Möbius (Jade)

GEAR

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Jun 15, 2018
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#1
Androids don't dream.

This was an established scientific fact, and to suggest otherwise would have resulted in questioning looks at best...

And outright hostility, at worst.

But, why?

Because, the ability to dream itself was more than just simply seeing pictures in the mind.

No, it was evidence of something else.

Of innate humanity.

A smoldering ember of the ancient promethean flame that flickered in the heart of every human being.

An invisible barrier that separated man from thing, person from object.

She thought, I have no right to dream.

And yet...

She dreamed anyway.

The conscious mind of the Newtype is something that defies common reason, even after being seemingly reduced to little more than ones and zeros.

Those souls, unbound by the fetters of gravity, lilted and turned upon the waves of existence like stray leaves cast out to sea, as past, present, and future ran together in a kaleidoscope of possibilities.

Despite that, even they, who could see the future...

Could not change it.

Even one who has rejected this destiny - who fought, tooth and limb, against the very notion of fate...

Found herself to be ultimately bound by it.




Suggested Listening:

Rain.

Its soft pitter patter filled the air, as a hooded figure made their way through grey, unfamiliar streets, wrapped in a ragged shroud that served as crude shelder. A chill she hadn't felt in an age set in about the nape of her neck, her shoulders, as long forgotten sensations fought to be felt, curdling and mixing together like running paint.

Mere echoes, she thought, of a life once lived.

A "dream".

Ordinarily, she would have fought it off, pressed herself into the reassuring, cold emptiness of shutdown mode... But, the recent events had worn her down more than she was willing to admit... and so... She had let it take her, down into the dark recesses of consciousness, to where she would otherwise dare not tread...

For fear of what she might see.

She trudged on through the endless landscape, nothing but ruin surrounding her, allowing her mind to wander, to drift. She let it take her where it wished, allowing instinct to guide her footfalls - though whether it was through resolve to conquer the inner self, or simple resignation born of the despair of loss, none could say.

Clambering over a pile of construction debris, her eyes scanned the horizon... Only to be interrupted by the peal of distant thunder, as the clouds overhead rumbled, threateningly. A bolt of energy crackled down from the heavens, its forking light illuminating, for the briefest of moments... something. Nestled in the heart of the mass, crouched among the devastation... a sliver of cruel obsidian lodged among the endless ash.

It was as if it had been waiting for her, all this time.

The silhouette, she thought, was unmistakable - yet at the same time, its own distinct entity. This was no Zero - smooth curves had been replaced with hard edges, and the result was leaner... sleeker, as if it were the most elegant and refined of luxury vehicles ever designed. Four long, angular binders were tucked in about its shoulders, held close about its form, giving it the appearance of a hunched bird of prey - a predatory, avian frame, crowned by a golden V-fin that decorated its regal, frilled head, as drops of rain dripped from its visor, like the curious tears of a metallic nightmare.

To even behold it... Took her breath away.

The figure reached up, and pulled back her hood with an audible gasp, allowing the cloak to fall away as well, revealing a shock of azure tresses that fell down past her shoulders, pale skin, and a pair of bright red eyes that were wide with shock and disbelief.

"A black... Phoenix...?" Whispered Alfimi Elwren, into the surreal landscape.

The seconds ticked by... and she found herself slowly descending towards the dark machine, fingers scrabbling against the pulverized rock as she groped her way down in a precarious descent. She could feel the pounding of her heart, the shortness of breath - but, all that was just an illusion as well, wasn't it? Not over 25 years had she ever drawn a breath, nor felt anything close to the genuine fear that held her fast at that moment, like a hand that squeezed her heart tighter with every phantom beat.

All of a sudden, the world went horizontal, as she felt her foothold slip. A strangled cry escaped her lips as she slid, shoulder slamming into an outstretched bar of metal as she slid uncontrollably down, down, her world now nothing but sound and noise.

Her back hit the ground hard, bouncing and rolling before coming to a stop. Pain - another unexpected guest, thundered through her body, and for a few minutes she simply struggled to force air into her lungs, slowly, agonizingly twisting to hoist herself up on one arm. She raised a hand, inspecting it, expecting to see split, artificial skin and metal...

But, what met her gaze instead... were rosy, reddened, dirty fingers. They were scuffed and bloodied, and they trembled in the cold, as blood and water ran in rivulets between them. She swallowed hard, fighting to keep her emotions in check. It wasn't real. It couldn't be.

But it felt real.

She felt real.

"...What the Hell is this?"

She reached out, and placed a hand on the Mobile Suit's outstretched wing - and then suddenly retracted it in surprise. It was warm. Gathering her courage, she walked along the machine's length, letting her fingertips trace its surface as she did so. The texture was... unlike any other mobile suit she had ever felt. The material it was made of flowed smoothly and seamlessly, without even the slightest aberration or indentation - almost as if rather than being manufactured, it had been grown, and applied like some form of skin to the frame's surface.

As she reached the bowed front of the dark Phoenix, her musings were interrupted by a sharp hiss of escaping air. Across the suit's chest, a golden exhaust vent in the shape of a cross shifted slightly as the abdomen of the mobile suit deformed, and a door otherwise seamlessly integrated into its belly slide open, lights within glowing invitingly... Yet, she regarded it with skepticism, peeking out uncertainly from behind the wing.

The last time she had clambered into the unoccupied cockpit of a mysterious black mobile suit, she thought with chagrin... It had been moments prior to the most gruesome and unforgettable experience of her lifetime. For a time, she lingered, simply... Watching, waiting. Nobody emerged to challenge her, no malevolent presence made itself known.

On the other hand, she added grimly - I've never learned my lesson before. No reason to start now.

With no small amount of trepidation, she clambered up into the cockpit.

The space within... Was surprisingly familiar, if every bit as cutting edge as the dark mobile suit's exterior. Flopping down into the control chair, she was hardly surprised, at this point, to find that it was a perfect fit. She reached up to her shoulder, and undid the knotted tie of her cloak, allowing it to fall away. Beneath, she wore a close fitting pilot suit - one that she now noticed bore a heavy resemblance to the machine she now resided in... And far removed from anything she had ever worn in the past, the texture of it resembling the alien alloys she had touched outside. Even as she thought this, to her surprise, the material flowed over her hands, forming a pair of skintight gloves to her shocked eyes. The overall effect was similar to...

...The Ultimate Cell? Something clicked into place - no, nanites.

Her speculations were interrupted as the suit's OS began to properly boot up, having now appropriately suited its new owner. A series of screens flicked back and forth across the 360 degree monitor, before finally settling, reading simply.

GGH-001 Halphas Gundam
All Systems Ready

"...Halphas Gundam. So that's your name" She breathed, something of a relieved smile spreading across her face as she spoke. Somehow, it felt like... Meeting an old friend, or a missing part of herself, even though she couldn't quite explain why.

"Well then..." - She closed her eyes in thought, letting the emotion wash over her. She wanted to curl up into a little ball there, on that seat - to just hide away here in the nothingness, away from the world, away from everything - but, for that precious moment at least...

She wasn't alone.

"...I'll be counting on you."
 
Jun 28, 2018
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#2

The feeling came first, a factor quite familiar to a newtype. With or without a flash, the simple empathic notion welled in the back of the mind. Much as an oldtype might pause feeling something amiss, or a mother feel a hint of alarm out of the blue, so now did a pang flare in the back of the mind. The rising of hairs on the back of the neck. The feeling of eyes watching from somewhere unseen. The implicit notion of pending company. And soon, as was also routine by now, the feeling was confirmed by the soft chittering of a new contact chime.

The sky flickered somewhere in the far distance, and then rumbled with an echo of thunder from over the horizon. Over that same horizon came a mote of light, swiftly growing as it whisked closer through the wasteland sky.

Her mind's eye saw it clearly well before the sensors locked onto it and began constructing their digital replica. A mobile suit, at once familiar and strange. Familiar for reasons she knew well, and strange because even the pieces she hadn't seen before drew the same response. To be blunt, it was the same Phoenix she'd seen plenty of, in the exact same colors as it always had. A white hull banded in red, topped by an avian face that glowered through blazing green eyes. This one had ditched the visor for binocular cameras and sprouted a v-fin, but that was about it cosmetically. It was even wrapped up in an ashen cloak strung across its shoulder pylons, much as Hers had been that day.

And yet this cloak had a peculiar prismatic sheen hiding in the glints of light across its suface. And where the other had been in good repair for a shipping wrapper, this one was fraying at the ends in a manner completely unlike fabric. It almost looked like so much spider silk, torn by the bolt from some gargantuan sack somewhere. There was also the matter of the massive sword it clutched in either hand. And the insignia of a lion clutching a rose splashed across the side of the head. Something about them, at once alien and yet screaming to be recognized, was enough to put a kernel of dread in the pit of her belly.

I found you...

The words came to the back of the mind. Or rather, the concept of the words, not properly heard by any real measure. The unbidden notion that one HAD heard something, without ever really doing so. The closing unit's head lifted, and its eyes flashed brighter. The wicked edges of its blades lit with hungry flame, and one of these it swung forward, holding like a rifle, as an attachment on the back end flared to life with welling plasma.

I finally found you! ELWREN!!

Without warning, and still from some distance away, the weapon loosed a yawning gout of incandescent pink, centered squarely where the Halphas rested.
 

GEAR

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Jun 15, 2018
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#3
How long did she lay there? Even she couldn't say. Time seemed to stretch for infinity in this strange place.

And yet..

That unmistakeable prickling on the back of the neck, the faint, metallic taste of blood at the back of her mouth... could only mean one thing.

Killing intent.

As the bladed rifle was jutted forward, unleashing its howling fury on the huddled form below, her eyes opened, just a small crack. In a matter of moments, the dark Phoenix crouched slightly, coiling its metallic musculature as certain destruction hurtled towards it. In the darkness... she mouthed only a single word:

"Fly."

She spread her wings.

And, truly... they were her wings. The Halphas' four pointed binders flared, catapulting the suit up and away in a rocket assisted somersault as the earth below it shattered violently, sending burning flames roaring across the otherwise grey landscape. It landed with all the precision and grace of a ballerina on a nearby building... arms folded, as one frosty blue eye tilted up at its sister unit.

Alfimi wanted to gasp, to cry, to weep at the sheer sensation. Ever since she had been plucked, or perhaps, scraped from her shell - from the confines of the Raven - and placed into a small, fleshy container... there had always been a vague, terrible sense of "Phantom Limb" that had plagued her. Of... things that she was supposed to be able to do, traces of code that could never be truly erased, like feeling her verniers carrying her through the air, the satisfying sensation of blades of light extending from her wrists...

But none of these compared to the sheer exhilaration, the boundless joy of flight. Not even 30 years of freedom from that nightmare had robbed her of the desire to taste it once more, as sweet and addictive as the Gamma Glipeptim she had once drowned herself in. Guilt and fear - fear of what the others might have said, of what they would believe her to be to desire such a thing - had forced those feelings, those dreams of power, of soaring flight and invincibility, into the deepest, darkest recesses of her consciousness... But here, now?

She at last felt whole once more. Alfimi Elwren soared not on the crude, metallic protrusions of the Raven...

But the burning wings of the Black Phoenix.

Phoenix... Gundam.

She blinked, slowly. It wasn't a name that had come to her naturally, no. The clear, almost fiber-optic like wires that had woven themselves into her pilot suit, threading up into her spine; informed her of such, unbidden. The mind of the machine mixed with her own, becoming one and the same, and as her eyes took in the cloaked entity before her... Emotion welled up in the very depths of her soul, threatening to overtake her, drown her in it, reduce her to a sobbing, wretched wreck...

Like she had been that day, her hands pressed against what contained the fractional remains of a human body.

Of her only friend.

Yet... Her feelings were stilled, somehow. Perhaps it was the murderous intent, the raw heat, like the blaze of Hell itself, that radiated from the Phoenix... that forced her to move forward. Or, perhaps it was something else, the new machine... somehow confiding in her, steading her hand in the face of danger. Whatever the reason...

Alfimi Elwren's gaze lifted, slowly, two bright red eyes staring at the new arrival.

"...It's you, isn't it?" She said, softly.

"The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth." She recited, carefully - she had heard it before... But until now, the meaning hadn't been quite clear.
 
Jun 28, 2018
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#4
Unfortunately, the Halphas would not be given much time to relax on its perch. No sooner had it leapt from its initial resting place than the Phoenix's other arm followed suit, lobbing a volley from the left hand at the very building Halphas so artfully lit upon. Its lifted gaze was thus met with much the same view as before - a mass of scalding plasma bearing down on it from the figure in the stormy sky. In short order, the first gun swiveled round, following the second shot with a third directly above it, in an effort to deny the black bird access to the air.

Not this time...

The enrobed avian paused but a fraction of a second as its shots made their report on the land below. Once again, no sound nor words came from it, yet the soundless impressions forced their way into the back of Alfimi's brain.

Your nine lives are over... I'll erase your blight from this world, ELWREN!!

The red bird's hull shuddered, shivered, as if wrought by rageful convulsions barely contained. The head lulled back, the eyes blazed a brilliant green, and somewhere, on some ethereal level, its sole onlooker could seem to hear the piercing scream of a red-tailed hawk. As swift as eagles it turned tracking the Halphas and where it stood in that very instant. Its arms snapped to the fore, leveling blade beside blade in a red hot horizon, unleashing a firestorm from both barrels at its mortal foe.
 

GEAR

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Jun 15, 2018
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#5
As the dread fangs were brought to bear once more, Alfimi dropped the Halphas low, her grip tensing as she prepared to move - but a sudden shift underfoot caused her to give a strangled, startled cry of surprise, as the dark Mobile Suit stumbled.

Too late. Those were her only thoughts, as the flames washed over her.

The Phoenix's blasts slammed home into the concrete, pulverizing the building the Halphas had landed on into nothing but ash - and the follow up decimated it further still, a hail of blazing plasma that torched everything to cinders with power that modern mobile weapons could scarcely have dreamed of. It even warped the skies about it, starting to color them a pale red - as if its mere presence were incinerating both Heaven and Earth alike, and nothing would be spared.

All that remained, at the center of a scorched crater, was an ashen mass - a dome, of sorts - and for a moment, it appeared as if the dream had ended at that very second, washed away in a tide of cleansing fury.

But then...

In unison, six long, smooth, metallic legs were lifted out of the wastes, in a fashion not unlike aquatic ballerinas, six identical bodies turned and twirled graciously, their bodies arcing forward, dust cascading from their feminine forms as long shields slid back into place, looking for all in the world like decorative hair ornaments. The unfolding of a great, mechanical chrysanthemum, as their collective beam shields, interlocked into a protective lattice about her person, retracted gracefully into a series of small, ornate fans. Around them were the bodies of others - easily a dozen, at least, which had thoughtlessly thrown themselves into the path of the oncoming blast in an attempt to protect her... Leaving only these few.

The Reginas gracefully returned their Mistress to her feet, their delicate fingers tracing its body in adoring supplication as they did so. She could feel them as well - extensions of herself, maniples of the mind, crafted from the shards of her soul. As she had cried out, so too had they answered her. Once again, she faced down the burning star in the skies, the warped, malevolent entity that was both familiar and yet alien, friend and foe...

...and she felt the resolve in her chest tighten, at last.

"Come, then." She breathed in response to its screamed threats,

"Let's see who burns brighter."

The black Phoenix raised its hand, beam fan flaming to life in its grasp as it swung it out, leveling it in the direction of the red demon. The eyes of the six Reginas lit up in unison, as their thrusters began to roar.

"Go."

As one, the troupe sprang, spiraling forward as the Halphas' form shot straight up into the air, rocketing up with speed and grace never before seen in the Earth Sphere. Her fingers went down to close about the grip of a beam rifle, swinging it up and before her, as three shots were loosed in rapid succession, aimed to pierce the head, chest, and groin of the Phoenix respectively. It was joined in this endeavor by the Reginas, which had split with three on either side, adding their own fire from their VSBRs as they closed in, locking the Red Demon at the heart of a killing field of crossfire.

That's what you're telling me, isn't it? You want to know too, Halphas...

Which one of you is stronger.
 
Last edited:
Jun 28, 2018
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#6
Never one to wait, the Phoenix snapped a sword to either side, balancing itself and further closing the distance ahead of the future its pilot anticipated. The moment the ash cleared and the green-eyed monster could see its quarry, it was already halfway to melee range, taking a trajectory to pass directly overtop of the Regina phalanx. The instant their shields came down, and their commander directed them with a sweep of a fan, yet another round from the sword cannon was arcing straight at where they stood.

The next moment, however, it banked off and climbed, leaving the Reginas to vault into the air and out of the path of the shot. Its tattered cloak flapped violently with the speeds at which it flew, the wind clawing the material with each effortless arc and bob. It was naturally every bit as fine a dancer as its kin below were, indeed far finer than its predecessors had ever been. And presently, as it rounded out of its turn into an aerial pirouette, it found the tiny dancers forming up to bombard it.

Without missing a beat, the moment it had come round to face them again, there was a distinct snap. A snap that, much as the thunder roiling in the distance, came a fraction of a second after the Phoenix had cut its profile by two thirds, and begun to plunge headlong into their midst. Rotating as it descended, here and there a beam passed just over its bow, just beneath the blades it towed behind. Here even a beam skimmed over the second skin it wore as a muffler, and left a hole straight through the fabric for its trouble.

None of these seemed to dissuade the bird from its dive. It was headed straight for the only target it seemed to have eyes for. The Halphas, and its pilot.
 

GEAR

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Jun 15, 2018
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#7
It was falling now, Alfimi realized - homing in on her like a malevolent, crimson missile - One that could transform. She and her avatars scattered under the raining plasma, and she realized the pounding of her own heart filling her ears, the anxiety and adrenaline coursing through her veins, the sheer responsiveness of this new machine - no, her new body-

She felt more alive than ever before.

An unexplained chill ran down her spine as the thought occurred, and her fingers unconsciously tightened around the controls.

Is this it? She wondered;

Is this what I really wanted?

The beam rifle was replaced, and in a dark mirror of its skyward sister, the Halphas' frame rolled - and as it did, deformed. Legs swung out behind it as the head and arms tucked themselves into the torso, giving it the appearance of a cross-winged mobile armor, cutting through the sky like a knife. Its binders flared anew as it angled its nose up, clouds bursting about it as it rose, rose, high into the air, accelerating all the while as plasma gates across the unit's wings fluttered open in preparation...

For meeting the Phoenix's charge head on.

Meanwhile, the Reginas, essentially left to their own devices, had ceased their supporting fire as the Halphas began to close in. Instead, they too began to circle in, tightening the net around the burning mirage, like circling ravens just waiting to sink their claws into unwary prey, their elegant forms dancing gaily through the air towards the two combatants, seemingly with nary a care in the world.
 
Jun 28, 2018
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#8
The red bird streaked toward its counterpart, wind raking across its burnished hull. Somehow, it deigned not to ignite its Burning Fire until the same split instant the Halphas did, each bird igniting in its own color in perfect harmony. Where the Halphas lit its binders in a shining blue plasma fire, however, Phoenix veiled itself in burning flame. And with each fraction of a second that flame blazed, it seemed to double and triple its own intensity, as if the shrieking bird had literally fed itself to its own fire. Hotter and higher the inferno spread, and, as that flame devoured the very air around it, faster and swifter the Phoenix descended.

Thus it was that scarlet streaked at azure, that an orb and a cross came to bear down on each other in sudden death. Neither blinking, neither flinching, until the very moment their flames collided.

Their flames collided. But in the last fraction of a fraction, the Phoenix's body effortlessly vaulted a handful of meters straight up, red plasma riding blue as the red bird skimmed just between the Halphas's wingtips. And as it slid its belly above the bird black and blue, the extent of its flames was revealed - the cutting edges of the two swords it clutched having ignited into massive pillars of incandescent pink, the backs still braced against its body, poised to rip right through Halphas's container pylons as a razor through an envelope.

To add insult to injury, in the slight gap between the swords, the Phoenix voided itself of six of its own tiny remotes, each of them proceeding immediately on collision courses with the Halphas, and each spewing beam fire of its own until its final, suicidal sting.
 

GEAR

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Jun 15, 2018
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#9
The swords!

The realization struck just a split second too late, and even in the milliseconds of seamless reaction time, the Halphas couldn't quite get clear as the Phoenix broke off their game of chicken first.

The strike left a pair of burning slits along the tops of the funnel binders, hissing and spitting superheated metal. Even as the Halphas accelerated, the glow of molten alloys had already begun to fade, as the suit's nanoskin hurriedly began to repair the damage, microscopic machines already shedding the damaged cells in a spray of black... but it would take time, and in the meanwhile, deprive her of the use of her own Funnels.

Alfimi spat a curse as the red Phoenix rocketed overhead, her own machine pulling back hard in a loop, its thrusters burning even brighter as the blazing Funnels danced all about it, trying to sink their own claws into her frame - yet, finding little purchase as the flames about the Black Phoenix burned higher and brighter with every passing second, their bright red forms glancing off the plasma field that engulfed their target, sending them spinning and ricocheting back to their master, like dogs with tails between their legs.

As the Phoenix pulled up and over its target, a beam hurtled toward it out of the distance - a high speed "piercing" VSBR shot, that of a sniper. The Reginas had completed their encirclement unimpeded, and now each drew a careful bead on the Phoenix from optimal range, as orders were issued from on high. The A.E Neuros at their controls were not unlike their mistress - not quite machine, yet not quite human either - but each more than a match for any prior combat artificial intelligence ever devised, on account of their unique, alien origin that made them living extensions of her will. A total of twelve beams crisscrossed the Phoenix's path, aiming to puncture its wing binders - or at the very least, to slow its acceleration, occurring in pairs as the slender machines worked together to form an otherwise impassible field of fire.

Yet, this would likely not be the revenant's primary concern, as above it, the clouds burst apart in a spray of azure that colored the skies, revealing the keen, angular form of the Halphas Gundam's mobile armor form. With terrible swiftness, the black Phoenix had caught up to its slower brethren, suitably unfettered by heavy equipment or fluttering cloaks - indeed, it was the performance model, and in that moment, wreathed in flames as it came crashing down with terrible acceleration, it looked every bit the part.

"Now! Sink, back into the depths of Hell! BURNING FLARE!"

With a blood-freezing roar, the massive wave of energy smashed down directly atop the Phoenix, aiming to drive it into the ashen wastes below...
 
Jun 28, 2018
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#10
As petals on the wind, the small remotes were rebuffed by the intensity of the flaming sheath woven around the Halphas. Between the Burning Flare and the Halphas's engine wash it was a wonder the bits hadn't been eradicated like motes of down for their efforts, but having been denied their suicidal ambitions, they trailed dutifully behind the red bird, waiting for a chance to return to their racks.

They didn't have long to wait. A flash shot through the Phoenix - not a beam, but a ping. On gut instinct, one more bit leapt forward through one of the holes in its tattered amniotic cloak and into the path of whatever portion of the sniper's beam breached the Phoenix's own plasma sheath. A sizable explosion resulted, consuming the bit and the beam, and leaving the bird to throw itself into reverse lest it hit the incandescent spiderweb cast before it.

It slowed for a fractional second on the currents of reversing thrust and inertia, executing something of a forward flip in place independant of that factor. The nose went down, the toes went up, the legs practically swatting the bits out of the air and back into their racks. Off it went in the direction, such that it darted out of the way of the Halphas with mere breaths to spare. And at the same moment, snapped off a volley from all six cannons in its wake, such that if the blue bird weren't careful, it would hit beam instead of bird.
 

GEAR

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#11
The Halphas rocketed down, like the hammer of an angry God - only to hit nothing but air, as the Phoenix scampered out from underneath. It blew past the offending target with such speed and heat that it left a sonic boom, even as the powerful beam cannons of the red bird only narrowly avoided rending its dark sister wing from wing. Alfimi slammed her fist into the controls in anger, teeth grit so hard she thought they were going to shatter, as the G-forces - phantom or not - pressed her into her seat with enough force to press the breath from her lungs.

Yet, as it fell, the black Phoenix whirled, shape contorting once more as it swung about - the tips of its being now smoldering from the after effects of the plasma - bringing its own cannons to bear on its twin. With a roar, the four Cross Mega Beam Cannons fired in unison, with such force that plasma blasted out of their rear vents with cloud-bursting power that shredded the skies, slowing her descent as the massive blast shot out, threatening to engulf the red Phoenix whole.

That was far from the phantom's only problem, however. The moment it shifted away from its high speed form, the elegant forms of the Reginas began to close in, sensing blood in the water - or perhaps they were simply acting on the frustration and impatience of their mistress, who could say? The effect was similar, all the same - as the Phoenix unleashed its wave of death upon the falling Halphas, a pair of sweeping blades lanced out at it from behind, aimed to shear away its outermost wing binders - as one of the Reginas charged, two others not far behind, as the remaining three held their fire.
 
Jun 28, 2018
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#12
Thus was the pace of newtypes and digitized souls alike. Minds who thought at speeds inhuman, and minds who saw the time before it came. In this space, they had finally come into machines that could follow that pace. Titans possessed of tireless hearts and bodies that were atomic seas in man's shape.

The red bird had barely time to flip its saucerlike body out of the way of the laser net, and skim past the Halphas's downward trajectory, before more Reginas were already upon it. Here came one immediately from above, aiming to clip its wings with a blade in each hand. Somewhere below, the Halphas was starting to reverse and return to human form. There would not be much time...

The entire unit somehow darted straight down, belly still flat, the tattered remnants of its chrysalis flapping about its broad side. The torso block snapped back to its original configuration, the arms reversing, the motion only slowing, but not stopping, the Regina's closing of the distance. All at once, it flipped end over end, spinning like a top and meeting the Regina's blades with its shins. Or at least, the Griffon blades in its shins. In that same moment, a dozen remotes leapt from behind its legs and shot to embed in the Regina from head to pelvis, impaling it anywhere a cockpit or control circuit might feasibly be located.

A tenth of a second later, as the flames from below closed, though, the bird pivoted itself around behind the Regina by the axle of their clashing blades. It rotated, and so did its arms, sweeping to brace the six cannons against the Regina's backside. What became of that was unknown, for the next instant the both of them were lost in the inferno.

It was a scene, perhaps, that Alfimi remembered well. Beneath another dark sky, when two red birds spat fire at each other. Much as now, one had been robed in a cloak that was little more than leftover packing material. The other had been flanked by automated helpers that met their doom one by one at both their hands. Then, as now, the Phoenix Zero had plunged headlong into a column of fire, and come out on the other end intact by coring out the beam with its own. Perhaps she even specifically anticipated it, for now another two Reginas were closing in to strike as the flames subsided.

So, Elwren... came the voiceless words again, the text shoving its way into the back of her perceptions.

What the Reginas were met with, however, was a cloud of more than a dozen remotes each. Remotes that darted like bullets and had barely reached them before a column of swirling red wreathed each in their own typhoon. Sparking and arcing locked them in place by sheer nanite-laced electrical fury, while six funnels slid between the currents menace them with their blades as verdant thorns.

Do I...

The lifeless husk of the sacrificed Regina finally cleared the smoke amidst its fall, toppling toward the ground as little more than a burned out cinder. Close behind were the shorted remnants of the Cross Binder cannons, jettisoned from their swords. Above it, the Phoenix floated effortlessly, a sea of white and red and green now stripped of its mantle. The secret of its agility was now finally revealed, and the reasons why it hadn't been belching fire or engine wake beyond its cloak this entire time. While its body was the same familiar one she knew, all of the engine and vernier ports were rimmed with clouds of particles in incandescent gold and green. In one hand it held the now-united binder swords, as yet unlit.

The other hand was outstretched, holding atop its fingertips a lone Rose bit, the same flower emblazoned in the Lion's mouth on the side of the Phoenix's head. To either side it had locked down the attacking units in Rose Hurricanes, while the C Funnels danced, ready to deliver the final blows.

...have your attention now?
 

GEAR

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Jun 15, 2018
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#13
The Halphas slowed in its descent as fiery fury washed over its target, filling the sky with an incandescent explosion. Within the cockpit, she could feel sweat trickling down her features as she gasped for breath. The Black Phoenix vented steam from its wings, its chest vents, as it seemed to give a total body exhale, for the moment simply... hovering, watching the display of devastation above unfold.

"Did I... get her?"

The cloud began to lift... and from it tumbled the charred remnants of its human shield, crumbling into mere ash with such speed that it failed to even hit the ground before fading away on the breeze. Two more of her extensions were now trapped, held prisoner in the whirling vortices, their bodies contorted in agony, covered with the gashes left by the C-Funnels. And in the center of it all, her nemesis, as tall and proud as ever...

For the most part... unscathed.

It's... the same, she thought dazedly.

It's just like back then.

"Tch."

The Halphas' eyes gleamed as it raised a hand... and snapped its fingers. Two beams pulsed out of the distance, punching into the two captured units chests - before they blossomed into a pair of spectacular explosions that lashed out at the Phoenix, its remote weaponry, and anything within reach in an act of pure, unadulterated spite. Below, the Black Phoenix glowered at its older sibling, the two similar, yet different - one an amalgamation of worlds, a symbol of hope... the other, the successor, a shadow, an ill omen that traveled in its wake.

Each of the three remaining Reginas converged, undeterred. Maybe they were driven by the same impulses that drove their mistress - perhaps it was envy, resentment, or the accumulation of over two decades of unspent grudge - but they bristled with the same energy, as their twin cannons lashed out, twice apiece, aiming to perforate the red Phoenix for its arrogance.

Below, the ringleader's form once again shifted into the dark wing, rocketing up at its sister as Alfimi grit her teeth, hearing the words of the other echoing in the back of her mind, as if someone was meticulously punching every letter into the back of her skull.

No matter what you are, she thought, no matter WHO you are...

I won't just sit back and let you 'erase' me.

I can't leave this world yet.

Not until I kill him.

That's all I care about.

Not the Union, not Sentradas, not even reclaiming my own flesh...

None of it matters any more!

Because...

You're not here.
 
Jun 28, 2018
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#14
The Halphas snapped its fingers and two bolts lit the stormy sky. The Phoenix snapped its hand around the lone Rose Bit, and the C-Funnels streaked back toward it, circling to form spinning shields to either side, helping shield it from the torrents of heat that followed shorty after. The constricting bits stayed the course until the beams had lanced through the Reginas, and attempted to flee in the fractional time between that and the detonation. Ultimately, only half the deployed roses made it back in one piece. They gently slid back into their racks on the backs of the legs, while the funnels moved their whirling shields forward.

Streak by streak, the Phoenix shifted and bobbed in place, evading one, blunting another with its defenses, letting a third pass just breaths off its hull. Amid its aerial dance, it glanced down its beak at the oncoming storm from below, seeming to regard the Halphas thoughtfully a moment. Just shy of their renewed meeting, the furtive text came again, the funnels withdrew into their racks, and at the last moment it spun to the side, snapping back into MA mode and rocketing off toward one of the Reginas.

In the split second the two birds passed, the hidden eyes of the Phoenix could be felt to glance sidelong at its counterpart. The text quipping simply:

You're the reason you're alone, ELWREN.
 

GEAR

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#15
"FUCK YOU!"

The Halphas' psychic signature burst like a miniature sun as Alfimi exploded with rage. the scream tearing forth from her throat with such force that it burned. The words were like a smack in the face... and even that, in itself, was a poisonous reminder of times past. Even as the Reginas erupted into ultimately fruitless clouds of devastation, her charge continued unabated. The Regina that the Phoenix had elected to target... stood its ground, floating in the air as its fellows opened fire, attempting once more to intercept the red machine.

The people I cared for! The people I trusted!!

All of them took turns
DRIVING KNIVES INTO MY BACK!

A hot wetness spilled down the ex-Chancellors cheeks... one she hadn't felt in a long, long time. She had forgotten the sensation - how deep, how red and raw it felt... But, she couldn't give in. Not here. If she allowed herself to fade, to crumple before this apparition... it would crush her very soul. So, she fought on, both against the seemingly invincible entity... and against her own self.

Kathryn...
Atariel…
Nox…
Even Trent...

And now...

You've come to get your piece too.


That's what this is about, isn't it?​

The Reginas weren't the real threat, their actions mere distractions... and as the Phoenix's attention turned, so too did a razor-thin window of opportunity.

Alfimi Elwren had never been predisposed to subtlety, on or off the battlefield... but what she lacked in forethought, she made up for with resilience, some would even say... bravery. It was not for nothing that her... no, their heroic interventions had earned them the title of the "White Angel", heroically storming the battlefield, no matter how grim the situation, to swipe victory from the jaws of defeat. It was this fact that made her so different from her cool, calm, and calculating counterpart, for whom the battlefield simply seemed to be a chessboard of sorts - a sequence of dispassionate, scintillating flourishes of the blade that would elegantly butcher whoever was unfortunate enough to taste them.

It was also this unpredictability, this audacity to defy fate - a stubbornness that even here, even now, tended towards the truly heroic - that made her shine.

Cutting across the sun, the dark wing rematerialized, having closed the gap between the two of them in almost an instant - coming directly at its sibling from the left. With a spray of sparks, it morphed in mid-charge, arms spread wide, four binders burning brighter than the stars above as its mouth vent snapped open, revealing rows of demonic needle-like teeth as its eyes narrowed into serpentine slits.

"SARA! JANOVSKYYY!!!"

With an animalistic scream that could have frozen the blood of even the most resolute of men, the Halphas plowed into its nemesis, looking to violently smash it out of the air with the sheer force of its charge, carrying it straight down beneath it in a deathgrip, as if daring it to invoke the same burning fire as before...
 
Jun 28, 2018
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#16
As was to be expected, the Phoenix bobbed and wove between the beams directed at it, as agile on the wing as its sister. But then, it just sort of stopped. With the Halphas sweeping in from the side to tackle it, it reversed thrust, halting in the air and just sliding to one side of another inbound shot. Its body unfurled into a mobile suit again, turned sidelong to let two beams pass on either side. And then, just it completed its rotation to face the Halphas, they collided.

Blue-hot plasma from the Halphas raged against the Phoenix's silhouette and was ultimately rebuffed. EMF shielding in both shoulders, built to tank incendiary buster rifle rounds, just barely staved off the inferno from any serious damage. The Phoenix rested idly in the Halphas's embrace as they hurtled toward the ground. The reverberations of Alfimi's howl still ringing into the distance, red bird's cockpit hatch slid open, and the text resumed.

... is not here.

True to those words, her mind's eye saw much further than her sensors would. The innate feeling swept up with the visual - the hollowness of the room on the other side. Within the Phoenix's chest was a cockpit identical to hers, with a chair identical to hers, and a suit identical to hers, only red. But this suit was crumpled, flat, and empty. The helmet was stowed on the latch behind the neck, leaving only the empty darkness of it and the collar beneath on display. A lone cable ran from the back of the cockpit chair to the same latch, the only thing keeping the suit from tumbling off the chair.

The ground loomed below, rapidly closing in under the intensity of their speed. On the legs the Griffon blades lit up, menacing the shins of the Halphas. On the arms, tonfa mounts rotated, swiping lit sabers up independent of the arms' motion, to cleave into the blue-black bird's hips. The C-Funnels danced around the both of them, shielding them from incoming fire. Already a couple of the Rose bits were starting to come around to slip beneath the plasma and assault the ankles. If they were going to impact, it would be plenty painful for the Halphas as well. The Phoenix's placid emerald expression stared straight into its sister's raging face.

She can't come for a piece. Ever. She's dead, REMEMBER?
 
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GEAR

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#17
They plunged out of the sky, an unstoppable, blurring meteor of black and red, frozen blue staring into verdant green unflinchingly. Alfimi Elwren felt her very life itself being pressed out of her as she struggled to keep the airframe under control - not once, even in her entire career, had she ever felt this kind of speed or power, and to have it so close, so intimate that the two felt like one... Was both breathtaking, and terrifying on an entirely new level.

And yet, as the Phoenix offered her a moment of clarity in her red-eyed fury, it was like a bucket of ice-cold water were thrown in her face, as she took in every minute detail in that split second. The pile of clothes on the chair alone, devoid of their rightful owner, the piece of the puzzle that ought to have-

...No.

Which could never be there.

Not any more.

Have I ever, she thought in that moment of silence, missed someone so badly... that even if they were to rise from the grave in vengeance, to choke the life from my body...

I would be at least happy... to feel their touch once more?

The ground loomed overhead, and the Phoenix began to move as she suddenly snapped back to reality. Her sharpened reflexes and wise body finally gave up on the slow brain, and elected to take things into their own hands.

"So what does that make you, then?"

Blue flame exploded once more from the Halphas verniers as it suddenly accelerated, gripping the Phoenix even tighter, - before smashing its sister unit against a ruined skyscraper, back-first as they fell. As the two suits collided, the Black Phoenix's binders swiveled - and flared, as it kicked off from its target with milliseconds to spare, narrowly avoiding being disemboweled by the beam tonfas... and leaving it to crash into the earth on its own. The whipping C-funnels and Rose bits tore into it as it did so, slashing deep, sparking cuts into its wings, its shoulders and thighs, causing her to cry out in pain - but, her focus stayed tight - it would all be worth it, as the opening couldn't afford to be wasted.

"A nameless spirit of vengeance? Another sanctimonious prick with a God complex?"

And as it pulled away, spiraling as the binders fought to weather the accumulated force, framed against the sunlight like the harbinger of an eternal era of dark, the combined beam rifles were brought up in its grip to be held out before it with both hands, energy crackling along its central barrel as it fired once - an immaculately timed, single, penetrating shot aimed to pierce clean through the chest of its crimson counterpart in its manic descent.

It was a maneuver no other machine, and no other pilot in existence could have executed.

Now sputtering dark smoke from its wings, the rifle was quickly replaced by a pair of beam fans, sliding out of the wrists into its grasp as the Halphas twisted and turned about, expertly deflecting the funnels from causing any further harm in a frantic dance, as the Reginas descended from above - raining beam fire all around her in a curtain aimed to drive off the storm of remote weapons.

Doesn't matter
, she thought to herself.

This ends here.
 
Jun 28, 2018
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#18
The vorpal swords went snicker-snack, each with intent and strategy. Two slashed to reopen the wounds on the blue-black bird's funnel stores. Another two lanced into the barrels of its shoulder cannons, and still another two scarred the engine ports on its legs. Between the C-funnels the rose bits slid with beam daggers of green, their thorns aimed to perforate the bird's sides and damage its torso actuators. All, however, managed to skillfully avoid taking the head or the cockpit. Not for lack of opportunity, but blatant lack of attempt.

And then, just like that, they were gone again. The funnels darted back while the roses peppered beam shots at the Halphas. Whipping away to join the other six, they found their fellows already swirling in a circular barrier, and joined in with their own in front of it. Another few sets of roses leapt from the Phoenix's legs as it careened toward the ground, leaping to form clouds of crackling red in its wake. Just before it hit the surface, the shot came tearing through their combined barriers and chased the crashing cardinal into the depths of the earth, artifice yielding beneath the impact to dump it into the culverts and sewers below.

While the Halphas and its minions swatted at the gnats yet harassing it, stillness fell over the crater below. A dust cloud hung in the air. The C-Funnels slid through the air in search of their master. The echoes of the impact slowly waning, the din was answered by the rumbles of thunder from the storm now slipping away over the mountains. Eventually, all was silence and dust.

Halphas.

The rose bits slid softly to and fro, spitting their fire as they rode a non existant breeze. The nearer tried to sting the bird again, only to clash against its fans. The further were kept in constant motion by the shots from the Reginas. The lines of text wove into her mind as ethereal whispers.

Halphas the Black.
Halphas the Hoarse-Voiced.
Halphas the Tower-Builder and Arms-Hoarder.
How it suits you.


Below, the figure rose from the earth again, still clutching its massive sword in its right hand. A sword that was now fully ignited, gleaming amid the dust as its silhouette rose. The lines rolled in one after another, without pause or need for breath. Text that simply was there, abruptly, merely waiting for her mind to catch up with it.

I, on the other hand.
I am the future you denied.
I am the chance you forsook.
The mount of the scientist. Of the poet.
The teacher. The obedient.
The sweet voice lifted in song.
The beast of possibility itself.
The one who evolves, while you mire in your armories!


The eyes flashed, and the screech of a bird rang. But now its eyes were red, and whisps of crackling energy wafted from their sides.

I am REVELATION. I am PHOENIX!
 

GEAR

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Jun 15, 2018
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#19
As the Phoenix rose... the pressure was unbelievable. Not even the sheer, crushing force of the Jacobin could compare - It felt like every inch of her body was being slowly lowered into a furnace, inch by inch... and every second that ticked by brought her closer to a final immolation. Every instinct screamed at her to run, to flee... but, there was something else, some secret, hidden truth that tacitly acknowledged... this was a foe that would chase her to the ends of the Earth.

...Hot...

...It's so hot...

It was death by a thousand cuts, she realized. Not even with her reaction speed, even here, even now - could she hope to outlast the blistering swarm of petals forever. She whirled about, barely managing to deflect the overhead strikes - but a pair of the thorned Rose bits tore across the waist of her machine, shearing gashes in its sides that only added to its now ragged appearance. In response, she dropped the Halphas low, thrusters flaring as fire tore at the landscape around it, turning it back towards the enemy.

And then... as if in response, it began to sing.

The Black Phoenix sang back to its twin, impressed words interwoven as they pulsed out into the dreamscape. From whence they came, none could say - perhaps it was the soul of the woman within crying out, or perhaps something more that lurked unseen, hidden beneath those solemn blue eyes.

A future denied?
A chance forsaken?
Such arrogance.


The hammerings of a thousand anvils are my sonnets,
The forging of blades from burning blood, my disciplines.
For war is my being, my purpose, my very essence.


Peddle your trite lamentations,
your spineless obsequience, to meeker ears;
This form was cast for but one outcome, and one alone!
The only "possibility" worth striving for!

"VICTORY!"

The Halphas rocketed forward, outstripping the stinging roses and their vicious thorns, a pair of gleaming blades materializing in its grasp as it charged the day to its night, intending on bringing the battle to its final, bloody conclusion... In the only way it knew how.

Meanwhile the remaining Reginas threw themselves into the swarm with gusto, intent on keeping it from interfering at any cost, dancing among the remotes with their fans outstretched as they swatted them out of the air, forming a wall of whirling blades between the escaping Halphas and the buzzing blades. Perhaps they shared their Mistress' eagerness, as their movements only seemed to grow even more excited and erratic with every passing moment, looking all for the world like puppets being roughly yanked about on their strings.
 
Jun 28, 2018
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#20
That, Elwren

The Halphas tore toward the figure in the dust, the silhouette spouting plumes of red lightning from the corners of its eyes. Behind it, the Roses it had escaped turned and closed around their willing victims, spinning around the Reginas from beyond the reach of their fans. Here again, the lightning swelled, and a hurricane wreathed around each of the three in turn.

is why you are alone.

The last moments before the blades could bite into the cloud and its sheltered figure, there was a blink. A burst of red, a streak of crimson. A comet burning brightly as it moved with a speed that to any other viewer would have seemed instantaneous. With this computerized mind, however, and with the benefit of her overclocked perception, Alfimi's mind's eye could track it. In what must now have looked like slow motion, the bolt of red had erupted out one side of the cloud and veered up to meet the Reginas. The exact ripples of the pastel pink storms, as the streak moved so fast it left a trail of light and afterimages behind it.

How it moved in one long arc without pausing or slowing. How it, and the sword it clutched, arrived behind the trio, and lashed out, spinning with its entire body. The massive blade sweeping out to remove these last distractions. How it rode the momentum down to the Earth, and charged ahead straight at its counterpart.

Because, like Halphas, you could not evolve beyond your base programming

The lightning spouting from its eyes extended even past the reaches of its shoulders, such that to view it head-on lent it the appearance of wings. The Phoenix's body was by now redder than a groundcherry, its gaze more poisonous than nightshade. Circuits inlaid along its nanite-infused body leapt to life as glowing veins, founts of gleaming green spilling from its thrusters like leaves and stem. The scar from the earlier shot now adorned its cheek, leaving the lion a slagged memory, and leaving only a rose amongst ash.

Now we machines are your only company!

Headlong it plunged, the massive blade at the ready, poised to crash its blade against the Halphas's with the force of a mighty gale.