2020-02-19: Passionate Rhythm

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  • Log: Passionate Rhythm
  • Cast: Yue Rohay, Ambrosius, Marivel Armitage, Clarissa Arwin, Eleanor Klein, Ashley Winchester, Avril Vent Fleur, Acacia Saitani, Kaguya
  • Where: Valeria Chateau - Ground Floor
  • Date: February 19, 2020
  • Summary: A small detachment of Veruni agents come to test Valeria Chateau's foremost defences -- and the skill of its Awkward Rush and Mission Savers... ARMS! The Veruni agents come escorting a flying, ancient Gear of undoubtedly abominable might and excruciating weaponry the likes which have never been seen this age -- an unstoppable behemoth and a flying juggernaut. Mm hmm. Nnnnot a half-melted pile of trash stuck in Bird Mode with zero weapons at all! Nope!

=====================<* Valeria Chateau - Ground Floor *>=====================

The grand, beautiful estate that is the Valeria Chateau rests at the top of a high cliff overlooking much of Meria Boule's central region, full of red rock into which the white walls of the Chateau seem to fit perfectly. It is ornate, lovely stone with much embellishment, and if anything is perhaps larger than one would expect of the seemingly middling noble rank of the Valeria family, and the lack of significant holdings around the Estate itself.

There's no sense of lack within, however; it holds ancient statuary, extraordinary tapestries, and as of more recently is known as the very home base of ARMS, Lord Irving Valeria's personal project and, it's said, private army. There is a great deal of history here; the knowledgeable suggest that this may well be the oldest structure in all Meria Boule. The staff welcome travellers warmly... but visitors are kept strictly out of more sensitive areas. This, apparently, includes the main courtyard...

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBxWlVGd9zE
DC: Yue Rohay switches forms to LZ-00 Aura - Disappointing Mode!
DC: Avril Vent Fleur switches forms to Skyfallen Gear Skadi!
DC: You switch forms to Blue Scutum Minerva!
DC: Ambrosius switches forms to Blue Scutum Minerva!
DC: Eleanor Klein switches forms to Three of Hearts!
DC: Yue Rohay switches forms to LZ-00 Aura - Disappointing Mode!
DC: Clarissa Arwin switches forms to Guts Dozer!
DC: Seraph Nimue switches forms to Divine Vessel - Sundowner!
DC: Clarissa Arwin switches forms to Dandelion Shot Clarissa!
DC: Clarissa Arwin switches forms to Dandelion Shot Clarissa!
<Pose Tracker> Yue Rohay has posed.

        A grand estate resting upon the top of Meria Boule's high cliffs, the white walls of Valeria Chateau stand as both an ornate, opulent statement as much as it is a cornerstone of pride for the Valeria family...

        ... and of course, there is no shortage of what the castle means as the base of operations for ARMS as well -- whether as a comfortable home that they've played board games in, as a tactical stronghold of great import, or any number of other reasons.

        The Veruni did not come unannounced, today.

        First of all, Yue's already delivered the news to Marivel -- and if that wasn't enough, the Chateau itself has received ample warning that a Veruni expeditionary force will be coming to their parameters to challenge their defences.

        Strange, perhaps, for the Veruni. Strategically curious, and tactically providing no advantage at all.

        The spearhead of said expeditionary force comes exactly on the dot--

        A blue and white flying Gear resembling a plane... if said plane wasn't also busted up and half-melted, sporting significant damage from what feels like multiple catastrophes. It's got legs sticking out of one end serving as thrusters, a red shield poking out serving as a nose cone, and yellow 'talons' to complete the Bird Mode image but...


        One can't help but think: 'That's it??'

        "Valeria Chateau," Yue speaks softly through the comms. "This is Yue Rohay, Solitary Confinement Prisoner CR-S01 of the Radical Veruni Expeditionary Forces. We will be commencing our probe of your defences."

        And with that, Yue presses a white button Kaguya supplied for her--

        And the entire area EXPLODES into incandescence as divine wrath yawns mightily from the dark heavens, ashen-white lightning tearing through clouds and consuming the entire Chateau and evaporating it into not even so much a pillar of salt.


        Wait, no, that looks impressive, but... the Chateau is still standing afterwards. Nothing is damaged. No one is hurt. Was that just... special effects?

        Yue's finger moves off the button, which reads:

GS: Yue Rohay has attacked the Valeria Chateau with The Greatest White Magic -- Poly!
GS: There is no effect.
DC: Acacia Saitani switches forms to LZ-01 Nephele!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Blinding white light envelops the Chateau. And when it clears, two individuals stand before it. One of them is a tall man in a tattered red poncho. The other, an equally tall woman dressed in blue with silver armor and a horned helmet that conceals her eyes. She looks bit taller by comparison, however, as she floats somewhat off the ground.

This was a test, of course - a probe of the Chateau's defenses. But, Ambrosius didn't see why he couldn't use this test to his own advantage. Minerva had yet to be tested against the Drifters. This would be a good opportunity to see how she fared in direct combat - as well as gather data on how they fought.

Besides - not everyone had access to a Gear capable of reaching Yue's flying craft, or felt like piloting one. It would be rude to leave anyone out.

<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Marivel has pretty much the ARMS forces about what is about to happen and with consultation with House Valeria, has by appearances tightened security protocols and has been VERY secretive about mysterious purposes and designs going on within the Chateau. Rumors are whispered and have circulated about a NEW WEAPON that Marivel has prepared for the battle as one of ARMS' resident Armsmeisters.

Strange noises can be heard throughout the chateau throughout the night, sounds of flame and heavy metal clanging reverberating throughout the complex in preparation for what will surely be a challenging battle against a Veruni legend of infamy.

And then the day comes. A half melted and beat up bird(?)plane(??) approaches the Chateau and declares its DARK INTENT.

And now.... The hidden hangar underneath the Household groundds slides open w ith a thick rumble. A large one-eyed gear of might and power and googly eyes and tiny limbs slowly rises into open air.

Instead of a head drill, the Qubeley has a giant tote hat on its head and EXTENDED ARMS have been attached to its side.

"Hm hm hm...! You think GOD'S PALTRY LIGHT can defeat the might of we who have bargained our souls with THE DEVIL for IMMORTALITY AND POWER? His reach does not extend here, fu fu fu! FU FU FU! You will regret underestimating us... As will your people? As you lay defeated, blame yourself or God! I care not which!"

And with that Qubely extends one of its extendo limbs and aims it for the Birdplane. The palm opens up into a DEADLY BARREL and Marivel shouts, "THIS IS IT! FACE THE POWER OF MY YUEPOCALPYSE CANNON! ECLAIRPALYPSE BEAM!!"

A large flurry of BAKED GOODS are launched out of Qubely's hand cannon and launched towards Yue's gear... only to kind of rapidly lose distance and tumble to the ground.

"Er.... APORT!!" Marivel adds, vanishing a slew of them and trying to drop them inside of Yue's cockpit. "Yes??? JUST AS PLANNED???"

GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Yue Rohay with Yuepocalypse Cannon ECLAIR BEAM!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: Yue Rohay takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Yuepocalypse Cannon ECLAIR BEAM for 0 hit points!
GS: Poison! applied to Yue Rohay!
<Pose Tracker> Clarissa Arwin has posed.

In recent weeks, Clarissa and Felius have been spending a bit more time at the Chateau. Guts-Dozer is parked somewhere out of the way, and Felius is below, dealing with some routine maintenance. That's left Clarissa.

She'd found herself a comfortable chair and a good book - an adventure novel about a girl and her dog. Tucked up in a chair, she leafs through the pages, her smile warm.

Until word comes. She looks up towards the window with a blink - and then sets her book quickly to the side, pausing only to mark it. A dash, and she rushes for the door--

There is a blinding light.

It clears, gradually. Someone else is standing tbefore the Chateau, this time framed by the entryway.

It says something about Clarissa that she did not fully turn away from the light, merely covering her eyes with one forearm. As the light melts away, the girl is revealed peering past the cuff of her glove, one eye narrowed against the glow but focused forward. Civilian clothing and overall fluffy demeanor or not, she was composed enough to keep her eyes on the field and not let herself become incapacitated.

It becomes evident enough to Clarissa that not only is she outnumbered, it's in the saddest way possible. No one's here to back her up. She presses her lips together.

Then she takes a step forward, spreads her arms and raises her chin with simple defiance. "I don't know what it is you want with us," she declares, "but if you think you're gonna get through me, you're wrong!"

Big talk from a lone Clarissa against professional fighters.

GS: Clarissa Arwin has attacked Ambrosius with It Is Of Course Clari And Clari Only!
GS: Clarissa Arwin has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Eleanor Klein has posed.

The warning they received was more than sufficient time to prepare and fuel up the salvaged Gear which is now unrecognizeable from its previous junk state. Here and now, a Gear that's all oval shapes in warm oranges, trimmed in yellows and gold responds to Eleanor Klein's command. ...Or, specifically, to the controls, because she's in the cockpit, which has been made quite comfortable actually as those go. It is pretty, it is smooth, and it is...

...Extremely well-armed. There are guns in its 'gauntlets', reinforcement about its 'fists', and quite a large amount of guns, including a large one mounted on its shoulder, currently in 'down' position on the Gear's back. It is bright. It is shiny! And it is kind of the opposite of Yue's Gear. But it is not immediately visible; no, Eleanor has a great seat for viewing the brilliant light that comes, blinking in surprise at the ferocity of the apparent force within it though... she doesn't... sense much magic...

Oh. Oh, it's...

"It's incredible that your Gear was able to pull that off in its current condition! Aa, it's kind of cute, so very sad..."

The Three of Hearts steps out from the cover in the trees it was using, stomping around and forward in all its glory. "But you've certainly gotten our attention! I must inform you, however..."

"...That this threat is one that I must answer, without holding back!" Pause. "And you know, the staff went to all the trouble of loading up my weapons. Here goes <3!"

Eleanor lifts her Gear's fist and fires!! ...Around Yue's Gear. To the left. To the right. She's feinting!!

GS: Eleanor Klein has attacked Yue Rohay with Magician's Trick!
GS: Eleanor Klein has completed her action.
GS: Yue Rohay takes a solid hit from Eleanor Klein's Magician's Trick for 212 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Ambrosius takes a solid hit from Clarissa Arwin's It Is Of Course Clari And Clari Only for 0 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ashley Winchester has posed.

Ashley has actually not spent too much time at the Chateau recently! He's been out on 'patrol duty.' In Meria Boule. Which, ultimately, has meant spending a lot of time at the Irington Bakery, doing Bakery Things and definitely not flirting with Marina Irington.

No, really.

She really wishes Ashley would actually flirt, and not just kind of sort of flirt by virtue of being approximately as dense as a neutron star and exactly as charming as a freshly baked cinnamon roll.

(Nevermind the fact that Marivel is, presumably, in charge of the patrol routes)

Regardless! He is here today! Partly because he had heard about some kind of awful Veruni assault... But mostly because the Irington Bakery had received a comission to craft a frankly unsettling amount of eclairs. Like, honestly, what are they going to do with all those eclairs? Has Irving finally cracked and gone mad under the weight of the world and all of his piles of infinite money? Did Kamui accidentally copy an Eclair Devourer weapon!? Are they throwing a formal function and just need pastries to fill the dessert table!?!?

No, none of these.

And so as Marivel tries and fails to blast a Gear out of the sky with an eclair avalanche, it's probably of no surprise to absolutely anybody that SOMEONE charges out of the Chateau's front door armed with nothing but a rolling pin and unstoppable rage.

And also a great big bayonet.

"MY ECLAIRS!" Ashley Winchester shouts as he storms the field, a veritable hurricane of violence and desperation as he tries to snatch as many of the delicious baked goods out of the air before they are tainted by Filgaia's poisoned earth. "MARIVEL ARMITAGE, I SWEAR TO GRANAS YOU'RE GOING TO PAY FOR THIS!"

She can start by refunding Ashley for the rolling pin he just chucked at her head.

GS: Ashley Winchester has attacked Marivel Armitage with Glaze of Destruction!
GS: Hyper expired!
GS: Ashley Winchester has completed his action.
GS: Ashley Winchester has canceled their attack on Marivel Armitage.
GS: Ashley Winchester has attacked Marivel Armitage with Glaze of Destruction!
GS: Ashley Winchester has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

        There on the horizon stands a Gear, its pale coloration briefly bleached by the pyrotechnic display in the sky.

        Within the cockpit, Avril takes a breath, her eyes widening as she takes in the sight via the Skadi's cameras. Is she too late--
        She never notices the fact that her heartrate, in spite of the spike of fear that washes over her, never so much as elevates. Her body is calm, in defiance of her mind racing.

        It had only been a feeling that had seen her out in the Gear at all today. But of course, she has long since learned to listen to her feelings. Her body knows what she has long forgotten.

        And then she'd seen it, at a distance. The familiar form of Yue's Gear.

        And its advance towards a location she had heard of in Meria but had visited not. An ugly and dark little thought had squirmed its way into her mind, and she could not let it go.

        What in the world was... going on?

        And then she'd heard the announcement from the Gear as she had neared.
        And then--

        She tilts her head in some mild confusion. "...Oh?"

        Her reply comes over all local and public channels.

        "Did nothing at all happen?"

        A long pause.

        "...It was rather like fireworks..."

        Precisely the sort of commentary that Yue wants to hear from the Ice Queen, for certain.

        "...Yue. That is you in there, is it not? I know now what you intend or how far you plan to proceed today, but this ends here."

        She draws the Gear's blade, more massive slab of metal than a proper sword, and levels it in a shoulder-to-ankle angled guard. ...As wide as the sword is, it's very nearly like enough to a shield as anything else.

        "I am your opponent, Yue. Not them."

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Iris Guard!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
GS: Avril Vent Fleur takes a solid hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Iris Guard for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield! applied to Avril Vent Fleur!
GS: Cover! applied to Avril Vent Fleur!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur assumes the Stoic stance!
<Pose Tracker> Clarissa Arwin has posed.

Clarissa stares in disbelief as Ashley comes stomping out, hucking a rolling pin.

"I did not get enough sleep for this," she sighs.

<Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

        As ever, Acacia is still not exactly sure how she ended up in this situation. Hell, she's not even sure which bit of this situation she should be most unsure about.

        After everything that's happened in the last few weeks, it's difficult to tell what exactly her relationship with Yue is, but as far as Acacia's concerned there is a relationship there. But the situation that Yue is stuck in has clouded matters, and the her aloof reaction to it isn't helping either... and as much as Acacia can understand and empathize with how hard it must be to toe her captor's line, she's starting to feel like maybe it's time to be blunt.

        At the first sight of the Veruni force converging on the mansion, and again when Yue speaks calmly over the radio, her hands tighten around the control sticks of the Nephele. Yeah, that's another thing to be unsure about. She'd been prepared to assume that 'enemy who deliberately gives you a ride to a secret hangar and offers you free use of the sister version of her Gear, which is much better equipped and not a shitty pile of wreckage, and then mopes about it literally as you take off before telling you when she's going to attack your base' was something that only happened in dime novels, and yet here they are, facing each other down.

        Maybe she should just kidnap Minder?? she wonders in the back of her mind, as she trusts in sheer adrenaline and the capabilities of the Nephele by responding to the first wink of light as she guns the Gear forwards and to one side. She's pretty sure that's the lynchpin of all of this - but given what she knows of Veruni technology, whoever's pulling Yue's strings might just be able to connect to the suit and do something drastic remotely. And taking her out of it... well, as much as she'd like to, she's pretty sure Yue would truly hate her for that.

        It's only then that she realizes the light isn't actually doing anything, and that's kind of something to be unsure about too. A sulky, teenage thought of 'what, you don't think we can take it' drifts through her head, followed closely afterwards by a flash of worry. "... you're not gonna convince them your heart's in this with tricks like that," she mutters to herself in the privacy of her cockpit before sucking in a deep and uncertain breath.

        But what she's most unsure about - the decision that will haunt her for days to come - comes as she sweeps the Nephele forwards, visibly the twin of Yue's mech in style but in white and red, placing herself alongside Eleanor at the vanguard of the Chateau's defence. Her mouth hinges open, out of sheer petulance.

        "Yeah, well? Probe this, Yue!"

        * * * TWO DAYS LATER, 3AM * * *

        The reporter jolts awake, her eyes wide - then she rolls over under her blanket, hands covering her face as she curls into a foetal ball and emits a low, constant groan.

GS: Acacia Saitani has attacked Yue Rohay with Sheer Second-hand Embarrassment!
GS: Acacia Saitani has completed her action.
GS: Yue Rohay takes a solid hit from Acacia Saitani's Sheer Second-hand Embarrassment for 70 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"Oh no!" Marivel shouts. "It's the Great Destroyer.... LORD BAKER!!"

<Pose Tracker> Yue Rohay has posed.

        The Quebeley emerges. It has a tote hat and extended arms. "I shall do neither, Marivel," Yue answers rather firmly. Her eyes narrow for a moment as she declares:

        "I shall blame my Queen."

        But before she can even do anything, the Quebeley's hand cannon fires and... well, the baked goods don't quite make it a baker's dozen meters, but fortunately the magic of APORT causes some freshly baked eclairs to appear inside of her cockpit.

        "Mari..." she whispers privately, lowering her head. "You must understand, do you not? The kind of awful, trite roles I have to play... why do you still try to reach me even so?"

        A radiant warning echoes as she hears Eleanor's voice through the shared radio--

        "Ah... the Three of Hearts," Yue answers. "It is looking well from when we salvaged it in the Thaaaaaaaamesss--"

        The Three of Hearts' fist fires; the Aura swerves with a tight bank to the left, but one of the bullets catches it on its wing and it wobbles somewhat precariously, and it begins losing altitude.

        "Y-you repaired it remarkably quickly," Yue answers to Eleanor.

        She looks to Ambrosius, glancing towards Clarissa and Ashley as they move to engage him and Minerva. "Do not risk yourself, my friend. There may be an order... yet this not one to stake our lives on."

        The tension kind of gets chopped straight in half when the Nephele -- rather visibly a Gear of more ancient make and perhaps with some recognition to the Veruni present -- not so much does anything physical as--

        Yeah? Probe this, Yue!

        The Aura bonks into a nearby cliff for the slightest of moments at the sheer petulance of such a statement!

        "C-Choose your words better, Acacia!" Yue complains.

        Things get way more awkward because a moment later the Skadi arrives and, uh, well, please won't someone Save Yue from the Queen??

        "... Avril," she murmurs, trying to suppress the shock from her voice as her pupils narrow. She tries to control herself as her pulse quickens, and her shackled hands begin to shake as her command typing gets stiffer.

        "... I have no quarrel with you today," she responds with practiced guardedness. "My order only exists between ARMS and I. There is no meaning to fighting you today."

        Her eyes reflect a stream of rapidly-executing code as the underside of the flying Gear pops open and--

        (BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzShcydgb-8 )


        A little legion of machines erupt and parachute out of the Aura. Each and every single one of them resemble miniature Big Shals, no more than one feet in height, and you might have seen some in the Crimson Castle's Monster Party too.

        "Shal! Shal!"

        The little munchines (like a munchkin machine, you see) try to make landings ontop of the Three of Hearts, the Nephele and the Skadi and the Chateau itself... and...


        They don't do much but laze around. One of them folds a paper airplane. Another might try to scribble something on their paint jobs. The ones around the Chateau even do dastardly things like try to sweep the floor!! "Shal! Shal!"

        A Mini Shal also lands ontop of the Quebeley's tote hat. It looks down sadly at it, finger in its (non-existent) mouth.

GS: Yue Rohay has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with DIY Pop Knight!
GS: Yue Rohay has attacked Acacia Saitani with DIY Shock Soldier!
GS: Yue Rohay has attacked Eleanor Klein with DIY Shock Soldier!
GS: Yue Rohay has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Yue Rohay takes 21 damage from Poison!
GS: Yue Rohay has completed her action.
GS: Avril Vent Fleur critically Guards a hit from Yue Rohay's DIY Pop Knight for 33 hit points!
GS: Eleanor Klein critically Guards a hit from Yue Rohay's DIY Shock Soldier for 34 hit points!
GS: Acacia Saitani takes a solid hit from Yue Rohay's DIY Shock Soldier for 150 hit points!
GS: Slow! applied to Acacia Saitani!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Where is the other Clari, one might ask? Well, mysteriously, she was sent off on another mission before things started going down...

Outside, Ambrosius takes a moment to study Clarissa as she emerges from the Chateau. While she does not at first have the look of a combatant... there's a defiant determination in her stance and her eyes.

"...You are a spirited one, to not quail in the face of the Veruni." Ambrosius comments. He opens his mouth to say something else... but then pauses as a hangar opens up and fires a pastry beam at Yue's Gear at Marivel's command? And then some blue-haired fellow comes out and chucks a rolling pin at her head??

Ambrosius's usual stoic demeanor is broken for a brief moment as he stares at everything occuring before him. He's quiet for a moment.

"...You have my sympathy." He says, in genuine apology as he looks back at Clarissa as she registers a similar disbelief at what just happened. "Regardless... let us see how far that spirit will take you. Minerva?"

At his word, Minerva - who has remained stock-still throughout all of this - rushes forward with a crescent kick toward Clarissa. The blades on her boots are currently retracted - it'll hurt, but not as much as it would otherwise.

Nearby, another Gear appears. One much like Yue's own, in many ways. ...Curious, that. As for Yue herself...

"It is alright. I gave my word that I would join you in this endeavor. You will not need to face this matter alone." Ambrosius replies, speaking through his communicator. "But, do not worry. I shall be careful, and will retreat should it become necessary."

GS: Ambrosius has attacked Clarissa Arwin with Crescent Kick!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
GS: Clarissa Arwin takes a solid hit from Ambrosius's Crescent Kick for 114 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Clarissa Arwin has posed.

It's OK. You get the other Clari today!

Clarissa can only set her jaw at Ambrosius's observation. In truth, she's scared at the prospect of fighting a Veruni soldier alone - particularly since Ashley seems to be making an ass of himself in the background. She keeps her arms spread and her heels planted, determined to at least take this seriously, even if no one else will.

Then Minerva kicks her in the chest.

There's a thump as Clarissa hits the ground, skidding for a couple of feet. She rolls, wincing, hand pressed to her chest to favour the point where Minerva's heel hit her. As she begins to rise, it's slow and focused, a breath rushing slowly out through her nose. She pauses a moment, then speaks.

Her tone's quiet but curious - but not angry. "Why are you even doing this? We've barely had anything to do with you until now, and you gave us warning. I hope this isn't some esoteric test; I don't really think you have the right to do that. But if you insist, then I think it's not really fair that I'm outnumbered by you, is it?"

With a sweep of her gloves, Clarissa dusts off the front of her sweater-dress. "Will you excuse me for just a second?" she asks Ambrosius politely.

Then she turns and pulls out a megaphone.


GS: Clarissa Arwin has attacked Clarissa Arwin with We Can Do It Together!
GS: Clarissa Arwin has attacked Marivel Armitage with We Can Do It Together!
GS: Clarissa Arwin has attacked Ashley Winchester with We Can Do It Together!
GS: Clarissa Arwin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Clarissa Arwin has completed her action.
GS: Clarissa Arwin heals Clarissa Arwin! She gains 125 temporary hit points!
GS: Hyper! applied to Clarissa Arwin!
GS: Clarissa Arwin heals Ashley Winchester! He gains 125 temporary hit points!
GS: Hyper! applied to Ashley Winchester!
<Pose Tracker> Eleanor Klein has posed.

"Oh, my," Eleanor answers Acacia's challenge to Yue. But when Yue complains about word choice, Eleanor is done. There is a brief moment of giggling before Eleanor switches off her radio. If anyone happens to have video, though... It silences the laughter that takes hold for the next entirely too long period after she finishes her attack and would in theory be maneuvering. ...Then it lasts a little longer.

She pauses, as she notices Avril's Gear, and Avril herself, and 'hmms'. Radio goes back on, "I thank you for the thought, but I can hardly back down now. Why not together?"

"And thank you!" Eleanor says pleasantly to Yue. "I'm terribly happy with it. There are buttons I've barely even used yet!" Pause. "What on..." The little Shals all approach. With parachutes. They land, and... well there's a lot of nice surfaces for them to hang out. Eleanor does not try to get them off. "They're adorable! Wait, is that one--" Eleanor frowns, and pulls a Crest, washing that particular Shal off of her Gear's arm with a blast of water. She takes the paint job quite seriously.

"Though there is the matter of this assault. I think we'll need to designate someone in particular to properly punish her for this invasion. Such temerity will require expert discipline, I think."

"And when I think of who would be the most thorough in this matter, I can only think of our dear Acacia!"

The Three of Hearts finishes its approach, and swings out--to mostly just brush a hand across the Gear-plane's surface instead of going for any terrible damage.

GS: Eleanor Klein has attacked Yue Rohay with Empress Rush!
GS: Eleanor Klein has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Eleanor Klein has completed her action.
GS: Yue Rohay takes a solid hit from Eleanor Klein's Empress Rush for 206 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

        Acacia is kind of slumped in her cockpit, a small cloud that might be her soul leaking from her mouth and off into the distance as her mind loops over what she just blurted out. It takes her a long moment to shake that feeling away, and when she does it's only due to her own brand of tenacity rather than anything else. "You-- you don't get to tell me to choose my words better!" she blurts, and winces when it still sounds more like a sulky teenager than anything else, pausing to pull herself together.

        "... I mean, you'd have to start choosing any words, first," she says a moment later, more solemn. "I donno what you're facing, or what you're thinking. All I can do is stand here and promise to try to stop you, even though I'm pretty sure that's exactly what you want for all the wrong reasons. Even Minder's worried about you, and doesn't know what the heck she should be doing." That last part is a bit of an understatement, but even in the midst of her sulk she's smart enough to realize that there are other Veruni around, and maybe it would not be wise to give too much away.

        ... which, part of her registers with a wince, is a bit hypocritical given what she just said. Maybe there's something about Gear cockpits that turn people stupid.

        Well, if she's going to be a hypocrite, she might as well roll with it all the way. That sort of flimsy justification allows her to keep her radio firmly shut off even when Eleanor of all people teases her for what she said, the reporter definitely feeling like she's just been viciously savaged by a puppy and not trusting herself to make things infinitely worse with a careless reply.

        She's not a smart enough pilot to consider non-obvious things as threats, which is why when the Shals land she seems to get an extra-large helping of them, weighing down her Gear as they congregate on the Nephele's shoulders. For a moment, it seems like they've joined together in a circle, holding hands as they chime out an electronic song - perhaps it's a wish advice for its pilot, to put down her arms.

        Instead they kind of get scattered like bowling pins as Acacia grits her teeth and shoves her controls forward, the Gear launching forwards into a run and then rising up in a jumping blow. There is not anything like any finesse involved, so much as just a raw attempt to pluck Yue's plane out of the sky.

GS: Acacia Saitani has attacked Yue Rohay with Rushed Spike!
GS: Acacia Saitani has gained 3 Combo!
GS: Acacia Saitani has completed her action.
GS: Yue Rohay takes a glancing hit from Acacia Saitani's Rushed Spike for 133 hit points!
GS: FP up!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"You ask why I still reach for your hand? Surely you know why, Yue...!" Marivel shouts. "I extend my hand to you, because you...you extended your hand to mine! Tis that simple, old friend! No matter what trite awfulness you must perform, I will always be offering my hand to you! I refuse to slap your hand away like the ACTUAL CHILD embarrassed by emotional sincerity I was when we first met. There are no defenses in Valeria Chateau that will prevent your love from reaching me---OW!"

The OW comes from when Ashley knocks Marivel off of Qubeley by throwing a rolling pin into her head. She falls about halfway before POOFING into a bat. "Nyeeh! Nyeeeh! You can't defeat me that easily LORD BAKER! NYEH!!"

Clarissa totally calls them both out. "...."

A big comical anime sweatdrop appears on the side of Marivel's head.

"Um...just a sec...! I still love you! One second!! Qubely deploy your pancake shield next! Be right back!"

Qubely raises a powerful arm into the air and a pancake shield oozes out of the other arm and potects itself???

And then offers the pancake to the tiny robot friends??

Marivel POUFS back into the vampire form we all know and love once more near Clarissa.

"Hi what's up?? What's going on? I had to do a thing. Sorry for bothering."

She looks to Ambrosius for a moment aand then studies Clarissa for a moment, and then looks to Ambrosius. "Excuse me, Ambrosius, but did you have your friend there kick my friend? I am concerned that you are being a bad influence for Minerva, sending them out to kick friends and such. That's called bullying and we don't stand for it here in ARMS. We have a very robust anti-bullying stance here."

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

        Within the cockpit, Avril pauses for a long moment, regarding not just the Aura... but the Gear that looks like it could be its twin. Another Veruni--
        No. No, it becomes quite plain when its pilot replies that this is no fellow Veruni. But if she is using a Veruni Gear, then...?
        Some facts may have to wait their turn.

        This is not her fight, Yue says. This is not their fight.
        Not yet.

        "So they have ordered this," Avril echoes, and were it not for the fact that she is within the cockpit, one might be able to see the darkening expression she wears. "I see. ...Then this makes this my responsibility."

        It's then that Eleanor pipes up over the channel and thanks her for her intrusion, but also says that...

        "...I understand. In that case, let us do this together. After all, I am the one who is the intruder." She pauses. "As much as she is."

        It's difficult to see at a distance, but she catches sight of a familiarly tall and lanky figure nearer to the Chateau grounds. Perhaps, unless she is gravely mistaken, the correct phrase might be 'as much as they are'.

        One of the little tiny Shals bounces right off of the enormous Gear blade and procedes to slide down a ways to the bottom as if it were merely an enormous slide.


        Avril stares at it for a long moment from within the cockpit, in silence.
        It begins to apply marker graffiti to the tip of the blade.

        "It looks like Big Shal."

        She's silent again yet.

        "...It is rater cute," says the Queen of the Veruni, before her attention returns to the Aura.

        Before she lifts her blade.

        ("Waa!" says the tiny Shal on the ground)

        And rushes onwards in an all-out bladefirst charge for the Aura, using the enormous blade as more battering ram than cutting edge.

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Yue Rohay with Floral Impact!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
GS: Yue Rohay takes a solid hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Floral Impact for 242 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ashley Winchester has posed.

Marivel Armitage must pay for her crimes against the good gods of the bakery. She must pay dearly.

But... that... can wait........

Ashley's eye twitches visibly. Somehow he almost looks more offended about this than the whole 'shoved a demon inside my soul' thing? Or maybe this is just him putting into practice what that One Guy advIseD him to do.

But, Clarissa's clarion call has a damn good point. ARMS' resident bluenette turns his wrath away from the funny vamp that so direly deserves it and onto the Veruni and his golem. "This is a really bad day," Ashley warns as he racks a canister into his ARM. "I'm gonna have to ask you to leave the premises. It's not safe to be outdoors during a..."

Ashley stares forlornly at the remaining eclairs.

"...Lightning storm..."

He fires. The canister bursts into a crackling web of electromagnetic energy.

GS: Ashley Winchester has attacked Ambrosius with Canister - Electromagnetic Net!
GS: Ashley Winchester has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ashley Winchester has completed his action.
GS: Ambrosius guards a hit from Ashley Winchester's Canister - Electromagnetic Net for 67 hit points!
GS: Jam! applied to Ambrosius!
GS: Acacia Saitani has attacked Yue Rohay with Sheer Second-hand Embarrassment!
GS: Acacia Saitani has completed her action.
GS: Acacia Saitani has canceled their attack on Yue Rohay.
<Pose Tracker> Yue Rohay has posed.

        "... thank you, Ambrosius, my friend," Yue answers very softly to her friend. "I shall see you after the mission." She doesn't really want to distract him when he's got his own... peculiar fight going on, judging at the way that guy just threw the rolling pin at the Quebeley and now that girl is taking out a megaphone...


        But Marivel tells her that no matter what awful things she has to do, she will have her hand out for her-- unlike the child she was when she first met.

        "You have grown so much more than I, Marivel," Yue answers. "You are resplendent. Your family and friends bolster you so much..."

        She doesn't get much time to ruminate on it, as one of the Mini-Shals gets washed off where it was trying to draw a big smilie face :). It bobbles onto the ground and gets a band-aid where it hit its head. Bonk! It'll be OK.

        What's less OK is--


        The Three of Hearts' approach as Yue finds her lift to be much less than gainly; there's a strike across its shield and she rocks in the cockpit and struggles to keep the pile of eclairs in the aport steady. But--

        "W-whyever would you--" Yue responds, a little flabbergasted. "Why Acacia?"

        Which draws her attention exactly back to Acacia at the time the Nepehele has actually charged forwards for a run at the time Yue is distracted enough to not be able to cleanly swerve away despite her best piloting efforts. The Nephele takes hold--

        "I do want you to stop me. Stop me with all your might, Acacia." In a way, she winds up answering that question she posed to Eleanor, because Yue's definitely not distracted thinking about how needy that sounded. "Let me see what you have learnt with that machine!"

        She tears away with a wrenching motion that no plane should be able to handle, shearing off one solid armor plating as she does so--

        And the Skadi approaches.

        She can't evade that blade.


        She somehow does, the Aura's flying body juking immediately at an angle no airfoil should be able to manuever like; there's a haphazard breath as she stares towards routines that just executed.

        Where the blade missed, however, it finds its prize as one of the side vernier engines erupts in a small column of fire and blows out; shreds of old machinery further molt away from the ailing Gear.

        It really should not be flying.

        "Begone already, Avril! Lest I force you to do so!"

        There's a loose *WHIRR* of a sound as one of the talons on the underside of the Aura launch on a wire, spinning around on a lazy circle as it seeks to strike the Skadi and cause enough of a problem by tearing something out from it to distract Avril and buy her time--

        At the same time, the remains of what might once be a proud and mighty buster cannon hisses on out towards the Three of Hearts, with Yue perhaps regarding Eleanor to be a way more dangerous opponent right now. The beam is... less than stellar, and perhaps it's better described as a... has-beam.

        But the Nephele is not forgotten, because the Shal sitting on its shoulder wriggles its way in and playfully attempts to plug itself into the Nephele and should it find purchase--


        A blue screen.

                                 Don't worry :)
                   Your files are right where you left them.
                     Installing 13 out of 796 Updates...)

        "I should have updated it before I gave it to her," Yue mumbles privately to herself.

GS: Yue Rohay has attacked Acacia Saitani with Homemade Logic Bomb!
GS: Yue Rohay has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Unhyper Hammer!
GS: Yue Rohay spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Yue Rohay has attacked Eleanor Klein with Has-Beam Rifle!
GS: Yue Rohay has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Yue Rohay takes 30 damage from Poison!
GS: Yue Rohay has completed her action.
GS: Eleanor Klein takes a glancing hit from Yue Rohay's Has-Beam Rifle for 101 hit points!
GS: Jam and Corrode! applied to Eleanor Klein!
GS: FP up!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

"Indeed." Ambrosius replies back to Yue. "But do not neglect to take care of yourself, as well."

Minerva steps back to give Clarissa room as she begins to rise, and as she asks that question. Why are they doing this? A valid question.

"I doubt the answer would satisfy you, then." Ambrosius replies, with a shake of his head. "As my friend said, we are probing your defenses. So, yes, it is a test - or, perhaps, an experiment would be more accurate. We are to judge your capabilities on our own terms."

She asks if he'll excuse her.

"By all means." He replies with a polite nod, as she calls for back-up.

And back-up arrives, in the form of Marivel and Ashley! ...The former of whom arrives with a stern lecture. Ambrosius weathers it stoically.

"I did." He confirms with a nod. "I am glad to hear you maintain an ethical stance on the subject of bullying. However, this is a combat situation. You will have to excuse me."

Speaking of combat situations, Ashley.

"I must decline." Ambrosius replies, as Ashley fires off a canister that bursts into a web of electromagnetic energy. Ambrosius himself manages to evade it, while it coats Minerva. Electricity courses over her form. She looks down at a hand, flexing it experimentally.

"Responsiveness down." She states. While there's no outward sign of damage, it does seem to have had some effect - though she seems otherwise insulated against its effects.

Her gaze fixates on Ashley. She rushes him quickly, lashing out with a dangerous snap kick that'll really hurt if it connects. Still no blades yet, though, but that might be a cold comfort with what happens next.

With a gesture of her hands, a cold air starts to flow out from Minerva's position. It settles over Clarissa and Marivel, a chilling air that that saps at one's energy, and might rapidly exhaust them should they not be able to shake it off quickly. That might be less of a concern for Marivel, but there's more of a risk of frosting over, which might be just as bad.

GS: Ambrosius has attacked Ashley Winchester with Cold Snap!
GS: Ambrosius spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Clarissa Arwin with Enervation!
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Marivel Armitage with Enervation!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
GS: Clarissa Arwin completely evades a hit from Ambrosius's Enervation!
GS: Clarissa Arwin's Force Evade activates!
GS: Marivel Armitage critically Guards a hit from Ashley Winchester's Glaze of Destruction for 17 hit points!
GS: Clarissa Arwin heals Marivel Armitage! She gains 125 temporary hit points!
GS: Hyper! applied to Marivel Armitage!
GS: Marivel Armitage takes a glancing hit from Ambrosius's Enervation for 0 hit points!
GS: Disrupt and Poison! applied to Marivel Armitage!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur takes a solid hit from Yue Rohay's Unhyper Hammer for 207 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Clarissa Arwin has posed.

Clarissa can only blush when Marivel calls back to her. "It's OK, Marivel, I love you too!" calls the world's most honest human being.

Dropping her megaphone, Clarissa begins to move to one side of the group, making room for Ashley to hurl himelf into the breach. The young woman widens her eyes when the young man opens fire on Minerva and her Veruni handler.

"I honestly question why you see fit to treat us like test subjects," she offers Ambrosius, her tone a little milder. "Surely we're people too. I don't know what your mission is, but--"

Cold air gushes out from Minerva's position, and Clarissa widens her eyes and dashes back immediately. She leaps, the foot parts she borrowed from Kamui pulsing with a subtle burst of thrust to carry her a little higher and a little farther. By the time the air frosts and chills, Clarissa's long out of it, sprinting to the side to keep ahead of the wintry breath.

"Marivel, I definitely agree!" she calls out as she whips Strahl Gewehr out of her belt pouch. "Bullying is only for the jerkiest of jerks and I'm definitely not going to stand for it! And certainly not from people who want to treat us like guinea pigs!" She dives and rolls, tumbling across the turf and coming up on one knee with her ARM in both hands.

"So take this!" she calls out as she opens fire, sending a burst of brilliant light streaking towards Ambrosius and Minerva!

GS: Clarissa Arwin enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Clarissa Arwin has attacked Ambrosius with Strahl Gewehr!
GS: Clarissa Arwin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Clarissa Arwin has completed her action.
GS: Ambrosius critically Guards a hit from Clarissa Arwin's Strahl Gewehr for 26 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Eleanor Klein has posed.

Eleanor feels a little bad for teasing so hard while Acacia is being sincere and serious. She does! It's just that she stops feeling so bad when Yue seems not to get it even then, and she spends a moment sighing. "Well, I'll support you," Eleanor tells Acacia. And...

To Avril, "Oh, don't think of yourself as an intruder! Consider yourself a guest!" Eleanor, too, spots what's going on on the ground, but she can't hear all of it, which is for the best.

"Don't worry, everyone!" the speakers on Eleanor's Gear boom out to the ground battle. "We'll take care of the Gear from here!"

"...And as for why Acacia in particular, you know, I'm sure I can't imagine," Eleanor replies. But she watches Avril's strike hit home after her own and--

"You are good with that, aren't you? I confess I'm a little new at piloting..."

The mighty(?) buster cannon fires out at Eleanor!! And in point of fact--while Eleanor can move out of the way of taking a direct hit to vital systems, it sure does slow her down in the moment. Not so ineffective...

"I did say I'd support you," she radios over to Acacia. "Here you go!" Eleanor pilots the Three of Hearts to put the Aura between her and Acacia's Gear, and then pops up the glass over a particular button. "Targeting... Let's see!"

"This one should show to best advantage!" She presses the button, and a whole set of projectiles erupts from the shoulders of her Gear, not as damaging as her earlier salvos but designed to temporarily overwhelm defensive systems. "Hm hm~"

...She may be having too much fun piloting a Gear. Entirely too much.

GS: Eleanor Klein has attacked Yue Rohay with Prisoner's Complaint!
GS: Eleanor Klein takes 49 damage from Corrode!
GS: Eleanor Klein has completed her action.
GS: Yue Rohay takes a glancing hit from Eleanor Klein's Prisoner's Complaint for 64 hit points!
GS: Shieldbreak! applied to Yue Rohay!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"Heh," Marivel says. "Perhaps you ought to allow your Minder to bolster you, lest she start to see herself as your ball and chain. Do not rush your choices on my account."

She seems to have recovered from Ashley's CRUEL ASSAULT but she smiles sheepishly at Ashley and bonks herself lightly on the head and sticks her tongue to the side. She is also a lover of BAKED GOODS but she seems to have intended to deliver them more ...er...directly to Yue here.

Ambrosius unleashes something that is actually uncomfortable for Marivel--chilling air that saps her strength. Frost slowly starts to form across her body. Not exactly pleasant.

Her gaze glancs towards Minerva.

And then she exhales slowly, shaking her head from side to side. "Oh very well."

She snaps her finger once and a magical seal crackles around Minerva (and Ambrosius for that matter), shining brightly into the air before vanishing--though one gets the sensation it's still there.

"You seek to test us, but perhaps this is a test for you." Marivel says.

She smiles at Clarissa for a moment before adding, "So in the spirit I have to ask you... Social Studies Questions!"

She draws out some notecards. "What is district where Kislev sends its prisoners where they compete in gear battles for the eventual reward of being released from captivity?"

GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Ambrosius with Magic Seal!
GS: Marivel Armitage takes 29 damage from Poison!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: Ambrosius takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Magic Seal for 0 hit points!
GS: Mute! applied to Ambrosius!
GS: Acacia Saitani takes a solid hit from Yue Rohay's Homemade Logic Bomb for 0 hit points!
GS: Break, Disrupt, and Slow! applied to Acacia Saitani!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

        "A guest? I understand. I have read that it is important to comport oneself appropriately when one is a guest. Be assured that I shall be on my very best behavior."

        ...At times it is hard to tell if Avril is joking around or if she's being completely serious.

        As for why Acacia in particular...

        Avril, too, has been given to wonder on the matter. Even if all she has to go on are the Gears' resemblence to one another.

        "In truth, I have not been piloting for very long myself," Avril admits. "Though if you are a beginner as well, you seem to possess an intuition about these things. I have heard that some people are called 'naturals'..."

        "Begone already, Avril!"

        The Aura comes in fast and close -- even when Avril attempts to urge her machine to right itself, to get out of the way of the incoming Gear, she's not nearly enough in time. Some part of the Aura hooks into where the armored plating cannot cover all the wiring and rips and tears--

        Avril, within, lets out a shout of dismay; several of the refurbished Aveh Gear's rudimentary screens report locomotor relay errors. In her hands the Gear's blade slips perilously, the hilt nearly escaping her grasp altogether.

        The Gear's hands tighten about it at the last moment. Within the cockpit, Avril -- flying on intuition and intuition alone -- opens the panel under the controls and grabs a series of wires.
        It is neither the finest of rerouting jobs nor likely the most long-lasting, but it should be enough, for now.

        Lights flashing in the Gear's 'eyes', the Skadi suddenly lifts the sword. The oversized blade is angled up towards the heavens as the Skadi rights itself and stands tall beneath the heavens, right by Eleanor's own Gear's side.

        The sword shines triumphantly. ...Weird doodles near to the sword's tip and all.

GS: Avril Vent Fleur spends 1 Combo on Inspire!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Eleanor Klein with Lotus Stance!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
GS: Ashley Winchester guards a hit from Ambrosius's Cold Snap for 89 hit points!
GS: Cripple and Poison! applied to Ashley Winchester!
<Pose Tracker> Ashley Winchester has posed.

Ashley hasn't quite forgiven you yet, Marivel Armitage. That cartoonishly adorable little head-knock won't save you from the head knocking to come! "Your punishment," Ashley decrees, "Is to create with your own two hands the very same number of Eclairs that you destroyed."




He has no opportunity to execute upon his judgment, however. There's a Golem kicking him RIGHT IN THE ABS! It's... somewhat softer than really should be expected from an elite member of a paramilitary organization. Has Ashley's time in Meria-Boule given Marina the time she needed to STUFF HIM FULL OF SWEETS?


maybe marina had nothing to do with it

Either way, Ashley reels back, the air utterly punted out of his lungs. "Khhhhuh-- that's gonna... Leave a mark. Gotta clear the air...!" The golem and her master seem to favor frigid assaults. Ashley mounts a counteroffensive, loading another canister into his rifle. This time, the contents are not nearly as innocent as a bunch of electicity.

This time... The contents are WAR CRIMES.

IE Napalm.

GS: Ashley Winchester spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Ashley Winchester has attacked Ambrosius with Canister - Incendiary Round!
GS: Ashley Winchester has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ashley Winchester takes 25 damage from Poison!
GS: Ashley Winchester has completed his action.
GS: Ambrosius guards a hit from Ashley Winchester's Canister - Incendiary Round for 79 hit points!
GS: Poison! applied to Ambrosius!
<Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

        "That's not what I mean and you know it!" Acacia can't help but push, perhaps relying a little on her nature as an investigator to better bull through Eleanor's teasing. She'd intended to get purchase on the Aura, but the moment that Yue starts to thrust away is the moment that she lets go. She's well aware of how ready Yue is to tear her own machine apart, heedless of any damage to it or herself. It would offer a flash of insight, were she not already sure of the next thing she's going to say anyway.

        "It's not just that you want me to stop you. It's almost like you want me to--" she's not really sure of how to word it, though, not in a way that she'd be willing to blurt out in the midst of a pitched battle. She's not even comfortable thinking about it, which does make her wonder what exactly underpins her promise to fight. Drawing in a breath, she watches as the Skadi - who she's fairly aware is one of the source's of Yue's recent turmoil - looks a lot more ready to fight than she feels.

        A moment's breath, and she puffs out her cheeks. "Okay--" she declares as she finally finds her fighting sense, only for her mech to give way from under her, jolting down towards a kneeling position on the ground for a heart-lurching moment as a low *bwoonk* noise signals a temporary shutdown of her machine. At least she's pretty certain that Yue isn't going to attack her while she's helpless, but it's still a very nostalgic sort of panic - the feeling of being a rabbit caught in the headlights.

        So when the Nephele powers back on, she's finding her teeth clenched and her jaw set. "You're sitting there in a pile of junk that's falling apart. Hell, you're doing more damage to yourself than us. I'm not the kind of person who can fire on someone I give a damn about without thinking about that," she growls quietly. "

        If there's one thing that Acacia has been practicing, it's maneuvering. Climbing up a mountain in a Gear is a pretty good crash course for that kind of thing, so the speed in which she springs back up from the ground from kneeling is almost reminiscent of a runner rising from the blocks. Eleanor's machine has gotten ahead of her - but she sweeps into its slipstream, the Nephele almost skating around the other Gear and heading for Yue.

        "Fine, then! If that's what you want!" What she hasn't got the hang of is which button corresponds to which weapon - so in a moment's pique, she just mashes her hand against the controls. A pair of light cannons fire from the machine's head, thankfully on- or at least near-target; at the same time, the Nephele suddenly emits an sudden wash of disruptive power that buffets the Aura, following it up with a shattering combination of punches and knee strikes--

        --that might almost be impressive were the machine not whiffing just as much as it lands. A hand grasps at midair after one strike, a second burst of gunfire goes wide and leaves a line of pock-marks in the ground, and there's a moment where the Nephele suddenly jukes backwards like she just hit some sort of auto-dodge command.

GS: Acacia Saitani spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Acacia Saitani enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Acacia Saitani has attacked Yue Rohay with Button Array!
GS: Acacia Saitani has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Acacia Saitani has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Yue Rohay takes a solid hit from Acacia Saitani's Button Array for 340 hit points!
GS: Yue Rohay enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Poison expired!
GS: Eleanor Klein takes a solid hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Lotus Stance for 0 hit points!
GS: Burst! applied to Eleanor Klein!
GS: Eleanor Klein gains a Combo from Inspire!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur's Stoic stance ends.
<Pose Tracker> Yue Rohay has posed.

        "I also... absolutely cannot imagine why," Yue rather bald-facedly lies to Eleanor at about the exact interstice that the Three of Hearts erupts with several more projectiles. The individual bullets themselves are not exactly the issue, but the way they land upon her and further jeopardise what's already an incredibly jeopardised defensive surface with a loud hiss.

        ... it's perhaps a minor grace that her defences are so bad that all she can do is try to swerve out of the way.

        Acacia, avid and intrepid reporter that she is, starts pinning her down to brass tacks. She doesn't just want her to stop her. It's almost like she wants her to...

        "... Acacia ..."

        The Nephele powers back on as Acacia calls her out on how she's not doing that much damage to the Chateau. There's a powerful burst of manueverability that Yue can't quite handle right now; the cannons fire and shred into the underside of the Aura, and even as she tries to pull away--

        But not immediately known to Acacia, Eleanor and Yue, those bullets and strikes are the start of something much worse. Something happens.

        Something happens as the Skadi's eyes flash, its sword lifting to the heavens and shines.

        Something, both in the quickening, tightly anxious heart palpitating within Yue and deeper within, her eyes flashing as she notices the first sensory motions.

        something pulses within the corners of her screen. A visual glitch. A scratching noise. An artificial heart


        The Aura's camera zooms in on the Skadi. Sees. SEES


        "... could it be ..."


        A screw comes loose at a sharp angle and cuts Yue's cheek; the cockpit begins to tear at its seams, the machine uncaring about which way its heart breaches and warps.

        No. Perhaps...

        "... you knew about this, Mother," Yue comes to but one conclusion. "Shijie, you despicable cur...!" Yue's eyes flash with dismay towards the screen. "A transformation...? You must not!"

<Pose Tracker> Yue Rohay has posed.

        From the outside, the Aura makes a HORRIBLE sound irreproducible in this world. The sound of metal grinding and being pushed beyond its limits, as the aerial Gear's nosecone begins to fold in on itself, its legs uprighting in a visual transformation that might suggest it returning to a regular, humanoid form...


        ... but it is far too broken and shattered for that. The rattling POP noise unlike bones snapping, as one leg completes its transformation and the other utterly fails and remains in a twist.

        What emerges is barely humanoid. A skeletal Gear, evoking a similar silhouette to Acacia's Nephele. Mantled in a broken frame of wings, inadequately clothed in armour left warped here and there.

        Yue forces herself upright from where she's bleeding, her world burning from where the sealed cockpit no longer protects her. The heat is incredible; she could be choking in smoke were it not for how clean it burns.

        "... Acacia. Everyone. Listen to me."

        This machine feels as she does. Every little thought and emotion, every outpouring barely bottled deep within. And right now... with all its anguish and despair unshackled, it wishes--

        "You are right... I understood all along, deep down, but I was afraid wish to admit it..."

        The Aura's monstrous face turns to the Skadi--


        --its jaw POPS loose and lets out an earth-piercing roar.


        Then... a blur. A broken machine, once composed of lines and shapes, is now just a blur. A blur of a humanoid shape basking itself inside a building sphere of power of pure and pristine energy, showering the immediate battlefield with a countless array of indefatigable lights.

        Left, right, even as it outpours itself, it takes acute angular turns impossible for a Gear that size. Its target is clear -- it HURTLES itself bodily onto the Skadi, as if responding to its raised sword as a challenge, as a being of pure force.

        A blue comet.

GS: Yue Rohay spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Yue Rohay has launched an attack Link!
GS: Yue Rohay takes a solid hit from Yue Rohay's IBRINGIAMWILLALIVENOTMEFORGETBACK for 0 hit points!
GS: Amplify and Hyper! applied to Yue Rohay!
GS: Yue Rohay enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Yue Rohay's Stoic stance ends. She enters the Avenger stance!
GS: Yue Rohay has activated a Force Action!
GS: Yue Rohay spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Yue Rohay has attacked Acacia Saitani with Starlight Shower!
GS: Yue Rohay has attacked Eleanor Klein with Starlight Shower!
GS: Yue Rohay has activated a Force Action!
GS: Yue Rohay has activated a Force Action!
GS: Yue Rohay has activated a Force Action!
GS: Yue Rohay spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Yue Rohay has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Cosmic Rave!
GS: Yue Rohay has completed her action.
GS: Avril Vent Fleur takes a solid hit from Yue Rohay's Cosmic Rave for 354 hit points!
GS: Acacia Saitani takes a solid hit from Yue Rohay's Starlight Shower for 376 hit points!
GS: Eleanor Klein guards a hit from Yue Rohay's Starlight Shower for 235 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

"Were it up to me, I would have approached the situation differently." Ambrosius replies, shaking his head. "However, it was my own error in not first confirming your readiness for battle, and for that, I apologize."

Ambrosius takes note, then, of the way Clarissa retreats from Minerva's etheric air. And so too does he watch as she draws out an ARM and fires, directly at him. Minerva is there in a moment, a shield of blue crystal forming on her left arm to intercept the beam before it can hit Ambrosius himself. The beam sears into the crystal before deflecting off into the ground.

"...A curious weapon." Ambrosius observes. It's a powerful one, certainly - if that had beam had hit either of them directly, it could've been serious. But, there is another side to it - the two of them have now been force into the same general location by Clarissa's attack. And, before Ambrosius and Minerva can separate, a magical seal crackles around the two of them courtesy of Marivel.

Ambrosius frowns. He's not sure if the teamwork between Clarissa and Marivel was intentional, but it certainly paid off - he can feel both his and Minerva's Ether dampened. This could be a problem. And, more than just the magical seal... Marivel has a test question for him?

He stares at her curiously, as if wondering where she's going with this, before answering...

"...You speak of D-Block, correct?" Ambrosius answers.

There's another attack coming, this time from Ashley. Minerva moves to intercept, the canister colliding with her shield. Flaming napalm splatters everywhere. While most of it lands on her shield, some of it flies past at Minerva herself.

It may be a good thing that she's a machine, rather than a being of flesh and blood - she can handle it much better than a person can, but the flames do still seem fairly effective from the way they catch.

As if to try and combat the flames, the chill intensifies. Minerva gestures with a hand, and water begins to swirl and converge around Ashley... before freezing solid and then rushing toward him like a volley of tiny arrows, trying to coat him in a thin layer of ice.

For Marivel, an ill wind begins to blow. It seeps into one's very being, chilling them to the core - not even the dead are immune.

Clarissa's attack is more physical, but no less dangerous for it. Minerva rushes toward her, unleashing a graceful combination of spinning kicks at high speeds, making them difficult to avoid.

As for Ambrosius... he opens his mouth to say something else, when a sound from the Aura catches his attention. He turns and stares. Though usually quite stoic, a worried expression crossing his face as he sees the Aura scrape and tear against itself as it changes form, despite the damage it'd taken.

"Yue! Yue, what is your status!?" Ambrosius asks over the communications. He hadn't anticipated this, and is visibly concerned by it - for a moment, his attention leaves the members of ARMS he's attacked.

GS: Ambrosius spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Ashley Winchester with Bitter Cold!
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Marivel Armitage with Deathly Chill!
GS: Ambrosius spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Clarissa Arwin with Mortal Floes!
GS: Ambrosius takes 27 damage from Poison!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
GS: Clarissa Arwin takes a glancing hit from Ambrosius's Mortal Floes for 90 hit points!
GS: FP up!
GS: Marivel Armitage completely evades a hit from Ambrosius's Deathly Chill!
GS: Marivel Armitage's Force Evade activates!
GS: FP up!
GS: Marivel Armitage enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Ashley Winchester guards a hit from Ambrosius's Bitter Cold for 92 hit points!
GS: Poison! applied to Ashley Winchester!
<Pose Tracker> Eleanor Klein has posed.

The slowing of Eleanor's Gear progresses more and more as it moves--screens report errors and strain in multiple places, not to mention a number of guns outright jammed and in need of clearing. It will take some time to do that, but Eleanor has to try to keep her eye on it--

"Ah," Eleanor answers Avril's... is she serious? Is she kidding? Eleanor really does not know how to handle the quiet woman. "I'm sure!"

Luckily, Eleanor Klein has specific training in staying composed and looking like she knows what she's talking about whether she does or not! "Oh, I've merely been practicing as much as I've had the chance," Eleanor demurs as to her intuition, "Though I'm pleased that you think so. Have you really not? You seem so comfortable with it!"

Oh noooo. More errors still. After a clear problem with a big hit, Avril's Gear is standing tall beside Eleanor's, and she thinks that proof enough of what she was saying. If someone this impressive thinks she's doing well...

Eleanor looks that little bit more intently at her displays, and begins flipping switches, beginning a purge process through the systems.


Eleanor hears that awful sound from the Aura, so easy to compare right now to the Nephele. She watches in some horror as the change happens, unsettled as she is reminded indeed of certain other terrible sounds. The thing before them is monstrous, and Yue speaks to them but--

"Yue!" Eleanor calls in dismay, and then cannot focus on others at the moment because instead she is forced to maneuver her Gear, bringing its shielded 'gauntlets' up to defend its central portion from the shower of light; nevertheless, the light batters into those arms, into its legs, pitting places with its sheer force.

She looks as she identifies the target, next, while weathering out the assault--Avril's Skadi. There's only one thing she can do. "Hang on!" Eleanor takes the controls in her hands more directly, settling her arms down for stability against the rests. She eyes forward. "I'm going in! Acacia!"

The Three of Hearts charges abrubtly, its titanic form walking and then running towards the Aura, arms extending to try to grab the other Gear outright by whatever handholds it can find with gigantic powerful hands. "Come on...!"

GS: Eleanor Klein spends 2 Combo on Gatling, loading 2 into Gatling!
GS: Eleanor Klein has attacked Yue Rohay with Chariot Charge!
GS: Eleanor Klein takes 40 damage from Corrode!
GS: Eleanor Klein has completed her action.
GS: Yue Rohay takes a solid hit from Eleanor Klein's Chariot Charge for 312 hit points!
GS: Weaken! applied to Yue Rohay!
GS: Eleanor Klein assumes the Avenger stance!
<Pose Tracker> Clarissa Arwin has posed.

There is something strange about Strahl Gewehr, it's true. The energy it's firing doesn't seem to fit the nature of a beam rifle.

But that's only part of it. As Yue's machine changes so drastically, Strahl Gewehr throbs in Clarissa's hands, warming a little. Widening her eyes, she looks down at the weapon with a little intake of breath, then up towards the monstrosity of a Gear. "What is that? It's like she hid a monster inside it...."

Veruni affairs are a bit opaque to Clarissa. All she can do is look on in horror, distracted from the battle - at least until Minerva rushes towards her. It's the patter of footfalls that jerks her out of her distraction. "Yeep!" she squeals in alarm about a split-second before Minerva's on her.

And then Clarissa gets kicked in the shoulder. She hits the ground with a yelp and rolls away, kicking quickly back to her feet and rolling under the next one before blocking a third with a sweep of her forearm. Clenching her teeth, she brings both arms up to block those kicks. "I've had enough of this! You need to go help your friend! She's obviously in some kind of trouble!" Clarissa growls past Minerva, eyes snapping towards Ambrosius.

For her trouble, she gets another kick in the shoulder. Skidding back a few feet, she lets herself be pushed away and hops backwards a few more metres to make the best of it. There's a jolt and a thump as her shoulder blades hit the wall of the chateau. She's been backed up as far as possible.

Clarissa's shoulders square. She clicks her teeth together and scowls. "...All this for a test. For an experiment. Were we the ones being tested? Or were we dummies for that? I think you're not being honest with us." She narrows her eyes a little.

"I don't like lies."

Stepping off the wall, Clarissa draws her breath. Her heart pumps in her chest as she levels Strahl Gewehr forward, the barrel pointed straight at Minerva. The handgun's bore shines with a brilliant golden energy.

What bursts out of the weapon is a vast, howling beam, far more intense than what she was firing a few seconds ago. It's wide enough that it could cover most of the walk up to the chateau gate - and it'll try to swallow Minerva and roll over her to try and slam Ambrosius, too.

GS: Clarissa Arwin spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Clarissa Arwin has attacked Clarissa Arwin with Courageous Heart!
GS: Clarissa Arwin has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Clarissa Arwin has launched an attack Link!
GS: Clarissa Arwin takes a solid hit from Clarissa Arwin's Courageous Heart for 0 hit points!
GS: Surge! applied to Clarissa Arwin!
GS: Mighty and Riposte! applied to Clarissa Arwin!
GS: Clarissa Arwin spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Clarissa Arwin has attacked Ambrosius with Soul Survivor!
GS: Ambrosius takes a solid hit from Clarissa Arwin's Soul Survivor for 167 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

        Something, Avril realizes, watching as the Aura comes to a stop, as it begins to spasm and tear at itself, is terribly wrong with Yue's machine. At first she thinks perhaps a hit had done in the already greatly deteriorated Gear.

        It becomes clear a mere heartbeat later that this is not so. It is very much not so.

        Avril can see the similarity even more clearly than before, now. Prior, it had only been a matter of it reminding her of the other Gear now fielded -- both of Veruni make, both clearly crafted by the same hand. Now there is no question of it.

        The Gears are twins, and of the two...


        In spite of their relationship -- in spite of what their relationship must be -- Avril still cries out for her opponent as the Gear's involuntary transformation ceases.
        Only Yue's voice, still, lets them know that she yet lives within.

        Before her voice seems to trail off. Before the Gear turns its attention upon the Skadi. "...!"

        The Skadi swings its blade to guard as the Aura jolts forward, impossibly fast. The blade--

        It spins up into the sky in a deadly whirl of several tons of metal; the Skadi is flung to the earth. The blade soon joins it in a sickening crunch near to the fallen Gear itself.

        The world, according to her Gear's sensors, is blue.
        A fine counterpoint to the red and orange lights that shine within her cockpit. Struggling in her seat, Avril releases the safety belt, tumbles free. Coughs once, choking on fumes from somewhere within.
        Reaches for the release for the cockpit. One hand next reaches for the edge as smoke billows out from within.

        And Avril herself...

        Lets go.

        BGM Shift: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCopwSSih0M

        It's too easy. She just has to reach within, to feel that gap in the wall widen, and out comes everything she could need in this moment.

        And more, should she wish it.

        She stands now on the lip of the cockpit, ice spreading under her feet, spreading across the fallen Gear. Wind whips at her hair, turning it into some sort of silver veil. She stares up at the Aura, completely divested of the protection of her own Gear.

        She is not afraid in the least.

        "Cease this immediately," she says, more to the machine than to Yue herself and perhaps her voice may yet carry across the immediate distance, even without the aid of her Gear's devices. "This shall serve as your warning."

        The immediate air temperature falls dramatically. Frost rimes across any surface that will take it.

        And in the heart of the chill, from her hands alone, there begins to grow a great frozen blade -- an erratic structure perhaps recalling the form of a icy stalactite. This she heaves forward, letting it fly as if it were instead some great missile of iron rather than magic and ice.

DC: Avril Vent Fleur switches forms to The Ice Queen!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Yue Rohay with Jardin de Givre!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has launched an attack Link!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur spends 1 Combo on Interrupt!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Yue Rohay with Glace Bleue!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Yue Rohay takes a solid hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Jardin de Givre for 0 hit points!
GS: Dispel! Amplify and Hyper removed!
GS: Disease! applied to Yue Rohay!
GS: Yue Rohay takes a solid hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Glace Bleue for 250 hit points!
GS: Yue Rohay has lost 2 Combo from Interrupt!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"You fiend..." Marivel says to Ashley. "A true demon...! A monster! I accept your dark bargain!" She dramatically places the back of her hand to her forehead as if she was, like, in so much despair you guys!

Ambrosius answers her. "...Correct!" She applauds with both hands. "Full points!"

She approaches him, then s tops as a DEATHLY WIND ripples around her. She is chilled to her core...but...

Then she closes her eyes and exhales out icy mist from her mouth before releasing that 'chill' by unleashing a wave of fire around her body that swirls around her but does not burn.

She does not strike Ambrosius. She watches him instead, studying his expression. And then he approaches Ambrosius, slipping in while he is distracted and leaning in, hovering off the ground just enough to make the gesture.

And she murmurs, in this moment. "You care for her, don't you...?"

Her eyes burn crimson, shining far brighter than normal.

"Ambrosius..." She says. "Do you wish for her happiness? Do you wish for Minder's happiness? Victory comes easy, Ambrosius, but happiness? That only comes to those that take a risk for themselves rather than those that simply risk others. Sometimes we must do both."

<Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

        "... I'm not... saying you're wrong to think like that. I'm not saying you're right either," Acacia mutters past the din of her Gear's attacks, kind of wishing this wasn't the moment in which her awkwardness started to get in the way as she huffs for a moment and tries to gather her words together. "I just-- I don't know if this is the best way to go about it. That's all." There's another flash of a feeling she's been having recently - that she often feels a world apart from these long-lived figures, that the history she's trying to grasp is too enormous for her.

        ... not that she'll stop trying, of course. She's a reporter.

        She opens her mouth to say something more; she's not at all sure what that's going to be, but she's made it this far in this skirmish by detaching her mouth and her brain from any kind of filter and spewing any old nonsense, so she might as well just keep going with that.

        Instead, a throb seems to echo through the Aura, one that stops Acacia cold in her tracks. There is a hideous sound of tearing and shearing metal, and the reporter winces to herself, whatever she was going to say caught in her tracks. "Yue," she breathes, faintly recognizing a jumble of confused things all at once - wordless and instinctive and without detail, of politics and power plays and most of all Yue being used as some kind of pawn.

        It could almost feel, for a tiny moment, as if there's an answering pulse from the Nephele - but Acacia isn't sure if that's just the way she's gripping the control sticks until her knuckles tighten, more likely either the quickening drumbeat of her heart or the quickening drumbeat of her temper. At least there is a tiny silver lining, as what was once the Aura flashes towards the Skadi, as the Skadi opens up and the Veruni girl inside stares the Aura down with a baleful glare:

        When it comes to what Acacia should be doing right now, things just got a hell of a lot simpler.

        "Yue!" she roars as she guns the Nephele forwards, answering Eleanor's shout with a curt nod that no-one can see because she's sitting in a cockpit and all that. There's no time to think about what she's doing, and that honestly makes things a lot easier. The more time she has to think, the more time she has to second-guess herself - so instead she simply braces herself as her Gear slams into the Aura shoulder-first alongside the Three of Hearts.

        She has one advantage over Eleanor, recognizing that any handhold on the Aura might be terribly short-lived given its structural problems. Rather than grasp for whatever she can - she's aiming for the areas around cockpit, intent on trying to ensure that part of the mech does not warp any further than it already has. Calling for Yue to eject-- well, knowing this machine, that's probably already broken. "Hang on!" she yells instead. "We're getting you out!"

GS: Acacia Saitani spends 1 Combo on Interrupt!
GS: Acacia Saitani enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Acacia Saitani has attacked Yue Rohay with Takedown Request!
GS: Acacia Saitani has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Break and Disrupt expired!
GS: Acacia Saitani has completed her action.
GS: Yue Rohay takes a solid hit from Acacia Saitani's Takedown Request for 386 hit points!
GS: Cripple! applied to Yue Rohay!
GS: Yue Rohay has lost 2 Combo from Interrupt!
GS: Yue Rohay has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Ashley Winchester has posed.

The situation is escalating quickly. Almost too quickly to keep track of. The metamorphosis of Yue's ramshackle gear into something grotesque and monstrous is impossible to ignore. It casts a dire shadow across the entire battlefield. It's bad enough that it's happening so near to the chateau, but...

The person inside... She's someone dear to so much of ARMS' membership, isn't she?

Ashley looks away at the absolute most inopportune time. Frost bombards him, covering him in a sheet of enfeebling cold. Ashley grits his teeth to keep them from chattering, his hands clenching tight around his rifle's stock. His nerves scream, desperately crying out for warmth to push back against the creeping cold. Certainly, whatever it is Avril is doing does not help in the least, but...

The source of heat-- the warmth that he can draw upon-- to release it here, to use that to break the cold's frigid grasp...

It's not something he can afford to tap into so readily. He can't. Not yet. This fight can still be won with plain old ordinary firepower.

That is something Ashley can spare.

He fights through the chill, shivering as he shoves an odd cylindrical crystal into his rifle's open breach. Light pours from between the gaps in the weapon's frame, shooting out in blinding, blue beams. His arms shake as he aims-- he has to brace the stock against his shoulder to steady his grip. If that barrier struggled against a single charged ARM shot, then...

What about two?

Ashley pulls the trigger. A column of azure energy erupts from the barrel, cascading outward in a tidal wave of radiant, blue light. The Golem might be his target, but if Ambrosius isn't careful, he might just get caught in the resulting blastwave...!

GS: Ashley Winchester spends 3 Combo on Headshot and Gatling, loading 1 into Gatling!
GS: Ashley Winchester has attacked Ambrosius with Rising Nova!
GS: Ashley Winchester takes 19 damage from Poison!
GS: Poison expired!
GS: Ashley Winchester has completed his action.
GS: Ambrosius takes a solid hit from Ashley Winchester's Rising Nova for 193 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Yue Rohay has posed.

        Yue scarce hears Ambrosius' calls towards her, asking for her status. Her eyes are flickering out of focus, as consciousness threatens to dip below that one line. She's not certain where the boundary of her piloting and where the conscience taking over the machine is at the moment. Up is down; nothing feels right, and what feels impossible--

        "Ambrosius... it is best for you... to abort for now," she manages to speak. "I am sorry."

        The Three of Hearts continues to move amidst the shower of lights the Aura manifests. Good, she thinks to herself, as she forces herself forward with a shuffle of her bleeding elbow towards her keyboard. She can't let anyone die here but...

        "Eleanor. It is too dangerous to come close..."

        The titanic Gear comes in anyway and overwhelms the Aura with sheer power. True to Yue's warning, the Three of Hearts initially looks as if it'll pay for its manuever as the Aura's ...aura... (ah, is that where the name comes from) continues to burn away with enormous prowess and heat.

        She can hear Avril call out to her, as the Skadi's blade spins and the comet-like of the approach of the Aura proves regrettably true. She barely catches Avril's escape from her gear, letting go...

        Letting go.

        Why would she call out to her?

        Avril. The girl called Avril Vent Fleur. The Drifter. The friend of Rebecca and Dean, and Marivel and so many others. A stranger at best, an acquaintance. Someone she can't possibly be able to have a grudge against--

        "There is still time. Avril--"

        --then the temperature dips. Even in the flaming coffin that is her surrounds right now. Suddenly Yue's eyes shrink as she feels so, so cold.

        So very cold.

        So much so, as the imperious woman on the other side commands her... commands the machine? To cease it immediately. The great, frozen blade erupts from her hands alone and flies to the Aura--


        --and upon contact, ice quells fire, and the Aura's aura begins to gutter and flicker out. She can't tell whose heart is being quelled right now... and whose is being stoked anew with the ice-cold burn of Her Royal Presence.

        "You..." Yue is in perfect sync with her machine's thoughts. She doesn't have a good camera alive to look at her. Her teeth grit, struggling through the chatter of what feels like a deeply primal kind of fear in her. She speaks with such slowness, as if frosted by the ice, each syllable deep with gravitas on her tongue:

        "...Ice Queen... ...Avril..."

        If up were down, her mind spins so much that now up feels simultaneously like it is down, left and right; no physical law feels like it remains intact at the moment, at this very second.

        Yue feels someone getting extremely angry and furious, but it doesn't feel like she's the one getting angry.

        Yue feels her jaw moving, she feels air being pushed out, she hears words being spoken--

        "You... after all this time, after everything that has happened--"

        She doesn't have a chance anymore, not with the Three of Hearts pinning the Aura down and now with the Nephele incoming-- the Ice Queen's frost may have guttered the powerful light, but it's still there--


        The Nephele slams straight into the Aura's shattered cockpit; she vaguely hears her yell that she's getting her out.



        Above all odds, after Clarissa's shot rings clear and Ashley's powerful column of energy whizzes free, as Marivel speaks earnestly to Ambrosius--

        Clarissa notices her megaphone getting picked up. All the ground combatants can see an extremely tiny Veruni girl in an environmental suit and the garbs of a black mage and floppy straw hat hurrying and clambering up the parapet with her limited mobility.

        She sucks in a breath, holds Clarissa's megaphone up and yells:


        The Minder keels over and starts wheezing through her suit's tinny speakers, then flops over onto her bum on the parapet.

        There is a pause, and... finally, with that last inch of damage, the Aura finally and truly powers down in the Three of Hearts' arms.

        There is an almost deafening silence in the wake of the megaphone's reverb.

        "... Melos," Yue speaks as she stares down to the console. "It is not yet time for you and I to go after all."

        The console glows with a corruption of red and purple for a moment... then shuts off.

        "I surrender. Thank you, ARMS..."

<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Ambrosius is still distracted. He's a little torn - should he do something? But, what could he do? While he's trying to decide, he looks toward Clarissa as she speaks.

Minerva is forced to focus on personal defense this time around, raising her shield to defend. The sheer force of the beam is enough to push her back. Her crystalline shield begins to crack... but before it can shatter completely, the beam sweeps away, striking Ambrosius solidly and knocking him backward to the ground with a grunt.

"...I... did not know of this." Ambroius replies, as he gets back to his feet. He shakes his head. "I was told nothing of this."

He seems as surprised about it at the rest of them - it seems he really is being truthful about that. Marivel approaches him, then - not with an attack, but with a lesson. He listens to what she says, and doesn't have an immediate answer.

Minerva, meanwhile, has Ashley to contend with. Fighting through the cold, he levels his ARM at her, firing off a column of brilliant blue light. It slams into Minerva's barrier, breaking it apart from where it was already weakened by Clarissa's attack. The beam continues forward into Minerva herself, sending her flying backward, crashing down near Ambrosius. She forces herself up again, into a combat stance, but...

Yue's voice reaches Ambrosius. He hesitates. ...He doesn't like it, but... if she truly wanted him to retreat, could he go against her wishes? And then, there's the Minder... she doesn't look to be in very good condition, and continued fighting might make things worse.

"...Very well." Ambrosius replies reluctantly.

And so...

"...Minerva. Stand down." Ambrosius says. Minerva pauses, looks back... and then, straightens up.

"Members of ARMS... your determination is noted. May it serve you well." He turns to walk away with Minerva following suit, then... but as he does, he pauses, looking back on Marivel.

"...I will... consider your words." He says, quietly.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

        All is ice. Skadi itself is nearly buried in it, as the power wound deep into Avril's very being is permitted to flow forth. The air sparkles with diamond dust, flung free in the wake of that great sundering spar of ice.

        Avril herself wears the expression of someone not entirely here yet not completely untethered from this world, someone fixed fast between the screen and the windowpane of herself and...

        Perhaps, someone better known to Yue.


        The power is everything. It feels near to flowing in her veins. Every movement, every turn of her head even brings with it a fresh almost giddy pulse.

        What had she been holding back on, and why?

        So often she's unable to exist in this state, pouring instead all her energies into offense until her body cannot take it anymore. She's never been able to enjoy it.

        She remembers what the Trial Knight said to her. The power within her...

        She watches as the Aura collapses. Watches as it falls into the Three of Hearts' arms. The fingers of her right hand twitch.

        Destroy her murmurs that other half within.

        It is no less than she deserves.


        Her eyes go wide. Her chest-- she feels like she can't breathe.

        She gathers it all up -- as much of that power as she is able. Every bit of it she can reach.

        To the outside world the girl standing atop the fallen Gear collapses to her knees.

        And she balls it up and shoves it back from whence it had came.

        "I do not... want that..." she says to no one but herself.

        The frost has begin to sublimate with nothing left to feed it, but she wraps her arms about herself, shivering still.

DC: Avril Vent Fleur switches forms to The Amnesiac Girl!
<Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

        It's a very long moment before Acacia dares to speak up, not least because in the furore and confusion of it all she's pretty sure she smacked her head against the back of the chair when the Nephele impacted the Aura.

        But it's also because she doesn't dare interrupt the moment, whether it's the foreboding aura emitted from the Veruni girl growing stronger every instant, the way her own heart leaps into her mouth as she tries to tell what Yue's reaction to that will be in turn, or Minder's explosion of emotion that finally brings them all back to earth.

        Only when the last of the flame dies down does she dare speak. "... ... okay," she confirms, having to swallow past her bone-dry throat. "Then, you're our prisoner now."

        She pauses.

        * * * TWO DAYS LATER, 3:15AM * * *

        The groan is still going.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

Some distance away--within sight and maybe hearing, but hidden among the nearby cliffs--a small figure watches, as she's been watching these developments since the battle began, from the pyrotechnics to the sudden change... and its end.

Blonde hair blows in a wind as she scowls down between the Aura's ruined form and Avril Vent Fleur herself.

The figure turns, and starts to walk away.