2018-08-31: Leviathan Wakes

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<Pose Tracker> Sin has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbLQhzsJG0A

A tidal wave has slammed into Azado.

The fires caused by the corruption upon the Azado lighthouse have been snuffed out by a wave of water, which has damaged half of the town's buildings and leveled the other half. The waters now fill many of the streets; others drain away. However, the piers leading to the harbor have shattered apart into so many fragments of wood. Boats have been dashed against the shore. The harbor, now, is the Azado seawall: a large, stone wall that holds the water at bay.

It is slick with seawater. Seaweed and even a few fish corpses, washed up by the water, dot the top of the seawall. One might think that the tidal wave's passing means that the worst has come and gone: that this is cruel, fickle nature.

One would be wrong.

Out in the harbor is a monster. It is a titanic creature: a whale-like monster, which has crested the sea to reveal its titanic fins. Two huge, spine-covered ones reach out. Its head has a mouth with a balleen, and yet no eyes peer out. The flesh of the creature is mottled, whorls of grey that look almost like runes. In a way, the air here is impossibly, shockingly clear: the low level of Malevolence found everywhere in Lunar is simply... gone.

But in another way, the air here is very not clear. Huge pieces of wood have been ripped into the air; so have stones; so has water. The harbor recedes, as it is sucked into a howling vortex above the whale-like creature, which is easy the size of a small city. The result is a network of stone paths through mud, which lead out to where the continental shelf is -- and nearly to the edge of the monster's flesh. For those brave enough to try, these provide a path to fight it.

But there is a chorus to this monster: the screams of the people and animals the buildings and ships torn apart, and pulled into the air. They swirl about, until screams end short. The vortex of death is unraveling the city -- and the monster approaches.

Without eyes, it looks upon the city: and passes its unending, rage filled judgment.

The screams fill the air. In the minds of two here, two voices join them: the panicked, shrieking sobs of the two Guardians thus far bound to Lunar. Celesdue and Duras Drum scream and then whimper in the minds of Catenna and Noeline.

DC: Sin switches forms to Sin - The Clysmian of Obsession!
GS: Sin has completed its action.
<Pose Tracker> Sin has posed.

 ==============================================================================
DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!
                                                                              
                         A DANGEROUS ENEMY APPROACHES
                                                                              
                     - SIN - THE CLYSMIAN OF OBSESSION -
                                                                              
                              PREPARE FOR BATTLE
                                                                              
      DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

    The Fereshte flies in the sky tonight.

    https://i.imgur.com/jfCDgyw.jpg

    It is a majestic sight...

    ... or at least, it would be majestic -- if it weren't also on fire, despite having just survived a tidal wave, and cobbled together from various planks of wood, metal, minerals and anything else the engineers of this rather charmingly put-together thing. The top half is styled like a dragon, half of a Hyadean carrier glued together with patches of bulkhead sheets, fins and propellers where its original components have failed. And its bottom half, affixed via mast and wires, seems to be a repurposed sailing ship that's... definitely also seen better days.

    Still, this is the Wayside way -- to take a beating and keep going... and tonight, with so many of Azado's refugees taxing its cargo hull, Riesenlied seeks to protect the people of this beleaguered, burning city from the city-sized threat that looms in the nearby oceans.

    At least she would be -- if she weren't writhing with her hands clenched to her head, as Sin crushes the galleon that dare stand in its way. As Riesenlied has found out throughout the last year, being an empath can be a wonderful thing, connecting with the emotions and sensations that other people feel...

    ... and it can be a dreadful thing too -- to hear--

    The screams of every single dying soul in the air.

    "We're... we're... w-wwee're..." Riesenlied hisses out painfully, feeling a drip of blood flow from her nose. She wipes it; she presses her fingers down on the throat microphone around her neck.

    She rises to her full height, despite the excruciating pain coursing through her body, mind and soul. She gathers herself, placing her hand upon the Dragon's Tear.

    "Our priority... is the people of Azado. We cannot allow this ship to fall. Sustain altitude and ensure that all hands are ready to open the bay doors or cast the ladders out. Send the call out to anyone still out there! We will take them in!"

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    A great vessel of another world, wounded, has been laying ill and bleeding in the forests of Lunar.

But an ill and weakened body is no match...

FOR AN IRON WILL!

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXhwXhv37Ps

TZADKIEL
PRIMARY BRIDGE

Dominia packs up the lug wrench. "This is hideous," says the tall Elruvian. "We will all be written up for our aesthetic offenses."

Behind her, wearing an earpiece headset, Kelvena sits. "I don't see anything wrong with it," she says.

Dominia snorts and rests a hand on the massive control lever. "Four hundred and ninety-eight labor hours on this stupid smelly planet and all of it is to replace our navigational computer. We'll have to worry about this later. For now, it should work. You've confirmed the standard cyclic operational mode, Kelvena?"

"Triple checked," Kelvena says. Her head turns slightly, to face towards the central seat.

The gray-haired man raises one hand, clenched into a loose fist. "Engage," says Kahran Ramses.

A chorus of confirming voices come through the bridge.

"Prepare for power reboot," Kelvena says. "Engineering, confirm situation."

TZADKIEL - ENGINEERING

"Uh... all the connectors are working and the software patch is playing nicely," says Lucky Bergenholm into the wall panel. "All the simulations work - with the positronic photon control software we should be able to get enough power out of the quantum refractor to achieve flight. I can't guarantee full maneuvering power unless one of the main reactors turns over, and they've been completely dead!"

'How's Tolone?'

Seated in a padded chair bolted to the ground, half her head open and one twin-tail sitting at a cockeyed angle, the cyborg Element raises her voice. "Quit wasting time! That energy signature's no joke."

'Anxious?' Kelvena inquires, academically.

"I'm not thrilled about this," Tolone says, "but I'd rather burn out every nanometer of micro-electronics in my body than let down the Commander!"

'System reboot in fifteen seconds. Counting down...'

TZADKIEL - EXTERNAL

The entrenched fortifications around the Gebler ship are empty now, all of the subtle electronics that could be moved brought in; everything that couldn't has been defaced and destroyed. Only the low key external lights of the ship's access points are still active. And then... They darken.

Every light within the Tzadkiel goes dark. Even the emergency lights are dead - their auxiliaries long ago re-routed into expedients. The only synthetic light within the metal tomb of another world is in the cockpits of Gears.

Somewhere a young woman sets her teeth...

And the craft begins to rise.

BGM SHIFT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fllyJTBsRU

TZADKIEL - PRIMARY BRIDGE

Dominia pulls back on the vast control cyclic, her grip helped only by the rough padding that the enormous implement of maneuvering had been swathed in. It sits on a hyper-sensitive trans-planetary micro-analog gearing system: but it also must provide direct force coupling to all the myriad micro-systems throughout the maimed machine. But though it may be the pithing rod for the ship's glittering navigational computer... it works!!

And for the first time in forever, the Tzadkiel achieves a level altitude. The lingering micro-list within the ship straightens out. There is a ragged series of spontaneous cheers from throughout, for however disciplined and cold, the troops of Gebler are human... after all.

The 1MC comes on. A synthetic voice, not Kelvena's, addresses the ship at large.

"Flight status is limited. Please be prepared for extreme maneuvers. 92% of weapons capacity offline. Force projection is limited to Gear deployment... All Gear pilots, stand by for immediate launch. Repeat: Stand by for immediate launch..."

DC: Elhaym van Houten switches forms to Vierge!
<Pose Tracker> Mihaya has posed.

 Mihaya had taken a break from working for Rolance to reassess her position, and she had come to the coast to meet a contact in order to discuss what her plans would be from this point forward. She had planned to meet them near Azado, and thus she is in horribly perfect position to see a nightmare emerge from the sea, emerging from the swells like a curse to bring havoc and destruction to the world once again.

 The sight of the monster is enough to make Mihaya stare for a moment in utter horror. The sight of the moving mountain, the destroyer of all that encountered it... and seeing it HERE of all places. That was enough to consume her with utter horror and loathing. The elf clenches her hands tightly on her staff, and hisses out through clenched teeth something utterly incomprehensible for those who can hear it: "Ykyeh. Fro sicd oui nadinh ykyeh, oui suhcdan!"

 The elf spins her staff around as she begins to walk resolutely towards the beach, her eyes flashing as she considers the massive form of the monster moving towards the town. She's seen this far too many times.

 Sin would come.

 People would die.

 It. Never. Ended.

 The Symbologist raises her voice as she shouts, trying to catch the attention of as many as possible. "This monster is almost unstoppable! It's ability to destroy is beyond what you can imagine! But if we allow it to simply go on its way, it will destroy Azado and everything else along the coastline! We need to draw it away from the city as much as possible!"

 Is it possible? Is it something that they can actually do? Given the power that the Drifters have shown, perhaps they can convince the calamity to turn away for a time. But more than likely... everyone here is going to die, with perhaps only a few tattered survivors being found in the hills of washed out to sea. But to Mihaya, it didn't matter. The fact that Sin could not be stopped had not prevented many from fighting against it none the less over the years. Because the choice was either fighting, or simply laying down and waiting to die.

 And so Mihaya runs, trying to get closer to the shore. Getting Sin's attention was difficult. Keeping it was even harder. But there was one thing that could get its attention. A power that had risen to oppose Sin time and again in the past.

 Turning, Mihaya slides her staff out until she is holding it by the very end of the haft. And then she crosses her feet, and begins... dancing. A quiet, slow turn, humming quietly under her breath to help focus her thoughts. To recall a ritual she had not used in several decades. She didn't know if it would work.

 But for the people here, she had to try.

 The temperature drops precipitously, and the elf's breath crosses her lips as vapor as it strikes the cold air. As she continues her dance, frost covers the ground at Mihaya's feet, spreading out in all directions to form a symbol of a six pointed snowflake, within several interlocking hexagonal patterns surmounted by three complex runic symbols.

 Mihaya raises her staff into the air, the twisted wire around the crystal spiraling out into the shape of a blossom as the crystal burns with a brilliant blue color. She brings the staff down to the ground, a surge of energy flowing from the seal at her feet as the Symbologist speaks.

 "Come forth my Aeon!"

 A pillar of ice erupts from the ground behind her, spiraling up into the sky to a height of about fifteen feet. Other, smaller crystals erupt from the ground around the elf, and then a flash passes over them - the image of a woman, with blue skin and even colder blue eyes. Then the central ice crystal explodes into pieces, and out the tiny specks of snow drifting to the ground steps a figure of heroic proportions. Dressed in revealing robes suggesting ice and snow, her hair bound back into several long dreadlocks spilling down her back, the Queen of Ice looks down at her summoner and nods once.

 "For those who yet live," Mihaya states quietly, and gestures with her staff.

 Shiva nods once, and lunges out towards Sin. As she moves she extends one hand, a massive blade of ice forming in one hand, a shield in the shape of a massive solid snowflake dripping with icicles forming in the other. The Aeon races forward, brining the sword around to slam into Sin's shell.

 It isn't about winning.

 It's about making the monster TURN.

DC: Mihaya switches forms to Heavenly Queen Shiva!
GS: Mihaya has attacked Sin with Icebrand!
GS: Mihaya has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mihaya has completed her action.
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Mihaya's Icebrand for 16 hit points!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mihaya has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Azado is burning and the horror of it is bad enough. But then the tide rolled in.

Pulling herself out of the wreckage of a pier, Catenna splutters, spitting out seawater and grasping for a relatively stable platform to stand on. She manages to find the edge of the seawall and pull herself up onto it. She'd been in town to make a few sales and exchanges, binding her hair up in a scarf to conceal it; the scarf, of course, was swept away, and there's nothing to hide her identity now.

Pulling herself up onto the wall, she looks out into the harbour - and as she realizes that something massive is there, she is forced to take stock of it with a dawning horror.

Not even her own horror. She widens her eyes and opens her mouth a little as a voice screams and whimpers in her heart. At precisely the same moment, the Owlet perched in her hood lets out a pinched squeak and buries its face in Catenna's collar as if to try and hide itself from the THING out there.

Catenna's cheeks pale. Clutching her Medium, she holds it to her breast, hugging both it and the Owlet. "You're frightened," she murmurs. "Even Celesdue herself...."

Lifting her eyes, she tries - in vain - to try to find the eyes of the creature even among the vortex of screams not truly her own. The horror of it rapidly drains her will to fight. She's not even sure she could call forth her Arcana against something like this - something against which even the Guardians are afraid.

She lets the Owlet down to hide in her hood again. "...Celesdue," she whispers amid the howling of all those lost. "If this is something you fear... then I must stand against it, for the sake of you and all who live here. Even if it is not of our world...." Trailing off, the Moon Shaman clutches her Medium all the tighter.

Then, with a sweep of her right hand, she draws herself up to the edge of the seawall - and she cries out a single, echoing word in Zortroan.

Catenna's Moon Arcana is much, much stronger against large things. Gravity around the enormous Clysmian begins to multiply as Catenna attempts to simply drag it back downward, in the hopes of preventing it from doing anything.

GS: Catenna has attacked Sin with Encumber!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

When things started Going Wrong for Azado, Xantia was already right there. She was called over for a chat by Rosaline the day before, and ended up spending the night in town, getting a front row seat of everything bursting into flames. She informed the Black Wolves of where she would be beforehand, so they might be a bit worried at this point... then again, they might not, since this isn't exactly anything new. If Xantia isn't already in whatever trouble is brewing in the area, she's probably running directly at it.

As such, if one were to be looking for Xantia, it's obvious where to look: at the very epicenter of the calamity. There's a big monster there. Of course she would be going to try and fight it. Whether blind to danger or just ignoring it, it's just... what she does. Unlike some people who shall remain nameless, she very much believes herself to be capable of punching out a giant whale. Or at the very least, stand a chance against it. She struggles with many complicated words, but the simple word 'impossible' might elude her most of all.

So far, her condition is... fine, really. Despite having previously dealt with many things that were on fire, she's only a little singed at the moment. Figures, she's been trying to learn how to set herself on fire, and it doesn't even happen in a situation where getting set on fire should have been particularly easy.

She might not be fine for long however, as something that huge was rather hard to miss and she started heading straight for it as soon as she noticed it. As such, she's already managed to make her way in quite close, and before anyone can even go 'Xantia no', launches a wave of force towards... a completely random part of Sin, really. She can't even tell where its everything is, and it doesn't matter to her. All that matters is, "So you're the thing behind all this! I just have to beat you, and everything will be fine!"

Yeah, she... might need a little help to even understand how in over her head she is here.

GS: Xantia has attacked Sin with Massive Shockwave!
GS: Xantia has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Xantia has completed her action.
DC: Layna Manydays switches forms to Sea Captain Manydays!
<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Rosaline is starting to, unfortunately, be getting used to towns burning around her. At least the tidal wave is new.

And worst of all, she's been separated from the others in this confusion. She looks up from the half-collapsed rooftop she's perched on, looking tired and wet, Esdras and Judith in hand, to see the colossal creature casting a shadow over this town. Her nostrils flare. She notices the lack of Malevolence, which means this isn't a Hellion, but... No, it's much, much worse.

She lets out a long-suffering sigh, wiping her brow. "I said I would do everything in my power to atone for my sins," she tells no one in particular, knowing that someone up there must still be listening. "Well, you've got a sick sense of humor."

She runs forward, leaping across the remains of the pier with all-too-grim, foolish determination. She doesn't have her Hellion powers anymore. She doesn't have a Gear. All she has is three ARMs, a handful of crests and a bad attitude.

She begins firing, under few illusions about her chances, but she at least wants to see if her ARMs' rapid-fire can even begin to pierce through that thing's hide. It may be little compared to Gears and ships and distracting giant ice women, but fighting lost causes is, in a way, her job.

GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Sin with Esdras and Judith!
GS: Rosaline Calice has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

    Duras Drum is screaming in Noeline's head.

    The sensation is utterly alien to the metal demon; while she might have had the scattered pieces of the Guardian's Medium for decades now, she's only just learnt to tap into it properly, only just allowed Duras Drum the opportunity to be more than a whisper. The spiritual trials she faced within Uzda Il-jam have attuned that power further - but also made her more open and susceptible to the sudden shattering noise, her vision whiting out for a moment as her knees give out and send her sinking to the deck of the Fereshe.

    She gasps for air she doesn't theoretically need; her hands twitch and spasm once, then grasp for the railing of the airship hard enough to make her knuckles turn white, to leave an imprint on her palm. It gets-- a little easier to cope, past the initial shock of the sensation - though the moment she opens one eye to try to take in the enormity of the creature ahead of them, she feels another searing pulse spiking through her head.

    She forces herself to keep her eye open anyway, levering herself back up to her feet as she rasps out another gasp. "--I'll-- I'll cover those below," Noeline mutters to Riesenlied, sucking in a breath as she does her best to bolster herself further; her hand itches for her scythe, all too willing to have it to hand right about now. Instead, she places it on the other Hyadean's arm, seeking some strength for herself and offering some to Riesenlied in the same action. "You can do this. We can all do this," she whispers, somehow letting the noise carry past the din around them.

    Then she's turned back to the destruction, not missing the way in which a figure near the beach somehow manages to summon-- a Guardian? No-- whatever it is, her instinct is telling her it's something different, but there's no time to dwell on it right now, and instead she sucks in a breath as she too hits her microphone. "--keep us in the air as long as you can! Get the ladders down! Watch for flying debris!" she blurts to the crew as a whole, supplementing Riesenlied's conviction with her own encouragement--

    --not to mention stalling for just a few moments, before she sucks in a breath and simply vaults over the side of the Fereshte, taking the fastest route down to ground.

GS: Noeline has spent 1 Combo on Reload, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Noeline has attacked Riesenlied with When I'm With You...!
GS: Noeline has gained 3 Combo!
GS: Noeline has completed her action.
GS: Riesenlied takes a solid hit from Noeline's When I'm With You... for 0 hit points!
GS: Reload! Riesenlied gains 15 extra FP from Noeline!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Noeline with ...I am not Afraid...!
GS: Riesenlied has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Riesenlied has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Catenna's Encumber for 0 hit points!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Catenna has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Riesenlied heals Noeline! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Reload! Noeline gains 15 extra FP from Riesenlied!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    The Seraph Lanval, declared the Fallen Seraph direct by decree of Dragonmaster Ghaleon himself, is already here at big personal risk due to a variety of strange circumstances that have dictated that maybe, just maybe, being in Azado to conduct some important business on behalf of the Mysterious Benefactor is ironically the safest way to do it while some are on high alert for those heretics that struck at the Red Priestess herself by the nearby countryside. A bold plan, but one that seems to work.
     When the fires broke out, Lanval didn't think twice about manifesting to try and put them out through the generous use of Seraphic Artes - if only to try and protect himself and those he came with. This might have called some attention.
     Something else calls even more attention, as disaster strikes and seawater wrecks the place. As a Seraph of the element of water, Lanval intristically knows that there's something very, very, very wrong in the air. He moves with much more smoothness in his step than he usually manages, happening along the seawall -
     He is swept back by the splash. He gets swept right back as the water comes to rest in its new environs, squeezing himself along through cracks of collapse in ways that would bend the mind if he were a truly physical presence.
     He catches up a ways behind Rosaline, eyes already open but missing the bright aquamarine shine of power. In truth, he is overwhelmed by the sheer scope of what he's seeing, unfamiliar shapes flitting around everywhere - some rising from the forests, and there's the giant creature ahead that... not once in his five hundred years would he know what, exactly, he's looking at.
     It's terrifying.
     "...By the Goddessh," is all Lanval manages as he falls to his seat.

GS: Seraph Lanval has attacked Sin with Gawk!
GS: Seraph Lanval has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Aboard the Fereshte, Matilda focuses on putting out fires; while it's true that you can't control something by reacting to it -- something she's said multiple times since coming to Lunar -- there are some things you have to react to.

Like fire.

She has a few members of Oasis with her -- mostly Filgaians; they took some injuries during Hyland's retreat, and Matilda, as the most accomplished doctor in her little band of mercenaries, decided it'd be wisest to keep them close. (Most of Oasis, of course, is with Kaguya, where she may happen to be.)

When Sin approaches, though... even if she doesn't have the capacity to recognize it in the same way Riesenlied and the other Guardianists seem to, she knows a threat when she sees it.

"... I'm -- going to try to support Miss Carver," Matilda says to her tiny handful of troops, as Noeline calls to everyone. She moves to where Noeline jumped off -- and draws Freischütz. It's already loaded with rock -- which is, frankly, the best idea Matilda's got right now, to just... fire at the thing. Either it works, which is great, or it doesn't work at all, which is expected.

GS: Matilda Whitehead has attacked Sin with Gravel Bullet!
GS: Matilda Whitehead has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Matilda Whitehead has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Mercedes Hartley has posed.

Mercedes Hartley was not at the lighthouse. She doesn't know the details of the events that took place there, besides the obvious.

She would have to be blind and deaf to not get involved with Sin. Because whatever else is true, Mercedes Hartley considers herself a good person, and what kind of good person would leave others to die without at least trying to help?

Despite the danger and the risk, Mercedes is standing on the harbor even as wood pulls itself up from under her. She hops backwards from board to board as more and more is pulled up around her, discrete chunks lifting into the air and flying up into that - mess, that vortex. Mercedes doesn't know what to call it. Looking at it makes her uncomfortable. Thinking about it makes it worse. If it falls -

Well, it can't be any worse than if the whale thing falls.

Mercedes is holding a pistol, a strange revolver of some sort, bizarre in construction if anyone gets close enough to get a good look at it. More notable is the fact that it is firing lightning bolts with a loud thunderclap accompanying every shot and a corona of scattering sparks around Mercedes. They don't seem to be bothering her, and they fade away before causing problems - which it could easily do, given all the water and wet around.

Mercedes is under no false impressions. She knows she can't beat something that size. She's mostly hoping that lightning stings enough that it decides to go somewhere else, and from what she sees around her, other people have the same idea. But she's one of the closest... and she's not entirely sure she likes that.

"Poop," she mutters, under her breath. She spent the first few moments staring up in shock. She's past that point now.

GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Xantia's Massive Shockwave for 11 hit points!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Xantia has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Mercedes Hartley has attacked Sin with Electron Projector!
GS: Mercedes Hartley has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Where was Fei during all this? Good question, friends!!

It turns out that Fei had arrived at Azado to help the Fiends secure passage to Pentalugia and Althena just in time for the town to be set ablaze! He charged up the lighthouse with his friends and helped fight off a large phoenix like creature which they promptly destroyed. And then, well...

And then the giant whale showed up and casually knocked the lighthouse they were in over. Fei, seized by a terror that consumed his whole self, leapt from the tower to protect Ruby and was buried under the rubble for some time.

At least until Ida helped drag the two of them out from underneath it all.

Fei doesn't hear the screams of the Guardians, not directly, but part of him feels the screams all the same pounding directly into his bones, a kind of dull ache as if in a theater, watching someone else get chopped up by the axe murderer.

He feels the screams, terror, and death all around him. He has been reassured, and papped about as much as anyone can reasonably expect, but it's worse than the malevolence. The malevolence was ambient. This is distressingly fresh. It reminds him of Adelhyde, but Adelhyde had hope.

Does Azado have any?

He grabs at his head suddenly, sinking to one foot. "St...stop it..." He demands, as if of the Clysmian, but he doesn't quite manage it. For al ong time he doesn't even move, crouching underneath there. What is he going to do? Punch the giant whale? That's obviously not going to work.

And Weltall, which had soared through the Filgaian sky in an attempt to make it to Lunar, to lend actual help? It didn't have the fuel. It fell back to Filgaia before it even broke the atmosphere.

A boy covered in blood wonders if the cycle of reincarnation, the broken chains of causality, whether they'll have any meaning against this kind of creature, in this kind of place.

Someone summons something called an Aeon. Fei doesn't even notice it. Instead, he sees Xantia going after Sin--

We have to run

We have to help.

We can't DO anything

Not again.

This isn't like Adelhyde.

Fei closes his eyes, thinking of Cecilia and the father she had lost, a father he is almost certain he could have saved if ONLY HE WAS THERE. If only he used his power. If only he used Weltall and wasn't stubbornly refusing to. If only, if only, if only.

But not again. The boy covered in blood screams at him to stop, to leave, to find Elly and save her. That's all he needs to save, it's all he needs--

But Xantia ran for Sin. Fei sees that if he launches a chi blast, Sin might go for him instead of Xantia after what she does. He exhales faintly, swings back his hands, and unleashes a blue wave of energy for Sin, hoping to hit it before Xantia reaches it so it focuses its attention on him.

MEANWHILE

Hammer and Amber stand on the Fereshte.

Hammer is asked to help evacuate people, but he's frozen. Amber rushes towards him and grabs him. "Come on! We have to evacuate!!"

"B..buh...buh...." Hammer manages, frozen.

"HAMMER!"

"W..we can't!" Hammer cries. "This is too much!" He starts spinning the wheel rapidly, intending to leave Azado as quickly as possible. Hammer isn't disloyal, he just doesn't have your kind of madness. "It's already here...the...there's no time..."

Amber slaps Hammer in the face, but he's unphased.

"I'm sorry, but...but this is too much. Not even bro, not even the champ could do anything about this...!"

And somewhere behind the floodgates, someone hears Riesenlied in their heart, their mind.

'Mom?', Lydia thinks.

<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

Lily Keil has made her choice. Standing on the Feresthe's deck, looking out to the monstrous titan before them, she already knows what she has to do. She does not know the creature's name; she does not know the scope of its power, save that it is capable of this.

...But she cannot do nothing. There is the city; there are people in it who she must save. There is one, not on the ship. So, still dressed in military clothes, without even her typical armor, Lily turns, looks to Riesenlied. "Riesenlied--" The blood from her nose; her plan...

"I'll try to draw its attention," Lily says to her mirror, the demon who could be her sister. "...If I don't come back..."

"I'm glad to have known you. Take care of Leon for me."

Without further agrument--without listening to protests--Lily removes her gloves. Then, she reaches into her jacket, opens it just enough to pull an ARM from its holster, a large revolver in black with red trim, obviously not of modern make. She sets her golden eyes forward. Immediately she takes off at a dead sprint, straight across the deck, straight past the prow of the ship--

And leaps, black hair sailing behind her like a flag in the too-clear air. In free fall she hangs for an instant--

Light erupts at her hands, at her throat, from the markings on her skin, and flames erupt behind her; at her feet, at her shoulders, flames propel her forward. There are the words of someone, below, who recognizes this creature; Lily does not stop for them. She does not stop for the woman of ice.

She sails through the air, but she is not free. As she begins to fall, she reaches out--
        Lily's free hand extends, and the flames disappear, leaving her in free fall. The markings turn blue as Ether gathers about her, turning the air in her vicinity so cold that frost collects on her hair. She throws out her hand--

The pain, the terror of those in the air assails her mind. She ignores it.

A blast of ice erupts before the creature's head, a point of cold erupting into blades of frost, seeking to render flesh brittle.

It is barely visible against the creature's sheer bulk, even with the power poured into it.

<Pose Tracker> Skylr Paer has posed.

      Azado. Lunar. Home.

      The time spent on Filgaia had long been impressed in Skylr Paers' mind, and she is happy to be home on the continent she understands, near the people she loves. But that edge of worry nag her; calamity still awaits, and it had come to her hometown. It had come by fire to the lighthouse, and now, with water. Two of the many forces she herself has little understanding of; two of those that, until now, have always been kind.

      The world is not a kind place, Skylr Paer.

      Hearing the screams of those around her, Skylr charges down the torn streets, headless of whom she might pass on the way, braid flying behind her. There is no time to help one, now: If they don't take this thing down, she fears there won't even be one person to save. "Althena, why." She breathes out her nose, anxiety threaded through the tremble of the whisper of her goddesses' name. "We're so close to you; why is this here? What did we do to fail you?"

      She doesn't need to get closer; she just needs to be higher up. Vantage points boost her abilities; plus it'll be easier to keep an eye out for anyone she does know... locally, or Guards-wise. Planting herself firmly, she pulls bow and arrow off of her back, and strings an arrow to it; she raises the bow and exhales. She exhales, and fires a single shot towards the whale-creature.

      Azado burns, and Skylr's soul burns with it.

GS: Lily Keil has attacked Sin with Ether Impact!
GS: Lily Keil has completed her action.
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Rosaline Calice's Esdras and Judith for 8 hit points!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Rosaline Calice has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

At some point, Layna and her friends made their way through the burning wreckage of Azado, disappearing into the sewers to wait things out. That was then, before the thing which Layna had no words for appeared in Azado's harbor. Were there any words that could be said for it?

Except 'oh Goddess, why!?'

Layna might be screaming that in her head, but outwardly she's the picture of the confidence.

"...You heard the lass, we gotta distract it away from the city. I'm headed out." And with that, Layna recited an incantation and darted off, her body coated in a green aura.

She catches up along with Lanval with Rosaline shortly, sending her friend a wink.

"Looks like you got caught up in this too, aye?" She says, then recites a quick incantation. Several shockwaves of wind launch off toward the Clysmian, stirred up winds that, in her current state, will help her move much faster.

But against a being like this, will it do anything at all...?

Layna grits her teeth, biting back the insecurity.

GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked Sin with Guided Shot!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
GS: Layna Manydays has attacked Sin with Swift Zephyr!
GS: Layna Manydays has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Layna Manydays has completed her action.
GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Sin with Simple Shot!
GS: Skylr Paer has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

Elly had come back to the Tzadkiel in the same way that people return to liquor or to drugs or to a bad romance. She is feeling that analogy rather acutely. She knows, even if they remain on Lunar, that at some point she will never come back; she has, despite her words to Tabitha deVriese, no real hope of persuading anyone in there to join her in her fumbling new path towards... what? Atonement? A better way? She doesn't know completely herself.

And now she has several new sources of stress.

One is her involuntary co-pilot, whose hair care fragrance is filling the air with an undue level of reminder of her presence. The other is...

Is...

Elly shakes her head as the familiar screens of Vierge, taped-together in some places but functional, show her the readouts of this impossible THING in the distance. "... Something that large... it would be the apex predator of this entire planet. How is this even possible..." The Fereshte, meanwhile, moves out from 'behind' Sin relative to the Vierge.

Elly's back stiffens.

"... I'll probe its Ether defenses," Elly reports in. Quietly, she says off-mic, "I'll warn you if I engage the AERODs. You probably want to... to avoid the feedback, if..." Elly trails off then, takes a deep breath, and -

Nothing visibly happens outside.

Except for the bolt of lightning out of the clear blue sky towards the massive, impossible bulk of the creature! It is forked heavily - its purpose is to reveal patterns. Capacities.

GS: Elhaym van Houten has attacked Sin with Anemo Bolt!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Elvis has posed.

"How are we supposed to get out of here?! I just wanna GET OUT!"

A large individual has been trapsing the sewers for the past few minutes doing naught but complaining. It wasn't helping anyone feel better either. There was dripping and leaks all over from immense water pressure grasping its way into the sewer areas. "I JUST WANT TO GET-- huh."

The man silences. He senses the sudden change in pressure, the exodus of the drips and waterflows from the myriad cracks in the system. THe water is suddenly... gone. Elvis stands, and makes his way to the bulkhead. A guard attempts to intercept him and keep him from doing so. The man gets his head held like a potato in the Sentinal's massive hand as he opens the door up, then lets go.

A small rush of water comes in, about ankle height. "Knew it. See, we are fine, everything is... oh." The man of SCIENCE knew somethign was amiss when a feeling of pressure and a vacuum touched him. Something was pulling the water away, and that building and OH GOD WHAT THE HECK IS THAT. "I don't like this planet any more!" he says, pointing the... does something on a titanic scale qualify as a creature any more?! "I must... get a sample..." he says, squinting toward the creature. Others were engaging it, perhaps this was a chance to do so. If he avoids whatever is suckign everything up like some kind of monstrous straw.

The man known as THE PROFESSOR closes distance as much as he can, hoping from building to porch to wall segment, trying to get close to study this strange new being!

Upon closing the gap enough, he decides to call on the POWER OF EARTH to see if he can't dislodge something off that hulking creature, using piercing shards of rock!

DC: Elvis switches forms to THE PROFESSOR!
GS: Elvis has attacked Sin with Hi-Crush!
GS: Elvis has completed his action.
GS: Sin guards a hit from Seraph Lanval's Gawk for 0 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    The Temple of Althena weathered the twin natural hazards of fire and flood as well as could be expected. It's become a fallback point for Althena's Guard. White Knight Leo stands at the edge of a second-story window, bellowing orders to a mage surrounded by a cyclone of whirling winds. "Make haste! When you reach the city, take to the sea and fire the main cannon!" Five minutes. The Destiny will be here in five minutes, assuming everything goes as planned. That's already five minutes too long. "...What manner of creatures? Do not allow them to impede you! This monster trespasses on holy ground! We are Althena's will! It is our--"

    'This monster is almost unstoppable! Its ability to destroy is beyond what you can imagine!'

    Leo grits his teeth. "Get to safety," he says to the wind-mage who has been relaying his orders to the Destiny on the breeze. "Gather as many innocents as you can!" White Knight Leo is soaked to the bone, exhausted, and injured from the fight with the Flame Phoenix. He's too tired to even be overconfident--how could he be, in the face of what that monster did in its opening act?--but he is not too tired to defend the innocent. He casts a glance up to the ragged form of the Fereshte in the skies above, and hopes they can help him pull off a miracle.

    And then, something else appears in the face of the monster. Shiva is tiny in comparison, but the display is unmissable nevertheless. Is that a Guardian? Leo thinks. It doesn't look like those heathen effigies he saw on Filgaia. Perhaps it's his pride overcompensating in the face of his fear. Perhaps it's legitimate, selfless concern for the people still trapped in this burning city. Perhaps he won't allow himself to be shown up by these offworlders and their heathen powers. Perhaps it's because he's the White Knight, and this is what the Goddess Herself told him to do.

    It's all of them.

    The net result is that Leo strides down Azado's ruined main street, raises his voice, and addresses the force of nature as though it could hear him. HEATHEN MONSTROSITY," Leo bellows. He seems to have appointed himself 'raid tank'. "YOU FACE ONE OF ALTHENA'S CHOSEN!" One of Althena's Chosen, protecting another, who is still hurt. Goddess, Mauri, please stay safe, wherever you are. Leo drives a hand forwards, Althena's Blessing flowing through him. The breakers beneath Sin respond to the White Knight's will, rising up from below, sharpening into stone spears the size of small trees. Leo can't hear Skylr's desperate plea, or her questions. If he could, he would only hope that his example is enough to restore her flagging resolve.

GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Sin with Rock Viper!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Camp had been abandoned quickly. To be sure, they had been in the process of dismantling it for weeks, but to say a certain young medical officer had anticipated the speed or urgency of their course of direction would be false.

    Everyone who had a functional Gear -- which is to say, had a Gear at all -- had been shuffled one way; the specifics of the situation were apparently unknown outside investigation and probable engagement with something or somethings leveling an unusually large energy signal.

    In any case, the situation is moot. Outside the systems of the repaired Schiehallion, lit with a low level green in the dark, he can't see anything here in the hangar. Communications are cut off; he could chat with another pilot if he wanted, but why would he? So he just sits here in silence in the semi-darkness, leaned as far back in his seat as his body will go. Waiting. His heart's pounding. What's going to happen now? Does Command already know?
    Will the Tzadkiel be able to fly?

    It does. Loren doesn't even need confirmation from now-restored communications. Between Schiehallion's sensory equipment and his own body, he knows they're flying against the odds. He exhales a breath, or at least part of one.

    92% of weapons off-line. That means that if whatever they're up against is sizeable or powerful enough, it's up to them to defend the ship with their lives--
    He steels himself for imminent launch.

    For an instant, there is that fleeting sense of freedom, high above the world as Schiehallion rolls into a dive with the rest of his assigned squad, and.
    And. And then, he sees it, squat in the harbor, amidst a void in what should be the natural Malevolence of Lunar, the sort of thing that sticks out like a missing tooth for its sudden absense.

    He stares at it. The readings, caught in a sidelong glance as he dares to look away and at a monitor screen, are hardly encouraging.

    "What..."

    The syllables pour almost unconsciously from his lips, dying away into silence as any further word tries to encompass what he's seeing and fails to live up to the job.

    He sits up straight, readjusting his shaking, suddenly sweaty hands on the controls.

    "This... this is Voss. Support incoming. Watch yourself, van Houten. We don't know what that is."

    And he focuses his will into the ether amplication circuitry of the Gear, bolstering then annointing Vierge with that purified stream of shimmering light.

GS: Loren Voss has attacked Elhaym van Houten with Haste Element!
GS: Loren Voss has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Loren Voss has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Loren Voss has completed his action.
GS: Elhaym van Houten takes a solid hit from Loren Voss's Haste Element for 0 hit points!
GS: Quick! Statuses applied to Elhaym van Houten!
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Matilda Whitehead's Gravel Bullet for 15 hit points!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Matilda Whitehead has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Sin guards a hit from Mercedes Hartley's Electron Projector for 50 hit points!
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Fei Fong Wong's Guided Shot for 7 hit points!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Chime Isa has posed.

    Jingla jangle jingle goes the sounds of metal, tools, and assorted items as a pint sized red-haired female moves at a decent pace through the city. Chime had planned to simply camp the night outside the city rather than risk moving during the night on her trip to the port called Azado, but it's flames in the night had been more than visible so why not see who needed help! The wall of water that had thankfully been only a small wall by the time she reached it or it reached her didn't cause to much problems. The lithe elf moves throw the city, stopping only long enough to help random citizens she comes across offering them hopeful words and a bright smile while directing them the way she came into the city.

    As Chime comes closer to the beach, she slows down to get a better view of the scene, tilting her head curiously at the massive creature in the harbor, and then the slew of attacks upon it. "Well, I guess that probably explains a great deal~" she says in a singsong voice full of cheer. She scans the beach, and then cheerfully in her four and half foot tall stature and bright smile draws both of the handheld crossbows and starts in at a full sprint down the beach and jumping onto the flying debris making her to a more effective range as she fires bolt after bolt from her crossbow. Her movements on the debris through don't move her closer on a straight path but detouring as she moves for any terrified civilians she sees among the floating debris.

DC: Chime Isa switches forms to ARMs Meister Chime!
GS: Layna Manydays has canceled their attack on Sin.
GS: Layna Manydays has attacked Sin with Swift Zephyr!
GS: Layna Manydays has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Layna Manydays has completed her action.
GS: Chime Isa has attacked Sin with Covering Fire!
GS: Chime Isa has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Tabitha deVriese has posed.

Elly's involuntary copilot is expressing great personal interest in all the little cockpit doohickeys which is always just, really good for an untrained cockpit hanger-on to be doing. "Wow, so much stuff," Tabitha chimes....but then her eyes cut up toward the beast, and a chill cuts through her. Even here, she can feel... "...I can feel something," she mutters. "I'm not supposed to be feel it with the Shackle on!"

She grips hard on the grip bar for passengers. "I...got an idea. I'll try not to interfere. But I think this will help you keep your course."

She brings that asymmetrical arm brace close, and whispers to it. In Solarian.

    "The woman said to the Lord, 'What should we do with monsters and beasts?'"

A few seconds pass before it beeps back, a computerized, automatic voice chipping out:
    "The LORD said to the woman, 'Cast them to the stones, and cast the stones and the rivers too on to them, so that they suffer and are no more.'"

The sense of Ether in the cockpit flares once, a sudden surge of power, and Vierge's handling does....something. Like the weight of the whole object suddenly changed, shifting bit by bit to be more easily controlled. Tabitha sits in the back, gritting her teeth as a countdown timer flashes on her bracer.

GS: Sin guards a hit from Lily Keil's Ether Impact for 13 hit points!
GS: Break! Statuses applied to Sin!
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Skylr Paer's Simple Shot for 9 hit points!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Skylr Paer has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Layna Manydays's Swift Zephyr for 13 hit points!
GS: Riposte! Statuses applied to Layna Manydays!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Layna Manydays has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Elhaym van Houten's Anemo Bolt for 22 hit points!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    Gwen, in spite of everything that's just happened in the past hour or so, is still alive. And, she's there, beside White Knight Leo, despite her mind screaming at her that it would be better to, perhaps, move out and see what she can do on her own.

    There's a good reason why she's not. Much like many here, she's definitely seen better days. Parts of her clothing are burnt and torn, the skin underneath beginning to show the consequences of battling the hellion in the lighthouse. At least there's no faster way to become uncomfortably accustomed to your various fears and trauma than to have everything literally explode on you. The courier's too numb to do much beyond assess the enormity of the beast/thing/Guardian/Fell Dragonwhale/demon/?????

    It's a demon whale, her mind decides, putting it all in context Gwen's blunted mental capacities can handle. She doesn't know where everybody else fell, especially the other Fiends, and her injuries, while not enough that she can't keep up with Leo, really make it unwise to go look for them.

    Because there's a _Demon Whale_ here.

    "What is that...?" Gwen says, spotting the Aeon, admittedly tiny, against the mighty beast.

    When Leo raises his voice, Gwen jumps, nearly toppling over from the sudden noise from her direction. Rubbing her ear, the courier wonders: just how much pain are they going to be receiving if Leo *did* manage to get their attention?

    "What the lady said makes sense. Unstoppable or not, if we can at least delay them, the more people'll get outta here." It's worth a shot.

    ... Like the one Gwen fires from her ARM, now fully exposed, the glove at the end hanging on for dear life. "I'll follow your lead, either way." Everybody else will be okay... right?

     Please, let them be okay.

GS: Gwen Whitlock has attacked Sin with Crackshot!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has completed her action.
GS: Sin guards a hit from Elvis's Hi-Crush for 42 hit points!
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Rock Viper for 12 hit points!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Chime Isa's Covering Fire for 1 hit points!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Chime Isa has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Gwen Whitlock's Crackshot for 5 hit points!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Sin has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbLQhzsJG0A

One might expect Sin to not even notice those rushing to contest it. That, however, is not the way that monster operates. It is vengeful; it seeks to punish. It is as though it sees and notices everyone here. When a creature has no eyes, it may look at everyone -- and it looks at all of them in turn. Its presence is a dire thing, though whether spiritual or by virtue of terrible size, none could say for certain.

Mihaya calls out, striding out and summoning her Aeon. Sin does not even pay it a second thought. It slams a brutal, massive fin down and tries to smash Shiva into bits in but a moment. Its curiosity is picqued, though, when gravity magic is turned against it. Gravity begins to multiply around it. Then, its mouth opens. A shuddering groan can be sensed -- and a shockwave of gravitational energy of Sin's own blasts through Catenna's.

It comes roaring at her -- and Celesdue's voice, quaking, echoes in her mind: "It is supposed to be dead!--"

Noeline can hear that voice, too -- and then everyone can, as a Guardian's panicked cry pieces the minds of all those here.

Xantia rushes in, darting across the dried out harbor. The shockwave slams into the huge, armored hide of the Clysmian... and rolls off it, with naught more than a scratch. The same is true of Rosaline's shots; sparks fly, as if her ARMs blasted into the sturdiest steel. The gravitational shockwave rips through Xantia and Rosaline, too.

A second Guardian joins Celesdue. Duras Drum lacks his usual attitude; he speaks with a panicked voice, a voice barely kept from screaming. "We were assured! They told us that these would never come to pass...!"

Which is when that gravity is shaped, formed, and sent /slamming over the whole of the battlefield. It rams into Noeline, and threatens to bowl over the gawking Lanval. A rock soars over the wave; as Matilda jumps, her weapon's shot slams into the side of it. It seems to dislodge something -- a huge scale, which then skitters to the side. The back of the huge monster, it seems, crawls with things.

And its attention diverts. Matilda can feel the pressure of its eyeless gaze -- as the air under her, as she leaps, superheats. Then, a massive explosion of flame rips through the air. Contrails of fire rain downward, pouring onto the ground itself.

One of those contrails is blasted apart, as Mercedes's strange pistol strikes home. Lightning explodes across the hull of it, and those skittering creatures are sent flying. This, however, directs Sin's attention upon her. Like Matilda, she can feel it. The hairs on her arms stand on end; the air, for a moment, tastes of ozone.

Then, a blast of lightning explodes out from a point. Arcs of it scar and scratch the harbor. More of it hurtles for Miss Hartley.

Fei's ki blast rams into the side of Sin, rattling the armored hide. Its attention does not divert from Xantia. It regards all of them, in a moment; Fei can feel it, then. A sense of something wrong -- and yet, there are no memories. There are no explanations.

The ground itself groans, as it swings up its huge left fin. Water pours off it in rivulets, like waterfalls, and then it slams it down into the harbor. It sends a rolling shockwave through the harbor. Stones jump; boulders twist. Fei finds the ground itself lurches under foot. When Lily lands, she finds her footing less than sure: as that same landing sends a chunk of stone into the air.

And, yet, Ether-made ice slams down into its head and shatters -- but frost gathers, cracking into the stone-like hide. It is not, it seems, utterly impervious.

Skylr's arrow shatters off it. She is treated to the sensation of her arrow exploding, metal and wood alike blasting into fragments against its hide. Then, she feels its eyeless gaze -- and a spike of ice explodes upward under her feet. Layna's wind buffets it, rolling between twisting Sinscales upon Sin's back. The creature turns its head up, and opens its mouth. There is an eerie crooning, deafening.

Then, the vortex above it shifts. Layna finds a chunk of a galleon's mast flying down to slam into her.

A piece of rock pierces the very ground near Sin -- and then Elvis's spell shatters, chunks of stone flying out each way. Which is when the iron grating that used to be on a ship's hold slams down for him -- and through the wall that he stood on.

White Knight Leo rushes into that Maelstrom. Undaunted, he tears through their ranks. The breakers under Sin burst upward -- and then slam downward, as rock shatters again a too strong hide. A scream splits the air a moment later: "AaaaAAAAAH!"

One of the Guardsmen caught in the vortex swings down. He slams into the ground, headfirst; there is a liquid burst of red, and then the corpse whips at the White Knight like a missile.

Chime leaps into that flying debris. She jumps off a table that swings in -- and looses two bolts from her crossbows. Like Skylr's arrows, they shatter apart -- before the chair that goes with that desk slams bodily for Chime.

Gwen's shot rings out. It slams into the side of the Clysmian; it bounces off the stone, easily, with a few sparks. Then, a boulder comes crashing down for her.

It has not ignored the presence of larger things. Vierge's blast of light slams into it, lightning dancing and shuddering over the body of the creature, and yet never piercing it. Then, Elly can feel its terrible attention. Which is when the raging, howling vortex expands. She sees, first, a chunk of the lighthouse fly at her. It twists, end over end, as it flies right for Vierge -- and tries to bat it from the sky.

Another piece of stone, this one from the harbor, whips towards the side of Loren's Gear. Schiehallion finds it rocketing towards his side, whistling.

And then one screams across the battlefield. It leaves Sin's control, and arches up: the prow of a ship, with a few pieces of the bow attached. On the deck of the Fereshte, Leon Albus turns his head -- his jaw still open, his mind working. "That ship is... coming right..."

He turns, and screams: "RIESENLIED! HAMMER! MOVE!"

The Tzadkiel is in no better shape. A few hundred tons of water swirl through the air. The vortex whips them out -- like a titanic, midair tidal wave that hurtles off through the sky and towards the misplaced Solarian battleship. It sends a wave of water droplets down onto the ground.

GS: Sin has spent 3 Combo on Headshot, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Sin has attacked Mihaya with Fin Bash!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has attacked Catenna with Graviga!
GS: Sin has attacked Xantia with Graviga!
GS: Sin has attacked Rosaline Calice with Graviga!
GS: Sin has attacked Noeline with Graviga!
GS: Sin has attacked Seraph Lanval with Graviga!
GS: Sin has attacked Matilda Whitehead with Firaja!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has spent 1 Combo on Poison, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Sin has attacked Mercedes Hartley with Thundaja!
GS: Sin has attacked Fei Fong Wong with Fin Strike!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has attacked Lily Keil with Fin Strike!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has attacked Skylr Paer with Blizzaja!
GS: Sin has attacked Riesenlied with Raging Vortex!
GS: Sin has attacked Layna Manydays with Raging Vortex!
GS: Sin has attacked Elhaym van Houten with Raging Vortex!
GS: Sin has attacked Elvis with Raging Vortex!
GS: Sin has attacked White Knight Leo with Raging Vortex!
GS: Sin has attacked Loren Voss with Raging Vortex!
GS: Sin has attacked Chime Isa with Raging Vortex!
GS: Sin has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Raging Vortex!
GS: Sin has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Sin has completed its action.
DC: 1 turn has elapsed in the battle against Sin! 4 turns remain!
GS: Riesenlied takes a glancing hit from Sin's Raging Vortex for 123 hit points!
GS: Cover! Statuses applied to Sin!
GS: Catenna takes a glancing hit from Sin's Graviga for 175 hit points!
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a solid hit from Sin's Graviga for 200 hit points!
GS: Elvis guards a hit from Sin's Raging Vortex for 139 hit points!
GS: Cover! Statuses applied to Sin!
GS: Mercedes Hartley takes a solid hit from Sin's Thundaja for 255 hit points!
GS: Toxin! Statuses applied to Mercedes Hartley!
GS: CRITICAL! Mihaya takes a glancing hit from Sin's Fin Bash for 194 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! Statuses applied to Mihaya!
GS: Fei Fong Wong critically Guards a hit from Sin's Fin Strike for 46 hit points!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Lanval has activated a Force Action!
GS: Seraph Lanval takes a glancing hit from Sin's Graviga for 175 hit points!
GS: Layna Manydays has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has lost 1 Combo!
DC: MISS! Layna Manydays completely evades Raging Vortex from Sin!
GS: Chime Isa takes a solid hit from Sin's Raging Vortex for 252 hit points!
GS: Cover! Statuses applied to Sin!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Sin's Raging Vortex for 147 hit points!
GS: Cover! Statuses applied to Sin!
GS: Noeline takes a glancing hit from Sin's Graviga for 175 hit points!
GS: Loren Voss critically Guards a hit from Sin's Raging Vortex for 96 hit points!
GS: Cover! Statuses applied to Sin!
GS: Loren Voss has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Lily Keil guards a hit from Sin's Fin Strike for 138 hit points!
GS: Xantia guards a hit from Sin's Graviga for 150 hit points!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has lost 1 Combo!
DC: MISS! Elhaym van Houten completely evades Raging Vortex from Sin!
GS: Skylr Paer guards a hit from Sin's Blizzaja for 151 hit points!
GS: Slow! Statuses applied to Skylr Paer!
GS: Matilda Whitehead takes a solid hit from Sin's Firaja for 258 hit points!
GS: Break! Statuses applied to Matilda Whitehead!
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

    Hammer is frozen in place, and Amber is encouraging her. The wheel starts to twist as she exclaims, "H-Hammer!" she hurries towards the wheel to keep it upright -- it's all she can do to keep the ship from kipping unabashedly to one side. She gently coaxes him from the wheel, reassuring him the whole way. Nodding to Amber, she says, "It's all right. Get belowdeck and take refuge with the others, Hammer," with no judgement in her voice. "We'll be out of here soon enough."

    Then Noeline says she'll jump off...

    "A-all right," Riesenlied speaks nervously as she looks towards Noeline and her hand. There's a soft twitch and expresses, "Be careful of any incoming waves. Do not risk your position -- pull up when you need to," as she watches her leap down towards the ground, then to Matilda as she says she'll assist her.

    Some part of her dreads staying onboard when everyone else is leaping off, yet--

    --yet her eyes widen still as she spots a Gebler battleship in the distance. There's Schiehellion, and that pink Gear that summoned those remote weapons that were... like her Pinions, but much larger and devastating than she'd ever known. She can't... her breath hitches as she whispers, "Not now... no--" she pauses, before shaking her head. "It's not here for us. It would be foolish to..."

    Foolishness has not stopped the world from taking on Wayside as its primary target in the past.

    She can sense the Guardians about -- there is Catenna, summoning the prowess of Celesdue against Sin, but would it be enough? And she can hear Duras Drum, however faint it may be, yet... there is another here, that heavenly queen she's not familiar with. What is it...?

    ...

    Lily speaks grimly, and it's all Riesenlied can do to protest-- "Do not be foolish," she speaks with more steel in her than usual. "Try, but do not do anything pointless. Leon and Dog's counting on you to return."

    She hears Leo yelling, and can't help but applaud his courage at a time like this... she can only hope the Destiny is incoming soon, but even it won't be enough. Will the Dragonmaster come? Will--

    She can't think of things like this right now. No use thinking of who might and might not come.

    Her expression falters for a moment when she hears -- no, senses Sin gazing upon it. She wasn't expecting it to have such a personal presence, not in the slightest, and...

    She can hear the voices coming from each and every one of the Guardians. "It is dead... it would-- never come to pass? I-- what..." whispers Riesenlied, dazed at the conversation between the Guardians. Her eyes widen further as water starts to rise once more, grimacing as her expression falls when Leon calls for them--

    "Everyone hold onto something!"

    --and she yanks upon that wheel when the stones slam across the prow of the Fereshte and send it spinning. She's struggling to keep hold of the ship with the massive forces acting upon it, straining as she feels the wheel about to tear her arms up in its spin.

    Cascades of motes start to emanate as Riesenlied's warmth starts to gleam and reflect upon the ship itself--

    "I will protect you all... I will!"

    --and gleaming panes of light start to erupt around the shell of the Fereshte, as she overextends once more all for the sake of the evacuees residing in the cargo hold of the ship.

GS: Riesenlied has attacked Riesenlied with Border of Souls!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
GS: Riesenlied heals Riesenlied! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Mihaya has posed.

 It's not surprising to see Sin deflect the attack that easily. Mihaya has seen it before, often at a distance... occasionally this close. In all her life, Sin has appeared too many times for her to feel like it is an unfamiliar presence. But this monster, this horror... seeing it just shrug off her best efforts yet again. And seeing it shrug off the best that many of the Drifters can do as well... that is disheartening.

 Disheartening, but not unexpected.

 And then it simply turns and lashes out with one fin. The attack slams into the Aeon, sending Shiva flying away from the monster. The summon turns in the air, managing to put her feet under her before slamming into the Azado hillside, leaving a massive eruption of ice crystals from the point where she had struck the ground.

 Back at her summoning point, the elf staggers as the feedback tears into her, a trickle of blood erupting from her mouth. She wasn't as good at this as she would like - her bond was imperfect. It had been a long time. But she had to keep fighting.

 "Fiend! Monster!" Mihaya shouts as Shiva pulls back, the Aeon floating in the air for a moment as her summoner considers the next best move to make. The monster was going to continue to attack, and as a civilian runs by the elf reaches out to grab her arm. "You need to get underground! Don't try and hide inside, but find someplace below the earth to take shelter! This creature won't stop until its flattened every sign of human habitation around here!"

 Concentrating again, Mihaya sends another command to her Aeon. Shiva doesn't charge this time - instead she raises one hand, swirling magic gathering around her fingers as she sweeps the air in front of her with a dramatic gesture. Shards of frost spin themselves from nothingness in response to the Aeon's command, forming a series of ten massive spears of sapphire blue ice. The Aeon gives a mischievous smile, and drops her hand - sending all ten spears racing through the air towards Sin's carapace.

 But the Aeon does pause, and looks back at her summoner. And Mihaya clenches her hands around her staff, and nods. "I know. We can't win here - we..."

 Her eyes close. A single, frustrated tear.

 "...we have to do what we can. Give people time to run. To hide."

 Turning, the elf shouts, "IS THERE ANYWHERE WE CAN TRY AND GET UNDERGROUND? A MINE, SOMETHING!?!"

GS: Mihaya has attacked Sin with Blizzard 3!
GS: Mihaya has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Even with other Drifters here, and even with the Owlet curling up in a ball in her hood, Catenna feels very much alone right now.

Even with Celesdue practically crying out in her heart. The Moon Shaman widens her eyes as the huge creature out in the water begins to move, but her attention is more thoroughly on the Guardian of the Moon. "Do you mean that--"

Responding completely proves impossible because Sin proceeds to put her to shame with a gravitational power so infinitely beyond her ability to comprehend that she might as well be as dirt before it.

The immense power almost flattens Catenna instantly, and only the fact that she took a couple of steps backwards is enough to save her. She's just outside the apex of the assault. Even the edge of it is enough to drive her off her feet and to her knees. Blood rushes from her head and down into her feet. Her head hangs and her arms threaten to tear out of their sockets. With a straining groan, she struggles to keep her head up and her eyes lifted, but her vision is reducing rapidly to a blackened tunnel under the incredible pressure of gravity.

Only when the monstrous beast's attention diverts can Catenna dare to slouch forward and hit the seawall on her hands and knees. Blood drips from her mouth and the corners of her eyes as she pants for breath. It takes her a moment for her body to start pumping blood back to her brain.

"Celesdue," she whispers, her voice pleading. "What manner of beast is this, that emerges alive wielding such frightening power...?"

It's clear to Catenna at this point that there is no way she's going to be able to kill this thing. As she claws her way to her feet, she steels herself with the grim realization that all she can do is try to distract it in the hopes that the people of Azado can flee. Once more she begins to build up power. Her gravitational arcana is nothing more than a bug bite against this thing, but from what she can see, it responds to bug bites.

"Then I hope this bug bite festers," Catenna whispers with conviction she wishes she felt. Leveling her hands, she begins to weave a spell. Gravity churns around the huge Clysmian.

It is not the pulling blow from before. The effect is more subtle. She's trying to warp Sin's own gravitational field, trying to affect the way whatever is going on inside it flows and eddies. Against a human, she would be trying to drain the blood out of their brain. Against this monster, she has no idea if it has blood or a brain. But it's worth a try.

The Owlet looks on over her shoulder, its yellow eyes wide and afraid.

GS: Catenna has attacked Sin with Feeble Mind!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Mihaya's Blizzard 3 for 24 hit points!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mihaya has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Catenna's Feeble Mind for 0 hit points!
GS: Sin suffers Infect, extending negative statuses by 1 turn each!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Catenna has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    The gravitational wave washes over Lanval like water, which is something of an ironic statement but is true. The gravity does not sweep him up in a vacuum - displaced seawater, brick, wood, fish, and Goddess knows what else all get swept up in the wave, stirring the flood waters anew as the gravity shockwave washes through. Lanval disappears within it, swept into the currents. He gazes into the swirling chaos of death and destruction as he's carried along and tossed about, stirred and dragged every which way by forces and things that will take their time to settle and collapse where they will.
     If Lanval were not a being of water, or rather, a being that required to breathe at all, he would have drowned somewhere about a quarter of the way in this tumultuous gravitic shockwave journey, and the last things he would hear would be the terrified screams of people he doesn't know (Guardians) being able to be heard above the swirling waters and exploding structures. His eyes remain open, devoid of the shining color as he is equal parts nonplussed, frightened, and battered.
     His expulsion from all of this deposits him at a lower elevation, separating him from his friends - and putting him ever closer to the thrashing leviathan. He catches a clearer glimpse of that elf woman and her icy companion - is that a Guardian like... no, it's not like one, is it? Who are they?
     The only things he knows, second-hand, is 'it is supposed to be dead' and 'we were assured, told us that these would never come to pass.' That, and the complete lack of Malevolence.
     The bearded wastrel finds it in him to rise and stand upright, taking his gourd in hand as he holds it up to the leviathan. A Seraphic Arte calls forth a crashing wave of water whose size and character is lost in the mix of forces - before Sin, it is paltry. Everything is... and yet...
     "I beseech thee!" Calls Lanval, the boom of his voice shaken as the water wave recedes from whatever impact it may have. "Who... what are you...?!"

GS: Seraph Lanval has attacked Sin with Splash And Greet!
GS: Seraph Lanval has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Lanval has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Elvis has posed.

"Ghh...! What IS this thing?" he asks. A voice rang out over the clarion call of battle, saying what it is capable of. Eyes scan the air, seeing something aking to Golems and Airships take to the sky to lash out at this creature. His attack had little effect. Time to get some--

CRASH.

A massive grated secion of a hold lands straight where Elvis was, as if aimed despite flying around amongst the chaos. The Sentinel barely has times to bring his arms up to block, and even in so doing, gets planted against a wall. "ENOUGH!" he shouts, taking his massive hands and rending the grate apart with great effort. "GIVE ME THAT!" he says... to apparently no one.

Elvis takes to higher groudn, and with a powerful spin, hurls it like a javelin, as he readies himself for whatever else may fly his way, wrapping his hands up in his favored weapon, his Power Gloves. "I am DONE being nice!" he shouts at the... whale? Can it even understand him?

"There are waterworks under the city, there is a bulkhead near here!" he calls to Mihaya. "Civilians took shelter when the wave came! It is still accessible!"

GS: Elvis has attacked Sin with Dire Haymaker!
GS: Elvis has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Elvis has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Sin takes a solid hit from Seraph Lanval's Splash And Greet for 88 hit points!
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Elvis's Dire Haymaker for 19 hit points!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Elvis has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Gwen Whitlock guards a hit from Sin's Raging Vortex for 153 hit points!
GS: Cover! Statuses applied to Sin!
<Pose Tracker> Mercedes Hartley has posed.

Mercedes had, honestly, not expected the giant whale to take much notice of her. There are bigger, scarier things around (Gears? On LUNAR?) and she's just a girl with a gun. She's more trying to help distract it than expecting to draw its attention personally.

Mercedes realizes she has done something very dangerous when she sees how effective her ancient ARM is against the things crawling on Sin's back. She feels the tingle of electricity along the hair of her arm, and her gun spits out more sparks on the last shot as it triggers some of the ambient charge.

The bolt comes down.

The portion of docks Mercedes was standing on explodes into chunks of wood and a spray of filthy water, accompanied by a hissing cloud of steam. She vanishes entirely in the mess for several long seconds as the strangest thing happens to Mercedes, burned from the blast: the world goes dead around her.

Not dead. Stopped.

To Mercedes, she is balancing on a floating chunk of wood about twenty feet above the surface of the water. She hops down from it to the next one down, which is at an odd angle; she hits it at the top of the angle and jumps down to the one below, then the one below that, then one that appears partially embedded in a still wave.

Not quite still, as she can see it slowly, sloooowly cresting, sinking down under her weight as she steps onto the water, which feels more like gelatin than anything else. She runs along the strangely nearly-immobile, gelatinous water for a good fifty steps, her feet leaving little dimples in her footsteps. She feels her heart pounding louder and louder in her ears as she fires her gun the whole way - and then things return to normal.

What everyone who is not Mercedes sees is Mercedes bounding down the wooden planks of the dock *while they are still rising*, then across the surface of the water without falling through. She goes those fifty steps in perhaps one second, moving so fast that she's impossible to see clearly; her body blurs as she runs along the water's surface and there's a veritable stream of bolts of light rising from the blur, only for her to suddenly stop blurring and fall in with a rather sad-sounding 'bloop'.

The dimpled footsteps leave a wake behind her as they collapse in on themselves, all at once.

GS: Mercedes Hartley has attacked Sin with Overdrive Barrage!
GS: Mercedes Hartley takes 11 damage from Toxin!
GS: Mercedes Hartley has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Xantia only hears Mihaya's words after she's already launched her attack. 'Almost unstoppable', she hears. Naturally, what she's going to take away from that choice of words is that there is a chance to stop it. Similarly, this other voice saying it's supposed to be dead... that means it can be killed! Even if her attack did, well, not much of anything that she could see, she's just getting started! This is going to work out just fine! Of course, it would be nice to have some more help with something this big...

And just as she thinks this, an energy wave she's very familiar with impacts close by, prompting her to turn and see, "Feiii!" She waves, cheerfully. Just so happy to see him, and Lily arriving shortly after, and just so many other familiar faces, all coming to help. Now she's definitely convinced they can win this. Because this is how things always happen, isn't it? Everyone comes together to fight the big bad, and when it's defeated, all the trouble is all over and done with. There's nothing to worry about here. Everything's going to turn out just fine. Others may worry, but that's alright - she has plenty of hope and optimism to go around.

So much of it, in fact, that she stopped paying attention to what Sin was doing. Not that she had any way to predict what it would be capable of to begin with, and she may not have had any way of dealing with it. But it doesn't actually help that she isn't even looking to see that gravitic shockwave coming. Xantia instantly buckles when struck. But... she manages to remain huddled in a crouched position. Enduring it, internally fighting back by means of manipulating the flow in Ether in her body, pushing back against the crushing forces. It still hurts like heck, but in the end...

Xantia rises to her feet, a little unsteady, but in one piece. Now, she understands. Not that she doesn't still believe she stands a chance of winning, of course she does. But at least she understands well enough to realize that this isn't something she can take lightly. She needs to get serious about this. And she'll need to have help. Fei, Lily and Rosaline are closest to her, in more ways than one. So it's obvious who she's going to call on.

"Fei! Lily! Rosa! Stand close to me! Trust me, I know something that'll help!"

That something is rather a someone. Xantia believes this to be the perfect time to call upon her Medium, retrieving it from her inner cloak pocket and raising it to the sky. "Nouh Shax! We need help! Please give your power to me and my friends!"

Without any warning, a huge bolt of lightning suddenly pierces the heaven, striking the ground with Xantia dead center. It doesn't cause any harm, however. It causes a warm, tingly sensation both within and without, as the group gains an aura of electricity - a normal thing for Xantia, not quite so much for the others. It's however clearly a good thing, as they feel empowered by it, gaining temporarily increased mental focus and physical prowess to help deal with this dire threat.

GS: Xantia has attacked Xantia with Material - Voltaic Supercharge!
GS: Xantia has attacked Fei Fong Wong with Material - Voltaic Supercharge!
GS: Xantia has attacked Lily Keil with Material - Voltaic Supercharge!
GS: Xantia has attacked Rosaline Calice with Material - Voltaic Supercharge!
GS: Xantia has completed her action.
GS: Fei Fong Wong takes a solid hit from Xantia's Material - Voltaic Supercharge for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Quick! Statuses applied to Fei Fong Wong!
GS: Lily Keil takes a solid hit from Xantia's Material - Voltaic Supercharge for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Quick! Statuses applied to Lily Keil!
GS: Xantia takes a solid hit from Xantia's Material - Voltaic Supercharge for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Quick! Statuses applied to Xantia!
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Matilda screams. At first, she'd thought that maybe she could find some way to route herself after Noeline more directly -- the rigging, a parachute, something -- but her plan switches to fire support in a blast of unholy fire. Her breastplate pulses with unnatural heat -- so she *immediately* severs the latches that hold its halves in place with a knife, letting it fall from her.

When she manages to pry herself off the deck, Matilda's dropped Freischütz... which leaves her in a pretty rough position. It skitters away as the ship tilts, Matilda only barely managing to grab on to -- honestly, she has no idea *what* she grabbed onto.

Freischütz lodges under something; the armor, meanwhile, does a header right off the ship. ... oh well. Easy come, easy go.

Once the ship's position stabilizes slightly, the compounder lets herself go rolling down toward her weapon, retrieving it. ... Thanks to the shift in her standard gear on Lunar, she doesn't actually have much on her for dealing with a threat of this size at this distance...

... so she ends up just continuing to provide fire support for Noeline. She doesn't even bother to change the ammunition -- it's still just rocks.

GS: Matilda Whitehead has attacked Sin with Gravel Bullet!
GS: Matilda Whitehead has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Matilda Whitehead has completed her action.
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a solid hit from Xantia's Material - Voltaic Supercharge for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Quick! Statuses applied to Rosaline Calice!
GS: Sin guards a hit from Mercedes Hartley's Overdrive Barrage for 35 hit points!
GS: Riposte! Statuses applied to Mercedes Hartley!
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei Fong Wong says, "It can seeI us." His eyes widen. "It can see us...Xantia! Get out of here! We can't win this one!" He rushes over, fully intent to pick up Xantia if he bloody has to. This is the time to escape or, at worst, fighting retreat. Charge the giant whale to punch it in the face is not really a viable plan here. There's a reason Fei relied on his chi rather than his fists.

"Stop freaking out already...!" He mutters under his breath. It's difficult to be sure even with context who he is talking to. It's not bravery that's telling him not to. He's genuinely horrified, terrified, and fully expects to be murdered but he's been running those thoughts for a while now, in a way he's at the center of a calm storm or WOULD BE if it wasn't for all the howls and screams around him...

...and the rage of Sin.

Fei gives Xantia a bit of a skeptical look when she says she has something that can help but, then again, Xantia has a lot of weird unknown abilities. Maybe she CAN punch out the giant whale?

NO SHE CAN'T.

Maybe...she can punch out the giant whale???

Fei is supercharged by a Guardian and Xantia. This may be about the best circumstances for fighting a giant whale he can have, he supposes, on foot but--he sees in the distance--a pink gear.

His eyes stay on it for a moment before the shockwave slams into him. He is pushed back but he manages to stay standing. Clearly someone is using Gameshark.

"Gh..." Fei grunts, but the charge stays with him. For now.

Fei lashes out with his own chi once more, punching forward with both hands and trying to freeze that Sin wing with own two hands. It's actually a pretty nicely sized iceburg he unleashes but, well, it's still Sin here. "Lily," Fei says. "We can only really piss it off here, so can you take Xantia to the Fereshte when you got a moment? Or to the floodgates?" Oh no he's being THAT jerk!!

Hammer's grip on the wheel is ironclad, but Riesenlied's voice calms him JUST enough that his grip slackens on the wheel. "M..Miss Riesenlied, we can't, we have to get out of here. I...I don't understand...How can you people..."

Amber grabs him far more roughly than Riesenlied. "I'll take him below." She says. "Come on, man..." He guides Hammer below decks where he'll be alone with his thoughts.

This may not be an improvement for him but it is certainly an improvement for teamwork and the rescue of the refugees. He doesn't need to hear condemnation in Riesenlied's voice. He has a great deal of admiration for her.

But in this moment he sees more than ever the difference between him and 'them'. What makes them able to do so easily that which he can't even imagine?

He'll be thinking about that for a long time.

A portal appears along the underside of the prow of the ship spiraling for the Fereshte. Lydia pops out, hanging on through the ship through the portal as she eyeballs the Fereshte.

And then moments before it's about to collide, Lydia throws herself through one of the Fereshte's windows and rolls across the ground for a few moments, exhaling rapidly.

But not for long. She runs up to the top deck, past Hammer ('What are you doing down here, nerd?'), and then runs for Riesenlied.

"Mom!" She says. "I heard you call!"

Her lips twist into a grin. "Got the wheel, can the Dragon Tear find people who need help? I'll guide the ship to 'em." The Cid Theme tries to BGM interrupt but is overridden by Otherworld because it's Otherworld.

<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Rosaline sees a pair of familiar faces catching up to her. Good, so they didn't get too separated. But she has a burning question.

"Lanval, do you know what that thing is?" Well, the Seraph's reaction answers her question enough already. Layna then catches up. Rosaline returns her wink with something resembling a smile, albeit a slightly desperate one. "I did. I need a drink. Do you?" That's easily arranged, considering present company, but frankly, maybe it can WAIT A LITTLE.

She hears a Guardian's cry. It's supposed to be dead? That is also intriguing but unhelpful. "Or... is it UNdead?" Not that she has much way to act on it-- Most of her offensive Holy crests are on another planet entirely.

Either way, they get the drink she wanted, as Lanval gets washed away, and Rosaline is compressed, they flung by a wave of force she's too busy shooting to do much of anything about. She, too, ends up in the churning waters as a result.

The resulting swim is a spitting, angry, painful mess, but suffice to say Rosaline eventually shoots out of some wreckage like a bullet, finding herself a piece of relatively stable driftwood to remain on top of for a precious moment. She catches sight of friends getting as swept up as she was, fighting this force of nature, and holds a hand to the Crests hanging from her neck.

"Please stay strong. Holy Kindness!"

She holds a hand palm-up, producing a green, shining mote of light that splits into three, flying and seeking Layna, Lanval and Xantia in order to put a little much-needed pep in their step in this dire situation.

As for her?

She hears Xantia's voice, and remains close to her as instructed. What happens next, however, she doesn't quite expect. A Guardian? Fine. She doesn't even CARE anymore. The lightning coursing through her, however, is new. But she runs with it, quite literally, at a disconcerting speed. She's been on fire for half of a year. Being on lightning is fine by comparison. "Thank you, Xantia!"

GS: Rosaline Calice has activated a Force Action!
GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Layna Manydays with Holy Kindness!
GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Seraph Lanval with Holy Kindness!
GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Xantia with Holy Kindness!
GS: Rosaline Calice has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Rosaline Calice has completed her action.
GS: Rosaline Calice heals Layna Manydays! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Reload! Layna Manydays gains 15 extra FP from Rosaline Calice!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked Sin with Suikei!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Skylr Paer has posed.

      Skylr is startled, but she shouldn't be: Leo's there. Leo strides down the street, drawing her attention, and she hisses at him. She wants to tell him to be careful; but this is what he is for. This is what she is for: To fight against the things that go bump in the night; to protect Althena, and the people she watches over.

      Leo is moving. If Leo's moving, she can too...

      The arrow explodes - metal and word into fragments. There is that crippling, anxious sensation of something staring at her that she would rather not be looking at her ... and then Skylr is airborne, screaming like many as she is flung into the air. as the spike launches her. It's a bit ways up: And a much more painful way down, as she is abruptly dropped into a pile of metal, wood, and stone. She'll be picking splinters out of her for days; and the bruising she can feel already is just a whisper to what is still potentially coming (and what she'll be going 'ow' about for days'.)

      Skylr struggles to her feet, her bow still in her hand. She rifles through her back for a brief moment; but finding mostly broken arrows due to the landing, she hesitates. Strength in combat is never her strong suit, but what she can do... Well, she knows what she does best... and she doesn't even need to be directly at his side to do it. "Althena, hear me... may the light that you shine continue to guide my hand; and may it continue to guide the knights that defend you - Blessings to the knight that serves you, tonight!" Golden light springs up in the area around Leoa; a little bit of life, for the knight that may indeed fight to the death.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

    "... I promise," Noeline answers with a softer smile, tilting her head - and on impulse, Riesenlied gets a kiss on the lips for her concern, before the spy leaps down to the ground below; her landing is rougher than she expected, the exertion of their support run on Azado mixing with the sensory overload of Sin's presence and the Guardian's fear to sap her of her usual strength.

    As if that weren't enough, that pressure rolls over her again, but this time as a very physical wave; buffeted by it, she coughs and rasps out a pained breath, forcing herself to grit her teeth and summon the strength to try to stand against it. Her mind abruptly feels Duras Drum's voice run through her senses like claws on chalkboard, static fuzzing across her vision in time with it before she pushes back for clarity. "--we can worry about that later, don't you think?! Some of us are a little busy!"

    She knows it could be worse; above her, she can feel the gouts of superheated air and the rubble tearing through the air; she can't do anything to help the Fereshte from down on the ground, but she can pause and watch aghast as the Fereshte begins to-- turn around. "Hammer?!" she blurts into her microphone, trying to find a middle distance between sympathetic and staggered and finding it a trifle difficult right in the moment. "--you can't pull out yet! There are still more to pick up! We have to try to get them out! It might be stupid, but--..."

    She can't find a 'but' to offer, but she can at least give Matilda a nod of respect as the compounder covers her, hear the change of pilots as the Fereshte turns to evade, watch as the Tzadkeil appears on the horizon to hang there like a wildcard. She's not one for praying, but she does find herself murmuring something quiet and private under her breath.

    The last dregs of terrified villagers are already approaching her, as if expecting her to provide a means of escape; she sucks in a breath, tries to make the world stop spinning. What would Riesenlied say-- no, she can't be Riese. But she can at least do her best to help.

    "All of you! Those of you who are able, carry those who cannot!" she calls urgently, doing her best to command attention. "Get clear of this street, and meet up with the Fereshte when it is able to stop! There are people there who will help you aboard! We have already picked up many townsfolk - if you're not sure where someone is, get yourself to safety first and foremost! I--" Lily lands, and Noeline sucks in a breath. "--we will protect you as much as we're possible! Now go!"

    With a long sigh, she feels the weight of her sword in her hand, comforting in its heft; she lifts it, focusing energy along the edge. "This is exceptionally foolish," she mutters, glancing to the Black Wolf nearby - before darting forwards and sweeping the blade up. Rather than race forwards to meet Sin, she'd rather try to harry it from a distance - thus the bright white line of force that races across the intervening space to buffet against Sin's form.

GS: Noeline has spent 3 Combo on Headshot, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Noeline has attacked Sin with Whispered Silk!
GS: Noeline has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Noeline has completed her action.
GS: Skylr Paer has attacked White Knight Leo with Smallest Blessing!
GS: Skylr Paer has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Skylr Paer has completed her action.
GS: Skylr Paer heals White Knight Leo! He gains 100 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

"Aye, lass. I think I need several drinks." Layna replies with a chuckle. But yes, this is hardly the time or place, even for Layna.

That's how you know things are serious!

'It is supposed to be dead!' 'We were assured!'

These voices sear through Layna's mind, causing her to recoil. She isn't used to the voice of the Guardians, though she bears one of their Mediums - Lucadia, specifically.

But worse than that was the sheer pressure of its presence. Though it has no visible yes, she can feel it watching her, as if its attention was solely on her...just as it was on everyone else.

Layna recoils as the vortex shifts, and it emits a terrible sound. Layna gasps.

"MOVE!" She commands, but too late, as a massive mast comes hurtling down toward the earth, burying itself into the ground with a terrible cracking noise.

Was Layna crushed beneath it...?

...No, in an instant, she's standing on top of it. She seems a little worse for wear, but not wounded. ...But Rosaline was swept away, and Lanval...she doesn't see him anymore.

"Damn it all...!" She hisses, then looks toward the elf who had lead her to come out here in the first place.

"Aye, lass! There's a sewer system nearby. Came from there, m'self...but I dunno if it'd do any good against this great blaggard!" She calls out, using wind magic to amplify her voice.

And then she reaches out toward the great fiend, her green aura turning red around her hand momentarily. She tries to draw power away from it, to weaken it while strengthening herself.

She's well aware it would be like taking taking a mere dropperful from an entire ocean. But anything, anything, that could save them now would be welcome.

And afterwards, she sees a sphere of green light flying toward her... Layna jumps toward it, catching it in mid-air and letting the healing glow suffuse her, before trying to track down the source.

"Hang on, lass!" Layna calls out.

GS: Layna Manydays has attacked Sin with Plunder Power!
GS: Layna Manydays has completed her action.
GS: Rosaline Calice heals Seraph Lanval! He gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Reload! Seraph Lanval gains 15 extra FP from Rosaline Calice!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    'It is supposed to be dead!--'

    That's a voice Leo doesn't recognize. It's not one of his wind-talkers, and there's a quality to it he can't identify, something regal yet alien, as though the sound weren't coming from a human throat. "Clearly it is not," Leo says, his voice tight. A second voice joins in. Leo ducks behind a ruined wall as space twists and contorts around the monster's body. He throws himself to the ground. The gravitational shockwave rushes over him, even as spikes of earth rise around him to shield him from flying debris. Bits of glass and stone and wood fly across him like shrapnel before being sucked up to join the maelstrom. Leo forces himself to his feet once it passes, channeling the solidity of stone as he rises, and faces the hurricane once again.

    'AaaaAHHHHH!'

    Leo's head snaps up, his eyes widening as he sees one of his own soldiers suddenly drop out of the vortex. He steps forward, thrusting out a hand, but it's already too late. Leo watches the blood of one of his people spread across the cobblestones in slow-motion. The man's corpse flies at him, as if thrown by an angry child. Leo sets his heels--it's all he can do as the body slams into him with terrifying force, knocking him off his feet. The corpse's limbs tangle with his own as he tumbles across the street. Leo comes to a halt, grabs the dead man's tunic, and shoves him off of him. There isn't even time to give last rites. Leo sets his jaw, and a sudden, sickening thought occurs to him--how many people have died here that he hasn't seen?

    "Beast," Leo growls, adding to Mihaya's litany of epithets unintentionally. "ABOMINATION!" Blood oozes into his eyes from a cut on his forehead, and the end of his horn is chipped. He stands nevertheless, and advances down the street, towards the docks and the center of the maelstrom. Mercedes is lightning-quick. Leo is more like a mountain that decided to move. "GET BEHIND ME!" Leo roars to the little figure he can see darting around Sin like a gnat. (As if Leo could protect Mercedes from this.) Warm energy flows through him as a corona of golden light appears from nowhere, and the pain fades. Leo glances back at Guardswoman Paer, and tries not to imagine the terrified face of the Guardsman Sin just killed in front of him. He nods, once, graciously accepting her backup.

    "DEMON FANG!" Leo roars. He rushes forwards, his blade cutting a perfect arc through the air before him. A wave of vacuum and chi splits off from the sword's edge, and races towards Sin at top speed. Compared to the creature's vast bulk, it is tiny. It is miniscule. It is less than a mosquito bite would be to a human.

GS: Rosaline Calice heals Xantia! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Reload! Xantia gains 15 extra FP from Rosaline Calice!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Sin with Demon Fang!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 1 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Matilda Whitehead's Gravel Bullet for 15 hit points!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Matilda Whitehead has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    There's the Fereshte, he realizes, gaze lingering for the moment on the other airborne vessel.
    Command must see it. There's no point announcing it.
    There's no space or reason to engage it now, anyway. It's another problem for later, if there is a later.

    Maybe this is the end of the world, he thinks, mutely gazing through his screen at the monstrosity lingering in the harbor below.

    The Medium he's owner of isn't here -- it's back in his lodgings aboard the ship, along with nearly every other personal item he has that had made the trek to Lunar with him.
    He doesn't need it to feel the rising spiritual scream, jangling along his nerves like a live wire.

    Oh, he realizes a heartbeat or four later, as he urges Schiehallion sidelong to keep pace with the rest of the squadron he's supporting. It's one of the Guardians.

    And the counterpoint within him speaks: See that? It feels fear. Can you really call that a 'god'?
    But it's little comfort, not now.

    INCOMING, speaks the Gear's internal systems. Loren whips his head to one side so fast he nearly pulls his neck. "Where--"

    From below. From the harbor, he realizes, taking in the sizeable chunk of rock with the precise amount of detail no one ever needs to have when staring down an incoming threat.

    "Enable shields!"

    The honeycombing barrier bursts into life moments after; the rock slams in, sending Schiehallion in a backwards lurch from the displaced force diffusing along the shielding.
    But it holds. The barrier drops and with it the piece of Azado's harbor. Hanging back in a hover, Loren has but seconds to survey the scene. The ship--

    ESTIMATED 10% TOTAL SYSTEM ENERGY LOSS, announces the scroll across the Gear's interior.

    --and there's nothing he can do to help the ship. Nothing except prevent another attack like that to the wounded flagship. Gunning the jets, he bolts -- at least as fast as this Gear and move -- back to join up with his teammates, leveling out into formation.

    "Van Houten," he says, addressing the Gear positioned closest to him.
    Funny how it comes down to this, him with her of all people. But it doesn't matter.
    "...We need to draw it's attention to us! The ship can't handle a direct hit!" Probably, he thinks. Probably. He doesn't want to find out.

    "I'll back you up."
    It's second nature to reach down, past the part of him that's still shaking, and dredge up his will, to spin that force through the Gear's systems.

    And there in a blaze of a green fractal mandala, the power makes itself known. Adding itself to Elly's own.

    The best you can do is... help someone else seize glory?

    No, that doesn't matter right now.

GS: Loren Voss has spent 2 Combo on Inspire and Reload, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Loren Voss has attacked Elhaym van Houten with Energy Principle!
GS: Loren Voss has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Loren Voss has completed his action.
GS: Sin guards a hit from Fei Fong Wong's Suikei for 66 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

Even a Guardian fears this creature; Lily does not know how she knows whose voice it is that echoes in her mind, but she does in an instant. ...One; a second. They were assured--

Here. The creature crushes the strange woman of ice; the creature lets loose power that quakes, power that floods against Lily's senses, briefly overwhelms all sight. Lily lands hard, as if from height--because she does land from height, only her magic having kept her up as much as she had been. She hits the ground and her ankle shifts, stone rattling beneath her, launching upward. She hits the ground quickly, twisting in place and rolling partway down the incline. "Gh--"

She looks up. She sees it. ...Frost, gathering. Only a tiny impact, only a little set of cracks... But it's there. As she pushes herself back up, ignoring the sharp pain in her leg, she manages a fey grin. This is what--

Gears. ...Gebler Gears. Lily thinks, not for the first time, that she wishes she had her own, but now--

Water swirls through the air, and Lily's eyes widen at the sheer power of the creature. She can't even feel the effort of its attacks. 'Do not be foolish,' Riesenlied told her. ...Those words linger in her mind.

"...I'll help in my own way," the witch murmurs, and looks up to the creature ahead. ...and feels the presences around her.

"I was looking for you," she comments to Fei, and to Xantia, "I shouldn't be surprised you're here."

Xantia asks her to come close, and Lily lifts an eyebrow--but she does it in an instant, moving to the side, ARM still in hand. The Medium is invoked--

Power crackles around Lily, and she draws in a breath--focusing, making use of it. She considers--she can focus, she can move faster--

"Xantia," Lily says. "I need you to promise me something. I'll only tell you what it is after you agree. Can you do that for me?"

She speaks to Fei again, only tilting her head slightly his way, "If it can see us, then good. That's the entire point, Fei. Live, or die..."

"...We spend our blood to ensure the weak don't have to." She pauses, shakes her head. "I came here for you, Fei. I'm not leaving without you. No matter what."

Dog, on the deck, remains. She is frightened, to be sure, but she noses close to Riesenlied, as if to offer her support.

She can't argue with Noeline that this is foolish. She steps forward, drawing in a breath again, and Ether draws in around her.

"Whatever you are..."

Lily lifts her hand again, golden eyes on the creature, and sets the flow of Ether. Draw it in; hang onto it, let it suffuse her, until the golden glow is burning from her circuits--

"I don't have to win."

A column of light erupts from before her, and she shoves it outward, nuclear fire like weapons of old rocketing towards the gigantic monster before them, straight for its underside.

"...That's not why I'm here."

She's frozen in place for an instant, channeling what power she can.

GS: Elhaym van Houten gains Restore, shortening negative statuses by 3 turns each!
GS: Loren Voss heals Elhaym van Houten! She gains 400 temporary hit points!
GS: Reload! Elhaym van Houten gains 15 extra FP from Loren Voss!
GS: Elhaym van Houten gains a Combo from Inspire!
GS: Lily Keil has attacked Sin with Break Order!
GS: Lily Keil has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lily Keil has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Chime Isa has posed.

    Despite her small size and easy mobility even on the unstable floating debris, Chime pushed her luck to much it seems. A spin to confirm the location of something results in her missing the split second chance she'd have to spot incoming issues. Her jumping off the chair, a twist, and then a chair through the part of the desk and into her midsection.

    Barely even a grunt as the pint-sized red-haired elf clings to the chair for several moments before twisting off it and landing into a roll on the beach. She comes to a stop panting hard, but with a half smile as she shakes her head trying to clear her thoughts and observe the beach for a moment.

    Chime nods lightly, and then slams the grip of one crossbow down on the other manually rearming it before repeating the loud move on the other as she stands. But instead of firing again, she then slams both crossbows into their sheathes and pulls a crest from her vest holding it up over her head as a bright light blue light emits from it, and then sweeps the beach around her and sweeping across the beach over several others.

GS: CRITICAL! Sin guards a hit from Noeline's Whispered Silk for 180 hit points!
GS: Quick! Statuses applied to Noeline!
<Pose Tracker> Chime Isa has posed.

    Despite her small size and easy mobility even on the unstable floating debris, Chime pushed her luck to much it seems. A spin to confirm the location of something results in her missing the split second chance she'd have to spot incoming issues. Her jumping off the chair, a twist, and then a chair through the part of the desk and into her midsection.

    Barely even a grunt as the pint-sized red-haired elf clings to the chair for several moments before twisting off it and landing into a roll on the beach. She comes to a stop panting hard, but with a half smile as she shakes her head trying to clear her thoughts and observe the beach for a moment.

    Chime nods lightly, and then slams the grip of one crossbow down on the other manually rearming it before repeating the loud move on the other as she stands. But instead of firing again, she then slams both crossbows into their sheathes and pulls a crest from her vest holding it up over her head as a bright light blue light emits from it, and then sweeps the beach around her and sweeping across the beach over several others.

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

Elly feels a moment of misery. Loren's putting his hopes in her, despite everything. Tabitha is here - she can feel the exertions of the other woman's Ether, even as Vierge's handling improves dramatically. But what good is handling in the face of a mountain that moves? It isn't even moving slowly - it has disgusting levels of agility once its size is taken into account.

They're all counting on a liar, Elly thinks.
She sees the Fereshte sway even as she powers Vierge into a spiral, aiming perhaps to juke steadily around the great creature. Does she even have a plan? There is barely any battle coordination available from the Tzadkiel which, Elly estimates, will no doubt attempt to leave once this is lost. They only have one great flight.

The misery rises... and splashes against an inner resolve.

"Even if this is the last thing I do," Elly mumbles to herself, "then with every unit of fuel in Vierge --"

It took them a month to fill the tanks of two Gears! Elly's hands shake on the controls. She looks up then -- and sees half of a lighthouse flying right for Vierge. Too fast for her to do anything about it. She breathes out -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQi7vk9Yzdk

- and glittering rays of light lance through the lighthouse -

And the parts spread out and Vierge is spared.

The Animum Ether Response Operation Drones glitter like jewels behind Vierge.

ON THE TZADKIEL'S BRIDGE

Kelvena's soundscape monitor in one ear chimes in a peculiar way. Kelvena tilts her head to the side, and seems pleased.

"RRRAAAAAHHH" Dominia bellows as she strives to steer the ship out of the path of doom.

HERE AND NOW

Loren wants her to - to -

Swallowing, Elly realizes the clarity of the matter. At this moment, their paths are still on the same road. Perhaps they are so terribly close to diverging, but they haven't, yet. "Understood. Loren - I'm going to try to get it in the face. Try to remain within the hundred-meter range - I'm reserving one AEROD for counter-missile fire."

One indeed rises up to hang over the head of Vierge as it pivots, its intended landward loop instead moving seawards even as the Tzadkiel struggles valiantly to complete a god damn turn. Vierge glitters, armor intact - shined, polished by bored and underutilized Gebler troops - as the AERODs spread outwards.

Three of them do the obvious thing of spiralling around in a pinwheel assault for Sin's - front? Head - the part that seems to be the lead end of it. Two others, though...

Twin shadows pass over Fei and Xantia.

(I can't believe I can even do this, Elly thinks as her awareness spreads out like a jeweled net, riding on the artificial Ether support Loren is pouring into Vierge.)

Their blows are backed by a rippling ray of sheer refined unaspected Ether - pure, undiluted, and glorious! Fei, at least, would probably have an intuitive sense of what the Hell this means. Xantia, maybe not so much.

GS: Elhaym van Houten has spent 3 Combo on Gatling, including 2 on Gatling!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has attacked Sin with AERODS - Wide Field!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has completed her action.
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Layna Manydays's Plunder Power for 1 hit points!
GS: Mighty! Statuses applied to Layna Manydays!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Layna Manydays has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Demon Fang for 21 hit points!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Chime Isa has attacked Chime Isa with Group Heal!
GS: Chime Isa has attacked Mihaya with Group Heal!
GS: Chime Isa has attacked Skylr Paer with Group Heal!
GS: Chime Isa has attacked Catenna with Group Heal!
GS: Chime Isa has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Chime Isa has completed her action.
GS: Chime Isa heals Catenna! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Chime Isa heals Mihaya! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Chime Isa heals Chime Isa! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Chime Isa heals Skylr Paer! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Sin guards a hit from Lily Keil's Break Order for 189 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    'thip'
    
    That's probably the sound that bullet made when it slammed against the side of that whale sin beast demon thing. The boulder that comes after her as consequence is much, much larger, and makes a considerably larger dent.

    Coughing as she pulls herself from the debris, Gwen looks around, trying to assess who's still around her. Leo's there and... wait. "Oh hey, you okay?" the redhead shouts over to Skylr. Hearing the seraph's prayer, Gwen quickly begins to connect the dots. Ah, Althena's Guard.

    'It is supposed to be dead!' Gwen flinches back, hearing a voice on a spiritual channel that she hadn't heard since she lost her Medium. Hearing Leo's response, Gwen frowns. "The Guardians are freakin' out, sounds like. Real bad too, if you're hearin' it."

    But not all of the Guard is managing as well. The scream from one of White Knight Leo's men, noticeable in his fine gear as he's flung through the air, against the ground, and right at White Knight Leo. "Guardians..."

    All she can think about, just then, is that poor man being someone else. One of the Fiends, or the other unfortunate people who accompanied them into the lighthouse. And that's not even counting the people she doesn't even know.

    Nononono. They'll all be okay. They'll all be okay.

    They'll all be okay as long as she makes it through this.

    "We'll get through this, guys!" Gwen shouts, her words feeling generic in the face of something so large. "We've battled tough Hellions before, and we'll-"

    Her eyes widen. ".... Wait, you guys feel any Malevolence?" The Guardswoman (Skylr) may not have the ability to sense it. Does Leo? "It's been low-grade around since we all got here, and now it's gone." A pause.

    "Hey the Malevolence is gone, so if we can cruise past this, we'll be golden! We just need t'hang in there and keep firin'. We'll make sure the people who died didn't die in vain!" A nice, cheery burst of electric energy is shot out at the giant sin whale, on that note, Gwen's face fixed in a look of determination and positive denial.

    Gwen.exe is officially back online, it seems.

GS: Gwen Whitlock has attacked Sin with Coil Cannon EX!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has completed her action.
GS: Sin guards a hit from Elhaym van Houten's AERODS - Wide Field for 79 hit points!
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Gwen Whitlock's Coil Cannon EX for 11 hit points!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Sin has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbLQhzsJG0A

Shiva hurtles more ice into the monster. The ice slams into the armored hide, shattering one after the other, and leaving ice upon. Sin does not shriek. Sin focuses, instead. Then, directly between Shiva and Mihaya, there is a flash of red. A single point of light -- which suddenly explodes outward, as it did for Matilda. A titanic fireball screams up into the sky.

Gravity rumbles and churns about the Clysmian, unabated. Catenna's will is commendable; the gravitational effect causes Sinscales to rip off. The things go flying; and the beast lets out a low groan. It has some effect upon the great monster.

"Something lost to time... something I only barely know the name of! You cannot stay here! You must run, child!" Celesdue's cry cuts through all their minds, even as she addresses Catenna.

It also draws the attention of Sin down upon Catenna. The hairs on her neck stand on end; then, lightning explodes behind her. Arcs of it shoot out. Some zaps at her; other scars the ground. The air tastes of ozone. Lanval calls out to it.

Sin does not answer.

Instead, a massive block of ice forms in the blink of an eye. The size of a small building, it immediately chills the air all around. Hoarfrost gathers on the rocks underneath. The column of ice drops down onto Seraph, even as a massive wave slams into Sin and knocks the beast backward. The monster's silence remains, however.

Then, Elvis sends the grate he caught flying. It slams down into Sin, and then bounces off. A moment later, the creature's right fin crashes down. It causes the very ground to shake -- and part of the wall behind Elvis comes crashing down.

Mercedes's gun fires lightning into Sin. It slams into the armored hide, bursting into so much lightning. Then, a wave of gravitational force explodes downward. It strikes the water that Mercedes is in, then sends her and the water flying upward in a reverse splashdown.

The same gravitational shockwave causes the stone under Fei's feet to lurch into the sky. He gets an iceberg off, though -- and his flies, slamming into the hide of Sin. Sinscales fly to and fro, and the creature bellows, finally. The shockwave continues rolling outward, trying to bowl Skylr over, and then throw Chime down into the ground.

The call of a Guardian, thanks to Xantia, draws the attention of Sin. The eyeless gaze falls upon her. A moment later, Xantia feels the flicker of heat above her. Then, she sees a pinpoint of light above her head by about twenty feet -- one not unlike the one Mihaya faced. It explodes out too, another titanic fireball erupting down towards Xantia.

Just before the fireball fades, it is pierced through in an instant by a beam of light. Noeline's blast leaves a gaping hole through the fireball, before its remnants whisk away -- and then the beam slams into Sin, and actually blows the creature backward.

"Noeline... you have to get out of here... the Elw didn't finish stuff up so well! You have to survive, you have to return to Filgaia!" Duras Drum screams in her mind.

Even as the sky darkens. The left fin swings overhead -- and then slams down in the distance. It causes the whole city to shake -- but it also drops off a half-dozen Sinscales. The creatures fall, shrieking, and their blade-like bodies rain down upon Noeline.

Layna's magic tries to drain at Sin -- but the aura of red light breaks apart, unable to take hold. A moment later, a few chests wrenched from a merchant vessel come slamming down for the pirate. The Demon Fang from Leo catches a third -- and it bursts open, raining down quickly-ruined fine garments and dresses. The Demon Fang shatters on Sin's hide, like waves on breakers.

Which is when frost forms around the White Knight's feet. Then, a spike of ice slams upward, trying to skewer Leo through.

A geyser of nuclear fire slams into Sin. Finally, the stone-like hide burns and melts away; it runs in lava-like rivulets, through the swirled and whorled patterns on its hide. It burns and smokes, as the force of it slams into the side. It lets out a screech -- and then its fin slams into the ground again. Much like Noeline found, a quartet of Sinscales go flying off like missiles -- and the ground trembles and shakes once more, as the fin leaves a flattened section of earth on Azado's battered coast.

Then, Gwen's cannon fires again. It slams into the scales, and the shot bounces off, slamming back into the harbor. Then, a chunk of rock ripped out of Azado's lighthouse careens down -- and hurtles for her.

Sin's balleen-like mouth opens, and that terrible crooning echoes out again. Then, the air seems to play tricks; gravitational lensing causes those looking directly at Sin from on high to see, briefly, two of the great monster -- and two of the ruined harbor, and even of the islands out there. Then, a shockwave of roiling power rips through the air.

It slams towards the Tzadkiel and the Fereshte both, threatening to break through them unless they somehow ride the shockwave. The shockwave ripples over the crew on the open deck. Leon Albus cries out, slamming back into the engine. The same shockwave flies for Matilda and Riesenlied too.

That shockwave also rolls out for the two Solarian Gears here. Schiehallion's sensors pick it up -- as if seeing gravitational lensing up close wasn't enough -- before it tries to slam into the Gear. The same one whips through the AERODs and Vierge. The shockwave rattles them -- but not before lances of light from them slash into its armored hide. Sinscales are sent flying; one flips upward, slams into an AEROD.

More worrying, however, is that Sin's mouth keeps widening.

Duras Drum continues to speak. "Find the Guardian Lords! Seek their Lost Sanctuary!"

Celesdue's voice, still full of fear, adds to that. "You must tell them... they must know!"

Sin's mouth opens wider. Inside of it, a great and terrible power churns; a flood of light, ripping from it, and a strange gravitational effect that causes it to pulse with power. Over that, the two Guardians that had such ties to Lunar speak as one:

"Obsession lives!"

GS: Sin has attacked Mihaya with Firaja!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has spent 1 Combo on Poison, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Sin has attacked Catenna with Thundaja!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has attacked Elvis with Fin Strike!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has attacked Mercedes Hartley with Graviga!
GS: Sin has attacked Fei Fong Wong with Graviga!
GS: Sin has attacked Skylr Paer with Graviga!
GS: Sin has attacked Chime Isa with Graviga!
GS: Sin has attacked Xantia with Firaja!
GS: Sin has spent 3 Combo on Headshot, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Sin has attacked Noeline with Fin Bash!
GS: Sin has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Sin enters a Counter stance!
GS: Sin has attacked Layna Manydays with Debris Smash!
GS: Sin has attacked White Knight Leo with Blizzaja!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has spent 3 Combo on Headshot, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Sin has attacked Lily Keil with Fin Bash!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin enters a Counter stance!
GS: Sin has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Debris Smash!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has attacked Riesenlied with Gravija!
GS: Sin has attacked Matilda Whitehead with Gravija!
GS: Sin has attacked Loren Voss with Gravija!
GS: Sin has attacked Elhaym van Houten with Gravija!
GS: Sin has completed its action.
DC: 2 turns have elapsed in the battle against Sin! 3 turns remain!
GS: Mihaya takes a solid hit from Sin's Firaja for 229 hit points!
GS: Break! Statuses applied to Mihaya!
GS: Riesenlied guards a hit from Sin's Gravija for 150 hit points!
GS: RUIN! All positive status effects and temporary hit points purged from Riesenlied!
GS: Mercedes Hartley takes a glancing hit from Sin's Graviga for 81 hit points!
GS: Elhaym van Houten takes a glancing hit from Sin's Gravija for 175 hit points!
GS: RUIN! All positive status effects and temporary hit points purged from Elhaym van Houten!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Sin's Blizzaja for 149 hit points!
GS: Slow! Statuses applied to White Knight Leo!
GS: Catenna takes a solid hit from Sin's Thundaja for 237 hit points!
GS: Toxin! Statuses applied to Catenna!
GS: Layna Manydays takes a glancing hit from Sin's Debris Smash for 110 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Noeline takes a solid hit from Sin's Fin Bash for 396 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! Statuses applied to Noeline!
GS: Xantia takes a glancing hit from Sin's Firaja for 126 hit points!
GS: Break! Statuses applied to Xantia!
GS: Gwen Whitlock critically Guards a hit from Sin's Debris Smash for 40 hit points!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Chime Isa takes a solid hit from Sin's Graviga for 99 hit points!
GS: Fei Fong Wong critically Guards a hit from Sin's Graviga for 90 hit points!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Loren Voss guards a hit from Sin's Gravija for 271 hit points!
GS: RUIN! All positive status effects and temporary hit points purged from Loren Voss!
GS: CRITICAL! Lily Keil guards a hit from Sin's Fin Bash for 281 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! Statuses applied to Lily Keil!
GS: Skylr Paer guards a hit from Sin's Graviga for 104 hit points!
GS: Elvis guards a hit from Sin's Fin Strike for 125 hit points!
GS: Matilda Whitehead has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has lost 1 Combo!
DC: MISS! Matilda Whitehead completely evades Gravija from Sin!
<Pose Tracker> Mihaya has posed.

 They at least have a chance. Although if they can't escape before Sin actually decides that it's getting annoyed with them... well, that would be kind of a problem, wouldn't it?

 Mihaya nods once in response to hearing that there's some safe area people can reach. She looks back at the looming form fo the monster, wondering just how long it is going to continue attacking. It's impossible to say - no one can really say for certain how the calamity thinks, and it tends to be capricious and its methods of attack changing over time. "Keep pushing! But be careful, this monster is..." She curses. Itâs a plague. A blight. It has to be stopped, but... in the end, is there only the one method? Even the best weapons that are being thrown against it here seem to have little effect.

 She had hoped to find SOMETHING, but were even these strange Drifters from the Blue Star, with their marvelous machines and incredible weapons, unable to stop Spira's curse?

 The energizing effect of healing light that Chime emits helps some - Mihaya stands a bit straighter, and she looks more determined. But Sin continues attacking, and even its blows are horrifying.

 Mihaya has only a moment for Shiva to grab her and dive out of the way before the flash of magic transforms into a colossal ascending fireball. Instead of killing her outright, as the attack would have done otherwise, it instead inflicts terrible damage on both her and the Aeon, sending them both tumbling to the ground, battered but still alive. Still able to fight.

 "Keep fighting - don't let it..." She watches the fin slam down, doing immense damage to the city. The elf bites her lip, another tear running down her cheek. "...again and again... Tysh oui..."

 She attacks again. There is nothing else to do.

 Shiva gathers herself once again, the Aeon summoning icy sword and shield from thin air as she darts out across the water once more. Weaving among the pieces of debris floating up off of the water, the Ice Queen sweeps towards one of the massive fins of the terrifying mountain of a monster. While normally the attack the Aeon would unleash would only need a touch... in this case it needs a bit more leverage. The sword comes around in a thrust, aiming to drive its point into Sin's carapace. A moment later the shield comes around and drives the icy blade even deeper into the monster. And then she slams into both of them, unleashing a blast of cold through the weapon and into Sin's rocky shell. It is enough power to cause shards of ice to erupt out of its body for dozens of feet in all directions.

 Would the monster even care? It's size means shrugging off such hits is nothing for the monstrosity.

 ...and then she sees it. The gathering power as the calamity opens its maw.

 "Run! RUN AWAY! OH FOR YEVON'S SAKE, RUN!"

GS: Mihaya has attacked Sin with Absolute Zero!
GS: Mihaya has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mihaya has completed her action.
GS: Sin critically Guards a hit from Mihaya's Absolute Zero for 25 hit points!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mihaya has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

    Riesenlied's expression dies down with Hammer's, though it's still encouraging all the way as she gently nods. "Because I can hear them," is all she expresses, very honest. "I can hear them... their pain... so I... I won't abandon them. I'm sorry."

    She can only hope Hammer won't feel little from this; she'll tell him again and again, that he was the one who found the Fereshte for them, and there's no end to that gratitude from her.

    She pats him on the shoulder again as he goes, and Amber retreats down to the holds. Good, she thinks, it'll be more reinforced there...

    Her eyes widen as that portal appears, but it's much more relaxed as she exclaims, "Lydia! Oh my goodness, I'm so glad--"

    She quickly relents that statement as she gives Lydia the wheel, since she's much more a natural behind it than Riesenlied ever will. "Yes, my mind is full of their cries... let me guide the Fereshte to those who need it!"

    Riesenlied can still feel that peck on her lips from Noeline's kiss, inspiring her through the toughest of times. That rip of force tears through, and she can only hope that it doesn't anger the being more...

    Then she gazes towards the distance, her expression drawn to a line as she witnesses the pink Gear and Schiehellion -- and those AERODs, which saved the Fereshte when Id attacked alongside Gebler...

    Just who was the pilot of the Gear?

    Her attention is well divided as she draws upon the power of the Dragon's Tear, hearing all those in trouble... "Down and towards the right-- hghg--"

    That shockwave blasts straight through the Fereshte; there's a shocking rattle as it continues to hang on, but in a single blast those shields of Riesenlied's have been disappated in a single clean hit.

    She won't relent. She won't...

    "Nobody else is dying here," she growls. "Noeline, Lily, Matilda -- we've done enough! The Feresthe will pull towards Rendezvous Point F5, we'll swoop low enough for you to board! Bring anyone else with you that you've found!"

    And to those who are still out there, the beacon of light still emanates full and well amidst the night and the rain and the buffeting storms...

GS: Riesenlied has spent 1 Combo on Inspire, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Noeline with Empathic Prayer - Seek the New World!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Matilda Whitehead with Empathic Prayer - Seek the New World!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Lily Keil with Empathic Prayer - Seek the New World!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Riesenlied with Empathic Prayer - Seek the New World!
GS: Riesenlied has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
GS: Riesenlied takes a solid hit from Riesenlied's Empathic Prayer - Seek the New World for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Riesenlied!
GS: Riesenlied's Reload flag cannot target herself!
GS: Riesenlied gains a Combo from Inspire!
GS: Riesenlied has canceled their attack on Noeline.
GS: Riesenlied has canceled their attack on Matilda Whitehead.
GS: Riesenlied has canceled their attack on Lily Keil.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

A shimmer of blue light washes over Catenna from out of nowhere. The Moon Shaman blinks in surprise - but as she looks back, she realizes it's an ally, and that she's beginning to feel better. "Thank you," she calls down to Chime. "But you must get to safety...!"

Celesdue's insistence backs that up. The Moon Shaman begins to back away from the edge of the seawall. The Owlet hoots in her ear as if to emphasize Celesdue's point all the more firmly. "...Then fly we will," Catenna agrees. "There is still much to be done--"

The hairs on the back of Catenna's neck rise up with alarm - and she pales as the immense creature begins to come to bear on her.

"Oh no," she says.

The explosion of lightning doesn't come in front - it comes from behind and around. The first bolt strikes her dead in the back - and it nearly blows right through her. With a weak scream, the Moon Shaman is hurled from her feet and sent skidding across the seawall. More lightning bolts pound down around her, the force of them utterly absurd. Chunks of stone flash-vapourize as the intense volley of lightning smashes through the top of the seawall, sending cracks lancing down through its face. But still more of those bolts slam into Catenna. She's hurled into the air by one that hits near her and blows away the ground, and more lightning intercepts her in midair.

She can't even scream as she's swallowed up in one bolt, then another, then another. Electricity arcs across her in waves of torturous pain that nearly black out her senses. By the time the storm passes, she's trailing a stream of smoke as she goes plummeting through the air.

Seraph Lanval and his friends will get the privilege of Catenna's presence. Or rather, Catenna falling out of the sky in a smoking ruin, hitting the ground beside Lanval, then bouncing once and sailing several feet in the air before coming down with a fleshy thud. The Owlet flutters down beside her a moment later and looks over over with visible worry.

For several seconds, Catenna doesn't move or even seem to breathe. It seems as though Lanval may reacquaint himself with Catenna only in terms of seeing her corpse falling near him.

Then she groans, thin and weak. Still smoking, riddled with burns and flash-cauterized cuts and scrapes, she struggles back to one knee. Much of her dress has been burned away to leave mostly charred scraps and a layer of light armour beneath, also battered.

Her eyes are unfocused at first, but soon they find Lanval. She draws in a breath.

"This foe is beyond any of you," she intones.

Then she raises her voice. "RUN!!!" she shouts, gesturing and beginning to take off towards the relative shelter of the town.

As she runs, staggering weakly as her body struggles to respond, the hurt and frightened Moon Shaman whips around and sweeps her hand towards the vast obsession elemental out in the harbour. All Catenna can do is try to slow it down. But she tries her best. She pours all her magic into a single shot.

Gravity builds and builds - and with a sudden, slamming sensation, an immense compressing force attempts to seize and squash Sin all at once. It is as if gravity itself were trying to compress the huge monster down into a 10-foot-by-10-foot Sin cube - key word, trying.

As soon as the spell is cast, Catenna staggers away and starts running. If Celesdue says it's beyond her, then it's beyond her.

GS: Catenna has attacked Sin with Polarity Clutch!
GS: Catenna has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Catenna takes 10 damage from Toxin!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
GS: Sin guards a hit from Catenna's Polarity Clutch for 148 hit points!
GS: Riesenlied has spent 1 Combo on Reload, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Lily Keil with Empathic Prayer - Riesenlied!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Noeline with Empathic Prayer - Riesenlied!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Matilda Whitehead with Empathic Prayer - Riesenlied!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Riesenlied with Empathic Prayer - Riesenlied!
GS: Riesenlied has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
GS: Riesenlied heals Riesenlied! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Riesenlied's Reload flag cannot target herself!
GS: Lily Keil gains Restore, shortening negative statuses by 3 turns each!
GS: Riesenlied heals Lily Keil! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Lily Keil enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Reload! Lily Keil gains 15 extra FP from Riesenlied!
GS: Matilda Whitehead gains Restore, shortening negative statuses by 3 turns each!
GS: Riesenlied heals Matilda Whitehead! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Reload! Matilda Whitehead gains 15 extra FP from Riesenlied!
GS: Noeline gains Restore, shortening negative statuses by 3 turns each!
GS: Riesenlied heals Noeline! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Noeline enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Reload! Noeline gains 15 extra FP from Riesenlied!
<Pose Tracker> Elvis has posed.

"Damn, no effect..." Elvis groans, as attacking with the grate in turn didn't seem to do anything whatsoever. WIth a creature that size, it would take Golem sized weaponry to damage it. He looks to the others fighting. Surely they intend to flee as well?

They seem to be at least buying some smidge of time for civilians at least. A brave lot, these Humans... Always worth watching carefully, pushing their capabilities.

A massive fin closes distance incredibly quickly. It obliterates the section of the wall Elvis was using for cover, and the man promptly gets buring under a great deal of stone.

...

...Since when has being buried ever really stopped him? What was this, the third time now?

A fist explodes out of the debris, and Elvis climbs out. He hears the others calling for a retreat. Not a moment too soon. The Veruni channels earthen magics, and takes some of that stone rubble, which disintegrates and coats his skin for a moment before disappearing with a shining golden spark.

"It's time to go! This way! The bulkhead is over here! We can wait the creature out there!"

And with that, Elvis begins to book it for the waterway. Again. It's funny, wasn't he just saying he wanted out like, five minutes ago? How times change. Elvis leaps, and takes off as fast as he can to reach the door to help man it. Someones gotta move the massive door, after all.

GS: Elvis has attacked Elvis with Power Guard!
GS: Elvis has completed his action.
GS: Mighty! Statuses applied to Elvis!
GS: Elvis heals Elvis! He gains 200 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Xantia beams as she and her friends are now UNITED IN LIGHTNING. That... probably means something to Xantia. She does enjoy sharing experiences with friends. Even if the experience is 'being on lightning while fighting a giant whale'. Or maybe especially in that particular circumstance, because that would be how her mind works, wouldn't it. She receives thanks and a little extra healing force of her own from Rosaline on top of that, so naturally she's in the highest spirits she's been in yet during this battle.

That is, until Fei has to be a stick in the mud about things, causing her to frown. "Fei. I'm not leaving. Not everyone can fight, I can. So I have to fight. For everyone who can't." It's that simple. It's always been that simple. Fei really should know better than that by now - Xantia will never abandon a fight as long as she's under the impression that there's a chance of victory. And it's very difficult to convince her that there isn't. The only way might just be the hard way.

But she gets it, Fei is just being a little inconfident. She can fix that! Her smile returns, as she assures him, "Don't worry, just look around at everybody who's here. Together we can win! Just do your best, and everything's going to be okay!"

See, Lily understands. She feels the same Xantia does, that's how she interprets things anyway. Asking for a promise, however... That would normally be no problem, but under the circumstances, it worries her a little. So she has to ask first, "You're not going to ask me to promise to leave you behind or anything like that, right? I'm not leaving without Fei or you. ...also if it's about keeping a secret, I'm not really good at that. But if it's anything else, sure, I promise!"

She was only dimly aware of the presence of Gears, until they pass directly overhead. She appreciates the pretty light show - which is all it really is to her - and recognizes the Gear as Elly's, so this only boosts her confidence further. With all their powers combined, how could this possibly not work out?

The massive amount of power that's brought to bear against everyone present makes a good case for that. Xantia herself has to react quickly to avoid getting burnt to a crisp, which she only manages to do just in time thanks to her lightning-empowered state. Even so, avoiding a direct hit isn't enough to avoid the resulting impact from tossing her aside, landing painfully on her stomach some distance away. "...ow," she can still say, propping herself up again quickly enough... but now having a good overview of how the battle in general is going. People are getting seriously hurt. The creature appears to be summoning additional monsters, while still not seeming any worse for wear itself.

And then, that mouth opening... Xantia has no way to know what that means, exactly, but her instincts tell her that something bad is coming. Something really, really bad. And her sense of self-preservation is not so bad that she's going to just ignore that feeling.

Quickly jumping up the rest of the way, Xantia activates her ARM. It doesn't generate an energy blade that is anything like the typical size. No, that wouldn't be enough, in this case. It needs to be something more appropriate for a creature this big. And so, Xantia's blade expands as necessary, the red blade growing to become almost as big as she is. A five-foot long blade of solid energy should do something, right? Praying that it does, she thrusts the now massive weapon forward toward's Sin's widening mouth, not even sure what she's trying to accomplish, but anything's better than nothing.

Afterwards, the energy disperses into motes of red, and Xantia hops backward, to flank Fei again. A little sheepishly, she says, "So, um... the people should be safe by now, right? Maybe... maybe it'll be okay if we leave now?"

GS: Xantia has attacked Sin with Cardinal Impulse!
GS: Xantia has completed her action.
GS: Sin guards a hit from Xantia's Cardinal Impulse for 72 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Skylr Paer has posed.

      Skylr gets shouted at. "Sure." She replies to Gwen. "Doing just fine s'long as I can see Leo." Skylr's thought process: If Leo goes, stuff is real screwed. If Leo goes so hard he disappears, A), there's some screwery going on, and B), she doesn't want to have to be the one to tell the rest of the people on the Destiny Leo, you know... disappeared. There's some things you just don't do. Then there's a lot of things you *do* do. At least she's calm enough to reply...?

      She swallows as she seeds a compatriat drop out of the sky in front of Leo; bile rises in her mouth. She's a healer, for goodness sakes; she shouldn't be so reactionary to the dead, the dying, and the hurt. However, Leo's glance makes her smile; a delightfully small one, but one that reeks of relief nonethless as she nods back at him. Something swirls around her; the blue light startles her, but she is soothed by it, and Skylr waves at Chime across the field as she notices the origin of the blue light.

      Things are going badly... dark is the night.

      "But I'm not afraid of the dark." Skylr whispers to herself. Dark is just the lack of light, right?

      "... so let there be light.... to scare the dark; light; a ray of hope light; light to lead us home... Light's Blessing!" That golden aura Leo had before returns to him, Gwen, Chime, Lily, Mercedes, Elvis. A favor returned to Chime; Leo because Leo; Gwen because she showed concern, and Lily because ow, Lily. Ow.

      The others, well... they may not be guards, but right now: Everyone could use a little bit of light in their lives.

      And that is what Skylr is here for.

GS: Skylr Paer has attacked White Knight Leo with Light's Shine!
GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Light's Shine!
GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Chime Isa with Light's Shine!
GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Lily Keil with Light's Shine!
GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Mercedes Hartley with Light's Shine!
GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Elvis with Light's Shine!
GS: Skylr Paer has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Skylr Paer has completed her action.
GS: Skylr Paer heals Gwen Whitlock! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Skylr Paer heals Chime Isa! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Skylr Paer heals White Knight Leo! He gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Skylr Paer heals Mercedes Hartley! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    "WE'RE NOT LEAVING SO LONG AS THE INNOCENT REMAIN EMPERILED!" Leo bellows at the voice inside his head--surely he would look like a madman if everyone else weren't hearing those same voices. The Beastman takes staggering steps forwards, bracing himself against hurricane-force winds. His sodden uniform sticks to his skin, and his cape flaps raggedly behind him like a flag in a monsoon. The Guardians, Leo realizes. Are they just going to talk while innocent people die? The thought is blasphemous, but it occurs to him nevertheless.

    Magical energy boils off of Sin's body. It sheds parts of its body like hail, like a rain of arrows. Leo keeps advancing, step by step, and then the air grows chill around him. It's the only warning he has before that horrible spike erupts from the ground beneath him, but it is enough, however barely. Leo wrenches one foot free from the rime, pivots on that heel, and narrowly avoids being impaled clean through by that ice spike. The jagged edges cut into his leg, tracing a bloody line up that side of his body. The cold saps the life from his limbs. Catenna screams at them to run, but faces keep flashing through Leo's mind. The terror on the face of that Guardsman--Leo didn't even know his name. The countless civilians he's seen in the streets, fleeing. Mauri.

    Skylr's golden aura envelops him once again. The bleeding slows to a more managable level. "It is Althena's will," Leo grates out, "that these people be protected!" Bits of stone and earth wrench themselves free from the maelstrom, molding themselves around Leo's form. Althenan magic courses through him, reinforcing his failing body. "And if it is Her will, it is mine!"

GS: White Knight Leo has attacked White Knight Leo with Earth Prayer!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: White Knight Leo takes a solid hit from White Knight Leo's Earth Prayer for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Shield! Statuses applied to White Knight Leo!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

Pretend GS: Seraph Lanval guards a hit from Sin's Blizzaja for 150 hit points!

     Rosaline delivers her faith and trust in the form of healing sparkles that wash about Lanval as he stands and tries to engage in dialogue with something that has a mouth, but only speaks in raw destruction. The moment of faith being delivered unto the Seraph fills him with an undue but welcomed twinge of resolve and composure. He was a Lord of the Land for over five hundred years, but the nature of what he protected against is nowhere near in play with something like this.
     He stands where he does because he cannot think of what else he can do, as a great icy block forms above his position. Lanval swings the gourd by its rope a few times over before swinging upwards, guiding another eruption of water to attempt to cut through the descending solid block. It crashes down and shatters in a grisly explosion of sharp, jagged ice spikes that hurl themselves outward. At the center of it all, Lanval lies flat on his back as the hollowed-out ice block collapses upon itself, a cold mist erupting from when his would-be tomb cracks back out into open air.
     He is just as stunned as he was when he first laid eyes on the beast. That took his everything to hollow out and melt the descending ice with the warmest water he can muster. Everything collapses further, and he is rooted to the spot while it all falls around him-- including a familiar person, right from that forest with the butterflies and the Guardian Statue and the--
     "...Mm? H-Hey..." Lanval sits up, drowsy and weak as her eyes meet his one half-open one. She says what he must already know from first-hand experience.
     "...Th-then what do we--" Catenna finishes the sentence for him. Run, she says. Well. RUN!!! He watches her struggle as she tries to take off. Her wounds... at this rate, she's not going to make it...
     He turns away from the beast. The anatomical equivalent of neckhairs stand out on end, as dread bares down upon him. Holding his gourd aloft, he intones a quick Seraphic Arte in which to try and deliver a sense of calmness, a sense of things being better than they actually are, which is... a hard sell, as he staggers up to her and offers his gourd to her.
     It's a refreshing, nourishing drink whose curative effects will ensure she can at least live to get to where she intones.
     The same voices yell again, about what they must do, as Lanval hurries along by Catenna's side in the way he does. "Uhh, shay, do ya know who'sh talkin'," his voice is frightened, as though this were also a worrying thing, "'bout a Losht Shanctuary, 'n... tellin' shome Guardian Lordsh?"

GS: Catenna has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Seraph Lanval has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Supercharged by Xantia's intervention as she is, Rosaline briefly entertains the insane notion that she now actually has the power to somehow fight back. But she hears Celesdue's voice imploring Catenna-- and really, the rest of them to run as far as they can.

For the few misgivings Rosaline may still have about the Guardians, this IS sound advice.

And so, she turns tail, running quick as lightning, though she checks back to make sure no one gets left behind. It's... actually hard to tell if they do. It's pandemonium out there, and she's only one woman. People are dying en masse and there's nothing she can do about it. Right now it seems she's miraculously managed to elude the abomination's attention, but for how long?

This is when she finds Lanval and Catenna. The Moon Shamaness seems as if she's seen better days. This is something Rosaline can focus on. Someone she can reach. Someone she can help even as the world is falling apart. She extends a hand, her other one clutching her Crests as the glow with holy light. "Praise be," Rosaline incants, "Thy Sins Be Cleansed!"

It's an ironic name, yes. Not that she knows that.

And after that? She follows the sage advice given by several, and runs.

GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Catenna with Thy Sins be Cleansed!
GS: Rosaline Calice has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Rosaline Calice has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Lanval has attacked Catenna with Quick Swig!
GS: Seraph Lanval has completed his action.
GS: Catenna gains Restore, shortening negative statuses by 3 turns each!
GS: Rosaline Calice heals Catenna! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Riposte! Statuses applied to Seraph Lanval!
GS: Seraph Lanval heals Catenna! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

'Something lost to time'...that was the type of creature they were dealing with here. Something even a Guardian only barely knew the name of.

Layna curses.

This monster truly is a calamity. Watching it lash out...it's like the world is coming to an end.

She can't die here, though.

As Layna flies, two chests fly off toward her like missiles. The first she manages to avoid, the second manages to catch her by surprise, slamming into her squarely.

The green aura flickers...but holds, thanks to Rosaline's support. She stays her course, landing near Rosaline and Lanval.

'Find the Guardian Lords', the Guardians say. 'Obsession lives.'

Not coming from the Guardians, however, but still just as pertinent - 'OH FOR YEVON'S SAKE, RUN!'

Layna doesn't know what a 'Yevon' is. But she does know that beast opening its maw, and the light and pulse of power emitting from it is not something she wants to see the aftermath of.

She doesn't need to be told twice.

However, Catenna lands nearby.

"Lass! Are you-" She starts. Catenna speaks with authority.

...Right. Time to go.

"Not leaving you behind, lass. Lemme know if you need a hand!" Layna says, breaking into a run along with the others. As she runs, she keeps reciting incantations. Blades of wind continue to fly at Sin, for all the good it will do - but on the bright side, it'll quicken her step.

GS: Layna Manydays has attacked Sin with Swift Zephyr!
GS: Layna Manydays has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Layna Manydays has completed her action.
GS: Sin guards a hit from Layna Manydays's Swift Zephyr for 46 hit points!
GS: Riposte! Statuses applied to Layna Manydays!
<Pose Tracker> Mercedes Hartley has posed.

Mercedes doesn't even realize Leo is calling for her at first.

This is half from the noise and rush and half because she has fallen in the ocean, which means mostly she gets distorted noises. And they're loud; the chaos in the water means that she can't hear anything other than a constant churning rush.

Mercedes is also not a fantastic swimmer. She surfaces, her hair plastered to her head and face, but all the docks near her have been shattered. There's so much *stuff* in the water that it's hard to actually maneuver, but she paddles as swiftly as she can -

No, she has a better plan.

Mercedes uses her thumb to spin the cylinder, which slots into place with a definite click, and then fires her gun at the water's surface in front of her. Instead of lightning or light, it produces a spray of fine mist, which freezes the water in front of her into a chunk of ice.

Mercedes hops up on it and keeps spraying, making a short pier of ice that takes her to the point that she can hop off and wade. By this point the ARM, despite producing ice, is visibly steaming; it doesn't run out of energy, but it does overheat if she overuses it. Mercedes considers for a moment, then dunks it in the water to cool it off, figuring it can't hurt it any worse than everything else she's done to it over the last few months.

She is right, though when she pulls it out it has a crust of salt in a few places. Mercedes bangs it against her thigh as she makes it to shore, feeling light shine on her. It's a curiously warming sensation, and she doesn't know who did it at first - but now she can heal Leo, and Skylr, and everyone else through her ringing ears.

Mercedes starts to run toward Leo and Skylr. "I'm with you!" she calls, which may be a surprise given that she is absolutely not a member of Althena's Guard. She's scorched and bludgeoned from broken pier but she's still moving, if a little staggeringly - and as she moves, she takes aim directly at Sin's opening mouth.

Mercedes fires a single massive spike of ice. It's as long as her arm, and jagged, and it's aimed directly into the swirling mass in Sin's mouth - or not quite; she's aimed it just to the side, trying to drive it into the top of its palate. That ought to get it to slam its mouth shut, and that should hopefully disperse that swirling, churning energy.

...right?

GS: Mercedes Hartley has activated a Force Action!
GS: Mercedes Hartley has attacked Sin with Icicle Shot!
GS: Mercedes Hartley has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mercedes Hartley takes 9 damage from Toxin!
GS: Mercedes Hartley has completed her action.
GS: Sin guards a hit from Mercedes Hartley's Icicle Shot for 74 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

Still, Lily can feel the fear all around her. Is it her own? Is it only theirs? There's no way for her to be sure, no way for her to know, but its acrid taste lingers in her throat, her breathing faster than it should be. She doesn't show it. She shows little. But oh, here...

"No," Lily answers Xantia. ...Though whether they can win? No, surely not. But Lily answers, "I'll be right behind you. But I need you to promise me--as soon as I give the signal, take Fei back to the Feresthe. I've got no intention of staying here."

Is she telling the truth? It's hard to say; Lily is known to lie, when she feels it's best. But there's no time to interrogate it, because Lily's magic builds--And there. The black-haired woman stares up at the melting stone of Sin's flesh, still unaware of its name, still not completely inhabiting the truth of its power. The excitement bubbles as surely as the rivulets of flesh run; power. Power, to begin to harm even a creature such as this. There is no feeling like it. When Sin screeches, Lily returns a grim smile. ...Celesdue's cry echoes in her mind again; even the Guardians do not think this creature can be faced.

But she made it see her. 'Run.' The calls begin. But as Lily stares up, she sees the counterattack--her footing becomes unstable again as sand beneath her feet shifts, and she starts to stumble to the side... as the creatures crash towards her. Its terrible croon echoes as Lily sees the four creatures land about her. She fires off a bullet instantly, and it richochets off the thing's armored wings, before they unfold about her. Lily redirects her stance, firing again, again--one finally falls with a terrible shriek as the other three surround her. Their wings begin to pulse, and the witch of Kislev turns with a growl--She faces two, letting the third be at her back, and conjures a blade of darkness, holstering her ARM in her jacket again. She lunges forward, hacking into one, beginning for the other--

The glow stops. As Lily turns to continue her assault, the Sinscale finishes charging its power... and launches a hail of needles straight for her even as her head is turning. Two easily pierce her arm, but she is not so lucky with the third:

The third impacts her face and its noise is blotted out by her scream as her blade disappears and the hand that held it slaps up to her eye, quickly coated in blood. Lily stumbles backwards again, on the rocky ground, the one behind her launching an attack at her back while she's wounded. The blood stains her clothes quickly, and a dome of black power erupts around her as she falls, blasts of dark power erupting freely, burst burst burst as if completely uncontrolled--

Like Icarus in his flight, Lily is returned to the earth.

'Noeline, Lily, Matilda -- we've done enough! The Feresthe will pull towards Rendezvous Point F5, we'll swoop low enough for you to board! Bring anyone else with you that you've found!'

The words echo in Lily's mind, ringing past the agony as her magic crackles around her. She can no longer see to defend, see to move, though Riesenlied's power fills her, forces her conscious.

"Xant..ia... GO!"

 Buoyed by the magic flooding into her, she throws out a hand of her own, blindly towards where she thinks her allies might be--

But she cannot escape what is coming on her own.

GS: Lily Keil has activated a Force Action!
GS: Skylr Paer heals Lily Keil! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Lily Keil has attacked Sin with Annihilation Signal!
GS: Lily Keil has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    There hadn't been many Gears on board the Tzadkiel when it had been transported, let alone ones that could be restored to an operational status. Even obtaining the supplies -- with so many other things that needed to be done, among the repairs and the workarounds, and everything else the ship's engineering crew had tried and sometimes failed to do in the months since landing -- had taken far too long, had cost them much.

    So in a very real sense, among the few Gears they'd fielded: it's down to them.

    "...Does it even have a face?" Loren utters before he can catch himself. It has a mouth at least. But he doesn't see anything else from his vantage point here.
    "--Understood." This response is more formal, more officer-like. "Pulling back to avoid friendly fire. Remaining in safe range."

    'Safe range'. What does that even mean now particularly when she's saving that one AEROD just for him amidst this chaos?
    He shakes his head, grimacing. Stay focused!

    The AERODS spread out and fire.

    But focus is, after all, an intensely important resource right now.

    He blinks, as if not believing what he's seeing. Things are... those are creatures. What? "What are those things--" he shouts out, across open channels. "Are those... its children!?" He grits his teeth in the next heartbeat. "Voss to Tzadkiel -- something's wrong!"

    Something's wrong indeed. It looks like there are two of the creature, no matter how he tries to force an adjustment to his external camera systems.
    That--
    His heart sinks into the pit of his stomach.
    "...gravitational lensing..." he utters, across the band. "...as if it's on par with a star..."

    There's no way to block what's coming. No way to divert it. No way to do anything but fall towards the singularity, of a sort -- his shields bloom into existence, he can't remember triggering them -- and the Gear drops low, almost all systems redirected towards the sole task of keeping it and its occupant from annihilation.

    Even then, it's almost not enough.

    60% TOTAL POWER REMAINING, announces the Gear's system messaging. Schiehallion emerges with a sudden burst from beneath the waves, feet skimming the roiling sea's surface as Loren urges the battered Gear up from the depths to which it had plummeted. It's in sore shape: the armored plating is pockmarked and riddled with cracks; a full lengthy section of plating is hanging by an almost literal thread off of one leg. Sparks fly; sea water isn't helping the controls for that part at all. But he's alive.

    But the Tzadkiel--

    Not finished yet. He's able to breathe.

    "Van Houten!"

    Getting it's attention isn't working. Trying to buy time isn't working. It's just going to destroy everything. "We need to..."

    The creature's mouth is opening ever wider.

    "Voss to Tzadkiel. Immediate evasive action recommended. I don't think..." He pauses, seething in a breath. "We'll hold here until further orders. Over."

    He slumps back in his seat. "Van Houten. ...The Tzadkiel is the only thing that matters." In other words, unless ordered, he's standing his ground. He breathes in, as much to clear his head as channel his will -- ether amplifiers are unaffected, the systems are working properly -- and when he exhales, it's to form a shell threaded with the subtle lines of water ether about Schiehallion and Vierge.

GS: Loren Voss has attacked Elhaym van Houten with Guardian Axiom!
GS: Loren Voss has attacked Loren Voss with Guardian Axiom!
GS: Loren Voss has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Loren Voss has completed his action.
GS: Loren Voss takes a solid hit from Loren Voss's Guardian Axiom for 0 hit points!
GS: Quick and Shield! Statuses applied to Loren Voss!
GS: Elhaym van Houten takes a solid hit from Loren Voss's Guardian Axiom for 0 hit points!
GS: Quick and Shield! Statuses applied to Elhaym van Houten!
GS: Sin guards a hit from Lily Keil's Annihilation Signal for 222 hit points!
GS: Lily Keil has lost 0 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Chime Isa has posed.

    Once the light fades, the crest vanishes back into one of the endless pockets that litter the back leather vest Chime wears. Just in time to keep it from getting lost as she's bowled over by the wave of invisible force caused by the gravity swell. What healing she'd done for herself almost completely wasted, But hey not totally! The over all damage frmo the fall and force didn't undo all of the healing.

    Chime then gathers her up and rolls to the side standing up grabbing her crossbows off her thigh-high boots as another wave of healing energy envelopes her~ See, good things for good things~ All is well in the world~ "Hmmmm," the pint-sized red-head says outloud "I don't see anyone anymore in the air. Hopefully they made it somewhere safe, but if not I guess on last distraction before I go should help~" with a nod as she focuses on both her crossbows.

    The top most bolt, and the five under each of them begin to glow with a white light as Chime wakes her ARMs up fully and then takes aim with a bright and cheerful smile before pulling the triggers on both crossbows six times, unleashing bolts that turn into lances of light on a fast arc for Sin in a wide field that if not for Sin's size would probably be more effective against a group than a lone target.

    Once her attack is in the air and on it's way, Chime slames both crossbows back into their custom holsters on the boots forcing the strings back to rearm them as she surveys the debris field for anyone not capable of fighting and needing a hand that she might be able to provide.

GS: Chime Isa has attacked Sin with Arrows of Light!
GS: Chime Isa has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

With the mobility bought back by stripping off her armor, Matilda is able to hit the dirt -- or, well, hit the deck -- well in advance of that shockwave, and for a while... she decides to stay there. It's not until Riesenlied raises her voice again that she starts to pull herself back up to her feet, shakily.

"All right," she says, reaching into her pack amid that beacon of light. ... no bullets. She ran herself out in Hyland's retreat. Shit.

Matilda starts to move hastily for the far end of the ship, considering what she even has for options at this point. Putting Freischütz back away, Matilda starts to look for something -- anything -- that she can do to provide some support for those closer to the beast and further from the Fereshte.

She comes up... pret-ty empty. Hastily tying something to a knife, she goes for the extremely last-ditch option of... throwing a knife at a Clysmian as hard as she can.

It's like that sometimes.

GS: Matilda Whitehead has attacked Sin with Thrown Knife!
GS: Matilda Whitehead has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Matilda Whitehead has completed her action.
GS: Sin takes a solid hit from Chime Isa's Arrows of Light for 176 hit points!
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Matilda Whitehead's attack becomes clear!
GS: CRITICAL! Sin guards a hit from Matilda Whitehead's Iron in the Garden for 117 hit points!
GS: Cripple, Jam, and Poison! Statuses applied to Sin!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! Statuses applied to Matilda Whitehead!
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Surprise! What was tied to the knife was a bomb.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

    Sin's fin slams down hard enough to send a shockwave tremor through the ground, nearly throwing Noeline off her feet despite not being anywhere near it; she staggers for purchase, grimacing as she slams her sword into the ground in front of her to try to keep her balance against the way the world lurches. With the confusion around them, both physically and mentally, she can't even tell if the rocking of the ground is real or imagined - but the Sinscales are clearly a present danger, and coming in far too fast for her to cope with.

    Unable to bring her weapon back up to defend against them, the creatures bite and claw at her, tearing at her guard and slipping past it; she grimaces in pain, stifling the cry behind gritted teeth as she reflexively flings the first into a broken-down building. That gives a second time to tear a wide slicing wound down her back; this time, she howls with a mixture of anger and hurt as she sweeps her sword around to cut the offending creature in two.

    More of the swarm-like enemy are coming; Noeline gasps out a rattling breath, grimacing at the sheer number that Sin can produce. "I-- I get it, already--..." she mutters under her breath at the Guardian's roar in her mind, sweeping her arm forwards; from over her shoulders Trouble and Strife both hover forwards, beeping out an urgent string of noises as they begin to provide covering fire. It gives her a chance to regroup, a change to take stock of where she is, where the Fereshte is, where the rest of the townsfolk are--

    --and it gives her a precious moment of time to feel Riesenlied's spirit, closing her eyes with a hiss of relief as the words wash over her, filled with more than just the power of her partner's voice. It offers a moment of calm, and a sense of conviction - and on the back of it she turns, forcing her feet to place one in front of the other, faster each step, in the direction of the Fereshte flying overhead.

    Strife and Trouble are behind her, nimbly hovering backwards to cover her retreat with a curtain of fire; ahead of her the townsfolk are still struggling their way forwards, with many of them doing their best to hold others upright. Rather than stop, she simply sweeps one of the injured men up into her arms and over one shoulder - that brings another deep hiss of pain, but now isn't the time to worry about something like that, and so Noeline does her best to set it aside and stop herself from limping. "--come on!" she urges. "It's just another block! All of you, you can make it!" she adds, propelling a scared girl forwards with a hand on her shoulder and then up towards a descending ladder.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei frowns at Lily's words. Fei, it should be noted, doesn't actually mind being a hypocrite if it means his friends are safe. He doesn't care if it's 'getting old' either. He knows every time he is going to be convinced to keep fighting, but it's important to him that he tries. 'We spend our blood so the weak doesn't have to' is a pretty solid sentiment and unfortunately, it's something that Fei said, so that means anything that RESULTS from it is his fault.

"Lily," Fei says. "If I die, it's not the--"

RUN!! someone shouts in red text and it's not Id, though Id is also screaming at Fei to run.

He looks to Xantia, frowning at her too. He tries the low blow, "Xantia if you die here, what will happen to Filgaia?" LOW BLOW FEI LOW BLOW.

But he can't stop them from doing their thing. Sin is opening its mouth and he can't stop them. God that's a big mouth. He remembers, faintly, a children's tale in which a puppet found themselves in the mouth of a whale. Did it have a happy ending? He doesn't recall.

The Vierge is here. Fei can't really communicate to her vocally but he understands what she's doing. She's doing what she always does. What his other friends do. What all these nuts do. That's what seals the deal for Fei. He is leaving. Now. The longer he stays, the more danger he puts Elly into and he's not going to awkward penguin dance about who runs away first. "Elly..." He says, more to himself than her. "Don't die for us....Please."

And with that he says to his friends. "Okay. I get it. None of us want to leave before the other, we're all very stupid and brave but mostly stupid."

A cross swings by in his mind. In that moment, Lily takes a severe beating from Sin. Fei merely blinked, and now Lily was downed. Fei stares for a moment. "We're wolves right... So we'll move as a pack!"

Fei pulls Xantia onto his back and jogs TOWARDS Lily, hefting HER up as well in one arm. This is not a very good way to run, shouldn't Xantia also be on her feet? What exactly is he planning? Fei tried punching out a dinosaur, the least he can do is carry two bodies.

And then he jumps high into the air.

"This won't be gentle..." he murmurs, extending his one free hand and aiming it towards that open mouth. It's trying something but he, too, has a power of a destroyer. Without Weltall, it might not mean much, but it might mean just enough to get them to safety.

A red eruption of chi energy explodes out of Fei's hand and towards Sin's mouth. It's the same sort of beam that Fei generally uses to ignore obstacles, a kind of energy that Fei only ever seems to pull off when in the direst of straits or when really pissed off. Today it's kind of both.

The blast is dual purpose to. The three of them are sent flying towards the Fereshte. Even if they don't make it, at least they'll be that much more closer to the rendevoux point.

MEANWHILE

Lydia smiles at Riesenlied. "Heh.... I'd rather face the giant whale then worry about drownin' below." Even after the talk with Prissa she's still nervous about it. Man, the look on Prissa's face when she mentions the whale. Maybe she shouldn't mention the whale.

Lydia guides the ship low, maneuvering between buildings. She isn't moving quickly at first to allow for civilians to jump down onto the ship or grab one of the ropes to pull themselves up. Periodically, Lydia portals a civvy onto the top deck directly, but even like this there's only so many they can rescue and because they are carrying people who can be rescued, a difficult decision has to be made.

Lydia looks towards Riesenlied for a moment, wondering if she'll give the call. And then she does.

"Leon! We're booking it! Make sure our enignes stay cool! I don't want the ocean to do it for ya!"

She spins the real hard, driving spikes out from her heels onto the deck so she doesn't easily get knocked free from it as the Fereshte, the shockwave slams into the rear of the ship which only helps catapulting it forward. A man clinging to one of the ropes leading up to the ship is starting to lose his grip. Can he be saved in time or will he tumble to the floor and be left behind to Sin's tender ministrations. At this point, Lydia ain't stopping.

The Fereshte retreats from the area leaving it open to parting shots from Sin.

GS: Fei Fong Wong has activated a Force Action!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked Sin with Man From An Other World!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Fei Fong Wong's attack becomes clear!
GS: Sin takes a solid hit from Fei Fong Wong's Ultra Idstinct for 153 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    Something lost to time. Something no one seems to know about, save the mysterious Symbologist. Something that can't or won't talk, can't be reasoned with, may not even *have* reason.

    And it's beginning to open its impossibly huge maw.

    ... Gwen's brief burst of enthusiam begins to wane. "Guardians, what else did we break when we got carted here?"

    Another piece of architecture comes falling down at Sin's approach. Gwen tries to deflect it away with a choice shot, which manages to at least draw its path away from 'crushing on Gwen's head' to 'crushing on Gwen's raised ARM'. It's a distinction that comes in handy here.

    Out of the corner of her eye, Gwen notices the Fereshte making its retreat. Man, if they're going, maybe she and everyone over here should...

    But who will defend them?

    (BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53Fbd1--nz8 )

    "'Ey! Giant whale! Got somethin' for ya! A nice postcard from Filgaia!" Gwen's ARM feeds now into her own body heat, her life energy, making those foolhardy words dip in forced enthusiasm with each charging pulse that runs through and down the plated armor of her arm. "You stink, your mom stinks, n' I bet your dad was a complete ass! You probably can't even hear what I'm sayin', you're that stupid! And..." Man, her insulting skills have *tanked hard* since she left Little Twister. She was a lot better at this!

    But her ARM is done loading now, thankfully, "Nggg-gh!!' Forcing her right palm upwards, Gwen falls into a kneeling position. She aims. "GHH!" A bright pulse of light issues from the Mockingbird, straight towards Sin's maw.

    She pants, recovering from the recoil that pressed her uncomfortably against the pavement. That was clearly her last shot.

    Time for go. But, clearly, Leo's here for the long haul. As Skylr shows, if Leo doesn't budge, the others won't, either.

    Spotting Mercedes running up to them, Gwen looks to Leo. "Okay, she's with you guys, let's get her t'safety!"

     .... is she going to have to haul him away

     oh guardians, she probably will

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

The greatest new Gear weapon of Solaris - a technological novelty - a new direction that has not been pioneered until years ago -

Even it is nearly useless against Sin. This is perhaps not the fault of these silent engineers and designers. You can make the most wonderful assault rifle in the world yet fail to collapse a mountain with it. Some things must be made to suit to purpose.

Loren says that he's detecting gravitational lensing. This thing controls gravity at that level of strength? Elly thinks with a queasy sickness. Loren's resolve rolls out, rolls up her spine. Vierge is reinforced, but -

No, Loren, she thinks.

Elly's head tilts forwards. She swallows, and has already begun to execute upon what seems to her like what must happen now, in the face of this thing. It is not that she wants it to but it feels as if she has come to the abrupt final chords and all that is left is to take a bow in this play. The AERODs out there twist round - the trio that were harrying Sin become a Duo, spiralling around as they move back towards Vierge, the one that the Sin-spawn struck self-immolating as Solaris anti-tamper mechanisms come into effect. The two near Xantia and Fei dip down low, humming with a curiously angelic sound as they hover.

I don't want to do this, Elly thinks, but there isn't another choice. She has some things at her disposal, and, she thinks - if I - I can probably wound it, especially if it's opening its mouth -

As she deactivates the primary power-latch on the Gear's hatch, she half-turns her head. "Tabitha," she begins, thinking to herself: You don't deserve this. But before she can complete her sentence, open the hatch, and let Tabitha get sucked out into the void - a better chance than what Elly has miserably seen as the only way to protect what she loves -

She feels Fei say something. Hears it through the AERODs. Maybe.

...

Something else occurs to her. Her head half-turns. "Can you -"

-=-=-=-

The Ether Amp in Vierge shifts control.

The rest of Vierge, now - that's a different story. The glittering angel of the skies pivots round, jostling violently as the combined efforts of its residents turn in a different direction. The Aerods bobble violently but the five survivors come together and the Gear begins to lurch forwards. Approaching the enemy. Accelerating, in fact.

<<Loren - thank you,>> Elly tells him.

The lancing lights arc outwards. They take a few shots to find the range, given their stationkeeping, but only a few - a steady barrage on a given point towards the side of that mouth, the 'upper lip' towards the 'back.' Vierge charges towards this chosen point, the hideous gravity distortions at least buffered. Elly leans forwards in her seat.

That one singular point - weakened over and over -

Vierge's hand tightens on the combat rod.

<<... I don't know if the frame can handle it. Take care of the rest,>> Elly tells Loren.

GS: Elhaym van Houten has activated a Force Action!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has attacked Sin with AERODS - Focused Fire!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has completed her action.
GS: Sin takes a solid hit from Elhaym van Houten's AERODS - Focused Fire for 119 hit points!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has activated a Force Action!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has activated a Force Action!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has spent 2 Combo on Gatling, including 1 on Gatling!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has attacked Sin with Special Delivery!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Sin has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbLQhzsJG0A

A blade of ice is driven into Sin's scales and hide -- and yet, the creature is only delayed. Despite their efforts, it advances slowly. It lifts into the air, the earth itself groaning as it begins to fly in the face of all logic and physics.

The force of gravity that it commands compresses it. It lefts anyways; even as parts of its stone-like hide bulge and crack under Catenna's spells. A long red blade of energy slams into the armored hide near the mouth; Xantia's blade bites in, shuddering, and then that sword is forced backward. Blades of wind slam into the hide, and shatter. It is not stopped, as it begins to float in the air. The maelstrom of shattered debris has grown -- it is pulling in pieces of the harbor, now. Chunks of the seawall rip free, and rise to join it.

A massive spike of ice flies up -- and slams into the underside of Sin's mouth. It pierces for a moment -- and then it rips free, tearing away from the creature. It spins up into the maelstrom over Sin's body. The crossbow bolts that Chime fires slam in, one after the other, and then get yanked away. Matilda's knife twists, but it slams -- seemingly without effect -- and lodges in between two of the larger armored plates on its hide. Then, Fei's blast slams into its mouth. Finally, the AERODs rain down into it -- slamming into those huge, stone-covered lips. Chips of its hide rain down to the ground below. The mouth closes, for a moment -- and then reopens.

Many others steel themselves -- or flee. The city is a wreck. The attacks of Sin, thus far, have caused even more buildings to shatter apart. As Elvis approaches the gateway he left, the floodgate crumbles down before him. There are screams of panic throughout the city, as people beseech and call out to the Goddess.

The ground is littered with debris -- debris that rained from the sky, as well as the shattered husks of Sinscales, many burning away under the blade of Lily Keil.

It is a frightful field of death, desolation, and destruction that they navigate through. The city looks scarcely like it did before.

The skies are little better. Pieces of debris streak out in the wave of the gravitational shockwave. A dresser shatters against the hull of the Fereshte, bouncing away to the city below. Citizens inside cry out.

"On it!" Leon calls back to Lydia, even as the Fereshte shakes under his very feet. He reaches out, grasping tightly on his spanner. He looks back over his shoulder; his insides turn to jelly, as he gets a look at the full form of Sin, flying high.

Which is when Matilda's bomb explodes. The blast sends Sinscales flying. The creature's head jerks, not having expected that. It starts to lower its head back down, but that proves to be a beacon -- as dozens of cannon shots, from the direction of the sea, begin to slam into the back of the Clysmian. In the distance, the blue and red sails of Meribia's fleet can be seen -- and at the head of them stands the Dragonmaster.

"Keep firing!" Ghaleon shouts, before he holds a hand up.

Immense balls of flame form, and then slam down into Sin from above. They strike, one after the other. The cannon shots and the fireballs largely bounce off; Sin is wreathed in smoke, and yet even those fail to fully breach the armor.

Which is when Ghaleon hears a lurch to the side. "What--"

And one of the warships suddenly lurches into the sky, followed by a second. Men and women scream as they fall, and then get yanked away -- joining the maelstrom. The ship that Ghaleon rides on begins to tilt upward, from the bow, and then the Dragonmaster's eyes narrow. He slams his hands down on the deck, and as the ship lifts out of the water--

--it vanishes in a blink of light. Other warships begin to reverse course, turning to move away from Sin. The cannon fire ceases. The last coil of smoke wafts away. Sin looks down, mouth opening.

GS: Sin takes 8 damage from Poison!
GS: Sin has completed its action.
GS: Sin takes a solid hit from Gwen Whitlock's Special Delivery for 138 hit points!
DC: 3 turns have elapsed in the battle against Sin! 2 turns remain!
GS: Sin has attacked Sin with The End of All Civilization!
GS: Sin has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Sin takes 7 damage from Poison!
GS: Sin has completed its action.
GS: Sin takes a solid hit from Sin's The End of All Civilization for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield! Statuses applied to Sin!
GS: Cover! Statuses applied to Sin!
GS: Sin takes 10 damage from Poison!
GS: Sin has completed its action.
DC: 4 turns have elapsed in the battle against Sin! 1 turns remain!
<Pose Tracker> Sin has posed.

Sin floats, now, fully above Azado. The shattered remains of ships and a city swirl in a spiral pattern above the creature. Its mouth is a yawning void, spilling with white energy that crackles an unnatural black at the edges. When it opens its mouth fully, there is a shudder through the air. It rides out over all of them -- it creates a still over the whole of the city of Azado.

Everything falls quiet.

The panicked screams of people inside the city quiet. The crews of the Fereshte and Tzadkiel wait with tentative nervousness. The murmurs and cries of the crews of the Meribian fleet, their rescue aborted, draw to a stop.

The clouds all blow backward, until the light of the Blue Star and the more distant stars is shining down on the scene. The clouds form a circle about the creature.

And then there is a SCREAM.

A massive beam of gravitational force slams down into the middle of Azado. It blasts into the ground, and then a white blast of light explodes out into the sky. Chunks of ground and building are hurled into the sky; the Fereshte is pelted with pieces of city thrown upward. The Tzadkiel finds an entire manor horse thrown into its starboard side. A tsunami flies away from Sin, out to sea.

The ships are bowled over; the fleet capsizes, and the city rumbles, quakes, and trembles.

And then a gaping hole collapses in the middle. The way to Azado's sewers is opened because of a wound torn into the very land. Water pours down into catacombs and tunnels revealed to the light of day. It falls in rivers and waterfalls. The flash clears.

And Sin floats over the city. Chunks of buildings are torn away -- and join the Maelstrom. The Goddess Althena is nowhere to be seen -- her Dragonmaster forced away, her fleet shattered. The Guardians sob and whimper.

The one god that Azado can see floats over them, silent in the face of the screams and sobs that begin to echo through a dying city.

GS: Sin has activated a Force Action!
GS: Sin has spent 3 Combo on Link, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Sin has attacked Mihaya with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked Riesenlied with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked Catenna with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked Elvis with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked Xantia with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked Skylr Paer with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked White Knight Leo with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked Seraph Lanval with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked Rosaline Calice with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked Layna Manydays with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked Mercedes Hartley with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked Loren Voss with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked Lily Keil with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked Chime Isa with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked Matilda Whitehead with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked Fei Fong Wong with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked Noeline with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has attacked Elhaym van Houten with Imminent Destruction!
GS: Sin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has launched an attack Link!
GS: Sin has activated a Force Action!
GS: Catenna takes a glancing hit from Sin's Imminent Destruction for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to Catenna!
GS: Riesenlied takes a solid hit from Sin's Imminent Destruction for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to Riesenlied!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has lost 1 Combo!
DC: MISS! Elhaym van Houten completely evades Imminent Destruction from Sin!
GS: Noeline takes a solid hit from Sin's Imminent Destruction for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to Noeline!
GS: Mihaya has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has lost 1 Combo!
DC: MISS! Mihaya completely evades Imminent Destruction from Sin!
GS: Layna Manydays has activated a Force Action!
GS: Layna Manydays takes a glancing hit from Sin's Imminent Destruction for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to Layna Manydays!
GS: Matilda Whitehead takes a glancing hit from Sin's Imminent Destruction for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to Matilda Whitehead!
GS: Loren Voss guards a hit from Sin's Imminent Destruction for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to Loren Voss!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has lost 1 Combo!
DC: MISS! Gwen Whitlock completely evades Imminent Destruction from Sin!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Sin's Imminent Destruction for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to White Knight Leo!
GS: Mercedes Hartley takes a glancing hit from Sin's Imminent Destruction for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to Mercedes Hartley!
GS: Chime Isa takes a glancing hit from Sin's Imminent Destruction for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to Chime Isa!
GS: Lily Keil critically Guards a hit from Sin's Imminent Destruction for 0 hit points!
GS: Lily Keil has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Fei Fong Wong guards a hit from Sin's Imminent Destruction for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to Fei Fong Wong!
GS: Skylr Paer guards a hit from Sin's Imminent Destruction for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to Skylr Paer!
GS: Skylr Paer heals Elvis! He gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Elvis enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Elvis has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Skylr Paer has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Xantia critically Guards a hit from Sin's Imminent Destruction for 0 hit points!
GS: Xantia has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Lanval has activated a Force Action!
GS: Seraph Lanval takes a solid hit from Sin's Imminent Destruction for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to Seraph Lanval!
GS: Sin has spent 5 Combo on Gatling, including 4 on Gatling!
GS: Sin has attacked Mihaya with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked Riesenlied with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked Catenna with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked Elvis with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked Xantia with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked Skylr Paer with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked White Knight Leo with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked Seraph Lanval with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked Rosaline Calice with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked Layna Manydays with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked Mercedes Hartley with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked Loren Voss with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked Lily Keil with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked Chime Isa with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked Matilda Whitehead with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked Fei Fong Wong with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked Noeline with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Sin has attacked Elhaym van Houten with Giga-Graviton!
GS: Riesenlied guards a hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 189 hit points!
GS: Riesenlied enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: CRITICAL! Chime Isa takes a solid hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 589 hit points!
GS: Chime Isa enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Chime Isa has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
GS: Mihaya takes a glancing hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 158 hit points!
GS: Mihaya enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Catenna takes a solid hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 340 hit points!
GS: Mercedes Hartley has activated a Force Action!
GS: Layna Manydays takes a glancing hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 163 hit points!
GS: Mercedes Hartley takes a glancing hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 168 hit points!
GS: Lily Keil takes a solid hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 318 hit points!
GS: Lily Keil enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Gwen Whitlock guards a hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 195 hit points!
GS: Elvis takes a solid hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 314 hit points!
GS: Seraph Lanval takes a glancing hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 169 hit points!
GS: Xantia guards a hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 193 hit points!
GS: Xantia enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a solid hit from Sin's Imminent Destruction for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to Rosaline Calice!
GS: Riesenlied used the Force Action Protect! She takes Sin's attack on Noeline on herself!
GS: Riesenlied has activated a Force Action!
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a solid hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 353 hit points!
GS: Rosaline Calice has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
GS: Elvis guards a hit from Sin's Imminent Destruction for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to Elvis!
GS: Loren Voss guards a hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 442 hit points!
GS: Loren Voss enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Riesenlied takes a solid hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 322 hit points!
GS: Riesenlied enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Matilda Whitehead takes a glancing hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 164 hit points!
GS: Matilda Whitehead enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Skylr Paer guards a hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 198 hit points!
DC: 5 turns have elapsed in the battle against Sin! No turns remain! Time has expired! The battle is over!
GS: Fei Fong Wong guards a hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 192 hit points!
GS: Fei Fong Wong enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: White Knight Leo has activated a Force Action!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 198 hit points!
GS: Elhaym van Houten takes a solid hit from Sin's Giga-Graviton for 652 hit points!
GS: Elhaym van Houten enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

    Riesenlied's expression hitches as she blanches when Noeline is struck by the Sinscales, and she nearly kips over the side as she expresses, "Noeline--!!" and gawks for a moment. That's when she notices the man struggling, whispering, "You're all right--"

    She does a foolish thing and spreads her tattered, non-flightworthy wings and floats down the rope to take hold of him, pulling him up gently along with her. "Stay with me! You'll be okay!"

    Back onboard, she looks towards Matilda as she retreats towards the back and hucks that knife of hers. She looks to Leon and expresses, "Please, hang in there, Leon..." she gestures towards Dog to keep him company, drawing it to a genteel hug for a moment. "It's okay... Lily will be okay, just you wait. I'll bring them all back safely."

    She hears the roar of cannon fire, however, from the direction of the ocean. "Who...?" It-- doesn't last long, however; no amount of artillery was going to stop this menace, and the creature's mouth...

    ... it opens.

    It floats above them, and there is a stillness as she exclaims, "H--hard bank to th--"

    That SCREAM is heard, echoing throughout her very mind.

    The very engines of the Feresthe start to burst once more as it starts to tither and kip towards the hole below Azado, broken apart by the wound torn into the very land. It is only by nature of luck that the Feresthe avoids complete annihilation.

    Riese herself is hurtled towards one side and strikes herself hard against the side of the ship; there's a choked burst of pain as she seizes her hand out towards Noeline to cling onto her fingers together as the ship rapidly loses altitude.

    She isn't certain where they'll end up, or what they'll face next, but...

    "... don't... leave me..." she whispers. "As long as you're with me..."

    She closes her eyes, feeling fatigue wash over her.

    "I won't be afraid..."

GS: Sin enters a Counter stance!
GS: Sin has attacked Fei Fong Wong with Do a Barrel Roll! Sinny!!
<Pose Tracker> Mihaya has posed.

 At this point Mihaya knows what is coming. Sin rarely spent that much effort attacking anywhere, but when it did... there were rarely survivors to tell the tale. The fact that there's some sort of mine or underground bunker here meant that there was a chance for people to escape... but they are running out of time.

 The elf looks towards the horrible form of the monster that is working to destroy the city, and allows another few tears to fall. Knowing that ultimately, there is nothing left to do but run. You can live to fight another day, but taking a stand before this beast means lying down and becoming nothing. And accomplishing nothing.

 Mihaya sadly knows that better than most.

 And the monster is coming. As Sin rises above the city, the elf looks upwards for a moment, recognizing that the end is here. The monster will destroy everything here, and very soon there will be nothing left. She's called out for people to run. All that is left is to do the same herself.

 There are far too many people left in the city. Far too many innocent souls that will be lost.

 There's nothing left to do but run towards the underground area that Elvis had indicated. The ground is beginning to buckle underneath them, the surging gravity ripping and tearing at the earth and exposing the sewers down below. And people are being torn into the air, whirled into the crushing gravity maw of the beast up above.

 Mihaya does what she can - Shiva raises one hand and unleashes most of her energy, a blizzard of snow erupting into the air and helping to cushion the fall of those who plummet downwards into the depths below. Mihaya leaps from one piece of debris to the next, before the chunk of road she is standing on rips away and tumbles down into the abyss.

 Her Aeon catches her, helping to guide her down into the darkened depths below. The two land lightly on the ground, the elf sliding to the ground and turning to look at her summon - her old ally from long ago.

 Putting both of her hands together in an opposing pattern, the symbologist makes the traditional symbol of prayer to Yevon and bows deeply. The Queen of Frost inclines her head one last time, and vanishes into a blizzard of ice crystals, which quickly begin to melt in the streams of water running down into the sewers below Azado.

 "...now I guess I need to figure out where I am..." Down in the possibly hellion infested, almost CERTAINLY Sinspawn infested sewers of this city. It seemed this day wasn't over by a long shot...

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"I have been much, much better," Catenna confesses weakly to Layna as she continues to scamper away from Sin as fast as her (thankfully long) legs will carry her.

Lanval and Rosaline help as best they can. She takes the gourd and drinks quickly, managing not to cough any up as she runs. The spell from Rosaline shimmers across her, and the Moon Shaman can't even take a moment to think about whether Granas really is coming to her aid here or if it's something else. The magic does its work either way. She breathes a little easier, continuing to run. "The creature is old even by the tell of the Guardians," she breathes. "Even all of us together could not defeat it."

Even Meribia's fleet cannot hope to. Catenna stares on as the vast monstrosity easily repels the distant shapes of ships in the seas beyond --

And then gasps in horror as the monstrosity takes to the air, surrounded by the vortex of the destruction it has wrought. The clouds themselves push away. What is coming is exactly as Catenna foretold: Far beyond any of them. The entire city seems to hold its breath with anticipation as the heavens open up, the serenity of the Blue Star almost a mocking counterpoint to what Catenna is sure to follow.

And then Sin proceeds to anihilate what appears to be an entire city.

Catenna can't even say anything. The force of gravity crushes everything around her. The earth itself explodes and buckles and compresses beneath a gravitational anomaly a million times greater than she could even conceive of - than she would ever wish to conceive of. She simply vanishes into the destruction, buildings compressing and erupting around her and hiding her from sight even as she's in the process of holding out her hands.








    the moon. the tide. the water.



            these things exist together.



all that exists is interwoven.







Water pours down into the exposed catacomb below. Pieces of debris are carried along with its inexorable cascade. Chunks of wood, chunks of building. Bodies. Most of the debris is floating upwards to join the vortex slowly churning around the hovering god.

One piece of debris is not. It is a large wooden beam that looks like it was once part of a door.

Catenna is clinging to it with the last ounce of her strength - and the last thread of her consciousness. Her hair fans out across the water like a wet black cape. An ugly smear of blood seeps across the water behind her. She cannot possibly exert the power of gravity to go against Sin's incredible vortex.

She cannot, because it isn't her. It is the tiny white spark sitting at the tip of the wooden slab. Staring at Catenna with intent focus, the Owlet itself exerts its own tiny little gravitational bubble - just enough to keep Catenna from being sucked into the vortex and lost forever.

Soon, the Moon Shaman and the Owlet slip over the edge of a waterfall and vanish into the caverns below.

GS: Fei Fong Wong critically Guards a hit from Sin's Do a Barrel Roll! Sinny! for 36 hit points!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Sin has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

    The attempt to load the villagers onto the ship is a frantic, confused thing - Noeline less helps them up the ladders and more pushes them, giving up on encouragement in favour of pure speed and a little force. Her vision blurs as she does so, her shoulders and back screaming at her where a Sinscale dragged its blades down her skin; she can feel the bleeding, feel an inability to pull her metal back to her without a little in the way of rest, but still she pushes on. As Lily so eloquently put it, a little blood doesn't mean much in the long run, right?

    She manages to shove the last aboard just as the air around them stills; a sick foreboding rises in her throat, but she still hauls herself the last couple of rungs anyway. Whatever it might be that Sin chooses to do, it's not as if there'd be a lot of getting away from it, not in these confines. "--Riese--" she calls--

    --and the air around them explodes with force and fear and the scream of the giant, impossible creature. Noeline yells back against it, her vision white as she instinctively grasps for Riesenlied's hand. She finds it - but at the cost of her body slamming against a portion of the ship, letting out a painful cry and recognizing Riese's next to her. That in itself is enough for her to grasp for the other metal demon, pulling her into an embrace.

    When she risks opening an eye - when she's finally able to regain her vision, swimming uncertainly as it is - she barely has time to realize that the ship is listing in a way no ship ever should, drifting downwards into the hole that now makes up most of Azado. Her legs don't seem to want to move, her strength spent, but she can at least tug Riesenlied moe fully against her, her other arm grasping for a rope to loop it around her wrist.

    "--I'm here-- I'm here. I'm not going anywhere. I promise..." she mutters privately, and screws her eyes shut. Her consciousness wavering, it's all she can do to suck in another breath. "I promise."

<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Rosaline continues to run, as nimble as she is desperate, along with the small group of friends she still remains close to. But she sees them, in the distance, ships that might represent a hope for this city. The hope the rest of them never could be. They're only human, after all.

But then her scream is drowned out as a massive, city-wounding explosion tosses her away like a ragdoll, and soon she has lost all sense of gravity. The maelstrom, or at least its orbit, has snatched her. She flails in the air, watching powerless as those ships full of hope are crushed along with most of the city. She looks down, reaching a clawed hand out but unable to even catch sight of her friends as she is flung an entire city block away.

Well. This is it. The Apocalypse.

The good(?) news is that, just then, a piece of debris hits her, knocking her right out of the gravity field, and consciousness besides.

The last thing she feels, before she completely faints, is her body hitting water.

<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    'Two minutes, Lord Leo!' The wind whips past Leo's head, carrying with it the voice of one of the Destiny's officer-magi. The woman is panicked. Leo doesn't have to imagine why--he sees it, looming before him. 'Dragonmaster Ghaleon and his fleet are inbound as well!'

    "Althena be praised," Leo whispers. Off in the sea, past the maelstrom, he can see bits of blue and red. He doesn't have to look too hard to see which one is carrying the Dragonmaster. For the first time since this monstrosity appeard, Leo feels something resembling hope.

    It's dashed in short order. The thing turns its attentio nto the fleet. "NO!" Leo screams. All he can do is watch as ships are plucked out of the water, smashed to bits, and added to the maelstrom. The Dragonmaster's nearly joins them--and when Ghaleon decides discretion is the order of the day, Leo stares at the empty space where that ship once sat. "Althena," Leo whispers. "No." They couldn't even scratch it.

    Sin screams. The world bends and warps, compressing along an axis that doesn't match the pull of Lunar's gravity. That horrible beam passes overhead, and where it passes, things cease to exist. Leo is plucked off his feet, thrown through the air, slammed into chunks of rubble that were once buildings. His body ragdolls; Althena's power is perhaps the only thing that keeps him from being killed, shattered by repeated impacts. He lands in the mud at the edge of the crater. Water flows around him, and as it passes over him, it turns bright red. For a moment, it looks as though one of Althena's champions has met his end at the hands of this beast.

    Then Leo rises, or tries to. "Guardswoman," Leo croaks out. He doesn't have to look to know there's no one left. He glances around for Skylr, catches sight of her, and tries to look as authoritative as he can when sporting several bloody head wounds. "Into the sewers. Now." Leo sinks to the ground, and lets the water carry him. Mercifully, he loses consciousness shortly after.

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Matilda -- having spent a lot of time getting herself as much cover as possible, more or less from the get-go -- is already in the 'duck and cover on the Fereshte' stage of her retreat; when the shockwave comes, she's ready -- though the intense motion of the Fereshte itself rattles her *all* the way around and very resoundingly rings her bell.

She doesn't have anyone to reach out to, the way Riesenlied does. Kaguya's not here.

... She stays quiet, hugging her knees on the Fereshte, waiting for the world to stop spinning. She doesn't even look out toward the catastrophe engulfing Azado itself, as much as she might feel like she should; the first priority is to stay in as safe a position as possible.

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

The sharp-eyed might notice a piece of something that has not been sucked into the vortex. It's hovering just over the ruins of Azado, just outside the battle itself, at a similar altitude - but it doesn't seem to be attacking. In fact it's floating just over where a high tower used to be.

It's not debris. It's a figure wrapped in conspicuous scarlet robes.

As Sin glides ominously over the ruined remnants of what was once a proud city but is now little more than a ravaged wound in Lunar itself, Neriah looks on, not so much hovering as she is literally standing on the air itself. She casually flicks her head, her dark curls rippling in the wind thrown up by that ever-whirling vortex of souls and gravity.

She does not join the fight. Quiet, she simply watches it all unfold - the destruction, the punishment of some who might be called her friends.

Riesenlied is out there. Riesenlied and everyone on the Fereshte. Neriah still doesn't raise a hand to help or to harm. She does nothing to rescue the innocent nor punish the guilty.

She just raises her eyebrows and looks on with a slow nod. "So that's that, then," she muses. "This little planet certainly has some interesting things living on it. And I think I've learned a few things. I almost wish my dubiously-anchored colleague had been here to take a few notes."

Neriah shrugs and waves one hand in the air. "Ah well. I've got places to be, people to murder."

A shadow flickers around Neriah, and she rapidly folds in on herself before vanishing in a dark swirl, swallowed up by open air.

<Pose Tracker> Elvis has posed.

Elvis makes his way toward that bulkhead, ready to help others escape. A collapse in a nearby structure would have to disagree on that, as it comes down right in front of it. "DAMN!" he shouts, and moves to begin clearing it as quickly as possible-- the large chunks of building are no match for his immense POWER.

Know what else has immense POWER?

The creature that is now flying. Elvis can do little but watch while he clears the entrance has an entire warfleet at sea attempts to rebuke the monstrosity, and is obliterated with little effort. One ship is smart, and uses magic to teleport.

And the creature, in a fit of anger, retaliates on the city, orbital cannon style.

"Oh... this was a severe miscalculation."

He has almost no time to strike the earth and create craggy barrier to block the attack. It does little to reflect the unbridled force this creature unleashes. When the screaming light fades, Elvis is a good fifty feet away, having been crushed into a pile of rubble.

"Ghk..." is all he can let out, barely climbing his way out. He is horribly torn up and bloodied, and his breathing is strained, bit still somehow alive! "Retreat..." is grunted out, and the massive hold now in the center of this Human city is the best bet it seems.

His mind is compromised, in pain and unable to process these events properly. He is vulnerable. The man takes a few jumps downward, each causing pain on impact, and he is gone.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    Lanval's decision to turn back and run alongside Catenna, Layna, and Rosaline rewards him by never getting to see the true terror of what builds behind him. He's too afraid to look back - he has to instead accept what Catenna's saying.
     "We caaaaan't...?" Lanval struggles to accept that reality, but there are others screaming the same thing. Others moving to get away. The power bears down upon him - he can feel it. He staggers about that much faster, ambling much more coherently in a direction that is the most fitting in which to befit the concept of 'away.' It takes him a time to figure out that this is not entirely of his own power, as he isn't escaping that upswell of gravitational power completely. He flails almost cartoonishly under its power... and then, destruction.
     Just in time to watch Rosaline be struck by the floating debris picked up by the maelstrom.
     "Roshaliiiine!" He calls as she's about to be flung a whole city block away (well, he is too). He can't call Catenna's name, because that precious block of time is taken up by a Seraphic Arte incantation as he draws upon the water present. His eyes open, lips pressed tight as he fights the forces that are--
     To swing by, envelop those who might yet be on a crash course with oblivion, and sweep them closer with him as he, too, weightlessly tumbles across what was once Azado. Another sweeping wave of water tries to bring those he can together with him, but he does not avert the flow of where water is naturally moving to pool.
     Towards the depths, where bubbles will soon float out to catch.

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

"...Aye. Aye, lass." Layna replies with a nod toward Catenna. What were they before this creature? Had it even been phased by anything they brought against it?

There were some things that were beyond any of them. This...this was one of those things.

Even the fleet of Althena's Guard - which, for once, she had been glad to see - was as nothing before it.

And then, there's a terrible scream. The force collides into the center of Azado, and everything goes white. The ground shakes. The sheer power and shockwave of it knocks Layna clear off her feet, sending her flying through the air. The green aura that had been maintained around her shatters like glass against the sheer power brought against her, dispersing into the ether, as she finally lands...on a bubble provided by Lanval.

"...Thanks, buddy." She says with a laugh. This has been the most relieving thing that's happened in the last...well, she's not entirely sure how long this madness has lasted. It felt like an eternity.

"...Let's go. Nothin' left to do but get outta here..." Layna says, staring into the hole that had opened up.

She wasn't sure what was waiting for them in there, but it was a hell of a lot better than staying up above with THAT hanging around.

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

Elly can see ships break apart in the corner of her vision. Some part of her is not surprised because they built these ships with wood, but they are local experts - their tactics are failing, with violent destruction, despite repeated efforts. She feels the heart-stopping pressure of Sin's presence, both metaphysical and literal in the form of gravity, however buffered by the works of Tabitha deVriese's anomalous Ether.

Which is currently driving Vierge's Ether amp to near collapse.

The AERODs flit back to Vierge, bobbling desperately, one of them exhausting its emergency war fuel reserve to make it through the hideous distortions. These are objects that more or less ignore gravity completely - and yet in the face of Sin's overwhelming might they struggle! Elly thrusts the rod forwards -

Sin's mouth closes on Vierge's battle rod. Then it opens again. The shockwave ripples out --

Several things happen in Vierge in close succession. The Gear people in Solaris would no doubt find these results very interesting. But the long and the short of it is that her erstwhile ally protects THEM from the gravitational force... and that Vierge is spared being ripped apart by tidal forces. But this effect is amplified until the Ether amp abruptly and violently fails.

The shearing force suddenly vaporizes Vierge's right arm into a flinder of flashing pink metal, the rod no doubt embedding itself somewhere within the horrid monster - the rod was made for these things, the arm was not. The mechanicals of the shoulder components of Vierge are ripped asunder too, its right 'breast' torn apart with a shower of sparks. The storm fades and when quiet returns Elly looks away from screens hideously ajangle with warning signals and action alerts and six different echoes into...

The open space on the side of the cockpit. The wind tugs at her hair.

Elly trembles but there is still a resolve there. She speaks into the microphone. "Loren," she says. "If you can hear me. The AERODs are still operational."

"... I'm going to keep fighting. I'll be ejecting deVriese - please intercept her if you can. ... She'll have a better chance this way."

How this act is done will remain a mystery for the ages. Tabitha may have her own accounts later, but sure enough a person who is not Elly is expelled from Vierge up on a high parabolic arc, hopefully far enough away to avoid smashing into anything and dying. The maimed Gear starts to move again, its thrusters flickering, when -

To be honest, Elly had expected this would happen. She sucks in the ambient humidity of the ocean air, making a feeble replacement for her breached cockpit with ice. She tilts her head down -

Vierge is whipped into the shockstream of the beam, slammed downwards. Elly stares dead ahead at the cameras and thinks to herself: i won't die -- Vierge's thrusters fire with violent enthusiasm, slowing her descent, leading to an impact that breaches her ice barrier - then the thrusters on the starboard side all fail at once and the last time Vierge is seen clearly is spinning out of control, down into the abyss.

-=-=-=-

Elly is almost, but not quite, as done as that. Struggling with her entire body against the dying controls of the Gear, she can see, feel, the flickering shape of the Fereshte coming up with horrifying speed. She can do this, she tells herself, she can do this she can do this SHE CAN DO IT --

Vierge abruptly appears and smashes into the ground near but not in or on the Fereshte, hard enough that the right leg also ruptures violently, pink armor shrapnel rising up in dull speed. Elly herself swings forwards, feeling her spine shriek in pain as the reactor just gives up in disgust and powers down.

Her heart slams viciously into her chest.

Her eyes shut.

Fei, she thinks. I managed...

to do it...!

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    .....

    ..............

    She coughs.

    She breathes.

    Yet again, she's alive.

    But did anyone else make it? People had to; if she survived, others must've.

    She hears Leo's voice, commanding someone to seek shelter. Maybe that Guardswoman? The other young woman who came to them seeking help? Water shifts.

    Open your eyes. It's time to move.

    Dirt and salty mud shift, and Gwen rises, the ocean water making every wound in every nook and cranny scream like fire.

    Well, at least those Guardians didn't reveal themselves for nothing. .... Thank Guardians Gulliver is safe in a stall where the Fiends started off on their journey, probably munching away on various feed with gusto. It's a small, positive thought, and Gwen treasures it for the resolve it feeds her.

    Grunting as she gets herself from the mud, Gwen wades over, following the trail of blood to where Leo lies. As if on autopilot, she tries to lift him. Once, twice. He has to survive. If he doesn't, the other Guard might collapse in on themselves.

    But why, asks a dour, bitter part of the courier, should that be her problem? Hiro, Lucia, and the others could be lying unconscious someplace, in need of her help.
    
    Gwen's lips thin. She only has enough strength to get one person to safety.

    .... oh yeah, and she's kinda really weak and tired, and her ARM's about to give out. "Hey, uh." She looks to Mercedes and Skylr with a pleading look. "Could ya help me get him to safety, before that thing fires again? Between the three of us, it should be real easy enough to get him underground."

    Especially due to the new hole made there.

    Skylr's earlier look had said a lot to Gwen. He may be bull-headed, unable to see the truth of things, and a real pain in the ass to deal with when he's hot on the Fiends' trail, but in the end, she'd rather have him be one of the ones leading the charge.

    She gives the two still conscious a wide grin. "Everything'll be fine, you'll see!"

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

"Um." Lydia says. "Um." Lydia says. "It's still coming for us. Um. It's...it's gonna...oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck--!"

Hammer looksk up through a window. He lowers his head. He is still terrified beyond recourse, but it's now too late to do anything about it. He accepts it.

Lydia tightens her grip agianst the wheel, spinning the wheel. "Leon!! We're not gonna make it! HIT THE DECK!" It's the only chance they have, but Lydia holds onto the wheel anyway, because that's her job. That's the job of a captain, but even then she's thrown off the side of the ship, barely grabbing onto the edge of the vehicle, but no the wheel is spinning wildly out of control and that's not helping matters..

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cvSK5qT9hs

Lydia sees the airship, as it starts its entirely uncontrolled descent into the sewer tilt in her direction. Lydia watches this as hope fades from her. The Guardians will understand, right? Even they must be afraid right now. "...But I just fixed it." For some reason her mind fixates on that. "I just...I just got it to work again...! I just want to fly, damn it... I just want to fly!!"

Moments before Sin's fateful attack, Fei lands on the ship with Xantia and Lily, setting the former down from his back and, well, he takes a long look at Lily's face and then away, setting her down too. "Sorry." He says. "As usual...I can't protect anyone."

And then he turns to look towards Sin and Vierge. He says, not looking at Lily, but certainly talking to her, talking to Xantia.

"You want power, Lily, and Xantia wants her memories, but I've never found those qualities to bring happiness...." He doesn't glance back. "...Or victory. Memory will not help you find yourself, and power..." His eyes narrow faintly. "...Well, there's always a bigger fish. Some things cannot be destroyed with power."

Only then does he look back to Xantia and Lily. "The only thing that ever felt like a victory to me..."

He looks over towards Vierge as it battles. As it's arm is torn asunder. As the power that did THAT is now expanding towards THEM. Perhaps surprisingly, he does not scream in terror, or howl with grief. He just watches what may be the Vierge's last moments with a tired kind of acceptance, resignation even, that what will be...will be.

Elly does not tell him to live, Elly tells herself she'll live.

For a moment, something surprising happens. And a moment after that, another surprising thing happens. The first is Vierge isn't eradicated. Thank god for Solarian engineering.

The second is the Vierge actually crashing into the FERESHTE. Of course, at this moment, that gravity swell is starting to hit the ship and it's starting to tilt as it tumbles towards the Sewer.

Something taps into an unusual power as he rushes towards the Vierge.

The Fereshte isn't falling into the sewer anymore. Something is holding it afloat. Did one of the generators turn back on? Fei's aura continues to pulse as he rips open the cockpit door of the Vierge. He is rushing, but he is calm.

"The only thing that ever felt like a victory, that felt important to me at all...was you."

And those are his last words as Fei steps into the Vierge, tightly and desperately wrapping his arms around Elly because that's all he has time to do--

--before that one generator? Or whatever it was fails and the Fereshte

--does a barrel roll--

as it tumbles into the abyss.

(The Sewer).

<Pose Tracker> Skylr Paer has posed.

      She's tired. It's been awhile, since this sort of fight was joined by Skylr, and she's tired. The ground itself is horrid. The sky is no better. She slowly rubs her eyes as she struggles to her feet one more time. She chokes on something, the maelstrom ... as Sin moves into the city. It's bile, pure and simple; and a little bit of nothing, something else.The mouth opens, and...

      ... everything stops. The silence has her skin crawl, and it's all she can do to not rip her own eyes out to help get the sensation of such stillness out of her. Then there is a SCREAM. But it's not noise. It doesn't feel like noise; noise is different, from this. Noise is different from this, as everything and everyone; whole, dead, alive, beggared, is thrown about; Skylr ends up entangled in a field of debris, and barely keeps herself from screaming, and, more luckily, avoiding passing out as the force slams her down into it further.

      Head wounds, everything else, anything else; and she struggles to her knees, her glasses askew on her face, one lens missing, the other one cracked. She can barely see, but... that's Leo... that's Leo. She thinks. He still stands. She cannot. Her head bows as she struggles the last bit of debris off of her.

      Someone is talking to her. Who? She focuses. Gwen? She doesn't know her name, but... yes, it's the one that she spoke too earlier. She looks past her, at Leo, before that unfocused, half-glasses gaze turns back. "Yes." She says, simply. "... thank you..." She moves over to Leo, and first instinct, is to catch his pulse. Sure, he looked alive a minute ago. A lot of things can happen in sixty seconds. She closes her eyes.

      "Okay." She whispers to herself. "My hometown is burning. Althena was powerless. Leo's alive. I don't know if any other guards here made it." A pause. "But Leo's here. I'm here... and Althena wasn't here, meaning she's safe... somewhere. That's good..." She then, with Gwen and any other additional helpers, gets Leo away into the sewers, admidst the rushing water.

      Into the water... where her own tears for this town will be washed away.

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    "...What are you talking about?"

    He knows what she's talking about.
    There's really only one outcome for the both of them now. His throat has gone dry. His breathing is shallow. Today, runs the errant thought. It was today. And yet, if the Tzadkiel can survive this --
    Then death here isn't without meaning. It might even be enough to tip debt's scales.

    "I said, I'm standing my ground! Don't talk to me like-- what are you doing--"

    She lunges ahead.

    UNIDENTIFIED VESSELS INBOUND, reads off the screens inside the Gear. Loren's gaze -- at a critical moment, as Elly moves -- off towards the sea.

    "--The Guard," he utters, his attention tilting back towards Elly again for a split second, wherein Schiehallion (too slow, too delayed) starts after hers.

    And he's aware in a distant way that the ships are being torn from the waves. He's aware of the debris scattered upwards in a shredding wind.

    Aware of the dead silence that settles here, in the heart of the ruined city.

    He doesn't know in what form it will present itself, but he knows the shape of what is coming.

    But even if it were possible to veer away from her now it would still be too late.

    Something strange is happening with Vierge--
    The Gear's arm explodes.
    Followed by the shoulder. The--
    "...Loud and clear, van Houten."
    Don't make yourself our problem.
    He should stay and fight, earn his glory here and now. But as long as someone else's life is in his hands (or about to be) he can't make that decision anymore. "Moving to intercept."

    It's a narrow thing, to catch a person with a Gear without crushing them. Perhaps deVriese' anomalous powers help here.

    But now he has the same problem with a fresh face. Even if he entered Boost Mode, it probably wouldn't be enough. There's no time anymore. Loren's now aware of the clouds, cast out in a widening circle.

    His hand moves, gliding across the controls. Reroute power. Reroute all power to shielding. All lights in the cockpit dim; warnings flare into life only to choke and die. He's risking a lot even if he survives what's yet to come -- seawater and the threats to the exposed wiring if he lands in the ocean -- but even that chance is worth possible drowning in a Gear-shaped tomb.
    Hopefully Tabitha can swim if it comes to that.
    Shielding again layers over every part of the Gear and cradling deVriese as close to his Gear's chest as he can, Schiehallion again drops from the skies.
    But even this is probably not enough.

    Destruction rains down from the heavens.

    It's nearly not enough. It rips through almost everything he bears against it, the Gear itself caught and tossed around like a child's plaything amidst the sheering gravitational waves. Armoring along the legs that took weeks to manufacture and replace, gone. A external camera, gone. Wiring, the work of careful hands and many hours of labor, torn apart. Gone.

    Was it for anything?

    The heavy Gear slams into the remains of a shopping center, scattering masonry like a wave. Light that was once a broken cocoon fades, leaving only the heavily damaged Schiehallion.

    Inside, systems come to life, and come back in angry red. WARNING. HEAVY DAMAGE TO MECHANICAL COMPONENTS SUSTAINED. WARNING. FUEL LEAK DETECTED. WARNING. DAMAGE TO ETHER SYSTEMS. WARNING. LESS THAN 20% POWER REMAINING. WARNING. UNKNOWN OBJECT DETECTED. WARNING--

    "I... know," he croaks, cracking an eye to a sea of red. Even the shocks can do so much; he feels like his brains have been rattled around the inside of his skull. "Just shut up," he informs his Gear. Then, via radio: "DeVriese! Van Houten! Are you alive?"

    From Tabitha, there may yet be a response. From Elly, however...

    "..."

    There's no time to dwell on that now. Slowly, Schiehallion rises, quite the task in itself under current conditions.
    The Tzadkiel's still close enough that he might make it.

<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Honestly, if you're going to lie, it's most effective to do it to Xantia. She's among the most likely to trust people's word, especially if that someone is a good friend, like Lily. Since this is transparently obvious, it's a matter of how comfortable one is with taking advantage of that.

And yet, even so, in this particular case, even Xantia is a bit sceptical, which should be obvious from the fact that she doesn't immediately reconfirm that she'll keep the promise like she was asked to. She thinks about it for long enough to Lily to launch her attack, and by then it's too late to affirm or argue. She doesn't much like it, that's for sure... but she keeps it in mind.

Fei goes for the low blow, and... Xantia doesn't have a retort for him either. Since she wears her heart on her sleeve, her expression is enough to tell that those words struck home.

Given all this, it's probably no surprise that when she ends up next to Fei again after launching her attack, she seems more willing to assent to a retreat than she was before. No hard feelings towards either of them, really. Xantia does acknowledge that sometimes she needs to be saved from herself. Just... not in the heat of the moment. What she will acknowledge at this time is, "I know I'm not very smart, but... sometimes you just have to do what feels right. And right now, what felt right was-- Wah!"

That's as far as she gets before Fei suddenly makes her the offer of a piggy back ride that she can't refuse. Well, she could have struggled, but she trusts that Fei has some kind of plan. She hears the instruction to go from Lily, but too late now, the decision's out of her hands. She didn't see what happened to Lily, and can't see Lily's face from her position as Fei collects the other Black Wolf. She's just going with the flow on all this. A flow which ends up sending the three of them making a chi-powered retreat towards the Fereshte.

At any other time, Xantia might have said something like 'that was fun'. Because it would have been, at any other time. But this was a narrow, harrowing escape. And when she finally notices Lily, her hands fly to her mouth in obvious concern.

But she says nothing. She can say nothing, in the face of Fei's words. They hurt to hear, on a level which she's honestly felt no one's ever really understood, not even other amnesiacs. Her memories are... important. Necessary. Essential to being who she's meant to be. She's always believed that. She has to believe it. She can't give up, she just can't. And what Fei and Elly have... that's something that she doesn't even begin to understand. Watching their reunion, she says quietly to herself, "What do you expect me to do...?"

She doesn't get to really think about it, as Sin's massive gravity blast washes over the airship, cutting everything short. This will not be a pleasant landing. But knowing Xantia, she'll manage to come out of this just fine. Physically, anyway. Mentally might be a different story.

<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

Lily can no longer see the city in its ruins, but somehow she doesn't have to. She feels its presence; she feels the fear, the pain, the death all over, as surely as she feels the blood running down her face. ...She knows Elly is near. But Fei--

Stupid, and brave, but mostly stupid. Lily distantly hears Fei's talk of wolves, but she is easy now to pick up; he can see, coming this close, the needle, see a hint of the extent of the damage. "Fei--" She gets out a word. Only a word.

She tries to hang on, in the face of this, has dealt with pain before. She gets an answer, "Don't... need..."

'Gentle,' she might have said, but instead Lily grabs onto Fei's arm with a grip that easily passes 'painful.' She recognizes this energy, knows it well. ...It's almost comforting now. Her head lolls, but her grip does not abate--

"<Again... You...>" In an ancient language Lily murmurs amidst the devastation, stirring to shift onto her side when Fei sets her down. Fei speaks, and Lily manages a noise that might be an answers at first. ...The Vierge begins to crash towards them.

"Don't mind..." A breath, "But power... is all..."

She feels power moving all around her. She starts to open her remaining eye, and in that she sees. She has her eye open in time to hear the horrible scream, to feel power flooding past that is overwhelming. Even her markings briefly turn black in the sheer wake of it all.

...Dog whines, softly, under Riesenlied's hug, looks with great worried eyes to Leon.

Lily shudders as the raw power, the devastation floods through her, growing paler under Fei's arm, seeming almost to choke for an instant. It is too much. She cannot bring any further words--

Until a voice that is like hers does, though the noise blots out some of the words. "<--otocol E---->"

The lights on Lily's body wink out.

"<---tdow-.>"

Lily's arms move sharply as she grabs the railing, hangs onto it for her life as they fall. Her voice rasps, "If he's still all right..."

Into the dark. "...It's worth it." Xantia can feel the difference in Lily's aura. Lily speaks, louder, so Xantia can hear her, "Some things... are more important than happiness."