Le Chevalier de la Charrette (Sess, ???)

GEAR

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#41
For a few moments, there was nothing but static across the communication lines. Nothing but the bleak void of space, intruding on their psyches, waiting patiently for something to give.

"Un... believable..."

Eventually, Enfield's voice crackled to life over the communications line. Rock and dust frothed in the distance, as the Geminia rose on one knee. Sparks shot from its frame - but so too were green-webbed sections across its body, as the titan's self-repair systems worked to undo the catastrophic damage inflicted by the Genion. Its face was half cratered in, and one eye flickered back to life as it observed the charging Diam Sir, and the stalwart form of the GAI, staring its twin down in the distance.

"To think the Genion was hiding something like that..." Gasped the Knight of Knights, once more - as if to himself - "I've been outplayed."

Thrusters flaring, the Geminia kicked off from among the ruin rising into the stars... and paused, looking down at the two of them, its winged silhouette framed against the distant Earthrise.

"Listen, the both of you." Said Enfield, quietly:

"Leave this place. Forget Everglory. Forget pride. Forget honor. All of it... For your own sake."

Within the cockpit, he closed his eyes. The pain shooting through his body... was already informing him that he was at his limit. What he had done today could never be taken back... But it was necessary. All of it, every single bit... Because there was nothing else he could do.

"Luna is nothing... but a place of death."​

A burst of energy erupted from the Geminia, as a familiar, spherical field wrapped around its body, causing it to vanish from sight as the ASRS system activated, the Geminia cannonballing up into space at escape velocity... Until it was nothing more than a glimmer on the horizon. Somehow... The two had triumphed. Gerart Enfield was gone, leaving only cryptic, disturbed warnings in his wake... but so too, was the precious Gemini Sphere.
 

Hitura Rael

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#42
It was a particularly odd sensation that flooded James when Enfield's voice crackled over the com line. Relief, yes, but dread and fear that bit down to the very core, chilling the bones to ache accompanied and overpowered it. The Geminia stirred, pulling itself to it's feet. The sense of dread chewed at the core of James' stomach, birthing a sick sensation that forced the young man to swallow back bile.

How could the Geminia still be standing after all of that?! James snapped out of the mild daze as Geminia stood to her full height. Now was not the time to freeze up. The Genion GAI shifted her stance, the least damaged arm and leg out front, the damaged arm tucked in at the Genion's ribs, and damaged rib behind in the classic forward stance.

But instead of surging forward to attack again, the Geminia bolted away. Retreat? From Enfield? That was unheard of! But James was not going to look that gift horse in the mouth. The Genion relaxed her stance. "You're doing a shit job actually giving anything solid to make me listen to you. And UNLIKE you I will not abandon Selene." James bit back at him before the Geminia rocketed away. But the fear and anxiety warring in his stomach did not ease.

The Genion shot up to hover above the surface, surveying the desolate landscape for signs of further enemy engagement. Most importantly, he searched out signs of Selene. A ship, a battered broken machine that shouldn't be there, anything. "Selene, please tell me the com lines are cleared up..."
 
Jun 14, 2018
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#43
A muttered curse escaped Charles as the Geminia rose once more. That the thing could still function after the combined beating they'd given it...incredible. The Diam Sir dropped to the lunar soil and skidded to a halt, weaponless, remaining arm raised defensively - but it seemed as though Enfield had decided he didn't find his chances against this new form of the Genion favorable. They were left to gaze upward as it ascended with a swiftness neither mech could match, hovering above as Gerart delivered his spiel.

The words brought an ugly snarl to the Grand Arbiter's lips. The man truly had turned his back on Everglory, a traitor through and through. To abandon pride and honor? An easily forgiven offense, when the situation called for it; Charles was not so deluded that he did not recognize how ceremony sometimes shackled the Lunarians unnecessarily. But to throw the Kingdom itself to the wind, and all her citizens and all she stood for...his knuckles whitened on the Sir's controls as anger rose in his chest. It was beyond comprehension. Beyond forgiveness. A great plume of dust shot up around his machine as its thrusters flared to life once more, catapulting it upward in pursuit, arm extended and fingers splayed as if it could reach up and grasp the Geminia around the throat to throttle it.

"ENFIELD!" But his efforts were in vain as the azure machine shot away, far beyond the capability of the damaged Sir to follow. A dull noise echoed across the comms as Charles thumped a balled fist against the console in frustration. Damn and blast! This was an unacceptable failure. Sir Franklin would never have allowed such a criminal to escape. As much as he hated to admit that any part of Enfield's taunting had been valid, if the Giganscudo had not been left in such disrepair after the battle with Vynatea...

James' pleading pulled the man out of his thoughts. Though he had caught only fragments of the conversation before revealing himself to Enfield, if Selene - that Selene, Her royal highness - was in the vicinity and had potentially come to harm, finding her was now of the utmost priority. It appeared as though James had far more knowledge of the queen's possible whereabouts than he.

"I am at your disposal, young Steelheart. We will find her." Or so he hoped.
 

GEAR

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#44
In the wake of the Geminia's departure, the Lunar surface was once again calm, with nothing but the faint, occasional lights of distant battle as the otherworldly hordes continued their onslaught. To think that the peaceful days of the Kingdom were now over, brought crashing down in only a few days... must have felt, in that moment, like an impossibility. An entire generation of their number had been raised never knowing the scourge of war, and combined with the sudden, eerie silence of the Lady, the struggle raging at that very moment seemed to many to be only a prelude to something much, much worse on the horizon.

Making their way into the ruins of the power plant, the full extent of Enfield's rampage would have become apparent - the scattered remains of three more Royal Guard Raftklanz had been rent about the vast interior, yet thankfully the station still yet functioned undeterred - with due thanks given to ample redundancies and safeties yet built into its systems. Sprawling underneath the dome stood several rows of buildings - enough for a small city, yet almost wholly automated by various drones and automatons, many of which hurried about on wheels, thrusters, and claws, scrambling hurriedly to repair damage as quickly and efficiently as they could, with one or another occasionally bouncing off their hulls as they made their way inward.

A gaping hole in the floor indicated where Enfield and his pursuers had emerged, its depths dark and uninviting, yet not unknown to the Arbiter, who would have arrived following the trail the devastation earlier. Fortunately, James' senses would have alerted him to Selene's presence nearby, in one of the intact structures - one that was comparatively low to the ground, featureless, and seemingly out of place among the more purposeful mechanisms arrayed around it that stood tall and proud.
 

Hitura Rael

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#45
"Thank you, sir. I don't think we're in any shape to chase him down or continue the fight." James frowned as his survey of the area turned up nothing. He hoped she was far far away, maybe within the depths of the ritual rooms and communicating there from safety of the Lady's watchful eyes. But things were never that easy, and his sister was not one to let others do the dirty work she felt she could do. The Genion drifted toward the hole in the glass dome. The emerald glow given off by the GAI system faded, parts shifting back into place.

"Damn. That doesn't last long, whatever it is." James sighed over the intercom, voice shooke with the receding adrenaline. The Genion touched down inside the abandoned city. For a moment, he watched the automatons scurry about in their attempts to repair the damage. One by one, the Genion knelt beside the remains of the fallen Raftclans. Corpse by corpse, James' heart grew heavier with the loss of another knight. He had known these men, hoped that Enfield had left them alive and their machines hopelessly disabled. But he knew better in the back of his mind, Enfield never left the enemy alive.

Reality was settling in harshly. The man he admired most, a traitor, cruel and heartless. When staring down his own friends in a superior machine he opted to utterly destroy them. Men and women who had families, loved ones. He used the trust they all had for him as a weapon, a luring light in the dark, drawing them to his fangs. He could never forgive Enfield for what he had done here, the chain of events he caused, the sharp fanged monster he had unleashed. Yet... death was too good for the man. Perhaps it was petty, but he would make sure that Selene gave him a life sentence in a jail cell, force him to watch the Lunar Kingdom rebound from this tragedy and prosper again. The best punishment truly was not to harm the individual who needed the retribution... It was to rub the success of those they hurt in their face and strip them of all freedoms.

With the last kill confirmed, James turned his attention to the sensation of his beloved sister. The Genion strode purposefully to the odd structure, avoiding the massive hole in the floor. James was sure of himself in his approach, not bothering to look anywhere else prior to attending the structure. The Genion knelt and cupped it's hand to the cockpit as it opened. James stepped out onto the Genion's hand and wrapped an arm around the thumb to stabilize himself as the hand lowered down to the structure. He hopped off and tilted his head up to the Sir. "Uh... so... In your experience, what exactly is the protocol here... Should I knock or..." His voice sounded nervous, anxious, like a mix of a raw recruit on the field and someone meeting his first date, a mixture of fear and excitement.
 
Jun 14, 2018
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#46
Truth be told, the idea of returning to the shattered dome held little appeal for Charles; seeing that destruction just once had been more than enough. But it seemed as though his younger counterpart - a psychodriver no doubt, as the Lunarian nobility so often was, though the Arbiter himself lacked that particular gift - was rapidly zeroing in on Selene's location, and it lay in that direction. The battered Sir stood by in respectful silence as the Genion moved from one fallen machine to the next...no, from one corpse to the next. If Enfield's reputation held water, he already knew the fate of the pilots who had opposed him. Charles briefly considered stopping James, but decided against it. With the path things seemed to be headed down in Everglory, it was better that he be exposed to the grim reality of real combat and its consequences sooner rather than later.

And perhaps it would prevent him from being too soft on Gerart should they meet again.

His inspection concluded, James seemed to focus on one of the smaller, squatter buildings. Moving in alongside the Genion, the Arbiter was not far behind the young knight, descending from the Diam Sir's cockpit in the low gravity on a line. With the dome broken, the structures inside seemed to have enacted their automatic emergency protocols and sealed against the harsh void around them. Striding past his counterpart, Charles placed a hand lightly on the dully illuminated panel next to the door. "The building sealed itself against vacuum when the dome was breached. There will be an interior airlock, but we cannot assume it has not been damaged. Follow me and move quickly." Depressing the panel, he pushed through the sudden outrush of venting atmosphere and passed through the portal, motioning for James to come along before it closed once more.
 

GEAR

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#47
The interior of the building was... comparatively drab for Lunarian standards, and the two were greeted with a rush of stale, recycled air as they removed their helmets. Though it failed to lack the characteristic cutting edge technology that Kingdom was known for, the sleek, glossy halls were sparsely decorated, as befitting what appeared to be a service and maintenance building of sorts. Space suits lined the entryway, and proceeding further within would have caused emergency lights to flicker on overhead. Some power, however, seemed to remain, as the lighting shifted closer to to normal the closer they got to the Queen's own psychic signal.

Recently disturbed dust in the main hallways indicated that the structure had been recently used, perhaps by the very same Knights that now lay in various states of dismemberment just outside, and a pair of elevators and stairwells were passed, indicating that more levels were present just below the surface, likely for the purpose of quickly accessing the underground transit system.

At length, the two would have arrived at a nondescript door, which slid aside with only the slightest of touches. Within, various holographic displays hovered about - security feeds located about the facility, and all along the pipeline. Quite a few had been demolished, leaving only static overlaid with the telling message of "NO SIGNAL", but many still remained untouched, with a large clump of the displays gathered near the room's center by-

"James. Sir Beaumont."

Queen Selene III, She of the Flawless Mirror, supreme ruler of Luna, turned to regard the two, her features lit only by the glow of the displays. None of her typical ceremonial makeup adorned her features - a first for the Arbiter, no doubt, but not for young James. A fresh faced young woman, with straight, shoulder length hair, clothed in white, functional robes, her arms folded within its confines. Even without the effect of her guise, her gaze was still... penetrating, somehow, two dark brown orbs that stared straight at the two of them, as though affixing them to the spot with its presence alone.

She closed her eyes... and gave a slow sigh of relief before reopening them. The fierceness was gone, replaced with... fatigue, it seemed.

"Thank the Lady."
 
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Hitura Rael

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#48
James nodded to the Arbiter's assessment, though it was more detailed than strictly necessary. He knew the basics of everything the Arbiter had said, but not the exact etiquette. It was important to Lunar nobility right? Plus if she still had guards he'd definitely like to NOT surprise them. Still, he was grateful for the refresher, since he did ask. He would need to work on that wording...

He stood close to the Arbiter, knees bent and poised at the ready. Once he opened the airlock, he gave the older man enough time to move before following on his heels. His anxiety spiked to it's crescendo as the doors sealed again. An ache washed over him, biting down to the bone. His heart felt as if it pounded in his throat and chest all at once. He wanted to remain rooted to the spot, afraid of the state he'd find Selene in when they crossed that threshold. It was a battle against his own muscles, feeling simultaneously like rubber and gelatin, a battle just to keep upright. But he could not stand behind and lurk, waiting for the news from his companion. He would never forgive himself if he were too much of a coward to go to his sister's side without knowing...

He pushed past the uneasy tightness, the weakness in his own flesh, the dizziness brought on by anxiety and uncertainty. The driving need to attend to his sister was all that pushed him on through fatigue and fear. He followed the sense of his sister more than the dust on the floor, not bothering to take his helmet off just yet. It would shield his face from the Arbiter if the worst had come to pass at least. If he had not been so tired, thinking straight, not running on adrenaline... perhaps his brain would have processed that if she had perished in the explosion Gerart caused, he wouldn't feel her so strongly, if at all. But he was not in a logical place.

He glanced back only occasionally to ensure that the Arbiter was behind him still. It was an uneasy feeling, having the man behind him instead of in front of him. His back was exposed, after all. He remained silent, moving through the halls and deeper into the domicile. If it had been a normal mission, even with this anxiety, Sir Beaumont would have been treated to his normal wit and humor to ease the tension and awkwardness of the situation. Given the gravity of the situation though, he was sure if he did anything other than focus on Selene... He'd throw up. He was not sure he would even manage not to when they did find her.

Finally, his hand laid upon a door that slid aside with the touch of his finger tips. And just like that, seeing her standing there, whole and hale, the fear and anxiety flooded away. He pulled his helmet off and dropped it to the ground, rushing toward her. He wanted to scream at her, to shout at her, berate her for the foolish decisions she had made. For leaving him in the dark about all this! Going off alone! He was going to-

He reached out to her and pulled her into a tight embrace before the thought even crossed his mind. The mental block holding back the tide of emotion broke, drowning him in a flood of uncertainty. He pressed his lips to her forehead, loosening his grip on her as he sank to his knees. He buried his face in her robes, tears of relief and pain rolling down his cheeks to stain her blouse as he held her tight. Thank the lady, she was alright.
 
Jun 14, 2018
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#49
Having moved swiftly inside, it was to Charles' relief that the interior of the structure appeared intact and held atmosphere. He moved aside to make way for James, releasing his own helmet with a soft hiss of equalizing pressure and hanging it at his hip. As before, his companion seemed to be following his gut rather than any particular logic; he chose not to question it. Being so embedded in the ranks of the nobility as a function of his station, it was far from the first time the Arbiter had observed the incorporeal sixth sense in action.

It was good, he reflected, that the young man was willing to face down whatever they might find head-on. Martial prowess had its place to be sure, but strength of different sorts were also required - and to conquer the unknown despite your own misgivings demonstrated important resolve. He could see the unsteadiness in James' step, but followed behind without words, shepherding him silently along and taking in their surroundings. His hopes for Her Majesty's well-being rose the deeper they moved into the structure - if indeed she was here - as it appeared almost totally unmolested by combat. There were minute signs here and there that someone had recently passed through as well.

At long last, they passed through what would turn out to be the final portal...and there she was. Whole and unharmed, or at least so it appeared at first sight. To view his Queen without the heaped adornments generally piled upon her person in public was a strange sensation, to be sure. He might have described it even as vaguely unsettling, knowing he was laying eyes upon a sight not intended for those of his station. But she was immediately recognizable all the same, and though he had not been experiencing the same emotional turmoil as James, a deep sense of relief flooded the Arbiter at her appearance and wiped away any misgivings.

"My Lad-" Charles made to move purposefully forward, but was interrupted both mid-sentence and mid-stride as James dashed to Selene. Every muscle in his being tensed, suddenly fearful that this entire situation was a charade to strike at Selene, however illogical that thought may have been - but relaxed as the young man fell to his knees, openly sobbing now. While the proper thing to do would have been to pry him away from Her Majesty at once, these were...extenuating circumstances. The Lady had always been far more open to fraternizing with those of lower rank than herself than her late father, bless his soul. And though he were no Psychodriver, the Arbiter felt as though something more was amiss here.

Stepping forth to join the two after a moment, Charles' head dipped in a curt bow, hands clasped at the small of his back. "My Lady. You are unharmed?"
 

GEAR

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#50
Selene opened her mouth - only to be swept up by James into an emotional embrace. She seemed to freeze up as he held her tight, her body going rigid, eyes wide with surprise... Yet as he began to weep, slowly falling to his knees, her frame relaxed, and her features turned from shock... to solemn. James would have felt her touch, then - her fingers pressing against the back of his head, running through his hair as she looked down upon him. No words, it seemed, were necessary. For a moment, they simply stayed like that - and it was almost uncertain she had heard Charles' question, before she finally answered, gaze still on her sibling.

"Nothing fatal."

Her other hand gently touched her side, where a faint wetness pressed through the fabric of her robes. It seemed she hadn't escaped unscathed after all... yet Selene III was, if nothing else, resilient - her poise unfaltering, even in the face of all the day's events. At last, she looked up to meet Charles' own gaze... her expression seemingly no less fierce for having Steelheart clinging to her like a helpless child.

"You have done us a great service today, Lord Arbiter." She said, reaching up to push long, black strands back behind her ear as she did so.

"We came closer to the end of the Kingdom than either of you will ever know. Because of your efforts... We shall survive. You have my gratitude."

There was a long pause, as if she were searching carefully for the next words. Rumor had long swirled about her, none of it flattering - and doubtlessly Charles would have been privy to more than his share of palace intrigue.

"...And yet." She breathed; her tone hardening:

"Gerart Enfield still lives."
 

Hitura Rael

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#51
The comforting touch was enough to calm him... slightly. He stayed down, using the opportunity with his face hidden to collect himself. His anger stoked again, as she motioned to her wound, but easily enough to hide that... He hoped.

Eventually, he loosened his grip to stand up and dry his face on his sleeve. He turned to face the Arbiter, cheeks burning. "Thank you for helping me today. I uh... I think we'd both appreciate it if you kept this lapse in propriety to yourself." His tone was... different. ALMOST mimicking Selene's. He was at least TRYING to act like his noble blood demanded for once.

He forced a smile, standing beside Selene, turning ever so slightly to skew his face and any comparisons in the bone structure or other minuscule similarities the two had inherited. Hopefully, his youth kept any comparisons to his father or mother from being made. He had stopped caring about being exposed though, given the events of the past week or so. Selene could not continue alone. There was just... a small matter to attend to first.

"Selene, what exactly happened? None of this is like him at all. This is far from normal for him. Especially if he did that himself." He motioned to the wound on her side, a flash of anger on his face. If Gerart had personally wounded her... He bit the inside of his lip and exhaled slowly to return to the mask of calm. "I do not think you can continue to rule alone, and to deal with this I- We... need more detail than what we know on the surface. He almost killed us both. The ONLY reason that we survived is the Genion... did... something." He struggled with words for summing that up.
 
Jun 14, 2018
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#52
The Grand Arbiter's brow creased almost imperceptibly at the sight of Selene's wound, eyes narrowing just a hair; not even he, as highly trained in concealing his emotions for the sake of diplomacy as anyone, could hide the renewed anger that surged up from deep in his chest. He was thankful that his hands were hidden from the others' view as they shook slightly, two gloved fists clenched so tightly with white-knuckled fury that they began to go numb. That this...this farce would have extended so far as to wound the Queen herself...! Charles' level-headedness and a seeming inability to hold a grudge were aspects of his personality greatly espoused by Sir Franklin upon his choice as successor to the man's post. But what he felt at the moment...there was perhaps no more accurate word to describe it than hatred for Gerart Enfield.

"That he does, my Lady." His mouth formed a thin line. Such honors as praise from Her Majesty were ill-deserved, moreso now than at any other point in his career. "It is my failure. My skills were...insufficient." Speaking the words aloud made that fact sting all the more. "Sir Steelheart is correct in his assessment. Alone, I could not have succeeded in even so much as driving Enfield back." Charles favored the younger man with an acknowledging nod. "Regardless of the Genion's contribution to our survival, you have proven yourself as highly as any knight. Be proud of that."

His attention shifted back to Selene, meeting the Queen's pointed gaze eye-to-eye, a boldness few in Everglory would have dared to exhibit. "Even the slightest detail may contain clues to Enfield's motivation...as well as where he's fled to." So that he might pay for these crimes.
 

GEAR

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#53
At Charles' assertion that Enfield had indeed survived, the Queen gave a slow sigh, closing her eyes and breathing out through her nose. Whether it was one of relief, or exasperation was uncertain... but the momentary lapse in demeanor was quickly forgotten as she turned her gaze on James. If his attempt at acting regal had managed to impress her, but she did not say - instead, reached out a hand, gently touching his arm, as if to steady him.

"...Gerart was tasked with overseeing the final construction of the ZONE's interior." She explained; "That structure, as you know... is of paramount importance to Luna's future.

The "Sphere" was intended to be a vital component of its design. A treasure of Luna that has been passed down in our bloodline since the time of the great Tsukuyomi. Its value to our nation, our people... cannot be overstated."

At the mention of the last name, she bowed her head slightly in reverence. It was not one that either man would have been deeply familiar with - only ascribed to hazy rumor that the origins of Luna, of Psychodrivers, could supposedly be traced back to the time of legend. Psychics had, of course, existed throughout the course of human history, and to ascribe them to this single individual was enough for most to laugh off the story as mere hearsay - yet here was the Queen herself, speaking of them as a matter of fact.

Folding her arms, she continued, turning her full attention now to Charles.

"He will seek refuge amongst the Colonists. This was not a premeditated act, only one of opportunism... Even so, it does not make him any less dangerous."

Selene brought a hand up to her chin, cradling it delicately as she contemplated her next words - or, perhaps, were here thoughts straying? It was always difficult to tell with the monarch where her true intentions were, even without the aid of her "mask", the royal persona she adopted day in and day out.

"Sir Beaumont." She said at last;

"Gather the finest, most trusted of our number, and the Fure Class vessel just completed at LX-04... Both shall be at your disposal. I shall also ensure you are provided with ample Eltreum to make use of Larseilam at your express discretion."

Eltreum.

Luna's most precious resource, the rare material that powered their trump card - the Larseilam stasis field. Use of the material was watched hawkishly, and to be allowed even minute control of its expenditure was unprecedented, and spoke to the deep severity of the situation. Selene's tone hardened, her features only lit by the dim projections still flickering all about the three of them.

"The Sphere must be retrieved at any and all cost. I trust you to handle this appointment with the appropriate urgency."
 

Hitura Rael

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#54
James stayed quiet, despite the overwhelming desire to pry more into exactly what the man had been doing. It was hard to suppress that, free as Selene was with him when he was curious... Normally... He had never really asked many questions that she wouldn't answer, he knew better than to ask them. Except that one time...

He heaved a small sigh, glancing at Selene's wound again, only half listening as she authorized the Arbiter to practically launch a full blown crusade to take bring Gerart in. Unfortunately, he knew all too well and now first hand that it was utterly necessary. He was not jealous or upset that he was initially being left out of the chase. He was no match for his elder brother, and the Genion... There was bound to be some studying and poking and prying at her now. He'd need to get a mechanic he trusted to over see that...

"Until the Genion is repaired there's not much I can do. But once she's in fighting shape I'll join you in the hunt." He continued to mimic Selene's regal tone. Tired as he was, and as much as his room mate had yelled at him for making stupid decisions while tired... he had made a choice that had been avoided since the day he was born.

"For now, we should get Selene back for treatment. I have a first aid kit in the Genion but I'm afraid I'm not very skilled in medical treatment. How bad is the wound?" He glanced to his older sister, biting back the worry for her, stilling his face to a placid mask. Right up until he thought better of letting her walk. If it was bad and she walked... it could tear open and bleed again. He did his best to mimic their father's stern face, the 'James don't you dare drop that frog in your sisters tea pot' or 'Get your bottom in the bath and don't come out until you're completely clean from mud' face. "And you are not walking. I think I can carry you. You're not heavy, just... all legs."