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

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Three shots!

Alriana attacks!
Target: Cressida #7
Weapon: Tri-Burst Assault Rifle
Final Hit: 95
Final Crit: 24
Roll: 51, 45
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 128.

Cressida #7 does not hold against the assault!

Alriana gains +5 EXP, +8 PP, +2300 credits!

Hardly stood a chance!

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For the moment, it seemed the Riese was moving... Jessica was either alright, or it has an impressive autopilot. "Re-engaging the enemy!"

Hannah casts Accel, transforms, moves to 10,8, and slashes at Cress #9 with her RM-51s!

"Alright, little machine... Let's, kill them all. Yeah? Yeah..."

Vera sticks to her own little world, casts Accel, moves to 15,4, and pulse kunais Phobos #2!

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Hannah casts Accel! [-8SP]

Time to go fast, Hannah.

Hannah attacks!
Target: Cressida #9
Weapon: RM-51
Final Hit: 59
Final Crit: 10
Roll: 93, 74
Miss!

Cressida #9 counters!
Weapon: Seeker Missiles
Final Hit: 0!
Final Crit: 5
Roll: 8, 50
Miss!

Hannah gains + 2 Will!

That was... unfortunate.

Vera casts Accel! [-5SP]

Vera... keeps going.

Vera attacks!
Target: Phobos #2
Weapon: Pulse Kunai
Final Hit: 100
Final Crit: 30
Roll: 92, 5
Hit!
Crit!
Damage: 171

Phobos #2 counters!
Weapon: Laser Sniper Rifle
Final Hit: 48
Final Crit: 25
Roll: 54, 5
Miss!

Vera gains + 5 EXP, + 1 Will!

A strong hit!

Edited by Xinnidy

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"Don't worry about it," Brant replied, nearly chuckling at the thought, "We're all in this together." That said, they probably shouldn't let their momentum go to waste. Things were starting to go a lot smoother, and the two groups were beginning a steady merger that would all but seal the deal for them in the long run, but they still had multiple battleships and Sacarians breathing down their necks. Now definitely wasn't the time to get comfortable. Now was the time to focus and not waste any shots or leave the enemy any easy openings.

"Which one do you want to hit with that thing next?"

Brant casts Focus!

Eyes on the Prize (Chapter IV)

...

"Haal'Sen. Raay'Xel," Gabriel contacted the two Sacarians, "There isn't any news on the Archangel just yet, but one of the Thrones survived Juliya's override. I'll be taking it up to meet you shortly." With that, Gabriel continued his mad dash for the hangar that very same AMS prototype was currently housed in.

Meanwhile, on Haal'Sen's monitor, Juliya appeared. This time, she was wearing a flight suit. She was only missing the helmet, but she was sitting comfortably in an AMS style cockpit. "That was quick. What did you expec-huh? You're not ..." She was obviously about to accuse Haal'Sen of not being Gabriel ... but the Sacarian wasn't anyone or anything the Alkaev would recognize anyhow ...

"Of course, Gabriel... And hello, Juliya Alkaev." She'd answered, then. Perfect. "I'm sure you and your captain are both already aware of the state of your initial attack force. That is the work of myself and my fellow soldier, Raay'Xel. I'm going to suggest quite plainly that the lot of you drop this futile attempt at destroying us... The two of us are currently equipped with machinery strong enough to deal with a full platoon of Apotheosis' best, let alone the dregs you've fitted with flying coffins. Really, those Crowns lasted less than a minute... Disappointing, honestly." A soft chuckle, Haal'Sen locked eyes on Juliya's, staring her down.

"Gabriel is trying to defeat Dima and unite Russia in one fell swoop. You can be a part of this, or you can get in his way, and find out what happens when you challenge my King. I'm offering you this simply because you are a part of his family, cousin or not... You humans seem to value family quite heavily, for some reason. Choose, Juliya Alkaev, or find out exactly why your captain is making a massive mistake."

"What on Earth ... cosplay?" Though she was still trying to come to grips with the odd appearance of the boisterous woman, Juliya caught enough of the rest to understand some of what was going on. "Tch, if Gabey thinks he can just show up out of nowhere after all these years and take over, he's just as arrogant as Apotheosis. Listen, Chewbacca, two machines just isn't going to be enough. Not by a longshot."

"Cosplay? Is that some Earthling invention? I'm an alien, Juliya. The same race that's been burying Russia. Do you think Apotheosis got all of its technology from your planet?" She allowed herself a laugh, shrugging off her claim. "Two suits were enough for your first volley and squadron. Are you a Telekinetic, Juliya? If not, I suggest you take my warning very seriously. You appear to be suiting up for combat... If Gabriel doesn't order me to keep you alive, I'll make you the first example of your second wave." Gabriel, arrogant? He was far from it. A pragmatist and nothing else. He was grasping what he could because it was within his reach.

"Tick tock, human. Your time is running out. Make your decision, or it will be made for you."

An alien? That would go a long way to explaining the situation with Apotheosis ... but an alien? Aside from the fur and the ears, this pilot looked relatively human ... ... convergent evolution or some nonsense, probably. "You really expect us to surrender? After that? And I'd rather see my country destroyed than ruled by some alien furball's puppet."

"Hold on," a man's voice cut in from Juliya's end, "Something is not right here. This is Captain Vladimir Petya of the Russian Spaceship Vaska. You said you are an alien, that your race is already attacking us. What is your purpose?"

"Puppet? How dare you! I listen to Gabriel's orders to the letter, I wouldn't think of betraying him, and if you wish to defame my trust for him again, I'll--"

Her minor tirade was cut off by a man's voice. Was this the captain, then? So it was... Maybe he would be more willing to listen. "We are the Sacarians. We came from far outside your solar system in search of a suitable planet to live... You Earthlings are just putting up a better struggle than expected, so a full takeover is not going smoothly. That is what the rest of us are working towards. Myself and Raay'Xel were defeated by Gabriel in combat. As he let us live, our lives are his to do with as he pleases." A seemingly tough explanation for humans to believe, but it was the truth, and she was not about to lie.

"My purpose is to listen to everything that Gabriel orders of me. If you do not wish to comply, his orders involve taking the ship by force. If you wish to step down from your stubborn chair and listen to what he has to say, we can avoid some needless bloodshed. He would rather your Crowns be in one piece, instead of several. What say you, Captain Petya? The Vaska is the last thing Russia has, to my understanding. We do not wish to damage it, if we can avoid doing so, and I promise you on my honor as one of Gabriel's Knights, that he wishes to see Russia survive this war as much as I presume you do."

Hmm... "I realize that trust is hard for your race, but it is something that comes naturally to ours. Please believe me, when I say that this can be worked out with words, rather than continued violence." As much as she wished to engage some of their Crowns further, Gabriel wanted them more in tact, the pilots more in tact, and the Vaska undamaged. What Gabriel wanted was paramount.

"What is this, a 'you kick it you keep it' honor system?" Juliya scoffed. Aliens were weird ...

"Your story is quite enlightening, but this ship belongs to the Russian military. Her fate will not be left solely to me. I would be willing to speak with Gabriel personally and see if we can reach an understanding, but only on the condition that your remaining forces stand down for the time being. We will not turn the ship over at gunpoint, no matter the opponent."

Juliya was proving herself to be annoying, but no more so than Ziva had been previously. It was good that Haal'Sen had experience with these sorts of taunts, lest she fly off the handle.

"Your terms are agreeable, as is your demeanor, Captain, but do remember... You fired on us first. We shall stand down for the moment, but we shall remain alert and at the ready. I will not allow you to backstab Gabriel under the pretenses of good will. A moment, please... I am going to include him in this frequency." Haal'Sen switched channels, hoping Gabriel had time to access his communicator while running to the hangar. A moment's fiddling brought the three lines together, Haal'Sen making clear the terms. 

"Gabriel, come in. Captain Petya is willing to speak with you, to reach an understanding, as he has put it. I have had to reveal parts of your plan, but I believe things will move somewhat smoothly from here."

Gabriel was just outside of the hangar the Throne prototype was being kept in when Haal'Sen came through with the good but also mixed news. Given how much damage Juliya had done, ending this without Haal'Sen and Raay'Xel having to fight their way through the Vaska's crew was ideal. He just hoped that he was swift enough to keep any truly hostile elements aboard the ship from taking action.

"I suppose it's my turn, then," Gabriel replied, heading into the hangar. The Throne was waiting inside, with mechanics strewn about and running final checks on the machine. The first thing Gabriel noticed was the funnels attached to the wings. Did the Throne have a T-Link installed? Whose idea had that been, he wondered?

"Captain Petya, can you hear me?" Gabriel asked, heading straight for the Throne. He gently grabbed a mechanic along the way and gestured at the machine, quietly asking for the details.

"I hear you, Gabriel, was it? Just what do you hope to accomplish by threatening us?"

"Keeping my enemies off balance, naturally," Gabriel tried not to smirk as the mechanic showed him the Throne's schematics and recent upgrades. It definitely had a T-Link now, and apparently, this was Luca's doing. The Throne already had the same mobility package as the Regalia models, and adding a T-Link wouldn't be difficult. It didn't seem to be a modification made specifically for Eva, but he could be wrong about that. Luca wasn't very forthcoming on the whole.

"What enemies are you referring to ...?"

"I shouldn't have to be the one to tell you this, Captain," Gabriel sighed, "The Vaska is the big prize. When this war with Apotheosis is over, it will be the power center of whichever faction in the provisional government controls it. I want that faction to be mine ... and as for my enemies ... they're anyone set on getting in my way. That's all."

"Why not work with us?" Petya asked, genuinely curious, "Why must you be the one in charge?"

Gabriel reached the Throne's hatch, having let the mechanic go with a thankful nod, and ridden the lift cable all the way up. Eva was waiting for him and waved. "... a king bows to no one, Captain," Gabriel answered with a resigned grin. There was more to it than that, but he knew that fixing this mess in Russia was going to take something like a king, and not a military leader, politician, or mere pilot. Moreover, the question reminded Gabriel of his days as a light infantryman. He could just imagine the shenanigans if Haal'Sen and Raay'Xel were his knights, and he was merely some government pawn. It would be ridiculous, and they deserved better. All of his people did, but the Sacarians especially.

"So you see yourself as a king ..."

"My goodness," Juliya gawked, "What kind of ...?"

"Gabriel is a fine King," Haal'Sen commented, nodding and smirking. "I will say again that he simply wishes what is best for Russia and her people. There is a corruption afoot in your government, one that needs weeded out. With us at his side, Gabriel can accomplish this. Captain, you said so yourself, the ship belongs, currently, to the military. Gabriel can't work with the very thing he is trying to fix... But, if you were willing to work with us, that is an entirely different story."

So it seemed that Haal'Sen had managed to garner a temporary ceasefire with her hailing of Juliya... how interesting. They had already shown that they were capable of force, so if they could manage to take the Vaska at this stage, without further weakening it's garrison, well, that would be ideal.

"It is as My Liege says, Captain Petya, Juliya Alkaev. My name is Raay'Xel, a Sacarian warrior. Allow me to speak in plain terms... Russia, fractured as it is at present, will not survive this war. Whether it is by Apotheosis, the EU, or the remaining Sacarian forces... piece by piece, Russia will be devoured, until she is no more. Only united, under a strong leader, can Russia survive, let alone thrive. And none is better suited to lead Russia into prosperity than Gabriel, our King. He is a man of strength, valour, and virtue... a sadly rare combination."

"Hmm ..." Petya thought on the matter for a long moment, "Well ... I fail to see how doing this your way will result in a victory for Russia in the long run ... but it seems the difference in this battle is whether these knights of yours become our enemies or not."

"So we're going to standby?" Juliya asked, clearly disappointed.

"Да. Gabriel, I will not turn the Vaska over to you under these circumstances ... but I am willing to meet you in person and see if we can find more common ground. I do not care about the internal politics of our government ... what is left of it ... Protecting my country comes first."

"That's good enough for the moment," Gabriel agreed, though he still opted to strap himself into the Throne's pilot seat. His instincts wouldn't let him loiter waiting for the ship to arrive. Not having his flight suit wasn't ideal, but he would make due if a fight broke out. "My intentions for the Vaska are major upgrades and the integration of newer, stronger AMS units. Even if you're dubious about me and my knights, the people here at Statlas are still committed to saving this country. Bring the ship to the drydock here and let them do what they can for you. Meanwhile, you and I can come to some sort of arrangement."

"... very well," Petya agreed, albeit reluctantly.

"That is not your decision to make, Captain Petya," a new voice, that of a much older man, and heavily accented, suddenly cut in. It was slightly distorted; whoever this was likely was calling through some interference. "I trust you can hear me through this noise, Mr. Katz. I am the acting Minister of Defence, Gavriil Bogdan."

Gavriil, was it? Gabriel couldn't help but grin at his Russian counterpart butting into this out of nowhere. He closed the Throne's hatch and prepared for takeoff. Just by the tone of the man's voice, Gabriel knew it wasn't going to be easy to get the Vaska back unscathed.

"So generous of you to offer your services to the Vaska, but we will be declining your offer. Better that young hot headed usurpers like you are put down early. Captain Petya, your new orders are to use any and all weapons at your disposal to destroy the Statlas Facility and her defenders. That fallback base has been thoroughly compromised, but I'm sure we can salvage something from the rubble."

"Minister, I cannot follow that order."

"You don't expect us to cooperate with the same alien filth that destroyed the Kremlin, do you? Think carefully now, Captain," Bogdan warned, "You aren't as autonomous as we've led you to believe ..."

"I will not follow that order, sir- ... ah ... ... I see."

Gabriel squinted. There was something happening near Petya that only he could see. Since Juliya was the only one on the video feed, all he could do was guess at what was happening, but his hunch was that there were at least a few on the bridge with more loyalty to this Bogdan character than to Petya. That bitter realization in Petya's tone had to be it ...

"Простите, капитан," a bridge officer apologized. His voice barely made it over the comms at first, but he was clearly drawing closer, "Я освобождаю вас от обязанностей." Essentially, he was saying, 'I am relieving you of command.'

"Juliya ... take off with your team. Right now. Before anyone can stop you."

"Truly Captain? You're changing sides now?" Bogdan asked, surprised by the sound of things.

"Dammit ..." Juliya hissed, "Nemesis Squad! Take off!" The bullets ricochetting off of her suit's armor conveyed the chaos now unfolding inside the Vaska, though the real extent of the sudden coup was anyone's guess.

"Vladimir, we need the Vaska's location," Gabriel radioed the Statlas Director, "Minister Bogdan just flipped the script on us."

"The Minister? Gah ... we're doing what we can, but-"

"I'll send you the coordinates," Juliya yelled as her suit cleared the catapult, "Just get over here and help us!"

...

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Brant casts Focus! [-15SP]

"Enemy density increased, we're under attack from all sides, Major." Lynx remained vigilant, hunching over on the back seat, attention stressed towards the navigation UI. The Mantle's back-seat wasn't made with his size in mind, but Lynx was never one to complain... it did mean he was less efficient in exceptionally high-speed maneuvers, demanding proper posturing of his spine.

Lieutenant Lynx was tense, not only from their situation, but because of his position as a co-pilot. Despite doing what he could, Lynx never did cast off that anxious feeling of putting maneuvers mostly on Major Bonner's hands. Still, it was clear which of them was more experience in combat within the Gravity Front, and, methodical soldier as he was, Lynx refrained from putting his anxieties on the table as anything more than that --anxieties. "I can feel some pressure I've never felt before... the aliens are very advanced TKs, Major. It's a wonder Lieutenant Seung-Min can land a hit." It did not stop him from voicing his anxieties as cautious concern.

Major Edson Bonner became quiet as the battle ensued. Unlike the Lieutenant, Edson lacked the sixth sense granted by a Telekinetic brain, and his reliance on the usual senses was paying its toll in a battle this lopsided. "They must be, but we can't afford to put all the strain on the Lieutenant." That said, the Mantle had been a suitable mech for Edson, the speed and acceleration of an AMS mobile suit had allowed the Major to keep up with some of the TK pilots from both sides, until recently. "I will need your help landing a hit on those machines. When it is time, I'll tell you to take the controls." Edson never turned his head to his co-pilot, but it was hardly needed, he'd come to understand some of Lynx's anxieties at this point --and had some of his own.

Promptly, his co-pilot nodded, feeling his worries weigh less.

Bonner casts Focus! [-10SP]

The Mantle flies away from the center of conflict (7,15), and fires at a Deimos!

Bonner attacks!
Target: Deimos #3
Weapon: Hip Beam Cannons
Final Hit: 100
Final Crit: 19
Roll: 95, 19
Hit!
Crit!
Damage: 137

Deimos #3 counters!
Weapon: Split Missiles
Final Hit: 45
Final Crit: 1
Roll: 66, 97
Miss!

Bonner gains +20 EXP, +2 Will!
Gordon gains +40 EXP, +2 Will!

A nice shot!

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A smile cracked on Tycho's face, he actually got a solid reply. "Nah you're right, you're right, I'm just better than that." A small chuckle, "Don't mind me I'm a chatterbox. Keeps me focused and-- That one!" With a target in sight he loaded his Graviton Launcher for another. Shot. The smile lowered as Tycho went into intense focus. His grip tightened. This is for the boys back home.

"Follow my lead, LT." Here kitty kitty kitty~ Into range and... "Fire!"

Tycho casts Focus!

Tycho blasts Praxis Gamma 6 with his Graviton Launcher, Support from Brant's Funnels!

Edited by Silver Gallade

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Tycho casts Focus! [-10SP]

Time for more of the big guns!

Tycho attacks!
Target: Praxis Gamma #6
Weapon: Graviton Launcher
(Lucky Roll: 86. Miss. Lucky % up)
Final Hit: 99
Final Crit: 23
Roll: 95, 24
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 138

Praxis Gamma #6 has no effective weapon to counter with, and curses at the underwater mobile suit...

Brant attacks!
Weapon: Funnels
Final Hit: 93
Final Crit: 17
Roll: 13, 13
Hit!
Crit!
Damage: 151

Praxis Gamma #6 cannot withstand the beams!

Tycho gains +200 EXP, +6 Will, +5500 credits, +15 PP!
Brant gains +100 EXP, +15 PP!

Outta here!

Edited by Xinnidy

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And another one gone. It was a little strange working alongside a fish, but you couldn't argue with the results. Their momentum was strong, and Brant wanted to make good use of it. "This whole one-two approach is working pretty well. Be right back ..." Unfortunatelly Brant would have to break from Tycho briefly to keep this game of attrition going in their favor. Hopefully Elaine could move in and help the Regalia down another Deimos. If so, that'd be one less enemy shooting at them. "Ja- ..." Was that really her callsign? Nope, not today. "Elaine, it's Merlin. We just marked a target we're going after. Going to need your help with this one."

Brant moves to 7,17 and attacks Deimos #3 with the Hyper Beam Rifle!

Eyes on the Prize (Chapter V)

...

It seemed they were finally about to have a reasonable dialogue... but that would have been too easy, wouldn't it? With some interference from this so-called defense minister, it appeared that Captain Petya was stuck dealing with a mutiny, command usurped. And Juliya Alkaev and her men were fleeing the scene before they could be captured. It wasn't ideal for Gabriel's plans, but Raay'Xel wouldn't turn down more combat, even if it was unfortunate how it had come about.

"My machine is the fastest we have available, in it's plane formation. I am moving in the general direction of the Vaska's initial assault, my Liege. Requesting those coordinates as soon as you have them." Raay'Xel noted, the Praxis Zeta taking off in it's transformed state at a breakneck pace. Considering how quickly the Vaska's suits and missiles had come into range prior, it couldn't be that far off.

"There's always one of you disgusting political types in these situations, isn't there? What useless creatures you humans are! And what luck I have had in finding the one trustworthy soul among you all." Another to add to the list of people to dispose of, once they were in command. "I suppose helping the Vaska is now in order, Gabriel?" Juliya seemed to be taking an impressive amount of fire. "Catch up to us once she has sent you coordinates. I've found the beast. Raay'Xel and I shall scout ahead. Raay'Xel! I've sent you the scan's data! Let's go!"

Much as she preferred the maneuverability of the MS mode, the machine's transforming capabilities were something she couldn't ignore. It would take moments to reach the Vaska from their current position at this speed. "Gabriel, I have an important question, and I need you to answer me quickly and clearly. Do you know if Vladimir's men installed a T-Link into my machine, and if so, how do I access it? If they did, I can disable the Vaska's bridge long enough to deal with this mess, but if they did not, this will be more difficult. I can only hope Vladimir's mechanics were proactive, upon seeing my funnels..."

"They wouldn't have forgotten the T-Link," Gabriel shook his head at the thought, though he didn't have any experience with them, so ...

"Part of the T-Link is in your helmet," Eva chimed in, "It should be listed as a system item near the main menu." Eva was partly guessing since she hadn't seen the inside of a Praxis, but if the Alkaev techs had gotten their hands on it, the process for getting the T-Link active would have to be similar to what Eva herself had done ... at least enough for her explanation to put Haal'Sen on the right track.

"You'll know when it's active," Gabriel added cautiously. He knew that much about these things. "Alright, we're ready. Gilded Throne, launching."

"Yeah! We're coming to help!"

The scene at the Vaska was madness, pure chaos. Over a dozen AMS units were airborne, while several comically over-equipped Volkovs stood on the hull or the catapults firing countless missiles into the sky. Even the ship's main cannons were acquiring friendly targets in the confusion, and nearly atomizing them with each shot. There were no flags, no changes to the IFFS, no way to be sure who was on whose side anymore. Any attempts Juliya could make to positively identify her allies were inherently prone to deception. She even had doubts about her own squad she couldn't shake.

"Here, Gabriel ... get here quick because I have no idea who's with us and who's with Bogdan ..."

"We're with you," one of her own squad assured her.

"Right." It was painful for her to not be completely sure ... and that was the odd part, come to think of it. The suits that were shooting at them seemed to know what they were doing. Did Bogdan's goons have a way to identify each other?

"AA missiles, incoming!" Another from Nemesis Squad barked. The vertical launch tubes were opening up in droves, likely armed with burst missiles for splashing multiple suits at once. "Let's get to the underside!"

... that was as good an idea as any until help arrived. There were just as many ship weapons on the underside, but only the AMS units could chase them down there. The Volkovs wouldn't have a shot at them. "Let's go," Juliya ordered, leading the small formation beneath the hell they had just flown into.

"Juliya Alkaev," Bogdan addressed her directly this time, his voice still distorted, "Do you think your grandfather will approve of this? You know that he and I have been friends for a very long time."

"I don't care. You have people I know and trusted shooting at me. I'm going to do some unspeakable things to you when I find you, you old fossil."

"So defiant ..."

"Then it's time to try it. Damn these helmets, though... Ugh, I suppose this discomfort shall be the least of my worries!" Slipping the helmet on with a hiss, as her ears bent in a very, very uncomfortable angle, Haal'Sen fiddled through the menus and activated the--

"Hhhhgh, grahhh!" The sudden feedback was immense, as her head began to pound, machine slowly dipping and starting to dive. "What, an... Intense feeling! Hahahah!" A fierce scowl and a broad grin sprung onto her face, snatching at the controls and pulling the Praxis back up. "I... This is, wonderful! I fear this may have a time limit, Gabriel, but I shall do my best until then!" Her mind was feeling things that she didn't think possible, every funnel felt like an extension of her body, control was precise, immediate, and dangerous. If they felt this close to her, if one were destroyed, that would likely reflect on her body. This would need extensive testing...

"How many people man the Vaska's bridge, Gabriel? Raay'Xel, as an aside, I shall attempt to protect myself with my funnels, but I shall be immobile while I am doing this. If possible, aid in keeping me safe, while you save Juliya from her own men. I shall disable the ship." Wonderful, wonderful! I can feel so much, the entire world around me, this is, so... Is this what the knights feel? Is this their level of power? This technology, humans, what a wondrous device you have...!

As Haal'Sen engaged this human T-link... Raay'Xel's head snapped back in her direction, overcome by surprise. That was... quite the change. Impressive. Raay'Xel would need to see if she could be fitted with one of these T-links in the future, if she wasn't already. For now, she would need protect Haal'Sen and destroy the usurpers, as her compatriot removed the Vaska's ability to provide supporting fire. Hailing Juliya's frequency, it was time to begin to discern the battlefield.

"Juliya Alkaev. I am entering the battlefield. Identify your machine by any means possible, so that I might properly support."

"Look for the formation circling beneath the Vaska," Juliya replied, scanning her radar for any sign of the supposed reinforcements, "I'm going to try to mark myself and our friendlies but it's going to take a minute ... just don't shoot anyone who isn't acting aggressive for now ..."

As soon as she'd gotten out the words, a mass production Mantle swooped below the aft section of the Vaska and transformed into MS mode. Juliya instinctively switched to MS mode to counter, however her unit's shield flipped onto the unit's back instead of onto the left arm, leaving both arms unencumbered. "Are you with us or with the old fossil I'm going to step on?"

"W-what?" There was a pause as Juliya's wingmen switched over to MS mode as well, and then the Mantle raised its beam smartgun and leveled it squarely on Juliya's cockpit.

"Easier way to identify me ... I'm the one with the shiny hands," Juliya warned with a giant smirk. Suddenly, her machine's hands began to light up as violet plasma raised over the fingers, quickly cloaking them in hellish gauntlets. The Mantle fired, and Juliya's men scattered as she moved forward, jutting out one arm and splitting the beam down the middle. Before the enemy pilot could react, one of Juliya's men flanked him, his own mobile suit's hands glowing, and promptly tore the Mantle's left arm clean off. Juliya then, still feeling smug, sent the same emergency lockdown code she'd sent to Statlas Facility, and the Mantle's systems all died at once. The machine tumbled to the wilderness below and crashed.

"Weird," her wingman said, "... the Volkovs are the only threat if the mastery key works on all the AMS units."

"Don't forget the Vaska's AA guns ... or those missiles," another chimed in.

Juliya snickered in her seat. "I'm trying so hard not to laugh right now ..."

Meanwhile, Haal'Sen's experience with the T-Link had Eva somewhat worried. "Is she ... going to be okay? Haal'Sen? Are you having a power trip? Should I be quiet and just let you enjoy it?"

"Let's see," Gabriel mused aloud, "the bridge ought to have a good twenty people at least, but there could be more if you factor in security. If you can distinguish between Petya and anyone nonhostile, that should save some of your energy. In fact, if you can distinguish them, it should give Petya and his men a chance to retake the bridge, which should be enough to end this."

The formation beneath the Vaska, was it? Well, that was simple enough as a starting point... as the Vaska quickly came into targeting distance, Raay'Xel immediately found herself accosted by AA railgun fire and a missile barrage, the former easily evaded with a tight corkscrew turn, and the missiles intercepted by funnels. Juliya radioed something further about shiny hands, and the accompanying feeling of smugness from below the ship made her location rather obvious. Luckily two AMS units that weren't too far away from that formation had begun firing on her as she approached. Easy enough identifier for her purposes.

"Very well, Juliya. I'll be the one with the shiny... everything~" Raay'Xel mused in response, as a clean shot from her lava rifle pinned an unfortunate Mantle in place long enough to be torn to shreds by her funnels. As for the Throne... a familiar glow from her earlier test maneuver enveloped the Praxis Zeta as Raay'Xel projected her ESP Field to it's maximum output, and just as the first time, what must have looked an inconceivable suicide dive swiftly climaxed in Raay'Xel ramming the Throne head on unexpectedly, dragging it underneath the ship before clearing it's broken frame in a shower of exploding electronics and twisted metal. As it's field began to come back down, the Praxis Zeta transformed mid-flight, coming to a dead stop just in front of a unit with 'shiny hands', and that unmistakable smugness... only left to see if it would last.

'Juliya Alkaev, I take it? Your cavalry has arrived.' Raay'Xel telepathically noted to the pilot, almost sure she had the right woman by this point.

"I could pass out if I'm not careful, Eva... This is a rush of power the likes of which I have never felt. If my machine begins to fall, do try and catch me. I'd hate to die so unceremoniously." A sudden calm began to wash over her, as this power... Settled, for lack of a better feeling, inside of her. Moving her funnels and trying to hone in on others was causing it to flare up. This would take real, concentrated practice, but if she could master it...

Single out, Petya... Find him... Find what his thoughts must be, and anyone else that fits the situation. Concentrate...! Haal'Sen's machine flew in above the Vaska, funnels immediately blasting incoming missiles out of the sky, while several rushed to raze the Volkovs on top of the ship. They had mere seconds to react, and could not do so accordingly, limbs being torn off, cockpits penetrated. Three fell in an instant, the rest having their fire fended off as Haal'Sen's machine began to nearly glow. A red energy was slowly overtaking it, bristling like flame around the machine.

"Focus...!" There was... One mind, among the bridge, one so devastated and confused at the sudden turn in trust... She was going to bank on that being Petya. 'Captain Petya... This is Haal'Sen. Prepare to retake the bridge.'

She reached her arm out, hand open towards the bridge. Her machine followed suit. Eyes flashed wide open, a similar glow flowing about their edges.

Inside the Vaska's bridge, a sudden pressure enveloped almost all of the personnel on board. Only those she'd sensed were not fighting, and the one she had decided was Petya, were left out of the psychic barrage. Anyone else would have collapsed to the floor, unable to handle the weight of the sudden mental attack.

'You... Have five, m-minutes, Cap... Tain... Maybe, less. I am... This is, difficult... I... Hrrhghh...' The strain was impressive, nearly unbearable. So many minds, fighting against her own, her head felt it was about to split in two! ... But, she had to do this. For Gabriel, and for the Captain, a man willing to set aside his duties for a chance at saving his country.

"We'll be there shortly, Haal'Sen," Gabriel promised, "You'll be fine."

"You can count on us-whoa!" Eva was nearly cut off when Gabriel suddenly increased the Gilded Throne's thrusters to their max and silenced the limiters. They could make good time now, but Eva was pinned to her seat. "Hrrrg, almost ... there ..."

Things on the Vaska's bridge ... had just gotten a little weird ... "Ч-что?" Captain Petya almost couldn't believe his ears or even his eyes. Between the traitors suddenly going rigid and Petya hearing a female's voice in his head, he was a third of the way to a heart attack. The struggle of the closest of his former guards was painfully obvious, so much so that Petya almost felt sorry for him. Almost. His military instincts quickly set in, and when Haal'Sen warned him that he had five minutes to retake the ship, he sprang to his feet. No one seemed able to stop him, so he was grateful they were foolish enough to leave him uncuffed ... a shame he couldn't return the courtesy, but they had brought this on themselves.

"Siding with Minister Bogdan when the Sacarians are this powerful ..." Petya shook his head as he retrieved the nearest guard's handcuffs. "You lost that wager handily." And first man cuffed. "Anyone who can still move, take their weapons and restrain them. Reassign the guns and do not pick off any of our allies. We are putting an end to this. ... thank you, Haal'Sen ... for ... whatever this is ..."

"Sokolov?" Bogdan's voice came over the radio again. "Sokolov ... Krupin ... Alekseev? Someone respond."

Petya shook his head, resisting the urge to chuckle. Bogdan's gambit was a spectacular failure thanks to Haal'Sen's strange alien abilities. Petya wasn't even going to explain the situation until he was finished putting away the old man's toy soldiers. For now, he could just sweat it out wondering what was going on~

"Answer me!"

...

"What ... is that?" Furthermore, what was that voice in her head? Juliya wasn't exactly thrilled to see the unfamiliar unit zip around like crazy and then plow clean through another AMS unit, and she was left even more bewildered by this ... telepathy she was being subjected to. She wasn't sure if the speed demon in front of her was a TK unit, but it was most assuredly an AMS variant. While some of the parts were unfamiliar, the chest was a dead giveaway, along with the wings tucked away on its side skirts. "Are you some kind of super TK? How are you chatting me up in my head?"

'You are, welcome... Captain... I...' Haal'Sen could feel herself passing out. The effects she'd just sent into the Vaska would last, long enough for the Captain to regain control of the ship. Now... As the glow faded from her machine, her funnels stopping fire, she felt... Faint. "Gabriel... Catch me..."

Her world went moderately dark, as the overload from the T-Link caused some of her funnels to explode, some near enough to Volkovs to cause damage, but, with her defensive tools imploding, she was left unprotected. A swift volley from one of the remaining suits impacted hard against the suddenly still frame of her Praxis, thrust faltering for a moment as the suit began its descent towards the ground.

Just in time and not a moment too soon, Gabriel realized. He steered the Gilded Throne down, just enough to catch the Praxis Psi from below. It was close, and transforming into MS mode lost them a good deal of speed as the drag slowed them down, but Gabriel compensated as best he could in the unfamiliar suit. The two machines collided at a 45-degree angle, but it was far less painful than a crash would have been.

"Ugh my chest," Eva groaned. The harness had kept her from being crushed against the back of Gabriel's seat, but they had been pulling 9Gs and cut their velocity in half in very short order ...

"Haal'Sen, can you hear me?" Gabriel called out, just as roughed up as Eva, but unable to bother with it, "The Vaska's no longer firing. It should be safe to land ..." Unfortunately, the Throne was closer to the ground now than to the ship, and it would be a bit more timely to land there first, using the woods for cover while they checked on Haal'Sen.

"... ... Gab...riel...?" Her voice was weak, a cough resounding in her cockpit. No crash landing. Still breathing. Splitting headache... "Yes... I, took care of the, bridge. It was... Difficult. Everything hurts, I... May, have pushed myself, beyond what I am capable of. It... It felt, so amazing, though... Like I could feel... The whole world, around me. Even the air, against my machine. What a wonderful feeling..." She was starting to regain her senses, somewhat. Her head still ached, but nothing would fix that aside from some resting.

"My apologies for being unable to continue... And..." A faint smile, a small feeling bubbled up. What was it? It was odd... She didn't quite recognize it. "You caught me. Heh... I was expecting the ground, but... Here you are." Gabriel truly was the most amazing King, wasn't he? Even for someone like her, to throw himself into danger's way... ... ... Oh... That's... That's what this feeling... What a mess I'm becoming. Over a human. Ugh... Truly, Raay'Xel will mock me. But I... I cannot deny this, any further.

"Of course," Gabriel smiled, relieved she hadn't been done in by his rushed rescue attempt. He had a headache of his own, but it was from the whiplash and the strained capillaries all over the front of his body. As much as he would rather land on the Vaska, it was still just a little too hot up there, and the Gilded Throne couldn't support roughly twice its own weight while in MS mode. Down they went, but slow and steady ...

"How are you still alive?!" Eva exclaimed as she came to her senses. She was wearing a flight suit that was a clumsy attempt at combining a SKIN suit and a high G suit, and she felt like she'd just been in a train wreck. Gabriel was just wearing regular clothes. Not even a helmet!

"I had to survive if I was going to catch her," Gabriel smiled. "You did wonderfully by the way, Haal'Sen. Even with Bogdan's interference, we should be able to take the Vaska without too many casualties or damage. I'm grateful to you."

"... I am falling for you, Gabriel. I will be... Plain, about this. Please ignore the poor choice of words given circumstances, simply put, I... You are... This is not, easy to put into words, beyond what I have said. I am a warrior, not... Anything else." A sigh escaped her, sitting up in her machine. Things were still functional, but it would likely cause issues to attempt to move, being held like this. "Thank you for your praise... I... Must disgust you, in a similar way your hairless race confuses me. Yet we do not lie."

She straightened herself out in her seat, removing the helmet and disabling the T-Link. "Even if it ends in disappointment, my feelings needed to be made known. I await your answer, my Li... G... Gabriel..." Could Sacarians blush? This was truly different than any situation Haal'Sen had seen or heard of before regarding romance. Perhaps she was being more gentle, simply because humans were more fragile? Or the T-Link had knocked her around more fiercely than she'd expected. Either way... This meek and demure approach, it was far unlike her. "My apologies, I am not... I, simply... Mrrr..."

"Still?" Eva asked, not sure how Haal'Sen was falling when Gabriel had already caught her. Sure they were still heading downward, but--oh, figuratively falling. Romance stuff. "Erp ..."

Gabriel frowned at his monitor, though only the main menu was onscreen for the moment. "You don't disgust me in the slightest, Haal'Sen. As for my answer, you've caught me at perhaps the worst possible moment," he smiled apologetically, "It's been ... a while since I thought of ending my stint as a bachelor. I'd like to give it some more thought."

Eva's eyes widened with Gabriel's response. Could he and Haal'Sen actually wind up together? How would the team feel about that? Would this take away time from her training with Eva herself? Would that make Haal'Sen the Queen of Russia? What would the children look like? Was Castor going to hit on Raay'Xel to try and keep up? What about-

"For now, just know that you've given me the gift of absolute trust, faith outside of myself ... that's something nearly all humans live and die without ever knowing ... or understanding ... and that is the greatest gift anyone has ever given me, worth far more than I can repay."

Not a no? What a curious individual... "You are far too kind. I've simply given you what all of my people know, nothing more or less. The respect you have as my King is all earned through your own actions." Some time to think... 'You continue to impress me, Gabriel.'

"Eva, as for you, please do not worry about all of that. You shall not be forgotten if something happens. The rest is not your concern, though, and Castor is a child. I would certainly hope not." Nip that in the bud before it grows into a legitimate worry of hers. Her mind was still jumping to different what ifs, Haal'Sen wasn't sure she could keep up under this strain.

Things had taken quite a turn topside, it would seem. Haal'Sen had successfully pulled off her mass-suppression maneuver, but the strain had been enough to knock her out of commission for a time, luckily caught by Gabriel... from this distance, it was likely that Raay'Xel herself could have intercepted before she hit the ground, but starting at a standstill would have made the odds... less than pleasant. Still, she couldn't help but snicker at Juliya's sudden change in disposition.

'I am a Sacarian... I suppose Super TK is not... wholly inaccurate. Haal'Sen has just finished suppressing the bridge with her ESP, and Captain Petya should be in the midst of regaining control. The Vaska won't fire on us.' Raay'Xel communicated further, gesturing to Gabriel and Haal'Sen's emergency landing in progress.

'That level of output will take her out of the fight for a time. Securing the outside falls to us. I hope you and your men are ready.'

A super TK ... well, fine then. At least things hadn't gotten so bad that Gabriel and alien company opted not to help them against Minister Bogdan. "If the Captain has the ship again, then that gives me room to work my magic." Her team seemed to catch her cue and transitioned into a defensive circle around her, all guns aimed outward. "I've got some telekinetic abilities of my own, you know ..."

Having marked and filtered out all friendlies, Juliya used her master key and broadcast the emergency shutdown signal throughout the entire region. Save for a few remaining Volkovs forcing their way onto the topside catapults, all opposition went silent, and the once airborne traitors started dropping like flies. "Tumbling down, tumbling down, tumbling dooown~ I'm in complete control, that's the way I like it."

The Gilded Throne touched down in the midst of the trees, the force from its thrusters shaking them to their foundations and sending the remaining wildlife scattering in all directions. The landing was a bit rough, but nothing compared to Gabriel's epic rescue maneuver. "Whew," Eva breathed a sigh of relief. Relationships took up a lot of personal time. She thought that was why Gabriel was still single, but now she wasn't so sure.

"Perhaps," Gabriel shrugged at the thought of himself being too kind. Regardless, the Sacarian norm was, at best, a utopian fantasy for humans. Only the TKs could truly grasp at the possibility or even comprehend it, and as far as Gabriel was concerned, it was a gift. As a fighter in a near constant dance with life and death, what else could it be?

"This is Captain Petya," the man's voice came over an open channel, "The ship is nearly secure, but we must make an emergency landing at the fallback base, Statlas. Remaining pilots, provide escort until we arrive." Petya didn't want to get into the details over the open channel, but the mutiny left them severely understaffed. About a third of the crew had been with Bogdan, but it took almost an equal number of loyalists just to keep them under control, leaving the remaining third to crew the ship itself. They were down to a third of the recommended crew size and couldn't stay out here in the open like this.

"I suppose that means we've won, then? The Praxis should be able to move, Gabriel, I can take off again." To prove this, she slowly moved the machine to standing, since they'd landed. "Perhaps nothing, Gabriel. Our race is trying to kill yours... Even if Raay'Xel and I have sworn ourselves to you, your acceptance and kindness, topped with trust, have been above and beyond what any of us would expect from any humans... You could learn a lot from Gabriel, Eva. Perhaps look to your own before looking to us." With a smirk and a huff, Haal'Sen prepared to take off. "Shall we escort the Vaska?"

"I'd like to think of it as a win," Gabriel said, preparing to take off, "but until the Vaska reaches Statlas and everything is secure we need to be careful ... as for you and Raay'Xel ..." Gabriel understood the sentiment. The Sacarians in general were against humanity. Trusting these two would feel like a gamble to most people, but they didn't know or understand them. They hadn't fought against and alongside them. The fact that their people were planning to conquer the planet, while Haal'Sen and Raay'Xel were helping Gabriel restore and protect one crucial piece of it, was the very contrast that granted him the certainty he needed to push forward, beyond simply gathering his strength, and beyond acquiring the Vaska.

"You and Raay'Xel are easier to understand, though ..." Eva pouted, "You just lay everything out there and leave it at that."

Gabriel cocked his head at her remark, agreeing wholeheartedly despite his surprise. "Huh ... my point was just made for me. Let's begin our escort ..."

"Heh... Hahaha. I suppose we are. We all are, though... Our motivations are just, different, than the others." Haal'Sen sighed. If it was truly this easy to get along with the humans, then their conquest of the planet was pointless. They could simply try to reach agreements to share it... "How sad..." She didn't explain what she meant by sad, starting to take off towards the Vaska again.

"I'm glad that we're easy to understand, Gabriel. Thank you again... Raay'Xel!" Haal'Sen opened that frequency again, coming up upon the group. Some of her funnels remained functional, if any forces wished to attempt to fight them, they would be swiftly dispatched.

"Good work out there. We've done it."

"Of course we have. Was there ever any doubt?" Raay'Xel replied, nodding her head. Juliya had one final trick up her sleeve, shutting down the opposing units and making the cleanup operation far more simple... almost disappointingly so. With their chance of defeat approaching zero percent, removing any fighting at the end only served to temper her enjoyment... oh well.

...

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Brant leads the way!

Brant attacks!
Target: Deimos #3
Weapon: Hyper Beam Rifle
Final Hit: 100
Final Crit: 33
Roll: 29, 70
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 134

Deimos #3 counters!
Weapon: Split Missiles
Final Hit: 2
Final Crit: 7
Roll: 32, 26
Miss!

Brant gains +30 EXP!
Brant levels! +1 shooting, accuracy, and skill! +3 SP!

Good shot!

Edited by Xinnidy

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Flavour later!
 
Elaine casts Strike, moves to 6,6 and attacks Deimos 3 with her Dual Beam Rifle!
 
 

 

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These two were relentless... Seung-Min had still managed to avoid taking any damage on the Artemis, but it had been a close call. Evading an incoming tail swing from the Hexis had cut her avenues of movement, and Astin had attempted to capitalize on that. They had almost been successful, but Thorvald's backup had been enough to squeeze out of the way of the incoming blade, a small chip on the Odin's paint the only result of the traitor's trouble. Still, while she could keep these two occupied, she wasn't doing much to damage them in return... a few glancing blows, but focus on defense had left them little more than that. And with the other two Knights coming in... they had to thin the herd, but they couldn't properly pile on to the trouble targets with the other machines still around.

"Time to get serious, then." Seung-Min noted softly, as she brought up the ARES system in the Artemis' menu, turning the machine's inner workings to life as it's venting systems began to whirr and glow with red heat. Taking a shot at one of the leading Gammas as she strafed North away from the Hexis, she just had to keep them moving until the time was right.

Kim casts Focus, activates the ARES System, shoots Praxis Gamma 5 with 115mm Twin Railguns supported by Thorvald's Rocket Barrels, and moves to 12,17 using Hit&Away

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Elaine casts Strike![-15 SP]

An attack is launched at Deimos #3!

Elaine attacks!
Target: Deimos #3
Weapon: Dual Beam Rifles
Final Hit: 100!
Final Crit: 15
Roll: 64, 25
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 119

Deimos #3 cannot resist!

Elaine gains +200 EXP, + 6 Will, + 12 PP, +5500 credits!
Elaine levels! +2 SP!

Kim casts Focus![-15 SP]

Kim activates the ARES system.!

Kim starts the beating!

Kim attacks!
Target: Praxis Gamma #5
Weapon: 115mm Twin Railguns
Final Hit: 100
Final Crit: 28
Roll: 30, 100
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 238

Praxis Gamma #5 counters!
Weapon: ESP Bits
Final Hit: 0
Final Crit: 2
Roll: 32, 26
Miss!

Thorvald provides support fire!
Weapon: Rocket Barrels
Final Hit/Crit: 94/16
Roll: 41, 47
Hit! No Crit. Damage: 58

Kim gains +5 EXP.
Thorvald gains +10 EXP, +2 Will!

Appropriate performance!

Edited by Xinnidy

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The battlefield was still a bit of a chaotic slog, but for their part they hadn't lost anybody and they were making very good progress. That said, enemy elites were starting to pose a very real threat, especially to people who had either taken a hit or two, or who were burning through ammo or energy reserves fast. Thorvald was doing his best to manage the team: a few words of encouragement here or there, pitching in on cooperative suggestions, and stepping into the way of oncoming fire, all as circumstances dictated. And he'd noticed yet another opportunity to keep up this good work. As luck would have it, he should even be able to manage this one while continuing to keep a close eye on a couple of vulnerable--no that's not quite the right word for Lieutenant Kim, given her prowess--on some high profile friendlies.

"Puppet, swinging in to assist. Great work on that salvo back there, but you're looking like you're getting pretty dry. Recommend you think about finding time to restock and refuel."

Then he braced himself, there were a lot of heavy cannons, a lot of unknowns, and a large portion of his herd had begun moving further west. But Odin could handle this.

Thorvald casts Shield, moves to 12,16, attacks Deimos 5 with Rocket Barrels supported by Tarquin's Full Output Railgun.

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Tarquin casts Sense! [-16 SP]

Thorvald casts Shield! [-25 SP]

The Odin isn't just for show!

Thorvald attacks!
Target: Deimos #5
Weapon: Rocket Barrels
Final Hit: 83
Final Crit: 16
Roll: 82, 9
Hit!
Crit!
Damage: 131!

Deimos #5 counters!
Weapon: Pulse Kunai
Final Hit: 100
Final Crit: 0
Roll: 75, 33
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 2.
20 EN is depleted!

Tarquin provides support fire!
Weapon: Full Output Railgun
Final Hit: 100!
Final Crit: 28
Roll: 10, 25
Hit!
Crit!
Damage: 190!

Deimos #5 can no longer fight!

Thorvald gains +250 EXP, + 4 Will, +12 PP, +5500 credits!
Thorvald levels up! +4 SP!
Tarquin gains +75 EXP, +12 PP!

A sure shot ended it!

Edited by Xinnidy

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Aliza casts Focus, and fires ATA at Deimos 2

Things were getting really dicey. Aliza had lost track of Aly at this point, but she was more or less concerned with keeping herself alive. So she bust out the big gun, or in this case bow. Her trusty beam longbow popped out and spun in the air once again, she caught it as soon as it came down and drew back the string. Blue plasma built up again and... "Code: ATA! Arrivederci!" She loosed the arrow as it screamed out and tore through the sky at a poor unsuspecting Deimos.

Hit and Away to 7,16

Edited by TheRoon

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Aliza casts Focus![-10SP]

She moves to blast Deimos 2!

Aliza attacks!
Target: Deimos #2
Weapon: Code ATA
Final Hit: 91
Final Crit: 41
Roll: 26, 40
Hit!
Crit!
Damage: 337!

That... left nothing of the Deimos to answer back!

Aliza gains +250 EXP, +6 Will, +12 PP, +5500 credits!
Aliza levels up! +2 SP!

Lethal!

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And down it goes. "Nice shot, Elaine," Brant praised the kill. Despite how well things were going, nearly all of the enemy's major players were still on the field. Trying to clean out the grunts first was safer overall, but they weren't going to have much left in the way of ammunition for the final stretch if they weren't extremely careful. Not to mention the Riese was still heavily exposed with a whole squad moving toward it. Nothing the Regalia could do about it at the moment, unfortunately.

"Urgh, we're burning through ammo and we've still got an army on our hands. This is Merlin to Vivian. Are you sure the other ships are too far out to help?"

"Not even picking them up on the horizon," Firmia replied, "So yes, they're too far away. Just try to conserve your energy. If the situation or our strategy changes, I'll let you know."

"Copy that ..." Brant sighed.

Eyes on the Prize (Chapter VI)

Spoiler

...

The curtain was finally unveiled at Statlas. The facility's underground drydock had some extremely large doors, hidden beneath some unassuming overgrowth. While the entrance was away from the surface facilities, part of the drydock rested beneath them, hundreds upon hundreds of meters underground. The doors opened up as the ship destined for this place approached. It was going to be a busy day, more so for some than for others.

"I'm ... having some regrets," Juliya quietly sulked as she and her team touched down on a nearby runway.

"Understandable," Vladimir consoled her, "The only way to reactivate the systems that are in emergency lockdown mode is to work each one manually. We can't just let them sit there, so we need you to make the rounds and get everything back online. You're the only Alkaev here with that kind of access, so it's up to you. The systems, subsystems, mobile suits, the fliers, anything that accepted the lockdown command all need that magic touch of yours."

"I know, I know, stop teasing me," Juliya hung her head, realizing how much of her day was going to be sacrificed to undo a simple master key command.

"For what it's worth, Juliya, that was well played. Without the Sacarians backing us up, we would have been in serious trouble. Gabriel didn't know much about the master key and I didn't know you could use it under these conditions. If Minister Bogdan hadn't interfered on top of that, it might have been the end of us."

"Thanks, I suppose ..." It wasn't just the equipment here at Statlas Juliya was going to have to reactivate. There were AMS units still in the field and just leaving them out there was a horrible idea at best. She was going to be extremely busy ... far too busy to attend the meeting between Gabriel and Petya. "Gabriel, are you there?"

"I'm right behind you and your team. We're about to land. What is it?"

"Whatever you and the captain are going to discuss ... just ... be reasonable. He's a good and honorable man ... a husband and a father ... and we went through hell to get this far. He deserves better than to be shoved aside just so you can have a big ship ... or worse."

"I believe our goals align. It should be a productive meeting overall," Gabriel shrugged as the Gilded Throne's tires hit the runway, "He hasn't made my life nearly as difficult as you have, so I'm certain we can work something out," he added with a grin.

"Tch ..." Regrets all around ...

Haal'Sen touched down shortly after Gabriel, setting autopilot to head towards the hangar, relaxing back in her seat as the machine began to walk. "You were a bit of a headache, Juliya, but all's well that ends well, no? Now you get to work for someone trying to make Russia a better place, survive, and meet aliens. Aren't you special?" Haal'Sen messed with a strand of her hair, smiling to herself. They'd succeeded, no one was dead, and she'd told the man charming her how she felt. A wondrous day, all things considered.

"Now, Gabriel, Juliya, how do we go about removing Dima from all of this? Shall I take a day off to fly to him and take care of things myself? I wouldn't mind. He's an old man with some fools for guards, it should be little effort on my part. What do you two think? He's your family, after all... Though, I am merely curious about your opinion, Juliya. If Gabriel orders me to kill him, then he dies, with or without your say."

"Please, I was special before all of that," Juliya scoffed, only slightly joking. Not knowing if there was any hangar space for the Vaska's escorts or not, Juliya and her people began parking just off of the runway in front of some of the AMS hangars. By that point, most people had landed, and the subject was changing from the Vaska talks to ... Dima talks? Juliya watched the Vaska slowly disappear below the earth as Haal'Sen addressed her and Gabriel.

"What do you mean by 'take care of things'?" Juliya was already dubious.

"As she said," Gabriel began clarifying, "Should I give the order, she'll see to it that he dies."

"Right ... what the hell are you after my grandfather for?! If you want to kill someone, kill the pilots that turned on us, or better yet, kill Bogdan! Kill someone who's actually trying to kill us, for crying out loud!"

Not knowing or caring what the Dima talks were about, Eva kicked back with her arms behind her head and let Gabriel taxi back to the hangar.

"I'm not interested in killing the old man in cold blood, Juliya, however, I can't allow him to interfere with us. His connections in the provisional government, as well as his general authority over the Alkaev employees presents a great danger to us, otherwise, I'd leave him be. Didn't the Minister tell you that he was a long-time friend of Dima's? Are you certain he wasn't involved and using Bogdan as cover?"

"He doesn't have that kind of authority, you paranoid clown!"

"Heh," Gabriel couldn't hide his amusement at the insult, "Perhaps as a favor to Bogdan, or perhaps it's a partnership. My point is that Dima has many avenues of attack, and his plans for Russia, no matter what they are, are counter to mine. He is not on our side. That said ... Vladimir, before the meeting with Captain Petya, I'd like to have a word with you, as well." Since Shvets had caught all of that, Gabriel couldn't delay with trying to win the man over from Dima once and for all.

"... about Dima, I take it."

"That's correct. It's time to see if my suspicions have any merit."

"They dooon't," Juliya drawled angrily.

"We will remove Bogdan as well," Haal'Sen commented, surprised by Juliya's anger. "But, your grandfather is pure evil. You must understand this. Humanity, and on a much more personal scale, Russia will not prosper, so long as he has a position of power. Were he able to removed harmlessly, by all means, and yet I feel such action will be impossible. Correct me if I am wrong, but really, will Dima Alkaev go quietly into retirement? I have spoken to him once, even I feel he is a snake in humans clothing. Disgusting, truly."

Haal'Sen shook her head, nodding along with Gabriel's statement. "Shall I be present, Gabriel? Or shall I relax, and meet with our new allies? I would personally like to thank Captain Petya, if possible."

"My grandfather's cold, jaded, and a serious jerk, but he's not pure evil," Juliya glared at her monitor. It was still audio only, but she wouldn't mind letting Gabriel and Haal'Sen see just how peeved she was right now. "If THAT'S what you think then you're going to have to kill millions of people to tidy this place up, Gabriel ... but I guess it's perfectly fine for you as long as you can rationalize it."

Gabriel sighed, "You can go and meet the captain, Haal'Sen. I should be fine for now."

"As long as she doesn't decide to lock us in here," Eva quietly reminded Gabriel. The Gilded Throne had been unable to receive the lockdown command before. Now it was out in the open and operating normally. They'd have to cut them out if Juliya decided to pull a fast one like that ...

"I'm always open to ideas, Juliya," Gabriel began, "The man really won't simply retire if pressed. One thing I understand about him plainly now ... is that he's written himself into a corner. He wants a successor, but the only person he can trust with his vision is himself. I am not Dima. Firmia is not Dima. You are not Dima. So what should be done?"

"What are you getting at ...?"

"I'm asking you."

"Mrgh ..."

"A warning, Juliya. Harm Gabriel and I will kill you. I took down the Vaska's bridge with just my mind. You are no threat." Her only hand was that she could lock down the machine he was in. If he came to that, she would be first, her soldiers following soon after. "Just know that. Tread carefully... Thank you, Gabriel. I shall find my way to the Vaska." Her machine had reached the hangar by now, popping the hatch and taking the zip line down, letting autopilot find its way to its slot.

"Let's see... Wade!" There he was. He was working on the machines here now, was he? Helmet off, Haal'Sen zipped her pilot suit down as well, letting herself breathe. She could take the rest off later, and she was still dressed underneath. "Where can I find the elevators leading to the Vaska's dock?"

"Where do you get off-"

"Did you not just do something similar for Captain Petya?" Gabriel noted, "You want the best for him ... she wants the best for me."

"Tch ..."

"Everyone has their own way ... but about my question, Juliya? What should be done about a man like Dima?"

Juliya sighed. "Not right now. If you're not going after him right this minute, then it doesn't matter. Promise me you'll talk to me and listen to what I have to say before you fly off and murder half the people at Kalten just to get to one old man."

"... fair enough," Gabriel agreed.

"Heh, funny how one old guy has you and your alien friend so worried," she got in a light jab, which helped her to calm down.

...

Wade was poking at the one access panel he could still use on a Throne that was fully locked down. The techs had told him there was no way to crack it. They needed not just the code, but the biometric data of one of the Alkaevs. Sending it remotely wouldn't work, unfortunately. Still, Wade wanted to give cracking it a few tries ... though a few turned into twentysomething before too long ... That was when Haal'Sen showed up, asking about the Vaska ... or rather, how to get to it from here. Why did their flight suits have to be so form-fitting anyway?

"The Vaska already landed? I heard the noise, but I thought it'd be a few m--faster than she looks. Right ... so from what I heard, there's a few access points around the base. Kind of a long walk either way since that drydock's outside the main perimeter ..." Wade looked around for any other mechanics that looked like they might know the quickest route, and he was hoping Haal'Sen wouldn't need some kind of passcode or the like to get down there.

"Would it be faster to get back in my machine and fly over to the drydock's opening? And stop thinking about my thighs," she chided, scowling just a bit. "You and Lou both. You'd think you'd never seen a woman before... I appreciate it, in a way, but I only have eyes for Gabriel. My apologies if that is disheartening, but there will be other fish in your sea. Perhaps Raay'Xel will take a liking to you." She wished to stamp this out, before he continued to gawk at her. She didn't know why the suits were so form fitting either!

"Whoa whoa whoa, sorry," Wade held out his hands defensively. This mindreading thing was the most unfair thing he'd ever encountered. Even sunglasses wouldn't do someone any good in this situation. "I'm not ... eh, never mind. It probably would be faster to just fly in that way before the doors close ... not sure if they're actually gonna close, though. I hope not ... I haven't seen any other exits large enough for mobile suits ..."

"Alright. Thank you, Wade." Haal'Sen gave him a small salute before heading towards her Praxis again. Luckily, the cockpit had remained open, taking the zipline back up without issue. Engines on, she sped out of the hangar towards the dry dock. Hopefully she would make it before the doors closed.

"No problem ..." Wade waved goodbye and then turned back toward the stubborn interface. "... come on, there's got to be a way to bypass this thing ..."

...

"And we're secured, sir," the Vaska's co-helmsman glanced back toward the captain, "All docking clamps and support struts are attached."

"Amazing," Petya took in the view. It felt like they were in the hangar of another ship, somehow. "They must have begun construction on this dock before the war. Years, possibly."

"Almost certainly, sir," the helmsman agreed.

"This is Statlas Control, the Vaska reads as secured. Please standby while the drydock shutters close."

"Hold them, Statlas Control," Petya insisted, "There are some details to work out before we know whether or not the Vaska will be staying."

"... ... I see. Holding."

'Captain,' Haal'Sen chimed into his mind, as her Praxis began its descent into the drydock, landing in front of the ship, 'I wish to speak with you, if possible. In person, as well.' Hopefully he would be fine with that, as she began to open her cockpit and descend, again.

"Hm?" Haal'Sen, again? Petya glanced around the bridge momentarily, but then caught sight of the Praxis just outside. "I sup--" ... could he just think back, maybe? He didn't want to look like he was talking to himself.

"It's one of Statlas' customs, sir ..."

"Right ... ... in person, you said ..."

'Yes. In person. I've already disembarked my machine. I'll wait for you to get down, or I can come up... I'm simply unaware of how comfortable your crew will be with an alien on board, so choose as you wish.' Hopefully it wouldn't take much to get to speak with him.

Petya stood up from his chair. "Mind the ship. I will return shortly ... after saying some hellos and finding a place for all of these ... prisoners." They were former comrades, but thanks to Bogdan, they couldn't be trusted anymore ...

...

Once he was off the bridge, Petya began speaking to Haal'Sen normally, as if on the radio, and he let anyone he came across assume as much. "I believe there is a service elevator that can bring you to the bridge. I saw a retracted walkway as we were landing." He was on his way there, in fact. "Now that the Vaska is docked, that walkway should be accessible. If I get there first, I can take the elevator down to find you."

A service elevator... That must've been what that long tube was for. How interesting. 'I shall wait for you there, then. I do not wish to alarm your crew, who are already tired, with my presence. Brace yourself, I suppose. Only Gabriel had been able to react without immense surprise, thus far.' Making her way over, Haal'Sen finagled herself out of the rest of her pilot suit-- the topic half, at least. Tying the sleeves of it around her waist, the t-shirt wasn't a very professional look, but she was definitely appreciating letting her body breathe like this. pilot suits were always so constricting.

Immense surprise? Petya could only hope he wasn't about to encounter a face only a mother could love. He was generally optimistic, though, and Haal'Sen's warning only got him wondering, not bracing for the worst. "Hmm, this will be my first encounter with an alien. Interesting ..."

Petya left the command deck and started out over the walkway. He shouldn't have been surprised, but some people from Statlas were already there waiting for him. He supposed they would just have to tag along. Some of his own men weren't far behind him, though ... "I plan to speak with Gabriel Katz. My officers can handle any questions you have."

"We were actually here to answer any of your questions, Captain ... though we do need to assess what condition the Vaska is currently in."

"Leave that to them," Petya said, stepping past them and continuing along the walkway toward the elevator. It was a long way down, but he could make it to Haal'Sen in another minute or so.

'It is the first encounter for all of your race, as it seems. Truly, does Earth not receive much traffic? Impressive... Perhaps because it is the only planet with life in this part of your system, you are relatively safe from curious passers by.' It was certainly impressive that, in an entire solar system, only Earth held life. Making it to the bottom of the elevator, she waited, arms folded, trying to deal with her... What had some of Gabriel's crew thought of it? 'Resting bitch face'? Whatever it meant, it apparently meant she was intimidating.

Once Petya made it to the elevator, he waited out the ride down. It was the longest he'd spent in an elevator that he could remember, and it was no surprise, since it ran more than the length of the Vaska's lifts, this drydock being significantly taller than the ship that housed it. The captain watched as his ship seemed to move higher and higher above him, until he was so far beneath it that even a mobile suit couldn't reach up and touch anything but the lowest hanging parts of the hull. It gave him a little too much time to think about what he was in for once he reached the ground floor ...

When the elevator doors finally opened, after that surprisingly long ride down, Petya stepped out and found himself face to face with someone who clearly hadn't been born on Earth, or anywhere in the stellar neighborhood ... "Hm? Волчица?" The first thing that came to Petya's mind was a she-wolf ... or werewolf. Some of the oldest depictions of those creatures seemed fairly close. Only the patterns of Haal'Sen's fur seemed to be off. Of course, those very same patterns reminded him of a black and white cat. "Hmm ... Captain Vladimir Petya. I should thank you for your help in retaking the Vaska. You said your name was Haal'Sen?"

Haal'Sen tilted her head, taking a moment. "Волчица?" she repeated. "She-wolf? No, Captain. I am a Sacarian. Indeed, Haal'Sen... I wished to speak with you mostly to reward your bravery with praise." She placed her hand over her heart and bowed to him, before leaning back up and offering him a hand to shake.

"It takes a lot of courage to do what you have done today, and at the loss it came with. Still, you managed, survived, took advantage of situations presented to you... You are an impressive leader, and a Captain that any soldier would be proud of. I think you for, at least, having enough trust in Gabriel to come here. Whether it results in what we wish remains to be seem, but considering what I have seen of your race so far..." Her brow furrowed slightly. "Bogdan shall be dealt with."

A Sacarian. What the word ultimately meant, Petya didn't know, but it was as good a name for an alien race as any, and probably less insulting than anything he could come up with on the fly. Petya smiled mildly, accepting Haal'Sen's handshake. She seemed to appreciate his actions, though by Russian standards they were controversial at best, even in a situation as unique as this one.

"Some would view me and the officers still loyal to me as traitors. What Minister Bogdan did was not wrong in principle, but the results were disastrous for the Vaska and for Russian morale. If he and Gabriel cannot come to some sort of agreement, I will not get in your way. We wasted enough time fighting each other, and Gabriel has shown he can end things quickly."

"Bogdan should have trusted your decision making. We wished to talk, nothing else... That it became a fight was regrettable. I do not know much of your human politics, but it is as I said before, Captain. Sacarians treasure trust above all else. That you seem like a man I can trust helps me appreciate your race that much more." His assessment of Gabriel was nice to hear, as well. Hopefully it would mean good things, during a discussion.

"I did not come here to escort you, but if you wish to accompany me, and ask any questions you may have, I would be glad to have you along, and answer them. Gabriel wished for a meeting with us all present."

"I do have many questions," Petya admitted, "Possibly too many ..." Fortunately, at a comfortable walking pace, Haal'Sen could probably get to a good portion of them before they arrived at their next destination.

"I take it you shall accompany me, then? The tunnels here lead back to the main hangar. There should be a lift up, and I can contact Gabriel once we arrive." Haal'Sen prodded the buttons on her wrist's communicator, her suit closing up again and taking off once more. "Let us be off then, Captain. Feel free to ask me anything you wish." Turning towards a service tunnel pointing in the direction of the main hangar, Haal'Sen began to walk at a pace she figured a human could keep up with.

"Earlier, you explained that Gabriel defeated two of you and now he is your king. It seems strange that it would work this way, but I suppose we should all be thankful for it. Still, I can only imagine what the rest of your people would think." Worming its way to the top of the pile of questions Petya had was what the life of a Sacarian was like. It seemed so odd that not just one but two of them could wind up working for the opposition 'honorably' like this. Or maybe it wasn't honorable? Petya didn't know, just yet.

"Ah, yes... Gabriel and his group entered quite a lucky situation, for themselves. Myself and Raay'Xel were out on patrol, with another small group of Sacarians, none of us a commanding rank. A scouting group. Gabriel's men intercepted us with an ambush, using unmanned craft to get around our senses, and defeat the lead unit." Haal'Sen paused to smile, it was still frustrating, but far too smart.

"When the lead unit is destroyed in a squadron, if no one else is there to assume command, all Pawns, our rank, assume individual actions. One left for reinforcements, three of us stayed to fight. With some clever piloting and tech unknown to us, Gabriel managed to outwit us long enough for his men to arrive. Having spent our efforts dogging him already, we were easily shot down by the reinforcements." Lucky, but victory was victory.

"As he let us live, our lives were his to do with as he pleased. As I am now working under him, he chose to keep us as soldiers. A Sacarian's life ends in glorious combat... Survivors do not get a say in what happens to them. Gabriel was lucky because of the group he ran into. Were we higher ranked; were there a Rook, or Bishop among us, he would have died. It's very amusing."

"I see," Petya nodded, "Many things come down to luck on the battlefield. Many of our own encounters ended similarly, though we were unable to acquire any of Apotheosis' technology. Our engineers were able to come up with some experimental weapons, but I would say we have been relying mostly on luck and extensive ammunition stores up to this point."

"Yes, to defeat Apotheosis' presence entirely here in Russia will take a united effort. One that cannot happen with the current political situation. Too many vying for power and station after my mother's destruction of your Kremlin. All of that can be decided once the threat has passed, yet here we are... Gabriel wishes to see Russia strong once again. Strong enough to weather the coming storm. The Kremlin was first... The Vaska will be next." She frowned, this would need to be discussed during the meeting.

"Apotheosis has very likely been keeping serious tabs on the Vaska. Now that it has been attacked and weakened, there is a high chance they will come for it, here at Statlas. We shall defeat them, of course, but it will certainly be dangerous. If they were to send s Knight..." Haal'Sen gulped at the thought, she was confident, but such a power would be... The hardest fight of her life.

"Your mother?" Petya wasn't the least bit surprised that older Sacarians also fought, though the odds of running into the daughter of the Kremlin's nemesis seemed fairly low. That was assuming some things, but it wasn't especially important. What was important were the reports that came out at the time. It had been a total disaster. They hadn't been able to put up much of a fight in the west ... "The Kremlin ... that was when life truly became hard for us ... and you are right, the mutiny we just put down made the Vaska vulnerable. Even with Statlas' help, our chances of surviving a large attack are small. Minister Bogdan has hurt Russia more than he knows ..."

"Yes, the Queen. I am no one special, our race does not use lineage to determine status. She is still my mother, though." Haal'Sen spoke as if this half of the Sacarians' leadership was some distant figure, not a caring parental figure. "He has, but do not worry yet. We shall keep the Vaska safe, even if it kills us. So long as Gabriel wishes it, his will shall be done." Haal'Sen smiled, truly it was wonderful that things were working towards his design so far.

"I am only worried about the possibility of a Knight leading the Sacarian attack on Statlas... Otherwise, we shall be fine."

She was the daughter of the Queen, and at the same time no one special? If that wasn't the most vicious meritocracy in existence, it was fairly close. In part, Petya was thankful for it, since the actions of Haal'Sen's mother had no bearing on her or vice versa. The situation did have the captain wondering about his own family, though. His wife and daughter had been in town when the Kremlin was hit. He hadn't heard from them since, but he was hopeful. Much of his crew hadn't heard from their loved ones in some time, either, and most of them weren't at Ground Zero ...

"Pawns ... Rooks ... bishops ... knights ..." It was sounding like a regular chessboard ... well, not a regular chessboard, exactly. Team Russia was down half their pieces and occasionally skipped a turn. "It seems regardless of how the meeting turns out, the Vaska will need to remain here for the time being. We have allies in the region, but I am ... hesitant to bring them here. They would have to travel by land, and many of them are probably in Minister Bogdan's camp." It was more trouble than it was worth, even if they could use the extra firepower.

"Hmm. I must ask, Captain Petya, what are your thoughts on removing Russia's corruption? By that I mean, killing it outright?" Haal'Sen glanced at him, trying to read his face before his mind. "We had plans to deal with Dima Alkaev as well, though Juliya was hesitant on killing him being the best idea... Do you think killing Bogdan would be a worthwhile endeavor? I will make the question more clear, if it could be done by simply killing just him, not the people protecting him, not starting a bloodbath... Would it be worth it?"

And maybe to help his worries... "Your family should be fine, by the way. Once she was finished with the Kremlin, after a small altercation with an EU ship in the area, she warped out without further damaging Moscow. I assume communication lines are simply overwhelmed at the moment."

"Hmm," the captain's brows came a bit closer together as he considered Haal'Sen's explanation. On the face of it, the question of removing Russia's corruption was ludicrous, a nonstarter. The slain would be made into martyrs and their successors, younger and lacking experience and wisdom, might be even worse, if easier to snuff out. As far as Petya could tell, there was no removing the corruption from the government without a bloodbath.

Before he'd articulated an answer, Haal'Sen weighed in on his family ... apparently, she really could read minds. It might not hurt to ask for a bit of privacy in that regard since he didn't have much to say about it. Petya was grateful for the more optimistic assessment nonetheless. "The Vaska can only accept communications from other military units and those working directly for the provisional government. We are still completely bogged down ..." Having the Vaska parked underground wasn't helping matters for the armed forces elsewhere, but if all went well with Gabriel in this meeting, they could return to the fray stronger than ever and start taking their country back.

"As for Minister Bogdan and Dima Alkaev," Petya placed a hand on his chin as they walked, "... it depends on the situation. If Gabriel is not going to help establish a democratic government to replace the previous, then his supporters will be a very small minority. It would be even worse if we were not at war ... the people are more accepting of dictators in desperate times. To try and answer your question ... killing either of those two would rally their supporters. If Gabriel is not judicious with his power, he will be sitting on a throne of bones ..."

"I see... You humans do love your democracy, don't you?" Haal'Sen almost scoffed, but Petya was a man who deserved her respect. "In Sacarian society, your successes determine your sitting in ruling. The King and Queen are the two strongest male and female Sacarians among the race, in strength, intelligence, wisdom, and leadership. This, dictatorship you speak of, is likely what we run. I cannot see fault with it, so long as the one in power is deserving of such a position... Perhaps there is an issue with that, something to do with your history, so what Gabriel is planning may or may not come to pass."

Haal'Sen would follow him, either way. "Not to worry, though... While he wishes his position, and while I've no issue killing under his orders, I will not run amuck without his say. Considering the state of the Vaska, I can assure you that Gabriel wishes for less bloodshed, over more."

"I see... You humans do love your democracy, don't you?" Haal'Sen almost scoffed, but Petya was a man who deserved her respect. "In Sacarian society, your successes determine your sitting in ruling. The King and Queen are the two strongest male and female Sacarians among the race, in strength, intelligence, wisdom, and leadership. This, dictatorship you speak of, is likely what we run. I cannot see fault with it, so long as the one in power is deserving of such a position... Perhaps there is an issue with that, something to do with your history, so what Gabriel is planning may or may not come to pass."

Haal'Sen would follow him, either way. "Not to worry, though... While he wishes his position, and while I've no issue killing under his orders, I will not run amok without his say. Considering the state of the Vaska, I can assure you that Gabriel wishes for less bloodshed, over more."

"Yes," Petya nodded, "he is clearly willing to take a less violent approach when he can. There probably is no way to resolve the situation with the provisional government peacefully. They will not accept you and your fellow Sacarian unless you take your orders directly from them, just like the Vaska. They will also not allow any new czars to rule over them," Petya smiled apologetically. The man had to admit, the strongest and smartest ruling was definitely less of a pain on paper. The problem with humans trying it was that poison and other tools of assassination have always existed and would continue to do so ...

On a lighter note, Gabriel was in a position to win over the hearts of the people. They wouldn't be in favor of a king in peacetime, but the Russian military was so whittled down at this point that they wouldn't have secure borders again for at least another decade. It obviously wasn't the Sacarian method of doing things, but it was one way to ease into power that wouldn't see any serious revolts. Petya wasn't sure how he felt about a dictatorship, but he couldn't dismiss the idea outright, any longer, not with a race of mindreading invaders bent on taking control of the planet ... and who knew what else was out there in the vastness of space?

"Hmm, I may as well ask. Haal'Sen, what other lifeforms have the Sacarians found?" Hopefully, they weren't all just wiped out along the way ... not unless they were as hellbent on snatching up planetary real estate as the Sacarians seemed to be ...

"I have an idea that I will present to both you and Gabriel once we are in the meeting, as a means to gain the support of the people. If the country supports him, whatever government is left will have little way of stopping this." She smiled, it was an idea that she hadn't considered possible before, but with the overwhelming rush that T-Link had provided her... It had opened up a previously unavailable door, one she wished to at least provide as an option.

"Other lifeforms? I suppose you mean... Yes, other races, among the star. Around fifty, if my information is still correct... Some were wiped out in conflict, some rolled into our work force, some held captive for experimentation or other utilities. I do not know what Trel'Vaar or Kal'Sheen's plans for you all are, but if we lose, you shall find out soon enough. Considering your general physical durability, I expect labor and procreation testing were high on the list."

Petya flinched. Procreation testing? The labor part made sense, at least. If there were enough Sacarians to take the planet outright, Petya figured they would have tried that. As for the other races that had already lost to the Sacarians, none of them seemed better off for it, so that was motivation to fight harder, if nothing else. "To my knowledge, the provisional government is completely focused on Apotheosis and the EU. The word will spread quickly now, but they are not aware of the Sacarians ... and by the time they are, we will not have enough strength left to fight back ..."

He didn't know if Haal'Sen's intention was to convince him to work with Gabriel ahead of the actual meeting, but Petya really didn't see any other way to win at this point. The Vaska had put up a strong resistance, but as the rest of Russia's forces were whittled down, it was only a matter of time until a committed assault came down on them, or they had to rally their forces and fully commit to an alliance with the EU.

"That is a part of my plan. I suppose it would not hurt to explain to you on the way there, so you have a leg up to think, during the meeting..." Haal'Sen pondered a moment, another question coming to mind. "Has Russia ever considered partnering with the ANF? From what I understand, they're actually succeeding in pushing the Apotheosis forces there back. Their Heion Riese sounds like quite the impressive ship, with an even more impressive force aboard." Small praise where it was due, she continued, having thought through her idea enough to share it.

"There is a Knight stationed on the edge of Russia. With my mother's duty finished in your Kremlin's destruction, she has assigned Cancer, Shia'Naar, as the overseer for this region. I did not think this possible before, but having interacted with your human's creation, the T-Link, I feel that between Raay'Xel and myself, there is a worthwhile chance we can defeat her. With the Vaska, Gabriel, the two of us, and the machines both the Vaska and Statlas can provide... You can see where I am going with this, yes?"

Haal'Sen chuckled, it was quite genius, in her mine. "We can wipe Apotheosis' presence from Russia. They are too concerned with the EU to contribute further forces to Russia. What is here, those who work for Shia'Naar, are all the remains. If Gabriel can save Russia, if we can all, save Russia... Who else will the people turn to? The provisional government is still arguing over who's in power. We can make real change."

While it was true that the ANF was doing far better than the EU--really there was no comparison to be made at this point, the fact remained that the EU was Russia's closest neighbor. Russia had a long history of wartime readiness with regard to Europe in particular, and that desire was deep-rooted. Even with the EU in danger of being completely destroyed, their proximity had most Russians preferring an alliance with them. Petya preferred independence, but the decision wasn't his to make. All he could do was make the argument as best he could with the Vaska's naval guns.

As for Haal'Sen's plan to take down a Sacarian knight, supposedly the one in charge of this historic thrashing Russia was experiencing, Petya liked the idea on principle, but the details made things even better. "It would be nice to be on offense, again," he grinned, "It would be a strong case for the people, though you would need to broadcast the battle. Word of mouth and rumors will not be enough. Gabriel will also need to participate in the battle for it to have a strong impact."

"I told you, did I not?" she smirked in response. "Gabriel managed to fight the both of us at the same time, to a stand still, without any information on what he was fighting. Keeping up with galactic killers and funnels, all the while managing to damage us, and even taking out a third that was fighting alongside us. Gabriel is not just a figure head. He is a powerful pilot, a strong fighter. He will not sit idly by while we win victory in his name, no, he will fight with us, even to the death. Truly, I do admire him..." So they could blush, Haal'Sen not noticing the slight reddening brushing through the thinner fur on her face.

"Broadcasting shall not be a problem, I find. I could likely hack into a preferred streaming network, given direction. The most difficult part of this shall be preparation, really... While Raay'Xel and I are now equipped, and we have time to test these T-Links with our powers... The rest of you, I worry will not perform. The Vaska I exclude, railguns are definitely your best chance at defeating Sacarians. Beams are useless, and regular ballistics shall find trouble piercing their armor. Railguns will fly right through an i-Field, and blast apart even the toughest Praxis model. Even a knight's would suffer severe internal damage, hmhmhm." Thinking about how best to kill Shia'Naar was bringing a large grin to Haal'Sen's face, fangs readily showing, eyes staring off in contemplation.

"You have access to our technology now, and Statlas can likely reverse engineer some of what makes our machines run. I can only hope that your best pilots can keep up. What do you think, Captain? Mrrrr... As an aside... My apologies if my opinion of your race as fighters is not exactly stellar. Aside from Gabriel, none of his men were able to hold a candle to either myself or Raay'Xel in combat. It was quite worrying..."

"That seems like more than mere admiration to me, Haal'Sen," Petya noted. His own wife gave him looks like that when they were still only dating. "You are right. Gabriel would not have made it this far if he was anything less. Hopefully 'kingship' is not too much for him ..."

On the subject of railguns, Petya actually had something new to offer. "My people have been looking for ways to build more railguns for the Vaska and our mobile suits, but most of our material is reserved for repairs. Hopefully, Statlas can take care of it." Hopefully whatever Sacarian technology was available could also go to use, before they had to deal with this Sacarian knight.

"Errgh... It... It is, yes. If it is that obvious at a glance, then I shall be forthright with it. The more I see of your people, politics, snakes and mistrust... The more Gabriel stands out as an amazing person. It is frustrating to fall for an inferior race, but lying is not something we do." Hopefully she would not receive too many jeers, from the humans here, and Raay'Xel.

"Statlas has the remains of several Praxis models that were too badly damaged to directly repair. We should be able to take your best suits, and best weaponry, and use those materials to improve them, alongside the Vaska. As well... We shall likely have new materials to contend with, soon." This she would save for the meeting, but with the Vaska damaged, and lacking staff, Apotheosis would move. Their forces were likely already on the way. Gabriel and Statlas had perhaps a few more hours at best to prepare, and she would make them all aware of that.

Petya supposed the two races looked close enough physiologically, though Haal'Sen said nothing of Gabriel's appearance. He may have just fit her ideal personality close enough that his appearance was secondary, or even unimportant. "Yes, it is better to be honest about such things. Generally ... and I suppose we will learn how best Gabriel's people and mine can come together. Even with the meeting ahead of us ... I cannot see another way of dealing with Bogdan's move. Another question, but this one is about your suggestion. What will the other Sacarians do once this knight is gone? How long would we have to shore up our defenses, and how much harder will they hit us the next time?"

"I have been... I'm just waiting for his, answer." She was still hoping it was a good one. "What will they do? That depends on the conquest of the EU. If they succeed, without much loss, they will turn on Russia next. That will still take time. Maybe months. If it does come to that, we will have time to prepare. They will do nothing immediately, though. In their eyes, Russia is crippled, and the EU is a much more important target to finish. Basically..." A confident scoff, an even more confident chuckle. "If we succeed, we have all the time in the world to build Russia back up into a fighting force that the Sacarians cannot contend with. This is the perfect plan."

"I see," Petya said, trying to ponder just how much a committed workforce could accomplish in just a few months. The changes to the Vaska had been tremendous. It was practically another ship entirely. If they some months, that wasn't just time to replace entire garrisons of mobile suits, it was time enough to train new pilots. "It very well may be, yes ..."

"I am sure Gabriel will rein in my ego if there are issues. Though thank you for your vote of confidence, captain." It had better work. What they faced if it didn't was something even she was terrified of.

...

Edited by Balcerzak

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Tarquin attacks Deimos 4 with his Full output rail gun then hit and aways to 12,9!

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"R-requesting permission to operate repairs on the outer shell!"

Caroline to (6,6), repairs the Deliverance.

Repair action:
86 Hp healed.
Caroline gains +50 EXP!

 

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"Thanks, I needed that. Now..."

Carlos lands his machine.

"Best to clean up some small fry."

Carlos moves to (11,9), opens fire at Cressida #10

Carlos attacks!
Target: Cressida #10
Weapon: Dual Arms Cannon
Final Hit: 91
Final Crit: 26
Roll: 9, 3
Hit!
Crit!
Damage: 129!

Cressida #10 counters!
Weapon: LB Beam Rifle
Final Hit: 61
Final Crit: 0
Roll: 67, 30
Miss!

Carlos gains +5 EXP, +5 Will!

 

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