Difference between revisions of "2019-06-22: Trisection"

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(Created page with "*'''Log: Trisection''' *'''Cast:''' Character :: Seymour Guado, Character :: Kaguya Alathfar, Character :: White Knight Leo, Character :: Lunata Croze, Chara...")
 
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Latest revision as of 21:59, 18 May 2020


<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

LUCA -- SEAWALL

The city of Luca, one of Spira's largest and oldest, has won its position in history through architecture. The Blitzball Stadium may be what people know best, but it is a tremendous seawall that makes life in Luca possible. Standing some thirty feet high and ten feet thick, this massive stone wall has held back countless storms, the tidal waves of Sin, and more than one invasion.

However, the walls are undermanned. The Crusaders, prior to Operation Mi'ihen, undertook the task of protecting Luca from invaders -- who, traditionally though not always, were fiends. Now, it is a mixture of Warrior Monks, a few scattered ex-Crusaders, and Drifters hired on as mercenaries.

Maester Seymour returned to Luca to check on its status, and spend some time there before everything went to pot. Now, everything goes to pot. On the walls, a few cries have began to echo out:

"Sails, on the horizon!"
"Coming from the South..."
"...from Kilika!"

Biggs Guado turns on the wall, after hearing that. The tall, sword and shield-bearing Guado Guardian looks down a flight of steps -- which Seymour Guado, followed by Wedge Guado, start up. "Maester Seymour," he says. "It looks like the Otherworlders have gotten a fool notion in their head."

"So it seems..." Seymour remarks, as he walks to the battlement. He looks out -- over the port district and docks, below the seawall -- and then over the oceans beyond that. On the horizon, sail after sail appears: over two dozen ships, making a line of white across the horizon.

A greater fleet than Seymour has ever seen. The age of Sin does not allow for many fleets. He feels his breath catch. "By Yevon..."

"MAN YOUR POSTS!" Wedge shouts, bellowing out his orders in a deep, basso voice. "LOOK ALIVE! Ready the ballista, and prepare the docks for battle!"

OOC: Welcome to the Battle of Luca! This scene will be fought on the docks, the top of the seawall, and on the ships in the harbor. In the first round, you are welcome to pose arriving on the docks (either jumping over from the Guard's ships or down to the docks), and start fighting!

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

There is a darkness in the sea, a great shadow visible barely beneath the waves. At first, it looks like merely a trick of the light, a shape cast by the silhouette of Luca itself...

Until it shifts.

Amdist the ships appearing before the wall, something churns the waters outside of Luca, white foam erupting from the movement of a titanic form. All Spira knows the kind of fear that comes from that which might swim beneath.

...But it is not Sin's head that crests the water. It is something stranger, something that shines of burnished bronze, a strange curved surface. Rising higher, a crown appears from beneath the water, and then it a pair of great, terrible glowing gold,eyes. In moments, with the cadence of great steps, the form begins to make sense.

A terrible broad head made of awful metal, marked by a broad, toothy smile sculpted carefully to turn ore and metal into teeth and fear, and studded in crown and mouth both are the barrels of terrible weaponry.

Towards the seawall it steps, of broad shoulder and broader chest, in the shape of an ogre writ large; its titanic size dwarfs even great ships, and even while it is partly underwater its incredible size is obvious. Its full height with crown must rise to nearly twenty-one sharls, greater even than most conventional Gears by far on Filgaia.

...But this is not a thing of Filgaia.

Suddenly, a terrible voice crackles out, in the air and over any radio currently active. "City of Luca. This is the pilot of Golem Cúchulainn. The forces of the Goddess Althena claim your city. You are welcome to surrender."

"...But we assume you won't. Heh heh."

The voice is that of a girl of perhaps twenty at the very most, distorted somewhat but recognizeable to those who may not have heard from her since before Azado. But a voice is the least of anyone's concerns in the next moment.

Because Golem Cúchulainn's terrible mouth opens, its gigantic arms spreading to gather focus--and then the monstrosity vomits forth a beam of horrific green light that engulfs an entire group of armed warrior monks preparing for the battle with a roar that echoes for miles.

DC: Kaguya Alathfar switches forms to Golem Cúchulainn - The Impure!
DC: Marivel Armitage switches forms to Beware of UV Rays!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    The Dragonship Destiny cuts across the waves, raising plumes of spray in its wake. It's at the very head of the Guard fleet--the spear-point of the invasion force--and atop its bow is White Knight Leo. He puts a hand to his brow, and inspects the fortifications with a general's eye. Luca was built to withstand catastrophe, and it shows. It's going to take a massive show of force to crack through the breakwall, and allow the Guard's troops to land. It's going to take precision to do so without risking a flood that could drown half the city.

    Leo looks back, and cups a hand to his mouth. "Prepare secondary armament!" he says, shouting so that the amidships signaler can hear him over the roar of the waves. "Porthos, you have command!" The White Knight unsheathes his blade, and holds it to the sky like a gleaming beacon. The earth trembles. Waves crash against the breakwall.

    "ARISE, GOLEM!"

    Leo leaps. The sea stretches out beneath him, roiling and surging--

    Something erupts from the bay. A wall of water rushes outwards, rocking the Guard's ships and battering the Luca breakwall; beyond it, a massive metal figure rises above the waves, White Knight Leo held securely in its cupped hand. The harbor, deep as it is, only comes up to mid-thigh. It's all gold and steel, its armor fluted like the elaborate regalia worn by Pentagulian honor guards--its helm is leonine, with gleaming blue eyes and a carved golden mane. The symbol of Althena gleams on the tabard-like armor protecting its chest.

    The Golem lifts its hand to its chest. Armor plates separate with a hiss, and part of the Symbol of Althena slides aside, revealing a blue glow from deep within the Golem. Leo clambers into the newly-opened entrance, and the machine seals shut behind him. The cockpit inside reminds him, vaguely, of the Gear he retrieved from an Aveh sandcruiser a year and a half ago--the machine that Neo-Vane took apart to learn how to build something like this. A plush, metal-framed chair sits before him, surrounded by a mixture of mechanical and magitech controls. Liquid, magical crystal rolls down the wall behind him, reforming a perfect panoramic display. Leo seats himself on his golden throne. The air around him shimmers--glimmering blue bands snap into being around his chest, waist, and legs, securing him in place.

    Leo closes his eyes, and lets out a breath. Sorcerous glyphs ignite in the air around him, burning before his eyes. The weight of the machine around him settles onto his shoulders. Its hands are his hands. Its eyes are his eyes. White Knight Leo sets a foot down, and the pedal beneath it reads the motion, relaying it to the machine.

    The Golem takes a single, implacable step towards the pier, the sea surging around it. It takes another step, and the impact of its footfall can be felt atop the breakwall, across the docks--across half the city of Luca.

                     Golem Hashmal - The Bringer of Order

    Golem Hashmal takes a third, thunderous step, and the earth answers it, splitting wide open. Water falls into the crevice with a thunderous roar. Sone of the breakwall stonework begins to crumble. The chasm slams shut as quickly as it opened, spitting a tidal wave directly at the city's fortifications. Hashmal thrusts a hand out, palm open. A wave of jagged stone spikes follows, slamming into the breakwall with a terrible sound.

DC: White Knight Leo switches forms to Golem Hashmal - The Bringer of Order!
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    Life comes at Lunata Croze pretty fast.

    Just a month and change ago she decided to run away from the ongoing war the Drifters are engaging in to study and follow the ascetic tradition of the Yevon religion in the hopes that it may have some answers to life after undeath. Unfortunately, as it turns out, both the Sending (which really smarted) and the Farplane (which felt like sticking a vacuum cleaner to her face)...

    ... they demanded a soul, which was exactly what was missing out of the recepticle on her personage somehow.

    And in exchange for this? She gets to join an ongoing war of a different flavour!!

    Her life has been spent organising the estranged Crusaders and finding homes and other places for them, despite her allegiance with Yevon -- and she's spent some time organising the personnel in Kilika too, to try to locate them after they got ousted from their Temple. And now...

    She's standing next to Seymour, still wearing the Yggdrasil Alliance jacket as she looks on and listens to Biggs and Wedge's comments. There's a dour look on her face.

    "The Guard, huh..." Lunata mumbles. "Wonder if this is how Adlehyde would've wound up too."

    Her expression dims as something, something makes its way through the ocean. Her lips purse.

    "Oh... that's..."

    The Golem of bronze with eyes of gold emerges. A head made of metal, a toothy smile...

    "That's..."

    She hears that voice. It's vaguely familiar. She's not sure. 'Pilot'. 'Golem'. And what's more-- a second one emerges. The pilot doesn't speak, but its power is just as tremendous.

    Lunata immediately takes out a box and begins mashing on a bright red button marked Call Gear.

    FILGAIA

    Franz the Dolphin is standing in front of the Rephaim.

    "Lunata... wherever you are, I hope you're safe," he murmurs, shaking his head.

    He nearly loses his lunch when the Rephaim's eyes glow gold and it looks up towards the ceiling.

    "Oh no, oh no, are we about to--"

    A nearby technician eagerly waits by a calendar marked 'DAYS SINCE UNAUTHORISED LAUNCH', which is in the 50s at this point.

    The Rephaim's eyes dim.

    LUNAR, LUCA

    Lunata keeps mashing. Nothing happens.

    "Gosh fudging darn stupid useless hooey pattootie of a button!!" Lunata swears at the peak of her limit, chucking it onto the floor.

<Pose Tracker> Amaterasu has posed.

    Boots land with a click of heels upon the dock in the space that follows the beam and subsequent obliteration of the Warrior Monks. The figure that has landed gazes out to the sea for a moment, her long golden hair caught in the breeze.

    With something that approaches approval, she regards both Golems, then turns to face the remainder here gathered. "Surrender, and you will go unscathed. Fight, and you will die." As it to underscore the last, she draws and swings overhand a rapidly telescoping polearm. A blade, formed of hard light, erupts from one end.

    There is but one last look anyone will get of the woman's icy emerald eyes before the faceplate slams into place and begins to glow an unearthly green.

    Amaterasu takes one slow measured step forward, her weapon held at the ready--

    Which serves her well when one remaining man here takes a run at the commando.
    He's felled in a single stroke. Just as she always told Kaguya: use as few attacks as possible in an engagement.
    Finish fights as swiftly as you can.

    To do otherwise is... improper.

    "Let's take the next step now, Ka-ya," she murmurs to the sea breeze alone. "Let's finish this."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    There is an 'Al Bhed' skulking around the docks.
     The quotation marks are important - the attention of detail to the clothing is exacting and correct. He would pass for it at a glance... but his skin color is too dark, and his hair much too pale. That he would continue to do this invites no shortage of sideglances, mockery, indignation (of the morally righteous sort for the circumstances), and occasionally even physical harm.
     This has not dissuaded him from continuing to do this, because this man's memories are such a scattered mess that it's become questionable as to whether he can even commit this to memory. He is in the middle of being accosted by a few irate dock workers, even shoved about a few times. He does not put up much effort in fighting back - and then there's shouts about an oncoming fleet of ships from Kilika. The odd man out is physically shoved away with a punch to his upper back as the dock workers are all but deer in headlights looking at all this coming.
     The odd man stands at attention as he catches sight of something in the sea - a tinge of darkness, of that size. Against all common sense, he follows behind them discreetly...
     "Is that Sin...?" One dock worker's mouth is agape. What breaks the water...
     TWO THINGS break the water. The closer one is of bronze, of a toothy smile. Their instinct tells them to flee. Their fascination with something unfamiliar keeps them transfixed.
     Announcements are made. Warrior monks rush by, and Golem Cúchulainn starts to charge their weapon...
     The 'Al Bhed' follows after, as the dock workers just stand there like fools.
     "Sinspawn," the 'Al Bhed' dares to defy the indentification. Just as the 'Al Bhed' comes within arm's reach, that's all the impetus the dock workers need to act again.
     They act by throwing this 'Al Bhed' in front of them like a bullet shield, and running - sacrificing them, in an act of cowardice and self-preservation. The 'Al Bhed' throws an arm inward and slurs some syllables together. They are not in the direct path of the green laser, but their positioning is as such that standing where they are is of mortal danger. Electrical energy loudly and brightly discharges as the wave of energy trailing off from the main blast washes over the 'Al Bhed,' who holds firm even through the blistering heat of being near by proxy...
     And runs towards it... on foot. Outgunned, outmatched. That Golem just vaporized some of Yevon's finest. They move without even the faintest iota of hesitation, across structurally compromised ground. They draw their quarterstaff weapon - a faintly evil-looking thing with one inset of eight filled with something - and the sound of the butt of the weapon slamming against the ground echoes across the dock. It is held upright like a walking stick in their left hand, for the moment.
     Their free hand flutters as they hurriedly chant a potent heat spell, attempting to line it up from where the beam fires from. The brightness of the beam obscures a closer look at the internals - the 'Al Bhed' has to make an educated guess. It's all they have, to try and slow down the Golem's ability to fire that beam again.
     "Combustion," sorcerous lights surround them as they finish the spell. Somewhere on the Golem around where the beam fires from, an explosion spontaneously fills a space. The best case scenario is that heat damage will slow its offensive capabilities down, force it to take a bit of extra time to cool and be ready again.

GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Combustion!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

???

Morning dawned on the Armitage household when there came a knocking. But the knocking was not on the castle gate or even a door. The knocking was against her coffin.

Marivel hadn't even slept yet. She was hoping to get some reading done before ultimately passing out around 6 AM. The last thing she wanted to do was deal with a vampire hunter this late in the morning. She lay very still in her coffin with the hope that the hunter would give up and go away.

And it seemed to work. The knocking stopped for a while and the sounds of footsteps headed away from her room. Marivel closed her eyes.

Not long enough passed before...

CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG

"GOOD MORNING MARIVEL IT'S TIME FOR CLASS!"

CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG

Marivel jolted up, banged her head against the roof of her own coffin, threw back the lid and said, "Who dares awaken Marivel Armitage, Princess of Blood?!" with her fangs bared.

Standing over her was Anastasia holding a pan and ladle, the latter of which she was slamming against the former repeatedly. They were from the castle itself so she must have gone all the way to the kitchen in order to fetch it. One foot was raised up and resting on the side of her coffin.

"I dare to awaken Marivel Armitage, Princess of Blood, because she is late for school!" Anastasia said, banging the pan once more for effect.

NOW

Marivel opens her eyes. She can already smell the blood in the air, the sudden dispersal of souls that accompanies death. It's a smell that focuses Marivel from the sad pleasant memory she was dwelling in but as promised to Auron, Marivel is very good at remembering. The memories aren't dispersed, they simply keep filling her head even as her focused mind is diverted to the situation at hand. The war has begun.

She does not rush to the field. Instead she looks out over the ocean from the warehouse she has been renting for ARMS's more 'discretion needing' inventory. She looks at the ships. She looks at the golems.

Yes, Marivel is good at remembering things, and she remembers golems too. Her eyes narrow faintly.

She remembers thtat voice too.

She stretches out her arms from side to side and says, "This is not our war..." She exhales slowly, closing her eyes again. She is always patient before moving into violence though once she has settled on doing so, she moves in less than an instant. "But..."

Yuna's first smile in the presence of Otherworlders is a small one, made so by stress and exhaustion

"...But tis my war, isn't it?"

Marivel vanishes. And when she reappears she stands in front of Cuchulainn as if she weren't staring down a giant robot that could so much as squash her with a casual stomp but the seriousness in her eyes indicates that despite the seemingly reckless placement of her body, she is taking this situation with upmost seriousness.

"Is this your answer Kaguya? Tis not an inspiring start." It should be it's a friggin' golem army on Lunar, but Marivel has her own standards and beliefs as to what counts as inspiring.

And she gestures with a hand, sending a wave of shadow rippling up from underneath the golem that tries to crawl up its form and slow its approach. It's a giant golem, of course, so it's mostly going to be a frustrating gesture, one designed perhaps to discourage Kaguya from annihilating any more squadrons of men who may or may not matter.

Amaterasu makes her own threat and Marivel manages a faint smile there. "You are the experts on dying I suppose, but there are alternatives if you wish to seek them."

It may be a surprise Marivel is here at all. She has in fact told Kaguya that defending Lunar was not exactly her responsible, certainly not from a war like this.

GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Boogiepop Phantoms!
GS: Marivel Armitage has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

"I fight monsters, not wars."

Ashton had said that to himself many times over the past weeks. It was a reminder of one of his personal rules - he hated politics. Being dragged into nation fighting nation was profitable for a mercenary, but it was bad for the soul. He had become a Drifter to help people, and wars... they tended to result in blood, shattered lives and a few nobles crowing about glory and honor.

This makes it strange that he is here.

In truth, he doesn't want to be. Ashton is hating every moment of what he anticipates is to come. But at the end of the day, there is something else he must abide: you stand by your friends and you help those in need. What the Guard is about to do cannot be simply ignored.

Dozens of fleeing innocents who came from Kilika had shown that much.

So Ashton is there at the sea wall, standing side by side with Drifter and Crusader, blades in hand. The battle will be difficult once they get close and he can--

And then two massive golems rise out of the waves.

Ashton's pupils go pinprick-tiny.

A blast of green energy overwhelms a group not far to his right; the other golem stomps closer, each movement threatening to destroy the wall and sweep them all away. Along with perhaps the rest of the city. Shades of Kurik play in his mind.

No. That can't be allowed.

In an instant, the Double Dragon Duelist is on the move. Phantasmal rabbit ears manifest on his shoes as there's a downright atypical burst of speed - he has to get closer.

Then, once he is? Ashton's form disappears in a burst of static.

That same static appears - as does Ashton - on the arm of Hashmal. Right on the fist, in fact.

For a moment, Ashton stays still right there. Posed with swords drawn, dragons at attention, surrounded by the seaspray. In the distant background, someone plays a dramatic chord on a shamisen. A single blade rises, pointing at the head of the golem. The other stabs downwards into a knuckle, anchoring the sellsword into place. And Ashton says just one word.

 "No."

GS: Ashton Anchors has attacked White Knight Leo with Guard Sword!
GS: Ashton Anchors has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    Lunata's lips thin as she looks to the others taking upon the Golems. In particular, she looks to Belize and thinks of the sea-serpent Aeon that she summoned during Mi'ihen Highroad. She looks to Seymour and Anima, whose presence disturbs something deep inside of her that reminds her of Ge Ramda.

    The Summoners are more suited to fighting these Gears right now than she is, as she scoops up her poor, abused Call Gear box and puts its back in her inventory--

    At about the time she notices someone running at a tall woman with icy emerald eyes.

    "Get back! Don't--"

    It's too late. He's felled in a single stroke.

    That one... will be trouble.

    Lunata hops down in a single bound and lands where the man fell, looking towards Amaterasu.

    "That... does not look like an Althenan Guard weapon," Lunata remarks. Her stomach sinks a little as her knees stop and she adopts what rather plainly appears to be a readied iai-stance.

    "Neither do those," she gestures to the Golems overhead. "What's your angle here?"

    For Lunata's part, her angle of attack -- literally -- is to draw her sword. Draw, but for a single moment -- hand blurring into rapid movement as she slashes and re-sheathes...

    And the ever-familiar elemental sphere of cut gloams into being around Amaterasu, threatening to cut away with shallow, rapid slices.

GS: Lunata Croze has attacked Amaterasu with Cherry Ronde!
GS: Lunata Croze has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Lunata Croze has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Belize has posed.

    After the ill-fated attempt to negotiate with Leo to stop this war before it started, Belize, Yuna, and Yuna's Guardians took a ferry to return to Luca. Belize and Yuna had conversed about various things, and grown a bit closer as a result, knowing that the days ahead would be grim... but surely neither of them could have been prepared for either a) a huge fleet passing clean by the ferry, or b) GIANT ROBOTS (though they don't get to see those until they close in).
    
    The important thing, first of all, is to catch up to the fleet. The ferry just doesn't have the speed; there's no way it'll catch up in time for the attack on Luca, as is clear these ships are on their way to do.
    
    Fortunately, Belize has something better than a ship when it comes to ocean travel.
    
    The ocean spray whips through their braided hair as the redheaded Summoner directs the lost Aeon, Leviathan, Lord of All Waters, towards Luca. He glides through the waves like a guided missile, and is a remarkably smooth ride for a sea serpent. To those ahead, it would seem like a thick ocean mist is rapidly approaching, but that's simply the wake of the water as he cuts through it.
    
    "There they are," Belize calls over their shoulder to their companions, whether they're riding on Leviathan with them or have found other means. Their eyes widen at the sight of the two Golems, giant machina of the likes they could have never imagined before now. "What in Yevon's name...?!" they utter. It's shaking--as is the force they unleash: that sickening green beam from Kaguya's machine, and Leo's attempting to *kick in* Luca's seawall. But they can't back down now. "Oh no you don't," they hiss. Again over their shoulder, they shout, "Yuna! Guardians! Get ready to jump and engage in immediate battle!"
    
    Leviathan lets loose a piercing shriek as he bullets towards Hashmal, then twists and *wrenches* the water away from the Golem, aiming to suck it back towards the sea. That same twist will send whomever is riding on Leviathan with them flying to land on said breakwall, or somewhere nearby, and help engage against the enemies who would assault it.

GS: Belize has attacked White Knight Leo with Low Tide!
GS: Belize has completed their action.
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

The launch goes perfectly, as expected. Cúchulainn and Hashmal start their assaults on the city of Luca, and Ambrosius observes from his position at the bow of one of the Guard-owned vessels with interest, his hands clasped behind his back and his face concealed by one of the helmets typically worn by Veruni soldiers.

It is truly fascinating, what Kaguya has been able to accomplish. He had his concerns at first - not about her abilities, naturally, he would never doubt those, but that this planet could provide any usable resources to create such machines. But it seems those concerns were unfounded. They appear to be functioning far better than even he had anticipated.

Wordlessly, he leaps from the bow of the vessel onto the docks, his poncho fluttering about him as he moves. Still with his arms behind him he walks away, wordlessly, toward the city itself.

He does not look like one of the Guard, from his general bearings, but from the way he was on one of their ships, it is unlikely that whatever plan he is a part of was any good for Luca.

Someone may need to step up.

<Pose Tracker> Pearl has posed.

    For the first time since Operation Mi'ihen, Pearl has slept a full night. The eve before battle, she felt it prudent to be prepared and rested. Today would be a big day, after all. And quite an enjoyable one.She stands atop the deck of the Destiny as it comes in view of Kilika. A cruel smile hovers briefly on her lips, as she waits for the moment to come.

    The golems rise from the sea, terrible and mighty. "So these are the weapons the Duchess brings to bear. Interesting." She watches, intently, as they bring their power down upon the walls and peoples of Luca. Their brutal attacks elicit another small smile. She reaches out with her arm, and flicks her wrist. And then Guardswoman Pearl is gone from the deck of the Destiny.

    Instead she is atop the seawall, the grapnel mounted to her wrist retracting rapidly. She has a purpose here, today. A target. She moves again, shadow magic masking her approach ever so slightly, as she moves about Luca from on high. And then she finds him.

    There are no words, no shouts. Instead, Pearl launches herself at speed from above, at the guardians who protect Maester Seymour Guado. She moves to drive her metal claws into the flesh of Biggs Guado, hoping to bear him to the ground in a brutal fashion, and raking at his torso. This is likely not enough to remove the guardian from the fight, but it's certainly enough to kick things off.

    She turns her grey eyes to Seymour, and that cruel smile appears again.

    The people of Luca may fear what is happening today. But oh how their spirits will break, when their Maester is slain before them.

GS: Pearl has attacked Seymour Guado with Running Takedown!
GS: Pearl has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Pearl has completed her action.
GS: Seymour Guado critically Guards a hit from Pearl's Running Takedown for 23 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Xantia hasn't been to Luca in weeks, and for good reason. Being mistakenly identified as a Crusader upon her arrival in Spira helped her to get along with people at first, but not so much after Maester Yo Mika's proclamation. After an escalation, she no longer felt welcome, and moved to stay at the Feresthe instead. Even with the Feresthe in the Luca area, she didn't feel too keen on going back into town.

However, that doesn't mean she wasn't keeping an eye out. The growing unrest in the area, especially seeing more and more reinforcements being brought in by the Guard back in Kilika, has had her pretty worried about an escalation. Upon spotting the approaching ships in the distance from the Feresthe's deck, it only took a second for her to make up her mind.

And thus, there is an unexpected element joining Luca's defenders today. Not a hired mercenary, not exactly an ex-Crusader... sort of a Warrior Monk, but not in an official capacity. The figure in caped armor is wearing a domino mask, so that can only mean one thing: this is not actually Xantia, but a certain Hero (in training) who's coming to the rescue!

...But if you've ever seen Xantia, it's quite obviously Xantia.

The giant robots only appear after she's already committed to her course, but that doesn't deter her in the slightest. It only brings a smile to her face. After all, the more challenging a fight is, the more fun it will be. Why would it matter if the opponents are machines that are much taller than you? It's not like this is the first time she's fought those on foot. Or the second. Or the third. It's close to the double digits at this point.

But we can't forget about one of the most important aspects of being a hero: the Justice Speech. To that end, Xantia pauses upon getting near the breakwall, so that she may pose dramatically. She saw who boarded this golem, which helps in making this a more personally directed affair.

"Hold it right there, White Knight Leo! To show up here with overwhelming force, in an area with many innocent civilians, that's an act of villainy if I've ever seen one! Yet they call you a hero... is this what you call justice?!"

Without hesitation, she leaps forward atop the Breakwall with one arm drawn back, aiming to knock the Golem's massive hand back with a punch of her own. A punch backed with the elemental force of lightning, certainly, but... it's a punch, all the same. Not exactly something one would expect to do much... if one wasn't familiar with Xantia's punches, anyway.

"Then feel MY justice!" she finishes her earlier statement, only to kind of ruin the effect when she spots someone has already gotten on top of the machine before she could, prompting a cheerful, "Hi Ashton!" Hopefully that wasn't too distracting. For either one of them.

GS: Xantia has attacked White Knight Leo with Elemental Fury!
GS: Xantia has completed her action.
GS: Amaterasu takes a solid hit from Lunata Croze's Cherry Ronde for 107 hit points!
GS: Poison! applied to Amaterasu!
<Pose Tracker> Dash Caskett has posed.

Another day in Luca. Another chance to get some supplies. He didn't need much, but he had to try anf fashion some kind of repair aids and components for the weapons that don't make their own ammunition.

"Heathen!"

Also another day to be heckled in the streets.

An elderly lady has shuffled her way over to a young man in two-tone armor that look far and away out of place. Large implements were mounted on his back, surely not meant for peaceable tasks. "You should be ashamed wearing that!" she crones, shaking a walking stick.

The boy, wearing a metal helmet and mask over his head, looks to her. Only bright emerald eyes peer out. "Lady, please don't... Everyone gives me so much trouble! I'll be out of town soon and you won't have to--"

"You should follow the teachings you young whats-it! WHat are you, Al-Bhed?!" That stick clang-clangs on the side of his torso, a definitive metal sound, though not one typical smelted metals make. It was higher pitched. "Look, if I could, I would take it all off and discard it fory you," he says, trying to remain kind and calm. A small, stressed smile is hidden under than mask.

"Unfortunately, you can't really take this kind of stuff of when you are--"

Shouts from nearby. They don't seem pleased.

Dash takes off in that direction, dropping what he was doing at a smithy stall. The old lady gets left behind as she shakes that cane and yells old people insults.

---

The docks are in disarray. Forces native to Luca scramble to mount a defense when it is clearly far too late to do so. Even as Dash makes his way to the front lines, monstrous mechs rise from the water to begin their assault. They came with intent and purpose.

And these odd backwater folk have a disdain for technology. How can they fight back against them effectively? Those summon things he heard about? Eh... tough call, even with the big one at the waterball tournament.

How about explosives? And he has an Active Buster full of them on his back. A duck around a corner, and Dash outfits himself properly. Weapons interlocked and hands coming apart and vanishing into forearms. He still doesn't get why that freaks people out.

Even now the giant machines fire stock at the city that defenses cannot match. And some more are even disembarking vessels. Most are soldiers, but one looks far more potent than the rest. And very tall. And so the boy in blue makes a move. "Hold up guy!"

TAT TAT TAT. A trio of hypercondensed shots made of plasma fire at Ambrosius to get his attention, or even better, possibly disable him. "Leave these people alone! I doubt they have anything you want!" Did they even want anything? Or just to conquer?

GS: Dash Caskett has attacked Ambrosius with Buster Salvo!
GS: Dash Caskett has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Dash Caskett has completed his action.
GS: Ambrosius guards a hit from Dash Caskett's Buster Salvo for 63 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

Atop Leviathan, it's as though sea and sky are united as one. The currents his passage create explode mist into the air; the wind of his velocity blows it backwards in a massive wake.

All of which is to say that Yuna, who is holding on to a scale for dear life, her forehead pressed against it, has difficulty seeing exactly what it is they're chasing until it is much too late. At first it doesn't matter, didn't matter; her eyes half-closed against the maelstrom, she focused on breathing in time with the serpent, on feeling not just with her fingertips but with her heart.

She's never touched another summoner's aeon before, and is treating the moment with the reverence it deserves. Belize, in inviting them to catch up to the invasion force this way, has in a very real way invited them to take a ride upon their soul, or at least a child of their soul. More than most Yuna appreciates this truth.

In -- out. In -- out. It isn't that she and Leviathan breathe together; it's that Leviathan breathes, and Yuna chooses to breathe with him. Only in this way is she able to hold onto herself.

Though she's also holding onto the others; in a tight cluster with her Guardians.

But then they're there -- and Yuna is not prepared for what she sees.

As they come up behind the Golems of the Guard, she is struck by the teachings of Yevon, which live in her heart, which remembers the voices of her elders -- and speaks with her own.

More than a thousand years ago... mankind waged war using machina to kill!

She gasps as the seawall takes a terrible blow, her eyes wide and wildly intense.

The people feared that Spira would be destroyed.

"We have to stop them!" Her voice is as small as she is, in comparison to Leviathan, in comparison to the machina, but it breaks through, she breaks through, anyway. She nods fiercely in response to Belize's instructions. "We are ready!"

Sin came, and it destroyed the cities, and their machina.

'Not this time,' Yuna promises herself.

She was expecting Kilika's fayth to surge to the fore to fight Althena's Guard, as he's been yearning to do all this time, but to her surprise it is a different person who clamors for release.

PULL nets full of fish from the sea
PUSH with the tide, homeward
LUCA at the end of the day

Luca needs her. Luca needs them.

The first time is always special.

BGM Start! Thunderstruck https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2AC41dglnM

Lines of magnetic force explode downward from the sky, into Yuna's hands, clasped prayerfully around her summoning rod. They gather at its tip, which is thrust upward -- a portal opens in answer -- and, connecting her with the tip of a -- a horn, jangling slightly with beautiful ornamentation -- is a line of lightning.

Yuna pulls, and then he explodes out of the portal in the sky and canters downwards through the sky to meet them, more electricity trailing from his mane, his hooves.

"My name's Yuna," she murmurs into Ixion's mane, as he butts her with her nose and almost knocks her off Leviathan. "It's nice to meet you!"

He nudges her a second time. It could be a horse-hug but actually he's urging her onto his back -- getting it, she reaches down at the last second to tug her cousin up behind her, just as Leviathan is launching them all off. Lulu, Wakka, Tidus and Kimahri all land on the seawall and begin to defend the newly-created breach, or at least its beginning.

"Let's go together, Rikku!" she cries -- and Ixion charges -- thunders -- across the harbor, two girls in tow.

This booming precedes their approach at shockwave-force, straight towards the side of Kaguya's machimonstrocity.

DC: Yuna switches forms to Ixion!
GS: Yuna enters a Counter stance!
GS: Yuna has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Valhalla's Call!
GS: Yuna has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Auron has posed.

On the back of a sea serpent isn't exactly the way Auron thought he'd be coming back to Luca. But, well... it beats watching from the sidelines as another part of his world falls to off-world interlopers. Auron hangs onto the summoned Aeon as it cuts through the water like a sharp knife through living flesh. Belize's warning gets a nod, and he shifts, drawing his sword and preparing to leap free of the Aeon.

The serpent's body flicks him off of itself before he was really prepared, like someone would shake a fly off an arm. But Auron nonetheless relaxes and lands in a shoulder roll that... is probably not as graceful as it looked, given he winces as he gets up. But he's on the seawall, or thereabouts, in one piece, and that was the aim. He pauses then, to see how Yuna fared. He sees her on the back of her Aeon and nods -- Ixion won't let her come to harm if it can do anythig to prevent it.

And if it can't, an Aeon wasn't going to save Yuna anyway.

He's also near enough to Leo's robot-thing that he can take a swing. He doesn't know what it is, he doesn't really care. All he knows is that it's trying to destroy a city and kill people, and he intends to at least TRY to stop it. Though what man-sized enemies could do to things like this he has no idea.

But that's what a guardian does. They throw themselves at the odds of death knowing full well that they stand a better chance of dying than accomplishing anything.

A yellow gleam slides down his blade as he draws back, swinging at the massive robot anywhere he can manage to hit it. He focuses his qi through the weapon, detonating the qi at whatever point of impact he can manage. Hopefully he can hit, as this might make it a little easier to damage the thing for a little while...

GS: Auron has attacked White Knight Leo with Armor Break!
GS: Auron has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Whatever Ivan may think of the decision to attack Luca -- and he tries to think of it as little as he can -- here he is, a part of it -- and he might as well put his skills to use by trying to bring it to a quick end. And what else is an assassin for, if not to make a precision strike at the leader?

It doesn't occur to Ivan that one of his comrades may also be having similar thoughts.

When the two massive constructs begin their assault, Ivan adds to the chaos with a barrage of fireballs, raising a cover of smoke as he leaps from the ship and rushes toward the seawall where Seymour is posted. When he reaches the wall, he leaps into the air, firing a gout of flame downward in what becomes a rocket-propelled jump. He clears the wall, and rushes toward where Seymour and his guards are posted, only to find -- is that Pearl??

Well, whatever! He leaps again, calling a longsword into his hands, and cleaving it toward Wedge, as he happens to be arriving from the opposite direction, a fireball whistling through the air to follow the strike.

GS: Ivan has spent 1 Combo on Gatling, including 1 on Gatling!
GS: Ivan has attacked Seymour Guado with Hell Pyre!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

From nearby, comes the telltale sound of plasma fire. That gets Ambrosis's attention. The people of this land shouldn't have that kind of technology - a Drifter, perhaps, with an excavated ARM?

Regardless, it's aimed at HIM, and he has to shift quickly to defend himself. He raises an arm in defense and the trio of shots impact him, forcing him back a step.

He turns toward the source, taking a moment to assess the young man...as well as the armor he wore, and the weapon he had fired.

"We are here to liberate this city from the tyranny of Yevon." Ambrosius states. It's a good thing that own his helmet hides his face - otherwise, his expression might give away that he personally doesn't have much interest in this goal. "Stand down."

He was merely looking to assist Kaguya with her plans.

With that said, he draws something out from within his poncho - a sleek weapon of red and silver.

He fires off a single shot in response - aimed less to injure or harm than to scare him off.

But...a fight would give him an opportunity to assess the young man's technology. It was a difficult conundrum.

GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Ivan's Hell Pyre for 69 hit points!
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Dash Caskett with VV-AESTUO!
GS: Ambrosius has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Amaterasu has posed.

    The figure regards Lunata with a mask of smoothed metal, three sets of eyes gleaming green.

    "I am not," Amaterasu states, her voice tinny behind the faceplate. "But as long as Yevon holds these lands, I know my enemy. I will fight until Yevon lies broken beneath me." She does not move, apparently sizing up Lunata still. The sea breeze catches her hair, sending it aflutter in behind her like a veil.

    "Stand aside and I will not cut you down. Strike at me like the others, and I will send you to your grave, child."

    What's her angle, indeed.

    The slashes come in like a rain at sea: not once does it even seem as if Lunata has even drawn her blade. One catches sharply across vambrace. Another sees a lock of hair cut and offered up to the wind. Another caught here, and here, where armor is hidden under cloth -- cloth itself tears, revealing more of the skintight suit beneath.

    And the coup de grace: a slick of blood that drips a single crimson drop from under the faceplate. It falls, a brilliant red sphere, and lands with a splash on the dock.

    "Hm," Amaterasu murmurs, regarding it for but a second. "I see. You are fast with that blade."

    "But."

    There is a blur: the blade of the spear dances like a will-o'-wisp to the eye. Amaterasu feints left before bringing the weapon forward in a thrusting charge.

    "So am I!"

GS: Amaterasu has attacked Lunata Croze with Vis Major!
GS: Amaterasu has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Amaterasu takes 25 damage from Poison!
GS: Amaterasu has completed her action.
GS: Dash Caskett takes a glancing hit from Ambrosius's VV-AESTUO for 63 hit points!
GS: Hyper! applied to Ambrosius!
GS: Lunata Croze guards a hit from Amaterasu's Vis Major for 100 hit points!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Ashton Anchors's Guard Sword for 50 hit points!
GS: Cover! applied to Ashton Anchors!
GS: Ashton Anchors assumes the Stoic stance!
GS: White Knight Leo critically Guards a hit from Belize's Low Tide for 45 hit points!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Xantia's Elemental Fury for 78 hit points!
GS: Mighty! applied to Xantia!
GS: Xantia assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Auron's Armor Break for 51 hit points!
GS: Break! applied to White Knight Leo!
<Pose Tracker> Rikku has posed.


Rikku found herself crouching on Leviathan's serpentine neck. It was a strange experience for an Al Bhed to ride an Aeon across the sea, the salt spray reaching up to her flapping braids. To Yevon perhaps it would be like someone taboo touching something sacred. And yet Rikku herself found herself enjoying it - wondering if the Aeon even cared if she was Al Bhed. To someone who's a skeptic about matters of faith - but not fayth, her ride upon the Aeon was positively spiritual.

That was before they passed the fleet though. An anxiety inducing force under the best of circumstances. Cutting across the water though, the moment everything started to shake, Rikku placed a hand to hold on tight and looked - really looked.

"No way - No way!" Rikku doesn't even need her binoculars to get a good look at them. "You've got to be kidding me. Mari said Odessa brought something called a Gear to Spira but... this..."

Any other day part of her would be internally squealing at the opportunity to look upon these things. Study them. Now however, it feels like the Guard is proving Yevon's point by bringing Machina to bear as sinful creations of a bygone era.

She'd give several of her teeth to get even a piece of these back to Bikkanel Island for the Al Bhed to take a look at. That's not about to happen now.

Not only that, so fresh after Mi'ihen, Rikku realizes that the people of Spira will despise Machina more if that is possible. Letting out this noise of frustration she runs her fingertips through her hair.

Belize commands her to jump, and while she does not question it. "Ready!" It's a surreal experience to think of herself fighting for Yevon.

Except - she isn't fighting for Yevon. She's fighting for Yuna - and Yuna is fighting for...

As Leviathan let's out that shriek, she offers Yuna this smile, "We will stop them! Don't worry Yunie - all we have to do is mash some machina right?" She holds up her hand, "Means we've got this in the bag." -just as the serpentine twist of the Aeon - she begins to leap, landing on that breakwall. Her targe strapped onto one hand and her claw at the ready as she protects Yuna while she summons. At first she looks on with wonder and delight, but by the time Yuna is pulling the Aeon out of the portal. Rikku's eyes have gone as wide as saucers, and this shriek of alarm escapes her lips at the explosion.

Rikku is crouched when Yuna offers her a hand, her hands on either side of her head. And then she calls for them to go together.

Rikku wants nothing more to go with her astride Aeon back in battle.
Rikku wants nothing less than to be closer to Thunder and Lightning.

In the end the desire is in equilibrium with her fear. "A-Alright!" And hesitantly, Rikku takes her hand and is drawn up, astride the Aeon. Fear and wonder in equal terror.

At first Rikku's arms are simply laced lightly around Yuna. That changes the moment that Ixion BOOMS out taht shockwave in his charge. And she lets out another prolonged shriek. Her arms cling tightly to Yuna, her face pressed to her back just above the bow of her obi. Even once the shriek dies she's murmuring something that sounds like a desperate prayer. "Don'trumbletooharddon'trumbletoohardpleasepleasePLEASE!"

See? It didn't take too long as Yuna's Guardian to make her the praying sort.

Sucking in air through her nose in her hyperventilation, she slowly unlaces one arm to reach for something at her thigh.

Soon enough, a shape flies through the air end over end from Ixion's back towards Cuchulainn. It's a shallow blind throw that sails end over end and feels like it should be far too shallow to reach the golem. However just before it strikes the water - it detonates with enough force that even if it's not a direct hit it might just rock that Machina's frame a little.

Rikku in the meanwhile keeps mumbling to herself, "I'm okay - it's Yunie's Aeon and I'm with Yunie - I'm okay... I'm okay..."

GS: Rikku has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Use: Grenade!
GS: Rikku has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

Biggs Guado has spent years fighting. The Guado are not a peaceful people; he was fighting when Seymour was a boy on a cold island, doing battle against bandits and Fiends and Al Bhed alike. He catches, first, the glint of light; he turns in time to register the grapnel that struck into the wall. And then he spins.

"OH NO YOU DON'T!"

Biggs Guado's shout echoes over the top of the seawall. For a Guado, he is burly; by human standards, really, that means he is simply a little north of lithe. The green-armored Guado turns and raises up a shield of steel that is still patterned like a seashell, and catches her claws on it. His teeth are bared. "Easy, there, little human," he spits. "Not today."

He shoves back with the shield -- and then leaps backward, before he slams down in front of Seymour Guado, raising his shield. Biggs knows who he protects. The same, it seems, is true of Wedge.

Ivan descends with fire and flame. It makes for more of a show, and less sense of stealth. Wedge steadies himself; the tall, slim Guado spreads his limbs about, his hair snapping out behind him in a tight ponytail. Chi flows up around him, before bursting out in a ring. "Come at me, boy!"

He punches Ivan's sword. The blade slams into the armored gauntlet, sparks flying -- and then the fireball slams into Wedge. He spins backward, before he lands not far from Seymour, in a three-point stance. He spits to one side.

Seymour turns his head, slowly, and his eyes meet Pearl's, then turn to meet Ivan's, before he looks back to Pearl; pale and cool and uncaring.

"My," he says. "Not one, but two assassins come for me. Tell me... should I be honored?"

Something cold slips across his face, and though the corners of his lips are upturned, no one could ever call that a smile. "Wedge," he commands. "Break that thug in brutal fashion, so that all may know of the futility of their sinful ways."

"M'lord," Wedge answers. He flies at Ivan, swings back his fist -- and launches a powerful haymaker right for his jaw.

GS: Seymour Guado enters a Counter stance!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Ivan with Guado Guardian Pummel!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Seymour Guado with Guado Guardian Cover!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado has completed his action.
GS: Seymour Guado heals Seymour Guado! He gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Cover! applied to Seymour Guado!
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    Lunata narrows her eyes and lets out a slow choked breath as, in the interstice between her drawing and sheathing her blade, she finds--

    That spear inside of her as she next realises that she's flying through the air and rams straight against the door leading to the galley in a thunderous 'BOOM'.

    Fast, indeed.

    Moments later, Lunata's emerged from the debris, bizarre black ink flowing through her wound where blood normally would be.

    "Unfortunately... I already have been sent to my grave," Lunata mumbles. "So you're a bit late on that front. Still--"

    She limps forward a little, narrowing her eyes. "What did Yevon do? Is this to do with the Dragonmaster's death? Is one person's crappy hot take all the Guard needs to invade?"

    Lunata twists; she's not certain she's got the upper hand on this individual, who seems even more skilled than the history of the skill she's acquired from Orochi-Agito can offer.

    And when she's finished twisting--

    "Or was that what you were waiting for all along?"

    She's disappeared to dart above Amaterasu, blade sheathed-and-drawn in one fluid motion as translucent butterflies scatter about her strike.

GS: Lunata Croze has attacked Amaterasu with Papillon Reel!
GS: Lunata Croze has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya Alathfar guards a hit from Ethius Hesiod's Combustion for 86 hit points!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Boogiepop Phantoms for 122 hit points!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar critically Guards a hit from Yuna's Valhalla's Call for 38 hit points!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a solid hit from Rikku's Use: Grenade for 166 hit points!
GS: Ivan takes a glancing hit from Seymour Guado's Guado Guardian Pummel for 59 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Pearl has posed.


    Pearl growls as the shield comes up to meet her, rolling back from the attack, her claws and fang glinting in the sunlight. The guardians were trained, and trained well. Perhaps this calls for something more serious...
    And then suddenly, there's someone else here, and things become simultaneously easier and more difficult. Easier because there's another target to draw fire. Harder because it means Pearl needs to hold back. Pearl hates holding back. So much for cutting loose. Her eyes lock on Ivan's briefly. What the hell made HIM come here?

    No matter, there is a bigger insult. Does this Maester of Yevon deem her so small a threat that she doesn't even warrant an attack? Just a 'little human'? That growl rolls low in her throat.

    Fine then, if the guardian won't fight her, she will take a moment of her own. The time for stealth is long past. Pearl focuses her ki inward, and then let's out a howl. A wolf's howl, or a perfect imitation of one. When the howl subsides, she turns her focus back to Biggs, as lowers into stance. Now it was a matter of who made the next move: Her, the guardian, or the maester himself?

GS: Pearl has attacked Pearl with Spirited Howl!
GS: Pearl has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Pearl has completed her action.
GS: Pearl takes a solid hit from Pearl's Spirited Howl for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! applied to Pearl!
GS: Amaterasu guards a hit from Lunata Croze's Papillon Reel for 88 hit points!
GS: Lunata Croze assumes the Avenger stance!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    Deep within Golem Hashmal's chest, the Goddess Orb thrums with power. Designed by some of the most brilliant minds of Neo-Vane--including Black Wizard Borgan himself--it's not so much a source of mystic might, but an amplifier for someone who possesses it. Hashmal gestures again, its hand clenching into a fist, and twisting upwards. The breakwall itself begins to twist in accordance with Leo's will. Jagged spikes of stone erupt near the groups of defenders, fencing them in--it seems Leo is going for slightly less lethal means than Kaguya, right off the bat.

    That, and he's reveling in this power. In the privacy of his cockpit, Leo bares fangs in a fearsome, confident grin. He turns, and speaks into the air current flowing down through slots in the instrument panel.

    "The Orb is working like a charm, Black Wizard!"

    Leo's words disappear into the breeze, which flows out from Hashmal and carries the message to Borgan alone. Sensation from outside interrupts him. A section of the panoramic crystal zooms in on Ashton, seated on Hashmal's hand, defiant--

    Ashton stabs his blade into Hashmal's finger, punching through the armor and cutting a few cables in the joint. Leo jolts in surprise as pain shoots through his own finger--like he'd been stabbed with a rusty nail. Moments later, Xantia calls him out, and drives her fist into his own. It should be nothing, but it isn't. Xantia leaves a head-sized dent in the side of Hashmal's hand, and Leo grimaces. It feels like he just punched a brick wall.

    "Althena wills it," Leo says. His voice booms from within the Golem. "The people have suffered for far too long, outside of Her light. Stand against Her, and you will fall, as the Lord of Calamity will!" As he speaks, the water around Hashmal surges away from it. Leviathan is nothing if not a master of the tides, and the sudden low tide could prove problematic for the Guard's attempts to make a landing. Hashmal, though, is still rooted to the ground. It takes a step forwards to steady itself. "Bring your beasts!" Leo shouts. "Bring your Eidolons!" Auron's blade carves into Hashmal's thigh. Chi detonates against its frame, punching a hole clean through the armor. The man's life-force surges up through the Golem's leg, and for a moment, Leo grimaces in pain. His machine lashes out, its hand curling into a fist and whipping across the air--trying to dislodge both Ashton and Xantia before they can do any more damage.

    Hashmal reaches up with both hands, and grasps the hilt of a blade mounted on its back. It tugs the weapon free, revealing--

    No blade. But only for a moment. Shards of crystal and obsidian blossom from the weapon's hilt, forming into a single cutting edge made of unbreakable stone. Leo lets out a sharp cry, and swings his blade at Leviathan; chi and magic tear off the weapon, chasing down the Aeon before erupting in a storm of light. The earth around Auron suddenly rises upwards, bursting apart into a thousand jagged shards. He'd better move quick if he wants to escape!

GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Xantia with Backhand!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Ashton Anchors with Backhand!
GS: White Knight Leo has canceled their attack on Xantia.
GS: White Knight Leo has canceled their attack on Ashton Anchors.
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Xantia with Backhand!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Ashton Anchors with Backhand!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Belize with Demon Fang!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 3 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Auron with Rock Viper!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 2 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: Ashton Anchors guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Backhand for 90 hit points!
GS: Auron guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Rock Viper for 104 hit points!
GS: Belize guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Demon Fang for 194 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Black Wizard Borgan has posed.

"Good. Do not ruin those works of art. But show them what they can do. I'm looking *forward* to seeing the results."

For people who do not know Borgan, the image of him in a hangar might be ludicrous. And yet here he is, in a lighter robe that is still heavily ornamented with runes, on his flying platform. There is another, smaller flying platform next to him that holds an array of tools, primarily arcane - wands and rods with various tips feature prominently - but with some odds and ends. Like...

...is that a spanner wrench? Inlaid with copper in a runic pattern with a small green crystal at the adjustable joint? You'd better believe it.

Before Borgan was the Black Wizard, he made a study of magitechnology. That was how he raised Neo-Vane into the air, the act for which Althena made him the Black Wizard, first of the Four Heroes. And that means, today, he has tasks other than those that bring him to the front line.

Borgan raises his booming voice, carrying throughout the hangar. "Mechanic teams! When these Golems return, they will be damaged, they will have used up their reserves of power, and we must be ready!" Borgan may not have been the prime designer of the Golems, but Neo-Vane helped build them, and he'll be damned if he lets the Guard's Veruni allies show Neo-Vane up.

As a pair runs by carrying a coiled copper cable braided with steel as thick as a man's wrist, Borgan looks over the few wizards from Neo-Vane trusted enough to do personal repairs. He raises his staff to point a second team wheeling an unusual array of crystals on something like a flat-topped wheelbarrow in the proper direction.

Here, Borgan is in his element. Let Leo command the soldiers. He'll command the wizards and scholars.

GS: Xantia guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Backhand for 90 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Amaterasu has posed.

    For most people, being run through with Valkyrja would mean a quick end if they were lucky.
    If they were unlucky, it would mean a much slower one.

    Amaterasu draws the weapon from Lunata's body with a firm jerk, her gaze tilted downwards to regard the warrior she has just felled.

    Only to witness Lunata rise to her feet, black blood oozing from that rent in her body.
    Amaterasu takes a step back, her spear held before her with both hands as if it were a shield.

    "What are you? ...Wait, I have heard that the dead do not rest in this land," she says, holding her ground now where she has attained. "I see. Then I must find a means to make your rest final." She pauses, as if considering her options. "Or to keep you from rising so easily."

    A sound that might almost be a laugh echos tinnily from behind that faceplate when Lunata brings up the Dragon Master. "My reasons are my own, child. But know that Yevon has failed to slay Sin, and failure cannot be tolerated. I will unroot Yevon from this land first, and then I shall slay a god." She pauses, briefly. Maybe under that mask, she might be smiling. "Properly."

    Lunata rises above her, not unlike a butterfly -- blade and sheath her wings.

    Lunata descends--

    Lunata's strike meets the polearm's shaft first. Amaterasu heaves forward, as if to send Lunata sailing away from her, but not before the trailing edge of Lunata's blade tastes the Veruni's shoulder.

    Light descends about Amaterasu after, the ghostly form of purple-tinged armor descending about her in a swathe of blue-black light. It hangs there for a heartbeat, then sinks into her body.

GS: Amaterasu has attacked Amaterasu with Ghostdark Purge!
GS: Amaterasu has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Amaterasu takes 23 damage from Poison!
GS: Amaterasu has completed her action.
GS: Amaterasu heals Amaterasu! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS:  Restore reduces negative status durations by 3 rounds each!
GS: Cover! applied to Amaterasu!
<Pose Tracker> Dash Caskett has posed.

There is a tinge of surprise in Dash's eyes as the shots from the Mega Buster do superficial damage at best. Shots that normally punch clean, circular holes in objects. "Oh boy..." he groans out. Looks like this might be a real fight!

"Okay, sir? Sir... You are really tall." A beat. "They give me a hard time, all the time, for having tech on me, but you can't just come to their doorstep and demand change! I doubt they even did anything to you, I dont think they can do much with what they got against you, against us."

Dash of course shows no signs of relenting, his instinct to stay and fight, or whatever deep within his processes tells him to soldier forward.

Ambrosious produces a weapon-- some kind of firearm? And clips a shot off. Dash senses the gun being readied, the activation of the weapon as it happens, faster than normal individuals. It was always a strange sensation.

Even stranger, Dash quickly feints to the left, at a speed that should be... incalculable for someone in full armor. Nevertheless, the shot connects on the side of the right leg. Armor dents, and some sparking emits from underneath. Perhaps some kind of high tech armor? The sparks cease after a fre moments, and Dash reachs dow not touch it. "Ah... okay, good shot." The boy seethes a bit in the disruption.

Unfortunately, if I don't do anything you will wipe them out with your advanced methods! So I gotta send you home!"

As a paint of distraction, Dash points the attached Active Buster out seaward the sea, and a rapport of missile launches cause a loud rachet and momentary obfuscation of him with the ejected steam.

In that split second where the steam billwos, the Mega Buster alters its calibration, and rapid fire shots spray toward Ambrosious, coating the area in plasma burm marks.

Certainly seems like a waste of explosive countermeasures though for such a small gambit.

GS: Dash Caskett enters a Counter stance!
GS: Dash Caskett has attacked Ambrosius with Homing Mortar!
GS: Dash Caskett has completed his action.
GS: Ambrosius critically Guards a hit from Dash Caskett's Homing Mortar for 21 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"We're not assassins!" Ivan protests. Despite the fact that they are currently in the midst of an attempted assassination. It seems that being expected to kill whoever his father decided needed killing didn't lend itself to a nuanced understanding of the laws of honorable warfare. Well, if it is an assassination, then why is another member of the Guard here? Aren't they all compulsively righteous? That proves that trying to kill the leader is definitely a thing people normally do in wars. Probably.

Regardless, Seymour seems unimpressed by having two (non) assassins come after him at once, perhaps because they haven't even managed to separate him from his guards, yet, so he probably isn't feeling particularly vulnerable. He sics one of them on Ivan, who comes at him with a punch to the jaw. Ivan moves to sidestep the blow--or thinks he does--but he still catches the edge of it, his head snapping to one side and his feet stumbling as it throws him off his balance.

He lets out a breath and composes himself, turning back to show a bloodied lip.

"You're gonna wish you tried harder than that," he says.

He sweeps his sword in front of him, tearing a hole in the air that reveals roiling fire beyond.

"Beasts of fire, show your fury! Molten Roar!"

Magma pours in a column from the rift toward Wedge; Ivan at least showed the consideration of making sure the angle of the attack wouldn't catch Pearl if his target dodged it.

GS: Ivan has attacked Seymour Guado with Molten Roar!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: COUNTER! Seymour Guado counterattacks Ivanwith Counter Attack!
GS: Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from Ivan's Molten Roar for 141 hit points!
GS: Disrupt and Shieldbreak! applied to Seymour Guado!
<Pose Tracker> Belize has posed.

    Belize gives Yuna a sharp, decisive nod. Her observation that it's an honor to be trusted to ride along on top of what is functionally a piece of their soul, or a child of their soul, is sound--but to Belize, it's more a matter of practicality. Yuna is a strong summoner, and they've come to trust her. She'll be needed for the battle. And they're *certainly* not going to make her leave her Guardians behind. Thus, all of them came along. They'll trust everyone to do what they must now that they've arrived.
    
    Auron in particular stays closeby, choosing to carve that hideous machina of Leo's with his giant katana. Belize, who remains on Leviathan's neck (such as it is), gives him a sharp nod of his own. "A pleasure to be fighting alongside you, Sir Auron," they say. "Let us drive these wretches from Luca's shores for good!"
    
    There are two others fighting against Leo, neither of whom Belize recognizes: a woman in some odd sort of costume, and a man with... lizard heads??... sprouting from his back. They certainly don't look like they're from Spira. Otherworlders? Curious--and evidence that they're right about the others being factionalized. When the fighting has calmed and the Guard driven off (for they *must* drive them off, they must), they'll have to look into which of them stay to help.
    
    Then Leo counters with his machina, drawing a fantastical blade of crystal and obsidian that *grows* from its hilt like a horrific fungus. Belize gapes in shock as he slashes it down at them and Leviathan. The great sea serpent twists to protect his Summoner, but it's a mighty hit all the same, and he screams in pain, the sound cutting the air as well as he cut the water earlier.
    
    "Leviathan!! Are you all right?" Belize gasps, stroking his head. "It's all right... We'll show that disgusting man... This is far from the end!" They rise to their feet, green eyes blazing, and glare at Hashmal. "Althena wills it? Althena wills for you cowards and bullies to *attack* a civilian city with your sinful machina?" Belize calls, voice as sharp as whetted daggers. "The more you speak, Sir Leo, the more I am convinced: your goddess's 'mercy' is the mercy of the grave, and any hand she has ever extended hid behind it naught but pure malice! You say you come to save our people from their suffering, but you do so as conquerors and destroyers!! What is that in any world but evil?! And I..."
    
    Leviathan opens his great maw. A distant blue light, like a pilot light, flicks into existence at the back of his throat.
    
    "I shall not stand idly by..."
    
    That light rapidly gains power and brilliance, until it's formed an orb in Leviathan's mouth.
    
    "IN THE PRESENCE OF EVIL!!!"
    
    That orb *fires*, blazing forward in a brilliant beam of water magic, direct for Hashmal's chest in an attempt to SHOVE it back well away from the breakwall in addition to simply blasting it with magical might.

GS: Belize has attacked White Knight Leo with Wave Beam!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize has completed their action.
GS: Ivan takes a glancing hit from Seymour Guado's Counter Attack for 73 hit points!
GS: White Knight Leo critically Guards a hit from Belize's Wave Beam for 50 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Auron has posed.

Jagged rock explodes up under Auron and he tries to block with his blade. But there's only so much he can do about an area of ground exploding underneath him. He's impaled in the arm and leg, and thrown back as well. Thankfully not off the sea wall. But it's clear this fight isn't going to go well for him. Hopefully he can at least do enough damage that others can take this thing down.

Though either way it might not be his problem...

If it's one thing Auron is, it's stubborn. And he's not giving up, even if he knows he stands little chance. And as he rights himself, he comes back at the robot Leo's in, drawing the blade back. A purple tinge flashes down his blade this time as he swings at Leo's robot. Should that make contact, the detonation may happen again, but the damage will be aimed at a different quality of the robot...

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    Their blades clash, polearm against sword with a grimace as Lunata finds her strike not pushing forward with the give--

    And the heave sends her flying again as the woman's superior size and strength easily overpowers her. She lands in a three-point skid across the deck, that black blood flowing more freely.

    "... you've heard right. But sadly, I am not a product of this land, but rather Filgaia's," Lunata lets out a faint murmur. "I came to this land to see if they could give me a final rest..."

    Lunata's eyes flash towards Amaterasu's, towards that three-eyed mask of hers.

    "But it seems I'm not allowed that much. Let's hope you can fix that, hmm?"

    Her lips purse as she notices the armour around Amaterasu, surrounding her with a shine as the last of her errant ghost-blades fleck off them uselessly. She closes her eyes and thinks of Jacqueline and Shalune for a moment. Then...

    "Ge Ramda..."

    For a brief moment, a flare of what looks like a ghostly, spectral figure flares about her form -- an ephemeral figment garbed in ancient bridal regalia. The spectre wails--

    "... I need more power..."

    --and subsumes into Lunata, that blood flowing ever more freely as it seeps all about her.

             In exchange for the power that thou hast requested,
               Thine due is the sum of 16 hours and 37 minutes.
           I hath received the defrayal of thine soul's sacrifice...

    "You're punishing them for their failure? They've staved off Sin before. That seems a step ahead of what you -- and we -- have figured out. Or are these Golems your show of force to stop Sin?"

    There's a scowl.

    "Solaris failed too. Do you believe you have a shot?"

GS: Auron has attacked White Knight Leo with Magic Break!
GS: Auron has completed his action.
GS: Lunata Croze has attacked Lunata Croze with More... Take More of My Time...!
GS: Lunata Croze has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lunata Croze has completed her action.
GS: Lunata Croze takes a solid hit from Lunata Croze's More... Take More of My Time... for 0 hit points!
GS: Burst and Hyper! applied to Lunata Croze!
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

A shout draws Ashton's attention. For an instant, his serious expression evaporates into a beaming smile. "Mystery Hero X!" Is he fooled by the domino mask (again)? Or is he just respecting that when the mask is on to use her alter ego? Either way, he calls Xantia by her heroic moniker and seems quite cheered by her presence. "Let our justice reign!"

There is no time for further commentary, however, as Hashmal and Leo react.

The White Knight inside the golem is defiant - and the golem itself is punchy.

In all fairness, this was more or less expected. There's a reason Ashton used his blade to try and anchor himself down. That part of the plan... sort of works. It buys enough time for Ashton to abuse another burst of sorcery and static-fzt out of existance. He re-appears on the seawall again, trying to come from a different angle.

As the mighty golem turns to swipe at Leviathan, the sellsword holds one of his blades up before his face. "Your light is naught but darkness, Leo! It exists as an illusion, for blind eyes cannot see true light!" He sweeps his other blade down to his side, horizontal to the ground. "We shall bring more than beasts and eidolons! We shall bring brave hearts and stoic steel!"

The Draconic Ceberus blurs from sight again, this time not reappearing. Not as himself, at least. Instead, a cloud of green leaves swirls in the air, drifting around the head of Hashmal. But from it comes Ashton's voice, tailing onto Belize's words. He does not know the summoner, but he hears the dedication in her voice.

"Let your evil be purged by steel and sea! By lightning and land!"

The leaves around the golem's head suddenly go rigid, turning to flat surfaces - sharp surfaces. And they become a storm of blades.

Moments later, Ashton himself comes flying out of the storm of leaf-daggers. He lands back on the sea wall in a crouch.

GS: Ashton Anchors enters a Counter stance!
GS: Ashton Anchors has attacked White Knight Leo with Leaf Slash!
GS: Ashton Anchors has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ashton Anchors has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

Fortunately for the dock workers' families, it wasn't Sin. ...Unfortunately for the dock workers themselves, its occupant may be more likely to hold a grudge. But thanks to their 'shield', they are out of danger... for now. And their evil-looking weapon cuts the air as a spell launches outward--

Sorcerous light sends fire cascading about the Golem's mouth, Cuchulainn's jaw briefly filled with radiant flame as if it is belching forth Hell itself. ...But in point of fact, the beam doesn't fire again immediately, the Golem's teeth briefly red-hot. Maybe the spell achieved its desired aim, or maybe it's happenstance--the vagaries of battle do not allow for such certainties.

"Oh hey. You're conscious this time," a mocking voice tells Ethius. "That's new." The Golem's hand points down at Ethius, and from its goldem palm a glowing light burns downward--and thunders down as a smaller beam towards his position.

Meanwhile, the spell of a Crimson Noble seethes up the form of the terrible weapon, shadows crawling about its rotund, armored torso. It does slow, slightly--very slightly--as the shadow ripples and corrodes metal. But that amount may be what's necessary for a few more of those 'unimportant' people to flee. While the voice--

"This?" Kaguya answers Marivel easily, the speakers of her Golem transmitting the sound. "This isn't an answer. It's equipment." Did Marivel mean the Golem, or the invasion? It seems Kaguya answers as if it's both, "And this is a means to an end." A beat, and the rest crackles, "Are you really going to stay and protect Yevon, though? If you just want to evacuate noncombatants, I won't stand in your way. ...Well, maybe a little--let's see the superior being's reflexes, hm?"

The terrible machina turns its smile down on Marivel before it, hovering there--and from its head, from around its cheeks, from the frames of its face, small blasts of hard green light rain down like bullets towards her. And terrible machina it is--Yuna names it for what the legends say...

And Kaguya sees in her displays, far within her Golem's control center, the approach of a new Aeon beyond those she has seen before. Some Guardians stay behind to defend--but Ixion charges. So naturally, the Golem stretches out its hand, and Kaguya breathes in, and now. Its shockwave booms forward--but it does not crash in as well as it should. This is because suddenly, with a flash of terrible magic, a sense of some kind of bizarre Sorcery unlike that of Lunar erupts forward--

Spores burst from the water, from the docks, all around, becoming towering mushrooms whose roots--such as they are--tangle and weave and drink from whatever they can find, not only absorbing some of the lightning but giving Ixion a field of towering caps to run avoid, such that much of the power of its charge is parried by the ground itself.

"It's you," the voice calls down to Yuna. "The one who did the funerals at the shore... Unfortunate. I appreciate what you did, but you're in the way. And that... Aeon of yours is a target. That's what you call these, isn't it?" But her eyes slide to something else on the display and Kaguya within scowls. It's practically audible in her voice. "You--"

"What are you doing on their side!?" Kaguya's voice shouts at Rikku as the initial flash of her grenade blast quiets in favor of the sounds and chaos of battle. Indeed, Rikku can hear through the speakers--the Golem is certainly not destroyed, but the force of the blast resonates through its great chest and rattles something within. "These Yevonites hate you for what you are! They didn't care about any of your people who died at Mi'ihen!" ...Except this one, maybe. But Kaguya's not going to stop a fight for one Summoner. ...Not when she's come at her.

With the explosions still going, Kaguya scowls. "Fine. Do what you have to do. So will I."

She hits a few more controls--and the Golem begins to turn, panels on its front opening up and spewing forth rockets that trail smoke as a set of them crash towards Rikku in particular... though they aren't that picky, really.

GS: Kaguya Alathfar has spent 3 Combo on Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Murder Hand!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Marivel Armitage with Lethal Crown!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Yuna with Saprophyte Suffusion!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar enters a Counter stance!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Rikku with Nature of the Scorpion!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has completed her action.
GS: Marivel Armitage takes a glancing hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Lethal Crown for 68 hit points!
GS: Break! applied to Marivel Armitage!
GS: Rikku takes a solid hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Nature of the Scorpion for 93 hit points!
GS: Rikku has been weakened by Disease! Temporary hit points tick down 1 round!
GS: Disease! applied to Rikku!
GS: COUNTER! Yuna counterattacks Kaguya Alathfarwith Counter Attack!
GS: Yuna takes a solid hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Saprophyte Suffusion for 276 hit points!
GS: Jam! applied to Yuna!
GS: Ethius Hesiod takes a solid hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Murder Hand for 144 hit points!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar's  stance ends. She enters the Avenger stance!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar critically Guards a hit from Yuna's Counter Attack for 20 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! White Knight Leo guards a hit from Auron's Magic Break for 86 hit points!
GS: Mute! applied to White Knight Leo!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Ashton Anchors's Leaf Slash for 58 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

A column of magma rushes down for Wedge. He crosses his arms -- and tries to block it -- and it proves to be for naught. The blast of flame and molten stone smash into the lithe Guardian, throwing him back over the other side of the seawall. He slams down into a roof, leaving a cloud of dust on it.

"Perhaps he will," Seymour says, and though it sounds blithe, there is a hint of nervousness in how Seymour moves. Biggs Guado keeps himself between Seymour and Pearl; his back is to his master and to Ivan, shield trained on the assassin. Seymour reaches over his comrade's shoulder, and then thrusts a hand out. "O spark of hope, o dream of Djose! Heed my call! THUNDARA!"

His fingers work the somatic motions, bending and curling like claws -- and then a bolt of lightning crashes down on Pearl from above. Seymour's spell has subtle alterations; in this case, lightning slams down and crackles outward, forks and arcs leaping over some of the metal fixtures drilled into the stone, and linger. Arcs of lightning shoot out, occasionally, as if the lightning refuses to go to ground.

Then, Seymour turns towards Ivan. It might seem, for a moment, that he has written off Wedge. However, he knows what Ivan cannot see:

Wedge, at present, is running vertically up the side of the wall. His arms are stretched out to each side, grey-red blood dribbling down from a split lip, and his long ponytail whipping out after him.

Seymour takes aim with his other hand, another magical circle appearing.

And that is when Wedge runs up the wall's edge, crests it, and launches a surprise uppercut at Ivan's chin... and seeks to send him airborne. Seymour shifts his hand, and then there is a flash of light, and--

BGM Change: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_QZe8Z66x8

And Seymour fires a massive geyser of water out from his hand, like a beam, that tries to send Ivan flying even higher still.

"Call yourselves what you like," Seymour says. "You come to grant me death? Then I shall have you earn the right to give such a gift!"

GS: Seymour Guado has spent 1 Combo on Poison, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Pearl with Thundara!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Ivan with Watera!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado has completed his action.
GS: Pearl takes a solid hit from Seymour Guado's Thundara for 154 hit points!
GS: Pearl suffers an additional 17 from Poison's Combo effect!
GS: Poison! applied to Pearl!
GS: Ivan takes a solid hit from Seymour Guado's Watera for 169 hit points!
GS: Seymour Guado assumes the Stoic stance!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Ambrosius cannot deny that the young man's resolve is strong. This is clearly not his land, and yet he seems intent to protect it despite the apparent difficulties he has faced due to their belief.

"They have grown stagnant. They fear change. They cling to their beliefs, hoping they will keep them safe - but they will not. This situation is not sustainable." Ambrosius replies. He notes the speed at which he moves - even an experienced Drifter, possessing strength the average civilian did not, would not be able to move so quickly in what appeared to be full armor.

How curious. He notes, too, the way it sparks when he fires at it.

Powered armor, he considers.

"If that is your intention, young man, then by all means. I so very much would like to see you try." He responds, as Dash states his intention to 'send him home'. This had become more than just another mission assisting Kaguya. Technology was a personal interest of his, and this young man appeared to be a treasure trove of it.

He watches as Dash fires a volley of missiles out toward steam, and appears distracted as he follows their directory...but when the Mega Buster shifts and fires Ambrosius raises a hand, intercepting the shots.

"A variable weapon? Interesting." He states, leveling his ARM at him. Quickly, a part of the weapon is swapped out and he fires.

Where once before it fired off a beam of fiery light, the shot that comes out next is a sickly beam, and where it contacts a draining sense of illness and exhaustion spreads out.

GS: Ambrosius has spent 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Ambrosius has attacked Dash Caskett with VV-VENENO!
GS: Ambrosius has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Marivel turns her gaze towards the sonic boom busting in, eyes widening faintly. Is this what Yuna found at the temple? She allows herself a faint smile--not that she can actually talk to them like this. It's far too noisy to chat like this, but she does give a smile in their general direction. Shouldn't she be worried that the Summoner so many have put their hopes on is rushing into danger? All she can feel in this moment is relief that she is here.

???

"I don't go to school. How do you keep getting in here anyway?" Marivel groaned, rubbing at her face.

"Your parents let me in," Anastasia said, tossing the pan and ladle to the side. "They like my..." She waggled both hands palms forward from side to side. "...spunk!" Maddeningly adorable.

"Parents huh." Marivel said in a deadpan tone. "You know I'm a monster right? If you insist on bugging me I am going to devour you."

"Whaaaat," Anastasia said, pressing her hands on her face, puffing out her lips. "Can you devour this face? What's with the attitude anyway? You seemed to enjoy hanging out with me at the library and the last time I dropped by..."

It was true, of course, but Marivel kept being knocked off guard by this human and she felt like she had to draw a line in the sand or it would just keep happening and her pride as a Crimson Noble did not allow her to keep being flummoxed by this individual. What would her brethren say? Not that she sees her brethren all that often but she still wanted their respect and she felt she was on track to losing it.

"I have no reason to go to school, Ana." She insisted hopelessly.

"Pfffhhbt!" Ana made a noise that did not seem to correspond to any language but appeared to be a unique way of saying 'bullshit'. "Come on--" She grabbed her arm and started pulling. "I got here early but we don't have too much time to dally about. We're going to miss first period."

Marivel allowed herself to be pulled out of her coffin because the alternative was to drag Anastasia in and that would be very awkward. She let out a long yawn as she blinked blearily at the girl who kept bugging her.

"Do you need to shower in blood or something to clean up?" Anastasia asked.

"Do you need to shower in bacon grease?" Marivel retorted.

"Ew no!" Anastasia scrunched up her face in disgust.

"Exactly," Marivel said. "I will be down soon. I promise."

"Okay!" Ana said, resting a hand on her hips. "But if you try to escape I'm going to stake you."

NOW

Meanwhile Rikku feels Hob shifting around, pulling out from her inventory to look up at the terrified girl. It stares up at Rikku with its one good eye. It studies her expression and then it opens up its mouth and extends a long floppy tongue--

--which promptly attempts to lick her cheek in an attempt to reassure her. Don't worry Rikku. Hob is here. You've got a Hob protecting you and looking after your feelings. Lick lick lick lick. It's like a flying bat-dog. How can you be scared when there's a Hob that loves you very much?? Lick lick lick lick. It will protect you from war and prejudice Rikku. That is what friends do especially if you give screws as treats. You do give Hob treats don't you? You can give Hob a treat now if you want.

Marivel leaps away from the green laser blasts to a supernatural height, the blasts ripping through her cape and some just slightly glancing off her arms. She spins in the air once before landing near Rikku. "Tis true you know," She tells Rikku, smiling. "Yevon will not thank you for your aid." Her lips twist into a wider smile. "But you have not come for gratitude, have you? You have a bigger dream."

"You think I am doing this for Yevon, Kaguya? I am wounded that you underestimate me so or perhaps you think me the sort of woman who hides behind charity rather than trying to shape the future into the result I desire."

She slides backwards, leaping between green blasts. "Yes Filgaians used to think they would save our world but as you can tell, they were not so adept at it. When you see such machines as tools for war they will never give you the ending you desire. Tis a bit like a monkey paw that way."

She hoves back another foot before fanning her hands forward. "As for whether this is the reflexes of a superior being... Fu fu fu.... This is not even my final form!"

And with that she snaps her fingers and a slew of heavy gold coins start tumbling upon the gear from above. This is a very weird method of attack but, well, she is friends with Auron so having a Gil Toss style technique is just common sense.

"But I am not here to fight for Yevon. I am not a fan of organized religion but I have seen something on Spira that speaks to me. Do you wish to know what it is, Kaguya?"

GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Gella Crazy!
GS: Marivel Armitage has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: Dash Caskett takes a glancing hit from Ambrosius's VV-VENENO for 55 hit points!
GS: Dash Caskett has been weakened by Disease! Temporary hit points tick down 1 round!
GS: Dash Caskett suffers an additional 27 from Poison's Combo effect!
GS: Disease and Poison! applied to Dash Caskett!
<Pose Tracker> Amaterasu has posed.

    "Not from here, but afforded the same curse? Hm, hmm. Filgaia and its moon have many mysteries, it seems," the Veruni soldier remarks. Elvis would without question want to investigate further. The same may also be true for Ambrosius. Her sister... would play.
    Amaterasu's only concern is the battlefield, as it has always been.

    "Then so be it. Let us see what your deathless body can attain!"

    As the glimmer of Amaterasu's own armor fades, the warrior notes in passing the apparition that has appeared just beyond Lunata. A woman, in ancient matrimonial regalia...
    Behind the mask, Amaterasu purses her lips.

    She watches, taking hold of her weapon with both hands when she is asked the single question.

    Is she punishing them for failing?

    "There is no room for mercy in war. If you fail, then another must shoulder your burden and do what you could not." The commando inclines her head but once. "So to answer your question, yes. I am. They have staved it off, but that is--"

    She remembers what it looked like, seeing Sin. No, seeing how little their weapons could do.
    Watching a battlefield fill with corpses for no gain whatsoever. They all may as well have fallen on their own weapons for all the effect it had.

    Yevon had never been able to kill it.

    "--Not good enough!" Amaterasu snarls, at length. "It must be destroyed!"

    She lunges, catapulting forward with a leap across the docks. Valkyrja is held low and level, like a wasp might bear its stinger. Raising her weapon high in a moonlike arc as she closes, she brings it down in a merciless armor-breaking swing.

GS: Amaterasu has attacked Lunata Croze with De Integro!
GS: Amaterasu has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Amaterasu has completed her action.
GS: Lunata Croze critically Guards a hit from Amaterasu's De Integro for 31 hit points!
GS:  Dispel reduces positive status durations by 3 rounds each!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar guards a hit from Marivel Armitage's Gella Crazy for 84 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Xantia flexes her hand open and closes for a moment after the impact of her fist with solid metal. She did feel that, just not in the 'your hand is broken now' way that would have been expected in a normal person. She's not concerned about it, she's more concerned about whether or not that was a good delivery of Justice. She's been practicing, but it's always hard to judge whether or not she's doing a good job at it.

Good thing Ashton is there to provide some encouragement, that confirms that she's doing fine! Grinning ear to ear, she nods in acknowledgement. Justice it is!

Or, it will be, after she's dealt with the giant first swinging back her way. Which she does in the only way she knows: standing there and digging in her heels, to try and catch the blow. That's hardly a plan at all, and yet... this too sort of works. Rather than smashed, she is forcibly pushed back. The force is enough to bowl her over, but she's right back on her feet in no time.

Others have retorts for Leo's rebuttal, however when it's her turn to come up with one, she finds that to be difficult. Leo invoked the goddess instead of keeping things easy for her to understand, therefore Xantia is already lost, and her Heroic Mode quickly slips as a result. Now the only words she has are the ones coming from her heart.

"I don't understand anything you're saying! The people are suffering, so... so what, you're going to make it better by invading their city with Gears and breaking everything? Nobody needs that kind of help!"

She didn't really understand everything Ashton was saying either, but she heard the word 'lightning' in there, and she can certainly provide that. "My turn!" she announces cheerfully, before pausing to squint at the sea serpent tangling with the golem. "Is the snake monster helping us? ... Is that a person riding on the snake monster?" Xantia isn't up on her Spiran lore, she has no idea what's up with any of that. Doesn't make nearly as much sense as a guy with dragons growing out of his back.

Not that it matters for what she was planning. With a shrug, she braces herself... then launches herself off the sea wall. Wreathed by an aura of lightning, she sails through the air at an incredible speed, attempting to forcefully impact with Hashmal's back to give it a solid jolt... and hopefully find a way to latch onto it afterwards, rather than fall into the water afterwards. That would be bad.

GS: Xantia has attacked White Knight Leo with Like a Glint of Lightning!
GS: Xantia has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Xantia has completed her action.
GS: White Knight Leo critically Guards a hit from Xantia's Like a Glint of Lightning for 30 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Pearl has posed.


    Lightning. Of course it had to be lightning.

    The spells arcs to Pearl's hands, feet and face, the metal drawing the sparks right to her. Burns form on her skin, and momentarily, her gloves catch flame.

    Pearl does not seem to react to this, beyond patting out the fires. It hurt. It had to have hurt. But Pearl doesn't seem to care. ...She doesn't seem to care much for Ivan, either, her focus entirely on Seymour and his guardian. The magic Seymour brings to the battle is not to be ignored. Pearl glances up at him. "What he calls us is no matter." She says, partly, to Ivan, then turns back to Seymour. "The simple fact is that your death will save time, effort and your peoples lives. If we have to earn it, so be it." Pearl is without passion as she speaks, nut she has a front to present.

    She moves again, a series of feints and swift slahses reaching out at Biggs. She is testing him, testing his guard and defenses. Testing what it will take to draw him out of position. Each attack is carefully calculated, a quick kick here, and open palm there. Seymour may be no slouch himself, but she needs to be able to hit him first.

    And if she can do that, if she's worth what she thinks she is, she only needs to do so once.

GS: Pearl enters a Counter stance!
GS: Pearl has attacked Seymour Guado with Patient Wolf!
GS: Pearl takes 25 damage from Poison!
GS: Pearl has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    Ge Ramda lets out a faint screech as Lunata shifts her sheath and finds herself just in the interstice between being skewered cleanly like last time -- and having a shard of Orochi-Agito's sheath break apart and loosed across the air, cutting free and slashing rope across the ship. A sail starts to sag as its support rends loose.

    "If its destruction really was your goal, then cooperate further with them!" Lunata balks.

    "You wouldn't murder a cook for screwing up souffle the first time, right?!"

    Oh Lunata, your analogies are truly unique.

    The attack is enough to rock her off her feet again, though. She can't seem to get an advantage here. Her opponent's guard was too perfect.

    But she didn't lose the entirety of a Lazy Sunday to her just to crumple here and now. Damaged sheath or not, Lunata draws her blade back and follows that self-same process of disappearing--

    But this time, there's not one, not two, but five Lunatas appearing in the air. Afterimages, emblazoned with the prowess of her ki. One of them is the correct one. Probably the one in the middle, because Lunata is Lunata and wants to be the one to do the cool thing of--

    "Rosario... Impale!!"

    --having her afterimages descend one after another, each stabbing the ground to enforce the image of a Cross with her own self impaling in the centre where Amaterasu's position is. An eruption of (seemingly) divine light flourishes with the completed technique, threatening to catch the Valkyrja-wielding commando in its wake.

GS: Lunata Croze has spent 1 Combo on Poison, including 2 on Gatling!
GS: Lunata Croze has attacked Amaterasu with Rosario Impale!
GS: Lunata Croze has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lunata Croze has completed her action.
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Pearl's Patient Wolf for 54 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

Yuna's voice is difficult, but not impossible, for Rikku to hear, drifting back behind her.

"I'm sorry," she yells into the wind, and into the thunder too. "I just... wanted to keep you close..."

For good reason. They have a bird's eye -- well, a flying horse's eye -- view of the battle below, and the danger is spectacular. Auron, fighting Hashmal on foot. Belize and Leviathan continuing their assault. Maester Seymour, beset by assassins.

"...and get you close."

A forest of fungi is rising to meet them. Ixion could have avoided it, but it is not the nature of lightning to call off its strike halfway through. No, with a tinkle of crystal from his horn's jewels, he lowers his head and charges.

(They pass by Marivel in a single heartstopping millisecond. Yuna turns her head and meets her eyes in that moment, waving, and -- paraxodically, or perhaps not -- smiling. She's glad to see her. She's glad she's well. She's glad she's standing tall.)

Sparks -- they begin teal, and burn themselves out through the spectrum into gold -- pour off his hooves as he tears a path directly through the mushrooms. But some of him is torn off in turn; he leaves a trail of pyreflies, ghostly and softly keening, in a wake of his own.

And then he's at Cuchulainn -- and then he's past -- and there was a strike in there somewhere, but it's lost to the cloud of sparks and rockets exploding and the speeds involved and, most of all, to the simple mass that the machina represents. Even this aeon is dwarfed, though Ixion is far, far larger than any normal steed (even chocobos can't match him).

Someone else was lost to it, too. On the far side of the machina, only one girl still rides Ixion; perhaps that was the true purpose of the gambit.

When Seymour invoked Djose, Yuna's eyes widened in surprise, for she felt it directly -- her hand flew to her breast, and Ixion chimed again, shaking his head in mane-ruffling, braid-bouncing -- yes, Ixion's mane has some fat, awesome braids -- agreement.

But it's someone else's lesson that lingers in her heart, imparted countless times over the years, with more patience... and, sometimes, less.

Most machina are weak to lightning.

"Please, Ixion!" Yuna encourages him. He thrusts his horn skyward, and power gathers there. It takes a few moments; moments enough for her to answer this unexpected address. She didn't know she knew the pilot. Truthfully, she didn't know there was a pilot, and dismay crosses her face at that realization, plain as day for Kaguya to read.

"I love Rikku!" she yells back, battle making her unusually forthright with her feelings. "Getting to spend time with her means everything to me!"

The scent of ozone grows stronger. Electricity crackles golden at the horn's tip. Yuna's going to need a hairbrush; no one rides Ixion with their 'do intact, and she has a spectacular static afro now, fluffy doe-brown flying in all directions.

But her gaze pierces through it. It goes only in one direction, straight up at the face of her unexpected foe.

"And you aren't attacking Yevon -- you're attacking Luca, the city most beloved by all the peoples of Spira! In the name of the Crusaders who fell at Mi'ihen--" that was mildly heretical, someone should maybe talk to her later about running her mouth, but impassioned in the moment she isn't thinking a bit about the Grand Maester's dubious proclamation, "--I will defend it, in their place!!"

And then the spellspark erupts off Ixion's horn, flashing straight for the golem's massive eyes. It is both like and unlike Seymour's, which is to say that Seymour's is personalized and the spark of hope in Djose's is not. It is the simplest, purest expression of elemental magic that there is, breathtaking in its scope of expression.

(More thunder follows.)

Yuna winces. "Ooh. Sorry, Rikku..."

GS: Amaterasu guards a hit from Lunata Croze's Rosario Impale for 97 hit points!
GS: Amaterasu suffers an additional 26 from Poison's Combo effect!
GS: Poison! applied to Amaterasu!
GS: Yuna has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Thundara!
GS: Yuna has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Yuna has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    The sense of being recognized is the only thing that halts the further steps of the 'Al Bhed,' as they face down the Golem's hand. As if it were the only detail that were... wrong? Uncomfortable? Moreso than being just one man against a huge construct that can fell many better men in a single blow.
     The mechanical realities of the Golem's movements are easy enough to grasp - elementary, by his measure. The strange Symbologist moves his feet in accordance to the way even the fingers on that hand might sway, as that gives a window as to the angle of attack it might go for. It gives him clearance to ensure just one thing -
     - to ensure he's not reduced to ashes on the spot.
     No human body can withstand the smaller beam's fire without a miracle or equipment matching the Golem's in sophistication and strength, and Ethius appears to lack that one as the wash of heat singes away at his clothing. He throws his forearm inward again with a back-hop, and an explosion of rock and rubble from the impact sprays him full if further debris as it takes his very will to not pass out from heat exhaustion. Deafening and blinding electrical sparks - his Symbological barrier spell - holds him.
     It's what dampens down a force that should atomize him, into that of being a nasty bludgeoning as he's hurled from the epicenter of the blast, found face-down. Autonomy of his body leaves him for a short while in a daze, as Kaguya bandies about dialogue with the rest. She could write him off, in the heat of the moment.
     'Are you really going to stay and protect Yevon, though?' She says to another.
     An incredible display of electrical power marks the arrival of another power here, as a familiar sight - a bothersome one, but a familiar one - waxes poetic as they stand their ground.
     Then, there's another scowl - incredulous - that cuts through the swimming of sound and light as Ethius works back up to a kneel.
     'What are you doing on their side?' Kaguya asks incredulously of someone else. 'These Yevonites hate you for what you are!'

     SOME TIME AGO

     Jay and Cyre ask Ethius as to why he dresses the way he does. Why he so willingly subjects himself to cultural scrutiny by always picking out wardrobe choices that would highlight him as a cultural pariah. A cattle rustler from the Badlands, a Highwayman from Meribia... what he does now which has earned him no shortage of 'dude, not cool' looks from the locals whose clothing styles he's appropriated...

     NOW

     Kaguya's weapon is firing rockets. A momentary opening. Ethius moves from a crouch, a hobbling that turns into a full-on dash as he runs underneath rockets that aren't directly meant for him with a comfort no one should. If he raised his head any... he wouldn't have a head. At minimum.
     In a show of incredible Symbological comfort and aptitude, he goes about gesticulating with his free hand - something that requires a lot of focus unto itself - while chanting syllables, and running. Doing three things at once, at minimum. A shine of sorcerous Symbological light from his person gives away his position, as Ethius finishes the cast...
     "Fine Dust." Waves of ultra-fine dust particles fly for the open rocket hatches, an attempt to jam them in there before they can close back up.
     "You will not make the people of Spira pawns for your conquest." The Symbologist stands anew, too close to death. He isn't trembling. His reserved body language is downright unnatural - inhuman, even, devoid of hesitation or fear.
     Not even in the eyes... wait, his eyes? His mask is gone.

GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Fine Dust!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a glancing hit from Yuna's Thundara for 117 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! applied to Kaguya Alathfar!
GS: COUNTER! Kaguya Alathfar counterattacks Ethius Hesiodwith Counter Attack!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a solid hit from Ethius Hesiod's Fine Dust for 148 hit points!
GS: Jam! applied to Kaguya Alathfar!
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan actively tries not to pay attention to where Wedge fell, thinking he very well may have killed him, and not wanting to dwell on that when there is still enemies that need his focus.

Instead, he trains his attention on Seymour, waiting for his moment, and thinking he's found it as Seymour focuses on Pearl... New flickers of flame are already crackling around Ivan's hands, as Seymour suddenly turns back toward him and Wedge COMES RIGHT OUT OF NOWHERE, launching Ivan into position for a great spout of water to throw him skyward. The cold shock of the water and utter disbelief of the moment see Ivan unable to do anything but ride the spout and then make a hard landing, lying for a moment in a heap on the seawall some distance away.

Pain weighs down his limbs, and he comes back up to his feet shaking a little.

"A...all right, guess I need to try harder, too."

He manages to solidify his stance with a few more moments of focus, and returns to calling the spell he began before, sweeping his hand in a pattern through the air as a wind picks up. Fizzing, crackling sparks take shape in the air around him. As he pushes his arm forward, the tiny stars ride the wind toward Seymour and his guardians, where they begin to detonate in fiery blasts.

GS: Ivan has attacked Seymour Guado with Stars of Fury!
GS: Ivan has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Ivan's Stars of Fury for 163 hit points!
GS: Seymour Guado enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Shieldbreak expired!
<Pose Tracker> Rikku has posed.


Rikku manages to calm her hyperventilation a touch as Yuna apologies. "Don't be sorry. Even if I'm scared. I'm... with you."

Hob licks her cheek, and for some reason that's so surprising it jolts her out of it, "Hob! We're on a battlefield! Oh gosh! What am I going to do with you?"

You know it's one thing to hear her announced across the bay. It's quite another to hear her address her personally. "It's really you in there. Inside that giant Machina." Rikku says quietly, and for a moment she sounds almost ashamed as Marivel points it out, "I know that... I know... that." Before she then manages a faint smile, "No... I haven't."

She says quietly against Yuna. Even as Kaguya's rockets streak towards her. Caught up on Ixion's back, she tries to move to the side of the saddle to avoid them, but one hits her shield with a thunderous explosion that jars her loose, spraying smoke all over her as she starts to break into a hacking cough.

Rather than pull herself up into the saddle, she leans into Yuna's gambit, holding on from the side as she leaps onto the back of the bronze giant's neck. There's a scraping noise across its neck unto its shoulder, perhaps of Rikku's claw finding little purchase in the armor. Yet still sounds like she's having problems as she scrambles across the dripping bronze giant's backside at the highest speed she can muster safely.

"I'm not here for Yevon - Kaguya! Temrood didn't die for a world without Yevon! He died for a world without Sin! You said you were fighting for your people - so that Sin never reaches them-! I want the same thing you do- or at least I thought I did-! I didn't know it involved this! Just because I don't like how Yevon treats my people doesn't mean I would ever want this to happen to them!"

More scraping noises. What is she doing back there on the Golem's back? However she hears something quite clearly from Yuna - and touched, she says something else. "You want to know why I'm here? It's because I'm Yunie's Guardian. I love being Yunie's Guardian. Because... because-!" Before calling out in Al Bhed. "We family!"

Trying to use the Golem itself for cover, she keeps talking, her position seemingly rapidly changing. Like a bug climbing across the back of a giant person. An itch that just can't quite be scratched. However there's a banging noise - like she's trying to penetrate something with her claws, just below the shoulderblades."You called this Cuchulainn right? I have to admit - I'm really impressed what you managed to put together here - there's just one problem!"

GS: Rikku has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with The Claw!
GS: Rikku has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

"How certain you are," Seymour says with a soft chuckle.

Biggs stands his ground -- and Pearl finds his answer. She has seen his like before, doubtlessly, though the exact arms and accouterments may be different: sturdy, heavily armored, and inclined to stay in one place. Pearl's claw strikes slash and slam into his shield and, at times, his plate mail, leaving scratches it on them that glisten.

"Hwah!" Biggs grunts, focusing on staying put for the moment -- though there is give, as he is forced to take a step backward.

Seymour's eyes turn -- briefly at the two machina in the harbor, and Yuna upon Ixion's back -- and then they're all for his two foes.

One thing at a time, he tells himself.

Ivan's rain of fire comes crashing down upon the three of them. One strikes into Biggs, shoving him forward -- throwing his balance off for a key moment. Another two smash into Wedge, knocking him to the ground, before he springs up. One slams into Seymour's side, burning his flesh and robe alike. He hisses, looking up. "How well you use Yevon's gifts!"

He raises a hand into the air. There is a flash -- and a pulse of power -- before he unleashes a ball of darkness into the air. It undulates; when it twists, the area above this section of seawall grows dimmer. Then, there is a terrifying SCREAM from somewhere unknown -- and then a dozen lances of darkness explode out from the ball of darkness, six flying to skewer through Ivan and another six towards Pearl.

The orb of darkness winks out of existence a moment later.

GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Ivan with Rest in Peace!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Pearl with Rest in Peace!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Seymour Guado with Guado Guardian Cover!
GS: Disrupt expired!
GS: Seymour Guado has completed his action.
GS: Seymour Guado heals Seymour Guado! He gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Cover! applied to Seymour Guado!
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Rikku's attack becomes clear!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a solid hit from Rikku's Steal for 0 hit points!
GS: Disrupt and Jam! applied to Kaguya Alathfar!
<Pose Tracker> Rikku has posed.


"Since we haven't figured out how to make Machina of our own - we learn to be really good at taking them apart!"

<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    Leviathan screams in pain, and Leo's lips twist into a grim little line. That thing sounds like it can feel, even though it's some sort of heathen magic. Belize shoots back, and not just with the light roaring from the sea serpent's maw. Hashmal braces, shifting its weight forwards, onto one foot. It sweeps its blade in across its chest, the gleaming stone reflecting the light of Leviathan's power.

    The orb strikes the weapon head-on. A low, tectonic groan emanates from beneath it as Leviathan drives the Golem back a whole dozen feet. Cracks spiderweb across its blade. Auron and Ashton strike while the Aeon keeps Hashmal busy--Auron's blade buries itself in the Golem's calf, discharging energy into its systems. At first, Leo doesn't notice anything but the pain and physical damage; certainly it's less important than keeping the heathen creature and its water magic.

    "Call it what you like," Leo growls. A flurry of leaves catches his eye. A distraction. Ashton lands a half-dozen cuts in the space of that display, but none deep enough to break the armor. In the cockpit, Leo bites back a sound of pain as he experiences a half-dozen phantasmal paper cuts all over his face. "None Yevon does will matter. None of it will save this world!" Xantia vaults over Hashmal's head, an impressive leap to be certain--but when she tries to make an impact, she's met with heavy armor plating. Her fists slam into the Golem's steelly hide, leaving a dent, but nothing more. It's still far more than most could do with their bare hands.

    She's in the perfect position to see something unusual happen. Long, crystalline spikes are growing from glowing nodes on Hashmal's back. As Xantia watches, they double, triple, and then quadruple in size--they grow until they're sticking out from behind the Golem's shoulders like a brace of javelins.

    "ENOUGH!"

    Hashmal sweeps a hand aside. The spears rise from its back, hovering in the air above it. Three of them fling themslves towards Leviathan, launched like arrows from an invisible bow. Hit or miss, the Goddess Needles bury themselves deep within the earth, resonating with power. Leo's only real retort to Belize comes in the form of a sudden surge of power. The ground beneath Leviathan and their summoner turns into dozens upon dozens of jagged obsidian barbs, surging up through the water.

    Hashmal reaches behind itself. Its massive hand grabs for Xantia, and there is crushing strength in its grip. "I see now," Leo says. "I erred. And even after I was betrayed, I still had faith in your kind--in the people of Filgaia." Leo sinks forwards. A shadow falls across his eyes. "I was mistaken." Hashmal moves faster than something that big should move. In a heartbeat, it has both hands on its blade, and swings violently at Ashton--a blow meant to tear holes in other Gears. It carries through to Auron, and to the breakwall Auron's standing on.

    Leo is done listening. He should've been done after what happened to Mauri.

<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    Leviathan screams in pain, and Leo's lips twist into a grim little line. That thing sounds like it can feel, even though it's some sort of heathen magic. Belize shoots back, and not just with the light roaring from the sea serpent's maw. Hashmal braces, shifting its weight forwards, onto one foot. It sweeps its blade in across its chest, the gleaming stone reflecting the light of Leviathan's power.

    The orb strikes the weapon head-on. A low, tectonic groan emanates from beneath it as Leviathan drives the Golem back a whole dozen feet. Cracks spiderweb across its blade. Auron and Ashton strike while the Aeon keeps Hashmal busy--Auron's blade buries itself in the Golem's calf, discharging energy into its systems. At first, Leo doesn't notice anything but the pain and physical damage; certainly it's less important than keeping the heathen creature and its water magic.

    "Call it what you like," Leo growls. A flurry of leaves catches his eye. A distraction. Ashton lands a half-dozen cuts in the space of that display, but none deep enough to break the armor. In the cockpit, Leo bites back a sound of pain as he experiences a half-dozen phantasmal paper cuts all over his face. "None Yevon does will matter. None of it will save this world!" Xantia vaults over Hashmal's head, an impressive leap to be certain--but when she tries to make an impact, she's met with heavy armor plating. Her fists slam into the Golem's steelly hide, leaving a dent, but nothing more. It's still far more than most could do with their bare hands.

    She's in the perfect position to see something unusual happen. Long, crystalline spikes are growing from glowing nodes on Hashmal's back. As Xantia watches, they double, triple, and then quadruple in size--they grow until they're sticking out from behind the Golem's shoulders like a brace of javelins.

    "ENOUGH!"

    Hashmal sweeps a hand aside. The spears rise from its back, hovering in the air above it. Three of them fling themslves towards Leviathan, launched like arrows from an invisible bow. Hit or miss, the Goddess Needles bury themselves deep within the earth, resonating with power. Leo's only real retort to Belize comes in the form of a sudden surge of power. The ground beneath Leviathan and their summoner turns into dozens upon dozens of jagged obsidian barbs, surging up through the water.

    Hashmal reaches behind itself. Its massive hand grabs for Xantia, and there is crushing strength in its grip. "I see now," Leo says. "I erred. And even after I was betrayed, I still had faith in your kind--in the people of Filgaia." Leo sinks forwards. A shadow falls across his eyes. "I was mistaken." Hashmal moves faster than something that big should move. In a heartbeat, it has both hands on its blade, and swings violently at Ashton--a blow meant to tear holes in other Gears. It carries through to Auron, and to the breakwall Auron's standing on.

    Leo is done listening. He should've been done after what happened to Mauri. But there are others here who deserve his attention far more. The Goddess Needles carry Leo's awareness outwards--to Pearl and Ivan, fighting an enemy Maester. The ground beneath them trembles, and bits of rock and stone shift, surging upwards as if they had a mind of their own--moving to protect them as they engage Seymour and his Guardians.

GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Ivan with Goddess' Rampart!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Pearl with Goddess' Rampart!
GS: Pearl takes a solid hit from White Knight Leo's Goddess' Rampart for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield! applied to Pearl!
GS: Pearl completely evades a hit from Seymour Guado's Rest in Peace!
GS:  Dispel reduces positive status durations by 3 rounds each!
<Pose Tracker> Dash Caskett has posed.

"Yeah, I will concede they are kinda backward," Dash admits, thinking about just five minutes ago with that old battleaxe swinging her cane. "But they didn't do anything! They don't need to change! At least, not forcibly! Yeah, they need to know that technology is pretty great and all, but you can't point a gun at them and tell them to do it! They will resist all the way!" The makings of a horrible outcome.

"I wouldn't be me if I didn't!" Dash says with an affirmative nod. The two begin to square off again, and a well placed shot punctures the armor near where Dash's collarbone would be. A hand reflexively reaches up. Seemed to rather deep, but no blood seeps out.

<WARNING: INTERNAL CORRUPTION DETECTED, DEPLOYING COUNTERMEASURES_>

Internal klaxions let him know that wasn't just a bullet. More sparks from the bullet wound that are quickly routed, though the damage is plain to see. A hand goes up to hold a head. Vision becomes static-laced. "Little more than just gunfire, huh?" he asks, trying to put on a brave front. He points the Mega Buster his direction. "Yeah, it is capable of quite a bit, I will have you know! Here, I'll show you another!"

The golden glow resting at the weapon's heart turns a burnished red, color, as energy builds within. Another trio of shots fire, this time a vibrant red color. Firing them causes little recoil to Dash, but displaces the air around him viciously, and scatters loose debris and material.

Contact with these shots tend to chisel perfect, smooth sections out of buildings, and the boy doesn't use them lightly. But with someone this tough, it was warranted...

GS: Dash Caskett has spent 2 Combo on Gatling, including 2 on Gatling!
GS: Dash Caskett has attacked Ambrosius with Heavy Buster!
GS: Dash Caskett has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Dash Caskett takes 27 damage from Poison!
GS: Dash Caskett has completed his action.
GS: Ambrosius guards a hit from Dash Caskett's Heavy Buster for 91 hit points!
GS: White Knight Leo has activated a Boss Action!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Ashton Anchors with Rising Falcon!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Auron with Rising Falcon!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 1 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Xantia with Grab!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 1 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: White Knight Leo has spent 3 Combo on Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Belize with Grand Upheaval!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Auron critically Guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Rising Falcon for 34 hit points!
GS: White Knight Leo assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: Pearl used Defend! She takes Seymour Guado's attack on Ivan on herself!
GS: COUNTER! Pearl counterattacks Seymour Guadowith Counter Attack!
GS: Pearl takes a solid hit from Seymour Guado's Rest in Peace for 197 hit points!
GS:  Dispel reduces positive status durations by 3 rounds each!
GS: Ashton Anchors guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Rising Falcon for 106 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Amaterasu has posed.

    "They do not seem to be particularly interested in cooperation. We will do this our own way," Amaterasu answers, quick-stepping backwards as that piece of the sheath goes flying to points unknown (if only because the commando is not turning her head to look right here and now).

    Those glowing 'eyes' on the mask regard Lunata in absolute unreadable silence for a moment. "This isn't about baking a cake," says Amaterasu, who it should be noted never really cooks for herself beyond the very basic of basics. "This is about saving Lunar. And if you cannot tell the difference... then you have no business in determining the outcome."

    Valkyrja seemingly dances in her grip, spinning about to take up a guard-ready posture as Lunata leaps--

    As there are five Lunatas.

    "A mirage-stance? I see-- it has been a while--" the Veruni soldier declares, grinding her heels into the dock, her gaze perhaps flitting between Lunatas, searching and seeking for the one that is--

    "But I see you there, undying girl."

    --Real.

    With Lunata -- the real Lunata -- the shaft of Valkyrja rises to meet her blade with a sound of metal-on-metal that rings out like a bell.

    But there were others. And Amaterasu has made a slight miscalculation, particularly with the way in which Lunata's combination attack with herself ends.
    There is light. In its wake, Amaterasu drops to a knee, gripping Valkyrja as if it were a lifeline. She breathes, hard.

    "I see... I have underestimated you," she utters, before slowly -- staggeringly -- rising to her feet.

    "But this ends. Now."

    With a surge of speed, she lunges for Lunata, delivering what looks to be a barrage of strikes.
    It's a feint. Amaterasu falls back, one hand sliding upwards for a particular apeture near to the blade of Valkyrja.

    "You have been judged," she informs Lunata, as the hard light blade grows in size, transforming the spear into an oversized blade of gleaming light.

    This terrible thing is what she swings for Lunata and Lunata alone.

GS: Amaterasu has attacked Lunata Croze with Res Judicata!
GS: Amaterasu has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Amaterasu takes 27 damage from Poison!
GS: Cover expired!
GS: Amaterasu has completed her action.
GS: Ivan takes a solid hit from White Knight Leo's Goddess' Rampart for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield! applied to Ivan!
GS: Xantia completely evades a hit from White Knight Leo's Grab!
GS: Lunata Croze critically Guards a hit from Amaterasu's Res Judicata for 43 hit points!
GS: Belize critically Guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Grand Upheaval for 71 hit points!
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Pearl's Counter Attack for 103 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Pearl has posed.

    The darkness comes for Pearl, and she is ready. Even as Leo's earthen barrier comes up to protect them, she sees the situation for what it is. She can't hit Seymour from where she is now. His protector is tested, but the layout of the field is such that there is one place she CAN attack from.

    She moves, her own shadow magic being used to deflect some of the darkness, and she becomes a blur. In a second, the space she occupied is empty, and she is charging for someone else.

    For Ivan.

    She bodily slams him out of the way, taking the spheres of darkness upon her own body, pain coursing through her. She lets out a grunt of pain, as she launches herself forward, claws going for Seymour, aiming to slide through his guardian's protection, and hopefully connect with her target.

    And as she lands, she launches again, once more at Seymour, hoping the time she bought herself is enough. She moves forward, shadows obscuring her again as she uses Althena's Blessing to her advantage. Her final attack is simple, but brutal.

    She tries to drive her claws into the shoulders of whoever she connects with, and head level with his neck. Her silvered fang glints in the sun again, as she bites down brutally.

    Straight for the jugular.

GS: Pearl has attacked Seymour Guado with Jugular Fang!
GS: Pearl takes 29 damage from Poison!
GS: Pearl has completed her action.
GS: Seymour Guado has activated a Force Action!
GS: Seymour Guado critically Guards a hit from Pearl's Jugular Fang for 29 hit points!
GS: Auron has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    Frustration is getting bigger, in Lunata's mind. Nothing she's throwing at this commando seems to be fazing her, and she's coming up to the ends of what she's personally capable of in combat. There might just be a look of realisation when Amaterasu looks up at her--

    And calls her out--

    When she dives, grimacing as her blade once more locks with the haft of the polearm when she passes by; but she's saved by the build-up of light emerging from the technique.

    The one technique she probably could proudly call something she devised herself.

    There's no shortage of breath from Lunata, if only because her lungs don't work -- but the haggardness and sluggishness in her movement is evident. She's exhausted after that.

    But this ends. Now.

    Lunata's finding herself on the back foot again when Amaterasu blasts her with a barrage of strikes; there's a short hop backwards, a parry, but she doesn't catch on that they're all feints until--

    You have been judged.

    The light explodes and covers her vision for a moment, and the resulting effect is that of pure devastation. That is, that of a massive hole on the deck of the ship in which they're fighting, upon which Lunata fell through once again; she must have fallen several floors down from the sheer, devastating power of the Valkyrja's light.

    But wood is its own element.

    And from scattered wood, Amaterasu can first hear-- the notes of a shamisen being plucked, and more mirages appear before her. They're those of the bounty of a bamboo forest, translucent and bearing the selfsame signature ki of its user. Another technique, another piece of trickery...

    Iyooo... a koto drummer starts to play an erratic beat.

    And upon the frenetic notes of the shamisen's plucked strings--

    -=SLICE=-

    Lunata makes her move, slashing her own ephemeral bamboo apart and, hopefully should her blade not be predicted again, finding a bit of purchase against that glowing armor.

    She doesn't look good. That rent across her body's flowing more freely with that necromantic, black magic that sustains her together. Some of it is starting to seep apart like smoke in thin air.

GS: Lunata Croze has attacked Amaterasu with the Word for World is Forest!
GS: Lunata Croze has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

"Regardless, it is too late. Even if I wished, I could not stop them now. They have already been rallied." Ambrosius replies.

"My weapon is similar. However, yours appear to be directly integrated. Where did you acquire such a weapon?" He asks curiously.

Dash tells him he'll show him another, and Ambrosius watches cautiously. He can feel power building up as the glow of Dash's weapon changes color.

A trio of shots are released, and this time Ambrosius can sense that this is not something he can deflect recklessly. He shifts his stance to try to avoid them, but even so they manage to just clip him with another force to make him recoil. He lets out a grunt, and behind his helmet he winces.

They continue onward, smashing into and through a nearby building. He is lucky that he was not struck by them directly - even he might not be left in a good situation if they impacted solidly.

He tests his arm briefly - it's still moving, thankfully - and then begins to pace around Dash. He raises his ARM at him again...

...but rather than firing he closes the distance with alarming speed, a devastating punch aimed right for his midsection.

<Pose Tracker> Belize has posed.

    Belize doesn't know Ashton, but they appreciate that he seems to be on the same wavelength as them. By steel and sea indeed. This 'Mystery Hero X' is no slouch either, following up Ashton's disappearing-reappearing act with her own protest of Leo's actions and body-slamming Hashmal with lightning.
    
    "We are indeed on the same side," Belize calls over to Xantia--errr, MH X. They address her and Ashton together as they continue, "I am Belize, a Summoner and clergyfolk of Yevon. My Aeon, Leviathan, and I shall stand against the brutality and injustice of Althena's Warhounds to protect Luca!"
    
    Auron too continues his assault on Hashmal. One would barely think he's an on-foot soldier fighting a massive machina, the way his blade bites through metal as if it were paper. Truly he deserves his reputation as the strongest Guardian of all time. But the opponent is still a giant machina--and an intensely dangerous one, at that. The barbs of obsidian rock shear up towards Leviathan's belly, to rip and tear and slash. He twists around just in time to take them instead on his scaly, protected back; while the attack is painful to the Aeon, the slashes are superficial rather than deadly, as they otherwise would have been.
    
    Belize hangs on tight, in the meantime. As usual, Leo's words nettle them something fierce. "And you think YOU can save the world? Hah! Such ignorance! Such arrogance! You look down on our High Summoners for failing to defeat Sin permanently, but your goddess's mightiest warrior did even less than that!!" They flings an arm to one side. "I've thought long since when we spoke days past, Leo! You said that your goddess gave life to this world and created a haven from Gaia, a dying world! But people still live *on* that dying world! Do you understand what that means? It means your 'loving, benevolent' goddess left them behind to ROT!! She ABANDONED them! Of course they 'betray' you! They see you and your Althena for the fork-tongued devils you are!"
    
    It's just as well that Leo's decided not to listen any longer... for Leo, anyway. Belize will be plenty pissed when they realize how much of their breath they wasted. When Leo moves then to support two more of his people--people who are even now attacking Maester Seymour--they snarl in defiance. Belize had had faith in Seymour's ability and his Guardians' ability to protect him, but this... they will not tolerate. They won't let these vile tribesmen kill someone as good and kind as Seymour Guado!
    
    "Leviathan! It is time!" they call, thrusting out a hand. "If he would turn his back on us, teach him just how foolish it is to underestimate the Lord of All Waters!"
    
    Leviathan keens in agreement, power surging from their long, sinuous body. It's now that one might notice that the tide has remained awfully low for a fairly long while. It's now that one might notice a wave growing in the distance and coming closer with terrifying rapidity. Spirans will immediately recognize the tsunami for what it is, being a natural *and* unnatural maritime disaster. This one, however, will only capsize and crush whatever Guard ships it can catch under its surge, however--before crushing down towards Hashmal with devastating, pinpoint force. Hit or miss, the waters will then wash away from Luca and its breakwall and even out to its right-now natural state... Though the ocean won't be able to stay out forever if said breakwall goes down after all.

GS: Ambrosius has attacked Dash Caskett with Advancing Charge!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
GS: Belize has attacked White Knight Leo with Overdrive - Tsunami!
GS: Belize has completed their action.
<Pose Tracker> Auron has posed.

Leo talks of being betrayed. And then swings the massive blade the robot carries as though to destroy everything around him. That's how it usually works -- lashing out in anger only begets destruction.

Auron turns his blade to meet the robot's massive one... and it actually seems that he's going to be able to clash with it...

For a moment.

Auron grunts in pain as the force of the blade sends searing pain into his arms as he pushes back with all his might...

And the robot's massive blade slides off of Auron's own.

Though it does also destroy his footing, so there's that. He slips from his perch, as the stones beneath him fall apart. And he somehow rights himself in the air, landing on another falling chunk of stone. He leaps from it, to another, trying to get up as high as he can before he loses all hope of counter. He's not super-fast, so this isn't any super-acrobatic series of sift leaps -- the fact that he's managing at all is pretty damned amazing.

All the while he's climbing, he's gathering his qi, channeling it into his blade, and golden energy crackles around it, and him. It's when he's climbed as high as he can reach that he unleashes the energy. A spark of something flickers in his expression here -- a spark of the anger of times past, a tiny flicker of the man he might once have been -- as he strikes back at the robot, swinging with all his might.

All the gathered energy in the blade EXPLODES from the blade should it impact. The strike might even be enough to actually ROCK the massive robot. Should it hit, of course. Falling through the air after jumping on chunks of falling debris is not really conducive to aiming a good shot. It's a good try, at least. And it should leave no room for doubt as to that he is Very Much Not Pleased.

<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

Leo seems to be getting angry. That's okay, as far as Ashton's concerned. When the guy you're fighting gets angry because you talked at him, it's a good sign that you're the one who's right.

This does not do much to make being punched in the everything by a fist the size of a shoupuff feel nicer, though.

Ashton simply... takes it. It's a blow that would knock holes in a Gear.

The Symbological Swordsman simply braces his feet, hunkers down and takes it.

It, by no means, leaves him unscathed. In fact as Hashmal pulls its fist back, Ashton looks quite bloodied by it. And sort of irked.

A pause. He wipes a bit of blood from the corner of his mouth. "No, White Knight. Not enough." Over each shoulder, Creepy and Weepy start to weave back and forth like snakes. The movement seems random. It is not. Those well learned can likely spy a pattern in the movements: a tracing with their heads of Symbology in the air. Of power.

"Never enough while you strike at those who are helpless. Never enough while you lord over those in need. Never enough while you sneer with your self-superior ways. Never while you inflict cruelty and bloodshed and claim it righteous!" Ashton begins to glow. It starts from his hands, flowing up his arms. Red on one side; blue on the other. It envelops him quickly enough.

"Let there be no mercy for those blind to justice and truth. And might for those who stand for it."

GS: Auron has attacked White Knight Leo with Shooting Star!
GS: Auron has completed his action.
GS: Ashton Anchors has attacked Ashton Anchors with Draconic Might!
GS: Cover expired!
GS: Ashton Anchors has completed his action.
GS: Ashton Anchors heals Ashton Anchors! He gains 150 temporary hit points!
GS: Mighty! applied to Ashton Anchors!
GS: Amaterasu guards a hit from Lunata Croze's the Word for World is Forest for 87 hit points!
GS:  Dispel reduces positive status durations by 3 rounds each!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Belize's Overdrive - Tsunami for 236 hit points!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Auron's Shooting Star for 107 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan sees the rain of dark energy coming down, but he's not moving as well after the waterspout experience--something may have twisted or sprained, and he takes a false step as his leg jolts with a protest of pain. Before he has time to rally to push through it, Leo's earthen shield rises up from the seawall, providing some partial cover, and Pearl dives for him as a blur, knocking him completely out of the path of the spell.

He stares up at her as she takes on the full brunt of the magical barrage, and still surges forward for Seymour. Was she protecting Ivan?! Shame rises up at the thought. And what a waste -- if she knew --... or was he just in the way?

...But this isn't the time to think about that stuff!

He rises again, because the impact of the save threw him off his feet, and he pulls a collection of throwing knives from his coat, tossing them into the air. Fire swirls around them, taking the shape of phantom hornets with blades for their stingers, as they race through the air toward the enemies.

GS: Ivan has spent 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Ivan has attacked Seymour Guado with Fire Wasps!
GS: Ivan has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from Ivan's Fire Wasps for 126 hit points!
GS: Seymour Guado suffers an additional 23 from Poison's Combo effect!
GS: Poison! applied to Seymour Guado!
GS: Seymour Guado enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Dash Caskett critically Guards a hit from Ambrosius's Advancing Charge for 26 hit points!
GS: Ambrosius assumes the Avenger stance!
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

"I don't think that's why you're here," Kaguya answers Marivel, "But the results are the same, aren't they? If you're telling me it's just a move in a broader plan, I can respect that. ...Not enough to back off, obviously." The titanic form of Kaguya's Golem shifts closer, water cascading off of its bulk. It's... big. Not just tall, but wide, in the shape of a bloated monsrosity.

"Well, I can't speak for what the ancients did--I wasn't there. I won't get to know, until I can get back to Filgaia, maybe. But I'm not waiting for these to give me anything--the weapons are only part of the story. I don't plan to rely only on my machines."

She has to rely on this machine to hold up, though, because Marivel's magic starts hitting it hard enough to actually leave dents in its armor with seemingly inexaustible coins. Of all the things Kaguya expected here, being attacked by money now that she's rich is not one. "...You have some weird magic," the small Veruni says as she flips more switches to reinforce inner plating. But...

'I love Rikku!' "Love, huh? That's gonna make the next few minutes real ugly," the voice echoes again over the speakers, tinged with something not kind enough to be regret. "It complicates things. Makes you do dumb stuff. Does it to me sometimes, too." But then, she keeps going as she turns her Golem to face her largest foe, "I'll rebuild it," Kaguya answers Yuna blithely. "What's one more bad day to a bunch of people used to living in fear anyway? Do they have the saying about omelettes and broken eggs here in Spira?" Kaguya runs her mouth right back as she sets the controls, preparing this time to move her Golem out of the way of Ixion's powerful magic, a magic meant to go against the greatest of foes. She succeeds to a point--Cuchulainn's face is shifted out of the path, and instead that pure lightning crashes against the Golem's shoulder, splashing out in all directions with crackling force that spiderwebs across the mechanical monstrosity's body, the sheer quantity of lightning such that even dodging is not sufficient to completely evade its power.

"All right. I can tell words won't convince you if you're fighting for something as important to you as them. So we'll go action to action, and I'll show you what I can't explain about how serious I feel."

Kaguya's Golem begins to charge something--whatever it is isn't clear, but the aura of power building around it, though invisible, is tangible. ...If tinged, a moment later, with dust that also starts flowing into the Gear's systems along with power.

'You will not make the people of Spira pawns for your conquest.' "And why not?" Kaguya asks. "It's the nature of the weak to be used by the strong. At least I'm actually thinking what the people under me might get out of it--that's a lot more than they'd get from most. Like even if Yevon does care about them--" She scowls. At this point, the dust starts to take effect, scratching up important internals, causing small explosions along the lower vents that don't bring the mighty Golem down but do fire klaxons into Kaguya's personal displays of damage alerts bigger than she'd like. "Do you do anything other than stand around, be super creepy, and break things, Ethius? I dunno what they see in you." Pause. "But--" She stops. "...Huh. So that's what your face looks like." She seems surprised enough that she doesn't even strike immediately. Meanwhile, around back, before Kaguya actually seems to register that Yuna is on Ixion alone--

What Rikku can see of Cuchulainn's mechanisms, even the small parts she can get to via the panels at its shoulderblades, is incredibly advanced--easily on par with the greatest of the wonders the Al Bhed have salvaged, its form is threaded with wires, inscribed with words in a language she's probably never seen. But within? There's the sounds of scratching along the back of the Golem's form, and Kaguya can hear the alarms in the cockpit as suddenly her displays tell her that one of the maintenance hatches in back has been pried open. She frowns. But then, she does listen to Rikku as she's tapping instructions into another input device, and though Rikku can't see the sharp look she's giving, there is at least enough quiet for her to finish. "Then you're naive!" Kaguya snaps back at her. "Do you think change happens without blood? That your enemy will just give you what you want if you ask nicely? Yevon won't stop getting in our way--so to defeat Sin, I'll go through them!" She pauses, then.

"...Guardian, huh?" she says, and it may seem that she forgot she had the microphone still on from that thoughtful tone. Nevertheless,Rikku has the small hatch open--and her actions send a spark through its wiring, briefly overwhelming a few weapons systems enough that they spark at the head, sending alarms going. "Hmph. Not bad."

Kaguya slams one more button, "But I've got ways to deal with interference." The Golem pauses where it is--and then suddenly with a hiss of steam, vents all along its head and shoulders pop open, and a green, acrid smoke floods out of them--not only for Rikku, but for Marivel up close enough to fight, too. "So, what's this problem of yours?"A beat, "And yeah, I'll bite," she answers Marivel. "what's this thing that speaks to you? Because I've seen something here that speaks to me, too."

Kaguya's Golem breathes in again, but this time it's not the smoke. Ethius can feel something tugging at his power, at the same power that gives force to his Sorcery--but not only that. It is as if a spell is searching for something more human within him, darker, ugly in a way that isn't only passive... But he has bigger things to concern himself with.

The rockets burst along the ground, but the Golem leans down and from its mouth like something spit projects something grenade-sized, flashing with green light, plastic and metal and black and white, bouncing along the ground--straight towards where Ixion now stands.

"Heh heh. See how you like this one, then."

GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Devour Iniquity!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Yuna with Magnetic Resonator!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Overclock!
<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

Biggs is still reeling, and he stumbles forward. He nearly collides into the ground -- and that lets Pearl move. She is struck by the energy spears meant for Ivan, and then she rushes towards Seymour. She slips past Biggs, and he realizes--

--but realizes too late to stop her. "No!"

Seymour spins. There is a split second, in which her claws slam into and through the blue fabric of his shoulders. Blood -- red, instead of the greyish red of a full Guado -- wells open. Pearl's mouth opens, fangs glinting. And, then, Seymour's wooden ceremonial staff cracks down hard on her head, slamming her to the side.

Her claws rip out, leaving bloody cuts that prompt a snarl of pain from the Maester. "I've no intention of dying in such a fashion," he spits at her, heatedly.

He holds his hand out over his head again. A flash of red light erupts from him, his tattered and bloodied robes billowing. Then, he thrusts his hand out at Pearl, and a little bead of black energy hurtles outward. "Sing, muse, of a people abandoned and a world left desolate! Sing, I command, and deliver unto us our--"

And the bead of black energy explodes. A thousand shafts of blinding white light explode outward, and a shockwave of energy that rattles and shakes the seawall, and threatens to pitch Pearl into the sky -- or into the city -- as Seymour screams over it:

"REQUIEM!"

The fiery wasps come crashing in a moment later. Two slam into Seymour from behind, sending him pitching forward with a hard stumble. One comes for Biggs, but he swings his shell-shaped shield up, and the fire hornet bursts apart into sparks. One catches and slashes into Wedge, drawing a loud hiss from him. He drops to a knee, breathing hard, and then grabs a potion from his belt; he drinks it down quickly.

Seymour spins, staring at Ivan with a baleful look. "The hound keeps baying and baying AND BAYING!" he screams, veins starting to bulge. "HOW MANY TIMES MUST I KICK IT BEFORE IT DIES!?"

He thrusts both hands out. A blast of flame explodes behind Ivan; that may do precious little, but the concussive force might knock him to aside. However, it is promptly followed by a blade of ice that erupts under his feet.

Then, Seymour spreads his hands out to each side. A bolt of lightning crashes down from above -- and then a geyser of water explodes from underneath Ivan's feet.

GS: Seymour Guado has spent 3 Combo on Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Pearl with Requiem!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Ivan with Quad-Elemental Burst!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado takes 20 damage from Poison!
GS: Seymour Guado has completed his action.
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a solid hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Overclock for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! applied to Kaguya Alathfar!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has spent 1 Combo on Poison, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Rikku with Toxic Exhaust!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Marivel Armitage with Toxic Exhaust!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has completed her action.
GS: Marivel Armitage takes a glancing hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Toxic Exhaust for 49 hit points!
GS: Marivel Armitage suffers an additional 29 from Poison's Combo effect!
GS: Poison! applied to Marivel Armitage!
GS: Rikku takes a solid hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Toxic Exhaust for 94 hit points!
GS: Rikku suffers an additional 29 from Poison's Combo effect!
GS: Poison! applied to Rikku!
GS: Ethius Hesiod guards a hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Counter Attack for 84 hit points!
GS: Ethius Hesiod takes a glancing hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Devour Iniquity for 80 hit points!
GS: Ivan completely evades a hit from Seymour Guado's Quad-Elemental Burst!
GS: Cover! applied to Seymour Guado!
GS: Seymour Guado assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: Ethius Hesiod used Defend! He takes Kaguya Alathfar's attack on Yuna on himself!
GS: Ethius Hesiod critically Guards a hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Magnetic Resonator for 11 hit points!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar assumes the Stoic stance!
GS: Pearl takes a glancing hit from Seymour Guado's Requiem for 104 hit points!
GS: Pearl has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Xantia's impact at least looked flashy, which is an important aspect for the attacks of any hero. Now if only it would have actually done a little more to the machine. She catches some of what Belize is saying, enough to learn that they're on the same side, but she's a bit too preoccupied scrambling for a handhold to respond. And once she's managed to grab on, she's too preoccupied trying to come up with where to go from here. She had zero plans beyond the crazy stunt she just pulled.

Although when she sees those crystal spikes start to form, an idea starts forming in her head. She figures those are going to be used in an attack, so she braces herself, holding herself steady... and thankfully, that attack was not meant for her.

What is meant for her is the giant hand, seeking to pluck her off like an annoying insect. This prompts an instant flashback - she's gotten caught in the crushing grip of a Gear before. She is not keen on having that happen again.

The more appropriate analogy, rather than an insect, might be an eel, considering how Xantia manages to slip through the Golem's fingers, narrowing evading the attempts to grab hold of her. It's a wonder that she doesn't fall off in the process of shifting her position through acrobatic movement. Perhaps this is where all that previous experience clambering onto active Gears is paying off! Not that any of that was meant to be practice for anything. Xantia just Does Things. Things that make one wonder how she's still alive.

But still alive she is, and still hanging on when Leo turns his attention back to the other attackers. Now, Xantia has a moment to respond. While perhaps unwise to respond with words first, she feels that she has to, given what was said just now.

"You're blaming all of Filgaia just because we're fighting you? ...Now I get it. You're blaming all of Spira just because one guy said some awful things." She doesn't quite get the big picture, not really. But she believes that she gets what's going on here well enough. "That's not what heroes do. Heroes fight the source of the evil! Fighting against everything the evil caused to happen won't solve anything!"

That's quite enough words. And Xantia believes she has the proper way to punctuate her statement. It's to activate the energy blade of her ARM bracer, and try to repeatedly drive it straight into those nodes that formed the crystal spikes just now. It might be a weak point, but even failing that, trying to take out that weapon seems like a good plan.

GS: Xantia has attacked White Knight Leo with Frenzy Dance!
GS: Xantia has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Mighty expired!
GS: Xantia has completed her action.
GS: White Knight Leo critically Guards a hit from Xantia's Frenzy Dance for 36 hit points!
GS: Xantia's Avenger stance ends.
<Pose Tracker> Amaterasu has posed.

    Lunata may be her target. But Valkyrja's reach in this mode -- with all limiters released -- is great. The destruction is by no means limited to the Lunata alone. The ship receives its own brand of devastation. It has begun to list to one side...

    The light dies. Amaterasu alights upon a beam of fracturing wood, gazing down into the depths as if to seek after her opponent. Just once, she twists the apeture on her weapon, returning its capacity to a more normal -- and safer -- range of expression.

    But wood is its own element.

    Her head jerks upwards, as if hearing that distance sound of an instrument.

    "You are not dead," she murmurs, gazing into the bamboo wood that has sprung about her. "But where are you now?" She twists, as if seeking from what angle Lunata might next pierce the illusion, her eyes surely seeking, seeking behind that mask that betrays nothing to the outside world.

    The strike comes in from behind. The bamboo passes in a fog of green.

    Amaterasu is not in time to meet the blade.
    But her armor, ah. That stays the slice from her flesh. Though the rent in it is deep.
    The rent in the Veruni-forged armor, product of five thousand years of perfected armor-crafting techinque, uninterrupted by the death of civilizations.

    "What is it like," Amaterasu utters, without turning to face Lunata.

    "To never die?" Valkyrja's blade has reappeared, glimmering above the fractured ship's deck.

    "Soldiers handle the threat of death in many ways. But, ah, you will never need those means, will you?"

    She turns, at last, to face Lunata.

    "You are much like Sin yourself, child." She walks towards Lunata slowly. "'One that cannot die'. But I am a soldier, and even if it is impossible, I must kill anything that stands against me or my people. Human. God."

    The pause, such that it is, hangs in the air for only a fraction of a second.

    "Or you."

    She rushes for Lunata, seeking to sweep her into the air with Valkyrja's pole and then have at her while she descends.

GS: Amaterasu has spent 3 Combo on Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Amaterasu has attacked Lunata Croze with Vis Major!
GS: Amaterasu has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Amaterasu takes 27 damage from Poison!
GS: Amaterasu has completed her action.
GS: Lunata Croze guards a hit from Amaterasu's Vis Major for 93 hit points!
GS: Lunata Croze enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    What is becoming rather clear from this battle is the sheer difference in skill. Lunata is a waitress, was a waitress from two years ago, and the way in which she can't keep avoiding assault and get into a better position. It's clear to her.

    What is it like, to never die?

    Amaterasu speaks of how soldiers handle the threat of death. But does she need those means...?

    "... that really gives me some peace. Knowing you'd dedicate yourself to killing me. I'm looking forward to it..."

    And with that seemingly resignant tone, Valkyrja erupts through the air again from where she's still recovering from her attack. Once more, Lunata finds herself struck -- this time into the air, and then impaled clean through as she finds herself with an almost manic cackle.

    In her ailing countenance, Lunata remarks, "I already know I can't beat you on my own terms. So, trickery it is. If I can't defeat you..."

    Iyoooo... calls that same drummer, before his eyes burst into flame as his hair bursts out to the wild, sensation of a yokai.

    "Then I'll call upon a hundred demonic allies!"

    The very floor itself becomes ink-like and purple, inviting one to the very canvas upon which the netherworld awaits. The realm in which comes those translucent spectres, much like the first to emerge from Lunata, who, upon Amaterasu's completed descent, appears to have disappeared into this imagery once more. Trickery.

    Here, the painter herself renders her unearthly parade of a hundred youkai...

    ...ka-ta-shii-ha-yaaa...

    The night is lit by paper lanterns. Upon closer inspection, they are obake, each with a single eye and with a careless, drooping their tongues out as they work their magic.

    ...e-ka-seee-ni-ku-ri-niii...

    A number of tsukumogami umbrellas hop behind the paper lanterns. The stem of their handle, however, bear a single bare foot each as they bounce around, also with that self-same singular eye as they cackle eerily!

    ...ta-me-ru-sa-ke...

    Several walls depicting that which may have been a traditional, paper-lined town erupts. The raucous laughter of several red and blue oni can be heard as they march, yellow-eyed, carrying clubs that thunder the ground...

    ...te-e-hi, a-shi-e-hi...

    The heat of a summer night, the echos of cicada in the distance complete the picture. Several ladies in what appear to be almost Yevon-like kimonos complete the march -- but their necks are loose as they stretch snake and serpentine from their shoulders, being rokurokubi.

    ...wa-re-shi... ...ko-ni-ke-ri...

    And within this parade! This night parade of a hundred demons, this pandemonium of demonic revelry! The shakuhachi flute reaches a fever pitch with the fervent march of the taiko drums. The illusory yokai's wild dance, and within it--

GS: Lunata Croze has spent 2 Combo on Poison and Link, including 1 on Gatling!
GS: Lunata Croze enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Lunata Croze has attacked Amaterasu with the Path to Yomotsu Hirasaka!
GS: Lunata Croze has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lunata Croze has launched an attack Link!
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

                      "Cast aside all earthly desires...
                               ...Embrace impermanence."

    The hundred yokai cascade away in dance to either side of Lunata as she stands on her created parade on a midsummer night; this is no artful dance, hardly equivalent to the grace and precision of a Sending dance. This is the dance wrought forth of that which dances the path to Yomotsu Hirasaka. A dance with a blade. And its name--

                                 "...Midare--
                               --Setsugekka...!"

    --brings forth a chaotic flowerfall.

GS: Lunata Croze has spent 2 Combo on Poison and Gatling, including 1 on Gatling!
GS: Lunata Croze has attacked Amaterasu with Scatter...! Midare Setsugekka!
GS: Lunata Croze has gained 1 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has activated a Boss Action!
GS: White Knight Leo has spent 3 Combo on Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Auron with Lion's Howl!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Belize with Lion's Howl!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Ashton Anchors with Lion's Howl!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    The rest of the Goddess Needles embed themselves in the battlefield. One slams into the breakwall, punching through the rock like a tack through paper. Another buries itself in the pounding surf just beyond. As each crystalline needle finds its mark, Leo's awareness of the field expands. He senses the roar of water behind Belize's blasphemous words. Terror races down his spine as he realizes what the Summoner is trying to do--what will happen if that wave is allowed to continue towards the fleet, unchecked. "Destiny!" Leo hisses, into the Breeze-Message Infuser that serves as his Golem's radio. "Open fire with secondary armament!" Further out in the bay, the Dragonship stops harrying the defenders on Luca's walls, and breaks for the rest of the fleet.

    Leo has Auron to deal with, too. The master swordsman is an easy thing to lose in Gear-scale combat--he's not even a tenth as tall as Hashmal. Nevertheless, his blade strikes true, burying itself to the hilt in the Golem's armor. Auron's power boils off it, shredding through the armor at the Golem's thigh; it staggers in sudden pain, struck while its pilot had his attention elsewhere. Leo grits his teeth, and forces his attention back to the battlefield--

    But something's wrong. The power thrumming through the Goddess Orb feels dulled somehow, muted. Leo wonders, for a moment, if this is Borgan's machine hitting a failure point, but no--no, this must have been their doing. Which one of them was it?!

    Leo hasn't connected Auron's strike to the interference in his machine. This might work out to the swordsman's advantage.

    Beneath Hashmal, the earth rises in an improvised breakwall to match Luca's own. Beyond, Leo can see the Destiny, streaking out in front of the fleet, cannons blazing as it brings fire magic to bear. It's almost lost in the shadow of the tidal wave. Some of the Guard ships seem to be clear. Others are not. Hashmal thrusts out a hand, and pillars of earth surge from the depths, one after another. Waves wash outwards, carrying some of the Guard's ships away--

    The wave crests, and breaks. Xantia slams her fists into the Gear over and over, but Leo barely feels the impact--barely hears her voice. Belize's tidal wave slams into Hashmal, carrying one of the Guard's ships along with it. For a few moments, the Golem is completely lost.

    When the wave rolls out again, Hashmal lies in the surf, gripping half of the ship by its stern. Leo doesn't need to look to know that not everyone survived. The Gear rights itself, planting a hand in the surf and rising to its feet. The numbness he felt after Operation Mi'ihen is gone. All that's left is raw, burning anger--anger for this place, which vomited Sin into the world, and for its Church, which has failed to put a permanent end to it. Anger that their heresy cost the good people of Azado their lives.

    Leo isn't sure which one is worse.

    Hashmal rounds on Belize and their Aeon, blade raised. Crystal grows to fill in the damage from Leo's earlier parry. Chi boils around the blade. Leo plants a foot into the bay, lets loose with a howl of rage--and the Lion howls with him. The Golem's sword drops like the blade of a guillotine. Energy surges off of it, flash-boiling the water as it races towards Leviathan--and then, potentially, through Leviathan, to Auron and Ashton on the breakwall. It is not going to do anything for the breakwall's structural integrity.

    Xantia, perhaps foolishly, gets ignored.

<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

To Marivel it isn't a paradox at all. She is smiling right back at Yuna. She hasn't forgotten here conversation with Auron nor her realization. She waves a hand up at Yuna. For a millisecond. For a heartbeat. There is something in her eyes too though in a moment like this it is hard to pick it out. But one thing that is not hard to pick out is Yuna shouting that she loves Rikku. So much for secret sisterhood. She laughs vibrantly at Yuna's words, not out of humor nor out of cynicism but out of joy. Joy that two have forged such a powerful bond in, by all appearances, such short of time. Joy at what she sees in that bond. Joy because of how closely that bond resembles her own dream, the dream in which she is willing to slide Filgaia along with the rest of the chips she's gambling with her secret purpose and methods. Lunar too is in tht pile and she holds her cards close to the chest and she bluffs well, smiling wickedly regardless of the hand she is holding. It could be an Ace high for all anyone knows. She might not even be holding poker cards.

Hob nuzzles against Rikku happily as if totally ignorant of what's going on. Marivel letes out a cheer when Rikku shows her proud Al Bhed heritage. In that moment, she is as Crimson Notble as Noeline is. That is a position to Marivel just as worthy as the title missing a 't'.

And Ethius reveals a truth that fits into Marivel's understanding of the situation. The Veruni have their own designs here.

And as Kaguya bites, Marivel remembers.

???

just as Marivel promised, she met Anastasia at the front gate, heavily shrouded in robes to keep off the hateful sun complete with protective sunglasses.

"Stylish." Ana grinned at her. Marivel rolled her eyes.

"Why do you want me to go to school?" Marivel grumbled. "I have everything I need here in the castle....

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXtCC9eKQqM

Ana turned to look back at her, eyes wide open. "Who am I talking to and what have they done with my friend? I thought the Blood Princess Marivel Armitage dreamt of adventure, of seeing the world outside their castle walls and breathing it all in! Of living their unlife to the fullest? The door to adventure is open, Marivel, you simply have to walk through! You have so many friends to make besides me, the greatest ARMsmeister that the world will ever see." She paused for a moment and then added, "I am going to be the best friend you have so try not to judge your newer friends based on the Anastasia scale or you'll keep being disappointed."

There was that spunk, Marivel thought, managing a small smile despite being terribly tired and about to walk into the sunlight again. Despite the wild path her words were taken, she sensed not a lick of deception, doubt, or even self-doubt in her words. She was completely confident in what she was saying.

Marivel was not so confident. She has heard plenty of stories of angry humans wanting to kill her kind or steal their power. Her parents were the source of most of those stories even though they always assured her that not all humans were like that.

"What if..." Marivel began, hating the question that was forming on her lips because it sounded so pathetic. How had this mortal done this to her? She tried to reframe the question in a way that sounded slightly less pathetic. "What if they are frightened of me?" That worked.

"Whaaat?" Anastasia said, enunciating exactly like the first time. She wrapped an arm around Marivel and gave her a one-armed hug. Marivel squirmed but it was a quick gesture of affection and Ana pulled away quickly.

She smiled an earnest smile at Marivel, eyes beaming not with hope but with certainty. It was a kind of trust, of faith that Marivel had never seen before in another's eyes. Between all the wordplay and political and interpersonal games of her people, she rarely saw such unguarded openness and yet here this weird human was showing it all to her. She was nothing like the humans in the stories.

"They're gonna love you." Anastasia promised though it was less a promise and more a statement of fact, a secret truth that she could make reality simply by believing in it so much reality would have to begrudgingly follow alongside her wishes. Marivel was struck dumb and she gave a small nod to her friend.

Friend... Is this what it was like to have one of those? It must be infuriating. She could scarcely understand how humans kept making them.

Anastasia saw right through her concerns and led her through the gates and into the light and just like that, just as promised...

The door to adventure was open.

NOW

"I saw the future I am fighting for," Marivel says. "I see trust. Trust between companions that keep secrets from one another but nonetheless have absolute faith in one another. Their necks are bared freely to one another. They need not share their secrets to believe in one another."

She laughs faintly, looking to Yuna again, smile broad and wide. "They will even show trust to a monster like me. They offer the hammer and I see it in her eyes. She holds my story close to her heart. She does not sympathize, but she empathizes. The pain in our hearts subside, our darkest confessions to one another better than forgiven. Our darkest confessions appreciated. She understands me in a way perhaps few others can in this world and she gives me her trust freely even so."

"The broader plan is this, Kaguya. I am going to return the trust that Yuna has shown me. I am going to trust the people of Spira to decide their future. I will help. I may meddle a little. But I will not decide for them. I am going to return the trust that Yuna has shown me and when she says that she is going to defeat Sin...."

She throws herself through the toxic exhaust suddenly, taking a hefty breath in of painful gas that she endures painffully because sometimes style matters as much as substance.

"I believe her! Whether she follows in her father's footsteps or finds a permanent solution, I will trust in her to find that way and I will ensure she always has a path to walk upon... Because I love Yuna too!"

And with that she places her hands upon the golem.

Golems are not exactly people. But they definitely have spirits. They have their own soul. And Marivel...is tugging on it.

She is pulling it into herself, drawing both power and spirit into her body. And it does not abate. It pushes forward, as if empowered by the very golem that Kaguya is piloting.

That is because it is. And Marivel feels it. This Golem is WRONG. But it does not stop her.

Crimson Nobles devour all.

GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Devour Iniquity!
GS: Marivel Armitage takes 23 damage from Poison!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Amaterasu takes a solid hit from Lunata Croze's the Path to Yomotsu Hirasaka for 0 hit points!
GS:  Infect extends negative status by 1 round!
GS: Amaterasu has been weakened by Disease! Temporary hit points tick down 1 round!
GS: Amaterasu suffers an additional 23 from Poison's Combo effect!
GS: Disease and Poison! applied to Amaterasu!
GS: Amaterasu critically Guards a hit from Lunata Croze's Scatter...! Midare Setsugekka for 36 hit points!
GS: Amaterasu enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Auron has activated a Force Action!
GS: Auron guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Lion's Howl for 141 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Ashton Anchors guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Lion's Howl for 210 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Dash Caskett has posed.

"Yeah, perhaps!" Dash says, squinting in Ambrosius' direction. A few moments after firing those red buster shots, two panels on the Mega Buster, one on each side, open and emit a 'ksssss' sound to expel extra heat from the attack. They shut moments after. "But you aren't ordinary, just you leaving could save lives! You can't tell me you wanna hurt people, right?"

Were these guys actually villains out of a storybook? Or were they doing it out of some kind of necessity?

He keeps his eyes locked on his foe, regardless.

It was hard not to when they close distance and plant a powerful fist, center mass. Dash skids back a good twenty feet from the hit. Surprisingly, feeling the metal confirms it is definitely special. Whereas bullets seem to pierce and dent fine, a fist coses little damage. Of course Dash holds his chest as something inside was definitely affected from the strike, falling to a knee for a short time.

He locks eyes with him again. "Tell me," he says, standing up and taking a second to swap weapons out-- the large launcher is changed for... a tiny nub? Some sort of small shiny device. "Is violence really the answer to this series of events?"

"Just think about it for a second. Tell me what you think."

It takes about three seconds before a sudden rushing sound may tell Ambrosius something is up. And about one-and-a-half more to react to it.

From seaward, those missles come back and riddle the area with the payload. For such tiny things, they are quite effective. And in the smoke and flying debris, a magenta-tinted light flares as it shapes an edge attached to an arm. Dash waits for his opponent to move again.

GS: Dash Caskett has activated a Force Action!
GS: Dash Caskett has spent 2 Combo on Interrupt and Gatling, including 1 on Gatling!
GS: Dash Caskett has attacked Ambrosius with Cluster Missile!
GS: Dash Caskett has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Dash Caskett takes 22 damage from Poison!
GS: Dash Caskett has completed his action.
GS: Ambrosius guards a hit from Dash Caskett's Cluster Missile for 102 hit points!
GS: Ambrosius enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Ambrosius has lost 2 Combo from Interrupt!
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    As forces bear down upon Ethius from so close, a thought crosses him as he keeps a forearm curled inward to protect against the concussive blowback and hot wash of the aura building up in power. He can't stand there for long. Something is off - from what he can tell, this Golem was made with the intent to perform shock and awe against the people of Spira.
     He can't fill in that blank. An expectation... that's missing? As Kaguya bandies back, she can have a clear look at his face indeed. He is definitely in his thirties, going by the laughing lines - maybe mid-30s? Other than that there's nothing remarkable, other than the poker face he's holding.
     The nature of the weak to be used by the strong. Kaguya is strong - nobody would second-guess that. She was possessed of tremendous strength even on Filgaia, at her sickest. He stares blearily, and another tinge of something gets to him. If he wasn't a known quantity by now... something should have gone much differently?
     He has no time to consider the logistical issues of the present in his amnesia-riddled memory. He's firm on why he's here. He doesn't like having his face known, but it's less of a problem if he can--
     A tugging feeling. An energy-sucking, tugging feeling. He staggers some trying to back away, but his legs start growing numb as he falls to a crouch...
     He can see the beginnings of rockets firing again. He is aware of specific trajectories...

     SOME TIME AGO

     Ethius, unconscious from being piledriven into the ground, receives the telltale sound report of an explosive going off. The air is salty and humid, surrounded by ocean.
     The time Kaguya destroyed a Guardian Statue of Lucadia.

     SOME LESS TIME AGO

     Ethius takes a hit from a piece of rubble at Lastonbell to his head, as a flash of green light enters his vision. He didn't want to be involved, when he saw the troops of Hyland in blue fight the local Rolance soldiers in red. He just wanted to get distance. It wasn't fear... it wasn't pain... it was something else.
     Then he saw those in blue brandishing a new weapon. Long sticks that spat lightning and left smoke.

     NOT LONG AFTER THAT

     Ethius gives his all trying to fight Kaguya as she flippantly reveals her involvement in all of this, tossing down a similar explosive that promises to smother the land in that same burst of green.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    NOW

     'Do you do anything other than stand around, be super creepy, and break things, Ethius? I dunno what they see in you.' Those words trail him as he takes off just ahead of the rocket burst. Even with his unnatural calm, his heart is pumping fast. He trips over some rubble, forward-flips, and continues sprinting towards Ixion. The Aeon - a divinity - beyond mortal ken. One of Spira's greatest weapons against Sin... now facing a weapon it never had before.
     With one final roll forward before the great lightning horse, the mortal man thrusts his quarterstaff out in a lunging motion with the telltale cry of the technique...
     "Far Point!"
     In a split of a split second, the man has had to caculate - a) the shape of the greande, b) work out its volatility on impact, and c) angle a blow as such that he can deflect it...
     ...so d) it explodes at a distant angle, washing Ethius in the wake of flame and some shrapnel that buries into his forearm... but otherwise unharmed, standing with his back towards a great Aeon that has zero reason to ever need to be guarded by a mortal man.
     "Whatever their failings... their challenges..." Ethius starts, standing upright as he draws the quarterstaff back, holding his free hand out towards the Golem as sparks of lightning lick at his back. His Symbological shield attracts electrical impulses - theoretically this is extremely dangerous for him to stand here.
     "It is not the Veruni's say." His eyes narrow - a rarest show of raw emotion. His words are unshaken, but seem less practiced than his usual spiel.
     It is only his defiance that serves as his counterattack. "What they see in me... is of no consequence," says a man who willingly let himself get bullied and battered by locals as part of his unfortunate disguise choice.

GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
GS: Belize guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Lion's Howl for 262 hit points!
GS: Auron has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Pearl has posed.

    The staff comes down hard on Pearl's skull, a crack echoing and she rolls away from Seymour. The blow dazes her, even as she comes to her feet. She is bleeding heavily, her strength continually sapped by the electricity. But she stands, slowly and unsteady. The martial artist sets her gaze back at Seymour. This is not a fight she will be winning. Even she can see that. The question then becomes simple. Can her death ensure Seymour's?

    She sees the bead of darkness form in front of her, and starts moving. She launches herself airborne, hoping to provide distance between herself and the attack speeding towards her. Even as Seymour starts chanting, she tries to bring a cloak of shadow magic to protect her.

    It is not enough.

    As the Requiem is unleashed, Pearl is hit hard, blood spraying in the air from her mouth as the shockwave smashes into her. She flies, and smashes through a wall, her silvered fang flying free of her mouth and landing away from her. Rubble collapses on her, even as she continues to be sent back. Blood streaks across the ground, until, finally she stops moving. The rubble falls, covering her completely.

    Red blood pools from beneath it.

GS: Sneak! The true nature of Marivel Armitage's attack becomes clear!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar guards a hit from Marivel Armitage's WILD CARD for 120 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Auron has posed.

The problem with swinging an attack from a falling position is not only that you're in a horrible place for aiming it, but that you're in a horrible place for defending yourself from your enemies' retaliation. So as he falls...

...His motion is only arrested by the power from the robot's blade, and the subsequent boiling of water flung forth from it. Unfortunately there isn't a lot he can do about it except shift his sword to try to absorb the brunt of it. Except the boiling water also heats the blade hot enough to cause his skin to smoke where it touches the blade of the sword, and he clenches his teeth around a cry of pain.

Auron finds himself flung onto a thankfully non-exploded part of the sea wall. Well, not exploded YET... because Auron's going to bring the angry pilot's attention right back to that area. Though it might be missed in all the fighting... despite his injures, he isn't bleeding, doesn't appear to be bruised, and the recently-burned area isn't even red... That said he's also breathing heavily, clearly slouching, there is a clear grimace of pain on his face, and he's seeming to have trouble hefting his blade now. Whether he shows it or not, he's definitely hurting.

THAT said, he needs to make this count, since he's fast losing available footholds, and before too long he's going to be uselessly flailing at this thing while floating in the water. There are no words here -- he's as done talking as Leo is. He draws his sword back again, a red gleam sliding down it, and leaps the distance to Leo's robot. Detonations of qi are his signature, it seems, and this is no exception. This one tries to target the power that the machine can bring to bear against its attackers.

GS: Auron has attacked White Knight Leo with Power Break!
GS: Auron has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

Energy surges off of the blade of Hashmal. It smashes into the sea wall in much the same fashion as Leviathan's tidal wave just struck the Guard's fleet. For a moment, Ashton Anchors disappears inside that wave.

The after-image of the glowing energy and the steam from the boiling ocean fade, he's there still.

A good chunk of the sea wall is not - in fact, the part he had been standing on has been solidly cleaved.

Yet Ashton is unmoved. He stands in the air, exactly where he had been. On either side of him, a long dragon stretches out - Creepy on one side, Weepy on the other. Each of their jaws are clamped to a chunk of wall, acting akin to scaly grappling hooks. (Now he's just showing off. It would probably look cooler if he weren't bleeding in four places and his shirt wasn't smouldering.)

A glance towards Xantia. He didn't strike at her. Why? ...Perhaps it doesn't matter. It's an opportunity.

"Mystery Hero X!" The swordsman points towards the section of thigh than Auron's strike opened up. "A crippling blow is still a victory!"

The opening pointed out, Ashton does what he can to aid the hero: he provides covering fire.

With a grunt, he is snapped into the air. Lifting like an arrow. At the apex of his vertical trip, Ashton twists and spins around.

Coming out of the twist, his whole body clenches as he relinquishes control. On either side of his body, the dragons grow. Creepy and Weepy pull power and strength from their host, changing from the amusing sidekicks-slash-pets to what they once were: Dragons. Fraught with power, strong and fierce.

For a few moments, they are Gyoro and Ururun once more.

Ancient draconic eyes without pupils look directly at the servant of the Dragonmaster.

Then - they unleash a stream of fire and one of frost. A devastating mixture of mystical punishment to remind the servant of Althena that not all dragons are yet cowed.

GS: Ashton Anchors has attacked White Knight Leo with Dragon Breath!
GS: Ashton Anchors has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

"I do not particularly care for it, no." Ambrosius replies honestly. In the past he had been fairly ambivalent about it, but certain people he knew had gradually swayed him. Whereas before he could do it and not think much of it, now it left something of a bad taste in his mouth - not that he still wouldn't fight, if deemed necessary.

Baby steps.

Ambrosius pulls back when he meets solid steel, flexing his fingers experimentally. It seemed like, even with his sheer strength, that punch did not do as much as he anticipated - he might've gotten the worst end of it himself, in fact. Even so, the young man does not seem unaffected.

Dash asks if violence is really the answer, but before Ambrsoius can respond, he hears a rushing noise. He jumps back into a defensive stance as tiny missiles bombard the area. He can feel them pepper him on all sides, putting some strain on his armor as it tries to protect him from all of it at once.

"Perhaps. Perhaps not. But it is the quickest answer and time is, regrettably, of the essence. This is the choice my allies have made, and I intend to stand by them." Ambrosius replies. In the smoke, water begins to gather and converge around his right arm.

He takes note of the magenta light, but it does not deter him from attack. He raises his hand toward dash and the water he had gathered forms for a moment a single sphere of water before rushing outward in a single, compressed beam able to cut through through steel through sheer water pressure.

GS: Ambrosius has attacked Dash Caskett with Pressure Beam!
GS: Ambrosius has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

We family!

Yuna beams as her Guardian, her friend -- her family -- returns the sentiment. Well; she beams for Yuna, a Yuna in public, a Yuna who is still at least somewhat self-possessed. So her smile flickers three shades brighter, we'll say, and she presses her hands to her heart more firmly. A small gesture, smaller than this battle's scope, but she does it until Rikku is lost from sight, bravely clambering inside the machina.

That smile fades to confusion -- then defiance -- when Kaguya addresses her again.

"To speak so lightly of such destruction... we rebuild endlessly, but it is painful every time. Agonizing. All you're showing me is that, if you'd wipe out a city of innocent people without a second thought, like it's nothing... like their lives are nothing -- then you're willing to become Sin in order to defeat it. And that -- that isn't good enough!"

(Maybe they'll laugh about it later. Much later. Much, much later.)

(Maybe it isn't funny. Maybe it's a harbinger of what's to come.)

Ixion has cantered back down towards the docks, towards the breaking wall, to let Yuna off. She gets the picture; having to think about her safety is limiting his options. Drastically so, even. She can see it in how his sides relax, the musculature of his withers rippling, as soon as she's safely on the ground.

With a bomb in between her feet, and Ixion's.

"Oh--"

Many things could have happened then, but the one that does is that Ethius sweeps the bomb away. Afterwards, she lays a gentle hand on his shoulder and squeezes her gratitude.

Summoners are used to being saved, but they never take it for granted. And Ixion may have survived -- but he cannot survive, if she does not, for in the end their selves, their souls, are one.

"Thank you," she says simply, admiration for the man's bravery -- and more than that, his words, his belief in their right to self-determination -- shining from her.

And then he launches his next attack, and Ixion gallops off towards the golem, and Yuna... Yuna is left to close the distance to Marivel. Not that there's much left, after words like that. Physical distance means nothing to such things.

She may have known how to respond to Ethius' kindness, but this is on another level. She looks shaken, both awed and struck momentarily dumb.

While she's finding her words, Marivel has already reached out to perform an attack on a level that Yuna both can and cannot understand. As ever, she is drawn to the links between them that provide similarity, rather than the mysteries, the differences. Not that there are many of them left, now.

"I swear on the fayth," she knows no higher vow, "That I will do all I can to repay your faith in me. And,"

Her smile goes supernova.

"I believe in you too, Marivel. I know you'll find the future you seek. Not just through us -- but through living your own life. You are worthy of trust. You are worthy of love. And I'm glad I can be a small part of your future... a future that is... now."

Ixion, meanwhile, is not undirected by Yuna's heart; it soars, and so he does too. Urgently he circles the golem, looking for Rikku and waiting to catch her if she's driven out by that dreadful steam. But that isn't all he does -- in his wake are flashing aquamarine runes that tighten, crackling, becoming an circle of powerful magnetic force.

All poles point towards the center. Towards the machina.

GS: Yuna has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Magnetron Pulse!
GS: Yuna has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya Alathfar completely evades a hit from Yuna's Magnetron Pulse!
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan watches in silent shock as Pearl is bloodied by the Requiem, and then thrown into a wall that collapses into a crushing pile of rubble. Is there any chance she could have survived such a thing? Is it his fault for being a burden on her, for needing protecting? She wasn't supposed to die here, her whole life was leading up to a different fight...!!

There's no time to dwell on the injustice of it. Seymour is screaming with anger and preparing another attack.

Ivan takes a slow breath in preparation, shifting his weight to test and prepare for the pain that will come with movement. Whatever Seymour throws at him, he can't afford to hesitate or flinch.

The fire comes first, announcing itself with a burst of heat behind him. Ivan dives into a roll that just barely outpaces the concussive burst that follows. He feels a telltale rumble beneath his hands and feet on the ground, and realizes that somehow, the spell is not finished. He pivots into a handstand, as the blade of ice pushes up inches from his torso.

He's seeing stars by now, as each movement sends a shock through him. Surely it's over now, though...?

In the second he takes to indulge the thought, he spies the lightning sparking from above, and pushes back off the ground to land on his feet a short distance away, getting another jolt. He's reeling, now, but there's a soft sound... ... deep beneath... oh no. He throws himself into another handspring, not even nailing the landing, but kind of collapsing down next to the geyser and glaring at it balefully as he catches his breath.

"Sorry, were you trying to hit me with that or something?" he attempts to taunt, though his voice kind of creaks hoarsely midway through as he says it. ... part of the reason for that is that he's gotten the shit knocked out of him. The other part is that he realizes he's alone, and outnumbered.

He thinks about Talia asking him to be careful, and Lydia asking him, quite explicitly, not to die. But what does that look like? Running? That's not a thing he does...that's not something he can do. It's against the damned rules. The other option is just to win. He can win somehow, right? Right.

He calls the crackling stars to life again--the fire doesn't care if he's tired and uncertain, fire is reliable like that. It just feeds and grows. The unstable pinpoints of light ride toward Seymour and his allies on the wind, arriving in another explosive burst.

GS: Ivan has spent 1 Combo on Gatling, including 1 on Gatling!
GS: Ivan has attacked Seymour Guado with Stars of Fury!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Rikku has posed.


Let's be honest. Rikku barely knows what she's looking at in here beyond that it's at least advanced as what they found on her last salvage run. It's not that she doesn't know Machina. It's just that it's more advanced than anything she's seen in a long time. However - there are at least some common similarities between how the Golem is put together, a common thread which allows her to start shredding wires with her claw.

Unfortunately the Golem has countermeasures for that. As vents open, Rikku suddenly gets a face full of poison. Feeling herself becoming infected by breathing in the terrible smoke, she sticks her rebreather into her mouth as she dangles from the thing. Trying to outlast the exhaust as she waves an arm. It's only when it's clear enough that her eyes stop watering that she takes it out of her mouth and shouts, "UGH! WHAT IS THIS THING EVEN RUNNING ON TO HAVE EXHAUST LIKE THAT? IT CAN'T BE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH KAGUYA!"

Rikku takes a few longer breaths, trying to steel herself, before swinging herself back up to the panel she's opened up. "I don't think of Yevon as my enemy Kaguya! They're people too - they're Spirans too. And people get scared. Scared of things they don't understand. And bloodshed using things they're scared of just makes them more scared! I don't want change that comes with people's blood! I don't want change built on more fear-! I don't want it! Who wants to live in a world like that!?"

Marivel speaks of trust in Yuna, of the people of Spira deciding their own future. And perhaps Rikku is paler still when Marivel mentions the possibility of Yuna following her father's footsteps. Her lip trembling. And yet. She musters her resolve to agree at least with that much, "I believe in Yunie too. I want to make a Spira she'd want to live in. Not just a Spira that's fair to the Al Bhed. One that's good to everyone."

As Yuna flies on by, she gets a flash of inspiration, and the girl suddenly pales, in part due to the toxins and in part due to the fear. "Oh gosh. Oh no. Ohhhh no... Nope. Nope it's a bad idea."

The girl makes this little squeak and closes her eyes, "Which is why I'm gonna do it." Reaching down, she picks up what looks like a whole child's bag of marbles. And places it down just inside of that hatch, wedging it between some of the still intact wires and the back of the panel

Rikku sticks in her claw to shred off some insulation close to the bag, down to the wiring inside. And then having sawed it down...

And once she sees Yuna and Ixion swing around - she finishes severing it- letting go at the same time.

Every single lightning marble within is struck by the spark and detonates in a chain reaction that tries to give a good shock to Cuchullain's system.

Sure it's nothing compared to Ixion's, but from within - perhaps it might do some good.

Good enough to be worth the fact that Rikku is screaming her head off during the explosion while in freefall towards Ixion's back.

She lands haphazardly, her feet touching down, before sliding out from beneath her and grasping ahold of Yuna with a death grip. "Hey I'm back." She says with a dazed sort of expression. This little giggle as she lets go of Yuna's side to pat Ixion's flank nervously, "Thanks for catching me. It was super-duper nice of you."

GS: Rikku has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Use: PeRiOdIc Table of Spiran Fiends!
GS: Rikku takes 24 damage from Poison!
GS: Rikku has completed her action.
GS: Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from Ivan's Stars of Fury for 273 hit points!
GS: Dash Caskett takes a glancing hit from Ambrosius's Pressure Beam for 93 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Amaterasu has posed.

    Beneath the two of them, the ship shudders, as if it were trying and failing to keep upright. Yet, for now, their battleground still remains.

    "As long as you stand between me and my goals," Amaterasu says. "As long as I receive my orders. Then, yes, I will keep trying to kill you."

    It's as much of a promise as can be hoped for, under the circumstances.

    Valkyrja dances in a tumult of thrusts, the blade of the spear again and again seeking flesh and blood. It bears Lunata down in the end -- it only pins her to the broken deck but fleetingly before Amaterasu slides the spear from her like a pin from a butterfly specimen.

    "And still you fight on. Were we not enemies, I would gladly tutor someone with a spirit like yours," the Veruni warrior states, only to shake her head, her blond hair dancing in the breeze. "But it is for the same reason that I will now tear you apart, child. I cannot permit your obstacle to fall into our path."

    It really is... improper what she must do.
    But her armor is damaged. Her strength is flagging.
    And before long, her undying enemy will outlast even her. So she must do something highly improper.

    She lifts Valkyrja.

    "Why are you laughing?" she asks.

    Before the world

    dis
      t
      o
      r
      t
      s

    

    "Another illusion?"

    All about her -- everywhere -- is taken up by a parade too fantastical to be real.

    "Where are you hiding? Show yourself, and fight me properly--"

    She holds her stance amidst the panic and frenzied wildness. She holds it even as a headache pounds between her ears, blooming from the riot of color and sound.

    The parade parts, impossibly. There--

    Flowers fall in a rain, concealing within a blade.

    Valkyrja rises to meet it.

    There is a terrible crash. The two women land atop the deck heavily, Amaterasu again down on one knee, her breathing labored.

    The deck picks this moment to outright tilt at a good nearly 45-degree angle.

    Amaterasu, her face still covered by the metal mask, looks over at Lunata just once.

    Before she takes to the railing of the now outright-sinking ship and, availing herself of the damaged sail, conducts an impossible climb to the tilting mast, in a race for its tip.

    And after that, a highly improbable (success-wise, that is) leap for land.

    The ship's lost. Time to abandon it.
    And as a consequence, their fight as well.

GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a solid hit from Rikku's Use: PeRiOdIc Table of Spiran Fiends for 207 hit points!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> Belize has posed.

    IT's a good thing that Belize is too far away from Seymour to hear what he actually *says*, or else her image of him as a kind, calm man might be shattered. However, she can at least see that he's in pain after taking on too many attacks from his assailants, including one who bit him on the neck. Her concern earlier shoots into fear for his well-being. Even if they defend the city, it will all be for naught if a Maester--if *Seymour* falls. That will demoralize the people of Spira just as much, if not more, than the loss of Luca to the Guardsmen.
    
    "Lord Seymour!!" they call, though they know not if their voice will carry to him from here. "Ugh, what should I...?!" Leviathan's Tsunami at least did what it was meant to--should they take this opportunity to give him support? It seems he managed to defeat one of his assailants, but...
    
    Unfortunately, Leo makes the decision for Belize: crystal grows off his blade, chi boils off crystal, and energy erupts off it to *slam* into Leviathan. It coils in an attempted defense against the massive attack, but it shoves it back against the breakwall in the process, throwing Belize off in the process. There is a deeply unfortunate CRACK as they land and roll several feet, then still. Leviathan cries out, a harrowing and mournful call that it doesn't share at all for those Guardsman who drowned in the wake of his tidal assault. But...
    
    "Nngh... ugh..." Belize struggles up to their hands, then to their knees, wobblingly dangerously, but still alive... somehow. One would think that absolutely would have killed the Summoner, but there they are, so they must have gotten lucky--or something.
    
    Panting, they glare up at the Hashmal. Leviathan swoops and curls before them, snarling at the Golem in threat even as he defends his Summoner. That attack absolutely did the breakwall no favors, but it's hanging on for the time being. One or two more hits like that, though, and it may well crumble apart... Even for the master of Leviathan, it might well have been reckless to take on an entire navy.
    
    But still, Belize cannot back down. They *will not*.
    
    Their soul resonates with Leviathan's. The great Aeon's eyes flash, understanding instinctively what they desire. Like before with the beam, they open their maw wide, but instead of magical force, a strange foam bubbles rapidly from its throat, then forms huge bubbles that he ejects towards the Hashmal. They float prettily for a moment.
    
    Then, if they get the chance to impact the Golem, they will snap powerfully against it, each pop like an explosion, burning and scarring any of the machina they can hit.

GS: Belize has attacked White Knight Leo with Cavitastrophe!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize has completed their action.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    For perhaps the first time since this duel started, Lunata gets a really good look at Amaterasu. Even underneath her mask, that three-eyed mask, as she once more feels, in the cascade of falling sakura petals amidst the disappearing night parade of a hundred demons--

    Their blades clashing.

    "Looks like I wasn't enough of a trickster..." Lunata heaves her breath out. She's also down on one knee, like her opponent.

    Amaterasu can see the very limits of which holds her together -- that same necromantic smoke rising out of what would be the joints of a human body oozing out, as she clutches the bleeding wound that Valkyrja made at the start of this duel.

    Then the ship starts to tip.

    "At least... tell me your name, miss warrior. I'm..."

    A pause. Lunata Croze of the Carakin? But she ran away from them.
    Lunata Croze of Yevon? She's not quite certain if the path is all she is..
    Lunata Croze of the Yggdrasil? It was tempting... she did consider them family...

    But in the end... maybe Shalune was absolutely right.

    "Lunata Croze, waitress from the Starfall Saloon." She cracks that still-defiant grin. "The smile's free with the service."

    And with that, she starts tumbling back and splashes onto the water, ruining what (in Lunata's mind) she thinks was a cool last one-liner.

    She's very glad she sinks because she doesn't want to let her opponent see her going 'ABABABA' as she flails and tries to make her way back on land.

<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Xantia can draw one conclusion very quickly, in so much as 'very quickly' is 'after stabbing a thing about a dozen times'. This isn't working well enough. Whatever those crystal things are, they aren't breaking so easily. That's not good, that was her best idea!

Regardless, she's soon forced to give up on that idea. A tidal wave is incoming, and she has to switch back to holding on for dear life. Thankfully she's on the machine's back when it faces the wave, so riding out the impact is most of what she has to worry about.

In the wake of Leviathan's fury, she can't help but notice... Leo took steps to save the ship that got caught in it, before worrying about himself. That's more like what a hero would do. Perhaps there's some truth to that after all, if only in him being a hero to his own people.

She also can't help but notice that Leo is royally pissed off, and that there probably isn't any point in trying to reason with him now. Also a familiar situation. When that moment arrives, there's nothing for it but use whatever you've got to beat some sense into somebody.

She hears someone call out her name - her alias actually, which draws her immediate attention. A crippling blow is still a victory. Too right. She hadn't noticed that a weak spot was created, but now that it's pointed out to her... "I've got it, Ashton!"

Having escaped Leo's notice for the moment, and with Ashton, Auron and Belize keeping him occupied further with their respective attacks, Xantia has every opportunity she needs to make her way around to where she needs to be. Electricity is still passively radiating from her body, but once she gets closer, it intensifies. A powerful current is directed to her right hand, shaped into what she considers the right tool for the job: an enormous hammer made out of pure lightning. Though she wasn't going to mince words at this point, she finds herself speaking regardless.

"The thing about true heroes, though... they don't get to be selective. You should always do the right thing. And this is NOT right!"

With that, she brings down the hammer, quite literally. It's a bit of an awkward swing from her position hanging off Hashmal's side, and having only one hand to direct a weapon as large as it is. At least a lightning construct weighs basically nothing. Yet the power unleased when that electric hammer explodes upon impact is no joke. Now if she can only manage to hit that already weakened thigh area...

...As well as hold her balance after all that, somehow. That might prove a bit of a problem.

GS: Xantia has spent 4 Combo on Headshot and Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Xantia has attacked White Knight Leo with Megavolt Hammer!
GS: Xantia has completed her action.
GS: White Knight Leo takes a solid hit from Auron's Power Break for 93 hit points!
GS: Weaken! applied to White Knight Leo!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Ashton Anchors's Dragon Breath for 181 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

Seymour watches, impassively, as Pearl is hurled back... and a building crushes her. When the blood pools out, from underneath the rubble, he finds himself smiling slowly. "Good," he says softly to himself. Then, he turns, and stares at Ivan. He had thought Ivan dead, after all those strikes.

He comes to see, as he throws a handspring, and ducks away from the last strike of the watery geyser. "I see they train you well, across the sea," he says. "A pity. You waste it, fighting against your betters."

He holds a hand out, as he sees Wedge force himself up -- and hears Biggs, too, pushing himself to his feet behind him. Flame crackles off Seymour's robes, where the fiery hornets struck; embers and ash falling away. He is streaked with blood, his bare chest blackened here and there. He walks forward, as the shifting pinpoints of light crash down.

One slams into Biggs's shield. It pushes him back -- and then the second shoots through Biggs's shield, a hole cut through it, and then through Biggs. "Urk--" And the big, armored Guado topples over face first.

Seymour bats aside one with his magus staff -- and then tries to bat aside a second, but the head of the staff explodes into embers and shards of wood. "Damn--" And then one catches him in the stomach, and throws him to the ground with a fiery blast. He hits in a heap, rolling.

"Th-this is... gh..."

The Maester crumples. Wedge stares, before he looks ahead; he leaps over one blast of fire, and then takes one of the pinpricks on the shoulder. It explodes, charring his arm, before he lands. Flame is dancing, burning at his clothing and skin; he ignores it, as rushes at Ivan. He launches one hand for his solar plexus, an open palmed strike. Then, he does a spinning roundhouse kick, trying to snap his foot into his left cheek.

Then, his clawed hand reaches out for his throat. Wedge leans in, blood on his lips and teeth. "All you are, boy," he spits, "is what every human is. A mistake. Now, go on--"

And then he pushes out, and tries to throw Ivan off the seawall, and towards the water below. "FLY!"

GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Ivan with Guado Guardian Triple Raid!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Belize's Cavitastrophe for 183 hit points!
GS: Seymour Guado takes 27 damage from Poison!
GS: Seymour Guado has completed his action.
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Xantia's Megavolt Hammer for 144 hit points!
GS: Seymour Guado takes 22 damage from Poison!
GS: Cover and Poison expired!
GS: Seymour Guado has completed his action.
GS: Seymour Guado is unable to fight! for real!
GS: Ivan guards a hit from Seymour Guado's Guado Guardian Triple Raid for 102 hit points!
GS: Cover and Mighty! applied to Seymour Guado!
<Pose Tracker> Amaterasu has posed.

    'At least... tell me your name, miss warrior. I'm...'

    Amaterasu pauses a moment atop the railing, the ship listing precariously. Seconds tell the difference between an escape and an embarrassing dunking into the harbor.

    The Veruni warrior gazes at Lunata in silence for a moment.

    "Amaterasu."

    Silence weighs heavy afterwards.

    "...Lunata Croze. Hmm, hmm... are all human waitresses as fierce as you?" she wonders aloud, before leaping for the faltering sails and racing for her own escape.

    Human culture truly is startling, sometimes.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    "frrrblffrf flrff rflrff," Lunata Croze responds underwater. (tn. note: I'm the strongest waitress in the world.)

    A Sahagin stares at her like she's a dummy.

<Pose Tracker> Dash Caskett has posed.

The missiles dont work as well as hoped, though at least do stagger the enemy! The missiles use a homing system based on Dash's sight. Through the debris and smoke from impacts, a figure still stands of course. Something special, this foe was.

"Then why continue it? I am sure if you all sat down with their leaders you could come to some kind of conclusion! You can't tell me you mean to cut down every citizen that stands here in the way, do you?" He refuses to believe that.

"Time, huh..." the young man muses. His brow furrows.

The smoke parts as a thin shot of water fires out like a laser beam, cutting everything it touches finely. Dash dodges right, but it cuts up his side. Not a full cut-through the body, but it definitely penetrated the armor.

Finally, something leaks through, perhaps not satisfying to his enemy. Its... not blood? Something clear-ish. Vaguely ochre colored? It originates from somewhere under the armpit. It seems to stopper itself quickly, whatever it is.

"Still can't let you, unfortunately!" Dash shouts, sounding pained. As much as he doesn't want to fight this guy with his weapons, he is at an impass here. A mighty jump into the air has Dash brandishing that bright light. It is some kind of laser blade, tinted that pinkish-magenta. He comes down, swinging the blade...!

GS: Dash Caskett has attacked Ambrosius with Refractive Edge!
GS: Dash Caskett takes 24 damage from Poison!
GS: Disease and Poison expired!
GS: Dash Caskett has completed his action.
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Dash Caskett's attack becomes clear!
GS: Ambrosius takes a solid hit from Dash Caskett's Mega Kick! for 65 hit points!
GS:  Dispel reduces positive status durations by 3 rounds each!
GS: Ambrosius enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> Dash Caskett has posed.

...But instead a wicked flying roundhouse is thrown instead! The metal leg whips around to deliver a vicious kick!

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan doesn't have any acrobatics left in him. He raises up his arms, trying to absorb strike from Wedge with his bracers. The force of it still pushes him back.

Over his shoulder, he sees Seymour collapse. Could it be...? Did he really...? If he can just finish these other guys off...

Fire begins to crackle around his body, ready to burn them all... but another blow connects--a kick to the side of his head, shattering his concentration, and letting the flames die.

And then a hand grasps his throat, lifting him off his feet, and Wedge hurls him over the edge, toward the sea, along with a disgusted comment about humans that Ivan lacks the cultural context even to take personally.

Is... is this how he dies? Ivan is... disappointed.

<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

Wedge watches Ivan fall...

...but not for long. The Guado Guardian turns, wiping at his bloodied face. He stumbles, his leg trembling. Fire leaps and dances up his clothing. He stumbles forward, and then comes next to Maester Seymour. "Damned Otherworlders," he spits. He falls down -- crumpling next to Seymour.

Then, he looks out, at the ocean. "...gotta get out of here." He says it, but finds his strength to stand lacking.

<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    The serpent and its heathen master are driven back. Leo allows himself a moment to focus in on his other foes--Ashton, who is dangling between two sides of a gap in the breakwall, and Auron, who is perplexingly intact despite everything Leo's thrown into him. He's not even bleeding. Leo doesn't have time to worry about that, because Xantia makes her move. Leo's never fought a Gear battle prior to this, much less a Gear battle against someone as strong as Xantia. He sees lightning flicker out of the corner of his eye, and feels static a moment before the hammer comes down. Lightning surges into Hashmal's systems, arcing across its body. In the cockpit, Leo bites his lip--it's all he can do to deny the others, especially Belize, a scream of pain.

    Ashton and Auron move in while the Gear's pilot is distracted. Auron's blade slams home, once again discharging a blast of chi into the machine--and this time, Leo manages to connect the sudden weakness with the strike. He glances at the red-garbed man on his panoramic display, a brief spark of admiration drowned beneath the tide of anger. Flame and frost pour over the Gear's body, blackening and twisting bits of its armor. The cavitation bubbles add further stress to the already-tortured metal. Bits of Hashmal's chest and thigh armor tear apart, exposing the superstructure beneath.

    Leo clenches both fists. He breathes. Thoughts flash through his mind: Althena smiling at him, Mauri lying on her sickbed, Ronfar lying in a gutter. Cyre telling him that he could explain. Ruby pointing out all the people here who looked so much like him, and--

    Everything snaps into focus.

    Hashmal sinks beneath the waves, the earth parting to grant it entrance. In a rush of water, all that's left is the open sea.

DG: The party led by Loren Voss has successfully explored Sunken Monastery of Gusong!
========================<* Sunken Monastery of Gusong *>========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Manual - Aura Bolt *>======================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 A number of valuale texts are hidden in the chamber at the end of your
 journey. One of the most significant that you find is a rolled scroll. When
 you examine it, you discover that it was a manual on how to manipulate your
 chi and perform one of the techniques of Gusong -- and you realize this
 manual must have been crafted by Gusong himself.

 You have unlocked the following ability: Aura Bolt. This allows the user to
 shoot a beam of white light from their hand or hands, by channeling their
 chi. Aura Bolt is a Deathblow, with enough variations to be customizable to
 the character in question, but it must be a Technique.
=Dungeon Conditions: Secret===================================================
GS: Break expired!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: White Knight Leo has activated a Boss Action!
GS: White Knight Leo has spent 1 Combo on Link, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Auron with Earthshaker!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Ashton Anchors with Earthshaker!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Belize with Earthshaker!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Xantia with Earthshaker!
GS: White Knight Leo has launched an attack Link!
GS: CRITICAL! Belize completely evades a hit from White Knight Leo's Earthshaker!
GS: Auron guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Earthshaker for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Shieldbreak! applied to Auron!
GS: Ashton Anchors guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Earthshaker for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Shieldbreak! applied to Ashton Anchors!
GS: Xantia completely evades a hit from White Knight Leo's Earthshaker!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    The earth trembles.

    The tremor starts off subtle, barely-noticeable over the chaos of the battlefield. Then it's severe enough to rattle small objects--within the space of a few heartbeats, it's dislodging chunks of masonry from the breakwall, and knocking out windows in buildings close to the docks. Piles of barrels tumble onto the pier, breaking open. For those on the battlefield, keeping solid footing is very difficult.

    And then the earth e r u p t s.

    Water flash-boils as magma surges up from the depths. Chunks of stone fly as if shot from cannons, breaking the water's surface and raining down on the Yevonite defenders and their allies. The water does little to muffle the horrible cracking noise emanating from beneath the waves. The breakwall shudders. Boulder-sized chunks of masonry fall into the waves.

    Then, the earth rebels. The ground splits, shatters, flies upwards in shards. In the very center of this is Hashmal, risen from the depths, the force of its reemergence having ripped the land asunder.

    And then things break. The very earth the breakwater rests on moves as if pulled apart by giant, invisible hands, leaving a gap large enough for a ship to sail through.

    "Destiny," Leo says, "you have your entrance." His voice is tight, keenly focused, despite the cacophony. Everything he has was focused on that one obstacle, and he just tore it open.

GS: White Knight Leo has spent 3 Combo on Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Belize with Eruption!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Auron with Eruption!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Ashton Anchors with Eruption!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Xantia with Eruption!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ashton Anchors guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Eruption for 137 hit points!
GS: Ashton Anchors enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: White Knight Leo assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: Mute expired!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: Xantia critically Guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Eruption for 47 hit points!
GS: Auron has activated a Force Action!
GS: Auron guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Eruption for 141 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

The Golem's spirit, such as it is, is so, so terribly young--but touched by something more ancient. Marivel can feel it, for a few moments, the time that went into its crafting, the effort--the spectre of countless hours under a young woman's hands above all. But... not only the joy of creation. Not only the residue of a mind set to meet the challenge of a thing new, a melding of ideas and creations so disparate as to be separated by millennia and stars both.

Kaguya frowns as she sees the power drain materialized on her screen, but the bond of creator to creation is not one that gives her perfect awareness of her work. She must listen in the language she taught it to speak... and in that language, it tells her--

"Gonna shut that right down," she says, and it's quiet over the radio even if her scowl is practically audible anyway. As Yuna reaches Marivel, Kaguya breaks a pane of glass and hits a big red button, the shards cutting her hand, and shuts off the input valves that allow this magic to happen.

The glimmers of emotion that Kaguya put into this Golem can be felt, though, for the instants before that happens. Not just wonder, and joy...

But fury, and more beyond, an untapped rage that even now simmers within. Something is wrong, and it goes to the heart of this terrible machine.

But then, there's one who may have seen it--but may not have. Does the nature of the machine matter to Ethius, is it important to what he feels he must do? Few can predict him. But the small Veruni can see him on her display, see him as she watches the payload of another device clatter towards Ixion. ...Until Ethius rolls in front of it. "What--" Kaguya frowns sharply as he deflects the bomb, blows it up just like he would've the one she used on the Statue if she'd given him the chance, and its green flame claims no lives this time.

"You ass I wanted to see what it would do!" Her science denied--something more serious goes there, too. Ethius's eyes narrow... unpracticed comparitively. She considers it--his defiance. His word of what they see...

"We'll see," she tells him. "I take only one thing back--...I can see something in you, too. So, good luck." She begins charging something--the mouth of the Golem begins to draw in air almost incidentally as mirrors open, not to magic.. but to something else.

Kaguya looks to Marivel and Yuna both, then, splitting her attention just long enough to ensure they're there as she begins another targetting routine. "Trust, is it? Between you two." Kaguya looks between them, before she begins to focus on Ixion probing her Golem's defenses again. Indeed--the bulk of her attention has remained on the Aeon, what she deems to be the greatest threat in her proximity. She shifts, letting the Golem move to react, waiting.

But she speaks, and the Golem's eyes seem to be on those she addresses. "Trust... isn't something I'm so willing to give. I trusted, once. And that led me where I am now. The more you put on someone, the more you're sure you can believe..."

"...The more you'll be disappointed, when they fail you. That's just how it is."

"And I know you'll remember that, given time." There's a hisss as the power the Golem is gathering begins to become visible, floating around it now in a lazy aura like a gas.

it doesn't have the full power of the Golem behind it, not with the drain Marivel began... but within, Kaguya breathes, and begins to channel more of her own.

It is that which draws in Ixion's terrible lightning--his great power suddenly hits... something, mid-air, instead of the Golem, and is caught by this unseen force. The explosion is terrible, leaving blackened scorchmarks all over the Golem's surface--but it disappears more quickly than it should.

...But the magnetic runes don't fade, and Rikku will need them soon, for all that much of Kaguya's focus goes to working against power of Yuna's Aeon.

...And as if to ruin dramatics of a moment, Kaguya answers Rikku. "What, now I'm supposed to be health-conscious!?" she calls back. "Anyway we call the main gas in that mixture chlorine!"

But Rikku is working, and Kaguya is suddenly tapping in commands on another console to her side. The power the Golem is channeling intensifies, as if a fell wind. ...But first...

Clunk clunk. Clatter. "That's the only world there is!" Kaguya calls back at Rikku. "You want to think otherwise--That's great! I thought that way too! A hundred years ago, I thought that way, and THIS is what I got for it! THIS world! So just learn to DEAL WITH IT!"

The Golem's primary cannon finally fires, the power of far distant conquerers that destroyed defenders before belched forth in a horrific column for Ethius Hesiod.

But just then--the marbles move in--and indeed. There's a sudden chain reaction within, lightning cascading through the terrible Golem's systems. Explosions start--panels and exhaust ports in places burst, turning from lightning to fire, energy crackling all down its back. Only its potent, advanced insulation makes this a great damaging power instead of an utter ruin--and even then--

Two consoles explode beside Kaguya, shrapnel from one gashing across her brow, burns coating her left arm. "Tch--"

"Whatever!" Kaguya calls from within. "Your stupid optimism isn't going to get you anywhere anyway!"

The fell wind suddenly stops--and falls, as if the air is too heavy to stay afloat somehow. Poisonous air melts through--but it is not exhaust, it is not simple toxin, but a taste of the bitterness the Veruni holds, a magic that transfers a touch of the vitriol of the dying towards them, shatters magical defenses, settles like a death curse...

As the Golem lowers its arms, and stands in place. What it's doing now is anyone's guess, but the ships behind are closing fast as the wall crumbles ahead.

GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Wrath of the Ancients!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Yuna with Heart's Poison!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Rikku with Heart's Poison!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Marivel Armitage with Heart's Poison!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Disrupt and Jam expired!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

It is when a gaping hole is torn through the seawall that Wedge, finally, stirs. He turns his head to see -- about twenty yards to his left -- where the Hashmal's work has left an ugly hole. He hears the rush of water, as it spills out through the gap. Wedge feels his breath catch. In centuries, the seawall of Luca has never been breached.

A part of him wants to run.

However, a Guado would never run from a human. He forces himself to his feet -- then drags Seymour up, the unconscious Maester's arm slung over his shoulders. "Biggs!"

"Sod off," Biggs says, face still against the ground. "I'm too busy dying over here."

"Do it later," Wedge says. "We have to get the Maester out of here." He looks up, then he bellows. "ALL OF YOU BLOKES! FALL BACK! THE MAESTER HAS FALLEN! PULL BACK INTO THE CITY! WE CAN'T HOLD!"

Then he begins limping for the nearest stairs -- and hears, as he knew he would, Biggs pushing himself to his feet. "Can't," the bigger Guardian says, "a man get any rest...?"

GS: Belize takes a glancing hit from White Knight Leo's Eruption for 209 hit points!
GS: Marivel Armitage takes a glancing hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Heart's Poison for 0 hit points!
GS:  Dispel reduces positive status durations by 3 rounds each!
GS: Marivel Armitage enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Break expired!
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Ambrosius laughs, wryly and mirthlessly.

"This is the conclusion they came to. To these people, the other is an affront to their deity. This end was inevitable, perhaps." He replies. "As for myself, however, I tend to do my part with as little loss of life as possible."

Ambrosius takes note as his beam cuts through Dash's armor. Something leaks through, but he can't determine what before it disappears.

Still, Dash says that he can't let him and rushes forward. Ambrosius's eyes track toward that bright light as Dash brandishes a pinkish-magenta laser blade and moves to guard against it...

...but he feints at the last second, going into a roundhouse kick. Ambrosius has to adjust, but the kick comes quicker than he anticipated - forcing out a grunt as it strikes him solidly, pushing him back a good foot or so.

He hadn't anticipated such force from an attack without his weapon - he will have to reassess this young man's capabilities.

"...Very well. If you do not desist, then I will-" Ambrosius pauses as a figure falls from the sky. The new arrival, by appearances a woman clothed in blue with silver armor and a helmet concealing her eyes, lands between the two of them.

"Ambrosius. You are three-point-five minutes behind schedule. A strategic retreat is advised to avoid further delay." She states. She speaks in an emotionless monotone - and to Dash's eyes, though she appears human(well, Veruni, actually, though he may not yet know the difference), she is, in reality, a mechanical soldier.

Her gaze is upon him, though whether or not she sees anything about him, she does not voice it.

"...I see. Then we shall continue this another time, young man." Ambrosius states, straightening up and backing away. The armored woman raises a hand and a transparent wall of ice begins to rise, blocking Dash from falling.

Ambrosius turns, folding his arms behind him.

"...However, young man. I will consider what you have said. You have my word that I will do what I can to limit civilian casualties." He states, and begins to walk away.

The mechanical soldier's eyes linger on Dash for a moment before she turns to follow Ambrosius away - timed perfectly with the shaking of the ground as Hashmal causes the world to shake, and breaks through the wall beyond.

GS: Yuna takes a glancing hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Heart's Poison for 0 hit points!
GS:  Dispel reduces positive status durations by 3 rounds each!
GS: Yuna enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Jam expired!
GS: Ethius Hesiod critically Guards a hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Wrath of the Ancients for 43 hit points!
GS: Rikku takes a glancing hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Heart's Poison for 0 hit points!
GS:  Dispel reduces positive status durations by 3 rounds each!
<Pose Tracker> Auron has posed.

The earth rebels, crumbles underneath the sea wall, breaking it apart. And also throwing Auron into the air. He goes one way, his sword goes another. Auron's battered by the rock and earth that comes up from the bottom as Leo's robot destroys the last thing protecting Luca. And now it is open to Althena's Guard, and nothing can stop them.

Of course, that's none of Auron's concerns right now. The rebelling earth throws him bodily through the air far out to sea, and he crashes into the water with a thunderous splash, sinking deeply under the waves.
His sword, by contrast, sails back towards the shore in an arc, and at the end of its journey, imbeds itself in the first bit of land it can find.

<Pose Tracker> Belize has posed.

    Truly, the power of machina is frightful. It's no wonder Sin was sent to destroy the ancient world for its flagrant misuse of them; when Belize beholds how much damage the Hashmal can take, how much damage it puts out in return--how it literally tears apart the breakwall to open up a path for the ship Destiny--they can understand why humanity deserved to be punished by Sin.
    
    And for that, Belize hates Leo more than ever.
    
    Yet once again, their decision is made for them. Leviathan swoops round to scoop them up as the breakwall crumbles and swims inwards, even as the follow-up shakes aggravate his wounds severely. Belize could have him turn back around, to face the Destiny and attack, but--
    
    'ALL OF YOU BLOKES! FALL BACK! THE MAESTER HAS FALLEN! PULL BACK INTO THE CITY! WE CAN'T HOLD!'
    
    Belize's teeth grit. They cannot stand idly by in the face of evil. But even more so than that--they cannot ignore the peril of one of their comrades.
    
    Nails digging into their palms in frustration, they leave Leviathan to the retreat back to the city proper, where they can regroup with the Maester.
    
    'Maester Seymour... please be well...'

GS: Ethius Hesiod has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

The plan, impromptu as it may have been, went off without a hitch. Xantia was pretty sure that this would be that crippling blow they'd been looking for, and this whole mess would be shortly over. Indeed, Hashmal suddenly starts to sink, which she takes as a good sign... until she realizes that she did not have any plan for what to do after making this thing collapse. So what can she do, but leap off the Golem before it disappears beneath the waves, towards the shore, and hope for the best?

It's close, but by some absolute miracle, she actually makes it back there, even without having a running start this time. Entering a roll immediately on landing, she even manages to do it without getting terribly injured in the process. She wouldn't be able to tell anybody how she pulled it off if they asked. At times of crisis, it's like an auto-pilot kicks in.

She doesn't even have a moment to catch her breath however, as a hail of stone comes crashing down shortly after, forcing her to start running immediately without being able to get much of a handle on the situation. But she hears calls for retreat happening, which considering the rock rain seems like a sound thing to do. Nobody likes to fight in weather that bad.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius feels a gentle touch on his shoulder - that of a resolute young woman who shoulders a burden that asks much of one who would carry it, one who seems saddled by destiny itself based on circumstances of what came before. Of what came before for over a thousand years. Spira is a land plagued by a cycle of death unending and unbroken. A cycle that has withstood a combined assault from those of Filgaia trapped here, and those from other parts of Lunar.
     Inwardly, it takes his everything to stop himself from looking at her - for a reason that extends above and beyond mere tactical and logistical matters of having to watch how Kaguya's brass colossus moves next. He takes the kind words and gestures with the same distance he shows every time people have raised protest to his behaviors.
     Protests to not stare at things, to not be creepy, or to break things (setting them on fire or otherwise). The good and the bad directed to him seem to be taken one in the same with that inscrutible stoicism. He has no words of further encouragement he can give the Summoner - he won't let the Veruni's words and actions define Yuna's life or resolve, and neither will he to her. Even so far as to keep her from seeing his face... a cold thing to anyone else who has found strength and will in such an unexpected kindness.
     He does turn to give a glance towards Marivel as she professes her level of investment in this local conflict. That woman has been a thorn in his side ever since she visited him while he was dealing with a part of the leftover Metal Beasts about the Elru countryside - too comfortable with him - as she reaffirms it's the right of the people of Spira to determine their course.
     "Yes." He reaffirms Marivel in what seems like a non-committed one-off word, but Ethius has that habit of being roundabout in the way he speaks. A little stilted, with a diction and pacing that sounds borderline monotone. Here, to all her passion, he just says 'yes.'
     It might say a lot more that he can say that succinctly as he sucks in air, the usual human body language slipping back as proof that he is beholden to the same biological limitations as any other mortal human being, as Ixion takes off to strike and also catch Rikku. Then...
     The earth moves. Ethius' footing becomes compromised, stumbling as he has to look over to the other Golem. The voice he hears from that lion-headed one over yonder, as his stride is broken in his search for more solid ground. A moment of strength and defiance, taken away by proxy as Kaguya barks back and the Golem's maw opens to charge power. He can see where it's tracking. He can't run - his legs near gave out trying to get away from that sickly power-sucking thing it had going on when he dared to draw too close.
     "What trust means... that is for this world to decide," he says coolly, eyeing where the other Golem had disappeared. He has much to say/think about that, but that's for another time. Those are big words, but he doesn't have it in him to call the big one to destroy this thing - to erase it.
     Kaguya tells them all to 'deal with it,' and a great and terrible beam that has felled so many unprepared - and many prepared - is inches away from going off. He closes his eyes. He... does have a spell for this situation. Wiggle fingers like this, the syllables... yes, the second half of the incantation was lodged in his memory for a while, there was something preceding it. He completes the spell, and thus...

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    "Dust Compress!" Ethius casts that spell, rushing the ambient dislodged dust in the air towards a specific point - that open maw. He has no hope of stopping the discharge of energy outright. It's a bit of a wing and a prayer underneath the seeming calculating nature of the Otherworlder Symbologist, but anything that creates an impediment for the full beam's focus - causing it to refract and/or lose some potency for what it has to travel through - is one he has to take, as all sorts of loose dirt and dust rush towards that point, as if to smother.
     He throws his arm inwards again and re-casts that defensive Symbological barrier as the beam fires. Logistically... little makes sense about this man.
     If he knows about these advanced weapons and how to deal with them, why doesn't he have equipment to match? He is not wearing armor that can survive a blast like this. (There isn't much armor that can to begin with!!!)
     Rikku's handiwork might be the X factor in the systems it wrecks as Ethius bears down a beam of such great heat and force that all sense of sight and sound seem to leave him. His skin prickles with coursing electricity that goes overtime to try and deflect the very particles - to fan them out in a distorted color halo.
     ...Then he takes a step forward.
     The temperature is above what humans could comfortably stay conscious in, himself included... but on some level, there is comfort in being surrounded by flame, smoke... destruction.
     When it ends...
     There is smoke. Ash, soot, smoke. Choking. Obscuring.
     A silhouette walks upright through it, stepping on top of red-hot stone. How his boots survived that - let alone not catch on fire and disintegrate - is something else. The topless, heavily Symbologically tattooed man steps forward like he were stripped bare of any other pretense.
     He walks as though the very smoke and ash were a part of him, the stinging of scratching dust against heat-mistreated flesh hardly registering as a thing of discomfort but just a thing that is. Sight and sound slowly return as he peers beyond the ruin. He exhales, more smoke billows around him. How he's taking in any breathable air is a mystery, let alone why his lungs haven't quit on him. (He coughs twice. Okay, maybe his lungs are complaining for real now.)
     A hand goes to his forehead. The quarterstaff has become a walking stick. Flame licks where the bottom touches, but does not consume it.

     I cannot let it happen. What is it? He just knows he can't let 'it' happen. No matter how much she has managed... I will not let it happen.

     He stretches that hand away from his forehead, fluttering fingers anew. His hand tingles with excruciating pain from the adrenaline starting to fade. His focus pushes past even that, chanting the syllables even through the choking dust that looks ready to settle in and suffocate him.
     "Dust Compress," he calls the spell again, focusing to a point around the Golem.
     A not small sphere-sized shape in space suddenly has all of its loose dusty matter fly towards the point in focus, as if to gather, to crush, to try and bury.
     The Golem is way, way, way too big to bury and obscure in total - but there is also a lot of free-floating soot and ash to direct in one crushing blow, to say nothing of any ambient dust within the Golem proper. As that dust around Ethius clears by this spell...
     He's still there, standing upright, staring. (The image of him being unmoved is ruined by him coughing four times after the fact.)

GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Dust Compress!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

Ashton lands in a three-point crouch after the dragons unleash. Creepy and Weepy shrivel and shrink, resuming their normal sizes once more. A haze of heat and chill hangs around the sellsword as he catches his breath.

Hashmal vanishes under the waves. They've won. They forced a retreat.

Ahahahahaha no they didn't.

Ashton is caught entirely off-guard when the ground shakes. Thrown from his feet, the swordsman's brief glow of victory is gone in a flash of confusion and surprise.

Then the golem emerges. Rocks fall all about and the air is choked with dust. The seawall is broken and Luca is vulnerable.

None of that matters to Ashton Anchors.

More than the wall breaking, more than the panic of the defenders, even more than the sound of his own bones breaking - one thing reached the Symbological Swordsman's ears. The dock shattering and hundreds of barrels being savagely destroyed.

A small but critically important part of Ashton's mind goes ping.

The battle is likely lost now as the Yevonites retreat, but Ashton doesn't care. He's going to make it count.

Out of the dust and debris flies a dark figure. A hooked blade in either hand, Ashton flies like a missile towards Hashmal. Symbology burns brightly, searing through the tattered remains of his shirt as one short teleport after another rockets Ashton towards the golem's head.

"GO!" His words now aren't for his opponent, but for those falling back on Belize's command. A memory strikes him.

A MONTH AGO

Zed thumped his chest and laughed at Luzzu's words. "Then I volunteer myself! Nyahahahahaha!"

One man, volunteering to hold the line against Sin while the others retreated. Ashton couldn't hold himself. He stepped forward as well. "Surely you cannot distract something such as that yourself. And no warrior should fight alone. I'll stand with you."

Two days after that, they had barely survived and failed to hold the retreat.

NOW

It'll be different this time.

Mid-air, Ashton leaps off a chunk of falling debris that had been knocked high into the air by Hashmal's eruption. In the blink of an eye - he is in front of the monstrosity's face. Glaring through it at the White Knight.

Blades in hand gleam.

"Sword dance."

His weapons sing - first a scissoring cut vertically, then another horizontally. Then? As gravity takes hold and he drops? The Symbological Swordsman becomes a whirling fury of steel.

Moments later he drops into the chaotic mass of debris and surging Guard below.

GS: Ashton Anchors has spent 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Ashton Anchors has attacked White Knight Leo with Cross Slash!
GS: Ashton Anchors has launched an attack Link!
GS: Ashton Anchors has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ashton Anchors has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ashton Anchors has spent 2 Combo on Gatling, including 2 on Gatling!
GS: Ashton Anchors has attacked White Knight Leo with Sword Dance!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Young to a golem is a difficult thing to quantify, but what is important is not the age but the expression of that age. She feels the smith behind the work. Her eyes glow a bright red through her seemingly non-assault assault.

But then its cut off. Whatever Marivel was searching for there, well, she may not have quite managed to lure it out. She stumbles back a bit.

Kaguya trusted once.

Maybe in the way Yuna sees the similarities between herself and Marivel, Marivel too now sees the similarities between herself and Kaguya.

Marivel trusted once.

And then...

Marivel hesitates. She trusts Yuna. She does. But there are barriers around her own heart, barriers that Yuna's relentless earnestness pounds upon but is so intrinsically ingrained into her psyche at this point that it is difficult to drop those barriers entirely.

A dark truth that changed everything for her. In that moment the toxins push through Marivel's body. She is already dead but the body has form and the form feels the pain. It may not seem like there's a coherent logic behind it but Crimson Nobles are more fairy tale than they are corporeal.

She takes in a low level breath, closing her eyes. That fond memory has finished replaying in her head. What comes next? What comes next? She is about to meet Professor Lumen. Kamui will enter their lives soon after. And after that. And after that...!

My father, Braska... his face is... everywhere. You saw it... at the Chapterhouse, on the statue that fell. He is... revered by Spira, though they do not know his nature, only his... legend. Beloved by the people, for defeating Sin. He gave them -- and gave me -- the Calm. So many live today because of the choice he made.

The choice Ana made. The choice... The choice Marivel made.

I sometimes wish... that he hadn't. Even though that would... be unfair, to everyone. So I think... perhaps... we are the same.

They are the same. They are! Even now Marivel wishes they made a different choice. Even now when she sees Auron she sees a desire for a different choice. What if Yuna makes the same choices? What if she doesn't quite have enough faith? What if she truly does follow her father's footsteps all the way to the grave?

Can Marivel trust her own path now, when she looks back her past choices with understanding, yes, but such pain that she would burn Filgaia to take back that choice, only held back by an understanding of what Ana would want? That is the only thing that stops her from dropping the match herself. She told Liath as much.

Yuna's loss is her loss. Yuna's pain is her pain. Yuna's smile is her smile. But more importantly than any of that.

More important than the Marivel she sees in Yuna, more important than the Anastasia she sees in Yuna, there is the Yuna she sees in Yuna.

Yuna is her own person. This story is not her story.

This...

Yuna says she believes in her too. A future that is now. Someone is saying she believes in her.

It would be rude to not believe in herself simply because Kaguya is also someone who has been betrayed. In fact...

Marivel abandons the shrouds. She stands in the sunlight. She has a few moments to channel her power before she must cover herself again, before she starts to burn. Already the telltale signs of smoke drift from her body.

She is worthy of trust.

"Kaguya," Marivel says. "I am sorry you have suffered in the past. I am sorry that you have been lied to. Or that you have been given false hope."

She raises her head. "But... Spira is not your world. Spira's people are not your people. Their lessons are not your lessons. Yuna is not me, Yuna is not you. Yuna is Yuna."

She takes a step forward and black energy beams ripple out from her body towards the golem, pounding at it relentlessly so long as she can stand in the sun.

"Her faith can be rewarded. Her optimism need not be stupid at all For this..."

Marivel smirks ever so faintly.

"This is her story."

DC: Marivel Armitage switches forms to Crimson Noble Marivel!
GS: Marivel Armitage has activated a Force Action!
GS: Marivel Armitage has activated a Force Action!
GS: Marivel Armitage has spent 4 Combo on Headshot and Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Erg Phasor!
GS: Marivel Armitage takes 21 damage from Poison!
GS: Poison expired!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! White Knight Leo critically Guards a hit from Ashton Anchors's Cross Slash for 44 hit points!
GS: Ashton Anchors's Stoic stance ends. He enters the Avenger stance!
GS: White Knight Leo critically Guards a hit from Ashton Anchors's Sword Dance for 31 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

Ixion whickers affectionately beneath Rikku's touch, tossing his head. She can see, reflected in his void-dark eyes, a gleam of Yuna's affection, and a gleam of someone else's, too.

But then the golem, and more profoundly, its pilot, sends something after them... something they can't outrun.

The miasma sinks into Yuna -- into Ixion, who surges out of it, Rikku in tow, but too late. The latter is a reflection, a refraction of the former, and so it is as his purple is now mottled with a growing, glowing sickly green, one can imagine the impact on the girl, even though all she's doing is coughing.

Coughing and swaying, very slightly, on her feet.

The vitriol of the dying...

"Ungh," the summoner pants, holding her head. Ixion dives towards where the others stand, determined to give Rikku a safe landing. She is delivered to Yuna's arms, and then set, gently, onto her own feet.

But only after Yuna gives her head an extra pat, as though verifying that her cousin is there, that she's all in one piece... even if is she isn't... okay.

Nothing's okay. Nothing could be okay, on Kaguya's emotional frequency.

Hyperventilating, Yuna looks up at the golem's face with sudden understanding and a terrible chord of empathy.

"Ah," she exhales, and it is a sigh of recognition, for the cloying choking black shard smoke boiling in the veins of her spirit...

...mighth as well be someone holding up a mirror.

Light is growing beneath the infection on Ixion's coat. It shimmers with promise, with potential.

"I know you," Yuna says to Kaguya, breathlessly. She doesn't smile.

One mote of light -- pure white radiance, not electricity at all -- pierces through the oily sheen on the ki-rin, and floats upwards towards the heaven like a bubble blown from the end of a reed.

He takes a tentative step forward.

"I see you," Yuna adds, sadly. She reaches up an empty hand, fingers splayed widely, as though trying to look past it into the sun, even though it's darkness and metal instead.

Ixion leaps back into the sky, is lost to the gathering clouds there, which create a gigantic spiral centered over the battlefield... and a ridiculously large umbrella for Marivel, if indirectly.

"I'm sorry," she concludes, one dying girl to another, alongside the apology of a third girl who might already be dead -- inclining her head, gravely, towards the Crimson Noble.

But it isn't the end. That truth flashes in her eyes, which remain fixed firmly upon the golem, upon where within it she imagines Kaguya to be.

"I don't blame you... trust is easy to lose and difficult to repair. But... I can't accept your choice."

Leo's golem shatters the wall not far away from them. Yuna nearly loses her footing, but manages to stay upright, with some help from her friends.

"A war waged with machina... is what created Sin in the first place. You may be doing more to strengthen Sin, by doing this, than anything else has in a thousand years. But... even if I can't win today against you, I will win against Sin. I will defeat Sin. And maybe, in some small way..."

She bows, deeply.

"...I can restore your hope."

And then the sky reopens.

BGM Start! Immigrant Song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRjH_gJbUqQ

It's out of order, the thunder and the lightning. But the thunder booms first, it roars, at tremendous, terrible decibel--

--far, far below, Yuna is holding Rikku, covering her ears with both their hands--

--because the lightning is still being gathered.

Release!

It pours towards the golem like an overflowing river, like the sea into Luca just now, like tears from ducts. Only water is the wrong analogy, for this electricity is no liquid, for all it resembles it, just now, in sheer quantity.

Ixion is visible at its source, his horn the lightning rod.

And at the other end...

...the lightning coruscating around the golem is forming a sphere.

A spherical magnetic field, space distorted by energy to be blue and white and teal and violet, as much so as Ixion himself, whose every marking now glows with that impossibly brilliant white, like a reverse tattoo that has wholly burned away the poison--

--Yuna's feelings, the conviction of the dying--

--the hope of the dying.

Ixion focuses, deepening his midair stance, and sends a last, greater pulse of lightning to join the scintillating charged field.

It's like sparks traveling up a fuse.

And then-- let there be light.

The concussive force of the explosion threatens to accidentally tear the hole in the seawall further open. Um, oops. But Yuna doesn't look away.

She's still hoping -- hoping that the other girl will emerge.

She might even be hoping that they can be friends.

GS: Yuna has spent 3 Combo on Link and Gatling, including 2 on Gatling!
GS: Yuna has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Rolling Thunder!
GS: Yuna has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Yuna has launched an attack Link!
GS: Yuna has activated a Force Action!
GS: Yuna has activated a Force Action!
GS: Yuna has spent 3 Combo on Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Yuna has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Thor's Hammer!
GS: Yuna has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Yuna has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Dash Caskett has posed.

The kick lands firm, instead of laser edge cutting. It is strong, but does little against this strange foe. Being in close quarters, Dash is ready for retaliation swiftly, though it doesnt come. Instead, reinforcements arrive. "Can you just leave these strange people ot their devices?" he asks.

He doesn't chase the opening in melee, but waits. THe Blade Arm emits a soft hum as its megenta glow flickers on a frequency that is on the edge of visual periphery.

A lady, though something is off. Dash can't quite tell what. But he does get a name for his opponent at least through her.

Ambrosius disengages, and Dash trains the Mega Buster toward him, but does not fire. A defensive posture that threatens retaliation if he takes a shot at Dash. "I would appreciate that," he replies with. Though more attentive matters spring up. THe ground begins to tremor. Sounds of deep cracking, erupting and shifting landmass can be heard nearby, and even here, the boy struggles to find good footing with his boots. "What is happening over there?!" he exclaims.

Just a travel around the corner shows dighting still underway, as molten earth spews upon fractured floodwalls, and the last of the fighters still struggle against the giant mechs.

But rather than join the fray, he shall look for anyone trapped by raining rubble and lava. Best to get those out that can't do anything about this. Even if it was that mean old lady.

GS: Kaguya Alathfar guards a hit from Ethius Hesiod's Dust Compress for 127 hit points!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar critically Guards a hit from Marivel Armitage's Erg Phasor for 34 hit points!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar guards a hit from Yuna's Rolling Thunder for 257 hit points!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar guards a hit from Yuna's Thor's Hammer for 235 hit points!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    The Dragonship Destiny leads the charge. The magitech craft races through the hole made by Golem Hashmal, and maneuvers into Luca's harbor. A blur of motion on the viewscreen catches Leo's eye a moment later. Not all of his foes are fleeing the field--Ashton Anchors refuses to yield, even though the city is already lost. Leo wonders, for a moment, what manner of irrationality has gotten into the man's heads, but one thing is clear: Ashton is not letting Leo get off easy.

    Hashmal's blade sweeps forwards, blocking Ashton's first strike with a ringing, bell-like tone. The swordsman doesn't give up. Leo finds himself pressed back on the defensive, making blocks that his blade is ill-suited for. Anger boils up inside him--just give up, he thinks--and then one of Ashton's strikes breaks through. He cuts a long, thin line across Hashmal's torso, and then drops from view.

    Leo does not allow his shoulders to sag. Hashmal would copy that, and he does not want everyone to see him in a moment of weakness. It's a relief, certainly, to have achieved such a victory.

    But why is he still stewing over what his enemies said to him?

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

The wall is broken. The ships sail forward. It should be it, it should be enough--and indeed, Cuchulainn simply stands, keeping open the way with its sheer colossal bulk. Even with Ethius standing underneath the power of its main cannon, it should be enough. ...And yet...

She knows, she thinks, that she'll see him before she does. That he does not fall to a cannon, the way he might have to the magic she was forced not to use for the moment because of Marivel's use of her own spell.

She will have to improve its shielding.

The Golem is too large to be buried, too gigantic to disappear underneath the ash, but it is not completely immovable, and the hammer of dust and dirt and debris caught up by the battle is enough to dent its great form. But, it still stands.

Marivel is there--the drain is done, but she has things to say. She abandons her shrouds, despite the danger, and Kaguya frowns to see it. "You're going to risk that much?" she asks, and then pauses. There is smoke, and yet... There are apologies. There are beams with the ripples, there is an empathy there that shouldn't be present, after a pitched battle such as this. Black energy cascades towards her Golem--

But Kaguya can tell herself Marivel doesn't understand, because she is dead but undying, and so she can tilt her Golem to absorb most of the terrible shadowy blow, because darkness does not frighten her and she has her own terrible magic. But Marivel has said something--she has opened another door, and she has said it is Yuna's story.

And Yuna...

Yuna, as she stands through the terrible magic Kaguya has brought forth, speaks to her, breathless, and despite her small stature, despite the great bulk of the Golem, Kaguya hears her then. Kaguya's not, precisely, where Yuna imagines--but she doesn't have to be, because her machine's cameras pick up Yuna's face as if she were looking directly at her, and so she is there. She says... She knows. A mote of light shines. And she says...

"I--"

I know you. I see you. And the small Veruni does not know how or why, but the opened door becomes a connection, for just an instant, and she sees her too. "--..."

She blinks, and almost forgets to work the controls an instant later, to reinforce armor, to push internal shielding upward in the direction of powerful magical attacks. The lightning was long, long gathered--and it this time, despite Kaguya's previous focus on the Aeon, blasts through. It hits, and when the shine is gone, the Golem's great metal form is there, up in the air where the magnetic field was powerful enough to lift even its titanic form.

...It remains. But it does not counterattack. ...Instead, a few faint, salty drops fall down onto the console before its pilot. "...Shut up," she mutters, and she doesn't turn on the radio to let it be heard.

"...Mission complete," the radio crackles to Leo's Golem a moment later. "...I'm out of here. This stupid city's done anyway. Stupid, ridiculous--"

Another few drops, as the Golem simply turns...

...And fades back into the waves, beginning to leave the way it came.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    The brass Golem retreats. Ethius stands with his hand out as if willing himself to prepare another spell as the Golem goes into the sea. He breathes in, out, in-- cough, cough --in, out, and staggers off the nearly molten rock underneath. This isn't a safe position. This isn't a stable position.
     This is a vulnerable position.
     The siege by Althena's Guard has begun in earnest, and a question as to what they were holding back in Kilika is answered - if not why. The stoicism gives concessions to being in pain and hunger from the level of spellcasting he's had to pull off, and there is one other feeling inherent that strips further away the cloak of emotional obfuscation to his person.
     He feels exposed. He is exposed, nothing hiding his face or his upper body. He reaches for the satchels at his be-- there are none, they got loose. He staggers towards where some of the piles of dust have settled as though urgent (it is), taking his hand around a handful of the matter. There's no satchels about to put it in.
     He looks once to the resolute Summoner, the loving Crimson Noble, and the Al Bhed machnist who has found a new calling as a Guardian only for a split second. Doubtless, any of them will want to see him, to check on him, perhaps shower him with further thanks for what he's done--
     I can't stay here, is his primary thought. He decides the handful of ground particles is good enough, clenching his fist tight as he performs the gesticulations from an arm whose elbow is wrapped around his quarterstaff. Its contents struggle against the hold of his hand, as if under great pressure to explode as he completes the spell with the chanting component. Light comes from his body, giving away the Symbology in action.
     The same spell he uses to set a Powder Grenade, as he throws that fist into the ground. Said hand spasms in pain as an obscuring dust cloud consumes him - there is a reason why he does this through a satchel and not his own hand! - to help him escape.
     Escape from even those that would consider him a trustworthy friend, in these dark times - as though he simply cannot, should not, be seen like this. As if the very script of the story demands he vacate, whatever script that may be, whoever may be directing it.
     He may not have the luxury of choosing when and where the manner of his appearances, things being as they are.