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

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Hannah switches to MS Mode and fires at the Chaldene! (mobile format, apologies)


Hannah attacks!

Target: Chaldene #2; Weapon: Dual Beam Sabers

Final Hit: 100; Final Crit: 24

Roll: 27, 27; Hit! No Crit.

Damage: 93

 

Chaldene counters!

Weapon: Missile Barrage

Final Hit: 0!; Final Crit: 6

Roll: 100, 61; Miss!

Hannah gains +5 EXP!


The missiles could not keep up with the Reign's maneuvers!

...

"Thorvald, you're still in command there, you know what to do. I'm relaying what our predictive algorithms could process." Roxanna was trying to get something done, even if the 'processing power' alluded to were her personal devices --there wasn't much of a bridge left to help. It was kind of uncomfortable in the makeshift operations desk she's made out of an infirmary bench, and Megumi would perhaps question Roxanna's decisions to keep it there, but since those were desperate times...

Roxanna casts Attune![-25SP]

 

Edited by Xinnidy

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It looked like the Avalon crew's focus was getting divided, which left Brant a little hesitant to focus on the Chaldene. He wouldn't say they were no threat, but the final Sacarian Knight they had to deal with certainly warranted the whole team's full attention.

As if sensing that rationale about to be put into action, Firmia sent what was more or less an attack order. The second Chaldene was marked on their IFF as the Regalia's primary target, while the Sacarian Knight's signature remained unchanged.

"Alright, fair enough," Brant conceded, his hyper beam rifle already primed to fire. "Let's hurry and take this thing down so we can deal with the main problem.

Brant attacks Chaldene #2 with Full Burst!

EndWar (Prospective: Chapter 1)

Traditional methods of warfare seemed to have gone out the window when it came to fighting the Sacarians. The looming threat of another attack on Statlas Facility had Gabriel and others floating the idea of launching smaller raids on known enemy positions in the hopes of keeping them on the defensive while the main attack force was prepared. The strategy didn't even make it past the conceptual phase, as issues with both high speed attacks and warping technology all but eliminated the potential benefits, and threatened to prematurely kick off the final battle. The anxiety ran high for the first few days, but in the end they had little choice but to focus on their own preparations, and trust that Shia'Naar wouldn't take any further interest in them until it was too late.

Even with Shia'Naar ignoring them for the most part, the situation wasn't completely going in their favor. Within the first two days of their preparations, the situation at Kalten Facility went nuclear. Despite Ziva's efforts to covertly stall the inevitable until after the battle with the Sacarian Knight, elements in Rosa's faction finally broke the unstable peace with the Dima loyalists. It happened as Provisional Government forces descended on the facility to acquire weapons and personnel for the war effort. A bloody battle ensued, with Rosa's faction sabotaging Kalten's defense network, hijacking several transport planes, and destroying every AMS unit that wasn't already in their possession at the start of the battle, both those with and without pilots. With Magnolia Curtis, Clara Kozel, and other veteran Alkaev pilots backing her up, Rosa was able to hold off both Dima's pilots and the Provisional Government Forces while the transport planes escaped. Unfortunately, before Gabriel could even think to intervene, history repeated itself, and just like at Voronin Facility, the main reactors were sabotaged. While most of the Dima loyalists were wiped out with Kalten, the man himself was whisked to safety in the chaos.

It was a real mess ...

Embittered by her own losses, and not willing to lose anyone else in the fighting, Rosa declined Gabriel's offer to remain at Statlas. Instead, the group's stay was incredibly brief, and only data and fuel were exchanged before they took off again, heading south, away from the worst of the fighting. With his own battle preparations to deal with, all Gabriel could do was wish her and her people the best, and focus back on the liberation and unification of Russia.

For Statlas, the top priorities were getting the Vaska up to snuff and finishing the three new Praxis models, the Delta, Rho, and Sigma. There wasn't a soul on the base that wasn't bogged down in busywork or training during early preparations. While Captain Petya retrained his remaining crew to utilize newer and more relevant anti-MS tactics in battle, Nemesis Squadron and the other pilots attached to the Vaska trained in simulated battles, nearly all day, every single day. Veteran pilots from the Vaska were also able to acquire the new Dominion Alkaev Mobile Suits, and they trained to use them in the simulators as well as conducting live exercises over Statlas. Eva continued her training, both in piloting the Gilded Throne and in the use of TK weaponry. Her progress wasn't as startling as the career pilots involved in the operation, but within a few days, in addition to steady gains made in her piloting skills, she also attained some much needed tactical thinking. Gabriel also had to familiarize himself with the Archangel's numerous battlefield sleights, which had him spending much of his spare time in simulated environments as well.

Despite reservations, not just from Lo but also from Gabriel, the final attack on the Sacarian Knight Shia'Naar would include the transport plane, Gambit. Having a heavy transport tagging along eliminated the need for the Vaska to ferry any more machines to the battle than necessary, acting as one of two jumping off points and allowing for a more effective two pronged strategy. The plane couldn't be left as it was, however. The Vaska crew decided to donate one of its spare railcannons to Gabriel's people, who, with the help of the Statlas and Vaska's engineers, attached it to a large gimbal on rails inside the Gambit's cargo area. Now, when the starboard side doors opened, the cannon could be deployed from the plane and fired, either by remote control, or by an accompanying mobile suit. For the upcoming attack, Ziva would be manning the gun from the Volkov Werewolf.

News from around the world, about the defeat of the Sacarian King and the capture of Apotheosis' base was certainly good news, but the Federation's victory did nothing noteworthy to change the situation in Eastern Europe. They still had to defeat the knight holding down the region and retake the country. Equally important, they had to make certain that Gabriel was the one to deal the final blow. Politics was the last thing anyone wanted to involve themselves with in this war, but unifying the country under a relative outsider was going to be an uphill battle at best. They needed every advantage they could get, and good optics were crucial in gaining support.

The Vaska's upgrades were completed on schedule, though much of those upgrades involved integrating the new mobile suits, improving communications, and introducing enough automation to get by with roughly half of the original crew compliment. The ship's weapons were also upgraded, and the bridge was significantly reinforced and up armored in preparation for the upcoming battle and any others that might come soon afterward. Overall, the improvements to the comm systems were likely the most important. Captain Petya needed to be able to quickly adapt to changing conditions in the fighting, and being able to maneuver not just his ship, but also his MS teams effectively was the only way to meet that need. The new system had a much faster datalink for the ship's units, which would allow the Vaska to help them obtain firing solutions in battle, as well as vice versa. The 'shared' processing power would go a long way toward making them strong enough to push back against the Sacarians, and later on, whatever forces the Provisional Government could muster against them.

Once the three new Praxis models were completed, many minds were put at ease. Now they were certain an early attack wouldn't be as crippling as the previous engagement with five Sacarians in five powerful mobile suits defending the base. Preparations for the battle were far less tense from that point onward. The good news seemed to keep coming in, as Vasile was also able to successfully reproduce the Regulus Drives, as well as several propulsion systems based on the technology. Although the Alkaev variants of the original drives were of lesser quality, they exceeded Ziva's optimistic 'half as good' low ball estimate. They managed somewhere in the 60% range for power and throughput compared to the originals. These new drives were slated for use on the Dominions, but weren't backward compatible with any of the other units; they needed Sacarian engineers to figure that part out ... but Vasile's people were still able to augment the thruster systems of existing AMS units to keep them relevant. The machines of Nemesis Squadron, the Gilded Throne, the remaining AMS units of the Vaska, and the MK.II drone fliers all benefited from the upgrades Vasile's team derived from those drives. For the sake of the pilots that wouldn't be on the front lines, their suits' limiters kept expected performance to pre-upgrade levels. All front-line pilots had to get used to the improved speed and maneuverability, particularly in MS mode ... so it was right back into the simulators with the predicted stats as soon as word reached them.

Exactly eleven days after the death of the Sacarian King and the defeat of Apotheosis, Gabriel's Strike Force assembled at Statlas, preparing for the final assault. The two pronged attack would consist of Apollo Company and Artemis Company. The Vaska, her MS teams, Nemesis Squadron, Raay'Xel in her Praxis Zeta, Viil'Hayn in his Praxis Delta, and Eva in the Gilded Throne comprised Apollo Company. The Gambit, Gabriel in the Archangel, Haal'Sen in her Praxis Psi, Diiar'Xen in his Praxis Rho, Sool'Vay in her Praxis Sigma, Jack in the Jack II, Ziva in the Volkov Werewolf, and forty-some drone fliers comprised Artemis Company. Initially, Apollo Company would attack Shia'Naar's base from over the horizon, laying down as much fire as they could to cover the approach of the Zeta, Nemesis Squadron, and the front line AMS units. Precision long range fire would only begin once both sides had fully committed to the fight. With Apollo drawing as much attention as possible, Artemis Company would flank with railgun and artillery fire. Finally, once both companies had converged on the base, Gabriel and the Sacarians would focus entirely on Shia'Naar. That was the plan, at least ...

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The small amount of on-field repairs were short lived. What was almost a moment of relief had been extinguished, a rush came at him from the Gammas. One hit him, a knick, but it threw him off... He couldn't take much more than this. A second came, but he was able to make do and avoid it.

The Chaldene charged up it's cannon. Thankfully, in the nick of time, Tycho avoided that too. His blood was pumping. Fear? Anger?  Maybe a mix of both... and everything else.

He armed himself with the Graviton Launcher. This mess of a machine, barely holding itself up anymore. He wasn't a runner. He focused his view, ignoring the feeling of sweat and blood running on his skin. 

"Begone."

Tycho casts Gain! Shoots Chaldene 2 with his Graviton Launcher!

Edited by Silver Gallade

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Brant swoops in, full burst ready!

Brant attacks!
Target: Chaldene #2
Weapon: Hyper Beam Rifle (Full Burst)
Final Hit: 100
Final Crit: 33
Roll: 15, 95
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 150

Chaldene #2 counters!
Weapon: Mega Particle Cannon
Final Hit: 0
Final Crit: 7
Roll: 100, 11
Miss!

Brant gains +10 EXP!

Tycho casts Gain![-15SP]

The whirr of the Graviton Launcher begins anew!

Tycho attacks!
Target: Chaldene #2
Weapon: Graviton Launcher
(Lucky Roll: 71; Lucky++)
Final Hit: 100
Final Crit: 33
Roll: 84, 100
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 170

Chaldene #2 begins to lose altitude...

Tycho gains +200 EXP, +6500 credits, +20 PP!

That's one less battleship... Apotheosis' forces are approaching a clear defeat!

Edited by Xinnidy

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"Oh! Roxann-- I, mean XO! Check this out!" Tube Jess' eyes began to glow a vibrant yellow, as the Riese suddenly lurched forward. "I figured out how to interface! You're not getting away, bad guy!"

Jess casts Strike, activates Digital Interface, moves to 20,6 uses Dual Beam Cannon vs Phobos #1!

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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"Avalon, do you read me? Most of us out on the field are getting dangerously close to empty, if not already there. I saw your last shot had good effect on target, so I'll try to take his attention back, hold it as long as I can if you can line up another one, biggest guns you've got this time. It's really looking like just one more good push might end this. If there's anything else you need from me to make it happen, just say the word and I'll do my best."

Thorvald casts Bless on Firmia

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Thorvald casts Bless![-35SP] (Target: Firmia)

 

"Ah?" To say the least, that was a weird callout. More than that, however, it was Jess being back to... a more positive self, supposedly. "That's... great. Being able to interace with the Riese from where you are is the only thing keeping us flying without a bridge, Jess. Keep going."

It'd be the only thing keeping them flying after any repairs, too, with what happened to most of the personnel there...


Jessica casts Strike![-20SP]

The Riese attacks!
Target: Phobos #1
Weapon: Dual Beam Cannon
Final Hit: 100!
Final Crit: 26
Roll: 93, 73
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 178

Not a chance to surrender!

Jessica gains +100 EXP, +5500 credits, +12 PP!

And that leaves a 'no survivors' message clear to Apotheosis!


"A-another ship down! at this rate, even that alien... it should be down already, geez..."

Carol casts Cheer![-20SP] (Target: Firmia)

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"Well, I've done all I can to keep her stable," Megumi sighed in frustration, "but I'm still not sure what I'm dealing with." Where exactly, particularly in Jessica's head, did the organic parts end and the android parts begin? Having Ignatius around to help with the latter was good, but the doctor was still feeling a little overwhelmed. The closest she'd ever dealt with were patients involving prosthetic limbs. Nothing approaching this or even a cyborg.

Part of the issue was actually minimizing the impact of her work on Jessica's consciousness. After all, if she did anything to reduce it or inadvertently knocked the captain out, they would be sitting ducks again. And as if she wasn't feeling anxious enough, Jessica began interfacing more fully with the Riese and involving herself more and more with the battle raging outside. "Hurry and take them out so I can focus," Megumi grumbled.

...

One quick followup from Tycho and the second Chaldene was sent back to the Earth in flames. Good teamwork, though as Brant confirmed the ship sunk on the Regalia's sensors, he realized just how much of an absolute mess they were making. Between Firmia's salvaging shenanigans and the desperate repairs needed for the Riese--and her captain no less--they might be stuck here for a little while. Sure, they could patch up the ship along the way, leave the various wrecks untouched for later and simply push ahead to Apotheosis' base, but was that really the wisest course of action? They might face even stiffer resistance there. At the very least they had the Sacarian leadership to deal with. That alone was a tall order.

"What a mess ..." Brant shook his head as he glanced in the Riese's direction and saw a Phobos disappear, overtaken by violet justice.

...

"I read you," Firmia replied having briefly forgotten Thorvald's callsign in the chaos, "We'll handle it, just be ready if we can't quite punch through it." Firmia wasn't sure if the Avalon had enough firepower to finish off the Hexis, if only because the machines of Sacarian knights were difficult to gauge in general, but the pissed off Alkaev was certainly willing to pour her ship's remaining stores into it. If nothing else, it would hurt. It would hurt like hell.

"Get ready, Marcia. I'm shutting off any system limiters that won't compromise the reactor and giving you the guns. Take him out!"

Firmia casts Dreams: Fury (Calina's) and attacks the Hexis with Excalibur!

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She had the guns... she had the Avalon's full energy reserves. A quick scan of the battlefield made it clear that they didn't have much left in general... they had to make this one count. She... had to make this one count.

"Understood, Captain." Marcia replied, as she fiddled with her console. The limiters were off, and with a few typed commands, the beam cannon's output had hit the systems maximum allowance. Her sights trained directly onto the cockpit of the Hexis. Three... two... one...

"We've had enough of you! All of us! All of Earth! Just die you, you... repugnant furry asshole! EXCALIBUR" ... Fire. She still had energy. Fire. The reserves of the Avalon were clean empty after the second shot... the lights had begun to flicker in the bridge.

She didn't know if they had another shot in them or not, but she kept her finger ready to pull the trigger again, glancing from the Captain to the Hexis, waiting for damage reports. Another one would take them out of commission, but if that brute would survive without it... well it was the Captain's call.

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Firmia casts Dreams(-> Fury)![-24SP]

The Avalon attacks!
Target: Hexis
Weapon: Excalibur
Final Hit: 100!
Final Crit: 31
Roll: 24, 63
Hit!
No Crit.
Damage: 133

The Hexis takes the brunt of beam energy... its systems are failing to convert the energy!

"Hah, So this is where I meet my end..."

"May this land be all that my King wanted."

The armor melts... the beam pierces through!

Firmia gains +1600 EXP, +37 SP, +45000 credits!
Firmia levels up 4 times! +12 SP!

With the Hexis down... there is no resistance left.

Map End!

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What a magnificent finish ...

Firmia sank deep into the captain's chair, heaving one big sigh of relief. It was over ... and somehow, they had survived. "Thank you ..." It wasn't like the usual rough battle. This time they had critical considerations, and a fairly small window in which to do so. This attack had been meant to head them off and prevent them from reaching Apotheosis' main base, and in that regard, they had nearly succeeded. If nothing else, they had bought their King time to rally for one final battle. It would likely be harder, not easier, going forward.

"Is that it?" Brant contacted them on the bridge, "Remaining hostiles aren't moving."

"They'll leave after the shock wears off. All MS teams return to the Avalon immediately. Luna, stand guard in case something changes, please." Hopefully Brant would get the hint that he wasn't excused to fly off to the Riese, right now. In truth, Firmia had been planning to head over there as well. She ... had her reasons, but the reality of the situation was crashing down on them and they didn't have time for the Jessica ... stuff, just yet.

Glancing at her display, Firmia noticed they had a visitor atop the Avalon. She'd ignored it before due to the chaos, but now it was impossible to overlook the Velite idling on top of the ship. "Vera, do you read me? Are you ..." Of course she wasn't okay, but what other questions could Firmia ask that wouldn't be alluding to a rude, 'get inside or get off the hull' demand?

Edited by Phoenix

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Not retreating seemed great on the surface, that was a whole battleship Tycho had just destroyed. However, all that adrenaline started wearing off, and he got himself back into focus.

Then, there was another explosion, and suddenly... silence. Was the fighting over? It seemed so. He leaned back in his seat as he took a deep breath. As thing slowed down, there was a sharp pain... wait, no, several sharp pains on his arm. He looked over, reminded of that blood feeling he had earlier. "Ahh..." There were shards of shrapnel (he didn't know if this technically counted, but he wasn't that worried about it) protruding from his arm. A result from one of those rough hits. A sigh, he grabbed at a small shard, and pulled it out. A pained groan, and... more blood pooled out. Not at a dangerous rate, but it was enough to keep him from pulling anymore. He should wait till he can get himself patched up.

Tycho thought about docking in the Riese, but... no. He didn't want to. That feeling from before came back. He did not feel well. Another crazy, stressful fight, and he was able to walk out of it. He considered that no other pilots died, but he remembered what happened to the Riese's bridge. "Let's wait for the order," He told himself, as he just... sat there, his Velite just motionless on the surface.

Propping his head up with his thumbs, he continued taking deep breaths to keep his cool.

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Alriana watched on as the Hexis was swarmed for what would be the last time. A hail of lasers, shells, explosives beating against the machine's already damaged armor. With a final shot from one of their battle ships, it was finally over; the Knight pieced through by the Avalon's Excalibur. She wanted to relax as she assumed the others were, to pull out the plug linking her with the Almydis and let it take her back to the Riese. Back to Tristan, to see with her own eyes that he was actually as fine as he claimed. However, some part of herself wouldn't let her. It told her that there was still something to do, something that needed to be done. And that she had to be the one to do it.

It had been eating away at her the entire battle, ever since she had returned to her senses and Soor'kan and his machine had been missing from the battle. Inexplicably, part of her was convinced the space cat still drew breath. That if she didn't find him, and end him, she'd never shake his hold over her. In the midst of the battle she'd shelved the feeling in face of the more real threat, the remaining Knights. However, that threat had passed; the Knights and their machines were dead and destroyed. Only a handful of enemies remained, if they even dared to stay. Her allies could handle them if they decided to going down fighting, of that she was sure.

Alriana let the Almydis' active camouflage resume and began to head north, guided by her intuition. While she knew she wasn't completely undetectable, the Riese had had the Almydis' signal since she was recruited, it would likely be enough to let her slip away without notice. She didn't want anyone following after her. This was her fight to finish, if there was anything to finish.

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It took Tarquin a few moments to process the fact the battle was over. The defeat of the Hexis seemed almost fictional, the gravity of it not sinking in. His eyes scanned his screens, reading the displays multiple times over to confirm for himself. There wasn't going to be much time to rest, but the crew could take satisfaction knowing that they had fended off some of the fiercest foes the planet had ever seen. He was just a single child in the middle of it all, yet somehow had contributed to something much bigger. 

"Jess, can you compile a damage report for subsystems please." Tarquin asked, uncertain of how much time they would have until the final assault. "I find it surreal sometimes. So many of our current allies were previously our foes... we wouldn't have gotten this far without all of them. Even Hedrick."

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Monty had filled a black leather traveling satchel with the kinds of equipment that might be needed for emergency treatment, and had gone to wait in the hangar. This was purely precautionary, of course. He'd been monitoring the vitals from the pilot's machines and the information was clear that none of the Avalon's crew were anywhere near to where any transport delay to the fully stocked medical bay might make a difference in treatment outcome. But, on the battlefield, things can change in an instant, yes?

He'd stopped by the crew quarters first, to see if he could find one of the androids hanging around, to at least have a conversation partner while he killed time. Jessica wasn't around, off doing something else apparently, but Stephanie was fine too. The plan had been to ask what kind of music she liked, but if that fell through, he figured he could more than carry the weight by filling in with his own preferences. He'd configured the monitoring equipment in the infirmary to push updates to his alpha tool if any of the pilot's vitals fell outside of nominal range, too, so everything was well under control.

Firmia's announcement about the end of hostilities was great news, and Monty signaled with his hand and broke off the conversation abruptly, an apologetic smile on his face as he did so. Flipping through some charts on his tool first, confirming nothing had strayed from ordinary, the doctor opened a line of communication to the bridge.

"Captain, Avalon personnel's medicals are still showing all greens across the board, so I was thinking, with your permission of course, that it might not be a bad idea to take a transport over to the Riese and offer my assistance over there..." That attack they took at the beginning of the fight was surely straining their resources, and while the pilots under his care had made it through with little more than bruises, there was no telling how the ones stationed over there had fared.

Edited by Balcerzak

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"Hmm, Monty?" Firmia was surprised to hear from the doctor ... until she wasn't. The Avalon crew rarely had injuries of their own to deal with for a variety of reasons. Monty wasn't going to have anything to do just sticking around on the Avalon, not unless some of the Riese's injured were moved over, but that was probably unnecessary. The Riese's infirmary was larger. Better to send over doctors and nurses than try to divvy up the patients. Still, it was rather annoying that someone always needed to go over to that ship for one reason or another. "Sure, Monty. Go ahead ..."

Firmia glared over at the Heion Riese. The relationship was mutually beneficial, incredibly annoying but mutually beneficial; the Riese would provide them with protection through its sheer size and presence on the field ... and the Avalon would be there to help the crew pick up the pieces. Every single time. "You owe us, Jessica ..." Firmia irritably muttered.

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That was it, then. Their fight against the knights, against four Sacarian knights, had come to an end. They'd all been routed, without a single casualty on their side. Tristan collapsed in his seat, staring at the ceiling. "Not a single casualty..." Not in the field, no. The bridge... Jess had tried to save as many people as she could, even at the cost of her own body. The rest, though... "Tch..." They'd been doing so well, now the Riese had a body count to report back to HQ. "Dammit..." Was there anything they could have done? A suicide attack like that, had they just gotten too lax? "We shouldn't have assumed anything... Even the Sacarians would get desperate eventually. Ugh..."

To top things off, a certain signal was starting to leave the battlefield. "Aly...? Alriana, come in." No response. Her machine and equipment were still functioning just fine... "Aly? Alriana!?" What was she racing off for? "Not allowed a break yet, I guess...!" Tristan picked himself up and bolted out of the room. "Uh, Roxanna! I need to take a Velite out, my apologies! Take care of the captain, and see to whatever need's done. You're the highest ranking officer on the ship until she can get herself back into business!" He'd have to wait for the elevator, but it was going to be a fairly straight dash from there. They still had Alriana's signal, so she could be tracked... What's going on, Aly?


"Woo! We did it, we won!" Jess did a fist pump with her remaining arm, shifting a bit in the tank. "Oh, whoops, sorry. Guess I shouldn't really move around much... Uh, well, there's three enemy units left. Should we shoot them down, or... Oh. Hey, XO? Two of them are sending surrender signals... What, do we do about that?" From all she'd analyzed so far, these Praxis models belonged to aliens, and the aliens were seriously trying to kill them all. What was going on, then? "I'm gonna need you to make the call here, I don't really get what's going on... I was pretty convinced from all the ship's reports that the aliens are trying to kill us real bad. Given my state, I'd say they were doing a decent job! So, I, uh... I don't, really get this."


"Fuck..." Chris fell back in her pilot seat and tore off her helmet, the threats having been taken care of. Blonde hair filled her sight for a second, before she moved it out of the way, staring out at the battlefield. What a mess. "That's a lot of broken suits..." Even the big guys had left some wreckage. Seemed their destruction fields couldn't stop all the bits from getting atomized, and the one that Abby had forked was still completely... Intact was stretching it, but most of its pieces were there. "Guess that whole self destruct thing is, in the cockpit... Holy shit, we did it." A smile crept in, but it was soon replaced by a sigh. "Uuuuuugh, I'm so tired...! Those cats were exhausting... And the Riese... It's gonna take us a bit to put these pieces back together."

They had a schedule to keep, according to the plans set, but the Riese couldn't go up against stronger with that sort of damage. The bridge would need repaired or covered, they needed some kind of bandaid. "We, uh... We should head back to the Avalon, yeah, Brant?" Speaking of things they needed, those Praxis Gamma models weren't going anywhere... Wait, they were... "Uh, Brant, much as I need a shower and about an hour of hugs, those... Praxis models, are surrendering?" Their arms were up, the machines seemed to be powering down. Two were facing the Riese, the other... The Avalon? "Oi, Firmia, come in. You getting a surrender signal from that Praxis? Trying to contact you, or something?"


Vera registered what Firmia said, not moving anything. A hand struggled towards the console, pressing an emergency return button, the Velite beginning to move on its own towards the Riese. She couldn't talk, if anything came out, she felt like she'd break down completely. The ride back to the Riese was the longest minute of her life.


"Hahhh... Hahahahah~" Louise was cackling in her pilot seat. The Luna was registering some damage, but she didn't care. She'd gotten to dance again, been able to fight, to kill, to feel the rush of adrenaline that came from crushing another pilot's machine! "This body is amazing...!" A worry had set in when the fighting stopped, but, her trauma hadn't come back. No screams, no headaches, no memories... It was a bit sad, in a way. A part of her had been torn out without anyone asking, but to allow this bliss to finally make its way to the surface, without a single drawback...! "Hah! Hahahahah! HAHAHAH~!" Laughter filled the cockpit. Working for Firmia, it wouldn't be bad at all...


Kazue took some deep breaths, the fighting had ended, and she could finally find her calm. "That, was a tough battle..." Her machine was beginning to feel very out of place. She'd been keeping pace because of her mastery over melee combat, but any stray hit could've torn the Crescent apart in seconds. "Maybe, I should ask Buck for reinforcement. Something..." Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted the Mantle, remembering who was inside it. As it flew by towards the Avalon, she gave it a thumbs up. It was nice that her former squadmates were still kicking, and kicking well.


"Fight's... It's, over?" Christina was exhausted. Mentally and physically, the motions of a mobile suit still far too much for her untrained body to completely get used to. Then there were these cats... Her weird abilities seemed to be working on them, somewhat, but it was such a strain. "Ugh... K-Kim, you're okay, right?" The Artemis had taken a few hits, but it was still in one piece. They wouldn't still be there, otherwise... "I, w-we can go back to the ship, right...? I need to get out of this... And shower for, at least an hour. So tired..."

Then the realization came. A hand made its way over her chest, to where a bullet hole had been recently. A heavy gulp, a quivering sigh. "They're... Gone. I... It's, f-for the best, but..." Perhaps not for Aver-- Marianne, but for Astin, at least, the tears began to fall. They'd been allies, even if betrayed, Astin hadn't been the one to try and kill anyone. They were just... "It's too sad," she sputtered, helmet slowly leaving and hands covering her face. "Why did we have to fight!? I just...! I thought, w-we were friends! So, why... Even, Avery...!"


"The fighting has finished, Esther." Nina removed her helmet and held onto it, glancing at the girl in the seat in front of her... A whirlwind of emotions was spinning within her, Nina almost flinching. "If... You, need a hug. Or someone to be there, for you. I can help." She knew that much, at least..."


"It's over... What a fight." Hannah had brought the Reign to land on the Avalon as soon as Vera left, heading for the elevators, before pausing. "They're not retreating... Surrender?" That was too curious, taking off again and approaching the Praxis models, weapons armed. "Firmia, give me the order, if you think they're still hostile." If they were displaying surrender signals, it was towards the battleships.

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Megumi didn't get it either, but it wasn't as if there was no precedent for this. "You said surrender signals, right?" Louise came to mind and so far that had been working out. There was also Alriana; it was easy to forget that the Sacarians weren't the only aliens on the planet right now. "I feel like I'm going to lose IQ just suggesting this, but what if they want to join us ... for whatever reason? Maybe their situation is like Alriana's, or they've been hoping for a chance to break away?" It also wasn't clear exactly how this war with humanity served the rank and file, especially with so many of them dying along the way.

...

And it seemed just like that, Vera was off, heading back to the Riese without a word. Firmia supposed she didn't have anything in particular she wanted to say to the woman, but still, this battle had likely been harder on her than anyone else. What was she fighting for, now? The Alkaev decided to let the Riese staff figure that out and focus on her own problems.

Interestingly, she had a message addressed to her. It was essentially an email that had arrived in the middle of the fighting. It came from somewhere in Russia, so it was clearly unrelated to this or the Sacarian outside. The battle was only technically over, so Firmia decided to look at the message after tending to more pressing issues.

A transmission from the Regalia came through, Chris asking about the Sacarian surrendering to the Avalon specifically. Hannah called next, as soon as the Reign made it back to the ship, ready to reengage if necessary.

Leaning back in the captain's chair and sighing at the lone machine, Firmia asked, "Thoughts?" The Avalon wasn't the flagship, and the other two fighters seemed to realize that, setting their sights on the Riese, instead. So why this one? Maybe they were surrendering to specific groups, though that implied deep knowledge about their fleet's internal workings ... which they almost certainly had thanks in no small part to the various traitors. Still, it was difficult to take anything at face value, otherwise Firmia would have just concluded that this Sacarian was surrendering to them due to the enemies they killed and the others to the Riese due to their own special body count. It was just better to be sure.

"Think they want to get inside just to self destruct?" Tonya offered, doubtful herself, but figuring that was the absolute worst case scenario. She had no doubt Firmia already came up with the idea before asking the others to weigh in. Tonya wasn't feeling particularly on edge, though. If there was a danger here, it was either too distant or nebulous to set off those battle senses.

"Two bombs in the Riese and one in the Avalon sounds about right," Firmia noted, merely humoring the idea, "but I don't think that's what's going on here. We're going to land either way so the drones can salvage parts faster. Hannah, come inside so we can start repairs on the Reign. Regalia Team, I want you to stay close to that machine. We're not taking anything in tact on board until we know exactly what's going on or we get an all clear from the Riese." She figured the TKs would at least sense treachery before it actually happened and would be able to respond first, but in terms of safety measures, it was quickly becoming old hat.

"Copy that," Brant said.

With fresh orders sent, it was time to make contact. "Hey. Captain Alkaev to the lone Praxis. Why aren't you running away?"

Edited by Phoenix

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"Repairs, what? Firmia, I'm fine--"

"You've got about thirty seconds left of battery in this thing, Hannah." Galatea spoke up and cocked an eyebrow down at the android from a higher screen.

"Ugh... Fine. Returning to the Avalon." She felt oddly coddled at times, by Firmia. Why had she singled out repairs when the machine was running fine? Energy was another thing altogether... 

"Take it easy, Hannah," Chris chimed in over an open channel, "she's just bein' worried. We got this, promise."

Firmia's question was met with a video response, a short haired, surprisingly orange Sacarian staring at her, with a conflicted look in his eyes. "I am Ayyl'Vern, Pawn under the leadership of Knight Iln'Teer... At least, I was. In accordance with Sacarian military code, as there is no chance of retreat to call for reinforcements, my surrender to those strong enough to defeat a Knight is enforced. I am yours to do with as you see fit." Despite the disgruntled look on his face, there was no malice coming from him, nor ill intent. Shame if anything, regret, perhaps.

"Whoa... Seriously?" Listening in, Chris wasn't buying it, giving an idea some thought. "Alright furball, if you're serious, open up and step outside."

"... If that will help. You humans have far too many trust issues..." The Praxis' cockpit opened, the same orange haired cat stepping out in a pilot suit, standing there with his arms raised in surrender.

"Wow, I think he's serious... Uh, Brant, what do we do...?"

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It was the Reign they were talking about. Even if there was no notable battle damage, the machine was still a hassle maintenance-wise. The sooner it was back, the better. That said, Firmia did prefer Hannah be on the ship, right now. Brant and Chris could handle the lone Sacarian, and if something happened on the ship itself, Hannah was a better fit for that sort of problem.

For now though, it seemed like their only problem was figuring out why on Earth a Sacarian would surrender in the first place. Ayyl'Vern was the name given by the surrendering Sacarian pilot, and his explanation for surrender turned out to be quite baffling indeed. He'd done nothing to contradict himself or hint at some ulterior motive, though. He even partially disembarked when Chris asked him to.

"I'm not sure," Brant shrugged. He was less worried about Ayyl'Vern's motives now and mostly just grateful they wouldn't have to kill him; no matter how angry she got, Firmia wouldn't attack someone in this situation. In all likelihood, the Sacarian's fate would be the same as Carlos'.

"The space cats get weirder the more we learn about them," Tonya said, glancing back at Firmia.

Deciding not to comment directly, Firmia focused on Ayyl'Vern. "What kind of code is that, where you could end up fighting for the other side on a bad day?!" The Alkaev was really struggling with the new information. There was no doubt that at least some small part of her was almost giddy about having acquired both an otherworldly pilot and machine ... but there was also her grudge against the Sacarians and her general distrust of outsiders in this post-mole era they were now living in. "How long does this last? Are you just going to go back to fighting for the Sacarians when they show up again, or are you fighting for us from now on, come hell or your warmonger king?"

"Oo, what if he starts calling you queen?~" Tonya teased.

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"Its weird, no matter what else. No chance of retreat for reinforcements, was this it, then? What's waiting for us up north?" Chris was baffled, and becoming more tired by the moment.

"This lasts until you are defeated in combat. I do not find this at all weird, personally... You humans are the weird ones, other races had us killed. This is the first I can remember of an adversary deciding to talk rather than execute." Pawns were not simply named for their level of ability, they were just that; pawns. In the rare situation of another race defeating the leader of a squadron and cutting off retreat, the remaining pawns were executed rather than spoken to, even if the suits remained in use. 

"I am yours to do with as you see fit. Calling you Queen is out of the question, though. I may be obliged to follow your command, but that level of respect and power is beyond you, Firmia Alkaev." 

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"Urgh! Are you trying to piss me off?! You could have just ignored that!" It wasn't even her suggestion, so Ayyl'Vern's reply really irked Firmia.

"... well, we're off to a great start," Tonya smiled uncomfortably.

"First order! Dock with the Avalon. A controller will guide you in. Once the ship touches down we're starting our salvage operation. You can meet me in the hangar. Regalia Team, you come back, too. The Luna and the Eidolon can handle guard duty." Assuming Louise would stay put with the new arrival on board was a gamble, but even if she wouldn't, the Eidolon alone should be enough. They weren't expecting another attack after that embarrassing smack down. Like everything else, it was just due diligence.

"Alright, heading back," Brant acknowledged. This was definitely weird, but at least they could freshen up when they got back. He still wondered about the situation on the Riese, but until they had things together enough for a full exchange of info, they might as well be on another continent for all Brant could do to affect the situation.

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"This is what is meant to lead me...? I am ashamed we ever lost. Understood..." Heading back into the Praxis with a heavy heart, Ayyl'Vern began the slow ascent towards the Avalon, waiting for its automatic guides to bring it in.

"Really, really weird. Gonna need way more than an hour of hugs..." Chris sighed hard, apparently they were working with a cat, now...

"Guaaaaard duty~?" Louise couldn't help the lilt in her voice, still riding the rush from before, but definitely not interested in playing security. "Come on, Firmia, let me meet the pretty kitty too... They already said that reinforcements weren't coming. Besides, who better to keep you safe from a mind reader than someone they cant read at all~? Hmhmhm, heehee... Apologies, I... Am having too much fun."

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There wasn't an order to dock. Not from the Riese anyway. Made sense, given the bridge situation. It seemed that the EU ship was taking some of the alien prisoners. Tycho wouldn't have done that, but... that's why he wasn't in a captain's chair right now. That and... well, he wouldn't have wanted it anyway. Cracking his knuckles, he got his machine working and moved to dock with the Riese.

He opened up his comms again. "Uhh, I don't know who'll be picking this up..." Given circumstances, "This is McNair, I'm preparing docking procedures with the Riese." He thought a bit, knowing how awkward he sounded. He pretty much had no way to know what kind of people he was working with, but... he was bound to learn soon enough. Then, he thought about the poor mechanics crew who'll have to fix up his machine. As he docked in, he once again awkwardly spoke,

"Also uh, sorry for the mess. Went a tad overboard, I think," If this was the old squad, he normally would just be made fun of for being reckless. He wasn't sure of the reaction here.

He felt his body finally starting to relax. But now... he was hungry, his head hurt, his arm hurt, his feet still had to deal with what was left of the pool of water/blood in his cockpit. He removed his helmet finally, taking a deep breath. Today was rough... He couldn't imagine how it felt for the crew of the ship, though.

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After Abigail and Kim had initiated on the Hexis, in spectacularly showy fashion at that, several others threw their hats in the ring too, taking turns to tango. This foe was definitely much more sturdily built that the other knights, and it certainly showed. What finally did him in was battleship-class weaponry, from Firmia's Avalon. While Abby had no qualms about losing out to a battleship, she would have to admit a small quibble with it being that woman's. Why couldn't it have been Jess that had taken out the knight?

...Actually, where was Jess and how was she holding up? "The fuck is she doing now," Abby muttered as she stared at the monitor in bemusement. The Riese had gone full-throttle chasing down some smallfry. Well, with the sole remaining Chaldene having booked it, and the praxis models... surrendering---that can't be right... but by all indications it was--there were no viable threats to capitalize on its vulnerability, far afield from its forces. That didn't mean they weren't gonna leadfoot it over there, that just meant Abigail would be slightly less worried while in transit. Slightly. The whole memory loss thing was hard to put entirely from her mind.

They were ridiculously low on energy though, the suit had enough to make it across the lake in flight mode, and another click or two further, but then, "Cally, gonna be a bit of a rough landing, and we'll have to take it on foot the rest of the way. Hope you don't mind." Actually, as for the 'rest of the way', Deliverance was right in their current path, and... "Terry, what did you let them do to our baby!?" Her poor retrofitted freighter had definitely been banged up. "We're coming aboard, Vergloria needs fuel and repairs, but with Deliverance also hurting, and no threats at the moment, no need to rush it, I guess. Oh! If Sena's still slacking, tell her I'm stealing her suit to make a run to the Riese and check up on things there." Maybe that would shake the girl out of her funk. Probably not, but, Abby wasn't sure what else to try, really.

 


 

Suddenly called to, with her mind otherwise occupied--still half-dreading in the back of her mind one of the alien's powerful energy beams coming her way to send her to join her squad--Jess squeaked. Realizing the reality only moments later, she covered for it poorly with nervous laughter, and a proper response. "Right, haha, sorry. Wasn't expecting that. Should have been, really, but heh... Yes, running damage report now."

Tarquin was still so calm, despite everything. It was admirable. She should say something. Something like, having enemies joining up and working with was better than... No, now was an uncommonly bad time for that comparison, given what had just happened. "Life can be funny sometimes," she found herself unconsciously agreeing without having put any further thought as to where that might lead. Aside from having shut off talk of traitors, everything else was open fields, uncharted territory. "Can even feel like your life is the butt of some cosmic joke, at times."

No, that's too gloomy, too pessimistic. Jess shut her mouth, stopped talking, and focused on the diagnostics tasks instead.

 

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