5736/The Morning Ends

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The Morning Ends
Date of Scene: 10 March 2018
Location: Lumiere
Synopsis: The end of Lumiere's ancient past
Cast of Characters: 974, Kushiko, Rebecca Chambers, Staren, Count Kord, Leyanne Mace, 1137, Empty Tidings, Wandering Dog, Tomoe, Tanya Degurechaff

Carna (974) has posed:
    Enark managed to open a small breach in the Corruption by clearing a tunnel through it, just last night, to allow Nozomi Houken to enter Emblem City on a solo stealth mission. She successfully retrieved Tamamo no Mae, the last remaining among the missing (not counting Crow and Carna, who are still in there somewhere). And something extra. But SHE will have to wait until another time. Since last night, Enark has repeatedly exhausted all his magic energy, running himself ragged and bloody, trying to carve a tunnel through the Corruption. It went faster when Empty Tidings joined in to help, duplicating Enark's skills and abilities. They have used wards Enark has developed that rely upon Purity to keep the awfulness back. There is now a direct path through Enark's study to the door that hangs in mid-air. Streams of Corruption still flow around the edges, but the glyphs and sigils carved into the frame keep the evil-looking ooze from intersecting the path that Elites have to take to go into Emblem itself.

    The walls of their 'tunnel' are hideous and best not looked at. They portray visions and glimpses of things better left unseen, temptations and trickery, sudden changes in perspective that can cause one to stray from the path without realizing it. Appropriate warnings would have been provided already.

    Enark looks absolutely terrible, and will absolutely not be going with them, as useful as his healing might be. Someone has to stay back, hold onto all of their anchors, and make sure they have a home to come back to. Besides, Empty Tidings can probably reproduce Enark's healing and water barrier magic for now at least.

    The door ahead of them shows an indistinct view.

    It's dark on the other side, but there's a faint light source regardless. No sign of paintings, weird towers, or huge expanses of white space right now.

Kushiko has posed:
There was technically a need for support that unfortunately, a good three of Kushiko's four frames did not directly provide. Unless you count 'kill everything in a 100 meter radius' a support skill, this is why the frame of choice was her technical 'first', Mag.

This might explain why the air got a little more charged once she was there.

The first instinct someone who had a fully technological origin might have is to be worried--Mag was appropriately named, for her dominion was electromagnetism to such a degree that even the ferrous material in bones was not beyond her reach. Yet as much as one could feel creeping terror, it was highly brief because that presence, that field of electromagnetism wrapped itself around those who were gathered here--as though to mark them, acknowledge them with a guardian spirit.

She looked to Enark--well, 'look' as much as a cyclopean, faceless Warframe head might look at anyone, the technorganic frame placing a hand on his shoulder, boxy-looking sniper rifle tuckled in her other hand. <"Don't push yourself anymore than you have to. You're just as important too, you know."> She gave a very slight nod to Tidings, a sense of caution in her regarding the Exalt given what she had to do the last they met. She was still a little... uncertain she did the right thing there.

But doing the right thing does not mean the same as doing the necessary thing.

Mercifully, she was ignoring the sights and sounds from the walls as she turned, the tabi-footed 'classic' ninja stylings looked unassuming, but great power lay within the feminine figure. With parts of her 'armor' floating rigidly. Somewhere, science is crying. Nonetheless, she turns her attention towards the door, then to the others as she walks up to it. <"As long as we don't get too crazy separated, and depending on what we might be running into, I'll be able to provide shielding for us,"> she offers. She needed targets, respectfully. <"Past that, none of you need worry about the usual effects powers like mine would have on you."> She props the long, railgun sniper on her shoulder. Presuming further still, that they don't have power incontinence at least.

<"Let's bring everyone home."> she concludes, before heading for that door once everyone's ready to leap into the proverbial breach.

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
As they say, it's just another day in paradise, right?

When you can consider a place like this 'paradise' then you know you've gotten accustomed to it. Don't believe it? Just ask Rebecca, who's pretty much gotten used to this whole place and how bizarre and grotesque it can be. It barely even bothers her any more. Instead, all that matters to her is that she deal with the task at hand.

Loading a clip into her Beretta and then fastening the flashlight to it, Rebecca nods to the others as she prepares to move out as well. "We've come this far, and there's no way we're backing down now!" She says as she heads for the door. "We're gonna finish this!"

Staren has posed:
    A week has passed, and Staren's had time to finish customizing his replacement armor. It looks exactly the same as it used to.

    "You've done incredible work, Enark. I don't know where we'd be without you, but... not anywhere good." Staren looks towards the door. "Although I guess where we're going now isn't anywhere good..." he shakes his head. "But you know what I mean." He approaches the door, stopping for just a second or two to nervously glance at his diagnostic readouts. But all systems are showing green right now.

    He steps in.

Count Kord has posed:
    Kord is here. He is much larger than he was, and so it takes some doing for him to get around the cramped spaces here and there in Lumiere... though it doesn't actually seem to impede him very much. His agility allows him to slip through narrow spaces with ease. The great red and black wyvern waits for everyone else to enter the tunnel before he does just so he doesn't impede the group, and keeps watch of their surroundings. His bright blue eye with the white pupil slit idly glances at the party as they shuffle on by. He doesn't even blink, and hardly seems to breathe, the draconic creature's form wavering like black smoke, gentle light and bloody mist given form.

    He's quiet. He usually was even before the change. His excited smile, though, is a lot more easy to read. He's going to get into a fight he can feel hyped about, and that's a rare pleasure in his life. A truly simple circumstance for battle.

Leyanne Mace has posed:
Leyanne Mace has left the dog-tag with Enark. She's not let go of it since he gave it to her, attaching it to the chain that carries her own tags, and only after fighting with herself for several moments was she able to give it back to him for safekeeping. Then a moment of compassion; she sets a hand on his shoulder and reassures him they're going to bring everyone back. With that done, she sets about getting prepared, dropping the huge duffel bag she's carrying and opening it up.

She's among the last of the group ready, purely because of how long it takes her to attach, calibrate, and load her Bushmaster gun.. After unstowing the M242, Crocodile according to the name, she has to put on the steadicam-derived support rig, connecting it to her onboard power supply and so forth. It takes a while, but eventually the heavy weapons mouse has her heavy weapon set up and plugged in. A boom mike extends from somewhere in her hair to near her mouth to provide communications, while a cable snakes from the datajack below her left ear and into her backpack.

Stepping up next to the others, she looks into the tunnel a moment before averting her gaze "I second the 'stick together' plan." She says. "It's much easier to provide cover fire if we're close together. But don't bunch up too much, yeah?"

With that said, when everyone goes through, she's among the first, probably not far behind Staren.

Asterios (1137) has posed:
Asterios is also here. Or rather, Asterios was also here. Asterios is now already charging down into those nightmarish, corruption-ridden corridors like a man on a mission.

He is, of course. He has so much to do and so little time. A world to dismantle. Gods to shatter against the rocks. His master had given him an order: to destroy all that had taken so much from him. And so he will.

Corruption be damned. There is nothing in the endless depths of this twisted, malevolent world which he will permit to stop him. The minotaur's rage is intense indeed.

...Well. At least this way he's going to be up front to tank whatever hits might be coming the party's way.

Empty Tidings has posed:
Empty Tidings did what she could, helping Enark recover from his grievous injuries enough to actually escape the last time they were there. It might have left him with some fishlike scales instead of scabs... but they'll go away with time, don't worry.

She's back again. She stands with the rescued and the rescuers, dressed in a primarily black kimono decorated with vivid floral designs. Her hair is long and black, without a hint of the scarlet that made 'Eve Ren' stand out -- except for the scarlet ribbons tied up in it, each bearing small brass bells that ring with every step.

She looks to the others. The Warframe gives her pause. She smiles at it, very slightly, and then turns to the entrance.

"I intend to find the one who created this place," Empty Tidings says clearly and deliberately, "and feed him his own liver."

She strides forward. Her right hand, apparently normal, is curled into a tight fist.

Wandering Dog has posed:
The Wandering Dog was part of the group. Dressed in his tunic and cracking his knuckles, there was a thumbs up to Enark for his assistance, as well as a nod to Empty Tidings. "Let me punch them a few times. They need to know the consequences of what they've done." Unlike Balences, there was no mask when he was ready for action. Unlike Balences, he was covered in scars. And unlike Balences, he never had doubt, and had no issue tearing people apart. No issue killing the person who caused this.

The martial artist started to stride forward, and then broke into a run through the tunnel. Wandering Dog's honed senses would help him find anything strange in their approach, and he'd try to keep up to Asterios, so that whatever Asterios tanks, he could punch through. "Alright, big guy, let's tear them apart!"

Tomoe has posed:
There was hell to pay for her and Jeci too. The other woman had been made to overlay her ti supress her and yet she'dd been someone and she didn't feel right hating this other her for lack of another term. So here she was in the tunnel still not in the best of shape from her last operation against the Mask of Winters but she's got a job to finish here. She's still feeling bad about what she did to Enark but there's little she can do now about it. She moves down the tunnel silent her expression gruim there's hell to pay and she intends to collect. She takes a note of Leyanne who seems to be thinking much as she is with the weapon's she's bringing, good cover that will make her job easier.

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    'Destroy this place,' she had said, when she broke the tenuous hold this so-called 'god' held over Asterios. A simple command, but one that even Tanya has been surprised by the result of: A furious minotaur charging into the heart of Emblem City with every intention of razing it to the ground. Something that the small Major is well intending to do herself.

    As soon as she exits the tunnel on the side of Emblem, Tanya ascends-- having acquired a new flight unit and a fresh stock of ammunition for her Thompson sub-machine gun. While she rises, the young girl thumbs off the safetyof her weapon, her voice coming forth loud, clear, and confident.

    "Give me the strength to uphold the strong, the will to support the willful, and the fury to aid the furious in pursuit of Your Divine Rule," As she speaks, the blue glow of her eyes intensifies, then washes out to a deific gold. Her ascent slows, then stops as she stares down at the city, "Grant me the power to spread Your will to this faithless world, and spread Your name before the nameless who claim your station."

    Pupils contract, and her lips split into a wide grin that almost looks like she has fangs. Free hand lifting, she swipes it to one side, generating a holographic targeting grid in front of her.

    "I'm not leaving until whatever misbegotten creature that operates this dimension is crushed underfoot, beaten, and broken! TEAR THIS CITY APART!"

Carna (974) has posed:
    Enark stays back and waves weakly at the mixture of concern, thanks, and so on. "I'll be here when you get back. Just be certain that all of you return." He then just sits there and tries to meditate. Healed wounds are fine and good, but there's a stark difference between that and stamina and magic energy reserves.


    As everyone goes through, they emerge in the form of... Bolts of energy that streak down from a starry night sky, with a moon looming large and pale. They strike down all in different places around Emblem City, ravaged by a mixture of their past conflict and now seemingly some sort of enormous upheaval. Tremors, perhaps.

    In each case, something may be noticed beyond the immediate surroundings. All abilities which exceed human normal, unlike the first time they came here, are not suppressed, but rather enhanced. They would feel more powerful than normal, more skilled, sharper of senses, of wits, or of whatever particular Advantages they have over completely normal right-off-the-street muggle sorts.

    Hopefully they won't need it.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Asterios and Tanya==

    Asterios finds himself deep underground, along with Tanya. They are in some sort of chamber. A machine room or something. The same one where the architect named Large witnessed Coeus creating his 'Crows'. Meaning there's an elevator around here somewhere too. There's not a lot of room to fly indoors, and taking off quickly with the expectation of flight could easily lead to ramming directly into the ceiling. Hopefully Tanya's flight is more controllable than that.

    Blood is still sticky and goopy all over the floor, leading out into the hallway that passed by the elevator, but it's definitely older than when Asterios and Leyanne, in their other personas, were here last. The stained throne, the pedestals upon which globs of mechanical viscera were places, the pipes and machines that compose the walls, all of it is still here.

    And Coeus' body lays torn apart upon the thorne, apparently already 'dead'.

    There is no sign of any divine presence still living within it.

    However, there's an unsettling noise coming from somewhere in the general area. Maybe... Outside this building. In that big empty space that the Selenes once transported him through. Will they be so friendly this time? If not, it might be up to Tanya to fly Asterios out of here.

    That will work out great, definitely.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Count Kord==

    Kord descends in a streak of lightning to the street somewhere. He, like Asterios and Tanya, and everyone else, will have been aware of the changes to how Emblem City looks, the night sky, and everything else, by passing through it. The information is processed and recorded in memory, even for those moving close to the speed of light.

    The difference is that he is stranded alone in a street line with identical shattered buildings on either side, that seems to go on forever in either direction, with occasional abandoned vehicles to break the monotony. Whether he just looks hard enough or takes to the air to get a better view, he will spot a marble fountain, with a blocky black silhouette sitting on its edge, with two pointy ear or horn-like protrusions.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Empty Tidings==

    Empty Tidings arrives in a bolt of poisonous essence, sizzling the marble bridge she lands upon. She has arrived directly in front of the Temple of Phoebe. The huge mega-cathedral is the biggest source of light available right now, and seems to be what is reflecting off the moon to in turn provide light elsewhere, in the absence of the now-expended sun. The statue of Phoebe still stands there. The one that, when it was damaged, resulted in the PRAYER System failing.

    To hide an engine that produces fake miracles inside of the fake image of a goddess... That makes a sort of twisted sense, doesn't it? The core of the PRAYER System, right here in the place where everyone prays. It's actually obvious on hind-sight.

Carna (974) has posed:

    Kushiko arrives in a place in Little Arcadia. A church that serves as one of the entrances to a newly-constructed underground shelter. All the other noble souls, the dead of Emblem City who were conspicuously absent during the initial rampage of the Elites through Emblem City. They are all gathered inside, including a number of orphans who knew Kushiko as Soupi. Even a band of kids who played at being heroes in order to 'protect' people... Who now seem to have become actual heroes through PRAYER Sytem, equipped with arms and armor. They react quickly, but panickedly, their lack of experience turning into confusion and fear as some machine thing just magicks into existence in front of them.

    One of the kids says shakily as he holds out a large sword towards Kushiko's frame, "H-hold it right there! In the name of the Gargoyle Knights!"

Count Kord has posed:

    Kord appears, his silhouette briefly warped by his recovery from an unusual event. His head lifts and his eyes open, and he takes in the dark surroundings around him. Darkness was his ally, no shadow could hide its truths from him. He turned his head to observe his surroundings, closing one of his eyes briefly to take in the devastation. He is beginning to understand what this place was meant to be, after processing the memory without the hatred and anger coloring his memories.

    "Where did he go?"

    Kord was only here to rescue Crow, first and foremost. His priorities had shifted during his actual-death experience. He spreads both of his wyvern-like wings, and gives them one strong beat, which launches him forward down the road. He takes the low path, and conceals his presence by appearing like a shadow among shadows, to make it hard to spot him if one isn't looking right at him as he passes by. He swerves through obstacles and even unconsciously avoids crashing into a light post by just phasing through it briefly.

    He comes to a halt at the fountain when he reaches it, and comes in for a landing, the shadows bleeding off of his body like smoke. He lands and inquires to the shadow...

    "Crow? Is that you?"

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Leyanne Mace and Tomoe==

    Leyanne and Tomoe arrive 'upstairs' from Aserios and Tanya, by an unfathomable distance. The same building that was once Coeus' Worskhop, now transformed into a hollow tower with windows on floor after floor after floor of empty space. They stand right outside the place now labeled LUM-01 that they fought to protect last time, right before Enark brought Leyanne's anchor to her and was near-fatally wounded by Tomoe.

    A pale yellow light shines up from the peak of the building, but is increasingly flickering and growing weak. The gray and red lights that came from the mountain and Phoebe's temple, respectively, have already extinguished.

    The city breathes. And then says in a voice made of creaking timbers, crumbling masonry, the vibration of foot falls on streets, the breaking of glass, So you came back. My children. My family. You returned to me after all. I knew they couldn't corrupt you.

    The voice truly seems to come from all of Emblem City. Every street, every window, every building, everything. The God Within The Walls' true nature IS the city.

    Come, there's not much time left.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Rebecca Chambers and Staren==

    Staren and Rebecca arrive somewhere completely different. They arrive on top a mountain. A really, really, really, really big mountain. So tall that seeing what lies below is difficult due to the fog and clouds that ring it. They're so close to the night sky that it almost feels like they could reach up and touch it. Somewhere down there might be a forest. And there's something glowing in the distance to their south, illuminating the cloud layer. But otherwise, it's just the two of them up here. Alone.

    With a very large boulder, blood-stained, and four sets of broken chains and manacles lying around it.

    I greet you, but I do not welcome you. You should have stayed in the place that waits for you. You should have held tightly to your homes. The voice is sourceless, sounding right nearby, everywhere, and nowhere at the same time. I am called Prometheus. You have claimed all of your people, and one of mine as well. Why do you return?

Asterios (1137) has posed:
Being accompanied directly by his Master seems to have given Asterios a serious case of the bloodthirsties. The only thing that can quench that kind of hunger is a furious smashing. Or... Perhaps, just maybe...

A mystery. Of sorts.

Asterios materializes first, but only by the slimmest of margins. He was, after all, charging ahead at non-relativistic speeds. His crimson eyes glow in the darkness, taking in the... Familiar sights around him. No. Not quite familiar. It's old. So... Very old. Asterios is silent for a moment, glancing back at his master's arrival. "This is... Where Coeus was. Where we met with him. His throne. His creations. His blood."

There's a beat as that voice echoes through the halls. Asterios feels his hair stand on end. "That's... Him. Coeus. He's... Where? Above us...?" Asterios frowns, glancing around. "Master. We should go up too. But... It's a long climb, and there was another corridor down here we didn't see. Maybe we should check that first...? If not, I will climb and carry you up."

Tomoe has posed:
As the breakthrough is made they come under fire, it seems it's not unexpected. Tomoe will rapduiluy start dropping a defence buff on anyone allies who is near her, it might leve her open, bug givne the level of fight they are going to be facing. She also feels a hell of a lot more powerful all of a sudden like her wounds of the previous day are lessned and she's ready for a fight. She keeps an eye on Leyanne as she make ready to protect the heavy weapon's mouse.


She sputters and moves foward making sure to guard Leyanne as well this is going to be getting crazy.

Leyanne Mace has posed:
Leyanne Mace growls and looks around when she hears Coeus' voice, aiming around with her pistol. Paird... the echo of Paird wants to listen to him. But the memory of her first love is a sharp, raw wound across her half-plastic heart, as fresh here as the day it happened. "Corrupt me?" She spits. "That's rich, coming from... anyone in charge of this place. You... wiped our minds. You overwrote us. Paird deserved... her own life, afterlife. She deserved more."

She swings the gun around to cover, looking for Crows, Selenes... anything that suggests this might be a delaying tactic, keeping an eye on Tomoe herself. Quietly, she adds "I think... Coeus senses that... we mourn for them."

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Wandering Dog==

    Wandering Dog arrives... Right in front of the home that he once dwelled in as Balences. The family house, with all its memories. Years? Decades? How much time passed with them while he lived out someone else's life? They should still feel real. They should still feel as genuine as if they had always been his. And while most of the house is dark like everywhere else in Emblem City, the kitchen window has a light in it. Flickering. A candle has been set on the dining room table, and there's a woman sitting at it, hands folded beneath her chin.

    Balences' wife. Waiting for him to come home.

Staren has posed:
    ==Rebecca and Staren - Prometheus's Mountain==

    Being a streak of light isn't unlike teleporting, except this time, he's aware of the whole process and able to percieve the world around him. Weird! As he reforms, he notices that all systems are working at above 100% normal capacity. Strange... is he being decieved? He feels super-capable, though...

    Staren starts to look for the city below until a voice speaks up, and he turns towards the boulder. "Two of ours are still missing. One may be irrecoverable, but we're not giving up yet. Also, we still need to find the Lord of Fear and stop him, for good this time. What about you? Why are you working with the Lord of Fear? And what is this place's deal, if it was not his creation?"

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    The ceiling was a surprise. Tanya arrests her ascent, fortunately, before she slams into the chamber roof. Gold eyes sweep the immediate surroundings, followed closely by the muzzle of her weapon. Spotting no immediate threat, however, she lifts her rifle skyward. The safety remains off. Using her free hand, she briefly shields her mouth and nose while examining the blood-covered floor. Unintentionally masking her disappointed scowl. Did someone already kill the bastard before she could get a piece of him?

    Asterios explains. Through some distant memory, perhaps, and Tany alowers her hand from her face, "So this is the workshop you mentioned. I'm not a fan of the decor." When the very walls shake, she glances upward at the perceived source. Her own ahoge almost straightens in response, her body going tense.

    "Sounds like it," Her weapon is shifted, gaze traveling the chamber once more, "I can fly, Carrying me isn't necessary." She's floating right now, after all.

    Thankfully she doesn't have to walk in all that blood on the floor. Some neurosis or another always makes her uncomfortable, even on the battlefield of the Rhine, when it came to the crimson essence of others. Nothing to do but power through it... Or avoid it under some pretense or another. She pauses before the shredded remains upon the throne. The scowl returns. The physical body is meaningless, it seems. Which does match what Count Kord had said. Physical violence is probably not going to be the ultimate solution to this mess.

    Recovering her expression, Tanya draws her pistol, takes aim, and discharges a single round into the corpse's head. In a practiced motion, she slots the weapon back into her holster, turning towards Asterios, "Physical violence is probably not the solution. But it's still satisfying. Before we proceed upward-- what is the noise I've been hearing since our arrival?"

Empty Tidings has posed:
Tidings expects to step through the passage into someplace alongside her erstwhile allies, ready to make righteous declarations (blugh) and fight evil for goodness and light (ick).

That does not happen.

The poisonous comet hits the bridge. Green fire blazes across the formerly pure white stone, leaving it burned and darkened. When the flash of viridian light clears, Empty Tidings is left standing there alone. She adjusts her kimono with small motions, tucking a stray lock of hair back into place. Her expression, turned upon the Temple, is sour.

She approaches, walking calmly towards the colossal statue and the bigger building. Primordial Essence flows through her body. It surges, a strength greater than what she is familiar with, surges through her body. False skin on her right hand flakes away, turning her exposed hand and wrist to carved black stone inlaid with delicate brass patterns. Fiery Old Realm characters hover just above her sleeve, rendered in green flame.

If something is watching her with any sort of supernatural surveillance, that power gives a very clear, very literal message, laid over whatever else they see or hear:

                             THE MONSTER IS HERE                              

"A Temple seems a fitting place for a tomb," Empty Tidings says to no one in particular. "I think I'll tear it down before taking that statue of yours. Won't that be a grand thing to see?"

Kushiko has posed:
This could be very interesting, to put it mildly.

When she descended, she noticed--she /felt/ the augmentation of power, not unlike what it felt when the Void's corrupting energies worked in her favor in the midst of unsealing a relic of the Void thanks to an extradimensional rift. Yet this was different--and more concerning their missing comrades.

Especially seeing as while it was left unsaid by her, she was keenly ready to wreck things as well, only to find the place has been torn apart by something.

<"... what in the world happened here?"> she half-murmurs to herself before finally finding herself where she was--and that's when memories assail her in the best--and worst of ways. Thoughts she might have had about checking comms-wise with the others are briefly dismissed as she regarded the children, and the church itself. It pained her, for an instant--yet, there was something else that made it insurmountably worse--

And that was picking up arms against her.

The mention of Gargoyle Knights besides, she was momentarily taken aback in a way. They were orphans, like she was--not just Soupi, but the child herself. She and countless others from Zariman Ten-Zero. Her mind briefly flashed there as Mag seemingly complied--becoming stock still as her mind flickered and briefly considered. <"I'm sorry, but no."> she 'speaks'. Ever that peculiar disembodied aspect that said the voice /came/ from her, but without actual vocal chords on the flesh within it, well.

Electromagnetic energy began to well up in her. <"I'm here to help, to save two friends of mine. You knew me as Soupi, but that's not who I am. This is who we are."> she finishes, half-gesturing to herself. But she's ready to seize those weapons--however, she'd rather not--not yet. The fact that they could be fooled into whatever Coeus or these Titans wanted them to be was one thing. However, they might be defending what remained.

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
Traveling in the form of a bolt of energy? Well, Rebecca's traveled in many other methods of teleportation and what not ever since she's been in the Multiverse. So traveling like this really doesn't seem to bother her at all. In fact, it's not until she lands and discovers that she feels a bit more... powerful?

She finds that her Beretta feels almost like a feather in her hands. Not to mention, other things like her reflexes and her wits seem a bit more sharpened. "This must be the work of this place," She says initially to herself, but then notices Staren beside her. "Looks like I didn't wind up alone," She adds with a slight smirk, but then frowns as she realizes where they are.

Up on a really big mountain, with an appearance that matches the atmosphere of this place well, but for some reason it's making Rebecca uneasy.

Then there's the issue of Prometheus, and for some reason it causes Rebecca to freak out. Fortunately, Staren takes the role of speaking, so Rebecca simply stands at attention as if attempting to present a respectful appearance to Prometheus.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Count Kord==

    Crow looks up at Kord, only recognizing his new form by virtue of having seen it before. It smiles weakly. "Hey. I guess my goodbye didn't stick." The smiles fades. "I told you already. I can't go with you. I have to stay here. I'm glad you came back for me, but I wish you hadn't." Crow looks down at the street, and at the blocky appendages it wields now. "Miss Carna can still be rescued. Don't let this world reset with her inside of it, or this will start all over again."

    On that note, Carna heard the thunder, saw the light, and now can hear the voice of a god rumbling through the city. She is making her way through the darkness, tracking the silhouette of a monster she saw in the sky. Her arm is reattached, by crude means mostly involving reclaiming her chainsword and tying the limb to the stump with it, but she's wounded and weak. She never regained any Dead Lights in Lumiere before coming here.

    Faintly, she thinks she hears voices, and starts heading that way. Limping slowly.

Count Kord has posed:
    Kord frowns at Crow, looking visibly angry by the shadow's words. He sweeps one of his claw-tipped wings in a gesture of exasperation and barks back at him, his voice picking up. His neck fluff poofs up in clear agitation, and his nose wrinkles, and the light in his eyes builds.

    "You never told me WHY!"

    He slaps his claws down into the stone. "This place isn't a home!" he adds, "This is a prison! If you were a part of it, you have grown beyond that! This isn't your home, because you have been fighting it since the very day we all got trapped in here!" He points a claw in an accusing fashion at Crow.

    "Unless you can give me a GOOD reason not to bother, you are leaving with me, AND Carna," he concludes.

Wandering Dog has posed:
Wandering Dog froze to a stop as he appeared outside the house. He knew it like the back of his hand. All the cracks, the places he wanted to paint up or repair, that he planned on making into a project. The normal life he had inside, the loving family. The martial artist stook a step forward, noticing the light inside the window. His wife. Waiting for him. He'd never abandon her, he told her. He loved his family, he showed in his every action.

But that was Balences. Wandering Dog may have been Balences, but he wasn't anymore, and he knew this all for the lie it was. He knew where his real emotions pointed him. But regardless...Wandering Dog couldn't be sure what the deal was with her. Was she an actual spirit? Or was she a prisoner like he was? If she and the children were prisoners, they needed to be released. If they were spirits...well.

The Creationite duck down, picking up the key from under a rock by the windowsill. Slowly, Dog moved to start unlocking the door, before stepping inside. For once, he didn't take off his shoes. It wasn't necessary, because this house was going to crumble in the end. And then, he approached the kitchen, looking like a different man. Scarred and rugged, a man who has spent every day of his life learning to fight. He doesn't know what to say, so he just stares in her direction for several moments, and moves over to her. He just needs to get close enough to touch her.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Empty Tidings==

    There is no immediate answer to the Infernal. The glow of the temple seems to be gradually ebbing. Visible so. Little ripples of light pulse out from it in fainter and shorter intervals. Power bleeding out of it. Then the voice of Phoebe speaks. Coeus' voice is like moonlight, like machines, like learning, like the joy of discovery, and the cold analytical mind that can do anything in the name of progress. It IS invention.

    Prometheus' voice, though not yet heard by anyone except Asterios, and now Staren and Rebecca, was a wall, a tomb, a colossal weapon lying dormant. It was a civilization that grown outwards from the base of what they knew as a monument, a holy relic, that provided them with knowledge, with power, with culture, but which was a slumbering disaster waiting to unfold, even as it prepared them to deal with the inevitable cataclysm.

    Prometheus' voice IS foresight.

    Phoebe is the embodiment of fury, of wrath, of heroism and bravery, of light cast by fire that burns cities and reveals the future in its embers. Phoebe's voice is power, and propehcy, and destruction, and the boldness of humanity, all in one. Every tone speaks of something that is pre-ordained. Every syllable is either inspiration to greatness or a blade of doom hung over Tidings' head waiting for her to unleash it.

    Phoebe IS prophecy.

    But the three of them are much more.

    IF Coeus is the Moon, and Prometheus the Earth, then Phoebe is the Sun.

    If Coeus is the forge that crafts tools, then Prometheus is the weapon spawned from that craftsmanship, and Phoebe is the one that wields them.

    Her message to Empty Tidings is simple, and direct, and unambiguous:


    The temple dims further as a pillar of sunlight strikes down from the heavens, severing the bridge in one sweep, and sending it starting to fall away from Emblem City towards the void. Standing on the temple island with Empty Tidings is an incarnation of Wrath. A female figure, composed of searing fury and righteousness.

    She does not wait for the Infernal to be ready to fight.

    Her sword of sun's fury springs into existence, and she surges forwards in the blink of an eye.

Asterios (1137) has posed:
Tanya straight up doubletaps the corpse in the throne. Asterios watches with that characteristic, thousand-mile stare of his. "Mmn. Yes, it is. But... Master. I don't think the sound is coming from... /up." Asterios turns his head to the ceiling. It's a bit of a tight fit, but... Still. "No. It's from down below. Something is... Even deeper than we are. They said this place was still under construction. If there are more floors beneath this one, then..."

It's difficult to say exactly what that terrible noise might be. Not machine-noise. Just some kind of... awful, terrible clamour. Asterios' lips draw into a fine line as he deftly scoops his master up onto one shoulder. "We should investigate before we head up. There might be... something important."

And so off he goes. The first and most obvious place to check is back the way he came a lifetime ago-- towards that mysterious corridor to nowhere. Perhaps there's a way down? Perhaps there's... Something else.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Tomoe and Leyanne==

    The city sighs, releasing pent up pressure of steel plates and concrete tunnels and skyscrapers stacked on top of each other. Coeus sounds saddened by the rejection by Leyanne. But answers to Tomoe. Yes. You are all my family, even if not by blood. I consider you to be under my protection even now. I was mistaken in my methods of trying to keep you safe. I see that now. Prometheus helped me realize it. But it is not too late to make it better. What are your complaints? Your grievances? How would you rather this city be?

    Energy gathers in LUM-01, crackling blue electricity surging up the tower's exterior. I have vey little left now. Come, tell me your wish. Do you want your powers back? To be told all that transpires here? To retain this corrupted self alongside your pure one? To come and go as you please? I can grant you one wish. I have enough left for that. What is the price I must be to bring you back?

    The lights flicker in abandoned buildings, as Coeus tries to bring some of its drained city-body back to life.

    Come now. Do not waste what we had together over a tantrum. I can admit my faults. Now it is time to come home, Jeci, Paird. Coeus's voice sounds so tired. So weak, compared to the majesty of before.

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    Having drawn attention to the unidentified sound, Tanya nods once, turning in place as she tries to pinpoint the source herself. Asterios has a similar idea to hers, though the method is...decidedly different. He simply picks her up. The miniature Major bristles immediately when gathered, like a cat that doesn't like to be handled, but at the end of the day he is still a ten foot bull man and she is still a waifish, malnourished pre-teen.

    Tana settles on Asterios' shoulder with a put-out expression, somewhere between a scowl and surprise. Composing herself, she lifts her Thompson again to double-check the magazine. Despite having spent no rounds. Perhaps the same sort of 'relaxation' behavior as when a stressed cat starts washing its face.

    "You understood, good," she states, "I do want to investigate anything of interest here before we venture deeper." Like the unsettling noises she's hearing. And anything in this 'workshop' of value. Lowering her weapon, she flips the safety back on, "It'd do no good if we passed over something that'd wind up being important later. But you know this place better than I do."

    Also Asterios has made it clear that he won't accept 'no' to offers to carry his Master, today.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Rebecca and Staren==

    I do not know the answer to all of the questions you ask me. This is Emblem. Or was. It has recently been rechristened 'Lumiere' as we altered the system. We were trying to keep the dead safe, even from themselves, until it was time for their reincarnation. And that required the manipulation of memory, the sating of egos. It was all going to be erased when they came back anyway, so what did it matter? But everything is all wrong. The voice of a silent sentinel, an ancient obelisk overlooking human civilization, letting them bask in its shadow, even as that shadow grows deeper and deeper, resonates with them all.

    I do not know why this all feels so off, but it does. The Corruption that swamps us may have something to do with it. Perhaps... We are not really us. And there is some other force, on par with the Unshaper, that has made our world and time melt into many others. There is a pause. Either way, it is clear this is not working. We must abandon this plan. You do not belong here. We must release everyone who has been trapped. I have advised my companions appropriately. It would be wrong to hold anyone prisoner when they have somewhere to go home to.

    The cloud layer parts behind Staren and Rebecca. The two you seek are below. With how strong you are now, you can get there. Before you depart though, please tell me about yourselves. What of your families? Your homes? Who taught you to be who you are? What are your experiences as mortals, and how might this have been done differently? The closest thing I have to a family are those two, and one who is gone now. Who set you on the path you are on now?

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
"My family and my home?" Rebecca bites her lower lip, looking down as she thinks of this. "Well, I was the child of Deborah and Joseph Chambers, and while it was never understood why, I was considered to be a child prodigy. I don't think anyone or anything taught me to be the way I am, I was just born naturally that way." She takes a deep breath and blows it out before she continues. "I mean I graduated college at the age of eighteen, which is very young, I admit. I was hired by the Raccoon Police Department with the promise of being given a research lab if I did some work with the Special Tactics And Rescue Service... but then."

At that, Rebecca's voice trails off, as the painful memories of Raccoon City float into her mind again. "The Umbrella Corporation unleashed their viral weapons all over my hometown of Raccoon City. It was too much and the government had to destroy the whole city." She shakes her head. "And what could I have done differently?" By now, Rebecca is gritting her teeth. "There was really nothing else I could have done differently. After the first incident with their viruses, Umbrella quickly covered up the whole thing by saying it was a fire caused by my team after we crashed our helicopter. To top that off, the chief was in line with Umbrella, and he went along with the whole thing, suspending the team indefinitely and stopping all of our efforts to expose Umbrella."

A pause as Rebecca realizes that she's ranting about the whole thing. "But what could I have done differently?" She sighs. "I could have attempted to leave Raccoon City and spread the word to the outside area about what Umbrella was doing. As far as I knew, the chief didn't have his authority outside of Raccoon City."

By now, Rebecca's looked up again and says, "I guess the who set me on the path that I am on now was none other than my own enemy, the Umbrella Corporation. I've devoted myself to fighting against them and their monsters. It's made me a lot stronger and more determined." She smiles a little. "Kind of ironic, that your own enemy sets you on the path to who you truly are."

Carna (974) has posed:

    The boy with the sword falters, eyes widening as Kushiko says she's Soupi. Or was known as such. "N-no way." The toussled red hair on his hair is roughed up further as he lets his blade touch the floor with a loud clang and runs his other hand across his head. "No, there's no way. Soupi..." he steps forward. "How could they do this to you? Are you... Inside of that somewhere?"

    A blonde girl comes forward as well. "I recognize her voice! Soupi! That's Soupi!"

    "Kartha, stay back!"

    "Soupi's come back to us! I knew she would! It doesn't matter what she looks like!"

    The armed orphans all come running forward after the one called Kartha, a mix of horror and gladness on their faces. Kartha sobs hysterically as tries to cling to the warfame with both arms. Then a young dark-skinned boy with white hair pushes his way through the crowd. "What's going on?"

    The red-haired kid, hanging back, says, "Rasiel--"

    "That's Resaran now." the other boy snaps coldly.

    "R-right. Resaran, this is Soupi! She looks different, but she says she came back!"

    Resaran looks upon the mechanical form now worn by Kushiko. "Where's Lasyra?" he asks calmly. "She was abducted last night, along with Miss Maej. Did you bring her back with you?"

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Count Kord==

    Crow looks saddened by Kord's response, and just keeps looking at the ground. A good reason for why it can't leave here. A 'why' beyond 'I belong here'. "Well, there is one." Crow looks up. "If I leave here, I'll die. Things born of this place can not survive outside of it. No matter what."

    Suddenly, Carna, staggering up the street behind the two of them, looks up and sees them. She yells out, "KORD! GET BACK!" Carna points at Crow. "THAT'S NOT CROW! IT'S ONE OF -THEM-!" It's amazing that Carna can even remember Kord or Crow considering this Carna never met the latter of the two, and she never saw Kord in his new form. But she, like the others, has been strengthened. And that includes both her senses and her memory.

    Crow looks up startled for a moment, but then back down without denying the accusation.

    Then a wave of blue descends upon them. A curtain of pure menace, and Crow looks up again, this time in fear, as a blue-colored version of itself stands several blocks away. A gleaming sword of red energy in hand, and empty black sockets and equally empty grin alike in the face of Midnight Blue.

    Crow stands slowly, and raises both hands above its head. Veins of gold appear all across its body, glowing from within and causing shining armor to become visible through the darkness. And a mask. Just like the one that Coeus' wore, like the ones that appeared in the walls.

    Crow's hands become taloned gauntlets and begin rapid-firing beams of moonlight towards Midnight Blue, as the nightmare creature flickers in and out of reality, dodging fast enough that the ground and buildings warp behind it in a tunnel vision effect, before leaping into the air, blade swinging down...!

Leyanne Mace has posed:
Leyanne Mace tenses on her gun. "My name is Leyanne." She growls. "Paird... is someone else, someone who deserved more than to be a lie made up to keep us in a fucking prison." She looks around sharply, angrily. Looking for threats, in case this is all one big distraction. "My grievances? Well, the main one is that I was never dead, I never belonged here. I have a home outside, a life. I came to help this world, to stop the... the... the doom I saw in my dreams. And in return I got locked up, what the fuck man? You claim to love this place and all I wanted to do was help."
She sighs a little as Paird's memory surfaces. She deflates a little, some of the anger seeming to leave her. "Look, man, if you're doing this to try and save this place from that same apocalypse I saw in my dream... then I want to help. But when all this is over I'm still going to be angry at you. I'm gonna want... some kind of justice for Paird. She shouldn't have had to end so that... I didn't."

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Wandering Dog==

    Alloy is her name. Like everyone else in Emblem City, she bears a name that seems completely normal to them, but strange now in hindsight as an outsider. But it fits her. He brought her balance. And she mae him stronger. She is waiting when the door opens, looking pensive, but resigned. The man that appears before her doesn't look like her husband. But it only takes a few moments for her to smile. "Welcome home."

    Then she lets out a shuddering breath as she looks down again, pressing her lips into her tightly-balled-together hands. "When I heard they'd taken you..." She shakes her head. "I knew you had to come back at some point. But I didn't know if it would still be... You."

    She raises her head and one of her hands, to look at the wedding ring on her finger. Picture albums are scattered all around on the table. Old-fashioned ones, instead of the digital media and the magical memory crystals. She'd always preferred simple, easy-to-touch, 'real' things over the newest invention to come out of the Workshop.

    "I sent the children to stay at the shelter." she answers an unasked question. She looks down at the photos. "So what happens now?"

Empty Tidings has posed:
Phoebe appears, and her glory is rendered in the purity of the blast shadow.

The searing light casts away all shadow. The brilliant illumination of the Goddess descending from on high forces believers to their knees in supplication and demands even the righteous lower their head in deference. The unfaithful are driven back by her presence. The unbelievers are struck down where they stand.

Empty Tidings suffers none of these things.

She is no wide-eyed peasant, praying for salvation. She is no holy warrior, whispering psalms alongside the rasp of steel. She is no bitter chemist, muttering formulae in ignorance of the heavens. She is no screaming heretic, demanding the faithful be undone.

She is something entirely worse.

The Goddess flashes forward, and the sword of sunlight sweeps towards the challenger upon the church's doorstep. There's a blinding flare of two-tone luminescence, the golden sun challenged by its green Hellish cousin as the blade intersects the flaming glyphs alongside her stone hand. The crash is titanic; the sound is deafening.

The Infernal is still standing.

Her strength is unholy. The power of this place allows her to keep her feet; the power of her own godlike patrons allows her to fight against it. She laughs in the face of the divine, a sound of mad joy ringing out in the sunlit courtyard. Her laugh is carried alongside her, flung away from the Goddess Phoebe by the strength of the blow, spun through the open air. She twists and falls, dropping back to the edge of their chosen battlefield.

"You should have chosen your victims more carefully," the Infernal retorts. Her sleeve is burned away to nearly the elbow, incinerated by solar fire. "Have you the slightest idea of whom you face?"

She springs forward. A tiny hop, then a headlong rush low along the ground. She darts left, then right, planting her foot and swinging in with a one-handed hammerblow. Her shadow splashes backwards behind her, a huge spectral silhouette cast in the shade that the sunlight does not touch -- and then reaches forward underneath the two of them, injecting a terrible curse into the Goddess' domain with her Primordial power:

The doubt and uncertainty of facing a being who Fate itself cannot constrain.

Tomoe has posed:
"You tried to strip away my life from me. You tried to make me stop being me. How is Sheena Armstrong the crouption anymore than Jeci was not a person herself?!" She listnes though it may very well be a trap but she's going to listen right? There's anger here but also a chance to find out what's going on here. She does want to try to learn jut what happened.

"Why did you take us? Why did you change us? Why do you consider this keeping us safe?"

She pauses at Leyanne's comment.

"I am not dead either, I'm very much still alive here, I have to also ask before I arrived here did Jeci actually exist?"

With how the multiverse works could Jeci be an alternate version of Tomoe native to this world? There's anger in her voice but she's trying to control it trying to understand /why/.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Asterios and Tanya==

    The mechano-corpse jerks under the shots a bit, and the head barely connected by wires and tubes falls off to the floor with a clatter-sploosh in the blood puddle. As the two of them begin heading down the unexplored passage, the unsettling noise becomes fainter as they go along. The passage seems to go on forever from the flickering lights in the ceiling, spaced evenly, one after another after another. But soon enough they come to a mirror. A mirror that doesn't reflect them. And what it does reflect is not a perfect recreation of the hallway behind them. Instead it reveals... A door in the wall. Back the way they came, about as far as Asterios is tall.

    If it doesn't reflect them... But it DOES reflect a door...

    Another shudder wracks the structure they are in as Coeus speaks more faintly, less audibly once more. It seems he's talking to someone other than them. Maybe they're keeping him distracted.

Count Kord has posed:
    Kord is startled out of his incoming shout at Crow by Carna's words. The being's status as one of the things that kept them trapped into this place, the revelation that it isn't the shadow he's come to understand as an ally, makes the Count lift his head back. But he briefly wonders if that's even true, and his face shows an emotional maelstrom... then he's knocked out of even that when that damned thing that attacked him before reappears. His head turns and his pupil shrinks, but--

    'Crow' attacks, revealing his similar nature to the city god that had tried to imprison them. His head jerks to look at that mask, then back toward Midnight Blue. His eyes quickly follow the being as it advances, and the great wyvern surges forward...

    The force of the impact between claws and red energy is immense, blowing out nearby windows and cracking the stone beneath him, blood dribbling from his claw-tipped wing. He moves with incredible speed, his body warping in ways that shouldn't be physically possible, an almost cartoonish bend of his body to try to knock the weapon away from both him... and the 'fake' Crow. An explosion of red and black energy would surge outward as the young Yveltal would promptly follow Midnight Blue and try to slam the other set of wing claws into his middle and drive both of them back in a launching attack into the rest of the city, moving like some kind of stylized watercolor painting. It's clear his 'ascension' has had some interesting effects on his mass, making his movements flow as if guided by gusts of wind.

Asterios (1137) has posed:
Tanya might protest being manhandled, but Asterios has been away from her for SO LONG. When he returned, it was everything he could do to keep himself from immediately snatching her up in a great big hug and remaining that way for a good hour or so. Fortunately, Asterios remembers that Tanya does not particularly enjoy physical contact of that specific variety-- and so Serebryov had to suffer the dread embrace of the minotaur in her stead.

But this-- this is a way to make up for that distinct lack.

Asterios cants his head carefully toward the corridor walls as they proceed deeper and deeper into this... Can it even be called a workshop? It's a charnel house. That's all it can really be described as. Those strange noises grow fainter, and soon they find themselves somewhere... deeper. More secret. A strange, dark mirror which reflects that which is not truly there. Or perhaps, a mirror which reflects the truth? "Mmn," Asterios murmurs, his eyes keenly judging the door in the mirror-- as the structure shudders and speaks. What is this? What's going on? Wait.

Asterios frowns-- if the Coeus could walk through the walls of the city, then the city is itself part of him and... Does that mean they approach his... heart?

"Master," he says, moving to the approximate location of that mirrored door. "I'll try to open it."

How does one open an image of a door, though?

Well. Asterios is going to try a... trick. A pulse of his own world-shaping power, doubled by whatever force is empowering them in this space. He focuses his will on that empty space and reaches for the door he knows must be there. Maybe.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Empty Tidings==

    Phoebe pursues Empty Tidings as she laughs, is there when she lands. She is right behind Empty Tidings as she darts left, then right. Is right there to receive the retaliatory strike as the Infernal turns with her fist in the air and brings it down. The sword of the sun flickers, not like a mere guttering torch, but like a star going through its death throes. The shadow cast behind cuts off any hope of running to the edge and leaping back up to Emblem as the massive cathedrals falls. But Phoebe seems to have no intention of running.

    She plants her own feet, burning holes through the marble by turning stone to vapor explosively, and then responds to Empty Tidings. I know you to be one who will lose everything again, and ruin everything you touch on your path back down to HELL. The last word is emphasized with an upswing of the dying blade, as the shadow sweeps underneath Phoebe's feet, poisoning them and sending veins of green to mix with the brilliant red and yellow and white of the Sun. And her body starts its dying star process as surely as her sword, before unleashing a pair of scorching beams from her eyes directly at her opponents. To burn the sight out of her as surely as this cursed shadow is eating away at the courage that is the core of Phoebe's being.

Wandering Dog has posed:
Wandering Dog thought as he looked at her. He remembered every important encounter, the good times, bad times, hardships. All of it. If she was at all a prisoner, he knew her well enough that he wanted her to be free. "I don't look that different now, do I?" A short chuckle, if a bit cold - it's a deflection, trying to escape the emotions. He moves over to the table, slowly, and reaches for her hand. It's an action that seems soft, friendly, but he's willing to use his considerable superhuman ability to make sure he grabs her hand if he needs to. Focusing on the energy inside him, Wandering Dog simply needs to know that if the abilities he uses against the undead and spirits would work against her. It's not foolproof, but it'd answer the question enough for him. It'd be enough for him personally to know whether or not she's a ghost or someone who doesn't belong here.

"Good. They deserve better than all of this chaos. You do too. You should have gone somewhere safe." There's a sigh, as he glances at the pictures. He remembers when one of them was taken, at a birthday party. It was a good day, with cake and laughter. A type of day he'll never have again, not the same way. "I'm leaving again. Back to the world of living, after the others tear this through. You need to know, deserve to know. This isn't an afterlife, it's a prison. Most of us never died. I'm flesh-and-blood, and I know that for a fact." It's blunt and simple, but he needs to be blunt and simple right now. "I am Wandering Dog, not Balences. I remember the life of the living, even if our memories are mixed in it. And if they're keeping you prisoner here, too, I'm taking you with me."

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Leyanne and Tomoe==

    Another surge of power flows through LUM-01 as Coeus hears the rejection the two of them offer. So it is as Prometheus said. You were never... Who I thought you were. I trapped innocent people here. That was never my intention. How could I have made such a mistake...? There is a pause as the city shudders. My sister is dying. And so am I. There is not enough time to make things right. Not for you two, and now for all the others. I suppose all that is left is to-- The City God trails off as a trio of the fake Crows appear. One red, one green, one white. Didn't they get killed before!? Leyanne killed the white one herself! The other two attacked at the bridge but the others dealt with them!

    This time, however, black smoke trails from their eye sockets, and runs from their mouths liquidly as they come running down the side of LUM-01, blades at the ready. Is this an ambush after all!?

    No! Leave them be! They are no traitors! Stop! It seems these 'Crows' are not listening to their maker. More cracks visibly form all around, in various buildings, in the streets, as they draw power from Coeus to attack those he wishes to protect. Accelerating the death of a god who was as fooled and betrayed as the ones he imprisoned, while thinking himself their guardian.

Staren has posed:
    ==Rebecca and Staren==

    "Do you mean to say that Emblem is a previous iteration of what we know as Lumiere, somehow brought back in this... area?" Staren asks. He looks down at the cloud layer, then back at Prometheus. "If this is a trick... you've seen what we can do. Already, two of our number have sworn revenge. Then again, I suppose such a threat seems either superfluous or empty -- you wouldn't mess with us unless you thought you could get away with it." Staren doesn't refuse, though. Perhaps the chance that some morality might rub off on this being is just too tempting to resist.

    Maybe Prometheus knows that, and is wasting his time.

    He clasps his hands together, then stretches his arms over his head before returning to a neutral stance. "You really want to know? ...I suppose I should start with my father."

    "He was from a world that didn't have magic or anything. Something is wrong with our ability to read what others are feeling. Perhaps because of this disability, we both have always had sympathy for others who are disadvantaged and desire fairness... Or perhaps our logical minds just see a fair world as a more ordered one." He shrugs. "In absense of positive social contact, we took in stories to try and understand people. And, you know, people love making stories about heroes and villains. That probably affected us deeply. But to guide our interactions with other people..."

    Staren begins to pace. "Everything else in the world follows fundamental rules, or at least, it used to seem that way. Atoms follow physical laws which can be observed, then predicted. The stories said right and wrong was important. Surely something so important must have fundamental rules too? My father searched for an answer, but it all seemed to come down to the golden rule, or something close to it. 'Treat others how you'd expect to be treated.' 'Treat others how you'd hope to be treated, in the same situation.' And for all the situations he encountered, it seemed to serve well. And that's what he taught me. Mom wasn't of such a philosophical bent, but agreed that it rung true with her intuition as well."

    Staren stops and turns to the stone. "I wasn't perfect, of course. People are naturally greedy and self-serving, and my reduced ability to tell when I was hurting others exacerbated these tendencies. But if ideals only meant something if you did them all the time, rather than something you aspired to live up to, no people would be idealists."

Staren has posed:
    "Perhaps going out into the Multiverse just exposed me to more things than Dad encountered, both in Neotokyo and adventuring around Earth. He was a preparedness freak -- so was /his/ father, really -- but me, it seemed I had to prepare for so much more. I saw heroes lose, I saw good people disappear. I had to understand more, I had to prepare. And really, how can the golden rule be applicable to all situations? What if the being you're interacting with doesn't have desires or values or even emotions or psychology remotely close to a person's? What if you're trying to teach morality to an AI that doesn't have any of that, because you have to program it first?"

    Staren resumes pacing. "The golden rule was false. Or rather, an incomplete model. I served with the Union. Time and time again, these 'heroes' showed up on a world and enforced their will, backed up only by their own strength. It came down to violence again and again. They talked and begged and pleaded with 'villains' to change their mind -- because that was their will, too -- but it never made any difference. What did was force."

    He stops and turns to face the boulder again. "We value what we value. What is right and good is programmed into us, written upon neurons and souls just as a lower animal's need to eat and survive and mate, or a math program's need to solve for x. Fortunately, people share a lot of common programming -- and even across the Multiverse, such programming is incredibly common. There's no higher morality written into physics, although woulds where reality is shaped by concepts reflect it."

    Staren shakes his head. "I don't understand all the details well enough to build a mind that knows right and wrong. Few do. But, that's not the point. The point of all this is that my guiding principle is me." He jabs his thumb at his chestplate.

Staren has posed:
    "While people have a lot in common, our experiences are different. Who taught me to be who I am? To some degree, everyone I've met and everything that's happened to me. I've spent enough time on the philosophy lecture -- I can't tell you every incident that shaped me. My parents love me and endorse the adventuring life. I had the fortune to grow up in a city where noone looks down on someone else because of their species or physical appearance. All who are willing to live together, to tolerate, are tolerated and welcomed. In a world that was like the Multiverse in miniature. Perhaps in other circumstances, I'd be less idealistic and not think we can build a perfect world. I almost did turn my back on the Multiverse, multiple times. But allies taught me not to distrust them, and Morg and Twilight taught me what it was like to have someone I could trust completely. I'm lucky, but one day I'm going to figure out how to bring a better life to everyone. Better according to the values we share -- although the implementation may look strange to those used to thinking of death as unstoppable and inevitable -- but people don't really value death. They're just afraid to face that people die for nothing."

    Staren takes a deep breath. "How could this have been done differently?" He paces again. "That depends on your goal. What did you hope to achieve? You still didn't answer my question as to how or why you had our friends. Did you want to give them paradise? You could have asked if they really wanted it, at the cost of leaving others behind. You could have helped them achieve dreams including others, instead of without them. If you're asking for advice on how to tear us apart form eachother and weaken us... ha! I'm not going to help you do that."

    Staren turns and leans over towards the rock, peering at it. "What about YOU? What kind of being are YOU? What is your programming? Do we even have compatible values?"

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    Tanya reflects inwardly as she and Asterios venture deeper into the complex. Letting her rifle hang by its strap, she cradles her chin with one hand, supported at the elbow by the other. While she seems to deeply consider the bloody floor and endless stretch of walls. When the mirror comes up, the lack of a reflection of herself and Asterios initially has her think it's just an extension of the endless hallway, until the lights hit it just right for her to catch the shine. Her eyes narrow, and she examines the image and its inaccuracies.

    The structure shudders. Out of habit, Tanya looks up. With a thoughtful noise, she notes. Distant. No danger. Like artillery in the distance, targeting something else. Her attention returns to the mirror, studying it with a little frown. Turning her head, she inspects the depicted wall directly.

    When Asterios goes for where the door 'should' be, Tanya's eyes glow again and she floats off his shoulder. If he finds something-- great! But she wants a closer look at the mirror itself. Just in case there's more to this than meets the eye-- This kind of symbolic stuff is sinking in to the Major as a real theme of this place, rather than what she'd consider 'logical'. Which is kind of infuriating, in a way. As part of her inspection, she produces her knife, using the pommel to tap on the mirror here or there. Because if this winds up being a trap than using her hands to investigate would be a dumb thing to do.

Kushiko has posed:
The mingled looks of horror, shock, maybe even fear are not... necessarily things she wants to deal with in terms of what they were here for, to say nothing of the sensations it provokes. Because there's an analogue, that she half-imagines, remembering her 'real' self, yet comparing that to her past life--a life full of holes that the life as Soupi made more than a few favorable comparisons to.

It's the happiness she sees among them that makes it nearly bittersweet.

Getting hugged was very nearly too much--the tension of electromagnetism abates, if just a little bit as the slightly taller figure drops an arm around the blonde Kartha for a few moments, before quietly sighing.

<"It's kind of like Titania, except I'm in her."> Her being Mag, or comparing it to Titania as she gestures with a hand--projecting the image through the emitters of the girl that they would recognize--if only just. She--Kushiko--did not have much change compared to Kushiko, excepting that her face now bore that blackened ring of scar tissue 'round her right eye. The same tussled hair, and now more glowy eyes, pulses that seemed to be out of sync with one another, more akin to a heartbeat through the image. Granted, it was a projected image of her from about the shoulder up.

<"It's what I always was, always should have been... I don't honestly remember."> Maybe something in whatever they did to her subconsciously drove it; maybe it was that Void within her. It was hard to say, to think about even now. It was an honest answer to the question of 'what did they do to you?'--because she wasn't thinking about what they saw as Soupi--she thought about herself. Memories dredged from beyond. The experiments. The pain. The lashing out.

It was reflected in a pensive expression the projected image of Kushiko. But now, was the time to answer more questions of the Orphans. More to the point--she remembered the name--Lasyra. Gargoyle... was it their past, or their future? The Stone Devils, the Gargoyle Knights... and her with her damnable memory regarding it all!

Yet the names niggle at her very, /very/ slightly. Especially Lasyra, and maybe... the others. More than she realizes, before her faceless aspect looks at each of them in turn--mirroring the face she's able to present in perfect sync. <"I don't know where either of them are..."> Wasn't her name also Lacey? She searched her--her Soupi's--memories carefully; Maej was probably someone /else/ taken, but she couldn't quite recall explicitly whom. So it was an honest answer as could be.

<"You've all taken up aliases, haven't you, for being the Knights now?"> she wonders aloud, her own memories drawn to 'current' Lumiere and past experiences there. Lasyra...

Tomoe has posed:
Tomoe gets what amount to an actual apology and she seems to thuiunk it was honestly intended to be what it was.

"I never expected an apologsy I never got one form the man who trapped mein the death game."

Death game? Then comes the crows afdter them.

"For what it's worth ... I will accept what you ahve said, I think it would piss off Jeci to ignore something so sincear."

She turns to the Crows as they are coming in.

"Leyann light the attackers up."

She starts to chant a spell causing her blade to flare up with blazing white fire. She seems ready to attack. She will do what she can to try and guard the very one who captured her.

"Let him meet his end in some measure of peace..."

Leyanne Mace has posed:
Leyanne Mace listens to Coeus. She nods, slowly. An apology? It's... a start. And if he really is dying, it'll have to do. "If we can help, we wi-" She's cut off by the approach of the three false Crows, narrowing her eyes and swinging the big Bushmaster gun around to cover them. She looks at the white one, pointing at him with a cybernetic finger and an angry glare. "Oi, fucknugget... didn't I kill you already?" she growls.

And then... Coeus tells them can't control his creations. It's not a setup. At least, not from him. "We'll talk more in a moment, if you can. Save your strength.. If we put these things down fast, you don't... get drained as fast, right?"

Whether the answer is positive or negative, Crocodile, her Bushmaster cannon, wakes up. Normally, Leyanne's got to ease off every five rounds or so to adjust her footing... but right now? She feels like she could empty the entire hopper at these pseudoCrows without needing to take a few steps.

"Lighting them up! WHitey's mine though!"

She keeps both triggers depressed, sweeping the cannon across the three Crows, aiming for centre-mass. Well, as much as you can aim a cannon like that, anyway. The noise can probably be heard all the way over at the other battle currently ongoing. The white one, of course, gets a slightly higher weight of fire aimed in his direction.

Empty Tidings has posed:

Phoebe is fast. Faster than she is. Wherever Tidings goes, she's there, ready to attack, laying into her with her sword of dying sunlight. The Infernal's body cuts and burns, but she doesn't register the blows. She strikes back instead, resonating strikes of bare-fisted fury against a sword that carries with it the hopes of the heroic dead. It is, on its surface, the purest sort of battle there can be: good versus evil, fought to claim dominion over the souls of the many.

Empty Tidings pivots, facing Phoebe again. She widens her stance, hands up, wisps of smoke trailing from her burned kimono. She's smiling, meeting her gaze with glints of green behind her eyes. Her mirth seems to be wiped from her face when she hears that utterance. Something strikes an unfortunate chord.

The sword rises. Empty Tidings blocks it with her right palm, parrying the ascending stroke with a flash of sparks of sun against stone. Her arm is forced wide. She sneers, opens her mouth --

Light strikes her, eye to eye.

The beams do their work. Her eyes are burned from their sockets, instantly scorched away. She's too stunned to make a sound at first, the sudden heat boring into her head making her flinch and throw herself to the side. She brings her shaking hands up to her face... and then lets out a howl like a wounded animal. She shakes her head, side to side, body swaying with a sort of frantic panic.

"No... no, no, no no no no no!" She moans in pain and agony. She drops to her knees, clawing at smoking sockets. "Not this! Not the dark! Not the dark!" She reaches out blindly, begging in a babbling, quavering voice, "Don't leave me in the dark! Mercy! Have mercy!" She shuffles forward on her knees, black tears rolling down her face as she sobs brokenly, the ink-like liquid dripping to the marble ground and sizzling away in wisps of smoke.

She's left in darkness, a prisoner cast there by the judgment of the light.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Wandering Dog==

    Alloy takes the man's hand when he reaches for her. Feeling the roughness of it. She squeezes it softly in her own. When he uses his powers to try to determine if she is undead, she flinches a bit, like it startled her, even if she shouldn't be able to feel it. She is... Something. Both more and less than simply dead. Yes, his abilities will work upon her. But she is less real than even a ghost. She's... A memory. A reanimated memory, who has gained stability and strength, a firmly established identity, a soul, by building new memories with Wandering Dog and their family. She is a reanimated memory of someone who once existed in Lumiere, but doesn't anymore, given a second chance. She is much a part of this place at the photo album in front of her.

    If she understands what was done to her, she doesn't show it. She just smiles at him. "There are others who can look after them. Someone had to be here for you. I couldn't be certain you'd return in time to make the evacuation. If I'm going to spend my last moments again... I want them to be with you."

    She tries to listen to Wandering Dog as he explains, her eyes showing intense focus, even though there's the feeling that... Her hand is gripping tight because she already knows he's not staying even before he says it. And she doesn't want to let him go again. "'Wandering Dog'," she tries out lightly. "Not the 'Masked Dragon'." She closes her eyes. "I wish I could go with you, and bring our children too. I know you said you aren't him. But I will never be able to see you as anyone else."

    She opens her eyes again as she relaxes her grip and lets her hand slip away to go underneath her other. "And you're sure you're doing the right thing? That nobody is tricking you? I know how trusting you are, how you see the good in everyone. You aren't letting some villain use you?"

Empty Tidings has posed:
And then, the moment Phoebe so much as moves a muscle, she's there.

Empty Tidings lunges without so much as a hint of uncertainty, a trace of pain. She moves like there wasn't a thing holding her back. She attacks with a kind of speed and fury that speaks of a cessation of restraint, a joyous sort of fury that comes from letting go of all there is to hold onto.

Everything but fury.

Survival is fury.

The Green Sun Princess explodes into a corona of color. Vidirian light streams from her body, colored by wisps of bruising violet and flecks of pitch blackness. A disk of utter dark burns itself onto her brow, so black it hurts to look upon, so absolute it swallows up the light that dares approach. The ground shudders and cracks as she ascends, propelled at the Goddess, matching her step for blinding step. The world seems to come apart as she trods upon it.

Her hand is enough to sunder a city's gates. Her strength is enough to shatter mountains. Her grip is enough to break a world. She stops playing with the sword, stops meeting her blow for blow, and attacks her like the monster her presence screams about. She endures the light of a dying star, surrounded by the corona of a Green Sun, the light that illuminates all of Malfeas, the poisonous illumination that gives daylight to the Demon City.

She endures it. She takes hold of it.

She grabs, and twists, and tears like she was plucking the wings off a fly.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Rebecca and Staren==

    Prometheus listens silently. Or it can be presumed that he is listening. Hard to say with no physical form to go off of. I see. So you began training young. Your talent was encouraged, so that you would be ready to face conflicts. And when corruption came to your home, you fought against it with all you could... But ultimately, it was your enemies that made you what you are. You could have been something else, someone else, if not for them. Your story is similar to mine. I will take it under advisement.

    Staren's story is longer than Rebecca's, but it is not the length that matters, but what is beign said. The importance of the intent behind them. Words are clumsy things, like symbols. Unfit for describing the core principles and concepts underlying existence, let alone the variables called people that dwell within it. And Prometheus takes Staren's story just as gravely and significantly as Rebecca's. Stories of heroes and villains, even if not the whole truth, are important. Having an ideal, a principle, even if it is ravaged over and over again, is important. But what is more important of all, is to believe in yourself. To decide who you are and follow through, no matter what happens. Even if you must adapt and adjust, even if there is no cosmic principle of truth and justice, you must decide for yourself what is worth protecting. Even if all hope is a lie, you can not give up. Because hope can give you strength to prove it is not a lie after all.

    Prometheus is silent again for a time.

    I did not bring them here. I think we were being used. Convenient former guardians, if what you say is correct, forced to revisit our roles, but as jailors instead. Whomever is responsible for this... If it is within your goals... I hope you two will put a stop to it. The opening in the cloud layer grows larger. A flickering of gray light appears on the boulder in the shape of a person. The chains that lie idly are recreated in phantom smoke, binding the figure, as he tries to raise himself up. Prometheus snaps one chain, then the other, and then the ones on his feet as he stands on the earth again.

    I will remember you both, for as long as I exist. Even if that is not much longer. I do not know if they will reach the outside, but if I am able, I will write down your stories of heroes and villains, and they will hopefully inspire more like you two, and all of those who have come with you, to not allow such travesties to repeat. Prometheus reaches out lightning fast, clapping a hand on Rebecca's shoulder, and then Staren's, smoothly and gently. And then they are energy again. And they are appearing down in Emblem City, closer to those they seek.

Wandering Dog has posed:
Well, then. So she's not a prisoner. But she's something special. Wandering Dog knows she's not the person most dear to him. No one will ever be again. But she's the person most dear to Balences, without a doubt. At the same time, her words do cause the briefest of doubt...is he being tricked? Memories conflict, as he sighs. "But you can't. I spoke too soon. I'm sorry." Wandering Dog moves over to the pictures, picking one up briefly before setting it back down. "I took this name a long time ago. It's not the name I was born with, and neither is Balences, but the names still have power. Doesn't matter if it's real or fake, the face you present is what people know you as." There's a laugh, as he shakes his head.

"No, I'm not being manipulated. I know exactly who I am, and who I was. I know why I took this name, something I could never forget. The time I could have had this." He waves his hands, to the pictures, to the house, towards the children's bedrooms. "And I left it to wander. Like a stray dog who takes what he's given and then runs off to the next person who'll give it to them. Who could have had the best life and went and when he considered changing his mind, it was too late." But, there's a grin. He was always a person with a wide smile as Balences, and Wandering Dog still was. "But then I was a hero. Protected people. If anyone's a villain, it's the ones who kept me here. And I'm going to correct that. I need to go." He turns, moving towards the doorway, but then stops, not proceeding. He talks to her without turning away. "Ask of me one thing, and I'll almost certainly do it. I won't stay here, but I'll whatever you seek. It's the least I can do to remember you."

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Asterios and Tanya==

    The mirror cracks under Tanya's tapping. It's far more fragile than actual glass. LAlso, it starts bleeding, and the pungent smell of rot emanates from it. Cloyingly thick. As 'glass' shards fall away, rotting meat is revealed inside the walls. Well, if this is part of Coeus... That implies his health is already on the decline, doesn't it?

    Asterios succeeds in opening the invisible door in the wall, reshaping the world so that it exists instead of being a mere reflection. On the other side is... An enormous heart, made of a mix of machinery and flesh. Three columns surround it, computer towers of some kind, sleek and reaching from ceiling to... Down below somewhere unclear in the darkness. However, there is something else too.

    The screaming voices of countless Unlit swarming below. Many of them have climbed up the huge heart and eaten away the majority of it. The heart pumps weakly, tubes carrying away some black ooze, as dials bounce their needle more and more weakly from one end of the scale to the other.

    Unlit shouldn't be here. Shouldn't exist here, if this is 'the past' or something. But they're here. They've been eating Coeus all this time, and as a result, Emblem City is dying.

    At the core of each of the computer towers is a drop of liquid energy or something. One looks like the Sun, one like the Earth, and another like the Moon. Red, Gray, and Yellow.

    The deafening screeching of trillions of dead things is beyond painful. But with their enhancements, the powey they possess here, they can endure it. They can fight. They can decide... What to do here.

    They found the heart of the 'enemy'. And it's already under attack by another enemy. What now?

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Count Kord==

    The shockwave unleashed by the clash between Kord's wing and Midnight Blue's blade sends ripples up and down the street. The movement of the wing hurls Carna and Crow away as well. The blade, with its owner still holding it, are hurled backwards, like when Kord hit him befor, on the bridge. This time, however, Kord follows. The godlike-being hits Midnight Blue into a building, tearing across its surface, only for the fake to come surging out of the building even faster, disappearing and then reappearing as it jumps from surface to surface.

    It's like the stronger and faster Kord gets, the stronger and faster this thing gets too. And again, that sense of familiarity. Kord KNOWS this thing. From outside of Emblem City. Is this another trick of Luc's?

    Then Midnight Blue vanishes. Is gone... Up above! It hurls its sword like a bolt of crimson lightning, directly at Kord's heart.

    The impact is incredible. Strong enough to jerk the city up to meet Kord instead of trying to hurl him down to it. Possibly the only way to overcome the insane, godly speed he possesses... To change the world around them. But the sword didn't cause the impact.

    There's a much smaller figure lying on top of Kord, the blade of Midnight Blue in its back. The death blow meant for Kord, taken by Crow instead.

    "Hey... Don't... Die on me... A aecond time... Okay?" Crow asks. Then it collapses, dissolving into bits of light and shadow before even hitting Kord's body.

    Midnight Blue stands on a roof top and smiles widely, as the night sky goes red as blood.

Asterios (1137) has posed:
The scent of rotting flesh is infinitely worse for someone with the senses of a true Predator King. Asterios doesn't recoil at the smell; he know it far too well. Rotting, fetid meat. This place-- this structure is decomposing. The flesh of the god Coeus is falling apart, dissolving at the foul touch of some unfathomable malice. What sickness could afflict a god?

The door opens. Beyond, a... Computer- something which Asterios does not recognize. He doesn't need to. The throbbing, half-decomposed organ throbbing weakly in the center of the room is enough for him to know. The minotaur makes a sound of disgust at the sight of... That. The vortex of malice underneath the weakening pulse, clawing at the flesh, devouring it, feeding corruption into the veins. The minotaur feels... Not just hatred. Fury. Anger. Rage. His hand trembles, raising an axe into the air. He can end this now. Take his vengeance. Put an end to this corpse of a god. But... Then.

Then what?

A voice at the very back of his mind cries out to stop. To think. To recognize this for what it is. What purpose could be served by bringing Asterios and Tanya here, to the very heart of a god?

They, who have the most reason and inclination to kill him?

Asterios is silent for a moment, and then he turns to his master.

Words are exchanged. A decision is made.

Asterios swings his axe--

Into the swarm of shadows flooding the heart. Smashing at the unlit. His power, magnified, is turned against the darkness. The beast roars, unleashing a bellowing sound that even these undead monstrosities must recognize-- if they possess even a fragment of that intelligence that all living things hold.

Somewhere, deep down, a small part of the minotaur remembers building this city.

And so, a small mercy. He will kill the darkness first.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Leyanne and Tomoe==

    omoe's white fire engulfs the red and green ones, the latter losing its legs to Leyanne's cannon fire, making them screech as corruption pours from their faces. The fake 'Crows' were silent before. Something has clearly changed in them. The green one falters in its descent, and when it hits the ground it splatters grossly. The red one still draws a pair of black energy blades either way, and leaps at Tomoe to engage her in battle with furiou swipes, as its exterior burns away, revealing more Corruption sludge bleeding out of it. Like everything inside of it was just replaced wholsesale with that stuff.

    Leyanne's attack tears into the LUM-01 building that the Crows run upon, causing explosions of masonry and discharges of power, and the dying voice of Coeus in their minds. The white Crow falls heavily, injured by the cannon fire, and tries to stagger towards Leyanne with a whip of darkness in its fingerless 'hand', but it should only take another salvo to its face to tear through it. Whatever the Corruption did to get them up and running again, it left them fragile and weakened.

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    Even light taps shatters the glass. Tanya reels back in surprise, her free hand going for her Thompson and bringing the weapon up. However, no foe surges forth. Instead, a more fearsome enemy assaults the young Major. Making a disgusted face, she brings her right hand up, covering her mouth and nose in the sleeve of her battle suit's elbow. Her eyebrows twitch, scowling at the wall of rotten meat oozing and putrid before her.

    Floating back, she quickly resumes her position near Asterios as he reveals the hidden door by opening it. And the second foul sensation assaults her senses: The wailing of undead. As soon as the door opens and she hears it, the girl flinches. An eyebrow lifts as she casts her gaze through the opening, into the chamber beyond. The servers. The heart. And the zombie horde covering it all like feathers on a waterfowl. Her eyes narrow, and an unspoken exchange is shared with her Servant, unhindered by the shrieking din.

    A decision is made.

    Tanya lifts her Thompson, thumbing off the safety as she begins to speak, not shouting and yet audible over the chaos of the Unlit, "As I enter the shadow of the valley of Death, I shall fear no evil, for the Lord has granted me the power of His salvation." Amplified by the strange effects of Emblem, and further amplified by the Type 95, the Computation Jewel worn under her outfit glows so brightly that a golden glow shines through the heavy material of her coverall battle suit. A holographic targeting grid materializes, glimmering green in front of her as she settles the sub-machinegun against her shoulder, "Hear His word and be at peace. See His light and know that you are forgiven." Small x-shapes, flashing red, wink into existence across Tanya's entire field of view.


    When Tanya squeezes the trigger, she keeps it depressed, emptying the thirty-round magazine of her weapon. And each round, fused with magic, splits and multiplies as it travels, scattering into the massive undead swarm that her own Servant just hurled himself into.

Count Kord has posed:
    Kord moves with instinctual wrath, his body moving in rememberance of battle he hasn't ever had in this form before. He swings and bolts from place to place to clash with Midnight Blue's blade, surges of red energy bursting here and there throughout the city as he attacks and defends in a surging flow of violence between two supernatural beings. But he gets blindsided by the teleportation-like abilities of the creature that continues to attack him, and slammed so hard into the street that it craters, chips of stone and pavement flying, a car overturned by the impact, and he has a follow-up attack coming at him before he can blink...!

    That gets interrupted by the 'Crow' he was told isn't the real one, which still protects him regardless.

    Kord doesn't react well to this. Years of hardship well up in his head, countless failures, his pride once more bruised by the loss of something he considered 'his,' in perhaps a more positive way than that implies. There's a surge of form and light, and what stands there a moment later is not a monster made of smoke and blood, but a man in red and black clothing with a pair of black horns in his long red hair. His claw-like hands seal around a weapon familiar to him, formed of surging shadows from Crow's destroyed body. A simple, solid black scythe. The wind tugs on a collar of white fuzz on his regal attire, his pale face drawn into a vicious frown, a pair of fangs jutting over his bottom lip like those of a vampire. His tail is still present, curling and whipping from side to side. He's somehow gotten edgier.

    He leaps off the ground and clears the distance between himself and Midnight Blue in the blink of an eye. He attacks with the force of an angry god, appropriately enough, a surge of black energy blowing outward with atomizing force that blows apart whole buildings in its path and creates a tidal wave of debris. It isn't just an explosion, it's a blast of pure destructive energy that spares nothing in its path, not even the dust it kicks up or even the very air itself. It is so loud that it rattles the entire city and shakes the ground. Any sparse clouds that sit above part from the wind kicked up from the vacuum force of this attack.

Leyanne Mace has posed:
Leyanne Mace is a little more selective with her second salvo. Hopefully she hasn'd done /too/ much damage to Coeus. She looks around for further targets warily, looking around. She moves to try and get a shot on the other Pseudocrow, although she finds herself unable without hitting her ally. She holds her fire, raising the gun up and out of the way..

"Tomoe!" she calls. How you doing with Red there? Need a hand -" The distant echoes of Kord's attack ripple through the streets. "Phobos! You hear that? Something's pissed!"

Carna (974) has posed:

    The kids look confused. This is totally over their heads. The image of the not-Soupi seems to convince some of the undecided, while discomfitting others. "So... You're coming back to us, right?" one of the kids asks.

    But Resaran interrupts, "I'm asking the questions here." His tone is not like one that should belong to a child. It's like a grizzled military veteran who has seen far too much. "Yeah. The Gargoyle Knights all have our own names. Shouldn't you know that already if you're the real Soupi? Or Titania... Or whatever you call yourself?"

    He shakes his head. "If you're our friend, then you'll go get Lasyra and bring her back. If you're not... Then you should't come back."

    Not everyone looks like they agree with Resaran. But before them is a mechanical monster claiming to be someone they know, and next to them is someone with a face they know for sure.

    Resaran turns and walks away, heading to the stairs that lead underground. After a little while, the others start following. Kartha is still crying as she clings to Kushiko. "B-but this is Soupi, right? This is her! She's back! Right? I mean who else could it be. Y-you know where Lacey is, right?" She looks up at Kushiko, with wide, slightly unhinged eyes, clinging with her hands, and then heading over to the protection. "Hey, c'mon! C-can't you all see? This is Soupi, right? It's g-g-gotta' be... It's..." As people come forward and start pulling her away, she thrashes and struggles wildly, her crying sounding more and more hysterical, until it begins to sound like laughter.

    And eventually, Kushiko is left there, alone. None of them can trust something that looks like her. No matter what Soupi's memories say, that these were her friends. That they looked forward to her delicious meals she brought to them. That she helped them smile.

    All of them have rejected her, and chosen to follow Resaran back downstairs.

    The ground is trembling violently in the midst of all this, as red light shines through the stained-glass windows. There's no time to linger here. Something is going on.

Staren has posed:
    Could it be that the Lord of Fear used the caretakers of this place? But then why won't Prometheus tell him anything about them?

    He's teleported again. Aware enough to see what MIGHT be crow die. He has no idea how to save Crow... all he can be sure of is that SOMETHING is fighting Kord, and it needs to be destroyed.

    All of his abilities are amplified. With robotic speed, he runs towards the building Midnight Blue is perched on. His reactor is supercharged too. This means he has PLENTY of energy to draw off and store for an attack. There's no outward visible effect, no telegraphing, the usual glow covered by his armor as he starts to run up the side of the building...

    And then he's on a building chunk in midair, manifesting wings and frantically trying to dodge some of the collateral effects of Kord's attack! But if Midnight Blue survived that, he is SO ready to follow up!

Kushiko has posed:
<"Look, my memories are a little screwed up, okay?!"> is the first, defensive retort. There was more truth in that than she'd readily admit, incensed a bit. Frustration threatened to boil into her, but the Tenno within relented from letting that happen. She had to, as the memories--the good parts--were something she was finding herself /wanting/ to hold onto.

How could she not, with the inability to fully recall her own?

There was no way she could convince them right now, not as she was, nor perhaps should she. But there was a problem at least--Lacey, Lasyra--this much she remembered. The business with 'Luc'. She'd have to compare notes with Kord and Enark once they were concluded here, perhaps sooner. But if Lacey--Lasyra, was kidnapped, she was brought perhaps /out/ of...

<"... I promise to do everything I can,"> is as much as she's willing to offer, to make it more solemn and genuine. <"I know what I need to do,"> she calls out to Kartha, though her hands curl into fists. The laughter. The way Resaran talked, everything. It felt ... /odd/, to certain sensibilities. When she was alone, she murmured more to herself: <"We are the *Child of the Void*. I am Kushiko. We are Tenno."> She reaffirmed herself in this regard, quietly, then looking to her hand, ruthenium gilding wrapped around her fingertips. A nascent cloud of energy coalescing into her fingertips.

But that notion of contemplation, of furtive thought is not permitted to last. No, not with the tremors beneath her feet here in the Church. The final pieces were settling, and both girl and living weapon united as one. She'll come back to the church--but for now, with that red light out the windows, and /knowing/ what that represented...

It was time to move, and move she would, heading out and away from the redlight--at least to keep it from striking her, and to find it's source, the Warframe moving swiftly and using nearby buildings and even crumbled ruins to adroitly manage this task.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Empty Tidings==

    So much as moves a muscle? Phoebe moves while Empty Tidings is still pleading. Mercy is not one of her traits. However, that just means that Empty Tidings attacks that much sooner. Phoebe is dying and the Infernal is stronger than ever before. She is wounded, sun spots forming on her body as energy discharges in place of blood. As poison seeps through her, and makes her die that much faster. The demonic figure beats down upon what's left of this goddess, over and over and over, until she is down on her dissolving knees, unable to fight anymore, but only to endure the blows as more pieces of her are torn off.

    The cathedral falls out from underneath them as the unceasing force shatters the ground, separating the statue of Phoebe in which the PRAYER System is kept from the rest of the cathedral. Phoebe's Temple falls down into the void without them, faster than they are falling, like the statue is all that was slowing its descent.

    Phoebe's dying flames try to grab Empty Tidings by that indestructible arm of hers, that once bore an image of Phoebe herself upon it.

    I pity you. I go to die in honor, defending what I love. But all the power you hold, the strength you have used to so utterly crush me, to tear apart this once-paradise... Will simply lead to your own downfall. Mercy is not one of my traits. I have delivered my prophecy. Now I take it from you with a curse. All the power left in her, the last vestiges of power of a star going nova, is channeled into her hand, as she attempts to imprint her own crest upon the Infernal's arm. Endure the promise of redemption until your dying days. The knowledge of what you can do instead. Its fulfillment as you pursue what you desire and find it hollow. Let you never know happiness unless you abandon what you have endured so much for, and to know that happiness is possible. Let you lose everything again, just like we did.

    Can the curse planted by such a dying being actually take hold and have any meaning? Empty Tidings has already demonstrated her superior power in battle. That wounds and even the loss of her eyes do not matter. Can the brand of a goddess of prophecy matter one single iota, if it even sticks?

    Hard to say right now. But one thing is certain. The sky above Emblem City high above has gone red, and it is very distant. But there's a screaming mass of the hungry dead, the Unlit, coming closer and closer, audible now that the battle is over, and the chunk of Temple ground that the statue is on plummets towards them.

Tomoe has posed:
Tomoe's spell works better than she oculd of she sees the code and wonders about the nature of this place a bit more in the bac of her mind. She fights she fights hard the mock Crow the red one faces her attacks. It doesn't fall yet, but she is doing damage to it. She keeps going after it trying to incernate the sludge thing with a barrage of close up fire and sword attacks.

"I don't know what you are but whoeever master minded this?! I am going tp take a piece out of them. I'm holding my own keep yours down. She doe snot know mow much longer the one's she's trying to protect will hang on but damn it she's going to keep fighting with good support from Leyanne.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Wandering Dog==

    Alloy nods, accepting what has happened. Accepting what Wandering Dog says. No matter what his real identity is, their love was real. She smiles, saves her tears for after he leaves. Closes her eyes. Then opens them. "Okay." she says simply. "Then there's only one thing I can ask of you." She stands up, walks over to Wandering Dog as the door, and embraces him one last time. She kisses him, if he will allow it, with all the love she has in her body. After a dozen seconds or so, when she has to stop or else she won't be able to bear him leaving if it goes on any longer, she makes her request.

    "Never stop being the hero I always knew you were."

    The ground is trembling. The sky has turned red as blood. It's time to go.

    She just stands there and smiles. Holding back everything else. Hoping that this last loving vision of her will be what he remembers her for. Not the loss or the parting of ways.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Asterios and Tanya==

    Asterios strikes at the Unlit, at the Corruption. Not at the one already on his way out, the dying god that is doomed no matter what, but at his tormentors. The manifestation of the Corruption that caused all this. Tanya unleashes her magically-empowered rounds that split and multiply. And the combined effects are possibly beyond anything expected. Asterio's blows practicaly liquify the half-ooze monsters, tearing them asunder in a veritable hurricane of force that roars in every direction, swirling and smashing the ocean below.

    Tanya's bullets multiply... And multiply... And multiply... Until she is mowing down hundreds, thousands, millions of them. The ooze slacks and melts down into a puddle of filth at the bottom of this vast chamber. The three containers with Earth, Moon, and Sun in them, abruptly detach from their towrs. The servers float in the air for a moment, almost seeming to be looking back at the two in the doorway. Then they blink out of existence.

    The building trembles more violently as the mechano-flesh heart pumps its last few spurts of 'blood'. A hole opens behind Asterios and Tanya. A portal leading out of here.

    A last gesture of... Thanks? Reconciliation? Apology? If those servers were even part of Coeus to begin with, that is. But what else could they have been? Either way, the building they are in is suddenly... Falling. Falling fast. Tanya might not notice as quickly because of her flight, and relative speed, but as even Asterios might start to lift off the floor in the fall, it's clear they need to go.

Empty Tidings has posed:
The Monster tears the Goddess asunder.

Pieces of her are flung away. Chunks of a person-shaped solar fire go plummeting off the cathedral-platform. Her poisonous presence taints every fragment, every shard, every spark, cursing and casting down the protector of this place piece by flaming, bloody piece.

She breathes hard, looming over her. Her cheeks are wet with black tears. Smoke and shadow oozes from empty sockets. She is a witness to the deepest darkness there could be; no form of it, even the absence of things with which to see the the light, could ever take her sight. Instead, it marks her as the abominable thing she is: a creature of that same darkness, meant to clash with those who wield the light at every turn.

For one on whom fate has no hold, life certainly seems to enjoy taking certain poetic licenses anyway.

That accursed hand halts. Phoebe speaks. The Infernal cocks her head at the voice. She presses her lips into a thin line. Foreign power eats into the thing that is her hand, the physical representation of the Yozis' hold on her body and soul. The mark is etched, carved into unbreakable rock.

Does it matter? Does any of it this matter? She's lacerated and burned, beaten, battered. Her eyes are gone, seared away. Her chest heaves with the heavy breaths of exhaustion, but there are no other signs she's so much as acknowledged any of it. No signs that this curse of prophecy will do anything but irritate her. She's simply unstoppable. Isn't she?

Lies. Damned lies. Lies in everything she does. Lies in everything she is.

She isn't invincible. She just plays the role.

The Monster lifts the Goddess with her hand of flesh and blood and casts her into the abyss, one final act before this world is left behind.

Wandering Dog has posed:
Those dozen seconds are basically an eternity, and once it's done, Wandering Dog just nods, and gives her a thumbs up and a grin. It's slightly forced, but the intent is true. "Of course. You can count on me." And then, Wandering Dog is out the door.

On the way out, Wandering Dog takes one last stop to look back at the house, and then leaves. He begins a dash across the buildings and running across walls, hoping to use his enhanced mobility to find one of the others, an objective, or the way out. The blood red sky gets a growl from him, as he begins to remember something, and he just shakes his head. Maybe it's time to finally let go after all these years.

Wandering Dog shouts as he moves, as everything falls apart. "Hey! Where are you guys, everything's falling apart and we need to get the hell out of here!" He's going to regret missing getting to punch one of the gods, but, this was worth it in its own way.

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    The miniature Major swiftly ejects her spent magazine, discarding it and immediately slotting in a new one from the clip on her suit. As the slide is racked to arm the Thompson, though, she observes the outcome of her spell. The liquification of ravenous dead under her bullets and Asterios' divine-forged axes. She lifts the weapon skyward, though, when it appears that the two warriors made short work of so many abominations.

    Golden eyes lift when those server machines lift, turn, and disappear. They narrow slightly, and the girl scowls her dissatisfaction.

    The ground shaking doesn't go unnoticed. She doesn't feel it, but the world shaking around her is an obvious thing. Tanya is already considering escape options when that portal opens, and she draws attention to it-- "Asterios, we're leaving!"

    She doesn't depart until her Servant does. Though right before she leaves, she unfixes the four grenades from her belt. Held in a cluster in one hand, she loops her finger through the pull-cords, "When you took him from me, I made a promise. Just because you were sick doesn't mean I'm not fulfilling that." With a yank, she pulls those cords loose, and all four grenades begin hissing. With an underhand, she lobs all four grenades into the heart room, "It's meaningless. You're already dead. It's the principle of the thing. Consider it a mercy killing if you want."

    Not that Tanya actually feels sorry for Coeus. She's incapable of it. There's simply the ... PR to be had in mercy-killing a suffering, dying 'god'. She doesn't wait for the grenades to detonate before taking her own exit through the provided portal.

Asterios (1137) has posed:
    Let it never be said that the minotaur lives solely for destruction. He is driven by rage-- by the animalistic fury that paradoxically kept him sane for so many years spent in the Labyrinth of legend. But even then, there is an intelligence behind it. An awareness that, given time to grow, might have become something great in its own right. And yet instead, he was used for his entire life- nothing more than a tool and an instrument for those who held power over him to wield.

    So now, is it any wonder how gleefully he smashes the darkness that surrounds him? That he now has a master who actually /listens/ to him before handing down orders. The minotaur strikes at the darkness, his blows hammering shockwaves that tear into the sea of corruption. Again and again and again, until finally... Something changes.

    The servers detach and disappear. Asterios stares after them for a moment longer, before the world starts to give way and-- Coeus, or perhaps those machines-- open a way for them to escape. Asterios takes it. Before the world falls away entirely-- they have to go. He waits at the gate for his master to do her work.

    Perhaps they didn't really get to enact their vengeance after all. It wasn't by their hand that the world of Emblem City was destroyed. Tanya's actions make sense-- there is a principle to be upheld, after all. That principle might be 'fuck you, got mine' but anyone who might care about the details is already dead anyway, so it doesn't matter!

    But still, a small part of him, deep down inside, is quietly satisfied at the outcome. Is it because Coeus was dead? Or could it be a mote of pleasure at being able to save something, anything of a former life long past?

And still, there's a nagging sensation at the back of his mind--

They... were used by someone, weren't they?

    "Master," Asterios says as they leave together, "This... Isn't over yet. I think. There was a reason for all of this."

The minotaur aims to find out what.

Carna (974) has posed:
    ==Count Kord, Rebecca, Staren, Carna, Kushiko, Tomoe, Leyanne, Empty Tidings==

    Midnight Blue is not expecting the transformation, raisin an army and actually looking surprised and dismayed for the first time. Unlike when Kord was growing stronger before, this power boost is not matched by the construct creature. Perhaps because it's not just Kord's strength alone. Kord streaks upwards, flipping skyscrapers end over end only for them to disintegrate in the wave of power that chases after him. Midnight Blue barely brings its blade up only for the blade to crack and slam into its own face. It tries to fight back, tries to desperately adjust to Kord's fighting, to strike from behind, but with how Kord is now... He could block it with his scythe without even looking.

    With Staren at the ready to blast Midnight Blue across the city, they will soon find themselves at LUM-01, right where Leyanne and Tomoe are fighting. Together, Leyanne and Tomoe took down enemies that can not stand up to their enhanced powers and team work. They drew upon their experiences as both Sheena and Leyanne, as Tomoe and Tiny, as well as upon Jeci and Paird, and used that connection to this place and to what lies outside of it, to assert, 'NO, this is NOT how it should be. We may not LIKE this god, but he deserves better than to be betrayed right when he seeks redemption!' And it works. Their strength, their souls, destroy their foes.

    Cannon fire, flame, and sword, leave the fakes oozing messes on the street, right as Midnight Blue slams into LUM-01 and into its hollow interior, carried on Staren's massive attack... With Kord right on his heels.

    Kushiko leaping from piece of crumbling city to piece of crumbling city is in a good position to get everyone together in one place and them get them a door OUT of here. There doesn't appear to be any other exit (unless one is 999 sub-levels underneath this place. And right now 'his place' is falling, along with its streets, its buildings, everything holding it together, so they'll be down there the HARD way if they don't leave faster. She is integral to that.

    Wandering Dog may hear the voice of someone call out to him in response. Carna yells out, "Here! I am not sufficiently empowered to flee on my own. Assistance would be welcome." Leaping from street to wall to rooftop to chunk of street falling through the air, until he reaches the devastated battle ground left behind by Kord and Midnight Blue (mainly the former), Wandering Dog is just in time to be a hero again.

    A hero always arrives at the last minute. Both Rebecca and Carna look like they could use some help getting to where everyone else is.

    ...haha... Coeus' voice whispers softly in an alleyway somewhere. ...now I see... I wonder what would have happened if we'd started from the bottom, and added more levels between us and the living world...? Then Coeus is gone.

    Prometheus is gone.

    And Phoebe is certainly gone, her embers swirling into a whirlpool of cursed energy below. A distortion of reality that sucks in the Corruption of the swarming masses, the voices of trillions of shrieking undead growing louder and louder. No telling where the warp leaves, but hopefully 'out'. Because the alternative is being eaten by Anti-Soul weapons. And no matter whether truth or lies, that is not something most people walk away from feeling okay about it.

Staren has posed:
    Seeing Midnight Blue weakened from the strike, Staren flies towards it, thrusters burning bright as he accelerates. The armor on Staren's arms pops off (note to self: Make it so the replacements can stay attached when doing this) and if someone were actually looking closely in all the chaos and movement, they'd see them glowing from the light of electricity arcing all around them, shining brightly as Staren crosses his forearms in front of him in an X.

    And then in a flash, he's on the other side of Midnight Blue, arms uncrossed, having sliced through the creature with robotic strength and dumped who knows how much electric energy into it. There may be dramatic toku-style explosions, just this once.

    Normally, using that attack drains Staren all but completely. But right now? He's free to grin at his handiwork and then run off to help Carna to the door, if needed, before meeting up with Kushiko. "Is everyone here? Let's go!"

Wandering Dog has posed:
As Carna calls out, Wandering Dog heads for her location, and leaps forward, moving towards her and Rebecca. "Alright, then. Let's get out of here!" Offering to support whoever needs assistance to move, he'd pull them forward, using his superhuman ability to continue moving even with passengers, continuing to leap from chunk to chunk, and leading them towards Kushiko and the others. "Go, go, go! The whole place is falling apart and we don't want to be caught up in all of this! Everyone alright?"

It was over. This prison was going to be destroyed, and Wandering Dog would never have to deal with it again. But he'd always remember it, and he'd always remember being Balences, even if he told the others not to treat their alter-egos like people. It was something he'd allow himself.

Count Kord has posed:
    Right after that blast, there comes another one. A beam of red light that streaks toward Midnight Blue right when there's an opening and strikes with even more force than the last. This time, it's raw and primordial destruction, and it streaks through the sky and distorts the light around it as it annihilates even the spiritual light particles on its way to its target.

    As the attack's residual effects clear, Kord flits down from the sky to catch up with the others. He uses his shadows like tendrils with sharp, angular fingers to gently pick Rebecca up and lift her out of this place, his face a vision of neutrality after that battle, but no longer human in appearance... overcast with the image of two white eyes and a zig-zag mouth, as if it were a simulcrum of Crow's own visage. His hair is gone.

    He finds it easier to do this than to maintain his human facial features, when he can't accurately maintain them during this stressful period. Inspired a bit by the simplicity in Crow's own appearance.

Kushiko has posed:
Kushiko would probably be a *little* bit better off had she brought Nova. Seems like as much as she was prepared to engage in combat of a martial variety, this instance found her within combat of a more personal, subjective variety. As it goes to that notion, there's little she can do for actually dealing with it right now, though her 'gaze', such as it were, lingers at the direction of the Church.

<"We're not done here at all,"> she murmurs more to herself, echoing a sentiment of the bull, even if she wasn't aware of it. And then she calls out--her voice... /resonating/ throughout the crumbling System. <"WE'RE GETTING OUT OF HERE! IF YOU'RE OUT HERE, BE READY TO GET TO DEBRIS THAT YOU SEE MOVING TOWARDS THE LIGHT!"> They'd need to catch up on, well, everything here. What she will do however, is start... /magnetizing/ things. Like great slabs, walls, things like that, some that have natural metal inside, others simply their trace materials--she'll create platforms for people, either to bring them to where she is, or otherwise assist in their evacuation.

Staren gets a slight shrug, as she has waaaay too much focus on what she's needing to do. This would be /so much easier/ were she Nova, but the concepts are similar. Except she has to do it with her /true/ self. It's almost a shame the children in the church would not see this. Maybe it's for the best. Energy ripples and resonates--and a figure manifests--no, coalesces out of energy, rectangular patterns of light as she swirls out of it like an event horizon drawn through as she hovers out of her Warframe. A Warframe that, against all odds, /continues to do what it's doing/.

Energy flows out of her like a dam breaks--because with /everyone/ empowered, it means what she is, her true self has a chance. Because in order to even /do/ what she's doing here, she just forcibly transferred herself--from her Orbiter untold distance, no, /out of this world completely/ using her Warframe as that conduit.

Ought not the reverse be possible?

"Get ready to go in quickly!" she manages to say, her voice strained with the energy roiling out of her much like a living, breathing thing of chaos and more. Pale green light intermingles with lilac before reaching a shade of gold that seems to make a shape of a 'cape' from her back, bleeding the excess away as she presses her hands forward and focuses an extradimensional beam of energy into the open space in front of her. It makes a resounding *CRACK* as it 'connects', and the girl--visibly straining with the effort--pulls her hands apart like she were grabbing ahold of of the open pinhole, and splitting it open into a big enough gateway to get people through.

She can't move from here, just yet--she'll have to be the last one out, the very space around her shifting and warping with the effort, almost buffeting at people with the act.

Empty Tidings has posed:
Empty Tidings watches the Goddess plummet. She keeps her eyes fixed on the sight for long moments. She sees the distortion... and sees the things around the outside.

Best not.

The Exalt, still wreathed in her resplendent wrath, turns to the other possibility. She grasps the remains of the crumbling platform and tears it apart, flinging it upwards in pieces ahead of her... and then, with superhuman agility, leaps from piece to piece to approach the growing pinprick that will lead them to safety. She comes down fast, a green comet that approaches the Tenno-made exit at speed, and threads the needle to get out without crashing into the waves of distortion on either side.

Up, over, in. She's gone in seconds. This forsaken place will be lost, and she won't be lost with it.

Her right arm aches. It isn't supposed to be able to do that.

Tomoe has posed:
Tomoe keeps fighting maybe it's futile but she keeps fighting none the the less. She fights hard she fights brutally against this thint but it's too late she knew Coeus wasn't long for this world. SAdly and they pass but with their foes fallen at least he had a moment of peace she hears this last words but it's time to get out of here it time to go she'll grab tiny pull a crystal from her inventory and call out.


Both vanish in a flash of light...

Carna (974) has posed:
    Kord chases the falling Midnight Blue down through LUM-01... And then fires his beam of pure destruction into him as the golem flickers and distorts, derezzing as the forces holding it together collapse. When Midnight Blue finally dies, Kord and everyone who was abducted may finally feel like the part of them that was left behind here, the piece of them that was missing, has been restored. Midnight Blue was a golem comprised not just of a distorted piece of Coeus's body... But also a piece of each of the eleven abductees, and fashioned into a form that was directly antithetical to Kord. So whenever Kord got stronger, so did his Bane.

    But that's over now. And so is Emblem City. Everything explodes, flies apart. Anyone who hasn't exited through a portal yet falls through empty space, as beams of light zip by them. Everything is bright now. There is no ground, no sky, no ocean of death, no anything, just them and light.

    And a shadow that peels out of Kord's body as he falls, forming first into the solid body Crow was given, and then into a more realistically humanoid one. Semi-vampiric, like Kord, taking some traits from him. There's no mistaking those horns, even if they are now very Yveltal-like. Just like Kord is wearing traits of Crow's old self in turn. Crow is...

    Female, apparently. At least based off of the body it--she was given. THAT'S awkward for everyone who has been calling it a 'he'. But hey, Crow is back! Raven-haired, very pale, with white eyes, but she smiles as she watches everyone falling towards the portal that Kushiko has made. The hole formed by twisting reality with the power of the Void, and making an exit. Everyone is in the same place now.

    Crow reaches out for Kord's hand, even as her fingers disintegrate. An effect that spreads upwards. She looks startled, but then smiles. "Hey. Thank you all for coming to help me. I really appreciate it. But I remember everything now. I don't think... Cro was the greatest person. There's another me out there somewhere. The me that isn't from here. Look after them. Forget about me, and try to live your own life. You did everything you could for this place and more." Crow dissolves more and more, as she falls away from them, up into the light as reality contracts. "And don't tell Enark about me, please. I don't want to break his heart again. He'll find the other me eventually. Let him believe I just forgot everything. You know he is... About failing to save people. I'll look after what's left of this place, and make sure no one abuses it ever again."

    "Thank you."

    Then Emblem City, this pocket reality, everything, is gone.

    And those who left through Kushiko's portal or the one provided by the Lumiere System, are back where they started, in Enark's study, now free of Corruption. The books, furniture, shelves, everything is warped and corroded, twisted and wound together like vines made out of the room iself. And Enark is sitting on the floor near the Shrine. He looks extremely weary still. And... Very old. And his hair has gone stark white. He weakly says, "Oh, good. You made it. Did you save everyone?"

Staren has posed:
    Oh hey it's Enark's study. Staren looks back the way they came, then to Enark. "No. We didn't get Crow... and I'm not sure what happened to the... 'civilians' we saw the first time -- whether they were real, or projections, or what." He takes off his helmet, and scratches his head. "That world wasn't even the Lord of Fear's creation -- he tricked some other beings into putting the people he kidnapped into it. I guess the more you think about it, the more clear it is that we've been completely outmaneuvered. We didn't catch him, and someone /else's/ world just got destroyed."