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|Jonathan Joestar|| LAST TIME:
The monstrous Accept is slain at last, and his body is left trapped in crystal, to be destroyed by the rising sun. Exhausted, the Elites drag themselves onwards, to Kom Ombo with the plan being to recover their strength, wait for any reinforcements to arrive, and plan their attack at nightfall.
While it might seem non-sensical to attack at night when your enemy may be in the company of a vampire, Jonathan explains that it is unlikely that if DIO were there, he wouldn't have counter-measures in place for a daytime assault. If they were going to seize the initiative, it would have to be at the moment the sun set over the horizon.
They settle in for the morning at a simple inn, modern by the standards of the late 1800's and run by a stocky and moustachioed man of mixed arabian descent.
Jonathan pulls his leather gloves taut, breathing in deeply. It was almost time, now.
They would need to cross the river to the Temple of Kom Ombo, a task made difficult by the recent collapse of the bridge between the city and touring site. According to the innkeep, the workers who'd come to clean up the Temple for public viewing had not been seen hide nor hair from since it had happened.
Speedwagon nervously fiddles with the brim of his hat, "Even I, Speedwagon, am afraid of what might confront us. Without a doubt, that Temple has become a nest for things most unsightly!"
Jonathan nods his head, adjusting his star-spangled shirt, "If I'm right, then, it will be swarming with enemies. It is an ancient site, though not as old as the ruin from which we excavated the arrows. Even so, we must stay on our toes, lest we fall prey to a foul trap."
"The first step is to make our way across those rushing rapids. A boat won't do in this case, but perhaps we could figure out how to make a bridge?"
|Yuuki Kuran||"A nest for things most unsightly? Why, Speedwagon, that's silly." Yuuki Kuran chides with humor, righting a tiny bowler cap atop her head where it adheres, as if via magic (it's a clip), and adjusts the sleeve of her action gothic eveningwear. "If you and Jonathan are archaeologists, there is no place that is unsightly. You go there to see. You are simply afraid because you have experience with what lies in tombs. History rising up to terrorize you is always terrorizing, especially for those who care about it."
She smiles and pats Speedwagon on the shoulder. "Everything will be fine. We'll experience history with friends, and the danger will be lessened. Isn't that right, Jonathan?"
|Hibiki Tachibana|| Last time on JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, valuable lessons were learned about letting your guard down, and about how much of a monster the shadowy DIO truly is. Which, everyone here probably has a good idea of that anyway, but you know. While it is true he has and is been getting away with it, Hibiki is determined to put a stop to it before it gets any worse. Taking advantage of people like Accept...
Onto today, at the riverbank.
Hibiki has her hood up and her hands in her jacket pockets, contemplative about the missing workers - and she wishes there was more guessing as to what might've befell them. "Wouldn't be a ruin without some traps," she mutters. Is that a joke? It's hard to say. She steps over towards the edge to peer down into the rapids, then across with a rub of her chin. "I could just jump it myself, and probably take someone with me...but that's slow. And not really ideal when we have a group this big." She turns around, looking towards one Yuuki Kuran and one Zero Kiryu in particular. "I don't suppose we could trade out that 'train' you talked about earlier for 'bridge'?"
|Zero Kiryu||"Making a bridge is not a problem," Zero says, simply.
He produces a seed in the palm of his hand and chucks it across the river. In terms of sheer strength clearing a distance like this, or even a positively ludicrous distance, is a simple enough task in that way. After a moment he produces another seed and rolls it to the edge of the river. Each seeds in their turn grow rapidly, burying themselves partially in the ground before beginning to twist upwards.
They steadily self-construct a series of support structures as they build forward, making a fairly physically robust bridge that will hold itself up just fine as long as there's nothing unusual -- no trickery -- going on with the river itself.
Truthfully, Zero doesn't really expect there to NOT be trickery going on with the river itself. But he sees no real reason not to give it a shot anyway.
|Crys Gattz||The monstrous Accept is dead, what is left of its remains is trapped in a crystal that will perish with the next sunrise. Crys can live with that she's been beaten up and is chugging on a monomate to help ease them a bit and later she would be ready to crash at the inn. She would just faceplant on her bed and pass out very quickly afterwards.
She is up having recovered more and is now back with the party heading out.
"Well I have some good news for you, I have experience in cleaning out ruins full of horrible things that should not be. Not to mention an evil god of destruction." ^R
she looks at the water for a moment thinking.
"A bridge could work, hmmm. It's too fast to try and freeze the water...."
Thankfully Zero is with them still and he's able to solve that problem very fast.
"We shouldn't delay."
With that she'll move to start crossing the bridge Zero has made.
|Ben d'Tarkanan|| The fight with Accept is still fresh on his mind--more so than it should be, even though it was only a night prior.
oO0(What manner of man is this Dio, that his minions would strike even the unarmed, the unsuspecting?
The sight of their guide's grisly death at the hands of Accept's sudden ambush is sticking with him--enough so that he's certain it would come up, were he to use the powers of stealth conferred by his Dragonmark. Hopefully, there won't be a need for it.
"A bridge, you say?" Anything to take his mind off of it--off of the looming threat even more dangerous than the last two, which sorely tested him. "I believe I could, with some help from our friend Master Kiryu," says Ben with a smile.
His sword, a simple but masterfully made thing, is unsheathed and pointed towards the rapids. The pommel, a silver, tentacled, many-eyed fanged monster, gleams in the fading light. When Zero's support structures begin to appear, he furrows his brow. With the tip of the bastard sword pointed into the rapids, a lance of sickly green energy which seems almost smoky is fired.
At first, nothing happens, but just as the 'bridge' portion begins to appear, the supports are reinforced.
The bones of long-dead reanimated aquatic life climb up the supports, dissassembling themselves to form reinforcements.
Ben clicks his tongue. Over the dunes comes a skeletal camel, which he climbs astride in one fluid movement, tossing his bedroll over it to form an impromptu saddle, and crossing the bridge thereafter.
|Tina Natsumi||After taking a much needed power nap and spending some time figuring out the bathroom situation, Tina's looking fresh and raring to go! Physically. Mentally, she's still reeling, but it's not like she'll be able to relax until they know that DIO's threat has been dealt with for good. She's good at acting like she isn't, at least, even going as far as ordering some local food for the ACTION CREW to get their energy back up in a more concrete way.
"I don't suppose our planty... Stuff friend 'ere might have a solution to the bridge problem, eh?" She asks of Zero< chuckling once he proves to be way ahead of her already. "Good thing, too. Afraid Uncle Sam ain't much of a floater, contrary to my... Uh.."
She takes a moment to glance around at present company, grinning mischievously without elaborating further.
"Anyway. Yuuk's is right. Can't say I've known y'all for long, but there sure as hell ain't a whole lotta people I'd rather be here with." After adjusting her big dumb cowboy hat, Tina flicks the brim idly while starting to cross the bridge cautiously. She leans over to peer at the sides as Ben adds his own touch to Zero's bridge, whistling after a moment and snapping a picture of the mixture of life and death right there.
"Neat... Ah. DIO's guys are probably thinkin' the same thing of each other, though, if that Accept guy was any indication. Might even be hiding and watching for us." Tina brings out her phone, snaps a picture of herself, and out comes the large-ish mechanical Persona besides her. "Let's see if I can't get 'em to show themselves when a big juicy target is walking right in, eh?"
|Jonathan Joestar|| "M-Miss Kuran!"
Speedwagon, a man who wears his heart on his sleeve, is moved by her confidence and faith in her friends. Jonathan nods, providing a thumbs up, "Exactly right! Baron Zeppeli had once said, that 'Courage' is to know your fear, and own it. No matter what's waiting ahead, we'll all confront it, together."
Zero's seeds grow without issue -- the previous one had been made with rope and plank, suspended precariously. This one, it was far sturdier. There didn't seem to be anything odd about the water, besides the force from which it was flowing. Ordinarily, the river was not so violent, but with Ben's reinforcements, this does not become a problem.
With a bridge established, Jonathan and Speedwagon also move to cross it, the latter looking rather impressed with the versatility of the plant-life. "Incredible ... it really is amazing what you can do!"
It doesn't take long for the group to reach the other end, only a scant few minutes of walking .. and when they do, the sun begins to set over the horizon. The bright golden hue of the temple begins to gleam ominously under the bright red sky. The Temple is a massive ruin, but there is a clear way forward, a gigantic staircase which ascends towards the primary complex. Jonathan speeds forward in a jog, quickly and easily climbing the staircase. " ... !"
"These doors won't budge ... there's some kind of mechanism in place, I think."
Scrawled in paint, messily, are two owls. One is done in red, above a left arrow, and one in blue, above a right arrow. Below each arrow is a letter, although they've both been smudged beyond recognition.
Jonathan folds his arms, as Speedwagon catches up to him. "Perhaps this is a guide to opening the door? The ancient egyptians viewed Owls as symbols of calamity ..."
Turning to face the group, Jonathan clicks his tongue, "We should probably split up into two groups to look around for anything related to owls. One can search the outskirt of the Temple to the left, and the other can take the right. I'll stay here with Speedwagon, and will make sure to inform of any updates."
|Yuuki Kuran||"If it's a choice between a left hand path and a right hand path..."
Yuuki pulls out her phone as Speedwagon gushes. Checking her idioms for a moment, she laughs and points around the right periphery. "I'd certainly prefer the right-hand. Let's go, Zero!"
Yuuki takes two steps pauses, and turns. "Which is what I'd mean to say, but I forgot a bit. Since I'm done with DIO just capturing or incapacitating you, Jonathan, I think I'll also stay here."
SECOND YUUKI appears in a flutter of white butterflies, wearing a sun hat and oversized sungasses and a loose summery outfit -- and carrying a folding chair and a towel. Deploying the former, and then the latter over, Second Yuuki sits down next to Jonathan with a romance novel and idles next to the two archaeologists.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| Plants /are/ handy. Hibiki watches with some measure of awe at the combination of Zero having the perfect solution and Ben's somewhat morbid but extremely effective addition to it. Not exactly what she was thinking of, but even better. "Amazing..." There are definitely advantages to how varied their group here is. She looks down at her own hand, clenches it into a fist briefly, and follows behind the others.
Night falls, and they come upon the Temple in full. It's another thing that definitely inspires awe, even without the golden sands in full radiance under the dark sky. Yet their path is barred. "Great." She furrows her brow as she crests the stairway behind Speedwagon and hears Jonathan, though her attention is soon drawn to the painted owls as well.
"Symbols of calamity...now I'm double sure there's going to be something bad waiting for us." Hibiki folds her arms briefly, then takes a deep breath and immediately unfurls them again, punching a fist into the opposite palm. "Since we came this far, nothing for it. Let's get this out of the way fast. I'll take...this way." Hibiki starts towards the left, though she does pause briefly to glance behind her shoulder. But with YUUKI THE SECOND keeping watch over the pair of earnest Englishmen, she ends up simply nodding to herself and continuing onward.
How hard can finding some owl-related puzzle objects really be?
|Crys Gattz||Crys Gattz is glad Speedwagon is along with the group. The man has skills she lacks and he's good at keeping spirits up. At least her own, and so she takes another look at Ben's adding necromantic support to Zero's bridge and just stares for a moment. "Never seen anything like that." She'll keep moving for the moment until she takes notice of what Jojo has spotted. She thinks for a moment and will follow after Hibiki heading for the left and calling out.
"So owl based puzzels? That I can look for. I still have one eye left after all."
She'll start chatting with Hibiki a bit as she goes.
"Here's hoping we don't find an evil god sealed down here and we end up breaking the seal on them."
It sounds like the Newman is mostly joking...
|Zero Kiryu||Zero inclines his head towards Ben, broadly acknowledging the reinforcement of the building structure.
"I would make the assumption that they're already broadly aware of us," he advises Tina, dully.
Towards Speedwagon, he says, "It's taken some getting used to. I used to be able to cover about the space of a single manor house."
Though, making another rope-bridge would probably have been plenty plausible.
His gaze follows Jonathan's at the top of the staircase, towards the owls and the arrows. There's something about it that bothers him... mainly, it's the painted nature of signage that is exposed to an outdoor, desert environment. Ruins like this were plenty prone to having intact paintings; but usually not in a specific situation like this. The paint that's been scraped away -- leaving missing information -- feels more natural.
Frowning, Zero deposits a seed on the ground near where Second Yuuki turns up, and then follows after Yuuki Prime to the RIGHT.
|Ben d'Tarkanan|| "I appreciate your confidence in me, Goodlady," says Ben to Tina as his bone-camel click-clacks its way across the bridge. He seems to sit a little straighter atop his mount, at the sound of her faith in the others present. "I believe I speak for all of my cohorts when I say that we, too, feel heartened, for the presence of yourself and your dear uncle."
The ride to the temple proper is thankfully uneventful, but at the sight of Jonathan briskly jogging forward, Ben can't help feeling curious. With quirked brow, he dismounts, following up that sizeable staircase. "By the Dragon Below, this trip seems determined to punish me for lax adherence to my daily constitutional," he jokes--though he doesn't look too worse for wear.
Ben listens intently, peering at the owl depictions with renewed interest. "I see," he replies with a nod, stroking his chin. "Indeed, Goodlady," he offers, in agreement with Hibiki, "Absent any more clear indication," muses the necromancer, pointing at the unfortunately smudged writing beneath both inscriptions, "I shall have to assume that each way, there lies a calamity. Fortunately, we need not stumble blindly into either! You'll have me as consort, if it please--and so, too, a bit of hired help."
Descending the stairs, he follows Hibiki--but also lifts his sword high into the air. A pulse of that same sickly energy radiates from the sword, permeating throughout the area. Anyone who died to the aforementioned calamities beforehand, or perhaps anyone who might have been interred here in the outermost portions of the temple, shall now rise and serve Ben.
He'll use them as trap fodder.
|Tina Natsumi||Two paths! Eight people. Eight? Tina does a quick headcount to confirm that math first, then heads over to the two painted owls. She makes an effort to try and decipher those smudged letters, but only for about half a minute before giving up.
"Two paths, huh? Red, blue, left, right..." She raps a knuckle against Uncle Sam's side and withdraws a small shotgun handgun from the Persona's storage compartment, then tests a few different styles of holding the thing close to her sides. She swaps which hand is aiming it, too, almost as though she's testing which side is easier to aim with when one of her arms can't move comfortably.
Eventually, she settles on the RIGHT path, although she's still facing Ben as she walks backwards. "Dear...? Oh! Hah, dont' we know it. Wouldn't mind an upgrade to the ol' boy sooner or later, but... Eh. Eventually. Don't get too lost now, folks!" She warns as she tips her hat briefly towards Ben, Hibiki, and Crys, then Jonathan, Speedwagon, and Second Yuuki.
"Looks like y'all're stuck with me, then! Honestly, I'd be worried if they /weren't/ aware of us comin' with all the noise we've been making." She replies to Zero with a laugh, joining him and Yuuki on the right with her gleaming USA-colored thing trailing behind them.
|Jonathan Joestar||Jonathan chuckles sheepishly, aware of his ... misfortunes, by and large. Truthfully, the only attack he hadn't been mostly incapacitated for had been the battle on the sea. And even then, that had been rather perilous for him, trapped with limited oxygen. "That, I cannot object to. Good luck, everyone!"
With the Second Yuuki taking a seat, Jonathan turned to face the door once again and began to touch and tap on it, to try and get a feel for the mechanism. "It's surprisingly advanced .. and sizeable. I think it might run through the entire temple."
Ominously, Ben's attempt at raising the undead falls short. Not a single peep responds to him. This, considering the area, is not a good sign of what was to come.
Wandering about the ruins, Hibiki, Ben, and Crys ascend a clay platform that once seemed to house a building that has been shattered to time, and as for what lay inside the crumbling remains ...
They don't have a chance to tell. Shifting sand is their only warning, as a gout of flame threatens to roast Ben and his skeletal steed, a large and pitch colored figure landing on the tiled flooring.
It's a giant egyptian crocodile, far larger than it should be, perched on all fours. Its eyes are a hellish red, its body dry and sallow, bandages hanging limply off of its bloated frame. Not just any crocodile, this one had been mummified.
Its body is cracked, full of lit ash and flame. Two more are waddling forth at high speed towards the group, shooting forward to attack them with teeth, tails, and spewed fire.
Tina, Yuuki, and Zero walk along a flat dune of sand. Most of this side of the Temple Outskirt seemed to have fallen under a recent attack that left much of it as rubble in the ground. Despite dried blood spatter, months old, there didn't seem to be any corpses.
With a nose to the ground and a keen eye, they come upon an intact building. More of a pillar, it is shored up with sandbags and other rudimentary methods of defense, but a hole was blown into the building's side, serving as a suitable entrance for the group.
A pick-axe is swung for an inquisitive head, as a rotting corpse attempts to kill Tina Natsumi where she stands, rushing out of the interior.
He is garbed in the clothing of a worker, similar to the kind worn by Jonathan's hired hands for his original expedition ... one of the missing men who hadn't been heard of, clearly. "S...ssssoo...warm.... i m s o c o l d ... !"
Flanking him are two gigantic, burning bugs with ash leaking from every orifice. They seem to have originally been Nile Flies, but have grown to monstrous proportions. They assist the zombie and his compatriots, all using rudementary weaponry to assault the three.
|Ben d'Tarkanan|| Ben does it again. And a second time. Still nothing, after both pulses of necrotic energy. This draws an annoyed frown. "Oh, bother," he says sullenly. "Either no one's died here, or there's some manner of sanctimonious religious codswallop protecting the place. Keep a weather eye open, chums--where such countermeasures exist, there are often more, and they tend to be quite quarrelsome, in my experience."
oO0(Bothersome, but not the end of the world. Necromancy is a more diverse art than merely animating the dead. ...It's what we haven't seen, and how jealously this place's builders wished to guard it, that concerns me.)
He comes to a stop when the three of them encounter that platform. Whatever observation he was about to make dies before he can speak it, a lifted index finger the only sign that such a remark was on its way at all.
With a subtle motion of the rider's feet and a tug on the reins, the skeletal camel rears up, putting its center of mass in the way of the attack. Ben hadn't expected it to be fire, however.
His leg is set ablaze as the underside of his mount is charred and blackened, and that chipper demeanor of his fades into cold, calculated crisis mode. As the mount comes back down from that controlled rear-up, Ben urges it forward.
Striking from a vantage point (not much of one, considering the sheer size of the mummified beasts), he kicks at the nearest crocodile, with inhuman force, his boot crashing into it.
His jaw sets. Fire. He ends up putting out the flames with a cone of freezing cold that passes over his leg. It hurts, but it's better than the alternative.
A cloud of caustic acid is then conjured over the same crocodile, the necromancer hoping to whittle it down and blind it in one stroke.
|Tina Natsumi||"Now this has /gotta/ be the place." Tina oohs and aahs like some kind of tourist, perhaps a bit too loudly and entirely on purpose. Sure, she's seen Yuuki in action before and just being inexplicably tough, and she's seen Zero's keep it together with that crazy plant stuff of his, but there's still a certain level of... Protectiveness? That the cowgirl is exhibiting as she traipses along seemingly without a care in the world.
All too eager to draw out the temple's defenders, she quickly finds herself set upon by a pickaxe-wielding corpse. Tina brings her arms up reflexively even as the Persona shifts into position to defend her, the metal-esque Persona eating that pickaxe to a dense arm like a... Big metal thing getting hit with a pickaxe.
If only her big-ish metal thing wasn't specialized in getting hit with stuff. Maybe. Even though it's pulled from Tina's mind, the Persona's armor barely gets chipped by that pickaxe, and it retaliates with a shotgun thrust right into the corpse's face. "Looks like they're comin'... Watch your heads, pardners, and don't get too close now!"
The shotgun in Tina's hands goes off, and a strangely shaped mushroom cloud of light bursts out from Uncle Sam's arms right at the corpse. "Cold, huh? Ech.... Don't worry. It'll be warmer soon." The shotgun blast is a fairly standard shotgun blast, but the burst of light actually has a purpose behind it: Knowing that these things are corpses and not naturally-deformed people, Tina is utilizing her Persona's ability to kill things on a more direct level, aiming to put the dead to rest for the last time.
|Zero Kiryu||It's only fitting that, as they approach a vampire, they run into a problem like this one. Strictly speaking, 'animate corpses' aren't a strong element of vampires where he comes from, but they get close enough anyway. Zero Kiryu regards the revoltingly bloated nile flies and the zombie crew with a sort of detached interest. The fact that one of them is talking is a little unusual.
Does it have a mind left at all, or is it being directed actively to speak in such a way?
He shuts one eye and checks, probing towards the zombie worker's psychic presence-- or for the tether of somebody else directing it instead.
Though attacks land against his person, the usual difficulty of leaving a lingering mark seems to remain-- his skin is simply remarkably tough.
Since they're being set upon fairly directly, Zero simply chooses to sweep a fist about in a blow that isn't particularly practiced or disciplined, but that damned near nobody would wish to be caught in anyway.
<< We may wish to be cautious about the sorts of 'clues' there are present. The ones we saw before struck me as a little unnatural. It's not strange to lay a trap where the enemy needs to go, but I'm not altogether certain this IS where we needed to go. It could have been manufactured. >> He asides, psychically, to all friendlies on the RIGHThand path.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| "I /really/ hope not..." Hibiki murmurs back to Crys, apparently taking the joke at face value more than expected, a finger coming up to scratch at her cheek. "At this point, I wouldn't be surprised to run into an ancient pharaoh or something..." Despite the faint (but knowing how Jonathan's world is, probably still entirely plausible) possibility of such, she's at least getting used to their resident necromancer's thralls. Ssssort of. Kind of. Riding for a while with his skeletal camel helped, as does the fact Ben himself is a pretty pleasant guy.
"I'll be happy to take both, especially with what we're dealing with," she answers back towards him, with a nod and a slight but certainly appreciative smile. "I'm probably not great at this sort of thing--and I can't say I've ever gone ruin diving before either." Said smile fades somewhat when she realizes that his attempt to summon things as he did before...apparently has no effect. She raises an eyebrow, but continues their explorations regardless while keeping close eye on the surroundings and steadily ascending the platform.
Her attentiveness serves her well enough that she stops short at the sound of sifting sand, barely managing to let out a gasp before flame strikes. Hibiki throws herself out of the way of the initial gout on reflex, barely managing to see the mummified, aflame beast blocking their path before its friends come in to join them. "Balwisyall nescell Gungnir tron...!" A hurried chant ignites her body in gold, washing aside the next burst of fire as it strikes clean.
It flecks off, revealing Hibiki clad in Gungnir and already lunging forward. "Looks like we found the first set of countermeasures!" She has no qualms about putting herself in the forefront and drawing these things' attention - or going all out against them, given they're already dead. She immediately goes to kick upwards towards the jaw of one as it lunges in for a bite to try and send it airborne, then leap up after it and chain-kick several more times into its underbelly before ending with piledriving it back down to the floor.
|Yuuki Kuran||Yuuki is extra-used to people wanting to protect her. When she was powerful, and when she was relatively weak, the presence of others showing care had been a constant for her.
'Showing care' was complicated when all your relatives, friends, and seniors at school were bloodsucking near-immortals. It was very anime.
"You think? I can only sense... sadness. Working to death must be my least favorite thing to find, wouldn't you agree?"
A discarded pickaxe catches her eye, and Yuuki hoists it easily, before-- Zombies?
"Now, I want a professional opinion from you two." Yuuki begins, dispatching the advances of zombies with dismissive shoves that seem circumstancially effortless.
Circumstancially, because they're still *threats*, it is simply that Yuuki is not *threatened* by them.
"Now, Tina, Zero: Are these just ruins locals, or are they left here to threaten us?" She wonders aloud.
|Crys Gattz||Crys Gattz has joined Hibiki who has been joined by Ben as well. A fairly solid team in her view at the very least. She would take a moment to try to look over the inside of the ruin. This does not go well she senses something is going on. They come under attack she quickly draws a large two-handed sword, it's a big old chunk of metal from the looks of it and she wields it with little issue.
She is however caught by the attack, and while her photon armour is able to blunt some of it? A lot of it gets though and she's roughed up, she will bring her sword into play counteracting the seemingly undead thing.
"Ben can you do something about these things?!"
Crys thinks they may be undead to best to ask the expert about it, as for the blade she launches into several powerful sweeping attacks that could catch more than one target in their arc.
"Keep behind me if you need to Ben and Hikibi do you have any ideas?!"
|Zero Kiryu||"I'm trying to check that at the moment. It's hard to evaluate on the surface with the colorful variety of enemies we've been dealing with," Zero replies to Yuuki.|
|Tina Natsumi||A professional opinion? That's not what Tina was expecting. As she catches a brief break from zombie shooting and semi-nuking, she huddles up against Uncle Sam's back to consider Yuuki's question. "I'm thinkin'... Local. A body's gotta be a pain to transport, right? So it'd probably be easier to just grab whoever's here and feed some zombie... Vampire juice or whatever into 'em. Less attention than haulin' a bunch from another city or zombie'ing 'em up over there and marching 'em all over here."
"'fraid I don't know much about bugs, though, so that could be anythin'."
|Jonathan Joestar|| LEFT:
Ben's steed is charred black as the crocodile's gullet expands, visibly gathering heat. But, Ben quickly puts a stop to the creature with a volley of magical spells. Its body is swollen and tough from whatever was animating it, but the acid eats into it easily. The flash of cold doesn't seem to interact 'correctly' with the heat ... which is to say that it did not interact at all.
It was an abnormal property that was not immediately obvious, but even the flame behaved more like something's 'idea' of fire, than a true blaze.
After it crumpled, the creature reverts to a size you'd expect, returning to being a simple mummified remain, full of .... cigarette ash. Any attempt to rouse it with necromancy is also, seemingly, futile, perhaps as a result of how it was previously possessed.
Hibiki finds beating on them a difficult endeavor, but her expert maneuvering allows her to dispatch the feisty undead croc, even as it snaps and spews fire at her. It seemed that it didn't possess much variety in the method of attacks available to it .. they were most dangerous when ambushing their prey to swallow them whole.
Much like Ben's target, when it dies, it 'reverts'. The same goes for the Crocodile that has its head shorn off by Crys.
With that, they're left to turn back to what they had been about to stumble upon .. a large mechanism with four pointed spokes, and a blue owl sculpture perched on top of it. Although, it looked a little /too/ blue, as if it had been freshly painted.
Zero, intruding upon the zombie's mind, finds that there is no maleveolent force compelling it to speak. It seemed to run purely on instinct, and although it could talk, there was certainly no person left inside. A true shadow of its former self.
Tina is more than capable, with the help of Uncle Sam, of obliterating the undead. Destroying the head seems to work just fine, like in all the movies.
Yuuki's shoves are not as effective, as the creatures completely ignore any semblance of pain and continue to attack. They're only slow and sluggish at first, quickly becoming fast and aggressive. And horrifically strong.
One missed punch from one of them not only destroys the monster's hand, but completely annihilates the wall of sandbags that had been defending the entrance. It became all too clear how that hole in the wall got there, now.
Zero's monstrous strength serves him well in dispatching the creatures, however, as he finds they're not so tough. All it takes is a well placed swing to kill them.
With the threats put down, the inside of the building was visibly, a slaughterhouse. The men holed up inside hadn't stood a chance before being mauled and turned, it appeared. Old blood covered almost every inch of the room, desecrating it, and the identical mechanism to the Owl the other group found. Only, this one was colored red.
|Zero Kiryu||Zero briefly creates a fountain with his vines, using it to wipe off the zombie bits that he's no doubt gotten on himself, and leaving it there for others to use if they wish to. It'll stop existing a short while later.
A torrent of vines emerge from inside his coat, splitting this way and that to rearrange the sandbags to be presently convenient. He approaches the Owl mechanism, which for the moment at least seems to line up with what they were looking for.
Perhaps he was being too paranoid.
He raises his fingertip above the surface of the mechanism, producing a tiny seed that drops -- lightly, with the faintest clatter -- and then begins to grow. It does not grow enormous, like most of the seeds that Zero produces. Instead it remains small, fibrous, 'burrowing' out into the mechanism and searching for where it goes.
Instead of doing the puzzle directly, Zero is searching for the underlying mechanism that makes the puzzle function so he can follow it to its source mechanism.
He stands aside from the mechanism, folding his arms over his chest and inclining his head towards Tina and Yuuki, as if to say-- go ahead and have a look, if you like.
"What are you thinking, regarding the creatures that were waiting for us?" He asks.
|Ben d'Tarkanan|| Can he do something about the crocodiles? ...possibly. *Animating* the undead hadn't done anything, because they were already here, or perhaps because there were safeguards in place against it. But how clever were these ancient necromancers? Perhaps he can wrest control of one. Perhaps not.
"I shall give it the old college try, chum," says the necromancer to Crys with hollow cheer belied utterly by the no-holds-barred manner of his fighting. His sword is already reared back for a vicious thrust, shadows clinging unnaturally to it and seeming to drink in even the waning light of sundown.
He stabs, intending to commandeer control of it... only for the combination of that savage thrust, the acid and the earlier blast of cold to overwhelm it, turning to ash. "Ah!" His skeletal camel click-clacks past it, as Crys and Hibiki finish theirs.
"Pity. I forget my own strength, sometimes," he muses, rubbing his hair with his right hand.
oO0(There's no raising from that. But... that owl statue. A more obvious trap I've never seen. This shall be quick work, at least!)
His eyes gleam at the sight. "Stand back, chums," says the necromancer, with a terrible idea. The smart play would be to use his Dragonmark's power of intangibility, to let whatever devious device play its tricks in vain. The smart-est- play would be to ignore the trap and look for the real statue.
"Absent the servitors I'd normally employ, I shall have to handle this trap myself." Ben doesn't care about what's smart, in this instance. He doesn't even really know that it IS a trap. He strides up to the freshly painted owl and removes it, assuming that his durability will be up to whatever the task is without considering better ideas, looking around further, or even if anyone else might be better suited.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| Flipping herself back up to her feet after falling back down from the sky with crocodile in tow, Hibiki immediately puts her guard back up...only to find that the beasts have been dispatched. Her arms return to her side cautiously, though her guard isn't down. She spends a few scant moments staring down at the remains of her own, then falls to a knee beside it. "Ash?"
She brings a finger down to comb through the cigarette remains, which is not what she'd expect to be left behind from either natural or supernatural fire, furrowing her brow before getting back to her feet. "Between what's inside of these things and how they went back to a normal size...I don't think we're dealing with old ruin guardians after all."
After checking to make sure Crys and Ben are relatively alright (and the poor bone camel was not victim of inter-undead slaughter), she pushes forward at a light jog to enter the building. The mechanism gives her pause, followed by her attention naturally drifting up to the owl statue right overhead. But...
Hibiki purses her lips beneath her Symphogear's scarf. "...Maybe it's just me, but that looks like it was done recently." The gears in her head slowly turn. They're put on pause when the sounds of Jonathan and Speedwagon being attacked ring out, and though her first instinct is to go back to help--she both knows that they can take care of themselves with SECOND YUUKI, and it also makes something snap into place when the doorway comes back to mind.
"Hold on, Ben, Crys--the arrow that was pointing this way, here to the left. Wasn't it...red? Not blue?"
|Yuuki Kuran||Relentless, but mindless, the zombies are driven away by Zero and Tina, allowing the trio down into the desecrated area the Zombies had, apparently in life, once excavated.
With a determined expression, Yuuki sets out to be useful and solve the puzzle. "Well, the reason I asked is because up until someone starts shouting 'I'll stop you for the glory of DIO', this could all just be the natural state of the ruin. In a world of archaeologists like Jonathan, some mummified foes would justify his fine physique and Hamon power, right? With him staying behind, it's almost like..."
Yuuki steps on the owl, and if that is insufficient, inspects around the area if there is some sort of latch to access or plate to depress.
There certainly is a danger of a trap, but it's not one she's respecting, in favor of introspection.
Second Yuuki looks up from her book. "I'm sorry, Jonathan. I think we're beating up what would normally be the interesting middle of a dig for you."
|Jonathan Joestar|| LEFT:
Turning it by one point is tough -- like trying to work a vehicle without power steering, but Ben manages it. .... Nothing happens.
Hibiki does raise a fair point, though, doesn't she?"
Using his seed to burrow into the mechanism, Zero finds that it is a very large and complicated one that spans well into the entire ruin. It seemed to be a layered defense, the mechanisms in the Temple could only be activated if the mechanisms on the outskirt were activated correctly, with each 'check' partitioning the Temple and its functions off, block by block. For being so old, it was shockingly advanced.
But, according to the painted guide they'd seen earlier, the mechanism itself seemed off. Backwards.
For Yuuki, climbing up onto the mechanism to step on the owl does not, unfortunately, do much .. but it does rub some of the blood off. There's a faint, dull glimmer of stone under it, that was not colored red.
Speedwagon's buzz-saw bowler hat, unlike Yuuki's ornamental bowler hat, fails to dispatch the flaming flies meaningfully. "Oh no!"
But thankfully, Jonathan's spinning kick, the Tornado Overdrive, puts one in its place. "No need to apologize! Although, I am a tad disappointed ..." he admits.
|Tina Natsumi||With the immediate threat neutralized, Tina breathes a sigh of relief and takes a moment to wash her face off with the convenient plant fountain before following Zero towards the Owl mechanism. Her first instinct is to just fiddle with the spokes, but she holds off on doing that as she turns to the pair instead.
<<"... Hm. Wasn't the sign we followed for a blue owl?">> Tina relays to her allies with a cautious stare at the distinctly red owl, inadvertently mirroring Hibiki's concern on the other side of the temple. Before she can let that thought percolate for too long, Yuuki just steps on the thing and draws a laugh from the streamer.
"That's one way of handlin' it... Hm. Yeah, if these zombies don't got minds pushin' em along, then they're just..." She grimaces lightly. "Caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time, I guess." She continues, pauses, then shrugs. "I mean, I don't feel bad for the bugs, at last. They're freakin' bugs. But the people..."
"All the more reason we gotta clear this whole thing up fast." With that thought out of her system, Tina takes a hand from Uncle Sam (literally) as she circles around the statue. Eyeing the spokes, she gives them a few experimental nudges at first to see if anything happens. If not, she just starts whacking them with the Persona's hand like some kind of makeshift hammer.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| Furrowing her brow even /more/, Hibiki is tense when Ben removes the sculpture--and relaxes when nothing terrible happens when it's removed. But she's picking up on it more and more by the minute, until she hurries over to the necromancer's side. Her nominally punch idiot-centric brain continues working in overdrive. "Hold on, let me see that--"
She's not actually going to rip it out of his hands or anything, but she is going to try to get a firm enough hold on it to keep it still and begin scratching hard at its side. Not to damage it...but to try and remove what looks like this fresh coat of paint and see what lies beneath. Skritch skritch.
"I think..." She starts, in reply to Ben. "...someone is trying to play us. This isn't some ancient, dried ink or whatever at all. I think they swapped the owls around to keep us busy, and if it's red under here...!"
|Jonathan Joestar|| RIGHT:
Tina finds that with Uncle Sam's strength, she can probably turn the spokes. This changes the direction that the Owl is facing. Coincidentally, the four spokes, on further observation, are angled in the four cardinal directions.
|Yuuki Kuran||SECOND YUUKI:
Has a negligent problem. She had been so entranced by the prospect of Firmly Interacting with what-turned-out-to-be a Button (False) that her chair-based reading had stretched into the time that a stinging swarm of aful insects attacked!
Thankfully, apparently even mindless attack warms were ablated by her incredible anime dracula powers, leaving poor Speedwagon to dispatch them with his HAT.
"You have blades in your hat? That's great!" Yuuki claps, palm meeting softcover in a pach-pach-pachi noise before she uses the side of her trashy romance fiction like a flyswatter to cut through the harrying swarm.
"I hadn't gotten a chance to watch you fight before. For these foes you need a flyswatter!
JoJo does a flying tornado kick. Second Yuuki gestures informatively. "A flyswatter."
|Crys Gattz||It is a good thing Crys isn't alone, she might end up in very dire straights without some backup.
The fight ends fairly quickly thanks to everyone's firepower. She finds the thing was turned to ash and soon is turning to her allies again.
She'll trust Ben's judgement as she's more of a fighter than a puzzle sort.
Crys makes a face thinking about the pad puzzle on Ragol. However she will help with any heavy lifting that might need to be done. Hikibi seems to have an idea and she calls out.
Crys could be wrong in her reply but she notes to Hibiki. "I think so yes!"
|Ben d'Tarkanan|| "Oh, certainly," says Ben, taking his hands off of the owl to allow Hibiki to indulge her curiosity. After her explanation, "Yes, quite! I thought it might have been a fake, at first, but I believe you're right. Furthermore," he says, gesturing his hands in a 'turning' motion, "I attempted to lift it, but you may notice it's stuck quite firmly--unless you attempt to turn it, like so."
He strokes his chin, recalling the temple's illegible lines. "If indeed the owl is red beneath that paint... then, in the heyday of this temple, it was likely meant to be turned in accordance with the guidance beneath the depiction near the stairway."
As Hibiki scratches at it, he paces back and forth, now actually thinking with his brain since there's no simple way to 'impress' everyone. "When I turned it that way--where it's facing now--nothing seemed to happen. But, I wonder..."
Once Hibiki has made her discovery, if indeed the owl is red, Ben will try, or suggest, turning it to the other directions, having already tried 'east' and 'west' to no avail.
|Zero Kiryu||After Yuuki steps on the owl and reveals that it's been smudged, Zero moves over to clean it off more deliberately. Once he's done, he inclines his head towards Yuuki, "This place is complicated. My vines are giving me a good view of layered mechanisms. It looks like I was right about the instructions being manipulated, though..."
Before he does anything at all with the owl directly, he simply spreads the vine that was insinuated into its interior mechanisms further. This sort of complexity demands space, and Zero doesn't need a terrible lot of space to work with when it comes to spreading plants.
He looks for where they connect to the following layer of mechanisms, and pushes in towards them, sweeping his senses about in search of signs of the presence of others.
|Tina Natsumi||Noticing that the spokes can move, Tina cracks her knuckles as though she's about to do some heavy lifting (and also stances up to catch Yuuki in case she slips off the owl or something). "Only a couple o' directions this could be, so... Any objections to just brute forcing this puzzle?"
She glances at Zero and Yuuki while Uncle Sam is already moving into position on the opposite side of Tina. She'll hold off on turning the spokes briefly to get some pictures of the mechanism and the owl first, and also to listen to Zero's explanation about his vines. "You can see through those things? Dang... What can't those things do?" Tina laughs lightly as she watches the vines as best she can, then gets back in position.
If she's not halted, she and the Persona will get to work, turning the spokes in about 30 degree increments to see if it locks into place with any easily designated STOP TURNING POINTS. It's more the Persona doing the work, really. She's also not too concerned about the owl color thing yet since she's intent on seeing what happens even with the (probably) wrong (or none) owl in place.
|Yuuki Kuran||Yuuki-the-First oblidgingly hops off the owl while Uncle Sam gets ready to manipulate it, the total amount of things to do limited to 'look around some more'. Jonathan even gives them the answer.
"Hooray! My ultimate plan, 'Remember To Protect The Actual Archaeologist', is genius!"
Cross-armed, Yuuki looks very pleased with herself. Her master plan was get Jonathan to feed her all the answers.
|Jonathan Joestar|| WITH JOJO:
With the aide of Yuuki 2.0 and Speedwagon, Jonathan manages to survive the onslaught of burning bugs with a sigh. Once taking a moment to recover, he responds to the others over the communication line, answering what questions he can, and giving input as applicable.
Kneeling over one of the destroyed insectoids, he frowns, as it had returned to the size of your average Nile Fly. Yet, a nasty smelling sulfur wafted off of it .. cigarette ash.
After scratching off the fresh paint, Hibiki finds an Owl Statuette made of Red Clay!
Tina turns the spokes and eventually hears a 'click'. There are four 'points' it can lock into.
Zero and Yuuki are able to find that their Owl Statuette is made of Blue-tinged Clay, after wiping off the dried blood!
Zero's vines reaching out have difficulty finding life to sense. He could tell that there were definitley people inside, and a gad of vague lifeforms besides them, but anything specific was being obfusicated somehow.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| All of the radio chatter sheds a lot of light on things--and between everyone and their resident English archaeologist, it seems like they've found their answer. "Then since you've tried east and west already..." She says towards Ben, while putting herself into position to help with the mechanism.
She immediately sets about assisting him in moving it to face a northerly direction, putting her back into it...which counts for a lot! A lot like Tina, she could probably honestly have tried brute forcing this if she wanted to, to whatever end. "Then we get these in the right direction...and the way inside should be totally open...!"
While she works though, she expresses some concerns she still has. "But someone had to have painted these in the first place...and they have to still be out here, right? Since the way inside is barred. So that means..." Hibiki glances back out of the ruin they're in, where the mummified crocodiles rest. "...whoever sent those against us, I bet."
|Tina Natsumi||Clicks! A good sign. Better sign: being able to actually tell where south is. After taking a phone out for a brief direction check, Tina/Uncle Sam get to work turning the mechanism to face southwards. It's still mostly the Persona, but Tina's also putting some muscle into it!
"So I gotta wonder... How'd you two get around to gettin' involved out here of all places?" Yes, Tina has a need to ask dumb things. Even with the cameras off, she's still settled into that on-air cowgirl accent. "Bein'... Well, who you are, I figured folks like yourselves would be out cuttin' deals or deing with political thumbs-in-assery."
|Jonathan Joestar|| LEFT AND RIGHT:
With the work put in by both groups, they manage to get the Owls facing the correct direction ... and a deep rumble runs through the entire ground. The sands shift treachorously, and in the night sky, light begins to shine as various torches within the temple's complex light themselves. Pillars begin to rise from below, platforms coming alongside them.
When all is said and done, whatever superstructure that would have activated seems to have broken down too much to function. But, the front door has moved aside, revealing the inside.
Speedwagon peers into the poorly lit main chamber, several torches revealing the shadow of a man in a pitch black suit, and a cigarette jutting out of his mouth. " . . . "
The mechanisms were running full force, audibly clanking and clinking within the Temple.
|Crys Gattz||The Radio chatter seemed to clear things up and she'll help Ben and Hibiki turn the stature to the direction they hope is right. She pauses for a moment "We should presume we're being watched..."
Crys would find as they and the other group finish their work as the mechanisms kick into play after being dormant for who knows some long.
"Impressive any of it still works."
She would get moving to rejoin the rest of the party.
"We shouldn't keep the others waiting."
|Hibiki Tachibana|| The ground trembles, mechanisms whirr...and for once, that's a good thing. She nods to Crys and Ben, and steps outside just in time to see the show. Even if it's not really functional anymore, what /would've/ existed upon proper activation of the two devices way back when still shows enough for her to take a moment to appreciate it all. "...This temple must've been something else." Only a moment, though. They have a lot of work to do, still.
Thus, she joins in jogging back towards the main group and the now-opened doorway, coming up behind Jonathan and Speedwagon where she slows to a steady stop. She does not go any farther just yet, not past where JoJo's erstwhile companion is sneaking a peek.
Instead, she silently narrows her eyes in the direction of the cigarette-bearing shadow. It's not all that difficult to put two-and-two together. After a moment, she makes the decision to actually take a few steps forward into the chamber, amid all the crashing sounds of working gears, pulleys, and whatever else the ancient Egyptians loaded Kom Ombo with. The poor lighting makes it hard to tell if he's actually there, or a trick of the light, but she's pretty sure her words will come across clearly regardless.
"...You're the one who lit those animals up and sent them after us, aren't you? And kept us busy with the statues. You're trying to stall us." She pauses. "...Are you another Stand user?"
|Yuuki Kuran||YUUKI THE FIRST:
"How did we get invovled... out here? Well, Jonathan is out here, and that DIO seems very determined to undermine him. Still..."
Yuuki's red-brown eyes, wide and curious, stare at Tina. "What else would I be doing? Paperwork? I think my time is best spent making sure all my friends are able to follow their dreams."
Meanwhile, SECOND YUUKI:
Following along with Jonathan and Speedwagon as they enter the central chamber, and confronted with the man with the pitch black suit smoking a cigarette...
The mild distaste at the smell, acrid to her keen nose, reminds her of something else. Cigarette ash...
Yuuki extends a hand to hold Speedwagon back. "That may be the man behind those creatures before, Speedwagon. A Stand, or some ability. Be careful until everyone else catches up."
|Zero Kiryu||"Well... it's certainly effective," Zero agrees with Yuuki. "Assembling the actors capable of doing what you want done... is one of your talents, after all."
Tina gets a dully quizzical look. He shakes his head, "The Concord deals with things its own way. That way is sometimes what you described. Sometimes it is something altogether other. In this particular case, our member Jonathan desires this pursuit. Our priority is seeing those desires through."
"That is the Concord."
With a twist of his hand he summons up a door-sized wall of vine, through which he passes to return to Jonathan and Second Yuuki. It remains open for Tina and Yuuki Prime to take back to that area.
|Ben d'Tarkanan|| "Indeed it must have," says Ben to Hibiki. "I must also admit that I'm rather impressed with the craftsmanship." There's a gesture of his hand towards the piles of ash. "The ash could be proof that it was conjuration rather than necromancy," he admits. But there's a concerned furrow of his brow.
"But showed signs remarkably similar to ritual embalming, and the modifications were so artful, that I wonder if it wasn't a--"
He trails off, at the vibrations, fingers brushing against the elongated grip of his sword. His concern is all the more evident in the torchlight.
"Quite right," he says in response to Crys. "Let's be about it, then." Ben is back astride his skeletal camel, the burn wound on his leg visible in places through the burnt fabric of his pants. It doesn't seem to bother him, or if it does, he's good at hiding it.
With a click of his tongue, he's back to the entrance shortly, in time to dismount and come across the cigarette smoking man. He doesn't make the connection between the ash and the cigarette, not much of a smoker himself nor hailing from a world where cigarettes are common.
His hand, which had continually flirted with the grip of his sword to this point, now closes upon it.
"I'm Baron Ben d'Tarkanan. Of the Sharn Tarkanans. And you are... one of Dio's thralls, I presume?"
|Jonathan Joestar|| Puff. Puff.
"Yup," he says, in a bored tone. It's the kind of dismissive answer you'd get from someone putting up with a job they really weren't feeling.
"Well, sort of. The zombies who mauled those workers turned that statuette red, and gave me the idea."
Speedwagon, whose bowler hat has mysteriously been regenerated, points at him accusingly. "Your Stand lets you manipulate living things with cigarette ash, isn't it?! Bastard! And mentioning the tragedy here so callously ... do you not have a human heart?!"
Yuuki prevents Speedwagon from advancing further, which is most likely working in his favor, by preventing something unfortunate from happening.
Shrugging, the man sighs. "Maybe. Thrall? I guess." he grunts, tapping his forehead. "I had a unique ability that he wanted to make use of. He never told me, but after some of his other 'employees' started dying the way they have, I figure he's got me tagged too. But as long as I do my job, it doesn't really matter."
Rolling his muscular shoulders, the lithe man faces them.
"Not that any of this matters, regardless. Die today, die tomorrow, die in a hundred years .. there's no difference."
Growls and angry buzzes fill the room as Jonathan steps forward. Puff. Puff.
"I don't think Speedwagon was quite correct .. it's not just living things. Anything that cigarette's ash touches, it changes and becomes part of your Stand. Right?"
Upon closer inspection, his cigarette didn't seem to look quite normal. It had a fluted filter at the beginning, embroidered with a fanged skull with a wide, open mouth and stylized embelishments running along it. No matter how long it was smoked, it never seemed to run out.
"Guess you got it in one."
"The name's Faith. And my Stand, Firefly, has raised me up an army to kill you. Wonder if it'll be enough."
The whole group comes under assault by Flaming Bugs, Flaming Croc Mummies, and Flaming Soldier Mummies!
Faith himself reaches behind himself to whip out a fully automatic machine pistol, spraying a hail of gunfire at Jonathan, who utilizes quick thinking to tear his overshirt off and strengthen it with magnetized Hamon. The shirt-shield is ripped apart, but prevents Jonathan from meeting an immediate end.
|Tina Natsumi||Yuuki's answer certainly isn't what Tina was expecting. Indeed, she gets a long stare in return while Tina mulls that over, and Zero's follow-up gets a similar stare that lingers even as the ground shakes and things begin to move. "That so...? Hm. Maybe I'm just not cut out for politics, but things sure would be better if more leaders were more willing to get out there and be hands on with problems like you and Fairfax. Maybe even like..."
She stops herself, her expression darkening somewhat upon recalling Big Boss. "... Mostly." She rubs her face lightly, then forces a confident laugh while heading through the door. "Maybe it'd even work out if I could pull off... Somethin'."
Once she spots the LEFT and BASE crew, Tina flashes them her trademark smile and gives them a brief thumbs up. "Progress get! Alright, so what do we got... Here?"
She spots the man with the cigarette. Tina watches him cautiously as she brings a hand to her hat, tipping it briefly in greeting. "Howdy. If you're one of DIO's boys, then you know what we gotta do if you don't step aside."
She's already preparing for a fight with Uncle Sam at her back and shotgun in hand. "Faith, huh? Tina, wielder of the Persona, Uncle Sam. Let's see how your army does against us!"
And so, the battle begins! Spotting Faith's machine pistol and his army of minions, Uncle Sam takes a knee with its arms spread wide, acting as a shield wall for Tina. Just in time, too, as a croc mummy decides to set its sights on her, its mighty jaws stopped only by a big hunk of American (colored) metal! There's some unpleasant creaking and straining noises when it happens along with a few scratches appearing along Tina's own arms, but it doesn't slow her down one bit.
If anything, it just starts getting her pumped up again. "Your army's gonna need to do better than swingin' and bitin' if you got any hopes of busting through this American spirit!" At that close range, Uncle Sam doesn't need to do much as it unloads those vaguely nuke-y mushroom clouds of light upon that croc mummy while Tina just fires her shotgun wildly at the largest concentrations of zombies to try and draw their attention her way.
|Ben d'Tarkanan|| Someone else might try to talk sense into Faith, or even counteract Dio's programming. The first thing on Ben's mind, however, upon seeing the Mummy Squadron (part of the greater Faith Army) is:
oO0What if I were to pit my magic against his Stand? It would look most impressive, if I could manage...
And so he wades headlong into danger. Wrapped fists collide with him, making concerning meaty impacts with him, and weighty thuds where they collide with his leather cuirass.
Flames lick at his skin, igniting his cloak, forcing him to toss it forward just as he's nearly swarmed completely.
It serves well enough to get him just a moment to make his counterattack. His sword is wreathed in a shadowy aura which seems to drink in the torchlight and the light of his Faith's flaming minions. His left arm, too, is cloaked in this energy.
He begins to give as good as he's gotten, using his brute strength to overpower his enemies, stabbing through with his sword, grasping mummified heads with his hand, icing the ground to rob steady footing, and striking just as they're knocked off balance.
He's attempting to steal the mummies--but if he can't, brute force and dirty fighting are perfectly agreeable.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| Hibiki isn't sure she likes the vibes this guy is putting off. For a lot of reasons. Having a dismissive attitude is fine, but this...grates her the wrong way. "Doesn't matter...?" The revelation of what Faith's Stand does makes perfect sense with what they've encountered; Jonathan was right on the money. But at the moment, she's more focused on the man himself. "What's wrong with you?"
The sound of angered creatures, the things affected by Firefly, grows louder...and monstrosities begin storming in. Tachibana Hibiki is a master of using the Free Talk action however, and the battle beginning won't dismantle her train of thought even as she begins pushing herself into a sprint towards the encroaching hordes! "You're saying it doesn't matter when you die--but you're working for DIO for a reason like that? It sounds like you don't even care if you lose or not...!"
Bloated insects swarm in from all sides, and Hibiki momentarily vanishes within a particularly dense swarm of them. Flaming impacts, lots of buzzing, and the heat being turned up all assault her body. It's undeniably painful, getting her to grit her teeth in the middle of it all. Still, she yells out from within. "That's a load of crap...! Especially for someone whose power lets them put life into things!"
Abruptly, Hibiki loads back one of Gungnir's arm pistons, which begins shining gold with a build-up of energy. It's immediately slammed straight down into the floor below her, venting it outwards in all directions as an explosion meant to wipe away all of the bugs around her, on top of anything else in the immediate area! The Symphogear wielder continues her charge forward immediately after, knocking aside mummies with hooks and spinning kicks as she goes to try and close in with Faith himself!
|Yuuki Kuran||"Jonathan, if you could use your Hamon control to make sure yourself and Speedwagon aren't touched by any ash during the fight, I'd appreciate it." Yuuki suggests, stepping forward as Faith pulls out a REAL GUN WITH REAL BULLETS to spray at her.
Bringing up a hand to defend her face, Yuuki-- Is bravely defended by the quick thinking of Jonathan! With a smile, she advances into the crowd of ash-dusted mummies to approach Faith.
Spin-tossing a Crocodile Mummy like a dessicated meat-flail into a crowd of other enemies allows Ben's plans to advance better, if he can wrest control -- and if Faith will play it cool and stand there posed up, she'll toss a crocodile at him too!
There are, unfortunately, crocodiles for everyone.
|Crys Gattz||Well they found the source of the attacks, Crys is pretty sure this is going to end in a fight. She catches note about the warning of the ash. She will have to watch out for that she looks at the strange man for a moment.
An army? It's going to heat up as the entire party comes under assault by some kind of Mummy she doesn't like to do this but she doesn't have much choice. She doesn't plan to die to these things. The stand user is smart enough to bring up a backup weapon? She makes note of that.
She runs at the mummy even as it engages and she's getting smacked about again, she counterattacks spinning with her blade as she tries to hack into the mummy.
|Zero Kiryu||"Makes no difference... is that so, Zero says. He steps forward. His expression is absolutely contemptuous. "It's fine if you have no regard for your own existence, and it's fine if because of that you decide to use your life for somebody else. But there is a difference in how you use yourself. Whether you achieve what that 'somebody' wants, whether you disappoint them in the end, or whether you simply leave them sad."
"If there is no point, dispose of yourself as it makes you happy to do so. Spreading your childish nihilism, in the absence of conviction, is unacceptable."
He snaps his fingers.
Vines explode out in every direction. They become a dense, blanketing presence that covers everything and gets in the way of everything. Allies, yes, but also the ash from Faith's bizarre cigarette. In fact, specifically the ash from Faith's cigarette. The jungle that "is" Zero Kiryu gets in the way of the spread of the conversion particulate-- indeed, will even begin to put off its own particulate soporific powder to collide in deliberate gusts with any output ash.
Nothing happens on contact. Zero Kiryu cannot be compromised by anyone or anything, not even this Stand.
The man himself stands precisely where he began, a blossom opening up beneath him and pushing violently outward against his assailants before withering away.
|Jonathan Joestar||The power of Uncle Sam allows her to punch through them well enough, the explosive might overpowering even the strengthened form of the Crocodiles. Much like the lizards and the insects powered by Firefly, the human remains are all strong and agile, reinforced and stocky from the flame within.
Ben's nimble swordplay and footwork allows him to get a good stab off, skewering one of the mummies through its head. The necromantic energy battles the fires charging the corpse, but, ultimately, Firefly's flame wins out. Like a stubborn flash of life, something that won't let itself be killed, yet isn't truly 'there'.
Hibiki advances. Faith retreats, far from an admirable fighter, he hurls a flash bomb straight at Hibiki's face, his eyes scrunched close as he performs a skillful and acrobatic backflip that takes him high.
The unfortunate Crocodile's head explodes as it smashes through a stone wall.
"Be careful not to inhale any of his smoke, everyone! But if you do, I might be able to expel it!" Jonathan says, nodding to Yuuki.
Crys trades blows with a Mummy Swordsman, channeling his flame into a brittle blade. Fast and furious, sparks fly as they challenge one another.
Abruptly, appearing behind Hibiki with the intent of planting a high-powered grenade on her hip, already cooked, Faith grimaces. " 'Life' ... is that what you call it? ... Well .. "
Sardonically, he grins, "You're not wrong. It's just as vapid and cruel as the real thing."
Sommersaulting away at high speed, the grenade goes off.
Whirling around, he pinches Firefly firmly between his lips and blows, the ash sailing at Yuuki and Uncle Sam like a burning whirlwind.
Thankfully, Zero puts a stop to it, leaving Faith with a frown slightly deeper than usual. In lieu of this, he attacks the two girls with his machine pistol, instead.
Zero's vines are, in the meantime, assaulted by gouts of red hot flame spewed from the mouth of the Crocodiles.
Jonathan barges ahead and attempts to shoulder check the assassin, who upon realizing his precarious position, turns and blows his Firefly directly at the Englishman. Even with Zero's help, a direct puff would most likely still work -- or at least, the threat of such causes the giant of a man to hesitate, giving Faith enough time to back up.
|Crys Gattz||An undead thing using fire? Ballsy what a fight they must have been in life. There is no time to think about this as she's trying to bock and parry these attacks. With a sword made for cleaving up hostile wildlife and worse. Not for duelling like this and the Mummy is able to get past her guard scoring a fairly serious hit and Crys is burned.
She raises one hand to return the favour.
A fireball forms in her palm, then launches at the mummy, while Crys pulls back making a new plan to deal with this boot up her photon trap to swap out the sword for a different weapon better suited to this fight.
|Tina Natsumi||"Secondhand smoke ain't no joke, folks!" tina warns following Jonathan's lead, laughing briefly despite herself. When that mind-controlling ash is neutralized by Zero, she flashes hima broad grin even as she slaps her hands against therobot to give it a dramatic shove from behind.
"You should've learned how to enjoy things more, guy. Even if life kinda sucks sometimes, it doesn't always need to!" Taking cover from the gunfire plinking off Uncle Sam's surface, tina switches the shotgun for something a little more sited to a long-range engagement with significantly more firepower.
In goes the shotgun, out comes the RPG. "... At least, that's what I'd be saying to someone that hasn't already used up their chances. What you did to all these people here is unforgivable, so the best we can promise it making it fast!" Tina 's voice loses all sense of mirth as she braces the weapon on the Persona, taking aim at...
Faith's feet! She knows how splash damage works. As the explosive goes flying, Uncle Sam's shoulders open up, drawing in energy with an ominous thumping noise. It seems to be preparing for something!
|Zero Kiryu||Battering down the vines and plants is like trying to batter down the temple itself-- it's a little younger, a little less grown. But it's still an act of taking flame and force to stone. Chips and splinters abound, but the trees refuse to fall.
Blossoms containing rows of teeth open up and threaten to swallow the flamethrowing crocodiles, while Zero Kiryu himself materializes near Yuuki. He presses a bright red fruit into her hand, and then assumes a defensive posture around her, the vine-fortress fortifying itself in her vicinity. It doesn't seem to be a matter of bodily protection though-- he's just helping keep the ash off of her in particular.
Plant life snaps out towards Faith, some merely in the form of thorns, but in some cases the subtlety diminishes and what happens is gaping maws full of sharklike teeth simply attempting to bite down onto him and shred his flesh to the bone.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| A flash bomb comes in! Hibiki actually has no defense against such a thing, leaving her no recourse but to stop in her tracks and bring an arm up to shield her eyes with a grunt, teeth clenched. "Damnit, I should've expected a trick!" When it passes, she lowers the limb back down and shakes her head clear, trying to relocate Faith.
He's right behind her. Her head turns at the sound of his voice, and her eyes widen. Whatever she was going to say catches in her throat as she recognizes the primed grenade, and it promptly explodes and envelops her in the shrapnel-filled explosion.
As the dust clears...
...Hibiki is still standing tall. Burnt and disheveled, with metal shards either penetrating her armor or drawing blood from her skin, but not nearly as badly in either respect as she should've been. A far cry from last time. As her armor lets out streams of hissing steam from all four limbs in time with an exhale, Hibiki tightens her fists up and tilts her head back up to focus on the Stand user. The secret defense: Just letting the power within Gungnir explode outwards in all directions, counteracting the explosion with the force of it! A hasty solution, but one that suits her pretty much perfectly!
"Just because you've had a hard life--doesn't mean you should give up on it!" Whether he's is beyond pulling back from his way of thinking or not, she shouts that regardless...though afterwards, there's a strange pause. Something that came to mind, maybe? It casts a shadow over her expression before she grits her teeth hard and focuses back again. "Faith...how'd you end up like this?"
Apparently undaunted by her post-grenade injuries, she kicks off the ground while their foe is in the process of retreating away from Jonathan, intent on not giving him any time to (metaphorically) breathe. She transforms her momentum into a flying kneestrike from the side, meant to catch him off-guard, and follows up with a heavy hook sent flying towards his face--with the intention of knocking Firefly right out of his mouth! "Did you lose something you couldn't live without!? Tell me!" She seems /very/ invested in knowing this. Even while she's trying to beat the crap out of him, careful to avoid getting caught up in her allies' ranged assaults also coming in.
|Ben d'Tarkanan||oO0I see... It can't be extinguished because it isn't fire, and I can't wrest control because it isn't necromancy, but something alive unto itself, puppeteering these husks. Or, rather... close enough to 'alive' to matter.
How can he counter something like that? First, he needs time to think, which Faith's minions seem dead set on denying him. After clearing a path through the mummies, he scarcely has a moment before a swarm of fireflies is upon him.
He has something, at least, for that. A hemisphere of supernatural darkness envelops him. Even the torches on the wall don't penetrate it--rather than simply being absent, light is actively being suppressed.
It doesn't completely shield him from the swarm, but it does allow him to fight back much more effectively than the insects can set him ablaze, the necromancer being able to see just fine even in artificially imposed darkness. As he weaves and rolls to keep from getting incinerated, he fights back with lances of liquid acid, hurled towards the swarm to whittle it down piece by piece.
oO0I wonder... does it seem almost alive because of some connection to Faith? I've no way to exploit that, save attacking the man himself... though... of course. That should do nicely.
Ben leaps from the darkness, an impressive vertical clearance, and extends his hand. A black puddle of grease leaps from his left hand, coating the floor and even some of the walls behind Faith.
"Lord Joestar, chums, brace yourselves!" cries a singed, beaten Ben, from the (relative) safety of his sphere of darkness.
He's intending to see how accurately the Stand mimics fire--it can't be suppressed, but will it ignite grease? A gust of gale force wind, as he comes back down, rushes towards Faith. Ben's trying to knock him into the grease, timing the gust of wind with Tina's RPG to maximize the force.
Perhaps then... if he's right, Faith'd have to turn it off, if only for a moment, or else risk setting himself ablaze if Hibiki's able to knock the Stand loose. At the very least, it should blow the secondhand smoke away.
|Yuuki Kuran||Protected in a thorny dome, Yuuki the First holds up a hand, thumb restraining index finger, leaving pinky, ring, and middle upraised.
"There are three constants with you DIO flunkies." Resolute and protected such, the ash abates on a shield of vines and her own natural pressure.
"One!" Shouts Second Yuuki, her far more beach-appropriate attire flickering back into reality with the soft flapping sounds of leathery wings.
"You you always profess some sad, pathetic view of the world." First Yuuki declares.
"Two!" Calls Second Yuuki, piledriving a mummy into a crocodile and goal-kicking both in the background of Hibiki's explosion -- and far happier about the results this time.
"You always sound reasonable, but your reasons for fighting are always drowning in unreality." Declares First Yuuki.
"Three!" Second Yuuki cheerfully declares as she twirls through a fierce falling cannon drill kick at Faith with Hibiki from the opposite angle, following through on landing with a similar leap-away.
"You always try to incapacitate Jonathan. That's why my strategy this time was to protect him specifically - if he's the one you all fear, then his power is the one I'll happily use to defeat you!"
|Jonathan Joestar||Hibiki's blows land wetly, with spittle and blood flying. Faith is, after all, just a normal man with extraorindary powers. He has no super strength, or speed. He's a skilled killer with the power to control things. Hibiki, once actually in his grill, manages to overpower him soundly, but he doesn't seem quite ready to lay down and die, yet.
Raising his machine pistol and firing it, a volley of rounds act as suppressing fire to force her back as he breathes out. "Why's it matter so much to you?"
Tina's rocket is intercepted by a Flaming Swarm that race to meet it, protecting faith by and large from the attack that actually would have blown his legs off. Sweat pours down his forehead as he breathes with heavy exertion. He was bad at direct confrontations ... but, he was always meant to be the sacrificial pawn.
Blasted back into an oil slick by Ben, whose Acid Arrows proved to be rather effective in the Swarm, Faith is thankfully not lit aflame.
Jonathan smashes through several of the Mummy soldiers, annihilating them with the force of his Hamon infused blows. Speedwagon, for his part, uses his revolver to ward off any Crocodiles looking to take a nip out of him. "Uoh!"
Wincing, Faith pushes himself back up, holding bruised ribs. His machine pistol was spent.
Firefly rolls limply on the ground, still "smoking".
"I guess. If that's how you'd like to think of it, I'm not going to tell you that you're wrong." he says, to Yuuki.
"I was an orphan. No clue about my parentage, so, I've never lost anything." That'd require having it to begin with. "People like me..just get washed out of society somehow. It's where the terms "urchin" or "gutter trash" comes from."
"Believe it or not, I was born with this power," he says, gesturing to Firefly.
Crys incinerates the Mummy, as it opens its mouth to bellow a belch of flame to meet it and is promptly overpowered by her own hot blast.
"I used it to become a career crimimnal. People like to think that there's a 'worst' of humanity, or a 'best'. The truth is that it's all a spectrum, one that shifts moment to moment."
"Faith.." Jonathan frowns.
"I know that what I feel for DIO is just a spell. Nothing ever has, or will, make me happy with myself or other people."
Faith sucks in a deep breath, as if preparing for something. If there was a chance to pull him back from the edge, it was now.
A Time To Decide
|Tina Natsumi||There's a lull in the battle, and Tina's first instinct is to take advantage of that moment to just finish things then and there. She's seen enough of Faith's abilities that it would only be natural for her to put a few bullets in his gut and call it a day, but she hesitates.
Even after trying to harden herself to killing anyone, even after knowing what he's done already, she still hesitates. The thumping noise in Uncle Sam's shoulders stops, but Tina doesn't fire it yet. She also doesn't disarm herself. She drops the emptied launcher and switches it for her personal revolver instead, just holding it at the ready for the time being while catching her breath.
"The world is pretty messed up, no question about that. Things ain't fair for a whole lotta people, and your hand might just suck for so long that the only real path you see left is... Well." Tina gestures around the temple with her head. "... All this. And that DIO guy. Hell, that's the type of world I'd work on improvin' if I was in any... Once I get bigger."
Tina trips up a bit on that last part, but she sounds firmer as she continues, leveling the revolver at Faith. "But just because things suck that hard doesn't excuse what you did. Things suck for loads of people all over, but they don't go on rampages against anyone for whoever gives 'em a payday. They at least go after the right people. The ones responsible for making things suck for themselves or for everyone else!"
She's riling herself up more now, but it's certainly helping Tina find her footing. "Sad story, cool motive, but I'm not buying it. DIO or not, whatever you did before trying to sell us on this doesn't change that you turned all those people and tried to turn us into corpse puppets. Now get up, and let's finish this." Tina's grip is still shaky, but her gaze is firmer than it's ever been since she came to Egypt.
|Zero Kiryu||Zero steps in front of Tina and extends one arm outward,. He looks agitated, and the reason why isn't altogether clear when he speaks.
"'You wanted to save these people. So what if we screwed up this time? If you're trying to save people, then you gotta look like you're gonna do it so everyone believes in it.'" He repeats back to Tina.
"If you are going to take such a stand over the mercy killing of a rotting and suffering Fisher-King and a rotting and suffering World, you had best make it here also." He says.
In spite of his offense at Tina's actions in particular, he has no apparent emotional interest in rescuing Faith in particular. He hadn't really even considered the possibility that Dio's minions COULD be saved, since they have so consistently been completely vile and unable to be talked down.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| Hibiki's combination punch-kick with Yuuki meets resounding success...! Firefly is dislodged! No more than that can happen though, as she's forced immediately back on the defense by the bullets fired her way. Her gauntlets come up as she comes to a stop, with the rounds either digging into the metal or ricocheting off of it in even measures. Only after it ends and Faith is left struggling back to his feet does she lower her defense, heaving out in heavy breaths herself. "Eh...?"
The lapse in the battle drains some of her adrenaline, sending some pain from her injuries surging in, but she continues repressing them as Faith speaks up. He didn't lose anything--he never had anything. And apparently never gained anything, either. Her lips purse together, unseen beneath her scarf, the same as the silent swallow she gives as she listens. Slowly but surely, her tensed up stance shifts as she straightens up and lets her arms drop to her sides.
"...It matters to me...because I want to try to understand you. To know if we're..." She trails off, and takes a sharp breath. "There was a time before--where I didn't have anything. Nobody helped me, so I had to help myself. And eventually, I didn't want them to help me, even when they tried. When I thought I was going to die...I just accepted it, not even knowing what I did to deserve having such a crappy life, or having it taken away from me..."
Her words are quiet and strained, but still very much audible. It's obviously not an easy thing for her to talk about so transparently. "When nobody's in your corner," she continues, referencing what Tina said after their fight with Accept, "Things get...bad. I thought /I'd/ hate myself and everybody else for however long my life lasted. That's why...!" Hibiki's voice picks up, and she starts forward with fists tightening at her side. It's an emotional gesture, held as she walks. "When someone thinks they're a lost cause, I can't just let them keep going like that! There's something--or someone--out there for everyone to live for! You already know yours isn't DIO, so you just need to find it! If you can't find it, then make it with your own two hands!" If not stopped, and likely very stupidly if this goes south, she's going to end up standing right before the man.
"...It's not as impossible as you think. At least not if you're not doing it alone. That's too much for anyone." Just like that, she unclenches her fists and instead holds out an open hand. She stares straight back towards his eyes, unblinking. "If humanity is a shifting spectrum, I think you can go right back up it. Someone once told me not to give up on living...and they were right, even if I forgot it for a while."
|Yuuki Kuran||Second Yuuki, who had jumped 'away' after combo attacking with Hibiki, does not land or re-appear. There's just Yuuki, pensive. Frustrated.
DIO and his minions denied her even this simple pleasure. 'Fine, you're comically awful, die about it'. So simple. So easy. As effortless as breathing. The privelege of a ruler.
Hibiki opens the door, but it's not quite enough -- not enough until Zero.
"You had a choice, growing up with that power, then. I won't say your situation was good enough to begin 'good', but with power, you could 'make good'. You could build enough to live find a place to settle, and choose to stop hurting."
"I agree that it's a spectrum. But I disagree you're stuck. Despair will come to your house unnanounced and stay for long seasons, but it is your choice to hurry the end of its stay, or allow it to live in your spaces without dealing with it."
Her hand rises, past the forest-cage of defensive vines around her, and extends towards Faith.
Faith can hear Second Yuuki reappear behind him, though the only thing she does is place her bare palms over his ears. "I'm going to use my power to make it so you can't hear DIO. Then you can make any choice you like.
Second Yuuki, lightly, adds a 'Ready? And...' before both Yuuki's eyes glow a lambent red. True to her word, her mind-twisting power grips at the roots of DIO's control in Faith and yanks psychically, at least theoretically severing any compulsions Faith was under.
|Crys Gattz||Crys Gattz has a new weapon in handsome kind of smaller sabre, she was ready to engage the mummy. That doesn't seem to be needed she'll turn to Faith now for a moment lowering her weapon. She waits to see what the far more verbose and diplomatic members of the party have to say to this there seems to be a moment, a chance Faith can be pulled back from the edge. She does not wish to ruin such attempts she lowers her weapon for the moment and thumbs it off. The energy blade retracts into its hilt.
She is more than a bit shocked that one of this Dio's minions might be able to be pulled back after hearing Hibiki she feels she has to say something.
"Was alone once a long time ago, I was left for dead and a stranger peeled me off the ground and carried me out. Humanity is a shifting spectrum as Hibiki said? You can choose to change your direction...You have such a chance now. Do you not have the power to make a stand? You have the will to change which way you are going."
|Ben d'Tarkanan|| Ben steps out from the darkness, which disappears behind him. He doesn't truly need to, in order to see what's happened. Perhaps it's just instinct, to see something one doesn't expect, and want to step closer.
oO0So the subject knows they're under Dio's thrall. At least, this specific one does. ...I wonder. Of all the times I've cast that spell, how many of them knew?
Ben frowns, as a shiver runs down his spine.
That thought alone is disconcerting enough, but the scene before him is highly irregular. He's accustomed to those who will fight to the death, and accustomed to those who will ask for mercy. He's quite fine, granting it where it's asked--but this man seems to have given up in a far more profound sense than this fight alone. Perhaps he'd given up before Dio even met him.
His sword is still in hand, but it's held down, away. His mouth opens and closes, as something like a mixture of empathy and... perhaps fear, or shame, crosses his face. It's an anguished expression very much unlike his usual affable demeanor. Something that Faith has said has very much bothered him, it seems, having shaken something loose or reminded him of something he'd much rather have left buried.
"I don't know what to say." He's for once completely honest--at least about that.
oO0Has the money made me happy? Has the admiration of other people? Has the status? It must have... surely. After everything I went through, mustn't it? But... why do I feel such a kinship with this man, who calls himself Faith but lacks any to speak of?
"...no," he says, to Tina, sheathing his sword. "Please, stay your hand. I can't tell you why. But I feel, very strongly, that this man should be given a chance, here today. There's someone, who you and I have both met, who said that social empathy is among the things which make people worth the time of day."
The necromancer runs his right hand through his hair, searching for words with a thoughtful frown, breaking eye contact for a moment to collect his thoughts. "I believe we're looking at someone who's never been given that, I believe that we have the chance to do so--and I believe, quite strongly, that we should. Please."
Ben gives Tina a searching, pleading look.
|Tina Natsumi||Memories start coming back of that wretched world. He was there, wasn't he? She did say that, didn't she? Tina's aim falters as she starts to remember bits and pieces of what had happened so long ago, groaning after several painful moments. "Did I realy sound like that back then...? Ech. Shit." She rubs her face with her free hand, then one holding the gun just resting the weapon against her shoulder instead of aiming it at anyone.
"... It would be pretty messed up for me to say that 'I've changed since then' and just shoot the guy when he can maybe get that chance now, huh?" She lets out a sigh that sounds strangely relieved at Zero's intervention, yet also conflicted. Confused, even, especially in the context of that prior sense of relief. Hibiki's plea towards Faith has Tina rubbing her forehead in more of that frustrated relief, and she outright groans when Yuuki (or is it Second Yuuki? She can't quite tell) does... Something to Faith.
Probably something helpful. Ben outright asks her to relent, and Tina lets out another sigh before holstering her weapon and sending Uncle Sam away while holding her hands up visibly. "Dang it... Fine, fine. Just don't let anyone say I never listen to people, got it? Can't call myself an aspirin' leader if I just ignore everyone, right?" She manages a brief laugh, then finally looks towards Faith with some lingering uncertainty, but still with an attempt to smile however uncomfortably.
"Now's your chance to turn things around, man. You got this?"
|Jonathan Joestar||Tina's accusation is dull to his chest. It was just more grand standing, at least from his perspective -- someone looking for an excuse to sleep easier about hurting someone else. He has nothing to say to it, after all, he wasn't trying to beg for mercy. If she shot him with that revolver, fine.
Whatever he was ready to do halts, as Hibiki reaches out to him; and, Faith felt .. something. He couldn't quite place his finger on it, but, perhaps this is what empathy felt like, he realizes. Maybe that was why ..
His whole life, not a single person who had stood in his shoes had ever reached out to him, and told him it could get better. It was always someone moralizing. Softly, or harshly, blaming him for being the way he was. For being born in the circumstances he was.
Maybe it had been his fault, maybe not. It didn't matter.
If you cared, it hurt. If it hurt, it meant you had a reason to care. And that, in and of itself, was frightening.
But somehow, this teenaged girl understood. He knew, their eyes staring into one another, that she did. And in his coal black eyes, she could see that shared past reflected in them.
Hibiki reaches out.
And Yuuki Kuran appears behind him. "Hn..?"
Her hands cover his ears, in a gentle cupping motion. The change is subtle, but no less apparent. For some, DIO's prescence was all encompassing, it was all they could think about. Like Eve. For him, it was like a dull background noise, similar to the buzzing static of a TV left on in the background. Constantly badgering, just out of sight, out of mind.
You never realized what kind of effect it had on you until it was turned off.
And for the first time in quite a while, Faith was free to make his own decision.
Was it worth it? Was life worth living for? He didn't think so. But ...
Maybe, he was wrong.
With a subtle motion of his hand, Firefly fell from his sleeve, as it had disappeared from its place on the ground, smoke fizzling out of its end. If he had a chance to use his Stand's power on Hibiki or Yuuki, it was now.
Faith presses the lit end against his palm, extinguishing it, and its power.
The various mummies and insects all revert to their natural form, though for the few flies that remained, they didn't drop dead like the rest -- most likely, because they were still alive to begin with.
Jonathan releases a bated breath, "I agree with Baron d'Tarkanan. Even if Faith will not beg for your mercy, I would do it in his stead."
Speedwagon, thoughtfully, pulls on the brim of his cap. " ... that guy ... "
Faith takes Hibiki's hand. "Whether you're right or wrong ... I can't say. You're not the first person who told me that I shouldn't give up, but ... you're the first one that I feel understands why."
"You win. This time, anyway."
JoJo smiles. Tina shows mercy, and Faith ... has joined the party.
|Zero Kiryu||"It's not a bad way to sound, if you mean it," Zero says to Tina. It's clear, though, that it's not something HE believes. He is simply wholly deferring to Hibiki's attempt, and happened to think it was pretty messed up for Tina to take that specific turn with her decision making.
"Putting down the dangerously ill is a part of what I do. That's not for everyone. Neither is saving the dangerously ill."
He lowers his arm and turns back to join Yuuki-- one of them, anyway. Zero takes Yuuki the Second by the shoulders and leads her away from the group. The body language of an ongoing conversation is occurring, but no actual words are coming out of Zero, at least.
|Yuuki Kuran||From behind Faith, Second Yuuki gives Hibiki a big thumbs up, before disappearing with Zero off into the middle distance. "I'm sorry, I had your fruit 'off camera'. It was busy tonight." She admits, sheepishly.
From besides Speedwagon, Yuuki the First taps her chin thoughtfully. "This is why history is better with friends, I think, Jonathan. And, Speedwagon..."
Yuuki pats his bicep warmly. "Robert. I'm sorry for prying, but in the past, weren't you also dealing with a difficult situation? This is why I wished you to speak with care and grace, like a gentle man. You have an amazing sense for people, but you speak so quickly. If you give yourself a moment to breathe and think - like Jonathan's 'tooh!' -" Yuuki makes the noise forceful, stressing her neck as she does for effect. It's sharp, if humorous. "- I think the things that come to you after a moment will be much wiser. Thanks for looking after Jonathan today!"
|Jonathan Joestar||Looking down, Speedwagon dips his head, "Ah ... well ... "
Jonathan can't help but grin as the other man flushes. Yuuki wasn't incorrect, after all -- Speedwagon wore his heart on his sleeve. When he was mad, he yelled, and when he was happy, he laughed. And when he saw injustice, he roared.
That's just the kind of emotional guy that Robert E. O. Speedwagon happened to be. And as she points out, that meant he had a habit of getting ahead of himself.
"Don't mention it. JoJo is a valuable friend I'd gladly give my life for. I can't make any promises, but there's wisdom in what you're saying .. so I'll endeavor to follow your advice."
"Ah, Speedwagon, that'd be a drastic change, though?" Jonathan laughs, "Oi! It wouldn't be that strange, would it?! Hnn.."
|Crys Gattz||Crys Gattz seeing the fight is truely over trhant Faith intends to give a go at changing things for the better for himself? Her DB sabre vanishes back intoher photon trap. It seems to be over for the moment and she'll take a monomate downing it and just seems to relax. She'll keep some tabs on their new ally, also an attempt to get to know him better in the mean time.|
|Hibiki Tachibana|| Hibiki isn't desensitized to what's going on around her, even if her full attention is Faith in front of her. She can hear Tina speaking her piece, Zero shooting back to her, Ben pleading with her...and the eventual change in her thoughts. Crys pitching in...and very importantly, Yuuki tuning out DIO's influence. If not for that, she's not sure how hard the mastermind behind all of this would or could have pulled back.
Through it all, she keeps staring back at the man. Some understanding goes well beyond words - she of all people, as the bearer of a Symphogear, knows that very well. Even when he removes Firefly, she doesn't flinch or even look at it--because she had faith in him. And he takes her hand.
It's a very strange feeling. Like a blossoming warmth inside of her chest she can't really suppress, even if she wanted to. For the first time, she feels like she passed forward that moment that stopped her from meeting a very similar fate and saved someone in a way that goes much further than the physical. If it wasn't for her scarf, the unrestrained smile on her face would be entirely out in the open.
But it shows well enough in her eyes and in her firm grip. "I don't know the answer to that, either...but I guess it's just the kind of person I am. And I'll do everything I can to make sure it's not wrong. Thank you." Is she really the one who should be thanking him? Apparently she thinks so.
And she definitely owes some of that to everyone else here. "...Thank you, too. All of you." With an open thumbs up with her free hand back to Yuuki, these feelings in her heart, and someone to prove to that life is worth living...she feels more ready than ever to take on DIO!