The Uttermost King Of The Undying Jubilee

[12:28] <FrontierWarGM> [The Valletta dropped out of the Way at the outskirts of the Past's Regret system, and took in the sights.-
[12:28] <FrontierWarGM> ["Bringing the planet on-screen now." Said Gregory.-
[12:30] <FrontierWarGM> [Past's Regret was a planet of vivid greens and stark blue oceans, of great deserts and plains. But it bore marks of damage, too- the massive storms that roiled across much of its surface, the gleam of its atmosphere, the literal gouges across its continents, huge craters covering hundreds of kilometres…-
[12:31] <FrontierWarGM> [If they'd studied it in any depth, they'd learn of the melted ice caps and the constant flooding across the coasts; the erratic weather patterns that stripped areas bare of life for years, starved of water…-
[12:32] <FrontierWarGM> [Surrounding the planet were thousands of ships, small and blocky, bearing the design of Shrinepath vessels. Standing out amongst them in sheer size and style was an Overseer Dreadnought.-
[12:34] <FrontierWarGM> ["Judging from scans, captain, the Shrinepath vessels are civilian ships." Said Gregory. "And from that I can tell, that isn't Conqueror's vessel."-
[12:34] <FrontierWarGM> ["Do they know we're here yet?" Asked Franco.-
[12:34] <FrontierWarGM> ["Likely, but they aren't reacting." Said Gregory.]
[12:39] <Kayoko> "How'd they get ahead of us?" Kayoko said, looking thoughtful. "… Doesn't matter, I guess. There's no real way for us to get in there without being sighted."
[12:41] <FrontierWarGM> ["I'm not sensing many lives on the planet." Said Idris. "I think those ships contain the entire population of the planet, evacuated. I am… Sensing something from the planet, though. Something else. It feels like the pressure I felt from Zeruel IV."]
[12:42] <Kess> …At which point Kess spoke up. "…Rora said it was a Watcher with him, didn't he? …Ancestral defenses must be running, maybe."
[12:43] <FrontierWarGM> ["I agree." Said Idris.]
[12:44] * Rora nodded. "How comforting a thought. bed of pins and needles"
[12:44] * Liane piped up about then. "… It's imperative that no harm come to the Shrinepath fleet, correct, Captain?"
[12:48] <Kayoko> "It is," she said, a little distant. "But we'll play this carefully for right now."
[12:48] <Inara> Inara's hologram was quiet for now, but calmly listening.
[12:49] * Liane nodded firmly. "… Mission accepted," she replied with a small grin.
[12:49] <FrontierWarGM> [Gregory's console beeped. "Captain, incoming coded transmission from the planet's surface."]
[12:51] <Kayoko> "Let's see it."
[13:09] <FrontierWarGM> [The viewscreen resolved into a picture of a poorly lit, but ornately decorated room. Conqueror and Planter, as well as their family, were standing within it, in front of a great gate that looked very much like a slab of obsidian.-
[13:09] <FrontierWarGM> ["Captain Hyuga." Said Conqueror. "We've found the gate to the Library."]
[13:16] <Kayoko> "Pleased to hear it," Kayoko said, leaning forward. "Want to tell me about the Overseer Dreadnought I'm looking at in orbit? Were you followed?"
[13:23] <FrontierWarGM> ["No." Said Conqueror. "Apparently the Imperial Government is unhappy with events in this sector. The news about the abduction of an Overseer by one of your people pushed them over the edge… And we've taken the blame. We've been replaced, Captain Hyuga. We're no longer Sector Masters. Dare I say it, we'll not even be Counts when we return to the Empire."-
[13:24] <FrontierWarGM> ["The new Sector Masters are no friend to us, and have orders to escort us back immediately… With force, if necessary. Unfortunately, it seems we had a spy in our midst who knew enough to tip our replacement off as to where we'd be heading. Our Dreadnought is out there, cloaked, and if everything goes to plan we'll be in and out before they realise where we are." Said Conqueror.]
[13:25] * Liane frowned, but said nothing for the time being.
[13:27] * Rora glanced from Kayoko back to the now-familiar Overseers, but remained similarly silent, managing to keep his AT signing to a neutral grey,
[13:28] * Kess was similarly relatively unexpressive, or… rather, her expressions seemed… normal enough?
[13:30] * Inara had leaned back, her arms folded. There was a faint air of impatience about her.
[13:30] <Kayoko> Kayoko's expression didn't reveal much either, but she did frown very slightly. "Then let's get this done while we still can, hm?"
[13:35] <FrontierWarGM> ["Agreed. Conqueror out." The communication cut.-
[13:36] <FrontierWarGM> ["Captain, there's a dirac-blocking effect emanating beneath the surface of the planet. It isn't affecting the surface itself, so I can place your team there, but getting them out might be difficult if they're within the Library." Said Idris.]
[13:42] <Kayoko> "Then we make it back to the surface ourselves," she said, standing. "Is our support in position?"
[13:43] <FrontierWarGM> ["Yes, Captain." Said Idris.]
[13:51] <Inara> "Well then. It looks like we'd better get ready." Inara also stood.
[13:53] <Kayoko> "Please. I want those on the ground team in the hangar within the next ten minutes. Be ready for a fight, if it comes down to it."
[13:55] * Liane nods. "…. Yeah." Oddly quiet. "Captain. We can keep this from turning into another war, right?"
[13:56] <Kayoko> "We can certainly try."
[14:01] * Liane nods. "Alright." Her own communication cut without a further word, as she was heading to the hangar.
[14:01] * Rora rose to his feet with a nod, giving his robe a prefunctory brushing-off.
[14:02] <FrontierWarGM> […-
[14:03] <FrontierWarGM> [Instead of scattering people on the surface, the team piled into a shuttle, which Idris then shunted onto the surface. It wouldn't take long for them to find their destination: a grand palatial temple, similar in almost every way to the palace on Salvation- albeit in poorer condition.-
[14:06] <FrontierWarGM> [Much of the temple grounds were overgrown with vines as thick as an oak tree's roots, vines of green, but also of bright blues and oranges. Some of these vines were visibly moving, creeping around as though to grab things. As the crew exited the shuttle, they'd see one vine grab a vinet. In a second the vine had slithered rapidly up its body and tightly around the vinet's throat, before plunging into the vinet's mouth. The vinet's eyes were wide for a moment, before it spasmed and went utterly skill. A few seconds later it began deflating, the vine swelling periodically.-
[14:10] <FrontierWarGM> [The trees here grew chaotically, large, twisted and violent. Their canopies were great and thick, falling like curtains all the way to the ground. As the team walked towards the temple, they'd see one such curtain of leaves part, the twelve compound eyes of a six metre long magenta serpent glaring out at them. Its skull became an exoskeleton, framing its face with a short horn-studded brow and a secondary jaw wrapping around the flesh of its first one. After a moment it withdrew.-
[14:13] <FrontierWarGM> [One such tree had a Shrinepath Devoted sitting at its roots, sitting very still. But as they passed it they realised it wasn't a Devoted at all, but a plant with a dozen different flowers, all arranged like scale mail to project a specific image. As a bug fell on one petal, the entire shrub reacted, each flower opening up to reveal sharp tentacles that pierced the bug and pulled it within.-
[14:14] <FrontierWarGM> [The sky above them was thick with a rumbling, querulous storm on the very cusp of breaking. Here and there raindrops fell as the storm's resolve began to break.-
[14:15] <FrontierWarGM> [The air was thick and muggy, and smelled cloyingly of heavy, hot incense-like perfume.-
[14:15] <FrontierWarGM> [Planter was waiting for them on the top step of the temple. "Twiceborn. Kess. Welcome to Past's Regret."]
[14:19] * Kess …bowed gently, though not too elaborate, to Planter. "…So it seems, yes. Rare is… such a lurid ecosystem…" Sometimes an unnatural plume has an unnatural history
[14:22] <FrontierWarGM> ["I believe this planet has two power sources- photosynthesis from the sun, but as the transmatter material is forced into the crust it breaks down or melts and is absorbed by the deepest flora." Said Planter. "Life here is in constant, violent flux. It's fascinating. Perhaps we can share notes later?"]
[14:24] <Inara> "Yes, we must!" Inara was practically glowing by now. Along the way she had stopped by some of the grotesque lifeforms - at safe distances, of course - seemingly muttering complex descriptions to herself. Now she peered at the temple itself. What creatures possibly could be hiding inside that…?
[14:24] <FrontierWarGM> [The most dangerous creatures of all: Overseers.]
[14:25] * Liane spent the whole walk being extra-careful and staying close to the rest of the group. Did the wildlife make her nervous…? "I'm guessing it was not always called Past's Regret," she said quietly. "It's good to see you unharmed, Planter." … For once, she meant it.
[14:27] <FrontierWarGM> ["Most home worlds are named something akin to 'Home', 'Land', 'The Universe' or the like." Said Planter. "As species move away from their origins, they begin adding more significance to the name they give their home. The Shrinepath have a particularly guilty approach to that, and it's good to see you as well, Meier."]
[14:29] * Kayoko ascended the steps, shooting the occasional wary glance at the underbrush on either side. She appeared to be unarmed but for a pistol on her hip, and she lacked the armour some of the others in the party wore. "Hi, Planter."
[14:32] * Kess was, actually relatively well armed and armored, feeling uninterested in anything but the most caution necessary. Though, she wasn't exactly loaded for bear either, just… modestly armed. All the same… "But at any rate, it would seem… we go deeper."
[14:33] <FrontierWarGM> ["Hello, Kayoko. And indeed, we do." Said Planter.-
[14:33] <FrontierWarGM> ["We can talk on the way."-
[14:35] <FrontierWarGM> [He led them into the temple. There were statues here, not as many as there had been on the palace on Salvation. Only one or two were kept properly maintained- others had started to crumble. In one instance, a statue stood in seemingly fine condition, but a momentary convulsion led the team to realise that the statue's arms and parts of its head were cunningly disguised plantlife.-
[14:37] <FrontierWarGM> [But this time they went deeper, far deeper than they had on Salvation. They passed through the empty throne room, and down into a vault deep within the earth… Which led to a hole in the ground, cut out with plasma cutters. A little lift had been installed recently, allowing the team to travel even farther down.-
[14:38] <FrontierWarGM> [Eventually the rock walls around them went from black earth to crystal, crystal that reflected their appearances and glowed with its own strange light. At one moment in the trip, the crystals around them all aligned, and for a moment each person would see an illusory version of themselves standing next to them, formed entirely from the light projecting their images back.-
[14:38] <FrontierWarGM> [Then the crystal walls gave way to artifice, to walls of purest, brightest, straightest white with no seam or join.-
[14:40] <FrontierWarGM> [And then they would land, and find themselves in an anteroom before the gate- a great black obsidian-like creation. Here they would find Conqueror, the other Overseers, a gaggle of Warslaves, four Flying Sovereigns wearing thick battle armour and masks, and finally an extremely fretful male Devoted.]
[14:58] * Kayoko stepped off the elevator, and… promptly glanced back at it, and up at the shaft they'd passed through, exceptionally curious. But quickly enough she turned back to the matter at hand. "Hello everyone," she said, giving a respectful nod to the assembled group. "And hello, Conqueror."
[14:59] <FrontierWarGM> ["Kayoko. Please produce the key."]
[15:00] * Liane regarded Conqueror with a perhaps-unreadable look. "… What will you do after this, now that you are no longer in the Empire's good graces, Conqueror?" she asked, neutrally.
[15:04] <Kayoko> She made a quick flourish with her right hand, and sure enough the key appeared. She didn't hand it over, though, instead choosing to approach the gate on her own, unconcerned by the muscle in her way.
[15:05] * Kess …stood by, though she did shift over towards Liane, to get … it clear that she was listening to her Uncle Of Unknown Removal.
[15:10] <FrontierWarGM> [Conqueror looked at Liane. His plumage radiated an angry, violent vivid purple. "If anything, our path has been made clearer. Before, using violence was but one of many paths, but it seems now we will have to be forceful if it means reclaiming our children." Focusing pain into stone.-
[15:10] <FrontierWarGM> [Kayoko was not stopped as she approached the door with the golden sceptre in hand, although she was watched.-
[15:11] <Liane> "… You still have family at home?" Liane followed up, softly. "Or do you mean 'children' in the grander sense…?"
[15:11] <FrontierWarGM> [Kneeling before the door was an Overseer, hunched over a series of datapads, scraps of paper and other detritus. It was then that Kayoko would realise there was no actual… Keyhole.-
[15:13] <FrontierWarGM> [The Overseer turned to look at Kayoko- and chirped. "Ooh." She leapt to her feet. "Hi! I'm Deliverer-of-Good-News, but you can just call me Deliverer. Nice to meet you, Kayoko." New faces best faces, and the way she said 'kayoko' was to extend each vowel sound out: 'kaaaayoooookooooo'.-
[15:14] <FrontierWarGM> ["I mean my literal actual children- Deliverer, don't embarrass yourself-" Said Conqueror.-
[15:14] <FrontierWarGM> [Deliverer clapped two of her hands together. "Forget it, call me Livvy instead."-
[15:15] <FrontierWarGM> ["Something strange happened to our children- you contrarian bitch- and we've been trying to find out what exactly, so we can get them back." Said Conqueror, shouting over his shoulder at Livvy between explaining to Liane.-
[15:16] <FrontierWarGM> ["I hope you know how to open ancient doors, Kaaaayoookoo, because we don't have a clue!" Said Livvy. "Uppity beast-of-burden-good-only-for-riding."-
[15:16] <FrontierWarGM> [Conqueror seethed.]
[15:17] <Kess> It was at this point that Kess leaned in. "…Some of this is oddly familiar." She noted, starting to move a bit closer to Deliverer. "I myself have an abbreviated name, and…" She slowly moved closer. "How the new personality differs? Or… something like that? Might be helpful." Medicine in unlikely places
[15:18] <FrontierWarGM> ["What do you call yourself, adorable rebel niece?"]
[15:18] <Kayoko> Kayoko's shoulders shook as she tried to contain her laughter. "A pleasure, Livvy," she said brightly. "Let's work it out together, hm?"
[15:19] <FrontierWarGM> ["Agreed. Come on, Conky." Chirped Planter.-
[15:20] <FrontierWarGM> [Conqueror's AT Field shimmered for a moment in raw fury.-
[15:20] * Liane nodded at Conqueror, looking very concerned. "… I shouldn't pry, but I hope for your success. … Perhaps, after our work here is done…" She looked to Kayoko expectantly.
[15:20] <FrontierWarGM> ["After our work here is done, we will go our separate ways." Said Conqueror tightly. "Thank you for your well wishes, but the Empire is a task beyond you."-
[15:21] <FrontierWarGM> [Planter approached Kayoko. "These are the notes we've taken from the ancestral ruins and excerpts we've found. You're free to have a look."]
[15:23] <Liane> Another nod. "Just never give up. I know you can succeed," she said encouragingly, before peeking over to check the notes out.
[15:23] <Kess> A pause. "…Kess. An intentional corruption of 'Questant'." …There was a small coloring of red in her plumes. "…The idea is to improve efficiency of speech in mid-combat comms. Very important in general, but especially in mixed-race deployments!"
[15:26] <FrontierWarGM> ["Do you do the same for your house name too, sweet Kess?"]
[15:28] <Kess> Brighter red. "…Yes. 'Spiro', obviously of 'Spiral', since it's the most poignant word once you render it in the Twiceborn language. Sticks out. So… three syllables is very fast, and about on par with most Twiceborn names. Two if it's just house name, four with most ranks."
[15:28] * Kayoko didn't seem to be rushing to interrupt Kess and Livvy, so she spoke to Planter instead. "How've the place so far? Purely visually?" Even as she spoke, there was the sense of gathering power around her as she prepared something.
[15:30] * Disconnected
[15:32] * Attempting to rejoin channel #frontierwar
[15:32] * Rejoined channel #frontierwar
[15:32] <FrontierWarGM> [15:28] <Kess> Brighter red. "…Yes. 'Spiro', obviously of 'Spiral', since it's the most poignant word once you render it in the Twiceborn language. Sticks out. So… three syllables is very fast, and about on par with most Twiceborn names. Two if it's just house name, four with most ranks."
[15:32] <FrontierWarGM> [15:28] * Kayoko didn't seem to be rushing to interrupt Kess and Livvy, so she spoke to Planter instead. "How've the place so far? Purely visually?" Even as she spoke, there was the sense of gathering power around her as she prepared something.
[15:32] <FrontierWarGM> [15:30] * Disconnected
[15:32] <Kayoko> [15:31] <Kayoko> … and a split-second later drops to the ground quite unceremoniously.
[15:32] * Liane gasps. "… Captain…!?"
[15:33] <FrontierWarGM> ["I'll use Spiro too, then." Said Livv- "OH NO KAYOKO"]
[15:34] <Kess> At which point Kess suddenly turned sharply! "W… what. Captain, don't…!" A rush over. "Moment need to…!" quickly assessing for basic lifesigns. …Chances are she'd find them soon enough. "… …Feedback?"
[15:36] <Kayoko> The shouting would continue for a little while, before Kayoko's eyes finally opened again… at least for a moment before she covered them with her hand, wincing with pain. "… okay. Alright. Don't do that again, Kayoko."
[15:37] * Liane looked relieved, if the sigh of relief didn't make it obvious. "… So… Livvy. What have you all figured out so far before we got here?"
[15:37] <FrontierWarGM> ["I'm sorry that hurt." Said Livvy.-
[15:37] <FrontierWarGM> [Conqueror's plumage shimmered with merriment.-
[15:39] <FrontierWarGM> ["We would've figured more if we had the key to experiment, but we didn't and that's okay." Said Livvy, turning back to Liane. "As far as we can tell, there's something that has to happen with the key, but we aren't sure. The Ancestors didn't like to leave many written records around that we could really do much with, but we've done sketches and photographs of inscriptions wherever possible. Honestly… We don't have any real one-to-one instructions, just clues."]
[15:41] * Liane nodded in acknowledgement, and looked around, studying the room - the shape, the layout, where objects were placed in it, closely.
[15:42] <Kayoko> "… man, you're all pretty relaxed about this. Okay," Kayoko murmured to herself. She slowly climbed to her feet. "Well I'm pretty sure the ghost of an Ancestor just told me most of what to do, in case anyone was curious."
[15:43] <Inara> "Please elaborate."
[15:43] <FrontierWarGM> ["I try to be relaxed." Said Livvy, facade suppresses the truth, "But please tell us."]
[15:47] <Kayoko> "There was a passphrase. Seven words. Can't remember it exactly, but are there any Ancestral phrases of that length associated with these sort of ruins in your notes?"
[15:48] * Kess …had overheard that already, beginning to scour it herself, a small plumeflash of search with eight eyes to cue some assistance being wanted.
[15:56] <FrontierWarGM> ["Maybe? Kess sweet, come help me look." Said Livvy, already spreading the notes out.]
[15:57] <Kess> But soon, she was gathering it together while kneeling at Livvy's notes, paper and electronic both. "…And. …I just realized what those words are." She said, picking up two tablets with one half of her arms, and gesturing with the other two. "…Look, if you work with these glyphs like so, and note that they actually have an obscure 'o-vov' indicator stroke, then you can guess that it's actually not a normal case but high-nominati…" A breath, and
[15:57] <Kess> shake of her armored head. "Names. Special names, names of high pedigree. …Seven names, with a group suffix as well. …What are there seven of, that are that important to the Ancients? …Tribes of ancients. …We need to sign those names with the lenses you found." -
[15:57] <Kess> Beat. -
[15:58] <Kess> "…The only people who know these names now, are the Ancestors themselves. …Or the bearer of one of their souls."
[16:02] * Kayoko scuffed the toe of her boot across the floor, still holding one hand to her temple. "… You're confident that's the right track?"
[16:04] * Liane frowned. "The shape of this room… something about it is unusual, but I can't quite put my finger on it… Rora?"
[16:04] <Kess> "Firmly. There are some linguistic clues that make it clearer but we don't have time to go into a lecture on 1001-level Ancestral linguistics."
[16:05] <Kayoko> "Alright," she nodded, walking a few paces away from the group while staying within earshot. "Give me a moment, I'll see what I can do."
[16:06] <Rora> "…Hm?" Rora snapped out of the line of thinking that had apparently gripped him. "The…room itself, you say?" He looked about, focusing intently again.-
[16:09] <Rora> A few moments passed, Rora muttering breathlessly, and then, "…Ah! Look at the walls, the way they're shaped; they're acting as focii for light." He traced paths through the air with a finger, out from each wall, all leading to a single point. "And from there…" pointing from the gathering spot, to the door.
[16:12] <Liane> "… You're right. Seven points, seven names, seven tribes, seven lenses…"
[16:12] <Kess> A slow nod. "…I was noticing the pattern already, once I had the number to go off of."
[16:13] <FrontierWarGM> ["Seven seeds." Said Livvy.]
[16:13] <Kess> "Yes." Kess said immediately. "It's not at all a coincidence, I'd think."
[16:24] <FrontierWarGM> ["The light seems quite faint, though." Said Livvy.]
[16:28] <Kayoko> "Inara? Could I borrow you for a moment?" Kayoko called. She was moving further away now, towards one of the far corners of the antechamber.
[16:30] <Inara> "Certainly." Inara stopped eavesdropping on the discussion about the light, and followed her lead.
[16:33] <Kayoko> "So," she said, keeping her voice relatively low. She sat on the ground with her legs crossed, her back nestled into the corner. "I'm going to mindscan an Envangelion to get the information we need. She has asked me to make sure you're watching me in case I go into shock."-
[16:34] <Kayoko> She flashed a grin. "Wholly unnecessary, of course. I'll be fine. Still, can't hurt to be safe."
[16:35] <Inara> "That's very responsible of you, Captain. Especially after that last fainting spell."
[16:36] * Rora tilted his head to one side. "…Well, assuming the amount of light is directly related to how unlocked the door is, I would say that checks out. We have yet to utter one of the necessary names, after all."
[16:37] * Kayoko frowned. "Hey! That was specifically designed to bypass psychic protections, thank you."
[16:39] <Inara> "Sure, sure." Inara pulled out a very large medikit, and began rustling through its contents. "Make yourself comfortable and do what you need to. I'll be right here."
[16:40] <Liane> "Just be careful, Captain…"
[16:45] <Kayoko> "Thanks," she said, this time with a less performative smile. She took a deep breath, folded her arms and then shut her eyes tightly.
[16:50] * Inara nodded, waited for Kayoko's eyes to close, and pulled a rather large syringe out of the kit just in case.
[16:51] <FrontierWarGM> […-
[16:52] <FrontierWarGM> [Kayoko felt it, the mind of an Evangelion… The little human avatar throwing a massive shadow behind it, its mind vast in ways that simply belied understanding.-
[16:56] <FrontierWarGM> [Streams of light, ribbons of it, that on closer inspection were memories.-
[16:57] <FrontierWarGM> [As the memories flowed, some would flash, bursting from their stream, enveloping Kayoko, threatening to wash her away on the tide.-
[16:59] * Disconnected
[17:00] * Attempting to rejoin channel #frontierwar
[17:00] * Rejoined channel #frontierwar
[17:03] <FrontierWarGM> [Kayoko found herself staring at herself- not a mental projection, but a very real memory.-
[17:04] <FrontierWarGM> [Kayoko was able to pull herself out of it a little, so she was watching instead of occupying Chii's space. She was able to watch Chii and herself talk, Kayoko leave- felt the jagged little cuts inside Chii's chest as her mother raised a hand to grab a fistful of her own hair and look at it with a mix of anger and shame.-
[17:07] <FrontierWarGM> [Then the memory faded, to be replaced by another: Chiisana's hand reaching upwards, breaking through the roof, no longer a dainty, pretty hand but the long, titanic hand of an Evangelion, a feeling of soaring resolve in every cell of her body, an imperious realisation that she would never be denied again as she looked down on the leaders of the axis.-
[17:09] <FrontierWarGM> [And then that sensation fading immediately, replaced by utter bone-deep exhaustion as Chiisana cradled a pair of twins in her arms, tufts of slick powdery blue hair on their little heads.-
[17:13] <FrontierWarGM> [Fading… Remembering the feeling at the foot of Notre-Dame, the clarity of the sky, the sweetness of the wind and the strange gnawing sorrow within, suddenly crystalising in memories that hit Kayoko and Chii like a shock- sisters, kneeling in front of a throne, their bodies surging with light, before dissolving into ash to blow away on a false wind. Knowing that they never came back.-
[17:16] <FrontierWarGM> [A cloud of muggy misery, the air thick with it, Chiisana staring up at Chiisana, an older, mightier Chiisana- the Empress, who stared at her mother, before turning away, her face twisting with complex emotions. The empress turned back for a moment, softness on her face glimpsed just barely before it crystallised into stern neutrality- "You're still too soft inside for the world that lies ahead."-
[17:25] <FrontierWarGM> [Then… A sweet, heady swell all over her body. Her arms around Makoto, his arms around her's, exciting her- and suddenly cracking, being intruded upon, a memory of something giving way to the actual memory of a man in a cell, a smiling man with sinisterly warm eyes- "… If you're so willing to use that field to control me, then you realise- of course you realise, you're too smart not to- that you're using it to control him. Have you ever given him the chance to love you, or is it just your field? No, no you have not. Try it, and see- for once, just see the truth."-
[17:26] <FrontierWarGM> [The memory fading, replaced by- a corridor, thick with the smell of blood and death, a tall angelic man hovering over a hundred corpses, his body buckling and burning beneath Chiisana's AT Field, the beams- only for the man to throw out his hand, grab Chiisana with invisible tendrils and smash her against the wall with enough force and speed to break nearly every bone in her body. The jagged pain becoming suddenly literal as bones cut and splintered.-
[17:28] <FrontierWarGM> [And that memory became a dozen more of battle, of Chiisana's glowing sword cutting down foes, her Evangelion matching her movements, monsters and angels and men, always poor-bastard human beings-
[17:31] <FrontierWarGM> ["Shiiiii." Came the cry as Sho, her sister, spun her around, a beautiful dress of silk and frill flowing around her, the hem flying and twirling up for a moment as she went. Then a beep at the door, which opened, revealing a man- Makoto Hyuga- who caused Shi's hot breath to catch in her throat. "Whoa, look at you! Is that Sho's new dress? It makes you look like a little princess-"-
[17:35] <FrontierWarGM> [The same man, weeks earlier, taking her through the gymnasium, a checklist in hand. Each time Shi lifted a weight or leapt onto the treadmill or some other machine, she found him observing her closely, his eyebrows knotting together with concentration, which curiously robbed her of her own, her cheeks growing hotter each time she noticed his scrutiny, resulting in an accident which meant he had to carry her and how her heart had beat at that, each pulse of blood growing stronger, each shift of his hand scattering her thoughts-
[17:35] <FrontierWarGM> [The sensation of bone crunching beneath her fist, a young man, Sera de Pteres, beneath her, her foot finding another frail bone-
[17:36] <FrontierWarGM> [The sensation of fluid and glass, of staring out at the world from behind a jar-
[17:37] <FrontierWarGM> [Of her father and mother, watching her-
[17:37] <FrontierWarGM> [Of those same parents watching her, but now she was little, her hair brown, a cake in front of her-
[17:37] <FrontierWarGM> [And the memories suddenly going black- a great ribbon of light snuffed out-
[17:38] <FrontierWarGM> [Like entering a tunnel wrapped around one's body, impossibly tight, except the body itself didn't exist.-
[17:38] <FrontierWarGM> [Wanting to scream. Screaming in panic, the sound having no exit, and only filling your own body.-
[17:38] <FrontierWarGM> [Trapped.-
[17:39] <FrontierWarGM> [Trapped, frighteningly aware, unable to move, memories that went on a million times longer than the others-
[17:39] <FrontierWarGM> [Then the numbing peace of the non-corporeal-
[17:39] <FrontierWarGM> [And then-
[17:40] <FrontierWarGM> [Staring up at the sky, only little again, parent pointing up at the sky.-
[17:40] <FrontierWarGM> ["Moon."-
[17:40] <FrontierWarGM> ["Sun."-
[17:41] <FrontierWarGM> ["Nebula."-
[17:41] <FrontierWarGM> ["Comet."-
[17:44] <FrontierWarGM> ["Cosmos."-
[17:44] <FrontierWarGM> ["Black hole."-
[17:44] <FrontierWarGM> ["Stars."-
[17:47] <FrontierWarGM> […-
[17:47] <FrontierWarGM> [And Kayoko would be back in her own body, in the present, and for twenty terrifying seconds she would be unable to breathe.]
[17:50] <Kayoko> Kayoko's eyes, already wide when she returned to herself, grew wider still. Her thoughts were still fractured, some of them not her own, and this only led her to desperately attempt to breathe and to relax simultaneously. Not helpful.
[17:54] <Inara> Perhaps, in her panic, Kayoko wouldn't notice the sting of a needle in her arm, or the large fingers on her pulse, but they were there. "Easy," Inara was saying. "Can you hear me? Look up. Just focus on the ceiling. You're going to be fine."
[17:56] <Kayoko> It took a moment, but Kayoko nodded slightly and did as she was told.
[17:58] <FrontierWarGM> [And relatively quickly, her body would be brought back to 'working'.]
[18:00] <Inara> And as it did, Inara briefly quizzed her to make sure she really was fine. Did she know her name or what day of the week it was? Where were they?
[18:02] * Disconnected
[18:02] * Attempting to rejoin channel #frontierwar
[18:02] * Rejoined channel #frontierwar
[18:03] <Kayoko> 'Working' was relative. Even when her breath returned, it only came in short sharp gasps for a while. Her jaw hurt terribly, and she could taste blood from where she'd bitten a chunk out of the inside of her cheek.-
[18:03] <Kayoko> But once she worked up the control to speak, she answered the questions quickly and completely, at least after she was admonished for "a shitty backwoods planet with monster plants" not being a correct answer.
[18:08] <FrontierWarGM> ["Good. Then hurry and open this door." Said Conky.]
[18:11] <Kayoko> Kayoko flipped him off without even bothering to look at him. When she stood it was a little unsteadily, but she refused help if it was offered.
[18:12] <Kess> "Invoke the sacred mantras with the staff of light, Kayoko-san, and reveal the mystery of the Great Akashic L… " Kess snrked. "Let's do this already."
[18:17] * Kayoko approached the gate with the key still gripped in her fist. After a moment she raised the key towards the door, twisted the top, and then spoke seven words in an alien language. Her pronunciation was surprisingly clear and confident.
[18:21] <FrontierWarGM> [With the others shining light into the seven lenses, refocusing it towards the door and Kayoko specifically, the words seemed to take on special weight, as did Kayoko, who for a moment seemed to flicker, becoming a colossus within the room…-
[18:21] <FrontierWarGM> [But then it faded, as did the door- into nothingness.-
[18:21] <FrontierWarGM> [Beyond the door lay…-
[12:30] <FrontierWarGM> [It was a great bridge of silvery glass, thrust out from the lip of a cliffside, ending in a hollow, gleaming sphere whose surface flowed and mixed like water and oil, shimmering with light as it did.-
[12:31] <FrontierWarGM> [The bridge itself, though, was like walking across the narrow rope holding up a pail over the well of titans.-
[12:33] <FrontierWarGM> [The cavern they now found themselves in was perfectly round, made of white luminescent stone, smoothed to perfection. The cavern plunged deep, deep enough that surely the bottom of the cavern ended at the planet's core?-
[12:35] <FrontierWarGM> [Carved out of the cavern sides were round doorways, each with a diameter of about fifteen metres, starting at eye level and continuing all the way down. There were 49 for each row, with a full fifteen metre space between each row.-
[12:36] <FrontierWarGM> [Much of the space in the cavern was occupied, nonetheless: by transmatter.-
[12:38] <FrontierWarGM> [Great iceberg crystals of transmatter jutted upwards, expanding in every direction, filling many of the doorways and sealing them completely shut. Some of these crystals had a strange hue, an orange fluid flowing upwards within and over them, like an upside-down river.-
[12:41] <FrontierWarGM> [The reason for this became quickly apparent. Far below them, sealed to the wall of the cavern by growths of transmatter, was a great body. It was humanoid in shape, with four arms, two legs and a head, although completely featureless save for its skin, which emitted a warm yellow light. The body sagged, and the group felt no pinprick of AT Field or presence from it, yet to look on it inspired sudden feelings of awe and a little dread… It was the hollow husk of an Ancestor, glorious even in death.-
[12:44] <FrontierWarGM> [Hovering in front of the body, far, far smaller, was a little red sphere. A Chantry sentry, gleaming with white light as it poured a beam of energy into the corpse so intense that the heat was felt even in the antechamber. The beam did considerable damage, causing rivers of orange fluid to pour from its sundered flesh. As meat sloughed off the form, it quickly hardened, then turned into crystal- into transmatter. This encased the ancestor even more, but also slowly ground the crystalline glaciers upwards into the chamber.-
[12:45] <FrontierWarGM> [Yet it was clear that the sentry's actions were futile. The Ancestral body, even in death, regenerated constantly- not able to heal all of its damage, but exactly enough to cancel the sentry's damage out, keeping them in a stalemate.-
[12:45] <FrontierWarGM> [A stalemate of eons, pushing the transmatter and the lifeblood into the planet's mantle and crust and oceans, giving rise to an accidental kind of life.]
[12:50] * Rora stared at the macabre sight, managing only a breathless, "…How utterly grim."
[12:51] * Kess was… staring more raptly. "…So this… essentially, is the entire explanation of the Devoted."
[12:52] <Inara> "Seems that way." Inara's eyes were riveted on the giant figure in particular. "How did this even happen…?"
[12:53] <Kayoko> Kayoko squatted on her haunches at the very lip of the bridge, one hand gripping the edge with her other arm laid across her knees. "I have a feeling we'll find out," she said There was an undisguised note of excitement in her voice. "Still, we're in the right place."
[12:55] * Liane was similarly rapt as Kess, unable to hide a grimace at how gruesome the site was. "… Presumably it's been dead for a very, very long time…"
[13:01] <FrontierWarGM> ["Billions of years." Said Planter. "Nonetheless, this explains a lot. As a rule, Ancestral ruins well-enough maintained to have a working sentry do not have life on it. The sentries scour planets clean of anything more than single-celled organisms. By rights, this planet should be a wasteland. Yet it isn't. This is why: the sentry has been too busy trying to destroy the body to realise the world is populated."]
[13:04] <Liane> "… So in short, if we mess with it, we'll make the planet uninhabitable unless we destroy the sentry, and doing that would of course cut off their transmatter supply…"
[13:05] <FrontierWarGM> ["Precisely. Best to leave it alone." Said Planter. "Besides, ill fates await those who trespass the body of the gods."]
[13:07] <Kayoko> "If we leave it to it's work it'll probably still be going long after we're gone. Safe enough." She kept watching for a few more seconds, then stood. "Shall we do this?"
[13:07] <FrontierWarGM> [The roof above them suddenly shook.-
[13:07] * Kess nodded her head, though she was ill-at-ease. Yet…!
[13:09] <FrontierWarGM> ["… That would be Sunmaker beginning an attack on the temple grounds." Said Conqueror. "Yes, let's do this. Not that I know what exactly to do here."]
[13:09] <Liane> "… Why is he… does he even have any clue what he's starting?!"
[13:10] <FrontierWarGM> ["She, actually." Said Livvy. "She really hates us."]
[13:11] <Liane> "She," Liane repeats. "She doesn't care about the transmatter, I take it." (Her care for the Devoted was obvious.)
[13:12] <FrontierWarGM> ["She'll be careful." Said Conqueror. "She'll still definitely kill us given enough time, but she'll do it without igniting the planet in a glorious ball of flame."]
[13:12] <FrontierWarGM> ["Hopefully."]
[13:15] <Kayoko> Kayoko frowned. "The bombardment's disrupting my telepathy, I think. No orbital battle quite yet, but let's not push our luck. Come on."
[13:15] <FrontierWarGM> [And so they moved forward, onto the bridge, coming to the shimmering sphere at the end of the bridge.-
[13:15] * Kess shook her head, as they advanced. "…Cold comfort. Let's get going. If I were to guess, somehow either figuring out what the place did, or… activating something…"
[13:16] <FrontierWarGM> [… Its surface was fluid, and one could put their hand in if they so wished. But did people want to walk into it? The Ancestors, it seemed, were not ones for levers and doorknobs.]
[13:18] * Kayoko frowned at it for a second, unusual wary. After a moment she frowned, and formed a plane of AT force in the shape of an upward-pointing arrow which she directed into the surface of the sphere at just above head height.
[13:20] <FrontierWarGM> [The arrow sank through the surface, causing ripples across it, and just barely dispersing enough of the mercurial liquid to reveal that the sphere was indeed hollow- before the liquid reformed.]
[13:21] <Inara> "Huh. Do we… just step into it?"
[13:22] <Kess> Kess slowly nodded her head. …And shrugged her shoulders. "Either we solve this now or we die later." She quipped, and just - raising her own AT Field into a posture of stronger defense - started to just step inside, leading with her weakest arm first just in case.
[13:22] <FrontierWarGM> [Kess's arm sank through- and then in she stepped.-
[13:22] <FrontierWarGM> [And apparently vanished.]
[13:23] <Kayoko> "… ah." Kayoko said. She sighed. "Ok, well, no point letting her go alone."-
[13:23] <Kayoko> She took a deep breath and followed Kess in.
[13:23] * Rora blinked in surprise…but then nodded. "Not much time to waste if we're to forgo disturbing Prometheus, in any case." And with that, he proceeded to follow the others' lead.
[13:25] <FrontierWarGM> [As each person entered the sphere, the comrades behind them would vanish, leaving only those who'd passed through. The mercurial walls would vanish- for them- revealing 49 bridges, each leading to one of the doorways, whilst a 50th bridge went straight down, to another sphere for the row below. Gravity ceased to follow normal rules, and wherever they walked on the inside of the sphere, they were always attached to the ground.]
[13:29] <Liane> "… Fortune favors the bold, right?" She strides through after Rora with a deep breath…
[13:29] * Inara was not long behind the others, peering around suspiciously as she reappeared beside them in this new baffling space.
[13:30] * Kess was turning, herself, to view the others. "Well, that… that was…" A raise of her hand. "You wouldn't happen to be feeling some very untoward physical sensations…?" She trailed off, before looking around. "Is… this the actual 'library', or…"
[13:31] <Kayoko> Kayoko stepped through, and… wavered, looking suddenly alarmed by something. She swallowed hard. "… Did… uh, that do anything weird to the rest of y- ok, not just me."
[13:31] <Rora> "…Hmmh. I could see how this might be somewhat-" His eyes widened in surprise, then screwed shut against something unseen as he pressed his hands against the sides of his head. "…disorienting."
[13:32] * Inara shut her eyes a moment. "So everyone got it. I see…."
[13:32] <Kayoko> "So just to confirm, we can all see inside our own skulls now?"
[13:33] <Liane> "… I haven't tried looking, but…"
[13:34] <FrontierWarGM> [The Overseers entered after- and instantly reeled. Some took it very poorly, whilst Planter, Conqueror and Livvy seemed alarmed but not physically affected.-
[13:35] <FrontierWarGM> [Conqueror abruptly turned and tried to leave, but when he stepped back the way they came… It was only a bridge, leading to a -different- doorway. The bridge, and indeed the door they'd arrived through, was gone.]
[13:36] * Rora snapped his eyes - the two normal, safe ones - back open, focusing intently on their surroundings. "I'm…still kind of hoping this is somehow more metaphorical than it feels."
[13:36] * Inara slowly opened her eyes, again, and began peering around, trying to find something. "I would encourage you to try looking through it, if you haven't already. Very… interesting."
[13:37] <FrontierWarGM> [Inara would find what she was looking for.]
[13:37] * Liane closed her normal, safe eyes for a moment, daring to try and look through the other one…
[13:38] * Kess …tilted her head… before making a soft chirp. "…Then. So be it." She began to concentrate on it as well.
[13:39] <FrontierWarGM> [At first, their new eye would see only brainmatter, but as they stared inwards, they found the brain dissolving into memory- an image of the chamber. Except the eye was drawn to one specific doorway, not too far from here…]
[13:39] * Inara in the meantime, walked over to the door in question and lingered by it.
[13:39] <FrontierWarGM> [It was still like a ten minute walk, Inara. This place is even bigger than you.]
[13:40] <Kayoko> Kayoko had already been looking, but this little vision interrupted her other calculations. "… alright. Interesting's a word for it, I suppose."-
[13:41] <Inara> [Oops. Sorry! Ancestor scale.]
[13:41] * Liane opens her eyes again, looking … troubled, certainly, yet curious, but she definitely moves to follow after Inara. Staying close to the good doctor.
[13:41] <Kayoko> "Dirac jumping's jammed too, by the way. We'll need another way out of here.]
[13:42] <Kess> "That is an interesting and violently unintuitive way to do this." Kess said with more than a subtle note of annoyed yellow plumage. She too, started walking. "…I never did read up on what the deal with Great Ones and square-cube laws was, but given they inherited that from…" She began muttering, seemingly griping at the distance. "…I'm reasonably sure this place doesn't just arbitrarily seal you in forever."
[13:43] <Rora> "…Fine, then. 'Mind's eye' it is." He grimaced, physically bracing himself for the vision that awaited him. And then quietly, a muttered, "gross"
[13:44] <Kayoko> "Can't imagine, so!" Kayoko said, a little too chirpy for the situation. "But you know FAR. For all I know we'll need to turn ourselves inside out and exit through a door in our own brains or something."
[13:45] * Kess began sing-songily repeating the name "Malkovich…" a few timmes.
[13:46] <FrontierWarGM> ["…" Conqueror stared down at the corpse of the Ancestor below.-
[13:46] <FrontierWarGM> […-
[13:46] <FrontierWarGM> [After about ten minutes of walking, they came to the doorway, although Inara was there first.-
[13:48] <FrontierWarGM> [Within was… A simple tunnel of the same luminous stone. Statues lined the tunnel- statues of human height, although of a dazzling array of shapes and sizes and forms, none of them recognised by any.-
[13:50] <FrontierWarGM> [There were rooms off to the side, with more statues within it, as well as diagrams and a multitude of strange artefacts, none of them with any observable purpose- there was a sphere that would turn itself inside out every few seconds, or a wand of stone that would levitate by itself, wiggle around in the air, then disintegrate, only to rebuild itself as a worm.-
[13:50] <FrontierWarGM> [And in one room there were only thirty urns.-
[13:51] <FrontierWarGM> [But at the very end of the tunnel was a chamber, square and flat. Here the walls were plain, save for a few sculptures of the simplest kind of face one could imagine- one with only a single eye, another with only a round mouth.-
[13:51] <FrontierWarGM> [Sitting on an altar in the middle of the room was a perfectly round blue sphere.-
[13:55] <FrontierWarGM> [The perimeter of the room was decorated most unusually. Something had cut a flowing, smooth diagram six centimetres deep into the ground along the edge of the room, decorated with unknown symbols, letters and circles. At the four corners of the diagram, as well as in the middle of the straight edges, large arrows- eight in total- had been cut into the ground, pointing toward the blue sphere.-
[13:55] <FrontierWarGM> [The sphere itself seemed like a mineral, a great dazzling sapphire.]
[13:58] <Liane> "… what is THIS?"
[13:59] <Inara> "A sphere," Inara answered simply. "Or a trap. I'm not sure which."
[14:00] <Kess> "…A thing. But a thing we were directed to." Kess said… all too swiftly, and looked to Conky, to Planter, Livvy. "I trust my family knows what must be done if we are the only scientists and Seers alike left in a room with unknown inscriptions, mm?" Let us know what speaking must be done, and make it Good.
[14:03] <Rora> "…All the arrows do seem a tad obvious, but it must be important to some degree." He squinted at the azure orb, trying to search out any details on AT or inner-eye levels.
[14:04] <FrontierWarGM> [AT-wise, Rora felt… Something. Not an AT Field, but something coming from the sphere.-
[14:04] <FrontierWarGM> [The Inner Eye would stare at nothing but the sphere.]
[14:05] <Liane> "Could be both," Liane quipped back at Inara.
[14:14] * Rora let out a pleasantly surprised "hmm", unconsciously floating closer to the sphere. "deep oasis"
[14:14] <Inara> "Well… let's be honest here, it probably is," Inara agreed.
[14:15] <Kess> "…Honestly this seems like. …" Kess paused. "Conqueror, nobody… has entered here since the Ancestors did until now, right…?"
[14:17] * Kayoko tapped her foot, arms folded. "The eye seems pretty intent on it," she said thoughtfully. "… my instinct is that it needs to be observed. One person to an arrow, maybe?"
[14:17] <FrontierWarGM> ["Correct." Said Conqueror to Kess. "And indeed, that is one theory."]
[14:18] <Kess> "…Reasonable, then. I just realized that there were all those personality changes. Just. Caution." …And yet, Kess went ahead and did as Kayoko suggested, sidling over to a more distant arrow.
[14:18] <FrontierWarGM> [Rora crossed the engraving just before Kess did.-
[14:19] <FrontierWarGM> [The sphere seemed to glow a little, casting a shadow on the back wall.-
[14:20] <FrontierWarGM> [The shadow spread like lightning, filling the entire room, heedless of the rules of light.-
[14:22] <FrontierWarGM> [As the shadows spread, they turned into points like spearheads, shooting toward the shadows Rora and Kess cast on the walls and the ground. A second before impact the shadows leapt off the wall, ending with points a mere milimeter away from Rora and Kess's throats, hearts, stomachs, knees, elbows and eyes.-
[14:22] <FrontierWarGM> [The shadow grew darker.-
[14:22] <FrontierWarGM> [Darker. Now deep and runny like a black ink.-
[14:22] <FrontierWarGM> [The ink oozed into the stone faces etched into the wall-
[14:22] <FrontierWarGM> [Which started to move.-
[14:23] <FrontierWarGM> [The eye-face focused on the group, whilst the mouth face began to sway back and forth. But when the creature spoke, it wasn't with sound, but with a voice that rasped against the very edges of the mind.-
[14:24] <FrontierWarGM> ["Welcome to my tomb." It said, in a voice languid and heavy, like a low, strangely bitter syrup pouring into their ear-channels.]
[14:25] <Kess> "…This is inauspicious." Kess said with the absolute minimum of irony to make the sentence functional. Stepping on one's own grave.
[14:26] <Kayoko> Kayoko didn't move, although her eyes bounced back and forth between Kess and Rora. She turned her attention to Eye-face, though, and made a guess. "Hello," she offered, giving a small bow.
[14:27] * Liane visibly cringed, and largely just gave Rora and Kess a 'what did you do' kind of stare, while leaving the actual face-ing to the captain.
[14:28] * Rora practically froze where he floated, breathing in the slowest, most imperceptible manner he could manage. His gaze had reflexively shifted to the eye-face, and he didn't dare look at the razor-sharp shadows now for fear of provoking them.
[14:29] * Kess quickly changed her plumage. Speeding this along. Surprisingly impetuous of her, and the indigo notes of shame made it pretty clear what she thought of herself. "…Yes, hello."
[14:29] <FrontierWarGM> ["Hello."-
[14:31] <FrontierWarGM> ["Why are you here?" asked the voice. "Your souls-spirits-animae read familiar, but you are no Speaker-jailer-overthrower, here to secure my tomb. You are… Droplets on the rain cloud of the victor-ones."-
[14:31] <FrontierWarGM> ["Very auspicious. My… Lucky day."]
[14:37] <Kayoko> "We're researchers," Kayoko said, unfolding her arms and taking a few careful steps forward, to just outside the edge of the diagram. "You are one of the Harvesters…? I apologise if we're using the incorrect name, there."
[14:39] * Kess was getting the sense of that immediately. "…It seems like the reasonable conclusion. Given the nature of… every piece of evidence." She said, pausing quite obviously. "The eyes. Your doing?"
[14:44] <Kayoko> "Don't share more than you have to, perhaps, Sergeant," Kayoko said lightly.
[14:44] <Kess> "…Trying to figure it out, but. Noted."
[14:53] <FrontierWarGM> ["Harvester is a Speaker-jailer-overthrower name, we are… The Undying Jubilee."-
[14:53] <FrontierWarGM> ["I am the Uttermost King of the Undying Jubilee. I did not give you the eyes. Why are you here? Say, and then we can bargain."]
[14:57] <Inara> "Uttermost King…" Inara mumbled under her breath. "So he's in charge here?"
[15:02] <Kess> "Or something like, in charge. If imprisoned…" She mused. "Could one really then say that the rulership might be former." She posited. "…But…" A turn to Kayoko.
[15:03] <Kayoko> "We're studying your Speaker-jailer-overthrowers. We were under the impression that this was more library than tomb, so you are… unexpected, let's say," she said, waving a hand. She looked back at Conqueror and Planter for just a second, wary of taking her attention off the shadow for too long.
[15:09] <Rora> "…Hmmh. Unexpected. living tomes amongst the dead" he said, finally finding his voice as words from a Chantry long ago echoed in his mind.
[15:36] <FrontierWarGM> ["Speaker-jailer-overthrowers are gone, then." Said the Uttermost King. "I have outlasted them after all."-
[15:37] <FrontierWarGM> ["The Speaker-jailers bound me to speak only true things and not false things." Said the Uttermost King. "I know many secrets-legends, many answers."-
[15:39] <FrontierWarGM> ["If you want secrets and answers then I can give them. But in exchange, a price to be paid to the ever-lord Uttermost King the one and only and I."-
[15:40] <FrontierWarGM> ["I will give you answers and secrets and safe passage away from here and teach you of the Library and many things." Said the Uttermost King. "And in exchange you will give me one body."]
[15:42] * Liane frowned - visibly - but said nothing.
[15:43] * Kess paused. Paused and held two hands hesitantly, as much as she even could, actually.
[15:45] <Kayoko> "How about you start by letting these two out of the circle, hm? Then we can talk terms."
[15:49] <FrontierWarGM> ["Release them and with them my leverage, droplet." Said the Uttermost King. "We talk terms now, and they stay in the circle, maybe forever?"]
[16:03] <Rora> "…To be clear: you will tell us everything we could want to know? And grant us safe passage away? For the price of a single body." Rora's jaw had hardened, his now-steely stare at the eye-face still unbroken.
[16:04] <FrontierWarGM> ["Everything you could want to know that I have the answer for, yes. And safe passage out of this library-tomb. And for the price of a living single body possessing the aura of the Speaker-jailers."]
[16:06] <Liane> "… and why do you need 'leverage'?" Liane asked, neutrally. "What threat are we to you?"
[16:06] * Kess thought… deeply about this. "Obviously, the cost would be very very high, almost inevitably, to the owner of the body. …And, no doubt, it would be easy to imagine us considering your freedom a potential threat to our kinds."
[16:06] <Kayoko> "Because if they don't have leverage, we have no need to engage them. Simple."
[16:08] <FrontierWarGM> ["Yes, droplets. I cannot leave this circle in my current form." Said the Uttermost King. "If you were to all leave now then I would stay trapped here forever."]
[16:12] <Liane> "… Right." Liane folded her arms, leaving any further thoughts on the situation (wisely) unsaid.
[12:28] * Rora closed his eyes, thoughtful for a long moment…before staring once more at the King's approximate eyes. "Fine, then. So long as you fulfil your promise…I accept this bargain on behalf of all present."
[12:31] <Kayoko> "No you fucking don't!" Kayoko snapped, very nearly taking a step directly into the circle.
[12:36] <Liane> "… You could at least /ask us/ first," Liane offered her two small units of currency. "Of course, we'll say no."
[12:37] <Inara> "I agree. Mist, reconsider this!"
[12:38] <FrontierWarGM> ["Who are all of you to stop him, if that is his choice?" Asked Conqueror. Even his family seemed surprised by this statement.]
[12:39] * Kess …paused, actually. "We who fear for rash decisions having great consequences." …Her plumage went rather uh. Weird, though. Tons of colors, complicated. As if there was… some kind of message? But it was very dense.
[12:43] <Kayoko> "Conqueror, if you want to set another foot deeper into this Library you'll shut your beak," Kayo said, her voice low and furious.
[12:45] * Liane frowned, at Conqueror's question, but said nothing; still, it was probably clear she had an opinion about the correct course of action but, for whatever reason, wasn't sharing it.
[12:59] <FrontierWarGM> [The Uttermost King observed all of this, the shadow daggers remaining still and threatening. All the King said was "Confirm your acceptance."]
[13:01] * Liane took a breath. "… Rora. Are you sure you know what you're doing?"
[13:02] <Kayoko> "Rora, whatever you're thinking, if the FAR had to seal this thing then it's beyond us. Don't. Accept."
[13:03] <FrontierWarGM> [Conqueror, Planter and Livvy observed Kess's kaleidoscope message in silence- the latter two shooting glances at Conqueror, whose plumage had settled into an insolent red colour.]
[13:05] <Rora> A hesitation, a glance in Kess' direction…followed by the slightest of nods. "Confirmed."
[13:06] <Kess> A nod back, from Kess.
[13:06] <FrontierWarGM> [The shadows across the tomb wall moved, like clouds in a swift wind, flowing and fluid. The daggers withdrew from Kess's throat.-
[13:06] <FrontierWarGM> [The shadows swirled around Rora's feet now, and crept ever closer to his own shadow. A moment later, they joined.-
[13:07] <FrontierWarGM> [Rora's body twisted into a no-doubt painful pose- then froze there, suspended. His eyes went entirely white.]
[13:09] * Kess fell back, knowing better than to stay in the place she did. "…Captain, he made his choice. …And some things, even the Ancestors couldn't do. I trust he will not have made a mistake. I don't know why."
[13:09] <Kess> A nod. "But I do."
[13:11] <Kayoko> "Good for you, but I'm done asking," Kayoko growled, fists balled at her sides. The more AT sensitive of the group would practically taste the energy Kayoko wound around herself, energy that then expanded out and began to grasp at the Fields of the others in the room - at least the two not within the circle. Group Synch.
[13:18] <Inara> "Captain?" Inara's voice was low, wary and questioning.
[13:22] <FrontierWarGM> ["Stand by your captain." Said Planter, stepping forward. "We will play our part."-
[13:23] <FrontierWarGM> [With that, the Overseers in the room gave their fields over to Kayoko, granting her their great power- all except for Conqueror, who remained on the outskirts, watching.]
[13:26] <Kayoko> [That thing cannot leave,] Kayoko's voice sounded through the heads of those around her. The power she took, she shaped and compressed down into something like a perfect spear of telepathic force… or perhaps a nail. [And I won't give up my crew without a fight. Please.]
[13:27] * Kess had, actually, pulled back enough to be in range. "…I'll also trust you. Let what be, decide." She sounded uncertain, yet. Kayoko could, all the same, feel her being willing to treat, [I don't know what he has planned either, but I mean what I say. Take what you need, i just ask you not hate him for his choice.]
[13:28] <Kess> The wall in her soul, was able to be wrapped onto that nail, as it were. She was open to synch.
[13:33] <Kayoko> [Thank you.]-
[13:33] * Liane took a guarded posture, and allowed Kayoko in, as well. Watching. Waiting…
[13:34] <Inara> "Hmm." Inara folded her arms, but she didn't resist either. How could she, after all that?
[13:34] <Kayoko> Kayoko was shaking with effort, the pressure in her head building. The nail hung within her mind, suspended and perfect… and then a hammer blow of incredible, focused power seemed to strike it from nowhere, blasting through the fields of everyone joined together like a lightning strike. It was beyond anything any of them could've offered, alone or in a group, and Kayoko seemed to take
[13:34] <Kayoko> the brunt of it, softening its effects on everyone but her.-
[13:34] <Kayoko> This power she held for just a moment, before releasing it straight towards the Uttermost King.
[13:38] <FrontierWarGM> [The bolt of force, both physical and psychic in nature, was enough to buckle the ancient walls of the tomb, walls that had stood undamaged for billions of years.-
[13:39] <FrontierWarGM> [The moment it struck, plumes of darkness began to roil off of Rora's body, darkness that hinted at forms and even concepts. A type of physical shape. Something that could be hit.-
[13:40] <FrontierWarGM> [The instant response, emotionally, was pain. The King was emitting waves of pain in reaction, writhing and recoiling at the pure force that assailed it.-
[13:43] <FrontierWarGM> [The shadows in the room began to recede, even as blood started to trickle out of Kayoko's eyes.-
[13:44] <FrontierWarGM> [Rora shuddered. His pose started to relax, his eyes flickering as the AT Field's force pressed against the King, an instant lasting an eternity-
[13:44] <FrontierWarGM> [The King faltered-
[13:44] <FrontierWarGM> [Conqueror walked through the crowd, put a hand on Kayoko's shoulder, and drove a sigilite dagger firmly into her lungs.-
[13:45] <FrontierWarGM> [As he pulled it free, he pushed her to the ground. The telepathic backlash sent all those connected to the ground, their vision dancing with pain and confusion.]
[13:47] * Liane was definitely doing that collapsing in pain thing, yes.
[13:48] * Kess had practically skidded along the floor, actually, outwards. Trying to get up but… it was obviously hard!
[13:49] * Liane was, at least, trying to get up, even wracked as she was. "… Conqueror… what… the fuck…!" she gasped, between pained breaths.
[13:50] <Kayoko> Kayoko wasn't even able to slow her fall. She hit the ground face first, blood streaming from her eyes and ears. There was an agonizing-sounding attempt at a gasp, but it was more of a rattling wheeze as she sucked blood into her lungs. After that she didn't seem to move.
[13:51] <FrontierWarGM> ["You traitor!" Groaned Planter. He struggled to get to his feet, but collapsed again.-
[13:51] <FrontierWarGM> ["Oh, shut up." Said Conqueror. He wiped the sigilite dagger clean with a cloth before putting it away.-
[13:52] <FrontierWarGM> ["I have questions. That was the deal, yes? A body for questions? getting my bargain's worth"-
[13:53] <FrontierWarGM> ["That was… The deal, yes." Said Rora. Or rather, the King, now wearing Rora's body. The King straightened up, his speech interrupted by constant pants.]
[14:01] <FrontierWarGM> ["First question." Said Conqueror. "My children. Something happened to them. They were observing an archaeological expedition into an ancient ruin, when they disturbed strange artefacts. Containers of some kind. They were embroiled in a dark smoke, and soon after they were abducted by the Ministry of Science. Eternal vengeance for a lowlife theft. You can see the images. What happened to them?"-
[14:03] <FrontierWarGM> [The King closed his eyes. When he opened them, he shook his head slowly in a way eerily reminiscent of Rora. "Essence. The essence of the Jubilee. By partaking of the essence, you become part of the Jubilee."-
[14:04] <FrontierWarGM> ["The Ju- ah!" Conqueror started. "They've become Harvesters?"-
[14:05] * Liane would interject there. "Does that mean /we/ have become …"
[14:07] <FrontierWarGM> ["No." Said the King. "To create the essence of the Jubilee is not to be done by accident. It is great energy, to make one dance as part of the Jubilee. It would be meaningless if we spread it like a pollen, no?" He shook his head again. "Your children are now kin. The gift is small, but it will become strong, stronger still if they partake of the music of others for their own. Their bloodlines are forevermore of the Jubilee."-
[14:07] <Kess> "…" Kess thought for a moment, shaking her head a bit at Liane. But…
[14:08] <Kess> "Is this indeed the Library of the Ancestors? …Word… whatever you call them." Her memory was a bit impaired by the knock, it seemed. "…I would ask how to access more from it if so."
[14:11] <FrontierWarGM> ["Library. Yes and no." Said the King. "The Library is both a place and not a place. Your Speaker-jailor ancestors believed the Library should not exist physically anymore. So they took it and hid it from reality. But, they left anchors numbering seven. Those who visited these anchors and were compatible would take a piece of the anchor with them. When you had pieces from all seven, then you would be free to enter the Library."-
[14:11] <FrontierWarGM> ["By coming to this place, you have encountered the first anchor. It is the eye. It will lead you to the other anchors."]
[14:13] <Kess> A nod, knowing she didn't need to press too hard. "Alright. …Ignoring the uh." A look at Conqueror, then at Kayoko, with a small plumage flash of rashness and pragmatism at once with a note of disdain. "Dramatic actions. What do you intend with the freedom you seek?"
[14:16] <FrontierWarGM> ["Ah." the King smiled. An honest to goodness smile. "Freedom? Seek the sights. Explore the galaxy. In the past I built empires. I will see what remains of the Jubilee, then pass judgment on the interlopers such as yourselves. The worthy will be my vassals. Or maybe I will not. That is the power of freedom."]
[14:17] <Inara> "So… any chance of us stopping you and take our friend's body back?"
[14:18] * Kess seemed to nod. She wasn't super duper happy about the judgement-vassals-etc. thing, but she wasn't livid either. It was sort of believable.
[14:19] <FrontierWarGM> ["Stopping me?" The King considered it. "Stopping me? Stopping me is not impossible. Your friend is resilient, and your bleeding droplet's outburst did much to insulate him. I seek to replenish my stores of emotion."-
[14:21] * Liane growls, slowly pulling herself to her feet, and staggering towards Inara. "… Get up, Inara," she grunted, under her breath, reaching down to try and pull her up.
[14:21] <FrontierWarGM> ["But know, droplet, that killing me is impossible." Said the King. "The Jubilee, when it was greatest, saw me as its King cajole many trillions of vassals into a state of desperate love of life, to the exclusion of all other emotion. It was this raw love of life that they felt, were made to feel. A process that took many rotations of the galaxy. When it was right, I partook of that life, giving me power enough to change the very nature of reality forever."-
[14:22] <FrontierWarGM> ["I wrote it into the core laws of existence: that I shall never die."]
[14:28] <Inara> "No one said anything about killing," Inara said through gritted teeth. She was heavy! Still, she managed to both find her footing and to keep herself from completely toppling over onto Liane by accident. She fumbled with her medikit. "I specifically wanting to know about 'stopping'!"
[14:29] <FrontierWarGM> [The King stepped out of the circle and started down the corridor.-
[14:30] <Kess> "Inara, it's quite possible. The question is." And now she turned even as he walked off. "…How. And how likely."
[14:30] <Kess> "Sworn to told a useful truth still doesn't help if the question is easily answered truthfully and directly… to minimal use, because of the question itself." She lamented.
[14:31] <FrontierWarGM> ["Deplete my reserves. Find someone or something with the power to shove me into that little orb again. That is a way of stopping me. As the coruscant droplet says- how likely? Not very. The time and place of my origin was elevated above you all."]
[14:45] * Inara was too busy tending to Kayoko to make any sort of reply. First she gave her a very quick once over, and then she went straight to the biogel in her kit, applying it freely to the wound.
[14:50] <Kayoko> It wasn't a lot, not really. Those awful wheezes - which had been growing less and less frequent - redoubled, but she still wasn't moving. The best she could really telepathy, and even that was more a jumble of thoughts and emotions than any real words. With extreme effort she managed a brief, coherent message: [Rora, stay (*pictures, a sense of "willpower, strength, force"*) strong.]
[14:51] <Kayoko> ((really manage*))
[14:52] <FrontierWarGM> [The King paused, then looked back at Kayoko. His eyes narrowed ever so slightly, before he turned back and left the tomb.-
[14:53] <Liane> "… now what?"
[14:53] <FrontierWarGM> [The other Overseers would struggle to their feet a few moments after.-
[14:53] <FrontierWarGM> ["We got what we came for. Now we leave." Said Conqueror, striding quickly toward the exit.]
[15:02] <Kayoko> {I will,} A pause. Another burst of effort. {Make you hurt… for this.}
[15:06] <FrontierWarGM> ["Spare me." Said Conqueror. "Perhaps you haven't pieced it together yet, but when this Harvester monarch realises the shape of galactic politics, what do you think he will do? He will wreak havoc across it. But he will most definitely do his best to dismantle the Overseer Empire. He said he was replenishing his stocks of emotions? The Empire has everything he needs: it's large, safe, unprepared for his type of attack and, not to mention, home to many Flying Sovereigns, whose emotions routinely overflow."-
[15:08] <FrontierWarGM> ["I need the Empire in chaos if I have any hope of reclaiming my children."-
[15:08] <FrontierWarGM> ["But brother!" Shouted Planter, who sagged against a wall. "Billions- no, trillions will die!"-
[15:08] <FrontierWarGM> ["So long as none of them are my children, I can make peace with that." Said Conqueror, leaving the tomb corridor.-
[15:11] <Kayoko> It seemed like Kayoko lacked any more ability to respond. She looked at Planter instead - she was barely holding her eyes open, but there was an apparently bottomless well of hatred in that stare.
[15:12] <Liane> "… I understand the way he feels," Liane said darkly. "I'd do almost anything for my girls… Yet…"-
[15:15] <Liane> She gave Kess a look, one difficult to read - a mixture of anger, and self-doubt, and regret, perhaps. What was left to do now? She'd trusted that Kess and Rora had a plan, and … even if they had, Kayoko and Conqueror had fucked it up, and now… the universe would feel the Uttermost King's wrath again. Was that it? Was there anything that could be done?-
[15:16] <Liane> "… Yet I couldn't do the thing I should have," she muttered, as she started to hurry out, after the King, and Conqueror, leaving the others behind.
[15:17] <FrontierWarGM> [Planter's face was hidden by his mask, but Kayoko could sense the confusion from the disordered state of his plumage, showing mixes of deep blue hurt and the wine-dark purple of betrayal.-
[15:18] <FrontierWarGM> [As the exhausted parties left the tomb, they'd realise that they now saw the exit through their library eyes.-
[15:19] <FrontierWarGM> [After a few minutes of quiet, shellshocked travel, they'd soon emerge topside in the great Shrinepath temple.-
[15:19] <FrontierWarGM> [Where they would see Conqueror-
[15:19] <FrontierWarGM> [Pinned to the ground by an Overseer, her foot planted firmly into the small of his back. Judging by the groans, Conqueror's arms had been broken.-
[15:20] <FrontierWarGM> [There was a small group of Overseers, led by the one pinning Conqueror. With them were a few Sovereigns and Warslaves.-
[15:22] <FrontierWarGM> ["There we go." Said the Overseer, staring at Planter and Livvy. "I've been waiting years to get to grips with you meddling, sneaking, backstabbing, shit-stirring, gizzard-hurling cloaca-mites, going to break many an arm, you sons of lizards."-
[15:22] <FrontierWarGM> ["Oh no." Muttered Planter.-
[15:24] <FrontierWarGM> [The Overseer commander turned towards the Twiceborn and Kess. "Hello, Twiceborn, fair and open greeting. You may call me Sunmaker Swordshaper. You have my sincerest apologies for the extreme chicanery you have no doubt been placed through. Allow me to take these cretins off your hands. I've already let one of your companions through. Go with my blessing."]
[15:24] <FrontierWarGM> [And indeed, the Twiceborn could see Rora- or rather, the King- down the hall, staring up at a statue of the first prophet.]
[15:24] <Liane> "… That wasn't one of our companions," Liane replied with a frown.
[15:25] <Liane> "Not anymore."
[15:25] <FrontierWarGM> ["… I see. I take it some terrible tragedy has befallen you, and that Conqueror is to blame?"]
[15:26] <Liane> "Yes."
[15:26] <Kayoko> {Yes.} Kayoko sent flatly. {They're yours. Thank you for the safe passage.}
[15:26] <FrontierWarGM> [{You're welcome. You seem injured, would you like some medical attention?} "Of course it was. We'll deal with him, don't worry."]
[15:40] <Kayoko> {Need to get off-planet. That thing's dangerous.}
[15:40] <FrontierWarGM> ["That thing? You mean-"-
[15:41] <FrontierWarGM> ["There has been a complication." Said the King, his voice carrying easily. "I vowed to see you safely out of the facility below the earth, and thus I have done so. But I intended to do away with all of you now that we are here."-
[15:41] <FrontierWarGM> ["Unfortunately, I have been hoodwinked. Your speaker-jailers forbade me from doing harm to the Library and I now see that includes all of you who went below."-
[15:42] <FrontierWarGM> ["It seems that I cannot physically harm you all directly." Said the King. "Which is complicating."-
[15:43] <FrontierWarGM> [The King clapped his hands together. When he separated them, ribbons of glowing green-white energy rippled through his fingertips. He placed his hand against the colossal statue of the prophet.-
[15:43] <Kess> "Yes. I suppose it does." Kess interjected. "I suppose it is." Her plumage flashed again, but she did not bother hiding its meaning. The end of history. She hoped Starmaker knew what it meant. Even as energy rose.
[15:43] <FrontierWarGM> [{Image of life, feel the spark of life's desire and wake.} "There will be workarounds." Said the King.-
[15:44] <FrontierWarGM> [The green-white energy rippled upwards through the stone statue. A second later, dust fell off of its surface.-
[15:44] <FrontierWarGM> [A moment later the statue turned around and stared at them. It moved of its own accord.-
[15:45] <FrontierWarGM> [The statue charged them, staff in hand. The King was already sprinting towards the nearest other statue, hands crackling with energy.]
[15:52] <Kess> …Without hesitation, even tired, Kess began to bolt forth, jumping through any means of speed she could. "I do not need to impress upon you now that he must be stopped at all costs." The moment we were born for. She had no idea what she intended to do, but with glides through space, she moved to the statue, as swift as she could. It didn't matter what she did, even. Only that it was now or no chance in the galaxy!
[15:54] <FrontierWarGM> [She intercepted the statue. It stopped and, faster than one expected of a stone statue, turned and brought its staff down, just barely missing Kess entirely!-
[15:55] * Liane took a deep breath and broke to run… towards the exit of the temple. Where else was there TO run? "Sunmaker! Get everyone /off/ the planet, ASAP!" … She had an idea. It was a foolish idea, a dumb idea, an /insane/ idea even. One she knew, even if it worked, that she certainly wouldn't survive. "We can use the sentry!"
[15:55] <FrontierWarGM> [A Warslave aimed a plasma cannon at the statue and fired. The bolt shore through the statue's chest- staggering it, but not killing it. The statue's stone wound began to slowly regenerate.-
[15:55] <FrontierWarGM> ["The sentry will turn this planet into glass!" Shouted Livvy.-
[15:56] <FrontierWarGM> ["It seems we've reached the point of triage." Murmured Planter.-
[15:57] <Liane> "If we let him escape this planet he'll turn the /entire fucking universe/ into glass!" Liane countered. "And then all of this will have been for nothing!"
[15:57] <FrontierWarGM> [Sunmaker was already acting. "Everyone, back to the shuttles! No time to waste!"-
[15:58] <FrontierWarGM> ["If there's evacuations, then we need to be gone first!" Said Livvy. "Haven't you noticed? The eyes can track his location. If he escapes, we're the only ones who can find him and fight him properly! Don't go sacrificing yourself now!"-
[15:59] <FrontierWarGM> [The sound of stone creaking. The statue of the prophet was confounded, chasing Kess, but other statues were moving now, marching towards the group.-
[15:59] <Kess> "It'll be worse!" Kess, having just phased back into space after taking a glance from the staff. "How do you intend to do that?! It'll … It'll…" Still facing the statue, floating backwards. Then …turning away from giving chase to the King. Heading back in. "That's your job, Livvy." She said, as she winged back past the group. "I have a plan. None of us has to die… But only come close!"
[16:00] <FrontierWarGM> [The King ran past a wall fresco, running his hand on the completely flat surface. In his wake, the characters of the fresco- battle ready Devoted- pulled themselves free of the wall. They had transmatter rifles- rifles that worked, firing blasts over the heads of the group.-
[16:01] <FrontierWarGM> ["Your plan! Quickly, explain!" Shouted Planter.]
[16:01] <Kayoko> {… Inara, set me down. Help them. I'll only slow you.} Was it possible to pant when you weren't actually communicating with your voice? Because that's pretty much how it sounded.
[16:01] <Liane> "I hope you thought this through more than Rora!" Liane yelps, as she rolls to dodge a few transmatter blasts.
[16:01] <Kess> "Lure the statue into attacking the sentry." Kess said, still soaring. "And already be running."
[16:02] <Liane> "…..I like this plan better than mine!" she shouts, as she gets on that running thing.
[16:03] <FrontierWarGM> [The sound of rustling stone. Much to everyone's dismay, the mythical serpents of Shrinepath history had been given many a statue.-
[16:04] <FrontierWarGM> [These statues now animated. Some sped across the ground quickly. Others flew, despite how impossible that should be. A pair of them, each over ten metres long, now gained on Liane.]
[16:05] <Kayoko> Before she was even done sending, a millimeter-thin plane of force extended from Kayoko's fingers. With effort she swiped her fingers sharply in the direction of the newly animated serpent, the razor-thin plane waiting in the air ahead of the charging monster.
[16:07] <FrontierWarGM> [The serpent slid into the plane without slowing down. It ran right through it to seemingly no effect- before splitting right down the middle a few seconds later, sending clouds of fading green-white smoke into the air. The serpent stopped moving.-
[16:11] * Liane keeps running, as fast as she's able. There wasn't really much else she could do - her weapons were not going to have much stopping power against it, a fact she knew thanks to the Warslave's demonstration. "I'm … not about to … die on this God-forsaken planet in the middle of nowhere… without doing /something/…!"
[16:12] <Kess> All as Kess kept going. "…if we could interact with the life emotion directly…" She mused, yet. "…But, just keep the crowd survivable for the way out, and for the rest of you trying to find him!" She said, still moving as fast as she could, as erratic - hops from obtuse angles, kicking up barriers of transmuted stone-to-surovite. Anything. Anything at all.
[16:15] <FrontierWarGM> [Kess would see the Uttermost King throw sparks of life energy towards a statue, only for one of her barriers to block it. The energy struck the barrier- then dissipated. It seemed that unless the hit surface was in the image of an actual living thing, then it wouldn't work.-
[16:18] <Inara> "Captain! Grit your teeth!" Inara charged, narrowly focused on one of the massive snakes chasing down Liane. She crouched suddenly, bounded high into the air, and came crashing down upon its back, the heels of her boots cracking hard into a spot on the thing's very long back.
[16:20] <FrontierWarGM> [The serpent cracked in half, the back half flopping uselessly before suddenly going still, emitting clouds of life. The head, however, remained animated. It flopped over, turned, and leapt for Kayoko and Inara- too quickly for them to react…-
[16:26] <Liane> … but not too quickly for Liane, who sensed the trouble, and with a shout of "Look out, Captain!", she'd whipped out her trusty bolter and fired a blast at the head, hoping the stopping power would be enough…!
[16:27] <FrontierWarGM> [It was enough to send the head sprawling to the side. It flopped back around, missing a large part of its face, and charged back toward Liane, albeit off-kilter.-
[16:34] * Kess …at this point, had reached the end of the line, seeing the great bleeding corpse, the crystals of transmatter. With a bunch of animated statues careening behind her. With the King in Rora's body, somewhere. The only way to give the King no flesh to move with. "I don't even know if this'll work. What'll happen to him when he's left with no body." She said, over their suit comms. Flying, cresting the edge of the shaft. "…If
[16:34] * Kess there's any way at all to get me out fast, give it. Dirac Jaunt. Entering a Sea. I don't care. Have it ready." Past the edge. Still flying… she looked behind her with a command to the sentinel rig. …Oh that was a lot of those things. -
[16:35] <Kess> …But the Questant had a goal. She had to breach the inner sphere once again. "I'm going." With arms spread like seraphic wings, she bade her AT Field to propel her even faster than gravity would. Down. Down with a whine of air ripping past the powersuit. To this crystal apocalypse.
[16:38] <FrontierWarGM> [But as Kess descended, she would notice something.-
[16:38] <FrontierWarGM> [The Sentry had already stopped firing.-
[16:38] <FrontierWarGM> […-
[16:41] <FrontierWarGM> [A rush of clouds outside as she dropped through the atmosphere. Inside, the temperature jumped sharply for a few seconds, before gradually dropping.-
[16:42] <FrontierWarGM> [She was quiet, pensive even, ignoring the sounds of the cockpit as she dropped. She stared down at her left hand, ran a thumb across the edge of the beat up, scratched, golden pocketwatch. Engraved on the inside of the lid were a series of initials- the most recent, cut with laser precision into the metal, were the letters S.S.G.-
[16:43] <FrontierWarGM> [With a quick jerk of the thumb, she snapped the lid shut and tucked it back into her breast pocket. "This is Sartre-Guillory. I've breached the atmosphere and am commencing bombardment!"-
[16:44] <FrontierWarGM> [The G-Harmony, a sleek, red Superheavy, fell from the sky, its engines sending blue-white engine wash out behind them like gleaming wings.-
[16:44] <FrontierWarGM> [The air around the Superheavy shimmered with rainbow colours, glowing brighter, before resolving into a hard blinding red.-
[16:45] <FrontierWarGM> [Beams of positron split the air, heralded by geometric screams.-
[16:46] <PINGplo> [The beams punched through the roof of the Grand Temple, skewering the dozens of statues and living images where they stood.-
[16:47] <PINGplo> [A moment later the Superheavy crashed through, landing in the hall with enough force to shake it to its foundations. The few surviving statues turned- and charged.-
[16:48] <PINGplo> [An outstretched hand, a thumb running across the fingertips. A moment later, the Superheavy fired five cutting beams, slicing several statues into a thousand neat pieces.-
[16:49] <FrontierWarGM> ["Ground team! Get out of here while you can!" Shouted Suzanne Sartre-Guillory, the Flying Star-Knight. "This area's about to be a crater!"-
[16:49] <FrontierWarGM> [Following quickly through the hole in the roof was a Valletta shuttle, which landed near the now-deserted plinth of the prophet. It lowered its cargo bay.-
[16:50] <FrontierWarGM> [The Uttermost King watched this, his eyes narrowed. THen a second later he jerked his gaze upwards-
[16:51] <FrontierWarGM> [The third and final intruder fell through the roof. A great Evangelion of blue and white, a sword easily as long as the Eva itself in its hands.-
[16:51] <FrontierWarGM> [The King narrowly dodged the blade as it came crashing down.-
[16:52] <FrontierWarGM> ["This whole planet just reeks of dread." Muttered Chiisana Himesama. "Just forcing myself down here took every bit of willpower I've got. Don't waste it!"]
[16:52] <Kess> …That was when Kess arrested her fall. Well. When she saw, that was when. But now she was angling back. "Sartre!" Dispensing the other surname. "Just don't die! The crater… I have no idea what… There's more transmatter than…! Just have an exit yourself!" She said. … Even if, pulling towards her own way out… she was relieved.
[16:54] <Kayoko> {You heard her. Out…!} Kayoko sent.
[17:02] <Inara> "Of course!" Inara braced herself, switched directions, and beelined for the shuttle's cargo bay, still carrying Kayoko.
[17:05] * Kess wasn't that long after, mostly because she was already going… very fast. Very fast indeed. So fast, actually, that even with the power of an AT Field to distort momentum? She just didn't have the energy to come to a complete stop, without first diracing backwards a full jump, while still entering the shuttle! The thud on the shuttle wall was a lot safer that way.
[17:05] <Liane> "Come on, come on!" Liane would be the last one to board the shuttle, making certain the rest of the squad got aboard before boarding herself, providing cover for their entry.
[17:10] <FrontierWarGM> [And with that, the shuttle rose into the air and flew away, followed by Suzanne in her Superheavy.-
[17:10] <FrontierWarGM> [Leaving the King alone with Chiisana.-
[17:11] <FrontierWarGM> ["I took your measure earlier." Said Chiisana. "I can take you."-
[17:11] <FrontierWarGM> [Another swing, which the King evaded- only to run into an AT Field wave. The impact cut his arm clean off.-
[17:12] <FrontierWarGM> [A short cry of pain, before green-white smoke appeared from the wound, taking the shape of an arm. It solidifed- a perfect regeneration.-
[17:12] <FrontierWarGM> [But it bought Chiisana time.-
[17:12] <FrontierWarGM> [Strapped across the Eva's chest were two extra arms. These now unfurled, one of them pinning the King to the ground.-
[17:13] <FrontierWarGM> [Waves of AT energy flowed around her hand.-
[17:13] <FrontierWarGM> ["You were left vulnerable. I have power enough to shove you back into your snowglobe." Said Chiisana. "I know how, too."-
[17:14] <FrontierWarGM> ["Incarnate." Said the King, his voice carrying but not a shout. "You are behind the assault earlier, then."-
[17:15] <FrontierWarGM> ["Not just me. I had help, of course." Said Chiisana. The AT Field pressure doubled. The King's shadow distorted.-
[17:15] <FrontierWarGM> [He groaned- then screamed as black shadowy smoke billowed out of his orifices.-
[17:16] <FrontierWarGM> [A strange tinkling sound filled the air.-
[17:17] <FrontierWarGM> [Chiisana looked up, and faced the source of her dread. The Chantry Sentry.-
[17:17] <FrontierWarGM> [{Forbidden Fruit-Knowledge unification discovered.} Came the eerie, flat voice of the sentry.-
[17:18] <FrontierWarGM> ["…"-
[17:18] <FrontierWarGM> [At the last second, Chiisana raised her hand, putting the King between the Sentry and herself.-
[17:18] <FrontierWarGM> [A blinding energy beam rippled from the Sentry's glowing red skin, incinerating the King, the arm, and a quarter of Chiisana's chest.-
[17:19] <FrontierWarGM> [Chiisana stumbled backwards, collapsing into a wall. "Damned- sentry-"-
[17:21] <FrontierWarGM> [Shadows spread outwards across the ground, before converging on a single point. Rora's body reformed from the convergence, perfectly unharmed. "… Hurt. But, you should leave, Incarnate."-
[17:21] <FrontierWarGM> ["No."-
[17:21] <FrontierWarGM> ["Leave or die here, Incarnate." Said the King.-
[17:22] <FrontierWarGM> ["Plenty of time to shackle you before then." Said Chiisana. "This… Is nothing."-
[17:23] <FrontierWarGM> [The Sentry charged a second shot, and fired- just barely missing as Chiisana dove at the King.-
[17:24] <FrontierWarGM> [The Uttermost King leapt to the side, his bottom half of his body torn off by one of Chii's hands. He landed, bounced, and then righted himself on new legs.-
[17:24] <FrontierWarGM> [The King raised his hands and fired storms of life energy into Chiisana.-
[17:25] <FrontierWarGM> [The energy crackled over her skin, healing the massive injury to her flesh- but only gave her a moment's pause.-
[17:26] <FrontierWarGM> ["Didn't work. Stubborn Incarnate!" Muttered the King.-
[17:26] <FrontierWarGM> [The King bolted. Chiisana pursued, chasing him across the ruined Temple, followed by blasts from the Sentry. One blast missed and smashed through a nearby mountain, burning half of it away.-
[17:28] <FrontierWarGM> [The King found himself back at the middle of the temple, surrounded by ruined statues. With a desperate clap of sparks, he reanimated a handful of broken statues. They struggled and limped back to life, knitting together slowly.-
[17:29] <FrontierWarGM> [Chiisana tore through most of them easily, stopping barely only when faced with the prophet statue.-
[17:29] <FrontierWarGM> [A moment's struggle-
[17:29] <FrontierWarGM> [The Sentry's beam cut through Chiisana's leg, causing her to stumble-
[17:30] <FrontierWarGM> [The King leapt upwards, towards Chiisana's chest. In his left hand crackled life energy, in his right was a simple white mist.-
[17:30] <FrontierWarGM> [He clapped his hands against her chestplate.-
[17:30] <FrontierWarGM> [A surge of life energy. Within half a second, her leg regenerated.-
[17:30] <FrontierWarGM> [The white mist of the right hand seeped into Chiisana's body- then suddenly reversed, drawing bright blue light out of her and into the King's hand.-
[17:31] <FrontierWarGM> ["No-" shouted Chiisana, only to be cut off by another blast tearing off her arms, which instantly healed.-
[17:31] <FrontierWarGM> [The light grew stronger and faster, flowing like water into the King.-
[17:31] <FrontierWarGM> ["Stop it-"-
[17:31] <FrontierWarGM> [A beam cut off Chiisana's head, which again, quickly regenerated.-
[17:32] <FrontierWarGM> [The blue light was fading, becoming paler, until eventually it was simple white- then stopped altogether.-
[17:32] <FrontierWarGM> [The King fell to the ground, landing on his feet.-
[17:33] <FrontierWarGM> [Chiisana stumbled backwards.-
[17:33] <FrontierWarGM> ["No. No! Give it back-"-
[17:33] <FrontierWarGM> [The King spoke, his voice powerful, echoing across the planet. "Leave!"-
[17:34] <FrontierWarGM> [Chiisana froze- then a moment later, jaunted away.-
[17:34] <FrontierWarGM> [The King stood straight and tall, a cold expression on his face as he turned towards the Sentry.-
[17:34] <FrontierWarGM> [It was glowing.-
[17:35] <FrontierWarGM> ["You needn't bother purging the planet." Said the King. "Nothing alive here has anything worth partaking in for the Jubilee."-
[17:35] <FrontierWarGM> [The Sentry ignored him.-
[17:35] <FrontierWarGM> [And so the King danced.-
[17:36] <FrontierWarGM> [As the King moved, shadows, so many shadows, sprang up around him, shrouding him, spinning like spider's silk, turning from black to brightest blue.-
[17:36] <FrontierWarGM> [Within a few seconds, the King was cocooned within a sleek, aerodynamic vehicle made of purest pride.-
[17:37] <FrontierWarGM> [The vessel took off, darting out of the atmosphere within a second.-
[17:37] <FrontierWarGM> [A minute later, the Sentry unleashed its cleansing wave.-
[17:37] <FrontierWarGM> [And the planet of Past's Regret died.-
[17:37] <FrontierWarGM> […-
[17:38] <FrontierWarGM> [The Valletta shuttle had just arrived home when Chiisana's avatar appeared in the hangar.-
[17:38] <FrontierWarGM> [She stood there, eyes wide, mouth open- before collapsing to her knees. Tears ran down her cheeks. She pounded at the deck beneath her, leaving dents in the metal.-
[17:39] <FrontierWarGM> ["My pride-" She gasped through her sobs. "He took it- he took all of it-"]
[17:48] <Kess> "…" -
[17:49] * Kess had no way to even respond to that, if she had to be honest. She knew they could take emotions, already. Make things out of them. …Wonderful, terrible things. …What did it even mean to be without pride? How did someone regenerate this? Did they? … … -
[17:50] * Kess passed as far as she did in silence. But silence only in words. At the least, the plumage she showed through the armor she wore, said enough that words weren't polite to. -
[17:57] <Kess> In blue. It is raining. In sky blue troubled by grey. The first storm. She was standing there, maybe looking stupid for doing so, but making a poem of images, of colors. Because there was something sacred in that pain she could not break with sound. wind. curses. sorrow. Painted in darts of black, which shifted… Every feeling in a rainbow. Lost. But as the colors almost looked dead - Depression unfeeling darkness
[17:57] <Kess> nothing emptiness
- …a small point of white started at her highest plume, on her head, and shone down. Hope. It shone, and flickered as a halo of that golden white shone around the black plumes. The dawning of the enlightened maker at the end of all things. It somehow said. At the end was the beginning and in the beginning is the end and all cycles. A pause, where that image held, as she slowly - as if anything but her
[17:57] <Kess> approach to the grieving avatar was frozen. She didn't get close enough to touch, only to crouch down. The plumes shone now, red. Passion, rage, love. And the smallest glimmer of a too-pure white. Humility, patience. A pause, as one final ripple went out the sign of hatching alone with all you may dance with, gone pause. but dancing anyway. Crouched down, she finally had words. -
[17:58] <Kess> - "I'm sorry."
[17:59] <Kayoko> Kayoko was there a moment later, a dirac jaunt removing her from the shuttle even though the effort left her gasping in pain, the blood around her eyes and ears redoubling. She couldn't stand, but she knelt beside Chiisana, an arm around her shoulders, speaking in a ragged, agonizing whisper.-
[17:59] <Kayoko> None of it helped, and nothing would; that became obvious quickly. Those close enough would see the panic begin to set in on Kayoko's face, amid the whispers and apologies. Finally she looked up at the ceiling. {MOVE US} she sent, not bothering to modulate the volume, struggling just to get enough power. A moment later the both of them vanished.
[18:01] <Liane> With the two of them gone, Liane offered her own thoughts to Kess. "… It's … better to lose one's pride than one's life…" Beat. "… Thanks, Kess."
[18:24] <Inara> Inara stood slightly apart, frowning and rubbing her arms a bit. Processing all of this was slow; she hadn't even started on offering proper condolences until a split second or so after the pair had vanished. How had it all gone so badly? "So… we're alive. Most of us." She shook her head. "What the hell happens now?"
[18:26] <FrontierWarGM> ["I don't know." Said Idris, appearing near the shuttle. "But whatever it is, we, and the whole Federation, will have to be at our best for it."-
[18:27] <FrontierWarGM> ["Will it be enough?" Asked Tran, her hologram peering out of the shuttle.-
[18:27] <FrontierWarGM> [Idris eyed the spot where, a moment ago, Kayoko and Chiisana had sat.-
[18:27] <FrontierWarGM> ["It will have to be."-
[18:27] <FrontierWarGM> […-
[18:32] <FrontierWarGM> [Conqueror slunk down the alley. Eyes straight ahead, senses spread. He felt them closing in.-
[18:33] <FrontierWarGM> [The urban tangle ahead of him should've given him more cover, but the hunters closed in unerringly.-
[18:33] <FrontierWarGM> [He turned a corner- into a dead end.-
[18:33] <FrontierWarGM> [He paused. He ran his hand through his robes, and found something small. A tracker. With one violent jerk he tore it free and crushed it.-
[18:34] <FrontierWarGM> [Not that it helped.-
[18:36] <FrontierWarGM> [There were three of them. A Sovereign, a Scumslinker and an Oisorreat raider- a large spiderlike chameleon creature with four heads.-
[18:36] <FrontierWarGM> ["Cornered, maskless one." Said the Scumslinker.-
[18:37] <FrontierWarGM> [And indeed, Conqueror was maskless, his face bare and revealed, only a flimsy hood hiding its top.-
[18:38] <FrontierWarGM> ["Have I done something to offend you all?" Said Conqueror idly. "Or are you the next wave of seemingly endless assassins sent my way courtesy of the House of Grasping-the-Spiral-Truths?"-
[18:39] <FrontierWarGM> ["Simpler than that. Maskless don't have rights. Make very profitable slaves. Who hasn't wanted to enslave an Overseer?" Said the Scumslinker.-
[18:41] <FrontierWarGM> ["Then you don't know who I am." Said Conqueror. "I am the Conqueror-of-the-Last-Frontier, formerly of the House of Grasping-the-Spiral-Truths. I was once an Archprince, and in the name of saving my children I risked everything. I made a deal with a devil, and for that I was exiled to the same frontier I am supposed to conquer, forced to go from planet to station to planet, maskless, without name, with no legal protections."-
[18:43] <FrontierWarGM> [Conqueror took a plasma sword emitter out of his robe. "But if you think my story ends in chains to some Scumslinker still wet with cloning gel, then you're wrong."-
[18:45] <FrontierWarGM> ["We sit on the brink of an era of chaos beyond any in history." Said Conqueror. "An era of my creation, to be bent to my will, for the greatest prize of all- an empire, and a dynasty."-
[18:46] <FrontierWarGM> [He flared the blade to life and raised it in front of him in salute.-
[18:46] <FrontierWarGM> [The Scumslinker gestured- and the bounty hunters charged.-
[18:46] <FrontierWarGM> […-
[18:47] <FrontierWarGM> [The Ironblood Admiral stood at the window. "The entire planet's surface, turned to desert?"-
[18:48] <FrontierWarGM> ["Correct." Said Ilmasidra, hands tucked into their robes. "We've seen this happen before, but usually only on planets already barren. For a habitable, thriving- kind of- planet to be laid waste like this is unprecedented."-
[18:49] <FrontierWarGM> [The Ironblood Admiral's eyes never left the sight below- the planet Symphonia, backlit by a million glowing stars. "Could the Overseers have weaponised the ruins?"-
[18:51] <FrontierWarGM> ["Possible but doubtful." Said Ilmasidra. "Unless the Overseers have cracked some fabulous secret, the ruins of the Starlit Ones remain grouchy. Usually one doesn't have enough time to study them before the sentries turn hostile."-
[18:52] <FrontierWarGM> ["I see." Said the Ironblood Admiral. "And the Discordian?"-
[18:53] <FrontierWarGM> ["The trail goes cold." Said Ilmasidra. "We know she entered Shrinepath space, but past that she's gone to ground. I traced her to a Scumslinker corporate base-station, but bounty hunters fouled up my pursuit."-
[18:54] <FrontierWarGM> ["Unfortunate. Notify me the soon as anything changes, Dragon Sorcerer." Said the Ironblood Admiral.-
[18:56] <FrontierWarGM> ["I will. For now, though, I want to abandon my search for the Discordian and work on establishing more formal ties with the Twiceborn Federation." Said Ilmasidra. "They took me by surprise. When I travelled to their homeworld in the past, their technology was late machine age, their planet divided politically… Since then they've gone from your average Wildflower basket case to a species with abilities surpassing any Orchid we've ever seen. It's strange… And a little concerning."-
[18:57] <FrontierWarGM> ["I agree." Said the Ironblood Admiral. "The Overseers are starting to gain their measure. If I were Prime Minister Aura, I would move to eradicate them before they could spread much farther than they already have."-
[18:59] <FrontierWarGM> ["It's strength that we could sorely use." Said Ilmasidra. "The Defectors no doubt thought this too, but if we could form alliances with them, act as their mentor in the greater galactic scene, then the Symphonian Coalition would gain a powerful ally."-
[19:00] <FrontierWarGM> ["Yes. And help shore up our support for our mandate in the Compact of Free States." Said the Ironblood Admiral. He raised a hand of battleship grey and rubbed his face.-
[19:00] <FrontierWarGM> ["Trouble, Ironblood?" Asked Ilmasidra.-
[19:02] <FrontierWarGM> ["Instincts, Ilmasidra. Nothing more than instincts." Said the Ironblood Admiral. "The Overseers are becoming belligerent. A corner of the galaxy we thought insignificant has shown to be hiding more than its fair share of incredible secrets. The rhetoric around the Refuser Systems is becoming ever more intense. I can't put my finger on it, but it feels as though we're hurtling toward an abyss."-
[19:02] <FrontierWarGM> […-
[19:03] <FrontierWarGM> [Chancellor Zhang Yanmei tapped her fingers against her wrist quickly, automatically.-
[19:04] <FrontierWarGM> ["So! Our pioneering warship goes off with some crazy Overseers, glasses the homeworld of our nearest neighbour and unleashes an ancient horror spoken of only in legends on the galaxy?" She said, her tone dripping in scorn.-
[19:05] <FrontierWarGM> ["That appears to be the measure of it, Lady Zhang, yes." Said Prime Minister Kourosh Rustami.-
[19:06] <FrontierWarGM> ["And our oldest and most reliable Evangelion has come back with a whole wing of her emotional spectrum torn out of her by that horror too, huh?" Said Zhang.-
[19:06] <FrontierWarGM> ["So it seems, my lady." Said Rustami.-
[19:11] <FrontierWarGM> ["And even though they all definitely deserve it, I can't see the culprits court martialled into the deepest pits of Asgard for… What reason?"-
[19:12] <FrontierWarGM> ["Judging from our reports, it seems as though the Harvester is bound by certain rules." Said Rustami. "one of those rules is an inability to directly harm parts of the Ancestral Library which, due to its nature, is now part of the Valletta Strike Team and its captain."-
[19:14] <FrontierWarGM> ["And that same fragment of the Library is apparently attuned to the Harvester's location, allowing them to track the Harvester through metaphysical means." He continued.-
[19:17] <FrontierWarGM> ["So in summary, we can't punish them too bad because they're also the ones most qualified to clean up the damn mess." Said Yanmei with a sigh. "Why is it always something like that? 'We can't imprison this guy because otherwise the Soviets will riot'. 'We can't slap that one in prison because we need her Eva'. 'Oh, we could kick his ass, but if we do, we probably wipe out humanity'!"-
[19:19] <FrontierWarGM> ["You benefitted from that attitude too." Said Rustami.-
[19:19] <FrontierWarGM> ["So did you!" Said Zhang.-
[19:20] <FrontierWarGM> ["Not as much as you did." Said Rustami. "Besides, like you could bring yourself to jail Kayoko."-
[19:21] <FrontierWarGM> ["I wouldn't have much of a choice." Said Zhang, sighing. "I mean, I don't think I've ever been so angry with her? Or angry with anyone, but I also… Know it's not entirely her fault. But there's still enough murkiness around that people would ask a lot of rude questions if she got off too lightly."-
[19:21] <FrontierWarGM> ["But. Best hope to catch the Harvester." Said Rustami.-
[19:22] <FrontierWarGM> ["I know, I know." Said Zhang.-
[19:22] <FrontierWarGM> [Zhang's comms beeped.-
[19:22] <FrontierWarGM> [She eyed it. She groaned. "Oh no."-
[19:22] <FrontierWarGM> ["Asuka, huh?" Said Rustami.-
[19:23] <FrontierWarGM> ["Asuka." Said Zhang grimly. "Probably has lots of questions about losing one of her Guardians. Even though it was probably his fault."-
[19:24] <FrontierWarGM> ["I'll take my leave, then." Said Rustami. "I'll work on making the whole Valletta situation palatable. And see what we can to make sure it's properly equipped for the trouble ahead."-
[19:26] <FrontierWarGM> ["They'll probably be going into foreign territory a lot." Said Zhang. She ignored the comms. "Find a replacement for Mist? But also, we need a dignitary on board. Someone we can trust to put their best, peaceful foot forward, but also someone with experience in diplomacy and politics."-
[19:26] <FrontierWarGM> ["I already have someone in mind." Said Rustami.-
[19:26] <FrontierWarGM> ["Good." Said Zhang. "Now, go and let me answer this."-
[19:27] <FrontierWarGM> [Rustami rose and left, closing the door just as the comm was answered- to the sound of shouting.-
[19:27] <FrontierWarGM> [He took out his own personal comms, and scrolled through its contact list. He found the entry he was looking for and tapped it.-
[19:29] <FrontierWarGM> [A few seconds later, his call was answered. "This is Councillor Minerva Linden speaking."-
[19:29] <FrontierWarGM> […-
[19:33] <FrontierWarGM> [Great Priestess Vlui sat in her office. Pictures of the homeworld lay in front of her. The continents had been burned clean, reduced to ash and sand. The oceans had evaporated, and were now thickening the atmosphere and blanketing the planet in terrible storms. Most of the planet's tectonics had gone berserk, leading to super-eruptions that blanketed the planet in a volcanic winter.-
[19:36] <FrontierWarGM> [It was a disaster. The loss of actual life was low, practically nil. But the loss of the homeworld, seemingly unrecoverably, was a catastrophic blow to the morale and very identity of the Dominion of the Shrinepath Devoted.-
[19:37] <FrontierWarGM> [But, forced to think of the fundamentals, she also had to acknowledge that she had no idea when the chaotic storms and chaos on the planet would settle down. Until then…-
[19:37] <FrontierWarGM> [No new transmatter would be mined.-
[19:39] <FrontierWarGM> [The war effort, the economy- all threatened.-
[19:39] <FrontierWarGM> [It would've been enough to completely scupper the infant alliance with the Twiceborn.-
[19:39] <FrontierWarGM> [… If there hadn't been a far more palatable target to blame.-
[19:39] <FrontierWarGM> ["So you're sure you want to take the blame for this?" Asked Vlui.-
[19:42] <FrontierWarGM> ["I said that already!" Said Sunmaker. "I hate repeating myself. I, on behalf of the Empire, take blame for the mass destruction of your homeworld. We also apologise for our meddling in your internal affairs, of which at least some was unsanctioned by the Imperial Government. Take this opportunity to repair your civil war."-
[19:43] <FrontierWarGM> ["Why so generous?" Said Vlui.-
[19:44] <FrontierWarGM> [Sunmaker rubbed her mask in frustration. "We don't want to be entangled in this mess anymore. We want out. We also don't like making a habit of turning planetary surfaces to glass! If we did, trust me, people would know! That's why we use virus bombs!"-
[19:45] <FrontierWarGM> ["I see." Said Vlui slowly. "You understand why I feel reluctant to trust your motives?"-
[19:46] <FrontierWarGM> ["Yes-s-s-s." Said Sunmaker, her plumage shimmering between red and white quickly. "Please. I am trying to be respectful. But I am also sure I explained all of this and am unsure why I am here explaining it again."-
[19:47] <FrontierWarGM> ["Then don't let me detain you, Sector Master." Said Vlui.-
[19:49] <FrontierWarGM> ["Very well. Good fortune to you and yours. Princess Sunmaker out."-
[19:49] <FrontierWarGM> [The comm window faded. Vlui leaned back in her chair.-
[19:52] <FrontierWarGM> ["Convenient." Said Russkra.-
[19:53] <FrontierWarGM> ["Very." Said Vlui. She took a little thimble-like device out of a pocket and ran it over her claws.-
[19:54] <FrontierWarGM> [Russkra eyed the device, before letting out a grunt of derision. "So we're set on moving closer to the Federation?"-
[19:55] <FrontierWarGM> ["So it seems. Our economy's going to suffer, and we need their military assets. Part of why I don't trust this stunt by the Overseers- if they pushed the point, they could likely blame the Federation for the destruction of Past's Regret, drive a wedge. But instead they're just giving up and going home." Said Vlui. "Strange people."-
[19:57] <FrontierWarGM> ["Very." Said Russkra. "The Federation can take advantage of this, too."-
[19:57] <FrontierWarGM> ["Oh?"-
[19:58] <FrontierWarGM> ["According to what I've been told, they possess the power to terraform planets on a massive scale." Said Russkra. "The very first planet they colonised used to be a barren wasteland with no atmosphere. Now it's a paradise."-
[20:01] <FrontierWarGM> ["So you're saying they'll offer to terraform it, then?" Asked Vlui.-
[20:01] <FrontierWarGM> ["That's my suspicion."-
[20:01] <FrontierWarGM> ["Mm."-
[20:01] <FrontierWarGM> ["Keep me informed. We need to know what the Federation plans on doing now." Said Vlui.-
[20:02] <FrontierWarGM> ["Until we know exactly what's happening and what's going to happen, there's only so far I'm willing to trust this alliance."-
[20:02] <FrontierWarGM> […-
[20:05] <FrontierWarGM> [The Flying Sovereign colony had been here for a few decades, now.-
[20:06] <FrontierWarGM> [There were plenty of these 'free' colonies throughout the galaxy, mostly founded in the patrimony of foreign powers. Rarely numbering more than ten thousand, most colonies collapsed due to various pressures, its populations splitting or moving on.-
[20:07] <FrontierWarGM> [This colony, however, was stable and prosperous. It was populated mostly by freeborn Sovereigns, as opposed to the escaped slaveborns that made up most other colonies.-
[20:08] <FrontierWarGM> [And yet the colony didn't have a name.-
[20:08] <FrontierWarGM> [There was rarely a point in naming colonies considering their average longevity, and old habits die hard.-
[20:08] <FrontierWarGM> [Nonetheless, this colony was special.-
[20:18] <FrontierWarGM> [One of the Flying Sovereigns in this colony was young, talented and furiously proud. His name was Volcanomaster.-
[20:19] <FrontierWarGM> [Volcanomaster was special because, whilst the Flying Sovereigns did not put stock much in bloodlines, his ancestors, all those centuries ago, had been counted as the final Kings of the Flying Sovereigns.-
[20:20] <FrontierWarGM> [In times of great despair and heartache, the Sovereigns had spread stories of how a scion of the last Kings would unite the Flying Sovereigns, destroy the Overseers and rebuild the Kingdom of the Sovereigns.-
[20:22] <FrontierWarGM> [This prophesied saviour, it is said, would have great talents, the ability to achieve enlightenment, and the pride and fury worthy of a volcano. Volcanomaster's parents had deliberately attempted to invoke the prophecy when he had been born.-
[20:22] <FrontierWarGM> [It was to this colony that the Uttermost King arrived.-
[20:23] <FrontierWarGM> [The Uttermost King waited at the gates, telling the guards that he wished to speak with the young lord. When the guards let him through, he went to the mansion Volcanomaster called home- its size and obvious wealth a reflection of Volcanomaster's life efforts.-
[20:24] <FrontierWarGM> [The King was allowed inside. There, he met Volcanomaster. Tall and strong, eyes burning like fires, his fur a fiery orange-red.-
[20:24] <FrontierWarGM> [The Uttermost King bowed as he entered. "Praise to you, young lord of the Flying Sovereigns."-
[20:25] <FrontierWarGM> ["You show proper deference." Said Volcanomaster. "But you are new to this colony. You didn't come here just to praise me, stranger. Tell me what you want! Quickly!"-
[20:27] <FrontierWarGM> ["It is not about what I want, young lord, but what you want." Said the King. "You can call me Rora Mist. I have come with an offer."-
[20:27] <FrontierWarGM> ["Out with it."-
[20:27] <FrontierWarGM> [The King smiled. "I would like to help you conquer the Overseer Empire."-
[20:27] <FrontierWarGM> [Volcanomaster was silent.-
[20:27] <FrontierWarGM> [But his eyes were already greedily gleaming.-
[20:27] <FrontierWarGM> […-
[20:28] <FrontierWarGM> [Treesmasher scowled.-
[20:28] <FrontierWarGM> ["The trash is trash today." Snarled Treesmasher. The Flying Sovereign hurled a piece of rusty scrap metal back into the great mounds of garbage below. "What gives?!"-
[20:30] <FrontierWarGM> [Winewise the Refuser clucked and shifted. "No trash is real trash. It all has its value, it does. Just gotta find it. Just think of how to use it. You don't think about it 'cuz you're not an educated personage."-
[20:30] <FrontierWarGM> [Treesmasher threw a handful of twisted, barbed wires at Winewise, who ducked out of the way.-
[20:31] <FrontierWarGM> [Treesmasher was a Flying Sovereign with a grey-green coat of fur, covered in scars where the slave implants had once been.-
[20:31] <FrontierWarGM> [Winewise was a Refuser.-
[20:33] <FrontierWarGM> [The 'Seers were the most famous avian species in the galaxy, but the Refusers were probably the second most famous, for all the wrong reasons. Your typical Refuser was tall and spindly, like a bird, with very long, bendy, multi-jointed legs. Their bodies were generally round, like stretched out ovals. Their feathers usually bunched up around the neck like a collar. The neck itself extended outwards, ending in a long, flattish bald head with an extremely long curved beak.-
[20:34] <FrontierWarGM> [Like most Refusers, Winewise had no arms- only a pair of long wings, covered in his typical mottled white and brown feathers.-
[20:35] <FrontierWarGM> [He picked through the trash, using his extremely flexible legs to pick items up and inspect them. His balance was excellent.-
[20:36] <FrontierWarGM> [Occasionally, he would find something too heavy or unwieldy for his feet to carry. So he would open his beak, revealing not a tongue, but nine long, thin milky-white tentacles, that would streak out, tangle around the item and lift it up for him to inspect.-
[20:38] <FrontierWarGM> [The Refusers, like the Sovereigns, were something of a displaced people. The Refuser Systems had been conquered over a thousand years ago by the Merian Imperium, and Winewise's ancestors had fled. Through decades and centuries of trips to the breeding moshes, his bloodline had somehow brought him here, to a third-rate planet that even the Cyclogene Foundation had abandoned. It was now home to pirates, criminals, smugglers- and Winewise.-
[20:39] <FrontierWarGM> [It had been during this ancient exodus that the Overseer translators had given his people the name 'Refusers'.-
[20:39] <FrontierWarGM> [Not because they refused anything. The opposite, in fact: they spent most of their time digging through refuse.-
[20:39] <FrontierWarGM> [Winewise was acutely aware of his status as a stereotype.-
[20:40] <FrontierWarGM> [The problem was that so was everyone else, and it was the only job he could find.-
[20:40] <FrontierWarGM> [The hours passed on this shitty planet as Winewise patiently and carefully dug through the heap. Most of the stuff he put aside. Some things he tucked into fleshy folds along his abdomen.-
[20:42] <FrontierWarGM> [It was in the middle of this entirely unremarkable and deadly dull scene that a pillar of glowing red light would streak out of the sky, strike the forest nearby and send shockwaves throughout the area, knocking Treesmasher and Winewise off their feet, where they tumbled, before finally landing amidst the sad, polluted stream that cut a path through the garbage.-
[20:43] <FrontierWarGM> ["What was that?!" Shouted Treesmasher, shock causing his fur to stand on end. Tendrils of fire momentarily crackled around his fingertips. "Bombardment?!"-
[20:43] <FrontierWarGM> ["Who would bomb a trashyard?" Asked Winewise as he climbed to his feet. "If you think about it profit-and-loss…"-
[20:44] <FrontierWarGM> [But Treesmasher was already climbing up the trashheap. He crested the top and looked over- before lowering himself down. "Winewise!"-
[20:44] <FrontierWarGM> ["What?" Winewise rose and slowly climbed up after his friend.-
[20:45] <FrontierWarGM> [It hadn't been a bombardment, despite the force with which it hit.-
[20:46] <FrontierWarGM> [It was a sphere of red crystal, about two metres in diameter, sitting at the middle of its own little crater. Its surface dazzled in the light of the hot suns.-
[20:46] <FrontierWarGM> [Winewise and Treesmasher stared at it.-
[20:46] <FrontierWarGM> ["You know what that is?" Asked Treesmasher eagerly.-
[20:46] <FrontierWarGM> ["Trouble?"-
[20:47] <FrontierWarGM> ["Our ticket off the trashheap!" Cried Treesmasher. "We loot that thing, we can afford our own ship, eaaaaaaaaaaasy."-
[20:47] <FrontierWarGM> ["You identify it, then?" Said Winewise.-
[20:47] <FrontierWarGM> ["Nah, but it looks super expensive."-
[20:48] <FrontierWarGM> [Treesmasher leapt over the hill and ran down, his eagerness gifting him with speed that far outstripped Winewise's wingbeats.-
[20:48] <FrontierWarGM> ["It could be dangerous!" Said Winewise.-
[20:48] <FrontierWarGM> ["I can handle it!"-
[20:48] <FrontierWarGM> ["But what if it's a bomb?"-
[20:48] <FrontierWarGM> ["I can defuse it!"-
[20:48] <FrontierWarGM> ["Lie!"-
[20:49] <FrontierWarGM> [But Treesmasher was already next to the sphere. He leaned forward, cocked an ear, and tapped it once.-
[20:49] <FrontierWarGM> [It rang with a clear, high sound. Treesmasher hopped from foot to foot. "It's precious!"-
[20:50] <FrontierWarGM> [He put both hands on it and began to push, trying to roll it out of the crater. But it wouldn't budge.-
[20:50] <FrontierWarGM> ["Help me push!"-
[20:50] <FrontierWarGM> [Winewise settled on the lip of the crater. "Your fathers never loved you and would've sold you to a Scumslinker in exchange for a night's meal."-
[20:51] <FrontierWarGM> [On cue, Treesmasher's form bristled with anger, his muscles bulging and expanding. The sphere started to move.-
[20:51] <FrontierWarGM> ["You were happier as a slave."-
[20:51] <FrontierWarGM> [Treesmasher's form swelled. He leveraged a hand underneath the sphere and managed to get it rolling.-
[20:52] <FrontierWarGM> ["You could've saved them." Said Winewise.-
[20:52] <FrontierWarGM> [With a final surge, Treesmasher grew to a full four metres in height. His tree-trunk arms wedged beneath the sphere and hefted it up.-
[20:52] <FrontierWarGM> [Before long, he had the sphere safely secured on the far lip of the crater. "Appreciate it."-
[20:53] <FrontierWarGM> [Winewise turned his head to the left and licked his open eye with a tentacle.-
[20:53] <FrontierWarGM> ["… Can I help you?" Came a new and sudden voice.-
[20:54] <FrontierWarGM> [Treesmasher started. He leapt, turned mid-air, and saw a figure standing at the treeline.-
[20:54] <FrontierWarGM> [To Treesmasher and Winewise, it looked like a Pleasant Maid, albeit with fair alabaster skin, red eyes (that were open!) and long blue hair.-
[20:55] <FrontierWarGM> [Others- those in the know- would've recognised a Twiceborn.-
[20:55] <FrontierWarGM> [She was of average height and slim build. Her hair was exceptionally long, and pleated into twelve long tails that fell to her waist.-
[20:55] <FrontierWarGM> ["That's mine." She said.-
[20:56] <FrontierWarGM> [Treesmasher raised his right hand. It crackled with energy- a second later a bolt of light punched through her forehead.-
[20:56] <FrontierWarGM> [The alien went down.-
[20:56] <FrontierWarGM> [Winewise stared. And then he warbled long and high. "Oh noooo. Treesmasher, you did a murder of a stranger!"-
[20:57] <FrontierWarGM> ["Hey, they startled me! Besides, they were probably trying to steal our sphere!" Said Treesmasher.-
[20:58] <FrontierWarGM> ["They were trying to say a thing and you didn't understand what they were speaking and oh nooo." Winewise withdrew his head into his feathery mantle. "Now we are murderous accomplaces."-
[20:59] <FrontierWarGM> ["H-Hey! It's, it's good training for being pirates-"-
[20:59] <FrontierWarGM> [As Treesmasher argued and Winewise became increasingly despondent, the corpse on the ground twitched.-
[21:00] <FrontierWarGM> [If either of them had deigned to look, they would realise that the impact wound on the woman's head had not revealed bone and brain matter, but crystal, just like that of the sphere.-
[21:00] <FrontierWarGM> [The parts of her body which had splintered and broken off started to slide back towards the wound, as though moving backwards.-
[21:01] <FrontierWarGM> [A minute passed.-
[21:01] <FrontierWarGM> [Treesmasher hefted the sphere onto the lip of the crater. "Appreciate it."-
[21:01] <FrontierWarGM> [Winewise licked his eyeball.-
[21:01] <FrontierWarGM> ["Okay." Said the woman. "Different tack. HEY!"-
[21:02] <FrontierWarGM> [Treesmasher started. He leapt, turned mid-air, and raised his right hand to fire a bolt of energy at her.-
[21:03] <FrontierWarGM> [The woman's blue hair turned a ruby red. Her twelve hair-tails rose into the air and fanned out around her.-
[21:03] <FrontierWarGM> [And then to Winewise it seemed as though she was gone.-
[21:04] <FrontierWarGM> [Then he saw…-
[21:04] <FrontierWarGM> [It seemed as though there were twelve aliens standing around Treesmasher, not just the one. They all lunged at him at the same time, each punching him in the head.-
[21:05] <FrontierWarGM> [Treesmasher tottered drunkenly- then fell. The alien now stood over him- just the one, it seemed.-
[21:06] <FrontierWarGM> [Then in front of Winewise's eyes, the alien's right arm shattered into pieces, up to the elbow. The fragments fell, before a sharp "Come back" caused the fragments to reverse and rejoin the strange alien.-
[21:07] <FrontierWarGM> ["… Oh noooo." Whispered Winewise. "Treesmasher upset an unfathomable entity unknown to any sane creature in the entire galaxy and now I'm going to die here despite never ever getting to be rich or see the homeworlds!"-
[21:07] <FrontierWarGM> [The alien walked over to Winewise and tapped him on the head.-
[21:08] <FrontierWarGM> [He stared at her hand. Then ever so slowly he toppled backwards in shock.-
[21:08] <FrontierWarGM> ["Can you understand me now?" Asked the alien.-
[21:08] <FrontierWarGM> ["… I can understand you!" Said Winewise.-
[21:09] <FrontierWarGM> ["You tried to steal my ship." Said the alien.-
[21:09] <FrontierWarGM> ["He tried to steal your ship. I'm innocent."-
[21:09] <FrontierWarGM> ["Sure." Said the alien. "What are you, anyway?"-
[21:10] <FrontierWarGM> ["A trash collector. Sorry, not saying your ship is trash. Please don't kill me dead."-
[21:10] <FrontierWarGM> ["I'm not going to kill anyone." Said the alien. "And I don't mean your job. What are you?"-
[21:10] <FrontierWarGM> ["I'm a Refuser." Said Winewise.-
[21:11] <FrontierWarGM> ["Oh. I've never seen one before. Sorry." Said the alien. She looked over at Treesmasher. "Is he with you?"-
[21:11] <FrontierWarGM> ["No."-
[21:11] <FrontierWarGM> ["No?"-
[21:11] <FrontierWarGM> ["Yes." Admitted Winewise.-
[21:12] <FrontierWarGM> ["Good." Said the alien. She walked over to her ship and tapped it. It shrank to the size of an egg; she tucked it into the pocket of her white coat.-
[21:12] <FrontierWarGM> [Winewise boggled.-
[21:12] <FrontierWarGM> ["If you're not busy, then I have a kind of job for you." Said the alien.-
[21:12] <FrontierWarGM> ["But I already have a job."-
[21:12] <FrontierWarGM> ["A better job." Said the alien.-
[21:12] <FrontierWarGM> ["Oh, that I don't have. Talk about it?"-
[21:13] <FrontierWarGM> [The alien turned around. "My ship seems to have gotten lost. I don't know where I am, but it's really important I get to Symphonia- and soon. I want to hire you and your ami as guides. Sound good?"-
[21:14] <FrontierWarGM> ["Symphonia? Homeworld of the Symphonians?" Asked Winewise.-
[21:14] <FrontierWarGM> ["No, no. The other Symphonia."-
[21:14] <FrontierWarGM> ["There's another Symphonia???"-
[21:14] <FrontierWarGM> ["No, sorry. Sorry. Yes, I mean that one." Said the alien, sighing. "I'll pay you well, I promise."-
[21:15] <FrontierWarGM> ["… Then yes, we do it." Said Winewise. "Treesmasher will do it too, he's just too concussed to say so right now, so I will say so for him."-
[21:15] <FrontierWarGM> ["Excellent." Said the alien. "Then take me to the nearest settlement."-
[21:15] <FrontierWarGM> ["Yes, I can do that. It is that way. We can go now, and Treesmasher can catch up." Said Winewise, leaping to his feet and walking off.-
[21:16] <FrontierWarGM> [The alien walked after Winewise.-
[21:16] <FrontierWarGM> ["I'm a human, by the way." She said eventually.-
[21:16] <FrontierWarGM> ["I don't know those." Said Winewise.-
[21:18] <FrontierWarGM> ["Fair. Well, not all human, but human enough." She said. "My name is Adelaide Keiko Himesama Ayanami, daughter of the Divine Empress of Earth."-
[21:19] <FrontierWarGM> ["But you and everyone else in this timeline can call me 'Sensei'."]

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