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Super Robot Wars ∀: Deep Space IC Thread - Part 3: Crisis Point

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While part of Thorvald was tempted to hang tight to the Riese like a remora on a whaleshark, he didn't think it likely there'd be a repeat occurrence of the bold tactic just employed, given how things had turned out for the solitary aggressor. Still, he didn't want to stray too far either, so ended up taking a rather goldilocks solution to the problem.

Thorvald changes form and moves to 9,13

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Simply hearing Tristan's voice, nevermind the fact that he was (mostly) alright, filled Alriana with so much relief she didn't know how to process it. Even though she wasn't sad, she was crying again. "If... If you, do that again... I- I'll do, something, to you." A vague threat to be sure, but weren't those the most worrying? It wasn't important anyway. Tristan was alive! That was what mattered right now, not threats about the future. A future that she would try her hardest to prevent.

After a pause, Alriana wiped her tears, having gotten it out of her system. "I think, that I am... okay. I... do not know, what happened. Or what I did. But... Yes. Soor'kan is gone. I... I do not have to, be afraid. Anymore." 

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"Do something? If you kill me for disappearing, you'll just make yourself sad again." He understood what she meant, but it was a bit silly... He could really use those tylenols about now. "That's... That's amazing. And no... You don't. I'm still here, Aly, and I'm not going anywhere. Give them all hell. We'll do what we can on our side." He popped a line over to the infirmary, hoping Tiff or Liz would catch him. "Tylenol, please..."

Enemy Phase/Turn 1!

"Captain Gefalscht! Do you read me!?" Miller slammed the console in front of him, cursing their misfortune. "How could we let those enemies slip through? Damn... I hope the Riese can handle this..."


"Marianne! Astin! I'm here to help!" A small swarm of machines were flying in from their read, lead by the Ganymede, another of Apotheosis' unique machines. "Today's the day we put this thing down!"

Duane spawns!
5 Phobos units spawn!
5 Deimos units spawn!

"Hmph... Reinforcements. We shall make use of them. Forward! All of you! But leave that blue one. She is mine." Iln'Teer's Hexis roared, charging across the land towards Kim. 'Human pilot! I do hope your victory over Soor'Kan has not bloated your ego! He was the weakest of us all, and you shall face me next. Prepare yourself!'


"Duane! You're alive!" Astin was overjoyed to see their friend okay, smiling as the new Luna proceeded towards the Riese's formation. The old one was there... Was Vera piloting it? Had she survived, had they turned her against them? "If you're in there Vera, I'll save you. Even if I have to kill them all... They don't deserve any less. Not after what the ANF's done to me." Motivation set in stone, their sword was out at the ready. "I'll strike you all down."

"Will you, Astin...? Oh, dear, how I've missed you..."

That voice!? "Louise!? How!? You're dead! You died! This isn't--"

"Shhhhhhh! Shhhh, shh shh shhhhh... I'm alive, and that's all that matters, Astin. You're going to kill us all, hmmm~? Did you know that your memories are all fake? That you're a clone? The ANF's never done anything to you, after all--"

"Shut up! As if I'd ever believe a word out of your twisted mouth! I don't know how you survived, why you're in the Luna, or what the ANF's doing with you, but I don't need to know or care! I'll kill you like the rest!"

"Even Vera? She's in one of their Mark IIIs... Fighting for them. Go ahead. Give it a call, find out~" The line cut, Astin cursing Louise's foul name.

"You damn snake! There's no way Vera would... No! This is just a trick to try and make it waver!" The Luna's thrusters flared, they were ready to charge, they just needed a target.

Player Phase/Turn 2!

lZjac0E.png

Victory Conditions:
Defeat all enemies!

Loss Conditions:
The Riese is destroyed!

Battle Mastery:
Defeat Marianne and Astin in the same turn!

Doc

Reinforcements from behind...? It would be a horrible idea to leave their rear exposed, especially to higher tier Apotheosis robots. Those were those, Deimos and Phobos units... An elite group out of nowhere. "What a mess..." Jess grunted, pushing what was left of her body up against the wall of her little rubble tomb. "That's... Slowed things down, a bit..." Putting her weight on her midsection opening was stopping her liquids from spilling out so rapidly, at least. "Body's trying to repair itself, too. Hope it can fix something."

Riese to top right 8,5!

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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"Just... don't, do it again. Please..." She was nearly begging Tristan. If he had actually died, she didn't know what she would do, moving forward. Would she be strong enough to continue on as she was now? Or would she... She didn't want to think about it, and now certainly wasn't the time for it; she'd be the one disappearing if she didn't get her act together. The immediate threat might have been gone, but there was still a field full of enemies in front of her. "I- We will win. I'm sure of it."

A warning from the Alymdis alerted her to Duane and his squad as they arrived. A pincer attack? They couldn't afford to let these enemies gain momentum while the rest of the enemies were bearing down on them. It was time to stop them in their tracks, starting with the lead model.

Almydis to 4,6 Acid Shotgun Duane.

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"Of course, Aly... Yeah. You're all gonna win. Go and kick some ass for all of us." Tristan let the line cut and slumped back into one of the meeting room chairs.

"[Ensign Calvin, your tylenol?]" Tiffany had stepped in, placing the little pills next to him, with a glass of water.

"Yeah... Thanks."

Aly gets shark with it and tries to melt some armor plating.

Final Stats: 70,39
Roll: 2,6
Hit
Crit!
Final Damage: 130!

"One of the aliens!? Sit still!"

Duane swings!
Final Stats: 9,31
Roll: 74,20
Miss!

Aly gains +10 EXP!

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Fake of a Fake

The Metis managed to escape the Praxis Alpha's claws by a matter of milimeters, being outmatched in speed by the rival machine. Still, even an ESP would struggle dealing with so many humans. "Go bark up another tree... in hell." It was satisfying to see a powerful enemy down... good on Kim for catching up to him. Now what remained was an annoying ringing in her head... It wasn't time for Esther's medication again, weird.

As if the aliens weren't enough, they were getting pincered by... actual Apotheosis troops. Esther frowned. I don't want to do this... "Duane, drop it! I'm here to fight the Sacarians, not you! Don't join them!" This wasn't good.

Esther? They'd gotten Esther to join them!? That girl idolized Vera... Then again, the Luna was flying about the ANF forces... "Esther, fighting them means fighting for the ANF! I'll never sink that low! And I can't believe you have. Surrender your machine, or I'll make you!" "Esther's here to make sure they don't take over the planet!" Nina had suddenly spoken up, staring ahead at her pilot. "You can hide behind them as a pretense if you want, but we all know what they'll do once the ANF is defeated!" "Tch... Who's to say!? Once they weaken themselves against the ANF, we can take them out! DISABLE YOUR MACHINE!"

"We shouldn't need the aliens to stop the ANF anymore! We can't get anything done with them here, they only want war!" Esther yelled back, "They... do you know what they did to Vera? Her limbs! If she defied them, they would take control of her limbs!" The Metis did not disarm like told, staring up the ganymede. "We're no better than the ANF with them here!"

"They... There's, there's no way! I dunno what lies you've been fed, but I can't..." Duane grit his teeth, raising up the Ganymede's sword. "I don't care! We have to win, no matter what! And we can't do that alone!"

"Lies? Vera's been with me, you thick-headed goon! You've gotta tell Helena to stop, not die for the aliens!" Esther was fuming, Duane could be so... stubborn.

"The Riese has to sink! That's my final word!" He shut his comms, if Esther was going to fight, then he'd take her down.

"I-- Grr! DUANE!" This was impossible, they had to immobilize the Ganymede...

"Esther... I'm sorry." Nina didn't know what to say... This had to be hard on her. A hand snuck over her seat onto the girl's shoulder, hoping to provide some level of comfort...

"I--" Esther was surprised by the pat on her shoulder, nearly forgetting Nina was there, in her rage. "It... will be okay. We need to capture him, get him to see Vera." It was a good reminder to breathe slower, at least. "I'll stop him. I'll try."

"Okay... I understand. If it comes to that, I'll be here for you." Hopefully it didn't, but Nina couldn't sit there and watch someone suffer this much. "I'll do my best to help you stay happy!" Funnels started to whir, Nina was ready.(editado)

"...?" It was... weird to hear that. Esther didn't expect a third gen clone to act out empathy spontaneously. "Thank you, Nina."

Esther to (5,4), attack the Ganymede with A KNIFE.

Esther attacks!
Target: Ganymede (Duane)
Weapon: Heat Carving Knife
Final Hit: 98
Final Crit: 78
Roll: 95, 74
Hit!
Crit!
Damage: 121!

Duane counters!
Weapon: Sacarian Sword
Final Hit: 56
Final Crit: 23
Roll: 12, 39
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 103

Esther gained +40 EXP, +3 Will!

A mighty trade!

Edited by Xinnidy

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"That hurt... Dammit, can this machine really not keep up? I thought--"

"Duane!" Vera's machine charged out of nowhere, sabers clashing!

"V-Vera!? What are you doing!?"

"You don't care!? You just want to win!? You're a complete fool!"

"What!?"

Vera moves to 5,5 and swings!

Final Stats: 75,33
Roll: 27,37
Hit!
Final Damage: 129!

"Vera, stop!"

Duane swings back!
67
Sword Lock misses!
Final Stats: 64,27
Roll: 2,76
Hit!
Final Damage: 82

"Vera, stop, stop! Why are we fighting!? I thought you love--"

"And I thought you gave a shit about our dream! But you just want to win, win with the Aliens who wants to enslave and rule this world!? Who did so to me for the past four years!?"

"Th-That's... That's not--"

"Be silent! I don't want to hear it... Any of it--"

"Andy is dead!"

Vera's machine froze, the woman staring at the screen in front of her. "What?"

"He took himself out to kill the ANF's commander and Field Marshal! We can beat them! We can take them out, turn on the aliens, and--"

Vera wasn't listening anymore. The Mk.III was hovering in the air, all motions ceased. "He's... He's, he's dead... No... He... He can't...!"

"Vera? Vera!?" Duane kicked his console, this machine wasn't enough to fix anything!

Vera gains +1 EXP, +5 Will!
Her Velite Mk.III stops moving!

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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The Riese? Safe? Oh Eric ... "The Riese is the biggest target in the world now that the ANF's command structure is in tatters," Megumi explained, her tone stern. She wasn't giving Johnson an inch just because the realities of war had finally dawned on him. He needed to get his head on straight or he'd be useless ...

Megumi had to tune Firmia out long enough to get Roxanna into the infirmary, but soon enough, the Alkaev was shouting at her again. "Jessica was CUT IN HALF, do you understand that?! She's going to bleed out in a few minutes at this rate! Find a way up the damn elevator shaft and bring get her to the infirmary! No other injuries matter, right now!"

"Alright! Stop badgering us! T-Tiffany, see if you can get around the lift shaft and make it up to the bridge. Stay in contact. Tambre, get one of the SIEG tanks ready for Jessica ... and hope we're fast enough."

"I'm on it," Tambre called back, heading in that direction.

"Now Firmia," Megumi irritably addressed the Avalon's captain, "I'll keep you up to date, but there's nothing more to add right now, so please focus on the battle. Keep Apotheosis and the Sacarians from hitting the Riese like that, again."

"Don't screw up. I'm not sure we can do this without the Riese and with the bridge destroyed, Jessica is the only one who can control the ship."

Megumi winced. That was an ... alarmingly good point, and helped explain the Alkaev's barking. "We have enough heads working together to figure this out," the doctor offered.


Loyalty (Chapter II)

Spoiler

The Gambit's hangar wasn't a proper meeting room, but neither the navigation room nor the cafetera were big enough to accommodate the vast majority of the crew. Gabriel also thought it might help to be able to address the most pertinent questions people had if the new personnel and equipment were in the same place.

The four salvaged machines had been laid out like corpses rather than placed into racks, of which the transport plane only had four. It originally had six, but the two toward the front of the plane had been converted into equipment racks. The weapons the Volkov Werewolf had been using belonged there. There were also two bodies recovered from the captured mobile suits, Syyn'Zay and Keel'Ran. They were covered and placed side by side near one of the wrecks.

Since the debriefing was mandatory for everyone this time around, the only person missing was Jack. He was taking over flying the transport for Lo while listening in over the comms, allowing the pilot to see everything in person. Wade was standing beside him, and holding a napkin to his nose and trying to suppress fresh memories. He'd searched the wrong machine and had been the first to discover the remains of the Sacarian squad leader. Today was a mixed bag for him. Ziva stood off to the side with the Sacarians, at what passed for a comfortable 'supervisory' distance. She knew Gabriel was going to introduce them shortly, and was somewhat dreading the crew's reactions. She'd already answered what questions she could, and the paranoia was spreading like wildfire thanks to those extraordinary telepathic abilities. Gabriel himself was standing on the back of the Volkov's Gatling gun for the extra height.

"First, I want to congratulate all of you for your efforts today. Not a single casualty was inflicted on us, and we've gathered enough data and materials to all but trivialize the next operation. More than that, we've also taken on two new allies. Haal'Sen and Raay'Xel." Gabriel took a moment to examine the crowd, about seventy strong at the moment, "I'm aware many of you have concerns. We'll begin addressing them now. If you have concerns, voice them and they'll be addressed. Keep it civil, mind you."

"I got a question," Lo raised one hand, and took his cigarette away from his lips with the other, "Aren't they aliens? Why'd they join up with us? Why not some big orgranization like the ANF?"

Not a bad question, though the answer probably wouldn't blow anyone away, least of all, Lo. "Would either of you like to answer Lo," Gabriel glanced curiously at Haal'Sen and Raay'Xel, "or should I?" He'd been ready to address most questions, but it felt less tactful for him to explain the Sacarians' code or his new nickname. If the crew heard it from them directly and felt whatever fervor they could manage in explaining it, Gabriel suspected it would go a long way toward convincing his team ... certainly farther than declaring himself King and inviting all manner of comedic stupidity into this.

Standing at attention like this, with so many humans gawking at her... What a horrible situation. If Gabriel had not declared this necessary, she would have remained in his quarters until further notice. Now... So many fingers, so many confused faces, she felt her brow wrinkling into a scowl already. Perhaps this is some sort of, human hazing ritual. Discussions were simply passed down to us by the leader, this... Mrrrr... This feels like some sort of show. Despite the disgruntled glare on her face, when the time to speak came, Gabriel offered them the chance to explain themselves before taking lead of the conversation.

"By your will, my Liege... By order of the creed I follow, having been bested in combat by Gabriel, and without a leader, he is now our King. Until we breathe our last, or he is defeated in turn, we shall serve him to the best of our abilities. Were it not for his efforts in your engagement today, we would have overpowered your transport, and you would all be dead. Be thankful you have such a strong leader! And know this." Haal'Sen narrowed her gaze, almost snarling at the crowd, as she raised her voice and her powers flared a moment.

"I will answer to no one except Gabriel. His orders are absolute, and his alone. I will get along with you lot, so long as you are respectful... Any challenges to myself or Gabriel shall not be tolerated! Lastly... If anyone dares to refer to me, as one of those creatures you humans hold as house pets, I fear even my King's orders shall not stay my wrath. You have been informed, and warned." It wasn't quite her intention, but the front of the crowd was likely feeling her pressure at this point, calming down momentarily. "You would all do well to be like Wade. He has shown respect to us, though it was brief. I am sure that it would please my Liege, were we to all get along."

"It is as Haal'Sen says. As is the Sacarian way, we have pledged fealty to the man who defeated us in combat. Our lives are his to command and use as he sees fit. My Liege has already seen fit to name me, but I shall repeat it. I am Raay'Xel, a proud warrior of the Sacarian race. So long as you do not disrupt my ability to protect My Liege and smite his enemies, we should get along quite well... provided you are respectful. I hope that will not be an issue." Raay'Xel noted, stepping forward in a firm Sacarian salute, hand held in a tight fist over her heart. The humans had mostly done a lot of gawking so far, only time would tell how their reactions would proceed from here.

"Once our Praxis Gamma models are properly repaired and refitted, we shall serve as Vanguard to Our Liege, so that he needn't risk his life in battle. The machines commonly employed in this part of the world cannot hold a candle."

The boss' orders were absolute? Lo felt like these pilots from another world had somehow been working with Gabriel longer than he had. Exactly who were the recruits being initiated here? The man's cigarette went right back in his mouth as he mumbled, "They for real?" He glanced at Wade, who'd been mentioned by name for whatever reason. Lo was busy piloting the transport while the suits were being brought in, so he missed whatever exchange the mechanic had with the Sacarians.

Lo wasn't the only one looking at Wade with renewed interest, and that had the mechanic shifting in place uncomfortably beside Lo. "Just said hi, that's all ..."

Most in the crowd were still focused on the newcomers. One of the other mechanics even shouted something that sounded like "Space chicks are fine by us, ladies!" Someone nearby said, "Are you nuts?" and he was followed up by something akin to, "Keep it in your pants." Some more neutral acknowledgments made it through the speculation, banter, and catcalling, as well. Some people tried to make lasting impressions by shouting out their own names and waving their arms in greeting. Unless one were near the front, there were few ways to stand out.

Ziva sighed at the mixed responses but kept her peace. This was one of those situations Gabriel himself would have to keep from getting out of hand. As for her personal opinion on the Sacarians, she didn't trust them right now. Between them being enemies not one hour ago and now declaring themselves Gabriel's vanguard, they were the sort that could easily take advantage of all of the team's weaknesses if they so chose. The biggest weakness they had, in Ziva's opinion, was Gabriel's fearless nature. He wasn't afraid of being defeated in battle or dying, and most importantly, he wasn't afraid of having his trust broken. She knew that from firsthand experience ...

"Grrrrr..." The humans sure didn't know their place, did they? Haal'Sen did her best to ignore them, stepping back and turning to Gabriel. "What now, then, my Liege? I am in agreement with Raay'Xel, once our machines are fixed, we shall be your shields in future combat. For now, I would very much like to begin what we had discussed earlier, or be allowed to practice simulations for the remainder of the flight." Getting gawked at was definitely not on her list of priorities.

A few names, some banter, and a single distinct moment of being hit on, in a sense. These humans were an odd group, with quite diverse reactions it would seem. At the least there had yet to be any noted displeasure.

"This... debriefing as you called it, is not something I am accustomed to, My Liege. Does it entail more than introductions?"

"Well, now that we have the major introductions out of the way," Gabriel glanced over at the four damaged mobile suits, "we're just about ready to get back to work. First, however," he faced the crowd next, causing a wave of attention to ripple out from Lo, Wade, and a few others, "I'm confirming here and now that we're pulling out of the EU theatre and heading to Russia ... Siberia to be exact."

The next mission was going ahead, then, Ziva realized. Not only were they packing up here, but they were moving over to Dima Alkeav's tertiary testing facility, Statlas. At least, that had been the plan. She didn't know if Dima would approve or not, but Gabriel had assured her that one way or another they would be planting a flag there once they finished one or two more hit and runs on Apotheosis and the EU. Given the haul today, it was no surprise Gabriel felt ready to make his move on the facility. After that, they had an even bigger target to seize.

"There's a small chance we'll have to engage the security there, but I'm negotiating for a peaceful changing of hands with Dima Alkaev. Either way, you're going to need to be prepared for combat. Once we have the situation under control, you'll be briefed on the next operation. We'll have significantly more time to prepare for it, but don't get comfortable."

That conversation he'd held with Dima, then. They were going to that facility, and gearing up for whatever he had planned next. Haal'Sen stood up straight, hand over her heart, nodding. "Yes, my King! I am prepared for whatever you need." Whether those needs be violent or coercive, she could assist in either task. Human minds weren't very durable, so if there were standouts, she could convince them.

"They're motivated," Lo said, dryly. He couldn't help but wonder what their cut of this group's shaky profits was going to be.

"Let's see, now ..." Gabriel pondered the options he and the Sacarians had discussed in his room, trying to decide what should come, first.

...

Still alive and nothing broken. As Gabriel picked himself up off the floor and began nursing his jaw, he decided that it was good enough to still be coherent and mobile. That clearly wasn't good enough for Ziva, who'd seen herself out of the rec room after his first round with Raay'Xel. Gabriel's second in command had been content to watch their tougher, dumber members get roundhoused into bruised heaps on the floor, but seeing Gabriel suffer much the same alongside them was just too much. She'd left to fetch a medic. Probably two ...

"It may have been easier to counter your moves if I was more familiar with Tae Kwon Do, Raay'Xel." Gabriel wasn't bleeding much, which he was thankful for; he'd just changed into something better for fighting, a black tank top, and some more comfortable slacks. He'd also managed to find some spare clothing for the Sacarians. Raay'Xel could spar without getting any blood on her flight suit or regular clothes. "That's a similar martial art ... unfortunately, you'll hardly encounter it in the EU ..."

"That's 'cause it's bloody ineffective," one of Gabriel's wounded mechanics gasped from the floor.

"It's good for showin' off to girls," Lo put in from his spot on the wall. He was just here to watch. And smoke, apparently. "Actually, I think Wade studied Tae Kwon Do. He's way too timid for this crap, though ..."

Haal'Sen had appreciated the change of clothing, but these... 'Work out' clothes, were so, very odd... Gabriel had insisted so they didn't dirty their uniforms, but human clothing, it lacked decorum, it lacked presence, it was so... Bland! Below normal, so basic. Reflective or their race, to be sure, though that realization didn't help much. Still... Gabriel had requested it, so while Raay'Xel did to him what she'd expected, she stood aside and watched, in a plain white T-shirt, and sweatpants. Despite trying to hide her annoyance, her tail was having none of it, swishing without rest behind her, having poked itself out the back.

"I would argue that it's quite effective, humans. I'm surprised so many of you thought you could manage against, not only, members of a superior race, but the bigger one, too. Honestly, you all will never cease to confuse me... My apologies in advance, Gabriel, for leaving you so injured, but... We did warn you." At least he seemed just bruised, not yet battered. Still, Raay'Xel would show no slack towards anyone, not even her king, if he wished this...

Then came an altogether unpleasant smell, wafting from one of Gabriel's men. Haal'Sen cocked an eye at him, before taking a moment to search her memories... Right. "You. For what purposes do you smoke this, tiny cancer stick?" She'd seen humans with them before, but when analyzed, the properties contained within were nearly all harmful. "Do you seek an early grave? While your race's medical technologies appear to be up to par with curing the disease caused by such an activity, I cannot understand why you would willingly put yourself through it. What are the benefits of this?"

Raay'Xel hadn't had much time to adjust to these human... work out clothes, as they had been called. Luckily, they were fairly lightweight, and clearly designed to be rather easy to move in. The Sacarian warrior could see the logic behind such a thing, specialty clothing for training carried less risk of damage to uniforms after all. Haal'Sen did not seem quite so pleased with them, but she also had remained on the sidelines so far. The appeal of this attire became far more apparent when used for it's intended purpose... a human invention that Raay'Xel could get behind.

"I do not know what this Tae Kwon Do is, My Liege, but rest assured that you would be better served simply inheriting martial skills from me directly if you wish to improve." Raay'Xel replied to Gabriel, cracking her neck as her King picked himself up off of the floor, having been rather unceremoniously hurled across the room moments prior. As to this point, not a single human opponent had managed to land a strike... which was to be expected, all of them coming at her one at a time, likely through some sense of pride. Pride that by now had surely been quashed.

"It is good to see that you still have fight in you, My Liege, but as you can surely understand at this point, a single one of you stands no chance. Any of you that feel you can still fight, come at me together. Perhaps as a group you might land a blow." Raay'Xel offered confidently, looking over the heaps of defeated humans. Would they try, or had they enough already?

Lo glanced blankly at Haal'Sen as she criticized his smoking habit. "Surprised you space tigresses know what cancer is. Anyway, it's no big deal, really. Helps manage the stress, at least. Kind of necessary when you're workin' for a guy like Gabe here. Got a taste for it as a kid, so ... not in a hurry to quit now."

Meanwhile, Gabriel brushed himself off with a smile. He resumed the same stance as he had before, good enough to pulverize most combatants in about three to four moves, but only enough to keep him alive against a Sacarian warrior. "I'd prefer to fight you alone, Raay'Xel ... though the others are free to form teams if they wish. Despite suggesting this, my goal is not landing a blow per se."

"Mine is," one of his men coughed and staggered forward into an offensive boxing stance.

"As for the others ..." Gabriel tried not to chuckle, already knowing in almost the exact way his man would go down this time, "... it should help ease tensions between us."

"It is an annoying sickness, one we have to deal with at times, but quickly dispatched... Hence my confusion that you would employ something so clearly hazardous. I realize that it can relieve stress, but plenty of other things can, things that will not kill you. I would normally not exercise such caution, but now that we are allies, I must recommend you cease. Having Gabriel's men die on him, or get sick, will likely affect how he feels." Not that she could physically stop him from doing this, but she could voice her complaints... How soon that it was time for another.

"Gabriel, if your goal is not to manage a hit, why are you bothering to damage yourself like this? I cannot see the point of this sort of training, you are merely flinging yourself at a brick wall in attempts to bring it down. Before Raay'Xel puts you back onto the mat, could you at least explain this? I find no amusement in watching you get tossed around like this... The rest of your men... Well, whatever. They bring this upon themselves." Brave, at least. Foolish, but brave.

Gabriel's answer was... odd. He wanted to fight her alone, and his goal wasn't to land a blow. Haal'Sen had already asked him to expound, so there was little reason behind adding her own inquiry. So instead, Raay'Xel focused on the crewman who came forward for another helping... once again on his own. 

Foolish. Once again he came at her, arms raised in a style that clearly favoured punching towards the upper body. Not only was he physically and mentally inferior, but his fighting style was a stylistic mismatch. Just as before, Raay'Xel easily evaded a blow to her upper body, and used her superior reach to swiftly unbalance the man with a sweep, followed up by a knee to the gut to fell him. A quick grab and a hefty toss left the man on the other end of the mat in a bruised pile... more bruised than before, which was saying something.

"At least attempt a different approach."

"Looks like someone's gettin' fed up," Lo noted, seeing one of the smaller men starting up a team effort. Lo looked back at Haal'Sen, a tad confused by her choice of words. "What do you care about his feelings for? I get not wantin' him at anything but his best, but ..." Lo nudged his head toward Gabriel, who was steadily approaching Raay'Xel.

"We're getting her now!" Gabriel winced as four of his men came charging through from both flanks. This was no choreographed fight sequence. They were a physically and mentally bruised pack of wolves aiming to rough up the newcomer and save face.

Gabriel tackled the Sacarians' shared question as his men tried to tackle Raay'Xel. "Surely you're beginning to pick up on some things. I certainly have. Fight someone, face to face whenever possible. That will tell you nearly everything you need to know about them."

"Why do I care about his feelings? He is my king. He is paramount, in all ways... Why else?" What an odd question... Maybe Gabriel could speak to this person about this habit, if he could not acquiesce over concerns. That only left...

"I... I suppose, Gabriel. I will admit, I am only uncomfortable because it is not enjoyable to watch you get injured in such a way-- not that another way would be preferable, I hope you understand. Still, if you think this is for the best, then I shall quiet my questions and allow you to... Enjoy yourself. Raay'Xel will hold nothing back, even if you ask." A sigh, arms folded, Haal'Sen leaned back against the wall Lo had found himself at.

"At least they may manage a hit this way, but it is a desperate attempt. They should have all come at once when this started, not waited until they were injured. Foolish."

"Good! Show me what you are capable of!" Raay'Xel roared as several men charged her at once. They were uncoordinated, but their angle of approach didn't leave her any unassailable flanks. Focusing as she closed her eyes, her mind's eye could  better track the incoming men than her physical sight ever could.

The first came, too far ahead of the others. Stepping into him, Raay'Xel quickly grabbed the man, hurling him into one of his compatriots. A miss... they had seen enough throws, and had learned that much at least. Still, she would be slowed down by the human missile. Her other side, another fist flung and caught before it could make contact. Twisting the offending arm as she lashed out to the other side with a straight kick, she forced another back as he moved to evade. A small opening, but enough to flip the man she had grappled over her head and slam him down onto the mat. Unconscious.

Three remaining. Still charging, foaming, rabid. Two approaching, the third standing up from being thrown. Taking a step forward, a foot lunged outwards, catching the woman's ankle and knocking her down. Stepping over her in a hard leap towards the straggler, a lunging fist to the face.. Raay'Xel hesitated only slightly, to ball her fist instead of swiping her claws and removing the man's face. It was still effective, knocking him to the floor. Two remaining. A charge from the man still standing, fist caught. A foot flung in response, also caught, leaving the man to be hurled away. That left only the grounded woman, who...

Raay'Xel felt the sweep catch her foot a moment too late. Pressing into the fall as her balance wavered, it was a simple manner to grapple the offending combatant, the duo tumbling a bit on the floor, Raay'Xel ending in a clearly dominant position as she gripped the last fighter in a grapple. Looking down at her, a smile formed on the Sacarian's face.

"You landed a blow, human. What's your name?"

"E-Eva ..." the girl just barely managed as she struggled to reverse Raay'Xel's maneuver. Momentum was no longer on her side, though. Even so, Eva managed to smile back, an almost do or die expression that let Raay'Xel know that this wasn't over until her whole body gave out.

"Now! Rush'er!" Someone had apparently sat out the fight for an opportunity just like this and charged toward Raay'Xel. Only one other person joined him.

"Why yell that ...?" Gabriel mused aloud, his next bout with Raay'Xel postponed once again.

"Hah! Nice knowin' you," Lo called to the two opportunists. "Anyway, caring's fine, I guess. I'm more concerned with whether or not he can do his job. Jobs. If he can handle command and piloting, his 'feels' are his business."

"It would not matter if they called it out or not, Raay'Xel would sense them coming... And no, Lo. His feelings are my business, now. So long as I can do something to improve his mood, or how he feels, I shall. Your opinion is of no consequence." They were all different in some way, these humans... Even if Lo continued on this tangent, it mattered not. Gabriel's feelings were her concern, now.

"As for handling things, he will do fine. We shall assist him when it comes to flying ahead to attack, when he has to deal with meeting other groups, and whenever he needs us, for whatever else he needs. If there is something that he cannot do on his own, we shall make him capable of accomplishing it, no matter the cost. Gabriel will do just fine." Talking him up gave her a small sense of accomplishment, whether it were to be believed yet or not, he would go on to accomplish all he set out to do, now. Thus, when he did, she would look back on this moment, and feel further satisfied.

"Raay'Xel, quit playing with your food! If you've taken a liking to one of the humans, you know I shall not let up on you for it!"

"Eva. Your countenance is strong. Good." Raay'Xel replied, before bringing her head down hard, headbutting poor Eva into a daze. Lifting herself off of the ground with her powerful legs, the Sacarian warrior flipped cleanly over top of the man approaching her from behind, delivering a solid kick to his back and sending him careening into his compatriot, both of them tumbling to the ground in a tight pile.

"Give me this, Haal'Sen. I am simply impressed, I did not think any of them would manage."

What year was it again? Eva tried to make sense of time and the world as she tumbled away from the unfolding scuffle. Right, 0251, year of the Thunder Cats incursion into the Earth Sphere. She only managed to get up onto one knee by the time the next pair of attackers was floored. Her turn! No mistakes this time ...

"I'm way more than you can chew, Ray!" Not her best comeback to the sacarian banter, but it was enough of a starter to get her on both feet and reasonably confident, again. She came in on full offense, not caring if she had backup on the way or not. This wasn't about numbers, it was about resolve, and punching or kicking the crap out of the towering tiger.

"Hey," Lo pointed his cigarette at the entrance to the rec room when Ziva and some relatively new faces appeared, "looks like the medics are here."

"Captain, don't move!" Ziva sent all three of the medics straight at him and ignored the others.

"I'm fine, really," Gabriel said as they moved in to take him. The man was certainly not a fan of overzealous first-aid, and the bruises didn't need much more than time, so when they came to drag him off to the transport's infirmary, a new round of sparring began, with Gabriel slipping free from any attempt to grapple him and falling back to more open ground each time.

"You might have a concussion, sir! Please cooperate!"

"That would make this a particularly poor showing on your part," Gabriel teased, working his way toward Lo and Haal'Sen as the medics tried to surround him.

"Fine, but do not take much longer with them. I believe Gabriel is about to lose his chance at a rematch." It indeed did appear that the medics were here, and what they were doing would not stand. Gabriel wished to continue his matches, yet they were attempting to subdue him and force care? He was fine! Bruised, but little else! Haal'Sen stepped forward with a scowl and put herself between him and the medics.

"Kneel, you ingrates!" It took little effort to force the men to their knees and allow Gabriel to properly get away from them, Haal'Sen snarling at the group. "If Gabriel believes that he is fine, then he is fine. Raay'Xel has bruised him, and nothing else. When he is finished here, he shall see to the treatment he needs. Do you understand me, humans?" Haal'Sen released her hold and scoffed, turned to Gabriel and attempting to soften her gaze.

"My apologies, my Liege... I simply couldn't allow them to continue to assault you like that."

Looking over at the beginnings of a scuffle between Gabriel and the medics of all people, the King appeared to not want the medical aid they were offering. He seemed to be evading them easily enough, and Haal'Sen stepped in to put a swift end to their antics. Putting her hand up just in time to catch Eva's flung fist, Raay'Xel immediately twisted her arm behind her back, applying heavy pressure to keep her subdued.

"My Liege has only gone a single round, it is appalling you would think so poorly of him after so little. Look after those crumpled in heaps on the floor, instead."

And just like that, the medics were all kneeling like peasants. Haal'Sen hadn't been bluffing earlier, not that Ziva thought she'd been. Not exactly. All she could do now was accept Gabriel's new proxy superpowers and keep a close eye on the situation. "Alright, focus on the others for now," she said as the medics stumbled to their feet in frightful confusion.

"My thanks, Haal'Sen," Gabriel smiled, "Normally they would simply ... wear me down."

"I don't think poorly of him, but this is dangerous," Ziva said, crossing her arms, "Captain, I honestly don't see the point of this. If you want the crew to let off some steam, that's one thing, but we need you in top form for the next operation. We don't have enough SIEG on hand to heal major injuries, so it's not worth the risk."

"The Alkaev facility we're heading toward does," Gabriel said pointedly.

"We have to get there, first. Until then, could you please be more cautious?"

Meanwhile, in Eva's part of the world ... "Ack!" She was fairly certain her arm wasn't supposed to bend quite that far, and her shoulder agreed. She couldn't break free on strength alone, though ... The thought of letting herself drop to the floor to shake loose was considered and immediately dismissed; her arm was already in a precarious position. Setting all of her weight against it would dislocate it if Raay'Xel didn't let go. As much as she wanted to fight the Sacarian with no holds barred, the medics would be all over her if she dislocated or broke something. She had to fight smart ... which didn't mean much while she was locked down like this, unfortunately ...

"You can't hold me like this forever ..." Eva hissed, trying to twist herself around to face Raay'Xel and go back on the offensive. She tried to throw the elbow of her freehand back to strike the Sacarian somewhere in the chest region as she fought against the vice grip on her arm.

"You're welcome, Gabriel. They should know their place, you are the leader here." Ziva's concern was appreciated for his well being, but she didn't quite seem to trust him. "I could not see the point at first either, but he explained himself quite clearly. ' Fight someone, face to face whenever possible. That will tell you nearly everything you need to know about them'." She understood the merit behind the idea, much as she didn't enjoy watching him get hurt specifically.

"Raay'Xel will make sure he does not get severely injured. You do not need to worry, Ziva. And on the off chance that she cannot control herself, I will intervene. For now, please quiet your worries. You are all being impossibly rude to him..." Taking her place at his side, Haal'Sen waited for Raay'Xel to defeat this last crew member, so that Gabriel could try proper.

"If you want any advice, Gabriel... While it would be best for you to learn for yourself, the gap is quite large. Ask, and I will provide what I can. This..." Haal'Sen took a moment to pry a name from the struggling woman. "This Eva seems rather adept, though. Even if it was in a group, to force Raay'Xel to the ground is quite a feat."

Eva's attempted elbow strike was easily caught by Raay'Xel's other hand. She really hadn't had much else to try, so it wasn't as though it was a particularly surprising maneuver. With both of her arms under control, it took naught but a swift kick to the back of the knee to drop the woman back down to the floor, where she was pinned and helpless within moments.

"You have put up a valiant effort, Eva. Rest your wounds and come to face me fresh another day. You've proven yourself worthy of my time, should you wish it."

Eva certainly had managed quite the feat, all things considered. In terms of strength and reflexes, she was behind almost everyone else, but despite that, she did have one advantage over the rest of Gabriel's crew. That advantage was- "Another day?! ... urgh. I'm not even that beat up ..." She said this through gritted teeth as her body argued fiercely with her. "You're getting tired, aren't you?"

"Well, Eva isn't one to give up, as you can see," Gabriel noted, "Quite the double-edged sword."

"Tch, double-edged sword?" Lo scoffed at what he thought was an understatement. "Your friend knows Eva's going to be on her like a hemorrhoid until she wins, right?" he looked at Haal'Sen.

"Give it a rest, Eva," Ziva scowled at the girl, "This is why you lost the Werewolf." Perhaps 'lost' wasn't the right word, but she certainly wasn't allowed to pilot their group's touchiest project any longer. Ziva wasn't allowing her to pilot mobile suits in general at the moment. As stubborn as she was, Eva was as likely to blow herself up as the enemy with the Volkov's Werewolf System engaged, and with other mobile suits, the thought of retreating never even crossed her mind. At present, she needed too much 'micromanaging' to send into battle.

Gabriel started to focus on Raay'Xel again now that the medics were taken care of and Eva was on her last legs. "Honestly, if I wasn't completely overmatched, I would ask for you to join in as well. After all, my goal isn't to come out the victor, today."

"We shall see about that, Lo. As for you, Gabriel... While I respect your wishes to spar for the moment, please do not attempt things that will leave you completely unable to fight. I understand your goal, but against two of us? I cannot guarantee your safety." Hopefully the point was made well enough, but she didn't quite expect Gabriel to stop himself were the situation to arise.

"As for you, Eva!" Haal'Sen stepped up to the ring, eyeing her down, arms still folded. "A warrior knows when they are bested, your struggle here is an insult to your pride. If you wish to be given the opportunity to try again, then stand down. We do not tolerate sore losers, and have better things to do than indulge a child that does not know her place. Do you understand?"

"Tired? No, I simply see no point in dragging this out any further. Discretion is the better part of valour." Raay'Xel clarified, releasing Eva from her pinned position and standing up a short ways away from her. If she wished to continue, so be it. Raay'Xel would simply need to knock her unconscious.

Eva pondered bitterly why she always got called a child or similar when she was giving something her all. Did she have to wait until she was Gabriel's age to not get looked down on for her determination or was her small stature going to be working against her even then? Either way, it sounded like she might get double-teamed or ... telepathied into submission if she kept fighting. That meant it was over, right? Taking both Sacarians and resisting their mental powers didn't seem 100% impossible, but ... well, even Eva had to admit she couldn't do much more than flounder right now.

"Valor, huh ...?" What to do? It wasn't as if giving up here didn't hurt her pride, too ...

"If you'd like, Eva," Gabriel addressed her, easing the rest of the way out of his fighting stance briefly, "you can team up with me next time."

Eva snickered at the thought. "But you'll be in a body cast by then." She didn't think Raay'Xel would go that hard on him, but every now and then she liked to give the impression that she was tougher than Gabriel. It was absolutely untrue, and the man had the medical records to prove it, but maybe someday she would surpass him. If not in skill, then at least in resilience.

"Then feel free to use me as a bludgeon," Gabriel shrugged, "For now, let me take care of things from here."

"Okay ..."

"Good girl." Haal'Sen sighed, a double team against them? "Gabriel..." She sighed even louder, he was just going to be like this, wasn't he? She went to lean back against the wall, waving the situation off. "Either way, feel free to begin your match, Gabriel. I will step in if things get too hectic... Ziva is right on one thing, we will require you for this next operation. Please keep that in mind, my Liege."

"Do not be sad, Eva. Raise your head high, for I look forward to our next match. You should understand what an honour that is, after experiencing my dismantling of your crew." Raay'Xel boisterously chimed in, a hearty guffaw accompanying it as Gabriel seemed to finally be coming up to bat for the second time, having waited for his men to tire themselves out first.

"Very well then, My Liege. Show me what you are capable of."

 

Edited by Phoenix

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"Don't screw up," Firmia warned Megumi over the comms, "I'm not sure we can do this without the Riese and with the bridge destroyed, Jessica is the only one who can control the ship." The Alkaev didn't know what sort of backups the Riese had, if any, but the Avalon had to be specifically set up to be controlled from the Garden if the bridge controls weren't working ... for whatever reason. If the Riese didn't have anything similar, then Jess' death would turn the ship into a giant brick. They would be guarding it again while trying to salvage their campaign against Apotheosis, and Firmia didn't like their chances.

Megumi seemed to get it, finally ... "We have enough heads working together to figure this out," came the doctor's sober reply.

Still on the line with Jessica, as well, Firmia winced at the finicky android's thoughts on getting things out in the open and said while she had the time. Talk about death flags ... "I've ... got things to say to you, too," Firmia admitted, "but you're not going to hear one peep out of me if you die, so survive!" Not the best way to motivate Jessica, especially since Firmia rarely had anything positive to say about her anyway, but maybe curiosity would help. "The drones are heading over to inspect the damage, but I need to make sure they won't make things worse before I get them working. Just hang on for now ..."

And ... great. Reinforcements, and a good number of them, Firmia noted. To the Alkaev's initial surprise, Astin tried to contact the Luna while the pincer began closing in on them. That had been an almost hilarious mistake on their part. Louise wasn't sparing the traitor any frustration--Firmia couldn't help but appreciate having that psychotic banter on her side for a change. As for the obvious question, 'what was Louise doing in the Luna?' that machine was officially an AMS unit, and so Firmia would only let one of her people pilot it. Vera was still ... Vera, so she would have to settle for a Velite. In either case, Louise seemed like a good fit for the suit. Now if only she wasn't so far away ... it was difficult to coordinate like this.

As the Avalon moved forward in step with the Riese, Firmia sent over her emergency signal to the Riese's defense drones to get them flying and inspecting the damage to the bridge more closely along with her own. Meanwhile, the Avalon's drones, six generic ones, and a red and maroon colored one, raced over to the large battleship. It took a moment, but Firmia recalled that in addition to putting some nice finishing touches on her Golden Eyes program, Brant had also moved A1 and A2 into the two new drones the mechanics had built. A1's new body was painted a grayish maroon, same as the Throne prototype and the Mini-Throne it had been occupying, and A2 was painted red, to help distinguish them both from the normal ones. Hopefully fourteen drones all working in tandem could find a solution for Jessica, but otherwise, Firmia was still working on the problem from the other direction with Megumi ...

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Okay, with the immediate threat was out of the way, thanks to everyone who dogpiled the cat, Abigail had a bit more breathing room. Which unfortunately only meant more time to worry. The word on the comms had said Jess was alive, but that didn't stop the Riese's bridge from being any less destroyed, and the captain wasn't the only one in residence there. Hell, didn't Megumi usually hang out there for ops, if she wasn't in the med bay actively working on something?

Mmm, better drop a line to her friend, just in case. "Megumi," Abby started a little hesitantly. "I, uh, you're probably swamped down there so I'm not gonna eat up your time. Just wanted to say, take care, give care. See ya when we're done out here." She bit her lip, contemplated asking after Jess's status, then decided better of it. She was alive, she was still piloting. Just have faith, Abby.

Turning to Calina, she explained the call a little more. "That's the doctor there, good woman. Saved my life actually, and was pretty much my first friend on board, only one to come and see me when I was in the brig. I'll have to introduce you."

Warning beeps from radar, however, cut short this brief period of relaxation, and also put the kibosh on the rebel's expected plans to kick things into full gear and try to catch up with the others who'd begun pressing onward. No, there were now incoming from the rear. "Just what needed, eh," she grumbled halfheartedly.

It was a familiar machine, leading the reinforcements, and hell, maybe she and the nerd would tagteam him agai--oh, well the former Apo were already going to town on him. Better book it if she wanted to lock swords at all.

Abby lands, nyooms to 4,5, and beats Dwayne with the big sword

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Abby nyooms!

Abby attacks!
Target: Ganymede (Duane)
Weapon: Beam Claymore
Final Hit: 97
Final Crit: 24
Roll: 44, 74
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 220

The Ganymede is a goner!

Abby gains +400 EXP, +7 Will, +24 PP, +16000 credits!

 

 

"So this is, it... Huh?" Duane's console crackled with energy, as leaks formed in the machine's systems. It would be long, now. "Helena was right. Pincer attack... Wasn't a smart idea. Vera... I'm sorr--" The explosion that followed scorched the entirety of the Ganymede, the husk slowly falling down to Earth, and collapsing in a wreck.

 

Failure of a Fake

"Wait! Don't swing to--" Esther didn't manage as much damage as she hoped before others started piling on Duane, even Vera. Duane also bore horrible news as far as Vera was concerned, and while lost in emotion, Esther could only watch as Duane was shot down. For good.

"Khh..." A brief guttural sound escaped Esther, her hands gripping the console harder, rigidly. The Metis simply hovered, watching the scene, but its fin funnels kept jittering in place. There was a subdued but constant rage coming from the machine.

"Fuck this..." Esther released her breath, leaning against her seat. She still needed to fight, despite everything... there was a lot of agression to let go.

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"[I'm on it, Doctor.]" Tiffany met Liz at the elevator, having left the ensign to his headache. Rachel would be up in a moment, but the first order of business was seeing how easily they could get into what was left of the bridge from the elevator shaft. Liz stood watch while Tiffany headed inside the busted up elevator, trying to push the ceiling hatch open... It was stuck hard. With some force, she managed to get it open, staring up at th mangled mess of metal above. "[Attempting entry...]"

"[Take care to exercise caution, Tiffany.]" Liz stepped into the elevator underneath her, as Tiff slipped into the space above the elevator.

"[Affirmative. Engaging headlights.]" Things were rather messed up... They would probably need some tools and careful cutting to get through most of this. "[Engaging wrist saber. Taking measures to accurately cut and progress towards the Captain's reported position.]" A small hilt popped out of her wrist, what appeared to be a handheld beam saber igniting from it. With careful aim, she began to cut through some of the sheets and beams in her way, making sure to slowly approach, as to not cause the structure to collapse with the wrong slice.


"I'm trying, just--" [Systems shutting down. Repair systems cannot keep up with internal damage and blood loss. Shutting down emotional emitter and tastebud simulators.] What, no, no you can keep up with things! N-No! Hey, what the fuck, body!? You were made for this! Come on! Small things here and there were continuing to shut off, she couldn't get them to stop, no system sorts were helping.

"This is so stupid," Jess whined, trying not to cry, failing at that, and sniffling as her remaining hand wiped at her eyes. "I just want to live! I want to see Abby! I don't want to keep having to fight the ANF's stupid battle for them! What did I do to deserve this!? Who deserves to get trapped under rubble, dismantled, bleeding to death!? I just wanna live!" Jess didn't care if it was unbecoming at this point, sobbing into her connected call with Firmia. Everything was too heavy. The ANF wanted her to pilot the biggest target they had on the field, fight aliens they knew barely anything about, win, and come back alive. Why? Because she was their best? She wasn't. She was just the keys to the car. Miller would've done so much more as a captain, she barely had a handle on the job now, and if she even lived to talk about this awful day, could she get over the trauma of having been gored?

Even now, her blood was pooling underneath her, her repair systems not doing much to stop things...


"'Nother girlfriend I don't know about?" Calina jeered, smirking. Hopefully Abby would take the joke, Calina deserved to at least mock her situation, if anything. Reinforcements put her joke out pretty quickly, as she sighed. "We're real deep in the shit, huh? Get 'em, Abby!" The Vergloria hit the ground and dashed hard towards the new lead machine, Abby's sword hitting it nice and clean, a deep cash lining the thing.

One explosion later, Calina cheered. "Damn right! One less asshat to deal with! Who's next, eh?"


"Esther..." The rage radiating from her was intense... Nina wasn't sure if there were words she could say to help, right now, leaning forward and sliding arms around the seat to hug the girl. "I'm sorry." Was there anything else she could say, at this point? "I'm... I'm, so sorry..."

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Seung-Min sensed the awkward hug coming before it happened, leaning into it slightly so that Christina could actually make some level of contact. After all this time, and all of his atrocities... not only the ones they had witnessed, but those from before... Soor'Kan was gone. The others would fall in short order after him.

"Yeah... we got him, Chrissy. I feel stronger than ever... with you beside me, we can beat them. I could feel it, Chrissy... trying to take on your powers, it made him weaker than me. C'mon, let's finish this." Kim added, although the enemy movement soon afterwards was... odd. The Apotheosis forces seemed to be deliberately avoiding her... did they realize she was trying to take point and distract them from the ship? Possible, but they generally weren't... smart enough to take on the less aggressive tactic. She had sort of been banking on their usual play pattern, and it had admittedly left her a little exposed. What came in next wasn't helping matters, her previously display unsurprisingly catching the attention of another Sacarian, racing towards her in what could only be described as a mountain of a machine. And that pressure... he was definitely a Knight.

'My name is Kim Seung-Min, Sacarian. Care to share? And sorry to disappoint, but I wouldn't consider myself much of a duelist. One on ones aren't really my style.' Seung-Min responded mentally, turning her head slightly towards Christina.

"Get ready to take control of our movement, Chrissy. I'm gonna try to make a strafing run, make us some distance and get us closer to the rest of the crew."

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"Hmph, good riddance. Duane was a loser, anyway." Louise shrugged at the death of her former comrade, having the Luna land and race towards the forest surrounding the area. "Time to pick off another... Which one will it... Be!"

Thrusters at Max, the Luna moves to 3,4 and rams into Deimos #6 with its liquid blade!

Final Stats: 100,57
Roll: 71,8
Hit
Crit!
Final Damage: 186!

"The Luna!? What!?"

The confused Deimos swings back!

Final Stats: 12,23
Roll: 18,49
Miss!

Louise gains +1 EXP, +3 Will!

"Villain! You will not survive!"

Kazue follows up, at 3,6!

Final Stats: 100,46
Roll: 59,5
Hit
Crit!
Final Damage: 234!

The Deimos is sliced in twain!

Kazue gains +250 EXP, +4 Will, +12 PP!

Hannah transforms and flies to 4,7! Beams fire!

Final Stats: 72,10
Roll: 100,63
Miss!

Deimos #9 fires back!

Final Stats: 29,20
Roll: 35,32
Miss!

Hannah gains +2 Will!

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Aliza felt great relief at the conversation between Aly and Tristan. She simply smiled as she heard her slowly wind down a bit, though still a bit fearful as they were still in great danger. Especially after reinforcements for the enemy had arrived. Still, it was a good. "...right, we'll win." She repeated as she turned to face the frontline. "We'll all go back home together in one piece, I know it!"

Aliza hustles up to 10, 16 and casts Focus to prepare for the oncoming battle.

Edited by TheRoon

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(Flavor and other stuff later or in next post)

Brant moves to 13,15 and attacks Cressida #3 with TK Missiles.

"What the hell ...?" Brant couldn't sense Jessica anymore ... but Firmia could sense him and Jessica's apparent absence.

"She's still alive. Focus," Firmia messaged the Regalia directly.

"... dammit, how does she keep up with all of this ...?" Brant grit his teeth as they lined up a target. "Right, you want to try out those new missiles, Chris?" Even the battle couldn't distract him from what was going on aboard the Riese, but he had to be careful. There were quite literally three people on board, this time ...

(Running formatting tests: Just pretend a horizontal line is here)

Megumi hadn't expected to hear from Abigail in the middle of this mess, though to be frank, she hadn't expected to hear from Firmia, either. "I'm fine for now, but keep them off of the Riese as best you can." Wanting to spare Abby the details until she had something to say besides 'Jessica's trapped and we're trying to reach her,' Megumi left that out so her friend could focus. There was a thought, though ... about what to do if they found out there wasn't enough time to save the captain. Keeping people out of the loop to keep morale up was a classic strategy in warfare, but it could rob people of some precious goodbyes, as well. All Megumi could do right now was assume there was time and act accordingly.

(Pretend there's another line here)

Firmia's fingers curled into fists when Jessica started to cry out in the destroyed bridge. Was she really doing this right now? Even worse, she just had to mention the one person the Alkaev couldn't fathom. "Abigail, Abigail, always with that stupid talking cudgel. I'M the one that's going to save you, NOT her!" Tonya and Marcia didn't have to point out why Abigail was the main person--if not the only one--on Jessica's mind, right now. She already knew. She knew full well how that worked, but it still managed to set her off. Given what she was holding back from her fellow captain and rival, she could never have any patience for it.

"Look," Firmia tried to amend herself with a clearly forced calm in her tone, "You can freak out once everything goes dark. Until then ..." Looking at the various camera feeds from the drones, Firmia didn't see a way from them to power through the wreckage without making Jessica's situation worse. She kept them searching, but she was hoping against hope that things were going better on Megumi's end.

"Heh ... you see now, Jessica?" Firmia asked with a bitter realization. Perhaps it wasn't a bad idea to try and occupy Jessica's mind a little. "You see what it's like to be put in a situation you didn't deserve? You see why I do what I do? Why being prepared is more important than your hot tubs, pool parties, and sneaky date nights?" ... she was willing to risk getting under her skin to do it ... better than more crying, if it actually worked. "I'm going to prove to the whole world that I'm a better captain than you, that I did more with less, that I never put my people or my crew at unnecessary risk, and that I'm a woman of my word, first and foremost. We're all fighting to stay alive, here. That's why I'm going to save what's left of your stupid annoying face and beat Apotheosis and the Sacarians to death with it. You can fly off into the sunset with your precious rebel fuckup after that."

"... sheesh," Tonya shifted uncomfortably in her chair.

What's Mine is Mine (Chapter I)

...

They saw new places and new faces, these two Sacarians that had joined up with Gabriel and his team. In addition to the Archangel, Jack II, and Volkov Werewolf, the team also had two more mobile suits, an EU fighter plane, two battle tanks from a Chinese manufacturer, an Israeli radar equipped hovertruck, and several cargo haulers from God knows where. Once everything and everyone were aboard the transport plane, they were off and heading eastward for Siberia. The timing couldn't have been better, as Dima had seen fit to call Gabriel back before they entered Russian airspace proper. The Russian skies weren't particularly well defended at the moment, but that was a two-edged sword with Apotheosis sneaking about. Dima was able to provide them a relatively safe route to the Alkaev company's third facility, the Statlas Testing Facility. That just left their final preparations before landing. It was of the utmost importance that they gain complete and total control of all systems throughout the facility before allowing either the Sacarians or the Praxis wrecks to be seen for what they were ...

Not everyone in Gabriel's crew fully appreciated the delicate touch needed in a situation like this. While he was prepared to fight, Dima had already handed them Statlas on a silver platter. No one should get wounded or killed securing the place at this point. That would be utterly pathetic. Just the same, a few of the thickheaded ones wanted to deal with potential information leaks by marching them into holding cells. They didn't seem to realize that Statlas would have hundreds of staff members, nor that a good quarter of them would have weapons, hand to hand, and MS training on par with or exceeding Russian Special Forces. Only Haal'Sen and Raay'Xel were in any position to even attempt such a heavyhanded approach. Gabriel had been planning a briefing anyway, but here he needed to be sure that everyone understood the severity of the situation. Innocent screwups couldn't be tolerated here, so he gathered them in the cargo bay.

"We'll be arriving at the Statlas Testing Facility shortly," Gabriel began, his normal relaxed and unfazed demeanor seemingly gone. He looked dead serious, with the uncompromising gaze of a hawk that looked over every person there at least once. "This is not a smash and grab; we won't be fighting anyone. I've already arranged to have the management of the facility turned over to me for the time being, so what we will be doing is setting up shop here and adding more mobile suits and supporting equipment to our ranks."

"Everyone will have their individual assignments once we arrive, but you all have the same crucial responsibility of secrecy. Most of you have met our two newest members, Haal'Sen and Raay'Xel. Dima doesn't know about them, and it's going to stay that way until I say otherwise. Absolutely no one outside the facility is to know of their existence, or the Praxis units we brought with us. I cannot express just how important this is, so listen carefully. Do not speak openly about them or their mobile suits, do not keep records of anything related to them beyond authorized devices, and don't attempt to contact anyone outside without permission from either myself, Ziva, or a proxy.  There are many lives at stake, and you will not be walking away with a slap on the wrist for jeopardizing our plans. If you can't control your tongue, figure it out before we land. We'll be arriving within the hour. Ziva will be giving you your assignments. She can handle your questions. That's all for now. Dismissed."

Seeing Gabriel serious like this was nice. He hadn't exactly been lacking in seriousness previously, but this was a different kind, a deliberate kind, the kind of directness that meant a real operation was happening. While that ended up being true... Haal'Sen had to voice some discomfort at the situation. Top that off with the discomfort of the clothes she'd been provided, and it was very hard to stay her words when Gabriel finished. A grumble was rather clear on her face, arms folded, eyes shut, she opened her mouth once to speak and stopped herself, rethinking her words.

"Gabriel," she finally began, almost anxious to continue. "Would you mind, if I were to ask a question, or two?" He probably did mind, but she couldn't stop herself, there were serious considerations to address in this situation. Mostly how they were supposed to stay by his side, and remain entirely incognito, at the same time.

'Gabriel, I should be addressing you out loud, but I simply must ask this before you can answer properly. Think on it if you must. I refuse to leave your side, especially in a situation like this. You are too important to let die to some mishap, so we will have to figure some way to have Raay'Xel and I accompany you whilst remaining unknown. We can wear your Earthling helmets, despite the mild discomfort, and while it would look odd, it would be the easiest way to keep you safe. My apologies for speaking out of line, my Liege...'

Haal'Sen's thoughts weren't far off from what Gabriel had been pondering as the briefing got underway. Perhaps her way of doing things would be less of a spectacle compared to his ...

'Well, I'll be playing dress up as well,' Gabriel mentally replied, 'It's not uncommon for important people to have armed escorts at their side, and as for disguises, I do have something in mind, though I doubt you'll find your helmets any more comfortable.' "We'll discuss it on the way to the cockpit," Gabriel said aloud, starting for the cargo bay's exit and toward the front of the giant plane. Lo was on his way there too and had a headstart on them.

'If our King has something in mind, I will trust his judgment on the matter. How do you intend to conceal us, My Liege?' Raay'Xel chimed in mentally, watching the humans scurry about to their positions as they approached their destination. This Statlas facility, as Gabriel had called it, would be where the remains of their Gamma models would be refitted into something new... a fusion of Sacarian technology with the best the humans had to offer. Once that was complete, Gabriel's scavenger transport would cease to be as such, and become a truly potent fighting force. 

'You will?' The thought was surprising, as far as humans were considered, Gabriel fit right in... Was there a need for that? 'If you have something in mind, please let us know, to consider.' A helmet, a human's specifically, was rather tight, and it bent her ears, but not to the point of pain, just discomfort. Hearing became... A bit unfortunate, but Gabriel could speak to them in his mind if there was anything important that they needed to hear.

Catching up with him as they followed behind Lo, Haal'Sen grumbled and adjusted this coat once again, why did humans wear such form fitting apparel? It just felt so, odd. Their pilot suits were similar, but that was for protection, providing a seal in case of breach, and to make sure any necessary combat was streamlined. In that sense, the 'work out' clothes from before had proved rather useful for that session of sparring they'd had, but now... She wished to wear her own, robes were comfortable and flowed, they were elegant and stylish without bothering the wearer.

"Why have you made us wear these, if I may ask? While I appreciate the extra clothing, these are so... Mrrrr... Why do human female clothes accentuate all curves? Is there a purpose to this? It is not tight enough to become bothersome, but it is definitely... Weird."

Gabriel couldn't help but grin in amusement, wondering if something looser like a yukata would suit Haal'Sen. She couldn't look more out of place if she tried, so it was a serious consideration on his part. As for the purpose, "Any sex appeal a person has can be accentuated by their clothing. Some cultures have differing styles. Differing priorities, as well.

"Consider these temporary until we can find something you like or you feel comfortable with them. You'll be changing again soon, regardless. You two will be wearing full tactical gear complete with AR equipped helmets and body armor. I still have eleven sets of gear from my light infantry days and I believe they'll make good disguises until things settle down."

That light infantry armor was impressive by civilian standards, but it was more about the aesthetic. Gabriel had been planning to use his own gear for the next operation since some combat would definitely be involved, but having Haal'Sen and Raay'Xel use a pair of them to hide their Sacarian features was warranted here. In the past, reusing the gear of his fallen comrades wouldn't have sat well with him, but Gabriel was well beyond that kind of sentimentality now.

"They are a bit strange compared to what we would usually wear, but I do not particularly see the issue, Haal'Sen. They serve as functional clothing...  as for why, humans do enjoy showing off in such ways." Raay'Xel noted as she followed along, a gentle chuckle escaping her at Haal'Sen's grumbling. Such a thing wouldn't have been her first choice, but she didn't see much need to complain about it.

"Tactical gear, my Liege? Some sort of combat armour, then... a full suit of gear should provide adequate concealment, so long as it is a full-body suit."

"Sex appeal? Do you not choose partners based on... Of course you don't. I should have expected nothing less." Haal'Sen quickly made the assumption that humans chose their partners for their looks and personalities, rather than who was the best fit as a fighting partner. Yes, personalities were important, but if you couldn't fight alongside someone, what was the point in being together with them?

"They should be showing off how well they can defeat their enemies, not how large their protrusions are. Fools, the lot of them... Mrrrrr..." Why Raay'Xel knew so much about this was beyond her, and she could not at all agree that these clothes held no issue. They were simply... Odd.

"If they are similar to our pilot suits, I should have no issue with them. I can hide my tail well enough already, so I shall assume your helmets will fit to cover the ears. A warning, Gabriel, we will not be able to hear as well with such a thing covering and bending them so, so if you need to discuss things with us immediately, please try to use your mind. We shall be vigilant to pick up anything necessary."

The light infantry gear reduced natural human hearing as well, though likely not as severely as a Sacarian, but just the same, Gabriel felt they made up for it with the AR sensors and HUD. Whether Haal'Sen and Raay'Xel would appreciate the assisted spatial awareness or find fault with humans relying on it in the first place was uncertain.

"Communicating mentally is fine," Gabriel nodded. Actually, he almost preferred it overall for the convenience. He didn't suffer from those seemingly random intrusive thoughts that plagued some people, so the prospect of being read constantly for the occasional command or brief was a welcome one. "Not saying much or anything at all will make you even more intimidating, which will go a long way here."

Gabriel considered a detour to show his bodyguards the equipment they would be borrowing, but his mental clock told him that it could wait a bit longer. First he wanted to make sure Jack wasn't making an ass of himself with the Alkaev security team, who'd likely be making contact and providing escort soon. Lo wasn't much better with people, so making sure he didn't antagonize them was just as important. "Hold the door," Gabriel called ahead to Lo as the man reached the cockpit door and stepped through.

"They hold differing values to us, Haal'Sen. It is likely borne out of a lack of necessity in their case... humans have had far less need of conquest to survive as a species and thrive until now. It makes them poorly suited to a war against the Sacarian race, but that can be fairly said of most all species." Raay'Xel replied, continuing her laugh. It seemed that Haal'Sen had not given much notice at all to the humans that they had worked along with after making contact... Raay'Xel wouldn't consider herself an expert by any means, but curiosity had certainly caught the cat. Not killed, obviously.

"My Liege, if intimidation is a goal, we can further assist with that. Haal'sen is more adept than I, but we can impose such feelings onto those of minds more feeble than our own."

"Why do you know so much about them? It worries me. We were here to kill them, not learn their culture. It might do to help me now, but your foreknowledge is... Disturbing, I suppose." She sighed, it was probably rather rude to Gabriel, saying all of this, but it was how she felt. At least previously, and the change would not come swiftly now that they were allied. Still, there were... Certain aspects of Gabriel's leadership that made this change not all terrible.

"If such a thing is required, I would be glad to assist. I do not think many would stand up to us fully suited, though. Humans are rather cowardly when faced with someone larger than them, and... While Gabriel is certainly not lacking in height, this does not appear to be the average for most humans. I fear your stature will intimidate most all of them well enough, Raay'Xel."

"Indeed, they'll almost certainly mistake you for a man," Gabriel added. It wasn't a bad thing. The more off base the facility personnel were, the easier this would be, telepathic intimidation or no. Speaking of which ... "Use it sparingly. I want them to think the two of you are simply well trained bodyguards with a natural, hostile aura. Keep an eye on people that seem like they're 'biding their time' and keep them in check if you can. Once we have complete control, there won't be any more need for these shenanigans."

Lo held the door until the group arrived, but it was too late to do anything about the cockpit's oppressive atmosphere. The man smoked in their often enough that a barely visible haze had overtaken the place, though this time it was unusually thick. That didn't bother Jack of course, who was currently at the helm, but even Gabriel felt an overwhelming urge to ventilate the place when he stepped inside.

"Lo, I tolerate your smoking habit because you're an excellent pilot, but this ..."

"Yeah, I know, I know!" Lo batted furiously at the haze while Gabriel approached an interface on the wall. He was hunting for the HVAC controls. "Broke down during the fight, sorry ..."

That explained it. Gabriel admittedly found that amusing. He was worried about the Sacarians' heightened sense of smell making the cockpit inhospitable, and yet they'd caused this ... with some help from Lo, of course.

"Is it so odd that I found them curious? We've yet to encounter another race like this, before... they are interesting to observe." Came the retort from Raay'Xel, although any further thoughts on the matter were cut off by an oppressive odour from the cockpit.

"Grah... what a foul stench."

"I worry you will become too fond, like that Eva from earlier. While a human has never been able to defeat you in hand to hand, nor strike a hit, getting so excited from one mistake, while being grouped up on, I do find it somewhat suspicious..." That was how Haal'Sen felt about it, anyway.

"Pray you do not meet any Sacarian males, then. They border seven feet, by your human measurement systems." Raay'Xel being mistaken for a man was an amusing thought, at least. Enough to make her giggle, just a tad, relaxing and nodding at Gabriel's instructions. "Of course. No one is getting in your way." Things seemed to be settled for now, so heading into the cockpit with Gabriel, they--

"Augh!" A hefty cough followed her exclamation, clutching her nose, eyes glaring daggers over at Lo. "What is wrong with you, human!? Are you trying to give the rest of us cancer along with yourself!? It's not a contest to see who can make themselves sick first!" What was all this? Did he truly smoke so much, so often? Ugh, it was a vile smell, almost enough to make her hurl. She tried to compose herself in front of her King, but she didn't let go of her face, the smell was simply abhorrent.

"Give me a break, will ya?" Lo winced, still fighting an uphill battle against the haze, "I didn't know the vents that led here were scrapped until a little while ago."

"You poor, poor breathers," Jack mused as he switched on the comms. "This is Gambit to Statlas Control. We are still awaiting clearance to land."

"Statlas Control to Gambit," a male with a Russian accent came back, "Wait for your escorts. You should have visual, soon. They'll guide you in."

Jack muted the comm. "Pff, guidance ... well, what do you know; there they are." There was no actual visual from the cockpit itself, but they had been visible on radar for a while now, and the external cameras had picked out two specs from the morning sky. There was also a flier flying somewhere out there. The two AMS units were approaching at high speed from the starboard side of the plane.

"By the way, Captain ..." Jack's head twisted about 160 degrees to face Gabriel and the others, "Evangeline wanted to see the base for herself, so she hopped into one of the fliers and took off a few minutes ago." He took a moment to point a finger out toward the front of the transport, but there was nothing outside but clouds.

"Oh?" Gabriel glanced at the radar, and in addition to the two AMS units approaching, there was a flier a ways ahead of the transport. Too far out and too small to see with the naked eye, but close enough to show up clearly on their sensors.

"What?!" Lo was positively mortified ... and a little confused at first. "How did she- ... oh ... of course, grab a flight suit, get outside through a hatch, climb down to a flier, then hop in and cut loose." Lo's explanation didn't do the feat justice. To reach one of the fliers while the transport plane was in transit required making one's way across the outside of the plane, climbing down the pylons the fliers were docked on, and getting inside of one, incredibly harsh wind conditions be damned. One mistake was death.

"Eva, can you hear me?" Gabriel accessed the copilot's comm system. "We have escorts incoming. Stay close and don't annoy them."

"Yes sir!"

Lo wanted to reprimand her and tell her to get back inside the plane, but Gabriel was clearly content to let her fly as long as she didn't cause any trouble ...

"Give you a break? Which arm. This place is filthy... What a disgusting habit..." Haal'Sen was still desperately clutching her nose, how did someone smoke so much? It didn't seem like something that would come with an answer if she tried asking, so she stored that thought away and started thinking about this Jack, instead. Seeing him turn his head like that was mildly off putting, but he was a machine, after all... It seemed like things were going to be smooth for landing, at least. Mostly.

"She did what? Hah! Alright, perhaps your judgement of her was sound, Raay'Xel. What an interesting human, doing something so reckless simply for the sake of it." Somewhat more than just a lucky strike, it seemed. "Shall we go and get suited up, Gabriel? I would like to spend as little time in this cloud of death as is possible."

Haal'sen seemed concerned she might grow too attached to the humans, did she? A bit of curiousity was healthy, insofar as Raay'Xel was concerned. Ignoring them seemed foolish... even inferior races had still conquered their own planets, still had potential lessons to teach. It seemed that Haal'Sen's example of the girl Eva was unfounded however, as it was revealed the girl had made her way outside the transport and was riding one of Gabriel's suicide bombers.

"Hah! I knew that one would be of interest, Haal'Sen. You should not doubt me so... I traded blows with her after all, there is no better way to understand someone." Raay'Xel replied, taking in another mouthful of smoke in the process. Disgusting.

"I will await you in the hallway, my Liege. I cannot take another moment of this. Haal'sen has the right idea." Raay'Xel added, being the first to step outside of the cockpit. What a mortifying hobby.

"Yes, we should be going," Gabriel agreed, "Jack, help Lo air this place out after we've landed ... and have someone fix the ventilation."

It wasn't too far to Gabriel's room, which thankfully came with its own shower. He could use one after that, frankly. He gave his two bodyguards the opportunity to use it first to get the smell off of them. It also gave him time to get their gear ready and laid out. The basic clothing was ... well, basic. They could wear their own undergarments beneath the combat pants and long sleeve shirt. Above those would be a harness that some of the optionals clung to, and above that would be the armor pieces and helmet.

Gabriel's own outfit was more business oriented. Black dress pants, a light blue dress shirt, a dark vest, a tie with a plaited pattern, a large trench coat to sit overtop everything, dark, laceless shoes, and a pair of black gloves. It wasn't winter, but summer and the tail end of it at that, so the weather didn't warrant any extras.

"Good... Stop smoking already, Lo." Haal'Sen was afraid that she wouldn't be able to work the smell out of her fur after swimming in that haze, but luckily, Gabriel had a fully working shower in that small room of his. It was a bit different to what she was used to, but it was comfortable. The clothes that came after... Were not. Not any worse than previous, but the previous hadn't been very enjoyable. Still, they had to look the part... After a while of setting up a harness and the appropriate armor pieces, Haal'Sen was looking the part.

Helmet aside for now, with everything setup, it wasn't that different from wearing her pilot suit. Considering the severity of the mission coming up, she would make no complaints. Giving Gabriel's getup a look over, she was surprised he wasn't going to be wearing anything armored himself. "Do you think you will have enough protection in that odd getup, Gabriel? I know you have us, but, not wearing anything underneath that? Unless I missed it in your setup of clothing."

Luckily it didn't take long for Gabriel to finish in the smoke-pit, and better yet, he had a shower to use to wash out the smell. By the time Raay'Xel had finished, their tactical gear had been laid out ready to go. It was vaguely similar to a pilot suit, and should more than adequately conceal them for the upcoming operation. As for Gabriel's outfit...

"I believe it is our Liege's intention to not appear threatening, since this is not intended to come across as a hostile takeover. Not that body armour wouldn't still be a sensible choice."

Raay'Xel was right about Gabriel not wanting to appear threatening, but there was a bit more to it than that. "Body armor tends to put me in a 'combative' mood, and it shows on my face. Perhaps it's an artifact of my training, but it's something I've yet to overcome. Besides, these are Dima Alkaev's people, and the man sees me as one of his projects, so I believe this will be enough for now. It's certainly more protection than I had while sparring with you, Raay'Xel," Gabriel grinned at her. At this point, he had a healthier fear of a Sacarian roundhouse to the ribs than small arms fire. The former didn't miss often.

"If you say so, Gabriel... Do you know if any of the people working for Dima at this facility are Telekinetics or not?" This was Haal'Sen's last worry before they departed. "I ask simply because we will disturb them greatly if there are. Such a presence appearing before them... It would draw a lot of suspicion. This level of power is not standard in your race."

Gabriel knew that telekinetics could pick up on each other, though none of the details. It came as no surprise that this more powerful variation on the TK phenomenon might have an even greater effect. Fortunately for them, even if Dima had a few TKs hidden away at the Statlas Facility, there was a way to deal with them early if they got some intel first.

"I don't know for certain, however, I do know a way to question them without tipping our hand," Gabriel replied, approaching the intercom on the wall. He set it for the cockpit. "Jack, contact Statlas and tell them that we'd like to run some tests on an experimental T-Link acquired from the EU as soon as we're unloaded. We'll need one of the hangars set aside and prepared for that. They should send any TKs on hand to the designated building and have them wait there."

"... are you going to 'cull' the TKs, Captain?"

Gabriel smirked. "I suspect there are none, but let's confirm it. Tell them before we land, but keep in mind, we're not 'in a hurry,' however, we are on a schedule. Dima already handed me the reins. I'm simply exercising my right to inquire and instruct."

"Gotcha. Inquiring ..."

Haal'Sen smiled. "Thank you, Gabriel. We should have no issues going forward, now. We are ready to accompany you at any point, whenever you wish to proceed." They were practically there already, so it was just following Gabriel's lead, now. If anyone attempted to bring him harm, they would immediately regret it, and wish they hadn't for the rest of their lives.

"If less armour will better allow you to undergo the operation, then we will simply need make up the difference in protection, My Liege." Raay'Xel chimed in, stopping as Haal'Sen brought up her worry. Telekinetics loyal to Dima certainly could blow their cover, but it seemed that Gabriel already had a plan in mind for them. How Gabriel of him.

"Excellently done, My Liege. Nothing shall stand in our path to bringing you even greater strength."

Gabriel's 'TK check' seemed satisfactory enough, and the disguised Sacarians were ready to get the show on the road. "We should head down to the cargo bay. We'll be disembarking from there-"

"Their reply," Jack came in over the intercom, "... 'Regrettably, we have no TKs at our disposal. You may wish to contact the Kaltan Facility and see if they have any available to transfer here.'"

"Tell them we'll look into that, and to prepare the hangar anyway. And thank you."

"Gotcha."

"Alright, let's head down and wait," Gabriel addressed his guards as he adjusted his gloves and made ready to leave the room.

Edited by Phoenix

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(Potential flavor later, depending on the outcome)

 

Tycho casts Focus, moves to 13,16 and takes a swing at Cressida 3 with the Xiphos.

Edited by Silver Gallade

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"Hell yeah I do, Brant!" The missiles were already flying around the Regalia, Chris pointing her anger right where they had to go! "Fuck off and DIE!"

Missiles away!
Final Stats: 100!,23
Roll: 46,2
Hit
Crit!
Final Damage: 151!

The Cressida fires back!
Final Stats: 15,2
Roll: 99,15
Miss!
Brant gains +10 EXP, +3 will!


"... You're right. You're just... Right. You are better... I never wanted this... I never wanted to fight in a war. I'm not good enough to be a captain, but here I am anyway!" Firmia's ploy ended up making Jess cry more, but things were getting... Dark... "You're, right... I wanna run away with Abby, and... Be, nor...mal... F... Firmia? I'm... I can't, see... I guess my lights, turned off. And... I'm gett, ing... Ti...re..."

"[This is an automated message. Power reserves are too low to maintain personality. Ship will assume automatic commands. Please charge unit at earliest convenience.]"


Tycho charges forward, water no hindrance!
Final Stats: 93,19
Roll: 47,8
Hit
Crit!
Final Damage: 77
The Cressida EXPLODES!
Tycho gains +100 EXP, +8 PP, +5 Will!


There was a lot of communications going on between the Avalon and Jess... Hannah was getting worried. Too worried. "Firmia, what's Jessica's status?" She could fight and ask at the same time. Hopefully she got a good answer...

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Through some process of elimination and a tiny bit of common sense, he could tell that the Artemis was being approached by one of the main units. At that point, he quietly spoke to himself, "I'd probably just get in the way at this point," And he started pulling back and rejoining the main unit protecting the Riese. 

Approaching the units attacking, he took notice of the the Regalia's attack on the enemy Cressida. Once the missile barrage ended, he took advantage before the Cress could recover.

Using the water to his advantage, he decided not to just charge ahead. Instead, he pulled out one of his xiphos, adjusting his grip of the weapon, and throwing it like a spear toward the machine. Following up with rushing in, he gave a smirk as he watched the blade lodge itself within the Cressida's cockpit. Getting in up close, he grabbed the hilt of the xiphos, and ripped it out of the machines armor, just barely making it away before getting caught in the Cress' explosion. He retreated back into the water, giving a sigh.

"Phew... That could've been pretty bad," Tycho pat the cockpit, "Good job."

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Was that a saber throw just now? Brant was glad for the help, the impromptu coordination, as it were, but now wasn't the time to be showing off, especially not with the Riese in its sorry state. "Glad the missiles work. Feels like we're falling behind, though. We've got to clear out more enemies before they close the net on us ..." Not quite in the back of his mind, the Jessica question was still eating away at him. Firmia said she was still alive, but that wasn't saying much--the Riese was still flying, so he could have figured that out on his own. It wasn't like the last time, when she'd been attacked and he was on the radio with her, talking her through it. Firmia had all of the Regalia's communications routed to the Avalon, so now he couldn't pull something like that even if he tried. Even without the legion in front of them, and the reinforcements behind them, Brant felt powerless ...

...

Firmia shot up out of her seat, eyes fixed on the Riese, her sudden gasp filling the relative silence of the Avalon's bridge.

Tonya cringed in her seat, only glancing back for a well timed split second. "Captain ...?" The Riese was still in the air, but ...

"Auto- ... -matic ... c-commands ..." The Alkaev's breathing grew sporadic as she slowly collapsed back into her seat. It was just like before. That intense hatred she felt was left without a foundation. Rather than simply disappearing as it had with Louise, the sheer weight of it all came crashing down on her. She almost didn't care that the Riese hadn't simply crashed, realizing she might never get another chance to talk to Jessica. Watching the ship drift along from her own radar display, Firmia could only fight back her tears. "Why do you always have to run away ...? ... you can't just bleed to death. I said I was going to save you, remember?"

Firmia could feel the mood on the bridge change as she alluded to what had just happened on the Riese, but she almost didn't care about that, either. That was when Hannah called her for a status update. Such good and ... such terrible timing. Firmia couldn't even respond at first, her eyes fixed on the digital representation of the Heion Riese, and its mangled bridge. Despite how awful she felt, her mind seemed intent on pointing even more flaws with the situation, things she might have done to save Jessica. The moment Hannah called, a very good idea occurred to the weary captain, though it was too late to implement it now, of course.

... and if Jessica--the 'personality'--was truly gone, then did it really matter what method they used? She could care less about Abigail, but didn't Hannah at the very least deserve to know what had just happened? And shouldn't she use this opportunity to do something? Anything?

"That feeling ..." Firmia winced, speaking to what she assumed, but hoped against hope wasn't a corpse, all the while preparing a message on her tablet for the Reign Team, "It's got nowhere to go, now ..."

Firmia let her tears fall. It didn't matter whether or not she did, as her fellow TKs would pick up on things easily enough if they were close by. She was damned if she did and damned if she didn't, and too miserable to fight it anymore. "I didn't want to fight in this war either, Jessica ... I didn't want any part of this. I'm a captain now because I couldn't rely on you, not during this war, and certainly not after. All I wanted to do was make sure Brant was okay, that he could protect himself. Then I met you, the so-called 'captain' of the Riese. Imagine my disappointment," Firmia laughed, a tearfully bitter laugh, "We were screwed, completely 100% screwed with an academy pretender like you in the captain's chair. That's why I spoke out so much ... Brant's survival, and my survival, and everyone's survival depended on you straightening up. No one else was willing to put that much pressure on you."

Firmia sent her message once it was finished. The message the Reign received was more of a package than anything, with not only a text message saying, [We're out of time. Save Jessica. A1 and A2 will help you.], but also the estimated position within the wreckage of the Riese's bridge marked for the search, and a small program interface either of the androids could use to directly control A1 and A2. One of the drones, A1, was already moving to meet the Reign half way and give Hannah a ride over to the bridge. A2 was fiddling with its tools, looking for ways to slice through the debris without causing a collapse or harming anyone still alive inside. The twelve remaining drones formed a defensive ring around the command tower.

"But more than that, you two were ... well not really ... obviously. Still, as much as the idea of you and Brant being together bothered me, I wanted to at least give you a chance. Brant put up with my worst for months, and I made it clear--without him even having to ask--that I wasn't getting involved with anyone as a minor. And yet he still nearly killed himself helping me through training. Through all the screaming and insults and mistakes. You needed that kind of stubborn devotion from your crew to win, just like I needed it to survive my grandfather's training. If we all survived, then it was worth it ... seeing you two idiots together ... but as soon as I got settled in there, you abandoned him ... without a word."

Firmia hated going back there, but it was the source of her grief, a mystery she couldn't piece together, not because she was lacking information, but simply because she couldn't fathom what would cause someone like Jessica to do something like that, and embrace it to her dying moments. "He would have died for you, but all you could do was yell at him for caring and run away. All I could do was watch. I couldn't change what I believed in just because we're in a war. I couldn't throw myself on Brant to help him get over you. Even Tonya couldn't do it. Hannah tried to help him ... and look how that turned out ...

"And despite what I believed, what I was determined not to do until I was older, I was the one that had to save her ... before she destroyed her memories. Somehow, I doubt you knew about that ... how could you when you're busy screwing around with Abigail in your free time? That's why I hate you both. You're a coward and she's a moron. You both ruined everything just so you could have more time together. You couldn't even take five minutes out of your busy day to try and help him. Brant was trying to be strong for you, so things would be better on the other side of this, but Alkaev pilots aren't cut out for romantic relationships to begin with ... so he couldn't take it. How would you feel knowing your own rapist has stronger, more genuine feelings for you, and is even more patient with you than the person you're fighting for? That ... is why ... I hate you both. Chris, the dark horse in all of this, had to save him ... and I'm not happy about that pairing, either."

Firmia wiped her eyes and then her cheeks on the sleeve of her SKIN suit as she thought back to her siblings' arrival, and the way Chris reacted to them. "I don't understand her at all, but I guess I don't have to, anymore. She saved him. If I never have to feel that despair from Brant again ... then it's worth it. If I never have to hear Hannah talking about erasing her memories to escape the pain ... then it's worth it. But still ... all of this just to fix what you destroyed. I don't understand you, either. Abigail would have killed you the way Soor'Kan did if she had the chance back on Colony One. She would have slept with anyone on the Riese to cope. Now that she has her crew back and you're gone, she'll just go back to how she was before. How could you choose someone like her over Brant? Why couldn't you choose him, instead? Why not us? Hannah, and me ..." Firmia tried to catch more of her tears, but now she just couldn't keep up. Before long, she was curled up in the captain's chair, head tucked beneath her arms. "Why couldn't you choose us as your family ... instead of some random rebel and her band of fools? Where the hell are they, Jessica?! Even at the end, you wouldn't shut up about your precious Abigail ... but she couldn't have saved you, or made you normal ... only we could do that ... so why ...? Please ... tell me why, Jessica ...."

What's Mine is Mine (Chapter II)

...

The massive transport plane touched down on an equally massive airstrip at the edge of the Statlas Testing Facility. It was no red carpet welcome, but armed choppers and two pairs of AMS units were overseeing the landing. One of the latter broke off once the lone flier began buzzing buildings and generally making a lot of noise overhead.

As much as Eva enjoyed flying around, free as a bird, the flier cockpit was extremely bare bones, lacking even an ejection system, so being shot down would be exceedingly painful, and probably lethal. Fortunately for her, the Statlas security teams seemed quite 'friendly' for people meant to guard a remote facility. A Throne pulled up alongside Eva and she was surprised to find that the machine could free one of its arms in its plane configuration and point a thumb down for her, insisting she land.

Reluctantly, Eva nodded and began banking back toward the airstrip. The Throne matched her move for move right up until her final approach. Then, without warning, the flying mobile suit broke off and rejoined his squadmate, leaving Eva to land by herself. Given she'd never done this before, she had a feeling this was going to be really bumpy. The mechanics were definitely going to be sore about this ...

While Eva struggled to bring the flier down in one piece, Gabriel's crew began to disembark, vehicles and the like pulling out first and making room for the mobile suits. Gabriel and company also made their way outside at about this time riding inside the hovertruck. The driver brought them right up to the Statlas reception waiting for them near a row of large hangars. Several cars and a small gathering of facility personnel were waiting to greet them. At the head of the pack was a fairly tall man, about 6'4" by Gabriel's estimate. He had the man pegged as Statlas' former head honcho, coming to meet the new leadership in person. Gabriel could only hope the man wasn't too disappointed with the situation.

After the hovertruck settled down onto the pavement and everyone but the driver got out, Gabriel led the group over to the tall man, who'd opted to meet them about halfway, though a little closer to the hovertruck. "Добро пожаловать! You must be Gabriel Katz," the man smiled and dabbed at him with his finger a couple of times. He didn't seem disappointed, that was for certain. Perhaps he didn't enjoy his work here? Or perhaps he was simply a good actor.

"I am," Gabriel nodded, and closed the rest of the distance for a handshake, fully aware of the potential unease the Sacarians might be feeling at that moment. He tried to give off an exaggerated sense of confidence to help ease any tension they might be feeling, all while hoping it didn't have the opposite effect. "And you are?"

"Vladimir Shvets," the man's smile widened as he took Gabriel's offered hand. He was one of those firm shakers that liked to use both arms, one for the shake, and the other to hold the other party's arm in place. Gabriel had to mirror the gesture to not be thrown off balance. "I'm the Director of Operations here at Statlas. I was surprised to learn Mr. Alkaev was placing us in your care, but we're ready and willing to serve. Just tell us what you need."

"At your command, my Liege." Haal'Sen waited for Gabriel to get up, slipping the helmet over her head, hair and ears, bristling only a moment at the discomfort. Hopefully this would not be a long trip...

It wasn't long before they were ushered out of the plane and towards the facility. It was certainly a welcome party, Haal'Sen gripping her provided weapon tightly. A small arms automatic rifle, perhaps a sub machine gun? 'Ballistics are rather outdated, but I suppose they are effective against humans.' Keeping that thought to herself, she eyed Eva coming in for a landing, following alongside Gabriel. "What a fool," she mumbled, shaking her head just a moment.

Now was the time to pay attention. Gabriel had been approached by someone... The previous head of this facility, if his mind was any indication. He seemed excited on the outside, his feelings mirroring things. Still... Getting so close to Gabriel... Haal'Sen didn't say anything, or message her Liege, but she did walk up next to the exchange, staring at this man. He wasn't exactly much, but most humans weren't. If it came down to it, she could take him, let alone Raay'Xel.

'Gabriel, this man appears to be trustworthy, for now. Please proceed without worry. I will alert you if anyone approaches and seems to be planning something.'

It was time for the operation to begin proper. The combar armour had been a bit tight on Raay'Xel's ears, but that mild discomfort aside, she did feel more at home in combat gear. As a warrior, it just felt right, proper. They had been instructed by Gabriel not to speak, as a measure to reduce the chance of their cover being blown, so all that left was to stand as a menacing bodyguard. A job that Raay'Xel was all too capable of performing with her immense stature, complimented by heavier armaments than Haal'Sen had chosen. 

Standing slightly to Gabriel's opposite side from Haal'Sen, Raay'Xel held a heavy assault rifle in both hands, with a combat-designated shotgun holstered for easy access. They were old-fashioned weapons to be certain, but they didn't lack of effectiveness against targets on foot, and she had specifically requested an intimidating loadout to dissuade any would-be troublemakers. The man who approached them first, the facility's director, didn't seem intent to cause problems, so Raay'Xel simply stood at attention, watching anyone else in the area.

'It's a shame really,' Gabriel mused, 'I almost hate to ruin his good mood, however, by this time tomorrow he and everyone else here will know that Dima and I have very different objectives here ...'

"Speaking of ..." Vladimir pointed over Gabriel's shoulder at the unfamiliar wrecks being carefully brought out, "What would you like us to do with those?"

Gabriel glanced over at them briefly, trying to figure out just how unfamiliar the machines would be to this group. Then he turned to face Vladimir again and beamed up at the taller man. "I'd be happy to share the details with you, but the first order of business is a full communications blackout."

"Oh?" Vladimir looked surprised. He seemed neutral about it, not leaning toward enthusiasm or concern just yet. He just seemed curious about the enhanced security.

"Those machines are part of a major project of mine," Gabriel pointed his thumb over his shoulder toward the four damaged subjects, "They're one of the mains reasons we're here, Vladimir. Secrecy is of the utmost importance going forward. Do you understand?"

Vladimir nodded, his face growing firm. He was onboard with the decision, perhaps even more so than many in Gabriel's own crew. "Right." Vladimir turned to the suits behind him and raised his arm, again. "Закройте все это. Нет связи внутри или снаружи." As most of them whipped out their personal comms and started sending out orders, Vladimir turned to face Gabriel and the disguised Sacarians. "We should be off the map in five minutes. No later than that. They can handle the rest."

It was difficult to tell if Vladimir's order was related, but the Thrones broke away from the airstrip and began a much wider patrol pattern. At the same time, the choppers began circling back to their helipads. Gabriel's guess was that the Thrones were making their final rounds and confirming the lockdown from the air before returning to land. There wasn't going to be any more air traffic, soon ...

"My thanks, Vladimir," Gabriel grinned, genuinely glad that, if nothing else, Dima's people didn't mess around or ask questions prematurely. "We'll discuss the situation as well as my plans inside."

"I'm looking forward to it," Vladimir said, sparing both bodyguards a brief glance. Gabriel wondered if it was the gear or their mere presence that finally garnered his attention.

Haal'Sen turned her head to face this man fully as he glanced her way, making sure he knew she was staring him down. This whole situation was working out rather smoothly, but still no nefarious intent from the man. Anyone else was a bit too jumbled up in all of the action of things moving about, she'd have to concentrate to get a more clear picture.

'Russian is always hard to understand... Things are going to be shut down for communications, yes, Gabriel?' That was her understanding, at least. If the destroyed Praxis models could be ferried into the facility without a second glance or a pause of confusion, then all the better. If she had to turn this weapon onto the members of the facility... She would just have to be precise.

So far so good. The director seemed to be on board with Gabriel so far, not offering any resistance nor having any thoughts of disobedience come to light, at least not yet. He spared both Raay'Xel and Haal'Sen a glance that was promptly returned, but hadn't made much more of a fuss beyond that. 

Granted, Raay'Xel couldn't directly understand the man's Russian, but Haal'Sen had already inquired towards that, and none of the men nearby were doing anything contradictory to Gabriel's orders.

'Likewise, Russian is not my forte. If anything feels amiss my Liege, please inform us.'

'So far so good,' Gabriel secretly replied, 'You can probably cover more minds by coordinating, am I right? I recommend keeping a close eye on anyone near us. Make certain no one is doing anything they shouldn't be. You're free to use your abilities to keep them in line, but be subtle, and leave Vladimir to me. I want to learn as much as I can about him before the curtain falls.'

"Leaving private matters for private settings," Vladimir began, leading them toward a waiting limousine, "Despite the recent influx we have plenty of spare rooms in the residential block. You'll have a VIP suite, of course."

"Of course," Gabriel chuckled. Having slept on the ground with the critters and his own spent cartridges a fair number of times, this was all rather quaint to him.

"Your escorts will have their pick of the suites as well," Vladimir continued, "I recommend your regular staff stay in the garrison, but I leave that at your discretion. May I ask how long this project of yours could take? We'll have to make arrangements for bringing in fresh supplies if the lockdown is going to be in effect long term."

Gabriel actually had to think about the question for a moment. Without a firm grasp of Statlas' capabilities, it was almost impossible to make an estimate that was worth mentioning. "I'll get back to you on that once we've toured the facility. Our timetable depends quite heavily on production capability and capacity."

"I understand." Having arrived at the limo, Vladimir politely ushered everyone inside and was the last to get in.

The driver looked over his passengers through the rearview mirror, which was when Vladimir made a gesture for him to get the vehicle moving. He did so promptly, and with the other suits funneling into their vehicles, the convoy was off. The hovertruck started back up again and followed after the group, tailing them from a comfortable distance.

"I must say, Gabriel, I'm quite looking forward to learning more about this project of yours. This level of secrecy is extremely rare ... and your security detail is ... quite prepared. It looks like you were expecting us to put up a fight here," Vladimir laughed.

Gabriel laughed with him. "Only work with the best. Admittedly, this project is too important to take any chances. What comes after it's complete ... doubly so ... but more on that once the lockdown is completed. For now, think of it more as a safety measure than anything. I wouldn't want undesirables doing to this place what they did to the primary facility; your people deserve more consideration than that."

"True," Vladimir nodded gravely, "Some of the pilots have been taking bets on which of our facilities will get hit next, Kalten, or Statlas. I'm hoping the war will be over by then, or at the very least we can finish preparations here." Vladimir's expression changed as he seemed to recall something. "That said, Gabriel, we've been working on some underground renovations I think you'll be very interested in."

A man up front, in the limousine's passenger side, appeared to have been listening in, since he reached back and handed off a large tablet to Vladimir, who promptly offered it to Gabriel. "We're not finished yet, but here are the base schematics."

Gabriel studied the image, inviting Haal'Sen and Raay'Xel to look as well. It was an expansion to the underground hangars. Rather than adding more hangars, they had all been merged together and the whole area broadened by a couple of orders of magnitude. This was an ambitious expansion to the underground areas, requiring some serious engineering knowhow to have a functioning underground cavity of this scale. Gabriel's mind tried to piece together its purpose on reflex, but he quickly found that there was no need for that. The text marking areas all over the image revealed that this was, in fact, a warship drydock hidden beneath the earth.

It couldn't be helped. It just damn well couldn't be helped. Gabriel's thoughts raced ahead to the future, to a complicated and dangerous mission he and Ziva had been planning for quite some time now. With the addition of the Sacarians, and now the expanding Statlas facilities, it seemed as though all the necessary pieces were swiftly falling into place. Gabriel slowly broke into a long chuckle as he handed the tablet back to Vladimir.

"Amazing, truly ..." 'A space large enough to hide the prize I'm after. I can't wait to learn what it's original purpose was ...'

Leading him into such a tight space... This car seemed nothing other than made for show, it would be difficult to keep him safe were it attacked. Still nothing came to mind yet, partly worrying her, was she just not picking it up or were they legitimately here to assist Gabriel to the nth degree?

Whatever the case, things continued to proceed smoothly, further adding to Haal'Sen's mild anxiety, and when they were addressed as expecting a fight, she couldn't help herself. 'My apologies Gabriel, but,' "We are here to make sure he is safe. Nothing else." Hopefully he would forgive her stepping out of line, but their place had to be made clear to this Vladimir. They were his safety net, nothing more or less, anything that endangered that would be dealt with.

Gabriel was then handed a tablet, from another man that lacked any intent beyond curiosity... 'Things are going too smoothly.' What it detailed seemed to please Gabriel, Haal'Sen taking a moment to try and understand what was going on in his mind... It was a good thing her face was covered, the surprise overtook her face in a moment. That was his plan? No, there was no way he would... He had fought against Sacarians single handedly, of course he would. To prepare for such a thing... Even she would have to steel herself.

'Please go into detail about this plan of yours once we are done here. I took a peek, but... I do not quite know what to say about it.' That ship... Gabriel was certainly... Optimistic.

It was... oddly curious, just how well this was all going. None of the Statlas agents had any signs of causing a problem, and everything was being handled swiftly and efficiently. The first cracks began to show as Haal'Sen answered one of Vladimir's concerns verbally... it was unlikely to be a problem, but Raay'Xel made sure to only give an affirmative nod so as to remain compliant to Gabriel's intentions. The man up front seemed to be here to observe, much like them, but things got truly interesting when Gabriel was handed a tablet.

What that tablet contained seemed to play directly into Gabriel's hand, but... what a bold hand he was playing. So that was his endgame... how absolutely wonderful.

'Yes, I too wish to hear thew details of this, My Liege. How wondrously bold! I love it, haha!'

Vladimir seemed momentarily distracted by Haal'Sen's voice. He'd clearly taken both of Gabriel's bodyguards for men. That had been Gabriel's hope, really. Haal'Sen's cover wasn't completely blown yet, so he didn't mind her clearing things up for the man. They were doing well so far.

As curious as Gabriel was about the intended use of the underground complex, the Sacarians were even more curious about its new purpose, or more precisely, the prize he was planning to put on display in there. Very well, I'll explain once we have a moment to ourselves. There wasn't much time on the plane and we had more urgent matters in front of us.

"I'm happy you're pleased with it, Gabriel," Vladimir smiled, though the curiosity was clearly becoming too much for him. Who laughs after looking over an unfinished project like that?

"What is this drydock intended for?"

"Ah," Vladimir raised his hand up, index finger loosely jutting upward as he continued, "As you probably know already, the Kremlin's gone, and the provisional government is doing everything it can to maintain order and a functioning military. All of the defense contractors in Russia and their assets are being brought into the military infrastructure to bolster their forces. Mr. Alkaev was already being considered for a position, though I'm not sure which."

Gabriel nodded along, all the while figuring out a few things on just with the primer he was being given. 'Dima's involvement in the provisional government, coupled with all of the Alkaev company's assets being turned over to them ... makes Statlas a government-owned facility. That might explain the hidden drydock. This place may be a potential base for the Vaska that's undergoing preparations. Best to focus, otherwise the convenience might have me laughing, again~'

"He sent instructions to make this expansion as quickly and as quietly as possible and to await further instructions. Since it doesn't sound like you were briefed, can I assume your stay here is completely unrelated?"

Gabriel chuckled briefly. The question was too amusing. "We're working toward the same end, Vladimir, I assure you. The drydock appears to be large enough to house Russia's pride and joy, the Vaska ... and she will be arriving here in due time. For now, know that my project is closely related to that ship."

"I see ..." Vladimir nodded, trying his best to figure out the big secret from Gabriel's small hints.

All Haal'Sen could think during this exchange was, 'I respect you, Gabriel, but you are a madman for considering such a ship as a target.'

'It seems they are playing directly into your hands, My Liege. You are blessed not only with skill, but also great fortune.' Raay'Xel noted... there was nothing else to say, really. The coincidences at play were far too much for anything else at this point.

'Fortune, of course, favours the bold. So it makes perfect sense that you are rewarded for your ambition.'

'You may be right, Haal'Sen,' Gabriel grinned faintly, 'Apotheosis hasn't assaulted the Vaska directly, yet. Perhaps it's simply too well guarded for us at the moment. Just the same, I have a plan ... and you'll be happy to know that it's a bold one, Raay'Xel.'

Gabriel suspected Vladimir of coming to a reasonable conclusion, but still missing the mark entirely. The crucial details just hadn't been revealed yet. "It seems we've arrived ..." Gabriel squinted at the view outside, looking far more engaged than he actually was, "Show us to the VIP suites. I'd like to relax a bit before we get into the details. That should also give your people time to finish up with the lockdown."

"Of course," Vladimir said as the limo came to a stop just outside the residential building. The building had the structural features of a hotel, but the bland aesthetics of an inner-city hospital. There was no telling how the inside might look, but Gabriel was only concerned with two things, the exact rooms his people would be using, and any potential monitoring devices hidden there ...

The driver and the front side passenger got out and came back to let everyone else out. "The VIP suites are on the upper floors. Will that be alright?" Vladimir asked. He was the last one out of the limo this time.

Gabriel shrugged. "I suppose. I'm less concerned with heights and more concerned with any possible monitoring devices." Gabriel had been swaying back and forth on whether or not to try and covertly hunt down any of Dima's pesky bugs, or just smash the problem with his new authority."

Vladimir burst into laughter. "This project of yours ... it's the real deal, isn't it?"

Gabriel sighed casually. "The situation is that serious. I can't have any recordings around that I don't know about, nor can any information leave this facility without my permission. It's a life or death situation with the sorts of things we're working on. That's the way things work when you're involved with the military, Vladimir."

"Very true," he nodded, "Let's head inside so you and your guards can unwind."

'Mrrr... Whatever the plan, I shall do my utmost to keep you safe.' Taking down the Vaska... No, taking it over. How terribly bold. Dangerously, one might add, but she had not heard his plan yet, so it was merely horrifying hypotheticals at the moment.

Speaking of horrifying, this building looked quite unappealing. Was this their new base of operations? Rather boring, even to human standards. If it served their purposes, then it did, but even so, it could do with some prettying up. Gabriel was King, he needed a palace to reflect that.

Haal'Sen spoke nothing this time, but did go out of her way to give Vladimir a long glance as they left the limo, placing herself at Gabriel's side once again with haste. If things went to plan and the facility could be captured without issue, then he would learn of their true nature soon enough. If he reacted poorly, he would be removed.

'Excellent. We shall prove your magnificence to all by carving a swath of bold, glorious conquest my Liege!' Raay'Xel noted as they arrived at the facility proper. A bit plain, but then the humans had so far been great proponents of form over function... to see the opposite ring true at least in some regards helped to balance them in Raay'Xel's mind.

And even more bold moves from Gabriel! Throwing his weight around held merit, as it would establish that he would take no nonsense, nor a looser interpretation of his commands. Establish dominance from the outset by going straight for the throat... marvelous.

Haal'Sen had her concerns, but Gabriel was positive he could address them, despite the very serious dangers the mission posed. Raay'Xel, on the other hand, was excited by the prospect. Revealing the details of the plan to her could only enhance that. Of course, as long as they were ready and willing to act, things should be fine. After all, Gabriel had come up with this plan before meeting them, and before securing the cooperation of the Statlas Testing Facility. His position would have been much worse, and that sorry state was the crucible his entire plan had been forged in. Confidence was on the rise.

...

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One of the drones was headed over... Probably to pick her up. "Galatea, Firmia sent me the data, take over controlling the Reign for a bit. You have my piloting data, you should be able to manage." Popping open the hatch, Hannah braced herself against the edge, vaulting herself over to the drone, as the AI behind her sighed and nodded on the Reign's main screen.

"Be careful, Hannah! Even you can't take a beam rifle!"


The line apparently had been left open, as Firmia received a response... "[Message recorded. Please charge unit at earliest convenience.]"

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"... recorded, huh?" For what purpose, Firmia wondered bitterly. If Jessica was gone, only a confused ANF technician would ever be able to play it back. The intended recipient though ...?

"Hey, Firmia?" It was Brant calling, again. He could obviously sense ... just how much of a mess she was, right now. She'd seen that coming ... "... is she ...?"

There wasn't anything Firmia could tell him that wouldn't make the situation worse for them both. She couldn't ignore him, either. "Just focus, Brant ..." she choked up again, "on the enemies in front of us." It was too late to say goodbye. All they could do now was fight. If not for these warmongering animals ... she and her people wouldn't even be in this situation. "Like this ..." Firmia straightened herself up and tried to track one of the enemy units with her eyes. The Avalon's funnels quickly took off and began to chase down the target.

Firmia casts Dreams->Focus (Edson version), moves to 7,6 and attacks Phobos #7 with the Avalon's funnels!

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Firmia casts Focus![-20SP]

Firmia moves in to help!

Firmia attacks!
Target: Phobos #7
Weapon: Avalon Funnels
Final Hit: 95
Final Crit: 22
Roll: 55, 82
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 93

Phobos counters!
Weapon: Laser Sniper Rifle
Final Hit: 61
Final Crit: 28
Roll: 51, 1
Hit!
Crit!
Beam coating and minor E-field activate.
Damage: 53!

Firmia gains +20 EXP, -1 Will!

Oh, well, lucky shot...


Eidolon's Guard

"Careful, Firmia. I'll provide support fire." Carlos mentioned in passing, one eye on the battle. Duane already came and went... what a sad end for him, fighting his own girlfriend. Exactly like a situation Carlos hoped to avoid...

Carlos moves to 8,6, fires at Phobos 7 with the dual arm cannons.

Carlos attacks!
Target: Phobos #7
Weapon: Dual Arm Cannons
Final Hit: 90
Final Crit: 23
Roll: 69, 87
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 64

Phobos #7 counters!
Weapon: Plasma Cannon
Final Hit: 56
Final Crit: 7
Roll: 32, 31
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 121

"Hm. Not my best showing..."

Carlos gains +10 EXP, +3 Will!

What an enemy mook!

Edited by Xinnidy

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Tarquin had expected a large battle, Apotheosis and the Sacarians were not going to let up at any point. Soor'Kan's defeat would have been an accomplishment, perhaps even satisfying under any other circumstances but the incoming waves of enemies had a decided hold on his concentration. There was little time to even acknowledge Kim, the kamikaze attack on the Heion Riese quickly moved into the spotlight. Their ship was most definitely a threat to their foes, a symbol that their defeat was possible, taking it down would provide both a tactical and symbolic victory for them.

"Jess, we will have to provide covering fire when required. There are too many enemies, if we get surrounded we will become detrimental to our team. Have primary thrusters ready to move." Tarquin commented, his eyes scanning his monitor as he searched for a suitable position to relocate to. "We shall have to rely on the support crew to maintain the Riese. I have faith in our captain to overcome the attack, we must focus on facilitating it."

There were a variety of new units deployed by Apotheosis, but there was one ally that the ANF had that Tarquin wasn't too pleased with. The Captain had definitely employed her recruitment tactic well when filling the crew with their former enemies, but it left a bitter taste in Tarquin's mouth when he held a personal vendetta against said former enemy.

"Santana, I cannot say I am remotely pleased to be working alongside you, but I shall consider you an ally for the duration of this mission." Tarquin transmitted, his eyes still fixed on his screen. "If you were to require assistance I would comply, but I would consider you the lowest priority if multiple objectives arose."

Tarquin moves to 13,14!

Edited by Shin

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"Sorry," Tonya winced, "He's too close for any real evasive maneuvers ..."

"It's fine," Firmia muttered. That was when Carlos weighed in over the comms. He was laying into the target, too, and getting even more of a rebuttal from them. "Just refuses to go down," she groaned.

To the Alkaev's surprise, Carlos also had someone from outside the Avalon's crew contacting him directly. She was monitoring and managing all communications to and from her mobile suits simultaneously, so she expected to hear plenty of chatter, especially with Jessica's current situation ... but this time it was Tarquin. It took Firmia a second to recall that Carlos was the one that crippled Nikolai, but it made sense that he was 'a low priority' due to that. Fair enough, the Avalon's captain mused, Carlos was her responsibility anyhow. Tarquin should only be sticking his neck out for the Riese's pilots as a whole.

"If you need repairs," Firmia contacted the Eidolon, "call Sasha and get back inside."

What's Mine is Mine (Chapter III)

...

The inside of the building was about as uninteresting as the outside, with pale walls and utterly forgettable ceramic floors in the lobby. Vladimir had one of the men stay behind to make sure any luggage was brought up to the right rooms, and then led Gabriel, Haal'Sen, and Raay'Xel into one of the nearby elevators. It took them up to the very top floor of the twelve-story building.

It was oddly refreshing to see some actual thought put into the look and feel of the VIP suites. The group was greeted by golden ambient lighting, dark walls lined with beautifully carved white sconces, a rug that ran the length of the corridor, and a sweet, though not overpowering fragrance. The pleasant scent might have soothed Gabriel if he weren't so close to being able to speak with the Sacarians in private. They weren't the only ones he needed to speak to.

Vladimir led them nearly the length of the corridor, checking to see if any of the rooms would work for him. They only peaked inside every other room and then moved on. Most of them were identical with a few minor tweaks between them. Some setups were actually inversions of the standard. Gabriel wanted a room that took extra time to get to and from, and so the interior design didn't matter much. Once his own security measures were in place, the out of the way location would work to his advantage.

Vladimir figured out that Gabriel wanted the furthest room by the time they reached it and opened the door to him and his escorts inside. What caught Gabriel's eye first was the living room, which had a massive mirror on the ceiling, situated directly above the white and beige chairs and sofas. A television monitor was built into the wall and there was a decorative table set up just beneath it. The chairs and sofas orbited an oval glass table with a floral arrangement at the center. A nice, more straight forward design, even if it wasn't to Gabriel's tastes.

The look and feel of the carpet were simple but the overall shape of the patterns seemed to warp as the tilt of the viewer's head or their orientation changed. Thankfully the colors more or less matched the rest of the room and furniture. This place would do just nicely. Gabriel supposed he should check the bedroom and bathroom before giving the place his seal of approval ... doublecheck about those devices, as well.

"About those monitoring devices ..." Gabriel smiled, and somehow didn't undermine the seriousness of the issue in the process.

"There wouldn't be anything like that in the VIP suites," Vladimir assured him.

"Knowing Dima Alkaev, would you be willing to make a wager on that, Vladimir?" Gabriel's smile deepened, letting the taller man know that while he had to make bloody certain one way or the other, it wasn't a distrust of him in particular.

"Hmm, we'll check," Vladimir decided, crossing his arms. "How about this? Even if there are bugs, they can't transmit any data to the outside during a full lockdown. They could only transmit locally, which we can track. I understand a lot is at stake, so let me deal with any potential security leaks while you rest. We can talk later and I'll have more for you then."

"Very well," Gabriel conceded. He could have kept pressing, but he wanted to make a call himself, as well as explain the situation to Haal'Sen and Raay'Xel. He could do the latter in absolute secrecy regardless of whether or not the room was bugged, so there was no need to look paranoid. Vladimir understood full well how serious the situation was, and that nothing should be taken for granted ...

"Sorry for the inconvenience, Gabriel. We'll get this taken care of. You have my word." Vladimir had been about to see to just that when he recalled the two bodyguards. "Will you two ...?"

"They'll take the room next to this one," Gabriel interjected.

"Ah. Right. Very well. Just call if you need anything or you'd like to go over our schedule. You know what I'll be taking care of," Vladimir gave a polite grin and saw himself out.

As soon as the door had shut, Gabriel slipped out of his coat and sailed over to a chair. "I need to know if Dima was telling me the truth earlier," '... because if he was ... we could use that ...' He pulled out his comm and switched it to the frequency Ziva used. If Dima wasn't telling the truth, then the idea could backfire. Gabriel wanted to be certain the information was legitimate before he used it.

The inside of the building, also unimpressive. The rest, though? The VIP's level was more than enough for Gabriel, the inner decor having thought and presence put into it. Haal'Sen smiled and almost chuckled, this would definitely do. They could likely remodel the rest to match, this aesthetic was quite pleasing. So there are humans with taste after all.

With room inspection taking an extra moment, they finally settled on one at the end, a rather spacious room with all of the necessary fixings of a leader's relaxation area. The screen was confusing... Perhaps for video communication? It was rather large. That aside, Gabriel put in concerns over any tapping, making sure this Vladimir would look into things. That was good. If things could only transmit locally, she was fine to proceed with her plans. Once he had left, Haal'Sen waited a moment for his presence to disappear down the hall...

'Pardon me a moment, Gabriel. I am going to secure this room for us, so that you may speak without issue.' Heading towards one of the small panels on the wall, Haal'Sen retrieved a small device from one of the combat suit's pockets, opening things up and letting the stick conform to the shape of a standard USB. After inserting it into the wall and giving it a few seconds, she moved to remove her helmet, sighing and breathing a rather long awaited gasp of fresh air.

"My ears feel awful... Worry not, Gabriel, this room shall remain secure for as long as you would like. A concealment device from my machine, we use them to block signals within enemy structures as we invade them. I have set it to take up this space... Since things may only transmit locally out of this base, I felt it safe to use. If anything goes awry with it, we shall be notified immediately, but... Pardon my assumption, I do not think your Earth tech will detect it." An almost smug grin slid onto her face, rather satisfied with the difference in tech. "What are your plans, now? Things have been going almost too well..."

Quite a lavish suite, this VIP area. It made sense enough to have this sort of area tucked away for guests, and Gabriel quickly chose the suite at the far end of the hall. A good defensive position, no need to worry about their flank in the case they needed to hold out. As Vladimir left, Haal'Sen had already indicated she was about to secure the position and disable any taps or bugs that might have been in place, as was standard procedure. Finally, off came the helmet.

"Indeed, it would seem we have been quite fortuitous today, My Liege. Now that we have freedom to speak unimpeded, if you would tell us of your plans for this Vaska, as well as your current thoughts on how we should tackle this facility, that would be appreciated."

Gabriel paused when Haal'Sen informed him that she was about to 'secure' the room. Judging by her explanation of how the signal blocker worked, he might need to hold off on calling Ziva for a moment. All the same, creating a dead zone where nothing could possibly make it back to Dima was a massive boon, and that was on top of everything else they had going for them right now.

"If it's possible I'd like to contact Ziva while the device is still active. There's a matter I need her to look into for me. Can you exclude a specific frequency range?" While he asked, he took off his wrist-mounted comm and handed it to Haal'Sen. "As for the Vaska, I've been planning to acquire that ship for some time now. The overall plan evolves as our capabilities and resources grow ... incidentally, you'll have to forgive me for the later version of the plan. It's completely outdated. I'm still considering all options."

That little disclaimer out of the way, Gabriel invited the Sacarians to sit down. There was plenty of room with just the three of them there. "The Vaska is one of the largest warships in service anywhere today, capable of carrying up to 48 mobile suits from what I've been able to find out. Despite its focus on MS support, it's still very well armed. Being overhauled from a 'flying battery' certainly has its benefits. For gathering our strength, it's a perfect target.

"I have a younger cousin, Juliya. She's been representing the Alkaev company and helping the Vaska's crew integrate AMS units into their fighting force. The original plan involved convincing her and the Vaska's captain to let me aboard with my mobile suit. Whether for a friendly visit, or as part of a 'rescue,' would depend on the timing. Our exact strategy is determined by where the Vaska happens to be at the time. My strike team would be hidden with the Archangel and attack only once I was on the bridge. Securing the bridge would have been my role and mine alone, however ..." Gabriel smiled guiltily at Haal'Sen and Raay'Xel, "It's obvious that taking the bridge alone isn't necessary anymore."

"There was always the chance that subduing the senior staff wouldn't have enough of an impact to get the surrender I'm after. Russia has much riding on the Vaska's success in this war. Having it stolen, and by an enemy they weren't even aware of, would be ridiculous. Many of them would rather die, which is why I need to personally confront the captain and either convince him to give the order to stand down or force the issue. Meanwhile, on the outside, my people would be keeping the crew's attention divided using our mobile suits and the fliers to create the illusion of a sizable, yet believable opposing force. That should help encourage a surrender. Assuming the captain refuses to see things my way, or the crew ignores him, we fight until only those willing to serve are left, using the Vaska herself as a shield.

"That was the original version, but it doesn't account for the two of you or our new equipment. I also expected more resistance here at Statlas, which would slow down preparations. And so, here are our resources, at least what we can use for the mission: The Statlas Facility and its inventory, our transport plane, its remaining fliers, the Archangel, Jack and Jack II, the Volkov Werewolf, our two reserve units, between two and four Praxis units, an EU fighter, Juliya, and your esper abilities. I still need to take the bridge myself, so that means at least one of you will be accompanying me."

Given what he had to say next, Gabriel suspected Haal'Sen would be the one accompanying him. "... but we also need enough fighting strength outside to keep their pilots from overwhelming us. They've already phased out most of the Volkovs, and those remaining are probably equipped for point defense or long range bombardment. As long as we take the ship, moderate losses are acceptable. Unfortunately, we might not have the ship under our control before reinforcements or a third party interferes; it will be absolutely imperative that our forces can manage any group that shows up in addition to the Vaska's MS teams. Once we have the ship, we make our way back here to Statlas while flying below radar. We could still be picked up by satellites if the weather isn't on our side, but I'm content to fight if and when it's necessary."

"Yes, of course." It was a simple button press and synchronization of frequencies to allow Gabriel's communications device to pass through her firewall, whatever he needed to call about was surely important. With that setup and finished, Haal'Sen made sure to lock the door, and took Gabriel's invitation to sit down. Legs crossed, arms gently messing with and braiding her hair. She'd likely be putting that helmet back on, and things had definitely bunched up. Better to neatly get it out of the way.

Now, it was time for Gabriel's master plans... They were dangerous, to be sure, but less insane than Haal'Sen had originally pegged them for. It seemed... Possible. The bridge takeover, at least. The fight outside would definitely depend on Raay'Xel, so Haal'Sen would allow her to speak her mind on that. For someone to accompany Gabriel to the bridge, only she would qualify. None of the humans could subdue several people at once, and Raay'Xel's powers were weaker enough to make her better suited for the outside combat.

"Then, I have several questions. Please put up with them, I apologize for speaking out of turn." Clearing her throat just a moment, hands still messing with her white locks, she closed her eyes a moment to think, nodding gently. "Do you know the entire load out of the Vaska, in detail? Is this information you can acquire, if not? If they have phased out Volkovs, I can only assume they have moved onto AMS units. If they are anything like your own, while they will be easy to destroy, they could prove annoyingly maneuverable. We are aiming for a swift takeover, after all..."

"As well, how many people man the Vaska's bridge? If I have not made my capabilities entirely clear, I can effortlessly bring three to four people down by focusing on them. Were I to attempt more than that, it would likely be feasible, but not for very long... And if there are any Telekinetics among their bridge crew, that will make things all the more difficult. In a one on one contest, there would be no issue, but while dominating several minds, any with resistance could cause my hold to break." It was an embarrassing admittance, looking away from Gabriel as she did, almost grumbling. He still had to know, whether or not it hurt her pride.

"If you thought yourself capable of taking the bridge alone, then holding off an extra section of it should make things entirely possible for you, correct? And once it is out of the way, we can move on to other sections, or aid the outside situation. At least, that is how I see it. If you are alright with my assistance, then... I shall hold my concerns over this plan, and accompany you on your aspects of it." Haal'Sen nodded, smiling slightly.

"And you, Raay'Xel? What do you think of his plans? I have full faith you could handle the rank and file of Russia's ship, and that is before mechanical upgrades. I cannot imagine what terror you will become with this AMS technology integrated into our superior machines."

"Your plan is sound, My Liege. With Haal'Sen's assistance, I cannot imagine a mere bridge crew would have even the slightest chance of opposing you. It goes without saying that I shall put down any resistance on the outside." Raay'Xel replied, a confident nod. If he had been prepared to take the Vaska with what he had already, then it should be simple with the new additions to his force.

"I presume you already intend to produce additional suits on top of repairing and integrating our Gamma units? A lack of machinery has lead you to not deploy potential pilots like that Eva, or anyone else you might have in reserve. It would be prudent to correct this. Even if they deploy AMS units, so long as there are no pilots of your caliber to contend with, they should be a non-issue."

Question and answer time. Simple enough, and more than welcome if it would help Haal'Sen and Raay'Xel prepare for the mission. "I can't get exact numbers on anything without tipping our hand, I'm afraid," Gabriel began, though with a reassuring grin that promised a workaround of some kind, "That said, I had no idea the Statlas Facility was so closely tied to the Vaska. We could use Vladimir to nudge the Russians along and reveal a few key details for us.

"What I can say with certainty are the types of mobile suits we'll be facing. Several Volkov variants, including the defense and long range variants I mentioned, as well as the Volkov Sniper models. The ship also carries every mass production AMS unit to date; Thrones, Mantles, and Crowns. The latter will be our biggest concern. Even deep in Earth's atmosphere, the Crowns have absurd mobility, thanks to their large booster units. They have a short operational time, but working from eliminates their fuel consumption problem. If possible I'd like to force them to surrender, but we'll shoot them down if necessary." No point in overdoing things and getting someone on their side killed ...

The bridge was the truly interesting part of this. Gabriel chuckled briefly imagining Haal'Sen and himself systematically mopping up the bridge hands with subjugation-knockout combos. The number of people present did render Gabriel's musings far too unrealistic, though, as he planned to address. "Well, I was going to shoot just about everyone save for my cousin, the Captain, and his second in command," Gabriel half joked, "The bridge on that ship also acts as MS command and control, and so a scheme of this scale requires at least twenty crew members. Fear not ... we have a near limitless supply of stun grenades." Another joke that betrayed details from the original plan.

"And yes, Raay'Xel," Gabriel nodded, "with Vladimir's full cooperation, we should be able to completely repair and upgrade our machines, as well as replace some of the older ones. I'm not terribly concerned with Evangeline piloting during the mission, though it wouldn't be a popular decision and could affect morale. When you have the time, I'd like you to help her train and build up trust with the others. If she's going to fight with us, they need to know she's ready."

As for that last part, Gabriel didn't know how good the pilots assigned to the Vaska were, only that they were likely the best of the armed forces' surviving fighters. They were likely all elites of some degree or another. He only had a good read on Juliya, whose MS training dwarfed most of theirs. She wasn't there to pilot, though, so Gabriel would be surprised to see her anywhere but the bridge or the crews quarters. Thankfully, her exact whereabouts wouldn't impact the plan too much. "Expect the Vaska's pilots to put up a good fight, but only the Crowns will be able to execute attacks the way I did."

Plenty of information, useful and telling of how equipped this flying fortress was. "The Volkovs are of no concern, long range or not. Unless they are all running this Werewolf program, they will not be able to properly dodge our rifles, and be taken out with a single shot. The EU and Russian mass produced forces are not very impressive..." These AMS models would prove more annoying, but they were to have such tech at their own disposal soon. Another smile crawled onto her face, even she couldn't wait to feel such a difference in power.

"Then the Crowns die first. You will have to teach the both of us how to make an enemy surrender, if that is what you wish. We both fight with intent to kill, against enemy targets. It will be difficult to silence that urge, it is drilled in quite deeply." Gabriel could lilely manage, but warning him was definitely necessary.

"And the bridge... It would be impossible for someone of my powers to hold down twenty people. Even ten would prove unlikely... As long as none of them are telekinetic, as I mentioned, I can promise you at least five at a time. I will do that much to aid this." She would have to practice some, maybe against Raay'Xel and Gabriel's crew. This was certainly new ground for her.

Lastly... Eva, was it? The upstart... Hmmmm... "Raay'Xel, and this may have been a mistake, but... I did feel something of a sleeping power in her. If we could coax it out of her, it would likely improve her as a pilot quite considerably, despite the differences in our powers' magnitudes. What do you say?"

"If only the crowns are able to approach your level, then we need only wipe them out to secure victory. I have no doubt that, once my Gamma unit is upgraded, I should be able to dispatch them with relative ease." Raay'Xel boasted, nodding along with the rest of what was said.

"As for... Evangeline? I suppose Eva did seem short for a proper name... regardless, if you need her, or anyone else trained properly, I would be more than happy to oblige, My Liege. I shall teach your men to be proper soldiers yet... what was that, Haal'sen? You think she is... one of the human telekinetics? If you think you can bring out her potential, by all means."

While the Crowns were far and away more mobile than the other AMS units, they weren't any more durable. To Gabriel's knowledge, the sturdiest of the AMS variants were the Mantles, and not by a wide enough margin to warrant a particular strategy or even a mention. If they could down a Volkov in a single shot, then no AMS variant would survive a direct hit, either. Getting a surrender out of the Crown pilots was something Gabriel was still mulling over, himself. The smoothness of the plan hinged on the captain's authority and how it was interpreted in such a dire scenario. Not enough information to fully commit to either strategy, really.

"I'll do some thinking and get back to you regarding the Crowns. While I'm hoping they surrender along with the others, they also have the option to leave the battle and join another unit for a counterattack. That's why it's important we be ready for a full-scale battle, even if the takeover goes well, overall." Of course, they couldn't leave if they were shot down, so Raay'Xel was welcome to prioritize them. Gabriel simply wanted to save what resources he could. If they actually had to shoot down most or all of the ship's mobile suits just to secure the thing, it would leave a bitter taste in his mouth. There had to be a way to do this somewhat gracefully ...

As for Haal'Sen's current cap of five victims, that was more than the original plan called for, so Gabriel appreciated it. "That should more than suffice. You'll have to prioritize, but I'm no slouch in a firefight. There should be a bit of cover on the bridge we can use, so I recommend practicing this on targets you can't see directly if that's not already in your skillset. If you aren't overly exposed then I can focus on my targets more easily."

Gabriel had been about to nod his consent to whipping the crew in general into shape for the upcoming mission and beyond when Raay'Xel clarified something Haal'Sen had said about Eva's 'sleeping power.' Raay'Xel called her a telekinetic or at least a potential one. "Really ...? Huh. Yes then, by all means." How fortuitous.

"Hmmm... Very well. I will attempt simulations for downing opponents non-lethally. I cannot promise results, though. This is... Completely new. I suppose the easiest way would be to take out the thrusters, but then how do they survive the crash..." Pondering that, Raay'Xel clarified what she meant, nodding. "Yes, one of those. When you approached her on the mat, she was able to soften her landing enough to avoid a knock out, leading to tripping you up. Were she a skilled fighter, I would have written it off, but an eighteen year old, barely a pilot, managing such? Something tipped her off. It was rather weak, though... Maybe strong by human standards, I would have to give her a closer inspection. Once we are finished here, send her over to me, would you, Gabriel?"

Hopefully that was all it would take, humans could use bits and funnels all the same, even if it was to a lesser degree. It would still be helpful to have more weaponry on the field, weaponry that could be used alongside more typical rifles. "That all said... What were you going to contact Ziva about?" Haal'Sen had finished with her hair, folding her arms once again. "I do not have anymore questions, personally. If Raay'Xel does, do not mind me, and continue. Otherwise, we should attempt full control of this facility. Pardon the rush; that Vladimir seems trustworthy, I could not read any foul intentions from him, but he is one man."

"Well, you are the expert on such things. If you believe she has potential, I am sure she would be thrilled to work under you, Haal'Sen. As for these crowns, any intelligence you can gather would be helpful in dealing with them, my Liege. I have no other queries at the moment, other than what our next move is." Raay'Xel added, placing her helmet down on a nearby table for a moment, stretching slightly after doing so.

Accepting his comm back, Gabriel said, "The next move is looking into that matter Dima told me about when I spoke with him. He expects me to try to recruit Rosa and leave it at that, but I'm removing his power base completely. I need to know if Rosa's confession was true. If I get confirmation, then I'll act on it, and use that information to undermine Dima's authority here at Statlas. I'll simply be made a liar otherwise ..."

There was also the potential of causing problems for the man over at the Kalten facility and in the provisional government, however, that required more time and thought if it was going to be done right. "Ziva, can you hear me? Are you alone right now?"

"Yes. That was good timing, actually. Is everything alright?"

"Of course, though keep the volume low," Gabriel said, pausing for a moment, "There's some information from Dima I want you to verify for me. Quietly. According to him, Rosa Alkaev confessed to both of their crimes to a number of the staff over at the Kalten Facility. They may be planning to break away as the provisional government scoops up their remaining assets. If that's true then I plan to take advantage of the situation to win over the people here. I doubt they were on lockdown when the incident occurred, so you should be able to find a leak somewhere. If not, you can try to contact people inside Kalten, so long as you don't reveal our intentions."

"On it. I'll let you know what I find."

"Thank you." Gabriel switched off the comm. "Ideally I'll be able to prevent Dima from holding a position in the government, as well, but that's a scheme for another time, I think. If you're both prepared, we can resume our takeover of Statlas."

Dima, again... One conversation gave Haal'Sen everything she needed to know about the man. If people were revealing horrible crimes, his laundry list was likely very, very long. What he had done did not interest the Sacarian, all she wished for was to remove him. Their takeover here was the first step, of hopefully few, to ousting him from the picture entirely. Then things here would be entirely Gabriel's... It was an amusing thought, if he could unite what was left of Russia, could he defeat the weakened Sacarian forces in the EU, when they were finished taking over? It was enough to make her chuckle, what she wouldn't give to see the look on her mother's face if such a thing transpired.

"I am always prepared, Gabriel. Though it shall make my ears once again uncomfortable, I shall don this helmet, and aid you in your process. Clearly, you will just have to pet them better when we are finished here." Haal'Sen laughed and stood up, clearly a joke, helmet in hand. "Shall we? We have a group of humans to subdue."

Petting was it? Now that was an amusing image, one Gabriel realized he could probably get away with, all things considered. Haal'Sen had definitely earned it, though for now, it was best to focus on completely cutting off Statlas from Dima's influence. Once they did that, she and Raay'Xel wouldn't need to hide inside those helmets.

"Yes, let's wrap things up so we can prepare for the next mission."

...

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