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|Zero Kiryu|| Neo Tokyo
The Concord was called to reclaim something that was stolen from one of their officers, and met with the second-in-command of a post-apocalyptic warlord in the ruins of Tokyo. After exasperatedly receiving a party that wasn't interested in negotiation, the obvious second-in-command sent a messenger up to inform the boss that he'd need to fight.
Ordinarily some sort of monologue would follow, but it doesn't. From high, high above on the roof of the partially crumbled skyscraper, there comes a sudden shriek and a violent compacting of metal around what was most definitely a human body and now is more of a katamari of metal and meat. It comes hurtling out of the sky, brutally crushing a roided-out looking alleged psychic who looked deeply constipated until the moment he was caught up in the meat katamari.
The meat katamari gains mass and is rolled violently across the waiting Concord group, whipping unnaturally across its trajectory as the "boss" appears at the edge of the skyscraper.
A scrawny boy, not quite malnourished but clearly having historically suffered from it, glowers down. A sheet or banner or some other oversized cloth repurposed into a cloak is draped over one arm, which is completely concealed. His posture is funny, as if he's dragging something in the concealed arm.
Sweat beads his forehead, and he has a deeply irregular breathing pattern. Like somebody in need of heavy painkillers-- or perhaps, simply someone in deep withdrawal. A swipe of his hand causes ruined vehicles to come tumbling through the streets behind the katamari, adding to the casual onslaught of thrown debris.
The second-in-command disappeared before the meat katamari was even thrown. He's not really making his egress subtle; it's clear that this guy isn't much of a good boss. Or, at the very least, was caught at a critically bad time.
|Guzma||LAST TIME: Yuuki kind of scared Guzma with sharp mind voices, and then seemed worried when it affected his stance. When she tells him it's okay, and to lead anyways, he nods. "Got it. Let's go kick his behind!"
A meat katamari comes flying. It smashes straight into Guzma, who was not expecting That, and sending him flying onto his back, hard, skidding backwards. He's bleeding, lightly, as debris is able to slam into him. "Agh! Scizor!" He clicks a pokeball, sending out the red metal mantis, which punches out a few times.
With Guzma trying to get up and recover, Scizor moves to leap on top of one of the ruined vehicles, dig in, and then super-leap again, moving to try and strike the 'boss' with a quick punch to the gut. If it gets a chance, it's gonna try and throw him to street level with a powerful hit to the back or side and a flurry of blows, hopefully making it more difficult for him to avoid the group!
|Yuuki Kuran||From her position on the ground in Neo Tokyo, Yuuki waits patiently for the answer to her question. She clearly expects one, watching the second-in-command pointedly. He turns to just run, booking it at top speed.
"We are still talking! Come back!" Yuuki calls, before being smoshed by a giant meat katamari, and then smashed by a horizontally-swept cloud of metal debris. In the wake of this, Yuuki Kuran's wardrobe is totally ruined by meat-based mutant psychic tantrum violence. Covered with meat juices and dirt, Yuuki clenches her jaw and wipes off her face, no worse for wear beyond superficially.
"Fine. Concord!" She points up, at the boy on the roof. "He has something that's ours. I want it back. Just because you're hurting doesn't give you a right to lash out. And since we're clearly all asking for a fight---"
Yuuki reaches over, and picks up a twisted I-Beam of debris to hurl like a javelin up towards the roof, coming up a bit short and shattering the area around the psychic child with obliterated masonry.
|Captain Flint|| "Captain, I strongly advise--"
"Your concerns are noted, Mr. DeGroot," says Flint, holding up a hand. He hasn't met the warlord or his men. No--the Walrus, against the advice of her navigator, the curly-haired Mr. DeGroot, has sailed well past the coastline and into one of the massive craters which has flooded with seawater. "Furl the topsails and t'gallants," cries Flint, and his cry is repeated by the boatswain. Crewmen climb of the mainmast to begin furling the two sets of uppermost sails, slowing the ship.
The captain strides past the flustered navigator, giving an order to the helm. "No near. Ease," says Flint to the helmsman. The ship will no longer attempt to catch the breeze, coming to a stop in dead center of that crater. "Have the port cannons facing their position." Then, a call. "Gun crews at the ready!" The port cannon-latches open as cannons, modified by Multiversal hands, poke menacingly from the port side of the ship.
Moving to the ship's port side, Flint extends his looking glass and peers at the flying projectile. It's rapidly gaining mass, barreling past his allies' position. The momentum is enough to carry it into the water. He hadn't anticipated that, and with the ship slowing down, all he can do is sharpen the turn... "HELM, HARD TO PORT! ALL HANDS, BRACE!"
The figurehead and the uppermost part of the bow are practically disintegrated, a spray of splinters buffeting several crew, one man going overboad amidst cries of wounded men. Silver announces the man overboard, and Billy is on it. In the mean time...
A thunderous report of thirteen cannons sends explosive cannonballs whipping through the air, aiming to collapse the skyscraper around the figure which flung it and rip him to shreds. "COME ABOUT! READY THE GRAPESHOT ON THE STARBOARD GUNS!"
|Utsuho Reiuji||Surprise, it's Utsuho!
Utsuho may be new to the Concord, but she's... enthusiastic, is a good way to put it. She will absolutely come and back people up when dealing with a psychic warlord, even if she isn't entirely sure why beyond the fact that he has something that used to be theirs and that they want back. Which is honestly enough of a reason for her, anyway.
And that's why Utsuho is here, equipped for battle - though there's no real difference than the way she's equipped at any other time, honestly. She's always got the concrete or stone encasement on her foot, the lower arm replaced with the eight-sided rod, the third eye set in her chest, and the ruined car smashing into her.
Actually that one *is* new.
Utsuho is bowled over by the impact, head over heels until she manages to get her concrete-encased foot on the ground, which anchors her well enough that she can steady herself by spreading her wings. Her own cape glimmers ominously, with what appears to be a moving starfield on the inside lining. That hurt, but it's not anything she can't handle.
"I just got here!" she complains, once she's steady again. "Can I shoot him?" Yuuki indicates the answer is 'yes', so Utsuho does just that; raising her control rod like it was a cannon, Utsuho fires a high-energy stream of white energy that builds into a sphere wherever it impacts, exploding in a series of small fusion-powered fireballs that leaves melted, pitted hemispherical craters behind where they burst.
|Hanako Hirano|| It's Hanako Hirano's second day on the job, and boy is he nervous.
It's impossible for him not to be. He's in front of all his big-deal bosses. His seniors. The people who he needs to impress the most. The people who are looking to see what kind of man - what kind of *man* - he is. These are the people whose opinion matters the most to Hanako Hirano, because these are the people whose opinion will affect his future. More than that, these are people whose opinions are opinions he'll have to live with for the rest of his life out in the Multiverse.
So it's safe to say that he's not in a great mood after getting whacked by the meat katamari and nearly hit in the head with a car.
Luckily - very luckily - he managed to scribble a thick layer of ink in front of him. It's not much - it's certainly not enough to save him from either the embarassment or the pain. The thick ink cracks like broken glass. It falls to the ground in blotches as he pulls himself up. The fallen ink pools on the ground, drops of blood spilling from his lip into it.
Great. Great start, Hanako. Here you were, ready to look cool and badass in front of the big guys, and here you are, getting your face pushed in. Good. Good. That's cool of you.
Hanako grabs his bandanna, pulling it down a little to hide his blush for a minute. He makes it look like he's rearranging it to be cool. It's probably not fooling anybody.
Then he starts walking forward. From his holster, he pulls a pen clutched between two fingers, a paintbrush between the other two. They spin between his fingers.
The pen comes up. A car is cleaved through. No, not cleaved through - the middle of it, where the penstroke touched, simply disappears out of existence. The pen sweeps sideways. The rest of the car vanishes. Just...gone. No dust. No ruins. Nothing left.
Hanako spins, sweeping around to slash away some more metal. In his other hand he grabs the brush. Impressive! Think big! Think impressive! Think...think something that'll make everybody go, 'wow, Hanako, that's amazing! You've got a bright future here!'
The cannons from the pirate ship!
Hanako's brush dips into one of the paint vials on his hip. Blue. It dips into white. The paints do not mingle. The paintbrush drips blue and white as he ducks under another chunk of metal and sweeps the pen up to wipe away more. He needs a clear line of-
The moment he has a chance, he jumps. Underneath him the pen draws platforms of black ink that splatter to the ground as he passes. The brush, meanwhile, whirls around to the crater.
The Walrus needs a place to go.
Hanako provides it.
The water lifts. No, not lifts - it's a wave, a tidal wave born in an instant to carry the Walrus up and over. As the wave lifts the Walrus high into the air, Hanako snaps the paint to the side, splattering water across the landscape in light splats.
The Walrus finds itself sailing on a high track. It traces around the battlefield, a track of water buoyed by rocks in the air, by a strange, new flying channel.
Hanako drops onto the ground. His pen snaps up.
He draws, rapidly, above the psychic.
"Let's see how you like it, jerk!"
Above the psychic, a bunch of black-and-white lines converge. Cars simply come into being. They're janky-looking cars, because Hanako has never seen a car before and he's sort of reverse-engineering it with lineart on the fly - they look sort of like what an ancient Japanese idea of a tank might look like, with too many wheels and too much length, impractical as all hell.
But when he brings the pen down they fall all the same.
|Zero Kiryu||Striking the freaked-out psychic doesn't feel right to Scizor. The blow lands, but the mass that he's striking doesn't feel right. No... more accurately, most of Tetsuo's mass is concentrated on that concealed arm. He gets knocked backwards, but the sheer mass of the thing beneath his cloak is anchoring him in place. This doesn't, at first glance, actually 'check out'. The blow does, however, cause his stability to decrease.
The mass beneath the cloak bloats grotesquely, a writhing pile of flesh intertwined with rebar latticework, vehicle parts, and what looks like is quite probably people that have gotten caught up in it previously. It doesn't seem to be under his control exactly. Screaming in what is very definitely agony as much inflicted by what's happening to his own body as rage at being struck, Tetsuo staggers in place but doesn't actually have the presence of mind to respond himself.
That's fine, because his body is prepared to respond on its own. Tiny growths of flesh begin to stretch out from the fleshmass, more like individual fingers than hands or even tentacles, trying to drag Scizor in and compact it into the glorious cancerous meatspace that is accumulating on this guy's body.
In spite of his obvious remarkable ability, Tetsuo isn't actually used to any of the things he's going through and responds to having an i-beam hurled at him with an actually fairly ordinary shout of surprise and terror. This doesn't stop him from at least instinctually realizing that he has a means to defend himself against it, because a swipe of his good arm produces a burst of telekinetic force that blunts the shattered masonry that peppers his body.
There's really no missing the godawful trunk of a right arm he has though, and as soon as that starts getting pelted he freezes up again-- until...
Something familiar happens. A massive hemispherical explosion begins to build in the surroundings, converging on him simultaneous with a volley of fire from a pirate ship of all things. A sudden glare of awareness emerges and the massive, bloated arm retracts into Tetsuo's body as the recognition triggers some kind of steadying effect.
The building explodes around him, the top -- already shattered by whatever cataclysm impacted this place -- crumbling in on itself as the top floors collapse to a new urban ruin. The overall structure is fine for the moment.
Before the effect it had on the boy himself can be seen, a sphere builds from the center of the blast. It's not entirely dis-similar to Utsuho's, a complete sphere of bright white light that radiates outward from where the top of the skyscraper used to be. Nearby rooftops vanish into nothingness, what remains of the upper structure of the skyscraper collapsed by Flint is likewise vaporized. It's not until the sphere begins to reach the new "top level" of the semi-ruined skyscraper that it eases away, and by then the force and heat has begun to beat down across the entire area.
When Tetsuo emerges from the light he hangs in the air for a moment and then plummets to the ground in a heap, before sequentially being crushed by a series of cars.
That would appear to be the end, but-- the same sort of grotesque, cancerous growth that had been the young man's arm begins to grow out of the pile, eating up the street and running it through with wildly growing flesh that rapidly bloats outwards into a coherent gigantic arm and torso. It gropes blindly at the streets to pull itself up, though it doesn't have enough of a physical form yet for there to be anything TO pull up.
This does not stop it from being so massive that it crushes adjacent buildings and sends them toppling over in the process as a tangle of flesh and random assorted parts -- including the janky, created cars, which very abruptly start to become more real and realistic on contact with the mass -- form into a torso behind it. Distantly, it might be possible to hear an awful agonizing shrieking.
|Captain Flint|| A second order to brace is given, as the ship does something it hasn't ever done before--rises into the air. Following the initial surge of force from being lifted by that hovering channel, John Silver blinks owlishly, looking over the railing as Billy helps a crew member back onto the maindeck.
"I thought you said we needed the Stone for this," the baffled quartermaster calls above the din of battle, looking over his shoulder at Flint.
The captain, having braced himself against the railing of the quarterdeck, shakes his head. "Hanako's work. Not mine. Let's seize upon the opportunity he has given us." A radio is lifted, as the crew all get back to their feet. At first, it seems as though he might not need to utter any further orders. After that mote of light, and the sight of Tetsuo falling to the earth in a defeated heap, there is a moment of pregnant silence. Have they won?
They haven't. A few of the men shrink back from the sight of that grotesque mass of flesh spreading. Billy turns his head--the sight appears to have nauseated him. "Jesus," utters Silver in disgusted shock.
But Flint's eyes are locked upon it. Zero needs something from this place. And that thing down there is disgusting--but it's in the way. He clicks the radio. "Is that grapeshot ready?"
"Yes, captain!" comes the tinny voice from the other side. "Fire at will." Grapeshot isn't like regular cannonballs--held by rope and canvas which burn away when fired, it's a tightly packed assembly of numerous smaller shots, meant for use as anti-infantry artillery. A swarm of fist sized shot so voluminous as to invite comparison to locusts angrily streaks from above towards the giant, fleshy mass.
The channel is an incredible advantage, but fighting on a river means you live and die by the speed of your gun crews, unless your vanguard is well armed enough to suppress the enemy and buy them time. There's no outmaneuvering--only outrunning and sheer force. And if they're to survive against a manifestation of brute psychic will such as this, they'll need all of the speed and strength they can get.
A massive chunk of rubble crashes against the quarterdeck, exposing the captain's cabin to open air and nearly crushing the helmsman. "Get me the topsails and t'gallants back! Mr. Silver! Munitions! Handsomely!" Silver is quick, here. It's his element. Here, the rigging and the rails are his crutch, and he's come to know the place of each intimately. As Billy and a few other pirates hurry up the mainmast to unfurl the uppermost two sails and gain a few more knots of speed, the quartermaster vanishes belowdecks. He returns, moments later, with the starboard gun crew, who begin rapidly unloading several means to augment the currently reloading cannons.
Among them is something that took three men to carry, stolen from a world a hundred years and change more advanced than Flint's own. It requires a tripod, a belt of ammunition, and a hand crank to operate. As personal weapons are handed out, the gatling gun begins its own assault, quickly joined by small arms fire from a wildly disparate range of time periods and worlds.
"Covering fire on Scizor!"
"Who the fuck is Scizor?"
"Guzma's thing," calls Billy, preparing a long, olive drab metal tube.
|Hanako Hirano|| Hanako's eyes go wide.
This is like nothing he's ever seen. A few days ago he could never have imagined this. The idea of flesh and metal interwoven was something for the foreigners from Verzueck. It was something strange and alien, but sensible. The metal there looked like it belonged.
This metal does not.
This metal is being dragged into flesh. Buildings taller than any Hanako has ever seen save the Imperial Palace collapse into the sphere of meat. A massive arm comes swinging upwards, ready to smash Hanako (and everyone else) not because of malice of intent but sheer accident. They are in the way of it, and it is a giant barely cognizant of their existence. The hand comes smashing down. A building topples over. Hanako drops backwards and brings up his pen, shielding his face with one arm.
Stroke, slash, swipe. A Zhenga character - HELP - splits the building into five parts. It simply erases the bits that were there. The bits that had been there. They're just...gone. Just vanished. The remains crash down around the young man. Dust and rubble coats him. Several pieces of rebar nail him in the head. His head hits the ground, blood peeling off his forehead.
The pen wipes away the dust and erases the rest of the skyscraper in a few broad swipes. Hanako coughs out some dust and a little bit more of the blood from the prior impact. That...definitely could've gone better.
The giant arm is still forming a torso. The best way to counteract that...is with a lot of firepower, right?
Flint's raining down cannons from on high. That means he's on the right track. But Hanako, for all his shaping power, doesn't have a lot of *direct* firepower. So...who does?
Guzma and Utsuho.
Hanako's brush starts dancing. Utsuho - raven? Crow? A beautiful thing deserves beautiful art. He can't afford to take his time, but he doesn't need to. If the Divine Brush Art was so slow it would never be worth wielding. The brush whirls in and out, dipping ink and spinning it back out.
The paint solidifies. Utsuho's wings are the color of the rising sun, coated in beautiful armor. A radiant war-dress, an armored top and swirling sunset-colored skirts, adorns her. But that's merely the protection. The real gift is the dragons.
A pair of Lung Dragons emerge from her back. They're part of her, for the moment - real dragons, real extra limbs, ready to channel and amplify the power of her form. Extra limbs for extra force. Extra might. Extra everything.
Meanwhile, Hanako's pen dances around Scizor. He can't paint things with his pen, but he can draw them. Giant lineart surrounds the Scizor. Bit by bit, the lineart takes shape, resembling a massive frame image of the bug.
A finishing swipe, and the lineart fills itself in, and the Scizor finds itself wearing a massive kaiju shape of itself.
That's all Hanako can do at the moment as debris continues to rain down. He has to dance out of the way, avoid the strikes, and snap back with little strokes of the pen.
|Guzma||There's a giant mechanical fleshman. As the boy's writhing pile of technoflesh grows, tries to drag in Scizor, and compact it, Scizor moves to punch and kick until it can break free, taking damage but able to jump back. It clicks, and then - Hanako comes in. He starts painting, and Scizor...
Is evolving?! Guzma does not hold B, as the mass changes, and...
Congratulations! Your Scizor has evolved into...SCIZILLA!
Scizilla (which is actually just a painted Scizor) reaches down, picks up Guzma with its pincers, and throws him on the shoulder. And then, taking a boxing stance, Scizilla moves to power-up, and...
"Scizilla, Bullet Punch!"
...throw a massive hit straight for the mass's fleshy arm. If it manages to get a second hit, a wandering giant kaiju, it throws it into the torso, trying to figure out which is the better target to aim for.
|Utsuho Reiuji||After Utsuho fires her series of blasts, she takes off, lifting into the air. For all that she has bird wings, and *is* a bird at least some of the time, she doesn't fly like a bird right now; she more hovers than flaps, her attitude adjusted by tiny flares of light down near her feet. The foot she actually has that isn't encased in old melted concrete has some visible rings of light rippling around it, like a very stylized atomic model.
So as she rises, Utsuho gets a better look at... whatever that arm is. Utsuho looks at it. Then she looks at her own control rod, the eight-sided pole replacing her right arm from just below the elbow, and checks her encased foot for good measure. Then she looks back up as Tetsuo's arm starts to distort further.
"You did it wrong!" she calls at Tetsuo. "I don't know what you sacrificed to, but you didn't do it as well as me!" She might have said more, but a sphere of light that is *not* hers erupts, radiating down and away from Tetsuo.
Utsuho is completely unworried about the heat. She deals with heat whenever she works around or on the liquid magma in Hell, or when she produces her own fusion-powered sunshine. That, at least, is not a threat to her.
Nothing protects her from the force that accompanies it. It slams her back down, bouncing her off the ground in a fashion that might be comedic if it wasn't so painful. Utsuho's thrusters launch her quite a ways into the air once the pulse has cleared, revealing...
Okay. That's new.
"Agh! That's disgusting! I thought I'd seen a lot of disgusting things!" Utsuho, resident of Hell, has nonetheless not ever really seen body horror right like that. Her first instinct is to make it go away, and that's exactly what she tries to do: one arm bracing her control rod, her two dragons curling past her wings and lifting up her cloak even further.
When did I get those? she thinks to herself, followed by: "Where did my old clothes go!?" That part, Utsuho blurts out, because she wasn't expecting a brand-new armoured dress.
She can figure that out later. At the end of Utsuho's rod, and in the open mouths of both dragons, a sphere of white-hot energetic annihilation begins to form. They grow larger and larger, the core white, fading to pinkish-red only at the very edge. Utsuho becomes hard to see, and then impossible, hidden behind the triple spheres.
They all get launched out simultaneously, into the increasingly gigantic *thing*. They are so hot and energetic that they don't just melt the ground when they get close - they vaporize it, leaving a trail of annihilation behind them. She has, at least, aimed away from the other fighters - it's a big target - but the heat is still intense anywhere near it. "If you want to try to stand up to the Sun - you can't!"
|Yuuki Kuran||A brilliant ocean painted onto the landscape for the Walrus to fly upon. Draconic wings for Utsuho, and a massive Kaiju.
"Wow... That new painter... Is great!" She exclaims, red-brown eyes for the moment locked on the brilliant work of Hanako Hirano's exqusite brushwork.
This means she's not watching Tetsuo at all as a massive mutagenic mass of meat and bits of metal grind her body into a shadowy and smoky smear.
Hanako finds himself right next to a Second Yuuki, dressed identically except her hair is cut short rather than hanging long. "You're Hanako, right? Just joined? Welcome! You're great! We had a whole scheme to get something to do what you're doing... barely even remotely as well. Wanna become a cool sailor? Talk to Captain Flint about our plan!"
First Yuuki, meanwhile, begins heaving up the limb of mutated meat, sliding out from under it and placing her fists on her hips. "I feel a little resposible for causing you this much pain. Even if it's reasonable for there to be a fight... I still feel bad."
Second Yuuki tosses First Yuuki a long metal cylinder that extends into a large scythe with a crackle of electric power. Leaping, Yuuki lazily swings the scythe-blade down on the Torso-uo ball that shrieks in agony, but the wind-force that follows it shears with a black, static-y bzzzznt of life-ending force.
|Zero Kiryu||The colossal figure begins to take proper shape. Something resembling -- distantly -- a head begins to emerge around the time that Flint's crew starts in with the grapeshot. It raises an undersized left arm to shield itself from the oncoming fire, its fingers bursting more like boils or pustules than anything you would call fingers, a combination of bone and metallic superstructure underneath revealed momentarily as the skeleton. It begins to piece itself back together -- slowly -- before the additional smallarms fire and gatling gun begin to beat in against it.
It lifts its whole arm to shield its head, enormous and misshapen eyes opening briefly and then squinting in agitation at the stimulation of being repeatedly shot. It swings blindly towards the ship with its increasingly short, mauled stump, but something strange happens as it does.
A peppering of holes begin to open in its head from the sustained fire, but that's not the strange thing. Some of those miniscule tendrils branch off and *stay* focused on the ship. One would imagine that they're coming in in a smaller form to attack a smaller enemy, but that's not what happens. At least, not immediately, and not directly. Cancerous ligaments and fingers grope through the ship -- pushing aside people within, yes, if necessary but not making a goal of doing so -- and their cause isn't clear until they find stores of consumables.
Mainly, alcohol and any drugs that might be aboard. As soon as that happens it starts breaking them open, trying desperately to consume them.
A moment later, a voice echoes in everyone's minds-- Zero Kiryu's voice in particular, << Watch out. >>
The biomechanical baby is confronted by KAIJU SCIZOR an instant later, punched right in its good arm. Malformed flesh compacts and presses in on itself, parting hideously around metallic bone and fibers that were making up parts of its musculature as the flesh gives before the metal and cable.
Utsuho's own nuclear furnace combines with the augmentations offered by Hanako, burning through the mass of the thing-- it doesn't seem "defensively strong" exactly, but there is one thing about it that is disgustingly problematic. It's like there's always more of it, somewhere, somehow. As if the cancer isn't a cancer of a being in particular, but a cancer of the world.
The flimsy tendrils attached to Flint's ship are cut loose during all of this, converging into a smaller blob beneath decks.
The greater mass is melted, compacted in on itself, and finally cleaved through by the action of First Yuuki's mighty scythe blow. There is a mighty quivering from the quivering lumps left before they burst outward a second and final time, semispheres of light that do not burn but appear to be deleting everything above them spilling upwards into the sky, threatening anybody who happens to still be proximal to the site of the mass's death and leaving the world empty where it had been.
|Guzma||As the quivering lumps detonate, the deletion energy grazes Scizor, erasing armor as if it was never there and leaving organic, injured underside of the arm it hit. It can repair itself with help from a pokecenter and lots of rest, but for now, it hisses, and roars.
The roar is deafening at this size. Enough to cow any thugs still around, hopefully, as Scizor rampages away, trying to crush any flesh that remains. If none, that's fine, but the roar itself is powerful enough.
Guzma has Scizor, wounded, bring him towards Flint's ship, and deposit him up top. He won't be able to get to what remains before Flint does, but hopefully, they can rest there.
|Hanako Hirano|| It's eating the landscape.
It's eating the landscape!
The words click together in his head. The words come with images. The images come together in his mind as if he was flipping through his sketchbook. The location of every person on the battlefield. Everything he can see. Everything he can account for. Everyone's attacks, everyone's strikes. They're all punching into something that's eating everything around it.
His eyes snap open.
So the answer is obvious.
The brush dips into the black ink. He splatters it in front of him and holsters the brush.
He grabs a second pen.
He *painted* a second pen.
He has no time to think. Just act. And so he acts. Like a conductor, he raises the pens. Like a conductor, he brings them down.
The sky around the monster just disappears. A white gap, as if it had been erased from existence. There is no sky. There is no dust. There is no *matter*. There's simply...nothing.
Hanako brings the pens down around it. He erases, and erases, and erases, and erases. He wipes out the ground under it. He wipes out the chunks flying towards it. Every chance he gets he scratches out a little more existence, a little more of the world. White. White. White. White. A blank canvas. The world swept away.
Hanako falls to his knees. Faster. Faster. It's eating more and more and more. It's building more and more and more. He has to go faster. Has to keep up. Has to keep going. Has to give everyone a chance to hammer it down. Has to...has to...
The second pen falls out of his hand. He grabs the other one with both hands as the second pen splatters into black paint on the ground.
He keeps erasing. Erasing. Erasing. He's cutting out gaps for the Scizilla. He's cutting out gaps for Utsuho's gun. He's cutting away chunks for the cannonballs, for the ship. He's cutting away chunks for Yuuki to have a clear shot. He's cutting, and cutting, and cutting, and cutting, and reality snips away a little more at a time.
And then he hits the ground, the pen gripped in his hand, his strength exhausted.
|Captain Flint|| A gruff, deliberate voice chimes in on the Walrus' local frequency. It's as if every word is an effort in itself to speak. "He's stealing our rum."
"Who gave Randall a radio?"
"He's stealing our rum."
"Mr. Silver, get down there and take that radio from him."
"He's stealing our--"
The sight John Silver rushes back below to see is exactly what Randall said. Fleshy tendrils, one of which has just tossed the eccentric, addled, one-legged cook aside, are hauling off the supplies of rum, as well as some tobacco and opium seized from a prior haul.
"Mr. Silver, report."
"He's stealing our rum. Randall knows more about it than I would." Of course, he's not just going to let it happen. As some bizarre, horrible form of peristalsis draws the illicit substances down those tendrils like veins, Silver draws his saber and begins retaliating, attempting to chop those tendrils into pieces. He is joined by Randall, leaning on the bulkhead of the hold and furiously beating one of them with his removed prosthetic leg.
He really is stealing it--but it's the swipe of that hand which is the worse problem. The force of even a lazy swat like that from something so massive is enough to nearly capsize the ship. That causes all sorts of complications. For one, heavy cannons belowdecks, falling out through the other side of the ship and grievously injuring any crew unlucky enough to be on the wrong side. The same, for cannonballs. The mainmast snaps in half on the ship's perilous way back upright, tossing a sniper from the crow's nest as men scramble to prevent their fellows from going overboard.
Most of the munitions fall overboard, too, carried down the winding river and out of the crew's grasp. The majority of them, Flint included, are occupied with saving those who fell overboard--but as Silver's report comes in, inspiration strikes him. As long as he still has a ship... as long as he still has a pulse... he will keep fighting. This little bastard has something of Zero's. And if he wants the rum... he can have it.
Flint ventures belowdecks. The Walrus is silent save the cries of wounded men; no one is focused on returning fire. Except the captain. A crate of rum snatched, strips of fabric shorn from an ajacent bolt of textiles. Corks removed, fabric stuffed into the necks of the bottles. He marches back abovedecks, the crew still standing giving him a wide berth. He's got that look in his eye.
The crate is set into a launch hanging lopsided from the starboard side of the ship. The fabric fuses are lit patiently, one after the other with a struck match. With a swipe of his cutlass, the ropes are cut, the launch splashes into the river. "DROP ANCHOR!" This would normally be ruinous for the ship--but with no mainmast, it's merely a bad idea. The Walrus gives an angry creak as its mass strains against the heavy links of the anchor's chain, coming to so sudden a stop. Several men are thrown off their feet.
As Billy gets back to his, Flint is upon him. "Give me that." The olive-drab tube is taken from the boatswain, as the flaming crate of rum overtakes the ship. "IF YOU WANT THE RUM, TAKE IT WHILE YOU STILL CAN!" It's time-sensitive. Take it now, or risk the rest of it going up in flames. It's a ploy, to get that massive arm away from the center of fleshy mass.
"Get down." Flint prepares the rocket launcher, and Billy hits the deck. An HE rocket hisses as backblast flashes brilliantly, the flames setting a loose length of shorn rigging ablaze. The rocket is headed straight for that malformed face.
|Utsuho Reiuji||Watch out?
"Watch out for what?" Utsuho, having been semi-distracted with investigating her new dragon buddies (as she is thinking of them), turns her attention back to the giant *thing* with an almost audible snap of focus.
Parts of it are clinging, parts of it are melting; Utsuho's eyes dart from one end of the monstrosity to the other. This is a little outside her experience, but that doesn't mean she can't try. Since she was told to watch out, she holds her rod forward, creating a shining wall of churning white energy in front of her.
The wall cannot possibly stop what actually appears - bubbles of *not*. Utsuho feels herself being pulled toward as part of the air is destroyed, leaving a vacuum behind, and that's what the wall does help with - stray objects near Utsuho, waves of energy, those hit the barrier as she spins it around herself like a physical shield and vaporize or deflect.
She actually has to flap her wings to maintain aerial control, and that's a weird feeling with the dragons there - not wrong or unnatural-feeling, just unaccustomed, as she holds them instinctively in a different manner to avoid tangling with her wings or her cloak.
More gaps appear, but these are Hanako's gaps. White lines, white patches around the ship and the Scizor. It takes Utsuho a moment to realize what they are and what they are for, but as soon as she does she is enthusiastic about it; she spreads her arms, emitting crescent-arc waves of energy in random directions.
They swirl around for a moment before descending on the monstrosity. Utsuho isn't just trying to kill it - she's aiming to vaporize parts of it she can see, carving through them with fusion heat. Because come on, that thing is gross. (She is not even thinking of it as a person.)
|Yuuki Kuran||For a moment, Kuran Yuuki is made aware of the potential damage by simply the tone of Zero's voice in her head. With a puff of pale purple-white butterflies, she simply disappears.
The butterflies are consumed by the expanding zone of terrible psychic agony and encroachment that Hanako draws and draws and draws around. Second Yuuki looks on, aghast, both hands over her mouth. Too horrified to speak, because she *feels* the agony, tasting it on the air and growing deeply sad.
"It's alright, Hanako. You don't have to burn yourself for me. I can see how brilliant you are. You're new."
Another Yuuki, on the deck of the Walrus, stands by Billy and smiles, patting him on the shoulder as Flint takes aim with his RPG. Both speak as one. "And Flint has already heard this one, but it's worth repeating. This isn't a death march. This is a family. Care for yourselves, because I care about you."
Next to Utsuho, another Yuuki floats on a handful of butterflies, putting on a large pair of novelty sunglasses to hide the blast. "I'm glad you're all here, and look! Look at how powerful and amazing everyone is. All, together, bearing some of the work. Because I asked, you came. And that's why I appreciate it."
Next to Guzma, another, with a large foam finger that reads 'SCIZOR #1'. "We're going to do it! And don't worry, even if you stumble. I'm here. I'll pick you up."
|Zero Kiryu||Hanako will realize something quite interesting when he starts voiding things out: It isn't just eating the landscape. Yes, that's a part of it, and yes, voiding out its surroundings so it can't casually reconstruct itself with whatever garbage is laying around absolutely helps immensely. But it's also creating, from nothing at all, mass. After all, it grew out of a single fairly runty japanese teenager; there's no way that that guy simply had a tremendously tumorous arm for no reason.
For now, it doesn't matter. Denying it 'easy' food is enough to batter it down and stop it from regrowing. It was already one foot out the door -- insofar as anything left of it remaining could be recognized as a foot at all, which truly is becoming less true the more that the cancer-baby is being pulverized by fire from without.
Below decks of the Walrus, John Silver finds himself in an incredibly unusual situation. The tendrils that he was chopping at came in contact with some of the opium and, immediately, *instantly*, the grotesque cancerous life-mass resolved into the young man that had become the core of the ccreature. Only-- he's pacified. A glance of telekinetic force is enough to stop the initial hasty swipe towards a "monster", but Tetsuo Shima sits there amidst the rum and opium and whatever else is stowed among the goods he 'stole', brought back to physical coherence by the power of drugs.
He doesn't take any sort of offensive action. Like a patient provided painkillers he issues a deep, relieved sigh and lays back on the battered deck.
The great, out-of-control mass below doesn't react. It doesn't react because the intelligent part of it, the one that knew what could soothe it, could bring it back together, is gone. It doesn't matter because the source of its intelligence is gone. It reacts to noise, to naked stimulus, and reaches.
The rocket finds the giant technobaby's head and bursts it like a melon, showering tissue -- very little brain tissue, all told -- across the bizarrely cleanly excised streets.
Utsuho finds herself clearing up the remaining mass, which sizzles and pops like the human flesh that it is -- albeit with random landscape and machinery incorporated into it -- smoking briefly with a scent like pork before ceasing altogether to be.
|Hanako Hirano|| Yuuki tells him it's okay. As he slumps forward, he hears her tell him it's okay. That she sees he's brilliant. That he's new, but that he's good. He hears Flint tell him that he's an advantage.
Scizor's Drawn-a-Max form disappears, a flood of ink that hits the ground and washes outwards in a wave. Utsuho's Dragon Arms crumble to paint chips and blow away in the wind.
Hanako stands with a wobble in the knees. He fetches the pen. It disappears into his holster. With a quick few swipes - ignoring the pain in his arm - he draws a gentle slope of water to get the Walrus back to its crater. He's trying desperately to ignore the smell, and the pain.
Awkwardly, he makes his way over to Utsuho. Up close, he is remarkably, uh, pretty. And not really in a boy sort of way. "Hey. I'm Hanako Hirano. Nice to meet you."
He scratches his cheek and looks up and away from her.
"...you look really cute in that dress. Keep it, OK?"
Then he pushes his bandanna down like a cowboy hat and walks past her. He *definitely* thinks it makes him look cool and mysterious.
It also allows him to avoid commenting on the fact that he might've drawn that sunset-colored neckline a little *too* low to account for her chest-eye. Judging by the blush on his face as he walks past her, that is probably the more major contributor.
He slides his hand into his pocket, scribbles a chair into being, and sits down on it, exhausted. It's a weird-looking sketch of a chair, but it works! Somehow.
|Utsuho Reiuji||Determined to burn out the... thing, Utsuho exerts herself just a little more to send another wave of light shots out. She really wants that thing to be gone.
Part of her is thinking, though: Man, that thing would fuel the fires for *ages*. But she can't think of any way to bring it back, and she's not sure she wants to touch it, anyway.
When Yuuki appears, Utsuho swerves a shot around her. "Yeah!" she says, pleased by the words. "I don't regret coming! This is - well, okay, it's not the *best*. But I'm glad I came. Even if I do hurt now. Aah, I want to relax after..."
The thing is dead. There's no way it can't be. Utsuho lowers herself down, touching down as her dragon buddies vanish in a cloud of slightly scorched paint chips. That's when Hanako walks over to her. She has never really spoken to him in person before, but that just means she can do it now.
"Nice to meet you too! I went to your city, at least I think it was, but I couldn't find you and so I left again. I haven't really been to human cities that big before." She pauses, slightly confused by his own words. "It is? Well - it is a neat dress..." She looks it over again. Usually she wears green, but she is pretty sure you have to make an exception for gifts. She'll ask Rin to be sure.
|Captain Flint|| Billy looks up at Yuuki. "...whatever you said to him stuck. He's not the same." The old Flint wouldn't have waited. He wouldn't have taken time to ensure the crew were safe before firing back.
If Flint heard Billy's answer, he doesn't seem to show it. He does, however, respond to his quartermaster's summons on the radio.
"You're going to want to come down here."
"Understood. Billy... please take the remaining launch. Gather up anyone who fell overboard. Mr. Silver, see that Howell is ready to tend to the injured." There is a pause. A look over his shoulder. "Yuuki. If you would join me in the hold..." He must've heard her, then. The sight which awaits Flint in the hold is not one that he expected at all. It's the same boy he saw perched atop that skyscraper. The cause of all the trouble. Silver smiles weakly at Yuuki on his way back abovedecks.
"Give us the room," says Flint to Randall, who follows behind Silver with his usual sour expression.
"Sit up." There is no fear in Flint's voice as he gives that command. If necessary to rouse Tetsuo, he even nudges him with a boot. If he's sober enough to listen, Flint speaks. And if not... then the Walrus will just have a passenger, for a time.
But, assuming the first case is true: "What you did demanded an answer, and that answer has been given." The Concord can't allow people to steal from it and escape reprisal. But they aren't vicious leashed killers. They respect might, power, and the pursuit of greatness.
"Presently, you have a choice." His saber is sheathed. He pulls up a crate of oranges and stacks another atop it. "Think about what you want for yourself. If you want to go back into that squalor and rule over the leavings of dead men, my ship will take you back to it." Flint takes a seat on the crates.
"But if you should want something more than what those ruins can offer you... control, mastery of your strength, your destiny..." He grins roguishly, looking over his shoulder at the shattered stores of opium and rum behind him. "Libations... my family can ensure you have what you need to seize those things. Consistently."
|Yuuki Kuran||One by one, as they're addressed, the extra Yuuki's smile and then wink out into clouds of butterflies.
Leaving Hanako, they nod. "Take it easy, Hanako! You've done so much that you probably hurt yourself. You have so much power within you. Don't fight it so much! Become a well-built channel, and be strong enough to contain what you are. You paint beautifully."
Leaving Utsuho, she laughs. "I want to relax too! I'm glad you're taking to this well. Just remember, if you need help - let people know!"
Leaving Guzma, she smirks. "You've gotten a lot strong, Guzma. I'm glad! You should work on more than just Golisopod and Scizor -- and remember, you're running with us now! So you can try out two at the same time! Like... Imagine a spider friend and Golisopod, so you can ferociously attack while webbing them down! Ooo, combos!" She steeples her fingers. "I trust you to grow even stronger!"
Flint is the one that is treated differently. Yuuki stands besides Billy, nodding slowly. Much more serene, she draws in some of Flints old impassivity with a breath, and holds there. "Sometimes people need to hear the right words. Not the kindest words, or the harshest words, or the words they want to hear, but the right ones. The ones that matter. So, keep speaking *your* mind too, Billy. Be known for speaking your whole mind, and you'll live a life having said many 'right words'."
As Flint draws her belowdecks she raises her hands. "No thank you, James. I don't need to hold your hand. In this, finding homes for the broken and families for the shattered, you are the senior and the expert."
Clasping her hands together at her waist, she too disappears in a cloud of butterflies.
"I trust you." Is carried on the wind down into the hold of the Walrus.
|Zero Kiryu||To call Tetsuo Shima conscious would be to go a step too far. No, he's not unconscious, and no drugs don't take that much out of him either. But he still has a dreamy quality to him, and it takes him several long moments to re-create his clothes. What he summons up most closely resembles a set of white hospital scrubs-- though he has more the look of a patient than a doctor or a nurse in spite of that. Perhaps this is just what patients wore when all of this started, for him.
There's a twinge of annoyance at being commanded. A quirk of the brow, a hardening of the features. He doesn't react violently, but it's not hard to look at him and see somebody who probably didn't get any respect until he'd long since ceased to expect it from anybody. He's small, even in this apparently re-created body. Without a gun in his hand or a display of his powers so far, he'd register as a non-threat.
But he does sit up grudgingly, a sour and distant expression on his features. Like a sulky teenager-- which he is!
"I don't know what the fuck you're talking about," he says. He's telling the truth. As far as Tetsuo Shima knows, he didn't steal from the Concord. Moreover, he has the poker face of an angry bull; whatever lies he's told have been unbelievable and either egotistical or mean-spirited jokes. It's not hard to see through him in that regard. There's a lot of built up scar tissue from nobody giving a shit about him when it counted. Flint's probably seen it a hundred times.
'Think what you want for yourself' gets an aggravated noise that could be expected coming from a petulant teenager, but there's a sense that Tetsuo is looking away-- not with eyes. It's been obvious enough he's barely bound by a body as it is, so that's no great surprise.
But he flexes a hand, which is not presently a cancerous growth or generated from scrap metal.
"If I knew what I wanted I wouldn't be here. But fine. If none of that is code for 'we're going to stick you in a room you can't come and go from'. There's somebody I've gotta grab, but I can take care of it later if it's a hassle," he says. Every word is grudging, and it's not hard to imagine that every word he's spoken has been grudging for a while.
|Captain Flint|| That answer is understandable. Few people know what they really want, much less those of Tetsuo's age. "No gilded cages," says Flint with a shake of his head. "Our Concord is like a family. Families sometimes squabble amongst each other, but the ones which stay together do so because they have a vested interest in each other's success. Not in holding each other back out of petty jealousy or fear."
"I'm no doubt needed abovedecks." He rises from the crates. "Take the time you need--the mainmast will take a few days to have in working order, anyway. When you're ready, we'll be waiting for you in the crater lake not far from here. My boatswain can ferry you aboard, if necessary."
A hand is offered for Tetsuo to shake. This is not a man who fears what he is--it's a man who recognizes it, and sees potential.
|Zero Kiryu||Half out of a desire to demonstrate some strength (in spite, perhaps, of already having abundantly done so), half simply responsive to somebody taking him seriously, Tetsuo Shima shakes Captain Flint's hand.
He offers no further words; though he has not been dismissed, he acknowledges silently that there is a Mess, and resolves to take care of his unfinished business on his own.