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Big Eyes, Small Mouth (BESM): Nexus Earth - Chapter 14: Aradia

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Skye was alone for a moment, hovering in the air, gusts of ice and wind flowing off her fans. She hovered above the field now emptied of enemies and wondered if the Key did not make them all superflourous. Shaking off such thoughts, she descended to the ground.

Without hesitation, she reached out and caught the arm of one of the passing Asrai. “I am a healer. Take me to your most critically wounded.”

The winged woman she’d grabbed looked flustered but nodded quickly. With a quick jerk of her head, the woman lead the way, saying, “I was looking for my brother. He was deep in the fighting. Perhaps you’ll heal him today.”

“I’d be glad to.” Skye spared a quick smile for the woman before focusing on where she was being taken. This could be an ambush, after all. It wasn’t; the half-human was shown to a long tent; inside were dozens of dying. This is beyond my skill. The thought was dismissed quickly, for such thoughts would only led to despair and inaction. “I want to coordinate with your doctors.” She was passed to a nurse, who took her to another tent – the surgery. Skye stopped cold when she entered the room and saw an angel laid open from groin to chin.

“You shouldn’t be here.” The doctor didn’t do more than glance at her; just long enough to be sure that she wasn’t a nurse or someone useful.

“I’m a healer.” Skye prepared herself for an argument.

No sooner were the words out of her mouth than another doctor said, “This one. I am losing her.”

Even as Skye went for that operating table, other doctors were adding their own requests. This will be a long night. A long, long night…

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The other ships, lead by two Overlord class, a Fortress, and three unions landed, disgorging mecha to shore up the perimiter, at the direction of Rebecca.

Kai answered. "See to the deployment and set up a perimiter with the regiment that just dropped down. "

It was about six clicks out that Francis and the team found the first demons, a small group that died silently in the span of half a second. Kelly looked to Francis. "The nest is about a click away now, these were scouts."

Kai looked to Lily. "There are no gates, not anywhere. Nothing active. However they got here, It wasn't by any gate that is open now." A look of consternation crossed his features. "It doesn't make any sense."

For Skye, there were too few patients, most had already died before Satoshi arrived, those that remained though lived thanks to her gifts, backed up by Satoshi's medical Technology. A young woman with short blue hair and a flight suit came over to her as she finished with the last person who needed healing. "Skye? take a rest, you've been working non-stop." The woman offered her a drink. Beneath the insignia for the Lieutenant of CRT-1 was a red cross on a white field, a universal symbol for medical corps.

"Thank you wor working so hard. Many of the Asrai wouldn't have lived without you."

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Rebecca nods and starts sending commands via communications with each squad commander. With the efficiency practically of a machine she rolled all the teams into position. There was no easy entrance to the base when she was through. With a schedule of sorties by sensor craft to augment the already formidable sensory capacity of the ground forces, combined with a well placed battery of artillery and cannon units, the base was secure within 30 minutes of arrival.

"Okay, we're on emergency shifts, two on, one off. I want all able bodied pilots to sleep with their Mecha at all times. Even if that means sleeping in your cockpits. There are cushion mats that will be handed out for everyone to use for their seats, or to sleep in their cockpits, or to sleep at the feet of your mecha, but be prepared for immediate scramble."

She adjusted her suit as her sister radioed in. "Rebecca, you should rest, yourself."

"I will when my shift is over. No sooner."

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Floating among the wreckage of fallen foes and allies Shiyu rested, she had thought the battle won. Suddenly she could feel Angelus' HUD light up with enemy movement on the war torn planet below, "they're still coming..but from where..." A screen appeared on the Nadesco's bridge, "borrowing the dimensional drive," as quick as it came the screen was gone and the dimensional drives of the Nadesco came to life, its emitters began charging.

"Shiyukumei what are you?!" The transmission was interrupted by Gai, "let her work, the ship's in good hands."

"Angelus set auto defenses and prepare for dive." Shiyu closed her eyes and let her consciousness fade from reality and enter the realm of data, an ethereal form of Shiyu floated within a sphere of screens. Digital code and data flew before her as she worked through the Nadesco and Angelus systems. In real time Angelus' feathers spread out forming a ring linked by a thread of energy between them, their weapons pointed inward, the Nadesco's emitters pointed towards the center, continuing their charge.

Shiyu's eyes opened, her forehead glistening with sweat, "that should do it." A quantum screen appeared on the bridge, "Captain you should know the location of the enemy fleet once the trans dimensional sensor is activated, be ready." Shiyu gave the command and the feathers fired to the center of the ring, meeting in a flash, the Nadesco's emitters sent the dimensional energy into the ring creating a subspace ripple throughout this universe. The screens of the Nadesco and Angelus' HUD lit up with data of the enemy fleet, "there's your target Captain."

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Skye nodded as she took the drink. Her hands were wet from washing off blood; she’d aided the doctors as much as she could. “I only wish I could have saved more.” The statement had been echoed by healers of all stripes throughout the ages. “Maybe next time, if we’re still here, I can attend to them from the beginning.”

Together the two women moved outside; it was even more depressing out here; the bodies were being gathered and laid out for identification. There were no more coverings, and the dead were lying bare to the world. Skye stared at them sadly, wishing she’d thought to come to the healing tent first. But she’d saved lives by killing demons, too. She was a balance between healer and warrior; Skye’s task was to judge when it was best to switch from one to the other.

The elven woman turned to go, only to stop and turn back. One of the bodies seemed familiar. It wasn’t Kazou, but it was nagging at her mind. Leaving the Lieutenant at the edge of the field of dead, Skye walked to the body. When she looked down and saw the golden eyes of the angular-feature man, she remembered. “Azarai?!” she cried, dropping to her knees next to him. There was a nasty claw wound to his chest. “No, no…” she whined, putting her hands on his still-warm cheeks. He was supposed to be dead, not here but in Bazaroth. He’d died there, she’d seen-

You saw him get buried in rubble! You never saw his dead body! You left him there! “Azarai, I’m sorry,” she whispered, feeling that horrible old feeling of being too late, again. As her tears splattered on his chest, she felt something inside of her break. “Not this one. No. I won’t allow it!” Skye planting her hands on either side of his wound and leaned over him. “Death is not allowed to take this one! In the name of Tsunami, I order you to release your hostage! Return him to me, Death! I order you to release your HOSTAGE!”

Her scream rang over the battlefield as blue light descended from the sky, enveloping priestess and corpse in a field of blue. Power poured over them, and under Skye’s hands, the wound began to close. The ‘corpse’ healed complete, but his chest didn’t stir. Desperate, Skye leaned over, tipped his head back and began CPR.

Suddenly the Lieutenant was there. “I’ll compress. You breathe,” the soldier told Skye, beginning the count. “One, two, three!” Skye pressed her lips to Azarai’s and breathed for him, trying to return the spark of life.

They were working for less than a minute when Skye felt him breathe for himself. Golden eyes blinked blearily up at her. “Skye?” he asked. The Lieutenant had stopped and moved back; the priestess threw herself on her old friend and hugged him tightly. His arms came around her, followed by his wings. Skye didn’t answer, not trusting herself to speak yet. “Were you kissing me?”

At that, Skye let go and sat up, laughing. “It’s called CPR. I was breathing for you. You were technically dead.” She offered him a hand and helped him sit up; the Lieutenant pressed a bottle of water into his hand. “How do you feel?”

“Terrible.” He smiled and Skye was hit with the full force of his hotness. Yep. He’s still painfully hot. “But good to be alive.”

“Can you do that for others?” the Lieutenant asked.

Skye paused. “I think so! Azarai, I’m sorry, we’ll need to catch up later. I think I can save others.”

“I’ll come and help.” He rose, swaying a little but otherwise in good shape.

“Okay.” Skye was grinning at him and she took his hand. “I’ll teach you CPR.”

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Francis communicated back: "Good. Perhaps we'll find something of use to know if we take it out." His sensors were showing it to not be anything other than a small stronghold.

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Klan called in as soon as the Results from Shiyukumei's scans came in. "Lieutenant, I want you to return to the Ship. We've found the Enemy fleet, and are preparing to engage them. I will take your place planetside."

Klan let Kai know as well, detaching 4 ships to remain there, while the others would jump to the enemy fleet. With the orbital support and ships and mechs on the ground, elimanating the Invaders was possible. Still he didn't like splitting their forces, but agreed.

"Once Rebecca rejoins the fleet, take care of our enemies and return." "Yes Head Captain."

For Skye, she didn't enjoy much success, she could only revive the recently deceased, about thirty percent, which in truth was a major boon to her and her friends, instantly earning real respect from the other Asrai. "Thank you priestess, you've given my people back to me, something I've never seen done before.." The commander personally thanked her.

Francis and the squad moved up, and the small stronghold was surrounded with various demons, some as s small as dogs, others as big as a large sedan. They were gearing up for an assault it seemed, chittering and roaring. "We wait for them to leave, then take the nest, Hold position."

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Rebecca wasted no time. "Team, good luck. I will be assisting the fleet in completing the purge."

She hovered and rocketed in the "High Speed" flight mode that allows her to reach orbit in no-time flat. She lands on the Ark Royal and holds on.

"Alright, move out as per Captain Kai's orders. We're going to hit them harder than diamonds and faster than light. I want all ships to get optimal firing solutions when they jump in on the enemy fleet."

"I'm going to need whatever Mecha assets outside of Gai and Shiyu to guard the fleets against fighters and non-Ace class mecha."

She opens a channel to Gai and Shiyu. "Hey guys... feel like hunting Aces?"

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Sakura was hurting, she was a daughter of two worlds, one of them was earth, the other was Aradia, and each time she had left and come back to a world damaged, a world under attack, a world she loved and now a world damaged. And Aradia was a living, conscious world, aware and hurting, and tears slide down the cheeks of the lovely young angel, as she listened to the worlds of the the blade she carried, the blade which had yet to speak to her, and now had at last responded, the words a mix of chiding and encouragement...

Turning her full attention to the blade as she battled the creatures attacking her world.. "The time has never seemed right, but now, my friend, my companion, my ally in battle... our need is great, the battle is joined, the moment is dire, and our people are dying... let it be now then, that we seek that moment together." She turned the full attention to the blade and began to attempt what she had seen and studied the others doing.

Attempting Bankai.. let me know what she needs to roll.. failed.

Despite the attempt to reach deep, she found that she couldn't do it, she couldn't put what she needed into it.. "I must.. I can.. I.." And with that, she fell over, unconscious the blade in one hand as she dropped out of the battle with that attempt.

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Kai reached out to Catch Sakura, and nodded. "It's not easy, without training cousin. He looked to Lily. "Get us to the field base, she's going to need a safe place to rest, we both will."

In space the fleet was preparing to jump, with Shiyukumei leading the way with Gai and Rebecca. "Remember you two, they've got Axel, the Lichiet, and the Granzong, and who knows what else. Stay on your guard. I will handle the Granzong myself."

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After resurrecting so many – and yet too few – Skye and Azarai took to the air together. “I can’t believe you’re a live, and here!” The Asari grinned at her as he shifted to fly underneath her. “Do you have time to catch up now?”

“Actually, I think Kai needs a hand.” Skye sighed softly. “We got here and things were blowing up, and I don’t think they’ve stopped yet.” She smiled at him. “We will get our chance to talk. Promise. But first, I gotta do stuff.”

“Then I will help in the glorious doing of stuff.” The angelic alien didn’t seem to realize he didn’t need to afford that statement any gravitas but Skye was too busy to correct him maybe later.

Together, the two landed near Kai, just in time to hear his commands. “I’ll take Sakura,” Skye offered, opening her arms to hold the half-angel. When Kai passed her over, Skye lifted into the air again, returning her to the field base. Along the flight, Skye healed the young woman of her injuries.

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As Skye used her healing powers to restore her, Sakura woke up and looked up at the woman carrying her. "Wait... where am I.. what happened?" the half-angel was trying to get her bearings once more.

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Shiyukumei scanned the field and quickly tore off into battle, her readings sent to the other units to help them have an advantage while she took on the dangerous mecha, it would be a few minutes before they engaged in combat. "Gai, be careful, that mecha is small but it's got mobility on it's side, if you stay calm I am sure you can stay on top and prove my engineering is better than this Granzong the enemy brought to bare, I will take the Lichet, leaves you the Axel, now all units stay focused."

((edited due to having the full information of the battlefield now, please edit Osprey to match the reality that we are now given, clarification has been given, Gai was speaking despite Shiyu being in the lead, have fun!))

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Rebecca went through her usual pre-combat routine. Checking sensors, warming the weapons, checking the integrety of the cockpit pod, making sure the pressure was just right to protect against sudden decompressions. She made sure her suit's life support umbilical was properly connected and her support pack was ready for an emergency egress. Everything was in order. What waited now was a true battle. Granong was Kai's battle. But the Osprey herself was going to make sure that Axel and Lichiet were kept at bay. Rebecca entered aerospace mode, screeching along behind Shiyu.

"Shiyu... I think it goes without saying it would be a good idea to keep the battle between Granzong and Kai's unit strictly one-on-one. I will take on Axel. Lichiet is Gai's call. Never thought I would be fighting an Ace."

She loads up the combat data on Axel and prepares to go to war.

OOC
I am going to need some info on Axel, Justin.

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the Invaders sent their minions against the fleet, hoping to buy yet more time. On the planet, the firebase was coming along nicely, even as Sakura and Kai were brought back into the Chieftan, the fortress class dropship being used as a command post. In the med ward for mandatory checks, Kai spoke to those assembled. "From here the plan is to exterminate the demon and Invader infestation. I'm hoping once we do this the Council will show itself, and they can shed some light on the annihilation wave. Most of them are ancient beings, maybe they have faced something like this in antiquity."

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

In the field, Kelly nodded. The horde moved out, and in rapid succession the sentries were dispatched. "Come on we won't have long. i've got a Pelican waiting for us for rapid evac, after we succeed." With that she led the way down into the the demons nest, confident that francis and her team would follow.

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"How do we stop the invasion?" Lily asked. "We haven't even located the portal they're using to get here. We need intel, badly."

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"Simple. We keep stabbing, slashing and shooting them till we find the portal or they get the hint and go the fuck away." Hideko said with a bit of a slasher smile.

Hideko's armor takes on a blue and silver color as it did when she Upgraded. And Katana appears in her hands and she checks it's sharpness before smiling.

"Hey Rebecca-Nee San! Be sure to kick some major ass for me!" She said mentally over the Comlink

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Right when Rebecca was about to respond to Hideko, she is rocked suddenly. The slam sends her off into space until she can recover.

"What the shi..."

And there it was... her objective. "Axel... in the Soulgain."

"Indeed it is, rookie."

He dashes in while Rebecca was dazed and she starts getting slammed, ripped, and torn with every slash and strike. Melee was Soulgain's and Axel's forte, and Rebecca was on the ropes from the start. As she tries to pull back she is only pummeled further.

At some point she is knocked offline. Rebecca almost unconcious.

"Son of a... how did he get the jump on... us so quick?"

"You are nieve, Rebecca... you are on the wrong side... I spared you so you and SeaTalon Valisone would have a choice."

"Why... would I join... those that destroy universes?"

"Because we are correcting a sin."

Suddenly it became clear to Rebecca.

"I am suprised Kai never tells you what truely goes on."

Rebecca straightens out, SeaTalon following suit.

"I know enough..."

The wounds on SeaTalon heal, almost instantly before Axel's eyes.

"I believe in Kai... no others."

She slams into aerospace mode, dashing away as quick as possible, before unloading her repulsor missiles, her entire collection destroying support drones around him. Instead of closing in and crushing him, she decides to keep at range, firing off shots from her rifles, to weaken him further. He couldn't close in as the faster SeaTalon kept away, now that the advantage he had was gone.

Eventually Seatalon manages to tag his main maneuvering thruster and he loses attitude control. Then Seatalon closed once Soulgain could not respond. With a stroke she dismantled the Soulgain until all that was left was the cockpit section.

"What?!?! How?!?"

That stroke of violence from SeaTalon took 10 seconds. "I fight with honor... you fight with deception and you have been decieved. Bail out, I'm in no mood to kill. your reactor has been stripped out. You cannot self-detonate. I ask you... what is your truth?"

He sat there in silence. Then the frontal hatch opened with him standing at the foreward hatch. "My truth? You can't understand it. You're a lapdog. Obsessed with "justice" that will never come."

She cursed. "Justice? JUSTICE?!?"

She screamed in, and just before she was about to run Axel through with a beam sabre, she stops, mere feet from him.

"Dammit..."

Rebecca backs off. Just as she turns around there is an explosion and SeaTalon's power systems go offline. Then she sees it... It was too easy. The form of a invader's body floated in space behind her. Her primary power source was knocked offline. Then Soulgain punches through SeaTalon's head. rips back and tosses the stricken mecha aside.

"You're too weak... Rebecca..."

Rebecca was in the cockpit, all the sensors offline. She was barely concious from a concussion.

"Let that be a lesson. You're not strong enough yet."

Soulgain leaves Rebecca to her fate, her mecha broken and battered, set adrift. She drifts to unconciousness.

"Take that with you in the next life."

In a single blast, the SeaTalon and Rebecca were wiped out in a single flash of light.

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Francis nodded to Kelly, and with the group made their fanning advance through the trees. Perhaps in the nest they'd get an answer or two. He could feel Nagareboshi's presence and smiled. Let's kick butt.

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Kai nodded. "Once the fleet removes their ships we bring them in and as opposed to taking down each nest, we will burn them from orbit. We can then focus efforts on purifying the world's tainted mana. I have several teams already working on this, and locating the primary source. Any input from Aradian sources would be welcome though to narrow things down."

Kai sighed. "we'll need to find the gate, and more than that It's going to take at least twenty four hours to establish a permanent foothold here, not to mention repair our damage and reserves. Those of you that wish, There is plenty to discover on this world, I cannot order anything of you, but I'd ask you to help restore it. Whatever you feel you can do, do. This may also be the last day of peace we know until this is done, I urge you to enjoy it."

As Francismade his way inside along with his team he realized most of his armor's systems had synched up to theirs, and got indicators for all of them. His armor adapted,and was readily accepted into the fold of a Satoshi Spartan team. This was going to be a fun run.

(Okay guys, what I want is simple, a single post detailing what you do with your day. I'm giving you 2 weeks to get it in, and done. any NPC's are available for your use, and we have a 100km radius circle of land that's pristine and healthy, enjoy how you wish. if you want you can go out on patrol or recon forray into the demons, provided you do not enter a nest, you can handle this cinematiclly. Entering a nest requires my approval, as there are some factors there that need my intervention. If you wish to do something requiring me beyond PM'ing information start a secondary side fiction please. Have fun and enjoy this.)

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Angelus flew along her path, feathers unfurled in a whirlwind of action as beams of lasers cut out from her dervish dance through the invading hordes. Her goal was not them, they were easy and she had back up. Floating in space, the fiendish mecha’s arms were folded across it’s skull like chest, like a reaper waiting to pull new souls into the abyss, Shiyu’s enemy was waiting for her. The angelic form of her powered armor, the fiendish spines and devilish visage of his mecha, they were meant to fight before this war began. Angelus made the final approach cutting the last invader in its wake, splitting it down the middle and pushing past, the demon moved.

The massive pauldrons of the mecha, those skull shaped horrors, as if drenched in blood were missing. It came without warning , twin shots in the blackness of space, the demon himself poised itself, the skull’s eyes glowed a fiendish light, it seemed to be laughing. Shiyu was not just a scientist, she was a pure exemplar of her race, she was not a fool when it came to war. The beams came quickly from beneath and to her side, deftly sliding out of the way of the first and deflecting the second shot with her own beam. Then the third came, the demon had moved, the angle was not predicted by her scanners, pure battle instinct was her savior as she deflected it with her shield, the beam scattering into baubles of energy before they faded in the vacuum of space.

This enemy was fast, very fast, Shiyu’s heart raced in her chest, he seemed to be in multiple places at once her scanners were useless for this task. The fiendish mecha raced in, seemingly from nowhere, a well placed knee to Angelus’ and therfore Shiyu’s stomach came, bits of metal flung into the darkness around them and she flew back, twin beams came for her again. She managed to roll taking only a graze on her left shoulder, damaging the pauldron. “You are fast, I suppose we both should have fun with this.” Shiyu licked the blood from her lip and Angelus’ wings unfurled, the feathers flying off, their sights set on the demon’s skulls. Shiyu set her rifle on the back of Angelus and flew forward, pushing its speed to maximum, twin beams of solid energy forming from her hands as she clashed with demon, they struggled, sabers of light vs fiendish claws. The visage smiled, light began to form in it’s chest, Shiyu ducked to the side barely and kicked the fiend in the back, when she turned he was gone again. Shiyu continued to search, sensors telling her of many locations. The shock came from her left flank as she was shoulder checked, she screamed. Angelus stabilized the left arm limp, it was broken, Shiyu smiled, she was feeling again, and it was fantastic.

Another battle finished just as her own began, at least in her own mind, as Rebecca’s mecha disappeared from the field, a blaze of light overshadowing the field. Shiyu paused, the girl had been a part of her new life, not long but was there, her heart sank. “We’ll finish this Rebecca, rest easy, you died in combat, no greater an honor than that.”

Shiyu turned off her sensors save for visual and those that guided her drones against the demons’ skulls, they were holding their own but she had lost a couple. Closing her eyes she breathed, feeling around herself, instinct the only thing about her. An invader closed in seeing the damaged mecha, but was destroyed quickly by a pair of her drones which had been staying close, circling the two foes. She heard it, in the emptiness of space, she heard the demon as he brought forth his attack. His clawed hand thrusting toward her heart from below. Angelus and Shiyu burst into action, the twin barreled monstrosity was brought to bear. The claw was mere inches from breaching Angelus’ shell and into her heart as the beam disintigrated the rest of the demon. His arm only remained, sticking into the armor of Angelus. The skulls deactivated and were quickly destroyed by her feathers before they returned to Angelus. Shiyu breathed deeply and began her trip back to the ship, “have my energy coctail prepped and ready, be ready to patch me up I will be rejoining the fight shortly.”

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Rebecca’s death wasn’t unregistered, nor was Shiyukumei’s victory and subsequent injury. Gai moved in, closing in with the Granzong. “Shu Shirakawa!” The blue and black mecha turned, and launched a storm of gravity based death towards the Gaogaigar, which missed. “Ahh Gai, so good to see you again. It’s been what, fifty cycles?”

The Granzong drew its massive sword, even as Gai’s massive claws came into play, catching the blade in a shower of sparks and crash of metal. “You can join us you know. “I’ll spare their lives, after they become one with us.”

“I won’t allow that Shu. I can still save you.”

“Save me?” The two traded blows, cracking armor but little more. “From what? Perfection? I’m immortal, with control over half the entirety of the Invader biomass. I am a God.”

“You’ve gone Mad Shu, and I will save you from such a horrible eternity, as a final act of friendship to the one who reawakened me.” Gai backed off, as his left arm began spinning rapidly. “BROKEN MAGNUM!” The arm and it’s drill like claws shot off, piercing the right torso of the Granzong even as The Granzong opened up with a dozen sub-capital class lasers and cannon. Raising his Right arm, Gai activated the ultimate defense of Gaogaigar. “PROTECTOR SHADE!” The inertial canceller did its job as his arm reattached.

The shield held and yet Granzong was already moving. Fire erupted from the Torso of the GGG, as Axel joined the battle, firing lasers from behind. “The weakness of that defense is that it’s a single direction Gai, and you cannot use it while moving.” The GGG’s Tail flared to life, lasers reaching out to amputate the Soulgain’s right arm. “I’m not half as vulnerable as you think.”

Still the fight wasn’t going so well, the damage from the soulgain was adding up, and we’d been unable to really but Shu down. He prepared to fire after momentarily considering his options to find Shu gone. “Oh Helllll…” The Granzong’s blade Pierced through the middle of the Gaogaigar, with an errupion of iridescent liquid green energy.

“Bastard. “

“Goodbye Gai, I’ll be sure to take care of Shiyu for you. She’ll make a nice drone servant.”

For a moment the massive black white and gold mecha’s eyes widened, then narrowed. “You will not TOUCH HER.” Massive claws shattered the sword, as he spun away, the mech bleeding power. It’s reactor was damaged badly, and it wasn’t long for this fight. “Master, give me strength.”

Across the reaches of space, on Aradia, Kai looked up. “Do it Gai.”

“Humans have one ability Shu, something they inherited from my people, an ability to become more, their perfect Ideal, and harness this power. No one has seen this since my people’s time, not mine at any rate.”

“BANKAI!”

Massive power seemed to pour out from the Gaogaigar, as his damage seemed to heal, or at least close and seal. Starting from his feet the mecha began to glow, literally changing to a brilliant blazing golden finish, even as the light from Aradia’s star began to Gleam from the mech. A sword as big as the mecha formed in it’s hands, and Gai’s voice went out across the channels. “ZA Powah, Infinite Awakening.”

He seemed to vanish and in a single series of moves, literally cut the Soulgain to ribbons before unleashing a torrent of golden flame to vaporize all traces of the mecha. “That was for Rebecca.”

He turned looking to Shu. “What madness Is this? There were never reports..” “I didn’t show you everything Shu. Only Shiyu knows about this.”

He moved in and amputated the Granzong’s legs with a stroke. “Wait we can make a deal.”

Another slash and both arms were gone. “I’m done dealing with you Shu. I was done when you threatened HER.” He stabbed his sword through the Reactor of the Granzong, and golden light began to pour from the wound. “Noooo!”

“Become Light!” In an instant the sword and granzong disappeared, matter converted to light, and dispersed in an instant, even as the blinding flash of the PT Cannon fired, Gai had just enough power to teleport out of range, before the remaining invader fleet, was phase transitioned from reality, literally and forcibly rent to particles, and then destroyed on the molecular level.

“Mission Accomplished, Kai.”

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A peaceful, serene piece of Acadia, it hurt to look at it, to know what else was happening to her world, but it was a sign of something more, or a chance to reach out and touch the world, and so she turned her attention to just that, as well as to aiding any other Asrai who were close enough to be helped. Her failure to merge her spirit with the spirit of her blade did distress her slightly, but it was what it was.

In the meantime, as she recovered, she began to meditate, to try and connect her spirit with that of the living world, this precious jewel that was now under attack, if she could help, if she could understand how to revitalize this world of her two worlds, she would do whatever she could, no matter what it might cost.

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There is a brilliant flash of blue and red as Hideko slashes through demons. Dozens are cut down and burn away from the attack.

"DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE!!"

She said shooting at several with her guns before the barrels start smoking.

After awhile she sits down on a small rock and thinks.

"I spoke to her one second...and then she was gone....."

Rebecca's death still rung in her mind. She heard it when she died. The connection to Seatalon's Comlink going dead as Soulgain annihilated it and Rebecca at the same time.

"I should have been there"

She flies off. She then purposely breaks off pieces of her sword, unsummons it, resummons it and repeats. Then Hideko ties some on to the pieces until it's a crude looking cross. Then she sticks it on top of a hill.

"Good bye Rebecca. I wish we could have spent more time together, my friend."

Hideko's eyes tear up.

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This was what was called a 'lull.'

Lily hated lulls.

During a pitched battle, there was utter focus. Survival. Defeating the foe. The goals were clear. But then came the wait. There was time to think. Time to wonder. The lines blurred and melted. The uncertainty grew.

Something was wrong, and she didn't know what. The invasion of Aradia had to be stopped, of course, but more and more she wasn't sure it was the 'real' fight. A feint maybe? To distract them? Or maybe just the demons and invaders exploiting a weakness. A side effect. An...accident.

In a curl of blue light she stepped from the field headquarters out into the meadow beyond...the last island of health and green in the world, if intel was right. It looked big when you were in it. But seen from orbit it was a tiny spot on an otherwise dead world.

Could they still save it?

Lily sat down on a hillock covered in tall grass and flowers. Other people were handling things. Recon flights, orbital observation, even magical scrying...information was still their biggest lack, and it was almost impossible to get. There was nothing she could do to add to that effort.

Well, nothing directly.

The idea that came to her mind was a little distasteful. But then again...what did it mean if she held her pride over the well being of everyone here? If she could help, shouldn't she? No matter what?

She curled her fingers into the grass and closed her eyes.

Mother.

There was the sensation of suddenly moving at titanic speeds, through a circular tunnel lined with glowing blue crystal. Lily knew that tunnel...it was the deep path into the heart of Dalaraan where Tsunami's essence burned with cerulean flame.

Daughter. The 'voice' was tired, but full of welcome and warmth.

Not sure how to start, Lily opened with, How are you? An honest question, since Tsunami had expended great power in the battle over Dalaraan, and been wounded by Hizashi's foul ally.

I'm fine. Skye has been bringing the people back to me. All hurts will be mended, in time. Your brother and sister are well too. There was a brief pause, and Tsunami added with a touch of amusement, Was that all you wanted to talk about?

Lily burst out with a nervous laugh. No, she admitted. I need your help. I'm on Aradia. It's being overrun by demons and those 'invader' things the Federation was running from. Somehow they've got a dimensional portal to this place, and we can't find it. Is there anything you can...

The blue light swarmed around her. The 'presence' of Tsunami loomed close, enfolding her.

Daughter, things are not what they seem, the goddess said urgently. What is happening to Aradia is not what happened to the other dimensions. Save it if you can, but the monsters that threaten it are not the ultimate threat.

We're trying, Lily protested, a little dizzy with the power of the goddess' presence around her. The portal is what we need to find. But the demons have hidden it too well.

Tsunami paused for a moment, and when she spoke again it was 'quieter'...there was a peculiar sense of furtiveness that made no sense. What would a goddess be worried about overhearing her? There are two things you need to know. Two things I can risk telling you. The Aradian Council is still alive, in the heart of the world. They're surrounded by demonic forces, but those forces have not yet broken through to them.

The Aradian Council? But what...?

...they can help you end the invasion. Now, daughter, do you remember the old tales? I once explained how the cosmos, with all its dimensions, came to be to your ancestors. Did they pass it on? Do you remember it?

Lily gaped, completely taken off-guard. I...uh...I well...yes? Pretty much.

Good. And you remember the spell you were taught on Ikaris?

Now totally flummoxed, Lily could only nod.

I've done all I can for you now. Chaos has always been with yo...

Lily started, suddenly back in herself, on the hill in the grass with Aradia stretching out before her. The communion with Tsunami had been cut short, as cleanly as with a knife. Her last words had been hurried, as if she had been aware that time was running out and was trying to get them through at the last possible second.

But why? Why did she have to stop? Was she out of power? That seemed impossible.

For several minutes Lily tried to reach out again, but the trance never came, the goddess never replied.

The princess of Dalaraan jumped to her feet and in an eyeblink was back in the palace. She grabbed the first Satoshi officer she found and demanded, "Where's Kai? I need to talk to him right away!"

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Kai was sitting atop the Cheiftan, Meditating. Klan sat therw with him, in Her child like form, having come planetside after the fleet returned from sanitizing space.

Lily was directed there, and found the two Captains sitting quietly, with a small picnic set up. It was so out of place with what was not all that far away, but then, with this group, what would be the norm, wasn't.

"Kai opened his eyes when Lily arrived, and smiled. "Something on your mind Lily?" There was a momentary flash of some sort of emotion from Klan's eyes, but she said nothing and smiled to the crown princess.

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Lily looked briefly at Klan, but decided the other Captain could hear this too.

"I decided to get in touch with...mother," she said, flushing slightly. It still felt weird to say. "She told me the Aradian Council is still alive deep below the surface, and that they could help us end the invasion once and for all. We just have to get to them. But that isn't all."

She hesitated, not sure what to say...finally she just said it straight out. "Something's wrong. My...our connection...it was cut off. I have no idea what could possibly do that. She sounded nervous, or...like someone was watching her. And she told me that what was happening here wasn't the cause of the disappearing dimensions. I think she was trying to tell me more, but she didn't get a chance."

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Kai nodded. "I held hope that they lived, as if any would tell us the truth about what's happening, it would be them." He sighed. "Your being cut off like that though is worrisome. We cannot send messages or receive them right now without a portal, so something could be happening back home."

"That's the most obvious answer, though what could be occurring to halt a Goddess, I don't know." He looked at her, and nodded. "I knew this wouldn't stop the events befalling reality, but Aradia has ever been a place of miracles."

Then Kai's eyes narrowed considerably. "What, exactly, did she say, before she was cut off?"

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The damaged armor and pilot collapsed within the Nadesko's hangar bay, crews rushed to remove the armor from the giantess. Piece by piece Angelus is dismantled from her broken arm and torso, she was breathing short shallow breaths, her ribs were broken, blood dripping from the wound in her chest.

"Get her to the cloning pod now!" The crews rushed, using mecha to help move her to the pod. Her clone pod whirred to life as the genetic fluid filled the pod, soothing her wounds as it began the process. "Looks like she's stabilizing, good work everyone," The doctor types in a few instructions, "don't need her trying to go back out there right now, best let her sleep."

She did sleep, a well earned rest, ready to fight again when she was needed.

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Gai waited in the hangar for news on Shiyu after his return, and indeed Klan didn't leave her side until her new organs were in and took fully. She'd been hurt on her watch, and it was possible that Shiyu was the last female Precursor...

"please be alright." she whispered over the Recovery tank holding Shiyu before going back to her duties, and returning planetside to meet with Kai.

Captain Hoshino kept a close eye, long after Shiyu's body had healed, and detected a link to Gai, she wasn't the only one watching., waiting for her to return to them.

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Aradia was not simply a place of miracles, it was a living world, the planet was wounded, and perhaps supressed, but in effect, the world was a sentient and powerful being in it's own right. Their inhabitants had long fought evil and darkness thoughout all of the worlds, at the moment Sakura had been trying to connect with the world, but it didn't quite seem to be working, and she went to seek out Kai.. as a Skeleton Key he could open the way and they could seek the Seraphim Assembly together.

She approached just enough to hear the tail end of the conversation between Kai and Lily. "I was going to ask for your help to seek the council.. but from the sound of things that may not be necessary." She paused as the other reason she had thought to seek him out came up. "Kai.. you are a skeleton key, an opener of the way, it is your power to deal with keys and locks, on all levels, even such places as the mind and soul."

"I am partly of earth and partly of aradia, and from what you told me, I am the Master Key here.. there must be a way to use this to help this world and my people here."

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Lily turned and acknowledged Sakura with a nod, then waved her hand, trying to regain control of the conversation.

"Just wait a second, there's more. This invasion...the demons and aliens...they're not the ones destroying dimensions. Something else is. Tsunami couldn't tell me what, exactly...but I think she tried to give me a clue."

She frowned and looked away, chewing worriedly at her bottom lip. The business with Tsunami was eating at her, and it was hard to focus.

"She asked if I remembered an old story, of how the universe came to be. It's different than the priests tell now. Now they talk about how Tsunami made the universe, but...when I was growing up, my father told me a different version..."

With a deep breath, Lily closed her eyes and tried to remember.

"The universe was made by two things...Order and Chaos. The thing called Chaos was the source of all energy, of all ideas and the endless imagination creation demanded. Order had the discipline, and the grasp of logic and rules needed to get it done, and have it all make sense. They worked together, and the wonders of all the worlds are the result. But once it was all done...the fire of Chaos giving the universe life, and the rules of Order giving it structure...the two found they wanted the universe to progress and grow differently. They had a falling out and became enemies, of a sort. They couldn't hurt one another, being equal and opposite, so they play out their struggle in the cosmos. All the universe is their gameboard, and even the gods are their pieces."

She shrugs and opens her eyes. "I asked a priest once about it when I was younger, and he said there are lesser gods and greater gods, but words like 'order' and 'chaos' are just talking about patterns in nature itself, not 'people.' So that was the end of it."

Lily looks at her hands uneasily. "But...just before she was cut off, Tsunami managed to say something like 'Chaos is always with you,' or...no. Was with me from the start. Something like that. She didn't finish it. What could just...cut her off like that, Kai?" She looked up at Kai, her eyes now finally showing the fear that had been rising all this time.

"What could just snap her back, like a dog on a leash?"

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Kai looked at Sakura and nodded. "We will find them, and we will Save Aradia, I promise."

Lily's story drew his complete attention, and Klan tensed as she could feel apprehension from Kai, and even see his jaw clench.

"The only one who can order someone like Tsunami like a dog on a leash is the one she serves. It should be obvious, Lily, that Order itself is Tsunami's master."

He scowled. "Suddenly it all makes a whole lot of sense. The destruction of all the alternate realities and futures, Consolidating down to a single ordered Reality."

He looked at her. "Tsunami could be forced to be our enemy, Lily."

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"That's ridiculous!" Lily snapped, a little too hastily. "Even if, IF, that story has its roots in some kind of truth, if there WAS some kind of huge...overgod of Order, he wouldn't be able to do this! Chaos counterbalances him! If one or the other was completely free to do what they wanted, the universe as we know it would just...end, re-made in a heartbeat!"

She looks away, and the confrontational quality in her tone faded.

"Besides...if that's what it is...then there's no hope. We can't fight something like that. Even if we could, if we defeated it...then the universe would unravel."

Something else tickled in her mind then, and she frowned. What had Tsunami asked her. About the story, yes...but what else.?

The spell.

She whirled around to look at Kai.

"Ragnablade. She asked me about that. If I remembered it. Why would she ask me that?"

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"What now?" Francis teleported onto the scene, apparently released from the medics now, armor repaired. "I get the feeling things may be getting worse?"

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Kai looked at Francis and nodded. "Abit, yes. Evidently we're up against the fundamental force of Order in existence."

He looked back to Lily. "To answer your question, think about the Spell's invocation.

"Fragment of the Lord of Nightmares" he paused. "The Lord of Nightmares is the source of all magic in reality, and what is magic, if not a tool of the ultimate chaos of imagination?"

"Release thy heavenly retribution" he nodded "A power not invoked lightly, a power beyond all others."

"Blade of cold, black nothingness" a pause "This suggests it's a tool to banish impure reality, as nothingness is the absence of all. Something poetic for Chaos to use as its weapon."

"Become my power, become my body" "You call the power within you hollowing out a part of you for the nothingness to forge a bond, the only way to control it."

"Together, let us walk the path of destruction" "This is clear its intended usage, wiping away that which shouldn't be."

"And smash even the souls of the Gods" A final nod to the power of this weapon. Not even Gods stand before it, only someone of even greater power, or who knows and parries with the spell itself, can hope to not be struck down by it." As Kai spoke, his voice took a darker turn, and the skies blackened overhead. His eyes seemed to flash gold here and there as he dissected the spell's invocation.

"It's the same with the true spell I know, the one I cast, nearly miscast, against Takashi." He looked to Francis. "You suffered much there, to buy me the time I needed. If not for you, none might stand here now."

"The Gigaslave calls down the Lord of Darkness herself, offering the caster as price for destroying all foes before them. The Lord of Darkness knows no allies, thus unless directed properly, all stand as foe before her."

"She's grown bitter, and now we know why. All the realities she has willed into existence, all those created because she gave us free will, the means of exercising it upon reality, are disappearing. Her Opposite, in her quest for perfect order has unbalanced the scales, nearly fatally."

"On one side stands perfect order, unchanging, without innovation, or progression, static, and stagnant. All our allies, even we ourselves have fought for this, up until now, in the name of defending others."

"The other side holds Chaos, but also life, the boundless potential to change and grow. There will not be the best of times, it will be hard, but all things strive to live, amidst the chaos, adapting, changing, and progressing."

Kai looked at them. "I would choose a middle path, Order, for we are more than beasts, and can go higher still. Yet I won't stifle the desire to strive, or change, Creativity and innovation is necessary, else all things stagnate."

He looked at them. "We have to restore the balance, at all costs."

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Lily looked startled, then deeply disturbed as Kai's revelation progressed. Finally she looked at her hands, perhaps remembering the power she'd called into them on several occasions, and wielded as a sword.

"How do we fight something like that? How do we restore balance? This is...way over our heads. We don't even know what happened to cause the balance to be lost in the first place. And if what you're saying is right, our only ally would just as happily kill us as our enemies."

She shook her head. "But Tsunami said she'd been with us from the start. Chaos, I mean. That doesn't make any sense. Everyone who was with us at the start is gone now, off doing other things, or dead, or turned against us. There's just you, and me now."

Then Lily's eyes widen a little. "Except...Valerie. She's still...well, she's still sort of with us. That weapon's corrupted her, but...do you think it could be her?"

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"It isn't Valerie."

"He looked at Lily. "There's one person who has been with us since this all began Lily. One who has ever been our ally. The one who taught us to say these invocations, who gave us true magic."

He looked at her, holding her gaze. "Akina."

"All along, as Atsushi he watched us, died for us. As Akina, she guided us. Death would hold little sway over eternal chaos, and wasn't one of his powers to make belief into reality?"

He sat there, unable to say more. There it was, laid out before them.

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Francis looked blank, struggling mightily to follow and comprehend the enormity of what was being suggested here. Finally he found something to latch onto that he could respond to here. "Akina was a guy? And isn't she all the way on Earth?"

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