5729/Then The Morning Comes (4)

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Then The Morning Comes (4)
Date of Scene: 05 March 2018
Location: Lumiere
Synopsis: Prepared, the party re-enters Lumiere to confront its mysteries
Cast of Characters: 974, Leyanne Mace, Count Kord, Kushiko, Tanya Degurechaff, Wandering Dog, Rebecca Chambers, Empty Tidings, Eryl Fairfax, 513, Staren, 1137, Tomoe

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Warp Gate Terminal Station==

    Elites knowledgeable of technological applications of portal creation and modification have gathered at an artificial warp gate near a Warp Gate Terminal Station. Any necessary aid from technicians is available, and a ton of weapon emplacements, wards, and other defenses are situated in the area just in case the unexpected happens, and somehow something comes after them. Their goal is to use a Warp Gate connection to a beacon known as a Shrine of Light, a local-equivalent of a natural warp gate, in Lumiere which was transposed into the artificial reality of Emblem City to punch through its defenses, allowing a team to show up inside without dealing with the currently-contaminated 'front door'.

    There are still seven people to rescue, and anchors have been retrieved for all of them. Now all that's left is to fight their way through any opposition, or, if possible, sneak in, and extract their people. This transit method will take 'longer' due to the number of relays it has to go through, meaning it will have to be started first, so that when this group is ready to insert into the prison dimension, the other team can synch up their own efforts to arrive at the same time.

    Unfortunately, it seems adequate sealing and purification experts couldn't be gathered in time, and Enark's research into any rituals related to containing the Corruption in the past are not being especially fruitful.

    So they only have two entrances this time.

    Hopefully that is enough.

    They begin in five minutes.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Umberdark Tunnels==

    In an abandoned subway system in Lumiere, the land of the dead, a place that was dark, frightening, and dangerous when first Elite explorers found it, and that has now turned into a warm and welcoming location, with wall-affixed lighting fixtures that glow a soft pale-yellow light, moon emblems and imagery on the walls and support columns, and the ancient marble is as clean and fresh-looking as though it had been newly made.

    This place has exhibited highly unusual temporal and spatial anomalies (unusual for Lumiere, anyway), and Enark feels this is where those who focus on magical or other methods of portal creation and teleportation can create their own breach, a new entry point into Emblem City, to catch its rulers and protectors by surprise. They will need to time their incursion with the other team's, but should start the process right now.

    They need to have an entrance in four minutes.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Emblem City - Lumiere System==

    The changes to Lumiere System are complete. This is no longer Emblem City. It is something else. Something new and forboding. It is what Coeus has told the noble souls who have elected to defend their homes, the 'battle configuration' of Emblem City, designed to repel invaders and put a stop to their corruption once and for all. PRAYER seems to be off-line except in as much as it provides the altered forms and appearances they are accustomed to, but a drop of Coeus's blood on the forehead of each allows them to keep their powers, whereas all the other noble souls are in hiding in homes and secure facilities, so that they can not become victims in the cross-fire or abducted easily.

    Coeus seems certain that they will attack today. Maybe Phoebe's gift of prophecy predicted it.

    Either way, they are all here. And so are strange smooth-fleshed Selene upgrades that look nothing like any Selenes seen before. They come in a variety of colors, some are taller or shorter, or longer of torso and limbs at least, but regardless of their configuration they have the same features. A featureless fleshy creature with a range of cartoonish expressions on their faces, and a pair of horn or ear-like protrusions at the upper corners of their heads. For some, their expressions are fixed, while others may change slightly.

    But so far, most of them just seem to be smiling, their gleaming circles for eyes staring unflinchingly and unblinkingly, as they leap from roof top to roof top, patrol the streets, or stand with the gathered defenders.

    Only one of these constructs, called 'Crows', stands apart from the others.

    One whose pale flesh has darkened greatly, to a midnight blue. This one's eyes are pure-black, empty holes. Like pin points of the Abyss.

    The enemy will be here soon.

Leyanne Mace has posed:
            ==Team Emblem==

Paird is out on the streets along with the Crows. The blue-haired woman has armoured herself up a little, with curved plates that clearly used to be a part of the engine cowling of her flying machine, now repurposed for the defense of her city, her afterlife. The rivet gun she built and mounted to it at the start of the Trouble has also been dismounted and she's carrying it, heavy straps helping her support the weight.

The spot of Coeus' blood on her forehead feels strange. It's still wet, even after a reset period, and yet it didn't leave any stains on her pillow. Or the sponge she washed her face with. As she gets into position, she gives a nod to the Crows on either side of her, nervously.

"So it's today, then?" She asks, nervously. She's not even sure if the things can speak. "Well. I'm ready."

Count Kord has posed:
    Kord stands in wait at the artificial warp gate, where he will be one of the first into the accursed place. He has his Pokegem hanging from his neck on a chain, containing the Murkrow that was brought with him to save him from the very place he was held prisoner within not long ago. His helmet is removed and he already has his scythe in one of his hands, the weapon hanging loosely. His facial expression is intense, and his inhuman eyes focusing on where he needs to go next. He isn't even wearing his cape today, so his strange red and black tail sways and twitches behind him in plain view.

    He is hardly blinking as he waits for the window to act. Once it opens, he'll move with singleminded purpose, a monster whose stuff was taken and is itching to get it back.

Kushiko has posed:
One case example of 'teleportation expert' in this case is belonging to Kushiko, though with this knowledge and the application of it must be through the petite form of Nova. The Tenno operator knows not only through her own, but through manipulations and utilization of Orokin-era gates that exist in her world, and they are remarkably similar to the Warp Gate system here.

Yet that's not quite what she'll be doing: she'll be working down at the Umberdark Tunnels to make a tear through reality, though not in the way she's typically accustomed to. Which is why it's a good thing she can do this without having to really /worry/ about fighting, at least not initially. She's equipped for it--a gleaming shotgun attached to her back that as much as it looked like a work of art, it looked all the more perfect for cutting someone into pieces. One of her additional pieces she's broguht with her is a crafted 'Key' she calls it, a device normally used to enable gates to begin with, but with enough energy poured into it, can help her possibly /force/ her way into a place she doesn't have access to. Attunement, you could say. And given the transit needs, she's also providing her own, highly stable worm holes as needed for those wanting to even get here as needed, to bypass certain parts of territory.

As to her gates, they're two way, and tend to retain momentum. Speedy thing go in, speedy thing go out. Further more because of this, her usual energy output and capacity is /much/ higher than usual. An additional bit of Orokin-era tech is fueling the Warframe's energy output and capacity to greater degrees, which means the energy funnels on her back and the back of her head are glowing brightly, with the control surfaces unfolded slightly as she works. Tiny balls of condensed antimatter energy orbit around her, sometimes flitting off to fuel and stabilize something else before a new one reappears in orbit around her body.

She'll leave Warp Gate modifications to others: hers is going to be tearing reality a new hole down here.

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    Today is not a day for semi-automatic small-clip rifles.

    A thirty-round magazine is fed into a vintage Thompson sub-machine gun, the slide racked. A twelve year old blonde in a one-piece battle suit flicks the safety to 'on', then slings the weapon. Additional magazines are collected, then tucked into the bandolier worn over the suit. Four grenades are likewise gathered, hanging from a belt off the back of her hips.

    Equipped for war, Major Tanya von Degurechaff activates her flight unit, ascending until she is eye-level with her contemporary Count Kord.

    Calmly, she tugs her right glove up, exposing the crimson Command Seals glowing softly against her skin. Distractedly, she speaks out loud, "This is the part where one of us is supposed to say something motivational to inspire the troops. But frankly I'm simply pissed and have nothing on my mind but retrieving what belongs to me and killing the idiot bold enough to try stealing from me." The glove is tugged back down, tight and professional, with a snap, "I don't care if it's a 'God' or merely an imposter. Whatever lies on the other side of this gate is going to get out of our way." Dipping her head, the girl's lips split into a wide, near-feral grin, "Or meet its maker."

Wandering Dog has posed:
Among the Crows stood a hero. Balences stood not far from Paird, black dragon-styled mask on his face, which covered the dot of blood on his forehead. Dressed in a long tunic and pants, there was a black scarf around his neck, as Balences' eyes scanned the area and the houses, a thumbs up to any windows he saw. He didn't know if people were watching, but he'd like them to know he has their back, as he cracked his knuckles. He could fight. He could feel it inside him, the ability to do so. It was all about breathing properly.

"Keep your chin up, Paird. With us at the helm alongside these guys, we'll be able to hold them back. We're heroes, you know?" It's hard to tell, but Balences is probably doing a toothy grin under that mask, as he gets into a battle stance. Unlike his shows, it's much more...technical. Proper. A martial artist's form. "Let them come at us! We'll take all of them down, don't you worry! We'll protect everyone. Our friends, our loved ones." Even if, inside, Balences has doubts. And they're not about his abilities, either.

Rebecca Chambers has posed:

By now, Lumiere has become a place that Rebecca is fully used to, even though she wishes she weren't. It's just like how children get used to their schools but wish they weren't there. Then again there are no strange monsters waiting to get you in school. For Rebecca, though, it's not just another day in paradise, but part of her mission that she accepted a while back, and the fears she once felt coming here are replaced with determination and bravery and a young woman who is eager to do whatever is necessary to rescue those who have gone missing from whatever has gotten them!

She is currently loading her weapons and checking her supplies to make sure she's all ready to go. After she's done, she stands up and tightens her kevlar vest before putting her weapons in their holsters or strapping them to her back. Finally, she begins to put on her fingerless gloves, making her look like the S.T.A.R.S. member she's always been. With a sweep of her hand, she brushes her bangs back, making herself look more combat ready. Then she looks around to any others who might be gathered nearby with a stern look on her face.

"Let's be careful out there, OK?" Rebecca says. "We're in a critical spot right now and we can't afford to take any chances!" She raises an eyebrow at Tanya's speech but otherwise says little else. "Some people prefer to be blunt, I just get to the point," She whispers to herself.

Empty Tidings has posed:
Eve Ren is amongst the forces defending the city from the invaders. She has been blank-faced since she awoke, a sort of thoughtful nonexpression adopted except when addressed. Then, she smiles, speaks polite platitudes, laughs reassuringly, and moves on with her duties. She's doing wonders passing out quiet, personal reassurance for the heroic souls that have volunteered for defense against the invaders.

It seems like she's found religion overnight. But then, she's always had that depiction of Phoebe, hasn't she? She holds her right wrist in her left hand, silently gripping the false hand, presently curled in a fist against her chest. It looks like she's lost in silent prayer.

An easy mistake to make. Madness often looks like faith when the lights are down.

Eryl Fairfax has posed:
It's been a bit since Eryl was out in the field.

    he's with the warp gate team, stretching to limber up his still-fleshy parts, before taking catalogue of his inventory. The inside of his coat is loaded with ammunition for his built-in weapon systems. He looks among his compatriots, and then the environment. He's read the reports, but nothing can really prepare you for something like this.

    Tanya's cold words makes him raise an eyebrow, but he steps up. "Well, it's fortunate that I'm always willing to give such a speech. Though, now that you've pointed out that it's meant to be motivational, my job is harder." He stands before the gate, and looks to the assembled. "We all have different reasons for being here. Some might have loved ones trapped in there, others might be looking for payments. Our reasons are our own, but our goals are the same. We will penetrate this prison, rescue those trapped within, and escape with all hands. I'll not tolerate a single 'noble sacrifice' or 'staying behind to hold them off.' This is the kind of place where such things seem the only way to secure any kind of positive outcome, but that is ridiculous. We are the ones who make our endings, so let's make this a good one."

    He stands ready for the technicians to give the okay, before striding through the gate. He kind of tries to take point without saying he will, but if someone marches right ahead of him, he won't force the issue.

Finna (513) has posed:
            ===Team Warp Gate===

    Not long ago, Carna and Enark made a journey to Creation in hopes of finding something that would aid them in bringing Finna out of Emblem City! They might have hoped for an artifact of some sort. perhaps a trinket of home. But what they got was...

    A living, breathing, new addition to the team. A young woman with raven black hair, incredibly fair skin that's almost aglow with health, and earthy brown eyes, a face that's slimmer and sharper than Finna's but still bears a considerable resemblance, who is dressed in an elaborate gown of dyed leathers, beads, feathers, and furs, and carries a golden bow that glows like a torch, as if forged from pure spirit-stuff.

    She's nervously watching the others, seeming reluctant to speak much up until now. If Enark is here, she'll be sticking closest to him until the time is right!

    "We simply must break through! Is there nothing I can do to aid the effort?"

    This girl is Merry Breeze of the Laughing Winds tribe. And she is here to rescue her sister! And she'll be rushing through the moment she can!

    === Team Emblem ===

    Nico Zangt is patrolling with Balences, marching along with the man in her modified scholar robes, clutching a bow of silver, ears flicking left and twisting right for the least sign of trouble like radar dishes. She's one of the defenders of the city, but...

    "I don't like this rearrangement. It all feels off." She whisper-mutters to her companions. The new models of Selenes are creeping her out! Too uncanny valley! The new buildings are too angular, too regular. It's causing something deep within her to roil and rage. But it's just more reason to drive out the invaders so things can go back to the way they were!

Staren has posed:
                       ==Team Hack-The-Shrines-Of-Light-System==                    

    Staren arrived with a large crate of parts and has been tirelessly setting them up around the warpgate. He's in his combat robot body, armored up for a fight except for his left arm, which remains unarmored but reveals red metal 'skin' -- it may look something like a gauntlet, but it's a little too small for him to actually have a hand inside it -- it IS his hand.

    What he's assembling is a curious mish-mash -- there is a big metal boxy piece of electronics larger than a person, and connected to it is a more steampunk-looking assembly of wood, brass, glass, and wires. The assembly consists of a large circular part with vaguely antenna-like things sticking off it, large enough to walk through -- the purpose of this should be obvious, given this part is positioned right up against the gate itself -- and this in turn is hooked up to a stand with a sort of socket at about hand-height looking like something a bit larger than an arm is to be inserted in it, while around the base are a collection of canisters of mysterious fluid.

    He also has a heavy metal disc drilled into the floor, and has tied several harnesses to it.

    When people are gathered, he explains. There's a hint of nervousness in his voice. This has to work. Of course, even if it DOES work, there's an awful lot that can go wrong with an experimental reality-tunneling device.

    "So. This machine, in essence, opens a path for the warpgate outside conventional reality, and imparts a sort of... defense-piercing effect that will HOPEFULLY break through whatever defenses are blocking a conventional connection, to the warpgate, so that it sort of tunnels up out of reality and then back in." He is torn between explaining in extremely verbose and possibly worrying detail, and trying to impart the minimum possibly emount of information. "These harnesses are so we can pull ourselves back if the tunnel doesn't... connect, or something. Just in case something goes wrong. If we come out at the shrine, we can disconnect them, and the tunnel should stay stable as long as the machine is running." He casts a nervous glance at the canisters of fluid. Then back at the assembled team. "There should be plenty of time. The power draw's not actually that much, the warpgate is doing most of the work.

    When all are ready, he pulls a gauntlet with wires along the back from his bag, puts a small clear crystal in his palm, closes his fingers around it, and inserts the gauntlet into the socket. There's the whine of electronics powering up, and then he turns his hand sideways, and the gate activates. He withdraws his arm, leaving the gauntlet in the machine. "This is it! Let's go!" And through he goes.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Warp Gate Terminal Station==

    Carna stands with the others outside the artificial warp gate. She is quiet, as usual of her, and intently focused upon the device that Staren is making work. She heard what happened to Enark when he was exposed to this Corruption. What it did to Enark's mimic, and to other people who faced it. It made air solid in their throats. It made particle beams twist around like ropes. It made swords melt and sting their wielders. It made shadows giggle and taunt and space contract, and all sorts of other weird stuff.

    She does not care to experience any of that herself. So whatever the techies here are doing will spare them such a fate, and allow them to fulfill their duty: to save those trapped without any memory of themselves.

    Finna's sister is likely quite out of her element, but any necessary information and support has been provided. She is the anchor for Finna, most likely. Carna has a jar of dirt, a beret, and some dog tags in a backpack for Leyanne. Tanya's speech is a reminder that not all anchors are merely passive reminders of home, but active agents in bringing the missing back.

    Count Kord is as focused as the Lantern is, though he likely has far more emotional investment, having been a prisoner himself until recently. Their enemies will know their wrath with all certainty.

    The gate activates. It's ready. As Eryl reminds them they aren't here to die to rescue others or stay behind, but to make sure EVERYONE gets back, Carna feels a tug of memory. Isn't that like what Enark said? No more losses. 'We have to be smarter. We have to be better.' And what he said to Priscilla after her rebuke. 'Our lives are no longer just our own.'

    It feels... Foreign to her mind, even if she feels like she should understand it. This selflessness thing. But half of all that makes her up is her loyalty. And if it would be a betrayal of her allies not to come back home with them and make sure they do too... Then there's no other option is there?

    As Eryl leads the way, Carna follows.

    They pass through, hitting relay after relay, gate transfer after gate transfer. At one point, there's a sudden black film that immerses them right as they pop out of the other end of the warp gate, but they bypass it without contact. They made it through, and arrive in...!

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Tunnel Team==

    Kushiko and Enark appear to be the only ones working on making a reality hole. Their entry will be violent, and likely noticeable, but also happen much faster than the other team. They are the surprise attack group. Kushiko should have an easy time making her portals work however she needs them to in such a place with such weird and damaged reality layers. It's simply far more permeable here than other places in Lumiere.

    Enark has gone into many dangerous situations before with the others, but usually in larger groups, and there was far less on the line in regard to he himself having to fight. Now, there's a team of two and he is hypothetically half their firepower. Likely far less than half, given the arsenal that Kushiko carries in her war frames. The scholar tries to steel his nerves, casts water shields upon the both of them pre-emptively to soak any unexpected damage, and looks nervously at Kushiko. All her talk of sacrifice at the meeting... "Remember, the mission objective is to get EVERYONE back. That includes you. No sacrifices. I do not care what you were 'made for'. You are you. You are precious to us. And not coming home will be considered a mission failure. So fight with all your might to make sure not a single one of our friends and family get left behind. Alright?"

    Then... When Kushiko is done, and they receive confirmation from the others that they have just entered, Enark yells out, "GO!" He leaps through, whether he's first or second. The wormhole is disorienting, but thankfully quite stable, even with the uncertainty factors they're dealing with. And when they pop out the other end, they arrive in...!

Asterios (1137) has posed:
==EMBLEM TEAM==                              

    Large looks... Less uncertain than he normally does. Although he still seems to be plenty nervous about this whole situation. Still, something is different-- and it's not just the Crows. He feels a pulse, a connection with the city that was not there before. Large murmurs a quiet prayer under his breath, gently tilting the enormous club resting in the concrete nearby.

    "It's strange, yes," Large answers, shifting anxiously from foot to foot. "But not terrible, I suppose. The clear lines will make this easier, at least." There's a beat as he peers at the multitude of Crows and frowns. "...I hope our new friends are as strong as Lord Coeus says, regardless. I have a bad feeling about all this."

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Emblem City - Lumiere System==

    One of the Crows answers Paird in Coeus's voice, Yes. I have analyzed their tactics. Whether they intend more hit-and-run attacks or a full-fledged invasion, in either case, they will not prevail.

    Balence's speech receives naught but silence from the Crows, except for a distant clicking sound, like a number of switches being flipped one by one. Then a different one with squinted eyes says, I have every confidence that you will not give in to them, no matter what trickery or deception they attempt. Everyone is depending upon us. Everyone's hopes and dreams. Everyone's hearts are beating as one. Can you feel it? That is their strength, and now yours as well.

    Jeci's plan is a good one. Focus on what they can do best. With a combination of PRAYER and the new abilities awakened by Coeus in them (abilities that feel very familiar and natural), there's no need for one person to try to cover everything. They are a team. Another of the Crows speaks up in response to overhearing Nico, and looking upon Large, the architect who so enjoys adding embellishments and artistry to the city. We can make it better when there are no more intruders trying to destroy it all. We can build it again, from the ground up. Make it a work of art that puts old Emblem City to shame. But first we must protect ourselves. It looks towards shell-shocked-seeming Eve. We can make everything better.

    And then...

    The Crows suddenly take off in multiple directions, splitting up. Some are headed south-west, and some north-east. They are here. A breach near Phoebe's temple, and another near my workshop.

    There's a flicker in the power flowing through the city, making one of the Crows halt in its tracks and look up, as though seeing something others aren't. Then, it rejoins the others headed south-west. Trailing behind it, its shadow has gained a face of its own.

Carna (974) has posed:

    ...Some big blank space. Ambiguous. Uncertain. Escher-Space? Something like it? But this time there's no stairs and doors going off in every direction. Just a flat plane. And sign-posts stuck in the ground. The team that arrived by Warp Gate can, in the distance, make out a ribbon of blue, and a suspension bridge over it, and beyond that, a sprawling city the likes of which has rarely been seen outside of Barrowville's seemingly-infinite Urban Decay. In fact, it bears a lot of similarities in appearance.

The sky here is just as blank and indistict as everywhere else this far out. But it transitions to muted sunlight, cast around the edges of an eclipsed sun, further in. This is... Very different from what both the rescuers who were here before and the rescued among the missing saw last time.

    The tunnel team arrives in a similar location, but closer to the city boundaries. The border of 'something' they are nearest to is buildings, including a tall one, new to Kushiko since her last visit, with 'LUM-01' printed on the side in the distance. The air hums with the energy it is gathering and channeling. Occasional bolts of blue lightning crawl across its exterior. Oh, and as the water shields Enark put around Kushiko and himself collapse into puddles on the ground as soon as they arrive, there's something else that the tunnel team, and the warp gate team, discover quite quickly.

    All of their powers, their abilities, any traits of their physiology or training, that exceed a normal human's appear to be gone. Or if not gone, suppressed. Smothered somehow, by some enormously powerful force that weighs down upon them, blocks their minds from making the necessary connections - interrupts it somehow.

    And now, regardless of their forms or functions, they are basically all 'normal'.

    This may present a complication to the rescue mission.

Staren has posed:
    As soon as Staren steps out of the shrine of light, even as he starts to reach for the harness release now that they've made it, he falls to his hands and knees. "What is this...? High gravity?" He struggles to turn his head and look at the others. "But you're all fine..." Well, they may not be /fine/, but they aren't all being crushed under the weight of armor meant for powerful cyborgs, at least.

Count Kord has posed:

    Kord's shock when he hits the empty space, stepping through into a fog where even his weapon feels heavier in his hand, and he feels himself robbed of the blessings that made him what he is. He struggles and staggers for a minute, and his eyes -- now a surprisingly ordinary shade of blue -- scan his surroundings in search of the source of the odd feeling. His tail, though, seems to still be present.

    "Fine! Everyone, break whatever looks important! This could be magic of some flavor, a curse placed on this place!"

    And then he hefts his scythe up to his shoulder and begins to jog forward, grimacing at how slow and weighty he feels without his superhuman abilities.

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
== Warpgate ==
    On the other side of the portal, Tanya's flight unit emits a creak. The blue glow of its gem fades, and she promptly drops to her feet with a stagger and a surprised shout. She doesn't fall, but she does wobble precariously for a few seconds. When she recovers, she immediately leans back, glowering down at the unit strapped to her hips.

    In response, the gem sparks, but fails to light again.

    Baring her teeth in a mix between a grimace and a grin, Tanya considers her options. Magic really was the only thing that made her exceptional. Without it, she's just a child. A very vulnerable and fragile human being.

    There's a brief moment where it looks like she might be having a panic attack, shaking hands collect the strapped Thompson from her shoulder. As she flips the safety off, Major Tanya von Degurechaff uncertain expression becomes a wide-eyed grin.

    "What an honor... Giving me a handicap JUST SO YOU STAND A CHANCE..! AHH HA HA HA HA~!"

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
"We're not going to die! Not here and definitely not now!" Rebecca says with an even more firm look than before. "We came here to rescue those in need, and that's what were going to do!" As if on instinct, Rebecca grabs her Beretta and clasps it firmly, ready to move out at the drop of a hat. And apparently, someone just dropped their hat, because the order to move out has just been given. As in right now!

"Roger that!" Rebecca replies, quickly taking off towards the wormhole, not caring about what it will feel like or where they might end up. This is their effort to start the rescue mission, and there is no turning back now. In fact, even as Rebecca steps into the wormhole, whatever happens doesn't faze her at all. Whether she gets dizzy or blacks out, she doesn't care. Her adrenaline is in high gear and she's eager to use it!

"Don't worry," Rebecca says gently. "We're coming to rescue you! Just hold on!" At the same time, Rebecca hopes they aren't too late to rescue anyone. Then they finally arrive...

...And it's rather weird. Namely since other people seem to be experiencing negative effects of some kind. Rebecca feels fine, but she gets the feeling that the place is doing this to the others. "I've really got a bad feeling now." She holds her Beretta closer and more ready. "Whoever's behind this better watch out!"

Asterios (1137) has posed:
                             ==At The Bridge==                              

    Something emerges from the swirling darkness. No. Not emerges. It was always here. Here, standing where it had been trapped at the very edge of the world. A giant of shadow and blood, instinct and madness. It stands like a great, crimson scar upon the world, as if someone had punched a hole through the fabric of reality and mended the tattered fabrics into... something.

Something ten feet tall, bristling with barely-constrained power, clad in tattered timespace, skin flayed and torn to reveal burning, rippling musculature beneath.

All is silent as the intruders approach. The guardian merely stands at his vigil, its eyes twin pinpricks of red against a black backdrop.

But as they get just close enough, that changes.

The beast roars, its voice hoarse with rage and pain as a great axe erupts from the darkness and falls into its hands. It slams its massive foot into the bridge, causing the entire structure to oscillate, twist and writhe.

The beast has come.

                         THE BEAST SHACKLED BY RAGE                        
                       ROARING WRATH AT WORLD'S EDGE                        
                             THE PREDATOR KING                              

Kushiko has posed:
==Tunnel Team==

Fun fact about Kushiko's Nova Warframe--it totally wasn't the most durable of her 'frames--she relied on deft dodging, and even taking advantage of swiftly made portals to sometimes get out of dodge. Truth be told, she wielded an absolutely /absurd/ damage potential--the ability to drop down waves of slowing, vulnerability-inducing waves of antimatter energy coupled with even more energy that took and amplified damage dealt to explode violently?

Still, as an engine of destruction she was, the Warframe didn't even so much as /look/ at Enark. Yet the Scholar could /feel/ a palpable stare, a look of the oddest serenity emanating from her as her hands gestured and swept as she made energy coalesce together. She was almost there. <"I know. I won't be me until I get what I need back. What they took from me. It's not the first time..."> she starts. Her anchor was being kept safely, the lullabye of her surrogate mother, of Margulis, fresh in her mind. The water shields work well with her own antimatter 'orbit' around her. <"It's hollow in here. I need to fill that space before I can fix it inside me,"> she admits quietly. She tugs loose her Tigris Prime shotgun from her back once she focuses a spike of energy *inward*, synchornizing near perfectly with the entry.


It's the actual entry that's both a hint of weird and /messed up/ that as she was getting ready to unleash hell once she had a good bead on things here when she immediately senses what's /wrong/. Because it's an oh-so familiar sensibility. Suppression to her was very much like Corpus Nullifiers in her world, but this was far more spread. The other weighty feeling is something that she adjusts to--making sure the Infested flesh within her surrogate body didn't have any issues. You know, checking her guns, her mobility and the like and checking on Enark first of all. Normal human physiology limits were pretty close to what she was at; it may limit a few things.

Problem for those jailors: she wasn't completely limited by this. Her greatest skill was to adapt, and overcome, and reducing her physical capability meant her mental capability remained. <"Stay close and look for anything that looks fragile and important. Anything that looks like it's drawing energy off or into itself."> Instinct dictates this is probably how she and Enark might find what they need. She also attempts to do more than this; using her suit's sensors to try and pick up on jamming. If she can. If not well. Time to look for smashable objects of import. Like in the direction of the LUM-01 marked building.

Internally, for the first time in her life, the fragmented parts of her persona weave together into a united front of almost childish rage. The power being forced to dull her blade is something she resists with more anger than she's ever felt, distilled into something short and simple, her Void-granted abilities railing at the mere /concept/ of being contained.

/Fuck/ these guys.

Leyanne Mace has posed:

Paird never was one to sit around and wait. Now they're here, she's got something to do. She turns and runs towards Coeus' workshop - least she can do, after he gave her the ability to defend her home. Her armour clatters and clanks as she jogs, moving to block their route to the city itself. She shows no signs of fatigue. She positions herself squarely in front of the entrance to Coeus' workshop, a hot rivet chambered in her gun.

She lights herself a cigar and stands to wait, patiently. The sentry has her spot... and Crows as backup.

"Let them try and take my chance at reincarnation, will they?" She mutters, sourly. "I'll show them what for."

Tomoe has posed:
The Intruders were here it was time to fight the sky is black it feels foreboding this war mode is pretty much a very scary hing for her but she needs. She kn ow they have ways to defend it and they are some of the ones to fight to get their paradise of an afterlife back. There's little choice on this right?

"So we should be ready for anything then. I know everyone is why can't they let us have our ... afterlife in peace? Life was mirsable enough for many here..."

She frowns but seems ready her golden eyes are filled with some serious determination at this point.
% Jeci readies her spear and looks to Parid for a moment before she looks back to what's ahead of her.

"Lets stick together there's strength in numbers Parid."

She will wait there going to make ready to guard the way to LUM-01.

"They will have to get through us, these sorts are like the jackasses who killed me."

Eryl Fairfax has posed:
=TEAM WARPGATE=                                
    They stride into the warpgate, and bounce from relay to relay. Eryl is privately thankful that his implants help settle motion sickness, because would give him a real bad bout of it otherwise. But all journeys come to an end, and his feet soon land in a foreign city...

    Something is wrong.


    It's not just that either. His limbs weigh upon his form in a way they haven't in a long time. The inside of his mouth tastes bitter from his augmented saliva. His insides feel heavy, wrong, missing important things. It's just like how it was when he was first made into a cyborg.

    His mouth twists into a strange grin. "How nostalgic..." he muses to himself as he examines his own hands. He then takes a breath, and looks to everyone. "I expect you're all feeling something similar. Weaker, depowered. This does not change our mission, but I understand if any of you would rather back out. But I believe we can all still do this, if we work together. We were not always what we are, and we made it to today with what we had. Fall back on your old skills! Rely on dirty tactics! Keep your back against the wall, or another person's back! This day can still be ours!"

    He then goes to the signposts, reading where they point. Specifically, he would like to know what the river is called, and the name of that suspension bridge. The splash of color is eye-grabbing... and so is whatever is emerging from the distant structure.

    "I think... that should be our first point of interest," he says, before making his way to it. Slowly, quietly, using as much cover as he can. But once he gets close, the figure begins to lose its temper. "Oh hell," he cusses under his breath as the Bull begins to rampage, distorting the bridge's frame. He comes out, palms raised. "Peace friend, peace! I mean you no harm!"

Wandering Dog has posed:

"Then let them beat with the fury of a thousand storms!" Balences replies to the Crow, as he prepares. He never used PRAYER, but just awakened abilities. They are his strength. He'll find out what's going on here and protect his city, one way or another.

And then, the Crows split up as the intruders arrive...but one stops. It looks up, and then continues, and there's something strange about its shadow. Balences silently moves to follow it, moving to rush towards the BRIDGE, southwest.

Balences dashes rapidly to keep up with the Crows or even surpass them, when he sees the massive monster in the distance. His eyes widen under the mask as the performer moves to try and reach it, speaking to any others near him on the pursuit. "What the hell is that? Is that some sort of defense weapon?" And then, if he's close enough to be heard, he shouts out as loud as he can.

"Halt, evil-doers! You cannot harm our city! The Masked Dragon will stop your advance!"

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
== Warpgate Team ==
    When the Beast appears, Tanya's laugh cuts short. She scowls up at the bulky monster, swinging her Thompson down into a ready position. However, the little girl pauses. She squints at the Beast, wind tousling the sprig of hair protruding from her head. It almost seems to straighten in the same moment she has some internal revelation. A thumb triggers the safety back on and she slings the weapon.

    "You aren't going to get through to him with words, Fairfax," the Major comments as she steps past Eryl, tugging at her glove.

    She steadies herself on the wobbling bridge, thrusting her right hand up to display the red sigil on the back of her hand. The Command Seal, proof of her contract with the Berserker, Asterios. Raising her voice, she puts every tiny bit of bravado into her tone as her tiny body can muster.

    "How DARE you threaten me!" A fury the likes of which few have ever heard surfaces from the miniature Major, "BEYOND ALL ELSE, YOU BELONG TO /ME/! YOUR WILL IS /MINE/! I command you, and you WILL serve me! /I/ AM YOUR MASTER!"

Empty Tidings has posed:

"We're going to fix everything," Eve whispers. She shudders. She moves.

The Crows rush away, and Eve follows. She ends up crossing the empty city alongside them, leaping obstacles and weaving between barriers. She isn't flying, or teleporting, or doing anything of the sort; she's just fast on the ground, quick on her feet. Eve is quiet the whole way.

She gets to a building. Eve slows, hugging the side of it. She moves smoothly and quietly up to the edge, and then peeks around it. The Crows will draw most of the attention, she thinks. She's going to wait until they do that before she does anything on her own.

Eve's left hand trembles. Her right is still clenched in a tight fist.

Kushiko may recognize the glimpse of crimson hair, looking out from a deep shadow, watching her. It's just for an instant, though...

Finna (513) has posed:
    === Team Emblem - Center ===
    Nico Zangt grins sheepishly upon realizing she's been overheard, and casts a silly look at the Crow that picked up on her worries!

    They're not entirely subdued, either. Something seems odd about this. Why this tiny group appointed to defend? The very same people that the invaders seemed to focus on corrupting...? The scholar in her has come upon this quirk, and it's gnawing slowly on it.

    Just as the concrete jungle cityscape gnaws on something ELSE in her heart.

    "Yeah, yeah. My arrows are going straight for the knees. Then I'm gonna shake them all until they cough up some answers! And then Large can sit on them until they beg for mercy!" This jovially spouted description of intent is perhaps not wholly accurate, but it is her best attempt on the fly to lighten everyone's spirits a tad!

    Nico SHUDDERS as a chill goes down her spine from something not far away, but for now, she's listening to the warnings... "To the workshop! Sorry, Phoebe. Gotta keep the city working first.... unless you have a better idea? Following your lead, Balences!"

    === Team Warp Gate ===

    Through the warp gate! It's just as disorienting as the last few times she's used the otherworldly things... no, moreso. Because this time when Merry Breeze sets foot in the unfamiliar streets she stumbles and cries sharply in distress! For she has grown used to the power, the light of justice coursing through her veins.... and as her grasp of the Sun's Holy Essence dwindles, so does her golden bow. It fades into incohesive motes of light, leaving her unarmed.

    "What sorcery is this...? Have I been lead into a trap...?!" No, there's no way anyone would go this far to trap her... right?

    Nevertheless. Whether she can feel the sun's warmth in her soul or not, she is here to rescue her dear sister!

    Then, just as she's regaining her composure, the Beast appears! And Eryl... tries to speak with it? The shamaness scowls. "You cannot be serious! We don't yet know how to appease that creature--" But then, Tanya rushes in just the same. And she bites her tongue just like that. Looks like she'd better think twice about that matter. Hopefully.

    Briefly she glances around at the architecture. Kicks the pavement they walk upon. And frowns. "What a dreadful thing to do to the land... how is anyone to grow food here?"

    Leaving the matter of the Beast to Tanya for now, she scans the horizon for any trace of her sister. Or perhaps somewhere she might find a bow. Maybe there's a hunting store with one in the window, right? This is a city!

Asterios (1137) has posed:
                         == Team Emblem - Center ==                        

Large seems momentarily surprised when Coeus' voice emerges from those myriad crows. "Milord you are... I see, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Those are, after all, your flesh and blood, aren't they...?" The architect-turned-fighter chuckles and shakes his head. "It's fine. I'll do whatever I can. With the power you have granted me..."

Large's eyes pulse with power. The city itself begins to rearrange, providing him with all the footing he needs to rapidly move to rejoin the others. Large bounds inexorably towards the workshop. It's like Nico says... They have to keep the city running first.

But... Why does he feel suddenly... so uneasy??

                             ==At The Bridge==                              

The beast's roar is the kind that penetrates the very innermost hollow of the skull, seeming to resonate in that deep, primordial lizard-brain that all humans carry with them. It is terrible, primal, forged of the essential nightmare which taught the ancestors of man to fear the dark.

And then it finds itself charging a little girl.

And the roar turns to an anguished scream.

The monster falters and trips over itself, crashing into the pavement and leaving a long, bloody streak across the asphalt as it edges ever closer to its would-be prey. Except... It's writhing, gripping at its head as if it were suffering some incredibly, indescribable pain. A voice like a broken thunderstorm cries out--


Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Emblem City - Outskirts (LUM-01)==

    Enark is far more shocked than Kushiko. He wasn't particularly strong to begin with, but to be cut off from even what little magic he possses is quite the slap in the face. "This is... Unexpected." Even when he tries to plan for everything, he can't plan for everything. Though, to be fair, they came up with their plan and then acted upon it within only two days. That's not nearly enough time to work out all the kinks. Even so, this has all the earmarks of a disaster all over it.

    Should they pull back?

    Kushiko seems to be determined to keep going. So... Enark does too, running along in his blue robes as best he can, crossing the vast blank white space between here and the border. When they pass onto the city streets, and find themselves near that huge building crackling with power, he sees two people come to face them, guarding the building's entrance. The blue-haired woman was previously identified as Leyanne's incarnation here. The other, as Tomoe. He... Unfortunately doesn't have the anchor for Tomoe. Staren does. Carna has Leyanne's jar of dirt. Both of those people are SOMEWHERE ELSE, and it seems radios aren't functioning.

    But he also has Leyanne's dog tags (or those of a fallen friend, at least), and her beret in a pouch. So he starts trying to retrieve them, hoping that like the anchors did for others before, they will draw the true Leyanne out. "Miss Mace!" he calls out as he slows his approach a bit. "Miss Leyanne Mace! Please try to remember who you are! My name is Enark." He waves the dog tags around in his hand, simultaneously trying to help Leyanne come back to her senses, and to distract the two protectors while Kushiko locates the jamming beacons.

    Sensors work about the same as human senses right now, so if she can see or hear the red energy that radiates from the beacons in waves, she can track them down. And then, it's just a matter of using her weapons as weaponry.

    Hopefully nothing will show up to stop her.

    He fails to notice the eyes peering from the shadows, and is so focused on Leyanne and Tomoe (or whatever they call themselves now), that he might even miss the figures that suddenly appear in boxes of light around the jamming beacon as Kushiko arrives to destroy it. That's out of sight, around the corner.

    Or the way that a couple of them causes glowing weapons of white light to appear in their hands as they approach her menacingly, giving their simplistically-designed, cartoonish smiles.

    And with what Enark is trying to do, Large may be arriving just in time to see another ally turn on them.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Emblem City Bridge==

    A monster appears on the bridge. Carna feels vastly weaker. The chains around her arm are gone and now she just holds a sword. One she can scarcely remember how to use. The smell of the living all around her is gone. Or rather, she can not differentiate it from any other odor. She also feels... Lost and confused. Ever since she 'woke up dead' there's been whispers in her head, annoying her, prodding her, giving her suggestions. She tried to ignore them so hard that she stopped hearing them at all. But now that they're actually legitimately GONE, she can tell that 'not noticing them' is very different from them not being there.

    There is no more urging. No more suggesting. No more encouragement. And that loss of purpose makes her worry deeply about whether coming here was really her idea and desire after all. But the others start running, passing by the sign posts, which mostly amount to arrows, and a scarce few words.

    When Eryl checked them, he would have seen one that says 'City Limits' pointing away from the bridge. The other, towards it, reads 'Emblem City'. As people seem to be running towards and onto the bridge from the other side, the 'Emblem City' side, the monster between them begins to surrender to the commands of its master.

    It seems talking is the solution after all, as Eryl attempted, and Tanya succeeded at. Or maybe it's that Tanya is here to draw forth the truth identity of the besst.

    Quite fortunate, since Carna does not know if they could have taken such a foe on their own, regardless of tactics or armament. It was a nightmarish shape that instilled terror into her. But she turns to look at Merry Breeze, her discomfiture with the unfamiliar environment, how lost she is. They just turned a fight that looks utterly unwinnably stacked against them into a victory, or are on the road to it. "I have no reason to think any of us will succeed or survive this battle." she tells Finna's sister bluntly. "But they do. So I will trust in them. And you must trust in your sister."

    She can't do much right now. But she can try to make one even worse off than she is feel a bit better.

    Rebecca is not affected by the suppression, but no doubt her gun will come in handy. As people start crossing the bridge, strange shapes, with two points on their heads like horns or ears, smooth-skinned and jointless, with cartoonish faces, come leaping and running into view as well. One of them produces some kind of laser polearm in its hands, and a red-colored one produces a glowing blade in each hand. They move unnaturally quickly, especially to the now-mundane senses and reactions of the rescuers, bouncing off the bridge cables and soaring through the air.

    Blades of energy rain down from above from the red one, targeted on...

    The Monster!?

    In the midst of this, easy to go unnoticed, a large dog with shaggy black fur goes running past the warp gate team, heedless of Monsters and Crows and raining blades. He seems to have something in his mouth, and is making a beeline for Balences. With Nico Zangt also here, and her sister right on the other side, they might catch sight of each other, even if from afar.

Eryl Fairfax has posed:
    Having a little girl walk out in front of him when he is trying to negotiate is extremely unusual. But she does it with such confidence that he doesn't raise an objection. Her words are harsh, a far cry from how he likes to handle this kind of thing. But he can't deny its effectiveness, as the Monster swerves to avoid them.

    "So, you're here for him? Very well, let's get him back to normal an-" He pauses as figures begin to cross the bridge, approaching them. "Hello! We are just here to-" A laser weapon is drawn, and energy bolts are sent raining down towards the Monster. Eryl's face stiffens, and he begins running towards the prone, bloody figure.

    "Stay down! Hands behind your head!" he shouts at him, before leaping on his back and curling up. Raising his metal limbs to face the sky, the falling blades, aiming to soak them up. While he is far weaker than usual, his limbs are still sturdy, hopefully able to soak up this attack. "Return fire!" he orders on instinct to Tanya, Rebecca, and Merry.

Count Kord has posed:
-- WARP GATE TEAM / The Bridge --

    Kord had come to a skittering halt when the Beast had appeared on the bridge, a monstrous form that seemed quite familiar. The red-haired man breaks into a sprint, though, when he hears the sound of Tanya's voice nearby, and the beast before them struggles against his own fury, not able to control himself. "Asterios... tch," the man puffs out as he goes, ready to take off right past the monster... when he notices the Crows that suddenly drop upon the bridge, and they make a beeline for attacking the ally they just came here to save.

    One of his subordinates.

    He jerks his head to look at Eryl, frowning briefly, then does a loud, vicious overhead swing to try to hit the red Crow right in its center of mass with the point of his scythe as it descends. He shouts to the others, then, as he does this...!

    "Go! I'll fight them as best I can! We need to wake the others up! We can't just sit here on this bridge!"

    He will not allow his people to be threatened. But can he really fight most of these things by himself, without his enhanced body, without the help of Pokemon partners like other Trainers?

    "Go!!!" Even barked at Eryl, "This spot is not what we're here for! Don't let them stop you!"

Leyanne Mace has posed:
    ==Team Emblem... Team error.==

Paird levels the cannon at Enark. "I just want you to leave me to die in peace! Isn't it- Isn't it... that... that..." She stops, faltering. She drops the cannon, walking towards Enark. She reaches out her hand to him, stepping forward. She takes the dogtags from his hand - and with her other hand, swings a right hook vague direction of his face. Whether it connects or not, the blue-haired woman collapses to her knees, staring at the tag.

"Jessica." She whispers. There's no bright flash of light or anything, no flashy effects... just... a shift. One moment, there's a tall, but not quite abnormally tall human, the next, Leyanne is knelt there, staring at the dogtag... somehow, despite her giant size... she semes small, and vulnerable.

Tomoe has posed:
At Lum-01 Jecie pose has chaneged a bit as she sees some of the invaders arrive it's time to meet her fate, but what does she have to fear she's already dead, right? She sees there are invaders coming and she steps forwth to meet them. She looks to Enark for a moment her golden eyes narrowing at him for a moment.

"Stop with your lies, that is enough. I saw what you done to them.

She Jeci grunts, Tomoe may have been warped but some things they couldn't get rid of or maybe but she's going to charge at Enark letting out a loud warcry someone's going to ahve to deal with Jeci here as she seems hell bent to stop these monsters, but she's also possibley not ready to deal with those who are backing up Enark evne in a supressed state.


Kushiko has posed:

There was a small hope; especially with what was going on noisily at the other end of this Lumiere System/Emblem City; she remembered what she could as Soupi, though remembering it also filled her with yet more fury, something she didn't usually give way to when she was in a combat situation.

There was a very, /very/ brief consideration for actually falling back, but they had honestly come too far to give up now. Were it not for some personal experiences, she might be as distraught and put off as poor Enark was.

<"Be careful,"> Kushiko gently but curtly reminds Enark as she begins her search. It was a little disorienting at first to reaccomodate to two facets: one, that all of Kushiko's frames, including Nova here, had no physical eyes. It was the suit, the sensors, that somehow managed against all odds to retain sensory input whatsoever. Two: she was used to sometimes looking around, which was a little muddled but still just enough to catch sight of Eve.

She knew more, thanks to the kindly old woman within the stone in her possession saying as much.

<"We have more pressing issues,"> she murmurs half to herself, half to the gem in hand. Her measure of 'storage' had allowed her to quickly question and listen as she knows what needs be done--the respective 'devils' in their own ways working to accomplish this.

Especially because even though she is faceless, tranquil fury radiates from every inch of the technorganic frame. <"I'm going to erase this from existence,"> she quietly seethes, and it's something of a promise due to a cognitive realization of what happened in her escape from here. Had she the power, there would be untold devastation being unleashed. But she doesn't.

So some straight forward surgery was more in line.

Specifically, the way she levels the twin-barreled shotgun up, and fires two quick blasts from it--each blast throwing a deadly storm of pellets from each, and once she's fired the second shot, she rolls to one side, strafing in anticipation as she snaps open the breach-load shotgun to reload it on the move. Her intended targets were simple: try to blast the jamming device and one of these twisted mockeries of a Crow. The shotgun itself is brought up post-roll as she keeps it trained towards the jammer and the shadows.

<"I know you're over there! I got plenty to go around!"> It's a calculated risk to call out Eve--not her usual style either. But the petite, black and purple with silver gildings to her body needed to draw her out and get that fist-sized stone where it needed to be, but also needed to get that jammer blown up as she fired again.

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
= Warpgate Team =
    Tanya remains steadfast when the Beast charges, falters, and collapses. She only lowers her outstretched hand when it has slid to a complete stop before her. Puffing her chest out, she cuts a stoic look standing above the brought-low monstrosity, staring down at his face with those ordinary blue eyes of hers. Wind tousles her hair, ahoge swaying in gentle motions.

    "The pain will not end until this city is destroyed," Tanya comments. Her head lowers, bangs casting her eyes in shadow. Without their typical magical glow, however, the effect is lesser than usual, "Do what you do best. Asterios. Destroy this place that tortures you. Every building. Every road. Every brick. Until nothing is left of this prison."

    Her eyes lift to look past the fallen Beast, and she un-shoulders her weapon, "But probably not this bridge, just yet. We're still using it."

    Tanya actually uses Asterios'(?) body as cover. What? He's big and durable enough, and she's small and fragile. The safety is flipped back off. While Eryl goes on the defense, it's Tanya who pops up from behind the currently prone Beast and unloads a burst from her sub-machine gun, "Shut up, Kord!" She shouts over her weapon, "We move as a unit or we don't move at all! Like Fairfax said-- No moronic self-sacrifices!"

Rebecca Chambers has posed:

It's a good thing Rebecca wasn't affected by whatever it is that's affecting her comrades around her! Namely since a monster has appeared... or rather a large amount of monsters. They are definitely not friendly based on how they look, and Rebecca knows they intend to kill them. Her adrenaline shifts into high gear when she spots the laser polearm of one monster and then sees the glowing blades of the other. Now they're coming at her, bouncing off the bridge cables and into the air...

Obviously intending to strike Rebecca and the others.

Or not?

Because the monsters seem more intent on taking on Asterios instead. Nevertheless, Rebecca's not going to stand for it!

"Leave him alone!" Rebecca yells as she opens fire on the monsters, hoping to stop them as well as draw their attention to her in hopes of protecting Asterios. At the same time, Rebecca's pulled out her tactical shield and is holding that with her left hand to give herself a little extra protection.

Staren has posed:
    Oh shit, giant monster! Also some hero yelling, but the monster is more pressing. Staren struggles to release the safety harness and trigger the armor release, grunting as he gets up to his knees and the plating starts falling off, then standing up. It seems Tanya is handling the monster, who was-- "Asterios?!"

    But there's no time, Eryl's running off. Can they still do this? He reaches into his bag and pulls out a submachinegun. At least that still works... although he can't seem to smart link with it.

    He's in no hurry to close the distance to Balences though, stopping on the bridge at a distance he thinks he can shoot across, and shouts:

    "We're not here to harm the city! We're here to help YOU! And if you are too selfless for that to matter... then tell me, hero! Are you really content hiding here, when the world out there needs you? You have another life promised, but what about all the people who don't? Do you have a duty to help them, or not?!"

    It's a longshot, but... without the advantages of technology, what has he got?

Wandering Dog has posed:

Balences is prepared for a fight, their team and a monster against the intruders. What happens is something else entirely. The little girl raises her hand, uses something, and manages to turn the monster to her side! For a minute, Balences thinks that the cry of pain is them converting the monster to their side, and when the small monsters arrive, that they're going to help it. He's entirely shocked when they instead move to /attack it/. "What are you all doing? Isn't it on our side?!"

Balences, still in his mask, moves to run forward...and gets shouted at, as a dog is approaching him. "What are you talking about? Another life? I died! I left that life! I need to protect the souls of this city. If you want to help, then leave! You're terrorizing everyone! You..."

Balences sees it in the dog's mouth. He immediately feels as if something's in his throat, even though he doesn't know why, like he's going to choke from...sadness? And the dog itself...familiar. Where has he seen it before? And why does it have /that/? The performer dashes, moving to reach up to the black dog and try and get the object from it. That's his, and only his, something tells him deep inside. "Give me that!"

Asterios (1137) has posed:
                         == Team Emblem - Center ==                        

Large is, as his name suggests, quite... Large. And slow, in his own way. He needs to build momentum to get going, but once he /does,/ it's incredible to see just how little anything can really slow him down. Nevermind that the city seems to be bending and rearranging as he charges through it, as if shifting to allow him passage. Unfortunately, it still isn't enough...!

"Paird!" Large yells, gesturing toward the commando. Suddenly the streets shoot upwards, bending up into protective barriers to try and cut the intruders off from her. "Damn. Don't let them get to you! Don't--"

Suddenly, something changes. Large seizes, one hand flying to his chest. He has gone suddenly all too pale. "What..." he murmurs, looking toward the distant bridge. "What is... Happening? Something... Something terrible is coming...!"

                             ==At The Bridge==                              

The Monster's crimson eyes lock with Tanya's own. Blue and red mingle as the creature continues to twist and spasm. Lances of light bite into its flank, running clear through its torso, and yet... And yet...

The monster... rises.

Destroy. That was its mission. Destroy. That is what it was to do. Rip down the city. Tear its beating heart from its chest. Shatter. Break. Take vengeance upon the thing which sought to imprison it again.

The beast rises. A lance plunges into its chest. Its eyes flash.

And a terrible, gutteral roar bellows across the bridge, through the thoroughfares of the city. YOU the monster yells in a timbre that shakes the towers of glass and concrete. STOLE... MY. NAME!

The beast turns and charges. Its axes materialize in its hands as it goes to tear into the Crows. To tear THROUGH the Crows. To beat a path across the bridge, into the city beyond. The monster has been returned to its proper master. None shall stand in its way...!

Empty Tidings has posed:

Eve watches the invaders file into the city, perfectly still. She fades back into the dark, moving slowly and smoothly, a shadow against the backdrop of a city holding its breath. No one assails the Tenno as she hunts for the source of the jamming.

Until she's already there, that is.

A flash of scarlet accompanies Eve Ren bolting from cover. She keeps low, running across the open plaza -- and getting right behind one of the Crows. She grabs it by the back of what passes of a neck and lifts it off the ground one-handed, holding it between herself and the shotgun-wielding Kushiko. She runs right at her, using it as a body shield until she can get in close.

Then, of course, she flings it at her. What else do you do with something like that? The Crow gets tossed like a rag-doll, and Eve follows after, crossing the gap with a long jump, a raised, gilded fist, and a wordless yell.

She's going to /fix/ it. But first --!

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Emblem City - Outskirts (LUM-01)==

    Enark smiles and lets out a sigh of relief as he sees Leyanne returning to normal, regaining herself. He is saddened to make her suffer, knowing what these items mean to her. The one she lost. But it's better than never knowing who she really is again. He starts to step forward and call out, "Lady Mace..." But then Jeci steps forwards, threatening him, charging him with superhuman speed, and he stumbles backwards. But a clumsy retreat of that kind is no match for the speed, agility, strength, and martial skill that Jeci -- or rather Tomoe -- possesses. Especially not when someone who is already basically human-scale is further suppressed.

    Tomoe punches through Enark's torso easily, her fist coming out the other side bloodily. He lets out a gagging scream of pain and red surges up his throat and spills out between his teeth, and then just has to struggle there, impale on the arm of a comrade who doesn't recognize or remember him.

    Reluctanyly he tries to use the only weapons he has on hand, and attempts to jab Tomoe's altered persona in the eyes with Leyanne's friend's dog tags while swatting at her face with the beret in his other hand. It's pathetic and highly unlikely to deal any harm at all to someone this superhuman, but it's all he's got!

    Meanwhile, as Kushiko blows up one of the radio jamming beacons with her gunfire, even if not all of it was directed at them, a part of the jamming blanket goes down, in her area. Radios and comm systems crackle to life and start working again here.

    And the one of the white Crows is picked up as it approaches from the shadows, its energy sword shining bright. Eve picks it up and runs with it, using it as a shield. It looks a bit surprised, but only by the fact that its smile inverts. Its squinted-shut eyes remain unchanged.

    It is filled with holes thanks to Kushiko's gunfire, and then starts to dissolve into blocks of light and disintegrate.

    The other one stops in front of Paird -- no. Leyanne. It raises an energy cleaver above its ahead and prepares to bring it down on her as she slouches there on the ground, defeated.

    It is too late for you. Coeus's voice comes out of it. I am sorry.

    Then it brings the cleaver down forcefully...!

    Large is reshaping the city, bending space to permit to go where he pleases. But now one of his allies, Paird, has turned to the enemy and is about to be mercy-killed (or something. Dead people can't die after all!), Jeci seems to have dealt a fatal wound to th intruder responsible, whose struggles grow weaker and weaker... Eve seems to be engaging some sort of mechanical construct in battle. A construct that might, somehow, remind Large of poor little Soupi, butchered and turned into a grotesque cyborg. Is this... What waits for them? To be turned into machines that hunt down and twist their old friends? That force their gods to destroy them to spare them the nightmare of not being who they are anymore?

    It's horrifying to think about! Is that what feels so wrong for Large? Or is it... Something else? That 'something' that is coming!?

Finna (513) has posed:
    The way the Monster crashes down to the ground in agony pains something in Merry Breeze as well. Her heart's stirred by that sight... but from a practical matter, now might be the only chance they have to cross the bridge! So she makes her move and dashes.

    She might be suppressed here to the very cap of human ability, but humanity is capable of some surprising things. And the dash she breaks into is one a marathon runner would be proud of!

    "That is so... and so I shall!"

    ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BRIDGE, traveling with Balences team... is Nico Zangt. And the moment the scholar's eyes fall upon Merry Breeze she freezes in her own dash. So fiercely that her hood bounds back and slips off her head. She claps a hand to her forehead! Dumbstruck by something.

    Across the bridge... Merry Breeze sees the ears that few could, but those aren't what's significant. It's the face that she recognizes. "Sister!" The shamaness's distressed cry reaches across the bridge... and between the eerily familiar, soul-rattling voice and the fact that the GREAT BEAST from earlier is now TURNING AROUND and looks to be against them that she pauses in her charge.

    And Nico lets out a great long agonized SHRIEK that might even give the mighty minotaur reason to wince, still clasping her hands. A blinding and obfuscating aura of silvery light and purple-blue shadows swirls up from Nico Zangt, along with the moon mark on her forehead once more. "She's... I can't... I can't... I won't have it!"

    Much of the bridge - which is something of a warzone now, isn't it? - is engulfed in a harmless but DISORIENTING display of a huge and majestic fox, so oversized and wrought in fearsome moonfire imagery it might as well be a wolf or tiger.

    "Why's my head throbbing?" The bow's lowered. Her will to fight - not the best to begin with - is in pieces.

    Rather, something else is rising inside. The desire to defend. Not the city. Something much more important. That girl in the tribal robes. It was a really important decision she made long ago, wasn't it?

    To join the Blooded Hawks and deal with her people's enemies so that girl could learn her arts in peace and become someone great?

    A rush of memories flare through Nico... and Nico's quickly eroding away. The silver face paint fades, as an intricate pattern of tattoos shines through the robes she wears in the great glare of the moonlight!

    This great display causes Merry Breeze to halt in her tracks, gasping in awe. Although this is a TERRIBLE place to stop and stare... a fact that's not lost on the pained foxgirl. In a blitz of motion she transforms into a living blur and BARRELS past the shamaness, and BOTH of them are soon moving faster than the eye can see! Over to the other side of the bridge.

    Nico's hissing and seething, as though her head were splitting apart, but THIS IS A THING SHE MUST DO. Get that girl somewhere safer!

    She's just not quite sure where would be safe. And she's not totally sure why yet.

    And the shamaness is too surprised by being handled like this to do more than yelp incoherently!

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Emblem City Bridge==

    The dog runs and dodges as blades come pouring down all around it, but in the end it's just a dog. A dog named Kirk, who is no longer a Black Dog -- a Church Grimm, who guards a young priestess named Laryssa is a town that is now empty. No, Kirk is just a dog. A good dog, faithful to his master, and her last directions to him, before she ended her own life to make sure Kirk could be free of his obligation to protect her.

    Kirk is here with what he found. The smell he tracked. The sculpted wooden dragon in a bag that smelled of the hero known as Wandering Dog. And now he's here with it. And skids to a stop at at Balences feet, on his side, with a an energy blade through him, that is slowly disintegrating. Kirk can't speak in here. He can only do what a normal dog can. So all he can do is look up at Balences in pain and release the wooden dragon from his jaws.

    Meanwhile, bullets fly, and the superhuman Crows evade with ease. Predicting any attack they see. But they can't dodge in mid-air, and as one of them comes down with their laser polearm crashing against Eryl's metal gauntlets, another in the middle of leaping in to deal the finishing blow to the vulnerable cyborg is caught by surprise by Kord's scythe swinging at him. Its expression is blank, just staring with a straight, slightly-parted mouth, as its crimson-skinned head takes a fatal wound to its cranium. Apparently, whatever these mockeries of Crow the Shadow are, they have roughly equivalent anatomy to a human inside. Vital organs that can be destroyed. The red Crow falls to the ground dead and begins to dissolve into light.

    Asterios leads the way, his eruption of power sending the green Crow wielding the polearm flying away from Eryl, and then storming across the bridge towards the city, and announcing to everyone there is a terrible monster on the loose. The minotaur should quickly and easily find a pulsing jamming beacon and smash it into scrap. And the radios and communications sizzle back to life here as well.

    Carna pulls out her crossbow and begins to fire, for all the good it does her, at the green Crow construct but her range and skill are dampened greatly. She was relying on muscle memory for her combat skill after losing all her memories. Now all she has is raw physical ability to pull a trigger by virtue of having fingers and an opposable thumb. People like Rebecca, Tanya, and Staren have far more luck. While the green one dodged bullets initially, as it springs back to its feet after being launched by Asterios, the rapid-fire rounds thunk into its torso, arms, and legs, and then one of Rebecca's shots takes it in the forehead. Like the other, it slumps to the ground dead and then begins to vanish like a digital construct of some kind instead of the organism it appears to be.

    And now Nico Zangt has been reunited with her sister, and Finna has switched sides as well, in a spectacle of moonfire and fox imagery. She is returning to who she really is, as painful as it may be to admit, that the person she was so dedicated to being, the memories and personality that still seem REAL, an entire LIFE TIME as ANOTHER PERSON, just like for each and every one of the missing-turned-rescued... But knowing it's not actually theirs.

Carna (974) has posed:

    Standing at the very top of the bridge, the blue-skinned Crow just looks down with a fixed smile on its face, not interfering. Its empty black eyes just observe. And further in, one of the Crows -- the one that paused earlier, has broken off from its comrades and seems to be struggling to move normally. Like something is taking it over. Worming through its insides. And then it falls to its kness, clawing at the ground, its white coloration slowly shifting to black. Glowing yellow eyes peer out of the body of a 3D Shadow as the REAL Crow fights for control over its hijacked body. But it seems to be winning, even if its gasps and noises of pain and struggle show clear effort.

    This Crow is alone for the moment, on some street curb somewhere. But with Asterios coming through to wreck things, any others following in his wake may come closer and closer to an ally missing longer than any of the others.

Kushiko has posed:
==Emblem City - Outskirts (LUM-01)==

As an aside, mental note, the suppression here--going on enough to screw with some of her other physical abilities--/really sucks/. There's many other words, but oh she is really hating this. There's only so much her body can do!

Still, she can't help but be at least a /little/ pleased the jammer went down, if only because they might be able to coordinate more. What she'd kill for is a way to do something about this suppression field. Worse than a Nullifier field, oh yes.

However, her focus--due to not knowing Enark was getting a bloody good fisting--was solely on Eve. Empty Tidings--one of those names as the kindly old lady was probably able to mention at some point. The combat pragmatist in Kushiko could appreciate and see what was coming, even as she blasted it. It was on purpose, however, as she had to throw away the shotgun for just a few moments to brace herself for it--and briefly did the notion flash through her head of two comparisons for Eve.

Neither altogether favorable. Well, Tidings might like being compared to the Manics the Grineer employed. On the other hand, there was one way to get the stone where it needed to be. And that was being slammed into a nearby wall, crunch of flexible armored shell and carapace straining under the pressure applied by Eve's violent tackle.

Tenno, are you ready for a SACRIFICE?

Bitter recollection and pain besides, the Warframe let slip the fist-sized stone into her hand, whispers echoing from it, <"That... /hurt/ even through..."> But there wasn't time, not nearly enough as the faceless Nova stared, her disembodied voice seething, <"Princess, it's time for you to wake up and do your duty!"> That's what she'd been hearing, though she herself paraphrased a bit before attempting to shove the fist-sized yellow crystal, with all it's faint green glow into one of Eve's hands with her own, after wrestling with her.

Count Kord has posed:
    Kord flinches when Tanya shouts back at him. Then he grins over at her in what can be construed as an apologetic manner, and grunts as he tosses the dead Crow aside. The mechanical thing makes his scythe spark, and then he glances aside at the others. His tail lashes as Finna sprints forward, her own memory starting to return. A confident smirk shows on his face as he feels the tide of this starting to change to some degree. The red-haired man turns his head and squints into the distance, and thinks to himself... there's only one thing left to do. Find where the other group ended up.

    Kord begins to run to follow Asterios. He breaks through the battle using the wake of the raging monster's battle, but his attentive eyes glance to and fro.

    "That's all the ones on this side," he breathes as he continues his advance, "Where are the rest...!?"

Leyanne Mace has posed:
==No Longer Team Emblem==

Leyanne looks up at the crow, blinking as she takes in its words. They don't compute for a second, until she spots the cleaver. She rolls aside and stands, the green glow of her left eye suddenly turning red. She blinks at it. "You're... just..." Words fail the mouse as anger starts its slow takeover. She's about to say more, when she hears Enark scream. She turns her head to look at them, shaking slightly.

"Jeci." She says. It's still Paird's voice. Angry, but the voice hasn't changed. "I'm still... me. The person you remember. Just... this... is the real me. Emblem is a lie. This whole... fucking place... and everything about it... IS A FUCKING LIE! These guys are here to fucking help us. Not hurt us."

She turns back towards the crow, advancing on it. She snarls loudly, aiming to punch it square in the face with every kilojoule of force in her cybernetic limb.
Step one, kill the Crow. Step two. Subdue Jeci. Step three, Hope Enark has Jeci's anchor on him and that they can find it.

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    "I'm not about to let you kill yourself," Tanya remarks when Kord wordlessly apologizes via that expression. She lifts her smoking Thompson, ejecting a spent magazine and slotting a new one in place. As she works the slide, she adds, "Priscilla would never let me hear the end of it." Asterios charges, and the little girl smirks. Straightening, she glances down at her flight unit again.

    Producing her knife, she slices the straps holding the bulky box in place, then disconnects the cable from her armored leg piece. The flight unit's mechanism is just discarded there on the bridge while Tanya herself hurries to keep up with the taller Count Kord and rampaging Berserker, Asterios.

    Part of her wants to ask the Count for a boost so she can jump onto Asterios and ride him like a tank, but the part of her that cares about her image squashes it. No way would she ever be allowed to forget asking for help due to being too small.

    So instead, the Devil of the Rhine is on-foot infantry for today.

Tomoe has posed:
Jeci is terrified she's very scared she gets Enark she go him good. She's going to attempt to keep this invader pinned down so to speak but well? Enark has an idea in desperation he's going up against her with the dog tags to get her in the eye, by fate? Luck? Divine meddling of an outside deity? It works Jeci gets caught by this and is force to let go as she cries out in pain, staggering back.

"My eyes!"

She can hear something happening to Parid? Wit no they got her as well? No no, not like this not like this? She hears whatever her friend has become spouting insanity at her. She attempts to recover and looks panicked the Crow is all that's left. So really she's basically alone now with the invaders save for it. So it's just like when how she died, but there's one thing she didn't back down then. She won't back down now.

She's got an open moment there could be a chance to subdue her before she recovers and goes for her weapon Any of the rescue teram has a good moment to act....

Wandering Dog has posed:

Balences grabs the bag as the dog brings it forth. No, not the dog. Kirk. Taking out the wooden statue, he stares at it for several moments, twisting it around in his hands. He remembers when he made it. He remembers why he made it. Who he made it for, as a sign of devotion. Balences places it in the bag moments later, setting it next to the dog. And then, he grabs his mask, and he tears.

The man revealed underneath is not Balences. They looked the same mostly, but the man who comes out is different. Wandering Dog is scarred. Across his lip and near his eye, a grizzled man with messy sea blue hair. He rips the scarf off his neck, and the tunic off his chest. He shows his bare muscles, as he actually screams out, realizing what's been going on, as the tension and rage lets itself out. And then, for a few moments, he's silent.

"Thank you. Let's make sure you survive this for what you've done." Wandering Dog's hands move to rip out the energy sword from Kirk, moving to shield both the dog and the figurine with his body. He places his hands against the wound, and begins to channel energy. A black aura begins to surround the martial artist, as energy suffuses into the black dog, moving to heal his wounds. But there's always a price.

Corresponding to where Kirk was injured, wounds open up on Wandering Dog's body. They're just as bad, and he grits his teeth in pain, bleeding profusely through his side, almost collapsing. But you help those who help you, and Wandering Dog can handle it.

Empty Tidings has posed:

Eve slams into Kushiko's Warframe. She's strong, stronger than any normal human, but not so strong as to crush her like a particularly squishy tin can. She slams her into the side of a building, her right hand against her neck. The filigree imagery of Phoebe glints weirdly on her artificial hand.

"My /duty/?" Eve seethes. "All I want -- /all/ I want -- is my /life/ back." Her voice gets heavy with emotion. Anger, sorrow, despair, it flows to the forefront. Her eyes glisten with tears. "No more lies!" She pulls Kushiko away from the wall, one-handed, and hammers her into it again and again, punctuating each word: "No! More! Lies!"

Her left hand swings in towards the faceless helm -- and Kushiko catches it. The next thing she knows, they're straining against one another, angry strength against determined finesse. She loses her grip, and struggles to get it back... and then feels something hard pressed into her fingers.

A crystal. It's the size of her fist; her fingers don't curl around it. The surface is yellow, but a roiling ball of green light occupies the innards. A sound of crystalline cracking rings out, and the viridian light intensifies from the stone. Eve looks on in confusion and growing alarm.

The filigree relief of Phoebe, wrapped around her right hand, smiles up at her. "It is long past time you had awoken from this dream, Princess. Allow me to rouse you from your slumber."

The crystal shatters. Eve stumbles backwards. A star of poisonous green sunlight rises, shot through with inky blackness. It casts an impossible shadow, the silhouette of a woman with the limbs of a gnarled tree reaching out and grasping Eve's own shadow. Her sleeves indent where unseen hands clutch them tight. The filigree on her right hand peels off of her artificial skin and grows up her arm, enwrapping it in roots of brass. It gets to her back and runs up her spine, growing on either side, exploding outward and forming an enormous ribcage of a great metallic beast. "N... no. No! No!!"

"The Shadow of All Things will brook no further disobedience, Princess," croons the old woman's voice, a disembodied spectre of what once inhabited that accursed crystal. "You will live this foolish fantasy no longer." The brass ribs curl around her like enormous clawed fingers. Eve opens her mouth to scream.

The tiny green sun plunges down her throat. She chokes, eyes wide and wet. Darkness floods from her eyes and her mouth, filling the ever-growing cage of brass. It stills, and the roots enwrap her, sealing her in a cocoon of dead branches and fallen leaves rendered in brass and solidified darkness.

For a time, there is silence.

Asterios (1137) has posed:
                         == Team Emblem - Center ==                        

"No--" Large staggers back, in part from the... The sight of Paird becoming something-- someone /else./ In part beacuse-- because there's something coming. Something, someone... "No." Large babbles, his eyes wide with fear as he struggles to pull at the city, to erect barrier after barrier after barrier between he and... and /it./ "No no no no, I don't want to remember, I don't want to be part of that again! Stop, please--!"

                             ==At The Bridge==                              

The Monster roars, crushing a machine in its massive hand. Its yell seizes hold of the jungle of concrete, glass and steel, warping and twisting until it no longer resembles what it once was. The minotaur thunders forward, carving a path that grows more and more 'real' with every single step.

A wall erupts to bar its passage. Asterios smashes a single fist into it. And the next. And the next. The next and the next and the next. It's as if space is warping, twisting into a knot to lead him to his target.

There, on the other side of the final barrier...!

Asterios' fist catches Large in the jaw.

The big man yells as he goes flying, slamming into an opposite building. Asterios roars in reply.

There are... Two Asterioses...!?

What's going on here!?!?

Eryl Fairfax has posed:
    Eryl is thrown clear as Asterios explodes upwards and goes on a total rampage. He... doesn't know what to make of this. It seems awful to drive the target of their rescue into a rage in order to assist their rescue. The girl gets a long, inscrutable look from Eryl, before Kord's words bring him back to reality. "Right!" he replies.

    Getting back to his feet, he winces at the feel of a bruise spreading across his side. Normally his implants would numb the pain, but the nature of this place has limited that. All he can do is grit his teeth and press on, sticking with Kord and Tanya as the pursue the rampaging Minotaur.

    Said Minotaur then punches his own doppelganger, sending it into another building. Eryl has questions, but those can wait until the opposing force is dealt with.

    As such, while Tanya is above 'having Asterios give her a boost,' Eryl is not. As he bellows a victory cry, the cyborg leaps up to plant a foot on his shoulder, to boost himself even higher. His aim? To come down on large with a double-footed dropkick, to rattle his head as hard as he can in this depowered state.

Staren has posed:

    Staren's no Solid Snake, but times like this he's glad he's had practice using normal guns without smartlink. That the Crows can DODGE BULLETS is concerning, but fortunately the old 'catch them airborn' trick works.

    And then...

    Someone kills a dog. As it bleeds out, Staren runs... but as he approaches, Dog heals dog. And takes the wound upon himself. Staren's ready, stopping by the man and pulling something else from his wonderful bag. Like a bandage, but with a plumb-sized lump at one end. He loops it around Dog's body, if permitted, making sure it sticks in place. "Hope this works... If it doesn't, escape through the Shrine." He jerks his thumb back the way they came, and runs after Eryl and Tanya, expecting to fight his way through more constructs with bullets. Hopefully there aren't too many... He doesn't have many spare magazines.

    Confronted by none at all, he's not sure what to think. Where is Tomoe, he wonders? Kushiko hasn't mentioned her. Perhaps if the group meets up with Kushiko and Enark, she'll be drawn out to fight them.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Emblem City Bridge/City Interior==

    Kirk is healed successfully. He gets up when he is able, even if weakly, and nudges Wandering Dog with his nose, whining and trying to provice comfort where he can. He doesn't want the hero to die for him after all it cost to save him. Staren does what he can to help, to stop the bleeding. Hopefully it will be enough.

    The forces leaving the bridge push through. Led by Asterios, who has come in like a wrecking ball, nothing stands in their way. And... Nothing tries. Wall after wall, jamming beacon after jamming beacon, entire building after entire building. It all just comes crashing down without a sign of resistance. A weird surge of blue electricity crackles through the city. There's a PULSE like a heart beat. But on their rampage through the city, the complete lack of resistance after everything that was put in their way until now may be... Unsettling. The silence. The empty streets.

    If they'r so desperate to stop this escape, why isn't anything intervening?

    As everyone charges forth laying waste to all obstacles, they clear area after area of jamming.

    Meanwhile, Kord, may catch sight of a black version of one of the fake-Crows. But this one is... Just sitting on the curb, looking forlorn. And then raises its head when it notices him, and weakly utters, "...Kord..!" It struggles to its feet and then staggers towards him. "You.. Have to get out of here...!" The arms it uses are blunted. Stumpy appendages without manipulator digits. It's 3D, not 2D. But the voice that comes forth, knowing Kord's real name, trying to get him to safety... It's unmistakably the REAL Crow.

    It doesn't look like Crow can make it out of here on its own. And after the last time they saw their Shadow buddy, the effort put into trapping it here... Crow might not get out of here again if left behind a second time.

    But with Kord's help... The warp gate they arrived through is still back there, across the bridge. A quick run across that long bridge is all it would take to get one of them to safety and beyond the clutches of these fiends.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Emblem City - Outskirts/LUM-01==

    Leyanne engages in a furious battle with the Crow. Its superhuman skill is considerable, and the fury it fights with as the god behind it loses more and more of the Noble Souls is considerable. It is still fighting when everyone comes storming in, space warping behind Asterios to allow them to cross vast distances quickly and arrive where Kushiko and Eve Ren are (or is it Empty Tidings now?), and Jeci, and the critically injured Enark who lies on the ground bleeding everywhere, in a very not-ghostly manner. Being here... It made a ghost dog into a living dog. Did it make Enark into a living man, able to die like any other...!?

    Large may have been punched savagely by his own doppleganger, and not resisting them anymore, but almost all of the missing have been accounted for and the resistance is shockingly little. Even here. Right next to this oh-so-important-looking-building.

    Something is decidedly wrong.

Count Kord has posed:
    Kord skitters to a stop once again as he notices the Crow coming at him. His weapon is raised, but he processes that it said its name soon after. He recognizes the shadow's voice immediately, and turns to advance toward the being. He doesn't wait or ask permission... he uses his still quite peak body strength to scoop the REAL Crow up in one arm, and then he starts running back toward the bridge. He folds the scythe with a flick of his wrist and stumbles, accidentally dropping it. The weapon clatters to the ground, but the man just tries to make a break for it. He can get his weapon later. Now isn't the time for fighting. Now he has to run.

    Kord feels his heartbeat throb in his skull. It's exhausting to keep going like this.

Staren has posed:
    Where are the swarms of enemies? The constructs from before? Staren's momentarily forgotten about Asterios's ability... he soon notices the warping, but even so, given the horde of constructs they saw before, there should be some...

    Staren keeps looking, until finally he finds the group. He doesn't bother with other words or introductions. As soon as he sees Tomoe, he stops, pulls out the NerveGear, and holds it over his head. "TOMOE!" he shouts. "REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE! DON'T LET THIS FIEND TRAP YOU INSIDE ANOTHER FANTASY WORLD!"

    Then he notices Enark bleeding out, and rushes towards him to bandage him as well. "We mustn't tarry. This feels like a trap!"

Kushiko has posed:
==Emblem City - Outskirts (LUM-01)==
Ow. OW. Ow. /OW/.

Truthfully she's not used to this kind of actual pain--okay, not quite right--she's not used to it being able to register as deeply--some fleeting aspects of her technorganic frame around that Infested flesh within is typically far more durable, able to withstand better. But there's unmistakable sense of *bleeding* from between the cracks in the armor, normal regeneration she's capable of simply not working for deeply unfortunate reasons.

And speaking of cracks, when that crystal breaks, when hell, when Eve seems to be drawn into that... /thing/. It's the kind of thing that, initially when Eve relented, she could only kind of slump down for a bit to regain her composure, darkened fluid seeping from crevices in her armor as it stitched within by her suit's systems. And she wonders... *what the hell was actually in her hand* just then? Sure, she pulls herself up, and gets her Tigris shotgun off of the ground.

The horrors of what just befell the brainwashed and kidnapped Exalt aren't something she can quite... /linger/ on. Not when she knows Enark is hurt. <"Uh, hi. Eve. That's the name I knew you as, but whomever you are, I'm really sorry but I have to go check up on people,"> she offers, a hand reaching for--but thinking better of touching the warped prison. <"Please don't hate me for it, but once you're out of there--if you're hearing any of this, we're going to need to get going fast."> Probably. What with the way it felt like they were about to deal with something far nastier.

Because her first priority right now, asides getting herself out and hopefully Leyanne and Tomoe and everyone else, is to get back to where she saw Enark going towards last. Catching sight of Staren over Enark, she calls out, <"Work quickly, get him moving and back to the portal now!"> she curtly yells out. That's a relief--she'll go back and see if this... Eve person comes back to normal, and guide her to the portal she had made here.


Wandering Dog has posed:
Wandering Dog's bleeding ceases soon, a mixture of his own healing ability and the bandages around him. He's not going to die, but he's still very weak and injured, as he pulls himself to his feet. "Alright. We need to get to the others and get you out of here. Neither of us is gonna die tonight, got it, dog?" Two dogs, one man and one canine.

Wandering Dog moves to try and lead Kirk towards the others so that thety can escape. He's trying to keep himself upright, using his natural agility to get there, hoping they don't have to fight right now. If they do, he will, and he believes he can handle it. But getting both Kirk and the figurine, which he scooped up into his arms, out is the priority.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Emblem City Bridge==

    Crow tries to communicate with Kord a few times, protesting haltingly for some reason, extremely weakly, as it is jostled around in the other's arms by the running, but ultimately just winds up holding on tight and shutting up as they start to cross the damaged bridge, recently the site of a brutal battle, where Wandering Dog and Kirk have spilled blood in puddles around them, even if the dog seems healed and the man is on his way to such and weakly leaving the bridge to head across the city.

    Carna, meanwhile, has somehow found her way underground, having split off from the rest of the group for reasons known only to her. There's... Something familiar about this place. These tunnels. Aren't these the ones Enark showed her? The same subway tunnels they entered through on the 'outside'? What are they doing HERE?

    Unfortunately, as the curious Lantern explores, she finds herself not alone anymore, as another Crow construct announces itself with a shining green energy spear.

    Back at the bridge, something flickers above Kord and Real Crow, a shadow glimpsed only briefly upon the ground, before the blue-skinned Crow creature lands in front of them, having slammed a huge glowing red energy sword into the pavement and sending up a dust cloud. This fake grins widely with its pure-black mouth, its empty holes for eyes coming down as though it had eyebrows.

    It's challenging Kord to battle of some kind. But in this condition...!

    This Crow, henceforth known as Midnight Blue may seem... Familiar somehow. In a weird way. Even though Kord has never met it. Because it was modelled after the real Crow?

    It wastes no time in dashing forward with a slash aimed at Kord's throat! To dodge, Kord will have to drop real Crow and practically bend over backwards, if he can even react that quickly! Especially without his scythe on-hand! A sign was torn up out of the concrete by the rain of blades earlier. Maybe if he uses the imprpovised weapon he'll have a chance!

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Emblem City - Outskirts/LUM-01==

    There is another crackle of blue electricity across the whole city. Another PULSE like a heartbeat. This time, it resounds twice. A rumbling has begun to roll through the ground, and three pillars of light shine into the sky from different points. One from the LUM-01 tower, another from that distant mountain, and another from back closer to the bridge... Phoebe's temple. Yellow, Grey, and Red.

    The eclipsed sun somehow moved all the way across the sky and sank below the horizon while they were here, and is now beginning to emerge from the opposite blank horizon, without that black shape obstructing it any further. A symbol of hope, maybe?

    Any help Enark can get, Enark will take. He's weakened and in agony. And unlike when he was attacked that one time in Lumiere, he's bleeding profusely and seems to be losing consciousness. The reality hole is just out there, across those blank white plains...!

Tomoe has posed:
Jeci is reeling from the attack that Enark managed to send her reeling the dark skinned golden eyed woman recovers enough to see someone coming she's trying to go for the spear to pull out out of Enark.


Then she sees the Nerve Gear her eyes dilate rapidly the go wild she holds her head.

"What no... that name why that name?"

Jeci goes through some pretty wild change she gets a fair bit taller, her skin changes tone becoming lighter her eyes change to green slowly she's screaming all the while she clutching her head, and then a following change happens while she's reeling she had been in avatar state the smell ear unit appears and she rapidly transforms /again/ into the Iron Lily the Multiverse knows she gets taller, hair shorter, now purple, same as her eyes and her ears grow out.

"This... this ... manufactured FANTASY!?"

She's worn she's tired but she starts to stagger after Staren she has enough drive to get the hell out of here. She's also furious...so furious the last time she was this angry was when Heathcliff made his reveal.

Count Kord has posed:

    Kord gasps when the bridge shudders and another construct interrupts his path. He feels his heart leap and his stomach twist. And his frown appears, briefly...

    Kord only reacts to the last 'Crow' when it attacks just soon enough with the most efficient of movements. Although he's not superhuman, he is quite strong and fast for a normal human, and he reacts by dropping Crow aside and dipping backward, using his tail to brace himself in a movement that no ordinary human could easily do. He's clearly got the experience to back up his physical abilities. The tip of his nose is nearly removed, and strands of his red hair puff up into the air from the fast movement. He moves quickly, his eyes flicking to avoid getting struck, his eyes wide and panic in his features.

    He manages to jerk his tail to the side, and uses an acrobatic movement to launch himself to the side. He lunges for the signage as fast as he can manage, but growls because he doesn't move nearly as far or as fast as he needs to, and his nerves scream that this is when he usually gets blindsided, when a wild Pokemon would bear down on him and leave him reeling for the rest of the day, when he would curse the gods for the world they helped shape.

    Just a little further... got it...! He swivels about and lifts the weapon to preemptively defend, instinct driving the movements of his body.

Empty Tidings has posed:
Mercifully, the prison does not reply.

It pulses. It... /breathes/, if it can do such a thing. The structure of it creaks and groans quietly, an artifact of some wrongness that seems to leak its fel power into the place it stands. The ground crumbles around it, cracking and eroding. It burns and melts. It reacts as if exposed to terrible heat and flame, but there is neither.

Inside, Eve Ren's soul is laid bare. The otherworldly power delivered unto her is ground into her spirit, joining severed tendrils of Primordial Essence once more as she starts to come apart under the immense strain. It remembers, though, and so does she: all the suffering, all the pain, and all that had been taken from her. Her soul sighs, and her body follows suit, chest rising and falling but once. In the space of an exhalation, Eve Ren ceases to be.

Empty Tidings of Brass and Vertigris takes her Second Breath.

The cocoon ruptures. A bare hand bursts out of the surface, rending brass and scattering delicate black metal leaves. A second follows, peeling the exterior open. Bare arms heave against the metallic bonds, forcing it wide. A body follows, tilted forward until it can step free, a scarlet-haired woman rising and wreathed only in the naked glory of Malfeas' Green Sun: a nimbus of vivid green, shot through with lines of violet and spots of blackness darker than pitch.

Empty Tidings flexes her right hand. Dead skin flakes off of it instantly, rendered unto ash in an instant. Her arm is carved black stone up to the elbow, a perfect replica of her other hand mirrored and inlaid with elegant brass. She reaches back and takes hold of the cocoon, twisting the top and ripping a rib-like strut off with a casual motion. She drapes it about her shoulders, a cloak of black metal leaves falling to cover her nudity with the cloak of a conquerer.

Hail to thee, Green Sun Princess, the voice whispers in her ear. Know this: you will not be spared your torment. Choose your place of indulgence with care, if you so desire.

Her brow twitches. She scowls. Empty Tidings looks at Kushiko, and for a brief, terrible moment, the possibility of tearing her to pieces with her bare hands crosses her mind. It's written across her face. "These gods," she says, speaking with a familiar voice bearing an unfamiliar manner of command and authority, "have made a grave mistake."

Empty Tidings, seeing the flow of things, joins the exodus with quick, sure steps, a bonfire of brilliant green amidst a group of heroes and their charges in all states of disarray. She drifts towards the wounded, ending up at Enark's side. She reaches out, her fingertips dark with something like ink, and anoints him with her awful poison. It's not a physical one, though: it's a poison of the mind. One of his favorite little things becomes something that revolts him. She cares little what she twists.

More importantly, he'll totally and abruptly lose the ability to feel pain and very quickly start to regenerate. Particularly grievous wounds will get growths that mirror the anatomy of deep sea life until he's healed properly. It isn't pretty, but it's terribly effective.

"You're welcome," she says.

Empty Tidings moves on.

Carna (974) has posed:

    Whatever just happened, it seems some of the suppression has been lifted. Everyone can feel a surge of their powers returning to them.

    The timing couldn't be better for most, especially for Carna and Kord, who are still in combat. Or so one would think.

    And there's still a stark difference in power between Carna and her opponent. Carna is fighting in a subway tunnel with her own construct opponent, who is easily defending against her clumsy strikes even with a bit of power behind them again. It disarms her suddenly, forcefully, her blade going skittering across the tracks and one of her arms going flying with it.

    Kord pre-emptively defends, and the strength he just gained would come in handy as the enemy's blade slams down with force that would have knocked down an ordinary man like a tower of matchsticks. But it's the sign, not Kord, that gives way, as the weapon cleaves through it and then through him.

Count Kord has posed:
    -- The Bridge --

    A flash of light. Kord's improvised weapon falls in half, and blood sprays in an impressive arc in front of him, coating the whole front of the Midnight Blue Crow. The creature's smiling face gets soaked in the stuff. And Kord's arms rapidly lose their strength, each half of his weapon clattering to the floor. He staggers back, and plummets back off the bridge, out of sight of the others and alone, without being able to make a single peep.

    He hits the water hard. His body immediately begins to sink like a stone, his armor weighing him down, his body not really equipped for buoyancy.

    Kord's consciousness fades, as he sees a red gem pass by his view. He weakly reaches out for the pokegem that he had carried around his neck.

    Then he's gone.

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    Tanya pauses. A feeling. She glances down, flexing her fingers. Shifting, she glances back over her shoulder, down the path carved through the city by Asterios. Turning slightly, she swings her free hand-- and a holographic screen projects in front of her. This zooms in several times, a cross forming on the Crow that's engaged Kord on the bridge during his departure. The Thompson is raised, nested against her shoulder.

    "Lord, grant me your strength, that I may wipe the impure and unjust from Your world." Her eyes begin to glow a bright blue, which quickly washes out to a deific gold, "Give me the power to pass judgement in Your worthy name."

    As Count Kord falls, a flickering red cross appears on the head of the dark blue Crow. When she pulls the trigger, it's not a simple bullet, but a hyper velocity magical projectile that traces a laser-like streak through the ruined pathway of the city. A three-round burst is fired, before Tanya lowers her rifle.

    Slinging the weapon, the small Major turns her back to it, "Let's go."

Kushiko has posed:
Maaaaybe Kushiko shouldn't have lingered. It's kind of worrisome beyond words, yet at the same time one predator can tell when another predator's eyes fall on her. So in a sense, as much as a normal person should absolutely be worried, or fearful, it draws the tension to a white hot edge in the Tenno.

Game knows game, you could say.

And then, as she prepares to hustle out herself--her powers return. The dulling of her edge; her antimatter rushing back into her. If she could spare a smile, she would. She... isn't entirely certain what happened with Enark's wounds is entirely a good thing or without a cost but she can't dwell on that right now.

There are rods, you see, on Kushiko's arms. Her legs, control rods that extend from her limbs as she manifests that power of hers--manifests it in a way that, for those recently returned to full activity, might recognize as something that could be potentially /devastating/. After all, when someone generates a wave of lilac energy, infused by that extradimensional Void energy it can't be anything /but/ terrifying.

For her enemies.

She swept her hands forward, a cloudy mist following her, lines of energy drawing into her hands as she sortof /slams/ the energy into that explosive wave. And yet, even as she did this, more and more energy released--the first, the radial wave blossoming outwards? That was with intersecting lines as she doused the entire area--careful only to inflict this on the Lumiere System itself, and *NOT* affecting allies, was antimatter particles that clung to and slowed down what was caught in it's path. And weakening molecular bonds--at least, that was the potential, were one not equipped to defend against it.

Even as she did this, a number of solid balls of energy with a solid core of warped silver came out of her. Each one--six in all, she blasted with her Tigris Prime. She fueled them with yet more energy, turning the silver cores into inverted black and lilac balls of pure, teeming destruction that were foreboding enough in their appearence.

She twisted and the coils on her back started shining brighter as she simply wielded that power of hers to send those orbs into the city. Crows. Lingering foes. It didn't matter what it was, as she brought them down--and with it, released cacophonous amounts of destructive force, the explosions sending out buffeting waves of force that were felt, even if they didn't harm those they came here to help. It was still nothing short of raw, destructive power, even if in their wake they appeared like some black mire of gas and smoke before collapsing inward on themselves.

It was partly a distraction for her to create just a few more portals--in the direction of the bridge. Something others might see, might instinctively know to /go through it/ and get the hell out of here.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Emblem City Bridge==

    Real Crow screams out as best as its weakened form is able when it sees Kord fall, reaching out one of its useless stunted construct limbs. It tries to force some of its old power into it, to reshape the fleshy body, but at its core, it is still a Shadow, no matter what trickery it pulled to take over this form.

    All it can do is cause claws of darkness to shred their way out of the ends of its 'hands' and charge at Midnight Blue to try to slash it. Midnight Blue turns to look directly at Tanya. Did it notice the target? Her 'killing intent'? It looks right at her. Like it's daring her to shoot.

    Bulllets come flying out of nowhere, hyper-accelerated by magic. Midnight Blue can't dodge them. Not quite. Instead it stabs Real Crow in the shoulder with its energy sword and pulls the Shadow-possessed-golem towards it. The first round tears through the top of Midnight Blue's head, what should be an instantly-fatal shot. The next two rounds hit as well, leaving black shatter pooints in its bizarre skull, looking into a dark emptiness and sending the clone-thing skidding back along the bridge, blunted feet leaving marks upon the bridge's surface.

    Then it grins and shifts the injuries to Real Crow.

    Their shared body composition connects them. The holes in Midnight Blue shrink, though don't wholly vanish, leaving painful marks in Crow of a similar nature.

    Midnight Blue is about to release Crow and leave it to mourn, but then Crow as drags its shadow-claws across the doppleganger's chest, leaving deep gouges.

    Midnight Blue keeps smiling as the injuries appear on Crow as well, drawing forth a screech of pain. Is even revenge denied...!? This 'Midnight Blue'... Isn't like the other ones. The ones who bled and then died when vital organs were destroyed, dissolving into data.

    The 'special' Crow that Prometheus bartered for from Coeus in exchange for releasing Asterios from guard duty, so that he could then go protect the bridge.

    For all of Coeus's plans, making a construct that doesn't have the same vulnerablities as the others seems far more effective (even if it still seems to totally be vulnerable from ultra long range magical sniper bullets). And with no one immediately nearby to help, there is little that can be done to stop it from chasing them down and picking them off, aside from escape.


Tomoe has posed:
Tomoe is dazed, angry and is looking to get the heck out of dodge she spreads her real wings for the first time in some time and she's going to take Staren's advice it's time to go and she will make sure to follow the rescue team to get the heck out of this strange blighted place she wants to go she got to go she's got to get out of here.

Staren has posed:
    And they're out. Not daring to tarry, Staren lets Kushiko portal them all out. The death of Kord comes as a shock, but... there's no time to deal with it right now. They're getting everyone out.

    Once back in Lumiere, Staren hurries back to the terminal to recover his device. He was so excited to see if it WORKED, he didn't realize until a moment ago the danger of leaving the modified gate machine on. While they were on their mission, something from Lumiere or Emblem might have come OUT... and taken the Second Gauntlet. Staren is nervous until he shuts down the gate and retrieves the gauntlet, fearing the Lord of Fear or the like might do just that.

    Kord will be... mourned, somehow. It still hasn't really HIT Staren.