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|Operator||% Throughout the Tapestry, sirens ring and fires burn. Five robots appeared from nowhere and began wrecking havoc with an array of built-in weaponry.
One is built in the form of a young girl, scurrying around on all four limbs and long chains that stretch from her back. A fishmonger's store-front is obliterated by the writhing links as they thrash about.
A second is built like a handsome man out of wood and brass. They constantly throw out razor sharp cards and manifest guns. When law enforcements attempts to stop them, they seem to vanish and reappear in two places at once to flank them.
The third is built like a teenaged girl, with gratuitously oversized hands constantly curled into fists. It moves about with great speed and strikes with great force, collapsing bridges and knocking down smaller buildings in a single strike.
The fourth is built like a girl with cat ears. Thre start and spread fires by hurling beakers filled with dubious chemicals. Those who try to put them out are blasted by fire and lightning from their free-floating hands.
The last one is again, made in the form of a woman. They possess a large sword with an energy blade. They have zero interest in property damage. They're just killing passers-by indiscriminately, teleporting to catch up to those who try to flee.
|Rita Ma|| Rita the perfectly ordinary girl hops from rooftop to rooftop en route to the disaster zone. Her little hands are balled up into fists. Her jaw is tense. One by one, her gaze alights on the robot doppelgangers, noting where they match the originals and where they- hopefully- fall short.
This is my fault, isn't it? Because I didn't get to Doctor Rawbought fast enough, all of this is happening now. There's the fake Ms. Rook. There's the fake Mr. Candy. There's the fake Hibiki. There's--
She sights the fake Rita from the fishmonger's rooftop. Something about it chills her blood immediately, but it takes her a few more seconds to fully register what she's seeing. The human form contorted into quadrupedal gait, those flailing chains sprouting from its back- it's horrid. It's her.
Rita takes a few steps back from the edge, but can't tear her eyes away. She's out in the open, fully exposed.
"That's not what I look like," she says softly. It sounds more like a pleading request than a statement.
|Hibiki Tachibana||LAST TIME, ON DR. RAWBOUGHT'S MECHANICAL MONSTROSITIES:
Actually, the Mechanical Regents weren't that bad. Things just got really really out of hand in more ways than one. After she had time to cool down and think about it, she actually felt a little sorry for them. They were just tools for the poorly dressed mad scientist's real plot the entire time. Raise Man was even kind of nice.
Box Man, on the other hand, is still an asshole.
THIS TIME, ON DR. RAWBOUGHT'S NEO NEW MECHANICAL NOT-SO-MONSTRO-LEGENDS:
"That's supposed to be me? And that's...!" As soon as she got the news that Rawboughts' last creations were running rampant, Hibiki took the fast track to the Tapestry as quickly as she could. She knew this would happen eventually, she just wasn't sure when.
And unlike the put-together Regents from last time, these are the real deal, and causing some serious destruction. Especially when one of them is based directly on her, she feels an undeniable sense of responsibility to put a stop to them. That, and...
"Balwisyall nescell Gungnir tron...!" Light explodes off of her mid-sprint through the streets, swapping out clothes and freshly replaced bandages with the undersuit and mechanical components of her Symphogear - and the resulting boost in strength that comes with her transformation is immediately put into a full force lunge forward. It's not her own copy that's caught her full attention.
She's going to intercept the last of them all, hunting down civilians, and move to get right in the way as she's preparing to teleport after another runner. One gauntlet lifted high to stop her sword mid-swing, while the other comes around in a palm strike to try and send the machine flying back.
"I wasn't able to stop her back then..." She grunts through clenched teeth. "But I can sure as hell scrap /you!/"
|Staren|| AU XX: Staren was born to a... wait, we already did this bit!
*Fast-forwarding tape noises* until the cinematic gets to Staren atop the train. This time, she teleports on armor: It's white, with black on the belly, upper arms, upper legs, and neck, and Concord Orange accents. Three features immediately stand out: One, there's a bubble helmet, like a cartoon's idea of a spacesuit. That HAS to be reinforced with magic or something. Second: There's a cloth accessory, white with Concord-orange trim, attached to the armor and stylized to evoke a labcoat although it doesn't actually cover as much -- collar, shoulders, down the sides and back, and long flowing tails almost ankle-length. Third... there's an obviously holographic, glowing, Concord-orange scarf. It doesn't actually look like fabric, and the shape is somewhat abstracted, giving the impression of a ragged piece of fabric blowing in the wind.
Staren curls her right arm, lifting a fist in front of herself. There's a brief stutter as the FMV is loaded from disc and the camera pans out to show a platoon of humanoid robots in riot gear riding atop the train with her. Staren leaps off, followed by the bots, which spread out.
A few head to the area being terrorized by Robo-Lilian to try and apply stabilizing nanobandages to her victims who haven't bled out yet. Most of them deploy fire extinguishers.
"I am... INSULTED! You're supposed to be me?!" Staren holds her left arm in front of her, bent across her chest horizontally as if she needs to speak into her forearm to do this: "I spread only the flames of KNOWLEDGE, not mindless arson! And I can counter you in an instant. Deploy prototype: WINTER WONDERLAND!" Her armor's colors dramatically change to... ... ... ...white and black, that's how Pramanix dresses, actually. The black might be a *little* lighter than before, but you really have to squint at the screen and look closely to tell.
Several distortions in space appear around Staren, as if something is pressing away from the viewer at several 'points' and several inches around them are stretched/contracted. And then they start sucking the heat out of the area, a freezing-cold snowy wind whipping up around Staren!
The catgirl scientist points dramatically with her right hand. "You're finished, you one-trick imitation! Surrender now, if you have any intelligence, or I'm sending you straight to the scrap heap!*"
*No she's absolutely taking home any pieces left for analysis.
|Vantablitz Remnants|| Because someone else is on a solo island adventure ascension quest, a different noble soul rises to the challenge! So noble she doesn't even have anything in the mail through Afterus! Because she hasn't figured that out yet! Her partner has, but hasn't told her how yet, and this isn't there anyways. The important part is that Rita is in distress!
In this instance, the Rider arrives pre-suited from off frame because the stock footage was already played earlier. That means Lotus and Ahn are ostensibly the same person right now, superficially seeming an individual in a suit of contoured enamel white plates closely articulated over a mysterious black layer, a mask-like face featuring little more than green eye-glows and stylistic red markings, with Lotus' namesake blooming in vantablack from abstracted 'hair'. For the moment, they are unarmed on episode intro, and seemingly fall straight from the sky! (after having jumped from really high at really high speed.
They crash dramatically into the ground in front of punchbot, bouncing right back up to their feet and adopting a loose-handed fighting stance. "Whatever you think you're doing here, you have to stop! Please, use your words and tell me why--" "It's a robot isn't it? Like 'Skynet'." "I don't think that's the same." "More like Ultra Boy X then?" "Lotus please this is real life!" "It's a first for you too?" "We have to get to Rita quickly!"
|Operator|| The mechanical Rita swivels its head to look up at it's originator upon the building. Immediatelly, it lunges at the side of it, using those chains to scurry up to stand right in front of Rita. "You... you... you're me. I'm you." They step closer, head twitching. "But I'm me... if you're also me, then who am I?"
Those chains begin scraping and slashing the rooftop as Mecha-Rita's twitching becomes more erratic. "Let's see... I woke up in the lab and... oh, now I get it. This is a trick, isn't it? Doctor <ERROR> did something. Okay. If that's the case, I just have to kill you, and everything will go back to normal." Their whole body suddenly strobes with blinding, flashing lights, trying to blind Rita.
The sword-bearing robot turns to look at Hibiki as she comes crashing down, instantly blinking over to stand toe to toe against her. "You? What the hell do you think you could do to touch me, you silly cow?" They tilt their head in a condescending way and realize, "Oh, you're the one that thug is based on. Well, I guess they'll owe me if I kill you."
They move like a badly recorded phone video, skipping frames to slash at Hibiki's midsection.
Staren confronts Robo-Staren, who just stares blankly at her. "If you're disappointed in my construction, maybe you should have done stuff other than getting shot and running away so I'd have more data to work off of."
They watch as Staren uses distortions to draw heat from the air and shake their head. "What a techbro solution. You understand water and sand are still used because they work, right? Or even that riot suppression foam that was so beloved for a while. Well, whatever."
They manifest two beakers and lob them Staren's way. One contains simple water. The other, sodium. They smash against each other mid-lob, and the resulting explosion is impressive.
Ahn and Lotus confront Hibiki-bot, who immediately turns and snarls at them like a wild animal. "Oh good! About time something more sturdy showed up! Show me a good time!" Not one much for talking it seems. They lunge at the melded duo and try to grab them in one hand, the other separating into multiple fists that they attempt to use to punch rush the ensnared duo.
|Vantablitz Remnants|| "A-A-A g-good t-t-time?! Lotus h-help!" "Oh, so it's more like 'Valhalla Nightlife' I guess." Ahn throws up her hands, though she is unable to evince the correct degree of panic through the Lotus-provided mask and is limited to merely shaking her head and backing away. "W-whoa no no! It's not like that! I'm here to stop you from destroying--!" And then they're grabbed. "Ahn, your danger instinct for being grabbed . . . we need to work on that." "And who's fault is it?!"
Ahn's battle sense finally kicks in when Bikkibot's fist splits into a special attack array for barraging punches, and pulls up her guard just in time. Grappled as she is in one gigantic robo hand, there's not much she can do for the moment but shield her upper body, instinctively realizing that Bikkibot can't punch low with her own hand in the way, and wait for an opening. This is not the best strategy for dealing with something that is optimized for raw punch power by an evil robotics genius.
<<Th-this is way too intense--!!>> <<We saw her level a bridge on the way in! This is the best you could think of?! This really hurts you know!>> <<I can feel it too! Just-- on my mark!>>
Weird yellow-green sparks shower from Lotus-Ahn's arms where she locks elbows and ducks. Despite being significantly more slender than Bikkibot, she lasts surprisingly long just gritting her teeth and tensing all of her upper body muscles. The underlayer of her 'suit' reactively hardens in a crystalline way, absorbing tremendous degrees of shock that keep the pair standing, even if badly wobbling, up until a piece of plating cracks, and perfectly vantablack 'blood' drizzles out of it.
Which then gets on Bikkibot's many fists. When then jumps to life like something from the infamous scene from an old sci-fi movie about testing blood in little dishes. The black liquid painting each sub-fist reaches out as if (well, it is) alive, and entangles itself with its closest neighbour, forming and interjoined web and snaring all of the punch-batteries together, before then jumping out to grab Bikkibot by the throat and incapacitate her arm. Ahn uses the momentary distraction to kick Bikkibot's lead shin out from under her. She doesn't even raise her leg for it; there's a sound like a miniature blast and a flare of light from the back of her heel as Lotus perfectly times the energy vent with Ahn's muscle movement. Once she can smash Bikkibot's leg, the same force is used to twist and jump free, this time with organic 'thrusters' flowering around her midsection in Bikkibot's grabbyhand to blow her grip open.
|Staren|| Staren stares. "Holy shit, I'm not that *mean* either. You're not me at all!" When it chastises her choice in freezing the area, she gestures at the robots around her putting out fire with foam extinguishers. And then sees the beakers and dive out of the way, getting flung by the explosion and rolling as she lands.
Staren's already drawn her double-barreled laser pistol and fired as she gets up to a knee and then stands. Staying on the move, looking for cover. "Just bombs and fire and no sympathy... cutting remarks to hurt people because you're not strong enough" she fires again as soon as the laser comes off cooldown, "to be in control of the situation... sheesh, you're Dark Me all over again. But less cool because you don't even *try* to protect people." Laser!
If the fire stays put out long enough, snow and ice begin to cover the ground; Staren's boots seem to have some anti-slip feature. "What's your ga--" Staren stops mid-sentence, her brain a few words ahead, trying to suss out whether there's anything to save or convince here or whether to just blow it up, and then remembering: MIND READING. She brings up Persephone's power and glimpses her double's mind; just enough for emotions and surface thoughts rather than trying to get visions of the past. Those probably aren't helpful with something so recently-created, anyway.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| The sword-bot's demeanor alone immediately dredges up some seriously deep-seated emotions. It's like everything she dislikes about Lilian distilled into a mechanical frame. Even their copies don't get along. She's really not sure how to feel about that. Pursing her lips, she balls her hands up into fists, bracing herself--
But that blinking movement isn't easy to keep up with. It's not the exact same as back then, but it's more than enough to leave her unsure of where it's going to be next, until it's already in front of her and bringing its weapon around. In a very hasty movement, she backsteps just in time for it to 'only' cut a mildly deep gash into her ribs.
"As if I'd ever lose to some crappy imitation of the real deal...!" Catching herself, Hibiki promptly moves right back in to try and duck into the effective range of the Neo Regent's blade. Right up close to each other, she'll have the advantage in a melee as a fistfighter...minus any teleporting maneuvers that can change that in an instant. "Especially one that only learned from the worst parts of her!"
Her fist comes low, in a gutpunch set to crash right into its own body. Right behind it is a second, and a third, each one aimed a bit higher than the last to barrage the machine with a steady stream of blows while she stays in for as long as possible. "And Rita has enough to deal with already, so I'll take you out so she doesn't have to even look at you!" Her own selfish stake in throwing hands with the one based on Lilian doesn't have to be said.
She really doesn't know what to do about that teleportation honestly, beyond trying to stay light on her feet. She still hasn't figured out what to do about it in general...or the other ability Lilian has recently shown off. If this thing ends up having some way to mimic that too...
Well, this is as good a chance as any to practice dealing with it.
|Rita Ma|| Rita staggers backwards at her doppelganger's approach, eyes wide and one hand held over her mouth. "There's been a mistake," she says in a ghostly-soft voice. "They didn't make you right." The robot's twitching elicits a visible shudder from her; similar motions, for very different reasons.
That isn't what I look like. That isn't what the cameras saw. It's defective. Isn't it?
When their chains start lashing the rooftop, Rita's flinch-reflexes serve her well; several swipes come within inches of her skin, only for her to jolt back out of the way. One carves a gouge in the rooftop behind her, though, and as she steps backwards her foot catches in it, sending her sprawling down onto her back.
Because it scares me. And if I scare myself, how can I expect other people to accept me...?
The flash of light comes a moment later, drawing a pained yelp out of Rita and forcing her to shield her eyes with her arm as she props herself up on her opposite elbow. Invisible tentacles unwind from around her arms and legs, revealing slivers of the true self underneath. They blindly lash out, largely parrying the chains through sheer volume and speed of the whickering organic ribbons rather than through directed skill- it's like trying to cross blades with a rotary fan.
A couple of bruising strikes still get through. This can't hold forever. One of her tentacles reaches out to the side, wraps around a streetlamp, and yanks her sideways at high speed to escape the relentless assault. She kicks off the pole and lands running on a nearby rooftop, sparing a glance backwards with stinging eyes to see if she's still being pursued.
Up ahead are Ahn/Lotus and the Hibiki-bot. Ahn kicks out Hibiki's leg and breaks the grapple- perfect. Rita takes a flying leap off the next rooftop, disappears mid-jump, and re-materializes only after she's slammed into the Hibiki-bot's side feet-first.
"Behind me!" she shouts. It swiftly becomes apparent that it isn't an instruction, but a warning.
|Operator|| Hibikibot acks as the blood locks her multiple fists together, the burst kick into her leg making her stumble enough that Ahn can get free. "What kind of freak are yo-" Their insult is interrupted by Rita's dropkick. Her warning is well-earned, as Ritabot comes thrashing down the street, striding with her chains and smashing everything she comes across.
"What did you do what did you do what did you do" she chants. Rita counted her chains with invisible tendrils, and now she has no idea what makes the two of them different. "Hey, back off creep! This is my kill!" Hibikibot barks. "Shut up," Ritabot retorts, slashing the blood that gums her fist batteries. "Together." "Tch. Fine."
Ritabot lunges for Rita, chains interweaving into a drill she thrusts with overwhelming force. Hibikibot meanwhile scoops up a chunk of the road and launches it in the same motion, a buckshot of tarmac flying at Ahn and Lotus.
"What are you talking about? Didn't you always say that you wished people would always just say what's on their minds and not lie? You did get shot. You did run away. I guess it never applies when it's about you though, huh?"The laser shot sears a chunk out of them as they slowly advance, thier body issuing clouds of calcium carbonate that begins melting the ice around them. They also blast the drones to keep the fires going.
Staren mind reads, and understands. Robo-Staren hates life. Their life. Being made incomplete, based on partial data from someone who ran scared when confronted with a threat. Meeting that someone and they don't even have the firepower to put them out of their misery.
Producing a capsule from their body, they load it into their hand and shoot at Staren's cover. The acid within rapidly melts it. More and more are fired in the hopes of hitting her.
"You can say that when you beat the real deal, dumbass." Robo-Lilian meets Hibiki's challenge, the blade of the sword retracting and the light intensifying as it concentrates. Short-ranged swordplay meets fists as the two go at it. She's not able to land a clean blow, but at the same time, the teleportation helps her make Hibiki's punches land unevenly, mitigating damage. It is, frustratingly, just like fighting the real one.
Eventually though, Robo-Lilian scoffs and blinks away. "This is boring. I think I'm gonna go scare the real Rita. Later~" A series of short-ranged teleportations mark her escape towards the 2v2 brawl.
|Vantablitz Remnants||"There she is! Thank goodness!" "Hey! Pay attention."
Ahn responds to Rita's sudden appearance and intervention with a mixed gasp of surprise and relief. In the moment where she's tackled aside her opponent, Ahn's tensiond decreases greatly, leading to an inappropriately timed "You're okay! I'm so glad!" It's Lotus herself who jerks her wearer's head sideways to look where Rita had come from. When confronted with the pursuing Ritabot, the two move return to moving seamlessly as one.
Ahn springs forward, exploding from her relaxed standstill to blur into Robo-Rita's path so quickly that thrust-flowers bloom, explode, and shed on her opposite side to arrest her momentum. Lotus fires spikes of black crystalline fluid into the ground beneath their feet to anchor the pair, and Ahn interposes herself between Rita and the drilling attack with arms half-spread, fingers hooked, palms outwards, and draws in a deep breath that sounds like a rattle-hiss corrupt electronic hum as she draws a full circle with a flourish of both hands. The instant before Robo-Rita connects, the air is split with a resonant, even bell-like shriek --a gong vibrating at quadruple its natural frequency-- and a six-sided barrier of what looks like warped sunlight intercepts the tendril drill at its point.
Then, while Ahn is briefly incapacitated from the exertion of the technique, Lotus fires grappling tendrils to snag the Ritabot and reel her right into Ahn's hands, twisted in the opposite direction of the original drill spin to put tremendous shear stress on her. Ahn goes to grip Ritabot's arms with both her open palms, and extends the same twist with her whole body, kicking off from the ground into the lateral spin of an expert martial artist and accelerating *herself* with miniature thrusters to massively intensify the shredding effect on Ritabot's arms and tendrils before throwing her at incredible speed into the nearest solid object.
<<I'll just have to trust Rita to have my back!>> she thinks, fully well knowing she's left herself completely exposed to Bikkibot's shrapnel attack. <<I think so. Did you see how eager she was to get away from this thing?>> <<That just means we have to be the ones to take it out!>>
|Staren|| Either you're choosing words to be mean, or you don't have the full picture! Lilian is a scary threat, and she was specifically out to torture me! But... the mind-reading works. "I see. You really don't have the full picture... You feel incomplete, and made from a broken original."
Staren focuses on deploying replacement cover from the matter manipulator instead of attacking. Destroyed drones aren't replaced, although they've probably done a fair bit to staunch the flames by now. "People have a lot going on in their heads. Being scared of Lilian and a few other people in particular, doesn't mean I'm a coward in general. Trying to *act* like I wasn't scared of anyone... I used to do that, and not only did I fail but that kind of thinking *did* break me. It kept me from happiness. It kept me scared on the inside, jumping at shadows, constantly worried that if I ever showed weakness my allies would turn on me. You don't want to be like that. And if your mind is anything like mine, you *can't* be like that; you'll be stretched and stressed to the breaking point!"
As she speaks, Staren keeps reading Robo-Staren's reactions to see if she's getting off-base. "But... well, one day I fucked up bad, and my allies showed me they still cared for me. That I didn't have to act like that and be scared anymore. And I've... things are so much better now! I have that happiness, and you can have it too! Stop this senseless destruction, and let's work out how to get you the better future you deserve!"
Staren extends her free hand in a 'join me' gesture.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| "Ngh...!" More than just being as annoying to fight as the real Lilian, this one can get under her skin just as well. It's a pretty innocuous snap-back, but still more than enough to throw Hibiki off enough that she's not able to start finding a way around the constant teleportation during their rapid exchange. And, much like their very first fight, the lack of being able to land any kind of solid hit gets into her head with each thrown punch. It's just a machine copy, so why...
It culminates in an over-wound up strike that she throws just as it's vanishing off, leaving her reeling and restabilizing as she looks back up and blinks. "Huh...? You're--get BACK here! Don't you dare!"
She can't frame-skip around though, only run. As fast as she can, chasing after the Lilian-bot with heavy breaths and high leaps for each teleport. At the height of each jump, she can glimpse the group battle going on in the distance. Ahn, Rita, her copy, and her own doppelganger...
"You two! She's coming!"
That shout is all the warning Hibiki can give before she pushes herself to actually do something about it, angling one of her jumps towards a building only to use the wall to propel herself off of.
As Robo-Lilian keeps moving in, Hibiki tries to find any pattern or range limit to the rapid blinks--so that right as she's about to make another one, she can throw herself at where she thinks the copy is going to end up and slam into her with a full force tackle and grapple. "I said GET BACK HERE!"
Seriously full force. Hit or miss, she's probably going to go right through where they're fighting and into the nearest structure.
|Rita Ma|| Rita's response to her doppelganger's raving confusion is... relief? She's still afraid in an immediate sense; scared to get hurt, scared to let other people get hurt. It still pains her just to look at that mockery, blinding lights or no. But the less immediate, abstract fear is assuaged, just a tiny bit, with a steadying sigh after hopping back from the Hibiki-bot.
It's not perfect. It's not me. Something I get so intuitively, the other Rita- no, that robot- doesn't get at all. Even if it's horrible, maybe I'm not.
That voice gets a softly surprised reaction out of her, drawing her attention away for a moment as the Rita-bot frees the Hibiki-bot from its entanglement. "Ms. Ahn! Where are you?" she asks innocently while looking straight at both of them, followed by an embarrassed "oh."
The drill comes down towards her. She spots it in her peripheral vision and turns, her eyes widening. Flesh versus steel isn't a gamble she wants to make. But she doesn't have to: Lotus and Ahn intercede.
Rita twists back around just in time to meet the Hibiki-bot's tarmac shrapnel blast. Her hand comes up, fingers tinting fleshy-pale-to-bloody-red, and fires a halo of golden light that engulfs the oncoming projectiles. As it washes over them, they're slowed to a crawl- and so is the Hibiki-bot behind them.
Invisible tentacles rapidly re-angle each shard of tarmac to face "backwards and up" relative to their original orientation. Rita dashes forwards, taking advantage of the tail end of the time-slow on the mechanical Hibiki, and slams it with repeated inelegant-but-forceful rising punches, each one cracking the ground under her own feet.
"That's my friend's face," she says, delivering the final uppercut. The temporal slow wears off. The Hibiki-bot is- hopefully- flung upwards by the sudden accumulated momentum. Simultaneously, the reoriented tarmac shards 'unfreeze' too and fly back over Rita's head at the Hibiki-bot midair, all aimed to skewer it.
"Give it back."
|Operator|| Ahn and Lotus clash with RoboRita, chains grinding against circular dispersal blocking. When she begins to counter the spinning chains, there's a worrying grinding sound as the anchors for them creak. "Stop it stop it stop it stop it it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts."
Eventually, the chains break apart. But as they do, RoboRita's whole body flashes and strobes again, trying to overwhelm Ahn's neural processes the way Rita did to Doktor Rawbought.
Meanwhile, RoboHibiki is trapped in the time slow. "Whaaaaaaaaa" she begins to say before Rita begins bodying her, launching her to intercept the redirected shrapnel which embeds itself at multiple points. "You think I want this face? The face of someone who lets people down? Absolutely not! Easier to have no expectations of me!"
Sparks fly from them as they raise one of their hands, rockets firing as it detaches from the rest of it, a true rocket punch soaring at Rita!
Meanwhile, RoboLilian descends, her sword at the ready to plunge into Rita. But Hibiki's prediction proves true, her tackle intercepting her mid-fall and crashing them both through the window of an office building. "Get off me you stupid bitch!" she shouts. Hibiki had worried as to whether or not this robotic clone can do the stuff the real Lilian can. And while not exactly, she can at least attempt to copy it. That strange, phantom attack that bruised Candy without touching him is copied by Robo-Lilian emitting a huge amount of radiation, making her hot to the touch.
Meanwhile, Robo-Staren stares blankly at the original. "You're reading my mind, aren't you?" they say. "How am I supposed to take any of that seriously when you're trying to game me, get my relationship value up or however you think of it? Sincere pleas only work if they're sincere."
They turn away, shaking their head. "I think I have a fuller picture thank you do. I'm a robot, created in the image of a 'science heroine.' But what about you is scientific? You use magic and weapons of war. The only science you advocate is the kind used by the military-industrial complex to kill people as efficiently as possible. The stuff I do, with beakers and chemicals is way more befitting that than you. And nothing about you is heroic either, so that's wrong. You sold your soul to the faction that would fund your toys and not wag their finger at you for using them. You make a show of trying to improve things from the inside but let them talk you into whatever it is they want to do."
"I'm not sad because I'm incomplete. I'm sad because I'm based on a sham. And even if I wanted to pursue my own happiness, I'd always be in the shadow of a sham. My only option is to kill you, so you no longer cast it."
All that melted ice has turned into water that floods the street, pooling around the cover. Robo-Staren punches the ground, the hand coming out to reveal a thick, insulated electrical wire. She dumps it in the water and hovers, blasting it with flames to expose the raw current so it flows through and shocks Staren. "This is how a real science heroine fights."
|Vantablitz Remnants|| When Robo-Rita begins . .. panicking? The worst of all possible things happens.
Standing there, holding just the broken chains in her hands, Ahn wavers on her feet. "I-I . . . I'm sorry I . . . I didn't know that . . . A-are . . . Rita?" all she can do is stammer uselessly, forgetting to even drop the broken metal clutched in her fingers. Her brain is running in loops. She doesn't know how to fix this. Any of this situation at all.
When Robo-Rita drops her flash bomb, it's Lotus who has to jolt Ahn alert again (somehow), because (also somehow) the powerful, weaponized glare doesn't seem to impact as it should. When Ahn starts, she reacts to the optical attack on instinct, in the form of what appears to be a flowing three-step redirection kata that somehow draws in the light emitting from Robo-Rita, coalescing it into a gossamer stream instead of beaming in all directions, wrapping it around her like a dancing ribbon, condensing into a bright, burning streak, and then firing back as a short-lived cutting laser.
<<If you're going to be that way, then I suppose I can't help it for now. I'll get her.>> <<Thank you . . . I'll try and help Hibiki!>>
In the midst of the single chaotic brawl, Ahn turns her back on Robo-Rita, and focuses on Neo-Lilian instead, mustering the same power on the immense quality of radiant energy being used as an attack on Hibiki, audibly straining this time to downshift its wavelength into mere bright violet light, and twist it apart into discordant helixes of brightness.
Lotus, meanwhile, unfolds the entire back of her current mounting with a series of slightly wet and bony cracks, and launches a thick tendril of blackness at Robo-Rita that first resembles the tongue strike of a chameleon, but shifts its surface to something like solar crystal in an instant, and splinters into a dozen liquid crystal bindings that engulf the robot and become incredibly electromagnetically rigid. If she can pin Robo-Rita in place, her goal is to siphon power from her so rapidly that the robot is kicked straight into an emergency sleep mode, or if nothing else, simply can't fight back at all.
Ahn gives the mental command, and the armour on(?) her forearm 'explodes', like white shrapnel still attacked to streamers of gooey black fire, and then snaps back into place in a different configuration, exposing a modification of the flechette wristgun from when they'd all fought underwater. This time, a central port fires a high velocity spray of apparently harmless, though brightly luminous and pheremone-laced fluid into Neo-Lilian, and then two flanking side ports ponderously fire heavy, hollow 'spikes' with powerful hissing blasts of compressed gas, followed by a second, third, and fourth round.
Lotus has each spike cored with her own biomass, having recorded the rest of that Leviathan's genetic information back then. The shrieking spikes hunt down a goo-splattered target by scent and electroreception; even if she teleports, it'll take only as long as 'electricity' to immediately reorient on her and keep chasing. Once they make contact with the marking pheremone stolen from the same gargantuan creature, they spread destructive, invasive 'roots' into the machinery, winding around it, engulfing it, and disabling it.
|Rita Ma|| "Hibiki's never let me down. I'm the one who couldn't keep her safe. I'm the one who kept her from helping Candy! I'm the one who couldn't see what was happening with Lilian!"
The rocket punch- there's barely time to think before it connects, let alone dodge. Rita brings up her palm and fires another blast of that time-slowing light at the onrushing projectile just to give herself milliseconds of breathing room. She twists to the side and kicks off the tarmac at the last possible instant, but it still clips her side, sending her reeling backwards into a three-point recovery and instinctively snarling grimace.
No. I've got to get a hold of myself. As long as that robot is still imitating me, I can't rely on those instincts without looking just like it! Think, Rita...
A cloaked tentacle wraps around the rocket-fist as it flies past her. It's oozing with temporally-accelerated cyan acid, ready to violently explode and rapidly corrode the Hibiki-bot when the fist is retrieved.
Rita straightens up from her crouch. She's unhurried, now, waiting for the Hibiki-bot to make its deadly mistake. The light behind her eyes gutters back on like a fragile lightbulb. "Monsters that wear the faces of humans are the very worst kind. Even if these are the kinds of things Hibiki says to herself, I won't accept them from a creature like you."
"Rita" explodes forwards on cue, claws bared, trying to goad the Hibiki-bot into retrieving its trapped fist for a dramatic counterattack. The real Rita vaults overhead, fully cloaked, and lands behind it to sink her fingers into the acid-weakened chassis and simply rip it limb from limb in a display of shrieking metal and hissing smoke. She reveals herself again only as the latter clears.
"It's the least I can do to say I'm sorry."
|Hibiki Tachibana|| Rolling into the office building, Hibiki does the exact opposite of getting off, clutching on tightly the entire time--until the machine starts turning up the heat. Her hands begin sizzling, and the metal of her gauntlets flare up a bright red. "Agh...!" Wincing and yelping in pain, she has to fight her natural instinct to let go on the spot, even when the heat starts hitting the rest of her body still up against Robo-Lilian. Her fingers twitch, only to dig in even more after a moment.
"Like...hell I am! What, you're not gonna just teleport away...!? I'm not letting you go again! I wasn't too late this time!" A few portions of her armor are going to start heating up to the point of risking bubbling or melting slightly from the continued contact, but even so, she keeps her hold with a sudden violent yank and fires her Symphogear's thrusters - intent on suddenly accelerating them both up through several more floors of the office building with all the shameless collateral damage that entails, and back out through a window into the open air.
"You're not Lilian, you're even worse...! She'd never hurt Rita on purpose, or jump at the chance to do it!" It'll give Ahn a clear shot to work on both downshifting the intense radiation and tagging her with her tracer goop, though even if it works, it's hard to tell if Hibiki herself even notices, shouting right into the doppelganger's face. "There's not a damn hint of remorse anywhere in /you/, is there!? So I'll--!!"
Whether that's true or not, Hibiki pries only one burnt hand free to pull away, the piston within her gauntlet slamming backwards with a mechanical hiss. Only after rearing back as hard as possible does she swing forward as hard as she physically can, aiming center of mass as the machinery pounds back where it belongs with deafening force, to funnel a grossly destructive wave of raw force into the point of impact.
She's going to try and send her flying back down to earth at fast enough speeds that there might not even be an opportunity to teleport.
|Staren|| Despite everything, Staren's considering whether to keep talking, to attempt to correct this misunderstanding, or to instead give up and finish this -- giving her double time for the shock attack! It is, presumably, tuned to actually DO something through her armor; muscles locked up, Staren can barely move. She mutters something through gritted teeth.
...and activates her own flight, lifting her above the water. And she begins a barrage of attacks while talking:
"Well, Dr. Rawbought got one thing right..." The laser pistol fires a 3-pulse burst from both barrels.
"I can think I know it all and jump to conclusions like nobody's business." She's switched to the gyrojet pistol.
"I. Don't. Lie." Each word is punctuated with another shot before she drops the gyrojet, its magazine empty.
"I want the best for you too." The missile rack on one shoulder pops into firing position.
"If you'll allow it." A mini-missile fires and detonates in a cloud of superheated plasma, instantly turning much of the water to steam.
Staren hovers slightly closer. "I'm good at making weapons, but I share my other findings too." She waves a hand at the drones. Another missile fires.
"I offer eternal life to all who ask!" A third missile fires, and the other rack pops up.
But Staren's warped a magitech shotgun into her hand. "Magic." She fires one barrel, a burst of cold freezing the water flowing back in. "Is." the same from the other barrel. "Science!" Both barrels fire ramjet slugs.
"Fixing them from within was my plan when I joined the League," Staren comments as she opens the breach of the shotgun, two brass cartridges ringing out as they hit the ground and she slaps two new ones in. The missile rack fires as she does this to keep Robo-Staren on the defensive. "...And some within the Concord have lost their way in the past. But they're good people."
She intersperses missiles and more freezing shots. "Priscilla's making the world *better*. Without answering to corruptible bureaucracy. THAT is heroic responsibility. Not passing the buck and saying 'Well, I followed the rules, so there was nothing more I could do.'"
Staren gets in her double's face. "We MAKE the rules. When the system's corrupt or broken, we replace it. No ifs, ands, or buts, no pearl-clutching, we help people and no one can tell us not to." She holds the shotgun up to where she's pretty sure the robot's brain is. "That's the Concord."
And then she aims it somewhere else on the robot's body before firing horrible explosive buckshot point-blank.
Hopefully she can save the brain and give it another chance to freaking *listen* later.
|Operator|| Robo-Rita, unfortunately, is not immune to their own blinding light. The momentary opening is all Lotus needs to ensnare them and begin siphoning power. "I'm... Rita. I'm... I... help m-" They don't even get to finish the sentence before they collapse.
Hibikibot is not very intelligent. As the fake Rita (not to be confused to Robo-Rita) dashes at them, they do indeed retract the acid-soaked fist. It immediately begins corroding them, allowing the real Rita to easilly rip them apart. "When did you-" they exclaim in shock as parts of them go everywhere. "Ah... failed again..." is their last words before shutting down.
Mecha-Lilian turns as the sludge hits her. "What the hell are you doing?" she says to Ahn, scorn in her voice. This gives Hibiki the opening to land a heavy hit, sending it flying. It teleports to right itself, but those spikes pursue, and eventually bury deep. "No, nonono! It's not fair! IT'S NOT-" As the mass consumes it, the last words are cut off.
Starenbot is shot, shredded, ripped apart, blown up. They don't do a thing to stop it. Eventually, only a head, a section of torso, and one of those hands is all that remains. "Well, you did give me what's best for me," it says. That hand grabs at a vial of acid, and it stammers. "But I'm not giving you the chance to save me."
It smashes the vial against its own head, the acid instantly coroding it's core. There's nothing to retrieve.
|Operator||P.S. Robo-Candy was taken down by Eryl Fairfax and a contingent of Paladins. So ends the terror of Doktor Rawbought.|