5833/TPT: The Cold Readers

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TPT: The Cold Readers
Date of Scene: 08 May 2018
Location: The Tapestry
Synopsis: Pending
Cast of Characters: 1094, August Kohler, 632, 673, Eithne Sullivan, Kotone Yamakawa, 385, 1108

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:

    We're back here again. It's a ways up the peak; there's a teleporter beacon now, and it means people can get to the camp that's a longish ways up, cozily situated just in front of a large cave system. Parsons is still looking like Agent Mulder is here to investigate how tall the mountain is or something, but at least he's swapped out his shoes for something a little more resilient. He's sorting out packing up the camp into a big pack, and putting out the cozy fire he's had going. Now, it's just a matter of getting into the cave itself.

    And what a cave. Just looking at the starting interior, it's full of twisty stalagtites and stalagmites that seem formed by no particular rational geological processes, and in the quiet of the wildnerness, the noises of strange movements can be heard deep within, the impact of solid on stone. It also looks like this area was previously inhabited; very, very old mining equipment from the 20s at latest can be seen. Rails jut out from long-collapsed mineshafts, or present paths further into the mountain, and hefty iron crosswork bars offer climbing options.

    This isn't the work of the Ghost of Maslow Peak, though some of her work can be found inside later. Parsons explains as people arrive or pack up from the camp. "So, we need to get up to some of the next areas of Maslow Peak. The stuff ahead outside the caves is looking windy, and I really don't trust the supernaturally hostile weather here! So if we can head through the caves, I think it'll be less of an awful kind of risk. So, see if you guys can find any ways up, and try to remember or record the way from the entrance to a higher spot. We might be able to learn some more about Maslow Peak while we're at it, too!"

    He heads on in, lighting up his brain psychically like a flashlight, moving past the first chamber and on towards the starter platforming challenges that seem to be the first barrier.

August Kohler has posed:
Last time, August got talked to, worried that everything is his fault, saw a creepy robot that said it was him, and then got shouted at when he got to camp. It wasn't the greatest day, but the redhead's here again, in hiking clothes and shoes, pistol and knife at his belt, water bottle in hand and being used to quench his first. Flamel gets a nod from the German. "Alright. If we set up a second camp later, we can move the beacon then."

With that, not moving to see who else is here, August angles the mirrored bracelet on his wrist. His right arm is wrapped still, though seems to be better enough to use, at least. With a nod to himself, he moves to enter the caves, left hand ready at his waist to quick draw a weapon if something moves to ambush him.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     Cave levels! Claustrophobic, dimly-lit environments are like a second home to Septette, especially when they're flooded with monsters. It's positively nostalgic, if one can be nostalgic for a horrific decades-long war.

     Accordingly, she shows up to the teleporter beacon well-equipped and in a positively sunny mood. Her customary purple shawl is painted with shimmering blue swirls reminiscent in color of bioluminescent deep-sea critters, and her small leather satchel has a few prism-shaped glowing crystals stuffed inside.

     "What makes you think there's another exit, Flamel? Is it that psychic intuition of yours?" She's more curious than doubtful, and shows no hesitation following him inside. August's equipment gets an approving once-over, but her gaze lingers on the bandages. More quietly: "Are you sure you're up to this sort of thing yet?"

     She doesn't really expect a "no". Maybe saying it out loud will remind him to be careful.

Rory White (673) has posed:
    Rory has once again sleeved into her Flexbot-Lioness form, however little she's demonstrated the Flexbot features recently. A sleek, realistically sized feline form of seamless, silvery metal that shows very little in the way of actual weaponry, but does have a number of saucer-shaped attachments mounted along its back. Purely for decoration, the Lioness form spouts a stylistic electric-blue circuit pattern that sends a glow down the line periodically.

    No doubt it can be switched off at a moment's notice if she wants to be a little more stealthy. But for now, it really hammers in the 'hello I am a robot' vibe.

    Upon stepping foot in the cave, Rory's optics flash, revealing that they also serve as FLASHLIGHTS. This is for other's benefit though, as her infrared and sonar are sufficient to navigate the cave.

    As soon a she's inside, one of the saucer-modules detaches and just HOVERS on its own, flying further on and occasionally peeking around corners the group has yet to cross - clearly, it's an early warning system this time!

    "Mines can be treacherous. The air may be stale in places, or mixed with toxic gases. Creatures may have moved in. Passages may also be unstable. Be extra cautious."

    Of course, with Flamel doing something utterly weird to provide his own light she pauses in her step and shines her light on him inadvetently for a brief moment...

    "... Is... is your head shining?!" Hardly the weirdest thing he's done, but for once, the weird isn't in the middle of a noisy crisis!

    Similarly, with August wandering past, he gets BEAMED by the flashlight-gaze for a moment. "Is it wise to proceed with this mission while injured? You could exacerbate it." It's clear that she's concerned, but as usual, her choice of words isn't great bedside manners.

    Either way, she resumes stalking forwards. Despite being a robot, her current form's footsteps are remarkably quiet.

    The tail snaps upwards at the last moment and points forwards, also turning into a beaming flashlight-camera.

    She probably has MORE cameras on different angles, and they just aren't as obvious... Rory, as usual, likes to be able to See Everything. From EVERY angle.

Eithne Sullivan has posed:
    There's a ghost, they told her, and possible adventures in a spooky mountainous mine! That's really all it took to get Eithne interested in tagging along on this particular jaunt. She's got a backpack of her own, though it contains more reference books than actual survival equipment - she's got the basics, but nothing terribly specialized.

    She also doesn't appear terribly well-clothed for a journey into rough territory - is that a tartan skirt? It's not even denim! The closest nods she has to rugged gear are a black leather jacket with a rose motif and a pair of sturdy brown leather boots. There /is/ a giant sword strapped to her back, but it's not the usual iron one she's known for... it looks fairly technical, and has what looks like a shotgun barrel on either side of the (very sharp) blade.

    Plus, unlike August, she's in high spirits. "Right then, lead the way!" She might be talking to anyone, or nobody in particular. "I don't think I can be suffocated by toxic gas so if need be I'll try tankin' it. Mostly I'm just here fer the ghosty bits."

    To those with the proper senses, Eithne doesn't so much /bleed/ divine energy as sort of... hoard it. But she means well!

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
So here we are once more at Maslow Peak and Kotone is getting more and more concerned about this place. It's strange it's broken and it's just getting more and more trippy, every time she ends up here. She checked he personal HUD and took a deep breath.

"So here we go again."

It also seems to be platforming, that is something she can handle given her mobility system and away she goes moving to double jump as needed.

I just have to wonder what happened here...to cause all this."

<<Rory hooking up to tac net>>

She'll also take note of August's arm and she seems to be pretty concerned about the injury she'll have to keep an eye on Kohler physical status during this., She also takes note of someone she's not seen in a very long time. Enya has come along.

"Good to have you along Enys!"

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
Once again, Yuna is already in her Light Suit when she arrives at Maslow Peak - and as before, she's in Flight Form, the better to deal with pitfalls and other traps ... although possibly not *every* obstacle that they're liable to run into. And also as before, the rest of the Matrix of Light is with her too - the little robo-faerie Elner, flitting along near Yuna and maintaining as full a sensor scan of the surroundings as possible, and Jiina and Marina, who are sticking with the group this time - specifically, Jiina is staying close to Yuna, while Marina is on approximate rear guard for the group. And again, Elner's offering a localized wireless datalink for those who can take advantage of it.

As for light sources? Well, Yuna's own armor provides some such, the Light Suit living up to its name as the gloom intensifies further into the cave's depths. That's not really much good except to spot where she is, though, so the Matrix Divider is in Yuna's hands, providing a more focuse light source - as well as, should it prove necessary, a readied weapon.

She's very much hoping there won't be anything to shoot at this time - but she was hoping that *before* and wound up glad to have a weapon. And she remembers it.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     Septette gives a cheerful wave to all her fellow spelunkers- and seems positively delighted to meet Enya, giving her a grin and taking an inquisitive gander at the funny gun-sword on her back. Sullivan doesn't seem very well-equipped, but to each their own, right? Surely she knows what she's doing.

     Although... as Enya gets a little closer, Septette's demeanor shifts subtly. She's no less perky, but there's a note of... wariness, maybe?

A2 (1108) has posed:
    Teleporter beacons? A2 hadn't left. It is unfortunate insight into how she seems to spend her time between bouts of murder, moments of backhanded helpfulness, and the occasional fit of rage: doing next to nothing at all.

    She can't get cold in the mountain weather, the storms aren't much to worry someone who weighs so much, short of an actual lightning stroke, and she made the wildlife Learn Today last time (and possibly the day after). The ghost seems to hold no particular ill will for her specifically, and so the Android has spent something like the better part of two weeks on this mountain, up and down and off the previous trail, spending nights in the rain, days in the sun, hours mapping out territory that nobody plans to go, and even longer watching animals and plants as if it'd eventually get her some kind of deep insight into Maslow Peak as a whole, with only the occasional venture at salvaging the mechanical traps for any useful metal bits, and without once talking to another soul.

    Apparently, she doesn't have a word to say to August either, despite being ostensibly angry and disappointed with him last time. Her mapping of the cave is silent, owing to panoramic sensors mapping the walls and platforms out in simplistic and low-resolution but precise detail. She follows up behind the rest of the group eventually, not even bothering to meet them at the camp, and assesses the struts, tunnels, bars, rails, and assorted mess of things to scramble upwards, mapping out routes with her eyes. She takes a slow look to the rest of the ground, dead staring from member to member, possibly to predict who's going to be using what piece of scenery.

    Seemingly deciding on something, she walks up behind Septette, gets her arms around what passes for her waist, takes in a deep breath, and starts hefting the absurdly heavy yggdroid as someone would do with a particularly large and unwieldy hiking pack. Unless she has any especially vehement objections, what transpires next is that A2 takes a step forward with the yggdroid, plants a heel, turns twice in classic shotput style, and then where her arms and shoulders crackle briefly with 'pixels' of red energy, she essentially hurls Septette to the end of the platforming section by brute force, with a general level of force that only Septette could walk off in the first place.

    Otherwise this heavy bitch gonna break all the platforms.

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    "Mostly I think there's gonna be an exit more at the top because I can't imagine most of the proper Psychonaut workers heading up the other ways. There's gotta be, you know, secret government blacksite tunnels. There's not any hidden crypts or ancient alien facilities or anything that we had on record here, so there's really only the one option." Parsons explains, as he... Limbers up. Huh. Probably not a bad idea, honestly, to limber up. For those who have limber to be limbering.

    The interior looks to be "ventilated" enough to have minimal to no toxic atmospheric risk all throughout. What really winds up being the issue is the work of the Ghost of Maslow Peak; she's scrawled huge, disturbingly wide letters all throughout the first section of cavern. Or, well, someone did, but nobody else has been doing anything around here that could be like this! The big letters declare "MAKE HIM GO BACK", "HE'S NOT A MOUNTAIN CLIMBER", and most of all, "HE HAS TO FACE HIS PROBLEMS EVENTUALLY", repeated in various places and various degrees of obsession.

    The first areas are unnerving to pass, and not just because of Septette whistling by the group. It's because, as they progress through, they can hear... Something awful. A sound of scraping, shuddering, and constant footsteps. Clunk, clunk, clunk, a perfect human gait that just never stops. Then another, and a third. It never pauses. It just keeps going, never getting faster or slower. Occasionally there are scrapes, noises of impact.

    Septette will be the first to the end if she takes A2's boost, since they're /technically/ working together to get past the mess of platforms and cave jutting parts and weird hunks of stone that need to be shimmied around. And she'll recognize it near-instantly. There's one of those things she found at the bottom of the river, and it's wandering like a roomba might, not having "seen" her yet the way the buried one did. It looks less damaged, but only technically; still skeletal, the entity gleams with a much brighter purple hue, and the color is visible in flickers to even the people still climbing up.

    The weird skeleton-golem and its strange electronic-looking pieces is likely joined by several others. Who knows how many are further in, but the one Septette gets to see is already wandering placidly back inwards.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     There aren't any objections to A2's surprise-grabbing her, exactly- nor any attempt to escape or openly aggress. There's just a constant fluid writhe of subtle manuevering ensuring that at every millisecond of the grapple, one of Septette's folded blades could extend and skewer A2 somewhere vital-looking if it became necessary.

     That calculated squirming stands in sharp contrast to what comes out of Septette's mouth, though. "H-HEY! I don't, ah, I'm not sure this is a great- aaaAAAAA!!" A startled yelp fades into a dopplering scream that fades into the distance along with a trail of spilled glowcrystals, followed by two resounding crashes- one when she hits the far wall of the cavern, and then another when she hits the ground. Both impacts are, mercifully, on her feet.

     She only has a moment for dusting herself off and preening like a cat that Definitely Meant To Do That before coming face-to-face with the weird purple skelebots. The broken one they found had adopted August's psychic signature. August hates himself, doesn't he? They can't get a read on her, but if they can get one on him or someone even more volatile...

     She tries to apply ice magic to safely en-popsicle or wall off as many of the robots as she can, assuming they still don't recognize her as a living thing! If they turn out to be harmless, they can always be released later, but...

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    As soon as one is popsicled, it begins trying to examine the ice, just like Septette saw the broken one trying to examine her. It looks, and looks, and looks, until finally it seems to... Find something. Septette herself may not have a psychic signature, sure, but what she leaves behind in the ice -- tiny traces of patterns that emerge from the miniscule but loudly broadcasting breach in her reactor -- are something it seems to be able to clairvoyantly read. Its head begins making a noise not unlike a teapot beginning to whistle, and the shimmering purple glow in its sockets turns to red; the ice is beginning to melt rapidly as the skeletons display pyrokinetic ability, and the skeleton is beginning to "search"; how long Septette's psychic black-box nature will remain under their radar is questionable.

    Her technique seems to be an effective stun, but it's far from a long-term incapacitation. She can guarantee that some of these are kept in a stunned state, but who knows how many they'll have to deal with. As she advances in, getting a few of them stunned in a way that looks like it'll last a minute or two, Septette will find she's entered another section of sprawling caverns with a much more wrinkled, twisty surface all throughout, where small chunks of incredibly brightly shining purple rock light up the area, seeming like the same material as those skeletal figures.

August Kohler has posed:
August glances at A2 briefly as she stares amongst the group, but he doesn't have anything to say to her. He just replies to those worried about his arm. "I'm fine. Just burns." That's all they get, as he proceeds into the interior, clearly not caring about it getting worse. The literal writing on the wall makes him frown sharply, especially 'he has to face his problems eventually'. If this is aimed at him, August really wishes it'd shut the hell up.

Despite the clanking and the scraping, August moves to proceed, though he just /stares/ at Septette goes flying past, and winces a little. She'll probably be fine, as he's seen her deal with worse easily enough, but it's still not fun to watch. August draws his pistol with his scarred right hand, before quickly moving to leap a platform, wobbling a bit. His aim's not going to be the greatest right now, but if he sees the source of whatever that is, he's shooting it. His left hand moves to reach to help to support people who need it crossing the platforms and jutting cave parts, and overall used for climbing. "The hell's with the noise? Has to be the ghost." August really, really wants to punch her in the face, as he shimmies past another jutting cliff.

At the end, if any of the skeletons get close, August moves to shoot them in the face if they show any hostile activity, over and over, especially as he sees their flamethrowers. He's going to move to group up with Septette if he can, but skeleton hell might be an issue!

Rory White (673) has posed:
    "If there IS NOT an exit, we could try to make one. It would take some time, but I could transport some Dwarfs here and set them to tunneling upwards." Rory offers the alternate solution in a hurry, because the prospect of climbing that mountain on the outside is... not very appealing.

    The other thing that isn't appealing? All of the messages scrawled over the walls. "...The individual responsible for this is... in a very poor state of mental health. By now I have enough evidence for my Muse to diagnose a serious mental disorder at work."

    REVELATION OF THE DAY, right? No duh...

    Rory does pause several times at the strange noises. She's trying to use her mapping software to pinpoint them, but echoes make this very difficult.

    And then Septette runs straight into the problem!

    Rory instantly picks up the pace, breaking out into a sprint using her calculated pathing to manage the trip at great speed and precision! She won't immediately engage though, only get a vantage point to observe the trouble ahead and calculate an approach.

    Of course, by this point, she's also sending networking requests to A2, having long since linked up with Kotone to share mapping data and telemetry!

    "This place never ceases to surprise us!"

Eithne Sullivan has posed:
    If she notices Septette's subtle reaction, Eithne doesn't show it. Mostly because she isn't very good at reading emotions, and also because she's still in Excited To Be Here, Look It's Septette And Kotone And Other Radio Pals! mode and thus not really paying as much attention to important details as she really ought to.

    On the other hand, she does notice when Septette goes flyyyyyyyying across the cavern. "Ooooer, nice landing!" she cheers, waving a hand in the air. What, no congratulations to A2 for such a superb throwing arm?!

    The Scion takes August's hand long enough to get up onto the ledge and ... proceeds to jump OVER him, scurrying along the treacherous route toward the action. "Hey, save one fer me!"

A2 (1108) has posed:
    With Septette away, in the sense that one says 'Bombs away!' or 'Fox one; fox two; away.' A2 claps her hands off and rolls her shoulders in an oddly human fashion, inwardly a little surprised at the lack of damage reports. It'd been years since she'd had proper YoRHa replacement parts, and being able to do that kind of thing without breaking something is still a bit of a novel sensation.

    After that, she slowly releases her held 'breath', lowers herself near to the cave floor, then shoots off at what at first appears to be a dead sprint, but where her feet stop coming down after a few footsteps, and the air ripples around her like the pressure wake of a supersonic object. That same harsh, digital red light washes off her frame, and then she shoots through the air more like a missile than someone super jumping, adjusting course with short, sharp movements to dodge stalactites and i-beams, and takes her gravity-defying ballistic arc straight into the head of the escaping skeleton; specifically, a powerful last second knee thrust into its head, whereupon the pressure wave built up around her explodes into it.

    Zero mercy for automatons. Mysterious as they might be, they're basically Machines, and anything that is basically a Machine is basically better off dead. It doesn't even matter whether or not they aggress the group, A2 goes after them anyways, even if it splits her off, throwing deadly jabs, round kicks, sweeps, piledrivers, and head stomps until the visible cluster is a visible cluster of pieces.

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
That 'walking' noise would be disturbing enough to Yuna all by itself. Add the large-scale graffiti, the somewhat tentative-looking footing, and Flamel's running commentary and occasional answers, and ...

Well, it's mainly the fact that the footing *does* look so tentative that keeps Yuna from resorting to the comfortingly heavy armor and firepower of Powered Form. Even with hover-thrusters, she doesn't want to take her chances entrusting her weight to these 'platforms' any more than she has to, especially with the added bulk of her heavy battle armor; she's wary enough about touching down in the comparatively light-weight Flight Form.

On the plus side, if it *does* come down to an outright battle, the group isn't short on heavy hitters. Septette and A2 are particularly welcome sights in that regard, and she knows Eithne and Kotone well enough to trust them to help guard her back if necessary. August too, for that matter.

Rather than venturing down to help inconvenience the psi-undead, Yuna continues following the most obvious path ahead, a few stray arcs of excess power trailing along the Matrix Divider's barrel/blade/general business end. It adds a little more light to her surroundings ... even if not the most steady of light sources for that errant pulse of power.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     Seeing the robot 'scan' the iceblock sets off a little twinge of something primal in Septette's mind. Previously she'd been wholly indifferent to their existence, if mildly worried. But this is... it's learning things. It's learning things that maybe she doesn't want to give away.

                                It might get in.                                

     By the time the rest of the group arrives, the initial one she's frozen is... well, more accurately, it isn't. There's just a pancake of purple shards and melting ice, with spiderwebbing cracks running through the nearby rock.

     She's considerably more sluggish and methodical in her butchery of the psitanium robots, but she matches A2 for enthusiasm when the other android arrives. She's just directing her focus into being thorough with their remains, like someone vigorously destroying a hard drive.

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    They're showing activity that isn't "hostile", per se, but August likely remembers what happened last time, and their attempts to reach out from the melting ice encasements and grab him with much more force than the broken one was able to. It's likely painful if he lets any of them get ahold of his arms as he moves through, and they have far more strength with which to immediately try to grab his head and "examine" it again, without regard for what might happen in the meantime, like whiplash or a snapped neck. Thankfully, shooting them in the face works, albeit it takes a couple shots to properly put them down, if he can yank away from their maddeningly strong grip.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa is platforming away as she makes her way through this strange place.

"So your government sure likes to do things ... with flare Flamel."

She notes as he talks on design styles she's still making her way through things and notice that Septette is out pacing her but ha also seemingly found something from the looks of it. She hear something even lose there is something about it hat gives her chills as she moves forward, she takes a moment to turn on her personal cloak, maybe it will help. Though the possibilities are not as big as they might normally be given how common mind powers are here.

"No it doesn't and I really don't like the sound of it."

Whelp and there is Septette running into the source of all of this.

"I really just keeps going deeper, Rory."

She will now fall back a bit to be in a better spot to give Yuna some cover should she need it.

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
Rory heads up to a point of observation, but it seems like any good spot she can see from, even in the dark, is one where the others can see her. "See" in a sense, as they don't seem to angle their eyes up. The clicky scraping skeletal golem-like things clamber around her perch, but unnervingly, one actually winds up coming from above, having somehow, adeptly, deftly clambered up the walls, crawling like some kind of gecko. It tries to fall on her and pin her to her perch with a surprising degree of weight, and grab onto whatever body part the primary storage or receiver can be found, with intense and unexpected strength, and stare at it, trying to "see" something with eyes that shine bright violet.

Eithne Sullivan has posed:
    Her ranged attack isn't great, and definitely overpowered for the delicacy of the jumping-and-climbing section. Eithne makes up for this by leaping from the last platform, landing with a solid /thud/ of boots on the stone floor of the cavern, and wading into the psibots that everybody else hasn't already terminated.

    That great big sword comes out to play, held one-handed like a child's toy. There's no art to how she destroys them, but she's devastatingly effective at tearing things apart. "Oh, do yeh have to destroy the brains or somethin' before they die fer good?" she asks, noticing just /how/ thoroughly Septette is dismantling hers.

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    Parsons surges ahead with Eithne, eager to see what's afoot as well! By the time she's there, combat is starting to get well underway. The weird skeletal creatures show no signs of being demonic, though, with odd wires and tubing emerging from them. What IS all that? As she passes by the stunned ones that people seem to have well in hand, she reaches into the main chambers of the next segment of the mountain's caves. With her sword out, she can deal with most, but they seem less interested in dodging and more interested in grabbing, from all angles, trying to limit motion just enough to get a good look at her head; they make full use of an inhuman range of motion to shift clumsily around the attacks, just trying to plant their skull to hers for even a fraction of a moment...

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     "You don't have to, no," Septette replies in a fairly chipper tone as she grinds one flat under her heel. She does the same to one of the bots that Enya killed, though oddly, she doesn't seem to be so thorough with all of them. Only a seemingly-random selection get the Secure Documents Disposal treatment.

August Kohler has posed:
As the skeletons lunge at August, he's not prepared for the strength compared to the broken ones. He's yanked back, slightly bruised as one grab his head, and fires into them to get them off him. "FUCK OFF!" He shouts, clearly pretty angry at being harassed by spooky skeletons, and moves as he fires, trying to avoid their arm range. After a few moments, August does get a realization, and brings his mirrored bracelet to his wrist. "Persona!"

The Tin Soldier manifests, and lets off a burst of fire at the skeletons. If they think they're August Kohler, they can burn as well as him, can't they?

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    A2 goes right for the fights and the killing, and the psionic constructs react about as one might expect. But this time, going for hand to hand is a little less of a good idea than it initially seemed. It puts her very close to the things; at one point, piledriving one of the strange creatures causes its entire spine to rotate around in an uncanny way so that the torso is in reversed position, negating the often-useful strike and turning it into a risk for A2 as the thing tries to immediately latch onto her face and get just one precious second of the parts containing her central storage...

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    Yuna surges ahead, but unfortunately it looks like these skeletal creatures number more in the dozens than expected, and while she can get ahead, it'll mean suddenly more and more can see her, focus on her, and make surging ahead risky; she can keep pressing ahead if she wants, but her stated goal of heading back to help out is likely a quite responsible thing to do, as more and more arms reach out to try to grab her arms with force that could dislocate a normal hiker's.

Rory White (673) has posed:
    The DROPGOLEM catches Rory by surprise! Well... almost by surprise. She has enough of a warning to BEGIN to move by leaping sideways... but just isn't fast enough. WHAM! The flexbot goes down, squishing in an UNNATURAL way that sends out a plethora of sparks every which way. The Cyberbrain it's looking for, however, is a metamaterial-reinforced globe stuck in the very center of mass. Unless optics will do, Because Rory's primary optics are placed just like an actual lion's would be!

    Either way...


    Unfortunately the Flexbot is NOT strong enough to wiggle out of this pin. Fortunately, it has OTHER methods.

    One of those is...

    A ZAP runs through the Flexbot's exterior, just a warning sizzle of electricity. Enough that would get anything smart to hurriedly get the heck away!

    And if that fails, she turns up the amperage, pouring juice straight from her Morph's power core!

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    As Septette kills off particular ones at "random" (these, of course, being those that have some clairvoyant examination of her byproducts), she finds that their fragmenting seems to reduce their power. Like a gem becoming less and less valuable the more it's cut, Septette can reduce the apparent "integrity of storage" they have by reducing the total contiguous volume, thus reducing certain other risks. Though focusing on this with other ongoing dangers for allies may become a bit of a balancing act, considering the time necessary. But if one assumes the glow corresponds to the storage -- that glow that seems to increase as they "see" more and more -- then she can easily calculate the fastest glow-reducing strikes to maximize the reduction of risk!

Eithne Sullivan has posed:
    "Good to know!" This means she can spread the violence our as she pleases and not have to worry too hard about hitting some glowing weak spot. They're at least fifty percent glowing, it'd take forever to find some specific glowing part!

    The first few that attack her get batted aside or cut into pieces with her blade, but eventually one catches hold of her, gripping Eithne's shoulders and neck and left arm, undulating and writhing itself in a shudderingly inorganic attempt to stare her down.

    The only thing it gets a glimpse of is squawking beaks and jet black eyes, and then Eithne drops the sword to very firmly tear her passenger apart with her bare hands. "Don't get fresh," she rebukes it, calmly digging her thumb into the space between its 'skull' and an optic sensor. Blood wells up from a scratch next to her thumbnail, smearing red across the thing's face as she tears its 'eye' out. "Huh! Do we need to bring any of this back fer research?" she calls back to Flavel.

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    Kotone's keeping at the back line. Good for her, too, since those awful grabby things are probably particularly dangerous to her as a somewhat less combat-oriented sort, and she can, from there, probably help Yuna get from point A to any other point B in this rolling mess of awful adventure shenanigans as the group makes a certain kind of progress.

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
Of *course* this wasn't going to be an easy foray, Yuna groans internally as various people start getting into fights. August is the most verbal about it, and as such, it's to August's aid that Yuna initially goes - firing off a few crackling bolts to help drive the grabby skeletons off of Die Reisende's more-or-less leader, and scattering barrages from her armor's pulse blasters to help keep other skeletons from closing in. Jiina flits over, ready to assist in removing skeletons from August's exterior - but the android isn't diving into the fray just yet, prefering to stay ready for when she can best assist, however that may be.

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    One gets a quick glance at August's head, right before the fire comes, and that seems to be all it needs. The blast pushes it back, but there's a fast dodge on the next shot; the Tin Soldier blasting fire does seem to get them, but as it begins suffering the pain of melting, it emits a harsh metallic groan and speaks with August's voice: "I hate... I hate this. I hate all of this. I hate being this." Suddenly, both skeletal hands are planted on its head and it flares its own heat back in response, manifesting a sudden burst of pyrokinesis. Not August's own, it's not copying his power, nor even necessarily his weakness to fire, it's copying... Thoughts? Memories? Identity? Self?

    "I hate this. I hate it. Why can't I be like them?! Where their gut heroism impulses turn into saving the day?! Where making the hard decisions gets them respect?!" The whole skeleton is on fire now, even independent of the Tin Soldier melting it. Its slowly slagging body raises a hand, shaped not unlike a "fingergun" gesture, and it blasts heavy bolts of orange light at August, trying to knock him off his feet, but finding its own barrage interrupted, suddenly, by Yuna! "Why can't I do these things right?! Why do these people and these shitty fuckups single /me/ out?! They hate me when I treat them as worth more than me, then they hate me when I don't. Me too, god damn it, I /hate/--!"

    The whole thing's body convulses and sparks from the accumulated fire damage August put on it, and the loss of more mass from Yuna's shots, shuddering, going limp, and emitting smoke. There's more trying to leap onto August, though Yuna and her allies have the first dibs on making sure we don't get a repeat of that sudden surge in firepower from the skeletons.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa keeps with Yuna now she does have her SMG out and she's keeping alert for more trouble but as her allies are taking shots at Skeletons who get a bit too close to her and Yuna. She seems to be watching for worse things to come at them.

"Yuna keep at it!"

Is all Kotone has to say on the matter as there's trouble to worry about and it doesn't seem to be ending as August seems to be getting in deeper and she shifts her fire support to the burning horror skeleton and she wonders about just what this thing really is?

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    Rory is pinned hard, and it doesn't need to see the cyberbrain, only get its eyes near it, scan some tiny fragment of the psionic patterns therein. The zap surges through it, and it doesn't even seem to know how to deal with pain, not recognizing it as a reason to stop holding on. At least, not yet.

    It examines. It /peers/. And then its body shudders with a metallic noise, and begins to speak with the voice of Rory White herself. "How. I don't understand. I don't understand how. HOW do they survive?! HOW do they live like this? I can't understand it. I can't understand it. They can't communicate or think in any of the ways I can. I just want to be able to help! Is it something wrong with me? Because it shouldn't, it /can't/ be, I've tried being like them and it hurts /so much/. But why does being like this mean they keep being impossible to understand -- impossible to /help/?!"

    The constant rant of self-hatred seems to motivate it less to self-harm and more to harming Rory. Eventually its attempt to pin and hold her shudders badly, and the skeleton's words turn to screaming as it integrates the idea of pain enough that the zap finally fries it and throws it off with a heavy electrical discharge, leaving Rory alone at her perch, still menaced from below.

A2 (1108) has posed:
    There certainly seem to be no shortage of creepy psychic skeletons around to smash. In fact, as A2 chews through them like brittle purple skittles, more and more seem to be appearing at every moment, swiftly making skeletons an everyone problem. She's been keeping in contact with August through the radio for a little, but seemingly with a mildly heated disagreement.

    When matters escalate even more than that, she finishes up with the particular mow-down-ho-down in her corner, she turns back, Type-4O sword flashing into her hand, and engages rapid superhuman parkour strings full of double jumps air dashes, and balancing on beams while wearing high heels, to drop into the mass climbing towards him and slash through a dozen of them in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it flurry of black and silver. Then, she grabs August by the collar.

    "Do you get it yet? Or were you just ignoring it? These problems are your fucking problems. This /place/ is climber's problems. What did you think a psychic mountain would be, huh? You wanna know why the ghost hates you? It's because you're not climbing the mountain. You're not dealing with your problems. /We/ are. Whatever issues that this mountain is supposed to make you face, you're not facing them because we're carrying you to the top. No wonder the thing in charge of this place hates it and wants you to go back. You're not climbing the mountain. You're not a mountain climber." She then shoves him back with a minimum of violence or real vehemence. It's something more like dead-toned exasperation, quiet frustration, and worn-thin pity.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     Septette is distinctly reluctant to rely on her magic or drones here. She briefly raises her hand as if to immolate one of the fallen Cold Readers- and then abruptly thinks better of it. Her fighting adopts a new flavor as she tries to help her teammates thin their numbers: priorities are to break their optical sensors, then shatter the largest chunks of psitanium in their skeletons and move on to the next.

     Gradually, she learns their shatter points, the flaws in their design, the paths to break them. She dances around their grasps, clipping them with the edges of blades or the tips of her talons in blows that are delicately, minimalistically lethal. But she's slower and more cautious here than is her norm, even skipping the garbage-processor thoroughness.

                             Don't let them close.                              

     When August's cold reader erupts in flames, and Rory's shrieks and babbles as it's electrocuted, her suspicions are unsettlingly confirmed. A second impulse wells up inside her, vying and competing with the first. Septette surveys the field and hesitates, genuinely hesitates, for a fraction of a second.

     Another cold reader approaches. She grabs it by the shoulders and slams it into a wall, then holds her hand in front of its face and conjures up a white-hot magical flame.

     Her voice is even and smooth; her face placid once again. "Tell me what you see, you son of a bitch."

Rory White (673) has posed:
    THIS turn of events is a scary and terrifying piece of work. As soon as Rory registers HER OWN voice coming from the Golem... full panic sets in and she cranks the juice up to MAXIMUM.

    Of course the moment the Golem is OFF of her, Rory's flexbot begins to rearrange, shuffling damaged/crushed microbots out of active duty and into the role of armor plating while fresh ones cycle in to replace damaged joints and superstructure. It makes the silvery 'flesh' of her form squiqqle and squirm in a MOST discocerting fashion, but in a matter of seconds she's functional enough to LEAP away and start a retreat.

    At that time, her integrated Matter Manipulator flashes to life and shoulder mount points swivel open, accepting a gear shift as sizable railguns lock into place on the revealed 'hardpoints'.

    Seems she's figured out the optimal use of that stripped-down knockoff, hasn't she? GEAR SWAPS.

    "I understand you are angry, though not about what!" Rory exclaims towards her vocal dippleganger. She doesn't open fire just yet, still TRYING to talk with this thing. "Calm down and speak. We're willing to listen!"

    Of course then A2 throws out a HECK of a theory about the situation and... it makes Rory focus her thoughts on that possibility. It's... "... Could THAT be it? Is this phenomenon centered around August somehow?"

    Even though she's reasoning that this copying is the work of the 'ghost' of the peak, the fact that it's somehow COPIED HER VOICE after STARING AT HER has Rory on high alert and close to panic herself. Her attention skitters as she rapidly begins a self-diagnostic process to check her Ego integrity for ANY signs of intrusion or modification. If horror is a thing AGI's can experience, THIS is definitely the results!

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    Eithne gets a good rip on that skull; the eye isn't really a real thing, per se, it's just a glow in the socket, but she can get a thumb in the socket and rip the socket itself apart with her strength! But it got a glimpse, just one glimpse, and that was all it wanted -- or, in a way, all it needed. As it tumbles away, it seems to "glance" around, and winds up picking up one of the dismembered limbs of its foes, wielding it very abruptly like a shortsword of all things.

    "If I back down now," It starts to speak in Eithne's own voice, but a more panicked way. "What do you think would happen? What kind of legend would that be? I need--" It sparks. Only one glance wasn't enough to steal away an entire framework of identity cleanly, but it launches into a sudden, aggressive rush of strikes, lunges, slashes -- all untrained, but all very slightly mirroring Eithne's own improvised style. It doesn't have her skills, but it pretends, making up for it with psychokinetic body movements. "I need more glory, more legend, more acts of... Of greatness, of honor. What kind of parents do that? Throw someone untrained into the demands of a legend?! Make them live up to someone like Cu?! I can't afford to back down for a /second/!! I need it all -- more friends, more legend, more challenge, more--!!" Another spark. It doesn't have a good read on her, at least not right now.

August Kohler has posed:
The flames blast back into the Tin Soldier, causing it to stumble back as it catches on fire and mimes a horrible scream, metal burning and blackening as August clutches his chest with his left arm, almost moving to drop to a knee. The statement in 'his voice' is too close to home for him to try and ignore. He'd still try, either way, if it wasn't for A2 grabbing him by the neck and scolding him to his face. When he's finally let go, the redhead's dazed, and he stands still, silent.

When August finally speaks up while everyone's fighting, he's barely able to contain it. He wants to let loose. He never lets himself let loose, but he's angry, and he's been in a rough place, and he just wants the world to hear him. He just wants to truly show what he's feeling, and if that's what he needs to do to convince this mountain to screw off, if that's how he's going to climb the mountain, he'll give it a try. "God DAMN IT, what do you want me to say? Apologize? Say I'm sorry for not having my issues all solved? For being a fucked up human being?" Even if what he's saying doesn't match up with what he's said, it's what feels /right/. Give into the emotion, the rage. Though he's not directly addressing A2, as he doesn't really turn to her when he shouts. "Well, fuck that! You want me to admit this is true, though? Yeah, it is! I feel everything that damn skeleton said to me! Is that what you want me to say? Is that what you want me to admit? That I hate myself?"

August is partially incoherent, as he draws the knife and slams it into the slagged skeleton. "Yeah, I guess I do. But what I hate more is this bullshit, getting in my goddamn way! Hurting everyone around me because I can't face my problems, because I can't climb the mountain? Go to hell!" August draws the knife back and sheathes it again, staring up further through the caves, towards the noises scraping if he can still hear them.

"Tell me! Tell me how I can climb this goddamn mountain, then! If you want me to face my problems, then show me, you bastards!"

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    Kotone is hard at work on the fire support. But like Rory before her, one of the golems has clambered above, crawling like a creepy gecko; its head is fixed hard on a perfect stare directly at her head, no matter which angle it crawls as it tries to close in on a hard flank from above. Suddenly, hopefully right when Kotone is helping Yuna out with what's about to come next, the thing tries to jump from the ceiling directly onto her, trying to pin her down and get a close examination of her.

Eithne Sullivan has posed:
    She thought she'd done a good enough job. She hadn't really thought that they were a real threat. After all, Eithne knows what she feels about herself, doesn't she?

    But as it climbs back to its feet, as she leans over to pick up the sword Yang made for her and begin again, as it learns her... it speaks, too. Like a crow learning to use a tool, like a raven mimicking human speech, it's surprising - a little unsettling--

    They're smarter than Eithne had figured. She hadn't thought they would see /that/ deep, rifle through those particular stacks.

    But it says it, it says those things out /loud/, and it-- it--!

    She moves without thinking, overextending herself to swipe at the skeleton, getting a glancing blow to the ribs for her trouble. "QUIET!" Her blood's going cold and there's a squirmy feeling in her stomach. She can't look back. It's all true, goddamn it, and she'd thought it would be okay, that she'd grow out of it--

    --that she'd become someone better if she just pretended long enough--

    Eithne howls wordlessly and charges her opponent, heedless of being struck again, driving it to the ground and bashing at it with the butt of her weapon. "SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!"

    they can't find out what will ma say what would her father say is this really all she is

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
While A2 is being a lousy therapist, Yuna is preoccupied with thinning the skeletons out to a fine powder, keeping the 'reinforcements' from jumping on August - or on A2, if she can help it - and as such, she's not really in the best position to help August shore himself up in the wake of that two-sided assault. Or ... well ... presumably A2's upbraiding isn't meant to be as harmful to August as the skeletons themselves are being.

But Yuna also has a certain amount of insight into August's mind - thanks, again, to Agent Flamel Parsons. Overhearing A2's diatribe and August's replies, Yuna's face softens just a bit in the midst of her attacking the skeletons, even as her attention is split a bit more by Rory needing help - an additional threat which Yuna sends Marina to help with, and the android charges in to assist the AGI.

Marina's preferred approach is to try and grapple the skeletons away from Rory, and *then* launch minitorpedoes to smash them once they're safely removed from proximity to Rory. Once August is in the clear, Yuna will divert to help Rory with that as well.

And in *that* span of time, Eithne comes under attack as well ... Yuna grits her teeth. She can't be everywhere but she WANTS to be, she's not about to leave her friends - or rivals, or enemies, or anyone - to these none-to-tender mercies.

In fact, Yuna is so preoccupied with trying to help her friends that if any of those skeletons decide to pounce *her* directly, she may be astonishingly easy prey ....

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa :is distracted as Enya gets pounce that moment gives the thing after her an opening. Kotone is no human n term sof strenght but it's managed to get her, she's now pianned she strugles a wild shot goes off from her SMG before she stops firing, and she tries to get it off. However for all her efforts? It's getting a hell of a good look at her.

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    A2's left behind only one of the skeletons, which only barely maneuvered out of the shattering piledrive and caught a glance of her head on its way down. As she disengages to head to August, it recovers from the attempted shattering and regains its feet, leaping like she did towards A2. It's time for her to put her money where her mouth is, and to demonstrate to August how well she deals with her own problems.

    The theme slams into the ground near her, wielding some chunk of rail like one of her swords, and just goes in with the same viciousness that A2 does. "..." It's silent. Utterly silent. At least, for a while, while it apes her style of combat in a sudden surge of energy and combat efficacy. It's going to hold its own for a while, but A2 is still the champion at murdering swarms of simplistic machine lifeforms. Maslow doesn't know all of what to make of her, but this one thing, at least, it tries. Once she lands a killing blow -- of some sort, whatever it may be -- that the thing will finally speak, grabbing a shoulder and forcing its skeletal jaw right up to her ear, whispering in her own voice, distraught with pain:

    "What did I do to /deserve/ that betrayal?"

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    The Cold Reader stares deeply into the flame. First a glance, then a nearly covetous, obsessive look. What can it find? Can it find anything at all? It clearly looks, the shimmering "eyes" going wide. And... Something slips into place. A different shade of purple filters into the eyes. Septette finds herself dealing with a unique outcome among all the others, when she intentionally allows herself to expose the distant, itty bitty tiny resonant fractions of her psyche, out past the boundaries of the black box and into the Cold Reader.

    It looks to her, then back at the flame. It blinks a few times... And it stops trying to grab her. It doesn't attack her. In fact, it seemingly goes docile. "...I am the only perfection." It whispers, staring to her flame. She sees, it seems, the second of two reactions the Cold Readers have. Where the others have minds that can experience self-doubt, Septette's has not even a single drop of self-doubt, at least not about her inherent goodness. Whatever doubts she may have about her ability to do good, her abject lack of doubt about her own ethics means she draws no ire from the Cold Reader.

    Until she turns off that flow of readable magic, at which point the Cold Reader immediately attempts to claw at her, as if it had its own dangerous machine claws. Given the sharpness of those fingerbones, it's not too far off.

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    Rory has a close shave on this. This awful golem still uses her voice. "Is it something /wrong/ with me?!" It shouts, smoking and sparking as it tries to get back up and crawl towards her, still just as viciously violent-looking as ever. "What do I have to learn to make this make sense? What do I have to know?! There's nothing to study, nothing I can discover that will make this make sense. Am I just broken?! Am I wrong?! Is there some way to fix this?! Do I just tear things out until--!" It sparks again, trying to close on her and, just as it said, tear things out.

    Meanwhile, self-diagnostics show that... Nothing's damaged! Her Ego's checksum is the same as before. It looks like the Cold Reader didn't even manage to access her actual ego, all it did in her filestructure was access her voice emulation software, and access a few records of her actions, a few active surface thoughts, things like that. Something supernatural has provided everything else.

    As George said before, Maslow Peak can only bring out what's inside you.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     Sharp fingerbones rake across Septette's face. Nails on chalkboard. She grabs the Cold Reader's forearm halfway through the motion and crushes its limb in her hand, then elbows it in the face with the same arm in a single fluid motion, trying to stave in its skull. Her other hand stabs into its chest. Unfold blade right arm, aim to decapitate. Unfold blade left arm, aim to vertically bisect.

     There's no vehemence in the mechanical dissection, now. No paranoid hatred. It's just something that needs to be done, a pig whose time has come for slaughter. At the end- scarce seconds later- Septette raises her hand and buries the corpse under white-hot arcane fire, and touches the scratches on her cheek as she watches it melt.

     Septette is okay. Maslow Peak can only bring out what is inside of her. And what is inside of her is beautiful.

A2 (1108) has posed:
    A2 is remarkably even-tempered (compared to her usual) despite August starting to lose it in her face. She waits him out for a little bit, before answering in the same tired, bitter, ragged tones as before. "I've been on your side before, haven't I? Back then, with the Iris and OMNI. Back then, when you had a reason for doing it, other than just being angry and wanting to hit back."

    "I let myself rely on you when I was the only one who had the guts to kill that monster, because you really believed that it had to be done; because it was a threat, because you had people to protect, and because it had everyone else slaving to it, not because you were pissed off. I let you rely on me when we trashed that bastard computer because you recognized the truth; that it wasn't a person, it didn't understand people, and that it shouldn't run people's lives, not because you hate authority. What the hell happened? Because if you keep going like this, even I'm not going to be able to work with you."

    It's fortunate that A2 is at a good place to let her words sink in, because the suddenly hyper-competent skeleton leaves her in the temporarily distracted position of trying to defend the others from it. She makes an irritated noise when it suddenly gains the ability to actually go toe to toe with her for a bit, with her first few strikes being deflected, too simple and efficient to actually be viable against a skilled opponent rather than horde trash. From there, she ramps up the amount of force she puts into each blow, pressing the clash and sword of rail without a clear offensive or defensive. It results in a spectacular flurry of loud, metallic crashing sounds and explosions of sparks, without much progress on either side, but her game becomes obvious when inevitably 'a chunk of minecart rail' has to give way to a hi-tech Android sword, and when the Cold Reader's improvised weapon shatters, A2 plunges her sword through its spine.

    When A2 is presented with her own words of deeply wrenching, psychic introspection, drawing from the memories she'd rather forget and the dark things she tries not to think about, her reaction is much less dramatic, to the point that it's barely audible. She freezes on the spot, dirty silver hair obscuring half of her face, letting the Cold Reader rest loosely on her downward angled sword in that bizarrely intimate embrace. When asked that searching question, she answers.

    "You loved them too much to see it."

    A2 pulls the trigger on the Type-4O, and discharges a near-atomizing blast of electromagical energy into the Cold Reader's inner circuits.

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    The shining purple stones around the group surge. The light within them flickers, and then becomes bright, brighter, until the entire cave is lit up as if it were outside in mid-day, with shining purple light, when August makes his demand. Lightning begins to crackle between the shining, dense formations of impure psitanium, and a sound like thunder can be heard. It's that psychic storm, somehow manifesting inside a /cave system/. The shining lights dance over the open air, converging, until suddenly, it slams into the ground near August, like he's almost gotten struck by lightning. One of those approaching skeletons was struck, and it's like... It's like its body fills in. Suddenly, there's the Ghost of Maslow Peak, in a shimmering form around it, until it's no longer translucent at all, encasing the skeleton entirely.

    One last surge of combat in this cave. One last heated battle. She pulls out that powersaw again. "What do you think /I've/ been trying to do?" She says, demandingly. "You keep striking out," She revs the saw, surging forward into a barrage of assaults that August would no doubt need the Tin Soldier for. "But that isn't fighting your problem, you're fighting everything /but/ our problem. You need to face it directly, the thing that's hurting you!" Her voice is twisting angrily. The way the Cold Reader conducts her body is uncanny. "Why should you be able to understand what's going on in your head?! Why should you know the exact way to press forward?! You can't! The only thing you /can/ know is ways to figure out the differences between problems to solve, and solutions to protect; you have to focus on /that/! You have to find a way to know what way is forward!" But is that August or... Parsons? Because Parsons is here, still trying to help, still opening fire on the Ghost.

    "You don't know anything -- /anything/ -- about yourself, who ever /did/? You have to find 'forward' and break through /that/! But you're so busy trying to fight some part of you that you can't even stop to clear your eyes!" Here's more talk of that clarity, of finding the "right things" to kill; has George been talking to her?

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    Eithne can't deal with that part of herself, it seems, and it gets in a solid hit, maybe even another, but the real damage it does is baring a bit of Eithne's psyche with a deft bit of uncanny psychic examination, and it suffers, oh does it suffer for THAT. It's unlikely Eithne is going to succumb to the grabs from the other skeletons that go after her, after how this one went. She leaves it shattered in a dozen places, holes punctured in its skull, chipped "bone" scattered all around, and almost leaving a comically skeleton-shaped impression in the ground when Eithne sword-whips the cold reader into the ground like a tentpole, leaving it mutilated enough for her to focus on the swarms of assailants that threaten to expose more.

Rory White (673) has posed:
    Once she's faaaaaairly certain that no harm was done to her mind, Rory focuses as calmly as she can at the matter at hand: Her... Golemganger, it would seem? Which is screaming some things that sound a lot like some of her deepest frustrations, except magnified a thousand fold and turned violently twisted-up!

    In a crisis like this, she usually strives to maintain full control of her emotions and think rationally. It's only half-successful for even the best of AGIs though. She's still distracted with panicked thoughts about the sanctity of her Ego in the face of this strange supernatural things!

    "I... do not ever sound like that, do I?!"

    This is almost... sad. With half of her companions here getting incredibly disgusted or vehemently emotional about being faced with chunks of their inner negativity...

    Well, Rory would frown, but she doesn't have the proper wiring to do that on reflex like a normal person. So she just sort of stares at this display, calmly - but rather deeply.

    "... There is nothing broken about me." She finally concludes with a solemn sort of finality, and locks her weapons onto the Golem.

    "Time and again I have to face the fact that I am not human, but was made to help them. What I do not know is whether I am even complete, and, if not, if I can... grow to attain whatever might be missing." And as she says this her voice does warble a bit, but in stark contrast to the ravings of her Golemganger, she's quite collected.

    So she just OPENS FIRE, aiming to blow the thing to bits with heavy railguns. It's a mercy, rather than let something with a few bits and pieces of her psyche just scream at a wall for eternity in frustration!

    That would be far from humane.

    So, when everything turns SHOCKINGLY PURPLE AGAIN, she keeps the weapons out but doesn't bring them to bear on the 'ghost!'

    "She's back... I am having a terrible time understanding your message! ... Spirit?" She can make the guess at this point at least!

    "... Can it not be delivered without the violence?!"

    There's not much she can do about THAT THING though... so she turns around and barrels towards Kotone, turning her weapons on the golem that's pinning her!

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    Yuna manages to keep A2 and August clear of any foes but the particular special one that suddenly August is engaged by, and the lone assailant that has taken A2's style. This means that Yuna is actually on some pretty heavy cover-fire duty, laying down lines of fire heavily... All in mostly one direction. Her supporting allies are occupied with the same duty as well, forcing the attention to spread even wider. And it means she likely is winding up a bit vulnerable to a sudden pounce.

    Already vulnerable, it's hard to not get a quick glance from one of those awful golems that tries to pounce directly on her, grabbing her head and staring directly at it. What does Yuna hate about herself? What does Yuna hate about others? What does Yuna hate, precisely? One of these Cold Readers would normally examine that and lay it bare. Yet... Yuna's heart is essentially pure. No malice and no hate. Not even towards herself. The Cold Reader convulses like it just devoured an entire bottle of poison, and vomits a stream of painful, almost acidic white light, "bleeding" out of its skull.

    With Yuna's voice, it quietly whispers, "What kind of compassion can I really feel if I've never felt the way that /they/ feel? It's not... Real at all, is it?" Then the Cold Reader shudders, makes a noise like a bone snapping in slow motion, and drains the entirety of its shining purple light into more of that awful corrosively "pure" psychic energy, expending itself as a sort of psychically biohazardous suicide unit.

August Kohler has posed:
As the lightning crackles around and the lights flash next to August, he's taking deep breathes. As the the Ghost of Maslow Peak rises, August is reeling from A2's words. Not the part that she won't be able to work with him, but what's before that, how radically he's seemed to have shift. The redhead laughs. It's not a happy laugh, but a very sad one, practically choking back tears. "I've fucking hit bottom, huh...let my mask fall off. I know what happened." The Ghost's words help with that realization, as she comes at him with the saw. The Tin Soldier charges forward, and raises its arms to block, one moving to try and punch her in the face as the metal is torn through and August is swaying back and forth from the pace, clutching his chest hard and stumbling back onto his knees. "Cut through my problems? I barely know them, you're right! I can't even go into my own head and see what everyone else is fighting! But I know what it is, and it /scares me/! It scares me, god damn it, and how much I'm letting my mask slip because I'm so angry with myself!" August breaks out into laughter, like he's having a nervous breakdown, but he actually rises back to his feet. He wipes his face, the Tin Soldier moving to further push back against the assaults of the saw. Despite this strong showing, though, he's clearly not doing okay.

"The thought's crossed my mind, that everything would be better if there was no one around, if they were all just /dead/, but that's..." August shouts as he pushes forward physically, the Tin Soldier trying to force the Ghost back. "That's not what I want! That's not what I /live for/! So if you want me to cut through that, fine! I'll face myself! I'VE DONE IT BEFORE! Let me become a goddamn mountain climber, because I've already braved the damn forest! Most importantly..."

"Get out of my way!" The Tin Soldier raises its gun as August shouts, and moves to shoot the Ghost of Maslow Peak with a burst of fire. If she's a part of him...then hopefully, this will be effective.

Eithne Sullivan has posed:
    They can't. She isn't ready. She knew it, already knows it, but if /they/ know about her they'll leave her. They'll leave and she'll be alone again and she should be /used/ to it so it shouldn't hurt but she's scared, Ma--

    Yang's sword is dropped as soon as Eithne is certain the skeleton is dead for good. She reaches into Somewhere Else and drags out five feet of blackened, pitted iron that's mostly only /shaped/ like a sword. She can't go back. She /won't/. "Shut up," she breathes, red spots burning bright on her pale cheeks, and mows through a small wave of them with a single devastating swing. "Shut up! WHO THE HELL ASKED YEH?!" Her teeth snap together as if Eithne is afraid she might say too much.

    Who the hell asked them? What was she /supposed/ to do, when handed a weapon and a nebulous 'destiny' and an entire pantheon's reputation to live up to? What could she do but point herself outward and grasp for anything in her reach, anything to fill the silence of an empty home and an empty heart? What could she do but learn to repeat 'it's all right' until /everybody/ believed it?

    What can she do, when the only other option is to tear everything apart until there's nothing left, not even herself?

    So instead, Eithne kills them one by one and a half-dozen at a time, bleeding without making a sound.

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    Kotone's Cold Reader gets an eyeful of her, and when she shoves it off of her, the results are profound and violent. Not just for Kotone; it seems like the Cold Reader is mutilating /itself/ too. "I'm... Hhhhh..." It start, in Kotone's voice. "I'm awful. Stuck with this body. /Accepting/ it. Who does that? Who /accepts/ inhumanity?!" Gripping its own forearm, it snaps the thing in half, leaving itself with a brutally sharp shard of bone in one hand, and another brutally sharp shard of bone for its other hand; it moves in to try to stab Kotone, rapidly, with both.

    "Who just lets something like that, something so important, get taken away?! What kind of worthless does a person have to be that they're willing to let their /personhood/ go?! To accept /other people/ treating me that way?!" She goes for lunges and stabs, trying to gut important mechanical parts deep in Kotone's chassis. "What could be worse?! The fact that I'm like this?! Or the fact that I'm having the audacity to /live/ like that, the fact that I'm letting anyone like it, the fact that I'm willing to be happy for even a second this way?! Wouldn't it have at least been better to die as a /person/? At least people would treat me like a human and not a refridgerator! At least I could get a burial and not a scrapheap!!"

    It's pulling back older feelings, things that even already seemed resolved, grazing the surface of memories regardless of the fact of personality. But it's not planning on grazing when it tries for those stabs.

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    The cold reader in Septette's hands is easily bisected in multiple points, distributing its volume appropriately to cause its purple glow to sputter out nearly instantly. As a half-chunk of skull falls to the ground, and then is shortly consumed by white hot fire, there's a quiet flicker in one of the sockets, staring up at Septette. Some tiny fraction of the patterns it got from her mind reigniting in its last moments, staring into the fire and indulging one last moment of cynical machine egotism, even as merely an echo of an echo.

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
It happens too fast for Jiina to intercept, or even for Elner to get out a coherent warning; Yuna gets pounced on, and can only let out a startled, slightly garbled yelp as the skeleton latches onto her and gazes into her heart -

And begins pouring out that corrosive psionic 'light,' chewing away at the defensive aura which the Light Suit surrounds Yuna's body with.

Jiina *does* act now, steering Yuna towards the nearest stable surface that will support her weight - and a good thing, because the skeleton's 'attack' is eating away at more than merely physical defenses. It's a piece of Yuna's self that even *she* hasn't thought about before, at least not at any great length. She fights to protect others, so that nobody else has to suffer or die, and yet ... she fights so hard without truly understanding what other people go through.

Is it still compassion? A piece of Yuna wants to insist that she can still care for others anyway, but is that pride instead?

It isn't stopping Yuna from struggling against her assailant, but there *really* isn't much she can do to dislodge the skeleton before it finishes venting that energy right into her face. And if it *does* unload the rest of it, the Light Suit won't have any reserves left by that point.

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    A2's own cold reader detonates, blasting its midsection apart, leaving a fragment of an old piece of stone skeleton flickering on the ground, before it sputters out. There's not that much more left to clear out, aside a few strays; things are likely to move on and press forward soon, it seems, with August's battle with the Ghost being a sort of rolling issue through the caves, as blasts of fire knock the fight around.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     Septette's superheated fingers smooth over the scratches on her cheekbone in a motion that recalls brushing away tears. She turns around to face the Ghost- yet that flicker in the eye socket gives her pause, sends a little shudder through her bones. That, in all of this, strikes a dreadful and familiar chord. An echo of an echo of a murder.

     It had to be done, didn't it? For half a moment, it isn't the Cold Reader's face she sees in the fire.

     Yuna's call for help snaps her back to the present. Time slows down to a crawl as Septette assesses the situation: August has the Ghost handled for now, A2 is clear, Rory and Kotone seem able to handle themselves, and Enya- Enya is fine, at least physically. No higher priorities present. Septette sprints across the cavern at breakneck speed towards the white-armored girl and leaps off the ground, trying to intercept the erratic flightpath.

     For a brief moment, their trajectories intersect midair. Septette grabs the purple skelebot by the shoulders, heedless of the corrosive energy it's spewing, and plants her foot on Yuna's abdomen before roughly tearing them apart. It likely isn't pleasant for the magical girl- but it's surely better than what the robot has in store for her, right?

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    The weapons lock, and despite the crawling golem's efforts to close in on her, it can't close that fast. Railguns are a far cry from the less lethal shocking and pain. This is no person; this isn't even a fork, gamma or otherwise. It's just an echo, so there's not an ounce of harm done in unloading those railguns, ripping it apart and turning it to chipped pieces of rock. It's thorough, albeit perhaps a little heavy on ammo useage. But at least, amid the battle, the Ghost of Maslow Peak shouts out a response about whether the message can be delivered without violence: "That wouldn't be the /message/! It wouldn't /make sense/!" Whatever that means, Rory has the answer; for some reason, what's happening here needs that heated conflict.

A2 (1108) has posed:
    A2 is done with her Cold Reader, but in a greater sense, she's also done with this cave. Done with her involvement in this step of Maslow Peak. In those days to herself, she had plenty of time to think on the ghost, and over time, had formed those those thoughts, and then those words that she had uttered to August, and with the teen finally starting to face them, what A2 had been prepared to contribute, more than any amount of actually carrying him to the top of the mountain, is complete.

    This leads to the bizarre scenario of her standing by while the ghost viciously assaults him with a powered saw. She watches the fight with hard, lifeless eyes, lifting not a finger to intervene and offering not a word of encouragement. All August would see of her is that each time an additional skeleton comes close to the duel, A2 extends her fingers and her sword flies out on invisible strings to cut it down, swiftly batting and chopping away additional interlopers. Past that, well . . .

    She had told the ghost of Maslow Peak that she refused to enable him. That may as well have been a promise not to interfere with her work.

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:

    "It's not what anyone wants," The Ghost screams, reeling from the punch to the face, emitting gushes of bright purple psychic light as the Cold Reader she's inhabiting suffers from the impact. Her saw falters in its swipes and crushing rush as August presses on with his words and pushes into her with his Persona. He's admitting things, confronting things... Taking on a lot of the issue directly. And it seems like he's making progress. For a long while, it seems like he's getting to where he needs to go, casting the ghost out...

    In fact, her hair flickers slightly, surging from red to black every so often. Her body begins shimmering with much softer light. It's like something good is finally going to happen, like he's about to break through, and reach something wonderful in Maslow's psychic hellscape. "And you don't have to feel that way!" She's crying out. "You don't have to spend so much of yourself fighting those feelings!" Her eyes surge with softer red light, a warm velvet-like red... "You...!"


    Then, that one last line. "Get out of my way!" He said. With those words, something happens that's not unlike the momentary rush of psychic energy when someone denies the truth of a Shadow's identity. "YOU IDIOT!!" She screams. "YOU WANT ME TO GET OUT OF YOUR WAY?!" The entire cavern begins to rumble. The shining purple light in the psitanium goes deep red; lines like blueprints suddenly begin to draw all throughout them. "YOU WANT ME GONE?! NOT STOPPING YOU?!" Her voice is no longer coming from the body August is fighting, but from all around; it's as though the entire mountain is screaming at him. "YOU'LL NEVER GET RID OF ME! YOU'LL NEVER MAKE ME GO AWAY! DON'T YOU DARE TRY!! I WON'T LET YOU!!!"

    The skeletons are all nearly cleared out, and the shining crimson is revealing a passageway further up and out. It may be a sensible idea to get out fast.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa she finally gets it off, she stares at the thing as it start to rip itself apart. She gapes in horror she stares at it yells about it, she only start to act as it attacks her, her body shifts trying to keep out of the way, she's better at range then up close. Up close she'll have to rely on the brute strength of her body and she need to get to her weapon. She had accepted she was Kotone Yamakawa still but the human mind is a funny thing, something still lurk in the depths of her mind.

It seem this thing has happened, it spoke of some thing that she hated her self for. Being called a doll by anti-cyberist stalked and creeped out on by 'doll collectors' people who liked androids and cyborgs better than flesh and blood humans. She felt a lot of anger in it.

"To... just ... give up?! To just give up."

Even if one accepts something it doesn't mean they go away and these old feeling still lurked.

"I'd never have met Maaka, Rory, Cronoa, the Flotilla captains ... Nagato, Kid, Hoshi....August. If I had died there on that slab a bloody mess of flesh. I would never have met any of them! I have had  to come to accept my choice that I might be a doll to some but I still... have a damn Ghost."

She's mostly on the defence right now as she has been put off balance by this.

She seems to be talking at it, but as she dances about a X-COM issue plasma grenade slips out beeping as it hits the ground and Kotone tries to get the hell back before it detonates.

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    The Ghost of Maslow Peak's crushing rush of violent assaults surges; lightning blasts from the nearby rocks, washing over the body of the Ghost, filling its dangerous weapon with fire. The lines of blueprints that turn deep crimson wash over her body and seem to surge energy through her. She screams in an inhuman way, and she surges forward, smashing with superhuman strength against the body of the Tin Soldier, intent on sawing an entire limb off if August's not careful. He may need a second rifle after she's done with him, screaming and emotional as she is.

    The lines of blueprints surge into the cave body itself, the whole thing sending huge rocks crashing down. It's not cave-in, but it's close enough that it may well be the same sort of event to drive them out. The Mountain has gotten /real/ mad all of a sudden.

A2 (1108) has posed:
    Well, A2 had more or less given an implicit promise not to get in the way, but at this point, it looks like the Ghost is getting in her own way. A2 knows, because she's had to look at the ugly aftermath, and take a good look at herself, after tripping up and losing control in exactly the way she sees happening right now. August had /almost/ done it. That much she is certain of. August is probably going to get killed if he keeps it up at this point. That much she is fairly confident of.

    Only at that point does she dive in, but solely to yank August out of the field, slinging his wounded body over her shoulder, and blitz the rest of the gauntlet, leaping, vaulting, and air jumping to the revealed passage at a speed that is possibly kind of dangerous for August. She doesn't stop to ask anything of the ghost, because why would she? The fact that she only spares a sidelong glance, rather than a sword on the way past, is meaningful enough.

August Kohler has posed:
August tries to confront his problems. He tries to fight through them, cut them down. For a moment, it looks like the Ghost is going to give in, be able to work with him.

And then it flips its lid. The entire mountain rocks in anger as August feels that he pissed it off, the cavern goes red, and energy surges through the Ghost of Maslow's Peak. She slams hard into the Tin Soldier, gun-leg nearly torn off. What would happen with that, August isn't sure, screaming in pain as his leg is torn into. It probably would have been cut straight off...

If A2 hadn't have yanked him over his shoulder, giving August just the momentum he needs to desummon the Persona and prevent the Ghost her bloody onslaught. August feels the air surge past him, battering against him as the android moves way too fast, but he doesn't brace, just wallowing in his pain for a few moments. Now would be the clever time to say something to A2, but...he doesn't. He's going to be quiet for the rest of the night unless someone addresses him, likely.

Flamel Parsons (1094) has posed:
    Eithne focuses on clearing the last of the obstacles with broad strikes that are properly practiced now in evading getting grabbed, defending the rest of the group who are extracting themselves. Septette has managed to help out Yuna, ripping apart the pair in their death-dance, and then ripping apart the skelebot, since its hands were gripped so tightly to Yuna. It's likely that, with the creature thus disarmed, she can crunch it properly, and then get them outta here!

    Kotone manages to pull away from her own, and leave the explosive on it as she tears away. It scrambles to a defensive, then an offensive position, before noticing the danger of the explosive beneath its feet. "..." It looks to Kotone. "Would I /know/ if I'd lost my Ghost?" It asks, one last tiny bit of doubt all it can impart before a blast of plasma boils the psitanium away.

    The group can flee now, and escape the mines... Emerging, eventually, to what looks like some sort of ancient, abandoned lab. Long cleared of both equipment and files, and unprotected against heavy rain, the frame of the building juts out where the upper segment of the mines connects with the surface. This must have been the source of the Cold Readers, some ancient experimentation in Maslow Peak's properties. Up here, at least, the place is shielded enough against the Peak's more dangerous effects that they all -- group and mountain -- can take some time to calm down, and make camp.

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
There are worse things than getting a mechanical foot planted roughly in your midsection by a Yggdroid who's trying to pry you free of a self-destructing psychic undead skeleton. For instance, *not* getting pried free of a self-destructing psychic undead skeleton, which would certainly do far worse than a bruised belly. So while it's no picnic for Yuna, she's not about to complain - and Jiina is close enough to help make sure that the separation doesn't send Yuna falling down below.

That said, when the skeleton gets pried loose to plummet to *its* presumed doom, the Light Suit is crackling and sparking erratically from the damage already incurred, and Yuna is staggering on her feet despite her best efforts. She may not be saying she needs assistance with the 'get out fast' part of this operation - but it's pretty clear that she does, and if she gets that help, she's not going to reject it.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     It only takes a second for Septette to crunch the now-'disarmed' Cold Reader in her hands like an oversized tin can- some of the corrosive energy bleeds onto her as well, chewing up her shawl and satchel fatally. Fortunately, she seems otherwise unharmed, even though some of it gets on her face. What is that stuff? Tastes like... hope. Blech.

     She wastes little time closing the distance to Yuna again, though the falling rocks bounce off her exposed exoskeleton- one even bounces off her head despite being larger than she is. After grabbing the magical girl by the wrist, she makes an abrupt about-face and sprints at highway speeds towards the exit, trailing Yuna like a pennant rather than carrying her. "Everyone out NOW!"

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
"Because it would stop whipering to me."

Is the last thing she says before the plasma boils the thing away and it's time to go, oh lord is it time to go Septette is very much right, they got to go. She won't argue at this and she takes off as fast as her shell can carrier her.

Eithne Sullivan has posed:
    Eventually all things end. You run out of steam, or you run out of things to fight, or you run out of a cavern occupied by an increasingly pissed-off ghost. Something like that, right? This time, for Eithne, it's kind of all three.

    Logically, she knows that everybody has these kinds of doubts. Hers are more specific than some, maybe, but everybody...

    She remembers a quote that she liked well enough to write down somewhere. "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle." Nobody could agree on who'd said it first...

    So she drops her sword into Somewhere Else and picks up the one that Yang made for her, frowning at the smudges of dirt on the blade, and runs after the others.

    She'll help build camp wherever they stop, with a surprising number of helpful tricks stored in that backpack. Hopefully nobody's allergic to roses...

Rory White (673) has posed:
    "I did not realize you still habored these insecurities..." Rory, slightly damaged by that alteraction with the Cold Reader, pads up alongside Kotone. "Humanity is just a label. I do not see how being made more of metal than flesh matters whatsoever. Although it wasn't your choice to begin it, you have chosen to stay on this path.. and explore what humans could BECOME. Rather than degradation, cybernetic conversion is a form of progress and self-betterment. If anyone looks down on it, they simply do not understand."

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa looks back to Rory for a moment. "They also have fears some of which are justifed such as racing too fast, where there are health problems effecting cyborgs, and other isuses its not without .... danger. I agree the ghost matters more but I'm still human with all it's funny little hangups...I still wonder somwtime. Can't do anything but go foward better to find the pitfalls now before everyone rushes ahead."