where the field would have gone.

One of his spider-like arms snaps out and then back in, passing something into one on his left side. The spike tip contorts, gaining joints and splitting into fine digits. The extra limb levels Claude's own tossed revolver at him, and then empties it back in his general direction... minus one bullet already spent, of course.

Kalve looks back to Ida, a moment of concern crossing his face. "Are you alright?" He doesn't seem to have a problem getting into a fistfight with her, but when someone else shoots spikes at her? That's where he draws the line.

GS: Kalve has attacked Claude C. Kenny with Your Own Gun Against You!
GS: Kalve has completed his action.
GS: Claude C. Kenny takes a glancing hit from Kalve's Your Own Gun Against You for 42 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Ambrosius crosses his arms in front of him in a protective stance as the Hellion leaps into the air and flaps her wings at him. He wasn't sure what to expect...but whatever she did, it seemed to pierce right through his guard as the winds rush through him, breaking his stance and forcing him backward.

It takes a second for him to regain his footing, and when he does he reaches upward. The vapor in the air around Iskandra will coalesce then rush toward her, attempting to cling to her and restrict her movements in the hopes of giving him an easier time of lining the next shot.

GS: Ambrosius has attacked Iskandra Grendorre with Troublesome Tides!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

"Bury them?" Fei is confused. "What?"

He is confused and, in fact, further distracted as the Trial Knight suddenly brightens (not that he can see the Trial Knight as a Trial Knight) and actually freaking teleports. "What the fuck???"

He lands into a crouch and glances up at the rooftop. They're inside now, so he can't see the Trial Knight, but his presence lingers in his psyche regardless. He can imagine two reasons for this mysterious entity to be around and one of them is to be aloof but being distracted when fighting a metal demon is hardly ever a good idea. He is caught upside the head and he goes down onto his back, "Guhh..!"

He lays there for a moment, hissing in pain. "Bury them? They're your DEAD? The hell??" Corpses are being literally turnd into weapons? "Probably sell 'em or use 'em. At least, that was the plan before we found out they're corpses! You aren't shitting me, are you..?"

He glances up for a moment. He feels uneasy about that presence, however.

He rears back with his arms from his downed position. He shoves his hand forward and sends a chi blast up towards Noeline--she isn't the only target though. The blast aims to punch all the way through the roof and sears a hole through it. It's not going to hit K.K but it was clearly trying to.

He doesn't like that Noeline is drawing him further into the warehouse. He needs to keep his eyes on the others. Ida seems to not be doing too well regardless. "Hnn...." too far to call for Josie help too.

GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked Noeline with Guided Shot!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Iskandra Grendorre takes a glancing hit from Ambrosius's Troublesome Tides for 82 hit points!
GS: Jam! Statuses applied to Iskandra Grendorre!
GS: Noeline takes a solid hit from Fei Fong Wong's Guided Shot for 100 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

"No one else cares!" Ida says. She glares daggers at Riesenlied, her anger overtaking her for a moment. At least it's not the complete lack of feeling, so Ida counts it as an improvement. "These are our property! I will not let you beggar my family for your damnfool crusade!" Leon has a good point. It goes right over Ida's head. It's safe to say that this is the angriest he's ever seen her; prior to a few weeks ago, she really wasn't one to express unpleasant emotions in public under normal circumstances.

Fei freaks out. Ida feels like he's gone and punched her in the gut. And Rose--

Ida's eyes go almost perfectly round as she turns to observe the figure in immaculate white armor. Everything else just kind of fades away for a few moments--Kalve, Claude, Fei, the battle around her. Even Riesenlied just kind of vanishes.

A game for a child who knows not her own limits.

<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

It's a very good idea, and Iskandra is caught by it, but even then her response is swift enough to turn what could have been disasterous into a less severe setback. The coalescing vapour gets into her feathers, into her clothes, and she looks more than a little annoyed. However, she begins to shake it off as she picks another flask filled with the results of a failed experiment and tosses it towards Ambrosius.

GS: Iskandra Grendorre enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Iskandra Grendorre has attacked Ambrosius with Flask Toss!
GS: Iskandra Grendorre has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Ambrosius critically Guards a hit from Iskandra Grendorre's Flask Toss for 20 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Ambrosius!
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

There's something viscerally satisfying about feeling a clean blow connect. A trembling shockwave shoots up the length of Zed's arm as he crests upwards, spiralling in mid-air while Claude goes flying. The demon lands, green-violet flame still flickering around his fists. "Hahahaha! That was a good, clean blow! How did you like that Cla--"

Zed turns.

Zed stares at Claude.

Claude... Loses his lunch.

"Uh," Zed starts, looking altogether unsure of what is going on but also definitely grossed out by the puddle of blood and partially digested food congealing on the ground. "Uh. What-- Human, what the devil did you just extrude? Is this some kind of chemical weapon?" There's a beat as he just sort of stares. "That's not even-- Why are you humans full of so many fluids!?"

Zed is... Still on guard!

That's the only reason he doesn't get right proper skewered by that wave of spikes. He whispers a curse as he darts to and fro, earthen spikes splitting upwards and RIPPING HIS VALUABLE COSPLAY TO SHREDS. How dare you, Claude C. Kenny...?

Zed leaps boldly into the air! He pivots mid-leap, extending a single, violet-sheathed leg! IT'S A FLYING KICK!

CLAUDE, IF YOU'RE WELL ENOUGH TO STONE SPIKE, AND WELL ENOUGH TO TAKE A BULLET, YOU'RE WELL ENOUGH TO GET KICKED IN THE SOMEWHERE IMPORTANT

GS: Zed has attacked Claude C. Kenny with Inazedma Kick!
GS: Zed has completed his action.
GS: Claude C. Kenny guards a hit from Zed's Inazedma Kick for 54 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Iskandra manages to shake off the effects of his Ether quickly enough, but it still gives him enough time to line up the next shot. He fires Conversator, piercing right through her thrown flask(and getting some more of the liquid on himself in the process, but there was little he could do about that) and continuing on toward Iskandra herself.

She was a resourceful opponent in addition to her speed, he would give her that...

GS: Ambrosius has attacked Iskandra Grendorre with Conversator!
GS: Ambrosius takes 6 damage from Poison!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
GS: Iskandra Grendorre takes a solid hit from Ambrosius's Conversator for 94 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

Strictly speaking, if Riesenlied *doesn't* have enough control of her subordinates to make sure they obey her commands, then she's not much of a leader. But Ragnell is sure that won't be a problem. Her people are loyal to her, because she's loyal to them. That's a complicated matter to get into, though, especially when they're in the middle of trying to shootstabmagic each other. At least Rose's hanging in there so far, opting to shield herself against the incoming blast--but when K.K. appears nearby, Rose... well, it *would* be hard to miss them, wouldn't it?

Rose holds out a hand to call for a halt, and while Ragnell *could* take the free shot, the stakes aren't high enough for this fight for her to do so. She eases up, twirling a pistol around one finger, and half-smiles. "Yeah, Trial Knight, what're *you* doin' here?" she lilts. It almost sounds like a taunt, albeit for whom is unclear. It's really just Ragnell being Ragnell, though.

<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

And that, Josephine thinks to herself with a slight frown as her bullet is handily melted with a gout of fire, is why she was more worried about the dragons.

Bury, hell, they've got enough force here to give the fossils a funeral pyre if that's what they wanted.

Though she may have more pressing concerns shortly. She's hardly flat on the roof -- what with her target being overhead -- and even if she tries to stay low, the fact remains that she's a sitting duck, so to speak.
Particularly if it turns out that her mystery sniper has about the same advantage, height-wise, that she does.
The rubber bullet slams into her right shoulder, knocking the archaeologist -- who lets out a sharp cry -- flat onto her back even as she attempts to twist out of the way of the oncoming projectile.
It could be worse, she thinks, staring up towards the dark skies above. It could have been her left shoulder.

She rises up, settling into a low crouch. Badly off, she thinks, but not out of the game.
And what's more, she saw where that shot was coming from, this time.

As quickly as she can -- one bad hand, one shoulder that's seen better days, a body that hurts pretty much everywhere -- she reloads. One of the other bullets, she thinks. Yes.
Time for a special gift, then.

This time, she can stay flatter against the rooftop.

Hersnd unless she's completely off, her personal gadfly tonight is right... over...
Well, hello there.

It's only in the fleeting aftermath of taking that shot that Rose's cry meets her ears.

Josie freezes where she crouches. What? Where--

GS: Josephine Lovelace has activated a Force Action!
GS: You have activated the Force Action Snipe!
GS: Josephine Lovelace has attacked Riesenlied with Bitter Pill!
GS: Josephine Lovelace has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Riesenlied takes a solid hit from Josephine Lovelace's Bitter Pill for 142 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Riesenlied!
<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

The shot hits, straight on, and this is when Iskandra laughs, despite the fact she's in clear pain. "Oh now we're getting somewhere. It's a shame we've gone on too long, I can't really justify dragging this out for much longer. But, I'll give you one moment's reprieve." She promises, taking another liquid to her lips and taking a swift gulp. "Get ready."

GS: Iskandra Grendorre has attacked Iskandra Grendorre with Regeneration Draught!
GS: Iskandra Grendorre has completed her action.
GS: Iskandra Grendorre heals Iskandra Grendorre! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Claude C. Kenny is not having a good day. his head is spinning, his lunch is over there, his sword is over there, his gun is in a third place and his other gun is being used to shoot at him. The rounds slam into Claude's back and side, sending him stumbling down, and he nearly keels over.

And then Zed comes tearing in.

The boy from Earth is not sure of much right now, but he's pretty sure that the green monkey with half a skirt and snarled pigtails is probably trying to kill him. And if he's sure of another thing, it's that he really does not want to die.

A split second before Zed smshes Claude into the cobblestones, the blonde swordsman twists his body to the left; Zed's foot clips Claude, spinning him around, which leaves the young man facing the Hyadean's back for the barest of moments. Claude surges in, wrapping his arms up under Zed's shoulders, then trying to lock the green-haired fighter into a full nelson.

(Extrusions, Boy from Earth! Extrusions!)

Through the strain of trying to maintain the hold, Claude pulls his right hand toward his mouth; he pops his pinky finger into it, moistening the digit with slightly bloodied saliva. Then, teeth bared with the effort, he slooooooowly begins to move the pinky ever closer to Zed's right ear in the most ancient and forbidden technique known to man: the wet willy.

<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Dragging this out? It sounded as if she was planning something. He would have to be careful of that...

He had to agree, however. It would be best if this ended sooner rather than later. He extends a hand again. Water begins to swirl and converge around it.

It does not take any particular shape or form. This time, it simply takes the form a powerful, high-pressure beam.

This technique has been known to pierce through the hulls of battleships before...but that was a stationary object. How well would it do against a moving target?

GS: Ambrosius has activated a Force Action!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has attacked Zed with Tactics Claudre - Let Us Cling Together!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has completed his action.
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Iskandra Grendorre with Pressure Beam!
GS: Ambrosius takes 6 damage from Poison!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
GS: Iskandra Grendorre takes a solid hit from Ambrosius's Pressure Beam for 169 hit points!
GS: Zed takes a glancing hit from Claude C. Kenny's Tactics Claudre - Let Us Cling Together for 51 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

Turns out, it does fairly well. It blows a chunk out of the side of Iskandra, more than her regeneration inducing potion can deal with. But nonetheless, it doesn't seem to be enough, and the hellion's red eyes gleam as she moves. "It's been fun, but playtime is over." She insists, and then rushes in, moving faster and more accurately than she has done this entire battle.

And while before she was measured and relaxed, now she is little other than fury incarnate, her speed enhanced by her enthusiasm, delivering blows more rapidly than ought to be possible considering the force behind them, combining the swift movements of her blade with kicks and off-hand punches in one giant attempt to overwhelm her opponent.

GS: Iskandra Grendorre has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Riesenlied's vision is beginning to waver, and things are starting to get blurry. She hears the errant, burning sound of gunfire from Leon, as he moves through the air and takes aim at her. She grimaces as she holds her hand out to try to shield herself with another whorl of photons.

The round overtakes her, and she's pushed back with a rattling motion and actually is thrashed through a window of the warehouse and into it.

"They're used everywhere," Riesenlied finds her voice flaking as she tries, in pain, to get back up. She feels the burning sensation start to filtrate through, joining an already highly impure concentration of materials in her blood. It hurts. "In household materials, in architecture. Ida has told me of a city of Dragons overseas, Guild Galad."

A literal necropolis, for her.

"And I still am willing to stomach that. But I can't stomach them being used for wanton destruction, for greedy ambition. I can't let this be the fate of my ancestors," Riesenlied trembles as she climbs back up to a standing position. She hears Ida throw barbs at her. "They deserve better..."

Riesenlied's blade begins to shimmer as those photons once more warp around her, and this time, she--

--explodes into a phantasmal outline of herself.

An ebbing flow of photons shaped like a disc opens itself from nothingness, at Leon's flank, as she emerges with a pained look on her face -- this technique harms her considerably -- to attempt to drive the flat of her blade to try to disarm Argent Defender from him.

"... They deserve better than to be used as tools of war!"

Josephine's next shot rings true, and there's a screech as Salamandra rather visibly agitates as the high-powered round shreds straight through her wing. Jedan growls as he shouts, "Riese, I'm hit! Rubber's not gonna stop that sniper for long, and she's right above you on the roof!"

"Just hang back and recuperate on Rendezvous Point F12!" Riesenlied is haphazardly issuing orders even as she's fighting, unaware that a certain Dragon she came with...

...

...

Josie can see a bright yellow object above her. It's making an adorable screeching sound. Coming... coming... coming... bigger...

"MUNIIIII!!!" it screeches. It's not stopping.

Uh oh.

GS: Iskandra Grendorre has attacked Ambrosius with Empire Shatterer!
GS: Iskandra Grendorre has completed her action.
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Leon Albus with Rising Sword - 'Illusory Dominance'!
<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

For once, Noeline drops that light, lilting tone - and almost seems surprised as she lifts her eyebrows up high, her scythe dropping for just a moment. It isn't that she's not taking the battle seriously - that much is clear in the way she moves - but at the same time she seems willing to take every opportunity to not be attacking the martial artist in front of her, more intent on playing defence than actually going on a full assault.

"--what else would a 'Dragon Fossil' be?" she wonders aloud, as if the truth were self-evident. "You've seen the Dragons yourself - Metal Dragons - and a fossil is exactly what it sounds like. Otherworldly metal just happens to be significantly better for making weapons with than bone is, wouldn't you say?"

Maybe that teasing note isn't all gone - but her gaze is steady enough that it doesn't seem like she's lying. Still-- she flicks her eyes up at the same moment as Fei does, the hairs on the back of her neck rising as she sights the Trial Knight.

She's never really sure what to make of K.K. on the whole - but she can't deny that he seems to be a source of strength for Riesenlied, even if he's just as often a source of worry and stress. Either way, it's hard for Noeline to pick out why he's here, only feeling a certain sense that something must be up.

What the Trial Knights' presence does do, however, is rob her of some of her attention, a rather unladylike yelp sounding out as Fei's sudden blast of energy knocks her backwards and off her feet, impacting with a collection of dusty, old-looking crates that immediately splinter and fracture around her, leaving her in a pile of old trade goods. She seems to be mostly alright - there's another swing of the flat of her scythe, scattering the pile of what appear to be long-forgotten rations before she becomes buried in them - but there's a distinct grimace on her face as she has to take a moment to roughly wipe herself down. "Ugh."

The next moment the air around her seems to ignite with an odd sort of blackness, burning the rest of the mulched wheat and smushed food off of her; Noeline grins unpleasantly as the dark flame coalesces into the palm of her hand, raising it to run the odd flicker across the blade of her scythe. Somehow, it clings there, spiralling around the blade.

GS: Riesenlied has attacked Josephine Lovelace with M-U-N-IIIIIIIIII!!! 'tr.: Riese I'm coming to save you!! DX'!
GS: Riesenlied takes 8 damage from Poison!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
GS: Noeline has attacked Noeline with Duras Drum's Blade!
GS: Noeline has completed her action.
GS: Noeline takes a solid hit from Noeline's Duras Drum's Blade for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Quick! Statuses applied to Noeline!
GS: Ambrosius has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ambrosius critically Guards a hit from Iskandra Grendorre's Empire Shatterer for 36 hit points!
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Riesenlied's attack becomes clear!
GS: Josephine Lovelace takes a solid hit from Riesenlied's Rising Sword - 'Spiriting Away' for 165 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

"Wh--" Zed stammers when Claude does the impossible and gets so drunk that he actually manages to dodge. Not just that, but he straight up gets Zed in a full nelson! What is this!? This... This human grappling technique!? Zed struggles against his friend-foe's terrible grasp. Somehow, he can't manage to break free! It's almost as if... As if he had learned to wrestle by grappling ogres!!

But that's not the worst part.

The worst part is that pinky. That terrible, dripping, ooey gooey finger. "Wait--" Zed's eyes widen into saucers. "Claude. Claude no. What are you doing with that. This is not fighting, Claude. THIS IS NOT FIGHTIIIII--"

                                  *Squlsh*

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA--"

Zed's voice is... piercing. It's that specific pitch of scream that sounds like a cat sharpening its claws against your brain. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA--"

Zed

Does the only thing he can do in this situation

Something inside him-- some tiny, angry voice, tells him what he must do

His hands shoot up. His fingers seize around Claude's...

Oh.

Oh no.

That's-- that's a--

GS: Zed enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Zed has attacked Claude C. Kenny with Purple Nurple!
GS: Zed has completed his action.
GS: Claude C. Kenny has activated a Force Action!
GS: CRITICAL! Claude C. Kenny guards a hit from Zed's Purple Nurple for 99 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> K.K. has posed.

Trial Knight! What are YOU doing here?

It would seem, at the very least, that fortune smiles on Rose today; as she calls out to the white-armored knight, there is no force to answer her with -- there's hardly anything. K.K. hardly so much as budges as that name is called out to the winds. They do not look her way. And though the sight of them unarmed as they are means relatively nothing, all things considered, they do not even so much as summon those weapons as Ragnell's voice joins in the questioning chorus. What is the Trial Knight here for?

"I come to honor a pact."

Those words, cryptic as can be, come only once the shot of Leon's Argent Divider rings out through the open skies; despite the cacophony, the knight's voice carries clear and dauntless, as if it couldn't -not- be heard.

"You see now," they observe, almost off-handedly.

"But allow your distractions to carry too strongly. My concern is not with you this day, Rose of the Sparrowfeathers. Quarrel not, and so it shall stay."

Their head tilts, slowly.

"The time to settle accounts shall come. Focus yourself upon your task; your opponents shall not be so merciful as this Seraph in the future."

With that, K.K.'s attention once more turns towards the battlefield, apparently intent to leave their words at that, hands uncrossing in a subtle, ready sign. The weight of wide eyes rests upon them; their head tilts...

... and focuses, squarely, on Ida, as chi fluctuates beneath them. They shift, with subtle slightness, to their right.

"You yet play at your games, child."

BOOM

And from behind them, stone -bursts-, chi ripping through rooftop in a shuddering explosion of power that goes just barely too wide to hit them. K.K. does not flinch; does not retreat.

They stand fearless, the white-hot ebb of life burning away at white cloth behind them as the weather that explosion. And only then do they turn their back to Ida below, attention turning towards the crumbling hole within the rooftop to peer within.

As if Ida were not even worth even the passing weight of their scrutiny.

<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Ambrosius's Pressure Beam manages to land successfully, but it doesn't seem to deter Iskandra. If anything, it seems to only excite her. She rushes at him with a flurry of blows...but even in the heat of battle, Ambrosius manages to remain calm.

With knife and revolver in hand, Ambrosius parries swings of the blade with his knife's guard, deflects punches with the butt of Conversator's grip, and blocks her kicks by being in the proper position.

When it's done he backpedals and points Conversator at her, unloading the rest of the cylinder at Iskandra. He'll have to reload afterwards, but...

GS: Ambrosius has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Iskandra Grendorre with Conversator!
GS: Ambrosius takes 7 damage from Poison!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
GS: Leon Albus has activated a Force Action!
DC: MISS! Leon Albus completely evades Rising Sword - 'Illusory Dominance' from Riesenlied!
DC: MISS! Iskandra Grendorre completely evades Conversator from Ambrosius!
<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

Frustrated seeming that this wasn't nearly as effective as it should be, Iskandra moves backwards, but even then she doesn't allow it to prevent her from paying attention, and as soon as the Conversator is pointed at her, she is already moving out of the non-conversational adversary's aim, and the bullets go wide. Immediately, she throws another flask at him.

GS: Iskandra Grendorre has attacked Ambrosius with Flask Toss!
GS: Iskandra Grendorre has completed her action.
GS: Ambrosius used Mystic on Ambrosius! 100 Temporary HP gained! All statuses cleared!
GS: Ambrosius has activated a Force Action!
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Iskandra Grendorre's attack becomes clear!
GS: Ambrosius critically Guards a hit from Iskandra Grendorre's Mystery Liquid for 27 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Rose has posed.

The roof quakes after an explosion puts a hole through it. Rose remains on her feet, only barely. She can't take her eyes off the Trial Knight, even as he clearly states he has no business with her and to, basically, mind her own business lest the business get bored and stab her.

"... fine then, enjoy your business. But I've been meaning to say something to you for a while, so I'll say it before you inevitably get into a scuffle of your own: thanks. Not for the gaping hole in my chest, just for opening my eyes. Next time WE trade blows I'll show you everything I've learned from the Shepherd!"

Could K.K. tell, she wondered, that she made a pact with the Shepherd? His eyes seemed sharp enough to see the invisible, so she had no doubt.

But for the time being, the assassin turns back to Ragnell. "Well, sorry to keep you waiting. Let's resume, shall we! Seems like we still have some time to kill before we can each go our own way!" What with everything STILL exploding everywhere around them.

Rose rises, gripes her knives, and makes for Ragnell again. This time it's not lightning or speed she calls upon, but flames, as she leaps and comes crashing down to deliver a flaming Rider Kick to the Seraph, and a slash with each knives once down if that doesn't suffice!

GS: Rose has attacked Seraph Ragnell with Rising Phoenix!
GS: Rose has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Ragnell takes a glancing hit from Rose's Rising Phoenix for 68 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Ilia Silvestri-Kenny is a martial arts master without parallel and a woman of nearly infinite will and determination. She has trained her son for most of his life, methods of which have included:

-curing him of fear of spiders by throwing spiders at him
-teaching him to dodge by throwing cars at his face
-curing him of fear of cars flying at his face by throwing more cars at his face
-and so on
-and so forth

But even she has not prepared her son for the possibility of such shattering nurple-shredding power. Claude C. Kenny's world erupts in pain, and a primal scream escapes his lips. In that moment, the fuzzy effects of the concussion passes, his fatigue passes, his doubts pass. All that remains is two pinpoints of sheer agony.

And blinding, petty, childish rage.

Claude's left hand grabs at the front of Zed's costume, digging deep into the battered, wispy little red bow there. His right hand comes up, and a blazing sphere of chi manifests. Blue light blazed outward, coalescing into a solid thing, forming fangs and spines and draconic features, until a dragon forged of fury lives and breathes, enveloping Claude's right arm. The dragon howls, and Claude does the same. "THIS IS!" he screams as he pulls the arm back, then drives it forward.

But not in a punch.

The fanged, furious maw snakes downward and clasps upon the read band of the Hyadean's undergarments. "MYYYYYYYYYYYYY EVERYTHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!!" Claude roars, setting his shoulders as he starts to pull, pouring every ounce of power into his attempt to turn the back of Zed's boxers into a new headband.

GS: Claude C. Kenny has attacked Zed with Dragon's Howl!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

"Fate of your--nnh. Of course," Leon says, with a frown. He shakes his head, quickly, to her. "I can understand that."

He stands his ground, and sees Riesenlied appear -- teleporting for all intents and purposes -- right next to him. He jumps back, swinging up Argent Divider. The weapon whips upward, and he narrowly moves it away from her strike before she can rip it from his hands. "Unfortunately, when things grow dire--I don't know that humans are left much choice!"

He leaps, and the photons from Riesenlied's appearance leave an afterimage that Argent Divider breaks through. He swings the weapon backward, and the barrels flip out again. The longsword's blade telescopes outward -- as the top barrel slides down.

Then, a blade of shimmering white light explodes off it, energy coating the whole sword. He rushes in, lunging at her, and grips the blade in two hands.

When he cleaves down, the energy blade is what chops for Riese's side, with a flash -- before it erupts into a burst of motes of light, that glow and then fade.

GS: Leon Albus has attacked Riesenlied with Code.26 CLARENT!
GS: Leon Albus has completed his action.
GS: Zed has activated a Force Action!
GS: CRITICAL! Zed takes a glancing hit from Claude C. Kenny's Dragon's Howl for 100 hit points!
GS: Riesenlied takes a glancing hit from Leon Albus's Code.26 CLARENT for 78 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

With its cylinder empty, Ambrosius returns Conversator to its holster. There would be no time to reload it, at least not yet. Not unless he could get a little more room to breathe.

Iskandra seems to aim not to give him that, yet another flask coming flying toward him. A barrier of water springs suddenly to life around him. The flask shatters against it, while the barrier absorbs the liquid.

Ambrosius extends his hand toward Iskandra again. The watery barrier, still laden with the contents of Iskandra's flask, though they had probably been diluted at this point, begins to transform into yet another Aqua Cutter, which is sent flying toward Iskandra.

GS: Ambrosius has attacked Iskandra Grendorre with Aqua Cutter!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Iskandra Grendorre takes a solid hit from Ambrosius's Aqua Cutter for 225 hit points!
GS: Iskandra Grendorre has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

"I thought it was a metaphor!" Fei says.

He pauses his attack, allowing Noeline plenty of time to recover as he considers this new information. Dragon fossils are used in everything. He glances back towards Riesenlied for a moment. Guild Galad, where June thought he was from, is an entire city built of corpses? "You know what you're saying right, then?" He looks back to Noeline. "An entire city like that? All that tech. Nevermind the weapons."

Somehow this knowledge which would normally set Fei too dithering to do battle has had the opposite effect. That's because if what Noeline is saying is true... then their goal isn't just to stop Sado. "Where are you going to bury them? At Wayside?" He asks. "Where are you going to bury them? You know that wherever you put them, someone's gonna wanna dig them up! If you bury them near Wayside, that'll put the town in danger, so I'm sure that's not what you're thinking of--but you can't stop them from being dug up again anywhere else. You can't win this fight, Noeline, not like this. So long as there is a use for them. If you don't want humans using dragon fossils, you're gonna need to find something better than that so they have no reason to want it anymore. Otherwise they'll fight for it, even if the cost is awful!"

It's hard to tell if that backfired or not, but it may be startling that Fei was able to think that far ahead on basic human nature in that short a timeframe.

Trial Knight, he thinks, that person's name is Trial Knight? He wonders, in this moment, why he thinks of that time he returned to the ruins of Lahan.

"...God dammit..." He says, looking up again, then back down to Noeline. He weighs his choices before him. Fight Noeline for the dragon fossils, or help stop a friend from being mindfucked. It's an easy choice.

"Dammit!" He yells again, running towards some crates to the side, running up them and then bounces off to a hanging hook. He swings from it to and fro before throwing himself through that very hole he made, catching the side of the roof and hauling himself up.

He narrows his eyes at the Trial Knight. Yeah, he thinks, they even wear a mask like he does.

"I don't know what your problem is." He says to her. "You... you're with Grahf aren't you?!"

He moves in straight for a quick punching combo followed by a roundhouse.

"Back the hell up and leave her alone!"

For a guy who claims to hate bloodshed he sure is quick to start with the hurting people he hasn't met before.

GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked K.K. with Hoten!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
GS: K.K. guards a hit from Fei Fong Wong's Hoten for 69 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

Her mounting frustrations combine with the gradual accumulation of wounds and the overall length of the fight. Being mostly self-taught, Iskandra never quite learned how to properly pace herself, and eventually one of those big spells had to hit cleanly. This is the time, she's flung back and out of the alley by the force of that spell, the wounds inflicted fairly nasty. She tries to push herself up to keep fighting, but realizes that she doesn't have the strength. She glares at the person responsible, quite clearly frustrated when she spits out the words, "Fine, you beat me. Happy?"

<Pose Tracker> Kalve has posed.

Kalve lowers the gun. He looks at it for a second, and then tucks it away somewhere beneath his poncho. He looks back at Ida, who has tuned out from the world in what seems like shock or terror.

For a moment, Kalve feels at a loss for what to do. A battle? He knows what to do. A battle with someone he cares for caught in the midst of it, frozen on the spot? That's much more complicated. Strictly speaking, it would seem they're presently on opposite sides of this conflict, but those lines are getting blurred as seconds pass.

Kalve follows Ida's gaze to the armored figure. He frowns slightly, in that way he tends to when he's considering a problem at hand. The gun he tucked away comes out; his primary hands busy themselves, emptying and reloading it with ammunition he's carrying for no readily explained reason. It's smooth enough to be practiced, unconscious. He's not paying it any attention. Instead, he sees the Trial Knight, focuses on it. He sees the way it looks at Ida. Sees the dismissal in the motion.

His expression turns grim.

One of Kalve's hands finds Ida's. He presses the weapon into her grasp. "Protect yourself," he tells her. His voice is hard, and brooks no argument. "We will speak when this is concluded." He steps away, crouches, jumps. Kalve disappears into the darkness.

He comes back into sight opposite K.K. on the crumbling rooftop. The red lines across Kalve's face look like glowing cuts. It makes his eyes stand out in the dark. There's anger there that was absent moments ago. "I am Kalve of the Method --" he declares, his tone that of a Demon making a formal introduction for a span of heartbeats. It's the sort of beginning that one takes when they're announcing a duel.

The formality falls away so very, very quickly. He comes across the gap with a springing leap, diving at the Trial Knight with six arms raised, two ending in black-gauntleted fists that can peel away the armor of a Gear, and four in red-hot spikes that will find little trouble puncturing the same. All swing forward with the same goal of seeing if they can meet decisively in what might prove to be a soft, vulnerable center of mass.

"-- and I will not tolerate such disrespect towards my student."

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

Twirl twirl twirl twirl. Ragnell slings her pistol around her finger with ease as the Trial Knight response to Rose's demand, basically telling her, 'Something that isn't you, and if you want it to stay that way, pipe down.' Ragnell chuckles at the remark on her being merciful, then grins over at Rose. "They make a good point. You should feel lucky I'm so nice. Not everyone woulda let you call a time-out so you could yell at someone else."

The roof *explodes* under K.K., or nearabouts; it doesn't actually strike them, as they move out of the way with ease. Rose, meanwhile, promises them that she'll have plenty to show them the next time *they* cross blames, before finally focusing back on Ragnell. "No kiddin'," she calls back.

Rose leaps up and comes down towards Ragnell with a massive fiery kick, followed up by a slash of each of her knives. K.K.'s battles are left to them, and Ragnell focuses on her own opponent, swinging back just enough to get no more than singed by the initial assault, but unable to avoid the downward slashes of her blade. Flames roar and lick around them, and Ragnell roars with laughter and the delight of a good fight.

At this point, rather than attempt to get away and create some distance, she twists her hands around and unloads another couple of lightning bullets at point-blank range. Being magic rather than *actual* bullets, they won't pierce through, but they still hurt a hell of a lot if they make contact.

GS: Seraph Ragnell has attacked Rose with Twin Bullet!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has completed her action.
GS: Kalve has attacked K.K. with Now It's Slightly Personal!
GS: Kalve has completed his action.
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Kalve's attack becomes clear!
GS: K.K. critically Guards a hit from Kalve's Method IV - Freedom's Lie for 30 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Rose takes a solid hit from Seraph Ragnell's Twin Bullet for 127 hit points!
GS: Cripple! Statuses applied to Rose!
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei doesn't turn his head. "Wait what? She's your student??"

Man this explains a lot. The Method, huh...

<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

Something unspeakable happens.

Claude reaches right into Zed's pants. He grabs hold of Zed's shorts. He... He...!

                                 AEONS AGO

HWAHAHAHAHAHA WHAT'S WRONG SQUIRT, YOU GONNA CRY FOR YOUR MOMMY?

An enormous green monster has seized a tiny Zed's tighty whities in two enormous hands. They stand... atop an enormous glowing sphere.

OH THAT'S RIGHT, YOU CAN'T!

Zed screams as cloth goes SOMEWHERE NO CLOTH WAS MEANT TO GO. And then he's hung from the end of vaguely battleship-shaped spike in the photosphere.

BECAUSE SHE'S IN A COMA! GWAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAAAAAAaaaaa oh man now I'M sad. WHY'D YOU HAVE TO GO AND MAKE ME SAY THAT, TWERP!?

The sound of a Zed's fist punching a Zed's face echoes thousands of times over the barren wasteland.

                                    NOW

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA---" CLAUDE YANKS. It's not just boxer that he tears out of Zed's dark, secret places. ANCIENT TRAUMAS come too. He pulls. He pulls so hard. He pulls so hard that he manages to hook those shorts right over Zed's head.

And then Zed

Disappears.

And then... Claude... Appears?

A dozen Claudes.

Except they're really just Zeds that somehow after-imaged to look exactly like Claudes. All of them slapping him upside the head, or poking at his eyes, or kicking at his shins, all the while... A cacophany roars as one...!

STOP HITTIN' YOURSELF STOP HITTIN' YOURSELF STOP HITTIN' YOURSELF STOP HITTIN' YOURSELF STOP HITTIN' YOURSELF STOP HITTIN' YOURSELF STOP HITTIN' YOURSELF STOP HITTIN' YOURSELF STOP HITTIN' YOURSELF STOP HITTIN' YOURSELF STOP HITTIN' YOURSELF STOP HITTIN' YOURSELF STOP HITTIN' YOURSELF STOP HITTIN' YOURSELF STOP HITTIN' YOURSELF STOP HITTIN' YOURSELF--

GS: Zed has attacked Claude C. Kenny with Forbidden Move - Astral Dance!
GS: Zed has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Claude C. Kenny takes a solid hit from Zed's Forbidden Move - Astral Dance for 269 hit points!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Ambrosius sees Iskandra sent flying out of the alley and moves to pursue, to attempt to disable her should she prove to still be able to stand...however, that is not the case. He stands over her for a moment, staring down at her quietly with his blank mask.

"...I take no joy in this." He states, finally breaking his silence. Muffled by his mask, and for once not slow and drawn out like Ambrosius's words usually were, it might be difficult to place the voice as belonging to the man in the red poncho.

To him, this was simply a matter of business that needed to be taken care of. She was a skilled, dangerous fighter, he would give her that. If he had made a mistake at any moment, this battle might have ended much sooner in her favor. With some refinement...she would definitely be frightening to battle against.

"In the future...you should consider your allegiances more wisely..."

He speaks more quietly after that, not directed to her but into a communicator built into his mask - a bit of Veruni technology."Enemy combaaatant...disaaabled...should I move...to check on the shiiipment?" He asks. In this instance he is broadcasting to Riesenlied, Noeline...or perhaps just anyone who might be in a situation to give him a response.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

For what it's worth - Noeline doesn't seem inclined to use Fei's moment of indecision to push further into the warehouse immediately, instead treating the moment of cease-fire with the respect it deserves; she stands there, scythe burning improbably black and hooked over one shoulder as she softly chuckles.

"Well-- you're not wrong, I suppose," she admits after a moment as she picks at some of her hair, twisting it between two fingers with a sigh. "Of course, we've thought of that ourselves - and it's not like we're just going to go and demand that a place like Guild Galad stop operating. I suppose it's better to sum it up as-- we'd rather their remains go to a constructive use, rather than be part of something that can only be used for war. That much is a stand we're willing to take," she huffs to herself as she says it.

A little part of her reminds her that a year ago she would have been entirely willing to duck out of the question entirely, if it meant not having to get involved in a conflict - but she ignores that part of her, having made her resolutions.

She's about to tense and lunge again when Fei suddenly breaks off; Noeline drops back a few steps as the martial artist rockets off, and she's forced to take a moment to actually catch up and evaluate where everyone else is and what, exactly, is going on.

"... this is Noeline. I'm-- inside as well. I suppose we have a distraction."

<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

Got you.

Or at least, that would be Josie's approximate thought as her shot in the dark hits home under... literally any other circumstances.

Over there, though, is a figure she hasn't seen in quite some time. K.K.
She remembers them. Remembers them very well.

"You!"

Ever-fickle, Josie rises to her feet, calling out to the knight who once offended her sensibilities.

Girl, are you merely a fool? Or do you try to be this inept?

"So now you show yourself. I won't let you--"

Something screams overhead. It's oddly cute, in spite of the situation.
But it's also dopplering, as if something was screaming and approaching very, very--

Josie looks up. Freezes where she stands atop the roof. It's hard to say which emotion wins: astonishment or horror.
Maybe let's go with astonished horror. Or horrified astonishment.

Whatever the exact emotion is, she stays rooted to the spot for far, far too long, only belatedly making a leap off the side of the roof for the lane below.

You know how there's saying that it's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the end? Mix that with a healthy dose of 'a large yellow oniondragon-thing has just collided with the warehouse not more than a few feet behind you'. Josie is probably somewhere there, buried in the debris.

But the silver lining to this particular stormcloud is: if Leon or Fei (...or anyone) were looking to get inside the warehouse, now might be a good time.

The pile of debris shifts. Josie slowly lifts a chunk of what was probably once a decent-sized roofing tile up, just over her head.

"...What the hell was that?" she mutters, still halfway buried in assorted masonry. She's pretty sure she can still feel her legs, so it could well be worse. She squirms a bit, as if to free herself. ...This is definitely not working.

She can see, hear, the battle still raging around her, and slumps against the debris pile she's most firmly wedged in.

Her hand moves in the short slight arc of a gesture. Her lips move.

Inept, huh...

She draws upon the art. Weaves the spell tattooed upon her flesh into gesture and syllable. Knots the thread.
And cuts it off, sending the surge of power outwards.

GS: Josephine Lovelace has activated a Force Action!
GS: You have activated the Force Action Extend!
GS: You do not have enough Force to pay that attack's cost.
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Claude C. kenny has.... no idea what is going on right now. And then there are a dozen himself hitting himself and ---

'TEN YEARS AGO'

"STOP HITTING YOURSELF CLAUDE"

"MOMMA NO"

'EIGHT YEARS AGO'

"STOP HITTING YOURSELF CLAUDE"

"I'M NOT THOUGH"

'SIX YEARS AGO'

"STOP HITTING YOURSELF CLAUDE"

"THAT IS YOU"

'FOUR YEARS AGO'

"STOP HITTING YOURSELF CLAUDE"

"STILL YOU"

'TWO YEARS AGO'

"STOP HITTING YOURSELF CLAUDE"

"ARGHGHRGBLELEL"

'NOW'

PRETTY MUCH THE SAME, ACTUALLY

<Pose Tracker> Rose has posed.

Two more shots. Ragnell isn't denied a clean hit this time. The magical bullets hit Rose square in the chest, and for a moment she seems to be out of breath, the shots having knocked the air out of her lungs and then some. She doesn't drop her knives to hit the floor, a testament to her training, but the Seraph can tell she's got the advantage right now.

Seems poor Rose still needs to work on ghostbusting quite a lot.

"You're not going easy on me, are you? Come on Ragnell, no holding back. If I'm the one still standing after this I'm contractually obliged to go help Kislev recover their weapon parts, and I'm not doing you any favors!"

Wink wink nudge nudge, Ragnell.
But Rose isn't kidding about not holding back.

She grips her knives and takes a deep breath. She's still for a long moment, before she suddenly appears right in front of Ragnell. "READY?!"

Rose slashes - she passes by Ragnell's left, trying to open her sides. She zips behind her, slicing for the back of her neck. She speeds by Ragnell's right, like a whirlwind of steel and killing intent. "Rangetsu Kingfisher!"

Then she slices with both knives in an X, trying to cleave through the Seraph outright. She doesn't need to hold back, because she's confident it'll take more than that to down Ragnell. A dozen blows in an instant, all aimed at vitals. Or where humans have vitals, anyway. Seraphim are weird, but it ought to hurt anyway!

GS: Rose has attacked Seraph Ragnell with Rangetsu Kingfisher!
GS: Rose has completed her action.
GS: Josephine Lovelace has attacked Fei Fong Wong with Strengthen!
GS: Josephine Lovelace has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Riesenlied's teleport strike misses -- she couldn't have expected a feint like that to work so easily on someone who's trained to use his weapon his entire life...! But it's left her open, and her eyes widen as she sees his blade flush with indefatigable white light.

I come to honor a pact.

She can hear it. She can't not hear it.

She holds onto her blade in a desperate defense--

--and Argent Defender's energy-coated blade shreds straight through it, human steel unable to cope with the intricate nature of the telescoping blade. The rest of the strike slashes through her, cutting open a gash on the side of her stomach that fortunately comes shallower than what could be.

She's not going to win this fight. She looks like she could collapse now, even, her weapon broken and with her vision blurring further, her head swimming. She stares towards the Trial Knight above her for a moment.

"... I have not forgotten ... I cannot forget ..."

The Tainted demon drops to one knee, her head echoing as she hears Ambrosius' comment, and Noeline's. "We need to regroup, we--"

And then the ceiling explodes, bringing Josephine and Muni-Muni down as the Dragon shreds through with her decidedly portly self, of a weight not inconsiderable--

--and squishes down with a resounding 'THOOOOOOOM' onto the crates.

The crates that're supposed to contain Dragon Fossils inside. That was a very clean squish, actually.

Much too clean.

"babybackbabyback--RIBS!!!!"

Devet's eyes widen as she looks up, then down again at her handy-dandy personal computer, then up again. "Uh, Riese, you're not gonna like what I scanned up--"

A Symbological crest begins to shimmer underneath Muni-Muni, which has apparently been grafted to each of the individual crates. Set to be triggered the instant they're exposed to the air.

And with that shine--

Lines of fire engulf the warehouse floor, quickly surrounding its perimeter -- and further engulfing conveniently placed jars of flammable fuel that turn a small spark into a torrential blaze. In an instant, the warehouse has erupted into a catastrophic blaze.

"The Fossils ain't here! Repeat, no fossil signatures!" Devet mouths into her mic, staring at the warehouse. A pause, and since she can't resist:

"It's a trap!!!"

Thanks, Devet.

GS: Seraph Ragnell takes a solid hit from Rose's Rangetsu Kingfisher for 179 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

Rose--lacks--TRAINING!! ...on dealing with ghosts and Seraphim and such, anyway. She does well to not crumple or drop her weapons after getting hit point-blank like that, but not only does she have breath enough for sass and insist Ragnell hit her even harder, before giving her all into her next attack. And it is quite a bit of *all*, with a series of lightning-quick slashes, all blows aimed for what on a human would be points guaranteed for a kill, before finishing with a massive, powerful X-strike across her chest. Rose isn't a top-grade assassin for nothing; Ragnell's no pushover, but the power of the attack is more than enough to push her back, tear down her defenses, carve her up, and send her flying clear off the roof to crash down on the roof of a nearby, lower building.

On the plus side, the warehouse explodes in a massive combustion that explodes just as Ragnell's getting knocked off, so honestly, it really could be worse.

A lot worse.

She could be Rose, still on that exploding warehouse ceiling, for example.

ROSE YOU MIGHT WANNA MOVE.

And as Rose is moving, Ragnell peels herself up off the impact crater she left on that rooftop. It's amazing that she didn't crash through it, really. Even as she pulls herself upright, though, she's chanting, Seraphic arte building around her. And whether Rose goes or stays, that arte targets onto *her*, and will trigger over her head once it's complete:

"Blade of heaven's will, strike down those who would be mine enemy... Divine Saber!"

A glyph will then appear both above and below Rose, and unless she's very quick indeed, it will unload with a series of lightning bolts in a circle around her, cutting off every avenue of escape, before finally unleashing a single, massive, unrelenting blow in the center that explodes with concussive force.

...Hit or miss, once it's done, Ragnell calls to Rose: "Sorry, you were sayin'?"

GS: Seraph Ragnell has attacked Rose with Divine Saber!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

Noeline feels something tug at the back of her mind before Devet even begins to speak, a preternatural sense that something's wrong as the various bits of suspicion start to come together in her mind. The first shimmer of light from the crates around her make her swear under her breath, and then their glow intensifies - and she's thrown up her arms in shock and surprise, the vague warning she gave herself enough to ward off any harm but still sending her sprawling to the floor in scattered surprise.

"This-- this is a little beyond a trap! There's no way this is going to be confined to the Warehouse!" the spy blurts into her microphone and also aloud, her voice already fuzzed out thanks to the roar of the flames around her and the heat interfering with the workings of the tiny, not-exactly hardened device.

Cautiously, she peeks up above the nearest gout of flames, trying to take stock of where everything is; it's difficult amongst the sudden din and smoke, but Muni-Muni isn't exactly hard to miss, and near to the dragon's backside is-- a figure, half stuck in some rubble and seemingly unmoving.

Instinctively, Noeline grits her teeth, pushing through the first barrier of flames in a leap that sends her into an immediate drop-and-roll; skidding from it and patting away the rest of the flames, she does her best to get to Josephine, judging her situation before kneeling to haul the woman out from the pile of refuse and rubble. Medical attention can come later; for now, she urgently calls to the woman. "Hey! Are you awake? Up you get! This is no time to nap!"

Meantime, her mind is already working, analysing the problem. "It is more like-- an attempt to discredit us," she realizes, and immediately her brow furrows. "We need to stop this fire at any cost!"

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

MONTHS AGO

Deep in the bowels of the Hollow, Ida cracks open a metal case that's been chemically-treated to look like fossilized Dragonbone. She pulls out a single piece of cardstock, and feeds it to the flame. As it catches fire, the text on it glimmers:

                              Ida Everstead-Rey
                           Apprentice ARMs Meister
                  Everstead-Rey ARMs and Munitions Company
                         Foremost Tier, Guild Galad

'You yet play at your games, child.'

She fed a calling card to the flames. She fed a tiny symbol of herself--her name, her family, her profession, her place in society--to a sacrificial fire. Is this why--? No. It can't be. This runs much deeper.

Kalve presses a gun into Ida's hand. She recognizes what it is from the heft alone, from the shape of the grip. Her family's sold thousands and thousands of them, if not more. Tears slick her eyes, instantly calling into question Ida's ability to actually do what Kalve requested of her. What he ordered her to do before he--

Fei, too--

'I come to honor a pact.'

The twisted, sickening knot of Ida's emotions resolves into something. Unfortunately, that something is a rage unlike anything she's felt since Adlehyde, a cold, all-consuming anger. The gun jitters in her hands. She finds herself trying to figure out where Riesenlied fell. It can't be that far away--

Ida enters the warehouse just as Muni-Muni crashes through the roof. The Symbol glitters for a moment, and lingers in her mind's eye. She knows what it is, knows what should have been in that crate. Her stomach twists, sickeningly.

Ida walks deeper into the warehouse as the flames engulf it.

ONE THOUSAND YEARS AGO

The Demon Fist stalks out of the burning remains of a six-story building--it was a tenement, and now it's a blazing pyre. She's covered with soot and minor burns, and a stray spark still sizzles in her hair. She reaches up with an armored hand, and pinches it between two fingers, snuffing it out. She glances around, eyes darting to and fro, wary but smoldering with rage.

"Huh," says Fafnir, who is standing in the street outside, watching. "I didn't think you were going to survive tha--"

Silver blood splatters the street as an armored hand connects with his jaw.

NOW

"Everything was so much easier before you showed up," Ida says. Her eyes are still wide. as she walks towards Riesenlied. Shoot her. You're not going to shoot her. Moving very deliberately, she flicks the revolver's safety into place and sets it on the floor. She looks down at Riesenlied through the flames. Stop her. She's threatening your family. Do it, coward. Do it. Do it. DO IT YOU COWARD. DO IT.

The glow of the flames lights up Ida's face. She pulls back a fist, and does what Claude told her not to do--what she did to save herself from Siegfried, and then from Id. She overloads every meridian from her shoulder to her elbow--anyone in the warehouse with the slightest degree of sensitivity is going to see it.

Her fist right at Riesenlied's face. It's like a pile-driver.

GS: Rose takes a solid hit from Seraph Ragnell's Divine Saber for 165 hit points!
GS: Rose has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Seek the New World!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Riesenlied's Seek the New World for 0 hit points!
GS: Reload! Ida Everstead-Rey gains 15 extra FP from Riesenlied!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Riesenlied with Steel-Breaking Fist!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
GS: Riesenlied critically Guards a hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Steel-Breaking Fist for 29 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Leon grunts in surprise as Argent Divider cleaves down through Riesenlied's sword, sending it flying, and his blade slashes into the ground. The energy field dissipates, so only the edge of the weapon slashes into the ground. The Drifter stands there, breathing hard, staring down at the Tainted commander. He sees, though, the shine from under Muni-Muni.

He cries out, then, as flame explodes and erupts from the warehouse. He leaps -- darting just to the side as Muni-Muni crashes down, and lands, even as the grounds shakes under him. Leon turns on a foot, crying out, before he looks back down at Riesenlied. "What--what in the blazes just happened?"

He frowns. "A set-up? A--"

Ida. He whirls, as Ida comes rushing in, her fist swinging back. There is, buried within Leon, under the memories of the fallen Black Wolves and repressed by a guilt he cannot banish, a powerful drive. The desire to protect; the desire to be the commander who sees his subordinates get home; the desire to see a better world, as much as he tells Riesenlied to be realistic. That realism is, in part, an angry lashing out at what he says he must give up.

He only knows a little of Ida. He knows Riesenlied well -- a bond that isn't, quite, friendship but is still warm. And, seeing the fire erupt, and knowing what was in there...

Leon makes his decision without considering it. He snaps Argent Divider up. The blade telescopes back in, as the barrels snap shut, and he lifts the gun and fires. A shell blasts out of it, hurtling for Ida's midsection. At this range, the bladed ends deploy well to the left of Ida. The weighted rope in the round is what hits her, in an effort to subdue her.

"Stop and think clearly!" he snaps at her. "Something else is happening here!"

GS: Leon Albus has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Legslice Round!
GS: Leon Albus has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Rose has posed.

Indeed, being Ragnell is a lot more fun than being Rose right now. With the warehouse going up like a fireball there's nowhere to go but towards Ragnell and that lower roof. The alternative is going up in flames with the contents of the warehouse.

This, predictably, makes it very difficult to dodge. There wasn't anywhere else to go but forward, and forward is where Ragnell attacked from. She could see the silly merchant coming a mile away.

The repeated lightning strikes swat Rose out of the sky like a bug, and rather than land gracefully by the Seraph, she falls towards the roof with no ability to control her landing. Everything is pain right now. Lucky for her she's not alone in her body.

A green wisp flies out of her, materializing next to Ragnell; Dezel extends his hands and catches Rose, the winds cushioning her fall. He sets her down against a chimney, crossing his arms and glancing towards Ragnell.

"Think she was saying to keep hitting 'cuz she needs a lesson," he grins, tipping his hat in greeting to his fellow Seraph.
"Hate... both of... you..." Rose manages, still staggered due to lightning strikes. Dezel just shrugs in response.
"Seems like there weren't any weapon parts here after all. Both of you got played. Guessing this won't end well for the people in charge." he ponders, knowingly.
"Sure won't... 're people still fighting despite this?"
"Sounds like it, looks pretty chaotic from here. Sides've changed."

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a glancing hit from Leon Albus's Legslice Round for 29 hit points!
GS: Slow! Statuses applied to Ida Everstead-Rey!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

It was a trap.

The warehouse burns...and if nothing stopped it

"Do you see...? They did not care what happened to you. They merely wished to eliminate a threat. Is this worth whatever coin they gave you?" Ambrosius asks, glancing back to Iskandra.

He takes his attention away from her once more, turning his attention toward the raging flames.

"I shall atteeempt...to put out this fiiire...in the meantiiime...evacuaaate...as many as you can..." He broadcasts, and extends both arms forward.

They were, as it happened, surrounded by water. He was in his element. He had to reach out to it. To take control of it. Instill it with his power and bend it to his will.

The seas around the shipyard - the Warehouse 23 area in particular - begin to swell and churn. Slowly, the water begins to rise, forming a large tidal wave. Ambrosius will gradually attempt to shift it in the direction of the raging flames, but it will take time for it to reach the warehouse proper...hopefully nothing happens to break his concentration before then, or things might get even more dangerous.

<Pose Tracker> K.K. has posed.

Fingers twitch. A slight spasm upon metal-laced digits, unnoticed and subconscious. The faceless gaze of the Trial Knight focuses upon Noeline past the boundary of that hole, debris and dust still raining fresh from it.

"Does this, then, further your dreams?" wonders the knight. But they leave the Metal Demon to her devices, alone with that Fossil and that lone question.

They, after all, have a rather angry painter to attend to.

And so, out leaps Fei from the depths of that hole; the Trial Knight stands tall, that dignified stance unfaltering as the boy with the Black Gear focuses that spiteful attention upon them.

"You," begins the knight, and their head cocks towards the left in an almost curious way, "... are different."

You... you're with Grahf, aren't you?!

That horned helm just tilts ever-further.

"... You wear aggression like a hysterical child hiding beneath their sheets."

Those punching combos come, and each one is met with the Trial Knight's metal fists, capturing each rapid-fire blow against their hands in a style utterly foreign to this soil or time. That roundhouse comes--

--and CLANGS against their forearm, straining in vain against the unyielding tenseness of their guard as their booted heels dig into stone.

"Seeking something convenient to blame for your violence. You shall find it not."

Light accumulates against their palm. Just as Kalve makes his introductions.

The Demon leaps. Light flashes. And --

-- *CRUNCH*

"I am K.K.."

Those arms all find themselves flattened upon the broad blade of a spear manifested from seemingly nothing, shards of light floating like fireflies across the space between them as the knight uses Kalve's own momentum to drive him downwards as red-hot spikes screech and furrow shallow scars through pristine metal in a rain of protesting sparks.

"And my way is not to be walked."

Within a matter of moments, that spear comes up once more, blade shining and exploding so many shards of white light that all congregate once more, fusing together into a pair of short swords gripped within two gauntleted palms.

"Emotions can be a powerful weapon, Kalve of the Method."

Those blades rise high.

"But for one who wields them so crassly, they are naught but a burden."

It's almost like a dance, the way they move; the upward stroke of one curved blade comes with a fluid spin that drags it like a spiral towards Kalve's chest, to attempt to unsettle him...

... so that K.K. can drive his second blade upwards in one powerful motion to catch both Fei and Kalve within the resultant BURST of light that follows and, if they can, -knock- them into that hole. Into the warehouse. Just as everythng explodes all around them. Just as Ida wades through fire and havoc...

...seeking her own something convenient to blame.

"Naught but tinder for the flame."

GS: K.K. has attacked Kalve with Swallow Dance!
GS: K.K. has attacked Fei Fong Wong with Light Spear Cannon!
GS: K.K. has completed their action.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Riesenlied is staggered, on her knees, her head swimming one way and her thoughts bleeding out ever which way. She can hear the thoughts and voices of those that are nearby, too distant and imprecise to be more than errant flecks of emotion and surface thoughts that wash away as soon as they come.

She sees the flames, erupting around them. She sees Noeline approaching, helping Josephine up as Muni-Muni rolls over.

She sees Ida.

Her ghost-like face, lit by the glow of the flames. She tears into her again, with words.

Everything was so much easier before you showed up.

She hears a revolver's click. She looms near. She can sense every iota of enmity within her. The frustration, and anger that all wells deep within her. She balls her fist. She raises it--

--and Riesenlied grabs it.

She holds onto Ida's fist, with her Tainted, misshapen, arm. The arm that does not represent her 'human' side. And she stares at her.

She grits her teeth, and swallows tightly; Ida's fist was no joke, and she could feel the echoing pain rising up into her nerves to her shoulder. She'd be reeling from the blow for days.

But here, in this instance, she doesn't feel it.

She looks to her. Her expression isn't angered. It isn't sorrowful, or willowy either. It's simply-- neutral.

But where she's held her with her Dragon hand, the contorted and deformed one, she raises her regular, human hand...

...and gives Ida a firm slap on the cheek. It isn't hard. But it is firm.

"Grow up."

She hears the roar of water coming up as Devet says, "Y'all need to make a break for it!"

She looks at Leon as he makes his attempt to subdue Ida-- then grimaces as she makes the call, hopping up onto Muni-Muni's side and holding her hand out. She gestures for Noeline and Josephine to hold on as well.

"Everyone grab on tight -- we're breaking through the ceiling again." She looks up at the Dragon-sized hole through there.

GS: Fei Fong Wong guards a hit from K.K.'s Light Spear Cannon for 88 hit points!
GS: Fei Fong Wong takes a solid hit from Josephine Lovelace's Strengthen for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Fei Fong Wong!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Get A Hold Of Yourself! Slap!
GS: Riesenlied takes 7 damage from Poison!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
GS: Kalve guards a hit from K.K.'s Swallow Dance for 59 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

...And half of the spell she was attempting fails. Outright, even.

She lifts her head from the pile she's currently wedged in, glances sidelong at the warehouse.
And the whole damn thing just about explodes into flame. Heat washes over her in a wave.
And in spite of the situation -- or maybe because of it -- her lips split in an almost manic grin. She starts to laugh, shaking her head.

A sound that really only stops when that woman approaches her and her mountain of debris. Her hand snakes out for the Gawain-series rifle, fingers wrapping around it. She wrenches it free.

It's a valiant try, but a long gun really can't be pointed at a person, given Josephine's current position, the way she would like. The best she can do is lift the weapon vaguely in Noeline's direction before the Metal Demon siezes and drags her out from the assorted fragments of warehouse currently pinning her down.

She rises to her feet in a hurry once she slides free, swaying for a moment.
Looks at the burning warehouse.
Then looks over at Noeline.
And grins, brightly. "Truce?" she offers, holstering the ARM and holding her hands at her sides, palms forward.

"...So, any bright ideas, Miss Metal Demon?"

Josie pauses, glancing over at the warehouse.
"Because unless you can bury that fire really fast, I think we'd be better off running." She turns, then calls out: "Hey Leon! Fei! Look sharp, we have a problem! ...Oh." She pauses. "Guess you found your own problem too, huh."

And how, from the looks of it.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

"Sup, Dez," Ragnell drawls when the Wind Seraph cuts ahead of Rose's landing in time to catch her like a fly crashing in flames after an unfortunate meeting with a bug zapper. She laughs at his quip, and even harder at Rose's wheezes, before breaking into coughs and a grimace. "Aaahh, fuck me, they don't call you a ladykiller for nothin', Rosie--"

She eases onto her feet with as much speed as she can manage, smile fading as she looks from Dezel to the blazing warehouse to the tidal wave building in the near distance. "No kiddin'," she murmurs. "Does explain why they were so well-prepared for the attack. Lots o' people, situated just right an' just in time..." She straightens, peering into what she can of the warehouse, given that much of it has gone done in the wake of multiple sides of battles. "Even if they're still fightin' now, I don't think it'll last much longer--" She points towards the tidal wave building. "--one way or another.

"On which note," she adds, "you still got people 'round here, right, Rose? You better get them, an' yourself, outta here as fast as you can, or you're gonna regret it." Massive walls of water, after all, DO NOT fuck around. Ragnell, for her part, pulls her pistols again, firing on the burning warehouse ceiling with a series of electric lasers to open up a bunch of holes around the already dragon-sized hole to enlarge it and make it easier for those within to break out and break through. Better now than when Riese and the others are engulfed in flame and/or water; they might actually get some air this way.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

Again, Noeline's uncertain senses fire - she's not really sure if it's the nerves of a long-term spy talking to her, or the sensation of Duras Drum tickling at the back of her mind. (The Hades Guardian finding something hilarious is probably a bad sign, she's coming to learn.) But she's slowed down by her attempts to help Josephine, distracted by the fire and flames, and so-- the first time she realizes what's happening and whose hoarse voice is the one calling through the conflagration, it's as she watches Ida's fist fly towards Riesenlied's face.

... she isn't one to see red, not in general, and even prides herself on being the sort to maintain a level head at the worst of times - but before she's even fully processed what she's seeing she's bunched her muscles, obviously preparing to bolt in that direction in the space of an instant as she blurts out a shocked and awed "--you-- stupid--"

The words, the tension - all of it dies within her when Riesenlied catches the woman's fist, replaced by a streak of pride a mile wide when the blow comes. "--we're with you-- and, I dare say a truce would be an excellent idea," she mutters instead, nodding to the Ebony Wings commander as Riesenlied directs Josephine up onto Muni-Muni's back, hopping on afterwards as she grabs onto the dragon and hauls herself upwards.

She stops halfway, though, her face drawn as she sucks in a breath - and yells across the warehouse at the top of her lungs. "--EVERYONE! GET OUT! This was a trap! We are putting this fire out! Get your people clear, Leon!" she-- doesn't quite 'command' so much as 'inform', wanting to both get the other Drifters clear and make it quite obvious that this was not anything to do with them.

Her gaze flicks to Ida instead, and her brow furrows; to be honest, she's completely uncertain what to even say, having more than a little difficulty figuring out the reasons behind Ida's actions. "... our apologies for making life difficult, Miss Everstead-Rey," she finds herself saying instead. "Excuse us if we do not lay down and give in just yet."

<Pose Tracker> Rose has posed.

"They can... handle themselves," Rose reassures Ragnell. She has faith in the twins. It'll take more than a tidal wave or a warehouse fire to pin them down. Slowly, very slowly, Rose rises back to her feet, coughing. Dezel actually moves to help her up, hand over one shoulder and all.

"You going to be fine?" she asks Ragnell, too.
Dezel actually laughs.
"Yeah, sure, worry about the one who handed you your ass on a platter, don't you. C'mon, we're leaving. I can't stop that tidal wave or put out the flames, so the next best thing is running for cover."

"Yeah, yeah... catch you some other time Ragnell. Next time you do this, keep me in the loop for you-know-what-reasons. This stupid war doesn't need more massive weapons being fielded."

With that, the Wind Seraph takes his Vessel away to seek cover from the incoming wave and mend her injuries.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

ONE THOUSAND YEARS AGO

She's beaten. Her striking arm is broken, and her ribs feel like they're about to cave in. She looks up, and sees a red blur resolve into a red-armored monster that looks frighteningly like a man. Before she can react, something like a vise-grip tightens around her throat, wrenches her off the ground, and slams her into the wall.

"I suppose you're the only one left," the monster says. "I was almost concerned the Dragons would leave no one alive to tell the world what happened here."

The Demon smiles. The woman's blood turns to ice.

"My name," the monster says, "is Fafnir. You're going to listen to what I tell you, human, and then you're going to tell it to every other human you meet."

"Firstly, your master is a coward. He went to so much effort to protect you, and where was he when we finally caught your scent? Nowhere. He didn't even leave warriors to protect you. Is that how it works? I suppose it doesn't matter. Remember that, human. Your master is a coward. I've left you alive so all of humanity can learn of it. Do you understand?"

The woman spits in Fafnir's face. Fafnir blinks, human spittle running down his cheeks and forehead. His lips twist in a terrible, terrible smile.

NOW

Riesenlied catches Ida's fist with the hand of a dragon. It's like slamming into a wall. Ida's right sleeve shreds itself to pieces from the impact, and the force of the chi flowing through the limb. She shoves against that monstrous arm, pouring everything she can into it. Her teeth grind against each other, and bright flashes of pain shoot through her arm as meridians short out, one after the other. Chi erupts from her shoulder in a bright, wing-like flare, uncontrolled. Fei and Kalve and Zed can easily tell she's already injured her flow, and is risking more serious injury.

She doesn't seem to care. She moves like a woman possessed. The expression falls off Riesenlied's face. She slaps Ida, and for a few seconds, the young woman's own expression falls off as well.

And then Leon's bola sweeps her right off her feet, sending her toppling to the floor like a felled tree. Her right arm seizes up, agony flashing through it. It takes all of her willpower not to scream.

LAST WEEK

Ida watches a recording in Cage Tower. The Demon Fist--or someone like her--snarls into a receiver of some sort.

"Fine. Fine. I guess one of us has to be the reasonable one. We can get them what they want, it just might get banged up in the process. I don't like dragons very much, tell them that. All right?"

Ida cannot help but sympathize.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei blinks in surprise. Curiousity? That's not what he expected in that moment. Is this person...not with Grahf? But K.K sounds so similar, behaves so similar. But it's not the same. And, Fei realizes, the style is not like Grahf's. Not from Filgaia either. "That's right," Fei says. "I'm a coward." He doesn't even pretend to deny it. The fact that K.K seems able to read it so easily is unnerving to him, but he doesn't slacken his stance in the slightest. Looking for something to blame, they say, it's also very similar to Grahf. It makes him angrier just thinking about it, knowing someone could be acting so similarly and yet not be related at all. What kind of universe lets people become like that anyway?!

Warehouse 23 starts exploding and Ida walks inside it. Leon walks in after her. Fei should go in after them.

...but K.K can see it even if Fei can't. That little smile as he sees Ida lashing out. That little smile even as his eyes look on, horrified.

That's the spirit. Why work around fate when you can cut its string

Fei turns back to face K.K and that smile is gone. "You might be right about that." He says. "But don't act... don't act like you're not pushing her buttons on purpose. Maybe you're not with Grahf, but you're doing the same shit, I can't stand it."

Still, this person is clearly very powerful to block his strikes like that. He walks towards Kalve during a pause in the fighting to say to him.

"Hey, know you're a Metal Demon, but if you're looking out for Ida, then you're a friend of mine." He tells him. He shows Kalve his fist. When Kalve doesn't actually do anything with this, Fei actually reaches forward, lifts Kalve's fist up and performs it for him. "Protoculture." He quips to him.

Then everything goes awful.

K.K swings the blade and sends a flash of light into Fei, sending him into the fire, spraying blood from his chest wound from the unexpected power of the attack. Fei's hand grips across the fire medium at his side tightly, hoping it will protect him.

And then--suddenly...Fei leaps back out through the hole in the warehouse in a single bound, wholly on fire, eyes shaking. His ponytail's gone undone, and his hair is whipping wildly behind him as he flies at K.K in a flying jump kick, fully intent to kick them up into the air and follow through with a leap up after and slam THEM through the warehouse.

He's still on fire, but he doesn't scream despite the smell of burning flesh and the agony. Indeed, he's smiling again. He's warring against himself, struggling even now, but that struggle has a power in of itself however uncontrolled it may be.

"You'd be surprised...what a hysterical child can do... they can do anything. The more scared, the better."

GS: Fei Fong Wong has activated a Force Action!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked K.K. with Tenbu!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
GS: K.K. has activated a Force Action!
GS: K.K. guards a hit from Fei Fong Wong's Tenbu for 94 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

"We have quite a problem," Leon says, as he looks out to the tidal wave coming at them. He grits his teeth, looking briefly at Josie, and then to Riesenlied. He doesn't hesitate, hopping onto Muni-Muni's back. Now is not a time to be particular about accepting an escape from the enemy.

But, he grabs Ida by the rope around her, first, and hefts her up. He gives her a sharp look -- but he isn't Lily. He'll get her out of her.

He can deal with the rest later. He looks to Riesenlied, briefly towards Noeline, and then he nods. "Let's go."

<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

It's a little bit of a strange thing to be hopping on up on the dragon that attempted, not more than a handful of minutes ago, to crush her into the depths of the warehouse. Which is now Very On Fire.
But just this once -- considering the fact that she's been through the ringer (partially because of Muni-Muni) and because of that fire -- Josephine thinks she might just let it slide.

It's a draw, then. She climbs on board.

"Leon, you might want to move it! I don't want to be the one telling Lily that you-- oh, ok, you got her?"

She'll lend him a hand.

<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

The tidal wave looms over the warehouse...and stops. It hangs there, barely contained, as Ambrosius holds it back.

"On your orders...I will releeease it..." Ambrosius broadcasts. "But hurry...I cannot hold this...for long..."

He was exhausted from the fight with Iskandra. It had taken a lot out of him...a lot more than he realized. He'd probably be exhausted for days after this...

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Riesenlied secures everyone as best as she's able -- and the dragon just erupts upwards as best as she can, an X-faced squeak as she tries to lift all of her passengers.

"Muni's clear! Everyone steer clear!!" Devet's shouting at the top of her lungs.

There's a gasp of air from Riesenlied as she stares towards the warehouse, and then presses at her throat mic. Her voice is rasped and pained. "Do it!"

She makes the call. This will inflict a lot of damage on the surrounding buildings, but the fire, left unchecked, will do even more damage.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

"Good to hear," Ragnell says of the twins. It's always a lot easier when you're dealing with people who can take care of getting their own asses out of the fire--literally, in this case. She even smiles when Rose expresses concern for her, though thankfully Dezel gives her the opportunity to not have to *say* anything about it and even laugh along with him. "You're cute, Rose," she says instead, winking. "You two go on an' get outta here. And if I have the chance? I'll do what I can. Now git."

Because that tidal wave, even stopped, is quite an impressive sight--and there's really nothing that Ragnell can do to help keep it back either. Except maybe drop a heal on Ambrosius, but that would probably just confuse matters, so she'll leave Rose to Dezel and focus on getting herself to high ground, well away from this area.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

Her muscles ache, and Noeline's finally realized that one of her sleeves is still smouldering; she pats it again with a heavy hiss of pain, then hauls herself further up onto Muni-Muni's back until she's able to meet eyes with Riesenlied, letting out a breath of something like relief; there's still pride in her eyes, and she places a hand on the other woman's shoulder in a show of support. "... it's for the best," she agrees, and looks down at the ground below as she furrows her brow. "I'll keep watch on the news. Make sure nothing incorrect gets out."

It's rather cold comfort, but it's what she's got right now - she rubs Riesenlied's arm for a moment as if to punctuate that statement, then draws in a breath as she looks around to their other passengers. For a moment, her gaze lingers on Ida - her mouth thinning into a tight line, as if to protest her presence - but she knows Riese would never let that slide. "--well-- that was fun. My apologies," she notes to Josephine with a rather rueful smile. "Rest assured, you'll be safe. We can patch you up back at Wayside, if that's alright."

<Pose Tracker> Kalve has posed.

Kalve hangs in the air for a second that feels like eternity. His angered expression is, for that same second, mingled with surprise. It's that moment of impact, where the spear that came from nowhere catches his black-gauntleted fists. The instant where the spike-bearing secondary limbs snake around and, with the core of them all held too far off, merely marr the surface of the armored figure instead of ripping through its warding plate.

Kalve falls. He lands on the rooftop. His secondary arms fold in on themselves, the spidery appendages solidifying into something more substantial. Four-fingered metal hands, like those of alien skeletons, unfold at the ends of them. They can grip weapons. They can strike like hammers on an anvil.

There's a moment of unsettling calm as the weapons of light materialize above him. Kalve casts Fei a look. He raises an eyebrow, and one of his four extra fists, though he isn't sure what for. Fei bumps fists with him, teaching Kalve something new and strange about human culture, but he marks it down as an odd salute and thinks nothing of it. "Protoculture," he echoes.

Everything becomes markedly more awful.

The first blade comes down. The dance begins. Diamond-shaped metal objects set into the palms of Kalve's gauntlets glow with a yellowish light, a hazy ball of it forming in his hands in the heartbeats it takes for the blade to approach. There's a flicker of that same yellow light across one of Kalve's sub-arms, and a broad-hilted parrying blade manifests in its grip, looking to be made of yellow stained glass. K.K. can see through it, can see Kalve looking up through the solid distortion.

Neither is the only one with such tricks, then.

Sparks fly, flickers of oddly-mingled light cast off the edge when he intercepts the luminescent blows. He moves with unnatural fluidity, just barely keeping pace with the Trial Knight through spiralling motions and precise steps of his own. He never quite gets the opening to counterattack, but more of that light of his own has grown around the rest of his array of hands. His two gauntleted ones seem pressed together, as if in prayer. He fights with the four others.

"My master would say the only path not to be explored is the one that will teach you nothing," Kalve remarks, in the midst of the flurry. "Are you then so devoid of lessons to impart, K.K.?"

He doesn't expect the burst. The force knocks him backwards, robbing him of his footing and casting him towards the flames. Kalve's primary hands part, grasping wireframe weapons cast in that same yellow glow. They fill in with color and detail, becoming broken mirrors shaped into the form of heavy-barreled weapons with pistol grips and triggers but no hammer to speak of.

Kalve fires as he falls. The crack of off-key thunder accompanies each burst of electric-light from the gauss guns' report. He releases the parrying blades, snapping his other arms upwards and gripping the edge of the roof. He swings like a pendulum, first into the firestorm, feeling the awful heat and growing agony before he manages to fling himself back outward and upward.

Something above them, he thinks. Water? They can't stay here. He should leave, but he can't disengage so quickly. Not yet. He hopes Ida has already fled. He can't see her amidst the fires. Not without leaving himself open -- perhaps fatally.

GS: Kalve has attacked K.K. with Method I - Unity of Tool and Hand!
GS: Kalve has completed his action.
GS: K.K. takes a solid hit from Kalve's Method I - Unity of Tool and Hand for 138 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Ambrosius does it.

The tidal wave is released and the water comes down upon the Warehouse and the raging flames, engulfing it in its fury. The surrounding area soon meets the same fate as the wave sweeps through.

Indeed, though it seemed like a lot of damage had been done, it was less than the fire would have done if it was allowed to spread. Ambrosius takes some solace in that, as he collapses out of exhaustion from the exertion.

Fortunately, he won't have to worry about being found by the authorities - the waves will carry him away easily.

He'd return eventually, but if no one picks him up he might not be back in Wayside for a while...

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Ambrosius, fortunately, doesn't have to worry.

There's a shining glint in the water, with a maniacal, almost irreverent grin. It's Dva, who gurgles: "HRHFHRHFHJ HRHFHFH"*



(* I'M USEFUL)

<Pose Tracker> K.K. has posed.

Fire roars. The very foundation of the warehouse trembles with growing instability.

And in the midst of the flames, K.K. bears witness to panic at war with approval. A horrified stare at odds with a knife of a smile.

Fingers twitch inward along the hilts of curved blades.

I can't stand it.

"Then what shall you do?"

It's like staccato bursts, that violence, lulls punctuated by bursts of furiously frenetic activity. Within moments after that question, Fei and Kalve are cast towards the flames, no answer found for Kalve's remarks within that dance save, perhaps, for the dance itself. Full of resolve, full of drive -- full of a single-minded will that does not flag even in the face of such staunch opposition.

Purity of purpose in every blow.

But it is that last blow that leaves K.K. open within the sweep of that white light. And as it starts to fade -- Kalve of the Method capitalizes. That faceless helm turns, regarding the Metal Demon and his heavy firearms formed at will. His expression reflects within the polished white plate seconds before triggers are fired.

Firepower sounds out like the peel of thunderclaps as ionizing air carries that payload directly into the armor of the Trial Knight. Metal screams and shatters as K.K. is bent backwards with a violent snap of motion, shards of white, gleaming metal filling the air from damaged plate. They remain like that for a long, pensive moment... before lurching forward with a stagger, flames licking at their heels as their blades crackle and break into so many motes of light. They right themselves... and that helm is cracked, splintered, the hint of a burning gold eye seen within the damaged cracks of the armor. An authoritative stare, yet filled with something else. Approval?

"... No," they finally utter, as Kalve grips upon the edge of that roof. They taste the salt in the air. The rising moisture. See the waters creeping amidst the flames.

"I have but one lesson to impart. And I shall wade through havoc and flame to do it."

If the knight is prepared to capitalize on Kalve's position, Fei's flaming appearance demands more immediate attention. The young man looks like a wild animal in those moments, a demon, perhaps, aflame and hair wreathing him with havoc in his unfocused stare as that kick comes screaming in. The sound of metal crumbling inwards fills the air with kinetic fury as that kick makes its impact. The knight soars through the air, just as intended. But as Fei leaps, as he looks to level that last blow --

--the Trial Knight is moving, to -grasp- the young man with clawed hands with every intention of sending -him- down with them, smiling as he is, warring as he is.

Broken. A force of nature with no direction.

"I have seen what fear has wrought."

THOOM

goes the sound of them crashing through the warehouse and into those flames. Wreckage spills, raining around them in chunks of rubble that crash in explosions of dirt. K.K. does not let go.

"I know the power it may bring in the need to survive for those who rule it!"


Flames lick armor with growing heat that makes white glow orange amidst the conglagration. K.K. does not let go. "And I know well the calamity it may wreak when the weak are ruled by it!"

The tidal wave lurches, mystical suspension dropping.

K.K. does not. Let. Go.

"If this be my end, so be it! I will not look away! I shall wade into it proudly, knowing I did so without regret! So let us see the mettle of you, boy! Let us see the nature of your fear!"

And the tidal wave comes crashing down...

"Are you the ruler, or the ruled?"

... to envelope K.K. and Fei within its uncompromising fury echoed within the ironclad, unwavering grip of the Trial Knight.

Until they are both lost within its depths.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei is burning but he won't be for long. He hasn't forgotten the tidal wave. He just set it aside as something to deal with later. That is probably not the mental process of a healthy individual. It's also not very healthy to be on fire, but that's neither here nor there.

Fei strikes and he strikes solidly but when he's about to go for the final blow, K.K seizes him up with in claws hands. It's an unusual move to be sure, not a move that is typically unleashed upon people who desire to survive considering that below them is a warehouse on fire that may yet explode again and above them unfathomable crushing weight of water, but it does what it's supposed to. It arrests Fei's movement and he falls down with K.K. At first he writhes, but then he stops and he just accepts it.

This is a coward, yes, but it is not death he fears. He's faced that countless times and even if his mind has forgotten, his heart hasn't.

No that's the face of the man--or boy, even--who fears eternity. Never any peace, whether it be in life or in the grave.

"We tried water before." Fei(?) says as he falls, the water chasing after them and gaining speed.

He closes his eyes.

"That's what it was. You were at Lahan, after. Haha...Still..." He admits.

The water crashes down upon them, stopping him from finishing what he was going to say.

'Everyone is a scared child.'

<Pose Tracker> Kalve has posed.

Kalve sees broken armor and a golden eye. He keeps his weapons trained on the Trial Knight for a moment longer -- and then the roof begins to give way. He jerks downward, his own weight pulling him towards the hungry fires. He looks down, and then up.

One lesson. Sometimes that's all they need, isn't it?

Fei launches himself in. Two more of Kalve's arms grasp the ragged hole. He doesn't fire into the melee; instead, he discards the empty weapons to clutch at a ball of yellow-tinted light, armored fingers playing across the orb's surface. Supports of glassy yellow start to build, constructing in fast-forward --

The water comes down. Kalve sees his momentary foe and unknown ally swept below by the unnatural tide's deafening fury. The building comes apart; his scaffolding does, too, and he falls free, dragged beneath the surface. He sinks.

Eventually, he stops. He doesn't know where. The shore seems a long walk away.