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|Rita Ma|| The request for aid comes via frantic, staticky radio transmission. Arrival is by warpgate, which places you on a small 'raft' made from empty steel barrels, doubtlessly made just so the warpgate could be accessed by walking rather than swimming.
A flimsy, fifty-foot-long bridge connects it to the artificial island: jagged slabs of stark concrete lay against each other above the waves, against which a beached formerly-floating oil rig has come to rest. Something like a shantytown has been built atop the rig, spilling out onto the island.
It is midnight, and the shattered Moon trails its silvery guts across the sky. Things down here on Earth don't look much better.
The sea froths white with densely-packed lashing fins and snapping jaws. Hundreds of worms, crustaceans, and fish have all been twisted into monsters each the size of a car at minimum, and they make even crossing the bridge to the island an ordeal; they swarm as densely as piranhas and all show a rabid, suicidal hunger towards anything vaguely humanoid, biting and snapping and clawing to drag whatever they can catch into the collective blender beneath the waves.
The island's coastline was once defended with sharp metal spikes pointing outwards. Those are now clogged to uselessness with the impaled bodies of monsters, over which still more clamber or slither onto land. Of its four machine-gun-equipped watchtowers behind the spikes, two are toppled outright, one has had its crew killed, and the fourth is manned by a deathly terrified villager whose gunfire hardly makes a dent in the swarm. A leechlike creature slithers up the tower's side behind him, arching to strike.
The towers' bright searchlights illuminate glimpses of what's happening in the streets. Dozens of chewed or crushed corpses lay in the open. The living flee to higher ground, which is rapidly running out. A mother kneels on a shanty rooftop, her children in her arms, as a crab-like beast hammers at the walls to bring the whole building down.
On the far side of the island, a tentacled sharklike monster sinks its jaws into a storage tank. Oil gushes out and a spark catches. Flames spill out, spreading over the ocean's surface. Dozens of the monsters are burned to death, but it threatens to spread to the oil rig itself, pinning those who've fled to it between the burning ocean on one side and the encroaching beasts on the other.
If it's allowed to go on like this, everyone on the island will be dead in minutes. It's hard to tell how many are left alive as it is.
|Kale Hearthward||The aid request goes out.
It takes fifteen seconds to filter through Paladins analysis and control, where it's categorized, verified, and sent onward to the list of on-call response teams.
It takes ten seconds for Kale to speed-read through the information as it pops up on his phone, and hit the 'accept' button that it presents him.
It takes twenty seconds for his unit to emerge from the barracks, make the short run down the hall to the next-door hangar, and get on board their aircraft. It's five seconds to start the craft, five to confirm flight clearance, and five to fly through the base's warpgate.
Commonwealth Search & Rescue would like to formally apologize for the excessive delay in responding to your aid request. Our response time has automatically been logged for review, and will be used for future training purposes.
The Paladins-ID VTOL arrives on scene. "Contacts," says the gunner, to which Kale nods. "I see them - I'll make a hole."
He jumps out of the side of the VTOL, clicking his boots on as he does so and jetting off towards the center of the island. Quickly, while trying to (and largely failing) to dodge the assorted assaults, he looks for a central spot for it to land, one that the fires aren't as likely to get to (or at least get to as soon), and sets about trying to clear it - largely by blasting away any nearby monsters with a barrage of high powered wind spells!
|Ishirou||Ishirou is still hurting a bit. The AVCS hasn't been fully repaired, and the R.E.S.C.U.E unit wasn't developed enough for deployment. Neither was he about to lay back when he could be helping people who definitely need it.
So the damaged, but operable AVCS deploys. It soars over the desperate flight, homing in on monsters approaching an oil rig with people on it. Likely hiding there from the initial assault. He spins around, doing a loop as his scans attempt to see if there were any trapped between there and the maw of the monsters.
Only to see one of the monsters eating a barrel...
"Oh, shit don-" the explosion is pretty noticeable. Ishirou, however, is caught in the range of the blast, attempting to stop the monster. Flying out of the fire, covered in oil and fire Ishirou attempts to use fire retardants both on himself and the fire to try and keep it from spreading.
Of course, there is the other problem with the approaching storm. Ishirou goes over options in his head. Fire and explosions are likely a bad idea. Cold isn't likely going to be effective given that these are deep sea creatures. Lightning seems to be the /safest/ of the options.
So with that, he soars up and over the hoard. He launches a barrage of spikes toward the hoard. The spikes attempt to impale the creatures from the sky, before following it up with a second blast of magic. Lightning falls down, aiming to follow the path of least resistance and through those spikes.
He also looks for a better path for these people on the rig, or is he going to have to clear a path through the monsters? The oil fires are not going to go out any time soon.
|Lilian Rook|| 'Sea monsters' don't bring Lilian any pleasant memories. Moreso than any other type of monster. The Semitone was bad enough, but the cloud of malaise surrounding what happened, with Rita, is a burning smog of unfair feelings that'll take a while to dissipate. Before she even gets there --which doesn't take long-- she's already thinking about how much she hopes she won't encounter her there. Even if everything is supposed to be alright between them now, Lilian would rather not test it.
Loading up with armaments and pulling on her Immunes grade combat skin, Lilian calls for Sword Unit, but doesn't expect they'll arrive in time with this kind of urgency. Only stopping for Tamamo what she sees first through the Warpgate is . . .
All Lilian can do for a moment is stare. Try to take in what is happening here. As a Paladin first responder, she's used to arriving in the middle of the action, but this is her first time arriving so close to 'too late'. The feeling that she might be too late for anything is briefly so nauseating she rocks on her feet. There are so many people dead already. So much destroyed. People who've done their very best to prepare, and it simply didn't matter; the monsters don't care about the price they pay, and their lives are worth nothing compared to the human lives lost, and about to be lost.
"Calm. Focus. First things first, Lilian." she chants, where nobody can hear it, the only voice able to sound soothing being her own. "Crisis assessment. Triage. Triage. Perimeter gone to shit. We'll have no end of them. Fires come before that; the rig still has oil to blow. Prioritize. Survivors; who can we still exfil? Highest ground can reach the craft. Lower ground. Conserve resources. Plot out how much time it'll take. Shortest path. That gunner is dead. He failed. The fires I can't stop in time. The mother . . ."
Lilian lingers for a full subjective minute. She shakes her head, clapping her cheeks with both palms. "Write off. Write them off. Write something off. Find a string to pull and do it already." Her feet don't move. "Pick a target. Pick a direction. Plot it out. You can see the fucking future, Lilian; optimize it!" Still no motion. "Be realistic! What did you just say yesterday?! Nobody can fault you for not saving everyone! You don't hesitate in this situation! The many outweigh the few! You're an Immune, a Paladin, a professional not a storybook--"
"You don't have the--"
Lilian stumbles a standstill, just a little flicker in her stride. She looks bewildered. An assault rifle comes down from over her shoulder and wedges against her shoulder by automatic reflex. She stares through the holosight, at the hapless gunner, at the refugees cowering from the fire, at the mother hiding her children, at the much more pressing horde, her finger wobbling on the trigger.
"No. That's not true. I have all the time in the world."
|Lilian Rook|| Lilian tears at her sheathed sword. She takes one lunging step forward, and the gun falls out of empty space and clatters to the ground before her foot falls.
Armoured boots clang twice against the watch tower nest wall. The gunner is shoved to the ground. He gets barely a glimpse of a woman in black turning the lunging leech into two long strips of flesh and a spray of slime and gore.
The hammering on the shed abruptly stops. Hideous screeching barely sounds for a quarter second amidst a flurry of shell-splitting cracks and viscous wet splashing. Lilian turns her back to the occupants for a moment, hair blowing out behind her, and is gone like a mirage.
Refugees pinned by the fire are subjected to the feeling of strong, armour-clad arms. The phrase "Don't panic. Keep moving to higher ground." is left ringing in their ears, without explanation for how they suddenly found themselves halfway up the rig.
Lilian reappears at ground, in a scatter of butchered scales and hide, surrounded by a perfect circle of clear concrete, and a vast outward spray of blood spread without. Her firearms and explosives are gone, her combat skin subsumed; it's only the blood-soaked sword in her hand and the silvered black armour still on her.
"Register. Fires. Who's handling it? Guns. Get new crew. Perimeter defenses. Someone get on it now. The rest of you, exterminate everything with any number of legs other than two." There's barely a pause. "Report! Or I'll handle it all myself and throw you gowls into the ocean to figure out the monsters!"
|Cantio||A distress call comes on over Cantio's radio as she's in the middle of some very important* work** at home, and the grim-sounding situation is enough to get her to tag in one of her clones to handle the rest of her duties while she takes a detour to the coordinates given by the man at the concrete island.
When she arrives, she sees the chaos unfolding, and she breaks into a sprint across the rickety bridge to find a better vantage point sooner rather than later. That takes her right into the swarm, forcing the Candidate to bring out her sword within moments of her arrival to defend herself on one side even while they're biting and clawing at her from the next. She suffers only surface wounds, luckily, but she's already plotting how to best aid the gunners to fortify what few defenses are left even as she clears some space around her with a spinning slash from the laser-enhanced weapon.
Two more Cantios appear behind her immediately afterwards. The original Cantio (in her usual white and purple) starts fighting her way towards the fallen towers in the hopes of confirming whether or not anyone's still alive in there. She's visibly the stronger of the three in terms of raw physical ability, just cleaving into as many of those creatures as she can while moving ahead rapidly and occasionally doing some weird spread-blasts of lasers to try and draw more attention towards herself.
The other two (thief-styled and knight-styled) both head towards the manned tower, shouting loudly and generally making a show of slashing at and blasting the sea monsters with their laser swords as they aim to relieve some of that terrified villager's fear.
"Don't let up on the gunfire! Just make sure to aim, and we'll keep you covered here!" Thief!Cantio calls out while doing some sick flips to get closer to that manned tower, prompting Knight!Cantio to follow up with a more straightforward leap onto another monster's head to drive her sword right through it on landing. "Did you see anyone else near the other towers?"
|Tamamo|| Tamamo's senses are assailed by the waves, the thrashing fins, the gnashing teeth, even more so by the sight of mother and child in danger, but of all things, it's the moon that she can't immediately draw her eyes away from.
"What could have...?" It's the first time she's seen that celestial sibling broken, as distant a relation as this one may be, even if this, too, is Earth.
"Oh, no! There, on the rooftop!" It's enough that she's slow to properly react to the immediate danger, and it's more her fellows and her prepared defenses that save her, rather than her own reflexes. Arcane shields are made so as to be broken in place of more serious injury, and so, that much is fine, but it's a poor trade to play such cards before first making progress in any direction.
'Forget the individual monsters at range. I have them before you do.'
'I see it, Tamamo!'
"Ahh, then-- oh, dear-- Lilian, if you can carry me part of the way, I can reach the fires." She'll simply trust that other matter to be handled, and put to use the wide-reaching nature of her own powers to an issue of malevolent spread.
Once Lilian has successfully relocated her somewhere with clear lines of sight to the oil fire -- and after Tamamo has taken the opportunity to slip a few extra healing talismans into Lilian's hands, for use on those who need them -- Tamamo gets to work. The talismans she pulls are named as she casts them, fluttering, into the air.
"Utpala," a sunless word. A word that sounds cold. It's a hellish curse in a very literal sense, though the effect is rather pretty. Ice spreads out from each in the air, extending from the broken talismans in the patterns of a lotus flower opening its many petals. Only for their great size do they seem to float gently, crashing thunderously into the water below, snuffing out first the air that would be drawn to the fires directly below them, and then the lives of anything unable to survive the flash freezing that extends from every impact.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| Please hurry, or there won't be anyone left!
In short order, a figure in a scarf bounds through the Warpgate, touching down on the shoddy platforms it sits near for only a moment - the next, Hibiki threatens the stability of the massed barrels for a moment as she kicks off and into a high leap rather than taking the bridge directly. It was actually just to close in as quickly as possible, jumping to clear the gap as rapidly as she can, but the aerial view she gets at the peak of it also happens to be a good way to see a whole lot of what's going on.
Bodies, everywhere. Monster...and human. Panic in the streets. Chaos. An enemy they can't fight at all. Even on the walkway below, the water is roiling with inhuman things. No...it's the whole ocean surrounding the island. More than she can count with just a momentary glance.
It all hits too close to home. But at least the monsters of her world don't leave behind bloodied corpses.
She's in such a rush, she doesn't even process that this concrete island is...
"I see it, Tamamo!" That mother, and her children. The gunner, about to be run through from behind...and in slow motion on her descent, she can just barely catch the glimpse of movement on both fronts as a certain someone makes their impossible move between the scenes and keeps on going. "...! Alright--"
She hits the street, fires off her skirt thrusters for a sudden burst of acceleration, and pushes on towards the family left behind at the shanty. In the process, her fist rears back--and she goes to blitz past street after street and haphazardly brute force her way through any and every monster in it to reach them, leaving a mess of bludgeoned bodies in her wake.
"I'll get as many survivors over to you as I can, Kale!" By the time she's skidding to a stop, she's radioing back to Kale and leaping up on top of the half-smashed housing. A glance is given back up to the VTOL that Kale brought in and deployed from, then to the mother and kids with a grimace.
"...Head that way. It'll be a lot safer than here. I'm going to make sure you can get there in one piece. Anyone else still alive here, too."
Which is going to mean a whole lot of monster extermination.
|Lilian Rook|| As always, Tamamo only need ask it from Lilian, and it is so. Blink. "Hold on." She is hoisted up in arms that could be solid sculpted metal, and held against where a breastplate was irrevocably removed from the narrative, warm and softly throbbing with magic, like a heartbeat. Blink. The tip top of the rig. Out of danger, with unlimited lines of sight. Blink. A squad automatic, assault rifle, two submachine guns, two handguns, a disposable launcher, twelve fragmentation and six high explosive grenades, are dumped at Cantio's feet. "Get these to whoever looks to be in fighting shape. I don't need them." Blink.
Lilian hits her comms. "If we don't secure the perimeter we'll be fighting endless waves of these bloody bastard things. Don't fire randomly into the horde. We don't know how many are still arriving from the ocean; there's blood and motion in the water. We need field control. Damage control. Herd the survivors up top. Don't go heroically chasing random stragglers; call them out to me. I have them." Lilian then holds a glowing fingertip to her throat, amplifying her voice. "This is Dame Commander Lilian Rook of the Paladins Elite response forces! Move as fast as you are able to higher ground and await exfiltration! Do not leave wounded behind! Do not send anyone ahead of you unless you are prepared to fight! Do not engage the sea monsters at immediate risk of your own life! If you are unable to move, signal to our aerial recon! Nobody else has to die today!"
|Rita Ma|| The safest, least fire-susceptible spot Kale can find is the inland side of the beached oil rig, where steel meets concrete and the shanties are dense. Sightlines are broken up, here, which is bad when surrounded by melee-oriented monsters. Blasting the monsters is reasonably effective, but they're so focused on taking a bite out of him that pain hardly staggers them at all, and their size means he has to penetrate deep to hit anything vital. As several close in on him, one with long tendrils reaches skyward for his VTOL.
Lightning is, in fact, a safe bet, as Ishirou finds. At least a few- those hit most directly- are killed by his opening salvo, while those nearby are stunned and scorched as it jumps to them through the seawater, slowing their advance. But flight isn't an absolute defense; the monsters crawl over each other to get at him, forming a seething wave of flesh twenty or thirty feet high. The uppermost monster leaps, jaws snapping.
Aside from that imminent threat, the people on the oil rig are in as safe a place as they can be (which isn't saying much) unless he wants to cut them a path through to Kale's evac zone, which is doable but difficult.
The gunner in the tower screams when Lilian pushes him down, but it turns to a strangled gasp of surprise and relief when he registers her slaying the huge leech. "Aaaah- wait!! Who are-" And then she's gone. Cantio rouses him, though, and he retakes the gun. "Okay! I- we had a retired Harpoonist by one of them! But I don't think anyone's still alive..."
He's fortunately wrong. The other Cantios find their attacks effective enough to carve a path through to the fallen towers. A couple of people are pinned under the debris at each one, ignored by the monsters for being half-buried. One of the guns looks operational. One of them is a gray-haired man breathing raggedly, with a horrific bite wound on his torso. His bicep has a circular tattoo, and a strange pneumatic spear is buried next to him.
Lilian's efforts clear out her immediate area, of civilians and monsters both. The latter don't stay gone, but they're easier to handle without the former. Gradually, she manages to assert some form of order; the survivors from the concrete island aggregate at the highest point they can reach (near Kale's VTOL), but the larger number still on the oil rig are still badly hemmed in. The structure itself is likely honeycombed with residences, with who-knows-how-many people still inside.
After Lilian slays the crablike monster, the mother on the rooftop finally opens her eyes that were scrunched shut in terror- and finds Hibiki standing there. "Oh! Thank you so much," she gasps. Then, a moment later: "Aren't you a little young to be a Harpoonist? Will you really be okay?" She largely will. Against creatures that have their vital organs buried under so much surplus flesh and bone, blunt-force impacts are a good solution; hewing a path for just that family to the LZ is within her power, though monsters swarm back in to close it afterwards.
Tamamo's killing frost succeeds in extinguishing the perilous oil fire and paralyzing, for a time, the sea monsters' ingress. But though their threat comes from quantity over quality, in any group so large there are bound to be dangerous outliers. A tank-sized lobster-like beast with scything claws bursts through her ice after a tense pause, and once the ice has begin to crack, lesser beasts start to pull themselves free as well.
It's the lobster-monster that poses a stark and imminent threat to the mission, next. Seizing the oil rig with its claws, it strains to drag the entire oil rig into the sea, and operating by instinct or something else, other monsters join in the effort. Metal grinds against concrete as the beached rig begins to slip dangerous inches ocean-ward.
|Ishirou||The monsters work in some sort of coordinated assault? Ishirou tries to pull up, but before he can the wall of creatures smashes over him, dragging him down into the water. It's awful, and he's smashed and forced to fight on unfavorable terms. Ishirou isn't sure what's going on here, but he has a /guess/.
When the giant lobster monster surfaces, he has to rethink his plan for a moment. He uses a laser sword to cut through a monster who is trying to drag him down, before bursting out of the surface of the water, leaving a growing pool of purple blood.
He spins, aiming to fire a coordinated attack on the back of the Lobster, before firing a ball of energy into its back. He pushes everything he can, attempting to look for a sort of link between it and the other monsters. Then he'll flood the link with confusing information, aiming to turn the monsters on themselves.
Or it'll just turn the lobster on the other smaller crustrations. Either way, he'll learn if there is a bigger mind directing everything or not.
|Cantio||Lilian drops off a pile of weapons with Cantio, and she's a little bewildered at first at the sudden pile of stuff to work with. With little reason to refuse, though, she blurts out a mildly confused, yet affirming "Got it!" before turning her attention back to the gunner once she reaches him.
"A Harpoonist? Sounds like they might have a better idea of how to handle these, then. Don't worry! We'll get everyone to regroup, so sit tight and keep firing. The Concord is here to help! She reassures the gunner while whirling around to impale another creature with her blade, wincing as it still manages to sink its teeth into her arm in the process. She fights through the pain, though, cramming her sword in deeper before firing off a barrage of lasers from the inside to free her arm and then start relaying information around between herself, the clones, and the rest of the group.
"One in the gunner's tower, still firing."
"Multiple trapped underneath the fallen towers."
"Another fighter with a serious torso injury. I'll patch him up to stop the bleeding, but he'll need medical attention soon."
Knight Cantio focuses on clearing out the area around the trapped survivors, Thief Cantio focuses on trying to close up gray-haired man's wounds once she reaches him. She pours healing magic right into him, pausing occasionally to blast yet more lasers into approaching monsters that are getting a little too close for comfort before getting right back to making sure he doesn't bleed out right then and there. "Cantio, of the Concord. We're here to help. One of the Paladins will be coming to evacuate you and the others from here."
"We have extra weaponry, too, but we'd rather you not use them until you're all in a safer position!" Knight Cantio calls out while getting her swordening and her slashening on real hard. The armor doesn't really do much to actually bolster her own defenses, but it's certainly shiny and purple that helps distract from the mounting wounds on herself and Thief Cantio while the battle drags on.
The tendril reaches up and grasps the VTOL as it's trying to land.
A moment later, it's met by Kale, drill sword swinging, trying to shred it closer to the root. "Hands off!"
He lands, staggering a bit, as does the VTOL a moment later. "Still winds... think one of the ones got me," he says, reaching down to check himself, and his hand coming up red. What he thought was a close miss was, in fact, not a miss and not just 'close'.
"Yeah. Gonna need..."
The oil rig starts tilting. "Nevermind what I need - Tamamo! Give me a purifier talisman!" Not a healing one. The air purification talismans, which will let him hit a bit harder admidst the smoke and fires and mayhem, which is more important right now than his injuries.
Meanwhile, the VTOL's bay doors open, and people get ushered in. Specifically they get ushered in by a four-foot-tall mouse, which - hopefully they're used to the idea of offworlders looking different, but if not then at least it's a mouse and not like a huge alligator person. "Inside, inside! Able bodied to the left, wounded to the right, keep your children with you!" The interior is a lot bigger than the exterior - it could likely carry the entire village.
There's beds and medical kits laid out - the mouse sees to triaging any extreme cases that come in herself, but everyone else will have to handle bandaging themselves up or wait till the crisis has passed. The more important thing is getting people inside - whether they're doing full evac or just sheltering, getting inside the VTOL's walls will mean the group doesn't have to worry about protecting a crowd of exposed people.
Kale takes back off once he's applied the talisman - the lobster is the big threat, but it's not the only one, with smaller monsters still on the prowl and perhaps stragglers that need to be helped along. Nevermind how hard he's pushing himself, he can deal with that once all of this is over.
|Tamamo|| Though it couldn't hold back the tide for long, that's to be expected. The cold temperatures are less of a problem for larger creatures, but they'll still slowly kill, and the major problem was the spread of the fire.
Tamamo frowns, then, not at the danger posed by the oil being dragged off, but by the fact that a crab is doing it, helped by these other creatures. Strange enough that they're all working together like this. "A colony, perhaps? Those afflicted by some shared curse, or some shared control? How very strange. Is it a coincidence, or malevolent intelligence? No... this is not the time to ask. And yet, I wonder..."
But there isn't that much she can do, herself. From her safe position up here, it's temporarily impossible for much of anything to reach her -- which is far preferable to being torn apart, to be sure -- but she judges her time better spent dispensing blessings for others.
Hibiki -- probably will try to push through everything on her own and won't know when to ask, but Tamamo will leave her, for just a moment. Kale is making a good show, but weaving a little more good luck in his direction certainly couldn't hurt, which he gets in addition to the air purification talisman he'd asked for, flying through the air to his grasp. Ishirou looks more like he'll soon need healing, after all these times he's pushed himself, and the talismans that fly his way will speedily heal at least some of his wounds, at a cost to Tamamo's own supply -- presently sufficient. Cantio's multiplicity is a point of confusion, and she decides to leave it be.
Lilian, of course, gets as much of Tamamo's attention as she can presently spare, and then some. Blessings of fair fortune are universally useful, but with how hard she must certainly be working herself, no doubt having subjectively been in this battlespace for several times as long as anyone else, a flow of warm, comforting, energizing blessings are naturally in order, as of the world's most powerful, side effect free stimulant.
Dependency on Tamamo-no-mae doesn't count as a side effect. It's not one she thinks about as a negative, in any case.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| "I'll be fine. Just fine!"
Thankfully she is, and more importantly, they are. Even if it's just one family, there's not a world out there where Hibiki Tachibana could ever focus on the bigger picture while someone who needs help is right in front of her. It's only after they're securely within the LZ zone that Kale has carved out, in this shanty-rich inland area, that she gives herself a moment to breath and turns back the way she came.
There really are too many of these things. Exactly like Lilian said though, she can't afford to do anything that might damage the artificial island's structure or any of the surrounding platforms. That's fine. As the mother and kids on top of all of the others who were already here begin shuffling in towards the VTOL, she takes it on herself to make sure that none of the grouped monsters come too close.
There's nothing fancy this time, but since blunt impacts seem to work just fine, that's what she'll do. Hibiki acts as an obstacle any creatures will have to pass to approach - any melee engagement answered by her ducking beneath like a boxer before delivering body-crunching blows straight into their undersides, unleashing kicks meant to send them flying away over the horde, or grabbing and throwing them like projectiles back into the rest to hold them back and clear them out briefly.
Partway through, a glance over her shoulder gets her eyes to widen at what that oversized lobster is trying to do. "Damnit--" It probably says something she doesn't immediately drop what she's doing to join in on stopping it. Her attention goes to the crowd, and then back to the rest of the monsters.
Lilian has a plan, and she knows that she and the others can handle it. So for right this second at least, she'll hold her ground so that everyone can get onboard safely, and keep the streets and the spaces between the shanties as open as she can in case any more survivors who had heard Lilian's announcement come running for safety.
Another crustacean gets seized by the claw and swung around as a non-human weapon before getting caber tossed all the way back out towards sea. Clear them out, get her breath back...and then if that lobster is somehow still a problem, then she'll worry about it.
|Lilian Rook|| The sound of shattering ice is what draws Lilian's attention first. Next to someone screaming for help or an oil explosion, that's about the most high priority problem there is. Blipping back up the rig, it takes her no time at all to locate a monster of that size. Surge of small fry following it is almost as bad, but it becomes immediately worse when the titanic crustacean not only diverts from the previously predictable course of beelining at the nearest human organism, but somehow organizes the rest.
"Why is it . . . ?"
The oil rig --the whole thing-- starts to groan and scrape. Lilian stifles a useless 'This is bad!', crouches down to anchor herself, and closes her eyes in deep concentration. The next fifteen seconds play out sixty times over just a few moments. And in the midst of it, Lilian recalls something she'd heard once, from the girl she's trying her best not to think about.
"Fill the perimeter hole! Keep expanding the protective line! Don't let them crawl over or swim under it! We'll round them all up at the end! Tamamo, follow my lead!"
Lilian withdraws one of the paper talismans, but it isn't a recently acquired healing variety. She smooths the ofuda against the side of her blade, and with the fresh blood coating it, inscribes Ór right into the sword's etching. The red light filling the black blade's intricate veins turns shining gold. An iridescent halo of sunlight flares to life around Lilian, singling her out in the dark, like a painting of some ancient saint-hero.
The metal flexes and rebounds sharply beneath her, a cloud of shorn rust lurching half-heartedly towards the sky, where Lilian has shot off like an arrow, briefly becoming the brightest celestial object next to the moon. Then she accelerates back down. Faster than falling. Much, much faster than falling. A streak of comet-light spirals behind her as she picks up a breakneck spin. A short, sudden gale roars and rattles against the side of the rig as she passes it in the blink of an eye. Glass cracks from the brief shattering of the sound barrier.
Coming down straight and fast, Lilian balances every bit of the insane force of her fall on the last foot and a half of her sword, and lithobrakes by putting the downswing of her last spin straight into the lobster's back. The force is enough to generate the exact sound of an explosion; to bury the lobster halfway into the concrete, the shockwave hurling the nearest sea monsters into the air with a ring of shattered cement. Lighter than the monster, Lilian's entire body arcs over the blade she has wedged into it, heels over head, and then she smoothly bleeds the rest of the momentum into bloodily tearing it free, angling her meteoric slide down its tail, and ploughing through a flank of the horde like a sawblade of glowing gold, blood and gore splashing over the shearing wind howling around her.
By the time she smashes her boot heel into the concrete, stopping herself just short of the edge, various bodyparts won't have hit the ground. She takes back off the way she came with the sound of a cannon firing, leaving only a slender vapour cone dissipating in the sea breeze, and an equally vicious arc of burning sunlight whirling through the ranks of bloodthirsty monsters to track her by.
|Tamamo|| 'Tamamo, follow my lead!'
And then Lilian demonstrates that critical fact about the monsters. Ah, could that be why? Is it a curse, after all, or are they servants of something darker? Either way, it's enough to perk her ears and light her eyes, that same light rising around and behind her, reflected by the mirror that's suddenly behind her.
The talismans she scatters aren't much use on their own, but are a type she always keeps in great quantities. They plaster themselves down the sides of the rig at seemingly random points and angles, doing nothing more than defining an area aligned with the caster's specific authority. This is necessary, still, to focus this point as the site of a ritual like this, in any reasonable span of time.
The Sun is not here.
Tamamo is here.
Thus, the Sun is here.
The light above grows slowly, phantasmally, only an illusion, a vague impression of heavenly light breaking through clouds. And yet, it continues to grow as Tamamo's own light burns brighter, high atop the rig, and its effects are not illusory. This is, in every way that matters, golden, pouring Sunlight.
|Rita Ma|| Ishirou discovers that there is some kind of directing link- but here and now, its influence is subtle, more of a dim watching eye than a controlling agent. Nonetheless, he can still turn the monsters' instincts against each other; the lobster still tugs on the oil rig with one claw, but it snips another monster in half with its second. The smaller monsters, likewise, turn on it and start ripping viciously at its legs.
Kale severs a monster's tentacle, and it gurgles and collapses back to the ground, squirming and bleeding out. Villagers rush into the VTOL, carrying their wounded on improvised bedsheet stretchers or in their arms. They are not, in fact, very used to offworlders, but they do know better than to look a gift horse in the mouth. At this point, the island itself is more or less emptied of civilians thanks to his extraction; those who remain are pinned down in the rig itself.
The wounded number concerningly few, though. Most of those who were hurt at all simply died.
The gray-haired man that (thief) Cantio's patched up staggers to his feet, even though he definitely shouldn't, and grips his spear once more. Age and pain slow him, but he's still trained, which is better than anyone else here. "Luke," he replies. "You're a miracle, Cantio. I'll head there. Here-" He taps his neck demonstratively. "The underside, behind the jaws. That's where the heart is."
Knight Cantio's attacks are already tearing through the seemingly endless tide neatly, but she may discover his advice is sound if she chooses to employ it. What villagers still have something resembling a fighting spirit employ it, too, when the guns get distributed.
Hibiki sees the woman and her children safely to Kale's LZ. The kids look shellshocked (generally) and starstruck (by Hibiki) at once; their mother is just teary with relief, almost incoherent. "Oh, thank you... thank you so much. I didn't think we'd... well, be safe, please. Just be safe." Her fists find the crablike monsters to be a particularly satisfying target: the fish can absorb some of the impact with their blubbery flesh, but the crustaceans have no such shock absorption, and their armor shatters where she strikes them.
|Rita Ma|| Tamamo's time is, indeed, well-spent aiding her allies. But Lilian's attack reveals a way that her direct talents might find good use: these monsters are weak to sunlight, hence the nighttime attack.
The lobster falls into two steaming halves, its body balefully scorched, as do all the other monsters directly in Lilian's path. Even those not directly struck develop horrible red blistering burns that force them to recoil.
Tamamo's radiant sunlight has much the same effect, spread all across the concrete island. The monsters are agonized by the presence of sunlight, their skin bubbling as if it were boiling. This does not typically kill them outright, but it's one of the few things that can deter them from seeking human prey; they are forced to hunt from the shadows of buildings, creating zones of relative safety wherever the sun shines.
The crustacean-based monsters, a dangerous minority in the first place, are the only ones who can endure it- they lack exposed flesh, and their chitin does not burn, though once their shells are cracked they show the same aversion.
Their numbers, finally, seem to be thinning a bit. But they make one more effort: concentrating the rescuees in one spot means the monsters concentrate their efforts too.
The perimeter around Kale's LZ comes under heavier and heavier attack over time, crablike beasts braving the sunlight and their softer kin lurking in dark corners to pounce. Whether through some flicker of malign intelligence or simply responding to something 'boatlike', they try to maul the Paladins aircraft with particular savagery, until the LZ is practically enclosed by a solid encroaching wall of chitin. Shudder to think what could happen to the people inside.
On the far horizon, an enormous dark shape approaches, larger than the island itself. It's not a concern just yet. And yet, the strange blue veins it pulses with...
|Ishirou||There...? There! So there was something, and even if it wasn't directing them specifically, it would be enough to grant the group more intelligence as a whole. On that, it likely knows something is there the moment he turns the link against them. That's fine because right now it doesn't seem to be able to do anything about him.
However, this doesn't stop the horde from overrunning him again. Ishirou also notices the group heading away from the rig and towards the LZ. He motions for the others to keep an eye on their surroundings and points to the LZ. It'll be clear what he's doing in a moment. Right after he flies off towards it.
Ishirou flips out of flight mode and into humanoid mode, to drive the light sword into one of the monsters trying to latch onto the side of the transport. In return, he's knocked flat by one of the rubbery fish and then trampled by a large number of other sea creatures. However, right before he could be crushed underfoot, a shield pops up last moment, holding them back before it shatters.
Enough for him to get up and away. This time he points his hand down. A blast of light surges from his fingertips and he once more tries to hack that network. He sends a signal through it, aiming for all of the creature's hearts. He attempts to have them pump harder and harder. Too hard. Adrenaline trying to pour too much into it. It'll make them more dangerous for a moment...
Then it'll make them very dead as he attempts to make their blood pressure shoot up so high that it'll start causing explosive popping.
|Cantio||"Under and behind... Got it! Thanks, Luke. I think you and the others are the last ones here, so we can move as a group and keep you all safe that way." Thief Cantio assures him, looking over at Knight Cantio as she follows that tidbit of information to stab everything more efficiently and with far more gusto than before. Although having the villagers armed with Lilian's assortment of guns and grenades is a boon, Cantio (all of them) is still trying to handle the bulk of the fighting on that end to make sure they don't make themselves bigger targets than necessary.
Of course, that's easier said than done when Kale's LZ starts coming under heavy attack. Without muc to offer in the way of cover, the three Cantios all jsut charge right back into the mass, making themselves targets yet again and suffering quite a bit of damage for it. There's a lot of digitized (and censored, for the kids) blood to go around, but they're aiming to draw as much of it as they can from the monsters in turn. Taking Luke's guidance in mind, their swords all change shapes, shifting from simply sharp slabs of metal into having smaller, yet just as sharp second prongs jutting out closer to the handle.
"We'll keep you save, everyone! Just put your trust in us, keep shooting, and don't give up!" Cantio Prime calls out to the survivors as well, somehow managing to sound far cleaner and less strained than she looks from getting bitten and cut so many times.
With their reformed weapons, the two clones and the original start going on a stab-happy spree as they weave through the crowd, leveraging their own stupid amounts of raw strength and also lasers to commence the last push of stabbing and blasting. When it looks like one of the clones might be getting in too deep, Cantio swaps places with them, taking the harder bites and stabs for them while holding the creatures still for her own clones or allies to capitalize.
It's not a clean or glamorous-looking method by any means, but it's far more efficient than her usual lightshow-based tactics.
Kale strikes - swinging the drill sword, driving back one monster, then another-
"And- there..." He pants. "This is... there's no end to them..."
He has to fall back, take a breather. There's more to fight, more to drive back, but he has to take a moment, but he doesn't have a moment, but he has to-"
<Boots-1, your medical alert just pinged, you need to fall back. Repeat, retreat to the VTOL.>
"I'm -" Kale cuts himself off. Talking wastes breath. Instead he dashes back in, swinging, trying to push the perimiter back a little more. A little more. It feels like chipping away at a brick wall using a needle, and he's running out of both time and needle, and each moment he lets his guard down a claw or a tooth chips away at *him*.
<Boots-1, retreat- Boots-1! Kale, confirm!>
He can't fall back, and abandon the line. But he can't keep fighting. But he can't abandon the line, and all the people under his protection-
Deep breath. "Breathlink protocol, on my mark," he says, falling back, making a leap up to the top of the VTOL.
<... You - aren't nearly in a condition to handle->
"Breathlink on, and that's an order. Now."
<... Docking confirmed - breathprint authenticated.>
<... kickstart from auxiliary - center stage on - starting Breathlink...>
A flow of sparkling air connects Kale's beak and an intake vent on top of the ship. He coughs, bringing a hand up to his face. He can't tell if the blood on it is fresh or old. It doesn't matter. "Connected."
<Breathlink establishhed, vitals are - not okay, proceeding in spite of protocol->
The flow of sparkling air intensifies. The VTOL lifts off - just slightly - and starts transforming. The nose of the craft shifts, twists, forming a spiral - a drill, stretching out meters long, before it starts spinning with a horrendous noise and a momentum that burns the metal red hot.
The VTOL turns in place - sweeping the massive drill through whatever threats dare get close enough to it!
On top, Kale slumps - only the locks on top of the VTOL keeping him in place, as the craft drains him with every rotation of the drill.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| "...Yeah, I will be! I won't give up on living that easy, so make sure you don't either!"
Seeing the kids and their mother off safely, and then that...there's a fresh burst of resolve welling up inside Hibiki, despite how morose the entire situation might be. Maybe that's also helped by the sun shining brightly overhead - both the illusory sort, and Tamamo's growing stronger and stronger. These things don't like that one bit, huh?
But not enough that they're not gathering together for a last push. Hearts behind the jaw. Hive mind. And that dark, cyan-veined mass off in the far distance...
None of that matters now. Well, except the hearts part, maybe. As the landing zone comes under heavy assault, Hibiki is right there to lunge into the fray to meet them. Thick shells once again come under assault from heavy fist, cracking them open and exposing the vulnerable flesh beneath to not only further punishment but the light beating down. That doesn't work quite as well on the fishes, but that's just fine.
For them, she steps in with palm strikes, rising kicks, and shoulder tackles to blow them off the ground, spiralling into the air. Where they'll not only have nowhere dark to slink off to, but be open prey for anyone else to take out. Without her more wantonly destructive options to just wipe them out, relying on teamwork and setup isn't so bad.
"No you don't--!" More than once, she takes a rough hit and keeps on going, just to scramble to intercept something coming for the VTOL and send it flying with a wild haymaker. When it comes to those, there's nothing held back. Hibiki might be restraining herself when it comes to huge attacks, but those hits of hers are still more than enough to leave sealife-shaped indents in concrete.
"I'm not letting even one of you--get to them!"
|Lilian Rook|| Lilian brakes with adouble stomp into the concrete on the opposite side of the rig front from where she'd started, driving paired scorch marks across the ocean-bleached cement from sheer friction. She blinks ten feet to the side to dodge the spray of blood following behind her, allowing it to splash into the ocean. Seeing the hordes shrink back from Tamamo's sunlight, Lilian allows herself a breath of relief, casually blasting a creeping monster over her shoulder with a roiling burst of magical fire, and planting her sword for a second to get her bearings.
And then they just keep coming. Even after all that, the landing zone is swarming. Even with this many Elites, it's like trying to bail out a ship with more holes in it than hull. The ghost of Lilian's better sense lingers coldly on her back, quietly urging her to do the practical thing and triage the exfiltration like she should, and then is dispelled with a physical wave of her arm, and a creaking, shuddering grip on the hilt of her sword in blood-boiling animosity.
"God dammit just die already!" The physical distance to the landing zone is irrelevant; such tactical considerations mean nothing to Lilian like this. Filled with singular hate, she simply appears at the monster's backs like a vengeful ghost, only the hanging slosh of bodily fluid and the elegant tumble of a giant dismember claw marking why her sword is high over her head.
Instantly pulling the pommel right down to her waist, Lilian spins low under a lashing pincer, passing just over her, and swings back out again to sever the attacker's four front legs at once, releasing the hilt with one hand so that the backswing carries on behind her and skewers a third monster through the mouth parts, piercing its heart mid-lunge. She swings around the briefly anchored long-blade to snap kick the underisde of another chitinous horror, her heel climbing above her own head, and the low roar of displaced air tattering the blood shed by armoured toe cracking hard shell.
She yanks the sizable blade free behind her back, and allows it to fly into the opposite hand; the heft of the ten pound weapon turns her fully around the other way in an instant, so that when she brings her heel back down, it's a head crushing stomp fit to obliterate the organs of yet another beast under an iron heel. Wedged in the viscous guts and cracked concrete, Lilian brings her two-handed blade above her head into a high and unguarded hawk stance, spins up a hair-pulling whirlwind to build momentum, and--
Is struck directly in the chest by a flailing scythe-limb.
The glimmering gold over her heart flashes bright. A burst of stars bleeds off her like showering sparks. Her back heel scrapes the stone, embedding a centimeter to keep her standing. The chitinous blade slides free.
Lilian completes her swing back. The dying monster under her heel has its viscera twisted into bloody spirals as she stomps its length, spiralling a five foot sword in shrieking orbits around her, making gunshock cracks where its edge smashes through shell and leaving boiling blood mist in the wake of its solar arc. She completes the revolution by bringing it down straight through a sea monster's flank, going down to the hilt in the concrete, throwing out a blast of black lightning into the monster she can see through its bisected halves, kicking her own sword out of the ground, arcing it back down through one arm, then flicking it up through the other, of a giant crab behind her, and then explosively lunging forward to skewer another up against yet one more, aligned to pierce both their hearts at once.
"Give it up already! You're not getting a single one of them! Come on! Fight me! Come at me all at once, so I can kill every single one of you myself! I'll exterminate your whole species if I have to!"
|Tamamo|| The approach of the Sun above continues, strengthening that selectively burning light, and casting stark lines of shadow through which monsters may continue to scuttle. This does little to deter the chitin-clad, outside of, perhaps, making all their wounds burn, but it still strikes Tamamo as a useful endeavour, and it continues to occupy her attention up until things have gotten quite bad.
Once her attention is successfully drawn, she allows for that ritual to continue in her absence, leaping from her perch to the LZ in a few, wide, distance-consuming leaps, geta striking rusty steel with uncannily prceise steps until she's reached the point of greatest danger.
Oh, no. Was this an awful idea? It might not be her greatest one, but there was such ferocity directed against those few survivors, that she moved without thinking. She holds up her arms in front of a truck-sized lobster, and is sent staggering back, striking the ground hard, when it shatters the array of arcane shields she'd layered in front of it. Something else breaks, painfully, as blood slowly soaks dark cloth. Precautionary talismans begin the healing process, setting and regenerating bone and healing over scraped and torn flesh as she sucks in deep breaths.
That really could have gone better.
"Ha... requesting a cessation, in this case... it quite useless, no? And yet, I wonder... if you listened to one such as I, would it be with fear, or hatred? Or do you feel nothing for what destroys you?"
Tamamo has no way of reaching into the minds of beasts to find these answers. She doesn't even have readable faces to watch, but she does watch them, all the same, as she lights up the landing zone with her burning presence, and informs, not orders, those attacking.
"I am that which you must most avoid. I am your death. Focus your eyes upon me, and feel that fire flow from stalk to mind."
It's not safe to be focusing their attention on her, either, even with that compulsion to treat her as they would the Sun itself, strong enough to interfere with other influences once caught in her own orbit. But there is that simple matter, too, that she's blinding, and one's senses can't be so easily armored.
"If you fear me," she says, now with the force of an order, "go."
|Rita Ma|| Blades, lasers, fists, heart attacks, and even an enormous drill reduce the bravest of the still-encroaching monsters to a thoroughly pulverized consistency. Their main threat comes from sheer aggregate mass, but that can be- and is- overwhelmed by more-than-proportionate sheer aggregate violence.
Tamamo discovers that their response to the sunlight is, indeed 'fear', sharper even than their near-vestigial fear of death itself. Some invisible tipping point of herd behavior is reached.
Burned and overwhelmed by the new sunlight, with fewer and fewer kin to share their bloodlust, the remaining monsters begin to hesitate. With the organized withdrawal, there are no more low-hanging fruit for them to prey upon. The most tenacious of them still fight aggressively, but perhaps a majority of their number now lie dead in the streets of Kachemak Island, and those remaining are pushed back inch by inch.
Finally, they well and truly break. Some manage something resembling a fighting retreat, still snapping jaws and claws in an attempt to ward off would-be pursuers; others just turn and run into the sea.
As they flee, they are fired upon. The distant, menacing hulk with its blue veins opens up on the surviving sea monsters with enormous flamethrowers that boil the water when they pass it.
In the glow of Tamamo's sunlight, it slowly comes into view: it is a city-ship that exceeds the scale of the entire island. A rusted aircraft carrier with an arcology dome on its deck is fused on either flank with nearly-equally-large civilian ships piled high with metal buildings and jury-rigged additions. Vast blue-white tentacles bind together and pervade one of those civilian ships, like an enormous organic patchjob. They look familiar.
Several long moments of quiet pass after that. The uninjured islanders emerge from the recesses of the oil rig and Kale's VTOL, looking over what survives of their home. So much lost before they'd even called for help. So much more remaining than they could have hoped for.
For the first time, it is quiet enough that the waves can be heard lapping against the concrete shore. Some people embrace. Some people sob, from relief, grief, or both. A few murmur amongst themselves about the city-ship in the distance, though they do not seem afraid.
The teary mother tries to offer Hibiki a hug. The machine-gunner from the tower tries to track down Lilian and insists on giving her a mother-of-pearl heirloom. The wounded gray-haired man sticks near Cantio in a silent, grim companionship. Timid and shell-shocked children seek out Tamamo and Kale to hassle them with adorable and silly questions, which their parents encourage them to do, lest they focus on the carnage instead. Some of those with medical training try to fuss over Ishirou, once the other wounded are seen to.
One can finally breathe, even if the air still tastes like smoke and blood.
|Rita Ma|| A small, speedy boat comes over from the distant rusting hulk. Onboard are a handful of people wearing what appear to be armored diving suits, carrying strange pneumatic weapons. They disembark on the shore, slowly making their way towards the center of the island- that is, towards you. The villagers regard them with bafflement, but also some degree of relief. Their collective murmurings conclude in something like: "What is the Union Busan doing *here*?"
The one in the lead fires a green flare into the sky. Further aid, presumably, will be coming, to supplement your care.
Most of them disperse into the streets to look for any straggling monsters. A tall, brown-haired young man is the first to speak up out of the two who remain. "A bright sky in the middle of the night. All these monsters dead before we could even get here. There weren't any vessels closer than us. What kind of miracle was this?" His eyes linger on the obvious outsiders questioningly. His occupation ought to have inured him to scenes of carnage like this, and yet he seems shaken, unguarded rather than jaded..
The woman who walks in front of him- shorter, older yet not enough to deserve her white hair, dressed in far too little and yet radiating practiced violence- is examining the monsters' corpses. She embeds a bent shortsword into one's head just to make sure it's dead. Her one eye flicks over to the Warpgate.
"You're Multiversals then, aren't you?"
|Ishirou||Ishirou is plum out of steam...once more pushing himself to the brink of collapse to try and achieve his aim...and it works. The swarm retreats into the sea, and this causes Ishirou to finally collapse. The AVCS, sparking from overuse slumps. No, it's a little different than that, the joints are overworked, sparking dangerously. Something that's supposed to easily keep going under stress more seems like it's being forced beyond its design specs.
Ishirou is first asked to scan the tentacle ship, and he does. He's more worried about the people under the rubble, and if there are any there, but once he's sure the other ship isn't a danger, he's immediately laying back and closing his eyes.
He can do scanning in his sleep. Which he kind of wants to do. When he hears voices, he speaks up from where he decided to crash. Though when people look over him, he waves them off. "I'll be fine, tend to people who need it first. Worse comes to worst they'll just make me lay in the medical wing again.."
For days. Though he does speak up to the young man and woman, "Yeah. My name is Ishirou. Sorry I can't get up to greet you."
|Kale Hearthward||The VTOL untransforms, and sets back down, and the doors open.
"Excuse me - just need to get through here..." The two pilots - a pinkish mouse and a blue songbirdclimb up, pushing past the crowds with military disregard to get up on top of the VTOL, unhook Kale (by now unconscious) and together carry him back down to the ground and from there back into the VTOL, where he's brought into a seperate (and locked) medical room.
Only then do they interact with the civilians again - mostly to render some *proper* medical attention instead of just emergency triage. "Back inside - we need to make sure that's not broken, and - you, need to just drown that cut in alcohol, I don't know what kind of bacteria could survive on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean but don't want to find out either-"
The mouse is efficient, though her bedside manner needs a little bit of work.
She also attempts to physically push Ishirou into a bed the moment she lays eyes on his condition.
|Tamamo|| Tamamo watches them hesitate, feeling for that reaction -- fear, yes. They're afraid of what she is, and not just because it's deadly. Is it like the instinctive terror of the predatory? The fear of a great enemy? She can't tell, just from this. This world doesn't have that obvious feeling the Age of the Gods had, when raw and untouched Mystery pervaded all things. She has found few worlds with active gods, and doesn't expect the spirit of this world's star to be any more talkative than the last. Perhaps it doesn't mean anything.
She watches them go, then, burning and being slashed apart, crushed or drilled. So long as they leave, dead or alive, it's enough for her. So long as they don't stay and hunt and kill.
Curious children are an excellent means of distracting Tamamo. As she feels her wounds closing, and some strength returning, and the immediate danger passed, she carefully lowers herself to eye level, and she answers their questions with a calm smile, no matter how silly. Her own light is wrapped up again, dimming to far more human-tolerable levels, her common disguise -- to put it another way, a polite clothing -- reinstating itself. And now she's merely faintly glowing.
Her identity is asked for. "I am Tamamo-no-mae, bunrei of Amaterasu-omikami, She of the White-Gold Face, Godddess of the Sun, and also, now, Paladin Chevalier. The light above is my own. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
|Lilian Rook|| "Get back here! I'm not done with you yet!" Lilian howls as the sea monsters begin to flee. Those directly in her path have no prayer of escape; she only has to rapidly blink between them, hacking and slashing and breaking every bloodthirsty horror in sight, pushing her metaphorical heat as high as it'll go to extend the one minute window of opportunity caused by the rout as long as she possibly can. Even slaughtering everything she can catch on land, killing scores more, laying out a carpet of giant bodies, she knows, consciously, that it likely won't make a difference to anyone. But . . .
The thought that any one of them might be responsible for consuming some terrified refugee's screaming child makes it hard to stop. What she can't bear is to let them get away with it. By the time she stops, unwilling to chase the ragged survivors into the ocean, Lilian's armour is dripping with monstrous gore that doesn't quite stick, and the inscription beneath Night Mist's grip is shining through her fingers, without her notice.
People call for search and rescue. Just in time for the tactical to alert Lilian to Kale being down. She heaves a sigh of tired frustration, checks her uplink, and sees Sword Unit is just about to arrive. Good enough. Three dozen rescue experts with powered armour and enhanced medics should be able to handle this. When that tower gunner runs up to her, the sunlight starts to gradually dim and contract around her. She looks blandly surprised that he recognized her, but after a brief period of stunned refusal, she decides to graciously accept the heirloom, and then quickly checking the gear she abandoned, 'trades' him the ordnance and combat knife she never used. If nothing else, she expects he can probably either find use for them, or sell them for good money.
Finally, she approaches the man and the woman, blood slowly draining off of her, and as if it were mixed in, her air of manic animosity as well.
"Indeed we are." says Lilian, planting her sword before her just such that she can rest her arms; the pommel still comes up to her neck. "A miracle? I . . . Well, if you say so. I think there are too many people dead --and not enough of those things dead to make up for it-- to meet that standard." Lilian takes a deep breath, and absentmindedly touches a black-clad finger to that scar. "I should apologize. It's good to see you either way. Truth be told, I didn't feel confident about leaving these people here, and not certain about whether they'd leave." She extends her hand. "Dame Commander Lilian Rook. This is sort of my . . . calling. Who do I have the pleasure of speaking to?"
'What is the Union Busan doing *here*?'
'<B-anter> Rita Ma says brightly, "I'm from the Union Busan!"'
"That . . . What are the odds?" Lilian quietly breathes to herself in disbelief.
|Cantio||Although the immediate battle appears to be won, it's not without far more dead than Cantio would have liked. There's not much she can even do to console the grieving, and there's still no time to rest just yet. There's still wounded to tend to, and she and her clones do just that, hurrying around what's left of the concrete island to see to the survivors and get their wounds healed up enough that they'll at least survive long enough to get proper medical care.
If nothing else, it's the best way to keep her mind off the carnage. The gray-haired man's presence is welcomed with acknowledging nods, even checking on him every now and then to make sure his wounds aren't reopening. It takes a while before she finally remembers to let some of her drones loose, letting them float overhead while playing light, ambient music to try and take a little bit of that edge off and provide some small distraction from all the sights and smells around everyone.
That strange giant ship in the distance has Cantio on edge despite her efforts to look like she isn't, but it's not until the faster boat approaches with more unfamiliar figures that she (the main one) finally pulls her attention away from providing first aid. The names being thrown around are unfamiliar, but the direct questioning has her finally speaking up with a firmer tone in her voice.
"That's correct. I'm Cantio, second-in-command of Cadenza, member of the Concord." She curtseys lightly in greeting, pausing for a moment to flick a chunk of something dark and red off her dress jacket. "We heard the call for help from Kachemak and came as fast as we could." She looks between the brown-haired man and the white-haired woman a few times, then steps over slightly to let them get a slightly better view of the survivors along with the clones still working in the background.
"I'm still in the process of stabilizing the injured, so they shouldn't be in any immediate danger. They'll still need medical professionals to look at them, though. Do you have any doctors on..." She pauses briefly, looking over at the massive ship. "... Union Busan, was it?"
What a strange coincidence.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| The sun beats bright, and creature after creature goes down. Eventually, they do begin retreating--and though Hibiki is on her guard at first, maybe doubting if that's really all it is, she clearly has no interest in pursuing them once it because obvious they've admitted defeat. Or...no. That's not entirely true. A not insignificant part of her does.
It'd like nothing more than to go track them down, put an end to them, and do the same to whatever is responsible for controlling or manipulating them, or whatever it does that made this happen. She'd be a filthy liar if she said she didn't understand exactly how Lilian feels.
But she's come a decent way from ripping apart monsters in a blind rage, she's exhausted from the battle...and there are more important things to worry about even now. Nothing makes that sink in more than her focus getting snatched away from the corpse-strewn battlefield and fish getting fried off at sea than when the sounds of the survivors hit her ears, and she's caught off-guard by a hug.
"A-Ah..." She goes from a bit morose to surprised, then relieved as she somewhat awkwardly but very genuinely returns the hug. Lilian is going to be owed a thank you from her in short order for what she did in the first place...but for now, she'll accept it. As long as they're all okay, she's happy.
Though, as the crew from the warship speeds on in, Hibiki picks up on the villagers' conversations with one another, and her attention soon enough drifts back to the boat and its fleshy patchwork...Union Busan? Where has she heard that name before? And why does...
...Oh. That's why. Why those cyan-veined tentacles look so familiar.
Her expression looks somewhat conflicted for a moment, and she'll probably have to engage in helping search-and-rescue soon, but... "Yeah, we are. Hibiki Tachibana. Thanks...for coming, and for the help. Everyone here is going to need it." Her eyes close, for a moment. "...A miracle, huh...if it was one, it was one that only happened because of everyone working so hard for it."
Her eyes open again, and she lets out a small sigh. What /are/ the odds?
|Rita Ma|| The tentacles, Ishirou discovers, are Rita's. They've calcified into a tough, nonliving form, patching an enormous hole in the side of that rightmost ship; it would surely sink without them. It's at least a football field's worth of surface area, and who knows how much beneath the surface. When did she do something like that?
"That's alright," the young man says. He crouches down to Ishirou's level, wearing a weak smile. "You gave your all to protect these people, right? If you can't stand, that's not a mark against you. I'd say it's a sign of your bravery, if anything." Looking over at Hibiki, he laughs just a little, though it doesn't fully dispel the tension on his face. "I know what you mean. That's usually how miracles happen, isn't it?"
The white-haired woman sizes up Lilian, slicked in gore, with muted approval. Even at rest she radiates violence like a stove radiates heat. Her hand that holds a blade looks more relaxed than the one that doesn't. "This is sort of . . . my calling," Lilian says. "So it is," the white-haired woman answers.
Tamamo's introduction causes the two of them to trade baffled glances, but the man seems no less impressed for it. "It's good to meet you, Tamamo-no-mae. To think that one person could change the heavens... You too, Cantio of Cadenza. Haha, a foreign dignitary, I guess?" That briefly elevated politeness of his sounds familiar. He offers his hand to each person in turn. The white-haired woman just slightly inclines her head, something clearly on her mind. "Then, Hibiki Tachibana, and... Dame Commander Lilian Rook! It's a pleasure to meet you all."
"My name is Kana. I'm the Commander of the Harpoonists on board the Union Busan."
"And I'm Bota Ma. I'm just an ordinary Harpoonist."
Finally, Kana finds a chance to say what's been consuming her thoughts. "Your worlds are endangered by these monsters, too. We have less than a year. Come with us. We need to talk."
|Ishirou||"Ah...um, thanks," Ishirou says, not sure if it's bravery at this point OR stupidity. He's really got a find a way to do this without breaking himself...or get himself stronger somehow? No, not stronger. That won't fix this problem.
It's a wisdom issue, he's just got to find a balance. He does note the tentacles, the last name of the boy who's being nice to him. Kana explains everything about why Rita is attached to Lilian more than anything.
"They...are? Great, more deep-sea problems we don't need. Though these ones are slightly more...killable than the ones in the greater multivers-" he starts being picked up and placed into a bed by a mouse. "He-hey wait! I need to learn about the moooooooooooo..." and he's gone.
He'll probably be back in a bit.
|Lilian Rook|| Lilian, of course, shakes hands very professionally. She offered. However, her grip is currently far too firm to be appropriate for a delicate lady such as herself. Even in armour, her hand feels strangely warm. The underlayer exposed on her palms might as well be skin.
"Ma?" Lilian's eyebrow disappears into her bangs. "Don't mind me, but you seem shockingly upright from what I know about ship-side Harpoonists." The sentence is a half-truth on purpose. Lilian effortlessly laughs off Kana's succinct response, flicking a wave of blood off her black blade and swinging it over her back to leave it at rest, somehow. "You remind me a lot of someone I know. Only slightly more verbose." Without a monster actually in sight, Lilian doesn't exude anywhere near the passive threat level as Kana, but she seems strangely put at ease by someone who does.
"Fantastic. The ocean is about the only place that isn't teeming with problems at home. A lot of people are living right next to it based on that presumption." says Lilian. "We can talk."
"But only if you're about to tell me how I can kill a lot of them at once."