5838/Zergling Rush

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Zergling Rush
Date of Scene: 07 May 2018
Location: Koprulu Sector <KS>
Synopsis: Pending
Cast of Characters: 6381, Iria, 632, Josuke Higashikata, 1103, Kotone Yamakawa, Bahamut, 673


Nova Terra (6381) has posed:
    Tyrador IX. A popular tourist resort in the Dominion. However, the usual scene of paradise one sees when exiting the colony's main warpgate has been replaced by one of chaos. Right off the bat, anyone arriving through the gate will find a stream of people hurriedly rushing towards them, entering the transportation device. The evacuation is in full swing. All around, the sounds of gunfire and screams echo through the streets. Smoke rises from buildings on the edge of the city, which has already been lost.

    The warpgate is situated in a courtyard in the center of the city, two large streets running north and south away from it. This is where the fighting is most fierce. Holding their ground behind barricades or within heavily armoured bunkers are the Troopers belonging to the Defenders of Man. Some are wearing light power armour, while others are equipped with much larger, bulkier, mechanical suits.

    The troopers are firing their large futuristic-looking rifles at charging waves of alien creatures. The Zerg. These creatures, about the size of a large dog, look quite ferocious with their spiky carapaces, sharp bony claws and maws filled with threatening teeth. They also run quite fast. The only saving grace is their apparent lack of ranged attacks, which is probably all that has prevented the Defenders from being immediately overwhelmed. Considering these creatures are essentially throwing themselves in waves at the defense lines, with little attempt to dodge the return fire, they don't appear all that concerned about their own lives. The shouts of the troopers fighting them reveal their name:

    Zerglings.

    For now, the Defenders of Man seem to be holding their ground. But who knows how long that will last. As while dozens of Zerglings are quickly falling each moment, more arrive from the wilds around the city to replace them. And occasionally, one will get through the barrage to strike down one of the Defenders, whose numbers are no where near as apparently infinite.

    Situated off to the side of the courtyard looks like a hastily erected command post. Troopers rush about it, carrying supplies and tending to the wounded. Several of the more heavily armoured troopers are guarding a warehouse nearby the camp at the courtyard's edge, its appearance suggesting a more permanent military structure.

    Of those heavy troopers milling about the command post, one is giving various orders to the others. Most likely the commander officer of the Defenders. He happens to turn his head, allowing him to spot the emerging people. Armed, with no obvious affiliation and actually ARRIVING to a Zerg invasion, it's a fairly safe bet as to who they are, "Tch, Elites. Just what we need." The CO stomps over to the arriving elites and demands, "Identify yourselves." His demeanour is remarkably professional, if direct, considering the circumstances.

Iria has posed:
She's a bounty hunter, yes. But she's a bounty hunter with a sense of justice and morals. Meaning that Iria will gladly utilize her skills as a bounty hunter to help those in need. For Iria believes that a true bounty hunter doesn't just hunt for the money or for the kill. It's all about destroying anyone or anything evil.

The moment the alert goes out that Zerglings are attacking the resort is the moment that Iria is rushing to her spacecraft and flying into the area quickly with her weapons at the ready. Or rather, strapped to her underneath her crimson cape. On her face is a look of determination and anger as she speeds towards Tyrador IX. "Don't know what Zerglings are, but I'm gonna find out now, while they find out that you don't mess with the best of the best!"

Arriving near where the command post is, Iria jumps out of her craft and makes her way to where the command post is. She is there just in time to hear the CO make the sarcastic comment about Elites being just what they need, and that draws a scowl from Iria as she narrows her eyes and snaps, "Just WHAT is that supposed to mean?" She folds her arms and sneers a little before opting to identify herself, "Iria, Hunter 9799-5." Her left eye narrows a little more. "And I'll have you know that I'm not just ANY Elite! I happen to be an expert bounty hunter with a great knowledge of combat skills." She smirks a little. "And from the look of things, you need all the combat assistance you can get!"

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     The short young woman in the violet shawl could almost escape notice. This is because she's quite possibly beneath eye-level, and because she's apparently unarmed. Almost is the operative word. The millisecond she steps through the warpgate, the soldiers' radios- if radios still find use in this futuristic world- hiss with a quiet, foreign static.

     She gives the CO a respectful nod while elbowing Iria sternly in the side. "Septette Arcubielle speaking. Iria, don't be an ass." A trio of softball-sized spherical drones (in cherry, blueberry, and lemon flavors) materialize near her and then fly into the sky, trying to get a birds'-eye-view of the battlefield. Rapid tactical analysis ensues.

     "Tell us if there's anywhere you need us," she says to the in-charge-looking-guy as she steps around him, "but I think I already have some idea."

Josuke Higashikata has posed:
It only took one word for Josuke to decide to get involved -- 'evacution'. Expecting there to be chaos -- since 'evacuation' means 'shit just got real and it is ALL OVER THE PLACE to the extent that people need to leave -- he isn't really expecting anything to happen with any kind of order. So it's a surprise when the CO stomps over and demands an identification. Startled, he offers crisply, "--Aa, J-Josuke Higashikata, sir!" He bows politely.

Nope, this kid's not a military guy. Josuke is wearing his typical, a purple-colored school uniform with a long jacket and loose pants. He's not visibly armed, and isn't wearing armor. Maybe not too much to look at initially, but he IS still a pretty big guy. "I can help heal wounded, or I can help fight the..." Pause, he takes a moment to listen to the battle. "...Zerglings." He indicates in the direction of the battle.

In preparation for either one, the purple aura leaps to life around him, and the bubblegum pink-and-silvery blue armored figure rises up out of his body floating behind him, a few inches off the ground. He'll need his Stand to do either one. He does wonder if any of these guys can see Crazy Diamond -- these days he never knows who can and who can't! He also takes a moment to greet those showing up, offering a pleasant smile and a friendly wave!

Theurgus (1103) has posed:
    Theurgus, the Mad Magician, steps through the gate, following Septette and Iria. The demand for identification causes the bluenette to chuckle in a maniacal way. It doesn't sound entirely sane. "Ahaha~. I am Theurgus, The Mad Magician. I had heard The Organization has released a bioweapon here, and have come to cleanse the zone. My magicks are yours." she bows, doffing her hat and flourishing grandiously. This reveals the two figures hiding behind her. A younger girl with dark green hair and striking green eyes, and a tiny... book fairy. These step out to the side and bow as well.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Zerg, Kotone ran into them long ago, almost half a decade ago, it was a memory that wouldn't fade even if she didn't have a perfect memory. She was in the armoury suiting up, she had to make a choice. She suited up, she moved to ready drones turrets and suiciders as she goes. She readies plasma grenades, her ship was in orbit with Slip Bolt manning the helm.

"Concern: Keep safe."

"I will."

She notes to glitch as she makes for the teleport pad, she'll send a signal to the defenders that she is coming to help and she'll blink into the base.

"Kotone Yamakawa I'm with the Paladins and I have some experience with the Zerg. So they have a base of operations somewhere we could hit to slow the tide? Just tell me where you need support?"

She's also impressed the troops are holding out still so these guys do have an idea of what they are doing, it's the Zerg throwing raw numbers in no way a sapient being with a survival drive would act.

Kotone will also to open up a tac-net with Rory and her own ship, hopefully anyone else with the ability to will be welcome to join in.

Bahamut has posed:
     After all the others have made their way through, the gate sputters a moment before a metal dragon with vibrant plumage steps through. He likely dwarfs most everyone else here with his 15 foot height and bulk like a linebacker. He rumbles and stretches his wings, then looks to the CO who is demanding identities. The dragon smirks lightly, then bows regally before standing to his full height and crossing his arms over his broad chest. "I am Bahamut, King of Spiran dragons and Aeon of Bevelle. I come to offer my considerable powers to this world's defense." he says, then he looks out over the battlefield. "Do you need more? Or shall we start disposing of these fiends." he adds, the golden gyro on his back already sparking with energy.

Rory White (673) has posed:
    Rory White's arrival is far from the usual approach in a Warp Gate! The starship Eureka - roughly a hundred meters long, silvery-grey and unusually sleek and smooth in shape despite its bulk near the rear, where fusion thrusters propel it at great speeds. This ship dropped out FTL in high orbit and then rapidly plotted a course for the battlefield below!

    So the Eureka burns red hot on descent through the atmosphere. The underside comes alive as it reaches a low altitude over the city, deploying support thrusters to maintain altitude and a number of other panels swivel around, revealing thin and narrow turrets.

    Of course, all through its descent, the ship sends a very loud IFF signal revealing its affiliations: the Argonauts, and the Paladins. A broadband message goes out detailing her intentions... but it basically boils down to... yep, here to help.

    "Those are quite the vicious-looking specimens." The ship's turrets move in concert and with the kind of rapidity of AI-guided algorithms.

    And then high-energy, military-grade lasers are turned on the Zergling horde. The beams are invisible save where it strikes the target, bathing Zergling after Zergling in a vivid electric-blue-violet glare that hurts to look at with unshielded eyes. But it's deadly effective, the lasers serving to burn and boil the creatures alive in their own water content. The laser doesn't just sear. Sometimes, the critters might simply pop like balloons!

    And there's a half-dozen sweeping and pulsing with exacting, machine-guided precision!

Nova Terra (6381) has posed:
    The CO obviously ignores Iria's question, considering the brief look he gives her. He then states, "I am Captain Redding with the Defenders of Man." Redding sizes up Josuke. He's clearly familiar with the concept of Elites so isn't too surprised at the kid. Theurgus draws a bit more of a look though. A small amount of respect does show in Redding's face as he listens to Kotone. However, he corrects her, "No base has been identified. These are feral Zerg." Bahamut does cause Redding to take just a minor step back. Even in his CMC Armor, the dragon does force the man to look up with some surprise. However, at this point he actually seems annoyed by the presence of the elites, "As much as I appreciate your enthusiasm, we have the situation under control."

    Septette's drones will reveal that the Defenders of Man have a fairly decent defense going on. In addition to the main lines to the north and south, they also have smaller mobile squads throughout the city to manage any stragglers. However, one squad isn't moving and there's a stream of Zerglings quickly rushing down the street they were protecting.

    As if on cue, a trooper runs up to Redding, "Sir!"
        Redding, "What is it?"
    "The line in sector 5 has been broken."
        "What the hell is squad five doing over there!?"
    "Unclear, sir. They're not responding on comms."
        "Damnit!" Captain Redding actually manages to look concerned at this news. He quickly turns to look towards one of the side streets leading into the courtyard... From it, Zerglings begin to rush out. Nearby civilians begin to scream in fear at the sight, scrambling to try and get away from the monsters.

    Redding points at two of the nearby heavy troopers, "You and you, with me!" He brings his large rifle up to grip in both mechanical hands as he turns his head to look at the gathered elites, "Well? Don't just stand there!" He runs off with his two escorts, quickly crossing the courtyard to get a better position. Stopping, all three raise their weapons and begin to fire.

    The Eureka's lasers are highly effective against the Zerglings, the poor things unable to counter the larger flying craft. And yet the attacks don't disuade the Zerglings from their assault, as they continue to press through it. It does release the pressure a little on the northern defense line, some of the troopers giving up cheers as they watch the Zerglings explode in front of them.

    The evacuation continues, the number of civilians coming from the surrounding city starting to dwindle.

Josuke Higashikata has posed:
Whether it's because he actually believes Redding or just understands how leaving the defense of your world to offworlders is uncomfortable (they're basically aliens, right? So are the Zerglings, he assumes) Josuke is actually willing to accept the 'we've got it under control' response. He nods, and starts to say, "I'll stick around, just in case you need--"

And then there it is, one of the squads seems to be in trouble. Redding seems to expect them to follow, and he nods. "Right." And he'll follow. Though... someone's probably going to complain, because if there's ammunition in sight, Josuke is gonna snag some of it before he runs off, his Stand following!

Iria has posed:
OK, who does Septette think she is, elbowing Iria like that? She's not even a superior or anything like that. They're not even in the same faction together. Nevertheless, that does make Iria angry as she turns to face Septette and say with a nasty glare, "If you EVER hit me like that again, you WILL regret it!" She narrows her eyes briefly, then turns to face Captain Redding.

Her anger is now replaced with a more composed look, realizing that she was acting a bit on the immature side just then and there. But before she can actually say anything, a trooper runs up and presents the captain with bad news. And then the bad news presents itself, causing Iria's eyes to widen in disbelief. "THOSE are Zerglings?" She grits her teeth a little before going for her rifle. "Well, it looks like we're gonna have to teach 'em a lesson!" She smirks a little bit as she loads a clip into her rifle.

After loading the clip, Iria heads off after Redding and the others. "There's a lot of them, but we can take 'em! We've got this!" She calls out.

Theurgus (1103) has posed:
    Theurgus straightens, a lopsided, maniacal smile on her lips, spark behind her eyes as she watches the commander scramble. "Under control, is it?" she asks, looking at her companions. "Let us go. Charta, remain here and coordinate with the support team, keep us updated. Arcana, it is time we showed them the power of the Diamond Drive's multithread magick." she says, lifting her chin, then summoning a small silver spike from her inventory. "ACCESS!"

    Theurgus throws the spike down into the ground of the courtyard. It embeds, then the upward tip unfurls like a flower, drawing in a beam of energy that appears from 'somewhere'. The accompanies the Mad Magician transforming. A pillar of chromatic light engulfs her for a moment, circling with code fragments before dissipating. The form left behind has hair that billows in unfelt wind, shimmering with multiple colours on the inside, while remaining shock white on the outside. Eyes are mismatched heterochromia. One the same striking blue as before, the other a deep red, which swap sides occasionally between blinks.

    Arcana nods, stepping up beside the elder DCC, "ACCESS!" The younger sister transforms much the same way, the result being a girl clad in chrome body suit, with metallic hair that shimmers like oil on water. Her eyes are pinwheels of different colours, rotating lazily around the pupil. Both summon armour fragments that adhere to their hips, feet, shoulders, hands and head, Diamond Soul's looking like some clockpunk monstrosities with shining green gems in them. Arcana's are sleek, chrome with red energy lines running through them. The pair take flight, summoning their weapons before taking in where best to begin their assault.

    Charta, meanwhile, moves over to the support techs, and begins reading information, collating it together and reciting off revisions on troop movements to optimize their combat performance and minimize the exposure to being cut off, like the eastern squad was.

Bahamut has posed:
     Bahamut's smirk grows a bit as Redding takes a step back, but he does not comment. He only enjoys it when someone shows a bit of awe at his arrival, he does not try to embarrass the commander. But, when the trooper runs up and draws attention to the broken line and incoming Zerg rush, Bahamut just grunts out, "Obviously."

     Then his wings spread wide and with a powerful flap and a leap he is rocketing toward the incoming Zerg. He uses his bulk to his advantage, basically bowling for Zerg as he rushes along just above the ground, long talons outstretched at his sides to catch as many as he can in his initial rush.

     He then digs in just past the entrance to the courtyard, trying to form a blockade of living steel. He roars loudly enough to shake the buildings a bit, obviously an attempt to both draw attention and intimidate the small Zerg, then starts slashing at any of the strange creatures that get close. "Form up with me! We must protect the civilians! If you are not equipped for frontline defense, give us suppressive fire!"

     Hopefully it won't annoy Redding TOO much for an offworld elite to be giving orders already.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     The drone feed gives Septette all the information she needs. Before the CO can speak further, she's already sprinting towards the edge of the courtyard, topping sixty miles an hour with her talons carving divots into the streets with each step.

     As she reaches the edge of the onrushing tide of chitin and chittering mandibles, the robot throws off her cloak. In one smooth motion, she unfolds a long curved blade from her forearm and swings it in an overhead slash, neatly bisecting one zergling from head to tail. She studies its entrails for a subjective eternity before it hits the ground, and then becomes a lashing whirlwind of blades and claws as she carves a path through the swarm.

     Initially, her progress is considerably slower than Rory's ship-mounted weapons, or even some of the marines. But with each kill her certainty and swiftness grows- she becomes more comfortable with dispatching them using the least energy possible, and avoiding fewer and fewer of their blows in favor of letting their claws and fangs scrabble off her hard exoskeleton.

     That isn't to say she slows down. It's less 'holding ground' and more 'wading'- she's trying to make it to Squad 5, whether they're stranded or dead!

Rory White (673) has posed:
    On occasion, the Eureka opens up another port and sends out a small spray of guided missiles! Said occasion is 'whenever the Zergling horde gets beyond a certain density or starts challenging the Marines down below!'

    She's using them sparingly for a reason though. They kinda tear up the road and send shrapnel flying everywhere.

    Lives are more important than future road work though!

    It's quite obvious that most of the offense is being handled by computer guidance and not an actual person. The instant a Zerglinggoes down a turret acquires a new target and applies optimized power to bring it down! Machine-learning is clearly at work here to optimize the slaughter of the weakest of the Zerg forces!

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa says "Okay so they are coming in rather than breeding here, good to know, Captain."

She will make ready though as it seems time to get out into combat. As she's making her plans, she now. She will get moving and doesn't seem to be intent to keep at normal human speeds she's moving a faster than even a marine's power suit might allow, and she's also leaping and bouncing over things as she goes.

She does not waste a moment she is going to help with the civilians, she'll end up opening up with not her normal SMG, no she's got the Braton that Kushiko gave her over the holidays those corrosive rounds likely will help to breach the Zerg's alien hides.

She's actually going out to look for Civilians who are in need of help and will focus on taking out Zerg who are going after the fleeing civilians.

Nova Terra (6381) has posed:
The civilians gathered closest to the breaching Zerglings are all scrambling around each other to get away. It's making things even worse, slowing them down and giving the Zerglings an excellent opportunity for a snack. The Zerglings at the fore of the charge run across the ground, jaws snapping in anticipation as they bite at the heels of the fleeing civilians... That is until a few of them get mowed down by the rapid fire shots from Redding and his troopers. This has a noticeable effect, the minimal Zergling minds collectively registering a greater threat. This has the effect of drawing the Zerglings off the civilians. Of course that means they're now drawn to Redding and by extension, the elites. The Zerglings begin to charge across the ground, many honing in on Josuke, Iria and the transforming Theurgus, giving no appreciation for her flashy effects. They will quickly find themselves within biting range!

    Bahamut and Septette are the first to clash against the Zergling waves. Bahamut's charge knocks many aside, caving in their bodies and breaking bones. Not too far beside him, Septette's blade slashes through the Zerglings. Their carapaces are hard, but there are weak points that one might be able to slide a sword into. Bony clawed limbs also go flying, fairly easy to cut through. Septette manages to make it through the street opening moments before Bahamut arrives to clog it up. The stream of Zerglings is greatly reduced, however there are still many to deal with already inside the courtyard. Septette finds herself subject to numerous claws being slashed at her from those long limbs that the Zerglings have. Meanwhile Bahamut is starting to find the pressure behind him building, Zerglings trying to climb over him and bite him at the same time.

    The regular troopers in the command post, who Charta has started to assist, seem much more appreciative of her help. The efficiency of the mobile squads increases, helping to prevent a repeat of the fallen squad five. The damage of which the others are still trying to recover from.

    Kotone's choice to go out and actually seek additional civilians proves to be a good one. For all the good that the Defenders of Man are doing, there's still a limit to their power and several civilians have found themselves trapped, cut off from the evacuation. Their prayers are answered though as Kotone comes running in, Braton opening up on them. The corrosive rounds help to melt through the Zergling carapaces, burning up the flesh beneath even more. After several moments, the small group of Zerglings lay dead at Kotone's feet. The civilians offer up scared stutters of thanks before quickly rushing off, trying to make it to the courtyard and the evacuation point. Unfortunately for Kotone, the gunfire has drawn more attention. Zerglings begin to stalk up to the edges of the bulidings above her, beginning to surround her. Their frenzied eyes stare at Kotone for just a few moments, before they all start to strike, leaping off the buildings down towards Kotone with teeth-filled jaws snapping and bone-clawed limbs flailing.

    Redding pauses his firing for a moment as he shouts, "What was that!? Say again!?" He appears to be listening to his radio, before concern shows on his face and he looks up, "Oh..."

    In the skies, small dots can be seen high in the sky, well above the Eureka's current altitude. However, they are getting large. Soon leathery wings can be identifiable alongside a rather long, curved looking body. It looks like part of the approaching Zerg fleet has managed to break through. An advanced force of Zerg fliers. Redding swears, "Mutalisks!" As much as he hates to admit it, the arrival of the elites might have been a good thing after all.

    The wings of the small Mutalisk swarm flap as they streak down from orbit. They are all beginning to head straight towards the only vessel in the air. The Eureka suddenly finds itself under attacks, the small organisms spawned and fired by the fleshy fliers begin to explode against the ship.

Iria has posed:
No problems from Septette right now. Good, because Iria has far more important things to focus on. Namely the Zerglings, which, upon getting a better look at, causes her to wince a little. "Ew, those things are disgusting." After a moment, she shakes her head. "Which is why we can't let them live." She then sees how the Zerglings are turning the civilians into snacks and, as soon as Iria sees the first civilian fall, she grits her teeth, although it's in anger instead of disgust. "All right, that's enough!" Then she spots the Zerglings coming for her along with Theurgus and Josuke, and she widens her eyes. "Oh no, you don't! I'm not your dinner! I'm your ENEMY!"

Aiming at the nearest swarm of Zerglings, Iria opens fire with fully automatic gunfire. "Take this!" She yells out, sending out a carefully aimed burst of gunfire, intent on hitting the Zerglings while making sure she's aiming away from the civilians and anyone else who is helping out.

Theurgus (1103) has posed:
    Theurgus, or Diamond Soul now, turns her eyes from the Zerglings, up to the incoming Mutalisks. The clockwork wings on her back unfold, and with a light "hup." she begins to ascend. "These little snappers are yours, don't die now." she offers to Josuke and Iria, as she begins to ascend to intercept the incoming flying Zerg. Arcana stays in close, the chrome fans unfolding and lifting her into the air similarly. Together, the staff-using Diamond Soul, and the sword-using Diamond Sister wing upwards into the sky, soon clashing with the Mutalisks as they swarm around the Eureka.

    Theurgus begins to recite a cantrip, even as she lashes out with her staff, loosing off bolts of energy to clip wings to deflect a dive, flame, ice, wind and lightning lashing out as the marble at the head of her geordian knot of a staff changes hue. "Ye Lords! Mask of Source and Code, All creation, fluttering wings, ye who bear the name of Program! Inferno and pandemonium, the firewall surges, march on to the south. Way of Destruction, number thirty one. Infernal Confluence!" She 'skids' to a halt, allowing a platform of energy to form beneath her feet, expanding outwards until a boiling conflux of flame surrounds her, a fire tornado to burn and disperse the swarming fliers.

    Arcana follows suit. Her cards spreading out in an orbiting helix around her, glowing in all colours. Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, White and pitch Black. As Theurgus recites, so too does the younger sister. "Sprinkled on the Frame of the Virus! Optimal Code, Red Diode, Fiber Transistor, Move and become the One. Stop and become the Zero. The echo of warring Kernals fills the empty matrix! Way of Destruction number fourty four! Eternal Ice Coffin!" While Diamond Soul is engulfed in a cyclone of flame. Diamond Sister takes its opposite, Ice, and forms a giant cage of sharp spikes, ice crystals erupting from larger 'trunks' forming 'branches' that pierce the unwary, and trap the unlucky within their freezing embrace... trying to clear the air so the Eureka has an easier time adapting to the new situation.

Bahamut has posed:
     Bahamut is quite solid and strong, but even he can only handle so much at once. He growls as he starts to get overrun, having to take a large step back every now and then to keep from falling over with the added weight of the Zerglings. Claw and teeth dig into Bahamut's metallic hide, leaving a multitude of marks and even drawing blood when they happen to hit a less armored area.

     But, there is a benefit to so much damage. The gyro on Bahamut's back is glowing and spinning faster and faster, and small bolts of electricity are starting to arc over his back. If he can just hold the line a bit longer...

     In an attempt to do just that, he starts unleashing some of his magical potential. Explosions of pure energy start erupting in the midst of the dense buildup of Zerglings as Bahamut unleashes Flare spells. No doubt a number of the creatures are making it past him, and he is growling in effort at holding off the rest. Hopefully those behind him can handle the overflow.

     "I should be able to unleash my Mega Flare in a few more moments! I suggest you alert any troops that might be directly down the street from here!" he calls out to Redding.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     For all the energy she spends on crushing the bizarre alien bugs, Septette puts alarmingly little energy into defending herself- not that she seems to need it. It isn't that they aren't threatening, especially in large numbers; these creatures aren't quite like anything she's familiar with, and the state of the city speaks to their rapacious destructiveness.

     It's merely that saying she's built as sturdy as a main battle tank would unduly flatter most tanks.

     One wave in particular buries her under a veritable pile of the nasty things. For several seconds, she's unable to get enough traction or leverage to free herself from the biting, clawing mass- then it erupts in a column of smoke and flames as she casts a fireball directly on her own position. She pulls herself up out of the pile of blackened bodies and shakes herself off, then takes advantage of the momentary respite to look up at the sky.

     Winged creatures that won't conveniently fly within stabbing range? That looks like a particularly ugly Someone Else's Problem.

     For now, she consigns herself to the task of searching for the stranded (or dead?) squad. Another trio of drones pop in near her and disperse, trying to reacquire their position. Just in case, she calls out over the din of battle in a voice that carves itself into nauseating syllables of eerie silence rather than straining to be heard:

     "SQUAD FIVE, RESPOND."

Josuke Higashikata has posed:
If Josuke is within biting range, that means the Zerg are within PUNCHING range! For now he keeps whatever ammo he's managed to grab, both at the base camp and along the way. This means Crazy Diamond has two fists free for punching! It's probably gonna need them, given the amount of these things. Josuke steps back behind his Stand, and Crazy Diamond unleashes a flurry of superspeed punches, its loud, ascending, "DORARARARARARA!" sounding over the flurry of punches.

Doubtless this flurry of attacks is not going to prevent every attack from every Zergling that comes his way. Particularly if there's a incredible flood of them. But hopefully it'll protect him from enough attacks that he doesn't get too seriously hurt. But he's going to get clawed, at least a little.

He's actually aiming for a specific point as he makes his advance -- where the fallen squad was. He wants to see if, against all odds, any of them are still alive. If they are, even just on the fringes of life, he can help. It's dumb, but he wants to at least try to save what lives he can.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone rapid movements are not like a normal Terran even if the Zerglings here can process that? She doesn't know and she doesn't care as she moves to take out the Zerg using her rifle, she bobs bad weaves through the Zerglings and soon the beasts that once had cornered her like this long ago, are now dead. She looks to the civilians smiles faintly at them.

"Go."

She looks up to see more Zerglings as they come falling down towards her, so long as she keeps the Zerglings from going after the people who are fleeing.

She springs into action again leaping to the side kicking off a building and to the next side, as she wall jumps up the newly arrived Zerglings will find themselves coming under fire from Kotone, knows she does not want to fight them on the ground and she'll use the building to bounce about, but she also keenly aware those Zerglings can cut through her shell. The Marines of this worlds power armours as quality protection and the Zerglings can cut through them. So she keeps that in mind as she continues to engage these ones, and hey if these ones are on her? They are not after anyone else.

<<Where there's one there's a thousand of these damn things!>>

She does take note of the warning about Mutaas' air units from the sounds of it. She only knows some of the ground strains of zerg, nothing past that, it seems today she's going to learn more.

Rory White (673) has posed:
    Thankfully, the Eureka's sensors are top-notch. It is basically an Exploration and Research Vessel, so top-notch scanners are a must! The Mutalisks are spotted far in advance! Images are resolved, analyzed, and abilities estimated. Everything from flying speed to maneuverability is calculated using physics models...

    AND THEN, the things open up and start spitting ORGANIC BOMBS at IT!

    The Eureka has only minimal shields and armor, and both are pressed to their limits fast. It is NOT designed for heavy combat! So it immediately begins to turn and swing about to change which side is facing the Mutalisks and lead them on a bit of a chase!

    New ports open along the ship's side... and now, a combination of guided missile swarms are unleashed in full fury, along with the screaming noises of flechette railguns unleashing metal sliver fury at mutalisk wings!

    This one assault is enough to put the Eureka on the defensive, but Rory's going to try to keep the Mutalisks occupied for a while.

    Since not all of the ship's weapons can REACH the Mutalisks, the ones facing downward are still blasting Zerglings...

    "This situation is deteriorating!"

Nova Terra (6381) has posed:
    Iria's rapid fire is on point, mowing down the approaching Zerglings. However for each one that goes down, two more bound over the corpse to continue the charge. This allows them to make progress even in the face of the gun fire. Some of the Zerglings manage to get close, lashing out with their long bony claws.

    Meanwhile Josuke is able to follow in Septette's footsteps thanks to path she has carved. The high speed punches are good at caving in Zergling skulls it seems, allowing him and his stand to back up Septette shortly after her self-imolation blows up the mass of Zerglings. However there is no response from her unhallowed call. And from their position, the two can grab brief glimpses of the troopers a little further down the small street. They're slumped on the ground and against the surrounding buildings, unmoving while the Zerglings happily bound over them. This combined with the slash and stab wounds they each possess is pretty conclusive. There were no survivors.

    Kotone's rapid movements are effective, especially with these Zerg having little driving intelligence beyond a frenzied instinct to kill. It's not long before the Zergling ambush is dealt with, numerous corpses spread out on the street around her. For a moment, there is stillness in the part of the city... Unfortunately it doesn't last, as Kotone will soon begin to hear, and feel, a rumbling sound. If she were to look in the direction of the sound, she would soon see a new stream of Zerglings rounding the corner of a building. They are starting to charge down the street she's on, heading straight towards her!

    Back at the command post, Charta is present to learn that another of the mobile squads has fallen and some of the Zerglings have broken off to take another approach towards the courtyard: The street Kotone is on.

    In the air, Mutalisks start to fall out of it. With even just one of their wings cut, they become useless as they crash down to the ground. Others are caught up in the fire tornado, the flames burning quiet effectively into their flesh. While even more are pierced by the ice shards. The Eureka assists with its missile swarms. Unfortunately, like the Zerglings, the Mutalisk numbers are great. Those that are free to do so begin to fire their explosive organisms at Diamond Soul and Arcana, threatening to overwhelm them through sheer numbers alone. Others continue their assault on the Eureka, though it has lessened somewhat now that it and its allies have properly engaged the flying swarm.

    The Zergling numbers that have breached the courtyard are beginning to dwindle, those Elites doing a good job of minimizing the stream of Zerglings. Especially with the energy explosions from Bahamut sending chunks of sizzled Zergling flying everwhere.

    Of course, Redding and his two escorts are helping... That is until one of the heavy troopers beside Redding suddenly stops firing. Redding shouts at him, "What's your fault, trooper!?" There's no response, the heavy trooper simply falling to crash down on his back. From this angle, Redding can see the shattered visor and the large amount of blood. At first he's confused... They were told that the only hostiles were Zerglings. The arrival of the Mutalisks was unexpected, but not out of the question. However, neither could explain this.

    This time, Redding hears the impact sound. Quickly turning his head to the other side, he spots the large hole in the back of his second escort's helmet, blood beginning to leak out. As a former soldier of the Dominion military, Redding knows a bullet hole when he sees one! But that calibre and that accuracy... "Shit! GHOST!" He didn't think they'd encounter one here!

    Redding's visor flips down as he turns away from the battle in front of him, ignoring the Zerglings as he sweeps his weapon around the area, trying to find the source of the shots.

Iria has posed:
There's a big grin on Iria's face as she mows down the Zerglings with her assault rifle. "Hahaha, you picked the wrong hunter to mess with!" But the grin soon fades as the Zerglings regroup and attack in a larger number this time around. And then they start to swarm the huntress. "Oh, hell no!"

Iria attempts to swat at the Zerglings but there seems to be no end to them. A few of them chew on her cape and she gets really angry at that. "I'll use your skins to make my new cape if I have to!" Iria blurts out, before taking out a grenade from her pocket, pulling the ring, and rolling it towards the swarm, causing a series of smaller explosions like a firecracker.

Josuke Higashikata has posed:
Honestly, Josuke expected that there wouldn't be any survivors. Still, it doesn't prevent a quiet, "...Dammit." Barely heard over the battle. But, on the bright side, he can turn his attention to pummeling Zerglings, and getting that frustration out!

Redding's shout and sudden turning away from the Zerglings is notable -- he wouldn't be doing that if there wasn't a very good reason. That said, the Zerglings are still a problem. So he heads back, to where Redding is. If the soldier's in danger from being overrun, he'll try to keep the Zerglings off him as best as he can.

Though whether the commander needs backup or not, it won't take long before he notices the soldiers dead of something that ISN'T 'Zerg'd to death'. So he'll figure out there's something here that shouldn't be. Well, something ELSE here that shouldn't be. So he warns the others via radio, "Careful, something just took out some of Redding's guys, and it wasn't the Zerglings!"

Theurgus (1103) has posed:
    The air battle is going poorly. The Mutalisks are as driving as heavy snow, their organic missiles detonating and spraying acid against hexagonal blue panels that appear beween them and the two Drive Core Controllers, this doesn't stop them taking damage, but the barriers help to screen off the worst of it, before they shatter, acid pitting the Processors and melting away bits of the pairs body suits. "They are without number. This position is untennable." Diamond Soul says, looking over towards where Diamond Sister is hacking through Mutalisk wings, rending them with the empowered blade of her sword. "Arcana! We must thin the ground force. Assist me with this spell! We must channel the greatest number of the snapping ones into the main boulevard!"

    Arcana twists around a Mutalisk, slashing across it to cut it in two, then kicks off and joins her big sister. "Right!" The pair then dip, fingers of their free hands laced together as they descend. "Guardian Process, Superior Encryption, bring unto us the Processes thine Source Code doth bare; as we render upon thee. Ensure the attempts of the malicious Virri prove fruitless! Annihilate their offenses! Vanquish their hopes! Split the Null!"

    They part, and with a syncronized sweep of their weapons, erect shining Aigis barriers, cutting through the buildings and funneling the Zerglings into one central point. The street indicated by Bahamut. Any Zergling that tries to run through the barrier would find their body rendered asunder by the pure Divine energy, the barriers coming to just beside the giant dragon, ensuring he'll get as many Zerglings in his firing arc as possible.

    They are left exposed though, during this incantation.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     No survivors? Septette confirms they're deceased in a fraction of a second by rapidly examining them with her drones, then glances over her shoulder at Josuke, silently shaking her head. She doesn't know if he can fix 'dead'- but she can't, so there's little point in sticking around.

     The little robot leaps atop a nearby building to get a vantage point on the battle once again, assessing its ebb and flow- and then one of the troopers in the courtyard below twitches ever-so-slightly, his visor shattering and splotching with blood. Instantly, she realizes something is wrong. Her earfins twitch and her eyes glow a brilliant purple as her mind ramps up into a dilated perception of time, racing at incalculable speeds until the world seems to flow like syrup.

     To Septette, the outside world seems nearly frozen in the fractions of a second after the shot. The soldier slumps forward agonizingly slowly. Frustration turns to confusion turns to panic in Redding's demeanor. And then, finally-

     A tiny gleam in the air on the opposite side of the courtyard, in the middle of the stream of refugees. The bullet travels through the crowd of civilians in an uncanny display of marksmanship- even reacting instantaneously, it's physically impossible for Septette to intervene before it strikes the second trooper down.

     But she can do the next-best thing. Leaping off the rooftop, she slams down on the other side of the crowd of civilians and raises her hand. Her palm glows with a red magical circle before spewing flames in, sweeping across the seemingly empty areas of the courtyard. If her intuition is correct and her luck is right, this might flush the assassin out.

     If she's really lucky, it'll bait them into shooting her.

Bahamut has posed:
     Bahamut waits as long as he can, but with all the reports of people being overrun and the fall of the armored troops behind him to some unseen force he can't wait any longer. He suddenly vaults backwards, his wings giving him a boost. Hopefully that dislodges any Zerglings hanging onto him, but if not he will just have to handle the straglers after.

     His vault carries Bahamut backward quite a distance in a reverse somersault before he lands on all fours. He growls as he firmly digs in each of his hands and feet, his claws punching deep into the ground. Then he opens his maw toward the incoming horde. If any of his allies are leading enemies into the killzone, they don't have much time. Energy starts to build up in front of Bahamut's snout as the golden gyro that hovers behind his shoulders starts to spin faster and faster, and the energy that has been arcing from it starts to arc into that building energy. Blue, grey, and white all swirl in the building energy sphere. It grows until it is nearly as broad as Bahamut himself, then there is a bright flash before...

     MEGA FLARE!

     The sphere erupts in a beam of swirling blue and grey and white energy as tall as Bahamut himself! It engulfs the entire street, saturating anything hit with pure energy to the point that it disintegrates, explodes, or at the very least bursts into vigorous flame! It should be plenty to deal with all the little Zerglings and other creatures in its path!

     The beam is sustained for several long moments, then the land in the path of the beam erupts in explosions of its own, but somehow they are quite directional, the fiery blasts flowing upward and hopefully catching quite a few of those Mutalisks in the destruction! When the energy beam and explosions finally clear, Bahamut stands up slowly and lets out a mighty roar before trying to finish off any Zerglings that might have been hanging on to him.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
There has to be smarter Zerg than these Zerglings, Kotone is certain of that but for these one she will make use of their lazer focus on killing. She's able to clear them out with enough work but something seems to be wrong she hears a rumbling noise and there are even more of the coming right at her? Oh hell she'll drop several plasma grenades set to time delay hopefully long enough to get some of the Zergling horde.

She's then trying to get to higher ground where she can as being in the street would be a hell of a bad idea for her, help would be very welcome right now.

She gets to somewhat higher ground and will lay down her two gun turret drones, hopefully they will also help waylay the Zerg Rush in combination with the explosives she left behind.

Rory White (673) has posed:
    The Eureka, moving with expert precision at Rory's guidance - as, at the moment, she has no physical body but the ship itself! - takes notice of the thinned Mutalisks, and the assault now being aimed at Diamond Soul and Arcana! The ship burns hard and swings about in a very lopsided one-eighty, while still constantly unleashing a hailstorm of fire and trying to rotate out fresh hull plating into harm's way to avoid a breach.

    Across the ship's hull, small service ports open up and out scurries little beetle-shaped, dog-sized drones that swarm like insects! But their job isn't to fight. Oh no. They're beginning repairs in the middle of battle, slapping new hull plating into place and using Engineering Nanites to smoothly seal it into place. The repairs are slow, but every little bit helps keep the ship aloft!

    Still, the fact that they move very much like social insects on a mission may be mildly disconcerting. It's yet another example of the Biomimicry that Rory seems to love employing for extra efficiency!

    The ship finishes turning... and hits maximum burn for what's safe in atmosphere. A roaring boom noise thunders from the Fusion Thrusters and it begins its best attempt at a CHARGE through the nearest concentration of mutalisks. More ports open and --

    And out she sends a swarm of tiny songbird sized drones normally used to map cities, with their exterior stripped off. So they're very shiny, and all armed with laser pointers, and incredibly manueverable!

    She sets them to harassing the Mutalisks with divebomb manuevers and laser pointers to their eyes and other such tactics, hoping that their feral instincts will lead to SEVERE distraction!

Nova Terra (6381) has posed:
    The weakness of a Zergling swarm is definitely AOE weapons. Iria's grenade explodes multiple times, blasting bits of Zergling into the air briefly disrupting their charge. But just for a moment. Those that survived shake off the blasts before resuming their running. Bone-clawed limbs swipe at the bounty hunter.
The loss of the two heavy troopers, plus Redding's distraction, does mean that the handling of the breaching Zerglings is weakened. But Josuke's return helps to mitigate that, his Stand's punches once more knocking out Zergling teeth and sending others tumbling through the air.

    As dumb as they appear to be, the Zerglings recognise the danger of the Aigis barriers after the first few try to charge through them. This begins to funnel the Zerglings exactly where Theurgus wants them to go. This proves extremely effective as soon after, Bahamut unleashes his MEGA FLARE! The beam of energy rips up Zergling, street and building alike. The Zerglings caught dead center are all but vaporized. The ones on the edge are charred beyond recognition. As the beam finally dies down, it reveals a completely wrecked, but empty, street. The Zergling force that had breached the side street is reduced to just a small handful that had already made it past Bahamut's guard. It shouldn't be hard to clean them up.

    The majority of the Zerglings that were charging Kotone suddenly found themselves funneled into another street and subsequently dead. However, some had managed to get ahead of the barrier's formation and continued their approach. As explained earlier, grenades prove effective in destroying many of them. Those that remain are quickly dealt with by the two turrets. After Bahamut's massive attack, nothing remains of the Zerglings that had broken through to Kotone's street.

    Rory's gamble seems to work! The Eureka's mapping drones prove to be a good distraction to the instinctual Mutalisks. Quite a number of them break off from the attacks against the larger ship and also the floating magical girls. They begin to dogfight with the drones, lobbing their little explosive children at the deceptively harmless devices.

    Septette's calculations are quite accurate. Unfortunately by the time she arrives (even if it's a very SHORT time) there's no obvious shooter there. And her flames don't appear to catch any that might have been hidden in waiting. For unfortunately for Septette, the shooter had not planned a third shot.

    Redding sweeps the courtyard with his rifle, breathing start to pick up. Then finally he sees it, "There!" He pulls the trigger, unloading at... Nothing. No wait, there's a barely noticeable blur in the air moving towards Redding! Suddenly his rifle goes flying up into the air, dislodged from the mechanical hands of his Marine Armor. A moment later his large bulk is knocked backwards, hitting the ground on his back and breaking up the concrete ground before he finally stops. His armour then shakes from something landing atop it and soon after, his visor shatters. An indent forms in his cheek and Redding goes still.

    Above Redding's armour, a blue light begins to spread out as the figure standing atop him begins to be revealed. Forming fitting bodysuit, supported by the occasional piece of light armour containing sections emitting a glowing light. The figure is easily recognised as female, her face soon revealed with a high-tech visor over her eyes, a short, blonde ponytail on her head. The cloaking field finally fades completely, revealing the large rifle in her hands, the barrel of which is pressed against Redding's cheek.

    The female stealth operative, apparently called a 'Ghost', demands sharply, "Tell me where it is!"

    Redding spits at her, "Fuck you, Dominion dog. I won't tell you anything!"

Nova Terra (6381) has posed:
    The Ghost just smirks at the denial, "You already did." For a moment it looks like she is going to pull the trigger. But she then suddenly leaps backwards off Redding's armour, arcing through the air before landing on her feet and making a mad dash back across the courtyard. She's heading for the command post-No. For the warehouse just beyond it. The troopers in the post are confused by the Ghost's presence and actions. However, the heavy troopers guarding the warehouse are a lot more reactive. They raise their weapons and begin to pepper the approaching Ghost with gunfire, putting the evacuating civilians at risk of being hit by stray rounds!

    Meanwhile, Redding is briefly confused as to why the Ghost didn't kill him. But then sounds of Zergling feet pounding the concrete close by give him his reason... They're charging him. And he has lost his rifle!

Iria has posed:
The grenade does its work, but the Zerglings are still coming after Iria. She swats them off of her, ignoring how ripped her cape is (Fujikuro will fix it up) and tries to pull back to get a better aim at the Zerglings with her rifle. "Running out of ammo, but these things can't last forever!" Iria thinks aloud.

Theurgus (1103) has posed:
    Charta is in the command post, and her confusion is much shorter lived than the regular troopers. Charta is not an antiviral program, not even on the par to one of Tutela's drone wardens, but she does have Magick on her side. She darts out of the tent, spreading her arms as a pair of fairy-like wings emerge from her back, made purely of magical energy. "If I do nothing, many will die. If I do this, fewer may die... the needs of the many... Forgive me." The little bookfairy 'slides' into position, a spell circle erupting up beneath the Ghost's feet... and the Heavy Troopers. "Unleash the power of the Tome! I SHALL ERASE YOU FROM EXISTENCE! Emergent Domain!" Four orbs, one red, one blue, one green and one yellow, form at the cardinal directions, and... with the briefest of warnings, erupt in beams that intersect at the center of the circle, causing a contained explosion of chaotic energy.

    Theurgus and Arcana are too slow and too far away to make any difference to that engagement, so instead move to help contain the strays still trickling into the courtyard. "Be safe... Charta..." muses Theurgus solemnly.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     The arc of flames pours across the empty section of the courtyard. Nothing, nothing, nothing... Did they get away?

     Septette gets her answer a moment later. No- not exactly. It all happens too quickly for her to reach Redding again... but over open ground, she feels confident she can outrun a squishy! It only takes her a second or two to figure out where the Ghost is heading and calculate a route to cut her off. It's agonizing tearing herself away from Redding, but--

     But no. She can't do it. What if nobody else can rescue him? A real human being's life isn't more important than some nebulous objective in an internecine war. She swoops in over the fallen CO, unceremoniously heaves him over her shoulder with inhuman strength, barbecues just enough zerglings to keep them at bay, and sprints out of reach of the zerg rush.

     A moment later, in a safer part of the courtyard, she drops Redding- hopefully on his feet!- and shoves a rifle taken from a nearby dead marine into his hands. Only after he's rearmed does she pause. "You... are you alright? Anything broken?"

Bahamut has posed:
     Bahamut only has a few moments to admire his handiwork before the female operative pins down Redding. He growls menacingly but doesn't move forward until she leaps away. He could probably intercept her before she reaches the warehouse, but to him the commander has higher priority. He leaps as soon as it becomes clear that he is defenseless against the Zerglings that come rushing in and puts himself between the Zergs and Redding. "Recover your weapon!" he roars out as he sends a burst of Flare magic into the approaching group, then starts swinging his gigantic claws at those that close in on them.

     But, he may not have to worry about it anyway as Septette moves in. He snorts draconically before making his way toward the warehouse. "Whatever you are after will be useless if you are captured or killed!" he roars out toward the Ghost.

Josuke Higashikata has posed:
No, unfortunately, 'dead' is a little too far gone for Josuke to fix. And as Septette shakes her head, he does the same. There isn't time for much more than that. But it's a confirmation. There's nothing he can do to help now.

Hopefully he's out of the way of Bahamut's Mega Flare. It's so bright! "Whoa!" He has to cover his eyes to shield them from the light. With luck it won't mean he ends up dead. Crazy Diamond can still punch, and IT can still see, so there is that...

He uncovers his eyes, and his vision returns... just in time to note the threatening Ghost standing over a downed Redding. His eyes go wide. "Commander!" No, Redding's not HIS commander, but the rank is easier right now. He starts heading back, but it's not going to be in time...

It's with an immense relief that he notes Septette swooping in to help Redding, with Bahamut apparently behind her. He follows too, to take care of whatever Zerglings Bahamut doesn't get. And as Septette asks after Redding's condition, Josuke gets his Stand to try and fix at least the armor. A shattered visor means less protection, if nothing else.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
With help from the barrier and Bahamute the Zerglings coming down this street are handled, there are more Zerg, sure. There are always more and she's now moving to recover her turrets back into the mater manipulator and is making ready to head out. Then she catches sight of something at range as she sees the commander has gone down, she has no idea of the local political dealings between the various Terran factions, however. Fighting the Zerg puts such concerns aside normal. She will sling her rifle over her back.

Then breaks into a run at inhuman speed again comparable to a car going through the average city speed limit on her Earth. She'll be there shortly and it sounds like there's another actor in this mess they have to deal with. If it's not one thing? It's another.

Rory White (673) has posed:
    Finally, the Eureka is no longer in imminent danger! Sparks fly from its hull where the Mutalisks pelted it. Major gashes have been made into the superstructure, but its sturdy Metamaterial construction holds together quite well. The ship might not be covered in dedicated armor, but whatever lightweight material comprises the hull is amazingly strong and resilient on its own. If only there were MORE of it...

    But, then, it probaly wouldn't be able to fly in atmosphere nearly this well.

    With the Mutalisks thinned and distracted (and Rory's Muse adding a new batch of Bird-drones to the construction queue for the next week or two), the Eureka swerves and tries to get itself into a position above the Courtyard where it can turn its considerable suite of sensors towards the task of isolating the assassin.

    Which is currently quite easy because she's not cloaked.

    A SPOTLIGHT of all things is flicked on. More to get the agent's attention than anything else.

    "I don't know the local laws or factions at play here, but attacking the only militants able to keep these creatures at bay while civilians are trying to escape the slaughter is difficult to excuse. Who are you? Why did you do this?!"

Nova Terra (6381) has posed:
    Shot after shot from Iria's rifle dig into the Zerglings approaching her, sending them collapsing. The numbers are quickly falling though! Bahamut's magic blasts more of them away, his claws cutting through those that get close. Finally, shortly before Iria runs out of ammo, the final Zerglings drop from her shots and Bahamut's swipes. The battles on the main defense lines, and in the air, are still going on. But the courtyard has been cleared and there are no more Zerglings come down the side-streets.

    Redding actually seems even more paniced as he is assisted by Septette, missing her words as he watches the Ghost dash towards the warehouse. He cries out desperately, "No! Stop her!"

    It seems that Charta has heard the CO's words even before he shouted them. As the Ghost weaves across the courtyard ground in her charge through the heavy trooper fire, she is briefly distracted by the spotlight suddenly shining down upon her. And at that moment the magic spell forms on the ground and proceeds to errupt. The look of surprise on the Ghost's face is only partially concealed by her visor. She was not expecting that! Both the Ghost and heavy troopers are thrown off their feet by the magic blast, getting somewhat scorched in the process.

    However, the Ghost is determined to complete her objective, regardless of Bahamut's words. A compartment on her right wrist opens through no obvious action of hers. From it, a spherical object (fairly obviously a grenade) goes flying. The Ghost is sent flying away from the warehouse, crashing into the ground and skidding across it to smash into the foundation of a statue. Meanwhile the grenade arcs through the air towards the warehouse doors, bouncing a few times before rolling to a stop just against them. It then explodes.

    The warehouse doors are ripped apart and blown inwards by the explosion. After the smoke disperses, the building's interior can be seen. And at its centre is a large device, glowing and humming with energy. It's purpose is not immediately recognizeable.

    ... "THE SOUTHERN DEFENSE HAS BEEN BREACHED!" Sure enough, amidst all the chaos, the main southern defense has been overrun. Zerglings of countless number are streaming down the large street to the courtyard.

    From her position slumped against the base of the statue, still recovering from the magic blast, the Ghost calls out to whoever can hear her, "Destroy the device! It's calling the Zerg here!"

Theurgus (1103) has posed:
    Charta slumps on her book, falling out of the air as her system goes into stasis lock to reboot. Using her EX Driver at that level is dangerous even in The System. Out here, while using such a tenuous link to their Drive that the Relay provides, and competing with the much more combat oriented Drive Core Controllers in their ascended forms, just doesn't leave much to sustain the Oracle program.

    Theurgus and Arcana turn from the cleanup. The sourthern perimeter has been breached, and some strange device has been revealed. "Arcana, destroy the device. I will attend to our Oracle." says the elder to the younger.

    "R-Right!" Arcana nods, then forms a wall of force which she kicks off of, aiming for that device and the warehouse it was stored within. "Seeping vessel of tubidity, arrogant vessel of lunacy. Boil forth and deny, grow numb and flicker, distrupting cycles. Crawling Kernal of fiber, eternally self destructing doll of Base. Unite, Repulse. Fill with fragment and know your own powerlessness. Way of Destruction, number 99. Faraday's Requium!"

    Arcana's blade clanks shut, from the tri-slit formation it was in, and all the Yellow cards that orbit her form up before her. She slashes through them in a complex pattern, as she aims to slam her blade into the device itself, and unleash the full force of her Lightning-aspected spell within its shell. "HYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" KRSH BWM.

Iria has posed:
Now down to her last clip, Iria is glad to find out that they've isolated the source of this whole problem. "That thing?" Iria says. "All right, let's do this!" She opens fire with her rifle, spraying machine gun fire at the device in hopes of taking it out once and for all."

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     Septette stares into Redding's visor as Josuke knits it back together. A little light circles her irises once, like a 'loading' spinny display. She doesn't take her taloned hands hands off of him.

     What do we know? The Defenders of Man profit in their agenda by having settlements to defend. Perhaps they profit more than they lose. These zerg are 'feral'; describing them as feral implies they can ordinarily be controlled somehow. They show no sense of self-preservation and are biologically optimized for fighting, hinting at their use as bioweapons or expendable drones.

     Who would oppose the Defenders of Man? The Dominion. Would the Dominion profit from this settlement being destroyed? Likely not. The Dominion would, however, profit from an end to zerg attacks, as this would make the Defenders of Man unnecessary. The Defenders have more of a motivation to cause this attack than the Dominion has to lie about the device. Conclusion...

     Septette places her hands on either side of Commander Redding's neck. Her touch is ever-so-light, but in her skeletal arms there is enough force to crush a car- as the green ooze still dripping from her attests. Her expression is perfectly placid; her tone even and smooth.

     "Explain this."

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
It is a gamble to blow this thing., yet she does trust Septette, she trusts Josukle and knows of his ability to fix things. She makes the call aas the southern defence line has been breached. They will be over run soon, there is little time. She will ready her rifle and will line up a shot against the device, she'll line up a shot, then open fire, sedning not one burst of fire, but emptying all the ammo she has left in the clip into the mysterious device. She prays though this isn't the wrong call with what that other operative whomever they are? Has said about the device.

Josuke Higashikata has posed:
Things sort of happen all at once then, and there's a surge of Zerglings (a Zerg rush, if you will). There will be people with enough firepower looking to blast the device that's supposedly luring the Zerg to this location -- if this Ghost can be believed. She DID kill two soldiers without being prompted, and attacked Redding. But Septette has a point -- if the machine ISN'T calling the Zerg, he can repair it.

For now, though, he goes to try to hold off the Zerg streaming into the courtyard. Not just with his Stand, either. With a gift from his ancestor. It might not help, but there's no harm in trying, right? And besides, it's another opportunity to practice it. He pulls Crazy Diamond back, in fact -- just a little, so only its upper body rises above him.

Josuke stills, closes his eyes... and takes deep breaths, completely filling and then emptying his lungs. Inhale. Exhale. He looks as though the chaos of battle isn't even reaching him. And then with a deep inhalation, his eyes open -- anybody who's seen Jonathan Joestar in action might recognize it as preparation for delivering pain. And then?

He gives a loud cry of focused effort, and the closest Zerglings to him are going to get a barrage of punches aimed at them from Crazy Diamond. But it's not just punches. Crazy Diamond is still in contact with Josuke, and the energy his breathing is producing is being channeled into the Stand. The punches probably aren't going to hurt as much as if the Zerglings were undead, but the energy should provide a little extra 'oomph' nonetheless.

Bahamut has posed:
     Bahamut's eyes widen at the device and the Ghost's words. Could...could this be true? He cannot explain it fully, but he feels as though the Ghost would not have come here during such an attack just to destroy a random device.

     The destruction will have to be handled by someone else, though. Bahamut hears that the southern defense has failed and he immediately makes his way that direction. It is basically his function: placing himself between mindless dangers and the innocent. He joins Josuke on the front line, but keeps a bit of distance between them so he doesn't have to worry about all those punches. With his Mega Flare still recharging, Bahamut has to rely on his smaller Flare spell. Still quite dangerous, but not nearly as widespread. He can hit several at once with it, at least. He also sends out bursts of his special ability, Impulse. Trios of explosive energy orbs about the height of a man that give up a bit of damage in order to hit more enemies at once. "I hope the destruction of that device will send these creatures on their way! If not, we might be in trouble!" he roars out as he slashes one of the Zerglings that gets past his spell barrage.

Rory White (673) has posed:
    Considering all of the ATTENTION that goes towards the device, Rory actually turns all of her scanners towards that - and this means the Ghost can slip away largely unchallenged by the AGI's watchful sensors!

    Because the signal coming from it - now that she's directly in the line of it - is lighting up all over the spectrum and causing all kinds of strange interference on her scanners!

    Almost as if it was just... "Pure noise?" It's weird, and VERY out of the ordinary. Coupled with what her microphones pick up from the agent that just fled...

    A bunch of rapid analysis is done, and Rory turns all of her weapons towards the device--

    But, with so much ELSE being brought to bear against it, she only deploys the lasers, to make sure there's no collateral from shrapnel or explosions!

Nova Terra (6381) has posed:
    The Zerglings charging from the south were so clustered together that Josuke's attack creates a visible shockwave of Zerglings being smashed back by the punches. As if he'd just thrown a stone into a lake. The Zerglings immediately at the front, those that weren't blown apart by Bahamut's magic, are pulverized into chunks of flesh. Those a little further back suffer numerous fractures to their bones. And the remainder are all briefly shocked still by the shockwave. It doesn't last, but it does buy a few precious seconds and in this situation, every single one counts.

    The device is definitely not built to handle attacks from a group of elites. Gun fire from both Iria and Kotone spatter against it, digging in holes and causing electrical short circuits. Arcana's blade slices in deep, releasing its lightning blast directly into the device's internal structure. The hum of energy grows louder, discharges of electricity start arcing across its surface... And then the Eureka's lasers sweep across it, cutting through its delicate structure and the device just dies, lights instantly vanishing and the hum of energy fading. The device now sits there like a giant paperweight.

    The effect on the Zerg is practically instant. They all stop. The Zerglings on the ground halt their charge, mere moments from Josuke, Bahamut and the courtyard. They raise their heads high as if listening to something. The Mutalisks have stopped too, just hovering in the air with slow flaps of their wings.

    And then all the Zerg act as one. The Zerglings all turn around, beginning to run out of the city at a slightly (but not much) more sedate pace than when they had charged in. Meanwhile the Mutalisks are flying upwards, starting to head into orbit. The attacks have stopped.

    The Ghost pushes herself up into a sitting position with the help of her rifle, then leans against the statue behind her. She breathes a sigh of relief.

    Those civilians that were still trying to get through the warpgate have all stopped their rush, looking on in disbelief. The Defenders of Man troopers are likewise astonished by this turn of events... Most of them, anyway. Those wearing the heavier suits of armour-who are still alive-look a little defeated. As for Redding: The look in his eyes is one of pure fury, especially after seeing the device destroyed. He begins to choke as Septette's hands wrap around his neck, but through the strained breathes he manages out, "G-Go. To. H-Hell!" He seems willing to die to keep his secrets.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     Septette's expression is unnaturally still, even as the device in the warehouse dramatically shuts down and the zerg swarm retreats. Not a trace of the exhiliarating joy she feels reaches her face. Her grip remains just tight enough to uncomfortably restrict his breathing, but her hands grow uncomfortably warm, and then-

     It burns, even through his armor- just enough to sear his skin without cooking the blood vessels or burning his esophagus. But just as quickly as the heat arrived, it dissipates, replaced with the hissing quench of ice magic.

     "Let me tell you," Septette enunciates quietly, "what is going to happen."

     "You have a full-circumference burn around your throat. I've just hydrated it. Over the next two to three minutes, the burn scars will constrict like a necklace, squeezing your neck and cutting off the blood supply to your brain. You will be able to feel your brain dying before you lose consciousness, drowning on land. I will fix it if you answer my questions. I suggest you do so while you can still speak."

     "First. Do the Defenders of Man have other beacons, and if so, where are they?"

     Unless the Ghost or her teammates intervene, it's unlikely she's going to let him go.

Bahamut has posed:
     With the Zerg withdrawing, Bahamut lets out a low and rather menacing growl and looks with one large eye toward the commander. "These creatures may be dangerous, but you are the monsters if you would endanger a world simply to fill your pockets." he says, then as Septette goes to work on Redding the dragon goes to the Ghost and offers a hand up. "It would seem we were unwitting accomplices to a terrible crime. I thank you for your help." he says before blinking as he hears Septette's words. He snorts in that draconic way, then picks up the Ghost if she requires or requests it and makes his way toward Septette. "I cannot allow such interrogation techniques. We can take him with us and interrogate him in a proper facility before he is faces criminal action." he says, his look quite stern. "If you do not agree, it could lead to...problems. And I do not wish to fight a comrade in arms."

Josuke Higashikata has posed:
    Josuke is glad the Hamon had the effect he was hoping for. He's not sure how long he can keep this up, so he really hopes that the destruction of that machine stops the Zerglings. He'll support the front lines as long as he can in the meantime, though.

Fortunately, no sooner does the machine die a grisly electronic death than the Zerg stop and move off somewhere else. Which initially brings a sigh of relief. But with that, and the way he resists Septette's attempts to get information, it also brings an uncomfortable realization...

Redding knew exactly what this machine would do... and he not only stayed here himself, but forced his soldiers to stay. He forced them to stay in a hopeless battle... He KNEW they were going to die, and he brought them here and made them stand in the path of what would have been an endless tide of these things...

Josuke's fists clench at his sides as he restrains his anger with great effort. He may be a more-or-less nice guy... but he's still a Joestar, and more than one of them are known for having terrible tempers when one DOES manage to raise their ire. Consider his ire raised!

But no. Rather than pummeling Redding's face in -- there are probably plenty of people waiting to do that -- he decides to channel it into something constructive. He'll go find the 'Ghost', and offer, "Are you all right? I can heal you." She may be an enemy of the Defenders here, but she helped them. Besides, the Defenders aren't really looking very much like the 'good guys' right now. So... yeah.

Theurgus (1103) has posed:
    Theurgus, releasing her transformation and cradling Charta gently in one arm, approaches Septette, her blue eyes cold and calculated, a far cry from the playful mania from earlier. She listens to the Yggdroid, then shakes her head. "The Concord has far better ways to extract information than this." she says evenly. "Whatever he knows, we can get it from him back in the Citadel, I am certain of it."

    Arcana, pulling her blade from the dead carcass of the beacon, turns to look at the Ghost. She releases her own transformation, dismissing her weapon into inventory and approaching the operative. She looks pensive, then bows formally. "I must apologize for my companion's actions... she was acting to protect the civilians from the crossfire." she says, before straightening. "If I may ask... who are you... and, who do you work for?" a slight pause, before a more negotionating tone enters her young sounding voice. "We may be able to come to some accord, between our two groups."

Nova Terra (6381) has posed:
    Redding cries out at the pain of the burning, then quietens again as it eases. He still has a defiant look though as Septette explains his fate. And when she finally asks her question, he responds quickly, "Yes. Hundreds. In multiple bases."

    "He's lieing. He doesn't know either way." That was the Ghost. After accepting Bahamut and Arcana's apology and offered hand to stand, she joined Bahamut in walking over to the interogation. She smirks at the sight of Redding in pain and at the mercy of Septette as she explains, "He's too far down on the totem pole to know for sure. He suspects... No, he hopes they have more, but he doesn't know."

    Redding glares at the Ghost, "STAY OUT OF MY HEAD, YOU FREAK!" The Ghost's expression twitches just a bit at the insult, but she recovers quickly to say, "Make me."


    In response to Arcana's earlier question, the Ghost introduces herself, "I'm Nova Terra. A Ghost with the Dominion military." To Theurgus she says, somewhat firmly, "This... Person-" She says this with some disdain, "-is now a prisoner of the Dominion. Along with all remaining members of the Defenders of Man here." She looks at Septette, "So, as much as I hate to say this, I would appreciate it if you don't kill him just yet."

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     Septette... doesn't quite relax her grip. In fact, she shallowly cuts the skin (and only the skin) of Redding's throat open from chin to collarbone with one sharpened finger- and instantly, the building pressure around his neck releases; the constricting scars pull the superficial gash open instead of inexorably choking him.

     Then, and only then, do her hands fall to her sides. She takes one step back, and suddenly the warmth and expression flood back into her face- she even gives Josuke a congratulatory grin, before turning to the Ghost and adopting a slightly more formal demeanor as she inclines her head respectfully.

     "Pleased to meet you, Nova Terra. It seems your interrogation techniques are... considerably more sophisticated than those we are ready to deploy. My only concern is that future tragedies like this are averted, so releasing him into your custody seems best."

     She's capable of being remarkably hostile to someone whose life she just saved, and startlingly amiable towards a person she just tried to barbecue.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa has helped to take out the device and it seems things were not as they seem to be with the Zerg now just turning about to leave? That just leave her rather shocked it seems to be on the level and she'll look, right at the man and Septette. Then she llooks to the Ghost.

She understand local governments and will nod to the Ghost for a moment.

"All right then."

She gives a look to Nova for a moment.

"Nova Terra? The name is Kotone Yamakawa. Is there anything you can share about these guys with us?" She looks to the Commander for a moment then back to Septette, mental note, do not get on bad side of her ever if she can avoid it.

Bahamut has posed:
     Bahamut finds the sudden outburst from Redding a bit offensive himself, as one who was considered somewhat of a freak for much of his life. So as Nova Terra makes her introduction he simply stands tall behind her, arms crossed over his chest in his standard heroic stance. "Their authority supercedes ours in this dimension. As Nova Terra's actions seem to demonstrate the Dominion's desire to protect this world, I agree we can settle our dispute by allowing her to take the prisoners." he says to Septette and Theurgus, then looks to Josuke. "Your combat effectiveness is to be commended. I doubt we could have held off this attack without your help." he says, then turns his head to Nova Terra. "If you need any help securing the rest of these so called Defenders, I will gladly assist."

Josuke Higashikata has posed:
At the words of the Ghost -- Nova Terra, now, since she's introduced herself -- Josuke's eyes go wide. "He... HOPES there are more? He WANTS more people to die?" He shakes his head, looking to Nova. "That doesn't make sense. Why would he want more people to die, if he's supposed to be defending people from those things?"

If she's really interested in looking deeper, Josuke is indeed completely flummoxed by this. There's a kind of innocence there, if she looks -- yeah, this kid doesn't know what's going on, and is quite honestly completely confused as to the situation. But his assistance comes honestly, there's that -- he just doesn't want people to die, and is willing to do just about anything to prevent that.

Bahamut's thanks gets an honest smile. "Thanks. That big beam you did was pretty kewl, too!" That little verbal tic again. And he also offers, "I can help out too, if you need it." Probably not, but the honest offer means something, right?

Theurgus (1103) has posed:
    Theurgus stands holding her friend, the little Oracle known as Charta. She's more than willing to fight this out if someone pushes her, but the knowledge that she's having to protect her friend, that Arcana is far too close to the group opposing her, and the many eyes of civilians that they literally just fought and bled to protect are so close by, stays her provervial and literal hands. "Fine, Though you still speak as if you could stop us." she says, lifting her chin before breaking into a too-wide grin that just streams madness. "We'll play it your way... for now." She uses her free hand to doff her hat, holding it to her chest briefly, before returning it to her head. "I am Theurgus. The Mad Magician... and my timid companion behind you is Arcana, my little sister." She then gestures to the 'sleeping' bundle in the crook of her arm. "And this, though she is unable to greet you properly, is Charta, my friend.

Nova Terra (6381) has posed:
    Nova gives Septette a smile, "Thanks!"

    Redding sees his chance! He quickly pushes himself to his feet and tries to make a dash for the warpgate... Except his body won't move.

    Nova turns her head to look at him, still smiling, "Please. I heard you think that before even you did." Redding cries out in anger as he tries to fight against the invisible force, which lifts him up off the ground and turns him to face Nova. Her eyes bore holes into his, "If it was up to me, I would have shot you in the face. But my superiors want you alive, so be greatful." At Bahamut's offer to help secure the troopers, Nova replies, "As for that..." She stops.

    A roaring sound starts to draw closer to the gathered group, getting quite loud. A sudden strong wind from above picks up in the courtyard, fluttering people's clothes and hair. But nothing can be seen to be causing it. That is until an effect very similar to when Nova revealed herself begins to occur in the air. But this time on a much grander scale. Metal plates are quickly revealed, the decloak effect spreading out across the large ship that is now hovering in the air above the courtyard. It's size rivals that of the Eureka, maybe even a little larger. Nova smiles up at it, "It's about time!"

    Doors on the rear of the hovering ship open and from it, a few squads of Marines jump out, falling down the distance to the ground before landing with large thuds. They're wearing armour quite similar to Redding's, although it has some noticeable differences. Which combined with the fact that theirs is much cleaner and less dented, suggests more modern versions.

    The Marines begin to spread out, starting to herd the DoM troopers. Most are too confused to resist, though some shout things like, "You can't do this!" "We were trying to help!" After dropping off the Marines, the stealth ship proceeds to rise up again before circling around to land on the outskirts of the colony.

    Nova nods in greeting to people as they introduce themselves. Kotone and Josuke's questions are roughly in the same area, so Nova explains, "We're still just scratching the surface uncovering the true intent of the Defenders of Man. But it's clear that they're not who they seem to be. At this point all we can guess is that they are intentionally trying to discredit the Dominion and the Emperor specifically. And they don't care how they go about it."

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     That Septette didn't catch Redding before Nova did is hardly a surprise- the yggdroid was a few paces away, and Nova's response was impressively swift. What's strange is that she didn't appear to try. There wasn't so much as a startle response when Redding started to make a break for it.

     Perhaps that's one way to indicate trust.

     "I do hope that those you confirm had no knowledge of this are treated more lightly," Septette remarks as she stares up at the now-visible dropship. "They lost friends and coworkers here. I'm sure they will- once they understand it- feel incensed by this deception as well." She watches the proceedings for a few more moments, but there isn't very much else for her to say or do. Septette heads back towards the warpgate...

     Carrying a dead zergling over her shoulder. Because you never know what loot you might be able to carve from a monster until you try.

Josuke Higashikata has posed:
Josuke might see the look on Redding's face when he gets the idea to run... but it won't be in time to stop him. Thankfully Nova has that covered. He breathes a sigh as she stops Redding from leaving. "Good. That might have been a real problem." This time he says to Redding, "Look, man. With this crowd, I can't guarantee you won't die if you try that again. And I really don't want to see you die."

Suddenly there's roaring and wind, and Josuke looks around. "What's that?" he asks over the sound. And then the ship decloaks. "...Whoooooa..." he breathes. He is indeed suitably impressed. The Marines from the ship seem to have everything in hand, though he frowns at the protests from some of the soldiers being loaded up. Did they really not know?

Nova answers the question, and he gives a thoughtful pout. "You think they're trying to tell people that it's you guys doing it?" he asks. And then he realizes he didn't introduce himself. "Oh! Sorry about that. My name is Josuke Higashikata." A bow. "Pleased to meet you, but it's too bad it had to be under these kind of circumstances."

Bahamut has posed:
     Bahamut raises an eyebrow and smirks lightly at the use of kewl, but his attention goes back to Theurgus and Septette. "Since it seems to be an important point to you, yes. I am quite confident I could stop you if I had to, but I think that it would be a waste of effort on both of our parts, especially right after we fought side by side to defend these people."

     He gives a slight bow of respect. "Thank you both for your help in this matter. I hope if we meet again it is once more as allies." he says. Then, Redding makes his attempt. Bahamut starts into action...but it turns out he doesn't even have to help. And it seems he won't have to help any more here today. His eyes widen at the sight of that spacecraft appearing, then a grin of appreciation appears on his face. "Impressive." he says, then looks around at the camp. "I suppose if everything is secure I can help with healing if necessary. I have both magic and potions that can heal even serious wounds."

Nova Terra (6381) has posed:
    A couple of the Marines that recently arrive at the group, moving to stand beside the floating Redding. One asks Nova, "Is this him, ma'am?" Nova nods, at which point Redding falls out of the air the short distance back to the ground. The Marines take hold of him and begin escorting him away at gunpoint. Redding just glares at Josuke as he is pushed past the boy by the Marine behind him.

    Nova watches to make sure Redding doesn't try anything, then turns back to the others. To Septette, Nova nods, "The Dominion is just." Well, now it is. She continues, "We do know that the Defenders of Man are recruiting from the colonies they rescue. Chances are they're not telling the volunteers anything specific. If that's the case, their sentence will be light." Nova then nods to Septette as a goodbye, amused by the collection of a dead Zergling. It doesn't seem to be a problem for the Ghost.

    To Josuke, Nova nods at the greeting and then says, "Word of their 'heroics' is definitely spreading through the Dominion. It's causing some issues. However, with what we've learned today, that shouldn't be a problem much longer. Thank you for helping to protect the colony." And to Bahamut she adds, "And help with healing efforts would be appreciated. My forces don't have much in the way of fields Medics. They're reserved for more frontline units."

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa gets her asnwers and nods. "I'm starting to see that." She looks to a lot of the troopers for the Defenders of man though who seem legitly shovcked about this and she seems in agreement with Septette. "I agree about the ones who have been duped, seems like someone is preying on people who wants to help for whatever is behind them using Zerg as weapons. The ones who have been suckered I hope some level of mercy is shown to them."