2018-10-20: Metal Demons Visit the Port

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<Pose Tracker> Siegfried has posed.

Mother has awoken. Somehow, Siegfried has to take a vague order -- to bring fire and ruin to Filgaia, and make the humans pay -- into a cohesive and coherent strategy. At present, the Quarter Knight isn't sure how to make a grand strategy. He is, however, quite adept at finding strategic targets and pursuing them.

In this case, this means an attack on the city of Hilton.

The attack is a different nature than the one upon Adlehyde in the past. Siegfried's explanation was clear. The target is Hilton's harbor and specific ships. It begins in the afternoon, as a young man carryinga crate looks up to the sky. A shadow passed overhead. A wing of Metal Dragons swoops overhead -- and then dark shapes begin to drop down. A cry erupts from a guardsman: "Metal Demons--"

This is shortly before the armored, hound-like Metal Beast lunges, ripping into him with his jaws. Siegfried slams down from the back of one such Metal Dragon a moment later. His feet slam into the stone pier, cracking cobblestones and causing the ground to shake. Other Demons and Beasts land next to him, as screams and cries erupt from a fleeing populace. Siegfried turns, then, and his head swivels towards one ship.

He raises an arm, then fires a bolt of light from the cannon that unfolds from his forearm. It singes the wooden railing there. "Destroy the ships," he calls out, "and shatter the piers!"

<Pose Tracker> Agatha Pyrelight has posed.

 There are a number of ships here. Many of them wooden affairs, as the ability to build metal ships is something that both costs an obscene amount and really isn't available to everyone at this point.
 
 Which means that it would be terrible if there were suddenly a good bit of fire involved, would it not?
 
 And thus there is fire.
 
 Several pillars of flame erupt along the harbor, and Agatha chuckles quietly as she watches the burning drops that spew forth from the pillars cascade down around into the docks like a hellish drizzle. While she doesn't have much in the way of investment in this 'Mother' of the Metal Demons, she figures that the beast is one of her best bets for finding a solid and reliable way to kill the Guardians... and that she greatly desires. Thus, it was worthwhile chipping in with the burning and chaos.
 
 The other, far more understandable motive, is that Agatha is bored. And the Pyre Witch prefers to slake her boredom by kicking the wheels of history and seeing just where the cart careens off to, and who exactly survives the crash.
 
 Shadowy figures arise from the alleyways, some of them humanoid, others in the shake of more bestial creatures - wolfmen, deformed beastmen, as well as normal animals such as stags, bears, and other such beasts. Many tear burning pieces of the dock free, using burning brands to ignite more and more of the docks with each few passing moments. Agatha herself stands in the middle of the chaos, looking pleased with herself.
 
 Sooner or later someone will be along to stop the madness... and then she can properly amuse herself.

<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

        First - actually, truly first - among the Metal Demon hordes that touch down is none other than the ochre-hued slimy slug-snake-whatever, Yarobeleedt. He wants the glory that badly that he breaks established formation just to try and touch down first, which is to say, he leaps off screaming from a Metal Demon and... because he's so early...
        Splashes into the water harmlessly, to be forgotten other than for a great big splash.
        Events follow suit as where most eyes (rightfully) follow - the emergence of the commander Siegfried touching down on the pier and giving the order to bring complete ruin to Hilton's ports. A nearby fishing vessel isn't about to cut and run before oblivion - their captain screams that if they run away now they're good as dead anyway from bankruptcy, they have to bring in their current haul of fish for their own livelihoods! They paid so much money to get a boat that could go out fishing for so far, and so long...!
        (These people, also correctly, ditch him.)
        Cursing, he starts to bring in the netted catch with determination and desperation in equal measure. He looks upon what he has wrought with his stubbornness.
        Yarobeleedt balefully stares out, hopelessly entangled within a net.
        The captain in question blinks twice, mouth agape in abject horror, and just jumps into the water while Yarobeleedt is left swinging as a fishnet pinata. (This is a better showing than usual for him.)
        Sooner or later, Yarobeleedt cuts himself free and deposits himself on the fishing vessel, rubbing his forearms together with equal parts grinding screeches and squelchy pops. This boat's his to destroy...!

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

        "We've got the confirmation. Metal Dragons inbound-- Metal Beasts sighted in the vicinity, sir."
        "So they really were going to attempt to destroy the eastbound traversal routes, huh?"
        "Cap'n, we're standing by, what's our orders?"
        "This is an urban operation, we can't just send the Deurmods in recklessly. We'll await confirmation for an order from Sigurd--"
        "S-sir! Lunata just--"

        Maitreya slumps his head and lets out a soft groan. "Do it."

        A technician hears the order and sags as well as he sadly flips a board on the Yggdrasil hangar:

                              DAYS SINCE UNAUTHORISED LAUNCH: _0_

        Maitreya stares out towards the open field in the direction of Hilton. "Damnit, kid. Don't lose your head over this."

        ~*~

        There is a blue twinkle in the skies above Hilton.

        Rapidly, it grows, and grows further; what was once a speck is visible on all convenient Metal Demon identification as the Rephaim, a Gear that former Quarter Knight Berserk once engaged back at Rujm el-Hiri. Sleek and white, with a black body with outstretched wings, it possesses a faintly bizarre, organic appearance--

        --save for the accordion tubing arm with the white chauffeur glove right arm. What did you do this time, Shalune...?

        Speaking of which, a certain Big Shal and a pink blob may also be hitching a ride on that same arm -- and straight into the firing line of several of the Metal Dragon forces; there's a whizz and a hiss as the Pulse Barrier warbles against a stray shot that goes a little bit too close.

        "This is Lunata. I'm eliminating the Gear-sized obstacles," she hisses over the shortband from within the cockpit. Whoever can hear her; she's not certain. She doesn't need to be certain.

        Within, the coolness of the Rephaim's cockpit drags close. The thrush of the interlocking gimbal rings emanates well within her mind. She closes her eyes and dwells upon that faint memory in the Ruins of Altered Memory. It isn't enough... it won't be enough. Yes...

        I need more power.

        Her eyes open, as she cuts a course close to the Metal Dragons, unless stopped. By, perhaps, a certain water-cutting Veruni golem lurking within the portside of Hilton?

<Pose Tracker> Lady Harken has posed.

The climactic struggle atop the Pleasing Gardens no doubt feels like it happened a lifetime ago, for some. With terrific losses on both sides; a statue freshly shattered and both Berserk and Harken of the Quarter Knights defeated, there was scarcely time to nurse these freshly-scored wounds before the thrumming lights and energies of the ancient ruins lifted those assembled to the Moon. With the hulking brute's form still cooling and the scarlet swordswoman plummeting from the sky, it seemed whatever victory the Metal Demons might claim that day had come at a steep cost.

But only after the light of the moon had claimed Filgaia's champions and spirited them to safety did a small, silent rift open beneath the falling body of the youngest of the Quarter Knights. Whether life still burned in her breast was unimportant: that which had already been made whole from a broken shell could, in time, be made whole once more. . .

                                    ***

Some 12,200 feet above the city of Hilton, there flies a bird. One might not be able to tell from the ground, but the bird in question has feathers of black and green alien steel, talons of twisted damascus and perhaps most importantly, two ramjet engines which do a lot more for flight speed than the flapping of wings ever did. Topping it all off is the fact it carries a person in those wicked claws as carefully as a mother might clutch its young. A hulking mass of person, to be precise: with stylized plate armor and a great staff held in hands.

There comes an order. The birdlike Demon's payload smirks coldly, and snaps its fingers. "Do it."

The talons release, and the Demon quickly banks and flies away as its former passenger spreads their arms wide and plummets towards the city.

                                    ***

Just as the pack of Metal Beasts and their warlord descend on Hilton and the first shrieks of panic begin to bounce through the streets, a scarlet bolt of lightning from a cloudless sky scythes through a nearby tower of mason block. A flickering of moonlight dances through it, for but a split-second, and then the tower implodes into a cloud of dust and misshapen stone.

War has come to Hilton.

"I'll have them on the bottom of the ocean before you know it." speaks a pale woman in armor of scarlet to her commander, Siegfried, over a magical radio of some kind. It's not important. She stands amidst a crowd of terrified onlookers and the crater of shattered paving where she landed. "And those who can repair it, I'll put in the ground too!"

The dread scythe Azrael's blade unfurls form the quarterstaff in Harken's hands, and moonlight glimmers dance once more around the forms of the onlookers.

Their fate is similar to the tower just a few lines above.

DC: Lady Harken switches forms to Quarter Knight - Lady Harken!
<Pose Tracker> Lady Harken has posed.

                         Death has come to Hilton.

<Pose Tracker> Persephone has posed.

Of the many assailants present, one has been in Hilton hours before the rest. It was there that they bought food of the city, strode towards one of the quaint out-door restaurants and cafes, and waited. It is possible that they had been present not simply hours, but days, before.

Information had been provided in full detail. The weakpoints of the city, the specific hours that the guards would be least likely to respond quickly, the time that happens to coincide with the most amount of civilians out and about as well. It was, unfortunately, not a perfect circle. The section that fit them as much as possible was, of course, chosen. For now, as the Metal Dragon swoops ahead, the fire rising from the harbor, the beasts crawling through the streets, the member at the cafe is oddly calm, perhaps even frozen. Not even a slight smile crosses her lips, eyes raised to peer at Agatha for a moment and make note of the woman, camera lenses in the eye of the viper capturing her form, before she looks away.

The landscape marred by flame and beast, turned on them as quickly as it turned on their people. Instead of the slow creep to destruction, the bright pyre that humanity finds itself upon is fitting. Sitting the slightly bitter drink, Persephone does not move as members of the town run about, be it guards or civilians. A fallen member of the guard crashes before her, and reaches out, hand stretched in a cry for help.

A heel stamps it down, holding it there until he is claimed by death, before she pulls it away.

As long as no one has seen that particular action, she would not be immediately speculated to be involved - and may not have to tip her hand. The Veruni, having done her task, is not enthusiastic about such chaos and violence - not immediately. The end result is what piques her interest, and she would be there to capture it all.

DC: Zed switches forms to Manic Blade Master Zed!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Ambrosius did not relish this work. Perhaps in his youth he might have yearned for this, but he had found an aversion to large-scale violence at some point. But still, for the sake of this continued alliance, it must be done. As one of the few operatives in Ignas with an active Golem in Ignas capable of operating in these conditions, he was uniquely suited to the task at hand.

The complete destruction of Hilton's port facilities.

The shadows of Metal Dragons are cast as the great steel beasts fly overhead, depositing their riders. The land is no longer safe, nor is the sky.

But the sea...before anyone can think to try to flee to the safety of the sea, the water shifts and churns as something emerges - a massive, mechanical blue Golem, long of limb. Water filters off of it as it rises to its full height...and locks its eyes on a row of ships in the harbor.

The Golem opens its mouth. Water flows into the Golem...and is projected as a massive beam, which is swept through them in a single swift motion. The ships are split apart in an instant, and the halves are soon separated by a massive wave tearing through them.

It casts its gaze about, looking for more targets...and stops as it sees a a machine flying through the sky toward the sight of the carnage.

The Golem's eye turns red as it locks onto the Rephaim.

And within the Golem itself...

"...Fascinating. I have not seen its like before... This shall, at the very least, be informative." Ambrosius mutters to himself. His Golem, Nimue, turns to face the Rephaim(and its passenger) fully...and waits for their arrival.

<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

Fun fact: Hilton is home to some of Ignas' bestest icecream. Something about the saltwater in the surrounding (still horrible and dead) seas makes for real tasty frozen treats. Is that why Zed is here today? No! Not... Not entirely anyway. I mean, icecream is kind of a thing that attracts Zed like a flame draws moths, except with maybe a little less in the way of spontaneous combustion.

Zed doesn't even get brainfreeze! It's great.

Wheteher this is because he's a Hyadean or because he's a Zed is somewhat unclear.

But no, he's here because of more pressing reasons. He's here because Death has come to the town of Hilton.

And Zed... has letters to deliver.

Harken has a few precious moments between when she hears that oh-so-familiar battlecry and when the voice it belongs to descends unto her in a storm of savagery and violence. The source is a strange but not entirely foreign, black-and-green blur, swinging wildly with practiced brutality and furious focus, though it pales in comparison to the Quarter Knight's peerless skill.

Still. That can only be one person...!

"LADY HARKEN!" Zed, THE BETRAYER, roars. "YOU STILL OWE ME A SWORDFIGHT."

Well.

She does...!

GS: Zed has attacked Lady Harken with Dark Horse - Supreme Tornado!
GS: Zed has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Zed has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia actually has been hesitating quite a bit when it comes to bringing the fight to the Metal Demons. It's not because she has joined Riesenlied's family, not really, but more because she has a very keen understanding of how dangerous it could be. She was MADE to feel how dangerous it could be when she received a certain item--a silver medium--that she just knows will put a target on her back, making her into someone that the Metal Demons are likely going to be very, very eager to kill.

She has been told that it's okay to be afraid. She's been told that if they lose, there won't be anywhere to run. She has even been told just a bit about the personal experiences of those whom have faced the Metal Demons before. These have helped calm Lydia done as when you have no choice but to win, when it's okay to be terrified, then what is there to panic about?

But even so she has been hesitating to truly call upon the power of Rigdobrite, hesitant to put herself in that kind of harm's way...

....But then the Metal Demons decided to attack a port city.

Now Lydia isn't a seawoman by any stretch of the imagination (though she is learning quick) but she is an explorer, someone desperate to reach out to the ends of the universe or, in this case, the ends of the oceans. The only difference between the star ocean and the ocean in her mind is the challenge rating.

Lydia has arrived on her own, skating across rooftops and bounding between them in an effort to reach the attack as quickly as possible. For some, Lydia's current state has already become the new normal, for others her mechanical frame might be a surprise. Two tonfa-style (and sharp) blades snap out of Lydia's arms as she utilizes her greatest skill: Talking shit. "HEY! HEY GRAMPS!" She shouts in Siegfried's direction. "I didn't know Hyadeans went senile! You so old that you think doing the exact same thing before is gonna work again? Only dumbasses throw away their family for wanting to try something different!"

She is about to charge after Siegfried but Harken destroys a flipping tower! Lydia pauses for a moment to kind of gawk before adding, "And using people as science experiments..." this time it's a mutter. "That's just being a dick."

And with that she quickly skates off a rooftop and leaps--!!

--and comes down skates first for Harken's face.

"Watch out guardrail!" Lydia shouts again. "I dare you to stab me!" Now Lydia, Harken doesn't need to be dared.

"Hey Zed." She adds.

GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Lady Harken with Interstellar Vibe!
GS: Lydia Seren has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Metal Beasts begin to land - and then, with a sudden squeal of tortured metal, one of the Beasts is torn in half along the middle. Fire and debris spew from the unfortunate creature.

With a flash of steel, Talise, in her polished armour, comes out of her swing in a half-crouch, Rastaban out at her side. Behind her, another Metal Demon goes down as the Fox Company's handy courier, Benedict, plugs it in the face with a crossbow bolt. Looking back over her shoulder, the big swordswoman gestures to the bearded man. "Try and get the townspeople somewhere safe," she urges.

Benedict nods, moving off and loading another bolt. Talise stays behind, advancing forward into battle. Truthfully, she already has access to a ship. But others do not, and the Company of the Fox definitely can't stop Mother on its own - and the people here are mostly innocents, undeserving of this kind of brutality.

"This isn't going to change anything, Siegfried!" Talise shouts across the battlefield as she rushes towards the scene of the battle. "You can't possibly destroy every ship in Ignas! Sooner or later we're coming to your house!"

Rushing to fight him again occurs to her - but she's too far away to reach him in time, and more importantly, there's a closer threat. Something screeching from the fishing boat literally right next to her. With a click of her teeth, Talise snaps to the right and up the boat ramp.

Just in time to spot Yarobeleedt cutting himself out of a fishing net. She blinks once, then again.

"Oh hey, I remember you," she says with a sudden flicker of understanding. She did fight Yaro once!

Then she lunges forward and attempts to kick the blobby scout square in the... does he have a face? Either way, she's trying to kick him off the boat and into the ocean. She's not even all that ceremonious about it.

GS: Talise Gianfair has attacked Yarobeleedt with Blob Punt!
GS: Talise Gianfair has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Talise Gianfair has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi lands with the rest of the troops and vaults expertly onto Bogey's back. The Bear-Dog Metal Beast is eager for a skirmish. Lord Siegfried's orders were clear: /Destroy the port. Destroy the ships." Nearby some of the ships were already burning. It was a good start.

The port, however, had its defenders, and among those was a hulking Beastwoman even taller than Malfi. By her looks she had aquatic heritage -- possibly shark, judging by the gray skin and multiple gills. Yes, she might be a problem. No telling whether she had oceanic powers -- maybe even the ability to call up reinforcements!

The port, the port had to be reduced to rubble at all costs. Malfi takes a deep breath and prepares to fight. She pats Bogey's neck encouragingly and orders him to attack.

GS: A targeted player wasn't found. [#-1]
GS: Malfi has attacked Ines Colina with Bear-Dog Bite!
GS: Malfi has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Malfi has completed her action.
GS: Lydia Seren has canceled their attack on Lady Harken.
GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Lady Harken with Speed of Light!
GS: Lydia Seren has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Ida stands on the dockside, the breeze rustling her leather duster as it blows in from the ocean. Beside her is a taller woman with short black hair and sea-green eyes. Despite being a sailor all her life, Captain Xenia Grey sticks out like a sore thumb on these docks; she's still wearing the Lunarian clothing she had on when she fled into Azado's catacombs to hide from Sin. Ida has done her best to get the captain up to speed, but it still doesn't feel like she's done enough.

        "'Elru', you said," says the captain, tucking her hands into the pockets of her coat. "And no one is willing to take you there."

        "I won't lie. It's a treacherous place, and the journey will be dangerous. But the fate of both our worlds--" Ida trails off. She hears something in the distance, a rustling or flapping that sounds too... off, to be flags or sails. She recognizes it. Sudden terror clutches at her heart. She looks out to sea, to what she knows is approaching, and sees the telltale glint of metal in the afternoon sun.

        Ida's heart tightens in anticipation. A sight that would've been joyous to her years ago is now a vision of terror. She turns to Xenia--who stares, slack-jawed, at the oncoming army--and grips her wrist. "Run," Ida commands. "And get as many people out of here as you can."

        NOW

        The dockhand's body drops to the pier, wide-eyed and lifeless. No sooner has it hit the ground than a voice splits the air, tentative but edged with anger. "Siegfried!" Moments later, its owner surges into view, bursting out from behind the piles and stacks of crates she was using as cover for her approach. Her fist slams into the ribs of a Metal Beast, a tortured shriek splitting the air as metallic flesh gives way. Ida barely slows down. Her lips peel back from her teeth as she runs straight towards the Quarter Knight, chi boiling off both of her fists. And then suddenly, her approach changes dramatically; she twists on a heel, steps around to Siegfried's side, and launches a jab at his waist.

        "Was it worth it?" Ida says, her voice wavering with emotion. "Was it all you ever hoped for?"

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Siegfried with Open Palm!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

Zed pauses mid-tornado to crane his head and stare at this strangely cybernetic greenhaired goat lady.

Zed squints.

"Did Riesenlied and Noeline... Bud...?"

GS: Talise Gianfair has attacked Yarobeleedt with Blob Punt!
GS: Talise Gianfair has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Talise Gianfair has completed her action.
GS: Talise Gianfair has canceled their attack on Yarobeleedt.
GS: Talise Gianfair has attacked Yarobeleedt with Blob Punt!
GS: Talise Gianfair has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Talise Gianfair has completed her action.
GS: Yarobeleedt guards a hit from Talise Gianfair's Blob Punt for 62 hit points!
GS: Ines Colina critically Guards a hit from Malfi's Bear-Dog Bite for 26 hit points!
GS: Ines Colina has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Malfi has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        The Metal Demons and friends have arrived at Hilton to preemptively break--nay, shatter--any attempts the humans and *their* friends might make at reaching Elru, to take the decisive battle to where Mother has risen from her long slumber. Ragnell is not invading with them. Of course not! Why would she? She is a long-time friend of the humans who stand against them, including Princess Cecilia of Adlehyde, and to fight on the side of the invaders would prooooobably put a strain on those relationships of sufficient strength that it wouldn't ever recover.
        
        Which is why she stands on the docks of the town, waiting. Watching as the invaders encroach. Tear, literally, into the town defenders. And when Drifters and the like rise up to stand against them in kind... she pushes herself off against the crate against which she leans and strolls towards the Metal Demon leaders.
        
        "Well, well; long time no see, Siegfried," she drawls, tipping the brim of her hat up. "D'you remember me? Guess you might not; it's been some time since the first attack on Adlehyde. But then, for the likes o' you an' me, it might as well've been yesterday." She shrugs, glances over towards Ida as she, too, specifically calls Siegfried out, rushes in to attack him. Then Ragnell quirks a smirk and draws her twin pistols, now repaired after Elly partially melted one of them. "Either way, I've been itchin' to test my mettle on yours for a while, so you'll indulge me, won't you?"
        
        Without waiting for an answer, she fires off a pair of lightning bolt bullets at the Quarter Knight, aimed for central mass.

GS: Siegfried takes a solid hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Open Palm for 101 hit points!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has attacked Siegfried with Twin Bullet!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

        Shalune is, by all rights, not ready for this fight. She'd be the last one to call herself any sort of warrior - she's just a tinkerer, just a mechanic who via sheer circumstance and worry has found herself thrust into the middle of all of this. She doesn't even have a Gear, per se; Big Shal is valiantly riding into battle on one arm of the Rephaim, but the construction golem's twelve feet of height can't hope to compare to that of a full-fledged machine. A sick feeling in the pit of her stomach reminds Shalune of how much she'd like to be anywhere else right about now.

        But the girl is here regardless, hunkered down on the scaffolding on her Golem's back, her pink hair whipping around her from the wind and her knuckles bright white given how tightly she's holding on to her 'pot'. The Veruni artifact is locked into place in a recess in the back of Big Shal's neck, spidery white lines across its surface lighting up her face as she concentrates on it to supply it with power and direction - and in response to that glow, the scrap that makes up the Golem shifts and warps, uprooting the metal around her to form a protective canopy around the makeshift pilot.

        "No runnin' from your problems," Shalune whispers to herself, trying her best to ignore the bitter twist of the lump in her throat.

        "... we need to get to the harbour, I think," she strengthens her voice as she tries to convince herself, or maybe Big Shal, or maybe even Lunata - though she can't honestly say she expects the latter to be listening at this point. "The more ships we can save, the more stuff we can fix on the fly, the bett--" there's a high-pitched whine of noise, and a sudden series of explosions of tearing wood and screeching metal; Shalune winces as she covers her eyes, grimacing as she realizes it's already much too late for any suggestion like that.

        Instead, rising from the bay, a full-fledged Veruni golem slowly rises, and Shalune recognizes it instantly; she's seen it before, summoned down Dinoginos' wrath upon it once before. Her mind races; a single look tells her it isn't just using the sea to hide - it's clearly aquatic in nature, or at least at enough of an advantage there that-- "--there's no way anyone's getting clear by boat while that golem's around! Lunie!"

GS: Siegfried critically Guards a hit from Seraph Ragnell's Twin Bullet for 16 hit points!
GS: Siegfried has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

Lily Keil has a ship to think about; no, she has multiple ships to think about. Military forces require supplies--food, materials, ammunition, weapons. She happens to be in Hilton seeking to arrange the same, to ensure that as they all move to handle the Mother problem, that they'll have the things they need in order to succeed, that supply lines can stay open.

...And then the sky implodes. Lily's first clue is Dog beside her suddenly growling; the second, the sound in the air... and finally, the explosions. The dark-haired woman wears gray fatigues and immediately unholsters her sidearm, the large red-and-chrome pistol pointed upward as she looks for her targets. She looks like a soldier, wears an eyepatch, armored jacket--

And she turns towards the woman in red plate quickly. Lady Harken looms ahead, and Lily Keil watches Lydia dive in close, watches Zed challenge her, and considers it good. "Dog," she instructs. "Stay behind me for now."

She aims her pistol straight at the pale woman, over her scythe, past her armor--she aims straight for the center of Lady Harken's eyeball, apparently unconcerned by the explosion of the tower.

"I missed you, milady."

Lily fires, and the gunshot roars Harken's way, the huge round rocketing forward as recoil sends Lily's arm partway back up.

She starts forward.

GS: Lily Keil has attacked Lady Harken with Lead Whisper!
GS: Lily Keil has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lily Keil has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Elvis has posed.

'...It is an alliance of convenience...'

Words spoken true that hang with an individual that shows up with the grace of a brick. His cold, calculating gaze. An unnatural calmness. What would be done, with a choice they can make? When was it all too much? What is the line yet to be drawn in the sand?

Concern. Hesitation. Possibly some small amount of regret.

All of it was the mind proper for Sentinel Elvis, as he was dropped near Hilton. He bode his time, blending in (somewhat) well. Waiting. Watching.

It was heralded by screams, of bloodshed. Arterial spray and coppery scent of those unlucky enough to be at landing points. "Do yourself a favor and run!" the mountain of a man said toward a particularly stalwart crew of soldiers, running toward the onslaught rather than away. "If you value your lives, you will do it!"

It was now, on a deserted block of the port, where Elvis begins to wreak havoc, now that Humans have been chased off by him. Far better for the district chosen-- they will not befall the same fate as the other areas. At least they still lived.

And with the powers that lay within him, Elvis lays his hands down on the ground in ak neeling posture. The waters and stony dock outcroppings begin to roil and crack, splintering wood and sundered stone fall in to the water, being undone in slow motion.

The man otherwise remains silent, concentrating on his use of magic. His work will be done soon. He can study the Metal Demon's actions once his work is performed.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

        There's a deep and unpleasant rattling as the waves about them stir; this was the work of no ordinary force of nature, however. The water shifts, churns --

        --and the Golem Nimue emerges from the depths of Hilton's docks.

        In a motion, it opens its mouth, water flowing within... and that water-cutting beam sweeps through the ships. Lunata's eyes widen--

        "They have a hydro cutter...?"

        --and the ships are rent apart. She narrows her eyes slowly and remarks, "You're right. That's the guy we have to take out, Lunie!"

        She bites her lip; she thinks about urging Shalune to duck into the cockpit, but doesn't quite voice it. There's a canopy around her anyway; she'll be fine.

        "Cap'n, I'm engaging a Veruni Golem."
        "Of all the stupid ideas--"
        "Lunata, Rephaim, engaging the target!"

        The Rephaim's irisoid eyes flash a familiar gold as it reaches for a white cylindrical device on the top of its hip rack; in a flash, it's brandished--

        --and a gleaming pink beam sabre is withdrawn as the Rephaim's main thrusters erupt into blue light. There's a roar from its pilot as she jukes, twists down towards the surface of the water to try to carve its beam blade into the Nimue's mouth.

        "Veruni, I take it?" she engages on a shared band. She's not expecting a response, but...

GS: Lunata Croze has attacked Ambrosius with Even in your DCMUSH -- Beam Saber Mastery!
GS: Lunata Croze has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lunata Croze has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ines Colina has posed.

        In terms of why she's here, Ines Colina could roughly be considered 'wrong place, wrong time'. She was collecting payment for a job when suddenly the skies opened with metal demons. And instead of running in the opposite direction, Ines leapt upon Furacao's back and rode to the docks. Ines and her horse arrived just in time to see the Metal Demons land. She hadn't encountered them before, but now she was getting a crash course as a Metal Beast surges towards her.

        As the dog charges at her, the symbological rune on her left arm glows green, and her skin on her left arm turns to iron as the dog bites on her arm. The bite does little, and Ines looks at the other rider. Her too wide eyes lock with Malfi's. "Bad call."

        Suddenly, Ines tears her arm free of Bogey's bite, and Furacao takes to running, before turning back to face Malfi and Bogey, Ines still on his back. A rune on his neck is activated and suddenly horse and rider are travelling top speed towards Malfi, her own metal coated arm out in a clothesline attack, aiming to tear Malfi from her mount.

<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Hilton is home to one more ship about to participate in a grand Digger exodus. It's not even appointed like a royal barge! It is a merchant vessel, though, so there's some nice rugs around.

"Busy day," grunts the captain, a portly fellow in the coat of a navy that doesn't exist. "Seems a lot of you folks are heading out," he says, back to the blonde woman leaning on the railing.

"We have work to do. Something we've all worked very hard for," she says. "I just hope..."

KABOOM.

Cecilia grimaces, standing right up. "Captain!" she snaps, and he bolts upright as a man accustomed to being bullied. Er. Commanded. "Finish up your preparations! Wake up the others, they'll defend the ship!"

"And you!?" he squawks, while more alert sailors leap about to get the other members of the Dawn Chasers into Not Logged In Defense Mode.

Cecilia's staff puffs into bering in her hands as she rushes down to the dock. "I have scores to settle!" she spits.

        *

A screaming, roaring BLAST of power suddenly bolts up the streets of Hilton - a shockingly bright, pure force throwing up cobblestones as it races in to slam into the back of the armored Quarter Knight, scoring and scorching her hide.

The towering form of Grudeiv, which launched it, fades, and Cecilia comes to the ground nearby. "You'll do nothing of the sort, Lady Harken!" Cecilia calls.

Jack's not here so she's not obligated to pretend she cares about who this woman is other than her father's other murderer.

GS: Ines Colina has attacked Malfi with Hills Hoist!
GS: Ines Colina has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Ines Colina has completed her action.
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Lady Harken with Material - Magnetron Bomb!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has completed her action.
GS: Ambrosius guards a hit from Lunata Croze's Even in your DCMUSH -- Beam Saber Mastery for 63 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Zed has lost 1 Combo!
DC: MISS! Lady Harken completely evades Dark Horse - Supreme Tornado from Zed!
GS: Lady Harken has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lydia Seren has lost 1 Combo!
DC: MISS! Lady Harken completely evades Speed of Light from Lydia Seren!
GS: Malfi has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ines Colina has lost 1 Combo!
DC: MISS! Malfi completely evades Hills Hoist from Ines Colina!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Lily Keil's Lead Whisper for 106 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has lost 1 Combo!
DC: MISS! Lady Harken completely evades Material - Magnetron Bomb from Cecilia Adlehyde!
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

So focused is she on her foe that Malfi doesn't notice THAT WOMAN aiming blows at Lord Siegfried -- and if she had, she certainly would've left her to the Quarter Knight. THAT WOMAN seemed to be an endless fount of strange and formidable powers...

Bogey attempts to bite the sharkwoman, only to find her skin turned to iron. Malfi murmurs to him sympathetically. The beastwoman, mounted on her horse, charges Malfi, trying to dislodge her from Bogey's back, but Bogey dances aside. Time for another tactic. Malfi raises her lance and rakes it in a high sweeping motion, trying to knock her opponent off her horse. Turnabout, after all, was fair play!

GS: Malfi has spent 3 Combo on Gatling, including 2 on Gatling!
GS: Malfi has attacked Ines Colina with Off Your Feet!!
GS: Malfi has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

        Yarobeleedt eats a boot to the face - this is almost literal, because his maw droops open to warble out some nonsense and it just so happens that Talise throws that kick in the anatomical equivalent of teeth in the right time so that she can apply a foot to his mouth. He doesn't have a foot to put in there, so the ability to have someone help assist him in these metaphorical matters is truly appreciated.
        ...Right then.
        Talise will recognize the snake-blob-thing all right - she'll notice that his form is not as 'crisp' as it once was. His upper body is less defined, and one of his arms is less solid in appearance. His forearms were always in a state of flux between whatever hand-to-hand weapons he could think of, but one of the arms looks like it's having problems doing even that, now.
        Kind of sad. Nowhere near as sad as to how the cleaning bills are going to go for that boot, though. He thrashes his more solid arm into the deck with a pick-like protrusion to hang on tight to the boat, wriggling violently. A gagging sound escapes the monstrosity's maw as he coughs wetly. The boat rocks violently from some of the nearby battle turbulence.
        "Oooooooh. Yes, yes. You. You get inside the way with the statues! Fu fu fu." Why's he laughing? He just nearly choked to death on Talise's boot, or at least just narrowly avoided having it completely crush his neck. "Is no problem. Too late! Maybe one late?? Mother is awakened!"
        The creature straightens and rises - an attempt to front, to intimidate - with superior height. If he tries, he can stand larger than Talise. Both arms rise up, his visage blotting out the very daylight and casting Talise's shadow into oblivion...
        Then the ship rocks violently again, and he collapses forward with a yelping shriek. An attempt to bring scything, slicing arms on her goes kind of awry and it turns into an accidental hug.

GS: Ines Colina guards a hit from Malfi's Off Your Feet! for 42 hit points!
GS: Yarobeleedt has attacked Talise Gianfair with Luna Way!
GS: Yarobeleedt has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Yarobeleedt has completed its action.
GS: Talise Gianfair critically Guards a hit from Yarobeleedt's Luna Way for 16 hit points!
GS: Talise Gianfair has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Yarobeleedt has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle Cirdian does not need to hire a boat, precisely. She has access to not one but two different ships that are willing to take her to Elru, and one other that she could probably stow away on if she really had to. What she does need is some supplies for sailing and for the inevitable landing in Elru - especially if it's not as easy a landing as she might hope - and she volunteered to pick some up.

She wasn't expecting it to end up like this.

Tethelle clambers up on a roof so she can get a better view, having climbed up a pile of crates sitting next to a shop to do it, against the wishes of the person who owned said shop. Her hand tightens around her sword hilt as she does - a heavy two-handed sword with a single-edged blade, slightly curved for maximum chopping power.

It's Metal Demons. Of course it's Metal Demons.

Tethelle leaps off the roof and lands on dockside stone. She starts to run and makes it about twenty yards before she feels the quiver in her feet; forty before it's too much to deny and she sees the source of it. A man, not a Metal Demon, very large and doing some sort of sorcery in a fashion she's not very familiar with.

But that's not a moment of opportunity. He's not taking advantage of the Metal Demons to steal or something. He's clearly helping them, and that makes Tethelle inexplicably angry. How can any Filgaian do that? She starts to rush Elvis even as the stone rumbles under her feet, one hand up on the sword held over her back and the other drawn back in a clenched fist, which she tries to drive into his gut to interrupt his trickery.

"What are you DOING?" she practically roars in his ear.

GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Elvis with Mighty Punch!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
GS: Elvis guards a hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Mighty Punch for 58 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        "Ah, good day, Ms. Whitlock. You have no idea how happy I am to see you right now! This shipment should have been on its way to Aquvy yesterday, but with the pricing negotiations and the politics between the November City guild and- augh, you reaaallly don't want to hear all that." The merchant dabs at his forehead with a cotton handkerchief. "I trust you have the goods ready?"

        Gwen tips her hat upwards with a confident grin. "Got them already loaded at the port bay, just as instructed."

        It's a good day to be a courier. Delivering goods, feeling that burst of energy and good vibes as Gwen assumes the role of saver of business and trade, an angel come down from the sands beyond to work miracles, if only by the virture of having an ARM that could persuade most highwaymen (sandwaymen?) that it's not worth the effort. Or that it *is*, but that wasn't the case here.

        But yes, something like that. It certainly feels like that, and it's welcome.

        So naturally, it's then that the Metal Demons attack, like a raging dust storm on what was supposed to be a fine day for a wedding.

        And Gwen, being Gwen, does what comes naturally to her ever since she got that ARM: shoot right back at the nice Quarter Knight General without hesitation, her ARM (and by proxy, her own will) practically itching to be used once more. It feels a whole lot better than to watch the merchant get nearly knocked into the water by a blast fired at the nearby ship. He bobs in the water, stunned but thankfully alive. "It's an attack!" Gwen warns him. "I'll cover you, get to safety! Don't worry about the supplies, just go!"

        Bringing her ARM up again as she begins to load her bullets in, Gwen sees the distinctive form of Siegfried, and hesitates. But only for a moment, as Ida jabs a fist at his side, and Ragnell joins in with her bullets. Gwen, likewise, runs forward, attempting to draw attention as she fires a bolt from her extended arm, straight at Siegfried. Well, it's not like she's not going to be able to avoid high-stakes combat with Metal Demon knights for much longer, so why not start out with the leader?

         "I take it there's no chance of you just standin' down n' lettin' us be on our way, right?" It's a dumb question, but Gwen's steady walk towards Siegfried is more than enough evidence to her not expecting anything less than her decision being a particularly painful one.
So very, very painful.

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        "Ah, good day, Ms. Whitlock. You have no idea how happy I am to see you right now! This shipment should have been on its way to Aquvy yesterday, but with the pricing negotiations and the politics between the November City guild and- augh, you reaaallly don't want to hear all that." The merchant dabs at his forehead with a cotton handkerchief. "I trust you have the goods ready?"

        Gwen tips her hat upwards with a confident grin. "Got them already loaded at the port bay, just as instructed."

        It's a good day to be a courier. Delivering goods, feeling that burst of energy and good vibes as Gwen assumes the role of saver of business and trade, an angel come down from the sands beyond to work miracles, if only by the virture of having an ARM that could persuade most highwaymen (sandwaymen?) that it's not worth the effort. Or that it *is*, but that wasn't the case here.

        But yes, something like that. It certainly feels like that, and it's welcome.

        So naturally, it's then that the Metal Demons attack, like a raging dust storm on what was supposed to be a fine day for a wedding.

        And Gwen, being Gwen, does what comes naturally to her ever since she got that ARM: shoot right back at the nice Quarter Knight General without hesitation, her ARM (and by proxy, her own will) practically itching to be used once more. It feels a whole lot better than to watch the merchant get nearly knocked into the water by a blast fired at the nearby ship. He bobs in the water, stunned but thankfully alive. "It's an attack!" Gwen warns him. "I'll cover you, get to safety! Don't worry about the supplies, just go!"

        Bringing her ARM up again as she begins to load her bullets in, Gwen sees the distinctive form of Siegfried, and hesitates. But only for a moment, as Ida jabs a fist at his side, and Ragnell joins in with her bullets. Gwen, likewise, runs forward, attempting to draw attention as she fires a bolt from her extended arm, straight at Siegfried. Well, it's not like she's not going to be able to avoid high-stakes combat with Metal Demon knights for much longer, so why not start out with the leader?

         "I take it there's no chance of you just standin' down n' lettin' us be on our way, right?" It's a dumb question, but Gwen's steady walk towards Siegfried is more than enough evidence to her not expecting anything less than her decision being a particularly painful one.

        So very, very painful.

GS: Gwen Whitlock has attacked Siegfried with Coil Cannon EX!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

Like a rocket, Lemina Ausa is here!

Looking for a boat seems to be the 'in' thing for Diggers right now! Lemina has no actual plan for the looking for a boat step of this business and is, as a result, mostly taking this as an opportunity to cover Hilton in advertisements for the Magic Guild of Vane. Unfortunately, that means she's...

... here. When things start exploding. One of the docks starts to splinter under her, courtesy of Elvis's magic -- and she staggers from the explosion back onto slightly drier land.

She finds the source of it quickly, in part thanks to Tethelle's own assault on him... and immedately starts chanting a spell.

A small spike of ice -- about the size of a forearm -- quickly forms in front of her, spinning slightly before darting out at Elvis in a quick arc. "Hey! I need those docks! ... Probably!" Lemina calls, before starting to get a much *better* sense of the disaster presently being visited on Hilton. "... Oh, *ugh*. Why would you even help those guys!?" she half-asks, half-demands, still in her spellcasting stance.

GS: Lemina Ausa has attacked Elvis with Ice Lance!
GS: Lemina Ausa has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lemina Ausa has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Siegfried critically Guards a hit from Gwen Whitlock's Coil Cannon EX for 19 hit points!
GS: Jam! Statuses applied to Siegfried!
GS: Siegfried has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

        Big Shal hangs onto the arm of the Rephaim via a couple of large metal handles seemingly welded onto the makeshift limb specifically for that purpose. Shielding Shalune's porthole from the glare of the water beam with its free arm, the golem looks on impassively as the boats tear into so much flotsam - after all, it isn't as if Big Shal has any face on which to show an expression.

        Still, there is something of a sadness to its shoulders as its attention turns towards the Nimue; it watches in silence for a moment, then hunkers down in expectation of the Rephaim's dash forwards, bracing itself as the thrusters of its ride flare into life. Whatever it might think of the Nimue - whether it considers it a compatriot or even a friend for their shared heritage - the golem can only shake its head slowly as it watches the Rephaim crash down onto it.

        Hidden by Big Shal's closeness to the Rephaim, the cable connecting the two remains secured in place, and from within her canopy Shalune is muttering to herself, keeping tabs on the status of both machines. "... left arm's still got some structural problems," she reports quietly, more talking to herself than anything. "The shield's holding, but-- let me see if I can fix that and--..." 'And give you more power', she nearly catches herself saying, but stops short of voicing it. Instead, she grimaces, shaking the thought away to hunker down further.

<Pose Tracker> Lady Harken has posed.

Here are some fun facts for Zed, who hasn't seen Harken in like six or seven months. Not the least of which are because the latter has been hidden away for most of them: she looks remarkably paler than memory serves. Maybe the slightly doll-like skin is just the latest side-effect of whatever bonkers training or combat enhancements keeps her alive. She also seems slightly... smaller? Just a hair. Like her big Hyadean power armor is a half-size too large.

Of course, some of this is hard to notice mid-fight.

"One of the traitors." Harken muses dourly as she turns to leave the mutilated corpses of the tradesmen where they lie and start stalking towards the pier proper. That's also a change: not running for the nearest duel and ignoring the objective? "Mother wakes, you know. But if you come back, we can always convince her you were playing the long game." she seems to refuse to meet Zed's demand for a swordfight, instead twisting the shaft of Azrael in her grip to meet the oncoming blade with staff-edge.

Actually, 'twas a ruse upon a ruse. Zed's sword passes through the space where the quarterstaff-half of Azrael occupied just a second ago, and there comes a noise like the screaming of a fighter jet's engines from above. Harken has pirouetted above him, unleashed something that looks suspiciously like a Demon Fang(tm), and continued to stalk towards the pier!

Lydia yells angrily--and rightly so, skipping across the rooftops at one hell of a speed. "Child," Harken chides in a tired and not entirely enraged voice. "Do you know how war is waged? This has been working quite well for us so far." and she strikes the ground with her staff, leaping into the air to meet Lydia blade-first! She can't get skated on if she reaps her with that scythe!

But the clap of distant gunfire puts halt to that idea. The ashen-skinned woman with the oversized farming implement for a weapon glances up at the last possible moment and changes her plans, twisting midair to let Lydia pass her by and folds both arms before her vulnerable head. Scarlet gauntlets creak and groan briefly as a bullet the size of a pool ball, I wager, splats itself against Hyadean steel and ricochets away onto the stones.

"Ah." Harken muses at this, staring down Lily from her perch in the air. "So the sorceress comes to protect another city? But after the last one fell around us, surely your hands are tied...?"

Of course, Cecilia has the kind of mass-destruction magic which can be at least a little discerning about its target. And no such worries. Harken's eyebrow soars as her senses tingle, and she reaches up with Azrael to hook the edge of a nearby window. A quick tug, and the one-tonne human murderball hoists herself clear in the nick of time! The scorching surge of energy unleashed by the Material blast boils past the Quarter Knight underneath, as she sits on her haunches on the windowsill and scowls.

"Don't be so eager to die, young miss." the haughty, evil nee-san calls back down to her. "You've your whole life to struggle before you join your father in the ground. And I've no wish to put you there yet."

Well, Harken says this, but she also leaps from her perch without a word of warning and seemingly splits into three distinct images. Each one of them rushes for one of her assailants, but which one is real!? Which arcing, gleaming, shrieking rush of blade is the lethal one?!

GS: Shalune Amira has spent 1 Combo on Reload, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Shalune Amira has attacked Lunata Croze with Thumbs Up!!
GS: Shalune Amira has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Shalune Amira has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Siegfried has posed.

"Gh, you--" Siegfried spits it out. He never learned Ida's name; the truth is, he barely knows the names of most humans. Her jab slams into the waist of his armor, and he stares at her for a moment. "You think me likely to tell you a word of my innermost thoughts and concerns? Why, in the name of Mother, would I share my motivations with someone I intend to kill before the day is done?"

Glumzambor is already in Siegfried's hands. He swings it down, hard, chopping down across the center of Ida's mass and trying to split her in twain with a single stroke. His lips curl back, under his helmet, into a snarl.

Ragnell shoots, her two pistol shots slamming into him. Lightning crackles over his forearm; it glows lightly in the aftermath, arcs of lightning scarring the ground and leaving the ground scarred black. He scowls, then spits on the ground. "You. Spirit," he says. "You have some nerve. I remember you... and you speak the truth. But what does one such as ourselves care for human filth?"

He turns, then, and his eyes narrow as Gwen's ARM fires. A shot is punched into his shoulder, denting the pauldron, but bouncing off it before the worst happens. Siegfried's eyes narrow at her. "None, whatsoever."

The Quarter Knight lifts his arm. The forearm cannon pops out; then, a bolt of blue-white light screams across the port, shooting towards the delivery woman with explosive promise. At the same time, a white glow infuses Siegfried, then settles into his armor.

GS: Siegfried has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Nemesis Cleave!
GS: Siegfried has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Ion Pulse!
GS: Siegfried has attacked Siegfried with Hi-Shield!
GS: Siegfried has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Siegfried has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Siegfried has completed his action.
GS: Siegfried takes a solid hit from Siegfried's Hi-Shield for 0 hit points!
GS: Cover! Statuses applied to Siegfried!
GS: Lunata Croze takes a solid hit from Shalune Amira's Thumbs Up! for 0 hit points!
GS: Reload! Lunata Croze gains 15 extra FP from Shalune Amira!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Zed with Killing Intent!
GS: Lady Harken has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lady Harken has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Lydia Seren with Redshift Feint!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Lily Keil with Redshift Feint!
GS: Lady Harken has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with Redshift Feint!
GS: Lady Harken has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

The blobbiest Metal Demon is even blobbier than usual. Talise can't help but find that a little sad.

But when Yaro goes over the side and hangs on, Talise doesn't immediately pursue him. Moving expertly despite the boat rocking, she gestures towards the fishermen still looking on. "Get to safety. These guys aren't messing around," she says, her tone sharp and leaving little room for argument.

When the yellow scout comes blobbing his way back up, the swordsinger clicks her teeth together and scowls. Mother is awakened. Of course the Metal Demons are in a position to giggle at the predicament the world is in. Tethelle's world - the one Talise promised to help her save.

Before she can sass back, Yaro's on her. Scything arms arc towards her - sloppily, huggingly - but they're coming from both sides. Talise reacts instinctively, pushing her sword out with her right hand to catch one blade and slamming her left palm into the inside of Yaro's other arm. Muscles strain as she fights to hold Metal Demon strength at bay.

"Don't brag at me yet," she grates through her teeth, her knee beginning to give out beneath the heavy mass of the big yellow Hyadean. "Mother may be awake, but you haven't finished off Filgaia yet."

It's not all sass, though. Talise's shoulders bunch visibly. It's tough to see muscles tensing and rippling beneath that armour - but one can imagine them as, with a roar, Talise forces her arms out to her sides, pushing Yaro's embrace apart. Even without the gauntlets she's carried with her in the past, Talise's natural strength, driven by sheer training and Beastwoman genetics, is enough to force her way to an opening.

She slams forward. "HOOAHT!" she shouts as she snaps Rastaban out in a punishing swing, then a second, wider one. Blows intended to force her way inside Yaro's guard and cut through his hideous ferromatter brutally.

GS: Talise Gianfair has attacked Yarobeleedt with Infinitely Rippling Waters!
GS: Talise Gianfair has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Talise Gianfair has completed her action.
GS: Zed takes a glancing hit from Lady Harken's Killing Intent for 105 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Ambrosius observes as the Rephaim charges toward him, drawing a beam sabre. Nimue raises an arm to block the strike. The pink glow cuts into it, blackening the blue metal.

"Power output...above expected parameters. Fascinating." Ambrosius murmurs to himself. Just what was this machine...?

The Nimue shifts, attempting to practically slap the beam aside and leveling a hand at the Rephaim's torso. Green energy begins to build before firing off toward it in a single shot.

...And then, he hears a transmission. He had almost forgotten he had installed them. The technology was primitive compared to that typical for the Veruni, but it had been necessary while he was working with...

Ambrosius frowns. It was best not to continue that train of thought. He did not need that weighing him down while he was fighting.

"You are well informed, miss." Ambrosius comments. "I do not suppose I could convince you to stand down?"

He takes note, then of the Rephaim's passenger. He remembered that one. The golem its pilot, though he cannot currently see her.

As she has not yet aggressed him directly, Ambrosius does not attack just yet. Instead the Nimue backpedals to put a little more distance between itself and the Rephaim. As it does so, a shimmering film of water begins to appear over it...

GS: Ambrosius has attacked Ambrosius with Aqua Shield!
GS: Ambrosius has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ambrosius has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Ambrosius heals Ambrosius! He gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Lunata Croze with Palm Cannon!
GS: Ambrosius has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a glancing hit from Siegfried's Nemesis Cleave for 88 hit points!
GS: Lunata Croze takes a solid hit from Ambrosius's Palm Cannon for 286 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

        Similarly to Lily, the only reason Josie's even bothered to be in a place like Hilton is the fact that they need a ship. The Fereshte... who knows how skyworthy the thing is, to say nothing of the fact that they could end up apparently drawing 'unwanted attention' again.
        And besides, even if Sunshine wouldn't mind it, Josie would rather get on over on her own two feet... so to speak.

        The last time she'd tried to negotiate a ship, the ship had ended up sans one mast.

        "Make sure you come armed," she'd mentioned to Lily.

        Maybe about two, three hours later, there had been screaming.

        Josie gazes up towards the skies, sighting each and every one of those dark shapes, and then scowls. "Oh, for..."

        A moment later she's ground her cigarette under a booted heel and, already unholstering her rifle, sets out for the docks.

        "Not going to settle with one boat scuttled, huh?" she informs an oncoming Metal Beast, punctuating her statement with a single rifleshot to the head. "So, what's the plan? Setting the entire dock on fire? Sorry, but I'll just have to agree to disagree," she tells another advancing creature as its maw unhinges and it leaps.

        It takes another two bullets to leave this one still and unmoving behind her.

        "Can't say I like the look of this one," she murmurs, perched for the moment behind the cover of a building. "Tiger, I hope you've got a plan, because I'm gonna have to wing it."

        The coast is clear, for the moment. Nothing seems to be crawling through this avenue. Slipping out from her cover, it's here that Josie sees her.

        An unfamiliar woman, seated at a cafe table.
        Having a drink, as calm as can be.
        Surrounded by bodies.

        Rifle resting against her shoulder, it's here that the archaeologist begins her slow approach.

        "Drink any good?" she asks Persephone, settling herself into the seat nearest the woman. Her own gaze tracks, for the moment, the advance of the incoming Metal Demons, almost pointedly so. "Can't say I've ever had much truck with drinks like it. A little too... fancy for my tastes. You know what I mean?"

        Josie loosens her grip on the rifle, allowing it to rest against the cafe table.

        "So, what brings you here?"

        She has drawn rather quickly from within her jacket a sidearm of some make -- Aveh, if Persephone knows the styling -- and points it at the woman, across the table.

        Her finger rests on the trigger.

        "Be honest, now. I've got an itchy trigger finger~"

<Pose Tracker> Ines Colina has posed.

        As Bogey manages to swing out of the way, Ines growls, especially as she knows this now leaves her back open to counterattack. It's lucky that she's able to turn herself at all, let alone see the lance coming. As it stands, the lance is coming straight for her side. She brings one hand down to grab it, but it starts to slide through her grasp.

        The lance pierces vest and shirt, but then comes up against metal undershirt. A surprisingly light, clothlike metal. It may be light, but it's sturdy. Ines' find from the Glint Mirage ends up serving it's purpose. Ines grins. "Furacao, get clear." She whispers to her Horse, and then she leaps from the saddle, a burst of wind raising her upwards. While airborne, Ines pulls a three weighted boleadoras from her belt, and slings it at Bogey, activating the wind runes on the weight. The weight flies towards the beast, aiming to entangle it's legs, while Ines aims to land on the other side of Malfi and her mount.

        Furacao, for his part, follows orders, making some distance from the battlefield. Grudgingly, if you can tell if a horse is doing something grudgingly.

GS: Yarobeleedt takes a solid hit from Talise Gianfair's Infinitely Rippling Waters for 176 hit points!
GS: Ines Colina has attacked Malfi with Bewitched Boleadora!
GS: Ines Colina has completed her action.
GS: Malfi has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ines Colina has lost 1 Combo!
DC: MISS! Malfi completely evades Bewitched Boleadora from Ines Colina!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ceimglace has posed.

         Exploration was always the name of the game... and Hilton is always a target. Any city on Filgaia is a target for Ceimglace, who walks. Listens. She may not be seen, but that doesn't stop her from learning lusty bar songs, booming working songs, the heartaching ballads of mothers with lost children, or the tear-ridden songs as the dead are sent into the afterlife.
 
         Death. What a strange concept.
 
 % Death coming to a guard, reaching to someone... someone who promptly stabs their heel into that reaching hand. Anger flares in the ice of her soul, and Ceimglace, without missing a beat, acts. She's been chilling for so long... let's get a little bit more of a fiery temperature in here. She sings, holding a distinctly high, almost piercing note as her hands clap together, before they seperate, a extremely pointed and sharp icicle, but then Josie shows... Josie shows and uses a very strange brand of diplomacy that gets a pitch of silent laughter from the Seraph, who circles around the tables. Depending on which of the two can see her, this is either an extremely good - or an extremely bad thing. Behind Persephone, facing Josie, however, does Ceimglace wonder, out loud:
 
         "Nothing good, I'm sure."

GS: Gwen Whitlock guards a hit from Siegfried's Ion Pulse for 98 hit points!
GS: Mighty! Statuses applied to Siegfried!
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi expects her foe to counterattack, and she does, hurling a chain with weights on each of its three ends right at Bogey's legs. Bogey dodges expertly: he's far more agile than Malfi herself. Ines' horse is fleeing, following its preyanimal instincts. Bogey, on the other hand, has a predator's instincts, and he and Malfi can both feel Mother's presence, soothing, comforting, strengthening, and firming their resolve. Malfi urges Bogey to rush the beastwoman while she's afoot, Malfi and Bogey acting as one...

GS: Malfi has spent 2 Combo on Gatling, including 1 on Gatling!
GS: Malfi has attacked Ines Colina with Teamwork!!
GS: Malfi has completed her action.
GS: Lydia Seren takes a glancing hit from Lady Harken's Redshift Feint for 67 hit points!
GS: Riposte! Statuses applied to Lady Harken!
GS: CRITICAL! Lily Keil guards a hit from Lady Harken's Redshift Feint for 98 hit points!
GS: Cripple and Poison! Statuses applied to Lily Keil!
GS: Hyper and Riposte! Statuses applied to Lady Harken!
GS: Elvis critically Guards a hit from Lemina Ausa's Ice Lance for 25 hit points!
GS: Elvis has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lemina Ausa has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Ines Colina guards a hit from Malfi's Teamwork! for 78 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

        There's a grimace from Lunata as she hangs on tight, clinging onto her flightsticks. The Rephaim jukes to one side as the Veruni Golem effectively swats the beam sabre aside--

        "It can just hold onto the beam...?!" Lunata remarks as she stares towards the green energy building up.

                                   -=< WARNING! WARNING! >=-

        The white winged Gear thrashes a little, smoke covering its torso as the Nimue's cannon impacts against it; for a moment, it looks like that direct hit is enough to make it stop moving--

        --but Ambrosius could see an iridescent barrier that wells and oscillates, seemingly integrated with the 'flesh' of its metallic torso; slowly, the palm cannon's blast is diffused, leaving a scathing singe on the Gear where it may have wrecked a lesser unit.

        "... sorry, can't do that. We need to head east and finish all this..." Lunata remarks, though something gives her pause.

        "... have we met before?"

        There's no room to pause, though -- the hip-mounted railguns swivel into place as they pop off with a deafening thunderclap of 'BANG, BANG' noises -- systems would indicate that they're high-velocity kinetic rounds; at the same time, Lunata's giving that beam sabre more of a work-out as she thrusts it once more in the wake of her railgun blasts.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

        "--this one's got my full attention, Lunie--" Lunata adds as she watches the shielding be powered, largely thanks to the cabling connecting the machine. Shalune can see that the barrier's holding, but perhaps not for long, under these conditions.

        "I'll at least tangle with it and keep it from destroying more ships!"

GS: Lunata Croze has attacked Ambrosius with Beam Weapon Combination!
GS: Lunata Croze has completed her action.
GS: Ambrosius takes a solid hit from Lunata Croze's Beam Weapon Combination for 324 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

'Traitors' she says. Zed's lips split into a fierce grin, even as his WILD FLAILING inexplicably completely fails to connect with the crimson demon. What a suprirse!! "Nyahahahaha! I'd never turn back! You don't get it? I finally found a place where I can fight to my heart's content and not feel guilty about it! I mean, I still feel guilty since I'm fightin' my own, but comparatively! I feel way less like a jackass!"

The thing that looks far too much like a Demon Fang(tm) streaks towards him, leaving a trail of howling, collapsing atmosphere in its wake. Zed has seen too many of these. Claude practically lives and breathes them. But even so, his block is... Not perfect. There's a definite flaw to the way he parries the projectile, but the fact that he can at least speaks to his familiarity with it if nothing else. Doombringer scythes upward, shattering the already fragmented sound barrier. The Demon Fang(tm) breaks, its winds tearing into his body and driving him back... But...!

He's still... In one piece...!

"Siegfried... Doesn't understannd..." Zed continues, holding his sword to one side. "He thinks humans are weak. That they don't understand power. But that's exactly why I need to fight with them! How could I call myself a warrior if I spent all my time stomping the 'weak' into the pavement and never challenging the 'strong!?'"

"Here I go!" Zed yells, takes a step forward, and...

Vanishes into a blur of motion...!

He reappears at Harken's far side a moment later. Only then does the sound of a sword rendered into a blender catch up with him. In that narrow gap of time... Harken would have found herself needing to defend her ankles and calves from Zed's sword-swings. What a jerk, hitting her legs!!

GS: Zed has attacked Lady Harken with Miracle Strike - Phantom Bite!
GS: Zed has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Elvis has posed.

The elements of impact, Water and Earth, are at Elvis' call. So the place in which both meed needs turmoil, and the elements are commanded to aggrieve. To use such power together requires concentration. The magnitude of the effect increases, ripples out, begins to affect more area. The land around Elvis starts to fracture and crumble.

Thethelle emerges, to protect the city of Hilton. She closes the distance uninterrupted, though the ground is becoming treacherous. Her fist strikes true, and finds Elvis' torso is nearly hard as a rock. The man does grunt however on impact, coupled with flinching. But otherwise seems unerred in his task.

And then Tethelle screams in his ear. "AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!"

Elvis promptly freaks out, and staggers backward, holding his ear. "THAT WAS LOUD! HOW RUDE!" The elemental disturbance promptly silences. The Veruni scrambles to his feet, still cupping an ear. A frigid lance rimes over the arm holding that ear and up his hand. "That feels better-- wait TOO COLD!"

The man has to pry his hand away from his ear. A bit of skin and hair comes with it, the ice having gripped it tight. "Hey! I did everyone in this district a service and made sure they ran! Don't lump me in with them like that!" the muscular grandfellow bellows. "You two wouldn't understand anyway! Now how about you both flee like everyone else did?!"

A stomp of an immaculate booted heel has the ground around Tethelle fracturing much faster than what he was originally doing, with seconds passing before the area is a gravel pit. A glance toward Lemina. A single mach punch forces a shockwave into being that rips down what is left of the boardwalk, splitting stone underneath and generally knocking anything in its patch around like a ragdoll. "You are lucky I don't hit young ladies directly!"

GS: Elvis has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Hi-Crush!
GS: Elvis has attacked Lemina Ausa with Rapid Punch!
GS: Elvis has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Elvis has completed his action.
GS: Tethelle Cirdian takes a solid hit from Elvis's Hi-Crush for 127 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

        Yarobeleedt shudders with the revulsion of remembering what happened the last time he tried to squeeze someone to death, but the anticipation that maybe he'll settle any one of many one-sided scores (most of them imagined) today on his search for true glory even as he further physically deteriorates little by little every time he's forced into a regenerative torpor.
        Talise's astounding physical strength renews the fears in question. She'll have it a bit harder with the more solid arm, but even if both of them were still 'good' (by Yarobeleedt standards of being 'good'), between the two of them it is no contest as to who carries more muscular might. The more solid shoulder creaks and pops like something's snapping, while the less solid one goes floppy and gives way as Talise pries him open.
        "Do not rag on Yaro!! You did not bag ye--" 'HOOAHT!' He is thrown backwards, upper body bending into the lower biomass as she shoves him open and digs in with Rastaban. One swing cuts clean, and quicksilver splashes the deck. A second, wider one ensures another visceral spray in which to decorate Rastaban.
        There is a metallic scream.
        His form goes low to the rolling deck, and a sheet of shiny metallic fabric encompasses him.
        ...
        ...
        ...
        ...
        ...
        ...He just...waits it out inside a sheet of metal-like fabric, wrapped around him like some sort of cocoon as it shivers and shakes like an--
        "This is last time!!" Yarobeleedt screeches as he emerges and just throws the whole thing on Talise. It's just a heavy metal-laced blanket. His voice is raspy, as quicksilver leaks out the side of his mouth. "It is not like last time! Because I hate last time!! This is last time outstead!!!" If Talise doesn't find a way to mitigate or throw off having the Sheet Cocoon thrown upon her, he takes his more solid arm and morphs it into a poorly balanced, multi-headed hammer weight with at least one pointy end that's facing the wrong direction.
        Then he just starts trying to hammer down on it, over and over and over.

GS: Yarobeleedt has activated a Force Action!
GS: Yarobeleedt has attacked Talise Gianfair with Car Lush!
GS: Yarobeleedt has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Yarobeleedt has completed its action.
GS: Talise Gianfair critically Guards a hit from Yarobeleedt's Car Lush for 21 hit points!
GS: Talise Gianfair has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Yarobeleedt has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Gear engines roar to life, and they are entirely too close for Ida's comfort. She chances a look up, her throat tightening as she sees Rephaim descending on the docks--on some sort of enemy machine. She takes a moment to fervently hope that Lunata minds the collateral damage. Keeping the Gears firmly in her peripheral vision, she focuses back on Siegfried. "I thought it might be worth a go," Ida says. Glumzamber races at her, driven by both alien muscle and flawless form. Ida blurs backwards, chi speeding her movements--and even then, it's a narrow thing. The great weapon grazes her, leaving a bright scarlet line across the off-white fabric of her shirt. Ida bites her tongue, wincing, trying not to let too much pain creep into her face. She's not entirely successful.

        "At the very least, nothing changes!" Ragnell shows. In a way, this is something of a blessing--if there is one thing Seraph Ragnell is good at, in Ida's estimation, it's getting under people's skin. "But this is the victory you promised your people." Ida's right hand is a golden blur as it darts beneath her duster and comes up holding an ARM. Devil's Due has been freshly-repaired from its unfortunate destruction at the hands of Lady Harken--and the Demonbone parts look different. Fresher. Like they're not just bits of skeleton dug out and worked into a weapon. Chi blazes from the weapon's muzzle as Ida takes aim at center-mass. "Was it worth everything?"

        Ida pulls the trigger, and sends a slug racing towards Siegfried's heart. She knows better than to assume it will be lethal.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Siegfried with Chi Bullet!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
GS: Siegfried guards a hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Chi Bullet for 72 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ines Colina has posed.


tAs Ines lands, she sees the combination of metal beast and rider descending upon her, and she growls. As she plants her feet, and braces for the attack. As Bogey rams into her, Ines' metal spell struggles to withstand the attack, and she is pushed back. Obvious tracks form in the ground as Ines is shifted against her will with her back leading to a wall. Not a lot of room to move here, and the beast is already upon her. Fine. Time for plan B.

        Runes on Ines' hands, chest and shoulders glow, and her grey skin turns earthen all over, while her knuckles grow large iron spikes. Fine. "Not a talkative one, are you?" She growls, as she prepares for the next attack.

GS: Ines Colina has attacked Ines Colina with Stone Skin Iron Fist!
GS: Ines Colina has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Ines Colina has completed her action.
GS: Ines Colina takes a solid hit from Ines Colina's Stone Skin Iron Fist for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Shield! Statuses applied to Ines Colina!
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia's sass doesn't even get a remark from Siegfried. "Daang, ice cold, man.

"I don't know, man." She adds, looking towards Zed. "Did you spawn out of Claude's--" She doesn't get to finish that sentence because she is impaled by Harken's scythe, going through her chest and through her back, barely missing the spine.

Lydia grits her teeth. "Damn...still not fast enough." She swings herself to the side, the scythe furthing ripping through her body as she does so, but it does free Lydia up.

"Don't lecture me." She says. "You don't even know who you are. But me? I haven't forgotten!" She manages to stand and it becomes apparent why shortly after. Strands of flesh and metal and rapidly knitting themselves back together where Harken's scythe ripped through.

"Lily, Cecilia--" Lydia says. "I've got something that I know for sure will put the hurt on Harken...Probably? But I can't make sure it hits."

She has no idea if they're going to listen to her but a panel in her chest opens up and jettisons a Silver medium into her hands. "And don't lecture someone whose DAD you killed you weirdo!! If you're so much wiser why do you suck so much?? If that's what wisdom then I guess idiocy is the new genius!"

She raises the medium up and says, "Rigdobrite... don't let them destroy our hope before we've even gotten a chance to fight for Filgaia!"

And with that an eruption of streaming light erupts out of Lydia and threatens to crash right into Lady Harken.

GS: Lemina Ausa guards a hit from Elvis's Rapid Punch for 113 hit points!

GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Lady Harken with Interstellar Vibe!
GS: Lydia Seren has completed her action.
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde takes a solid hit from Lady Harken's Redshift Feint for 135 hit points!
GS: Riposte! Statuses applied to Lady Harken!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        Ah, and here comes the wonder courier, Gwen Whitlock, running up to try to nicely ask the Quarter Knight if he'd maybe back off, while also shooting at him. Of course, everyone knows the answer is going to be "no," so it just makes rational sense that she'd ask this while also shooting at him, especially since most Metal Demons respect power first and foremost. Ragnell gives the redhead a jaunty little two-fingered saluted off the brim of her hat, though no more than that since Siegfried is effortlessly deflecting most of her opening salvo off his armor, and that's a nice reminder that this is not an enemy she can play around with.
        
        Of course, that's the point. Ragnell wouldn't be going out of her way to fight him if she thought he'd be a pushover. Which is why she cackles at Siegfried's rhetorial question. "We don't!" she drawls, shrugging broadly, which is maybe dangerous when you have a gun in each hand. "But that's not what this is about, y'know? This is just about the thrill o' battle! I'm sure you get *that* much!!"
        
        She brings one arm up across her chest, a Seraphic glyph forming at her feet as she charges up a lightning arte. "Pierce through! Shock Lancer!" she calls, then points towards the Quarter Knight and looses a crackling lance of lightning to shoot across the battlefield at him.
        
        "He's got a point, Ida," Ragnell adds then, glancing over at her. "Why bother askin' him what he's about if you're aimin' to stop him no matter what it takes? I mean--" And here she grins toothily. "What d'*you* care 'bout what he promised *his* people?"
        
        Yes. Getting under people's skin is indeed a thing Ragnell does.

GS: Seraph Ragnell has attacked Siegfried with Shock Lancer!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has completed her action.
GS: Siegfried critically Guards a hit from Seraph Ragnell's Shock Lancer for 21 hit points!
GS: Siegfried has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Unexpectedly, Malfi LAUGHS, even as she gazes suspiciously at Ines' runes and their effects. They must be magic, and magic was Bad. Very Bad. "And what," she chuckles "do you suggest we talk about?" Bogey wheels deftly, pressing the attack. They have practiced this maneuver hundreds of times in the snowplains outside the Photosphere. The port was toast -- or going to be!

GS: Malfi has attacked Ines Colina with Ursa Major!
GS: Malfi has completed her action.
GS: Lady Harken takes a glancing hit from Zed's Miracle Strike - Phantom Bite for 39 hit points!
GS: Cripple! Statuses applied to Lady Harken!


<Pose Tracker> Persephone has posed.

As the man becomes silent, still, just another object lying around the harbor, Persephone shakes her head. Such a waste of energy, for herself and the others - yet on the other hand, it's something that brings some slight pleasure. The result, in the very least.

Then comes a question.
        'Drink any good?'
                "Bitter. It might be perfect."

The response comes from Persephone as she closes her eyes and places it against the table carefully, looking over to the woman that places herself in the seat nearby her - far too close for safety. Either hers, or the humans. Eyes glance, uninterested, over to Josephine, trailing over the weapon first. The ARM, the rifle that is rested against thet able. The weapon that is drawn afterwards, spun around, pointing towards her - trigger already primed, barrel pointing towards her.

"I have no reason to lie, it's nothing you can retroactively stop." She claims, a slightly venomous smirk upon her face. "I'm capturing a story~. You don't understand just how much the ratings depend on new content, especially those that show a major human hub burning down." Shaking her head, she picks the coffee back up once more, sipping it, as she leans forwards, one hand still under her chest, pressed against the table. "Though before, I was just helping communicate exactly what the perfectly worst time for them to show up could be. I think it worked out, do you?"

Ceimglace speaks. Persephone may not have smiled before, but there's a slight tweak of her lips upwards at those words. Her head doesn't turn.

Until the cup is emptied, "It doesn't matter what you know, anyways. Especially with these being your last moments." The cup smashes against the table - the Sentinel twisting her own Veruni styled pistol, golden in color, out as she knees the table up and towards Josephine, to shower her with shards and the table as she kicks back, away from the woman - though not entirely away from Ceimglace.

"If you hadn't drawn a gun on one of the Sentinels," Persephone states as she slides back onto a heel, leaning backwards as she extends the ARM towards Josephine, "It might have been a more illuminating conversation. But I don't mind this."


<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Talise's technique hits home, but the way Yarobeleedt reacts is all too familiar. Last time around, she hurt him badly enough that he went into his defensive crouch and obligated the defenders of that other town to beat on him like a bunch of thugs kicking a sick puppy. This time, Yaro again spools out that metallic sheet. Talise...

...Talise makes the same mistake she did last time. She pities someone she shouldn't pity. It's like beating up a scared kid, she realizes, and she hangs back a moment, her defensive posture still in place as she considers how to get rid of this Metal Demon without seriously hurting hi--

Or not. It's a trick. Talise gasps and widens her eyes as Yarobeleedt lunges and hurls his cocoon at her. The metallic sheet descends over her.

"What!" she shouts, her voice muffled by the blanketing cocoon. She tries to push it off of her by swinging her arm out, mostly just rippling it around a lot more and throwing off the Metal Scout's aim. That misshapen hammer hits the deck beneath the Cocoon once, then again. Then it hits something solid and metal, but not completely. There's a loud grunt of impact from beneath the blanket.

"Of course you realize this means war," Talise says levelly.

And then there is another sound. A silvery hiss of metal - and then a screech of tortured ferrous fibers as Talise slashes upwards, attempting to cut a Talise-sized hole in Yaro's cocoon.

And if she can cut that hole, she'll shoulder through it, swing again, and attempt to slam the pommel of Rastaban into him, then knock him away with a violent shoulder check square to the... chest? The chest. Or the... blob.

"This won't be like last time," she shouts, "because I'm not gonna let you trick me into going easy on you!"

GS: Talise Gianfair has attacked Yarobeleedt with Not Anymore There's A Blanket!
GS: Talise Gianfair has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Talise Gianfair has completed her action.
GS: Ines Colina guards a hit from Malfi's Ursa Major for 64 hit points!
GS: Slow! Statuses applied to Ines Colina!
<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

How war is waged...

Well, Lily is always armed, she'd told Josie earlier. That's true now more conventionally at least, as Lily stares over the barrell of her gun at Harken--Harken, who was able to twist to block her bullet midair. ...It might be dismaying, if she hadn't fought Harken before. As it is, the sorceress nods her way, the ruined wreck of bullet crashing into stones. Harken from her perch can watch Lily staring up at her in turn.

"Are they?" she asks Harken in return. "...That implies that I care more about protecting this city than eliminating a high-value target while I have the chance."

Her eye skips once--moves to Cecilia as she moves in, and Lily has to adjust her calculus some. ...Is she bluffing? It's hard to say.

...But there is a reason she has to hold back. Will she be able to stick with that, or will she have to do otherwise?

"No guarantees I can pin her down!" Lily calls to Lydia as an illusory(?) Harken barrels down towards her. Without a weapon for melee range, Lily is left to defend without, throwing out her hand. It glows with a blue light, circuits up her hands, as she starts to conjure a shield--

But the scythe hacks through it while it's still forming, and Lily hisses in reply as she draws back her hand, blood spraying onto the ground beside her from her palm, her wrist--

"Still fast," she murmurs back, trying to judge which is real, which is false--

Holstering her weapon, Lily keeps backing up for the moment, kicking for Harken's thigh once before she puts both hands forward. "Haaah--!"

Chill Ether erupts all around her; she hits the ground in an instant, slamming wounded and whole palm both down, and ice tracks along the ground in a sudden trail of frost--before it explodes upward in a blast of frigid vapor, the air cooling so much in an instant that it turns to liquid at her best magical guess.

GS: Lily Keil has attacked Lady Harken with Ether Impact!
GS: Lily Keil has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lily Keil takes 6 damage from Poison!
GS: Lily Keil has completed her action.
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Lily Keil's Ether Impact for 75 hit points!
GS: Break! Statuses applied to Lady Harken!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Lydia Seren's Interstellar Vibe for 115 hit points!
GS: Yarobeleedt takes a glancing hit from Talise Gianfair's Not Anymore There's A Blanket for 75 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

has a good set of lungs on her.

"I will lump you in as long as you are helping them," Tethelle growls. She has a sudden urge to grab Elvis and drag him off, but there are some problems with that... the most obvious of which is that he has two full feet of height on her and is built to match.

The stone underfoot grinds, and Tethelle attempts to evade, stepping swiftly backwards to safer ground. But the ground behind her is not safe at all - it is almost dust, and she falls inside the pit of churning stone, the rock grinding against her as she yells, trying to pull herself out.

"My name is Tethelle Cirdian," she says, finally pulling her bruised leg free as she shoots Lemina a glance. She remembers her, vaguely, and appreciates the help. "I don't know who you are, but when I am done with you, you won't be able to assist the Metal Demons any longer." A beat: "And you don't hit girls? Are you from ancient history? I'm a better swordswoman than any of the boys that were in my training group ever were."

Tethelle draws her sword - as soon as Elvis turned the magic on her, it turned lethal, especially given the fire and violence across the city. She holds it two-handed, standing side-on to Elvis instead of head on, the sword pointing backwards and away from him - until she steps forward, whirling it through an almost dance-like movement that looks like it belongs to a sword far lighter than this one. She strikes, twirls, strikes low, spins again and ends up in a more defensive posture, the blade held diagonally across her body as if preparing to parry.

Though, can she even parry magic?

GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Elvis with Reverse Edge!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Agatha Pyrelight has posed.

 Alas, it seems the others have engaged the Drifters who have come to help. While Agatha COULD continue to burn things at this point, she isn't here for the sake of random destruction. Instead she's more interested in alleviating her boredom... and if no one is going to fight her, she might as well do some people watching and see if anything interesting made itself apparent.
 
 Raising her hands, the Pyre Witch claps twice... and in response, her minions melt into the shadows once more, leaving only a trio of her large, overly muscled servants to right a barrel and procure a stool for the red haired witch to perch upon. A glass of wine is taken from a broken and half burned crate, and going with the more barbaric mood of the battle... Agatha just pops the cork out with one taloned finger and drinks directly from the bottle.
 
 "Not bad," she muses, watching the fighting on the docks with a rather bemused expression. She considers the brawl around Siegfried - quite passionate all around. The Quarter Knight has so much rage that Agatha is amazed that he doesn't Hellionize despite being a Metal Demon. Some things are just so potent that they transcend logical boundaries. Ragnell's taunting though.. Agatha laughs, and smirks as she takes another pull from her bottle. "Oh Ragnell, you naught Seraph you," she chides, although her comment is likely unheard by anyone.
 
 As for Harken... that one was interesting. Agatha had nowhere near the information she would like on that one, but there was potential there. And as for her other favorite person of the moment...
 
 "You could do SO much better if you just cut loose and didn't worry about the collateral holding you back, dear Lily," the witch states in amusement. And Lily can probably hear her, all things considered - despite her not making any special effort. "Of course you won't - all those sharp edges, and yet you are so reluctant to cut..."

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

        Shalune twitches a little at the voice; it's familiar to her, and that makes the fight that much more real to her. Just recently, she offered a truce to Ambrosius as they faced down the innards of a ruin; just recently, she hoped that perhaps she could start building a bridget between humans and Veruni, or at least offer her own expertise in trying to perhaps figure out something around VR and ways to work past it. Not that she had the faintest clue what she could even offer, but-- she wanted to at least try.

        That hope feels vanishingly small right about now, with everything that's happened and everything that's weighed on her mind the last few weeks. But even then, a hand steals to her neck, clinging on to the leather strap there and the ring threaded onto it as she forces herself to close her eyes and take a deep breath. Shalune didn't come this far being a pessimist, even when there doesn't seem to be much to be optimistic about.

        "... you're not fighting alone!" she decides all of a sudden, and sets her jaw as she pulls her head up. "Big Shal, we've got to join in! We won't get anywhere just hoping they'll go away!"

        It isn't clear whether the golem was waiting for Shalune's permission or just waiting for a useful opportunity - but either way Big Shal rumbles up into motion, its eyes sparking with their own light as the cable connecting it to the Rephaim abruptly detaches. Bracing itself, the golem waits - and when Lunata's Gear thrusts forwards in the midst of its combination, Shalune's ride lets go, propelled forwards by the momentum of the strike.

        In mid-air, the golem raises one arm - and the metal around the machine shifts and twists unnaturally, tearing apart and then building in on itself. Big Shal's torso thins as it loses mass, but in return the golem's hand has become a large spiked ball of metal, almost half the Golem's size - and it uses the sheer force of gravity to slam downwards into the Nimue's shoulder in a shattering punch completely unexpected for its size.

GS: Shalune Amira has attacked Ambrosius with Big Shal Punch!
GS: Shalune Amira has completed her action.
GS: Ambrosius takes a solid hit from Shalune Amira's Big Shal Punch for 210 hit points!


GS: Ines Colina has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

Lemina gets blasted with kicked-up stone, and nearly topples right into the drink. Fortunately, she's getting out her staff when she's hit, and is able to arrest her momentum by dragging it across the ground until it catches on something. It's not a very elegant defense, but it's better than nothing!

Especially since, well -- have *you* ever fallen in the water in a cute dress? It's no good!!

Lemina's teeth grind a little as she finds stable footing again. Tethelle issues some comments on Elvis's hesitation to hit girls, pauses a moment, and considers. After a few moments' thought, she calls over:

"YEAH UH I'M NOT WITH HER! YOU CAN NOT-HIT ME ALL YOU WANT! MEGA GOOD AND COOL!"

She has no compunctions about hitting an Elvis, however. With ice seeming not to work, Lemina decides to try fire -- specifically, a quick twirl of her staff that's mirrored on the ground in front of Elvis by a high ring of fire! If nothing else, it seems like it'd give her a little more time to react... or perhaps just a little more time to plan her next offensive.

GS: Lemina Ausa has attacked Elvis with Fire Ring!
GS: Lemina Ausa has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lemina Ausa has completed her action.

<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

        "Touch steel!" That almost works, in place of hold still? That might be a laudable quip, as Yarobeleedt struggles to hammer Talise into a bloody pulp, which might force him to reflect upon how much of a mess he makes just by being and that he would have to be on the other end of cleaning up some unsightly stuff for once.
        His eyes blink arrhythmically with a squeal of displeasure as Talise murmurs from underneath the Sheet Cocoon, and then a squeal of equal parts surprise and anger as she cuts through, and slams right into him like he weighs almost nothing!
        That might register as a little off, like that much might've been easy. Even so, he violently flies right over the edge of the boat and there's even a splashing sound that sounds a bit less impactful than maybe it ought to... but if Talise runs over to the edge to look, he's not there. There's a gaping hole in the hull (a hole situated high enough that it's not in danger of sinking unless the ship dips down deep enough into the water, but still a hole).
        *SHINK*
        A blade-arm stabs between the cracks of the wooden boards that make up the deck underneath Talise.
        *PLOP*
        The deck shudders underneath this second impact, but nothing sticks through in which to do any harm.
        *SHINK*
        Then there's another bladed arm trying to stab from below!
        *PLOP*
        ...Ah, Talise is in exactly half as much mortal danger as she would be in this given situation, but now there's a Yarobeleedt under the deck trying to stab at her through the cracks.
        Did he intentionally throw himself overboard just to set this up?!

<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Cecilia hears Lily muttering about blowing up the city, which earns her a scowl.

During which, Harken totally owns her; Cecilia's barrier flares in one frame and she's just gone the next, blasted across the distance and thumping to a halt against the stones. She groans, slowly reangling herself upright, a boneless, pained motion. She slaps a hand to her Crest case, glaring at Harken. Lydia's promises should prompt Cecilia to move to a supportive role. Bind her, boon Lydia, help them out...But something stokes inside her, burning and searing, and Cecilia thrusts the first Crest she grabs forth, a hate like fire in her eyes. She tries to say something sharp, something pointed.

The only word that comes out is "HARKEN!!" as she forces the magic into form by memory more than skill just at the moment. An icon of Black magic blazes at the top; Wing at the top, Fray at the side. Other icons all around, tantalizing details of the framework of the Crest. A magical formula, and its solution is a blasting fork of lightning magic, bolting to blast Harken with all power!

GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Lady Harken with Heart of the Crests!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ines Colina has posed.

        As the bear charges, Ines is driven back through the wall this time. She rolls backward, and hits the ground, her bowler hat being knocked free from her head. Fine. "Just wanted to know if your voice was as hideous as the rest of you." The grey giant stands up, grabbing her hat and slipping it back on her head as she looks at the metal beast ahead of her.

        And then a burst of wind is at her back as she rushes straight for Malfi and Bogey. At least, that's what it initially looks like, until she slams her fist into the ground, the glow from the massive rune on her back being visible even under her clothes, while the earth symbol on her chest lights up again. The ground ahead of her trembles and quakes, aiming to rip out Bogey's footing from under him, and do some harm to the metal duo at the same time.

        Ines then takes advantage of the burst of wind carrying her past, this time to put her back to the water. It's much easier to be sent flying into that than into a building, after all.

GS: Yarobeleedt has attacked Talise Gianfair with Spy Key!
GS: Yarobeleedt has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Yarobeleedt has completed its action.
GS: Ines Colina has attacked Malfi with Tectonic Breaker!
GS: Ines Colina has completed her action.
GS: Malfi guards a hit from Ines Colina's Tectonic Breaker for 92 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Talise Gianfair guards a hit from Yarobeleedt's Spy Key for 106 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Talise Gianfair!
GS: Talise Gianfair enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Cecilia Adlehyde's Heart of the Crests for 154 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

That barrier...interesting. Ambrosius makes a mental note of it, even as Lunata states that she can't back down. Ambrosius frowns slightly.

"I see. I can respect your resolve, at the very least." He replies. "But I cannot allow you to do that."

Had they met before? An interesting question. Hers was not a voice he'd heard before, though it was possible that he'd just forgotten it.

But he can't consider that for long - the Rephaim is upon him once more. Several high-velocity rounds impact the Nimue's arms as it raises them defensively. But soon the Rephaim shifts into close range, unleashing a flurry of beam sabre swings interspersed with further railgun shots.

It's a dangerous combination - partway through his aquatic barrier is dispersed and he is forced to rely on the Nimue's own defensive systems. He loses a little ground...and what's more, the Rephaim's passenger detaches, lunging at him. The smaller golem's arm transforms into a large, spiked ball. He goes to defend, but it impacts him with much greater force than he expected.

"That model...it should not be able to output that much power..." He mutters to himself, but quickly regains his composure.

"...The performance of your machine is impressive." Ambrosius observes, turning on his communications once more. "I have not seen its like before."

The Nimue begins to shimmer for a moment.

"Allow to me test its defensive capabilities." And with that, the Nimue submerges. It blends in with the water, and is difficult to see...

...And then, an arm shoots out of the water as the Nimue emerges, the steel-peeling claws focused into a single point with the aim of piercing right through his opponent.

But he has not forgotten Big Shal, either. The other arm faces her. Energy builds, unleashing a devastating shot of spiraling green energy.

GS: CRITICAL! Elvis critically Guards a hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Reverse Edge for 44 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Shield! Statuses applied to Tethelle Cirdian!
GS: Elvis has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Elvis takes a solid hit from Lemina Ausa's Fire Ring for 107 hit points!
GS: Mighty! Statuses applied to Lemina Ausa!
GS: Elvis enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Ambrosius has spent 3 Combo on Headshot, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Lunata Croze with Savage Impale!
GS: Ambrosius has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Shalune Amira with Drill Cannon!
GS: Ambrosius has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Lunata Croze guards a hit from Ambrosius's Savage Impale for 401 hit points!
GS: Lunata Croze enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

HIDEOUS? Malfi had been called a lot of things by humans, but hideous had never been one of them. "You're a fine one to talk!" she snaps at Ines (who, truth be told, actually looked freakish as well as oversized, even for a demihuman). Ines invokes the Earth Magic of the Rune on her back, sending the stone rippling under Bogey. It's enough to force Malfi to roll off his back, temporarily stunned. She'll be on her feet soon enough, but in the meantime is taking a moment to recover her breath. "Thanks for doing your part to destroy the wharf," she grins, toeing the torn-apart stones knowingly. "That's all we want...for the moment."

GS: Malfi has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Shalune Amira critically Guards a hit from Ambrosius's Drill Cannon for 96 hit points!
GS: Shalune Amira has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ambrosius has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

        Josephine's own smile -- a pleasant smile, cheerful and bright, that never really reaches her eyes -- doesn't falter at the answer. "Believe me, I know all about things you can't stop. I doubt whatever happens to you'd make a gella of difference either way, right?" Dark eyes flick up towards the sky, then back at the mysterious woman she's opted to make 'friends' with today.
        Just once does her gaze tilt towards Ceimglace, and there a glitter of recognition can be seen. Fleetingly.

        She sees and hears you, Ceimglace. Whatever the apparently unnoticed woman (Seraph) is going to do next, Josie is a-okay with.

        "So a reporter. Your technique needs work. You're here a little early for the story," Josie says, in those moments before Persephone goes on. One pale eyebrow arches.
        "Or helping to make the story? Well, well. That's one way to make sure you've got work to do."

        Drop by drop, Persephone swallows the last of her glass. Josie's ARM has not left the woman for so much as a second.

        Ever so slightly those dark eyes of Josie's widen. She leaps upwards as the cup smashes into the table -- too much force in it for a person of Persephone's build; too much for a human -- and raising her bad arm in a block, twists her torso as the table is summarily kicked her way. Shards dance in a slow spin before bouncing off her arm and jacket; the table requires slightly more direct action to handle. Josie kicks at it with a sweep of her leg, aiming to send it away from her and to the side.
        Her rifle goes skittering across the cobblestone road. Too far away.

        And her sidearm, gone but a second from Persephone, reorients.

        "One of the Sentinels, huh? Can't say we've met before. The name's Lovelace. Josephine Lovelace, if we're doing introductions." Her lips part, baring teeth for a moment.

        "Charmed."

        And with a snap of her fingers -- her bad hand, which provokes a faint momentary wince -- Josie, drawing upon the base of her Symbology tattoos, draws upon that most basic of spells.

        Light.

        And wills the summoned orb of light to burst in a flare.
        And then, she's in motion.

GS: Josephine Lovelace has attacked Persephone with Light Flare!
GS: Josephine Lovelace has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Josephine Lovelace has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Talise blinks as she realizes something: Yarobeleedt is light?

Not that she has time to think about it. Before she can go after him, he's already over the side. She starts forward and looks over the rail, blinking twice.

She can't assume he's gone. Especially not since there's a hole in the side of the ship. Talise looks downwards.

And then a blade arm bursts through the deck and slashes up her thigh and along her side. Armour plates buckle beneath the surprise attack. It's sharp enough to leave a painful cut up the outside of her thigh and to her hip.

"Fff," Talise hisses with pain as she staggers backwards, managing to bat away the next bladed upthrust with some effort; it nicks across her thigh anyway. Without actually being down there, she can't respond to the Metal Scout's attacks effectively, or even truly anticipate where they'll come from - he can hear the thud and clank of her armoured boots on the deck, but she can't hear much more than the vague sound of slithering, and the holes he's leaving aren't big enough for her to jump down. She'll have to lure him out somehow.

Talise widens her eyes as she looks towards the middle of the ship. The bay opening into which the fishermen tend to deposit their catch. She sprints towards it, the thudding of feet easily allowing Yaro to follow her. When another blade punches through the deck, it again slashes along her leg, drawing blood and leaving her to growl with pain. This can't continue. She speeds up - and with a long lunge, throws herself down that hole.

Fortunately the fishermen hadn't gone out yet. Into the empty hold - well, the Yaro-filled hold - Talise falls. She twists in midair, eyes immediately tracking to try and spot the yellow blob even as she descends - and she comes down with a hard grunt in a three-point stance, leaving a patch of blood on the decking.

A stance from which she charges forward with a roar, Rastaban slicing through the air with a metallic hiss as she attempts to power through Yaro with a single, upward-arcing slash.

GS: Talise Gianfair has spent 3 Combo on Headshot, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Talise Gianfair enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Talise Gianfair has attacked Yarobeleedt with Cascading Steel Dragon!
GS: Talise Gianfair has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Talise Gianfair has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        A momentary breach of naked concern breaks Gwen's mask as she sees Siegfried slice down Ida's midsection, her left hand reaching out towards the former Hellion, then snaking back to give Ida some semblance of still being in control.
        
        Not even a moment of disbelief seems to register on Siegfried's face as he answers. As Ragnell correctly assessed, Gwen already knew his answer, but his resolve is impressive, if also somewhat frightening, a feeling only strengthened by that blast of that forearm cannon of his. The beam ricochets explosively off Gwen's shielding ARM, pressing the courier back with a dazed, pained grimace, a gasp of breath heaving through her open mouth.

        It takes her a moment to compose herself, that heave of breath forming into a laugh that's just a tad bit too forced to possibly fool anyone nearby. "Just checking, just checking!"

        Ragnell may have a point in being annoying, though Gwen simply borrows that tactic towards a separate target. "I wouldn't mind knowin' myself," she starts casually. "All this pain and struggle for one small promise, and not even a hopeful one. I doubt few of 'em have even seen Mother." Blue grey eyes dare to dart towards Siegfried's face. "You've built their hopes on a thing they might not even recongize."

        No, she knows it. Zed confessed as much, at least to not ever knowing this Mother.

        "And what about you, Mr. Siegfriend? You even know what she looks like? Maybe this was all for show, and towards a good purpose too! Gettin' all those young types all fired up, puttin' some pep into their step after an era of loss. Might just be nothin' more than a dream, this Mother."

        She knows better than to believe her own annoying little lies.

        "A noble thing. Admirable! You just wanted to make everyone feel better.

        A flick of the wrist and a shot rings out, like a viper attempting to land its fangs against what it perceives as a weak spot in that armor of Siegfried's. "But it just can't come at the cost of us, y'know?"

        It's a little too unnerving just how easy it is for her to fall into this false role. But will it actually succeed in distracting him, even for a moment?

GS: Gwen Whitlock has attacked Siegfried with Crackshot!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has completed her action.
GS: Siegfried guards a hit from Gwen Whitlock's Crackshot for 35 hit points!
GS: Cripple! Statuses applied to Siegfried!
GS: CRITICAL! Yarobeleedt takes a solid hit from Talise Gianfair's Cascading Steel Dragon for 357 hit points!
GS: Yarobeleedt has Fallen! It is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Siegfried has posed.

The bullet that Ida slams into Siegfried's chestplate hits the barrier of light, which proves form-fitting. It shows through, as a series of interlocked hexagons of white light, before the chi blast washes out across it. Siegfried scowls at her, head tilted to the side. "If your silence will not be kept, it will be enforced by my hand!"

Then, he raises a hand up -- and the crash of lightning slams down into Siegfried's arm. The lightning washes over him, blasting him backward -- but only because the barrier holds against the electric discharge, keeping the worst of it from slamming into his systems. His lips curl back. "For the thrill of battle... yes, I can appreciate that! However, she speaks the truth--this battle is of greater significance!"

He lunges, first, for Ida. The Dark Spear swings down, chopping mightily for her with a quick slash. Then, Siegfried bounces up into the air, and comes for Ragnell. His blade hacks down, the Dark Spear whipping out to slash across the Seraph's midsection with a two-handed stroke. The pier shakes under his foot, when he lands.

His attention is directed towards Gwen. His eyes narrow, for a moment. "All of them have seen where she rested--the cocoon she was bound into. And, now that she has awoken, all have seen her voice. I remember it well," he says. "And I..." There is the barest hesitation. "...have seen her again! She is no lie, as you will soon learn!"

The shot bounces off his armor again. This time, however, a noticeable crack is left in Siegfried's breastplate. He grits his teeth -- and then he rushes across the battlefield. He sprints, leaps, and comes down with another wide, circular slash across Gwen's body.

GS: Siegfried enters a Counter stance!
GS: Siegfried has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Dark Spear!
GS: Siegfried has attacked Seraph Ragnell with Nemesis Cleave!
GS: Siegfried has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Siegfried enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Siegfried has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Nemesis Cleave!
GS: Siegfried has completed his action.
GS: Seraph Ragnell takes a glancing hit from Siegfried's Nemesis Cleave for 95 hit points!
GS: Gwen Whitlock takes a solid hit from Siegfried's Nemesis Cleave for 185 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lady Harken has posed.

"I see," Harken doesn't upend Zed's entire argument or call him an idiot or anything. Her lithe, but heavily-armored form twists to match the most likely vector of attack since the spry Hyadean has moved quicker than her eyes can follow. "But ours is a struggle for survival. We've time to cross blades and hone ourselves after we've done Mother's bidding, and claimed this land for her." it's more like a chiding than an impassioned debate.

You know that one time she was sedated and kind of reasonable instead of a living totem of wrath? This is like that time. The Quarter Knight's inevitable march towards the vulnerable pier and its workers is given pause, as the sharp edge of a ridiculously-named sword bites from an unseen angle. It isn't like Harken's armor is impregnable, but to ignore Zed's strike entirely would be folly and rude besides. Harken scowls again and slides backwards into a one-legged staff fighting stance with perfect fluid motion, and--parries his blow with her toes. Axe kick apparently == Sword on the new weapon triangle.

"Don't let Berserk have died for nothing. I'm sure Lord Siegfried and I can protect you, if you return. Don't make us have to destroy you."

Even if there's a tinge of regret to that tone, there's no hesitation from the Quarter Knight. Zed speaks of power, and she cannot shy from such an invitation. Harken's outstretched foot suddenly slams to the ground and she also does the too-fast-to-follow thing, rushing the nimble Hyadean with the blunt end of her weapon. The staff end. That said, it'd still put a hole in a Gear if it connects, and the only visible part of her during the process is the hazy red trail in the air from her glowing eyes, so consider this.

Lydia catches Harken's attention while she's trying to beat Zed into a pulp, though. "What do you know of me, girl?" she asks rather sternly, now just one Quarter Knight instead of a number of flickering afterimages. But not murderously. Marked difference. "Do you think the mantle of my rank doesn't hang heavily around my neck? Do you think I love to bury the fathers, mothers, sons and daughters of Filgaians for its own sake?"

(actually yes harken thats exactly what people think because you said it yourself t b h)

Superconducting Ether snakes around the Quarter Knight's feet and -definitely- stills her advance now, magical frost binding her to the ground. "Ever the professional..." Harken croons as her ire rises at last. "But some wounds, your body cannot heal from. While I can return from death's door as strong as all of your finest, combined." it's a shot right back at Lily, but I reiterate, it's missing that white-hot anger from last time.

Speaking of which, the Quarter Knight cannot budge, and thus, we solve the problem Cecilia ran into last time of the big target ducking out of the way.

But Harken, melancholy as she might be by comparison, is no fool. Azrael spins in her hands, its wicked blade glowing crimson as it detects the force of life and the energy of the Guardians nearby. A helicopter-whorl of ruby brilliance enshrines the Quarter Knight's form, and while she may be robbed of her mobility, the horrible negative-energy blizzard around her clashes angrily with the searing energies of Lydia and Cecilia's combined magics. This isn't to say it works perfectly: the Quarter Knight is thrown from her icy prison and through a nearby dwelling, exploding from the wall in an expanding cloud of mortar-dust. But she lives.

"Anger doesn't give you that much power." chides a cold voice, as two pinpricks of burning ruby stare back from the cloud. "But you're welcome to revel in it if it pleases you, girl."

Harken's scythe flashes once, and the house she flew threw--begins to collapse, actually. It also explodes into a hailstorm of flying debris at Lily, Cecilia, and Lydia all together, through which the armored form of their assailant soon follows with eyes fully aglow.

GS: Lady Harken has spent 5 Combo on Gatling, including 4 on Gatling!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Zed with Azrael - Laser Silhouette!
GS: Lady Harken has activated a Boss Action!
GS: Zed takes a glancing hit from Lady Harken's Azrael - Laser Silhouette for 115 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Lily Keil with Azrael - Moonlight Step Form!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with Azrael - Moonlight Step Form!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Lydia Seren with Azrael - Moonlight Step Form!
GS: Lady Harken has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lydia Seren has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lady Harken has lost 1 Combo!
DC: MISS! Lydia Seren completely evades Azrael - Moonlight Step Form from Lady Harken!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Lady Harken with Purpose!
GS: Lady Harken has completed her action.
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Lady Harken's Purpose for 0 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken gains Restore, shortening negative statuses by 3 turns each!
<Pose Tracker> Elvis has posed.

"It is nice to meet you, Tethelle, even if you YELLED IN MY EAR," the man grumps. Who says it was ncie to meet them in this situation?! "So this means you seek to debate on whether or not I should be doing this!" he calls to her. An arm flexes. Muscles and tendons grind, and can be heard doing so, which may be disturbing to some. "Of course, discussing such matters generally involves my fists!"

Why was he doing this? Why did he answer the Metal Demon's call?

Especially after that meeting?

Perhaps it was a good way to spy upon them. Watch their actions. Heed Volsung's imperial command. And the command was not to help them. It merely appeared to be that.

Tethelle comes in with blade in hand, placing her steel between her and the Sentinel. Hopefully inside him as well. In a flash as that blade comws in low, a hand, or a balled hand, coems down blindingly fast to deflect it away from his legs, sending it upward. An edge lacerates the side of his forearm on the way out, however, blood trickles down and drips onto what is left of the cobblestone. "Look! Just get out of here! You are too young for this nonsense!"

Does he even know how old she is? Well, he looks old himself, so...

A grimmaced at the mention of being from ancient history.

She has no idea.

"Okay, good! Just go home!" he calls over to Lemina. Elvis was actually going to ignore her too! He actually was!

And then she set part of his blouse on fire. "Hoooothothotoht!" Elvis bumbles out, putting out the smouldering finery, and grits his teeth, staring back, and then looking toward Tethelle. "FINE! Wanna be by the water?! Check it out more closely then!" the man states, and with a powerful gesture of his hand, a seafoam wave of the nearby water surges up and over the seawall (or what is left of it) to send the two careening down the boardwalk!

GS: Elvis enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Elvis has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Hydro Pressure!
GS: Elvis has gained 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Ines Colina has posed.

        So there is a way to get under the monsters skin. Ines grins as the weak comeback comes at her. "I didn't expect a monster to be so precious about her appearance." Seeing the potential tact, Ines continues pressing. "'sides. Rocks can be fixed easy. Same can't be said for your looks."

        Ines suddenly swings out with a rough roundhouse kick, not bothering to close the distance. She doesn't need to, as a sudden slicing wind heads towards Malfi and Bogey, generated by the runes on Ines' legs. She follows up with several more, focused on making it hard to close that gap, and taking the added bonus of slashing up Malfi some more, provided she can make contact.

GS: Elvis has attacked Lemina Ausa with Hydro Pressure!
GS: Elvis has completed his action.
GS: Lily Keil critically Guards a hit from Lady Harken's Azrael - Moonlight Step Form for 38 hit points!
GS: Lily Keil has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lady Harken has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a glancing hit from Siegfried's Dark Spear for 70 hit points!
GS: Ines Colina has attacked Malfi with Scything Wind Kick!
GS: Ines Colina has completed her action.
GS: Tethelle Cirdian guards a hit from Elvis's Hydro Pressure for 120 hit points!
GS: Malfi takes a solid hit from Ines Colina's Scything Wind Kick for 116 hit points!
GS: Lemina Ausa guards a hit from Elvis's Hydro Pressure for 113 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

        "Rr-rghh---"

        The Rephaim's arm comes up again; its good arm, not the makeshift cartoon glove and accordion tube that makes up its right arm. As to the story of why such a mismatched arm is there, well...

        The steel-peeling claws drills down onto a singular point-- there's a deafening clap once more as the Rephaim's barrier emerges into light, and a shower of sparks lights up the ocean at the point where the Gear's arm meeets the Golem's claw.

        There's a hiss and a horrible whirring noise, however--

        "The barrier's-- not gonna hold--"

        --and the Rephaim's forced to twist and gets rent clean along one side, an ember-hot line gleaming against the ocean surface and then bursting into a cloud of steam as the Gear goes down on one knee, further succumbed into the ocean.

        "This won't do... I need... more..."

        Her throat hitches up as the Nimue turns and blasts Big Shal with a bolt of energy; in an instant, an anger has boiled over as she exclaims, "Leave her alone!!"

        The Gear's bad arm is raised; somewhere, in the depths of the accordion tubing and withering makeshift circuits, something lurks. "I'm gonna use it, Shalune! Let the payload rip!!"

        It thrusts forward, aiming to breach the Nimue's defenses once more. The arm shines with an indefatigable light as the Rephaim strikes forward--!

        *toooooooot*

        --and the arm explodes outward in a burst of confetti, stretching... and stretching... and stretching, 'til the accordion tube is nothing but lengthy rubber, and the cartoon glove goes to give the Nimue a good ol' WHAMMO!

GS: Lunata Croze enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Lunata Croze has attacked Ambrosius with The Saturday Night Shalune Special!
GS: Lunata Croze has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Lunata Croze has completed her action.
GS: Ambrosius guards a hit from Lunata Croze's The Saturday Night Shalune Special for 223 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Cecilia Adlehyde guards a hit from Lady Harken's Azrael - Moonlight Step Form for 163 hit points!
GS: Cripple and Poison! Statuses applied to Cecilia Adlehyde!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Lady Harken!
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Monster?!? She wasn't a monster. And not nearly as hung up on her looks as Ines seemed to think. It was the shapeshifter's truth: form was nothing, essence everything. And her essence was pure Hyadean. Ines directs cutting winds at Malfi and Bogey; and, indeed, they are cut, quicksilver blood running down both their legs and Malfi's torso. Hmmm. One good bleeding deserved another. Malfi quickly forms her left arm into a metal net embedded with hundreds of tiny hooks, and tries capturing her opponent in it. If it hits, the hooks will cause many, many tiny cuts, and enable Malfi to drain off some of her foe's lifeforce.

Sharks are vulnerable to nets and hooks, right? Malfi would laugh at this if she had any actual knowledge of sharks. Her specimens have all been land-based so far...

GS: Malfi has attacked Ines Colina with Transfuse!
GS: Malfi has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Malfi has completed her action.
GS: Ines Colina guards a hit from Malfi's Transfuse for 45 hit points!
GS: Malfi drains Ines Colina! Malfi gains 22 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ceimglace has posed.

         Well, Josie spots her. Hi, Josie!
 
         Ceimglace trills a little, the icicle sitting there in her hand as she watches the conversation go down. She seems a little confused. Actually, strike that. She seems VERY confused.
 
         "What's a Sentinel?"
 
         Persephone moves - when the cup smashes down, Ceimglace throws herself backwards just on instinct, the Seraph startled by the action of the woman. The two ARMs shown between the two of the others also gets her a little: Ceimglace doesn't hold with this sort weaponry on a regular basis and is rather, rather, rather confused with what they can do on any sort of actual basis, and as such seems to not want to be near them!
 
         (Sometimes, seven hundred years of paranoia teach good lessons.)
 
         "I'm Ceimglace... Seraph of Althena." She hefts up that icicle she's been holding (that has slightly melted), and flings it at Persephone.
 
         Everyone who has read a good murder mystery knows why this is silly.

GS: Seraph Ceimglace has attacked Persephone with Thrown Icicle!
GS: Seraph Ceimglace has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Persephone takes a glancing hit from Josephine Lovelace's Light Flare for 12 hit points!
GS: Cripple, Jam, and Slow! Statuses applied to Persephone!
GS: Persephone takes a glancing hit from Seraph Ceimglace's Thrown Icicle for 26 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

"Debate?"

Tethelle keeps her blade at the ready. "I don't see a need to debate with anything other than the edge of my blade. As long as you help them, you are the enemy of everyone else on Filgaia - why would you do such a thing?" That's the one thing the Metal Demons never did, as far as she knows; they never recruited. Who would help them kill the planet they live on?

(don't answer that)

Elvis summons the very power of water against her and Lemina, and Tethelle grins, more bravado than sense. She sweeps her blade forward, into the water itself as chi energy builds along the edge of it, the silver light shimmering and sending strange refractions through the wave -

Which parts around her. Mostly. Tethelle gets pummeled to the left and right by the sheared wave, but it doesn't push her backwards more than a step or two; she's already pushing forward, her blade still shimmering as she projects a cutting line of energy right toward Elvis, slashing him despite the distance between the two!

"You can leave," Tethelle says, through her teeth. Holding this energy is hard. "I have better things to do than follow you, with Metal Demons around."

GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Elvis with Comet Blade!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

        When Big Shal's punch impacts against the Nimue's armour, it looks for all the world like it should be terminal - though not for the Veruni's aquatic Golem, but for Shalune's instead. So much of the Golem's mass has been shifted to its hand that the arm cannot handle the load any more, and the juddering impact tears the limb's structure apart, stressed metal squealing as it is shorn in two.

        Balance broken by the sudden force of the maneuver, Big Shal stumbles; with only water waiting below, the golem looks almost comical for a moment, intact hand clutching onto the Nimue for a handhold just as it had the Rephaim before it. Around it, the torn-away pieces of so much scrap metal tumble down through the air...
        ... and...
        ... ... stop.

thin her 'cockpit', Shalune grimaces, pouring her energy into the link between her and Big Shal - into the matter converter hooked up to the golem's systems. The soft whine that's come from the artifact ever since they launched suddenly begins to spike upwards in tone - and in response, the scrap components begin to levitate back upwards towards the golem, drawn up as if connected by magnetic force as the construction golem reconstructs itself in realtime.

        Still, Shalune can tell it isn't going to be fast enough. The Nimue is already looking towards the irritant on its shoulder, raising a threatening arm. For a moment, all the mechanic can do is dip her head, and place her trust in her partner--

        --and then yelp in sheer surprise as a sudden surge of energy whisks the rest of the debris up towards the Golem in a whirlwind of metal. Big Shal rears up, larger than before, and thrusts an arm in front of the bolt of energy; the makeshift shield that the machine defends behind appears to be a large chunk of hull from one of the destroyed ships, its curved shape exaggerated and twisted into a makeshift tower shield.

        "I'm coming, Lunie!" Shalune blurts; in response, Big Shal ducks beneath the sudden and colourful explosion of light from the Rephaim's rather makeshift weapon, and then grabs for the end of the accordion-like tubing, grabbing hold onto it. For a moment, it looks like Big Shal will climb her way back to the Rephaim manually - but instead the tornado of metal still drawing up to its feet shapes into a series of steps, each hanging in the air long enough for the machine to tread off of them.

        When they break apart again, they follow - and Shalune is visible as a blob of pink as she sticks her head out of her cockpit, pinpointing the areas where the Rephaim needs the most repairs - before deciding that perhaps it's best to simply layer on as much as she can. In response, the whirling metal simply bolts into place across the Rephaim's form, patching and layering - and while none of it is pretty, it does at least look functional. "Hold on! I've got you!"

GS: Shalune Amira has attacked Lunata Croze with Quick-Fix -Plating-!
GS: Shalune Amira has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Shalune Amira has completed her action.
GS: Shield! Statuses applied to Lunata Croze!
GS: Shalune Amira heals Lunata Croze! She gains 400 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ines Colina has posed.

        The net digs into rocklike skin, and red blood leaks from Ines wounds. The net is coiled around her arms and face, and little cuts appear all over her. Enough to give Malfi a small amount of energy. Ines grimaces, but pulls herself back slightly. Whatever the case, she has a connection to her opponent now, and she's not about to waste it.

        Suddenly, Ines dives into the water, aiming to pull Malfi forward with to the edge of the docks. Wind runes give her speed as she pulls back, her gills coming to life as she attempts to drag Malfi out to the edge of the dock and away from her metal beast companion.

        And then she suddenly turns back, giving Malfi slack. She flies back at Malfi like a torpedo, leaping out of the water with the metal spikes on her knuckles having grown huge, aiming to plunge her fist into, and possibly through, the metal demon's chest. And even if she misses, it'll leaving a hell of a hole in the ground.

GS: Ines Colina has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ines Colina has spent 4 Combo on Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Ines Colina has attacked Malfi with Hullbreaker Knuckle!
GS: Ines Colina has completed her action.
GS: Malfi takes a solid hit from Ines Colina's Hullbreaker Knuckle for 274 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Okay we can just ignore each other, that works too!" Lydia says to Cecilia or maybe Filgaia. "This is a great plan that I'm sure one of the scariest Metal Demons in the world won't take advantage of!"

Lydia glances to Lily. "Well, I'm starting to think maybe we're actually a really shitty team? I mean, our specialties are all ... murder."

She thinks this over. "So maybe...just...blow up everything and hope we hit her?"

She thinks it over.

"Well I already have a boat, but that doesn't seem...prosocial."

Harken asks her a quesiton. "Yeah, totally think you do. Don't you talk about how much you love murdering? Murder murder murder, I'm Lady Harken I love blood on blade and the battlefield and killing dads."

Her eyes narrow faintly.

"I don't know if that mantle is hanging heavily around your neck at all. You seem to be moving pretty quick for someone struggling to carry weights."

She steps back a bit, tapping her Medium once. Her blades flash with a bright light and crackle with energy.

"I know nothin' 'bout you, except I know who I am and you don't know who you are. That's all that matters."

The debris is sent flying towards Lydia but while Harken is certainly more agile, Lydia can move quickly as well. She vanishes from sight--

--and she reappears no the other side of the cloud, swinging those glowing blades rapidly at Harken's body. Still amateurish compared to her, but she's getting better. Not through any formal training, but just by having to survive through fighting.

GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Lady Harken with Sunlight Shiv!
GS: Lydia Seren has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lydia Seren has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Ines' attack takes Malfi by surprise, and her oversized knuckle spikes do, indeed, dig deep into the Metal Demon's chest. Malfi grunts and responds more by instinct by intention: she shoves Ines away roughly, grateful that her vital organs twitched away in time! Chromeblood streams out of the gaping wounds; it's a good thing Metal Demons regenerate! It means she'll heal, in time. Had she been human the injury would've been fatal.

GS: Malfi has spent 2 Combo on Gatling, including 1 on Gatling!
GS: Malfi has attacked Ines Colina with Improv Tango!
GS: Malfi has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

Maybe Harken has a point. Maybe Zed could go back and bask once more in the glory of the Mother. Maybe he might just not die in the process. Maybe the Mother is a merciful goddess after all. But.

She just had to bring up Berserk, didn't she?

"You... You're telling me to validate Berserk!?" Zed... Zed actually sounds angry. There's a mote of fury in his incredulity that wasn't there a moment ago. Harken moves with blinding speed-- and Zed follows. He meets strike with strike, even as every impact sends deadly reverberations through his body. They would have killed any ordinary human, but Zed is neither ordinary nor human. The air trembles with every clash, generating shockwaves pulverizing the flagstones and pummeling nearby buildings. And yet Zed's glare never leaves Harken's eyes.

"Berserk," Zed nearly spits the name. "Do you even know what he did to me? What kind of hell I had to put up with!? But I'm thankful for it! If it wasn't for him, I'd have ended up like all the rest! I woke up after nine hundred years, without all the hate and the angst clouding my eyes! He beat me to the ground, and I got up! Every time! I! NEVER! GAVE! UP!"

                                  *CLASH*

"Even when it hurt..."

                                  *CLASH*

"Even when I was afraid...!"

                                  *CLASH*

"Even when I thought I was going to die!"

Zed surges back. His blade... Burns. Light flows across Doombringer's curved edge, as if it were somehow aglow with Zed's very fighting spirit...! "I didn't give up then! And I won't give up now! Even if it seems stupid, even if I might die, even if I have to win my right to live from the planet itself! I won't yield to you, to Siegfried, OR to Mother! This is my life! MINE! Living it the way I want...!" Zed surges forward, exploding into violent motion-- but this time, guided by the light of his very own unlucky star...! "THAT IS HOW I [RESPECT] BERSERK'S [SACRIFICE]!"

<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

        "Fufufu. Can not leech??" Yarobeleedt mocks as he slithers along, though his laughter turns to irritation as one of his arms just keeps failing to stay thin and stabby enough to poke through the carpentry above him. (This is also because he is picking up splinters. It is aggravating. Splinters are the worst when you are only a few steps short of becoming some kind of slime creature.)
        His taunts may be hard to hear because there's so much chaos going on above ground. ARMs fire, Material power, bedlam of all kinds, but the cowardly advance scout is just drinking in his positional advantage. A newfound glee fills him as the stain of crimson - gross, but a sign of injury being inflicted - decorates the sharper, more solid arm. So overzealous he is in following the heavy bootfalls that he plays himself--
        Talise will find herself landing in almost total darkness, but her landing is soft. The boat rocks violently from another nearby blast of undisclosed source and nature. If there's anywhere she wants to land in a three-point stance during a raid on a ship, it's wherever she's landed. Firm, but also giving way, neatly conforming to outside force. Fish?
        She doesn't see Yarobeleedt when she looks around. Only when she looks downward, she'll notice that he's not anywhere else inside the hold but directly beneath her... because he accidentally broke her daring leap in.
        "Obtain ooooooffffffffff~" Yarobeleedt whines as Rastaban's already poking into his goopier shoulder. "Silly ^Seeing Braid^!!" He wriggles helplessly underneath her. He is positioned about as neatly as he's going to be for what follows the blood-curdling roar that makes a few marauding Metal Beasts a short ways on shore decide to clear the hell out.
        The hold is decorated with another splash of quicksilver, and not even the deck itself can dare catch Rastaban. An entire floorboard is pried loose and cut into two, and Yarobeleedt's biomass compresses and contorts through this narrow opening that Rastaban lifts and forces him through as it aggravates his soft (by comparison, still hard by the Mohs scale) innards in further grievous injury as the ochre sock-rag-whatever wordlessly flips into the sky and back into the ocean.
        The hull's going to need patching and the deck a few new floorboards, but the vessel will still be good for seafaring if Talise's allies still require another boat to get to Elru.

GS: Zed has attacked Lady Harken with RayBlade - Zed Saber!
GS: Zed has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Zed has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

Lemina knows she can't resist the wave of water coming toward her -- so she decides to do something weird, instead. Creating a slick of ice beneath herself, she hopes to ride it standing, making herself easy to push without meaningful resistance --

-- and goes careening into a wall instead. Oh well. Nice thought!

"Hey! I said I didn't want you to hit me! I didn't say I wasn't going to *stop* you," Lemina shoots back to Elvis, teeth grinding a little as she tries to think of an appropriate approach to the Veruni before her.

She settles for a comparatively simple plan: more ice! It's like that sometimes. Hopping back, she starts a similar chant to the one she used earlier; while last time she only created a single chunk of ice, though, this time she keeps going. A second appears. A third. A fourth. Eventually, it becomes clear that her plan is to create a bullet hell.

Then the bullet hell actually happens! Ice. Ice everywhere!

GS: Lemina Ausa has attacked Elvis with Ice Arrows!
GS: Lemina Ausa has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lemina Ausa has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Ambrosius presses forward. He would tear right through the Rephaim if allowed to, but the opposing Gear twists and the Nimue's claw slides off the side. But he can see that he'd made an impact, at the very least.

...And he'd done something else as well.

A scream of anger erupts from his communications as Lunata watches him fire on BIg Shal. Before he can respond the Rephaim raises its arm - the one that looked, to him, barely functional - and cuts loose.

From the outside, it must look comedic - a cartoonish glove launching from the Rephaim in a burst of confetti, socking the Nimue straight in the chest. But to Ambrosius it is anything but, as the sheer impact knocks him to the back of Nimue's cockpit, and forces the Golem itself back a couple of steps. He emits a hiss of pain and rights himself. He observes as the smaller Golem returns to the Rephaim, and watches as it makes quick repairs.

Ambrosius frowns.

"I believe I've seen enough." He states. The water begins to surge. It builds into a wave...but rather than crashing down, it coats him. The Nimue opens its mouth once more, drawing some of it in.

"Be dispersed to the waves." With those words there is the sound of shrieking metal as its head recoils backward from the sheer force of the beam of water erupting from it, soaring toward the Rephaim. Though not targetting Big Shal directly, the smaller golem will still have to contend with the shockwave erupting from the great beam.

If the beam misses - or if it pierces right through the Rephaim - it will continue off into the distance...but, thankfully, not toward Hilton itself.

That is one small mercy, of the few present here today.

GS: Ambrosius has attacked Ambrosius with System Tune-up!
GS: Ambrosius has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ambrosius takes a solid hit from Ambrosius's System Tune-up for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Shield! Statuses applied to Ambrosius!
GS: Ambrosius has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Lunata Croze with Grand Pressure Beam!
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Shalune Amira with Grand Pressure Beam!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

That hesitation was unexpected.

GS: Lunata Croze guards a hit from Ambrosius's Grand Pressure Beam for 93 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        That hesitation was unexpected.

        In that tiny span of time just after Siegfried speaks, Gwen's eyes widen slightly in alarm.

        Of course Mother exists. Ethius proclaimed as much in the very act of showing how they would track Mother down. But what if Ethius was lying? And in turn, the Guardians-

        No, it doesn't make sense. Is she overthinking this? She has to be.

        Ragnell and Ida surely know better. She's just a courier.

        Just courier, making very, very bad life decisions. Like this one.

        Overconfidence spurs her to attempt to meet Siegfried's slash, to power through it and land a crushing counterattack against the Metal Demon. It's just that Gwen's a Drifter with an ARM for an arm, and Siegfried is, well, a Quarter Knight, who has strode across battlefields before Gwen was even born.

        When Siegfried comes down against Gwen, there isn't much she can offer by way of resistence, blood blooming in his wake.

        All there is is just a simple knife, held in Gwen's right hand, attempting to twist and cut into that very crack in his breastplate possibly into whatever may lay beyond.

GS: Ines Colina critically Guards a hit from Malfi's Improv Tango for 14 hit points!
GS: Ines Colina has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Malfi has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has activated a Force Action!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has attacked Siegfried with Comet Clip!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has completed her action.
GS: Shalune Amira guards a hit from Ambrosius's Grand Pressure Beam for 271 hit points!
GS: COUNTER! Siegfried strikes at Gwen Whitlock with a counter attack!
GS: Siegfried guards a hit from Gwen Whitlock's Comet Clip for 25 hit points!
GS: Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to Siegfried!
<Pose Tracker> Persephone has posed.

"Persephone." The Veruni's response is, after the action completes, raised pistol towards Josephine as she stays in her somewhat odd stance. "I'm aware that we haven't." A pause, "Though I'm sure there's something I can dredge up about you. Not that I'll have any reason to." The woman remarks, "Can't say I feel the same way for a human, however. You did say to be honest." A bit of amusement, however far from pleasant, trails on her voice.

 That faint, momentary burst of light is summoned with that pain. The light flashes, and Persephone moves to look away from the assault - recording momentarily blinded, perhaps even ruined somewhat, from the burst of light into such a flare. An arm is raised momentarily. It's quite effective, momentarily blinding the expectant Veruni, eyes wincing closed as she staggers a step backwards.

Her heel digs into the ground beneath her, a second arm raised at this time to help prevent the blinding flash. Yet, Lord Volsung would not have had her join if she could have been solely bested by her sight. Eyes close, potentially useless to her. The art of misdirection is prevalent, especially when your eyes have been turned against you.

Which is exactly the case that the Seraph does not manage to run her through with the icicle. Her question of course was before she moved - but it is Ceimglace speaks again that she can identify where she is coming from. The Seraph moved, this much is obvious - but the introduction betrays Ceimglace even as Persephone is blinded. As it's flung agaisnt her, Persephone twists - though even then, the icicle traces, melting tip, agaisnt the frame of her bodysuit. It shears into the side, digging in as she staggers a step back. Though it does not embed itself, the damage is clear.

"I'm sure you're aware of us Veruni. And a Sentinel... I'll let you figure that out yourself, if you're able."

"But I won't give you much time. Can you keep up with me?!"

Clasping the gun to her, her hand extends outwards to the voice, two fingers twisting back to herself as she leans back a bit. The Ether sorcery brought to bear twists the magic around her, causing her outfit to blur somewhat, potentially offsetting the weakness of a lack of her senses, the blurring vision tested but ultimated closed after a quick peek.

Before the same fist is raised upwards. They were in the middle of a burning Harbor, after all. The ether sorcery is clear as she brings that hand up once more, swinging it back and forth between the 'area' she believes the two to be around. After all, she doesn't care what happens to the town or people, especially humans, within it! From above, fire rains down in a wide swatch, sweeping about her in a wave, leaving her untouched, but the area scorched.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Talise's landing was softer and squishier than she expected. Mostly because she's never landed on a metal blob before.

As Yarobeleedt goes oozing out through that opening in the hold, Talise hisses out a hard breath - and she drops into a half-crouch again as her left knee gives out on her. Drops of blood fall to the deck. The attack from below had surprised her, and Yaro had managed to land enough good hits to make it tougher for her to carry the weight of her armour.

That's saying nothing about the venom. "Damn it," she mutters as she reaches urgently into her inventory and comes up with a Healing Nut, which she wolfs down as quickly as she can.

It helps. Somewhat. Looking up through the hole in the deck above her, Talise chews that curative even as she waits, all too sure that Yaro will land in the sea and swim back to keep fighting.

Moments tick by. Then a couple more.

"...If he comes up from the water and starts stabbing me through the hull, I won't be happy," Talise grumbles as she begins to haul herself out of the hold. Or tries. There's no ladder up - just a rope. Talise is in full armour and has not had good luck with the frigging ropes lately. She takes ahold of it and begins to climb up.

Betrayed by the weight of her armour, she slides back down. With a hot blush, she tries again.

        TEN MINUTES LATER...

"Hello?" Talise calls from the hold of the fishing boat. "Fishermen? Guys? ... Chauncey? Little help?"

GS: Persephone has attacked Persephone with Quicken!
<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

Cecilia's scowl doesn't faze Lily much. She glances to Cecilia as she passes, notes her anger... Notes that hate. She makes plans, accordingly--but her thoughts are interrupted--

'all those sharp edges, and yet you are so reluctant to cut...'

Lily's mouth twitches slightly, her lips forming a thin line as Dog rushes up behind her, watching her blind side with a ready growl. But to Lydia--

"My specialties are killing things and field surgery," Lily answers Lydia warily, focused on Harken. "...But something to keep in mind, Lydia." Lily waits a beat, just long enough, "Part of how you fight a fire is by burning out all the fuel between the fire and the thing you want to save. If you kill everything between those spaces, douse it all... Then the fire can't spread. It dies."

"...So if we don't leave her a path to walk..."

Harken's aura seems to Lily to be wholly different from before--a different woman, she could almost swear, to see that calm, to see none of the bloodthirst she would have expected. The anger is gone, and Lily stares Harken down as if she could puzzle out why just by staring from her. ...But she can't.

"Do you think so?" Lily answers. "...Then I'll just have to ensure there's nothing left of your body to repair. You say... That I cannot heal."

"Riesenlied told me something once. About how you all operate. ...The truth is, I think we have a lot in common."

Lily watches Harken thrown apart by the blast of combined magic, and steps forward. Anger, she chides, does not give Cecilia this much power. The house begins to collapse--

Lily puts forth her bloody, bleeding hand, and the air around her shifts; rubble that crashes towards her meets an invisible point and turns to dust, dust that explodes outward in a tremendous thunderclap as air rushes to fill the void that Lily's magic created. ...It's when Harken herself follows through the storm that Lily is forced back, one step, another, another. Dog growls; Lily reflects to herself that she's still bleeding, as she lowers her hand again, puts a hand to her hip.

There's a burst of red light, and then flame, as Lily drops an explosion at her feet for an excuse to move backwards and to the side... and in the process, ignites another fallen plank, setting a blaze to start circling the battlefield of Lady Harken, Cecilia, Zed, and Lydia, partway at first. ...But it might spread.

"Sharp edges," she murmurs, not having answered Agatha directly--and as she rises, she reaches up, takes the cord of the eyepatch tangled into her hair... and pulls until it snaps. The space where the eye should be is still marked by a closed eyelid. ...In the moment, there is a pulse of Ether, as if it's drawing towards Lily, power circling once--but it fades with the next heartbeat, the sorceress gritting her teeth.

"You don't enjoy destroying your enemies?" Lily asks Harken then, a single glance to Agatha. "...I do. I remember the first time I killed a man with my magic. I put my hand right through his chest, held his heart and let it burn in my hand."

She tests it, experimental, before she gently, silently pulls her firearm. "This isn't like you. Are you as healed as you thought?"

She watches Zed press the offensive, exploding into motion, and she has nothing she can add to what he says; her approval will be shown in taking advantage of the opening.

"Agatha!" Lily's voice rises. "...Keep looking, if you want."

Lily cocks back the hammer of her heavy pistol, and sprints to the side, the blood from her hand runs down her cheek now, but doesn't block the vision of her good eye. Shadows, though start to curl around her, making her harder to see even if Lily herself can see fine. She comes to a stop in a partly fallen archway. Between Harken and Lily, for just two long moments, there is utter silence; the sound of the fire falls away only for them, and Lily's single eye focuses on the Quarter Knight before her. She takes aim for Harken's chest--

Sound rushes back in again a bizarre rune of power appears on her target. Black, difficult to look at, circuitboard patterns that stretch, opening spaces that could be weakness--

Lily empties her weapon with multiple shots, each blurring, and if someone watches her fire, it's as if the gun and the bullet have no relation to one another, a gravitic distortion that shows the bullets firing, slowly, agonizingly slowly...

At the same time that five have already plugged straight for Harken's chest with a scream of their passing like the unquiet dead.

GS: Lily Keil has spent 3 Combo on Headshot, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Lily Keil has attacked Lady Harken with Witch's Mark!
GS: Lily Keil has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Lily Keil takes 6 damage from Poison!
GS: Lily Keil has completed her action.
GS: Gwen Whitlock guards a hit from Siegfried's Counter Attack for 134 hit points!
GS: Elvis takes a solid hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Comet Blade for 128 hit points!
GS: Mighty! Statuses applied to Tethelle Cirdian!
GS: Elvis enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Elvis takes a solid hit from Lemina Ausa's Ice Arrows for 172 hit points!
GS: Persephone takes a solid hit from Persephone's Quicken for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Quick! Statuses applied to Persephone!
GS: CRITICAL! Lady Harken takes a glancing hit from Lydia Seren's Sunlight Shiv for 116 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Quick! Statuses applied to Lydia Seren!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Zed's RayBlade - Zed Saber for 140 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Lady Harken has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lily Keil has lost 1 Combo!
DC: MISS! Lady Harken completely evades Witch's Mark from Lily Keil!
GS: Persephone has attacked Seraph Ceimglace with Gates of Hell!
GS: Persephone has attacked Josephine Lovelace with Gates of Hell!
GS: Persephone has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

        There's a faint, coarse breath as Lunata feels herself losing control; she can feel her very fingertips shaking as she thinks a little more about the consequences, the outcomes, the myriad of ways it can all go wrong--

        I'm coming, Lunie!

        "Y-yeah--" Lunata struggles as the Rephaim's movements visibly struggle with its pilot's haze; there's something of an awkward lean as Shalune -- through Big Shal -- clambers onto the Rephaim's back, wings outstretched as Lunata draws a shaky breath and watches as Big Shal bolts layers upon layers of metal upon the Rephaim and covers that hole where Nimue's steel-piercing claws ripped it open before.

        It's all the more timely, as-- the Nimue builds a wave once more. She's seen this before... before...

        "Incoming, Lunie!"

        The Rephaim throws its good arm up once more; this time, with Big Shal's repairs, it's able to reverb at a much more higher frequency. He can see it -- the surge of colours as that trick of light emanated from the sun rather visibly communicates how the magic within works...

        "... I remember now."

        The Grand Pressure Beam clashes against the Pulse Shift Barrier-- an enormous expulsion of water splashes onto the nearby docks as the Rephaim quite literally becomes an immovable object against it; slowly, surely, it begins to wither, but...

        "... a year ago. Adlehyde."

        ... the Rephaim keeps marching forward, even as its arm jitters and threatens to buckle under pressure. Something glows within its palm.

        "I was just a little waitress then... getting myself choked by some slithery Metal Demon..."

        ... who's here in this scene too, mind, though she doesn't appear to have spotted him or his struggles against the singing blade.

        "... you're the guy in red, right? I remember... that voice."

        The Rephaim finally bursts through with an erratic shove-- and rears its arm back as that indefatigable glow within the emitter in its metallic palm shines.

        "You saved me. Yet... here I am..."

        She narrows her eyes, and then pauses. Something drops within her heart. Something that wasn't needed. She lets out a hoarse, erratic breath again...

        ... and the Rephaim's palm discharges forward with a surge of energy, attempting to breach past the resilient Golem's defenses once more.

        "... sorry. I can't make it up to you."

GS: Lunata Croze has attacked Ambrosius with Palma Fiocina!
GS: Lunata Croze has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lunata Croze has completed her action.
GS: Ambrosius takes a solid hit from Lunata Croze's Palma Fiocina for 0 hit points!
GS: Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to Ambrosius!
GS: Seraph Ceimglace has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Persephone has lost 1 Combo!
DC: MISS! Seraph Ceimglace completely evades Gates of Hell from Persephone!
<Pose Tracker> Ines Colina has posed.

        Malfi's attempt to push Ines back is met with sheer force. Once again, the ground under her feet breaks and cracks at Malfi's dislodgement, but this time Ines stays still, even as she is forced down through the earth. She's broken through Malfi's shell, and won't be letting go if she can avoid it. "I told you, didn't I?"

        Wind begins to whip up around Ines, all the runes on her body suddenly glowing. She moves to heft Malfi into the air, an effort even for her ridiculous strength, to once again rob Malfi of footing. The wind forms into a cyclone around the beastwoman, as the earth around her starts to lift, adding itself to the sudden windstorm. "Coming at me?"

        Metal starts to appear in the storm, sharp chunks of lead and iron forming from Ines' magic. Even parts of Malfi's own armour are grabbed in the storm. With a final push, Ines moves to hurl Malfi toward the cyclone around her and let her get picked up and apart by the debris.

        "That was a bad call."

GS: Ines Colina has attacked Malfi with Shrapnel Twister!
GS: Ines Colina has completed her action.
GS: Malfi takes a glancing hit from Ines Colina's Shrapnel Twister for 82 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! Statuses applied to Malfi!
GS: Malfi has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
GS: Josephine Lovelace critically Guards a hit from Persephone's Gates of Hell for 22 hit points!
GS: Josephine Lovelace has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Persephone has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        Ragnell is indeed a naughty Seraph, Agatha. It's just as well that the battlefield is so loud and chaotic that her comment goes unheard, though.
        
        Ragnell waggles a mocking finger at Siegfried. "That's where you're wrong, friend. The battle only has significance if you win it!" This is her talking out her ass. A battle can have just as much significance if it's lost, and indeed losing those battle will have quite a bit of significance for--either side, really. And while Siegfried might have a quick answer for Gwen's questions... the fact that she's doing that at all is a little... weird, for her.
        
        But before the Seraph can follow up on either of these matters, Siegfried begins his counter attack--after his armor barrier holds up against her Shock Lancer, no less--and leaps at her with a carving slash. Ragnell leaps backwards in time with it, so rather than cutting her in half, Siegfried merely ("merely") scores a massive line of red across her midsection. Had she guts, they'd be spilling out right now; indeed, the red doesn't flow like blood rightfully should. But it's plenty painful all the same if Ragnell's sharp snarl as she staggers back out of range is any indication. "You live up to your name, Siegfried--an' I see half-assed attacks won't do shit against you."
        
        She grins razor-sharp, winking up at him. "Guess I'd better stop messin' around, then.
        "Hey, Sieg, quick question: can you swim?"
        
        Once again without waiting for an answer, the Lightning Seraph leaps back, but this time onto the balls of her feet; then she pushes herself forward into a twirling attack, gale force winds rising around her. She fires into the sudden mini-tornado, lancing lightning through it, and then directs the force of lightning down the docks upon which Siegfried, where it splinters and shatters wood in its wake. That Ida and Gwen also stand on them-- Gwen in particular with her attempting to show Siegfried her stabs-- is not really of consequence at the moment. It'll be as much a challenge for them to overcome, surely.
        
        "TORNADO CHASER!" she calls as she unleashes the attack, just before it potentially razes into the Quarter Knight to batter into him with wind and lightning, then possibly dropping him into the waters below if he's not able to get onto new solid ground in time. If it's successful, it ought to wreck his footing, opening him up for further, more powerful attacks.
        
        She doesn't comment on that slight hesitation. Perhaps she didn't notice.

DC: Seraph Ragnell switches forms to The Loyal!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has attacked Siegfried with Tornado Chaser!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Elvis has posed.

For a moment, he thought he was rid of those two, and could go back to work. but Humans sure are presistent. "Look! I have a lot riding on this! More than you know! Besides there is a difference here! I have told the Humans to flee and am now destroying the port! the Metal Demons are slaughtering humans and destroying the docks! One of these is not liek the other! Get your priorities straight!"

Coming from the guy causing tons of gella worth of damage.

A rip of crescent energy tears down the city port, screaming right at Elvis. The Veruni crosses his forearms to block it, his hands now wrapped in some sort of synthetic cloth. He struggles against the slashing spirit energy, which digs in to his wrists fiercely, but he proves to be the stronger, as a burst of energy shatters it--

--Giving Lemina just enough to do riddle Elvis' flank with needle-like points of frozen power. He has little time to react, a swinging arm desperses some with a powerful shockwave! "Good magic! Honing your craft may let you be powerful as me one day!" he shouts to the sorceress. Even with ice sticking out of puncture wounds, the man keeps going~ A nearby barrel full of oranges is grabbed, the high speed rolled toward her with an uppercut motion!

A turn back to Tethelle, clearly the mroe dangerous of the two with that blade. Clenched hands come together, and the very earth near Tethelle rises up into hand-like shapes. "I plan to leave soon as this job is done!" A job that is not this in fact. This is merely a by-product. "The hands attempt to slam together and pinch her in place, granite joints and stone fingertips looking to grasp pwoerfully and hold in place. Not to kill or break bones.

Still, it is probably gonna hurt pretty bad.

But Elvis' mastery over earth is so strong he can feel out the degree of power the earth will hold her.

The less Human deaths, the better.

GS: Siegfried guards a hit from Seraph Ragnell's Tornado Chaser for 87 hit points!
GS: Elvis has attacked Lemina Ausa with Dire Haymaker!
GS: Elvis has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Elvis has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Elvis has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Avalanche Heel!
GS: Elvis has completed his action.
GS: Tethelle Cirdian guards a hit from Elvis's Avalanche Heel for 136 hit points!
GS: RUIN! All positive status effects and temporary hit points purged from Tethelle Cirdian!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi is lifted into the air by Ines' cyclone, and is, indeed, cut badly by debris. She is heavier than Ines expects, however, and winds up being dumped into the water. She does not resurface for quite awhile. It's a good thing that Metal Demons really don't need to breathe...and that she has full-regeneration, though it takes time. Malfi wasn't going to back down, not with Lord Siegfried watching.

If she has a chance -- and the strength -- she may explore the piers from underwater, examining exactly how they're constructed. It will make destroying them easier.

Bogey runs to the side of the pier, looking for her. When he doesn't find her, he returns to the gangs of Metal Beasts assaulting the port, just as he's programmed to...

<Pose Tracker> Agatha Pyrelight has posed.

 Well, it was an impressive attempt - but the Quarter Knight moves like bottled lightning as well, making following up with precision far less attractive than just turning everything in the area into smoking wreckage. Agatha smiles as Lily replies, although not to her of course - why would dear Lily deign to do something like THAT?
 
 "You're still trying for finesse - but is this the right opponent for it? She's fast- faster than you are, and as long as you are holding back for fear of those around you, she'll have the upper hand." The bottle of wine is upended - there's no way you can be subtle when you're chugging from a whole bottle of course, which is why Agatha prefers to have glassware. Alas - you make do with what you can find. "Where is it, Lily?
 
 "Where is that power you used against *ME*? This is one of the architects of humanity's destruction! Is not an enemy commander not worth your fury? Your passion? Although..." And the witch smiles, her eyes narrowing in amusement. "If I have a special place in your heart, igniting that burning power... that does make me happy~"
 
 There is death and destruction apleanty - personally, Agatha is surprised that Siegfried doesn't just melt down from all the taunting that is thrown his way. Ragnell is good at that sort of thing, and his other opponents keep trying to use various levels of reasoning... but isn't reasoning just going to make it worse? "Ah, when someone wants to destroy you... they aren't open to listening to your comments. They just want to see your blood."
 
 Although in the end, this was a struggle to see who would rule this planet. Those from afar fighting those whom were blessed by this land - would those meddling Guardians eventually bless the Metal Demons or Veruni, if faced with that or their own destruction?

<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Anger doesn't give you that much power, the enemy chides. Lydia yells at her for failing to answer a call for support. And Lily...well, Lily is laser-focused on a threat, which is probably for the best.

Cecilia throws her staff up, bracing before Harken's thrown debris flash toward her. One, two, three hit her barrier, but the last powers through it, colliding with Cecilia and sending her toppling backward, thrown a dozen feet and slamming own on her front. She slams a palm down, glaring up and shaking.

She could support. It's not that she doesn't have the ability. But something else is calling to her instead, and she reaches into her spell case for her Mediums. She remembers the face of a dying woman, as people stand around, watching her hopefully...

She thrusts the Medium forward, a snowflake flashing across its surface. A Medium of Aru Solato.

Jack's Medium.

Cecilia's fingers grip it tightly, the power surging out of her and into the stone. Is she supposed to say something? Some rebuke? The words fail her. "MATERIAL!" is all she can release.

The Guardian of Ice flashes where she stood, a silent tiger's judging glare before the air above Harken freezes - flashing down in shards.

GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Lady Harken with Material - Icicle Edge!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde takes 4 damage from Poison!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has completed her action.
GS: Lady Harken takes a glancing hit from Cecilia Adlehyde's Material - Icicle Edge for 79 hit points!
GS: Lemina Ausa takes a solid hit from Elvis's Dire Haymaker for 194 hit points!
DC: You switch forms to Bruiser Zoologist Malfi!
DC: Malfi switches forms to Bruiser Zoologist Malfi!
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

        Shalune yelps as the Nimue's wave begins to buffet against them. Big Shal is able to hold onto the Rephaim easily enough - in fact, on closer inspection, the golem's rather unusual means of tornado-based repairs appears to have temporarily welded Big Shal onto the Rephaim's side, hanging on impassively against the rising, swirling energy and its shockwave. Within the canopy, Shalune is nominally safe - but she's wrenched from side to side as the Rephaim and its passenger shake, saved only by the fact she's long-since installed a harness and a set of hand- and footholds to brace herself against for situations like this.

        It isn't helped that she can feel her own energy ebb. Not in the way Lunata's might - she isn't in the literal deathgrip of a Guardian - but running the matter converter off of her sheer level of attunement to it takes a lot out of her, and she can feel the world swim a little from exertion. One hand steals to a coat pocket, grabbing a handful of peanuts from a small bag to toss them into her mouth.

        It gives her time to hear and digest Lunata's words - the regretful tone, and the resignation that Shalune dearly hoped she might be able to stave off just a little longer. It gives her time to watch as the Nimue's attack curves harmlessly off towards the sea. ... it gives her time to get angry, grimacing as she bites back a rising and unpleasant feeling.

        Unable to stop herself she balls her hands into fists in frustration, feeling her nails dig into her own palms - and then she's grabbing her shotstaff as the roof of her canopy tears away from the Nimue's attack, helping by putting her own shoulder to it to slam the rest of it aside. As she rises up to her full height she shoulders her weapon, for all it will do in a battle between Gears.

        "--is this something you're satisfied with? Takin' part in this?" she calls to the Nimue, her voice wavering as she throws an arm back towards Hilton. "Didn't you learn anything from Miss Riese's regret? Do you think staying at the side like this means a damn thing, morally?!"

        She looks like she wants to say more, her expression one of hurt - but she swallows whatever else she had as Big Shal raises its fist, hair whipping around her as more of the Rephaim's shorn off armor sweeps back up in a chaotic whirlwind of metal to combine with the golem's in layer upon layer. Big Shal braces a second time - and the fist suddenly rockets forwards towards the Nimue, seemingly under its own power.

        That is, until Shalune sets her feet in turn and fires. Rather than the usual bolts, the end of her shotstaff swells with building energy, the weapon shaking in her hands until it can't contain the accumulated force any longer. The bolt that the shotstaff spits is an enormous round thing - and rather than target the Nimue it slams into the fist, propelling it forwards even faster.

GS: Shalune Amira has spent 3 Combo on Gatling, including 2 on Gatling!
GS: Shalune Amira has attacked Ambrosius with Under The Same Sky!
GS: Shalune Amira has completed her action.
GS: Ambrosius takes a glancing hit from Shalune Amira's Under The Same Sky for 117 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

        "Can you? Heheh, I'd almost welcome it if you could," Josie retorts, her grin growing lopsided for a brief moment.

        She watches -- fleetingly, she's not certain Persephone has seen the other woman at all -- Ceimglace, taking note of where the woman stands.
        She's got a feeling about Ceimglace. The sort of inkling you get when you've spend about a half-dozen months on a world where people like her are not unknown. Uncommon -- perhaps rare -- but not unknown.
        And it's possible Persephone can't see her. If that's the case, she doesn't want to give up the game quite yet.

        "Not a human? You'd be able to pull off the look of one quite well at masquerade party," she says, ARM still trained on Persephone.

        Until the moment light flares forth, and the moment where Josie bolts into a dash. It'll give Ceimglace the chance to strike, and more importantly, give Josie the chance to break the 'November Standoff' she's found herself in.
        She knows ARMs, and she knows she doesn't want to find out precisely how much kick that monster Persephone's fielding can dish out. Even her loose guess would land somewhere in the ballpark of 'quite a lot'.

        So. She dashes out, rounding on Persephone from an alternate angle. But while blinded, it seems, Persephone is far from helpless. She twists, taking the edge off that strike from the Seraph. So she is aware. "Sorry, honey! Looks like she can see you, too!" she calls out to her sudden partner in arms.
        Might as well make things clear.

        "...So you're a Veruni. I've heard of you. Not just a boogeyman for misbehaving kids after all, are you?"
        'And a Sentinel'.

        Now what has Josie gotten herself into?

        "Listen, sweetie, I intend to damn well do my best."

        "I'm not about to die here--"

        Fire lances out, rising only to fall in a tumult about them. Drawing upon every inch of her childhood lessons, Josie charges through the flames. She can feel the heat, taste the familiar tang in her mouth. But there was a story the old-timers told back home about rabbits. About the hares who ran through the fire without being burned--
        She almost manages that. The edge of her coat smolders and smokes; loose tendrils of hair burn. But she rushes at Persephone in spite of the fire, lifts her gun, opens fire--

        Over Persephone's shoulder...?

GS: Josephine Lovelace has attacked Persephone with Out Of The Blue!
GS: Josephine Lovelace has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Josephine Lovelace has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ceimglace has posed.

         "I've been kind of, you know, chilling?" Ceimglace remarks, dryly. "I've made way too many ice jokes tonight, this is an affront to my own personal skills." A beat. "Why yes, I just shamed myself, thank you for noticing."
 
         Veruni... Ceimglace files that name away, along with

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        When Ida Hellionized--and thus developed her Resonance to the point where she could see Seraphim--she started seeing Ragnell's body language. Her gaze darts to the side again, and her lips pull tight, a look of anger she doesn't quite manage to still. The worst part is that Ragnell isn't even wrong.

        Shut your idiot mouth.

        Ida twists back at the waist, trying to duck under Glumzamber as the blade rushes for her. Her foot slips, skids out from her--Ida yelps, and the tip of the Demon weapon cuts into her collarbone, just below the scar the Trial Knight gave her at Lahan.

        Why are you even here? What are you trying to prove? Do you think he'll ever respect you? Do you think you'll ever be worthy of anyone's respect? If you keep running your idiot mouth, he's going to figure out Kalve's gotten very close to you. Do you want his blood on your hands?

        Ida plants a hand on the docks and shoves herself upright with a speed born of sudden fear. She stumbles back, blood soaking her shirt, as Gwen goes in for the stab

        Leave him to those who can actually handle themselves--

        'Hey, Sieg, quick question. Can you swim?'

        That's all the warning Ida gets before a bolt of lightning lances out of nowhere, slamming into the wooden boards less than two feet away. Ionized air crackles across her. Bits of wood spray upwards. The dock shudders and sags. More bolts rain down. That's Ragnell, Ida thinks. She twists on a heel and runs, the pier shuddering beneath her as the lightning tears it apart. Why is she--

        God, she thinks. I shouldn't--

        She thinks back to Tumblus Town, and the Black Ties. She's falling apart. She takes a breath, lets it out. She takes another breath, and lets it out. The horrible spiral still loops in around itself, but it's slower now. She's scared. She's terrified. And yet, there's a part of her that knows what to do. Chi boils up into her skin, reinforcing it, and as she reaches the end of the dock, she turns to Siegfried and speaks again, shouting over the din around her.

        "Because your people are people!" Ida shouts. Tears of frustration and fear and anger stream down her face, but there's a glint of steel beneath it all. "Because they deserve to live!"

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Iron Body Focus!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Iron Body Focus for 0 hit points!
GS: SHield! Statuses applied to Ida Everstead-Rey!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ceimglace has posed.

         "I've been kind of, you know, chilling?" Ceimglace remarks, dryly. "I've made way too many ice jokes tonight, this is an affront to my own personal skills." A beat. "Why yes, I just shamed myself, thank you for noticing."
 
         Veruni... Ceimglace files that name away, along with 'Sentinel'. Her icicle hit, and that's all she cares about at the moment. Persephone decides to go with fire, and the Ice Seraph can't help but smirk a little. She doesn't even use her own ice to try to fight it though: That's just asking to make things even more wet than they already can be being near the harbor. She's in a lovely evening dress, she doesn't want to have to deal with fine cleaning it anytime soon. (But, Sera-- shh. Shhh. Don't question her.)
 
         Digging through the bag on her hip, Ceimglace pulls out a...
 
         ... Drumstick? ... for a drum....?
 
         ... which swiftly descends towards Persephones' head.
 
         Josie gets a bit of visible sass, Ceimglace putting a finger on her nose and winking in the process.

GS: Seraph Ceimglace has attacked Persephone with Drumstick To TheHead!
GS: Seraph Ceimglace has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

'The humans'? Tethelle thinks, and squints at Elvis a little more closely.

...Nope. He still looks pretty much human to her. A little big, but he's certainly not secretly a Metal Demon. And though Tethelle is more than marginally sensitive, it's not like she has the time or room to go into full-on meditation here, nor will she get the response from Equites she'd like to figure out what he means.

"You're right," she says. "There is a difference. The difference is that I don't know what you are doing, or why, but no port village can survive without its port!" Hilton isn't exactly a village, precisely, but Tethelle assumes it scales up. "And more - I don't fight alone. I trust them to do what they can to defend the rest of the people from the Metal Demons, as they trust me to do my part."

"And if that involves stopping you from tearing up the port because you have decided to make yourself a lackey of the Metal Demons..."

Tethelle bounds forward. Elvis' stone hands grab for her, and nearly manage to hold her still - but Tethelle squeezes out of it, leaving a bloody rent down the side of her leg. It hurts like hell to put any weight on, but she forces herself to keep going, putting her foot on *top* of the stone hands and leaping, performing a two-handed overhead slash at Elvis.

"Then that is just what I will do!"

Tethelle's assault doesn't end with her slash. It hits - either Elvis or the ground - and Tethelle pulls it up, attempting to throw Elvis toward the sky, where she leaps after him, spinning like a dervish and slashing wildly, using the great two-handed chopping blade like it weighed nothing. The chi is still built up along the blade, leaving a trail in the air, burning brighter and brighter -

Tethelle lands first, and fires a blast of energy angled up, lancing at the hopefully-descending Elvis and burning the energies built up along the blade completely out.

GS: Tethelle Cirdian has activated a Force Action!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has spent 3 Combo on Headshot, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Elvis with Whirling Juggernaut!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Siegfried has posed.

Gwen's knife slams down into Siegfried's breastplate -- into the crack. It twists, and sparks fly, a gaping rend torn into it. The Quarter Knight snarls at her. He swings out the Dark Spear. Glumzambor slashes for her, brutally. He cuts across her, and he makes ready to then swing his weapon down with a more massive slash.

Ragnell intervenes before he can do that. He hears her question -- and then sees Ragnell coming at him too late to do more than raise the flat side of Glumzambor, and get struck back by the miniature tornado. Wind and lightning shred through the docks and slam Siegfried backward. Wood chips, dust, and broken planks fly and throw into the air, in the wake of her massive onslaught. He is slammed back... and stops by slamming into a large wooden post, which supports the dock. It cracks under his seven foot bulk. He looks up at her, and then spits once.

"So be it! You wish to hold nothing back?! Then I shall oblige you, Seraph!"

He does, it seems, know what they are. His eyes turn towards Ida. Her tears don't move him; he has burnt cities. He has seen people cry before they meet the end. But, the reason she cries...

"You have no right, human, to speak to me of my own people. I am their champion. I have shepherded them. You think to take our cause up? Mind your own business." Siegfried swings Glumzambor downward. He stabs the blade into the wood of the dock, and the huge blade rips through to the bottom. The wooden structure quakes -- and then his body glimmers, with light. After that, blades of strange, twisting light rip away; they shimmer green and blue, black and white, and tear into the docks. Some rip holes through the wood. One shreds through the mast of a ship, causing it to drop.

But most careen in, swirling about to swarm and strike down upon Ida, upon Gwen, and upon Ragnell.

GS: Siegfried has activated a Force Action!
GS: Siegfried has activated a Force Action!
GS: Siegfried has spent 5 Combo on Gatling, including 4 on Gatling!
GS: Siegfried has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Negative Rainbow!
GS: Siegfried has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Negative Rainbow!
GS: Siegfried has attacked Seraph Ragnell with Negative Rainbow!
GS: Siegfried has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Siegfried enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Siegfried has attacked Siegfried with Hi-Shield!
GS: Siegfried has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Siegfried has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Siegfried has completed his action.
GS: Siegfried takes a solid hit from Siegfried's Hi-Shield for 0 hit points!
GS: Cover! Statuses applied to Siegfried!
GS: Gwen Whitlock guards a hit from Siegfried's Negative Rainbow for 133 hit points!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Josephine Lovelace's attack becomes clear!
GS: CRITICAL! Persephone takes a glancing hit from Josephine Lovelace's Ace In The Hole for 71 hit points!
GS: Cripple, Disrupt, and Jam! Statuses applied to Persephone!
GS: Persephone takes a solid hit from Seraph Ceimglace's Drumstick To TheHead for 102 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey critically Guards a hit from Siegfried's Negative Rainbow for 45 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Siegfried has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Lady Harken has posed.

Lydia finds herself having some face-to-face with one of the highest echelons of Metal Demon commanders, whose dark crimson hair seems to contrast nicely with those eyes of hers that are currently leaving big visible trails of red in the ever-expanding cloud of dust. Huh. How pretty! "Was it the blonde idiot with the ponytail and the talking mouse? Did he tell you that?" she asks of the plucky beastgirl who doesn't seem to die fast enough. "Does it really matter? I know I am Harken, and my people's lives depend on me. That gives me strength."

Harken doesn't swing her scythe to meet Lydia, no, she meets the oncoming edge of magical energy with ... her hand. She grabs the weaponized sunlight with her gauntleted hand, which immediately sizzles and burns horribly. Alien steel begins to run in rivulets down Harken's wrist and her flesh begins to boil, but she locks eyes with Lydia without budging. "I admire your bravery. Tenacity. It's beautiful."

Calm as Harken might be by comparison, her senses are still finely-honed. She glances from the beastgirl to the one-eyed walking sorcerous cannon just a few feet away. Lily's plan to disintegrate her entirely makes perfect sense, really. "Riesenlied told you, did she?" Harken asks calmly, even as her already-red armour begins to glow the colour of freshly-picked cherries while she rather stupidly continues to hold onto Lydia's solar weapon. "Hmm..." the scarlet-haired woman looks very downcast to think about that. "If only it were all as simple as she thinks..."

"As much as I'd like to meet that force of yours head-on once more, Wolf," Harken relinquishes her grasp on Lydia's weapon at the last second! She closes her eyes. "There's no joy in it this time--not in that weird, bargained magic of yours!"

Azrael is planted into the stone pathway like some great totem, and Harken slams both hands together--one fist into an open palm. Her eyes open again, rich with the glow of a terrible energy which, unlike the scarlet pulse of life in them just moments before, seems to repulse the very stuff of Filgaia itself. Horrible mojo. Weaponless, she steps forward to tangle with Oblivion more directly. Cecliia's material magics summon forth what looks to all like a living Avatar of the Guardians, whose very presence burns Harken's skin and boils her soul. The hailstorm-rain of magical ice is not something so easily dodged, and the Quarter Knight wades into it as bladed frost scythes through whatever fel powers shield her from being instantly evaporated. "You're losing sight of the big picture." Harken sternly lectures Cecilia even as it looks like she might lose on this end of the magical struggle. If she could keep the attack up just a bit longer, would that be a second Quarter Knight down to the Dawn Chasers? "We didn't come here today to defeat you..."

A moving spatial anomaly, a point around which a limited sphere of infinite gravitic force, is 1/192ths of a micron from placing Harken within its event horizon and damning her, fired from the barrel of Lily's gun. She is robbed of the joy. Just as Cecilia is robbed of her own killing blow, the Quarter Knight simply vanishing in a billowing plume of crimson. The terrible sorcerous projectiles, on the other hand, continue on their previous trajectory. And the scope of Harken's previous statement grows very clear, as a tall-sailed ship making moves to get out of the harbour as quickly as possible suddenly rocks from side to side, shudders, and explodes in a hailstorm of wooden splinters, sail-shreds, and worse.

Only one fool is foolish enough to give chase to something moving too fast to be seen: Zed. In the moment between moments, he outspeeds even the Quarter Knight herself and rounds on her, the two of them practically in their own little world as a boat explodes in 200:1 slow motion beneath them. "Have you ever died, Zed? Did he ever kill you?" Harken asks with that horrible I've-been-keeping-secrets voice. "What if you don't win your right from this planet that hates you? What if things don't work that way? Here--no more words. Let me show you."

The duel is almost too fast to describe. The green-haired swordsman's first two blows are repelled by palm-edge strikes as the Quarter Knight observes his speed, and then, the third blow rather oddly pierces her breastplate. The weapon bites deep into her armour and a softer, unpleasant feel soon follows as flesh is rent. Harken's hands wrap around Zed's wrists, if he doesn't let go in shock or anything. The smell of blood--blood, not impure metal, blood is unmistakable. "There. One blow for one blow, don't you think?"

Like a teacher who really doesn't want to show her problem student the terrible way of the world, Harken smiles morosely and grips Doombringer's hilt in her gauntleted, shattered hands. She rends it free of her body in a beautiful arc in the world's most impromptu fast-draw technique, which means if Zed doesn't leave right now, it's going straight through him in turn.

<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

        The bullet flies on past Persephone, as if Josie were aiming for something else altogether.

        She was. Careening from sign to (bent) lamppost, the bullet ricochets its way across the damaged streets until it rebounds right back towards Persephone.
        Possibly from a less-than-expected angle.

GS: Lady Harken has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

"Both of those things are problems! People are dealing with both of them!" Lemina points out right back. "You can deal with two problems at once!" A pause. "Actually you pretty much have to deal with two problems at once! All the time! Life is mega-complicated and doesn't ever stop to let you deal with just one problem!"

It's one of those kinds of days, it seems like.

Speaking of it being one of those kinds of days, Lemina gets smacked with a barrel; she has *much* less defense for this one, and ends up mostly just bowled over. There's a little blood; on closer examination, it looks like she's been busted open the hard way on her forehead, which will look extremely awesome later*.

Despite having her bell rung, Lemina keeps going; as Tethelle closes in, Lemina backs away a bit, holding her staff in front of her. With a quick twirl, she calls, "Dance for me, bright flames, in a crimson storm!" A ring of flame springs up around Elvis, just as before...

... only this time, it climbs into a swirling inferno, just after Tethelle attacks, as Lemina finishes, "Flare Vortex!"

GS: Lemina Ausa has spent 3 Combo on Gatling, including 2 on Gatling!
GS: Lemina Ausa has attacked Elvis with Flare Vortex!
GS: Lemina Ausa has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Ragnell takes a glancing hit from Siegfried's Negative Rainbow for 110 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Lily Keil with Negative Energy!
GS: Lady Harken has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Lydia Seren with Negative Energy!
GS: Lady Harken has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with Negative Energy!
GS: Lady Harken has gained 1 Combo!
GS: CRITICAL! Cecilia Adlehyde critically Guards a hit from Lady Harken's Negative Energy for 37 hit points!
GS: Cripple and Poison! Statuses applied to Cecilia Adlehyde!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Lady Harken!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lady Harken has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Lady Harken has canceled their attack on Lily Keil.
GS: Lady Harken has canceled their attack on Lydia Seren.
GS: CRITICAL! Elvis guards a hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Whirling Juggernaut for 176 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Shield! Statuses applied to Tethelle Cirdian!
GS: Elvis has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
GS: Elvis guards a hit from Lemina Ausa's Flare Vortex for 120 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! Statuses applied to Elvis!
GS: Elvis has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
GS: Lady Harken has become ENRAGED!
GS: Lady Harken has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

It could be called beautiful, the way the shimmering prismatic barrier reflects off the water emitting by Nimue. Ambrosius keeps the beam going for as long as possible, but the Rephaim pushes forward and Lunata recounts her tale.

Adlehyde...yes, he remembers now, as well. That was before his people had aligned themselves from the Metal Demons. He saw a city under attack and took advantage of it to research.

...But he had saved humans, as well.

And now, here he was, fighting against their future.

It was strange, the way that worked - the way one's expectations betrayed themselves. He would have never expected the girl he saw that day to grow into a capable pilot like this.

"...I see. So that was you... I must admit, my purposes that day were primarily selfish." He murmurs. The Rephaim finally manages to break the deadlock, dispersing his beam. Its palm begins to shine and is thrust forward. Light washes over the Nimue, and he can feel the systems react.

The energy discharged by the Rephaim interferes with his defensives. Ambrosius exhales. This would be difficult, but he would simply have to deal with it. She says she can't make it up to him, but...

"...I do not expect you to. This is simply how it must be on the battlefield. I bear no ill will toward you - either of you."

That's right, Shalune, he hasn't forgotten you're there too.

"...I am Ambrosius, agent of the Veruni. Young one - what is your name?" He asks, as a sign of respect...and then, Shalune says her piece. It gives him pause. There is silence, and for a moment, the Nimue ceases to move. This does not remain for long. He spots the smaller Golem as it gathers scrap iinto itself, creating a giant fist that is sent rocketing toward it, then propelled further by a shot from Shalune himself.

Nimue's defensive systems may be offline, but the Golem is still in its element. It shifts to the side with surprising speed. Not enough to avoid the attack entirely, but to resist the bulk of it.

"...Your words cut deep, young one. No, I take no pleasure in this." He replies after a time. The Nimue extends one hand toward the Rephaim. The water around its feet begin to spin and surge upward, climbing the Rephaim and heading straight for the makeshift repairs made by Shalune. The roiling water seeks any weakness it can, aiming to flood the machine and disrupt its interiors.

"...But I do not possess the same strength she does. I cannot..." He hesitates, firing off another shot of green energy at Shalune. "I cannot turn from this path just yet, while my people still need me."

GS: Ambrosius has spent 2 Combo on Poison and Disease, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Lunata Croze with Withering Whirlpool!
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Shalune Amira with Palm Cannon!
GS: Ambrosius has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
GS: Lunata Croze critically Guards a hit from Ambrosius's Withering Whirlpool for 54 hit points!
GS: Lunata Croze has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ambrosius has lost 1 Combo!
GS: Lady Harken enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Lydia Seren with Negative Energy!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Lily Keil with Negative Energy!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Zed with Time Grows Still!
GS: Lady Harken has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Lady Harken has spent 3 Combo on Headshot, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Zed with Stillness Draw - VOID!
GS: Lady Harken has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lady Harken has completed her action.
GS: Shalune Amira guards a hit from Ambrosius's Palm Cannon for 204 hit points!
GS: Shalune Amira enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: CRITICAL! Zed takes a solid hit from Lady Harken's Time Grows Still for 0 hit points!
GS: Cripple and Poison! Statuses applied to Zed!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Lady Harken!
GS: CRITICAL! Zed takes a solid hit from Lady Harken's Stillness Draw - VOID for 275 hit points!
GS: Cripple and Poison! Statuses applied to Zed!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Lady Harken!
GS: Zed enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Lydia Seren has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lady Harken has lost 1 Combo!
DC: MISS! Lydia Seren completely evades Negative Energy from Lady Harken!
GS: Lily Keil takes a solid hit from Lady Harken's Negative Energy for 137 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Persephone has posed.

"A shame, there's a world of difference between the two of us!" Persephone quips, despite her somewhat blinded situation.

Obviously insinutating she is anything like a human is not one to get her on a human's side - but what, really, would?

'See'ing Ceimglace would entertain the thought that Persephone isn't mostly blind at the moment, which Jospehine and Ceimglace are attempting to use to their advantage, most of all. Josphine's dash is a problem, and the Sentinel knows it. The more they reposition, the more they move about in her situation, it'll be harder to keep up with them! "At least you'll find the reputation is well deserved." The woman proclaims. IN a surprising motion, half blind, the Sentinel begins to step forwards - heels striking the town's streets as she moves. Eyes peer forwards, illuminations and false sights still swimming in her eyes. Tch.

Oh, she's not? Josephine charges through the flames. The smell of burning, the sound of footsteps, Persephone twists around, throwing herself to the side - before the bullet, ricocheting across from the lamp-post, impacts her back - causing her to lurch forwards, heel striking the ground as she stays up. The impact should have put her down.

It's not the only one that comes, however. The drumstick, small and focused as it is, strokes the back of Persephone's head - the impact solid, the Sentinel struck once more, causing the image in her eyes to blur once more. The world remains a blur as the Sentinel is struck. How something so small strikes so solidly, Persephone is unable to see, the Seraph able to take advantage of her current, fortunate, situation.

With a heel turn, she twists towards Ceimglace, eyes opening as she lashes out towards the Seraph, the other heel striking towards her throat in a single motion - attempting to sweep it towards the solid 'form' of the Seraph, lunging with the second towards them. With the swimming landscape before her, the blur burning into her eyes, she would kick off that very same lamp-post, if not Ceimglace's form, to launch her backwards and away from them, twisting within the air to land atop, or nearby, Jospehine, the heel striking out as she would land to send her, if nothing else, further away, a second strike if she is forced to kick off and flip back in a way to put both of them on the same side of her.

"You've proved, maybe, you're not some namless drifters, but how much longer do you think I'll be willing to play with you?" Persephone remarks - as if the actions, the assaults from those gathered were simply out of pity.

She had none, of course, though the ringing in her head and the wedged bullet in her back - they attributed much to her disinterest in sparing them, if she was given the choice.

GS: Persephone has attacked Seraph Ceimglace with Rise!
GS: Persephone has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Persephone enters a Counter stance!
GS: Persephone has attacked Josephine Lovelace with Velveteen!
GS: Persephone has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Persephone has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Seraph Ceimglace takes a glancing hit from Persephone's Rise for 83 hit points!
GS: Quick! Statuses applied to Persephone!
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Don't leave a space for her to walk, Lydia thinks to herself, as she keeps up the assault. How do I do that? Notably, Lydia didn't call for 'support' earlier, at least not in the connotation support usually refers to but she did suggest some degree of tactics, some degree of cooperation, some lack of blind rage.

The truth is, Lydia cannot even comprehend what Cecilia is feeling. The loss of a father? Lydia's lost her father too, but it wasn't to murder. She had to throw him away. She had to throw him away twice. She wishes she could have loved a father so much that she'd shed tears if Lady Harken speared his chest through.

But Zed. Zed of all people manages to slow Lydia down. She can't spare a glance, but she listens to his words. Why do they speak to her?

Is it because of the abuse he's had to endure? The bullying? The beatings? The threats?

Is it because he is admitting fear? A fear not unlike the one that grips Lydia even now? A fear that encourages her to yell and scream.

Even if I have to win my right to live from the planet myself, I won't yield.

There's an alternate solution, Lydia thinks, if she turns her thinking around. If her friends won't cooperate she can just make them cooperate. What would mom do?

Lydia's fingers curl around the Silver Medium. What would mom do?

"Lily." Lydia says. "Rigdobrite isn't the Guardian of Light. Stars expel light but they're actually balls of super hot fire and radiation that eventually caves in on its own mass and becomes a black hole, a void from which even light can't escape. I guess what I'm saying is--"

She looks into Lily's eyes. "Stars are actually super goth."

Harken looks into her eyes. Lydia looks right back. "I'm terrified of you," She says, though she is able to avoid shaking. "If I blink at the wrong time you'll kill me. But...there are people who didn't give up on me when I was like you, so I can't...nhhh...give up on you either."

She senses that Gwen is suffering, on her last legs, already defeated? Her resolve falters and she is pushed back, the negative light of Harken's pulsing into her, pulsing around her, threatening to snuff out this one little light of hope that they have--the ability to fight. The chance to fight. That's why Lydia is here--to make sure they can fight for themselves. Not for the Guardians, not for Cecilia's dad, not for anything else but that.

"Ghhnn...." She says, her segmented hand gripping the silver medium tightly. "Rigdobrite... I'm ready!"

A light erupts around Lydia, shoving the dark sick energy pulsing from Harken away from her body, pushing it farther forward, and within that light--Lydia vanishes.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

FMV SEQUENCE

The screen pans to a sun. It glows ever so brightly. The screen pulls back a bit revealing that the sun seems to be in an eye? That's right, it's the eye of Rigdobrite. the screen pulls further back revealing the the suns are his eyes, the stars as his eyes. He looks down upon Filgaia, eyes staring unblinkingly except for the third eye which is closed.

The screen slams back down onto the surface of Rigdobrite. Lydia walks across his back and ducks down, giving Rigdobrite a small kiss. "Thank you." She whispers.

Then she straightens up, brushes her hair back with a hand, letting it fly wildly behind her.

"MATERIAL!" Lydia shouts.

The camera backs further again revealing that behind Lydia, behind Rigdobrite is a whole galaxy of stars waiting behind them. Lydia points one of her tonfa bladed arms towards the surface of Filgaia.

The stars seem to shift. Shafts of light come crashing down towards the battlefield as if the shine of the heavens is focusing on this one particular battlefield, this one little slice of Filgaia.

But it's not shining down towards the Metal Demons.

"Don't give up everyone!" Lydia's voice can be heard. "The stars still shine bright!"

And those fighting Siegfried and Harken...

They are now empowered by a Guardian's light!

NORMAL SEQUENCE

The light around Lydia only fades partially as she reappears on Filgaia, and Rigdobrite remains in the sky above.

"Get the fuck out of here or I'll bombard you until you're vapor." Lydia says.

GS: Lydia Seren has activated a Force Action!
GS: CRITICAL! Josephine Lovelace takes a solid hit from Persephone's Velveteen for 135 hit points!
GS: Quick! Statuses applied to Persephone!
GS: Lydia Seren has spent 2 Combo on Inspire and Reload, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Zed with Baby The Stars Shine Bright!
GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Lily Keil with Baby The Stars Shine Bright!
GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with Baby The Stars Shine Bright!
GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Baby The Stars Shine Bright!
GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Seraph Ragnell with Baby The Stars Shine Bright!
GS: Lydia Seren has completed her action.
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Lily Keil!
GS: Lydia Seren heals Lily Keil! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Reload! Lily Keil gains 15 extra FP from Lydia Seren!
GS: Lily Keil gains a Combo from Inspire!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Cecilia Adlehyde!
GS: Lydia Seren heals Cecilia Adlehyde! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Reload! Cecilia Adlehyde gains 15 extra FP from Lydia Seren!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde gains a Combo from Inspire!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Ida Everstead-Rey!
GS: Lydia Seren heals Ida Everstead-Rey! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Reload! Ida Everstead-Rey gains 15 extra FP from Lydia Seren!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey gains a Combo from Inspire!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Zed!
GS: Lydia Seren heals Zed! He gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Reload! Zed gains 15 extra FP from Lydia Seren!
GS: Zed gains a Combo from Inspire!
<Pose Tracker> Elvis has posed.

"A LACKEY?!"

Elvis is utterly infuriated by the mention of that! What sort of affront is this to his position?! He just points a finger at Tethelle and starts shouting in an uncontrollable voice, something similar to a kid in elementary. "I have more important things to do than just follow them around like some kind of MINION!!!"

THere isn't any evidence presented to the contrary. Perhaps a lapse in judgement.

A Human could not understand the task appointed to him. This was heresy to destroy their port. He did not want to, but he prefers to think of the positives-- a few thousand Humans escaped with their lives because Elvis bullied them in to fleeing as the attack started. Thats a plus, right?!

"COME AT ME!" Elvis screams, the mere power of his voice vibrating the ground. The Veruni does not expect the power behind those attacks, but his hands work. A clash of attacks begins, with Elvis' arm movements able to keep up with her slashes. small lacerations appear where he is forced to block where his gloves cannot reach. The attacks get worse as attacks progress, Tethelle building power. "I don't have time for your little fighting games, Human Tethelle!" Elvis states!

She lands, and launches a lancing burst of energy upward at Elvis! "I helped in this situation! You don't even get it!" he shouts at Lemina. "You don't know how many problems I have to deal with on a daily basis! The amount of responsibility on my shoulders! You both are too young to understand!"

The energy collides, and the Sentinel's fist fills with a pupleish-blue energy to counter it! The energy Tethelle weilds is strong, but along not enough, as the thrown fist slowly eats away at the energy coming up at him, and the man descends toward his assailant! "You will have to do better than that!"

And then Lemina adds in. The power of the two attacks intermingle, creating a strange synergy of chi and sorcery. Together, it destabilizes the path Elvis had set forth, and gets thrown sky high, crashing down with a painful belly flop into the harbor.

It seems over...

Until he surfaces about ten seconds later. He looks miffed, slapping the water with his hands, and then just shouts at the two!

"...I'M GOING HOME!"

...And begins to swim away. Where is he even going?!

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        Weird, indeed. Gwen may not even understand the brimming note of anger in her chest, starting with Ida's first question.

        'Because your people are people!

        Gwen turns and looks towards Ida, a warm smile spreading on her lips in spite of the deep grimace of pain knotting her face moments before.

        'Because they deserve to live!'

        Yes, that's it. it all came down to that.

        They weren't just some strange invaders, alien in their ways, their culture, their very existence. They were doing what would perhaps be what she'd selfishly claim to be the most human thing of all: survive.

        And they deserved better than this.

        But first, Gwen needs to survive herself. First: Ragnell's attack. "Uh, this could be a pro-" She coughs, spitting blood as she fumbles after Ida, away from Ragnell's friendly fire. Oh, that Ragnell. That trickster! Doesn't she know that Gwen can't swim?

        Siegfried probably doesn't either, as he casts his vicious area attack on all three of them as two flee and another... is Ragnell. Gwen cries out as the beams lance through her and through the wooden planks below her.

        As Gwen falls, unconscious and bleeding, the there is nothing to greet her but the churned waters below.

GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Seraph Ragnell!
GS: Lydia Seren heals Seraph Ragnell! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Seraph Ragnell enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Reload! Seraph Ragnell gains 15 extra FP from Lydia Seren!
GS: Seraph Ragnell gains a Combo from Inspire!
<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Meanwhile, over on the fishing boat, the fishermen have finally managed to help Talise out of the hold.

It wasn't complicated. They gave her a ladder and she climbed up it.

With the fight still going on, Talise - and Benedict Greygust, the Fox Company's super courier - have been holding off a flock of Metal Beasts attempting to sink the fishing boat, in fact a large trawler which would be capable of ferrying a few PCs across the ocean if necessary.

"This is not what I thought would be on the Blue Star," Benedict complains Talise-ward before popping off a crossbow bolt, sending a flying Beast spiraling out of the sky to splash down in the ocean.

<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

It's hard. Tethelle practically forces the beam of chi forward, energy churning around her arms as she roars wordlessly to try to punch it through Elvis' defense. She doesn't quite manage it - alone. It penetrates when Lemina's ice whirls around it, Tethelle's radiant chi forming a natural channel for the sorcery to follow.

She gasps for breath afterwards, refusing to use her sword as a prop to keep her up - she slouches for a few moments, hands on her knees, but does not let the point scrape against the stone. As for Elvis, Tethelle does not really care where he is going as long as it is not here.

"AND DON'T COME BACK," she yells after him.

Once she's caught her breath, Tethelle gives Lemina a thankful nod. "I'm going to keep helping," she says. "You are welcome too, though I don't know that I can spare much time for talking." Tethelle turns and runs - well, it's part running, part lurching and part limping from her shredded leg - into the main part of the docks. She has more work to do.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

        There's a twist and a hiss, as the whirlpool of water begins to clatter and chew. Chew is the right verb, as the distorted plating of metal so haphazardly thrown and strewn about the Rephaim's breached chest begin to contort, and twist and crumple into something akin to a useless thing so macerated; errant parts of scrap metal crumple, exposing that which the Nimue's claw and water-cutting beam already have exposed underneath.

        "One more shot... that's all I got left. But I'll give it all I got," Lunata mumbles witheringly.

        Ambrosius asks her -- asks them -- for their names.

        "My name is Lunata Croze," she announces. She finds it in her to have a semblance of respect, despite how much of a heel she can be sometimes. "Marked by the Wheel of Spirits... claimed by Ge Ramtos himself."

        There's such a sour note to her own voice. And she closes her eyes--

        There is no more need for regret.

        --and drifts back on her flightsticks, as the Rephaim escapes the whirlpool before it can be shattered and torn asunder; it lifts into its dominant place once more, in the skies, as its chest begins to emanate with a propulsion of energies welling within it.

        Lunata's dashboard snaps open as she lowers her head, gazing deep upon the emanating pulse within the sphere of the interlocking rings of Rujm el-Hiri...

        "Multilock: target acquired."

        Points upon points of light begin to engulf the winged Gear as it brings to full bear its potential; each individual hardpoint laced with what analysis and radar systems may register as a high breach of Ley energy--

        "Correcting output for Ley deviation..."

        Her eyes, cast down upon the wild and furious hornet's nest of interlocking reticles each turning red.

        "Error correction complete, Pulse Shift complete."

                                       ^
                                  ,........`
                                 ,.....|.....`
                               ,.........[o]...`
                             ,...[o]............`
                            <.....-...+....-.....>
                              `.....[o].........,
                               `...........[o].,
                                 `.....|.....,
                                   `[o]....,
                                       v

        Her eyes flash-- and the Rephaim's gleam in turn.

                           "Rephaim -- Full Burst."

GS: Lunata Croze has spent 3 Combo on Headshot, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Lunata Croze has attacked Ambrosius with Ley Line Buster - Maximum Discharge!
GS: Lunata Croze has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lunata Croze has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Ambrosius takes a solid hit from Lunata Croze's Ley Line Buster - Maximum Discharge for 669 hit points!
GS: Ambrosius has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        Ida shoots Ragnell a look of pure anger. Ragnell responds with a toothy grin and a sardonic wink. Ragnell the Truth-Bomber, that's what her True Name should've been.
        
        The moment that Siegfried nearly cleaves Gwen in two, though, her eyes narrow. The Tornado Chaser reaches him in time to spare Gwen, though she's still in deep trouble. Maybe don't try to melee with a guy who's taken on armies single-handedly and won? Ragnell wonders where Gwen is picking up all these bad habits from. Someone needs to tell her not to be so reckless.
        
        A few more splinters of what remains of the pier wave in the winds of battle and drop into the choppy waves.
        
        Ragnell snorts when Ida beseeches Siegfried to treat his people *as* people. It's not surprising to her that he shuts her down; if it were her, she would find it awfully irritating that a human was trying to speak for the Seraphim. That steel in her eyes, though... *That* shows some promise.
        
        Even more promising is the Quarter Knight's response. "Now that's what I'm talkin' about!" Ragnell crows at Siegfried. "But--" She shuts one eye and smirks. "Didn't your Mother ever tell ya spittin' is rude~?"
        
        Siegfried returns her sass with a TASTE OF THE PAINBOW. Bolts of reversed light scream out towards Ragnell, along with Ida and Gwen, and while she attempts to evade, her partial destruction of the docks--which Siegfried is now making more thorough--has backfired now that she's failed to drop him into the water. She leaps from post to post, but the searing light strikes her from every direction as she goes. Nothing gets a direct hit, so she's able to keep her balance, but by the time the storm is over, she's looking pretty beat up from where she stands on one of the remaining posts.
        
        Mind you, she also looks like she's enjoying herself, so, you know.
        
        She does however also cast a sharp look over Gwen's way when she falls unconscious into the water, body tensing. She wasn't expecting her to already get knocked out, though maybe she should've figured when Gwen went to melee and Ragnell threw a tornado in her general direction. She only relaxes when she spots another Drifter leaping into the water and swimming after her, at which point she breathes out a faint sigh, then grimaces. "I'm gettin' too soft for my own good," she mutters.
        
        Lydia appears in the skies above with Rigdobrite a second later, and while this would not necessarily deter Ragnell as she focuses back in on Siegfried, Lydia bestows Rigdobrite's power upon her and the others fighting Siegfried and Harken. That power, that stellar light, knits the worst of Ragnell's wounds and fills her body up with strength such that her already partially-immaterial body feels light... The Seraph grins up at the Baskar, along with--yes--a special wink, ~just for her~--before moving to make good use of that boost.
        
        Bringing her twin pistols together, the muzzles begin to flow with a golden-white like that collects rapidly in an orb in front of them. "TEMPEST LASER!" she shouts, and a second later, that orb explodes forward in a thick laser headed straight for Siegfried... and also, hit or miss, the hull of a ship several yards behind him. Maybe there's a reason Ragnell usually holds back...?

GS: Seraph Ragnell enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Seraph Ragnell enters a Counter stance!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has attacked Siegfried with Tempest Laser!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

        "So I've gathered," Josie comments, to Ceimglace rather than Persephone, but perhaps it could stand as a response to the Veruni as well. "But I don't know -- perhaps you could make a few more? There's no shame in a bad pun, you know."
        As if she weren't in the middle of reorienting herself against a foe of unknown but demonstrably intense power, in a port city aflame, with the stakes -- and gains -- similarly uncertain.

        But when you go through life by the skin of your teeth, why not?

        So she fires as she charges through the flames, taking a split-second trick shot for the scenery and apparently trusting in her aim to bring her bullet home. But even that solid shot is worrying -- Persephone may take it in the back and stagger but such a hit would have just about dropped anyone normal. Josie's grin at last falters and she narrows her eyes.

        Ceimglace picks this moment to chime in.
        ...A drumstick?
        Even in the middle of combat, Josie arches one pale eyebrow.
        "Unorthodox, but possibly effective," she comments, as she wheels back a step at a diagonal, away from Persephone.

        It's not nearly fast enough. Persephone may wheel in the direction of Ceimglace first, but it's Josie who is next on her list; using that selfsame pole that Josie had bounced a bullet off earlier, she rockets forward soon after and strikes out -- heel first -- for the wayward archaeologist.
        An oath slips Josie's lips as she staggers back and squints one eye closed as if pained.

        "Damn... I forgot how much those things can hurt," she breathes, before she straightens -- or at least as much as she's able. She'd caught that one right in the gut, and it shows.

        "Of course... I'm not nameless. I told you who I am, you know," she replies, and here manages a smile, as if able to find some small mirth in the moment. "Besides, don't... you have your story to focus on? Or, is this a part of it?" In spite of her condition, Josie makes as if she's about to shrug--

        Only to snap her ARM out and crack off a pair of shots, aimed low, as if she's aiming to strip Persephone's movement from her, too.

GS: Josephine Lovelace has attacked Persephone with Insult To Injury!
GS: Josephine Lovelace has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Siegfried critically Guards a hit from Seraph Ragnell's Tempest Laser for 30 hit points!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Seraph Ragnell!
GS: Siegfried has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ceimglace has posed.

         Ceimglace doesn't trust that anyone can or can't see her. She knows people might very well pretend they might not in order to pretend semi-normal: she remembers the reactions Neriah was getting that day she ran into her and Ragnell the first time. She remembers being forgotten. She remembers being able to be seen again - by more than one person. Her eyes flash with that realization that she's not trusting, and she pushes herself away, but it's seconds too late.
 
         (Isn't everything too late, these days?)
 
         The heels and such strike out at her form, and she takes the hits, her hands coming up to cover her face, scratches and such before she's kicked back, going flying a bit til she slams into another table, skidding across it and falling on the other side. She stays down for a few moments.
 
         She pops up finally, shaking slightly, but fire burns in her eyes. She gives Josie a grin though. "Hey, I'm not Ragnell, I don't normally make them." A pause. "Not that she does either, I'm pretty sure she has better ideas for ice and nice than that. But still. I've been around for awhile: I need new jokes. New puns! One might say that...!"
 
         *jinglejingleJINGLEJINGLEJINGLE*
 
         Ceimglace threw a tambourine at Persephone.
 
         "I'd like to be surprised, now and then!"

GS: Seraph Ceimglace has attacked Persephone with Surprise Jingling Noises!
GS: Seraph Ceimglace has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Ceimglace has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ines Colina has posed.

        Having routed her enemy (and possibly torn up bits of the wharf), Ines takes a second to take stock. There are more metal beasts tearing at the dock. And that's a problem. But there's also a number of people falling into the water, from the ship near destroyed thanks to Harken's dodging and Lily's firebolt, to the more immediate presence of Gwen falling into the water thanks to Siegfried's attack and Ragnell taking the footing out from everyone.

        That, she can do something about. Without a word, the beastwoman dives into the water, going for those who are already sinking.

<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Cecilia grits her teeth. It STINGS to have her failings called out and highlighted, all the moreso by one of her father's killers - the more directly responsible one, no less.

Finally, then, the words come.

"What bigger picture!?" Cecilia demands, screams. "You have my mother's Teardrop! You have the blood of my countrymen and my father on your hands! And you're more dangerous than anybody here! Should I just skip away!? Sail off into the distance and let you burn this place like Adlehyde!?"

The ship deonates, and Cecilia stands there, quaking. Shaking.

"You'd have it be my fault that you kill?" she says. Seethes.

Harken's darkness washes across her...and the air around her illuminates, as the Princess, wide-eyed with a soul-deep anger repels even the worst of Harken's repulsive energy.

"Perhaps I am a poor savior. But I will stand for them!" She thrusts her arm forward and with a CRACK, a Medium forms before her, sparking and sputtering, claws of lightning crackling away from it. Noua SHax.

"MATERIAL!" Cecilia screams.

He appears - a leonid beast, mouth yawned wide, a crackling pinpoint at the center gatherin together.

"Rage Hammer!!" Cecilia screams, and the BLAST of lightning, dense enough to chere, rockets forward at the speed of electricity to shatter Harken completely.

GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has activated a Force Action!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has activated a Force Action!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has spent 4 Combo on Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Lady Harken with Material - Rage Hammer!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

        At the very least, Ambrosius' response draws Shalune to a halt; given that she's sticking out the top of Big Shal's scaffolding, open to the air, the way in which she draws back as if stung and clutches at her staff is visible. "... ... I'm sorry," she finds it within herself to say in that empty moment, and somehow it manages to carry above the rising water beneath them. "I know. It's not-- something everyone can do. It's not something everyone can do just like that, nor all the time. That's not your fault. But still!--"

        Whatever else she was about to say is lost as the swelling water overtakes them, and Shalune is forced to yelp and duck inside her canopy to try to take cover. Even then, it clearly doesn't work; her radio stutters and fizzles out as the wave bombards both Big Shal and her decidedly non-waterproof canopy, ruining Shalune's headset as it shreds more of the golem's body away. At least the mechanic doesn't seem to get washed off the golem, and the way in which the whirlwind of spare parts and scrap metal still whirls below Big Shal suggests that she's conscious.

        "You already," she manages to get out, obviously pained, her voice surprisingly low for the mechanic. " lune Amir nt to help I don't e to die any " Whatever else she tries to say is lost to static - and besides, Big Shal seems to be of the mind that the fight is out of time.

        As the Rephaim lifts up, the Golem seems to already be aware of what Lunata is going to do, and rather than risk being within the firing line the machine elects to let go of the Rephaim's arm instead, allowing itself to fall into the maelstrom of components flying beneath it. When the construction golem manages to hover, it is only in the loosest definition of the word, watching the devastation as it repeatedly clambers from one piece of flying debris to another.

GS: Persephone has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Persephone has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        'Mind your own business.'

        Ida meets Siegfried's eyes--or comes as close as she can, with his eyes hidden behind his helmet. Her lip trembles. "Do you think," she says, "that their fate rests on your shoulders, alone? No. It can't. Just as--just as the fate of my people cannot rest on mine."

        He didn't even listen to Riesenlied. Shut up. Nothing you say is going to convince him.

        That horrible light builds around Siegfried. Ida recognizes it; she remembers what she did to stop it at the Guardian Temple. Chi flows down her arms, knotting into tight little circuits within her forearms and hands. It glows through her skin like a fire shining through a paper lantern. Tendrils of golden-white crackle between her fingertips.

        Ida steps forwards, thrusts an open palm forwards, just like Kalve taught her. She catches the raw fury of Siegfried's assault, lets the awful energy spill like boiling water across her palm. She steps to the side, shifts her weight, lets the beam glance off like a physical blow. It strikes the surface of the water, turning it to steam instantly. More steam billows up from Ida's palms--sweat, vaporized instantly by Siegfried's attack.

        But someone else wasn't so lucky. Wood splits, groans, crumbles. Ida turns to Gwen, and watches her tumble into the water. "Gwen!" There's a blur of motion in the corner of her eye, and then another splash. Someone jumped in after her, but Ida didn't see who.

        And at that moment, the heavens crack open, and a ray of light shines down on her. Ida looks up, but she doesn't need to in order to know what happened--she can feel the power of the Star Guardian as it fills her. She hear Lydia's voice, hear her fear and her hope. She wishes she could tell her she knows how it feels, right now.

        "Then no more words," Ida whispers. Chi spills back into the rest of her body. Ida flows with it, surging forwards, blurring visibly as she crosses the distance between her and Siegfried. Even the increasingly-broken dock fails to stop her--she's suddenly right there, in front of him. Ida leaps into the air, her coat billowing out behind her. She draws back her right fist, and drives it forwards. The motion is simple, elegant, well-practiced. It looks like the sort of strike that would earn good marks during a form review, and not the sort of strike that could put a hole in a building.

        This is where one would be wrong. As soon as Ida's hand touches Siegfried's breastplate--or even comes close--things happen. Chi boils off of the human's bare hand, scouring metal and flesh even as it amplifies the force of Ida's strike into a crushing blow. The sudden flare of light casts both Ida and Siegfried into sharp relief. Ida looks up at him, teeth clenched, but not in anger.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has spent 5 Combo on Headshot and Gatling, including 1 on Gatling!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Siegfried with Unbroken Lotus Fist!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Siegfried takes a solid hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Unbroken Lotus Fist for 202 hit points!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Ida Everstead-Rey!
GS: Persephone takes a glancing hit from Josephine Lovelace's Insult To Injury for 43 hit points!
GS: Entangle! Statuses applied to Persephone!
GS: Mighty! Statuses applied to Josephine Lovelace!
GS: Siegfried has become ENRAGED!
GS: Persephone takes a solid hit from Seraph Ceimglace's Surprise Jingling Noises for 74 hit points!
GS: Seraph Ceimglace has lost 0 Combo!
GS: Siegfried has activated a Boss Action!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Marked by the Wheel of Spirits, claimed by Ge Ramtos...Ambrosius stows that away for later - noting as well her tone. He observes as the Rephaim manages to escape the whirlpool before it is overtaken, and as the machine ascends into the sky and begins to emit light.

This...cannot possibly be good. The Golem raises both of its arms, focusing on the Rephaim. It fires upon the Gear, but not quickly enough. His shots are consumed by the light of the Leyline as Lunata unleashes a full burst, discharging numerous shots of power that fall toward the Nimue, hammering it repeatedly. With its defensive systems locked down, it is unable to defend against them. The Golem's frame is rocked numerous times, the machine jarred in an unnatural fashion. And then it falls backwards into the sea with a crash, sending waves splashing out all around.

No further words come over the communications.

The Nimue does not emerge.

It would be easy to assume that the Golem was destroyed utterly...but if Shalune watches carefully, she might be able to spot a serpentine shadow under the water, retreating.

And on a private channel...

"This is Agent Ambrosius. The Nimue has sustained heavy damage. I am forced to retreat...I will submit a full report later." He says.

The teamwork between those humans, Lunata Croze and Shalune Amira...it was remarkable, he had to admit. He would have to analyze the battle data later.

<Pose Tracker> Siegfried has posed.

Gwen falls in the water. Hers was a valiant effort -- and though she can hardly appreciate the gesture, Siegfried nods respectfully to her.

The Quarter Knight looks back at Ragnell; his teeth grit, a flash of anger on his face instinctively at the insult from Ragnell before, to say nothing of Lydia Seren shining brightly in the sky with the power of her Guardian. He steels himself, as Ragnell fires the orb of lightning -- on the back of a laser beam -- and he slams one fist into it.

The impact still causes a shockwave to ripple through his forearm armor. It buckles and bends in places, but does not break. The orb of light careens off, though, and drops down into the frigate next to him. It smashes through the lower deck; a titanic explosion erupts, and the vessel begins listing violently.

"I am master and commander. You are... whatever you are," Siegfried tells Ida, dismissively, even as he stands his ground. Ida moves with such speed -- and she strikes true, her hand slamming into the breastplate that Gwen left half-broken before. It slams into him, chi driving him backward, and leaves rivulets of quicksilver splashed over the shattered docks. "Believe you what you will!" he screams over the cacophany of the chi. "I stand! I rule! I conquer! THAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US!"

Siegfried explodes into action with that declaration. Then, he sends out another Negative Rainbow. Blades of shuddering, reverse-prismatic light explode outward. Arcs of it shred into the sinking frigate next to him; three slam directly for Ida, driving her backward, while another two rush upward to slam for Lydia. More careen in, forming an X-formation -- which crosses right upon Ragnell.

Then, Siegfried leaps straight into the air. His cape whirls after; he rises upward, Ambrosius's words ringing in his ears. "Well fought," he answers him. Then, he throws his hands out. As he descends, his damaged chestplate slides open.

The cannon inside is already charging.

White motes of light bead, burn, and gather -- drawing into the cannon's barrel, before a massive beam of light fires. It slams down through the sails and mast of one ship. Sails catch flame, cloth burning up, as the beam drags to catch Ragnell, then rips through the docks' remnants, before slashing for Ida. Then, finally, the beam whips upward. It curves, slightly, before coming for Lydia.

GS: Siegfried has activated a Force Action!
GS: Siegfried has activated a Force Action!
GS: Siegfried has spent 3 Combo on Headshot, including 0 on Gatling!
GS: Siegfried has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Proton Beam!
GS: Siegfried has attacked Seraph Ragnell with Proton Beam!
GS: Siegfried has attacked Lydia Seren with Proton Beam!
GS: Siegfried has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Siegfried has spent 2 Combo on Gatling, including 1 on Gatling!
GS: Siegfried has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Negative Rainbow!
GS: Siegfried has attacked Seraph Ragnell with Negative Rainbow!
GS: Siegfried has attacked Lydia Seren with Negative Rainbow!
GS: Siegfried has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Ida Everstead-Rey critically Guards a hit from Siegfried's Proton Beam for 85 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Siegfried has lost 1 Combo!
GS: COUNTER! Seraph Ragnell strikes at Siegfried with a counter attack!
GS: CRITICAL! Seraph Ragnell takes a solid hit from Siegfried's Proton Beam for 423 hit points!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
GS: Siegfried takes a solid hit from Seraph Ragnell's Counter Attack for 230 hit points!
GS: Seraph Ragnell takes a glancing hit from Siegfried's Negative Rainbow for 113 hit points!
GS: Seraph Ragnell has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey critically Guards a hit from Siegfried's Negative Rainbow for 43 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Siegfried has lost 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

        On the flipside, the day is saved because the episode can come out just under the budget line, thanks to Lunata's flashy beam-spam that can be bottled and unleashed any time, as well as the Nimue's mysteriously cheap to animate sneaky shadow...!

        There's a faint and relieved little groan from Lunata as Ambrosius retreats; she's certain that didn't take him out -- not fully; Veruni construction, as Big Shal has shown her, was nothing to be trifled with.

        ... but as the sounds of battle fade, Lunata is forced to pause for a moment. To savour the feeling--

        No, not the feeling of victory. To gloat and immerse herself upon the fleeting moment of victory would distract her from her purpose, her reason to be.

        She closes her eyes and thinks back upon the moment she let her heart sink.

        Remorse... is no longer necessary.
        For her sake. Everything, for her sake.

        "I'm-- pretty toast, Shalune, everything's overheated and in a terrible way," Lunata finds herself speaking ruefully. "We'll have to retreat..." as she glances up towards where there're still Metal Beasts and Dragons abound.

        She slumps her head back and says, "... thanks for coming out here with me."

<Pose Tracker> Persephone has posed.

"Josephine Lovelace." The Veruni speaks, "And you're able to take this in such stride." The Sentinel adds at the sense of humour that cracks through at her expense. Landing, one heel is pushed out before the other as she begins to stride towards Jospehine and the Seraph, Ceimglace, once more. A slowly, steady movement as she closes the distance. "You have everything you should need, but it's not enough, is it? If you're that interested in doing me a favor, throw yourself off into the ocean and sink."

Yet there is a slight bit more. "They'll get what they need." Regarding the story, "I already have a few choice cu-" The faint motion from Josephine, a blur as she is in Persephone's vision, moves. The woman does as well. Josephine's movement causes her to spring forwards, following it. It's a lunge, the woman twisting her pistol outwards, moving to fire in response - but it doesn't happen. The impact, twisting towards Josephine, isn't direct enough, the shots grazing her heeled feet, digging into the boots and causing streaks of red among the pink and purple, the Veruni landing in a skid, kicking up dust and dirt as she comes to a start.

"Trying to pick me apart... do you really have the time?" The IPCC Veruni pistol is raised towards Josephine - then fanned. Shot after shot rings out, thick slugs streaming towards the drifting in an equal response. Except these are aimed at her central mass, and the golden gun rings out as it is fired, the sound echoing from the gunshots, matching the recoil visible from the Veruni's wrist tiwsting back after each shot. The answer to Josephine, as the Seraph makes herself known - throwing that tambourine at Persephone, the horrible cacophany of noise drowning out everything else for a moment. Twisting around towards the Seraph - there's a bit of a different action than intended, the woman throwing herself into the assault as the metallic instrument crashes towards her.

The impact staggers Persephone, but in a way that she presses forwards, despite the musical sound ringing in her ears, likely from hitting the helmet directly, the Veruni clawing off the ground and pushing forwards, kicking off after the first full footed step on the ground. But as she rises, there is a predatory grin,

"Do you?"

Of the three Sentinel's, Persephone is the second most brutal. It is unlikely anyone but Kartikeya would claim the top spot. It is closer than it should be, at times.

Pushing off the ground, now that she has risen, the Veruni lashes out with a knee towards the Seraph, intending to strike the midsection of her 'stomach' - a simple, straightforwards strike.

GS: Persephone has spent 5 Combo on Gatling, including 4 on Gatling!
GS: Persephone has attacked Josephine Lovelace with IPCC-3927!
GS: Persephone has attacked Seraph Ceimglace with Knee Strike!
GS: Persephone has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Persephone has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

"It can't be," Lily agrees with Harken--as simple as Riesenlied would want, that is. "But raised to fight, to value victory, to disregard my enemy's lives for the goals of those we follow... She has a point."

Lily glances at Lydia; she has care enough for the girl, despite the fact that her cold, rational mind tells her Lydia is ideal for engaging closely, can recover from worse wounds than the others. How's that for teamwork? Letting your ally be hurt because they can take it?

"Maybe no joy for you."

Lily thinks she can imagine what Cecilia is thinking. Rage, she understands. And it concerns her. But Harken is moving--the terrible energy that repulses the stuff of Filgaia looms ahead, and Lily's single eye locks onto it--she stares into the awful power it is, as she watches Cecilia's summoning come towards it. The big picture... Lily watches that Harken simply vanishes. Again, she's too fast; Lily's bullets crash towards the ship beyond her and her eye widens in--

Surprise? ...Rage? Awareness? What is it? W hat is it, precisely? There were people in that ship, trying to escape. Did the blast destroy them outright, bullets given just the right velocity...?

Agatha's words echo in her ears. 'You're still trying for finesse - but is this the right opponent for it?' Harken is faster than Lily could ever be, she is sure of in that moment. The power that she used against Agatha; the power that...

She's avoided. And yet, people are dying, and will die more. Does that matter?

...Does it, really?

Lily lets herself embrace the strange energy that comes towards her, then. She erects a barrier before Dog, but stands flush with it, moving to--absorb. The energy of death, the anathema to life, passes through the sorceress. ...But is it so different? The miasma of it lingers on her skin.

Lily's eye opens. "Dog," she says. "...Get to cover." Stopping suddenly, "Lydia..." She closes her eye. "You're right. The most beautiful light... has to burn something to show itself."

Dog whines once, but does as she's ordered. And the instant she begins to move, Lily breathes in, and her form blurs slightly, as if from a heat mirage; in a flash, the energy surrounding her fades--no, is drawn in by that breath. In its wake, burns, cuts, obvious wounds from having suffered that strike are revealed on her body; she is pale, pale as if ill. ...And simply, she holsters her weapon.

"...You're going to claim your traitor," she says simply, and begins to float upward, just a foot off of the ground. The markings at her throat, made visible on her arms by torn sleeves, at her hands--they pulse, circuits gleaming with power before her single eye glazes over, turning black--and the markings fade. They pulse back to life a second later, sourced from that eye, a shock of color appearing down her hair as the lines flood across again. Wings of spectral power erupt from her shoulderblades again, and a feeling of pressure exudes from her into magical senses.

Her voice distorts slightly, speaks in an ancient tongue, "...<Omega Protocol engaged.>"

And in that moment, the light of Rigdobrite shines down on Lily and is reflected around her in a torrent. "<Power augmentation... Processing.>"

Lily starts to rise higher, black hair whipping behind her as she starts to move in towards Harken in melee again--towards where she engages with Zed. "If you won't slip off this mortal coil yourself," Lily speaks up, her voice echoing strangely, "...Maybe I can bring Hell to you."

"Zed," she says as she stops short in melee, "Don't move."

For an instant, nothing happens. ...In the next instant there is a sense of compression, of gravity, and in the next the points between Lily and Harken seem to collapse in on themselves. The Guardian's power comes; Cecilia's rage comes. And then where the sorceress stands, the world is fire. As Lily's hair starts to flit upward, as debris rushes towards this central point, the compression is interrupted by a deafening roar as fire replaces air outright; the last visible sight of the sorceress is her calm demeanor finally twisting into naked fury.

 Hot enough to melt iron, hot enough to melt sin, and to call it a column is inadequate--inaccurate. . It only starts around Lily. She knows that Harken will dodge; she knows that Harken is too fast to pin down.

...So the flames spread in that same instant; she does not aim. The only sense that anything guides the sudden inferno at all is the fact that Lily's allies are given a chance to stand in space that is not fire, as the very cobblestones beneath begin to ignite.

And through the flames while they last:

"Just die already! DIE!"

DC: Lily Keil switches forms to Awakened - Omega Stage!
GS: Lily Keil has activated a Force Action!
GS: Seraph Ceimglace has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Persephone has lost 1 Combo!
DC: MISS! Seraph Ceimglace completely evades Knee Strike from Persephone!
GS: Lily Keil has spent 5 Combo on Gatling, including 4 on Gatling!
GS: Lily Keil has attacked Lady Harken with The House of Devils - Hell!
GS: Lily Keil takes 9 damage from Poison!
GS: Lily Keil has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Lydia Seren takes a glancing hit from Siegfried's Proton Beam for 213 hit points!
GS: Lydia Seren takes a glancing hit from Siegfried's Negative Rainbow for 115 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Agatha Pyrelight has posed.

 Agatha's black eyes narrow for a moment, and the grin on her face is utterly satisfied and in no way friendly. Indeed, it is the smile of someone who is seeing a glorious sight - and she raises the bottle to Lily's outburst of violence, before downing it all in one go.
 
 She doesn't need to say anything - because it's a glorious sight, for oh so many reasons. Throwing the bottle over one shoulder, the Pyre Witch dismisses her servants with a wave - they both bow, and step into the flickering shadows cast by the flames on the harbor. A moment later Agatha glides to her feet, and presses two fingers to her lips and blows a kiss Lily's direction.
 
 "Beautiful. This form suits you best, Lily dear."
 
 And with that she melts into the shadows as well, only her golden irises remaining before they too close and vanish into the darkness.

GS: Josephine Lovelace takes a solid hit from Persephone's IPCC-3927 for 108 hit points!
GS: Mighty! Statuses applied to Persephone!
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

Blade and fist clash and collide at the speed of thought. The warriors of the Metal Demon race are not mere soldiers, they are living weapons. Their bodies are killing tools, responding to the whims of the wills which drive them with deadly precision. Zed and Harken exemplify it in their deadly dance. At last it comes to an end; Zed roars and delivers one final, terrible blow...!

But what he finds there-- what the Doom Bringer bites into-- is not a body of living Hyadean metal.

No. He knows this sensation all too well. The feel of his blade biting into yielding flesh, the grind of metal into bone, the scent of blood...!

Zed's eyes widen. His heart drops into his gut. His mouth works in an attempt to put to words what he's found here, but no words come. Lady Harken seizes his wrists in the midst of his shock and he realizes...

               Have you ever died, Zed? Did he ever kill you?

"Harken," Zed murmurs, full of hesitant dread, "You're... human...?"

That's the last thought that passes through his mind before his own sword passes through his chest.

Zed... falls upon his blade and topples to the ground.

Quicksilver leaks from around the blade as the Metal Demon's life bleeds away from his body, his life seemingly severed by a single fatal stroke. This is the price of... Of being anything but a killing machine. Of being anything but a monster designed to kill. Of allowing his mind to wander from the purpose that it was born for.

This is what Berserk was trying to tell him all along. What Siegfried was trying to tell him.

Humans are terrifying. As terrifying as the monsters they fight, if not more. Becoming anything but a demon... Would mean death.

Yet...

What if things don't work out the way he wants?

That's death. That's death. He'll die, the planet will kill him if the war does not. That's the truth. That's the price of his betrayal.

And... yet...

Zed chokes back two lungs full of flowing quicksilver as he rolls to stare into the sky. What if you don't win she asked? What's the point?

Zed...

Sees a girl.

A strange, green-haired girl. Green's a nice hair color, he thinks. It's better than most. He sees her meet the darkness. It'll swallow her up, he thinks. She can't. She can't. But...

She does.
R
Starlight fills the sky. Human, he thinks. Is she human? Can he even be sure anymore?

No.

Does it matter?

And yet...

                        The stars still shine bright

A Guardian's light pours down. It blasts like a spotlight down on his broken body. He feels the pinprick agony of the planet's energy plucking at his skin, at his soul. He feels the gaze of the stars themselves hot on his very essence. What's the point...?

What if things don't work out... The way he wants...?

What does it matter...?

Zed.

Reaches up.

And rips the blade from his chest.

"What... Does it matter..." The Metal Demon snarls, staggering up to unsteady feet, scalding starlight pouring down on him from above. "If I don't win..." He lifts his sword high. Liquid metal floods up his legs, his chest, his outstretched arm, up across his dark blade. "Then..."

Doombringer shines. With its own strange starlight, it floods the earth just as Rigdobrite fills the sky. "At least I'll have TRIED!"

Power surges out from Zed's ruined body, the blood staining his blade red and silver ignite. And by a bit-- just by a little bit...

That unlucky star's light... grows a little less baleful.

"I don't know... I don't know if I'll survive. I don't know what's at the end of all this. Maybe I'm writing my own death warrant." Zed staggers forward, falling into an unfamiliar stance. "But... But let me ask you, Lady Harken. What use is a life if... If all you do is live somebody else's dream? Somebody else's will? That's what Berserk tried to do to me. Might not have... Might not have killed me, but... But he tried to do something worse...!"

"He tried... To kill my heart."

"To make me a monster like him!"

The light of the twin stars meets and mingles, though Zed's is so much smaller. So much fainter. It burns even still, beneath the gaze of the Guardian of the Stars. "But. All he did..." Zed chokes, "Is make me strong."

"Strong enough to choose..." He says, then suddenly surges forward-- every last ounce of strength pounds through his veins. "To pick a road of my own, no matter what might be waiting for me at the end of it!" Zed moves, faster than his body should be able to take given its current state. Faster. Still faster. He leaves a trail of flame and starlight in his wake, his blade trailing fire and blood alike...! "But one thing I know is that I won't make a miracle by just lying down and waiting for someone else to save me! Here and now, a Guardian is watching me!"

        "And all journeys must go the same way. ONE STEP AT A TIME!"

Zed swings. His blow is delivered, not as the shambling strike of a half-dead man, not as the wild flailing of Zed the Dark Hero. This is a technique that has not been seen amongst the living in centuries. A single fluid strike, flawed in its execution, and yet...

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        Ragnell, of course, knows that Siegfried is strong. That's the whole--well, not the whole reason, but a large part of it, that she challenged him in the first place. But she doesn't even get a chance to work her way up to her strongest artes; he *punches* right through the laser, deflecting a large portion of it towards a nearby ship that is probably going down to meet Davy Jones in short order, before answering attacks with another Negative Rainbow and then a cannon beam from right out of his chest.
        
        Ragnell answers the Negative Rainbow with the remainder of her Tempest Laser, which sears through some of the bolts to fire back at Siegfried--but the remaining bolts box her in, and then the ion cannon absolutely *destroys* not just her, not just the post on which she stands, but also a whole bunch of other things including probably part of the ocean. A massive wave erupts up around Ragnell's position, enveloping her; when it crashes back down, she is nowhere to be seen.
        
        Though if Ceimglace has the time and is so inclined, she might sense something of her fellow Seraph in the waters...

GS: Zed has attacked Lady Harken with Saint Arts - Empty Sky Form!
GS: Zed has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Zed has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Zed has completed his action.
GS: Zed has canceled their attack on Lady Harken.
GS: Zed has attacked Lady Harken with Saint Arts - Summer's Advance!
GS: Zed has completed his action.
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Cecilia Adlehyde's Material - Rage Hammer for 196 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Lily Keil's The House of Devils - Hell for 223 hit points!
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Zed's attack becomes clear!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Zed's Ultimate Attack of the Week for 215 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

        Shalune's intercom fires a couple of times in response to Lunata's comment, and does so in a manner that suggests she's trying to say something. Staccato bursts, though, and it becomes clear after a moment that Shalune's doing her best to do some quick field repairs on her headset in hopes of getting it working again. " lo?" her voice eventually crackles through, but tinny and far-off despite the golem nearby. "I hear t my mic's kind ted."

        "... it's okay," Shalune says back, and thanks to some luck it's right as her communications decide to work again, if only for a fleeting moment. "You don't ha fight alone Get clear cover you for a b "

        It isn't too hard to figure out the rest of Shalune's sentence, not with the way that Big Shal abruptly climbs upwards in its whirlwind of components, leaping up towards the shattered and temporary arm to hang back onto the Rephaim's side. Shalune's pink hair - now stuck to her face and completely soaked along with the rest of her - pokes out of the top of the canopy, her shot staff at her shoulder as she fires rather indiscriminately into the air at any Metal Dragons that choose to come close.

        She looks seriously tired, an energy bar bobbling in her mouth like a cigar as she chews on it, but she's obviously forcing herself to stay standing and lend her support to the Rephaim's retreat. She spares a glance towards the shadow moving through the water - but just bites at her lip hard enough to almost break the skin, and pulls her gaze forward again.

<Pose Tracker> Lady Harken has posed.

"The bigger picture." the Quarter Knight's eerie clarity stands in stark contrast to Cecilia's justified ire, and she repeats herself as if believing she had been misheard. "Your father is just one more fallen enemy combatant in a war we didn't start. But one we intend to finish." Harken's voice runs out of energy like halfway through her statement, curiously. "See, this is where rage starts to fail us. You misinterpret things. You act rashly."

Like embers taken right from the netherworld, the twisted energies burning in Harken's eyes persist despite her strength obviously fleeing her. Maybe one of those strengths doesn't play well with the other. "You summon all of this power, all of noble things to fend me off, but you really should have been keeping your eyes on Lord Siegfried this entire time."

"Don't you think?"

That's about when, in the background, a horrific shrieking explosion heralds the leader of the Quarter Knights unleashing one of the high-powered cannons built into his armor. Harken's face is briefly silhouetted black in the resulting glare from the detonation of Siegfried's assault. Another of the largest ships in the harbor is razed to a burning wreck.

This is about when Zed finds the strength to carry one for just--just a little longer, despite what should by all rights have been a truly fatal blow. His one-time mentor (maybe) and ever-present menace seems practically defenseless by comparison to her normal self. Jeez, but those cheeks are a little sunken--what's going on in the Photosphere with her lately? He also correctly surmises her physiology as not being Hyadean. "Ah, you noticed? Good answer, too." she says simply in response to why he can continue to struggle. It sounds rather sincere. "A little hackneyed, but then, you always were."

There's a beautiful contrast between the light of destruction raging over one shoulder, and the blinding light of Filgaia's guardians conjured over the other. The stars themselves bathe Hilton's protectors in empowering radiance, as Lydia very effectively observes that sometimes the most powerful thing to do isn't to step in and try to deck someone, but to reach out for the magical force multiplier. It's the kind of decision Harken can respect. Even as she shields herself from a sword-strike that by rights, she ought to have no business being able to follow. But then, catching a blade with your torso might not be that good an exchange. The Quarter Knight shakes her head briefly, "Now, you really ought to go, before you get caught in the crossfire." she rasps at the wayward Hyadean.

It's nothing like the maw of oblivion that yawns between Lily and her prey. Yet the storm of spatial dislocations is only the herald of the Sorceress's power, not the outcome. "You should've brought these things to bear from the get-go." Harken chides both Cecilia and Lily alike, eyeing their seemingly unlimited potential flaring to life as Hilton burns around them.

But all the world soon is aflame. "Or maybe you should never bring such things to bear," Harken mutters as she extends one hand. Azrael, still planted in the ground some ways away, awakens to its master's call and boomerangs into that shattered limb with a satisfying heft. "Be a damn shame to burn away something you cared about by accident."

The Quarter Knight furrows her brow at the open maw belonging to the beast of living lightning summoned by Cecilia's pleas. "Don't judge me like that." she scowls before a plume of pure energy eclipses her form from view. A thunderclap like nothing ever heard in nature rumbles the stones of the buildings still standing, rocks the remaining ships in their moorings, before a conflagration of what one might kindly call atomic fire sweeps through the beleaguered city in search of one dour scythe-wielding Demon.

When the destructive glare of the Guardian's wrath, and unknowable sorcery finally fades... of Harken, there is no trace. But that doesn't offer much solace, does it? If there's no body, there's no confirmation of their victory. Like a phantom of a shattered kingdom, indeed, she seems to return again... and again.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

But how much can Lydia survive? Lydia doesn't know. Does Lily? She might. Regardless, Lydia winks back at Ragnell, though she's breathing heavily. Channeling that much Rigdobrite took a lot out of her. It takes time to channel a summon for Lydia, she can't just throw them out like pokemon. Perhaps that is why the Guardians chose her, not so much for what any particular guardian she is close to, but her ability to reach out to all of them. Even Rigdobrite's light can't push through the light of Cecilia's rage. Some rage, Lydia thinks, that must be.

Lydia looks towards Zed once more. The jokester nobody ever takes seriously puts more eloquently what Lydia was trying to say. He speaks his truth and in that moment seems like the wisest man in the world. What happened to him? Is this still Zed? Yes it must be the same person. The little etches of who Zed is was always present, even in his quips. Perhaps that comic temperment was a defense mechanism, a way to protect himself from the Hyadean lifestyle. Or maybe Zed is just smart, kind enough to not throw his own wounds into the faces of others.

Lydia isn't sure, but she can give him a smile. It's not wide, it doesn't show off any fangs, it's just a simple closed lip smile. The kindness of Metal Demons has always shone for her, no matter how distance a star they may hail from.

And Lydia may be fighting for the Baskar, for her planet, even for a kind of bloody justice.

But most of all, Lydia fights for that bond, that helpless little dream of her mother's that has become a dream for her too. If Zed is such a fool that can embody such a virtue, couldn't any Metal Demon if they could just accept they are a child before the vastness of the universe?

Ragnell falls as well. That just leaves Ida. Ida 'Nearly Murdered You, Lydia' Everstead-Rey.

Lydia raises her tonfa wielding arm once more, looking straight at Lady Harken but then--then she is gone. They did it. Harken may not be dead, but nobody else will be hurt to--

--a negative rainbow punches out from her back and through her chest. Lydia hacks out her own glob of quicksilver, her head turning to look towards Siegfried as the beam further rips up and through her arm, lopping it off. She turns to face Siegfried, tears in her eyes from the pain. The machines don't stop the pain, they just keep her moving through it and don't let her die.

She doesn't get to move again before another beam slices around. Lydia leaps up this time, but the beam still cleaves off one of her feet and through the other leg, slicing it off near the hip. Lydia crashes to the floor, on her side.

But the machines still don't let her die. The wounds aren't healing quickly, they might not be healing at all, maybe they're having difficulty deciding where to start.

But Lydia just stares from the floor at the Metal Demon commander with a steely gaze. Her words intended to aggravate him made no dent before, but she says something else that might.

"Riesenlied and Noeline are my 'Mother'." Lydia says. "You threw them away. They're mine now. I won't let you have them ever again. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever." She says. "You're a great commander, but you're a shitty parent."

Silver spews from her mouth as she shudders along the floor. She can't even move like this.

"Now..." She whispers, barely a croak. "Rigdobrite."

The shafts of light shining down below shift their direction, aiming straight for the Metal Demon Commander, the leader of the Quarter Knights.

The heat intensifies as the brilliance of the stars comes crashing down in a giant beam of intense destructive light.

GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Siegfried with One Billion Trillion Stars!
GS: Lydia Seren has completed her action.
GS: Siegfried guards a hit from Lydia Seren's One Billion Trillion Stars for 105 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Ida hits the ground, and sags--but only for a moment. Mentally, she's all but written the docks off as a loss. The Gears are breaking off--the one with the water magic seems to have fled--but Ida can smell smoke, feel the heat from Lily cutting loose with decisive magical fury. She doesn't know where Captain Grey is. Ida knows the Hellion has a good sense of discretion, if not self-preservation, but still--

        She answers Siegfried's screams without words. Steel gleams in her eyes. Blood trickles down her face and chest. She steps to the side, raising empty, open palms as she starts to circle him. The Quarter Knight reacts with speed and fury. Ida's eyes gleam, and that brilliant, sun-like glow engulfs her palms once more. She steps to the side, catches the first beam moments before it strikes her, turns it away to boil water instead of flesh. She intercepts the other, deftly twists her hand, sends it arcing up into the sky, away from the city. The third she guides up into the sky as well. Any one of them could've killed her, instantly. She sees Lydia out of the corner of her eye, mutilated, and her heart lurches against her chest. The terror is there, but she doesn't stifle it, doesn't try to smother it. She simply allows it to exist, and to do its job.

        The cannon fires. Ida flows from defense to offense, driving one superheated, pain-encased fist towards the ball of exotic particles. Chi explodes off of her hand, even as the sleeves of her shirt start to smolder. The deadly sphere glances off. Ida sees Ragnell disappear in a wash of sea-foam.

        Ida's hands are burning. The chi flows back into the rest of her, and the burning gives way to a sort of numbness--but Ida doesn't let herself slow down. She reaches behind her, sliding Devil's Due free from its holster. It feels right in her grip, and the way the restored ARM rests between her fingers reassures her.

        Ida sucks in a breath. She'd said no more words, but--

        "If you knew nothing of me," Ida says, "then how did you ever expect to defeat me?" She's not sure whether or not she's hoping it will come true if she says it with enough conviction. She pulls the trigger.

        A bloom of brilliant Dragonfire billows from the barrel of the ARM, turning all the colors of flame as it races towards Siegfried. Ida's chi joins with it, guides it, imbues it with a power beyond that granted by machinery alone.

<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

        "I do my best," Josie says simply, punctuating the statement with a shrug. "You ever been out west? Keeping cool's essential, if you want to live to see next week," she adds, with a brief but no-less-saucy wink.
        As if they weren't having a fight amidst a city under siege.

        "So you know Ragnell, do you? Well, if you see her before I do -- give her my best, would you?" This is to Ceimglace. "Maybe we should chat sometime when we're not--"

        The jingling cuts her off.

        And Persephone's pointed statement, along with what comes after, drives the nail in that line of conversation.

        'Do you really have the time?'

        An absolute roar issues forth from the docks themselves. Light beams upwards in a series of scything cuts for the sky.
        Nor does it end there. Ships are set alight, one dull boom proceeding another in a series of detonations following the light's clawing rake.

        And then the fires start in earnest from another source, down in the docks.

        Do they really have the time?

        That ARM of Persephone's rises and Josie's attention immediately zeros in upon it. Her eyes widen, a rim of white to her dark irises.
        Persephone unloads.

        In passing, she can see the toll of the recoil.
        In passing. As she springs forth, diving for cover that can't really take the shot and deflect it -- the roadside stall simply explodes in a roar of splinters, and Josie, twisting to minimize her profile, still takes a slam of a shot along her left side. Red -- brief and bright -- streaks the air.

        It sends her reeling back, slamming against a nearby building as she takes a slow breath and cups her right hand against the wound.
        Now she's gained unwanted insight into the firepower of that ARM...

        "Shit," Josie says, eloquently. Still holding her bad hand to her side, she takes one stumbling step forward.

        She's not good at stopping, but she's still able to read the writing on the wall.

        So she holsters her ARM, and straightens as best she's able, staring Persephone down.

        "Another time, another place, maybe? I... whew." She breathes, a little sharply. "Wouldn't mind dancing with you again!"
        She manages a brief but winning smile.
        Before, with a gesture and a snap of her fingers, she summons forth another blazing bead of light.

        "Ceimglace! Now's a good time to--"

        She detonates the sphere again, all the radiance she can must squeezed out of the spell's effect.

        Josie only goes for her lost rifle before turning to duck down the alleyway of a nearby building and back around through a sidestreet. There's no use fighting to the bitter end--

        Not when the whole town's about to bite it, or nearly enough.
        Not when their reason for fighting's been set aflame before her very eyes.
        Not when the victory would leave them only pickings for the Metal Demons and Beasts, still swarming the city.

        Survival is knowing when to run.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has spent 5 Combo on Poison and Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Siegfried with Dragon's Breath!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
GS: Josephine Lovelace has activated a Force Action!
GS: Josephine Lovelace has attacked Persephone with Light Flare!
GS: Josephine Lovelace has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ceimglace has posed.

         Persephone speaks. Ceimglace listens. She listens very well, even. It's what she's done for a very long time, even. A good mage always looks around her: and a good bard listens even while speaking, and even in her dreams. After all: A bard should be able to know everything... or learn what she needs to know to keep moving.
 
         She doesn't get too close - she doesn't want to be there, but there she is. There Persephone is, too, the Veruni diving in towards her. Ceimglace moves to the side in a quick trio of steps, the dress she's wearing swishing behind her, but it's close. It's too close for her. Ceimglace, unless she likes you, would prefer you to stay five feet away... speaking of away, Ceimglace suddenly lifts a hand to her mouth, blinking furiously. "What in the-- gah."
 
         She staggers slightly, clearing her throat.
 
         "Okay, I need to get out of here, and I'd rather not... have you following me. Miss Josie..." Josie gets a double thumbs up. Ceimglace finds the nearest way out of the building, and starts edging towards it.
 
         Along the way, ice starts forming over the floor, in the shape of a giant snowflake. It is not very quick, and in fact, is more of a danger of doing something non-lethal. The shape spreads, slowly taking over the building as the ice builds up in the in the center. She tilts her head, once she finds the doorway.
 
         "And let it all go - like snow in the wind."
 
         The ice shatters. Ceimglace bails as quick as she can, following the sensation she got earlier. There's probably a lot more collapsed on the ground, but... Ceimglace is looking for one she knows. Yes, moving towards the wave. That seems reasonable to what she's feeling. It doesn't take that much to take a Seraph down, but they do tend to be standing longer than most. A long lifetime of shenanigans will do that to a person. It also doesn't take long for her to get to the water. "Where, where where--" A pause, and then she scrabbles at something.
 
         "Ragnell?!"

GS: Seraph Ceimglace has attacked Persephone with Scattered Sapphire!
GS: Seraph Ceimglace has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Ceimglace has completed her action.
GS: COUNTER! Persephone strikes at Josephine Lovelace with a counter attack!
GS: Persephone takes a glancing hit from Josephine Lovelace's Light Flare for 8 hit points!
GS: Slow! Statuses applied to Persephone!
GS: Josephine Lovelace has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Persephone has lost 1 Combo!
DC: MISS! Josephine Lovelace completely evades Counter Attack from Persephone!
GS: Persephone takes a solid hit from Seraph Ceimglace's Scattered Sapphire for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Slow! Statuses applied to Persephone!
GS: Siegfried guards a hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Dragon's Breath for 112 hit points!
GS: Toxin! Statuses applied to Siegfried!
GS: Siegfried enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Siegfried has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Siegfried has posed.

Siegfried lands, after the Proton Beam was fired, and is kneeling. He looks up at Lydia; his eyes widen, at the mention of Riesenlied and Noeline. But, he stays silent; to say more would be to risk comprising his own feelings. The light from Rigdobrite slams into the Quarter Knight. It drives him downward.

He looks up at Ida, then. He spits quicksilver at her feet.

"Easily," he says. "You haven't won. You could never kill me, you damned, worthless beast."

Ida fires -- and the blast throws him off the dock; armor shatters and cracks, and a rain of chips of quicksilver-coated blue shards slam down into the ruined remains of the dock. Siegfried flies backward; after a moment, he winks away in a burst of light, teleported back to the Photosphere. Two ships next to where he stood are in the process of sinking; the dock is ruined. Many other ships, however, remain -- and other docks, too.

It isn't the perfect victory he hoped for. It isn't, he considers, even a victory. He is scowling, when he reappears in the Photosphere.

<Pose Tracker> Persephone has posed.

"I've been to many of your human towns. There's a series on them. Infact, there's an interesting follow up story... but you'll just have to find out."

Persephone will not note that some of them are being looked at, specifically, to be co-opted by the Veruni that are interested, for some reason by them. She just delivers.

The impact of the IPCC Veruni specialized pistol is much like a magnum, in stopping power, shaped in a form that one of the ARM specialists of the Veruni Sentinels could appreciate. The Veruni watches, a blur, as Josephine once more pulls herself forwards, reels backwards as she dives for cover at the roadside stall. The explosion identifies it was a flimsy bit of cover, but Persephone can't make it out immediately.

Not, especially, as her intention was to knee the Seraph - though as she moves to the side, once, then twice afterwards, Persephone isn't able to make out where she went to. The dress swishing about, with her poor optical state, acts like camoflauge, the heel lashing out after to catch Ceimglace but being unable to - Persephone stops lunging at air for a moment, standing within the burning, crackling harbor town, as she tries to find anything that stands out, that moves.

Vision slowly is returning. Ceimglace begins to leave, the Veruni pistol snatched up once more, leveled towards the back of Ceimglace as she moves to leave. "Oh, if that is the case, you should have informed me earlier." Persephone deadpans, "It's not a choice, or preference, you have when you put yourself in the way." Yet the floor begins to ice over, and Josephine calls out. The sphere detonates, just as Persephone wheels around. The IPCC Veruni pistol is leveled towards Josephine as the light blazes across her vision again, blinding her for a third time in the relatively brief combat that they have found themselves in. The shots ring through the air, and Persephone moves to give chase, splintered wood and holes punched through and into stronger materials to lead her on.

Yet she doesn't get her footing. The ground underneath her is slick, and the ice around her causes the heels to lose traction. The Sentinel, blind to it all, crashes to the ground and onto her back, able to catch herself from a complete impact, though also causing her final shots to go wide as she stepped forwards.

Able to pick herself up only as the ice spell finally ends, Persephone would show her anger in a very clear way.

Another gout of flame joins the rest of the fire, ether sorcery sending a plume outwards from where she tries to follow, a building burning through, ashes swept away, as she walks directly through the path. Fortunately - neither Jospehine or Ceimglace are there. "Tch...Well, I never intended to get involved anyhow, did I? At least I have the earlier footage." The rest is likely to have suffered sever exposure from light.

Though it may show her the actual fight, without the constant blinding that she had underwent.

Unlike the others, Persephone would vanish from plain sight in the fire, the suit sparking about her slightly as she became just another heat illusion in the fire licked town, a mirage in the desert - which she would rendevouz in.

Two POI's to be introduced to the Veruni populace, threats to be identified.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Ida lowers the gun. It takes effort to keep her hand from shaking as the adrenaline wears off--she's exhausted everything she has, pushed herself harder than she's gone in months. Everything hurts. Her hands feel like they've been twisted into solid knots of pain. There is something very familiar in Siegfried's voice. She remembers half-jumping, half-flowing off a bridge in Nota, enraged, defeated. Furious that no matter how hard she hit it, the world refused to stop being cruel. Is it that much different when someone truly has responsibility for an entire people, rather than merely feeling like it?

        "How long," Ida says, "before you realize that you can't keep fighting the world alone, forever?"

        And then he's gone. Ida all but collapses onto the cobblestones. Fresh blood starts to flow from her wounds now that the chi buttressing them is gone. She'll get up, though, and soon.

<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Cecilia's eyes widen and her jaw drops at the light of Siegfried's blast, ripping the masts apart. One of the ships...

But...

"...what manner of fool are you?" Cecilia finally whispers, though rather than calm, her eyes burn with a fury. Whatever calm Lydia is trying to cast upon her, Harken seems to be doing a magnificent job of tapdancing all over her buttons. "And if I'd been focused on Siegfried, you'd have merrily slaughtered them! Do you think me a child!? A fool who doesn't understand how, how, how THINGS work!?"

"I'LL STOP JUDGING YOU THE MOMENT YOU STOP DEMANDING IT!!" Cecilia screams against the light of Noua Shax's annihilating cannonade. "Don't MOCK MY INTELLIGENCE while you MURDER you WRETCHED CREATURE! YOUR MURDERS ARE NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY!"

Harken's gone when the light fades....and Cecilia stands there, shaking.

"Maybe I was right at the start," she spits, spinning on her heels. "Maybe the only good thing a demon can do is..."

Her eyes land on Zed. Struggling. Injured terribly. ...

She reaches into her crest bag, fist dipping deeply within to a pocket she hasn't touched in a long time. But it's there, where she left it, still bound to the stone.

She clutches it, knowing it as soon as her fingers wrap around it. White Magic. Muse and Muse.

Healing.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Speaking of ships that remain, there is a pile of thoroughly stabbed Metal Beasts lying on the dock near the fishing boat Talise and Yarobeleedt were fighting on earlier. Talise has been standing at the foot of the ramp, fighting them off while Benedict fires crossbow bolts into them from the ship. But with the Quarter Knights mostly on the way out, the fighting's finally abated and the pressure relieved.

Talise kicks aside a hunk of severed metal and exhales heavily. She sinks to one knee, gingerly touching the leg Yaro stabbed her in earlier. "Damn, though," she mutters.

Then she looks back towards the boat. It's enough that she can smile with relief. Some of the ships sunk. But at least she and Benedict could protect this one, among the other ships saved by the larger group of Drifters.

<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

        Lucadia's power is under duress. The seas of Filgaia grow more lifeless by the day, the waters ever murkier. Mother's awakening continues to hasten Filgaia's rot as she taxes the Guardians to the very last of their will.
        There is an upswell of power that can be felt, out in the waters somewhere without rhyme or reason to the perceptive, the chosen, or merely those just gazing out that way...
        There is a big slug thing that is suddenly ejected from the water with a 'hex' with no clear cause to discern... and again, and again, and again until they are expelled onto some other landmass a ways away.
        Stretched thin as she is, even Lucadia at her lowest would not suffer something that foul within their domain.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        Golden light flickers in the choppy waters when Ceimglace arrives at... what's left of the docks, following the sense of her fellow Seraph. Seraphim don't need to breathe, so they can't really drown, but it's an unpleasant feeling all the same. She calls and reaches out, and the golden light brightens--
        
        And then Ragnell bursts out of the water with a dramatic and highly unnecessary GAAAASP, then sprawls face-down on the edge of dry-ish land at Ceimglace's feet. She could probably use some pulling out to get the rest of her up and out.
        
        "Maaaan, outlasted by Ida. That's just embarrassing," she mumbles, even as she peeks out at the battle with one eye. All the same, she is kind of exploded, as evidenced by all the burns over her materialized clothes, so she won't be rejoining it anytime soon.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia lets out a short ragged breath even as her body curls inward.

She shudders around herself. Now that she's no longer fighting, the pain is intensifying. Now that she no longer has to keep up a brave face, she is no longer trying. Rigdobrite finally vanishes from the sky, giving one last look down at Lydia. Was it he who led her down this path, or is it something else? A nightmare mistaken for a dream?

Sobbing big sloppy tears...

...Lydia makes herself as small as possible

No more words for Cecilia, no more words for anyone.


<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

        "Lunata. You willingly disobeyed orders and deployed without permission."
        "... yes."
        "You inflicted significant collateral damage and provided valuable intel to the enemy as to your capabilities."
        "... yes."
        "There will be punishment. I can't help it -- you understand. Yes?"
        "... ... yes."

        ~*~

        "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO--"

        Three technicians on the Yggdrasil do a happy ending jump freeze frame as a nearby caretaker laughs heartily and shoves a cart full of grotesque meal-ready-to-eats into a nearby bin.

        "Lunata's on kitchen duty for a week! We gonna EAT, girls and boys!"

        happy... end?

<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

The enemy is gone; the enemies are gone. The flames around Lily disappear... at least, those she was actively keeping in place. Fire licks the ground all around her; the stone beneath where she floats is fused into a useless lump of metal. ...And Lily continues to hang there in place, staring with her strange technicolor eye, breathng heavily.

"...Dog," she says with some effort, looking towards the small creature. "...Go to Josie. I'll..."

She looks around at the devastation... and what isn't gone, too. The ships remaining. "I'll--be back."

With some effort, Lily Keil turns away from all of it--and quickly becomes a blur, a speck of light and dark power that flies back inland too quickly.

<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

Strange, white-blue flame lingers briefly along the Doom Bringer before guttering and finally dying. Zed drops to a knee, the tip of his blade digging deep into what remains of a splintered pier, supporting what his legs are no longer able to. He doesn't need to watch as Harken disappears. The fact that he can no longer feel the danger she represents is proof enough. Without the metalloid counterpart to adrenaline surging through his veins, Zed suddenly feels every bit of the pain shooting through his nerves. He... He overdid it today, didn't he? And...

And that girl, that blonde woman-- Cecilia Adlehyde. Princess of the kingdom that they destroyed twice over. She's looking at him with so much rage in her eyes. So much... Hatred.

This is it, then. Would he survive her fury? Maybe it's fine if he doesn't. That's just how the cycle goes, isn't it? Zed struggles to his feet to face it with dignity. One last go into the breach. And then--

And then, the spell that Cecilia throws his way... Heals him.

Sorcery is a strange thing. Metal Demons sure as hell have no real idea how to use it, but... It can still have quite an effect-- both good and bad. This time, that healing crest works its magic well. Silver blood creeps across his clothes and into ruptured veins and arteries. Metal flesh knits back together, sealing over with a layer of skin that you could never be blamed for mistaking as human.

Zed stares at the Shaman with confused eyes, and then gives her an awkward, lopsided grin. "Eheheh. T-thanks, miss. B-but..."

Zed hobbles- he's still limping, still hurting- over to where that green-haired girl is curled up on the ground and... still leaking. With a frown, he leans down and lifts her up into his arms. "...Miss Sorceress, you think you could... do what you can for her? I'll take her back home to her moms, after."

<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

Also, man, Zed sure is glad he was temporarily on the floor and half-dead when Lily decided to nuke Lady Harken.

He didn't even have to try to stay still!!

What luck!!!

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ceimglace has posed.

         "Hi, Rag-a-muffin."
 
         Ceimglace's voice is shaking, but delightfully, delightfully so. She kneels down, and, hands around what she can reach of Ragnell easily, pulls her up onto the land, grinning at her like a bloody loon. However, she pauses right in the middle of trying to grab her to look over at Ida with a little frown. "Whoever these people are, though, they're not." She says, simply. "It may seem like they are, but they're not. One person isn't enough for this. I was fighting someone else. So were a lot of other people, I bet." She finishes hauling Ragnell up.
 
         "The forever, though... that's what I'm wondering. Most humans, and a lot of others these days... you have such interesting life spans... They're short." Ceimglace laughs. It's a sad noise.
 
         Then, probably taking Ragnell by some surprise, she promptly kisses Ragnell on her cheeks a couple of times. "Hey, don't die on me. I just met you!"

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        "Oh hey, Ceim."
        
        Ragnell is quite content to let the Ice Seraph wrap her arms around her and pull her up; she smiles back at her, too, tickled pink by how happy Ceimglace seems to be to see her. She drapes herself on the ground, barely managing to sit up, once she's out--then looks at Ceim when she remarks on... well, the entire battle.
        
        "Welcome to Filgaia," she says simply. Then: "Who were you fightin'?" The comment on short lifespans gets a faint chuckle--but it's got a melancholy ring to it, too.
        
        Then Ceimglace kisses her cheek a bunch of times, prompting Ragnell to, yes, blink rapidly in surprise. Then she grins broadly and, if Ceim lets her, traces her gloved fingertips up her jawline. "Oh, don't worry 'bout me," she purrs, winking. "I ain't dyin' just yet, or anytime soon. We'll have *plenty* of time to get to know one another. <3"
        
        And from there, well...
        
        That's no doubt a story best told another day. Privately.

<Pose Tracker> Ines Colina has posed.

        Near the docks, the bodies are piling up. Those who can still breathe without aid are left floating on their backs, where someone can pull them up. Those who can't are thrown onto the docks, where someone able bodied can do something about it. And there are a few dockhands returning to help.

        Eventually, Ines finally surfaces, pulling herself back onto the docks. She looks over her shoulder at the bodies still floating out in the water, and shakes her head. "I got all I could." She says, to no one in particular, but looking down at one of the dockhands. "When you can you're gonna want a boat for the others. And somewhere you can put them to rest." No point in sugar coating it.

        With that, she starts to walk away, whistling for her horse, unless someone stops her. She's not much use here anymore.

<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

The light fades from her casting. Something quiet sits in Cecilia's stomach, an inert lump. Still, she looks Zed in the eye, something neutral and quiet on her face as she watches the way he comes back together. "...I'd rather protect the world you wanted," she says quietly, dully. Like the words just fell out, unprocessed for conversation.

He directs her over to the other member of their band - Lily just shot off into the air, and Cecilia doesn't currently have the bandwidth to worry about that. The Healing crest graph feels strange in her hand. She hasn't touched it much since the day Lucia's followers called her into their midst, to save her from a death she had no power against. It never felt right. That situation hadn't even turned out badly, but the miss was so narrow that the Graph had felt wrong in her hands ever since. Still...

....still, there's a girl crying and bleeding here, whatever substance that blood may be. Cecilia kneels down, silently taking Lydia in. The girl'd been shouting at her all day. Cecilia hadn't particularly taken much of it in. Harken had been working her nerves too well. Nonetheless, the White Magic glyphs start drawing themselves in the air, the Crest Graph floating upward on thin streamers of Muse light to slot itself in its place on the diagram.

She's not sure she expects a response. Either might be fine. She's aching, herself, even if she works hard to make sure most of the damage she takes hits her shields rather than her body.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ceimglace has posed.

         "A Veruni. I didn't quite catch her name, but I wasn't alone. I was fighting her - she called herself a Sentinel - alongside some other lovely lady. A miss Josie. Lovelace, if I remember the last name correctly. We were all pretty decent health, though, when I bailed."
 
         Ragnell mentions having plenty of time, and Ceim's face twitches at the touch of a glove.
 
         "Ragnell." She says, very amused. "If you're gonna tease me in the middle of a ruined port after the first fight I've had in a very long time, then you best be prepared for the consequences."
 
         An arch look, a raised eyebrow, and then Ceimglace starts fussing about injuries.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

It looks like metal demon blood. It isn't, but it looks like it. It's almost comical that a shaman would have blood like that.

Lydia blinks her eyes open when she feels healing magic pushing into her. She sees that it's coming from Cecilia, and she looks right at her. The princess.

The chest wound knits itself shut. The actual amputations will take longer. Lydia has been aggravated by Cecilia all day, and has been ever since their last conversation quite frankly.

But it hurts a little less so she says, "Thank you," with a quiet sincerity. She uses her remaining arm to push herself into a seated position, spitting out more quicksilver, but she seems more stable--emotionally and otherwise.

"Not always fun being chosen," She mutters to herself.

Dog trots over, hops up onto her, and starts licking her face repeatedly.

Lydia shifts her weight to scritch behind their ears.

"I'd like that, Zed." She says.

<Pose Tracker> Lady Harken has posed.

Some time later, in the Photosphere. . .

A scarlet bolt of lightning strikes the safely-designated teleportation receiver pad in the command wing of the grounded ship. Unlike the one that struck Hilton, it doesn't tear a radio tower down with it, or slice the nearby technicians to ribbons. The operator breathes a silent sigh of relief as the red haze fades into the shape of the second Quarter Knight to take the field.

Lady Harken drops Azrael where she teleports in and, surprisingly adroit for one so damaged, strolls from the pad with her hair fading in colour from blood-red to a kind of muted, matted maroon. Failure, again. Siegfried won't be happy.

But more importantly than that...

"Where the -hell- was Boomerang?" Harken asks the air, causing a nearby hooded technician to mistake the question for himself. He recoils and runs away, fearing death. "This was exactly his kind of gig. Pah."

Life goes on...