Melbourne S Aftermath Pt 2
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Day 6

[16:07] <Minaplo> [The next day was an early start! Yanmei would awake next to a sleeping Lizzie, Daji and Isaiah- but outside, Hermione and Isha were talking.]
[16:09] <Yanmei> Rubbing her eyes, she joined them as quietly as she could, trying not to wake the ones still sleeping.
[16:15] <Minaplo> ["You're just in time." Said Hermione. "We're going to ambush a Tiger raiding party today and steal their stuff."]
[16:17] <Yanmei> "…come again?" Clearly she was hearing things bacause she wasn't fully awake yet…
[16:19] <Minaplo> ["We're gonna ambush some Tigers and steal their stuff."]
[16:20] * Yanmei stared. She then looked to Isha.
[16:23] <Minaplo> ["She makes a good argument." Said Isha, shrugging.]
[16:26] <Yanmei> "I'd love to hear it, then?" She folded her arms. "-Why- are we raiding a raiding party without provocation?"
[16:29] <Minaplo> ["One: we need a truck." Said Hermione. "Trucks are great value, mate. You can carry your whole camp in one, like a porta-home. You can fortify them up if you need to, and if you're serious about finding that cache then we'll need a truck to carry all the loot."-
[16:42] <Minaplo> ["Two: The best place to find trucks are with the Tigers, and at this point you've pissed the tigers off so much that there's really nothing to gain by -not- preying on them. And in this city you're either prey or predator."-
[16:42] <Minaplo> ["Third: The more trouble the Tigers have, the less they'll hunt you, because they'll need to devote energy to fighting the Pies and Saints."]
[16:47] <Yanmei> "It -would- be harder for them if their raiding parties kept getting beaten up," Yanmei relented.
[16:53] <Minaplo> ["And besides, if we keep ourselves secret and fast we can wipe a party out like -that-. Wait for them to do a water break, jump 'em, you get a truck, a car for parts and petrol, and Bob's your uncle."]
[16:55] <Yanmei> "Bob's my…?" she decided to let that last part go. "Mr. Isha, you agree with her?"
[16:56] <Minaplo> ["I do."]
[16:59] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei frowned deeply. After a moment or so, she glanced over to the makeshift cave where she had left Isaiah and Lizzie. "I'll wake him up. He and Lizzie should stick around here, on alert, while we're gone?"
[17:03] <Minaplo> ["Fair." Said Isha.]
[17:11] <Yanmei> She kissed them both goodbye before going… and patted Daji lightly on the head when Lizzie held her up to also partake of kisses. Finally, Yanmei, Isha, and Hermione checked and reloaded their gear and were on their way, leaving the two rumbly cars and motorcycle behind.
[08:17] <Minaplo> [It would take them a little over an hour of travel before they found their quarry- a group of Tigers on water break, their vehicles heading west. So Hermione led them to a little collection of crumbling buildings. "Let's wait."-
[08:17] <Minaplo> [They'd take up positions and hide. For fifteen minutes they waited…]
[08:34] <Yanmei> Yanmei checked her ammo quietly, leaning against the stone wall she had taken up cover behind. She knew Isha was just a short distance away, but she'd lost sight of Hermione. It was just as well? If she couldn't find her, the Gangers probably wouldn't either.
[08:37] <Minaplo> [And so they appeared, a rumbling black and yellow truck and a small angry buggy next to it, cruising along, looking relaxed and confident.]
[08:56] <Yanmei> Until they opened fire, that is. Yanmei went first, both guns blazing briefly at the buggy. Some simply bounced off the car, but the gunner took a nasty hit in the side.
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[09:06] <Minaplo> [Isha leaned out of cover and fired in tandem, the pulse bolt ripping the driver's chest apart. The buggy careened off the road and thudded into a wall, allowing Isha to step out of the building and finish off the gunner.-
[09:08] <Minaplo> [And Hermione appeared now, leaping from the top of a nearby building! She landed on the truck's roof, flicking out her blade and easily slipping it between the truck gunner's ribs.]
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[09:11] * Yanmei saw but a flash of Hermione's dark clothing before as she found herself rounding the corner to aid Isha, firing at the remaining Gangers emerging from the buggy and missing.
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[09:27] <Minaplo> [A second later they'd be obscured by smoke from a grenade… But not before a hail of bullets were hurled at Yanmei, one grazing her cheek!]
[09:32] <Yanmei> She hissed at the sting, and when returning fire seemed to not pay off, she tucked one pistol away and flicked her Surovite blade into view instead.
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[09:36] <Minaplo> [A pair of gangers had emerged from the wildly swerving truck now, one of them about to turn their gun on Yanmei…]
[09:38] <Yanmei> But she got to him first. Blood spattered, and entrails slipped onto the grimy pavement from the wound she scored.
[09:43] <Minaplo> [A half-second later blood was gushing everywhere, all over the ground. The ganger next to Yanmei's prey -stared- at her, eyes widening, widening, bugging out- "Oh, oh gogughghr-"-
[09:43] <Minaplo> [He collapsed to his knees, puking his guts out and gasping in pain and terror.-
[09:44] <Minaplo> [To Yanmei's left, the impudent gangers who'd shot at her were all felled by Isha in a single burst, and to her right, the truck came to a stop, the driver's body unceremoniously being kicked out onto the road.]
[09:45] <Yanmei> "You." She glowered at the last gagging Ganger, not yet putting her weapons away. They all knew which side had won here. "Beat it!"
[09:47] <Minaplo> ["Hrrrrkgaalghblurgh."]
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[09:48] <Yanmei> Ugh. She tossed her hair in disgust, and went over to search the less-messy men that Isha had felled.
[09:51] <Minaplo> [A few minutes later, the bodies were piled up, the buggy looted, the truck roaring and ready to go. "A good haul." Said Hermione cheerfully.]
[09:52] <Yanmei> "You looked like you were enjoying yourself," Yanmei smirked, climbing into the passenger seat.
[09:52] <Minaplo> ["Ambushing gangers never gets old."-
[09:52] <Minaplo> ["Here, you drive."]
[09:53] <Yanmei> "All right?" She slid over to take the wheel.
[10:52] <Minaplo> [A quick trip back to base to unload their ill-gotten gains later, Yanmei and Isha would then take the war buggy and drive to the northwest, skirting around Parliament territory and finding themselves, eventually, in Demon territory- where a group of gangers was waiting to escort them.]
[08:21] * Yanmei hadn't expected that. It was if they were all waiting for them. She nodded politely to them, stopped for a word or two with one of them, and followed at a crawl as the led her off to wherever it was they were going.
[08:25] <Minaplo> [And so they led her through ominous, tight streets, where mouldering apartment blocks and crumbling buildings stared down at them, silent reminders of devastation.-
[08:26] <Minaplo> [Before long they'd come to a… Compound. It was a sort of ramshackle fortress, with corrugated iron and scavenged stone forming a makeshift high wall. Giant Demon flags blew in the cool wind.-
[08:26] <Minaplo> [Some spikes had been added to the wall, and on them hung grisly trophies- several Saints, impaled through their middle; a Bomber's head; the helmet of a Blue.-
[08:27] <Minaplo> [They were escorted to the front gate, which was hastily pulled open, revealing a squat but solid-looking building. Demons milled about, some on guard, some just curious. They started laughing when Yanmei appeared.]
[08:31] <Yanmei> That laughing again… She finished emerging from the buggy nevertheless, all calm smiles and tipping imaginary hats so to speak. She passed through the gate and into the Compound.
[08:32] <Minaplo> [The interior was dimly lit, with only windows allowing in natural light; torches had been hung from walls, filling the air with a greasy, oily feel.-
[08:33] <Minaplo> [She could hear snatches of voices from the end of the room, loud, rowdy, like they were singing. But this wasn't where she was supposed to go. A tall Demon pointed to the stairs. "Go up."]
[08:38] <Yanmei> "Right." So she threw her shoulders back and went up them, Isha hopefully in tow.
[08:39] <Minaplo> [Isha was indeed in tow.-
[08:42] <Minaplo> [Two minutes and six flights of stairs later, they'd come out into a sort of… 'throne room'. It had obviously once been several rooms, but most of the walls had been knocked down, leaving ugly, uneven breaks everywhere.-
[08:46] <Minaplo> [This room nevertheless had a balcony, and on it was a woman with long red hair. She was about Yanmei's height, and she was looking away from them. "You Ying?"]
[08:48] <Yanmei> "That's right~" Yanmei folded her arms. "You're Checkers Lucy?"
[08:52] <Minaplo> ["Yep." She turned.-
[08:53] <Minaplo> [For a minute Yanmei would've sworn that she stared right at Asuka Langley-Soryu. Her entire air was one of supreme confidence, and also one that projected danger to any who might come close.-
[08:57] <Minaplo> [She wore hardened leather trousers and a heavy jacket over a blue tank top. A sword hung from her hip.]
[09:03] <Yanmei> "Pleasure to meet you. Although I have to say I'm a little surprised?" Yanmei kept her smile on, despite more melancholic pangs. "I didn't think I big important Gang leader would be interested in me."
[09:04] <Yanmei> ^a big
[09:04] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, but that's bullshit, innit?"]
[09:04] <Yanmei> "What do you mean?"
[09:06] <Minaplo> ["You show up, you fuck with the Tigers so hard I've got Captain Blood banging on my door wanting to double-bounty your arse until you bleed from all seven orifices, and I have a group come in with an armful of Saint uniforms and pegging you for it. The Runners are yapping all about you… All in one week."]
[09:08] <Yanmei> "It's been an eventful week," she said mildly.-
[09:12] <Yanmei> "There's nothing I can do about my reputation now that it's out there in the open? So I may as well ask what your thoughts are on the whole thing. You didn't agree to Captain Blood's offer, did you?"
[09:13] <Minaplo> ["Not yet. That could change though." Said Lucy, folding her arms. "And you wanna hear my thoughts on it? Alright…"-
[09:13] <Minaplo> ["Do you know what happened nearly a week ago?"]
[09:14] <Yanmei> "What?"
[09:15] <Minaplo> ["I dunno -what-, but. The Runners say a star fell out of the sky. Some tinkerers think it's a meteorite. But I dunno, I think it's something else. I think maybe it was an aircraft from the outside…"]
[09:18] <Yanmei> "You don't believe the Tinkerers?" Yanmei's forehead creased slightly.
[09:19] <Minaplo> ["I don't have any reason to just go 'oh right, sure, off ya go then' when it comes to -anything-. The Tinkerers might say it's a meteorite, but I say, where's your proof? They don't got anything."-
[09:21] <Minaplo> ["I don't got anything either, but that at -least- makes me as right as the Tinkerers." Said Lucy. "But ever since that meteor or plane or whatever has come down it's been on my mind, day in day out. And lots of weird shit's been happening, too."]
[09:23] <Yanmei> "You mean that weird metal that people have been saying came from the meteor… or craft or whatever is it?"
[09:24] <Minaplo> ["Partly. But you're weird shit too. Both random strangers who come out of nowhere and start stirring up shit within days…"-
[09:25] <Minaplo> ["And Parliament's extra paranoid for some reason, fuck if I know why, but if it's related to the fallin' star then maybe it's something to do with the outside."-
[09:25] <Minaplo> ["And there's other weird shit popping up as well." She clicked her fingers.-
[09:26] <Minaplo> [A young ganger girl ran out of the shadows, throwing a huge white fur coat over Lucy's shoulders. She shrugged it on. "You know what a camera is?"]
[09:27] <Yanmei> "Yeah, it's a thing that records images of people, right?"
[09:29] <Minaplo> ["Yup. Jasmine here found one out west. Buncha Raiders kicked the bucket real hard, poor fuckers. One of them was clutchin' the camera, and so I had a Tinkerer go develop the film."]
[09:32] <Yanmei> "West of here?" The unknown, as far as she was concerned. "Don't tell me it caught whoever it was who did those Raiders in?"
[09:33] <Minaplo> ["Fuck if I know, he lives north of here in the clusterfuck of an area they call south Carlton. He wasn't at Trading Day, see, and I can't spare any men to go check it out."]
[09:37] * Yanmei looked thoughtful. "Now you've gotten me curious about it? How far north is this Carlton place?"
[09:40] <Minaplo> ["About a five minutes' drive."]
[09:40] <Yanmei> "Want to see what's up?" She glanced to Isha.
[09:41] <Minaplo> ["Sure." Said Isha, nodding slowly.]
[09:42] <Yanmei> "We'll do you guys a favor and go see what this is about, then. Any messages you want delivered to this guy?"
[09:43] <Minaplo> ["Tell him Lucy says hello. Fuck, I dunno."]
[09:44] * Yanmei snickered. "Sure. Let's go?" And she turned for the door to the throne room.
[09:53] * ZackSleep is now known as ZackAFK
[10:00] <Yanmei> It was a quick drive. At some point - past a wide intersection that had most likely been a battlefield of some sort, judging from the shrapnel and color-wearing corpses - the presence of Demon members became less noticable. -
[10:01] <Yanmei> Eventually, Yanmei pulled up to a small house with a sign out front: "Robert McCormac, Doc-Tinkerer".
[10:02] <Minaplo> ["This is our man." Said Isha. "I wonder if he's home."]
[10:07] <Yanmei> "Only one way to find out." Yanmei hopped out of the driver's seat and boldly went up to the door. She knocked.
[10:07] <Minaplo> [Isha was right behind her.-
[10:08] <Minaplo> [No response. In fact the door swung open a little, not even locked…?]
[10:09] <Yanmei> It didn't seem good. First not showing up to Trading Day, and now this. She grasped the handle and pushed the door in a little further to get a look inside, her hand going for her Surovite blade.
[10:10] <Minaplo> [The room was cluttered with machines and books and papers; the floor was wood, dirty and scuffed, the walls brick.-
[10:10] <Minaplo> [Robert McCormac lay against a metal door, his throat slit, a pool of blood around him.]
[10:12] * Yanmei groaned, stepping further into the room. "Ugh, I knew it. Poor guy. But who would risk pissing everyone off like this?"
[10:12] <Minaplo> ["Who indeed. Let's look around for that film. He has to have a developing room somewhere…"]
[10:15] * Yanmei nodded. "If you can find anything that would point to a suspect, too, grab it." She started to take her own look around.
[10:21] <Minaplo> [After ten minutes of searching, Yanmei could come to several conclusions.-
[10:22] <Minaplo> [One: whoever had entered here had done so with force as the door lock was physically broken.-
[10:22] <Minaplo> [Two: Whoever had entered here had been searching for something, as they'd torn the place apart.-
[10:22] <Minaplo> [Three: They succeeded.-
[10:23] <Minaplo> [Almost. There was one thing they left behind, and she found it in a shadowy corner of the red-lit photo developing room. It was a photograph.]
[10:24] * Yanmei picked it up and squinted at it.
[10:31] <Yanmei> "We're done here. Let's go. Don't want to spend another second in here if I can help it?" She hurried for the door.
[10:31] <Minaplo> ["Wait, Yanmei. What's wrong?"]
[10:36] <Yanmei> "I'll show you on the ride back. Please, let's go…"
[10:37] <Minaplo> ["Alright." Said Isha cautiously, following Yanmei out and jumping into the car.]
[10:38] * Yanmei started it up, and turned it around, heading back toward Lucy's place. On the way, she passed the photo to him as promised.
[10:38] <Minaplo> [Isha took it, holding it in one hand. He stared.-
[10:38] <Minaplo> [And went pale. "These are Storm Troopers."]
[10:39] <Yanmei> Yanmei stared ahead of her, her face expressionless. "They've found us."
[10:39] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[10:39] <Minaplo> ["No, I'm not sure that's actually true. Not yet."]
[10:40] <Yanmei> "What do you mean?"
[10:41] <Minaplo> ["There's something that's been bothering me for awhile." Said Isha, leaning back in his seat. "The Synfront has the capacity to trace teleports like Dirac jumps, the sort EVA-08 did to get us out of there. So theoretically they should've been able to find us the moment we arrived. We should've been dealing with E-Destroyer squadrons and Storm Trooper regiments within hours."-
[10:42] <Minaplo> ["But it's nearly a week and we've seen no overt actions. All we have is a picture of a squad of Storm Troopers, who have so far apparently wiped out a ganger band and slit the throat of a Tinkerer."]
[10:46] <Yanmei> "So… what, then? Are you saying we were -allowed- to escape? And these guys are, what, just watching us from a distance?"
[10:47] <Minaplo> ["You don't send a squad of armed Storm Troopers to observe." Isha frowned, rubbing his chin.-
[10:47] <Minaplo> ["Here's the facts: we teleported out via the Dirac Sea."-
[10:47] <Minaplo> ["The teleport was botched."-
[10:47] <Minaplo> ["We should've been detected immediately but weren't."-
[10:48] <Minaplo> ["The only UN presence so far is a single squad of Storm Troopers."-
[10:48] <Minaplo> ["Here's the thing. If they -knew- they were here, they'd be all over us. If they knew we -weren't- here then there wouldn't be any Troopers."-
[10:49] <Minaplo> ["So the logical conclusion is that, for some reason, the Dirac trace was messed up. They have enough of a trace to -suspect- we are here, but not enough to -prove- it."]
[10:51] <Yanmei> "They'll be able to prove it soon enough, when they catch wind of the rumors going around here? Ying the Liberator and the falling star…."
[10:52] <Minaplo> ["That's true. That's true…"-
[10:52] <Minaplo> [Isha tapped the photograph. "However."]
[10:52] <Yanmei> "However?"
[10:52] <Minaplo> ["We have some advantages."]
[10:55] <Yanmei> "We have the Eva. Or will, eventually. We have the support of the Runners, although I don't know how far that will get us? What else?"
[10:56] <Minaplo> ["Storm Troopers are UN troops. We can convince Lucy and Parliament that they're a threat, and they can help shield us for awhile."-
[10:56] <Minaplo> ["… There's one other thing." He tapped the photograph again. "Do you see this fellow to the right, on the frame?"]
[10:56] * Yanmei looked over at it again, harder.
[10:57] <Minaplo> ["That's a Junior Magistrate's XC-16 AC Suit."]
[10:59] <Yanmei> "Someone you know?" she said wryly.
[10:59] <Minaplo> ["Probably." Said Isha dryly. "However, I'm capable of piloting this suit. But more importantly, do you know what XC-16 AC Suits come with? Long-range communication technology."]
[11:03] <Yanmei> "…" A slow smile came to her. "That's almost a relief? I was worried about how we would convince Parliament to let us use their stuff."
[11:03] <Minaplo> ["Indeed." Isha smiled. "So that's our plan, then?"]
[11:07] <Yanmei> "Seems that way?" She accelerated. "We'll start with Lucy, of course? Then we'll have to do the same with Parliament."
[11:07] <Minaplo> ["Of course."]
[06:35] <Yanmei> It wasn't long at all before they were back in Lucy's fortress, climbing the stairs to her throne room again.
[06:41] <Minaplo> [Checkers Lucy was there, of course, in her leathers and her great fur coat. "So how'd it go?"]
[06:44] <Yanmei> "We have some bad news? Someone killed your friend long before we got there."
[06:51] <Minaplo> ["Sucks. Know who did it?"]
[06:53] <Yanmei> "Only suspicions? They tore up his place pretty badly looking for something, and there weren't any pictures around except for this one." She held it out so that she could see it. "Do you know who these people are?"
[06:55] <Minaplo> [Lucy stepped forward, reaching out to take the photo so she could look closer. "I don't recognise 'em. It looks like they're wearing some kinda funky armour…"]
[06:58] <Yanmei> "They're not from here? They're with the UN. The United Nations. It's this… big important organization that keeps a bunch of different countries in check overseas. They don't treat places that are outside of their organization with a whole lot of respect." -
[07:01] * Yanmei let her have the picture. "They're here, but they're probably trying to stay undetected? I'm betting that's why they killed those Raiders. No witnesses? And if they found out that your Tinkerer guy was developing actual pictures of them doing that…"
[07:05] <Minaplo> ["What do they want?"]
[07:12] * Yanmei shrugged. "They didn't leave clues about that. Spying, scouting for places to invade? They might even be looking for something."
[07:12] <Minaplo> ["Like that meteor-plane thing?"]
[07:13] <Yanmei> "Yeah."
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[07:27] <Minaplo> ["Hmm. And you know about these guys. So you -are- from the outside…"]
[07:30] <Yanmei> "That's right." She didn't shy away from it now that it was in the open. "We've seen what these guys are capable of? So… what do you think you'll do now?"
[07:34] <Minaplo> ["You know how to handle these guys?"]
[07:39] <Yanmei> "I know that handling them is tricky, and that they would have no problem shipping tons more soldiers here if they wanted to. And worse. Giant war weapons, bombs from the sky, total calmity. Like I said, they don't really respect places that are outside of their organization?"
[07:41] <Minaplo> ["Well fuck, I dunno what we do then." Muttered Lucy irritably. "This isn't my fucking department!"]
[07:42] <Yanmei> "What we need to do is talk to Parliament."
[07:45] <Minaplo> ["Parliament, huh. What's your plan?"]
[07:50] <Yanmei> "Still working on it, but… we've gotta do two things. The first is to keep those scouts from calling their buddies, and the second is to prepare for the worst? I mean, the Demons and all the other gangs are good at fighting, but you've never had to deal with an outright invasion before, right?"
[07:53] <Minaplo> ["No, we haven't." Lucy folded her arms.]
[07:55] <Yanmei> "You guys need to organize. Not just the gangs and soldiers who -are- capable of fighting, but everyone else too. Parliament should theoretically be able to do that much."
[07:56] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, I guess you're right."]
[08:02] <Yanmei> "More difficult will be keeping those scouts quiet. I mean, we could do that a number of ways - bribery, taking hostages, killing them, hiding whatever it is they're looking for…"
[08:02] <Minaplo> ["Bribery won't work." Said Isha. "Nor will taking hostages."]
[08:05] <Yanmei> "So that leaves the other two, then, and whatever ideas you or Parliament can come up with."
[08:12] <Minaplo> ["Right then." Lucy nodded firmly. "You, come with me."]
[08:14] * Yanmei nodded back. "Lead the way."
[08:15] <Minaplo> [Lucy led the two of them down the 'fortress', back out into the courtyard, where her own elaborately decorated truck was waiting. "We're going to go meet the Governor."]
[08:17] * Yanmei nodded again. "That Lord guy. Good. I'd heard he hadn't been feeling well lately though?"
[08:21] <Minaplo> ["You hear a lot of things, don't you?" Asked Lucy, jumping into the truck. "Take your own buggy. We'll meet up at the edge of Parliament territory."]
[08:25] <Yanmei> "All right." She turned away, in the direction they'd left their own car. "We'll see you there. Thanks, by the way?"
[08:33] <Minaplo> ["No worries."]
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[09:01] <Yanmei> They drove. -
[09:05] <Yanmei> They passed small groups of Gangers, and Parliament guards not much later. There was an enormous dumping ground that putrified the air around it - Yanmei sped up as they went by, but it didn't seem to help much - and finally there was the Parliament headquarters itself, with a giant message board displayed right in front of it.
[09:07] <Minaplo> [Parliament was a grand old building, elegant and wide and imposing all at once; old crumbling pillars held up its facade, still majestic, still glorious.-
[09:08] <Minaplo> [Parliament banners waved in the air above as Lucy and Yanmei pulled up. Squads of soldiers with good weapons and good armour quickly formed up, but once they saw Lucy they relaxed- a little.-
[09:08] <Minaplo> ["Stay close." Said Lucy grimly.]
[09:09] * Yanmei nodded mutely and loosened the collar of her coat slightly. The temperature outside had suddenly skyrocketed again.
[09:12] <Minaplo> ["We're here to meet Lord Severus." Said Lucy to what appeared to be a sergeant standing by the pillars.-
[09:12] <Minaplo> ["On what purpose?"-
[09:12] <Minaplo> ["Emergency. Urgent."-
[09:13] <Minaplo> [The sergeant stared with bemusement, then nodded, letting them pass.-
[09:16] <Minaplo> [They would, after some walking, be led by a soldier into a huge chamber- dozens of chairs and rotting tables were set up in an ampitheatre formation around a rectangular table in the middle of the room, the legs sinking into mouldering red carpet. At the far end, on a high throne-like chair, was a corpulent, balding man with an elaborate moustache that merged into his sideburns. He was
[09:16] <Minaplo> wearing a leather coat over a brown robe that was stretched to the seams due to his bulk. He looked acutely uncomfortable.-
[09:16] <Minaplo> [He had guards, of course, who sat on either side of his throne.-
[09:17] <Minaplo> ["Hmmmm." The fat Lord Severus had a deep, powerful voice. "The day grows hot, and dangerous news reaches my ears- and Checkers Lucy enters my halls with a stranger on her heels…"]
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[09:21] * Yanmei didn't react at all to the less elegant portions of the room - and that included the speaker's discomfort. "Lord Severus." She salutued primly. "They call me Ying, sir. And this is my associate." She nodded to Isha as if prompting his own introduction.
[09:21] <Yanmei> ^saluted
[09:24] <Minaplo> ["Jai." Said Isha, giving him a short bow.-
[09:24] <Minaplo> ["Ying. Ying…" Lord Severus stared. "Come closer, so that I can see you."]
[09:26] * Yanmei took a few steps closer… staying well outside of arm's reach, of course.
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[09:32] <Minaplo> ["Ying, you said your name was?"]
[09:33] <Yanmei> "Yes." Now she was the one starting to look uncomfortable. "We come with important news. Miss Lucy, if you would show him the picture?"
[09:34] <Minaplo> ["Hold." Said Lord Severus. "Are you sure it's Ying? Not, perhaps, Zhang Yanmei?"]
[09:35] * Yanmei stared at him. "Now where would you hear a name like that?"
[09:35] <Minaplo> ["Where indeed? Perhaps… From the Liberated Nations?"]
[09:38] <Yanmei> "…" She glanced to Isha.
[09:38] <Minaplo> [Isha looked deeply dubious.-
[09:39] <Minaplo> ["Now. I wonder what Evangelion Pilot Zhang Yanmei is doing in my corner of the world." Murmured Severus. He stared at Yanmei with jealous eyes.]
[09:41] <Yanmei> "Warning you of impending UN activity, it seems? My ties with NERV and they UN have recently been severed."
[09:42] <Yanmei> ^the UN
[09:42] <Minaplo> [Lord Severus laughed.-
[09:42] <Minaplo> [And laughed.-
[09:44] <Minaplo> ["Oh, you've gone rogue! How fascinating…" He leaned forward, resting his chin on a pair of hands. "And they're here looking for you. How dangerous. Perhaps I should sell you out."]
[09:53] <Yanmei> She blinked at him in confusion. "And what on earth makes you think I'm the reason why they're here? Haven't you guys had a history with the LN?"
[09:58] <Minaplo> ["We were only ever neutral with the LN! You just said you cut ties! You're here, they appear, of course they're here for you!"]
[10:03] <Yanmei> "Only ever neutral? Please. Look at the weapons your men are carrying. You can't expect anyone to truly believe that, let alone someone as paranoid as the person currently heading the UN?"
[10:03] <Minaplo> ["Humph. Even if they -are- here for us, they'll kill you too!"]
[10:06] <Yanmei> "Maybe. But, with certain exceptions, the people around here have been decent to me." She folded her arms. "I'd rather not die, and I'd rather not see them all get killed either?"
[10:09] <Minaplo> ["Hmm. That is good. I would rather not die either. What's the plan?"]
[10:16] <Yanmei> "Here's what we know. They're trying to keep their presence minimized to the point that seeking them out and communicating with them is a suicide mission. In fact, they recently killed bunch of Raiders and an important Tinkerer just to shut them up." -
[10:19] <Yanmei> "It makes it incredibly hard to tell what they know or what they've reported since they've been here. It -may- already be too late to stop additional troops from coming in. Since we don't know for sure, one of our main tasks should be bracing the populace for the worst case scenario while trying to shut down the troops already here."
[10:28] <Minaplo> ["Go on. What do you intend?"]
[10:35] <Yanmei> "For the populace, fortification and organization. You need better protection for the people who toil to produce food and goods. You can't survive a war with just warriors? You need guns, food, water, -civilians-." -
[10:38] <Minaplo> ["You want me to arm civilians."]
[10:39] <Yanmei> "I want you to protect them."
[10:40] <Minaplo> ["How?!"]
[10:43] <Yanmei> "Aren't you Parliament? You can put pressure on the gangs to stop fighting for a few days, but you can't tell them to stop treating Runners like shit? Next to the UN, that's the biggest danger to them, isn't it?"
[10:44] <Minaplo> ["Parliament is powerful, true." Said Severus slowly. "But we don't have the power to fight all the gangs, or make them do what we want to such a degree…"]
[10:47] <Yanmei> "… how well do you think arming them will really work? I mean, it might help a little? But I can't imagine that everyone's going to know how to use a gun or a knife properly, especially compared to a well-trained soldier. What about bunkers? Safe areas they can go to to hide from Gangers or UN soldiers?"
[10:49] <Minaplo> ["There are some. Not many." Admitted Severus.-
[10:50] <Minaplo> ["H-Hold it!" Lucy marched down the middle thoroughfare. "You want to take our Runners away? You bitch!"]
[10:56] <Yanmei> "Then sell me an alternative idea. How do we keep non-combatants safe during a large-scale invasion?"
[10:58] <Minaplo> ["Fuck them! Give them guns, if they kill at least one UN goon then that's something."]
[11:07] * Yanmei frowned. For a moment or two she was quiet, thinking. "We'll give them guns," she said at last. "For protection."
[11:18] <Minaplo> ["We can hole them up in bunkers." Muttered Severus. "The gangers can hit and run the UN, and we'll let the attacks fall against the most fortified points…"]
[11:22] * Yanmei kept her face carefully neutral. The man sounded almost experienced with this sort of thing. "As for the ones that are already here?"
[11:22] <Minaplo> ["You can kill them."]
[11:25] <Yanmei> "Target the Commanding officer first. He'll most likely be the one who can get in touch with their headquarters the easiest?"
[11:26] <Minaplo> ["-You-." Said Severus, pointing at Yanmei.]
[11:28] <Yanmei> "Eh?" Yanmei stared at him. "What is this, a test of loyalty?"
[11:29] <Minaplo> ["That's right." Said Severus, sneering. "There's no actual guarantee that you're not in some sort of elaborate ploy to weaken us or stir up trouble. You'd like that, wouldn't you, little UN slut, hm? Oh yes, arm the…"-
[11:29] <Minaplo> ["Arm…"-
[11:29] <Minaplo> [Severus's eyes were glazed over, and Yanmei would notice that his face was red and sweaty. It was like he was having trouble breathing.-
[11:29] <Minaplo> ["The… Them, yes. Go kill them." He mumbled, weakly.]
[11:34] * Yanmei wasn't too inclined to ask after his health after that 'UN slut' remark. "Fine. I'll just do that, then."
[11:41] <Minaplo> ["Good. I am… Tired…"-
[11:41] <Minaplo> ["TOMORROW!" Severus surged forward suddenly. "T… Tomorrow. Come back tomorrow… We will eat dinner, and I will summon the gang leaders to discuss. Bring the head of the UN commander and you will be rewarded…"]
[11:43] <Yanmei> "…?" Now Yanmei raised her eyebrows. "You're giving me a single day to find and kill them?"
[11:43] <Minaplo> ["Yes. Must act quickly, soldier!" Now his tone was brisk and leader-like, and it made Yanmei instinctively think of Dorian.
[11:43] <Minaplo> ]
[11:47] <Yanmei> She hesitated. Then she wrapped a certain serene politeness around herself like a cloak. "I'll see what I can do, Lord Governor. We'll leave you to rest now?"
[11:49] <Minaplo> ["Rest. Yes…" Severus leaned back into his chair, his face sweaty and pale. He beckoned to a soldier nearby, a tall, thin, cunning-looking man. The soldier approached.-
[11:49] <Minaplo> ["Bring… Me my dinner, Albus. I am hungry."-
[11:49] <Minaplo> ["Yes, my lord."]
[11:51] * Yanmei gave another quick salute, and then made her retreat for the doors.
[11:51] <Minaplo> [Lucy stamped off after Yanmei. "Hey. Oi, you! Do you really mean all that bullshit about gangers and runners?"]
[11:56] <Yanmei> "Please calm down?" She turned back to face her there in the hallway. "What I was serious about was needing -everyone- to help. Runners, Orphans and Tinkerers included? But how are they supposed to help if Gangers keep picking them off? It doesn't make sense."
[12:02] <Minaplo> ["It's not like we're -that- rough on the Runners…"]
[12:07] <Yanmei> "The second day we were here, we were attacked by the Tigers repeatedly for no reason. I was nearly crushed by a car, and I'm pretty sure Mr. Jai here ate a few bullets. Two days ago I saw a group of Saints go after Runners with flamethrowers. Flamethrowers!"
[12:10] <Minaplo> ["Those were our Runners, of course!"]
[12:17] <Yanmei> "From what I've been told, they still probably would have gotten killed even if they hadn't been." Yanmei exhaled sharply. "Look, I'm still just a newcomer here? But it doesn't look good to me. And when you throw in all this talk about Liberators then it just looks even worse."
[08:26] <Minaplo> ["What would -you- do then, big-brained outsider?"]
[08:33] <Yanmei> "If I were in your shoes? Easy. Start handing out punishments for treating them too harshly. It'd be most effective if the other gangs did it too, even if it'd be like pulling teeth to start with."
[08:43] <Minaplo> [Lucy folded her arms and gave Yanmei a dubious look. "It's not like I let my Demons beat on my own Runners freely! Those Runners work for us, and we give them protection in return."]
[08:45] <Yanmei> "Alright. So what about the ones who aren't yours?"
[08:50] <Minaplo> ["They serve our enemies." She scowled. "They're fair game. They deserve a good beating."]
[08:51] <Yanmei> "And Orphans?"
[08:53] <Minaplo> ["Parasites."]
[08:54] * Yanmei blinked. "Howso?"
[09:00] <Minaplo> ["They run about, they take stuff, they don't give it to anyone, they just hoard it for themselves."]
[09:02] <Yanmei> "Aren't they just trying to survive, like everyone else around here?"
[09:03] <Minaplo> ["And? If they wanted to survive they'd work for us instead of taking our stuff."]
[09:07] <Yanmei> "That's not even fair?" Yanmei scowled. "What makes the stuff they scavange automatically yours? If it's unclaimed, it's unclaimed."
[09:09] <Minaplo> ["Because Runners shouldn't -own- stuff! Especially not Orphans!"]
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[09:14] <Yanmei> "But why not? Why can't they?"
[09:15] <Minaplo> ["What, if we were to say, 'Oh, ok, you runners can choose to work for us, or you can choose to not'… What do you think they'd do?"]
[09:22] <Yanmei> "Oho~ So in other words, you and your men depend on them a lot more than they depend on you."
[09:31] <Minaplo> ["So? We have the guns."]
[09:33] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei paused, apparently trying to think of a way around that… and not getting terribly far. "So you do," she admitted.
[09:34] <Minaplo> ["Now." Lucy sighed. "I'm going to pretend I didn't hear you being naive and stupid, so you can go off and kill those UN-ers or whatever and we can put this behind us."]
[09:38] <Yanmei> If it ruffled her, she knew better than to start complaining about it. "Fine, fine," she muttered. "I respect you, and you helped us out a lot today, so again, thanks."
[09:39] <Minaplo> [Lucy nodded. "You'll learn the city soon enough. Until then- seeya."]
[09:41] <Yanmei> "Later." She nodded her goodbyes before turning away to Isha, who was presumably nearby, listening.
[10:27] <Yanmei> They were back in the car before long. A warm rain started up on the way to the Tinkerer's house, dousing them and forcing them to slow the car a little. "That could have gone better, probably."
[10:30] <Minaplo> ["Probably." Isha said quietly, glowering at the rain. "Lord Severus is worrisome…"]
[10:32] <Yanmei> "This is probably his roundabout way of getting rid of us? If we fail and die, he doesn't have to worry about us. If we win, he stops having to worry about the Stormtroopers for a while."
[10:33] <Minaplo> ["A clever ploy, considering that the good Lord Governor seems to be both paranoid and sick."]
[10:34] <Yanmei> "We can't trust him. There's something wrong with him."
[10:35] <Minaplo> ["Absolutely. I can think of three things that could be wrong with him immediately, with associated reasons why it's bad for us."]
[10:35] <Yanmei> "Oh?" They were drawing close to the house now. Yanmei slowed further and parked.
[10:37] <Minaplo> ["The first is that after all this time trying to keep Melbourne under control, keeping alive, so on and so forth, the Lord Severus has started to crack from the strain." Said Isha, hopping out of the car and swatting at a mosquito. "That's bad for us, because a weak Governor means powerful Gangs."]
[10:38] <Yanmei> "That wouldn't surprise me at all with the way things are now?" Yanmei followed him.
[10:40] <Minaplo> ["The second is that Lord Severus is acting, and he's doing it to coax his enemies into making overt actions so he can crush them. It also makes people uneasy, as they'll try to do anything to appease a supposed madman. This is bad for us because we don't know if he thinks we're an enemy or not."]
[10:45] <Yanmei> "There's no way he wouldn't think that, given what he knows. I'd be pretty suspicious of us too?"
[10:46] <Minaplo> ["Indeed." Said Isha, nodding.-
[10:46] <Minaplo> ["The third is that Lord Severus is being poisoned by his own staff. This is bad for us because the last thing we need right now is a power struggle inside Parliament."]
[10:49] <Yanmei> "We can't tell one way or another on that one." Yanmei slowly began to circle the house.
[10:51] <Minaplo> ["True. Yet despite this it's obvious that Lord Severus is quite capable of being cunning when he likes."]
[10:53] <Yanmei> "Maybe he really will end up handing us over if things get rough." Yanmei stopped short. She knelt, brushing a little clutter aside on the ground.
[10:54] <Minaplo> ["I wouldn't doubt it."-
[10:55] <Minaplo> [Yanmei was lucky- the Tinkerer's house had a yard, with grass and dirt- turning to mud, now. If they'd waited longer they probably would've missed the deep boot-print in the soil here- in fact, a trail of footprints, leading to the north…]
[10:56] <Yanmei> "I wish we'd seen this before," Yanmei muttered to herself, standing and brushing off her pants. "How are you feeling?"
[10:57] <Minaplo> ["Tired and flea-bitten." Isha walked over, staring down at the prints. "These -do- look like Trooper prints though."]
[10:58] <Yanmei> "I'm worried we'll lose them in this rain? But I'm feeling the same way. Tired." She frowned. "We can't face them like this and hope to win."
[10:59] <Minaplo> ["A squad of Storm Troopers is not to be underestimated. We'll just have to hope to pick up the trail later- at least we have some idea of where they are."]
[11:01] <Yanmei> "Yeah, you're right." It wasn't a Paris apartment, but the thought of their little shanty and Isaiah's leftover meals suddenly filled her with a sense of yearning. She turned to go. "Let's try to recover?"

* * * *

Day 7

[00:14] <Yanmei> It was still drizzling when they strapped on their best weapons and hopped into one of their shabbily-armored cars. -
[00:17] <Yanmei> Yanmei kissed Isaiah and Lizzie goodbye first, adjusting one of the thick rain-resistant blankets a little more firmly around the latter. "We'll be back soon?" she said, and pulled the hood of her cloak over her own head before splashing after Isha and Hermione.
[00:22] * ZackAFK is now known as Zack
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[00:36] <Minaplo> [Isha was silent, idling behind the gun turret, whilst Harmione sat peacefully in the passenger seat.]
[00:40] * Yanmei climbed into the driver's seat. She turned the ignition and started off. Slowly. "This damn weather. Is it always this insane here?"
[00:44] <Minaplo> ["Of course." Said Hermione.-
[00:45] <Minaplo> ["We're very close to the Sea of Darkness." Murmured Isha. "It's to be expected."]
[00:51] <Yanmei> "Hm. I guess we would be pretty close?" She let the seconds tick by for a while, listening to the rain. "Miss Hermione?"
[00:51] <Minaplo> ["Hm?"]
[00:52] <Yanmei> "Did you ever belong to any of the gangs around here?"
[00:53] <Minaplo> ["Me? Nah."]
[00:55] <Yanmei> "Why not? You're such a good fighter that they must have tried to recruit you at some point?"
[01:05] <Minaplo> ["Oh, they know better than that."]
[01:12] <Yanmei> "Really not that much of a fan of them, huh?" She grinned faintly. "Hardly alone. Like the Avenger, for example?"
[01:14] <Minaplo> ["I just don't have time for 'em. Puffed up rats.']
[01:20] * Yanmei chuckled. "Fair enough? Wish I'd been able to get to the arena before now to see what it's about."
[01:23] <Minaplo> ["It's an arena. People fight and die in it."]
[01:24] <Yanmei> Die? Of course they would die. She sobered a little. "There has to be an easier way to make a living? Or a name."
[01:26] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, probably."]
[01:29] <Yanmei> "…about the weapons you're looking for. You're just going to sell them, right? If they're guns, it's not like you can use them in there?"
[01:30] <Minaplo> ["You mean this cache?"]
[01:30] <Yanmei> "Yeah."
[01:30] <Minaplo> ["Heck, I dunno. There could be tons of stuff in there besides weapons, but selling them on sounds good… Unless you had some other idea?"]
[01:35] <Yanmei> "With my half, I was planning to be kinda selective with who I was trading it away to? Like excluding the gangers unless hard pressed, you know?"
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[01:38] <Minaplo> ["Really? Why?"]
[01:40] <Yanmei> "The people who need them most are the little guys who get stepped on, don't you think?"
[01:41] <Minaplo> ["That's a pretty dangerous idea."]
[01:41] * Yanmei blinked. "…is it?"
[01:41] <Minaplo> ["The Gangers'll shoot you for that, you know."]
[01:45] <Yanmei> "Like they wouldn't shoot me regardless? What's stopping them from attacking us and taking all that stuff for themselves?" she muttered.
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[01:55] <Minaplo> ["Nothing, really." Said Hermione, shrugging. "But it's not like just giving the guns to Runners as-is will work. I mean, any individual Runner'll just be killed by a Ganger, and worst of all you'll have Runners fighting each other…"]
[01:56] <Yanmei> "They'd need training. Unification," she agreed glumly. "Yeah, I know."
[01:57] * Zack is now known as ZackSleep
[02:01] <Minaplo> ["And the Gangers'd be fighting 'em every step of the way."]
[02:01] <Yanmei> "Of course they would. They depend on the Runners, right?"
[02:05] <Minaplo> ["Right."]
[02:07] <Yanmei> "So this 'Ying the Liberator' stuff that's been floating around. You haven't been taken in by it at all, have you?"
[02:10] <Minaplo> ["What do you mean?"]
[02:12] <Yanmei> "Like, do you think it's impossible to free the Runners? For that matter, how bad do you think the current system is?"
[02:14] <Minaplo> ["I don't think it's impossible. Hard, sure. Not impossible." She idly toyed with a bracelet around her right arm. "And the current system… Well, it's not giving the Runners a fair go, is it?"]
[02:15] <Yanmei> "It's really not? Is it weird to want to change things?"
[02:16] <Minaplo> ["No, I don't think so."}
[02:19] <Yanmei> "What are we even talking about now?" Yanmei stared ahead at the rainy road and sighed. "We haven't even found any caches yet? And we still have to get through today, first of all. Thanks again for the help."
[13:36] <Minaplo> ["No worries." Hermione crossed one leg over the other. "So where're we goin' today?"]
[13:38] <Yanmei> "You know the Governor of this place? That Severus guy?"
[13:43] <Minaplo> ["What, my dad?"]
[13:45] <Yanmei> "Your… your what?!"
[13:49] <Minaplo> ["What, you didn't know?"]
[13:52] <Yanmei> "Of course not! Why didn't you say anything?" She had a deathgrip on the steering wheel now. She should stop and let her out? If he was her father, then he wouldn't hardly approve of her getting caught up in this. Then again, he -was- weird.
[13:54] <Yanmei> ^would hardly
[13:56] <Minaplo> ["I thought you knew! Geez." Hermione huffed, putting her feet up on the dashboard. "Everyone knows about it. Look, there goes Hermione Severus, she was tossed out of Parliament window by her loony dad who'd crucify her if he saw her again."]
[13:59] <Yanmei> "So that's how things are between you?" Her grip loosened a little.
[14:00] <Minaplo> ["Yep."]
[14:02] <Yanmei> "What happened, exactly?"
[14:03] <Minaplo> ["You want the whole story?"]
[14:03] <Yanmei> "If you don't mind telling it."
[14:06] <Minaplo> ["Well, it was about six years ago. Here I was, back from a hunt, minding my own business and he rumbles up accusing me of fuckin' one of his officers."]
[14:07] <Yanmei> "What, seriously? Just out of the blue?"
[14:08] <Minaplo> ["Of course!"-
[14:08] <Minaplo> ["Well, to be fair, he was right, but still."]
[14:11] * Yanmei coughed lightly. "I see? But, that's actually a little more normal than I was thinking. He doesn't seem quite… right."
[14:11] <Minaplo> ["I should have you know that he threw me out a window." Muttered Hermione. "The officer I was sleeping with? He had him crucified."]
[14:13] <Yanmei> "…you weren't exaggerating, then." To her credit, she managed to keep her voice even.
[14:15] <Minaplo> ["Was he always so mercurial?" Asked Isha.-
[14:16] <Minaplo> ["That's a polite way of sayin' that he's off his fuckin' rocker." Said Hermione. "No, of course not…"]
[14:18] <Yanmei> "Maybe it's just the stress of being in charge of Melbourne."
[14:18] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, right. He's being fucked with. His right hand man is gettin' tired of being just the XO, he wants the throne."]
[14:20] <Yanmei> "Really." She raised her eyebrows high. "Maybe it was good for you to get out of there after all."
[14:21] <Minaplo> ["Not so good for dear Papa. Now I couldn't give a fuck if he died."]
[14:24] <Yanmei> "Sorry. You're probably not going to be too happy that we're doing a favor for him, then?"
[14:25] <Minaplo> ["That depends on what you're doin'."]
[14:27] <Yanmei> "There are these outsiders that have shown up here. Dangerous highly-trained soldiers. He wants us to get rid of them before they call more troops in." She frowned a little. "In all honesty? We're doing more than just helping him. It could be bad for everyone, including us."
[14:28] <Minaplo> ["I thought so." Hermione shrugged. "Sounds good to me."]
[14:30] <Yanmei> "I brought an extra gasmask for you. Try to keep your face covered during the fight? If we screw up, they'll try to target us later."
[14:32] <Minaplo> ["Oh, fuck it. I don't need a gas mask."]
[14:35] <Yanmei> "You need it. You're practically a celebrity in this city? Look, these guys are -deadly-."
[14:36] <Minaplo> ["Shan't." Hermione put her hand into her coat and took out her own mask. It was the Avenger's mask.]
[14:38] * Yanmei gaped. For a minute she forgot about where she was steering, but a slight jerk from the vehicle snapped her back to reality. "You!"
[14:41] <Minaplo> ["What?"]
[14:42] <Yanmei> "You didn't mention anything about -that- either! Don't tell me it's another well-known secret…"
[14:43] <Minaplo> ["No, no one knows about this. I'm showing this to you because I trust you… And thought you'd suspected it by now!"]
[14:44] <Yanmei> "I… well, of course I did!" she puffed up slightly. "I was just keeping quiet about it out of respect?"
[14:45] <Minaplo> ["So was I." Muttered Isha sheepishly.-
[14:45] <Minaplo> ["You're both full of shit. The look on your face!" Said Hermione, laughing.]
[14:51] * Yanmei huffed. "Whatever. At least you have a good eye for trustworthy people~ We won't tell anyone."
[14:51] <Minaplo> ["Of course not. I poisoned your water canteens and only I have the antidote."]
[14:53] <Yanmei> "Liar," Yanmei smirked. "You wouldn't attack a bunch of innocent Runners."
[14:53] <Minaplo> ["You're hardly innocent. And you're barely Runners…"]
[14:54] <Yanmei> "Sure we are. By virtue of process of elimination? If we're not with anyone, we must be Orphans."
[14:55] <Minaplo> ["Or outsiders…"]
[14:55] <Yanmei> "Well, I guess it's hardly a secret."
[14:57] <Minaplo> ["With your weapons? Those aren't anything that you can find in this city."]
[15:00] <Yanmei> "No, I guess they aren't." Yanmei drummed her fingers on the wheel. "We also haven't had the easiest time blending in beyond that?"
[15:00] <Minaplo> ["With your weird hair…"]
[15:01] <Yanmei> "I-it's not weird!" She would have tossed her hair, but it was hidden beneath the hood of her cloak for now.
[15:01] <Minaplo> ["Sure is."-
[15:02] <Minaplo> ["Most of our troubles have come from the conflicts we keep running into." Murmured Isha.]
[15:06] <Yanmei> "That's right. The Tigers, and now this. I guess if we were more familiar with this land, we would have known how to avoid it all?"
[15:07] <Minaplo> ["Or maybe you just attract trouble."]
[15:08] <Yanmei> "Who, us?" Yanmei flashed a rather disarming smile.
[15:08] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, you definitely attract trouble. So." Hermione secured the mask onto her face. "What's the battleplan?"]
[15:11] <Yanmei> "First we have to track them down? Then we have to sneak up on them. Priority should be attacking the one in command of all of them. We'll ditch the car in another mile or two and go the rest of the way on foot to avoid detection."
[15:41] <Minaplo> ["What do these chumps look like?"]
[15:44] <Yanmei> "They're covered from head to toe in this white, sleek armor. Wish I could say how many there are? Probably quite a few."
[15:45] <Yanmei> ^yellow, sleek armor
[15:47] <Minaplo> ["I would estimate between five and ten." Said Isha.]
[15:49] <Yanmei> "Either way, we're way outnumbered? And they'll be heavily armed with weapons that are probably superior to ours. Hence the stealth."
[15:52] <Minaplo> ["I see. Any weaknesses we should know about?"-
[15:52] <Minaplo> ["They are trained for shooting." Said Isha. "In close combat, they're less effective."]
[15:56] * Yanmei shifted a little, feeling the light weight of her Surovite blade in her pocket. She didn't feel all that reassured. Eventually, before they reached the Tinkerer's house, she began to pull over.
[15:58] <Minaplo> ["Alright. Stopping here, then?"]
[15:59] <Yanmei> "Yeah. Let's hurry to the scene of their last sighting?" Yanmei climbed out and pulled her gas mask on.
[07:42] <Yanmei> There were things that they had overlooked the first time they had come here. A few delicious animals milled around the clearing, and inside the house there was a perfectly functioning gun and a box of ammo to go along with it. -
[07:48] <Yanmei> With their new supplies, they set off again to the north, this time on foot. They passed a crumbly but elegant-looking building with shelves of books beyond the dusty windows. There was more. Another crime scene only slightly further along, with discarded shells and bodies and burn marks on the surrounding buildings.
[08:22] <Minaplo> [Before long, however, their eyes would be drawn to the ominous plume of smoke now dominating the northern sky.]
[08:23] * Yanmei stared and then nodded grimly. She went onward, slipping from cover to cover, gripping her Surovite blade.
[08:28] <Minaplo> [They'd find a truck, the blue flags of Carlton blowing limply in the wind. The truck was gutted, burning, completely destroyed. Bodies littered the area- armoured, dead Blues.-
[08:29] <Minaplo> [And of course Yanmei would find those ominous footprints, leading north…]
[08:56] <Yanmei> They hurried after that, one street after another. Before long there was gunfire, and they hurried faster. Soon, they would find their target.
[09:13] <Minaplo> [And eventually, they'd find them- ten Storm Troopers marching in formation, a dangerous and heavily-armed AC Suit leading them.-
[09:13] <Minaplo> ["There's more of them than I'd hoped." Murmured Isha.]
[09:15] <Yanmei> "Yeah," Yanmei muttered. She had ducked down along with him and was eying the big AC suit worriedly. "Melee combat huh?"
[09:16] <Minaplo> ["That is the hope, yes." Isha pulled out his carbine. "I'll move up the right and try to pin them."]
[09:34] <Yanmei> "Right. And of course, we'll do the legwork up close?" She eyed Hermione with a faint grin. "Try not to fall behind~"
[09:36] <Minaplo> ["Hah."-
[09:37] <Minaplo> [And so Isha moved up, turning a corner and firing wildly with his carbine. The neat marching line broke ranks immediately, some diving to the ground, others clearly confused. Hermione rushed out at this, wearing her mask- and instantly slew two of the soldiers.]
[09:46] * Yanmei scrambled out from behind the cover as well, tearing into one of the Troopers with a yell. She struck at a second, but only managed to wound him.
[09:50] <Minaplo> [And before long he was finished off by the Avenger's fury- who also managed to wound another. "Finish that one!"]
[09:54] <Yanmei> "I know!" And she did just that, slipping around the Avenger smoothly and lashing out fast. Her subsequent blows failed to take out a second soldier, but by then they were already starting to move away.
[10:06] <Minaplo> [But the sound of a rotary engine would catch Yanmei's ear, as suddenly the air became full of rapid-firing pulse bolts! The AC Suit was attacking!]
[10:15] * Yanmei‘ let out a faint squeak, but none of the bullets hit her. She dashed after the fleeing troopers and brought another down quickly. In the corner of her vision, she could see Hermione doing the same, dashing off after another group of them.
[10:17] <Minaplo> [And then a desperate trooper would drop his rifle, lunging for Yanmei’s throat!]
[10:21] <Yanmei‘> She slipped under his arm and plunged her sword into his side. When she withdrew it and backed away, he slumped over. She sucked in a deep breath, and eyed the large AC suit, getting ready to charge it too!
[10:21] <Minaplo> [And it stared her down like a wild west gunslinger. Those cannons fired at her…-
[10:22] <Minaplo> [But as Yanmei dodged to the side, she’d notice a Storm trooper aiming at her with his rifle. She didn't have time to react as the burning plasma ripped through her coat and burned into her chest.]
[10:24] * Yanmei‘ let out a strangled yell! She was still on her feet and breathing, however, even if she was off balance and bleeding badly. Half blind from the pain, she dashed at the AC suit and sliced at it deperately!
[10:27] <Minaplo> [But that armour was thick…-
[10:27] <Minaplo> [Isha joined her in a second, digging his lance into the Suit’s leg.]
[10:36] * Yanmei‘ dug in, refusing to give up, even though her blade wasn’t making much progress at all. She slashed and slashed…
[10:41] <Minaplo> [… But Hermione leapt into the fray now, clambering up the Suit's side. She jammed her knife into the gap between the head and torso. Once! Twice! Three times!-
[10:41] <Minaplo> [… And finally her knife came back bloody. The suit ground to a halt.]
[10:43] <Yanmei‘> "…" Yanmei still stood ready, tense. Was it really over? She pulled one of her pistols and trained it on where the cockpit would have been. "Can you open it and see if you can pilot it?" she said to Isha. "We’ll cover you?"
[10:50] <Minaplo> ["Right." Isha stepped forward and entered a code into a minute keypad beneath the chassis. The cockpit shuddered open.-
[10:50] <Minaplo> [The pilot- a Junior Magistrate, wearing white armour that terminated in a coat- had been stabbed through the forehead. He fell out onto the ground, clearly head, his helm rent in two.-
[10:51] <Minaplo> [Isha, melancholy at the sight, slowly lowered himself into the cockpit and sealed it up. "…"-
[10:51] <Minaplo> ["Hmm."]
[10:51] <Minaplo> <Clearly dead*, shut up Syntax :|>
[10:54] <Yanmei‘> "How does it look?" Yanmei had avoided commenting on the dead Magistrate. Now she gazed up at the suit with hopeful eyes.
[10:56] <Minaplo> ["Communications systems working, weapons online… Ah! We’re lucky. The self-repair system is still operational!"]
[11:02] <Yanmei‘> "Good." Yanmei nodded. "We’ll leave you to do your thing while it's repairing. Hopefully it won't take too long? Avenger, you and I will search the bodies for equipment we can take with us in the meantime?"
[11:05] <Minaplo> ["Right."-
[11:16] <Minaplo> [And so before long, some of the most high-tech weapons the world had ever seen were now lying in a rough pile. It was a good hoard.-
[11:17] <Minaplo> ["Alright. Long range communications active, we have coverage all the way to Juneau-2." Said Isha.-
[11:17] <Minaplo> ["… Ah. Ok, High Command wants a word. This might be awkward."]
[11:18] <Yanmei‘> "…" That worried feeling clawed its way back into her. "What happens if we just ignore their request to talk?"
[11:19] <Minaplo> ["Bad things. Shhh."-
[11:19] <Minaplo> ["This is Junior Magistrate-"-
[11:19] <Minaplo> [Hermione peeled the helmet back off the dead pilot, revealing a woman’s face.-
[11:20] <Minaplo> ["Uhh, Junior Magistrate Susan McArthur reporting!" Said Isha, his voice raising an octave.-
[11:20] <Minaplo> ["… Battle damage! Local dissidents, more heavily armoured than we thought."-
[11:20] <Minaplo> ["They uh… They had a tank. Direct hit."-
[11:20] <Minaplo> ["The hit destroyed my cameras."-
[11:21] <Minaplo> ["Hit the self-repair system too."-
[11:21] <Minaplo> ["Local military remnants, sir."-
[11:21] <Minaplo> ["Oh, you want my authorization code?"-
[11:23] <Minaplo> ["Alpine-Six-Nine-Six-Two-Five-Three-Postal-Two-Eight-Six-Six-Eight-Four-Mythic-One-One-Zero-Four-Three-Three-Limit."-
[11:23] <Minaplo> ["Sorry, sir, cannot repeat, am breaking up. Skrrrshshzrrrsh. Skrrrrrrrshshghrrrsh."-
[11:23] <Minaplo> ["… Ok, we lost them."]
[11:23] <Minaplo> ["I think."]
[11:25] * Yanmei‘ exhaled. Using the communications system was more dangerous than she’d thought! She peered down at the pilot. "Your dad said he wanted the commanders head. What are the chances he meant that literally?"
[11:25] <Minaplo> ["100%."]
[11:31] <Yanmei‘> "Uuughhh." Yanmei grimaced. That crazy old fuck! "You know what? No. We’ll take the entire body with us. It should be easy enough to carry with that suit?" And slightly less gross. Although not by much. "We don't have long until nightfall. If we want to stop by his place on the way home, we'd better leave as soon as we can. Mr. Jai, can you mess around with the comms some more and walk at the same time in that thing?"
[11:32] <Minaplo> ["I can -fly- in this thing."]
[11:34] <Yanmei‘> "Oh. Well. We’ll meet you by Parliament's HQ, then? Don't go charging into view too close until we catch up, okay?"
[11:35] <Minaplo> ["I'll escort you back to the car first, help you load all this away."]
[11:42] * Yanmei‘ nodded, hefting up part of the load herself. With the others, she began the long walk back to the car.
[12:00] <Yanmei`> A while later - a little over an hour in fact - the sun began to set on the city of Melbourne. -
[12:02] <Yanmei`> For once, the sky was clear and the temperature moderate, but there was no chance for the sentries standing in front of the State Parliament Building to enjoy it. They were expecting guests, and the tension among them had been ramped up tightly. -
[12:05] <Yanmei`> One of them paused on his way to relieve one of the others at the front gates, regretfully grinding a half-smoked cigarette into the ground. -
[12:08] <Yanmei`> He took in a deep breath and looked up. The gate was in plain view just up ahead and… he frowned, squinting at something beyond it. A speck in the sky that was growing larger. And larger. And then the gate itself was partially obscured by flying dust and hard winds as it swooped in close and landed. -
[12:12] <Yanmei`> There was someone latched onto one of its massive mechancal shoulders, her feet braced against a bent forearm, a ragged furred cloak flapping wildly around her. The wind had pushed her hood back, briefly showing a flash of vivid violet before she caught it and pulled it back up again. -
[12:14] <Yanmei`> "Mission Complete!" She pointed to one of the unfortunate fellows still on duty. "Call your Lord Govorner! We’ve some things to discuss?"
[12:19] <Minaplo> ["… W-W-W-W-What-"-
[12:19] <Minaplo> ["She has a walking tank!"-
[12:19] <Minaplo> ["Kill it! Kill it with all the guns!"-
[12:20] <Minaplo> ["Keep your heads, fools!" Snapped a cold voice. The severe-eyed Albus was standing on the top step, his hands clasped firmly behind his back. "You, go tell the Governor to come."-
[12:20] <Minaplo> ["Uh…"-
[12:20] <Minaplo> ["Do it!"-
[12:20] <Minaplo> [And so ten minutes later, Yanmei would be greeted to a horrible sight.-
[12:22] <Minaplo> [Six shirtless soldiers, grunting and straining as they bore on their shoulders a richly-decorated palanquin. On a mahogany throne lounged Lord Governor Severus.-
[12:22] <Minaplo> [He stared at Yanmei and the AC Suit for a moment, his eyes popping madly.-
[12:22] <Minaplo> ["What is this, harlot?"]
[12:26] <Yanmei‘> "Ying," she corrected calmly. "This is one of the weapons the UN soldiers had with them. They were going on a rampage in Blue territory with it, and were pretty easy to find? Oh." She gestured to the body that Isha’s new battlemech had been carrying with its other arm. -
[12:26] <Yanmei‘> "We brought what you wanted, too."
[12:26] * Raphael has quit IRC (Quit: )
[12:34] <Minaplo> [Isha obligingly tossed the body to the ground.-
[12:34] <Minaplo> [There was silence.-
[12:34] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[12:34] <Minaplo> ["You’re just in time for dinner." Said Severus gregariously.]
[12:41] <Yanmei‘> "Thank you very much for your hospitality," said Yanmei politely. "Is there room for my associate to come too?"
[12:42] <Minaplo> ["Your walking battletank will have to stand with the rest of the armed groups." Said Severus curtly. "If I bring your… Thing in, the other leaders will want -their- people in, and suddenly what is supposed to be a sophisticated dinner becomes a rabble between dozens of unwashed brutes."-
[12:42] <Minaplo> [In an undertone he mumbled "Barbarians, slimeballs, should crucify them all and make their slaves swear fealty, yes, Lord Severus is merciful to those he liberates but those who betray him-"-
[12:42] <Minaplo> ["HE KILLS! HE KILLS!"-
[12:42] <Minaplo> ["We’re having roast pork, please, come this way."]
[12:45] * Yanmei‘ pursed her lips together. It was outbursts like that one that made the battletank seem necessary in the first place. -
[12:47] <Yanmei`> "I promise I won’t be long," she said to Isha as she climbed down from the AC suit's arm. "Please try to bear the wait?"
[12:49] <Minaplo> ["I'll try to get in touch with some friends." Said Isha.-
[12:50] <Minaplo> [And so she was escorted into the dining room, which was obviously an elegant and attractive room… Or had been once. It was still elegant but it was in decay.-
[12:51] <Minaplo> [A long wooden table ran down the middle. Around this table were many seats- easily about forty- but only six were in use. Six people, wearing gang colours.-
[12:51] <Minaplo> [There was Lucy, who smirked as Yanmei entered and waved a little.-
[12:53] <Minaplo> [Next to Lucy was a tall, tanned man with short black hair drawn into a topknot, an eyepatch over his left eye, and a pointy little goatee. He gave Yanmei a toothy grin which was anything but friendly. He was well-clothed, but his clothes bore the tiger emblem.-
[12:53] <Minaplo> [So this was Captain Blood…-
[12:54] <Minaplo> [Next to Blood was a man wearing shades and smoking a cigarette. He glanced at Yanmei and grinned, but his grin truly was friendly. He wore a shabby black coat, a pair of pistols and a bandoleer of grenades visible over a Bombers emblem. Mosquito Reynolds.-
[12:55] <Minaplo> [These three were seated along the very left edge of the table, taking the three chairs closest to the corner. Directly opposite them were the other gang leaders.-
[12:56] <Minaplo> [A thin, pale man with a full head of raven-black hair stared at her, his eyes lighting up with hunger. He licked his lips. He was fidgetting, tapping a gold coin against the edge of the table. A magpie emblem sat on his chest- Bald Eddie…-
[12:57] <Minaplo> [To Bald Eddie's left was a masked figure, sitting stock-still. The figure's mask was ominous, grim, half slasher mask, half helmet. They wore heavy leathers wrapped around themselves. This must've been Saint Luna, the St. Kilda head.-
[13:01] <Minaplo> [And finally to Luna's left was a tall, aristocratic fellow with blond blonde hair and a gorgeous, statuesque face. He was easily the most well-dressed of them, wearing silver-blue clothes under an impressive cape. The Blue Prince, then.-
[13:02] <Minaplo> [Severus himself was lowered into a throne at the very head of the table, sighing as he did so. "Sit."]
[13:03] * Yanmei‘ did so, primly, exchanging polite nods with most. The people who actually seemed to like her here were rather outnumbered.
[13:10] <Minaplo> ["So." Severus settled into his chair. "Tell us of… Events." He said, waving a hand at Yanmei.]
[13:16] <Yanmei`> "There’s very little to tell. For those of you who don't know, a group of military outsiders recently slaughtered a bunch of Demon raiders not far from here. Someone used a camera to catch an image of who it was, and it was sent to a well-known Tinkerer to develop it. Said Tinkerer was killed shortly after." -
[13:19] <Yanmei‘> "At the Lord Governor’s charming request, two allies and I tracked them to an area far north of the Tinkerer's murder scene and then eliminated them. It seems as if those soldiers killed a lot of people on the way. They left quite a path of destruction behind them?"
[13:24] <Minaplo> ["Yes, I was given reports by my men." Said the Blue Prince, resting his exquisite chin on his hand as he peered at Yanmei with startlingly blue eyes. "Such devastation- I have lost dozens of fine men today. You have earned my respect for avenging their deaths. A toast to your magnificence!"]
[13:32] <Yanmei‘> "You’re too kind?" She smiled back at him warmly. "If it was to help the legendary Blue Prince and his friends, then I'm glad that I got involved."
[13:39] <Minaplo> ["Oh, you flatter me, you flirtatious vixen." Crooned the Blue Prince. "If your words continue to flow like wine then perhaps I may be able to include you as one of those friends…"]
[13:43] <Yanmei‘> "We’ll see," she chuckled, reaching for her own wine. "It seems like we have a lot of business to discuss tonight too."
[13:48] <Minaplo> ["Indeed. Perhaps we can find time to discuss more personal matters…"-
[13:48] <Minaplo> ["Enough of your carnal mutterings." Snapped Severus, shifting his incredible bulk around uncomfortably. "I'll not have it at my table, I'll not!"-
[13:49] <Minaplo> [He mumbled to himself. "Slatterns, slatterns all, ruled by their base thoughts, oh how they fondle and grope at each other like monkeys, oh to roast them like the pigs they are…"-
[13:50] <Minaplo> ["So!" He continued as though he hadn't said anything, "What our new guest here- Zhang Yanmei, oh yes- says is true. Forces from the outside have emerged and put us all at risk."]
[13:53] <Yanmei‘> "…" Yanmei’s eyebrows rose, the corners of her lips twitching ever so faintly as if she was holding back a scowl. "The men who were here were from the United Nations, the single most powerful military force on earth. We're not sure if more are on the way, but we should be prepared in case they are?"
[13:56] <Minaplo> ["If…" Bald Eddie began to speak and his voice was wet and silky. It sent Yanmei's skin crawling.-
[13:56] <Minaplo> ["If they are so powerful, what chance do we have?"]
[14:02] <Yanmei‘> "We can’t really go on the offensive against them, but surviving - shielding ourselves from their bombs, hunkering down, and out-fighting the ones who step into the city - is something you can accomplish. It will, however, take organization and cooperation."
[14:05] <Minaplo> ["… How much?" Asked Eddie cautiously.]
[14:07] <Yanmei‘> "A lot." She eyed Severus a moment. "Lord Governor Severus has started on a basic plan that focuses on hit and run tactics. If he would care to elaborate on the details…"
[14:30] * ZackSleep is now known as ZackAFK
[14:30] <Minaplo> ["The city is home to many useful bunkers and redoubts." Said Severus. "We will fortify ourselves in there and let the UN attacks fall where we are strongest. Then the gangs, who are used to asymmetrical combat situations, will harass the enemy, stealing their resources, cutting their supply lines and attacking their leaders."-
[14:30] <Minaplo> ["There is no argument to this, Parliament demands your loyalty."-
[14:31] <Minaplo> [There were murmurings amongst the leaders. Severus’s face went red with anger.-
[14:31] <Minaplo> ["Outside there is a walking tank, stolen from the vanguard by Zhang Yanmei. It could kill a hundred men in a minute and you would be lucky to -dent- it. Do as I say or die."-
[14:33] <Minaplo> [A deep silence fell on the room.-
[14:33] <Minaplo> [At that moment, however, the doors opened, and a small army of servants entered, bearing food.-
[14:33] <Minaplo> [Yanmei had been living off cats, dogs, foxes and emus for a week.-
[14:34] <Minaplo> [But these servants had brought out three fat perfectly roasted pigs, cooked in butter, and the smell made her salivate as her stomach cried for -proper- food. The scent of fresh vegetables wafted over her, and she could already see the golden roast potatoes in a bed of lovely duck fat.-
[14:35] <Minaplo> ["Ah! Dinner!" Cried Severus.-
[14:35] <Minaplo> [And of course, drinks, as the servants somehow managed to find bottles of red wine…]
[14:09] * Yanmei sat, stunned. Stunned by the ultimatum, and then after that, at the sight of all that rich food. Food that her suspicious side told her shouldn't be here. Where did someone get roast pig in a broken, isolated city like this one? Or fresh vegetables? Or -duck fat-? -
[14:10] <Yanmei> Trying to be discreet about it, she panned the table for reactions.
[14:15] <Minaplo> [The general reaction was the sort you expect from people who have spend most of their lives hungry or near hungry. Most of them watched the pig with desperate eyes, tracking its movements- although Yanmei could tell easily that Saint Luna hadn't moved at all. Even the Blue Prince watched the pig as it approached, although he tried to be discrete about it.-
[14:16] <Minaplo> [It looked and smelled amazing up close as the servants placed the food down and poured drinks for them all. They then worked into carving the meat up and placing on the fairly clean plates that sat in front of them. There was cutlery, too…-
[14:18] <Minaplo> [But the moment the food was down most of the gangers practically leapt into action, grabbing handfuls of potatoes and dumping them on their plates and fighting over the vegetables. Most of them ate with their hands, except for the Blue Prince, who used his knife and fork like a gentleman. Saint Luna grudgingly lifted the bottom of her mask up, lowering her face and slowly lifting food up so that no one could see her mouth.]
[14:21] * Yanmei joined in as well - a little more reluctant about fighting over the portions, but the smell of it and the frenzy of the others drove her to be quick about securing some for herself in the end. She dug in with her fork, and it was only after the first few mouthfuls that she slowed, thoughts flooding her mind around the taste. -
[14:23] <Yanmei> What would Lizzie and Isaiah and the others be eating that night? Could she smuggled some back to them without looking weird? Hadn't Severus been muttering about killing this and that all evening? If the food was drugged or poisoned…
[14:23] <Yanmei> ^smuggle
[14:26] <Minaplo> [Severus was eating as well, of course, heartily, although he did so with more grace than most of his guests.-
[14:30] <Minaplo> [At his end of the table, Yanmei would see Mosquito Reynolds reach for a potato dish, at the same time that Bald Eddie did. Their hands met-
[14:31] <Minaplo> [And Reynolds slapped Eddie's away irritably. The response was immediate- Eddie leapt across the table, grabbing Reynolds by the collar and pulling him back, trying to choke him.]
[14:36] <Yanmei> "Oi!" Yanmei rose, perhaps, a centimeter out of her chair before realizing that this wasn't -her- dinner party, and that the host should be the one controlling things. With difficulty, she bit her tongue and sank back down again.
[14:36] <Minaplo> [Lucy nudged Yanmei in the ribs.-
[14:36] <Minaplo> [The host, of course, was watching the fight with his eyes gleaming.-
[14:37] <Minaplo> [Reynolds jumped forward, smashing his head into Eddie's nose, propelling him back onto the floor.-
[14:38] <Minaplo> [The chaos knocked Luna back off her chair, and Lucy sprang forward, grabbing Luna's plate and unloading the contents onto Yanmei's. By the time Luna stood up, she'd see her plate gone- and Yanmei's inexplicably larger…]
[14:58] * Yanmei saw it too, roughly at the same point. It took a split second for her to dispel the shock and to settle into a warm, serene look - one designed to dissuade rather than encourage the violence she knew was about to come.
[15:01] <Minaplo> [Luna stared for a split second- then leapt over the table, kicking Lucy square in the nose and sending her tumbling.-
[15:01] <Minaplo> [Luna fell with her, hammering Lucy with blows- but now Yanmei would find that someone was staring at her. Captain Blood.-
[15:01] <Minaplo> [He grinned and cracked his knuckles, getting to his feet.]
[15:29] <Yanmei> Yanmei stared back, instantly pushing her chair back when she recognized the look in his eye. Lucy, her shield for the evening, had troubles of her own. -
[15:30] <Yanmei> Which meant Yanmei would have to deal with this herself, and like hell she would let him get the first punch in! Quickly, very quickly, she dove for him!
[15:34] <Minaplo> [But he danced away, and instantly rebounded with a pair of quick sharp punches!]
[15:35] <Yanmei> She slipped free from those, drawing back to try once more!
[15:35] <Minaplo> [BANG.-
[15:35] <Minaplo> [A gunshot echoed around the room, heralded by silence.-
[15:36] <Minaplo> [… Only for that silence to be broken a second later as a servant crumpled to the ground. He had been shot in the head, and Severus held the smoking gun.-
[15:37] <Minaplo> ["That is enough, you slimy rabble bastards." Snapped Severus. "Enough, or I'll shoot you all and throw you to the dogs."]
[15:41] <Yanmei> "Oh, so -now- you decide to say something!" Yanmei was glaring, trying with all of her focus not to let her eyes creep down toward the crumpled servant.
[15:57] <Minaplo> ["Oh, cease your indignant rumblings, you scarlet whore of Babylon." Growled Severus. "When the kings of Gangerkind scrabble like children, that is amusing, that is -enjoyable-, but to watch them scrabble with a petty outsider is pathetic."]
[16:02] <Yanmei> "Is that so? Far be it for me to spoil your -entertainment-." Yanmei tossed her hair - her hood had fallen down once again, revealing it. "Maybe I'll just remove myself from the festivities."
[16:03] <Minaplo> [The doors were suddenly guarded by Parliament soldiers, railguns at the ready.-
[16:03] <Minaplo> ["You will do no such thing."-
[16:04] <Minaplo> ["It is time for dessert! In the library. It is cheesecake."]
[16:06] <Yanmei> "…" Composure, composure… Yanmei clasped her hands together to prevent them from forming fists at her sides.
[16:07] <Minaplo> ["Oh yes, my favourite…" He looked over at the servant.-
[16:07] <Minaplo> ["My god! Someone's been shot here! Guards! Guards! Murder!" He seemed genuinely horrified, and the gun had vanished from his hands.-
[16:07] <Minaplo> [There was a slight delay in which the guards looked at each other, then hesitantly began to approach, grabbing the servant and flipping him onto his back. "Shot to the head, sir." Said one.-
[16:08] <Minaplo> ["Murder in my own dining room! What's the world coming to?! Quick, quick, extract the bullet…"-
[16:08] <Minaplo> [There was a longer pause at that. The soldiers, clearly terrified, moved in with a knife to cut the head open a little wider and withdraw the bullet.-
[16:09] <Minaplo> ["This is definitely a bullet, sir."-
[16:09] <Minaplo> ["Let me see."-
[16:09] <Minaplo> [They gave the bullet over to Severus, who beckoned Yanmei over. "Come, quick, there is murder and you must help."]
[16:10] <Minaplo> [The gangers at this point were silently, discreetly returning to their chairs, eating quickly and tearing food off to keep for later, which they stored in pockets and bags.]
[16:12] * Yanmei didn't move at first. She watched the soldiers, at a complete loss as to how to take this.
[16:28] <Minaplo> [One of them, behind the Governor, was making frantic hand motions. It was obvious they wanted her to comply.]
[16:30] <Yanmei> She moved toward them, eyes out for the gun he had been holding just a moment ago.
[16:30] <Minaplo> [The Governor held the bullet out to Yanmei. "What can you tell me about this? I need serial numbers, inscriptions, anything…"]
[16:47] <Yanmei> "Well, it was likely fired from a standard autopistol. At close range? Likely from someone -not- throwing punches in the brawl that was going on just now." She read off the serial number as well, feeling very stupid as she did so. Why did she have to do this…?
[16:48] <Minaplo> [There was a silence.-
[16:48] <Minaplo> ["That matches a type of bullet fired by what type of gun?" Asked Severus of a nearby soldier.-
[16:48] <Minaplo> ["Uh… Uh… A-An old German Luger pistol, sir."-
[16:48] <Minaplo> ["Indeed."-
[16:49] <Minaplo> ["I-In fact." The soldier picked up something off the floor. It was the same pistol Severus was wielding. "Here it is! I found the murder weapon!"-
[16:49] <Minaplo> ["Oh, excellent. Give it to Yanmei here-"-
[16:49] <Minaplo> ["He did so-"-
[16:49] <Minaplo> ["Now, does the gun have a name on it, Zhang Yanmei?"]
[16:53] <Yanmei> "…yes." Ying. Why couldn't he just call her 'Ying'? "This weapon was clearly stolen from a Lieutenant Anthony Albus."
[16:53] <Minaplo> ["Stolen?" Said Severus, scoffing. "More likely Albus was the killer and abandoned his weapon in the rush!"]
[16:54] <Yanmei> "Except that he was no where near the scene of the crime."
[16:54] <Minaplo> ["Of course! He fled the scene, didn't he?"]
[16:56] <Yanmei> "No one saw him approach it in the first place. Unless he turned himself invisible or something?"
[16:56] <Minaplo> ["What are you saying? Are you saying there were -witnesses- to this crime?"]
[16:58] <Yanmei> "You have over half-a-dozen people who were in the room when the shot was fired. Including yourself." She raised her eyes to regard the rest of the table expectantly.
[16:58] <Minaplo> [Silence.-
[16:58] <Minaplo> ["Can anyone else corroborate this claim?"-
[16:58] <Minaplo> [The silence continued.-
[17:01] <Minaplo> ["Actually." Said one soldier. "N-Now that I think about it, I -did- see Lieutenant Albus skuling about earlier with this gun. And I saw him skulking away from this room earlier."-
[17:01] <Minaplo> ["You see?" Said Severus chidingly.]
[17:03] * Yanmei just… rubbed her temple with one hand, wordlessly holding the bullet out to them with the other.
[17:05] <Minaplo> [The soldier took it nervously.-
[17:05] <Minaplo> ["Throw Lieutenant Albus into a prison cell." Said Severus darkly, his eyes turning to Yanmei. There was no madness in them. Only startling, chilling sobriety, full of calculation and planning and unfeeling meticulation. He knew exactly what he was doing.]
[17:08] * Yanmei stared back at him. Slowly, she turned away and went back to her chair. There was nothing more that was worth saying, not to him or the rest of the room.
[17:16] <Minaplo> ["With that unpleasantness dealt with, let us abscond to the library for cheesecake." Said Severus.-
[17:16] <Minaplo> ["And clean up that mess."-
[17:19] <Minaplo> [The library was well-kept, at least by the standards of Melbourne, although the silent, tomb-like atmosphere of the imposing bookshelves made the gangers very silent.-
[17:19] <Minaplo> [There were comfortable armchairs about, and into the very biggest Severus was lowered, giving a sigh of relief.]
[17:20] * Yanmei milled about with the others - keeping her distance from the jerky Captain Blood, of course. She was eying the books, trying to tell what subjects they were on.
[17:20] <Minaplo> [Politics, laws…-
[17:21] <Minaplo> ["So much knowledge lost to our generation." Said the Blue Prince, walking up next to Yanmei. "Is it not a shame?"]
[17:23] <Yanmei> "How completely?" She didn't look at him. "I've stumbled across the occassional library in town. They're not as well kept as this one, however. Kind of mouldering? And there are those who remember the time before the disasters that wrecked the city, aren't there?"
[17:25] <Minaplo> ["OF course. Most of remember that time, but some remember it much more than others. They tell stories of how one could find information on any topic from anywhere in the world in seconds, or how food was overflowing in the shops and water was clean straight from the tap, and young people spent their days learning and loving instead of fighting and stealing."]
[17:28] * Yanmei paused for just a fraction of a moment. "…there are places on the outside that are still like that."
[17:29] <Minaplo> ["I thought so." Said the Blue Prince. "Lord Severus told us that you were from the outside. Is it wonderful? Is it magical?"]
[17:33] <Yanmei> "Some parts are. Other places are much like this city? But if you're lucky, you could be born in a place where they sell clothes and fresh food in shops, and where kids go to school, and where there's amazing technology used for things besides fighting."
[17:34] <Minaplo> ["Amazing." He breathed, staring at her with those intense blue eyes. "So why do they want to come here? What could such incredible people want with this cursed place?"]
[17:38] <Yanmei> "Who knows?" she muttered.
[17:38] <Minaplo> ["There's only one thing in this place worth looking for, I think."]
[17:38] <Yanmei> "Oh?"
[17:39] <Minaplo> [He reached up and brushed her cheek with the back of his hand, pushing away her hood as he did so. "You."]
[17:48] <Yanmei> It was getting to her, the intensity of his eyes. "You're very different from how I imagined," she said.
[17:48] <Minaplo> ["I am quite willing to give you the real deal, of course."]
[17:50] <Yanmei> "Thank you, but I have other commitments."
[17:50] <Minaplo> ["Of course." He withdrew his hand immediately. "Still… I really -would- like to see this world of yours-"-
[17:51] <Minaplo> [A gaggle of servants entered, bearing delicious-looking strawberry and lemon cheesecakes, which they placed on a central table, along with a pot of tea. Severus clapped his hands. "It is time for cheesecake!"-
[17:52] <Minaplo> [Lucy grabbed Yanmei's shoulder and bodily pulled her away from her 'suitor'. "Would you -quit- that?!" Hissed Lucy quietly into Yanmei's ear.]
[17:57] <Yanmei> "I -am-" she muttered back. "What's the big deal, anyway?"
[17:57] <Minaplo> ["He's the enemy! My enemy!"-
[17:57] <Minaplo> ["SO!" Severus boomed. "We have discussed the threat to ourselves- would you all sit down already?!"]
[17:59] * Yanmei shot Lucy an apologetic look, and went to the table, keeping close to her. She wished she had taken more of that red wine earlier.
[18:00] <Minaplo> ["So! We have discussed the threat to ourselves, and we have seen that our very own Zhang Yanmei has helped thwart the insidious efforts of the evil outsiders from the United Nations." Said Severus. "Let us all give her a round of applause."-
[18:00] <Minaplo> [They did so, some less than enthusiastic.]
[18:02] * Yanmei nodded politely in return, but didn't say anything.
[18:02] <Minaplo> ["It is only fitting that you be rewarded." Said Severus. "Would you say that you have the support of a large number of Runners?"]
[18:04] <Yanmei> "Support? Not really. They seem to like the gossip about me, but that's about all?"
[18:05] <Minaplo> ["Oh, you sell yourself short." Chuckled Severus. "Already, dear Captain Blood has told me that he has had to put down several ruffians who attacked his men in your name…"-
[18:05] <Minaplo> [Yanmei could feel Captain Blood's eye burning into the back of her neck.]
[18:06] <Yanmei> "I don't know what to tell you?" She ignored Blood, focusing on the others. "I have never incited anyone to attack people in my name."
[18:08] <Minaplo> ["That's nonsense." Said Eddie sharply. "Why, there was a Runner just yesterday that attacked me. I -persuaded- him to speak and he told me you were doing exactly that."]
[18:11] <Yanmei> Yanmei's eyes narrowed. "What exactly did he say?"
[18:12] <Minaplo> ["The famous 'Ying the Liberator' was telling everyone to throw down the Gangers, and that Ying the Liberator was secretly the Avenger."]
[18:15] <Yanmei> "False on both counts. The Avenger has been around long before I even got here? And I haven't exactly prioritized inspiring people to commit acts that will get them killed."
[18:18] <Minaplo> ["You attacked my men. To save Runners." Growled Saint Luna beneath her mask.-
[18:18] <Minaplo> ["That's right, you did." Said Lucy, smirking.]
[18:22] <Yanmei> "Of course I did. Don't confuse self-defense and the protection of the weak with openly inciting a random rebellion. Those are very different things."
[18:23] <Minaplo> ["Coward…" Muttered Luna.-
[18:23] <Minaplo> ["Enough!" Snapped Severus. "I could not give a damn about any of this. But the fact is true that whether you want it or not you seem to be liked by the tawdry hoi polloi."-
[18:24] <Minaplo> [Severus leaned back in his chair. "As a reward for your services to Parliament and to the city in general, I hereby declare you to be a Gang Leader."]
[18:25] <Yanmei> "…" There was a prickling along the back of her neck. Hairs standing up. "Excuse me?"
[18:26] <Minaplo> ["Yes, yes. We are making you a gang leader, congratulations. Do you have a name in mind?"]
[18:27] <Yanmei> "N-not yet." She was still trying to grasp this. To shake off the every-growing sense of danger pressing in around her.
[18:27] <Yanmei> ^ever-growing
[18:28] <Minaplo> ["Do you care for lions?"]
[18:30] <Yanmei> "Lions? Wait. How is this…? Is this -normal-?"
[18:31] <Minaplo> ["No! Fuck no it ain't normal!" Snapped Blood, jumping to his feet. "The fuck is this?! You're just -making- her a leader?! What the hell?!"-
[18:32] <Minaplo> ["I can do that. I am the Governor!" Squealed Severus petulantly.-
[18:32] <Minaplo> ["This is bullshit!"]
[18:37] * Yanmei decided -not- to skim around. She doubted Blood was the only one dissatisfied with this. "I've been here a -week-. How does this even work?"
[18:39] <Minaplo> ["We send you to an area, we declare it yours, and we tell Runners who feel like it to go there." Said Severus. "The Runners who aren't happy with their Gangers can go to their precious Ying the Liberator, and you become legitimised in the eyes of your enemies. Everyone wins."]
[18:41] * Yanmei clenched her jaw. She stared blankly at nearby cheesecake.
[18:44] <Minaplo> ["Oh for fuck's sake, Yanmei, just tell the fatarse 'no'." Said Lucy.-
[18:45] <Minaplo> ["Oh, to debase my character with your taunts, you tawdry wench…" Muttered Severus, before breaking into sotto vocve threats against everyone in the room.]
[13:28] <Yanmei> "Stop that!" Yanmei said sharply. "This reward is way too disproportionate to the services rendered? Unless you justify it, I'll have to respectfully decline."
[13:32] <Minaplo> ["How dare you ask me to justify it." Said Severus, just as sharply. "My word is law! If I say the reward fits the service, then it fits the service! You rogue."-
[13:32] <Minaplo> ["But it is also an acknowledgement of your ability."-
[13:32] <Minaplo> ["The ability to fuck with everyone for no reason!" Spat Captain Blood.-
[13:32] <Minaplo> ["Indeed." Admitted Severus.]
[13:43] * Yanmei huffed irritably. "I do so have reasons! And just what do you gain from letting this happen anyway?" She eyed Severus again.
[13:45] <Minaplo> ["What indeed? As though I have nothing to gain by making Zhang Yanmei a leader- a leader who understands how the UN fights, and can easily gain a force of her own- someone with a vested stake in the existence of this city…"]
[13:59] <Yanmei> "I was planning to help fight anyway?" she muttered. "I don't need an official gang to do that. Let me do it my own way."
[14:03] <Minaplo> [Yanmei would feel a lazy arm around her shoulders. She'd turn to see Mosquito Reynolds, looking… 'mellow'. He was sporting a black eye, and he'd been forced to replace his sunglasses. "Ah, my fierce little mate, y'got a good head on your shoulders, but you know why he wants you to be a ganger. No one ever heard of an Orphan leading runners. It gives people ideas, savvy?"]
[14:08] <Yanmei> "…" That… had actually not occurred to her. She swept a quick glance around the table. "So it would," she muttered.
[14:09] <Minaplo> [Severus settled smugly into his chair.-
[14:11] <Minaplo> ["The Runners exist to serve us. I will not permit them to be led by anyone but a ganger."]
[14:18] <Yanmei> And if someone tried, the retaliation would probably be swift. She got that. She pressed her lips briefly together, seething at the hypocrisy that she was on the cusp of committing. "I have conditions."
[14:30] <Minaplo> ["Oho! Conditions. How cute."]
[14:35] <Yanmei> She decided to ignore that remark. "I will personally approve of the territory in question before I make any deals. And I require a day or two of preparation. -And- if I discover any spies in my faction, I will not take it quietly."
[14:36] <Minaplo> ["Is that a threat?!"]
[14:38] <Yanmei> "It's a condition." She smiled without humor. "Just as I said."
[14:41] <Minaplo> [Severus glowered at her. "You have a lot of nerve. Very well!" He said darkly.]
[14:45] * Yanmei settled back into her chair with a sense of grim finality. "Now, then. Let's discuss the details."
[16:13] <Yanmei> And they did, over cheesecake - some of which Yanmei discreetly smuggled away when she was sure no one was looking - enough for everyone back home. -
[16:14] <Yanmei> "There's one last thing," she said as the hour began to draw to a close.
[16:15] <Minaplo> ["What?"]
[16:18] <Yanmei> "There's someone I'd like to borrow for the first few days that I'm established to help out with quickly training people."
[16:20] <Minaplo> ["Go on."]
[16:21] <Yanmei> "Anthony Albus."
[16:25] <Minaplo> ["What?! Why?"]
[16:29] <Yanmei> "He seems to have a way with the men here. You can tell right away. Anyway, I doubt you'll miss him much after tonight, right?"
[16:35] <Minaplo> ["And why would I want a known enemy to wander my streets…?"]
[16:37] <Yanmei> "You don't trust me to keep an eye on him~?"
[16:37] <Minaplo> ["I don't trust anyone."-
[16:38] <Minaplo> ["But… I could be persuaded otherwise." He smiled humourlessly.-
[16:38] <Minaplo> ["On certain conditions."]
[16:38] <Yanmei> "Such as…?"
[16:40] <Minaplo> ["Trades. You have to pay for his freedom."]
[16:41] <Yanmei> "And what could the mighty Parliament possibly need at this point?"
[16:47] <Minaplo> ["We could start with your warmech."]
[16:50] <Yanmei> "Not for sale," she said firmly. "You wouln't be able to pilot it anyway. Maybe some of that unique metal that people have been finding scattered around? Or some UN armor or something."
[16:52] <Minaplo> ["Hmmmmmm. That unique metal… Yes, I think that might be worth looking into."]
[16:54] <Yanmei> Something about the way he said that made her skin crawl. She kept it off her face, however. "I don't have it with me presently, but I can bring it by tomorrow."
[16:54] <Minaplo> ["One hundred kilograms."]
[16:55] <Yanmei> "Wh-What?! No one could find that much!"
[17:01] <Minaplo> ["Three days, one hundred kilograms." Rumbled Severus.]
[17:10] <Yanmei> "I'll give you -3- kilograms, 5 sets of UN armor, and a machine gun."
[17:14] <Yanmei> ^5 UN pistols
[17:15] <Minaplo> [Severus scoffed. "A machine gun! Pistols! What do you take me for, some common whore? I reject that deal entirely."]
[17:22] <Yanmei> "5 kilograms, 5 water canteens, 10 rations, and UN Power armor," she tried again.
[17:26] <Minaplo> ["That's a little better. Go on."]
[17:30] <Yanmei> "And… a vehicle, with a mounted weapon and meteor-metal armor plating."
[17:31] <Minaplo> ["What kind of vehicle?"]
[17:32] <Yanmei> "War buggy?"
[17:37] <Minaplo> ["Humph." He folded his arms. "I am unconvinced. I have many warbuggies, but with a hundred kilograms of meteor metal I could armour them all…"]
[17:39] <Yanmei> "What about a car? A four-seater?"
[17:39] <Minaplo> ["It's more like a two-seater for Severus." Said Reynolds lightly. "Y'know, for obvious reasons."-
[17:40] <Minaplo> [With speed that reminded Yanmei sharply of Asuka of Raphael, Severus threw a porcelain plate at Reynolds, who desperately threw his arms up, shielding his face from the flying cutlery. It shattered, and Yanmei would soon see light trickles of blood coming from Reynolds' hands as the porcelain shards dug into his skin.-
[17:40] <Minaplo> ["I DO NOT NEED CARS!"]
[17:43] * Yanmei blinked hard. She hadn't been expecting that at all. The offer for a tame but smelly camel died abruptly on her tongue. "Then we're at an impasse? That's all the metal I have."
[17:44] <Minaplo> ["THEN YOU SHALL HAVE NO DEAL, NO AID, AND NO LIEUTENANT ALBUS!" Roared Severus, getting up out of his chair.-
[17:44] <Minaplo> [… And abruptly he toppled forward, onto his face.]
[17:46] * Yanmei held her breath. She was not going to laugh at that or say he deserved it or say he deserved -worse-. Nope, nope…
[17:47] <Minaplo> [A series of soldiers rushed to his side, lifting him by his arms, and what a sorry sight it was.-
[17:48] <Minaplo> [Tears were streaming down his face and he was -screaming-, screaming as though his heart had been torn from his chest. It was mostly incomprehensible…]
[17:56] * Yanmei scrunched her brow and kept her mouth shut through this as well. On impuse, she skimmed the rest of the room - not the Gangers, but the corners, the shadowy spots of the library that she could see.
[18:00] <Minaplo> ["Ma'am." One of the soldiers approached Yanmei. "Come with me, please."]
[18:03] * Yanmei narrowed her eyes at him, and then briefly considered the other soldiers around Severus. Reluctantly, she rose. "Fine."
[18:05] <Minaplo> [But it turns out they were heading in different directions. Severus was being carted off in one direction…-
[18:05] <Minaplo> [Whilst Yanmei would find herself being led towards a colder, remoter part of the palace where the doors were reinforced and sometimes barricaded with bars.]
[18:08] * Yanmei stopped walking. This portion of the palace was giving off seriously unpleasant vibes, and she didn't like it at all. Images of the Synfront came to her, unbidden. "I'd like an explanation," she said finally, "please."
[18:12] <Minaplo> ["You are to meet with Lieutenant Albus."]
[18:14] <Yanmei> "Oh." The confusion on her face was plain as day. "Who…? Never mind. Just lead on."
[18:14] <Minaplo> [And so he did. A few minutes later Yanmei would come to a barred cell…-
[18:14] <Minaplo> [But if this was a cell, then it was the least prison-like cell ever. The door wasn't even locked!-
[18:15] <Minaplo> [And furthermore, the room had a bed, and a nice table, and paintings, and an en suite and a writing desk! Lieutenant Albus sat at the desk, writing. He didn't look up. "Ah, Zhang Yanmei."]
[18:17] <Minaplo> [A glass of wine was on his desk, a smoking jacket laying over the bed.]
[18:17] <Yanmei> "Lieutenant…" she said cautiously. She was trying not to stare. "It seems you're being treated well."
[18:17] <Minaplo> ["Indeed. Come in, take a seat."]
[18:19] * Yanmei did. She eyed the smoking jacket oddly from a distance and cleared her throat. "How can I help you?"
[18:19] <Minaplo> ["You have been selected as a gang leader with your emblem being a gold lion on red and blue, is this correct?"]
[18:21] <Yanmei> "Information travels quickly," she said dryly. "Were you listening personally somehow?"
[18:22] <Minaplo> ["I was informed by the soldiers, yes. After all, I run the bureaucracy here." He writes something on his sheet and pushes it towards her, holding the pen out. "Sign, please."]
[18:24] * Yanmei took both and read the paper first.
[18:31] <Yanmei> "This is more formal than I expected?" Yanmei blinked down at the paper and then moved her pen across it. "Is this… er. Is this legitimate?"
[18:33] <Minaplo> ["What do you mean by 'legitimate'?"]
[18:35] * Yanmei sighed. "I don't know. Does anyone else keep track of the paperwork around here who might raise an eyebrow about it? Like another officer or Severus himself…?"
[18:36] <Minaplo> ["No. Paperwork is my department."]
[18:38] <Yanmei> "Oh. Then that's that?" She could sense an awkward silence encroaching, and tried to hold it at bay with her questions. "Were you ever in any real danger from him?"
[18:43] <Minaplo> ["Sign first, please, and then I shall tell you a story."]
[18:44] * Yanmei did just that, holding it out for him to see.
[18:45] <Minaplo> [And then he took it, stamped the page with a seal, rolled it up, bound it with a cloth ribbon and held it out to her. "Would you care for some wine?"]
[18:50] <Yanmei> "-Yes-." She said firmly, staring at the document. She slid a hand around it, and pulled it onto her lap. "Very much, please."
[00:16] <Mibbit‘Haplo> [And so Albus took a new glass out of his desk and filled it to near-brim with deep red wine, which he then offered to her.]
[00:17] * Yanmei accepted it with a "thank you" and took a tentative sip. She would have to ask later where they got this stuff from.
[00:20] <Mibbit`Haplo> [He gave her a short nod. "Let us introduce yourselves. You are Zhang Yanmei, the Third Child, pilot of the synthetic all-purpose combat humanoid construct Evangelion Production Model Unit 04. You turn eighteen years old this year."-
[00:20] <Mibbit`Haplo> ["I am Anthony Albus, Lieutenant in the Australian Army, but now the de facto head of the City of Melbourne’s 'Civil Service', responsible for the day-to-day running of Parliament. How old do you think I am?"]
[00:23] <Yanmei> She set her face firmly. "If you reached Lieutenant back then… maybe fifty?"
[00:24] <Mibbit‘Haplo> ["Close. I am forty-five."]
[00:26] <Yanmei> "You must have been a very good soldier?"
[00:29] * Mibbit`Haplo has quit IRC (Quit: ajax IRC Client)
[01:17] * Minaplo has joined #nervfrance
[01:22] <Yanmei> [00:16] <Mibbit`Haplo> [And so Albus took a new glass out of his desk and filled it to near-brim with deep red wine, which he then offered to her.]
[01:22] <Yanmei> [00:17] * Yanmei accepted it with a "thank you" and took a tentative sip. She would have to ask later where they got this stuff from.
[00:20] <Mibbit`Haplo> [He gave her a short nod. "Let us introduce yourselves. You are Zhang Yanmei, the Third Child, pilot of the synthetic all-purpose combat humanoid construct Evangelion Production Model Unit 04. You turn eighteen years old this year."-
[00:20] <Mibbit`Haplo> ["I am Anthony Albus, Lieutenant in the Australian Army, but now the de facto head of the City of Melbourne’s 'Civil Service', responsible for the day-to-day running of Parliament. How old do you think I am?"]
[00:23] <Yanmei> She set her face firmly. "If you reached Lieutenant back then… maybe fifty?"
[00:24] <Mibbit‘Haplo> ["Close. I am forty-five."]
[00:26] <Yanmei> "You must have been a very good soldier?"
[01:28] <Minaplo> ["Soldier?" He smiled dryly. "I wanted to be part of the civil service. I joined the army thanks to a military scholarship."]
[01:34] <Yanmei> "Oh, I see." That explained the bureaucracy… "But you’ve been here, working under Severus for a while. Ever since Impact?" she guessed.
[01:43] <Minaplo> ["Ever since impact. Nearly eighteen years of living in a squalid post-apocalyptic hellhole, eating whatever we could find, enforcing the law from the barrel of a gun, relying on hopped-up old teachers and mechanics just to maintain a nearly coherent level of technology." He sighed. "And recently, living under the rule of a man who is not only capable of having me killed on a whim, is not
[01:43] <Minaplo> only nearly completely out of his mind, but also practices mithradatism, the -bastard-."]
[01:47] <Minaplo> «Mithridatism*»
[01:49] <Yanmei> "You have my condolences," she said. That was the thing to say under these circumstances, right? "It sounds… well, it -is- rough. But what now? Is he really going to try to execute you now?"
[01:53] <Minaplo> ["Please." Said Albus dismissively. "Have a look at this cell. Do you really think they moved all of this down tonight? This happens every month, sooner if he's holding a big dinner party. I've lived in this cell for years because eventually I just got sick of always being moved to it. Look! The lock is on -my- side of the cell."-
[01:53] <Minaplo> ["And for good reason." He added grimly. "If history has taught me one thing it is that when the revolucion comes the safest place is to be in a cell."]
[01:59] * Yanmei arched an eyebrow. A rebellion? Not unbelievable. Not by a longshot. "So the soldiers around here have a bit more spunk than first appearences would suggest, then. It's a little surprising? But not much."
[02:01] <Minaplo> ["Half the soldiers here are ganger recruits. I am not. And I do not have any spunk left. Is it true that you tried to buy my freedom?"]
[02:03] <Yanmei> "Maybe. I was a little ignorant of the situation?" She took a hasty drink of her wine.
[02:05] <Minaplo> ["You are aware, of course, that as the executor of paperwork in this place I am the one who finalises all deals." He took out another piece of paper. "Three days, twenty-five kilograms of 'starmetal', does this sound like a fair trade?"]
[02:09] <Yanmei> "It's not as impossible as the other deal he tried to make, but… Can't we make it twenty kilograms?"
[02:09] <Minaplo> ["… I beg your pardon?"]
[02:14] <Yanmei> "Severus. He seemed to be under he impression that I have an infinate amount of that metal to trade?" She lowered her glass more significantly now. "I'm not trying to devalue your freedom, but I have to work with what I'm capable of."
[02:27] <Minaplo> ["I am offering you a price for my freedom so I may legally leave this place and come to you. I am doing this at a very low amount, far lower than Severus would ever allow, offering a generous timeframe and generous target, and you haggle with me?"]
[02:29] <Yanmei> "W-well…" The urge to figet started to kick in, and she did her best to ignore it. She was an Eva Pilot, and an important political figure here, and she had to be dignified!
[02:36] <Minaplo> ["You don't even know, do you?" He murmured. "You're just haggling because someone told you that you were supposed to haggle."]
[02:37] <Yanmei> "That's not even remotely true? I'm haggling because that stuff is hard to find!"
[02:41] <Minaplo> ["I don't even care what happens to the metal. But turning around and throwing my offer back in my face is insulting." He scribbled on the paper angrily and held it out for her to sign. "I don't care anymore. Three days, twenty kilograms, sign on the line."]
[02:45] * Yanmei signed once more, as requested, and held it back out to him.
[02:46] <Minaplo> [And this one he, too, stamped, rolled up and bound with a cloth. He held it out to Yanmei.-
[02:46] <Minaplo> ["Your intent is to leave this place, is it not?"]
[02:53] <Yanmei> "…We're still working on the complicated details," she said after a careful pause. "But yes, that was my intent."
[02:56] <Minaplo> ["Very well." He leaned back in his chair. "Do you know what I want?"]
[02:57] <Yanmei> "To come with us?"
[02:59] <Minaplo> ["Yes. Or rather that is merely a way to achieve what I want."-
[03:03] <Minaplo> ["I want out. I want to sleep in a bed that isn't two decades old. I want warm covers and fresh linens and breakfast in bed. I want- alcohol that wasn't found in some lost cellar or brewed by a half-witted tinkerer that burned off his eyebrows. I want new, fresh clothes. I want a place where the law isn't enforced by thugs with guns but rather by courts. I want to read a book that isn't
[03:03] <Minaplo> worm-bitten or had pages torn out to fuel a fire. I want the internet on a stable connection with a 500 gigabyte cap at 4000kbs speed. I want to shake someone's hand without wondering if they're going to kill me. I want bloody condoms that work, and I want somewhere that has actual healthcare with painkillers and doctors who know what the hell they're doing."]
[03:08] <Yanmei> "I understand?" The list made her feel a little sad. She watched the rim of her glass and spoke quietly. "It's not clear where I and my associates are heading after this, but I think we can at least manage to get you to someplace like that."
[03:11] <Minaplo> ["Good. I never wanted to be here in the first place."-
[03:12] <Minaplo> [He sighed, clearly frustrated. Clearly frustrated for a long time. "Before this mess, I had a life, a degree, I had a girlfriend. Her name was Melinda and she had light brown hair and dimples when she smiled. She's probably dead. And some days I envy that." He got to his feet.]
[03:22] <Yanmei> "I'm sorry," she said, rising with him.
[03:22] <Minaplo> ["Thank you." He looked around the cell.-
[03:23] <Minaplo> ["I don't care for any of this." He pulled a pair of suitcases out from under the bed. "This is what I want to keep. Let's go."
[03:23] <Minaplo> ]
[03:24] <Yanmei> "Just like that? Well… I guess we won't be stopped, will we?" She rested her glass on the desk.
[03:26] <Minaplo> ["We won't."]
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[03:30] <Yanmei> And indeed, they weren't. Severus' presence had long faded, and the path they took was devoid of any wandering Gangers. Before long, they were outside and hurrying to the spot where Yanmei and Isha had parted.
[03:35] <Minaplo> [And the AC Suit was still there, looking ominous and heavily armed, but they had company. A small group of soldiers were milling about the base of the Suit, looking… Relaxed?]
[03:37] <Yanmei> -That- was a change. And another sign to approach warily. "Mr. Jai…?"
[03:47] <Minaplo> ["I'll handle this." Said Albus. "You men, there!"-
[03:47] <Minaplo> ["Sir," Said one, turning to look at him. "You're thinking of leavin' tonight, aren'tcha?"-
[03:47] <Minaplo> ["That's right. Do you intend to stop me?"]
[03:50] * Yanmei didn't say anything. She kept a sharp eye on them, ready to whip out her weapon at a moment's notice, but between this guy and Isha it probably wouldn't come to that. Surely…?
[03:55] <Minaplo> ["Nossir. We're here to join you."-
[03:55] <Minaplo> ["…?" Albus quirked an eyebrow. "You lot- you're all veterans, surely you have more to gain by staying?"-
[03:55] <Minaplo> ["You were the best thing 'bout Parliament, sir, now that Ol' Sev's gone barmy." Said the lead soldier. "We'll go with you to wherever you're going."-
[03:55] <Minaplo> ["…" Albus turned to look at Yanmei.]
[03:59] <Yanmei> There was still that wary glint in her eye, but Yanmei nodded slowly. "That's fine?"
[04:01] <Minaplo> [Albus nodded slowly. "Very well. Let's move out."]
* * * *

Day 8

[07:15] <Yanmei> It had taken a while to pile all of their stuff together and to leave their camp in much the same state they had originally found it - broken, dirty, surrounded by clutter. -
[07:17] <Yanmei> Yanmei had no love for the place, but she felt something stir when she caught that last gimpse of it in her rearview mirror. Sadness… and fear. The simplest part of their stay here was officially over. -
[07:18] <Yanmei> And so she drove, leading a small convoy of vehicles, and Skippy and Saladin, to their new home.
[07:32] <Minaplo> [Lizzie was in the cabin with Yanmei, sitting in the middle, looking curiously through the high windscreen. To Lizzie's left was Isaiah, lost in thought.]
[07:37] <Yanmei> Yanmei too was quiet for a long time. Past broken, burned buildings and coldly deserted blocks they went. They trundled over a bridge, into clearly unfamiliar territory. "Of course, I'll have to search for a successor right away," she said firmly, breaking the silence.
[07:42] <Minaplo> ["Right." Said Isaiah firmly. "Who do you…?"]
[07:44] <Yanmei> "I don't know yet? Hermionie, maybe, but could you see her actually accepting that duty? I'm surprised she's even still with us at all."
[07:48] <Minaplo> ["She -is- Severus's daughter…"]
[07:54] <Yanmei> "She's very much not like him?" she said quickly, as if coming to her defense against an insult.
[07:55] <Minaplo> ["No, I know," Said Isaiah hastily, "I meant- she's probably more used to the idea of leading than you think…"-
[07:56] <Minaplo> [Lizzie was meanwhile playing with Daji the fox, who was running back and forth across her shoulders, the tail whipping across Lizzie's face and making her giggle.]
[07:59] <Yanmei> "Maybe," she said softly. "I'll ask her. We'll have plenty of time to talk while we're out looking for those supplies. She seemed kinda fed up with Gangers before, but it could have been an act?" She peered down at Lizzie holding back a smile. If there were indeed lots of Runners coming to them, maybe a few would have kids too.
[08:09] <Minaplo> ["Yeah…"-
[08:09] <Minaplo> ["Heh. It's kind of funny."]
[08:09] <Yanmei> "Hm? What is?"
[08:10] <Minaplo> ["Once upon a time, I suggested we should run away together." He smiled at her dryly. "Freedom, huh?"]
[08:13] * Yanmei chuckled. "Look on the bright side. At least we won't have to deal with school for a while~"
[08:22] <Minaplo> [He stared at her for a moment… Then his smile became wider, and he started to laugh, too.-
[08:23] <Minaplo> [Before long their truck would lumber across the river- a long, winding gorge of black, sludgy water- and through a quiet, desolate forest 'round crumbling buildings- before eventually arriving at a specific destination.-
[08:24] <Minaplo> [Here was Albus, supervising… Something. All around were workers- Runners, mostly- carrying goods to and fro. Metal, mostly. They were forming a barricade- a compound. Huge stacks of flags and jerseys bearing a golden lion sat in corners or in boxes.]
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[11:03] <Yanmei> "They had those flags ready way too quickly?" Yanmei muttered, eying those boxes as she climbed out of the car. She helped Lizzie out as well, taking her hand. "Let's go see up close, okay?" And she led the way, over to Albus. "How does it look?"
[11:18] <Minaplo> [Albus turned to face her. "All is going well, Ying." He said in a tone that resembled cheerfulness. "The location is excellent and easily defendable, and we're finding it easy to fortify our central stockade."]
[11:22] <Yanmei> "That's good news?" She grinned at him and began to roll up her sleeves. "Here, where do you need a helping hand?"
[11:28] <Minaplo> ["What, a lofty Gang leader grubbing about with a buncha Runners?" Came Hermione's dry voice. "That'd be new…"]
[11:34] * Yanmei tossed her hair with a loud hmph. "New for -who- exactly? Actually, there was some stuff I wanted to talk to you about."
[11:36] <Minaplo> ["Oh?"]
[11:37] <Yanmei> "We still have to find that thing you're looking for. Lemme take care of a few things here and we'll go for a drive?"
[11:38] <Minaplo> ["Sounds good to me."-
[11:38] <Minaplo> [Albus was waiting patiently for Yanmei to finish. He gave Hermione a friendly nod, which was returned.]
[11:41] * Yanmei in the meantime, peered down at Lizzie. "I have a very important job for you. You and Daji have to help Daddy until I come back this evening, ok?"
[11:43] <Minaplo> ["Ok, maamaa! Me big help!"-
[11:43] <Minaplo> ["'Course you are." Isaiah ruffled her hair and grinned.-
[11:43] <Minaplo> [But suddenly, Yanmei would hear a shout of dismay and terror from the Runners!]
[11:44] * Yanmei looked up sharply, eyes following the shouting. "Already?! What on…?" Her hand went for the Surovite Blade at once.
[11:48] <Minaplo> [She'd soon see what had drawn the reaction. A massive, hulking shape had landed in the courtyard. Twelve feet tall, arms attached to huge multi-barrelled cannons…-
[11:48] <Minaplo> [Isha's AC Suit.]
[11:49] <Yanmei> Oh. She took a few paces across the yard. "Calm down, calm down! You're looking at an ally! Mr Jai?"
[11:51] <Minaplo> ["Sorry, sorry! I wasn't thinking- I am friendly! Go lions!" He cried, his voice coming out in a terrifying metallic roar.-
[11:51] <Minaplo> [It wasn't helping.]
[11:55] * Yanmei looked around at all the terrified and cowering faces. "Climb out of there, ok? And say hello in person?"
[11:57] <Minaplo> ["You lot!" Cried Albus, pointing at the nearby soldiers, who were standing around looking deeply amused. "Go crowd that machine and look casual and unruffled!"-
[11:57] <Minaplo> ["Yessir!" They replied, laughing, and did just that. By the time Isha emerged, the Runners were starting to creep back like curious mice.]
[12:00] <Yanmei> "Thank you, Mr. Albus." Yanmei muttered, and ran a distracted hand through her hair.
[12:02] <Minaplo> [Isaiah laughed, catching Yanmei with both arms around the waist. "Sounds like God-Empress Ying's off to a flying start~ <3"]
[12:06] <Yanmei> "That has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?" she smirked, and kissed him on the cheek. "Will you take a few under your wing today? Give 'em a few excercises to do when they're done with the fortification? Just basic stuff from training."
[12:08] <Minaplo> ["Of course." Said Isaiah. "Can I teach them to tear off an enemy's arm with their Mr. Fantastic arms?"]
[12:09] * Yanmei snorted with laughter. "Please do! I'd love to see that?"
[12:09] <Minaplo> ["No promises." He turned her around and kissed her on the lips. "Stay safe, ok?"]
[12:13] <Yanmei> "You too." When they parted, she looked to Albus again. "Hopefully you and Mr. Isha could guide a few with your very capable hands as well?"
[12:17] <Minaplo> <Mr. Jai*>
[12:17] <Minaplo> ["I daresay we could." Said Albus dryly. "I'll set the men to gathering resources and securing the area. We can expect attacks from the Tigers and Saints by tomorrow, so it's best to be prepared."]
[14:59] <Yanmei> "Thanks," said Yanmei. "Seems like a solid idea to me?" -
[15:00] <Yanmei> But she didn't stay around to watch it play out. After initially helping at the start, she drifted away, taking Hermione with her. -
[15:02] <Yanmei> They drove, backtracking through sights that Yanmei and her little family had already passed once that day, but instead of headin back to the old campsite, they broke away to parts unknown after crossing the bridge and the old, polluted river sludging beneath it. -
[15:03] <Yanmei> Yanmei had her hood carefully up around her face again, and at the speed they were going the buggy had a nice breeze going through it. "What do you think our chances are?" she began conversationally.
[15:13] <Minaplo> ["Of what?" Asked Hermione, leaning back lazily with her legs up on the dashboard.]
[15:14] <Yanmei> "Surviving, I guess. Not having the other gangs or Parliament wipe us out?"
[15:15] <Minaplo> ["Pretty good, actually."]
[15:15] <Yanmei> "Yeah?"
[15:24] <Minaplo> ["Well, we're surrounded by enemies, but they're surrounded by enemies too so it works out. We also have a few advantages."]
[15:26] <Yanmei> "Like Mr. Albus and the UN gear we acquired. And it's true that our location is pretty easy to defend?"
[15:29] <Minaplo> ["Right. That big ol', what did you guys call it? AC Suit? I took it down with a lucky hit but I bet its armour will just ignore most bullets. That thing is probably worth a hundred gangers." She reached over and punched Yanmei's arm. "Aaaand we have friendly faces abroad. Makin' buddy buddy with a few ganger leaders, huh?"]
[15:32] <Yanmei> "Just one or two? It'd be easier if they didn't all hate each other, or whatever." Yanmei pulled one hand from the steering wheel and rubbed the spot where she had been hit, grinning faintly. "There's one thing that's going against us in a big way, though, and that's time."
[15:33] <Minaplo> ["Yeah?"]
[15:36] <Yanmei> "…I'm gonna level with you. Because you trusted me and Mr. Jai earlier with your secret? Mr. Albus already knows because of his old job, and all the rest of them probably deserve to know at some point too." She jerked her head slightly, back the way they'd come from to indicate the rest of their fledgling gang. -
[15:37] <Yanmei> She took a deep breath. "Alright. So. My real name isn't Ying."
[15:37] <Minaplo> ["My worldview is -shattered-."]
[15:38] <Yanmei> "Hey." Yanmei pouted. "I thought it was a good alias! Anyway, there's more."
[15:38] <Minaplo> ["Oh?"]
[15:39] <Yanmei> "Have you ever heard of an Evangelion?"
[15:41] <Minaplo> ["Huh?"-
[15:41] <Minaplo> [She blinks. "Oh, oh. Ying, look, I'm very glad you have your faith but I'm not interested…"]
[15:44] <Yanmei> "No, no. Evangelion, not evangelist. It's not a religion thing? It's… a giant, very expensive war machine. The UN has a good two dozen of them in operation right now. I used to pilot one of them. Isaiah did too."
[15:46] <Minaplo> ["A… Giant war machine, huh?" A frown. "Alright, hold on, let's start from the beginning. One: who names a giant war machine something like 'evangelion'? And secondly, how giant are we talking here?"]
[15:51] <Yanmei> "One: self-described scientist-theologians who are -very- full of themselves, and secondly, it's waaay bigger than the AC suit we got. It's taller than most of the buildings in this city?"
[15:52] <Minaplo> ["… Eh? That big? How is that practical? Won't it fall over? Shouldn't something like that need a crew?"]
[15:55] <Yanmei> "It's complicated. It's partly organic, and the pilot operates it through a neural connection of sorts? In other words, our minds are directly connected with them in a way that lets us move them like we would our own bodies." -
[15:57] <Yanmei> "This also means that it can self-repair when damaged a lot of time. Like, when your body heals itself when you get a bruise, you know?"
[15:58] <Minaplo> ["…" Hermione stared at Yanmei with extremely suspicious eyes. "Self-repairing organic war machine you control with your mind? Ok, there's no way the outside world developed something -that- advanced."]
[16:02] <Yanmei> "Guess again. Anyway, the technology isn't important. The important thing is that Isaiah and I - and Mr. Jai too, to a much lesser extent - are former UN employees. That's how we know how to operate all that stuff we grabbed from the soldiers before? It also means that we're in trouble if the UN makes its way here in earnest."
[16:04] <Minaplo> ["Wait, wait a second. Former?"]
[16:06] <Yanmei> "Internal politics. They turned on us. We had to flee from them."
[16:06] <Minaplo> ["Why'd they turn on you?"]
[16:13] <Yanmei> "I can only tell you what I know," Yanmei grumbled. "Mary Caine - the person who is, effectively, the head of this organization, has had it out for me for a while. She's grown even more powerful lately, and has been boldly attacking her dissenters. She completely set me and my squad up to give her a way to have me legally imprisoned or executed."
[16:14] <Minaplo> ["Wow. Sounds like my dad. Maybe they should be dating instead of fighting…"]
[16:15] <Yanmei> "Don't…" Yanmei blanched. "I did not need those mental images, thanks?"
[16:15] <Minaplo> [She leaned over to smirk. "Imagine him, with all that fatty bulk, the bed squeaking…"]
[16:18] <Yanmei> "Oh god! Noo!!! Stop talking!"
[16:19] <Minaplo> [Hermione made horrible slurping motions, poking her tongue out wildly.]
[16:22] <Yanmei> "ANYWAY" The car has started drifting slightly, but Yanmei hastened to correct it. "THEY MAY… they may be on their way. In fact, I'm sure it's just a matter of time? What I'm worried about is what happens to the Lions if I'm suddenly removed from the picture through arrest or having to flee from them again."
[16:29] <Minaplo> ["Hmmmm. I think that depends on our position. If we're really weak when you vanish, the Lions will probably die out, but if we're very strong…"]
[16:33] <Yanmei> "I suppose that's true? I still can't tell if your father was setting me up by making me in charge of them, but I want to do my best for them either way."
[16:34] <Minaplo> ["I think he was, but yeah, he's probably overschemed this time. If we're fast and clever we can probably make him pay."]
[16:37] * Yanmei smiled faintly at the thought of that. Make him pay… "Thanks for not bailing on us. I know this probably isn't your scene."
[16:46] <Minaplo> ["Whaddyamean?"]
[16:47] <Yanmei> "I mean, before you said you didn't like gangs. That's why they never bothered to recruit you?"
[16:48] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, that's 'cuz all the gangs are assholes. You have a chance to make a non-asshole gang that protects the Runners. The moment your gang becomes an asshole gang I'm gone."]
[16:52] * Yanmei nodded firmly. "Fair enough. Someday I'd like for them to govern themselves as equals and stand up for the Runners living under the other gangs. But if I run out of time before that happens, do you think you could keep an eye on them for me?"
[16:53] <Minaplo> ["What, like a leader?"]
[16:53] <Yanmei> "Yeah. I mean, I think you'd be a pretty great one! You're the extra-cool Avenger, after all~"
[16:56] <Minaplo> ["That's me~"]
[16:58] <Yanmei> "Plus, I bet it would piss your dad off."
[16:59] <Minaplo> ["That -is- a nice bonus…"]
[17:01] * Yanmei snickered. "Think it over carefully? But I know that if anyone could do it, it'd be you."
[17:02] <Minaplo> ["Hmph. That depends on if I could keep your pretty boy and his robot."]
[17:05] <Yanmei> "Robot? You mean the AC Suit?"
[17:06] <Minaplo> ["Right. What, did you mean Isaiah?"]
[17:08] <Yanmei> "Well, I mean, he's pretty, isn't he?" she muttered, glancing away sheepishly.
[17:09] <Minaplo> ["He's too…" She made a weird gesture with her hands.]
[17:10] <Yanmei> "H-huh?! What does that even mean?" Yanmei tossed her head. "You just have weird taste."
[17:11] <Minaplo> ["Don't you criticise my taste. He's just too fairytale for my liking."]
[17:13] <Yanmei> "Hmph. Anyway, we'll be leaving the suit here, and hopefully Mr. Jai will spread his knowledge around and train two or three people to use it properly. In the meantime, I'll set it up so that you two can go on a few dates when no one's looking~"
[17:15] <Minaplo> ["Dates? Where to?"]
[17:16] <Yanmei> "That…" she thought hard. "That's a good question? I mean, Isaiah and I sometimes take walks around sunset, but that can't be all there is to do around here."
[17:26] <Minaplo> ["Man, back in the old days all it used to take was a roasted kangaroo and some sewer brew…"]
[17:28] <Yanmei> "…maybe this cache we're looking for will have some aged beer or wine or something."
[17:30] <Minaplo> ["Wow, that'd be awful."]
[17:33] * Yanmei laughed. She'd sped up a little now, coasting along the border of Demon territory… or the parts of it that she could remember from Albus' instructions. "Whatever it has, let'd keep an eye out for it, okay~? We're probably getting close now."
[17:35] <Minaplo> ["Right. We're sure to find it soon…"]

* * * * *

Day 9

[09:08] * Yanmei woke early the next day, stretching and crawling out of her little nest of blankets. She felt stiff, but cautiously optimistic. -
[09:13] <Yanmei> The previous day had turned up nothing of worth for her and Hermione, but she had returned home to find that her little group had already expanded its territory west and was making itself at home amid fortifications, resource collection, and training. -
[09:15] <Yanmei> Today was a new day, she decided as she washed herself with a small basin of water and then dressed herself. She would stay behind prepping the troops for CQC while Isha took her place beside Hermione. Maybe the two of them would even find that cache, if they weren't too busy smooching each other~ -
[09:16] <Yanmei> Finally, she emerged from HQ, cheerfully blinking in the sun.
[09:17] <Yanmei> …and was immediately greeted by sounds of frightened commotion.
[09:26] <Minaplo> [It wouldn't be long before Yanmei was briefed on the situation by an alarmed Isha and an irritated-looking Albus. Dozens of Saints were rushing into their territory, fully armed…]
[09:30] * Yanmei grumbled. She made the arrangments at once, organizing an unpleasant welcome party and leaving others behinds to guard their Headquarters should the stupid Tigers try to take advantage of this distraction. "At least the Gangers gave us a day to get ready for them?"
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[10:48] <Minaplo> ["Small mercies." Said Isha darkly.-
[10:49] <Minaplo> [They were in a small urban area on the outskirts of the huge Remembrance Park when they first encountered the vanguard. Or rather they heard them first, chanting in deep, ominous voices. Many of the Runners looked particularly worried as the Saints marched in…]
[11:18] * Yanmei had climbed into the driver's seat of the war buggy. It was dissatisfying somehow, and she could already sense the tension running through her men. "It'll be fine?" she assured them. "Stay close to Mr. Jai." -
[11:20] <Yanmei> But of course the AC Suit itself was far from a comforting sight in itself. -
[11:25] <Yanmei> It was no wonder they lost their nerve and fled shortly into the fight, streaming into the streets and going back the way they'd come. Yanmei stared after them incredulously, furiously. By then, she and Albus had troubles of their own, being pinned down by enemy fire in a dingy alley behind what had probably once been an apartment building. -
[11:32] <Yanmei> They returned fire intermittently with the buggy's machine gun with limited results. The hail of bullets that washed over them ripped through parts of the car, and left engine alight and smoking badly. More masked soldiers began to close around them with their thick, scrap-metal swords. Finally, she'd had enough. Yanmei booted the car door open and raced out at them. "Albus! Cover me!" -
[11:34] <Yanmei> And he did, fairly competently, as she slashed and slashed, and drove most of the swordsmen back, and then went for the gunmen beyond them until they'd also had enough. But there were a lot more enemies. Too many, swarming the buildings that metallic glimpses of the massive AC Suit kept darting in and out of.
[11:40] <Minaplo> ["Zhang!" Cried Albus over the sound of gunfire- Yanmei was pinned down by waves of bullets. "We can't handle this heat!"]
[11:43] <Yanmei> "…" He was right. She loathed to admit it, and it showed in the way her brow furrowed her her scowl deepened. "Jai! All units! RETREAT! Get OUT of there!"
[11:51] <Minaplo> [And so they pulled out of the little urban nest, and back to one of their temporary bases- an old, damaged but still faintly glorious war shrine.-
[11:51] <Minaplo> [Isha's suit was repairing, Isha himself leaning against the wall. Albus was tending to his injuries, and outside, their warriors were collecting the dead and the wounded.]
[11:57] * Yanmei was trying not to look over at them as she clumsily patched herself up. She'd found a shadowy, closed off corner for herself least anyone catch a glimpse of how badly she had gotten it. It hurt a lot… but it didn't bother her half as much as bodies did. Over three dozen so far by her count, with more being recovered. All under her direct command, no les…
[11:57] <Yanmei> ^less
[12:53] * Weaver is now known as SyntaxTerror
[13:43] <Minaplo> [Eventually, however, Yanmei would hear hurried footsteps as a runner burst into the room. "The barstards are runnin'!"]
[13:46] <Yanmei> "What?!" Yanmei stood up abruptly. "-Who's- running?"
[13:47] <Minaplo> ["The saints, marm! Them fuckers are pissin' off back ter Saintland!"]
[13:53] <Yanmei> "What?" She said again. She frowned. Deeply. "That sounds weird? They're not sending more men after that?" She went to the door. "Let's stay on guard? Do some more training before it gets too dark. We'll stay here overnight?"
[13:54] <Minaplo> ["Sounds good." Said Isha. "We bloodied their noses, but they'll be back."-
[13:54] <Minaplo> [And indeed, a few hours later- as the sun sank into the west- scout relayed Yanmei a dubious message- another powerful force was marching for them, led by the Saint herself.]
[13:59] * Yanmei sent mesaages of her own… toward home and the unclaimed path that rested between it. Their most powerful troops were to assemble in Remembrance Park at once.
[14:03] <Minaplo> [And they arrived, just in time… Not that there were very many, but the Guardsmen that had followed Albus looked very competent indeed.-
[14:04] <Minaplo> [The battlefield was a heavily wooded part of the park around the shrine, with a muddy, swampy river and lake splitting the field in half.]
[14:05] * Yanmei wrinkled her nose. One could tell from the smell that the water was utterly gross and stagnant. "That stupid Saint, dragging us into this…"
[14:15] <Minaplo> [The Saints were cautious this time, staying in the woods mostly and advancing slowly. There was a bridge in the middle of the river…]
[14:17] * Yanmei was much less cautious. They would show her who was boss! -
[14:31] <Yanmei> She and her troops approached the bridge first, gun blazing at the enemies beyond it. Albus and a large horde of Runners remained on the Lions' side, waiting patiently for those who would have taken the swampy path instead of risking the bridge. Only… they never came.
[09:19] <CakeyCake> Bullets didn't actually come close to hitting her. The ex-Parliament Guards who were standing around her, however…-
[10:25] <CakeyCake> "Grr… return fire! Mr. Jai, lend me a hand!" But when he and his own troops crossed the bridge, the gunfire shifted to the relatively unprotected Runners, dropping them in droves until Yanmei shouted at them to get back. For a while it was just her, the Guards, and the lone Isha firing into the trees.
[10:27] <Minaplo> [But it seemed as though this was enough, for after about twenty minutes of continual sustained fire, the enemy's guns fell silent- and they slunk back into the west under the cover of trees and darkness.]
[10:29] * CakeyCake waited a while, tense, anticipating another charge or an ambush… but there were none. Was it that easy? -
[10:31] <CakeyCake> They didn't head back to the shrine until night had fallen and she was confident about the Saints really and truly retreating for the day. By then, exhaustion had set in, and she was doing her hardest not to show it. "Well done everyone!"
[10:33] * CakeyCake is now known as Yanmei
[10:37] <Minaplo> ["Well, we have enough strength to keep them at arms' reach." Said Isha. "But we'll need better and stronger troops if we want to smash them down."]
[10:43] <Yanmei> "I know, I know. I'm working on it?" She rested against a tree and peered up at the clear starry sky. "Ugh. Now I'm paranoid about leaving this park at all."
[10:44] <Minaplo> ["We probably won't be able to." Said Isha quietly, crouching down next to her. "From all reports, the Saints are building up their forces heavily. They'll attack the moment they think we're weak."]
[10:52] <Yanmei> "Then we need to recruit more people and spread them around over our territory. And we'll need to watch the North, too? We managed to secure the bridge across the Yarra river, but there's still the area on the bank across from us to worry about." She pointed, north. -
[10:54] <Yanmei> "If the Saints or the Tigers take it over, we'll be trapped here, with constant attacks from both of them on two sides."
[10:54] <Minaplo> ["Indeed." He clapped Yanmei on the shoulder. "We can worry more about this tomorrow. You should rest."]
[10:58] <Yanmei> "Yeah…" It was dark, at least, making it harder for the Runners to notice the worry on her face. At least, that's what she hoped, anyway. "Have a good night."
[10:58] <Minaplo> ["You too."]

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