5436/Hostage Sect-uation

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Hostage Sect-uation
Date of Scene: 10 August 2017
Location: The Tapestry
Synopsis: Paladins work to save the city council from the Urban Breath cult.
Cast of Characters: Eryl Fairfax, 707, Sir Gawain, 1084, 151, Kotone Yamakawa

Eryl Fairfax has posed:
    Town Hall. A mishmash of old and new, consisting of a stately brick front from which more modern steel and glass offices sprout from. Ordinarily quiet amidst its manicured lawn and flower beds, it has become a hive of police activity. Police lines are set up, and SWAT stands ready for an armed response, as a window on the second floor of the brick building opens. Out leans a figure, dressed in a hooded brown robe, with his arm around the throat of a man in a suit, and a pistol pressed against the same man's temple.

    "Right, we want 200 feet of PVC piping! No more, no less! If you don't deliver, we're blowing out the brains of a councillor!" The window is then shut and curtain drawn to conceal the interior from any snipers. The PVC pipe is obtained and delivered just at the Paladins arrive.

    "Thank God you're here," the commander at the scene says, quickly briefing the party as e guides everyone to a command tent and gestures at a blueprint of Town Hall. "They've got the City Council at gunpoint in there, the old building," he says, gesturing at the brick structure. "They've barricaded the doors too, so getting in isn't gonna be easy. They also have snipers on the second floor of the new buildings, and all the exterior doors are barricaded. Those on the inside facing the courtyard seem clear, but they have snipers on the second floors, the place is a killzone."

    He starts tapping the map. "I think our best bet is a two-pronged assault from the roof of the western building and basement of the eastern building. From there, we can dispatch the snipers and get into the brick building to rescue the council. Though you all probably have stuff I'm not aware of, so I'll let you all take point. If you need manpower, I can give you some of my guys. How do you wanna do this?"

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
"What all have the idiot terrorists asked for so far?" Xiaomu wonders, looking at the map and mulling over who all is here, what she can do, and what she knows of what her allies can do. "They wouldn't go to all this trouble just to get publicity ..."

And then there's the enchanted cash ploy from a few weeks ago, the sage fox remembers. And ... actual-gods-know-what-else they've been pulling, before Xiaomu herself got involved with the Urban Breath situation. If this were Tokyo she'd be asking for ley line maps, but -

"Got any maps of the utilities hereabouts? Pipes, cables, conduits, access points? Control stations? Those might not be immediately germane, but given what we've been dealing with so far from those cultists, I don't feel like overlooking anything."

Sir Gawain has posed:
Gawain is here in his full Tomoyo-made uniform, Warden badge present. He's the ranking officer, and therefore he's looking over the map as the commander explains at the tent. "What are our rough numbers on how many of them, commander?" The knight glances at the two recommended starting locations and seems to be pondering, as he taps at the rooftop access, unable to clearly make it out. "Is that a skylight up there?" Otherwise, he's forwarding a plan over Tactical, nodding to the Commander. "We'll likely go with your plan, though we should be going for the hostages first with your supplement! They have unknown abilities."

Where Gawain is going to go in depends on the skylight versus not a skylight. Skylights are...really cool, and he'd love to swoop in through one.

Eryl Fairfax has posed:
    The commander nods to Xiaomu and puts in a call for utility maps to be delivered. "25 of them is our best guess. 13 in the brick building, 12 spread out across the modern offices. And yeah, it's a skylight. Apparently there was supposed to be one for both sides, but they ran out of budget."

    The maps of the utilities soon arrive. The place has plenty of gas and water pipes going under it, as well as electrical lines. Since it dominates a large chunk of real estate close to the middle of the city, this is to be expected. But there's nothing particularly out of the ordinary going on.

Seras Victoria (1084) has posed:
"I'll go with the rooftop approach! And from there..." Seras purses her lip, resolve wavering at the thought of fighting living humans, however deluded and extremist they might be. She has her heavy rifle... and for a sidearm, her pistol. But the thought of shooting living people... spilling living blood... has excited one part of her and sickened another.

    As usual though, the latter is overwhelmingly more powerful.

    Still, she clenches her teeth angrily.

    This is the essence of being in a Firearms unit, after all. Her training from D-11 is hammering her with reminders about how to handle this... ideally, anyways.

    But if she needed to breathe, she'd be hyperventilating about now. She never really actually saw much action with that training.

    A deep, and unnecessary breath later, she steadies her grip on the rifle and readies to flick off its safety.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley adjusts her white gloves to her Paladin uniform as she takes a place as the forward part of the basement unit. She checks her gear -- the longsword at her hip that she hopes she doesn't have to use, and the book on her other hip that might serve a better purpose here -- and makes sure that Xiaomu is with her and ready. She looks to the forces that have gathered, and then gestures indicatively for Xiaomu to take point.
    The lizard has a stern expression, insomuch that her face is readable by people not used to her facial expressions.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
So here they go again this strnge cult and it's desire to tell nature to sod off. She could get where they could be comming from but honesly it was a bad idea in general. Even more so with how they were going about it. She's here clad in stealth gear alreayd given the whole situation? She's very much going to need it, cultits have proven to be pain in the ass. Then again their mirror the fantical for some sexulart way of thinking was just as bad.

Kotone looks to the commander and listens for a moment.

"Humm right I think my own talent would prove useful."

She was loaded with gear that should hopefully be able to help.

Eryl Fairfax has posed:
    A list is provided to Xiaomu regarding what the cultists have demanded and received thus far. On top of the PVC piping, they have gotten many coins in valid and no longer valid currency, antifreeze, glass, iron ore, unsigned cheques, electrical cable... a ton of things relating to urban life.

    The plans are made. The commander orders his men to run some diversion tactics, drawing the attention of the snipers so the Elites can creep around the back.

=Rooftop team=

    The roof is easily accessible by those who can jump high enough, and Elites likely fit that bill. The sunroof stands there, all glass and steel framing. Looking through it permits one to see the offices. It's dim, owing to the drawn curtains to deter snipers. Desks and tables lay scattered about, to be used as cover or barricading the stairs. One of the cultists is right underneath, smoking a cigarette...

=Basement team=

    One of the SWAT members accompanies the basement team and slams open the door with a battering ram. "Good luck!" she wishes the team. The basement is brightly lit by halogen lighting, and full to burst with filing cabinets on rails. The basement is used for document storage, it seems. It's state-of-the-art too, with air conditions that keep the air dry and temperature constant to preserve paper. The sound of the door slamming open seems to have drawn ire though, as fast foorprints approach from the other side!

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
With her sword-staff in hand (currently sheathed, but she can still smack cultists upside the head with it), Xiaomu does indeed take point, mulling over the intel that's been relayed.

Two hundred feet of PVC pipe, which is as artificial as it gets. Coins, antifreeze, glass, checks, electrical cable, iron ore ... and they're basically on top of a major hub of gas, water, and electrical lines.

The basement may be the best possible place to be looking through - but they have to immobilize the cultists as well as figuring out what they're up to, and the sound of approaching footsteps pushes investigation down a few notches in priority.

She *could* try to freeze the next door shut, but instead, Xiaomu hurries Ainsley and Kotone forward - trying to get all three of them against the wall next to the next door (or doorway) in, preferably on the blind side if it's a single hinged door. She wants to get the drop on whoever's looking for the intruder(s), and this seems like the best way to do that.

Sir Gawain has posed:
Skylight confirmed. Gawain's eyes light up. It is probably a known fact amongst the Paladins, or atleast command, that he is not the stealthy type. Therefore, once op on the roof via a quick super jump, he glances down at the skylight, and then nods to Seras. "Alright, it's go time. I'll lead the way. This will go perfectly!" There's an optimistic cheer to his voice as he leaps into the air again...

And aims towards the skylight, shattering through it and tackling into the cultist with the cigarette, moving to knock him out immediately. This is complete with a loud 'crash' of the skylight, as the Warden moves to cuff the cultist and summons his sword, looking to see if there's any other cultists on this floor. He's not hiding himself.

Seras Victoria (1084) has posed:
Scaling the building up to the roof is NOT an easy task for Seras. Not in any reasonable amount of time. She's strong, but it doesn't quite translate to that kind of mobility.

    So she does the next bext thing, and grabs onto Gawain to piggy-back off his leap!

    Which... results in a manner of approach she HAD NOT been counting on. "Skylight, skylight!!"

    Oh, wait, Gawain's aiming for it ON PURPOSE?! Panic shows on Seras's face but it's TOO LATE! THere's a mighty crash and glass raining everywhere... and with a THUD--

     "urrrngh!" The Draculina topples into an ungainly roll when Gawain lands, bouncing haphazardly across the floor and skidding to a halt. She flips to her feet swiftly though, oversized rifle at the ready!

    "Weren't we going to be a little sneaky?!" The police girl mildly complains as she gets her bearings... and sets her course east, towards the windowed corridors where snipers lie in wait.

    One more breath to steady herself... and she blitzes into a full dash at her top speed!

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley takes up a long position with a vantage through the threshold once the breach is done. She allows Kotone in, and she calmly stands far enough back that she's a harder target to hit. She focuses her sight on the direction a cultist might come down, and prepares. The moment that she sees one of the cultists, she will say something along these lines.


    The word sounds like that, under the translation effect, but carries with it a primal meaning of 'stopping thought.' It's aimed at the first apparent threat that passes in view in the hopes that it knocks them unconscious with the magical effect. She didn't need to make motions with her hands.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa is going to be going in with Ainsley and Xiaomu she moves she's also cloaking at this point as she presses up agains the wall she's not about to fool around here. Even with the punnishment she can take. She's ready to go she has her body's eelware armed and redy to go, She holds still and with her cloak up she should hopefully be missed even if her comrades are spotted. If nothing happens she's going to be moving in slowly to attempt to get the drop on whoever might be guarding it she should be hopefully able to disable.

With Her between Ainsley and any incomming attack that should hopefully give her some cover too. She'a also ready to pounce on anyone that Ainsley's magic ahs worked on.

Eryl Fairfax has posed:
=Rooftop Team=

    CRASH! The sight of the cultist looking up, fear filling his face as the cigarette drops from his mouth is a priceless sight, just before Gawain crushes him underfoot. He goes down hard, the impact thoroughly winding him. The other snipers turn to look at him, raising ther rifles and firing! The ones across in the other building also open fire, smashing all the windows.

    Seras is ready to deal with them though. Once she has one of the nearby snipers down, she grabs one of their rifles and opens fire on the opposite side! With her superior vision, picking off the cultists opposite is really no problem. Their only tactic seems to be 'spray and pray' and from this distance, that impacts accuracy severely.

=Basement team=

    Stealth takedown positions are assumed as the cultists come in. Right away, Ainsley's power word is invoked and causes the cultist on point to slump. "Hey, what's wrong?" the one behind her asks, walking through... leaving her wide open for Xiaomu to take her down however she sees fit! Kotone can keep them in place afterwards.

    Following this, it seems like no other cultists are down here. The basement is officially secured! A flight of spiral stairs on the southern end leads to the first floor, right next to the barricaded doors to the brick building... but there are a couple more cultists up there.

Sir Gawain has posed:
With the guy down, Gawain's quickly moving to help Seras in reaction to the nearby snipers. He slices through the rifle of the closest one to him with his sword before using the flat part to knock the man out, and continues until him and Seras have all the snipers on this floor. Once they're down, Gawain nods to Seras. "Go on ahead! I'll secure these guys." Hefting up the bodies of the cultists, he heads downstairs to secure the others, before heading out to the command camp - where he'll likely remain for the rest of the operation, dealing with making sure these guys are healed and secured safely.

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
There's a merry little jingle and a loud *whack!* of metal-reinforced-wood against cultist noggin, as Xiaomu goes for a one-hit KO on Cultist #2. If that doesn't quite knock her unconscious, it'll still ring her bells hard enough to be more or less easily subdued.

(No, Xiaomu's not worried about inflicting a concussion on any of these mooks. They'd need brains for that to be a worry.)

"Well, whatever they're up to, it isn't down here," Xiaomu observes quietly, looking at the lack of a continuing basement passage around to the main brick building. She sneaks up the first few steps, listening and sniffing ... "More than one, not too many," she whispers back to her allies. And the spiral stairs are going to be a little tricky to get up in a hurry ...

Well, she can at least stick her staff up along the central pillar and start making the floor up there all nice and icy and slick. Sure, it'll give away that there are hostiles coming up, but the first head to pop up above floor level would do THAT and be a lot more vulnerable.

Once the floor is iced up, Xiaomu scrambles up the stairs with a battlecry of "HIGH SPEED XIAOMU!!" and launches herself away from the stairs, drawing one of her handguns and aiming for cultist kneecaps - however many cultists there are. She can only shoot so many at a time, though, and with one hand holding her staff, 'so many' equals 'one' - her allies will have to pick up the spares.

Seras Victoria (1084) has posed:
Seras brings down the first of the snipers with a swift elbow to the gut that's severely restrained... but still probably cracks ribs. in the same motion she whips the man's rifle away and takes a few shots of her own at the snipers. First at the ones further down her corridor... and then those clear across the courtyard.

    Since she is now ON the second floor, those barricades are now working in her favor.

    Much as it hurts her heart though, she shoots to kill. For that is the only thing one can really do with a gun. Anything that isn't lethal leaves them room to make a surprise recovery and open fire again after she declares the courtyard secure against snipers...

    So she aims for skulls and centers of mass, exactly as she's been trained. Shot after shot rings out as she charges down the hallway, firing out windows. A few times she has to deal with return fire, and...

    One bullet catches her in the arm, another in the shoulder... but she neatly turns her head away just in time from a bullet that whizzes past where her noggin' was!

    Seras drops into a roll, leaving a trail of blood... but not a heck of a lot of blood. Hers doesn't exactly pump. The wounds are already mending and pushing out bullets as necessary.

    "Wh-whew..." This time there's none of her berserker anger and violent tendencies that periodically flare up when dealing with monsters. Just a tense look of dread and intense, grim concentration.

    Setting up behind a barricade, she opens fire with the very weapons the snipers were using where feasible. Her own is more suited for close to medium range. It would work, but she'd be wasting a LOT of ammo!

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    As Xiaomu says, Ainsley takes up the rear position, so she is the last one to see the cultists that got subdued by her spell on the way further in. She spares a mild frown down at them as she passes, making sure they won't be a threat going forward. Once at the stairs and looking up, she keeps her eyes on the front the whole time, jogging along but trying not to make overly much noise. Then when Xiaomu makes her speedy advance, Ainsley hurries to keep up, and casts another spell on another cultist on her way in: "Stop!" The sound thrums through reality much like the last one, aiming to strike the target's mental faculties like a potent sedative.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
With the Stealth takedowns qickly out of the way thanks to her and Kotone will move tohold them in place once all is said and down. She'll also make sure to make su onre htey are down and two they are secured, as she'll pull some cuffs out of her matter Maniplator and move to check up her allies as she gts the order to go. She'll move to follow after Xiaomu and she's not gong to slow sown much. She should be able to keep up quite well all things considered. As Kotone is pretty high speed too, but she cloaks again and follows her comrade ahead.

Eryl Fairfax has posed:
=Rooftop team=

    For a few chaotic seconds, Seras' world is gunfire and smoke. But finally, the gunfire from across the courtyard ends. It seems like she's put them all down. And based on the gunfire coming from the first floor, the basement team has ascended. Gawain heads down to the first floor of their building to deal with any cultists down there. Now... that just leaves the barricaded doors to the brick building.

    Said entrance is also on the first floor. The doors have windows that show the other side is braced with a toppled vending machine, tables, chairs and anything else. The doors open inward, so a good meaty shove might be able to dislodge everything. Or maybe an explosive?

=Basement team=

    BANG! Xiaomu starts popping kneecaps. Cultists scream and collapse, while the one that receives Ainsley's special touch simply flops. The floor is cleared with plenty of groaning and crying from those wounded. It might be good to follow and make sure they don't put those guns to good use though!

    Checking upstairs reveals the bloodbath left by Seras, so all that's left is breaching the brick building. Again, the door on this side is stacked with heavy things, but any super-strength shove might be able to clear it.

Seras Victoria (1084) has posed:
With the upstairs dealt with, Seras takes the easy way down. She LEAPS OUT THE WINDOW and rolls the landing, then bursts straight into the lower level entrance to the building she's at... and heads for the barricaded door.

    Having discarded the cultists' weapons in favor of her own, she slings her rifle over her shoulder... and braces herself against the door.

    AND SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOVES using full shoulder action!

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
Well, all that ice under foot isn't going to help much now that the cultists are down for the count. Xiaomu lets the floor thaw out, and turns her attention to the barricaded door. She doesn't have grenades, bullets aren't going to do a lot of good; she *could* try freezing the whole mass and hoping that makes it more brittle but her ice magic doesn't get THAT cold ...

She just gets out of the way, reloads her handgun, and lets Kotone go for it.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa leaves the cultists to her comrades for the moment. With that done and seeing why you'd never want to clean up after a hellsing dinner party? Kotone gets an idea talking to Xiaomu on the comm. She lowers her shoulder makes reayd and full on charges. She pushes her body speed as hard as it can go ti shoulder check the barriate hopefully bursting through it.

Eryl Fairfax has posed:

    Simultaneously, the barricades are breached enough for both the rooftop and basement teams to get into the brick building. Immediately, the strangeness in the air hits them. It's cold, and rancid. Like the air from a fan ventilating a fast food kitchen, it practically clings to the skin in a thin film. They now stand in the halls that surround the council chambers, the sound of ominous chanting echoing dimly through the walls.

    Peeking into the room, it's apparent what is happening. Cultists have moved all the chairs and tables to create an open space, upon which they have spraypainted an occult circle on the carpet. The councillors are sitting in the circle, tied-up and gagged with the mayor in the middle, similarly bound. The materials they asked for are placed deliberately around the room, forming some kind of indecipherable patterns.

    The chanting has reached some kind of climax. Whatever they're working towards, it's going to happen soon.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley is slow in her steps to follow the others, making sure that the cultists that get incapacitated and detained aren't bleeding out. She isn't doing much more than glancing over them or kicking firearms away as she walks by, making sure to reach a good position for casting another spell. She sniffs in another breath, her eyes focused on the door, one hand resting on the hilt of her longsword.

    When she feels the air hit her, she breaks into a sprint. She doesn't wait, she doesn't think. She slides to a stop near some cover and she immediately activates her Sight. Except instead of just viewing the nature of the magic language or attempting to translate it, she makes sure she can see the chanting cultists, or the centerpiece to their spell, and she actively exerts a counter-influence with a soft resonating hum coming from her body like a tuning fork. Like some kind of magic eating predator, she seeks out the single loose thread (if it exists) of the imcomplete spell and she aims to unravel it with her Sight, setting back the attempt at a spell the moment she starts working.

    Unlike her ability to cast magic, this is somehow weightier. She focuses so intensely on this task that she could easily become a target but she isn't about to let them complete their ritual.

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
Why oh why did she *NOT* bring grenades, thinks Xiaomu as she sees (and smells) the ritual.

Fuck it, we're doing it live. With Kotone busting the door open, Xiaomu charges even faster than when she was coming up the spiral stairs, and practically runs along the walls as she tears through the main hall of the original room - shooting cultists (kill or maim, it doesn't matter right now), kicking the councillors' chairs over to get them out of that circle arrangement, occasionally conjuring a trail of ice to make a chair slide further away. And she's shooting up the piles of materials as well - trying to wreck the arrangement, even if she doesn't have clue number one *what* the arrangement is.

All she knows is that she was right - the cultists went to all this trouble to put themselves at the center of secular power in the city, which is the only kind of 'power' they really care about, and they're trying to take full advantage of the utility grid to do ... SOMEthing. Probably that 'living city' they're so gung-ho about.

But the problem with going this fast is that there are almost certainly going to be things Xiaomu CAN'T deal with on her first pass. Kotone's going to have to be the more methodical one about disrupting the ritual - and Seras, if she's able to lend firepower from the other end of things.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa bursts through the barricade with inhuman force clearing a passage for everyone else. She sadly does not have time to look at the Kotone sized hole in there. She keeps going mopving to get ready to disrupt the ritual that's going on. It may be too late though thankfully she's got Xiaomu and Ainsley there two people far better versed in magic. With Xiaomu going to cover the officals kotone gets in and she's using lethal force now she knows they have to be stopped.

She's gong to go after the ritualists to take them down rapidly and still cloaked like an angry phantom. Kotone doesn't like using lethal force. While she's not our right killing she's focusing on taking them down. Mostly with shots from her pistol.

Seras Victoria (1084) has posed:
What a thing to barge in on! Seras is gobsmacked. Wide-eyed, jaw dropping - and fangs on display for that reason - though she quickly shuts her mouth. And then demands... the cultists do the same?

    "Mouths shut, hands on your head! This ritual's over and those people will be let go!"

    It's no empty threat. She levels the rifle for the densest grouping of cultists. The rifle that's easily able to turn entire chest cavities of lethal organs into mush.

Eryl Fairfax has posed:
    The chambers, a place for discourse and debate, becomes an orgy of violence over the next few seconds. Cultists are gunned down, those taking fatal wounds slumping, blood splattering. Others take mere wounds, collapsing... but their chant doesn't falter. Councilers are kicked out of position, yelling muffled protests as they slide and tip. With every disruption, Ainsley finds another thread to pick at, pull. The arcane weavings begin to warp and weaken, falling apart like a house of cards.

But even as the ritual is disrupted, the horrid sensation does not falter. Indeed, there is a mystic background noise to it now, of quiet, steady breathing with the most rancid breath imaginable. The perfect mixture of car exhaust and industrial smells and melting asphalt. However, it is not getting any louder either.

    "S u c h a s h a m e" says a voice from the wall. The same voice as reported from the basement of the Animist Chambers. Lance Arbast, the founder of this cult, long dead but still speaking somehow. "W e w e r e c l o s e. O h w e l l. N e x t t i m e f o r s u r e." And then suddenly, those pipes that Xiaomu was so worred about? They erupt from the ground, entangling the mayor and dragging him down, below the floor. Several more grab for other councillors also!

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
'Urban Breath.' The cultists consider it their ideal, their goal. Xiaomu considers it an abomination - the epitome of human development in all the worst ways she can think of.

And with the stink of it filling the room, her opinion of the cult, the cultists, and their goal falls even *further*.

She can complain about it later; for now, she whips Suiren's blade free of the staff's sheath and tries to cut the nearest councilor free. She can't get to the mayor in time, but any of these people whom she can rescue - ANY win, ANY playing piece she can deny to the cultists - has to be worth grabbing for. She's doing her best not to inflict serious wounds on anyone while she's rescuing them, but she's not going to waste time trying to avoid clothing damage, and if somebody winds up bleeding, Xiaomu'll help give first aid when she isn't busy saving them from a fate worse than burial.

Ainsley (151) has posed:

    Oh, that's a different thing Ainsley is shouting-- and now a giant turtle man is manifesting behind her. She casts a spell in this single moment, and tries to encompass at least one, if not more, of the councillers under a magic shield that the strange manifested anthropomorphic turtle fisherman manifests. He flicks a fishing net in that direction that evaporates in blue shards of light and seems to represent the casting of that spell. Whether this has any effect depends on whether it can defend against the living PVC pipes. She doesn't look up from the reflection in her book as she casts, hunched forward as if she had a bad back in the stereotypical turtle-like posture... all so she can gaze into the eyes of her reflection. Once the spell is done, she breaks eye contact with her reflection and the manifestation fades.

Seras Victoria (1084) has posed:
"WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS THIS?!" Seras wails, immediately breaking into a full speed dash for the erupting pipes. "You can't- you CAN'T HAVE THEM!" Shrieks the Draculina, who will, if she can get close, immediately set to grabbing the pipes and trying to RIP THEM OUT OF THE GROUND with all her strength!

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa is going to move to help cut the councilors free that she can. She's unable to get to the Mayor but the otherS? She doesjn't have a combat knife so Kotone is going to have ot use her bear hands to try and rip the pipes apart, or other wise keep them away from their intended victems. this is going to do some serious damage to her hands at least externally but ther's no time to think about that. Rip and tear time to save a few people.

Eryl Fairfax has posed:
    Pipes scrape against barriers, unable to get a firm grip on councillors. Wires and cords are sliced or simply ripped apart by hand to protect the political authority. By the end of it, the Paladins have managed to spare 9 of the 15 councillors, not including the mayor. The rest are pulled into the underground, no doubt to be used by whatever the cultists have planned.

    Lance Arbast laughs, his voice fading away as radios squawk, Eryl's voice coming over the comms. "Paladins. Our sensors are detecting dangerous levels of arcane power throughout the whole city. Stay on the ground and work emergency services. We're ordering an evacuation until the Urban Breath cult is put to rest."

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
Nine saved, six plus mayor captured ... whatever they're being used for. It's not likely that they're willing members of the cult, either.

Xiaomu scrunches her nose up at the increasing stink of the 'Urban Breath,' and heads for the front door, starting to pull the barricade apart with a mix of her bare hands, and using Suiren (sheathed in its staff again) as a lever where necessary. If she doesn't keep busy, she *knows* she's going to start mauling the beaten-but-not-dead cultists, maybe fatally, and she'd rather be productive than vengeful.

Normally, Xiaomu likes humans, whether in spite of their foibles or (occasionally) because of them .... but this cult has gone waaaaaaaaay beyond the pale. Nothing will be so satisfying in this city as crushing the remainder of the cult, and foiling their plot for good ... but it's going to take planning and a coordinated effort to pull that off.

"We're going to need to create holy ground somehow," she remarks to nobody in particular - or maybe into her radio. "The biggest, greenest park around, someplace where things *live* - plants, trees, preferably animals too. Not just because they're cultivated, but because they've *been* alive there. Get some Shinto clergy to help sanctify it ..."

She trails off, already seeing issues with her proposal. But it's not like she has any particularly better ideas.

"So who was that jerk talking out of the wall?" is her other question.