3392/A Night At The Museum

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A Night At The Museum
Date of Scene: 15 November 2015
Location: Tokyo-52605 <NXC>
Synopsis: A visit to the Tokyo National Museum in their world leads Reiji, Xiaomu, and friends into battle against an unexpected threat.
Cast of Characters: Tomoe, Reina Kinney, Reiji Arisu, 707, 749, 847, 889
Tinyplot: Restoration of the Killing Stone

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
The Tokyo National Museum in Tokyo-52605 started its big Hokusai around the end of October, roughly when Hokusai is believed to have been born. Hokusai was prolific enough over the course of his life (and multiple names) that a proper display of his work could probably completely take over a museum larger than the TNM; as such, the exhibit is representative rather than comprehensive.

But they still managed to get some prints that have only more recently been confirmed as Hokusai's work, and which have never been publicly displayed before. That's enough to attract a lot of interest, out of everyone from legitimate museum-goers and patrons of the arts to the less savory sorts who might be looking to try and grab some loot. Security is reasonably tight for the exhibit proper ... at least, by mundane standards. There are no metal detectors at the doors - this is *Japan*, after all - but there are plenty of uniformed security guards arranged throughout the building, and the prints and paintings on display are generally behind glass, or in a few cases, sandwiched between layers of it.

While the museum's security is a matter of some concern to Xiaomu personally, she's not working tonight. In fact, she's actually gone and gotten dressed up. Her usual qipao and vest have been replaced by a midnight-blue velvet cocktail gown with matching opera gloves, and the sandals she normally favors were supplanted for the night by proper ladies' dress shoes, with modestly high heels.

She did mention the museum exhibit to a few friends, some within Shinra, some in the Union; she's currently waiting outside the museum for the group to gather.

Reina Kinney has posed:
Dressed rather formally for the evening, Reina looks more like a man than a woman with her jacket and slacks. But formal is formal, and at least it's not a guy wearing a dress, right?

    Nevertheless, Reina arrives a little earlier than one might expect her to arrive. Based on the way she's walking in her heels, one might think it's because she's not used to wearing them. Or it could be she's just being extra punctual tonight. What does it matter, it's not like she'd tell you.

    The lack of a metal detector catches Reina slightly off-guard, but she shrugs it off and makes her way into the museum proper, looking for Xiaomu herself in hopes of greeting her quickly. If Xiaomu were to ask, Reina would insist that she was concerned about getting around the subway system and that she left early to ensure that she had enough time to get there. That's all she'd tell Xiaomu though. Although it should be noted that she realizes she DID see Xiaomu outside, she just didn't recognize her at first because of her dress, so she heads back outside to greet her properly. "I have my reasons for being early," She says, running a hand through her hair. "Let's just say the subway system is a bit TOO efficient!"

Konoe Kanno (847) has posed:
     Konoe had heard tell of this particular exhibit from Xiaomu some time ago, and honestly, she wasn't interested. Art had little meaning to her in any immediate sense. She'd never been in a museum in her life either. But nonetheless, she was mildly curious all the same. Simply for the very same fact that she never had been inside a museum.

     Unlike most others however, she didn't have much in the way of casual or formal clothing. And so, she chose to wear her typical Shinra uniform, consisting of a red shirt, black tie, a black skirt, and a pair of white sandals. She wasn't too worried about being a strange youkai among humans tonight. At least they weren't in Akihabara. They place was dreadful.

     After some trials navigating the city, Konoe eventually made it to the destination, and spotted Xiaomu some distance away. Oh, was that the building? It seemed like it. Nodding to herself, she decided to approach. "Good evening, Xiaomu-san." Konoe greeted, bowing her head a bit in the process. Reina was given a look and a nod after. "Reina-san, hello."

     She came to a stop, glancing up at the building before them. "I'm not late, am I?" She asked, while studying the architecture casually, as if staking out potential danger, even though they weren't on the job.

Reiji Arisu has posed:
    It's not often that Reiji gets to wear a suit. Not that he particularly minds being in combat gear ninety percent of the time, but it's nice to have a change every so often. The exorcist is wearing a sharp, if simple, black jacket, tie and pants with a white undershirt. All in all, about as you would expect for a man in formalwear.

It's a little more casually fitted than the usual 'Men in Black' look, but that's not exactly hard to do.

    "You're fine," Reiji says to Konoe from over Xiaomu's shoulder. "We're just waiting for... whoever else might've decided to turn up." He does cast a somewhat... concerned glance at Konoe's fluffy ears, but the people here might think it's some kind of strange fashion statement, or something.

    "Going to be a pretty good exhibit, I think," he says, looking towards the museum, "Lot of art up tonight." Hopefully nothing happens to threaten it. Ueno is an excellent venue for something like this kind of thing, though-- there's a temple not at all too far from the museum.

And that means logistical support! Just... just in case.

Tomoe has posed:
Tomoe has come to this event as why not she was curious, also of note she's in a fairly formal red dress which was a creation and gift from Frederica some time ago. She's also here as Tomoe rather than Sheena but she seems to be ready for the event. She was honestly excited to some see this. She comes in a bit late though as she's now looking for where Xiaomu and Reiji have got too. She's quiet as she enters. She's also pretty darn tall it seems she is about six one before any footware gets involved.

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
Xiaomu grins, waving to Reina. "Yeah, the subways usually run pretty smoothly at this time of evening. If it'd been much earlier, or a weekday, it would've taken a LOT longer - and been far less pleasant." She wrinkles her nose, remembering the LAST time she wound up in a subway car full of salarymen on their way home from post-office drinking.

The way she runs a hand over her 'hair' (tails) has nothing to do with that, really. She's glad Reiji was able to pry himself away from work's various forms, in any case. Konoe as well, even if she hasn't gotten locked into office work the same way the two Shinra veterans have. "Nope, not late at all, Konoe!"

She pauses briefly, spotting Tomoe and waving the big girl over. "And I think that's everyone. Kenji wasn't going to be able to make it, as I recall ... Anyway. Let's go in!"

Xiaomu pays for everyone's admission to the exhibit without any discussion; this was her invitation, she gets to pay for it, and it doesn't put a huge dent in her finances. There's a modestly thick brochure provided with the tickets, and a QR code printed on the back of that brochure so those who desire to can download a more extensive digital guide to their smartphone (or Multiversal radio, where compatible).

A super-sized print of 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa' hangs on the back wall in the very first room, which provides a general overview of Hokusai's best-known works along with a capsule biographical profile. Beyond that, the exhibit is largely laid out to correspond with the major periods of Hokusai's life and work. Some of his student works are in the first room, along with a number of the brush paintings with which he first gained fame. Further in, you can see a number of the books which he worked on, from lesson-books in drawing to selections of the 'Hokusai Manga,' and a series of illustrations from an early-19th-century edition of the Otogizoshi, a traditional collection of Japanese folklore, myths, and legends.

And Xiaomu appears to be *fully* engrossed in exploring the exhibit. She downloaded the full guide to her phone ahead of time, and is so attentive to taking a long look at every item that you'd swear she had a checklist and was working her way through it before moving on to each room. To those who know her more as a gamer or anime fan, this might seem out of place ...

Lina Brand (889) has posed:
    "So, tell me why we're doing this again? I'll bust the wall open for you but hey, I want a cut of whatever you're making here." the voice comes from the girl with a bow and a red and brown glowing arrow. "These arrows aren't cheap to make." they were but he doesn't have to know, right? Lina takes aim, muttering some kind of spell before the arrow glows brighter, "Well, here goes nothing, I've not tried a Firaquake Arrow before. This will be ... fun."

    She draws a bead from bow sight to a side wall, nodding, "Do what you need to do, I'll prepare my net arrows to pin people down to make sure you're uninterrupted. HOpefully they don't mind a magical sniper." drawing the bow back a bit more, she's going to get every ounce of power out of this shot, the arrow finally reaching its max glow, the right amount of MP inputted. "Firaquake Arrow." and with the thwip of the arrow being released, she waits for it to hit the target.

    The arrow embeds itself into the outside wall of the museum and soon, the entire building begins to shake rapidly, almost like a magnitude five earthquake. But what's not expected is the following. A loud explosion creating a firey opening from where the arrow hit, the size of a couple men could fit through it with ease. "Hey, it worked. After you, Sir."

Reina Kinney has posed:
    Reina isn't too big on art generally, but she was invited to come along so she does try to show as much interest in this whole thing as she can. It's a little forced, but hopefully it should look genuine enough to convince any onlookers that she's paying full attention to what she's seeing. She nods a little and makes random comments as to what she's looking at, although it's somewhat obvious she finds some of this stuff a bit on the unusual side.

    "Hence the reason you need to brush up your cultural knowledge," Reina mutters to herself as she runs a hand through her ponytail while continuing to browse.

Vega (749) has posed:
     Shinra fights monsters. That is what Shinra does. They regulate, protect, and face off against the various oddities of the Japanese spiritual world, the things that don't make sense in the world of the mundane and can't be known by the general public. They are the first and last line of defense against the myriad selfish, self-righteous, fickle creatures of the Japanese spirit world, who guard the public from those moments when the universes of monster and man collide and expand beyond the confines nature granted them.

     This is one of those moments.

     Even before the explosion, there's a feeling of...unease...in the air. Patrons, tensed. Guards, reaching nervously for their weapons. There's something in the air, an unpleasantness, a palpable and notable *wrongness* that permeates the museum like a mist. It doesn't even take supernatural senses to feel it, as evidenced by the sheer number of patrons and guards getting twitchy with each other.

     And then comes the explosion as the arrow shakes and bursts. The wall comes crumbling in, filling the room with smoke and dust. Through it...

     Through it come soldiers. They are well-trained men in black and red body-armor, wearing gas masks, with a winged-skull symbol prominently on their uniforms. They bear weapons far more advanced than anything in the current world, weapons that bear the distinct thrum of lasers, which they wield with surprising and professional aptitude, fanning out in all directions. A little bit of chatter can be heard as they move in small squads, guns at the ready:

     "Sweep for Aurics!"

     So this isn't an attack on the tour group.

     That, however, may be small comfort. As the soldiers fan through, behind them comes another figure. It's a beautiful man in a mask and tight pants and *nothing else*, a horrible-looking claw attached to the back of his hand, a serpent tattoo winding around his back. He walks in like he owns the place, immediately looking around. He taps one of the soldiers on the shoulder.

     The soldier nods.

     "Enter, Master Vega, lovely miss," the tattooed man says, bowing low at the hole.

     It is at this point that the second figure enters.

     This figure is far, far more concerning.

     He's only six feet tall, but his mere presence is like a physical thing, filling the room to make him seem larger than life, larger than the petty confines of 'flesh' can really bear. A cloak is pulled around his body as he *floats* - not walks, but *floats*, as if the ground itself is too base for him to set for upon - through the hole, and a hat sits perched upon his head, a hat with the same skull-and-wing symbol as the soldiers. His face is affixed with a terrible grin as he passes various civilians, blank white eyes - *soulless* eyes - sweeping the room with practiced ease. He's looking for something.

     "Fan out," the man intones, and his voice is as horrible as his presence, a mockery of everything light and good and just, a voice that cannot conceive of a joy not born of *hurting other people*, "Take everything we can fit in the carrier."

     The monster - for that is the only thing he can be, a monster, a true and unrelenting Monster the sort that no longer shows up in these civilized centuries - tilts his head at Lina. "Yes. You will be well-compensated for this. The word of Vega is the word of Shadowlaw."

Tomoe has posed:
Tomoe is waved over and heads to join up with the tiny fox spirit. Or is that Oni? Demon? Sigh she'll figure it out and it's hard to tell given Xiaomu is about as much of a nerd as she is, if not more. She will have to talk to Xiaomu later. For now she follows along to take in the art, and she's got no issue triggering the QR code with her smartphone.

"You really like this don't you Xiaomu? See anything from when you were younger?"

She's not making an old joke here she's honestly curious if this is the sort of thing she might have seen them painted of was aware of them long ago.

She was enjoying herself too when everything goes to heck as soldiers and he yells about sweerping for Elites, okay someone's on the ball already from that and that feeling of uneash she felt. She's not even fully /here/, well it's explined and she's going to try to play dumb for the moment, as there's a lot of possible horages here, it could get messy very fast.

Konoe Kanno (847) has posed:

     Konoe nodded at Xiaomu, managing a small smile as they made their way into the museum at last. They were paid for and were soon inside. She had no idea how to use 'QR Codes' or read very well, much less write, so the pamplet was mostly useless to her. But that wasn't what was important right now. What was important was that since the moment she set foot into this place, something felt /wrong/.

     She couldn't place her finger upon what or how, but it just did. And thus, she couldn't focus. She passed by each piece, giving it a distracted look, and then moving on without really taking it in as the art it was. "Um, am I the only one who fee-"


     There went a part of a wall on the other side of the grounds, opposite her position. She jumped at the sound, managing to keep from yelping out loud. "Wha-Who are they?" She muttered, stepping back as she watched the black and red garbed soldiers fan in through the hole. They were armed to the teeth. To a level she wouldn't place to this world. Offworlders? Maybe, but she couldn't be sure.

     The man in the mask came next, which got a few slow blinks from her. ...She'd think he was a joke, if it weren't for that rather cruel looking claw he had on his hand. The last to enter gave her pause. "......" Whoever that man was, covered in a cloak and grinning in a manner that would equate him more with a monster than a human. "...That's...That's a human?" Anotheer muttered concern from Konoe as she frowned, and then took in the foot soldiers fanning out.

     'Sweep for Aurics!'

     Her ears twitched at that. Aurics? What were those supposed to be? Elites? That was the term she'd heard most. Maybe that was it? Well, either way, this didn't look good. Rather than run in, ofuda blazing, the miko leaned aside to Xiaomu and Reiji. "Do we know who they are? How are we going to approach this? ...There are civilians around too."

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
Xiaomu grins sheepishly at Tomoe. "Oh, you have *no* idea," she says playfully. The aura of unease seems to roll right off of her in the midst of the sage fox's good mood; she might not even be aware of that tension or the wrongness seeping through the museum. She doesn't even seem to pay particular heed to the earthquake - if you live in Japan long enough, you just get *used* to occasional rumbles in the ground. Sometimes you barely notice them ... but a magnitude-five temblor is pretty noticeable. Even then, Xiaomu seems more worried about the displays than the architecture; it's enough that she doesn't reply further to Tomoe.

Then there's an explosion, and Xiaomu's good mood evaporates into shock. "... attacking a *museum*, of all the ..."

The soldiers invade, and with her face going stony, Xiaomu crosses the rooms to meet them, her eyes narrowing at their leader.

Auric? Xiaomu is downright supernatural, *AND* experienced enough to be an Elite even if her raw power wasn't enough.

She's also pissed off, but - for whatever reason, self-preservation is only *one* possibility - restraining herself. "You have so much nerve," she growls at Vega. "Property damage, reckless endangerment ... and all just to steal a bunch of art? I thought the raid on the Exodar the other night was bad, but attacking a *museum* of all places - are there any depths the Confederacy WON'T sink to?!"

She may be fully dressed, but Xiaomu feels decidedly naked without her staff or her guns. Not that a lack of weapons makes her entirely helpless; she just likes having a full deck of options. Hopefully Reiji is better-armed than she is; he seems to have slipped away for the moment.

Reina Kinney has posed:
    Normally, Reina wouldn't be startled by something like this happening, since her senses are usually on high alert. However, her attempt to act interested has gotten a bit too real since she's engrossed in the artwork and is completely brought out of her trance when the explosion occurs. "What the hell was that?" Reina asks to no one in particular. Her instincts tell her it's most likely the Confederacy. Even if it's not, they're obviously not friendly, and must be taken care of immediately.

    "Unngh... ow... owww!" Reina whispers as she runs after Xiaomu, finding that running in heels isn't as easy as it might seem in the movies. She almost loses her balance at one point but regains her footing, pausing long enough to duck into a women's restroom and switch off her heels for a pair of regular sneakers that she snuck in (how? That's her secret!) Not as formal but desperate times call for desperate measures!

    Rushing back to where the explosion sounds like it came from, Reina is unsurprised to find a bunch of weird looking goons standing there. "So, attacking a museum? Either there's something VERY high valued here, or you're just very dumb." Reina folds her arms and clicks her tongue a little. "Either way, you're gonna regret messing with us!"

Lina Brand (889) has posed:
    The archer's sitting at the back, where she belongs, preparing another arrow and this one seemed to have a bigger tip inside of it. She pulls out a few more arrows of the same type and nods. "Let's see if I can do this..." she gives a bit of a nod and as soon as she gets her opening from Vega, she fires. Aiming at civilians to keep them pinned down, mostly to protect them. "Blizzara Nets powering up." and with four thwips of the arrows leaving the bow, they're off.

    Once past Vega and his 'army', the nets explode out into heavy ice-laced nets designed to keep whatever is under the net down and with this, she starts to stroll up towards the hole and Vega, a grin under that green Ranger's cap of hers, but before she gets there, a swirl of leaves and wind surround her, the ranger dissapearing from sight. "NOw they see me, now they don't!" At least, she hopes they don't see her.

    The ranger girl takes a few looks around and pulls out one more arrow, readying it but not firing, that'd give her away. 'Now, what to get for Mister Vega. What would he like. Probably everything...'

Reiji Arisu has posed:
    The second member of Shinra's most effective field team was, at that moment, on the museum's second floor. He had wanted to take a look at one of the artist's more recently discovered pieces for... personal reasons. Now, though, he's quite thankful that he made the move.

    That there is the thing that Reiji was kind of hoping they wouldn't have to deal with. A nice day at the museum interrupted by what he can only presume to be are interdimensional super-Nazis. After the conclusion of Operation Tenebrae in the fourties, he was kind of hoping that those wouldn't even be around in any real capacity anymore, but that's the thing about the multiverse, he supposes.

It's a good thing that the Shinra Organization has contingencies in place in case of spontenous jackbooted thugs.

    Reiji's brow furrows as he stares through the swirling dust and straight ahead into That Man's terrible aura. "One of these nights," he sighs, rubbing mildly at his forehead, "I'd really love to not have to deal with this kind of bullshit."

    He draws back the sleeve of his coat, revealing what appears to be a completely ordinary and quite simple wristwatch. Except for the fact that Reiji has brought it up to speak into it. "Authorization Sigma-Rho-Tau," the watch's face flashes once. It blinks twice. "Mainterm - Access," A little antenna extends from its face. "Call - Ryuki," the museum seems to shudder briefly. For about a full city block in all directions, it's as though a minor tremor has taken hold. "Mode," his eyes sharpen, "Active."

Another tremor. This one significantly more powerful than the first.

    Reiji simply unbuttons his coat. Casually, he steps towards the bannisters overlooking the floor below. With a flourish, he swings his jacket over his shoulder and leaps down.

The wall behind him explodes.

A MASSIVE RED TANK drives in, just in time for Reiji to land on its nose.

    A man in a conspicuously voluminous black trenchcoat appears from one of the vessel's airlocks and slings a familiar set of weapons at the man on top of the vehicle. "Thanks, Yatagarasu," he nods to the apparent Shinra Agent before tossing his own suit-coat the man's way.

    "Hey, Xiaomu!" Reiji roars over the panicking crowd as he leaps from his perch. Karin explodes from its sheath, swung into one of the aforementioned thugs. "We've got supplies!"

Other Shinra Agents begin moving in, too.

Did they plan for an attack like this!?

Probably not specifically, but this is THEIR city, and they've got the resources to protect it.

(As to how the tank got here so quickly-- well, Tokyo's rail system is a hell of a thing.)

Vega (749) has posed:
     Ah. The heroes arrive.

     This is, more or less, how these things *go*. As soon as they show up, chatter among the soldiers *explodes*, and they start hurriedly training guns on Xiaomu, Reina, and the others who are actually making their pesence known.

     Lina gets an opening when the Dictator simply *vanishes*. There's a burst of purple fire, and he's just gone. He reappears in another flash, near the ceiling of the room.

     That horrible grin has not changed. Vega's hands snap outwards, brushing aside the cape. He's dressed in gear that frankly looks worthy of the name /Dictator/, a heavy belt, a military uniform that bears resemblance to both German and Thailand officer uniforms, and, again, that damn Skull-With-Wings Symbol.

     He starts laughing.

     It is not a nice laugh. It is a skin-crawly laugh, the kind of laugh that makes fun of people who say things like 'depths'. In fact it is the word /depths/ that sets off his wild, mocking laughter, a laughter that - /most disturbingly/ - starts echoing through the *civilians* in the area. Panicking civilians freeze mid-motion to throw back their heads. Hostages start laughing and spreading their arms. Soon it's not one mocking laugh but a chorus of them, spreading like wildfire, like plague.

     The man in the mask noticably shudders.

     And then the laughter suddenly stops, and the Dictator's massive finger points outwards, like an accusing judge. "What a foolish thing to ask of me. You who guard the purposeless world, rejoice! The artifice of your civilization - /depths/, /heights/, *morality*, *justice* - the gears that turn the purposeless engine you call the world - show their first cracks this day! Today is the beginning of a new order, a new existence, for this pitiably corrupt world spinning without meaning through the void of all existence!"

     "I am Vega, lord of Shadowlaw! Sing the hallelujahs of my existence, and know that today is the most important day of your lives - for I am he who gives purpose to the aimless, judgement to the weak, and strength to those who have the courage to grasp it!"

     Vega flicks his hand outwards, and the mind-controlled hostages start rising. They move to tackle Reina, Konoe and Tomoe to the ground, to impede the Shinra reinforcements. The soldiers, well-armed, start moving to flank with Lina, firing lasers in her targets' directions with a sci-fi PYEWWWW.

     Balrog rushes to the fore, dancing between hostages with ease. He spins over the top of them and drops, raising a claw at Xiaomu. "I hope, senorita, that you are as much fun to peel as you are to look at it," he murmurs, and then his claw goes swinging in, fast and furious.

     Meanwhile, Vega turns to face Reiji and the tank. His hand reaches outwards, and purple fire engulfs the tank. His temple pulses with obvious effort, and a bit of blood rolls down his nose.

     He makes a physical motion, a jerking motion, like he's pulling something.

     The tank drags forward towards Reiji, and the museum, and the mind-controlled crowd at large.

     What do?!

Tomoe has posed:
Tomoe Was having a good time with Xiaomou and the others she gets she's just here remotley and well she can get better if she gets taken down. She's an elite as well with a bit of experiance she's been smart enough to not start a fight outright given she was totally out in the open and hte ears are a give away she's not a local to be sure. She knows of Vega, but not his two main helpers. The man in the mask though gives off a vibe that sone of the Laughing Coffin did back in the day and she does not like that. She also knows that a lot of people are being controls here too. She's going to play along for now and look for an opening where she can act even if her gear's not out she still has her 'spells' for lack of a better term. She's got a plan but she need sto wiat it out while Balrog , Vega and Lina get more engaged in other things.

Konoe Kanno (847) has posed:
     A sigh escaped from Konoe's lips and she rubbed her forehead as everything went to hell in a neat little handbasket at mach speed. "Not even on a day off..." The nets were fired in. "Kh..!" It was too late to dodge out of the way by the time she heard those thwips however, and before she realized it, she was pinned to the ground under a net that suddenly started etting /really/ cold. "What the-- Hey! Where did this even-" Konoe's immediate thought was to slash the net apart, but ice was quickly growing out from the net and onto her.

     Despite all of this, she could spy Vega floating high above near the ceiling. And then came the laughter. The creepy, terrifying laughter that echoed in from all around as innocents laughed along with him, as if possessed. This only made her glare up at him. "...This is supposed to be simple art exhibit! Where do you get off crashing in here, stealing what isn't yours, and threating innocent lives like this!?" She would have flown up and engaged him herself, but...well, this freezing net around her wasn't really helping that line of thinking. She'd have to leave that to Reiji and...the tank he called in. Well, that would do it.

     With Shinra personnel flooding in to meet with the Shadowlaw troops, Konoe redoubled her efforts on trying to break free of the net around her. It would have been simple if she could move her limbs and claw it away, but the ice was growing onto her body, lowering her internal temperature and binding her to the net. "Grrr....!" Who the hell fired this thing? It was cheap and unfair!

     "Whoever fired this, come out here and face me fair and square!"

Reina Kinney has posed:
    The civilians are definitely under mind control of some kind. Reina knows there's nothing she can do about it as they come at her. But she also knows that she can't risk hurting anyone either. At least not unnecessarily. Fortunately, Reina knows how to utilize CQC (or the GUARDIANS equivelant) in a situation like this, meaning that she's glad she doesn't have her weapons on hand right now. That would be risking civilian lives, and even one collateral damage case is more than enough to get Reina chewed out by Laia Martinez... and that is NOT pleasant!

    "I'm sorry I have to do this," Reina calls out, although it's more than likely the mind controlled civilians aren't listening anymore. "It's for your own good!" She attempts to grab the nearest mind controlled civilian coming at her and attempts to deliver a CQC-styled takedown. However, the takedown is done with extra control so that it's more like attempting to subdue the target rather than actually knock them out. She wants to avoid having to do that if she can.

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
At the moment the icenet arrows were launched, Xiaomu was PROBABLY too close to Vega for Lina to aim at properly. Lucky her.

However, Vega promptly TELEPORTS AWAY like a man with no sense whatsoever of good manners. And Reiji busts out a giant prototype mobile armory/urban tank, which prompts a faintly predatory smile to cross Xiaomu's lips. But before she can go fetch her weaponry, she's accosted by a clawed man who might be suave if he weren't so damn creepy.

Xiaomu is fast enough on the dodge to twist away from the claw; one blade's tip nicks the shoulder of her dress, and fabric starts giving way. "Please," she scoffs at Balrog. "You know what happened to the last guy who wanted to 'peel' me against my will?"

"Because *nobody does.*"

And she doesn't even give Balrog time to parse the threat before she dives in, trying to get under the matador's guard and suplex his masked face right into the floor. Being disarmed only makes Xiaomu a little bit less dangerous - not helpless.

Reiji Arisu has posed:
    Reiji watches as the Man In Red rises. He listens as he gives his speech. He... frowns severely as the whole mess of civilians start roaring with megalomaniacal laughter. "Mind control," he growls under his breath. "You're using civilians as shields? Wow, you guys really are Nazis."

    More immediately threatening, though, is the fact that the tank is being mind-tossed at him like some kind of massive, metal ragdoll. Agents yell warnings as they press back against the horde of Shadowlaw troops-- and now civilians. Reiji's frown only deepens.

It's going to be one of those days.

    With a soft huff, the exorcist leaps into the air. He lands on its nose as it's jerked forward. Down below, agents peel through the crowd, moving desperately out of the way. Some fall prone, others brace themselves against walls.

Reiji only speaks a command into his watch.

"Flight mode."

    The tank, swathed in purple fire, shudders. Enormous wings unfold from either of the vehicle's sides as the dome on its roof slides apart to reveal a pair of turbofans. Wind blasts downward, blowing agents and soldiers and civilians alike away. Rockets engage, carrying the thing forward, upward, towards the man called Dictator.

It only gets halfway before the engines die and the whole thing smashes into a wall and edges itself between a maintenance tunnel and a support column.

Reiji is gone.

    He's gone because he's leaping, rapidly, up into the rafters. Karin blazes, filling the air with incendiary air as he dives in to take a swing at the psychic juggernaut that is Vega. "You're asking the wrong people to sing Hallelujah," he quips.

"This is Japan. Most of us are only Christian when we get hitched!"

Vega (749) has posed:
     Innocent lives.

     Vega's head tilts downwards, and his grin, already too large for his face, spreads even *wider*, like his skull is threatening to pop out of his skin. It's not pleasant.

     "Innocent lives?" The question has the tone of a scholar poking at some new, fascinating idea - one that runs contrary to *all* his theories.

     He starts laughing again. The people, in mid-swing and mid-kick in *many* cases, start laughing with him once more.

     "You call these pitiful things /lives/?"

     Vega's fingers close into a meaty fist. "Empty, worthless creatures. They amble about the world, drinking in its splendors, poisoning its glories. They feast like parasites on the resources of the natural world, without thought or care given for how much they consume. Self-centered and blind to that which lies around them, they devour glory, clawing for every scrap they can pry from the hands of the great in some effort to validate their emptiness. They are chaff, glue, the meaningless and bland that lurks between those of true ambition and will because something *must* exist for those with power to work their power upon."

     "Innocent lives," Vega, and the whole room mocks with him, "They cry out for someone to save them from their drudgery. They go through life, begging of the world: what is my purpose?"

     A bunch of the mind-controlled people echo him at random intervals. "What is my purpose?" floats around through the room as a bunch of civilians get taken down by Reina with ease. They're probably going to wake up sore, but they're out cold with no major injuries, so who cares about a few bumps and bruises? They're *alive*.

     Vega lets "what is my purpose" echo through the room from the mouths of the controlled for a moment before he picks up where he left off. "And I am the answer! Their purpose is Vega! They have lived, wandering, empty, for this moment! And if I so will it they will *die* for this moment!"

     As if to emphasize, several of the mind-controlled civilians rush the Shinra soldiers. The ones fighting Reina lift guns from the fallen Shadowlaw soldiers and start backing away from her, opening fire. Some of them even go rushing the tank, but when its engine bursts and it hits the support column, they turn their attentions to Reiji.

     Tomoe has something of an opening, if she wants to help Xiaomu - although dealing with the civilians may prove difficult! Balrog is engaged in defending himself from Xiaomu as he's caught in the throw. He goes slamming into the ground, though *not* facefirst - in fact, he twisted to protect his face, in a shocking display of acrobatic skill. There's still a nasty cracking noise - but not as much of one as Xiaomu probably expected. Balrog is much, much tougher than he looks. Bent-over backwards, Balrog wraps his legs around Xiaomu's waist.

     "Senorita," Balrog manages, "You will need to do better than this."

     Balrog brings his feet up and around to smash Xiaomu down into the ground and get atop her. The claw swings upwards, going right for her face as she goes down - hoping to score something a bit more than a 'nick'. It's a technique you don't often see in Spanish fighting styles...but it also bears resemblance to riding a bull? Kind of?

Vega (749) has posed:
     Vega, fresh from his speech, takes a burning sword to the chest. It carves through his outfit, setting his cape ablaze and digging deep into his skin. Blood pools out of the wound, spilling to the ground. It's a deep, nasty cut, made all the nastier for the black burn spreading across his skin. But, curiously, Vega's face doesn't...react. He doesn't scream, or cry out. He doesn't even *twitch*. He most definitely *took* the hit, and he's most definitely *bleeding*, and...humans should *scream* at something like that. Humans should have really big physical reactions, but Vega just.../doesn't/.

     This is made all the more horrible as Vega surges forward, making a very good attempt to grab Reiji by the throat and *crush him into the wall*.

     Vega is *very* strong. That psychic power isn't just for telekinesis.

     "You have spirit," Vega informs Reiji with a horrific purr, "I enjoy breaking that."

     "Let us see how long it takes me."

     White eyes flare with purple fire as Vega removes his telekinetic might from the tank and starts applying all of it directly for Reiji's temples.

Lina Brand (889) has posed:
    Lina moves into place, kicking at the ice net that was made, breaking the spell off of it and hoisting the arrow back, reeling the net back in and putting it back in her quiver. She reappears in a another wind swept leaves and smiles at Konoe, "Hey, I'm sorry about that, didn't mean to hit you. Meant t hit the people around here to protect them. I know, I know, kinda awkward right?" she smirks. "So, are we okay? I mean, if you got frostbite I have a few cure spells I can do."

    It's about this time Lina finally pays attention to some of the stuff around her. The laughing people, the mention of human shields, something in her chest just sinks and, with a quick cure spell on Konoe, without hitting her with an arrow... she vanishes once more, backing away. "Woah, I didn't sign up for this. Thought this was just gonna be burst in, disable the guards, take the goods and run..."

    Heading towards her hole in the wall, she reappears once more, "I can't stay, this is not the way it should be, really..." and with this, off she goes, vanishing once more into nothing.

Reina Kinney has posed:
    With the civilians taken care of, Reina breathes a sigh of relief. Then she spots the other cronies of Vega, his soldiers namely, as well as that guy named 'Balrog.' Reina could go after Balrog, but is having strong opposition internally to it. Then after a moment she decides to go after the soldiers instead. It might be one versus many, but before Reina was holding back. Now she's not holding anything back, so the soldiers had best not underestimate her! "Come one, come all, come take on the one they call Reina Kinney!" She says with an evil smirk before attempting to go after the nearest soldier.

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
Xiaomu actually blinks as she feels Balrog counter-grabbing her. He's *human*, right? How the hell did he -


How doesn't matter, really; what matters is that freaking claw driving at her face. Xiaomu's arms are free now, though; Balrog may have surprised her with that maneuver, and the impact rattled her pretty well, but she can still bring both hands up to catch Balrog's descending claw, two of her fingers sliding between the claw's blades. She's also STRONGLY aware that Reiji is in a hell of a lot of trouble at this particular moment, and that doesn't do her mood any favors. So ...

"You're human behind that stupid plate of a mask, right? DAKKI NO KATA!!"

Xiaomu fights dirty. One hand is pulled away from blocking the claw's descent, and she practically plants it on Balrog's chest as she starts trying to leech life energy away from the matador - and she's not holding back on the energy drain. She honestly wants this guy either dead or incapacitated, and if achieving the latter skirts a little too close to the former ... well, too bad for him, right?

The drawback to THAT is that Dakki no Kata isn't a fast-kill move, or even a fast-anything. It's damage-over-time, and not an effect she typically sustains for very long at a go. But her other hand, while largely occupied, can still do things.

Things like shooting dark magic lasers from her fingertips. That should tear Balrog's claw arm up some more; maybe she can even pull the claw off his hand if the 'laser' from her thumb happens to cut through the right straps or something. She's not being picky.

Just pragmatic.

Tomoe has posed:
Tomoe is going to have to think like a support today and not a tank or damage dealer. She can try to hinfer the people who are being controlled for the moment she's got a few debufffs but not many, hopefully it will be enough though she starts to chant runes go flying about her as she rises, it's nose, badly accented norse and she'll attempt to debuff the civilians making movments harder for them to allow her allies better movment and Balrog might just get caught up in it too.

Konoe Kanno (847) has posed:
     Vega's entire speech sets Konoe's blood boiling. Gritting her teeth, she has plenty of choice words for him, but...those people being mind controlled, robotically repeating that like...

     'What is my purpose?'

     ...Honestly, deep down, she asked herself the same question now and then. What /is/ her purpose? Why is she here now? Alive? "...No, no, no!" Rapidly shaking her head, Konoe dispelled the thought. That buying into the man in red's agenda! She wouldn't fall for that! She needed to break out of his net first and-

     "Whuh-?" Right about when Konoe was considering flaring up with her entire body to burn the net away, it's...removed? She blinked a number of times, looking up as Lina appeared before her and apologized. "Uh...um..." She blinked a couple times at the ranger, dumbfounded enough to fail to respond to her in a meaningful way.

     And then she vanishes.

     "....That was strange." The miko stood to her feet, mumbling to herself as she stared off at the hole that the departed ranger left through. "...." Suppose that the enemy wasn't quite as unified as she figured? Shelving the thought, Konoe took a glance about from where she stood. What should she do? Reiji was busy with the man himself. Xiaomu was busy with the masked man. Reina was handling the foot soldiers, Tomoe was running support...

     Her place wasn't up front, dealing with the major threats, Konoe nodded to herself and with a sleight of hand, several ofuda appeared in her grasp. Time to do something about these mind controlled civilians. Turning her back from the major conflict, Konoe threw out several ofuda charms that darted through the air and latched onto people's foreheads. They would actively attempt to purify any corrupted essence from their body of minds...assuming the root cause of this was something related to that brand of energy to start with.

     Several more charms were thrown out occasionally as she navigated the grounds, avoiding getting tackled or attacked by sometimes narrow margins. Sheesh, stupid humans getting their minds taken!

Reiji Arisu has posed:
Vega is human.

    Reiji is at least sure of that. His ambition, his desires, his twisted worldview, it's all something that the human race is inherently, intensely capable of. Few creatures in this world are capable of such hubris, though the Dictator's utter lack of response to Karin's burning cut is almost enough to make Reiji consider whether he's one of the other ones.

And then the enormous juggernaut of a man has him by the throat.

A split second later, and Reiji's body is used to smash a crater into a major retaining wall.

    The exorcist's yell is crushed in his throat. Several wet pops and hard cracks resound through the hollow of his chest as bones break and ribs puncture flesh. Blood bubbles up his throat, leaking from between his teeth.

But the worst part is yet to come.

The worst part is when Vega starts trying to crush his skull with his mind.

    Reiji's scream fills the museum. It's a terrible, painful, blood-curdling noise. The sound of a hero pressed to the breaking point, of strength being bent over a knee until it begins to crumble to pieces.

    The shock fades. The pain, filling all the world, dissolves into numb oblivion. Sensory overload leads to sensory dissolution. Reiji's eyes fall into a glassy, half-conscious dullness as his scream dies away.

Karin clatters to the ground.

The world draws into terrible focus. Black and white and grey, with vision and image vanishing into the abyss of darkness. The last thing he can see is the Dictator's terrible, hateful, mirthful stare.

Silence falls.


But that's not the way it ends.

Silence falls.

    In the split second between consciousness and oblivion, between life and death, Reiji has chosen his trump card. A blade that is only a 'blade' in the broadest sense slides away from its sheath without even a whisper. No, not away. It slides *through* the sheath.

    Mortality made manifest, death's reach hewn into killing steel. Darkdrift- Kuroshio- is unleashed, the work of a distant, primordial God of Death, whose touch is felt lightly on this world. It moves through the air; quite literally it moves THROUGH the air.

Molecules of oxygen and nitrogen simply do not see it- do not interact with it- as it passes them by.

Space itself seems to bend to ignore it, as if the blade was something beyond its authority to restrict.

    In a span of a fraction of a moment, Reiji swings that blade. Again and again and again, faster than the eye can see, he swings a weapon which light can barely even touch. In a desperate fight for his life, against an entity of tremendous psychic power, Reiji Arisu brings to bear the power of First Death.

And for that terrible, subtle, violent, invisible flurry of motion, Vega can plainly see...

Reiji's eyes-- the will within them-- they are all crystal clear.

Vega (749) has posed:
     Konoe's quick thinking saves her from her own misery. She breaks out of the net, hurling charms at the various possessed citizens. The charms spread outwards, knocking them unconscious, and they slump to the ground like puppets with cut strings. The ones who don't get cut get hit with Tomoe's debuff, slowing down to make it easy for the Shinra soldiers to take them, alive and unharmed.

     Balrog gets a blast of that, too. The Spanish Ninja, normally *lightning*-fast, gets *heavily* slowed. Xiaomu gets her hand on him without problem, and starts drinking in his life force, and-

     And he has a TON of it!

     WAY more than an ordinary human should! He's got *massive* amounts of chi! In fact, Xiaomu can feel, he's actually in full control of his chi, and she's having a lot of trouble leeching from him because he's guiding it down into his legs - which answers that question pretty well! She's getting what she can, but she's not gonna be able to drink him dry any time soon, even by the standards of that technique.

     Xiaomu solves that problem by shooting him in the arm.

     Xiaomu pulls the claw off his hand, and Balrog shrieks and releases her, diving away. He goes vanishing into the crowd, *exactly like a ninja*, and, seeing this, the Shadowlaw soldiers start pulling out with him, leaving Vega behind to fend for himself.

     This is not a thing that Vega is worried about.

     Vega is wrapped up in himself. Vega's ego is beyond human capacity. His delight in Reiji's pain is evident in his lips, if not in his eyes, his disturbingly-soulless eyes, those terrible, blank eyes. As Reiji wriggles and twists, as Vega feels him falling into unconsciousness, Vega starts laughing.

     That laugh is a bit too early.

     Reiji carves through the air with the power of a god of death. The weapon comes uncomfortably close to Vega, but it doesn't actually *touch* him. However...however, as it cleaves through the aura around him, Vega actually *recoils*, releasing Reiji and jerking backwards as if he'd been struck, personally. He dodges out of the way *just* before the blade can be hit, but Xiaomu, Reiji, and Konoe can all feel a *powerful* psychic scream that rips through the area. Several civilians, not yet tagged or knocked out, fall over, unconscious. The Shinra troops probably get a blast of it too. Pretty much everyone in the *area*, psychic or otherwise, gets a shot, maybe even Tomoe. It's not an attack. It's a *thrashing*, a *pain*, like that strike on his aura hurt *him*, far more than the burning blade.

     Vega hovers there, with no visible, physical pain.

     But that psychic scream is *undeniable*.

     Then, as suddenly as he came, Vega vanishes. There's a burst of purple fire, and he's gone. The Shadowlaw soldiers have retreated, too.

     CASUALTIES: ........0!
     ART STOLEN: .....0!
     BONUS POINTS: +50 (DeClawed), +50 (Aura Break)
     RANK: ........S!