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  1. #4306
    Astonishing Member KingofPie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grampagen View Post
    Colonel Willa Rautt, the mastermind of the Red Raiders, strode fearlessly before the Golem with an air of fearlessness that came from familiarity as she led Damask on, and the sequestered company within him. Ochazuke stood at attention the moment the rock of the King's Grove began to glow with that strange light. As they followed her, Jack muttered his thoughts aloud.

    "If it weren't for what we're after..." and then the former bandit said no more.

    The Leyline feeding into this place from the outside did not stop at that deadened tree. The roots it fed burrowed death beneath the ancient shale. Damask stood where the silver light pooled with Willa at his side as his very being resonated with the old sealed magic, and they fell into the Leyline slipstream once more, and as matter twisted up with energy, suddenly everything stopped, a sense of weightlessness swept over them, and then they descended fathoms and fathoms below upon a hidden road.

    When they emerged, the darkness was total, the air stale and humid. Then slowly, the cavern began to fill with light.


    Crystal masses extended, jutting beneath a stalactite ceiling. Sourced from the same veinwork of the Grove above, now unobscured. As Willa led them, they filled with a warm light, evidently resonating with her ki, slowly revealing the under the light the scene of a meticulous, years-long excavation.

    Noiseless hover-drones worked to pick ancient treasures from the wear of eons, remnants of a world gone by. Where they stood, dark, calcified walls were pushed back by the gradual picking of the round, globous machines, revealing the skeleton of a civilization. Fluted columns fused partially with the wall, its shifted sections pushing upward, evidently in vain for something had come crashing down on this slice of the world, pushing it from the surface to below sea level. Damask's movements became more gradual, his considerable bulk allowing for nothing but the most delicate passage through the narrows, where knotted masonry etched in the dust walls of the cavern bearing the engraved images of dead, nameless kings, standing before scenes of great strife and calamity engraved behind them.
    Blizzar clutched his stomach. "I'll never get used to this method of travel. Convenient as it is..." The Arcosian paused and glanced around. It was good to have a keen eye, an appreciation, of the finer things in life. With such knowledge one could appraise much more than surface level value, to which these ruins, even to the untrained eye, would obviously rank very highly. But the value such a finding could have towards Earth as a whole was exciting to think about. These people, forced into an unwitting alliance with double-dealing talking snake had so much of their own history, their contributions to the universe at large outright lost or in some cases possibly taken from them. What a kind soul it would take to grant them access to it once more. At a reasonable rate.

    Children and the elderly get in for free...ish.

    In these artisan's memories, lost in the annals of Arthur's kingdom buried deep below the sea, sometimes it took the shape of a man, his eyes bewitching, but gradually as they stode forwards, backwards through these moments of captured time, his shape began to twist in the records of numerous kingdoms that fell to the jaws of one, well-known beast into calamity.

    "The Dragon," Ochazuke said. Even knowing what they knew now of what Evangeline did in all her powers of Guardian to push back against him, even the Martial Apostate was hesitant to say his name.

    Grinthorn.

    They'd began to cross from this chamber to an outcropping overlooking a chasm, when two power signatures began to flood in from the environs, and even where they stood within the body of the golem, they'd suddenly began to feel quite small.

    "Ours won't be the only renaissance," Willa said, as the sounds began to gather, footsteps heavy as lead, followed by a crinkling like falling ice. Held would recognize their presences visually, for they were what he'd gleaned where he'd peered through the rock and earth amid the energies collected here. Golems, one large, dark grey, a faceless effigy of a warrior cast from metal, the other mercurial, a shifting form nigh featureless where its collected presence made itself known where projections of crystal rose and faded.

    "Your brothers have finally awoken," the Colonel continued, "We've been forced to hide for so long, but now my ancestor's legacy has begun to return to this world. In time, we can get it back, Major. Everything they've taken from us, we can get it all back."

    In that moment, a pocket of light swelled. Some distance away, engraved on the far side of a chamber, the crests of animals stood alight.

    The Sign of the Ten Schools. Along with a burning ki signature.

    Red hair slick with persperiation, Kenshiko crouched as she poured energy toward the sigils, bloody gauntlets fastened over her arms and a circlet upon her brow. Silently, the Colonel simply observed with her company of the three ancient Golems.

    "It all starts from this moment."
    "...Ah. There are more, wonderful," Blizzar quipped, glancing aside at the other four. "I suppose it would be a bit far fetched to assume you have a method for controlling these creatures as well. There was a more than hint of lofty ideals buried beneath Rautt's otherwise surly demeanor. One would truly think the M-Fighters, in another time, in another place, would have had an ally in her. But lost was she to her own personal tragedies and prejudices. But lost forever, who could say? Blizzar was always willing to negotiate...when reasonable.

    And speaking of such. Damask. How much was he swayed by this, despite Jack's control, Blizzar couldn't help but wonder. The Arcosian flashed a hesitant glance, saying his thought out loud without so much as speaking a word.

  2. #4307
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    Quote Originally Posted by grampagen View Post
    Colonel Willa Rautt, the mastermind of the Red Raiders, strode fearlessly before the Golem with an air of fearlessness that came from familiarity as she led Damask on, and the sequestered company within him. Ochazuke stood at attention the moment the rock of the King's Grove began to glow with that strange light. As they followed her, Jack muttered his thoughts aloud.

    "If it weren't for what we're after..." and then the former bandit said no more.

    The Leyline feeding into this place from the outside did not stop at that deadened tree. The roots it fed burrowed death beneath the ancient shale. Damask stood where the silver light pooled with Willa at his side as his very being resonated with the old sealed magic, and they fell into the Leyline slipstream once more, and as matter twisted up with energy, suddenly everything stopped, a sense of weightlessness swept over them, and then they descended fathoms and fathoms below upon a hidden road.

    When they emerged, the darkness was total, the air stale and humid. Then slowly, the cavern began to fill with light.


    Crystal masses extended, jutting beneath a stalactite ceiling. Sourced from the same veinwork of the Grove above, now unobscured. As Willa led them, they filled with a warm light, evidently resonating with her ki, slowly revealing the under the light the scene of a meticulous, years-long excavation.

    Noiseless hover-drones worked to pick ancient treasures from the wear of eons, remnants of a world gone by. Where they stood, dark, calcified walls were pushed back by the gradual picking of the round, globous machines, revealing the skeleton of a civilization. Fluted columns fused partially with the wall, its shifted sections pushing upward, evidently in vain for something had come crashing down on this slice of the world, pushing it from the surface to below sea level. Damask's movements became more gradual, his considerable bulk allowing for nothing but the most delicate passage through the narrows, where knotted masonry etched in the dust walls of the cavern bearing the engraved images of dead, nameless kings, standing before scenes of great strife and calamity engraved behind them.

    In these artisan's memories, lost in the annals of Arthur's kingdom buried deep below the sea, sometimes it took the shape of a man, his eyes bewitching, but gradually as they stode forwards, backwards through these moments of captured time, his shape began to twist in the records of numerous kingdoms that fell to the jaws of one, well-known beast into calamity.

    "The Dragon," Ochazuke said. Even knowing what they knew now of what Evangeline did in all her powers of Guardian to push back against him, even the Martial Apostate was hesitant to say his name.

    Grinthorn.

    They'd began to cross from this chamber to an outcropping overlooking a chasm, when two power signatures began to flood in from the environs, and even where they stood within the body of the golem, they'd suddenly began to feel quite small.

    "Ours won't be the only renaissance," Willa said, as the sounds began to gather, footsteps heavy as lead, followed by a crinkling like falling ice. Held would recognize their presences visually, for they were what he'd gleaned where he'd peered through the rock and earth amid the energies collected here. Golems, one large, dark grey, a faceless effigy of a warrior cast from metal, the other mercurial, a shifting form nigh featureless where its collected presence made itself known where projections of crystal rose and faded.

    It all began to make sense to Held, the massive looming presence sensed from the world above. That enormous enigma concealed by shadow was unmistakable, both in scope and sheer power. It made him think of the tales of mighty Behemoths of Nevada, their sheer power rivaled only by their magnitude and ferocity.

    At the edge of his perception, he noticed the second Golem, evasive, elusive, slithering from one point to the next, before finding something resembling a solid shape.

    "Good Grief..." Held muttered to himself, feeling that they went from setting a trap in wait, to hiding in a box hoping desperately not to be discovered.

    I was hoping we'd get to intercept their plans before she really got going....But now if we reveal ourselves, we're at a disadvantage in terms of numbers, and those things are no joke in terms of power level...

    Quote Originally Posted by KingofPie View Post

    "...Ah. There are more, wonderful," Blizzar quipped, glancing aside at the other four. "I suppose it would be a bit far fetched to assume you have a method for controlling these creatures as well. There was a more than hint of lofty ideals buried beneath Rautt's otherwise surly demeanor. One would truly think the M-Fighters, in another time, in another place, would have had an ally in her. But lost was she to her own personal tragedies and prejudices. But lost forever, who could say? Blizzar was always willing to negotiate...when reasonable.

    And speaking of such. Damask. How much was he swayed by this, despite Jack's control, Blizzar couldn't help but wonder. The Arcosian flashed a hesitant glance, saying his thought out loud without so much as speaking a word.
    The Nevadian chuckled at his Acrosian comrades query dryly. "If we get that lucky, I think me and Jack might need to hit another Casino since his hand is hotter than ever."



    "Your brothers have finally awoken," the Colonel continued, "We've been forced to hide for so long, but now my ancestor's legacy has begun to return to this world. In time, we can get it back, Major. Everything they've taken from us, we can get it all back."

    In that moment, a pocket of light swelled. Some distance away, engraved on the far side of a chamber, the crests of animals stood alight.

    The Sign of the Ten Schools. Along with a burning ki signature.

    Red hair slick with persperiation, Kenshiko crouched as she poured energy toward the sigils, bloody gauntlets fastened over her arms and a circlet upon her brow. Silently, the Colonel simply observed with her company of the three ancient Golems.

    "It all starts from this moment."
    The Nevadian said nothing, studying the expression of the Burning Tigress. The last time they had met, her visage was one of resignation and despair. The time before that--the first time they met--it was pure hatred and fury.

    If any of those emotions remained, they lay hidden beneath the surface, resolve the only thing made manifest upon her countenance.

    Held frowned as he attempted to take so much in at once. Kenshiko was clearly preparing something, and Willa believed this to be the culmination of this effort. 'The end of the beginning' so to speak.

    The Nevadian focused his sight towards the sigils that took up so much of Kenshiko's energy and focus, attempting to discern something about the nature of them.

    "Ochazuke....Any ideas on what this is?" Held inquired. The Crane Stylist had his own method of insight, which may prove able to reveal what the Shingan could not.

    "In any case, I'll be frank." he informed his comrades, "My first instinct is....Kenshiko is at least somewhat distracted, and Willa doesn't expect anything at the moment..."

    Damask had played the perfect Trojan Horse. In a perfect world, they would be able to nullify both the warriors in sync. But....

    How much had the two grown? And what was the nature of the ritual see was undergoing? The power of the Ten Schools was something Held was only vaguely aware of through Ochazuke's concerns about the power falling into the wrong hands, and Zaofan's recounting of their travels and training within that School.

    Beyond that, it was a complete mystery to the Nevadian. If he were to take Ochazuke at his word, and assume Rutt and Kenshiko to be no fools---All of which he did--then what?

    And that was to say nothing of the two massive guardians who complicated things in their entirety. The Nevadian had no idea what they could do, let alone what they would do if the group attacked their masters.

    And yet, it seemed that with every passing moment, every moment they did not act, the advantage shifted further into the favor of the enemy.

    "If we want to take the advantage and try and break things up, I'm not sure we're going to get a better chance than this...."

    Still...I've got a really bad feeling...Being here, I really do feel like I'm in a den filled with nothing but predators...No matter how it goes, it's not going to be a fun day.
    Last edited by Miburo; 10-16-2020 at 11:42 PM.

  3. #4308

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KingofPie View Post
    Blizzar clutched his stomach. "I'll never get used to this method of travel. Convenient as it is..." The Arcosian paused and glanced around. It was good to have a keen eye, an appreciation, of the finer things in life. With such knowledge one could appraise much more than surface level value, to which these ruins, even to the untrained eye, would obviously rank very highly. But the value such a finding could have towards Earth as a whole was exciting to think about. These people, forced into an unwitting alliance with double-dealing talking snake had so much of their own history, their contributions to the universe at large outright lost or in some cases possibly taken from them. What a kind soul it would take to grant them access to it once more. At a reasonable rate.

    Children and the elderly get in for free...ish.


    "...Ah. There are more, wonderful," Blizzar quipped, glancing aside at the other four. "I suppose it would be a bit far fetched to assume you have a method for controlling these creatures as well. There was a more than hint of lofty ideals buried beneath Rautt's otherwise surly demeanor. One would truly think the M-Fighters, in another time, in another place, would have had an ally in her. But lost was she to her own personal tragedies and prejudices. But lost forever, who could say? Blizzar was always willing to negotiate...when reasonable.

    And speaking of such. Damask. How much was he swayed by this, despite Jack's control, Blizzar couldn't help but wonder. The Arcosian flashed a hesitant glance, saying his thought out loud without so much as speaking a word.
    A large bead of sweat crept its way down Jack's face, and when it hit his open eye, he stuffed the blink with his hand with such smouldering irritation, it almost seemed deliberate.

    "You got your beat and I've got mine," he said, "You might be interested in whatever scoop there is on this planet, but whatever happens, I gotta live here with it, understand?"

    He'd never been the chattiest when he'd taken a smoke break, but right now there was something that put him so off he'd not seen the fault in his own condition.

    And he'd flinched.

    From all appearances that seemed to be what pissed him off the most.

    "If it gets too hot...then I'll handle it, alright? Just stay in your lane, Officer."

    Quote Originally Posted by Miburo View Post
    It all began to make sense to Held, the massive looming presence sensed from the world above. That enormous enigma concealed by shadow was unmistakable, both in scope and sheer power. It made him think of the tales of mighty Behemoths of Nevada, their sheer power rivaled only by their magnitude and ferocity.

    At the edge of his perception, he noticed the second Golem, evasive, elusive, slithering from one point to the next, before finding something resembling a solid shape.

    "Good Grief..." Held muttered to himself, feeling that they went from setting a trap in wait, to hiding in a box hoping desperately not to be discovered.

    I was hoping we'd get to intercept their plans before she really got going....But now if we reveal ourselves, we're at a disadvantage in terms of numbers, and those things are no joke in terms of power level...


    The Nevadian chuckled at his Acrosian comrades query dryly. "If we get that lucky, I think me and Jack might need to hit another Casino since his hand is hotter than ever."
    The mention of bad odds seemed to cut through Jack's foggy state, pulling a small chuckle from the wandering gambler.

    "Ain't ever seen a dealer fold before 'till you brought me to Vegas. What the hell kind of a rule was that anyways, 'The House Must Win'? Gotta say though, it's easier to count the cards when you know the suits and sum of the deck."

    Suppressing a smirk, Jack cupped his hands and blew.

    "But...in this case I'd say we're playing a different game entirely."

    Quote Originally Posted by Miburo View Post
    The Nevadian said nothing, studying the expression of the Burning Tigress. The last time they had met, her visage was one of resignation and despair. The time before that--the first time they met--it was pure hatred and fury.

    If any of those emotions remained, they lay hidden beneath the surface, resolve the only thing made manifest upon her countenance.

    Held frowned as he attempted to take so much in at once. Kenshiko was clearly preparing something, and Willa believed this to be the culmination of this effort. 'The end of the beginning' so to speak.

    The Nevadian focused his sight towards the sigils that took up so much of Kenshiko's energy and focus, attempting to discern something about the nature of them.

    "Ochazuke....Any ideas on what this is?" Held inquired. The Crane Stylist had his own method of insight, which may prove able to reveal what the Shingan could not.

    "In any case, I'll be frank." he informed his comrades, "My first instinct is....Kenshiko is at least somewhat distracted, and Willa doesn't expect anything at the moment..."

    Damask had played the perfect Trojan Horse. In a perfect world, they would be able to nullify both the warriors in sync. But....

    How much had the two grown? And what was the nature of the ritual see was undergoing? The power of the Ten Schools was something Held was only vaguely aware of through Ochazuke's concerns about the power falling into the wrong hands, and Zaofan's recounting of their travels and training within that School.

    Beyond that, it was a complete mystery to the Nevadian. If he were to take Ochazuke at his word, and assume Rutt and Kenshiko to be no fools---All of which he did--then what?

    And that was to say nothing of the two massive guardians who complicated things in their entirety. The Nevadian had no idea what they could do, let alone what they would do if the group attacked their masters.

    And yet, it seemed that with every passing moment, every moment they did not act, the advantage shifted further into the favor of the enemy.

    "If we want to take the advantage and try and break things up, I'm not sure we're going to get a better chance than this...."

    Still...I've got a really bad feeling...Being here, I really do feel like I'm in a den filled with nothing but predators...No matter how it goes, it's not going to be a fun day.
    Ochazuke had no immediate answer for Held as they drew closer. Though Damask had done well to maintain cover, following the Red Colonel while flanked by his brothers, the hardy pace of the stone giant seemed to be far too slow, and it showed on the martial artist's face.

    Nothing less than complete focus played over Kenshiko's face, and quite unlike the last moments of the raid years ago, fury was tempered by discipline. The Tiger Master channeled immense amounts of energy through herself, and the longer Ochazuke observed what she was doing, so there was a fearful notion of what was to come.

    "The essence of ten core techniques," Ochazuke said. The subtle interplay in her energies was pronounced in a delicate manner, rising in frayed, disparate directions, then lashing together in a united, cohesive whole. Shifting her stance, Kenshiko did little more than stir, and the entire cavern shook around them.

    The crystalline channels of the Vermilion Ruin resonated with her. They responded to each living presence as they passed by, but now awash with ki of this intensity, they carried the energy toward the wall.

    "Zaofan, Sasheem, Balon and I found something just like this halfway around the world." Ochazuke replied to Held. "From all appearances, it was a sanctuary where the Master left his mark. The standards of the Ten Schools of Zxu'ro."

    Ten symbols lined the wall in arrayed in ten points, a ring within a rings. The outer ring, starting from the top, moving clockwise: Turtle, Snake, Crane, Tiger, the sigil of the Dragon School bridged their path toward the inside.

    Five sigils, though forgotten and lost to time. The energy rounded to the Wolf, then to the Bear...

    The stone shuddered, its facets catching the light of the cavern for a moment, overlapping with a shadow. In intermittence, fading translucent for instants at a time, the wall was little more than a shape within shade, revealing a long cavern of darkness that stretched beyond, then flickered in and out of existence.

    Lion, then Phoenix filled next with the light issued through the heart of Vermilion.

    Disturbed dust and debris poured down the edges, a dark door fading in and out in a disrupted state of being. It was as if the cave itself had woken to consciousness, struggling to remember a path beyond this sealed wall, and the way beyond was almost visible now. Every time the channel neared opening, a presence thrummed past it in the waiting darkness, a swelling of enormous, sleeping power.

    "...so we found your girl," Jack muttered, "Ought to snuff her out while we have a chance."

    At that moment, Ochazuke took a step towards Jack, and the atmosphere in this confined space suddenly became all the more claustrophobic.

    "Damask," he said calmly, "Bring us closer."

    Without a further word, the Golem seemed to move reflexively.

  4. #4309

    Default Rising from Ruins

    "So you finally decided to show up, did you, Major?"

    Damask lumbered forward ahead of his company and joined Kenshiko. Strands of red stuck to the perspiration on her face, her burning eyes carrying upon a determined visage. Even peering through Damask's eyes secondhand, Ochazuke was swift to fall on guard, but when the Golem's view shift to surveying the path of the Vermilion Leyline into Zxu'ro's gate as it fluttered in and out of existence.

    "Even with the relics gathered, passage into the chamber has yet to stabilize," Willa explained. "We've been at this for hours."

    The Tiger Master let one last throw into the earth, then stood to face her superior officer.

    "We?" Her lips stretched thinned, fangs bared. Colonel Rautt stood at ease, and raised a hand dismissively.

    "I speak for our company. Now, the residual ki your student left behind, will it be enough?"

    At the Red Colonel's query, Kenshiko folded her arms, then callously kicked one of the resonant crystals toward the wall. The shining shard passed through the veiled image, this phantom path, but its light was soon swallowed up by the distant darkness.

    Suddenly, without prompting from Jack's command, Damask spoke.

    "...cannot force....the Leyline path," the Golem offered. "To chase it recklessly will lead to doom."

    A smoldering growl left the Master Sergeant as she peered into the flickering darkness before her.

    "That's why it has to be me. I'd passed the techniques on to the rest of the unit, in time, they'll teach others," Kenshiko replied. "But nothing will change if we keep going on like this."

    "The way forward is open," Willa said. "You have your orders. Go now, and godspeed."

    Standing tall, Kenshiko's battle-hardened frame shook, as if in noiseless, mocking laughter.

    "Colonel, you know just as well as I do that Kami has got nothing to do with us." Willa briefly tilt her head to one side as Kenshiko continued. "Like everything else, I'll just have to get there on my own."

    The obscured path to the secrets of the Master of the Chimera school was now revealed, a deep well of silent power calling to those who beheld it. Channeling her power into an aura that seemed to escalate to match it, in an instant Kenshiko moved in.

    "Whatever part in our destiny she has to play, I'm sure she will find it."

    As she stared ahead after the channel her Sergeant had passed through, it gradually resolved itself to a solid wall once more, nine emblems ablaze, Willa reached up and rested her hand against Damask.

    "Isn't that right, Cousin?"

    Damask's face hardly moved as she coursed the Shatterlock through his broad body. Shattering the hollow chamber, spilling Ochazuke, Jack, Held and Blizzar out into the cavern as the granite golem was torn in half. Before his legs could fall, crystalline spikes pierced through the veins in the rock and pinned them in place, leaving the Stone Sentinel to drag himself forward on his upper body, even as he lost one arm to this. Pulling forward on his remaining hand, the Golem put himself before Jack and their company in a desperate attempt to protect his sworn leige. Willa, eyes glazed, apparated her war scythe as she stared between her Guardian and her blooded quarry.

    "Fancy a smoke, do you? Had I known you'd brought others, I'd have brought you a pack."

    Jack swore under his breath as Willa raised her hand. On heavy steps, the Steel Warrior strode forward behind her.

    "Apologies, my old friend, but I know you understand most of all."

    Damask's eyes lit with a surge of power, and an inhuman yawp escaped his stony maw as he sprung his titanic remains from the ground, raising his hand up against his brother and seizing a gauntleted wrist. For an instant, the metal seemed to buckle around the stone as its grip tightened. Yet like his kin, the helmed metallic warrior's expression was unreadable.

    Then the steel softened and pooled around Damask's rocky fingers as it shifted its shape, displacing its solid form and reasserting it elsewhere as he lift the shattered torso off the ground. Where the Steel Warrior grasped, Damask was ground to dust.

    "This is bigger than any one of us, for it's our very world at stake."

    With contemptuous ease, the Steel Warrior then hurled Damask against the wall of the cavern, shattering the remains of his already broken body and condemning him to fall into the pit below like so many other forgotten relics across the ages. The stone fell, silent as it was swallowed by fathoms below, the only thing remaining in his wake the shudder of droplets that fell from the stalactites overhead.

    Pulling himself from the wreckage, Ochazuke rose and wordlessly loosed a Dodonpa from his finger at Rautt's blindside. The pick-end of her cybernetic warhammer struck out behind her into the beam, and the energy broke apart and collapsed into itself.

    "Commendable strategy, sinking your fingers into my friend and forcing him to move against us." Her repartee was bright, but her gaze was wide, hateful, and filled with a wrath that was barely held in check. "Is this your Guardian's bidding? Pitting us against each other while he marshals the world to his will?"

    Ochazuke leaned forward, his guard raised in a stance.

    "You're the mindreader, why don't you tell me," he grunted. "That's how you managed to convince your Raiders you had all the answers even as you'd poisoned their minds."

    "Did I, now?" Willa drew her weapon to the ready, her red armor shifting, giving her the look of a beast roused, determined to protect her territory with terminal prejudice. "How easily your faith is shaken. After all, it looks to me like you're the one who brought the aliens into the affairs of our world, Ochazuke."

    Willa stepped backwards, casting her hand before her, and fine, spinning shards of energy filled the cavern with an uncanny glow. One of the excavation drones they had passed earlier strayed from its automated route, and was quickly cut apart. Held would remember the technique that sank the Capsule of the World cruise ships so long ago: The thousand falling petals of the Rose Flare.

    "Thousands of years ago, this is where it all began to go wrong." To her left, the Steel Golem pushed toward them, trammeling over the broken remnants of its fallen brother. Sudddenly, behind them, a sound like cracking ice rang out as its Crystal counterpart pushed its way through the walls. Jack had only a split second to react, crossing his katchin knived together as a ki-reinforced column struck him and struck him across the chamber toward Willa, his path covered as he was swiftly surrounded by the finely controlled energy petals.

    "This time, it will end on our terms." Twisting the shaft of her warscythe, its servomotors trilled with a mechanical whirr. "Let's go."

  5. #4310
    Astonishing Member KingofPie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grampagen View Post
    "So you finally decided to show up, did you, Major?"

    Damask lumbered forward ahead of his company and joined Kenshiko. Strands of red stuck to the perspiration on her face, her burning eyes carrying upon a determined visage. Even peering through Damask's eyes secondhand, Ochazuke was swift to fall on guard, but when the Golem's view shift to surveying the path of the Vermilion Leyline into Zxu'ro's gate as it fluttered in and out of existence.

    "Even with the relics gathered, passage into the chamber has yet to stabilize," Willa explained. "We've been at this for hours."

    The Tiger Master let one last throw into the earth, then stood to face her superior officer.

    "We?" Her lips stretched thinned, fangs bared. Colonel Rautt stood at ease, and raised a hand dismissively.

    "I speak for our company. Now, the residual ki your student left behind, will it be enough?"

    At the Red Colonel's query, Kenshiko folded her arms, then callously kicked one of the resonant crystals toward the wall. The shining shard passed through the veiled image, this phantom path, but its light was soon swallowed up by the distant darkness.

    Suddenly, without prompting from Jack's command, Damask spoke.

    "...cannot force....the Leyline path," the Golem offered. "To chase it recklessly will lead to doom."

    A smoldering growl left the Master Sergeant as she peered into the flickering darkness before her.

    "That's why it has to be me. I'd passed the techniques on to the rest of the unit, in time, they'll teach others," Kenshiko replied. "But nothing will change if we keep going on like this."

    "The way forward is open," Willa said. "You have your orders. Go now, and godspeed."

    Standing tall, Kenshiko's battle-hardened frame shook, as if in noiseless, mocking laughter.

    "Colonel, you know just as well as I do that Kami has got nothing to do with us." Willa briefly tilt her head to one side as Kenshiko continued. "Like everything else, I'll just have to get there on my own."

    The obscured path to the secrets of the Master of the Chimera school was now revealed, a deep well of silent power calling to those who beheld it. Channeling her power into an aura that seemed to escalate to match it, in an instant Kenshiko moved in.

    "Whatever part in our destiny she has to play, I'm sure she will find it."

    As she stared ahead after the channel her Sergeant had passed through, it gradually resolved itself to a solid wall once more, nine emblems ablaze, Willa reached up and rested her hand against Damask.

    "Isn't that right, Cousin?"

    Damask's face hardly moved as she coursed the Shatterlock through his broad body. Shattering the hollow chamber, spilling Ochazuke, Jack, Held and Blizzar out into the cavern as the granite golem was torn in half. Before his legs could fall, crystalline spikes pierced through the veins in the rock and pinned them in place, leaving the Stone Sentinel to drag himself forward on his upper body, even as he lost one arm to this. Pulling forward on his remaining hand, the Golem put himself before Jack and their company in a desperate attempt to protect his sworn leige. Willa, eyes glazed, apparated her war scythe as she stared between her Guardian and her blooded quarry.

    "Fancy a smoke, do you? Had I known you'd brought others, I'd have brought you a pack."

    Jack swore under his breath as Willa raised her hand. On heavy steps, the Steel Warrior strode forward behind her.

    "Apologies, my old friend, but I know you understand most of all."

    Damask's eyes lit with a surge of power, and an inhuman yawp escaped his stony maw as he sprung his titanic remains from the ground, raising his hand up against his brother and seizing a gauntleted wrist. For an instant, the metal seemed to buckle around the stone as its grip tightened. Yet like his kin, the helmed metallic warrior's expression was unreadable.

    Then the steel softened and pooled around Damask's rocky fingers as it shifted its shape, displacing its solid form and reasserting it elsewhere as he lift the shattered torso off the ground. Where the Steel Warrior grasped, Damask was ground to dust.

    "This is bigger than any one of us, for it's our very world at stake."

    With contemptuous ease, the Steel Warrior then hurled Damask against the wall of the cavern, shattering the remains of his already broken body and condemning him to fall into the pit below like so many other forgotten relics across the ages. The stone fell, silent as it was swallowed by fathoms below, the only thing remaining in his wake the shudder of droplets that fell from the stalactites overhead.

    Pulling himself from the wreckage, Ochazuke rose and wordlessly loosed a Dodonpa from his finger at Rautt's blindside. The pick-end of her cybernetic warhammer struck out behind her into the beam, and the energy broke apart and collapsed into itself.

    "Commendable strategy, sinking your fingers into my friend and forcing him to move against us." Her repartee was bright, but her gaze was wide, hateful, and filled with a wrath that was barely held in check. "Is this your Guardian's bidding? Pitting us against each other while he marshals the world to his will?"

    Ochazuke leaned forward, his guard raised in a stance.

    "You're the mindreader, why don't you tell me," he grunted. "That's how you managed to convince your Raiders you had all the answers even as you'd poisoned their minds."

    "Did I, now?" Willa drew her weapon to the ready, her red armor shifting, giving her the look of a beast roused, determined to protect her territory with terminal prejudice. "How easily your faith is shaken. After all, it looks to me like you're the one who brought the aliens into the affairs of our world, Ochazuke."

    Willa stepped backwards, casting her hand before her, and fine, spinning shards of energy filled the cavern with an uncanny glow. One of the excavation drones they had passed earlier strayed from its automated route, and was quickly cut apart. Held would remember the technique that sank the Capsule of the World cruise ships so long ago: The thousand falling petals of the Rose Flare.

    "Thousands of years ago, this is where it all began to go wrong." To her left, the Steel Golem pushed toward them, trammeling over the broken remnants of its fallen brother. Sudddenly, behind them, a sound like cracking ice rang out as its Crystal counterpart pushed its way through the walls. Jack had only a split second to react, crossing his katchin knived together as a ki-reinforced column struck him and struck him across the chamber toward Willa, his path covered as he was swiftly surrounded by the finely controlled energy petals.

    "This time, it will end on our terms." Twisting the shaft of her warscythe, its servomotors trilled with a mechanical whirr. "Let's go."
    "Ugh, such a shame," Blizzar grunted, using his telekinesis to sweep off any dirt and rumble that had fallen upon during the groups' unceremonious tumble from the confines of Damask. The remains of whom were tossed into the cavernous abyss, just as unceremoniously. "Now, I feel more the fool for assuming any of this could he handled with some degree of amicability."

    He briefly looks back to where Damask's remains had been tossed. He couldn't say he cared much for the golem beyond it's existence as a living technology, a fascinating relic from the depths of Earth's history. And yet....even in a life dedicated to duty, to be be kicked to the side by it's own kin under the orders of a fanatic. But to be buried here...perhaps it would've been what the Golem wanted. In either case...

    Blizzar looked over to Held and Ochazuke. Jack was occupying Willa at the moment and thus the Golems would be left to them. Blizzar tapped his chin for a moment and glanced between the two. "Perhaps Held and I can attempt to take them on while you search for a way to tail your tigress? What say you, Ochazuke?"

  6. #4311

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingofPie View Post
    "Ugh, such a shame," Blizzar grunted, using his telekinesis to sweep off any dirt and rumble that had fallen upon during the groups' unceremonious tumble from the confines of Damask. The remains of whom were tossed into the cavernous abyss, just as unceremoniously. "Now, I feel more the fool for assuming any of this could he handled with some degree of amicability."

    He briefly looks back to where Damask's remains had been tossed. He couldn't say he cared much for the golem beyond it's existence as a living technology, a fascinating relic from the depths of Earth's history. And yet....even in a life dedicated to duty, to be be kicked to the side by it's own kin under the orders of a fanatic. But to be buried here...perhaps it would've been what the Golem wanted. In either case...

    Blizzar looked over to Held and Ochazuke. Jack was occupying Willa at the moment and thus the Golems would be left to them. Blizzar tapped his chin for a moment and glanced between the two. "Perhaps Held and I can attempt to take them on while you search for a way to tail your tigress? What say you, Ochazuke?"
    The light swelled within the crystals embedded within the cavern as Willa's Rose Flare swelled to bloom, a sea of ki shards separating the group from Jack as the Red Colonel advanced on him, the broad hammer end of her war scythe raised as the gambler threw up his guard as it came down, and disappeared in a puff of smoke. Willa struck through the plume, shattering a part of the ancient foundation in the follow through, and it seemed this Grave Magic had done the trick, until Jack was forcefully re-apparated the moment his presence struck the wall of thorn and petals suspended in the air detonated, throwing him out of his vaporous state and blowing him backwards to Willa.

    Through the hole in the screen of explosively charged ki petals, they could see Jack's right arm and sider were bloodied from the impact, before the Rose Flare reassembled itself, and through the torrential screen of violet, violent energies they saw Jack spring away, just barely a step ahead of his distant cousin as they clashed.

    It was not more than a few yards away, yet it seemed so far as The Iron Soldier advanced on them, its arm shifting into a greatsword.


    "I'd say I would, provided I could get there," Ochazuke said, before turning about face and cleaving the edge of his hand through a crystal spire.

    The shards were sent flying, then suddenly arrested their momentum as they flew and seemed to sink into the nearby wall, and shot out a barrier of crystal spires that coalesced into a bladed wall between where they stood and the Gate of Zxu'ro.

    The second of these earth-spawned opponents was less manifest than the other, but its presence seemed to be more immediately detectable by their ki sense. It seemed higher than their own, but more than that, even as Ochazuke struck it, it did not diminish , only recede to a hollow shape racing through the light, coursing a path within the rows of glassy protrusions rising from the rock-veins. The Crystal Phantom traced through the spiderwebbed rock, followed by a faint crackling...

    Then, silent but for the scraping of its joints, the Iron Soldier brought its blade down upon Blizzar.

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