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Thread: 7 Sins IC

  1. - Top - End - #61
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Aoba
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    The infiltrator fighting with Irina not only fails to both maintain his choke hold and dodge your punch - he fails to do either. You hear a loud crack as your fist connects with his temple, and he hits the floor. As he lays motionless, a small amount of pink liquid pools in his ear. It's a cerebrospinal fluid leak - you hit him hard enough to damage the lining around his brain.

    "Well, my friend," Irina sighs, "We have much cleanup to organize, yes? Once we both have a few minutes to breathe, I will bring a bottle of your choosing over by your office."

    S2 reports the sniper has gotten away, but you got a good haul for interrogation - two Vatican commandos, however many of the decoy team survived the trip back to base, and whoever this infiltrator is, though it remains to be seen how bad the head trauma really is.


    The civilians are hauled off to Babylon temporarily for their own safety, and will remain there until non-emergency transport is organized.

    The pilots arrive at Babylon first, along with the injured S2 agents. Next come the directors and injured civilians. Other S2 and civilians are a lower priority, but eventually, you have quite a party at the base.

    Spoiler: Xiren
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    You're encouraged to take a nap, but the medics are up to their ears in serious injuries, so it won't be enforced.

    Shortly after your arrival, you're approached by Jacob. S2 apparently didn't manage to wipe that smug look off his face.

    "I heard you had unwelcome guests. Might I interest you in a bit of quiet conversation? Of course, I must know what you chose in the end: the open hand, or the closed fist?"


    Spoiler: Ryall
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    Jacob is right back at it, of course. His father is nearby, but perhaps, with so much commotion, you can organize something.

    Though something does bug you a little. One of the nurses comes by and advises you to try to take a nap. Not go to bed for the night, despite it being rather late at this point. You didn't suffer any ill effects from the flashbang, so that can't be it.


    Spoiler: Liza
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    You're in the clear. Since the one agent who last saw you run off with your weapon is now being taken to surgery, there's no one to tell you to give it back. Congratulations: you're now the proud owner of a Beretta M9 - the sidearm of choice for S2 agents. NATO compliant and everything! Shame that information means nothing to you.

    Irina hobbles in with Aoba, apparently having been evacuated unscathed, though her dress uniform is a bit ruffled.


    Spoiler: Takeo
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    You feel great. Well, physically, anyway. Better than Carmen, at least. She's shell shocked on top of everything, and not responding to verbal prompts. A nurse comes by to tell you to take a nap, but who needs one? You're good to get in the Virtue anytime.

    "You look good for someone who just ate a flashbang." Akari quips. She opens her mouth to continue, then furrows her brow. "Radio calls - I need to go help put out fires. Don't run off. We need you to stick close."

    Akari wouldn't directly tell you that unless something was up.


    Spoiler: Mimi
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    Well, that was a disaster. You just earned yourself a bunch more paperwork with the APC stunt, but at least none of your people got hurt, and you've been filled in on the status of the prisoners.

    Three captured extremists from the first wave. They were the distraction meant to lure away the commander.

    Two captured Vatican commandos. They're in very bad shape, and might not make it.

    One captured infiltrator. He came in with severe head trauma, condition critical.


    Session 1 complete! Everyone (including statted NPCs) take 20xp and 2e.

    Everyone who attended the gala: take a bravery roll. Those of you with Skill Proficiency: Combat do so at a bonus of +20. This roll is unaffected by fatigue or injury. On failure, take 1d6 stress.
    Last edited by fibericon; 2019-07-12 at 03:49 AM.
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  2. - Top - End - #62
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Over the duration of the bumpy and quiet APC ride, Liza has time to start processing the evening's events, to a backdrop of the medics doing their work and their patients' moans of discomfort.

    Irina pushing herself to be present for the event...

    Envy trying so hard to fit in and enjoy themselves despite their condition...

    Her own fight with S2 for the food she subsequently abandoned...

    The dance...

    The flashbangs and bullets and blood and screams and insurgents and infiltrators and--

    --she saved Envy from being kidnapped; even if the adults barely believed her, it was enough--

    ...she stole a gun, almost shot somebody...

    ...then disobeyed a direct order from Lt.Com. Kuznestov to hand it over.

    It's still in an inner pocket, thumping her ribs with every bump in the road and every step she takes.

    It's heavy. It hurts.

    She couldn't do anything for the few people she cares about, then betrayed and
    abandoned the one who saved her from three different nightmares.

    ...It's heavy. It hurts.

    ...Tired...

    ...


    Liza slips away from the group pretty much as soon as they've disembarked, before the other vehicles arrive. The other pilots aren't in great shape, but the medics are there, and she doesn't have enough to give them right now.

    . . .

    As things turned out, Liza basically has two rooms at Babylon HQ: one where she sleeps, does her studies and paperwork, and the other day-to-day activities that don't happen in common spaces. The other is where she keeps her stuff.

    She heads to her sleeping room, takes off her dress uniform, and tosses it unceremoniously on her bed. She should probably hide the gun - the bulge is a little obvious on the inside of her jacket even if you're not looking for it - but she can't bring herself to touch it right now.

    It's a symbol of everything she hates about herself and everything she takes pride in.

    Proof of the skills that let her survive alone since the Rapture took her family, behind a facade of normalcy that nobody before Irina Kuznestov were able or willing to see through.

    It'd be easy to make it right by just handing it over to Irina or anyone with an apology,

    But she can't do that either, and hates herself for that too.

    Liza stands in her room for a while, too exhausted to rest and too paralyzed to act.

    Then she sighs, slumps her shoulders, and slinks back to the landing area where the others should have arrived.

    . . .

    When Liza finds Lt.Com Kuznestov and can make eye contact, she'll do a Japanese-style bow as deeply as she can without falling over, then approach and wrap her torso in a hug. Her eyes are teary, not quite on the verge of spilling over, and her voice has a crack. She's looking for comfort from the closest thing she has to a mother, but she's also setting herself up to be punished somehow. It's how she's always coped with the guilt of living the way she has - when it gets too much, make someone else absolve you of it without compromising your haul.

    "<I'm so glad you're okay, Ms. Kuznestov. I'm sorry I left you back there. And that I... yeah.>"

    She sniffles and squeezes a little tighter. She doesn't even care if they have an audience. It's sincere.
    Last edited by Elfbird; 2019-07-12 at 12:38 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #63
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Xiren is content to bundled into the APC by S2 like a sack of potatoes and lands heavily on a jumpseat. She doesn't seem quite all there as her vision slowly returns to normal and her ears stop ringing - at least enough to hear clearly what's going on around her. The night has been an absolute, unmitigated disaster, but there's a certain consolation that an even larger problem eclipsed her own, more domestic bit of drama. She might even be spared a lecture from Kazuma. Where in the world did he go, anyway?

    She's surprised at how well she's taking this little brush with death... until the adrenaline is flushed out of her system and she starts shaking like a leaf in her seat. She's bent almost in half and staring at the floor when Jacob, typically oblivious, saunters up. When he starts speaking, she jumps a little, as though she's just noticed him. "O-oh. Hello again, Jacob. Glad to see you're alright." For a moment she thinks of feigning deafness from the effects of the flashbang, but... she doesn't really have the energy to keep up the ruse. "I got taken out of commission pretty quickly. Probably just as well. I'm not much use in a fight without my Virtue. Especially in heels."

  4. - Top - End - #64
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Xiren
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    As you look up at Jacob, his voice catches in his throat. He stares blankly at you for a moment. Maybe he's finally started taking this seriously. But if that's the case, he's not the shoulder to lean on.

    "I, uh... I should... let you, uh, get medical. Yeah."

    He scurries off, back to his father. His father has failed to show concern for anything thusfar, and isn't starting now. It's the same passive expression he's had all night.
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  5. - Top - End - #65
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    Planetar

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    Ryall spent most of the ride back to Babylon in quiet contemplation, pondering about what just happened in the gala. It was worrying that the Vatican would stoop so low as to attack a gala filled with civilians just to get at the pilots, yes, but considering how every single one of them are still alive, it could've gone far worse.

    She thought back at when one of the commandos leveled an assault rifle at her and Xiren, only to be thrown off by a lucky explosion, and silently thanks whatever unseen cosmic force saved them (because clearly, it couldn't be God). That, or God's just trying to spare you so He can screw you over later. Just as usual, she thought grimly.

    After arriving at the base, Ryall first wanted to check on Xiren to see if she was okay or not (messing with Jacob, whilst not something she'll just turn down, is a secondary objective at best now), but is halted by a nurse, who advises her to take a nap. "No, thank you. I'm fine," she responded somewhat grumpily, and she pushes the nurse aside to approach Xiren. Jacob has apparently decided to scram off, thank UCFs.

    "Hey, are you feeling better? Can I help you?" she asks Xiren, with genuine concern in her voice.

  6. - Top - End - #66
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    Aoba's first task after reuniting at Babylon is checking on her charges. They all got out intact, but... they must be shaken. Ryall and Xiren are talking, Liza is with Irina... Takeo is left alone, after a nurse goes to check on other patients. She walks over to him and takes a seat next to him. "How are you holding up? The first time you stare death in the face is always the worst, but you did great."
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  7. - Top - End - #67
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    Volthawk's Avatar

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    Default Re: 7 Sins IC

    On the ride back to Babylon, Takeo was content to keep the silence the others seemed to want, his mind turning inwards and chewing over what just happened, fuming at the injustice that just happened. The lack of restraint with which the Vatican troops acted was an outrage - attacking civilians like that was unforgivable.

    Being left in the medical bay with no need to recover gave him plenty more time to think things over, particularly once Akari tells him to stay put. So the Vatican was still causing problems...that made sense, so long as they still had troops here, they wouldn't just give up after failing at the gala. Fanatics didn't think like that. In any case, he trusted in Akari's judgement enough to obey her and stay put.

    Aoba's arrival serves as a distraction from his thoughts, Takeo giving a small nod in response. "I'm fine. I've recovered from the flashbang already, and all going through that has done has made me more determined to see this through. So if it gets easier, you shouldn't have to worry about me. Thank you for thinking of me, though." He is then quiet for a few moments, returning to his thoughts, before speaking again."They can't get away with this, can they? The Vatican has to pay for what they've done. What can we do in response?"
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  8. - Top - End - #68
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    Syless's Avatar

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    Aoba pats Takeo on the head. "That remains to be seen. They lost here, though- and chances are they made enough people mad that they're going to be even more isolated, going forward. This time, we're fighting a war of image- they slaughtered civilians, we used minimal necessary force. Our diplomats can spin this to our advantage. I know you want revenge, but we don't have the resources to fight an actual war- for now, all our effort needs to be dedicated to the Lamb. Don't worry. You'll be safe."
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  9. - Top - End - #69
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    Default Re: 7 Sins IC

    A little surprised by the unexpected head pat, Takeo mulls over Aoba's logic, nodding. "That... makes sense. I suppose political consequences will do for now, as some semblance of justice. Besides, you're right...the traitors are a distraction to the true enemy. You don't have to worry about me or my safety. When the time comes, I'll do what needs to be done to destroy them."
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  10. - Top - End - #70
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Liza
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    Irina is with her daughter when you see her again. She wraps her free arm around you lightly and sighs in response to your apology.

    "<Leaving first is exactly what you were supposed to do. We have evacuation protocol for a reason. Rejoice, Pilot Petrovnya! Our enemies lay under our boots on this great day. Besides which, I had Director Mashimo with me. I was never in any real danger. Especially after you rooted out and disarmed the false agent. I do hope you have returned that weapon.>"


    Spoiler: Directors
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    An emergency message is pushed through to your comms.

    "Russia is reporting lamb activity. An eye has closed. Keep eyes on all Sins, whether or not they're combat capable - this has never happened before. Satellite monitoring cannot see the lamb, so we have to assume it can't see other possible threats. Global recon efforts have begun."
    Last edited by fibericon; 2019-07-19 at 01:11 AM.
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  11. - Top - End - #71
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    Griffon

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    "Mm... <Ye--> yeah..."
    Her tone and downturned face don't even try to lie; such weak affirmation is as good as a confession that she kept the weapon. She's embarrassed and ashamed, but feels a bit lighter just for having made that confession. It's even a little exciting to wonder what kind of punishment Lt.Com. Kuznestov will issue, if any.

    Liza sniffles to clear her airway. She clings to Ms. Kuznestov for a bit longer, just to feel secure and spoiled. She looks up at the girl on Irina's other side and gives a friendly, somewhat contrite smile - 'sorry for looking like this and stealing your mom's attention, I promise I'll give it back soon'. They've seen each other a lot, but never really interacted, or even properly introduced themselves. It's a bit of a shame, if the daughter is as cool as the mother, and another Russian-speaker to make friends with besides.

    "<Hello! I'm-- oh, wait, uh...>"
    She clears her throat and tries out the self-introduction her Japanese tutor made her practice.
    "How do you do? I'm a Pilot of Babylon, Liza Petrovnya! My master's orders are cooking and shopping! I hope we'll get along~! What's your name?"

    Spoiler: Translator's Note
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    Liza said "shumei" ("sake brand", "name of a species", "master's orders" depending on kanji). She meant "shumi" ("hobby").
    Last edited by Elfbird; 2019-07-21 at 01:14 AM.

  12. - Top - End - #72
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Liza
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    "Hmm." Irina replies. "It will be handled in the coming hours."

    Rather ominous, but she doesn't elaborate.

    It takes her daughter a moment to process what you just said, but she quickly perks up as she realizes the mistake. "My name is Alyona! But I let people call me Alena here. It's easier for people to say. Nice to meet you!"

    Irina narrows her eyes, putting a hand on her earpiece to focus on it for a moment, then reaches down and grabs your chin. She turns your face back and forth to inspect your eyes and ears. "<Are you injured? Do you have any effects from the flashbang? Bruising during evacuation? It is important we take care of everything immediately.>" Her tone is much sterner than normal.
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  13. - Top - End - #73
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    Griffon

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    Liza's face lights up. She wasn't expecting such a lively reply! Maybe she'll have a new language buddy!
    "Is 'Alyona-chan' good? I can speak! Do you like Russian language, or not so much?"

    She doesn't notice Irina's distraction, absorbed as she is in her new friend, so having her chin suddenly grabbed is especially startling!
    "N-no, I'm fine...! <Ms. Kuznestov, what's going on? You're scaring me!>"

  14. - Top - End - #74
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Liza
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    Alyona watches her mother with a bit of concern, not looking back at you to reply.

    "That... is fine. Yes, Russian is much easier. It's my mother tongue... <Mother, what is wrong with you?>"

    Irina glances over at her daughter. "<I need to work, little bird. Stay here until I get back.>" Looking back at you, she adds, "<Come with me. The other directors can handle the other pilots. They will have more time, because they're not escorting an old cripple.>"
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  15. - Top - End - #75
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    Griffon

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    Liza swallows hard and nods at Irina. Her heart is pounding hard enough to make her feel dizzy, and her expression goes blank as she starts to withdrawn inside and steel herself. She falls in on Lt.Com. Kuznestov's weak side, half a step behind, ready to support her if need be.

    You're not an old cripple. You're strong. I look up to you too much to accept any other answer.

    After they've started walking, Liza suddenly throws a smile over her shoulder at Alyona.
    "<Alyona! Practice Japanese with me after this, okay?!>"

    As they keep walking through the endless steel and whitewash walls at Irina's pace, Liza's thoughts get pulled to the other pilots. Will they be okay? She wants to be there for each of them, but she knows that leaving Lt.Com Kuznestov would only cause trouble now. She hates her own uselessness and lack of power. As if the 'other directors' care one whit about supporting the pilots as people! After the danger is passed then, she'll make hotpot and they'll all have a big family dinner...

    The swelling anger and hope ignite a fire in her chest; it lights up her eyes and burns away her doubts. There's still a lump of fear in her throat, and her limbs are shaking, but that's nothing new - she's faced the same terror every time she's faced down a shopkeeper's rifle and a policecar's siren.

    She's found something worth protecting. She can give this battle her all, just like she did to save Envy. If her 'all' isn't enough, she'll just steal somebody else's.

    That's great, but what does 'stealing somebody else's all' even mean...?

  16. - Top - End - #76
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Xiren lets out a quiet sigh of relief as Jacob uncomfortably stalks off in his father's general direction. She doesn't really have the energy to deal with him right now. And yet.... some small, selfish part of her, the same part that was silently euphoric watching Ryall and Jacob fight over her, is disappointed that he bailed so immediately.

    Maybe if I had...

    No.

    For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh, but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit...


    Her lips move silently as she recites the passage from memory. It's one she's read over many times. Concurrently, her hand sneaks into her now-dirty and rather beleaguered clutch, and fishes out a small chess piece, which she worries in one hand. To a passersby she might look just a touch crazy, which is unfortunate, because she's barely made it through ". . .and if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin. . ." before Ryall walks up. Immediately she stops her little impromptu Bible study and flips over her hand, resting it against her knee in what she hopes is a suitably-casual method of concealment. This time she's determined to act with a bit more composure. Her winning smile's back, though it doesn't quite reach her eyes. "Yes, I'm quite alright, thank you. A little shaken up. Thank you for... well. Helping me get out. I don't know what I'd have done without you." She looks Ryall up and down in apparent concern. "You weren't hurt, I hope?"

  17. - Top - End - #77
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Liza
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    Touching her earpiece again, Irina switches to Japanese briefly. "Petrovnya is with me. Try to get the others to rest, if possible."

    She keeps looking forward as you two walk down the hall. "<I don't know how much of the Rapture story you've heard, or from who, but in the house of the hanged man, they mention not the rope. Perhaps they should. You flushed out a spy who fooled us all, Liza. I want to make use of your talent while there might still be time to do so. Will you listen to a broken soldier's final war story?>"
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  18. - Top - End - #78
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    Griffon

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    Liza also keeps her gaze fixed straight ahead, and her voice drifts toward a monotone as she numbs herself in preparation for whatever nightmare lies ahead.

    "...No... <...You're not broken, Lieutenant Commander. You saved me, and watched over me, and that's more than any adult has done for me since the Rapture took my family. Nothing is broken as long as it can do something. Damaged, maybe, but never useless. I know. I'll prove it, because I'm trash you picked out of the gutter too. What shall I do for you?>"

  19. - Top - End - #79
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    Spoiler: Liza
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    Irina scoffs. "<I was at ground zero when The Rapture took place. In the joint training exercise between the JSDF and the RAF. We came to the lamb, laying on an altar and surrounded by robed figures. We now call them Elders. Seven eyes, each was as large as the common room, and the Elders were similarly giant. But as large as they were, satellite imaging could not see them. The shadows that ravaged our homeland were also there. They approached us on sight, and did not respond to verbal communication. We attacked first, but bullets only dispersed them temporarily. The black smoke that formed the shadows seemed connected to one of the Elders. After I was crippled, I couldn't attempt to retreat anymore, so I fired at the Elder. He had a shiny necklace, and I knew a bullet so tiny couldn't kill something so large, so I decided to be petty and break his trinket before I died. I don't know if it was because of that, or because I dared attack him at all, but he was so angry he couldn't command his shadows while in such a fit of rage. We retreated, but shortly thereafter was the event that destroyed so many lives. So tell me, Liza: what piece of information are we neglecting to make use of? Think quickly, pilot, for one of those milky eyes has just closed.>"
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  20. - Top - End - #80
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    Griffon

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    Being presented with an unexpected puzzle, and having to build such a complex mental image, actually brings Liza somewhat back to her typical self. She'll be startled by this later. For now, the solution - one possible solution out of countless unknown ones - is pretty clear from her perspective.

    "<Do you have anything important to you? A precious memento, or a favorite tool, or maybe a person? If that important thing were stolen or destroyed, wouldn't you be so angry that you couldn't focus, couldn't even think, and then you'd lash out on whatever's convenient, even if one thing has nothing to do with the other? It sounds to me like that necklace was important to that Elder, so maybe the others have similarly important things. That means they think and feel, so if we can learn what they value and respond to, we can control them. Seven eyes, seven deadly sins and virtues... Were there seven Elders? It's a lot different if you shot Patience's treasure and flipped him to Wrath than if all the Elders react the same way. I don't know what the Lamb's closed eye means, but I feel like we're going to find out soon. Are they attacking now?>"

    Irina might find it surprisingly how empathetic Liza sounds toward the Elder. She never saw them, largely blotted out the memories of the horrors their spawn caused, but she can absolutely understand the pain of losing a precious treasure.

    Her heart clenches in her chest and she stops in her tracks, eyes wide and staring at nothing.

    The gun she left on her bed.

    They'll probably just open her room while she's piloting and take it.


    She'd been setting herself up for something like this - she knew that at the time, subconscious as the impulse was - but she made herself vulnerable just now and discovered herself unable to accept the price she'd previously prepared to pay.

    She clutches at her collar until her nails prickle her skin through her undershirt, and doubles over in physical pain born from her emotional agony.

    She wants to run.

    Turn back right now and go to her precious things, to protect them from the thieving and heartless adults.

    But right now there's someone she doesn't want to disappoint at her side. Trusting her.

    She has to keep moving forward. She
    wants to, as much as she wants to go back.

    . . .

    ...It's probably already gone.


    She drops into a balled-up squat, and when her breath uncatches, it comes out in wheezing sobs.

    ...I want it all. I want security and comfort and Irina's respect and affection and the pilots' happiness and enough food and medicine on the table and money to care for everyone and to know God isn't going to blow them all away tomorrow and I need so much power to attain and protect it all.

    I don't have nearly enough yet.

    ...And I'm going to lose it all because I can't stand to sacrifice anything.

    Adults, God, the world... they'll take away everything that matters to me, sooner or later.

    ...So even if I can't stop them, I'll just have to become strong enough to take it all back.


    She stops breathing again. The hand on her chest moves to cover her forehead and one eye. She puts her other hand on the ground and staggers to her feet, lurching toward the nearest wall, only letting her steps carry her forward - never back.

    When she reaches the wall, she'll fling her back against it for support, looking up at the ceiling lights through the fingers half-covering one eye and gulping for air. She's still too light-headed to move or think properly, and standing definitely didn't help. She tries to look down to Irina and say something, but that only results in another wave of dizziness and her mouth going fish-like until she looks back to the ceiling.

  21. - Top - End - #81
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Liza
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    Irina simply stops and watches your panic attack quietly, letting you gather the strength to stand back up on your own. Her steely gaze follows you from the floor to your shaky standing position.

    "<Now imagine your shock if you had simply been thrown into Charity without warning. We do not know exactly when the attack will come, how, or even if. But we must treat this information as though it will. It was more than seven Elders. It was twenty four. This is consistent with Revelations 4:4. But we saw no throne, only the altar. The book of Revelations has not been wholly consistent with what we are currently seeing. I do not know if this is due to being lost in countless translations over many years, partial metaphor, misinterpretation of the passages by an outside force, or deliberate omission.>"

    She pulls a gold chain out from under her uniform shirt, revealing the locket on the necklace she's been wearing. Opening it, she reveals a picture of her, her daughter - at age seven - and a man you've never met before.

    "<We all carry something from our past that is precious to us. But perhaps you are right. There were no harps, as the Bible told. No incense. These are not the saints many scholars believe the Elders are meant to represent. If they were, why would they have a need for jewelry? What saint clings to material things so? Make no mistake, Liza - we are not fighting angels. We are not fighting God. These are monsters. Monsters that slaughtered our countrymen and burned our borders. That left our homeland a husk of its former self, only fit to be a militarized wasteland in the hopes that what few people remain can warn everyone else. Treat them accordingly. Remember your training, show no mercy, and shoot to kill.>"
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  22. - Top - End - #82
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Syless's Avatar

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    Aoba fusses with Takeo's hair. "Good, as long as you remember what job one is."

    She next heads over to Lt. Com. Kuznestov- she's talking with Liza, but she should still check in with her fellow officer. "Lieutenant Kuznestov- How are you holding up? Did the enemy agent do any actual damage, or was he subdued before anything could be done?"
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  23. - Top - End - #83
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Liza and Aoba
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    There's a brief silence while Irina lets her steely gaze soften before looking over at Aoba.

    "I am unharmed, but thank you. The infiltrator will think twice before trying something like this again... assuming he remembers anything. I was just trying to ensure my protege is prepared for battle, but I appear to have caused a panic attack instead. Perhaps I could learn from your approach. I believe in being direct - too direct, it would seem. Do we need to call medical, Liza?"


    Spoiler: Directors
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    "An angel has been spotted in Russia. Eyes on the lamb have reported one missing Elder, but the angel in Russia is not a match. No other countries have reported a sighting as of yet."
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  24. - Top - End - #84
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Liza lowers her head to look at Ms. Kuznestov and Aoba, and shakes it emphatically in the negative. She swallows hard, runs the hand on her face up through her hair, and takes a couple deep breaths before she can speak. It's hard enough for her to think in Japanese on a good day, and she doesn't care about Aoba's presence enough to do her the courtesy now.

    "<N-no, I'm fine. It's not your fault, Ms. Kuznestov, just thinking about the gala. I screwed up a lot, and it's too late to make any of it right.>"

    The food, the gun, her betrayal - they won't get it at all, but just admitting it out loud somehow helps her cope. Her limbs stop shaking and she can breathe again. The lump in her throat and the white fuzziness around the edges of her mind won't go away though.

    She pushes herself away from the wall, and finds she can stand under her own power.

    <"It won't affect me in combat. Let's keep moving.">

    She starts walking ahead of the two directors to prove her soundness of body. With Aoba at Lt. Com. Kuznestov's side, Liza doesn't feel the need to stay close by Ms. Kuznestov, and she's still flooded with nervous energy - now under her control, but with no outlet.

    She turns around - walking backwards at the same pace - and makes eye contact with Aoba. The junior director hasn't earned any of Liza's respect yet, but the Sin at least knows to give thanks where it's due.
    "Hey, Ms. Aoba. You saved Lt. Com. Kuznestov. Thanks! <...I'm gonna run!>"

    Without further warning, she twists herself to face forward again and breaks into a sprint down the hallway. Her footfalls are surprisingly light, barely making enough sound to echo against the walls.
    It feels good to run toward something for once. The pent-up energy flows out of her and is replaced by something warm and pure, and she can hear her thoughts clearly for the brief moments before her mind goes blank again into a runner's high.

    She may not know the base very well yet, but she's walked from her room to the test bay often enough that her feet bring her there even in her half-aware state.
    Once she gets to the locker rooms, she'll go ahead do a five-minute rinse and change into her plug suit, then wait outside the door for the directors to catch up.
    She bounces on her heels to keep the circulation going, smiling and feeling much more her usual self.

  25. - Top - End - #85
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    All over the base, emergency lights and sirens go off. Over the speakers, you hear one of Aoba's team.

    "Angel has been spotted fifty kilometers from base! All Sins and directors, report to the briefing room! This is not a drill! All civilians, follow instructions from the nearest S2 agent!"

    S2 work quickly to get the Sins out of the crowded common room and into the meeting. In the briefing room, Kazuma makes his appearance for the first time since the gala. He's no longer in dress uniform - he's wearing a plain button shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He's standing in front of a large screen, depicting a giant robed figure. Irina grimaces, but remains silent.

    Spoiler: On successful notice roll
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    Kazuma has dried blood under one fingernail.


    "This angel doesn't move very fast," Kazuma begins, "But it's moving toward Babylon Japan. We have a limited amount of time to engage before it's on top of us. We're getting reports from Saudi Arabia, The Netherlands, and Russia of angel encounters as well. Australia and the US are likely next."

    Carmen approaches Kazuma, holding her phone out to him. He looks at the screen for a moment, then nods, and she goes to sit down.

    "Ms. Xia is completely deaf. Envy is also suffering serious side effects form the flashbang. I recommend keeping them in reserve, but I don't make the final call on who gets deployed. Ms. Mashimo, the floor is yours."

    Spoiler: OOC
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    RP is not required at this point, but you can if you so wish. There will be time for the Chessmaster talents to be used.
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  26. - Top - End - #86
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Ryall visibly relaxed upon hearing what Xiren said, though she still looks a bit worried. "That is good to hear. I am fine. Thank you," she said before she was cut off by Aoba's warning from the speakers. Immediately, she straightens up and prepares to leave, but before she does that, she turns towards Xiren. "Do you need help to walk?"

  27. - Top - End - #87
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Cheering erupts from the command center as Xiren puts the Elder down for good. The shadows dissipate as a single blow to the core reduces the angel to nothing. Irina puts her head in her hands, overwhelmed with relief that a second Rapture event did not come to pass.

    Of course, Russia never had Virtues the last time around. It's an entirely different set of circumstances now. Still, one has to wonder why only Japan faced an Elder. Kazuma, in fact, wonders this very much out loud.

    The medical team meets the Sins in the hangar first, before allowing them to be escorted back to the briefing room. At least one face you've seen before - Nishiguchi is among them.

    "Congratulations on your first victory." Kazuma says, "On this great day, you have proven that you will bow to neither man nor monster. Updates are coming in from the global Babylon organization: Russia and the Netherlands fared very well, with comparable victories to our own. There was significant collateral damage in Saudi Arabia and Australia. The United States has two pilots in critical condition, and suffered civilian casualties. The Netherlands will most likely send backup to the United States if necessary, as they are closer than we are by some three thousand kilometers. There is some important information to note from this battle: though all Babylon locations fought angels, only Japan faced an Elder. I would like to know why. Ms. Nijima, I want you to make figuring this out your priority. Dismissed."

    "<Commander,>" Irina chides in Russian, "<Don't you think you should appeal to their humanity a bit?>"

    Kazuma sighs and adds, "Pilots, you have a non-trivial salary for a reason. Have some fun."

    As the base was not very far from the battle, it would have been too dangerous to arrange transport for the gala guests. They're all still in the common area. Gabriel seems to be doing better than before. Carmen doesn't seem to have it in her to be the spoiled princess you've all come to know and begrudgingly tolerate, now simply having a conversation with Shane via text.

    Spoiler: Directors
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    After the command room is dismissed, you all receive a distressing report: the captured agent with head trauma died suddenly in the medical wing, despite appearing to have been in stable condition.


    Spoiler: Liza
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    Your room has been tossed, and the pistol is gone. Nothing else appears to be missing.


    Spoiler: Takeo
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    As Ms. Nijima passes you, you swear you can smell ozone. Very strongly, and very briefly, as if lightning had struck near you. You don't get much time to think about this, as Akari runs up.

    "What a show!" she beams, "Our enemies are having a real bad day, eh Takeo?"


    Spoiler: Ryall
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    You're caught alone, by Jacob's father. He has the same emotionless gaze he's maintained all night, but a quick look around tells you that this was very well thought out. He speaks slowly and calmly, and well out of earshot of anyone else.

    "<Ms. Lagrange. We have been informed that, due to the two attacks in rapid succession, my son and I will remain in the Babylon Japan base for the next several days. Obtain a modicum of self control during that time. After we leave, your antics are no longer my concern.>"

    There is something frightening in the way this man carries himself. There is no threat - veiled or otherwise - to be obtained from his words or tone, but just talking to him feels like you have a gun barrel jammed into your ribs.


    Spoiler: Xiren
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    That Elder spoke directly into your mind. Repeatedly. If they're supposed to be the angels, why are they encouraging the sort of behavior you've worked so hard to resist?

    Have you misunderstood your teachings?

    You and Kazuma don't always see eye to eye, but he is a Christian, and he is on your side. Consulting with him might yield something. There are others on base as well, but Japan doesn't have the highest Christian population.


    Session 2 complete! Everyone (including statted NPCs) take 100xp and 2e.
    Last edited by fibericon; 2019-08-02 at 02:41 AM.
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  28. - Top - End - #88
    Halfling in the Playground
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    As the rest of the Pilots and much of the support staff file out of the briefing room, Xiren cautiously approaches Kazuma. Outside Castitas and lacking clear orders, she's lost whatever fleeting bravado the killing blow gave her, and her thoughts have turned to worry. She can still feel the disgusting presence of the Elder in her mind, like an imprint left in wet concrete, and she's eager to wipe it away before it coalesces into something darker and more difficult to grapple with.

    She smiles and clasps her hands behind her back in a slightly-more-refined semblance of parade rest. "Congratulations on the victory, Commander."

  29. - Top - End - #89
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Volthawk's Avatar

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    Before the battle

    The sound of the sirens and the announcement of an Angel's presence stirs Takeo from the semi-relaxed state he'd reached, a well of emotions replacing the relative calm with excitement, the promise of coming vengeance invigorating him more than any bed rest. This was it. The time has come.

    Takeo doesn't make much effort to hide his feelings when it comes to the briefing, his anger building under the surface as he looks at the image of the Angel, his thoughts turning to the past. Of the pilots assembled, he is probably the one most looking forward to this.

    ------
    After the battle

    Since leaving his Virtue, Takeo's emotions have been quite consistent, a mixture of joy and excitement like he hasn't felt for a long time, not since before the Rapture. If any of the other pilots happen to meet his gaze, his gratitude towards them for fighting with him is quite evident.

    He listens to the briefing with some interest, evidently still trying to be aware as he can about the strategic situation, and makes a mental note about Ms. Nijima's unusual smell, even if he has no clue what he could do in reaction to that or if he even should do anything. Akari's presence takes priority, though, Takeo responding with a smile of his own and a nod, glad to see her and even happier that she seemed to be proud of how he'd done. "Yes. The Vatican should think twice before trying that again, particularly now we've shown them that their angels can be slain." Takeo pauses, uncertainty flickering on his face as he considers whether to continue. "I'll admit, I had doubts sometimes about if we could this, but now...we can really do it, can't we? We can win this, get justice for her, and destroy our enemies. It feels...good to be sure about that now."
    Blake avatar by Cuthalion

  30. - Top - End - #90
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Weight of a rosary
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    Kazuma looks over to you and nods. "It would seem the victory is yours, Ms. Hua. I'm only here to provide support."

    Xiren bows her head slightly in return, as a gesture of deference. "You're too modest. A soldier's only as good as their commanding officer, after all."

    Kazuma offers a rare smile. "That is why the blame falls on me if we fail - you all have near limitless potential. That gala incident, for instance, was very much a failing on my part. But that is something I understand much better. How was your first experience of actual combat inside the Virtue?"

    "It was exhilarating... and terrifying." Her own smile falters a bit. "It was my honor to strike the final blow, but... Well. Before that, when the Elder attacked me- attacked Castitas." She corrects herself. "It... spoke to me. Like it was inside my head." She seems to be reluctantly dancing around her own pressing questions, as though afraid of the answers.

    Kazuma's smile fades. "These things... battling them continues to have unintended consequences. What did it say to you?"

    "It encouraged me to do things. Sinful things." For a moment she closes her eyes and shakes her head as though trying to clear it. "Its words were... intoxicating, almost. It's difficult to put into words." She musters up her courage and meets Kazuma's gaze again. "These things we're fighting, they're angels, right? Why would an angel want me to sin? I hoped, since you keep the faith as well, you might have an idea..."

    "There is certainly debate as to whether we actually are fighting angels. The belief comes from the parallels with the book of Revelations, but there are many deviations as well. Many people think these are something else entirely - a conspiracy, aliens attempting to mimic the scriptures to strike fear into us... Then there is the fact that it is possible for an angel to fall. If you believe the Old Testament - which I largely do not - approximately one third of all angels fell, and now reside on earth. Quite frankly, I've picked my side. If this was the same Elder I saw during the Rapture - and I believe it was - it was a mass murderer. Hardly a being whose opinion should be respected. Let me ask you something, Ms. Hua, and you can decline to answer, as it is intensely personal: Why are you a Christian?"

    "Because my grandfather was," she replies, simply, before perhaps realizing that's not a sufficient answer. "No, that's not quite all of it, is it? I suppose... I have to believe that everything that's happened, it's moving toward something. The world isn't just chaos and suffering, there's structure here, too. Order. Purpose. The word of God is the ultimate structure. The highest purpose. Why wouldn't I want to seek out His blessings?"

    "When I was on tour in South Korea, I met an elderly couple. They didn't speak a word of Japanese, and I only had a Korean/Japanese dictionary to communicate. They invited me over for dinner, despite having just met me. After we ate, I asked why they would invite a stranger into their homes. They said they had more than they needed, so this is what Jesus would want them to do. Japan doesn't have much Christian representation, and like most, I considered Shintoism more tradition than religion, so I'd always been mostly Agnostic. But I was curious about teachings that would result in acts of kindness. They continued to invite me over for dinner, and my last night in the country, they gave me a Japanese bible. I read it, cover to cover, to learn what made these people what they are. I almost gave up during the Old Testament. In fact, it was a whole other book. It wasn't until I got to the teachings of Christ that I understood. So that's what I took from this. I know I am not that man, but I do my best to make everything I touch better. I've accepted that it's okay to make mistakes, and it's okay to defend yourself and others. It's not okay to inflict cruelty for personal gain. It's not okay to harm people who don't deserve it. Your Sin, in particular, comes with heavy stigma. I won't ask you exactly what behavior was encouraged as I'm not sure it was appropriate, but I'll encourage you to forgive yourself for behavior and thoughts that don't harm others. None of us are Christ, Ms. Hua. And as far as I can tell, you are nothing if not a model human being."

    "Don't compliment me too much. 'Pride comes before the fall', and all that." Xiren laughs a bit weakly. "Thank you for the kind words, Commander. You're right - ultimately it doesn't matter what that thing was, or what it wanted. It was evil. God wouldn't allow a thing like that to exist in His name, and wherever it came from, it's not of the Lord. That's what matters."

    Kazuma smiles again. "Listen: My door is always open. If you wake up at three in the morning with a problem, bring it to my quarters. The lot of you have quite enough to bear without having to swallow your fears."

    "W-would that really be appropriate? I mean, you are my commanding-" She cuts herself off, in a rare overruling of her usual boundaries. "No, I shouldn't stand on ceremony. I appreciate the offer, Commander. I might take you up on that."

    "What would be inappropriate would be deliberately ignoring what ails those under my command. Is there anything else I can do for you today?"

    "Well..." She hesitates. "Perhaps this is inappropriate, but are you alright? You disappeared just before everything went wrong at the gala, and, well..." She gestures, a bit awkwardly, to the hand with the dried blood under his fingernail.

    He looks down at his hand and winces. "You weren't supposed to notice that. I'm fine. There was a..." He averts eye contact, then steels his gaze. No point trying to hide it now. "There was an initial attack, before the group that got through to the gala. I went back to base to interrogate the survivors. On a related note, we may be making a public relations gambit to capitalize on the Vatican's assault. You will probably be asked to take charge."

    Xiren gives him a reassuring smile. "I know you did what you had to do. Nothing more, nothing less. I'll be happy to help, of course. Do we know any of the details, yet?"

    "You will be on television. Beyond that, I'm afraid not."

    "Oh good, I love television." She strikes a rather overdramatic pose, complete with puppy dog eyes. "It's so difficult to play the poor, victimized damsel in distress over social media accounts. You just come off sounding trite." The act is gone as quickly as it appears. "Don't worry, Commander, I'll have them hating the Vatican as much as we do in no time."

    "Excellent. I'm looking forward to this already. Our public image certainly needs the help."
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