July 2012 Cutscene Log

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Message: 24/2 (timeout warning) Posted Author
And So The Wheel Turns 1/3 Sun Jul 08 Viridian Sunrise


MUSIC: SECRET OF MANA OST - I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU
LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSBPqfviWw4&

A LITTLE OVER TWO HUNDRED YEARS AGO…

A young man clad in the armor of the Seventh Legion fights alongside his fellows in the last stand of Lookshy. His hair is short, and dark brown, drawn into a topknot. His eyes are the color of amber, and his body is covered in wounds. The Deathlord's attention is held by the City-Goddess, who strode out to meet him during this final battle. A brief instant appears in which the Mask of Winters is vulnerable to a strike from behind. Jerkily, the young soldier raises his spear, but hesitates in the last second.

The city falls.

A WEEK LATER…

The creature follows the young man, in the shape of the City-Goddess.

"Accept their powers," she says, "and you can right this wrong."

A FEW DAYS LATER…

A red-haired young man with his hair secured into a topknot puts on his tainted orichalcum-and-moonsilver armor for the first time. With eyes blackened by the traits of his demon companion, he looks out on the world with arrogance and disdain. All wrongs will be set right with the strength of my blade, he thinks.

NOT LONG AFTER…

Standing in a sea of dispersed undead, the red-haired young man roars with laughter as he cuts the last of them down. More wounded than he believed himself to be, he ultimately finds himself resting by a nearby river. A young woman arrives then, with dark skin and pink hair, and tattoos the color of the moon. The red-haired man reaches for his weapons in anticipation of having to defend himself, but the need never comes.

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Message: 24/3 (timeout warning) Posted Author
And So The Wheel Turns 2/3 Sun Jul 08 Viridian Sunrise


TWO YEARS LATER…

Smiting Star of Heaven and Blossom Rose of Autumn destroy the Five Jade Fortress before the Wyld Hunt have a chance to use it. They duel with the Terrestrial Exalted, and ultimately manage to win… but no one dies, at least not at that time. They leave the rubble wounded and weary, but they leave all the same.

TWENTY YEARS LATER…

They board the Stygian Harrier as they depart from the realm of He Who Hath Too Long a Name Under The Skies. Their victory is decisive, the Deathlord's fleet is devastated and unable to act against Creation.

A HUNDRED YEARS LATER…

They're not doing anything special. The pink-haired woman is fussing at the red-haired man about summoning demons. He reluctantly gives in and abstains from doing so.

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Message: 24/4 (timeout warning) Posted Author
And So The Wheel Turns 3/3 Sun Jul 08 Viridian Sunrise


TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS LATER…

They leave the Union together. The pink-haired woman is very sad. The red-haired man doesn't remember what that's like.

TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY TWO YEARS LATER…

Viridian Sunrise kneels in front of the funeral pyre, sparks of blue flame igniting the twin sticks of incense that he has placed just beneath the pyre. He remembers what that is like, one last time.

"Thank you for everything, and I am sorry for everything as well." The red-haired man says to the pink-haired woman, rising to his feet. The feeling of his armor around him does not even register. "I love you… and goodbye."

The red-haired man walks away, and does not look back.

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Message: 24/5 (timeout warning) Posted Author
A clearing of thoughts. Sun Jul 08 Makoto Kino


For someone to wear a special outfit into the holographic training rooms in Njorun Station is not terribly uncommon. It is, however, uncommon for that to be a green leotard, with a pair of bladed shoes being held by the trainee. But do what Makoto needs to at THIS hour, she'll take the odd looks, as the tall woman makes her way into the training room.

"Activate Program Kino-002."

As a response to the command, the field of an icy pond materializes on a white, barren-seeming land. A castle stands in the distance, and beyond it, Earth dominates the skyline. Makoto pulls on her ice skates. Time to clear the head. A strong push of a long leg, and the moon once again hosts a figure skater.

/A new fachead/

~This one seems rather well-suited for the job, actually. Going to have to learn more about them at the gathering tomorrow.~

/Consolidation of Confederate Power/

~Veridian is simply frightening, and just seems to get moreso. He seems unbeatable now… I wonder, though… I still use the spear he and Rose gave me a long time ago… Maybe he wouldn't be so invincible if… Well, not something to be counted on, anyway.~

/Blossom Rose/

~She fell to the darkness for the man she loved. I can't blame her. I'd seen it before: Beryl, Esmeraude. Though, her message made Exaltations seem a lot like our Star Seeds. I should help find her again, and make her last request happen.~

/Loki/

~I don't even know what to think. Maybe Usagi rubbed off on me too much, but I don't want to think he's a bad guy. Confused, angry, and in pain, but not BAD. Shame his brother's not here. Maybe if I can complete those apples for him.~

/Io Castle/

~I've managed to clear the library, and MOST of a guest room, and PART of the Princess's chambers- My room- but no matter how much I chop, it seems there's always more vines. It's almost like the castle is resisting m-~

Makoto slides herself to a sudden stop. "COULD it be resisting me? Like I'm not *READY* to take it? I doubt it's alive, but… it makes sense if this is all tied to the Jupiter Power. There's a test involved, I'll bet. And the clues are there." She skates her way toward where she started, to switch her skates for shoes. "Program End." The lake vanishes. "Time to act like a princess, and learn to be a queen."

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Message: 24/6 (timeout warning) Posted Author
Breathe Sun Jul 08 Yunomi


Yunomi shouldn't be here. She should be in the station's medical branch, healing. She should be paying attention to Atomic Robo's commands. She should have turned off her radio, tried to tune him out… but she couldn't. Not while he was like this.

She'd drawn a chair close to the hospital bed, her arms folding as they supported her head, looking over the Asgardian's form in a vigil, half awake and half asleep. Her ears flicked at the beeping of the monitor as her friend lay there. She draws her hand up, brushing her own still bandaged hand over his face, pulling back some of his hair before she settled back down to her lonely vigil over him.

"I can't do very much right by them either." she whispers to him, her legs curling under her chair as she cradles her head. "I'm always being told I can't, or being protected by others, I'm… so sorry Loki. I couldn't protect you this time. I couldn't protect Yuna. I couldn't protect anyone… some guardian, huh? … I suppose that's the greatest trick. They still think I can do something… but…" she frowns, watching over the god with her spirit broken. "I promised if you went into darkness, that I'd follow and shine for you to come back. I'll keep that promise, Loki. Even if it kills me."

What would you be willing to give up for him? Iianor had asked her that question. And sitting here, right now in the Cirrus hospital, their bodies wrecked from combat and her spirit from guilt and pain, Yunomi would still have the same answer, the same one she gave for all of her friends, her family… her world.

Everything.

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Message: 24/7 (timeout warning) Posted Author
To Believe. To Understand. Sun Jul 08 K4-800M


"I believed, but I did not understand. Now I understand."

That's what K4-800M told Untamed Breeze of the Shining Waves, when the Exalt asked the others why they didn't believe her warnings. If an Elite was saying that a place was filled with traps designed to kill Elites, then Kay knew to take it seriously… But even knowing how dangerous it was, Kay still had no idea /what/ to expect, giving her very little chance to properly prepare…

Oh, but Breeze was good to her word. There were traps alright. Terrible ones. Beams made from leylines… a field that rearranged your flesh in unsightly ways… Kay was only lucky that she was a machine… Though even as a machine, there was no guarantee that Kay would be immune to the fleshmelting field. The fact that she so willfully stepped into the field after only briefly testing the waters was a testament to how little Kay actually valued her own personal safety.

And why would Kay see her safety as anything valuable? She /was/ an absolute monster, after all.

Oh, maybe she wasn't as forward about it as the Hunter of Ages or other such Last Chancers. Maybe she didn't feel it necessary to talk about the blood that was on her hands.

But the blood was there. And now, there was just a little bit more.

Oh sure, Kay didn't strike the final blow. She didn't even /fight/ Rose directly. But she was /there/. She was part of the group that pushed Rose over the edge, and forced her to do… what the Union itself probably should have done from the start. What Kay would have done had she not been such a heartless monster.

And that was when Sunrise came. Kay was told that he was powerful. And she believed it. She /believed/ that he was powerful. But she didn't /understand./ His power was so strange to her… so beyond her reckoning. This wasn't even the first time she'd witnessed his power. She had seen it just shortly after joining the fight with the Union, at the battle of North Star.

…But even knowing that, last night was different. He spoke. She fell. That was all there was to it. And when she woke up in Union medical, surrounded by her concerned family… …Her mind could not even begin to comprehend what had happened to her.

Kay has taken on armies… destroyed monsters that destroyed worlds… faced some of the most powerful beings that the Multiverse had to offer. She was mighty. She was strong. Some was Elite.

But the Confederate Shogun had destroyed her as easily as one crushes an ant. In the face of such power, Kay counted herself lucky to be alive.

She believed… She /feared/… but she didn't understand.

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Message: 24/8 (timeout warning) Posted Author
Prelude to an End (1) Sun Jul 08 Noh


'What dreams may come', the famous bard said,
'What dreams may come', danced in her head.
'What dreams may come', close on till morning,
'What dreams may come', dreamer take warning.

Morning was coming again, as Noh stared out on the precipace of nothing; having sought out the edge of the chunk of land the castle was attached to, where it floated in the void, beyond-which there was nothing; save the purple sparks where the world 'ended' and something else began. The whole place was ensconced in a barrier, that hid it, as far as she could tell, from the rest of the multiverse. Very cleanly, her 'home' did not exist to anyone.

Yet here it was, a castle on a piece of land that to itself had it's own weather system, it's own stars, it's own moon - which glowed overhead; at least she assumed it was a moon. It was big, and bright, and appeared in the sky no matter the time of day, so maybe it wasn't a moon or a sun, but just.. there. It was something. It was soothing really. Except right now.

Three months. It had been about three months since she last slept. And every (tick) minute (tock) that crept (tick-tock) by since she realized this made the orb of light overhead seem deranged, swollen, bearing the face of a madman leering down at her. She tried to leer back up at it often but what was the point. So she had taken to staring at it whenever she could see it, challenging it to blink, to wink out just once. It never did.

Today she decided she would give up the infernal staring match.

Morning was coming.
And as she slowly lay down, there, at the edge of the world, in a rut of earth she had dug for herself..
And as she covered herself over with the soil, burying herself in the hopes that he could not get her in a shallow grave..
And as she closed her eyes, as she let her mind slowly drift away..

The words came again.

'What dreams may come.'

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Message: 24/9 (timeout warning) Posted Author
Prelude to an End (2) Sun Jul 08 Noh


'There's such a sad love, deep in your eyes,
A kind of pale jewel, open and closed, within youreyes,
I'll place the sky within your eyes.

There's such a fooled heart beating so fast
In search of new dreams,
A love that will last within your heart,
I'll place the moon within your heart.'

When she opens her eyes, she is groggy. She can tell right away she's dreaming because not under the ground where she laid down, but standing up, in the corner of a large room, wearing an ornate dress, and holding a mask on a stick that when held to her face, makes her look like a fancy princess instead of the waistrel she so normally emulates. The room is a ballroom; a table takes up nearly the entire wall she is in the corner of, and there are people in masks dancing out among streamers. Yet something about them feels imperfect; it takes her only moments to realize none of the masks has a pair of eyes behind it; instead there is only a white void.

She starts to wander.

As she does so, she starts to feel something drawing her into the crowd; a sense of something more. A sense of something to come, something that could be. Among a sea of dead bodies dancing mechanically as if each ere posied atop the spring-loaded pole of a music box, there is a sensation of possibility. Something, here, lives, it breathes, it exists. Winding through the crowd of muted colors she at last sees what she is looking for; a brilliant body in orange and red, standing out among the rest; a black beak on firey red feathers his mask.

Her heart skips a beat, and she migrates like a moth to a porchlight. There is life, there is a soul, there is some prophetic answer here. She knows the eyes behind the mask in an instant, and she reaches hastily up to pull it away, but when she tries to find the face behind it, the world suddenly crumbles and she falls away.

'As the pain sweeps through, makes no sense for you,
Every thrill has gone, wasn't too much fun at all,
But I'll be there for you,
As the world falls down'

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Message: 24/10 (timeout warning) Posted Author
Prelude to an End (3) Sun Jul 08 Noh


When she jumps awake, she is once again disoriented, thrusting herself in a cold sweat from the earth in which she had hid herself. The brilliant glowing orb is still overhead, but looking to it makes her see it ablaze, with flames the color of blood; and the sky beyond is a field of miasma.

Confusing most of all is that as she sits up, slumps to her knees where she sits, she finds her hand is grasping something; looking down, uncurling it, she finds a single feather; a plume the color of the same red flame as was the halo of the mask in her dream. As she stares at it, vaguely bewildered, wind suddenly catches it from her palm, and it dances away.

She is left confused.

'Falling in love.'

('As The World Falls Down' - David Bowie)

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Message: 24/11 Posted Author
An Excerpt from GameFAQs.com Fri Jul 13 Arthur Lowell


Sburb Walkthrough 0.05
07/13/20
By profoundBadness

TABLE OF CONTENTS (incomplete):

[0000] Apologies and Accedence
[0001] Phernamia Registry
[0002] Server Abilities
[0003] Grist
[0004] Your Asshole Ghost Sidekick
[0005] Underlings
[0006] The Echeladder
[A000] Walkthrough (incomplete)
[A001] Entry
[A002] The Medium
[A003] A Preface on the Subject of Lands
[A004] Anatomy of a Land
[A101] Name
[A102] Terrain
[A103] Locals
[A104] Quests
[A105] Shops
[A106] Gates
[A201] Land of Spires and Frogs
[A202] Land of Wood and Haze
[A203] Land of Gold and Shade
[A204] Land of Grit and Lamps

[A003] A Preface on the Subject of Lands

The Lands are a complicated thing.

These planets seem mostly isolated. They're not a part, at least in some significantly contiguous way, of the Multiverse. Which is fine, because each of them seem like functional independent ecosystems and civilizations on their own, and it would be hells kinds of terrible if I had to deal with the problems of sustainability.

No, there are different problems. Mostly the locals. Partially the world itself. See, I get the feeling these worlds are designed so that some kid, somewhere, probably never fought a day in his life, will be able to become a fantastic, powerful, hella legendary figure all up in the general psyche and shared cultural paradigm that the whole planet's population seems to have.

Thing is, this means it's not really built to handle a whole lot of multiverse people suddenly showing up and making waves. A lot of these guys fight wars. They punch gods, or take down thousands of bad dudes, or they hunt monsters, or sometimes they even are monsters. This makes the lands delicate under their touch, you know?

So when you get out of your house, through your First Gate, and down to your Land, you had better hope it's one built to handle everything you're going to put in it. If it's not, I don't know what will happen. But I do know it looks and feels like one hell of a powder keg, and I do know that sort of volatility isn't going to be a good idea in a context like this.

Be careful with the Lands. I don't know anywhere else to go if you set off the explosion under your feet.

(This is ICly available to Session 412 members and people who ICly google Sburb, and may be read in full at http://pastebin.com/0RLXLEn9.)

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Message: 24/12 Posted Author
Rocky Vengeance Fri Jul 13 Charr


Charr was limping a little after that damned boulder of Rarity's had fallen on him, but he was feeling much better now. So much better in fact that he was already walking around again! No rest for the wicked, after all. Things to get done.. Functions to perform, plots to plot, calls to make. Businesses didn't run themselves after all, even in the middle of this Discord crisis he was still the owner, president, and CEO of Balman Industries.

And to make most of his day easier, he had Spike to help him organize things! Mew bless the little drake but he was the best secretary ever. Even better than Charr's secretary- granted, he'd hired *his* secretary because she was a hot little nerdy college coed who had bills to pay- and she practically buried herself in paperwork everyday. No wonder Twilight Sparkle adored Spike so much. He was so /efficient/ and /fast/. Hell, he was even a living fax machine! That reminded him, needed to introduce fax machines to Equestria, ease Spike's workload.

"All done!" "Wow, already? …I'll be darned, y'really /are/ done. Well heck, c'mon sport, I made a special dinner just for you." "Really?? What is it?" "Here, here." Leading Spike into the dining room, he'd present the little dragon with.. "I made a gemloaf~ o/‘" "Gemloaf?" "Yeah! S’like meatloaf, but instead'a meat, I used broken up gemstones!" Kid was salivating in seconds. "Here here, an' I made gravy too!" "Oh wow this is awesome! What kinda gems did you use? Where did you even GET gems? I haven't found many lately." "Oh, all sorts, found'em just th' other day!"

So as Spike dug in, Charr just.. Sat back, and smiled. "This is really good! You want any, Charr?" "Naw, I already had some coal earlier, I'm good." Nomfnomfnomf. "Oh say I was told to ask, is that Tom Dan whatever still around after he landed on you?" "Oh, aye. He's around. He's uh.. ..Juicy." Pause. Headtilt. "..Juicy?" Charr leaned back a bit, steepling his hooves together. "Did I say juicy? I meant.. Well marbled, with a kind of piquant aftertaste." Spike blinked again, then looked down at his gemloaf, as Charr continued, "I mean he's /good/.. …Isn't he."

The warpony's face curled into a sadistic grin. "Gwahaha.. Uwahahahaha.." Spike stared a moment, then back down at his dinner.. Shrugged, and kept eating. After all, it was just a rock. Not a person. Not even a rock-person.

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Message: 24/13 Posted Author
Train Ride Sun Jul 15 Shizune Nakamura


"…so that's what it's like to be a magical girl for the day…"

The train speeds its way home through the Multiverse, Shizune's eyes absently tracking the scenery outside. There are some beautiful things out there, but given what time her body insists it is, she's going to have to sleep through most of them. But she isn't particularly concerned about that; her mind isn't even on it.

Those three 'slaves' weren't very tough. If she could draw them out, she's fairly certain she could even have handled them on their own, though she'd probably have been hurt in the process, and there's no telling what their attacks would actually do to her. But still, she could see, sense how wrong they were, and if they usually attack in far greater numbers, with an even stronger type besides…

As nonthreatening as Sayuri might want to make it sound, Shizune's begun to grasp at the truth of the dangerous life she leads. She hadn't really realized it before. But the encounter in the fishing down, and now seeing what kind of monsters the Puella Magi fight, and knowing what she knows, it's begun to sink in.

She frowns, softly, looking at her own face reflected in her cabin's window. She's relatively weak on her own, but she's still an Elite, head and shoulders above most people. She's strong enough, at least, to make a difference. She has no idea how the Union's Elite force operates, what their time requirements are, how she would balance it with her existing responsibilities if she did. She's not going to forsake those. But at the same time…

The teen pulls out her phone, eyes the new Megurine Luka strap dangling from it, then switches on the phone's web browser and starts poking around for recruitment centers near her home.

At the very least, she can get information. After that… she'll think about it.

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Message: 24/14 Posted Author
Not as Planned Sun Jul 15 Himei


His stomach still hurt.

Cobalt was hardly the strongest Yamiko, and certainly not the strongest Dark General about. He'd covered up the hole and started to regenerate, but it will take some time.

"Ah, pleasure to see you, Cobalt," comes the aristocratic yet demonic voice beside him. Cobalt sighs, shaking his head.

"Argon. Why are we having this sudden meeting?"

Argon shrugs boredly, picking at the talon-like nails. "The Queen commands it," is all he says in a mild tone.

All of the others were finally here, and the Queen herself looked… somewhat alert, for once, rather than her usual listless and vacant self. She folds her fingers together and murmurs, softly, "Generals… at long last, our wayward child has returned to the fold…"

From the shadows, an arrogant, smirking man steps out, his cane tapping on the stained and dirty marble floor.

"Oh, crap," Cobalt whispers.

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Message: 24/15 Posted Author
Priority Orders - Yamiko Sun Jul 15 Ash


His face is sore.

That much is evident to Ashton Satoshi Ketchum. The ranking senior ally at the ice cream shop turned Yamiko battleground, he was too busy making certain everything was fine to talk to Himei or anyone else after the battle, aside from assuring their physical well-being.

Emotional hurts would come later.

And now was later.

He sits at the terminal in the medbay, looking at it as he glances over reports, considering something quietly . Pikachu is next to him, as is bulbasaur - both beaten up in the battle as well, although Ash took the worst of it. Although the regeneratives used by the medbay are good, they aren't instant, and his eye is pretty sore from that blast. For an instant he almost feels sorry for Yamiko facing Himei's wrath.

Almost.

But he knows what he saw tonight. He knows he saw Himei's Yamiko. And he knows that that's more than a little of what she has inside, buried deep down.

Ash doesn't know everything there is to know about Yamiko… but he knows enough. He knows enough to know that was a very definite bit of her in there, including the part that ended up destroying itself at the end. It almost seemed like it was doing it out of spite, but it was also doing it out of… despair. Hopelessness. Perhaps. He's not going to sit here and analyze the Yamiko's mind for hours, though. He knows what he needs to know.

He knows what he needs to do.

*TAP-TAP-TAP-TAP-TAP*

His association with some of the Magical Girls of the Union has been odd, at least with a few of them. One in particular, though, even though it was classed as 'odd,' could also be classed as 'close' in a way. And he knows what he's about to do helped her, at least a little. Knows it for a fact.

So he hopes that this will work for Himei.

"Computer," he says, "Bring up orders entry interface."

The system turns it up with a blurp.

He types.

*

TO: Shoutan, Himei
FROM: Ketchum, Ashton

Subject: ORDERS - For immediate action
CLASSIFICATION: Priority-1

*

Ash leans back, scratching Pikachu's ears, as he considers what else to say. He and his Pokemon 'think' back and forth a little bit, not discussing this, just getting his mind going as they toss around a mental 'tennis ball' as they call it, helping him to think. He missed his 'chance' to talk to her right afterwards, but he can do something for her now.

He thinks as he types.

*

  • You are NOT USELESS.

*

That worked for the first magical girl, but this was a different problem. What else can he add?…

*

  • You have saved a lot of people and done a LOT of good.

*

She needs more, though… what else…

*

  • You are also a great person, and a great friend.

…not enough.

*

  • You are also a great person, and a great friend. Thank you for being with us.

*

He pauses for a moment. And changes it a little…

*

  • You are a great person, and a great friend. Thank you for being with us, no matter what anyone else says.

*

Ash considers. It's not complete. What else does he need to — oh yeah. An important part. Very important. Perhaps the most obvious - but the most easily forgotten. he types even quicker.

*

  • YOU ARE NOT ALONE. YOU ARE WITH US. WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. NEVER FORGET THAT.

This is an ORDER.

He nods to himself, quickly affixing his signature and the footer of the message, activating his rank as a full Colonel for the duration before it's sent.

"Bul saurba bul." <You know this could be considered abuse of privledge.>

"You're watching me give a damn."

"Saurba." <Attaboy.>

[SEND]

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Message: 24/16 Posted Author
Muddying the Waters Tue Jul 17 Ai Genki


In Au-roroa, Hina stares into a bowl of water. Typically, this should be filled with glimpses of activity in the World- places to send her Scions, the movements of the spawn of Po, images of great victories. She so rarely looks into it, fearing the binding into fate that would come from seeing the future.

Now, she stares right into the bottom of it. It's just a bowl of water.

In a deep forest, the malefic Morrigan sits on a tree stump. Dozens of corvids are perched on her and around her feet, some of them pecking at the ground. She hasn't moved for days, head bowed, eyes staring at the dirt and grass.

Nothing.

The Cup of Jamshid displays nothing. A hulking, elfin man stares into the reflection in his cold iron blade, and finds nothing. All over the world, Sibyls and agents of fate swing their heels and wonder why the visions don't come as they usually do. Scions who have a talent for Prophecy consult their guides, wrack their brains, and come up with nothing.

And deep in their cthonic realms, the avatars of the titans sit with their engines stalling, just as blind.

What has happened to their connections to Fate?

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Message: 24/17 Posted Author
Silence in the Darkness Tue Jul 17 Duncan Idaho


The Spacing Guild.

There is no more important organization in the history of mankind, for their existence changed the fate of humanity as a whole after the first fall of Omnius and the final death throes of the Butlerian Jihad.
From the time when Butler changed itself to Corrino, and the first Padasha Emperor sat upon his gilded throne… the Guild swam the stars, linking humanity for what would be the next twenty thousand years.
It was a year so important they chronicled thereafter not A.D. but A.G.

Since the coming of Spacing Guild has humanity been able to venture through the stars, and humanity was no longer seperated by the barrier of Light Speed travel. They could evolve as One Race, no matter what world they lived upon. They could exist as One Empire, no matter the cost… for the substance that made it all possible gathered from the sands of Dune became more precious then Oil ever had been to 20th Century Man.

And now, the Guildsmen were silent. They floated in their tanks of Spice-gas, linked in a mind-to-mind consciousness. A thousand Heighliners, ships vast enough to carry whole cities within their hearts, stood still. Blue within blue mutated spice eyes of beings who had once been human men and human women floated in utter silence.

And someone was with them, gone so deep into his own Spice Trance that when he opens his eyes he looked upon their eyes, and they, in turn, looked upon him. The Emperor. The Evermind. The Man who stood at the end of the Golden Path chosen by an immortal God Emperor.

Duncan Idaho and the Spacing Guild watched the darkness, as the chaos of the Multiverse grew deeper. Ever since they Unified, these beings who existed only to look into the pathways of the future had seen the pure heart of Chaos itself. A million, billion, trillion fates and destinies of however many worlds made up the Multiverse. They, like the Kwisatz Haderach, could no longer see time flow out like a globe of water, but now it existed as the greatest maelstrom ever imagined.

And something was wrong.

"What is happening?" The echoes of the voice come from all sides as Duncan Idaho speaks.

"The Multiverse is… Something has gone wrong," come the join voices of the Guildsmen. A thousand voices echoing eachother in the endless starry night. "An emptiness is growing. A moment in time we have seen… and cannot see beyond."

"A Kralizec comes, Kwisatz Haderach. The Oracle of Time is gone. She cannot answer us. We cannot see…"

"And neither can I… …The Guild ships, do they move?"

"No."

"So be it… ….The Machines are coming. They will rescue you. They will briefly take your place. Humanity cannot lose its link to one another. …What you've done for it will never be forgotten, and none of you will ever be replaced forever. I swear it."

"…A Kralizec comes…"

For a long moment Duncan looked into the darkness that was beyond, forcing his sight to go to that blank wall of nothingness. He may be the Kwisatz Haderach of his universe, but he couldn't stop this. He couldn't fight this. He was not the Kwisatz Haderach chosen for /this/ Kralizec. Not for this time. Not for the Multiverse. But with confidence, and faith… he speaks softly to beings who had kept humanity linked even through the darkest times and kept them as One Race.

"…We will survive it."

One by one the blue within blue eyes in the place where the Guildsmen talk and are linked by the strands of the mind and the tenuous construct that had been woven long ago by the Oracle of Time… blink out. Leaving Duncan Idaho, the Emperor of Man, alone in the darkness.

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Message: 24/18 Posted Author
Flashbacks (1/2) Tue Jul 17 K4-800M


Another Council meeting dragging on way too long. Kay sighed and checked her internal clock for the 50th time in the last second. Currently, Governer Stan Strap, the leader of the Seed Region, had the floor.

"The solution to this problem is obvious," said Strap. "Our region needs more funding. I have been entrusted with the task of rebuilding Seed Labs and the surounding area, but I can't do it without support from the capitol. We need additional resources! It's the only way!" The man pleaded with Kay, desperately. But Kay knew this man to be a liar, and that his desperation was a mockery. She tired of his games.

"You already have twice as much funding as you really need, Governer Strap," said Kay Four, coldly and with an edge of anger in her voice. "You make promises every meeting, but where are the results? I go to Seed Labs, my former home, and I do not see one worker! Where is my money going, Governer?"

"To feed my people!" insists Strap. "/Our/ people! You wouldn't have them starving in the streets, would you?"

Kay gave him a cold glare. "Strap, if I find that you have been playing games with me, I will be very displeased."

She allowed a few moments of silence to pass, letting her words sink in.

"You fail to recall that every credit I send to you is a credit not spent upon feeding an orphan or arming a soldier. Our country is vast, but it is poor. We cannot simply throw money at every problem the same way the Old Governments did. If you cannot complete the project with the resources alotted to you, then I'm afraid I must abandon the restoration of Seed Labs."

Strap opened his mouth to object, but a blast in the air created by the Queen cut him off. The blast was not a violent or dangerous one. Simply a loud one, loud enough to gain the attention of the entire room, aimed in the air for maximum volume and no actual damage. That was how she kept order here. That was the way of things. "I believe it's time for a recess. When we reconvene, I expect General Barrel to report on the status of our fleets."

And just as she said it, so it was. The Governers and Generals lumbered out of their seats and shuffled out of the chamber. They began to chatter amongst themselves. Kay watched them for a few moments as they left, before rising from her own seat and leaving through a private exit behind her.

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Message: 24/19 Posted Author
Flashbacks (2/2) Tue Jul 17 K4-800M


In the empty hall, Kay finally found a face that she actually wanted to see. That of her brother: P4Y-104D.

"Payload!" said Kay, hooking her arm around her brother's. "Come to see your sister?"

"You've seemed out of sorts recently." Payload's voice held a touch of concern. "Is something bothering you?"

"Oh, you know…" Kay giggled, in a rare moment of ease, "Political bullshit. Have I ever mentioned that I hate this job?"

Pay's face was stoic. But then again, it always was. "Often. And yet, you keep doing it."

Kay made a big show of rolling her eyes in a sarcastic manner. "On days like these I really wonder how I ended up here."

"Slaying Mutik may have had something to do with that." Was this Pay's rare attempt at humor? Kay felt obligated to chuckle, at least. "They call you a savior. You certainly saved me… And Warhead as well."

Kay's laughter slowly faded. After a moment, she said. "…Those were hard days for me. When Janus's virus took you both away from me, I was worried I'd never get you back…"

Pay placed his hands on her shoulders and looked her in the eye, saying, "Those days are gone, sister. Janus Trigger can't hurt us anymore."

With a bitter tone, Kay replied, "Yeah… I saw to that myself, didn't I?"

Taken aback by his sister's sullen mood, Payload hesitated. At a loss, he patted her shoulder, "I didn't mean to upset. Sister, I want you to know that I have every faith in you."

Kay responded quietly, placing her head on his shoulder. "Thanks, Payload."

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Message: 24/20 Posted Author
Flashbacks: Dreams (1/2) Wed Jul 18 K4-800M


Three young humans stood before a writhing mass of vines and roots. Leaves as thick as walls and as hard as iron blocked their path. All around them were the smoldering, scorched remains of dead animals, if they could still be called that. These animals had been twisted and reshaped, and looked as if they had plant parts sticking out of them. These animals weren't natural. They were mutants.

Katy took a flamethrower in hand, and scorched down a wounded mutant. She and her two brothers had just finished off that wave, and driven their hated enemy, Mutik, back into his shell. As the young girl finished off the last straggler from this engagement, she turned to look at her brothers. "You're both wounded… I guess that last wave was a bit too much for you."

Patrick was face down in the mud, but Katy could see that he was still breathing. He tried to speak. "I can still… we can still…" He tried to lift himself up, but his arms were too weak. He was bleeding, and his strength was gone.

Wallace wasn't doing much better. He leaned against a giant, burnt-out root. "Sis… Just help me get my gun… I'll kill every last mutant myself!"

Katy knowingly shook her head. No. They had enough. It was time. "It's okay. I'll handle things myself from here."

Pat tried to shout, but it came out a whimper, "No… sister… no… Not like this."

=============================== IC - Cutscenes ===============================
Message: 24/21 Posted Author
Flashbacks: Dreams (2/2) Wed Jul 18 K4-800M


Katy shot back, "What other way would you have it?" Katy pointed towards the sky, where giant airships fought massive mutants in the air. The battle was still raging as it had for hours, but the number of the airships was diminishing. "Our people… /MY/ people are sacrificing their lives so that the rest of us can have a better future! What the hell kind of leader would I be if I wasn't willing to make that same sacrifice?"

"Sis… you can't…" this time it was Wallace who objected. "Let me do it… don't throw your life away…"

"You can't even stand on your own two feet. Give me a break, Wallace!" shouted Katy. "This is /my/ fight. I am in command, and I am the only one in any shape to complete the mission. And I have the EXPLODE system…" Katy took said system out of her jacket pocket, and studied it in her hands, holding it at eye level. "Our future is right there, waiting for us. But one of us has to buy it. One of us has to pay the price. Mutik won't be able to survive the kind of explosion this system creates. I only need one shot."

Patrick pleaded, "But sister…"

Wallace begged, "…you'll die too."

"It's my price to pay. Placia willing, there will still be a future left saving. But I'll do what's necessary, just like I've always done." Katy's face had grown stone cold, but it softened for a moment. "…I've always loved you two, my brothers. And mom and dad, too. Tell them I love them."

Her brothers pleaded, but she ignored them. Taking her EXPLODE system, she went to face Mutik, the mutated plant-god who wanted to devour the world…


Kay awoke within her capsule. Unlike everything else she owned, this little pod she used as a bed was the only thing humble and normal that remained in her life. It was a reminder of who she was, and where she came from.

She held her head, mind reeling. What… was that? Who was that girl?

-It's funny how quickly you forget.-

Forget? Forget what?

-The wheel turns, time moves forward, and at the end is the begining. But each new cycle is different. Do you understand?-

"No…" muttered Kayfor. "No, I don't."

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Message: 24/22 Posted Author
Waiting Wed Jul 18 Noh


One small spark burned before her eyes, the green gone to gold, the simple little girl retreating away into the recesses of the dark. Noh was somewhere that no one could reach her anymore, somewhere beyond those yellow eyes, somewhere patient.

Waiting.

One small spark burned, on a table full of candles, their wicks smouldered to nothing. One small spark, on one last candle, and it was this flame she watched, yet did not watch. One small spark, one small heartbeat, one small hope, that lived yet did not live, and one small promise which was yet to be kept.

One small spark, that slowly, inevitably, came to the end of a candle, and then winked out.

If it takes forever, I will wait for you.
For a thousand summers, I will wait for you.
Till you're back beside me, till I'm holding you,
Till I hear you sigh, here in my arms.

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Message: 24/23 Posted Author
One Cup Thu Jul 19 The Hunter of Ages


The Hunter of Ages sat at the small fold-out card table, studying the cup of coffee sitting on the requisition paperwork he'd spent most of the night filling out, expression bemused. It sat there, steaming a little, the cup comfortably small and mostly white porcelain, decorated with tiny pink flowers along the rim.

He'd been many things in his short life. Priest. Inquisitor. Murderer. He'd prayed to dozens of gods under dozens of circumstances, from mighty goddesses to the things that breathed terror in the dark, and if there had been one constant in his life it was this:

None ever answered those prayers. Not a one.

Until today.

He picked up the coffee cup, bemused, turning it around a little in his hands, careful to not spill a drop. He'd made it an on again off again habit to pray to the Union's smallest, newest goddess just to see what would happen, the rage of the Neverborn the only consistent response he'd ever gained, until the little goddess herself showed up and simply handed him a cup of coffee.

Maybe, he supposed, it was just a matter of praying to the right god for the right thing at the right time.

It took him quite a while to actually finish the cup of coffee, but it was a thing to be savored, not rushed.

=============================== IC - Cutscenes ===============================
Message: 24/24 Posted Author
Flashbacks: A Meeting (1/3) Thu Jul 19 K4-800M


Corperal Pin sat at the pilot's seat, flying the small VTOL over a vast forest. Queen Kay sat next to him, in the co-pilot's seat, catching a rare and much-needed rest. Her eyes were closed tight. Even asleep, she was the pinnacle of grace. Her arms crossed in front of her chest. Her mouth was sealed tightly shut in a very neutral almost-frown.

Finding a large clearing within the forest, Pin brought the small airship down, mechanical feet extending to greet the grassy floor. Turning to his Queen, Pin said, "Your majesty, we've arrived."

Awaking gently, Kay opened her eyes, looking outside the cockpit window. It was then that her eyes fell upon a long-haired, blonde man, looking at her through the window.


"My name is Ian Sight. I am the leader of this small community," said the man, as he and Kay walked through his small forest village. "It is small, but it is prosperous."

"I am surprised that you can survive out here, without any support whatsoever," says Kay. "But then agian… Your people seem so… motivated. So alive."

Ian nodded in response to the android queen's statement. "Do we not live in a world made of Dreams? It is important that people have dreams, and remember what they are capable of. All I do is remind them of what they already know."

Dreams. Kay paused to consider the man's words. It was a romantic notion. One that most would dismiss as nonsense. Though… all things considered, Kaboom knew better. "Dreams…" she said thoughtfully. Her mind drifted to her own citizens. In all her vast kingdom, dreams were hard to come by, and those willing to chase their dreams were fewer still. Was the problem her kingdom faced… something so simple as a lack of dreams?

She thought herself and idiot for not seeing it earlier. Perhaps if she bothered to care more…

=============================== IC - Cutscenes ===============================
Message: 24/25 Posted Author
Flashbacks: A Meeting (2/3) Thu Jul 19 K4-800M


Ian and Kay stood together in the middle of the village square. She looked him in the eyes. He had something she wanted, and she was going to get it. "Ian Sight. The USN is claiming this village."

"What…?" Ian sounded shocked. Betrayed. "But I thought we were friends. I didn't know you were like that, your Majesty," his voice raised slightly in anger. "I have never heard of the USN doing such a thing!"

"I'm sorry. But it can't be helped. You have something that we need. Do you intend to keep it all for yourself? Our armies are vast, and you are just a tiny village. You have no chance." Kay hated herself a little bit for doing this, but she told herself that it was necessary.

Ian Sight paused to consider. He looked around at his village. Took it all in. It was a small community, a happy one. He couldn't bear to see it all taken from him by tyranny. Turning back to the Queen, he says, "Kay, I'm sorry. But I cannot submit. You say we have value, but what you're trying to do would destroy that value. What good then, would claiming us truly be? I am disappointed."

Kay paused. Here was a man who was not easily intimidated. His words stung her a bit. Wasn't she trying to be a hero? What was she doing, trying to bully this man, then? "In all my time of being Queen, no one on this planet has ever stood up to my decisions as you have."

Ian's face showed no expression. If there was fear or anger, he did not show it. Surely he must have known that he could easily be destroyed. But that wasn't his answer, "Your Majesty, I feel that you are attempting to bluff me, and I don't know why."

The Queen smiled. "Perhaps I am. You are right. It was wrong of me to attempt to force you. Perhaps I could tempt you with power? A lot of it will be in your grasp if you simply join me."

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Message: 24/26 Posted Author
Flashbacks: A Meeting (3/3) Thu Jul 19 K4-800M


He shook his head, saying, "I care not for power. I wish only to make life better, for everyone within my reach. I'm sure you can understand that, Your Majesty." He turned away from her, and began to walk away. Just her luck. He wasn't easily corrupted, either.

She let him walk away. She had a vast array of political tricks, but none of them would be effective against a man like this. She felt that using such tactics were only driving the man away.

Suddenly a voice resounded in her head. It was soft, but it was urgent.

-DO THIS-

What? Kay didn't understand…

-DON'T LET HIM WALK AWAY-

Kay recognized the voice of her own goddess. Placia considered this person to be very important. But could Kay really turn this around? Her underhanded techniques had failed. Such things were not going to work on this man, who was too good for such things.

"Ian Sight," she said. He turned around one last time to listen to her. "You say you wish to make life better for everyone in your reach?" She spread her arms wide, gesturing to the village around her. "You've done that, here. You've proven that you are capable. But there is more to the world than your small village."

She let her arms drop, but her lips curled into a smile. And then she lifted one hand between herself and Ian, closing it into a grip. "If you would come with me, I will extend your reach, from one horizon to the next. You want to heal? I would have you heal an entire /world/. You want to make this village a better place? I would have you make the entire /world/ a better place. Come with me, Ian Sight. You will remain in charge of this village, if that is your wish, but I will add to your realm."

"All you have to do, Ian, is do exactly what you said: Make life better for everyone in your reach. If you do this, I will be a very happy Queen."

"And if I say no?" asked Sight, showing his defiance further.

Kay paused. Her smile faded. She let her hand drop. She considered. She paused. But then she looked down and, shaking her head, simply began to walk. She moved towards Ian Sight, passing right by him without looking, saying, "You won't say no. You want to do this. It's your Dream."

Turning to Ian, she says, "I know, Ian. I am a Dreamer as well."

Ian's surprise was well hidden, but she could see the subtle change in his body language. Looking away, she said, "I'll be waiting for your response, Ian," and then she began to walk away.

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Message: 24/27 Posted Author
Gone Trainin' Thu Jul 19 Reimu Hakurei


Anyone venturing to the Hakurei Shrine will find it more deserted than usual. A sign has been posted by the main shrine building that reads, 'Gone training again. If there are youkai problems, bug Cirno or Satori. If someone trashes the shrine while I'm gone, I won't show any mercy. -The Wonderful Shrine Maiden of Paradise, Hakurei Reimu'

Scrawled under it in smaller writing is, 'And please donate to help shrine upkeep while I'm gone!'

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Message: 24/28 Posted Author
The 7th Element Fri Jul 20 Rainbow Dash


Queen Celestia allowed herself a small, satisfied smile as she watched events unfold through her enchanted telescope. Although the little burst of energy released by the final Element of Harmony's restoration was too small to have any physical effect on the chaos around the girls, it had cleared some of the image's static. At least temporarily.

It was just enough that she could see the bright colors of her cherished Harmony Knights again, and their friends. And to deliver a message.

Six elements required to defeat Discord have been restored. And now, the seventh has been obtained. But in order to maintain it, its full extent must remain a secret.

Celestia did trust the Union. But she also knew what Discord was capable of. How he twisted minds and warped words to find out what he wanted. No, as much as it pained her, the Union at large could not know about details of the 7th element and what it was taking to maintain it. Far too much was at risk.

And yet, Miss Kagurazaka and others who had helped restore the Harmony Knights had proven they were capable of keeping it a secret. Celestia took some comfort in knowing that she could trust them with its safety.

With a small portion of the weight off of her shoulders, Celestia's hoofsteps were lighter as she walked back into the living chambers. It was quiet - Luna was no-where to be seen. She would be down in the palace proper, seeing to her duties of the night - Even if the sun was out after midnight.

With no one around, Celestia didn't bother to suppress her yawn.

After nearly three weeks, she was growing truly tired. The captain of the guard now helped with the protection of the palace against the more physical forms of chaos, but there was so much that it was significantly draining on the both of them. And while the captain's guardian powers were potent, they did little against pure chaos energy.

But there was hope. Hope that this crises would soon end.

And yet…

A frown formed across Celestia's muzzle.

Discord was up to something. Sure, he had been present in Equestria more often than not, but there were lengths of time where she could not detect his presence. It didn't effect the now ambient chaos spread across Equestria, but the lack of his presence was clear by how it was more… normal… chaos.

A thought caused a shudder run down Celestia's spine.

Was he, too, preparing something? It was an uncomfortable thought to go to sleep to.

It just proved that there was precious little time to prepare.

Soon, they must unleash the 7th element, the most important to take on Discord.

The Element of Surprise.

=============================== IC - Cutscenes ===============================
Message: 24/29 Posted Author
Flashbacks: Finality(1/3) Fri Jul 20 K4-800M


Kay was in her private room, sitting up in her pod. Her first hint that this was even a dream was the fact that Placia had appeared before her. The humble goddess in all of her splendor smiled upon the small machine, an overwhelming power pouring forth from her being. It shook Kay's very soul, as it always did when Kay met the Goddess like this.

-Do you intend to do as I asked?-

"What are you talking about. You weren't very clear." Kay's response was a bit of a pout. Normally the robot woman would hide her emotions, but not from a goddess. What was the point of hiding something from the one who crafted your soul by her own hands?

-It was clear enough.-

The voice sounded almost confused. As if the goddess didn't understand why Kay didn't understand. The robot queen was at times convinced that Placia was just a little bit loopy. This was one of those times.

Instead of trying to pry it from the possibly-crazy goddess, Kay simply told Placia what the queen's intentions were: "I intend for him to replace me."

This seemed to please the insanely powerful woman before her.

-Then that is all I ask. In return, I will offer you the power of Dreams.-

"Wait… Aren't I already a Dreamer?" Kayfor was honestly confused by that answer. She did not comprehend half of what Placia said. In her robotic mind, she wondered if she wasn't like a black and white TV trying to understand a signal from an HDMI cable. Placia was simply so far beyond her…

-Not like this. From me, you will gain Lucidity. Do not turn it down. You will need it in the times to come.-

Kay was left alone in her room, suddenly awake. "Lucidity…?" was all that Kay asked. What did it even mean, to be Lucid?

=============================== IC - Cutscenes ===============================
Message: 24/30 Posted Author
Flashbacks: Finality(2/3) Fri Jul 20 K4-800M


Governer Strap stormed into Queen Kay's office. The door /swung/ open as he walked in and /slammed/ his fist upon her desk before /demanding/ to know, "What is the /meaning/ of this?"

Kay raised an eyebrow at her Governer, continuing to shuffle, sort, and fill out paperwork as if his little show meant nothing. After waiting a moment for the dramatic tension to be ruined, Kay asked, "I could ask you the same thing, Governer. I've been hearing some rather nasty things about you." About that time, the Queen wirelessly activated a nearby screen, which went on to display several news stories that covered a wide variety of scandals that Strap was involved in.

The Governer stood up tall, face hardened with /conviction/. "Your Majesty! These are all /lies/! Lies propagated by my political enemies. Enemies like that /damn/ Ian Sight! Where the /hell/ did you find that guy anyways?"

Kay shuffled a bit of paperwork and set it aside. Then she stood up, placed her hands on the table, and looked Strap straight in the eyes. "Sight is a hundred times the man you'll ever be. As for these things on the news? They aren't lies. I have researched them quite thoroughly. And one last thing…" Kay leaned further in, getting right in Strap's face. "/I'm/ the one doing this."

Strap sputtered and looked at his Queen with horror. "But… but why? Surely you don't believe…"

"You want to know /why/?" shouted the Queen. "Because I saw that stupid little stunt you were trying to pull." Kay changed the video again, to a story that implicated Ian Sight, Kay's protege, of a rather grisly murder.

"What you didn't realize is that Ian was spending time with /me/ during those events. After that mistake, it wasn't hard to trace the story back to you. I control everything here, you know."

Kay's expression went from furious to neutral. "That said, it isn't enough to dispell these rumors. I had to distract people. Make them forget. That requires quite a spectacle, however. Fortunately, there was enough dirt on you to make the newshounds drool."

Leaning back, Kay regarded Strap with a look of contempt. "You're fired, by the way. The police are waiting for you outside. If you decide that you want to cause trouble, well…" Kay held up her hand, forming a ball of solid fire. "Don't forget what I am."

=============================== IC - Cutscenes ===============================
Message: 24/31 Posted Author
Flashbacks: Finality(3/3) Fri Jul 20 K4-800M


In the vast hangers of Sky Fortress, the USN Micheal awaited its one captain. The succession was over. The Queen had passed down her crown. And with it, she passed down her burden. She left behind her vast wealth, as she no longer needed it. She left behind everything that had been holding her back.

Kay was walking towards the ramp of the USN Micheal, but she paused. She felt a familiar presence. "You're here, Ian. Or should I call you King Sight?"

Ian walked up behind her, stopping a few feet away, asking, "Are you sure you want to leave?"

"I would just get in your way," said Kay, without hesitation.

Ian countered, "You could stay, you know. Be my political advisor. There's no reason you have to leave."

Kay turned around to regard the new King with a smile. She stepped up to him, closing the distance, saying, "Are you asking me to stay?"

The human king paused for a moment, closing his eyes, "Only if you wish to, Kayfor."

Kay tilted her head, smiled. Ian stood there, looking powerful, in command. Kay leaned in and kissed him. Not a big sloppy romantic kiss, just a small peck on the lips. Then she turned around and walked towards her ship. She raised her voice so that the King could hear her when she said, "Take care of them, Sight."

"That, I can promsie you, Kay," he shouted back. Kay walked up the ramp, and it shut behind her. She was gone.

Kay paused a moment after the ramp closed. She waited within her ship, trying to process today's events.

Suddenly, Placia was before her.

-You did it. I'm proud.-

"I'm glad to be rid of the responsibility. It was never my Dream to rule them and you know it." Kay casually walked past the goddess. The diety's eyes tracked the machine, staring at her back.

-I still remember what I promised.-

"About Lucidity?"

-It's already begun. You don't notice it now, but you will.-

"What do you mean by-" Kay turned around, begining to speak. But when she looked behind her, Placia was gone.

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Message: 24/32 Posted Author
Old Wisdom Fri Jul 20 Skidplate


"My master's master's first rule was, 'Possess the right Thinking'. I was told anger made it harder for you to think. Harder for you to feel anything but it, and when you were angry at yourself, you jus' blind yourself to everything else. Kid, you got a /lot/ of anger, at yourself, at the world, but you don't even talk to /me/ about why. Instead you bury yourself. You're content to set your ass down and play maintenece worker the rest of your life, but there's more to you than that, kid. I didn't save you so you could just, die."

Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. ThumpThumpThumpThump.

The object of Skidplate's aggression tonight was a beat up punching bag in her garage. Lightening overtook the sky, casting its electric blue light over the stormtossed scape. Her three holographic cows were turned off. Her house was powered down, her lab was off. All the light she wanted was a battery latnern, throwing the shadows of her standing equipment, of her punching bag, and of herself against the wall. She didn't want Rebeckah, or the Echo to see her. Not like this.

This was a special self-loathing. One that she reserved solely for her worst moods. And there was therapy for these 'I don't want anyone to see me' times.

She'd hit that bag until it hurt to lift her arms. Until it hurt to move her legs, and finally she had just, in frustration, thrown herself at it, grasping to the sides of it. She didn't have the energy left to be upset. She'd mellowed to a sort of pissed-off apathy before she went for round two of self-imposed therapy. Breathing heavily, she collapsed backwards into the seat of the ancient chevy she toyed with fixing, someday, breathing hard. Her feet stuck over the side. Her eyes looked up at the darkened ceiling.

"Well, Zaddie, you can blame no one for this one but yourself." she points out to herself, in a pained gasp, glaring up at the ceiling. Her arm ached. The shoulder where her false arm ended felt like it was being ripped from her body, and she just closed her eyes. Just to rest them.

But she imagined the feel of his hands on her shoulders. The leathery, rough skin of his palms against her arms, embracing her from behind. Breath against her left ear, the broadness of his chest against her back. The way his hair would brush against her cheek. Half-heard words from the past, rattling about in her mind, carried on breath and the scent of sandalwood and oranges.

Billions and billions of miles away from home, Zadkiel Splitter turned exhaustedly to her side, cradling her head in her left arm.

"Sometimes, Caleb…" she mutters to the shade in her dreams, "I forget how much it hurts without you."

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Message: 24/33 Posted Author
The Fed's Best Recruiter Sat Jul 21 Polite Words


The woman with figurative blood on her hands laid on a hotel bed, watching news on television, trying to relax.

It had been a good day. The maid had only tried to kick her out for not being a registered guest once, and they were talking about her favorite subject on television - her.

Or rather, not talking about her. Not one news report in any way mentioned her. She wished she could be surprised by that, but even after a few short weeks she'd rather come to expect it, depressing as that was.

Still, beyond just the satisfaction of getting vengence on that asshole Bassinger, she'd evidently managed to trigger some kind of conflict between the Wyld Hunt and this 'Union' which could be quite a lot of fun.

The woman sighed and eyed the stolen police uniform, folded on the dresser. Probably time to ditch that, unfortunately; it was quite useful, but whether it had made it into the reports or not, someone with the Union might have remembered the Lieutenant.

They had kept her from making it slow and painful for Bassinger, from really rubbing it in, and she found that rather annoyed her. The reports had made it clear that there was some sort of war on between the Union and this other group.

She stood up and stretched out, crimson ribbons extending from her hand as she did so, trying to practice all these new awesome superpowers every chance she had. Perhaps she would try visiting these Confederates. They could probably use some guidance in their war…

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Message: 24/34 Posted Author
New Beginnings Sun Jul 22 Elio


This world was dark, and he wasn't entirely sure where it was. It was a strange beach, with long, twisting pieces of black driftwood making strange arches along the shore. Off in the distance, there was a faint glowing shape, overing just over the horizon. A moon? A weak sun? It's hard to tell, but it appears to be the only source of light. The beach is desolate, save for a few glowing eyes, skittering noises here and there to indicate the braver of little Inviscus trying to creep closer.

"Well, this is certainly a predicament," he says, and flicks a wrist to summon his weapons… except nothing happens. He tries again, and still, nothing. Shaking his head, he frowns. "…A doozy of one, too," he mutters, and looks back to the ever closer creeping eyes.

He tries one more thing. Reaching down into the well of magic he knew was inside, he pulls at first a puff, and then a proper fireball, and throws it at one pair of eyes that got just a bit too close. The rest decide that it's best to just keep their distance. He snorts a little, and flops onto a conveniently large piece of driftwood, leaning back onto it as if it were a chaise lounge. "That's great and all. Now how do I get home from here?"

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Message: 24/35 Posted Author
My Light Sun Jul 22 Noh


The wait was painful- but the reward? Priceless. To see his eyes, hear his voice…

Hours later, in the middle of the blackest night, he was finally asleep, and she lay next to him, keeping watch, in his wagon, in the caravan. Not just a circus, but a family, their family. And among a flurry of words, the ones she had always been afraid to say, but now could, had come up. She smiled, looking over him as he breathed in his sleep, sinking into her own blanket next to him, eyes falling to heavy, but happy half slits.

In the morning, there would be celebration at his return. And of more. Of a great four words, and then a larger smaller single word said after.

Not that they ever needed to be said; everyone, even Shaia, his mother, now her mother, had expected it of them long, long ago.

But now they could be.

As her eyes fell closed, and she slipped into a contented, blessedly dreamless sleep, the wagon was soon filled with the sound of a renewing rain outside, and a steady, blissful purr inside.

You know it's true,
Everything I do,
I do it for you.

('Everything I Do' - Bryan Adams)

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Message: 24/36 Posted Author
Post-combat notes Mon Jul 23 Aelin Taurus


LESSONS LEARNED/FUTURE IDEAS-
-Pocketspace storage unit. Different compartments? Separate power source? Duffel was a pain in the ass.
-Optical camo unit for gun drone. Feasibility?
-Grenade delivery drone. Look into Union stun grenade design.
-Ask about fancy magic materials. Find out if they're workable when you aren't walking sunlight.
-Fuck fire. Seriously, fuck it.

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Message: 24/37 Posted Author
Application Tue Jul 24 Shizune Nakamura


She had long since made calls to all her friends, the student council, her fellow students at the dojo, even her sensei. Everyone she could think of who'd be worried, or could pass along word to those who would. Her parents were already en route home, and unhurt. So, Shizune lay on her left side on a cot purchased just for her by Sayuri, her injuries tended to, with only one more issue to deal with.

A Union Elite Corps application was pulled up on her smartphone, sent to her by a recruiter some weeks ago.

It was already mostly filled out. In the grand tradition of test-takers everywhere, she had skipped a few questions which left her somewhat hesitant, and filled in the rest. Now they were the only three left for her to respond to, and she quietly bit her lip, uncertain.

* Do you have any powers, techniques or transformations which cannot be utilized regularly due to physical, mental, emotional or spiritual damage, or risk thereof?
* Do you have any powers, techniques or transformations which can only be utilized a limited number of times?
* Do you have any powers, techniques or transformations which you wish to only be known to high-ranking officers, as a result of social stigma or other personal reasons?

The short-haired girl frowned. The responsible thing would be to answer them truthfully. If she didn't want them getting out, she was sure the information wouldn't be passed around. But at the same time, she wasn't sure she even wanted it on the table. It was a significant risk, she still didn't know just what she was like when she used it, and perhaps a bit selfishly, she didn't want the decision as to whether she should use it or not in someone else's hands, even if it was someone she trusted.

She glanced over her shoulder, in the general direction of Sayuri, then back at her phone, and frowned faintly. The questions continued to stare up at her from the smartphone.

No.
No.
No.

If it came out in the interview, it came out in the interview.

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Message: 24/38 Posted Author
Hopeless? Wed Jul 25 Amalthea


For all of her bluster. For all of her claim. That she would come for the Emperor, that she would face him. There was doubt. A clinging, gnawing whisper at the back of her mind. The timing was just so horrible. One moment she had been spending time with her family, teasing at Ariel's ear as her Maiden watched, finally for the first time in centuries able to feel happy again.

Yet the call to war was sudden and jarring. But blood and honor dictated the necessity for the hurried rush to don her armor and grab her blade once again in yet another battle. But this was like nothing she had ever previously taken a part in. The scale was… Terrifying. Cirrus-Marine was on fire. And no one knew until one rogue submarine managed to escape and call for help. And by the time the Union arrived the city was already a disaster zone.

What made it worse… Was probably the inability to do a damn thing. The inability to make any difference at all. To crash and burn on landing. To have to watch as even Nathan Hall— oh she loved the boy like family, and a part of her swelled with pride to see her sister's boyfriend be completely irresponsible again- fared better than she. The thumbs-up was really all it took. All she needed to know at least he would be okay as he faced off against that woman. Elliana. Yet another person that had made her, and the Union at large, feel the sting of betrayal.

Finally busting out of the wrecked landing pod capped it all though. Landing just in time to see the Emperor simply COMMAND Optimus Prime… To Fall. And for the Autobot to instantly become so mangled he had no choice but to comply. To finally see for herself the true power of the Emperor- what that man, Smiting Star, had become since he abused the gift she had offered to him and left an indelible mark on her very heart.

Amalthea no longer knew what it was that drove her, in that instant. Though she had managed to draw her blade, the tip wavered. She took a step back. That was failure in and of itself as a knight. Until she too was commanded to Fall… To suddenly be hit with all three centuries of her existence- and the face of a single person- flashing before her eyes before she simply awoke in medical.

… There is no hope to stand against that.

And now confined to a bed in medical. There was nothing… Physically wrong. Other than being soundly defeated by a single whisper. Her body refused to move. Part of her didn't want to anyway, after her Maiden had slipped out to tend to other wounded. Quietly she layed back and tried to let sleep take her. It would not come easily.

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Message: 24/39 Posted Author
Restless Dream. Wed Jul 25 Amalthea


Sleep didn't come easily, no. And when it did it wasn't exactly pleasant. Visions. Memories. Flooding back in a haze, blurred as if seen through glass, rippling and shifting like the waters of a shallow pool. The mechanicl unicorn found herself re-living the past. Painful moments. Her birth. The early years, neglect and sorrow. The later years. A starving courier running through the streets of New Pyongyang on tattered sneakers. Putting on an ill-fitted suit of armor for the first time. A fated duel among siblings. Twice.

Much of it unpleasant. Old wounds, some never fully healed. And as each passing vision grew more and more recent in the pool, the exhausted metal mythic laid out on all fours in the grass, staring into the water, realized more and more, how much she genuinely hated her life.

Up to a point.

So absorbed was she in re-living the past- betrayal, that man twisting what she had thought would be a wish for salvation, into one of ruin- that she did not notice the silent pad of hooves through the gossamer grass of a foggy mind.

"Do you not regret any of it?"

"No." She answered back, head lifting from the mud only after the gentle brush of a nose against metal plating. Jewel eyes squinted. The unicorn's radiant glow was dazzling, and at the same time it repulsed her. Something she always thought, for a long time, that she could never hold a candle up against as she looked into those endless blue eyes.

"There is much that pains you. And much of it no one could rightfully tell you to simply let go. Would you live it all again?"

"I guess. If I get to keep the good parts."

"Selfish. And what will you do in the days to come? It will only grow worse, and nothing from days long gone will be able to compare."

"I don't know."

"Will you just give up, then?"

"I want to."

"But you can not."

"But I can't."

"Do you truly think you can win?"

"No."

"Then you are already defeated, and are no knight, but little more than scrapped metal, walking on borrowed time."

She lowered her head, nose flaring in a hot snort of steam, ears laying back with a glower into the water. Watching, again, the sight of her own fall.

"Bitch."

"You know I am right."

"I know listening to you pisses me off. Go away."

"I will not."

The more the unicorn spoke, the more the mechanical beast grew agitated, cranky with the mythical creature's attitude. So serene and calm.

"The coming battles will be a test of who you are, and everything you claim to stand for. I sincerely hope you do not disappoint. I will visit you again."

As soundless as she came, the unicorn had gone, fast enough that then the beast of steel looked up, she was already nowhere in sight, and Amalthea was alone to reflect once more in a dream that would only leave her more weary to awaken from.

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Message: 24/40 Posted Author
Morphine and Memories Wed Jul 25 No. 9


Medical. No surprise there. He woke up… after the fact. In medical. Good ol' medical. How he hated it. Tried not to. Hated it. Hated the smells of it. Soldering irons brushing raw, living bone. The harsh stink of antiseptic. The smell of cut intestines and old blood.

Hated the sounds. The cries of the wounded, the mad screaming, uninhibited and wild and the shouts of harried medical personnel. Hated the straps they took to using now, since he tended to take liberties with the staff, either with his hands or with his teeth. He loved it here. He hated it here. It was part of him, or at least, was supposed to be. How often had he been in medical recently? Not often enough. Not enough.

What was he doing? What had he been doing? He had the knowledge, the skills. Hell, he was practically built for that mission. Terrorizing a city, taking it over, beating back the defenders, securing the place? Bombs and murder. That was HIM. That was what he WAS, who he WAS, what he specialized in. He loved it. Loved the smells of it and the screams of it. Loved it. Loved, it… loved his job, his friends, his faction. His life, newly freed. Guns, bombs, blades, murder. Torture. Screams, cries and sobbing. He'd put his hand over his face, were it free, but all was bright lights and empty eyed medtechs, his chest wide open, the distant buzzing of pain, buried under Golem toughness, nerve damage and the sort of drugs only Confederates are given. The nearby slorsh of what looked suspiciously like a wet-vac slogging around in his internals, sucking up blood.

He'd hesitated.

More. He'd thrown it. The fight. The job. Oh sure the others had pulled his ass out of there, had covered for his loss, had won the day where he'd fallen flat on his face. But he'd lost. Personally. Because he hadn't wanted to win.

He could win, he knew. He could've put down Charr without really trying. Without killing him. With him as he'd been, hurt, as he'd been. All he needed to have done was try. Give it a good, honest, try. Hit him. Hurt him. Put him down. The man had been blinded for fucks sake.

He'd thrown it. He had. There was no other way of putting it. Thrown it. Lost it. He'd /wanted/ to lose. Wanted, to be stopped. Because he couldn't stop himself. And he didn't want to dammit! He was loyal, and he cared about his friends, the folks who'd rescued him. He cared about them, about his people. He'd wanted to, help. Wanted to love the slaughter and the smell of blood. Wanted to reach down into the ruins for a soldier still dying and watch the life leak out of his eyes. Wanted to watch the pain turn to fear and the fear turn to resignation, wanted to feel the flesh grow cool and the breath rattle and stop. He wanted it so badly…

One of the techs looked down in irritation and disgust at the strange noise that had leaked free of the tight, bared teeth. Pain. Dismissed, back to vacuuming.

He wanted it back. He WANTED it BACK. …Didn't he?

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Message: 24/41 Posted Author
Dreaming of Screaming Wed Jul 25 Charr


There are reasons Charr doesn't sleep very much, or for very long.. So it's not really a good thing for him when the Union's medical personnel- knowing full well how to handle his biology- put him under for hours at a time. His sleep is troubled, to say the least.

Not many people can say they know the face of every single individual that works for them. But Charr can. And he knows the faces of every single one of his employees that didn't make it. Their faces blend into a general background of terrified screams, millions of hands reaching out from a tremendous conflagration, screaming for help. Countless voices asking why he hadn't gotten there sooner, why he- for all his supposed ability to plan ahead- could not see this coming, why he hadn't done more. He tried so hard to grab at their hands, but every time his just passed right through theirs, and he failed to pull them out of the fire.

And then the mirror appeared. The reflection glared at him, gnashing its teeth furiously, screaming at him. Damning him for his weakness and lack of foresight, for his inability to kill one monster. Where was that flame of justice that once burned so brightly for the wronged? What right did this so-called Emperor have to decide who lived and who died? Whoever gives out Exaltations, of course. The Solar Exalted are granted that right. And who gives them the right to make that decision? Worthless, cowardly foreign gods and horrors, wrapped up in their own games of power, throwing away the weak and helpless like so much garbage. What gave them that right?! Was the only purpose they gave to mortals to suffer and be burned up like so many candles?! THEY HAVE NO RIGHT!

And what was he supposed to do?! For all his power, for all his flames, he was still a mere mortal compared to the likes of Sunrise, and Breeze, and those other Exalted sorts. AND THAT DIDN'T FUCKING MATTER! He'd stood against things equal to GODS, and yet he still lived to tell the tales! The vast Regis, the Ditto Queen herself, Aku, the Black Queen, Discord, a dozen others. If he was so weak, then why wasn't he DEAD?! To that, he could not answer the demon in the mirror. He could only stutter and fall to his knees, and apologize. WORTHLESS WHORE! They're DEAD, because you're WEAK! Stop screaming, for the love of Mew, just stop screaming. Just let him rest a little longer. Let him recover.. He'll do better next time. NEXT TIME IS TOO LATE FOR THE ONES WHO AREN'T HERE NOW, ISN"T IT?!

It's not real, it's just a nightmare. Just a bad dream. Just bad memories of bad times that refuse to be forgotten. That refuse to be forgotten BECAUSE. YOU'RE. WEAK. Should be out there right now, RIGHT NOW, setting them all to the torch, purging their corruption in Moltres' all-cleansing flames. Yet there he is, crippled and blinded- maybe permanently this time- because he was too stupid to get off his ass and do what SHOULD have been done. He doesn't deserve any of the strength he has. He doesn't deserve any of the names he's earned, he doesn't deserve a Mew damned thing, if he can't use his strength to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

The screaming started pervading into the world of the waking, forcing the medical staff to shake and drug him awake. He almost decked one of the doctors, tore out some of the IV tubes, and had to be suppressed by several large people so they could give him some painkillers. No more sleep, drug him up, give him enough coffee to kill a bull elephant, anything. Anything but more sleep..

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Message: 24/42 Posted Author
The Effects of Failure Wed Jul 25 Bart Geralds


As reports of the battle flood in to Bart's hospital bed, his mood goes from sour to grim. His fight wasn't the only one that was lost. Precious few victories were made during the massive, large scale battle.

If this would set the tone for his career in the Multiverse, he might as well not try. Stick at home, fighting the Invaders and ignoring the Multiverse as much as absolutely possible.

… but it's already been proven to be too much to ignore. There is no way for Nova Terra not to get affected by this Confederate madman. There is in fact no way to be sure that they will not succumb to Viridian Sunrise rather than the Invaders. The Emperor's willingness to communicate doesn't make him any less threatening.

It makes him more so.

Steeling his resolve, Bart balls a weak fist in his hospital bed, a single statement is made with surprising conviction for his current physical state, it's vow, oath, nor promise; but it has elements of all. If anything, it is a statement of true and honest intent.

"It's eat or be eaten, and I refuse to be eaten. Viridan Sunrise, you're going down."

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Message: 24/43 Posted Author
Sunrise Wed Jul 25 The Hunter of Ages


"Sir?"

The Hunter of Ages sat cross-legged on a bluff overlooking the black sea below, watching the skies silently. His lack of response made the ghost hesitate, but only for a few moments before trying again. "Sir?"

Slowly the Abyssal turned, a glance the only acknowledgment the spirit seemed to get. Emboldened by this, the spectre continued. "What does it mean, Lord?"

His gaze returned to the sky. The Underworld was a place of stagnation and lack of change, ordinarily. But even here, every unglittering spark in the sky, every single star, was a smoldering blue. The paling horizon was brighter than it should be, too. "Nothing."

"…Sir?"

"Is … living world problem." The Abyssal stood, slowly, dusting bits of stone and sand from his pants. "New ruler. Probably change nothing here besides stars. Maybe new residents is all." The paling horizon was definitely brighter than it should be, the first peeks of sun revealing blue instead of the dull red that this place had for countless eons. It would be a strangely bright day, as the last had been. That blue light brought more color to the stagnation of the Underworld than little had for a long time.

The ghost turned its eyes skywards, to the pinpricks of blue above. "If … you say so, Lord Hunter."

He didn't know. But it sounded reassuring. This … nonsense, would pass the world of the Dead by as so much else had. He'd almost prefer to stay there, instead of leave and confront what's coming. As dawn broke across the east, the Abyssal turned and began the long walk back to the nearest place he knew would lead to the Multiverse proper.

Creation-side, the sun rose blue, a twin to the one in that unholy place.

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Message: 24/44 Posted Author
UNKILLABLE Wed Jul 25 Iron Lotus


Nurad has seen better times. Since crashing into the biggest blight zone in the Great Maker's body- the twisted, cancerous regions that physically represent his inherent sickness- the entire Nation has been depopolated, either by fleeing citizens or by way of murder.

Even a bountiful income of resources and energy from the multiverse has failed to do very much about this. The apostates- twisted, nihilistic Alchemical Exalted that have reshaped their bodies into terrifying bio-mechanical abominations- now hold council over Nurad's twisted ruins, which, like themselves, have been infected by the creeping combination of flesh and metal.

It's time to do something about this.

Iron Lotus takes a step. She's never visited Nurad once, other than hearing rumors of its champion-glorifying cathedrals; prayer wheels spun and hymns sung to glorify the Exalted themselves rather than just the Maker, meant to empower them. She can see one of those cathedrals now- in fact there's a gigantic bone-spider looking at her from the top of it.

Dead Vocoder Who Yet Drones Blasphemy aspies the intruder- the first loyalist Alchemical to dare bring a mote of colour or hope into Nurad in years. Multiple fleshy eyes pop out of his shoulders, allowing him to draw a bead on the truculent Champion and begin raining shards of bone and dirty metal down, impaling her from a great distance away in multiple vital areas.

He snorts. So much for /that/ Champion.

And then Iron Lotus stands up. She begins plucking the infected steel from her vital components without a blink, her clay flesh rejecting the void-taint and the wounds with equal alacrity. She is whole and true again in moments. And while the apostate looks in disbelief, she runs up the walls of the cathedral and tears the soulgem right out of his forehead.

By the end of the day, she's already established a beachhead. She cannot be killed. She cannot be scratched. She will free Nurad from the Void.

The Emperor wouldn't want such an ugly place as part of his domain, after all. It needs to be fixed.

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Message: 24/45 Posted Author
Searching for Meaning Thu Jul 26 Saya Irino


\\\///

The Other World.

The domain of Black Gold Saw is one of gray ruins jutting out of crimson water, with chunks of rocky ground spread between these great pillars and ancient facades. No wind stirs the air, the red liquid below still as glass without a single ripple.

Upon a stony spire, the devil woman stands, her hand resting loosely on the hilt of the King Saw—Wedged into the ground beside her feet. Crimson eyes stare up at the sun. Narrowed at its size. At how it is blue. Casting a sickly light upon the world around her.

Reaching out with her free hand, Black Gold Saw flexes her talons around the orb, bleeding a black taint into its blue light that spreads until it has turned red. Her hand closes fully, and the sun winks out completely. The land becomes bathed in darkness.

Turning on her perch, she rests crimson eyes on the horizon, where a blue sun begins to rise.

Crimson eyes narrow.

///\\
Saya lifts her head from her arms, then hoists them up in a stretch. As she lowers her hands, she rubs the side of her face. Her eyes wander sideways, and she gropes for a handtowel. Finding it, she uses it to wipe the sweat from her face.

Lowering the towel just enough to peer over it, Saya's eyes narrow, "…But what does it _mean_…"

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Message: 24/46 Posted Author
Siblings to the End (Part 1) Thu Jul 26 Kevin Graham


"…sir."
"Don't argue. Ya've got yer orders." Kevin handed a pair of small envelopes to the taller knight. "Ya wait ten hours. Please keep these messages sealed, an' deliver 'em fer me. One t' th' Anne, an' th' other t' Lavan."
"Kevin, I…" Marty stopped and looked at the two small envelopes handed to him. "You know that Alteria won't allow this. I will need to tell the Secretary General…"
The Dominion shook his head. "Don't worry. That's what yer letter is. I only tell ya 'cuz ya've been my friend fer so long. I know that if I told either o' 'em in person, I'd never get as far as leavin' their sights."
The knight smiled- but it was a bittersweet smile. "…if this is it, then it's been an honor, Lord Graham." Marty began to take the first motion of a low bow… only to find Kevin's firm grip on his shoulder. "I will not part as yer Lord, Marty. I will part as yer friend." He quickly pulled the taller knight into a firm embrace. "Thank you very much."
Marty was fine with returning it as well, then as he stepped back, he gave a quick salute to the parting Dominion.
The sound of the Merkabah was very quiet- the hum of the engines was a pleasant sound. He shrugged the leather bag onto his shoulder and was just about to step to the exit of the ship, when he heard an angry whisper behind him.
"How could you?"
When Kevin turned, he saw Ries standing on the platform behind him. How much had she heard? Enough, he figured… He shook his head. "…I've got my reasons. I need you t' stay an'—"
"And what?!" His younger sister stormed the walkway and struck him in the face. This wasn't the slap. This was a full on hit- it surprised him enough to make him take several steps away. The bag was dropped at his feet and he brought his hand to his face and looked back at Ries.
"How /dare/ you presume to think that I will take losing the /last member of my family/ so easily! How /dare/ you walk out of this ship, thinking you're doing some /high and mighty/ duty to the Goddess and Aidios-knows what else! You are /nothing/ but a coward if you want to tuck me away into a corner /knowing/ that you are very likely walking into your own death without even /saying a damn word to me/!"
It was rare for Ries to raise her voice, but she did this time. This made her angry.

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Message: 24/47 Posted Author
Siblings to the End (Part 2) Thu Jul 26 Kevin Graham


"You killed Rufina," she continued softly- a stark contrast to the angry tone she had before. "And you ran away from it. You ran away from me, to protect me, and all it did was hurt me /more/. My job, /Lord/ Kevin Graham, is to serve you, my Dominion, and protect you at all costs- even if it means losing my life in the line of duty. I will have served the orders of the Church and I will have followed my oath to Aidios.
"You do not do this work without your assistant."
"I will this ti-"
"You do not do this work without your assistant!" She interrupted his words and stepped forward. This time, the young woman drew her Temple Sword and held it towards him. "Or I /will/ apprehend you /now/ and send you back to Anne. You are more powerful than I am, but you will not fight me with your full strength, because of what you did to our sister."
Ries was a very strong woman. She held herself proud- and she believed, firmly, in what her duty meant. It was something that Kevin knew well, and while he never saw it personally, he heard enough to know what Rufina's death did to her.
…that's even why she's here. If Rufina hadn't died…
"Marty!" Kevin called across the hallway of the Merkabah.
"Don't you dare!" Ries knew exactly what her brother was doing. She quickly snapped the segments of the Temple Sword free in an attack at her brother- one that is stopped by a shield formed with a simple gesture.
"Not this time, Ries. I'm sorry."
That's when Marty showed up and grabbed the young woman from behind. With a scream of rage, Ries made the attempt to fight the taller knight off, but his size and strength at least helped him hold onto her. "Take 'er into th' bridge!"
"Got it sir!"
"Kevin Graham! Don't you DARE do this to me! Don't you walk off from me like this! I will never forgive you!" Ries' voice was sharp- it was a rage he had never heard from her, and it took everything to keep his expression even.
Her voice was cut off as the door to the bridge slid shut with a hiss. There was no hesitation for the Dominion to hurry to the door and set his hand against the cold metal. It didn't take long to set the command to keep the door locked for three hours. It was a command that could only be unmade by the ship's captain- the Fifth Dominion himself.
"I'm so sorry, Ries."
With those whispered words, he took off. He knew he had to move and get to the meeting point before it was too late.

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Message: 24/48 Posted Author
Those Left Behind Thu Jul 26 Ellestaria


The night had fallen in the Fortress of No Fucks Given. A humorous name, but it had stuck, and now Ellestaria called it home. Ariel was exhausted and asleep, and now the Atlantean was alone. Really alone, for the first time in some time. Losing her people had been a shocking blow, but Amalthea - and to some degree, the entire Union - had given her something else to be a part of.

The experience had changed her. She knew that. She was no longer a true Atlantean… her people would not think so, in any case.

She didn't care any more.

She had a daughter in the other room. A… wife? And she was content. Or she had been.

The old-fashioned quill swept across the paper fluidly, scrawling in that ancient, unknown language since all its speakers had died. It wasn't a cipher, it was simply comfortable. Ellestaria wrote this for herself, no one else.

'It has been five hours since Amalthea left. I have no idea how long it will take them in there, but I know she will not give up. Not with what she has waiting for her.' The pen pauses, and Lest dips it again with a tired rub of her eyes.

'The refugees continue to pour in. Battles continue to be fought. Thus far, we are holding… barely. Whatever the team inside is doing, they must do it quickly. I do not know what hardships they may be facing, but no doubt the danger is great, and the foes they face terrible and monstrous. I have no doubt that Amalthea will brave through it. She is my shining light… now she will be so for the rest of the Union, in the darkness of the Emperor's soul.'

Something felt off about that last line, and Ellestaria squints at it hard, silently taking it in for a long moment before she shakes her head, blots it, and folds the page up to file away with the rest of her journals. It will be fine… Amalthea was her Knight. She will survive… or save us all trying.

Won't she?

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Message: 24/49 Posted Author
Things Better Forgotten Fri Jul 27 The Hunter of Ages


When he'd first Exalted, Hunter swore to leave off anything like the calling of a Midnight Caste as the only spiteful thing he could truly do against the Neverborn. Even as priests of Oblivion, they were still priests, and he refused to conform. He ignored the calling of his new nature, shunned the abilities that came easiest to him, and focused instead on the things that let him bleed off his endless hate and rage, such as sheer violence. The Neverborn hadn't cared. It too served their purpose.

This left him as content as he could get for years. The rollercoaster ride of violence and fury wasn't difficult to deal with when his singular reaction to everything was to try to cause as much suffering as he could. He hated, he was angry, he took it out on others.

For the first time since he Exalted, the Reflection of the Hunter of Ages Lost wasn't sure it had been the right decision. He'd done his best to counsel Raven, or at least shift her thinking a little away from believing she was a bad person. He'd heard others speaking of their fear, their unwillingness to acknowledge events, their pain and worries. And part of him remembered once he'd soothed such fears. Faith had been a pillar that upheld others, and encouraging them to hold strong and never give in had bolstered him as much as it had other people.

Another life. A life tinged in gold, not in death.

Even lives edged in the taint of the Neverborn told him he should be a priest. A guide. A guide to Oblivion certainly, but it was his sacred duty, to Heaven — no, to the Void, to minister to the people. Even his allies.

Usually the little spark of reminder dies, when he ignores it long enough. This time it doesn't, a constant grating, flickering reminder that he is needed, that he is needed for something other than a savage warrior, and that he should be more than he was. That he should be a proper Midnight, (Zenith, more distant memory whispers, and in those memories the sun doesn't burn) and see to his flock. Even thinking about acknowledging it … hurts. He knows if he acknowledges it the entire situation will hurt, and he will be as aggrieved as they. Compassion was a poison.

So he runs instead, to clear those thoughts as exertion always did. To clear all thought. He won't hear people, at the steady jogging pace he sets across a foreign world, his path wide and circular, never taking him more than a certain specific distance like some invisible leash bound him to the battered camp. He would search for food things as he said he would, and anything else interesting, but it was purely selfish motive. An escape. Exercise was as close to meditation as he ever got, the mindless haze of a good run almost the clarity meditation allowed for.

It didn't suppress the little, nagging spark of auric brilliance that refused to continue to be squashed down. Too much was at stake this time to allow only uncaring darkness.

=============================== IC - Cutscenes ===============================
Message: 24/50 Posted Author
I Will Be Adequate Soon Fri Jul 27 Nathan Hall


"Nathan."
"Yes, Storms?"
"Why'd you do that?"
"What?"
"You know what I mean. Fighting Fairchild like that."
"She was going to burn down the bakery."
"Dude you and I both know that's not why you did that. If I'm going to be living in your head you've gotta level with me on some of these things."
"That was not really ever part of the agreement."
"Okay, fine, whatever. You gonna be okay?"
"I will be adequate soon."
"You sure?"
"…"
"Hey. Hey! Are you ignoring me again?"

songVirus82 [SV] began pestering worriedLibrarian [WL] at 9:13
SV: naTHan
WL: Yes?
SV: Y0U are B3HAVING stRANgely.
SV: ARE YOU OKAY?
WL is now an idle chum!
SV: NATHAN 1 can S33 your CaMERa.
SV: You SH0ULD TalK TO ME-
WL: I am adequate, Virus. I appreciate the concern.
SV: Are youYOUyou SURE?
WL is now an idle chum!
SV: NATHAN
SV: :(

"Servant?"
"Is there something wrong with the tea, Luca?"
"You poured me ten cups of it."
"Oh. Sorry. I hope at least one of them was adequate."
"Is there something wrong with you?"
"Several things, but I am doing my best to keep them irrelevant. Some of them, I have the feeling, would cause you substantial distress otherwise."
"I did feel it when you used that shard in you, you know."
"My apologies. I hope you do not find it disrespectful or agitating that I did."
"I did. I shouted at you when you returned and you just stared at a book until I stopped."
"Oh. Sorry."
"I think you are not okay. It should never be said that the heiress to the Vinocour throne lets her servants suddenly sustain some strange psychotic break."
"I will be adequate."
"Are you sure?"
"Excuse me, I have something I need to be writing. I hope you enjoy the tea, Luca."

From: moc.segaminedrub|llaH.nosilA#moc.segaminedrub|llaH.nosilA
To: vog.noinu|llaHnahtaN#vog.noinu|llaHnahtaN
Subject: CM attacks!!

Shit have you heard about this all? Cirrus-Marine got attacked by the Confederacy and now a whole lot of places are getting invaded and we're hearing a lot about a bunch of Confederacy offenses. What's going on??? You're not answering calls. Are you sure it's still not a good idea to find something private-sector or something? Things are looking bad and I know I give you a lot of crap but that's just sibling stuff and right now I'm worried. Please respond!

From: vog.noinu|llaHnahtaN#vog.noinu|llaHnahtaN
To: moc.segaminedrub|llaH.nosilA#moc.segaminedrub|llaH.nosilA
Subject: Re: CM attacks!!

You know my job will not be putting me at risk. I will be adequate. Do not worry about me.

From: moc.segaminedrub|llaH.nosilA#moc.segaminedrub|llaH.nosilA
To: vog.noinu|llaHnahtaN#vog.noinu|llaHnahtaN
Subject: Re: Re: CM attacks!!

Look maybe being librarian is low risk but you're still working for them! If things go bad that could turn out badly. Please at least think about it.

From: moc.segaminedrub|llaH.nosilA#moc.segaminedrub|llaH.nosilA
To: vog.noinu|llaHnahtaN#vog.noinu|llaHnahtaN
Subject: Re: Re: Re: CM attacks!!

You're not picking up the phone AGAIN and now you won't even email back??? Please at least think about what's going on. I know it might not turn out bad and I know it might not mess with little things like your job but please think about it.

=============================== IC - Cutscenes ===============================
Message: 24/51 Posted Author
I Just Need Some Rest Fri Jul 27 Nathan Hall


Nathan Hall finally finishes. He's worked through hundreds of pages of reported information, massive quantities of data, and condensed them down to a few dozen pages of crisis report and a one-page summary. Few things are quite so depressing, and few things give one quite the sense of scale as this sort of thing.

"I will be adequate."

He's told that to many people by now. It's become almost automatic, really. It seems to sate their concern for the most part, at least. And in a sense it's the truth. He'll be adequate. He pushes his laptop away and shuts it as more messages pop up. He turns off his phone as more calls happen. And he shuts off his radio just to make sure, after a few key conversations. He's got one last thing left to do, one last little battle with Elliana Fairchild.

He's not sure why he fought her in the first place. The bakery was a symbol, yes, but it could be rebuilt. Pegasus would have been okay. Nobody would have blamed him for staying out. Why the hell did he get on that motorcycle and drive into a city being consumed by war to fight someone he had a truce with? The only thing he can think of is that the symbol of the bakery is important, but he can't figure out why it's so important to him, besides a few rationalization reasons.

It's probably because every time he thinks of it he comes back to pondering the battle itself. He doesn't remember much of it, but what he does remember consists mostly of blurred fighting and clear, vivid images of a massive snake biting down on him, followed by waking nightmares tearing at his consciousness. He had only seen the Lord of Nightmares once before, but the second time was infinitely more terrifying. Even if it was just a projection, it hurt his mind to even think of it. He has the feeling this is probably because he's still got the influence to work through.

He regards a single pill in a tiny clear case on his desk. He can almost imagine it regarding him back in a judging fashion, perceiving such through either dysfunction or sleep deprivation. Maybe Haruno's medication will help. He's skeptical. But maybe. Couldn't hurt, right?

"I will be adequate."

He ran into a massive war-torn city to fight the avatar of the lord of nightmares in one-on-one combat using powers and equipment that he's vastly unfamiliar with in violent contexts. And now he's afraid to fall asleep because of inevitable nightmares. Nathan silently berates himself for this absurd incongruity and regards it as fairly irrefutable proof against any actual bravery or heroism on his part.

He changes for sleeping, and in one quick motion, downs the medication and flops onto the bed, curling up and making a variety of stressed noises that ease in volume and intensity as he slowly begins to succumb to sleep, aided by sedatives.

He will be adequate soon. But he wishes it would be now.

=============================== IC - Cutscenes ===============================
Message: 24/52 Posted Author
Just Get Some Sleep Fri Jul 27 Nathan Hall


Nathan Hall has never had a natural nightmare.

This doesn't mean he's never had an unnatural nightmare. Anyone who interacts with Elliana much is going to have some. He wonders if Elliana has some herself. But on his own, Nathan's never had a nightmare. That's part of what makes this such a problem for him. Of course, he's not cognizant of the reason for his own worry once he's unconscious, as dreams tend to cause that sort of disorientation, but he's worried for some reason. Some… intense dread of the future.

"Sir Hall."
"Elliana."
"Is this really your idea of a nightmare?"
"…What?"
"Speaking with me can't really be that bad."
"…"
"Well?"
"Are you invading my dreams? Is your power of nightmares that substantial?"
"Nothing so dramatic, Sir Hall."
"Are you just some projected personification of my memories and impressions of you, then?"
"For someone who knows how to talk to everyone, you really do not know much about talking to yourself."
"Is that a yes?"
"Even some manifested impression of me is not going to stoop to the moral low of lying to you about this."
"So it is at least not a no."
"At least."

"Why are you here? Or, maybe a bit more relevantly, why is my nightmare having you be here?"
"Because I am the only thing you can think of that represents your real problem."
"And what's my real problem?"
"I think we both know why I can't answer that directly. What did I do to you?"
"Ate me with a god-snake."
"Try more broadly, Sir Hall."
"Betrayed me."
"Closer. But still not it."
"There is very little I could call what you did besides betrayal."
"There's one more thing."
"I have no idea what it is."
"It's the reason why you resent what happened so much, but don't hate me. The reason why you're still willing to speak to me, despite your friends having unmitigated bloodlust whenever I give them means or cause to kill me."
"I like to hope that is more a part of who I am than an element of your actions."
"More than you think, and more than you are willing to know outside of some dream-projection of your memories of me, clearly."

"So what did you do, Elliana?"
"Simple. I did the one thing you fear most among your friends, the one thing that hit you deeper than any blade I could ever have stabbed you with, and the one thing that your other friends might just have done a few hours ago. You know, you would be having this nightmare anyway, now that it's happened."
"…"
"See, now you understand. So say it."
"…You were my friend."
"And then?"
"And then you left."

=============================== IC - Cutscenes ===============================
Message: 24/53 Posted Author
Nightmares Can't Be That Bad Fri Jul 27 Nathan Hall


"It's a little pathetic that you cling to friends so thoroughly that you mourn the loss of friendship to the point of nightmares when they stab you or simply go away on a particularly risky mission."
"Stop talking to me."
"That is a tall order, Sir Hall, considering it's technically all you who's the one doing the talking here."
"Leave me alone."
"And again, you're not considering this much, are you? Besides, you're the one who took the pill that would ensure you slept through the nightmare. Neither of us has any place to go."
"Just leave me alone."
"You could try fighting me again."
"No more of that."
"Well, there's nothing for it then, but to discuss why exactly it is you cling to friends so much."
"I do not 'cling'."
"What do you want to call it, then?"
"There is nothing to apply the name to."
"A more euphamistic term might be that you devote to them."
"…"
"A better word?"

"How am I supposed to stop?"
"Quit being so inadequate as to depend so heavily on them in the first place."
"I fought you to a standstill."
"Two counterpoints. Not only is combat ability rather irrelevant by your own admission, you did that by depending on powers from friends that you are a conduit for."
"So your advice is 'stop being so terrible'."
"No, Sir Hall, 'stop being so terrible' is your advice. I thought we cleared this up."
"The idea is worthless without specificity."
"And it is certainly telling that you have no idea how to come up with more specifics. Can you think of even one simple way of really improving yourself in any way?"
"It is not something that is very easy."
"Because you've depended on other people to do that for you too. Nine had to take up your debilitating weakness, and Raven had to coerce you into training. Breeze had to fix your lack of skill. Tshallandria, Faina, and Hastur had to assist with the limits of your magic. You even had to get help from Staren figuring out how to spend your own money for armor. It might even be the reason you cling to your friends. They're the only way you can grow out of your stunted inadequacies. Have you ever done anything to improve yourself on your own?"
"…"
"Can you? At all? This problem might be why you decided that thinking about so many of the friends who helped you leaving to go fight Viridian Sunrise was a more terrible prospect than the idea of dealing with the nightmares I cause."
"Leave me alone, Elliana. Please."
"Put so politely, of course I will oblige, Sir Hall."

A nightmare talking about being alone suddenly becomes a nightmare about being alone.

=============================== IC - Cutscenes ===============================
Message: 24/54 Posted Author
Far Away Promise Fri Jul 27 Amalthea


Ready to die. Was she? Really?

Everyone had said it was going to be a suicide mission. She was under no delusion that it would be as simple as walking into the Emperor's very soul, plucking a few flowers, and then traipsing back out. No one simply walks into Mordor, that shit is retarded and anyone who says it's going to be easy can eat a dick. No, there was no real joy in this, and people who belittled the decision to make the trip, or made it without being properly informed and then whined about it were of little consequence to the black-armored unicorn. Propped up against a tree, she watched the others distantly. Chattering by the fireside and acting like everything was going to be alright. The inherent problem with this lay in the fact that the way in was… Gone. A way back home would certainly be appreciated, but with none in sight that really left only one option. To kill the Emperor and complete their mission.

The bickering had calmed at least. This was good. Truthfully it was unsurprising considering what they had all learned. Really, it was like some grand conspiracy of fate. To march off to one's own potential death and then be told that accomplishing what you had set out to do is a sin the likes of which would be unforgiveable?

Spending time by the fireside with the others was relaxing. It almost helped her forget. Until the unicorn had found the silken fabric of a purple ribbon in her pack, and the folded note that came bundled within. A sweet memory of what might have been. A stabbing pain of what was supposed to be, and now what very well may never happen.

Skeletal hands hold the ribbon with an extreme level of care, perhaps unexpected from a body of such grizzly construction. But the knight's black armor would serve her well. Hopefully it would keep her alive. Long enough to face the Emperor again.. Certainly the desire for righteous vengeance still beat within her breast. But that hate had abated, replaced with something more substantial. Her purpose in coming to this place… Was to protect. A Knight's purpose. To ensure the multiverse beyond would not be dominated, that her own daughter remain free.

Eyes squeeze tight, shoulders sagging in a heavy whickered exhale. Go in ready to die. Hope to find a way out later and fight tooth and nail for it. Silently, so far, far, away from home she whispered a small and fragile little promise. She would not let her daughter's first Wish go to waste.

I'll be home soon.

=============================== IC - Cutscenes ===============================
Message: 24/55 Posted Author
Reasons Fri Jul 27 Psyber


Themesong: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPU8OAjjS4k

Long after Saber had gone to sleep and Psyber was left with his thoughts, the half-angel had resolved to work through the inner turmoil he was feeling like he usually did: through exercise. But a gym was impossible to find, and he didn't dare search for a dojo on this world.

So he improvised, jumping two feet into the air and piercing his sword halfway into the stone. He stripped down to the waistline, keeping his gloves on as he jumped up again and grabbed the blade, testing its steadyness before beginning to pull himself up, chin crossing the bar as he murmurs to himself, "One."

Counting was easy. So was the repetitive motion. It allowed his thoughts to drift elsewhere. First he drifted towards Sol. Swiftly had his actions been condemned, while Psyber had laid his hand upon the man's shoulder and asked if he was okay. Why had Psyber seen in Sol what many had not? He thought on the answer.

"You know why."

Mm. It's been a while since he'd seen you last, his old friend self-loathing. But the truth was, he did know why he'd been the one to understand what Sol felt. Because he had been condemned the same way. It had been him who put the bullet into Madoka's forehead. It had been him who had been condemned for levelling his gun at an innocent girl. He knew the pain of trying to save and knowing you are the only one capable of making the kill.

"Fifty." He absent-mindedly said, chin crossing the blade of the sword once again, a thin sheen of sweat covering him as he repeated the exercise while thinking. His mind drifted towards Saber and the conversation he'd had with her. What had made him willing to let her in on his greatest weakness.

"She's like you."

It was true, much as he hated to admit it. Saber knew well what it was to resign yourself to a fate, to a path. To know that you are to follow a predetermined course of events. To believe you can defy that path. But had he defied it at all? His father's training, his mother's career path, his destined path as an angel. He meant what he said to Saber, it scares him.

"You know why you came."

The others had dreams, places to go back to. Their lovers, their families, their children. He had a job. No.. he had the same job. The same beat he'd been working since he came over in 1630. So then why was he here? He knew why, deep down. All he really knew, scholastics-wise, was Hunting. Best in the Union, one of the best in the Multiverse. And the goal of the hunter was to hunt bigger prey until you find the one that retires you.

"One hundred." He says, releasing the sword and twisting in the air, gripping the handle with his hand and pulling it out of the wall before landing with a light noise. Shirtless, he sits with his back against the giant wall and thinks to himself.

"You know why you came."

=============================== IC - Cutscenes ===============================
Message: 24/56 Posted Author
Just One More Planet… Fri Jul 27 Raditz


It was still the middle of the night and sleeping was still the hardest thing Raditz could do, for two reasons. For One: their supply of food was semi-limited, so he was forced to ration out his share. No Saiyan has ever done particularly well on an empty stomach. And for two: He was having a bit of a nightmare…


The world was ablaze, buildings crumbled over or on fire, the bodies of people lying everywhere, the expression of terror on the faces those who saw it coming. Amongst all the distruction and death, a single pair of boot steps walks across the ruins, as the Saiyan's silhouette is seen against the fiery blaze, making his way through along the broken city.

And suddenly, a single feminine figure rises from the distruction, and runs, charging at the Saiyan, leaping at him with a flying kick, only get grabbed out of the air by a powerful hand, and then slammed into the ground. The then Saiyan steps onto the resistant female's chest and begins to crush down on her sternum. The female screams out in pain, tears streaming from her eyes as she lets out a last, pain filled cry, "R-Raditz… Why… Why are you…"

The Saiyan, Raditz, pauses as he looks down at her, before grinning maliciously and saying, "What did you expect? I'm no hero. I never was!" He then stomps, hard and repeatedly, on the female's chest, laughing as he tells her, "It was all an act and everyone fell for it! NOW DIE LIKE ALL THE OTHER WEAKLINGS!!" His eyes filled with evil intent as he crushes the woman's ribs.

After several stomps, the female is lifeless, staring up at Raditz in horror at his monstrous act… The light briefly flares up allowing Raditz to see her face, and his eyes go wide in recognition. It was……


"Chikari!" Raditz almost yells out, as he jolts awake, all covered in sweat. Breathing heavily, Raditz just stares at the mental images brought about by his nightmare, before turning his head to glance around at the others at the camp, to make sure nobody else heard his wakeup. After a minute, Raditz grumbles and stands up, making his way to join the watch setup by the group.

He needed to be able to get this job, and the nightmare was going to keep him from sleeping properly anyway… As a Saiyan, he was the perfect person for the job of destroying a world and killing all life on it. He hadn't done planet clearing in years, but…

What was one more planet… Right..?

=============================== IC - Cutscenes ===============================
Message: 24/57 Posted Author
Holding Down The Fort Fri Jul 27 Komachi Aki


It was inevitable. She knew when she joined the Union something like this would happen. Fighting and killing and more fighting and more killing. The Confederacy was 'winning' right now. They were holding ground very effectively, and pushing just as effectively. Only the Union elites could do much right now. Well, some of them could at any rate. Some Union elites were pretty much useless, even against the soldiers and weaker elites of the confederacy.

Komachi Aki's powers were extremely limited, and yet she couldn't help but feel compelled to still try to do what she could. And so she had left home. She had left the TSAB. Possibly to prove something to herself as much as anything else. She was at a small fort, as Sailor Beauty. The Small Fort had a similarly small guard, but with an Elite, even a weaker Elite, their morale was high. The fact that she was being high-energy and cheerful helped. She wouldn't let anyone say they were doomed, that this was going to be a losing battle if the Confederacy attacked. She would be their shield, when they have none.

And yet, purposefully, she was alone. Sure, there were the soldiers around her, but she was alone. There were no other Elites out there. In fact, she had purposefully gotten herself stationed out in a remote place near the edges of the Union's territory. Because she was useless. Because she had grasped power and found that power to be lesser than what she desired. She wanted to be able to fight alongside Himei, but each time she had, she'd done little more than upset Himei.

And so she fights. When a small skirmish with the confederate army happens, she fights alone. Using whatever she can. Guns stolen from the enemy, with aim that would make any marksman cry, swords borrowed from the armory of the fort, swung with barely more than novice skill. But she fights on. So far, she's winning. But the healing that the confederate troops have is slowly pushing… pushing… always pushing.

She fights though… even in the face of a slow, inevitable loss.

=============================== IC - Cutscenes ===============================
Message: 24/58 Posted Author
Morning Prayer Fri Jul 27 Kevin Graham


It's almost as if he didn't sleep. Kevin rested, but only for some time. He stayed away from the camp, but not so far that he couldn't be roused awake by the others if there was an issue.
…then again, with the senses and training of the knights, he'd probably awaken at the slightest issue.
However, it was well into the night when he slept, and well before dawn when he was back on his feet, but he never interacted with others. Not at that time. The prayer kit came out, and he settled in the grass with his eyes closed.
Posture be damned- Kevin knew that there wasn't a need for formalities. Aidios wouldn't care. He sometimes wondered if his prayers would even be heard while in the soul of a man could be considered a god of his own right.
Some things were needed to not be out of his own thoughts. He carefully recited practiced words, and followed through the motions with his own belongings… but it was when the prayers were completed. The knight simply sat there, in silence, eyes closed.
People often believed the Dominion to be 'legendary.' They are the twelve who were chosen by the Goddess to bear the power of a stigma. Kevin can say with certainty that they are under the strain of such power, as the mark engulfs everything in their lives and sometimes even destroys their whole life around them.
For a time, he thought to weather such things was enough, but now… he began to reconsider that. He remembered when he met George, and when the novice priest found out about his status in the church. He knew the disappointment the younger priest must have felt when such a terrible and awful person with such an incredible gift used everything to squander it.
It was easier to try to weather it and be the person that George expected of a Dominion when he knew he had to walk into such incredibly low odds of survival, but he still had things to do- he would not allow himself to die so easily. …but the arrival to find those other living beings inside… a whole new world entirely? This was not something he could predict.
There's no exit, though… and it's his world or this one. It's an awful sacrifice, but… Eventually, he opened his eyes and looks skyward. He wouldn't allow anyone to see the look of anguish he has for a moment, even as he looks to that foreign sky above.
Aidios, forgive me!
The number of lives- the amount of blood that was on his hands- he sought to save a single, individual life to make up for one of those. It wouldn't be an exact count, but… if this whole universe is destroyed, there will be no way he could accomplish the same in his lifetime, unless those of the multiverse number more- and dear Goddess, he prays that to be the case.
It takes a moment to calm himself on that moment of fear- because he knows one thing: his sister is one of those people in the multiverse. He simply closes his eyes and settles into his attention and prayer, with the intention to that thought:
In the past, he'd kill for Ries. She wasn't his blood and kin, but she was still his sister. She was everything to him- his world revolved around her. Death always upset her- but he'd kill to protect her, since he killed their older sister. Even now, he simply resigns that- as much as he wants to protect others, he will have to settle for a bloody protection. White really was a poor choice for the color of his uniform, wasn't it?
Somehow, as long as his family remained in his thoughts, he was able to remain still and keep those emotions under the surface. It made it easier to simply sit in silent meditation, as he began to put that stillness back into place. He would need his mind if he intended to push for a miracle- to push for that five percent chance.

=============================== IC - Cutscenes ===============================
Message: 24/59 Posted Author
Just one cup of coffee. Fri Jul 27 Amalthea


"So why exactly are you here?"

It was that dream again. The same reflective pond. The same clearing of lush green grass in the middle of a forest. The same cottony white, moon-glow figure of the unicorn trotting in to taunt her again. With a pissy whicker the mechanical mythic lifts her head, jewel eyes regarding cobalt with an irritable glare. Sleep wasn't coming along very well, and no doubt when she woke up, she'd only be even more grouchy. But it's par for the course.

"Are we really going to go through this? I don't want to talk to you, you know." She tried to shoo the Legend away. But to no avail.

"I am curious. Why. You could have stayed. Is your desire for vengeance that great?"

"It's not about vengeance. Not anymore."

"Is that true?"

"Okay maybe it's a little bit about vengeance, but I have other reasons, can you just let me sleep."

Lowering her head to grass, loppy ears fold down, trying to mute out the voice of unicorn beginning to nose lightly at her side, refusing to leave her be.

"So then what are they? Is it for your own need to tie off a loose end? Or perhaps your Mate and daughter? Or your sister? Her Mate?"

"My reasons are threefold: I'm tired, I'm trying to sleep, and you're pissing me off."

"I did not mean the reasons you are shooing me away. We both know you have now gotten more than you bargained for in coming here, and even if you achieve your goal, you may never return. Have your reasons changed knowing this?"

"No. They changed when my life did, thank you."

"And what of that Aika girl?"

Snort. An irritable sound. The conversation was beginning to turn in a direction the fake unicorn didn't want to discuss.

"What about her."

"You are cruel to her."

This bitch really needs to shut the fuck up.

"Well gee I wonder why. If I didn't know better, maybe it's because she looks like a dead chick that helped the Titan I am now sleeping inside betray the Union and wound me."

"Appearances do not mean much. You are needlessly vindictive still. She is here just the same as you are."

Lifting her head the mithril unicorn glares, noseplates scrunching in annoyance. "I don't need to deal with this. I know how to make you go away."

"Do you? But at the cost of your rest. Very well, if you must be that way. But consider your reasons for being here very carefu—"

Crimson eyes flutter open as morning breaks and Amalthea rouses. Groggy and not rested enough by far.

"I'd kill for a cup of Lest's coffee right now…"

=============================== IC - Cutscenes ===============================
Message: 24/60 Posted Author
Homesick (Part 1) Fri Jul 27 Priscilla


She said she would keep watch. That much was true. Priscilla was, if anything, a creature of her word.

But when dealing with creatures of their word, one must pay careful attention to what those words could mean.

http://www.listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=bpI-KeK-PQg5

The night of this place is cold, and deep. A chill, but gentle breeze sweeps steadily on through the dark hours, caressing the cyan grass of the beautifully alien meadows that surround them; ones that stretch on endlessly as far as the eye can see, marooning their lonely little encampment in the inky black and deep blue sea of the night sky. The warm, orange glow of the campfires is nothing but a miniscule spark against the vast tapestry of foreign stars and unfamiliar constellations glittering above, and the yawning blackness of space beyond them. A flickering candle of warmth and comfort for homesick travellers, lost in this foreign land. The tiniest fragment of the home they had left behind, carried with them, to ease troubled hearts and let rest troubled minds. It shines in the distance far behind her. A pinprick ember, lost in the hushed sigh of the wind in the fields. The whispering of the grass that surrounds her, peacefully swaying in the breeze. It is quiet. Soothing. And yet it does nothing for any of them. A tranquility reserved for those hearts that belong here. A natural beauty that finds solace only in those who have grown up hearing its melody. Priscilla stands at watch, but all she watches now is the sky. A single, alabaster figure, bathed in blue tinted light; her dress, and her long, silver hair trailing in the wind behind her as she cranes her neck to stare up at the stars. What she would give for the fall of snow instead of quicksilver, or the eerie, unchanging green over of the cool, regal blue …

Why was she here?

That question again. Truthfully, standing watch was an excuse to ponder it. The residents of this world were as alive as anything else. She would sense them long before she ever saw them. Smell their humanity on the winds. There was no need to spend the night so far away from the warmth of the fire, even if the cold bothers her not at all. And yet she did. She had watched over them, true, but not in the way any of them might think. She had stood among them and beside them. Invisible, immaterial, and yet only ever an arm's reach away. The distance of an errant hand. Vigilantly, she had looked on. Intruded upon their inner circles. Listened to their confessions. Breached the privacy of their personal rituals; of their laments and comforts and prayers. All to witness them lower their guards and open their hearts in the presence of their closest friends. To understand these people the way they would never care to understand her.

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Message: 24/61 Posted Author
Homesick (Part 2) Fri Jul 27 Priscilla


She knew why she was here. She had come because she had believed herself suitable. She had left her soul in the keeping of her subjects, gazed into that of the Emperor Ascendant, and taken with her the Lifehunt, to end it from within. She had known from the very start what she had come for. She had known better than anyone. Long before this had become even an inkling of a plan, she had glimpsed the true nature of Viridian Sunrise, and she had decided she could do it. She had known, and she had assumed that everyone who had come with her did as well. That they were a true Union, united not just in their goal, but in their resolve; all as one in the grim task they were to undertake for the sake of their homelands. She was sure they had known.

And she was wrong.

At first it had disgusted her. Priscilla had thought them better than that. The fact that they would leap at the chance to kill a man, only to find that they were to kill a billion men in his place, and then drop to their knees and bicker and weep with each other instead, drove her to abject revulsion. How could they possibly be so naive? So deluded?! They had seen Cirrus Marine! They understood how many this would save! They had come here willing to lay down their lives! All that fire and passion had gone out, just like that! Indeed, at first, it sickened her. At first.

Now she merely wondered what was wrong with /her/ instead.

Priscilla had listened to Charr and Duncan. She had witnessed Karian's struggle. She had spied upon the meditations of Huang Dao and Sarah. She had intruded into the service conducted by Kevin, in the presence of Maya and Freya. The musings of Himei and Raven and The Hunter were known to her. Even Lloyd had not been safe from her prying. Every last one of them, no matter how old or how young, human or beast or machine, pure of heart or bitter and jaded, weak and mortal or something more, whether they showed it or hid it, masked it or disguised it, revealed the same colours in the security of their trusted company. Something about Viridian's chosen people had wounded all of them them deeply. Something had shattered their confidence and turned it into resignation; into groups of friends consoling and forgiving one another for what they were about to do, instead of planning how to do it. She had heard it over and over again. These people were innocent. These people were protecting what was theirs. These people don't deserve this. These people are in the right, and we are in the wrong. Priscilla?

She just didn't care.

So what did that make her?

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Message: 24/62 Posted Author
Homesick (Part 3) Fri Jul 27 Priscilla


Hours have passed, and yet still she grapples with that question, the same insecurity burning away at the back of her mind. She was the only one that knew … and that meant she was the only one who had really volunteered to kill these people. She alone, had /wilfully/ endorsed this genocide. It was /just/ her. /Why/ was it just her?! It wasn't as if she couldn't feel empathy. It wasn't like she couldn't understand the difference between killing the innocent and the guilty. To her though, all this was, was the natural order. Everything must destroy something else to live. If the wolf does not kill the rabbit, it starves to death. If the fire does not torch the wood, it burns out. All of these people knew that, and yet still hated it. They didn't feel guilty, they /reviled/ it! If they knew this was what she did. What she was. They would revile her too. Perhaps some of them already did. Psyber had run off with another woman. She hadn't heard what he had to say. That hurt the most of all.

It was just like back then. A different time, a different place, with different people and different rules, but in the end, it was the same thing. Elen and Psyber and Nathan and even Alice had all given her such speeches and such hope for this new start, and already, she could see the warning signs. She had gotten this far by hiding who she was. Every time she had tried to do what seemed natural to her, she was berated for it. Hated for it. For what she did to Loki. To Nine. To what she had tried to do to Cirrus Marine. She could hide it, yes, but she couldn't deny it. It was her nature. Her heritage. Everything down to the marrow of her soul, was meant for it. She had come here because she had thought that this was exactly what the Union wanted. That they /needed/ people like her to do what their primitive human instincts urged them not to. She had thought that what made her different from the others could maker her useful. Once upon a time she had thought that there just wasn't a place for her in her world. Amongst humanity. She had grown to accept that …

But only a handful of these people were even human. Only a handful of these worlds were anything like hers. And yet every single last one of them were all united by this common tenet. The sole lens of truth that all of them shared. The will to live. The inability to accept nothingness. The terror of oblivion. The stubborn insistence that to fight inevitability and preserve that which readily falls apart on its own is always worth doing. More than anything these people treasured the soul. To them, the idea that something might not just kill them, but cause them to simply cease to be, without even the dream of an afterlife, is more objectionable than anything that could possibly befall them in life or death, and that was exactly what they were here to do. To carry that exact sentence on countless innocent lives. She had been ready to do that. She hadn't batted an eye. But these people … she had heard it from them with her own ears. The words "callous", and "monster", and "unforgivable sin". Even those words were meant for those among them that understood their pain, but just didn't care enough to stop them from doing it anyways. If having weak enough inhibitions to erase a world was monstrous genocide, what was having none at all? What was /she/? Already these people didn't look at her. Didn't talk to her. Didn't acknowledge her. They regarded her as a freak or an eccentricity at best, she knew that … but how would that change if they knew that she really /would/ consign billions to the void, just because she could.

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Message: 24/63 Posted Author
Homesick (Final) Fri Jul 27 Priscilla


Priscilla had come here expecting to be immune. No petty horrors of war could hold a candle to the horrors she had already witnessed. No sin could possibly weigh greater than what she already bore. No human fear or empathy could cause her to hesitate from her duty. She had anticipated that the worst would not phase her. What she had found instead, was that the worst, turns out to be the feeling of being trusted. These people had faith that even if they didn't like her, she was enough like them to understand and share in their suffering. That more than anything, is what feels as if it's driving her absolutely insane.

On the first night, away from the place that had become her new home, Priscilla looks up at the stars and cries. Silent, unblinking tears, shared with no-one at all; shed for the first time in centuries. She was on her own. At least nobody could see her like this.

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Message: 24/64 Posted Author
Mental block Fri Jul 27 Fayt Ravus


So… um…

Fayt had to admit, he was drawing blanks right now.

All hell was breaking loose. First Cirrus Marine was attacked. Now the Feds are pretty much invinsible, with anything the Union does being promptly retconned from existence. The multiverse is slowly turning a rather worrying shade of blue. His friends have walked into a suicide mission and… and…

There's that blank again.

It occured to Fayt that this likely shouldn't be suprising. After all, he didn't amount to much. A timid shutin with no real life outside his studies or work, and the studies aren't going anywhere. Fayt doesn't really have anything. No goals or ideals to fight for. Nothing to get worked up over really.

Breeze was right, he didn't have much of a life. And now Breeze is off on a suicide mission and… and…

There's that blank again.

Then again, Fayt thought, it's not like he has the energy to respond to much anyway. It's been the better half of a week without sleep, his company is stretched thin scrounging for whatever supplies the multiverse is still willing to part with durning this crisis, and between guarding the ships, healing the injured, and keeping all the orders sorted out, Fayt has been having a hell of a time trying to be in several places at once.

He might not have much, but at least he's being productive. Still this crisis has him worred, because if it all goes to hell and the Feds win then… then…

There's that blank again.

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Message: 24/65 Posted Author
Motivations (1) Fri Jul 27 White Sunglint


"A sidereal told me that some time in the future she'd help us get back whatever real estate I have in Yu-Shan," White Sunglint said. She said this as her circle of Lunars and herself sat around in a group of trees, trying and failing to get some sleep with the blue sun overhead. Goodness only knows what the Unconquered Sun thought about all this. And why wasn't the Daystar going over there and kung-fu kicking the other one if it could?

"How will you do it if you can't remember their name?" her mate asked, shaping a moonsilver weapon. Creation-3 didn't have to deal with wandering demons, but the Confederacy was getting just as interested in bothering them here.

"Uh…" Glint replied.

"I'd like to move back in there, just to see what it looks like, you know?" he continued. Then, noticing Glint was staring into the blue sun, he wiped the hair into her face and tilted her cheek away from it. "Don't. Going to hurt your eyes."

Glint said 'thanks', her voice a little quiet. He sucked on his teeth. "Are you worried about that?"

"Surprisingly, no," Glint replied, sitting up and turning around to face him. "It's bein' handled, I s'pose. Someone's gonna do something about it. Bigger'n smarter'n me."

"What I was thinking about was, suppose we do get to move back in. What do we do next? Ever since I found out about Yu-Shan, s'what I've wanted to do. 'pparently I'm going to get it handed to me, now?"

"So you're wondering what to do next." "Yeah. All I really got is my dream, my ghost-punchin' and you." "Is that so bad?"

"I don't know," Glint replies, and the wind blows her hair a little. "I'm a Solar, ain't I? Huang Dao's been alive for squillions of years and learned like a kajillion martial arts. Breeze makes artifacts and runs a city and has a factory-cathedral. Rampart runs a kingdom. Viridian…"

She points up.

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Message: 24/66 Posted Author
Motivations (2) Fri Jul 27 White Sunglint


"Viridian Sunrise isn't a solar, though," he reminds her gently.

"Yeah, I know, but if what Hunter said's true, then he used t'be. Everyone else aims high, real real high. I don't know what to do with my Exaltation. I only got it from beating up a zombie lizard, and all."

"If you hadn't, would you still like me, if we met in different circumstances?"

White looks at him for a moment. She spends a little time looking, reminding herself of every feature she likes, weighing it up in her mind with the vauge shards of memory that lurk in her third soul. She decides "Yeah, I would."

"Then," he says, "Is it alright just to live for love?"

She considers it. "Just live for… us? I… yeah. That… that sounds good. That sounds really good."

She shifts a little, drops off the branch, and lands next to him. She clings and buries her face in his chest.

"You'd think some days people would look at us and wonder which is the Lunar," he says teasingly. She looks up at him. "Ain't it OK for me to hang all over you sometimes?"

"You'd think you had a Lunar Bond," he says. "Silver ribbon around your neck, tied to my thumb."

"Gold ribbon around yours, tied to mine?" she asks back. "Who needs a red string?"

She enjoys being next to him. Lunar bond. She likes the sound of that…

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Message: 24/67 Posted Author
Heroism? Fri Jul 27 Day's Last Light


MUSIC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4s3b5OR2YhE

XENIA, CITY OF INNS
HOURS AGO

Bleeding from the throat once again, and in less than sound mental condition, Zaliki had landed over the walls of the City of Inns and Hospitality after only a single leap down the Moon's Road. Had it never happened, things would have been better, but she was privately glad that she had managed it in just the one soaring jump, because she couldn't say if she would have been able to repeat the feat now even if she wanted to. The golden light of her anima banner has faded, banishing the image of the One Who Are Three that reflects the shape of her soul. She takes a deep breath, concentrating on the gash in her neck.

The light returns, then, and the wound closes. For now.


"You have to close the gates!" Zaliki calls to the watchmen on the walls. "There are off-worlders here! They attacked my brother and I, and they shattered the Gates of Horn and Ivory — th… they kept saying something about wanting the Emperor. The spirit of the world, or something! I don't know, but they're coming here, and they'll do to us what they did to the Gates!"

The guardsman, clad in mechanized armor of cobalt, shakes his head exasperatedly and answers, "Lady, I appreciate the warning but these gates don't close, ever. Nobody would dare spill blood on the Moon's Road. It sounds to me like you had a little too much to drink or something. Go home and get some rest."

"LISTEN TO ME—" Zaliki calls, summoning up her Inner Strength with a flare of golden light.

But she is answered by two other guardsmen from nearby posts, seizing her under the arms and carrying her back down to the city proper. Zaliki does not resist. These are her people, and she has to help them, whether they like it or not. Even if they don't think they need it. Once they have deposited her alongside the ramp, the Blue Sun Priestess sits on the hot stone pathways, her eyes shut and her mind racing. It does not take her long to determine exactly what she is going to do.

Day's Last Light rises from her uncomfortable stone seat and begins running. There is a shout from above as the guardsmen take notice of her path, but they are not quick enough to intercept. The great chains and supports that keep the gate open SNAP as they are struck. An ominous creak follows by the SLAMMING of the great gate. It shakes the whole of Xenia, and reverberates down the Moon's Road. Not long thereafter, a second SNAPPING of chains and supports follows, and a second great crash.

For the first time in millennia, the City of Hospitality is closed.

Day's Last Light ends her brief rampage perched upon the very top of the gate, her legs crossed beneath her. Determined though she may be, this is probably the sum total of what she will be able to do. If the Gates of Horn and Ivory fell so quickly as they did, then she has no chance.

"Sir?" Zaliki asks, looking up past the Blue Sun, towards the Guarding Star. "I don't know why you chose me. I think we're supposed to be enemies, too. But if you can help me any, even if it's just a little…" She trails off into silence, and turns her gaze towards the ground below.

WORLDS AND REALMS OF EXISTENCE AWAY…

The Unconquered Sun observes a particularly persistent prayer as he finishes his turn at the Games of Divinity. He seizes it carefully, as one might take hold of a butterfly, and listens. After a moment's exasperated contemplation, a single star in Annu's skies gleams with golden light.

"I am watching." says the Guarding Star to the world of Annu, and nothing more.

The Unconquered Sun returns to his games, paying the prayer no further mind.

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Message: 24/68 Posted Author
Recess Fri Jul 27 Lien Qi


Yu-Shan was always a beautiful, brilliant city. At night, it lights up in something of a mirror of the skies of Creation, while the sky itself, such as it is, instead proclaims the current leader in the Games of Divinity. Saturn currently finds herself in the lead.

How appropriate, Lien thinks.

"I see that your behavior has suffered during your long-standing task outside our world." Lien never even heard the man step up behind her. She doesn't bother to look; she knows who it is without needing to. She grips the balcony rail, leaning heavily on it and staring out at the city with a greater intensity.

"I said what needed to be said," she replies, voice even. She glances to her left, sensing him step up beside her. He's always been taller than she is, with a presence that came from his experience, his power, and his accumulated wisdom. Still, she could see the lines in his face after this gathering, the concern in his dark eyes.

He regards her with a level look. "You insisted we attack 'him' first, with no evidence supporting your claim of his aggression —" Lien interrupts immediately, frustration evident in her voice. She turns her head and glares at the older man. "The stars are blue /everywhere/, sifu, if that isn't evidence enough —"

The man doesn't miss a beat or slow for an instance, speaking through her interruption. "— and then, when you were rebuked, you physically assaulted Thrice-Sought Writ for doubting you."

Lien is quiet for a moment. The sounds of the Celestial City and the whistle of the wind fills her ears.

"He started it," she grumbles.

Laughter bubbles up from the man's lips. He leans on the railing next to her, holding himself up as he simply laughs uproariously at the equally-simple comment. His laughter subsides a moment later. Tatamori Ryunosuke sees the hurt in her eyes, sighing quietly and putting an arm about her shoulders and giving her a quick, if strong, one-armed hug. "I am sorry, Lien; I should not have laughed at you. Still, you acted rashly and without thought, and the rest of the Bureau will look to take advantage of this weakness in you in the future. You must consider your actions more carefully before acting against one of your fellows."

Lien sighs forlornly. "Yes, sifu." She feels like she's back in training again.

"I will do what I can to clean up this mess. You may have to make certain gestures of apology." Lien rolls her eyes. She's well aware of Thrice-Sought Writ's weakness for 'cute' girls. It's one of the reasons she hit him in the first place. Accumulated payback for accumulated aggrevation. Her sifu continues, "However, I am certain you will find a solution where they may not. Your experience with the larger world beyond the borders of our Creation is invaluable. Remember that while you are free to do what you must, to fulfill your obligation to your current station, you must comport yourself with the dignity and respect your superiors expect from you."

His oft-repeated words echo through Lien's head. 'There are many ways of seeing.' She considers what he says, finding a satisfactory way to view them — one he almost definitely intended. Lien's expression remains a mixture of grim and thoughtful throughout his lecture, continuing unabated. She almost didn't hear his last question, his usual sign of dismissal, her mind working furiously to concoct a solution.

Lien steps back and bows. "I understand, sifu."

He nods. He smiles, the expression so minute that she doesn't spot it. "Good. Come; the deliberation resumes presently."

Lien allows herself to be led back to the chamber, filled near capacity with the Five-Score Fellowship. She has to do something. Her sifu understands. But if they won't help her…

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Message: 24/69 Posted Author
The Price of Heroism Fri Jul 27 Unconquered Sun


For the second time in so many moments, the Unconquered Sun's attention is drawn to the same world. It is not unusual for him to speak to His Priests at the moment of their Exaltation, though even now it is much more difficult for them to draw His attention than it was in the dawn of time. The Hierophant had seen to that, many eons ago now. He seizes the next of these prayers from an assistant God who had moved to file it away like many others, and listens with His eyes closed. Slowly, His perspective moves to the Daystar, and His viewing gallery.

At last He answers, privately and between heartbeats, rather than shouting His answer across worlds: "Walks In Glorious Radiance of Noon, when I was young, I stood in service to The Empyreal Chaos. On more than one occasion it was My duty to defend Creation from the worlds of other Primordials. In time it became My duty to stand against My creators and those entities that lived within them."

The Guarding Star goes on, "But it is only to be expected that those beings, and the people that live within them, would defend themselves just as fiercely… if not so effectively… as I defended Creation. Her cause is no less righteous than yours, but the path that you walk is no different than My own. At times, even the greatest of us must choose."

"And at times," Ignis Divine concludes, "We must stand in judgement of Ourselves."

And so, the Unconquered Sun's message ends. He casts a momentarily look in the direction of the Daystar, fingers uncomfortably playing over the controls of the Games of Divinity. Then his turn resumes, and his attention is stolen once more.

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Message: 24/70 Posted Author
The Dance Fri Jul 27 Huang Dao


The steps of the dance are both ancient and new. A constant flow of motion from one position to the next. They go on, endless, never repeating. In the dance can be seen many things.

An expression of regret.
Hope for the people of a world.
Mitigated despair.

As the dance continues, these things fade, until all that remains is a prayer cast upwards to the Sun of Creation, far from this strange world.

And in his heart, Walks In Glorious Radiance of Noon recieves an answer. And for the second time that day, his dance ends as he gazes up into the sky.

And tears shine upon his cheeks before he bows to the heavens… and once again resumes his dance.

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Message: 24/71 Posted Author
Fraying Fri Jul 27 Sakura Haruno


Flowers stumbled away from the campfire where she had fallen asleep. There hadn't been bad nightmares in a while before tonight, and she couldn't really do anything about them now, but sleeping more wasn't really an option. A few moments alone might help; thinking about the first time she had killed a human certainly wouldn't.

"You're never alone, Sakura. Remember that. But trying to hide where you're going, pretending it will just work itself out, won't make it right," came a voice from behind her. She tilted her head, considering. They weren't real. She knew that. But they were still comforting, somehow, even if she'd tried to just ignore them for months.

"And what do you think I should do, then?" She asked, without turning, rubbing at her eyes. It didn't matter, anyway; they wanted to be seen and heard, and they moved in front of her.

"Save everyone, no matter what." The blonde boy said, as ever far nobler in her mind than even she thought he'd been in life. Definitely more than she herself ever had been.

"Save the ones you love, whatever it costs others or yourself." The black-haired woman said, offering a slightly unsteady smile, and then glancing at the other two 'guests'.

"Run, and hide, and save yourself, your pride be damned." The blonde woman said, snorting. "You won't make a bit of difference, anyway."

The medic sighed, turning back towards the camp, not wanting to look at them. Talking with them clearly wouldn't help, tonight. "No." She answered, and to which part of herself she was replying even she couldn't say.

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Message: 24/72 Posted Author
The Lurking Fear (1/2) Fri Jul 27 Hastur


http://www.listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=gtBl8Zd1v0c

The universe is a yawning chasm, filled with emptiness and the puerile meanderings of sentience.

For millenia upon millenia, Hastur languished on his throne at the heart of his prison kingdom of Carcosa as the cloud waves lashed against the shore and the air filled with the distant screams, shrieks, and moans of rotting monstrosities and the restless spirits of the dead. He sat, watching the meaningless wanderings of the many blissfully ignorant races of the universe through countless reaches of the cosmos, so far removed from their infantile mentalities and daily interactions that their grand discoveries, endless wars, brilliant creations, and last, faltering breaths were little more than a performance. A theatrical drama.

Like a scholar who has placed an ant farm on his desk to provide a fascinating distraction, the King in Yellow watched these worlds grow, build, develop, spread, and ultimately crumble. The only method he had to hold back the madness of isolation, the strain of betrayal, the countless, endless cycles of the universe passed in imprisonment.

And after so many eons, the King finds himself a Queen, sitting on a bed in a darkened, quiet room, the curtains shut against the oppressive blue sun hanging in the sky at all hours, a book in her lap as she attempts to distract herself from the current situation. All remarkably similar to her previous life, at least at first glance.

She frowns at the words on the page as more thoughts slide unwanted into her mind, pushing out the attempt at a distraction as they force themselves to be heard.

Things have changed. Much has changed.

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Message: 24/73 Posted Author
The Lurking Fear (2/2) Fri Jul 27 Hastur


The ageless, distant being has truly become one of the creatures she so vaguely regarded as intelligent so long ago. Not only is she subject to true mortality and the threats it causes, but she walks among lesser beings like one of them, dressing like them and eating their food, speaking and sitting with them. Proper emotions, complex and alien, drift through her mind and regularly shift and warp themselves in further complex and incomprehensible ways.

It makes no sense. It should not make sense. Why would she…he…whatever the being called Hastur could be called now, why feel such things?

She sighs and rubs her eyes, attempting to focus on her reading again, but the words on the page stand by in favor of the thoughts that haven't said their last words yet.

What is there to be afraid of? What is there to be worried about? Mortality, perhaps, and the possibility of it looming over her every action now that Psyber is at risk of death as well. Should there be an afterlife for one such as her? Should she simply cease to exist? Would a life that has extended through the life of the universe itself and beyond be able to simply end?

Those fears, she realizes, are only part of her worry. A small part. To die, perhaps, would not be so horrible. It isn't her own life that she fears the end for, but rather the life of another and the possibility of her continued existence lacking that life as it interacts with her own. She sighs, shutting her book and placing it on the bed next to her as she admits that she doesn't actually know the full extent of her binding with Psyber. Perhaps she wouldn't die if he did. Incidents like these are rare in her world, if they happen at all.

…and what loss would that be? One life among billions is no severe loss in the scope of the universe. Maybe she would obtain her power again and truly return to being a Great Old One.

…the loss, however, would be to herself. The loss of the only entity through countless ages who has treated her not as an omnipotent deity, not as a mind-shattering abomination, not as a heretic and a rival, but as another person. A friend, perhaps. A valuable, personal link that she can't quite understand or describe, but which has provided what is easily the greatest of these annoyingly alien emotions that she has had to deal with.

…such damnable emotions, yet so important nonetheless.

She sighs and sits up in bed, turning to draw back the curtain of her room slightly. Enough to look out and see the blue sun looming over the world, enough to glare at it in resentment. And she hopes, sincerely, that she will not have to learn a new emotion that will undoubtedly boil up should Psyber lose his life in this effort.

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Message: 24/74 Posted Author
Inside The Enemy: Day One Fri Jul 27 Blossom Rose


Exaltation. Becoming one of those "chosen of the gods" had changed Aika's life so much. Between joining the Union, and suddenly having very strange powers, and sensitivity to Essence… things had been very odd. She'd gotten used to shapeshifting, at least. In fact she found it pretty relaxing to assume her Spirit Shape, to just lounge about as a cat.

But she still has so many questions. A lot of people offered to help her too; it was unusual, having grown up with more or less only herself and her parents to supply anything reliable.

Huang Dao. He sure was impressive.
Untamed Breeze. She found it easy to relate to her.
Sol. He seemed like a good guy, even if he hid it.
Some… girl. She can't remember. She's pretty sure it was a girl at least. Len Wi? Yeah her name was definitely Len Wi. No. No that's not right. Well, whatever. It was a girl, and she offered to help.
And countless Unionites aside.

For all the good, there was the bad too.

Agrias… why did she seem so surprised hearing her?
Amalthea… she always seems to angry at her.
A few others seemed distrustful. There were obviously issues.

Either ways, here she is. Inside the soul of the enemy.

For some reason, it really seems welcoming to her. The place is simply stunning; it's beautiful. The blue-ish moon is so pretty, and people seem to live well here. She'd like to save as many as she can, but she can't delude herself into thinking it's possible.

She feels watched, too. Something… someone… is watching her here. It's not hostile, that much she can tell… but her senses pick up nothing else.

And her dreams… when she did manage to find sleep, she dreamt of being someone she is not. A balcony, drinking with the Emperor. Laughing with him. Making him smile. Why did she feel so drawn to him? He certainly had the physique to please any woman, but that couldn't be all it was.

Maybe coming here was a bad idea.

The fluffy bunnies and the muffins were a good touch, at least.

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Message: 24/75 Posted Author
A Dream Fri Jul 27 K4-800M


The world was dying.

Fire spread from one horizon to the other, as far as the eye could see. The ground was blackened with ash. The sky was filled with smoke. Unbearable heat covered the landscape like a blanket. The world's image danced and distorted, as if one were looking at its reflection in water.

The world was ending.

In the distance, a tall pyramid loomed over the burning landscape. Several figures stood atop the pyramid, basking in rays of sunlight. But no light reflected off of them. They stood like black sillouettes, dark like the smoke that filled the air.

All but one of them.

Black hair running down past her waist, tied together by a huge white ribbon. Pointy metal ears protruding from the sides of her head. Black armor, in the shape of a butterfly, covered her back. A white shirt and black shorts were the only other clothes she wore.

From behind, she appeared to be heroic. The rays of light shine upon her as she looked up to the sky, as if she were a victorious knight recieving praise from a ruler. She seemed peerless. Invincible. An agent of justice, smiting the wicked wherever she went.

But she didn't look that way from the front.

Small streams of tears poured from her tearducts, running down her cheek and falling down to her shoulder. Her mouth was agape, distorted by grief. Her eyes looked up to the heavens as if to ask 'Why?'. But she recieves no response but the gentle rays of light.

Then, the others. The sillouettes. Many of them also began to cry. Their tears fell to the roof of the pyramid, gathered into a pool which then split off into mutliple rivers. The rivers became waterfalls, pouring down the sides of the giant structure and into the blazing inferno below.

But no matter how many tears they shed, it was not enough to quench the flames below.

And that was what K4-800M saw before waking up.

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Message: 24/76 Posted Author
What we all do. Fri Jul 27 Pepper Potts


Virginia Potts was up before the sun. The pounding in her head had eased, and before the blue sun had kissed the concrete and steel of the Manhattan skyline, she was already showered, primed, and dressed. The tap of her heels sounded hollow, lonely as they echoed through the penthouse. The suite was dark. She'd slept again in Tony's bed, since she had promised she wouldn't leave the suite until she'd been checked out, and as she looked out the huge windows in the suite, wrapping her arms around herself as the blue light floods in.

*Thirteen Years Prior*

"— and the Tillister account has finally cleared, so we can begin dismantling the old factory and rebuild it into a far more efficient plant." Virginia finished on her report, flipping over a few pages. "And it looks like we can still… use some of the equi—… Mr. Stark. Are you even paying attention to what I'm saying?" Virginia Potts sighed, and put a hand to her head, again. Her new employer, whom she is decently sure picked her out on the advantages of 'has nice legs' and 'knows a lot about Dad's stuff'. Anthony Stark gave a cheeky smile. He had burning through secretaries like they were cheap cigarettes. He went through four before he found this one in the secretary pool, and she was /tough/. She knew the business, she could recite their accounts backwards, and she was pretty easy on the eyes, but she was /tough/.

He /liked/ her spirit. And her legs, but that was a slight afterthought.

"So, how far do those go down, anyway?" he asked, giving a flippant handmotion at her. Virginia blinked, and he waggled his hand again. "The pepper… freckles. Thing."

"I… they… it's /really/ none of your business, Mr. Stark."

"Well then, Pepper,"

"Virginia, actu—"

"/Virginia?/ Sounds like my great aunt. No, you're going to be Pepper. Pepper Potts. And you're hired, by the way. Permanent position, no more secretary pool, major jump in salary (you /may/ want to consider a new wardrobe, you're going to be seen with /me/ after all)… but seriously. Do they go /all/ the way down?"
**

Pepper clasped her datapad to her chest, and her eyes watered, looking out over the blue sun-soaked city, a city that never sleeps. And she turned her head, her heels tapping, echoing against the empty walls, the half-emptied scotch decanters, an abandoned rewiring project. And in the middle of it all, Pepper pauses. She looks up to the ceiling, and heaves a deep breath.

"He'll be back." she whispers. To Jarvis. To herself. To the world. She gripped her datapad tighter, and marched right by where she had stood, leaving two, small darkened places in the carpet where her tears have fallen.

Pepper Potts does not cry. Pepper Potts deals with things as she has always done, and before she exits the elevator to face the day, she's wearing her mild smile, her hair perfectly pulled up, and her chin tilted up.

Somewhere, out there, Tony Stark is alive, he's fighting, and he WILL come back to her…

…he always has.

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Message: 24/77 Posted Author
The Fall of the Red Prince 1/2 Fri Jul 27 Genghis Rex


The inner sanctum of the Reptilonian citadel shook violently as Allo glanced at the cracked screen in front of him.

"He's almost here …" Allo said grimly.

"Allo! I can't let you do this! He'll kill you!" Bronto Thunder snaked his head over Allo's shoulder.

Allo glanced solemnly at his old friend, imagining him as he used to be: Huge, Hulking, the biggest of his Dinosaucer Allies, always smiling, always stretching out his neck (literally) to help a friend. Allo couldn't remember the last time he saw that smile it had long ago been replaced with a cybernetic faceplate after the massive hero had most of his face ripped from his skull by Genghis Rex's Lieutenant, Ankylo. BT almost died that day … Steggo and Ichy did die … and Teryx … what happened to Teryx … he shuddered.

"He'll kill all of us unless he's stopped … I'm the only one left …"

"You're not! I'm here!"

"NO! No one else dies in my name!" Allo was shaking. His mind was a blur of emotion. "It ends today, one way or another!"

The shattered monitor in front of Allo flickered to life, showing the face of an elder Dimetrodon wearing a cowl over his face, "Allo, I'm in place. Everything is ready. You're sure about this?"

Allo hesitated for a moment but continued, "Good job, Dimetro. Yeah, I'm sure about it. It's our only chance. It's Reptilon's only chance."

Dimetro took one last longing look at his commander then nodded. The screen in front of Allo blinked out. He knew he would not see Dimetro again.

The blast door in the front of the chamber shook violently, creating an echoing cacophony in the mostly empty chamber. Allo stood, to face the battered door, steeling himself for the fight to come. Bronto Thunder trudged forward, but Allo grabbed him by the arm. The brontosaurus craned his neck back at Allo, ready to issue a protest, but he caught the look in his leader's eye. This was Allo's fight. Bronto Thunder drooped his head and silently relented, taking his place behind his leader.

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Message: 24/78 Posted Author
The Fall of the Red Prince 2/2 Fri Jul 27 Genghis Rex


A final echoing *bang* thundered against the blast door. It creaked and wobbled, letting slivers of light into the darkened sanctum, then fell inwards and crashed loudly to the ground, shaking the metallic floor. An unmistakable silhouette stood with his claws at his hips in the destroyed doorway; he was flanked on both sides by varying species of heavily armored Reptilonians, and behind him hung the massive shadow of a fully Dino-volved Brachiosaurus.

"Oh, Allo. You've made this far more difficult than it needed to be." said a loud boisterous voice.

"I wasn't about to roll over and die for the likes of YOU, Genghis Rex!"

Genghis Rex smiled cooly, "Of course not … and let's be honest, Allo. There's no way you or your "Dinosaucers" were going to survive this little conflict, but so many innocents died because of your refusal to surrender. Hopefully, THEY will understand when I send you to the next world it would be a shame for you to be ripped to shreds twice in one day."

"Tooth and Claw, then?"

"I wouldn't have it any other way …"

A higher pitched voice interrupted, "I can blow his head off right now, Bossasaur!"

Rex sneered, "NO, Ankylo, he is mine. All of you out but make certain this is recorded, I want all of Reptilon to witness as I rip their precious Prince's throat out with my jaws!"

Ankylo snorted, then ushered the other Tyrannos back out of the room.

"Rex, you sadisti…"

"Yes, Allo! I am what I am and I will savor every piece of flesh I rip from your self-righteous hide! And when you are dead, I will wear your defeat as my crown and sit upon a throne made of your rotting bones! Now, DIE!"

With that, Genghis Rex slapped the badge on the left of his chest and was suddenly engulfed in an eerie ghostly light. His form began to twist and grow as his armor fell away. He bent over as his body expanded, his tail stretching out behind him to balance out the hulking head that leaned forward. His arms shrunk, but his legs tripled in size and mass. As the light began to fade, where the powerful form of Genghis Rex once stood, was now a full sized Tyrannosaur. A triumphant roar tore through the sanctum as Rex charged forward, towards his hated foe.

Suddenly, a thin beam of light cut through the darkness, from behind Allo and Bronto-Thunder. It struck the charging T-Rex right in the chest and, in a blinding flash, the Tyranno leader was gone. His long sought after victory ripped from his claws in the blink of an eye.

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Message: 24/79 Posted Author
When All You Can Do Is Pray (1/2) Fri Jul 27 Yuna Kagurazaka


The worst part of it is the feeling of helplessness.

A piece of Yuna was actually glad that they had to fight Discord before the Harmony Knights could seal him once and for all - there was something cathartic about it, even though Discord gave as good as he got, but more than that it gave a structure to express their resistance, their denial of Discord's wish for ceaseless chaos.

But even before they could properly celebrate that victory, the Confederate Emperor began spreading his power over the whole Multiverse - denying his mortal origins and reaching for immortality, for a godhood that insulted every tenet of Yuna's own religious beliefs and feelings. She was always somewhat religious, latching onto the practices of Shinto shrine visits at an early age, and finding Buddhism and Christianity to agree with her heart as well.

Elner had told her that there was nothing she could do, nothing she could have *done*, to stop the Confederate Emperor from becoming what he was now … and now, he seems unstoppable by any means within Yuna's power. Even though Yuna is the Savior of Light - the champion of the Queen of Light, the one who's *supposed* to be out there fighting against the ultimate evils, the ultimate symbol of hope and protector of all the innocents throughout the universe - she has to sit this one out, and trust in her allies who have embarked on a mission that may bear the fruit of all their hopes to avert ultimate Confederate victory.

There are things Yuna can do, though. Like she ordered the members of Starlit Hearts, she can do her part to keep hope alive for everyone who doesn't (and will never) choose to live under Confederate rule. She can fight to protect those around her, wherever she is, and stand in defense of her friends' homes.

And she can pray.

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Message: 24/80 Posted Author
When All You Can Do Is Pray (2/2) Fri Jul 27 Yuna Kagurazaka


It's not quite a pilgrimage, but in the course of heading home to protect her native Earth once more, Yuna has ventured to the churches, shrines, and temples that she knows of along the way - sometimes going out of her way to visit other holy sites, either ones that are meaningful to her or ones that are important to her friends; there's a great deal of overlap. Cat God Mountain in Earl; the Hakurei Shrine in Gensokyo; Hikawa Shrine in Makoto's old neighborhood of Juuban; anywhere that she can set foot and feel that the holy beings enshrined there will listen sympathetically to her prayers.

So she goes there, and she prays. She prays to the deities and spirits to whom each place is dedicated; she prays to the kami in whom she believes, and to the Buddha, and to the Christian God; she prays to the Queen of Light, her own patron entity. She prays for herself, asking for strength, wisdom, compassion, and courage; she prays for a heart that remains bright and pure and honest and correct; she prays to continue upholding her duties as the Savior of Light. She prays for the Union, for her friends and allies, and even for those with whom she might not agree. And she prays for the Multiverse, for all those whose only wish is to live peaceful lives free of tyranny and fear.

And in those place where she feels that such a prayer will be heard favorably by the gods and spirits and other powers, she prays silently for the soul of Viridian Sunrise, that he may find redemption and forgiveness, even forgiveness for his efforts to become a god himself.

If all she can do is pray, then she will pray with all her being.

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