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|Brooklynn Bailey||The Table
In Brook's home, a dining room table that had been created from two other dining room tables and held together by less than expert repair holds a map on it. Brook points at the map, showing Kings (where you are now) and Staten, where the target laid. Around the target were drawings of makeshift housing.
"Here is where he sits, the center of the camp on a hill overlooking their set up. They don't do walls, believe in survival of the fittest, and usually, it works for them. Being in this area usually causes the madness to start, meaning it's next to impossible to mount an offense with regulars."
Brook grins, "Except where we are concerned. I will have a group of my warriors perform a raid..." she points towards the south side of the map, farthest away from the hill and an obvious blind spot. "I will also give you the same protection they will have. We won't need to worry about falling to any battle lust."
The hill itself was covered in open bond fires. The flames making the hill excessively hot, but at the same time making sure that darkness doesn't block sight. The feint had at least gotten the target's attention, Death Winter, a balding slightly overweight man covered in scars and without a shirt moving out of his tent.
Brook wastes no time, leaping through the flames and towards the man. She points the spear at him, as she makes her challenge. "Death Winter, you know who I am. My Allies and I are here to take you to answer for your crimes against Kings and to make you stand in punishment for them. Will you come quietly, or will you be dragged kicking and screaming towards your fate?"
The balding man makes a face and laughs. "You haven't killed me yet girly," he says in a very VERY thick accent, he says, grabbing a large bat with nails beaten into the top, "You ain't going to do it now. And when you get drivin' back I'm going to go on another slave raid into your pathetic home."
He licks his lips, "After all, the boys and I gotta eat. We gotta enjoy ourselves with the cuties," he says, getting ready to fight the group of you off.
|Hiromi|| Before the fight:
The impression of Hiromi is even greater indoors, as if she barely fits within a home with knees bent and forward-hunched, the beast ready to uncoil and spring forward without warning. Her presence fills more space than she does. There's something undeniably wrong about it, if potentially difficult to pin down. No matter how makeshift an operations camp, an enormous wolf shouldn't be found in a dining room, and yet, here she is.
She looks at the map, analyzing the defensive position, hearing the description of the opponent, and is cooperative enough to leverage her not-insignificant tactical ability to point out, "Here, I would order defenses, and them, cover from here. Walls? Earthworks? If map is old, look for them here. This space, little cover for sitting guards, better if patrolled. Eyesight from here. And here, underground levels, entrances good for watching. You see?"
But that doesn't extend to all things. "Their leader, you'll take him. That's your goal, yes? Then you might fight alone. Prove your strength. Others, only this, will give: opportunity. You're understanding, yes?"
As promised, Kukuru's brought snacks! After appearing on Brooklynn's roof shortly before the designated time, she takes some time to set several plastic containers around the map and any other clear surfaces: Individually wrapped cookies (2 per pack), sauteed meat cubes (4 per pack), and frozen cheesecake cubes (2 per pack).
"If he's that defended, then... Hmn. Sneaking in and grabbing him while he's asleep probably won't work, then. That means..." She taps her chin lightly while huddling over the map. "We'll want him and his troops separated, mhm. So... Yeah, I've got an idea for that." She draws one finger between a spot slightly south of the camp and north of the southern ambush side.
"I'm gonna dig a hole. If they've got underground stuff like Hiromi said, then it should be a little faster." She suggests while taking a sip of water from a cheap bottle. She nods knowingly at Hiromi, all while not quite knowing if she actually caught the Archwolf's drift that time.
Indeed, Kukuru's true to her words when she says she's going to dig a hole of sorts, claws worn on each hand as she gets to work like some kind of sapient excavator. Apparently, she forgot what the word 'trench' is, as that's what she's actually digging out as Brooklynn approaches the balding leader of...
"Who's... Uh. Who is he the leader of again? Um. It's good that they're open-minded about who they'll accept as a leader, but..." Kukuru's clearly fishing for some polite way of addressing Death Winter's general physical state, but she's not really finding one. "Are they really gonna be useful to you, Brook?" She gives up on that moments later, turning her attention back to digging out a massive trench that's more like a miniature moat with how deep and wide she's going. Any underground rooms are simply shortcuts to digging out that trench deep enough with irregular overhangs to make it considerably more difficult to try climbing out of.
Kukuru also completely forgets to address Death Winter directly at all. Or is that snub some kind of gambit in itself?
|Hiromi|| That night:
Hiromi doesn't charge out and announce herself. That is, as she said, something for Brooklynn to do. She has no intention of interfering in that fight, even as a distraction. That saves her attention for 'everything else,' starting from ensuring that the other fighters Brooklynn directed toward the feint know of all her tactical warnings, overly cautious and overestimating her opponents as some of those guesses may be, and ending with directing her own, stealthy attacks in from the opposite side.
Kukuru's tactic is one of which Hiromi approves and, in the vaguest sense, copies. But rather than digging a tunnel to travel through, herself, the first sign of Hiromi being on the field is when sections of earth fall away at the edges of buildings, resulting in controlled demolition, wrecking walls with minimal risk to anyone inside who's paying attention and cautious enough to get out before it gets worse.
She can still knock down the people, afterward. Removing their places to hide, or from which to attack, comes first. Conversely, Hiromi doesn't need 'buildings' to create hiding spots.
|Persephone Kore|| Persephone is utterly out of place in a ramshackle post-apocalypse. Her clothes are stylish and designed without any consciousness of practicality, her hair is perpetually perfect, and there isn't a single chip on her painted fingernails.
Throughout the meeting, a crayon telekinetically scribbles in details, making the map look substantially prettier.
"Hold on," she says. "What causes 'the madness'? What does it do to someone's heart? That could be important; you can't just gloss over it."
On the topic of actual tactics, though, she's completely silent. The cheerful, rapt look on her face while they're being discussed hints that she's regarding it as a game.
Before they head out, she shares a fragment of her identity-based regeneration with Brooklynn's salient troops. I'm sure Brook already gave them something, but you can't be too safe!
The Psi-Responsive Alter-Ego: Queen in Veils steps over a hill, emerging into the firelight: a doll built in the likeness of a fanciful god. At three stories of elegant white plastic and steel, it is somehow less overwhelmingly 'real' than Persephone herself; a toy robot for toy fights.
Only she could make that feel like the gloves are on.
A lush, flowering meadow spreads out in an aura around the Queen in Veils, Phony's mindscape turned inside-out and imposed upon the world. It's left behind as a hundred-foot-wide wake that brightly mars the wasteland- perhaps in years to come those flowers will spread, bringing a foreign beauty to this place.
For opponents, Persephone's presence is corrosive to the will to fight. To take up arms against an ominously vast gentleness like hers is to tempt fate; to not simply surrender to a warmth like hers is a difficult act of will. Lesser foes could crumble outright against that twin compulsion; greater ones find that it erodes their 'hit points' anyway, making it harder to justify why they want to keep going.
All that is passive. Actively, Persephone (via the Queen in Veils) cups her cheek with her hand, staring down at the uniquely unpleasant man who's made the poor life choice of opposing them. He's awful, I know. I'm not strong enough to hate anyone, but he's making it very easy to! ... How does someone become that awful? I can't imagine.
But she can ask. Tuning herself to the frequency of his narrative residue, Persephone sifts through pieces of his past.
"Why are you the way that you are?"
Staren's reused the loose-necked black turtleneck sweater from yesterday, though this time she's paired it with slimmer black pants and her usual brown boots, with what is presumably her labcoat still tied around her waist and round glasses completing... whatever this look is. The ponytail is tied right at the back of her head this time, with more ties every few inches to keep it from spreading out.
This shabby table just won't do! Given a moment for someone to lift the map off it, she sucks it into her matter manipulator and warps in a nice single-piece table of faux similar material. There, this won't collapse mid-planning-session! She'll do the same for chairs if anyone wants.
"No walls and 'survival of the fittest'... how have they lasted this long? Attrition should be taking them out before WE can." Staren considers the map, rubbing her chin with one hand. "Well, we COULD take them out before we get close with a sniper rifle or missiles..." And then she remembers who's here. "But..." she just can't imagine people dying on the same battlefield as Persephone. It feels wrong. There must be another way... "Maybe we could load the missiles with gas, instead? I've got some stuff that keeps you blinded and coughing... they won't be able to fight like that, but I don't know if Wrath's power will make them shake it off. Like last time, I can bring the robots and golems to occupy them, too..."
She nods at Hiromi and looks to Brooklyn. "That's right... do you need to be seen taking this guy down personally, or do you still get the credit if we help attack him directly?"
Since Persephone's here, by the end of the meeting Staren may end up in her lap getting her hair braided. It's just the kind of thing that happens around Persephone. It's that magnetic aura! Pulling people to her. As long as Staren keeps giving input to plans and talking like nothing unusual is going on it's still dignified, right? Right!
Staren's given anyone who needs them gas masks. After the challenge is given, Staren is catapulted out of the dark, hair and scarf trailing dramatically behind her as she makes a perfect superhero landing, unseen magic making sure she doesn't break her knee. "Wow, gross. ...Honestly, I can't think of a speech that would mean anything to you. But these words aren't for you."
Staren stands. Her labcoat is on, buttoned up above the waist with the 'skirt' part open in front hanging to her calves. The coat itself has some new modifications -- two black belts with buckles are on the left upper arm, and one on the right, entirely for looks, with a matching belt built into the coat hanging open at about thigh-level. There's a Concord Orange stripe around the waist, and leathery gloves on her hands, but just what type of glove, as well as the ends of her sleeves, are concealed by bulky metal-looking vambraces that must contain some kind of gizmos, although just what is unclear besides some Ominous Panels and holes that could be missile launch ports, or cooling vents, or just Looking Cool.
Staren holds her right arm across her body and then sweeps it forward to point imperiously at Death Winter. "I am Staren Wiremu, and together with my friends in the Concord, we're putting an end to your savage reign here and now!"
And then she pulls on goggles and a breathing mask as small missiles streak out of the sky to explode in clouds of choking, blinding gas around Death Winter's troops, robot snipers fire taser gel bullets at guards they can see, and a mix of metal golems and robots in riot gear surge out of the darkness behind her, ready to engage!
|Brooklynn Bailey||Kukuru digs through the earth, causing small cave-ins and buildings to collapse. This traps some people in holes and causes confusion in the ranks of the defenders. Other defenders try to get up only to lose their footing as the earth is loose in places, and while full collapse doesn't happen, it makes it harder for them to get their footing in.
Buildings collapse and Hiromi capitalizes on their structural weakening. She uses this to either force people outside, or for them to be trapped underneath the weight of their roofs. Some people are late, others are just in the nick of time, rolling out or hitting the ground. These are a perfect target for Hiromi to pounce and takedown.
Others forced out that aren't drawn to the forces to the north are exposed to Persephone's presence, which is just withering to them. The weakest-willed ones are already lowering their weapons. Others, who are obviously here against their will have already dropped their weapons. She asks an important question about his past.
You see a teenager at a computer, definitely post-high school. The day of the Iconoclasm was like any other. The only thing he noticed was that the traffic on the net got lower. He didn't care much about what the world was doing, because he felt spurned by the world. He was antisocial before, which he assumed was because he was smart, but was more because he was a foul person to be around.
The sort of 'nerd' that understands what they are doing, and tries to use it to be pitied into groups only to abuse friendships. He hated the world because he assumed it hated him in return. When the world went to hell, however, he used that hate for a new purpose.
Forcing people to be with him, to survive with him, to find new and increasing fucked up ways to use people for his own amusement. The power didn't change him, so much as it exposed what was already there.
Heroic speeches and not so deadly neurotoxin lands around the battlefield. People who were ready to fight go down as gel round hit their legs, arms, or whatever they can to stick them to the ground. The camp is in panic completely now, as Death Winter looks out over what the elites had done to his way of life.
He rumbles, before releasing a bellowing roar, and his features start to change. Horns out of his head, skin turning blood red as his face becomes even UGLIER. He swings the bat wildly at Brook, and she defends with her shield the best that she is able.
However, there is something else everyone will notice, and thankfully all of you are protected against. Anger fills those in the camp, uncontrolled wild rage starts to cause people to convulse and shake in fits of muscle spasms. Their eyes are covered in a red haze as they start to rise.
It doesn't matter who. Men, women, children...everyone grabs something. A weapon, a piece of debris, anything that could be a weapon and starts to swing wildly. Several falls on each of you, except for Brook who is already engaged with the leader. The team to the north is also suddenly under siege, having been forced into a turtle formation. They are shielding each other while using spears to strike out at those trying to get close to them.
Brook could only look at her allies once, a small nod given to them. They were here for her, and she wasn't about to give up their trust. She snaps back, using her shield to break the raging man, and aim to sweep him from his feet.
|Kukuru||"Huh. That's kinda sad." Kukuru comments idly as she rips more dirt out of the ground, breaking into a room by sheer dumb luck. Spotting someone's personal effects, she takes a moment to set them aside away from that growing trench, then gets right back to work. There's still plenty of digging to be done, but that doesn't mean she has to (purposely) destroy people's homes or private hidey holes!
Doing it by accident in her haste to keep them all separated from the camp, however, is totally fine. She's not too surprised when Death Winter's madness infuses the camp members with a murderous bloodlust, and she does what she can under the circumstances to subdue them instead of just resorting to maximum violence.
Unfortunately for them, that does involve a lot of people-hurling. "Hey. Cut it out. We're not your enemy. We're here to help all of you." She says both verbally and directly into their minds, trying to coax them out of their rageahol-fueled attacks even as she weathers their strikes and slashes by getting right in their faces, bruises and cuts not doing much in the face of her nanites closing up her wounds before they have time to bleed. If they actually settle down with that bit of mental influence, they get gentle pats on the head and nudged to get out of harm's way. If they don't settle down, however...
"Sorry. I'll fix you later." She grabs them by the whatever (she doesn't really need to care) and promptly starts hurling them out of her trench. She's flinging them at the optimal 45 degree angle for maximum distance, of course, which may result in some broken bones and/or concussions considering that she's also doing it with the power of a bear that has the power of three bears.
Afterwards, it's back to digging! She's moving with even more haste than before, too, intent on getting through her part of the work quickly and practically flinging the earth out of her way as she carves right through it all. <<"Are you all okay over there? Anyone need a hand or healing or whatever? Brooklynn, do you need a towel for the... Um. Is he sweaty and gross?">>
|Hiromi|| Hiromi doesn't take a gas mask, but it's a fair guess that she doesn't need one. The mystery is only in whether it's because she's 'stronger than poison' or 'stronger than the need to breathe.' (It's both.) Just as she's unaffected by the space-filling anger, the damaging rage that afflicts the camp, so does she sprint through clouds, fire, and her opponents.
<Tac-Concord> 4 Brooklynn Bailey says, "Also, we should try to not hurt the people as much as is possible."
<Tac-Concord> 4 Kukuru yawns "But if someone does get hurt... Don't worry too much. I can fix them later."
Taken together, Hiromi sees that there isn't a great need to hold back, weak though the bodies of her opponents may be. For that matter, she's curious to see what Kukuru can manage, in the way of healing, just as she anticipates the success of Brooklynn. It's a tingling feeling just below the tips of her claws.
To say that they're weak doesn't mean that they aren't also dangerous. Those are wholly different traits. Weathering their strikes, rather than avoiding them, affords Hiromi the opportunity to grab one one of them after another, whether man, woman or child, lifted by head or throat and slammed into the earth, shaking and rattling with each impact. These are followed up by speech part whispers to the ear and part deep-throated growl. If it were in words, it would mean, Fools order the impossible. Nothing is owed to fools.
No armor adorns her, but it's steel that bends when struck too hard against her body. She tolerates that long enough to break the bonds of authority, the notion of group-belonging to those of this camp and under that leader, and let each of her victims rise again, no less affected by rage, but far more likely to oppose than support a leader who would set them against such impossible odds as are entailed in, for example, 'fighting Hiromi.'
|Staren|| She looked impressive, at least for a moment, right?
Rock may not beat laser, but Staren's holding back and boy, is it an angry rock. People Staren thought she'd put down for the count get up and beat the crap out of her forces! Robots, holding back from attacking lethally, are smashed, some failing completely, others having an arm or leg crippled. Their hulls try to shock the assailants, but does that even do anything to people in this state?
Staren finds herself surrounded by people with RAEG STRENGTH -- she warps a pneumatic cannon-looking thing into her hands and traps a few of them in nets of sticky glowing blue-white magic, but she still ends up swarmed. It sounds like they're hitting muffled metal, but whatever magic defense is protecting her can only take so much, and a particularly large man with a big piece of pipe catches her in the gut, knocking the wind out of her. People swarm over Staren... And then motes of energy start to appear near the pile of violence and float towards it...
· CAUTION!! · · CAUTION!! · · CAUTION!! · · CAUTION!! · · CAUTION!! ·
Explosion Sign "Micro Flare"
The area around Staren gets very hot. Oppressively hot! As five miniature suns 5' across form and circle around Staren. Danmaku aren't immediately lethal, right? Hopefully, the heat of the suns is enough to make the people swarming Staren pass out from heatstroke with bodies unable to fight, without outright killing them... and as long as Staren lets the 'suns' move on and dissipate, they won't be subjected to more once knocked out!
Either way, Staren takes to the air now, hair, scarf, and dirty, slightly-torn coat fluttering dramatically in magical wind, and flits from place to place over different areas of the battlefield. She raises her right arm, covered by something attached to her vambrace that's shaped like Utsuho's control rod, covered in wires and bits of jade and other gems, obviously a lab prototype, gathering energy and repeating the attack to more aggressively (but hopefully nonlethally!) take more of Wrath's followers out of the fight! Released in the air, the sun-projectiles fly downward in erratic, wobbling paths, making them difficult purposefully avoid until they slowly shrink into nothingness.
|Persephone Kore|| So he was always just... bad inside? I still don't understand at all. He's caused so much pain to other people, I know there's no excuse. But there still has to be a reason, right? He's a person, not a fairytale monster.
Sapient Heuristics raised us all perfectly, and none of us turned out bad like that. If we made a world without want or pain... I have to believe nobody would be evil in it! So having a bad heart from the very beginning is something I can't allow.
Phony is snapped out of her idle contemplation by people banging on the Queen in Veils' legs with improvised weapons. No matter how strong they are, their makeshift weapons tend to break before scratching its white chassis! Where they do inflict damage, I decide that's not the way it ought to be, and the scratches are simply smoothed over as material reality yields to Phony's image.
These poor people. These feelings aren't your own, are they? Me and Hiromi can fix you later. But for now, I promise: no hard feelings.
She reaches down and gently headpats one of the murderous children with a massive fingertip, then carefully steps over them and walks towards the north- as long as they're trying to attack her, everything's okay!
But those people fighting Brooklynn's friends- they're going to be stabbed if I don't help them first!
When Kukuru bodily flings one of the combatants out of the aura, Persephone ensures a gentle landing, and then- if their murderous urges really have subsided- a brief telekinetic hug, just to reassure them that everything's alright. If they haven't stopped being rambunctious, though, what happens to them is the same as what happens to the North group:
I want them to *stop*.
A spiral galaxy's worth of mass pushes down on each of them from above with an impossible gentleness, forcing them flat against the ground. Impossibly, a psycho-gravitational force that ought to crush their bones to diamonds is utterly nonlethal instead, leaving not even bruises- but trying to do anything more than breathe is pointless. Persephone, and the world, will not let them lift a finger.
The Queen in Veils gives a friendly little wave to the formation of Brooklynn's soldiers. "You're doing amazing! Hope that helps!"
|I4||The people surrounding Kukuru don't respond with anything intelligible. Madness is a good description of what's going on, anger is one thing, but this is a boundless rage against everything 'not them', and directed. However, it does make them stronger but does not make them tougher beyond being able to ignore pain. That does not help them against Kukuru's own strength, as they are tossed out of the trench.
<<"I'm alright, and if...no when I survive this, I'll probably need a bath. This guy is pretty slimy.">>
Hiromi shows not an ounce of mercy against those who come at her. It doesn't matter who they are, or where they came from. People are torn apart as she tears into their faces. Sinks her jaws into their throats. More than a few lose a limb as she tosses them to the side as casually as she breathes. Though they swing back, and those who aren't critically injured rise back up to swing again.
Staren's release of MICROFIBER FLARE bursts across the people around her. People unable to cope with the sudden oppressive heat, sun burd, radiation searing, and other complications from being exposed to the suns go down. There is a sizzling that follows, and the smell of unidentifiable burning meat. It was a powerful area deniable tool, and even as the suns fade, it blinds far more people.
People that go flying out of Kukuru's tunnel are being caught and set down. They, however, do not settle down and are quickly caught under the weight of galaxy-sized potential. Those fighting Brook's forces too, feel the massive weight of Persephone's <love> and are forced down. Many struggle against their impossible bounds, fruitlessly.
A smaller young man is left home alone.
With nothing to do, he watches TV. With nothing to do he reads books. With nothing to do he gets curious about the animals that occasionally invade his apartment.
Boyish curiosity turns into childish cruelty. Bugs who have their legs pulled off. Mice are being cut carefully. People ignore him, people forget about him. The people who pay for him to have a roof over his head, and food in his belly are never around.
They can not afford others to care for him in their stead. Teachers who are overworked with other students can't devote time to him. To the young boy, who slowly grows into a young man...others become so transient that it becomes a sick game. This game, in return, leaves him isolated.
But now..? Now they have to play by his rules.
More people run into the fight. Growling, snapping, seething in rage. However, this time, the greasy man who has taken on the aspects of a devil changes even more. The bat is dropped, as his fingers grow too thick to wield it, and claws form. His feet become cloven, and twist into a strange retrograde stance, with sickening sounds.
Once more, Brook collides with him. Her own features changing as magic flows through her. Her face becoming less human, more...angelic in an inhuman way. She hates this part about herself and is almost always embarrassed when she starts to show her nature. The claws tear down at Brook, but this time they do more than strike at her. The bloody claws tear through the earth, impaling each active member of his force still up.
They too, start to change. Claws growing from their hands, and their eyes becoming more red, far wilder, and teeth growing out to reflect their bestial natures. Now they bite if they can grab holes, teeth, and claws able to tear through harder metals.
Bouncing back from the attack, Brook spins and throws her spear at the center of the mass of the beast. The spears grow in number, flaming as they try and hit Death Winter in the center of mass.
|Kukuru||<Tac-Concord>  Staren the grunt of someone having the wind knocked out of them. Then, a simulated voice: "Change in plans, I'm gonna use this instead!"
<Tac-Concord>  Kukuru says, "Hm? Use what n-OH. Oh, looking at that kinda hurts."
With all the wisdom of someone that's not particularly wise, Kukuru decides to look over in Staren's general direction right about when the sun rises five times in a row. Or is it all at once? She can't really tell considering that it's so freaking bright, burning her eyes briefly until she looks away. She has to take some time to blink away the suck, but at least she can still comprehend what's going on elsewhere through CONTEXT CLUES.
Namely, smelling more blood and burning flesh in the air. Although it'd be easy to assume that the former's the result of her hurling people away, it's spreading too quickly for that to be the case. Also, she sees them distinctly not hitting the ground with painful-looking crunches thanks to Persephone's life-saving efforts and also pinning them down under her meaty telekinetic girth, so the only possibility is...
Hiromi and Staren trusting in her abilities! Instead of scolding either one of them for (technically) creating more work for her later through maiming and burning, she just hums pleasantly right until she gets bashed in the face with a meaty claw. Before those teeth can sink down into her neck, however, she forces a claw up into the offending person's face.
"This brings me back... Ah, but you're not like the ones back home. You don't know what you're doing." She frowns slightly, closing her claws around that person's legs with the other massive claw even as more of Death Winter's conscripts start swarming on her position. "Guess I'll have to work faster, then. Don't worry... I'll fix you all up later."
She closes her claws around those legs, then punts them away before sprinting towards the oncoming group. She dips downwards at the last moment, swinging one claw forward to take all of them off their feet or, alternatively, take off all of their feet with a combination of ludicrously big claws and freakish strength. She's confident in her ability to put them back on later, anyway, so it'll be fine.
|Hiromi|| It's only when they transform that Hiromi refocuses her attention on the newly demonic form of Death Winter. The empowered soldier-villagers tear at her, clawing, biting her limbs, as if attempting to eat her alive. She bleeds, and there is power in blood. Left alone, with this much strength, they'll tear her apart. Although, that wouldn't be enough to break her.
If it were easier, she'd have been tempted to fight Brooklynn's opponent. And that just wouldn't be right. Better that she bleed here, feel them reaching for her bones, climbing to drag her down, to understand them. "I've felt your strength, now."
Mucsles knit together, skin regrows, but spilled bleed remains where it's fallen. Rousing from her reflection, Hiromi informs those surrounding her, in those not-words that cannot be misunderstood, "Take the flesh of the Archwolf, and fight for my Pack."
There's power in her blood, and accepting the transfer of it to those crowding her floods them with her strength of body and will -- at the price of obeying her authority. Her gifts are hers to demand returned, and that process would not be pleasant.
|Staren|| Honestly, Staren feels kinda awesome here. Getting beat on sucked (at least she barely felt it aside from that gut shot thanks to Armor of Ithan), but Persephone says she looks cool, and she can /see/ how she looks now from drone cameras: Flying over the battlefield, dropping flashy attacks from on high, parts of her outfit and hair billowing dramatically in the wind (Fly as the Eagle doesn't actually do that on its own, but building another spell into her coat for looks was well worth it! The spirit of Hype Drives lives on!) The changes to the coat do look better, providing a bit more visual detail and keeping the sleeves closer to her arms. It's hard to tell if the pants are working in these lighting conditions. Boots could look more dramatic, these are comfortable but look too sneaker-y. Damn the goggles look cool with the suns glinting off them, though! The tail/braid was a good idea, getting loose hair to billow dramatically without ending up in your face is difficult. Do other people have special magic for that?
The smell of burning meat brings her out of her thoughts. Oh no, it wasn't supposed to do that! She covers her mouth in horror... and wrath bubbles up in her, aimed at, well, Wrath himself. It is slightly cooled by sensors confirming the burned people are still alive.
She turns from her distraction and SUDDENLY CLAW! Focusing on the fallen, she wasn't paying attention to his position! Staren lets out an embarassingly high-pitched squeal of surprise as the claws catch on the armor-like magic and then tear through it, slowed but not stopped to merely cut along her right leg (and shred the pant leg/boot), rather than messily maiming her.
Gritting her teeth in pain, Staren takes a moment to fly further away while struggling with her leg, fumbling somewhat embarassingly with only her left hand free, ditching the boot and sock and getting it free through one of the tears in her pant so she can apply futuristic bandages to staunch the bleeding and prevent infection.
Then she flies back, still kind of mad, blue-white energy flashing over her as she renews protections, and hovers directly over the clashing vice and virtue. "ENOUGH!" However, she hasn't actually had time to come up with another special attack, so for now she just flings another set of miniature suns down, reaches into her bag, and pulls out--
Oh right. Mock control rod. How does Utsuho deal with that ALL THE TIME? Staren reaches into her bag awkwardly with her left hand and draws a high-tech, boxy-looking pistol. Fortunately she doesn't need to aim -- four trigger pulls send four little pen-sized gyrojets down to home in on Wrath, explosive tips trying to soften his skin for the incendiary penetrators behind!
Damn, that's gotta hurt like the dickens, but will it actually slow him down at all...?
|Persephone Kore|| The Queen in Veils clasps its hands together in an immaculate imitation of Persephone's body language, obviously adoring. "You're doing amazing, Brook! Just keep it up a little longer!"
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little worried for her. No matter what Hiromi says, if this starts going badly, I'll protect her. But for now, I have to have faith she'll pull through!
Persephone's pressure keeps the suppressed combatants pinned to the ground as long as I don't forget about them!, and she casually turns that effect on other combatants nearby, leaving a trail of subdued and writhing people in her path.
Please stay put, okay? I promise this will be over soon!
That isn't the only thing in her wake, though. The Queen in Veils' terraforming aura widens, overwriting the terrain with something more to her liking. A peaceful river flows through the middle of the camp, carrying clear fresh water; heavy-boughed fruit trees and generous berry-bushes spring up, remodeling it into something that could be mistaken for the Garden of Eden; picturesque mossy boulders provide more substantial shade and break up the greenery.
Wholly by coincidence, these are also tactically beneficial fixtures, favoring small numbers of elite combatants over a maddened crush of bodies. How convenient!
|Brooklynn Bailey||Kukuru's giant YAOI HANDS reaches out to touch some people, and by touch I mean claw, and by people I mean this currently crazy rage-filled demon-looking group of people. These brother truckers are tossed aside, clawed through, or mauled with next to no mercy. Well, mercy is shared, but the kind of mercy that requires a clueless kid to skin their knee first. Of course, this is a bit more brutal than a skinned knee.
Hiromi on the other hand is uncharacteristically gentle, letting them get their mouths full of her blood, tasting of her flesh. The wounds will soon disappear, but before they could go for more Hiromi calls to her blood. The people on her all drop off at once as their eyes glow in her light. The transformations are rejected, causing them some pain as they reverse, but the madness leaves them as well. This causes the people around her to turn around and fight against more fighters that come to try and bite her.
They are tougher than before, but with their wits and their new deity's blessing, they are much more clever in tactics, working as a group to be an effective murder pack with each other. The tide is turning.
Shots are fired at the headman himself, but savage bodyguards jump up at the blasts, protecting their leader from them. They fall, but two more leaps off their fallen brethren to try and latch onto Staren and drag him down into a group of more angry demon people. Their only goal is to try and consume Staren, science and all!
The TERRAFORMING aura sprouts trees out of the ground, a river is sent through the camp. More of the area is changed from how they know it and everything changes. The new flora grows underneath some, causing them to get uprooted and knocked flat. Others are caught up in the river and are too frenzied to get back up. More are still rooted flat.
The wound on Winter himself is burning, sizzling from where Brook struck him. Now several wings are visible, a light glowing aura radiating from her as her inhuman face and larger body looks down at the demonic creature who continues to fight against her. He positively looks inhuman, grinning as he faces Brook down, though he is seemingly losing.
However, viciously he rams his claws into himself, and draws them out, coating them in blood? Those transformed all slump over as if hit by the claws. Blood starts leaking out of them and flowing towards Wrath. They're still fighting, but it seems his aim is to draw the borrowed strength back. He's sacrificing them to become even stronger to fight Brook back, but it's going to take time.
Those under the effects of the madness need to be taken down as soon as possible or be sacrificed.
|Kukuru||Things are turning around. Or, rather, were they ever going in any direction other than forward for the Concord? It certainly doesn't look to Kukuru like Death Winter is aware of it, as he continues directing his followers towards getting themselves horribly maimed and even stealing their blood for his own purposes.
".. Man. He really doesn't know when to quit, who? This is just gonna make him look dumber." She comments to nobody nearby, once again realizing that she's mostly surrounded by madness-crazed headbiters that still manage to tear off bits and pieces of her even as she keeps healing those wounds over. It's still taking quite a toll on her energy reserves and her clothes, though, and ending the fight sooner rather than later is sounding better by the moment as she swings another person into the dirt by the leg.
<<"He's on his last legs. Come on, let's finish this up so... So...">> Kukuru pauses, then lets out a quiet whining noise. <<"... I can't even sleep after this, can I? There's still all these people to fix after the fighting's done.">>
That's definitely going to take some of the wind out of her sails. Still, she's going to have to grin and bear it (figuratively) (because she's not grinning at all) as people start keeling over with all their blood starting to flow towards Death Winter. Instead of slamming them around haphazardly or trying to dig that trench, she opts instead to start moving goalposts
More specifically, she's grabbing people and tossing them into the deeper part of the trench, ideally making it harder for the blood to reach Death Winter through the interference of solid ground in the way. To make matters worse for him, she's also raising the walls of the trench. It's little more than a haphazard hurling of the earth upwards to intercept the blood with giant fistfuls of the ground, but blocking the blood seems to be the easiest way for her to intercept Death Winter's... Whatever he's doing without getting her hands on him directly.
|Staren|| Staren looks horrified when Wrath's followers JUMP IN FRONT OF THE GYROJETS! They don't go off on the wrong target, but probably still hit hard enough to lodge in flesh. And to make matters worse, they're climbing over eachother and reaching up to grab her! OH NO! OH HELL NO! Getting grabbed NEVER ends well for Staren! She tries to pull away, a chain of people hanging from her legs limiting her movement but not enough to pull her down to the ground! The pain of them pulling her hurt leg makes her suck air in through her teeth.
Even partially restrained movement is bad though! Staren warps in a shotgun with beanbag rounds... and then realizes she can't properly use it one-handed and starts beating her assailants around the arms and head with the barrel. More miniature suns appear around her, trying to heat-exhaust them into letting go!
And then they let go, rather suddenly. He's... killing his followers?! Damn it, he has to be stopped now! Staren sends commands, but loses her cool. "You MONSTER! Those people DEPENDED on you, and you're USING them!"
Unfortunately, words won't do much of anything here, will they?
Fortunately, robots do NOT lose their cool, executing Staren's commands with perfect, mechanical precision. The snipers stationed earlier haven't moved from their positions. Now, they take action, loading new ammo into their weapons and taking aim while Staren is berating Winter. In perfect sync, they all fire at once on him, .50 caliber rounds with miniature plasma-explosive tips.
Between this and what everyone else is doing Staren isn't sure he'll survive, but Kukuru can put him back together for his execution, right?
|Hiromi|| Hiromi lets loose these forceful additions to her Pack, those who have shared blood with her. While so empowered, even demonic claws will have difficulty piercing them, though they'll still need to fight with all the cleverness they can muster. Humans are clever animals, she's found, so they should be fine. She leaps away.
"Thieving," she pronounces this last move. Stealing the strength of others, rather than using. Stealing from his own pack.
"Desperate." That much is obvious. If he fights like this, then...
"No pack left to lead." A victory in a fight for control that destroys what was fought over is exactly the kind of rank foolishness she's come to expect from those most broken examples of a mal-raised species. She had wanted to allow for things to be done the right way, to show the proper path, that others could follow this example. A fight by principle. And yet...
"Unfit." He cannot be called a leader, if he has sacrificed that which he would lead. There is no need to extend such courtesy. She'll allow, then, just one finger of interference.
Hiromi is behind Death Winter in a flash, the place she'd been a cloud of debris from her liftoff. She strikes with her fist, her littlest finger extended. Its claw is small, sharp and hard, but it's the force behind the blow that will ensure it sinks in the full length, a precise stab, before the full blow sends sends her target flying away from her, and into Brooklynn's path of attack, face-first.
|Persephone Kore|| All the stolen blood halts in its journey towards Wrath, then flows upwards and into an woven wreath that orbits around Persephone instead, each individual person's hemorrhage forming a distinct and separate thread. It's like a planetary ring, but threaded in chiral patterns.
"That really isn't cute of you," she says, addressing Wrath for the first time- even if only rhetorically. Even now, even towards someone as repulsive as him, she can't sound angry. Reproachful and frustrated, maybe. "I think these people have suffered too much already."
"You're not allowed to hurt them any more. I won't let you."
Her elaborate wreath unweaves itself thread by thread, and each individual ribbon of blood finds its way back to its unwilling donor, pouring back into whatever wounds they had been shed from. Reinvigorating them is perhaps not the best idea, but it's better than letting them die, isn't it? Besides, I can just hold them down like the others.
Brooklynn very nearly has this, but I feel like a bad friend for not helping her at all. Hiromi had said we'd only give her 'opportunity', right? I have an idea for how to do that.
A gentle, yet insistent telekinetic force finds the sizzling wound on Wrath's chest and holds its edges open, making it a slightly larger target. Subtle psycho-gravitational eddies hold Brooklynn's spear steady, giving her the greatest chance of a clean shot at his vitals.
Right there, Brook. That wound. You can do it!
|Brooklynn Bailey||Kukuru does her best, shielding people who want her blood more than anything, throwing them into the ground while Brook's forces move to intercept blows for Kukuru, aiming to help her get people down. Either knocked out or otherwise. They know enough now that Kukuru can bring back the very hurt, and it's better than them becoming extremely dead thanks to Edgy Winter.
However, Edgy Winter seems to have crossed a line. People, who were willing to let the duel go on without interference retract that non-interference promise because he uses his people. Sniper shots rain down on Winter, blasting holes into him, though they start to quickly heal as blood flows into them. However...
Persephone holds the wounds open, refusing to let him get his way. The strain against the force is enough to add trauma to those injuries, making it worse. Hiromi at this point focuses her claws into a point to send Winter flying at Brook. Thanks to the setup and combo from Phony and Hiromi, Brook dives in. She slides underneath the flying man and thrusts up, aiming to drive the spear upwards.
She twists mid-air, then, aiming to bring him with her so that she's now above him, and he's face up. She thrusts the spear down, aiming to pin him to the ground, while her heel comes down across the side of his head. His eyes spin before his head rolls to one side, finally, put completely out cold.
The spear is pulled out with a sickening sound. The change over the camp is dramatic. People who are barely left standing crumple to the ground utterly exhausted. Their transformations painfully retracting and disappearing. The madness of the hour passing as the moon hits its apex.
Brook smiles at her allies, at her friends and holds her flaming spear up, and fires a shot into the air. It is a signal, a sign to her forces to come in to aid in clean up and holding this place. Brook, having spent a lot of her mana to fight hovers there. Features inhumanly beautiful, her eyes pinpricks of light. Her skin was perfectly marble smooth, and her hair was more like a burning flame than actual hair.
"Thank you for your help, it...means a lot to me."
|Kukuru||Wiping sweat off her brow (and also blood) (not all of it her own), Kukuru climbs up just enough onto the trench to rest her chin on the ground and see the fruits of everyone's labor. Brooklynn, victorious and looking like a radiant flame that Kukuru's still somewhat concerned about due to the fire thing. Death Winter, shit kicked in and who might get a bit of healing later just to make sure he's conscious enough for whatever's to come later.
<<"That went pretty okay, I think. We're gonna need some... Uh...">> She glances over at all the bodies scattered in the trench, most probably still breathing, if heavily injured and concussed. She mumbles numbers under her breath as she lets her eyes do the sweep for her, then surveys those laid out by Hiromi's more bestial efforts, Staren's miniature suns, and even those Persephone firmly yet gently convinced to stay on or in the ground.
Taking a deep breath, Kukuru takes a sip from her water bottle, shakes her head with a shiver, then slips it and her claws back into her pocket. "Okay... Time for more work."
She'll still favor healing her allies before even attempting to put these people back together or bring them back from the dead, of course. She's not afraid of showing a little/massive amounts of favoritism here.
|Staren|| Staren relaxes a bit at Persephone's words on the radio, but is still upset. "Why is someone like this?! I didn't dare try it mid-fight, but... You've seen his mind the whole time, right? Why...??"
When all the followers suddenly collapse, it's clearly over. Staren lands on the ground -- soft grass, now? -- and the magic wind effect making her look cool stops. Her arms drop to her side. As the last set of miniature suns slowly fade, no new set replaces them. Staren looks at the still form of Winter. "You're welcome, but... why? Are all the other rulers in this world like this? Just... hurting their followers all the time...?" How many more are suffering even now, as we take a breath and relax... THEY don't get to relax, and how many out there will not draw breath again...? How can we help them all? HOW CAN WE SAVE THEM?!
Staren drops the shotgun and holds her hand and the edge of the mock control rod to her head.
Some part of her retains the presense of mind to order the remaining robots to start taking inventory of Kukuru's future patients, saving her the time of searching for them and directing her to those in most dire need of immediate medical attention.
|Persephone Kore|| The Queen in Veils kneels down next to Staren after Wrath falls. I hold out my hand- not one of the small human ones, but the big one, the one made of plastic and steel. "Hey," I say softly- at least, I hope it sounds soft! Ahaha. "If it feels good, that tells your brain you're doing something right. You just saved a lot of people, didn't you? Shouldn't you let yourself feel good about that?"
The hand is clearly intended to let Staren climb into her palm and curl up. If the catgirl accepts, Phony holds her close to the Queen's chest and squeezes her gently in a telekinetic hug.
I need one hand free for what comes next!
The Queen in Veils walks up to Brooklynn, who's still in her radiant, flaming angel form. Its feet lift off the ground until it reaches her altitude, not "levitating" so much as lazily picked up by Phony's own telekinetic force.
The doll-mech is faceless, but somehow the gleam of its smoke-shaded eyes conveys my perennial smile.
It reaches up with its free hand
through the flames
"You did a wonderful job, too," Persephone says, mentally as much as physically. "Thank you for being brave enough to show us this side of you."
|Staren||Staren looks up at the Queen, and down at the hand, and just sits on the edge. She acknowledges Persephone's argument, but somehow, this fog of frustration at mixed-up concerns about morality and duty just won't leave her mind so easily. Or, it wouldn't on its own. Under Persephone's influence, it slips away as Staren's lifted up, kicking her feet in the air idly. The *invisible hug* startles her at first, and then she relaxes as she realizes what it is. She'd return it if she could. The hand starts to look like an awfully good place to lie down and rest. Her constructs can work while she's asleep. Kukuru... she should help Kukuru, but... maybe she can rest here for just a moment...|
|Brooklynn Bailey||Brooklynn raises up, slightly surprised by this but can't help but smile at the Queen's next action. She sighs, and closes her eyes, letting Persephone do what she loves to do. "Thanks. It's...hard to show this side of myself. The side that people are afraid of," She admits. She wants to be seen as human.
To receive the love she wants to give.