For The Love Of Life 1 2b2

[08:29] <Minaplo> (20:28:41) * Yanmei side-glanced at Caine just once, regarded the other pilots of the Trinity to see if they too were entering their respective doors, and then took a step inside her own.
[08:29] <Minaplo> [It closed behind her with an ominous deep rumble. She was alone with Mary Caine…]
06[08:34] * Yanmei looked around sharply, determined not to falter. The doors had indeed worked, so she could only conclude that this whole cooperation thing was another supremely unfair test, like the one she just had gone through with Helen. What waited for them now? Some sort of reward? Safe passage to the next area?
[08:37] <Minaplo> [A long, empty corridor, ending in a turn to the left.]
06[08:42] * Yanmei skimmed the way, carefully, but seeing nothing out of place, she tossed her hair and began to follow the path. She tried to divide her attention between it and watching for any sudden movements on Caine's part. Glinty sharp objects or guns aimed in her direction…?
[08:45] <Minaplo> [Nothing. Just Caine in her black bodysuit…-
[08:45] <Minaplo> [They turned the corner, and at the end of the hall was a massive stone gate…]
06[08:51] * Yanmei stopped short, frowning up at it. This was new. She paused for a few moments more and then threw her shoulders back and approached it, searching for inscriptions or any other sort of directions.
[08:53] <Minaplo> [Two more hand alcoves on either side…-
[08:54] <Minaplo> ["A message." Said Caine. "That the door behind us was only the first, and not the last, that we must pass through together." She placed her hand on the right-side alcove.]
01[08:57] <Yanmei> So Yanmei went to the left to do the same, a touch annoyed that the silence between them had been broken, even if it was for business reasons only. "Fine, then?"
[09:01] <Minaplo> [The stone doors dutifully rumbled open, revealing what seemed to be a wide empty room…-
[09:04] <Minaplo> [As they entered, the doors closed behind them, locking them in. The only other exit was a stone door on the western side of the room.-
[09:06] <Minaplo> [… There was a sudden rush of movement from the roof. A hulking silvery-white shape fell from the ceiling, landing with such force as to shake the room.-
[09:07] <Minaplo> [It was a huge vehicle-like thing, a spider-like mechanical monstrosity; a central ovaloid body held up by four huge legs. It had a glowing red sensor, which emitted a wide red cone of light. It swept the room, the cone hitting them… And then it focused on them, sounding a sudden klaxon of alarm. From the top of its body carriage emerged a multi-barrelled heavy maser!-
[09:08] <Minaplo> ["A giant Hunter bot?" Murmured Caine, almost absently. "This will be a fight. Prepare yourself!"]
01[09:13] <Yanmei> "I know that!" Yanmei was already snatching up Excalibur. This was something else that was new and also -terrifying-. She kept her eyes on the maser… "Fastest way to disable it?"
[09:15] <Minaplo> ["Destroying its internal actuator control system, buried within the most armoured part of the body."-
[09:16] <Minaplo> [The bot widened its stance, lowering its body down, as if to protect its 'underbelly'… But then compartments in its legs opened up, and -dozens- of bots- small copies of the giant one- began pouring down its legs, forming into large groups.-
[09:16] <Minaplo> ["A Mother type, too." Said Caine flatly.]
01[09:25] <Yanmei> Yanmei's reaction was far less gracious. Her eyes widened and she started to swear, and then remembered that that was not the way to show how in control and unruffled by this she was. She took a huge breath, pointing Exaclibur at the little drones. "First thing's first? Let's clear a path!"
[09:32] <Minaplo> [Caine nodded, reaching with her right hand over to her back. A sheath emerged from the bodysuit… Although the proportions made it look horrifically like it had emerged from her -back-. In the sheath was a sword, which she pulled out. It was long and had a single edge, looking graceful, beautiful- and very lethal. She flicked a switch built into the hilt, and the sword began to hum, an
[09:32] <Minaplo> energy field sparking off the blade itself.-
[09:37] <Minaplo> [She leapt forward off of one leg, leaping the entire distance between herself and the nearest mob of bots. Mid-leap, she spun; Mary's landing was practically artistic, unleashing the force and momentum of her blow, channelled into that one lovely blade; the energy sword visible only as a blurry ribbon of light flowing around her. A good number of bots were torn apart.]
06[09:43] * Yanmei was… trying not to stare. She had her own little bots to contend with, anyway…. -
01[09:47] <Yanmei> She charged at them outright with a silent snarl of discontent, crashing Excalibur into them with all of her might. A good number went down on her side too, little metal bodies splintered and broken.
[09:54] <Minaplo> [The dead little bots sparked and fizzled out, whilst the survivors went on the attack!-
[09:54] <Minaplo> [Each sported a little maser. Not powerful enough to do much damage alone, but en masse it could do plenty of damage. Some of them scuttled forward and snapped at Mary's legs with sharpened blades.-
[09:55] <Minaplo> [The mother added its heavy maser to the mix as well. Mary took plenty of hits, although her face remained a mask of solid determination as she tore into another group. "Finish these!"]
01[10:04] <Yanmei> "I know?!" Yanmei followed up with more messy splintering swinging over and over. Soon they were both standing in a pile of broken baby hunters. "One more group!"
[10:07] <Minaplo> ["Look out!"-
[10:07] <Minaplo> [The mother fired a hail of maser bolts at Yanmei, one hurtling towards her head…!]
06[10:09] * Yanmei jerked aside, and even then it was nearly too late. There was the smell of singed hair, and she blinked rapidly, half-blinded by the attack. "Damn you…!!"
[10:25] <Minaplo> [Caine was already off, finishing the rest of the bots off. "Now the mother."-
[10:25] <Minaplo> [A single thrust tore away some armored plating off the spider-bot, but it was mostly intact. It took a heavy step back, lowered its body…-
[10:25] <Minaplo> [And another horde of small spider-bots rushed forth from its legs!-
[10:26] <Minaplo> ["It's reclaiming the damaged ones' bodies and repairing them. Heads up!"]
01[10:42] <Yanmei> "Ew, ew!" Yanmei clutched Excalibur tighter, darting ahead to meet them straight on. "Focus on the big one? I'll handle these!"
[10:47] <Minaplo> ["Alright!"-
[10:48] <Minaplo> [Caine swung her elegant blade into the head of the Mother. It was a solid hit, and it reared backwards… Only to instantly hit the ground, its legs snapping into place around it, huge metal shield walls bursting forth, encasing it in an impenetrable defense.-
[10:48] <Minaplo> ["Damn, I can't get through this!"]
01[10:54] <Yanmei> "Can't stay like that forever?" Yanmei was hacking away at her own foes. "We'll just have to wait for an opening."
[11:01] <Minaplo> [A hail of maser bolts struck Yanmei- Mary, meanwhile, was clearing through another horde, before performing a masterful acrobatic leap, landing in the midst of another clump and instantly devastating them.]
06[11:11] * Yanmei swallowed back a pained cry, and ripped through the firing hordes with a vengence! When she was done, she murderously turned her eyes to one of the few remaining clusters, just to the north of her…
[11:23] <Minaplo> [A few seconds of frenzied battle saw the small bots destroyed- only in time for the Mother to remove her shield and deploy another wave.-
[11:24] <Minaplo> ["It drops the shield when the small ones are defeated! Defeat them as fast as possible!" Shouted Mary, leaping at the Mother, striking it- and forcing it back into its shield.]
01[11:42] <Yanmei> "I'm-" Yanmei drew Excalibur back, "- trying!" She brought it forward again sweeping cleanly through two particularly pesky new groups of bots with one hit. Without bothering to assess the damage, she sprang over to Caine's right, ready to go it again with a fresh mob.
[12:09] <Minaplo> [The mob responded, dozens of bots surging towards her, clutching onto her leg and scrambling up her body…-
[12:10] <Minaplo> [Whilst Caine was springing away, landing in a crouch near another group of bots, swinging her sword in a wide, low arc that tore the group apart.]
01[12:12] <Yanmei> Creepy crawly on her body… Yanmei reacted with a low, violent scream and more smashing and tearing! Little broken metal bits flew everywhere until there were none of them left moving. Breathing hard, she eyed the Mother bot and tensed in anticipation of another wave.
[09:05] <@Minaplo> [And as expected, the Mother removed her shield, unleashing another wave of bots- and Caine was ready, sweeping in, striking quickly twice with her sword, before dashing out a milisecond before the shield closed again. Caine was already ripping into another swarm, with her sword… And her left hand, which seemed to be emitting small glimmering shuriken-shards from her fingertips. The
[09:05] <@Minaplo> razor-sharp projectiles tore through the metal like it was nothing…]
06[09:18] * Yanmei made another wide sweeping arc that obliterated two more groups of freshly-spawned spiders, just barely glancing over in Caine's direction at the new move.
[09:22] <@Minaplo> [The surviving spider-bots on Caine's side surged forward, leaping at Caine's legs and arms, slowing her down…-
[09:22] <@Minaplo> [But Yanmei would not be spared either. The bots swarmed her, too; one pinned itself to her breastplate, whilst another leapt up onto her head, two of its legs gripping her hair, and two more clamping vice-tightly around her throat.]
03[09:28] * Syntax is now known as Sept
01[09:29] <Yanmei> This time shaking them off didn't work! She flailed frantically with her sword, half-panicked.
[09:46] <@Minaplo> [Caine seemed to slam herself into the ground- but only to crush the bots beneath her. She was instantly up on her feet, sweeping away the survivors with her sword.]
01[09:47] <Yanmei> And Yanmei flailed and flailed, taking much longer, but -finally- breaking enough of them to give herself some freedom again.
[10:11] <@Minaplo> ["Hah!" Caine swept her sword around her, slicing through several more bots, before leaping backwards, her back squarely against Yanmei's, holding one arm over her shoulder. A hail of shurikens ripped into the surviving bots, shredding them completely. "Be ready!"]
01[10:15] <Yanmei> "What?!" Yanmei glared at her. She'd totally been about to finish that group herself. "I -am- ready!"
[10:23] <@Minaplo> [The spider-mother disgorged yet more rapidly repaired tiny-bots, and Caine struck again, lashing her sword deep into the Mother's exposed leg. "I'm out of shurikens! Heads up!"]
01[10:32] <Yanmei> "Yaaaah!!" Yanmei swept Excaliber through more of them as they skittered into view… only to be jumped by yet another group from the side. She swore violently.
[10:36] <@Minaplo> [Some tried the same on Mary, but she swept them out of the air, and then began slicing a few off of Yanmei- the blade came terrifyingly close to her neck…]
06[10:42] * Yanmei went pale, and then red as rage flooded in to replace her concern. She took it out on the spiderbots, first smashing the remaining on her and then smashing the remaining group beyond them. "Wait for it…!"
[10:59] <@Minaplo> [A new wave surged out, surrounding Yanmei, lunging at her, not bothering with Mary- who was already cutting into the Mother's innards! "A few more seconds!"]
01[11:04] <Yanmei> They were hailing down on Yanmei, leaping from all directions, fueling her rage even as she shielded her face from their little metal legs. She bobbed, and wove, and shook some off… and finally -exploded- in a black and violet whirlwind of blades and hate, swearing harder in Chinese. When she was finished, there were only bits of metal scrap around…
[11:07] <@Minaplo> [… Followed by another wave. But this wave wouldn't have time to act. Caine swept in, leaping up gracfully onto its thin body; Yanmei felt the wind of her movement brush her face. Caine found the right point in the silvery plating- one strike to break through the armour, and another strike to disable its internal components. With a sudden shudder, the bot froze- then collapsed in on
[11:07] <@Minaplo> itself, Mary leaping to safety.-
[11:08] <@Minaplo> [She didn't say anything, didn't comment on her act; instead she grabbed Yanmei's arm and -ran- away from the bot, leaping hastily as the bot suddenly exploded outwards, filling the area with an energy wave that annihilated the remains of Yanmei's carnage.]
01[11:14] <Yanmei> "Wh-?!" But her words were cut off by an -intense explosion- and light and flying debris. She found herself alongside Mary Caine, against one of the walls of the smoking room, unharmed.
[11:17] <@Minaplo> ["Tamper-proof, in which tamper-proof means self-detonating." Said Caine slowly, propping herself up against the wall.-
[11:17] <@Minaplo> ["I really hate Ikari right now." She muttered.]
01[11:22] <Yanmei> "Join the club?" Yanmei muttered, easing away from her carefully, and climbing to her feet.
[11:25] <@Minaplo> [Caine also rose to her feet. "Are you hurt? Check your injuries before we proceed."]
01[11:32] <Yanmei> "Minor scratches," she assured her airly, so that she wouldn't assume this was the perfect opportunity for consequence-free backstabbing. She fished out a tube of biogel, applying it where she could. It was way too weird filling the silence with small talk, so she relied on business instead. "Were you serious about lending us aid with this Lance business?"
[11:35] <@Minaplo> ["Yes." Said Caine, who began looking over her catsuit. Yanmei had -seen- it take hits during the battle, yet it seemed undamaged. Caine began peeling the top part of the suit off, similar in some ways to Yanmei peeling off a plugsuit.-
[11:40] <@Minaplo> ["The capacities of the Synfront to survive an apocalyptic scenario are exaggerated. It seems practical to defeat this foe together." She seemed to have no reservations against exposing herself to Yanmei… Although the reason may have been in plain sight. With the top part of the bodysuit peeled off, Yanmei could see the injuries on her body- that layer of flesh, surrounded by tiny amounts
[11:40] <@Minaplo> of blood, burned open; the wound exposing nothing but a surovite casing instead of bone or organs, the surface scored with maser burns. The tone of Mary's flesh was unsettlingly… Static. Apart from her face, the colour of her chest, arms and stomach all seemed to be the same tone exactly, giving it an unnatural artificial look. There was no pale redness from blood beneath the surface,
[11:40] <@Minaplo> or anything like that at all…]
06[11:47] * Yanmei glanced away uneasily. She felt a mean remark rising to the surface of her brain about the Mary Caine being more machine than human, but she kept it to herself. "You haven't asked for anything in return yet. We're still holding some of your people prisoners, you know."
[11:49] <@Minaplo> ["I would be open to a prisoner exchange. My Solomons, in return for equipment? Or perhaps the release of certain entities within the Eternity Drive?"]
01[11:52] <Yanmei> "You realize we'd have no way of knowing that you'd actually released them…"
[11:54] <@Minaplo> ["Your people can quantify souls, of course? Then all I would have to do is place them within appropriate recepticles, as I did for Azrael. You could then verify the contents of these recepticles, although releasing them would only return them to my control."]
01[11:58] <Yanmei> "Hmm. We'll contact you for negotiations after we've cleared the rest of this base. I'm surprised, though. No concern over von Brandt, your new HIC rep?"
[11:58] <@Minaplo> [She smiled a little. "Von Brandt will come home when he's hungry."]
01[12:01] <Yanmei> "…" appropriately skeeved out, Yanmei hastily finished dabbing biogel on herself and twisted the cap back on the remainder of the tube.
[12:09] <@Minaplo> [Caine placed her bodysuit's top half back onto her body, where it quickly reformed as it had been; she nodded now to the now-open door to the west of the room.]
[20:50] * Yanmei pulled out her weapon again, determined not to be taken by surprise by Caine or Ikari alike. She continued on, crossing to the door and pausing at it and peeking inside before moving into the next chamber…
[20:54] <Minaplo> [The hall was long and empty, the air cold, but not stale either. The ground was marked by the same decorative patterns that marked the Seeker Mother's room- as well as the corridors before that.]#
[20:57] * Yanmei glanced over her shoulder once more, and then headed out quickly down the seemingly normal hallway, eyes darting every which way.
[21:30] <Minaplo> [But Yanmei didn't quite make it that far…]
[21:38] * Yanmei staggered just a few meters in, leaning against the wall for support. She clenched her jaw hard, staring down as if trying to wrap her head around something, and then painfully tried to double back, to safety.
[21:54] <Minaplo> ["… Ang?"]
[22:02] <Yanmei> …it was no good. She squinted, trying to see through the haze that was suddenly half-blinding her. "s' trap…" she slurred, slumping fully against the wall now. Ikari's? Caine's? One of those pesky robot spiders'? Damn them all!
[22:59] <Yanmei> … and then suddenly, she was unsteadily making her way upright again, blinking down at herself in complete confusion, her voice reflecting as much when she got around to speaking again. "Eh?"
[23:01] <Minaplo> [Caine was holding her shoulders, staring at her, her expression grim. "Zhang. What happened?"]
[23:09] <Yanmei> "Hallucination?" she mumbled groggily. She pulled back, frowning. "I'm fine now…"
[23:11] <Minaplo> ["What did you see?"]
[23:17] <Yanmei> That… just seemed to make her uncomfortable. "Forget it? We need to get going."
[23:27] <Minaplo> [Caine nodded, releasing her. "If what happened to you was a trap, then we must be cautious. I don't think your symptoms matched a hallucination grenade or the like, but nevertheless, Ikari might have some other trick."]
[23:38] <Yanmei> "Right?" She nodded sharply, brushing off her clothes. Somehow, she felt glad about being able to move freely again. "You didn't see anything out of the ordinary just now, did you? Before I collapsed?"
[23:43] <Minaplo> ["No."]#
[00:00] <Yanmei> She started forward again, this time a little more slowly, heading for the end of the hallway.
[00:01] <Minaplo> [Caine followed.-
[00:01] <Minaplo> [Yanmei reached the door without hassle, although she'd notice two things. First: the door had no visible lock or handle…-
[00:02] <Minaplo> [… Second: The sound of Caine suddenly sagging, falling to her knees behind her.]
[00:04] * Yanmei whirled around, caught off guard. "H-hey!"
[00:09] <Minaplo> [Caine was on all fours, her hands clenched into fists, her eyes shut, her mouth a pained grimace. She was shuddering, and with what seemed like herculean effort staggered back to her feet, tried to walk- only to collapse once again.]
[00:17] <Yanmei> Yanmei's hand twitched toward the bolter that was holstered at her side. Her mind was racing… going over calculations and guesses about Caine's capabilities and their present position and the many benefits of her being suddenly out of the picture. -
[00:20] <Yanmei> Finally, angrily, she clenched her hand into a fist. Like it would actually be that easy? "Stop that," she said sharply. "Just sit down and wait it out."
[00:25] <Minaplo> ["Not…" Caine struggled to stand again, only to collapse once more, her arms giving out. Her head knocked against the stone hard; she let out a short, dark cry.]
[00:32] * Yanmei stared from where she stood. This was so unlike the cold professional Caine she'd known that it was… actually, a little fascinating, in a horrible way. She folded her arms.
[00:37] <Minaplo> ["Again…" Caine managed, astonishingly, to get back up on one leg, almost standing again. Her eyes were rolling into the back of her head, but she gritted her teeth and tried… For one second, she stood, shakily, then fell backwards, her right hand gripping her throat.]
[00:49] <Yanmei> It… was probably the same dream. Why else would she react that way? Yanmei… slowly edged closer to her.
[00:49] <Minaplo> [Caine rolled over, clawing towards the wall, trying to pull herself up by her hands…]
[00:54] * Yanmei caught her by the shoulders. From behind, as Caine was currently facing the wall. Gently, she tried to turn her around.
[00:56] <Minaplo> [And it was as though a weight was lifted off of Caine's shoulders. The agony and fatigue suddenly fell away, and her eyes rolled forwards. She almost stumbled with the sudden weightlessness before reorientating herself. "Definitely… A psychic effect."]
[01:01] * Yanmei had drawn her hand back a little, palm open, before Caine had started to recover. Now, hastily, she let it fall back down to her side before it was noticed. "Right. I was going to say the same thing?"
[01:02] <Minaplo> ["It's a… A trap by Ikari, I think. Your daze ended as I touched you, and the same for me. A trap to enforce- mutual understanding. How very Ikari."]
[01:06] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei was quiet for a moment or two, resenting him. "So the things you saw just now were…?"
[01:07] <Minaplo> ["Writhing in a burning plug, superheated LCL within my chest. The Qaphsiel attack."]
[01:10] <Yanmei> "I see." There was a cold anger in her voice.
[01:10] <Minaplo> ["
[01:10] <Minaplo> ["What did you see?"]
[01:13] <Yanmei> "Being paralyzed by agony in an overcrowded French hospital, with no anesthesia available?"
[01:16] <Minaplo> ["The day of Impact. My car accident." Caine nodded, but her face showed little emotion. "The beginning of five years in a wheelchair, being led around by others. Painful surgeries, replacing my body piece by piece. I remember that it was two weeks before proper anesthetic could be found. I nearly went insane in the time between. I remember that they had to shift me to Orleans, since Paris had been devastated. The shift was torture."-
[01:19] <Minaplo> ["Yes, I suppose that if Ikari was looking to share a horrific memory with you, that would be the one to choose." She said, with an almost casually practical air, like it was an intriguing trivia question. "But as far as I'm concerned, those memories belong to someone else, not me. That someone else died in Impact, and with it went her weaknesses."]

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