Cold Hostilities (Lukas)

VeraC

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#1
Antarctica, 0946 Hours
Jan 20th - OE 102

Perhaps some time before Xander had fully gotten himself situated in the arctic, It seemed he wasn't the only one in interest with what was partially buried in the snow. Though there was little in the way of shadows in the flat surface of the arctic ice caps and endless kilometers of snow, a singular man seemingly flickered in and out of existence as he moved through the snow, his heavy greaves making a notably wet crunching sound every time he stepped in the snow. A black cloak dorned his body, keeping most of his body concealed, though his sheer size alone would be intimidating to most anyone who saw him. His skeletal mask hid his facial features, though spectral-blue eyes seemed to flash and glimmer from within, along with two horns arcing and protruding from the sides of his head.

A ‘member’ of the cult of Volkruss and one of its elders, Vayne Marvis treaded his way through the snow, seemingly alone, as he walked towards the location where Xander and his group was. The man was foolish to do what he was attempting; the man’s own hubris unable to realize just how dangerous the being he was attempting to excavate from the snowy ruins. Perhaps he would manage to harness the being without failure, but if he were to fail? Were the El Milleniums to awaken? It would be something beyond what he alone could handle, nonetheless the combined might of Humanity.

Such is the threat that remained slumbering. The Guardians had managed to harness El Millennials and use them as their gate between worlds, though they have been doing it for 2,000 years; they knew what they were doing. But Xander? He was but an amateur, he was but a greenhorn. Alone, he wouldn’t even last a minute before things would go to hell and back.

But if he had help? That was another question entirely.

And Vayne was rather extraordinary at using others’ ambitions to his own end.

“Xander Digby, CEO of Alkahest. I’ve heard quite a lot about you.”

Vayne would appear like a ghost before Xander, appearing at his rear without notice. Hi voice was deep and commanding. It held an almost calming tone, yet held a mountain of mystery within its depth.

“I have an idea of what you’re about to do and… I would like to offer my aid in your endeavours.”

Vayne took a gentlemanly bow, his eyes flashing briefly as he lowered his head.

“I am Vayne Marvis, consider me a fellow enthusiast of the ancient and unawakened.”
 
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Aug 4, 2018
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#2
Vayne would find his path blocked by members of Xander's security team before he can get within a few feet of the man himself. Two soldiers in cold weather gear with what seem to be military rifles - now aimed at the skull mask without any hesitation. But he was allowed to say his piece. Xander did not respond at first, deep in thought himself.

"By all rights I should have had you shot as soon as you breached the proximity alarms. But when I was informed of a literal skeleton sneaking up on me?"

He turned around, a soft smile barely visible underneath the furred hood he wore. Whoever this.. "man" was, they weren't one of the Guardians. Their modus operandi was familiar, though. Unexpected appearance in an impossible location. And an utter disregard for concepts like 'appointments' and 'manners'.

"That I had to see."

He raised his cane to point at Vayne in a threatening fashion, his bodyguards taking a couple of steps back on their own. The camp was bristling with activity around them - but while the workers were keeping their distance, more soldiers were beginning to notice and set up positions near the conversation.

"State your piece. Quickly. And when you're done, I'll consider whether or not I need to have my men open fire after all."
 

VeraC

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#3
Vayne took note of the numerous armed soldiers around Xander and throughout the camp, his face remaining unwavering in expression or tone. It was his first time meeting Xander, and he took the moment to size up the Alchemical Genius before him. Xander was arguably above average in height, and stood to measure taller than most his guards likely, but Vayne was a presence that stood even above them, his height one thing, but between his build and the armor he wore, it made the two-thousand year old man monstrously large.

“Allow me to first herald a warning to thee, Xander Digby. What you are seeking to do is quite beyond the realm of what thy are capable of handing, if I may speak so bluntly.”

His voice remained steady and deep, taking his time to thoroughly speak his mind.

“The El Millenium are powerful beings quite beyond what is reasonably possible for Earth to handle. They are superweapons designed to annihilate beings on par to gods and those alike gods. And by no means are they things to be controlled by a singular human.”

His voice grew sterner and firmer and he continued on.

“And while I’m sure thou knowest this, but the Guardians won’t take lightly to your attempts at taking their ‘gate’ from them. They’ll come in force and I’m doubtful this ragtag group of machines at your disposal will be enough to handle them.”

He finished his statements with a pause, perhaps giving Xander a moment to measure up the risks that Vayne had just told him. It was impossible to read his expressions, only giving Xander his voice to read him off of.

“But now let me offer thee my aid. You see, we both have an interest in the El Millenium, so it stands to reason that we would work well in cooperation here. I can provide both forces to defend, as well as the knowledge to extract these beings in a more apt manner.”

He held out his arm, and in his armor-plated palm, a data chip was seen.

“And in the fact that there are two of them, one for thee and one for I; if this partnership be agreeable to thee. Furthermore, removing the Guardian’s method of transportation would be quite beneficial for the both of us I’d imagine.”

His words seemed fair, and perhaps for Xander, who only had gotten his feet wet in experiencing that of Crescentia, Having Vayne on his side was likely the best aid he could hope to get. Negotiations were his specialty after all.
 
Aug 4, 2018
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Somewhere in the UK
#4
Definitely Crescentian. Archaic speech pattern and an unreal level of condescencion made that truth clear, but Xander hid his growing aggravation with the newcomer fairly well.

"Thank you for your explanation, Vayne. And thank you for tipping your hand so thoroughly."

Xander lowered his cane, but his men kept their weapons ready. This... lich was offering a bargain that made sense on paper, but still hadn't explained his understanding or motivation for being here. There had to be a catch, and he had no proof with which to back up his words. Or that he would not simply betray him at the first opportunity.

"But if you're quite done being patronising, then you can leave. I have no interest in working with someone who has openly claimed to be working against the Guardians. Just because I took lessons from Fleming does not mean I wish to watch the world burn."

He turned his back on the newcomer, but did not leave just yet. There was going to be one last attempt to draw him in. And perhaps that would be more enlightening than the previous offer.

"My men will escort you back to the perimiter. If your method of entry will not work a second time, perhaps the nearby directory base can help you return to the dungeon you crawled out of."
 

VeraC

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#5
Vayne paused for a moment after Xander finished what he had to say. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding somewhere? Or did the Alchemist truly not understand the gravity of what he was attempting to do. Regardless, Vayne scant wanted to start a fight with the man currently and seemingly relented to Xander. Perhaps it would be best for him to learn first-hand the consequences of his actions. It often was the best experience after all. With a deep breath, he began to speak.

“...Very well. If such is thy will, then I shall take my leave for the while.”

He began to turn around, but stopped halfway through, turning to look back at the old man.

“But do know that the Guardians will likely not take as kind of an approach as I did when they see what thou art doing. For both stealing their method of transit between Here and There, but also attempting to harness the power of a weapon of mass destruction for yourself; thou best prepare thyself for what’s to come.”

With his final omen, Vayne fully turned away and began his walk once more, exiting the premise.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Around the Same Time
Perindor Citadel


“...And such is my report.”

Wakaya Lowenthal, the 12th Regis Knight, finished reporting to Heidel of Xander’s most recent actions. The room currently consisted of Heidel and the 2nd through 12th Regis Knights, as they were discussing what to do with the man. They had kept tabs on him since he had left Crescentia, if nothing else observing to make sure he wouldn't go on to cause any harm with the knowledge that he had learned. He was a rather troublesome individual, it seemed, even after the hospitality they showed him he still sought to reap the technology of Crescentia however he could. Perhaps it was greed, perhaps it was his Ambition. He did seem to have great plans for Earth with his prana research, though whether they would end positively or not, only time would tell.

Heidel gave a sigh and rested her cheek on her hand as she leaned to one side in her chair. While they were on friendly terms, this transgression was rather grave, though she hardly wanted to start a full-blown conflict over it. But nonetheless, perhaps a little show of force was necessary to settle him back down.

“...Very well.”

Heidel finally spoke after thinking.

“Wakaya, take a small task force to meet with Xander. I’m permitting the use of Falsaber and Bruvictor to use as necessary, along with the El Millenium to get there. Though I say this, please try and resolve this peacefully first.”

“Yes, my liege.”

Wakaya spoke abruptly and bowed his head.

Heidel then turned to the remaining 10 Knights and gave them orders too.

“Regardless of how this situation turns out, it would be best to make preparations for what is to come. Ensure your machines are ready to go at any time. With Val’sentaph still abroad, make sure you’re doubly prepared!”

“Hah!”

The remaining Knights kneeled and spoke in unison. Once receiving their orders, they exited out the throne room, leaving Heidel to herself. With everyone else gone, she could finally relax and slouched in her chair and took a melancholic sigh.

“...Things are beginning to heat up… Is this a bad omen for the times to come?”

It had been two-thousand years of peace for Crescentia, something not many other countries could boast about. Perhaps it was too much to ask that it remained that way forever, but it seemed things were beginning to pick up at all-too fast a pace.

“What would you do if you were here, Kusanagi?”
 
Aug 4, 2018
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Somewhere in the UK
#6
"We'll see. But I have prepared for the guardians. I doubt the guardians have prepared for me."

Vayne would be allowed to leave without any more trouble, but Xander did have one last warning for him before he went.

"Next time you visit, call ahead. If you can't use real technology, at least send some sort of messenger in advance. If I hadn't been awake and interested they would have just shot you when you breached the perimeter."




Antarctica - 1150 Hours, Jan 20th.
Alkahest Base Camp.


While the camp had been a hive of activity from the moment Xander's little invasion touched foot on arctic permafrost, things had gotten significantly more intense since their first unexpected guest left the secure perimeter. Half a dozen elemental machines stood watch over the growing cracks in the ice where digging teams were beginning their work, cameras scanning for signs of anything out of place or even remotely unnatural.

They were taking no chances. Not even with the El Millennium itself. All of the digging was concentrated outside of the space the frozen creature occuiped - as if they wished to simply dig out the iceberg and move it rather than dare damage the construct within.

Off to one side from the growing trenches sat a small village of prefabricated structures - all of which were loomed over by five machines standing idle. Four were well-known to most informed humans at this point: Bergelmirs, 'environmental cleanup units'. But while the fifth had the same base design, its silhouette was entirely unique - and the torso bore the mark of the Alchemist of legend. A recent addition, but one of the few luxuries Xander had allowed himself recently. It was only fitting.
 

VeraC

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#7
Perhaps things had been moving along smoothly so far for Xander in his excavation attempt, yet perhaps it was almost too smooth, to be able to do such a thing without reasonable intervention. With Vayne’s warning to the likely inevitable arrival of the Guardians, Xander was wise to prepare best he could. But would it be enough to contend against what Crescentia would bring to the table. He would surely find out soon enough.

From the mound buried in the snow, a sight familiar to Xander would appear, a massive ‘gate’ opening, and exiting out several Crescentian mechs would announce their arrival. Essentially dropping right onto the dig site, seven machines in total made their appearance.

Leading the group was a rather ‘knightly’-esque machine, the BK-00 Falsaber. The Silver, blue, and gold colors gave the machine an almost majestic look to it. Behind it was its sister unit, the BK-01 Bruvictor, colored in red, white, and gold. Behind them were the mass-produced machines of Crescentia: Three Welsdines and Two Welspiners. The machines made an arrow formation and from Falsaber, a sole man exited out the cockpit, standing on the hatch of it.

“Xander Digby. It’s been some time.”

A voice familiar to him would be heard; the 12th Regis Knight, Wakaya Lowenthal spoke to the entirety of the camp.

“Though we had hoped our next meeting wouldn’t be so soon… I guess you can assume why we’re here, no?”

He held a stern face looking down at wherever Xander was, waiting for his response.
 
Aug 4, 2018
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#8
"Perimiter breach. Unknown dimensional tear centred above the artifact."

"This was expected. Move to surround, but don't open fire unless they shoot first."

The air became thick with radio chatter as the gate was created, and the Crescentian intruders would find themselves faced by the Elemental machines Alkahest had situationed around the camp. Lowenthal's broadcast was answered by one of their own, the radio tower at the centre of the camp that had previously been broadcasting an alarm going silent before being replaced by a human voice. But this voice was pointedly not Xander's.

"All non-military contractors, please vacate the dig site until the unknowns have been removed. This is not a drill. I repeat, this is not a drill. Proceed to the nearest shelter if possible, but do not enter the dig site."

Workers could be seen scattering as the Guardian's MWs arrived onto the ice field, and the tannoy system repeated its previous warning one more time before the operator turned their attention towards the knight. All emotion in their voice was lost behind a veil of static, but they seemed military in nature.

"Unknown forces, the CEO is currently busy with a prior engagement - Once he is free, a secure communication line will be established. Be aware that if you display hostile intent before that point, we will open fire."




Xander himself was located within the largest of the structures in their base camp, having turned the top floor of the largest container into an office of sorts. His highly important arrangement sat on the table in front of him - two sandwiches and a small glass of wine. While he was unwilling to step out personally for a talk when lunch was already prepared, some orders had to be made.

"Make sure the Altarf is prepared for a sortie, and ensure we've got at least one elemental between me and that knight. If he tries to press the issue, remind him that he should have called ahead if he wanted my undivided attention. I'll handle negotiations once I'm done."

Heavily tinted windows gave him a dim view of the set of machines now sitting on top of their artifact, and Xander allowed himself a smile as they stared out. This was petty. But in a way, it was his own attempt at forcing control over a situation that fate seemed determined to wrest out of his hands at the slighest opportunity. So he ate, and something about the situation made every bite that little bit sweeter.
 

VeraC

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#9
It was a minute or two, and there had been no response from the man of the hour. The base was showing plenty of activity going on so they clearly weren’t invisible, but the delay of Xander’s arrival warranted a sigh from Wakaya who took a seat back in the cockpit on Falsaber. Looking around, the dig crew had all backed off from the digging, halting the progress, which honestly was all they were there for. Granted they’d probably get back to work once they left, so their presence was needed currently.

The knights would wait for the man to finish his lunch, as their goal was accomplished so long as Xander’s crew weren’t digging. If this day could end without any conflict, it would be ideal, but somehow Wakaya had a feeling that things wouldn’t be that easy.

The seven machines remained idle, surrounding the dig site and blocking Xander’s crew from continuing their work. Their position was advantageous in the moment anyways so they had no reason to move from where they were.
 
Aug 4, 2018
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Somewhere in the UK
#10
Alkahest's digging had ceased, but it would be easy to make out the method to their work with a cursory glance. Three trenches had been dug around the glacier it was held in, with some preliminary removal of the ice on the surface done along the way. They weren't planning on freeing it from the ice -they were going to be freeing the ice from Antarctica itself.



Ten minutes passed before Xander's voice could finally be heard. It came in the form of a radio transmission directed at the Falsaber, but if that failed he would switch to the tannoy system. Being clearly understood was vital here.

"I presume you are here because my excavation of Aberon's refuse offends you somehow. The Dragon beneath the ice clearly holds some significance, but I was not informed of this until I had already begun."

All four Bergelmirs stood up in sync, their guns trained on Falsaber.

"By a Skeleton, as a matter of fact. He tried to convince me to turn upon you, but I sent him away. Assuming he was telling the truth about your usage of El Millennium, you need it to travel between here and the world beneath. Apparently this would cripple you, but..."

Xander took a breath, giving Wakaya enough time to contradict him but continuing to speak afterwards regardless. He was enjoying being the one in control, but did his best to avoid letting it leak into his speech. This was a time for diplomacy, not mockery.

"I have no intention of denying you access. El Millennium is going to be moved, but unless my understanding of the principles behind it is entirely false that should not obstruct your teleportation at all. You are free to observe the excavation, but I'm going to have to ask you to move your machines off of the dig site."

Finally the Canis Altarf stood up, taking its place behind the wall of Alkahest Mobile Weapons. Xander had not yet drawn his weapon, but he was clearly prepared to fight. Instead however he extended the arms of his machine, in a gesture of apparent friendship.

"After all, are we not on the same side?"
 

VeraC

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#11
“A skeleton?”

Wakaya tilted his head as the elder Alchemist spoke, slightly confused by his word choice. Regardless, it was fair to say that the man was stubborn, and likely wouldn’t give up his position on El Millenium.

“...It seems we’re both lacking in our abilities to communicate effectively.”

Wakaya slipped back into the cockpit of Falsaber and took the reins of the machine once more.

“Let me be clear, by attempting what you’re doing, you’re putting the safety of the entire world at risk. Should the El Millenium awaken, there is scant in this realm that would have a chance of stopping it.”

Wakaya spoke with a stern tone, staring intently at Xander.

“Likewise, should we break out into a fight in this moment, there too is risk in El Millenium awakening. And should that happen, I don’t believe either of us will be leaving here alive.”

Perhaps Xander knew not exactly what he was dealing with. Wakaya at least wanted to inform him exactly of what risks there would be should he make a misstep in his actions. He would ask if Xander was able to shoulder the consequences should it wake, yet he wouldn’t be alive to do so, should it wake.

“If we’re on the same side, we would appreciate it if you would give us a notification when you plan on risking the integrity of this planet. We’d like to keep it in one piece, you see. Should you wish to contact us, we’ll know.”

Wakaya took a sigh and relaxed back into his chair.

“But in this instance, it is rather belated to send us notification, so allow us to deal with the ‘now’ of this all. From what I said before, it would be ideal if we end today without a fight; so perhaps some negotiations are in order. Pray, inform us of your intentions with El Millenium.”

Wakaya kept a steady gaze on Xander, awaiting his reply.
 
Aug 4, 2018
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Somewhere in the UK
#12
“No.”

Xander's remark came rather abruptly - he'd struck a nerve.

“No, I don’t think you will. The eye of Sauron will witness me no longer, Wakaya. You're going to have to learn to communicate with people instead of spying on them.”

He’d been disappointed to learn that it wasn’t some sort of scrying the Guardians had been using to spy on him. But that quickly became frustration when it became apparent he had moles within his organization. They'd since been contained, but that did not erase the sin they - and the Guardians - had committed.

“I am well aware of the risks of waking El Millennium up early. I could have done so easily before your knights ever arrived on the scene, in fact.”

Xander’s machine took a step forward, and he gestured to the trenches dug around El Millennium with the Altarf. Perfectly clean cuts, almost akin to energy weapons rather than conventional drills. They extended deep into the ice, the bottom marked with chemlights to ensure later cuts come easily.

“We’re taking the entire Glacier. A couple of Elementals have been re-purposed to ensure it will remain frozen for as long as is necessary, and that will allow for proper research and actual security.”

His final words were punctuated by the other four Bergelmirs moving into position behind the Canis Altarf. If Wakaya wanted to fight, he was more than prepared.

“You have been informed. Now move. If you’re still determined to make us stop, I’ll allow you to step off the weapon of mass destruction before we start shooting at each other.”
 

VeraC

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#13
“Perhaps yes, you’re right. It would be best if we were to communicate rather than hide in the shadows and spy, as you say. But that would defeat our purpose. You see, we’re meant to lie in the shadows and observe humanity. Our goal lies in the protection of the integrity of Earth, against humans who could do it harm. Only when such individuals appear do we make ourselves known. And you, Xander, have become quite the individual.”

Wakaya straightened up in his chair and his face grew serious.

“We gave you apt warnings multiple times to take caution with your research, and yet you press forward with your risky studies. If you think a thin layer of snow and ice and whatever elementals you have is enough to keep it from it running berserk and turning the entire planet into a crystal wasteland, I believe you’re terribly mistaken.”

Wakaya hoped Xander would listen to reason, but he likely would be stubborn to the end. And Wakaya wasn’t going to let one man’s hubris bring about the destruction of earth.

“We cannot allow this risk to the planet to go through. We’ll give you one last chance to pack your bags and leave, and we may just both leave here today without potentially ending the world as we know it.”

Wakaya tensed his hands on the controls of Falsaber, hoping for a favorable outcome, but preparing for the worst, should it come.
 
Aug 4, 2018
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Somewhere in the UK
#14
Xander finally allowed himself a laugh halfway through Wakaya’s speech. There was a distinct hint of mockery there, now that he didn’t have to pretend to be polite.

“You’ll ‘give me’ a chance, is that it? As a favour because of who my ancestor was?”

He started laughing again, but it soon broke down into a mess of coughing. They still didn’t understand. Perhaps they never would.

“Your own god claimed the world was coming to an end, and you screech and whine about risk?” Xander raised his voice for the first time, the fire within coming to the forefront once more. “Whatever mandate you claim to hold over humanity is a lie. A lie you tell yourself to keep that ridiculous smile on your Priestess’s face as you kill anyone who refuses to do her bidding!”

He took a deep breath before continuing, allowing time for one last contingency - a Bergelmir now stood in front of the Altarf, providing a shield for any cheap shots the knights might attempt.

“...Our precautions will hold. You’ve been ‘defending’ El Millennium with ice and elementals for centuries, and we’ve safely replicated those conditions. Right now the greatest threat to it awakening? Is you, Wakaya. So step off the frozen dragon before someone with an itchy trigger finger starts a war prematurely.”
 

VeraC

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#15
“If ice and elementals were all it took to keep these beasts slumbering, do you think we would be as doubtful about your methods as we are?”

It seemed Wakaya had finally figured out the point of misunderstanding between the two of them.

“And perhaps in case you forgot, there was no snow or elementals on the Crescentia side. There are very ancient rituals that we have employed for the past two-thousand years to keep these beasts slumbering, and I am highly doubtful you possess those rituals. As such, we cannot allow this risk to move forward.”

Wakaya then switched to the comms line between his fellow soldiers.

“Spread out and sweep the ar-”

Wakaya’s orders were cut short by his machine detecting new signatures on the radar. It seemed like they had just come into visual range, but the slender black mechs were becoming rapidly visible.

“Angelois.”

Wakaya narrowed his eyes and gritted his teeth and shifted his mech away from Xander, now facing the newcomers. It seemed even the Giant Remnants were striking their ambition today. Things were becoming quite busy. He counted 12 in total, and behind them, A slightly larger, black slender machine with darkened ‘wings’ outstretched covered their rear.

“This argument will have to wait for another time, Xander. If they get to El Millenium, things will surely be over.”

Wakaya spoke briefly to Xander before Falsaber readied itself and dashed off towards the approaching enemies.

“Knights! Don’t let them get near El Millenium! Guard it with your life!”

The Knights replied in unison in a loud voice as they too shifted to follow the 12th Knight. It seemed today the Knights found themselves in quite the tight spot, where it seemed most all paths lead to some sort of destruction.
 
Aug 4, 2018
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Somewhere in the UK
#16
"Then you are free to watch. My methods originate from the Alchemist you view with such reverence, and I trust them more than your words at this moment."

Xander's speech was interrupted by a ping on his own control systems. A perimeter breach.

Unknown units approaching. Recommend caution.
"Politeness is dead, it seems. Do they belong to the lich, or is there some other force making attempts at our artifact for their own purposes?"

He sounded... not surprised, but definitely displeased. Every moment that passed made the situation messier. There was no way out of this without burning at least one bridge, if not several. There was a possibility that Vayne's puppets would side with him if he turned upon the guardians, with whom conflict seemed inevitable. Except for one crucial factor.

They came unannounced.

With a gesture, all four Bergelmirs stirred into action - leveling their rifles as one in the direction of the Angeloi.

"All pilots and non-critical personnel, please withdraw from the combat zone. Your services are not currently required."

Xander ended the broadcast with one final button press, his squadron of Bergelmirs firing in perfect sync. A second round of shots came a couple of seconds later with a satisfying thunk, and a third shortly after. Each individual 'slug' was charged with energy to maximize penetration, even if one wasn't generally enough to kill a mobile weapon on its own.

But this was not one machine fighting one. Each salvo had been aimed at a different Angeloi, four slugs per machine. If it wasn't enough, targeting patterns could be adjusted later. This barely counted as an opening move, before all the pieces had come into positions. Speaking of positions, the Canis Altarf took flight - swiftly followed by the Bergelmir escorts. Their formation remained the same in mid-air, watching the Angelois to see the presumed results of the first broadside.

"Over for you, perhaps - But I will assist. It seems Vayne has even less of a grasp on politeness than your knights."