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Haru01
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Fri May 08, 2020 10:35 pm
Luke thought about Pel's question for a bit. He opened his mouth to reply, but decided to first take a quick peek at whatever Jack was looking at. It confirmed his suspicions on what exactly would happen next.

He returned back to Pel, a bit more nervous than before. "Phase two, is when they send more of their infantry in, and try to mop up whatever resistance that is left. It's informally called 'Hammering' by the Vetran. And Phase three, what we call 'Cooling', is when they completely take over the town. Considering that there's a Vetran walker here, I would say that they are in Phase two, and I would suggest we move soon."
Xate
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Mon May 11, 2020 7:55 pm
Jack noticed two things of note among the chaotic battlefield of Immaburrows. One was the fleeing female Silidars carrying their injured males. This could hunt at a potential escape the party could take to avoid the Vetran pursuers. He could also have one of his teammates carry an injured or dead Vetran to prove they were friendly and not hostile to the locals. Maybe the exit could take them straight to the Apex, but it could be a shelter, a functionally dead end for their group.

The second thing he saw was not a potential solution to their situation, but an approaching problem on two lanky legs. It was a Vetran walker, a humanoid robot brandishing strong weaponry and an accompanying squadron of soldiers. While he could potentially trip such a mech on his own with his whip and skill, he couldn’t do so without bullets into his back, front and everywhere else. He could get Xerkin and co. to work together to take the squadron down before they could ask for help and acquire their weaponry and even an oversized brightlance for the oversized Hollowed.

Jack couldn’t help but wonder how the Church of Sun Blessed Martyrs could get so much influence, based on its insignia on military grade weapon, in sharp contrast with its fringe existence a decade ago while he was a immigrant craftsman. But he soon discarded the line of thought to make room for more tactical calculations and risk management. This was not the time for idle speculation.

He headed back to the group and informed them of the fleeing Silidars and the potential exit, as well as the risk of a dead end shelter. He also followed up with Luke and mentioned the walker, emphasizing a quick course of action, whether to follow the Silidars or to take the isolated squadron for their weaponry before they could call for help.
Skelly
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Tue May 12, 2020 1:22 am
"We don't need names. Tell me details, methods..." Peladryia was almost to interrupt Luke as he started talking, but eventually her attention got dragged away by the voices of passerby. Among many words and shouts, a phrase of Steel Giant, especially.

This...this is an example of important information. The fact that Jack confirmed the 'rumors' did not make her feel better about the situation.

"Ah, forget it..." The girl murmured much more quietly before zoning out for a moment, staring somewhere into oblivion, as silhouettes of walkers far away came into her peripheral vision. In this short time of absence, Peladryia tried to consider and compare all the options given to them, as well as their consequences. She came to a quick realization that...there was no good course of action. Their mission's objective, her personal ideals and simple reason all came down clashing on each other inside her head in a fight that had no winner. One could see her fingers tense upon the held bundle for a moment, before she spoke up again.

"For now, we need to get out of here. Then I'll explain the rest. We will leave through the main gate." Pel announced as if she gave sound only to the last thought in a long chain of such. "Xerkin, I'll need you to throw this high above the battlefield, following my directions regarding to when, and where." The girl showed the bundle to the large hollowed. "It should grant us a chance to escape. Can you do that?"
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Fri May 15, 2020 5:43 pm
Everyone, Immarrow City
The stench of burnt flesh had gotten stronger as the vetran closed in on the city. The vetran walkers moved silently as their brightlances lay waste on the city's structures. It didn't take long for some of that light was targetted at them.

From the side at the main gate came forth the preacher. His golden filigree mask shone underneath the fires and moonlight and approached the party but still meters apart.

"Ah, travelers?" He said in an almost excited tone and noticed none of them were of the silidar, seemingly pleased by that observation. "Seems you are marked with sin, travelers. Would you hear the Gospel of the Sun?" And his eyes glinted blue as the rest of his squad, after finishing off the silidar that ambushed them, moved to his side. One of the squad members approached the preacher and pointed right at Luke Kowalski and the Preacher stared at him for a moment.

"I do not recognize you, brother," the Preacher announced pointing at the lone vetran of the party. "Come forth, name yourself!"

Peladyria felt an ache in her mind, a seething memory from within. Yes! YES! THE GOSPEL OF THE SUN. PRAISE BE THE SUN AND ITS CHILDREN! This female voice was new, was strong, it felt strong but she had not heard of this voice before. Join them! They are the truth and the way, the lighted path and the guide in the sands.

Haru01
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Fri May 15, 2020 10:43 pm
When Luke was spotted, along with the rest of the group, he mentally kicked himself for not forcing them to move faster. Then again, he was never the "strong leader" type, and he wasn't in command of them, so what did he expect?

Words seemed to fail him, as the Preacher pointed a mechanical finger at his face. His mind seemed to frantically race about, before it finally calmed down and began to consider the available options.

His initial indecisiveness that plagued him before reappeared once again. Looking over the Vetran squad, he felt that their chances of winning would be low if the party chose to directly engage them now. These soldiers were some of the best - they were deadly, and extremely coordinated. While they had plenty of dangerous fighters, they had little experience fighting together. Perhaps he could try to talk his way out, maybe negotiate for them to leave unharmed.

But on the other hand, he felt a burning feeling in his chest, a feeling that seemed to pour forth from his heart as he gazed at the Preacher directly. The feeling of hatred. He remembered what this cult had done to his research, to his company, to his workers. He remembered the machines that were "accidentally" broken, the public speeches of denouncement, the irritatingly haughty and overconfident nature of their members. They thought they were the the kings of the world, stomping on the "heathen" who refused to convert, disrupting trade deals and cooperation without any qualms. Even if those trade deals would've helped the march of progress.

Run or fight? That was what it boiled down to. Luke knew the odds against him were unfavorable, but did it matter? Of course it did, but did he care?

He knew the logical choice. But his brain, after capitulating to logic time and time again, was fed up.

It was time for action, and he would consider the consequences later. If he wasn't dead.

He hid his arms behind his back, converting them into his weapons, while slowly moving towards a substantially high pile of rubble. An almost-imperceptible nod of the head to Peladryia, which he hoped would alert her to what was in store.

Suddenly, he rolled behind it.

Shield in front. Fire.

He unleashed 3 quick shots, directed at the preacher and two members of the backline.
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Sat May 16, 2020 1:19 am
Everyone, Immarrow City
The shots were fired from Luke's right arm and everything after was defined by those actions. The three shots the vetran of the party had taken tore through two of the Sun-Blessed behind the preacher, their armors shattered right on impact. The preacher pulled up his fist to neck height and a blue shield of his own deflected Kowalski's attack.

"Such impudence!" The preacher declared, the glint in his eye turning to rage. "A traitorous steel is in our midst my fellow brethren! We must cleanse him and his partners in crime! For the Imperium and the Sun-Blessed Exarch!"

With those words, the rest of the squad moved, their brightlances primed and aimed at the party. Two of them made for the front line, spreading their palms outward, projecting an energy shield to cover for their lancers. From one side of the party, the vetran walker had finally noticed them and everyone could hear the hum of its massive brightlance as it took aim.

"Cleanse them of their sin!" The preacher declared as he raised both hands into the air as if praising the sunless sky.

There was only a few seconds to react before things got dicey.
Archanine
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Sat May 16, 2020 4:57 am
Tryssa's knee was bouncing as the Vetran approached, even more so when Luke stepped forward to respond to them. She knew she shouldn't have played nice and waited for Pel to do whatever dumb fuck plan she had in mind. Trusting others gets us killed. She slowly stood up, doing her best not to fall over from her drunken imbalance.

She didn't have time to intervene before Luke fired off at the preacher, digging them into an even worse spot. Fuck Luke, fuck Pel, fuck these stupid tin cans, and fuck being subtle. The void gripped and ripped away at Tryssa and in an instant she was gone, the only sign that she had been there was a slightly disturbed ground.

Just like that, Tryssa vanished.
Skelly
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Sat May 16, 2020 6:48 am
Everything went south all too quick.

The Vetran suddenly closed in the party's position, when she looked away for just a moment. They were surrounded, with a Steel Giant on the flank. Luke opened fire on the enemy, without any consideration or plan in mind. Tryssa literally disappeared...not mentioning that these monsters killed countless, and burned the forest.

Her forest. All this wouldn't have happened, if Fades were any competent in at least one damned thing.

Despite trying her best, Peladryia's patience was running thin. She could feel the crack in her fortifications. Actually, she could hear it more than so. The growing buzz of annoyance.

"I'm done." Pel muttered to herself after a deep breath. There was one, singular plus side to all this. The Vetran preacher and his squad were all clumped up together, close to her, and well within reach. A serving on a golden plate. "Xerkin, The Machine!." Was all that Peladryia yelled out, before she began to move with uncanny for her deftness and speed.

The healer spun around, throwing her bundle down the alley with a preacher, above the squadron's heads. Using the inner momentum and her other hand, the girl also chucked a familiar looking flask of dark liquid down the other alley. Given the rush, the throw was clumsy, but it's only purpose was to put an obstacle wherever between the walker and the party. Spinning all the way around and completing her flourish, Peladryia threw one last thing into the air. One of her charms followed suit after the package, striking it while it was still mid air. The whole maneuver came to an end as quickly as it came to life, lasting for not much longer than a blink of an eye. For a split second it seemed as if nothing have happened however, before the paper scrap burst into flames, starting the reaction.
Xate
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Sat May 16, 2020 4:25 pm
Madness. It was madness that grabbed hold of Luke the Vetran that caused him to lash out at a superior opponent, especially while accompanying others for a completely different task. He couldn’t believe that a man of the technological city would act so rashly. Actually, he could. Jack could wager a guess that the difference between the fringe cult that the Church was and the behemoth that was bearing down on them could be explained by its morally questionable actions to expand its influence. Or Jack could avoid spending energy on a useless line of thought and focus on the mess that Luke put everyone in.

The solution was a simple, if cruel and unethical. Jack quickly approached the armed ally behind rubble to pull him out and present him to the preacher, offering him as a sacrifice to let the rest free, playing on their desire to convert potential devout followers. Furthermore, they could negotiate to act as escort straight to the Apex, whose life had already been condemned by the Fates.

And then another twist of event. A voice, and a puff of smoke. Tryssa was gone, leaving a faint trail of lingering smoke. Teleportation, figures. Void magic seems to involve shadows and mutations a lot, in comparison to the inner Ki of - Jack cut his own internal monologue and pivoted away from Luke, planning out a different course of action. With Tryssa gone, he really couldn’t convince the preacher the group was of one mind, with the exception of a rebel Vetran. Perhaps he could use Peladryia as a medium to convince the Church to let them help exterminate the Silidar. There was only one particular Silidar he wanted to save, but he believed she would be able to get away, and that she would understand his reasoning for joining her enemies. At least, however, the healer could use her knowledge to protect the team and -

And Peladryia just lobbed a grenade of sort into the air. The entire group was going to war now. Jack could see a beacon of light from the faraway Walker, ready to fire a destructive beam at them with its lance. He could hear the shaman directing Xerkin toward it, so he had to act now, before yet another person performed something stupid, like say Arthur and charging blindly at the preacher.

He focused on two main goals. Survival. Protection. And so, he did it. Jack charged toward Peladryia and carried her with his arms before charging into the side alleys where the shops were. He memorized the streets from when the group entered and he reached the bar, so Jack could plan a route that would let him slip past the enemies and toward the fleeing Silidars.

“I will ensure your safety! Meet with the fleeing Silidars, map a route to Slitherscale, meet my contact whose stealth and knowledge will lead us to safety and the Apex.” Jack said over the cacophony of explosions, eyeing toward the few Silidars heading for the exit.

He really should have packed a gun, or a bomb for this mission.
Haru01
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Sun May 17, 2020 1:30 am
1, 2, 3. 3 Shots fired. Two of them hit their mark, but the preacher was unharmed.

Out the outside, Luke looked as if he was carved out of stone. His face was emotionless aside from a slight frown and a shifted eyebrow. But internally, he was frustrated.

Luke knew his odds were terrible, but he had hoped that the 10% chance of death would work out in his favor. Instead, as the brightlances charged and the walker lumbered further, Luke knew that his death was incoming.

He had been afraid of it. When the "imaginary pictures" in his head would put on a few possible scenarios of what it would be like, he used to feel like curling up in a ball. Perhaps it would be decapitation, an swift chop to the head. Asphyxiation. Poisoning. Something quick, with only a slight flash of pain, or a drawn-out, agonizing process.

But, when Luke stared at the barrels of the lightlances, he thought to himself, This isn't a bad way to go out.

He would die with his hands on his - er- converted to his weapons, staring down upon 50 flashing lights and a enraged preacher. The power of the brightlances would burst through the rubble, striking him multiple times in the center of his chest, punching holes into him like he was made out of clay. Death was never something he had looked forward to, but at least he would die in battle, having killed two. At least, when he reached wherever his soul would go, either to the pearly gates or into the nothingness, he could say that he followed through with how he felt, with what he wanted to do.

Unfortunately, a "honorable" death wasn't in the cards. As he lowered down the sights once more, intent on taking down at least another two and inflicting an injury on the preacher, Jack began to quickly walk towards him. Luke stared at him in confusion, his arm poised to fire. There was little reason to not lope into a full-on sprint if he wanted to hide behind the rubble. Plus, he knew that even though Knight Jack had a penchant for being all "noble" and such, he was much more smarter than he looked. Of course, this was all speculation: he hadn't built some sort of "rock-solid" case, filled to the brim with concrete examples and evidence. But he had a feeling, as Luke stared into Jack's face, that there was more to him than what Jack had shown so far.

So, Jack couldn't be hiding. He couldn't be running, or else he wouldn't have taken this path. What was Jack's intent? Luke's brain scrambled for an answer. He observed, as his gun shot three more times, a soft click underlining each one.

Maybe he had come to kill him? No, Jack didn't have his weapon out. But it seemed as if his arm was slightly angled forward. Any gesture such as a handshake would be idiotic. Processing the data, Luke's brain came to a possible answer.

Jack knew as well as he did that the group couldn't fight. That left two clear options: run, or surrender. Jack had not chosen to run, or else he would've been gone by now. So the only option left was to surrender, and judging by the fact that Jack hadn't surrendered himself already, he was probably going to tell Luke to give up. Maybe Jack would try to negotiate a surrender for the group. Where were the bargaining chips? Another conclusion: the only bargaining chip would be himself. Maybe if Luke were to give himself up, the rest could act like they never knew him. Or, if they played their cards right....

Suddenly, Pel threw a combination of objects. Luke's sharp eyes, steadied by his focus, managed to catch a glimpse of them. A flask of dark liquid? Where had he seen that before? And a white blur of.. paper?

The paper suddenly burst into flames, and Luke understood. Not fully, but enough to know what he had to do.

He had to use this distraction before the soldiers overcame their shock. Transforming his gunarm back to its natural state, he began to sprint with his shield by his side. In the corner of his eye, he could see Jack pick up Peladryia, and duck into a side alley. He chose to take a different one, clanking into the darkness. That way, the possibility of all of them being captured would be nullified.

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Mon May 18, 2020 12:31 am
Xerkin's body ached, his mind was racing, he wasn't ready for any of this. Xerkin came to help people, but was now surrounded by carnage and destruction. The dead were everywhere, and the only objective in his mind was to make sure his friends didn't join them. Pel yelled at him to take out the machine, he guessed that meant the big robot thing. He wondered if he still needed that ball thing or not she was talking about before. It didn't matter, he guessed. Setting it down gently, he turned to Tryssa.

"Tryssa, what should I d-" but she had disappeared while he wasn't looking. Xerkin felt very alone, this isn't what he wanted at all. He gave in once more, pushing himself to protect his friends as the void infused with his very being. His body surged with vigor and strength as he charged towards the walker, even with his increased size, it stood fairly taller than him. However, it was thin. Perhaps he could simply over power it. His tablecloth cloak flew off as he rushed forward, all eight limbs bulging with void-influence.

The walker aimed its cannon at him. Faster. he focused, his lungs burning as he pushed further. His head throbbing as he gave more and more to the void. Purple void energy crackled across his body as his speed became faster, his form becoming a blur. Moments before reaching his target he leaped, colliding into the center of the mech, the impact sending him straight through and flying through the other side, crashing into an already mostly destroyed building, causing even more to fall down around him.
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Mon May 18, 2020 1:54 am
Everyone, Immarrow City

Moments during times of war were precious, iretrievable and the arbiter of life and death. There was no time to think, simply move. No time to rationalize, simply survive. Each second, an opportunity. Each opportunity, a door closing.

...First second...Two..

Peladryia faced Xerkin and gave an order, her face contorting as she looked at the force they were about to face. Xerkin moved his arm, reaching for a familiar form only for it to collapsed into a singular point, sucked into a void. He clenched his fist, alone with Pel's order.

The Preacher raised his hands and his squad rushed to fulfill it, their mechanical movements precise and calculated. The vetran soldiers in the front expanded their palm shields, the bright blue energy escaping from their palms, connecting like the penumbra of shadows.

...Third second... Fourth..

Luke lowered his gun arm, believing his actions to be true, to have merit. Believing death was coming rightfully but Peladryia wasn't done with just an order to Xerkin. She spun, threw a bundle one way, a flask another. The vetran watched the bundle soar clumsily into the air. Behind him, he heard the visceral tone of muscle's expanding and the noise of bones readjusting to their new positions. A surge of energy pulsed all throughout the male hollowed's body and within a flash of a second, he charged.

The walker caught a glimpse of the Xerkin's movement and its brightlance moved to face it.

...Fifth... Sixth... Seventh...

The flask crashed onto the ground and expanded into a ever expanding cloud of smoke, Xerkin pushed through. Pushed himself. The walker fired. The piercing light shot through the cloud but struck nothing but air, leaving a gaping hole through the cloud. It fired again, this time it grazed the hollowed's arm but it mattered little as Xerkin rushed forward. Pushed himself forward. In the moment that the hollowed burst through the smoke cloud the walker reached for the scimitar on its back.

Peladryia's final throw, a charm towards the bundle that went for the preacher and his squad. The Preacher noticed the object and raised a finger. The rest of his soldiers braced themselves and raised their weapons up. The bundle soared, the vetran energy sheild rose to meet it and it struck the field at its very edge, clipping it.. flipping it over at the last moment. In that second, the charm connected. Luke watched in horror and relief as the package ignited and rained down a familiar powder on their opponents.

..Eighth. Ninth.

Luke watched the squad of vetran, their armor seeming crumbling to dust. To nothing. He recognized it, he knew of it. Steel Rot.  The soldier stumbled back and their knees gave way. Their hands crumbled to dust, their chests collapsed inward revealing their heart to the elements. The shield bearers fell forward, screaming. Their backside slowly being eaten away. The Preacher was the only one left standing, his armor darkened, weakened, crumbling.. but strong enough to hold.

The walker managed to grab onto the scimitar's handle then Xerkin crashed through and landed behind it in a building. The walker fell backwards, leaving blood, guts and oil spilling onto the soil.

=-=-=-=-=-=-

Arthur Cadwell, Jack Knight, Luke Kowalski and Peladryia Arvona, Immarrow City Intersection

"Blaspheme!" The Preacher denounced and tried to move forward only for his feet to disconnect by the ankle. He fell forwards and caught himself with his hands, only for those to disintegrate right before his eyes. "Slaughter the sinners!" He announced with a vengeance. "Slaughter them all!"

The few soldiers left from the explosion abided and began to move towards the party, firing their brightlances indiscrimately. Peladryia breathed in and readied himself only for Jack to scoop her up and bring her to an alleyway, and all the while protesting the sudden action. Luke nodded absently and rushed to another alley, quickly followed suit by Arthur. The soldiers moved to follow, splitting their force three and two, the former with Peladryia and Jack.

Xerkin Shayatin, Immarrow City Alley B

The structure had collapsed on top of him but it wasn't much of a trouble for the strength he had on hand. Wooden beams and stone walls were on top of him. He could hear the sound of metal footfalls approaching him.
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Mon May 18, 2020 9:20 am
Arthur followed Luke, hoping to escape the chaos for a moment and regroup. The sound of footsteps could be heard behind them

And just like that, everything has gone to hell..

Frustrated at the general lack of teamwork and worried about Xerkin and his other teammates, Arthur stopped and turned around to face the oncoming opponent's. He felt they had created enough distance, and he needed to vent a little. He drew his sword and stood centered in the alleyway and waited for them to approach.

The moment the two Vetran came into view, he rushed forward. Arthur threw his sword at the closest one, his blade sinking deep into his chest, stopping at the hilt. By the time the second Vetran had realized what was happening, Arthur had already called his sword back to his hand and was nearly within reach. He quickly raised his bright lance and aimed it at Arthur, but Arthur was quicker. With one decisive swing Arthur removed the Vatrans head from his body. An unusually brutal thing for Arthur to do. But he was frustrated, and focused on only 2 things; Completing the mission, and returning to his family. Arthur gave the deceased Vetrans a passing glance before slinging the blood off his claymore and sheathing it.

He quickly returned to Luke's side. "We need to regroup. I think we should head back, it looked like the remaining Vetrans spread out, and I didn't see Xerkin run off."
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Mon May 18, 2020 10:38 am
Peladryia observed the deadly effects of her performance, as an entire Vetran squad crumbled to dust within seconds. Steel Rot was never supposed to be used in this way. Just like with any other tool however, a human found a way to hurt the other with it. Could they really be called human anymore though? The question plagued her ever since they appeared in the Immarrows gates, and she still haven't received her answer. Few of the metal men surprisingly still stood their ground, standing on her way to the truth.

Pel braced herself with a fan of paper charms in one hand, and a fistful of Steel Rot seeping slowly between the fingers of the other. "Nature reclaims a- ah?!" There was a short, quiet yelp when something swooped her off her feet, and off the rifles' sights. Acting off of instinct, the girl almost assaulted the 'attacker', before realizing it was one of her teammates. It seemed as if Knight Jack still perceived her as a damsel in distress. Peladryia just barely refrained from elbowing his guts for placing his hands on her, and she would probably do so if not worse, should they not be chased by gunmen. The urge was further being increased by the nonsense Jack's been spitting. Why would she, of all people need a Silidar contact?

"Put me down." The healer growled an order, as soon as they cut the line of sight in on of the alleyways. Knight Jack hastily complied, as if he could sense the possible consequences. "Your bravery is appreciated..." Pel quickly dusted herself off. "...but I assure you I had everything under control." There was something about her voice there,  it was ever so slightly off her usual monotone.  "We're not running away. I need to get back there."  The girl hugged the wall with her back, peaking the corner to check on their Vetran tail. "Three of them."
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Mon May 18, 2020 1:34 pm
Jack had an inkling of Peladryia's character, but he valued protecting one of the most sensible and vulnerable members of the group for the mission over leaving her to her own devices. That was why he whisked her away like a prince carrying her princess, even if she felt less like a princess and more of an aloof witch. But when she growled and demanded her be put down, Jack was quickly reminded of her personality and her capability to deal with threats, even as a healer. He couldn't really assess her abilities, unlike Luke's, Arthur's and Xerkin's. Tryssa's was also harder to pin down if he hadn't seen them demonstrated firsthand: shadow manipulation and teleportation. Could Peladryia use shamanistic Silidar magic, or is it Ki despite her non-Shento appearance? Or perhaps she's more of an alchemist and herbalist, judging by her tools and knowledge of the forest and its inhabitants thanks to the Toloki Silidars?

"Three of them." It was a worrying piece of information Peladryia had said. Jack immediately focused on his surroundings to devise a way to defeat his ranged opponents. He couldn't discount the possibility of the enemies giving the alley's corner a wide berth to not get sneak attacked.

"I will strike them from the air, Miss Peladryia. Please get into cover to avoid the enemies' fire," Jack paused for a bit, "However, I would like to ask for your alchemical assistance, if possible. I can get their attention for you to strike, or I can strike first and make an opening. Your call. Give me the one or two signal." He really wanted to handle this by himself, but the small pain from his ribs reminded him of the incident with the Silidar and the possibility of him being caught off guard. He had to maximize his chance of success, even at the risk of complications from working with another. She was the one who caused this much damage in the first place, so Jack had to back her up rather than the other way around. After all, striking the soldiers' cores to disable them is harder than straight-up melting them.

But there was another layer to his action. Jack had a feeling the group was tearing apart ever since Luke made a brash choice and Tryssa bailed. Furthermore, his action seemed to not jive well with Peladryia, who seemed to act as the group's commander for now. She did possess the mental fortitude, or potentially apathy, to deal with a ragtag group of strangers. But dealing with a group is not leading the group. To lead is to use fear or love to move your members to accomplish the goal, and she was simply going at her own pace. He had to give her practice on what it means to lead and cooperate with this example and groom her to be the head of the group. He tried to think of himself as a leader, but it didn't click with him. He was more of a rogue, working at the flank, covering the team's flanks while keeping an eye from the shadows. An ill-fitting thought of a knight, but fiction can't be the reality.

Eyeing up above, the pretend knight snapped his whip around a protrusion alongside a stone building that made up a part of the alley and took to the air, his legs firmly planted on the walls. Thanks to the almost rhythmic background cacophony, he may be able to strike from above without the soldiers noticing.
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Tue May 19, 2020 1:34 am
Tryssa was busy skulking around in the shadows, trying to sneak by a large Vetran Walker when Xerkin came barreling through it, literally through it. Yet again, the massive Hollowed was beneath a collapsed building, though this time to his own doing. Nine soldiers were approaching him in the debris, and while Tryssa had no intentions on sticking around, she simply couldn't leave Xerkin in such a precarious position.

"Hey you rust fuckers," Tryssa called over the foot soldiers to get their attention onto her. In both arms she held onto a brightlance that she.. acquired from someone who no longer had use of it. She moved her hands around, looking for any sort of mechanism she could use to activate it, even resorting to smacking it several times and grumbling expletives under her breath. "Ahh fuck it," she dropped the weapon and instead pulled the energy scimitar from the waist of the fallen Vetran. The world was still spinning around her, but she was focused. You've done this a thousand times, she reassured herself as the soldiers took aim. Void energy burst from Tryssa as her body instantly jetted closer to the soldiers, but to their flank as to dodge any attacks directed to where she once was. Another burst of energy shot her spinning into the formation, the energy scimitar slicing through several soldiers before Tryssa unintentionally released it in her drunken state and lost balance. The scimitar went spinning off, hopefully cutting through another soldier, while Tryssa lost balance and was sent rolling into the building Xerkin was at.
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Tue May 19, 2020 2:32 am
Peladryia listened to Jack's ideas with an impenetrable expression. "Fine." She finally murmured. "When you hear a firecracker, we strike at once." Pel showed Jack a small, flat paper box with a short fuse on the side, that she held up between her fingers. "Should be distinctive enough. If not, follow the thunder." And with that, she turned away from him as he challenged the steep, somehow still standing wall of a building.

Pel waited a moment, until she could hear the approaching Vetran somewhat well, meaning they were close enough. The healer lit the fuse of the firecracker, and lobbed it into the air above the street so that it would explode in the air with a series of tiny explosions and whistles. Given that the last time the Vetran witnessed a similar maneuver their whole squad got obliterated, it should be enough to cause distraction or momentary panic even, as well as to lead their aim away. Not waiting a split second for them to recover, Peladryia pushed herself away from the wall. She immediately sent a thick cloud of lethal silvery dust towards the soldier closest to her, before pointing some circular, flat object at the one furthest away. A flash and a thunderous crack tore through the street, as Pel unleashed a bright lightning arcing towards the Vetran. It tore right through his body, and sent dust and rubble flying from the structure behind him. One kill confirmed. It was probably a waste, but she didn't have much faith in Jack. She's not risking being shot at, just because she decided to misplace her trust in someone who might as well be two streets away already. With that in mind, her attention turned towards the steel-rot treated Vetran and his yet untouched companion, ready to act. The period of her surprise attack was over.
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Tue May 19, 2020 10:08 pm
Immarrow City Outskirts

Over the horizon, there was no mistake of an approaching army. The immarrows of the city that could, left, their priority protecting the medics they had on hand alongside their wounded and the rest fought to stall the steel tide. It wasn't a war, it was a massacre. The immarrow refugees made that made their way through the forest ran north, toward the Toloki tribe. Several others went westward, a team of seven silidar lead by Rok'Sharr towards the BloodBones. It had pained him to leave, to cross the city's limits without fighting alongside his brothers but his wounded pride meant little if his entire race was extinct. Nature is a fickle master, it is shameless, cruel and unfeeling. If it wanted your race dead, it would not bat an eye if it found you on your last breaths. Accept it or not, this was nature's way of telling them they were inadequate to survive.

And as Silidar, this hit them more than being unable to fight, to turn tail. As self-proclaimed champions of nature, they must survive.

Rok'Sharr and his pack finally passed through towards the territory of the Bloodbones. Thousands of eyes were on them despite not an inkling of their presense in sight. He had a mind to question the slitherscales lack of warning for this attack but that mattered little now. Information was better recieved earlier and right now, every other tribe needed to know.

"You must see the fires from here, brothers," Rok'Sharr exclaimed to the air. Bloodbone territory was different. Every tree was smeared with blood, some dry. Most fresh. The beasts here were rabid, horrible predators that cared for the hunt rather than the hunger it should quench. And the Bloodbones were no different.

The only indication of a reply was the rustling of leaves above them. It was enough for Rok'Sharr so he spoke again. "Send an emissary to the rest of the tribes. Let them know the steel men are here."

Another sound in the trees. Rok'Sharr's pack was uneasy but he looked at them, his gaze enough of an intimidation to steady their resolve. "We are not meant to strike alone. Lord Chieftain made it known as that."

The ground shook underneath Rok'Sharr and he stepped back. The earth underneath where he was cracked and gave way, and revealed a large silidar a few feet away emerging from the soil. Massive claws pushed it upright and its tail waved upwards to head height. Its several eyes opened and opened its maw to speak, its two rows of teeth shimmered under the moonlight.

"Bloodbone. Hears broken pride. Hears turntail cowardice." The massive silidar said as it rounded the pack, but its eyes still trained on Rok'Sharr. "Bloodbone. Hears trouble. Hears your plea. Hears nature's call of extinction," it leered and the leaves in the branches high above it rustled once more.

Rok'Sharr flinched at those words but stood his ground. He knew this would happen, he flexed his own claws and tired as they were, the rest of his pack did the same, wary of their own allied kin but the bloodbone lowered his head slowly and brought it back up. "Apex. One tribe now. Immarrow, Bloodbone. Formality. Message is now on its way. Apex of One."

Arthur Cadwell & Luke Kowalski, Immarrow City Alley A

As Arthur caught up to Luke, the alleyways they had chosen had closed off to debris walling their exit. From where they were, they could hear the Vetran speaking amongst themselves.

"Pleasing news for the great Exarch. So I can presume that the Makantor territory is now ours?"

"Affirmative."

"Now, cater to my query. Is there a tunnel in Makantor?"

"Negative."

"If the sun wills the cleansing of another group of sinners, so be it. When your batallion has finished their purge, proceed to the Slitherscales."

"Understood High Priest Draikos."

Tryssa Volg & Xerkin Shayatin, Immarrow City Alley B

With five soldiers taken down just like that in Tryssa's drunken state, the vetran squad was unsure what to make of it. For some of them, this would be the first time they had interacted with the furthest race from them. The surrounding structures began to collapse on their own from the blazes that consumed them. One of the remaining soldiers ran towards the downed walker, assessing the damage only for him to shake his head. A preacher moved forward from the backline after talking to someone from his helm.

"Makantor territory is --" High Priest Draikos was confused at what had transpired. He had heard of the walker's demise, the sound of crunching metal was very familiar but half his squad has been taken out and from what it looked like, their bodies with some distance to each other and the undeniable cut from an energy scimitar. "Did the sun leave your hearts, friends? Did the moon steal your resolve? Find whoever did took down that providence and terminate them."

The remaining soldiers stood up and moved towards the last known trajectory of the creature that barreled through their walker. Their brightlances were raised up and now knowing their opponent's melee capability, they brought out their scimitars.

Xerkin couldn't feel but he knew the familiar bump of Tryssa's weight and of course, her void signature. She had rolled down the catastrophe of a building he had collapsed into and now the two hollowed were reunited. Their reunion was quick to be interupted as the five soldiers surrounded the structure they had been in. One of them even called out to the High Priest.

"They're.. hollowed, High Priest Draikos," as if astounded they were here.

"Hollowed? In Silidar territory?" Draikos exclaimed. "Perhaps the Exarch foresaw this. A test, you see. Yes. A test for the years to come when we inevitably take control over the sinful void worshippers."

Down one alley, Arthur and Luke heard it all.

Knight Jack & Peladryia Arvona, Immarrow City Alley C
In their distraction the three soldiers shifted back quickly, fearing that their armor would crumble. In truth, some of them had but only insignifcantly but the mere sight of their fellows screaming in agony was enough to practice caution. And so they did but they were still unprepared. The ambush was quick, the thought of the steel rot showering over them had been fresh and their shift back was more frantic than calculated. The silver dust landed on the soldier at the front, his entire chest and face began to crumble away, his hands tried to dust it off only for him to tear through the metal faster until he accidentally smashed his own heart in a panic. Second, a disk zipped through the front two and in the gap between Pel and the last soldier was connected in an arc of lightning. Which left the middle soldier alone and stricken with fear.

With a bit of his own self encouragement, he grabbed his energy scimitar and charged at Peladryia, swinging the blade haphazardly in the alleyway. Each stroke of the blade that struck the wall was immediately burned as it slid through the stone and wood.

"For the Imperium!" the soldier cried.

Immarrow City, The Tunnel Entrance

From one side of the city, the vetran poured in. Their forces quelled the larger resistances of the immarrows, providences and preachers lead the assault leaving nothing but ash and corpses in their wake. Slowly, they reached the entrance of the tunnels. The massive entrance was blocked by a few boulders of which several of the providences moved to take care of it. Some of the preachers moved ahead to marvel at the tunnel, praising it to be the network of assault they will use, thanking the sinners for the demise they have wrought upon themselves.

Another preacher approached the soldier. "How's containment, faithful?"

"There were stragglers," one of them muttered. "We couldn't shut off all points of escape unlike the previous one. We couldn't surround them."

"Very well," the preacher said. "The cleansing has started. These sinners in the forest leave us no choice but to come over and baptize them through light but if they finally strike as one, then we may have problems."

The tunnel shuddered.. and growled. The vetran close to it looked to one another, unsure whether to proceed. "Bring in the providences, they should fit."
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Fri May 22, 2020 12:45 pm
Even when outclassed, the Vetran soldier charged blindly at Peladryia, swinging his deadly scimitar that melted stone and wood like a hot knife through butter. But a single bone dagger aimed at his weapon arm struck him down, followed by a kick squarely in his chest. Jack immediately disarmed the fallen soldier and struck at the different power cores that gave his limbs life, leaving him a mechanical ragdoll. The threats were all neutralized, mainly thanks to the chemist's alchemical mastery.

He looked upon the remains of his enemies. One was a pile of black goo and misshapen organs, and the other was a fried piece of hardware. Only one remained in a coherent body shape, but he was functionally dead. Jack couldn't tell who suffered the worst fate among them. Perhaps, he mused, it was all of them for being indoctrinated by the Church into giving up their flesh for the curse of machine. He could remember his craftsman master's idealogy: Metal enhances muscles but it can never replace it, for it is the harmony between steel and flesh that makes Vetrans superior. Perhaps his fondness for the harmonious ideology may stem from his Shento background despite his hatred for its rulers, and how similarly indoctrinated he was in comparison to the corpses before him. But in the end, empathy, compassion, pity... They are reserved for the strong. Only when J-3 survives does he have the luxury to worry about others, lest he dies like the slave he truly is. Unlike his knightly charade.

Jack picked up the energy scimitar for himself, turning off the blade with a switch on the hilt. At least weapon designs are still sensible since the decade he'd left the city. He turned to Peladryia.

"I fear, Miss Peladryia, that reinforcements are coming. According to Luke, these forces are mere scouts and the real invading force will come soon. It's unlikely that our firepower will compare to them. What should we do? Regroup with others? Head out on our own? Ambush the enemies?" Jack personally had plans in mind, but he felt it best to engage the apathetic loner healer before she stomped off on her own crusade.

Part of him couldn't help but think about each member's personal agenda. Luke's hatred toward the Church, Tryssa's self-serving Hollowed-centric behaviors, Peladryia's association with the Tolokis, and his own friendship with a Slitherscale. He would have to take them into account when navigating this mission. After all, unlike his friend, Jack's only home is the Fades now and he shouldn't betray them.
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Sat May 23, 2020 10:02 am
Luke's ears perked up upon hearing the soldier address the High Priest. He didn't expect such important officials such as him to arrive yet, and Luke didn't exactly know whether to take it as a good or bad sign. Probably a bad sign, he mused, glancing around him while weighing his options.

Part of him was still surprised that he was alive in the first place. Luke shook his head to try and wipe the feeling away, his hands fidgeting before slowly creaking to a halt.

He decided his best option was to try and climb up the debris, in order to get a better view of his surroundings. However, while he had faith in Arthur's ability to smash a few heads together, he knew that pulling a bloodthirsty move or being pushed into one was not the best option. At least, in the current circumstances.

Therefore, he had to be quiet. Vetran soldiers were automatically equipped with hearing enhancements, along with their other mechanical "improvements". He didn't want to get instantly blasted by a brightlance.

"Arthur, watch my back. I'm going to climb up and take a look around," Luke whispered, as he slowly crawled up the debris. As his hands moved further up, he was comforted by a memory from the past. A memory of climbing up and down the few trees that existed, the shifting sand dunes, the abandoned buildings. The action of climbing reminded him of home, and it seemed to soothe and steady his mind.
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Sun May 24, 2020 1:17 am
The last remaining soldier succumbed into panic. There was no plan or technique on his part, just a weapon and blind faith. In such state he was as good as dead. Peladryia observed the predictable pendulum of the sword, ready to duck underneath any moment and finish the fight. That's when Jack finally descended from his hiding. Instead of advancing, Pel took a calm step back, to avoid collateral damage and give the knight some space. As Jack stabbed the Vetran again and again, the girl examined the disc-shaped tool she just used. A trickle of smoke was steadily escaping the outer surface, but it was still in one piece which was apparently enough to satisfy her.

When Jack addressed her, she raised her gaze to give him one of the most unamused looks he witnessed so far from her...or perhaps nothing changed and it was just the foreboding lighting of the burning city. Peladryia put her armaments away and dusted her hands off of residual steel rot, taking her time before answering. "You were late..." The girl exclaimed as she began to walk in the direction they initially came from. "When you come up with a plan including a signal, make sure to at least follow up on time." Turns out it was a good thing she didn't put too much trust into Jack there. If she were truly as vulnerable as he perceived her to be, such mistiming might've gotten her hurt there or worse.

"We'll find the others if we can. Then we get out of here. Then I...we, will worry about the plan." The healer passed by Jack at this point. "Now, let's find Xerkin before it turns out I sent him to his death." With that, Peladryia significantly hastened her step, towards the last known location of the towering Hollowed.
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Sun May 24, 2020 3:51 am
Xerkin laid there, he tried to move his body but to no avail. It appears he pushed himself too hard. He wondered if the robot was still working. He hoped he beat it. He heard the soldiers approaching him. Would they take him in for questioning? He hoped they were nice. He didn't really want to hurt them but they were trying to hurt his friends. He hoped they understood.

Suddenly, he heard Tryssa's voice. She was fighting them.

Help her. his mind screamed, but his body didn't obey. He realized his blood was pooling around him, he must of really pushed himself this time.

She fell down near him, collapsing into the rubble he had caused.

Stop being useless Xerkin. But try as he might, his arms refused to move. He abandoned his range of movement, and instead focused on his tentacles, he reached for her, the appendages quivering from exhaustion as he grabbed her and pulled her more closely to himself.

I can't protect her, but maybe I can hide us. His tentacles reached out for more debris and started pulling it towards them, covering them in the broken shell of the building.
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Sun May 24, 2020 4:06 pm
She hit the ground a bit harder than she expected to, and rolled right into a collapsed building. The drinks were feeling quite heavy right about now, and while she isn’t one to harbor regrets for these sorts of things, Tryssa couldn’t help feeling slightly guilty for misjudging the circumstances and being irresponsible. She hardly felt Xerkin slide her into position with him, “whoa there, big guy.. we gotta stop finding ourselves under buildings..” a soft chuckle escaped her lips, and she bit back the rest. She could still fight if she had to, but Xerkin had the right idea about planning another ambush in case they investigate. “Dun’t worry, ah’ll get you outta here.” Tryssa noticed the wounds on Xerkin and a very sobering thought entered her mind: he is at his limit.
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Mon May 25, 2020 3:27 am
Arthur Cadwell & Luke Kowalski, Immarrow City Alley A
Luke climbed up, his hands gripping what he could so that he could get a better vantage point with Arthur just behind him. His head cautiously poked out of the mountain of debris, stone columns and wooden walls and roofing. His eyes immediately darted to the form of the High Priest, who stood out amongst the rest of the soldiers. His darker armor had embossed golden filigrees and two black brightlances that hung behind him. Draikos had his back turned on them, all of the vetran of that squad did and the duo's movements weren't at all noticed. They did see however, the squad surrounding a decrepit structure.

And then the ground quaked.

[Essentially what happens to Tryssa and Xerkin, Arthur and Luke will be able to see and hear.]

Tryssa Volg & Xerkin Shayatin, Immarrow City Alley B
The sound of footsteps alarmed the two hollowed, they were surrounded for sure and in danger. Xerkin was tired, strong as he was he was reaching his limit and did what he could for their survival. It felt like an eternity between each sound of metal step against wooden or stone floor. It was only a matter of time before they were found out, or the vetran ordered to shoot regardless of confirmation.

And then the ground quaked.

The vetran looked around searchingly for the cause of the disturbance and the High Priest called back his squad.

"Regroup," High Priest Draikos called out. "There are reports of further resistance in the tunnel itself, we better assist." His soldiers pulled out but he himself stared at the rubble around them. He cursed and fired his brightlance randomly in several directions, only one found its mark, grazing Tryssa's leg leaving a burn. Xerkin managed to move his tentacle to stifle what could be a scream and did his best to keep the rubble's form. Satisfied, the High Priest continued his path towards the main road and towards the tunnel.

Knight Jack & Peladryia Arvona, Immarrow City Alley C
With the last of the squad that chased them down for the count, Peladryia ushered herself towards the next alley with Jack on her heels. As she crossed the main road towards the next alley (Alley C), the sound of metal grinding on soil and stone alerted her. To her right, she saw the living remains of the preacher surrounded by the corpses, if you could call them corpses, of what remained of his squad. He was still spouting nonsense as his face looked down to the ground. The brightlances on his back bore the markings of steel rot but it was unsure if they were operational. He simply continued to curse the sinners and praise the sun in its entirety, asking for forgiveness in rapid succession.

"Forgive this vessel of steel," he spouted as he tried to stand, the stumps that were his hands slipped on the soil and forced him flat on the ground again. "Forgive this vessel of his arrogance for he was unprepared for the blaspheme these sinners are capable of committing. This vessel will come stronger if you allow him, O' Sun Blessed Martyr." One would expect tears but he had none to shed.

And then the ground quaked.

Immarrow City, The Tunnel Entrance
The entire tunnel shivered and quaked. There was something moving within the tunnels. They had sent a squad of providences through, hoping to find the path. They've been waiting for some time but no reports have come.

"Any reports from the providences?" One of the soldiers asked.

"No." One answered simply. And then, it was clear to everyone what had happened inside. It was at first deep, like an earthquake. A sort of guttural noise you'd associate with the earth splitting in two but this felt odd. It felt as if it was moving.. and growing louder.
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Tue May 26, 2020 6:24 am
Tryssa’s expletives were muffled by Xerkin’s quick thinking. The burn was quite sobering, which was the opposite of how she wished to feel right about now. Dumb witted allies and literally getting caught in the middle of a war was not what she was told to expect when she reluctantly agreed to this task. It should have served as a means for her to gather her own intel for those she served, but instead she is forced to be strung along and suffer at the hand of incompetence. How tragic.

Once the Vetran has cleared the area, Tryssa climbed out of the rubble and assisted Xerkin in doing the same. At least she could count on him. “Cmon, might as well look for the others.” Her attitude was less than amused as she walked toward where they had run from, with a slight limp from the burn. Fucking Vetrans.
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