2017-12-30: Flying in the Midst of the Storm

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============================<* Gunsmoke Desert *>=============================

The Gunsmoke Desert occupies the northwestern portion of Ignas. This desert is different from Aveh's. Instead of rolling dunes of sand, it has dry and cracked ground, and the mountains that rim it also intrude into the interior, forming stunning rock formations that can look as beautiful as they look impossible. The settlements here are hard-pressed to survive, consisting of countless small towns. The lucky few are connected by railways to the Seed Cities scattered about the Gunsmoke. Many are lost to the sands, which cover them and a tremendous concentration of ruins from Filgaia's past. This makes these badlands the heart of Drifter activity in Ignas.
<Pose Tracker> Virginia Maxwell has posed.

                       It was a dark and stormy night...

        A train leaves November City central station well after dusk, lit only by the gaslight lanterns in each carriage and the shining lights affixed upon the front of its locomotive. It races across the landscape of the Badlands, in schedule to arrive at Midland Station near the Baskar Colony in a few hours' time.

                     ( BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUAkUj2JJeE )

        It is a train of no small importance. In the heart of its array, a high-security detail armored carriage carries valuable treasure in its midst: the Ark Sceptre, a recent discovery said to have untold powers pertaining the Guardians. It is to be delivered to its rightful hosts, the Baskars.

        But this was no secret -- a newspaper article in November City has made circulation, and Drifters of all stripes and walks of life have had their eyes on this for some time.

        In the midst of all this...

        Virginia Maxwell's head lulls to one side as she nearly falls asleep -- she'd chartered a first class cabin for herself, and it shows. The decor and seating arrangement is impeccable, fitting for a November City-class noble, with adornments of lace and velvet to add to the ambience added by the brushed leather couches.

        "... mm--" she shakes the fatigue out of her head. She looks out the window. Her lips thin as she gazes to the wilderness, where Captain Layna and her crew are set to make their diversion...

        She has to do this.

        She has to get her hands on an Ark Sceptre, and speak to the Guardians. She's seen it with her own eyes -- no, she's felt it before, in the Guardian Temple near Milama, so long ago now.

        They can cleanse her taint -- her Malevolence. And unless she can escape these chains... her wings will never be able to spread free and fly into the distant skies.

        "Maya, are you ready?" she asks gently to her partner, as she looks over towards the adjacent seat. "We'll be--"

        She doesn't get to stop, because she's nearly jostled out of her seat by a sudden shaking. The entire train just seems to have startled into a violent jostle, though fortunately none that would derail it.

        "O-ouch! What happened?!" Virginia exclaims, holding her head.

        A loudspeaker above crackles to life.

        "Attention all passengers: We are currently decelarating from our normal speed. Please remain seated for your safety."

        Virginia pauses, looking at Maya again, and peeks out into the corridor...

<Pose Tracker> Asteroid the Kid has posed.

Asteroid the Kid is wearing her Black Ties outfit and has a train attendant's cap on that she almost certainly stole off of someone. A metal baseball bat hangs at her side like a sheathed blade as she pours tea for her 'Mistress of Darkness' Ginny Maxwell. She is conflicted about this whole thing but it doesn't show on her face. After all, what if Ginny decides to stop being her friend when all is said and done? She almost elected to not come but truth be told, this is robbing a train. She wants in.

"Don't pass out now, Dark Mistress..." Asteroid the Kid bows. "There are likely countless heroes aiming to position themselves between us and our prize... I will execute them all personally..."

She lets out a dark laugh before adding, quietly, "Metaphorically."

The train suddenly jostles and she goes flying, sending tea flying everywhere and the scalding hot kettle right onto Asteroid's head where it does 0 points of damage.

She lays there for a moment. And then realizes, "...Someone's trying to rob this train before us! How dare they! We were going to rob this first!!"

She walks towards the train car window and smashes it open with the bat. "Anybody trying to stop the noble vile crimes of Dark Mistress Ginny will be eradicated, banished to a realm of pure agony and nightmare that will make them piss themselves!" She was trying to be over the top and archaic but her true style shines through at the end there. "They'll have so many concussions that their concussions will have concussions!!"

<Pose Tracker> Maya Schrodinger has posed.

Maya Schrodinger, ever the self-proclaimed ace and spoiled rich girl, looks like she belongs in the first-class cabin of a certain fateful train. In one sense, she's travelling incognito in a long-sleeved white blouse and a sky-blue bonnet, rather than a boisterously orange dress and holstered guns. Ever Virginia Maxwell's sworn partner in crime, she's accompanied her on this fateful trip for a hell of a long-shot at reversing the brash decision the young drifter made, the chains of which now bind her tightly. Whether robbing a train will make everyone call her a nasty geohound or not, well, time wlil tell. It'll be worth it, surely.

"Of course I'm ready, why, I've been ready to leap into action since we climbed onboard!" the blonde boasts to Virginia with a cheery grin, trying to lift her spirits with that enthusiasm. The two share a moment, before the train shudders and shakes uncomfortably.

Ms. Schrodinger peeks her head out of the door in the opposite direction after the loudspeaker announcement. A conspiratorial pause, and then a whisper. "... now's our chance."

<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Leon didn't know what an Ark Scepter was. He did know that a client had expressed interest in it; some relic of the Baskar's, and funding efforts to search for a well-hidden ruin isn't easy. This, of course, is what led the blonde-haired former soldier to this train. He sits down in one of the cabins, wearing his grey coat, and looking ahead. His silver eyes peer out from behind his bangs. His expression is wary, as it often is; doubly so, when his partner isn't here and he has no one spotting for him.

But, sometimes, they have to split up to cover more ground -- or more jobs.

He is a few cabins up from Virginia, Maya, and Asteroid's cabin. He is also busy, as he stands over his work. A ragdoll, human-sized, that he made of a few old clothes. He props it up in the chair, then stands back. "...Convincing enough," he says. Leon's eyes turn, then, to the train window.

He checks his wristwatch. "Almost time..."

<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

 
Margaret, the Black Pearl of Neo-Vane, doesn't stand out quite so much right now. She is wearing fancy dress #5, yet another piece of local attire purchased. It's a filmy weave of red dyed cotton over thinner underthings, which is not very warm, along with her habitual boots and a waist-wrap that is really more of a corset. She's wearing her hair down, but has absolutely no bird skulls on her, and if those silver earrings have polished pieces of jet in them - well, that's not like... illegal, or death-y. Right?

Right.

MARGARET'S NAGINATA sits next to MARGARET'S TRUNK OF SMALL-WEIGHT ACCESSORIES AND SUPPLIES which SHE HAD TO PICK UP because IT JUSTIFIED THIS JOURNEY over in the baggage car. Not the big important one.

Margaret herself has been sitting by the window and watching the night-time space travel by. The contortions of the land. The rumbling of the train. Something about it feels like she's going to touch something she only touched once before, when that man, 'Ra,' needed babysitting, and she was elected.

Her lips quirk into a frown. "What is it?" she murmurs to herself. "This contrivance... something about it... I can't understand it. Is this the nature of speed?"

Then there is a jostle large enough that Margaret is practically thrown out of her seat. "WHAT" fills the immediate area she was in, probably waking people who the jostle didn't. Margaret leaps to her feet, feeling the ground sway beneath her as she rests a hand on the back of a nearby seat, looking around, ears flattening back in alertness.

One ear unflicks out as she hears a familiar voice and familiar clanging in a distance. "... The shirt saleswoman? What in the world is going on..."

Margaret obstinately does not sit down. She does end up leaning into the gentle deceleratory force of the slowing train, on a subtle interior reflex.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        o/` Romancing Train, bring all the pain / And your own exhausted heart / Romancing Train, whistle again / And I'll hold you gently / "Love is right here" / Whisper that into my ear until I fall asleep... o/`
        
        Although no one sings such lyrics, similar words might waft into the mind of someone who listens closely to the whistle of the train and the storm of the night. While Ragnell can't be heard by humans without resonance, the music from the harmonica she's playing can soon mix in with the natural wind, letting one thing maybe they've heard something, and maybe they haven't... It's a lovely song, either way--passionate and determined and powerful. One might wonder for whom she plays...
        
        Until the train jolts, a loudspeaker announces that people need to remain seated for their safety, and Virginia pokes her head out into the corridor. Ragnell lowers her harmonica from her lips and smiles down at the Hellion from where she lounges against the wall of her first-class compartment.
        
        "Seems like the fun's already startin', Ginny," she remarks, tucking her tarnished harmonica into her poncho. She laughs at Asteroid's antics, then pushes herself off the wall. "Maya's right. How's about we get goin' before someone else steals all the fun for themselves?"
        
        Now why *is* Ragnell here, helping Ginny? Who knows. She invited herself into the group before they boarded with nothing more than a friendly nod to Maya, for some reason, and a howdy-doody. Who can really understand Ragnell's whims, though?

<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

Lemina is, in fact, not here with Ginny and Maya -- indeed, she may not even be aware of her presence here! She's here for the Ark Scepter, for much the same reason that many of the others are: she's heard that it's of interest to people with deep pockets, and while stealing isn't quite her modus operandi usually, every now and then...

... er, that is, it seems like it might be important for saving Filgaia from Mother! Yes. That's the thing. That's totally the one.

As the train decelerates, Lemina frowns momentarily, then looks up. Standing up and stretching out a little bit in flagrant violation of the rules, she starts to peek around the train from her seat. She doesn't quite get moving yet, though -- haste makes waste!

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        As could be expected, the cabin containing the priceless artifacts is heavily-guarded. Not all of the guards are actually inside it--some are in the cabins to the front and rear, while others are scattered elsewhere throughout the train. Ida, having accepted the commission, is sitting in the car directly before the one with the vital cargo. She hasn't done much beyond stare out the window, and occasionally read the newspaper she brought with her. Her hair is up, and she's wearing a battered military-surplus overcoat over more battered military-surplus clothes. The only visible weapon on her, if it is a weapon, is a metal gauntlet that covers her entire right arm. A rope hooks from some part of it to something half-hidden by her coat.

        Ida looks up as the voice trickles over the intercom. She took an aisle seat for this very reason. The anxiety that's been gnawing at her since this job started grows sharper. Her heart begins to pound against her ribs, like a trapped animal trying to escape. It's an odd mixture of fear and anticipation, and it's usually shown up when she expects a fight. Compared to the usual sort of helplessness, it's liberating.

<Pose Tracker> Morgan Newkirk has posed.


Everyone is here for a reason. Well most people are. There are some people on this here train that just wanted to get from point A to point B without much of a hassle. Fancy that in this day and age. Some people can still be innocent bystanders. Some people wern't even supposed to be here today!

And if you buy that then a fox has a bridge to sell you.

Said fox though is doing his best to pretend at least like he's an innocent bystander. Back in the cheap seats. Back in the baggage car in fact. Not the treasure car of course but the baggage car. There is a hammock strug up between two boxes. In said hammock is one Morgan Newkirk. One foot dangling lazily over the edge. Hat resting over his eyes. Ears flopped on the pillow he has. (Its not his.)

The intercom ilicits not much of a responce from the Drifter. A slight shfit of posture. Its just an alarm. Nope he's relaxed entirely right now. Though one ear slooowly perks up as his mind attempts to wake the snoozing fox to the danger of possible violence.

He's used to that though. He's friends with Cassidy.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

        She doesn't look like she's a guard.

        That, perhaps, might be the general impression someone might have of a certain Miss Fleur, the woman with the very long silver hair -- part of it pulled up in a bun, most of it flowing free -- and clad in a dark blue skirted suit with low heels. Coupled with the black hat -- complete with a line of netting, obscuring her face -- it might be possible to mistake Avril for someone from the monied class of November City.

        Seated closer to the back, the woman fidgets with her purse a touch, absently glancing out the window as the scenery rolls on by.

        She turns a look over at Ida. "..."

        She'd volunteered for this, as soon as they had heard that guards were needed. If this was returning to the Baskars, then, she'd realized -- and so had Rebecca -- it was likely that someone would try to steal it. For the sake of the planet, it was important that they protect this.
        But at the same time, Avril is a woman with a price on her head. Even if that price is apparently only to see her to safer harbors. It may be difficult to explain to the overzealous bounty hunter that she's not willing to go along, and it's always better to travel under the radar than above it.
        Hence, the clothing.

        For similar reasons, Dean and Rebecca are not here with her. It might be a giveaway for one, and for another, if something happened elsewhere on the train, it'd make it easier to handle.

        And then train deaccelerates, jostling Avril where she sits. "Oh--"

        She straightens in her seat, then looks again to Ida. "...Is that normal?"

<Pose Tracker> Clive Winslet has posed.

It was a routine job, all things considered. Keep watch over the train and its cargo and, upon reaching its destination, deliver it to Elder Halle of Baskar Colony.

There was also mention of another 'troublesome package' the green-haired archaeologist/Drifter guardsman might need to deliver, but he had not been informed of its nature...he supposed he would find out when the time came to deliver it.

And then, suddenly, the train shakes violently. Clive throws a hand out to stabilize himself against the wall, and stares up at the loudspeaker as it crackles to life.

...That was not routine.

He takes a moment to regain his balance and adjusts his glasses.

...A sudden disturbance, and a deceleration of the train. There could be a number of innocent reasons for this...but it could also very well open the train and its cargo to the metaphorical hounds circling it.

No, he was certain this was a ploy.

The injured guard in the next car pointed to that, as well. ...It looks like the time had come to earn his keep. Whoever was responsible, they had one likely target.

Quietly but quickly he moves, hoping to get there before they can make off with their prize...

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        The constant rumbling and the view of the night sky outside the window is enough of a convincing lullaby for some Drifters, For others, it's an excuse to let their mind wander in an idle dance from thought to thought, to horse, to moon, to flowers, to trains, and she wonders how Gulliver is doing right now in Wayside, and if thsi was really worth the money, and

        **SSSSKREEEE**
        
        "... Mmh." That's the sound Gwen makes as she is jostled froom her seat next to the window, her face landing on the firm cushion across from her. "Alright, alright, I was totally not spacin' out, I swear. Really. Are we even there yet? Feels like forever's passed by."

        This the redhead says to Avril and Ida, as she pushes herself back onto her seat. "That's a nice outfit you got on, though! Rebecca n' you really did a good job in pickin' outfits!" She assumes this was all Rebecca's influence, as Dean, while he means well, doesn't seem to be the sort of person who knows style.

        Then again, he *is* a fan of Nightburn.

        Was that deacceleration normal? Gwen yawns. "I figure, if they're announcin' it over the intercom, it is." She grins, a notable glance to Ida to see if she may have a better answer. "If trouble comes, it'll come."

<Pose Tracker> Virginia Maxwell has posed.

        Asteroid's rather bold and vivacious window-smashing prompts a rather clean-cut and hapless looking train attendant to flail and go, "M-Miss, please-- please sit down and stop vandalising the train..."

        The nametag on his chest says, 'HI, MY NAME IS Tony'.

        Virginia nearly runs smack dab into him on her way out, with Maya in tow. "Hey, what's going on?!"

        Tony stares back towards Virginia to say, "Ma'am?! Please, everything will be all right--"

        A loud clashing sound comes from the end of the first class cabin, perhaps the same one Ida, Gwen and Avril is in -- or perhaps the opposite one. But even Leon and Morgan, several cars away, can hear the sheer noise of the commotion happening! Virginia takes a moment to gander towards it, looks back towards Maya, Ragnell and Asteroid as she suddenly breaks into a sprint, fearing the worst already. Asteroid could very well be right--

        "Miss, please don't go there! That's the confidential cargo cabin!"

        Virginia waves and exclaims, "Thanks for the tip!"

        ( BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8qnk1fWK9A )

        The rookie Drifter throws the adjoining door and her face gawks wide open, because the door's barricade has been smashed and the chains shattered; a useless bolt lock's been ripped apart.

        "W-what...?" Tony stammers, and Virginia turns to him to go, "We've got to go investigate! The Ark Sceptre is in here, right?!"

        He nods rather glumly, perhaps already fearing for his salary and how he'll never be able to get a ring and a candlelit dinner. Maybe his next job escorting the President will be smoother... but nonetheless, he unlocks the door--

        --into a dark room filled with cargo, though the heavily bolted chest in the middle seems telling. But just as Virginia approaches...

        SMASH!

        There's a yelp from Virginia as the window shatters into pieces! A cloaked white-haired boy vaults through with ease!

        At the same time, a powerfully-built man in tribal clothing emerges opposite him!

        The click of an ARM is heard -- the boy raises an automatic, the tribal priest a shotgun; they brandish their weapons out to aim at each other!

        And one other...

<Pose Tracker> Clive Winslet has posed.

Standing outside the door of the cargo room to the side of the door, Clive Winslet draws his constant companion - the Gungnir HAG35 sniper rifle. He takes a moment to examine it, to center himself, and then...

...to rush in through the door.

But he is not alone. A white-haired boy and a man in tribal clothing barge in as well, each brandishing an ARM.

And so is he.

Clive eyes the two of them carefully, his ARM trained and ready to fire. He notices the young woman and the railway employee in the corner, but right now, he can't take his eyes off the two in front of him. Any slight slip in attention or judgment could spell the end.

He would not let his guard down again, not after the events in the Den of Miasma...

<Pose Tracker> Asteroid the Kid has posed.

Asteroid the Kid is slower to arrive because she has to knock Tony's hat off as she runs. "SEE YA NERD!"

But there's a crash where Ginny ran off to and she runs to bust in after her and sees...

...A whole lot of people pointing guns at each other. She grips at her medium to attack but something stops her from actually launching any kind of immediate assault.

"....Gallows?" She asks the POWERFULLY-BUILT MAN IN TRIBAL CLOTHING. "Oh shit Gallows!!" She starts hopping up and down excitedly. "I haven't seen you in FOREVER! It's me! Lydia! I go by Asteroid the Kid now since I have an asteroid for a head--that's a space rock just so you know--and yeah it is pretty wicked cool! This is Ginny, she comes from Hell and I work for her now." She nods firmly. "We're gonna need that Ark Scepter and since I'm Baskar, it rightfully belongs with--"

She pauses, as if remembering that Gallows is Baskar too.

But instead of commenting on that she says, "...Have you, like, showered lately? I can smell you from here."

NOTE: ASTEROID THE KID IS NOT ONE TO TALK.

<Pose Tracker> Janus Cascade has posed.

And while Drifters gather around, glaring dangerously, sweeping weapons, and each thinking back to how they got here...

A slow, languid clap fills the air.

"The hell!?" grunts the powerful Baskar man, shortly before he's tackled to the ground by Dario Nicolodi's heavy weight. "Take a nap!" Dario crows, and punches him across the face.

Gallows Carradine takes it right on the chin, and then glares right back at him, and says, "Nah."

The silver-haired drifter finds himself harrassed by wave after wave of throwing needles, pushing him out of his standoff position. Flashing to the floor comes Romero Gigio, eyes clear and bright behind his bandana. "Fast," Romero breathes.

Jet Enduro's SMG slides up to attacking position, a frustrated curl on the young man's lip. "I haven't even started."

And behind them all, emerging from the back of the car, comes the inevitable third:

"Well, well, princess," Janus Cascade drawls. "Didn't expect ta see you in a place like this. And you brought some bystanders, this time. Hopin' you'll feed 'em to your freakshow?"

His grin widens. "Well, not that it's my business. You're already too late. Get on it, Green!"

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

It's a beautiful night... as planetside nights go. There's a charge in the air, a charge that is the storm and more. Clouds cover the sky, and strange, pale green eyes cast up to them from her perch briefly. Only briefly.

There is a horrible crunch and then a terible ripping noise as the roof suddenly gains a new hole--and is torn open by a single gloved hand.

From above jumps down a small young woman, obscured by a long, brown coat that hangs to her ankles, left open. Her green eyes are a little too pale, her blonde hair short. Beneath the coat is a loose, long-sleeved shirt in off-white, with green edging, a wide belt... Loose dark pants, boots, a green scarf about her neck. There's a little shine to the buckle, smooth and featureless. Her hands show a strange set of gloves, looking too-solid, articulated at the fingers. ...In one hand is a strange, too-smooth ARM, white with a black stock, in the shape of a shotgun but with plastic edgings and a single metal barrel showing through, longer than her forearm for certain. But that doesn't take much. Even with her solid boots, after all, she's short.

She lifts her head, smirking. 'Green' makes four, Kaguya standing in the middle of the room among the others--and puts both hands on the very heavy, very locked box.

Getting hands underneath it, she pulls it upward--and then lifts the whole trunk at once, rising to her feet with the gigantic box resting on her shoulder and her ARM pointed at Ginny. "...Nothing personal," she says casually, "But I'll be taking these."

DC: Kaguya switches forms to Xenobotanist Kaguya!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Honestly, Ida is grateful for Avril and Gwen's company, even if she's been quiet. Even if she can't address Avril by name for fear of arousing suspicion. It helps keep the pounding, thought-distorting panic from becoming too much. Several dozen miles back, she asked Gwen about Little Twister for no apparent reason. The sounds of shouting and glass breaking filter back down the train. Ida rises from her seat, unbuttons her coat, and glances at Gwen and Avril.

        "Ladies?" Ida says. She sounds a lot calmer than she feels. "I believe that's our cue, yes?"

        She doesn't wait too long for an answer. She undoes the deadbolt holding the passenger cabin's door in place, and then turns the key in the lock. She holds up a finger to the others, rummages under her seat for a moment, and comes up with--an overcoat? She wraps it around the pillow she brought in case she felt she needed rest, slides the door open, and--

        A figure in a coat of some sort appears in the door to the cabin. At this angle, it might be difficult to tell that it's not a human being... at least, at a glance.


        Ida waits, pressed against the cabin wall. Hopefully Gwen and Avril are doing the same, because Ida is actually kind of proud of this plan.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        With her other hand, Ida motions sharply downwards, effectively ordering the other passengers to get down in case there's gunfire. Not too many of them do otherwise.

<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Leon looks up, more sharply, at the crashing noise. His silver eyes narrow, and then he throws the window open. He has no idea, of course, that a four-person Mexican standoff is occurring a few cars down. He does, however, know that the car he wants to be at is a few cars down. He reaches to the window and opens it.

It closes, a moment later. The yellow light makes a shadowed silhouette of a man sitting there; nevermind that it is the dummy that Leon crafted so carefully, to make someone who glances into the window in the wall or door think the cabin is occupied.

He throws himself up onto the roof of the train, and goes sprinting across it. As Leon runs, his hand comes down to his side -- and draws his shotgun free. The weapon is held to the side, and with a practiced snap of his wrist, the gun barrels snap apart, and a telescoping double-edged sword flies out. Moonlight flahses up the length of the blade, as he comes skidding to a stop in front of the door to the cargo room.

Where, of course, a rather complicated stand-off is occurring. His eyes shift, from Janus Cascade and his gang, to the outlaws in turn. His eyes widen, for a moment, as he registers surprise. Then they narrow, and he manages to sound well composed.

"This grew complicated," he observes.

<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

 
Margaret's head whirls around as she catches sight of --

L E M I N A A U S A

-- and says with instant dudgeon, "What in the name of the Destroyer are YOU doing here, you --!!" The train groans and sways as more crashing ensues, and Margaret's lips curl back in a well-worn disapproving scowl. "Listen," she tells Lemina, not looking at her:

"My weapon's on the other side of this miserable contrivance. Without it, you know as well as I do that I'm half-useless." This may be an exaggeration, but the helpless sensation that comes from not having a big sharp object on a stick to poke people with is certainly weighing on Margaret, who is still getting over this whole 'you can't just carry your long bladed weapon everywhere? without problems?' thing here on the Catbox Star.

"Our disputes aside, neither of us want these people slaughtered by bandits and arsonists. I propose," and Margaret sweeps a hand around--

To stick manicured fingers... in Lemina's face? No: it's an imitation of the friendly handshake so well loved down here.

"We cooperate. For now."

A moment later, "Thunder Road." Two discreet 'thooms!' mark the great acceleration of running speed. "I'll back you up," Margaret then says, spreading her hands. No hidden knives!

Internally she thinks: And if the bandits DO shoot you... The thought does not fully complete.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

        "Mm... Perhaps so," comes Avril's response to Gwen's answer. Her lips press thin nontheless, and her hands tighten on her bag, fingertips running close to the clasp.

        She can't shake this feeling, as familiar as it is.

        It's almost a little bit of a relief when the shattering of glass punctuates the tension.

        "Yes, I believe that is so."

        Almost immediately, Avril rises to her feet, opening her handbag to extract a certain device from within.

        To an outside observer, it might be mistaken for nearly an ARM. There's a trigger, namely. But it's mounted on what would be a sword hilt... if the sword part were missing.

        And if anyone were to lay hands on it, they'd find out something even more interesting: it doesn't work. For them, that is.

        Purse in one hand, the ARM-like device in the other, she pauses to watch what Ida's doing for a moment, her head tilted quizzically to one side.
        A spare second later her blue eyes widen. She nods once, and moves back to flatten herself against the wall, alongside the door. Tucking her bag under her left arm, she watches sidelong and waits.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        Sucks to be Tony. Ragnell smirks as she follows along Ginny and the others, hanging back a bit as doors get unlocked and 'investigators' pile in. Once they actually enter the car with the Ark Scepters, though...
        
        "Yyyyup, looks like this party's got a lot o' crashers," she remarks, pulling the brim of her hat up half an inch. She side-eyes Asteroid when she gushes at the guy with the tribal markings, then snorts and steps over to one side. "Comes from Hell, huh?" she remarks, turning a raised eyebrow over to Virginia. "An' here I thought you were from Boot Hill. My mistake."
        
        But then Team Janus busts in, two of them breaking off to deal with a couple of the other intruders, while two more threaten the group and go for the chest with the Ark Scepter. Ragnell peers at Kaguya in particular, especially her feats of strength. "Hmmm..." she murmurs. Then she smirks and looks back over at Virginia and Maya.
        
        "Welp, it's your show, Gin an' Tonic." She draws her twin pistols. There's sounds and movements elsewhere down the train, so presumably they'll have even more company soon--and more company means, in all likelihood, more rivals. "How're you gonna handle this?"

<Pose Tracker> Maya Schrodinger has posed.

Though they're not intimately familiar, per se, Maya is familiar with the whimsical nature of Ragnell, who has been the majority of her information on things about Hellions, Malevolence, and other matters mystical. The fact that she's here is both at once a surprise, and not one at all. See, it pays to be spiritually sensitive, otherwise you miss out on content.

"Ho ho, see? We don't want to be the ones left snooping around when the authorities come looking for answers! Well said." Maya waggles her eyebrows at Ragnell, appreciating a fellow devil-may-car spirit joining the fray.

But the fray, as it turns out, is a lot more complex than even Maya was expecting to find. The poor porter gets continually nosold and his life made more complex as Asteroid explodes a window and everyone is breaking into a dead sprint. Not something easy to do when you're dressed in your sunday best, but someone like Maya has had a lot of practice at that. Can't do these things without looking fantastic, after all.

This just makes her look even more out of place when she skids to a halt at the sight of all these nutjobs pointing guns at one another, now also including noted best friend Janus Cascade and Kaguya. What a time to be caught unarmed.

"We, uh, improvise." the blonde informs Ragnell, her plan having evaporated befor her very eyes. "Like always!"

<Pose Tracker> Virginia Maxwell has posed.

        'Gallows' -- the man in the tribal clothing -- drops his face for a moment as Asteroid begins to hop and down and exclaim her enthusiasm. There's a faint wince as he exclaims, "L'il busy right now here, Lydie!" On second take, he's got more than just his shotgun -- a Medium is held in his other hand as well, which begins to softly glow with the blue thrum of the power of Schturdark--

        --before Gallows gets smacked and starts rasslin' with Dario, who we hope remembered to pull his zipper up this time. (He probably hasn't.)

        "You know him, Asteroid?!" Virginia looks exasperated in her surprise. A pause, and before she can say anything else, a very familiar man enters the room.

        "You're--!"

        Wow, it's super awkward when the next words out of your lips are 'the guy I tried to murder in a bar in Lacour when I was super hopped up on Hell Magic', Virginia's finding!

        "Janus Cascade!" Virginia exclaims, angrily. "I still won't forgive you for what you did to Maya!" She's definitely feeling nooo shortage of pot, kettle black, but that's not important!

        But-- plot twist!!

        Virginia's eyes widen as Kaguya enters next. "K-K-Kaguya?!" her eyes widen further. "Why're... I need... I can't let you do that!" she winces faintly.

        She shakes her head and darts for cover, knowing that a standoff like this is 1) going to be fruitless with Janus and the Cascade Gang and 2) not in her favor now that not one, not two, but but four separate entities have expressed their desire to take the Sceptres away!

        So Ginny opts to solve her problem traditionally: with Fire, which is coming in the form of a Crest hucked towards Janus' hair-do.

        (This is still not how Crest Sorcery works.)

GS: Virginia Maxwell has attacked Janus Cascade with Tindercrest!
GS: Virginia Maxwell has completed her action.
GS: Margaret has attacked Lemina Ausa with Thunder Road!
GS: Margaret has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Morgan Newkirk has posed.


A second sandy colored ear joins the first as cicuimstances conspire to cause a bit of a problem for Morgan's continued nap. Slowly the Drifter grumbles and sits up to stare towards the growing mayhem that is starting up ahead.

He rolls out of his hamock, gauntleted hand flexing slowly before he glances back towards the corner he had claimed. "Cat."

A sizeable desert cat poked its furred head over the boxes.

"Watch our stuff."

With the dismissiveness that only a feline expression can muster, said cat thumps its head back down as Morgan starts to make his way forward. Towards the commotion. So he ambles forwards, all smiles and politeness as he makes his way though the train. Calmly telling this family that it'll likely be fine. That family that its likely routine.

Of course then comes the Crest magic and the explosions and the fox just sighs slightly, ears drooping as he reaches into his coat for a flask. "Knew I should have stayed in bed." He mutters as he reaches the car directly behind where it seems everything is exploding.

<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

As Lemina starts to poke her head around, she instantly spots -- Margaret. And Margaret, it seems, instantly spots her. She immediately reaches for her staff -- one of the few weapons you can get away with carrying on a train -- and reflexively tenses, as if getting ready for a fight.

... But Margaret seems distinctly uninterested in fighting, and actually interested in helping for once. After a brief moment of confusion at the extended hand, Lemina tentatively shakes it, and then --

fwoosh! Lemina's off like a shot, moving toward the source of the commtion. When she hears Ginny, she knows a little better where she's going, too. "Hey! Cheater!" That's how Lemina best remembers Janus, her next encounter, though. "Why don't you pick on someone else?" She spots Kaguya, too -- but isn't sure where to intervene yet... so for now, she doesn't.

<Pose Tracker> Asteroid the Kid has posed.

SUDDENLY CASCADE AND PALS

Asteroid the Kid gasps, "Someone was dumb enough to hit Gallows! He has like an eight pack Y'dork!" She decides that Gallows can probably handle this himself. But then there's a whole slew of other people around too and the idea of anybody getting off this thing without shattering it in the fighting is rapidly going downwards and downwards still.

"Boot Hell," Asteroid the Kid asides to Ragnell. Pause. "You know?"

She looks towards Virginia and admits, "Oh yeah, Gallows is like the coolest person from our village."

She points a finger at Gallows, "But that's not going to stop us from taking the prize!"

And then plot twist! Kaguya!

Asteroid stares at Kaguya. She looks at the coat, short hair, dark pants, that scarf---

Her asteroid head slowly starts to go red and redder. She looks away for a moment. "S...shit she's super hot right now..."

What a twist! Is Asteroid going to be able to do battle with her friend, the very same friend she vowed to take into sp--

--oh wait she already launched the space rock at Kaguya while that was being written out.

Wellp.

GS: Asteroid the Kid has attacked Kaguya with Asteroid Ball!
GS: Asteroid the Kid has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya takes a glancing hit from Asteroid the Kid's Asteroid Ball for 51 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

 
Margaret appears shortly behind Lemina. "What unshriven endeavor is this I see spread before me?!" she declaims, her uncomfortably-unarmed hand reaching up as if to angrily clutch the air itself.

<Pose Tracker> Clive Winslet has posed.

Breathing steady. Eyes on the enemy. Watch them carefully. He assesses the outlaws, eying them for any possible weaknesses...

And then suddenly an asteroid-headed woman barges into the room, completely ruining the mood.

She's rather lucky that it didn't cause them to immediately shoot at her.

Clive does not lower his weapon, which proves useful when a certain gang of thieves barges onto the scene. One faces off against the Baskar man, another handles the white-haired boy...

And a blue-haired fellow, presumably the leader, steps onto the scene.

Shortly aafterward, a young woman rips open the top of the train. That gets Clive's attentions. Those gloves...there's something unusual about them...were they perhaps strength enhancers? He could not see how she would normally be capable of such a thing...as well as picking up the entire box containing the cargo.

That was problematic. And there were more people on the way. Friend or foe, he wasn't sure, but it was becoming readily clear that he might potentially become outnumbered here.

"I am afraid I cannot allow that." Clive speaks, with a glance to the young woman referred to as 'Green' before glancing back to the ringleader, Janus. "I am here to protect the cargo from ruffians such as yourselves, and to deliver it to its rightful owner. Ordinarily I would ask that you kindly withdraw. I usually would prefer to avoid any bloodshed and unnecessary expense...but it would seem it is far too late for that."

He glances over toward the three young women who had barged into the train car before the Cascade Gang showed up. He wouldn't normally draw bystanders into this situation...but they had a common enemy. Perhaps they could be trusted for now.

"Ladies...could I ask for your assistance on this matter?" With that said he levels his ARM at Janus and fires off a shot. It was his usual method of dealing with outlaws...show that he was serious, and hope that it would be enough to scare them off.

But he'd heard rumors of Janus Cascade...he doubted this would be enough, but he would deal with that when the time came.

GS: Clive Winslet has attacked Janus Cascade with Basic Shot!
GS: Clive Winslet has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        The earlier question about Little Twister seems to bring a pale pallor to Gwen's face, her answer being something close to a mumbled nugget of necessary information. She really wants people to think she's from Boot Hill. Why won't people just accept she's just a normal super courier from Boot Hill?

        Either way, she's very *very* quick about returning to what she does best: ignoring the possibility that something bad just may be happening. ... The fact that she's a little more insistent on it due to Ida's anxious mood may or may not be a factor in this.

        When signs of things being a little more complicated than 'train is deaccelerating, please ignore', Gwen relents, sighing. "Yeah, that's a cue, alright. Was hopin' this'd be an easy job..."

        Slipping in close to Avril and Ida, Gwen carefully undoes the buckle on top of the glove on her right hand, exposing a flap held right over the 'muzzle' of her ARM- that being her palm. Blue-grey eyes take in Ida's movements, peering in curiosity at just what the young woman is attempting to do, then smirking as she clues in.

        Ah, that's a good plan.

        'Well, well, princess...'

        Very good plan.

        'Didn't expect ta see you in a place like this.'

        Because Janus could be a little trigger-happy.

        'And you brought some bystanders, this time.'

        ..... damn it, Janus, why are you here ruining Gwen's job

        When Ida's prop is shot up (RIP overcoat) and Clive politely requests backup, the courier obliges with a weary sigh, standing up to her feet and... walking in.

        "... Uh. Janus." Gwen holds up her exposed metallic palm towards her former(?) childhood(?) friend(?), her disappointed expression akin to a person finding a fellow employee digging into her lunch container at work. ".... Whaaaaaat'ca doin' here exactly?"

GS: Janus Cascade takes a solid hit from Clive Winslet's Basic Shot for 91 hit points!
GS: Janus Cascade guards a hit from Virginia Maxwell's Tindercrest for 68 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Janus Cascade has posed.

Gallows is actually kind of a glass cannon but Dario is kind of an idiot, so it balances out as the bearded man suddenly goes flying from a blast of aquatic magic blasting him away. Gallows grunts and awkwardly reclaims his feet, pulling his sawn-off shotgun as the Medium at his side slowly stops glowing. "Didn't really expect a full-on brawl back here..."

Jet is stoically firing at Romero, who is blurring in between shots like the ninja he occasionally proves he actually is. "Accelerator," Jet mutters. "Cute."

Then he's gone, zoop, only to appear directly behind Romero and clock him across the back of the head. "But how do you like mine?"

Romero falls at Janus' feet, whining like a kicked dog. Janus glares down, with an annoyed, flat eye, then back up.

        *

RECENTLY:

"See?" Janus says, chuckling at the engineer as the man's hands only terribly slowly uncurl from the pulled emergency brake. "So much blood you get to keep when you just do what I say the first time."

The body of a guard lies silent beside them.

"How..." the engineer whines. "How did you...get past all the--"

Janus clucks a laugh as he turns to go. "Oh, were those blokes outside guards?" He opens the door into a car full of DEFINITELY UNCONSCIOUS guards, stepping idly for the door where Romero's waiting to haul him to the roof. His grin tugs wider as he flashes a smile at the man behind him. "I didn't even notice."

        *

"Wow, princess, you remembered! Maybe I won't shoot you so bad after all!" he laughs, as his ARM slaps into his palm. As for Maya, he wiggles his fingers with a smug grin. "Well, well, angel. You still workin'? Gosh, ain't seen you in a dog's age! Not lookin' like I'll see you again, either, eh?" He laughs, cruelly. He watches Kaguya make her grand entrance, and whatever annoyance he may have felt at Dario and Romero getting flattened swiftly fades. "Not bad at all, Green," Janus says. But then another green person gets his attention. "Haha, well, there's a problem with that, bloke," Janus chimes. Both Virginia and Clive open fire, but when the light clears, his hair is resolutely not on fire and he's slapping the new soot off his jacket. His grin takes on just a hint of threat. "The Cascade Gang loves unnecessary violence!" he laughs. "And I'm not paying the expenses!"

And then he replies to Clive with a bit of his own violence, firing once at him; then again at Virginia, weapon sweeping across the gathered; then he fires up into the air, a tumbling shell of something? flying into the air before it beeps twice and ERUPTS, firing shot down on...well, people, anyway.

And then...Gwen. "Ah, Gwen!" he says, brightly. "Was hopin' you'd show up! Hey, need a favor from ya."

Then he marches over to Kaguya, pulls something out of his jacket, and...

Slaps a shipping label on the side of the shipping trunk.

"Gimme a hand, will ya? Cash on delivery."

GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Clive Winslet with Sniper Shark R!
GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Virginia Maxwell with Sniper Shark XR!
GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Maya Schrodinger with Multiblast!
GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Seraph Ragnell with Multiblast!
GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Janus Cascade Is An Unbelievable Prick Chapter Eleventy Million!
GS: Janus Cascade has completed his action.
GS: Virginia Maxwell takes a solid hit from Janus Cascade's Sniper Shark XR for 89 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Seraph Ragnell takes a solid hit from Janus Cascade's Multiblast for 116 hit points!
GS: Cripple! Statuses applied to Seraph Ragnell!
GS: Gwen Whitlock takes a solid hit from Janus Cascade's Janus Cascade Is An Unbelievable Prick Chapter Eleventy Million for 0 hit
points!
GS: CRITICAL! Clive Winslet guards a hit from Janus Cascade's Sniper Shark R for 69 hit points!
GS: Cripple! Statuses applied to Clive Winslet!
GS: CRITICAL! Maya Schrodinger takes a solid hit from Janus Cascade's Multiblast for 125 hit points!
GS: Cripple! Statuses applied to Maya Schrodinger!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        Ragnell looks at Asteroid. She tilts her head in consideration. Then she nods. "Yeah, okay." Boot Hell. Yeah, she can get behind that. Then she snorts and laughs when Asteroid swoons over Kaguya. "Down, girl," she drawls. "Or up. Or forward. Y'know."
        
        Maya says they'll do like always and improvise. "Works for me!" she says as Virginia leaps into action, hurling a Crest fire spell at Janus's head. Others are entering the cart too, including-- "Oh hey, Lemina! What brings *you* out thisaways?" --but for now, Ragnell has to deal with Janus opening fire in the air with some kind of explosive. These being closed quarters, there's nowhere for her to go to evade it, and the eruption of shot hits her hella hard, piercing through her semi-corporeal body and forcing her to one knee. "Well, *that* hurt like hell," she croaks. In retaliation, teeth grit, the Lightning Seraph charges a shot in her pistol, then fires for the air over Janus's head, shouting, "Squall Shot!" An instant later, the shot storms down in the form of a brief but heavy rain of waterdrops and needle-like thunderbolts.
        
        Gwen's Aura of Disappointment just gets her a loud snicker. Janus's power move with the shipping label gets an outright guffaw. That line about the unnecessary violence is *so* human, but hell, Ragnell can't say she doesn't love a good brawl too. "Friend o' yours?" she drawls to Gwen. "Seems like there's lots o' conflictin' interests here t'night."

GS: Seraph Ragnell has attacked Janus Cascade with Squall Shot!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

A rock flies straight at Kaguya and hits her dead in the chest, knocking her back a few paces with her prize and resulting in a strange noise decidedly unlike rock on flesh. ...Sort of like it hit something solid. "Oh hey, Asteroid!" she says brightly, through a wince. She's still grinning--it makes her too-sharp canines very, very apparent, more fangs than anything. Virginia's reaction though gets a look from her, and she can't quite shrug because of the large box on her shoulder. She seems so... shocked. It's almost nice. ...With a little edge in her voice the small Veruni answers, "You can't, huh? You of all people know what I need this for. So you don't get to make that choice." She waits a beat and says, "Ruffians!" She grins over at Clive. It's not... Very pleasant, as grins go. In that moment her eyes cast over the room as a whole, the chaos of those already fighting and the sight of those waiting to make their move. And--a figure in a coat. It's right there in the door.

"Oh come on," she says to all the peaceful types, lifting her ARM and firing a loud burst of hardened green light straight into the dummy. It'll tear a hole right through it, leave it smoking.

SLIGHTLY LESS RECENTLY:

Kaguya picks up a guard bodily, swings him into another guard, and then throws him against a seat. ...This is about the level of violence one can espect out of this.

NOW:

"If we're gonna fight let's fight. Anybody who's not in, you can always run." Unnecessary violence. She's fine with the sound of that. When Janus slaps the shipping label on she lifts an eyebrow, glances at Gwen. "Eh, sure." ...Then she lifts her ARM again. She narrows her eyes--and abrubtly fires a big shell straight at Asteroid, glowing brighter than usual, set to explode in a burst of weakening energy. She whirls at that, popping off another shot straight for Margaret, and coincidentally, Lemina behind her all at once.

"Whoever you are, " she calls to Avril without recognizing her, eyes narrowing with a tighter focus--and this one comes in coruscating colors. All of her shots are strange, bright, seem to carry no bullets. At that though, she glances to her ARM and breathes out--as a wind whips up from beneath her, rustling her coat and her hair and glowing green, lit with blooming, alien flowers.

"Heh heh." Kaguya leaps with the box, and straight up out of the roof... But the motion and her wild shots finally cause a set of boxes to tip.

...There's a way up to the roof, if people want it.

<Pose Tracker> Virginia Maxwell has posed.

        Gallows grunts once more and stares towards Asteroid, maybe doing a little quick thinkin' on his feet as he goes, "Lydie, help a guy out for old times' sake, eh?!" as he's quickly turned around once more when he faces up Dario.

        "Can tell you're a sly one, so I won't hold back either -- Aqua Wisp!" he announces, holding two fingers up as motes of water emanate from the palm of his hand. "Pressurize!"

        A large globule of water suddenly surrounds the heavyset bandit, in an attempt to crush him firm with water pressure!

        Jet snorts as he steps forward as Romero falls, commenting, "Get up. Y'can't be done yet." He cocks the barrel of the Airgetlahm and aims towards the bandit with the needle mastery...

        Virginia lets out a howl as the Sniper bullet pierces through, not finding anything vital but nonetheless drawing blood and ripping a piece of her black dress. "You're the worst kind of person...!"

        She can feel that aura of Malevolence start to emanate from within her-- and winces as she realises that her emotion's running wild again. No, she can't succumb to that again -- there's too many people here!

        "But I'm not done yet!" Virginia exclaims, as she rolls out of her compromised form of cover -- her twin ARMs are out, silvery and slight, but firing a cascade (hur) of bullets towards the Janus with practiced accuracy, the kind no uninformed ingenue should be able to perform.

GS: Kaguya has attacked Margaret with Riot Burst!
GS: Virginia Maxwell has attacked Janus Cascade with Rapier ex Bantorain!
GS: Virginia Maxwell has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya has attacked Lemina Ausa with Riot Burst!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Leon Albus with Prism Canister!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Kaguya with Blossom Wind!
GS: Kaguya has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya takes a solid hit from Kaguya's Blossom Wind for 0 hit points!
GS: Quick! Statuses applied to Kaguya!
GS: Lemina Ausa takes a solid hit from Margaret's Thunder Road for 0 hit points!
GS: Quick! Statuses applied to Lemina Ausa!
GS: Lemina Ausa guards a hit from Kaguya's Riot Burst for 57 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! Statuses applied to Lemina Ausa!
GS: Margaret takes a glancing hit from Kaguya's Riot Burst for 40 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! Statuses applied to Margaret!
GS: Leon Albus takes a glancing hit from Kaguya's Prism Canister for 54 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Leon Albus!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Asteroid the Kid with Riot Breaker!
GS: Kaguya has completed her action.
GS: Asteroid the Kid guards a hit from Kaguya's Riot Breaker for 38 hit points!
GS: Weaken! Statuses applied to Asteroid the Kid!
<Pose Tracker> Clive Winslet has posed.

Janus Cascade responds to Clive's warning shot with would would have otherwise been a faceful of lead. He raises the Gungnir up to defend himself, it's reinforced stock taking the brunt of the damage...but then the Multiblast rains down on him from above, and he can't protect himself from all of it at once. His hands and wrists sting from the impact, as well...

That weapon of his was as deadly as it looked.

"...Duly noted." Clive replies, lowering his ARM back into firing position. "Then I shall respond in kind."

He fires. But unlike before, he's not aiming to simply scare him.

He can see the young woman retreat to the roof. There's a possibility that she might get away...but pursuing her now would only open him up to a vicious counterattack. He would have to deal with Janus first, and hope the others could delay her long enoug for him to catch up.

GS: Clive Winslet has attacked Janus Cascade with Aim With Your Eye!
GS: Clive Winslet has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Maya Schrodinger has posed.

A spiritual poison lingers at the edges of the Schrodinger girl's senses, an eerie and unsettling feeling that pervades her every action and thought. Very inconvenient stuff, especially when the bulk of her ability to conduct business (where business is fighting, and surviving) is dependent on her clarity of mind and spirit.

Which is to say her usual tricks don't work so good. The kinetic shielding (or rough equivalent) woven into her clothes doesn't offer much defense against a spray of red-hot shrapnel. The drifter squawks in surprise and throws herself in the vague direction of cover--which is to say, behind an empty wooden crate which shudders and collapses in the wake of the blizzard of misshapen scrap that hails upon it.

Luckily, Maya's mouth took 5 ranks in the perk for writing cheques her ass can't cash, so a malevolence penalty isn't an issue for her.

"Hey, slick! Wouldn't be a group date without you!" she cheerfully calls back Janus's way, to distract herself from the hot-potato problem of trying to yank burning iron from her blouse, fingers sizzling. Ow. OW. OW! "I think you oughta take that nice blonde buddy of yours home and marry 'em, though, before he gets jealous of us."

Lord, that smarts. On the other hand, the pain makes it clearer to think, somehow. "Virginia, dear," Maya calls for her number two, "They're absconding with the treasure. Put this dog down and be after it?"

There's no accounting for the laws of physics, it seems, as the bonneted blonde yanks a double-barrelled shotgun out from her blouse, kind of the same way someone might hide a particularly precious pendant in the cleavage in one of those corny scenes. Well, it's the same logic here. Don't think about it too much.

Rather than peek out from behind cover and fire, Maya Schrodinger does the very logical thing of vaulting over her broken crate with her sawn-off in one hand, pulling the triggers and loosing a Metal Slug style cloud of smoke and glowing shot in Janus's general direction. The roar is atrocious. The gun's kick nearly throws it from her hand, but she doesn't slow--can't let them escape, after all!

DC: Maya Schrodinger switches forms to Gunslinging Heroine!
<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Leon looks straight ahead at Janus. Slowly, he frowns. That frown magnifies more and more, as he slaps a shipping label onto the side of the crate. He sighs, before he turns to look right at the woman that Janus called 'Green.' He doesn't know anything about her. But, she shoots a shell down at him -- and it explodes with all of those colors. He bolts, starting to run, but it clips his leg and burns into the pantsleg there. He hisses, before he turns and looks back at some of the others -- Margaret, Lemina, and finally Avril.

"We should chase her down," he says. Then he leaps. He lands on the first box, and jumps, before he lands on the roof in a three-point stance. His other hand holds Argent Divider, still formed like a sword, out to one side. He looks up, eyes meeting Kaguya's.

"What do you want the item for?" he asks. "Gella?"

Then, he goes running across the roof, wind in his face and blowing back his hair. The former soldier leaps at the last second -- low, controlled, careful to not go flying off the edge -- and hits the rooftop with two clangs, before he does a tight turn. With a whirling motion, he slashes his sword towards the Veruni's side.

GS: Leon Albus has attacked Kaguya with Raze Slash!
GS: Leon Albus takes 5 damage from Poison!
GS: Leon Albus has completed his action.
GS: Maya Schrodinger has attacked Janus Cascade with Tornado-force Blast!
GS: Maya Schrodinger has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Asteroid the Kid has posed.

Asteroid the Kid says, "Huh?? You need it too? I thought you were just like committing crime for fun."

Her cheeks grow ever redder as Ragnell totally reads into her TOTALLY SUBTLE CRUSH on Kaguya. "Agghh..." She tells Ragnell. "it's a secreeeet...! I mean uh..."

Luckily Gallows distracts her. She bobs her head excitedly. "Oh sure, sure, I'll lend a hand. And you lend us a hand. Perfectly legit." She pauses as Gallows calls Dario a sly one.

She stares dadpan at Gallows all the way until she gets shot in the head by Kaguya's ARM. The blast jerks the head back sharply but the real problem is in that burst of energy that makes Asteroid feel, like, totally sluggish and low energy bro.

"Gah?" She says, sinking to one knee. "Geeze. Geeze..." She looks to Janus and adds, "WELL THE GINNY GANG LOVES UNNECCESSARY VIOLENCE MORE!!" since she's feeling competitive. "We'll see who loves unneccessary violence more by the end of the evening!! You'll see!!"

She stumbles up to her feet and adds, "I won't let it get away, Gallows! Make sure Ginny doesn't bite it!"

And then she leaps up after Kaguya, employing the Sky Guardian's power to get extra lift. There's no way she's missing the opportunity to fight on the roof top.

"You're like the most badass botanist I know." She tells Kaguya. "But no matter how cute you are, I'm a summoning and soccer prodigy so... take this!"

She summons a soccerball sized asteroid and tosses it into the air. "Quick Shot Pegasus Strike!"

And then she leaps up after it, knocking it up repeatedly with her knees before kicking it up once with her foot and getting a wicked cool spin on it and then slam kicking it back down towards Kaguya.

She lands after with a huffing breath and adds, "W...well how was that! Pretty cool huh? I mean it was pretty neat how you ripped open the train car too. Pretty good for your second felony!" And then. "Hey you--!!" She yells at Leon. "Why are you attacking Kaguya huh?? What do YOU want the item for??"

GS: Asteroid the Kid has attacked Kaguya with Space Rock Soccer!
GS: Asteroid the Kid has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

 
Margaret hears gunshots as a tall man with a name she doesn't know looks towards her. Her darkened eyes narrow, and then they look towards Janus Cascade. Her eyes widen with sudden surprise because she RECOGNIZES him! Oh, she thinks, what cruel fate, that I'm standing on the other side of the lines of war - I'm nearer to AUSA than to that -

'the Cascade Gang loves unneccessary violence!'

Margaret's scowl returns.

Especially when someone's pointing a gun at her.

'I'm wide open!' she thinks, a moment before B A N G

The streaking shot of light rips into her side even as she lunges to the left. She guessed right, but then leaning leftwards has usually worked out for her. This means that instead of getting it right square in the clavicle, a shrieking blast skids through her side, ripping over corset boning and sending heat and shock through her body. Then their assailant is gone.

Margaret crouches for a moment. The pain washes over her... along with a certain degree of ANGER. "Ausa," she tells her, "Thunder Road's more complicated than you might think. Your feet will be attracted to solid objects - it'll be easy to stay 'grounded' if you pay attention."

At which point Margaret skips forwards, wall-running briefly with a sizzle of electrostatic discharge which probably goes unnoticed in all the thunderous chaos going on outside before hitting the boxes and coming up just a few paces behind Leon Albus. She rises into the air before, as foreshadowed, her feet come to a semi-secure rest atop the train, crackling lightly with thunder.

"Yes!" she says, because Leon beat her to the point. She points towards Kaguya, tilting her head back to look down her nose at the smaller, more larcenous woman. "Is this entire fiasco simply an effort to fill your pockets? Or do you have some tragic tale to share on why you have to rob a train?" Her fancy dress whips in the wind. "You might as well lay it all out - get it off your chest! You'll feel better!" Also, Ausa will catch up, Margaret thinks, and she'll cast Mega-Fireball or something, and it will be funny.

GS: Margaret has attacked Kaguya with yelling!
GS: Margaret has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Kaguya takes a solid hit from Margaret's yelling for 0 hit points!
GS: Poison, Cripple, and Mute! Statuses applied to Kaguya!
GS: Kaguya takes a solid hit from Leon Albus's Raze Slash for 96 hit points!
GS: Kaguya takes a solid hit from Asteroid the Kid's Space Rock Soccer for 135 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        The dummy jerks back sharply in Ida's hand, a smoking, sizzling hole appearing dead-center--and a matching hole appears in the floor of the train behind the dummy. Ida's eyes widen; she drops the pillow down into the hole, repeats the 'get down' gesture far more urgently. So that was 'Green', Ida thinks. Adrenaline washes into her system, slowing things down ever-so-slightly. She recognized Janus and his goons from voice alone--he left quite an impression during the conflict at Descartes' base--but not the woman who appears to be his accomplice. Ida doesn't recognize her. An unknown quantity is both terrifying and exciting to her. Her lips curl back.

        That was definitely not conventional ammunition, and Ida doesn't want to get hit by it if necessary. Rather than leaping into the guarded car--which would put her at risk of getting shot by that abomination of a weapon--she tries something different. Ida balls up a fist and swings for the passenger window nearest her, which is mercifully next to two unoccupied seats. It shatters, outwards, and she reaches for the ladder next to the window with gauntleted fingers. (She asked for this seat for a reason.) Ida's relatively-weak shoulder protests, but the clockworks in the gauntlet help relieve a little of the load. She hauls herself, hand over hand, until she's just below the roof. She hears Leon's voice over the sounds of the rushing wind and the wheels on the tracks. Good, she thinks.

        Ida surges up that last few feet, takes a moment to brace. The soles of her boots skid across the metal, but she gets her balance, and launches a punch right at Kaguya's face. That is her introduction.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Kaguya with And A Fine Day To You Ma'am!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
DC: MISS! Kaguya completely evades And A Fine Day To You Ma'am from Ida Everstead-Rey!
<Pose Tracker> Asteroid the Kid has posed.

"Why NOT steal it??" Asteroid the Kid shouts. "Everybody steals from the Baskar, like, ALL THE TIME! Every time I go into a ruin I see like 15 different stolen Baskar artifacts! I found the statue of Luceid like FIVE TIMES, I think it was the same statue! People just kept stealing it and tossing it to GOBLINS!"

<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

Kaguya fires on Lemina, and while Lemina does her best to bear up against it, she still takes the worst of the light to the chest; she winces in pain before scrambling up after the Veruni, not quite as used to moving at Margaret Speed as, well, Margaret.

After patting out a small fire on her dress, Lemina finally acknowledges Margaret's tutorial message, affirming, "Hey, that does work!" She then positions herself a little more carefully on the train roof, relying on the spell to keep her footing stable for now.

... More importantly, though, she points her staff at Kaguya and gives it a little twirl. "Sorry! Whatever that thing is, even if I don't get it... I gotta make mega-sure you and that creep with the blue hair don't get it!" Lemina declares, before adding, "Mega-magic FLAME!"

A ring of fire forms around Kaguya, buying Lemina a little more room to maneuver by... well, by placing some fire between herself and the Veruni. It's not a terribly complex game plan.

GS: Lemina Ausa has attacked Kaguya with Fire Ring!
GS: Lemina Ausa has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya takes a glancing hit from Lemina Ausa's Fire Ring for 77 hit points!
GS: Janus Cascade takes a solid hit from Seraph Ragnell's Squall Shot for 100 hit points!
GS: Seraph Ragnell takes Cover! She gains 50 temporary hit points!
GS: Janus Cascade takes a solid hit from Virginia Maxwell's Rapier ex Bantorain for 137 hit points!
GS: Janus Cascade takes a solid hit from Clive Winslet's Aim With Your Eye for 113 hit points!
GS: Janus Cascade takes a solid hit from Maya Schrodinger's Tornado-force Blast for 145 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

        A strange expression crosses Avril's face as she stands there, pressed against the wall near the door. This close, she can hear clearly the exchanges underway within the car.
        "That man... we've met before," she murmurs, voice low.
        On second thought, perhaps that's not a strange expression. Avril's gone rigid against the wall now, her grip tensing to something approaching white-knuckled on the ARM she holds, her chin raised in what could well be named 'indignation'.

        "Ida. Gwen. That man is unashamedly ruthless. Be on your--"

        The poor dummy takes one for the team.
        Gwen rushes in.
        And Avril lingers no longer, hot on the courier's heels.

        And Avril has a moment where she watches in what can only be termed 'stunned silence' as Gwen approaches Janus as if she knows him and...
        'And' is also a good summation of what happens.

        But whatever her past history with Janus, he's not the one who grabs and holds onto her focus. The woman in green shoots across the room once again before leaping up onto the roof. "You--"
        Avril's already racing towards the boxes even as Leon calls out for backup. With a slight flourish she brandishes her handbag, which has begun to glow from within with a strange light.

        And performs an abrupt leap up onto the roof of the traincar, not-so-subtly boosted by the power of the Artificial Sea Medium in her bag.

        The wind up here is fierce, even from a slowed train. Her hat is ripped away in seconds, the wind sufficient to send her long silver hair fluttering like a cape behind her. Slowly, she turns to face Kaguya, her expression sober. Grim, even.

        "Why are you doing this?" she asks. In her right hand, in a blink of an eye, Absolute Zero's blade has already manifested. She holds it before her, taking up a readied stance in spite of her current precarious perch.

        Then she closes her eyes and shakes her head.

        "Perhaps the answer does not matter. I cannot allow you to cause harm to the people on this train... or to take the scepter. I am sorry."

        She shifts her stance, as if feeling out the best place to balance herself atop the car... and surges forward, blade first.

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Kaguya with Absolute Zero - Blade!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya takes a solid hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Absolute Zero - Blade for 108 hit points!
DC: Morgan Newkirk switches forms to Gun Slinging Pilot Morgan!
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

Asteroid's surprise gets a look from Kaguya as she goes. "I mean, yeah, it's fun, but that's not why I'm doing it!" She and Astie know all about committing crimes for fun. But in short order she's in motion. ...The rain patters down on her coat, oaking her hair quickly. ...But with catching her balance, that gives more than enough time for the quick to catch up. The first is Leon, and she narrows her eyes as she turns her head to see him. Their eyes meet.

There's something hard in her eyes, but still that strange, glassy quality--and then he rushes up. She's quick, but not quick enough to evade his deft swordwork, the slash cutting through fabric to shove her hard further back--and reveal the strange, green armor beneath her clothes, her coat billowing open as a line of it shows. "That--" She teeters, and Asteroid leaps up after. Kaguya sees her next. 'Take this'. SHe even calls it out. ...Cute??? Badass? "Hey, that's pretty--" Slam. It impacts her hard, and this time she tumbles straight backward. The entire train car can hear the deafning clang of the box falling onto its side... but remaining on the train. She has both hands now, though, on the ground as Margaret starts yelling--

Kaguya coughs, abrubtly, a nasty, awful sound that reeks of ill health even before the blood that spatters from her mouth onto the train, the blood that stays on her lips. It takes a moment as she lifts her ARM to cover herself. "You--"

Second felony. "Yeah, it was cool," she tells Asteroid, and backs up quick, "I don't care if you know my story," she says to Margaret, with narrowed eyes. "But I need it. Not for money--" A glance to Leon, "But because..."

Lemina says she can't let her, apologizes--and Avril apologizes too, Kaguya's eyes widening briefly as she sees her. The fire hits hard, forming around her and burning her immediately as she leaps through it to get out of the way. While Ida... Ida is silent, introducing herself.

And Kaguya ducks, delivering a hard, superhuman punch straight for the taller woman's chest. ...At which point Avril surges forward, her blade manifested--and it scythes straight through armor at her side to gouge her arm deeply, burning straight through. "Aagh--"

Why, they ask. Grim. "...Not even you are gonna stand in my way," Kaguya says, straightening, glaring at Avril. "You should understand what I'm doing anyway. ...But like I was saying. I need these because I wanna have a... talk... with the Guardians." She laughs faintly, bitterly. "A nice talk. I got a lot to say to them."

"Which means all of you have gotta go and get out of my way." She lifts her hand suddenly. "Asteroid! Try mine for size!" Green light glows about her--and abrubtly there's an even fiercer wind up here, green-tinged as colorful blossoms materialize--and a bunch of them launch pointed stem-first at Asteroid.

She whirls from there, and pulls a few cartridges from her inside pocket in the coat, and a cla-CLACK loads each one in turn. Leon gets the first. She lets loose and the blast turns to concussive waves of deafening force--then another for Avril, another for Margaret. Each gets the CLACK in the process as she slams it into the chamber and keeps moving. "If you guys want them back when I'm done I don't care. That's up to Cosmo down there." ...C-cosmo?

"Sorry Melina," she says, and sends another burst of exploding hard light at her, lingering burns. ...She keeps her post in front of the box.

GS: Kaguya has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with That Human Touch!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Asteroid the Kid with Blossom Rain!
GS: Kaguya has activated a Force Action!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Leon Albus with Concussion Rounds!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Concussion Rounds!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Margaret with Concussion Rounds!
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        It's a few seconds later, after Gwen's 'greeting' to Janus, something begins to tickle at the back of her brain. Something else is here. Something that is... Virginia? And Maya? What are they doing here? And Liz- er, Asteroid. Too many other people. Why the heck is everyone here?! Is there a Guardian statue here or something?

        Thankfully, Janus just seems to know the *exact thing* to get Gwen's mind back into focus. How nice of him. Gwen's right hand stiffens as Janus moves to pull something out of his jacket, only relaxing when it seems to be a piece of... paper? No. Something else. It's.

        A
        mailing label

        Gwen just stands there in open astonishment, looking at the mailing label, a glance to Janus, then back to the mailing label, then back to Janus.

        Kaguya is certainly able to just abscond with the box then, because Gwen's attention is on one man and one man only. Well, okay, it mostly just adds insult to injury, but it's not like Janus needed it to make Gwen angry. Oh good, Ragnell's commenting on it too. Why not? Gwen's open to suggestions. Just how is she going to make Janus pay? She's taking suggestions RIGHT NOW

        Gwen's right arm falls slack to her side, her look of mild surprise slowly receding against the tide of the throbbing vein at the side of her temple and the gritting of her teeth. "..... Janus... Cas....cade..." Her hand tightens into a fist. "Y'really mark me for that much of an idiot?"

        Like the swipe of a viper, Gwen swings her fist straight at that proud smug chin of Janus.
        
        "Here's yer DAMN DELIVERY you greasy haired douchebag!"

GS: Kaguya has attacked Lemina Ausa with Riot Breaker!
GS: Kaguya takes 7 damage from Poison!
GS: Kaguya has completed her action.
DC: MISS! Margaret completely evades Concussion Rounds from Kaguya!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has attacked Janus Cascade with Special Delivery!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has completed her action.
GS: Lemina Ausa critically Guards a hit from Kaguya's Riot Breaker for 15 hit points!
GS: Asteroid the Kid takes a solid hit from Kaguya's Blossom Rain for 91 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Morgan Newkirk has posed.


The final door between the mess and the rest of the train opens just as a green beam of energy blasts though the wall. The next wall. The wall behind it...well. There are a lot of burned holes now in things. And one Fox that seems very suprised, suprised and glad he didn't have his ear canted about three inches to the left. Cause that would have make him very...uneven.

He opens his mouth to ask just what was happening, just in time to see Ida smash a window and pull herself outside. Gwen rush though the door and Avril follow after. Leaving him once again the only Drifter in a car full of scared looking passangers.

"I'd keep your heads down!" He calls out to the poor passangers as he starts to move in earnest. His long legged strides taking him to the shattered window and his Gauntlet latches onto the outside. With more strenth than most would credit him for he pulls his lanky from though the shattered portal and up into the brisk night air.

"You know, Ida!" He calls, his drawl nearly lost as the wind and speed tear the words from him. "Remind me never ta say that ya don't know how to throw a party!" A slight pause before he adds. "Bit brisk out here ain't it!"

...which is only worse by Avril's ice.

But the mayhem is already starting and the ARM of the fox is already out, a grin on his face as he spies someone else though the open door. "Gwen? Well now it really is just a party! Down in front!"

All his friends are here.

The ARM in his hand fires, though not towards the people at the top. No it arcs in though the shattered window, banging hard off the door as it bank-shots towards Janus.

That was totally intentional. Totally.

GS: Morgan Newkirk has attacked Janus Cascade with Ace High!
GS: Morgan Newkirk has completed his action.
GS: Janus Cascade guards a hit from Gwen Whitlock's Special Delivery for 78 hit points!
GS: Janus Cascade takes a solid hit from Morgan Newkirk's Ace High for 91 hit points!
GS: Leon Albus takes a solid hit from Kaguya's Concussion Rounds for 128 hit points!
DC: MISS! Ida Everstead-Rey completely evades That Human Touch from Kaguya!
GS: CRITICAL! Avril Vent Fleur takes a solid hit from Kaguya's Concussion Rounds for 250 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Janus Cascade has posed.

Virginia's howl gives Janus a truly awful-looking smile for a moment. "At least I still am one, sweetheart," he sneers. "How's yer ghost shit treatin' ya?"

His eyes briefly glash across Lemina, who called him a cheater earlier which, while a fairly low insult, nonetheless means he should set her house on fire later; but settle on Clive as the bullets come at him--

Just as Dario rips his way out of the bubble Gallows trapped him in, hurling himself int he way as Clive, Virginia's and Maya's initial responses slam into his chest! Ain't Drifter armor great, he's not even bruised.

...OK he's not dead, at least, as he groans in pain. "Boss," he croaks. "There's a muscle wizard 'n' some kinda sassy comet."

"Noticed those, Dario, but thanks," Janus quips back, and slides his weapon over the man's shoulder. Then a lightning storm breaks out overhead.

"Boss, there's also a regular wizard," Dario warns him, as Janus gets jolted repeatedly.

"DIDN'T OW NOTICE OW THAT ONE OW THANK YOU OW" Regaining muscle control, Janus steels his nerves and relocates enough that the horrible zappy doom can't get him, and adds, "Also, cover your ears."

"Thass the deaf one anyway."

"Oh, perfect."

KAPOW comes the report of Janus' gun. Dario pulls his own out while his skull resonates from the horrible noise of a rifle going off nearly inside his damn brain; a revolver shot for Clive, a rifle shot for Maya, and then Janus withdraws a few steps. "Romero!"

"ugggh," Romero groans, but kips up just the same, and drops down to cup his hands, allowing Janus to--

Get punched right in his extremely deserving face by a startlingly furious Gwen.

He exits the roof by a new hole. Morgan's bank shot hits his chaps on the way out.

Romero and Dario look at each other in alarm and squawk "BOSS WAIT UP AHHHH" as they hop up the boxes after their employer, firing wildly behind them as they go. Ragnell is now finally in danger with Romero participating, because he marks her and targets her with one of his needles!

GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Clive Winslet with Bolt Action!
GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Virginia Maxwell with Cascade Gang Cooperation!
GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Maya Schrodinger with Cascade Gang Cooperation!
GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Cascade Gang Cooperation!
GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Seraph Ragnell with Thrown Needle!
GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Morgan Newkirk with Gillius TH12/23 Magnum!
GS: Janus Cascade has completed his action.
GS: Virginia Maxwell takes a glancing hit from Janus Cascade's Cascade Gang Cooperation for 70 hit points!
GS: Janus Cascade takes Cover! He gains 50 temporary hit points!
GS: Maya Schrodinger takes a solid hit from Janus Cascade's Cascade Gang Cooperation for 129 hit points!
GS: Janus Cascade takes Cover! He gains 50 temporary hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Morgan Newkirk critically Guards a hit from Janus Cascade's Gillius TH12/23 Magnum for 29 hit points!
GS: Cripple! Statuses applied to Morgan Newkirk!
DC: MISS! Seraph Ragnell completely evades Thrown Needle from Janus Cascade!
<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Leon looks sideways at Asteroid. He takes a whole two seconds longer to answer, because he is briefly distracted. "Gella," he answers. "A collector in November hired me. Also, because she shot first."

He does not offer apologies.

Blood runs down the length of Argent Divider's blade,until he flicks it to the side -- sending a splash out into the rain, while it splashes down on his head. The concussion round comes flying in and explodes -- and he gets thrown backward across the train's top. He flies, bounces, and comes up crouching. Then, he kicks off the top of the train, and starts charging towards Kaguya.

"A talk with the Guardians?" he asks. "What the hell is in that box!?" He assumed it was some priceless artifact of the Baskar's that he could sell for money. (Sorry, Asteroid.)

He swings Argent Divider up; the barrels snap into place, while the sword cascades back down. He raises the over-under barrel shotgun and fires the lower of the two barrels. The round explodes with a puff of smoke, and a cord of steel comes whipping out, hurtling right for Kaguya's legs.

GS: Leon Albus has attacked Kaguya with Legslice Round!
GS: Leon Albus takes 5 damage from Poison!
GS: Leon Albus has completed his action.
GS: Clive Winslet critically Guards a hit from Janus Cascade's Bolt Action for 29 hit points!
GS: Gwen Whitlock guards a hit from Janus Cascade's Cascade Gang Cooperation for 83 hit points!
GS: Janus Cascade takes Cover! He gains 50 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Ida's fist goes sailing right over Kaguya's head. If it were half the wild swing it looked like at first, Ida would be unable to recover in time--but there's a subtle control behind the strike. Ida doesn't put too much weight into it, and the flow of her chi is smooth, adaptable, responsive. She bobs back at the waist, takes a step back, and plants a boot heel down on the train roof as if it were an anchor point for the defense she's about to mount. Kaguya throws a punch in retaliation, and Ida would be shocked at the force behind it if she had time to be. She crosses her arms, the gauntlet-clad one over the other--Kaguya's fist hits home with an audible clang. The impact is jarring, but doesn't get through the armor.

        And yet, she was coughing up blood mere moments ago, Ida thinks.

        "Whatever for?" Ida says. Her voice is calm, even--precisely the opposite of how she was when Leon saw her last. Her hands dart around to the small of her back, and come up holding a pair of metal objects that she quickly hides by shifting her stance. Seconds tick down. "Do you have burning philosophical questions, or are you seeking mystic insight?" A collector? she thinks, a moment after Leon clarifies his motivations. /Damnation. "Or are you simply going to ask why this world is a cesspool?"

        Ida twists back into a fighting stance, and throws a small metal canister right at Kaguya's face. Leon and Avril and Margaret, at least, have seen these, and know not to look. They know not to look because the canister erupts in a flash of blinding light and a thunderous boom.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Kaguya with Flare Grenade!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

 
Margaret's eyes turn towards Avril as she comes up. "Scepter?" she murmurs.

The Baskar's plight comes up. They do seem to be having a rough time. Maybe we can do something with that, Margaret considers.

Lemina produces a ring of fire. Then she does not fall down, nor is she burned by love's desire, so Margaret has no criticism. Rain gets in her hair as she looks steadily at Kaguya - she coughs - "By the Goddess, do you have consumption?!" Margaret interjects because her mouth will not stop flapping.

Her eyes turn towards Leon then as he brings up - wait - her brow furrows - did he just say? Is he? What?? What is that thing!?

"I don't care about your miserable idols," Margaret says, pointing towards Kaguya again in an accusatory way. "Do you know why I'm UPSET with you? Because this is a train - and do you even know what a train is?" Her hands draw back, spreading. "A set of flimsy wood buildings set behind a howling engine! You could have killed everyone here - to your credit you didn't - but you came damn close! And you're -"

Behind them, cometh the Janus. Margaret looks over her shoulder. "Exactly," she says, gesturing to him. "Imagine if he'd sneezed and shot --" Oh that gun is pointing at her again. Margaret stops talking. She stops breathing. Her heart beats once as she leans forwards...

Forwards further yet...

Margaret actually topples forwards onto her chest and THEN her hair ripples as the shockwave of the round bursts past her, leaving her unarmed. Her back arches for a moment and she kicks off the ground, raising a hand to press to her lips and draw back with what looks like a black lipstick print as she gets closer, raising it up with a sweep, right in front of Kaguya's face, or near enough. The lipstick print suddenly ripples outwards into the night-time wind.

To Kaguya, she speaks in a low voice. "You've got a rough hand. There's nothing I can do but give you my regrets."

To everyone else in a more normal voice she shouts, "Get the BOX, you jackanapes!"

<Pose Tracker> Virginia Maxwell has posed.

        Virginia stammers out a, "Y-yeah, but we're a bit busy here!" to Maya in response to the box getting away, looking towards the rooftop and the boxes; she false-starts as she tries to climb up onto one of the boxes, but--

        POW!

        The ring of the gunshot from Janus' ARM nearly gives her pause as a second bullet grazes her along the hem of her black dress, prompting her to falter and collapse and tumble on the boxes with a yelp.

        How's yer ghost shit treatin' ya?

        "Working on it!" Virginia exclaims, scratching her head. "It's awful... I can't imagine anyone else going through it -- much so choosing to be as awful as you by choice!"

        Jet grunts and slips up past Virginia, his gun slung over his shoulder as he murmurs, "Accelerator--" and has zipped up to join the fight up the top of the roof in an instant. A spray of fire gives Virginia the chance to climb up, with Gallows leaping up in a single bound and helping her up in turn. "Here y'go, girl!"

        "T-thanks," Virginia murmurs, looking back towards Maya for just a moment, then back towards Janus. There's a look of sheer concentration on her as she holds not one--

        --but two Crests, focusing on the power of Wing and Fray at once.

        "Tinder... and Gale... combine into a howling firestorm!" Virginia ad-libs, because she hasn't attended a single day or even hour of Crest Sorcery school. The effect is no less impressive, however, intuitive casting taking over as she conjures a whip of flame that's roiled into a blaze to cut through the Cascade Gang's path with sheer power backed behind it.

GS: Virginia Maxwell has attacked Janus Cascade with Crest Combination!
GS: Virginia Maxwell has completed her action.
GS: Margaret has attacked Kaguya with Illusion Kiss!
GS: Margaret has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya takes a glancing hit from Leon Albus's Legslice Round for 26 hit points!
GS: Slow! Statuses applied to Kaguya!
GS: Kaguya has activated a Force Action!
DC: MISS! Kaguya completely evades Flare Grenade from Ida Everstead-Rey!
<Pose Tracker> Asteroid the Kid has posed.

"Oh woops!" Asteroid says. "Are you ok??" She didn't mean to hit that hard. Wait no, of course not, it's probably Margaret's fault for yelling, she thinks, she just threw a high velocity projectile at Kaguya. Sticks and stones may break your bones but WORDS HURT!! She squints her eyes briefly at Margaret but doesn't do anything about that.

She hops up and down from foot foot as she tris to work out the kink in her legs after all that jumping before suddenly--well okay, not actually suddenly--Kaguya unleashes her own technique!

FLOWERS!

"Flowers?" Asteroid places a hand on a cheek. "For me??" Stars shine in her eyes.

Of course she does try them on for size. She doesn't even try to get out of the way, though she does cover her eyes with an arm. Several flowers slam into Asteroid's body, digging deep enough with each to draw blood though, as they're flowers, it's a lot of small stab wounds rather than anything deep. Asteroid tries to catch one in her mouth dramatically but she really isn't that cool and it just stabs into where her nose would be, giving her a flower nose. She plucks that one out.

"You must have spent a long time on that one... but wait until... you see this!"

She turns towards Leon, sticks her tongue out at him, and adds, "Stealing from the Baskar for money. For shame!"

And then a burst of wind erupts underneath of Kaguya's body, threatening to knock her up. In of itself that doesn't seem too impressive but--

--oh what's those shining hot looking things in the distant sky gradually growing in number?

Probably nothing to worry about.

GS: Asteroid the Kid has attacked Kaguya with Weather Report Says To Expect Heavy Meteor Showers!
GS: Asteroid the Kid has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Kaguya takes a glancing hit from Margaret's Illusion Kiss for 0 hit points!
GS: Poison, Disease, Weaken, Cripple, and Mute! Statuses applied to Kaguya!
DC: MISS! Kaguya completely evades Weather Report Says To Expect Heavy Meteor Showers from Asteroid the Kid!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        And there goes Kaguya with the box. Ragnell's red eyes narrow as she watches her go, then turns a sharp look over to Janus. Fortunately for her, Gwen hits him so hard that he smashes a second hole up through the roof, prompting his cronies to dash after him, throwing spikes behind them in their wake. Ragnell sidesteps them--can Romero actually see her...?--with deft grace, before chasing up the crates up onto the stormy train car top above.
        
        RAther than immediately following up on the attack, she looks around for--*there*. Kaguya's not trying to take on multiple opponents while also keeping hold of the chest, thankfully. "Ginny! I'll camp the Scepters!" she calls over to Virginia. "So you better take these jokers out, y'hear?!" With that, she dashes over towards the chest containing the Ark Scepters, not at all perturbed by the storm around her. Once she's next to it, *then* she'll contribute to the attack--this time by casting a Seraphic arte towards Janus.
        
        "Pierce through!" she calls as the magic circle materializes beneath her. A crackling lance made of lightning materializes into existence, then shoots forwards towards him at her command: "Thunder Spear!!"

GS: Seraph Ragnell has attacked Janus Cascade with Thunder Spear!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

"... I gotta have a talk with the Guardians, too!" Lemina shoots back. "And besides -- you're putting everyone on this train in mega-big danger!" ... Not that... Lemina herself... would not... also have done... exactly that thing. Listen. It, um. It's fine. Don't worry about it.

Lemina throws up a wall of ice in front of herself as Kaguya aims, and by the time the bolt heads for her, the ice is fully ready to take it in turn. That coughing fit, though... that seems to get her attention, and Lemina actually... stops herself from attacking for just a moment. She sees an opportunity for a big strike -- but she doesn't take it.

Instead, she backs up, reaching into her pack and gripping something inside tightly. It glows with an inner light. "... I have to stop you here, but maybe we can talk later," she says, fairly gently. Then, a little more forcefully, she adds, "... But like I said -- I have to stop you here!" There's a bright flash of light in front of Kaguya; it's a bluish-yellow that somehow manages to miss being green, and threatens to destabilize Kaguya's movements and break through her guard more than actually hurt her. ... mostly.

GS: Lemina Ausa has attacked Kaguya with Pulse Explosion!
GS: Lemina Ausa has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya takes a glancing hit from Lemina Ausa's Pulse Explosion for 46 hit points!
GS: Break! Statuses applied to Kaguya!
<Pose Tracker> Clive Winslet has posed.

Gungnir comes up again. This time, there's no additional fire to worry about. The revolver round collides with ARM's stock, knocking Clive back somewhat but allowing him to come out of it with minimal harm. Janus's partners of crime are back into the fray...and all of a sudden, they're heading up to the roof.

It looks like the others wish to pursue him...in that case, he will follow suit.

"Please escort the young ladies on your way up." Clive recommends to the outlaws-turned-allies...probably Gallows more than Jet.

Rather than follow them up the hole, Clive turns to leave the room and climbs up using the ladder next to the door. As he moves, he loads in one of his custom-tooled Ripper Cartridges. He might need the additional stopping power for this one.

Once he's at the top of the ladder he takes aim and fires at Janus again, hopefully giving him something to think about while he makes his way onto the roof proper.

...There were far too many people on this roof for this kind of weather. It was rather unsafe...but sometimes, needs must.

GS: Clive Winslet has attacked Janus Cascade with Ripper Cartridge!
GS: Clive Winslet has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

        The blade cuts. Avril drops backwards, lifting Absolute Zero in a diagonal guard as she carefully plants her right foot and rolls her weight that way, adjusting for the unsteady 'floor' that is the train car's roof.

        ...Some of the clothing Kaguya's wearing. Avril would have sworn she's seen it somewhere before. Somewhere recent, in fact.

        But such concerns go by the wayside, particularly as the young woman stares Kaguya down as the train they stand atop rattles onwards towards its destination.

        "You should understand what I'm doing anyway."

        Some of her previously grim expression is muted, flooded out by an intrusion as Avril grows by degrees mystified. Her lips part slightly.

        "...You are unable to speak to the Guardians?" is not the question that weighs heaviest on her, but it is the question she feels is most pressing.

        Until that point where talk is no longer an option, and only action remains. Kaguya whirls about, discharging round after round of concussive blasts from the ARM.
        Avril fades backwards, seeking more steady footing even than this and a safe spot from the incoming wave of hard light from the ARM.

        She finds neither. Though she's swift and moves with precision, the shot is the faster of the two, and handily catches up and throws the young woman the nearly the rest of the length of the car. She impacts the roof hard and skids perilously close to the edge, a smear of red glinting momentarily in the moonlight near where she lies.

        It takes her a few moments before she rises, slowly and with certain care. The sword is plunged into the rooftop, a support for her as she stands.

        She doesn't so much as pull Absolute Zero free as will the blade gone. An instant later she whips the ARM through the air to manifest the sword component once again with a flourish.

        "...I am still able to fight," she determines then, taking a careful step forward along the rattling car roof.

        And as she makes her way forward, the purse -- still against the odds in her arms -- begins to shine once again. Briefly, there's the scent of the waves, the impression of a wall of seawater. The Guardian Lucadia makes her entrance here, if minutely.

        "Or are you simply going to ask why this world is a cesspool?"

        In the midst of invoking the aid of the Guardians, it's that snippet that she catches. Her gaze flickers over Ida's way, but she says nothing.

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Tidal Wall!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
GS: Avril Vent Fleur takes a solid hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Tidal Wall for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield! Statuses applied to Avril Vent Fleur!
<Pose Tracker> Maya Schrodinger has posed.

It's damn near a combined-arms assault in the confines of the train, which makes for one helluva racket! Maya has since broken into a heck of a sprint since her one-handed blast left Janus with a spot of bruising, ensuring the trade in bulletproof jacket-repairs remains booming after the day has concluded. "Oh no, you don't get out of this one for free, you're mine!" she taunts, face alight with glee, because an unfair fight is a good one. She snaps her sawn-off open between steps, wisps and tendrils of ashen grey spiralling from the empty barrels as two fresh cartridges fill the gap. It's not like the Cascade Gang were born yesterday, though, and know how to fight back while on the run.

The supersonic crack of a rifle slug zipping past only reaches Maya's ears after it has torn her pretty little bonnet off, and an involuntary "Whoop!" escapes her lips. This is good, though, as it distracts her from realizing that running in heels is really rather impossible, and the less she thinks on it, the less likely reality is to come back and bite her in the ass at an inopportune moment. The followup discharge from Janus's oversize rifle also knocks a basketball-sized chunk of the floor out from beneath Maya's next step, and her only recourse is to flail her arms wildly while Ragnell actually keeps her eyes on the prize and formulates a plan. The blonde drifter ad-libs this bit by yelling, "Virginia!!" as if this were her fault, and then springing onto Gallows' back (ow, heels) and away again through the newly-formed Janus-sized hole in the roof.

"Nothing personal," Maya helpfully informs Janus as she emerges onto the roof by way of a flipping vault, zooming past poor Clive's more pedestrian modes of transport. Her expensive skirt is now totally covered in wooden splinters, cinders, and sports an unsightly and sizable, but modesty-preserving hole where a Sniper Shark XL round narrowly missed putting her calf muscles on the outside. "But we'll be taking those little treasures for ourselves. You understand, of course."

Somehow, Maya is still mid-vault through all this. She winks at the assembled Cascade Gang, all at once, and hucks a comical-looking black powder bomb at just the right moment for Virginia's magicked flame to intercept it.

I'm sure the train will be ok with this and nobody will be hurt.

GS: Maya Schrodinger has attacked Janus Cascade with Hurricane-force Shot!
GS: Maya Schrodinger has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        "Y'think you're safe up there?!" Gwen shouts at the 'fleeing' Janus, the gunfire from Romeo and Dario drawing blood. "Y'ain't safe anymore just because you can run, because I can run now too! Gallows, _gimme a boost_!" Gwen's already right there, gruffly asking the poor Baskar for a favor the very moment Clive asks for his assistance. The muscle wizard is probably looking at the very, very odd sight of a very angry Gwen, who could also be known to many Baskars as 'that courier lady', 'that courier who actually gets packages out here', 'nice lady who probably is crazy, why is she traveling the Badlands like this', and 'why is she not dead yet'.

        Of course, the reason Janus could get her this angry is because they're childhood friends.

        From Little Twister.

        It's the little things that really tie the bow on this late little Yuletide package.

        Now on the train roof proper, Gwen nearly stumbles, then slowly stands, regaining her balance. "You get back here and take your whuppin' like you MEANT it!" Gwen roughly *shoves* the sleeve of her blouse up, revealing the length of the Mockingbird, and fires.

        The recoil from that on a moving train *does* make that a little tricky, but Gwen's already bleeding. What's a few more bruises on top of that and her honor as a courier?

GS: Gwen Whitlock has attacked Janus Cascade with Coil Cannon EX!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

Kaguya was coughing up blood. Now, she's hitting Ida's gauntlets with a clang, glaring up at her for an instant as she asks her question. She doesn't notice the metal objects; she doesn't really care about them. Instead she listens to what Ida's asking and lets out a hollow noise from the back of her throat. But she doesn't answer before Ida twists around and throws the canister--which Kaguya snatches straight out of the air with inhuman speed and throws straight over her shoulder, exploding harmlessly off the train. "Heh."

At that, Leon finishes his charge, asks what's in the box--and hacks at her. "Shit--ow!" The cord whips for her legs, and it doesn't get both of them, but it sure wraps around one, a weight on her leg that stings and slows, doing enough to take care of her speeding magic. "Gh--" 'Do you have consumption!?' "Close!" Kaguya coughs at her. Margaret follows up, and she sure has a lot to say to Kaguya. While she talks, she sort of... admittedly only hears half of it. She's upset, talking about trains, and how she could've killed everyone and that's fine--

"I'm fine!" she calls at Asteroid, despite her obvious bleeding and the coughing fit a moment ago. But she ignores Margaret for a moment as she looks at Asteroid, grins a little more cheerfully at her. "You like them?" she asks. It's... It's pretty strange. Asteroid shows her something else--and Kaguya leaps backward onto the box--she's still here, Ragnell--to get out of the way... and then twirls in place to evade the meteors before dropping back down for the last of them. "That was pretty cool--"

Lipstick--the call of one of Kaguya's true weaknesses, femmes--seems to shape before her, and it sweeps in front of her face; it ripples... And Kaguya hears Margaret's voice. "Huh--Sympathy, is it?" She doesn't notice the box moing at first... But the world around her sure seems more disorienting, as she stumbles where she is for a moment. Whatever the magic is, it does something to her head. "Gh--"

Lemina shoots back at her with words. Again talking about the danger, but she has to stop her. That's fine--the light, the strange, no-color light, crashes towards her... and she stumbles again, shaking her head. "Ugh--" Another cough, though this time it's not a fit.

"Right, talk later--" Cough, "Like I said, no hard feelings--"

Beat, "But maybe hard feelings!" She roars that out and takes her ARM in both hands this time. "But yeah--I met a Guardian. She wouldn't even look at me. Wouldn't answer me. But this time--"

She takes aim--and fires a hard round glowing with bizarre colors for Ida this time, as close as they are. The recoil doesn't even faze her as she lunges forward, using her speed to try to get up in Leon's face and shoving backward with one hand, with what might well feel like a train's worth of force--which she rolls with, spinning around to hit the ground and roll. Asteroid gets a burst shot that sprays in her direction, and immediately Kaguya rotates in place to fire another explosive shot straight at Margaret's chest, teeth still gritted. "Regrets suck." ...Sharp, sharp teeth still gritted. Finally she whirls on Avril, takes in a breath, gaze still wavering to look at her. "...I'm gonna talk to the Guardians, yeah."

She loads another cartridge, this one aglow in pale green. "But I'm not asking them questions. They're gonna listen to me." She fires--and the blast hits at Avril's feet before exploding into a column of silvery, green-tinged light that roars with living energy. ...Living energy of a being alien now here.

GS: Janus Cascade has activated a Force Action!
GS: Janus Cascade critically Guards a hit from Virginia Maxwell's Crest Combination for 45 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

Kaguya was coughing up blood. Now, she's hitting Ida's gauntlets with a clang, glaring up at her for an instant as she asks her question. She doesn't notice the metal objects; she doesn't really care about them. Instead she listens to what Ida's asking and lets out a hollow noise from the back of her throat. But she doesn't answer before Ida twists around and throws the canister--which Kaguya snatches straight out of the air with inhuman speed and throws straight over her shoulder, exploding harmlessly off the train. "Heh."

At that, Leon finishes his charge, asks what's in the box--and hacks at her. "Shit--ow!" The cord whips for her legs, and it doesn't get both of them, but it sure wraps around one, a weight on her leg that stings and slows, doing enough to take care of her speeding magic. "Gh--" 'Do you have consumption!?' "Close!" Kaguya coughs at her. Margaret follows up, and she sure has a lot to say to Kaguya. While she talks, she sort of... admittedly only hears half of it. She's upset, talking about trains, and how she could've killed everyone and that's fine--

"I'm fine!" she calls at Asteroid, despite her obvious bleeding and the coughing fit a moment ago. But she ignores Margaret for a moment as she looks at Asteroid, grins a little more cheerfully at her. "You like them?" she asks. It's... It's pretty strange. Asteroid shows her something else--and Kaguya leaps backward onto the box--she's still here, Ragnell--to get out of the way... and then twirls in place to evade the meteors before dropping back down for the last of them. "That was pretty cool--"

Lipstick--the call of one of Kaguya's true weaknesses, femmes--seems to shape before her, and it sweeps in front of her face; it ripples... And Kaguya hears Margaret's voice. "Huh--Sympathy, is it?" She doesn't notice the box moing at first... But the world around her sure seems more disorienting, as she stumbles where she is for a moment. Whatever the magic is, it does something to her head. "Gh--"

Lemina shoots back at her with words. Again talking about the danger, but she has to stop her. That's fine--the light, the strange, no-color light, crashes towards her... and she stumbles again, shaking her head. "Ugh--" Another cough, though this time it's not a fit.

"Right, talk later--" Cough, "Like I said, no hard feelings--"

Beat, "But maybe hard feelings!" She roars that out and takes her ARM in both hands this time. "But yeah--I met a Guardian. She wouldn't even look at me. Wouldn't answer me. But this time--"

She takes aim--and fires a hard round glowing with bizarre colors for Ida this time, as close as they are. The recoil doesn't even faze her as she lunges forward, using her speed to try to get up in Leon's face and shoving backward with one hand, with what might well feel like a train's worth of force--which she rolls with, spinning around to hit the ground and roll. Asteroid gets a burst shot that sprays in her direction, and immediately Kaguya rotates in place to fire another explosive shot straight at Margaret's chest, teeth still gritted. "Regrets suck." ...Sharp, sharp teeth still gritted. Finally she whirls on Avril, takes in a breath, gaze still wavering to look at her. "...I'm gonna talk to the Guardians, yeah."

She loads another cartridge, this one aglow in pale green. "But I'm not asking them questions. They're gonna listen to me." She fires--and the blast hits at Avril's feet before exploding into a column of silvery, green-tinged light that roars with living energy--and sickness.

Then she pulls a syringe from her things and jabs it into her thigh, pressing the plunger hard with a hiss.

GS: Janus Cascade guards a hit from Seraph Ragnell's Thunder Spear for 115 hit points!
GS: Janus Cascade guards a hit from Clive Winslet's Ripper Cartridge for 63 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Janus Cascade critically Guards a hit from Maya Schrodinger's Hurricane-force Shot for 56 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Janus Cascade takes a glancing hit from Gwen Whitlock's Coil Cannon EX for 162 hit points!
GS: Jam! Statuses applied to Janus Cascade!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Prism Canister!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Leon Albus with Green Hand!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Asteroid the Kid with Riot Burst!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Margaret with Riot Breaker!
GS: Kaguya has activated a Force Action!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Moonbeam!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Kaguya with The Good Stuff!
GS: Kaguya takes 7 damage from Poison!
GS: Kaguya has completed her action.
GS: DISEASE! Kaguya tries to heal Kaguya, but it doesn't work!
GS: Asteroid the Kid guards a hit from Kaguya's Riot Burst for 53 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! Statuses applied to Asteroid the Kid!
GS: Margaret takes a glancing hit from Kaguya's Riot Breaker for 32 hit points!
GS: Weaken! Statuses applied to Margaret!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a glancing hit from Kaguya's Prism Canister for 56 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Ida Everstead-Rey!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur takes a solid hit from Kaguya's Moonbeam for 186 hit points!
GS: Disease! Statuses applied to Avril Vent Fleur!
<Pose Tracker> Morgan Newkirk has posed.


And now there are yet more holes in the roof. Morgan looks up just in time to see Janus explode up though the train. His ARM studdenly screaming to life as flickering blue-white energy shields catch bullets and debris fired in his direction. It knocks him backwards off her perch to leave him dangling.

One hand on the ladder, the other over...nothing.

"Well Morgan," He drawls. "This is a fine place you've gotten yourself too..."

He can feel the shock of that hit still in his arm even if his Shield took most of it. Still he pulls himself back up, wind whipping at the edges of his coat.

Crouched down slightly, one hand on the metal roof he smirks slightly as he anchors his ARM and his shields with his mind. Lines of blue white energy burn bright against the metal of the ARM. "Janus! As I live and breathe. I havn't seen ya since ya tried ta shoot me months ago! Back ta petty larceny now is it?" He asks easily as he crooks his hand into a fist light swirlds around his ARM. When it fades there is the ugly barrel of a shotgun attached to the back of the metal, white and gold as he raises it towards the gunman.

It roars, the solid slug ment to slam though armor and defenses like they were nothing.

Of course his aim might be off because something he's very rarely seen before suddenly appears on the roof. An angry Gwen.

He's fairly suprised by this development as he glances between Janus and Gwen. "I'm gonna take it you two know each other." He drawls because. Well. This is just funny to see!

GS: Morgan Newkirk has attacked Janus Cascade with Shieldbreaker!
GS: Morgan Newkirk has completed his action.
GS: Janus Cascade critically Guards a hit from Morgan Newkirk's Shieldbreaker for 23 hit points!
GS: Leon Albus takes a glancing hit from Kaguya's Green Hand for 14 hit points!
GS: Kaguya takes Cover! She gains 50 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Avril takes the hit, and goes tumbling. Ida sees red splatter across the roof of the train before the rain washes away, and her heart all but skips a beat. She reaches for Avril, bent on grabbing her before she can fall to certain death, but the young woman catches herself, and hauls herself back to her feet. Ida turns her attention back to Kaguya. She can hear the second half of the battle catching up to them, but it's Margaret's voice that catches her ear most of all.

        'You've got a rough road. There's nothing I can do but give you my regrets.'

        Poisonous thoughts curl up in the back of Ida's mind. You didn't think of that, did you? But why would you? You only took this job because it made you feel better.

        Kaguya snatches the flare grenade out of the air, and tosses it aside.

        So many people are here to steal from you. Can you really fight them all? Do you want to fight Leon? Lemina? That rock-headed miscreant? Any one of them has friends who can make your life even more hellish than it already is. You thought it would be different out here, but it's just like home.

        Do whatever you want, as long as you don't get caught, and as long as others vouch for your good character.

        Ida's lips curl back. Kaguya's lowering that ARM at her, but she's already twisting to the side, throwing herself out of the way of what would certainly be a fatal gut-shot. The round clips her side, tearing through her shirt as her sodden overcoat billows out behind her. Blood joins the rain dripping down her body. The world skews sickeningly around her, and she sways. She wobbles. She can feel the flow of chi distorting, subtly, in response to a foreign contaminant. She breathes in, and flows with it.

        Ida ducks low, and suddenly surges forwards, her fist blurring forwards. Chi coruscates around it in arcs; the raindrops it hits are flash-boiled by the sudden, overwhelming energy. It is more than enough force to crush a human's ribcage, because Ida taught herself to do it by fighting things that were far more powerful than a human fighter. For Kaguya, it's probably going to be at least a little unpleasant if it hits.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Kaguya with Unladylike Fisticuffs!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes 6 damage from Poison!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Leon sighs, then shakes his head. He is not, it seems, too concerned about selling Baskar artifacts. This may stem from the fact that Leon, at heart, is a privileged and aristocratic man from Kislev. Some things are too ingrained for him to shake free. "I'm afraid it's necessary."

He looks at Kaguya, and his eyes narrow as she approaches. he has no reason to call her a liar, much less think she would lie. He grits his teeth -- and then she gets into his face. He tries to move away, but she still manages to push him back. He stumbles on the slick train roof, but doesn't quite lose his footing. His feet nearly give out, but then he stands up straighter. He looks back at Kaguya, then shakes his head.

"They don't seem inclined to give us answers," he says. "Because they're not human. They're not like us. I doubt they would care to listen."

His eyes shift to the side, towards Ida. He steps to the side -- and after she moves in, fist alight with chi, Leon leaps in. He snaps his weapon; Argent Divider's barrels split and the blade telescopes out. Energy flashes up the length of the weapon, crackling a dark and terrible black, before he strikes hard for Kaguya's side in the passing. As he does, a pair of spectral black tears are left in the air, before they flicker away.

GS: Leon Albus has attacked Kaguya with Black Wolf's Fang!
GS: Leon Albus takes 7 damage from Poison!
GS: Leon Albus has completed his action.
GS: Kaguya has activated a Force Action!
GS: Kaguya takes a glancing hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Unladylike Fisticuffs for 75 hit points!
DC: MISS! Kaguya completely evades Black Wolf's Fang from Leon Albus!
<Pose Tracker> Janus Cascade has posed.

When the crew finds Janus Cascade, they find him having recovered his grounding and looking...right smug about the whole business, even as he rubs his cheek where Gwen socked him. "Temper temper, Whitlock," he says, with a smile.

And then she's already opening fire. "BOSS!" Dario yelps as Gwen pulls the Mockingbird...but Janus is already charging. Sprinting dead on into the blast. It washes across him; his face pulls back from the force of the blast wave, the jacket flares...he should be annihilated.

Instead, Gwen finds him RIGHT IN HER FACE when the light clears...and his bayonet stabbing for her belly.

He looks her in the eyes as the blade sinks deep. "Yes," he says, face intimately close, with a sudden, terrible absence of that habitual smile.

"I do think you're that stupid."

The gun screams as a Rising Nova goes off into her, and then he rips it free, and as if he had not just attempted to murder a personal acquaintance, lazily brings his weapon up and slides a new Cartridge into it, which causes the weapon to release a terrible bolt of light as he aims and fires it at - Lemina?! The sorceress from afar?! She called him a cheater earlier, see, and he has to pay his debts. The shot rips apart her defenses, shredding magic and technological shielding alike. "Yo Green!" he calls. "Nice work but remember we need that CASE!" he points in Ragnell's direction, and while he's at it attempts to shoot her head off.

...he does it so casually you might almost miss that it wasn't aimed at someone else. Then he's back in it. Dario leaps in the path of Virginia's astonishing and somewhat nonsensical crest combination, screaming as wind and fire tear at him. That leaves her open for Janus to tilt right at her and stab his spear toward her chest just as he did with Gwen. "Heh. Familiar, ain't it?" he laughs, before ripping it out and spinning a roundhouse at her head to knock her on her ass. Before Maya or Clive can object, he slams a Cartridge home and shoots straight up, another Multiblast firing into the air and then firing down, tearing into the mass of Drifters arrayed against him.

GS: Janus Cascade has activated a Force Action!
GS: Janus Cascade has activated a Force Action!
GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Rising Nova!
GS: Gwen Whitlock takes a solid hit from Janus Cascade's Rising Nova for 198 hit points!
GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Virginia Maxwell with Heretic Stab!
GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Seraph Ragnell with Sniper Shark XR!
GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Morgan Newkirk with Multiblast!
GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Maya Schrodinger with Multiblast!
GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Clive Winslet with Multiblast!
GS: Janus Cascade has attacked Lemina Ausa with Shattershell!
GS: Virginia Maxwell takes a solid hit from Janus Cascade's Heretic Stab for 111 hit points!
GS: Cripple! Statuses applied to Virginia Maxwell!
GS: Janus Cascade has completed his action.
GS: Maya Schrodinger takes a solid hit from Janus Cascade's Multiblast for 99 hit points!
GS: Clive Winslet guards a hit from Janus Cascade's Multiblast for 57 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Lemina Ausa guards a hit from Janus Cascade's Shattershell for 33 hit points!
GS: Shieldbreak and Cripple! Statuses applied to Lemina Ausa!
GS: Morgan Newkirk takes a solid hit from Janus Cascade's Multiblast for 100 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Virginia Maxwell has posed.

        Please escort the young ladies on your way up.

        "Whuh? Hehehe-- that much I can do--YOWCH!" Gallows' rather bon vivant grin rapidly turns into an eye-popped look of pain and exasperation as Maya bounces her way up his back, and then Gwen comes up next to him. "O-okay, okay!" He reaches down and cups his hands, and gives the courier a boost upwards. Co-op mechanics!

        But before she can carry much of anything off, Janus has just-- zipped into a forward sprint, and plunged the point of his bayonet into Gwen's-- what she can only perceive is her stomach, in a fatal place.

        Her face drops, and all pretense of resistance goes straight out the window.

        The faint laughter of a young woman seems to cut through the heavy rain for a moment, the image of a butterfly floating through seen at the corner of one's eye, like it were seen in a dream...

        ... and Virginia reels and gasps, dropping to one knee. "Oi, girl!" Gallows exclaims as he kneels by her side, going, "Keep it together!" Jet lets out a 'tsskkk' as he launches into another volley of fire to push him back.

        Virginia clutches at her arms and mumbles, "I can't... I wanted to hold it in... I didn't wanna rely on it... but... it burns too much... it's too painful...!!"

        She looks helplessly at Maya for a moment -- and casts her eyes forward. "You asked me about my 'ghost shit', earlier... well--"

        There's a snarl as the skies around Janus and his gang darken for a moment. Just for a brief spell, long enough to burn an impression into the mind, Virginia's Domain manifests-- a black and most nightmarish place like she once visited upon Janus Cascade back in that bar in Lacour. And like before...

        ... the nightmarish images from the very recesses of his mind come rushing through, in every sense of the word tangibly real as real can be within that moment of twistedness, as the Malevolence within her takes full hold, for everyone to be able to feel.

        "--take another taste of them... DIE for me, Janus Cascade!"

GS: Virginia Maxwell has activated a Force Action!
GS: Virginia Maxwell has attacked Janus Cascade with Inescapable Nightmare!
GS: Virginia Maxwell has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Ragnell has activated a Force Action!
DC: MISS! Seraph Ragnell completely evades Sniper Shark XR from Janus Cascade!
<Pose Tracker> Asteroid the Kid has posed.

Asteroid the Kid says, "It's an Ark Scepter! I need it to save Ginny! You just need cash so don't touch it and steal the money from your employer instead!" She almost said something ethical there.

"Y-yeah! I mean, like, everybody's gonna think 'Wow! What an artistic attack!', you know?" Of course, Asteroid the Kid largely has one method of assault and that's repeatedly throwing rocks of various sizes at people. To be fair, meteors are notably usually very effective methods of attack.

She's frankly sympathetic to Kaguya's desire. She'd normally be all for it, but Ginny still needs it. Then she'll be sure Kaguya can yell at them all she wants. Or more to the point... she'll make sure she gets off this planet. She's making progress. The Metal Demons are teaching her. She's helping fix up their strange skyship. These are the stepping stones she needs to make her dreams come true.

She gets blasted back by Kaguya's burst shot which is significantly not flowers, and it hits her in the chest where she's not immune to robots. "Agh..." Asteroid sinks to one knee, placing one hand on her wound. She pants for breath a few times. She lowers her head, laughs faintly, and then adds, "You know, those were just the shards of the meteors that broke off. A bit of a prelude..."

She swings her hand to the right and adds, "RIGDOBRITE! GIVE ME THE POWER... TO EXTEND!"

Asteroid the Kid throws herself back into the air, catching a ride with one of the meteors as they tumble towards the train. Several of the meteors will miss the train entirely, but others may provide to be HAZARDS that you may have to deal with in the upcoming moments.

And several, well, Asteroid the Kid flat out starts kicking meteors towards the targets, people she has resolved can't get the Ark Scepter no matter what.

And Also Kaguya.

"I'm Asteroid the Kid! I'm Lydia the Freefall Star!" She cries out. "This is my responsibility! No offense!!"

GS: Asteroid the Kid has attacked Janus Cascade with Meteor Crash!
GS: Asteroid the Kid has attacked Leon Albus with Meteor Crash!
GS: Asteroid the Kid has attacked Kaguya with Meteor Crash!
GS: Asteroid the Kid has completed her action.
GS: Janus Cascade has activated a Force Action!
GS: Janus Cascade guards a hit from Asteroid the Kid's Meteor Crash for 102 hit points!
GS: Janus Cascade guards a hit from Virginia Maxwell's Inescapable Nightmare for 99 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

To have a god in the room with you and have it refuse to even look at you, even when you're suffering the way Kaguya is... that's dire, and Lemina recognizes the direness for what it is. She wonders, for a moment, if that's really the whole picture, though -- could there be something else up? The idea of one creature staring straight through another isn't so foreign to someone who's interacted with Seraphim, after all...

... but thinking that through takes time that she can't really spare for it right now, so instead Lemina looks briefly to Margaret, then back to Kaguya. Kaguya's given her a brief respite, but unfortunately, she can't really afford to repay the Veruni in kind. She has to take action here, as best she can --

-- which means calling on the power within her yet again. Twirling her staff, Lemina collects a spike of ice at the head; it starts out small, but rapidly grows to the size of a forearm, or thereabouts. She rears back to fire it off --

-- and Janus fires off a bolt of light at her, and she loses the spell for a few moments. She skids across the train roof, but manages to recover thanks to Margaret's spell -- and ends up just hastily chucking the icicle at Kaguya off the tip of her staff, rather than going for her original plan.

GS: Lemina Ausa has attacked Kaguya with Ice Lance!
GS: Lemina Ausa has completed her action.
GS: Leon Albus takes a solid hit from Asteroid the Kid's Meteor Crash for 171 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

 
The rippling illusion would probably have worked better if people did not pour on the Direct Penalty Shots, or "DPS." Margaret has little grounds to complain.

And she is piqued.

PIQUED MOST PROFOUNDLY. "Well what in the hells do you want from me, woman!? Scorn?! Contempt!? A polite apology for taking umbrage with you attempting to steal some sort of heathen relic from at least two different groups of people in order to talk to the Guardians!? Eh?!" She almost jabs a finger out to touch Kaguya but opts, in the end, against it.

For you see, the big constraint on Margaret right now is a low-grade fear of contagion. She does not even recognize it in her thought processes, but that bloody hacking and these dire portents speak to her of something in particular, and it is not something that will be to her credit in the end. Then again, it means that when the explosive shot comes towards her, she is able to dive off the -

side
of
the

Hm.

And then Margaret levers herself upwards and does a bend forwards because her bootheels had adhered to the side of the train car! Pulling herself to safety, sweat runs down her spine, though the rain washes it away. "Close..." she breathes. The sight of the earth speeding by beneath her...

This also handily put her out of the line of sight for Janus Cascade.

Meteors burst from the sky. Her eyes turn towards Lemina, and she says with a sort of breezy attitude, "This is getting absurd, isn't it?"

Then Margaret swaggers herself upright. "If it helps," she calls to Kaguya, reaching for something at her belt, "I haven't ever seen a Guardian. I half think you're all huffing swamp gas!" It probably does not help. Nor does the sudden trio of shrieking sharp-edged cards that Margaret hurls through the storm like shuriken, glittering with crackles of subtle magic. (Seven of Swords, the Tower, Ace of Disks.)

GS: Margaret has attacked Kaguya with Killer Hand!
GS: Margaret has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Kaguya takes a glancing hit from Asteroid the Kid's Meteor Crash for 111 hit points!
GS: Poison, Cripple, Jam, and Mute! Statuses applied to Kaguya!
DC: MISS! Kaguya completely evades Ice Lance from Lemina Ausa!
GS: Kaguya takes a glancing hit from Margaret's Killer Hand for 36 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! Statuses applied to Kaguya!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        Hm. Ragnell's standing right next to the box. Kaguya is now standing on *top* of the box. This is sort of awkward, isn't it? Ragnell eyes her, looking the tiny Veruni up and down for a moment, until Kaguya then leaps for Leon to have him talk to the hand, then dive into a roll before attacking Asteroid and Avril. Ragnell watches the lot of them for a second with raised eyebrows, then looks back down at the box.
        
        A fight is a fight, and fights are great. But she's here for more than that. Business before pleasure, and all that. Janus gets that, too: he yells about needing to get that case and--aims--right--for--her. Casual indeed, but Ragnell can tell that that shot's aimed for her in particular. For one thing, if she hadn't whirled around behind said box, it would've taken her head off.
        
        Instead, that shot takes off that lock. Just, BAM, clean off--along with a pretty significant chunk of the case itself. Ragnell rises up from behind the box with a cocky grin, tipping her hat Janus's way. "Thankee kindly," she calls, and if it was unclear before if he could see her, it'll surely be made clear now. If, you know, he's not too busy being made to see infinite nightmares courtesy of Ginny the Hellion. She sure is coming in handy, isn't she?
        
        Ragnell holsters her guns and kicks the box open the rest of the way. The lid groans open as the battles rage on either end of the train car, meteors falling, ice spikes dancing, people getting impaled. The Ark Scepter lies within, open to the air and rain and storm. Ragnell smiles, and with no preamble, reaches in and grabs it. Why take the whole box when you can just snag the contents?
        
        And with that, twisting the storm around her to rain down lightning bolts to cover and aid her escape, the Seraph turns and prepares to leap off the side of the train into, literally, her element. Focused as she is on manipulating the storm, there's a moment in which she can be fired upon or attacked--but it'll pass soon.

GS: Seraph Ragnell has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

        She's aware, briefly, of Ida reaching for her, but before the young noblewoman can reach her, she's managed to get back up on her feet.

        Neither is Ida the only one catching bits of conversation as they swirl around her. Avril also hears a few words passed between others as she rallies herself and takes stock of the field.

        A story -- or part thereof -- assembles itself. Kaguya had met a Guardian. The Guardian, for some reason, had refused to speak or even look at her.
        Why?
        It doesn't add up. There's something she's missing here, some logic that would set this whole thing into alignment.

        But this is the reason Kaguya wants to steal the object. She wants to make them--
        "Listen to you? What are you intending?"

        The chance for words is there and gone in an instant.

        Avril dives left -- a motion that sends a sickening wrench up through her core -- but the silvery-green light knows no ordinary limitations. Any assumption she'd been free from its grasp is quickly destroyed: it erupts underneath her feet and for an instant, she freezes as if transfixed as the wave of diseased energy flows up around her.
        And through her. There may not be a physical wound, but there might as well have been. Avril staggers, disoriented, the moment the magic fades.

        One hand, still holding her bag -- and more importantly the Medium inside -- is pressed against her abdomen. The blade is held in a low guard.
        Standing like this, Avril lifts her head in time to see Janus attack Gwen.

        Blue eyes widen.
        In spite of herself, a wordless shout escapes her lips.

        She's in no condition to race over there, as battered as she is. As it is, she manages little more than a step forward.

        But there are things that can reach where a blade cannot. The Medium shines bright, bright even through the bag.

        Once again, the Guardian makes her partial presence known. Like a torrent, shining liquid energy rains down upon Gwen, perhaps enough to partially bouy her up in spite of her wounds.

        The Guardian's power is there however minutely in the world.
        And then it's gone. Avril exhales a breath, then unfolds herself, straightening and lifting her chin as she regards Kaguya.

        "If there is something that you would like to say, then say it now."

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Ocean's Blessing!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
GS: Avril Vent Fleur heals Gwen Whitlock! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Clive Winslet has posed.

Another Multiblast, raining down towards him. Fortunately for Clive, he was expecting it this time. Gungnir serves its purpose, once more offering him shelter from the deadly hail of bullets.

However, Janus did helpfully point something out. The case - the case containing the cargo he was tasked to protect.

His attention goes to the young woman from the cargo hold, who seems to double over in pain...before roaring at Janus to die for her.

...Well then. But...perhaps it would serve as a suitable distraction.

He starts to move carefully toward the box...but then, suddenly, it seems someone had a similar idea. He levels his ARM at the woman, whom he doesn't realize has no right to be seeing, but is clearly about to abscond with the Ark Scepter.

He opens fire, the Gungnir HAG35 still loaded with Ripper Cartridges.

"Madam, I would suggest that you put those back. It is my duty to deliver those to the Baskar Colony in one piece...and I am a man of my word." He states. His voice is calm and cool...but with a hint of danger to it.

GS: Clive Winslet has attacked Seraph Ragnell with Ripper Cartridge!
GS: Clive Winslet has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Morgan Newkirk has posed.


Oh yeah. Defintally they know each other. That kind of homicide and rage only comes from long assocition. Morgan can tell. At least he can tell after he's done getting a cluster bomb flug in his general direction. It isn't very pleasent for the record, espicially since his shields arn't angled to catch things coming at him from that angle. Its alright though, he's been shot before. Its a occuptional hazard really.

What actually has him worried is the fact that Gwen, one of the only actual nice people he knows, has just been stabbed. Then shot.

His eyes widen before he is moving. A rush forwards to try to at least pry some part of Janus' attention away from the Worlds Greatest Courier.

"Ya know," His drawl comes even as he pulls his arm back, the ARM gleaming brighting. "Pick on someone yer own size is cliche. But sometimes it just feels right ta say."

A punch is not something the gunman usually relies on, but sometimes it also just feels right to do. Espicially when its right towards Janus' smiling face. The glimmering ARM transfering all the built up force from that swing into power for the Fox's gleaming shield systems.

GS: Morgan Newkirk has attacked Janus Cascade with Blazer Gauntlet!
GS: Morgan Newkirk has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

The injection... Doesn't help. The magic on her, the curses, they stop it helping, and Kaguya doesn't get the extra boost she was counting on. Her teeth grind together. It's got great. So she snaps, "Speak for yourself!" To Leon. "I'm not like you either!" Ida then ducks low--rushes her. The chi corscuates around that fist as Kaguya narrows her eyes, sees the raindrops crashing into the energy... and it's well more than enough force to shatter a human ribcage. Kaguya throws up her arm as she tries to get out of the way, can't move in time--

And shrieks as she batters the hand with her forearm out of the way, the energy nevetheless blasting up her arm enough that the smell of burning flesh sizzles into the rain, her left arm hanging uselessly after that.

Leon is already there at the same time, with dark, crackling energy--and as he passes, she hurls herself out of the path with a shot straight down into the train and a hop backwards. The tears even in passing seem to draw something out of her. "...You..."

But at that Janus is helping and--also calling to her. "Workin' on it!" she calls back, glaring back at the case. "Don't think I'll let it get away--"

"Save Ginny? What're you talking about?" Kaguya calls to Asteroid--but then she does talk about her attack and Kaguya nods along, catching her breath. "Yeah totally--"

Rigdobrite is next. The meteors crash towards her, the one kicked by Asteroid, and Kaguya shifts to meet it--

boom, carried straight past the box to land on the other side of the train, tumbling. "Ast--"

Lemina's magic is cool--it's shiny, it's icy... and hurtles at Kaguya quickly. Her eyes widen and she shoves herself to the right, rolling out of the way. "Whoa, you're good at that--"

Margaret. Of course, Margaret. "I don't want anything from you!" Kaguya shouts back at the stylish woman. "But--"

Kaguya reaches for something... and the cards hit at her. Two impact harmlessly on her armor, but the last slices her cheek, opening up a little wound with a hiss. "Well at least SOMEBODY else thinks the Guardians are bullshit, THANKS!"

It... It almost sounds sincere.

But then things... change. Because of Virginia's Malevolence. THe world starts to twist for an instant, just long enough, this nightmarish place that freezes Kaguya, makes her feel prickles on ehr skin. "That's--" ...And as she looks around for the source, she sees Ragnell. "Don't you--"

She does.

"Aaagh!" Kaguya picks up her ARM again--and fires with a shriek of rage, the bullet crashing towards Ragnell--well, the burst of light--and erupting into another column of light, anathema to natural beings.

She whirls on the others at that, seeing that Ragnell is far gone--that even jumping now she won't catch her. There's a spark in her eyes. "...Fine. If that's how it is--" Avril lifts the Medium. Avril shows as that light shines--that light. The light Kaguya knows well, her eyes widening.

"...What am I intending?" she asks, and looks to the light. "Tell Lucadia that I'm coming for her," the small Veruni snarls. And then... she pulls something from under her shirt, awkwardly, ARM in hand as her other hangs limply, and takes a big whiff. Her pupils dilate instantly as the bag hangs back around her neck. "...Heheheheheheheh..."

"CASCANE!" Kaguya shouts, "She got 'em, I'm out!" And then she whirls into action, ignoring her wounds completely apparently--no, not feeling them, despite the disorientation. She fires moonlight blasts at Leon next, near point-black, at Margaret with a column that lands at her feet--"I like you!"--and then a burst at Ida, "I'll find you later--"

She keeps moving; it's then a concussive blast for Asteroid and Avril both; weaving among them as if dancing, too agile to be human, on her way to...

The edge.

"...I guess it was fun." She steps back, fully intending to just drop straight off a moving train and hit the ground rolling. Leon sure has time to look into her eyes as she goes, covered in green, flower-scented winds.

...and plenty of people can strike at her while she's among them.

GS: Kaguya has activated a Force Action!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Seraph Ragnell with Moonbeam!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Leon Albus with Moonbeam!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Margaret with Moonbeam!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Moonbeam!
GS: Kaguya has activated a Force Action!
GS: Leon Albus takes a solid hit from Kaguya's Moonbeam for 177 hit points!
GS: Disease! Statuses applied to Leon Albus!
GS: Leon Albus has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Asteroid the Kid with Concussion Rounds!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Concussion Rounds!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Lemina Ausa with Concussion Rounds!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Kaguya with Blossom Wind!
GS: Kaguya has been weakened by Disease! They take 0 hit points of damage, and burn off their temporary hit points!
GS: Kaguya takes 7 damage from Poison!
GS: Kaguya has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya takes a solid hit from Kaguya's Blossom Wind for 0 hit points!
GS: Quick! Statuses applied to Kaguya!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur takes a solid hit from Kaguya's Concussion Rounds for 136 hit points!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
GS: CRITICAL! Margaret takes a solid hit from Kaguya's Moonbeam for 313 hit points!
GS: Disease! Statuses applied to Margaret!
GS: Asteroid the Kid critically Guards a hit from Kaguya's Concussion Rounds for 26 hit points!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has activated a Force Action!
GS: Seraph Ragnell takes a glancing hit from Kaguya's Moonbeam for 86 hit points!
GS: Disease! Statuses applied to Seraph Ragnell!
GS: Seraph Ragnell takes a solid hit from Clive Winslet's Ripper Cartridge for 120 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Kaguya's Moonbeam for 179 hit points!
GS: Disease! Statuses applied to Ida Everstead-Rey!
<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

"That--"

Leon stares at Asteroid for a moment. The distraction is rather severe, all told, because he did not expect her to attack him. He tries to leap away from one of the meteors that swings in. It clips him in the leg and sends him into a spin. Then, he slams down into the roof and bounces up. He comes up, again, but it's shakily this time. "I wouldn't provide that to a collector! I have more sense than a common grave robber!"

Unfortunately, while shouting, he doesn't have the focus that he should on Kaguya. Which, of course, proves to be a problem -- the blast from the moonbeam that Kaguya fires catches him square in the chest. He doesn't, in fact, look into her eyes.

He is instead pitched off the side of the train with a shout, which quickly reduces into nothing before he hits the ground and rolls.

GS: Janus Cascade takes a solid hit from Morgan Newkirk's Blazer Gauntlet for 116 hit points!
GS: Morgan Newkirk takes Cover! He gains 50 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        "... Yeah." Gwen grimaces as Morgan comments on her... particular bond with Janus. "We do."

        In the end, even as mad as she was, Gwen never really had the notion to actually kill Janus. It was an acceleration of force that felt *right*, in a way Gwen hasn't really found necessary until, well, just now. Because few people in her life could really get such a rise out of her.

        Janus is just that class of asshole. It also helps that he has a direct line to Gwen's own, buried underneath a mountain of good vibes, complete denial, and determination to think herself as someone different just because she felt life was worth living again.

        It's all fun and games until the masks come off.

        Seeing Janus's face, right there in front of her with a closeness that was usually meant for sharing terrible secrets, Gwen finds his expression doing all the sharing for him. Specifically, what's there when that smile's been put away. There was someone here she used to know. Someone she tried to shoot, yes, but that's Badlands for 'I care'.

        "... Janus." She's not longer angry. She's alarmed. Just what is in those eyes of his?

        And then, it's all over. Gwen tumbles to the ground like a puppet cut from its strings, her pain nearly blotting out the wave of Malevolence that erupts instantaneously around her. This is a consequence of her hubris.

        The Mockingbird flares to life, the channeled energy within desperately keeping up with the stress her wound puts on her body. Morgan comes in, covering for Gwen, while the blessed healing waters of Avril's medium stop the bleeding. Looking up towards Morgan, Gwen gives him a shaky thumbs up. But wait. Where's Virginia?

        'DIE for me, Janus Cascade!'

        "Ginny! Don't do it!!!" Yeah, that's Gwen. Yelling at Virginia to spare Janus. "It's not somethin' you can walk away from!" If Ida's taught her anything, it's that.

        "I'm okay, see?!" gwen, you have blood all over your abdomen, Ginny can't see a goddamn thing

<Pose Tracker> Janus Cascade has posed.

'DIE FOR ME!'

The screaming comes back. The chattering. The feel of her blood on his--

Janus Cascade levels his ARM directly at Virginia Maxwell - somehow, impossibly despite the torment - and finds her eyes. "No," he says, with a hate like ice, and fires a bullet directly at her heart.

He doesn't especially expect it to kill her but it makes him feel better as the psychic attack recedes.

"Boss!" Dario squawks. "Holy shit!" Romero squeeks.

"Don't worry about it," Janus grunts, though he walks away with the rigidity of a man in a dark room stubbornly refusing to admit he senses something behind him. He turns his eyes - sees (what does he see?) escaping away with the staff, and whips up his gun. "Don't even think it!" he snarls.

And then Asteroid the Kid blows him the hell up, sending him tumbling ass over teakettle back and away. He kips up ably, but the time he can line up another shot - Clive's got one off first. Kaguya's retreating. And he--

        Seemingly far away, the sound of a train horn in the darkness.

...is out of time. Janus roughly yanks his pocket watch out, glancing at it for four seconds. His eyes glide up to Morgan, to Maya, to Gwen.

"Reward's not worth this much hassle," he decides out loud. "Romero!"

"RIGHT!" the would-be ninja shouts, hurling a wrapped ball at the ground which, it turns out, explodes in a powerful, blinding light.

When the light fades, Janus is on the train going the opposite direction that was APPARENTLY ON THE WAY, waving cheerfully at the Drifters he's leaving behind.

"Hey, Gwen, if that ghost bitch survived, shoot 'er again for me!" he calls, as if they had not LITERALLY SECONDS AGO been murdering each other. "Only one thing to do with a dog like that, yeah?"

GS: Janus Cascade retreats, outdistancing all pursuit and parting shots.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

        "Tell Lucadia I'm coming for her."

        There amidst the storm, atop the train, Avril stares, briefly struck dumb by the sudden realization of the intent behind those words.

        "You've found one, haven't you," she says, clutching the Medium close as she takes one step forward. Despite the wounds to her body, it appears she still intends to fight. She lifts the blade, shakily, and with perhaps startling speed for her injuries, races along the roof of the car towards the woman in green.

        And Kaguya fires.

        She's still not nearly fast enough. She's aware through a haze of red that she's been struck, that she's been sent staggering perilously close to the edge of the hole in the roof.

        It's a distressingly simple matter then when she slips those few degrees back and plummets those few feet down to the floor of the car below.

        Absolute Zero lands with a clatter beside her. She still cradles the Medium close where she lies. She doesn't get back up.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        Naturally, going straight for the prize and then leaving with it isn't something you can just *do*. Ragnell knows that, and she figures in particular that Janus and Kaguya will take exception to her actions, which is why she's prepared for it when Kaguya opens fire on her with an erupting burst of light that sears on her semi-corporeal skin and leaves behind an unpleasant tingling that's going to itch like crazy for *hours*, she just knows it. However, she's *not* anticipating Clive sneaking up for the box and opening fire on her for it. She thus leaps out of the way of the worst of Kaguya's attack, that light still searing across her as she passes, leaving her hissing in pain--a good thing she didn't take *that* head on--and leaving her momentarily vulnerable to Clive's Ripper rounds, which leave her snarling in pain and stumbling.
        
        But her grip on the Ark Scepter remains true, and she stumbles yet closer to the edge of the train past a hole in the floor/ceiling that grants her some cover, and the storm still bends to her will. After all, in a sense, she *is* the storm. She staggers upright, then tucks the Scepter into her belts. "Sir, *I* would suggest that you kiss my brown ass," she tells Clive in a mockery of his own seriouscat tone.
        
        Raising her voice, she calls to the Hellion and Pals, "Ginny! I got the goods! See ya later!" ...Does that mean she intends on giving the Scepter to Ginny later? Hard to say, considering Janus opens fire on her after having stabbed Gwen a whole lot. Regardless, she then leaps off the train at the same moment a stroke of lightning falls, and Ragnell is one with the storm and gone in a literal flash.

<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

 
"Well you have a funny way of showing it!" Margaret retorts to Kaguya before

that

happens

A burst of sheerly, starkly inconcievable light. Margaret wonders for a fleeting moment why she didn't use this earlier on, but, she has little time for such consideration, because the blast is sufficient for her to rise up and go flying off the train, twisted at a poor angle. There is a bitter moment as cold disquiet washes through her subtle energies: and here I had thought this might happen to Ausa.

Of all the places for this to happen, she thinks as she flies into the darkness, the train roaring past her. She twists a leg out, but Thunder Road is fading and all it does is alter her trajectory enough that as the train whips past her, she manages to put herself in the way of the railbed. The dim stormy light glimmers on the ground-hot rails and Margaret thinks as the ground rises up towards her, no -

but -
this feeling -

She is given a point of contrast when she hits her left arm rolling and one of the bones cracks. She sprawls in the railbed then, the rain pouring onto her as she stares dizzily into the clouds of the Blue Star.

Margaret blinks several times, and attends to her interior state. The balance of this, she thinks. The rhythm of that machine. Its subtle vibrations, receding away. Rolling along these smoothed paths. Could it be possible? But that much force, she thinks, it could kill -

Margaret pushes herself upright. "It could kill somebody," she says, eyes gleaming in the dark. Energy ripples around her, and the darkness crackles with stars:

WHICH, TO AN EXTERIOR PERSPECTIVE, is notable for a couple of moments later, whereupon a dark and shimmering figure vaults up high and leaps with a spectacularly high kick to the back of the caboose, a streaking along the back of the train's roof, moving forwards - a doppler shifted voice screeching out, "WOMAN COME OUT AND TAKE YOUR MEDICINE--"

Margaret is back, glowing and shimmering, her right hand raised up into that same over-dramatic claw. She skids to a halt along most of the length of the secure car's roof, pushing back, her attention darting around -

"-- They're gone??" Margaret says, with towering disgust.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Something skitters along the edges of Ida's senses, a warm, sickly, grotesque feeling she's felt before. Malevolence. Her eyes widen as a horrible hiss of a voice carries through the din.

        'DIE for me, Janus Cascade.'

        A Hellion? Or something else? Ida reaches into her coat pocket and comes up with a chunk of rock in her off-hand. She clutches it like it's a talisman of warding, even as a strange blur catches her eye near where she thinks the source of the Malevolence is. She sees the Arc Scepter just sort of hovering there in mid-air.

        'Thankee kindly~!'

        Ida's jaw drops in horror, and then sets as that horror oh-so-quickly curdles into rage. She doesn't have her ARMs. Kaguya's taking aim at her. Ida almost misses her, but whirls around just in time to take the cartridge to the gut. Oddly, it doesn't do much to her already-ragged shirt, but it feels like she's been splashed with acid. She doubles over, biting back a scream of pain mostly because she doesn't want to give Kaguya that kind of satisfaction. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Leon pitching over, and tumbling. Avril goes down a moment later, tumbling back down into the passenger car. Ida immediately assumes the worst. Tears join the blood and rain. She's completely lost track of Ragnell, and her guts feel like they're on fire.

        Failure.

        Ida breathes. If nothing else, her training gives her a bit of an edge--a few breaths in, and the taint of the foreign energy is already surging up, into the meridian networks in her arm. She rises, spins on a heel as Kaguya tries to make her exit, and almost stumbles on the rain-slick roof. Ida surges forwards, sickly, green-tinted chi crackling around her gauntleted fist as she swings at Kaguya--kindly returning the energies she generously loaned to her. As if the crushing force behind the blow weren't enough.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Kaguya with School of the Demon Fist!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes 7 damage from Poison!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya takes a glancing hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's School of the Demon Fist for 167 hit points!
GS: Lemina Ausa takes a solid hit from Kaguya's Concussion Rounds for 141 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

Kaguya leaves, and while Lemina would certainly like to reach out a little more -- she can't, in substantial part because she gets bowled over by sheer concussive force. She's left hanging from the train for a moment, but her feet are still magnetized to solid objects thanks to Margaret -- which means she hangs on successfully, clambering back to the roof in short order.

Her delicate, magely constitution can't take this kind of thing! She pants excessively, electing to just lie on top of a train for now rather than shout after Kaguya. She knows there's more urgent things to do, but frankly, that blast hurt and she's in quite a lot of pain.

"... Looks like," Lemina offers Margaret, at the question. She still needs a bit.

<Pose Tracker> Asteroid the Kid has posed.

"The hellion thing is fucking her up!" Asteroid the Kid says because that's really her best understanding of it. "And everybody tells me to find this Sorey douchebag, but I'm PRETTY SURE he doesn't exist, so fuck it you know!" Asteroid the Kid is blasted in the head by Kaguya's blast, sending her jerking backwards. She sways unsteadily on top of the meteor she's hanging out on. She sees Leon tumble off and worries for a moment that she helped kill a man. She hadn't actually REALLY done that before, though she always figured hse'd be prepared for that.

"Guess this is where we're splittin'..." She murmurs. "But I swear Kaguya! I'll get you off this rock! I'll take whatever will be taught to me, whether it be metal demons, or beyond!"

She leaps backwards, and fans out her arms from side to side, leaping back and off after Seraph Ragnell, ntending to cover her escape and, well, escape as well right after her. As she falls she swings both of her pistols forward, one raising up and the other pointed forward as if she's going to shoot.

And then she sticks out both middle fingers and vanishes within the storm. Probably unpleasant, but she's gotta get outta here somehow.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

Ida can feel her fist impact something solid, but without the clang of metal-on-metal--and she can feel her target being thrown backward by the blow. The explosion that ensues hides what becomes of Kaguya, though, except an unhinged look straight back into Ida's eyes. The energy roars around her--and that's what Ida sees as she's thrown clear, save for her own blinding light.

She does not answer Avril's charge any more than she already has. She's just... gone.

Seems like it is time to split. But somewhere in the desert... Past the train that's fallen...

A hand twitches, fingers covered in strangely articulated plastic. Fingers dig into the dirt--

And a small figure drags herself upward. ...The rain falls.

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

        With the ruckus on the train being as bad as it was, and with Avril having been up in a train car closer to the mysterious treasure, and with the storm beating at them any time they had to go from one car to the next, it took Dean and Rebecca a while to get all the way from near the back of the train up to... well, where the fight is taking place. And unfortunately, fights can go by pretty fast.
        
        "I've got a bad feeling about this, Dean," Rebecca says as the two of them race up towards the unlocked treasure car, the sounds of battle louder and more cacophonous than ever. "We shouldn't have let Avril off on her own--"
        
        "I know!! But we can't regret that now!" Dean shoots back, sounding just as worried as she is. "We're almost there, I'm sure it'll be just--"
        
        WHUMP. That would be Avril, slamming down to the floor of the train car, Absolute Zero clattering away from her, her Medium still close at hand. Dean and Rebecca screech to a halt, eyes wide. Dean's jaw drops; Rebecca covers her mouth with one hand.
        
        "AVRIL!" they shout in chorus, and burst back into motion. Rebecca drops to her knees next to her friend, while Dean dives into a slide.
        
        "A-Avril, you gotta hang in there! Speak to me! Can you hear me!?" Rebecca pleads, wrapping her hands around Avril's head and shoulders, pulling her up gently.
        
        "Avril, it's gonna be okay! We're here now!" Dean shouts. "Damn it! If only we'd gotten here sooner...!" He pats himself down for restorative items--but he also looks up at the hole in the ceiling, through which rain pours and light flashes. The storm's too heavy for him to recognize anyone up there from down here, but... he thinks he might know some of those voices. No, that's not important now; he's got to make sure Avril's okay first!
        
        ...
        
        Maybe they ought to pull her out of the rain and into a dry car, first...

<Pose Tracker> Clive Winslet has posed.

His shot landed true, but it wasn't enough to stall the target. He kind of just rolls his eyes at her mockery.

"A foul tongue begets a foul mind, madam." He replies. It's far too late to actually shoot at her again, so that parting shot is all he can get out.

And what's worse, the Cascade Gang manages to get away(most of them, except for the one that got punched right off the train...) just on time...this job was a complete wash, it seems. Well, it wasn't the first time he'd had to report a failure. It still stung, but that was how it went in this business...

With a sigh, Clive returns the Gungnir to his back.

He walks over to where Gwen is currently lying bleeding on the ground, and fishes out some Heal Berries from his coat.

"Miss, are you all right? Hold on, I have some curatives..." He could at least try to stop the bleeding...

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Ida sags. Her entire right arm feels like it was shocked--like she stuck a finger into an electrical outlet, except worse. Even the sight of Kaguya being blown free of the train car does nothing for her. Leon might be dead. Avril might be dying. Ragnell stole the Arc Scepter right out from under her, to assist this--

        'And everybody tells me to find this Sorey douchebag, but I'm PRETTY SURE he doesn't exist, so fuck it you know!'

        'I swear, Kaguya! I'll get you off this rock!'

        Ida looks up as Asteroid flees, burning the image of her into her brain. Her eyes are dead. She slumps backwards, and lets herself fall through the same hole Avril did.

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

        Dean, looking up, sees someone--Ida--falling down through the hole in the ceiling. He doesn't recognize her, since she's falling backwards, but still, two things register in his head: one, Avril is in the way, and she'll be hurt first if they hand on her. Two, the person falling is hurt themselves, and they'll get hurt too if they land on bare metal. Dean thus does the only thing he can do on such short notice, which is leap to his feet, arms outstretched, to catch her.
        
        ...he may or may not go sprawling backwards, away from Avril and Rebecca, once he does, so Ida can at least land on someone healthy and uninjured, i.e. him, instead of lying on the cold hard ground.

<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

 
Margaret breathes heavily as the starry aura behind her dissipates. She looks off at nothing in particular. The meaty 'thump' of several people falling to the interior of the car, like so much ripe drifter-fruit, brings her back to things. Also, her kind of broken arm.

"What a shambles," she says. Her attention looks to Lemina. "Don't just stand there like a novice," she continues, her voice unsteady but seeming to find strength as she goes along. "This confederacy of incompetence isn't going to do anything if they let three different platoons of bandits go for whatever gussied-up antique husband replacement all of THIS was about."

Margaret whirls on her heel. "If nothing else we should push the wounded out of the r--"

And she nearly slips.

"Hngh - perhaps - the ladders, at the end of the cars, instead," Margaret says loudly, mostly to herself. After this she staggers, but it is, at least, not the first ladder she's ever had to deal with with a wounded arm.

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        Annnnd the old Janus is back, it seems. Or the new old Janus. "Well, uh, that.... sucked." Gwen glances around as Janus and his gang departs. "....Where's th'scepter?" She's still standing up, but barely able to take in the scene, her torso weaving loosely with the movements of the train.

        oh thank god it's Clive

        Gwen seems relieved as Clive supplies some Heal Berries, through she keeps glancing over his shoulder at him and Morgan, just beyond. "Where'd... everyone go?" Something in her chests seizes, and she scrambles to get up.

        Thankfully, a well-timed jostle from the train keeps her from getting up completely.

        She groans. "... Man... Frea's gonna have a field day with this..."

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Ida falls. She hits something--someone--and that someone wraps arms around her, even as they fall, too. Some distant, disconnected part of Ida's mind wonders if it's Kalve, even hopes it's Kalve. If it were him, he could take her to safety and tend to her wounds and reassure and comfort her. Naturally, it is not Kalve.

        Ida's lips move. She rolls over onto her side, looks up. "Dean?" she says. She looks like hell, and not just physically.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        WHUMP. "Owww..." Dean whines, wincing, once he lands. But then the person he caught whispers his name, and-- "Ida?" He blinks back at her. Then he sobers and nods to Rebecca, then Ida, as he carefully sets her down and then helps her to her feet. "...Let's get you two somewhere dry."
        
        seriously it's pouring and they need to get out of the rain

<Pose Tracker> Clive Winslet has posed.

"Gone. I am afraid I was unable to prevent the culprit from absconding with it." Clive replies to the question of the Scepter, kneeling down next to Gwen. She tries to get up and Clive extends a hand to try and stop her, but thankfully the train puts a stop to that.

"Stay still. You may exacerbate your injury if you move too much. As for the others...they have gone back into the train, or...departed." He explains. Been knocked off, jumped off, used strange magic to depart...it was a lot more than he had been expecting to deal with.

He glances toward Morgan, then, with a nod.

"Can I ask you to help me relocate her?"

The best thing he could do now was prevent any further casualities as a result of this mission.

<Pose Tracker> Morgan Newkirk has posed.


"Stay down lil' darlin'," Morgan's drawl is amused as the Drifter crouches near Gwen and shakes his head. "You got yourself a little bit of a hurt there. Don't worry, everyone else it alright." Ish. "Septer ain't, but we can always get that back."

There is a nod though to the question. "Yup, I can help with that. I wasn't hurt too bad in the dust up." He adds with a flash of a grin. "Comeon, we'll get ya patched up." A glance towards Gwen. "...as long as you don't hurt yourself worse in the meantime."