5970/Red Sky At Morning

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Red Sky At Morning
Date of Scene: 09 August 2018
Location: Exalted-9999 - The West
Synopsis: Heroes attack a Lintha barge to rescue hostages. It turns out to be a little more complicated than that.
Cast of Characters: Empty Tidings, 1161, 6384, 6381, Tomoe, Riva Banari, All-Seeing Eye, 513

Empty Tidings has posed:
The 'River Sprite' is a small, agile, single-masted dhow with a crew of about a dozen. At present, it has been hired by Empty Tidings to take you just away from the sight of shore, following the pilfered Lintha charts to locate the prison barge that is supposed to pass by this way sometime this morning. Fortunately, Captain Zhao seems to know exactly how to ride the river and the currents near the coast to keep up an impressive speed, and no time is wasted reaching the ideal spot of interception.

The mid-morning skies are red, right up until they're grey. Stormclouds roll in, blanketing the horizon in a sheet of rolling grey. Distantly, a shape is visible on the increasingly choppy waves, obscured by fog that it seems to be caught in the leading edge of. It looks like a giant ship, and coming from the direction that the Lintha are supposed to arrive from. That must be the target.

Due Giang and Empty Tidings are both standing near the bow of the ship. Due Giang's cloth-wrapped spear is planted against the deck to keep his footing in the uncertain seas, while Empty Tidings stands as perfectly composed as she would be on solid ground. One of the crew is up the mast, clinging with one and and peering out towards the much larger shape on the horizon. His yelling isn't clearly heard at first, waves breaking against the hull prompting Captain Zhao to call up at him again.

"...not a ship, Captain! It's /not a ship/!!"

Empty Tidings has posed:
All eyes turn forward. The shape finally breaches the fog bank roiling alongside it. Enormous grey shapes seem to rise up out of the sea, grown like shale-colored trees the size of towers. As they become more clear, the shape of it is clear: they /are/ towers, built atop some sort of island of grey stone plates, gathered weeds, and countless layers of barnacles and moss creeping up like grass over a hard, curving surface.

The waves crash against it, and it is unmoved. The 'prison barge' is more like a keep set adrift. The surf gets choppier the closer it gets, its wake as colossal as it is, splitting the sea as it looms over the comparatively miniscule ship. At the front of it, something breaks the surface of the waves: a head, covered in rocky hide, and with a figure draped in rich colors riding near the pointed beak of the creature. It isn't a ship, and it isn't an island... but it is some sort of titanic turtle, of a truly mind-boggling size, set to work hauling this slab of dry land from place to place.

"We should turn back," Captain Zhao says. "Shouldn't we? We are, are we not?"

"Of course not. This is what we were after." Empty Tidings steps up to the ship's prow, raising her voice. It carries over the surface of the sea like she had a megaphone just for being heard in this singular circumstance. "Demon!" she yells. "Your purification is at hand! Come forth! Face the light of judgement and meet your end with honor!"

A man's voice answers, booming, "Judgement? Purification? /Honor/? You speak your own death, riverlander! None may set eyes on this glorious hold but the Lintha and live to tell the tale!"

The giant turtle-fort turns ponderously, ever so slightly shifting its course. It's headed right for you. Near the tops of the towers, enormous shutters are being thrown open. Something slams into the sea off the port side of the ship, a ballista bolt overshooting the small vessel as the gap rapidly closes between them.

Due Giang looks at Tidings like she's lost her mind. She tosses her hair, stepping away from the prow. "What? I heard you do the same, once. I wanted to try it myself." She gestures towards the almost-landmass the ship approaches. "You should do something about that. Slay the leader and I would wager it will be quite simple to control the beast and remove the innocents inside. Simple, no?"

"You're insane," Captain Zhao croaks.

"You're well-paid," Tidings replies with a smile.

Two more bolts land in the sea, closer and closer. The ship weaves through the waters. It's near, but not near enough. It-

A turtle fin breaks the surface and slams back down. An enormous swell sends the ship rolling, nearly capsizing the vessel. Due Giang gets flung overboard, crashing into the sea. Tidings, on her way below deck, stops, turns, and dives into the ocean after him.

You should probably do something about the giant demon-controlled monster before you're all reduced to turtle feed.

Ryu (1161) has posed:
    Ryu stands, in human form, on the deck, staring up at the enormous beast-driven prison. His eyes lift to the towers as Empty Tidings shouts at it. He breathes a sigh and brings a hand up to his face, pressing his fingertips to his forehead and jawbone in an expression of exasperation at Empty Tidings' reasoning about it. Then he says, "Well, fuck it, I guess."

    A flash of light comes from him, and there stands the dragon that did some serious damage to the Due Giang's group one fateful night, a dragon of fae wings and bizarre eyes. He crouches, and launches off the boat with titanic force, the ship likely to list a little from the impact. The reason? He darts toward the nearest anti-ship weapon enclosure, and tries to slam into the weapon(s, probably) with the force of a railgun-launched cannonball, dragon claws and sheer momentum used to their utmost potential.

Orchid (6384) has posed:
     Like anyone really expected things to go as planned. Mind you, Orchid's money was on things going wrong AFTER they had gotten on board the prison ship, but she did have a feeling she'd need more than her usual tools. To that end while she has brought the camera drones that are her usual method of dealing with things, the boxes she opened contain not spiders, but bats. She starts launching these, sending them swarming around the ramparts of the fortress, conveying the information to her, and letting her convey the locations of things like defenders, siege weapons, and other things they might want to hit, to her allies and friends. In particular, she's giving Ryu information he'll need to see where to hit for best results.

She isn't thrown from the ship just yet, clinging onto the rail. Sure, she won't drown, but still sinking would be inconvenient.

Nova Terra (6381) has posed:

    Nova drops the somewhat large weapons case down on the deck beside her. She kneels down to open it, but pauses for a moment as she winces a little. She rubs her leg through her suit for a moment, before opening the case and reaching into it. Producing a thin cylindrical object, she presses it against the skin of her neck, producing a hissing sound.

    Throwing the expended Stimpack over the edge of the ship into the waters beyond, Nova shakes of the initial feeling. She then begins to prepare her equipment, attaching small compartments to her suit. She's listening while she works, pausing for a moment as Tidings' voice booms out through the megaphone. Once she is finished, Nova chuckles, "Yeah, that's a good idea. Announce your assault to the entire prison-"

    Nova finally looks up to see what Zhao meant when he said it wasn't a ship. Her eyes go a little wide at the sight of the large animal, "... Creature?" Some worlds are weird.

    Nova returns to equipping herself, pulling her inactive psi-blade out and attaching it to the back of her suit. Finally she grabs her Canister Rifle and stands, sliding a clip into it and pulling the bolt back to chamber a round. She's ready.

    Nova looks up, surprise quickly registering on her face at the sight of the large wave quickly flowing towards them. Like a number of others, Nova quickly turns, runs and leaps from the ship into the water below. Swimming a couple meters down, Nova turns to look up through the water at the boat on the surface as it capsizes.

    Nova's head bursts out of the water again as she surfaces, looking around as she says, "Well, shit." Nova starts swimming towards the prison turtle, trying to find a way on-board.

Tomoe has posed:
Tomoe knew this was nuts, but what were they going to do here on that? Her violet eyes kept watch on the horizon ahead and finally, they are nearing the target. She knows how dangerous things are on Creation. She should not make light of this. She also hears the response to the challenge that was issued.

"We'll keep them off, you Captain."

She notes to Zhao.

"We kind of are with our line of work."

She looks to the man who had called out a moment before nad the freaking turtle-forge thing that rises from the waters, this thing is huge she was not expecting something like this. She also sees the wave, and that's when her wings flare out. She hopes her words do not ring hollow though as she takes flight on her red angel-like wings and she rises up over the wave and she starts chanting a spell, golden runes dance about her body as she speaks in badly accented nordic.

Then the light rays come ringing down focusing on the head area of the turtle horror as she calls out.

"Come lets see what you can do!"

She's got to keep his attention her, she must keep it on her.

Riva Banari has posed:
Riva probably shouldn't be here. She's fresh from fighting some kind of massive hyperspeed samurai mecha and she's feeling a little down after that. Regeneration can take a lot out of you if you don't want to go into a food coma.

She didn't have that luxury, really. Her Watch sources informed her that there was a thing going down. So she's doing the thing.

This thing apparently involves crashing straight into a floating prison. "Well crap." Riva says as things lurch back and forth. "Is that a giant turtle? Is this turtles all the way down?" Riva asks rhetorically.

Then there's no time for rhetoric as things get smashed and Riva's stomach lurches like the ship does on the waves. "Urk!" She grunts, grimacing. "Okay, no more of that." She leaps from the crow's nest, flipping as she trails golden light that pulses outwards in a hexagonal pattern on impact with the deck, allowing her to land neatly and not like a person who should have just broken their neck or several bones. Straightening, she pushes a hand into a golden ripple and pulls out a large anchor-like weapon, just more angular, like a T with bent sides. The Ajoran Cross is hoisted up onto her shoulder and she grimaces. "Let's get this over with." She says, lunging forward as ballista bolts launch all around her.

A moment later, one of the ballista nests gets a dull THUD as tha anchor impacts the side, hooking onto the edge like a grapple. They get approximately three seconds to notice the tether of light and energy before Riva comes in screaming, spinning as the energy bungees her right into the nest. She flips, grabbing up the Cross as she comes down, driving the weapon at the ballista crew in a powerful impact! "HEY ASSHOLES! PAY ATTENTION TO ME! I'M ALL UP IN YOUR FACE!" She yells like a good tank.

All-Seeing Eye has posed:
     While the fortress approaches from one direction, Due Giang's craft is flanked by another, smaller vehicle. Kicking up a spray of water in its wake, a sleek metal contraption carries All-Seeing Eye to rendezvous with the others. Things become complicated when the ballistae open fire. An angry purple warning flashes across the screen, and the roaring jets of plasma carrying the craft abruptly cut off. It falls to the water, no longer held aloft by spinning turbines but still very much carried by inertia. It slams into the drink, throwing the slender Exalt off. He flies through the air, saved only by a well-timed flick of the wrist.

     As the hoverbike floats uselessly upon the water, Eye's whip curls around the mast of the River Sprite. Momentum carries him forward, twirling him around. Two rotations see him standing upon (relatively) firm ground. Safe for the immediate moment, his next concern is the ballistae fired from the towers. "Hold your position," says the Exalt rather nonchalantly to the crew, "And prepare to return fire." This order might seem arrogant at best, and suicidal at worst--but they'll see he means to back it up.

     The next bolt which menaces the River Sprite is stopped short. Three limbs--two hands, and one leg--are extended in a graceful, lateral flip. A steel cable whip extends from each. The crackling of purple lightning and the smell of ozone follow immediately after. Upon meeting this electric attack, the heavy projectile is not only turned away, but redirected back at the very tower which fired it. Grinning smugly, Eye makes a smarmy remark. "Let us see if they can withstand their own weapons." Pleased though he might be, the effort of reversing such a cumbersome projectile is somewhat apparent--the man's forehead has sprouted a champagne diamond, which sparks and crackles with tiny tendrils of electricity.

Finna (513) has posed:
    With her black hair and highly mixed ethnicity, the guise Finna's chosen might be easily mistaken for a bastard scion of the Blessed Isle sown in An-Teng. Her attire is a mixture of some local fashion elements sprinkled atop more robust traveler's leathers, and the crew would know her only as Gale. She's been quite merry throughout most of the trip, joking and even flirting with some of the sailors.

    She's not afraid of the West's Storm Mothers, who should know better than to interfere with the voyage of one of Luna's Chosen.

    She's on the decks, clinging tightly to what to most eyes (only the very sharpest have a chance to tell otherwise) is an ordinary-seeming but high quality longbow of a heft that her lithe body would seem unsuited to.

    But if anyone dared question her on that, she'd shoot the hat off their head in a heartbeat with it.

    When their target finally is in view... and revealed to be some kind of GIANT TURTLE FORTRESS.. she gapes a bit. Then... grins.

    It's not a happy grin. More than a little nervous. She might have to reveal herself and skip the disguise here...

    She almost feels sorry for Zhao, who's been dragged into a matter that mortals aren't suitable for. A pang of compassion fires up as the waves crash over the boat and the boat rocks terribly, but the girl known as Gale just hops straight up and adjusts her stance with a kind of crazy lean that keeps her from either being hurled off or toppling over. When the boat starts rocking BACK towards the turtle... she controls her slide forward towards the boat's railing while pulling arrows from her quiver and nocking them quickly.

    Arrows with oily, glistening tips. Definitely poisoned.

    Somehow she's got FOUR of them all drawn at once, and so she takes aim and releases them all at once for the Turtle's apparent master!

    There's no flash of anima, no overt sign that the arrows are more than they seem... but they cut through the sky with prodigious speed and accuracy, as if riding wind currents that only Gale could sense were there to exploit!

    "We'll have to take the beast for ourselves to get back to land at this rate!"

Empty Tidings has posed:
Ryu's charge parts mist and hammers into one of the towers. He hits a ballista just shy of head-on, ripping the arms and the cable-like bowstring off the enormous weapon. A pair of operators get tossed out the far window, toppling down towards the sea with echoing screams. The entire room seems to shake from his impact, and it only takes a couple more strikes to reduce the weapon to splinters.

Which is when the entire room drops out of the tower. It falls like an elevator set into free-fall, the stone floor and ceiling seemingly connected by growths of coral allowing both to get dragged down simultaneously. If Ryu doesn't do something quick, he's going to get smashed against the ground a long ways below, and it isn't going to be pretty!

Meanwhile, bats swarm the place. It's... big. It's hard to see all of it, even from up high. The siege engine crews are numerous, and can be spotted out. It looks like it's all enclosed by curtain walls that run up to the sea. Orchid can also spot what looks like a bunch of soldiers escorting a mob of men and women dressed in orange and white being hastily escorted into one of the central structures. Archers begin to take to the walls.

They also begin to take shots at the bats. Bats don't go out to sea quite like that. Maybe try seagulls next time?

Tomoe's light rays strike home. The massive beast's head turns, eyes closing and a rumbling noise rolling through the air like long, basso thunder. It dips its head towards the sea, the brightly-colored figure atop it jumping back and running up onto the shell as the vulnerable turtle-head submerges. Up close, she can see that he isn't wearing bright clothes at all: he's technically naked, but covered in coral growths that mimic armor grown from his flesh from nearly all his exposed skin from the chest down. It's a beautiful array of colors, but the actual shapes make him out to be covered in hooks and barbs.

He unlimbers a huge, curved sword from his back. The man yells, swinging it horizontally, sweeping it back and forth and sending cuts of sprayed liquid shooting into the air like watery bolts. It's got a sheen like oil on the surface of the water, each bolt launched like a collection of anti-air shells towards Tomoe, and, upon connection, she'll find that they burn like the awful contact poison they are.

Orchid (6384) has posed:
     Seagulls might have been a better choice, but the list of robot animals Orchid could call on for this mission didn't include anything that looked like a bird. Still, they're doing their jobs, gathering information even as they are shot out of the sky. About half of them keep doing that, while the other half start dive-bombing the crew-served weapons. They are sacrficial in this battle, and will jam themselves into the workings, if that's what it takes to stop them... but mostly they're attacking the springs such weapons require, those being the weakest parts.

     As for the reploid herself, she's still on the ship, waiting for the right moment to cross over. She's also relaying what she's seeing.

Empty Tidings has posed:
Riva does the Riva Thing. That involves charging something that ought not be charged from a range that ought not be easily traversed. Obviously, she does not care about words like 'ought,' which ought not be used quite as much as they have been in the last two sentences, because she's suddenly right up in their grill.

The impact knocks one of the crew members clear off the nest. The other two are only momentarily stunned. One gets up in her face, yelling, mouth opening unnaturally wide and pointed serpent's teeth put on display as he waves a long, broad knife threateningly. She has reach, and he isn't a problem.

More problematic is the fact that the other one has swung the ballista around and pointed it right at her at point blank range. Now would be a good time to duck.

Nearby, another tower gets slammed by a return bolt. Eye's flung shot tears out one of the walls supporting the roof, tilting it over and sending it falling towards the wall. The stone rooftop cracks the battlement, smashing the walkway and carving a dip out in the relatively thin wall, a V-shaped chunk ripped off and exposing a gap that Lintha defenders stagger away from rather than rushing to fill. It's not quite down to sea level, but it's absolutely an opening to get inside...

The nearest towers occupied as they are, it's on the archers to return fire -- which they do, in staggered masses, sending arrows towards the ship and peppering the deck and those on it. The sailors have taken cover, some returning fire blindly with self bows while other scream, the V-shaped arrowheads biting flesh and leaving awful wounds. Eye might be more resilient than most, but even he has to worry about sheer volume.

Meanwhile, more attention is drawn towards the man who just vacated the turtle head. Not!Finna sees her arrows strike home, two sticking into the coral armor of the man, one hacked out of the air with a sweep of his daiklave, and the last catching him in an exposed portion of flesh just over his ribs. The poison... doesn't seem to slow him down. He bleeds, but he bleeds an iridescent fluid that isn't quite like blood.

He points his daiklave at the ship. A bubble of some kind forms at the tip, and then launches like a catapult shot in an arc towards the vessel. It splashes over the deck near her and quite possibly over her, a dose of vicious poison for her own body to deal with.

Riva Banari has posed:
Riva doesn't stop for a moment as she crashes into the crew. The one that opens up that mouth full of serpent's teeth causes her to squint. "You know, the whole 'maw' thing probably isn't you." She quips, bringing the Cross around and slamming it down onto the knife-wielder with a brilliant SMASH. "But I guess you won't be worrying about that, huh?" She asks.

A moment later, she hears an Ominous Creak and gets a bad feeling about this. "Um..." She looks up right into the ballista, and blinks. "Aw flugelhorn." She says, moments before it fires. The ballista bolt uncoils, slamming right into her and sending her flying back off the edge of the tower...

Or rather, it would, except the Cross clangs into the edge of the edifice. Slowly, with a pained grunt, she pulls herself back up. This is probably not something a normal person would be doing, since a normal person would be missing half their body right now.

Riva, comparatively, only has a massive bloody gash down one side of her body. An improvement! "Well. That was rude." She comments. "Warranted! But rude." She grimaces... But doesn't waste any time charging in again, bringing her hammer-cross up in a two-handed swing to try to crush the ballista itself this time! No more of that 'getting shot with artillery' thing!

Nova Terra (6381) has posed:
    Nova cautiously swims up to the edge of the creature, beginning to quietly climb up its surface as the battle ranges around her. She's hoping the defenders are too distracted by the attackers that they don't notice a single person slipping aboard the prison. Spotting an opening creates by All-Seeing Eye, Nova climbs towards it.

    Reaching the edge of the V-hole, Nova peers over it, spotting a number of defenders in the vicinity. While they might not be immediately at the hole, they still present a threat should they try to put a few arrows in her. So reaching down to the suit compartment attached to her leg, Nova pulls out a small cylindrical device. Activating it, she throws it through the hole in the wall. It bounces towards the nearby defenders before unleashing a blast of light and energy to disorient the group.

    After her flashbang takes effect, Nova pulls herself up to jump through the opening and land on the other side. She quickly makes a dash towards the nearest defender, attempting to bring her hands up to his head. She applies a quick twist to break his neck, before retrieving the rifle on her back and beginning to fire at the others.

Tomoe has posed:
Tomoe was moving to get attention here and it seems to have done it quite well she has the beast and it's mater attention long enough for her to draw fire from some sort of anti-air weapon? That's going to be painful and it is, she's burning, a poison status appears on her HUD for a moment and she can't do much about it before she moves to make dive bombing attack for the man who barked out the orders.

With Caliburn in hand she'll make for launching a sword at the man launching into a series of lighting sword attacks and even throwing a shield bash into the mix. Even as she still sizzles from the poison she's been hit with.

All-Seeing Eye has posed:
     A literal tide of arrows comes coasting over the horizon. All-Seeing Eye frowns. That could be problematic. Targeting charms boot up, and each staggered volley of arrows is awash in purple targeting reticules. Parabolic arcs trail from each projectile mid-flight, while a one-word assessment flashes indignantly across his vision, in glaring capital letters.


     As more volleys are launched and the first of them grows nearer, more and more warning signs appear--red crosses and yellow triangles appear with increasing frequency. These are ignored. Arrows hit the deck, escaping his grasp, striking sailors around him. He twirls upon what limited space is available to him, striking out with one hand, the other, both at once, even a leg. Every move is deliberate, calculated towards the purpose of reflecting as many arrows as possible. He does indeed reflect as many as he can, but a few volleys in, the staggered attack and the sheer volume thereof begin to work against him.

     Arrows tear his kimono and leave festering wounds, his black lifeblood sizzling in some manner of chemical reaction. A few strike him directly, making a grotesque pincushion out of him and further staining the silken garment. Still--through twirling the whips so fast as to make them appear as solid discs, he manages to reflect a portion back. "I have no means of getting closer," says the Exalt with mild annoyance. With a look over at a blind-firing sailor, he adds, "If you wish to survive this, I highly suggest improving your middling aim and keeping this vessel afloat."

     The exertion becomes just as obvious as his annoyance. Now, dark stormclouds begin to gather at his feet, swirling slowly around him as the gem in his forehead crackles almost constantly.

Finna (513) has posed:
    Oh crap! 'Gale' splutters at the display of what might well be DEMON SORCERY and throws her hands up to shield her eyes, nose, and mouth. Not that it does much good... the poison deluge drenches her just the same, working its evil through skin pores. A shiver of pain lances through her, mixed with nausea and dizziness... and she just tumbles overboard, down into the drink with a lopsided SPLASH!

    Thankfully, seawater is much kinder than demonic poison.

    And down there under the water, the Lunar decides... 'screw it.'

    The ocean depths shimmer weirdly, displaying a light from within. A silver-blue-purple gleam ripples up to the surface--

    And then, the surface ERUPTS. A sleek shape ROCKETS skywards! It's Finna, having ditched the Gale disguise. Moonlight burns in streams from her skin, causing tribal tattooos to shine through her huntress leathers. She appears to have DOLPHIN KICKED herself into a high-speed rise, and uses that momentum to ARC HIGH OVER the turtle and start coming back down onto its back. From high in the air, wreathed in a rainbow effect of ocean spray, she takes aim and fires with a mystical bow that does not care how wet it gets, a storm arrows that scream through the air like hungry beasts!

    And with all that misty water spray around her, it's REALLY hard to get a fix on exactly where in the air she is. Even while squinting her location twists and distorts, refusing to be pinned down. Returning fire with conventional means at that angle may prove difficult!

Empty Tidings has posed:
The bats, as juicy targets as they are, apparently decide to go for the gold. They dive down into the works, hitting springs and damaging the solid but still vulnerable portions of the siege engines. It's a more precise way of gumming up the engines of war on the wall, but it seems to be doing the job. That /does/ leave them vulnerable, though: the siege engineers brandish large knives and hammers, smashing and stabbing the robotic bats as they close in, trying to keep them away so they can fix what's getting broken.

Arrows continue to rain down on the ship even still. Orchid isn't going to be able to stay safely ensconced in the careening vessel for much longer. She's going to run out of bats!

Unless, that is, Nova has something to say about it. She goes unnoticed getting up to the wall, and only gets spotted when the flashbang abruptly illuminates her position by pointing at the presence of someone near the hole in the wall who could have deployed such a weapon. The people with the bows are a mix of humans and what are presumably Lintha, bearing small but distinctly aquatic mutations among them. She's pretty sure the one she snapped the neck of had gills.

The others react remarkably well to the presence of gunfire, given they're using bows. They dive for hard cover, putting barrels apparently full of sand between themselves and Nova -- the lucky ones, anyway. Others scramble and don't make it, getting holes put in them before their fellows get a chance to lean out of cover and return fire with their short bows. They're quick on the draw, and fairly accurate to boot; obviously, they've had a lot of practice up close and far away.

The engineers, on the other hand, don't so much. Riva is pulling herself up and they're hastily trying to reload. She catches them just as they're angling to get a bolt in, and they stop in their tracks, staring at the person who should by all rights have no lower body. Riva swings up, and then down, and splinters the ballista with an unholy racket. The floor cracks from the impact. The engineers stagger.

One of them, feeling particularly clever, kicks the remains of the machine. The tightly-coiled spring abruptly unhooks and fires at Riva with all that potential energy like something out of a cartoon.

Ryu (1161) has posed:
    Ryu is not expecting the entire room to enter freefall, and he isn't strong enough to stop a stone structure from taking him with it. The dragon squeals in terror as he plummets down into a crash of debris and noise... There's a bunch of blood in there! And then, he breaks free of stonework with a decisive BOOM, and his wings snap open. The dust clearing reveals several wounds from the painful impact, his skeletal structure visibly and rapidly mending just so he can stay in the fight, off-color blood dribbling off his form.

    He lifts one hand, squinting toward the next tower of ballistas... and he fires a great big, sustained LIGHTNING BOLT, toward it and any near targets with his left hand, the whole sky lighting up briefly and a rumble shaking the air. He's trying to deal with one of the weapons without getting trapped in a deadfall again. Unfortunately, this also makes him an open target.

Orchid (6384) has posed:
     The bats are there to be destroyed, if that's what it takes to accomplish the mission. For her part, Orchid has gathered enough information, and jumps on her rocket surfboard. She's heading across to the fortress, aiming for the top of the structure in the middle, looking for a way down and in. But on the way over the walls, she makes sure to pass by one of the catapults, and as her bats distract the engineers, she'll use her sonic screwdriver to try and make sure it stays ruined by shattering the main arm.

Nova Terra (6381) has posed:
    Nova is on the run! She's already trying to make her way towards the center of the prison where the prisoners were spotted earlier. Of course she has annoying arrows to deal with. Ideally she should be behind cover, but it's hard to both move and stay behind cover at the same time. So Nova hopes her speed and the fact that the enemy's weapon of choice is slow moving arrows will make her a hard target. And indeed, Nova manages to sprint past most of the arrows fired her way. Still, a few arrow heads do slice through her suit on their way past as they just barely hit.

    Even as Nova moves, under fire, she is also returning said fire. She has her Canister Rifle in automatic mode, the weapon barking out the large bullets in the direction of her assailants. Even if they are behind the cover of those sand filled barrels, the large 25mm rounds are going to be putting holes in said barrels, wearing down said cover. Assuming a poor defender doesn't pick the wrong time to poke his head out and thus lose it.

Empty Tidings has posed:
The arrows that Eye launches back hit the walls and battlements, penetrating the stone covering and turning the exterior into a pincushion -- to say nothing for the men on the walls themselves. A half-dozen archers are cut down in the first volley, and another three or four don't emerge after the next. One of the walls facing the ship is mostly clear of opposition, though it isn't the damaged one.

But that's good enough. "You heard him!" Captain Zhao yells. "Don't waste arrows, or I'll have you swim for all the ones that hit water!" He's at the rudder. The remaining sailors make sure the sail is down, and the growing wind the Lintha arrows seem to ignore catches it. The ship gains speed, having been drifting straight forward for too long, veering towards the massive shape.

The turtle lifts a fin again. Zhao is better prepared for it this time. It slaps down again, and the ship rides the wave, cresting it straight through, the bow practically leaping out of the water. Eye will have to hold on tight, or he might get either thrown overboard or slammed against the deck as the ship's captain does the equivalent of sick wheelies in his wind-powered sail boat.

Meanwhile, lightning strikes out of the storm. It doesn't seem to be too unusual, except it strikes the top of a tower and blows it to pieces. The interior of the upper chamber erupts into flames, and it turns into a blazing torch that the Lintha guardians do their best to keep away from. Ryu has a moment to enjoy the sight of one less siege engine harassing their ride.

Until a trio of burly men with spears start hurling weighted nets into the remains of the room. There's a door opened near 'ground' level, and they're clearly piling on large amounts of weight to try and entangle him to make for an easy kill. They have no idea how strong he actually might be. This could be a problem.

Tomoe dive bombs the leader adorned in coral and carrying a massive sword at the same time Finna explodes up out of the water. Both of them see the sword more clearly up close: a great, heavy brass weapon, with some kind of iridescent oily substance leaking off the edge. He swings it around like it was feather-light, despite being at least half his size. It's clearly some kind of artifact weapon, but it doesn't look like any kind of magical material normally seen around here...

Arrows come down. The man spins the blade, shedding the oily substance in the air all around him. Arrows hit it and turn into hissing splinters, the acidic spray corriding and dissolving the storm and turning it from a lethal volley into something he can clearly handle. Four shafts thud into him, stitching up his right side. He staggers, muscles spasming from the sudden cut and impact, letting Tomoe get in close --

He raises his sword, intercepting hers with a metallic clash and a spray of acidic droplets. He fights her one-handed, raising his others and shattering the arrows that stick out of his coral-grown body. More growths seem to well up from the wounds, assembling miniature reefs in fast-forward while their blades come together again and again.

The man steps into her swings. He takes a shallow cut to one side, the edge of her blade scraping across the hardened carapace. He gets both hands on his daiklave and swings it overhand, a deadly but easily-intercepted hammerblow -- followed by a second, and a third, each one sending superhumanly powerful shocks of raw force through Tomoe's body, as if trying to break it apart from the inside.

He slips back a half-step, shouting something in a language that sounds old and vile and /hateful/ -- to Finna. Tomoe hears him yell a gutteral noise that doesn't mean anything. Finna hears syllables that mean HATE and LOATHING and DISGUST in equal, overwhelming measure. They make her ears hurt. They make her head hurt.

They make her lungs hurt, filling with the same poison he cast at her with every syllable he spitefully spits.

Riva Banari has posed:
The good news: The ballista is being smashed. The bad news: ENGINEERING. The tension spring unhooks, smashing into Riva. The Anima-Wielder is powerful, but Isaac Newton is the meanest son of a bitch in Lintha territory, too. Damn that Isaac Newton!

Riva, for her part, ends up launched off the Tower, flying off of it with a gleaming wave of light. "RAAAAAAAAAAAAHhhhhhhhhhhh-" The sound of her voice vanishes for several moments into the middle of the storm.

The conflict with the Lintha Leader is intense and potent. Highly dramatic and possibly rather deadly. However, this is all about to change in some weird direction as a noise grows. "-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHGH!" She cries, as she drops right down upon the leader in a ballistic arc, slamming down to try to weaponize her near-slapstick launch into the air! Simply. Direct. But effective? Well, that's to be seen.

Ryu (1161) has posed:
    A /net/ lands on Ryu. His wings flutter, and he slams into the surface of the floating prison, bruised and deeply, deeply upset with what just happened. As the Lintha pirates approach to try and finish him off, they run face-first into a dragon viciously shredding their net. His claws flash like daggers in the air, sending scraps of the net in all directions. And then he pops toward them and whips through the air, moving like a blur. Several extremely loud SNAP noises sound off as he whips his tail at their arms and legs to disable them completely. When he lands from his attack, he launches himself into the structure of the prison itself...

    He has to make sure to track down those damn hostages. They're the whole reason the party showed up.

Finna (513) has posed:
    If there's one kind of assault Finna wasn't expecting, it was deadly words. Although somehow she had managed to greatly slow her descent... those words hit her with terrific force. She doubles over in midair and tumbles from the sky, slamming into the turtle's back with a bone-jarring *WHANPF!*

    Dazed and with a glassy look in her eyes she flips to her feet in lopsided fashion... and furrows her wearying brow. Gags and burbles. Brings both hands to her neck desperately...

    And then SLAMS her right foot to the ground. The silvery aura burns even brighter, the mark of the moon now blazing from her forehead.

    It begins from her legs and moves upwards. A rippling and tensing of muscle. The tattoos flare, her legs bulge then tighten again... then thighs... then waist...

    It's a ripple of bulging and contracting, resculpting muscle... but what for?

    Eventually this wave reaches her neck, and then she opens her maw wide--

    And VOMITS OUT a fountain of hateful sea tincture, purging her innards of the concoction before it can do any more damage. But that's not all. Her body ripples with a sleek power, glowing vividly with life. And anyone whose combat instincts are honed enough can just TELL that this... is... BAD NEWS.

    If you were her enemy, that is.

    "Demon-Blooded bastard... you've just sealed your fate." Whether he could notice it before or not, well, it's visible now. Her fuzzy ears are standing up straight and practically vibrating with adrenaline and rage. She tucks the bow away to Elsewhere and leans down, gathering what's left of her strength and giving the air a warning slash with her Claws of the Silver Moon. Power gathers in her bunched legs like a coiling spring, and then... springs forward, beastly teeth clenched tightly into a snarling show of pure, relentless fury!

    She's upon the warrior in a flash of silvery motion, claws glowing with armor-rending fury with pure intent to rip into his throat and savage his windpipe so he cannot speak again so soon. At the same time, her other claw seeks to bury into his sword arm and slice through muscles and tendons to cripple his swings!

    Unless quickly fended off, she simply becomes a whirlwind of savage strikes with all the ferocity of a beast of the deep wilderness!

All-Seeing Eye has posed:
     Due Giang might have been ready for the wave, but Eye certainly wasn't. When the vessel pitches and rears upwards, he loses his footing. Considering there are arrows sticking out of him, this is all the more unfortunate. His back slams into the deck, thrusting three arrows further into his body. The heads pierce his bare chest from the inside in a gruesome display. He rolls across the sheer surface, leaving a black smear and digging scrape marks into the deck as the arrowheads grind against it. The mast stops his freefall rather abruptly, smashing into his stomach. A low, guttural groan of pain escapes him, but when the craft is on level footing again, so is he.

     With one hand nursing the spot, Eye gives Due Giang a nod of acknowledgment. Breaking into a sprint, he leaps off of the front of the boat in a nimble somersault, his feet landing upon the turtle's fin. Steel cables at the ready, he hits the ground running, traversing the length of the sea creature's appendage until the walls are within his reach. Springing off of the fin, his ornamental sandals briefly scrabble for purchase against the wall, his whips lashing upwards to ensnare the masonry and pull him the rest of the way up. By now, the storm clouds have risen to his waist, and swirl violently around him, purple flashes of lightning illuminating the bilious mass. "Hello!~" He offers the guards upon the wall a cordial wave, fingers waggling playfully.

     His anima flares again, another flash of lightning. Another targeting charm is loaded up, and his vision is overlaid with a purple grid. Squares upon this grid occupied by the forms of guards are filled in, and the program begins prioritizing heads and vitals. A purple line traces between the forms of the guards, criss-crossing between them and bouncing off of stone walls, armor, helmets and any other solid surface.

     The Exalt's golden eyes are replaced by dark steel nozzles, and a barrage of lightning blasts streams forth, zipping between guards and obstacles alike, with some of them even bouncing off of one object (or guard) to strike a foe behind him.

Empty Tidings has posed:
Ryu does his best impression of a dragon-shaped wrecking ball, smashing through the opportunists with the kind of speed and strength they were hoping to curtail with the nets. If any of them recover from the battering they just took, they're going to have a hard time coming up with a better net to deal with him. As it stands, they're reduced to crumpled heaps rather quickly, and he's given free reign to search the place. Fortunately, it seems to be pretty centuralized...

Running and gunning works. The canister rifle is a frankly too-large weapon to deal with the problem, blowing apart cover and felling unlucky Lintha who get even clipped by the rounds that would be more at home on an Earth aircraft circa 1944. Nova gets through the arrows, fighting her way deeper inside, and finds the interior buildings are built very close together, making it easy to get away from the archers as soon as she hits hard cover.

She gets to a central courtyard at the same time Orchid does -- though instead of people's limbs, Orchid pops a couple of large bolts off a catapult they hadn't managed to rotate into position just yet, putting it out of commission on her way in. The courtyard is made of square stone panels, a flat surface on the otherwise curving setup of the place. A large building made of stout wood and reinforced with stone and wood sits in the middle of it, with iron-banded double doors barring entry.

Or they would, if they weren't open.

A group of Lintha are standing in front of it, swords and spears pointed at the door. In front of it stands Due Giang, soaking wet, but gripping a spear made of transparent glass in both hands, visible due to the blood glazing the tip. He's fighting a defensive battle, keeping the mob of demon-pirates from getting inside, and has quite clearly taken a number of minor hits in the process. Flickers of golden firelight flicker around his hands now and again, making his spear ignite like a flare for a span of seconds as he whips it back and forth to intercept blows.

Some of them turn away. They spot the incoming heroes. A couple snap off shots from bows, while a half-dozen others run out to meet them, spears and short swords stabbing and slashing. Ryu arrives just as the melee is starting up, threatening to drag the three of them into it -- especially if they want to get into a building with, it would seem, only one way in and one way out, presently the locus of combat in this part of the floating fortress.

Tomoe has posed:
Tomoe is doing a fine job of getting attention here, it seems to be doing well enough to keep them on her but it's got a price for her to pay. She gets a hell of a hit, she not sure how he moves the blad that fast but it's creation so she accepts is. She has to focus on responding now, she makes her bid to respond, the hits score hard even with her being ready for it. She intercepts several of the blows but the force of the impacts still hurt her, hell the last one does hit her hard so hard part of her body distorts into screaming red wireframe, something that should not happen to someone made of flesh or metal.

It hurts a hell of a lot as well she's in pain but the hate he has for Finna? That is new that is unexpected and she will take this moment to try and press the attack herself before something worse happens to her.


She lets loose with only a single powerful swing of her blade.

Ryu (1161) has posed:
    Ryu arrives to a melee, and comes to a landing near them all. He holds up his arms to shield his face from any mortal blows put toward him. Arrows slam into him, but then fall free from his body with bloody dribbling, and he avoids the spears carefully to keep from getting locked down. Then, he coils like a spring, and something happens in the blink of an eye. He vanishes from normal view, and dozens of lines of silvery light fill the melee, trying to cut down the Lintha with bestial efficiency for daring to get in range of him. His movements alone can bowl over his foes, and he strikes with decisive ferocity.

    And keeps going and going... Trying to minimize the threat to everyone else by just being a murder blender and tiring himself out in the process.

Orchid (6384) has posed:
     The reploid takes a twisting, tumbling route over the mob as she seeks to join Due Giang at his side, relying on her surfboard and energy shields to keep herself reasonably intact. But once she gets there... She just stands next to him, holding out her shields.

     This is because while she brought less spiders than she otherwise might, she did bring some, and seeded them among the mob of Lintha. If they're going to face her and Due Giang, they will leave themselves open to being tied up, starting from the feet, as the spiders deploy the silk in a variant of the 'tie their shoelaces together' trick.

Empty Tidings has posed:
Captain Zhao gives Eye a little nod, if one that is clearly of a man who is kind of unnerved but doing his best to hold on during an insane situation. He does not at all stop him from getting off the boat, instead focusing on getting his remaining crew to a safe distance. This is probably sensible, given his protection all just went overboard.

Eye gets up onto the wall, and is nozzle-to-eye with a very surprised, somewhat bloodied guard. He looks like he's probably the runt of the place, trying to find a place to get away from the murderous mayhem. It does not help. Eye's targeting systems get a number of locks, and there's a scream of an electrical discharge just as the desperate pirate thrusts his sword at the Exalt's midsection.

A great number of bodies drop as lightning blasts pinball across the battlements and take archers by surprise. The exterior defenders are culled with terrible efficiency, his assailant included. It's going to take forever to get the stench out of Eye's clothes.

The demon-blessed leader of them, up at the edge of shell near the beast's head, fights on. Finna is momentarily put down for the count to deal with that poison, so he focuses on Tomoe. She flashes, and he pauses, uncertain what he's looking at -- and then she counterattacks, dropping a heavy blow on the head of the demon-pirate, whose daiklave is jammed backwards as he loses his footing from the sheer force of the hit. The edge of her sword catches him across the cheek, leaving a bloody cut that cleaves away at the organic armoring as it descends across his body.

It also leaves him open to Finna's counterattack. He doesn't get his feet under him before the Lunar is on top of him, ripping and tearing. She doesn't quite get his throat, the barbs and hooks of coral growing out of him catching her and stopping her, bloodying his neck and stopping his recitation quite effectively nonetheless. She tears at his sword-arm and he yells, struggling to get at it with his other hand. He manages to grab hold of it, levering himself away from the shell and getting his feet up, kicking her off of him, bloody wounds apparent -- and spraying, more poison building and bubbling as injuries react like they were under high pressure, simply adding to the toxic build-up in her supernaturally strong body.

He gets to his feet. The sword comes back up, raised to his shoulder. He's bleeding profusely, with chunks of his organic exoskeleton torn to pieces. He swipes his sword at Tomoe, flicking acid across her armor to eat it away, and steps in to go for a quick killing blow -- right as Riva hits him from behind, hammering him like a nail. He hits the shell face-first with a cracking sound, going momentarily boneless... and then sliding into the sea, weapon still clutched in a tight grip as he slips beneath the waves.

Nova Terra (6381) has posed:
    Nova quickly makes her way towards the more clustered buildings on the turtle's back. Anything to put something solid between her and those trying to skewer her with arrows. As she reaches the close quarters of the building corridors, Nova slows down a little. She's being cautious, checking the corners while she homes in on the largest source of active minds in the area. Probably the prisoners... Or a big collection of defenders. Preferably the former.

    Coming out into the courtyard, Nova quickly glances over the fighting crowd with her visor. The built-in systems register Due Giang as a friendly, the rest as enemies. Nova raises her rifle, but has trouble getting a clear shot with the spear-wielder amidst the frenzy. Then it becomes too late to shoot.

    Nova is charged by a number of the defenders. She meets the first with her rifle, using the weapon to block the sword. Before she can counter attack, a second defender approaches from the other side, swinging his own blade. Nova is forced to release part of her grip on her rifle, bringing the armored hand up to catch the swung weapon before it can do too much damage. And once again before she can return the favor, a third defender manages to catch Nova off-guard from behind, thrusting the pointed edge of his spear towards her. Nova tries to move clear but she's boxed in, the spear finding its mark plunging part way through the Ghost's suit.

    Nova grunts in pain as blood seeps out from the stab wound. But the expression on her face is quickly changing to that of anger. This is amplified by the aura of psychic energies that suddenly flares around Nova. With a battle cry the Ghost unleashes a blast of telekinetic energy all around her, knocking the three away and the spear ripping from her body. But it doesn't end there.

    Reaching back with her free hand Nova pulls forth the sword on her back. As she grabs hold of it, the blade ignites with blue light. Weapon in hand, Nova suddenly moves with incredible speed boosted by the psychic power she's channeling. She quickly delivers deadly strikes from the monomolecular psi-blade to the three who had attacked her. But she doesn't finish there, barely a blur as she darts into the melee around Giang and Orchid, striking once at each of their attackers until she finally comes to a stop on the other side.

All-Seeing Eye has posed:
     The panicked thrust of the cornered Lintha is met with a fluid twirl--the sword cuts a gash across Eye's back, tearing the fine silk garment and cutting the bottom half free. This reveals the finely-spun wool robes beneath, black rivulets of blood running down the length of them from his multitudinous gashes. With a defeated sigh, he casts off the remains of the kimono, leaving only the hakama and revealing his bare chest to the ocean air. The leader is observed slinking into the water, and his mood worsens for it.

     Uttering a request over the radio, he casually strides through the carnage atop the wall, leaping off of it to land before 'Gale' and Tomoe. He pays them a little wrinkle of his nose and a coy smile, nodding to the water. This might look a little disturbing, consiering his usually bright and expressive eyes are currently replaced with expressionless Soulsteel nozzles. With his vision focused on the very waves the leader dipped beneath, he attempts to penetrate the inky depths and spot him. His reason for coming here was not so much hostages as information--and a very good source of it won't be slipping away on his watch. Setting his Essence Cannons to Nonlethal, he attempts to find and subdue the leader with a well-placed shot.

Finna (513) has posed:
    There's a funny thing going on this time with Finna's strikes!

    She's seen this trick before. Acid blood spurts were accounted for in the angle and speed of her blows. Accordingly, very little of the stuff manages to strike her skin. Just as the geysers erupt, her limbs just aren't there anymore. The winds whipped up by her strikes disperse the stuff. A lot of the drenching that should occur... simply doesn't. Most of the poison strikes only glowing contrails where her limbs had been moments later.

    But not all of it. Her lower body gets splashed more than she likes, and the seething poison is doing a number on her. Her breathing's grown terribly ragged and movements have slowed. Despite all her divine grace, her stance is showing more and more openings...

    So, spotting Tomoe moving in, the Lunar grins.

    And as she's KICKED BACK and away from her opponent and goes tumbling... she SLAMS down with a clawed hand to dig in and bleed off momentum with an awful show of sparks and splinters, then SWINGS sideways to place Tomoe between her and the Daiklave-bearing pirate.

    She's kneeling, whipping out Moonlit Huntress from elsewhere and swiftly nocking an arrow...

    She takes aim for the GAP BETWEEN TOMOE'S LEGS, the grace of Luna gathering in her fingers and guiding her sight...

    "Take this, poison-breath!" The arrow is loosed!

    It SPANGS off the ground just in front of Tomoe at a shallow angle... and BEND-RICOCHETS impossibly, now angling upwards with no loss of speed or force with the goal of spearing the warrior straight through a knee!

Empty Tidings has posed:
Orchid's spiders spread out. Some of them inevitably get crushed by the sheer number of feet. That's alright. They spread webs and discord, limiting maneuverability in a place where your footwork is often the difference between life and death.

This turns out to be very important for the next several moments.

Nova attacks from one side, and Ryu from the other. The pair of them abruptly switch gears from harrying, harrassing and disabling to full-on crowd-clearing violence, psionic aptitude neatly complimenting bestial ferocity. The pirates that face down the speed and precision of the psi-blade wielding Ghost are hampered by the silken binds that keep them from adequately defending themselves, letting her drop them with quick, efficient blows that take them out of the fight as fast as possible. Meanwhile, Ryu simply wades into the fray, raw power bowling over, tearing up, or otherwise smashing through the Lintha defense -- and coming to the Lintha offense instead.

The remaining fighters find themselves sandwiched between a couple murder engines and their murder engineer, and a spear-wielding zealot. A few more are cut down, and the rest break and run, trying to scatter towards the edges of the shell in an obvious rout. They leave the way clear to the actually door.

Due Giang, breathing hard, plants the butt of his glass spear on the stone ground. "Good timing. That woman is inside with the hostages." He gives Ryu a wary look. "Are we going to have a problem?" He sounds fatigued rather than confrontational.

The Lintha leader, meanwhile, sinks into the inky depths... and then starts to swim. Finna's arrow puts a stop to that, preventing him from maneuvering long enough for Eye's Essence blasts to pound him into unconsciousness. The sheer amount of punishment it takes to keep him there is a bit surprising; his body is already knitting itself back together fairly quickly, even underwater. Especially underwater.

Once he gets fished out, that slows to a crawl, and keeping him restrained and subdued long enough to interrogate him (or let Eye do his particular form of information-gathering...) is not a problem.

Mere minutes later, the storm begins to break. The thrashing of the seas from the turtle's restlessness calms. Everything about the world around you seems to just take a deep breath and finally relax. The fight, it seems, is finally over.

All-Seeing Eye has posed:
     Things have come to a relative sense of peace. The gentle burble of the sea, the wind, and the calls of far off-birds is broken by the wet sound of a spike forcefully driven into the unconscious form of the Lintha's leader. All-Seeing Eye grips a black metal spike which protrudes from the prone man's neck. With an expression of gentle calm, he holds it there. Outwardly, he appears to be simply staring at the man.

     Inwardly, however, things are different. A question burns in his mind, the answer denied him on a previous mission. Sifting through the memories of the leader, he searches for that answer once again. 'Where is Bluehaven?' Surely, he must know /something/ if he was entrusted with command of so extravagant a resource. And whatever he knows, Eye would know it too--his name is more appropriate than most realize, after all.

Empty Tidings has posed:
Eye plugs himself into the Lintha. Invading his mind is remarkably easy. Almost as if...

...no. It's just that Eye is strong enough to overpower some pirate bumpkin from this messy, disorganized world. That's all there is to it.

The man's name is Spiteful Sound of Broken Bells. He's a true-blooded Lintha, apparently, though what that means is unclear. He's a leader among them, inasmuch as he can be in a matriarchal society. He proudly thinks of himself as a grandfather among his sept, despite his relatively young age -- middle-aged by most standards, though his body is fit and in his prime. Once he's off the turtle-rock, he'll begin the reclamation of the Lintha's rightful place as rulers of the world, starting with An-Teng. That's what he was given that sword for, wasn't it? That's why he --

he --

he --

IRRELEVANT. Bluehaven. Eye searches for it. Spiteful Sound remembers Bluehaven. He remembers a grand city, floating atop trim and cleanly-built ships. He remembers the great Lintha Family living alongside their revered ancestors in peace and harmony with the Great Mother, the ocean they sail upon. He remembers the graceful lines of soaring architecture, built upon the backs of the labors of their great ancestors. He remembers the elegant ceremonies, the harmonious order, the sheer, overwhelming love that flows from their Great Mother unto them, and from them back unto their Mother.

Spiteful Sound remembers love. He remembers Bluehaven, and he remembers love. He remembers his own sept coming together, seated around a great feast, laughing and smiling. He remembers his sister speaking of her betrayal of their family for a Southerner. He remembers his grandmother taking her gently by the hand, kissing her on the forehead, and drowning her in soup-broth. They all came together for that, laughing and smiling. He remembers love. So much love.

The path to Bluehaven is difficult; he remembers that, too. No charts exist. He committed the way to memory. He goes over it, examining stars and seas to find it. He knows the waves and the wind. He knows that the Great Mother wouldn't want them to tell anyone, so he cuts the tongues from his lessers. They smile, bleeding from their wounded mouths. They laugh, and they smile. They come together as one family, all in the name of the Great Mother. That's why he --

he --

he --

BLUEHAVEN. The ship. The seas. The currents. He knows. Eye knows, now, too. He digs deep to find it, and Spiteful Sound resists. Not well enough. There's not much left of him. He's so hollow. Eye finds it terribly easy to just reach inside him and run his fingers along the hollow insides of his skin. He does it to make his fingers move like a hand-puppet in his memories. He does it to make him give up the secret. He does.

Empty Tidings has posed:
Eye knows, now, too. He knows love. He knows laughter and smiles. He knows the joy of the Great Mother. He knows --

-- this feeling. He knows this feeling. He doesn't know this feeling. He communes with the Great Maker, armored in order and discipline and purpose. He communes with the Great Mother, vulnerable amidst her love and drowning in her affection. Spiteful Sound remembers the comfort of the vats, and the pride of his nation. The Populat, all made safe under his ever-vigilant eye. All-Seeing Eye remembers submerging himself in the salt-water, infinitely deep, infinitely loving, infinitely hateful, infinitely caring, infinitely spiteful. The Family, made better for what he does. That's why he --

he --

he --

        -- hacked himself to pieces

                            and filled those pieces with the sea

    and scoured his soul clean

                        and gave himself to HER






Empty Tidings has posed:
All-Seeing Eye draws himself back, falling too deep into the well of Spiteful Sound. A great, awful presence fills the hollow man's body. It is vast as the sea is vast. It is vast as the Maker is vast. It is hateful as the Maker could never be.

It sees you.

The connection abruptly overloads and snaps like brittle glass. The physical spike itself feels unbearably hot, and then the entire magitech assembly in Eye's body goes abruptly numb. Eye's Charm is ill-equipped to handle something as vast and alien in scope and mind as Autochthon Himself trying to worm its way through it -- and yet that's exactly what just happened.

Eye looked into the Sea, and the Sea looked back.

It sees you.

It sees all of you.

All-Seeing Eye has posed:
     Fingers grasp the Personality Override Spike defiantly. Synthetic skin burns, cracks and hardens like clay. It begins to smoke. Eye still clutches it, gritting his teeth. The Sea won't just see him, trying to worm his way in--it will see his hate, burning like a tiny pinprick, a firefly set before a mountain. It is hate for many things, but most curiously, for himself. As he peruses Spiteful Sound's memories, his free hand drifts to one of the arrows stuck in his body. Fingers gingerly pluck the arrowhead free. It's turned over in his hand.

     He must cut himself, make himself pure, fill himself with the sea--the arrowhead slices his synthetic skin, drawing black blood which stains his hakama and splatters upon the akuma's prone body. His expression is one of beatific joy. Then... The connection is shattered, the spike literally so. A line is burned all the way up his arm, creating a deep, black rut with branching pathways like the roots of a plant. A frayed wire dangles uselessly from a port in his palm, only to retract like a wounded eel.

     His lips are pulled into a venemous scowl. He is many things--but he is never impure. Never read so openly. "WHORE!" His normally gentle, focus-group voice is warped into a wrathful bellow--the sound of a wounded animal. An ornamental sandal is then lodged into the prone man's jaw with such force as to tear skin and draw blood. It's withdrawn, with a wet, sucking noise, and put back, forcefully. Again. Again. Again. He sits upon the man's chest, hands holding either side of his now-mangled head. "Listen to me," he says in a manic, hushed whisper. "I am coming to your beloved city--and I will visit such horrors upon it, not even the filthy wretches of the underworld will take their mangled souls. Do you hear me?" He shakes the man's body. Someone must be made to pay for this... this desecration of the self. Of the Great Maker's perfection.

     "I'm coming for you."