2021-02-13: Vanguard Bandits

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<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Baralai, the unlikely leader of the Yevonites in Bevelle, put out the call to Drifters for aid. In a twist of fate, that aid seemed nearly unnecessary -- for shortly after Drifters began to arrive in Bevelle, something strange happened. Over a few days, hte part of the city that fell had fewer and fewer Guard soldiers inside of it.

The reason came from a strategy devised by General Georg Heldalf, the Butcher of Rolance.

Reports came from the north -- from Rin, who had made a habit of getting along with Yevon, despite being Al Bhed. A large group of Guard forces could be seen there... including a large gathering of the Guard's Golems. The large force is moving southward. In a strange twist of fate, then, the battle for Bevelle is in the Calm Lands.

Which leads to now -- as, from the south, a large group of Drifters is moving. It has some on foot; but, for the first time, there are a number of titanic metal Gears, walking over the endless grassy expanse of the Calm Lands. The sun hits them.

Then, from the Guard's formation to the north, a few horns blast the alert.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

To look at the line of Golems advancing from the north, Bevelle will need that Drifter aid.

Every step is thunder to these great machines. Huge even among Gears, the Guard's Golems are intimidating works of technology and magic, and they move southward inexorably towards Bevelle. As the sun hits some of the Gears to the south, a voice radios out over the Guard's frequencies.

"This doesn't change anything." It's Kaguya's voice, as she sits in the cockpit of the largest of the Golems, almost twenty sharls high with a bulky frame and powerful form, brassy and armored in the shape of a monstrous humanoid with terrible sharp teeth and bulbous body.

"Remember your machine's capabilities, and press through." ...If she were a better Guardswoman, she might say to 'have faith'. ...But in her way, maybe she does, if in her technology instead of the Goddess.

Better not dwell on that.

Clank. Clank. Gigantic machines continue pressing southward, along with other forces, much smaller. Kaguya's Cuchulainn, brassy in the sunlight, its great awful smile wide, continues forward much like it once marched on Luca. But this time by land, not by sea.

The ground continues to shake. Cuchulainn continues to smile, and march forward with the others. Its many guns glint too in the light. And beside it...

<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

"This feels excessive," Day Muirwall mutters, keeping his comline judiciously deactivated.

Evalach, Althena's Shield, is distinctive among the ranks of the Guard's mobile corps in that it is clearly not of Veruni design - while its huge shoulder-mounted aegis binders are distinctive, it's still a human-built machine. Day's stationed himself to one side of the line, but for now he's looking on and waiting for his cue.

It's an uncomfortable delay. Slouching forward in his seat, he rests his elbows on his thighs and scowls out through his forward monitor. "We could finish this by parley or just by waiting until their food runs out. It would hurt a lot less people."

"This was the Duchess Alathfar's idea, right?" There's a second seat behind Day's; Seraph Vesna has curled herself up into it, seeming a little uncomfortable with with the situation and her surroundings.

"Yes." Day looks up towards the cockpit roof before sinking heavily back in his seat. "Her zeal is in some ways admirable...."

"...but in other ways terrifying, isn't it?" Vess's voice is a little quieter. "Especially given that I don't think that emotion is borne out of faith in Althena."

Before Day can articulate a response, a horn blows, thunderous and heavy with alarm.

Jolting immediately into alertness, Day moves his control stick. Evalach pivots, radar flickering to capture the approaching column of Drifters - and their machines. The young man narrows his eyes and sets his jaw.

"I was afraid of that," he mutters as he begins to push the big white Gear forward, readying the huge thruster-equipped broadsword that makes for Evalach's main weapon. The insignia of the Guard is prominently displayed on the big Gear's side binders as it advances through the Guard column to take point. Day flicks another switch and raises his voice, booming through both an external speaker and a radio line.


<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    If there's anything to be glad about in this grim situation, it's that the Golems aren't being deployed directly against Bevelle. Leo himself argued against that possibility, noting that the risk of massive civilian casualties should such a thing come to pass. Out here, in a place already scarred with fights against Sin, it's easier for him to put that out of mind.

    And yet, that poisonous, treasonous doubt lingers. There's so much suffering in this place already, and everything he does only deepens it.

    Hashmal strikes a menacing figure, as it did when it first deployed in Luca. It's a juggernaut of gleaming steel and burnished gold and ornamental stone, with a distinctly leonine countenance. The ground trembles with each step it takes, as if quaking before its dread authority. In its cockpit sits Leo. Sweat beads on his brow, and he reaches up to dab it off. His fingers brush against the base of his horn. He frowns.

DC: Yuna switches forms to Lady Summoner!
DC: Tidus switches forms to Star Player of the Zanarkand Abes!
DC: White Knight Leo switches forms to Golem Hashmal - The Bringer of Order!
DC: Day Muirwall switches forms to Althena's Shield - Evalach!
<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

The Calm Lands rumbles.

Because something is rolling across it. It stands 18 sharls (meters, in the common parlance of the Pangalactic Federation), but it is nearly as wide. It also does not stand as much as roll: a huge ball of steel, which has a U-shaped frame over the top. This houses two fat, segmented arms and a massive head that takes on a vaguely avian quality. Panel lines, with ancient graphite in them, are seen all across it.

It is white; it has red, gold, and black highlights. Its eyes gleam a terrific golden shade that seem to form stars in the right moments.

And, printed on each side in stenciled choreography in the language of Zeboim is a brutal declaration of identity: CUCCOBUSTER.

It rolls forth.

Inside, Talia is yelling, as the one-seated Gear rolls forward. She is not in the pilot seat -- stabilized by countless systems, all mercifully on instead of not -- as the Gear rolls forward at high speeds. She is half-sitting, half-standing behind it. Her brother is inside it.

"Ivan! That one--" She points at Hashmal. The leonine juggernaut of a Golem. "--that one must be White Knight Leo, no? You--you wanted to talk to him, right?"

More than talk, really.

DC: Kaguya switches forms to Golem Cuchulainn - The Impure!
<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

A call to action. A call to protect people. A call to, frankly, get paid. Are there probably qualms to be had here? Yes, but on the other hand, they are able to now go back and forth and more to the point -

"If it does get really bad, we can always just do a flit and get behind a ridge and make our way back," Elly says, soberly.

HERE, NOW, in the Calm Lands' vast and undulating expanses... "If we need to, we could always stop over at 'that monastery'... I suppose I should hush, though, before we jinx it. Ah! There they are. They're already maneuvering."

"Come on - I think if we can hit that big one, we can make a big impact! If they lose steam out here in the Calm Lands, then the entire offensive will fizzle out."

And for emphasis, the pink-and-white-and-varnished-over-scribblework Gear swings forwards a combat rod, for emphasis! (In the command interface, Elly hits right-option and the Tsade key.)

Elly van Houten - The Renegade Ally of an Innocent Heart! - in Vierge
Fei Fong Wong - The Dragon-Slaying Slacker! - in Weltall


(Vierge's head component turns fractionally. Elly blinks slowly in the cockpit several times. You know what she just spotted.)

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    There is a man who has feared for this day's arrival - that he had to accept it would be ineviable. He fussed and prepared exhaustively. They went out of their way to acquire vast amounts of pigment as to recolor a large thing as to look more like it might have been a machina of Al Bhed salvage. This, after months of refusing to even entertain the idea of replacing its faded coat.
     A lanky machine common to those often salvaged in the Kattelox region, once well-regarded as a skirmishing unit, disguised as though it came from here. The colors are exhaustively researched. The shape is wrong for that particular lie, but there's nothing its pilot can do about that. It moves forward at great speed with occasional bursts of movement that do not set off heat sensors. In fact, the Gear itself is hard to detect and read with most standard onboard systems.
     The pilot elects to throw away that advantage immediately as a streaks of light flies from their advancing position courtesy of a multi-segmented rifle-staff, a horizontal wave of energy looking to find purchase within the large body a few times over as they still close in.
     "These people you march towards now, Kaguya," not even calling her by her family name, her title, or anything she has earned or won from merit among the Guard. Just 'Kaguya,' "are not 'primitive.'"
     The voice can only belong to one person... but one could be forgiven for it not immediately jumping to mind as to who because there is an inflection of actual emotion in there. The laser fire is easy to trace the origin of - that is the operational weakness of the model, in modern times.
     "These people you lead destruction to now are people whose lives you have forever altered in ways unprepared... unsolicited... unjustly," its pilot comes to a temporary stop. There's little cover to work with in the Calm Lands, but he is content with pulling her attention this way. "The flames that have spread since the agitation of conflict in Glenwood with novel weapons..."
     The rifle prepares to open fire anew, for all that ends in just a mere dramatic pose.
     "Its uncontrolled burn ends here."

GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Kaguya with Strafe!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

Yuna's pilgrimage wasn't long from departing the Calm Lands... on the far side... when the war caught up to them.

It came, at first, by word of mouth rather than strength of arms. Yevon's word reaches even beyond the edge of civilization, in Spira; though what, exactly, Yevon has become, with Mika and Seymour fled Bevelle, is an open question.

The twenty thousand refugees in Bevelle are not, and there is only one possible answer: Yuna turns around.

And so it is that they approach the battle lines from an unusual direction, and with no fanfare at all. At the scale of the golems striding forth, in fact, they're all but invisible. Just a group of travelers, shorter than the grasses they stride through. The first time they're easily seen it's because they have emerged into a gigantic footprint of the golem Cuchulainn, which in a place like this creates a somewhat more explicable crop circle phenomenon than usual.

"That one," Yuna points at the 66.6 foot tall brass giant. "Rikku and I fought it... at Luca."

Given Luca's conquered status one imagines it did not go well.

But Yuna's shoulders, a little hunched, a little slender, very small and very human amid this clash of titans, are nevertheless set, and so is her course. After all, she intends, in the very near future, to stand on this very battlefield to fight something even larger.

"The pilot is... familiar," she explains to the others. Perhaps combat tactics would be better, but the connection she felt back then is her strongest memory of a very difficult time. "We've never met, and yet last we fought... I recognized something of myself. I wonder if... we can reach her, this time."

Leo, not far away in his own gigantic golem, is a living symbol of both their success in doing so, and some amount of futility. Since he's here... again...

"Either way, we mustn't allow them to reach the city..."

She turns her face up to the sky, gestures broadly with her rod, and scatters little poison-green spheres around her Guardians, as though they are stars and her magic, that which orbits. This is not far from her feelings, either. And it is, in a Yuna way, a little bit of tactical advice, after all, as to what they should expect to face...

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Bevelle had come under attack by the Guard. Layna has no real love for Yevon - especially after what they did to Home - but she's no big fan of the Guard, either. She's not interested in letting them do as they please. Frankly, she'd prefer to avoid a decisive win by either, and right now the best way to accomplish that is by defending the people of Bevelle.

And so, as the machines of Althena's Guard walk across the Calm Lands, a massive red and gold Gear strolls out to meet them - Layna's Crimson Corsair. She's not alone - in the field, or in the cockpit. Dahlia is here too, taking up a position to monitor the Gear's various statistics - and both pirates listen as a voice rings out over the communication lines.

"It sounds like they're serious." Dahlia comments. Layna grins.

"They always are. That's one respectable thing about 'em, at least." Layna replies, leaning back... and then, turns on the communications herself.

"That's why I'm here, lad. You lot have gone far enough, I think. Now, I'm gonna turn that right back on you - why don't the lot of you take those machines of yours and turn right back around? You've got some pretty big toys there - a lot of people could get hurt." Layna replies. "'Course, if you still wanna tangle, even knowing that... then let's tangle, aye?"

With that, the Gear makes a knuckle-cracking motion. It's not even necessary for a Gear - Layna's just showing off. Within the cockpit, Dahlia rolls her eyes.

GS: Yuna has attacked Tidus with NulHarm!
GS: Yuna has attacked Paine with NulHarm!
GS: Yuna has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Yuna has completed her action.
GS: Yuna heals Tidus! He gains 110 temporary hit points!
GS: Yuna heals Paine! She gains 110 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Billy Lee Black has posed.


Billy stared at the carpet, head bowed, genuflecting before the desk of his superior. The man he respected more than any other. Yet...

"You are uncertain," the Bishop's kind voice said. "I understand. You have worked hard to protect people for so long. Asking you to bring your strength against men, on behalf of a faith not your own, is no simple thing."

He heard the Bishop's chair - a high-backed, elaborate thing, he knew, of fine wood and finer woodwork - scrape against hallowed stone, heard the footsteps approach. Felt his hand firmly upon his shoulder.

"You are a fine young man, Billy Lee Black. This is why you are my hand. And this is why you must trust me. Show the adherents of Yevon, lost and frightened, the faith and love of Granas. A God who will not abandon them to the ravages of Sin and sinner. And show the heathens of Althena that demons who wear the skin of men, may still be subjected to the judgment of God."

Billy felt the gathered muscles in his back ease, the tension across his shoulders unknotting. "I will, Bishop," Billy said, and after a few more words of parting, he rose, and strode from the office and the cathedral. He reached into his robe and produced an ARM flare gun, clicking it open and firing a single, blue flare into the air.

Somewhere far away, a young boy in a belltower sees the flare, and reaches for the rope at his side. "Deployment order!" he calls, his voice high, not yet changed. He yanks hard, setting the bell tolling, and cries with a powerful voice to be heard. "Non-emergency launch! Get that hatch open! Suzy, Marinette, you've got five minutes to check those hoses!"


Blazing blue flame rises out from behind a whipping yellow cape, roaring over the open fields. The arms are thick, cylindrical - like revolver chambers. The shoulders are wide and blue, like a heroic priest. The head rises in a high and mighty point, like the love of God. And its name is...!

                        WELS-SUPPRESSION GEAR RENMAZUO
                            FRIEND TO ALL CHILDREN

Billy Lee Black's voice rises out of the Gear radio. "Miss Fei! Miss Elly!" he calls, a hand snaking out to flip a diagnostic switch. Ether ammo count, all green. "I admit, I'm more used to facing giant Wels than armed formations. I'll follow your lead, if you don't mind!"

DC: Billy Lee Black switches forms to Friend To All Children Renmazuo!
GS: Kaguya guards a hit from Ethius Hesiod's Strafe for 172 hit points!
GS: Riposte applied to Ethius Hesiod!
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei was living the life. He didn't have to get up to do violence, he didn't have to get involved in the war, and then some asshole named Baralai had to beg for help and before he knew it, Fei was getting involved in a war on behalf of people who didn't give a single shit about him or, frankly, any of his friends. Because it is the right thing to do.

You're a fucking idiot.

Fei is inclined to agree with Id and he lets out a long, deep throated sigh as he leans back in his cockpit. He is naturally in Weltall and maybe he's thinking of slacking but Elly's presence reaffirms him that, really, he should do the right thing. Even if these are people who don't care about him or anybody he actually care about because the Spirans need help. Granted, nobody in the Spiran Church has treated Fei well barring people the Church also threw in prison but..nggghghhhkkkk....they probably shouldn't be conquered and killed?


"Yeah okay." Fei says with even less enthusiasm than he usually has about fighting in a gear.

He clomp clomp clomps towards the mech, looking over to Billy. He should ... probably try to be a good person to Billy since he has a troubled relationship with his father? And he's pretty sympathetic about that.

"Oh uh. Yeah. Sure." He says to Billy, almost startled into answering. "We're going to ... hit that one." He points. "Unless maybe we can just nicely ask it to not destroy a religion since the real big assholes lefft? Maybe we can just ask them to go on to Guadosalam instead. Here I'll try it."

He throws a wave over to Day's killer robot.

"Hey! Hey giant golem of death...! Before we try to kill each other, I've got a suggestion! Maybe we could just... go hang out somewhere insteadd of fighting to conquer the capital city of Spira? They said that a lot of the assholes left, so if you wanted you could just go to where the assholes actually are and fight there instead?"

He is quiet for a moment. "Or we can just have some kind of gear picnic. That'd be nice right?"


<Pose Tracker> Tidus has posed.

    Tidus is no fan of the Yevon faith after what they did to Yuna and his friends. In the normal order of things, he'd be content to let the leadership of Bevelle reap what they've sown. But after hearing that Seymour *and* Mika fled the city, and it's really just refugees left... He'd be hard-pressed to just abandon those poor people.
    Good thing Yuna agrees. But then, you could count on her to always go to the people's aid.
    Tidus raises a hand to his brow as he looks at the brass giant Yuna indicates. "At Luca, huh," he says, unenthusiastic. He's indeed thinking of what happened at the city. He lowers his hand and looks at her as she explains. "It looks like she's leading the pack. If we *could* talk her down..." Tidus leaves the thought at that. Like Yuna, he recognizes that they reached Leo, and yet here he is again.
    Still, he nods to her and Paine in turn. "You guys ready to do this thing?" he says, drawing his sword. As Yuna calls up defensive spheres to defend her Guardians, Tidus calls upon his own temporal magic to send the clock racing for the three of them. Given how much smaller they are than that Golem, they can at least move in with a *speed* advantage.

GS: Tidus has attacked Yuna with Hastega!
GS: Tidus has attacked Tidus with Hastega!
GS: Tidus has attacked Paine with Hastega!
GS: Tidus has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Tidus has completed his action.
GS: Yuna accepts Tidus's Hastega for 0 hit points!
GS: Quick applied to Yuna!
GS: Riposte applied to Tidus!
GS: Tidus accepts Tidus's Hastega for 0 hit points!
GS: Quick applied to Tidus!
GS: Riposte applied to Tidus!
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

--that one must be White Knight Leo, no? You--you wanted to talk to him, right?

Ivan is currently seated in front of the controls of the noble rolling Gear. He looks back at his sister briefly.

"Yes-- yes I did! How do we get our voices to come out on the outside?"

Ivan gazes searchingly across the instrument panel, his eyes glazing a bit. Both of the twins have a fairly ... incomplete and approximated working knowledge of the Cuccobuster's many glorious features and functions. But sometimes stopping a war is too urgent to be delayed until you can master the intricacies of otherworldy technology far beyond your ken.

Ivan finally chooses a button, and the Cuccobuster shoots a gout of flame from its beak upward as it rolls.

"N-not that one!" --Though he'd better make a note of it for later.

"Wait -- no, I remember."

He finally locates and activates the function for audio broadcast.

"Leo!" That he has dropped the honorific title still feels somewhat scandalous, but he presses on.

"This is Ivan, and my sister Talia is here, too. We are here to stop you from going any further down this road you're on. You told me once that true justice is compassion walking hand in hand with righteousness. I don't know if you can see it, but there isn't compassion in this cause anymore. Maybe there never was. I may not be able to convince you today, but I think someday when you look back on all this, you'll want someone to have stopped you. That's why we brought a chicken robot."

GS: Paine accepts Tidus's Hastega for 0 hit points!
GS: Quick applied to Paine!
GS: Riposte applied to Tidus!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    Bevelle had called out for help.

    With all that had happened, of course the three of them had been mixed on how to approach the request. Rebecca had felt -- sensibly -- that it would be best to refrain, given their previous encounters with Yevon's faithful.
    Given, too, the fact that they had held Avril under lock and key and then sent her into a maze of death to prove her innocence.

    Dean had been in opposition, demonstrating his typical optimism and good faith.

    Avril, meanwhile, had felt...

    The Golems had been involved. They were using Veruni technology.
    Of course she must go.

    And she had made a request for the two of them: hold the line. Stand ready in the event the rest of them failed.
    She promised that if it went poorly she would escape.

    She never breaks her promises.

    Standing in Skadi with the others, she can see them coming. "There are three of them," she murmurs, gaze hooded. "Kaguya... how many have you created?"

    Grasping the enormous blade attached along the back of her Gear, she draws free from where it's held with the sound of steel-on-steel. It's nearly more blunt object than bladed weapon: the edge is more of a suggestion than anything that could really 'cut'. But at this scale, does it matter?

    "Kaguya!" This is said to the world at large, echoing from the Gear's externals. "You must stop this at once."

    It's not so much a request as it is a statement: if Kaguya does not stop, then Avril will make her stop--

    Even if she must cut through the other Golems to reach her first. Hashmal, the leonine one, is nearest. Gripping the blade and leveling it before herself as a shield, Avril, within the Skadi, eyes that Golem.

    "You shall not pass," she promises Leo.

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Iris Guard!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur assumes the Stoic stance!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
GS: Avril Vent Fleur accepts Avril Vent Fleur's Iris Guard for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield applied to Avril Vent Fleur!
GS: Cover applied to Avril Vent Fleur!
<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

In his heart, Day doesn't expect the encroaching Drifters to actually take his words seriously. But not saying them is out of the question. It's the honourable and decent thing to do, and his service to Althena is predicated on honour and decency.

If only he felt like he was entirely getting there.

Exhaling through his nose, the young knight - without his armour, settling for a tunic over a grey pilot suit - begins to select targets. The trio of Gears barreling forward make for simple choices - Vierge and Weltall at least pop up in Evalach's computer instantly. The blue-shouldered machine with them is... somewhat less recognized, but Day flags it anyway.

Layna has the distinction of actually shouting back at him. With a slow sigh, Day lowers his eyelids, covering his comm pickup with a palm and glancing back at Vesna with a long-suffering expression. "Why does it always have to be sass?" he murmurs.

Vesna folds her arms across her chest and bows her head. "Sass is a fine art passed down through the aeons, Sir Muirwall," she answers with faux piety.

"I wish it had stopped somewhere around Dragonmaster Buckaroo," he grunts before looking back just as Fei speaks up.

...With more warmth than he expected. Day blinks twice, then uncovers his comm pickup. "This is the order I've been given, and I'm not in a position to countermand the wishes of my Goddess or my General. Our intention is not to harm the innocents who live here. A picnic would be pleasant. Unfortunately...."

Unfortunately, Layna Manydays clearly wants to bring it. Day grimaces, then swings Evalach's thruster sword into a striking position.

"...I can't allow the people of Bevelle to be returned to the tyranny of their old masters!" Day fires back with more conviction as he lights up Evalach's drives. Thruster flames bloom from the machine's backpack and from outlets along its side binders as it goes barreling forward.

Before it reaches close range, though, hatches on the sides of those big binders pop open with a startling hiss.

Missiles bloom from banks of launchers, each one small, but coming in numbers. The micromissile clouds bloom outwards before converging to saturate Billy and Fei's positions with explosions - most of the focus is on Billy, with the shots fired around Fei seeming mostly intended to keep him at a distance rather than outright destroy. Through the explosive flame, Day's Gear charges like an oncoming locomotive.

"Evalach is not a toy!" Day barks for Layna's edification as he swings the Gear's massive sword at her, then wheels to slash towards Vierge, trying to slam through Elly's and Layna's machines hard and early. It's a big sword - big enough that it's got its own engines for the sake of a Gear being able to actually swing it.

GS: Day Muirwall has attacked Layna Manydays with Boosted Blade!
GS: Day Muirwall has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Day Muirwall has attacked Elhaym van Houten with Boosted Blade!
GS: Day Muirwall has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Day Muirwall has attacked Billy Lee Black with Explosive Strike!
GS: Day Muirwall has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Day Muirwall has attacked Fei Fong Wong with Scatter Missile Assault!
GS: Day Muirwall has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Day Muirwall has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Elhaym van Houten fully evades Day Muirwall's Boosted Blade for 0 hit points!
GS: Elhaym van Houten activates Evade bonus!
GS: Layna Manydays critically guards Day Muirwall's Boosted Blade for 62 hit points!
GS: Layna Manydays activates Guard bonus!
GS: Billy Lee Black takes a solid hit from Day Muirwall's Explosive Strike for 284 hit points!
GS: Fei Fong Wong guards a hit from Day Muirwall's Scatter Missile Assault for 120 hit points!
GS: Disrupt applied to Fei Fong Wong!
GS: Fei Fong Wong activates Sufferer!
<Pose Tracker> Paine has posed.

More threats have brought Yuna more Guardians, like more lights bring more shadows. Paine, the most recent, follows Yuna as closely as the comparison would suggest. Her travelling cloak is well-worn, her residing cozily on her hip. Standing in a giant footprint, she raises her red eyes to follow where Yuna is pointing.

"Mm," she hums a professional sort of dismay. She unslings her machina rifle as Yuna explains--well, mentions--her connection to the pilot.

"I was thinking less in terms of reach," she admits to Yuna as she shoves her rifle bolt with a click. "More in terms of range."

Placing the weapon to her shoulder, Paine nods tightly at Tidus. "I'll cover you. Don't fight the bottom of the foot," she advises drily.

With a buck and a crack, the rifle fires. Paine fires steady, spaced-out shots, aiming up near the top of the giant to try and garner attention from a distance.

GS: Paine has attacked Kaguya with Covering Fire!
GS: Paine has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Paine has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya guards a hit from Paine's Covering Fire for 16 hit points!
GS: Weaken applied to Kaguya!
GS: Cover applied to Paine!
GS: Kaguya activates Sufferer!
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

"...?" Kaguya looks for a moment at the Cuccobuster, through her system's displays. She tilts her head at it. She observes other, more conventional Gears. she decides that those aren't her problem.

...Then she hears Ethius's voice. Her eyes narrow immediately, even before she hears what he actually says--even before she notices the streak of light advancing on her position. There is no time to move to dodge; she stimply has to take those blasts on the armor, and little bits of sculpted metal buckle as the armor does its job. It does indeed find purchase a few times, a powerful blast.

...But it's the words that more immediately get her attention, despite the alarms going off about a hit. "You--"

'...Are not primitive.'

The strangest part is the emotion in it. But Kaguya recognizes it nevertheless, and feels a spark of anger as she does. He says that it ends here. But... "Does it now?" Kaguya announces back. She wants to argue it, but part of her doesn't--part of her just wants to direct the machine straight at him now, and crush his Gear until it's a mass of parts. "And who are you to say as much? Go back to your caravan, Ethius. I don't--" Pause. "Nah, I'd be lying if I said I don't want to hurt you. But still."

...But that girl familiar to Yuna is in there, somewhere. She does not immediately spot Yuna and her Guardians, focused as she is now upon her new objective. Can they reach her? Time will have to tell. But Yuna gets Kaguya's attention as she casts her spell, and the giant Golem's displays light up their display of nearby magical discharge. She interprets the data, recognizes--

Sees the camera, and sees Yuna there. Her jaw sets. Her, and Ethius both here...

No, not just her. Of course some of her Guardians are along. Kaguya notices Tidus giving them extra speed with his own magic, and frowns--one of the vulnerabilities of the Golem's design is that it is slow, compared to many other machines, designed to fight one gigantic foe and not many smaller. If they can find a way past its defenses...

And they might manage it. Paine successfully garners attention with her shots, all right. They do relatively little damage relative to the machine's extraordinary armor, but her aim at various subsystems means Kaguya has to pay attention in case she gets something more delicate, instead of go all-out on offense. "Tch," Kaguya announces to herself.

Meanwhile, does Kaguya hear Avril's quiet question? She couldn't, obviously. But she sees that particular Gear, and perhaps she imagines it asked. She doesn't answer it regardless--instead, she looks to Avril as she works her Golem's defenses.

"...No can do, Avril." This is announced to the world at large, too. But Avril is far off, and the Golem's weapon systems train on Kaguya's targets.

First, the great Golem leaaans forward and belches forth a torrent of gunfire for Ethius's Gear, out to overwhelm him with sheer size to start with, terrible bullets rocketing forth from cannons within the mouth. But not yet the main gun. Not that far off. As it does, Kaguya readies a switch along the side of her cockpit marked with warning signs.

She can't ignore the threat a Summoner and her Guardians pose, not when their stated goal is to defeat something even larger than the Golem, with Paine actively firing. With a hiss, a cloud of noxious gases suddenly vents from the ankle of the great Golem, settling down towards Yuna, Tidus, and Paine all at once. Had Yuna not cast her spell, it would be very poisonous. As it is it merely blocks visibility a bit.

"Summoner Yuna," Kaguya announces direly over the speakers. "And Guardians. Consider that your warning shot. You don't want to tangle with this machine."

GS: Kaguya has attacked Yuna with Toxic Vent!
GS: Kaguya has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Tidus with Toxic Vent!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Paine with Toxic Vent!
GS: Kaguya has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Ogre's Gluttony!
GS: Kaguya has completed her action.
GS: Gamble: Very High! Ethius Hesiod takes a solid hit from Kaguya's Ogre's Gluttony for 352 hit points!
GS: Mighty applied to Kaguya!
GS: Tidus fully evades Kaguya's Toxic Vent for 0 hit points!
GS: Riposte applied to Kaguya!
GS: Tidus activates Evade bonus!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    Baralai's summons have been answered. Leo watches as the advanced Veruni sensors identify each approaching target in turn, rapidly analyzing them and matching them against known threats. One of them in particular stands out for how bizarre it is--the White Knight spends a good thirty seconds staring at the Cuccobuster as it rolls towards him.

    It belches flame. In an instant, Hashmal draws its blade--or the hilt of one, at least. Magic-amplifiers crackle to life within that hilt. Crystal-veined stone forms out of nothing, shaping itself into a single-edged, two-handed blade on the anvil of Leo's will. Hashmal plants a foot on the ground. Its leonine head turns to consider Skadi, and its pilot.

    "Your courage is noted, pilot," Leo says, his voice taut. "And--"


    The White Knight trails off in mid-sentence, leaving the radio open as shock and anger fill him. His jaw tightens as Ivan speaks. He wants to tell him about what happened on the open seas--about the darkness sealed within the sealing rods, and the treachery within the Church. He can't. No one else can know.

    "Ivan," Leo gets out. He's turned his own words against him. "...Would that I could."

    That's a lie, hisses the voice of doubt in the back of his head. You always have a choice. You always have a choice.

    "Do what you must."

    Light pulses through the crystalline matrix of the Golem's blade. It steps forwards, sweeping the weapon down at Skadi in a vicious blow--trying to break through the Ice Queen's guard in a single, pulverizing strike. Shards of volcanic glass erupt from the edge on impact, and are gone just as quickly.

    "TREMOR FANG!" Leo bellows. Hashmal plants a foot on the ground with thunderous force, and sweeps its blade through the air. An arc of golden energy erupts from the weapon, looking at first like a conventional Demon Fang--but the earth beneath it shakes and buckles, pelting the Cuccobuster with stone and dirt as well as raw power. The goal, more or less, is to bring the Cuccobuster's considerable momentum to a halt. Hashmal pirouettes into a second strike, dazzling light pulsing out from its sword as it lays into the Cuccobuster more directly. The light forms a shimmering field around the Golem, even as it tries to lay the Cuccobuster's hull open.

    "(Sir Muirwall, Lady Kaguya,)" Leo transmits, his voice still tight. "(I have your backs as well. Preparing the Pillars for deployment.)"

GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Talia with Luminous Blade!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Jagged Edge!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 1 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Ivan with Tremor Fang!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 2 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: Yuna takes a solid hit from Kaguya's Toxic Vent for 71 hit points!
GS: Riposte applied to Kaguya!
GS: Paine takes a glancing hit from Kaguya's Toxic Vent for 32 hit points!
GS: Jam and Poison applied to Paine!
GS: Riposte applied to Kaguya!
GS: Paine activates Sufferer!
GS: Ivan takes a solid hit from White Knight Leo's Tremor Fang for 304 hit points!
GS: Talia critically guards White Knight Leo's Luminous Blade for 59 hit points!
GS: Cover applied to White Knight Leo!
GS: Talia activates Guard bonus!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Jagged Edge for 196 hit points!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur activates Power Burst!
<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

"It is that button, there!" Talia says, pointing a finger down at the console. She motions to a switch, in fact; she doesn't really know the differences between them. "Flip it that way, no?"

Ivan finds the way.

She spots Skadi, soaring forward. Her eyes widen a little; she recognizes the voice of the pilot inside. "Avril!" she calls out. "It is me, Talia--and my brother, Ivan, is in here too! I know it has been awhile, but... let's see what we can do, no?"

She falls quiet, after Leo speaks. Her eyes widen, for a moment. She knows that sort of tone; they sound like words she once said before. She feels the first impact -- the energy blast rolling straight through it, slowing the rolling Gear down. Then, the blade comes around for it.

"Try this!" Talia tells her brother, and she presses a button. The huge, broad arms of the Cuccobuster lift up -- cross -- and then catch the blade, with a tremendous shower of sparks as the Gear holds the Golem's weapon away. Then, she leans over her brother again.

She speaks into the communicator, at the same time as she pushes the throttle forward. "Sir Leo!" she says. "I know you don't know me... but I said things like that before! 'Do what you must!' 'I don't have a choice!'"

She grits her teeth -- and then the Cuccobuster rolls forward, and slams at Hashmal, trying to knock it backward. In doing so, it, too, bounces backward and gets a brief amount of air. "You have to understand that you do! We always have a choice... no matter what we tell ourselves! Or what other people tell us!"

GS: Talia has attacked White Knight Leo with Cucco Bounce!
GS: Talia has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Talia has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Renmazuo appears on the scene, and it catches Layna's eyes almost immediately. Quickly, she shuts off communications for a brief moment.

"Is... that a cape? Damn, that's cool. I never thought about that. I wonder if the Corsair could-" Layna starts, only for Dahlia to interrupt her with a sigh.

"Layna, please focus. I'm opening up communications with the others." Dahlia says, pressing a few buttons on the dashboard. Layna shrugs, and then clear her throat.

"Ahoy there! This is the VALS-4 Corsair. Don't worry, I'm on your side." Layna broadcasts - to Fei's Weltall, Elly's Vierge, and Billy's Renmazuo, in particular. The former two might recognize her voice. And then, she switches back to general communications as Day responds.

"You know, I get that. You're not in any position to say 'no', aye? Can't rightly blame you for that, lad." Layna says. "Me, I'm not too fond of their old masters, either. Those guys can all go die - again, for some of 'em - for all I care. But..."

She shrugs.

"...But I dunno that Althena's really what's best for them, either. That's just trading one kind of tyranny for another." She concludes.

The Evalach begins its attack, then, slashing toward the Corsair and Vierge with a massive sword. In response the Corsair draws the anchor from its back, holding it in a defensive stance to catch the blow. The sheer power of the attack leaves a metal scar in the anchor sends the Corsair skidding backward a good distance, churning up earth, rock, and mud.

"...That weapon of yours is pretty clever. I like it." Layna comments with a grin. If that had struck cleanly, it would have been pretty serious. "Guess I know what to look out for."

With that, the Corsair rushes toward the Evalach. It looks to be going for a swing of that anchor... but that turns out to be a feint, the Gear's free hand going for a quick strike on the Evalach's sword arm, looking to harm its combat abilities.

GS: Layna Manydays has attacked Day Muirwall with Pillaging!
GS: Layna Manydays has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Day Muirwall guards a hit from Layna Manydays's Pillaging for 216 hit points!
GS: Cripple applied to Day Muirwall!
<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

"I think the main difference here, Brother Black, is that we don't need to defeat them in the same way we'd defeat a giant Wels or something like that," Elly extemporizes, her eyes going momentarily towards Fei - perhaps sensing his strain, the difficulty with this.

This isn't easy. She shouldn't have asked him, Elly thinks. Or even if it doesn't fulfill much of a purpose, just asked him to come along with her... or maybe they shouldn't have taken this mission at all? But leaving aside clearing out most of the frame repair deficit and letting her put money into the kitty for Emeralda's possible future studies or professional -


Vierge suddenly leaps backwards with unwonted agility and a brief flare of thin blue flames towards its back, Elly crying out, "He's fast! Be careful of his speed--!" Which, she supposes even as Vierge comes into a momentarily stable crouch, is kind of obvious, but what is she going to do here...! She should have worked out calls, argh. Flop sweat mingles with the usual sense of anxiety. Especially as the large machine is still moving...!!

"You can't just expect people to - to say thank you for bringing them these battles...!" Elly answers Day, swinging her Gear's Rod round in a two handed strike aimed in a pair of crossed strikes, aiming for the flank of the machine!

("Oh, I didn't know you had a gear, ma'am. I hope it's working well -")

GS: Elhaym van Houten has attacked Day Muirwall with Hard Smash!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has completed her action.
GS: Day Muirwall guards a hit from Elhaym van Houten's Hard Smash for 100 hit points!
GS: Break applied to Day Muirwall!
GS: CRITICAL! White Knight Leo guards a hit from Talia's Cucco Bounce for 218 hit points!
GS: White Knight Leo activates Power Burst!
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    The Golem before Ethius now... this behemoth, and its sibling machines, all have had the benefit of one of the greater modern minds of the day give them anything and everything they needed to carry out catastrophic conquering crusades.
     Ethius does not have this advantage, having just plucked his machine from the depths of a well-explored ruin. To date, he has refused to even have the cockpit adjusted to better reflect his handedness, as if the desire to preserve as much of this Gear in its original form as possible were paramount. This works against him. For the advantage in distance he has, Kaguya has several more.
     Her firepower, even at its most basic, is vastly superior. Bullets rip through the Aiguille explosively, and further damage to the chassis is incurred as Ethius engages its phantom dash-jets to make a hard veer towards his right. Whiplash follows as it navigates a sudden change in altitude.
     His tone does not change an iota.
     "I will not back down." He has seen the damage read-outs. "Not when your kind are yet poised to turn these people into slave labor." His grip tightens on a lever in reach of his right hand. "...Or whatever you surmise... would be 'good for more' than slave labor."
     Like he read those words out of a book, somewhere, written by someone else as he catches sight of the actual 'Summoner Yuna' as Kaguya speaks the name. His eyes widen as he sees the toxic gasses flit towards her party - one of them an esepcially brave ally who has decided to try and take her shot at it on foot.
     What must his expression be like under that face mask he keeps wearing? No one can see him take it off if he were of the mind.
     "With the same callousness in which you vaporized the natives of Luca at the docks," he has no choice but to close in with Aiguille - out of its preferred range, "you would subject these people now to that."
     The rifle-staff is still in functional shape, he can still get a connected energy line through them even though one bullet just tore through the side of one such segment. He hoists it again as he allows energy to build. (Some sparks fire out where it has a boo-boo. This is maybe a sign he should not.)
     "I do not endeavor to hurt you in turn," Ethius says, which is at odds with-- "I endeavor to ensure these people have the right to live their lives as they see fit,"
     He discharges the energy blast, far more concentrated, sending it screaming towards the enormous Golem, "no matter their failings and mistakes to themselves and the shores beyond theirs."
     As if he were, in some form, one of the only ones standing in the way of that - even as others around him voice similar desires, if not quite... to as fine a point as the one Ethius seems to be trying to make.
     But why does he care.

GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Kaguya with Shoot!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Billy Lee Black has posed.

Renmazuo disappears in a cloud of debris and fire! Oh no!

But the blue and yellow Gear bursts out of the flames soon enough, its bright cape whipping in the breeze as its flight unit pushes hard. Dinged up, maybe, but Billy has full control still. Considering the wrist-mounted revolver cylinders, one might expect Renmazuo to be a ranged-type Gear, but its heading is straight for Evalach!

"Ah yes. Merely knock some fear into them," Billy affirms to Elly. "I believe I understand."

And then he's zeroing in. "I read you, Corsair," Billy says, despite the tension in his back. He knows that much of combat protocol, at least. "I welcome your assistance."

Still getting closer, air contrailing off the mighty machine, its pointed head forward as an aerodynamic spike. It finally slams into the ground near Evalach, and immediately spins itself back up in the kind of acrobatics a Gear isn't normally known for, wheeling out a spin kick into the side of the larger machine. But that is not the full assault, no!

"These people have begged for help repelling you. This is all I require," Billy declares, and then pulls an honest to God Gear-sized magnum handgun ARM out of a slot on Renmazuo's thigh and fires twice at center-mass.

GS: Billy Lee Black has attacked Day Muirwall with Hard Snap!
GS: Billy Lee Black has completed his action.
GS: Day Muirwall critically guards Billy Lee Black's Hard Snap for 45 hit points!
GS: Mighty applied to Billy Lee Black!
GS: Day Muirwall activates Guard bonus!
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

"Oh--" Fei says, looking back to Elly. "He says they're not going to do anything bad. So we probably can just let it go right?" He thinks it over. "Then again... I don't know if we can say that the Guard isn't super tyrannical either since they ban singing and put bounties on your head if they dislike you and probably are employing secret shadow children assassins or at least kind of tolerating them..." At this point he has no reason to just presume the most horrible possible things just from observing both sides over this war. It's honestly been really depressing him. On the plus side, maybe Solaris will just not care about him or Elly anymore now that they helped save Loren. That would be nice he thinks, if unlikely. It seems more likely they'll keep trying to capture or kill him and forget they helped them! Ugh! Why does he keep helping people! What is this curse that Bart Fatima put on him???

But Day opens fires! He launches MISSILES AT BILLY. Missiles can kill people! So can gears! He also gets shot at by bullets but Weltall crouches down so that the worst of it hits his outer plating. HE IS SWINGING A SWORD AT LAYNA! Layna, innocent pirate Layna who wouldn't hurt a fly so long as she could drink it under the table...!

And Elly! Who is somehow even better than someone who woulddn't hutr a fly!

Fei lets out a heavy sigh, rubs at his face. "You shouldn't have done that."

He charges forward, throwing several quicck palm thrusts for Day's gear!

"You're making me angry...! And you probably wouldn't like me very much when I am sufficiently furious...!"

He pauses before adding, "But really, like, are you sure we can't just skip this fight? We could do Rock Paper Scissors for it instead."

Man Billy is so cool, he thinks, for needing nothing but their fear to help them. He wishes he was cool like Billy but he's not so he's going to offer RPS while hitting the giant robot with his fist.

GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked Day Muirwall with Hazan!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
GS: Day Muirwall takes a solid hit from Fei Fong Wong's Hazan for 314 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Day Muirwall gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Kaguya takes a glancing hit from Ethius Hesiod's Shoot for 161 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Kaguya gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Kaguya activates Sufferer!
<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

As giant robots start to come in on the side of the -- not angels, but whatever the side is that comprises 'strong objections to the corruption of Yevon but nevertheless supports the freedom of Spira's people from occupation' -- Yuna pauses.

It's an unwise thing to do; poison gas gushes around her, courtesy of Kaguya's machinations (her inner Rikku, in that moment, says 'heh-heh, get it?', but does not quite break through). But her momentary stillness is not voluntary. Luca... Luca wasn't like this.

At Luca, there were giant robots, and there was a desperate, last-ditch line of defenders on foot.

She's never seen them fight EACH OTHER.

And Spira hasn't seen such a fight in a thousand years.

It is... horrible. The scale of it. The scope. Such casual, widespread destruction. Easy to read, Yuna's face has blanched with both shock and awe and most of all a kind of awful recognition of what she's witnessing: that which Spira was 'spared' for all this time.

If you asked her right now about the Yevonite prohibition on war machina, she might not sound like such a heretic.

But she isn't alone. Tidus' magic embraces her, and so do Paine's words, whether her dark Guardian meant them to or not -- pragmatism is a steadying thing to hear, at a moment where she feels like she stands on a vast precipice. Paine might hear, in response, the slightest, vaguest, floatiest little giggle. It isn't a happy sound, except for how she's happy the other woman is here with them.

And Kaguya addresses them directly, of course.

Yuna swallows, and a metallic taste she recognizes from shortly before she was 'released' to the Via Purifico fades from her mouth. As she composes herself, Ethius says many words, lays down other stakes -- ones she barely understands. His, she recognizes, is a battle against the existence of machines like this, and a battle for a world that doesn't need them.

Her battle, in other words.

'Get it?' Rikku's jibe rings in her ears.

Her eyes widen.

The Al Bhed might not approve of her antipathy for machina like these... but she's the one who taught her the basics of taking them apart. And she even remembers something of how Rikku did it last time.

In a singularly foolhardy moment, allowed only by the quickness of her Hasted gestures, Yuna CLIMBS ONTO THE TOP OF THE FOOT and reaches one arm -- and then both arms -- into the vent that discharged all that poison gas.

Her fingers sort through wires blindly, not for any particular one, just for as many as possible; hers is a more basic engineering. But, perhaps, not so much less effective, as regards demolition.


Yuna heaves at the wiring with all her small strength, hoping her allies spot the weak point she's creating. But she doesn't say so, because there's someone she's hoping DOESN'T notice, at least not until it's too late.

"I don't want to," she agrees, difficult to see in the moment unless Kaguya has a camera staring at her own ankle. "I have to. Your poisons belong nowhere near the people of Bevelle."

GS: Yuna spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Yuna has attacked Kaguya with Steal!
GS: Yuna has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya guards a hit from Yuna's Steal for 42 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Kaguya gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Jam applied to Kaguya!
GS: Hyper and Quick applied to Yuna!
GS: Kaguya activates Sufferer!
<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

"Thank you, Sir Leo," Day answers as Vess is kind enough to switch briefly to the Guard's internal frequency. It feels a little weird that Leo's the one having their back. Day, after all, is the mere minion here.

When Layna starts to move, Day narrows his eyes irritably and angles one of his shield binders forward defensively, then the other to try and account for Elly. Feinting's all well and good, but the big Gear's got a lot of real estate to cover itself off defensively, the big anchor slamming into one of the binders that protect its arm and flank. Armour plating buckles dangerously under the impact, and Day scowls before pivoting towards Elly, letting the other binder soak up the worst of the rod smash. More armour rattles against the machine's frame, but he pivots to one side with a huff, switching his comm line back on. "Nobody is ever thankful for war," he grunts. "All we can do is try to improve their lives after it's over. That's what I care about!"

Billy cares about something else. Namely, busting a cap at him. Day blinks a couple of times. "Is that a--"

He remembers at the last second that bullets hurt. With a decidedly high-pitched squeak, Day brings both shield binders around. Billy's bullet pings into one of them, denting the armour before ricocheting away.

When Fei comes at him, Day sets his jaw slightly. "You think you'd like me any angrier?" he snaps shortly, attempting to evade this one by jetting to one side.

It doesn't quite work out that way; Evalach's fast in straight lines but far less so in lateral mobility, and Fei manages to slam a fist solidly into the big white Gear's lower torso. Jolted in his seat, Day grunts and checks his damage control readings - and he scowls at the sight of the screen flickering. A glance to his radar confirms that Fei jarred something that connects to the computer.

"Trust me, I would love to call this off, but you're asking me to literally defy my Goddess in front of my leader and mentor, and I'm not in the business of apostasy. All I know is you're barreling into a situation you barely understand. We can call this off if you withdraw!" It's Day's turn to sass, withdrawing several metres with a burst of thrusters, but the talk and the stepback are mostly a cover for him to reboot Evalach's sensors. His radar monitor briefly goes blank, then winks back to life with an unsteady flicker before re-stabilizing, free of static and junk readings. He relaxes ever so slightly.

Centring Elly in his targeting sensors, Day unloads with another volley of micromissiles even as he begins to bank back into the fray. The blasts are aimed at keeping her at arm's length as he tries to plot a straight line between the other three machines. "Until that time, I have a duty to carry out," he says tersely, wishing he felt those words with greater conviction. Evalach shifts its grip on its boosted blade, thrusters rippling along one edge as the burly Gear finds the angle Day's looking for.

And it charges. Day bears straight at Fei, then Layna, then Billy, lining them up for a single powerhouse rush.

"HOOOOOOOOOOAHT!" As soon as he's in range, he swings - with a massive blow, he attempts to cleave through each of the three, trying to leave a trail of debris or at least damaged Gears behind him!

GS: Day Muirwall has attacked Day Muirwall with Clear Sensor Cache!
GS: Day Muirwall accepts Day Muirwall's Clear Sensor Cache for 0 hit points!
GS: Restore! Break and Cripple removed!
GS: Lock State applied to Day Muirwall!
GS: Day Muirwall has attacked Elhaym van Houten with Explosive Strike!
GS: Day Muirwall has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Day Muirwall has activated a Boss Action!
GS: Day Muirwall has attacked Fei Fong Wong with Lion's Charge!
GS: Day Muirwall has attacked Layna Manydays with Lion's Charge!
GS: Day Muirwall has attacked Billy Lee Black with Lion's Charge!
GS: Day Muirwall has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Day Muirwall has completed his action.
GS: Layna Manydays takes a solid hit from Day Muirwall's Lion's Charge for 320 hit points!
GS: Disease applied to Layna Manydays!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.


    What meets Kaguya's declaration is at first silence.

    "...So be it, Kaguya. I shall stop you here."

    It's the call of another, familiar voice that draws her attention thereafter.

    "Talia? Is that you?"

    In the rush to assemble, it was hardly as if they had the opportunity to determine who their various allies would be for this fight to defend Bevelle. Some she had seen before she had climbed aboard her Gear. Others, she recognized from their own machines. But as for the rest--

    "So Ivan is with you? Very well, let us fight to defend Bevelle together! I cannot permit Golems to be put to such ends--"

    Leo speaks. Avril recognizes that voice.

    "You are... White Knight Leo, are you not? I am Avril Vent Fleur," resounds the voice from the Skadi. But for the grey-purple paint and the few minor modifications, it would be but for the blade a standard-issue Aveh Gear.
    The blade on the other hand is strictly Kislevan.

    It's tested as Leo presses the attack, swinging for her shoulder-to-hip guarding posture with a flickering swipe from the obsidian-edged blade.


    The impact is a fierce one, shunting her back a few hundred feet as physics demands its due. A score decorates the blade, testament to Hashmal's glass-edged sword, but Gambanteinn holds. Rising from her guard as Leo focuses his attentions elsewhere on the field, Avril urges Skadi back a step and shifts her grip on the blade's hilt.

    "What is your aim here, White Knight Leo?" she asks, leveling the blade at Hashmal, holding it but for this moment at hip height.

    She'd done what she could when repairing Skadi. Shalune had done the rest. But even if it has the frame of a standard Aveh Gear...

    The Skadi is quicker than it might seem, even wielding that blade. The Gear lunges forward, bearing the blade like a battering ram. It may be several tons of metal.

    But it still does have an edge, which she swings for Leo as her Gear closes upon his Golem.

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked White Knight Leo with Shearing Blossom!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
GS: Elhaym van Houten takes a solid hit from Day Muirwall's Explosive Strike for 310 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Tidus has posed.

    "Hey, how dumb do you think I am?" Tidus shoots back at Paine, though his wry tone and smile says he's taking it good-naturedly. Still, he trusts her to have his back just as she said and starts sprinting at frankly absurd Hastega-improved speeds. It's a speed so ridiculous that when Kaguya vents those poisonous gases from her Golem's ankle, between Yuna's NulTox and his foot speed, he simply runs through it too fast for it to have any effect. Honestly, a total stroke of luck--but hey, he'll take it.
    Yuna, behind him, isn't quite so reactive despite having been sped up too, and for a moment, Tidus slows as he shoots a look over his shoulder at her. "Yuna!" he calls. "You okay?!" She sure doesn't *look* okay, and frankly, he doesn't blame her; even without a Yevon upbringing, all these giant machina fighting each other are... intimidating, to say the least. To her... it must seem like hell on earth.
    Still, as much as he can't help but worry for Yuna's safety, he trusts his fellow Guardian, however much of a newbie Paine is (hey, he was in her shoes too once) to have *her* back, too. When Yuna releases her nerves in the form of a giggle, Tidus gives her a smile, then joins her in motion towards the mechanical behemoth.
    Leo makes his announcements, and Tidus can hear the tightness and misery in his voice. It's a little comforting, sort of, to know that he's at least torn about everything. Kaguya meanwhile broadcasts that they don't want to tangle with this machine of hers. He grimaces. "You know, I really don't," he agrees. "Too bad you're making us have to!"
    Summoning a smoky, shadowy power into his blade, Tidus parkours up the side of the Golem's foot along with Yuna. When she uses the techniques Rikku taught her to expose several bunches of important-looking wires, Tidus swings his blade *down* to sever them. You'll give someone a real hard time walking around if you cut their hamstring, so maybe this humanoid-looking robot works the same way?

GS: Tidus has attacked Kaguya with Delay Buster!
GS: Tidus has completed his action.
GS: Fei Fong Wong takes a solid hit from Day Muirwall's Lion's Charge for 308 hit points!
GS: Disease applied to Fei Fong Wong!
GS: Fei Fong Wong activates Sufferer!
GS: Kaguya guards a hit from Tidus's Delay Buster for 86 hit points!
GS: Blind applied to Kaguya!
GS: Kaguya activates Sufferer!
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"Hello, Avril!" Ivan chimes in after Talia's message, as if to back Talia up in her assertion that he is there too. Now is not at all the time or the place to be dwelling on it, but there's something rather freeing about talking to people in Gears when you can't see their faces... Do people ever socialize in robots? (Probably not, Ivan).

Ivan is a little taken aback by Leo's response -- is it wishful thinking, or does he sound like he would like to be stopped?

But... wishing for it and letting it happen may be two entirely different things, and the daunting reality sets in that they are facing down the White Knight Leo in combat.

Hashmal's mighty step crashes down into the earth, sending up a blast of energy and stone.

Ivan's initial indecision -- steer away?? Bounce?! -- costs them a few moments that sees the Cuccobuster caught in the blast.

Its frame shakes around them as it takes a beating -- but fortunately, Talia's swift action intercepts the blade before it can cut into their Gear.

"Wow, that was great!" he exclaims, and for the purposes of those on the battlefield, the Gear may appear to be complimenting itself.

Talia speaks to Leo, saying that she heard herself in his words. So it wasn't just Ivan's imagination then...?

"Even if you can't say no to this mission and keep your status... you could always run away," he adds. "It's not as bad to be an outlaw as you'd think. You might even be able to be a better hero that way than you are now. You can do whatever feels right -- without politics or higher authorities to force you in their own directions!"

How could someone as famous and distinctive as Leo possibly become an anonymous outlaw? Well, that's not a problem that occurs to Ivan in the heat of the moment.

Talia bounces the Cuccobuster off of Hashmal, and as the chicken soars backward, Ivan activates some thrusters to give it a sudden, intense boost of speed. The result is that it bounces chaotically off of a nearby boulder before springing against a hillside and finally ponging chaotically back at Hashmal from a new angle.

GS: Ivan has attacked White Knight Leo with Cucco Pinball!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: White Knight Leo takes a glancing hit from Ivan's Cucco Pinball for 112 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! White Knight Leo gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Mighty applied to Ivan!
GS: White Knight Leo activates Power Burst!
GS: White Knight Leo takes a solid hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Shearing Blossom for 246 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! White Knight Leo gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo activates Power Burst!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    Despite, quite frankly, looking kind of ridiculous, the Cuccobuster is a weapon of war. Its pilots--one of them, at least--remind Leo of this fact in short order. The White Knight's eyes widen in surprise as hands clap tight against his blade, locking it between the Cuccobuster's palms. This is not a good place for a swordsman to be, and Leo knows it. Hashmal digs in its heels, and pushes. Steel groans as the Golem puts its weight into the strike, but the valiant, round defender does not yield.

    A second voice speaks from within that oddly-spherical Gear. Ivan's sister? Leo's eyes narrow, as he thinks back to their conversations--Ivan mentioned her, mentioned they were twins. Leo had told him about Mauri, and how he'd always taken care of her. "I understand," Leo says.

    No you don't, hisses the voice of doubt.

    "But there are forces at play you scarce understand. The--"


    That is the sound of the Cuccobuster rocketing forward and bouncing off Hashmal's chestplate like the world's largest pachinko ball. The Golem takes a few, staggering steps backwards, half its chest armor turned concave from the colossal impact. Bits of ornamental trim fall to the ground. Leo sees flame ignite behind the Cuccobuster, realizes Ivan's going to ram him again if he does nothing. Hashmal steps to the side, pivoting awkwardly as it attempts to mimic one of Leo's smooth, fluid dodges. The Cuccobuster glances off its side, and even that is enough to make the Golem wobble dangerously.

    'What is your aim here, White Knight Leo?'

    Skadi comes at him while he's still focused on the Cuccobuster. That blade drives into Hashmal's side, stabbing through foot-thick armor plating. The impact jolts Leo in his seat, and he twists the machine off Gambanbateinn before Avril can bury it deeper. Stone and steel come with it--it's carved a deep wound into the Gear's torso.

    "ENOUGH!" Leo shouts. There is pain in his voice, despite his attempts to hide it. "BEHOLD! THE PILLARS OF THE GODDESS!"

    Hashmal grips its blade with both hands, raises it up, and drives it into the earth. Althenan sorcerous sigils spiral outwards, tracing an enormous runic diagram across part of the battlefield. Great rifts in the earth begin to spiral outward, between the lines of the glyph--but they follow a pattern, and most of the 'safe spots' seem close to Hashmal itself.

    "HAAAAH--!" Leo roars. He throws his head back, losing himself for a moment in the roar of the Golem's sorcerous amplifiers. This kind of power...!

    Pillars of stone erupt from the rifts, forming a maze of sorts--a sacred Althenan symbol, drawn on the landscape itself. Of course, any machine caught by them when they appear could be easily crushed!

    Hashmal readies its blade. It spins, once, the blade tracing out a brilliant, gleaming line through the pillars it just summoned. As one, cuts appear in them, and they fall like dominoes. They can easily smash any Gear caught beneath them.

_____________________________| QUICK TIME EVENT!!!|_____________________________
_                     Overdrive - The Pillars of the Goddess                   _
_                                                                              _
_                                                                              _
_  Ivan, Talia, and Avril Vent Fleur:                                          _
_  +qte/react <guard/evade/charge>/<guard/evade/charge>/<guard/evade/charge>   _
GS: Day Muirwall has adjusted their boss level for 3 opponents!
QTE!!! Challenge Result: Full Success! Talia takes 0 damage and gains 15 FP!
QTE!!! Challenge Result: Moderate Success! Ivan takes 72 damage and gains 30 FP!
QTE!!! Challenge Result: Full Success! Avril Vent Fleur takes 0 damage and gains 15 FP!
<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

Maybe it's the distress from Fei, maybe it's something in what Day is saying, maybe it is just finally shaking off the dust of piloting Vierge (whose interface is familiar and comfortable), but Elly's voice is slightly - firmer, if not yet hardened, when she replies to him.

"... Why is the Goddess telling you to do this?"

There are feelings behind it - but the words just don't come. It surprises Elly, because there is a feeling of some kind of subtle tension and distress in the back of her mind, but there are other reasons to worry right now. Is it Layna and the Gear that (as far as Elly knows) she's only maybe used once? Is the exploding barrage of mini-missiles firing towards her? Is it the lingering memory of that one time she -

Oh, it's the missiles.

That was pretty easy.

The missiles track Vierge, which briefly takes flight but given the volume of missiles that follow it, may just seem to have done an enormous leap upwards. Showering cascades of detonations rock and soil armor plating as the Gear is thrown, approximately, towards the southwest. The camera feed jerks, sparks, shows chromatic distortions, briefly provides extreme magnification on the cuccomech, and --

The Ether Amplifier inside of Vierge starts humming. The rising tone and waveform of this hum is only briefly disturbed at the Gear's impact into the rich soil of the calm lands and the resulting micro-temblor. The battle rod is planted and used for leverage, even as the air tightens and a macroscopic influence of Ether abruptly scrapes an enormous number of free electrons from the Evalach.

A moment later, this discrepancy is resolved in the traditional way: an enormous lightning bolt out of a clear blue sky!!

GS: Elhaym van Houten has attacked Day Muirwall with Anemo Bolt!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has completed her action.
GS: Day Muirwall critically guards Elhaym van Houten's Anemo Bolt for 47 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Day Muirwall gains 1 additional Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei isn't sassing--he is being absolutely genuine. That's the heartbreaking thing. But he does say, "Well, yeah, I'd probably like you still if you were angrier. You don't seem like a bad guy. You seem like a good guy who is just stuck doing bad things. I mean I probably wouldn't be thrilled if you were angry but I wouldn't think less of you if you were really angry one day."

He considers. "But you'd really probably hate me if I got mad enough because when that happens good people get hurt. Well sometimes bad people get hurt. Honestly usually the bad people get hurt then the good people get hurt, but it's not like there's a brake system for it so like, I'm worried I'd accidentally hurt you? And it doesn't seem like you deserve that. It seems like you genuinely believe in this goddess but the bad apples in the Church aren't here anymore, you can't just turn off your sense of ethics because it's what your god or boss wants you to do. They'll just move on if you die here, and then where would your kid go?"

Is this a situation he barely understands?

"Nah I pretty much got it. The church is run by dead people who are more interested in being assholes then actually looking after their people and are relying on Sin to maintain their grip on power but--like--you see the duality here right? I'm not drunk right? Like, if Leo was secretly a zombie asshole, you wouldn't think the entire Althenian Religion was broken and that all the people who believed in it should be conquered right? And befoore you say somethin', I don't think Leo's secretly a zombie assole."

Fei pauses and looks towards Leo for a long moment, then back to Day. "Yeah, he's not a zombie asshole--"

Day punches Weltall onto its baack for MASSIVE DAMAGE. Weltall lays there for a moment, wiggling from side to side to try aand get up.

"Like, the person in charge here now isn't one of the assholes or at least, there's no actual proof he's an asshole? He could be a secret asshole honestly but it's not right to conquer a city just because the guy in chaarge is probably an asshole. You should find proof first. And how'd you get in here in the first place? By treachery, there's nothing noble about that. You had a spy let yourselves in."

"And see, you said yourself you wanted to call it off. I bet Leo wouldn't mind if you voted your conscience. He isn't a bad guy. And your Goddess would probably want you to vote with your conscience too if she was a good lady! Like, didn't the Goddess call for this war day one? You already defied her a little, so like--what's defying her a little more if it means doing the right thing? She's not exactly hanging out here sending out spies to open doors is she?"

Weltall hops back up to its feet.

"Anyway I'm kind of babbling but...uh..."

HE runs forward and tries to jump repeaatedly with WEltall's feet against Day's golem head. Is he... doing the Mario?! No! It's...!

GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked Day Muirwall with Ryuten!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
GS: Day Muirwall takes a solid hit from Fei Fong Wong's Ryuten for 328 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Paine has posed.

What to make of Yuna's strange giggle? Paine spares her a glance between shots. That's not normally how people react to Paine. She wonders for a moment if Yuna misheard her.

As for Tidus, Paine will decide how dumb Tidus is based on whether he survives the next few minutes.

Pale brows furrowing, Paine assesses the reaction--mostly the lack thereof--to her shots between each. Better than she feared, but worse than she hoped, would be a good summary. At least she exists to this thing.

The Gear on their side of the conflict has a much bigger gun. The presence of it and its rifle staff is one of three reasons Paine is standing her ground. As it closes distance with the Golem, Paine's triggerfinger hesitates, for no other reason than that she wants to see that clash. Truly one woman's fate can seem a small thing, in a battle of giants and oceans, armies and monsters.

The gas gets Yuna worse than Paine quantity-wise, but perhaps Yuna's prior experience with this Golem paid off, because it's Paine who ends up coughing heavily, her eyes watering. It's then that Paine's second reason for standing her ground rushes past the ground upon which Paine is standing, leaving her blinking in surprise. Uncertainties Paine has about Yuna's close combat ability are beside the point really--Paine wasn't about to run her five-foot something butt up there either if she had a choice. But maybe she has some trick up her...

"Hey!" Paine objects, when Yuna gets on the foot. "Damn it." Snapping open her rifle, Paine reloads while advancing, then swings it shut again with a clatter, the same motion bringing it to her shoulder anew.

The thick armor of the Golem doesn't cover it everywhere, but Paine can't just hurt it, she needs to hurt it specifically in a way that will impede its ability to swat its foot, to try and improve their chances. As she walks, she lines a shot up with the nearest armpit, squinting her eyes repeatedly to squeeze tears out of them. The iron sights are blurry. "Come on come on," she whispers at herself. Careful now...

She squeezes the trigger, firing off a round at something she saw glowing up under there. Hopefully it's important.

Oh, the third reason? Rikku Guardian'ed this same Golem for Yuna, and Paine isn't about to have Rikku of all people make her look bad in her freshman period as a Guardian.

GS: Paine has attacked Kaguya with Ironsights!
GS: Paine has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Paine takes 22 damage from Poison!
GS: Paine has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

"Yes!" Talia says to Avril. "We are both in here, no? Ah--you know these sorts of machines?" She hesitates for a second. Then, she yelps -- as the Cuccobuster bounces upward, and Ivan tells Leo about his own experiences. Then, she leans forward--

*CRASH* goes the Cuccobuster into a boulder.

--and yelps as the Gear rebounds back towards Hashmal. "We can't understand everything!" Talia calls back to Leo, as they go flying. "The world doesn't work that way! Otherwise, you just lose sight of what is important--aah?"

Cuccobuster glances off the side of Hashmal, and then rifts in the ground begin to open. Talia's eyes widen, and she looks at Ivan with a sort of desperate look. "Get close, get close!" she yells, hitting the throttle.

And then the rocks appear. Talia slaps her hand on a side. She yells out to Ivan, as the back of the Cuccobuster opens up, a panel sliding down--

--and there is a crack-THWOOOOOOOM as a rocket fires up, a massive fiery blast hurtling the orb-shaped Gear forward. "DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING!" Talia screams, as the pillars come up.

Cuccobuster slams towards one, but then Talia grins. She leans down, over Ivan's hand, and presses another two buttons. One of the Cuccobuster's huge arms swings back. Plating splits apart.

And a massive shotgun drops down into the Cuccobuster's hand. The briefly airborne Gear cocks the enormous shotgun, the pump-action mechanism making a KA-CLICK sound that rattles the stone pillars. Talia cries out, as the huge cannon is aimed down at Hashmal. It fires, and a shell hits the ground and explodes with a massive blast of fire.

"The Cuccobuster isn't just for show!" Talia cries out.

GS: Talia has attacked White Knight Leo with Cucco High Explosive Shotcannon!
GS: Talia has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Talia has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

"Working pretty well! She's a fine machine, the Corsair." Layna replies amicably to Elly. And to Billy's response, Layna nods. "Same to you, lad! Let's give 'em hell!"

Maybe an awkward choice of words, if she didn't know that he's a priest.

Her attention soon turns back to Day, though, at his response.

"With all due respect, lad, you have no idea what the hell we do or do not understand." Layna replies. "I probably know a lot more than you think I do. I went into this knowing exactly what I'm getting into, and what I want to stop."

And then, Evalach charges. The Gear is a sight to behold, honestly. Layna braces herself for the attack, hunkering down in a defensive stance, but even that isn't enough. The boosted blade sends right through her guard sending the Corsair reeling, requiring some expert piloting from Layna to keep it standing. Within the Gear, Layna curses.

"That one sure hit hard. Dahlia, how's she looking?" Layna asks, looking over to her copilot. In response, Dahlia frowns.

"We took heavy damage. The auto-repair unit is shot, too - it'll take a little time to get it back online." She replies. In response, Layna exhales sharply.

"Damn. Alright. Do we try and stall 'til it's working again, or make this quick? Tough choice... but, I'm sure you already know what my choice is, aye?" Layna says with a grin.

The Corsair rushes down Evalach again, readying the anchor. But this time, it's no feint. The anchor raises, and then swings down heavily for the other machine.

GS: Layna Manydays has attacked Day Muirwall with Weigh Anchor!
GS: Layna Manydays has gained 3 Combo!
GS: Layna Manydays has completed her action.
GS: Day Muirwall guards a hit from Layna Manydays's Weigh Anchor for 205 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Kaguya guards a hit from Paine's Ironsights for 99 hit points!
GS: Kaguya activates Sufferer!
GS: White Knight Leo takes a glancing hit from Talia's Cucco High Explosive Shotcannon for 144 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! White Knight Leo gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo activates Evade bonus!
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

"(Got it)," Kaguya transmits over the Guard's shared frequency to Leo and Day. "(...Thanks.)" Then, over the wider frequency and speakers, "No, Avril. You won't."

Ethius won't back down. Of course he won't; he never did. But Kaguya is interrupted in her initial irritation at Ethius when he says... something familiar. Like he read them out of a book. She narrows her eyes at the display. "You--"

"You're taking that out of context."

His rifle-staff is functional--and Kaguya watches it, seeing where it might fire. And what he says--"You don't understand anything!" Kaguya practically snarls at the strange man, hard turning the Gear's movement controls to start to move its bulk out of the way of the coming strike. She manages to get it mostly on the arm, where it scorches more armor and crumples a decorative flourish, a more powerful weapon than she'd expect him to have. "You don't get what I'm trying to do at all! Do you think the rest of my people would--" She stops, cutting herself off sharply. "Whatever. You never understand, you just act like you're so damned RIGHT all the time and can't talk to anybody like a real person anyway! You just talk in these stupid riddles and expect people to understand you! Well, BACK OFF, you mumbling sack of--"

'I have to.' Yuna speaks of her poisons, and indeed while Kaguya has cameras all over the Golem, Yuna has entered into a blind spot. Maybe Kaguya could recognize where she went from when she went off the camera she does have, but she's distracted in the moment by that sentiment--by the things she's put into this Golem, the sheer destruction it can cause, and her plan for it in the moment.

That's enough time for Yuna to yank at wires, between plates designed to keep out great weaponry rather than small hands. She heaves at them, and there's enough give--perhaps this is a spot used for maintenance. Tidus rushes up with his sword and his absurd speed, and slashes at the wires in question. They do look important--and while Kaguya built in many redundancies into her Golems, they aren't seamless. The Golem's ability to walk is not hampered, but some of its 'nerves' are, and errors spike in a few of her cameras. "Tch," Kaguya starts, and that's when an exposed power center in the armpit suddenly bursts, sending a spasm through the arm and briefly sending the guns on it out of control, firing off into the air.

"You don't have to," Kaguya grouses at Tidus, at first pointedly not answering Yuna. Only at first, though. After that her feelings get the better of her. "Why do you CARE!?" she half-shouts over the radio at Yuna. "They banished you! They sentenced you to die! And now they expect your help, and they get it! You're still planning to die for them! Why!?"

"...And stop messing around down there!!" to all three of them.

Kaguya has had enough of this already--she pulls the lever to activate the magic booster, and starts to channel her strange Veruni energies through it. In an instant, bizarre shapes start to sprout at the Golem's feet. Recognizably mushrooms, but huge and alien, like nothing that has ever grown on Spira before. Their odd caps and strangely textured lengths burst into being and start to spead spores, jamming up weapons and burning the lungs. ...But it's not 'stomping'. Can the Golem stomp right now?

Kaguya gets the arm under control in the next moment, rerouting power through many of the systems that have been compromised. "And you," she says to Ethius. "You better get ready to hurt me, because I'm going to hurt you a lot."

A shockwave begins to build in front of Cuchulainn's hand, pointed out at the Gear closing into melee, and suddenly Kaguya's Golem swipes at Aiguelle, a magical rush of power bursting through the air between them, drawing in energy, power, everything it can in a vacuum towards Kaguya's Golem.

GS: Kaguya enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Yuna with Saprophyte Suffusion!
GS: Kaguya has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Tidus with Saprophyte Suffusion!
GS: Kaguya has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Paine with Saprophyte Suffusion!
GS: Kaguya has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Devour Iniquity!
GS: Recover! Blind, Jam, and Weaken removed from Kaguya!
GS: Kaguya has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

Not so distant from him, Day can feel what White Knight Leo is doing. He bows his head for just a moment. Yet another way in which Althena's champion is far beyond him.

He snaps his head up again when Elly asks him a question. Instantly he opens his mouth to say something.

Whatever response was about to emerge dies on the tip of his tongue. The silence on the other end of the comline is palpable as he sets his jaw and knits his brows, frustration seizing him as he finds himself at a loss for what to actually say.

Fei's kind enough to fill the silence. His chatter jerks Day out of his momentary fugue, and he quickly moves as he realizes Elly's coming at him again - and from an angle he's not expecting, by calling out lightning in a way his own machine simply cannot do. With a sharp hiss of surprise, Day yanks his control yokes to the side, throwing Evalach out of the immediate line of the anemo blast.

The energy punches into perhaps the best place it could: One of Evalach's flanking shields. Insulating foam and armour plates buckle and strain, but the machine holds out - and yet, turning to soak up Elly's strike opens him to Fei's. Weltall comes barging in and kicks Evalach right in its stupid Gear head. The burly Gear staggers under the force of the blow and begins to topple backwards. "Crap crap crap," Day curses, flailing at his controls in the hopes of somehow salvaging the situation.

Only luck manages to do that for him. Evalach lands with a knee driven into the soft ground.

It gives Layna her opening. The pirate comes steaming in, bringing that anchor down. Day grunts and sweeps his boosted blade up to parry, managing to block a killing blow, but the hooked head of the anchor tears a gash in the white machine's shoulder armour. Sparks dance across hull plating, followed by coils of smoke. Day sets his jaw and scowls.

"You have a lot of gall to preach to me about ethical matters, Captain Layna Manydays," the young knight snaps. "You made your name as a pillager and a brigand. A robber of ships and a stealer of fortunes. I have my sins as well, but my sins were born of error, not of delusion and greed!"

Evalach pushes back with a sudden burst of force, pushing the Corsair away violently. The machine shoulders to its feet, and Day slams one hand down on a large button on the console beside him.

The big Gear's eyes suddenly flash dazzling white..

                          [ OVERRIDE CODE "43615" ]
               BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrOyTQEJCJY

"LISTEN UP!" Day roars, whirling Evalach's sword out to the massive Gear's right. "My name is Daillan! DAILLAN MUIRWALL THE FIFTH! I AM THE SWORD OF THE MARCH OF MUIRWALL! And before the enemies of the Goddess...!"

As his words boom across the landscape, they mingle with the scream of Evalach's engines, freed from their limiters. In the seat behind him, Seraph Vesna widens her eyes and opens her mouth, startled, as Day leans forward in the cockpit, barreling at Layna, Fei and Elly with greater intensity. "...THIS SWORD," he screams, "WILL YIELD FOR NOTHING!!"

Thruster fire plumes out from Evalach's weapon like a halo of holy flame. "ROAR, THUNDER OF ALTHENA!!" he screams as he strikes out with brutal force - and with each strike, flame and exhaust explode from the boosted blade, each whirling strike coming not just with massive cutting force, but the intensity of jet-powered heat. Evalach whirls among the three Gears like a hurricane storm, dishing out a rain of violence wherever it spins.

GS: Day Muirwall has attacked Day Muirwall with CODE 43615 OVERRIDE!
GS: Day Muirwall has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Day Muirwall heals Day Muirwall! He gains 400 temporary hit points!
GS: Shield applied to Day Muirwall!
GS: Mighty applied to Day Muirwall!
GS: Day Muirwall has activated a Boss Action!
GS: Day Muirwall has attacked Fei Fong Wong with The Thunder of Althena!
GS: Day Muirwall has attacked Elhaym van Houten with The Thunder of Althena!
GS: Day Muirwall has attacked Layna Manydays with The Thunder of Althena!
GS: Day Muirwall has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Day Muirwall has completed his action.
GS: Layna Manydays takes a solid hit from Day Muirwall's The Thunder of Althena for 418 hit points!
GS: Healthy! For entering Condition Green, Layna Manydays receives 100 temporary hit points.
GS: Layna Manydays enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Ethius Hesiod takes a solid hit from Kaguya's Devour Iniquity for 154 hit points!
GS: Dispel! Recover! Riposte removed from Kaguya!
GS: Elhaym van Houten takes a glancing hit from Day Muirwall's The Thunder of Althena for 217 hit points!
GS: Yuna takes a solid hit from Kaguya's Saprophyte Suffusion for 101 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Yuna gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Jam applied to Yuna!
GS: Yuna activates Sufferer!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    "Yes, I do," she answers Talia. "They are of Veruni make. They are Golems."

    It's simply something she knows, as well as she knows that the sun will rise and that the seasons will change. She might remember little of 'then' but she knows this.

    "It has been some time, has it not?" runs her response to Ivan. "Your machine is quite interesting. Have you shown that to me before?" she wonders, even if now may not be precisely the time for her to learn more about the Cuccobuster. Rather, instead--

    What is your aim here, she had asked him.

    His response comes in a roar, well-edged in pain.

    And she remembers then in that moment that Mauri is his sister, Mauri who had said such things that
    were true.

    And then there's no time at all to think on it further.

    The mantic pattern's intent is clear to her keen eye; hands on the throttles, she urges the Gear forward, nearing to those points that seem clear or at least clear enough of the array's might.

    It feels nearly as if she has done this before. Perhaps in another life, in a sense -- perhaps the 'Queen' had done something like this once. What was a safe spot becomes less so as the array gives life to the power the Golem channels.

    She had wanted the Skadi to move with grace when she had worked on it. In this, it does not let her down. She slips between the erupting pillars, wrests those moments of safety from the places where again and again, the White Knight would see her crushed.

    There is no time to think. There is only time to act.

    The pillars begin to fall. Swapping her grip on the Gear-sized blade to Skadi's left, Avril urges her machine to leap, its ascent adjusted by its verniers. She lands atop one of the tumbling pillars, leaping from one to the other as they crash down.

    Her only target is the Golem at the heart of this: Hashmal. With a shout from Avril, the Skadi launches itself from that final pillar near to Leo's Golem, grasping the blade's hilt again with both hands.

    And then descends, blade first, for Hashmal.

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked White Knight Leo with Wild Rose Approach!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur's Stoic stance ends.
GS: Cover expired!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
GS: Paine takes a solid hit from Kaguya's Saprophyte Suffusion for 126 hit points!
GS: Jam applied to Paine!
GS: Paine activates Sufferer!
GS: Gamble: Very High! White Knight Leo critically guards Avril Vent Fleur's Wild Rose Approach for 84 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! White Knight Leo gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo activates Guard bonus and Power Burst!
GS: White Knight Leo enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

It has been some time, has it not?

"Yes, I may have still been terrible last time we met, I apologize if so!" Ivan calls back to Avril's Gear.Leo, meanwhile, gives a conflicted response to the various challenges thrown his way.

But there are forces at play you scarce understand.

"If we're wrong, you can go ahead and try to explain why! But the people in Spira don't need the things they've been put through in this war. What could justify all this? What are the people who were driven from their homes or lost their lives supposed to get out of it in the end?"

Leo tries to cut short their questioning by summoning something dire.

Ivan does his best to follow Talia's instructions as he steers while she activates various boosts to their speed.

First -- forward, into the safe zone directly around Hashmal. Then, maneuvering through a labyrinth of pillars... then -- things are falling, all around them and --


"I'm trying, I'm trying!!!" he shouts, but they're going SO FAST and he still ends up grazing the Gear into the pillars as they crash down.

Finally, it's over, and he takes a moment to catch his breath while Talia takes control to bust out the shotcannon.

Ivan chooses to punctuate this move with a reprise of the flamethrower, aiming Cuccobuster's beak down at Leo's Gear before unleashing a gout of flame.

GS: Ivan has attacked White Knight Leo with Fire Breathing Chicken!
GS: Ivan has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Tidus takes a solid hit from Kaguya's Saprophyte Suffusion for 106 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Tidus gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Jam applied to Tidus!
GS: White Knight Leo critically guards Ivan's Fire Breathing Chicken for 69 hit points!
GS: White Knight Leo activates Guard bonus!
GS: Fei Fong Wong takes a solid hit from Day Muirwall's The Thunder of Althena for 390 hit points!
GS: Fei Fong Wong activates Sufferer!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    Hashmal rises to its full, impressive height. Its leonine face is as implacable as ever, but inside, its pilot breathes deeply from exertion. He's never pushed the amplifiers that hard before--not even during Luca--and it's taking him a moment to recover. He can only hope that the others were driven off, or at least inconvenienced...

    He has no such luck. The Cuccobuster comes rocketing in from above. Leo has a moment to boggle at the thing's shotcannon before it opens fire. The cannister slams into the earth at Hashmal's feet, but rather than move the Gear, Leo--his perceptions still linked to Hashmal's amplifiers--moves the earth instead. Churned-up dirt flows like water, sending the embedded canister just far enough that it doesn't critically damage Hashmal's lower legs when it goes off. It still erupts with a thunderous boom, still peppers the Golem's lower body with shards of rock and shrapnel. Leo feels the impact, distantly, and grits his teeth. But the twins aren't done with him yet. Once more, that dread beak gapes open, and out pours fire--

    Hashmal's sword whips up to intercept the blaze. Flame licks out around either side, but most of it strikes the massive zweihander dead-on, sparing the Golem. This gives Avril the perfect opening. Skadi falls at Hashmal...

    And Leo whirls around, his instincts saving him from what would otherwise be a horrible--perhaps crippling--blow from the Ice Queen. Steel grates against stone as Leo parries the strike, barely. Something lurches and slides in the Golem's wounded side, and more error messages light up on Leo's board. Leo continues ignoring them, for now.

    "I--I can't--" Leo grates out. The two Gears struggle there for a moment, locked in a clash of blades. "If--if I could end this war tomorrow--"

    Day's voice carries over the comm. His tone sends a frisson of fear racing down his spine--a reminder that he's not the only one fighting here.

    "(Sir Muirwall, Lady Kaguya!)" Leo transmits. "(Erecting a support pillar now!)"

    The earth rumbles. Hashmal takes advantage of the momentary quake to slip free, and step back. Brilliant light flares around the machine's right hand. More Althenan glyphs etch themselves into the earth, glowing brilliantly. A column of pure white stone rises from beneath them, and the runes carve themselves onto its face--glyphs of protection for the faithful. A bright aura emanates from the pillar, enveloping both the other Guard Golem and Day's Gear.

    Leo sucks in a breath. Hashmal bends its knees, lowers its center of mass, draws back its blade.

    Leo strikes. It's a massive, circular cut, exactly like the one he used to cleave through those pillars--except it's directed at the enemy Gears, instead. The force behind it is enough to carve through meters and meters of solid stone, and do so with pulverizing force. Motes of amber light flicker in the air behind Leo's blade as it flies.

GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Kaguya with Blessed Rampart!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Day Muirwall with Blessed Rampart!
GS: Day Muirwall accepts White Knight Leo's Blessed Rampart for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield applied to Day Muirwall!
GS: Kaguya accepts White Knight Leo's Blessed Rampart for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield applied to Kaguya!
GS: White Knight Leo has activated a Boss Action!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Talia with Mountain-Cutting Blade!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Mountain-Cutting Blade!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Ivan with Mountain-Cutting Blade!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 1 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: Talia guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Mountain-Cutting Blade for 260 hit points!
GS: Break applied to Talia!
GS: Talia activates Guard bonus!
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Kaguya takes her turns at the verbal barbs and licks. What she repeats is not at all novel to him - or to anyone. How many times has he taken advantage of everyone around him? How many times has he made use of all the slack that Jay has given him on his conduct, only to repeat so many of his transgressions as if he never truly learned? How many times has he played with the heart of a troubled young woman in harrowing existential circumstances? In one stand-out example, all but using a part of themselves to take her away so she would not be in the way when he tried to deal with Kaguya back at the top of Dragon Roost?
     There is no immediate vocal answer, as the pilot within readjusts and carefully considers the immediate terrain and the calculus of how much 'space' he has to work with when there are three on-foot combatants attempting to quietly pull apart the immense machine. (He may be about to talk in more of those stupid riddles and be a mumbling sack of hyphens.)
     ...But, like Kaguya and her 'tch' response to the resolve of Yuna to get in there with her own two hands, Ethius is stunned.
     "You're in danger," he tries to tell the three of them but is struggling to think of what means he has to help with that even as he sees the effectiveness in which key support structures are being severed. This does not allieve the tension. (Somehow this is a thing both Kaguya and himself agree with, even as they're trying to kill one another.)
     He's not on foot. His protective spells are not an option - but Kaguya is already taking back the offensive as she unleashes the shockwave from Cuchulainn's hand.
     The machine wobbles and quakes under the might of its swing as sorcerous energies overwhelm it. The machine does not have any exotic sorcerous countermeasures - it is as close to 'out of the box' as a salvage gets. An exploitable vulnerability. It seems almost an insult he would think it could stand against Kaguya's masterwork.
     It is not exactly a position in which to counter-sass. Some instruments go wonky then and there, unusable. The Aiguille's staff is hefted, held horizontally like one might a lance.
     "...It is true that this society has not been one of kindness to any," Ethius sucks in a breath as he takes one last look at the others' positioning. Good, then, he thinks. "Several dock workers in Luca were pleased to throw me in harm's way as your machine emerged. The Al Bhed have been ever jovial about wondering aloud if I should be shot," huh, wait a tick on that one, "Guadosalam rejected my concerns for their well-being. As pertains the recent call for help from Bevelle, for those who had the will..."
     He pushes forward, engaging the dash jets for a quick burst - practically leaping full-force into the greater machine while its balance is in question, lunging the rifle-staff head on into the far larger machine like the resulting collision - the g-forces from the whiplash - would be nothing.
     "...All the people of this world had my aid from the first Hyland noble you plied with the promise of power."

GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Kaguya with Close!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Ethius Hesiod assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
GS: Ivan takes a glancing hit from White Knight Leo's Mountain-Cutting Blade for 217 hit points!
GS: Break applied to Ivan!
<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

"Veruni make..." Talia repeats, softly. "Then--ah--Kaguya's work?" She hesitates for a moment. She looks at Ivan, and then asks Avril and her brother both. Have they met when she was there? She may be forgetting.

It is the middle of a fight. She settles on (tragically): "I am glad you are both friends, no?"

Hashmal's blade comes forth. It slashes into the Cuccobuster, striking the mighty armor of it and digging a deep tear. Sparks explode outward, from some damaged systems; the Thames mechanics will have their work cut out for them.

A few warnings flash -- big, bright red boxes with squawking chicken heads -- and the Cuccobuster is pitched backward. Talia grits her teeth, then she leans forward, and lets out a sharp cry.

The thrusters fire -- and the round Gear goes shooting forward, as she presses a couple buttons. More rockets open up, and send the Cuccobuster flying in.

"Brother!" she cries out. "Show him what you can do!"

GS: Talia spends 1 Combo on Reload!
GS: Talia enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Talia has attacked Ivan with Mechanical Feathered Friend!
GS: Talia has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Talia has completed her action.
GS: Avril Vent Fleur fully evades White Knight Leo's Mountain-Cutting Blade for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Avril Vent Fleur gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur activates Power Burst!
<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

Day doesn't answer her immediately, or perhaps at all. Elly's eyes turn downwards. It is, in a sense, a triumph, but this isn't a debating society. People's lives are on the line, even if that line is some distance away.

Fei elaborates with passion and anxiety. Elly brings Vierge up to its full stature, landing on the ground again and hanging back in a guarded pose. This is good because it means that when Day speaks to Layna with his own fury and then draws upon some kind of -

"Is that a booster mode?" Elly says, wonderingly. "But it isn't just... It doesn't feel like it's just high pressure fuel injection... ah!!!"


The guarding rod is nearly cleaved in half! Enough of a dull red strike in it to make it unwise to use it to strike a blow; the resulting aftershock throws Vierge back hard enough to topple over, several small explosions erupting from hip and knee joints as the magnetic-fluid coating provided by Hammer Industries briefly catches fire in counterstriking pressure. "Ngh--"

* Mobility Down

Elly, slumped back in her cockpit, presses one hand to her temple.

"... That machine... It's just the machine. We just have to stop that power... but..."

The lights dim for a moment in Vierge's cockpit.

And in the Calm Lands proper, the Gear rolls over onto its side, as if in defeat, admission of being overpowered. A gesture of surrender? Perhaps if Vierge was just equipped with a big stick, a bad attitude, and the occasional suggestion of a heart effect, but there is something else going on. "... I think he's scared... maybe..."

Several ports on the back of Vierge open up and glowing silver spikes rise upwards into the Spiran sky. Three seconds later a whizzing coruscant cage of incisive rays, possibly seeming *out of thin air*, fire behind the Evalach, aiming for the legs and arms!

GS: Elhaym van Houten has attacked Day Muirwall with AERODS!
GS: Elhaym van Houten has completed her action.
GS: Day Muirwall guards a hit from Elhaym van Houten's AERODS for 205 hit points!
GS: Disrupt applied to Day Muirwall!
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

There's a reason perhaps to go into a fight as if you really mean to win it. Some people just don't yield to logic. Or to anything else for that matter. "Hey I only signed up with a crew of sand pirates because I killed everyone in my home town by sort-of accident and..."

He pauses a moment. "I suppose that doesn't really help my case here but disregarding me for a moment, but I think Dean would give you a sad frowny face if he saw you conquering Bevelle and he's a completely innocent man who didn't blow up his hometown at all!"

Fei bobs his head once. "So don't do it for me, or for Layna! I'm not the kind of guy who anyone should aspire to be anyway!" Weltall points towards Day.

"Do it for Dean who is loved by all!"

He gets engulfed by flame and vanishes within it or a time. There's just... so much fire. And he didn't get out of the way. That much fire is sure to even bug Fei who generally just kind of toughs it out! Plus it's in his gear. His gear isn't blessed by a phoenix person.

And yet...

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRbhLtjOiRc&ab_channel=Xelerate

Weltall slowly walks out of the flames, armor plating melting and bubbling visibly to the naked eye, bubbles popping in the night sky.

It crouches once.

And then it leaps towards Day's gear. "I said..."

"Do it for Dean who is loved by all!"

He dives in as the AERODS unleash their assault, weaving between blasts as he throws several quick punching strikes towards the golem and then a backflip! And then twin beams of blue chi energy!

"KOSHO X!" Fei shouts. That wasn't so bad.

And then he twists around, lifting a leg up, "AND GOTEN X!"

Oh shit.

Fei throws several more kicks towards Day's gear and then slams his foot down against the ground--unleashing a wave of chi that bursts OUT of Weltall's foot and sailing up into the wide blue yonder above!

GS: Fei Fong Wong spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked Day Muirwall with Kosho X!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has launched an attack Link!
GS: Day Muirwall takes a solid hit from Fei Fong Wong's Kosho X for 414 hit points!
GS: Fei Fong Wong spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked Day Muirwall with Goten X!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Disrupt expired!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
GS: Day Muirwall has activated a Force Action!
GS: Day Muirwall critically guards Fei Fong Wong's Goten X for 89 hit points!
GS: Disease expired!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

Yuna isn't... unaware... of the stress of a Guardian's job. If Paine didn't already have an entirely white head of hair, her ward climbing ON THE EVIL ROBOT would have undoubtedly started her along that path, no matter her relative youth.

But she's not as sympathetic to this issue as the young lady is to most other matters. After all -- her Guardians -- bar Tidus, whose presence is actually making it a little more awkward than usual, as regards engaging with full honesty with Kaguya -- signed on to a death march. They signed up to fight Sin, the only way Spira knows how.

Which isn't to say she's callous. As she collapses in coughing, fungus sprouting all over her form as it detonates point-blank, she's aware that sometimes, she makes it harder than it might have been.

Would Dona have turned back? Would Isaaru? Would Belize think that even now she is shirking her true duty?

These thoughts tormented her a little on the way. But she knows what she'd say to them if they asked:

At the rate things are going, there isn't going to be a Spira left to save...

Ethius speaks of the cruelty of people, of Spira itself, and he might catch a striking look from Yuna in the direction of his robot, a clear-eyed sadness, a silent compassion. At the same time, Kaguya challenges her on a different wavelength than the summoners might have, to justify why she would save them.

Sliding back off the foot and landing not far from Paine, she calls up to the nearest microphone:

"Because--" She chokes on spores. Her coughing gets wetter and more awful, but she grinds her teeth to get it out anyway.

"--even when they--" cough, cough "--are wrong--" wheeze "--people are still--" hack "--people..."

Yuna's hands fist in her skirt, as a feeling builds and builds inside her... and outside her. Kaguya might be blinded if she has the misfortune of turning a camera on her in the moment her faith in humanity detonates in a pillar of white radiance -- broad enough to encompass all three of them, and burn away the mushrooms wholesale, not with flame, but with purity. What's left behind is a fierce, gentle strength.

What is Yuna's faith, now that Yevon has betrayed her, in a world turned upside down by wars of stranger powers still?

What MEANING is there in her journey?

If you asked her, she might not be able to say it out loud right now.

But people are worth protecting, no matter what. Some things go without saying, even inside her own head, her own heart.

Sucking in a cleaner breath of air, tainted merely by the exhaust fumes of a giant mecha battle, Yuna adds, with a slightly apologetic not-quite-glance at Tidus, as she declines to look away from the camera port:

"If I must die..." In fairness, 'if' is a great leap forward for her, maybe he should be happy, nor frustrated, "...I want it, to have been for something good..."

She stares up at Kaguya, and all that compassion she was feeling for Ethius finds itself turning on her strange, miserable counterpart instead. Like her faith, she doesn't know how she knows what they have in common. They just do; and they always have known, before the secret of the Final Summoning was out, before they've ever had a conversation about the Veruni's own condition.

"...don't you?"

GS: Yuna spends 1 Combo on Reload!
GS: Yuna has attacked Tidus with Faith!
GS: Yuna has attacked Paine with Faith!
GS: Yuna has attacked Yuna with Faith!
GS: Yuna has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Faith!
GS: Yuna has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Yuna has completed her action.
GS: Yuna heals Yuna! She gains 210 temporary hit points!
GS: Restore! Jam removed!
GS: Yuna activates #-1 FUNCTION (ANSI) EXPECTS 2 ARGUMENTS BUT GOT 1's Reload!!
GS: Yuna heals Ethius Hesiod! He gains 420 temporary hit points!
GS: Ethius Hesiod activates #-1 FUNCTION (ANSI) EXPECTS 2 ARGUMENTS BUT GOT 1's Reload!!
GS: Yuna heals Tidus! He gains 210 temporary hit points!
GS: Restore! Jam removed!
GS: Tidus activates #-1 FUNCTION (ANSI) EXPECTS 2 ARGUMENTS BUT GOT 1's Reload!!
GS: Yuna heals Paine! She gains 210 temporary hit points!
GS: Restore! Jam and Poison removed!
GS: Paine activates #-1 FUNCTION (ANSI) EXPECTS 2 ARGUMENTS BUT GOT 1's Reload!!
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

I am glad you are both friends, no?

"T-Talia!!" Ivan sputters, with the same level of scandalized shock most people reserve for being accused of much more intimate relationships.

Hashmal swings its blade toward the Cuccobuster. Ivan attempts a backwards leap, but still, the round Gear takes enough damage to pepper them with urgent warnings. The warnings themselves are delivered by chicken heads. Who designed such a machine, anyway....?!

Show him what you can do!

"Right--!" Ivan looks down at the control panel. What can he do? What is the very best the Cuccobuster has to offer?

He-- he doesn't know!!

He just starts pressing random buttons, hoping that the Cuccobuster will hear what's in his soul and the strength of his resolve will carry through...!!!

If--if I could end this war tomorrow--

"If you can't, then maybe we can! But you can always walk away and stand on this side, with us!"

As Ivan says this, the Cuccobuster emits a strange hum, and begins spinning, spinning... its head swivels inward, then resurfaces with its beak replaced with a whirring drill as it flies for Hashmal on a rocket-boosted path.


<Pose Tracker> Tidus has posed.

    "Sorry, but you're gonna have to get used to it!" Tidus shouts over Paine's way when she 'hey!'s at Yuna getting right in on the action by way of climbing up on the foot. He sympathizes--really he does--but you just can't stop Yuna from flinging herself into the thick of things. It's better to fling yourself into the thick of things right along with her.
    He likes it better that way, anyway.
    It of course helps that there's a guy in an actual machina attacking Kaguya's machina; it means she has to focus on returning fire to him, rather than on the tiny humans scurrying about at her feet. Well, at least partially. At the very least, the pilot sure seems mad at him. Tidus doesn't really care about whatever beef those two have with each other, but he's grateful for the help all the same.
    "Yeah, I *do* have to! You know Seymour and Mika fled the city, right? Even we heard about it all the way up at the top of the Calm Lands! I might not like the *institution* of Yevon, and I sure as heck don't like its leaders, but the simple, ordinary people who follow it? A lot of them are good people! *They* didn't decide to throw us into jail! It's not *their* fault!" And a lot of them are jerks, but you're always going to have some of both in any large organization. Tidus keeps that to himself, though, since they're not really here to have a nuanced conversation. "And you're going to march up on all those innocent people with these giant death machines?! That's messed up!!"
    Yuna of course will have her own say in matters--and she does, with an eloquence that shines through even as she coughs around the spores. After all, she's the one who's expected to die to save the world for a time. ...Tidus won't argue that matter either. He's not going to let it happen, but he really doesn't think this pilot cares about that so much as the fact that they're getting in her way. Instead, he shares that silent not-quite-glance with Yuna--that understanding they finally have that, for so long during their journey, they just didn't. It's not as though all secrets have been bared between them, but... now, at least, he understands. And he'll gladly take that 'if.' One small step forward is still progress. In that way, he can share her faith, her *love*, and be warmed by it in turn.
    Stop messing around, though? "*Never*," Tidus calls, right before weird mushroom magic sprouts up all around the Golem's feet. They burst and spread their spores, and Tidus is unfortunate enough to breath in a whole lungful. He nearly falls right off the Golem foot and gets squashed underneath (for all that it's not stomping) as he coughs desperately; as it is, he's merely utterly incapacitated for a moment as he drives his sword into the metal foot and hangs on for dear life.
    Fortunately, that moment passes. Tidus heaves and sneezes and coughs a couple more times, then wipes his face with one glove and collects himself into a semblance of readiness. "Ugh," he groans. "That sucked..." The downside of Nul-spells: they wear off after the first hit. Very effective against those poison gases, but after that...
    Ethius kindly informs the three of them that they're in danger. "Thanks for the warning," Tidus quips dryly. He does appreciate the guy's help, and the help he's apparently been giving Spira all this time, but--did he seriously think they hadn't noticed?? Regardless, once he pulls himself upright, he glares up at the Golem stretching up towards the heavens. "You know what, lady? You're all washed up!!" he shouts, concentrating his magical strength on a large--large--LARGE orb of watery might. (You can thank Lulu for the actual battle quote.) Perhaps that Waterga will explode and short out some important systems...or just blow them up a little. Either's good.

GS: Tidus spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Tidus has attacked Kaguya with Waterga!
GS: Riposte expired!
GS: Tidus has completed his action.
GS: Ivan accepts Talia's Mechanical Feathered Friend for 0 hit points!
GS: Ivan activates #-1 FUNCTION (ANSI) EXPECTS 2 ARGUMENTS BUT GOT 1's Reload!!
GS: Ivan has attacked White Knight Leo with Panic and Button Mash!
GS: Ivan has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Kaguya guards a hit from Ethius Hesiod's Close for 186 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Kaguya gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Kaguya activates Guard bonus!
GS: Kaguya critically guards Tidus's Waterga for 35 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    "I have no reason to judge you for such a thing," Avril tells Ivan. "You have left them behind now, correct?" After all, being who she is...

    "Yes," she tells his sister. "Kaguya has created Golems. Though... there is something about them that seems different," she says, as if considering their form anew. "Is it... a personal choice of style? The form is not quite the same." But she would know their 'nature', their 'power' anywhere.

    She leaps, as the pillars she has opted to use as her platforms beneath her crumble. And she falls, blade-first.

    Leo's senses and reflexes serve him well: the blades clash with a spray of sparks before physics -- and the Skadi's need to continue to conserve fuel -- force her to part from this meeting of steel. The Gear jets backwards to land with a splash in the sea. Bearing its blade before itself, the Skadi stands ready, waiting for Hashmal's next move.

    Leo's choice is to bolster his companions first.

    Then and only then does he trade blows again with her and the siblings' machine. The great stone blade, alive with sorcery, whirls towards her.

    Is it instinct? Memory, of a sort? She knows not the shape of what bids her, only what it bids her. She leaps, taking flight for a moment within the Skadi, drawing on more of its dwindling reserves. For a few precious seconds she is afloat atop the pure cutting edge. Urging the Skadi, Avril bids it roll forward, dragging her massive blade forward with the momentum of the Gear as gravity reasserts.

    "You... are capable of stopping this war now, if you so choose."

    Is what she tells Leon, as her battered blade swings forward with crushing force.

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked White Knight Leo with Camellia Heat!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Layna has to whistle appreciatively at Day's quick defenses. He's a good pilot, she has to give him that. She doesn't know how long he's had the machine, but he's clearly adapted to it well. And then Day speaks, addressing her directly. A malicious grin spreads across her face.

"So my reputation precedes me, aye? Good, good. I was worried you might've mistaken me for a common thug!" Layna replies with a laugh. "Aye, lad, sing my praises more, if you know me so well! Bandit, marauder, thief, villain, hellion - lower-case h, mind you! - I've heard 'em all before!"

And then Day roars his name, and demonstrates Althena's power, wielding an unyielding blade. His skill and talent with the blade, augmented by ancient technology, is an awe-inspiring sight, to be sure. It takes all of Layna's piloting skill to ensure that the Corsair isn't just diced to pieces, and when the storm ends, the Gear is looking worse for wear - but it's still standing. Dahlia's attention goes full-time to rapidly managing the Corsair's subsystems to keep everything up and running.

"But, lad - Daillan - it's because of my experiences that I know sins when I see 'em." Layna says. "A sin of error can be far worse than one made with full intent - at least the latter knows what they are. Aye, I'm a criminal! Call my ethics into question all you like! But I know what I am, and I'm trying to be better than that. And a part of that... is seeing something I think is wrong and putting a stop to it. What are you trying to be, lad?"

With that said, Layna rolls her shoulders. The Corsair might not hold out for much longer, so she might as well bet it all on the next one.

She puts away the anchor, drawing out instead a long, electrified lance.

"It might come as a shock... but these people aren't going to look at you as a hero, lad!" Layna says. She hurls the lance at Day's Evlach, looking to stab straight through. When it makes contact, the end releases a potent electrical shock, possibly overloading important subroutines. The moment it does, Layna rushes forward. What happens next is not particularly elegant or majestic. It's little more than a brutal, yet very effective, combo of punches, looking to inflict as much damage as possible to the machine.

GS: Layna Manydays has activated a Force Action!
GS: Layna Manydays spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Layna Manydays has attacked Day Muirwall with Lightning Impale!
GS: Layna Manydays has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Layna Manydays has launched an attack Link!
GS: Layna Manydays spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Formation! Layna Manydays has attacked Day Muirwall with Manydays Marauder!
GS: Layna Manydays has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Disease expired!
GS: Layna Manydays has completed her action.
GS: Day Muirwall critically guards Layna Manydays's Lightning Impale for 64 hit points!
GS: Day Muirwall takes a solid hit from Layna Manydays's Manydays Marauder for 486 hit points!
GS: Day Muirwall has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
GS: Layna Manydays has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

Another light shines through the battlefield. The runes of Althena impart their blessing on Evalach and Day. From the backseat, a surprised Seraph Vesna calms a bit, while Day raises his head, still tense. "Thank you, Lord Leo!" he shouts.

It helps. It keeps him centred, anyway. Puts a finer point on his conviction - the knowledge that he has the moral high ground over someone here, that he can feel good about standing against Layna, that it's alright to hold his head high here.

Elly goes down, but she doesn't need to be up to level her power at Day - and for his part, his power is simply a mix of conviction and overriding Evalach's factory-default safety limits. He's got the machine's shield binders angled out to the sides, not expecting Vierge to strike from behind. Blasts rattle the burly Gear, punching into its rear armour and staggering it.

"What in the," Day exclaims with a look over his shoulder, instinctively trying to twist to get a look at the attack. It has one advantage: It brings a shield facing into the worst of the AEROD attack. The aegis binder strains under repeated ray blasts, armour scorched and scored - but beyond the damage comes the distraction.

Fei Fong Wong invokes the power of Dean. Dancing through the AEROD fire, the Weltall comes in with strikes and blasts of chi. For just a moment, Day's caught flat-footed. "Gh-- I'm doing it for my literal Goddess!" he barks before his radio briefly stutters and dies as Fei punches Evalach in the chest, jarring an antenna loose briefly. The armoured Gear drops to a knee, kicking up clouds of dust. Armour plating is torn from the chest by those bursts of chi, exposing frame elements and kicking up a plume of smoke. The impacts are so hard that in the back seat, Seraph Vesna is bounced up with a squeak and hits her head on the roof. "Owww~...."

"Vess, hang in there," Day says tensely, trying to divide his focus between concern for his companion and concern for the enemies in front of him.

Thruster flame roils from the blade of Evalach's weapon as the big Gear rounds towards Fei again, but Layna's moving in before he can finish the attack. The young knight sets his jaw and scowls a hole through his monitor. "I'm not here to be a hero," he barks back at her. "Nor to argue with someone who revels in her sin! You're a living sin, Manydays! Your sins--"

Her sins take the form of a giant lance. Day wheels to bring his un-punched aegis binder into the path of the lance. The weapon crashes into the heavy armour; electricity bursts forth, and armour plates buckle as smoke pours from between them, but the worst of the damage is restricted to the shield.

Bad side: Day's lost most of his heavy armour at this point, and Layna's able to get close enough to punch him squarely in the parts of Evalach's chest armour that Fei tore off about fifteen seconds ago. Vess is jolted in her seat again and lets out another squeak as she hits her head on the ceiling for the second time in under a minute.

With a growl, Day jolts in his seat, but anything he might say is drowned out by an explosion that jerks the big Gear. A burst of flame and smoke belches from the back of Evalach's torso as a fuel line goes up. A few whisps of smoke make it into the cockpit, and Day's forced to cover his mouth and nose with the collar of his tunic.

"This isn't over," he growls, but his words don't actually carry. All the radio can transmit is a burst of static as Evalach begins to pull back towards the Guard's lines.

Day looks back towards Vess with visible concern, but it's underlaid by that embarrassment as a thought occurs to him: How is it that sinners can be so convinced of their righteousness, while to follow the Church feels like shit half the time? Why does it always end this way?

        Why doesn't it feel better?

GS: White Knight Leo takes a solid hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Camellia Heat for 302 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! White Knight Leo gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Dispel! Cover removed!
GS: White Knight Leo activates Power Burst!
GS: White Knight Leo takes a solid hit from Ivan's Panic and Button Mash for 338 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! White Knight Leo gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo activates Power Burst!
GS: White Knight Leo enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    'If you can't, then maybe we can! But you can always walk away and stand on this side, with us!'

    Leo wonders, for a moment, who would join him if he did what Ivan asked. He doesn't know. He can think of good reasons why so many of them would stay--their faith, their loyalty to their homelands, their desire for order. His jaw begins to ache from the strain of clenching it. His hands grip the Golem's motion-trace controls with white knuckles. "I will not abandon my troops," Leo says. There's steel in his voice, despite the pain.

    Skadi falls at him. For a moment, the Gear alights atop Leo's blade, and the White Knight is left to stare at its pilot's skills.

    'You... are capable of stopping this war now, if you so choose.'

    But at what cost? Leo thinks.

    How much will it cost not to stop it? hisses that treasonous little voice.

    "Silence," Leo hisses. He doesn't speak to Avril, but he's still got the comm on.

    Avril's blade punches right through Leo's guard. It slams into Hashmal's shoulder, driving the Gear back a full two paces. This time, Leo can't wrench his machine free--he tugs at it, this way and that, but the Ice Queen's sword is buried too deep. All he can do is look as the ungainly-seeming Cuccobuster flies gracefully at him, drill whirring furiously...

    The sound of shearing metal tears through the air. When it turns into more of a violent scraping, the Cuccobuster's drill is buried in Hashmal's other shoulder. Both of the Golem's arms hang at its sides, limp and useless. But Day--!

    "(Fall back!)" Leo shouts. "(I'll keep them off you!)"

    Leo's eyes go unfocused for a moment. Golden light flares in them as he pushes himself even further; more runes trace their way along the ground, marking out a sorcerous circle as they did before. The earth buckles once. Twice. It heaves.

    And then it erupts, exploding upwards in a rush of flying stone.

GS: White Knight Leo has activated a Boss Action!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Earthbreaker!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Ivan with Earthbreaker!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Talia with Earthbreaker!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: Talia critically guards White Knight Leo's Earthbreaker for 136 hit points!
GS: Ivan guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Earthbreaker for 122 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Ivan gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Ivan activates Guard bonus!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Earthbreaker for 241 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Avril Vent Fleur gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur activates Guard bonus!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> Paine has posed.

"I like fighting," Paine notes to Tidus after he yells up at the Golem. She's gotten closer as she walks. "People speak their mind."

Reloading again, Paine squints at the armpit section of the Golem again, looking to follow up. Instead, she starts to back away, leaving the rifle open. "Um, you two..."

There's a pie-in-the-face perfection to the area-of-effect dropped by the Golem. Paine really has no direction to run to. Retching on gas--spores?--Paine stumbles to a knee. Reaching up, she grabs her red headband and pulls it down as a bandana over her mouth and nose instead. But even as she does so, fertile fungus is growing on her, sprouting all over her cloak. She shakes the cloak off herself, rising to her feet unsteadily. Holding a corner with her gun hand, she shakes it open, but she gets no further than that. Yuna is taking a stand for reach over range. Paine hesitates, looking up at the Golem dubiously as she starts to dissolve into coughs again. She stomps a mushroom that seems to want to grow over her foot, and it splits and spreads beneath her boot.

A flash of light causes Paine to shield her eyes, but she finds somehow that she feels no need to squint at it. Gently, Paine turns her head back and forth to watch the fungus dissolve away, off of both her and the surrounding area. When her eyes find Yuna again, the girl is saying how she wants to die.

Paine hasn't heard that talk the way Tidus has, but she does not speak out. She wouldn't even if there was more time.

A cough bubbling out of her mouth breaks the spell for Paine, and she approaches Yuna. She forgot about the way she was carrying her cloak, however. She looks like a storybook kidnapper who wants to bundle Yuna up in a sack and run off with her, and Paine, grimly accustomed to people suspecting her of ill motives, stops abruptly and instinctively as she realizes.

"Ah," she says. "I was just going to..."

She drops the cloak with both hands at once.

"Unnecessary now," she declares, drawing her heavy grey sword. "Back soon." She smirks. "Or not, let's find out."

Paine sets off at a run, towards the foot. As she goes, her sword draws back as if under tension. Faster and faster she approaches, then passes, bringing the sword across the Golem's ankle. Rounding with her blade's momentum, she turns to the heel and starts working at the armor. Her chops are efficient, choreographed, as though she were doing an exhibition on a watermelon or a block of wood.

GS: Paine spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Paine has attacked Kaguya with Swordplay!
GS: Paine has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Paine has launched an attack Link!
GS: Cover and Quick expired!
GS: Paine has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya takes a solid hit from Paine's Swordplay for 156 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Kaguya gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Cripple applied to Kaguya!
GS: Kaguya activates Sufferer!
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

"...You're still on about that," Kaguya says, but it lacks the venom that she'd like it to have in her responses to Ethius. She'd like it to be a lot harder, but she doesn't quite have the heart when she remembers what happened in Lastonbell. Finishing the siege was one thing, but what came after--that dragon...

"You act like this some grand conspiracy and not just giving them what they wanted--an edge in the war. Sure, it got out of hand..." She's defensive, but focuses on defense in the next moment, swinging her Golem's arm in front of the burst to parry it. Armor shatters and splinters under the sheer impact, protecting vital systems but leaving an obvious wreck on the limb, powerful enough that while the machine can still keep going, it's going to need repairs even if victorious here.

But Tidus... Tidus has a lot to say too and Kaguya scowls. "Then tell them to surrender already and we can put these things away!" Kaguya shouts back at Tidus at the matter of Bevelle versus Yevon. "I--" It's not the best argument--she doesn't have a best argument. But she stops it to listen to Yuna, even as she's choking. She listens to each of those words. For the best, she doesn't have a camera right on Yuna--but she feels that spell nevertheless.

"People are..." She grits her teeth, and then Yuna keeps going. Now she sees the camera port, turns it on and sees Yuna staring into it. The things she says... what she wants.

'...don't you?'

Tears sting Kaguya's eyes, blurring the displays. She hates it. But she remembers the last time, that brief connection. "Shut up!" she counters immediately. "You can't--You don't--Shut up!!"

Never, Tidus insists, and then he pulls himself upright. That glare--that magical orb--Kaguya senses it as much as she sees it on her system's instruments, and abrubtly a strange green energy field erupts in the space right before where the orb hits, causing it to explode against her barrier. "PUNS!?" Kaguya shouts, her voice choked. "Now!?"

She feels the fury rush through her, feels how much easier it is to answer with it. In a rush of rage--no, hatred--she starts to charge the main gun of the Golem, all those bright spots (that Paine hasn't shot out) lightning up as power starts to surge towards its core. The Golem's sytems open up, blindingly bright as power starts to surge into an opening. The Golem's smile expands--

And a gigantic, earth-shattering beam of energy crashes out for Ethius's Aiguelle, almost the size of a Gear itself. "You don't understand anything! You never understood! I hate you!"

It's not just a beam of light, though. Something unholy beams along with it, something awful, terrible distilled into sickly green light.

But she slumps, when the light fades, and has her hand over the button for the booster, has the spell practically made already to strike at those underneath the Golem. She could do it. The powerful magic down there demands an answer of her own, and green light begins to build all around Cuchulainn. But as her hand hovers, she can't quite get Yuna's words out of her head--

"I--" Firing on Ethius doesn't make her feel any better. She just feels worse than before, exhausted somehow. She can't even take joy in taking out that insufferable man, if indeed she finally has. Instead... She finds herself talking, and the energy that was building in green intensity just starts to fizzle.

 "...Yes," she finally answers Yuna quietly, though she does not say she's talking to Yuna. "That's all I wanted," she says. "But everything--it--it keeps..."

Her head hangs as she can't quite finish the attack, closing the top of the case over the button for her magic booster.

"Just go away," Kaguya whispers into her radio. "I can't... look at you. I--" She cuts off. "I hate you," Kaguya lies. There's just the sound of Paine's sword cutting through steel. It gouges heavily into the alloys, starting to reveal some machinery beneath.

GS: Kaguya spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Wrath of the Ancients!
GS: Kaguya has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Yuna with Hesitation!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Tidus with Hesitation!
GS: Kaguya has attacked Paine with Hesitation!
GS: Kaguya has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

"I worried about that," Talia admits. "She made a lot of things that Hyland used. Ah--" She wrinkles her nose. "I wasn't sure if this matched her style, but I am not surprised..."

She trails off, then she grabs onto the pilot's chair tightly.

"I DON'T THINK SOOOOOOOOOO!" Talia cries as their Gear goes into a great, spinning, drill-led strike against the Hashmal. She yelps, fingers gripping the back of the seat tightly. Her feet bounce up as Ivan sends the Cuccobuster flying downward at the Guard's Golem. She grits her teeth -- but she nods, once, at what Leo says.

"I think he's going to be hard to convince," she says, softly, to her brother. Then, she grits her teeth -- and then flying stone lifts the Cuccobuster up. It assails its round body; dents, scratches, and tears are left, as the Gear is hurled backward. It flies back... bounces... and comes to a stop.

"They're running!" Talia says. She reaches her hand over -- and the Cuccobuster starts to aim its rifle again at the Hashmal. But then, from the west, a boulder flies down -- and slams into it, sending the round Gear rolling to the side. "Aaah--what was that!?"

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

Rocks explode from the west. No, 'explode' does not describe it correctly. They lift and then spin -- as if hurled by some force. Indeed, the entire area about the Calm Lands shifts. Trees sway to one side. Blades of grass sway to the same -- but turn westward. A couple of strewn boulders, turn up by the fighting, are lifted -- and then tear into the air. The Spirans here know what this means.

The movements of Sin are like water receding from a beach before a tsunami. The signs are known.

And when stones come crashing down, boulders falling from the sky and bouncing, leaving cracked earth and torn grass in their wake, even those not from Spira will know.

Sin rises from the west. Water pours off the great, whale-like creature in waterfalls and rivers, between whorled and strange patterns in its mottled flesh. The mouth parts, slowly, and a white glow is seen within. The city on its back trembles; a few stones fall free, crashing onto its back. The whale-like creature lifts from the water, fins moving fluidly in the air.

Above it and around it, devastation swirls. Water spins in great jetties, with rocks pulled away. A few trees tear out, hurtling into the maelstrom.

And Sin's mouth opens wider, and the white glow grows brighter and brighter still. There are no eyes to stare balefully; he only has that utterly alien, fearsome mien that is in no way lessoned by familiarity.

When Sin screams, it is like alien and discordant whalesong -- and yet there is a clear and dire warning in that cry.


GS: Ethius Hesiod accepts Kaguya's Wrath of the Ancients for 548 hit points!
GS: Corrode applied to Ethius Hesiod!
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

"A living sin! Now that's a new one. I like it." Layna replies with a grin. "What do you think, Dahlia?"

To that, Dahlia only frowns.

"I think you should focus on the fight in front of you, Captain. And, ideally, on ensuring the Corsair makes it out of this in one piece. Not to mention ourselves." She replies dryly.

Layna's attack concludes and...due to the rough treatment of her Gear, the right arm starts to fall apart. But, just in time, it slowly starts putting itself back together.

"Good fight there lad... good fight." Layna says. The Corsair's left arm grabs its right, holding it in place so that the auto-repair can do its job.

"Don't think I would've made it out of there without back up. Thanks for that, by the way!" She says, the latter an aside to Fei and Elly.

"Auto-repair units back online... thankfully. You cut that one close, Captain - we nearly lost the arm." Dahlia scolds to deaf ears. Layna laughs.

"Look, it's fine, right? The Corsair's gonna fix itself up and be ready for the next one. It's not like we're going to have to fight... S..." Layna starts... but is interrupted by an explosion of rocks, the shifting of the land, and the downpour of earth and water. In her cockpit, Layna sighs heavily.

"...Sin." She finishes, a little lamely, before sighing heavily. "Ah, hell."

With that she flips on the general communications.

"Move it, people! Time to get the hell outta here!" Layna shouts. Guard or Drifter, she doesn't care who hears - she's sure they're all in agreement here. "We're bailing, and you should be too! Don't be stupid!"

The Corsair is not a particularly fast Gear most of the time, but now, it runs, as fast as its legs will carry it.

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

You have left them behind now, correct?

"Ah--yes! For a while now!"

The drill-enhanced Cuccobuster carves its beak into Hashmal -- there's actually a moment's difficulty in extricating it before the burst of rock throws them to a bouncing stop.

A ride in the Cuccobuster is always quite dizzying, even with the stabilization. "Are you okay, Talia?" She's just standing loose in the cockpit...

I think he's going to be hard to convince.

"Yeah..." and yet, it feels strangely like on some level he's already there.

But the Guard starts to withdraw -- that was their secondary, and more likely goal.

There's a small sigh of relief from Ivan, before--

Boulders begin to rain down around them, and they're met with the inexplicable, terrible sight of Sin rising up before them in the midst of the ebbing battle.

Ivan watches for a speechless, horrified moment, before he sets the Cuccobuster into a high-speed, rolling retreat.

"Talia--!! Get the rockets going or anything to speed us up!!"

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius will never let that go. It seems so easy to turn a blind eye to all these little incidents that keep happening, isn't it? Whatever happened must not have been a great deal. Bad things happen to everyone, it's that kind of world(s) - and yet the man has all but fixated on this specific series of crimes to a degree that may read as beyond unreasonable.
     What is Lunar to him? He doesn't sound like he comes from any part of this world - even when his values seemed to align with Yevon's teachings. No one recognized him, his name is not a match, it's...
     Ethius tries to hold strong as the arm swings against the strike, trying to drive against it and keep it there as energy starts to charge. From his cockpit, he leans forward and clutches the respective controls tightly. (He has crossed his hands to either side to account for the handedness issue but looks no less intense for it.)
     A gentle, healing light cascades around the form of the Aiguille. He doesn't know what it is or why in the heat of the moment, but there is the Golem's mouth opening upon him, and within... he does all he can, which is to say, almost nothing.
     The three nearby are in mortal danger. To move aside is to preserve himself, but in some ways, Yuna and her entourage are likely the last untouched hopes of this land whose will remain their own.
     So he does not move. He steels himself, drawing away his hands to perform the Symbological cast for the Quantum Repulsor. He could survive a hit at distance. He's point blank to that horrid beam of energy.
     The paint job starts evaporating even before it fires, and when it goes off...
     The sparkling of curative energies from before - from Yuna - flare up to catch. The Aiguille is physically thrown off and carried with the beam and Ethius loses all sense of the local environment. He hides his gaze behind his forearms because it is just too bright...
     ...But the machine 'lands' in a crouch, and the back-sliding ceases. The curative energies have dissipated in their entirety, leaving only the quiet hum of sizzling smoke. Miraculously, at least one external view is available, and he has diagnostics there. The machine... should not have survived that.
     He sees Yuna, Tidus, and Paine below, and it strikes him in a quiet, humbling moment. He didn't save them from anything.
     It is the other way around, from when he deflected a grenade away from her so long ago.
     Yuna saved him.
     A humbling moment in which the man who says too little for anyone's taste is reduced to speechlessness, and also because his heart is pounding. Then something comes up, and his heart doesn't get to stop pounding.
     Sin appears. That means only one thing. He has only one chance.
     ...If Yuna and her group do not have a means of escape in time, he knows he still has the dash jets functional. He shakes his head, puts that single-minded drive of his back in the game, and is able to get this communication out.
     "With me," Ethius says as he lowers an open hand of the Aiguille, having it drag against the ground. The other holds a now damaged rifle-staff who will need a few segments of it replaced (not cheap, but not that hard to find). He's going to start moving in the direction of Yuna, Tidus, and Paine if the timing might prove too tight for a successful Summon to get them out of there.
     It's more than the least he can do after what happened.

<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    The great eruption knocks both Skadi and the Cuccobuster away from Hashmal, giving Leo some breathing room. He needs it. His machine has been severely damaged, perhaps even crippled--with its arms hanging useless, all he has to defend himself with is his sorcery, amplified by the Golem's systems. The exertion from that is going to stick with him for hours.

    When Kaguya moves to retreat, it's like a weight lifts off his shoulders. "(Go!)" Leo transmits. "(I'll keep them occupied!)"

    Hashmal's eyes begin to glow as it steps backwards. Leo is so focused on the opponents before him that he doesn't immediately notice a few crucial warning signs. Warning signs informed by data collected by Kaguya. What, he thinks, when he finally sees them, is a gravitational anomaly?

    Sin breaches.

    Leo's eyes grow wide as saucers. His jaw drops. No, he thinks. No. All those warnings about ancient technology, and--and--

    Leo doesn't finish the thought. Sin does not speak--should not speak--but it seems to warn them nevertheless. "Althena protect us," Leo whispers, even though Althena didn't protect them at Mi'ihen, did She?

    A brilliant white light rises from Hashmal as Leo pours what power he has left into the White Dragon Crest. Its protective aura washes across the battlefield, bathing friend and foe alike in radiance. There's no way it could stop a direct hit from Sin, or even a glancing one. Leo has to try, anyway.

    Only once that is done does Hashmal quit the field, following Kaguya and Day with all due haste.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei exhales out slowly as the Evalach falls back. "Seems like you're yielding after all. Not that I blame you. I didn't even get mad yet." Weltall straightens up and Fei takes a moment to compose and center himself. And that's when it comes.


Id sees it. He sees the Clysmian through Fei's eyes. Without his gear, without his gear he remembers fear. that's the key phrase. Without his gear... he remembers fear. He calls for Weltall, he calls for it repeatedly but it can't break through the atmosphere. Not even Weltall-Id can escape Filgaia. Instead Fei gives up and prepares to die. He holds Ruby close and runs down the lighthouse wall. The moment he accepts his demise he feels an intense calm passing through him. If he can just protect Ruby, he knows, then he wouldn't feel bad about this death and so he would likely never remember it.


Fei does not run immediately. He looks at Sin, feeling like it's calling him in this moment, assuring him that if he leaps into its mouth... he would never have to feel pain again. He could just die and be done with it. An excited pounding bursts in his chest. Weltall takes a step towards Sin as if something something is pushing Fei onward. Walking towards Sin. Nobody can see it, but Fei...despite the terror...despite everything is smiling. He's shaking. He's so terrified he wants to run run run away from here. But he's walking towards Sin not away from it.


A small boy with a ball, happily passes the ball to his mother. His mother passes it back. Each pass is immeasurably slow but there is no time. You can almost miss the rictus grin smiling at the small boy. You can almost miss the skulls in her eyes.


"Elly..." Fei says. "I'm so scared I can't even move. But my hands won't stop shakin' on the control sticks. They're telling me I can finally..."

Weltall takes another step.

But then it stops as if frozen.

Weltall stops. Electricity crackles across its form vibrantly and explosively as the sand underneath its feet burns to molten glass.

Fei thinks he sees it. He sees Lahan. He sees fire. He sees peace but now? Now he can't move his hands. He lets out a pained, anguished scream.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLwSXutxwmU&ab_channel=rashadbeckham

Weltall twists in on itself, its blue form flashing into a vibrant red as fuelflame forms blazing wings. The true form of Weltall takes step after step towards Sin as if accepting a battle that is to come.

It crouches down, wholly intent on charging the civilization destroying whale with its own civilization destroying power.

Who would win in that sort of battle? Would Sin's nigh indestructability come out on top? It's almost infinite reserve of grotesque monstrosities fueling its mindless armies? Or would the Demon of Elru, a beast fueled by that very same conceit of endles death and destruction, always looking for more blood to spill, reveling in it as the only thing that calms the unending psychic torment detonating in his skull? Id feels compelled to tear apart that endless cycle before him. He feels, strangely, like it is his duty. He feels he has found purpose.

The answer, of course, is obvious. Nobody wins if that battle occurs and it almost happens today. Not because of hatred or rage but because of a strange sense of obligation.

And then he sees it, in the rear view cameras. The Vierge, and even cosmic obligation fades away into nothing, as weak and meaningless as it has always been.

Weltall-Id barely hesitates a moment, turning around instead, its back to Sin, as it rushes towards the Vierge...

...Picks it up gently in its arms...

...and in a burst of speedd rockets away from Sin at gear speeds best described as troubling.

It's out of sight in an instant.

<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

Yuna, free of infection, is able to smile a little at Tidus' pun and Paine's own playfully morbid attitude; is able to be awed by the sorcerous might the former has discovered, down in the Shrine Lefay, and the bladework of the latter that she herself is still discovering the nuances of. There's so much about Paine she doesn't even know she doesn't know.

She wants to know more of her.

If only there were time...

Kaguya, too.

She hears the other girls lies and she hears her truths also, spoken and unspoken. The immense beam of unholy energy that lances out towards Ethius' Gear brings a new layer of horror to the moment -- the backblast knocks her down, right onto her butt, in the middle of the battlefield, this the price of being only human amid a clash of titans.

"I won't go," Yuna gasps in reply, from her knees, halfway back onto her feet. "It isn't too late... Kaguya."

And then Sin approaches.

Yuna isn't even surprised -- which is distinct from the many other feelings Sin elicits in her by definition, not least of which is looking upon her fated enemy, her own imminent demise. But surprised; no. It makes sense. A thousand years since this sort of conflict... a conflict Sin exists to prevent. To make so costly, so pointless, that investing resources in this kind of destructive power is simply impossible when mere survival requires so much.

Everything here... is about to be gone, forever.


Once upon a time, a young summoner wrenched against the vicelike grip of -- not her Guardian, and not yet her fiancee, but her Maester.

"I HAVE TO GO!" Yuna screamed at Seymour, as Sin took in reality and reality took a deep breath, the last quiet moment before atrocity. "I MUST DO SOMETHING!"


Yuna expends a small, quiet moment, one of those where she gets to learn that she isn't who she used to be. She feels no passion as regards the prevention of what's about to happen. There is no army here; no innocents either; the Calm Lands is the Calm Lands, the place where there is space for this kind of thing.

(Quietly, some part of her mourns the chocobos about to die. Not all of them. But even one... she'd already decided she'd rather fight Sin over the sea, or something, rather than ruin this beautiful green place with something as ugly as Sin's defeat and her own demise.)

There ARE human victims. The combatants, now the condemned. If they don't leave... but they're uniquely able to do so, in their magical, technical, monstrous powered weapons. They can just go, and they're already beginning to. That's the magic of Sin, writ large in how it makes everything else so very, very small in comparison.

This is not their time, hers and Sin's. She knows that now, bone-deep, in a way she didn't know it then, at Mi'ihen.

But she knows something else, too.

Kaguya's silence -- Kaguya's hesitation -- is silent in her heart, where beating should be.

The two of them... are so alike, sometimes.

Rushing towards the foot again -- towards Tidus and Paine also -- she blows past them, exhorting, "Go with Ethius!"

Then she leaps back on the brass, poisonous golem with all four limbs extended, grabbing at anything, everything. Wires, rims. It is a full-body grip. And, in a way, a full-body embrace... of a giant's big toe...


She doesn't tell Kaguya that she can't win; that she'd die for nothing. She knows all too well that that doesn't matter right now.

It isn't enough to just... not die right this minute.

She needs a reason -- a responsibility -- to live.

"I don't have time to summon a ride!" This is true; she hasn't had time to summon at all, not since they stumbled into the first footprint of the fight. The chaos and terror of being on foot in a mecha fight is also surprisingly FAST PACED. The cutscene wouldn't be half over before she was just... vaporized. And now that's triply true, with Sin's charge. "I'm on your foot -- you're my only chance -- PLEASE, escape, Kaguya!"

Of course -- she COULD have gone to Ethius. But now it's too late for even that.

Yuna's wasted as a summoner. What a natural Gambler class she is.

But she'll bet her life in an instant, to keep Kaguya from wasting hers...

...and her faith in Kaguya's doing the right thing is total, her Guardians can see her expression, the fierceness of her faith...

...maybe that isn't so different from a summoner's path, after all...


Truth and lies. Integrity and hypocrisy. Light and shadow...

Yuna and Kaguya. Kaguya and Yuna, both...

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

YOU RUN TOO! comes an exasperated shout from Ivan within the Cuccobuster as Leo lingers to cast some manner of protective shield around the battlefield before departing.

But chicken rolls onward, with no time to stop and see if Leo has complied.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    Her blade cuts deeply this time. Within the Skadi's cockpit, none can see the way her eyes widen, just for the moment. Indeed -- to defend Bevelle, it may become necessary to kill. No. It will be necessary, if this war is to be ended.

    If any of these conflicts are to be ended, murmurs that thing in the dark corners of her mind. Even if those she strikes down are her own people.

    Even... Kaguya.

    She cannot afford to hold back, even if a part of her heart rebels at the thought. She is, after all--

    She hauls on her own blade; it comes free from the struggling Hashmal (good, she thinks, in spite of what her mind knows; he's still alive) with a lurch that sees her Gear stumbling backwards from the forces involved. Kaguya made the Golem well and it did not relinquish her blade easily.

    One of the other Golems is damaged, she realizes. Her gaze within the cockpit flicks back to Leo's Hashmal -- to those runes. The earth shudders with the force invoked.

    With her fuel low, to take flight again would dwindle her reserves to the point where a retreat -- if necessary -- would become nearly impossible. A retreat.
    Yes. She'd promised.

    And so she does all that she can: she uses the massive blade as a makeshift shield against the rising tide of stone. It can only shield her from so much: some of it sprays past her guard and punctures her Gear's shielding. But nothing vital. Her reserves remain.

    "Talia! Ivan! Let us continue at this pace! We should--"

    It's not so much a sense of something foul as much as it's a terrible frission that cuts her to the quick. Something isn't right. Something's coming.
    Something's here.

    "Be... careful," she utters, as the waves peel back from the shore.

    She knows by now what that means.


    But there is no denying Sin.

    She -- her Gear -- is already pulling back, blade gripped tightly in both hands. "Ivan! Talia! We cannot fight it! We must run!"

    She'd made a promise, after all. She never breaks a promise.

<Pose Tracker> Tidus has posed.

    Kaguya challenges Tidus to tell the people of Bevelle to surrender and THEN she'll put the giant death machines anyway. Tidus snorts, conveying succinctly what he thinks of that. Even so, he still shouts, "You've already pretty much won this war! D'you really have to be such a big bully that you have to threaten people with death machines to get them to surrender?!"
    But it sounds like Yuna's words have struck a far greater chord in the Golem's pilot, rendering her a stammering mess whose only retort is to tell them to shut up. Tidus smiles--not mockingly, at Kaguya, but with pride, at Yuna. She's always so *sincere*, and she always manages to make it through to the other person's heart... It amazes him, really, how she always gets him to fall for her all over again, just by being herself.
    "*Yeah*, now!" he meanwhile shoots back when Kaguya gets offended by puns. But before either of them can say anything else, rocks tumble--then float, then crash--at a near distance. Tidus has seen that kind of movement before, long ago, when he and Yuna and the others first came to Kilika. His heart races.
    Yevon has it that Sin first appeared because of a great war of machina. He doesn't know how much of that is really true, but if even a drop of it is, then no wonder Sin appeared here.
    "Yuna!!" he shouts, whipping towards the young Summoner. But she yells back for him and Paine to go with Ethius. Ethius is indeed already approaching in his machina to help cover them, to pick them up and get them out of here before Sin can unleash its ungodly attack. And then she gets back of Kaguya's Golem's foot.
    Tidus hesitates. Then he nods. "I'll see you again soon!" he shouts, scrambling to get onto Ethius's machine. He sheathes his sword and holds out a hand to help Paine up if she needs it. "C'mon, we gotta get out've here! One less thing for Yuna to worry about!"
    Whether Paine accepts his help or not, Tidus will look back to the woman he loves as she convinces their foe that she must live. That *both* of them must live.
    He knows she'll convince her. She's got to.

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

"Yes!" Talia answers Avril. "I agree! We are definitely leaving, definitely leaving now!" She looks down at her hand; it's shaking. She saw Azado destroyed; she witnessed the way that Sin shattered the city. Her fingers tremble sharper than she'd care to admit.

She is pale. She is listening, but her body takes a second to move.

"Got it," Talia says, then repeats in a panic, "Got it!"

She reaches over her brother's shoulder and slides the throttle forward. The rockets fire again -- and the twins both get shoved backward by the sheer force of it. They fire, sending the Cuccobuster hurtling away from Sin. The great thrusters on the back of the round Gear send it hurtling high into the sky.

"Kyaaaaah!" she cries out. "Th-this seems like a lot of speed...!"

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

The arrival of Sin. Not, perhaps, wholly unexpected, given the nature and the scale of this battle. Elly breathes unsteadily: preparing perhaps to encourage the others to get the hell out of here. (I'm terrified at it in a Gear, Elly thinks. How could any of the Summoners face Sin *on their bare feet*?)

"Fei," Elly says -

- but Vierge's signalling gear makes it a crackle that absorbs another sentence. What did Elly say exactly? She won't remember, herself. The AERODS return from their mission, the silver spikes of animum ether offense innocent of these matters.

Weltall begins to change. Elly watches and --

-- the OS crashes.

Long seconds happen during which Elly is stuck in the cockpit, alone and isolated, almost entirely in the dark save for several computer screens. Many Gear pilots perish or are at least defeated in these moments, but Elly at least knows how to force a reboot. It happens to her with a cold and slippery sensation of imminent dread because that glimpse of red made it clear to her what might just be happening, out there.

She knows, somehow. Not exactly, but in its essence. But for a few moments she is in the dark, and the prospect of forcing the cockpit hatch open - to escape into the Calm Lands - is not one that she wishes to consider too closely...

And then the Vierge shifts, and rattles, and Elly screams out, covering her face with her arms. It's coming for her, it's going to finish what it did in Azado, and --


The camera opens up, the view spreading out like unfurling wings. Weltall. A blue sky with a few clouds past Weltall's head.

Elly sags back into the cushioning of the seat. It is the pure and distilled relief of a narrowly averted collision. She can have clearer thoughts later, but for now: They're alive, and from the way those clouds are moving...

Elly glances at the speed figure, but at this point it is already decelerating. "... a glitch, or..."

<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

What thrusters still work are enough for Evalach to withdraw back into the Guard's ranks before finally giving out. Day brings the Gear down into a crouched position before kicking the cockpit open. A puff of smoke precedes him as he leans out, giving he and Vess a breath of fresh air.

"Are you alright?" It shouldn't be Vess doing the asking. She delicately rests a hand on Day's shoulder, leaning to one side of him to try and look into his face. "Day...."

"I'm fine," Day answers instinctively. He holds that facade for approximately five and a half seconds.

The weight of his thoughts is too much. He hangs his head and scowls bleakly, less at Vess than at himself. His soft blond hair hangs in his eyes as he rests one hand on the rim of the cockpit hatch and grips it hard enough that his knuckles begin to whiten.

Vess bites her lower lip before moving a hand to rest over Day's. "Day... you're so hard on yourself. What happened wasn't your fau-"

Day interrupts her by jerking his hand away and looking up towards the horizon, away from the Wind Seraph. Vess opens her mouth a little, then withdraws her hand, clasping it with her opposite. She dips her chin, a quiet sadness behind her eyes.

The hurt silence drapes over Evalach like a blanket. It's thick enough that not even a knife could slice through it.

A rock can. A few stones ping off of Evalach's armour. "Don't tell me they still want to fight," Day mutters as he reaches for his cockpit hatch, craning to try and see what's coming. "Vess, get back in the--"

The shadow of Sin falls over the occasion. Day stares up at the giant doom whale with utter disbelief. His lower lip steadily falls further and further as colour steadily floods from his cheeks.

"VESS GET OUT OF THE GEAR," he shouts, before the screech of the Clysmian of Obsession blasts all semblance of hearing out of existence.

There's no way in hell Evalach's got enough left in its tank to run from Sin under its own power. Day and Vess scramble down the robot as fast as humanly possible - the Wind Seraph's powers help more than a little. Relinquishing the damaged Gear to a generic Golem, the pair transfer to something less damaged: Day's warhorse.

It takes surprisingly little time before Day's charging right the hell away from Sin, Vess clinging to him as she rides on the back of the saddle. Day throws a look over his shoulder before hoisting his ram warhorn and blowing a long, urgent note.

"RETREAT!" he shouts, voice penetrating. "RETREAT IMMEDIATELY!"

It doesn't even occur to Day to just stay in the robot and let the techs carry him to safety. He has to do something to help, even if it's just rallying the knights and getting everyone moving in the right direction: Away, rapidly.

He has to do something positive. Something to make things right.

<Pose Tracker> Paine has posed.

Paine slowly lowers her sword. A coward, yes. Twice to live when better Spirans died. Her blade hand trembles, and she places the other atop it. But it is not her blade hand that quakes, it is Paine herself, from black toes to white hair.


She would say, 'at such a bad time.' But it does not matter how much might is arrayed at once. They are not even prey to Sin.

Paine's eyes flash to Yuna. Even Paine expects her courage to fail in this moment, and shame pulses in her chest.

And yet, who says she has to turn her back to Yuna? Survival is not the master of her anymore. Failure expected does not arrive. Indeed, she takes a step forward.

"Go with Ethius!" Yuna says.

And two steps back.

Tidus decides the matter. Paine needed a tiebreaking vote on whether Yuna was insane or not, and now it's 2-1. With a vehement curse, she runs after Tidus, scooping up her gun with her cloak as she goes. When he offers her a hand up, she leaps to grasp it, struggling with her legs and free arm to drag herself up as well. Flopping down, she shakes her head, embittered.

"There's only one thing she needs to worry about regardless," she answers Tidus, belatedly. "And it's going to kill her."

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

Ethius won't let go. Not unless he's forced. And Kaguya almost has the chance to force it, her form rippling in the cockpit for an instant as she lets that feeling flood through her. ...But only an instant; it's not enough. Kaguya sees that her beam knocked Ethius backward, knocked his Aiguille far away, but with Yuna's magic, it is perhaps not whole but is un-destroyed, Kaguya's enemy still alive. ...So Yuna stops her from something she might--might--have regretted. If only for those who do care. And yet...

Tidus has words back for her. Worse than his logic, though, is that pun. But his logic isn't great, either. Paine has no words for her. But she hasn't yet. ...Yuna, though.

"It's too late," Kaguya answers Yuna, still crying in her terrible Golem's cockpit. "It's--"

Sin comes. Sin comes, and the blast is already forming. What will happen is utter devastation, one way or another. There is no option. It's time--

"E-everyone! Guard, fall back! Leave this--" She wants to say it. To her. She starts to say it; this is the whole reason the Golems exist, even if they're already damaged, the entire purpose for which she designed them and helped them to be built. Everything--Everything will be worth it if only--

Kaguya starts to turn her great Golem towards the monstrosity ahead. The barest movement begins, pistons firing, steam releasing from joints--but she stops, short, as Yuna starts to call at her. She recognizes in an instant that Yuna is on her Golem.

"What!?" Kaguya calls back, shocked. "No! I have to fight Sin! I--I have to--This whole stupid war is--"

Yuna doesn't have time. Kaguya's her only chance. Now, after all of this, there is someone who she can save, someone who relies on her. Kaguya's need for this to be worth it--her thirst for destruction--her utter loathing of where this has taken her--want to propel her onward, to face Sin. She sees, too--the Demon of Elru is here. With her Golems, with the power of Id, they could--they could maybe--


Kaguya stops the turn of her Golem suddenly and sullenly. There is no time to stare anymore at Sin, no time to hold in place and think about it. She's already taken up all the time that she can, so with a scream of frustration, Kaguya forces the Golem to turn the other direction instead.

"You'd better hang on!" A barrier springs up around the Golem, partially shielding Yuna from the great winds of motion. As she focuses on the spell, Kaguya shouts through Cuchulainn's many speakers at Yuna, but perhaps the feeling in the magic is more important than the words. The words are harsh. ...The feeling is harsh, too. The magic, alien.

She punches the speed up to start flying Cuchulainn away. She can't help but understand, on one level, what's happening. Yuna said 'we', after all. But her mind is fractured, her eyes sore, her body sore.

She hates it.

<Pose Tracker> Sin has posed.

The only saving grace of Giga-Graviton is that it takes quite a long time to prepare. There is time for defenses -- the aura of the White Dragon chief among them. There is time to flee, Gears scattering.

When the blast comes, it is titanic. A wave of gravitational force that pulverizes stone, grass, tree, and dirt into so much dust in seconds. It explodes out in recursive shockwaves, blasting up into the sky, as it shoots up behind the lot of the fleeing individuals. Guard soldiers, Guardians, Gears, and Golems alike run -- and being away from the main force of the Giga-Graviton does not mean safety.

Far from it.

Stone and dirt rain down. Boulders fall from the sky like rain drops. They smash down into the ground below, sending up their own bursts of dirt and dust. Clouds of debris engulf them -- some Gears are swallowed whole in dirt, and emerge coated in dust not a moment later.

The blast fades after a moment. There is a new scar on the Calm Lands then -- and yet like so many others. Flattened, stripped down to the soil and bedrock in places, and trees turned over. It is a reminder of why these flat plains have their shape.

Sin hovers for a moment... and then begins to sink back into the waves.