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Owner Pose

    Let's get one thing straight: this is not a nice place to be, if you enjoy the comforts of flesh. It's hot, dry, the air is thick with metallic smells, and you're pretty sure the only silver lining is that bacteria and viral agents probably can't handle it any more than you can, so the environment is, honestly, probably sterile. Thankfully, your stay is brief, and this is mostly bridging to the planet.

    The ship interior is a mishmash of a dozen largely incompatible technologies constantly making worrying noises. Every other room is a workshop of some kind, and if you're served drinks, it's by floating skulls covered in wires, plating and such. On the bright side you can trust the water because it's sealed bottled water.

    Those who showed up for the briefing are given the rundown by Phobos herself, a six foot three entirely mechanical woman whose shape is mostly kept under red robes: Gareos IV is the fourth planet of the Gareos system, and like its three sister planets, it is uncomfortably close to the blue giant star that occupies the middle. Mercifully, unknown contraptions inside the planet not only let it keep an atmosphere but dampen the star's heat to reasonable degrees. It'll still be hot though.

    It's a very straightforward mission too: go in, "ABSOLUTELY FUCK UP" the Mechanicus's deployed forces (Phobos' exact words), and secure the prize. Anything you find you can keep, except the prize. She is being especially coy about revealing what it is, and you get a feeling it isn't out of concern but out of the want to make a spectacle of it once it's found.

    More worryingly, the Adeptus Mechanicus' primary fleet is on the way. Whatever the artifact is, it has their full attention. There's enough time for Elites to go in and make a mess of things, Warp travel being what it is (unreliable), but this is very much a get in and get out ASAP situation. Not that the ground forces already deployed will be trivial to handle. There's an Archmagos down there with his personal army.

    But, that's not to say you'll let them have the planet. The technology shielding the planet from its star is also of interest, and will be the subject of a later mission. By then, the Mechanicus' fleet will have set up shop here, but we'll burn that bridge when we get to it.

    And thus does Phobos make her ship's Teleportarium (yes that's accurate) available to you. The beacon will drop you near the outpost. Those who require protective gear against the various threats of a planet near its star can request wearable shields from Phobos, too.

    It's windy, it's hot, and it sucks. The rust brown surface is illuminated by the massive blue star in the sky, its glow dimmed somewhat by the odd atmosphere. Heavy metallic dust in the air harshly treats exposed skin equipment, but those without protection can have gotten basic shielding from Phobos.

    Ahead is the Mechanicus outpost, efficient blocky steel buildings blending in with the rusty ground. Largely brass and copper colored, this is an advance outpost built in a hurry.

    The operation spans roughly a square mile, with heavier machinery in the center digging into the ground and knocking up even more of that dust. Towers and ramparts become thicker the closer one gets to the dig, and red-robed mechanical soldiers patrol the area without pause. Heavier combat automatons, humanoid but also vehicles, are occasionally glimpsed in the mix.

    To say they're on high alert is an understatement. There are more buildings dedicated to guarding the digsite than there are buildings dedicated to being a digsite in the first place. Heavy spotlights constantly circle the area around the outpost, light so hot it scorches the ground. Heavy turrets are on almost every rooftop, a mix of plasma cannons, lightning cannons and radium cannons, the latter of which probably make your Geiger counters, if you have one, beep nervously.

    Also there are mines. Grav-Wave Shock Mines, specifically, which emit a crushing+slowing wave of gravity when triggered. Mind your steps, it won't be an easy approach.
Cantio Cantio is actually kind of okay with arid weather outside. The metallic smell is a little off-putting, but it's not the worst she's ever experienced. It's not even for long enough to really get her itchy, but it's still just long enough for her to breathe a sigh of relief upon reaching the inside of the ship where things are (hopefully) less awful than the outside.

Not one to turn down hospitality out of mere anxiety, she gratefully accepts the offered drinks.

"That's a nice change of pace. Er.. N-not that I enjoy breaking things! It's just... The opportunities to do it without worrying about the aftermath don't come often." She comments in rather clear approval of Phobos' mission statement, and she doesn't push on finding out what the prize is. There's little reason for her to do so for now, anyway, and the less she knows about that, the better.

"How fragile is the prize? Er. Just in case we start fighting around it." That much, at least, she feels confident enough to ask about without ruining whatever Phobos may have planned.

Dressed in what looks like almost combat-appropriate boots and a black/dark purple version  of her usual outfit (complete with black hose to really try and look HARDCORE), Cantio is already somewhat uncomfortable looking when it's time to get back out of the ship and onto the hot suck planet. Spotting the outpost further up ahead with it's host of defenders, she takes a few moments to consider her options and tightening her grip on her big plasticky-metal purple sword while checking her protective gear one more time.

"I'll draw them out. If we just start rushing at them them, they'll have the advantage of maintaining a well-defended position." She indicates the mines, switching to her radio as she starts jogging around the perimeter at a rapid clip. "But if their attention is on someone slowly approaching them from the opposite direction..."

She doesn't emphasize further, instead stopping once she finds a decent-enough spot to approach the base and all of its mines from roughly the other direction of that beacon's drop point. She flings one of her drones into the air, slides some very cool and not overcompensating shades on, and she approaches the base.

A lively tune plays from the drone overhead, projecting the generic town-style music of Cantio's home towards whoever might be listening from the base. It's a rather pleasant sounding track, too, and Cantio starts firing lasers to the beat, blasting bright purple beams at the mines in her path while starting to walk forward slowly. She clearly isn't in a rush to get to the base so much as she's just looking to cause as many explosions to the rhythm as she can.
Timespace Riders      Aboard the Great Affront, Sougo Tokiwa's curious hand is gently guided away from a machine making concerning noises, by the hand of his retainer, Woz.

    "I'll just have a water, please. Thanks!" He manages to be kind and courteous to the floating skulls, despite obviously being a little spooked. He's still tired from his heart to heart with Persephone--but on the bright side, having been rather acquainted with the receiving end of 'fucked up' (gently, it should be stated), he seems confident he's got the tools for the job.

    He and Woz both take shields--though Woz makes some cryptic mention of only needing them 'for now,' whatever that may mean. Through the Teleportarium...

3!2!1! Fourze!

Huge! Destructive! Hearty!
Futurering Kikai!

    Kamen Riders Zi-O and Woz each select a powerup they feel appropriate for a raid on another planet--Zi-O's rocketship-themed, flight-capable Fourze armor, and Woz's brute-strength, robot-themed Kikai armor.

    "Good thinking, Cantio! Woz and I will give you a head start--then we'll hit them while they're coming after you. " After the noted head-start, the two Riders approach from the beacon's direction.

     While Zi-O flies around the perimeter to turn attention of the turrets and gun emplacements away from Cantio, he returns fire with guided rockets of his own.

     Woz, too, is on minefield duty, in a much more aggressive sense. Arms thrown wide in an arrogant display typical of him, his armor sprouts golden mechanical arms to dig up mines from a distance. He 'safely' disposes of them--by flinging them with considerable force at whichever ground forces get within range.
Persephone Kore      Persephone, whose keyhole sweater and armwarmers are a little too toasty even for room temperature, ought to be baking. But I wish it weren't so hot in here, and it isn't- the air circulates around her, the breeze gently tousling her hair.

     She pats a floating skull on the top of its head, thanks it, and accepts the water graciously. But then, that aura of warmth and gentleness that surrounds her could be enough thanks by itself.

     "This is something really important to you, isn't it, Phobos? Haha, I won't be rude and ask what it is! But out of what's left, do you think there's anything that'll be nice as a gift? I've got some friends back home who are really grumpy they couldn't come."

     She does not take a shield.

     When the group beams down, Persephone spends a few moments staring up at the blue star in the sky. Serenely: "Those are really rare, aren't they? I've never seen one up close before. Don't you wonder what colors the sunsets here are? Ahaha. I'm a little sad we won't be staying that long."

     For the moment, she seems perfectly content just to walk forward with the others, at least until they're fired upon.

     "You do have the tools for the job," she says to Sougo with a little laugh, apropos of seemingly absolutely nothing. "Just don't push yourself too hard, okay? I'll do my best to keep you safe if you need it. But people take rest days after workouts for a reason, you know!"

     The mining equipment up ahead does catch her attention. Closing her eyes, she sifts through its psychonarrative residue, trying to glimpse fragments of its past. The question she's asking isn't phrased in words, but if it were, it might sound like: 'why are you the way that you are?' Why this equipment? Why this dig? Why this effort?
Evehime Gevurah     Evehime is not with the Concord. The Gevurah has, in fact, never been known to cooperate with anyone in the Multiverse before. It is a major indicator of gradually shifting character, in the sense that a glacier or mountain shifts, that she has gravitated even this close to kind of helping someone incidentally. If asked why, by some brave idiot, she answers only "The sorcerer spoke that his god of war still walked this world."

    Mercifully, she spends the entire flight functionally sequestered in what appears to be meditation, speaking not at all unless spoken to first, and refusing to move or open her eyes from her kneeling repose even if she does. All the better for ship ceilings, cabling, and space greebles less than nine feet off the floor. She makes no complaint of the heat, and only one of the stench; for some reason, it's difficult to imagine something so mundane as a heat stroke even existing in her vocabulary anyways.

    It's not entirely obvious how she knows when the ship has stopped traveling. She simply stands up, claps metallic dust off her arms, and shows up at the teleportarium last, with the approximate energy of an infamous movie scene involving a dinosaur and a quivering glass of water. It is equally unclear where she got the gold-laced glass bottle she has just finished emptying, but all she says before the drop is "You have no intention of holding the planet. Unnecessary. But very well. It is good to know further ships will be coming. If I miss your own, I will secure another." She deploys without even more than her usual amount of clothing, never mind protective gear.

    Down on the surface, Evehime somehow even manages to teleport 'heavily', crunching the dust under her boots at the same moment the planetary wind begins tearing through her hair. She loosely holds up one arm to habitually shield her eyes from dust, but stares directly up into the blue sun in the sky. Breathing in of the radioactive metal stench, basking in the abominable heat on her skin, she seems to absorb the miserable experience for a while, and then says "Abhorrent. But it is new. Long has it been since I have seen any tribe attempt to conquer a world as hostile for a reason so small."

    She stops to pick up a rust-coloured rock from the arid surface. Tossing it once, her eyes follow its drop with uncanny smoothness, drinking in its motion in a way that suggests she might be gauging the planet's gravity. Satisfied shortly, she winds back and flicks her wrist to dismissively throw it away. A hissing vapour-streak of splintering gravel punctures the front face of an irritating spotlight, pierces the back, and ejects fragments of metal through everything behind it. Then she begins moving forward.

    Her voice raises so loud that it carries all the way from the drop point to the interior of the dig site, with a not at all subtle weight of inherent command and authority behind it. "Inventors of war! Is this all that your prize is worth?! You must know well that there is no owning, no deserving such a thing, beyond having the strength to keep it! Woe upon you, then, that you should have expected so little! Come then! Hurl yourselves upon me! Your slings and arrows and your fangs of knowledge and war-science! Bring before me your best warriors, your finest weapons, and show me that you are capable of valour!"

    Gauging the rate at which she is simply strutting straight towards the digsite, it really looks like she intends to let the Mechanics --as many as can timely respond-- throw the first punch at her, for whatever godforsaken reason. The upside of this could loosely be considered 'the line through the minefield she is about to clear'.

    "This is an ungentle place for you, Persephone, Hesed. Surely this hideous sight cannot simply be a matter of novelty for you."
    "Fragile?" Phobos emits a click, like a hard drive stalling.
    Then a synthesized chuckle. "It survived the last fifteen thousand years on that rock. At the very least. It is either already in pieces, or functionally impervious to harm. In either case, just secure a teleportation beacon by it. Even fragments of it are priceless."

    Turning to look at Persephone, Phobos smiling faceplate lights up brighter. "Absolutely priceless. If not to me, then to your organization. Hopefully? Both." A pause. "Gifts? The Mechanicus employs some of the most advanced technology in the galaxy. Weapons, armor, various utilities. Perhaps you'd like a tank? A lot of people say they'd like a tank. If nothing down there catches your eye, consider me indepted."

    To Evehime, Phobos replies delightfully: "I have interest in this planet, but not as much as I have in the relic. One thing at a time, yes? I encourage you to rip their fleet to shreds, if it comes to it."
Phobos     ON THE SURFACE:
    Cantio decides it is inarguably showtime. Mines detonate with weird bursts of gravity, harmless at a distance, but have the secondary effect of alerting the outpost guards. Sirens fill the air, scorching spotlights trying to lock onto her position. A squad of six Pteraxii warriors, armored cyborgs with rings, take off from the ramparts, firing bolts of lightning from their rifles!

    Zi-O makes for the larger more imposing turrets, rockets blasting a few apart with relative ease. Downside: they emit awful, toxic and radioactive green mist on detonation. Further downside: countless Skitarii (red-robed cyborgs) all track their rifles onto him. There are a few plasma shots in a mix of lightning and standard laser weaponfire. A fair few of those warriors are caught by surprise when Woz throws a chunk of the minefield at them, which is why they also call upon a Dunecrawler, a large armored tank on four insect-like legs. It has a plasma cannon and fires it at Woz while charging.

    Persephone interacts with the digsite as a whole. There are spirits here, not just people. The equipment isn't "alive and sapient", per se, but it has a psychic energy not unlike it. The Mechanicus went through great trouble not just to install the digsite, but to greatly appease, bribe and reward the Machine Spirits of the equipment to perform at peak efficiency, and not turn on them. She can still discern purpose: an artifact over 15000 years old, whose worth is as immeasurable as Phobos implied. Something that can't be built anymore, ownership of which offered the stars to humanity.

    Evehime issues a challenge, and the Mechanicus takes it. A trio of large red robots deploy for her - Knights - roughly fifty feet tall. Each wields an electrified sword, and different ranged armaments besides. Only one fires as they speed towards her, a purple blob of gravity that threatens to expand rapidly on impact and then compress into a tiny dot.
Timespace Riders      "Uwoh!" Unused to such organized and decisive counterattacks, it's all he can do to avoid the toxic hazards left behind by the turrets. The Skitarii find in him a target that's flying at less-than optimal condition, his barrel rolls and dips sluggish from prior exertion. Persephone's earlier advice is taken--but only once a few spark-flying impacts against his aerodynamic armor. Rather than try and make another pass in his current state, he fades his assault to switch tactics via a different powerup:

    A futuristic pocketwatch, with a familiar white doll on its face. 'QUEEN!' echoes through space when Zi-O presses the crown. Once the watch is slotted, the Timespace Driver's LCD chronometer reads AU11. The frantic ticking of a clock is heard, before Zi-O spins the Driver.

                                  ARMOR TIME!                                  

    A lifesized, halo-crowned doll emerges from a pink portal that appears before him, flying alongside the rider and cupping its cheek adoringly. Flawless white plastic gleams, with rounded pauldrons sporting a regal cloak of billowing smoke. It snaps into place and fits itself over him, the bodysuit beneath the plastic shifting to a deep, rich red. The halo above becomes an analog clock, and the helmet's face, a window into the glimmering expanse of space. Pink nebulas form katakana reading 'RIDER.'

                        Heart to Heart! Queen in Veils!                        

    "I'm gonna try love, understanding, and forgiveness!" A glimmering greatsword forged from a field of stars appears in his hand as he impacts the ground with a plume of rust-sediment. With each hewing, advancing swing, he sends spiral galaxies up to meet the Skitarii; rather than harming the planetary defenders directly, the projectiles destroy footing or outright sap the will to fight, where direct hits are made.

     "IWAE!" cries Woz, charging right at the quadruped tank. With his robotic arms up in a guarding position, the plasma cannon strikes him, eliciting a shower of sparks and staggering him, but fails to break his stride, physical or otherwise. "He is heir to the power of all Riders," proclaims the loyal retainer, the gold details of his robotic themed armor glinting as projectiles fly angrily through the air. "The ruler of time, traveling beyond time and space to reign over past and future..." The arms fan out, digging into the ground and propelling him forward, just as one snags another mine.

     "His name is Kamen Rider Zi-O Queen Armor. And in this moment, he has once again received the power of another Elite!" Sliding below the tank, Woz hurls the mine upwards at the last minute, before his waiting hand finds a spear materialized therein. Coming up on the opposite side, he makes two quick, forceful thrusts, one for each rear leg. Waves of golden energy explode outwards with each attack, adding to the force of both thrusts.

     He moves to join Zi-O after this hit-and-run, and the two of them regroup.
Cantio To Cantio's relief, the physical stability of the prize Phobos is pursuing proves not to be all that important compared to just getting some amount of it. That means she can focus her efforts entirely on dealing with the defenses as they come, however many of them there may be. She needs to make a good impression on the newer members of the Concord in Sougo, Woz, after all, considering that they're newly recruited members of the Concord.

Phobos and Persephone, too, although that's less about impressing new members and just looking cool to older ones! There's also Evehime to consider, too, as Cantio was a little too startled by her presence initially to really try speaking to her. She knows this might be a good chance to show the intimidating Human what she's capable of, though, and she hides her excitement as those spotlights turn towards her.

She doesn't boast, she doesn't announce her presence or her affiliation, but she doesn't try to avoid the lights. Instead, Cantio keeps moving forward slowly, leisurely even, while raising her sword to pick off the mines in her immediate path while her drone continues to play that incessant music. It takes those armored cyborgs showing up and shooting lightning at her for Cantio to finally start moving for real, leaping upwards to evade the initial barrage before transforming in a pillar of light into her powered up (and flight-capable) form!

It's also all black and purple, of course. At the next burst of lightning shots, Cantio charges right at the Pteraxii, flinging her sword forward and dispersing it into a trio of smaller swords to intercept the lightning in her stead. She misses a few of the blasts and clenches her teeth as the lightning shoots right through her body rather painfully, but it's not enough to stop her flight forward even with the smoke coming off her (cosmetic-only) thrusters.

Recalling the still-sparking blades back to her hand, Cantio connects them from one end to the other into an even longer, thinner sword that would otherwise be impractical to use on the ground due to how stupidly long it is. In the air, though, it's perfectly fine! She swipes, slashes, and stabs at the flying warriors in her first pass, waiting only a moment after passing them to abruptly rocket herself upwards and then backwards to start giving chase with yet more slashing and laser blasts from her obscenely long weapon to try and make short work of the six fliers opposite her.
Evehime Gevurah     Evehime trudges through the dust, inexorably forward, hair and scarf-shawl blowing out behind her in the arid wind, anticipating the approach of defenders with something almost approaching serene zen. When the knights finally manifest into being however, Evehime greets the sight of robots five times her size blazing towards her at full tilt assault speed with the ghost of a savage, canine grin. She throws up her arms as she moves forward into them, shouting "Come! Spearpoint! Vanguard! Break yourselves upon me and know that your Imperium is in error! Know what [man/humanity] is with your own eyes! Burn it into your souls and bring this sight with you to your Emperor!"

    She is making some assumptions based off of what a dork in a robe told her, but uncertainty doesn't seem to be about to slow her down or diminish her burgeoning enthusiasm.

    Only the Gevurah would do something as imminently suicidal as take the giant grav gun shot head on. Ostensibly for no other reason than it is one gun and one shot. The gravity bolt strikes her dead center in the chest. Her next forward step slow, then crashes down short. In that moment, everything from the subtle widening of her eyes to the sharp tension jumping into her muscles finally exhibits a full degree of 'alertness' that hadn't been present on the ship, as if she'd been fatigued and half asleep before. It feels like a tangible wave of pressure, the second her combat instincts activate, intuiting the nature of the attack.

    The stone beneath the sand crunches under her. The invisible fist of gravity clenches all around, drawing loose particles up towards where the bolt had struck her chest, in a rapidly accelerating stream. Every muscle in Evehime's tremendous frame visibly tenses and strains all at once as her own mass conspires to crush her. Drawing in a deep breath, she slams her hands together, and then throws apart her arms, and plants her grip against the encroaching walls of gravity.

    Divine-surpassing strength clenches around the fabric of space, and through sheer effort, holds it back. It is, physically speaking, nonsense. Absurd. One cannot push against crushing gravity as if it were a real grapple. But Evehime does. The sand stops flowing to her, then visibly judders backward. A limming crescent of cyan-gold light briefly flickers a full circle around her. And the gravity blast disperses first. Her grin grows wider.

    "Interesting! I enjoy this one already! My praises for bringing it to me!" says the Gevurah, and in the next eyeblink, there is an empty space with her footprints in it, and Evehime is planting an earth-shattering snap kick straight to the left knee of the knight. The sound of shattering metal comes a split second before the audible boom from her movement arrives.

    Aimed precisely to topple the mech suit forward, Evehime next reaches up to grab hold of its grav gun and tear it completely from its mount. She'll secure the ridiculously oversized weapon under one wrist, braced like a tonfa, and then she sidestep and rips the suit's melee weapon free with the other hand, before it crashes to earth behind her. "This weapon. The principle of mass, I believe. Let us see it. A constant to snuff out the small, or an equalizer, to crush the strong."

    She whirls and fires on the other two knights immediately, before they're allowed to reach her, somehow powering the weapon and planting the shots with deadly accuracy where she intuits the rider to be, still having the presence of mind to cleave into the downed knight with whatever melee weapon she can secure. Mainly, she wants to see what happens when she fires the gravity gun at a giant target.

    "I see a fortress ahead of me! You have more than a mere three warriors! You see now, do you not? Bring to bear your arms as if your survival is at stake! It is!" Evehime, of course, intends to keep ploughing forward, this time at greater speed to force the issue.
Persephone Kore      EARLIER: "A tank?" Phony cups the side of her face with a hand, staring off into space. Then she smiles. "Ahaha. That's completely ridiculous. So she'd love it a lot! Thanks, Phobos. You really are smart."

     NOW: "Ungentle?" Persephone pauses. The pause is, appropriately, filled with resounding explosions and distant beam fire. "Ahaha. I think there isn't anywhere so ungentle that I can't be gentle in it! And the thing we're here for is 'that which offered the stars to humanity'. Doesn't that pique your interest, too?"

     "But you're right that I'm not here because I enjoy it. I think..."

     A bolt of lightning comes uncomfortably close to her. Without a gesture or a glance, it gravitationally lenses around her body as if warped by the weight of a spiral galaxy and strikes the earth behind.

     Her eyes drift shut again. "... I feel indebted to everyone who made me the way I am. I didn't get here on my own. That means Sapient Heuristics, first. But it means the Concord second. They believed in our little project when we didn't have so much to show for it. That's why I joined at all, you know."

     They reopen. She smiles. "Your turn, Evehime. Did you really come here for a god of war whose name you don't even know? Or for me?"

     For her part, Persephone heads directly towards the digsite at a relaxed walking pace. She's likely to be intercepted by guards, but it's inordinately difficult to muster hostility towards her- even if they know they ought to shoot her dead on the spot, her vast aura of crushing gentleness passively squeezes the 'will to fight' out of those nearby.
Evehime Gevurah     Evehime, of course, has time for using the radio she has acquired but seldom used, when it amounts to Persephone answering her genuine question. She can talk and shoot at the same time.

    "As expected. You would not be so easily moved by sights that disagree with your nature. Else your commitment, your will, would never have been strong enough to achieve what you have already. But there is no harm in being assured"

    "Duty. Responsibility. One's own discipline and accounting. Those are powerful things. Take pride in them. Mind only that they not lead you to serving others out of guilt."

    There's a brief radio pause. "Out of all the millions of places to go amongst the Multiverse, it is better to seek those places that at least promise the possibility of something, than it is to go at random. At the same time, I do have some wish within me to see you as you are outside my domain. I have no reason to claim otherwise."
Phobos     The transformation seems to cause a brief pause in the attacking Skitarii. Machine Speak between them, loud and garbled, translates roughly to: "NEW TECHNOLOGY?" "NOT IN DATA BANKS." "PRIORITY: ACQUISITION." They hadn't seen the original transformations, but this one was quite more visible, and announced no less. Galaxies shoot forth and sap morale, causing advancing lines of Skitarii to miss shots, lose footing or stop fighting for a second. Something thunders, near the heart of the digsite, an order from above that causes the warriors' implants to light up bright blue. Their will to fight returns, their weapons go into overdrive, and lightning arcs from building to building, chasing after the newly armored Zi-O.

    Woz uses a mine to blast the Dunewalker, which is crushed under a blast of gravity. But his attempt to regroup with his overlord doesn't go unchallenged! A Skorpius Disintegrator - a red tank with too many cannons - slams through a nearby garage door to get in his way. It'll start by trying to run him over, but failing that, lasers blast out of a dozen smaller guns all across its sides, trying to pin him down.

    Cantio's transformation provokes a similar response in the Pteraxii attacking her, mutterances of technology and making acquiring it a priority. She makes short work of the first six - it turns out they're humans, under all those augments, but blasting and slicing them apart is enough to keep them out. This doesn't discourage the next wave, a duo of Kataphron Destroyers - cyborgs whose bottom halves have been replaced with tanks - from suddenly firing swarms of missiles towards Cantio. Arc missiles! All the aesthetic of a Macross Missile Swarm, with the punch of localized EMPs.

    Evehime makes no small impression on the Knights. Taking a grav weapon and walking it off? That's a feat for legendary heroes of old, MAYBE, nothing they have seen or believe exists recently. The chatter between the three pilots of the Knights is erratic, as they rapidfire different tactics and strategies, arguing in Machine Speak. Then Evehime just tears through one of the Knights with her kick. Then its weaponry. A finisher destroys both the Knight and its pilot, to the astonishment of the other two. One raises its massive sword, bringing it down with an overcharge that looks like it might well destroy everything in a ten meters radius. The other opens fires with its gatling cannon. Another new Knight rises from a deployment platform behind them, this one twice the size, and much more customized. A heavy cannon on its shoulder lowers, and it fires a stream of fuel and flames into the mess.

    Persephone makes for the objective, halting a number of cyborgs and even machinery in their paths. Even the Mechanicus isn't so completely inhuman as to resist that aura, but that's what forces a hand into motion.

    Archmagos Decima Drax, a ten foot tall mess of cybernetics, wires, extra limbs and weapons. Next to him, two large turrets he is directly hooked into, and around him, a visible energy barrier. "You OVERPOWER my UNITS with YOUR humanity? WHY? The RELIC belongs TO the MECHANICUS." He sees no further need to explain himself, which means the turrets open fire. It's radiation! A lot of it. Bright green beams of awful, sickly, burning feelings.
Cantio The discovery that the Pteraxii warriors are actually human has Cantio flinching briefly. Despite her attempts to harden herself, she still can't bring herself to just finish them off once they're no longer a visible threat. It does give her a little more warning time when the Destroyers come out, though, and more thoughts to juggle after realizing that they might be more interested in her tech than initially believed.

"Have you never seen this kind of thing before? Then..." She's not sure how to finish that in a cool-sounding way. The timing is wrong, anyway, as the cyborgs fill the area around her with those EMP-esque missiles, forcing Cantio to start taking actual evasive maneuvers, diving downwards suddenly and pulling forwards just before hitting the ground to lose only some of those horrid explosives. She swerves and climbs, mimicking movements she's seen from other fliers (badly) to try and outrun those missiles while heading on a collision with the tank-like defenders and folding her sword back into a more conventional claymore-esque shape.

"If you want to see more, then bring out someone worth showing it to!" Those missiles explode behind Cantio just as she transforms back into her normal state, the explosion shocking and singeing her back considerably while also propelling her forward even faster. She whirls herself around to thrust her blade downwards into the first Kataphron Destroyer's tank bottom, both to stop herself and to try and remove the person from the machine through brute force. She doesn't stay in place long, though, dragging the blade upwards forcefully and leaping towards the other one to try and cleave through that tankman's bottom half in one giant swing, relying more on her raw strength and precision rather than fancy flying and lasers*.

*The edge of the sword is actually lined in small lasers to help in the cutting process. It's just kind of hard to see past the purple metal-plastic.
Timespace Riders      "I'm flattered you like it!" Shouldering the starry greatsword in the din of battle, Sougo imitates Phony's cheek-cradle. "But... I need the Timespace Driver to be king. You'll have to look with your eyes!"

"Heretics," Woz spits at the Disintegrator, attempting to armor through the barrage in vain. Driven to one knee, "You dare think to steal from my Demon King?!"

             Dare Ja? Ore Ja! Ninja! Futurering Shinobi! SHINOBI!!              

    Flash-printed onto him by a suite of green lasers is a new cuirass, helmet, and stylish purple scarf. Woz's agility is greatly increased in the Shinobi armor--as evidenced by the plume of rusty earth kicked up by his dead sprint. Now outrunning instead of outlasting, his battle with the Disintegrator is one fraught with deer-scare, smoke-bomb teleports, attempting to beat the over-armed tank at its own game, saturating it with hardlight, oversized shuriken that explode after their initial impact.

    Aiming to disable its weapons with overwhelming application of these projectiles, Woz blinks across the battlefield.

    Together, the two Riders attempt to breach the defenses of the digsite. Charging forward, Zi-O with his space-bending greatsword and Woz with his now sickle-tipped polearm, the two mash the finisher buttons on their respective belts:

                               SHINOBI EXPLOSION!                              

                               GENTLE TIME BREAK!                              

    Zi-O's sword hurls a massive spiral galaxy. Slow moving, the projectile hardly seems a threat--until his burning kick slingshots around it, catapulting him towards the line of Skitarii. The explosive impact is the same as before, sapping will to fight; but, impacting each one also carries very real physical force. Enough to (gently) lift them off their feet and hurl them into the nearest solid object.

    Woz is less gentle. Doubles of him make a litany of kicks against the Disintegrator, each appearing and disappearing in smoke-flashes, before the real thing makes a flourish with his polearm, leaps into the air, and rakes it. A purple sickle of energy, crackling with lightning, hurtles through the air towards the Disintegrator as the retainer lands beside his king.

     "What's the status on getting that treasure? These guys have someone cheering them on!" Zi-O fully expects them to get up again--having friends to encourage you can be a really strong advantage.
Persephone Kore      "It isn't guilt," Persephone answers. And yet, she still flinches just a little. The radio pause that follows stretches on just half a tick too long.

     "The project gave me everything. You know that. All those trillions of people, and only I turned out this way. That could only be because of their care. And if they gave me everything, then I should be able to give everything back. They made my wish real, so I should make theirs real, too. Isn't that fair?"

     Deep breath in. Hold it. Let it out. "... Haha. Thank you, though. For being here. I really do appreciate it, Evehime."

     Phony reaches up and switches off her microphone as she approaches the inner sanctum. Ahead is a heart too resolute for her to conveniently sway. "It belongs to 'humanity', doesn't it?" she says. A sad smile crosses her face. "I-"

     Radiation beams pierce her body. Somehow, 'immediately being shot' was not a possibility she was braced for. She does not burn. Instead, her body's surface cracks to reveal a solid un-red interior, as if it were made of some rigid crystal that could shatter from thermal stress.

     Half a second later, she thinks I want him to stop that, and it stops; the beams are bent around her as if by a gravitational barrier. The cracks begin to be smoothed over, not by any organic process, but like they're being wiped away by an image transform: the world forgetting she was ever supposed to be hurt.

     "Why are you trying so hard to be awful to me? Aren't you human, too?" (That might just be a guess.) "I really don't want to hurt anyone. A treasure as important as this... something that once 'offered the stars to humanity'... don't you want it to go to someone who'll use it and reimagine it with love?"

     The two drones begin to groan and crunch under a building telekinetic force, as if they were falling into the deepest ocean abyss. But her heart's not really in it. Something about that conversation with Evehime drained her, and she's too tender to make fighting an impersonal thing.
Evehime Gevurah <J-IC-Scene> Evehime Gevurah says, "As vulgar as they are, I have already taken interest in their weapons, at least."
<J-IC-Scene> Evehime Gevurah says, "They betray some long-ago spark of passion for creation. Unconstrained imagination of principles."
<J-IC-Scene> Persephone Kore says, "Okay! You're doing a really good job."
<J-IC-Scene> Evehime Gevurah says, "I feel a hint of this weapon's soul."
<J-IC-Scene> Persephone Kore says, "Haha, you felt that too?"
<J-IC-Scene> Persephone Kore says, "I wonder how they get the little spirits in all of their things. It's really cute."
<J-IC-Scene> Evehime Gevurah says, "Perhaps not in the same way as you. But I believe that you would feel it as well."
<J-IC-Scene> Evehime Gevurah says, "The fragment of its creator, living on through its lineage of makes and models. One of the ways in which humanity practises 'divine multiplication'."
<J-IC-Scene> Evehime Gevurah says, "Or so I would put it."
<J-IC-Scene> Evehime Gevurah says, "If you say it is something as tangible as a spirit, I have no reason to disbelieve you."
<J-IC-Scene> Evehime Gevurah says, "There is a way with tools, weapons amongst them, that the love and veneration of its maker, its wielder, seeps into its steel with care and use."
<J-IC-Scene> Persephone Kore says warmly, "I think it is. Or something like it. Someone must have really loved these machines, once."
<J-IC-Scene> Persephone Kore says, "Now that I've seen them, I *do* want to take some of them home."

    Evehime's interest is piqued. Her desire is not yet close to slaked. She digs her fingers into the air, and tears it away, exposing a swirling void in her unfolded palm. Slapping it to the side of the grav gun, it disappears into the gap between threads of space, spaghettified as a spiral string of glittering particles. She snaps her hand shut and snuffs the void out of existence in her fist, then picks up the mecha sword in both hands. "I will be keeping these. Your struggles are yet worth something."
Evehime Gevurah     For all that strength, Evehime reacts to the gatling cannon before the first bullet is fired, her attention snapping towards it with uncanny alacrity at the distant sound of the barrel assembly motor revving up. She vanishes again-- and not in the fleet footed way of a speedster; a significant chunk of ground simply blows up under her, scattered as if hit by a small bomb. A streak of trailing black cloth and hair, trailing a thin line of cyan light, rapidly weaves a violent zigzag around and under and over the stream of pounding gatling fire, straining the knight's maximum traverse as she approaches the charging sword-user.

    Her last lunge takes her in a straight like. A stream of automatic rounds finds its mark pounds straight into her. Slugs shatter and spall against her, pounding into what should be mere mortal flesh, but leaving the marks of a flurry of light punches instead. It doesn't slow her at all. She swings her stolen weapon straight up into the descending power blade, not so much parrying as preemptively attacking the weapon with her own. The matched edges look as if they're about to clash together and explode, and then the uncanny precision with which she is using a multi-ton power weapon manifests in the moment she adjusts its trajectory enough to sever the knight's arm at the joint instead, not letting it strike her with its annihilatory overcharge.

    She catches that blade too. Evehime is dual wielding them. She slides around the disarmed knight to put it between her and the gatling cannon as cover, then leaps over it. A superhumanly violent spin pits the Mechanicus' finest weapons themselves, tearing into the knight in a multifold corkscrew pattern. She kicks off its topside hard enough to turn it into a crater, and twists over the blast of furious flames, the edges of her aura flaring bright where the searing heat clips her and sears her skin. She hurls one of the giant blades down like a javelin --perhaps more appropriately, like a depiction of Zeus and his lightning bolts-- aimed to critically skewer the fourth knight's engine. Her overwhelming assault continues on to the third, holding her remaining sword over herself as a giant shield against the gatling fire, allowing it to be destroyed by the heavy weapon to cover her approach, then smashing into its frontal plate hard enough to topple it over.

    The jagged bullet fragments and promethium flames caught in her halo spin around her at tremendous velocity, already tearing and melting into the third mech by mere contact. She brings a martial arts axe kick straight down into its cockpit plate, her strength more than sufficient to drive the fifty foot robot fifteen feet into the ground. The gatling gun and its ammo feed is her next target, slinging the belt over her torso and training the new weapon in the direction of the newly revealed archmagus. Specifically, Evehime is out to sweep the turrets that most closely guard the dig itself, reveling in the visceral enjoyment of the weapon's absurd noise and recoil while she empties Imperium shells into plasma and radium cannons alike.

    "Prizes indeed! Such fine make is wasted upon fools who can no longer strive for even finer!" Evehime laughs. Loudly. She's enjoying this tremendously.
Evehime Gevurah     The radio conversation is carried, but is relatively simple.

    "As 'Generosity' is your nature, so it is for you to be instructed by it, and then to embody it by returning it. I ask of curiosity, but also of wish for you to consider it, Persephone, would-be Hesed.

    "If you are repaying them with your actions, then when will the debt be repaid? On what day will what you have given them balance out with what they have given you? And then, on that day, what will you do?"

    Evehime never asks anyone anything non-rhetorically. She commands them to tell her whatever she wants to know. The break of habit is obvious.
Phobos     Cantio has a close call with some of those missiles, but it does pay off; the explosions and smoke cover her charge at one of the Destroyers, allowing her to slice its bottom half off. Cleaved in twain and disabled, it doesn't stop the other one, which saw what Cantio just did and adjusts accordingly. Sets of heavy claws burst out of its armored hands, and it catches Cantio's blade. Heavy sparks and ripples reveal an arcing energy field around the claws, the only thing keeping the sword from cutting through. Once its grip is secure enough, it powers the claws up, and its whole armor for that matter, releasing a cloud of WAR CRIME, also spelled PHOSPHORUS.

    Woz makes mercifully short work of the tank, peppering it with rapidfire ninja-themed explosives and then cleaving it open with his polearm. This allows him to easily regroup with his king, and help take down the Skitarii. The will-draining seems to have ceased working by this point, their implants having taken over - but the physical force of Zi-O's swing, and Woz being far less generous, are enough to scatter the warriors. Though their path ahead seems unbarred now, they can see multiple flying vehicles beginning to take off and readying plasma cannons en masse. It'd definitely be best to stop them from deploying!

    "HUMAN?" The Archmagos growls. There's not much humanity left in his face, with that respirator and those optics, but one of his arms is still a man's, though the flesh is pierced by enough wiring one might not immediatly notice. "Unfortunately, YES. Purity, AS the OMNISSIAH envisioned IT, has NOT been ACHIEVED yet." Despite the show of power she puts on, her words only seem to anger him. "Reimagine? REIMAGINE? This RELIC is ALREADY perfect. WE do NOT need IT tampered WITH. Repaired, IF need BE, but NOT modified!" The turrets break. Radiation leaks from them, almost as dangerous as direct beams. The Archmagos steps forward, his barrier following him. Tendrils tipped with arc spears and claws rush forward, trying to impale Persephone for her heresy.

    Evehime does her best impression of Raiden with incredible success. With two more Knights down, only the much larger ones remains. Impressively, that one doesn't buckle nearly as easily as the previous three. It has a shield around it, such that even the overloaded arc blade of another Knight only causes it to lose its footing momentarily - in exchange for which its forcefield very visible goes down. It readies two weapons, seeing the threat Evehime represents: its Volcano Lance, a very large laser cannon that glasses the very ground under their feet as it fires, all the while the other weapon is charging and heating up. It's a Conversion Beam Cannon, and all it wants in life is to turn its target into an atomic bomb with precisely calibrated and charged beams. It works better on stationary targets and fortresses, but Evehime probably qualifies as the latter by now.
Timespace Riders      "I shall handle the aircraft, my Demon King. Make your approach with Cantio!"

    "Right! Thank you, Woz!"

    The ninja-armored Rider makes a series of graceful, gravity defying leaps between the powering-up vehicles as they lift off. "Hah!" His sickle-polearm rakes across weapon emplacements one moment, before he smoke-teleports to another, pivoting impossibly midair for an energy-crackling cross kick on the cockpit of another. "HM!" Riding atop a third, he flings a five-point spread of exploding shuriken.

    "...but repairing *is* modifying it," says Zi-O, approaching the Archmagos thanks to Woz's devoted assault. "History doesn't have an end." Interceding--not because he doesn't believe in Phony, but because she wants to see what he can do--Zi-O's spatial sword clashes with the tendrils, flat of the blade used to blunt their impact, sparks flying from the grinding of his boots against the earth. "There's no finish line waiting for us; time doesn't have a will of its own. That's why it needs a king! To guide it and make sure it passes fairly for everyone!" Zi-O pushes back, straining against the assault--but his superhuman strength sees him slowly gaining ground. "That relic... once there was a world without it. It exists because someone wanted it to, not because time was waiting for it to be made."

     "Countless hands, hearts and minds 'modified' it on the workbench before you even knew it existed! If that's heresy... then so is all of the amazing technology that lets you and me have this fight!"

     The rider's armor sparks, scores dug into the gentle white plastic of the Queen Armor. Zi-O shouts with exertion, pushing forward to shoulder-check the Archmagos. A realization strikes him. "Your heart's too strong for me to reach you this way, isn't it? Because you were the one cheering your friends on, back there. Then I'll reach it the way Riders do."

     Removing the Queen Ridewatch from his belt returns him to the pink, silver and white Zi-O Armor. With a mash of the stop on the Timespace Driver, the wristwatch-themed armor announces:


     Pink 'KICK' katakana surround the Archmagos, each a tangible, burning hot construct. Zi-O leaps into the air, the katakana whirling around and colliding with his opponent, before flying up to imprint upon his rapidly approaching extended boot. He crashes violently into the Archmagos, with the heat of a brand, causing a small explosion on impact.
Evehime Gevurah     Her work done on the turrets, Evehime decides a giant gatling gun is entertaining enough to be used later, and crushes it into the void as well. She turns to face the sole remaining knight, hair swirling dramatically as she does. "I wonder if it is courage that drives you, or blind zealotry. Valour, or slavish devotion. Your venerated arms are worthy of mention, but I suspect that your spirits are not. I have seen already what compels you when that morale flags."

    "Steel has no fear, but it has no courage either."

    A laser cannon is, by laws of physics, not something that can be dodged on reaction. At least, the specific physics that Evehime doesn't decide work differently, actually. The volcano cannon strikes her directly, at the speed of light. Her surroundings turn into a flattened plane of smouldering glass in an instant, toxic fumes blown away in great, scalding geysers. She is briefly consumed in light and fiery smoke.

    As with all attacks that leave behind a bunch of smoke, Evehime's shadow becomes visible a moment later, and then the Gevurah herself in the center of the crater. An angry burn is rapidly blooming on her collarbone, her culturally ambiguous upperwear unfortunately destroyed. Her Halo blazes with captured light. The bullets captured in it have melted to white hot plasma under the heat, but even the laser itself, or rather what has spilled from her body as theoretical overkill, has been unwoven into strings of searing light orbiting around her like a black hole. The cyan-gold profile vaguely centered behind her head and shoulders shines through a rippling sphere of immense heat enshrouding her. She lays her fingertips to the burn with interest.

    The conversion beamer fires in staggered sequence after. Radiant light, shining pale sunlit gold and hazy sky blue, erupts from Evehime's right arm, and she charges straight into it, shortening the distance in the blink of an eye. There's just enough time to see the three overlapping rings resolve through the flash, and the gold frame and blue glass armour envelop her arm and shoulder, and then the antimatter beam directly strikes the face of the Divine Arm ~ ¤Expirasancti¤

    The beam strikes Evehime --or rather, the holy greatshield forged from the conquest of a god of heaven now affixed to her arm-- at nearly point blank range. This is probably a calculated move to try and annihilate the knight in the collateral of its own blast, but it coincidentally (or maybe even instinctually?) results in the conversion beamer having no room to pick up energy, antimatter scattering on the face of the shield and exploding dangerously close to Evehime instead.

    She then turns the massive barrier sideways, and with its edge of hardened light, swings it as an overpowered slicing weapon through the knight's legs, now that its forcefield is down. Both of them. When it begins to fall, she upturns the shield face to catch the hundred ton machine on top of it, and then with a single mighty heave, she makes the knight ~disappear~ into a blast of thunder, a supersonic vapour ring, and a heavenward streak of fiery air friction. A reverse meteor, rising up from the earth, set to land somewhere over the horizon.
Evehime Gevurah     And of course she's ripped the fucking beam off. Phobos' lure to action here was 'take every piece of technology you like'. Evehime appears to really like weapons. This is twice now. It's a bad habit.

    "Understand that this is what you might have been and yet failed to become. What use are the stars to those who stake their frail lives on the excellence of those ten thousand years ago. Revoke your fealty to your 'empire of man' and kneel in submission to absolute humanity, or die in battle instead, knowing that you have fallen against one who knows yet knows what heroes are made of!"
Cantio When Cantio hears Persephone requesting assistance and giving her a chance to show off what she can do, she's all too willing to shift gears just to get there. As much as Persephone's told her not to do it, though, she still can't help but worry at actually being asked for help in the first place. She still has to deal with the cyborg, though, and she recognizes the energy field for what it is.

Cantio doesn't recognize the WAR CRIMES being sprayed at her face. She lets go of her sword to get away from the MYSTERY GAS, though, and she can feel some of that lingering pain on her face that's not all too reassuring when she considers how much she could have breathed in. Something about that actually gets her temper flaring up, however briefly.

Even that brief moment is enough for Cantio to remotely shatter her sword, reshaping it into a miniature tornado of glass-like fragments. Some are certain to be caught by the energy field, of course, but those that aren't start swirling around the Destroyer, firing countless tiny lasers inwards to bombard them with a sudden burst of light magic.

She doesn't stick around to see what's left of the cyborg, though, as she rushes instead to join Sougo in aiding Persephone. Cantio throws herself in the path of some of the Archmagos' tendrils, spears, and claws, deflecting a few with her reforming blade while others bite into her flesh. Despite the obvious bleeding, she looks back at Persephone with a strained smile while reaching into her back pocket with her free hand.

"Hhh... I'm here, Phony! Sorry about the wait." She announces with as much confidence and bright eagerness as she can muster while bleeding quite a bit from those wounds, but still manages to pull a little plastic doohickey out before turning to the Archmagos.

"I can't turn down a request from Phony, so you'll be the lucky one to see what unyielding progress and sleepless nights look like!"

Raising the plastic device to eye level, Cantio flicks the side as a cartridge-like stud flips out from inside of the greeble's main body. There's faded gray bits on it along with newer-looking red and purple motifs painted on top. She slides the cartridge end of it into the base of her sword, pushing it in with a satisfying shnk noise and then thrusting her blade into the ground.


Her blade lights up, and a chaotic mixture of primary-color yellow, blue, and red text surges out of the greeble while guttural digitized noises start coming out of the device. It all swirls together until it becomes an unreadable white soup, then explodes into a pure blackness with even more industrial grinding noises that actually start sounding like a backing track after a while.

Stars illuminate the area behind Cantio, eventually forming into digitized spaceships that blast at the tendrils still suck in her, then turn into heavy-looking pieces of black armor with red and purple accents that clamp onto her limbs and face, extending from her back like mechanical wings/thrusters without being connected to her in any way while a similar pair of red and purple spikes jut out of the side of her helmet like a pair of antenna or early 2000s robot-girl ears.


After striking a dramatic pose with her sword, Cantio aims the tip of her blade at the Archmagos not unlike she's holding a gun (somehow) while standing besides Zi-O . "With the type of technology and how far humans have come here, how could you possibly think this is perfect? They have far more potential than your gods or someone like me, there's still so much more room to improve. You've come this far, so don't stop before you've even finished!"

Cantio leaps, then promptly torpedoes herself right at the Archmagos, sword pointed forwards as she spins not unlike a drill to try and punch right into/through the barely-human's body in time with Sougo's katakana-swirling kick. This also explodes on impact.
Persephone Kore      Persephone has absolutely never learned to be on her guard. Why would I need to be, when I can tell what everyone is thinking and nobody can touch me? And yet, she has enough warning on the lunging tentacle attack to simply instinctively wish it away.

     I wish those wouldn't touch- "Cantio?" Oh no.

     "... Ahah. This is wrong, you know. You're not supposed to get hurt for me." Phony lays a hand on Cantio's shoulder and looks down at the shorter girl. Her lips are parted in a scattered, mournful smile. "Didn't I tell you? If you get hurt for me, then I'll have to carry that too. It's never easier. So please don't."

     Phony lets go with an exhalation that is almost, but not quite, a sigh. "It can't be helped now. Don't say sorry. Just do your best, okay?" She watches until Cantio and Sougo are done. Then she turns away and walks towards the center of the dig site.

     "On what day will what you have given them balance out with what they have given you?"
     Phony reaches up and turns her radio's microphone back on. "I know on what day. When I've managed to give everyone else what I have. When everyone can reshape the world just by wishing, and the state of the world is only the state of people's hearts. That's Sapient Heuristics' dream. I have to carry it until the end."

     "And then, on that day, what will you do?"
     She stops in her tracks for just a moment. "I'm... ahaha. I'm not really sure. To tell you the truth, I have a hard time imagining past that. Because it still feels so far away." She pauses. "I think then I'll be selfish, just a little bit. Until I've gotten my fill of it. That'd be nice, don't you think?"

     Phony reaches out her hand towards where the artifact is buried. The ground itself begins to swell and split like an earthquake in slow motion, heaved upwards by the enormity of her psychic gravity. Chunks of earth and nebulae of dust levitate and swirl in a gentle dance around the exhumation point. Phobos had said that there was no need to be gentle, but Persephone couldn't be rough if she wanted to.

     Whatever there is beneath the earth that the digging machines had sought to uncover, it is seized and tenderly borne upwards by that irresistible force.
Phobos     Woz begins his great quest to impress his king by destroying armored aircraft. Judging by the explosions, it is going very well, and will keep things from escalating for a little while.

    Zi-O intercepts the blows meant for Persephone, much to the Archmagos' dismay. And utter rage. "NO. To REPAIR is TO uphold THE original PURPOSE of AN object! TO repair IS to RESTORE, to RESPECT, the OMNISSIAH'S great TECHNOLOGIES. Unauthorized CHANGES are A disrespect! A tainting OF purity! ONLY we ARE qualified TO ascertain THE necessary!"

    The Archmagos grips his axe, the Mechanicus' emblem unfurling at the top into arcing spikes and blades. "WE already HAVE a KING! It IS not YOU. The OMNISSIAH will PROTECT us IN our QUEST to RESTORE his GLORY."

    He attempts, best as he can, to attack Zi-O in his brief moment of switching his armor off. He is met with a kick instead, which sends him flying back, barrier pierced. He might, also, explode, but oddly be relatively whole and not dying afterwards. Enough so that, back on his feet, he reveals a new array of weaponry from underneath his red robes, each more admissible as a war crime than the previous.

    Which makes Cantio's timing quite excellent. She did her best to shake that Destroyer off, shredding it with countless lasers, and her little show distracted the man long enough that he didn't open fire, fascinated by the new toys before him. Until the sword drilled through him. That part, definitely less fascinating and pleasant.

    The tumbles backward, oil and blood mixing together. Rasping, he intones: "You. THIS heresy AGAINST our ORDER. We WOULD rather DESTROY this THAN have IT fall INTO your HANDS! Our FLEET arrives, IT will BRING the FIRES of MARS to YOU and YOURS!"

    That was his last, sadly. He won't be there to see the threat carried through himself. From his axe, the telltale beeping of a self-destruct resonates, and it's not hard to guess the entire facility might be linked to it.

    Thankfully, your prize is not far. Many thick underground vault doors are easily bypassed by Persephone, granting access to a large hollow metallic sphere, roughly six feet in diameter. It contains countless whirring parts, projectors and odd computer systems that can't be made sense of, such that gives the impression the sphere is able to reconfigure itself into a number of different appearances. If it were powered, among other little fixes.

    If she attempts to feel it, she'll see the object's history. Over twenty thousand years ago, it was made to assist colonists in building new settlements in unlikely places. It provided knowledge and plans to do the impossible, like shielding this planet from its star. Its civilization died out, though, and the object was burried here following countless explosions.
Phobos     Evehime, meanwhile, makes an absolute show of her superiority. Even a Knight armed with weapons of old wasn't able to pin her for long, and she just launched it into space, or evaporated it outright. Bystanders certainly couldn't tell the difference. And though defenses don't pause their assault - automated turrets, spotlights and the like keep firing at her - it's only the automated ones that don't let up. The actual people? They've fallen back to regroup, between everything that's been inflicted to them already. They're not throwing any more of their valuable technology to be absolutely obliterated by this freak. Not until they figure out a better way to deal with her. They might well be bidding their time for their fleet to arrive and just glass the entire area, if that's what it takes. If only they knew.
Timespace Riders      There's no arguing with a sword through the chest. But it isn't that which has distress weighing down on Zi-O's armored shoulders, darkening his heart like stormclouds.

    "...he'd destroy this place, and himself with it, before he would have... why? People are more valuable than things." Turning to Cantio, "What kind of king would let his subjects throw themselves away like that?"

    He knows what kind. His head hung low, Zi-O realizes that, with the timer running, there really isn't much time to waste.

<J-IC-Scene> Sougo Tokiwa says, "Phony... if you can find the bombs, I'll break whatever connection this thing has to them."
<J-IC-Scene> Persephone Kore says, "Sure! Ahaha, thanks, Sougo."

    There are two Zi-Os.

     One of them emerges from a pink portal, armored in the rocket-themed Fourze armor. Frost clings to the armor, a result of a sudden, extreme change in temperature. The Archmagos' axe is in his hands, but the uplink is done for. Phony's psychometry shows not only the information she seeks, but the past few minutes. Or, more accurately, the *next* few minutes.


3!2!1! Fourze!

    Present!Zi-O takes the present axe, still blinking, and, using the thrusters on the Fourze armor, rockets into the sky. Past that--up and out of the atmosphere, into the cold vacuum of space. He keeps flying until the indicator stops blinking. Until he can turn back time and complete the loop.

    Once that's done, and there's only one Zi-O remaining, he quietly leaves for Phobos' beacon, his retainer in tow.
Persephone Kore      Persephone touches the surface of the sphere reverently, as it levitates in the center of a spiral galaxy of metal and debris. "There you are. You're really beautiful, aren't you? You did such a good job looking after those people back then. Don't worry. We'll have you in good hands soon."

     "Cantio, can you get this to where it needs to be? They might try to break it just because we have it."

     Once that's done, she accepts the axe graciously from the frosty future Zi-O. Her face is lit up with starry admiration. "Ahaha. Demon king of time: were you maybe going easy on me? I showed you everything, so I'll be really mad if you were holding out on something like this!"

     She lays a hand on it, and sees what she needs to see: where each of the bombs for the self-destruct are hidden. Each one is individually squeezed with enough telekinetic force to crush it into exotic states of matter instantaneously. This is perceptible as a distant series of muffled crunches.

     "There. Nothing more to worry about! Great job, Sougo." Then, and only then, is she ready to leave at her typical lax pace- though she does stop to render healing to the wounded she comes across on her way out.
Cantio "This? I-it's nothing!" Cantio tries reassuring Persephone while ignoring the pain in her parts, trying to wash it off with some convenient healing magic that's... Well, she'll still need to get it checked out, but it makes it a lot easier to ignore for now.

If nothing else, she's definitely trying really hard to maintain that brave face. It still kind of stings, though. At Persephone's request, Cantio smiles a bit more confidently and smacks a hand against her chest (and promptly hides the wince). "Of course! I've got plenty of hands once we need them, even if it's all scattered everywhere."

With the Archmagos' self-destruct device ringing as he tries to get one last laugh against the Elites, though, she doesn't have much more time to focus on herself as she instead moves to start heading deeper into the structure once Persephone opens the path. She shakes her head lightly at Sougo's question, looking troubled again as she considers the Archmagos' last words.

"One that doesn't really care about his people. A ruler can't just rest on their laurels, but to go that far in the wrong direction... It's depressing to see places ruled by people like that." She answers Sougo, furrowing her brow after a few mioments.

"I wish I could say I haven't made similar mistakes before, but... I'd like to think I've learned from them, at least." She adds, taking a cue from Sougo to split off two more clones of herself when he calls out his other selves.

Now, there's Action Master 52 cantio, Thief Cantio, and Nurse Cantio, all ready to help with the heavy lifting before it's time to go!