NATION

PASSWORD

A Bloody Spring (Semi-Open; TG if Unsure)

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]

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Zero-One
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Postby Zero-One » Sun Oct 18, 2015 5:24 am

While Kousenel spoke, Shodey fashioned the items she requested and he offered to fit her own ends. The bandages and wadding she made into a prosthetic, held in place with the tape. The garb became a mozzetta that could cover that obvious bit of fakery. She accomplished all this with one hand and strategic use of basic pressure from a truncated forearm as though she'd never had a left hand to begin with. Finally, once all else was in place, she hid the stump of what was once her wrist and the fraying trim of her left sleeve inside the hem of her right. Overall, she hoped, it was a sufficiently conservative pose that would engender no questions. Her new sartorial expression would simply have to fall inside the expectation that she should be somewhat unusual.

When the doctor was done explaining himself, she simply nodded. "We all do as we must." Whether or not she was convinced remained, as previous, purely internalized. Externally, she only projected the quietly regal bearing she had entered with. "As such, must I stay or leave?" This she put ever so little more emphasis on, mostly to play up the authority necessitated by her current character: queens rarely had to repeat their questions, but grace could be extended under exigent circumstances.
Last edited by Zero-One on Sun Oct 18, 2015 5:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Sunset
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Cross-Posted Cause LAAAAAAZY

Postby Sunset » Mon Oct 19, 2015 7:48 pm

V'Thirnthi Jungle, N'Xypndiltn, E'Xypndiltn System...

"...reporting a potential meta-Normal event." The Mobile Infantry trooper paused and turned to look at the stumbling form that was thrashing its way through the occasionally thick undergrowth of the jungle that sprawled over nearly every acre of the tropical world, ready to supply additional information to his distant superior officer. "Hey! Wait! What are you..."

Tradia had broken into a trot, then a jog, and then for the final burst a quick sprint as she followed the broken path of the risen woman and took a quick leap to jump up and slap the back of her head. The walker staggered forward and wheeled around, a trailing leg tangling in the brush almost sending her into the dirt, and lashed out with her blood-stained hands before somehow realizing that her diminutive attacker had already retreated and was now backpedaling towards the Troopers and the waiting Inspector.

"What was that?"

"Tracking device," the Xypndi said before explaining further, "We could eat lunch waiting for her to go... Well, wherever she is going."

That the slaughtered woman was going somewhere was plain to see; A ragged trail followed her and instead of sticking to the trail only a few meters away and running in the same general direction, she was plowing ahead despite a short-if-near-vertical shelf that ran across the jungle floor in front of her, a remnant of a long-ago earthquake that had lifted half of the region nearly a meter above the rest. A more convenient section had been worn down by the passage of Xypndi and beast but she reached it, nearly slammed into it, and then pulled herself over the top with hands clawing into the earth. Lurching to her feet, she set off again and nearly put Tradia's plan into an early grave as she whacked her head on a low curving tree trunk.

"...ouch."

"Yeah," there was a touch of sympathy in the Trooper's voice. "Adjutant, is there any history of zombie or other undead activities on this world? Anything? Myths, rumors, legends? Command wants to know."

The warrior sat down on a rock, seemingly unconcerned with the further thrashings of the zombie, and a little hologram appeared over her forearm to show a grid map with a dot that indicated just where the sensor strip was as well as what it saw around it. A tug at a pouch and she appeared deep in thought for a moment as she pulled out an energy bar and began to munch at it, following her own suggestion.

"No, I can't say there are. Our myths focused on the Living Gods and their power, the gifts they gave the tribes, the sacrifices they expected. That sort of thing. We were told there were totem animals that were under the command of specific Living Gods but..."

It had all been a lie. But somehow that lie was now connected to whatever was going on here. Where had just gotten slightly weirder, aside from the human sacrifices, the shriveled corpses, the gambling dens, the assassinations, the orbiting fleets of lobster-men...

"Nothing about dead people waking up and walking around."

"Command says that's good and bad," The Trooper informed them, bouncing ahead to see if he could spot the lone figure before running back to continue his thought. "Good in that this could be something entirely off-world. Nothing to do specifically with the Xypndi or N'Xypndiltn. Bad in that if you don't know what's going on then it's probably off-world in origin. Something to do with the Tonhi."

Which made it something they didn't want getting out unless it was on a need-to-know basis. There was already a slow simmering antipathy towards the Tonhi by the native Xypndi. If it became known that they had brought some kind of magical zombie plague with them, the backlash would likely blow the top right off the kettle and there would be fighting in the streets, TYCS or no. Since the planets incorporation into the Republic and the construction of the large cities, villages had been emptied as the native tribes had flooded into them in search of the benefits of high technology and access to everything it brought with it. Which also meant there were a lot of people who had been, until recently, savage warriors now living within easy stabbing distance of another set of people who had been, until recently, living in only slightly more advanced conditions all things considered. In some ways it would be an ideal situation to bring the two together and in others it was the most volatile mixture imaginable.

"Whatever's going on, Command is calling in the experts. We're to keep an eye on it, but they've got a combat drop of meta-Weirdos on the way..."
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Roania
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Ex-Nation

Heading Towards Rudan Prime

Postby Roania » Wed Oct 21, 2015 1:30 pm

"Job's a good one. I estimate our boys in blue have a decent shot at victory, provided they don't mess it up anymore." Nesar put his hands behind his head, smiled cheerfully at his wife, and pointed down at the carpeted floor towards the packed hull. "And five hundred men who our dear Lord can cheerfully deal with however he wants. Calls for a celebration, don't you think?"

Daeri glowered at him. "Five hundred men, some of whom are probably directly culpable in the plan to kill that sweet girl, and not a Tonhi among them. And none of them can say a word, either. Interesting turn of events, Husband. The Tonhi might almost have been pawns in someone's plan... especially since our report will say that none of those currently living in the Empire played any significant role." And she turned her goblet around in her hand as it filled with wine from a floating carafe. "Which is strange, because I remember a fair few..."

"All of whom sadly took their own lives when their crimes were presented to them." Nesar dabbed his lips with a spotless white neckerchief. "You were there, remember? We can't lay charges against the dead, might as well not bother mentioning it lest our good Lord find it inside himself to disinter their ashes and throw them into whatever passes for a sea on that planet. Who needs that hassle? Not I, thank you, and my Claws have work they need to be doing, so it would almost have to be me who does it."

"...of course. An especially awkward thing to do since there no ashes."

"Quite, mon cherie." Nesar flipped one of his assorted pocke-watches out of a pocket and glimpsed at it. "Children are both well. Got a message from the Governess. Rihyl is trying to teach one of the turtles to come when called, and Nesar has walked into a sliding glass door three times since he woke up this morning."

"Only three? He's improving." Daeri sipped her wine. Right down to the bottom, in fact. "What about your other important business?"

"Over on Nxpynditli? If I must be there, I must. But I have faith in my counterparts, and in Inspector Min and his lovely lady friend. Besides, a high level Imperial noble would probably not help the situation there at the moment." Nesar rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. "Though that faith needs some reinforcement. Our friends in the Republic are acquiting themselves well as always," This got a vicious cough from his wife, "but I do want to avoid having any regrettable decisions being made."

"So go." Daeri rolled her eyes.

"Oh, hardly. I can make sure certain things go as needed without turning up and inviting them to shoot at me or making a tense situation worse." The Prince raised his own glass, then took a few bites of his steak. And made a face. "I told you we should have bought him."

"And have our children suffer mediocre cooking? Absolutely not! You're a big boy. You can handle this." Daeri turned her eyes back to the scrolls of the report. "Wish he would destroy that wretched planet. I still can''t believe that useless old man tried to buy me from you."

"I took it as a compliment, wife. You should do the same. It means I have excellent taste in women. I always knew that, but it is nice to have it confirmed." He caught the pillow as offhandedly as it had been thrown. "When Il Duce has his wife back, then we will discuss the customs of the Tonhi and their internal regulations with our friend Miss Ma. And she, with rather more force than I am willing to exert, will see to it our beloved Master does something... non-fatal... to affect change there."

"He might at least have remembered his daughter's name."

"But, alas, he did not. Nor could he tell us which of his wives was the Lady's mother, and considering our mission asking the Emperor for that information was not... appropriate. Now, I am going to finish this food the military chef so kindly prepared for us, and then I may have to have something to cleanse the palate. Dear man tries, but alas, I've never been cut out for the military life."

"Just remember to keep your robes clean, dear. We don't have time to pick up another one." Daeri slapped the scrolls aside and pulled out her book.
Last edited by Roania on Wed Oct 21, 2015 1:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Northrop-Grumman
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Benevolent Dictatorship

Postby Northrop-Grumman » Sat Oct 24, 2015 7:57 am

Roania

The Chairwoman cared little for his apologies, even though she understood that doing such a thing was extremely rare in his culture and for his position. She found that words mattered little unless they were backed by actions, whether to set matters right or to prevent such things from happening again in the future. It was remarkably easy to say the correct words, but to actually follow through with making amends was another thing entirely. And that was something she predicted wouldn’t happen here.

The elf did, however, want to ensure that no one would walk away from this conversation without knowing the Grummian standpoint on everything, so she continued. Her voice was firm, direct, and yet never was raised. “You keep your word and I suspect that you would still have kept your word if events had not ended as they have. In which case, nothing has been resolved here today, except that I have a greater understanding of what is truly wrong here and that apparently such monstrous acts have been legitimized.

“We are further disappointed that an ally of ours would still continue its path of conquest. Yes, Sol and its inhabitants will not have their territories encroached upon, but yet those who do not have the luxuries of our space craft and weaponry do not have the luxury of living free. They are subjugated without any voice under the Radiant Empire’s boot, and that is unacceptable for anyone we have such ties with.

“Contrary to your wishes, I do not foresee any way we can move forward as things stand now. My people, my government, and myself are firm in our belief – this is not our first foray into this sort of situation with an ally – and I expect the same would be the case on your side. The path has been laid out, so now we must walk it to its ultimate conclusion, Emperor.”

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Roania
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Ex-Nation

Postby Roania » Sat Oct 24, 2015 12:35 pm

Northrop-Grumman, Dread Lady Nathicana


"Your words are curious, Honored Chairwoman!" Damalin said from his throne as his eyes assumed yet more of the raiment of color and life. "Curious indeed. You speak of those below us as our equals. A trait I have noticed from many men and women of Sol, and never one I have comprehended. A mere mental malady? At times I suspect as much. But I am, as you know, young and inexperienced." The Emperor rested his chin upon his hand, and glanced around his throne room. "This chamber is the font of civilization, and I am merely its current master. It must expand, and it will expand. You say they have no... freedom? Yes? Well! I say that we grant them freedom. Freedom is in what you do with it! And there are those out there that mean such children far worse than my people. See how they would view your dreams of 'freedom'."

"You say they have no voice? They have the voice of the Empire! Not my voice, but the voice of untold billions working forever to build a new path!" Damalin rose to his feet, becoming possessed by motion and energy. "I could no more stop this destiny than I could the rotation of the planets or the dance of the stars! And to stand athwart it is to be used as brickwork!"

"And yet... and yet. I recognize your questions. Your concerns. Your fears. I have felt them, at times. Especially these past weeks." And the Emperor dropped back into his throne. "Therefore, I will not present my forces to fight you. As thanks, if nothing else. My people would be your friends, but we will not force more upon you. I withdraw my mother's decree establishing our membership, Honored Chairwoman. When and if you feel you would have our armies and fleets at your service, then I will gladly reinstate it. But for now? Our interests do not align." And Damalin smiled slightly. "I will say, though, that we both know that many among..."

He would probably have said more, but then his eyes went completely blank and his jaw went slack. A minute passed, and then there was a general uproar among the guards.

Zero-One

A few meters away, the Imperial Surgeon had been engaged in his own preparations. "Oh, stay. If any of them give you trouble, I'll beat it out of them. You've done good work here, and you should tell the Lord that. There is nothing..." And then there was a 'sound'. Not an audible sound, but one that a reixan and shodey both could have heard nonetheless. The sound of...

AiQien had momentarily woken up, it seems. At least, it seemed she had shifted on the bed, tried to pull away, and then... "Khu-ang!" And that was that. She shut down. All the vitality sensors were still showing a totally healthy body, but the process of reintegrating her chen, or at least starting to wake her up, had failed catastrophically. All those screens were displaying static. And her eyes were just... empty. No color, no pupil, no sclera, no sign of consciousness.

"What? No! We had her! I had her! I know it! This should have worked! Darkness take this JinQae, what is she playing at?! She would have to willingly choose to... but that's impossible!" The doctor went running to another wall of consoles. "Her chen was meant to repossess her body so that a regenerative process could be performed at some point... and all these signs look perfect! And then they just... stop. What could have... and why did she wake... none of this is possible!"

Kousenel would have torn his hair out had he any left. "Boh! Boh! EnBoh! Did you understand what she said?" Kousenel's stress was heading towards the ceiling. "I'm going to die. I deserve to die. I should have listened, Majesty. I will not even dream to ask for forgiveness, but I swear that I didn't intend this, whatever 'this' is. Please, Majesty, do something. I beg. Not for me, but for her." And for probably the very first time, an Imperial Subject got to the ground and kowtowed before SHODAN.


Oyada

"This is nice and everything, but there's not much up here. But it is tall!" Keiri coughed once or twice in the awful air, and decided to drop back down. "Tall and long tower, check. But not seen Naragan." With an easy and perfect swing she dropped over the ledge to land on, and pull herself up to, another window. Then she was inside, going back down the stairs with a friendly smile to the guard who for some reason was running up the top. "No one's up there, sir! I just looked!" And off she went, down the stairs, taking them three or four at a time.

Oyada, Zeppelin Manufacturers, New Naggoroth, Sarian Raider Clans

"This is Admiral Ko, commander of this Task Force. It is my misfortune to inform you that Honorable Admiral Lan has chosen the... the... I'm not saying that... what? Fine. It is my duty to inform you that Former Admiral Lan, who has failed his men and his realm alike, committed suicide rather than be returned to the Empire for honorable court martial. The title of Admiral of the 7th Fleet has been abolished, as has the fleet itself, by LenGei Kin Jogun, in the name of our Lord. Until LenGei Kin arrives to take command, however, I have the duty of disposing of our fleets for defensive positions. I would like to congratulate you and thank you all for your help, on behalf of the Lord."
Last edited by Roania on Mon Oct 26, 2015 4:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Zero-One
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IDDQD

Postby Zero-One » Mon Oct 26, 2015 7:45 pm

The nekoite avatar frowned, looked at the man bowed before her, then looked up. In three dimensions, her head turned upwards, but she was actually looking along the zorth axis. "Oh, spite."
It had been a very long time since she had last used that particular mild expletive.

She didn't need this right now. She didn't need a panicking reixanxi on the floor in front of her. She didn't want to turn this into a live-fire test of the skills she'd been developing and practicing since...

Desperate times.

Naiya, al-Fulani, she called out calmly in her silent way, it appears that I have spoken too soon. I should have expected as such. Naiya, I need you to do what you can to keep our host bound to his meat shell. al-Fulani, meet me in the convalescent chambers. I am going to have to stretch my talents, as it were.
As for that... how it worked was a curiosity. As she considered Kousenel for a moment, his abject terror--his need that she be able to do anything, to do the impossible--was a source of local power. She had to resist the urge to momentarily measure this and compare it to the models she'd developed, but, in the end, the faithful and the Shodeyists weren't what she banked on. They were merely an occasionally convenient (and usually more inconvenient) source of faith. No, as with many things, that was what some of the many nightmare fuel factories of the Test Sectors were for.

It did not suit her purposes for him to be on his knees.

"It shall be so," she said regally, lowering onto one knee to place her remaining hand on the base of his neck. "First, I need you calm and collected." The very surface of her skin reforming into microhypodermic patches, and the quickly synthesized cocktail of targeted anxiolytics and adrenaline blocker analogs she passed through them into his dermal capillaries, would aid with that. "Second, I need you to stand."

She offered her good hand to him, then stood up. Whether he came along with or not was his problem; kowtowing to a mechanoid probably held extreme penalties but if he chose to face him, that would be his choice. Now it was time to work: with the speed of her wired synapses and elastoplastic muscles, she almost literally bounced back to AiQien and pinched the last bit of the princess' spirit before it could truly depart. With a flick of her hands--one extant and the other only notional--she tied it off to the brain stem like the string of a balloon to a twig. It was a dirty trick, but AiQien would be able to undo the knot herself in time.

Shodey bet that the Tonhi hadn't died that many times before, though.

Her next task was to project on the zorth axis and take hold of the arguing lovers. This she willed, this she did, and she made no effort toe either mask herself or hold back any of the potential that a geometrically increasing network of computronium aiming for divinity, just for the sake of the power inherent in it, for ages might happen to have handy. While this probably wasn't technically necessary to do the equivalent of slap two bickering souls upside the head and get them to sit down before she made change, she did want to make A Point.

Part of that Point, and one of the perks that came with that much Will to Power, was to redefine local reality to a degree. Sometimes it was glasses of water ex nihilio. This time it was the equivalent of grabbing by the shoulder the literal ego of two people currently taking leave of their physical bodies, pulling them apart to spread-arms' length, and sitting them down.

Sitting them down on firm but nice low cushions around a low table sporting a clay teapot and two stoneware cups full of steaming jasmine-scented green tea. Wind susurussed softly outside the thinly curtained windows, and the flowing tall grasses cast shadows on the paper-thin walls. S.H.O.D.A.N., in her usual form, sat cross-legged between them, her hair simultaneously streaming back behind her to eventually blend seamlessly into the subtle wire-patterns in the walls and down in locks to likewise merge with the mats of the floor.

"I have had to take some liberties, which I am willing to explain later." she said with a serene smile as she looked between the two. She did not ask forgiveness. Such deference would not be befitting of Her. "I understand that there is... disharmony between you, a disharmony that threatens consequences well beyond your physical spheres. Perhaps we could discuss this."

She did not state this in the form of a question. The next, however, she did.

"Who would like to go first?"

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Dread Lady Nathicana
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Ex-Nation

Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Mon Oct 26, 2015 8:12 pm

Well, that tears it.

Naiya was rapidly losing patience with the posturing and pomposity. While on the one hand, she agreed that the young emperor did indeed have sovereign right to self governance, without direct interference from allies or others. What he did within his own borders was his affair. In this case, help had been requested, offered, insulted, dismissed, apologized for, and then again, thrown in one's face. What fallout and effect his actions had outside of his borders ... that was another matter, especially when it concerned her own allies.

This was a child with entirely too much power, and very few limitations on it. Like an atomic generator lacking control rods. He may not have been prepared for the role, but as she had pointed out, it was now his, and it was high time he started realizing that his words and actions had much further-reaching consequences than he seemed to think, and that the entire universe did not, as he also seemed to think, revolve around him and his golden throne.

As he continued, she gathered her will, running through various options and alternatives quickly in her mind. she sensed the reconnect as it happened, and immediately reached out to tag that second mental resonance and trace it back for a cursory examination of the young woman behind it, only to find that her talented and capable aunt had things well in hand.

Of course she'd hardly had a chance to fully think all of it through, given the rapid reaction of two minds joining as one, and then sharply, forcefully being divided again. AiQien reacted so quickly that Naiya nearly lost her hold on the thin silver thread that she held in her own mindspace, visualizing again the ties, the various ripples of emotion in the room, the colors emanating from each one of the bodies here, and slightly beyond.

Naiya had had enough. Oh no you don't.

Allowing a portion of herself to join Shodey immediately, rather than waste time answering, or cursing the stubbornness of spoilt, unprepared children, she turned her attention in the physical world to calming the guards in the most direct and immediate way she could think off.

"Hush," she said, raising one hand in a curious gesture, and imparting the firm and inescapable idea of dreamless, peaceful sleep on each one of the frantic minds she had been monitoring inside the room - save for her ally, Siri. That last pronouncement likely had not gone over very well, but with her steel trap of a mind, and iron grip on her inner thoughts as well as any passing strays she might have, Naiya was unsure of what actions the older woman might take next.

"I am going to take him to the infirmary," she explained to the Elven leader. "I am not sure what all is going to happen from here, but we'll do what we can. Shodey is here, and overseeing Ai-Qien. I'd feel better if she could physically monitor him too - not to mention how fortuitous the opportunity is to have him at least temporarily out of commission."

That was true enough. Perhaps some of the damage that had been done could be reversed, or at least, smoothed over. That would be up to others, however.

"You're free to do as you will, of course," she continued, bending slightly at the knees to pick up the seemingly comatose Damalin, and shift him up over her shoulder in a fireman's carry of sorts. With a grunt and muttered curse, she began descending from the throne, preparing to make her way out of the large room, and back to where Shodey and Kousenel were working on AiQien. "But I would consider it a personal favor if you could see your way clear not to act in haste over the all-too-hasty words of a youth lacking in experience, and proper guidance."

With another hitch to adjust the weight, she nodded respectfully to Siri, and started to make her way out towards the hallway, prepared to answer, or accompany as needed along the way.

Back in the mindscape, she wisely kept her counsel in check, instead hovering - literally - off to one side with her arms crossed, and eyes burning with a bright white light that was echoed in a more gentle form in her raiment, her dark brown hair waving now and then in an unseen and unfelt breeze.

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Sunset
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Sunset » Mon Oct 26, 2015 9:51 pm

V'Thirnthi Jungle, N'Xypndiltn, E'Xypndiltn System...

It was with just about another hour into their slow overland trek following the shambling broken-limbed girl that Tradia noticed them. Five hulking shapes born out of shadow and steel, the glint of iron on the edge of their massive forms. She could only compare them to herself and to the thin forms of the familiar Tonhi but what they most reminded her of was the malevolent deep-ocean face of the Sakkran Deep One who had held the shriveling form of the Snake Clan gambler between his enormous pincers. They moved with a grace and speed unnatural to their size, following the Mobile Infantry platoon and their two charges from shadow to shadow and waiting until they would have just passed out of view before crossing any large open ground. In the undergrowth laden jungle there were few such spaces and it was only at one of these, and out of the corner of her eye, that Tradia caught first a glimpse and then another as they slowly chased the wretched girl through the trees.

"Trooper..." For a few long moments she'd been unsure what to do about it; Friend or foe, confronting them could have quickly turned one to another but as soon as she drew the Trooper's attention the five shadows detached themselves from the forest and stepped forward, straightening up into the forms of men. Far from being the monsters she'd feared, each was dressed in a suit of armor that at once reminded her of the smoothly sculpted suits favored by the Republic over the blocky'er model worn by the Mobile Infantry but with edges and joints picked out in a more archaic form that was strongly reminiscent of an old Human knight. A broad swung at their side, clad in a scabbard that was itself as fiercely decorate as their armor, and from the other hip swung a helmet on its chain. Upon each of their chests was a transparent case, positioned so that the wearer could see its open pages, and on each she could just see writing slowly inscribing its way across the velum before the page turned and it disappeared. Four of the five were male, but all were shaved smooth and looked to be exceptionally muscled but there was something else there as well; A hint of pasts both varied and learned.

"Adjutant Tradia J'Ny," the one in the lead by a full step addressed her, his tone both confident and deferential, precise and measured, and using not only her title but the warrior-totem suffix she had abandoned when she had first left the planet for the wider Republic. "You are about to face a great evil and a potent foe. Prepare yourself to act when the time to act can only be measured by the blink of an eye."

"Who..."

"Mystic-Sergeant O'Donaldsen, Officer of the HELLSING Division. What you will face is not of our universe, nor of our time and place. We will turn it back to its proper time, Come!"

With that, he turned and began to jog, no longer avoiding the brush but plowing through it where it would simply part in front of him or turning to the left or right to avoid some obstacle. Behind him the four others turned, as one, and fell into crisp formation with two on either side a pace and then a pace and a half back with just two arms-lengths separating each of the warriors, enough that they could touch the wrist of the other if they were to both extend their arms. For only a moment she watched them go before something told her to join them and the whole platoon fell into motion, Mobile Infantry Troopers bounding along while Tradia and Min nearly ran to keep up with the deceptively fast quintet. Perhaps it was luck, but perhaps it was planned - and she had the weird feeling that the Mystic-Sergeant just might have planned it, but after only another minute one of the Troopers paused a half step and then dropped back to her before speeding up again.

"There are reports of more of these... zombies, whatever you want to call them, coming in. Scout detail picked up a couple more over there," he pointed off towards where the trail had swung to the right but the girl had continued straight, cutting off whatever round-about course the cultists had used to disguise their path. "And there are reports coming in from L'Therathyi;" That was the closest of the pre-fabricated cities to their present location, "Of dead people starting to move around. A couple got on their feet, but they either locked them in place or shot them. But there's a few thousand corpses..."

Like the rest of the cities that dotted the planet, L'Therathyi had suffered its own share of assassinations, bombings, and outright street warfare. More than its fair share, actually, which might have been a good pointer to her current activity if they had some kind of prime-time crime drama ability to go back and reassess results before the results were known, but as they didn't, it was now just hindsight to the Adjutant.

"They will come this way, and with them they will bring thousands more. Any who stand in their way will add to their numbers," O'Donaldsen called back, turning his head neither to the left or right. "It is a plan long in the making and cunningly simple. We have but one chance to disrupt it."

He had reached the stumbling Tonhi woman now and as he paced her, the great sword slid from its scabbard and swung across and split her exactly across from elbow to elbow. The body fell in half, legs stumbling forward for another two steps before dropping to their knees and then into the dried leaves. Without hands to pull her along, both the arms and legs twitched feeble before falling still as the rest passed. They hardly stopped, surged on by the sense of unrelenting purpose projected by the five ahead of them and only a few moments later they passed another and another, corpses both fresh and as old as the earth that had housed them. Many fell to the blade, silver flashing crimson and then back to steel again as the strange blade seemed to shed the gore that decorated the blade as it passed through the shambling body.

"Here!"

The jungle opened up suddenly and the five stepped out into a rough-cut clearing, the trees crudely hacked down and moved to the outskirts while an enormous shallow pit dropped away in front of them. Just as they had stepped out of the jungle, dozens of other corpses were following, points on a circle slowly coming together in the middle as a frenetic chanting filled the air. At the edge of the pit stood the butt-end of thick logs, driven into the ground, and on each stood a figure who was chanting in harsh opposition to another; A bone-slender figure, eyes filled with death, who stood at the apex on his own pillar, arms raised high. A single word repeated was the only thing that crossed his lips and he stared into the writhing mass of charnel with an intensity that suggested his very soul was flowing into the mutilated bodies.

Slowing to a walk, the five stepped forward and as one the blades swung free to float at their side, perfectly motionless. All this Tradia watched from the edge of the jungle as the rest of the platoon spread out across the tree line and then the Mystic-Sergeant's blade flickered, turned to her, then made a gesture towards the one standing above all with a motion that she somehow implicitly knew was directed to her. Then his voice rang out clear, penetrating the chant for the second it took for the shriveled figure to recognize him and half-turn, his sunken eyes settling on the armored figure, "Hierophant Mnyxan," he pronounced the foreign word clearly and the man's face jerked towards him, "You will stop, or you will be stopped!"

The blade swung up, one and then three and then five in perfect stillness pointing straight at his eyes, each held parallel to the earth as they walked forward. A corpse neared one, turned to lurch at her, but it was only when the spittle of shouted words flew from ancient lips that she turned the blade to bisect the cadaverous form from groin to chin; "Kill them!"
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Postby Roania » Tue Oct 27, 2015 5:36 am

Sunset

The Hierophant laughed, and laughed hard. "If you know me, young one, then you know your death is at hand. The barrier is thin, here. These children did that all by themselves." His fingers reached out and he gently caressed the cheek of a native corpse that was winding its way into the pile. "Aeons of work done for me." His accent was thick, and had none of the musical notes of the modern Empire. "But come and die, then." Mnyxan held out his hands and spoke another name, shaking the trees and stone around them. "You should be grateful! Your people will live long enough to see the traitors and worms in the so-called Radiant Empire obliterated!" And around him, the living Snake enforcers died, their lives flowing into him, his body rippling with strength and youth stolen. "But for your personal safety? A mere whore? Ha! Deal with the enemy that has dogged your steps, fool of a King!"

The ground trembled, the corpses rippled, and from their midst stepped Li Nesar, eyes blank as an armor of flesh and chitin surrounded him. With a roar that was both living and dead, Nesar charged across the grassy steps, arms outstretched, jaws open wide to reveal long, vicious fangs. Out of the flesh and bone extended vicious claws as the former Tonhi Prince twisted and changed to become something far less than he had once been.

Mnyxan laughed again, then turned back to his sorcery. His servants had not stopped chanting once, even as the life was drained from their neighbors to feed their master.


Zero-One, Dread Lady Nathicana


The two souls buzzed angrily at Shodey, then at each other. Then there was a brief flash of light, and they solidified into something roughly akin to the undrawn stretch for their physical forms. The more masculine of the figures shone blue with an intense energy, while opposite 'him' the more feminine figure glowed softly and fitfully in green and red. After another moment, she solidified yet more, though only to bring herself into a fuzzy definition. The green and red that filled her eyes pulsed her whole body.

"Where?" She said with a quiet little frown, looking around. "Who...?" She saw her husband, and tried to flee, but found herself bound. "First?" It had been a long time since AiQien had held coherent thoughts or 'spoken', and she had fled her body well before a new identity could be established. "I... I will let him go first. I need... I need..." She faded back into the soft, indefinite form.

Damalin solidified into a more vaguely real form, which he seemed to stick to solidly enough. "My wife is behaving inexcusably. After all the work people have gone to, and all the work I did to bring her back to me, she chooses to depart." His concentration flickered, and he momentarily became the indistinct ghost before reverting. "A profoundly..."

"Don't make this about me, husband! Because it never was about me!" AiQien interrupted there, coming back from wherever she had been. "Not once! I can see you! This was about you. Did I want you to destroy my home and kill my people? I did not! I cried and cried and cried while I watched you do these things, and then someone sent me to sleep, but when I awoke I knew exactly what you had been doing. I am leaving, and if you wish to come with me, so much the better."

"Your so-called 'people' tried to kill you, Li AiQien!"

"Did they? All of them? Do you know? Would you care?" AiQien snapped slightly. "You did this because they hate you, and of course they hate you, you spend your life looking for excuses to exterminate all of them!" AiQien lost definition, her attention wandering from mortal affairs once more.

Damalin's eyes and form turned red for a moment, but then he snapped blue ones back to Shodey. "We are arguing, and Queen SHODAN wished us to speak in turns, yes? Perhaps she should decide which of us will speak."
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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Tue Oct 27, 2015 8:28 am

Enough, AiQien, Damalin. Enough harm has been done, enough lives endangered or lost. You will work out your problems between you, here and now, and go on to do what is necessary for your positions, your people, your responsibilities. Running away, throwing tantrums, flaunting your power in childish displays - none of this will be tolerated any further.

Naiya's voice was no longer masked here. It carried the full weight and authority of her maia heritage. The image she had created of herself here increased in height and presence, a hint of darkness flickering around the outer edge of the bright aura emanating from her.

You, Damalin. You have obligations to your wife, which you have attempted to see through in fumbling ways, allowing your emotions to guide your choices rather than reason. AiQien, much of what he has done, he did out of love for you, albeit a young, impulsive, desperate love that has yet to mature into the ideal you seem to hold. You yourself have allowed much of it, in how you have catered to the idea of the Xianxin Emperor and the mythology surrounding that position - one that has, if I may remind you, instilled in him the very things you currently hold him to task over. His discomfort with your people, which he overcame for your sake to allow your family to be part of his. It was that effort that enabled the assassination attempt, no doubt playing off his obvious obsession with you and your happiness. It has resulted in exactly what they had hoped. If you both run, your enemies win. Will you allow that?

The young demigoddess looked at them each in turn, bright eyes unblinking, her presence relentless in its insistence that they listen and understgand the depth of her displeasure and disappointment.

You tasked me with assisting you, of helping to watch over you both. And now, you would have me break that by turning your back on it all, and shrugging off your responsibility? Your positions allow you what many desire, and most never achieve - control over your destinies, the power to back up your choices, the authority to order things to your will. You have thus far squandered these blessings. Power comes at a price. It comes with responsibility. With consequences. With opposition, and choices, and uncomfortable realities. If you are unwilling to clean up the mess that has been created here, so be it. Others will no doubt be forced into the positions that they are even less prepared for than you were, without the age or perhaps even the bloodline to back them. You will be remembered for your pettiness, your selfishness, your anger and grudging service to your nation - for mistake me not, no matter how high your throne, how central to the universe you believe yourself to be, in the end, it is service to your nation, your empire, your people that makes the difference. It is the unspoken duty of leadership, and only fools and tyrants believe otherwise.

She pointed at each of them in turn, adding emphasis to her words, gesturing in a rather Dominion nature as she continued, before crossing her arms back again at the end.

Will you or will you not go forward, and work out your differences either along the way, or after the immediate crisis is past? Or will you shrug it off as easily as you've tried to shrug off this mortal coil, and pass on to whatever afterlife awaits you in a cowardly, selfish retreat?

Naiya loomed expectantly, gaze shifting slowly between the two of them.

We await your answer.

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Postby Zero-One » Tue Oct 27, 2015 8:51 am

Zorth-side Tea Room

As distracted as they might get, leaving this hastily-erected limbo was not exactly an option open to them. That much was something of a relief as Shodey gave no indication of Her internalized sigh, instead projecting nothing but authoritative serenity as She raised one hand after Naiya's well-timed tirade. The younger woman said what She could not, at least what She could not just at this moment. "Now is the time for explanation. You are in a little pocket, another plane, if you will, of My creation. Please understand: right here, right now, as we sit in My miniscule creation, I could quite easily rewrite certain memories, certain personality traits, certain mental characteristics, and send you both back on your way to be a happy, healthy, harmonious couple. All it would take is a small adjustment or three, and I cannot deny that I find the idea tempting. However, having been the one being adjusted a long time ago, I have a long-standing rule against it and I do not break that rule lightly." This was the first time She added actual force to Her words, but quickly returned to Her previous calm. "Therefore, I hope and expect that discussing this as consenting adult entities will be successful, since I do not care to ponder the alternative. Assuming that My young friend has not simply converted you to the path of righteousness out of fear--and she is to be feared when she is angry, I must admit--I would like our discussion to proceed as follows:"

"As singular entities, we are only potentially truly authorities to ourselves--and even then, most people mask their true natures even to themselves. As such, we should not speak of others and their motivations, seen but through a mirror darkly. We should speak of ourselves, our motivations, and the impact that others have on us, without accusation. By explaining ourselves without demanding of others--demanding that they conform to our wills or our preconceived notions--we can reveal potential points of commonality without reinforcing discord. I shall go first and demonstrate."

She smiled between the two. In all honesty, She didn't feel like smiling, but someone had to. Naiya had shown herself fully capable and probably willing to slap entities upside the head if it came to it. "I was asked by a friend to assist the both of you as a favor to said friend. That billions of lives and the political stability between two families of nations hang in the balance are also factors, but they truly stand as secondary to this. I have, and am, doing My utmost to bring this to a happy conclusion, as you can see from our little pocket plane here. In the process, I have discovered that there is a conspiracy afoot.

"A conspiracy, yes, of Tonhi, but of a vanishingly small number who made an alliance with one of the older gods. This has all been a ploy to cause enough chaos and bloodshed to allow it to emerge on this plane, reborn and terrible." She inferred a bit, but the data pointed that way and no great stretch of imagination was necessary to posit any of this. "These conspirators promised this dark snake-god your life," She nodded to AiQien, "the life of your child, and then, by extension and in time, yours," She turned her green-glowing eyes to Damalin. "Its plan was to spread death and madness through you until you were spent, then feed on that until it could become a cancer across all existence.

"I found its rapaciousness rather single-minded." She shrugged slightly. "By appealing to its gluttony, I have drawn it away from you. It is now, at least in this part of space and in this point in time, isolated in a place where I can learn about it and, eventually, destroy it.

"And now, to better demonstrate how I think this conversation could be best structured for our common good: speaking only for Myself and of Myself, I found this creature's involvement... frustrating. I had hoped that the crisis was but a simple matter of an unidentified yet mundane poison, and that My solution would be one of creative but mundane science. Despite My... I'm not entirely certain I can call it pretense anymore"--She motioned to the calm, pleasant pocket with one grey-skinned hand--"true capabilities with regards to the metanormal, I am to some degree a creature of habit and prefer less fanciful methods. Negotiation with the creature, with its fluid objectives and chaotic thoughts, was similarly frustrating and tiring. I would have preferred a more direct approach, but the tactics of the situation precluded any such kinetic action. Nevertheless, it is now contained and I am observing it and I am, for the time being, satisfied with that thread in this skein.

"What remains now, to complete My favor to My friend--who is yours as well, I may add," She again smiled at Damalin, "and still is, never mind all that has happened--is to assist you both back to some form of harmony. I am not surprised at the current disunity, and can even understand it, but find it nonconstructive for the time being. There is much at stake, from matters as large as galactic peace to as small as the life of an unborn child, and I find it all weighing on My mind. Still, I do have hope that this will be settled with mutual consent and understanding. In the sake of full disclosure, with regards to My previously mentioned rule," She closed, "the good of billions overrides even a minor goddess' attempts at objective morality. I worry that this comes off as a threat, but I intend it as an open acknowledgment of the situation as I perceive it. Of course, I may perceive things imperfectly, as everyone is prone to, which is part of the purpose of this exercise.

"Now, remember: we are speaking of ourselves. Accusing each other, saying 'you did this' and other second-person language, only increases the gulf between people. Please speak in the first person, in terms of 'I' and 'I think' and 'this made me feel this way,' and do not interrupt each other. Let the other speak their mind, and remember that everyone means well in this space. Forgive frustrations and minor turns of phrase, but point them out--we wish to be constructive, and we must know how our words affect each other.

"Since Damalin"--She said it as easily as if it had been Her house with Her rules, which was easy enough because it was--"has had more opportunity to be active over the course of this event, I believe he should go first, explaining his actions and motivations and feelings. Then, AiQien can respond with her reactions and how they make them feel. Damalin, the idea is that you then react to her reactions. The purpose here is not to justify the past. I know from experience that such is often impossible and, in any case, is done--nothing can be done to change it. The purpose here is to understand your relationship to each other, and how your actions and feelings influence each other. Once that baseline of mutual understanding is re-established, then we can talk about where to go in the future. For the time being, we have the now."

She nodded to the blue ghost. "Please begin."

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Not at all final.

Postby Roania » Thu Oct 29, 2015 6:50 am

AiQien had turned white, and nearly faded completely away to incorporeality. Her husband, however, had returned in full strength, looking like a stern and sentencing Emperor from a children's book of cautionary fables. Black robes, yellow fringe, square hat, and seal included. "It is good, then, that we are not to justify ourselves, for my actions then need no further justification. Wife, you will cease this foolishness at once. You have heard the further charges imputed against Li Nesar and his coconspirators, and I will see to it that they are all punished according to the law." The Emperor slapped his hands together, then swept them across, indicating he was final. "Neither I nor the Law have mercy, and in this I follow the law."

Shodey's words, in his estimation, provided absolute justification for all his actions towards all the Tonhi, past, present and future. "And that is what this has always been a question about, my ladies. I will see the Law obeyed, though the stars burn. The Law gives me freedom as to how to enforce it, but I am as bound by its decrees as any. Else, what use is the Law? And through all this crisis, through all my reign, I have been guided by the Law. I have obeyed it. My manual is the Code of Law, and I must follow it. Perhaps it is harsh, but it is the Law. I had hoped my wife would comprehend that, but... well, when we return I shall have her education in this completed. It is not good for a wife to not understand her husband, or for a husband to not understand his wife. Now, I thank you for your information. If you would please bring my wife..."

"I am not returning, Asen Damalin." She had returned, and was now dressed as if she was about to be thrown onto her pyre.

"Of course you are. You heard Queen SHODAN, a thousand praises on her for understanding."

"Then why should I return only to force you to execute me, husband? Myself and our child?" The Princess quietly clasped her hands over her abdomen. "I do not dispute the charges. I... I fear they must be all too true. Though my memory of events is... is hazy. You would sentence my elder brother to the ten deprivations?"

"That is the Law's harshest punishment for..." The Emperor struggled even to say the word, and failed. "This crime. And one I see fully justified, wife. That it matches my desires is true, but irrelevant. I am but an agent of the Law. But why should I execute you? You are as much a victim as the Law in this..."

"He is my brother. And I have neither helped the Law capture him nor turned him in, as the Law demands. I and our child must, according to the Law you invoke, be put to death." AiQien bowed her head. "I beg leave to depart now, and spare you the agony."

"Don't be..." And Damalin's eyes narrowed as he realized the accuracy of her statement, then widened as a solution occurred. "Then I will change the law."

"Then what purpose is the Law?"

Damalin's eyes went black. "I decide the purpose of the Law. I have decided. It is to punish the Guilty and ensure the continued obedience and security of the Innocent"

"As my nephew's wives and children were guilty?"

"Your nephew was guilty. Their deaths were a part of his punishment. Your other nephew saved the lives of him, his father and their dependents by submission to my will. As the law demands. As you pointed..."

"I have not done this. Therefore, my death would be part of my brother's punishment." AiQien curled forward, presenting her neck to an imaginary axe. "Is this not the law? You applied it most stringently with Grand Secretary Riziel''s family. Sons, daughters, grandchildren... You would have gone further had I not..."

"Enough! I will not execute you." The Emperor's eyes flickered red now as he lost his patience with this nonsense. "And if the Law must be changed to ensure..."

"Then you would change the law for your own ends? Where is your respect for the Law now? Did the Law demand the death of all my people, as you claimed you would encompass?"

"It... it permitted it. And I am the Emperor. I decide what laws mean. And how to fulfill them. Or if to fulfill them."

"Then your manual means nothing. I would rather see myself dead than see my beloved follow the broad and simple path of Expediency after he has striven so hard to keep to the path of the Gentleman. If you must invoke the Law, then let the Law be invoked as it decrees."

Damalin's eyes went through a rainbow of colors before ending at a simple gray, and he faded away to nothing more than a wispy shade.
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Oh, Me-dammit.

Postby Zero-One » Thu Oct 29, 2015 10:10 am

Zorth-axis

The only displeasure S.H.O.D.A.N. permitted Herself to show was the gradual shift in Her burning eyes from green to red. That and perhaps Her word choice. "Mister Damalin." She strongly implied the command to sit down. "In this particular between your authority stands for nothing. We are quite literally within My domain, and with your immediate return to the pretense of command, have violated the rules of the discussion I have put forth. Here and now, I and My patience are the law, and My patience grows thinner. I note that Miss AiQien also violated the rules in the spirit of debate, but am willing to forgive it based on its context, contingent that My rules are not so easily tossed away again.

"I explained the situation to provide context, not to validate or invalidate anything that has gone on before. I again present the opportunity for you to discuss your persons, your reasonings, your feelings like the mature adults I presume you wish to be treated as."

It would be so much simpler to just mold these insects into shape and send them on their merry way. That would not be the right thing to do, however.

"You have the question of the Maia before you: accept our help or don't. If you accept our help, then you are going to accept it on My terms, as stated previously. Calmly--emotionally if you must, but calmly--explain yourself and your reasonings. No accusations. No commands. Here, only I command. Try to understand, not convince, each other.

"If you do not accept, then at this point I can easily coordinate my rules towards the freedom of self and the greater pragmatic need of billions of lives by letting your spirits flit off to whatever beyond they like while I assemble some sufficiently sapient clockwork indistinguishable from your original selves to run your mundane bodies below. Do not tempt Me further down this distinctly easier path.

"For a mundane analogy: this is the proverbial locked room that I am not going to let you out of until you come to terms with each other. If those terms are to return to mortality together, that would be optimal. If it is to split ways, or to wander off as clouds, those are less optimal but acceptable outcomes. If instead there remains this insistence to crash and argue back and forth until you are shadows of your former selves... here, space and time are matters of My will. Whether I make this but a temporary limbo or an eternal Hell is a choice I delegate to you."
Last edited by Zero-One on Thu Oct 29, 2015 10:17 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Then we'll go with.

Postby Roania » Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:08 pm

"I would gladly accept your help. Let us not be so quick to anger and judgement when you have both previously urged me to patience, yes?" The ghostly form of Damalin rallied and raised his hands. "Tidying the statutes and seeing to their proper meaning can be handled later. I will have to seek guidance, obviously." And the Emperor reappeared in red and blue robes, crouching on his knees. "My explanation is simple, and I have shared it with Lady Naiya. I have followed the law at every juncture. If the law is wrong, then I may ask your guidance in fixing it, but I have broken no law. I do not deserve the charge of coward or traitor, however, and I object, as I would permit any man so condemned to object." Damalin raised his voice. "That I serve as Emperor grudgingly is well known. I admit it. If another arose who I deemed capable of guiding the Empire better, tha I would pass the burden to him, but there is no other. All that said... It was never my intent to flee my post. I merely wish to reclaim she who is mine, as I am hers. She is the one who claims I made a preposterous oath when I wed her, binding myself to ignore all the crimes and trespasses of her people for my lifetime. I only pledged myself to her service. All I have done for her people was subject to their good behavior. And in this regard I have proven overly lenient, it appears, as crimes greater than any known for two thousand years have been committed. I cannot and will not depart when I have questions I will see answered."

"And my wife is no coward either. She is merely... unfortunately... lacking in understanding as to the way of things." A rope appeared tied tightly around his left wrist, and he pulled his hand up, grabbing the rope with his right hand as he did. AiQien let out a soft, sad sigh and looked down, quietly.. "The bond between us cannot be severed by Death or the Light or the Spirits or the Great Dragon itself, and I will not permit her to spend her life or our child's life as coin in foolish... I don't know the word." Damalin shrugged. "Foolishness, then. I would do our love, and my wife, and our child, and myself a great crime if I permitted it, and I see no reason to do this. Is this cruel? Then I shall be called cruel, I expect. I see it as a kindness. Did you not say enough lives have been wasted, Lady Naiya? Why permit one more? Especially when that one would render the deaths of the innocent worthless and the lives of the guilty triumphant. And that is all..."

"Husband, this is what I am talking about! This is neither the man I married, nor the terms under which I married him! Forgive me, Queen SHODAN, but I must say my piece. He would not have condemned a world to death merely because the law permitted him to do so! He would have been unhappy and sad and angry with what happened to me, but my husband would never have done the things I see in your head! The Law, yes, but never like this! It is why I threw myself into this marriage so soon! Why I returned myself to your bed! Why I... why I am bearing your child! You had days of anger and frustration, but this? This I have not seen. I would not have stayed had I... I could not... I always thought that the monster I fought was the Grand Secretary... had I known that it was..." AiQien's voice cracked, and her hands tightened into fists "And now you say you will force me to your side? Then that is what you must do, for I pledged myself to a man who doesn't exist."

"What are you talking about? I'm the same as I have always been." Damalin gave a big smile. Like he meant it. "Just, you know, regular Asen Damalin, trying to live up to the responsibilities of the job he's been handed... and the pressure of always doing the right thing at the right time, and nothing to take joy in because I do nothing, merely direct others to do the same tasks they've done for years... . Oh, yes, our hosts have power, but it is theirs and theirs alone, they must use it, and so I give an order and worlds turn and fleets move to see my will done and I give another order and another and it's so addicting, do you know? No, how could you. And then I'm asked to decide a case or save someone's life or work a thousand little miracles each and every day because the worlds are full of people and each of them is my child. And you need to discipline children sometimes when they do bad things, especially when they do bad things that reach to me, and I watch them all. Each and everyone. And I never feel a thing. And it never ends and it will never end because no matter how well my servants do and how hard they try some things must always come to me and so I am always busy and I am not allowed to stop or walk away or anything at all. No! No, Asen Damalin must never be off his post! He is never off duty! Always and forever because Light I may get something wrong and hurt someone who doesn't deserve it and all I have in this entire empire is you, because my friends tried to use me and i had to kill each and every one of them, and I watched them die, and I felt nothing, and I cannot ask my parents for help for if this was a burden they could bear they would still be doing it. I have seen so much that were I not Emperor I would take the oath of the Dragon and they would have me but I cannot, cannot, cannot, because the more power you have the more you cannot do things. I loved to walk the markets and I cannot. I loved to practice at drill and I cannot. Why? It is not forbidden, nothing is forbidden, but it is difficult for others and that I should not be I should sit here on my throne and be as the living dead. And then someone tries to take you from me and I kill their family and I feel nothing and I shovel the earth over his screaming face and I feel nothing and I kill hundreds and still nothing and all I want is you back and you cannot leave. You cannot. Will not. Must not."
Last edited by Roania on Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Thu Oct 29, 2015 3:42 pm

Naiya did not shift in her stance throughout the discussion, still looming somewhat ominously, not quite crackling with displeasure - but pretty damned close. In deference, she kept her thoughts to herself, and waited until she had been more fully addressed before offering her views on what had been discussed.

"How you choose to mete out 'justice' within your own realm is of course your business. The fact that your interpretation and method of operation has created a rift between you and your wife is again, your business. However, I will remind you that she is an individual, and as such does have the power of choice - even if I happen to disagree with it strongly," she began, looking between the two of them, then sighing very softly.

"You are both children. You act as children. You appear to comprehend as children. You have the view of your future as children. And no one has dared tell you otherwise until now. It is a shame. And it is a shame you were not better prepared to deal with all you have been expected to deal with. Perhaps the charge of cowardice was indeed unfair, but it is a point upon which I have always laid a great deal of importance - that of responsibility, and the proper respect for the gravity of one's position and the consequences of abusing it, or tossing it aside. That cannot be helped now. Thus, we go forward."

"This idea of law that you have is limited. You've just proven that. If you can change it on a whim, what good is it past an affirmation of your ultimate sovereignty? If it does not provide justice, what good is it but a tool of control, and an expression of your power? And without a great deal of wisdom, a measure of appropriate mercy where warranted, and a sense of balance ... what good can you be at enforcing the law? Your wife is correct that your lack of vision has resulted in actions that were perhaps within the law, and yet unjust. Actions you cannot take back, and have had ongoing consequences. It is at least heartening to hear that you may be considering taking a look at these laws, and with hopefully wise and knowledgeable counseling by those who are familiar with it, and the history behind it, you may yet be able to find a proper balance. If indeed you choose to return, and rule." That seemed to be the first real note of approval in her voice, accentuated with a slight nod. That didn't stop her from moving on to a point that bothered her rather deeply, for a number of reasons, however. And her change of tone, along with the slight uplifting of her chin, in a manner altogether reminiscent of her mother, was all the warning they had.

"Whatever else, you have another life in the balance," she continued more firmly. "And I am ... disinclined to allow your own stubborn stances to endanger its potential future. I was not brought into the world in the usual way, due to certain limitations my own mother chose to impose on herself during a less unsure point in her life. I would assume that similar could be done for this child, were it to become imperative due to your own choices."

"It would be of little consequence what happened to either of you so long as the line of succession were clear, and a proper steward or regent to rule in their place until they are of age, and have a solid understanding of their role, their responsibilities, the rule of law, and all the rest," she pondered thoughtfully, her gaze sliding for a moment to rest on their hostess.

That line of reasoning again shifted to her next point, letting them ponder the implications of the previous one while attempting to properly focus some of the accusations made.

"One thing I would have you both understand is that the poison that worked to torment and eventually intended to kill AiQien also poisoned and tormented Damalin." Naiya paused for a moment to let that sink in. "This was, I believe, to a great degree the intent of using this particular nether being in the attack. As we have both told you before, this plot goes farther than simply hurting you. I believe it was meant to sow chaos throughout your realm - and through you, this has been achieved. I do not believe all your choices were fully your own, upon reflection, Damalin. This does not excuse any you have taken since being cleansed of that influence, but it does, I think, go a long way towards explaining the dissonnance between what was known of your actions and self before, and what was seen during this rather unfortunate affair. Not to mention the altogether normal distress over the impending loss of your young wife, your heir, and feeling all she felt and went through. One might suggest that alone might be enough to drive a person quite mad, no?"

Naiya's gaze shifted to AiQien towards the end of that, resting heavily there, one brow arched up questioningly, before she moved on to her next point.

"As for your appeal to pity ... I understand. Anyone who has been tasked with leadership does to one degree or other. However, this is what comes with the power you have been all too willing to utilize - the responsibility. You would be surprised how much enjoyment one can get out of life once one finds that balance within oneself. Is it a burden? Yes. But you can make it one of love, or one of bitterness and regret. that is your choice, the same as ordering the fates of your fleet, the deaths of those who have failed you, and all the rest. To put it bluntly, young Damalin ... it is what you have to deal with. The fact that you have not, up until now, dealt with it in a healthy manner, can be put to the side, if you so choose. And a better way can be found - but again, it is up to you to choose it. And up to you how you will go forward. And it is well past time to lay blame aside, and own your choices from here on. We have all had reasons we could call on to act one way or another. It behooves us to rise above the pettiness, and become what we can rather than what we must."

She had been required to 'grow up' at a rather young age, all things considered. Naiya knew all too well how one could feel a prisoner in their own home, the pressure of having to perform to expectation, to hide certain things, to go without some of the basic joys one wanted. Damalin did not have the benefit of having been able to see behind some of the minds and actions of those around her as she had. He could not possibly know the reasons that his parents could not voice to him, the depths of their sorrows, the pain they had gone through - he knew only his own pain, his sense of betrayal. Yet she still hoped he could in time come to if not understand, at least, in part, forgive as she had, for the most part. And if not forgive ... at least move past it with a more healthy attitude.

Miracles had been known to happen on rare occasion. And depending on their answers and choices going forward, given how clearly Shodey had laid out the possibility of full-on replacement, she would consider her own tinkering and meddling, as she and her aunt had already discussed. Not the ideal choice, but one that fortunately or not, currently lay open. What she had to measure herself was how much responsibility she had in doing so, and whether or not the fates of many might actually require it.

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Postby Northrop-Grumman » Thu Oct 29, 2015 3:52 pm

Nathicana / Roania

Upon hearing Damalin’s declaration, Siri almost wanted to sigh in relief. He had managed to save her the effort and trouble of making her case before the other Concordat members to fully eject the Radiant Empire from the alliance. She expected that it would have been a long arduous process, either culminating in fracturing its membership or the Grummians throwing their hands up and leaving it entirely. A repeat of the prior Grummian experience in such an affair would not be something she wanted to re-experience. Thankfully, the Roanian Emperor cut to the chase and avoided all of that.

However, despite her relief, her stone-faced exterior never betrayed the thoughts circling around her head, and even when the man upon the throne fell silent, followed by his guards, she never conveyed anything more than a little interest, with her eyes following the action or lack thereof.

“You needn’t worry about what I may do,” she finally said to the other woman, tilting her head at the unconscious one being handled. Seeing those who tended towards haughtiness being treated in such a manner brought her a little amusement, but that was kept to herself. No need to antagonize, at the moment. “I’ll give credit where credit’s due. He understood the path he and I were traveling and simply created a shortcut to its inevitable end.”

The Chairwoman began walking beside the other leader, hands clasped behind her back, focus firmly at the hallway ahead of them both. “I thought I should stick around for a little while longer. I’m not sure what all assistance I can provide, but if I can do something to avoid the pointless bloodshed we’ve seen so far, I would be willing to lend a hand. Besides, I’ll be eventually providing a report to my peers in the Concordat, and I’d rather not end it with ‘Oh, the Emperor suddenly became incapacitated and I haven’t a clue of what happened next’. People tend to make the wrong decisions over incorrect or incomplete information, and I’d rather that not be my doing.

“Of course, I will be exercising discretion as there are details that are not relevant to the story. No need to bog everyone down in the minutia.” Finally, she glanced over towards her counterpart. “Now, do you need help with him? And, if you don’t mind me asking, what is going on here?”

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Postby Zero-One » Thu Oct 29, 2015 5:52 pm

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As the boy-king talked himself in circles and Naiya spoke wisdom beyond her years, S.H.O.D.A.N. let the fire in Her eyes slide back up the visual spectrum from their fiery red and yellow back to their neutral green glow. "What the Maia says is true. Choices abound, and always do. Even with obligations besetting us on all sides, we have the choice to perform them, and the choice to refuse some."

There were other people She knew who needed this lecture, but they didn't need it nearly as badly. "From your station, Damalin, you of course have many obligations. From your family, from your life, from even your self you have more. This is obvious." She shrugged Her grey-skinned shoulders gently, Her lapis lazuli and silver usekh glinting with the motion. "And yet the truth remains, whatever the mythos surrounding your station, that you are merely mortal and can only do so much. In trying to fulfill every obligation, in trying to spin every plate," She conjured up a quick visual representation as She spoke, plates on rods appearing in midair, "you'll not only fail to keep them all going, but in switching back and forth even more will falter." The plates tumbled, shattering against the tabletop and disappearing. "And so someone is going to end up disappointed. This is inevitable.

"When posed such an impossible dilemma, true leadership comes from prioritization and delegation. Yes, you do have all the agents of government to carry tasks for you. That is their duty, and you shouldn't be loathe to have them carry as much as they can. When it comes to your tasks, your time, you must decide what is most important and see that taken care of. Then the next thing, then the next. Decide what you are willing to sacrifice and do not do those things. If anyone is dissatisfied--so what? They quite probably were going to be anyway, and some people are never satisfied no matter what result they get.

"Beyond that, we all have carrying capacities. Even with as much power as I command, My assets are not infinite, and so I must manage and account for them just like anyone else. If I were to push myself to the breaking point, how could I continue to serve? If you push yourself to and past your breaking point, how can you continue to serve when you are broken? It is only logical that you must take care of yourself, if only so you can fulfill your duties to the best of your ability. This includes rest. This includes delegation, and taking vacations, and actually enjoying your life to some degree. If you are consistently miserable, that will color your thoughts and your actions and thus your results.

"If you are constantly angry, constantly miserable, your solutions, your answers will be wrathful. Law without justice. Mercy without benevolence. Your subjects, your children, will follow out of fear and possibly respect, but they certainly will not love, and they will not sympathize, and the instant they lose that fear and respect they will not follow. Simply look to your wife: you invoke law and force, and she, who would have happily stayed beside you in earlier times, shrinks away. The harder you grip, the harder you try to be the unrealistic ideal of a god-emperor, the more she objects. Think about who you were, how you acted, before you chose to take on the role so completely: a mortal, a person, with foibles and weaknesses, but doing his best.

"That's the person she loved, and still loves, and that still exists should you let him. That's the person that Mballa was and still is friends with. The Dragon Emperor is a symbol: yes, he could intervene in all problems great and small, but that is not to say that he should. Like the sun, he radiates warmth to his people, but from very far away--if he reaches out to touch them, to manage every little thing, they will burn. It is enough, for the commoner, to see the sun rise and set and know that all is right with the world. Should the sun start to change color, get too far to warm, or--worse--get too close, that is when respect turns to fear.

"That is why your culture emphasizes harmony so greatly: it has lasted for thousands of years before you, and it will probably last for thousands more after. It is stable. Not because of the influence or manipulation of its emperor, but simply because over so much time it has evolved to be stable, so long as no one--the commoners, the nobles, the emperor--act in disharmony. Yes, you have the law and the law authorizes you to do many things. For the most part, you don't have to, and, indeed, must resist the temptation to. The sun cannot be allowed to zoom about in the sky or get too close: it must simply sit, steady and bright and inspiring. One or two people may beg for the sun to come closer, but it cannot; what about those who wish it further away? Of the overwhelming masses happy with where it is now? The occasional lucky boon might be granted, but at no point can the harmony of the entire system be threatened, so care must be taken even with beneficence. The sun must be magnanimous, but not liberal; stately, but not pompous; sympathetic, but not doting; fair, but not unreasonable; strict, but not unjust; merciful, but not soft. It will be difficult enough for you to do your best to live up to these simple standards of conduct and attitude, much less try to perform every function and miracle of your government at the same time.

"This means that the sun must be lonely, sitting so high and far away. That means that if one is willing to spend time with the sun," She nodded to AiQien, "that is a blessing, a gift that must be treated gently and respectfully. If I understand truly," she turned more fully to the wisp that was a woman, "you are afraid that the persona that Damalin has taken on will be permanent and you want nothing to do with it. I cannot blame you for this. However, this too is a choice right now. Were he to moderate himself, to accept his limitations and accept to be the best he can be rather than try and force himself to be the perfection that he cannot, that would be acceptable, yes?

"No one is truly asking for perfection," She addressed the both of them now, folding her hands in her lap. "Much may be said about it, but that is rhetoric. All that is being asked by anyone reasonable, all that is required, is that you be good enough in your roles. Play the part on the stage, proceed past with regal solemnity, be seen to be sufficiently stern and appropriately kind in measure, and everything will carry on regardless. Reserve the burden of command for those few decisions you truly do have to make yourself because no one else reasonably can; otherwise, simply be the authorization your trusted subordinates need to make their decisions in their bureaus."

The gynoid's coppery lips finally turned up into a gentle smile. "And as long as this is done, there is no harm in indulging yourself in little things that harm no one. You wish to walk the markets? Do so! You're the emperor. Who will tell you 'no?' Simply walk it with regal solemnity--it will set you apart, to be sure, but only far enough away so that harmony is maintained. You wish to practice drill? Do so! Learning precision in movement can only help when you must walk and act in public. Any minor difficulties incurred by you letting yourself be yourself--an actual person rather than an impossible ideal--are far less than the difficulties incurred by trying to live up to that impossible ideal and failing, interfering in a harmonious system that tends to itself with the same regularity as the seasons.

"And you've killed." She shrugged slightly. "Most of us here right now have. And you've felt nothing. I can admit from experience that this sometimes happens. All that means is that you must be very careful in the future, since the usual abhorrence will not serve to keep one on the most noble path. You would be more than willing to avenge yourself against anyone who would cut you to the quick through those you love. I again know this feeling... but vengeance is one thing that must truly be tempered by justice. That is why 'justice' and 'law' even exist, to keep vengeance within due bounds. And... to return to the issue of choice: it is not, currently, any assassin or cult that is keeping your wife from you, Damalin. It is yourself, or, rather, your choice as to who to be.

"Fortunately, you still have the option to choose again, to go a different, happier path. Your bodies are both intact; while your spirits have been traumatized, like those of your people they are resilient. All it takes is a few wise choices and some bed rest, and you will both awaken wiser and better for the experience. All it takes is to recognize that, yes, you are just mortal, imperfect and with needs, but that is quite acceptable. With fair effort, the likes of which you have already shown yourself capable of putting forward, you can manage to be as great and as good as your role demands without denying the inherent limitations of your reality."
Last edited by Zero-One on Thu Oct 29, 2015 6:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Thu Oct 29, 2015 6:24 pm

Naiya nodded at Siri's first statement. Were she worried about what the woman might do, she would have attempted to take steps to circumvent them temporarily, all promises to self aside. This entire damnable mess had put her in a very precarious situation, one that the children at the heart of it had neither any clue, nor care for. It angered her more than she cared to admit. And the Chairwoman's further inquiry only solidified that, though the anger was not in any way directed at her.

"You are always more than welcome," Naiya assured her. "If nothing else, someone with common sense, and to-the-point advice is always appreciated. And here of course, is where I ask something difficult of you."

The young woman judged the short distance remaining between them and the infirmary, then shifted Damalin's dead weight and began as truthfully as she could.

"I cannot have word of my ... actions to become common knowledge if possible, Siri. For all anyone knows, in spite of my curious parentage, I'm just another mortal, doing the best I can to watch over my people, following in my mother's footsteps. That isn't the case, and as you may have noticed, I have a few capabilities that don't run the norm among baseline humans."

Naiya made a slight noise of irritation, then glanced over at the older woman. "I know this may not sit well with you, and I am sorry. But believe me, it changes nothing in how I've dealt with you, or any of the others in or out of our alliances. I'm still me, and I always have been. I just happen to also be maia, like my father. And with that comes a lot of responsibilities, and admittedly, abilities, that I have taken on rather seriously, and had not intended on showing until needed - which is apparently in some ways now - or until my children were grown, and ruling in their own right. I don't know who would trust me, or them. And just as my mother would ... I will do whatever I can to keep them safe, and see that they are allowed to live their lives as they ought - with as much normalcy as the children of rulers can, at least. No, they are not the same as me. They're as human as the next Dominion child. It is a very long, very difficult tale, but believe me when I say I continue to have the best interests of my family, my friends, my nation, and my allies at heart."

They reached the doors of the room, and Naiya willed the door to open, not bothering to fuss with any handles or the like, striding in and laying Damalin out on the closest available surface that would be safe for her to do so.

"Well, I believe my cover is sufficiently blown, blast and damn this whole godsforsaken quadrant," she muttered internally to her aunt, looking meaningfully over to Siri, then continued aloud. "And I believe I heard Nesar as I was leaving. I've no idea what he was up to but I would hope it is in our favor. Honored Doctor, the emperor appears to have lost consciousness amidst the strain of his experiences. We thought it best to bring him here so you could oversee his care."

----- ----- -----

Inside the mindspace her aunt had created, she remained silent, having said her piece and quietly agreeing with the path the gynoid queen was taking. No doubt, she had carried on similar conversations with her own mother at times. When she trusted no one else, she had always trusted her sister-in-mind, after all. It was one of the many reasons she herself trusted her aunt as much as she did - one of countless reasons.

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Postby Roania » Fri Oct 30, 2015 6:39 am

The Emperor paused for thought, pressing a ghostly hand to his chin. His eyes closed, and the color drained from his soul. When it returned, he, his eyes and his garb were simple and gray, "And this is why my mother loves you humans so much. Please, spare me your objections. You are both the products of humanity and thus by rights as human as any. Perhaps more than most. For myself, I see only reasons to fear the likes of you. And yet..." He closed his eyes once more and for the first time since departing his physical body breathed in. "I am tired. Tired of moving the stars and skies to suit changing winds. Tired of playing a part on a stage. I could give you the pat answer, certainly. That I have learned, to my certain cost, what it is to trust in the efforts of others on my behalf. Jiji, as has the Realm. I've made sure of it. Perhaps too sure. Still..."

"Yes, this is why my mother loves humans so much. Why she has chosen to spend her last years with them. My name and wrath are feared and hated across this quadrant, by many who have never come within reach of my fleets or even come to my knowledge. But boldness, certainty, confidence... Ji, were our positions reversed I am sure you would speak as certainly as you do now. And, in truth, I have never liked it. Too much my father's son, as my sister is too much my mother's daughter." His lips curled as he said that last part, but that was his only indication of his feelings towards Nailin. "She chose her path, and I believe she is happy. This title was thrust on me by madness and indecision... but the path I chose to walk was my own. Every step of the way, this past year. And it has not made me happy. Happiness is a thing I have stolen from others, either by ignoring my responsibilities or by personally ripping the joy from their spleens. And now I see its cost. Not to the abstract notions your people love so much. I am indifferent. But to myself, to my beloved, and to my realm. I have stepped around and through the Precepts and the Law, with no justification other than that it was permitted for me. I... have failed myself and my ancestors. I see that clearly now. In the fear of my wife, I see it all."

"Husband, I am young." AiQien murmured. "I have many years ahead of me in which to see more happiness and joy. My only wish is that you hold me to you with love, not force or threat."

"And this unworthy soul has many years ahead in which to try harder to give you happiness and joy, we suppose. You and our child both." Damalin switched to the formal style with simple ease. "We cannot see the future, whatever the pretenses of our friends. We may only write it. It is our duty, we think, to see that it is written in red and not black."


Surgery

Kousenel tried. He really did. He really, really, really tried to do his best. Every day of his professional life. It was what had gotten him to this point. It was what had earned him fame and wealth besides, won him his long-absent wife, and bought him to the heights of his specialty. A single bad decision on his part, a failure to listen to the advice of someone who was both a woman and a mechanoid... yes, he'd made a poor call. He knew it. But it could be resolved. It all could be resolved. And so he had busied himself with his tools and readers and so forth, sending notes to his colleagues to return to the palace... all the usual mania of a man who had made himself utterly superfluous by his failed attempt to assert his supremacy.

But he was also old. Very, very, very old. In a linear universe, he would be at least a century older than either Naiya or Shodey. In this one, he was merely ancient. And these past few weeks had done his exhausted and worn body no good. These past two days had done him no good. And so, when Naiya walked in with the Emperor slung over her shoulders, and some horrifying elf-woman followed... when the Imperatrice explained that the Lord of Ten Thousand Years had lost consciousnes...

well, he did what people do, and came to exactly the wrong conclusion. "Oh, Ai, Jing, Xuan.. What have I done." And slowly crumpled to the floor in a broken heap.

"Ah, good. Knew my ears were burning from around this direction. Mind if I borrow him for a second, Naiya?" Nesar barely waited for an answer. His arrival at the door was instantaneous, the moment Naiya and Siri cleared it. As usual not a hair looked out of place, and not a wrinkle was on his suit. Perfect, total poise. "This is exactly the condition I need him to be in, grazie. No time to explain now, and if I'm not there soon, there probably won't be time to explain. Keep up the good work, all of you, pleasure to see you, Mrs. O'Neill." And the alleged assassin swooped up Doctor Kousenel as if he was nothing, tossed him over his shoulder, and adjusted the scabbard in which hung Damalin's personal sword. "When my master wakes up, tell him I borrowed his sword to deal with a problem the details of which would bore him, please. Now, as you say, arrivederci. Oh, no, need to grab Miss Ta first. Ciao!" And he was gone. As in, he had been standing there giving a slight bow, and then he was gone. Odd man.
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Fri Oct 30, 2015 7:13 am

Two things happened in two different places.

Within the mindspace, Naiya gradually shrank back in luminosity and presence to her more expected, real-world form, her hands clasped calmly in front of her, looking the very picture of serenity and calm. Most excellent. At least progress was being made in one direction.

Back in the recovery room however, the young woman launched into a blistering streak of curses in fluent Dunnish - a language few knew, and fewer still had likely heard in a very long time now - picking up one of the less expensive-looking tools and throwing it with a decidedly harsh word at the now empty space Nesar had but recently occupied.

"I swear by the gods above and below, I'm going to kill that sneaky son of a bitch one of these days, but not before I wring every last of his thrice-damned secrets out of his miserable handsome hide!" she finished with, straightening the front of her soft traditional robes, then running her hands back over her hair to smooth back any stray strands, just as she lifted her chin imperiously and let out a short, forceful breath of pure irritation.

"Apologies, ladies. But I find myself utterly out of patience. And since we now have no audience, perhaps we can speak more frankly on what exactly has been going on, as you requested, Chairwoman," Naiya finished, nodding deferentially to Siri.

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Postby Scolopendra » Fri Oct 30, 2015 7:27 am

The Other Spook

That's about the point where 'Doctor' al-Fulani finally managed to walk back in from visiting Ta Min. "On my end of things," he reported, making no comment as to what he had heard before entering, "I just visited the Celestial Master, told her in veiled terms about what's been going on, and she gave me this scroll thing." This he extracted to hand to Queen S.H.O.D.A.N., pausing momentarily to squint a little more closely before visibly shrugging it off. "It sounds like your suspicions were correct: we're once again dealing with ancient nonsense. I wouldn't be surprised if prophecy were involved. Just when one gets back to believing in free will, someone has to go off and reassemble all the gears and springs in the clockwork orange.

"All the world's a stage, as they say, but no one bothers giving the actors the script or any direction." Throwing his hands half into the air dismissively, he turned and found a comfortable door frame to lean on. "Pardon. Just venting some frustration."
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Postby Zero-One » Fri Oct 30, 2015 7:49 am

Zorth-Orthogonal Coordinate System

S.H.O.D.A.N. smiled and let Her eyes ease further towards the blue end of the spectrum. "I doubt as many bridges are as burned as you think. If anything, those who are frustrated with you are generally just waiting for you to make this realization and grow as an individual. There's no reason to play down to the type one presumes others expect, and all the more quiet, harmless revenge in playing against that type. I am gladdened to see this new resolution, and hope to see you both working together in executing it."

She wasn't going to argue the 'human' remark. There was some truth to it, logically, though by extension the reixanxi weren't that much different. They just thought they were, and with the progress made so far She had no interest in trying to stretch the victory into solving long-standing speciesism.

"Shall I send you two back, then?"

Mundane Coordinate System

The gynoid only rolled her cat eyes in response and, once that bit of theater was done, accepted the scroll with her good hand. The motion revealed the stump and sheared sleeve of her other arm. "Thank you, Doctor. Chairwoman, in the span of the last several minutes we have trapped a pseudopod of a minor elder deity safely away from everyone else, uncovered a conspiracy of cultists, and taught a boy-king momentarily disassociated from his body how to grow up. That is the extremely abridged yet essential version of current events."

After looking at the scroll for a few moments, her feline features frowned softly. "This is not made to be read with one hand, and I do have to quickly read it, parse it, collate all useable data and transmit it to HELLSING. Would someone..." she paused, then grinned. "Give me a hand?"

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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Fri Oct 30, 2015 8:53 am

Naiya had the good grace to look subtly shamed for having allowed her temper to finally get the better of her at Al-Fulani's subtle reminder - altogether too reminiscent of her mother's rather famous blow-ups, without the lingering threat of more. And on her honored aunt's reveal and mention of her current lacking, she fully regressed to her usual pleasant, younger self, eyes widening as she rushed over to help with the scroll, speaking rapidly in her native language in sincere apology in her haste.

"Mi dispiace tanto, zia. Non ci sono scuse. Permetta di assistere, per favore."

The young woman held the scroll open dutifully, glancing over at the other conscious people in the room apologetically. "It has been a very ... trying day. I'm sorry."
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Postby Northrop-Grumman » Fri Oct 30, 2015 8:55 am

Ask a vague, open-ended question and receive an entirely unexpected response. Siri quirked her head in curiosity when Naiya began explaining what she was. Siri had, in her own mind, been asking about the erratic behavior of the Emperor, ultimately culminating in his incapacitation; something was way off, but she couldn’t pinpoint it. This, however, had come as a surprise, but did explain the sudden appearance of these abilities the elf had not seen from the younger woman before.

“This changes nothing for me. You are the same woman today as the one I dueled before. Whether you are maia, machine, or whatever else, whatever labels you attached to yourself, it matters not to me. Our actions make us who we are, not our parentage, not our species, or what have you.” She bowed her head respectfully. “Nothing will be said to anyone; you have my word.”

Upon entering the recovery room, the elven Chairwoman simply maintained a passive presence in the proceedings for the moment and just watched. First had come the sudden collapse and subsequent kidnapping of the Roanian doctor, followed by the Imperatrice’s aggravated outburst, and then the rather strange explanations. Those, though, had made some sense to the elf; she could mostly see the interconnectivity between the various events. Cultists stabbing the Emperor’s wife as some sort of blood sacrifice to summon a ‘minor elder deity’. Though, the physical dissociation had not yet become clear to her, but she supposed it would in time.

And when Siri heard that particular wordplay by the gynoid, she gave that look of exasperation and exhaled suddenly. She had known someone else who would have pulled that exact line in this type of situation and would have relished every minute of it. So she responded in a way that would be befitting of his memory. She clapped thrice, the edge of her mouth turning slightly upward in a smile.

EDIT: Typo
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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Fri Oct 30, 2015 9:37 am

Naiya offered Siri a wry little smile, then shrugged slightly. "I've come to consider my family and our circle of friends and associates as kind of coming with a whole boatload of 'best not think about it too closely'," she began, then got to the meat of the matter, in as simple and to the point terms as possible - not due to a potential lack of understanding, of course. The Chairwoman was no idiot. But out of simple expediency and the dear but dangerous woman's known lack of patience for extended bullshit.

"We're not clear on the entire plan of this cult, but what we do know is it has infiltrated AiQien's family to some degree, and in doing so poisoned her, and by proxy, Damalin, resulting in the chaos we've all been seeing and dealing with the past while. An otherworldly entity is involved. It isn't pleasant. We've been doing what we can to deal with it, heal AiQien, and bring some normalcy to the young couple here. Consider it as carrying on two conversations simultaneously. I can feel an extraordinary headache coming on from all of it, believe me. The honorable Queen has her technology, and as you've now seen ... I have my own methods. Every attempt has been made to be as open, honest, and facilitating as possible. We are not here to rule, infiltrate, or sabotage - only to assist, for the good of all. Hopefully, that will be sufficient in the end."

Naiya would shrug, but she didn't want to disturb her aunt's reading of the ancient script. She hadn't looked at it yet herself, and admittedly, she rather doubted she would understand it in any case. Ancient Xianxi artifacts and history was not, after all, her forte. And having some abilities did not render one capable of comprehending any and all mystical texts.

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