Cherry Blossom Procession 4 8 B

[17:26] <@AdEvaGM> [Dariush Rustami paced back and forth.-
[17:26] <@AdEvaGM> [Every few seconds, he beat his hands together nervously.-
[17:27] <@AdEvaGM> [The Synfront shook. Tiny bits of debris and dust fell from the roof.-
[17:27] <@AdEvaGM> ["We need to leave." Said Dariush, turning on his heel.-
[17:30] <@AdEvaGM> [The deep underground bunker was a spartan, well-lit place. It consisted of a series of beds, some crates, a cool room and a few doors.-
[17:31] <@AdEvaGM> [There weren't many in the room. Dariush himself. Wu Yuanzhang was standing by the door that led upwards.-
[17:31] <@AdEvaGM> [A High Marshal stood to Wu's left.-
[17:32] <@AdEvaGM> [Lying on a bed, asleep, as she had been ever since the bizarre incident, was Mary Caine. Sitting at her side was von Brandt.-
[17:33] <@AdEvaGM> ["The traitor-forces are pressing us hard." Said the Marshal. "If we're going to win, we need Madame Caine's special forces."-
[17:33] <@AdEvaGM> ["Did you not hear me? I said we need to leave." Said Dariush. "We're not going to win this."-
[17:34] <@AdEvaGM> ["Mary would not want us to leave." Said von Brandt; his grip on Mary's hand tightened.-
[17:34] <@AdEvaGM> ["I don't think that matters." Said Wu wryly.-
[17:34] <@AdEvaGM> ["Shut up." Said von Brandt.-
[17:36] <@AdEvaGM> ["Ephraim." Dariush turned toward him. "I know you're loyal to Mary, but if they find her here, like she is now? She's dead. They'll execute her and she'll never have the chance to defend herself."-
[17:37] <@AdEvaGM> ["But Dariush… If we leave, what's left? This place was our stronghold! It's where we've kept all of our resources! If we lose it, we lose the war!"-
[17:38] <@AdEvaGM> ["You can't really be thinking this war is still winnable?" Said Dariush; he shook his head. "I'm not here to win a war. I didn't come here to kill Federation soldiers."-
[17:39] <@AdEvaGM> ["I came here to save Mary from Lilith." Said Dariush. "If we can escape, we can wait for her to wake up, and negotiate a… A surrender, one where she lives, where she has the chance to explain what happened. To prove her innocence, to show it was all Lilith. So we need to leave-"-
[17:39] <@AdEvaGM> ["No."-
[17:39] <@AdEvaGM> [It had been Mary who had spoken.-
[17:40] <@AdEvaGM> [She sat up slowly. Dark shadows ringed her eyes.-
[17:40] <@AdEvaGM> [But her voice was steady. "We're not leaving."-
[17:41] <@AdEvaGM> ["Mary." Said Dariush, his tone one of concern and caution. "Just relax. We can free you."-
[17:42] <@AdEvaGM> [Mary stood up. The room waited- would she sway or topple?-
[17:43] <@AdEvaGM> [But she did not. She was steady.-
[17:43] <@AdEvaGM> ["Dariush." She said gently. "Thank you for your trust in me."-
[17:43] <@AdEvaGM> ["But you do not know what you are talking about."-
[17:43] <@AdEvaGM> ["What-?" Dariush started. Mary shushed him with a simple raised hand.-
[17:43] <@AdEvaGM> ["Did you really assume that I would come all this way only to be revealed as a simple puppet for a dead goddess?"-
[17:44] <@AdEvaGM> [There was silence. Then-
[17:44] <@AdEvaGM> ["No. The Drive? Mary, you-"-
[17:45] <@AdEvaGM> ["Yes, I created the Drive, and I regret only that it was necessary." Said Mary.-
[17:45] <@AdEvaGM> ["The Drive is not some tool of control. It was a necessary way to save our species."-
[17:46] <@AdEvaGM> ["Lilith is powerful, and she is insidious. She uses the human souls within her just like I do with the Drive, only on a greater scale." Said Mary.-
[17:46] <@AdEvaGM> ["The Drive was designed to drain those souls of her, especially the glut from Impact. If we had not, then she would've overpowered us years ago, and we would all be extinct."-
[17:49] <@AdEvaGM> ["Because of the Drive, Lilith has been kept starved and weak. It has given us a chance to free ourselves." Said Mary. "I do not regret that it was made, or that I have used it. I would do it all again."-
[17:50] <@AdEvaGM> ["I am guilty of everything they say I am and more. I have done terrible things in the name of humanity." Said Mary. "In all honesty, I deserve their judgment of death."-
[17:51] <@AdEvaGM> ["I regret only my mistakes and errors. Nothing more."-
[17:51] <@AdEvaGM> ["I…" Dariush tried to speak, but fell silent, his mouth agape.-
[17:51] <@AdEvaGM> ["I trusted you…"-
[17:52] <@AdEvaGM> ["Dariush. We were friends once." Said Mary. "But the woman you knew died eighteen years and three months ago. I am now nothing more than what your brother said I would become: a living vessel, holding the lonely legacy of the dead."-
[17:53] <@AdEvaGM> ["… I can't fight for you." Said Dariush. "Not knowing this."-
[17:53] <@AdEvaGM> ["I didn't expect you to do so."-
[17:53] <@AdEvaGM> ["… What will you do now?" Asked Dariush.-
[17:53] <@AdEvaGM> ["What I always intended: defeat my enemies and rebuild the species." Said Mary.-
[17:53] <@AdEvaGM> ["What? You can't possibly-"-
[17:54] <@AdEvaGM> ["Yes, I've heard the reports." Said Mary. "Nearly two dozen Evangelions, many more Superheavies, a handful of battleships. A stable of geniuses and master strategists, and even my own cousin has turned against me."-
[17:55] <@AdEvaGM> ["Honestly, I believe the reports are overblown. They probably have three or fewer Evangelions than reported, and I doubt they have more than the three Achaemenes and a few pocket warships. Of course, those are still poor odds."-
[17:56] <@AdEvaGM> ["But I say this is a chance of a lifetime." Said Mary; and her eyes were bright and burning.-
[17:57] <@AdEvaGM> ["All along, I have preached that the righteousness of my cause gives me the might to persecute it, and that the same is true for the enemy. Let today, then, test my belief, and if it be found wanting, then nothing of worth will be lost. But if I prevail, then everyone will know, without a doubt, that I am powerful beyond mere AT Fields or force of arms: I am powerful because I am right."-
[17:57] <@AdEvaGM> ["I will not force any of you to do anything." Said Mary. "It is time for you all to make your own decisions."-
[17:58] <@AdEvaGM> ["Those of you who still believe in me and the rightness of my cause, then come with me and fight!"-
[17:58] <@AdEvaGM> ["But if you no longer have faith…"-
[17:58] <@AdEvaGM> ["Then stay behind and watch me win."-
[17:59] <@AdEvaGM> [She marched over to the door, picked up her sword where it lay against the wall, and left.]
[17:59] <@AdEvaGM> […]
[18:35] <@AdEvaGM> [The Synfront was powered by a cluster of positron generators.-
[18:36] <@AdEvaGM> [These generators, of which there were over 40, were buried deep within the Synfront, although separate from the bunker superstructure. Here, some scattered loyalists had taken position to fight a desperate defense against the invading forces.-
[18:36] <@AdEvaGM> [But the efforts were futile.-
[18:37] <@AdEvaGM> [Shinji's detachment, aided by defecting Stormtroopers, punched through their defenses and began cutting off the remnants.-
[18:38] <@AdEvaGM> [An enemy AC Suit charged Shinji down. With one outstretched hand he halted it mid-air, twisted it in half, and threw it aside, crumpled like a tin can.-
[18:38] <@AdEvaGM> [A series of explosions rocked the facility; the ground shook beneath Shinji's feet. Several of the generators had been destroyed.-
[18:39] <@AdEvaGM> [Stray shots? Maybe, but the generators were heavily armoured…-
[18:40] <@AdEvaGM> ["Watch your fire. We want these generators operational." Said Shinji.-
[18:41] <@AdEvaGM> [One of his Iron Guard turned and nodded. "That wasn't us, but we'll keep it in mind."-
[18:43] <@AdEvaGM> [A glowing sword-tip burst through his chest.-
[18:44] <@AdEvaGM> [A moment later the sword swept upwards, cutting the Guard in half. He staggered forward- then fell, his core shattered.-
[18:45] <@AdEvaGM> [Mary Caine stood behind the Guard, clad in black phantom armour and wielding her own reaper sword.-
[18:45] <@AdEvaGM> [Shinji stared. Then he took a stumbling foot backwards.-
[18:45] <@AdEvaGM> ["This is Ikari! Mary Caine sighted! I repeat-"-
[18:45] <@AdEvaGM> [But his signal couldn't get through.-
[18:46] <@AdEvaGM> ["The generators." Said Mary. "Destroy them and they leak radiation. You won't be speaking to anyone."-
[18:46] <@AdEvaGM> [Immediately, Shinji tried telepathy.-
[18:46] <@AdEvaGM> [But…-
[18:47] <@AdEvaGM> [Mary stepped over the Guard's corpse. She was smothering his telepathic attempts.-
[18:47] <@AdEvaGM> [Shinji's heart beat painfully, rapidly in his chest.-
[18:47] <@AdEvaGM> [But this wasn't the time for panic.-
[18:48] <@AdEvaGM> [Shinji lifted his left hand. It began to shine with an angry red power.-
[18:48] <@AdEvaGM> [A moment later the power flooded from him in a furious wave. He let out a howl and leapt forward.-
[18:49] <@AdEvaGM> [Mary barely avoided Shinji's pinwheel swipe. She raised her sword and brought it down toward his neck.-
[18:50] <@AdEvaGM> [He batted the blade aside, leapt back, and sent a wave of AT force toward her.-
[18:50] <@AdEvaGM> [Mary blocked the force with a look- and began to slowly push back.-
[18:51] <@AdEvaGM> [The two stood there; to outsiders it seemed as though they merely stared at one another. But all around them, debris and small objects were pulled loose; components of machines buckled and went flying; the ground around them began to twist and squeal.-
[18:51] <@AdEvaGM> [Then Shinji suddenly leapt forward, breaking through the duelling forces. He lashed a claw out-
[18:51] <@AdEvaGM> [And struck Mary square in the chest.-
[18:52] <@AdEvaGM> ["Uhk-"-
[18:52] <@AdEvaGM> [She stared up at his mask, seeing his rage beneath.-
[18:52] <@AdEvaGM> [She grabbed his hand with her own and pushed.-
[18:53] <@AdEvaGM> [Fluids began to leak around the rends he'd put in her armour- blood and something else…-
[18:53] <@AdEvaGM> [Mary pushed, then-
[18:53] <@AdEvaGM> [Pulled, as hard as she could. Shinji's hand punched straight through her back.-
[18:53] <@AdEvaGM> [She brought her sword up once, twice.-
[18:54] <@AdEvaGM> [Shinji stumbled backwards and smacked against the wall. She'd taken both of his arms.-
[18:54] <@AdEvaGM> [With a tug, Mary pulled his arm free, a glob of blood dribbling from her lips.-
[18:54] <@AdEvaGM> ["N-No- you can't have the cradle-" Spat Shinji.-
[18:54] <@AdEvaGM> ["I don't want the cradle." Said Mary.-
[18:55] <@AdEvaGM> [She picked up Shinji's left hand; the gauntlet burned away, revealing Adam's eye. It was roving frenetically around in its socket.-
[18:55] <@AdEvaGM> ["I want what it took from me."-
[18:55] <@AdEvaGM> [A small sigilite knife appeared in her hand. She stabbed it straight through the eye.-
[18:56] <@AdEvaGM> [The eye burst.-
[18:56] <@AdEvaGM> [Silence, then-
[18:56] <@AdEvaGM> [A rush of black smoke billowed out of the wound as the cradle screamed.-
[18:56] <@AdEvaGM> [The smoke pushed upwards, through the roof.-
[18:56] <@AdEvaGM> [A little wisp broke away, curled around Mary's throat, then entered her mouth.-
[18:57] <@AdEvaGM> [It…-
[18:57] <@AdEvaGM> [Was back.-
[18:57] <@AdEvaGM> [She felt it.-
[18:57] <@AdEvaGM> [Everyone around her for kilometres. Their fears, their intents, their very emotions, all of it came rushing back.-
[18:58] <@AdEvaGM> [The sudden sensation drove Mary to her knees.-
[18:58] <@AdEvaGM> [She couldn't control them, not yet.-
[18:59] <@AdEvaGM> [But the gift, stolen from Adam, given by Lilith, gave Mary something else, something more important.-
[18:59] <@AdEvaGM> [She lifted her head. Her eyes and hands were emitting a white nimbus of light.-
[18:59] <@AdEvaGM> [She sounded a single spiritual command.-
[18:59] <@AdEvaGM> [The Eternity Drive succumbed. In a single second, all of it bowed to her will. She was in a billion places, fully, at once.-
[19:00] <@AdEvaGM> ["Rise."]
[19:00] <@AdEvaGM> […]
[16:51] <@AdEvaGM> [The fire came thick and fast; Isaiah and Shinji hid behind cover.-
[16:51] <@AdEvaGM> ["Looks like Phantoms, the odd Stormtrooper and Iron Guard." Said Isaiah.-
[16:55] <@AdEvaGM> ["Do you want me to deal with the Guard?" Said Shinji.-
[16:55] <@AdEvaGM> ["No, leave them to me." He turned to the other forces nearby- Aline's Phantoms, Yanmei's beleaguered Honor Guard and a few companies of defecting Stormtroopers.-
[16:57] <@AdEvaGM> ["I wish we had more forces." Said Isaiah. "Those shuriken rifles are too well made to jam without some prior damage."-
[17:00] <@AdEvaGM> ["Unknowns behind us!" Shouted a Stormtrooper. Isaiah turned.-
[17:00] <@AdEvaGM> [Appearing behind them- his hands up- was Wu Yuanzhang, followed by a handful of AC Suits.-
[17:00] <@AdEvaGM> ["Wait… You?" Said Isaiah. "Aren't you Wu Yuanzhang?"-
[17:00] <@AdEvaGM> ["Yes. And I hope you're a son of Shu."-
[17:01] <@AdEvaGM> ["I'm not a son of Shu."-
[17:01] <@AdEvaGM> ["Damn." Wu frowned. "I'm here to defect!"-
[17:06] <@AdEvaGM> [Isaiah glanced at Shinji.-
[17:06] <@AdEvaGM> ["Truth." Said Shinji.-
[17:07] <@AdEvaGM> ["What can you offer us?" Said Isaiah.-
[17:07] <@AdEvaGM> ["The location of the Synfront dirac jammer." Said Wu.-
[17:08] <@AdEvaGM> ["That would be a tremendous help. Where is it?" Said Isaiah.-
[17:13] <@AdEvaGM> ["Not where. Who." Said Wu. "The mechanical jammers were knocked offline in the initial assault, but Mary has a living backup, apparently- ever since she went berserk, she's had some girl named Eve doing it for her with some kind of AT Field thing."-
[17:14] <@AdEvaGM> ["Jeremiah." Spat Isaiah. "Where is she?"-
[17:14] <@AdEvaGM> ["On the other side of that army." Said Wu.-
[17:14] <@AdEvaGM> ["Naturally. We'll have to break through." Said Isaiah. "Follow me- I have a plan."-
[17:14] <@AdEvaGM> […-
[17:32] <@AdEvaGM> [Eve von Hamburg felt sick.-
[17:33] <@AdEvaGM> [She had done her best to avoid the carnage in the halls, wherever it appeared, but now…-
[17:34] <@AdEvaGM> [She eyed the back of the army. A motley collection of murdering machines- Phantom, Iron Guard- all surging towards the bunkers, to intercept those trying to kill Mary.-
[17:37] <@AdEvaGM> ["How is it looking?" Said Eve of a nearby High Marshal- Marshal Jackson.-
[17:40] <@AdEvaGM> ["They're holding out stubbornly, but we're making progress." Said Jackson. "Soon."-
[17:41] <@AdEvaGM> [… And then at that moment, something patched into their comms channel.-
[17:41] <@AdEvaGM> ["This is Isaiah Zhang-Wei."-
[17:41] <@AdEvaGM> ["What? How did they get this frequency?" Said Jackson. "I-"-
[17:41] <@AdEvaGM> ["All Iron Guard serve me now." Came Isaiah's voice. "Slay any followers of Mary Caine!"-
[17:42] <@AdEvaGM> ["What?" Eve frowned. "But-"-
[17:43] <@AdEvaGM> [Jackson turned on his heel, drew his sword, and charged.-
[17:48] <@AdEvaGM> ["You serve me!" Shouted Eve, a moment before he hit home.-
[17:48] <@AdEvaGM> [Jackson froze.-
[17:48] <@AdEvaGM> [… And turned around, docile.-
[17:49] <@AdEvaGM> [But Eve's command went unheard over the comms; they were now being drowned out by immense amounts of white noise.-
[17:49] <@AdEvaGM> […-
[18:59] <@AdEvaGM> [Clang!-
[19:27] <@AdEvaGM> [Isaiah's false Excalibur tore through the Phantom's sword and armour both, felling her. He wove around another's attack, then sent a wave of AT energy down the corridor to clear the path.-
[19:31] <@AdEvaGM> [He sprinted past his enemies, letting his superior AT Field give him the speed he needed. Some followed-
[19:31] <@AdEvaGM> [Click!-
[19:32] <@AdEvaGM> [… And many slipped, fell, crashed into each other.-
[19:32] <@AdEvaGM> [There it was-
[19:32] <@AdEvaGM> [A lone, uncontrolled High Marshal. Behind him-
[19:32] <@AdEvaGM> [Eve von Hamburg.-
[19:33] <@AdEvaGM> [The Marshal withdrew his bolter and fired.-
[19:33] <@AdEvaGM> [Click!-
[19:33] <@AdEvaGM> [Isaiah parried the bolt, which ricocheted off the walls, punched into the Marshal's armoured power pack, and exploded, sending the Marshal smashing into the ground.-
[19:42] <@AdEvaGM> [He leapt past the Marshal, toward Eve. She screamed-
[19:42] <@AdEvaGM> [Isaiah plunged his false Excalibur into her chest.-
[19:43] <@AdEvaGM> [Then he pulled the sword free in a single swift move.-
[19:43] <@AdEvaGM> [Eve stared up at him- gasping- and then fell to her knees.-
[19:47] <@AdEvaGM> ["Jeremiah Caine." Said Isaiah, his voice cold. "You wear the face of one of my friends. Elena Clement did not deserve what you did to her."-
[19:47] <@AdEvaGM> ["Consider your sins avenged."-
[19:51] <@AdEvaGM> ["I-Isaiah…"-
[19:52] <@AdEvaGM> ["W-Wait…"-
[19:52] <@AdEvaGM> ["Next time." He said; the blade flicked out one last time.]
[20:25] <@AdEvaGM> […-
[20:25] <@AdEvaGM> ["We need to go!" Shouted Shinji. The Synfront was starting to fall apart.-
[20:26] <@AdEvaGM> ["Understood." Said Isaiah; their remaining forces were gathering.-
[20:26] <@AdEvaGM> ["Hurry up, please." Said Wu.-
[20:26] <@AdEvaGM> ["One moment." Said Isaiah. "I'm sensing-"-
[20:26] <@AdEvaGM> [The nearby door opened.-
[20:27] <@AdEvaGM> [Standing in it, dirty, weary but unharmed, was Kaiden Peters.-
[20:27] <@AdEvaGM> [He was supporting- as best he could- a one armed, one-eyed, bleeding Terence Savage.-
[20:27] <@AdEvaGM> ["We're here!" Shouted Kaiden. "Get us out of here!"-
[20:28] <@AdEvaGM> ["Not yet."-
[20:28] <@AdEvaGM> [Isaiah turned.-
[20:28] <@AdEvaGM> ["This means you too, girls. Come on."-
[20:28] <@AdEvaGM> [The remaining phantoms- lost, confused, directionless- meekly nodded and followed him.-
[20:28] <@AdEvaGM> ["Let's go."-
[20:28] <@AdEvaGM> [And with that, they were gone.]

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