2020-10-03:...How Long 'Til It Lies on My Heart

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<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

The skies over Bevelle are awash in pyreflies. Prismatic, turning things that make the clouds glow and brighten the day. Fitting, perhaps, because it is the day of a wedding.

Bevelle looks resplendent. With its red walls, and the different sections of the city that are arranged almost like a flower, it looks stunning. It is sad, then, that the eastern walls are marred so, for a foreign army gathers there -- and smoke wafts away, here and there, from where Althena's Guard has damaged guard towers and other fortifications.

But Bevelle Temple, at the heart of the city, manages some semblance of peace and grandeur. On a great pavilion, high in the sky, red and gold banners run. Grand Maester Yo Mika stands atop an altar, at the end of a grand staircase. A wind blows along that staircase, sending pyreflies swirling -- and ruffling the ceremonial robes and dress of the bride and groom. Seymour Guado puts a hand to his head, securing the conical hat that he wears in place, and looks up.

His pale eyes glance at the sky, as his arm remains in Yuna's. His expression is, for a moment, thoughtful. And then his eyes narrow, as he spots something in the clouds. But it is an explosion, to the east that demands his attention. His head snaps there, as he sees explosions ripping up from the walls -- and a rush of Althena's Guard, in the distance.

"Gh--Belize!" he shouts, to the winds. "See to that!"

"LOOK!" Wen Kinoc shouts, the shorter human Maester jabbing a finger up into the air.

And from the clouds, an airship breaks free. Water vapor trails from the white-and-gold hull of the Fahrenheit, as it banks in lower, and runs parallel to the long, elegant white pier that runs from Bevelle into the ocean.

"Get your rifles ready!" Kinoc shouts at his Warrior Monks. They left them, readying, even as the flying YAT-99 machina drones tear off -- soaring away from the Temple to start firing shots into the Fahrenheit. Some miss; others hit, shaking the hull mightily. Black smoke begins to trail off it.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Osajnmj2msU

On the Fahrenheit's bridge, Cid shouts into a receiver: "ALL RIGHT! Harpoons are loaded! We ain't able to take a lot of direct hits--so you get in there, get Yuna, and then we're gonna swing back around and grab ya!"

Puffs of smoke and steam explode from the sides of the Fahrenheit. Huge, hooked harpoons shoot down -- and slam into the stonework at the base of that white pier that extends over the sea. Chunks of rock explode upward, as twisting steel cables trail after. They jerk to a stop, after a moment, before turning and twisting all over again after impact.

Gunfire explodes, as Warrior Monks begin firing -- shots hurtling over the heads of Yuna and Seymour alike. Seymour's eyes narrow, and he dispenses with the fiction of a solemn stride to grab Yuna by the wrist, roughly. He yanks her forward.

"Come!"

The way forward is to skate down those cables, and towards Bevelle below.

The cables turn and twist as people skate down them. Each movement makes them sway and bend. The cables are hard to predict, as they move in close and apart. Some rise into a peak; others drop into a valley.

The YAT-99's are soon upon the Drifters skating in, releasing massive blasts of cannon fire. Unlike the stray shots from Warrior Monks' rifles, these can throw a person off a cable -- or worse. The blasts burn bright red; where they hit a cable, it wobbles sharply, and may drop an unfortunate soul. Sparks explode and erupt, adding to the confusion, where shell strikes steel.

Then, finally, at the bottom, the cables begin to converge. Two of them tangle together, one that many Drifters slide down getting crossed by another -- and then it dips, forcing people to leap from cable to cable, before coming down to the end.

The end is a large plaza, ringed by Warrior Monks. They lift their weapons, as one, as Kinoc shouts: "BRING THEM DOWN!"

In Yevon's teachings, they say that ten thousand and one steps lead to peace.

On Bevelle Temple, the Ten Thousand Steps lead from the pier to the top of the temple. The grand pavilion with Mika, Seymour, and Yuna is at the top. And on the stairs between them, with the many shorter platforms on the way, are scores of Warrior Monks, rifles and flamethrowers ready. Yevonite clerics, in their robes, raise staffs. Guado Guardians ready their claws, pyreflies crackling about them. YAT-99 and YKT-63 machina fly and lumber, respectively.

Near the top, Maester Kinoc stands, with a retinue behind him -- and Biggs and Wedge Guado before him. The armies of Yevon await, with ten thousand steps towards peace.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOJ91H4mraU

DC: Seymour Guado switches forms to The Wedding Gauntlet!
_____________________________| QUICK TIME EVENT!!!|_____________________________
_                            The Descent Into Bevelle                          _
_                                                                              _
_                                                                              _
_  Marivel Armitage, Tidus, Ivan, Seraph Boudicca, Jacqueline Barber, Lunata   _
_ Croze, Avril Vent Fleur, Azoth, Cecilia Adlehyde, Elhaym van Houten, Lan     _
_ Lilac, Lemina Ausa, Lulu, Mariel, Shalune Amira, and Ida Everstead-Rey:      _
_  +qte/react <guard/evade/charge>/<guard/evade/charge>/<guard/evade/charge>   _
QTE!!! Challenge Result: Low Success! Lunata Croze takes 157 damage and gains 60 FP!
QTE!!! Challenge Result: Moderate Success! Lulu takes 102 damage and gains 45 FP!
QTE!!! Challenge Result: Moderate Success! Lemina Ausa takes 106 damage and gains 45 FP!
QTE!!! Challenge Result: FAILURE! Shalune Amira takes 205 damage and gains 75 FP!
QTE!!! Challenge Result: Low Success! Elhaym van Houten takes 155 damage and gains 60 FP!
QTE!!! Challenge Result: FAILURE! Avril Vent Fleur takes 62 damage and gains 75 FP!
QTE!!! Challenge Result: Moderate Success! Lan Lilac takes 106 damage and gains 45 FP!
QTE!!! Challenge Result: Moderate Success! Ida Everstead-Rey takes 105 damage and gains 45 FP!
QTE!!! Challenge Result: FAILURE! Mariel takes 210 damage and gains 75 FP!
QTE!!! Challenge Result: Low Success! Seraph Boudicca takes 154 damage and gains 60 FP!
QTE!!! Challenge Result: Moderate Success! Azoth takes 110 damage and gains 45 FP!
<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

 <SoundTracker> The Wedding - FFX OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cy58PtxrxVg

A half dozen Yevonite monks escorted Yuna, at processional-pace, across the ramparts of the Palace of St. Bevelle to Seymour's side. They formed ranks before and behind her, and along either side, rendering her all but invisible from every direction but one: above. It is, without question, an honor guard -- the highest honor imaginable, for many of them, which they were eager to accept. But it is also a precaution.

Surely it's because of the siege. No one can fault Yevon for taking the highest possible security measures to ensure the safety and success of a wedding that was already an inspiration to the people of Spira BEFORE the main continent had been ravaged by war. Now it is truly a light of hope. A symbol of the better future possible, once the invaders have been repelled. Once Sin has been repelled. This union is as inexorable, as unstoppable, as inevitable as the Calm its bride will bring.

Ten thousand and one steps to peace, indeed.

But -- despite that crystal-clear context, layered double by the awareness that this ceremony comes in the immediate aftermath of the bride's rescue from the clutches of heretics and barbarians, who might seek to kidnap her yet again -- it doesn't quite come off that way. Yuna's smallness, her slightness, is infinitely emphasized by the military that surrounds her, and in their company she looks much less like a summoner surrounded by her guardians, and much more like a prisoner, surrounded by her guards.

One thing is undeniable, however: she makes a spectacular bride.

Surely Yuna had little to no involvement in the planning of this wedding, but whoever has dressed her has done so skillfully. Her gown fuses the classical elegance-in-simplicity of a sleeveless, smooth white shift, with the empyrean splendor of an angel. Across her bared back, actual wings curl around her from behind, their feathers long and soft and gloriously perfect. They sprout from a thick bouquet of red and gold flowers affixed at the base of her spine. More feathers line the underside of her dress, and comprise the majority of the front of her skirt, where the heavy white fabric opens like a flower at barely mid-thigh. Perhaps someone's a fan of her legs, which have grown strong indeed on pilgrimage, and are sheathed, from the knee down, in white, silken boots.

The back of her skirt is a train, and it goes on and on, evocative of royalty in metaphor, and very, very heavy in reality. It bridges a little bit of the gap of mass between bride and groom; even with high heels, the Guado still towers over her, but she takes up more space, today.

It is difficult to see Yuna's expression beneath the shimmering veil surrounding her -- a vast, almost floor-length sheerness. It is secured to her soft brown hair, which has been swept into a spiky updo that matches well the feathered theme of the garment, by an intricate and ancient tiara of Guado make. A piece of history, more likely than not. But she carries herself with dignity, with gravity, her every step measured and deliberate. And she is appropriately -- dutifully -- silent.

Yes, she cuts a splendid figure, there at Seymour's side.

The terms of her cooperation are unclear, but they have won her 'merely' a small army of guards and a dress that might as well be a ball and chain in terms of the mobility it allows -- instead of more literal shackling. But there's also a sense that her composure, her self-possession, is voluntary, genuine. That her poise, within the complexity of this moment, is the only thing she CAN control, and is, therefore, precious to her. And she is poised, indeed.

She is... resolved.

It doesn't HAVE to be her mastery of a summoner's poker face explaining this behavior. Perhaps she really is here to marry Seymour of her own will. It isn't so crazy, in the greater context of her life choices. Perhaps he offered her something she couldn't refuse. She has already offered her life for the defeat of Sin; marriage is a small thing in comparison. Especially if the exchange was made in the defense of even one other person. She'd do it for them, for any of them, all of them.

She'd do it for you.

 <SoundTracker> Assault - FFX OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Osajnmj2msU

She had another bouquet in her hands to match the one in the back, but as Seymour drags her up the steps, she loses her grip on it -- easy to do, wearing fragile silk gloves. The roaring winds of the Fahrenheit's fly-by reduce it to red and scarlet petals in seconds, which soar upwards, upwards, along with her veil, which has ripped straight off her head. It must have been made of something impossibly fine; it was already almost lighter than air. It rises, swirling beautifully, until it's lost to the endless blue sky.

Her face, revealed at last, has been made up in an understated, lovely fashion. Her long Besaid-beaded earring was taken and replaced by diamond drops; her silvery flower-charm necklace, given to her by her father in Bevelle as a farewell present, was permitted to remain. They could not pluck the green Al Bhed eye from her head, but one gets the feeling that they would have, if propriety had allowed it.

Green and blue eye alike widen enormously. Her expression is as shocked as anyone present to get buzzed by a gigantic, gorgeous Al Bhed airship; it is immediately obvious that she had no idea this was going to happen. The strength of Seymour's grip elicits a soft gasp from her, the first sound she's made at the wedding, but she cannot resist him. Together they ascend.

In no time at all, they are standing in front of Grand Maester Mika. The most important man in Spira; the most powerful symbol of its strength, even though he himself is a fragile old man. And, though he doesn't know it yet, the greatest and final hope of the even more delicate ray of it who has been brought before him to be wed. She has not been allowed to see him since being brought to Bevelle. The proper thing to do would be to face him, now.

But at the top of the ten thousand steps -- where one journey will end, and another must begin -- Yuna looks back, instead.

OOC: Wedding album, 'cuz I'm bad at describing clothes! http:'www.imagebam.comgallery4h5jdxwkx2eo6apy8xq67n19ij1y5m89

QTE!!! Challenge Result: Low Success! Cecilia Adlehyde takes 158 damage and gains 60 FP!
QTE!!! Challenge Result: Moderate Success! Jacqueline Barber takes 108 damage and gains 45 FP!
QTE!!! Challenge Result: Low Success! Ivan takes 151 damage and gains 60 FP!
QTE!!! Challenge Result: Moderate Success! Tidus takes 103 damage and gains 45 FP!
_____________________________| QUICK TIME EVENT!!!|_____________________________
_                                YET MORE ASSAULT                              _
_                                                                              _
_                                                                              _
_  Rikku:                                                                      _
_  +qte/react <guard/evade/charge>/<guard/evade/charge>/<guard/evade/charge>   _
QTE!!! Challenge Result: Low Success! Rikku takes 154 damage and gains 60 FP!
QTE!!! Challenge Result: FAILURE! Marivel Armitage takes 202 damage and gains 75 FP!
<Pose Tracker> Gon Guado has posed.

    Among the ranks of the Guado Guardians at the ready is none other than Gon Guado, who only stands out because of the difference of color in his robes and the somewhat paler hair from advancing age. (This is a polite way to say he is a palette swap.) Everything is animated on what should have been a most joyous day for his people. Things were finally about to go as right as they were going to with those damnable Althena Otherworlders stalemated at the fortifications of Bevelle - and then things get worse.
     His eyes trail the Fahrenheit's movements as it arrives by Maester Kinoc's call... and the aging Guado's eyes narrow ever more.
     "I had thought they would have known better to even think of throwing their lot with them," he mutters cryptically. Ill tidings, worse timing. The orders filter down the collective chain of command from Maester Kinoc, and down to wherever he stands in the hierarchy - if it isn't just the simple idea that he is older and more experienced and thus the younger Guado Guardians are more keen to take in his insight.
     Raising his right hand, sheathed in a clawed gauntlet as is the traditional weapon of his people, he signals forward in a capacity and response that seems vague and ill-defined in that nothing seems to happen to start. No familiar preparation of Althenian Black Magic, no leaping down the stairs to intercept them - but the pyreflies flitting about do start to stir with greater intensity. Even through machina fire, the growing glowing of the colorful pyrefly tails is impossible to miss... or the way they start to coalesce into greater clusters.

<Pose Tracker> Tidus has posed.

    For all that this wedding should be a joyous event, Belize is solemn as they watch Seymour and Yuna begin the procession, arm in arm, surrounded by guards. When explosions rock nearby ramparts and burst in the air, they whip around. "At once, my Maester!" they shout at Seymour's command, then dash off to deal with the matter. They won't return for some time.
    
    But that's got nothing to do with Tidus, who gives Cid a firm nod as he bottom-lines the plan for everyone. "You got it! We'll be out there and right back before you even know it!" he declares, pumping a fist in determination. The next moment, he's dashed off and wire-surfing down towards the wedding ceremony as chaos reigns supreme.
    
    At first, riding down the wires is hellaciously awkward. Tidus weaves when he should bob, bobs when he should weave, and damn near gets thrown off as a result. Not a great prospect when you're hundreds of feet in the air, if not more. But it's thanks to that same erratic movement that he manages to evade the cannon fire as they shoot in and explode around everyone. This time, Tidus's ducking and weaving take him out of danger as he picks up speed. When the cables twist together, he backflips over to one, then back to the other, with athletic ease. It's easy to believe that he was a star athlete back in his hometown; becoming a Guardian and learning how to fight has only increased his skill in the ways that count.
    
    And so when he makes it to the bottom, he shoves himself up in to a great *leap*, spins in midair, and lands at the bottom of the thousand steps in a three point landing, Brotherhood held out as a counterbalance.
    
    "Out of the way! Guardians comin' through!" he shouts, launching himself forward and charging up the stairs. He's not here to engage in a pitched battle; he's cutting his way through and running as fast as his muscular legs will take him, up and up and up, closer and closer still to Yuna. As he does, he shouts a rallying cry to his friends and allies: "C'mon, everybody! We've got a Summoner to save!!"

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    NOT LONG AGO

    Was it chance, or was it fate? While Avril had reunited with a good many of her friends, she had not seen a trace of Dean or Rebecca. Still, what choice did she have except to keep on moving forward?

    She couldn't give up, not yet.

    And... once she heard that someone else was in need -- a friend of a friend, as if she needed the excuse. Dean would have leapt right in. Rebecca would have asked questions first but without a doubt would have lent her aid. If they're not here...

    Then she'll do their part for them.

    NOW

    Standing atop the ship, she gazes at the city below. Are they down there, somewhere? Or are they still on Filgaia, Avril wonders, turning her head to regard the others here for a moment. ...It's strange. She's determined. She has done far more frightening things than this before, under even more dire circumstances.

    But her heart is uneasy. Is it simply because she doesn't know where they are, or if they are well?

    Shaking her head, as if she could similarly shake such feelings, she advances to the cables and gazes down their length. Once, not all that long ago, she had fallen from the sky.

    This, by contrast, is nothing at all.

    The cables bounce and sway underfoot. Regardless of their thickness, she needs to move quickly to avoid slipping, or perhaps worse, getting crushed between them. She doesn't think. She runs.

    Into this difficulty, the machines of Yevon intrude. Avril moves to dodge one blast, her footing made unstable as the cable beneath ripples violently. But another, and yet another, are unloading upon her and the rest of them. She--

    Wait-- no--

    This is all too familiar. She has seen this before. She--

    The last time, she--
    ...the 'last time'?

    Her footing slips as the cable shakes under her foot. She tumbles. With one final scream, her silver hair whipping about her, Avril plummets towards the city below.

    If there is one consolation, it is this: she hits a red-wedding awning rather than the streets proper, sliding off of it before landing onto the paving below.

    The guards are quick on the scene.

GS: Tidus has attacked Seymour Guado with Quick Hit!
GS: Tidus has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Tidus has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Marivel Armitage sniffs once. "Smells like death. Must be from all the genocide."

She fans her cape out behind her as she stands on the edge of the deck of the Farenheit, pyreflies flitting around her. They are a kind of comfort, a reminder that Spira is a land in which a creature like she can indeed be very comfortable. A land that respects the dead. But Marivel...has always been a bit more fond of life despite her nature.

"ARMS." Marivel says. "Don't hold back."

She then leaps free from the Farenheit, landing partway across the cables, only to be flung off by the cables as she spins in the air, drawing Guillotine in her hand as she does so.

A hole is punched through her from a YAT-99. Marivel laughs like a maniac as smoke clears through her chest, revealing the other end as a dark miasma crackles around in the gaping hold before she SPLATS at the end, facefirst, into the plaza floor.

She gets shot a few more times there, but even as her body disintegrates--she's laughing, laughing, laughing... Even as her body dissolves away to ash, smoke, and shadow--

--and a winded looking Marivel steps out from behind a harpoon. Sorcery takes a lot out of a gal. But not so much that Guillotine, in the form of a crackling red staff, can't be raised up into the air a nd slammed into the plaza floor, magical energies surging around her and pushing out towards Tidus--

--Tidus who gave her the truth, who gave her empathy, who gave her friendship, who gave her understanding.

towards Lulu--who too knew the pain of losing a loved one, who heard her rage, who talked who through it, who is so impressively goth that even a vampire has to be impressed

towards Rikku--who gave her friendship, who cared desperately for one fated to die in a way that staked the Crimson Noble through her heart

towards Ida--who warned her of the rage consuming her even as she struggled with her own

towards Bouddicca--who knew what it was like to wait in a long life, who braided her hair

And finally to Elly. Why Elly? What does Marivel share with her?

Well, in a sense...perhaps it was not by their own will they were once again given flesh. Perhaps they have that in common. Nevertheless, the surge of energy engulfs and empowers her companions... And hopefully, desperately...! Does not overspend the FP due to a math error!

She allows a small smile to Tidus. "It's nice, Ana... To be fighting with a rambunctious adveturing party again."

GS: Marivel Armitage has activated a Force Action!
GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Tidus with Booster!
GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Seraph Boudicca with Booster!
GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Lulu with Booster!
GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Rikku with Booster!
GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Elhaym van Houten with Booster!
GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Booster!
GS: Marivel Armitage has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Boudicca takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Booster for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Seraph Boudicca!
GS: Elhaym van Houten takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Booster for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Elhaym van Houten!
GS: Rikku takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Booster for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Rikku!
GS: Tidus takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Booster for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Tidus!
GS: Lulu takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Booster for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Lulu!
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Tidus's Quick Hit for 71 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Harmaus has posed.

    "Ah," rumbles the voice of a particular man as he strides out from behind one of the banners near to the altar. "We sees it arrives. Trouble and trouble yet, just as we thinks it."

    So remarks Seraph Harmaus to the would-be bridegroom, his dark gaze lingering a moment on his would-be bride.

    Then he walks on past the both of them, gesturely broadly outwards with both hands. "It matters us not. Will handle every and all troubles, yes? Just as we agrees," he says, without so much as glancing back at either of them.

    "Then, we gets the secrets we needs. Give and take, the law of the world!" Chuckling, the Seraph in flesh continues forward towards the chaos, drawing his ARM and blade from his belt.

<Pose Tracker> Lulu has posed.

The cables spark and spark as feet move down across them. Rising, falling, Kimahri Ronso moves with effortless feline grace, his broad, furred arms holding up his fellow Guardian, the black mage Lulu. On another cable nearby is Wakka, boots sliding against metal cables solidly. They sail down, skating across a cable's length. Soon cannons fire; he leaps out of the way of one, alighting on another cable, as they table, and he holds on. Lulu stares down as she waits, utterly intent. Wakka leaps across the chasm to another, skates down with a determined look on his face.

The Ten Thousand Steps soon see Guardians emerging onto them, Kimahri setting down Lulu and roaring mightily with his spear held. Lulu might as well have roared hrself, the way she lifts one hand and the temperature abrubtly drops precipitously.

Even as Wakka's blitzball sails in to hit the lead monk in the chest, Lulu's ice spell blooms; Blizzaga becomes a point of cold that erupts into a gigantic mass of ice that is set to engulf a row of Warrior Monks outright.

"Forward!" Lulu calls to everyone, and she and two Guardians begin rushing up to meet with Tidus on the way up in perfect sync.

Lulu, for her part, is in back but not holding back, eyeing Harmaus and Gon alng with the army she's trying to smash into.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    Lunata Croze is freeskating through the air at death-defying speeds.

    CLOSE CAMERA:

    "Yeah, that's me down there," Lunata proclaims. "If you're wondering how I got in this situation..."

    ...

    Lunata has had one hell of a time since her entanglement in the Main Gate battles, found herself at a fast sprint through Kattelox's most deadly of Ruin yet in the wake of an ancient Reaverbot administrator, and ended up in, of all places, the Al Bhed's Home.

    ... at gunpoint.

    Trying to negotiate her way out of not getting shot since she was a known and visible asset of Yevon was pretty hard, all told, but with Cid and Rin's help, she somehow managed to get away with the promise of helping them...

    And now she's skating straight on enormous, thick cables and shouting, like any roided up teen popping off on purestrain adrenaline would:

    BGM: Goldfinger - Superman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvziPPpryv0

    "YEAH! I'M QUEEN OF THE WORLD!"

    Then, reality, as a harsh cross-breeze from a YAT-99's explosive round WHIPS the cable and trips her foot--

    "Eh?"

    The cable YEETS Lunata through the air... and she skids chin-first across Bevelle's finest red carpet.

    She gets up and pretends like her chin isn't burning red right now.

    Her eyes widen as she stares and shouts, "Avril!?" she stares over the balcony railing and looks aghast, but... turns as he spots a familiar Guado in her sights instead.

    "Gon! Gon, I've got to tell you something--" she grimaces as machina fire rains down nearby and forces her to duck, and retaliate as her katana manifests outwards and she roundhouse kicks a nearby soldier in the shins.

    "I gotta tell you something about Maester Seymour! He's bad news!! Where's Belize?!"

    This lame attempt at diplomacy might not go well for Lunata.

GS: Lunata Croze has attacked Seymour Guado with Swipesy Cakewalk!
GS: Lunata Croze has completed her action.
GS: Lulu has attacked Seymour Guado with Blizzara!
GS: Lulu has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Lulu assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: Lulu has completed her action.
GS: Seymour Guado critically Guards a hit from Lunata Croze's Swipesy Cakewalk for 25 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline takes a deep breath. Storming the seat of Yevon's power to rescue Yuna... she'd by lying if she said this was the craziest thing she'd tried in her life. But it's another kind of crazy, she thinks to herself, as she stands ready at one of the harpoon parts. She shuts her eyes for a moment... and then, she hears Cid shout. That's the signal.

And so, Jacqueline steps off onto the chain and begins to grind down it, her eyes fixated on Bevelle below.

This, she thinks again, is a special kind of crazy. This wasn't ordinary merchant work - this wasn't even ordinary Drifter activity.

She looks toward Lunata, though, as she shouts. ...Honestly, she's glad to see that at least someone is enjoying this.

But she doesn't let that stop her - she moves with the chains with surprising agility, leaping from chain to chain as cannonfire blazes past on all sides. And then, cannonfire strikes the chain in front of her. It whips upward... and Jacqueline uses the momentum to leap, sailing into the sky. As she does she draws out a bottle of orange liquid, holding it up.

With a Mystic touch, the liquid evaporates into a mist of orange sparkles. The glimmering light scatters over the Yevonite army. It's attracted primarily to machina and ARMs - causing malfunctions and generally faulty performance for any it comes into contact with - but has a weakening effect on anyone else it comes into contact with, as well.

"You have to stop this! Please, step aside - I would rather not fight you, if possible!" Jacqueline requests, as she sails through the air. She lands next to Lunata, a quickly-casted Crest Graph slowing her descent. ...She's too late to help with Lunata's though. Whoops.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Booster for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Ida Everstead-Rey!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Seymour Guado with Mystic Haywire Draught!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

This is not precisely how Mariel saw herself entering Bevelle. Really, under any circumstances.

Someone would have to be crazy to enter a wedding in Bevelle by sliding down cables from an airship fly-by, and Mariel has never considered herself crazy. She is an herbalist, a florist. She likes to grow flowers, to sit in the sun and read, to help people with her hands or her medicines.

And yet here she is. She talked to Marivel, among other people. She heard the truth about the Summoners and their Pilgrimage. She wants Yuna free. Mariel has every reason to be here - more, she wants to *be* here. She just doesn't... precisely want to *get* here.

Mariel does not shriek. The sound she makes is more like an extended squeak as she tries to less slide or skate and more climb down the cables. But this is a recipe for failure; she is holding up the people behind her, and she has to keep trying to pick up the pace. She ends up trying to crawl - and begins to slide without meaning to.

Gripping the cable with her thankfully gloved hands (no rope burn), Mariel dangles as she slides down. She isn't actually shot by the YAT-99s, but one hits the cable she's hanging on, and several of the cords the cable is made of snap, bending the entire cable dangerously and causing her to her drop faster.

"Aaah!" Oh, there's the scream - as Mariel's slide accelerates further, nearly slamming into another cable, it just kind of slips out. She ends up dropping about ten feet, hitting the temple steps painfully.

ow

Mariel does not come up shooting. She doesn't have a weapon. She instead rises only to her knees and checks - yes, she still has her bag, and she has the healing herbs in it, which she pulls out a bundle of and lights. The smoke is revitalizing, an almost peppery incense, and seems to have little flecks of light in it. She's not really *aiming* it - it blows where the wind blows it - but it does mostly go up, toward the cables and ropes.

GS: Mariel has attacked Mariel with Healing Herb!
GS: Mariel has attacked Seraph Boudicca with Healing Herb!
GS: Mariel has attacked Lunata Croze with Healing Herb!
GS: Mariel has attacked Shalune Amira with Healing Herb!
GS: Mariel has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
GS: Mariel heals Lunata Croze! She gains 125 temporary hit points!
Seraph Harmaus(#1324PenACc)
Those who ever did know Harmaus would have known him in another form than this.

        To all appearances, the form he now takes is that of a human man -- Drifter, by the look of his garb -- of
roughly middling years with a short but scraggly grey-streaked brown beard.

In this appearance, he dresses rather simply: greying shirt, long dark-brown jacket, tattered black pants, scuffed and
well-worn low leather boots. A set of knives hang off the belt at his waist.

        If it weren't for the particularly keen look in the man's eyes, one might even write him off as a part of the
background noise of travellers in these parts.
Seraph Harmaus/DESCRIBE - Set.
<Pose Tracker> Rikku has posed.


"See you in a few minutes Dad!" Rikku uses bravado to hide her anxiety, as the ship circles around. Snapping her goggles down over her eyes, and adjusting a strap on a mysteriously heavy backpack she's wearing. "Once Yunie's secure - we'll be waiting for you on the other side!" She promises as the airship flanks around and she keeps one hand firmly clung to the deck.

As her eyes fall upon Yuna, there's a certain momentary thought of how beautiful a bride her cousin makes. Though it contrasts with how vile the situation truly is. She would have loved to see Yuna on her wedding day, to be there cheering her on. Not crashing it to steal her away from a murderous Unsent Maester.

Ducking her head as the cables fire, she immediately gets into formation to start the slide down them. Charging down full speed, whooping from excitement and the adrenaline rush, "YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Sometimes she actually is her father's daughter. Trying to leap from one wire to another to avoid the cannon fire causes her to almost overcompensate and fall off...

Before the cables converge, and she nearly crashes into Ida and the others. "Whoof - Ida - I'm doing it in three... two..." And she launches herself off the cable. Marivel's magic seizes hold, and she's able to stick the landing slightly better, and hits the ground running. Undoing a strap of her pack, she hurls it at the crowd of Warrior Monks and Machina cannons.

"Cbaleym Tamejano! Uha Al Bhed Fattehk Kevd vun dra Knuus yht Kiacdc!!"

The pack flies into the crowd ahead before there's the sharp sound of glass cracking multiple times... an eerie precursor to the chain of explosions that then goes off just after.

Toxic vile secretions splatter everywhere as gas fills the air and the disgusting scent of Morbol Bile. The stains of the explosion acting as a corrosive as she sets off the improvised biological weapons into the main throng of the warrior monks and Machina.

"And a wedding to stop!" She adds to Tidus' statement, charging forward after him and the other Guardians at the sound of his rallying cry.


[SYSTEM] Your current Description has been saved as 'MeatSuit1'!

GS: Rikku has activated a Force Action!
GS: Rikku has attacked Seymour Guado with Mix: Hazardous Shell!
GS: Rikku has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Rikku has completed her action.
GS: Mariel heals Seraph Boudicca! She gains 125 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lan Lilac has posed.

    It's not like Lan has ever met Yuna. Even the last time she helped to interrupt a wedding, she was only there to protect their equipment. She didn't fight; she wasn't ordered to. She got to eat a stolen piece of wedding cake at some point during the chaos.

    Things have changed a lot, in the months since Lan last set foot in Spira. Lan has changed. But not, to her, in the ways that matter.

    The silver ribbon tying her hair back sparkles in the light of the sun and the pyreflies, reflecting a rainbow of muted colors as she draws on the magic stored inside of it for an extra bit of grace under fire... and leaps out onto the cables, the leather fringe of her top and the tail of her long braid snapping in the wind.

    It just... makes her angry, is all. Something deeper than the righteous fury she thought she should feel at the idea of a forced wedding. She tries to not think about it.

    And as soon as she gathers enough speed, she can't think about it at all. The cable quakes and shudders, and she adjusts her footing. She ducks underneath and somersaults away from cannon fire. The converging paths and her fellow party crashers get a split second reaction - Lan jumps, floating weightlessly for long seconds despite knowing she's just made herself a target--

    Forming a circle with her fingers, the shaman from Little Firelight peers through it, trying to catch as many of the guardsmen as possible in her 'sights'.

    Lights twinkle in the sky, high above even the pyreflies, a quiet 'shiiiing' growing closer... A hailstorm of diamonds showers down on the wedding party, embedding themselves in armor, flesh, and balcony alike.

GS: Lan Lilac has activated a Force Action!
GS: Lan Lilac has attacked Seymour Guado with Meteorain!
GS: Lan Lilac has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lan Lilac has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

Elly heard the tale of Yuna's impending fate.

And while it is, perhaps, not her business - not her affair, other than gratitude for Cid and his airship assisting her, saving the people who she loves (including, perhaps, herself) - she remembers also a time when Yuna, the summoner, was there for her, some dirty half-stunned woman from another planet.

And something about this entire situation, on a profound, inner level, bothers her. And that is why she is here, even if the Black Wolves, for the most part, are not. She also, of course, has something to share now that she did not have when the summoner saved her.

Her passion?
Her fear?
Her hope?
Her dreams?

All of those, yes, but that something additional that she can do now that she could not do then is -

There is an airburst of an explosion directly behind Elly up in the Fahrenheit as she hurls herself downwards, leaning forwards with her hands spread. (Elly is still wearing the battered military surplus jacket from the Karlsefni and the blue-and-white striped top, but underneath that is some Al Bhed diving leggings and calf-length boots. Also, her hair is tied up.)

That burst is trebled in force by the will of Armitage, that force driving in behind Elly. There is something about this that is different from -- something; this, Elly thinks. Is this courage, with others? Is it truly courage if you aren't alone? Or is it just a sign, Elly thinks as she slides ahead viciously down along her wife, that she might have to go even further?

Then a YAT-99 blasts the cable she's on, which snaps unceremoniously, whipping Elly up into the sky.

...

... and then there is another of those air-fueled BURSTS above her - and a second one a moment later - and she bicycle-kicks at the air, heart pounding as everything telescopes into a glittering state of hyper-reality in which all the inner worries are silenced --

-- and she lands on a cable again, having lost half a pound in sheer terror sweat but not in blood or flesh. Only the ringing in the ears from this recently funnovated technique lingers. Elly skids out on the last approach, sprawling for a moment and avoiding road rash mostly thanks to the diving pants - but she pops upwards.

Other people are pleading. Elly does not feel like pleading. Spinning round her metal staff and resting it against the small of her back she raises up her right palm upwards and sucks in a breath, lets it out, takes in another. The line is before them. She imagines the space in her mind. There is a tension in the ground, a faint feeling that makes the hair stand on end... which then vanishes:

And turns into a screaming sheet of fire!! The fire itself does scream as air is tormented; the typical furnace-glow colors spike upwards into an intense blue that fire does not typically or comfortably assume as Elly raises her hand upwards, the sheet spreading out into a V momentarily before the Ether formation dissipates and Elly exhales.

"I won't let them," Elly says, and if it's an open ended statement -- well; she has other things on her mind. As a general statement, it works.

GS: Elhaym van Houten has attacked Seymour Guado with Thermo Incinerate!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    As the Fahrenheit crests over Bevelle, Ida takes a moment to study the grand vista below. Bevelle is unlike anything she's seen in Spira--a metropolis of a scale she'd thought impossible, thanks to Sin. Not even the damage from the siege can obliterate its grandeur. Cid barks his orders. Ida clings tenaciously to a metal bar near the deployment hatch, and braces.

    This is madness, she thinks to herself. This has to be one of the worst ways that one can drop into an active combat zone. Then Ida reminds herself that she spent entirely too long clinging to a Solarian gear and maneuvering through the falling wreckage of the Warwing. She survived that. She'll survive this.

    The heiress looks at her two companions near the boarding hatch--Rikku and Azoth. "Ready?" she says. "I'll go first, and shield you from the worst of it." She sees those ranks of Warrior-Monks arrayed down there, with their rifles. She feels the Fahrenheit shudder as Yevon's automatons start raining fire upon them. Be strong, Ida reminds herself

    The deck shudders again, this time as Cid fires the harpoons. Ida watches the cables trail out into the distance, the harpoons smashing into the brick of Bevelle's walls.

    "Go! Go! Go!" Ida shouts. She throws the hatch open, and heaves herself out into the rushing air. Her feet catch the trailing wire, green sparks igniting beneath her soles to help her balance. Ida spreads her arms, and silvery-red stem tissue flows out around them, forming gauntlets--aerodynamically-shaped, like the improvised 'wings' she used to keep herself aloft as the Warwing broke apart. As the YAT-99s open fire, Ida pulls her body into a tight coil, like a downhill skiier--the aerodynamic plates on her arms fold inwards, forming shields. A blast passes close enough to singe her hair. Another strikes the cable ahead, causing it to whip back and forth. Ida grits her teeth and leaps, landing on the cable next to it; it's an awkward jump, and something twists in her ankle. She's forced to leap again near the end, and this time her jump carries her onto the terrace proper in a single, sky-spanning arc.

5t"YUNAAAAAA!" Ida's voice rips free from her throat as she flies towards her dear friend, and the man standing next to her. It wasn't so long ago that Yuna came to her rescue, restoring her senses when she needed them most. It's time to return the favor.

    At the height of her jump, Ida raises both fists. Her aura flares brilliant gold-white, encasing the inner core of #-1 FUNCTION (ANSI) EXPECTS 2 ARGUMENTS BUT GOT 1.

    The circumstances are wholly alien to him. Yet, the concept of being arrayed against a small army is intimately familiar to him.

    Her goal stands before her. Her friends stand beside her. With these two elements in place, nothing can stand in her way.

    #-1 ARGUMENT OUT OF RANGEa brings both fists down in what amounts to a double axe handle; Marivel's power infuses her, causing the sudden surge of lifeforce to erupt that much more violently. The air itself roars its displeasure as a violent shockwave slams into the Warrior-Monks, the force of Ida's inner energy brought to bear in the most unsubtle way possible.

    The style of the Demon Fist was never subtle.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    As the Fahrenheit crests over Bevelle, Ida takes a moment to study the grand vista below. Bevelle is unlike anything she's seen in Spira--a metropolis of a scale she'd thought impossible, thanks to Sin. Not even the damage from the siege can obliterate its grandeur. Cid barks his orders. Ida clings tenaciously to a metal bar near the deployment hatch, and braces.

    This is madness, she thinks to herself. This has to be one of the worst ways that one can drop into an active combat zone. Then Ida reminds herself that she spent entirely too long clinging to a Solarian gear and maneuvering through the falling wreckage of the Warwing. She survived that. She'll survive this.

    The heiress looks at her two companions near the boarding hatch--Rikku and Azoth. "Ready?" she says. "I'll go first, and shield you from the worst of it." She sees those ranks of Warrior-Monks arrayed down there, with their rifles. She feels the Fahrenheit shudder as Yevon's automatons start raining fire upon them. Be strong, Ida reminds herself

    The deck shudders again, this time as Cid fires the harpoons. Ida watches the cables trail out into the distance, the harpoons smashing into the brick of Bevelle's walls.

    "Go! Go! Go!" Ida shouts. She throws the hatch open, and heaves herself out into the rushing air. Her feet catch the trailing wire, green sparks igniting beneath her soles to help her balance. Ida spreads her arms, and silvery-red stem tissue flows out around them, forming gauntlets--aerodynamically-shaped, like the improvised 'wings' she used to keep herself aloft as the Warwing broke apart. As the YAT-99s open fire, Ida pulls her body into a tight coil, like a downhill skiier--the aerodynamic plates on her arms fold inwards, forming shields. A blast passes close enough to singe her hair. Another strikes the cable ahead, causing it to whip back and forth. Ida grits her teeth and leaps, landing on the cable next to it; it's an awkward jump, and something twists in her ankle. She's forced to leap again near the end, and this time her jump carries her onto the terrace proper in a single, sky-spanning arc.

    "YUNAAAAAA!" Ida's voice rips free from her throat as she flies towards her dear friend, and the man standing next to her. It wasn't so long ago that Yuna came to her rescue, restoring her senses when she needed them most. It's time to return the favor.

    At the height of her jump, Ida raises both fists. Her aura flares brilliant gold-white, encasing the inner core of fire..

    The circumstances are wholly alien to him. Yet, the concept of being arrayed against a small army is intimately familiar to him.

    Her goal stands before her. Her friends stand beside her. With these two elements in place, nothing can stand in her way.

    #-1 ARGUMENT OUT OF RANGEa brings both fists down in what amounts to a double axe handle; Marivel's power infuses her, causing the sudden surge of lifeforce to erupt that much more violently. The air itself roars its displeasure as a violent shockwave slams into the Warrior-Monks, the force of Ida's inner energy brought to bear in the most unsubtle way possible.

    The style of the Demon Fist was never subtle.

GS: Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from Jacqueline Barber's Mystic Haywire Draught for 0 hit points!
GS: Weaken! applied to Seymour Guado!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Seymour Guado with Dynamic Entry!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
GS: Seymour Guado critically Guards a hit from Rikku's Mix: Hazardous Shell for 32 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: CRITICAL! Seymour Guado critically Guards a hit from Lan Lilac's Meteorain for 29 hit points!
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Lulu's Blizzara for 93 hit points!
GS: Seymour Guado critically Guards a hit from Elhaym van Houten's Thermo Incinerate for 38 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan did not know it until just now, but he has wanted all his life to slide down a bouncing, dancing wire under heavy enemy fire.

Hey, what? He doesn't judge your dreams.

And so, as he glides down the wire, his eyes are alight with the thrill of the descent.

The cable beneath him tenses, then snaps upward. He loses contact for a moment, sailing over thin air before finding the wire again beneath his feet, throwing his arms out until his balance holds.

A cannon blast flies past, too close for comfort; he decides to ride out the accompanying heatwave, sliding down to where the wires begin to cross, and jumping from one to the next. At this point, he begins to run afoul of the gunfire, taking some grazing shots as he finally gets bounced from the end of the wire and comes to a hard, but mostly solid landing.

He hears Mariel's scream and quickly maneuvers over to where she fell, trying to position himself between her and some of the chaos as he gathers up sparkling stars into his hands and releases them into the crowd, where they begin detonating in small explosions.

"I will try to cover you, if you don't mind!" he offers, though he's already kind of doing it.

GS: Ivan spends 1 Combo on Gatling, loading 1 into Gatling!
GS: Ivan has attacked Seymour Guado with Stars of Fury!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Seymour Guado critically Guards a hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Dynamic Entry for 23 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

Even with her best sandals on, Lemina absolutely, utterly, completely hates this insertion method and wishes she had her carpet with her. She has *just* enough dignity to avoid loudly declaring how much she hates this, but she does, in fact, hate it.

(Nimue, conversely, is having the time of her life sliding down the cables until such time as she gets blasted with a cannon while trying to stunt and falls directly off.)

In spite of not particularly liking this, Lemina does fine; she gets grazed by a few stray shots from the Warrior Monks, and her cable is one of the wobblier ones... but she makes it to the bottom pretty well intact, albeit with a bit of a thud sound. "Oofh, I'm... not doing that one again," Lemina says, surprisingly *not* mega-hating it. It could have been worse!

All truths told, Lemina is mostly here because of momentum -- she actually doesn't know that much about Yuna, or Seymour, or Spira! She's just kind of caught up in the moment. Then again, that's how all of the best things in Lemina's life happen, so that's probably fine.

She decides to escalate immediately, rather than hold anything back; there's defintiely a sense of a time crunch here, and Lemina's already feeling fairly hurt by her descent down the cables. Accordingly, no sooner has she landed than does she start a low, quiet chant -- terminating in the very intelligible, "Flare Vortex!"

Needless to say, this -- 'this' being a giant spiral of flame aimed primarily at the artillery -- goes a long way toward making things a total, chaotic nightmare. It's what Lemina does best.

GS: Lemina Ausa has attacked Seymour Guado with Flare Vortex!
GS: Lemina Ausa has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Azoth has posed.

Azoth's never seen a wedding before. Ordinarily, everything about the display would have him overclocking in excitement, trying to take in every new piece of stimulation and record data cultural, social, and emotional all at once. But this isn't an ordinary wedding. It isn't even, as far as he understands, a good wedding. The bride walks with resolve, not joy. Or is it resignation?

Perhaps the cruelty of organic 'choice' is that those can both be the same thing. Azoth struggles with his own definition of what it means to choose. He is a construct. A machine. He follows instructions. It seems self evident that organics aren't meant to be built like that. And yet... revoke enough options, and maybe it's practically the same as an override.

He hates it. If 'saving' someone is giving them back their choices, then exec.gehn OPTIMIZATION -- the only logical thing is to go all in.

Ida goes first, but Azoth is in immediate pursuit. His eyes glow and soften with adjustment to light and speed, whirring as he re-calibrates rapidly as he skates across the cable. Speed picks up, and familiarity takes over. This is so much better than walking. Azoth leans in, gaining speed, and producing a shield in front of himself to soak in incoming fire before the cables snap and force him to leap and twist through the air. He lands with more momentum, and lets it take him.

He might be enjoying his newfound speed a little too much, and in the final leap, sails wildly high with no way to stop himself. With a crash and mechanical whine of his joints, he rolls across the ground and into the fray, popping up with an explosion of power to help get him back on his feet and then some. "S-Sorry! Coming through!"

He looks not unlike a dolphin leaping from the waves, if the waves were a lot of men with guns.

GS: Azoth spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Azoth has attacked Seymour Guado with Hello World!
GS: Azoth has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Azoth has completed his action.
GS: Mariel heals Shalune Amira! She gains 125 temporary hit points!
GS: Mariel heals Mariel! She gains 125 temporary hit points!
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Ivan's Stars of Fury for 192 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
You are no longer marked as an observer in +pot.
GS: CRITICAL! Seymour Guado critically Guards a hit from Lemina Ausa's Flare Vortex for 45 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    i will save you if you will save us all, Filgaia whispers.

    let me kill you and your blood will slake our thirst, Spira murmurs.

    And Lunar, arms spread wide...

    What myriad patterns weave the universe! What fascination in a veil! What glory hems the worlds of Man, glittering and gilt!

    Is it possible to feel anger at the duality of worlds? What negative space fills one from the other? The base inequity of what these isolated islands demand?

    Consider the veil. From above it is visible, falling over Yuna's features; from above the Seraph Boudicca bears witness. A bouquet rises to the sky; petals scatter. Statuesque and stately, her expression is carved to iron, too.

    "Go. The wind carries you."

    And it does. For all the air currents ought to be a problem, zipping down those cables - the wind always seems to be at someone's back. Boudicca is movement, dancing from one cable to another. She intercedes herself, in the instance of some bullets which would land inopportune, jumping forward to meet them.

    It is, of course, distracting. But when Avril slips and falls, she'll find a buoy of air to catch her on the ground, at least. The float cantrip may save her bones - even if Boudicca can't jump down to save her from the soldiers.

    Her faith is in her. Her faith is in them all.

    And theirs, in her, Marivel's Booster wrapping around her and abjuring another broadside from the machina. She springs forward on the wires; she keeps coasting.

    If the situation were different, she really would be enjoying herself. It's a shame all the free-falling she's doing these days is tied to such grievous complications.

    Through Mariel's smoke - and Boudicca knows the revitalisation of smoke well, these days - and she lands. "Thank you," she calls, to Elw - to Crimson Noble; "both of you." She will include them with each other. This is the privilege of outsider arts.

    Or, perhaps, of Otherworlder Artes.

    Because Boudicca rises to her full height - she stands six feet before the heels, before the horns - and draws with a sweep of her arm a grand Seraphic glyph at her feet, a light green glow to colour the pale steel of her armour.

    "Howling Gale," she invokes, with no preamble.

    And the wind screams. It screams around her in a vortex, and it forces its way out, in massive boom which threatens the footing of so many soldiers. It is the overwhelming might of a spirit not constrained by mortal considerations. Not all of its victims are greenhorns. The anger of her air pushes at the veteran Gon Guado - and the stolen body of Harmaus.

    "You," she addresses the latter, "stand on the wrong side."

GS: Seraph Boudicca has activated a Force Action!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Seymour Guado with Howling Gale!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Gon Guado with Howling Gale!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Seraph Harmaus with Howling Gale!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has completed her action.
GS: Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from Azoth's Hello World for 166 hit points!
GS: Poison! applied to Seymour Guado!
<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

THIS WAS THE PLAN!?

Cecilia trots up to the edge next to the harpoon wire with eyes the size of dinner plates. No. This is insane. Absolutely not! HELL no!!!

Behind her, the Al Bhed overseeing the operation makes a noise that is not the words, 'Ah, one of these,' but BOY it felt like them. He very gently leans forward, grins at her, pats her on the back, and--

PUSHES

"SBAVJKL;ADVNKL;ASNV;LA AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH"

Cecilia, to her tremendous credit, actually does manage to hold her balance for a little bit by listening to the whispers of the wind, before a YAT-99 immediately sends her flying ass over teakettle to the city below. OH NO!!!

ONE FADE TRANSITION LATER:

Cecilia stumbles to her feet on the rooftop, throwing a high sign and calling back, "Thanks, Jack!" before huffing for several breaths, protected from instant death by the sheer volume of people hitting the ground. She charges in a few moments later, but doesn't really get all THAT far. Ida's screaming for Yuna, Yuna's friends are screaming for Yuna, and Cecilia settles for challening an army alone. She slips two things out of her Crest Case, and they start orbiting her body counterpointing each other; one, a large Medium. The other, a Crest Graph. She...doesn't do this trick much...but.......

She focuses, intently. First, the Medium, an icon of a shining star flickering, crackling, and then bursting apart, a beam of light soaring skyward and then vwomping out into a wide portal in the sky. "Material," she breathes, and grabs the Crest Graph. She aims it up. "So many machines. Maybe this will thin them out a bit." The Crest Graph circle forms around the chit of stone, muse and wing sparking around each other before firing a crackling arc of lightning up into the portal, which suddenly closes. Well, that didn't do much.

MEANWHILE, IN ORBIT:

Rigdobrite shines with re-entry fire as he turns and whirls in the sky, and then arrests his own descent, thrusting arms and legs out and opening a dozen other portals in the sky, each of which feeds into others, a massive Ley feedback routine whirling around him. Then,

        "Star Prism!!"

The portal appear directly above the battlefield, firing PILLARS of electrical power down into the soldiers and machina!

"Sorry," Cecilia murmurs, as the summoned Guardian flickers away, and the smell of ionized air fills the scene. "I know when asking first won't gert me anywhere."

GS: Gon Guado critically Guards a hit from Seraph Boudicca's Howling Gale for 31 hit points!
GS: Gon Guado's Force Guard activates!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Seymour Guado with Material - Star Prism!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Harmaus takes a solid hit from Seraph Boudicca's Howling Gale for 154 hit points!
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Seraph Boudicca's Howling Gale for 90 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

    Shalune is one of the very few people not sliding down the wires, because she's just been riding on a dang airship of all things and she figures - in her rather biased sort of way - that that means that all bets are off when it comes to the use of technology on Spira.

    * * *

    (Cid has already had to haul her out of the engine room twice, then post Brother on guard at the door, then haul both of them out of the engine room because despite a complete language barrier, Shalune had somehow managed to convince the Al Bhed pilot that some upgrades would make for a totally sweet speed boost.)

    * * *

    So instead she's riding atop the Little Dipper, the craft a high-speed glint of white streaking through the open air, topped by a shock of pink as her hair streams behind her. She whoops from both the joy of flight and the sheer adrenaline of the situation they're in, sweeping in wide circles before rolling the craft to one side in a sudden lunge to try to dodge a hail of cannon fire.

    Emphasis on 'try'. Bevelle is not lightly defended, and it's clear that Shalune is actively delaying any kind of landing and instead doing her best to be as loud and annoying as possible, peppering several of the defences with shotstaff fire to draw their ire before purposefully swinging around to try to draw several of the cannon's targeting away from the wires and the Fahrenheit.

    What that actually means is that she yelps as both she and the bottom of her craft come under sustained fire, and she's forced to duck down to try to take cover in the bed of the scooter, more worried about the 'pock pock pock' of rounds hitting the Little Dipper than she is her own safety - after all, getting knocked out of the sky is probably going to hurt a hell of a lot more than anything else.

    She's forced into a snap-second decision when sparks race across the base of the scooter, grits her teeth for an instant, then rises up to stamp on the back of the Little Dipper's bed, the impact abruptly pivoting it upwards into a sudden climb. Almost immediately, the craft stalls - and she heaves it around with an effort, using the maneuver to turn a sudden climb into a sudden fall directly for the Church's gigantic staircase, and one of the emplacements set up along it.

    "Seymour! I'm not gonna forgive you!" she yells to whoever chooses to listen, wrenching the Little Dipper around into a violent spin as she dives, accompanied by a hail of shotstaff fire that scatters across the stone.

    There's clearly not enough time or space left to pull up from the abortive maneuver - but that's the entire point. Rather than even try, Shalune instead flings herself off at the last moment, tucking in to shield herself from the impact of the Little Dipper against a YAT-99 and the ensuing explosion that engulfs the squad of Yevonites afterwards.

    What is doesn't prevent is her being blown back across the staircase, slamming heavily into one of the railings dangerously clear to the edge. She lolls to one side, seeing only open sky beneath her, and muzzily wonders if the dizziness she's feeling is the height or a concussion. Fortunately, it's quickly replaced by a warm and comforting sensation - and she looks up and blinks her eyes clear to the sight of Mariel, offering her a grin in thanks before she hauls herself to her feet with a look of determined anger.

    Which instantly fades as she desperately tries to take stock of the situation, looking around wildly - and catching sight of one of her best friends earnestly doing her best to do the right thing. She's so proud of Lunata, she thinks, and then 'oh hell' as her feet start to move.

GS: Shalune Amira spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Formation! Shalune Amira has attacked Seymour Guado with Storm on the Wind!
GS: Shalune Amira has launched an attack Link!
GS: Shalune Amira's  stance ends. She enters the Avenger stance!
GS: Formation! Shalune Amira has attacked Seymour Guado with Soaring Clouds!
GS: Shalune Amira has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Shalune Amira's Avenger stance ends.
GS: Shalune Amira has completed her action.
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Cecilia Adlehyde's Material - Star Prism for 179 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Shalune Amira's Storm on the Wind for 114 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Shalune Amira's Soaring Clouds for 129 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

Seymour only glances back. The half-Guado Maester stares down for a moment. Then, he looks at Gon, then Biggs and Wedge. He nods his head once at the three of them. "Make sure that we are not interrupted," he commands. "Kinoc, I'll leave command of the situation to you."

"Yeah," Kinoc says. "Got it."

He looks down, watching as they land. Tidus is at their lead -- and Kinoc's eyes narrow, before holds a hand out towards an attendant. He issues a simple command: "Rifle."

One is placed in his hand. The older Maester shoulders it, draws a bead quickly, and then a gunshot rings out. One of oh-so-many gunshots, but this one flies down the stairs. It comes just as the first group of soldiers is barreled through. They scatter about Tidus, before the expertly-fired rifle shot fires down for his leg.

The Warrior Monks are already backing up, running up the stairway. They make a fighting retreat -- their firing line sending bullets whizzing by. Some fly by heads or strike stone, sending up sprays of sparks; others are more true.

Marivel finds a shot hurtling towards her -- and so does Lulu, even as her blast of ice sends them scattering. A blitzball knocks another over not a moment later. Another turns his rifle up onto Lunata and readies a shot -- but then she comes down, kicking him down to slam into the ground. Another, as he backs up, fires a shot off at Mariel.

Rikku's pack flies, and lands down amidst the Warrior Monks. It lands with evaporating liquid, hurled by Jacqueline. They shout, howl, and scream -- and start bolting away. But the airborne machina are not done, either -- a YAT-99 swings around, trails of pyreflies forming contrails in its wake. One cannon-arm swivels down, and fires a blast for the Al Bhed's back. Then, as the fleeing Warrior Monks are pelted by Lan's ice, it swings to a stop.

Both cannons swivel down -- aim for her -- and two shots fire straight downward for her.

Elly's flames send them fleeing into the ramps that lead into wings. This is when two huge, armless machina drop down. Their legs are immense, though. It stomps forward, then leaps, and comes crashing down -- not on Elly, but the stairs, and the shockwave may well pitch her to her feet.

Ida descends, not into the parted Warrior Monks, but that robot. She slams into its head, the machina's armor crumpling, but then it lifts a massive foot -- and does a massive kick at her just as rebounds from it.

Ivan's sparks and stars explode outward, the blast of fire hurtling into rebounding Warrior Monks. They are cast aside -- and then a huge, spiralling flame vortex explodes under the machina that kicked at Ida.

It is blown sky high, falling down into the city with a clatter below. Up high, though, Lemina spots something -- a trio of Yevonites, wearing robes, that make the somatic motions with their hands that she may know. The Blessing of Althena exists even in Spira, though its forms are different.

Which is when a rain of ice comes flying down, huge shards of it slamming down for Lemina -- and then more for Ivan, a little behind her.

Another of them spots Azoth. They see him, at first, by his wake -- a trio of flattened Warrior Monks that he leaps away from -- and then the robot rising in the air, glowing eyes trailing after. This one makes a few motions -- and then four balls of flame explode off their fingertips, flying and weaving through the air, before rushing at Azoth.

More Warrior Monks are hurtled back by the wind that Boudicca summons. Then, they run, as the blasts of electrical energy from Rigdobrite rain down. However, others are not perturbed: a Guado Guardian leaps down, from a high jump, and slashes down with a martial artist's claws across the princess. "Die, Otherworlder!"

More Guado Guardians run behind that first one. Before they get too close, though, the Little Dipper comes crashing down with a YAT-99. The machina explodes; the little Dipper smashes down into their midst, scattering them. They dart away.

Up above, Biggs Guado cracks his neck, then heft his broadsword. He looks towards his brother in arms. "Ready?"

"Another day, another dead human," Wedge Guado laughs. A few clerics near them look nervous.

"Hold on a second," Kinoc says. He looks back. "Get the new models ready! Let's give these Filgaians a taste of their own medicine, eh?"

Biggs leans over and whispers to Wedge: "What the hell is a Filgaian?"

"I dunno." Wedge shrugs.

GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Tidus with Kinoc - Leg Aim!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Marivel Armitage with Warrior Monk - Machina Rifle!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Lulu with Warrior Monk - Machina Rifle!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Mariel with Warrior Monk - Machina Rifle!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Rikku with YAT-99 - Cannon!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Lan Lilac with YAT-99 - Double Cannon!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Elhaym van Houten with YKT-63 - Body Blow!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with YKT-63 - Thrust Kick!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Ivan with Yevonite Cleric - Blizzara!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Lemina Ausa with Yevonite Cleric - Blizzara!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Azoth with Yevonite Cleric - Fira!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with Guado Guardian - Claw Strike!
GS: Seymour Guado takes 20 damage from Poison!
GS: Seymour Guado has completed his action.
GS: Marivel Armitage guards a hit from Seymour Guado's Warrior Monk - Machina Rifle for 88 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Rikku completely evades a hit from Seymour Guado's YAT-99 - Cannon!
GS: Mighty! applied to Seymour Guado!
GS: Lemina Ausa guards a hit from Seymour Guado's Yevonite Cleric - Blizzara for 93 hit points!
GS: Mariel guards a hit from Seymour Guado's Warrior Monk - Machina Rifle for 90 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey completely evades a hit from Seymour Guado's YKT-63 - Thrust Kick!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde guards a hit from Seymour Guado's Guado Guardian - Claw Strike for 84 hit points!
GS: Cripple! applied to Cecilia Adlehyde!
GS: Lulu takes a solid hit from Seymour Guado's Warrior Monk - Machina Rifle for 151 hit points!
GS: Lulu enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Tidus takes a glancing hit from Seymour Guado's Kinoc - Leg Aim for 59 hit points!
GS: Slow! applied to Tidus!
GS: Tidus's Force Evade activates!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Azoth guards a hit from Seymour Guado's Yevonite Cleric - Fira for 87 hit points!
GS: Azoth's Force Guard activates!
<Pose Tracker> Gon Guado has posed.

    The pyreflies surrounding some of the Guado Guardians start to whirl together and take shape into yellowish, spherical creatures notably bearing a single large eye and a mouth to match (in terms of being large, and also being large with teeth) - an unwelcome sight. Now there are Fiends in play! Fiends, whose presence should see this devolve into a three-way battle between the Drifter forces, Yevon, and the restless dead of Spira.
     ...But the Yevon forces do not react negatively to this Fiend presence. A phenomenon that may have been forgotten in the months that have passed. It would seem that some among Yevon know how to create Fiends directly. Specifically... the Guado.
     Somehow, in all of this, Gon's aggravation builds. "...Lunata, is it?" Gon asks, not looking at her directly given the novel angle she has approached from. "I find it most peculiar you would say Maester Seymour is 'Bad News' when I bear witness to you and your own descending from an Al Bhed machina." There is a distinct lack of 'it is good/nice to see you.' The tone of his voice has not changed from when he helped see her to the Farplane in which to investigate her state of undeath.
     "Belize is seeing to those uncouth Althena savages.." He stops as Jay hurls orange sparkles that catch in one of his gauntlets - around the wrist, involving a chain mechanism he can't employ now. 'Please, you have to stop!' Jay screams.
     Gon, somehow, is in the position to put himself in her way as she lands and is only mildly unphased by her coming down hot in that he brings a heavy gauntlet defensively in front of himself.
     "I do not recall any of you choosing to honor our wishes for you to cease meddling in our affairs," he condescends towards Jay. He may be one of the most unwelcome sights given the way he treated her from basically the very jump. "Indeed, I see you are working now in tandem with the meddlers... making such impudent demands on this most important of days for all of us."
     A howling gale sweeps through the ranks. Jay's sabotaging solution only caught in one of his gauntlets. The other grapples into one of the steps as he holds on and weathers the storm of a Wind Seraph's scorn. A Guado body is lighter and more fragile than most others, owing to their lankier, thinner builds.
     He turns to see the ruckus of Shalune crashing down not too far off. One of Lunata's friends, then. He can surmise why she's here, as the Fiends recently summoned - Ahriman types - position themselves between Boudicca and himself, as if to try and cut her off from aggressing upon the collective position a number of Guado Guardians are at.
     "I see it as no coincidence, indeed, that the Al Bhed and Althena have attacked at once," he retracts the one un-malfunctioned claw gauntlet with a whip crack of a retraction.
     "I was right to insist the Al Bhed be dealt with once and for all."
     More Fiends are summoned to replenish some of the lines in disarray as so many carve a path up the Ten Thousand Steps. Couerls, long-whiskered cat-like creatures, rush forth from the intensifying clouds of pyreflies through the focus of a pair of Guado Guardians not far off from Gon - an attempt to push them all back as he drops to that open, risky combat stance with both his arms swaying at his side with knees bent like they're on the fence as to whether they wish to crouch.

GS: Ivan critically Guards a hit from Seymour Guado's Yevonite Cleric - Blizzara for 25 hit points!
GS: Gon Guado has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Coeurls!
GS: Gon Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Gon Guado has attacked Lunata Croze with Coeurls!
GS: Gon Guado has attacked Shalune Amira with Coeurls!
GS: Gon Guado has completed his action.
GS: Lunata Croze guards a hit from Gon Guado's Coeurls for 54 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Lunata Croze enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Jacqueline Barber guards a hit from Gon Guado's Coeurls for 54 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Shalune Amira takes a solid hit from Gon Guado's Coeurls for 92 hit points!
GS: Lan Lilac takes a solid hit from Seymour Guado's YAT-99 - Double Cannon for 161 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! applied to Lan Lilac!
<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.
<SoundTracker> Yuna's Theme https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1lN_qQbW8c

Yuna startles slightly at Harmaus' appearance and passing, but when his dark gaze settles on her, she returns it with her own -- a little shaken from the sudden rush up the stairs, but with a determined, almost forceful steadiness. She recognizes Gon Guado, too, in the army carpeting the Ten Thousand Steps, and remembers defending Spira alongside him; to see him preparing to wreak violence in her unwanted defense, now, is a small, fierce grief that she'll live with forever. It's true of all the soldiers, Guado and Yevonite alike, really. She knows well what a symbol she's been to them.

(Well, not all of them. Biggs and Wedge care nothing for her as a person, which is paradoxically comforting right now.)

But her attention is drawn like a lodestone to the ones dropping out of the very sky.

Yuna has never seen the Fahrenheit, or an airship in Spiran airspace at all. She recognizes it instantly as Al Bhed -- not because it's a thousand-year-old forbidden machina attacking Bevelle -- but because it is beautiful, beautiful in a way that she had a tragically short time to internalize. The reds and violets and golds are unmistakably evocative of Home.

And she knows who is going to pour out of it before they do.

It doesn't make sense. After all, it was the Al Bhed who TOOK her from her Guardians, from her Otherworlder friends. Their alliance now isn't something she calmly analyzes; she doesn't understand it at all. She just knows because she knows -- because she knows them.

They are who they are. Of course they'd be here. Of course they'd come for her.

She does not cry, but her eyes turn liquid with a raw, unmistakable distress that no amount of cosmetology can disguise, and no amount of willpower can suppress.

"Out of the way! Guardians comin' through! C'mon, everybody! We've got a Summoner to save!!"
"And a wedding to stop!"
"Forward!"

Her body simply reacts, viscerally, to the appearance of her family, her friends, her loved ones; it cares nothing of resolve. She swallows the heart suddenly pounding in her throat, a heart that pounds with joy and terror and gratitude and dismay.

"It's nice, Ana..."
"I've got to tell you something--"
"You have to stop this!"
"I won't let them."
"YUNAAAAAA!"
"I will try to cover you, if you don't mind!"
"S-Sorry! Coming through!"
"You stand on the wrong side."
"Sorry, I know when asking first won't get me anywhere."
"Seymour! I'm not gonna forgive you!"

Some of these people she knows well, and counts among her dearest companions; virtually all of them, she's fought alongside, or healed from grievous wounds, at one time or another, whether in Spira or on Filgaia or both; one or two are complete strangers -- yet not so strange at all. The Otherworlders showed her who they are long ago, and that people she does not know would risk themselves in a spectacularly dangerous descent to the heart of an enemy's power for her sake is movingly unsurprising.

They are who they are, these Otherworlders.

And she is who she is, too.

Her feet move without her knowledge; whether she would deny them her consent is, therefore, irrelevant. With a stricken expression, she takes one step, then a second, towards the edge of the dais. Towards the battle.

Towards them all.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    A breeze of medicinal healing wafts through the air and for a moment, Lunata flails like she's going to get severely injured by it -- but it heals her nonetheless, and she turns and gives a thumbs-up to Mariel. "Take care of yourself, okay?"

    There's a wince of her chin as she looks up to Jacqueline, and she gives a cheesy grin towards her. "Well, I didn't stack the landing, but..."

    As Shalune descends on down with approximate atomic force, she faces Gon again.

    "You have no idea what's happened since Macalania!" Lunata shouts. "Listen to me! Seymour tried to create a second Sin!"

    A pause, as she shouts further to go, "Also, like, look at yourself! Look at those kicky-wicky robots your friends're using!! What the heck's the diff between that and Al Bhed machina, huh?! I--"

    Gon insists that the Al Bhed had to be dealt with once and for all.

    Lunata pauses here, and starts rubbing her head. Then she lifts her katana and draws into a combat stance, because she's only so diplomatic before her impatience and anger starts to get the better of her.

    "Will you like!"

    She gets interrupted as the Coeurls manifest, and one smashes into her and forces her back; she skids into a three-point stance, before charging back--

    "Listen to me!"

    The hapless chosen of Ge Ramtos whirls forward, the Medium within the weapon glowing, a cascade of ephemeral heliotropes showering in her wake.

    "For one second!"

    A whirl of petal-flowers rages along with her spinning strike as she brandishes her blade to the Fiend itself!

    "Instead of just going off on your gosh darn racist bull poopy!?!?"

GS: Lunata Croze enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Lunata Croze has attacked Gon Guado with Heliotrope Bouquet!
GS: Lunata Croze has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Harmaus has posed.

    Harmaus moves through the crowd of soldiers barring the path with force, like a boat cutting its way through the waves. Those who fail to make way are simply pushed aside as he advances, inexorable in his way down the stairs.

    A deal had been made, and so a deal he would keep.
    For the sake of what he must possess at any cost.

    It is into this advance that Boudicca intrudes. He pauses a moment as if to take her in. "Jaeja--"

    And, with the force of a wind that cuts through the shimmering barrier of light that forms before him, sends him sprawling flat onto the stairs. "Tcha--" growls the embodied Seraph, scrambling back to his feet. "Wrong? Wrong?! What means it by 'wrong'?" he hisses at Boudicca. Perhaps it's tit for tat as far as internecine conflict between Seraphs are concerned: light gathers in a pulsing bundle before him as he stares her down, before it erupts in a terrible cannonade of pale red-orange light, all for her.

    "Plasma String!"

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

    He does not stop there. Charging down the steps, pale light is already gathering about him as if to underscore the Seraph's sudden and terrible fury. It dances around him like a pale solar prominence, and with warning, he shouts, "Chromatic Flux!"

    Before the tendrils of light lick forward, rolling out in a wave for one of those intruders.
    As it happens, it is Marivel.

    Through the solar fire, there follows a single gunshot.

    And then Harmaus passes through that fading curtain of light and stands atop the stairs.

    "It surrenders or it dies," he says, quite simply. "Is simple decision, yes?"

GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Seraph Boudicca with Plasma String!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Marivel Armitage with Chromatic Flux!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Lan Lilac with En Pressant!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Harmaus assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has completed his action.
GS: Seraph Boudicca takes a glancing hit from Seraph Harmaus's Plasma String for 65 hit points!
GS: Seraph Boudicca's Force Evade activates!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

I hate this, Mariel thinks to herself, feeling her new bruises while she checks to make sure she has not broken a rib (she has not).

And if she hates it, what must Yuna be feeling? She likes Yuna. She can't imagine what she must be going through - not just now, today, but over the past few weeks and months. Or, she can, and that's probably worse.

Especially in the keeping of Seymour. Seymour, who called Rek'gora, the Clysmian, similar yet different to Sin itself. She was there to feel its energy. For all he might have done before or after, for that alone, Mariel fears him.

"Thank you!" she calls to Ivan, as she finally rises, holding her satchel against the front of her body like she expected it to protect her. It does not, being an assortment of cloth and with contents that are mostly flowers, herbs, bottles and jars.

She points. "I need to go that way," Mariel says, pointing up toward Seymour and Yuna and the wedding proper. "You don't need to stay with me..." (but she won't complain if he does) "...but that's where I'm going. I - look out!"

The warning was accompanied by gunfire and ice that comes dangerously close. Mariel throws herself forward, once again avoiding being shot - but she lands on her already-bruised side and gets the wind knocked out of her with a 'whoof'. When she picks herself up, it's slower, stiffer, but she's still functional enough.

Battles are chaos to Mariel. For all her age, she doesn't have the experience some Drifters do with them; her contribution has, for most of her life, been treating people who come off the fields, or sometimes still on it, but never fighting. Over the last couple years, this has changed, but it's still a lot of loud chaos and she's not great at that; her ears flatten down against her head, into her hair, as she makes up her mind.

And then Mariel starts to move. Slow at first, but picking up speed, beginning to climb those steps; there are more gunshots, more ice, more fiends, more *everything*. She can't focus on all of it or she'll go mad. She focuses on climbing instead; Mariel is short, and the steps of the Ten Thousand and One are a stretch for her small legs. They're going to feel like rubber by the time she gets much higher.

So she raises her voice when she can't raise her body. "There is a tradition!" Mariel calls, not expecting the guards to take notice of it but feeling obligated anyway. "A human wedding tradition, of Filgaia! Where objections are made! I object to - this wedding!" Mariel is already puffing for breath. "Seymour Guado! Called the Clysmian! Cousin to Sin! I saw it myself! He is - not what you think!"

Mariel puffs again, but she covers for it by reaching into her bag, grabbing a packet of powder, and scattering it in a wide arc. The powder, on skin, *itches*; on metal it begins to erode it, rusting and pitting it almost on contact. Guns, machina vehicles, even swords and spears and breastplates - it works on all of them.

GS: Mariel has attacked Seymour Guado with Smarna Weed!
GS: Mariel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
GS: Seymour Guado takes a glancing hit from Mariel's Smarna Weed for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seymour Guado gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Shieldbreak! applied to Seymour Guado!
GS: Gon Guado guards a hit from Lunata Croze's Heliotrope Bouquet for 105 hit points!
GS: Poison! applied to Gon Guado!
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Fiends! Jacqueline watches in surprise. ...But, the forces of Yevon don't seem to react. Did she know, that there were those among them who could control them? Whether she did or not, the way they react is clear enough to her now.

Jacqueline looks toward Lunata, returning her grin with a smile of her own.

"Don't worry - you looked plenty impressive." She replies reassuringly. She turns, then, toward Gon. She faintly recognizes him. He stopped by her stall once. ...He didn't leave a very good impression.

"'Meddling'? Do you mean when we tried to help when the Guard attacked Luca? You'll have to enlighten me." Jacqueline replies, then shakes her head.. "Most important of days for 'all' of us? And what does the bride think about it?"

And then, Gon says something that evaporates almost all of Jacqueline's good will. A Coeurl rushes at her - Jacqueline brings her cloak about her to protect herself from its claws, but the force of it still winds her a little. Jacqueline lashes out with her right hand, then, launcing a spear of lightning to split the Coeurl right into its component pyreflies.

It might, only just narrowly, miss Gon.

"Gon, I'm going to give you one opportunity to rephrase that statement." Jacqueline says, her tone one of strained politeness. "Did you have something to do with that?"

GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Gon Guado with Lightning Strike!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
GS: Marivel Armitage critically Guards a hit from Seraph Harmaus's Chromatic Flux for 21 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Elhaym van Houten takes a glancing hit from Seymour Guado's YKT-63 - Body Blow for 75 hit points!
GS: Elhaym van Houten's Force Evade activates!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Ida sees that last-second formation shift. She wasn't expecting a literal robot, but that's what she gets; the heiress slams into the thing's upper body, and ricochets off like a pinball. She hears the sounds of whirring servos, and sees the thing shift its stance as she backflips through the air. It draws back its leg. It's going for a kick.

    Motes of green-white light ignite around Ida's feet, and the wind picks up into a howling gale. It shoves her to the side, even as it disrupts the YKT-63's balance; the machine's massive foot whips through the air with a thunderous CRACK, missing Ida by inches. A second later, and it would've sent her flying off the wall and into the streets below.

    Ida lands in front of the robot, fists raised in a boxer's stance. "YUNA, HOLD ON!" she shouts. She has to be there for her. She has to get her out of this nightmare.

    Ida hears Mariel's voice nearby, through the chaos. It gives her an idea. "I object as well!" she shouts, "because Yuna deserves far better than some nihilistic, genocidal bastard!" Ida faces the dais, which feels like it might as well be on another planet for how far away it is.

    She points a finger directly at Seymour, as though she could blow his head off if she pointed vigorously enough.

    It grabs attention.

GS: Lan Lilac takes a glancing hit from Seraph Harmaus's En Pressant for 71 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Gon Guado guards a hit from Jacqueline Barber's Lightning Strike for 90 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

Eyes locking on those clerics, Lemina narrows her eyes and studies for a moment. "OK, there's a lot of chaff to sort --" she starts, studying the motions; she's just a little *too* interested in studying, though, and only pieces together enough to call, "ICE!" a fraction of a second before it becomes abundantly clear that she is very correct. She reaches behind herself, whipping out a parasol and putting it up in front of her, but it's a little too late to avoid *all* of the barrage.

"... Honestly, I don't know what's going on here," she says, as she discards a damaged umbrella, "beyond what Cid told us. Buuuut..." She sees no reason to hold back in the least, here; it's not like she's waiting for some more convenient moment. This is it! This is the moment!

"... It's pretty obvious that you guys are the bullies here! You're not any different from the Guard -- and I was mega-tired of that when there was just *one* of you!" Reaching behind herself, she replaces that now-discarded parasol with a staff, pointing it forward at the Yevonite clerics. There's a quick chant, and then --

"Freeze Claw!"

A bright crystal-blue swipe of ice issues forth, tapering off at the ends as it hurtles end-over-end through the air.

GS: Lemina Ausa has attacked Seymour Guado with Freeze Claw!
GS: Lemina Ausa has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lemina Ausa has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Tidus has posed.

    At the back of Team Guardians, Auron lands, his giant katana arced behind his back as his own counterweight. He's slow to stand, but his gaze and his stance have weight as well. Once this weight goes into motion, it will be difficult indeed to stop. Perhaps it's good, then, that he takes the time to take in the thousand steps and the vermilion drapery that sprawls up and over it, leading all the way up to the bride and groom--and packed, absolutely *packed*, with Yevonite soldiers armed to the gills to stop them.
    
    "Hnn. The red carpet has teeth," Auron observes. He swings his blade around, his sleeve falling off his arm as he falls into a battle stance. "We cut through!"
    
    That was a couple of minutes ago, while everyone had been landing. Now he's charging up the stairs, along with Tidus, leading the pack.
    
    As for Tidus, well, there are certain disadvantages to being the first one off and the first one up. He does catch Marivel's smile and certainly her empowering magic; he shoots her a smile back and a thumbs up in gratitude. Beyond that, though, it's forward momentum all the way, Rikku shouting agreement and Lulu urging on the troops. For one, Tidus can only assume his friends are at his back and that everyone landed safely; if anyone fell off, he doesn't know about it, because he's looking forward and only forward. For another, being at the front means there's nothing blocking the way of, say, an expert shot from a rifle aimed at his leg. He dodges to one side in time to not get a bullet lodged in bone or straight through muscle, but it does tear painfully through skin. He can still stand on it, but it hurts like the dickens, and for a moment, Tidus stumbles. For a moment, he is vulnerable to being gunned down on the spot.
    
    Then Auron catches up, his glare blazing behind his shades up at Kinoc, the man he once called his friend. He bares his blade like a promise--like a *threat*--and snarls, "You DON'T want to move!"
    
    At the very least, the Guado and other soldiers around Kinoc might get intimidated into freezing rather than pressing the attack and potentially killing Tidus on the spot. The Legendary Guardian has a certain *presence*, after all.
    
    "Thanks, Auron," Tidus pants, wobbling upright. His leg still hurts like hell, but luckily for him, he brushed up on his magic before everyone came to Bevelle. He concentrates, waves of magical essence flowing around them, and then thrusts out a hand. "Hey, Kinoc! How 'bout you douse your head in some water and repent?!" he shouts at the Maester, just before a Waterga spell surges into existence over him and floods down towards him.
    
    Above, beyond him, Yuna moves towards the edge of the stairs, as if to join the battle. Tidus spots this motion and stands up straight as he looks her way. "YUNA!" he shouts--and though chaos reigns all around them, there's no mistaking the joy in his voice, in his eyes, in his smile.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Seymour Guado with J'accuse!!!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
GS: Tidus spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Tidus has attacked Seymour Guado with Waterga!
GS: Tidus has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Marivel senses her presence, though she can't SEE her through the throng of bodies. Marivel is pretty short okay.

Nevertheless, knowing they are CLOSE only pushes Marivel harder. Though she stumbles a bit, forced to lean against her 'staff' as she pants for breath--that support she grave her friends and allies, hopefully it is enough to make a difference. A bullet SLAMS hard against her own barrier, crackling sharply before the bullet drops down to the floor before her.

She pushes herself up, straightens, a nd steps forward--intent on returning fir when--

--Boudicca's attention is drawn. Marivel's gaze follows after her. That voice. No, more that way of speaking...

"It's you again." Marivel says. She looks at him and is about to comment further before Harmaus unleashes tendrils of light--light! Her nemesis!--upon her form!

It slams against Marivel's barrier as she focuses her attention on the Seraph.

"Is very simple," Marivel agrees. "But the premise is flawed. T'would take more than light to slay a Crimson Noble. After all, tis the light that we love."

And with that she spins Guillotine in a circular motion before jabbing it suddenly for Harmaus's gut!

"Meanwhile I know one or two ways to handle a Seraph I should think. For what reason do you help these men? Is there something you desire that only butchers can grant you?"

GS: Sneak! The true nature of Ida Everstead-Rey's attack becomes clear!
GS: Seymour Guado takes a glancing hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Devil's Draw for 86 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Seraph Harmaus with Bloody Mari!
GS: Marivel Armitage has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    It's a feint. Ida's hands blur around her back, clearing leather in record time. With both Devil's Due and her still-unnamed Devil Arm in hand, she opens fire, first riddling the robot's body with bullets before turning on nearby soldiers. Her body twists, her feet moving like they were tracing out the steps of a dance. Each time she fires, she is ruthlessly efficient--aiming for the face, or for the center of mass.

<Pose Tracker> Lulu has posed.

The firing line hits Lulu strongly, a solid shot that only the magic of Marivel's power prevents being worse than it is. Even so, it's enough to knock her backward, forcing her to stagger a moment before she resumes her forward march. She is still not alone; Wakka brings down another monk set to fire on Lulu a second time as she recovers, and Kimahri slams forward into melee up towards Tidus. But Lulu herself keep rushing, too. THere are many others here, many allies of now and other times; the Otherworlders have done much, here, and with this they help, too.

But it is Yuna's face Lulu looks for as she watches them, and identifying Yuna, she knows where she must go. She knew already, after all; at the heart of Yevon.

"Burn," Lulu instructs more of her foes, throwing flames at them as she goes. But there is an army in their path, and there are too many to try to clear individually. Other magic hums on the battlefield already, like hers and thoroughly unlike hers. Lulu recognizes each, and feels the power that suffuses this place now. Pyreflies, yes... But more. Flame, ice, the elements themselves all swirling around them, out of balance.

When Lulu first set foot in Bevelle, did she ever expect that one day she would return like this? No. Not in a thousand years would she have imagined it, for all that she resented the nuns back then.

But for Yuna... She will.

"'Ey, Lu!" Wakka throws another blitzball forward, hoping to open up an enemy. "You got somethin' for this?" Kimahri swings at a great machina weapon.

"Yes," Lulu answers. The confusion; the pain; the anger of the last few days, the anger at her own weakness and the fear that she is now opposing Yevon itself. All of these things she holds within herself. ...And inevitably, it must rise. Auron says it--they cut through.

Lulu sets down her Mog, and it mirrors her motions. Magical power flows towards her, practically visible in a green aura for a brief instant as she calls upon the most potent magic she has yet unleashed.

"..." She has no pun this time, no humor for her foe. She simply sets her red eyes--

A mass of air collapses in on itself and explodes in a mass of concussive flame, easily larg enough to engulf two men. Another suddenly happens beside it, another explosion, another--the pure expression of Fire, making a symphony of roars as Lulu's fury shows itself.

GS: Lulu has activated a Force Action!
GS: Seraph Harmaus takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Bloody Mari for 154 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seraph Harmaus gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Lulu spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Formation! Lulu has attacked Seymour Guado with Firaga!
GS: Lulu has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Lulu has launched an attack Link!
GS: Lulu spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Formation! Lulu has attacked Seymour Guado with F U R Y!
GS: Lulu has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Lulu has completed her action.
GS: Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from Lemina Ausa's Freeze Claw for 152 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seymour Guado gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado has lost 1 Combo from Interrupt!
<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

The Warrior Monks charge down on her. Cecilia prefers when she gets to count on Rudy or Jack or Claude to ward these off, but she's far from hopeless. She thrusts her arm out, her staff blazing with light. This is a little trick she picked up from Earth Golem Asgard himself, and her shield blazes brightly, deflecting several blows from descending monks. One finally punches through enough to reach her inner barrier, at which point she sweeps her staff to drive them back. She sees Yuna's stumbling, almost possessed walk begin, and she feels like she knows that moment. She remembers what it was like, in Shakan's palace.

That moment you realize there's a choice other than compliance. "C'mon!" she calls, surprised by herself. "Run! We'll keep them busy!"

She grabs another Medium Plate from her case, and this one shines like fire as she presents it. It fills with burning Fray, and then scatters apart into motes of light, that sweep behind Cecilia on invisible currents and then gather around themselves again, forming into something MUCH bigger. It is not entirely unlike a Pyrefly Summon, but what comes is no Spiran summoned fayth.

Moor Gault shrieks as the great firebird Guardian appears, the heat in thea ir jumping by tens of degrees at a time. "Material!" Cecilia calls, whirling her staff around her fingertips before thursting it at the Monks before her.

"Vapor Blast!"

A WAVE of searing heat kicks off of Moor Gault as the great Guardian flaps its wings, and then that heat soon turns to flame, geysers of it rushing past Cecilia toward her enemies.

GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Seymour Guado with Material - Vapor Blast!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Harmaus has adjusted their boss level for 4 opponents!
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

    Shalune charges straight through the line of Couerls, her arms up in front of her face as she tries to simply bull through them. Her main advantage is her coat - thick and bulky enough, it manages to stop the weaker of the Couerl's strikes, though she's warring with her own fatigue, totally aware that she started out by overstretching herself and is just going from there.

    "Get-- off!" she finally breaks as one of the more persistent creatures nearly swipes off most of her hair and instead draws a red bruised patch on her cheek and three red lines scored over it. She catches the animal under the legs with the butt of her staff, bracing the other end under her arm as she heaves the Couerl aside, winces at the blossom of pain, and-- and, well, checks to see if the Couerl's alright when she hears the poor thing yelp in pain.

    They're all just being used by Seymour, after all, she thinks to herself quietly.

    Sucking in a breath, she turns back. Jay and Lunata are already facing down Gon; she feels a rush of warmth, even if there's no healing attached to it this time, and pushes herself forwards up the last few steps to stand amongst them. What can she say, to this Maester who she never really knew? Even in her time in the Yevon Church she was markedly an outsider. She doesn't have the connection to him that Lunata does - this isn't her fight to join in on.

    So she doesn't, and instead makes a conscious choice to support the people she can reach. "Get 'im, Lunie!"

    ... ... she's not a Couerl, Shalune

GS: Shalune Amira has attacked Lunata Croze with Still Fighting!
GS: Shalune Amira has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Shalune Amira has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

I need to go that way. You don't need to stay with me...

Ivan shakes his head. "I promised, didn't I?"

Well, to protect her during unsealings, but he doesn't want her dying before he's gotten to keep that promise, so he might as well extend the promise to whenever they find themselves fighting side by side.

The exchange is interrupted by a hail of attacks--ice shards raining down over where Ivan is standing. His eyes widen, and he calls a longsword into his hand, deflecting several of them with a series of swift strikes. At the end, he's breathing heavily, but has only taken superficial slashes from the sharp-edged hail.

"I'll clear a path!" He says, and races ahead as Mariel begins to ascend the steps, slashing at the air with his longsword and carving open a portal that glows hot before erupting with molten fire he hopes will dissuade anyone from charging towards them.

He catches a glimpse, up ahead, of Yuna turning toward her would-be rescuers, and the small step towards them.

He can't honestly say he understands everything about Yuna's situation and what brought her to where she is now, but he thinks he understands a little about how sometimes circumstances force people into making 'correct' decisions that are anything but what they want. And sometimes people might need to be saved the prisons that they've made for themselves.

GS: Ivan has attacked Seymour Guado with Molten Roar!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Rikku has posed.


A cannon swivels at her, and Rikku spies the Machina turning to get on a bead from her with its cannons just in time. Ducking her head down, she keeps charging forward, and the cannon's shot flies just missing the small of her back. The force of it passing causing her to stumble before she awkwardly recovers and keeps up her angry rush.

Had it fired a few moments before - she'd probably be dead. That is where the pack with all of that explosive material as it is.

But right now she's moving on raw adrenaline and resolve.

And ANGER. It's not like she didn't hear what Gon just said. "YOU!" Though even as she reacts in anger, she redirects it, realizing she has something far more important to deal with right now.

Cupping her hands as Mariel and Ida shouts their objections, she calls out over the din of the crowd, "SEYMOUR! If this is a real wedding then-" Bullets whiz by and she raises her voice, "-I OBJECT! Yunie's my COUSIN! And I'm not letting YOU marry her!"

Her choice of words is important. After all, once upon a time, she was fine with the idea of Yuna marrying him.

Him marrying her though? Now? After all that happened?

Unacceptable. And after everything that happened, she's not ashamed for everyone to know that not only is Yuna family, but that it's unacceptable to her that this murderer of her people marry her.

"Yuna! Don't worry about a thing!" Waiting for Lulu to inundate the Machina in fire, she suddenly waits for her furious series of explosions to go off before winking at Wakka and her and rushing on by it. As she does, her clawed gauntlet lances out as if she were trying to give it one final stab. "We're not going to let that creep touch you!"

It is a promise, that she wants to believe she can keep from this point on.

GS: Rikku has attacked Seymour Guado with The Claw!
GS: Rikku has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Rikku has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Azoth has posed.

Azoth's senses catch the heat coming for him while he's at the peak of his explosive jump. He twists toward the incoming fire and snaps out his hand with a veil of light forming to protect him. The first three smash into it, bursting around him, but the third cracks it open, smashing into Azoth's body and throwing him off his intended course.

He flips through the air, managing to land in a crouch while rapidly patting the flames from his shoulder. No no no, these are new clothes...! Wait -- other machines on the battlefield? 'Machina?' That was supposed to be blasphemy! But--

Azoth charges toward the constructs, forming blades of light above his head. With a twist and a snap of his fingers, the blades dart out from around him, seeking out the constructs to pierce into them with explosions of crackling energy to interfere with their mechanics.

"Shh, it's all right -- quiet down...!"

GS: Azoth has attacked Seymour Guado with Zero Day!
GS: Azoth has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Azoth has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Lan Lilac has posed.

    The flying machina aims its cannons at her and fires. She raises her hands too slowly, floats too long, and both shots catch her in midair - Lan catches her balance, twisting in the air like a cat as she falls to land on both feet, though she's a bit more singed than she had been just a few breaths ago.

    It's fine. She's fine. Everything is fine.

    From the top of the steps a shape emerges, and she wouldn't have paid it much mind if it hadn't shot at her. The bullet grazes her side and Lan staggers back a half-step to tug at her ribbon free with a quiet 'vwip'.

    It surrenders or it dies, the creature (because it's not a man, not really, is it? It's wrong, wrong, wrong) says.

    "Okay," Lan nods, drawing in a measured breath, and explodes into motion. The ribbon darts forward, whiplike as it seeks to bind Harmaus's arms to its sides, with Lan charging in right behind it. At the tip of her index and middle finger, a miniature star shines - and she thrusts that hand forward, as if to drive that energy, and maybe her entire hand, right through Harmaus's forehead.

    "You first."

GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Lulu's Firaga for 151 hit points!
GS: Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from Lulu's F U R Y for 252 hit points!
GS: Lan Lilac spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Lan Lilac has attacked Seraph Harmaus with Ribbon Dance!
GS: Lan Lilac has launched an attack Link!
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Tidus's Waterga for 87 hit points!
GS: Poison! applied to Seymour Guado!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Lan Lilac has attacked Seraph Harmaus with Star Kissed!
GS: Lan Lilac has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Harmaus critically Guards a hit from Lan Lilac's Ribbon Dance for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seraph Harmaus gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Seraph Harmaus takes a glancing hit from Lan Lilac's Star Kissed for 89 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seraph Harmaus gains 1 additional Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    Ahrimans block Boudicca's way; soldiers block another. One path is open.

    Harmaus asks why.

    "Seymour Guado sung a song of Desperation and brought to Filgaia the Clysmian," Boudicca explains, chill of word and expression. "Do not tell me you are cousin to Ragnell's disillusionment, Harmaus. Even you - even with your proclivities --" she gestures to all of him, with curled fingers, and she is less permissive outside an environment of her fellows after all. "You must recognise our duty to humanity. We stand to keep them safe!"

    The light crashes down, and Boudicca springs away, and an age-old question is answered. Wind is not faster than the speed of light - though certainly it tries. That red-orange magic catches at her heel, as she lands, not far enough.

    "Yuna bathes in a fountain of misfortune, and this - this is too much. Why do you stand by their side? Do you not know?!" Anger raises her words and her chin, spreading herself wider with the wings of Moor Gault upon the field. "This world of sacrifice...!"

    Her first step forward is announced by a bluster of air.

    'It surrenders or it dies.'

    Her second stumbles, as the truth sinks in.

    "You would not," she says, and it may not make sense, between immortal spirits. "You cannot! That trust has been laid upon you! 'Tis your task to care for him--!" Him? But, Yuna is...

    It's Marivel she calls to, now - and Lan, who might not recognise her, now she's not a statue. Then again, her voice is the same. "Please be cautious! That flesh is true!" She sounds so upset...

    The wind she summons to Harmaus now is less piercing, less entire - more to befuddle than to blow through. But a headwind can be hard to move through, even so.

GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Seraph Harmaus with Buffeting Headwind!
GS: Seraph Boudicca assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

Another bursting shockwave as the machina come in for a landing. Elly tumbles on the stairs and falls down several, halting herself with a CLANG of her staff and turning her head to look upwards. She can see a small figure in beautiful clothing, she thinks, and:

And she hears something Gon Guado says in passing, and her eyes seem to gleam.

Elly pushes herself upwards. "They're using the infantr-- the Machina themselves?" she asks, perhaps wondering more than anything. She feels herself simmering, and the pressure is growing.

They've got the perfect position, don't they?

                'it surrenders or it dies'

Something about those words rings through Elly, somewhere.

Her head tilts upwards. There is no space here to say something grand and so Elly says to Harmaus,

"You're lying."

Lan dives in a moment later. Maybe things are harmonizing. Maybe they're in tune. Elly's eyes narrow as she tightens upwards, grasping her iron staff and stepping up the paces she had lost. She moves sidewise, not wanting to challenge the machina directly, and instead there is a twisting feeling again. There's a skittering in the stones, a squeaking as if of moles before half the stair directly upwards from Harmaus twists around and seems to sprout claws of molemanic stone, aiming to smash him on both shoulders and bury him in the ground!

Just as the rest happens, of course.

GS: Elhaym van Houten spends 2 Combo on Gatling, loading 2 into Gatling!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has attacked Seraph Harmaus with Terra Charge!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has completed her action.
GS: Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from Ivan's Molten Roar for 173 hit points!
GS: Disrupt and Shieldbreak! applied to Seymour Guado!
GS: Seraph Harmaus guards a hit from Elhaym van Houten's Terra Charge for 117 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seraph Harmaus gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Entangle! applied to Seraph Harmaus!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Seraph Harmaus takes a solid hit from Seraph Boudicca's Buffeting Headwind for 93 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seraph Harmaus gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from Cecilia Adlehyde's Material - Vapor Blast for 184 hit points!
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Azoth's Zero Day for 66 hit points!
GS: Jam! applied to Seymour Guado!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Rikku's attack becomes clear!
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Rikku's Steal for 0 hit points!
GS: Disrupt and Jam! applied to Seymour Guado!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
<Pose Tracker> Rikku has posed.


Except that Rikku's hand was actually trying to grasp one crucial part and rip it free from the Machina construct that was barring their path.

All so fast that it would hopefully spoil any attempt for it to follow up and attack her fellow Guardians and wedding Crashers again.

<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

"Do not even think of it!" Seymour snaps to Yuna. To say he grabs her is wrong; his clawed hand is already on her arm, and he drags her up towards him sharply. His pale eyes look down; once, they seemed cool and mysterious, like they might hide the depths of his emotions. Now, they look empty in that way that he has embraced as an Unsent.

"There is nothing you can do, Lady Yuna," Seymour says. He looks down at them -- hears some of their cries against him -- and he smiles. "They have made their choice.

"On it, Maester Kinoc!" a shout comes from the back.

Kinoc grimaces, but nods. "All right," he says. Then he hands the spent rifle to an attendant, and issues another order: "Rifle."

Another one is placed in his hands. He looks at Auron, seeing how he shields Tidus. He shrugs, once. "Just business, old friend! I--gyaah!" He runs, diving for cover, and the water splashes down around him, smashing the Maester brutally to the ground. At that moment, a Warrior Monk dashes up, and lifts his flamethrower. An immense gout of flame explodes out, washing over Tidus and Auron both.

Below, several Guado Guardians stalk forward towards Ivan and Mariel. Mariel cries out the sins of Seymour to them -- and they look among each other, and then back at the both of them. One of them speaks: "Seymour is our leader. He seeks only what is best for Spira... for Guadosalam!" he cries out. Then, he motions with his hands.

The pyreflies swirl -- forming into a fiend. A Bomb, with fiery skin and a gaping maw. It shrieks, and comes rushing in towards Mariel as her powder flies. It strikes the Guado Guardians, who stumble back -- armor pitting through, and bits of a YAT-99 above them falling off onto them.

Two of them rush forward. A blast of molten fire and lava shoot out. Two Guado Guardians drop before Ivan, as he rushes forward. Another two leap in. One charges low, slashing at him with claws -- and the other throws a kick for Ivan's solar plexus, trying to kick him backward.

Ida's words may or may not reach Seymour. He does not seem to care. The soldiers around her fall. Shots from her guns take them down, as she steps forward. Then, the air screams, as a machina drops down at high speed. It looks akin to a YAT-99, except that there is a deeper grey metal on it -- and portions of it reach out, like veins, into the metal. This ends in a wicked, mechanical claw that is nearly biological in its movement.

And a blinking red eye.

It has a certain Hyadean mien to it, fused into the chassis of an old and rusting Bevelle machina -- and it crashes down, that immense claw slamming down to smash Ida brutally into the stairs.

Another one takes to the skies. Red eyes, metallic and like an ocular camera, move -- tracking down towards Cecilia Lynn Adlehyde in a way she remembers from the battles against the Metal Demons. The movements of the machina-like parts are more uneven and jerk-like.

Moor Gault shrieks to existence, fire exploding outward. It blasts back a wave of charging Guado Guardians, who are sent smashing down. But the strange, half-Hyadean machina dives down -- and then six bright streaks of light explode off it, angle down, and come crashing down for Cecilia with explosive promise.

The Yevonite Clerics are, in the end, no match for Lemina's spell. The Ausa is from a line of mages with tremendous sorcerous potential and excellent training; they are middling spellcasters, from a culture that neglects Black Magic. The freeze claw shows a shape and form they are unfamiliar with, and it crashes down. Two are smashed down, falling in heaps on the stairwell behind them.

Another runs forward, and cries out: "You shall not profane the magic gifted to us by Yevon, that we may seek repentance!" he shouts at Lemina. Then, he thrusts a hand forward -- and three fireballs form, and streak off, shooting for the mage.

Which is when another accomplished spellcaster strikes. No sooner than those fiery blasts are off, Lulu's fiery fury slams down. The structure they stood on cracks -- shudders -- and gives way, crumbling below. But a shadow flies over Lemina's head, as a YKT-63 jumps. The huge, legged machina flies -- and then slams down in front of Lulu, and kicks mightily for the Black Mage, trying to smash her away in an instant.

Azoth crashes onto its back. Its head turns to look at him -- its three, assymetrically-aligned pink eyes glowing. Then, it slams its body down into the ground, bending at an odd angle at the waist. It tries to smash Azoth down, repeatedly, headbutting him into the pavement as best it can.

Even as sparks fly, from systems that Azoth damaged.

A second one is rushing forward -- ready to join in the assault on Lulu. Except, of course, Rikku is on it. She grabs into it -- yanks free a piece of red metal, with a handle inside it -- and then the YKT-63 crumbles apart into so much scrap.

Rikku stands out there, though -- and that's when Kinoc comes up. His rifle is at his shoulder again, and he aims -- and then fires, a shot flying, and comes slashing right for (and perhaps through) Rikku's left calf.

GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Mariel with Guado Guardian - Summon Bomb!
GS: Seymour Guado spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Tidus with Warrior Monk - Flamethrower!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Lemina Ausa with Yevonite Cleric - Fira!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with YDF-X1 - Metal Claw!
GS: Seymour Guado enters a Counter stance!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Lulu with YKT-63 - Thrust Kick!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Ivan with Guado Guardian - Claw Strike!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with YDF-X1 - Proton Missile!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Azoth with YKT-63 - Body Blow!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Rikku with Kinoc - Leg Aim!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado takes 26 damage from Poison!
GS: Seymour Guado has completed his action.
GS: Lemina Ausa takes a solid hit from Seymour Guado's Yevonite Cleric - Fira for 158 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Lemina Ausa gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde guards a hit from Seymour Guado's YDF-X1 - Proton Missile for 94 hit points!
GS: Mariel takes a glancing hit from Seymour Guado's Guado Guardian - Summon Bomb for 101 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Mariel gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Mariel enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Rikku guards a hit from Seymour Guado's Kinoc - Leg Aim for 57 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Rikku gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Slow! applied to Rikku!
GS: Lulu takes a solid hit from Seymour Guado's YKT-63 - Thrust Kick for 154 hit points!
GS: Disease! applied to Lulu!
GS: Lulu enters Critical health and gains 25 FP!
GS: Azoth takes a solid hit from Seymour Guado's YKT-63 - Body Blow for 147 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Azoth gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Ivan critically Guards a hit from Seymour Guado's Guado Guardian - Claw Strike for 24 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
<Pose Tracker> Gon Guado has posed.

    Ephemeral heliotropes slice. Lightning strikes. They explode into clouds of pyreflies as if they couldn't stand against the resolve and might of the Lunies. The one Shalune tries to show concern for is still snarling with a single-minded fury, as if made up of such singular purpose as to be unfriendable. (Even so, Shalune is too tough to get mauled. They all are. But Shalune, especially.)
     Gon stands there with gauntlets put before him in a defensive stance even though he is not in the immediate warpath of these powers put on display that disperse of the Couerls into pyreflies (well, no, the lightning lingers close). It's not a position of strength and confidence - the more novel approaches and styles of the Otherworlders do not mesh neatly within a combat school that had scarcely evolved or been challenged over much prior to the growing hostilities between Yevon and Althena.
     'Seymour tried to create a second Sin!' Lunata shouts somewhere in all of that. Gon's face does not change overly much as he lowers his guard. She's not alone in trying to yell this truth - there's Mariel over there trying to convince the gathered that Seymour is indeed extremely bad news. That large floating woman - Boudicca - pontificates about what Seymour Guado laid bare upon Filgaia.
     That takes a momentary backseat as Jay leaves a threatening gesture as she questions the bride's feelings, and Gon's anger visibly builds.
     "I have had it with the lot of you Otherworlders impressing your values upon us!" He actually has it in him to raise his voice as Jay questions what the bride thinks about it. "You come out of nowhere, meddle in everything..." He hurls himself towards Jay in a rushing shoulder tackle after staring her down, to try and throw her off balance. "How am I suppose to read your purported desires and ideas to 'help?'"
     It segues back naturally towards some of Lunata's own accusations and questions. "I know from the very beginning there were attemps to turn the Al Bhed towards the cause of Althena!" There was at least one among their number who extended their hand of friendship in the coming crusades - this may read more of a gross overstatement on his part, born of paranoia. "Their flaunting of our way of life was not enough for them, no! Those cursed Otherworlders and their wretched Althena... I see right now they are working in tandem!"
     A false flag operation that might be working a little too well, by their perceptions, as he lunges into Lunata with repeated downward clawing strikes as he goes into a more compact, more aggressive crouching stance. "If your friend in those spectacles insists there is a divison between you, perhaps a Sin each between both your purported Other-Otherworlders would teach you proper respect. After all..."
     "Operation Mi'ihen has proven that only Summoners can defeat Sin."
     Then, an aside as Shalune cheers to Lunata to 'Get 'im, Lunie!'
     Gon gives an aside to another Guardian who had to deal with another passing volley.
     "Get her," he says a name that's lost in an explosion elsewhere, and Shalune finds herself being beset upon by one of the differently-colored Guado Guardians lunging at her with a claw strike. Their wingspan is impressive. Their striking strength... not so much, but that's what clawed gauntlets help make up for.

GS: Gon Guado has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Garm Tackle!
GS: Gon Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Gon Guado has attacked Lunata Croze with Bite Bug Stance!
GS: Gon Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Gon Guado assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: Gon Guado has attacked Shalune Amira with Counter-Get Them!
GS: Gon Guado takes 25 damage from Poison!
GS: Gon Guado has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Jacqueline Barber guards a hit from Gon Guado's Garm Tackle for 91 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! applied to Jacqueline Barber!
GS: Jacqueline Barber enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: CRITICAL! Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Seymour Guado's YDF-X1 - Metal Claw for 210 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Ida Everstead-Rey gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Shalune Amira heals Lunata Croze! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Hyper! applied to Lunata Croze!
GS: Lunata Croze completely evades a hit from Gon Guado's Bite Bug Stance!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Lunata Croze gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Shalune Amira takes a solid hit from Gon Guado's Counter-Get Them for 116 hit points!
GS: Shalune Amira enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

Yuna's friends and Guardians address her directly, with objections about the wedding and words of comfort alike. They may not be able to get to her instantly -- and they're too far away to lock eyes in more than just the imagination -- but their voices can reach her, and do.

Her hand drifts unconsciously over her heart.

She has never in her life felt more alone than she did in her luxurious prison in the Palace of St. Bevelle. Than she did while being bathed and clothed and anointed like someone's life-size doll. Than she did on her long processional walk, surrounded by a thousand pairs of eyes, and one pair in particular, blue eyes that burn her at the slightest touch.

And she has never in her life felt LESS alone than she does right now.

Some of her friends start shouting about the most infamous of Seymour's crimes. Yuna doesn't dare to hope that they'll be believed -- they're outsiders, they're attacking the Palace of St. Bevelle. It is seeing that is believing, and the messenger matters. They have to hear it from one of their own.

This is the very essence of why she is here.

Well, that's not true. She is here because she is a prisoner. But it is the essence of why she isn't in a straitjacket and handcuffs, screaming at the top of her lungs. Why she walked, instead of forcing them to carry her. Why she allowed them yet again to use her as their symbol, instead of making a scene.

Why, right now, she carefully avoids looking at the accused at all.

That anyone would assume that she came this far in order to comply -- because they thought she thought she had no other choice -- is a TRIUMPH of deception for a girl who is heartbreakingly honest. 'Yuna is easy to read, and hard to guard,' is Auron's devastatingly accurate summary of his ward. But for once in his legendary life, he is wrong.

Yes, she is heartbreakingly honest, in the sense that whenever she isn't, it's always for a reason that breaks her heart.

He is wrong, and Cecilia, Ivan, and others are right -- in the sense that Yuna looks very much like someone on the precipice of awakening from a too-gentle nightmare of flowers and lace and dead ends. And like someone too stunned, or perhaps too overwhelmed, to act decisively.

As ever, Seymour is her opposite even as there are a thousand ways that they are very much the same. She is softly upset, and he is hard, powerful -- decisive -- as he draws her near like a straying puppy at the end of the leash of his arm.

Her lips part in surprise and in pain and she makes a little noise, a tiny 'ah', that is the sound of suffering, but not the sound of a scream. She pulls once and can go nowhere; she is helpless to resist him. His words surround her -- his eyes imprison her further, pinioning the wings of her soul. Even as he looks away from her, smiling at those unbelievable truths, she goes limp within his grasp, an implicit surrender. Her head bows before him, and she looks no more upon the carnage to come, but at her feet, instead.

All he saw within her eyes was despair; a bleakness of his own creation. He can look upon it, and know that it is good.

It is as he says. They have made their choice, and she has made hers.

Near or far, it's all too clear to her friends below: Yuna is someone who needs to be saved.

GS: Tidus critically Guards a hit from Seymour Guado's Warrior Monk - Flamethrower for 29 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Tidus gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Tidus enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Harmaus has posed.

    "It matters us not!" shouts the Seraph to his fellow. He bares his teeth. "It still clings to its lies! The Goddess' lies! What duty has we, save which She gave us? The treacherous Goddess?! We sunders our oaths, we surrenders our duties! We are Althena's, nevermore!"

    He stands for a moment atop the stair, breathing hard. It might come to a surprise to everyone when the Seraph's hand looses its grip on the ARM and it clatters upon the steps. Even he stares for a moment, before turning again a foul gaze upon Boudicca. "Kssht-- Let the human sacrificied! Another life in a sea of lives!" he announces, advancing down the stairs as Marivel advances to meet him.

    "Yes, yes," the Seraph sighs at the Crimson Noble in his path, almost as if irritated -- possibly Boudicca is the cause -- "Is me again. Much work needs done before we can rest... yet, it can makes it easy for us, yes? It just gives up here! But if it must be hard way, we manages it yet!"

    He twists his body, narrowing his profile as Marivel comes in for him, as if he were attempting to thus deflect her attack with the short sword. But the movement is imperfect. The movement is in fact somewhat slowed, a fact that prompts the Seraph to frown as if in confusion--

    In a moment that thus costs him greatly as the scythe digs inwards. "G-grrgh--" grunts the Seraph, stumbling backwards. The blade slips from his hand to press against his gut.

    "F-for... for the truth! Yes! For the truth, we fights here!" he manages, rallying as light as soft as an aurora glimmers about him, stifling the bleeding. He stands tall again in the moment after.

    You're lying says Elly, and in that moment the Seraph can only see red.

    "Lying?! LYING?!"

    He advances. Or rather, tries to. The body stands still even as he urges it forward, and here, the world can see the confusion that takes over the man's face.

    Just before the spires of earth cut clean through him, impaling the Seraph's body through each shoulder.

    As the gale vents its fury.
    As the binds lace about him.
    As Lan descends upon him.

    The flesh is true. The flesh...
    ...wants to be free.

    The head slumps forward, drooling blood from the mouth. And yet, isn't there peace upon that face?

    Something yet stirs within the flesh. Pulling itself free by inches, the Seraph himself at last makes his appearance.

    "I did like that body," Seraph Harmaus, all one-foot one-inch height of him at best, complains. He perches atop the head of his former body, lashing his tail in irritation. Yellow eyes narrow at the four of them against him.

    Some Seraphs take the forms of animals. The Seraph Harmaus... is shaped like a cat.

    "It matters not," Harmaus says, hopping down from his morbid perch. "It ends, and it ends now!"

    BGM SHIFT: https://christopherlarkin.bandcamp.com/track/the-grimm-troupe

    In the depths of space, it is said, no one can hear you scream.
    In the depths of space, wherever you might go, eventually there will be light.

    "-Accept your fate-," says the Seraph, in the Ancient Tongue.

    The light that pulses off where the Seraph stands is like that flooding from a dying star, burning bright in its death throes. "Askesis!"

    The light does not fade.

    "-And in all things, remain in balance-," continues the Seraph, as light bundles and burns anew, rising to ensnare all those who would stand against him in brilliant pale tendrils. "Adiaphora!"

DC: You switch forms to The Heretic Son!
DC: Seraph Harmaus switches forms to The Heretic Son!
GS: Seraph Harmaus spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Elhaym van Houten with Askesis!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Seraph Boudicca with Askesis!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Lan Lilac with Adiaphora!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Marivel Armitage with Adiaphora!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Truth be told, Mariel appreciates having Ivan as... guard? Help? Friend? He makes her feel safer, anyway - which is good because this is one of the more dangerous situations she's been in lately.

Except with the exorcism. And the Clysmian. And Juno. Mariel's life has gotten a lot more dangerous lately, now that she thinks about it.

"Thank you," Mariel gets out to Ivan, more quietly, while pushing herself up another few stairs. And another and another - she was right, her legs *do* feel like rubber between this and trying to climb on the cables, but she's gotten this far and she can't stop now.

She raises her voice again. It didn't work before and she doubts it's going to work now but she has to try. Has to, or she wouldn't be Mariel. "He summoned the Clysmian outside of Spira, so that might be true - but are you willing to sacrifice everybody else for his plans? There were children there! Children!" (Teenagers, but Mariel is old enough that the difference is mostly academic.)

One of them summons a... bomb? Mariel knows what bombs do: bombs explode. This one certainly is going to, and she has nothing in her hands that can repel it - nothing at hand, except -

Mariel swings her entire bag by the shoulder strap, in a two-handed sweep. It hits the Bomb, sending it flying far enough away that the inevitable explosion doesn't take out Mariel; she feels the heat on her skin, what little of it is exposed, and feels shrapnel (rock dust mostly) pepper her side. *That* stings.

It also forces her to stop walking up for a moment; she looks up and sees the new machina sweeping in, the ones with the red eye, and she freezes for a moment. Totally still, with an expression that starts out surprised and ends up terrified.

She's seen things like that before. A long long time ago, machines in a different shape but with that kind of eye, that kind of jerky, insectile movement - and she can't help herself. A bit of the old terror comes back. She'd thought she'd gotten over it - with Riese, with Zed, with Noeline.

She hasn't. It's too old a fear; she's only pushed it aside. She's had it too long, and to see it here, all out of context, is too much.

Mariel seems to remain frozen for a moment - and then, slowly, she reaches for her left pocket. Her hand slips out of her glove to grasp something inside; something small, and cold, improbably icy despite the tropical heat and living in her pocket for the last week and, of course, the fact that Mariel just took a Bomb explosion on that side. She doesn't need to see the flower. She knows what's there. And she sees Yuna, which might be worse.

With a pained, almost gasping shout, Mariel ducks her head and reaches into her bag. She comes out with a whole armful of apples in various colours - green and red, but the less probable blue and almost lemon-yellow too - and begins to toss them, one after another, at whichever Drifters she can see easily. She has a good pitching arm, and they need to make one more push, now, before these *things* keep coming.

They need to get to the top.

GS: Mariel has activated a Force Action!
GS: Elhaym van Houten guards a hit from Seraph Harmaus's Askesis for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Elhaym van Houten gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Poison and Reaper! applied to Elhaym van Houten!
GS: Elhaym van Houten takes an additional 45 damage from Reaper!
GS: Seraph Boudicca takes a solid hit from Seraph Harmaus's Askesis for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seraph Boudicca gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Poison and Reaper! applied to Seraph Boudicca!
GS: Seraph Boudicca enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Seraph Boudicca takes an additional 45 damage from Reaper!
GS: Lan Lilac has activated a Force Action!
GS: Lan Lilac takes a solid hit from Seraph Harmaus's Adiaphora for 0 hit points!
GS: Cripple, Jam, and Mute! applied to Lan Lilac!
GS: Mariel has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Status Apple!
GS: Mariel has attacked Lulu with Status Apple!
GS: Mariel has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with Status Apple!
GS: Mariel has attacked Ivan with Status Apple!
GS: Mariel has attacked Mariel with Status Apple!
GS: Mariel has attacked Rikku with Status Apple!
GS: Mariel has attacked Tidus with Status Apple!
GS: Mariel has attacked Lemina Ausa with Status Apple!
GS: Mariel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
GS: Lulu takes a solid hit from Mariel's Status Apple for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Lulu!
GS: Rikku takes a solid hit from Mariel's Status Apple for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Rikku!
GS: CRITICAL! Marivel Armitage critically Guards a hit from Seraph Harmaus's Adiaphora for 0 hit points!
GS: Mariel takes a solid hit from Mariel's Status Apple for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Mariel!
<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

"Given to you by --" Lemina is actually so bowled over by the sheer dumb-assedness of the statement she just heard (and maybe a little too distracted trying to make sense of the gestures through the flourishes) that she more or less completely forgets to defend herself and eats a fireball directly to the chest. "NO! No! Bad! Mega-bad! Aaah!" she cries, attempting to freeze the fire out, which... *eventually* works, at least.

"It's something you're born with! It's just a thing that happens! This is not that difficult! I have a chart!" (She has a chart.) "A mega-chart!" (A magic chart. A chart that helps us learn.) "I can tell you it has nothing to do with religious devotion because we kicked all the churches out of Vane literally centuries ago!" Lemina is rapidly developing a giant bulging anime anger vein.

Sweeping her free hand out broadly before returning it to her staff once again, Lemina only needs a very short chant for this one -- it's almost inaudible and certainly doesn't sound like it contains any vowels. "Try this one on for size! Ice Arrows!" With a thrust of her staff, Lemina sprays out a barrage of icicles of her own -- not that different from the one she was subjected to all that long ago!

GS: Lemina Ausa takes a solid hit from Mariel's Status Apple for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Lemina Ausa!
GS: Ivan takes a solid hit from Mariel's Status Apple for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Ivan!
GS: Lemina Ausa has attacked Seymour Guado with Ice Arrows!
GS: Lemina Ausa has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lemina Ausa has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    Jacqueline says Lunata was plenty impressive, and she allows herself one sheepish grin because she's still a teen that's swimming in newfound affection and romance, okay. "T-that's good, then, but--"

    The air turns cool as Jacqueline gives Gon one last chance to rectify his statement, and her attention's on Shalune instead.

    "I--I don't think you're gonna get that one to coeurl up, Shalune!"

    Gon lectures on how he's had it with them trying to impress their values on them, and Lunata scowls in turn as she exclaims, "Any other day and I'd love to have a conversation about that??"

    A pause, as Gon's instincts get the better of her and he lunges forward; she's on the back foot as she holds her steel to clash against his claws, but the ex-waitress has built her own combat instincts. She deftly rolls out of the way of his final strike and skids against the railing to stop her momentum.

    "But that's rich comin' from you when you just BLEW UP someone's home for disagreeing with you! And that's coming from a girl who values faith a lot, actually!"

    The waitress backflips onto the rail, and soars up into the sky, using a broken-down YAT-99's shell to springboard her up even higher.

    "Also, newsflash! We murdered that second Sin! Giant robots work really well!!"

    Gon's a more experienced fighter than her, with all his years; so she instead relies on tricks, angling herself to be hidden by the sun's light as she descends--

    Not one, not two...

    Five Lunata Crozes descend, each of them in the pattern of a cross, the final one divebombing for Gon Guado in a storm of light.

    "Rosario... Impale!!"

GS: Lunata Croze spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Lunata Croze has attacked Gon Guado with Rosario Impale!
GS: Lunata Croze has completed her action.
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Mariel's Status Apple for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Ida Everstead-Rey!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Gon Guado takes a solid hit from Lunata Croze's Rosario Impale for 207 hit points!
GS: Poison! applied to Gon Guado!
<Pose Tracker> Tidus has posed.

    Auron snorts when Kinoc yelps and scrambles to escape, only to get knocked down by Tidus's spell. "Just business, old friend," he snarks, deadpan. When a warrior monk rushes up to take his place and unleashes gouts of flame towards him and Tidus, Auron steps into place to take the heat for himself. "These ones don't matter!" he barks over his shoulder at his young ward.
    
    "I know, I know! Run through, right?!" Tidus snaps back. Now that he's had time to catch his breath, his injured leg is somewhat less wobbly--enough for him to get up and concentrate. With a shout, he snaps his sword around and up. It fires off a jet volley of water slicing up the stairs into that warrior monk, and maybe a few more monks behind him. For a moment, there is a clear path, and Tidus takes ruthless advantage to race up as best he can in his condition.
    
    Of course, this also gives him space to see the way Seymour yanks at Yuna's arm, the way she's stopped from running down to join them. His joy transmutes into fury. "YUNA!" he shouts. "Damn you, Seymour!! Get your filthy hands OFF OF HER!!"

GS: Tidus takes a solid hit from Mariel's Status Apple for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Tidus!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde takes a solid hit from Mariel's Status Apple for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Cecilia Adlehyde!
<Pose Tracker> Tidus has posed.

    While Tidus is yelling about Yuna and at Seymour, Auron catches an apple that Mariel chucked out. He looks it over, cool as the cucumber it's colored like, and takes a bite.
    
    *cronch*
    
    ...It really is an unusually superb apple. He gives Mariel a curt nod of thanks, then moves again to make sure the line forward to Yuna stays open.

GS: Tidus has attacked Seymour Guado with Riptide Cutter!
GS: Tidus assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: Tidus has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

A bomb descends. "Look out!" Ivan calls to Mariel, before a pair of Guardo Guardian demands his attention with a combination attack. He swings out with the heavy longsword to intercept the clawed strike, vanishing the blade as soon as the momentum is redirected and then twisting quickly in the opposite direction and calling it back again, using the flat of the blade to absorb the brunt of the kick.

He hears the explosion and feels some of the heat radiating off of it; he looks back to find Mariel intact, but momentarily frozen by something in the chaos.

"What is it...? -- oh!" An apple sails toward him; he shifts to a one-handed grip on his sword to catch it from the air. He bites into it and momentarily lets it hang from his mouth as he renews his grip on his blade and charges back into the fray. He still gets enough of the juice to feel the power coursing through him. He calls a muffled thanks and continues to do what he can to carve a path for Mariel, leaping toward the nearest cluster of defenders with a heavy crash of his blade followed quickly on its heels by a fireball.

GS: Ivan has attacked Seymour Guado with Hell Pyre!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: COUNTER! Seymour Guado counterattacks Tiduswith Counter Attack!
GS: CRITICAL! Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from Tidus's Riptide Cutter for 177 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Azoth has posed.

Azoth spins and twists about as he manipulates the energy against the machina. He moves his fingers as if doing cat's cradle for a moment, but whatever stunts he's pulling isn't quite enough. The YKT-63 comes down at him.

The pavement cracks, with Azoth disappearing into it and the dust and debris that fly. Headbutting, again, and again, and again, in a manner that would pound an ordinary person into a gruesome stain against the ground.

There's no blood. But for several silent moments, Azoth lies, unmoving on the ground. Collapsed. His eyes are stuck open, unblinking, and without their usual glow.

Until suddenly, they are.

An explosion of blue-white light bursts from the crater where Azoth's body lies. When the smoke fades, Azoth's on his feet, his body sparking much like the YKT-63's. His eyes flicker briefly red before turning back to blue as his fingers twitch and flex. Light surrounds him in grid-like patterns, and then a massive sword of light forms at his side.

"I have an objective to complete. Please, step aside."

It's the only warning he gives to both YKT-63 and any nearby Yevonites before charging forward, thrusting his arm. The energy blade drives forward at his command, trying to forcibly carve a path upward.

GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Lemina Ausa's Ice Arrows for 90 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Azoth has activated a Force Action!
GS: Azoth spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Azoth has attacked Seymour Guado with Lightning Aries!
GS: Azoth has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline chuckles good-naturedly back at Lunata, going faintly red for a moment, before glancing Shalune's way as she rides into battle. ...It's nice, really. It feels like it's been way too long since the three of them fought side-by-side as a team. Jacqueline sends her a smile, then looks right back toward Gon.

"Our 'values'? Our values of, 'maybe she should actually have a say in what happens to her'?" Jacqueline replies, shaking her head. "Look at her, Gon! Look at Yuna! Is that the look of a happy bride? This whole wedding is a sham! A fake! I'm sorry, but I value Yuna over whatever is making you think this is a good idea."

Gon tackles her, then. Unfortunately for Jacqueline, she isn't really meant for close range combat. She's a spellcaster and a support first and foremost. He tackles her and she is sent crashing to the ground. What he says next incenses her even further. Jacqueline rises to her feet unsteadily, partially energized by his words.

"And that justifies their murder? Gunning them down in their home, with machina, by the way, which your own religion bans, for mere attempts to turn them toward Althena's cause? How does that make you any better than Althena's Guard?" Jacqueline hisses. And then he says that a Sin each would teach them proper respect.

"...Are you serious? Knowing what it's like, you'd wish that kind of death and destruction on everyone?" She says, shaking her head. "...Fine. I've had it with you, Gon. If that's how you want to look at me, then I'll smash every single one of your rotten 'values' if it means saving people's lives! Yuna doesn't deserve this. And nobody deserves Sin." She says. With that, she draws out a bottle of liquid. It's a dull color at first... but then, she slides some ingredients in it and it shines bright like liquid gold. "Lunata! Shalune! A present for you!"

And with that, like with the Haywire Draught before, the liquid evaporates into golden sparkles. But these ones settle over Lunata and Shalune instead, bursting with a pleasant aura of energy.

GS: Jacqueline Barber has activated a Force Action!
GS: Jacqueline Barber spends 1 Combo on Inspire!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Lunata Croze with Aura Bottle!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Shalune Amira with Aura Bottle!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
GS: Jacqueline Barber heals Lunata Croze! She gains 188 temporary hit points!
GS: Hyper! applied to Lunata Croze!
GS: Reload! Lunata Croze gains 15 extra FP from Jacqueline Barber!
GS: Lunata Croze gains a Combo from Inspire!
GS: Jacqueline Barber heals Shalune Amira! She gains 188 temporary hit points!
GS: Hyper! applied to Shalune Amira!
GS: Reload! Shalune Amira gains 15 extra FP from Jacqueline Barber!
GS: Shalune Amira gains a Combo from Inspire!
GS: Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from Ivan's Hell Pyre for 155 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Ida scythes her way through the soldiers, putting two forms of martial training to work. Five Precepts Chained Devil provides the basic forms, while Method Mercury lends the whole thing a certain fluidity. She weaves in and around the Warrior Monks, dispatching them with efficiency and grace. It is an artful display of violence.

    And then the last one falls. Through the chaos, Ida sees Seymour's hand on Yuna's arm. "BASTARD!" she shrieks. "LET HER GO!"

    Something rushes her from above. At first Ida thinks it's just another YAT-99, and twists to face it, arms raised. Her armored gauntlets unfold into shields, and she braces for incoming gunfire.

    Something else happens instead. Ida sees a glimpse of the thing's innards, and her blood runs cold. That looks nothing like the rest of the Yevonite drones. That's Hyadean. Ida could recognize that style in her sleep.

    The claw descends. It punches clean through Ida's shields in a shower of splintering exoskeleton. It digs deep into her shoulder, tearing through flesh even as the drone itself drags Ida along with it. It SLAMS her into the base of the Ten Thousand Stairs, and a dull crack and bursts of pain herald cracked ribs.

    If Yuna looks down, she can see Ida there, at the very foot of the stairs, having left a trail of crimson and quicksilver in her wake.

    Ida wrenches herself off the drone's claw with the sound of tearing flesh. More blood spills onto the terrace, even as she forces herself upright. Somehow, she's managed to keep hold of both her ARMs, and she levels them at the drone as it pulls away from her. She takes a breath, her cracked ribs creaking--

    And she opens fire. What flies from Devil's Due isn't a bullet, per se, but a splinter of Hyadean tissue glowing brilliantly with Ida's lifeforce. It seeks out that glowing eye, and the drone it's attached to.

    Something flies through the air. It lands on the ground next to Ida, shimmering in rainbow colors. Ida glances through the melee, sees Mariel, clearly frightened. That's something to worry about, and Ida adds it to the list after 'Yuna' and 'the drone that is trying to kill her' and before 'her own injuries'. She digs teeth into it, tearing off and swallowing bites of it with quick, efficient motions. As she eats, a dull warmth suffuses her, chasing away the pain. She retrieves both of her ARMs from where they've fallen next to her.

    Only then does she dare try and start up the Ten Thousand Stairs. "I said LET HER GO!" Ida roars, her voice breaking as her cracked ribs reassert themselves. "LET HER GO, YOU BLOODY MONSTER! YUNA!"

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Seymour Guado with Bright Bullet!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Azoth's Lightning Aries for 92 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lulu has posed.

Lulu cannot hear in the chaos all the words up by Yuna--but she can see Seymour grab Yuna's arm, and that brings a spike to her fury. The fact tht the Guado are in league with Seymour despite all is no longer a surprise of any sort. Thr are plenty of other surprises in store, however--Lulu smashes through a structur and a shadow flies. Lulu narrows her eyes as she sees the YKT-63 jumping, and starts to move out of the way--but its momentum is faster than her recovery from such an exertion of spellcasting and its foot smashes straight into her. She flies backwards, over the steps and over a few of the other combatants, impacting hard another machina and hitting the ground a moment later. "Gh--"

She's too far away, still. She was already, and now she's farther back. The machina she hit gets a Blitzball as Wakka turns to give her a metaphorical hand.

Lulu starts rushing back up again, using the space the Otherworlders have bought--and catching an apple from Mariel along the way. Already wounded, Lulu is almost dubious... But only almost. She quickly takes a bite of the apple and lets its power rush into her as she surges forward.

She doesn't call out--Yuna already knows she is here, and she has a much better way to prove her presence. Raising both hands, Lulu directs her magic once again, this time trying to blst herself a path with a sudden onrush of Water. It bursts into being up from the ground, exploding in pressure and sea-scent and bludgeoning water.

"I'm fine!" she calls for the other Guardians' benefit, though to look at her, she clearly isn't--she's slouching, labored.

GS: Lulu has attacked Seymour Guado with Waterga!
GS: Lulu has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lulu assumes the Stoic stance!
GS: Lulu has completed her action.
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Bright Bullet for 79 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! applied to Seymour Guado!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    "My choice is my own!" Boudicca issues back, the chill of her anger fanned hot. "Why must we chain our duties to Althena?! It is good to protect them! Through their generations they change and create and forge the future in a way our eternity never could! Even as they die..!"

    She gestures, open-palmed, and now the pain carves her face open, wide eyes and parted lips. "But a death too soon is a tragedy! Let him live long and die well, Harmaus! I beg you this, if nothing else!"

    Is that why she is so shaken by Yuna's plight..?

    ... no, that's not the only reason. Boudicca, who answered the call to Filgaia's salvation, traded a death of personality for a life enmeshed with another world. It is anathema to her - to see the plight of mortality here, sent to their deaths for the stability of their world.

    Moor Gault saved her from her ultimate fate as a Fell Dragon, consumed by Malevolence. Sin is no lesser a beast than a Fell Dragon - and yet Yuna's fate is to sacrifice herself on its altar?

    There is no equity in this.

    Lunar is too cruel.

    Althena is...

    "I know the Goddess' sins to be great, but our answer cannot be written in the suffering of humanity!" Cries a woman - who has come so far from being afraid of the suffering humanity would inflict upon her.

    But that's an old story.

    An old story, like a plague which could not be healed, and a spirit which only assuaged the deaths of so many. Boudicca did not heal for some time. She looked into a man's beating heart and knew terror for looming death.

    An old story, like the forms they take. Boudicca is a woman; but she once took the form of a statue, possessing the vessel and animating it under her winds. Beauty was a Beast, once upon a time. Both exist in concert.

    A tale as old as --

    "NO!"

    -- he falls.

    Boudicca falls, too, down to her knees, and it's that old certainty which tells her she cannot fix that, cannot bring him back. Out peels Harmaus - who is truly Harmaus - and terrible recognition slides over Boudicca's eyes, joins the horror, intermingles.

    "You..." She knows him. She has heard his words.

    That is how he knows her.

    That is what he knows.

    When the words come from her they are cracked and old, centuries of dust halting them, built on a precipice of anger. Boudicca's speech is old, language long-forgotten in modern common; this is older. This is Ancient. "-... please.-"

    The light crashes down around her.

    She does not rise.

    "-I love them. Please. They are good. I know now, they are good.-" Now; it's changed.

GS: Seraph Boudicca takes 26 damage from Poison!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Tidus takes a solid hit from Seymour Guado's Counter Attack for 159 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Tidus gains 1 additional Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Rikku has posed.


Rikku grimaces as Seymour keeps his hand on Yuna, and takes her further away. The sight of Yuna needing to be saved at all makes her feel like she failed. She failed as her Guardian.

If she'd seen her own people coming - then maybe Yuna wouldn't be in this position. Maybe. That view of the distance between them increasing is enough that the firing line that awaits them doesn't seem to matter to her.

Kinoc aims a rifle shot at her, and suddenly she drops her arm, as her shield covers the shot. However, it's truly difficult for any shield to actually stop a rifle shot. As it suddenly pits into it and the force drives it against her leg.

Rikku finds herself stumbling on one foot as her thigh muscles seize up, and with a grimace, she shouts at Maester Kinoc, "Talk about ungrateful!" What's she referring to? Well, she gave him treatment when Gatta nearly murdered him... and Yuna was needed elsewhere. "I saved your life!"

On that day perhaps Rikku had some hope that in the tragedy there might be less tension between her people and Yevon. Recent events feel like they've dashed away that hope permanently, and she's just so raw from that. Lunata and Gon's exchange only makes it so much worse for her right now, because it forces her to think about it despite how much she knows her priority should be Yuna.

Recovering from her stumble, she catches Mariel's apple, and bites into it. "Mmm!" Some of the juices flow down the thieves sticky fingers.

And then she rushes forward with even greater abandon to follow up behind on the path Tidus is cutting, the apple's surge of energy boosting her forward. But she sees the Machina rush Lulu and nearly flatten her with the kick, Rikku shouts, "Lulu!" And she almost backpeddles to go back and help. Because, she knows she could probably take apart that Machina quickly. However, Lulu calls out that she's fine. "I'm considering that a promise that you'll be right behind me Lulu!" Rikku calls out, before continuing her charge forward rather than doubling back.

As Tidus shouts at Seymour, Rikku gets an angry grimace. "He'll run out of room before long! We're almost there!"

And then in an interesting moment, like Rikku simply temporarily memorized Tidus' muscle movement, and scythes her arm upwards in a slash. And while there is no watery property to her claw...

... a jet volley wave of water slices up the stairs past Tidus to careen into the next wave of Guards trying to close in on him. Before patting him on the back briefly in a moment of Guardian solidarity as she catches up, "That worked out so well that I decided it needed an encore!"

GS: Formation! Rikku has attacked Seymour Guado with Riptide Cutter!
GS: Rikku has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Rikku has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

    Shalune is more ready this time; she catches the start of Gon's command, and whirls just in time to interject her staff between herself and the Guardian that lunges for her, the slat of metal between two of those bladed claws. Even then, the impact sends her skidding backwards, and she grits her teeth against a gash that appeared at her side even if she's not exactly sure when it happened.

    Her arms are shaking from the effort, and she can feel her strength waning - but when the mask slips, and when Gon explodes in a not-so-righteous fury, the sheer pique of it all is enough to make her dig deep into herself and start to push back.

    That, and it's the perfect reminder that she doesn't actually have to fight fair here. Her knee goes up - even if it doesn't hit the Guado, it's a sudden enough movement to take the Guardian by surprise, and gives her the leverage to lunge forwards and twist her staff, driving an elbow into her opponent's face then shoving him away with a kick.

    She could say 'you just weren't trying hard enough', or she could say 'just try it', but-- something tells her bravado isn't the right choice, and she actually can't bring herself to make light of the Yevonite's past attempts to take down Sin. She'd like to think, for Lunata's sake, that most of them are good people.

    "... okay. Your faith against ours, then," she declares instead, her gaze hard. Jay throws her a potion, and she pauses for just long enough to drain the flask - before throwing the empty glass up and into the air, setting her feet, and turning her shotstaff upwards towards it. "Go!" she yells, and a solid white line of light hits the spinning glass, shards and prisms flicking every which way in a storm of bolts.

GS: Shalune Amira has attacked Gon Guado with Petal Burst!
GS: Shalune Amira has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Shalune Amira has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

"Yes," Elly answers Harmaus, twisting her staff round again. She stamps it on the step before her with a faint tong-g.

She can feel Yuna's gaze, somehow.

But it is to Harmaus she keeps speaking. "Maybe you intend it so," she says, "but you'll change your mind if you can. It isn't about right or wrong, about what should or should not be. I wonder if it ever is. I think it's ultimately all about power... the power to show mercy, if it pleases you, or to refrain if it doesn't -"

And then Harmaus sheds the form he wore. But of course he did. Why shouldn't he?

A Seraph doesn't have to have a body like them.

Elly is obscurely but profoundly disquieted by this - enough that she is silent for a shocked moment - and in that moment Harmaus calls upon a profound light.

It dawns - Elly is a momentary shadow -

And then within the shrieking intensity of the light, she raises her voice.

"Because you have the power - or you're standing near the power - you can do whatever you want. That's the same law I see so many of you follow-- but there's part of it that never comes to you, but you know it deep in your bones!"

Or their equivalent.

Inside of the white-litten immensity, something blooms.

It slides forwards through the light. It cannot be seen (what with... all the light) but it can be felt. It is something like a snake or a vine as it moves forwards. In the horrid glare, Elly (who wonders in the back of her mind if her eyes got melted out of their sockets - oh no - but that's a problem for ten seconds from now -) has placed her hopes and awareness entirely in that magical perception that she was taught and drilled upon in a place perhaps not entirely dissimilar to Home, long ago.

"Which is that - you have to be sure - that you have 'that power'... because if you don't...!!"

It moves in a helical spiral, rolling clockwise as it feels towards Harmaus. Harmaus can probably sense it coming. A projection of will in the form of magic. Unusually persistent, lingering magic - more of a standing manifestation than anything. It's searching for him.

"If you don't... then that means someone else does. I can't begin - to understand why you, why all of you are SO EAGER for that -- but -- I won't --"

Boudicca says something imploring. Elly doesn't know what she said. Probably.

But the tone was clear. "I won't just - let you - walk over everyone in this world--!!"

That serpent-shape of standing flame seems to hesitate - before looping upwards as if to dive. At the apex of that momentary parabola it spreads outwards, shedding secondary formations in a rippling net that perhaps looks more like wings. A moment later the external coherence collapses and there is another of those hyper-heated SHRIEKS as the air bursts, the driven force of magic aiming to contain Harmaus and immolate him!

GS: Elhaym van Houten has activated a Force Action!
GS: Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from Lulu's Waterga for 167 hit points!
GS: Cover and Riposte! applied to Lulu!
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Rikku's attack becomes clear!
GS: Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from Rikku's Copycat for 227 hit points!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has attacked Seraph Harmaus with Thermo Phoenix!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Elhaym van Houten takes an additional 35 damage from Reaper!
GS: Elhaym van Houten takes 26 damage from Poison!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield expired!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has completed her action.
GS: Your next attack with the Sneak flag will display with the name Light Unyielding.
<Pose Tracker> Lan Lilac has posed.

    The wind, the wind Lan has always loved for its freedom, the wind that sings through the boughs of the orchard back in Little Firelight... the wind calls to her again. With a human voice, this time. One Lan remembers, though it's been many, many months since she heard it last.

    'That flesh is true'? She's in the middle of opening her mouth to ask what that means when Elly's stone spears pierce into Harmaus's shoulders like the fangs of a giant snake. She's pulling her ribbon away when the man's mouth opens, blood drooling out. She's coming to a stop between Elly and Boudicca, a hand rising to cover her mouth as something... emerges from him, and Lan suddenly, finally understands why that man had felt like anathema to her. What had spoken to them wasn't a man at all. "Is he...?" Did they kill him?

    The peaceful mien on the corpse's face isn't comforting to her.

    She's slowed by her horror, the blinding tendrils of light snatching her up and entangling her, an unwelcome mirror of how her own ribbon had bound that man. But light eventully fades; day always turns to night, and the night is long and beautiful and full of stars. Tears run down her cheeks as Lan pulls herself together, reaching for that star that she carries inside of her heart.

    "O you of hopes and dreams," she grits out, as a meteor descends from the clouds above. "O you of endless wishes!"

GS: Lan Lilac has attacked Seraph Harmaus with Material - Shooting Star!
GS: Lan Lilac has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Oh, of course he grabs her, Cecilia thinks, with her lip flat. She reaches for her case again. She can still go. She can still keep this up! She doesn't know Yuna all that well, but is it strange to feel a certain kinship with a fellow summoner of spirits, even if their methods vary so much? Besides...

She knows that look on her face better than she's comfortable with.

Which is why she gets totally clobbered. She wasn't watching closely enough and the blasts from the incoming...robot? Blast all aroun dher. One scorches her inner barrier before she forces her shield up, and she gets a good look at the attacker. A chill rushes down her spine and seems to fill every inch of her with frost. "No, no..." she whimpers, and she thinks she smells burning wood. She slams her eyes shut, shaking her head fiercely. "You'd use even our own Demons against us," she mutters. "Fine! That's how I came to be here!"

One of Mariel's apples flies toward her then; she snatches it out of the air and bites into it, letting the freshness of Filgaia's greenery fill her. "Thank you!" she calls over.

She slaps her case again, producing a third Medium and whirling it about her. The air around her crackles with electrical energy as the Ley turns within her, filling the Medium with power. Finally it bursts apart. "Material!"

What emerges behind her is a huge beast - lionlike, bristling with long whiskers, the size of a bus as its crackling eyes stare across the Yevon host. It opens its mouth, roaring like thunder as it arches its back. Beads of light gather in its mouth and then a column of lightning erupts from it, piercing through that half-Hyadean machina before sweeping down to crash against the Warrior Monks.

When the light of the summoned Noua Shax fades, Cecilia is huffing for breath, rattled and tired, but still standing.

GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has activated a Force Action!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Seymour Guado with Material - Rage Hammer!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Marivel glances to Boudicca, sliding back a foot. Boudicca knows that Marivel isn't going to NOT kill someone neccessarily, even if they are in over their heads, even if they don't know the full truth.

But that doesn't mean she's pro-possessionn or anything. Marivel respects that Harmaus wants the truth. Part of her can't even blame him for renouncing Althena. Affter all, isn't that what SHE has done over and over? If it weren't for their callous regard of humanity, and that is a bigger thing to Marivel than one might suspect....

She might be unalliagned with Harmaus at all.

She looks at... the cat.

Tendrils lash out at Marivel and heft her up like they would a marionette tied to its strings. Her hand lolls to the side as she regards Harmaus.

"Althena..." Marivel says to Harmaus. "The Goddess..."

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BhUf4GgPwM&t=104s&ab_channel=MRARLES

Her eyes flare crimson. "You speak...of Althena...as if you know her."

She dissolves into smoke and drifts away, leaving the tendrils gripping NOTHING but air.

"You speak of Althena as if you comprehend her." The smoke whispers.

And then within the smoke, a pair of blazing crimson eyes as a wolf-like form--A Hound of Hell--appears, formless yet with form.

And then there is a pause. Those eyes slant towards Boudicca.

From here she can see Yuna in the distance, being seized by Seymour. A second pair of blazing eyes look at Seymour. A man who was once her ally, too. But Marivel is accustomed to betrayal. She has known betrayal for longer than Spira's existence.

"Did you hear her sing?" The Hound of Hell whispers to Harmaus.

"Did you see her tears?" The Hound of Hell is more insistent. It almost, for a moment, sounds like Marivel is defending the very creature she has declared to the world--to the Guard itself--that she would devour.

"Do you even know..or care...what she sacrificed to make you? To make your world? You, of all people, of all CATS, have no recourse to speak such of her! You, whose world would exist for naught if not for her! Yet you lecture to that whom she let die about her lies?!"

Fangs upon fangs gleam within the shadow creature.

"I'll tear thy soul to pieces for your insolence towards Althena...!"

Why would Marivel act such towards someone who fundamentally seems to agree with her? The shadow construct lunges forward, its jaws opening wide as it clamps down towards Harmaus--even as the body positions itself between Boudicca and Harmaus. Marivel is enraged, but she hasn't lost sight of the mission--or her dear friendship.

"Nobody talks shit about my friends...BUT ME! Her children forged from aether should be bowing their heads in gratitude!"

Because Althena was her friend. And somehow, somehow, SOMEHOW that still means something to Marivel even now, even though every other ounce of faith has burned away.

GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Seraph Harmaus with The Hound Of Hell Has Strong Jaws!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

If Seymour cares that his crimes are being spoken of, he does not let it show. There is a certain charismatic confidence in how it all rolls off him; about how he seems alarmed, but not disturbed, at this turn of events. He feels, somehow, still in control. He looks down at Yuna, and he sees something in her eyes. Despair.

There is a tiny, small part -- the part that remembers his mother, clinging to her skirts and screaming for her to not go -- that is horrified at how wonderful he finds seeing that he caused her such despair. He silences that part of him. He deems it weakness.

He lets her go and smiles at her. She won't be moving. Instead, he looks down at the battle, and that smile -- already cold -- turns absolutely frigid. "Lunata!" he calls out. "You've come to wish me well? How kind of you!"

And then his eyes track down towards Tidus. They lock eyes for a moment. "I tire of you, boy. What do you know of our world? You are nothing--from nowhere." He glances down at Biggs, then Wedge. "Put an end to this charade."

"You got it," Biggs says. He looks down at Tidus, and then charges for him. Several Guado Guardians charge ahead -- and he slashes and strikes his way through. The big, armored Guado runs down with a bellowing charge. His shield is held out; his broadsword swings back, then slams down. When it does, columns of gold-white light explode down, raining down on Tidus from above, before Biggs slams his shield for his face.

Which is when Wedge jumps in. He comes down, crashing into Tidus from above. He leaps off him, then, and dives down for Auron. As he does, his form ignites; fire shoots up around him, and the wiry Guado Guardian crashes down for Auron with a bellow.

The Bomb flies backward. The fiend shrieks -- pulses, flesh rippling -- and then bounces back from Mariel. It explodes in a fireball over Mariel and Ivan, raining down about them. Pyreflies all waft away, one after the other. The Guado Guardians are being beaten back, but a YAT-99 zips down from above. It flies by Mariel, strafing at her. Shots rain down, slamming down behind her, and perhaps on her, as it pulls up after its fly-by.

But the Guado Guardians in front are scattered. Ivan's blade slams into them, punching them backward, and then the fireball he looses explodes. They fly up in arcs. One slams, bodily, into the YAT-99. It veers, twisting -- and the flying, two-gunned machina twists about. Both cannons aim down at Ivan, and fire down at him.

The YKT-63 stands up, straight, after Azoth is smashed down into a crater like that. The three pink eyes look down; they twist, slightly, as ancient lenses shift to change its focus. Then, blue-white light explodes out, and a blade slashes into it. It cleaves it in twain; explosions sound, as its halves fall over.

Several Warrior Monks fly, too. They hit the ground, rolling. But, high up, one of the modified YAT-99 drones sweeps in; it has that strange metal that seems to have grown on it, strands reaching out like plant growth. Red mechanical eyes blink, and then it flies down for Azoth from above. A huge claw, as large as he is, reaches out -- and then tries to grasp him tightly.

Ida tears herself free, bodily, from the terrible drone not unlike the one that Azoth just fought. Her shots riddle it. It crumples; it lays still for a moment. She starts up more of the steps, one after the other. Blood and quicksilver trail after her. Then, there is a light 'whirr' behind her.

The Hyadean-machina hybrid lifts into the air. Part of it opens -- a beam gathers, grows brilliantly, and a blast of white light explodes down at Ida, trying to engulf her from behind.

Another of them faces off against Cecilia. The Gurdian summoned looses a column of lightning, which smashes into the thing. Sparks explode and spray outward, joining with the pyreflies in the air. The thing is slammed back through charging Warrior Monks, who scatter bodily. Then, the drone lifts up, crackling and shuddering. It surges down, claw opened, and tries to grab Cecilia with it--

--and then SLAM her into the railing on the side of the stairway.

"LIES!" the Yevonite Cleric shouts, before a spell that he could not pull off slams into him. He had just climbed back up, too, after Lulu's spell.. and then Lemina's artfully done lances of ice slam into him. "There is no lineage! There is no chart! There is--KYAAAAH--"

He is knocked back over. This time, he does not move back up.

But the ground underneath Lemina's feet shakes, mightily. It rumbles as if something hit behind her -- and if she turns, she will see what it is: a huge, armless machina. The three-eyed, towering YKT-63 reels back a foot -- and then slams it for Lemina, trying to pitch the Ausa mage back down the stairs with that mighty and terrible kick.

"Heh," Kinoc spits. His eyes meet Rikku, briefly. "Yeah? Well--nothing personal!"

Then he grits his teeth, as Rikku also rips through some of the Yevonites in their way. Guado Guardians get thrown aside; a Warrior Monk takes a tumble, falling down the stairs. "Get her!" Kinoc shouts, and a Warrior Monk bellows, running right for her. His flamethrower shudders -- and then lets loose with a huge gout of flame.

Kinoc looks down, and spots Lulu on the stairs this time. He sees Guado Guardians and Yevonite monks alike scattered, as the huge gout of water knocks them backward. There aren't so many steps up to Yuna now, and yet a great distance. Kinoc frowns, and then extends a hand out towards his attendant. "Rifle," he says. A pause, and then he adds: "The special one."

"Yes, Maester Kinoc," the attendant says. He hands Kinoc a larger rifle than the last.

Kinoc lifts it -- runs his fingers over it carefully, before he flicks a couple of switches on it. He lifts it to his shoulder, taking aim. Lulu is in his sights. His eyes meet hers for a moment, and he cracks a smile. Then, he flicks a final switch; then the barrel suddenly expands, compartments lifting it up to make more of an immense cannon on his shoulder.

BGM/apologies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqQ3hP_q7Ns

Kinoc winks, before he pulls the trigger.

A massive cannonball fires down. It cuts a rut straight through the stairs before it comes crashing down at the Black Mage.

GS: Seymour Guado takes 31 damage from Poison!
GS: Mighty and Weaken expired!
GS: Seymour Guado has completed his action.
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Cecilia Adlehyde's Material - Rage Hammer for 97 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Mariel with YAT-99 - Double Cannon!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Lemina Ausa with YKT-63 - Thrust Kick!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Formation! Seymour Guado has attacked Tidus with Biggs - Climhazzard!
GS: Seymour Guado has launched an attack Link!
GS: Seymour Guado spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Tidus with Wedge - Rising Phoenix!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Ivan with YAT-99 - Double Cannon!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Azoth with YDF-X1 - Metal Claw!
GS: Seymour Guado enters a Counter stance!
GS: Seymour Guado spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with YDF-X1 - Photon Beam!
GS: Seymour Guado spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Rikku with Warrior Monk - Flamethrower!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with YDF-X1 - Metal Claw!
GS: Seymour Guado enters a Counter stance!
GS: Seymour Guado's  stance ends. He enters the  stance!
GS: Seymour Guado spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Lulu with Kinoc - Tiro Finale!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado takes 25 damage from Poison!
GS: Seymour Guado has completed his action.
GS: Rikku takes a glancing hit from Seymour Guado's Warrior Monk - Flamethrower for 69 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Rikku gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Poison! applied to Rikku!
GS: Mariel critically Guards a hit from Seymour Guado's YAT-99 - Double Cannon for 28 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Mariel gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Azoth has activated a Force Action!
GS: Azoth critically Guards a hit from Seymour Guado's YDF-X1 - Metal Claw for 38 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Azoth gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: CRITICAL! Ida Everstead-Rey guards a hit from Seymour Guado's YDF-X1 - Photon Beam for 127 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey enters Critical health and gains 25 FP!
GS: Lulu has activated a Force Action!
GS: CRITICAL! Lulu takes a glancing hit from Seymour Guado's Kinoc - Tiro Finale for 112 hit points!
GS: Cripple! applied to Lulu!
GS: Cover and Hyper! applied to Seymour Guado!
GS: Lulu's Force Evade activates!
GS: Lulu has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
GS: Lemina Ausa guards a hit from Seymour Guado's YKT-63 - Thrust Kick for 99 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Lemina Ausa gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Disease! applied to Lemina Ausa!
GS: Ivan takes a solid hit from Seymour Guado's YAT-99 - Double Cannon for 168 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Ivan gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Disrupt! applied to Ivan!
GS: Seraph Harmaus takes a solid hit from Elhaym van Houten's Thermo Phoenix for 170 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seraph Harmaus gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Shieldbreak! applied to Seraph Harmaus!
GS: Seraph Harmaus takes a solid hit from Lan Lilac's Material - Shooting Star for 148 hit points!
GS: Charge!! You gain 55 FP!
GS: Seraph Harmaus enters Critical health and gains 25 FP!
GS: Seraph Harmaus enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Seraph Harmaus guards a hit from Marivel Armitage's The Hound Of Hell Has Strong Jaws for 63 hit points!
GS: Gon Guado takes a solid hit from Shalune Amira's Petal Burst for 230 hit points!
GS: Tidus completely evades a hit from Seymour Guado's Biggs - Climhazzard!
GS: Tidus's Force Evade activates!
GS: Tidus completely evades a hit from Seymour Guado's Wedge - Rising Phoenix!
GS: Tidus's Force Evade activates!
<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.
<SoundTracker> Tragedy - Final Fantasy X - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7P_muBRgNA

Alarmingly, Yuna does not respond further to any calls to her, or anything else at all. Not to the screams of her friends, or those of her enemies. Every injury, every death here is a wound pierced directly through her spirit. She blames herself for all of it. Guilt and misery exude from her sagging shoulders, her lowered head.

(Not reacting to Lulu, especially, is the hardest thing she's ever done. And she's setting that record over and over and over just now.)

Now, consider the architecture one more time. The Ten Thousand Stairs, desperately being ascended by the invaders, desperately being defended by those who call this place holy, and those who call this place home.

So, once Seymour releases his helpless little bride, and turns his full attention downward at last, there is only one Yevonite who can see Yuna and the battle at the same time. His name is Grand Maester Mika. Leader of the peoples of Spira. Highest authority of Yevon. Honorable, beloved, wise. The first name she ever learned that wasn't her own or her parents'.

They have never spoken, but Yuna loves and trusts him with all her heart. She is a true daughter of Yevon, and he is all Yevon's father.

And he is the one who most needs to see the truth about Seymour, unfiltered by intermediaries, unvarnished by words. An audience of one, yes... but the only one who can stand for all.

Originally she had planned to make her move at the moment of greatest distraction within the wedding itself: when Seymour kissed his bride and the crowd -- all Spira, over the sphere network -- erupted in joy. But this chance is better in every way.

She seizes it.

It transpires that Lady Summoner Yuna accessorized for her wedding with one more thing of her own, besides the pretty silver necklace. Slowly at first, so as not to give the game away to her would-be groom too quickly, Yuna removes the symbol of her duty and conduit of her power, the three-teared summoner's rod she earned at Besaid Temple, from the bouquet that rests in the small of her back.

Without looking behind her -- without looking at anything but the ground -- she expands the rod to its full length with a flick of her wrist.

And then she draws it out from behind her back, and places it between herself and her momentarily careless enemy.

There was a time, and a place, when and where Yuna's Sending took an elaborate dance, an extensive ritual; that was many massacres ago. She has guided so many souls to their final rest since then. And the location helps her also; this is the heart of the Palace of St. Bevelle. The holiest ground in Yevon, short of those places that only summoners may go, at the end of their pilgrimage. She believes in it.

And she believes in herself.

She MUST do this. Everything that Seymour has done since she confronted him at Macalania, all his monstrous evil, is evil she unleashed. She never wanted to kill him, but more than his death is on her conscience; it is his undeath that is the most dangerous. It is the ultimate wrong -- her greatest failure and darkest sin -- and hers to right, before he can do any more harm.

Her hands do not shake, as they grasp her weapon horizontally, in the starting position of the Sending. And her eyes do not grieve. Defiance fills them, fills her.

THIS is why Yuna came to this place. This is why she is here.

As the rod spins to bisect her face vertically, the first gesture of the ritual, her strength waxes within her, already reaching its apex -- she can feel the pyreflies already responding to her call. Attuning to her heart.

Drawing towards her -- and out of him.

At last, the truth will out.

Let Grand Maester Mika -- let everyone -- see exactly who he wishes her to marry.

<Pose Tracker> Gon Guado has posed.

    It is true from a mathematical perspective that Gon is a more experienced fighter by decades... in so far as the combat styles of Spira and the roaming Fiends go. Spira, a land caught in a death spiral of sorrow and stasis. Unable to grow, unable to change, only to endure its circumstances best it can - it's no wonder Althena's forces have had the upper hand.
     Lunata, Jay, and Shalune - like every Drifter here - exists outside of that bio-dome of relentless destruction that had been largely met with complacent acceptance of the circumstances. The three of them - and everyone else here racing up the steps! - have not gotten with the program.
     It matters little that Gon is more experienced a fighter in Spira's environs and ways, because everything about Lunata is simply beyond that as she dramatically leaps off a YAT-99's shell that gets zapped by a Guado Guardian's lightning spell too late to stop her.
     He looks up as she proclaims she murdered that second Sin with the help of 'giant robots.'
     "What?!" Is all he can say as five Lunata Crozes cross through, shooting blades past his defenses. (His defenses tend to be 'the large metal gauntlets,' which cannot cover all five directions at once.) His blood - a different color than humans - spills acros the steps.
     Shalune kicks the parried Guardian right into a reeling Gon, who slams a claw into one step as the other tumbles down the steps. Her thoughts may have merit - everything that's going on here seems to be something beyond anything the people of Spira could have imagined. How well could they take to the truth that a Giant Robot may or may not be good enough to defeat Sin? (Whatever that is.)
     In this moment of distraction, Jay further pushes her disagreements. It may say a lot that the most he manages as she picks apart the argument before her can be summed up as, and actually is, "You ignorant...!" He doesn't get to finish that because Jay moves on to condemning his declaration of what he would be willing to see have happen for sake of getting these people to respect the way things are.
     Jay delivers healing sparkles of a great potency that has him taken aback just seeing the golden sparkles form and disperse as they do. Reinvigorating, restorative... and this is on someone who is by his understanding some sort of Unsent-But-Not, and a still-living human young woman. At the same time.
     "What fiendery is that?!" Gon exclaims, as if the Aura Bottle were the most unsettling thing to him - someone who was there at Seymour's fall and knew his mortal shell was beyond his reach as one of the most potent user of 'prayers' (Spira's term for White Magic) among his own kind as Shalune gets her turn to attack with the declaration of '(y)our faith against (y)ours, then.' Shards and prisms strike in a wide area as Guado Guardian reinforcements move in to try and stop the advance - but they're all blindsided and shot by the Petal Burst, and sent dispersing, tumbling, and falling.
     The air grows warmer - almost uncomfortably hot - as Gon shouts out a prayer (an incantation of Althenian sorcery style through the cultural lens of Spira) as the temperature around him raises to the call of the spell's name: "Berserkga...!"
     He looks a little redder, which is weird to think of because his blood is not red. It may say enough that he doesn't seem to have a well-structured verbal rebuttal to any of their claims as he takes a step towards Shalune with a growing growl and raising roar, leaping up a ways into the sky where Filgaia can be barely made out in the day sky.
     "Moonflow Blue Crescent!!" Gon shouts as he descends at rapid speed with forward momentum, a wide slashing wave resembling Gaia when it waxes in his attempt to slice through all three of them at once.
     His eyes track up through the clearing armies - he can see what's about to happen, but the words do not escape him. (A letter does: "Nnnnnn...?!")

GS: Gon Guado has attacked Gon Guado with Berserkga!
GS: Gon Guado takes a solid hit from Gon Guado's Berserkga for 0 hit points!
GS: Burst and Hyper! applied to Gon Guado!
GS: Mighty! applied to Gon Guado!
GS: Gon Guado has activated a Boss Action!
GS: Gon Guado has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Moonflow Blue Crescent!
GS: Gon Guado has attacked Lunata Croze with Moonflow Blue Crescent!
GS: Gon Guado has attacked Shalune Amira with Moonflow Blue Crescent!
GS: Gon Guado has gained 3 Combo!
GS: Gon Guado's Avenger stance ends.
GS: Gon Guado takes 24 damage from Poison!
GS: Gon Guado has completed his action.
GS: Jacqueline Barber takes a solid hit from Gon Guado's Moonflow Blue Crescent for 169 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Jacqueline Barber gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Shieldbreak! applied to Jacqueline Barber!
GS: Lunata Croze takes a solid hit from Gon Guado's Moonflow Blue Crescent for 149 hit points!
GS: Shieldbreak! applied to Lunata Croze!
GS: Shalune Amira takes a solid hit from Gon Guado's Moonflow Blue Crescent for 161 hit points!
GS: Shieldbreak! applied to Shalune Amira!
<Pose Tracker> Tidus has posed.

    Rikku steps up next to Tidus and mimics his attack with a swipe of her claw, sending force of her own rising up the stairs to clear the path upwards. He grins back at her as she claps his shoulder. "Heh, that sequel of yours was pretty great!" His expression changes to horror when he sees Lulu, further down the stairs at their back, knocked down. "Lulu!" he shouts, starting to double back for her--but Auron thrusts out an arm to block his path.
    
    "What are you here for?" he barks.
    
    Tidus wavers for a half-second; then he nods firmly. Lulu would never forgive him if he abandoned Yuna to go to her side instead. He'll have to trust that one of their allies will keep her safe.
    
    "Then *get going*!" Auron orders, turning to face the incoming Guado Guardians.
    
    "Quit ordering me around, old man!!" Tidus yells back even as his legs pump, carrying him back up the stairs.
    
    What does he know of their world? It's true, there's a lot he doesn't know. Tidus knows and accepts that he was ignorant. Seymour might see that in his eyes when their glares meet. A nothing, though? From nowhere?
    
    "I'm from Zanarkand, asshole!!" he snaps back without thinking.
    
    It's *absolutely* not the smart thing to say, especially in this kind of mixed company, but he just had to throw SOME kind of quip at Seymour. He'll regret it later when his brain catches up with his mouth.
    
    Biggs and Wedge charge for Tidus and Auron. He ducks, weaves, and somehow falls *up* the stairs, using the magical enhancement Marivel granted him earlier to create inertia to fight gravity, and so rolling up underneath that shield and blade, leaving Biggs' shield to act as Wedge's landing gear instead. When Wedge flies flaming towards Auron, Auron parries him with a great, echoing CLANG, his feet grinding into the toothy carpet as he holds his ground. For an instant, it seems he'll hold him off just fine; then Biggs's arrows of light pierce down towards him, and he snarls in pain, losing momentum to the ones with the higher ground.
    
    But Tidus is ahead, past the Guado, and charging up to the top of the stairs. If Auron can buy him time to get to Yuna--so be it.
    
    As for Tidus, he skids to a halt, seeing Yuna preparing to send Seymour. His eyes widen in realization. So this was what she was trying to do! He grins, then launches himself forward at Seymour. If Yuna's going to Send him, then Tidus's absolutely got to give her the chance to pull it off.
    
    "Get tired of THIS, Seymouuuurrrrr!!!" he snarls, launching into a series of rapid sword slashes at the Maester, meant to pull his attention onto him and off of Yuna. This is true even if more guards jump in the way to take those hits rather than Seymour himself. As long as Seymour's distracted--!

GS: Tidus spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Tidus has attacked Seymour Guado with Slice and Dice!
GS: Tidus has launched an attack Link!
GS: Tidus has attacked Seymour Guado with Quick Hit!
GS: Tidus has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Tidus's Avenger stance ends.
GS: Tidus has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Ida hears something go whirr on the stairs behind her. A sinking sensation settles into her gut, as she realizes she's turned her back on an active enemy. The heiress is badly-injured; something seems to be staunching the flow of blood, keeping her from certain exsanguination, but she shouldn't be able to dodge the certain death coming her way.

    Ida spins on a heel, raises her right arm, and extrudes exoskeleton. The plates click together to form a shield, which Ida places between herself and the onrushing beam of energy. The YDF's assault slams into her, rocking her back on her heels. Hyadean exoskeleton begins to carbonize, and Ida extrudes more, shapeshifting to keep her shield intact. By some miracle, she is still in one piece after the assault ends.

    She's in bad shape, though. Both of her arms are covered with char-colored, burnt flesh, and the only mercy is it isn't human flesh. Silvery tissue seems to be filling in the hole the claw made in her.

    With her back to the grand altar, Ida doesn't immediately notice Yuna's gambit. Instead, she holsters her Devil's Arm and places her free hand on a leather pouch at her side. Her eyes close for a moment, and when they open again, one is bright green, not unlike Yuna's. That eye traces the path of the drone before it even moves.

    Ida sucks in a deep breath, letting it suffuse her despite her broken ribs. Boudicca can feel her drawing on the link between them, sense Ida's pain and fear and determination.

    "Moor Gault," Ida intones. The prayer ends there--the words do, anyway. Golden-white light etches out a mandala at her feet. Devil's Due glows like the sun itself.

    Ida pulls the trigger. What erupts from the barrel is no mere gout of flame, like the flamethrowers used by the Warrior-Monks--it's a firebird, a great, flaming manifestation of the power that sustains the world. It flies at the drone, letting out a keening SCREAM as it throws itself at the Yevonite machine--and then it doubles back around, swooping down with talons extended for the one harrassing Azoth.

    These are not products of Malevolence. Nevertheless, sometimes one must go out of their way to express one's displeasure.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Inhalation!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has launched an attack Link!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Inhalation for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! applied to Ida Everstead-Rey!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey spends 3 Combo on Poison and Gatling, loading 2 into Gatling!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Seymour Guado with Breath Of The Fire Dragon!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Tidus's Slice and Dice for 111 hit points!
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Tidus's Quick Hit for 65 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
<Pose Tracker> Lulu has posed.

"I plan to be! Focus on Yuna!" Lulu calls back out to Rikku as she advances, blasting warrior monks out of the way with her terrible magic. nce, long ago... She would never have dreamed she would be on these steps, in this way. She would never have imagined a Pilgrimage would take her to this point; she would never have imagined that Yuna at a wedding would be like this.

But this is the reality she is in, amongst allies from another world as her own world proves more alien than Filgaia ever had. Lulu's dark brids flow behind her as she advances further still, making her way up the stairs. It's a great distance, yes. But she will alk it. She will run it, if she can, and she doesn't stop as she does. She pushes herself, drags herself up with every step in her heavy dress.

Lulu's eyes narrow as they meet Kinoc's, and he meets no hesitation. She stares right back, and prepares to move--

The stairs it cuts on its way to her are ancient, surely. Lulu is certain of that much. ll she has to do is move; to not be there, where Kinoc has aimed. Once again, as so many times, she begins to shift and step back...

The blast does not hit her full on. She is quicker than that. But she is not quick enough this time, the blast still slamming beside her with deafening impact, its shockwave more than enough. Lulu is very still, for a moment.

"I... I won't..."

She starts to take a step, and slouches more than she did before. "I won't..."

Swaying, the black mage falls on the steps, her doll bouncing along the stairs to land beside her. Her perfect nails scratch against stone, as Lulu attempts to will herself up. But she sees Yuna, and she sees her rod, her motions, what she's doing.

The black mage manages half a smile before unconsciousness threatens her, but it is a bittersweet thing. She could swear she feels fresh snow as on a cold night.

"Lu..." Wakka looks back, for a moment--"Haaaah--" He throws himself forward, Blitzball ahead of him slamming with an aura of power on it as Kimahri uses the opening to try to rush as far as he can get.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    It's in the midst of this that Lunata hears a voice that she didn't think would address her, not directly in the chaos of this combat. All the better, since she'd been bottling up all of her feelings about this sham of a wedding, as Jacqueline calls it.

    Her gaze looks on towards Yuna.

    Yuna, who was there for her when she was literally destroyed, turned into nothing more than viscious inky blackness.

    Yuna, who could hear her voice through physical boundaries, somehow.

    Yuna, who now stands in wedding-garb and yet in a state that defies any imagination of a wedding that she cares to believe in; her look seemingly listless.

    "Yuna!" Lunata calls out, purposefully ignoring Seymour's call to wish him well. "I don't know what your plan is... I hope you've got one. That's the only thing I want--"

    She throws her hand to one side.

    "I don't want to see someone else get hurt by Seymour the way you and I both have!!"

    But she answers her, even without answering her directly. It's everything Lunata wants.

    Because unlike other Drifters here, she can sense the Sending as it comes, as something primal inside her undead body starts screaming in terror. As that rod of hers moves, she can sense something welling, gelling inside of her--

    As black smoke starts to hiss out of her body.

    "...good..." Lunata gives her a thumbs-up that she's not sure she can see. It's symbolic.

    It's entirely good timing that Jacqueline throws a bottle of golden liquid, as she lets its contents seep inside of her. Two forces are clashing inside of her, but it's enough for her--

    --to get walloped wholesale by Gon, her body sluggish for a moment as he shouts the name of his technique. Only Shalune's timely shot saves her from more damage, as the Guado Guardian literally turns red and smashes through her with a slash-wave that sends toppling to the floor.

    "Hrg--" Lunata skids on the red carpet, grasping a bit of it with her hand.

    "No more use for words, huh... well..."

    The ex-waitress rises to her feet, unsteadily; she wills more power to come forth, more and more, centering herself only on the principle of being true to herself. Letting all the self-doubts and nagging anxieties wash away from her mind.

    "Then... I'll show you. I'll show you what I've found ever since Macalania!! I'm not the girl who's aimlessly grasping for death for an easy out anymore. I'll show you..."

GS: Lunata Croze spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Lunata Croze has attacked Lunata Croze with I'll Show You What It Means to Self-Own!!!
GS: Lunata Croze has launched an attack Link!
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    ......... someone might need to workshop that with Lunata. But.

    "Not Ge Ramtos'... not anyone else's... but... my very own...!!"

    Self-owning aside, the burst of energy is enough to self-propel her upwards into the air; Gon can see a trailing, ephemeral weave of bright-red maple leaves cascading through her trajectory, as she brings down her blade in fullness to the Guardian.

    "Maple Leaf Rag!!!"

GS: Lunata Croze takes a solid hit from Lunata Croze's I'll Show You What It Means to Self-Own!! for 0 hit points!
GS: Burst and Hyper! applied to Lunata Croze!
GS: Lunata Croze has attacked Gon Guado with Here's My Own... Maple Leaf Rag!!
GS: Lunata Croze has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lunata Croze has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel is not doing well.

Exhausted from her descent and then ascent, frightened by the sudden arrival of near-Hyadean machines, Mariel is a relatively easy target for the strafing YAT-99 - or so it seems, for a moment. She certainly doesn't move very much except to reach into her now much emptier bag one last time, pulling out one item:

A Crest Cap.

Mariel cannot use Crest Magic. It is opposed, in some ways, to everything she does and is as an Elw; it is mathematical, precise, scientific. She makes tiny, infinitesimal adjustments to the Ley all the time, merely by *being*; pushing power into specific Crest-shaped and Crest-sized patterns is completely incomprehensible to the way she experiences the world. It is a form of sorcery by mortals, for mortals.

But a Crest Cap is something anyone can use. Everything is already prepared. It is closer to what she thinks of as alchemy. All she has to do is press on it, like this -

The cannonfire hits the still-standing Mariel - and bounces. Or, rather, it hits the barrier that she is holding in front of her; the force from the impact makes a wave of air pressure slam into Mariel, her knees buckling as she drops to them, but that's better than the bullets hitting *her*.

The barrier goes out, flickering and vanishing under the assault. Mariel feels unbalanced mentally and spiritually as well as physically - this is perhaps not a trick she will ever try again - but this once it saved her life.

Disoriented, she pushes herself back up, feeling out with her powers. If it was Filgaia underfoot she would be able to recenter herself, but it's not and she can't. She shoves herself up another few steps, gets as close to the top as she can -

And flings salt as high up as she can. She'd aim at Seymour, but she can't throw that far, so she's kind of scattering it around, trying to disrupt the formation of Fiends and scatter the pyreflies. Something about her presence as Mariel *reaches*, magically, affects them - as if she was an odd cross-current of wind.

Rather than continue her ascent to fight - Mariel is a poor fighter and she knows it - she reangles herself, staggering downward toward Lulu. She'll need help, Mariel thinks, though she isn't sure when she saw the other woman was hurt. She's reached out too far; her head hurts - though maybe that was the Crest Sorcery. "I'm coming - !" She still has enough in her bag for this.

GS: Mariel has attacked Seymour Guado with Purifying Salt!
GS: Mariel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde takes a solid hit from Seymour Guado's YDF-X1 - Metal Claw for 196 hit points!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Rikku has posed.


Rikku tries to focus herself on Yuna, whose silence is so eerie to her. What's going on? What is she trying to do? The chaos of the battle prevents her from keeping her attention as much on her as she would like.

Kinoc's blithe dismissal of that act makes Rikku feel a surge of anger. This Maester almost certainly plotted the attack on Home. And yet she reminds herself of her priorities. "Yuna is family." Rikku replies to Kinoc, "There is nothing more personal!" As he shouts to get her, Rikku preemptively tries to coil herself like a spring - alert of threats on all sides as she reaches the next flat platform of carpet.

A Warrior Monk's bellowing charge alerts her even as he points the nozzle of his flamethrower at her. And Rikku shrieks as the wave of flame comes towards her. And suddenly uses the momentum of herself to dive into a slide. Like a Blitzer that's just darted in to kick the ball out of the way.

Her orange blouse is on fire, as she hastily picks herself up and pats herself off as she tries to get out of his range, flames licking her as she rushes by. Though it's then that she sees Kinoc with his cannon like rifle. The barrel expanding, and firing at Lulu. "LULU!" She always looked up to Lulu. Saw Lulu as the mature, big sister like figure among the Guardians. Seeing her go down, seeing her fall, before she can get to Yuna... that's devastating to Rikku. By all rights, in her eyes, there's noone closer to Yuna than Lulu. There's probably no Guardian more determined than Lulu to keep moving forward.

And yet Lulu of all people would want her to keep going forward. No matter what.

And for just one moment, her anger takes priority over this rescue mission, as the metallic gauntlet like claw on the back of her hand expands, to show a compartment opening and a barrel retracting out of it. "Hey Kinoc." She says with a certain cold anger in her tone as she touches something in her palm, "Mine's better."

THOOMP

There is not the instant satisfaction of firing a rifle - or even a cannon. There is a delay when one fires a Grenade Launcher, and it sails in an arc towards him and his group of Warrior Monks. Her aim will probably not be perfect... but when one is firing Grand Grenades at someone...

... does it need to be?

She does not even wait to see the results of her shot. The explosion that she hears is all she needs. She tries to keep going... only to see the rod in Yuna's hands...

... and finds her breath catching in her throat. Even as Tidus roars... and leaps...

... could he do it? Could she?

GS: Rikku has activated a Force Action!
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Breath Of The Fire Dragon for 105 hit points!
GS: Poison! applied to Seymour Guado!
GS: Seymour Guado enters Critical health and gains 25 FP!
GS: Rikku has attacked Seymour Guado with Otherworld Special: Grand Grenade!
GS: Rikku takes 24 damage from Poison!
GS: Rikku has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Seymour Guado guards a hit from Mariel's Purifying Salt for 63 hit points!
GS: Dispel! Cover and Hyper removed!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

Lemina confidently twirls her staff with one hand, and snags an apple out of the air with the other. Conversationally, she affirms, "Chart. Big ol' elemental lineage chart. Terminating in me." Of course, there are... elements of it that she's a little shaky on admitting, and she certainly couldn't redraw it from memory; the Ausas enjoy them some genealogy but only in private, and strictly speaking she's not privy to the *whole* chart yet...

... but she doesn't have time to gloat because she promptly gets kicked in the face mid-apple bite. Conjuring a lengthy kid of ice beneath herself mid-flight, Lemina at least gets to slide to a stop rather than making a whole meaty thud at the other end. "Hey! I was gloating!" Lemina half-whines. "That's mega-rude!" she adds, as if she isn't now in her 20s and isn't fighting for her life. Maybe her plan is to be 17 and obnoxious forever, in her heart.

(Maybe we're all planning to be 17 and obnoxious forever, in our hearts. Is that not the essence of Drifting?)

She's a little far from Yuna to see the particulars of what she's doing -- but seeing a staff come out will never fail to excite an Ausa, which means there's a big ol' whoop of hype before she starts chanting again. She continues to gesture with her staff rather than make hand gestures; she starts with something that actually doesn't commit her to much *specific* offense, but quickly builds past it. Her maneuver... is actually one she's already used in recent memory, but she wants to show off. She's excited to build it *bigger* this time; she slams the butt of her own staff into the ground once, then gives it another twirl, all while chanting.

With a mighty flourish -- and louder than before -- she finishes, "Flare Vortex!" While before she'd just been kind of throwing a blaze in all directions for the sake of adding to the chaos, now she's focused on the Yevon machina. There's a little more than just the whirling fire to worry about this time, too; the *wind* is what's really impressive here, threatening to outright eject the machina from the battlefield if it doesn't hunker down... but hunkering down opens the opportunity to get burned, so it's hard to say what the better call even is.

GS: Lemina Ausa has activated a Force Action!
GS: Lemina Ausa spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Lemina Ausa has attacked Seymour Guado with Flare Vortex!
GS: Lemina Ausa has completed her action.
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Rikku's Otherworld Special: Grand Grenade for 111 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline watches, impressed, as Shalune takes the bottle and uses it to pull off an amazing feat.

"You've really been practicing." Jacqueline praises, before looking back toward Gon.

She ignores his proclamation of her ignorance in favor of continuing... and when he refers to her potion as Fiendery, a smug grin crosses her face.

"There's nothing Fiendish about it - and you of all people should know that." Jacqueline says. He did, after all, sic fiends on them not too long before. "That's Filgaian alchemy, plain and simple."

She seems pleased, but it goes away quickly as Gon shouts a spell. Berserkga. Jacqueline... can get an idea of what it does before it happens. She gets a feeling that she isn't going to like it - and these feelings are confirmed as he leaps upward, and then descends downward with a high-speed slash. Jacqueline attempts to back out of the way, but empowered by his Berserk state, she isn't fast enough. Her light armor and clothing above it take the brunt of the attack, but it's still enough to see her flinching backward and following to one knee as one arm moves protectively over the shallow cut he made across her mid-section.

She looks up, then, at Gon. And then beyond him, as she sees Yuna begin the Sending. Jacqueline looks toward Lunata. She knows she'll be fine, because she was at the sight of a Sending before and remained... but she still can't help but be a little concerned. Fortunately, her potion seems to help.

"...You see what's happening, right, Gon? Well... I'm the last person who would condemn him for being Unsent. But your Maester's been hiding a lot from you." Jacqueline says. She sees Lunata perform her attack - her own attack, in her own style, and the sight of Lunata's confidence is enough to force Jacqueline to get back to her feet.

"...Sorry, Gon. We have to keep going." Jacqueline says. She lowers herself into a spellcasting stance - though a sharp in-take of breath indicates that the wound he struck doesn't exactly make it pleasant - abandoning defenses for raw spellcasting ability.

In one swift motion, she casts two spell at once in tandem. With one hand, Jacqueline seeks to tear apart the stone path of Bevelle beneath him, invoking a Crest Graph to energy tearing through the debris, sending it flying upward, and possibly rendering Gon's stance unstable if he can't move out of the way - and with the other, Jacqueline brings down lightning from the heavens, striking both the debris and sending it crashing back down to the earth upon anything, and possibly Gon himself if he's still destabilized.

She takes a deep breath, after that. This day has taken a lot out of her already.

GS: Jacqueline Barber spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Gon Guado with Spellweaver Stance!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has launched an attack Link!
GS: Jacqueline Barber's  stance ends. She enters the Avenger stance!
GS: Formation! Jacqueline Barber has attacked Gon Guado with Dualcast - Voltaic Quake!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Jacqueline Barber's Avenger stance ends.
GS: Disrupt expired!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Azoth has posed.

Azoth's path is relentless. He cuts through a machina only to continue forward past the fallen monks. Even as his sword fizzles out, he continues his charge, stopping only with the shadow of another machine coming down on him, grasping him tightly.

It squeezes like a vice. Azoth's warning signals go off from the strain. Body his chassis refuses to give. Instead, Azoth's eyes gleam and focus on the machine. Though trapped in place, a lance of light forms above his assailant and crashes down. It promptly explodes, the excess energy bursting out in a spread of dancing energy bullets that chase after additional targets in streams.

Azoth uses the force of the explosion to kick out from the mechanical grip, flipping through the air to land in a crouch. Something strange catches his sensors, and he diverts his attention to the top of the stairs. There have been subtle shifts in the atmosphere here in this place called Lunar -- Spira -- but this one grows rapidly unsubtle.

He focuses in on Yuna, the movements she makes, and that energy drawing toward her, recording every detail into his memory. There's a new look in her eyes now, one that Azoth hopes means a a different choice is being put into motion.

GS: Azoth spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Azoth has attacked Seymour Guado with Data Detonation!
GS: Azoth has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Azoth has completed his action.
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Lemina Ausa's Flare Vortex for 114 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! applied to Seymour Guado!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Harmaus has posed.

    "Good to protect them in a world of lies?! For the sake of lies?" snarls the Seraph back at Boudicca. "No! This body is mine! I has uses for it yet!"

    The fingers of its hand, now freed of the burden of its weapon, tremble. Who is the one who is truly shaking?

    "We cares not," states the Seraph, deliberately, "for humanity."

    Once there was a girl who dwelled alone. Once there was an ancient statue. Once the girl and the statue were one, shell and sanctuary alike against a world that was harsh, was cruel, was..

    Who is the one who was truly cruel?

    The Seraph lands on the stairs, leaving his former body behind, and casts not a glance backwards.

    What was truly harsh?

    Once, in the place where the girl dwelt, there came a stranger. Just the once. And that stranger told her of the world beyond the grounds where she dwelled. He told her-- her fellow Seraph told her--
    Harmaus told her--

    What humans were like.

    "-You love a lie,-" says the Seraph, tilting his gaze towards her almost as if in pity. Light glimmers about Harmaus, but it is but a far-off thing. A thing distant and adrift in a universe vast and uncaring. Still, that light proceeds as it forever must, a thin and trailing line that loops its way towards the despairing Boudicca.

    Into this long terrible moment, Elly interjects.

    "It knows me not!" the Seraph retorts to Elly, now as himself, freed of the chains of mortal flesh once more. A cat face cannot emote as a human's might, but is there not fury in those eyes? And his ears, flattened against his head, his voluminous tail lashing. A Seraph can form themselves as they please, to some extend -- but, ah, is it not said that the mind is a plaything of the body? He has the shape of a cat, and so he has the mannerisms of a cat. "It has no right judging!" Harmaus snarls, rising to arch his back in the full expression of his wrath. "Only the truth! I wants only the truth! No more lies!"

    Within his light, something not his own glows bright. He can feel it, swirling through the brilliance -- a Seraph needs not eyes to 'see'. He bunches up, as if ready to leap. "It quiets now! I do as I must!" he utters, lowering his body against the steps, just before he springs into the air.

    It would have taken him free of the incantation. Ah, but, only if it were not for the way that the spell unfolds, catching the leaping Seraph and sending him with a rolling crash into the side of the staircase. He rises after a moment, but only after a moment. "Tcha..." snarls Harmaus, but when he looks up...

    He finds Marivel standing before him, free now from the luminous chains that would bind her.

    "She," he snarls in response, "Claims us her children. Are we, truly? No! More lies, lies, from Goddess of Falsehood!" he slings at the Crimson Noble. "Speaks to us not. Sees us not! A goddess, a false-mother, spurning children! Spare me its tales! Spare me lies, yet!" the infuriated Seraph nearly rants, as Marivel slips her form and takes one that is, perhaps, at odds with his own true self. She lunges then, forcing the Seraph to similarly leap out of the way of those snapping jaws--

    Just not quickly enough. Marivel for an instant catches a bit of him, some fragment of the spirit-stuff that forms his whole. But he rips himself from her and leaps for the ledge alongside the stairs, tail lashing.

    Upon which Lan brings down the starlight.

    There is a crater left where the star fell, edges smoldering with the fires of Guardian-wrought magic. And from the middle of that crater, there crawls the wounded true form of the Seraph Harmaus. He looks upon Lan, and he asks her one thing...
    In a language she cannot possibly understand.

    "-Do you think that you understand?-"

    He continues thus: "-To understand, one must begin with the fundamentals. ...Behold.-"

    In the beginning, there was nothing. And then everything was brilliant, explosive, expanding light. "Katalepsis!"

    Lan is caught -- it seems, it feels -- in the forge of creation, with all the pain that entails. The light swirls about her, gathering, growing--

    Expanding.

    "-Return to the origin, you debased forms!-" intones the Seraph. "Apocatastasis!"

    The world is a prism, full of light unbound.

GS: Seraph Harmaus enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Seraph Boudicca with Light Unyielding!
GS: Sneak! You have gained 1 Combo! Only you see this message.
GS: Seraph Harmaus has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Harmaus spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Lan Lilac with Katalepsis!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has launched an attack Link!
GS: Seraph Harmaus spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Lan Lilac with Apocatastasis!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Marivel Armitage with Apocatastasis!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Elhaym van Houten with Apocatastasis!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has gained 1 Combo!
GS: You have finished a Link/Follow chain. Remember to +round!
GS: Entangle expired!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has completed his action.
GS: Gon Guado takes a solid hit from Lunata Croze's Here's My Own... Maple Leaf Rag! for 237 hit points!
GS: Poison! applied to Gon Guado!
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

As the YAT-99 takes aim at Mariel -- and Mariel doesn't move -- Ivan rushes toward her. He might have been too late, but it ultimately doesn't matter; the attack bounces off of a shield she's created with portable Crest magic.

He gives a small sigh of relief, but finds he's drawn the attention of the machina now as well -- two cannons converge and blast toward him; he leaps, but the shockwave smashes him off his feet, knocking him down and back several steps, where he lands in a sprawl.

Ugh. He's some distance from where he had been standing, now, and there's a surge of guilt at leaving Mariel alone and without backup. He reaches out, and the inner fire that flares with his emotions flows out of his body at the wish to close that distance, an erratic spiral of flame starting at his shoulder and onrushing toward any enemy who might be approaching her.

GS: Gon Guado takes a solid hit from Jacqueline Barber's Spellweaver Stance for 113 hit points!
GS: Gon Guado has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
GS: Gon Guado takes a solid hit from Jacqueline Barber's Dualcast - Voltaic Quake for 241 hit points!
GS: Gon Guado has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
GS: Ivan spends 1 Combo on Gatling, loading 1 into Gatling!
GS: Ivan has attacked Seymour Guado with Inferno Heart!
GS: Ivan enters a Counter stance!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Seraph Harmaus's attack becomes clear!
GS: Seraph Boudicca takes a solid hit from Seraph Harmaus's Pallid Sun for 193 hit points!
GS: Seraph Boudicca takes an additional 45 damage from Reaper!
GS: Elhaym van Houten takes a glancing hit from Seraph Harmaus's Apocatastasis for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Elhaym van Houten gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Hex and Poison! applied to Elhaym van Houten!
GS: Elhaym van Houten takes an additional 15 damage from Reaper!
<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Cecilia does her best. She tries to keep her eye on the horrible THING she's fighting, while also keeping one eye toward Yuna, to see how the battle is turning. She doesn't know what she's expecting, really, but...something, surely...?

There. She's had to develop a few tricks for smuggling a staff, and she knows that starting posture well enough. Yuna's not coming...but she's making her play, whatever it is. She finds herself holding with courage as she turns to the Hyadean Machina, brandishing her staff and preparing herself for it.

Its body twitches, uncomfortably. Its eye shifts and refocuses, not like a camera but like a living eye. She thinks she hears a child screaming, and looks, urgently, only to see empty space.

The machina slams into her in this moment of distraction, and then whips her around and crashes her into the railing of the stairway. The masonry cracks. Her bones probably also do.

Cecilia does not scream. She just....slumps over, instantly unconscious.

GS: Lan Lilac takes a glancing hit from Seraph Harmaus's Katalepsis for 0 hit points!
GS: Break, Cripple, Jam, Mute, Slow, and Weaken! applied to Lan Lilac!
GS: CRITICAL! Lan Lilac takes a solid hit from Seraph Harmaus's Apocatastasis for 0 hit points!
GS: Hex and Poison! applied to Lan Lilac!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Harmaus has posed.

    That pale streamer of light...

    Becomes a star. And from the heart of that star, as it shudders and quakes and erupts in an explosion of stellar fury, burns cold and terribly with its brilliance, as if to render all before it to mere shadows.

GS: Marivel Armitage takes a solid hit from Seraph Harmaus's Apocatastasis for 0 hit points!
GS: Hex and Poison! applied to Marivel Armitage!
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

    "So that's it? You're just gonna ignore everything we said?" mutters Shalune almost to herself, before she meets Gon's descent with her staff, trying to block it. But the sheer strength of the assault is too much for her to bear, and it's with a yell of pain that she's sent dropping back and scattering down two stairs, a hanging moment of fear in her mind as she briefly imagines herself rolling down every single one of Bevelle's steps.

    When she thankfully stops, she has to take a moment to catch her breath and whisper a soft little non-denominational prayer - then snaps her head up at the song rippling through the air, and the black smoke peeling off of Lunata. "Lunie--" she starts to say, but claps her mouth shut, glancing once at Jay, and instead grins with a quiet, prideful determination.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    Harmaus does not care for humanity, and perhaps it is telling that in this moment, Boudicca does not cry out for humanity.

    She calls out to that human. The man Harmaus inhabited, the man he allows to die. That specific man - whose life is forfeit. He had a life, a family, hopes and dreams.

    Now he has nothing.

    Now he has nothing, and she KNEW, and she did nothing, because she was so sure her brethren were good at heart.

    She trusted him.

    This is not the first time she has trusted him.

    Once, there was a girl; brought low, perhaps that girl still breathes.

    '-You love a lie.-'

    The words run through her mind, and they are not the only words which take flight there. Words from not long ago; words from very long ago, indeed.

    'Did you know, when I was quite young... I was hidden away from the world? There was a woman who acted as my mother, though she just happened to find me when I emerged. And I heard...'

    '-That is a human. He is dangerous! You cannot bring him here, Boudicca!-'

    '... humanity was a threat. Mortals would use me, endanger me, imperil my soul and my psyche. So grievous were their crimes that they would sicken me with the sin in their souls, and this was a thing like death, anathema to us. Malevolence.'

    '-I had hoped to keep you from the cruel world of Men.-'

    'When my curiosity got the better of me, it even proved correct.'

    '-Mama, look, I am like you! Listen to me, Mama! Something has gone horribly wrong! Let us go back, Mama!-'

    And it is a lie her eyes tell, because they are not eyes, in the way of Men. The tears which well there are just the story she tells the world; a story of ancient pains, torn open by a wandering cat who told her so firmly just how harsh and cruel humanity was.

    Marivel speaks of bowing her head; it is not to Althena her head bows. Grief is not gratitude, no matter the script Spira writes. "-I thought I was all alone... you could've helped... but, you just made me more scared of them!-" The Ancient words may be unfamiliar, but there is a girlish twang to them entirely unlike the low alto of her voice. She has not spoken this way since she was a youth, barely a hundred years young.

    It is vulnerable.

    SHE is vulnerable.

    And there the light finds her and she airs no protest but for the air which escapes her, a short pained sound. Her arms come up to encircle herself, and light is the truth-which-burns. Boudicca is a star, burning bright, collapsing in on herself.

    Boudicca is...

    ... Boudicca is...

    ... burning bright.

    It is Ida who sparks their sacred vow, calls Moor Gault, and she the pyre; the orange flecks on her cape burn like embers, bright against the green. Her hands shift from her arms, to her heart; the fires stoked, she grasps them.

    Has to grasp them.

    There is Yuna, dancing, and if Yuna can dance... Boudicca must rise. Hand to ground, greave to floor, standing again.

    "No," Boudicca says, and she speaks the words of Man once more. "A mother need not be truly a mother to offer guidance; nor to leave a sundered legacy. Whether we like it or not - Althena has affected us. And there are things I will leave aside... and there are things worth preserving."

    She fills her lungs; the world sighs with her. "This is the way, with mothers."

    Boudicca draws on that flame, too - surely Ida can feel it, as the corners of her silk trim smoke. "No truth is absolute. It is not so simple. Do not pity me while you chase the impossible."

    She reaches out, with empty palm; the hearthfire heat curls around Marivel, around Lan, around Elhaym. "You told me they were cruel... but you are the one who is harsh, Harmaus. Do you not see?"

    And yet there is still a waver to her words, even as Moor Gault's strength sustains her.

    Old wounds run deep.

GS: Seraph Boudicca has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Gon Guado has posed.

    There are words Gon would like to say were he not turning up the 'Berserk' all the way to eleven. (Four, actually - 'ga' is the fourth stage, but figure of speech.) 'You see what's happening, right?' There is a loss of clarity and a loss of communication with raised ire and a reason for him to have gone out-and-out flying off the handle where he can normally go between the extremes of fury and tranquility when things are going his way.
     Nothing has gone his way since the Otherworlders showed up en masse. As Jay excuses herself, two spells - some of the Ten Thousand Steps are dislodged as gravity sees him struggle to hang on for dear life.
     Lunata interrupts this mid-combo with the emphasis that she'll show him what she found ever since Macalania as she bursts into the air and sends him spiraling off the uprooted footing, slamming the blade down to the majesty of the Maple Leaf Rag as she owns herself - and maybe just owns her next step of passage through life. (It's life if she's still here, one would argue, even if she doesn't have a pulse.)
     This is followed by Jay's strike of the heavens roaring down through the heavens, working right in tandem with being run through.
     Shalune's complaints are valid - they should have out-reasoned every last one of the man's awful, terrible goals and desires... but whatever desperation drives him for that last burst of fury and strength to try and cut through all three of them, all three remain standing, remaining capable of bearing witness to what could be yet another difficult truth for those of Spira to grasp.
     ...And those without, as smoke rises from Gon's charred, lacerated body. They don't have time to linger on him or his state - with the forces near him routed by a lot of peripheral cross fire, they can run up to catch up with most of the rest to better see.
     To see what he hasn't... (...?)

GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Lan Lilac with Conflicting Consumption!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Marivel Armitage with Conflicting Consumption!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Elhaym van Houten with Conflicting Consumption!
GS: Seraph Boudicca takes an additional 15 damage from Reaper!
GS: Seraph Boudicca takes 33 damage from Poison!
GS: Hyper, Poison, Quick, Reaper, and Shield expired!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has completed her action.
GS: Elhaym van Houten takes a solid hit from Seraph Boudicca's Conflicting Consumption for 0 hit points!
GS: Amplify and Surge! applied to Elhaym van Houten!
GS: Elhaym van Houten takes an additional 5 damage from Reaper!
GS: Lan Lilac takes a solid hit from Seraph Boudicca's Conflicting Consumption for 0 hit points!
GS: Amplify and Surge! applied to Lan Lilac!
GS: Marivel Armitage takes a solid hit from Seraph Boudicca's Conflicting Consumption for 0 hit points!
GS: Amplify and Surge! applied to Marivel Armitage!
<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

The light hurts so much. It isn't just hurting her eyes, which, at least, Elly can tell during Harmaus's momentary silencing of the intensity of his teralumin brightness, are intact.

It's pressing outwards. Harmaus answers her. "I have as much right as you do," Elly answers Harmaus. "If you don't want to be involved with this thing of humans, then don't stand here - trying to stop us - even if marriage doesn't mean anything to you, death must! Do you understand any of this!?"

Perhaps Harmaus does. A creeping nausea comes up onto Elly; a feeling of fatigue. Despair, anxiety are all sneaking in round the edges. Her head hurts, and it is her entire head, in a way. She has been spared being shot, but in the corner of her eye as vision returns she can see a cloud of gunsmoke and -

mood: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiKiUb5sMK8

- and Yuna is doing - something; pyreflies are flowing out of -

then he's - and the Fahrenheit isn't yet -

Elly hallucinates quietly, or perhaps it's more a memory coming through the voice of someone else. From Elly's interior auditory perspective it is the voice of her old schoolmate. The closest thing to a friend she had. Kelvena, from memory, tells Elly: You have to go through if you want to see them again.

Her breath is coming quickly. She feels cold and has a strange wasting ache in the small of her back. Sweat is soaking into her skin. Her pulse is racing, slightly irregular. And even so, the only path forward is this one.

Elly pushes herself forwards and she adjusts her grip on her staff. Harmaus has defied most of her magics, and she is unsure if she can, ultimately, harm him at all: he is perhaps not too dissimilar to Marivel Armitage in this way. But, Elly thinks (or perhaps it's Kelvena telling her: wouldn't that be nice, Elly thinks, if Kelvena was here? I wonder where Kelvena is) as she closes the distance,

He has to be in a PARTICULAR place...

Elly draws back her grip on her iron staff as what Ether she can scrape together from depleted, shuddering reserves crackles up the metal staff. It forms a knot of ball lightning.

... and that place...

Elly twists her body. Just like a low cast, Elly thinks. We could go fishing if Kelvena was here.

... doesn't have to be...

Elly gets close enough, despite the flaring light, to swing: and the ball lightning swings out, bloating into a flail-like shape accompanying the five-feet-and-change of wrought iron staff. "Get out! -GET LOST!- -GO!- GET OUT OF HERE! SHOO!" Elly half-screams half-coughs, even as she feels that irrational surge coming in.

It doesn't have to be *right here* -- now does it?

GS: Elhaym van Houten has attacked Seraph Harmaus with Anemo Zap!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Elhaym van Houten takes an additional 35 damage from Reaper!
GS: Elhaym van Houten takes 30 damage from Poison!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Harmaus takes a solid hit from Elhaym van Houten's Anemo Zap for 165 hit points!
GS: Jam! applied to Seraph Harmaus!
GS: Charge!! You gain 45 FP!
<Pose Tracker> Lan Lilac has posed.

    She doesn't know much about their goddess. The last time Lan was here, she was... busy. It hadn't been important.

    How terrible it must be, to be abandoned by your gods. She feels sorry for them, in a way that she could never truly articulate. How awful, to be left behind.

    The cat-seraph babbles at her. It's angry. "If you're going to yell at me, you need to speak a language I understand!" Lan retorts, wiping absently at her bleeding side. Drawing on her patron used to fill her with joy, but... it hasn't, not like it used to, for a long time now. It's comforting, Rigdobrite's blessing. But she isn't happy.

    That man... that man is dead. He died smiling. And as bright as starlight shines, the sun is a thousandfold brighter. She dances out of the way of the first flash, barely scorched by the sunlight, and charges headlong through the second - she feels the weight of a half-dozen curses sink into her skin, before they're blasted aside by something bright and hot and home.

    She doesn't say anything - she's out of words, and Elly has said everything that could possibly ever need to be said - just rears back and kicks the tiny Serph with every last ounce of strength she's got.

GS: Lan Lilac has attacked Seraph Harmaus with Paper Moon!
GS: Lan Lilac takes 26 damage from Poison!
GS: Lan Lilac has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Harmaus takes a solid hit from Lan Lilac's Paper Moon for 147 hit points!
GS: Poison! applied to Seraph Harmaus!
GS: Charge!! You gain 55 FP!
GS: Seraph Harmaus enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Are they truly her children?

"You clearly thought so once." Marivel says. "Is that not enough of a truth?"

But then something happens!

Boudicca, for starters, proves that she is stronger than she once was. Her core is challenged and she proves to have moved beyond her surface understanding of motherhood and of family and--perhaps most importantly--of duty.

The Hound of Hell unleashes the power of a star upon them. The Hound of Hell, a mere shadow creature--beceomes a shadow underneath that cold light. Its form splattered against the plaza floor like burnt ash, Marivel in its center, crouching, trying to push herself back up to her feet through her staff.

Bodies have to obey rules, Marivel thinks bitterly, could she only but devastate these bloody-minded people and felines with smoke andd mirrors.

She tands up. She looks to Yuna. Through the crowd, she sees the agitation of the pyreflies. Yuna is up to something, Marivel realizes. Once again, Yuna has put herself up on the cross and aimed the world's lances at her breast.

She scowls as she pushes herself in to a straightened form as she glances to Elly. It's a little funny, she thinks, that Elly is telling a seraph to SHOO.

She rolls her shooulders back and adds, "I'm going to eat a little bit of you," to Harmaus. "So that I can fuel this. Okay?"

She darts forward, fangs open w ide--but it's a faint. Harmaus is ultimately a spirit.

And Marivel's free hand unleashes a blue pulse out from its hand, aiming to draw a little bit of Harmaus essence into her. For consumption. For dinner.

And then, letting guillotine vanish into nothing, Marivel reaches up her hand and says, "Yuna!!"

"Sorry! But I'm getting us out NOW! MASS APORT!"

She snaps her fingers.

"..."

Marivel pauses a moment, clears her throat, and tries again.

"MASS APORT!"

Another silent pause.

"......Well, drat." Marivel says. "That wasn't what was supposed to happen." She snaps her fingers a few more times to no effect.

"Fudge." Marivel curses.

GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Seraph Harmaus with Life Drain!
GS: Marivel Armitage has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Marivel Armitage takes 18 damage from Poison!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Seraph Harmaus takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Life Drain for 255 hit points!
GS: Charge!! You gain 45 FP!
GS: Marivel Armitage drains Seraph Harmaus! Marivel Armitage gains 50 temporary hit points!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

"Zanarkand?" Seymour asks, as he stares down at Tidus. His eyes widen -- and narrow -- and he thinks about this for a moment. The metaphorical gears begin to turn in his mind.

But the battle distracts him. Biggs grunts in sharp shock, as Tidus runs past and under him. He turns, in time to see the way that Auron parries Wedge -- knocks him backward, and then he glances at his friend, then turns back at Tidus, as he bolts away. He seems to consider for a moment.

But Seymour sees Tidus coming, and he steps backward--

--in time for a Yevonite attendant, a clerk with no combat training, to hurl himself between Seymour and Tidus. "N-Not... Maester... S-Seym..." His eyes are wide; his breath shakes, racked, as Brotherhood pushes through his chest and out the back. He crumples forward against Tidus, then falls off the sword. Seymour stares down at the body. "Such a waste."

And then Biggs, with a bellowing snarl, tackles Tidus. The two go rolling along the altar.


Grand Maester Yo Mika is an ancient, wizened figure. Some think him meek or even a little foolish, at times; he lacks the warrior's confidence of Wen Kinoc or the easy charisma of Seymour Guado. But he is, above all things, observant. He sees how Yuna reaches for her staff, and places it between Seymour and herself. There is a moment, for Mika, when all freezes. When the battle is not happening; when the pyreflies do not dance.

He watches, his mouth open, as the summoning rod moves.

Specks of light appear on Seymour Guado's body. Little flecks of prismatic glow, which seem to lift. Pyreflies swirl atop Yuna's head, and Seymour looks down at her. His breatch catches -- and the confidence slips, for just a moment, into fear. "You..."

He sounds breathless. "...you would play at marriage? Just to Send me?" And then he remembers himself; he remembers who he is, what he has done, and what he will still do. He does not give himself the luxury of fear. He smiles, in spite of that. "Truly, you are worthy to be my wife."%rBelow, chaos continues to erupt. Devil's Due fires, a massive blast slamming into the Hyadean-machina hybrid. It is holed through; it explodes apart into scrap, Dragon Fossils and shattered metal raining down in flaming heap after Ida's firebird bullet holes it through.

Mariel's purifying salt shoots out -- and then washes through a trio of Bombs that Guado Guardians had summoned. They stutter -- trembling -- and crash down into the ground. Each bounces, and comes to a stop, before bursting apart into pyreflies.

Kinoc looks up -- and he opens his mouth in surprise. He turns, running, as RIkku's grenade slams down behind him. It explodes, and the fiery blast pitches him forward. He rolls, a few times, and smashes into a wall. "Nrgh... too old for this," he manages, a little weakly.

The fiery wind of Lemina's spell blows his robes back. It also burns through the machina standing over her. Its metal hull shatters, metal collapsing down into burning heaps. Soldiers are sent flying backward, and a few are crawling away, as the fire blast shoots up into the heavens.

Azoth's blade slashes through the Hyadean-machina hybrid. It splits in two -- and there is the eerie sensation of cleaving through two kinds of metal. The living metal of the Hyadeans parts more like some reinforced, metallic flesh around his blade. It falls in two halves...

...and he walks on, up the stairs, as he looks up at Yuna.

Behind Azoth, fire explodes, washing out in a ring. Guado Guardians that had been walking towards Mariel are driven back by Ivan. For a moment, it seems as if he has brought her a precious moment; he has kept her safe, in all of this.

"STOP!"

Mika's voice carries. It carries louder than any man of his small stature seems possible. He steps forward, and his eyes catch Yuna's. Then, they catch Seymour's. Something passes between the two Maesters in that moment. "Lady Yuna..."

Mika lifts one hand up. His eyes meet hers, wide and yet not grandfatherly. He may be the father to all Yevon, but there is smething familiar in those eyes. She knows it, then: the same emptiness in Seymour's.

The sky is filled with whirring. More of those Hyadean-machina hybrids drop down. The drones float all around Bevelle temple, sharp claws and cannons glinting with a dangerous light. Then, mystical beams of light rain down -- smashing down about the Drifters, but they seem without discretion. Drifters and Yevonites alike are forced backward.

Wen Kinoc steps forward, with another rifle -- and puts the barrel of it into Auron's neck. It presses in, as he nudges it up. Kinoc looks at his friend, a smile cracking.

Biggs pushes the back of his armored arm into Tidus's back -- smashing him down against the ground -- and holds him there, as his hand fumbles at his side for his knife.

Three of the Hyadean-machina hybrids descend -- each flying down, and rotating in a steady pattern -- about Ida. They block her off, even as the beam cannons in them begin to glow brightly.

Wakka slams into the ground first. He smashes down, as two Warrior Monks tackle him. Kimahri fairs better -- he bats one aside, but then stops, as he spots something. Wedge grabs Lulu by her hair, lifting her up, and raises his claws -- sticking them perilously close to her neck.

Gon is a champion among the Guado Guardians. As the old one falls, a group of Guado Guardians rush -- and Lunata, Jay, and Shalune only have to look to see the ring of them surrounding them. Each holds hands out -- and pyreflies swirl, the outlines of Bombs, Couerls, and other fiends just beginning to take form.

Rikku feels, a moment later, a gun barrel poke into her back. One glance over her shoulder, and she sees the Warrior Monk, blood running down her face, there. She keeps the rifle pressed into her back.

A Guado Guardian, streaked with their blue blood, strides towards Mariel. A few of them walk slowly after the one in the lead. Flame has left burns and charred clothing, from Ivan's earlier attacks. The one in the lead raises his fist, bloodied claws glinting as he readies. But Ivan, her protector is there -- and flame is at his command. He could--

--but, a silver blade is at his throat, from behind.

As Harmaus -- a cat -- deals with the Drifters, a group of Yevonites approach. Warrior Monks, bloodied and bedraggled, aim their rifles at Marivel, at Lan, at Boudicca, at Elly. The rifles glint in the sunlight as they surround them.

More rifles appear, before Azoth. Four Warrior Monks step between him and Yuna. They lower their rifles at him; the sun glints off the barrels. Two more rush up, behind Lemina, and shove rifles into her back. "Cast a spell," one of them shouts at her, voice breaking with fear. "Just try it!"

He sounds angry. And desperate.

One of the Warrior Monks meets Azoth's eyes, and waits: a silent offer, to trade lives here for further steps. He has seen, now, who is more likely to be filled by bullets.

Cecilia, crumpled and unconscious, has a boot pressed against her. A Warrior Monk aims a rifle down at her head, but doesn't look at her. He looks up at Yo Mika, who does not look back.

No, the Grand Maester looks at Yuna. His words are so kindly in tone, yet anything but. "Do you not value your friends' lives? Your actions determine their fate. Protect them... or throw them away. The choice is yours."

<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.
<SoundTracker> Tragedy (continued) - Final Fantasy X - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7P_muBRgNA

Yuna has Seymour dead to rights.

Don't pardon the pun. It isn't a pun. He is dead, and she is making things right, making HIM right. And the idiom applies directly also: she senses that she's one sweep of her summoner's rod, two at most, from his full discorporation -- his final end. She can do it faster than anyone can stop her, of that she is certain. As it is, she's almost bewildered by the rate at which pyreflies are filling the air of the dais, their sheer density. She has NEVER Sent a single fiend so quickly, shattered one into so much.

(She ISN'T Sending a SINGLE fiend. But that's getting ahead of the story.)

(And as for Lunata -- she isn't up at the top, isn't contributing to this pyrefly discrepancy, but Yuna can both feel her reaction trembling agonizingly between their spirits, and trusts her, deeply, implicitly, to survive. And so she does, and prospers too.)

Even so, Seymour still has the power to hurt her. And hurt her he does. His mockery, his calm. She does not need the satisfaction of his misery or disappointment, but still -- the totality of his unconcern sends a chill blowing across the back of her neck. Hers is a strong, trained intuition, and every instinct screams that something isn't adding up.

Never in a million years would she have dreamed what happens next.

Grand Maester Mika intercedes -- FOR the Unsent.

Their eyes meet. Yuna's rod wavers; then she looks past him. Looks down, at the execution ground he's engineered.

The emptiness in Mika's eyes will haunt her later, but right now they are not the eyes she cares about. She looks down, at everyone's faces. SEES them. And they can see her; see the misery re-enter her, engulf her, infuse her. It was never a lie, her guilt, her terror, her despair at each of their, all of their, suffering. It was just one part of her larger truth.

But now it's everything. Because they are everything to her. And Yuna has only ever been willing to accept one person's sacrifice for the greater good.

The Grand Maester's action makes no sense. It does not compute. Two plus two is suddenly a thousand, a thousand guns and machina and fiends leveled at the heads of her friends and family, directed by the will of Yevon -- as directLY as anything can be, short of something cast down from on high from the shade of Yevon Himself.

Two plus two is suddenly zero. Yuna does not choose, because she has no choice at all. Yuna cannot think, so she can have no second thoughts.

Yuna is devastated; and Yuna drops the rod. Of course she is. Of course she does. They are who they are. She is who she is.

It bounces down the last ten steps to peace before clattering to a stop near Rikku's feet.

And then, once more and for the first time both, Yuna stands before Seymour and Mika--

--no deceptions separate them now--

--next to them, she is very small, and very pale, and very beautiful, and very sad--

--she is alone, unarmed, and helpless.

<Pose Tracker> K.K. has posed.

A silvery-white blade, edged in gold, accented in blue, taps its cold edge to the side of Ivan's neck.

Fingers, clawed and wrapped in white armor, spasm once along the hilt of their weapon.

"You are yet a long way out from where you ought be, boy."

The figure behind the young man speaks, but their voice is indistinct, warped behind the tinny din of cold metal. They are not a Drifter. They are not a Yevonite. They belong to no creed or belief nor stand for any motivation that draws any of these disparate souls here today. They stand out so starkly that one must wonder how they could have ever gone unnoticed until this moment.

But all the same, no matter how out of place they may seem within the endlessly spiraling lands of Spira...

... K.K. stands, unyielding and implacable, amidst those fraying, crackling pillars of mystical light as they dissipate into so much hazy brightness around them, armored hand clenched around their sword and faceless helm reflecting little but the chaos around them as they hold Ivan at the point of their shortsword. They are silent, save for those first, warped words, but their presence is a very real, very palpable thing. After all. They said as much at the Baskar Village, didn't they?

They would come for Spira.

And they are, if nothing else, ever dedicated to their word... even across the whole gulf between stars.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Gon falls. Jacqueline sighs.

"...We can talk again later, after we've saved Yuna." She says, shaking her head. "As many times as it takes."

She starts moving forward... but then, at the grand maester's signal, the battle turns against them. Drones send beams of light crashing into the battlefield, and Jacqueline watches as Guado Guardians surge forward. And, suddenly, she, Lunata, and Shalune find themselves encircled.

Jacqueline puts her back to theirs, still readying herself in a spell-casting stance.

...Can they really take on so many fiends? And if they can, can they handle the Guado Guardians beyond them? Jacqueline's brow furrows. She goes over the battle plan several times in her head, through several variations, but...

None of the outlooks look good.

The clattering of Yuna's staff, then, shatters the silence. Jacqueline looks up. She knows what that means. Jacqueline shuts her eyes and she draws a deep breath... and then, she straightens up, out of her combat stance.

"...It'll be alright. I won't let anything happen to you two. Whatever happens... we'll be okay. I promise we'll get out of this alright." Jacqueline says quietly, to Lunata and Shalune. One gets the feeling she's trying to reassure herself as much as she is them. "...We'll get through this."

...She couldn't see a way out yet. But she'd find it, if she had to. But now isn't the time.

<Pose Tracker> Lulu has posed.

Mariel's quick care sees Lulu off the precipice of danger, will ensure her wounds are not fatal, and for a moment that is good, though Lulu cannot thank her small savior. She looks set to stay unconscious, quiet and still, but no longer as dire.

This changes as Wedge picks her up. The black mage's eyes flutter open, and she feels the claws at her neck, the tug of her braids holding her up. "..." She does not make a sound, recognizing her position for the moment.

She watches as Yuna drops her rod. There is no time to try to convince her with a look, or anything of the kind, even if Lulu wished. ...And she is not certain, in the moment, what she wishes beyond Yuna's safety. But she would never expect Yuna to do anything different from what she does right now.

...In the same way that she would never have expected Mika to do as he has done, is doing. It shocks her mind into stunned stammering. She cannot form cohesive thoughts, between pain and heartache. Sure, she does not feel fear for herself, but she does not know what will happen.

She is conscious that she can do the opposite of helping, but does not stop to indulge in guilt at this. Dimly, Marivel's words not long ago flutter through hr mind. But she can find no purchase on them. She simply watches Yuna. All else in the world, for now, goes away, even the new appearance of that strange Knight. She cannot act; she can barely think. She can only watch. ...And she knows, at least, who she would watch.

<Pose Tracker> Lan Lilac has posed.

    Somehow the sun and moon and stars can all still pale. Even the dim reflection of light off of the barrel of a gun is somehow stark, when the gun is leveled at your head. Lan huffs tiredly, steadying herself and getting ready to find a new opponent...

    ...Only for the glint of an unusual weapon to catch her eye. For the thunder of dozens more machina to descend on her ears. She looks up, and around. "..."

    The black ink inside of her rouses, demands to be used. Lan shakes her head minutely, eyes widening at something nobody else could see. No. No. No!

    In the end, she goes quietly.

<Pose Tracker> Rikku has posed.


Rikku has no time to take satisfaction in Kinoc being bowled over. Instead she is horrified as Tidus' blade pushes through the chest of someone with no weapons.

Someone who threw themselves in front of Seymour just because they believed he was was a good man, an important man. One worth giving their life for.

As Biggs tackles Tidus, Rikku keeps running forward as if she were going to assist him. "Tidus hold on!" Seymour's words reaching her ears, and indignation spouts out of her throat, "She's too good for you!"

She's still rushing forward, even as the Grand Maester calls out a word authoritatively.

And that is when she sees everything descend.

Auron has a rifle at his neck. Rikku's sprint becomes an uncertain run.

Biggs has fulled pinned Tidus to the ground. Her run becomes a halting jog.

Wakka hits the ground as he's tackledby two. Her jog becomes a hesitant walk.

Kimahri stopping his assault as he sees it... Rikku sees it too. Lulu with Wedge's blade to her throat.

And suddenly she's standing still. One wouldn't know it maybe, unless they've known Rikku for a long time, but situations like this when she's under such pressure... she becomes paralyzed by indecision.

Then the press of the barrel of a gun at her back takes away the need for decision from her...

... and Rikku just slow blinks by her eyes. Then looks over her shoulder... into that bloodied face of she who would be her killer, with those green Al Bhed eyes.

With all options gone, she looks instead to hope. Despite the fact that she never wanted Yuna to finish her pilgrimage... she still always recognized Summoners as Spira's Hope. And despite her best efforts... Yuna had become her Hope.

And so in this moment, she looks to Yuna, her breath caught in her throat.

As the rod leaves Yuna's hands, and falls down the steps. "Nuh-" Even as it bounces, that strangled whimper leaves her throat. That monosyllabolic representation of her despair.

It is only when the rod comes to a rest at her feet... that Rikku starts to slowly raise her hands...

In such a short time, the Al Bhed girl has gone from paralysis, to despair...

... to surrender.

<Pose Tracker> Tidus has posed.

    Tidus rushes in to assault Seymour, knowing he's already dead and that nothing he can do will hurt him more, not *really*--but he forgets that most people present *don't* know the truth about Seymour, particularly not the faithful. When a clerk--not a guardian or a soldier, but an ordinary wedding clerk--hurls himself in between Tidus and Seymour, Tidus instantly registers shock and horror.
    
    But he's too late to stop his momentum.
    
    He might, barely, be in time to turn aside his blade, to change a fatal wound to a merely grievous one, but whether the poor clerk lives this day or not, Tidus's focus is instantly shattered. "N-no!" he utters, staring down at him as he falls off his sword. "H-hang on, I've got a potion! You can't--"
    
    But halfway through grabbing a flask from one of his pockets, Biggs RAMS into Tidus, sending both of them tumbling down, potion and blade aside clattering aside. Tidus struggles against his assailant, but he's still rattled, and he's just been disarmed, too. It's the work of a moment for Biggs to pin him on the stairs. Tidus in turn can only stare helplessly up at Yuna--at Seymour and Mika--as the so-called Grand Maester intercedes only to *stop* the Unsent from being Sent. To ensure that Yuna--beautiful, wonderful, kind Yuna--drops her rod before she even truly had a chance to do her duty. The duty that someone like Mika is supposed to uphold, too.
    
    Tidus doesn't have the same context of native Spirans. But even so, he has to croak: "Why...?"

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    Lunata's known one truth about the world.

    It's that in the blink of an eye, at the drop of a dime, things can change drastically -- oftentimes, for the worse. They're surrounded, and multiple people have guns and blades at their backs and necks; she even sees K.K., feelings stirring in her as she remembers the Baskar village.

    Yuna drops her rod, and she grimaces. "Yuna, no--"

    It's not like she can blame her. She would've done the same thing immediately for Jacqueline, but as they're pressed back to back, the ex-waitress looks around and...

    And says the most darndestly Lunata thing ever:

    "I could self-detonate again and give you an out, Jay, Shalune??"

    A pause, as she looks towards Jacqueline. Somehow, she knows that she's shut down that plan without having to even hear it.

    Darn.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    And perhaps they could have prevailed against Harmaus. Boudicca can tell - they're giving it their all. She didn't even realise Lan was such a fierce fighter, though she knew of Elhaym's feats, and she trusts Marivel to fight beside her almost too much for someone so much more brutal than Boudicca herself.

    But Harmaus was only ever one part of this whole.

    ... the Warrior Monks close in.

    Boudicca does not fear bullets. She can become a speck of light and vanish; it isn't even a death sentence. Marivel, too, can become a flock of bats, and flutter away.

    But Lan - Lan is mortal. (And enjoys custard, in waffle cones. Boudicca has not forgotten.) Elhaym bleeds.

    No more, Boudicca thinks. No more death, no more corpses. No more lives cut short. Mortality is a thing to be celebrated; but it is a thing which such cruelties can be enacted upon. She will not bring Lan and Elhaym to death.

    Her hands fall to her side. Her shoulders slacken; the embers at her cloak fade to dull orange once more.

    The voice of the Trial Knight catches her ears - she looks to them, and, deliberately, she looks away. It is a silent acknowledgement; she will not spring to assault the enemy of all Filgaia today.

    She looks to Yuna, instead, and thinks to herself how similar they are, in this moment. The both of them may be fettered... by the threat of those around them.

    She could turn into a speck of light, and vanish.

    And what would happen to her friends? To Elhaym and Lan? To Jacqueline? To Ida?

    "I understand," is what she says, and the words are bird-boned and quiet in their sorrow. Perhaps they carries on the air, even so.

    There is cruelty in this world, Harmaus, Boudicca thinks. This much is true.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel does not have enough time to treat Lulu as well as she would like. About all she can do is retrieve what she can - a berry as it turns out - and use it as well she can. She does - something with the berry, drawing the energy out of it, sending it in a cascade of violet and pink to flow to Lulu.

As Mariel draws in power, the flow of the Ley around her shifts just slightly, a gentle guidance compared to a spellcaster's sharp push as, for an instant, Lunar fits into a Filgaia-shaped hole in her soul. The pyreflies flow around her, responding to the currents of energy.

It takes a lot out of Mariel, who was already not at her best. Not that it's about to drop her, but she finds herself needing to take a moment to steady herself - and that is a perfect time for the Guado Guardian.

Mariel is a lot of things, but she is not a skilled fighter, and - as mentioned before - she's smaller than any of the Guado. As soon as she realizes she's being grabbed - lifted up - there's not a lot she can do; she swings her body, but she can't get the momentum, battered as she is, to even rock the Guado. She goes limp instead, looking up toward the pinnacle of the Temple steps.

"Please put me down," she says to the Guado, because being picked up is very awkward. She sounds... tired. "I am a doctor. Let me treat the wounded. ...I won't run." She can't - not alone, certainly, but probably not at all. She didn't run when the Guard took her, either.

And she's certainly not going to leave them all here, even if she could.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline glances toward Lunata immediately with a Look. Indeed, she doesn't even have to say a word. Her reaction is clear just by looking at her.

"Please no more self-destructions. The only talented necromancers around here are the ones we've just made enemies of." Jacqueline requests.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    "Jay, you make amazing necromantic potions, don't sell yourself short-- shutting up now," Lunata sags.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Only once the drone is dealt with does Ida dare turn to face the altar. What she sees awakens a spark of hope in her heart; she was so scared seeing Yuna completely bereft of will that she hadn't considered she still had fight in her. Do it, she pleads, silently. Send him. End this.

Hersnd then Mika speaks. For a moment, Ida dares hope that he's ordering the Guards to stop, but that hope is dashed the moment she hears that whirring in the air. Ida looks up, her eyes widening in horror. "How...?" she whispers. Beams rain from the heavens. Ida raises her arms to shield herself, and holds perfectly still, save for trembling. When she looks up again, three of those drones are encircling her. She glances to either side, and sees Yevon's forces taking full advantage of the distraction--aiming guns at her friends, threatening others with blades or sorcery.

    Ida's heart leaps against her aching ribs. Sudden, helpless rage boils up within her, threatening to overwhelm her; it's so familiar by now that it's almost background noise. She looks up at Yuna, and it's like looking into a mirror. Tears of helplessness boil up in Ida's eyes; her hands clench into fists. She looks out at Rikku, at Azoth, at Tidus and Marivel and Ivan--

    Ida sees the figure holding Ivan at blade-point. It's like the candied flower petals atop the trifle of rage and despair.

    Ida does not give the Yevonites the satisfaction of watching her drop her ARM. Instead, she calmly holsters it, and raises both hands, still clenched in trembling fists.

    "Hello again," Ida says, to the Trial Knight. Her voice is soft and laced with despair. The steel in it is bending, and it has yet to be seen if it will break.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Only once the drone is dealt with does Ida dare turn to face the altar. What she sees awakens a spark of hope in her heart; she was so scared seeing Yuna completely bereft of will that she hadn't considered she still had fight in her. Do it, she pleads, silently. Send him. End this.

    And then Mika speaks. For a moment, Ida dares hope that he's ordering the Guards to stop, but that hope is dashed the moment she hears that whirring in the air. Ida looks up, her eyes widening in horror. "How...?" she whispers. Beams rain from the heavens. Ida raises her arms to shield herself, and holds perfectly still, save for trembling. When she looks up again, three of those drones are encircling her. She glances to either side, and sees Yevon's forces taking full advantage of the distraction--aiming guns at her friends, threatening others with blades or sorcery.

    Ida's heart leaps against her aching ribs. Sudden, helpless rage boils up within her, threatening to overwhelm her; it's so familiar by now that it's almost background noise. She looks up at Yuna, and it's like looking into a mirror. Tears of helplessness boil up in Ida's eyes; her hands clench into fists. She looks out at Rikku, at Azoth, at Tidus and Marivel and Ivan--

    Ida sees the figure holding Ivan at blade-point. It's like the candied flower petals atop the trifle of rage and despair.

    Ida does not give the Yevonites the satisfaction of watching her drop her ARM. Instead, she calmly holsters it, and raises both hands, still clenched in trembling fists.

    "Hello again," Ida says, to the Trial Knight. Her voice is soft and laced with despair. The steel in it is bending, and it has yet to be seen if it will break.

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

When Marivel says 'Mass' hope surges in Elly's heart.

It immediately gets thrown off the side of the temple steps. She sags, propping herself against her big piece of metal.

And then light glints off of firearms.

Elly turns her head to look towards the weapons and towards the Warrior-monks.

Her body is tired. Her weight is on that piece of metal.

There is a fleeting sense somewhere in the deep hallways in the back of her mind that Elly sometimes hears winds roll through that: Her *body* is tired... ... and perhaps...

... but...

(She imagines Kelvena's voice again. Don't you want to see them again?)

Elly says, "I'm going to put the staff down," and then she crouches a little, to do just that - it rolls a little, but it stays on that same step. Then she rises, her hands spread outwards a little and held before her as she gazes at the warrior monks.

If they start to shoot, Elly thinks. If they fire their guns -- why do they have guns now? never mind -- I can probably do something. Every moment makes it better.

Why aren't they shooting us? Elly thinks; and in this glittering tension, it seems like the most natural thought in the world. (Her eyes flick towards the horizon, for hope.)

<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

While Lemina is very satisfied with the results of her magic, she is somewhat less satisfied -- to say the least -- with having guns pointed at her. On the one hand, it'd be wrong to say she doesn't take a little pride in hearing someone's voice break at the mere idea of her casting a spell, because, frankly, Lemina's kind of a bad person and enjoys validation of how good she is at activities.

On the other hand, she very much does not like the idea of getting shot. "... Okay," she says, calmly. "No spells. You got me." She drops her staff; for good measure, she adds, "There's a smaller green one hidden in my sash. You can take it if you're scared I'll do something big. It's not holding anything up or anything." She can tell when causing a problem would have further-reaching effects than just herself.

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"Mariel!"

Ivan is already reaching toward her -- both with his hand and with the spell -- but he freezes as he feels cold metal against his throat. The flames don't dissipate at the implicit threat, whether or not he might seek for them to; they're tied more to his heart than his will, but they lose their direction and purpose as his emotions waver, scattering into turbulent flares that can do little toward aiding Mariel.

Then he hears the distorted voice. He can't turn, but he knows who it is. He remembers the words about Spira, but from what little he understands of K.K.'s motivations, he doesn't understand why they would throw in with the ones already in power here.

"...You?! What do you get any of this?! I thought you wanted to change something!"

<Pose Tracker> Azoth has posed.

It's true that ordinary rifles mean less to Azoth than they may to most people. If it were only his harm he had to calculate for, he might be able to keep pushing.

But it isn't. There is always a higher objective: protect them, because if they fight together, his code categorizes them to be projected. Azoth remains in place, eyes quiet and dim. Parts of him are still sparking, and he rests a gloved hand over his shoulder to cover it. His silence at first serves his only answer to the warrior monks: an understanding of their terms, and his resignation (there's that word again) to them.

Azoth doesn't have to take his eyes from the warrior monks to know the sound from above is a rod clattering and falling out of place. Whether it's a necessary tool or a symbol, the communication's the same, and that foreign energy has quieted on his sensors. Defiance has burned out. So even free will isn't an escape from hopelessness.

He glances quickly to survey the damages done to both sides, and who all has them at gun -- and sword -- point. He catches sight of Cecilia fallen and memorizes the position relative to himself. "...At least let me carry her," he says. "That will let you keep your guns pointed at us." He's betting he'd be gentler than them.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Harmaus has posed.

    "Needs must," the Seraph responds to Elly evenly. "My word, my bond. An agreement with the Maester. It understands, yes? Or is humans beyond such understanding, yet?" It's almost a taunt. Or maybe it is one -- it is hard to tell when Harmaus sits there, regarding her unblinking.

    But such calm falls by the wayside with Marivel's single remark.

    It was a truth once, Marivel says. "It quiets now!" roars the Seraph, fury embodied.

    Behind him, beyond him, the Pyreflies are gathering. He pays them no need, standing amidst the wreckage upon the stairs. Here, as the light still burns--

    ...within it is a flame, burning brilliantly.

    "It is a child yet! It knows humans hearts not!" the Seraph rages, in the face of the resolve that Boudicca now boldly bears. "It will learn! It will see!"

    But there is something else within the array of prismatic light that the Seraph does not see. There is something within it, a twin to the plasmic pulses of the progenitors of starlight. It--

    slams into him, pulsing, shuddering, flaring

    --as Elly screams.

    Into this, into its aftermath, Lan intrudes.

    Lan's kick is a mighty one, even if it doesn't quite propel the greatly-wounded Seraph to the Blue Star and beyond. Instead, her kick sends him flying nearly a quarter-way up the stairs, an impact that forces even the spirit to lie there a moment as if stunned.

    It's there that Marivel catches up to him. He never has the chance to deny her that piece of his self. It's simply rent away as she passes him.

    In the chaos that follows, is it a surprise that such a small thing as Harmaus goes overlooked? He was there, and now he is gone--

    --Until he isn't.

    He sits by the boot of the Trial Knight now, washing his face with a paw, as if he could thereby wipe away his defeat. But then, is it a defeat if after that battle, the war is still won...? Perhaps some shames and losses are not so easily forgotten, though.

    "The Trial Knight, yes?" says the Seraph, finally finishing with his all-important washing. "I needs speak with it. A matter of urgency. Ah, but there is time, yet."

    He returns to licking his wounds.

<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Marivel finds a gun pointed into her face. She gives it a look of 'really?'--but it's enough to give her enough pause to take stock of the rest of the battlefield. She doesn't blink twice at the revelation of Mika being an Unsent, of him ruling on behalf of Seymour. If she had thought that a nice chat with the guy where all misconceptions were cleared would be enough to save the day, he would have done so instead of going on a rampage. And she could smell the death.

In that moment of distraction, Harmaus is gone. Now with the Trial Knight.

Now K.K's appearance? That DOES shock Marivel.

"K.K." She says. "For one determined to prove the world is worth saving."

She stares at the helmeted Knight.

"You sure have a habit of making it ever more difficult to save our dear sacrifices and making your own."

She raises her hands into the air in an 'I Surrender' pose.

"Well, I suppose once again you can use Yuna's empathy and love for others as a chain 'round her neck."

Her eyes flash red as she speaks to Mika. He might not care what she has to say, but she says it anyway.

"Please, keep doing it. One day that chain will wrap 'round your necks."

She licks her lips, like a predator that has simply been placed behind a wooden fence, one ready to leap 'cross it at any moment.

<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

The rod drops. It falls with a weak clatter, and there is a look of relief on Yo Mika's face. A few pyreflies waft by. The Grand Maester takes a step backward, looking most relieved. He glances, once, at Marivel. "How little you know of Yevon. We welcome these chains."

And Seymour glances at Yuna, then. His body no longer shimmers; no pyreflies threaten to detach from him. His eyes turn from Yuna, out towards the field. At where Gon fell; at where Harmaus fought; at where K.K. stands, their blade at Ivan's throat.

Seymour nods once at them, in gratitude.

The clerk that threw himself on Tidus's blade lies bleeding. The soldiers ignore that -- instead their weapons remain tracked, in their various forms, on opponents who have become hostages. They tense at Lunata's suggestion.

The Guado holding Mariel looks down at her, and he seems to hesitate. "A kid your age?" he asks, sounding disbelieving.

One of the Warrior Monks look at Cecilia, then at Azoth. He considers for a second -- wonders why his eyes dimmed and why he is, er, sparking -- and then nods. "One wrong move," he says, "and it's over. For you both."

"And her," the one behind Lemina answers. He doesn't talk to her directly; Lemina can sense the nerves, in how he moves, and then grabs the green staff hidden in her sash. He pulls it, then drops it to the floor with a clatter.

Elly looks to the horizon. The hope she wants does not come. Through the white clouds, she can make out some lines of smoke -- but neither the Fahrenheit or Fereshte break through the clouds. No help can be seen.

Seymour looks, to be sure.

But, in the end, Seymour looks back at Yuna. There is a renewed confidence in his step. A feeling of success, of a ploy seen to fruition, and one that he cannot ignore. He walks closer to Yuna, as she looks helpless before him. Which is why he leans down, a cruel smile crossing his lips. He finds victory in this, but pleasure escapes him.

But life has never been about being pleased, to Seymour Guado.

He presses his lips to hers. The bells of Bevelle ring, a loud and mournful chiming. The banners sway in the wind, and the pyreflies dance in the air. Seymour pulls back -- a soft sigh escapes his lips -- and he turns back to everyone below. His pale eyes consider them all, for a moment.

"Kill them," he commands, utterly dismissive.

<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.
<SoundTracker> Tragedy (yeah, still) - Final Fantasy X - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7P_muBRgNA

It's just a kiss.

Yuna has fought Sin. Repeatedly.

She's traveled to other worlds.

She's healed armies of the living, and failed to save whole armies too.

She's Sent men and women and innocent children, the victims of carnage wrought by space whale and by war.

She has endured the attention of a dark god, though she comprehended it not.

It's just a kiss.

Maybe it's that everyone's watching. She had only a moment to take in their collective despair. Some of them were disappointed in her, and that hurts most of all. But all of them suffer. Because of her. Because she failed them.

Because she failed everyone. Again.

The wedding bells chime. It's just a kiss, she repeats to herself desperately. This union is not a true one, on legal or religious grounds. The Grand Maester may sanctify it but that does not make it sacred. Not anymore. Not to her.

It's just a kiss.

It's just her first kiss.

It is only since she met Tidus that she's even bothered to imagine what a first kiss would be like. She just never took much interest in the trappings of romance until then, and even now, it's been a guilty pleasure, a flirtation only, with impossibility instead of destiny. But she thought-- she hoped-- that it might be with him. Before the end.

Her first kiss is cold.

Her first kiss is horrible.

It's partially because Seymour is dead, very, very, dead, and she uniquely capable of EXPERIENCING that through her summoner's senses, but honestly? That's really only the beginning of her revulsion. The most superficial part. He could be alive, and the best kisser in the world, a gentle, tender lover, and she would be no less repulsed by being in his arms this way. Her lips are writhing, wretched wormflesh, polluted; she is polluted by him. She wants her lips to burn away so that they're no longer attached to her; nothing less than fire could purify them now.

Her disgust is total.

Unseen by him, but witnessed by all those on the stairs, her right hand clenches into a fist so tight that her fingernails shear through the flimsy fabric of her glove.

After it's over, she can do nothing but stand at his side, stunned, shocked. She needs a few seconds for her soul to return to her body.

In that scant time, he condemns everyone to death.

She shouldn't be surprised, but his cruelty, his brutality, startles a gasp out of her anyway. He did the same thing to the Al Bhed in the Summoner's Sanctum. He will always betray her surrender. He is who he is.

And she finds that she is... angry. She is angry, and she is not within his grasp.

She has no weapon, now. She has no power.

She has only herself.

Step by step, she backs away from the altar -- mindful not to trip on the train, she kind of wades in it until it's more in front of her than behind. Pace by pace, while Mika and Seymour are transfixed, hypnotized, by the power to extinguish life at their command, she seizes HER power. Her greatest power.

It always has been...

The power to extinguish HER life. At HER command. For others.

Some might say that dying for her friends is selfish; a summoner's duty is to die for Spira. What is one life, or a dozen, when set against the many thousands of citizens threatened by Sin? Is that not the very logic with which she drives her own destiny?

But she knows the truth, she embraces the contraditction.

One life is everything. Their lives, are everything.

And she would spend hers for them gladly... if she must.

Yuna hasn't said a single word since this horrible ritual began. One, in particular, is extremely overdue.

"NO!" she screams at the top of her lungs, when she's a single step from the edge. When she can feel the vastness of the Tower of Light descending behind her, thousands of feet, a straight drop.

Suddenly she has everyone's attention again. The Maesters. The soldiers -- many of whom care about her, or at least about the idea of her. And Seymour himself, she knows, very much wants her alive.

"Throw down your weapons," she demands of him, of all of them, her newly found voice raw from disuse, low and dangerous rather than shrill and fearful. It is almost unrecognizable as hers.

But the look in her eyes, that is familiar. Unmistakable.

Yuna is resolved.

"Let them go... OR ELSE..."

She raises one booted foot, and lets it hover behind her, over nothing but empty space. A yawning chasm.

It cannot compete with the yawning chasm where her heart would be, if they were all murdered for the crime of rescuing her.

But a tiniest bit of her hope is restored, when Seymour sweeps an arm, and the Yevonites and Guado lower their weapons. They don't drop them by any means. But they will allow some movement, and some reunions.

"Leave now, please!" Yuna begs her friends, possessed by the terrible urgency of the Cassandra who will not so easily be listened to.

<Pose Tracker> K.K. has posed.

"Ida Everstead-Rey."

The name is intoned, simple but full of meaning that might simply go lost for those without the context for it. For a time, poised as they are, it might seem that is all the knight has to say to her. Save --

"Do you yet remember the importance of falling?"

And it is there they leave it, perhaps little more than a taunt for someone they have tormented for so long. Perhaps. The pressure of their gaze falls upon Boudicca, for a quiet moment, and then...

"'Tis a simple answer. I will see them break, or I will see them broken. Where but here would I stand to see such a thing, boy?"

Ivan's words, once more met with cryptic commentary on the part of the knight. But the self-proclaimed Adversary, at least, seems no less sincere in those metal-warped words. Obscure as they might be, those words have meaning. Just as much as they do for --

"Marivel. I would but ask this: how heavy must the burden of proof be, before one refuses to shoulder it? 'Tis--"

But, whatever else they might have to say is interrupted.

By a cat.

A cat literally licking its wounds.

Speaking in a way--

"You are a most queer of things, are you not? Peculiar."

Their helmed head cants, for all their blade stays level, as if trying to puzzle out the nature of the thing that is Harmaus.

"--Very well, cat. We shall speak anon. You've much left to lick, 'twould seem."

And this, too, they somehow say with intense gravity...

... a fact only undercut by Seymour's single command. Kill them.

K.K.'s faceless helm tilts. It focuses upon Ivan.

"Have you an answer yet to the question?" they ask Ivan. And if it isn't clear what they mean, their blade tilts with the weight of their next words, echoing a sentiment they expressed to him at the Baskar Village.

"'Do I deserve this life?'"

The sharp edge of the Divine Artifact starts to tense with preparation. The knight readies an executioner's swing.

NO!

And they are but seconds away from the act when Yuna's cry rips through the air.

The Trial Knight's attention turns her way. They see the threat, clear as day. They know the implication of it.

"..."

The fingers of their free hand spasm once, twice, and then still.

Their blade lingers at Ivan's neck for a precious handful of seconds after those other forces lower their weapons at Seymour Guado's command, as if it were more suggestion for them than order.

A few precious handful of seconds....

... before that weapon begins to break apart next to Ivan's skin, in a thousand shockingly, pleasantly warm motes of light.

They say nothing. They just wait.

Wait, to bear witness to what unfolds.

<Pose Tracker> Tidus has posed.

    Tidus is pinned down, and the clerk he unintentionally skewered is ignored by soldiers, left to bleed out. Even so, he struggles enough to thrust a shoulder towards the civilian. "Hey! Aren't you going to heal that guy?! He's hurt, real bad! He took a blow for your *beloved* Maester Seymour! Isn't that worth saving?! Hey!!" he demands. His anger, his desperation, to get *someone* to tend to the poor unnamed man is as much out of selfishness as it is out of compassion. It was hard enough coming to terms with mutilating and murdering Seymour, an evil man he hates; if he's responsible for the end of an innocent life, it will haunt him for the end of his.
    
    It's a similar selfish compassion that makes him still when Seymour turns his dubious attentions on Yuna; it's a similar selfish compassion that fills him with nausea when, sactified in the eyes of Yevon, Seymour forces himself (and Tidus doesn't consider it anything less, not when Yuna so clearly hates this) on her. And it's a similar selfish compassion that makes him struggle in panic when Yuna tries to bargain for *their* lives, about to end at a dismissive couple of words from the heinous Maester, at the expense of her own.
    
    "YUNA!!" he cries. To the extent that he can with weapons moved away, he pushes himself up to his feet. "You're coming with us!"
    
    Either she's coming with them, or they're staying right here. *He's* staying right here.
    
    He won't leave without her again.

<Pose Tracker> Rikku has posed.


Despite Rikku's moment of surrender, she can't help it but bleat out her distress the moment she sees Seymour approach Yuna. "Ah-aaaAAAAaaAAAA-!" She knows what's coming, but that doesn't make it any better. It makes it so much worse.

Because she would want this moment of Yuna's kiss at her wedding to be special, something for all of them to remember, and now it feels tainted, corrupt, vile. The lips of a murderous Unsent who killed her people and destroyed her Home.

Forced upon Yuna's.

And accepted only because their lives are in the balance. She can't believe she's seeing this. This nightmare.

Yuna's clenched fist though...

... causes the whine from her lips to stop. Because...

... Yuna may have surrendered. But Yuna hasn't given up. That is a distinction that is perhaps important to her.

'Kill them.'

The gun at her back feels like even more of a threat, and Rikku perhaps being her father's daughter momentarily considers one last hurrah. Except... Yuna shouts 'NO!' And Rikku doesn't lurch forward... doesn't say anything to the implied threat. Only the tiniest twitch of her foot from which she wants to rush towards Yuna marks her movement.

Until Seymour sweeps his arm. And then Rikku runs up the steps towards her, some hope restored in the wild emotional swing. Yet she doesn't run all the way, stopping just behind Tidus.

Yuna being on the edge, while it's a threat to save their lives. It's still a threat on Yuna's life. And one she cannot ignore by simply doing what she wants to do right now. "Yunie please. Let's get out of here together...!"

<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"How little you know of strangulation." Marivel hisses in retort to Mika. "Tis understandable. For you have forgotten how to breathe." Her eyes slant to that clenched fist.

Yuna begs her to flee.

Yuna begs her to leave now.

K.K begins to tell her something, begins to illuminate her. "One day," Marivel says. "I should like to have a conversation for a time before a gun is in my face or a blade in my guts."

She looks to Yuna. The burden of proof before one refuses to shoulder it. Even as an unfinished thought, it troubles her that she might have some ideas as to what that means.

"Tis true." Marivel says. "I cannot force you to live the good long life you deserve. However..."

She steps forward, taking advantage of that brief confusion Yuna has interjected into the ranks.

"By that same token, my sacrifices are my own to make as well, no?"

She's about to try something insane, no doubt--but maybe something will discourage her just in time. A sign. An omen.

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

Elly is tapped, beyond perhaps a desperate measure that here and now would only get her shot. And she has put her weapon down.

She curses her weakness quietly - but then her head turns. She cannot quite see the exact position of Yuna. But from the reaction of the others --
is this what it feels like?
Elly has a guess on what it is that Yuna is doing. Her heart beats faster, though. Somehow, in her heart, she prays.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

'A kid your age?'

"I am older than you are," Mariel says, with absolute certainty that this is, in fact, true (and probably by at least one order of magnitude, though she's not entirely sure how long Guado live).

At the order to 'kill them', Mariel raises her voice. "No! You - please, do not do that!" So many deaths - she couldn't bear to see them, hear them, feel them. The chaos she's already been through has already pushed her far enough - and maybe that's a selfish thought, but Mariel doesn't want anyone else to die. Not on her account, Yuna's account, or anyone else's.

But there is, at least, a momentary delay. Held as she is, Mariel cannot see Yuna any longer without twisting in a manner that is both uncomfortable and probably would result in a dangerous response from the Guado. She makes an attempt - she hears the voice - but there is not able to see what Yuna's threat is, only hear her make it. (Nor can she see K.K.; she is pointed almost precisely the wrong direction for that, though she can hear him behind her somewhere talking to people she knows.)

She almost tries anyway, but when she feels a tightening grip on her shoulders, she goes limp again. She cannot see a way out of this moment. There must be something...

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    Seymour advances, and Boudicca thinks of a wolf bearing down on a lamb.

    She does not think it will happen. She associates none of this with romance. This is not romance, she corrects herself; it is violence.

    "No," she says, but quietly, quietly, as if she stands in a field of birds and would not startle one.

    (Each feather a bullet.)

    Perhaps it is a denial of the pressure K.K. brings to bear, just as well; certainly she feels their gaze on her, the story of her skin prickling just like the real thing would.

    But the real crushing blow - that comes from Seymour, dismissive and unkind.

    "Wait," Boudicca says, turning now to the Warrior Monks surrounding them, though she does not look long to the gun pointed at her, "please --"

    She petitions those individuals - not Seymour.

    And her attention is torn from them just as surely by one voice.

    "Yuna!" Boudicca cries. Boudicca is the air; she could so easily be the air beneath Yuna's feet. But in this she is bound, as well: if she goes to Yuna, if she helps her, surely the power Yuna wields is forfeit too.

    She would bet her life. Boudicca curses it a thousand times inside her core - not a heart, do not think of a heart, there are no veins, no chambers - that core which is still pure and whole and her.

    No, Boudicca thinks.

    The only chance to save her is --

    "Let us go!" Boudicca says, and the words are raw and so is she, as the wind picks up about the heels of the Otherworlders and the Spirans who would defy fate and scatter tears. It is a tailwind to help hasten them away from this place - should they choose to flee.

    And as she turns, her gaze finds K.K., one more time.

    And she is afraid.

    She is still afraid.

<Pose Tracker> Azoth has posed.

Permission granted, Azoth darts to Cecilia's side. That he doesn't know her is no consequence now. He isn't programmed to have to know. He scoops her up, gaze darting over the battlefield for possible actions to take. More options. No matter how hopeless the feedback, or futile the situation, he was built to keep searching for possibilities. Some might call it determination. Others, a cruel irony.

These days, Azoth belongs to the latter camp.

'Kill them'. Azoth wraps his arms around his unconscious ward, back to the guns to take whatever rain of bullets might come until he can gather the energy for a shield. Yuna's NO! stops the need. Threats rise and fall. Variables change rapidly. When variables change, so do calculations. So do conclusions. Optimizing energy levels. Running repair sequences.

This isn't right. But when one objective fails, it's on to the next. ... But it did fail, didn't it? With sickening consequence.

<Pose Tracker> Lulu has posed.

Lulu would prefer to look away, but she does not easily have that chance. She watches a display of force and something is hard in the pit of her stomach as she does. She thinks for a moment she might move regardless... And then-

And then Yuna shouts her denial. Lulu sees her there--Lulu is not the only one to turn in that direction. She hears Yuna's demands, but more to the point--

She sees Yuna's eyes. Lulu's own widen almost imperceptibly as she stirs to greater awareness in the face of that expression, that resolve.

In the next moment Lulu falls like a puppet whose strings have been cut as Wedge obeys Seymour's silent order. She hits the ground hard, hard enough to jar her wounds and injuries that are still fresh for the limited time Mariel had--but Mariel did enough.

There is a reunion, here--Wakka leans down to help Lulu up, and they share a significant look, the same that passes between both of them and Kimahri in the next moment. Lulu reaches her feet, finally, doll under her arm again, and steadies herself with a calming breath.

It is a breath her instincts tell her to hold. Yuna asks them to go--and Lulu looks to Yuna again.

"Rikku," Lulu says, and Rikku will know the tone.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    This never was a wedding. Ida's been to weddings before, and even awful, loveless ones have some life to them. Failing that, there are people at least going through the motions of living--saying well-wishes they don't feel, drinking too much to ease their own anxiety, and so forth.

    This never was a wedding. It was a hostage situation. The bells, the banners, the ceremony--all of it is paper over a grotesque display of power. Yevon wants to remind everyone who is really in charge, and Seymour wants to remind Yuna that she never could stop him. She watches Seymour, not Yuna, and for a moment she wishes she could commit some exquisite, humiliating violence against him. The rage flares hot and bright. She wants Seymour to suffer. It doesn't matter how much he's already suffered. He forced himself on someone dear to her, and for that he must pay.

    He did this someone who is, at day's end, a far better human being than--

    K.K. responds. Ida wasn't expecting it.

    'Do you yet remember the importance of falling?'

    "I do," Ida whispers. Her voice is a dry, pained creak. "But Yuna--"

    'Kill them.'

    Ida's eyes focus on Seymour, calculating the odds of her being able to do anything meaningful.

    And then Yuna does the one thing she can do to seize control. A strange sort of relief settles onto Ida, despite the panic. She pleads, but Ida does not move. She still has a conversation to finish.

    "I fell," Ida says, her voice pained in more ways than one. "And though I fly, the mud still clings to me. But she--she was born flying." Perhaps not the most tactful thing to say while Yuna is threatening to hurl herself to her death, but it's K.K.'s metaphor, no thers. "She does not see the mud. She sees me."

    "And I..." Ida's hands tense into fists again. "I have faith in her, as she has faith in me."

    Please, Yuna, Ida thinks. Please have something else up your sleeve. Brad's death is still tearing her up inside.

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

'Tis a simple answer. I will see them break, or I will see them broken. Where but here would I stand to see such a thing, boy?

"I would prefer you stand at least a couple of feet away," Ivan mumbles in complaint at his precarious position, frustrated at his own lack of understanding of the answer.

The order comes to kill them all, and K.K. echoes their question from their last encounter. Have you an answer yet to the question? 'Do I deserve this life?'

It's not a question they wait for him to answer, but a pre-amble to a killing strike. All he can do now is refuse to show the spike of desperate fear, but the line closely connecting his emotions and his magic betrays him, sending more fire roiling up from within him, lashing out in chaotic flares from his back and shoulders.

Ivan braces for that strike, but Yuna intercedes. The forces lower their weapons -- K.K. perhaps the last.

Ivan scrambles, then, to turn and face them, putting several steps between himself and the Trial Knight and raising his own blade defensively as if he can somehow overwrite their encounter and erase being caught unawares and at the other's mercy by facing them.

"...I'm still not telling that to somebody in a mask," he answers breathlessly, still recovering from the involuntary panic that had overtaken him in the moment of helplessness.

<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

And Seymour does sweep an arm back. Weapons are lowered -- and some grips loosened -- but they exist in a liminal state, unsure of where this new change would leave. Biggs even steps back from Tidus, and Wedge makes his way backward, too, from Lulu. Both of the Guado look at Seymour, from behind. He stands there in his suit, his expression on Yuna as she takes step after fateful step to the back of the chasm.

"Are you mad?" he asks her, something between derision and shock in his voice.

He looks sideways at Tidus -- and he blinks, once, at him. Then, he looks back at Yuna again. He holds a hand out towards her.

The soldiers behind look about. Wildly, confused; they seem uncertain of what to do. Even the machina hang in the sky, hovering, as if they do not know yet what to do. That confusion, indeed, perhaps buys precious moments. Azoth can track it -- perhaps quicker than the others.

The attention of the soldiers is divided. There is opportunity here; so many of the Warrior Monks look away, or look between their charges and the Maesters.

"Enough of your otherworlder lies!" the soldier holding Mariel relents. But, he lowers his glove, and continues holding her.

Through all of this, Seymour's focus remains on Yuna. He tells her, simply, like she may have not realized: "You'll die!"

<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.
<SoundTracker> I Can Fly - Final Fantasy X - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjqRXdq3AXU

Of course Yuna's friends do the opposite of what she's imploring them to. Some approach, while others threaten their own sacrifices. She tries, very hard, to communicate her heart through her eyes. Her eyes, which are still very desperate, but no longer hopeless. No, they are full. She is full of feeling. Feeling like this, at a time like this...

...hope is a revolution.

"Don't worry! Go!"

Seeing Seymour again, she is overcome with the need to scrub her lips on the back of her fist, and does so. Repeatedly. She does not feel less gross afterwards, but simply allowing herself the gesture makes her feel, minutely, better. His smirk, his existence, offends her on new levels that she didn't know about until now.

But she feels something other than horror, now.

Yes. Something else stirs within her breast.

She had been shown the wedding gown some days before she was dressed in it. She had feigned the minimum amount of enthusiasm required for believability. But she had hated it, despised it, from the moment she first saw it. She'd hated the bare shoulders and arms and back, the exposed legs. But most of all... she'd hated the wings.

Because among the many, many things that Yuna loves, wings are first among equals. She'd privately grieved for the birds who were killed and stripped to make the gown. And she'd privately hated the twisted symbolism. For them to imprison her -- to force her to wed -- and then to dress her in her dearest symbol of freedom...

One more cruelty amid a thousand.

But now, with the wind at her back... she feels the hateful feathers stir. And she knows the rightness, the righteouness, of what must be done.

Hope is HER revolution.

And for Seymour's incomprehension, his lack of imagination, the limitations of the emptiness in his eyes, she feels nothing more than pity.

Yuna gives her friends and family one last look. A gentle look. The light inside her -- the light of hope -- could so easily be mistaken for the light of madness. She's always been a zealot, and much moreso than they knew until very recently.

But it's a loving look. She loves them, so much.

"Don't worry," she repeats, softly, even tenderly. These aren't the words, isn't the expression, of one who is going to force the people who love her, watch her die. Not today, at least.

"I can fly. Believe."

Her palms close prayerfully -- and she tips her head back -- and goes backwards, over the edge.

Chaos. Yevonites rush for the edges of the tower, desperate to bear witness to this tragedy, desperate to prevent it even though they cannot. Even though she's made them powerless to do so.

Something else happens. It isn't visible from the top unless you, too, rush for the edge, and of course the purpose of all this pagentry, one purpose at least, is for you to the opposite.

But the scent of Besaid peaches is ripe and heady perfume, bourne widely upon the winds of Bevelle.

And a brilliant light momentarily washes out every other color from the Palace, save a transcendently beautiful pink.

The gasps of awe by the onlookers tell the rest of the story. Yuna lived. Yuna lives.

Yuna flies!

---

 <SoundTracker> Wings - Birdy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJTXDCh2YiA

Yuna fell...

The wind tore at her hair and her dress and her eyes, but her eyes stayed wide open, she forced them to stare upwards, at the endless blue sky, the blue sky that they both love.

This should be impossible. Yevon teaches that a rod is prerequisite to a summoning. A dance. A prayer.

Yuna has a heart.

And Yuna believes -- Yuna knows -- that she is enough.

Freedom -- flight -- her soul flowers with the love of both.

With the love of everyone. For everyone.

She's come so far... since Besaid...

...and one spirit has been with her the whole way. Her first. It isn't good to play favorites, but her island home's is her most precious fayth. Their friendship, between two island girls, the most clearly and profoundly resonant within her.

Yuna reaches within herself -- and she reaches out with her hands -- above her -- grasping --

An explosion of light, her feelings made manifest. Yevonite runes. A collision of spheres of radiance, above her.

Then a flash of feathers, diving past her, beneath her. Crimson, violet, and everything in between. Cream. Gold.

Valefor, the shared child of their souls' union -- a union more real, more beautiful, more wonderful than anything Seymour could dream of playing at with her -- spreads her wings beneath her, around her, and matches speeds for a soft midair landing.

The grand bird cranes its neck around so that their eyes might meet. Yuna exhales her gratitude and relief -- she had hoped, but that doesn't mean that this wasn't SCARY, she hadn't KNOWN that she could pull it off -- then looks back up at the Tower.

Her smile is a weary smile. A small smile. A soft smile.

But it is a memorable one.

And then aeon and summoner wheel, and vanish downward, lost to sight within the lower skyscape of the rest of Bevelle Temple.

<Pose Tracker> Rikku has posed.


Ordinarily she'd be panicked at Yuna jumping over the edge, but before she did. Lulu said her name. And Rikku looks at her in surprise... and then something in her expression just changes, like she's grown calmer.

Lulu trusts the situation. And if Lulu trusts the situation. So too can she. So when Yuna says don't worry.

Despite all odds, she is able to convince herself not to.

When Yuna says she can fly...

... Rikku trusts that that is true.

When Yuna falls... she knows everything will be alright. Even before the bright flash of Valefor's summoning comes shines brightly upwards. Because thanks to Lulu and Yuna... they have a plan.

Lulu's look reminded her that the moment Yuna goes over the edge, is the moment this reprieve from execution ends for the rest of them.

And so with a quick motion that likely goes unnoticed given that everyone is still paying attention to Yuna's fall she shouts, "Cover your eyes!" And tosses an object right at Seymour's feet.

The object instantly goes off with a blinding glare, worse than looking into the midday sun directly. She knows the object going to the Maester's feet will suddenly be the focus of so many Warrior Monks. Which means she's hoping to punish them all for their vigilance.

And then there's a secondary flash, and the world goes white over the platform for anyone who hasn't yet managed to fully shield their eyes. Suddenly the platform is full of pained howls by the Warrior Monks.

BGM For Running Away: Hurry! - FFX OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgRAF4sC2pg

However there's also suddenly the tap-tap of her footsteps down the steps. As Yuna tries to call out for all the other Drifters, "Hurry! Everyone - this way! Come on - come on!"

As Rikku hurries down the steps towards an elaborate domed building, the banners waving gently in the high up breeze. There is a fountain like spray, artificial waterfalls gently decorating its place in the skies over Bevelle.

It's small enough that it looks like there won't be an entire battalion of Warrior Monks waiting for them inside at a glance.

<Pose Tracker> Tidus has posed.

    Yuna stands her ground. Of course Yuna stands her ground; Tidus hasn't ever met anyone so stubborn, so willful, so wonderful as she is. Rikku tries to convince her too, and Tidus shoots his best friend a glance of gratitude, but then Rikku's name lies sharp on Lulu's tongue. Hearing that, too, makes Tidus understand. When he looks back at Yuna--when she tells everyone she can fly, when she asks them to believe--he starts to shake his head, then slowly, if reluctantly, nods instead.
    
    He does believe in her. He might believe in her more than he believes in anyone else. But he also loves her, and that means he worries for her.
    
    She goes over the edge... and then arises on Valefor's wings. Tidus breathes out a sigh of relief. Then Rikku warns everyone to cover their eyes, and he knows her well enough to not question it, just do it. A flash of light later, and there's a chance for escape.
    
    He runs over to the injured clerk, grabs the potion that had fallen nearby, and upends its contents into the man's mouth, not knowing if he's even still alive or not. A second later, Auron grabs him by the arm, hauls him to his feet, and *shoves* him after Rikku and the others before racing after them himself. (Babysitting is a thankless job, but someone's got to do it.)

<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Marivel is about to do something crazy. She has been determined to not let the tragediess of the past repeat.

But what she never expected, what she could never have dared hope for...is that Yuna would save herself.

That she would engage in necromancy without a focus--or perhaps the focus is her heart. When the staff is in your heart, Marivel knows, then you are always carrying one.

She says 'Don't worry.'

And for once Marivel feels like she can believe it. When Yuna says she can fly--Marivel cannot doubt it. She stops.

She glances to her companions and--

A flashbang goes off.

...And when the light fades, Marivel is nowhere to be seen.

<Pose Tracker> Lulu has posed.

Lulu knows that look in Yuna's eyes, and she knows when it's time to get ready. Lulu, too, spots the divided attention of the soldiers, and she is not the only one. She watches warily, and does not yet follow Yuna's order. Not yet. There is something yet that she--that they--have to collect.

She spoke to Rikku, but looks now to Tidus, and then again to Yuna. She sees that love, that hope, and in a moment the hope blooms again within her where it had rested a seed. She does not mistake Yuna's look for madness. Somehow, impossibly, there is something that Yuna can do, here. So Lulu believes.

She believes, and does not so much as gasp as Yuna goes over the edge. She just shuts her eyes and waits--

The flashbang goes off in an instant. Wakka's voice comes first, "W-what was that?"

But he covered his eyes, too, at Rikku's direction. "An Al Bhed flashbomb," Lulu supplies for him.

She is not the only one to believe. Kimahri rushes in an instant--towards Tidus's side. Wakka shoulder-tackles the nearest guard in their way to get him out of the path. They all move in an instant, as one--as Lulu starts running without looking back. Wakka moves after her, and as soon as Auron has Tidus, Kimahri speaks up to anyone who is still hesitating, "Leave!"

None of them look back. Only ahead.

<Pose Tracker> Azoth has posed.

Azoth watches every movement, calculating every piece of calculation. Subtle shifts can be made. Small preparations that won't catch attention. Then Yuna grants the greatest window of opportunity.

His calculations click into place. Azoth bolts from his position, Cecilia tight in his grasp. When the flash goes off, he doesn't need to close his eyes, buying him precious more seconds to weave through monks for his attempted escape.

There will be time enough to analyze and process the data once he's gone from here.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    'Don't worry', Yuna says. She either has something else up her sleeve, or she's committed to her death.

    And which do you think it is? This woman, still a girl, willing to die for--

    Ida sucks in a breath and holds it, focusing on the pain of her wounds.

    'I can fly. Believe.'

    Ida does. She said as much to K.K., just now. And as Yuna falls backwards off the edge, she has nothing to go on but that faith. Ida looks back at the others, sighting Azoth carrying Cecilia; despite her injuries, she rushes over to him, motioning for him to bring Cecilia with her. One of her hands reaches for a flashbang at her belt.

    Rikku, ever the quick study, beats her to it. There's a rush of Pyreflies, and Valefor appears, whisking Yuna to relative safety. It's the last thing Ida sees before she closes her eyes, grabs Azoth's arm, and leads him after Rikku.

    They're not out of this. Not by a long shot. But at least now there's hope.