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|Hiromi|| The fighting attracts less attention from outside this particular street than one might expect, though from the rooftops, the reason for this is easily guessed. There aren't guards waiting to be called in as reinforcements around those other bonfires. Those are more oni having their own parties, and here and there they're even fighting each other. Somewhere, the roughhousing is too rough for the house, and another building crumbles, throwing a dust cloud up to reflect the firelight.
With visibility mostly clear up toward the palace's outer walls, the street the Concord members are on is a different matter. Here, if it weren't for Seilatiya's efforts, the humans would all be running for shelter. Instead, they're trying to make their way to her while avoiding the oni, who gradually realize that challengers have arrived, and are turning in the same direction. Unfortunately, though they must all be extremely drunk by this point, the suspiciously good drink being just that strong, drunkenness doesn't appear a physical demerit of any kind for this variety of horned monster. Their articulative ability, potentially, would be greater under other circumstances, if not their good judgment.
Another thing that can be gleaned from a sufficient vantage point is that most of the bigger, nastier looking oni are further up the street. Some hierarchy of importance is at work, with only the lone specimen or so reaching still-less than half the height of the Queen of Veils, out here. Toward the center of the city, the food is stacked higher, whole animals roasting on spits. Looking up (and mostly out, but even at her height, still up) at the farthest groups of revelers, ones that haven't yet noticed any intrusion but undoubtedly will soon, Hiromi puts it this way: "Only thin game here. Scents greatest in leader's den."
She looks between Persephone and Isahane, then up the rooftops toward Staren and Seilatiya. "Or, do these satisfy you? If you wish smaller playmates, stay behind. I'll go, find the largest neck to grasp." Hiromi isn't trying to be hard to understand, and her shifts in tone match what Persephone, at least, can immediately confirm from naked thought: It's rare that the Archwolf gets the chance to tease someone over a challenge they have a real chance of taking up. A friendly challenge to find the biggest, baddest monster in the area and beat it first is the realest fun. She hasn't even tried the drink yet.
Hiromi starts forward, knocking anything in the way back out of the way. This presents several possible problems to others: She might get well ahead, leaving angry oni in her wake, who will go for whoever they see upon regaining their sense of balance. The architecture here is uncommonly sturdy, but the force of blows that the oni still seem to survive is enough to badly damage it. The humans present are staying out of the way, but a rapid advance does little to keep them safe.
|Undivided Queens|| It seems, at this point, Isahane is interested *equally* in vengeance for the downtrodden, and the ridiculously good booze. Possibly, the former might just be a kind of loosely justified form of looking to pick a fight with giant monsters in an effort to get as drunk and angry as they are. She has reached the point of fisticuff brawling now, handling a jug with one arm and using the heavily armoured one to deliver her blows, weaving around the campsite, and keeping her drink safe (and repeatedly up to her lips) by flipping tables up, kicking embers into eyes, smashing pots and plates over heads, and going in and out of the buildings. When she has a bit of clear time and space, she polishes off the last of the jug, shatters it against the ground, and yells "Hey, do I look satisfied to you, huh?" Hiromi's way. Isahane then begins running up the street. She is apparently not yet drunk enough to fall behind.
During that time lag between anything happening, Seilatiya is the one hard at work. "Come come! Here here!" she calls, waving the fleeing humans towards their One And Only Saviour from on high, presenting an irresistible lure to the frightened, but no ostensible threat to the very large and muscular. What she's actually *doing* isn't obvious until one gets into the same cluster of buildings as her; not even from the streets on each side. The glow of the Holy Runecipher diminishes only slightly as she calls it back down again, tapping away at its infinite cascading waves of mysterious characters with a burst of that uncanny accuracy and focus she briefly displays when operating it (as opposed to her 'flower-brained' behaviour, as Isahane puts it). At the core of the block, the ground splits apart in a perfect square, and glittery cherry pink magical 'voxels' materialize a straight stairway down, turning several right angles until what appears to be a sort of underground bunker.
However, because this is Seilatiya, 'bunker' means something more like 'very vaguely east Asian convention floor, with cozy lights, mats, sofas, little fountains of clear water, climate control, soothing string music coming from nowhere, and non-oni drinks and snacks. The thick layers of metal being constructed around it, in incidentally similar pattern to earthquake-proof silos, go unseen. The entrance can be sealed up good as new once the last few people are in, invisible to oni.
|Persephone Kore|| Persephone's expression sours as she feels the oni's hearts shift. The Queen in Veils is faceless, but it still neatly conveys her unease through its body language: Hey, that reassurance wasn't meant for you! Now I feel sort of gross! You're not allowed to feel good about what you've done.
"Hey! Hiromiiii. You can't just- uuuuuugh." The doll-mech's hand reaches out after the archwolf uselessly when she darts off. "Can't we save the humans before we play that game?? It really isn't fair!" she calls after Hiromi, but the odds of her being listened to are slim-to-none.
A game like that... I'd enjoy it a lot. But if I just chase after her, I'll leave all these people alone. Can Seilatiya handle that? Will Staren want to? Uuuugh. I hate this!!
Any oni that immediately menace her or nearby humans can be dealt with using dismissively casual and completely overwhelming telekinetic force. But her real attention is elsewhere: Persephone focuses her "mind-sight" on the central palace itself, trying to ascertain if there are any humans inside. With how distinctively unpleasant the oni's minds are, telling them apart shouldn't be hard!
In the likely event that there are, Persephone sends them a telepathic message-slash-compulsion: I need you to get out of there right now, okay? It's really important! Drop whatever you're doing and run.
And if all of them manage to escape- or enough of them that the hypothetically still-trapped humans are only in discrete, avoidable sections of the palace-
Persephone crushes the roof in with her incalculable telekinetic might, burying whatever oni she can beneath the palace's weight. I'm sure they'll live!! But I think pulling themselves out from under rubble is sort of a bad position, isn't it?
|Staren|| Staren summons drones into the air as she flies, then lands next to Seilatiya. "I uh... thanks. I'll have to make the final design more efficient, or come up with a sort of ammunition-like storage device..." She looks at the forming bunker with wide eyes. "Wow, nice!" She passes the 'magical girl staff' from right hand to left and holds it out for Seilatiya to touch. Most of the circuits and the fire opal on the head of the staff are there to shape the spell, but there's also a couple of small diamonds in copper settings surrounded by a helix of golden wire near the base, which serve as storage for enough mana to fire one shot.
Staren doesn't just wait for Seilatiya, though. In the meantime, she pulls what looks like a pistol with unusually long rounds out of her bag and fires one, two, three, four shots into the air. The tiny missiles, guided by drone, arc down and then fly, along streets and around corners, into the nearest onis, exploding into tiny pencil-lead-thin lances of piercing light. Hopefully they have vital organs to disrupt. Oni have vital organs, right??
|Hiromi|| Hiromi and Isahane race up the street, knocking out or avoiding obstacles in their own way. The side paths are complex, but make it just as possible to go one way as another. The furniture inside is oddly sparse to be a place wherein people have actually lived, but more importantly, there are plenty of openings sized for an agile warrior queen. When knocked down, near invariably, the oni get right back up again, or get up after a dizzy delay, or after dragging themselves off to the side to collect themselves. Some of these, having lost sight of their initial target, do turn towards Persephone and Staren, and get thrown out somewhere else for their trouble, or blown out by micro-missiles.
A fall from this height won't really hurt them, but the climb back up will take awhile, even with their significant jumping strength. The missiles do hurt them, as long as they manage to hit accurately enough to get their vitals. They do, as it turns out, have vital points, though their resistance to staying down makes it hard to tell if they're dying very slowly or just stunned for a long period.
Seilatiya gets people underground. This does keep them safe, for now, and they're obviously, immensely, worshipfully grateful to her. There's a lot of very deep bowing. Understanding what they're saying is curiously difficult, as if most of the words were part of a secret language, and not one she's ever had the chance to hear before now, but their expressions and body language are clear enough. They aren't trying to be deceptive, so that strange tongue must be the only one they speak.
There are still some on their way, as it takes time for word to reach all across the city. Definitely far longer than it will take Hiromi to reach the palace's walls, and this applies to the problem of getting humans out of that central area, as well. Though the minds Persephone contacts appear perfectly willing to make their way outside, as well as they're able, it's a grand complex in a vaguely South-to-East Asian style, not a single building, and she'd have to wait quite awhile to get more than a few areas clear. Focusing on just the areas with the nastiest oni presences allows her to get at least one area quickly clear of any human presence, but it also gets a tell-tale movement response. Someone in there, someone important, noticed her peeking.
The roof caves in before they can take any action discernible from this distance. There's a mighty crash, masonry falling hundreds of feet. The walls shudder, but moving those feels like moving a planet. It happens, but it's slow work that would take continued effort. That place wasn't just built to withstand absurd amounts of force, but after the first bit of destruction, it feels like it's actively resisting any attempt to bend it. There's a presence there, in the walls of the building itself, but it's not immediately obvious what it is, apart from not just being "a mind."
Owing mostly to that delay of humans clearing out, and having taken nearly the most direct route, Hiromi passes the outer gates of the palace complex a little before the crash. She bounds over long flights of broad steps, and leap-kicks a door big enough for a giant. It slams open, having not been locked. Isahane will catch up in a moment, and see the same sight.
|Undivided Queens||<Tac-Concord> 4 Persephone Kore says, "Seilatiyaaaa."
<Tac-Concord> 4 Persephone Kore says, "That palace. You could make something like it pretty easily, couldn't you?"
<Tac-Concord> 4 Undivided Queens |Seilatiya says, "Well duh. Why do you ask?"
<Tac-Concord> 4 Persephone Kore says, "Thanks!! You're the best, ahaha."
Part of the palace pretty much just kabooms. Seilatiya's question is answered. "Oh." she pretty much just says to herself. "Ah well, no matter. Most of this place was wrecked already anyways." The fact that she can't really understand what the refugees are saying doesn't seem to phase her. After all, with just a look, she can know just what's in their hearts, and it's all so wonderful that her own radiant satisfaction is impossible to misunderstand!
She only takes a break when Staren shows up. Seilatiya isn't *tall*, but she has exactly the kind of alpha princess energy necessary to pat-ruffle Staren on the head anyway and still make it look infuriatingly elegant. "Of course, cutie! It's your first time, so I'll be nice~" To make everything even more regally one-sided, all she has to do is touch the wand with a fingertip, and the capacitors emphatically *blaze* with pink magic glow. She didn't even focus or anything. It's like it just overflowed out of her. Like plugging into a wall socket. "Make it bigger and even prettier next time, okay?"
|Hiromi|| The first sight inside is a long series of doors, but these are already open. They were surely guarded at some point, and some of the same, gray defenders as are piled up outside are here piled in corners, with noticeably fewer of them having died with all their limbs intact. Arms, as well as weapons and a scattering of teeth, have been kicked to the sides of the hall. Past entrance and reception chambers, the only revelers here being the ones finally passed out drunk, they find what was once a throne room, and is now the main feasting hall.
Here are the strongest of the strong, and though the roof has fallen in on them, crushing bodies from the great height those immensely strong and heavy beams were pulled loose by Persephone, it can still be seen what this room had been, just moments before. Even now, there's the greatest of feasts, the bowls and plates kept full until moments earlier, doubtless by the humans who've now fled. Tables and chairs brought in from elsewhere were arranged haphazardly over every flat surface, a great cauldron is overturned with what looks like an elephant-sized turtle in it, while another still bubbles. A proper kitchen is nowhere in sight, but a palace is likely to have several, to keep such supplies.
But a second, closer look will reveal the source of much of these supplies, along with the gold and jewelry everywhere, so much that even the mostly fashion-averse oni adorned themselves with it, along with the concerningly unique weaponry many of them, the ones not pinned beneath the rubble, are holding. Behind the throne are the doors of an enormous vault, now cracked open, its locks destroyed. Just the proximity of what's inside that treasury has a palpable sense of wonder to human minds. Tracks show the priceless treasures carelessly dropped by those looting it.
And on the throne sits the largest, fattest oni yet, a four-horned, white-bearded, reddish monster with an obviously magical artifact of a shield, appearing bronze and gold, with a single large face and stacked arrays of animals carved in its surface. In his other hand is a gourd, kept carelessly upside-down, endlessly draining that same drink that's been elsewhere in the city, here into a long trough from which others dip their bowls. Only on an intruder appearing does the gourd right itself, and the self-styled king begin to stand, his stolen crown an ill fit to his head, though otherwise majestically beautiful.
There's another figure of particular note, a deeper red, still white-haired, a mere seven feet tall, and proportioned nearly as a human, otherwise. It's odd just for his smaller size, but then there's also the armor covering his arms, and the fact that he'd be strikingly handsome, in a well-muscled fight-idiot kind of way, if his eyes weren't filled with literally incandescent fury.
There was another notable figure, but that one is gone by the time Hiromi arrives. It's bounded up to the broken roof, and out of it, sighted an opponent, and approached with a speed not shamed by lightning. If properly seen, this one's a faint blue, with a single, off-center horn, an almost unremarkably human build by comparison, being an almost-as-well muscled six-foot-tall woman, wielding a thin, slightly curved sword, and wearing a mask over most of her face, leaving only hints that she's just as singularly striking in appearance as the solitary oddity still inside the palace. When it's swung, which happens at least six times in the space of a breath, the slice extends far away from it, as if dragged against everything in the full arc of its swing, still a hundred feet distant.
|Persephone Kore|| Persephone's "telekinesis" consists of her deciding an end result, and then physics figuring out how to justify arriving there. It's very rare that there's any misalignment between those two things. So the palace's resistance- even if only reactive and partial- immediately gives her pause. Any mismatch between her will and reality is an aberration.
She's dumb enough to guess the wrong cause, though.
What happened? Did I hesitate, just a little bit? ... Oh. This palace is really important, isn't it? Someone really wanted it to stay standing! I must've felt that. Phony, it's so unlike you to damage a work of art!
Well, except for that one girl in the pyramid, ahaha!
With a parting wave to Seilatiya- thanks so much for keeping those people safe!!- the Queen in Veils simply lifts off the ground, drifting over buildings and up towards the palace's roof. As it approaches the hole she made, she tries to sift through the palace's psychonarrative residue; the cognitive significance it's acquired throughout its existence. Why is it important? Or, in other words: "Why are you the way that you are?"
The oni scampering out along the roof, though, doesn't give her long to contemplate the answer. Those arcing slashes slice into the Queen in Veils' plastic chassis even from far away, though the first wound has begun to mend only a second after the last one impacts.
"Hey," she calls out as the Queen sets down on the rooftop, her voice bright and cheerful. "You're different from the other ones, aren't you? But you still want a fight. I'm okay with that if you are! Even if you aren't ready for just how hard it will be."
She says that, very distinctly, as if the oni needed her permission to fight her.
|Staren|| Hiromi asks for witnesses. The drones spreading that way make sure they're recording her, and Staren tries to devote occasional attention to a picture-in-picture of whichever one has the best angle at the moment.
Seilatiya has to know full well what she's doing, even if Staren doesn't yet. Affectionate headpats -- Staren would assume condescension but the queen is excellent at making sure she's not misunderstood -- are really pushing it, though the double entendre gets a stammered attempt at a... rebuttal? Clarification? That doesn't get further than "I... buh... wh..." before the queen speaks again.
The overwhelmed catgirl steps forward and tries to *hug* Seilatiya. Clinging tightly, full of feelings she doesn't understand.
Now look what you did! Well, that's awkward. Or maybe kind of sweet and touching. If reminded they're in the middle of a rescue-fight, she'll distractedly break off and take a moment to refocus, trying to form a battle plan that basically amounts to flying along the human evacuation line, mainly using other weapons but using the magic staff again when big or too many oni get too close, or Staren's passing by Seilatiya again for a refill. If not she'll just... stay here. Yeah.
|Undivided Queens|| Seilatiya reacts to Staren's confused affection with an agonizingly warm and soft "There there. I know it's overwhelming taking it all in at once, but you know, there are people still depending on you. You have to take care of them first, yes?" Then, there is an equally soft, yet significantly more gut-dropping "Don't worry; I won't tell Isa~"
Speaking of which, Isahane arrives at the palace only shortly after Hiromi, being no less fast, and her comparatively lesser super-wolf mobility largely made up for by those oddly bone (chitin?) plated and swirl-painted wings she hasn't bothered to demanifest. Just before she hits the doors, she dons the rest of the Steel Dragon transformation, and crashes her way into the main hall decked head to toe in unrealistically thick and heavily ornamented armour, only leaving space for those wings, her horns, the back of her hair, and her snarling grin. That gigantic, crescent-tipped sword from her duel with Hiromi, the size and weight of a car, flashes into her hand with another sustained whine from her Imperial Runecipher, which now hovers from her at a slightly looser distance.
"I'll let you have that one then!" she calls out to Persephone, since she seems to be focused on the Blue Oni (for the wrong or right reasons, intangible). Instead, she points a clawed gauntlet finger at the Red Oni, roughly her height and also armoured up, and simply bellows "Come at me!" She doesn't seem to know what that actually means though, become she instantly rushes at him instead, charging head on with a deafening war cry and a greatsword sized for someone twice her height, raised for a heavily telegraphed, vertical power blow.
Which she unleashes too early? The ground cracks in half before she actually enters attacking range, never mind counter range, stopping just short of the instant a skilled foe would read her obvious swing, at the instant they would naturally launch their own attack, barely out of reach. Instead, her whole body is swung upward halfway by the sword's length, weight, and leverage, and then a thunderous beat of her wings completes and accelerates the revolution, landing on the oni's shoulders and burying him under a storm of vicious stomping blows-- quite literally, if he decides to block them.
|Hiromi|| Persephone finds that the building is very, very old. Its long history involves a lot of 'why' and 'how,' not all of which seems to agree on a single narrative. It was built for power, not just because of power, but to provide power to something else. It was built for glory and dignity, not just of those who reigned from here, but as a symbol of those below, something they could look up to as their own, even if they would never set foot here. From closer up, and with focused attention, she can now tell that an unfathomable number of strong psychic impressions meld together within the walls, like single-minded ghosts, whose only goal is for the building to stand forever. That is, at least, how the situation appears from a psychic's perspective.
The blue oni, most likely the only blue oni still standing who matters, doesn't share Persephone's cheer. She has what would be a smooth voice, but sounds like an ornery, surly drunk. The state of inebriation is not even slightly reflected in her movements. "You came for a fight. I'll give you one. You're not the first to think size was everything." She swings her sword just to point. "I'll cut you down to my size, then we'll see how hard you beg!"
And then she disappears from sight, to reappear in a blur, rematerializing mid-spinkick to the back of each mecha joint, less sharp without the sword, but hardly weaker. To most, this would be an immediate, cruel overkill of a crippling attack.
Now that the Queen in Veils has also moved to the palace, and Seilatiya and Staren are inside the bunker, there's no longer anything but the flow of fearful humans to attract hostile attention to the bunker's surface entrance. Whatever's happening at the palace is much more visible and obviously exciting than some dumb, weak, terribly ordinary, panicked humans, who are all trying to stay out from underfoot. A few of them still cause problems, but Staren's able to hold them off. While the staff is effective, especially on the smaller oni (which is most of them), it's also flashy, and if not aimed carefully, that will end up attracting more attention, despite the buildings providing thirty-plus feet of cover. The oni only seem to really notice the drones when attacked, dark as it is.
|Hiromi|| Isahane makes her choice, and as she rushes forward, so does the red oni. Whatever he planned to do doesn't happen, thanks to the blow landing 'early,' and he adjusts by instantly backing off and raising his arms to block, a quick reaction of caution she'd not yet seen in any of his fellows. Her jump still lands her on him, though on those armored arms -- the only part of him that is, being otherwise topless, and having loose cloth pants cinched at the ankles.
The armor of the Steel Dragon's feet strikes what may be (and is) the stolen armor of a dead god, and neither breaks, but it's the oni that's driven to his knees. He takes half a dozen blows that should have shattered an armored man before he opens his arms, leans back, takes a blow directly to the chest, is somehow neither killed nor dissuaded by this, and takes that same moment to grab Isahane's leg, jumping after her even if she takes off from it.
If that connects, he'll swing her back down to the ground, not giving up the grip before mounting her to rain down his own storm of blows with closed fists. He's notably less talkative than the blue oni, but there's still a lot of roaring screams.
This doesn't leave much room to see what Hiromi's up to, but she's clearly gone for the biggest oni, and the throne's been knocked over, despite having been built into the dais below it.
|Staren|| Staren's confused affection doesn't seem to have a large romantic component yet, although Seilatiya possibly rightfully guesses she could easily be tipped to fall in that direction in a vulnerable moment. The comments about people depending on her make her ears perk up, and the strange comment about Isa snaps her the rest of the way out of it, if only because it's confusing and she has to think to try and make sense of it. What? Staren's not sure a hug is automatically seen that way, but before she can puzzle out whether something was missed, the wider situation is able to intrude on her mind again and she lets go and steps back, giving Seilatiya a confused but still hug-starved look before she flies off to work.
Staren's distracted enough to not really be discreet or secretive about the magic attack, though! If anything, she wants to show off. Her own natural desire to look impressive, as well as to let the evacuating humans know power is protecting them and keeping them safe, and maybe a little hoping for more positive comments from Seilatiya. At least she doesn't linger by the queen, though -- now that Staren's confirmed she CAN recharge the staff's PPE storage, she doesn't even slow to a stop when she flies by, just making sure she drops low enough and holds out the staff so Seilatiya can charge it in passing. The Summer Mask Fight alongside a psychic projection of her own animus was good practice for handling this sort of situation.
Still, as powerful as DESICCATE THE SUPERNATURAL is, Staren can only use it once per pass, so she mainly uses beams and shoulder rocket launchers, sometimes using a laser sniper rifle to strike or warping in a bunch of missiles to send at distant drone-spied targets when oni get too close to a part of the evacuation line she's not as close to.
|Hiromi|| As the battle progresses, the lines of evacuation that need defending get tighter, and there are fewer big targets bothering them. Owing to their very ordinary means of locomation, inability to follow straight streets to the target, and need to remain at least partially hidden, there are still plenty out there, but word has now reached to the farthest points, and everyone has been accounted for. Even those in the palace are slowly getting out of there, made somewhat more difficult by that being the place most of the oni are heading *towards*.
Staren's drone strikes and missiles therefore see plenty of use, up to the point when she starts losing some of them, in a pattern her AI will quickly figure out means someone's gotten wise and is headed her way. That'll turn out to be several someones, a squad of blue oni working uncommonly well together in trying to get the jump on her, their progress mostly given away by the destroyed cameras along the path. They've got javelins, and they're made of the same, extremely dense material as the city's defenders used for all their weapons, making for a heavy surprise punch, if they do catch her.
The humans are, at least, grateful for the help, the more so the more visible it is. Superpowered beings coming to their aid must be how things used to work in their lives, so there isn't as much shock or even surprise at it happening, apart from that it happened 'today,' when no one knew if it ever would again. They have a reason to be hopeful again. The ones immediately around Seilatiya don't seem to know exactly what to do around her immediate proximity apart from the worshipful bowing, stopping only if she directs them elsewhere, or if new arrivals need help down the stairs and to become situated in waiting out the fighting.
|Persephone Kore|| "Aw, but you're taller than I am!" Persephone answers with a cheerful little laugh. The oni's fearsome impacts send spiderwebbing cracks over the Queen in Veils' pearl-white chassis, bending metal and deforming joints. Persephone can't react to that kind of speed, but she doesn't even try- what's the point in fighting if I don't let my opponent show off? If the Queen got a reprieve of ten or twenty seconds it could still regenerate entirely, but it's accruing meaningful damage as long as the oni can keep up her assault.
The doll-mech turns to look down at its own shoulder, seemingly marveling at the injury. "You really are amazing! That thing with the sword- is the sword magic, or did you learn how to do that yourself?"
"Oh!! But I'm really being the worst, aren't I? Ahaha, I'm sorry." The Queen in Veils cups its cheek in its hand almost absentmindedly. The air next to the agile blue oni subtly ripples- that's all the warning she gets before a terrifying telekinetic force bears down on her, pinning her down to the rooftop with enough strength to shatter even the ghost-reinforced tiles. "You've shown me so much! And I haven't shown you anything at all. That's unfair of me." She'd sound condescending if she weren't so unbearably sincere all the time.
Somehow, that force which ought to liquefy flesh and crush bones into diamond feels gentle on impact. The world does what Persephone wants, and Persephone doesn't want to hurt anyone for real! But the enormous pressure is exhausting, tempting, inviting surrender.
It relents after just a few seconds, but that could feel like an eternity. "See? Ahaha. Size doesn't have anything to do with the ways I'm strong!"
|Undivided Queens|| Of course Seilatiya knows it isn't romantic! Poor Staren's feelings are so obvious! However, it could probably be assumed that maybe Isahane doesn't react well to people suddenly hugging her partner queen; and especially not with the amount of oni liquor she's been chugging thusfar. Oops!
Isahane is thankfully both relatively far away and pretty busy. She is busy turning the floor underneath the Red Oni's guard into a shallow burial pit with the repeated impacts of her barrage. She doesn't appear to be a highly technical fighter; someone willing to trade blow for blow like that doesn't have too hard of a time grabbing her armoured leg, or even swinging her to the ground, in that split second. When the brawler oni jumps on top of her and starts punching however, the 'Dragon-Eater' matches his roaring with the volume of her laughter, warding her face and chest with both heavily armoured forearms, turning the blows into a rain of toku sparks and smoke, and then suddenly going silent.
The silence is the only warning he gets that something is amiss. It's because she needs to stop laughing to suck in a big breath. The next punch is thrown to the side when Isahane parts her guard, and from between her blocking arms, she unleash a roar of point blank-- that's not flame. Her breath attack is more like a highly concentrated and pressurized nozzle of heavy white gas, of some apparently fatally low temperature. It has to come out at such high velocity because all the water in the air turns into ice and clatters to the floor after only a second. It's probably not enough pressure to throw the oni *off* her, but it's both gaseous --a physical guard won't shield his body from being enshrouded in it-- and liable to cripple his fighting potential even if it doesn't completely incapacitate him, by freezing his muscles and stopping his blood flow.
With the abs of a goddess, Isahane then swings her upper body up to deliver a horned headbutt straight into center mass, hard enough that even her head throws off more suit-sparks.
|Staren|| Staren doesn't just float there and brace for impact -- she tried to dodge, when she spots the blue oni javelineers... but with some of her cameras down, she doesn't spot ALL of them. One soars wide, another is slowed as if by invisible plate armor before failing to pierce the coat, although Staren lets out a surprised 'ow!' and the rest fail to find purchase, scraping against or failing to penetrate the defensive magic with enough energy to harm Staren.
Still, the catgirl yanks out a couple of the javelins stuck in her with the expression of an engineer who has just realized that their safety precautions don't cover THIS situation as well as they'd like, and then drops into a smokescreen.
Another salvo of micromissiles launches out of the smoke, but this is a feint -- they just crash against walls or into the street and deploy more smoke. Staren is flying low towards Seilatiya, tight-beaming <"I may need some backup!"> to her radio.
Still, the first few oni who come after her are encouraged to duck by beam shots that disintigrate neat holes in neaby walls or micromissiles lacking the sensor guidance to precisely target vitals.
|Hiromi|| Persephone gives the blue oni a chance to attack. She gives a lot of chances, in fact. The ripple is noticed, and even reacted against, but the guarding position of the sword wasn't the correct reaction to avoid the attack. She's caught, then held down, gently, only to be allowed back up again, a few seconds later. It should be exhausting, it is tempting, but the expected reactions of a sane, human mind don't apply here, and the hostile stubbornness of this one is the greatest of any mind Persephone's touched today. She still wants to fight. And, since she's been given the chance, that's what she chooses to do.
"What? You're taller, bad, blind, eyeless liar. This sword is mine. You can't have it, unless you take it." That's not exactly what she was asked, but she's definitely drunk and possibly not that bright. "You aren't hitting me with *that* again. You want to see? Watch!" She takes a leap back, lowers her stance, sword held out at her side, subtly turns her grip on the blade, and when her stance reaches a point like a tightly coiled spring, again she disappears, replaced with a hurricane wind.
The hurricane isn't the point. It's a side-effect of her passing. The blade itself creates no wind, the edge cleanly slicing through the air, on a course for the head of the Queen of Veils. It's a well-practiced finisher, a decapitating strike that gives no time to react, efficiently using the full force of her whole body.
She isn't anywhere in sight after it passes.
Below, Hiromi is roaring in triumph. Isahane may still be able to hear that, and it almost distracts the red oni. The hesitation is barely perceptible, in between sledgehammer blows of his fists on Isahane's guard. When she starts doing 'something strange,' he begins to roll back off of her, again showing that instinctive caution his fellows lack, but not quickly enough to avoid the high-pressure attack. The armored arms appear invulnerable, but that's on the surface. They're stiff and slow in the moments after the attack and, stunned, he takes the full force of her headbutt, knocking him clear away, since he'd already unlocked his knees from her.
He hits the ground, then roars again, flipping in the air and releasing a wave of heat. It's nothing harmful at Isahane's range, making it more likely a recovery technique, removing the ice from his hair. "You're good," is the first intelligible thing he says, followed by, "Now..."
His attention is taken off to the side first by the sight of an enormous wolf locking its jaws onto the neck of the oni that had been on the throne, his shield pinned underneath him, the endless drinking gourd somehow still clutched in one hand like it was his own life. It's then taken again from the appearance of the blue oni, who had been nowhere in sight a moment ago, grabbing him around the waist.
"Wait, you idiot! I can still fight--!" But she's already leaving a whirlwind in her wake as she speeds away so quickly it could almost have been teleportation. Almost.
She'd yielded to temptation, in the end. And he was the only one she could take with her. Their former boss wouldn't have fit in her arms, which is just his bad luck.
|Hiromi||Once the javelins are thrown and Staren puts down smoke screens, the chance of being hit like that again will only come about if she's careless, at least from this particular group, and it's one of the last to be putting up anything like 'organized' resistance to the removal of oni from the city. By now, the last humans are getting into shelter, and someone will have to explain what's going on to them if only to prevent them from panicking should Seilatiya, their beautiful, majestic, and divinely lovable savior, suddenly leave.|
|Persephone Kore|| If one judged solely by its body language, one could be forgiven for mistaking the Queen in Veils itself for a living thing. It perks up as the blue oni prepares her finishing move, staring down at her tensed posture with almost childlike fascination. "You still want to fight? Ahaha. You really are amazing!"
Only her telekinetic strength stabilizing it prevents it from reeling backwards at the decapitating strike. The blue oni's sword bites deep into the Queen's neck, severing elegantly-jointed connections and slicing through plastic and metal alike.
If the Queen were a living thing, that might well have killed it. But it's not, ahaha! It's really just a toy. Now, where'd you go...? It takes Persephone a moment to re-acquire the feeling of the blue oni's heart, and then only briefly before it (and the red oni's) disappear again. Following that brief feeling, she leaps down into the throne room.
"Aw. I can't believe she got away! Ahaha, I'm sorry, Hiromi. I don't think I'm any good at this game." Slowly, the evidence of the Queen's fight heals over, joints re-articulating themselves into shapes only subtly different from how they were before.
A small piece of rubble falls down from the still-gaping hole in the ceiling, bonking off the Queen's halo. It looks up at the damage. Conciliatory: "Seilatiya told me she could fix it."
|Hiromi|| 'Haiki.' That had been his name, though it hardly matters now. There'd been no elegant moment of introductions between them. Hiromi hadn't gone easy on him, nor vice versa. Her wounds quickly heal only after the fight is over, as if she only then could be bothered to pay attention to them. Even so, the blood remains. She resumes her humanoid form, mostly to take this chance to lift up the gourd, and pour that incredibly strong liquor directly down her throat.
This is not a recommended course of action for mortals, but if you're immortal, it can't kill you.
Hiromi responds to Persephone's admission by holding out the gourd. "Want some? It's good." She doesn't seem bothered by the state of the place. "Did you have fun?" is a single not-word, carrying enough layered concepts and implication to form an image of a child returning from a game being assured that the result wasn't the important part, but what was learned in the process of it.
There are still, as of this moment, a lot of oni around. And as has been demonstrated, they're a tough and stubborn lot, even if the strongest three have been taken out.
|Undivided Queens|| Isahane kips upright with far more agility than triple digit kilos of armour should allow, wiping something from her lips with an armoured thumb. "Not bad yourself. But I'm not done 'till I've had a taste, yeah?" What she means by that, however, shall be lost to the winds, as the Blue Oni shows up in a split second to steal her companion away. Isahane is fast, but not *that* fast. She can only cry out "Hey--! *Bitch!*" and grab thin air, then get really annoyed, stomp over to the gourd-river, grab up a big old clay dish, scoop some up, and begin chugging to assuage it. Then, she *demands*, over her radio, that Seilatiya 'copy down' the booze.
Seilatiya, however, is finishing up with her master stroke. Humming to herself with the exact cadence of some STEM lab's airheaded rockstar, she tippy taps away on the Holy Runecipher in a way that would put a Hollywood hacker to shame, rotating the floating orb and rearranging its golden metallic petals with conductor-esque gestures of her fingers.
What rises from the building, piece by piece, elegant red arch by elegant golden post, is something like a sort of ornamental power, tiered off like a pagoda, but not enclosed in any way meant to store anything, only filled with spiral stairs leading up to a sheltered watch post, where something glows brightly, but softly, like a lighthouse mirror, 'plugged into' numerous geometric stones at the octagonal roof corners by some sort of glittery wire, and accompanied with a single wooden lectern upon which sits a blank scroll recessed into a fitted opening. It seems like she forms each element of it individually, rather than voxelizing all of it at once, because she then has to walk up the steps, summon a quill pen to hand, and then begin writing on her blank page.
Not unlike her previous means of calling over the human survivors, the higher, brighter, steadier tower light conveys a sort of opposite sense; humans are to come here, but oni are to stay away! This is a blessed, holy, perfect city! Everyone is safe here, so no invasions or roughhousing! The somewhat lackadaisical commandments she elegantly doodles onto the page are broadcast in the light itself, strongest up close, but even from far away, off the plateau, the glimmer of it should convey the supernaturally compelling idea that only those blessed by Seilatiya li Gelentia can step foot in this hallowed place, you know? It lacks the kind of terrifyingly commanding presence of Hiromi's howlspeak, but though it is gentle, it carries an immense weight of unquestionable, divine authority, and invokes intensely negative feelings in those targeted, of the kind that kill enthusiasm and drown anger.
|Hiromi||And so, Seilatiya's latest masterpiece robs Isahane of even the chance to cool off by throwing around the fifteen-foot-plus oni, as the fight simply goes out of them. They've had their boss taken out, the right and left hand of their group are nowhere to be found, and someone's taken the source of the booze, who will share, but not with them. This party just isn't going to be any fun, after all that. Not without the roughhousing.|
|Persephone Kore|| Persephone dematerializes the Queen in Veils with a shimmer of light, leaving herself floating in the air at approximately cockpit-height. She takes the gourd gracefully (even though it 'ought' to be too unwieldy for her to hold) and guzzles an amount of the stuff nearly equal to Isahane's portion, sunnily beaming at the end. "Whoa, that's amazing!! You know, I'd barely tried alcohol before a week ago? And this is definitely, absolutely the best yet."
She is, in fact, immortal! But also just generally incautious.
Did she have fun? "I really didn't at first! But then I met someone really cool, and I think we had fun together." It's transparently obvious that the enjoyment Persephone derives from her personal brand of "fighting" is wildly different from predatory glee or fight-idiot adrenaline. Everyone out here is so special! Even the people who are kind of awful. Can you really blame me for being dazzled like this?
Eventually, she floats back up out of the hole in the roof and spends a while just starry-eyed marveling at Seilatiya's accomplishments from the rooftop. If the Queen is visible from where she sits, she can even give her friend a wave! Incidentally, and surely unrelated to her presence, any oni she can see from her lofty perch are dismissively picked up and harmlessly flicked into the far distance, 'star KO' style.
|Staren|| Staren stops by Seilatiya, not looking at her because she's looking for the oni, swinging her arm to aim at shadows with the beam cannons on her right bracer and trying to gauge the status of invisible armor and whether it's worth spending some of her remaining PPE through the (considerably mana-efficiency-optimized) enchantments on her coat to refresh it.
So, whatever Seilatiya is doing is far from her mind when suddenly that light house raises up and she turns and looks and
"What the fuck is that?!" Eyes wide, she holds her hands to her head as if to block out the influence. Of course, she's been around the Queen and Persephone before, and is at least somewhat accustomed to the effect of the former's words and the latter's presense, but... Maybe it's that she's a bit worn out emotionally, maybe it's that she just went from a fight to this, maybe that it's constant, specific imperatives not limited to when Seilatiya is speaking, maybe it's that it's coming from an artifact instead of an ally themself, maybe it's just Too Much Messing With Her Head Today, but she's suddenly uncomfortable at the idea.
Although after a moment, she calms down a *little*, still uneasy but recognizing that it doesn't seem like this additional avenue of mental influence is going to try to get her to do anything bad, at least. Still, she tries to see if it relies on vision, or line-of-sight, or anything like that, she'd feel a little better relaxing if there's an easy way to block it out.