Cherry Blossom Procession 4 8

[15:23] <AdEvaGM> [END OF EVANGELION, FINAL SESSION. 1st of December, 2018. Location: The Bay of Biscay, UEF Battlefleet. "Cherry Blossom Procession" 4.5-
[15:25] <AdEvaGM> [Everybody finds love in the end.-
[15:26] <AdEvaGM> [The time bubble had collapsed 40 minutes ago. The Federation fleet was now assembled- the Gendo at the very middle, with the Dorian at the vanguard whilst the Damocles and Bell took up the flanks. The Superheavies had already been launched and the Evangelions were atop deck.-
[15:28] <AdEvaGM> [At the very front of the fleet were the three Evangelions, the first three to see combat: EVA-00, EVA-01, and EVA-04. None of them resembled their original forms except in garish colour and in general shape; since then, modifications both small and large had changed them greatly and permanently. Yet against the odds, the Trinity Evangelions were still here.-
[15:30] <AdEvaGM> [("Marianne Amatore acting as fleet command. To all hands, we have one minute until jaunt.") She switched channels, speaking only to the pilots. ("If anyone would like to say a final speech, now is the time.")]
[15:33] <Raphael> The Peacecraft floated in the void, flanked by the other D-Titans of SOS-1. Its new modifications caught the sunlight and refracted it into a sparkling halo. Inside the cockpit habit made Raphael reach for his pocket, only to realize that the item he was looking for was already gone.
[15:46] * Aline stood resolutely, in her spirit armor sans helmet. She had actually gotten a pair of glasses again, grown out her hair (blame AT Fields)… To look like she once did. To retake her identity. With a stretch of hands and fingers bridged, Aline at first just stretched and got ready. Then, on the comms she went. "Very well. … …Please join me in prayer before your own words." Aline said… oddly. "To the image of God, the
[15:46] * Aline unseen soul this universe lives in, I pray. To the memories of the greatest souls, I pray. To destiny and the end of destiny, I pray. Let us not falter at the final moment and die like dogs. Let us prove humanity has value beyond an accident, that we are, no matter what we were or will be, a special existence. O image of the invisible, grant us good fortune, even though it is we who make our fortune. Let not the temptation
[15:46] * Aline of destined domination consume our kind. Let not despair consume our hearts. Let not foolish short-sightedness, or delirium of misshapen future, cloud our vision. Let not the misguided aims of our mothers prevent us, the Children, from becoming who we must be! Let the endless eternity behind us show our way… even as the birth of new souls gives us Will we had not before. Though I am no goddess and have created no world,
[15:46] * Aline these hands still carry hope. As I pray, my whole life has been the end of eternity."
[15:48] <AdEvaGM> [Somewhere in the Damocles, Augustine hears the words and smiles.]
[15:51] * Sept was sitting down a short ways away, quite still, holding his hands together and looking forward, a concentrated expression on his face. He didn't feel like making speeches, or even using the radio, for that matter.-
[15:51] <Sept> "Well said. Be ready for anything."
[15:56] <Yanmei> "Agreed," Yanmei said, within the group itself. "It's very inspiring."
[15:59] <Raphael> Raphael switched to the private band. "I might've skipped the part about not dying, but you'd all better stick by it regardless."
[15:59] <Aline> "It can't /all/ be rainbows and unicorns. …Also just don't die /like dogs/. Metaphorically. Dogs are cute."
[16:00] * Yanmei chuckled a little and cleared her throat. She had spent the trip thus far with her best face on. Smooth launch. Calm dignity. Her violet hair had been pulled back in a single braid that stood out against the glossy black armor she wore. A matching black helm was tucked under one arm. "I'll be brief? We all know what the stakes are, and our reasons for being here, and the losses
[16:00] * Yanmei we've suffered to make it this far. This next fight, however it plays out, will be brutal and probably confusing. The aftermath, once we've finally laid down our weapons, may be the same? But I believe that's the nature of taking our destiny into our own hands." She paused, frowning slightly.
[16:01] <Yanmei> "We'll overcome whatever bitterness and fear we're facing down now in the moment, and we're going to claw out a better future for ourselves. And that's that."
[16:03] <AdEvaGM> ["And that's that." Said Marianne to herself. She nodded.-
[16:06] <Raphael> He didn't bother to transmit it, but Raphael murmured a quiet "Yes, ma'am," to himself. Clad in their heavy control gauntlets, his hands gently closed into fists.
[16:06] * Aline slowly bowed her head. "In the end it's our world, yes. …Time to lead from the front, Yan-Yan."
[16:07] * Sept stayed quiet, rubbing his gloved hands together slowly.
[16:08] <AdEvaGM> ["Fleet Command to all hands. I'll see you on the other side. Jaunt in five, four, three, two, one-"-
[16:08] <AdEvaGM> [The Eva cores of the Dorian, Gendo and Damocles all synched- and created a jaunt of epic dimensions.-
[16:09] <AdEvaGM> [For a moment, all was silent.-
[16:09] <AdEvaGM> [And when they re-emerged into realspace, it was under a dusky sky. The sun had hidden its face and the stars were starting to come out.-
[16:10] <AdEvaGM> [Beneath them lay Nairobi-2, the empty facade of the Synfront.-
[16:10] <AdEvaGM> ["Status report." Said Marianne.-
[16:10] <AdEvaGM> ["All forces present and accounted for." Said Sophie. "No reaction from static defenses."-
[16:11] <AdEvaGM> ["We're picking up enemy signals… Six MP Evangelions and nine E-Destroyers. All mass-produced."-
[16:12] <AdEvaGM> ["Is that it?" Said Marianne. "I knew they'd be unprepared, but this is embarrassing. Spearhead, commence assault! Keep your eyes peeled, everyone; the welcoming committe might be throwing a surprise party."-
[16:13] <AdEvaGM> [On the bridge of the Dorian, Alphonse, sitting in the captain's chair, nodded. "Take us in! Evangelions in defensive positions, Superheavies to intercept. We're going to burrow into the Synfront with the drill. Boarding torpedo crews- that includes you pilots, Yanmei, Aline, Sera- be ready to be launched."-
[16:14] <AdEvaGM> [The six Mass Production Evangelions emerged from behind buildings. Two of them opened fire with cannons, whilst four leapt forward with lances in hand. Yet there was a curious sluggishness to them, as though they were seeing the world half a second too late.]
[16:23] <Raphael> "Sniper teams, bring down the the artillery pieces. Everyone else, follow me," Raphael called, pulling the Peaceknight a lightning fast bomb-dive that ended with one armoured foot crashing against the barrier of one of the lance-wielding MPs, stalling it. By the time it recovered he was already in the centre of the pack, beam swords flashing.-
[16:23] <Raphael> "Isolate and mark them for the heavy weapons."
[16:30] <Sept> EVA-01 was not far behind, swerving back and forth slightly, ready to flit forward while keeping all of the battle in his field of vision. As one of the other MP-Evas made a move towards the Peaceknight's group, 01 rammed into it, grabbed it by its sword-wielding arm and swung his positron sword at it. The Eva deflected once, but with the second blow, the sword embedded itself in its skull,
[16:30] <Sept> rendering it helpless. Sera let it fall, to be finished off by someone else.
[16:32] <Aline> "I'll make a screen. Do try to herd them into…" Aline quickly used her synch to cause 00 to designate a coordinate area, even as the imagined image of the zone flashed before her eyes. Her helmet was setting itself on. "All units, avoid the redzone if you value being in one piece." Said redzone was a weird, haphazard mess of disjoint firezones that seemed to follow no possible single artillery spread. But as 00's glowing wings
[16:32] <Aline> spread, the beast's unnatural level of evolution even by Eva standards showing in the sheer grandeur of the wingspan and lighted pinions? …There was a sensation of AT Fields reaching out… and then holes. …She was forming breaches! Multiple breaches, a convoluted mess of portals that, if you looked… explained the redzones Aline marked on the tactical map being so weird. But even as 00 settled on the far end of an enemy
[16:32] <Aline> formation - almost daring them to come at her for how far she appeared to overreach? …The thing's mouth opened, and a familiar keening wail and flash of blood crimson radiance and black unlight formed in a halo around it. "Godslayer deploying." …A painful whoosh of air, and then a violent curtain of beautifully-patterned blasts flowed out. And into the breaches, which added looping arms to the insane mandala of death. And the
[16:32] <Aline> breaches started to move, catching enemies as they ran from the main assault or tried to atack! Sera's foe had fallen down right as a breach coasted by, the merciless swarm of bolts chewing the weakened prey with all the mercy of starved pirhanas.
[16:38] <Yanmei> 04, who had been in the process of neatly bisecting one of the MP units with its ominously glowing sword, suddenly switched tactics, punting the hapless unit into one of the breaches and bouncing clear itself. It made a rumbling noise in the back of its throat… a vaguely dissatisfied sound.
[16:39] <AdEvaGM> [Half the enemy force more or less died immediately beneath that opening.-
[16:40] <AdEvaGM> [Blurred bolts of positron seared past Raphael, striking the buildings and roads around the shooting MPs, flushing them out.-
[16:41] <AdEvaGM> [A second later, he felt the rise and fall of an E-Destroyer engine as three members of Fox Squadron descended upon the enemy.-
[16:42] <AdEvaGM> [Hikari strafed an Eva, shooting it with a pulse rifle; Toji punched through its AT Field, grabbed its rifle and began wrenching it away. The Eva dumbly tugged back, descending into an ignoble tug-of-war…-
[16:42] <AdEvaGM> [Which ended with Keita dropping out of the air, driving both of his swords straight through its neck, down through the torso.-
[16:43] <AdEvaGM> [He pulled his swords free, letting the MP Eva topple over, its torso peeling open like an overripe banana.-
[16:44] <AdEvaGM> [The last remaining MP Eva turned to-and-fro fretfully, firing haphazardly. Suddenly it broke and ran.-
[16:44] <AdEvaGM> [Another Superheavy dove from the sky and caught it in the back with a kick: the Entelechy Pegasus, piloted by Sarah Holt-Caine.-
[16:45] <AdEvaGM> [As the MP Eva leapt to its feet, she levelled her oversized triple-barreled rotary positron autocannon at it and fired. Within seconds, its torso had been utterly pulped.-
[16:46] <AdEvaGM> ["Damn." Whistled Duker, landing a second later, having to regretfully cool his fist.-
[16:47] <AdEvaGM> ["The airspace is clear." Said Alphonse. "The Dorian is beginning its assault!"-
[16:47] <AdEvaGM> [And so the Dorian fell.-
[16:48] <AdEvaGM> [The AT Field was focused around the front so as to absorb the force of the impact. The drill began spinning up about a hundred metres from the surface.-
[16:48] <AdEvaGM> [When it finally landed, the speed of the Dorian was enough to create an explosive geyser of dirt, metal, concrete and asphalt two kilometres high.-
[16:50] <AdEvaGM> [The drill ate through the superficial surface of Nairobi-2 with ease. The Dorian as a whole, however, began to slow as the drill bit into the reinforced surface of the Synfront.-
[16:50] <AdEvaGM> [But only slightly.-
[16:51] <AdEvaGM> [With a minute of screaming, tortured metal and the burning of positrons, the Dorian broke through the defensive shell of the Synfront.-
[16:55] <AdEvaGM> [Inside the drill torpedoes, the turbulence was severe- yet manageable.-
[16:55] <AdEvaGM> ["Hell fucking yes." Said Terry, bouncing in his seat. "I'M GONNA GET FUCKING FIRED OUT OF A GIANT DRILL!"-
[16:55] <AdEvaGM> [(The bouncing was not because of turbulence.)-
[16:56] <AdEvaGM> [The drill spun down.-
[16:57] <AdEvaGM> [Once it was stationary, it then began to open up like a flower, receding back into the ship's hull. Beneath the drill were 36 torpedo bays, each organised into six revolver-style arrangements.-
[16:57] <AdEvaGM> ["Launching torpedoes in three, two, one-"]
[16:58] <Aline> Under her helmet, Aline closed her eyes. "It begins."
[16:59] <Raphael> [22:16] <Minaplo> [Ritsuko let out a world-weary sigh. "I just described an incredible system by which a nearly two kilometre long warship might tunnel beneath the earth, but sure, it's a giant flying phallus."]
[17:01] * Sept was still focused on muttering something to himself, but it was far from audible.
[17:03] * Yanmei was poised and silent behind her helmet.
[17:04] <AdEvaGM> ["I'm gonna get fired out of a giant drill." Whispered Kaiden in terror. "I only wanted to be an engineer-"-
[17:04] <AdEvaGM> [The torpedoes launched.-
[17:04] <AdEvaGM> [There were two seconds of weightlessness-
[17:04] <AdEvaGM> [Then a very long second of utter jarring impact.-
[17:05] <AdEvaGM> [Each and every occupant was smashed against their seats, their very bones vibrating with the force of the impact as their giant hollow bullet smashed home and the explosive tip detonated through the Synfront pyramid's hull.-
[17:05] <AdEvaGM> [They were left, dazed, momentarily confused, maybe even blinded by the sheer force.-
[17:06] <AdEvaGM> ["A perfect landing." Said Alphonse. "All ground units- move out!"]
[17:13] <Sept> It took Sera a few moments to find the buckle in that confusion, but eventually he extricated himself from his seat. He exhaled, stood up and clapped his hands together violently. "Alright, let's go!"
[17:14] * Yanmei abruptly cut off a long string of quiet, nasty swears. "We're coming, already!" she snapped, struggling out of her seat and adjusting her helm so that she could see again.
[17:15] * Aline had cheated. She had pulled up a field to try to dampen the force on herself. …She rattled, she shook and jolted… but eyes soon snapped open. The buckle was undone in a quick-if-awkward grab, and the girl - as much as you could even tell she was one under that strange, organic bone-white armor - stood up, flexing at her weapon. "Yeah, yeah. Get it going!"
[17:17] <AdEvaGM> [They exited the torpedo and were soon joined by their conventional forces: battle-hardened Marines, Australians, Clan Guards, Legionnaires, US Rangers…-
[17:18] <AdEvaGM> [The Honour Guard formed up around Yanmei, whilst Aline was soon joined by her Phantoms.-
[17:19] <AdEvaGM> [Sera had, to his credit, a cadre of French Legionnaires that formed up behind him, all wearing scout power armour.-
[17:20] <AdEvaGM> [Terry and Kaiden split off together, leading a mixed force of Guard and Rangers to secure the Synfront hangars.-
[17:21] <AdEvaGM> [Shinji went off on his own, followed by some V-Commandos, Legionnaires, Marines and a few Guard, in order to secure the Synfront power grid.-
[17:21] <AdEvaGM> [Which left Misato and her retinue to take command of HQ.-
[17:21] <AdEvaGM> [Yanmei, Aline and Sera had the most difficult task: find Mary Caine and bring her down.-
[17:22] <AdEvaGM> ["Good luck." Said Misato, wearing jump armour. She snapped the three pilots a salute… Then quickly dragged Aline and Yanmei into a hug before running off.-
[17:23] <AdEvaGM> [The Trinity were in a strange place. They had maps, which they could follow… But where to start looking for Mary?-
[17:23] <AdEvaGM> [But after a little bit of progress, they'd run into Stormtroopers. But not enemies.-
[17:25] <AdEvaGM> [A High Marshal- one of Mary's Iron Guard elite leaders- was waiting for the Trinity. He removed his helmet; he was black, with short dark brown hair and grey eyes. "Admiral Mgcuka." He said, snapping them a salute. "I represent the defecting forces, sirs. We've taken the static defenses offline and our divisions await further orders."]
[17:28] * Yanmei stepped forward and returned the salute. "Admiral. This is a pleasant surprise. If you'll give me one moment to contact our command…"
[17:30] * Sept was happy to see the Stormtroopers take the initiative, but kept quiet while guarding the rear with the Legionnaires.
[17:31] <Aline> A thing Aline had done, was inform her phantoms to engage a strategem. One she had named. Had trained them for. 'Shadow Watch'. …They were all cloaked, to the one, and maintaining telepathy. …The basic idea was to filter around the general area of a conventional or at least non-phantom formation, and act as eyes and ears. …So Aline seemed, to the stormtroopers, to have no army of her own. But, she nodded her head. "Yes… Thank
[17:31] <Aline> you for this."
[17:32] <AdEvaGM> [Yanmei would be easily able to contact Misato. "This is ground command."]
[17:34] <Yanmei> "Hi Command. We've met with one of the defectors. Can we confirm that he's one of Ezra's? An Admiral Mgcuka."
[17:34] <AdEvaGM> ["Yeah, he's on the list."-
[17:34] <AdEvaGM> ["Of people whose asses I've kicked!"-
[17:34] <AdEvaGM> ["… But he's clear, yeah, sorry."]
[17:37] * Yanmei gave a wry smile. "Yes, thanks command. We'll see if we can get him to give us some directions, and then you can place him and his guys where they are needed. They've already taken down a lot of the static defenses."
[17:39] <AdEvaGM> ["Good work."]
[17:40] * Aline mostly just turned directly to Mgcuka, seeming to nod. "I assume you know the scope of what we have to deal with. Avoid big AT threats if you can help it. I'm thinking… Yanmei can and should overrule, but my basic suggestion would be mostly to hold ground and cut off escape routes. Supporting Feds if seen, of course. …If more could defect… …well. Not killing them…" She looked to one side. "Mn. …Either way,
[17:40] * Aline numbers, coordination, and experience like yours. Best used in that fashion."
[17:43] <Yanmei> "Command is control of this operation, not me," Yanmei reminded her. "Still, I don't see anything wrong with your suggestions."
[17:43] <Aline> "…point."
[17:45] <Yanmei> "As for the directions… our destination is simple. We need to find Caine. Could you help us do that, Admiral?"
[17:46] * Aline was muttering. "Considering the whole Drive kerfluffle knocked her out…"
[17:47] <AdEvaGM> ["We've been seeking her as well." Said Mgcuka. "Resistance is stiffest in the deep bunker tunnels, far below where we are now. We haven't been able to disable the Dirac Jamming network- we don't know where it is- so your ability to scout with breaches is limited. So we have to assume she's somewhere in the bunker tunnels…"-
[17:48] <AdEvaGM> ["But those tunnels were built to protect humanity in the event of a worldwide disaster. There's thousands down there, not to mention millions of stasis pods to keep people in suspended animation."]
[17:50] <Yanmei> "I see? Thank you. It sounds tough, but this is a starting point that we otherwise wouldn't have knowledge about."
[17:52] * Aline nodded as well. "…Then our best hope is in human behavior. …Kouroush would be of help there. What would the people closest to Mary do with her… Where would be seen as the most secure part? Surely not all tunnels are equal, and they'd have prioriies like misdirection, or defensibility, or escape routes."
[17:53] <Sept> "Before Mary, we can focus on the remaining resistance forces. They have to have a command center somewhere, right? Getting there would solve a lot of problems."
[17:56] <AdEvaGM> ["We took Synfront Command early on. If they have leadership, it's deep in the tunnels too." Said Mgcuka.]
[17:57] <Sept> "Is that something we can locate through technical means without systematic sweeps? Trace down their signals?"
[17:58] <Aline> "Heat? Human fields?"
[18:00] <AdEvaGM> ["The deeper tunnels are heavily shielded against external sensors." Said Mgcuka. "But I can find you the plans for the tunnels, and your Intelligence can identify possible locations."]
[18:03] <Yanmei> "Good. Let's first get you set up on the right channel so you can communicate with command directly, and then we'll get down to doing just that."
[18:04] <Sept> "It'll be just like raiding the catacombs, right?"
[18:04] <Aline> "Writ very, very large."
[18:05] <AdEvaGM> […-
[18:06] <AdEvaGM> [Command- which is to say, Kourosh- had time to oversee the plans. He tapped three locations.-
[18:06] <AdEvaGM> [Two of them were basic bunkers, picked seemingly at random. But the third wasn't even on a map. He had tapped blank space.-
[18:06] <AdEvaGM> [But he had explained:-
[18:06] <AdEvaGM> ["This is where she keeps the great Eternity Chamber, the one we thought was the heart of the Drive."-
[18:07] <AdEvaGM> [But to get there on foot…-
[18:08] <AdEvaGM> [Meant going through a chokepoint. There was only one way into the superstructure holding the bunkers. And that way was held by loyalists.]
[18:09] <Yanmei> "We'll just have to fight our way through." Yanmei punched an open palm with her fist.
[18:12] <Sept> "Ready when you are."
[18:12] <Aline> "…Fight in clever ways, but fight. …All I ask is that you be a very loud distraction." Aline said, before… shifting her AT Field and vanishing. "Lead the way. We will follow."
[18:13] <AdEvaGM> […-
[18:14] <AdEvaGM> [The loyalists were well-entrenched. Companies of Stormtroopers were embedded behind surovite half-walls, whilst AC Suits bearing heavy weapons flooded the avenues of approach with lethal pulse fire.]
[18:27] * Yanmei was, for a change, using her own AT Field as well. "Stick to the plan!" she hissed over her shoulder at her Honor Guard, and hopped into sight with Excalibur raised. A blast of heat and force rushed out at the nearest AC suit. It wasn't enough to topple it outright, but there was a delayed reaction from its pilot as it scrabbled to regain its balance. -
[18:33] <Yanmei> It was just enough time for two or three hooting Iron Guards to rush it, lift the flaming vehicle, and chuck it a fair distance… into another AC Suit. At the resulting explosion, the rest of them burst into cheers, while Yanmei settled on the next target.
[18:39] <Sept> As soon as the pulse fire was quieted, the Legionnaires emerged from cover, led by Sera with a barrier field. The roaring horde crossed the distance with swords and pulse pistols drawn, and as they reached the first line of fallen AC Suits, Sera hoisted the Lance of Cassius, unfurling a tricolor flag tied to its base. "LIBERTÉ, YOU FUCKERS!" Sera screamed over the din as the group crashed
[18:39] <Sept> into the bulk of the Stormtroopers, the Lance soon finding itself awash in the blood of the impure. The Legionnaires fought hard, cutting through the troopers in a steady wave.
[18:39] * Aline had glided into their ranks on air, an entire legion of flying invisible figures coasting and ghosting above the fray. While Guard and Yanmei - entities Aline is beginning to have trouble telling some differences between - raged at the front? Aline was turning around to the back. Unseen, and cloaked by technology and field alike? Aline's phantoms moved over, and even onto, AC suits. Glided near cover points. By the time Sera
[18:39] * Aline lead hes charge…? -
[18:41] <Aline> - It was far too late. A crackle of ECM chaff and vast cloud of dark smoke began to roll into the middle of the enemy formation. And the lights. Red blinking lights, suddenly lit up like demonic christmas decorations. Suit after suit… …Had had phantom-grade det-charges placed on it. By the time you saw the light, you were already… Well. I said it.
[18:41] <Aline> - Far, far too late. Boom.
[19:00] <AdEvaGM> [It didn't take long for the Stormtroopers to buckle.-
[19:00] <AdEvaGM> [They had been professionals and veterans, used to fighting Angelspawn. Yet this…-
[19:02] <AdEvaGM> [They ran, screaming, panicking, throwing down their arms. Many began to surrender, yet some fought grimly on- and were slain.-
[19:02] <AdEvaGM> [The barricaded doors meant nothing to the Trinity. They were removed within seconds.-
[19:02] <AdEvaGM> ["I can see we were right to defect." Muttered Mgcuka over the comms.-
[19:02] <AdEvaGM> [… Then something strange happened, as they stood on a field of gore, unopposed.-
[19:03] <AdEvaGM> ["… Yanmei? We've lost contact with Shinji, Kaiden and Terry. And-"-
[19:03] <AdEvaGM> [But something would draw their attention away from Misato's voice.-
[19:03] <AdEvaGM> [Two little plumes of black smoke rose out of the ground.-
[19:04] <AdEvaGM> [One headed for Sera, the other Aline. They curled around their bodies and throats, before suddenly forcing their way into their mouths- helmets and AT Fields were no obstacle.-
[19:05] <AdEvaGM> [Before they could properly react, sensation flooded their bodies and drove them to their knees…]
[19:07] <Yanmei> "Wh-" Yanmei was on full alert, Excalibur held at the ready. "What was that?! You guys, are you okay?"
[19:11] * Aline had been on her knees yes. Feeling… something assert inside of her. Inside… "It…" She sounded dizzy, and staggered a bit back up to her feet. "…Something… new." She paused, thinking. The knowledge of Lilith's secrets she learned as Primarch. Of souls, of… "The gifts. Ancestral powers."
[19:12] * Sept fell forward to his knees and had to keep one hand out to keep himself from fully faceplanting. He breathed heavily for a few moments before getting back up with a bit of effort.-
[19:12] <Sept> "Uh… huh. So, she's awake."
[19:13] <Aline> "…Didn't…" Aline suddenly hopped onto the comms. "QUESTION FOR TECHNICAL." Aline asked. "Where did the A-Type powers GO?"
[19:13] <AdEvaGM> [But before Aline could be answered, the Synfront began to tremble.]
[19:15] <Aline> "!" …Somehow, Aline pronounced that.
[19:16] * Yanmei braced herself. "If either of you are doing this, then stop it!"
[19:17] <Aline> "No, I'm not!" Aline complained, even as herself - and decloaking phantoms - started to wobble around with the increasing seismic force.
[19:20] <AdEvaGM> ["This is ground command. We're… We're rising."]
[19:20] <Sept> "J-just hold on to something, and stay by the walls!"
[19:21] <Aline> "R-right!" Aline said, starting to do just that with phantoms basically mobbing the area around her. "…Rising? Rising. … …The synfront and its tunnels… shouldn't be able to. Is it… …but. Wait. … …" Aline had the look of someone who was considering something but didn't want to believe it.
[19:23] <Aline> - …Even with her helmet on.
[19:25] * Yanmei too scrabbled for the walls, with the Iron Guards doing the same.
[19:31] <AdEvaGM> [The process took about a minute, maybe a little longer.-
[19:31] <AdEvaGM> [Then the ground stilled.-
[19:35] <AdEvaGM> [Aline would feel it first- a little bit of pressure at the edge of her scope of awareness.-
[19:35] <AdEvaGM> [Pressure dissolving into solid, identifiable entities.-
[19:36] <AdEvaGM> [She would have twenty seconds to warn them: a Phantom assault was incoming.]
[19:39] * Aline sensed it around her. All around. "Enemy Phantoms!" She yelled, and … … held out a hand. Even as her field began to unfurl into a protective bubble - bunker field… even as her own phantoms were soon moving, desperately scrambling to circle around the Trinity and their other troops? …A sensation charged the air, as if Aline was readying a response she needed time to work on.
[19:46] <Sept> "Anti-Phantom weapons! Defensive formation!" Sera got up, trying to find somewhere he could disrupt as much of the attack as possible.
[19:50] <Yanmei> "How many are we looking at? Honor Guard, stay alert!"
[19:50] <Aline> "Not sure. Lots!" Aline muttered rather frantically!
[19:50] <AdEvaGM> [… … …-
[19:50] <AdEvaGM> [The doors burst open.-
[19:51] <AdEvaGM> [Twelve Phantom AC Suits- lithe, graceful, and lethally fast- led the charge with burning lances. Behind them came a flood of Phantoms, Knights and Adepts. Easily hundreds.-
[19:51] <AdEvaGM> [Or thousands.]
[20:03] <Aline> With a desperate grunt, Aline started to move forward. In the heartbeats passing by during her stride… Cauchemar Blanc, phantoms with white shoulder stripes on their metal-luster armor, had not only moved to form a perimeter, but had raised barrier fields. One after another - none as strong as any of the Trinity's, or as the Adepts'… but they were more than just armor. Those same beats saw a different squad with black stripes -
[20:03] <Aline> Reve Noir - pulling out heavy weapons from caches and backpacks, all those strange, exotic phantom man-portable heavy pieces. Their subcommander was silently gliding about, and you could feel the tension of a bunch of AT Fields bending around weaponry…! -
[20:05] <Aline> - Aline herself? That outstretched hand suddenly saw sharp, glowing lines surging from it. …It was the material of her lash, formed from the very air! A fistful of different fibers began to cast out and wrap, searching for suits to grab onto, soldiers to tangle! …But such numbers and agiliy were giving her pause.
[20:06] * Sept took his fair share of hits for the Legionnaires - he got in the Phantoms' way where he could, skewering an Adept here, knocking a Frenchman out of harm's way there - but it was only to buy time. As their numbers dwindled, Sera ordered a tighter formation, until there was nothing left but a final charge to let the remainder rejoin Yanmei's group after the flood had split them for
[20:06] * Sept a moment. But that remainder consisted of Sera alone, his shield bent to near uselessness. But he continued to fight tooth and nail for every life taken.
[20:08] <Aline> …The assault that came was buckling on those barriers, too. Once the enemy realized Aline's gambit? …the guardians started being focus-fired by one team or suit or another. Buckling became shattering, as the vanguard rushed to use what they had left with no field, to protect Sera, Yanmei, and Aline. Their bodies.
[20:14] <Yanmei> The Honor Guard were rushing forward too. They went in with high spirits, brawling and cheering, and had even gotten a few more record-breaking AC Suit throws in before they started getting beaten back and resorting to more conventional tactics. Yanmei was in the midst of it, the inverted light from her sword a constant specticle from beginning to end of the fight, blazing here and slicing
[20:14] <Yanmei> there. Slowly, the crowd began to thin…
[20:27] <AdEvaGM> [… And eventually the tide receded, leaving far fewer living than it had at first.-
[20:29] <AdEvaGM> [The remaining Phantoms- who numbered merely in the handful- were too injured to keep fighting. Yet still they struggled to grab guns and swords and fight.-
[20:29] <AdEvaGM> [… And this time, Yanmei would feel it.-
[20:29] <AdEvaGM> [Not as an AT Field resonance, but as a sixth sense, a whiff of terror.-
[20:29] <AdEvaGM> [The sound of a long weapon knocking against a wall.-
[20:30] <AdEvaGM> [Footsteps that made no sound yet shook in her very gut.-
[20:30] <AdEvaGM> [They turned around.-
[20:30] <AdEvaGM> [Facing the Trinity were three figures.-
[20:30] <AdEvaGM> [Solomon Scholastica, Solomon Agatha and Solomon Joan.-
[20:31] <AdEvaGM> [They wore their helmets. Yet Yanmei could feel the sick, sour rage roiling off of Joan. She had been so close…-
[20:31] <AdEvaGM> [Their weapons flared to life.-
[20:31] <AdEvaGM> [This would be the last battle between the Trinity and their clones.]
[14:24] * Yanmei scoffed, standing up straight. She had been looking off to the messy battlefield, catching her breath and stewing at the fallen UEF soldiers until she had felt their approach. "And what's got you all murdery this time?" she demanded, eying Joan. She tilted her head back and smirked every so slightly. "Oh. Don't tell me. These Phantoms weren't yours were they?"
[14:26] <Aline> "Don't bother." Aline quipped, sliding her lash around to face the Solomons, now. "If I were to guess, they're either being controlled, too tweaked by something to even register the smacktalk, or just are here /because/. I'd love if you guys could tell me none of those are true in a way unrelated to 'but we'll murder you anyway'." Flick. "But. I'm not optimistic."
[14:28] <Sept> "Well," Sera said flatly. "We tried. Let's kick their asses."
[14:33] <AdEvaGM> ["The others are being controlled." Said Scholastica, over Joan's wailing shriek of rage. Aline could smell Scholastica's smirk.-
[14:33] <AdEvaGM> ["But I don't need to be told to murder lilim. Not this day and not ever." Said Scholastica, raising her crozier.]
[14:35] <Aline> Aline raised the non-lash finger. As a rhetorical gesture. "…I'd say at length how unsatisfying that is, despite being a slight relief? …But well. Waste of time, and you'd likely agree."
[14:36] <AdEvaGM> ["Why do you care so much?"]
[15:16] * Aline focused her gaze, unseen face to unseen face. "It is in my nature." Aline said, and twitched slightly. The twitch… was then revealed to be moving into that classic palm-up, fingers-closing gesture. The 'come at me, bro' gesture.
[15:21] <AdEvaGM> ["The only thing natural to a lilim is death." Said Scholastica. "If you don't believe me, I can always show you Ikari's body… It's still warm, you know."]
[15:23] * Aline paused. …Something in her gut had to have already known. Some over-paced logic leap had already concluded it. …But to hear it now? "…You want this? Have it then." Cold. The lash suddenly unfurled with a simple flick, and now the double-helix was storming towards Scholastica, as Aline tensed for a rush!
[15:26] <AdEvaGM> [Scholastica vanished into thin air- reappearing about 50 metres away. She lowered her staff-head toward Aline…]
[15:28] <Aline> The lash pulled back, in time for Aline to jump up, and not just give chase? …But give chase with a veritable cacophony of AT Field effects, essentially a giant stream of space-rending /garbage/ heading at the other Solomon. "Well?! Lead on then, death-fanatic!"
[15:30] <AdEvaGM> [Scholastica half flew, half threw herself clear of the dimensional deathball. It tore its way through deck and corridor, leave gashes and breaches across a handful of decks.-
[15:30] <AdEvaGM> [Scholastica fired a ray of magma at Aline's way, shooting from the hip; then she dove into the breach, away from Aline and her wrath.]
[15:32] <Aline> And like with her own blast and Scholastica's maneuvers, Aline managed to dodge just enough for a black stain to scorch into her white armor from grazing along the ray… It mended as she went, flying, darting! Pulses of plasmatic air poured out of her field as soon as she rounded the corner of the breach. …Whose life did she even need to spare, after all?
[15:33] <AdEvaGM> [And Scholastica had been waiting of course, throwing out a cross blast the instant Aline had appeared.-
[15:34] <AdEvaGM> [But she didn't aim this time either, barely dodging the plasmatic bolts- and some she didn't dodge at all. They burned through her armour and flesh, leaving her shrieking in pain even as it regenerated in quicktime. Again she fled, punching down through a half-damaged floor into the great room below.-
[15:35] <AdEvaGM> [The great power generation grid of the Synfront. A bird's nest of towers, reactors, gantries and blind spots.]
[15:37] <Aline> Burning past, Aline once again had to peel off to get at best a grazing blow, simply for the sheer scope of the attack - teeth ground together as the sensation of skin lightly cooking under layers of removing armor hit her, only for her too to regenerate. …And now saw where she was headed into. Eyes flicking around, trying to see where Scholastica went…!
[15:38] <AdEvaGM> [And she saw her, streaking through the gantries and archways, up towards the top of the complex!]
[15:40] <Aline> Taking quick stock of the situation… Climbing. High ground! …But as it all whirred through Aline's head, she was instead hopping to other reactors and gantries, climbing up, but more importantly, away. Keep her in sight, keep your distance. Explosions need aim! And while backing off, Aline's field continued to work, as projectiles of burning heat flowed out of it in a steady rhythm, one after another after another.
[15:41] <AdEvaGM> [The bolts slowed Scholastica down, although not completely- but it did the job of keeping her reined in.-
[15:41] <AdEvaGM> [Here and there, another bolt hit Scholastica, burning through armour and flesh and eliciting a shriek of pain.-
[15:42] <AdEvaGM> [Thus when Scholastica stopped, she hadn't put quite as much space between herself and Aline as she'd liked.-
[15:43] <AdEvaGM> [Nonetheless she turned, her crosier raised. It began to glow with a resentful red light- a light that quickly changed into a spray of small red pulse bolts. The spray became a hailing rainstorm of bolts, a nigh-imepentrable energy curtain.]
[15:46] <Aline> Blam. Blam. Aline could hear each shot echoing, and now it was her turn to scramble! At first it was dodging while her own storm sustained, red meeting the orange-amber of more 'general' AT projectiles. But one, then two, then more hits registered! If she wasn't careful this'd outpace her regeneration… Aline - gasping in pain herself - eventually backed behind a deactivated reactor, pulling up a barrier shield just in time for the
[15:46] <Aline> full curtain to roll in! -
[15:47] <Aline> Behind cover, Aline panted, holding her field as best she could. …Even then, it wasn't enough. A hand of hers rested on the wall of the machine, as it began to glimmer in the hue of solid sigilite, starting to recombine, collapse into ablative layers, and fortify. -
[15:47] <Aline> Aline's sight fell on the curtain she was hiding from, now. …There had to be a way through…
[15:48] <AdEvaGM> [The shower of bolts was only intensifying- although most simply bounced off Aline's sigilite bunker.-
[15:48] <AdEvaGM> [But now that she had a moment, she saw it- the strange, slow but definite pattern of the curtain, swirling in a clockwise direction. Scholastica was expending all of her field on the offense…]
[15:53] <Aline> /…That's it, then. Typical Scholastica.// Aline thought. She timed it, even as there were subtle reshapings of her makeshift bunker. …Knead it off of the anchoring points. …Spread it a bit. …Yes. That'll do. Bearing it with her own hands, Aline hoisted it up. Then. …Then put her own energy into a sudden, forceful shove! It was sent spinning, and her own flight kicked in. Forceful, forceful. But at the right moment? …Aline
[15:53] <Aline> poked her head out, and damningly did so right inside the ebb of that spiral. Where nothing hit. "You overextended!" CRACK. From an outstretched hand, Aline fired a searing golden ray, and it was aimed right at the heart of the pattern - at Scholastica!
[15:54] <AdEvaGM> [The golden beam shot, gleaming, through the air. Scholastica saw it coming- but only just.-
[15:55] <AdEvaGM> [She juked to the left- and caught it square on the right shoulder.-
[15:55] <AdEvaGM> [The shoulder didn't stand a chance. One second it was there, the instant it and the entire arm had been completely vapourised, a spray of pinkish hot mist filling the air. Scholastica fell, shrieking in agony-
[15:56] <AdEvaGM> [But before Aline could move, the ground beneath her shook.-
[15:56] <AdEvaGM> [She would have less than a second to see it: the reactors around her, which Scholastica had been hitting all this time. Enough energy in here to vaporise a Superheavy and cut the leg off an Evangelion.-
[15:56] <AdEvaGM> [They exploded.-
[15:56] <AdEvaGM> [Aline's bunker saved her life.-
[15:57] <AdEvaGM> [But it didn't hold fast. The sheer release of energy overwhelmed her senses and filled her body with pain, stunning her completely. The ground beneath her gave way; she fell, and a second later slammed hard into concrete.-
[15:58] <AdEvaGM> [When the smoke cleared, she would see Scholastica standing over her, rage emanating off her frame, her staff directly under Aline's chin.-
[15:58] <AdEvaGM> [It was already crackling with energy.]
[15:59] * Aline …stared up. Under her breath, she just muttered the only thing she could think of. Nothing fancy or dignified.
[15:59] <Aline> "Shit."
[16:01] <AdEvaGM> […-
[16:16] <AdEvaGM> [Agatha was already moving.-
[16:17] <AdEvaGM> [She grabbed a Legionnaire's body and threw it up in front of her, using it as a shield as she bolted down the corridor. She ducked into a side-bunker, the door left open behind her.]
[16:20] * Sept couldn't let her go — the risk of Agatha ambushing any one of them would be devastating. He had to stick to her and trust the others.-
[16:22] <Sept> "Yanmei! Follow me once you're done here!" Sera took off after Agatha, AT field focused in all-out defense as he passed through the doorway, holding his lance close by him.
[16:25] <AdEvaGM> [The moment he entered, he was assaulted by a host of flying daggers.-
[16:25] <AdEvaGM> [Agatha stood in a storage bunker, crates and flotsam strewn around her, knocked loose in the elevation.]
[16:30] * Sept quickly tumbled further into the room, some of the daggers bouncing off his AT field, others inflicting superficial cuts. But he immediately stood back up into a defensive stance, staring down Agatha.-
[16:31] <Sept> "So, we've both had our fun, and this is what we've come to. What's it gonna be?"
[16:33] <AdEvaGM> [With a cry of anguish, Agatha grabbed a heavy crate, full of pulse rifles, and threw it at Sera. Before it could even reach him, she'd thrown a second, and a third.-
[16:33] <AdEvaGM> [Then she picked up the legionnaire and threw him like a javelin.]
[16:39] * Sept took his right hand off the lance and stepped into motion - he sidestepped the first crate, stuck his right arm in a Dirac cache and, in one fluid motion, brought the arm back out clad in his old friend the Power Claw. He carried that momentum into an AT-enhanced blow against the second crate, rending its reinforced face and sending it backwards into the third one. Sera was about to charge ahead when the legionnaire husk struck him, catching him off guard and forcing him to stumble back, barely keeping his balance.-
[16:41] <Sept> He panted, his posture crooked as the weight of the oversized claws on his right hand weighed him down. "What, you waiting for something? You want to enjoy this a bit longer? END IT!!"
[16:42] <AdEvaGM> [The air around Agatha burst a bright, momentary blue. She had the legionnaire's sword; she held it up, point extended, and charged Sera down with it, flashing her time bubble the moment he was in range.]
[16:49] <Sept> And to Sera, it seemed Agatha's charge had accelerated at an inhuman speed. But he was prepared enough. With effort, he moved his left hand, still holding the Lance, and held it in front of him. The Lance wouldn't stop her, but it would force her to shift ever so slightly…
[16:52] <AdEvaGM> [And shift she did-
[16:53] <AdEvaGM> [Just as the time field, for a moment, seemed to falter and fail.]
[16:57] <Sept> "Got you!" Sera barked.-
[16:57] <Sept> And all at once, Sera's left hand, together with the Lance, seized Agatha's arm in a lock as he poured all of his strength into driving the claws directly into the prog sword and past it towards Agatha.
[16:59] <AdEvaGM> [The sword went flying.-
[16:59] <AdEvaGM> [The claw hurtled toward her face-
[16:59] <AdEvaGM> [And then simply froze.-
[16:59] <AdEvaGM> [Agatha stared up at him, the time field in full effect around her.-
[17:00] <AdEvaGM> [In one fluid action she broke his grip, slammed her spear into his shoulder and threw him against the wall- only to reapply the Field so as to freeze him up against it.-
[17:00] <AdEvaGM> [The Lance fell from his hand, its tricoleur ripped and torn.-
[17:00] <AdEvaGM> [Agatha pointed her spear at Sera's chest.-
[17:00] <AdEvaGM> ["… sorry."]
[17:01] <Sept> "Don't be."
[17:02] <AdEvaGM> […-
[17:05] * Yanmei didn't reply to Sera as he darted off. Her attention was already split in multiple directions. Blanc was gone, Joan was drawing closer, and her Honor Guard was still behind her, still in the path of danger. -
[17:08] <Yanmei> "Alright! Looks like us three are playing decoy, then? You guys fall back to someplace with less heat in the meantime." She didn't wait for an acknowledgement. Instead she bunny-hopped forward, pointed her off-hand sword at Joan, and sent a bolt of crackling violet-white energy squarely into her right kneecap.
[17:10] <AdEvaGM> [The bolt struck home, burning armour and flesh, but it didn't even seem to slow Joan down. Instead she launched into a flying leap toward Yanmei and swung her burning scythe down toward Yanmei's head.]
[17:19] <Yanmei> Joan would strike air. Yanmei had seen it coming, and had leaped back and away to abnormal heights. She simply hung there in the air for a fraction of a second, her face crinkling with contempt, and then launched herself down at Joan's head, both swords blurring with movement. "Just DIE!!"
[17:29] <AdEvaGM> [Joan whirled in a full circle, parrying Yanmei's swords with the blunt end of her scythe. She struck with such force that Yanmei was course-shifted mid-air and thrown hard into a wall.]
[17:35] <Yanmei> She tasted blood and the room spun, but Yanmei could still see her target despite it all. She grit her teeth pressed her feet against the cracked cement behind her and sprang off it, flying like a bullet for Joan. At the very last moment, she dipped low, rolling once, and then sliding past Joan on her knees both swords making frenzied silver arcs around her as she went.
[17:37] <AdEvaGM> [Joan parried and leapt back, but not fast enough- Yanmei's off-hand sword ripped into Joan's knee and sent her sprawling to the ground. "NGGGGH!"]
[17:43] <Yanmei> Yanmei found her feet and leaped into the air again, this time in a graceful backflip that placed her over Joan again. Excalibur burned its strange fire. And Yanmei snarled, dropping down, sword and all, to sever off the hand that Joan was using to clutch her own weapon.
[17:45] <AdEvaGM> [But she missed.-
[17:47] <AdEvaGM> [At the last second, Joan shifted out of the way, and Excalibur embedded itself into the ground. Before Yanmei could pull it free, Joan caught her in the chest with a powerful kick; it knocked Yanmei off her feet and threw her a few metres away, where she landed with a heavy bounce.-
[17:47] <AdEvaGM> [As Yanmei tried to rise, Joan leapt forward and caught her in the chest with the scythe, its blade set to stun; electrical impulses sent Yanmei to her knees.-
[17:47] <AdEvaGM> [Joan pulled Excalibur free.-
[17:48] <AdEvaGM> [Joan now stood over her, Excalibur held out, bared against her neck. She pulled back, ready to swing…]
[17:53] <Yanmei> "You…" Yanmei hissed, twitching, incredulity and rage rising fast in her voice. "You'd better kill me fast if you know what's good for you!"
[18:24] <Raphael> …-
[18:24] <Raphael> The Peacecraft flew through the guts of the Synfront, following the path Scholastica's Dysangelion had carved on her way to the centre. He felt numb listening to the chatter over comms, the voices slowly giving way to static as the great artificial base interfered with the signal.-
[18:24] <Raphael> And then… Open space. He'd been here once before at the end of the LN war: A great, hollow dome with a pyramid at its heart.-
[18:24] <Raphael> Scholastica stood balanced on one side of the pyramid, and as he watched the Dys reached down with one claw and tore away the metal between her feet. Ground command's channel was all he could hear now, and the response to the damage was instant and terrified - he could hear screaming, panicked voices. Misato's voice was there too, trying to stay as she called for help.-
[18:24] <Raphael> He didn't speak, he only accelerated to the limits of the Peacecraft's capabilities as one hand reached for the rifle stowed behind the Superheavy's shoulder.-
[18:25] <Raphael> The Dysangelion reared back, eyes glowing… and then a dozen blue-white bolts of light lanced down from above it, tearing burning holes in armour and flesh.-
[18:25] <Raphael> The Peaceknight hit the ground with a colossal bang a second later, stowing its rifle. It was surrounded by a tight halo of beam reflector drones that spiralled away as soon as he landed.
[18:28] <AdEvaGM> [Scholastica's Dysangelion let out a bird-like keening roar, then tried to escape by flying directly upwards; it swung its crozier wildly downwards, trying to deter pursuit.-
[18:29] <AdEvaGM> [But it was obvious that the opening salvo had done its job. The Dys was slower than even it expected, and its wings began to beat frantically as it rose.]
[18:33] <Raphael> The Peacecraft's boosters flared again but this time it shot straight forward, barely skimming over the Synfront's surface. Unlike the Dysangelion, its speed was not impaired: One hand snapped up to form a vice around the Dysangelion's foot, before the Superheavy pivoted and slammed it straight down into surovite floor.
[18:33] <AdEvaGM> [The impact cracked the surovite flooring, for about a hundred metres around.-
[18:34] <AdEvaGM> [The Dysangelion seemed disorientated. It turned its head one way, then another- then looked up at the Peacecraft, its eyes starting to flare with light…]
[18:35] <Raphael> One heavy metal foot was already pinning the Dysangelion to the ground, the Peacecraft's arm held high with one saber lit. It came down before the Dys could fire, severing its head from its body.-
[18:37] <Raphael> In the cockpit, Raphael was panting, teeth ground tightly together. He drew the Peaceknight's arm back once more and ran the blade through the Dys' heart for good measure.
[18:39] <AdEvaGM> [The core cracked- and then began to glow-
[18:39] <AdEvaGM> [… But the spark simply died.-
[18:40] <AdEvaGM> [The Dysangelion's body disintegrated into ash, blood and fragments of bone.-
[18:42] <AdEvaGM> ["Oh, thank God." Said Misato, over Raphael's comms. "I thought we were done for-"-
[18:42] <AdEvaGM> [There was an inhuman banshee wail behind Raphael.-
[18:42] <AdEvaGM> [He could feel it on his skin. An entity born of rage, that saw the very craft he was in as a directed insult.-
[18:43] <AdEvaGM> [His cameras would show it, wings out, scythe glowing: Dysangelion Joan, coming directly for him.-
[18:43] <AdEvaGM> […-
[18:44] <AdEvaGM> [The crosier began charging.-
[18:45] <AdEvaGM> [… Then Scholastica paused.-
[18:45] <AdEvaGM> ["My Dysangelion's dead." Said Scholastica. "That's… Unfortunate."-
[18:45] <AdEvaGM> ["Hrm."-
[18:45] <AdEvaGM> [She jabbed the crosier back into Aline's throat. "I'll deal with that after I deal with-"-
[18:45] <AdEvaGM> [Crack.-
[18:46] <AdEvaGM> [The crosier went flying into the air, its energy dissipating; Scholastica was thrown against a nearby wall.-
[18:46] <AdEvaGM> [Standing over Aline, as he had in the past, and always would, bearing bloody, fleshy arms that ended in inhuman, draconian claws, and eyes full of rage- was Shinji Ikari.-
[18:47] <AdEvaGM> ["My dad can strengthen organisms." Said Shinji, his voice spitting with rage. "My mum can change her own biology."-
[18:47] <AdEvaGM> ["Like attracts like."-
[18:47] <AdEvaGM> ["You will never touch her again."]
[18:57] * Aline turned… and as she began to stand, Aline smiled, under that helm. "…Yesss." It was maybe a bit too immature, but it excited her. It got her blood pumping. "Shin-kun. There's something important I have to tell you. Don't stop, I'll say it as I go." She said. You could almost hear the sudden and dramatic punch of levity in her tone. …Standing tall… Aline held out one hand. The shimmer of a cache started to light up imperceptibly, and you could almost make out the vision of all sorts of… useless trash coming out of it. A laptop computer. A dirty plate she cached and forgot to take out to wash. A bag of snacks - Lana's favorite weird off-brand corn puffs. But you did not see those forms for long. -
[18:58] <Aline> The smallest of pauses. This is either the dorkiest thing I have ever done, or the best thing I have ever done. She noted mentally. Light began to flash around the cache opening. "You see, Shinji. I am…" -
[18:59] <Aline> The flashes coalesced into shapes. …Familiar shapes. Shapes that shouldn't exist here. Her lash had fallen back to her side like a belt, for Aline needed both hands open! Both hands, to carry … Excalibur, and Cassisus. -
[19:00] <Aline> "…The bone of my sword."
[19:01] <AdEvaGM> [Scholastica stared.-
[19:01] <AdEvaGM> [And then she began screaming.-
[19:02] <AdEvaGM> [Scholastica wasn't thinking. She leapt from her spot toward Aline, hand outstretched into a claw. "IMPOSSIBLE!"]
[19:04] * Aline was ready. …Without their true souls, these weapons were but facsimiles. Half of what they should be. But Aline knew that, and that was actually the beauty of what she was doing. "Ready in one, Shinji!" She cried out, and with a tuck down to go below Scholastica's strike… False-Excalibur slid forwards. Forwards and towards a gut stab! … -
[19:05] <Aline> - …Except. Not even Aline could keep something so immeasurably alien to this universe intact for long. So it did as it, maybe, should. …It exploded forwards into black flame.
[19:09] <AdEvaGM> [The sword ran Scholastica through, then exploded outwards, sending her- and her copious blood- flying backwards.-
[19:09] <AdEvaGM> [Shinji caught her by the leg.-
[19:09] <AdEvaGM> [Then he slammed her into the ground.-
[19:09] <AdEvaGM> [And again.-
[19:10] <AdEvaGM> [And a third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh time, until a small crater had been smashed into the surovite and half of Scholastica's ribcage was on the outside.-
[19:10] <AdEvaGM> [And then an eighth for good measure.-
[19:10] <AdEvaGM> [And then Shinji huffed and said-
[19:10] <AdEvaGM> ["Puny god."-
[19:10] <AdEvaGM> [Then he looked up at Aline. "Did I do it right? I think I did it right."]
[19:13] * Aline nodded emphatically. "Yes!" …But in midair, she was already rising. High. …Too high. It was kind of silly. But. This oughta do it for distance. …In a flash, she came down. The False-Cassius went right into Scholastica's chest. She aimed for the core, knowing very well where it was. She had the same one. The duplicate-weapon shore through, and - again burning its matter to ape its original's soul, through Aline's AT
[19:13] * Aline Field - it exploded in white light, a lotus-beam shooting into the core. Through the core. Through a few decks below.
[19:14] <AdEvaGM> ["NO-"-
[19:14] <AdEvaGM> [… What remained of Scholastica's body slid into the hole below. It had become ash before it even hit the other decks.-
[19:15] <AdEvaGM> [Shinji looked up at Aline- and smiled. She could feel the weariness radiating off him now, as he let his body relax.-
[19:16] <AdEvaGM> ["I don't know why they call her a clone. She doesn't look even half as awesome as you do right now."]
[19:17] <Aline> "…Hee." Aline said with a light giddiness that really wasn't appropriate. Beat. "…Ffff. The others are still fighting their clones! I ran ahead because she boasted that yo… Let's go!" She paused, just long enough for him to setle his body for the journey through the trail of destruction Aline and Scholastica had left coming here.
[19:18] <AdEvaGM> […-
[19:19] <AdEvaGM> [Agatha pulled her lance back…-
[19:19] <AdEvaGM> [And thrust forward.-
[19:20] <AdEvaGM> [A moment before it connected, it froze. As though stopped in time…-
[19:20] <AdEvaGM> [… But then Sera would see the hand.-
[19:20] <AdEvaGM> [Agatha looked down-
[19:21] <AdEvaGM> [She and lance both were hurled back through the bunker room, slamming through crate and shelf and cargo suit until she slammed into a wall.-
[19:21] <AdEvaGM> [Standing in front of Sera, like a living bulwark, was Armin Ansgar, the spirit of the Lance of Cassius.-
[19:21] <AdEvaGM> [The French Tricoleur was worn across his chest like a sash.-
[19:22] <AdEvaGM> ["SERA!" He shouted. "I'M HERE!"]
[19:24] <Sept> "…"-
[19:26] <Sept> Sera slid down the wall and stumbled, dumbfounded, almost toppling to the ground. He stared up at Armin.-
[19:26] <Sept> "What?"
[19:27] <AdEvaGM> ["I said… I'M HERE!"-
[19:27] <AdEvaGM> ["I was created as a weapon in an age before past." Said Armin. "Designed to fulfill a special duty."-
[19:27] <AdEvaGM> ["But when I was needed most, I was broken, and my spirit abandoned to the abyss."-
[19:28] <AdEvaGM> ["For billions of years I sat inert, within that nothingness."-
[19:28] <AdEvaGM> ["And then you came."-
[19:28] <AdEvaGM> ["Just as you freed me from that abyss of time, I, too, come to free you from time's web."-
[19:29] <AdEvaGM> ["Rise, Sera!" Said Armin. "Wield me as you once did seven billion years ago!"-
[19:29] <AdEvaGM> ["Fight alongside me, my ever-worthy lord!"]
[19:32] * Sept stood up straight and pushed past Armin, walking towards Agatha.-
[19:32] <Sept> "Did that look worthy to you?! Did you see how easily she beat me?"
[19:35] <AdEvaGM> ["I don't care. You will always be my ever-worthy lord, and I wish for nothing more than to fight by your side."]
[19:38] <Sept> "Fine. Guess one of us is getting what they want today." Sera held out his hand to summon the Lance of Cassius as he approached the Prime.
[19:39] <AdEvaGM> [And so Armin shifted back into his form and flew into Sera's hand… But now it hummed with power.-
[19:39] <AdEvaGM> [Agatha pulled herself out of the debris. Her armour was cracked, but she seemed mostly unharmed.-
[19:39] <AdEvaGM> [She lowered her spear and charged.]
[19:45] * Sept stopped and fell into a combat stance. As Agatha closed in, he summoned a barrier from the Lance, repelling her attack. Even if with time on her side, she wouldn't be able to pierce a shield of such sheer willpower, not as she was.-
[19:50] <Sept> It was all downhill from there for her. Sera charged her in response, and even though Agatha could use her time field to escape his blows, she was just prolonging the inevitable. Finally, she got cornered and Sera caught her with a blast of divine light, sending the Prime once again crashing into a set of shelves. As Sera stood by, a few meters away, points of light began to emerge around
[19:50] <Sept> him, fixing laser-sharp beams around Agatha — ready to fire if she moved, closing off passages. She was neutralized and trapped.-
[19:52] <Sept> "It's over for you."
[19:54] <AdEvaGM> [She stared up at him. Her helmet had cracked, revealing her face; her hair was down, cascading over her shoulders.-
[19:55] <AdEvaGM> [She lunged. One last time.]
[20:00] <Sept> The points of light… died out. Sera also took a step forward and took her challenge head on, focusing everything into the Lance as it homed in on Agatha's heart.
[20:01] <AdEvaGM> [The point punched through her core and out the other side.-
[20:01] <AdEvaGM> [The gob of blood she coughed up splashed across Sera's face.-
[20:01] <AdEvaGM> ["…"-
[20:02] <AdEvaGM> [Agatha sagged to the ground.-
[20:02] <AdEvaGM> ["S… Sera."]
[20:11] * Sept recalled the Lance and let it fall, crouching down by her. He took hold of her suddenly-powerless hand and looked around the room awkwardly before facing her.-
[20:12] <Sept> "You could've killed me," he said, confusion and anger and regret clear from his voice.
[20:13] <AdEvaGM> [She coughed, and smiled.-
[20:14] <AdEvaGM> ["Oh, sweetie… I didn't want to." She said, her voice cracking. "But Mary… She's so powerful right now."-
[20:14] <AdEvaGM> ["I wanted nothing more… Than to give up."]
[20:16] <Sept> "Me too. But we're here now. What can I… What do you want from the world?"
[20:18] <AdEvaGM> [Agatha laughed.-
[20:18] <AdEvaGM> ["Sweetie… This isn't my world. You know that."]
[20:20] <Sept> "Mine either," said Sera. "Humor me."
[20:24] <AdEvaGM> ["Heh."-
[20:25] <AdEvaGM> ["We're really too much alike." She said. "We shouldn't… Be doing this. People'll talk."-
[20:25] <AdEvaGM> ["But since you asked…"-
[20:26] <AdEvaGM> ["I wanted this world to give me the time to get to know you as well as you deserved."]
[20:29] <Sept> "…"-
[20:30] * Sept sniffled, and turned to wipe at his face briefly.-
[20:30] <Sept> "R-right," was all he could say.
[20:32] <AdEvaGM> ["Send me off, sweetie."]
[20:39] <Sept> "Mm. You'll live on. I'll always remember you."-
[20:40] <Sept> "No, that's no good," Sera muttered. "Maybe this is better."-
[20:41] * Sept wrapped his arm around her back and leaned in to kiss her.
[20:42] <AdEvaGM> [Her lips were warm, and a little wet with her own blood.-
[20:42] <AdEvaGM> [But Sera could feel them go cold, the heat draining out of her.-
[20:42] <AdEvaGM> [And then a moment later… She was nothing but a handful of ashes.]
[20:44] * Sept stayed there for a moment, then slowly stood up. He recalled the Lance off the floor, and took a deep breath.-
[20:45] <Sept> This made him inhale ash and cough violently as he stumbled out of the bunker, tears in his eyes.
[20:46] <AdEvaGM> […-
[19:50] <Raphael> "Prometheus."-
[19:50] <Raphael> It started with a hum.-
[19:50] <Raphael> The Peaceknight's thrusters burned brighter, a ring of dust and debris from the broken ground lifting into the air around it, and the Peaceknight's horn split apart like a blooming flower. Joan would feel the effects immediately, her Dysangelion's field fracturing and wilting the closer it came.-
[19:50] <Raphael> A beam sword was in each of the Peaceknight's hands now, and they both flared once before shifting to a sickly green.-
[19:50] <Raphael> That was all the time he had before Joan was upon him. He managed to turn her first strike aside, burying the scythe blade in the ground as he aimed a kick for her chest.-
[19:57] <@AdEvaGM> [The kick caught her, but she was already stabilising herself. A pair of sigilite lances flared into her hands; one she threw, the other she charged with at the same time, lance aimed for Peacecraft's head.]
[20:07] <Raphael> The beam blades vanished, but one hand snapped up to snatch the first lance from the air, the metal joints straining to halt its acceleration.-
[20:07] <Raphael> He barely managed it in time to bring the newly-captured lance around in a clockwise spin, adjusting the angle of Joan's charge and letting the Peaceknight slip around the lance head and inside Joan's guard, pinning her weapon to the Peaceknight's side.-
[20:07] <Raphael> He didn't bother with anything fancy. Instead the Peacecraft's movements were fluid and lifelike as it drew back a fist to land two quick punches into the Dysangelion's face before driving a knee into its stomach.
[20:12] <@AdEvaGM> [The Dysangelion let out a roar of rage- quickly silenced by the punches. The knee knocked it backwards, letting loose its grip on the lance.-
[20:12] <@AdEvaGM> [So it lunged.-
[20:12] <@AdEvaGM> [It grabbed the Peacecraft by the shoulders and 'fell' backwards, throwing it back over its shoulders. It then turned on its heel, leapt, and tried to drop the knee into the Peacecraft's cockpit.]
[20:16] <Raphael> She hadn't been able to see much in the tumble, especially not the way the Peaceknight's beam rifle forcefully ejected from its wing dock. Or that it fired.-
[20:16] <Raphael> She turned and leapt just in time for the beam - carefully redirected by the reflector drones - to catch her in the chest.
[20:17] <Raphael> The Peaceknight used the gap to flip to its feet, swords reigniting.
[20:19] <@AdEvaGM> [The beam tore out the other side.-
[20:19] <@AdEvaGM> [The Dysangelion stumbled backwards- then the gouts of blood poured out.-
[20:19] <@AdEvaGM> [But…-
[20:19] <@AdEvaGM> [He hadn't hit the core. He could see it now, gleaming crimson.-
[20:21] <@AdEvaGM> [It raised its hands, ready to fight again-
[20:21] <@AdEvaGM> [But this time its attack wasn't physical.-
[20:21] <@AdEvaGM> [Raphael's vision swam-
[20:21] <@AdEvaGM> [… and then the controls of the Peacecraft became red hot, too hot to hold. As he pulled his hands back, he saw the burns on his palms, causing shiny red boils…-
[20:22] <@AdEvaGM> [That then popped, sending thousands of tiny banshees out and up his arm.]
[20:30] <Raphael> He flinched back and began to swat at his own arms, trying to ignore the lancing pain in his hands as he tried to clear away the banshees.-
[20:30] <Raphael> Outside, the Peaceknight followed his lead. The clanging of metal was deafening, and he might've shorn off an arm had the safety mechanisms on the beam swords not shut them off.
[20:33] <@AdEvaGM> [The Dysangelion walked over, and with one hand grabbed the Peacecraft's head. It pulled it off its feet-
[20:33] <@AdEvaGM> [And with the other, began to punch the chest. Over. And over. And over. The armour began to buckle and split.-
[20:33] <@AdEvaGM> [Inside the cockpit, alarms started to blare, yet the banshees kept coming…-
[20:34] <@AdEvaGM> [… And then he heard it, a voice, delivered to him for a split second by a momentary telepathy-
[20:34] <@AdEvaGM> ["SNAP OUT OF IT, RAPHAEL!" Shouted Misato.]
[20:40] <Raphael> The Peaceknight went still. This didn't seem to bother Joan, and the punches continued to rain down.-
[20:40] <Raphael> She would only have brief warning - a second where her Dys' own palm seemed to burn - before the part of her palm covering the "petals" of the Peacecraft's horn were obliterated by a particle beam.
[20:41] <@AdEvaGM> [The palm and the rest of the arm simply disintegrated.-
[20:41] <@AdEvaGM> [The Dysangelion shrieked, and leapt away wildly, the flames spreading to its torso.-
[20:41] <@AdEvaGM> [It stood on something. It turned.-
[20:41] <@AdEvaGM> [It picked up its scythe…]
[20:46] <Raphael> The Peaceknight was already rushing forward, one hand reaching to scoop up a falled lance before it pivoted and hurled it straight through the Dysangelion's core. It punched out the other side and buried itself in the side of the pyramid, wobbling with the force of the throw.
[20:51] <@AdEvaGM> ["…"-
[20:51] <@AdEvaGM> [The Dysangelion raised a claw towards Raphael- let out a final shriek-
[20:52] <@AdEvaGM> [And then dissolved into ash and blood and fluids.]
[20:53] * Raphael sagged in the cockpit, breath coming in short gasps. His hands were unharmed, back in their heavy gloves (He should've remembered the gloves), and the banshees had vanished. It was just him.-
[20:54] <Raphael> "Told you, Euphrasie," he muttered, and let out a shaky laugh.
[20:55] <@AdEvaGM> [There was quiet, for a moment.-
[20:55] <@AdEvaGM> [The battle raged outside- reinforcements had arrived, just in the nick of time.-
[20:56] <@AdEvaGM> [He saw out of one camera Rei fighting back at her enemies, pushing them back.-
[20:56] <@AdEvaGM> [And out of the othe-
[20:56] <@AdEvaGM> [crack-
[20:57] <@AdEvaGM> [The spear shore away his right arm, his right leg, part of his ear, burning at the rest of his face.-
[20:57] <@AdEvaGM> [Dysangelion Agatha stood behind him, her spear through the Peacecraft's cockpit.-
[20:57] <@AdEvaGM> [It pulled it free.]
[21:04] <Raphael> The rest of him was left to dangle from one arm in the void the spear had left. Through the rent in the armour ahead of him he could see down to the gash Scholastica had left in the pyramid's side, and some distant part of him tried to reach for it with an arm that was no longer there.-
[21:05] <Raphael> "Misato…"
[21:06] <@AdEvaGM> [Misato saw.-
[21:06] <@AdEvaGM> [The stomach dropped out of her, it felt like; her eyes went wide and her palms began to shake.-
[21:06] <@AdEvaGM> ["N…"-
[21:06] <@AdEvaGM> [The panic rose, hot and sick in her chest.-
[21:07] <@AdEvaGM> [… And as she stared, a little plume of back smoke swirled around her leg, through her hands and into her mouth.-
[21:07] <@AdEvaGM> [A second later, she jumped off the edge of the Synfront HQ.-
[21:08] <@AdEvaGM> [And she fell.-
[21:08] <@AdEvaGM> [The jump jets of her armour kicked in, slowing her fall, letting her angle it-
[21:08] <@AdEvaGM> [She didn't pay any attention to the Dysangelion looming below. Her focus was singular-
[21:09] <@AdEvaGM> [She threaded the needle.-
[21:09] <@AdEvaGM> [As she pushed past the wreck of the cockpit, she saw Raphael in all his glory- his body mangled and ruined.-
[21:09] <@AdEvaGM> [And she put her hand on his cheek.-
[21:09] <@AdEvaGM> [She took a single, terrified breath-
[21:09] <@AdEvaGM> [And then her hand glowed with a bright green light.-
[21:10] <@AdEvaGM> [And in that moment…-
[21:10] <@AdEvaGM> [They synchronised.-
[21:10] <@AdEvaGM> […-
[21:10] <@AdEvaGM> [It was as though a void in Raphael's very being had suddenly been pointed out to him- and then immediately filled.-
[21:12] <@AdEvaGM> [He was filled with a warmth, a beautiful and tremendous sensation that reached every part of his body, even his missing arm and leg.-
[21:12] <@AdEvaGM> [For a moment it was terrifying, that the great presence within would see something it hated, and leave him cold-
[21:12] <@AdEvaGM> [… But in that space he found only acceptance.-
[21:13] <@AdEvaGM> [The space within him, shared now with another, uttered a word, a word that he would never be able to refuse, now.-
[21:13] <@AdEvaGM> [Live!-
[21:13] <@AdEvaGM> [… And Raphael knew, with utter certainty, that he would not die so long as she held him.-
[21:13] <@AdEvaGM> […-
[21:15] <@AdEvaGM> [The breach in the armour of the Peacecraft widened as the Dysangelion tore the sheets of armour apart.-
[21:16] <@AdEvaGM> [Dysangelion Agatha reached in and, with its great hand, grabbed them both and pulled them from the cockpit.-
[21:16] <@AdEvaGM> [It stared down at them for a moment-
[21:16] <@AdEvaGM> [Began to squeeze-
[21:16] <@AdEvaGM> [… And then paused, just for a second. Then it began squeezing once more-
[21:16] <@AdEvaGM> ["Not this time."-
[21:16] <@AdEvaGM> [Misato raised her free hand, which began to shine green.-
[21:16] <@AdEvaGM> ["You work for me now."-
[21:17] <@AdEvaGM> [She slammed it down on the Dysangelion's hand.-
[21:17] <@AdEvaGM> [Lines of green light ran up the Dysangelion's body, all the way to the chest and the head.-
[21:20] <@AdEvaGM> [Then the Dysangelion humbly bent forward, lowered its head- and ejected a long, bone-like plug.-
[21:20] <@AdEvaGM> [After a moment, Misato and Raphael entered into it.-
[21:20] <@AdEvaGM> [It… Was creepy inside- all bone, and quite cold. There were no controls.-
[21:20] <@AdEvaGM> [But there wasn't any LCL- merely a blood-like sort of healing fluid.-
[21:21] <@AdEvaGM> [Misato lowered herself and Raphael down into it, and sealed it up.-
[21:21] <@AdEvaGM> [Raphael…-
[21:22] <@AdEvaGM> [ I need you to pilot this for me. You just have to let me feel what to do. I'll be your right arm. ]
[21:31] <Raphael> Staying alive was a simple binary, but his awareness was a more nuanced process, and one that was struggling to keep up. The world was a jumble of unpleasant sounds, shapes and sensations…-
[21:31] <Raphael> But he could hear her. The truest part of his mind followed her voice down the strange green link, and found… peace. Bleeding and broke as he was, in that space between them he suddenly felt at ease for the first time in his adult life.-
[21:32] <Raphael> Any barrier between them vanished. All at once she had anything he could possibly give.
[21:32] <AdEvaGM> […-
[20:47] <AdEvaGM> [Joan lifted the sword above Yanmei's neck…-
[20:47] <AdEvaGM> [Crack.-
[20:47] <AdEvaGM> [Joan let out a short gasp-
[20:47] <AdEvaGM> [Then a howl of pain as she fell backwards, her leg twisted in an unnatural shape at the knee, which bulged outwards.-
[20:48] <AdEvaGM> ["You put too much weight on it."-
[20:48] <AdEvaGM> [Standing about ten metres away, his fingers outstretched, was Isaiah Zhang-Wei, still slick from the LCL.-
[20:49] <AdEvaGM> [Joan saw him- her eyes narrowed, and she leapt to her feet to charge-
[20:49] <AdEvaGM> [Click.-
[20:49] <AdEvaGM> [… And slipped on her own blood.-
[20:49] <AdEvaGM> [Click.-
[20:49] <AdEvaGM> [As she dropped Excalibur, it bounced on its hilt… And landed, right next to Yanmei's hand.]
[20:51] * Yanmei stared down at it, gobsmacked, but she wasn't going to ruin a perfectly lovely gift. She snatched it up and lunged at Joan again while she was distracted by the pain, stabbing at her chest.
[20:52] <AdEvaGM> [Joan swung her scythe in the way, catching Excalibur's edge with the casing of the energy blade-
[20:53] <AdEvaGM> [Click-
[20:53] <AdEvaGM> [Which caught it at an unlucky angle and cracked completely. The blade flickered and died.-
[20:53] <AdEvaGM> [But she still had the shaft. She swung it up towards Joan's jaw!]
[20:57] * Yanmei deflected it with her other sword and changed tactics with Excalibur, instead plunging it into Joan's arm in an attempt to get her to drop it.
[20:58] <AdEvaGM> [Joan angled her arm away, so the sword only nicked her flesh-
[20:59] <AdEvaGM> [She swept her staff against Yanmei's legs, not enough to knock her back, but enough to give Joan time to get some space between them. Joan leapt backwards-
[21:00] <AdEvaGM> [Click.-
[21:01] <AdEvaGM> [Her leg bent, just enough to push her kneecap into the ground. Joan howled in pain, and her grip loosed on her staff.]
[21:04] <Yanmei> Yanmei advanced quickly, and aimed a solid kick at her hand. Was it enough to send the staff flying?
[21:04] <AdEvaGM> [Click.-
[21:04] <AdEvaGM> [It definitely was.]
[21:05] * Yanmei brought Excalibur up, overhead, and swung the blade down at Joan's neck.
[21:11] <AdEvaGM> ["No"-
[21:11] <AdEvaGM> [… Thud.]
[21:14] <Yanmei> As the rest of Joan's body began to slump down, Yanmei drew back the bloodstained Exalibur and her regular sword, and then punged both of them, together, through Joan's chest.
[21:17] <AdEvaGM> [The sword plunged through the core and out the other side.-
[21:17] <AdEvaGM> [The hand was still moving, still scratching towards Yanmei furiously-
[21:18] <AdEvaGM> [The core glowed, the light within growing brighter. It was about to explode-
[21:18] <AdEvaGM> [Click.-
[21:18] <AdEvaGM> [… But instead, shorted out and collapsed. Her body dissolved into ash.-
[21:18] <AdEvaGM> [And a moment later, Isaiah's arms were around Yanmei.]
[21:20] * Yanmei sagged. She was staring at the ash where Joan had been just moments before, and also at the smaller pile of ash where Joan's disconnected head had fallen during the fray. The helmet had not fallen off of it, thank god, but it had still been an eerie sight. -
[21:21] <Yanmei> Suddenly, she straightened up and turned toward Isaiah properly. "What the hell are you doing here?"
[21:23] <AdEvaGM> ["Well, it looks like I'm currently holding the most beautiful, sexiest woman who ever lived, what about you?"]
[21:26] * Yanmei elbowed him slightly. "I guess things outside have calmed down a whole bunch if you decided it was cool to break rank and come find me in the middle of nowhere. Where is your Eva?"
[21:26] <AdEvaGM> ["Oh, no, it's a fucking dog's breakfast out there. But I can be in two places at once, easy, if one of those places has you in it."-
[21:27] <AdEvaGM> ["You know you're gorgeous when you're slaying your enemies, right?"]
[21:27] * Sept hurried back to the corridor, eyes red and breathing raggedly, the Lance half-heartedly held in front of him in a defensive stance as he rounded the corner. He slowed his pace as he spotted the two of them in the corridor, opening his mouth to speak, but hesitating.-
[21:28] <Sept> "You're okay," Sera said.
[21:30] <Yanmei> "We're okay," Yanmei confirmed with a nod. She gave Isaiah a quick squeeze and stepped back. "Are you okay? You look like you've seen better days?"
[21:31] * Aline dashed in not too long after, popping up out of a nasty gash in the floor. Armored, seemingly unharmed? …But that would be the lie of regeneration. There was noise of another arriving behind her, as well. Near the end of the run, she just stopped. -
[21:31] <Aline> "…We're all okay."
[21:33] <Sept> "Y-Yeah. Correct," Sera said, wiping at his face hurriedly.
[21:34] <AdEvaGM> ["I'm sorry." Said Shinji. "Mary caught me off-guard, and she crushed Adam. She took back… Her power, the A-Type powers. And released all of them."]
[21:35] <Aline> "…Those powers saved us. …But." Aline frowned. "… …This isn't going to get any better."
[21:37] <Sept> "Right. It won't. We keep going further in?"
[21:37] <AdEvaGM> ["You three will have to." Said Isaiah. "But Shinji and I will stay here."]
[21:38] <Yanmei> "What are you planning to do here?"
[21:38] <AdEvaGM> ["There's enemy reinforcements on the way." Said Isaiah. "A lot."-
[21:38] <AdEvaGM> ["And Shinji and I need to stop them the cleanest way we can: by taking down Jeremiah Caine." Said Isaiah.]
[21:39] * Aline slowly nodded her head. …Slid over, and gave Shinji one last hug. Small. Quick. "…Stay safe. And kill that old bastard dead enough that his descendants feel it." She pulled back. "Er. Sorry Sera."
[21:40] <AdEvaGM> [Shinji winced at Aline's off-colour comment, but hugged her back.-
[21:40] <AdEvaGM> [No, fuck that.-
[21:40] <AdEvaGM> [He picked her up and he kissed her for an uncomfortably long time.]
[21:40] <Aline> It is uncanny how quickly she became unhelmeted for that.
[21:41] <AdEvaGM> [We won't linger on Aline's ability to disrobe.-
[21:41] * Yanmei frowned. "Call command and ask for reinforcements first. And you both-" her frown deepened as it became apparent that Shinji wasn't listening. She turned to Isaiah. "You need good weapons too."
[21:41] <AdEvaGM> ["I'll be fine." Said Isaiah. "Aline, can you spot me one of your copies?"]
[21:41] * Sept shrugged at Aline's comment; Jeremiah had always been fair game.
[21:46] <Aline> "…Sharp eye." Aline said, once the kiss ended. She …paused for only a moment, and knelt at the floor. She looked between Excalibur, and Isaiah for a moment. The soft light glowed, and a growing pool of the floor was drawing up into her hand - she was taking a bit more time on this one! …Until the end of a hilt was presented to Isaiah. A copy indeed, but this one gleamed not silvery, but golden. "…I did what I could to
[21:46] <Aline> stabilize it. Just remember that the stuff Excalibur is made of is barely within my abilities. Don't push the 'magic' too far and you'll be okay."
[21:47] <AdEvaGM> ["Is there a chance it won't explode if I push it?"]
[21:47] <Aline> "…Yes. Scaling." But then she realized. "… …Sharper eye."
[21:48] <AdEvaGM> [Isaiah laughed; he reached over and kissed Aline on the forehead. "I missed you, you know? Don't go getting lost again, I mean it."]
[21:49] * Sept tapped the ground impatiently with the Lance of Cassius.
[21:50] * Yanmei eyed the copy suspiciously… and then Aline even more suspiciously, folding her arms across her chest.
[21:51] * Aline was about to giggle lightly, but the sound of a billions-of-years-old weapon's mini-me brought her back to reality. "…It's not as good as the real one, Yanmei. …And yeah we really can't stall any more."
[21:51] <AdEvaGM> ["Sorry." Said Isaiah, as he took up Faxcalibur.-
[21:52] <AdEvaGM> ["Sera." Isaiah turned toward him. "I know it's not my place to ask anything of you, but… Keep them safe. And come back alive."-
[21:52] <AdEvaGM> [He held a hand out towards Sera for him to shake.]
[21:54] * Sept looked at him for a moment.-
[21:54] <Sept> "You're right, it's not. It's best if you don't."
[21:54] <AdEvaGM> ["…"-
[21:55] <AdEvaGM> ["Alright, I tried." Said Isaiah, withdrawing his hand. "I really did try to give you a chance before you risked your life for us all, but forget it."-
[21:55] <AdEvaGM> ["I'll see you all on the other side." Said Isaiah, turning and walking away, flashing them all a final wave. "Come on, Shinji."-
[21:55] <AdEvaGM> ["R-Right."-
[21:55] <AdEvaGM> [Shinji glanced at Sera. "You could've shaken his hand, you know."-
[21:56] <AdEvaGM> [And then he was off after Isaiah.]
[21:57] * Yanmei sighed loudly as she watched them go. "Goddamnit, Sera."
[22:03] * Sept thought twice about saying something, then shrugged and turned to head out.-
[22:04] <Sept> "We'll see you when it's over."
[22:05] <AdEvaGM> [Click.-
[22:05] <AdEvaGM> [… And Sera slipped and fell to all fours.]
[22:06] * Aline twitched. Opened her mouth. Closed it. Opened it again. Pause… "…Woof."
[22:10] <Sept> "Or," Sera said, clambering to his feet. "Maybe we'll never see each other again. That works."
[22:11] <AdEvaGM> [And so the three trinity pilots moved deeper into the subterranean superstructure, deeper into the heart of the Synfront.-
[22:11] <AdEvaGM> [Their enemies were behind them now, and nothing remained ahead except miles of empty bunkers, and beyond: their final challenge.-
[22:11] <AdEvaGM> [Mary Caine and the Eternity Drive.]
[15:18] <@AdEvaGM> […-
[15:19] <@AdEvaGM> [The path downward into the deeps of the Synfront was taken with a mix of walking and flying as the group burned its way through various levels.-
[15:19] <@AdEvaGM> [In truth, they still struggled to know exactly where to go, except to go deeper- and so deeper they went.-
[15:20] <@AdEvaGM> [But it would be Sera who felt it first.-
[15:21] <@AdEvaGM> [A tingling, cold feeling across his skin, the sensation that they had passed some unseen forbidden boundary.-
[15:22] <@AdEvaGM> [As they went deeper, the sensation strengthened, and they knew they were going in the right direction: this was Mary Caine's imperious aura of fear, expanded to never-before felt levels.-
[15:22] <@AdEvaGM> [The power of the Evangelions kept away the worst of the effects, as did their own reasons and supports…-
[15:23] <@AdEvaGM> [Aline, assigned to the creator, supported by the strength of her family- old and new-, her high-minded aspirations and dreams, and the unfaltering will of her companion Shinji…-
[15:24] <@AdEvaGM> [Sera, assigned to the preserver, who fought for a hundred reasons and then maybe only because he had been made to fight. Yet here he was, as grimly defiant as ever, the warmth of Cassius in his hand and the cool regret of Agatha still on his lips.-
[15:25] <@AdEvaGM> [And Yanmei, assigned to the destroyer, who had been a conscript and was now a chancellor. Even in the ice-cold misery of this place, she felt the balm of Isaiah's heat, keeping her safe, just as she had kept him and others safe by destroying their enemies.-
[15:26] <@AdEvaGM> [And so at last they came to a door. An unremarkable blast door, one that would easily fall if they wished it. Behind it was the great Eternity Chamber. Behind it was Mary Caine.]
[15:30] * Yanmei drew to a halt, taking it all in. The door. The atmosphere. Her own tangled feelings, not the least of which was hatred for what lurked beyond. She glanced aside at her fellow pilots. "So this is it…"
[15:31] * Sept took a deep breath and exhaled. "I'm ready. Whatever happens, I think… I think we've all done pretty well, considering the circumstances. To get this far."
[15:32] * Aline stared forward, pausing with a visible, audible silence. "There's nothing more left. Just this."
[15:34] <Sept> "Nothing harder than this, at least."
[15:36] <Yanmei> "Whatever happens next," Yanmei blurted out suddenly, and frowned at herself. "Well. I mean. The road to get here wasn't all fun. But it wasn't bad either. And above all else it was meaningful. So thank you both for being here."
[15:37] <Sept> "Hrm. You too."
[15:37] <Aline> "…I wouldn't have it any other way." Aline said back to Yanmei, nodding.
[15:42] <Yanmei> "Right." Yanmei nodded gruffly to them both and then stepped forward, reaching for the door.
[15:43] <@AdEvaGM> […-
[15:45] <@AdEvaGM> [The Eternity Chamber was a colossal hollow sphere, three kilometres in diameter. The walls were covered in a million lights, each turning off and on to give the appearance of eyes, opening and shutting.-
[15:45] <@AdEvaGM> [A platform extended out from the door to the middle of the Chamber, where it became a wide dias.-
[15:46] <@AdEvaGM> [Standing in the middle of that dias was Mary Caine.-
[15:46] <@AdEvaGM> ["Funny." She said. "In a world with Evangelions and warships, that it should still come down to this: four people killing each other."]
[15:51] * Sept took a step forward, trying to avoid the uncomfortable memories this place brought.-
[15:51] <Sept> "I think I've lost my sense of humor, then. I hope these odds aren't a problem for you."
[15:52] <@AdEvaGM> ["Not at all."]
[15:53] * Aline stepped forward, remaining silent. Silent mostly… because she just didn't feel her reply was appropriate for any of this.
[15:55] * Yanmei scoffed, loudly, and drew Excalibur. Just being in this chamber again made her bristle with resentment and anger. "You won't object if we just get right down to it, then?"
[15:55] <@AdEvaGM> ["Heh."-
[15:56] <@AdEvaGM> ["For eighteen years, I've done my best to keep humanity safe. If you think you can do a better job, then kill me and take up the burden yourself. I'm done with speeches."-
[15:57] <@AdEvaGM> [In Mary's right hand appeared a great spear, with a head like a greatsword, with two prongs on the side like axes.-
[15:57] <@AdEvaGM> [The Spear of Inevitability.-
[15:58] <@AdEvaGM> [In her left appeared a shield, one that covered all the way to the shoulder; in fact it was like a gauntlet and shield both.-
[15:59] <@AdEvaGM> [The Arm of Conclusion.-
[16:00] <@AdEvaGM> [Armour crept over her body, shielding all but her face. Four large, insectoid wings of light burst from her back, filling the chamber with their radiance.-
[16:01] <@AdEvaGM> [A rainbow aura suffused her being.-
[16:01] <@AdEvaGM> [She acted immediately, lunging with her spear; a great rainbow rush of energy burst down towards them all!]
[16:11] * Sept raised the Lance of Cassius as it became suffused with a reddish-pink energy that blossomed out into a shield in front of them, more vibrant than ever. Sera stood still, most of his weight behind the Lance as he held it still.-
[16:12] <Sept> "We can't advance like this! Aline, give her something to think about!"
[16:14] * Aline had a second to think, and. "…Got it!" She sepped closer to Sera, leaning one hand near him… which stretched and formed a barrier field! …one that contracted and stretched forwards, as power flowed into it. Like a wedge, driving into Mary's beam and starting to push and scatter it into a less dense cloud, the better for the Lotus Shield to handle.
[16:21] <@AdEvaGM> [The energy was much like trying to stop an uncoming train that also set everything on fire, and yet- the lotus shield began to crack, yet held long enough for Aline's wedge-shield to start deflecting the energy to the sides.]
[16:21] <Yanmei> Yanmei's Excalibur lit up suddenly like an tree decorated with inverted Christmas lights. She saw her opportunity in the long-ranged struggle, took a step forward, and unleashed a plume of flame directly at Mary Caine.
[16:29] <@AdEvaGM> [Mary raised the Arm and parried the flame away.-
[16:30] <@AdEvaGM> [A dirac cache opened and aggressively vomited what looked like little pellets or rocks across the platform…-
[16:30] <@AdEvaGM> [The air around Mary shifted subtly. Then she waved her hand-
[16:30] <@AdEvaGM> [The 'pellets' suddenly sprouted with hyper speed, bursting into a little forest of thick, aggressive thorned vines that tried to ensare the trinity.]
[16:42] <Aline> There was no boast, no tip-off. Just a soft "Handling it." from Aline. Another hand touched the air, and a heavy, slightly sickly-yellow mist began to flow. Then whip around her in slight winds. Wherever the mist settled? Plants died. She had copied a known herbicide that quickly shut down basic nutrient pathways in the plants - a weakness that seeds planted on solid metal definitely had.
[16:45] * Sept stood by patiently as the vines wilted, then let the Lotus Shield fall for a moment to recharge.-
[16:47] <Sept> "Let's go!" He shouted and took off in sprint to close the distance between him and Mary, AT field optimized for speed as he prepared to raise the shield again.
[16:52] <Yanmei> "Yaaaah!" Yanmei charged forward too! A flicker of AT power briefly appeared around her offhand sword as she went, and she sprang directly at Caine in the end, bringing it down on the Arm of Conclusion.
[16:53] <@AdEvaGM> [On seeing her vines die, Mary quickly shifted her stance. The air around her changed as well.-
[16:54] <@AdEvaGM> [She caught Yanmei's attacks on the Arm- easily- then swiped back at Yanmei with the Spear. The impact was massive- Yanmei went flying and landed with a crunch a dozen metres back. Pain flooded her senses.]
[16:55] <Sept> "Yanmei!" Sera yelled, caught off guard by the momentum behind the blow - but this quickly led him to a realization. He stared down Mary Caine.-
[16:55] <Sept> "I know you."-
[16:56] <Sept> "You're not better than her!" He shouted, going for a heavy overhead swing with the Lance and trying to push closer.
[17:03] * Yanmei staggered upright, swearing. She wobbled a little, and then steadied herself before breaking into a slower run than the one she'd used before. She thrust Excalibur at Mary's head while she was busy with Sera, not once, but over and over again.
[17:08] * Aline saw the gap caused by them both resurging. "…I hope this works." Aline muttered, and she ran to the side of the platform, jumping right off! Wind. …Thud! On landing, Aline immediately laid a hand on the surface of the Drive machinery, and started to concentrate. It's so dense. …It's not the real thing, or not the full… they're in her. I need to… I need to reroute it. Disrupt the focus. I can… …Aha. Not only
[17:08] * Aline was light beginning to shimmer under that open palm, sending tendrils of sigilite wires into the machine…? But matching gleaming-red 'antenna' hardware was starting to form on Aline's back, like her armor was equipping some bizarre telecomm backpack in realtime.
[17:09] <@AdEvaGM> [This caught Mary's attention.-
[17:10] <@AdEvaGM> [She stepped backwards, away from Yanmei's attacks, then swiped forwards, driving Yanmei and Sera both back. On the backswing she pointed the Spear of Inevitability at Aline, and began charging…]
[17:13] * Sept kept his balance, immediately charging back, accompanied with a flash of blue as Mary's actions slowed down ever so slightly. With the last few steps, Sera dropped the Lance, only to latch onto Mary's shield-gauntlet, trying to tear it away to create more of an opening.
[17:20] <Yanmei> And Yanmei took advantage of the shield-gauntlet being held steady by once again lurching at it with a good solid swordstroke.
[17:21] <@AdEvaGM> [It cracked! A small fracture running from hand to elbow…-
[17:21] <@AdEvaGM> [But Mary ignored them, foucsing on Aline.]
[17:24] <Sept> And that gave Sera enough time to shift his footing, find a hold on Mary's spear and transfer the momentum from his body into hers, quickly lifting her off the ground and onto her back. Sera's other hand immediately went for her head, to disrupt her powers for even a moment longer…
[17:25] <@AdEvaGM> [It was enough to throw off Mary's aim; the lance's beam fired into the middle nothing.-
[17:26] <@AdEvaGM> [… But just before he could force Mary to the ground, her AT Field flared; she reversed his grip, hurled him up, slammed him down on his knee with a sicking crack, and tossed him back toward the door.-
[17:26] <@AdEvaGM> [Then she turned towards Yanmei.]
[17:26] * Aline was working frantically, aware of the aim on her - even as it was being handled! Just a bit longer and she could get the wires into a spot that'd co-opt the circuits. The design of it was terrible by normal standards, but she was on a time limit and improvising! We'll spare you the details and focus on the big picture: The wires go in. Sigilite conducts AT Fields. The Drive is obviously made up of a lot of Sigilite, too.
[17:26] * Aline Conductivity, it turns out, works remarkably similar even on metabio levels - right now, the entire signal and field is 'even' - a natural flow inwards, that Mary's optimizations can take in. Aline didn't get a good look at Mary's personal 'kit' but didn't need to. …All she had to do was bias the signal to a different receiver - hers. And do it sysemically enough that fixing it was out of the scope of Mary's abilities or
[17:26] * Aline attention span. …To this end, Aline was making a literal victory lap - running along the walls of the place, lights going out and then flashing blue as each footstep gave Aline enough time to pull the wires from her 'node' outwards. Step. Step. Step. She was canceling gravity as she went, just enough to walk up the walls. Keep going, keep going…! -
[17:27] <Aline> - …At abuot the time that Sera felt the wrestle in his bones? Aline had 'corrupted' enough of the wiring to feel the flow pulling towards her.
[17:29] <@AdEvaGM> [… And Mary staggered, sagging at the knees.-
[17:30] <@AdEvaGM> [There was a rush of noise- the moan of a billion human voices- through the Chamber as erratic AT Field energy crackled around Mary.-
[17:30] <@AdEvaGM> [… But after a few moments she straightened up, panting slightly.]
[17:35] <Sept> "Shit, shit, shit," Sera panted, trying to get to his feet, but his limbs didn't seem to hold straight where they were supposed to. "Nadia. Help."
[17:35] <@AdEvaGM> [Nothing.]
[17:36] <@AdEvaGM> [Then after a moment, she appeared.-
[17:36] <@AdEvaGM> ["What?"]
[17:39] * Sept focused, gritting his teeth and picking himself up with his AT field, his other arm clearly limp and useless. "I can't do this the whole time, not now. I need my bones intact."
[17:41] * Yanmei , in the meantime, pressed the advantage, striking at the winded Mary Caine with a fierce whoop, catching that strange arm-shield of hers once again.
[17:42] <@AdEvaGM> [Another crack spread across its obsidian surface…]
[17:42] * Aline crested past the part where the spherical chamber began becoming 'ceiling' rather than a floor or wall… and now could pay attention again. She… saw. Saw how blatantly wrecked Sera's limbs were. "HOLD THAT THOUGHT!" She yelled! …and then leapt, with serious force! Falling, falling… and Sera had all of a second on the landing, before a hand went to his arm. "I think this is gonna suck." -
[17:43] <Aline> Light glowed. And with it, pain like the sun itself was inside him. Though Aline was rebuilding everything, almost just vaporizing parts of the broken arm to just… 'prototype' a copy of the Sera-arm she had seen about half an hour ago.
[17:44] <Sept> Sera screamed his goddamn lungs out, the power ebbing from his AT field almost immediately as he collapsed to the floor.
[17:45] * Yanmei couldn't even turn to look at whatever was apparently torturing her companion. She pressed harder, raining blows down as if her life depended on it… mainly because it did.
[17:47] <@AdEvaGM> [Excalibur's gleaming edge cut through the glassy surface of the Arm- and embedded itself in it.-
[17:47] <@AdEvaGM> [A moment later, the Arm in its entirety dissolved into dust.-
[17:47] <@AdEvaGM> [But now Mary's arm was free; she lunged forward, grabbed Yanmei roughly by the arm and tossed her over her shoulder. Her AT Field flickered-
[17:47] <@AdEvaGM> [… And Yanmei would find that she couldn't use her AT Field to float anymore.]
[17:50] <Yanmei> It would have been fine if Yanmei had fallen on the platform. But she did not. So down she plunged, into the void, her startled shriek turning quickly into a horrified one.
[17:50] * Aline turned down to see that… Luck wuold have it that she was almost done. "…Shit. On it!"
[17:55] * Sept scrambled back to his feet, too far to get anywhere near reaching Yanmei. He stumbled with the first few steps, blood running from the side of his mouth where he'd bitten his tongue, but found his stride and dashed back towards Mary, recalling his Lance on the way and leaping into the fray to keep her occupied.
[17:57] * Aline was already hopping back at that instant, letting the glowing lash at her waist unfurl, wrapping around the walkway. "…Hang on!" A leap, one boosted by preternatural force, and then Aline held on for dear life, pulling it taut at the apex. Falling around in an arc. …To crash into and intercept Yanmei as she fell, using one hand to hold on as she rounded the circle traced… "Right… now!" The lash responded to her
[17:57] * Aline unspoken command, unbinding, and leaving her and Yanmei at a safer distance, streaking down onto the fray once more.
[18:00] <Yanmei> "CAAAAIIIINNNNEEE!!" Into the fray Yanmei streaked, boot-first, as she aimed a devastating kick squarely at Mary's back.
[18:02] * Sept immediately followed up with a flurry of jabs aimed at keeping Mary off her balance.
[18:04] <@AdEvaGM> [But Mary was faster; she leapt back, grabbed her Lance with both hands, and swung it in a low swipe toward Yanmei's legs.]
[18:08] <Sept> But Sera was focused on shadowing Mary - he followed her move without delay and stepped in to block the blow with the blunt end of the Lance.
[18:10] <Aline> "This…" Aline muttered, not completing the thought verbally. Instead, Sera and Yanmei alike would feel an old sensation - fields beginning to overlap, group synchronization. I need access, so I'm getting it. We need to hold longer! She broadcast to them, and… the merging field washed over them all, the force of souls gliding into their very being, making systems redundant, making pain start to fade. Stand! We must stand!
[18:16] <Yanmei> It… almost made Yanmei pause. But she couldn't afford to now. She didn't even have time to comment out loud. Instead she slashed at Mary with wide, hasty swings aimed at her legs.
[18:18] <@AdEvaGM> [The blow drove Sera to his knees with such force that after a second, he no longer had knees…-
[18:18] <@AdEvaGM> [… And yet the unnatural energy flowing through his body from Aline made this a limited problem; what was left of them slowly knotted together, and his legs still worked. It hurt like God's own insult, but they still worked.-
[18:19] <@AdEvaGM> [Yanmei's sword crashed into Mary's legs- but didn't get very far, as a combination of layered AT Fields and her soul-powered armour repelled most of the damage.]
[18:21] * Sept yelled and hissed in pain, but, with effort, forced himself back to his feet. Again, he left his Lance on his left hand while his right tried to find a hold on Mary's arm.
[18:34] * Aline stared back. …If Mary moved too much, Sera could get shaken off. Her AT field was stretching. What to do, what to… …Right. Her /power/ isn't tied to it! Aline knelt down, and like with the golden excalibur replica, started pulling a new weapon out of the ground, leaving a pit-like 'mold' in its wake. …This one was big, though. Big enough to need two hands even with Solomon augmentation. Aline hefted it up, and it
[18:34] * Aline was pretty clear her aim was going to be clumsy. But she reared back! "C-c'mon!"
[18:42] <Aline> …But soon, Aline thrust it forwards! obvious, but very large and dead-on attack vector. Lots of force, as she was using the last of her field not fortifying the others, to push with all her might! …But the delay gave time to…!
[18:46] <Yanmei> Let Yanmei sweep in close, Excalibur clanging against Mary's lance with enough force to tear it from her hand as Mary tried to slip away from Sera and the impending ranged attack alike.
[18:49] <@AdEvaGM> [The combined offensive was just what they needed. The AT Field aura around Mary flickered then died, a rush of coldness filling the air. She let out a low growl-
[18:49] <@AdEvaGM> [Sera felt it. He felt the strength, the incredible strength, and the power-
[18:49] <@AdEvaGM> [Mary awkwardly dodged aside, evading Aline's deadly lance-
[18:49] <@AdEvaGM> [… Just as Excalibur forced the Lance of Inevitability from her hand and down into the pit.-
[18:50] <@AdEvaGM> [Mary let out a low snarl-
[18:51] <@AdEvaGM> [And the aura around her changed again. She slammed her hand into Sera, tore him off, and threw him as far as she could away- only a few metres.-
[18:51] <@AdEvaGM> [Sera would feel his ribs crack- not from the impact, but from the agonising infusion of several human hands into his internal organs.]
[18:54] <Sept> Sera's throat was plenty sore from the events of the day already, but he found the strength to continue howling in pain, writhing on the ground as his body turned against him.
[19:01] <Yanmei> "Jesus Chri-" Yanmei's left sleeve suddenly erupted to flames, seemingly engulfing her sword and all, and she froze in shock for a moment before information from parts unknown began flooding her brain. It… didn't hurt. And she knew how to use it. So she did, holding both weapons out and firing a wide stream of magma and Excalibur-fire alike at nearly point-blank range.
[19:30] * Aline didn't have much time to think as Yanmei suddenly gained almighty power over fire(?!)… But. She still had her own motion to complete. Spinning on the fulcrum of the large, replica spear, Aline took one breath. The spear broke down into many small darts of sigilite - no edge, no grip, just as sharp a point as she could manage - and with a small wave of a hand, Aline fired them telekinetically into Mary, en masse!
[19:38] <@AdEvaGM> [Mary flicked her hand out, a bolt of magma issuing forth, striking Yanmei's own- and holding it there, the collision causing pinwheels of mad flaming rock to fly in all directions.-
[19:38] <@AdEvaGM> [The sigilite darts tore through Mary's AT Field and into her flesh, causing her to flinch- but not enough to break her stride.]
[19:38] <Sept> Sera's screams had devolved into gasps and muttering as his internals stabilized - or, at least, became numb. "Always continue. Never stop." His eyes were unfocused as he rolled over to his side, planted his hands on the ground and pushed himself up to his knees, slowly. "Just a little more…"
[19:38] <@AdEvaGM> [A little rock of magma flicks onto Sera's face.]
[19:40] * Sept fell back to the ground with a pathetic cry.
[19:48] * Yanmei , for her part, couldn't keep up her side of the magma struggle, and ended up having to break away from it. She opened her mouth as if about to yell something, but the only sound Mary would hear would be the strange, heavenly choir filling her head from the inside, bringing with it all sorts of twisted thoughts and images that were not her own.
[19:48] <@AdEvaGM> [And with that, the room went dark.-
[19:49] <@AdEvaGM> [… When the corrupted lights slowly flickered back to life, they showed Mary, back in the middle of the dias.-
[19:49] <@AdEvaGM> [AT Field energy rippled around her body; she was on her knees, her four wings fading.-
[19:50] <@AdEvaGM> ["I… I see…"]
[19:56] * Sept worked his way back up to his feet, again, and recalled the Lance of Cassius. His posture was more than unsure, but he braced himself as he first aimed a burst of energy at Mary to buy himself some more time. Then, taking a deep breath, he stepped back on one leg, arched back, focused - and flung the Lance at Mary's center mass at full force.
[19:57] <@AdEvaGM> [The lance slammed into Mary's AT Field- struggled for a moment- and then shattered it like a weak egg.]
[20:02] * Aline rose now, a filligree of sigilite wires like baroque wings from her back. "…Once more, all together. Not because you have no choice. But because it will be the first of many free choices." Aline almost whispered, yet it carried. Carried, too, with a song. Toneless, ancient, almost unrecognizable. …As light flowed along those wings. From the walls, from… everywhere. Gleaming, brilliant rainbow glory. The song's nameless
[20:02] * Aline cadence continued higher and higher, until it was forming coherent energy in her hands. Descending… descending, Aline settled a modest distance behind Yanmei, hovering. Waiting. "…She was your emperor. Is your chancellor. Go. She'll know what to do." Whispered like a prayer. -
[20:02] <Aline> The light cascaded over Excalibur's blade, and in such channeling? Lit the room like daylight.
[20:06] <Yanmei> Yanmei didn't quite understand why it was happening. But she knew what felt right. And this - she stepped up to Mary with a slow, unhurried pace, the glowing Excalibur at her side - felt right. -
[20:11] <Yanmei> She stopped a stride or two away from her, steadied her form, eyed her coldly and drew Exalibur back. "Goodbye Mary Caine." Then she ran her through; one silhouette cutting down another in the burning light that surrounded them both.
[20:14] * Aline scarce had time to land. To clasp her hands, and say one word. "Amen."
[20:15] <Sept> The sight burned, perhaps literally to an extent, to Sera's retinas. He stood there, unmoving, barely daring to breathe.
[20:15] <@AdEvaGM> ["… ah."-
[20:15] <@AdEvaGM> [Mary Caine slumped on the blade.-
[20:16] <@AdEvaGM> [… And a moment later, the room filled with a chaotic, rushing sound. A great white billow of smoky energy poured out of Mary's back.-
[20:16] <@AdEvaGM> [It shimmered and convulsed with faces and echoed with old, forgotten voices.-
[20:17] <@AdEvaGM> [It took half a minute for the energy to drain from her; it hovered in the air, then simply faded through the roof. The dead had been freed.-
[20:17] <@AdEvaGM> [The Drive had been destroyed.-
[20:17] <@AdEvaGM> [Mary slid off the end of the blade and onto the floor.-
[20:18] <@AdEvaGM> [The Synfront began to quake. Debris, dust and rubble began to fall from the roof.]
[20:20] * Aline opened her eyes with a start. "…The Dirac jamming is gone. Get over here, we're leaving together!" …At least she had the tact to stand over the injured Sera when she said that. The sigilite wings crumbled, their task done, as Aline's AT field began to spike.
[20:20] <Sept> "…huh?" said Sera.
[20:22] * Yanmei had started to sag when the smoky spectres vanished, but the rumblings and Aline's command made her stop. Instead, she hurried over with a little bit of trouble on account of the suddenly shaking ground. "I-I'm coming already!"
[20:22] <Aline> "…Look. I don't know if it's the Drive or something else, but the place is coming down. And we can jaunt again." A turn to Yanmei. "If Isaiah and Shinji haven't gotten out, let me know. If there's anyone else, let me know! Now's not the time to die from winning!" Frantic, frantic. But… She nodded. "…Here goes." -
[20:24] <Aline> Aline pictured somewhere. Somewhere safe. Something they all could know was in no danger. …Unbidden, the image came to her. -
[20:24] <Aline> Shoop.
[20:28] <@AdEvaGM> […-
[20:29] <@AdEvaGM> [It was dark. Things were falling apart around her.-
[20:29] <@AdEvaGM> [Her body was broken, her powers had fled, and her goals lay in ruins, yet…-
[20:29] <@AdEvaGM> ["Mary."-
[20:30] <@AdEvaGM> [Ephraim knelt next to her, his arms around her. He was crying.-
[20:30] <@AdEvaGM> ["You should go." Said Mary.-
[20:30] <@AdEvaGM> ["Not this time."-
[20:30] <@AdEvaGM> ["Silly boy."-
[20:30] <@AdEvaGM> [Yet why did Mary feel so… Light?-
[20:31] <@AdEvaGM> [The burden had been lifted from her shoulders.-
[20:31] <@AdEvaGM> ["Ephraim. Thank you." Said Mary. "I'm sorry."-
[20:31] <@AdEvaGM> [Ephraim didn't say anything; he merely took her hand and kissed it.-
[20:32] <@AdEvaGM> [She wanted to close her eyes…-
[20:32] <@AdEvaGM> [But she couldn't. There was still someone she was supposed to meet.-
[20:32] <@AdEvaGM> [At the end of the hall were a group of people.-
[20:33] <@AdEvaGM> [There was Elisha, wearing a cocky smile. Next to him, looking a little fretful, was Azariah.-
[20:33] <@AdEvaGM> [They had their hands on the shoulders of a young lady that Mary didn't know as well as she wanted- Athena…-
[20:33] <@AdEvaGM> [And next to her was a pretty, young girl with black hair. Holly…-
[20:34] <@AdEvaGM> ["It's about time." Said Holly.-
[20:34] <@AdEvaGM> ["I know. I'm home, now."-
[20:34] <@AdEvaGM> ["Welcome home." Said Elisha Caine.]
[20:34] <@AdEvaGM> […-
[20:34] <@AdEvaGM> [When the Trinity manifested again, they did so on the outstretched hand of Evangelion Test-Type Model Unit 01.-
[20:35] <@AdEvaGM> [All around them, the battle was closing. The Synfront was sinking to the earth, the Dorian was slowly limping out of its way, and Federation forces- and their many, many allies- were regrouping around the Gendo.]
[20:40] * Sept was still holding on to Aline, looking at the two of them in turn.-
[20:40] <Sept> "What happened? Wh-what did we do?"
[20:41] <Aline> "…" Aline just remained silent, helmet disappearing once more. Just in time to give Yanmei a nervous, pensive look.
[20:41] <Yanmei> "We won," said Yanmei simply. She was staring out over the battlefield. The sinking Synfront. She felt suddenly numb. -
[20:43] <Yanmei> "Isaiah's group got out okay," she added after a long moment. "I think… I think we're good. Now."
[20:44] <@AdEvaGM> [The Synfront crashed to earth.-
[20:45] <@AdEvaGM> [It obliterated the remains of Nairobi-2 and buried itself deeper into the ground. Its surface cracked and broke, caving in on itself.-
[20:45] <@AdEvaGM> [When all was said and done, the Synfront buried itself beneath its own weight.]
[20:46] <@AdEvaGM> [The other two Trinity Evas approached; they stopped, a few metres from 01, shielding the pilots from view.]
[20:46] <Sept> "We won," Sera repeated, hollowly. Tears started welling up in his eyes as he sat down, hands on his knees.
[20:49] <Aline> Aline shifted away from Sera, now that he sat. …She too sat down, nestling on a finger gap. …And then laid down fully, looking up at the stars. "In time." She said quietly. "In time, cruel fate's wounds will heal."
[20:50] * Yanmei eyed the approaching Evas warily. Now came the unknown part. And… the remorse. She didn't join them in sitting, and instead looked away. "I'm sorry, Sera."
[20:52] <Sept> "I-it's-" he stammered, hyperventilating. He never finished the sentence, sobbing into his hands.
[20:53] <@AdEvaGM> [00 and 04 held out their hands, joining 01's.-
[20:53] <@AdEvaGM> [On 00's hand appeared Tsubaki; on 04's appeared Isaiah.-
[20:53] <@AdEvaGM> ["Aline." Said Tsubaki gently. "It's time."]
[20:55] <Aline> Getting back up to her feet, if slowly… Aline eventually nodded her head once. "…Yeah." And she strode over the gap, sparing one last long glance at Sera's grief. Stars reflected on the lens of her glasses.
[20:56] <@AdEvaGM> ["Yanmei." Said Isaiah gently.]
[21:00] <Yanmei> "I know?" But she seemed reluctant to move. Eventually, as the seconds ticked by, it seemed as if she had no choice. She limped forward to join Isaiah. "It will be okay," she said aloud, but the words echoed foolishly in her own ears.
[21:01] <@AdEvaGM> [Isaiah took her up in his arms.-
[21:02] <@AdEvaGM> [Sera was left alone.-
[21:02] <@AdEvaGM> [… If only for a moment.-
[21:02] <@AdEvaGM> [Two people sat at his side.-
[21:02] <@AdEvaGM> [To his left was Freya Solheim; to his right, Ginevre Fontaine.-
[21:03] <@AdEvaGM> ["You came back." Whispered Freya, as she wrapped her arms around him.-
[21:03] <@AdEvaGM> [Ginevre smiled, and closed her eyes, and wept as well.]
[21:05] * Sept held her tightly in response.-
[21:05] <Sept> "F-for now."
[21:06] <@AdEvaGM> [And then it began.-
[21:06] <@AdEvaGM> […-
[21:07] <@AdEvaGM> [Raphael Guillory stood on stars.-
[21:08] <@AdEvaGM> [That was, really, all it could be called. He was standing on the naked sky, and all around him the universe twinkled and hummed and shone in all its splendour.-
[21:08] <@AdEvaGM> [The stars, Raphael felt, were singing, although the song they sang he could not understand.-
[21:08] <@AdEvaGM> [But Raphael was not alone.-
[21:09] <@AdEvaGM> [Sitting in front of him, about ten metres away, was a stranger, a woman he had never met.-
[21:10] <@AdEvaGM> [… But no, it wasn't a woman; rather it was human, fully human, beyond gender, sex, or the boundaries of the flesh. Before him sat a realised human being, with golden skin, silver hair, eyes of blue and four long arms.-
[21:11] <@AdEvaGM> ["We meet at last." Said They, and Their voice was full of such fondness and pride that it could scarely be believed.-
[21:11] <@AdEvaGM> ["I am the Solemn Exarch."]
[21:17] <Raphael> It was a lot to take in, and Raphael seemed to be trying to take it all in at once; the sky, the stars, the strange golden figure before him, they all got their turn. In the end it was looking down that clarified matters - he stood on the open sky with two whole, undamaged legs.-
[21:17] <Raphael> "Huh," he murmured. "I assumed there'd be more fanfare."
[21:18] <@AdEvaGM> [They laughed.-
[21:19] <@AdEvaGM> ["Fanfare becomes a little old after awhile."]
[21:22] <Raphael> "Mm, it does."-
[21:22] <Raphael> Now he came a little closer, watching the Exarch with curiosity and more than a little caution. "So, sir, is this a service you're providing everyone…?"
[21:23] <@AdEvaGM> ["A one-on-one talk?"]
[21:23] <Raphael> "Mhmm."
[21:24] <@AdEvaGM> [They smiled. "I intend to. Whether I have the chance to do so or not… That's the decision that you have to make."-
[21:25] <@AdEvaGM> ["So… Here's your chance. To ask me questions, to say whatever you want."]
[21:26] <Raphael> "Because you want what Ikari left to me to refuse."
[21:28] <@AdEvaGM> ["Yes," They said. "That is the decision that has been left to you."]
[21:30] <Raphael> "Pardon me for saying so… Exarch?" he tested the word, and gave a small nod. "Pardon me for saying so, but it seems to me that you'd be best served by telling me what I wanted to hear."
[21:30] <@AdEvaGM> ["You fear that I might lie."]
[21:35] <Raphael> "A little, yes," he agreed. Realizing that physical distance probably mattered little in this space, he chose to sit opposite the Exarch.-
[21:35] <Raphael> "Ezekiel spoke highly of you, and I will say that counts for a lot, but the FAR have been… uneven stewards of my species, let's say."
[21:35] <@AdEvaGM> ["I understand."-
[21:37] <@AdEvaGM> ["Things have not turned out as I had hoped." They said gently. "And I am afraid of what that might mean in the grand scheme of things. The children of the Dawn Maiden carried with them the power to rebuild the Celestial Way…"-
[21:38] <@AdEvaGM> ["… But let us remain on topic." Said the Solemn Exarch. "I cannot blame you for your skepticism, not after so many years of neglect."-
[21:39] <@AdEvaGM> ["But you know the Emissary, Ezekiel. You know, then, that our proclaimations are more than mere words, but binding oaths that we are forced to obey, no matter how powerful we are? If I were to bind myself in oath to the spirit of the truth, would that allay your fears?"]
[21:43] <Raphael> "Hmm. I don't want to offend you, given the…" he gestured vaguely towards the grand, endless sweep of the cosmos around him, "Well, the everything, but I think it would."
[21:44] <@AdEvaGM> ["You're not going to offend me, Raphael." Said the Solemn Exarch with a smile.-
[21:44] <@AdEvaGM> ["I swear upon my soul to tell to you, and to all humanity, the full truth, in its spirit as well as its letter."]
[21:47] <Raphael> "Thank you," he inclined his head respectfully. "I swear the same upon mine, although it may not carry the same weight."
[21:47] <@AdEvaGM> ["Thank you."]
[21:48] <Raphael> "So. Did Mr. de Pteres carry my message…?"
[21:49] <@AdEvaGM> ["Regarding the Aegis, and the question being put to humanity?"]
[21:49] <Raphael> "Quite."
[21:50] <@AdEvaGM> ["Yes." Said the Exarch.]
[21:55] <Raphael> "Good to know. Do you have an opinion on the matter, Exarch?"
[21:56] <@AdEvaGM> ["The question will be put to humanity." Said the Exarch. "And they will decide what it is that I do."]
[22:08] <Raphael> Raphael smile widened a fraction. "But," he pressed, "I wondered whether you had an opinion on the question, Exarch."-
[22:08] <Raphael> "My perspective…" he gave a shrug, "I made the best of what I had, but I know it was limited. Judging from the trappings yours is, well, less so."
[22:10] <@AdEvaGM> ["To be honest, I'm impressed." Said the Exarch. "To say Elisha Caine had a headstart on you is an understatement. He was steeped in the big questions from the time he was six. You… Ought to be proud of your achievement."-
[22:14] <@AdEvaGM> ["As for my opinion, I believe that the original plan is best." Said the Solemn Exarch. "For humanity to return with their bodies all-but safe from hunger and sickness, with the Light of the Soul alive and manifest. For the power of Destiny itself to be broken at its source… Which, when all is done, would be me."]
[22:28] <Raphael> "Mm."-
[22:29] <Raphael> He was quiet a while staring down at the stars beneath him. "… well, I promised my honesty, so here we go: Is there a good reason I should trust that fate to you, Exarch, when the FAR's judgement has been no friend to humanity?"-
[22:29] <Raphael> "I've seen your city, and I've listened to Ezekiel speak… I know your people were powerful and to be respected, but you're a long, long way from infallible. You're above us, but just about everything is. We're only here because of your mistakes, and even then only barely given that other elements of your plan have been trying very hard to kill us."-
[22:30] <Raphael> "Often they have killed us," he said, looking up. "In a lot of truly horrific ways."-
[22:30] <Raphael> "So let's start there. Why would I ever trust my family to the FAR again?"
[22:30] <@AdEvaGM> ["Because I now know what it means to be human."]
[22:33] <Raphael> His stare grew a little colder. "If you'll forgive me, Exarch, your human self is at the root of maybe a third of that. Misato showed me what really caused Impact."
[22:35] <@AdEvaGM> ["I know." Said the Exarch. "But think you that I am Elisha Caine and Elisha Caine alone?"-
[22:39] <@AdEvaGM> ["Elisha Caine I was once, but I was a thousand lifetimes besides. I have been a murderer and a victim. I have been a warrior on the battlefields and an innocent cut down before my time. I have had great wealth and unbreakable poverty, loyal friends and loneliness. I have seen all that I have loved wiped out by an act of God, and I have put villages to the torch. I have been a lover of peace, and a being of hate."-
[22:40] <@AdEvaGM> ["I have been born blind, and born sick, and abandoned to die before I could walk, and sometimes I have grown very old."-
[22:43] <@AdEvaGM> ["And in all that time I, and all of humanity, have been at the whims of Destiny." Said the Exarch- but then They smiled. "And I am no different. Only the very young amongst humanity have the luxury of having nothing they regret."-
[22:44] <@AdEvaGM> ["You are right. I am not infallible." Said the Exarch. "But being as I am, when I make errors they are of great magnitude."-
[22:48] <@AdEvaGM> ["I did not seek to model humanity in my image, or to rule over it. I came to be absolved by the grace of humanity, should they wish it, and if they should wish it, to bestow upon them the future that they have, beautiful accidents, earned and have deserved all this time."-
[22:50] <@AdEvaGM> ["And then I will sleep, and maybe never rise again, or if I do, it will be in a time when humanity is more than my equal."-
[22:51] <@AdEvaGM> ["If you do not trust me to do this properly, then I respect your opinion. You have that right. I will not ask you to change it."-
[22:51] <@AdEvaGM> ["But there is merely one thing I do ask, one favour, from this old one to the young."]
[22:55] * Raphael just stared, unblinking and unmoving, before finally giving the Exarch a small nod.
[22:57] <@AdEvaGM> ["Do not blame Misato for keeping the secret of Second Impact. She was afraid." Said the Exarch. "If you haven't already, forgive her. It was not her fault. She should not suffer, not for my sake, not anymore."]
[22:59] <Raphael> "… we discussed it," he said quietly, glancing away. "We discussed a lot today. There's nothing to forgive."
[23:01] <@AdEvaGM> ["I am glad. She was dear to me, once, in the world that was. Please take good care of her, whatever happens."]
[23:06] <Raphael> His head turned slowly, and he was left giving the Exarch a long, quizzical look. "What does that…?"-
[23:07] <Raphael> "You know what? It doesn't matter," he said with a sigh. "I will. Of course I will."-
[23:09] <Raphael> "This should never have been my choice to make, but I'll make it as best I can all the same," he said quietly. He didn't know what was supposed to come next, but he looked up at the stars above and decided to do what felt right.-
[23:09] <Raphael> "Ms. Ikari?"
[23:10] <@AdEvaGM> ["Mr. Raphael?"-
[23:10] <@AdEvaGM> [And there she was.-
[23:11] <@AdEvaGM> [Rei stood a little to his right, her head cocked to one side as though listening to something.-
[23:11] <@AdEvaGM> [Her eyes were green and her hair was brown but… She looked so much like his Rei.-
[23:11] <@AdEvaGM> [Then she turned toward him and smiled. "We finally get to talk."]
[23:15] <Raphael> "We do," he said, turning to look at her with the same smile he'd wore a million times with Rei Ayanami. "It's lovely to properly meet you."-
[23:15] <Raphael> And incongruously, while sitting on nothing but starlight under the eyes of the closest thing he would ever see to God, Raphael extended her hand for her to shake.
[23:15] <@AdEvaGM> [She took it and, with a giggle, curtsied.]
[23:17] * Raphael 's grin was real and wholehearted.-
[23:17] <Raphael> "Ms. Ikari, I believe it's time to give people their choice. Does that sound ok to you?"
[23:17] <@AdEvaGM> ["Yeah, it does."]
[23:18] <Raphael> "Good. Is there anything more I need to do?"
[23:19] <@AdEvaGM> ["No, that's it."-
[23:20] <@AdEvaGM> [She bowed. "Thank you for looking after my family."]
[23:22] * Raphael returned the gesture as well as he could. "It was my honour, ma'am."
[23:22] <@AdEvaGM> ["I'll see you again soon, Mr. Raphael."-
[23:22] <@AdEvaGM> [… And then she was gone.-
[23:23] <@AdEvaGM> ["Whatever humanity goes with, all souls will be given the choice- the dead, the living, and those trapped inside the Evangelions or the Eternity Drive." Said the Exarch.-
[23:24] <@AdEvaGM> ["And then they will each have their own choice to make: whether to return to life, whether to be reborn in a new life- or to leave forever with the Dawn Maiden."-
[23:24] <@AdEvaGM> [The Exarch stood.-
[23:25] <@AdEvaGM> ["The world will be healed of its scars, its climate cleaned, and those many creatures and plants that were lost will be returned. Most of the new ones, the ferals and the spawn, will go as well."-
[23:26] <@AdEvaGM> ["… But not all." The Exarch laughed. "Remy would be very upset, and besides, that penguin friend of yours still has another eighty years in him yet."]
[23:30] * Raphael stood in turn. "Minimum, Exarch. He's spoilt."
[23:31] <@AdEvaGM> [The Exarch laughed.-
[23:32] <@AdEvaGM> ["… There is the possibility that your family, those lost in Impact, will return." They said, serious now. "They definitely have that option. But there is also the possibility that they will not."-
[23:32] <@AdEvaGM> ["… But you will have a chance to speak to them, no matter what happens."]
[23:35] * Raphael stared in plain disbelief, soul oath or no. "You'd do that…?"
[23:37] <@AdEvaGM> ["Of course." Said the Exarch. And then They laughed.-
[23:37] <@AdEvaGM> ["Humanity will have the chance to know all of humanity. To truly understand one another. Everyone will have the chance to speak to whoever they want to speak with."-
[23:37] <@AdEvaGM> [And then the Exarch's smile faded. "… Because for some, it will be goodbye. Goodbye for a very, very long time."]
[23:41] * Raphael nodded slowly, his eyes meeting Theirs.-
[23:41] <Raphael> "… I understand asking anything of you is laughable, Exarch. I'll try anyway, if I may?"
[23:42] <@AdEvaGM> ["You have every right to ask. I am listening."]
[23:45] <Raphael> He pointed towards the Exarch's chest.-
[23:45] <Raphael> "The part of you that was Sera de Pteres? He deserves something better than entombment for his troubles," he said. He stood straight and met the Solomn Exarch's stare with his own. "He did his part, even when it cost him. If there's a way to reward him for that, it would only be right."
[23:46] <@AdEvaGM> [The Exarch stared.-
[23:46] <@AdEvaGM> [And then They laughed, long and wondrously.-
[23:46] <@AdEvaGM> ["Don't worry, Raphael Guillory. Sera de Pteres is far from done with the world of the living."]
[23:48] * Raphael nodded firmly. "Good."-
[23:48] <Raphael> And then he smiled - only a little, but it was there.
[23:49] <@AdEvaGM> [The Exarch smiled as well- and held out a hand. "I'm glad I had the chance to speak to you like this."]
[23:51] <Raphael> "Likewise, Exarch," he said, and reached to shake. "Although I admit this was, uh, not what I was expecting."
[23:52] <@AdEvaGM> ["What were you expecting?"]
[23:55] <Raphael> "Oh, something more markedly apocalyptic. A giant unknowable god, fields of crosses…"-
[23:55] <Raphael> He shrugged. "The people who led us here were intolerably fond of spectacle."
[23:56] <@AdEvaGM> ["Spectacle, like fanfare, gets old." Said the Solemn Exarch.-
[23:57] <@AdEvaGM> ["Still…"-
[23:57] <@AdEvaGM> ["I think I will begin on my last work."-
[23:58] <@AdEvaGM> ["But take a moment to listen closely to the music of the stars, and you will see… My very last little bit of vanity."]
[23:59] <Raphael> And he did. Still gripping the Exarch's hand, Raphael shut his eyes and listened.
[23:59] <@AdEvaGM> [And so as the strange reality they were in began to fade, so Raphael could join the others, he would hear it, the 'last vanity' of the Solemn Exarch: the song of the stars.-
Session Time: Mon Dec 18 00:00:00 2017
[00:00] <@AdEvaGM> [And finally he understood the words.-
[00:00] <@AdEvaGM> [Hail, Solemn Exarch, who sealed away the Enemy with your own flesh. Hail, Solemn Exarch, brightest of stars.-
[00:00] <@AdEvaGM> [The music was falling silent.]
[00:03] <Raphael> And Raphael fell with it, barely having time to mutter, "Not entirely free of Elisha's ego, are you?"-
[00:03] <Raphael> Then he was gone.

[12:23] <Minaplo> [Hail, Solemn Exarch, brightest of stars.-
[12:23] <Minaplo> [The stars were singing. Gently, quietly, audible only to those who knew how to listen.-
[12:24] <Minaplo> [But Aline Blanc knew how to listen. And the stars were all around her; they were her ground, her sky, the walls.-
[12:24] <Minaplo> [Aline was not alone in the cosmos.-
[12:25] <Minaplo> [Sitting in front of her was a divine being, a perfect human form beyond sex, gender or phenotype. Four strong, elegant arms, golden skin and silver hair and eyes of blue.-
[12:26] <Minaplo> ["Well done." They said, their voice fervent and full of affection and pride. "Well done."]
[12:27] * Aline …briefly just stood, or maybe sat, with a smile. A satisfied smile. "…Thank you." She paused. "…So that's what you look like. …Maybe."
[12:32] <Minaplo> ["For now, at least. I have had many forms in my lifetime, but I think this one has more relevance to humanity's struggle than anything else."]
[12:34] <Aline> "Ohhhhh…" Aline said, with a nod. "So. … How does this conversation go? …I'm glad for the praise, and I know we all earned it…"
[12:43] <Minaplo> ["It is simple. You, and all of humanity, are being posed a question: what shall be done to humanity to free it of Destiny? There are two plans- Elisha Caine's original plan, and the new plan Raphael Guillory submitted."-
[12:53] <Minaplo> ["The original plan sees the power of Destiny erased at its core- by stripping it from me." Said the Exarch. "In the process, humanity's biology is improved, making it healthier and more resilient. Humanity will no longer starve and almost never die of illness. Its AT Fields will be unlocked, and a form of the S2 Organ will be embedded within all humanity."-
[12:54] <Minaplo> ["Guillory's plan involves using the Aegis- a soul engraving he learned from Azariah's own plans- imprinted on the idea of humanity, so that all human souls, now and forever, will be marked with the Aegis, rendering it immune to humanity. Humanity will otherwise physically remain as is."]
[12:58] * Aline thought. …Not for very long. "As much as I can imagine some kind of awkwardness of that kind of… 'post-scarcity, post-suffering' reality? … …I would support Elisha's original plan. Maybe even just slap Guillory's on top of it if it /did anything more/. Just pragmatically, the worst of humanity's problems have come from inequality and privation removing any chance of rising to equality." -
[12:59] <Aline> She assumed a smaller, more embarrassed voice. "…Also it'd be cooler Elisha's way."
[12:59] <Minaplo> [The Exarch laughed.-
[13:00] <Minaplo> ["I suppose a reality where all have the power to warp space around them is indeed cooler."]
[13:02] <Aline> "Practically by definition!" Aline noted. "…But really, that aside, I. …I've always been on the transhuman side of whether augmentation is or isn't inherently wrong. …The real problem is misapplication? Like, there being a class of beings who are physically superior in dramatic ways, just because someone paid to make them supersoldiers. Or that a physically superior class is put into social inferiority through schemata of
[13:02] <Aline> control. …which we could spend a lot of time exploring the full depths of."
[13:02] <Minaplo> [The Exarch nodded.-
[13:04] <Minaplo> ["Already those questions are being raised about human society." Said the Exarch. "But perhaps they will be given more considerate thought if the bulk of humanity has the freedom to focus on such questions without dwelling on personal risks."-
[13:05] <Minaplo> ["But such questions will not be put to bed forever. Sooner rather than later, humanity will have to deal with the other peoples with whom it shares this galaxy. Some will be friendly, others will be indifferent, and a few, no doubt, will be hostile."-
[13:05] <Minaplo> ["But each will have their strengths and powers, some weaker than humanity's and some greater."]
[13:06] <Aline> "Right, and being of their own entity would be important, too. …Either way, my answer is still as such!" Aline said with a firm nod.
[13:07] <Minaplo> ["I expected nothing less."-
[13:08] <Minaplo> ["Nonetheless you have the freedom and time to ask me questions, or indeed, meet with others." Said the Exarch. "In this place, time and space aren't that important. Anyone within the great shared consciousness- every single human soul, living and dead, plus those non humans within… And of course me."]
[13:11] * Aline …paused, thinking about that. "…I do have one." A sucking in of air, mostly to show tension. "What happened with Lilith? I don't mean the accidental landing. I mean… I mean how it seemed as though every time humanity turned around, Lilith was stalking, building up schemes to destroy it. How much we have suffered by her will. How even much she seemed to just… what. Go ballistic and attack Adam?"
[13:15] <Minaplo> ["A fine question." They sighed.-
[13:16] <Minaplo> ["Let me preface it with this lesson: in the ancient days, our name for ourselves was 'Those with Thought'." Said the Exarch. "Because we thought, in ages past, that we were the only thinking entities. We were wrong, of course, but the road of our evolution is a long one."-
[13:18] <Minaplo> ["But by the time we met other thinking beings, they had their own name for us: 'The Speakers of the Word'. It is a simple acknowledgement that our Words had power. Obviously we could reshape reality with our AT Fields, but in some ways, we were rewriting existence in our own tongue."-
[13:19] <Minaplo> ["And so it has always been that our Words have a great power, even over ourselves. You know of Ezekiel, the Emissary, and how he is a being of great power, yet he claims that much of his power is bound by oaths and promises? He speaks true- our Word is literally our law, and it is utterly binding on ourselves. In a sense, it is a form of Destiny reserved for us and us alone."]
[13:22] <Aline> "…So I'm to assume that she made an oath that turned out to be … hamstringing when humanity happened?"
[13:47] <Minaplo> ["I could explain… But would you prefer to ask her yourself?"]
[13:49] * Aline stopped there, staring foro a second. "… I should've understood she'd be here. …I. …I suppose I could."
[15:10] <Minaplo> [And there she was.-
[15:11] <Minaplo> [She had the same milky-white complexion of Tsubaki or an Ayanami, and her hair was white like Aline's; one of her eyes was red like Rei's and the other was deep blue.-
[15:12] <Minaplo> [She was short. Maybe about five feet tall. But she had a slender, willow-like build that made her seem like she was poised on tiptoe like a ballerina.-
[15:13] <Minaplo> ["Hello, sister." Said Lilith, the Dawn Maiden, the seed of fallen humanity. Her tone was frosty, but- Aline could hear- hidden deep underneath it, was an undercurrent of hurt.]
[15:15] * Aline slowly nodded her head. "…So we meet in a different context, finally. …Did you hear how I asked of you to the Exarch or uh. Should I repeat myself?" …Aline was knitting her hands nervously, and it seemed like there was a slight undercurrent of fear. "…Yanmei always heard the family thing more heavily than I did, sorry."
[15:18] <Minaplo> ["Repeat it."]
[15:36] <Aline> "What happened?" Aline began. "…The Exarch explained the power of oaths, see. …And uh." Finger-bridge. "…The implication is something you swore to, made humanity your enemy. … …I had wondered why. And now, what. Had there been any way to adapt… all this fighting. Against A… the Youthful King. Against humans. Apparently even Mary's extreme actions… Could've been averted?" A long sigh, and sitting even lower. "…You
[15:36] <Aline> have to notice I'm terrified of you."
[15:38] <Minaplo> ["I can't hurt you here, even if I wanted to. Besides, I never meant you any ill will." Said Lilith.-
[15:38] <Minaplo> ["I'll explain it as clearly as possible."-
[15:39] <Minaplo> ["The great reincarnation called for seven volunteers. I was one of them. You nearly volunteered, but I didn't want you to have to go through with it." She said.-
[15:42] <Minaplo> ["We were given a mission, each, to seed life according to our portfolios. But our life wasn't intended to be random or circumstantial. We had extremely deliberate models intended for our children. This is because each of our Children carried within them a precious power from one of the lost Friends of the First Federation. Before the Enemy came, there were 170 different member peoples, and after only three, and two were in no state to do anything. But we were able to salvage some of the powers from those we lost." Lilith sat now, one leg primly over the other; her hair cascaded down to her hips. Her lips, Aline would notice, were tinted a light orange instead of red.-
[15:43] <Minaplo> ["The power my Children carried was the power to make paths through reality. Before the Enemy came, the bearers of that power created… A great network of paths, like roads or highways, throughout the galaxy that the First Federation used to travel. I was intended to birth the inheritors of that power, so they could create more paths, rebuild the existing ones, and unite all the offspring of the great reincarnation."-
[15:46] <Minaplo> ["It was an important power. The galaxy couldn't afford to be deprived of it. So I swore an oath, that I would see the power carried on, no matter the cost."-
[15:47] <Minaplo> ["And then they changed us." She said, shuddering a little.]
[15:49] <Aline> "…Changed." Aline repeated. "I've seen the body you were given. It. … …Did not look good. I assume there's some explanation but believe me, even filtered by human experience as it is… I have a sense the looks were maybe a sign of the truly bad parts." She was starting to understand, tremoring a bit less on her own.
[15:50] <Minaplo> ["It was quite the fall, yes." Said Lilith bitterly.-
[15:52] <Minaplo> ["… I can't blame them. They told me what was going to happen. I knew it. But… Once we were Life and Knowledge combined. The understanding of the cosmos on one hand and the awareness of every little thing around you, and the power to shape it, to live with it… To be so full of… Just, the purest vitality, to feel golden sunlight inside yourself."-
[15:52] <Minaplo> ["But they had to take it away. And I felt… Cold."-
[15:55] <Minaplo> ["I never intended to land here. Something went wrong, but I couldn't control my seedship." Said Lilith, a hollow look on her face. "The Youthful King was here, but neither of us could leave. My ship had been too heavily damaged, and my Lance was broken. I needed a Lance to activate the seeding."-
[16:01] <Minaplo> ["I wasn't trying to start a war." Said Lilith coldly. "But there wasn't any way to share the world, and reasoning with the Youthful King… Wasn't going to work. He wasn't going to give up his Lance or his Seedship. He took the same oaths I did."-
[16:02] <Minaplo> ["And those oaths meant I had to do whatever was necessary to spread the seed. So I… Tried to borrow the Lance."]
[16:11] <Aline> "Well then." Aline noted. "… …I'm not entirely sure what I'd do different. … …I guess you're amply lucky that it /technically/ worked out alright in the end? …" -
[16:13] <Aline> Aline frowned deeply. "I'm sorry. …I don't know what happened across all of that time, but I'm sorry there was nothing we could do until now, and that communication seemed to be… completely lost. So it was just a fight at cross-purposes because nobody had an answer."
[18:04] <Minaplo> ["That's it." Said Lilith, nodding. "The irony is? If you had been my intended children, you would've been able to interpret my will, but since you weren't, I had to brute force it."-
[18:05] <Minaplo> ["The key, so to speak, was inside the safe, and the only option I had was to fashion a new key."-
[18:06] <Minaplo> ["Humanity wasn't my enemy. But I had no obligation to protect humanity. My purpose lay elsewhere. You were simply a purpose to an end."]
[18:18] <Aline> "Oh that… …'s… …reassuring." Aline said with an aaaaawkward pause. "By which I sarcastically mean that it sort of. Isn't. I mean it's in the past but…"
[18:21] <Minaplo> ["… And?"-
[18:22] <Minaplo> ["I spent billions of local years slowly putting my very consciousness back together from the brink of oblivion." Said Lilith, her tone hurt. "I'm sorry if I hurt some of you, but I notice that none of you seemed to spare any thoughts for me, trapped in that state for eons. You've freed me now, but you're only doing this to get me out of the way."]
[18:25] <Aline> "…We had no way of knowing." Aline said. But then she looked up at the stars for a moment. "No. …That's not fair. I had no way of knowing. If I did, it was itself held back in ignorance. …From not knowing you existed, to seeing you as less of a person and more a thing. Then a force of nature. Then an enemy. Then… I have no idea what I even thought of you once…" Aline paused again. She had no idea what time she was even
[18:25] <Aline> talking about. -
[18:27] <Aline> "I could say a million things I would've done were I you. Maybe that's why I wanted to take your place. Maybe that's why you stopped me. I don't remember yet. …There's… no way of knowing what has happened to, what measure of a 'person' is, someone… When all you know is they are an existence beyond you. When you see their inert body and all there is is… a mass, twisted and pale, chopped up by its keepers." -
[18:29] <Aline> "When nightmares are what holding you within brings. When people think of you as a half-dead weapon. …" Aline's face was twisting in … sad anger? "If I knew anything I would have tried more. If you could have done anything, I'd have hoped you did. …" Then looking down. -
[18:29] <Aline> "Lucking into a good ending helps."
[18:30] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[18:30] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[18:30] <Minaplo> ["Yeah." She said.-
[18:31] <Minaplo> ["I liked having you around my soul again." She mumbled.]
[18:33] <Aline> "…" Twitch. Not of rage. Of… "At least. …I." She shook her head. "If… …No. I mean I…" Hand clench. Open. Clench. "If there is anyone who doesn't know what it felt like, I'll say it. …I can't forget that you used us, any more than you can forget we used you. …But I can forgive. And I can hope that we don't actually just get you out of the way." -
[18:34] <Aline> "…When you reach the promised place, and begin rebuilding the ways. …I'll try to remind humanity, when it runs across them, to respect where they come from, even if it's a legacy of hurting."
[18:36] <Minaplo> ["Okay. I think I can live with that, sister."]
[18:38] <Aline> "As can I." Aline's expression shifted. "…Hey. Would asking you to mess with Yanmei while we're all here be too familiar? …Is she that kind … was? …that kind of sister?" Aline shook her head. "Have to remember she's mine, too. …Come to think…" -
[18:38] <Aline> "Er, rambling. I think messing with her a bit before some bonding sounds like how either of us would relate to her."
[18:39] <Minaplo> [The Exarch raised a single delicate eyebrow.-
[18:41] <Minaplo> ["I think she hates me now, but she's also a giant soft touch so I'm sure I can think of something." Said Lilith.-
[18:42] <Minaplo> ["Do you want to know the funny thing?" Said Lilith. "When I stole those powers from Adam, do you know which one Watcher ended up taking?"]
[18:42] <Aline> "No! …I mean. …The rest of ours were really obvious once Mary set them free. Yanmei seemed to do… nothing immediate."
[18:46] <Minaplo> ["She had the power to calculate when and where to be born to maximise her impact on the history of your species… And controlled her own birth, free of even by ability to direct via Destiny." Lilith snorted. "Big surprise, right?"-
[18:46] <Minaplo> ["The big control freak won't even let me help her be born, that's how bad she is. You all chose her to be your leader? Good luck. No wonder she was mother's favourite."]
[18:48] <Aline> "I mean it makes sense, from what little my current self knows about said mother." Aline made a big show of muttering things about "[something something] Eggs, [gibberish] viruses and [rambling] screaming voices of the soul." …Those weren't words that got missed. That's arguably not possible here. …Aline just intentionally projected the sensation of faux-grumpy gibberish. -
[18:49] <Aline> "…I'm sure the world will do okay in the advisorship tier of her administration."
[18:52] <Minaplo> ["I'm sure it will." Said Lilith. "She still has Peaceful around to keep her sane, if nothing else."-
[18:52] <Minaplo> ["Aline." Said the Exarch.]
[18:53] * Aline tttturned. "Yeah, Exie?" Oh no.
[18:53] <Minaplo> [Lilith giggled.-
[18:54] <Minaplo> [The Exarch took it in stride, like a very large calm dog being mobbed by little puppies. "Every human being has a choice, besides the one I gave you before: to return to your life, to end it and reincarnate anew, or to make the voyage into the unknown with the Dawn Maiden."-
[18:55] <Minaplo> ["You do not have to decide now, but it might nonetheless be a good chance to explain- or to say goodbye."]
[18:57] * Aline nodded. "…I think I'm better served as - if we can even do it - staying with humanity as my current life. …If you need help with candidates to go with you, though." Looking to Lilith. "I can give you advice or put in good words. …There's going to be obstacles, but there's ways to get around them."
[18:57] <Aline> Beat. "Do it I mean… Being a potential seed for mankind to spread with. Sorry, lost that thought midsentence."
[19:00] <Minaplo> ["I understand." Said Lilith, nodding slowly. "I only really need four thousand or so souls… And at least seven ancestral ones. I think I can manage."-
[19:00] <Minaplo> ["I think I'll miss you a little though."]
[19:02] <Aline> "Heh, yeah. …I'll try to see what can be done to bridge the gap of space again, here on Earth." A smirk. "…I had wanted to help with that well before now anyway."
[19:03] <Minaplo> ["Hah, I know."]
[19:05] <Aline> A broader smile. "Makes sense! …But thanks for listening, and explaining. I'd say you need time to address other people than just me, but. What even is time here, rhetorically speaking?" … -
[19:06] * Aline didn't leave it at that, though. With a preternatural glide because in a spaceless space she knew she could get away with that? Aline (a bit forcefully) hugged Lilith. "No more terror."
[19:14] <Minaplo> ["Mph."-
[19:15] <Minaplo> [Lilith slowly hugged her back. "No more terror."-
[19:15] <Minaplo> ["Sometimes you can be very sweet."]
[15:27] * Aline smiled, softly. "…Thanks." She let herself bask in that moment, for a little.
[15:33] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[15:33] <Minaplo> ["I'm sure there's other people you want to speak with. I'll leave you to it, Librarian."]
[15:43] <Aline> "There are, yeah. Thanks…!" Aline noted, bowing her head as she broke off.


[21:25] <Minaplo> [Hail, Solemn Exarch, who sealed away the Enemy with your own flesh.-
[21:38] <Minaplo> [The world around him had fallen away, and was lighter for it. It was no longer his problem.-
[21:39] <Minaplo> [Instead the stars twinkled gently around him, their light both beautiful and novel, yet also familiar and comforting, like a warm bath.-
[21:41] <Minaplo> ["And so our long nightmare is ended." Said a voice. Sitting nearby, as though on a chair (although Sera could see no such thing) was the Solemn Exarch: a beautiful human figure beyond the limitations of the physical, with golden skin, long silver hair and bright, twinkling blue eyes.]
[21:45] * Sept stood up straight, looked at the Exarch for a moment, and then turned to look at the stars, rubbing his hands together slowly.
[21:46] <Minaplo> [The stars continued to gently sing their ancient song of gratitude.]
[21:51] <Sept> "…how does this work?" Sera asked as he continued his stargazing. "Why am I not you? What am I?"
[21:52] <Minaplo> ["You are whatever you want to be." Said the Exarch. "Every human being has been given two choices, but your second choice is a little different."]
[21:58] <Sept> "Yeah, no shit, but you can just be you without me? That's not what I was told, and if that's not what's happening right now, I repeat my question: What am I, right now?"
[22:10] <Minaplo> ["You are you." Said the Exarch. "Consider this: do you know how Zhang Yanmei can converse with her past lives?"]
[22:12] <Sept> "So I'm your memory?" Sera asked, pointedly.
[22:22] <Minaplo> ["Or I'm in yours. The point is that this isn't exactly like Yanmei's situation… But there's a comparison." Said the Exarch.-
[22:22] <Minaplo> ["We are, more or less, in two places at once, both of us wholly ourselves whilst also being the same entity. Does this make it clear?"]
[22:24] <Sept> "…"-
[22:24] <Sept> "I'll let it slide for now."
[22:24] <Minaplo> ["Good idea."-
[22:24] <Minaplo> ["You can ask any questions you wish, but firstly I should tell you of your two choices."]
[22:25] <Sept> "Go ahead."
[22:27] <Minaplo> ["The first choice is the one all humans must decide upon." Said the Exarch. "It is the choice between Elisha Caine's plan, and the plan that Raphael Guillory offered you. The first sees Destiny stripped at its source- me- whilst humanity is made more perfect, more resilient, with an realised AT Field."-
[22:28] <Minaplo> ["And Raphael's plan sees the Aegis of Azariah inscribed into the collective idea of humanity, shielding it from Destiny forever, whilst leaving its physical forms unchanged. Whichever path humanity chooses will be the path taken."]
[22:31] <Sept> "Then, I choose Azariah's path. But you must've known that when you summoned me here."
[22:33] <Minaplo> ["Perhaps, perhaps not. What is important is that you could choose one way or another when the time came." Said the Exarch.-
[22:34] <Minaplo> ["Just as it is important when I inquire as to the reasons behind your decision- not out of judgment but mere curiosity, for in this, we disagree."]
[22:43] <Sept> "I've never hated humanity, or seen them as insufficient, despite my hardships. I like humanity as it is, and I want to see more of it. I want to live in this era and not in a better one. These are… selfish reasons, of course."-
[22:46] <Sept> "But I've also seen humanity change, already. It took some time after Impact, but change finally came. It's not a new humanity, just… one that's begun to wake up, I think."
[22:47] <Minaplo> ["I see…"]
[22:48] <Sept> "Your other question?"
[22:51] <Minaplo> ["Your other choice, yes." Said the Exarch. "As you know, once Third Impact is finished, I will seal myself within a dormant state, taking with me the powers of humanity's Seed. This is to ensure humanity's freedom from Seeds. But it is also in a way a penance for some of my actions."-
[22:53] <Minaplo> ["But… As you have realised by now, although we are the same entity, your sense of identity has grown powerful and solid, enough to be distinctly your own."-
[22:53] <Minaplo> ["And so you have three options."-
[22:55] <Minaplo> ["The first is to subsume your identity within your greater spiritual home- and fully become one with the Solemn Exarch, for you and I are I and you. We will sink together into our peace and regret and remove ourselves from the circles of the world."-
[22:57] <Minaplo> ["The second is to allow you to return to the humanity you have grown to love, in your current state as Sera de Pteres. We will still be connected- in a way, in two places at once. You will not possess the power of the Exarch, merely the power you claim for yourself."-
[22:57] <Minaplo> ["The third… I had not considered, not really."-
[22:58] <Minaplo> ["When I spoke with Raphael in order to release Rei Ikari's energy, he specifically requested that you be rewarded with more than entombment. Your second option would probably fulfill that… But once you died you would return to me, and we would be one again."-
[23:00] <Minaplo> ["And so I offer you the third and most drastic option, the one that brings me a sense of sorrow." Said the Exarch. "I can, if you so wish it, take the identity of Sera de Pteres and nurture that nascent consciousness that is you."-
[23:00] <Minaplo> ["And in so doing… Birth a new soul, a soul who is no one but Sera de Pteres."-
[23:01] <Minaplo> ["You will no longer be the Solemn Exarch, or Elisha Caine, or any of these entities. We will lose that part of ourselves, and you will stand on your own two feet as a singular human being. You will have no destiny, no special purpose except that which you choose for yourself."-
[23:01] <Minaplo> ["And I will miss you until the end of all things."]
[23:03] <Sept> "…"-
[23:06] <Sept> "I've dreamed about that for a while, haven't I? When I wasn't caught up fretting about the judgment…"
[23:07] <Minaplo> ["Yes, you have." Said the Exarch; They smiled. "I think you will be happier for it, and I sincerely wish for that, but the most important thing is that you can choose one way or another."]
[23:18] <Sept> "Would I still be me? Could I just… continue, with everyone?"
[23:20] <Minaplo> ["Yes. It would be the same you who did all of those things, as opposed to a new soul who merely had your memories. It would be you."]
[23:27] <Sept> "Could it not be?"
[23:27] <Minaplo> ["What do you mean?"]
[23:35] <Sept> "Could I start over? If everyone forgot about me, or…"
[23:35] <Minaplo> ["You want to be your own person… And be a blank slate?"]
[23:36] <Sept> "I know it seems a bit backwards, maybe, but. I'm just asking if it's possible."
[23:37] <Minaplo> ["Yes, it is."]
[23:40] <Sept> "What about- what happens to Longinus, now?"
[23:41] <Minaplo> ["Longinus returns to Adam."]
[23:43] <Sept> "I understand. They did well…"
[23:45] <Minaplo> ["Yes." Said the Exarch. "Longinus has what Longinus wanted."]
[23:53] <Sept> "Yeah."-
[23:54] <Sept> "Was there anything else you wanted to talk about? I'm going to need some time to think."
[23:54] <Minaplo> ["Delivering to you the choices was all I needed to do. You have time to think, and time to discuss with others. Any soul- every human soul, and the Angels- are available now."]

[14:36] <Minaplo> [Hail, Solemn Exarch, brightest of stars.-
[14:37] <Minaplo> [Yanmei could hear the gentle singing of the stars, the gratitude of a thankful universe.-
[14:39] <Minaplo> [The cosmos was all around her, an endless starfield stretching into the distance, and here Yanmei stood in the middle of it.-
[14:40] <Minaplo> [But not alone: sitting in front of her was the Solemn Exarch. Beautiful, with golden skin and silver hair and the bluest eyes, with four elegant arms and a smile full of warmth.-
[14:41] <Minaplo> ["You finished it." Said the Exarch, Their voice full of affection. "Congratulations, Zhang Yanmei."]
[14:49] <Yanmei> "Thank you?" Yanmei was still trying to shake off the astonishment of being in this new place. She wasn't doing the best job at it, especially not with him in front of her. She squinted slightly, trying to match him up against her expectations. "I doubt this is the end of things, though. I'm standing here, after all… wherever here is."
[15:10] <Minaplo> ["This is the gestalt consciousness." Said the Exarch. "The in-between world where time and space mean less than the human will, where the wish of human potential has the power to decide its own fate."-
[15:11] <Minaplo> ["Zhang Yanmei, you, and all humanity, have two choices to make."]
[15:17] <Yanmei> Yanmei's face twisted into a deep frown, but she allowed him to continue without interrupting. For now.
[15:18] <Minaplo> ["The first choice is about humanity's form in the new world." Said the Exarch. "There are two plans: the original plan set down by Elisha Caine, and the new plan put forth by Raphael Guillory."-
15:24] <GONEplo> ["In the first plan, humanity's forms are remade, made healthier and more resilient. You will live longer, with a form of S2 Organ within your body. You will heal from wounds much more easily, and resist diseases. You will possess an active AT Field, keeping you safe from most disasters and threats. You will need to eat far less than you do now. Your biology will be more malleable as well."-
[15:26] <Minaplo> ["Humanity will be released from Destiny by destroying it at the source: which will be with me."-
[15:27] <Minaplo> ["The second plan sees the Aegis of Azariah inscribed into the idea of humanity itself, ensuring that it and its children will be forever safe from Destiny. Humanity's forms will remain unchanged from as they are now."]
[15:33] <Yanmei> "So you're asking me to choose between plan created by a Caine and a plan that was clearly inspired by a different Caine?"
[15:34] <Minaplo> ["Yes." Said the Exarch.]
[15:37] * Yanmei grit her teeth and glanced down. After a few moments of fuming to herself, she looked up again. "Right. What is the downside of Guillory's plan? It's the more appealing of the two, but there must be a catch."
[15:38] <Minaplo> ["You do not have to decide now." Said the Exarch. "You should take your time to speak to others and ask their views. I support the first plan, but I do not want to unduly influence your decision, so I refuse to list its downsides."]
[15:39] <Minaplo> <List the downsides of the second*>
[15:43] <Yanmei> "I see. I must admit, you're a little different than I expected."
[15:43] <Minaplo> ["What were you expecting?"]
[15:46] <Yanmei> "A prophet who was used to getting his way without question."
[15:46] <Minaplo> ["I see." The Exarch smiled sadly.-
[15:47] <Minaplo> ["I've spent much of my life being mighty, it is true. But I have also spent much of it losing almost everything important to me. I have long been past the point of being unquestionable."]
[16:03] <Yanmei> "I guess it hasn't been easy for you?" Yanmei muttered. "Unless losing things gets easier with time…?"
[16:07] <Minaplo> ["It doesn't. You just have to become stronger, without becoming too hard that you don't feel anything either." Said the Exarch.-
[16:08] <Minaplo> ["… And that brings me to the second choice humanity brings. The first choice is universal- whichever the majority decides will be applied to most humans with a few exceptions." Said the Exarch. "But the second is individual."-
[16:08] <Minaplo> ["Every human soul in existence, living or dead, is equal here. THey all have the choice: to return to their lives, which means yes, coming back from the dead for many."-
[16:08] <Minaplo> ["To be reincarnated as a new person…"-
[16:09] <Minaplo> ["Or to leave humanity forever and go with Lilith."]
[16:18] <Yanmei> "I want to go back to my life. I have responsibilities, you know."
[16:24] <Minaplo> ["Yes, I thought you would." Said the Exarch. "But I want you to understand the implications."-
[16:24] <Minaplo> ["There will be people you have lost who will come back to life."-
[16:25] <Minaplo> ["There will be some you have lost who will remain lost."-
[16:25] <Minaplo> ["And there will be some who are living that will no longer live."-
[16:25] <Minaplo> ["And then there are those who will depart with Lilith, and you might never see them again in any form."]
[16:33] <Yanmei> "So… in other words, this is my last chance to see a lot of people."
[16:34] <Minaplo> ["Yes."]
[16:39] <Yanmei> "There are certain people who I think would be happier leaving. But you're not planning on nudging them in that direction, are you?"
[17:06] <Minaplo> ["There are some that I might recommend reincarnate or leave, but ultimately, if everyone has a chance to speak to each other, that message will be delivered on its own, without me."]
[17:18] <Yanmei> "Hm. Well! I have a long list of people I'd like to talk to. Honestly, this whole gestalt consciousness isn't the way I thought it would be either? It allows for more… individualism than I expected. Which is good."
[17:20] <Minaplo> ["The gestalt consciousness is a place where time and space are loose concepts. In this place, human will and perception are the most important things. The consciousness will respect whatever boundary you wish it to respect, and you will have just enough time to talk to everyone you want to, whether that is one person or all of them."-
[17:21] <Minaplo> ["You may also ask me questions, and I am bound to answer them truthfully. If you have anything to ask, now is the time."]
[17:37] <Yanmei> "Mary Caine had her own idea of how to shape humanity. You must already know it, since you've been fighting along with us this whole time. Would it have worked as well as your plan?"
[17:38] <Minaplo> ["No."]
[17:54] * Yanmei smirked. "I had a feeling. So, of course it's a good thing that we won."
[17:54] <Minaplo> ["Yes."]
[14:03] <Yanmei> "Good. Nothing we did was in vain, then. There were times when even I wondered about it… A lot of people died."
[14:05] <Minaplo> ["That so many died is important to you, then?"]
[14:09] <Yanmei> "It often felt like they died because of a personal feud that they had no business being in. Especially the civilians. It was infuriating?"
[14:10] <Minaplo> ["Yes… I can imagine so."]
[14:15] <Yanmei> "So, um. About the great enemy that drove you to initiate this whole Seed plan to begin with. How do we get to a point to contribute to fighting them without taking these kinds of losses again?"
[14:17] <Minaplo> [The Exarch shook Their head.-
[14:18] <Minaplo> ["There is no answer to this question that you will like," They said. "Of the 170 member peoples of the First Federation, 167 were destroyed, and we were at the peak of our power."-
[14:19] <Minaplo> ["If and when the time comes for you to face the Great Enemy, you will consider yourselves fortunate if even a thousand humans survive it. It is something that the entire galaxy will need to face, together."-
[14:19] <Minaplo> ["And even then, if quadrillions died, I would not be surprised."-
[14:21] <Minaplo> ["Humanity will have a special role to play." Said the Exarch. "Of all the peoples in the galaxy, only Humanity has access to both the fruits of the seeds of Life and Knowledge. It is these fruits that birthed the Ancestors, and when we reseeded the galaxy, we deliberately split them apart, as you know."-
[14:21] <Minaplo> ["Thus, Humanity is unique, and that uniqueness is given material form in the Evangelion." Said the Exarch.]
[14:28] <Yanmei> "The Evas will probably no longer exist after this. But maybe we have the potential to come up with something else that might help. Is that what you're implying?"
[14:37] <Minaplo> ["There is no going back." Said the Exarch. "There will always be Evangelions, now, in one form or another, until humanity is ended."]
[14:40] <Yanmei> "W-what?" She stared at him. "But you personally know what it's like to be a soul trapped in an Eva. It's not a happy existence at all."
[14:45] <Minaplo> ["That will change." Said the Exarch. "Once humanity is restored, the nature of the Eva will change- it will become a voluntary process, one where Evangelions retain their lucidity and the chance to live happy lives, regardless of their forms."-
[14:45] <Minaplo> ["But there will be Evangelions."]
[14:53] <Yanmei> "In order for that to happen, humanity will have to change too? I don't mean their AT Fields and stuff. They'll have to be a lot more tolerant and less willing to exploit Evas for their own individual gains. Right now they can barely handle sharing the planet with Iron Guard or Shadowmen."
[14:55] <Minaplo> ["I don't think you have to worry about that."]
[14:56] <Yanmei> "You're pretty optimistic…"
[15:02] <Minaplo> ["No, I simply understand the power of the gestalt consciousness." Said the Exarch.-
[15:03] <Minaplo> ["And you should now, too. Go and speak to others. Learn their points of view. Understand your fellow human beings. There will be time to ask me more questions later, before the gestalt ends and I begin my sleep."]
[15:07] <Yanmei> "…all right, then. How does this work? Do I think of someone and they just materialize before me?"
[15:08] <Minaplo> ["The gestalt conforms to your expectations. So yes, all you have to do is call to someone, and they appear."-
[15:09] <Minaplo> ["That said, no one can be forced to do anything they don't want to do in the gestalt. The space itself respects boundaries. If someone does not wish to speak to you, then you cannot speak to them."]
[15:16] <Yanmei> "Right. I think I get it? We'll talk again soon, then."
[15:17] <Minaplo> ["Yes, we will."]
[17:08] <Mianplo> [Eventually, all of them would receive the sign.-
[17:11] <Mianplo> [For some, it would come almost immediately.-
[17:11] <Mianplo> [For some it would not come for what felt like an eternity.-
[17:11] <Mianplo> [But the important thing was…-
[17:12] <Mianplo> [It came when people were ready for it. And for some, that meant a very, very long time.-
[17:12] <Mianplo> [But no one was disappointed when it came.-
[17:12] <Mianplo> [The Gestalt is a space where the boundaries between human beings become meaningless. That is what they had thought. But it was better to say…-
[17:13] <Mianplo> [The Gestalt is a space where having boundaries or not is a choice, a space where that choice is intrinsically respected by the reality around them. And when humanity was ready, one by one, they gave themselves the boundary to leave.-
[17:13] <Mianplo> [The Gestalt conforms to humanity. And it cannot stop you from leaving.-
[17:14] <Mianplo> [There was no great announcement.-
[17:14] <Mianplo> [The Solemn Exarch did not summon them all to a great chamber to proclaim the result of the vote.-
[17:14] <Mianplo> [Instead, everyone simply knew.-
[17:14] <Mianplo> [The Gestalt conforms to humanity. It cannot stop you from leaving, but it cannot help but make sure you know where you are going.-
[17:15] <Mianplo> [And so the stars went out.-
[17:15] <Mianplo> [Their song faded, until finally, all that was left was the Solemn Exarch, Their golden skin tarnished and their hair now grey.-
[17:16] <Mianplo> [The Solemn Exarch smiled one last time, held the last star to Their ear, and then quietly blew it out, and fell into darkness, and was never heard from again in the memories of the living, or of the dead, for a hundred generations.]
[17:16] <Mianplo> […-
[17:17] <Mianplo> [The sky rose above the streets of the Ile de Paris. The light of the sun crept up the stairs of Notre-Dame de Paris.-
[17:17] <Mianplo> [Paris.-
[17:18] <Mianplo> [Paris. Not the city of a thousand fortifications, of two hundred thousand anxious people living above a cage of chained, miserable humans wielding barely understood power.-
[17:19] <Mianplo> [This was Paris, as it was before the earthquake, before it was sundered, before the Seine went crooked and the banks flooded and the land sank and the Tower fell, and was replaced with a fake, like everything else.-
[17:20] <Mianplo> [This was Paris, the home of Emmannuel the bell and the Champs-Elysees and the world's greatest museums.-
[17:21] <Mianplo> [Paris, the home of kings and of revolutionaries, where palaces of stars rubbed shoulders with underground Metros full of people doing their day-to-day.-
[17:22] <Mianplo> [Paris, home of the Arc de Triomphe, proclaiming France's victories; and Les Invalides, home of its war dead.-
[17:22] <Mianplo> [It was in a Paris, kind of, that our story really began, when Sera de Pteres saw with suspicion a grand green giant overlooking the city that was his.-
[17:23] <Mianplo> [And now it was in Paris that our story begins to end, not in the Paris of the Impact era, but in the Paris of the old world and now- of the new.-
[17:24] <Mianplo> [The Children of Light had returned to the City, and its lights which gave it its name, la Ville Lumiere, the city of Enlightenment.]
[17:24] <Mianplo> […-
[17:25] <Mianplo> [Sera de Pteres, Zhang Yanmei, Aline Blanc, Raphael Guillory, and many of their friends, children and lovers appeared on the steps of Notre-Dame.-
[17:25] <Mianplo> [They awoke to a sky of blue, of the clearest, most charming blue, and breathed in the air- had it ever been so sweet, so clean, as it had been now?-
[17:26] <Mianplo> [The breeze blew, a mild, cool breeze, far from the savage chill gusts of Impact Paris.-
[17:26] <Mianplo> [Around them lay the beauty of the world and of humanity, with the cathedral on one side and the clear Seine on the other, with the chirping of insects and the song of birds in their ears.-
[17:28] <Mianplo> [And they heard it with their own ears, felt the breeze with their own skin, tasted the air on their own tongues…-
[17:28] <Mianplo> [Even as they felt, quiet and undemanding within their bodies, the gentle warmth of the S2 Organ, giving them a vigour and energy that made the world seem limitless.]
[17:30] <Mianplo> [The Gestalt was receding in clarity from their minds quickly, yet the memories sat there still, quiet, unassuming, hanging just coyly beyond the edge of perception, but with the promise of returning- when the moment was right.]
[17:40] * Sept looked around, took a few steps away from the others and looked out at the square in front of the Notre-Dame. Then, he turned back around to face everyone. "Hey."-
[17:40] <Sept> "How long did that take?"
[17:42] <Yanmei> "I don't know if there's any way to tell for sure?" Yanmei had been standing next to Isaiah, staring out at everything in a daze.
[17:44] * Aline folded her arms, having not BROUGHT anyone who didn't want to come themselves. "…There's no way to tell at all, so."
[17:44] <Mianplo> ["It's seven AM on the 2nd of December." Said Isaiah, standing next to her, hand in hers.]
[17:47] <Raphael> A little further down the steps, Raphael had made it to his feet and begun to check the people around him. The others could see Rei, Misato and Suzanne among them. He had one hand resting warily on his chest as he went.
[17:47] <Sept> "I… see," Sera said, slowly.
[17:48] <Mianplo> [Rei was already tearing away to tackle Alphonse.-
[17:48] <Mianplo> [Misato, meanwhile, turned toward Raphael. "Hey, you."]
[17:53] <Raphael> "Hey," he murmured as Suzie bounded down the stairs towards the slowly rousing figures of her parents. He peered down at his right side, then back to her. "Looks like we're in one piece."
[17:53] <Mianplo> ["Yeah." Said Misato. "That's good."-
[17:57] <Mianplo> [And then a curious expression dawned on her face. "Really good. Wow, we were… Not in a good spot, at all, and now I haven't felt this good in-"-
[17:58] <Mianplo> [And then she threw herself around Raphael and squeezed him tight.]
[17:59] * Aline began to wear a distant smile, before looking a bit into the distance. …While stepping down.
[18:01] * Yanmei looked up at the sky, searching. "Um. I guess now we should explore. See if the Geofront's still there, or the battleships or… figure out if there's someplace where lost people are congregrating."
[18:02] <Sept> "Dunno if the grand plan included people getting lost. You don't… need anything from me, right?"
[18:02] <Raphael> He removed the hand from his chest to return the gesture with both arms. In that moment the frown he'd been wearing since he noticed the warmth in his chest eased, and he looked at peace.
[18:10] <Yanmei> "Ah," said Yanmei slowly. "I mean. If you have somewhere to be, go ahead."
[18:11] <Aline> "…Do you actually have somewhere to go?"
[18:11] <Sept> "Nnnno, not really. But I'd really like to hear you say it?"
[18:20] <Yanmei> "Okay, then. Speaking as Yanmei and not the Chancellor of the UEF… I'm really grateful for everything that you've done. Like, everything. And you - and everyone else here - is free to do whatever they want, whether that's exploring on your own or sticking around."
[18:21] * Aline nodded her head. "…I mean, again. We /did it/. And I think it's already clear about how much we had."
[18:23] <Sept> "Thanks. I really appreciate it. Even like this, I think it's… gonna take some time for me to wrap my head around that fact. I'm also officially resigning from all of my positions, but maybe that's obvious."
[18:29] <Yanmei> "Oh." Yanmei sighed and looked down. "Yeah, I understand. You'll still have some paperwork to fork over? But… will we still see you around? What will you do next?"
[18:35] <Sept> "You know. Everything else. Maybe I'll stick around in Paris, find a real job. Maybe move to another country."
[18:37] <Mianplo> ["Bakery."-
[18:37] <Mianplo> [It was said by a young man a few metres away. No one recognised him.-
[18:37] <Mianplo> [… And yet…-
[18:56] <Mianplo> [There were a handful of people there besides just Federation employees. Strangers, normal human beings.-
[18:56] <Mianplo> [People they'd never met.-
[18:56] <Mianplo> [And yet. And yet they knew them.-
[18:57] <Mianplo> [In some strange way, niggling at the back of the head. They all knew who they were. It was as though their names floated out of an old memory.-
[18:57] <Mianplo> [… Because they had. They had met these people in the Gestalt. They didn't remember it. They weren't one of the important ones, and yet they'd met.-
[18:58] <Mianplo> [Slowly it would dawn on those there that this was how it was going to be, for awhile. There were no more strangers.]
[18:59] <Sept> Sera looked at the man, stammering a 'what' before settling on his final retort.-
[18:59] <Sept> "No one asked you!"
[19:01] <Mianplo> [The man breathed a quiet 'oh', and then left.]
[19:01] * Aline …seemed to drift around that, quietly.
[19:05] <Sept> "…gonna have a bakery," Sera said, more quietly. "That's what I'm doing for a while."
[19:08] * Yanmei raised her eyebrows a bit, and then smiled. "I'm glad. Do you need any help getting it set up?"
[19:13] <Sept> "N-no, thanks. That would defeat the whole purpose."
[19:19] <Sept> "You guys will stick around though, I guess?"
[19:20] * Aline slid alongside Sera. "…Yes, he must stand tall, against the night, and say 'I earn my bread'." A slight giggle. "…Yeah, I wouldn't just leave you guys."
[19:20] <Yanmei> Oh, right, right. Well. The offer's always there if you change your mind? We're going to miss you."
[19:23] <Sept> "S-sure, right," Sera said, to both of them, his face flushing slightly. "Just don't hold your breath."
[19:23] <Mianplo> [Isaiah snickered.-
[19:23] <Mianplo> [… And then he frowned and glanced upwards. "Something's coming."-
[19:24] <Mianplo> [Misato suddenly lightly punching Raphael in the gut went unnoticed; a shape was passing through the air.-
[19:24] <Mianplo> [It was an aircraft of some kind, although not of any make anyone recognised.-
[19:25] <Mianplo> [It glided easily through the air on extended wings that slowly began to fold upwards towards an upright metal crest. The craft began to lower downward toward the open space in front of Notre-Dame.-
[19:26] <Mianplo> [There was writing, perhaps, on the underside of this craft, writing in no language they understood.]
[19:27] * Aline …paused visibly, staring up, and pushing up her glasses a little. "…No way. This soon?"
[19:29] <Sept> "Whatever it is, I'm not going."
[19:30] <Yanmei> "I don't even know what - wait, you were expecting this?" Yanmei eyed Aline.
[19:31] <Raphael> Raphael opened his eyes and frowned, laughter quickly fading. He removed his arms from Misato and checked fruitlessly for his sidearm.
[19:33] <Aline> "…In a very distant sense. I expected us to find aliens eventually." Aline said, now just, staring. "I did not expect them to find us, literally right after Impact."
[19:44] <Mianplo> [After a few more moments, the ship landed. Its engine was not as loud or as noisy as something as large as it was should have been.-
[19:46] <Mianplo> [Silence. Stillness.-
[19:46] <Mianplo> [Then a ramp slid out of the front of the craft, a ramp that seemed to fit seamlessly with the rest of the hull up until it actually lowered.-
[19:47] <Mianplo> [Bright, yellow light flooded out of the ramp. Nothing. Then-
[19:47] <Mianplo> [A form.-
[19:47] <Mianplo> [It was a tall form, slender, even if most of its body was hidden by a bright blue robe.-
[19:48] <Mianplo> [It had four thin arms, the top two of which were folded across its chest, the hands resting on its shoulders; the bottom two were folded across its stomach.-
[19:51] <Mianplo> [Its hands were visible beneath the voluminous sleeves; thin, spindly hands, ending in short stubby talons: three knobbly fingers and a thumb. The hands were black, and coated lightly in a natural down.-
[19:52] <Mianplo> [Its feet could not be seen at all; the robes fell over them and besides, the creature was floating a foot off the ground.-
[19:53] <Mianplo> [A brilliant train of crest-like feathers spilled from its back, shrouding it all around in a lighter-than-air aura of rainbow-like colours, shimmering gently in various patterns that shifted like water. They were eye-like for a moment, then like curved arrows…-
[19:53] <Mianplo> [And then there was the head.-
[19:54] <Mianplo> [The head could not be seen; fitted over it was a large, silver helmet and mask that covered not just the face, but also out towards its shoulders, serving as both mask and as elaborate collar.-
[19:55] <Mianplo> [The front plate of the mask was entirely flat and featureless, bearing not even eyeholes or mouth holes.-
[19:55] <Mianplo> [… At least for a moment. The metal of the front plate suddenly became as liquid; a shape began to emerge: the metal solidifed into the outline of a pair of unmistakeably human lips.-
[19:55] <Mianplo> [It said something.-
[19:56] <Mianplo> [And then said it again.-
[19:56] <Mianplo> [Finally on the third try, it became a recognisable sound.-
[19:56] <Mianplo> ["Zhang?"]
[19:59] * Sept didn't take his eyes off the space bird, staring at it with vague apprehension, arms crossed.
[20:00] <Yanmei> Yanmei hissed a curt swear under her breath and pulled away from Isaiah. She couldn't recall infuriating any new alien species as of late, but this was still somehow her responsibility. Plus - she took a look around - every single other person in the square knew who she was, so there was no running away. -
[20:02] <Yanmei> "Zhang here. Hello." She walked toward the strange craft, stopping at what she felt was a reasonable distance. "Welcome?"
[20:04] <Mianplo> [The visitor's hands clapped together for a moment and its train of feathers shimmed enthusiastically.-
[20:04] <Mianplo> ["Zhang? Zhang welcome?" It said quickly, its helmeted head leaning forward now. "Zhang welcome, Chancellor Federation of Earth?"]
[20:08] * Aline leaned in a little. "…Does anyone need… help with… …this?" Wow Aline, you're butting into a bonafide 'taken us to your leader' first contact! "This… language, that is."
[20:08] <Mianplo> ["Language, yes, help, keep talking!" Said the visitor, turning toward Aline.]
[20:09] <Sept> "I guess it's got a learning computer in it or something," Sera helpfully said from the bleachers.
[20:10] <Mianplo> ["No, computers are for ~bad speakers~, Defector learns natural tongue."]
[20:11] <Yanmei> "That's very impressive. Your name is Defector?"
[20:12] <Aline> "That might be a demonym? Use of an article like 'the' and pluralizing it might help." Aine pointed out, wagging a finger.
[20:12] * Raphael just watched all of this with an air of both wariness and confusion.
[20:13] <Mianplo> ["Demonym. Yes."-
[20:13] <Mianplo> [The visitor paused, took a moment to breathe- the sound was strange and whistly- and then spoke again.-
[20:14] <Mianplo> ["I am Stardancer, First Guide of the Defector Fleet, and I have come to meet with Zhang, Chancellor of the Federation, to offer membership."]
[20:17] <Sept> Sera had disappeared from the immediate group, but his voice was still audible, shouting in French.-
[20:17] <Sept> "Disperse, assholes! Official business! Move on!"
[20:18] <Mianplo> [("Don't you call me an asshole! I won't be spoken to like shit on the steps of Notre-Dame!")]
[20:18] <Mianplo> [("Especially not by you, Sera!")]
[20:18] <Raphael> "And you resigned," Raphael muttered from a short distance away.
[20:19] * Aline facepalmed.
[20:19] * Aline didn't really have a more elaborate reaction.
[20:20] * Yanmei was trying to tune out any impending fights. "Membership! The Federation is honored, but we'll have to discuss what that means in lots of detail. Can you stay in this city for a few days?"
[20:21] <Mianplo> ["We intended to stay forever." Said Stardancer.]
[20:26] <Yanmei> "I see." Invasion or…? She shook her head. "It will take some time to gather the personnel I need to make a proper and informed decision. I ask for your patience."
[20:27] <Mianplo> [Stardancer paused.-
[20:27] <Mianplo> ["Ohhhh."-
[20:28] <Mianplo> ["No."-
[20:28] <Mianplo> ["No, you misunderstand. I am not asking you to join us. We are asking to join you as members of your Federation."]
[20:29] * Aline …blinked. Then blinked again. "… …I am going to assume there is a very interesting reason for how this makes political sense? I'm not meaning to be rude, but, curious!"
[20:30] <Mianplo> ["We are political exiles. Refugees."]
[20:31] <Yanmei> "Oh dear. From where? What happened?"
[20:32] <Mianplo> ["Difference of opinion. Civil war. A thousand-year exile. We are called Defectors for a reason, because we tried to free slaves and lost."]
[20:35] * Aline frowned. "I had no idea that it'd be that… particularly bad. So that… that lines up with it, though."
[20:37] <Yanmei> "How many are with you? We can offer you supplies and make tentative arrangements for you to stay."
[20:40] <Mianplo> ["Twenty-nine million, seven hundred thousand, nine thousand and sixty-one, counting Defectors and Warfriends." Said Stardancer.-
[20:41] <Mianplo> ["We do not come to steal your food and land. We come to be a member, to share in your burdens. We have technology and ideas, and when the time comes, there is no one, no one, who can guide you through the space of other people as a Defector can. We go everywhere, we speak every tongue, and not one corner of the Great Web knows not our name… For good and bad reasons."-
[20:42] <Mianplo> ["But for now, Stardancer will stay. We saw the… Great light."-
[20:43] <Mianplo> ["I do not know what it means, but I know that you people, you… You bear our most prized gift. No one else in the galaxy has ever possessed that. Only us, and the Great Ones."]
[20:45] * Yanmei was silent for a few seconds, still reeling from the headcount. "Wait. What gift do you mean? Sorry, but we haven't met many other beings from outside of our planet."
[20:45] <Mianplo> ["The gift."-
[20:46] <Mianplo> [And Stardancer raised his lower right hand outwards, and the light between him and Yanmei shimmered for a moment.-
[20:46] <Mianplo> [Rippling outwards between them was an AT Field.-
[20:47] <Mianplo> ["No one else. Only us and the Great Ones. Until now." Said Stardancer. "That is why we have come to you. It is meant to be, surely, that we have found you now."-
[20:49] <Mianplo> [And then he lowered his AT Field- and held out his hand.-
[20:50] <Mianplo> ["Let your hearts be our home and you will find your home in our hearts forever."]
[20:50] * Aline stared at that event with significant interest. "Light. …The Angels called it that anyway. … …There's a lot for us to talk about."
[20:58] <Yanmei> "There is, yeah," Yanmei agreed quickly. "Please teach us some more."
[21:02] <Yanmei> And with that she reached out to gently grip his hand with her own.
[21:04] <Mianplo> […-
[21:05] <Mianplo> [And that is where we will leave our story: on the first meeting between humanity and a species from a different world. On humanity taking its first steps into a strange, wondrous and hostile universe.-
[21:06] <Mianplo> [This endng does not mean to imply that it was smooth sailing from here on out. Far from it.-
[21:07] <Mianplo> [Over the next ten years, Zhang Yanmei, Aline Blanc, Sera de Pteres and Raphael Guillory would all face new dangers.-
[21:07] <Mianplo> [In the process of forging a true world federation, great stress and tension was placed on the earth, and a new war would almost break out.-
[21:07] <Mianplo> [But they would overcome it.-
[21:08] <Mianplo> [And as humanity became united and spread out into the stars with their new friends, the Defectors, they would find new planets and new peoples.-
[21:09] <Mianplo> [Within thirty years, they would find the people known as the Shrinepath Devoted, and would go to war with them over a misunderstanding made in a moment of terror and grief.-
[21:09] <Mianplo> [Within thirty-five, growing pains would cause the Federation to ask questions about itself, about what it intended to be, as the gap between the generation of the old and the new grew wider.-
[21:10] <Mianplo> [And within forty, the Federation would find itself staring down the barrels of a stellar dominion spreading across a hundred thousand stars known as the Overseer Empire.-
[21:10] <Mianplo> [But Humanity would overcome.-
[21:11] <Mianplo> [And as they went on, facing new challenges, they would think back to Earth, the newly-remade cradle of civilization, and remember the Impact Years, when the fog of war seemed thick with conspiracy, death and unfathomable horror.-
[21:12] <Mianplo> [And the names that came out of that era, nor the deeds attached to those names, would never be forgotten.-
[21:12] <Mianplo> [Not because of their conquests or the people they slew, but rather the feats they achieved: of bringing together a people, of healing a rift, and correcting a mistake five billion years in the making.-
[21:12] <Mianplo> [Of setting humanity free.-
[21:13] <Mianplo> [The first story of Adeptus Evangelion thus ends like this: on the triumph of a battlefield, where the reward is friendship and understanding once never thought possible.-
[21:13] <Mianplo> [Of reunions- and of final goodbyes.-
[21:15] <AdEvaGM> [And the final promise: that one day, perhaps, one's enemies, in another lifetime not yet lived, might become one's friends.-
[21:16] <AdEvaGM> [The story is over.]

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