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RP: YSS Kaiyō Mission 28: Akuma

Morgana, finding shelter beneath a shattered window—a casualty of William's tempestuous entry—peaked over to cast her gaze upon the quartet of Assault Drones arrayed beyond. Each entity scoured the vicinity with a singular objective: the identification and neutralization of Advanced Types as they slithered on their many limbs away from their escape pods. Upon detection, the air itself seemed to recoil from the piercing shriek of Aether beams slicing through its very fabric.

As the echo of gunfire began to wrap around the building, the science officer's hand gravitated towards the cold, reassuring presence of her SMG. The initial staccato of NMX weaponry, a discordant prelude to the more harmonious responses from the Star Army's arsenal, offered her some solace. The comms buzzed with updates and calls to action, fueling an urge to join her comrades. Yet she understood the strategic importance of her position: each Advanced Type she vanquished in the open was one less adversary to confront within the claustrophobic confines of the building— where the enemy thrived.

Seeing the enemy all file into the buildings, and with little specific relevance the structures had to their objective that she was aware of, a far more expedient way of dealing with them occurred to her. “No chance we can’t simply abandon our position and let the Kaiyo strike from orbit?” She asked once there was a break in the fighting and comms chatter.

Morgana was fully aware that such a use of force would be an escalation that might make future diplomatic overtures to the locals difficult. Though in the short time she’d known Aiko and Hoshi, she’d gotten the impression there existed certain scenarios where they might choose to proceed with such actions, diplomatic consequences be damned.
 
Nebel
Spire Landing Zone
Outer Wall


"You said it yourself at the briefing, Shoi." Delving lower into the building, Hoshi responded to Morgana. She switched to a channel between them. "We're starting any diplomatic negotiations on a severe back foot by attacking at all. Razing their territory should only come after we've shown them their true enemy, lest we make ourselves their next one. Once we've won that mental battle, we strike with our full might." Hoshi said this unaware of Morgana's internal thoughts but acutely aware of her own. The Aingelians had no reason to trust them and they needed to prove to these new peoples that the Mishhuvurthyar were indeed on their planet and were indeed creating something hostile against them. But if it became apparent the Aingelians were working with the Mishhu, Morgana's plan was already Hoshi's backup. With the ships in orbit no longer a problem, the Kaiyo was primed for doing just as Hoshi had said—or worse— what Hoshi feared more likely.

"You need backup!" Hoshi said as her multi-processing digital mind took in Morgana's position. "Aratani-shoi, fall back and position yourself on the outside of the building with Morgana-shoi."

"Haaaiii," the Nekovalkyrja responded, pulling away from Isuke and Hildr to provide support for Morgana. Alone firing pot shots at the tanky Advanced hadn't led to many outright enemy deaths; attacking a Mishhuvurthyar alone rarely ended well, even if the horrors had little cover as they floated out of escape pods and in between flocks of their NMX Neko. Unlike the Enhanced, who was now attending to what seemed to be a pod of injured Nekovalkyrja, the Advanced were attending less to the sheepish infantry women and more to themselves as they found equipment, sticking it on the spikes of their chitin before their tendrils found weapons to hold.

For her part, Aratani tucked into a pockmark in the outer wall where a battlepod's torpedo had hit earlier and began firing from beneath the large fallen support beam. "Who we hitting?" she asked even as she followed Morgana's line of fire and Aratani's scalar machine gun on her shoulder arced gracefully to begin firing on the Advanced Morgana was targeting, as well.

Outside the Spire

Zelphon's missiles did indeed fell the battlepods and two, then three fell lackadaisically downwards, disappearing into the clouds. Even as Isuke asked her question of Hildr, a battlepod wheezed past them. Its turrets sputtered out dribble to be avoided or deflected off their armors, but its partner, another battlepod, was further away and shot a torpedo at Hildr and Zelphon's position just as its brethren was flinging its distracting self away.

Inner Rooms

Molli had held her own against the NMX Nekovalkyrja onslaught, but having William and Muyomi crash through the window to help with the latest wave of attrition hadn't been unwanted nor unwarranted. With the three descending the floating inner stairs, they could see scorches of aether fire and firey explosions from the battlepod torpedoes through some of the many gaps in the buildings. But instead of being on the fourth floor where Hoshi had pointed it out, the Advanced had the same idea as them and had begun to use the internal staircase. It wasn't taking a straight path, floating amongst statues and foregoing treading the stairs altogether, but when it caught sight of the hulking Nepleslian armor and its slender Yamataian counterparts (Molli being extra slim due to missing an entire extremity) the creature ducked behind a slick black humanoid statue of what an Aingelian must have looked like.

It snapped out of cover just to fire a shot, its aether round blasting a line in the air like the Kaiyo had only just done in larger scale in space. It struck Muyomi, but the medic just fell behind William as if it hadn't happened at all and pulled her own gun from behind her back to her hands, readying to shoot. When it came out of cover next, just the tentacle holding its aether rifle could be seen as it took another shot—this time at the pointman of the trio.
 
Morgana's eyes widened, a flicker of surprise beneath the shield of her helmet as she came to the realization that she’d been assigned as the rearguard. With resolve hardening in her gaze, she stood, leaving cover of rubble. Raising her armored arm with a deliberate motion, she pointed a fist towards the enemy vanguard. The four drones, previously engaged in their own patterns of attack, ceased their individual assaults, and gathered around her extended limb, their movements synchronizing in an orbit about it. The beam apertures aligned parallel with Morgana's arm, and the air vibrated with the charge of capacitors, straining against the imminent discharge. Aetheric light, fierce, and unyielding, burst forth as she opened her hand, converging at a point upon an Advanced Type’s carapace, burning through it until its insides were roasted.

“Independent targeting, standard target precedence!” Morgana said to Aratani, shouting so her voice overcame the cacophony, even as the beams danced towards the next in line. “Proximity, Command and Control, Heavy Weapons, then everyone else!”
 
The overwhelming enemy presence had pushed Molly to leap behind one of the shattered chunks of a wall for cover, which turned out to be a futile gesture as the high-powered rounds from NMX rifles punched through all around her. William said he was on the way, so all Molli had to do was hunker down and hope they didn't push her position before he arrived. Miraculously, she didn't need to wait long as a thundering crash and the familiar whirring of Nepleslian chainguns let Molli know that the tide had turned. Peeking out of cover, Molli took in the absurd sight of Muyomi crawling off of William, who stood with a dangerous smirk amid the bloody carnage he'd created. "R-Right!" she stammered, leaping over the wall to join the other two.

As she observed the damage that the battle was starting to wreak upon the building, Molli silently hoped that the people of Nebel would understand the price of evicting the Mishhu from their future home. She stuck close to William, having grown used to using the hulking ID-SOL as cover, instincts that served her well as a distant Advanced opened fire on the squad's position. Seeing Muyomi take a hit immediately drew the young Nepleslian's attention, "Y'okay?!" she said, with unconcealed concern, concern that was ultimately unfounded given that she remembered to check her squadmate's Mindy readout.

With William as her cover, Molli peeked out to get a reading on the Advanced, whose choice of cover made it a difficult target. The humanoid statue was a massive target, and it looked made of sturdy material that couldn't be pierced easily. Given that there were likely more of these squids to take out, Molli tried to think of a way to take this one out as efficiently as possible. That's when the statue's legs caught her eye -- its ankles were quite a bit thinner than the other parts of the statue, and it must've taken a master sculptor to keep the whole thing from collapsing. If Molli could get close, she could tip the delicate balance of its design in the right direction.

"Keep its peepers on ya!" Molli barked before letting herself fall off the staircase with little fanfare, as though one of the Advanced's wayward shots had found purchase on her armor. Activating her Mindy's wings, Molli fine-tuned her speed to let her shoot up the wall and find the time to pin down two shotgun blasts that blasted chunks of rock off of the statue's legs. As she sprinted along the wall, Molli's racer instincts took hold, allowing her to imagine the perfect amount of engine thrust she'd need to kick off the wall and soar to her destination without the aid of her wings' distinctive aether trail to give her position away. Amid the chaos of battle, it might've been hard to see the form of a minor, one-armed Nepleslian woman flying toward the head of the statue.

Just like in her races, time seemed to slow for Molli as the statue's head grew closer. The sounds of gunfire faded into a dull white noise as all of her focus was on grabbing the statue's temples from below and, in that same instant, activating the wings of her Mindy. The result was a sudden output of force that made the statue collapse under the weight of its damaged ankles, causing it to fall over in the direction Molli had pulled -- the same direction that the Advanced was cowering behind. Given that its focus had been entirely on a more immediate threat in the form of William, it must've come as a shock to find its cover coming down on it out of nowhere.

Unfortunately, it didn't have time to be shocked for long, as the stone statue smashed it into a bloody smear beneath its immense weight.
 
As the interior team moved further into the building, the monster they were hunting had found them. As the shot passed by William and hit Muyomi, the Captain quickly deployed his shield and let loose with his shoulder mounted railguns at the Advanced's position. "Muyomi are you okay?" He called, not being able to see her vitals but also not able to turn around and check on her.

All he could do was hope she was okay as he continued to pour fire into the Mishu's cover. At Molli's order all William could do was grunt in acknowledgement as he took incoming fire. Slowly, he took step after step towards the statue, that was until he spotted Molli attempting to drop the statue onto the Mishu. As it started to come down, he cursed and lept backwards to avoid being caught up in the falling debris.
 
Spire Interior

Not a heartbeat after Hoshi's statement about finding whatever was attracting the Mishhu escaping their burning ships above to this particular building, Aiko's Kirie Thought Armor was already on its way toward the skyward pinnacle's hollow interior. Alongside her captain, the princess darted straight inside and away from the spire's windswept hull to see its spiraling inner chamber, where each breezy, open story of the building's behemoth mass seemed to wind downward atop the next into an oblivion obscured by the thick haze of moisture and whatever terraforming matter rushed through Nebel's atmosphere.

"These fiends usually root themselves low and beneath the surface, even when their filth fights this high up," Aiko said, still motivating her Kirie's thrusters forward and down toward the planet's surface that had to be several kilometers beneath them. For now, there was nothing but a descending depth ahead on her visual sensors as the dark, seamlessly descending floors of the spire squiggled past in her peripheral. Every know and then, she would catch some NMX Neko or Mishhvurthyar whose escape pod had crashed too low scampering along the walks of this construct's descent but ignored them in favor of the mission at hand.

"Nothing yet," Aiko chirped, flying deeper and deeper into the cavernous spire's belly alongside Hoshi while actively scanning for anything her little mecha's CIES sensors would pick up. "No — wait," she corrected when something pinged in her HUD ahead of them down lower toward the ultra tall skyscraper's floor. "There!"
 
Fighting down the pit of vertigo in her stomach from the planetfall, Hildr mentally acknowledged the chusa's orders and began scanning for targets and checking her equipment for readiness. She had only a couple of rockets in her shoulder and leg launchers, but her SMG still had plenty of charge, and her drone pods in her wing moutns were still good to go. And of course she still had her guntō, if all else failed.

The neko grinned under her helmet at that.

Outside the spire now, Hildr took up a position with Zelphon, and Isuke, taking potshots at the battlepods as they flew about. "Hai, chusa!" The neko responded to Hoshi's orders to take the battlepods on, gripping her weapon and choosing her targets more carefully. With a thought she also sent the drones from her wing pack soaring out ot support, lending bursts of fire at every target she picked.

Hildr was about to respond to Isuke's question when she saw a battlepod launch a torpedo toward her position. Her eyes going wide, she whipped her head toward Zelphon and called out "Move!" before taking flight herself, kicking off the ground with force and flying up in an arc away from the projectile, while taking aim and blasting at the battlepod that had fired upon them. "Isuke-shoi, we can search from the air while we take down these pods! The chusa gave us a job to do first," she called out with a feral grin under her mask.
 
Outside the Spire

"Crispy," Aratani noted the way Morgana had disposed of the advanced she had targeted. For her own part, she unloaded her scalar machine gun into a descending escape pod as it whizzed through the atmosphere.

Nearby, Hildr was shooting at the battlepod, The brain-slave within had wanted to get the jump on her but wasn't happy that she had avoided the torpedo and shot a new salvo of missiles in her direction, then Isuke's. As if coming to its aid, two more battlepods appeared out of the purple of the clouds and their turrets were already firing on the trio, then on Aratani and Morgana's as they passed by the semi-sheltered pair.

Inner Rooms

"I-I'm fine," Muyomi said, then took in a loud breath. "Well, that aether round hit me but I'll be fine. Just can't get hit again, probably." The medic took in Molli's movement like she were watching a spinning top and then gasped as she saw the santo hei plummet towards the head of the statue, falling without her aether wings but in full control. But when she could no longer see Molli, Muyomi rushed past William and to the infantry woman.

"You okay?" Muyomi was almost parroting what William had just asked her before she added, "Of course you are." It was obvious Molli was fine while her enemy was less than so. She had known what she was doing and had seen the battlefield for what she could use it for.

Spire Interior

Hoshi's own Mindy hadn't picked up the sensor ping that Aiko's CIES had received and she was thankful to at least have Aiko there for that, even if it did mean leaving green soldiers without her to do battle above. The structure had been fairly expected thus far, but now at the floor level the walls became a slick amalgamations of that corporate design practice and the fleshy innards of a Mishhuvurthyar starship. There were crisscrossing pathways and layers that made it hard to get a clear view of any one entrance or room, but there were places where the opening of patchwork let Hoshi and Aiko see hundreds, if not thousands of warty pods with Nekovalkyrja within them. A few NMX Neko milled about that lower room, unaware of intruders far above looking in. Hoshi flew over the skyscraper's floor, looking for another opening. There was a large hangar bay and a fabrication chamber big enough to create vehicles.

"Kaiyo actual to ground team." On their command channels, Asuka spoke to Hoshi and Aiko, "We're seeing a mass of planet to planet teleportations from Aingeal to Nebel. Look out for their ground forces and a few starships they've teleported over to a nearby spire."

Hoshi looked to Aiko, still speedily descending alongside her. "Their mettle's going to get tested if they run into them without one of us." Her mind was on the away team members, some of them very new. "I'm not worried." She had lied in a way Aiko could parse, but they needed to help these people even if they were dead set on not accepting it.
 
With her remaining arm and the rest of her Kalamari limbs, Molli exerted as much force as possible to help the statue crumble and crush the vile Advanced. The impact resulted in a deafening boom that echoed up and down and the spire, kicking up a massive cloud of rubble that intermixed with the condensation seeping in. Molli landed next to Will, weapons drawn, eyes scanning the collapsed statue until she was confident that the creature underneath it was well and truly dead. Hopefully, this statue wasn't priceless.

"We're up th'street wivout an engine," she stated through heavy breaths, "Don't think we're gonna crush 'em all wiv statues... Hoshi-Chusa wanted us with Faelan-shoi..." From the looks of things, they'd gotten well and truly separated, and it didn't look like Muyomi could take much more. Molli tuned her frequency to contact their wayward comrade.

"Faelan-Shoi, Byrne-Hei here. We're in th'guts of th'spire; me, Willy 'n Muyomi-heisho," Molli peered off into the depths of the spire, where she could hear distant sounds of gunfire and see the more immediate threat of swarming NMX and Advanced. "Muyomi got winged, and there's loadsa manky squids skitterin' about, think ya'ken get here?" Regardless of the answer, she was prepared to continue descending alongside Will and Muyomi, they'd just have to play it safer.
 
Inner Rooms

William sighed as the advanced mishu got squashed like a bug underfoot. "Lucky bastard. I had much worse for it in mind." He said to himself. Had his helmet been off he'd probably had spat on the corpse. "Muyomi, Molli, let move. We hang around here, we'll get ambushed. Let's press further in. I'll take point. Molli, you watch our six. Muyomi you are inbetween the two of us." This formation made the most sense to the captain. It put most of their firepower forward, but let Molli and her fast moving armor the room to manuver. Plus it kept their medic safe which was vital.

Nodding to himself, William held up a hand and waved it forward. "Let move." He added as he lead the way, further into the building. The captain held his lance at the ready, prepared for anything that came at them.
 
Outside the Spire

Morgana pivoted sharply, retreating as the ground beneath her erupted in a hail of debris, her CFS shouting warnings with every hit it took from the enemy's guns. With urgency creeping into her steps, she backed deeper into the building's shattered rooms, her pace quickening as the CFS alerts screamed louder inside her helmet. She commanded her drones with a thought, steering them out of the enemy’s cone of fire and above them with orders blind their optics. Ducking behind the twisted metal carcass of Williams' droppod, Morgana crouched low, her SMG at the ready to provide cover to Aratani. The air vibrated with the continuous barrage as the metal and concrete around the science officer were pelted under the relentless assault of enemy fire.

"Koizumi! Eyes on your CFS!" she shouted, concern ebbing into her inflection, cutting through the chaos. "Fall back if it's bleeding out. I've got your back!"

Switching channels with a thought, she connected to the squad band, her voice steady despite the storm around them. "Taisa, this is Pixy," she reported, the words crisp in the electric air. "Our position is becoming untenable. Permission to fall back?"
 
Spire Interior

The targeting systems within Aiko's Kirie scrolled past those uncounted multitudes of Mishhu-tainted Nekovalkyrja she could spy through the lattice of organic architecture when the princess darted ever downward toward the building's floor. She held her fire, unable to get many clear shots while she proceeded in her descent — not that even the mighty weapons mounted to her oversized Thought Armor's hardpoints could hope to have a real impact on diminishing the sleeping army even if she were to try.

It crossed Aiko's mind to initiate her suit's self-destruct sequence like she had at the Battle of Glimmergold, but she immediately decided against it. For even if she could manage to crumple this tower's foundations here and bring it down, there was no guarantee that other places across the planet's surface weren't equally infested with Mishhuvurthyar invaders. And she would need Ryuketsu's strength to fight against them, too. Instead, she landed hard on the spire's floor, only slowing at the last possible second in a way that caused her thrusters to burn the infected, fleshy ground in a rush of hot smoke.

Through the plume around her, Aiko began firing both shoulder mounted cannons through the open hangar bay and what appeared to be a fabrication chamber. Crouched in her landing stance for a moment she first picked out whichever enemy contacts she could see, lancing them with pink aether gatling fire, before picking out whatever vital equipment was in range with the 50mm gauss cannon she carried. Soon standing, Aiko's Kirie broke out into a charge toward those places that afforded her entrance into the Mishhvurthyar base of operations. Her fusillade continued as she went and was joined by a cloud of Shaped Electron Charged Ordinance mini-missiles that spiraled through the air ahead of their streaking propulsion trails to seek out fabrication modules, parked vehicles, and power conduits already damaged by her gauss slugs for further disruption.

"I fear we will not accomplish much here, Hoshi," Aiko said, admitting to a separate worry from Hoshi's as she activated her left forearm shield projector to protect against any return fire that would soon come her way. That knowledge clearly didn't stop the princess from doing what damage she could. "Shall we assist our fellows topside and wait for reinforcements or have them join us here?"
 
Spire Interior

"People of Yamatai," came a voice directly in everyone's comm set. "We have begun firing on your people and will continue to do so until you leave our planet and system!" The voice was holier than thou and Hoshi immediately recognized it.

"You're right to fall back," Hoshi told everyone while responding to Morgana Faelana's suggestion. "Let's regroup at the level of our landing zone just in the center. It's more defensible and Aiko-sama and I will be able to spot you as we come back up."

"They bypassed our jammers! That's the stateswoman from Aingeal," Hoshi said to Aiko. "Lumiv of House Aros. Head of mobilized aid division which I'm realizing now means Admiral and not just some diplomat. But command AIES isn't reporting any of our people hit or fired on by them. We need to get back up there."

Underneath them the modules, vehicles, and equipment were torn to cindering shreds. The only movement they could see as they tore upwards was a stretchy organic beam falling here and there among the small amount of destruction Aiko had been able to administer.

Outside the Spire

The Mishhuvurthyar missile had hit Hildr, tearing into her armor just before the turrets from the twin battlepods started pelting her with their own even heavier firepower.

"We have to get her to cover!" Aratani called to Morgana, the words that the other Shoi had her back ringing in her ears. She teleported to Hildr's position in the open and held her armor under the arms from behind and engaged her aether propulsion to speedily abscond back to the spire's cover.

What Aratani saw when she was out there was shocking.

"New forces arriving," Koizumi Aratani said into comms as she took in iridescent ships that warped the lightwaves around them in way her eyes almost couldn't believe. Their forms were ambiguous, hard to pin down as being a corvette or a gunship or what shape the ship even was. As they seemingly concentrated towards the spire, they were hard to keep a track on visually, much like their weapons fire as it splattered against Mishhuvurthyar battlepods and Advanced-types alike. The long jets were like evanescing mist from their cannons, at first appearing to meld into the air of Nebel, but then the targets were hit by a conflagration. Bright bursts of what could be fire consumed the creatures and small craft they shot at.

"Everyone into cover now!!" Aratani called, the strange ships and their weapons that were downing the Mishhuvurthyar. "Captain, we have people shooting at the Mishhuvurthyar.

Inner Rooms

Hoshi and Aiko had only just arrived alongside Aratani holding Hildr with Morgana and Isuke alongside her. Even Zelphon. Between levels in the hollow of the spire they could hear the exchange of fire outside of their supposed safe space. There was no statue to topple up here, a couple floors above the one that had squashed the Advanced earlier. There were some floating trees ten floors above whose red leaves furtively fell down as the spire was wracked with weapons fire and another ten floors above that, the inner cavern of the building opened up to the roof, letting a little light in. Because of the structure being hit and so many of the egresses having rubble blocking them, little light was coming in besides from that far opening.

Again, the team in the inner rooms could hear a voice, but this time it was in their minds.

"̵̨̰̪̣̞̎́Ẅ̵̢̡̛̞͓̥͓̣̗̟̣́̊͗̂̄̿̄͝͠E̶͈̗͇͋͒̊̈́ ̶̳̙̪̣̹̤̭̜̉H̷̨͙͈̾͒͂͑̏̀̓ͅĄ̵̙̟͚̮̤́̽̋̎͋͛̈̚͠D̵̝̣͊̈́́͗̍̕͝ ̸͎͓̭̯͉̲̘̟̭́́̏Ą̷̻̲͇̪̥̩̖͊̊̅͑̒͆͝͝ ̶̧̠̩̈̏̈́̍̊͋ͅḢ̵̤̩̫̮̘̫̘̇̔͋͝O̶̟̭̻̻̺̩͋̇̓̔̈́͆͠M̴̭͓̅͑̚E̶͉̩̺̼̯͊ͅ

Something hard and metal came rocketing out of the darkness and hit Molli straight on the temple of her helmet. The force wasn't enough to break her helmet, but it split the center of the metal cybernatic arm that had been lobbed at her down its dented and marred surface along where. an organic's bones would have been.

The glint of a dozen eyes deep in the recesses of the shadows burned brightly before the inky darkness around them was set ablaze with sickeningly bold pink light. Aether shot out from a pair of guns atop the red carapace. Though speckled with grey dappled marks, the ports were now affixed with weapons like those on their own Mindy's shoulders as the Enhanced shot from the obscurity of darkness.

T̴̼͓̳͈͉͙̩̖̒̔H̶̹̳̋Ê̶̯̮̳̥͇̇̒͆̔̑͘̚Y̸̼̯̰͖̻̝̺̑̒̃̉̽ͅ ̶̨͉̹̪̭͔̱͑͂ḧ̶̹͆̒̈́̄̑̽͑̎͝ä̴̞̠́̓d̷͉͍͌̍͘̚͠ ̷̤̲͈̬̎͆a̵͓͔̲̲̤̱̖̋̾̕͠͝͝ ̸̘̿̋͆̈́͛ḧ̶̺̲́̀̈́̓̒o̵̢̻̝͙̓̑̓͐͘m̷̛̙̘̱̾̾͐̄̈́͗̾̈́͗ě̷͈̀̈́̂͊̍

The pleasure and joy the Mishhuvurthyar usually spoke with was gone, leaving only malice remaining as not just its sorrowful words crept into their minds, but also the feeling of deep despair.
 
Molli waited for Faelan's reply, but when her squadmate's voice cracked through her communications, it was directed at the captain. Maybe the stress of holding an untenable position left Molli's request as the least important concern, but it became clear that she, William, and Muyomi were on their own for the time being. While the looming dread over the fate of her comrades settled in the back of Molli's mind, the Nepleslian fell into formation behind the others and let thoughts of keeping their medic safe occupy her thoughts. "Got yer back," she said, giving Muyomi a small pat on her shoulder.

From below, the distant sounds of explosions and pockmarked bursts of fire seemed proof enough that the Yamataians were holding their own. Molli was eager to join them just as soon as they'd cleared a safe path to the spire's base. Before the squad of three could move downward, an unfamiliar woman's voice wormed its way into their comms with a declaration of hostilities. It didn't sound like a warning from the Mishhu, which meant it had to have come from the people they were trying to help.

"They're gonna what?" Molli's incredulous voice broke through the squad's comms channel, "We're helpin' th'foozlers!" The Nepleslian was practically shaking with barely contained anger, but Hoshi's new orders were a salve that cooled Molli down. "Copy!" she replied, looking knowingly at William and Muyomi.

Molli was prepared to activate her Mindy's wings and rejoin the others that had just flown upwards past her, but something hard struck the side of her head, flooring her. Through the throbbing headache, a voice pounded against Molli's mind, scratching against it like nails on a blackboard with barely comprehensible words. The sight of her shattered cybernetic arm felt less critical than the pastel glint of dozens of familiar eyes that silently projected their malice through the shadows. Instantly, terror shot through Molli like a red-hot dagger.

A rain of aether tore out from the Enhanced's weapons, and Molli quickly dodged to the side and boosted back to her feet, trailed by its focused fire. Whatever its reason for making its presence known in the manner it had, be it to taunt Molli or to take revenge for being an unappetizing meal in its eyes, the Nepleslian's fear was tempered by the knowledge that if it was firing on her, it wasn't taking shots at Will or Muyomi.

"Yer home were a shithole!" Molli roared in response to the Enhanced, while soaring across the spire's wall and returning fire with the shotgun in her kalamari arms and the pistol in her hand. Molli knew it wouldn't do much, but she'd hoped to keep its attention away from her squad as she ascended to the rendevous point.
 
Inner Rooms

The whole situation had gone from a Charlie Foxtrot to absolutely FUBAR. They now had a second group attacking the Mishhu, but had also threatened to kill them. Plus whoever it was could speak to them through their jamming devices.

"What's the plan here, Hoshi?" He asked once they had teleported in. It was at that moment that the advanced Mishhuvurthyar invaded their minds, and Molli was struck by her own arm. Activating his forearm shields, he moved infront of the rest of the away team while Molli flitted about. William's cybernetic eye began glowing gold once more as he activated his god's eye system. He then began switching his suits vision through the visual light spectrums to get a bead on the Mishhu. As it fired at Molli, William unleashed a full auto burst from his shoulder mounted railguns. "Can you just die already!?" He roared as his railguns barked their reports.
 
Outside the Spire

Morgana emerged from cover to aid Aratani with a blast of fire from her SMG. Her assault drones converged on the battle pod accosting Hildr. Their apertures glowed brilliant white before releasing their charge at a number of follow up missile, cutting through the air with a twang and a pop with each missile intercepted, the sound of the explosions washing over them a moment later.

A silhouette appeared behind the battle pods which were quickly engulfed in fire from the craft knocking them out of the sky and into the side of the building where Morgana was firing from. The science officer fell on her back as the floor began crumbling under her feet. She quickly clambered back up.

“Captains given orders to fall back to her position.” Morgana said after Aratani called out. “Go first I’m right behind you!”

As Aratani began to flee the guns of the ship turned their attention onto them. The building beginning to evaporate in concrete shrapnel and puffs of dust. Morgana also turned to run, the ground cracking, falling away under her footsteps. The four drones came up behind her and clicked into hardpoints on her Mindy’s wings and seemed to pick her up, quickly accelerating her down the hallway, away from the corvette’s onslaught.

Inner Rooms

As the Mishhu made its presence known, Morgana once again dived for cover. The days combat had caught up to her and her body ached. She took a breath, clutching her SMG tightly as she steeled herself to continue. She felt like she was dry on adrenaline, but the officer did have something else. Once again, the drones launched from her wings with a hiss as she got to her feet, staggering as the weight of the creature’s psionic voice reverberated around her skull. The drones hovered just behind her shoulder and began spinning once more, the air hissing as they sped through it. She wasn’t interested in what it had to say; she remembered the fires from the Battle of Yamatai slowly encroaching on her high school dorm and running through blood drenched streets.

“Your home is against code, Squid.” Morgana said venomously.

There was a high-pitched whine as each time a drone reached the height of its rotation it fired a bolt of Aether energy directly at the creature’s face at a rate of four thousand eight hundred rounds per minute.
 
Outside the Spire

The battle music for Zelphon was playing at full volume. She was in the zone and blasting at everything that looked to be an enemy. In a dramatic, slo-mo take, she back flipped as a pod whizzed past her. As soon as her feet connected with the ground she was once more air born. Her arms were spread wide as she spun around putting lead down range. The light of the battle reflected brightly off her wings, blinding those who looked at her for too long. Her grip released from her weapon as she tossed it away from her self. She had caught sight of an incoming torpedo and positioned to intercept. A loud clang ran out as her boots connected with the torpedo. With a push she kick flipped off the side of the torpedo, aiming to direct it on a new course. Her hand reached skyward and was reunited with her weapon she had thrown moments ago. Landing in hand just in time for her to point the barrel of the weapon at a Mishhu and light it up like the Hanako tree.

Inner Rooms

Having had enough fun Zel followed orders and moved into cover. She blinked a few times when she started to hear voices in her head. She knew all too well the feeling of not having a home. It was only when she was found by the Belmonts she knew what that word even meant. She did not have long to think on this matter before Molli took a round. She quickly raised her weapon to return the favor. The sight of the big red foe came into her sight. She leaned into cover as she fired away at the monster.
 
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Inner Rooms

No sooner had Aiko landed her Kirie after rallying with the rest of Kaiyo's soldiers than the Enhanced Type's twin aether cannons blasted out their angry sustained beams, forcing the princess to thrust sideways and duck to avoid the enemy's wrath. Checking her ammunition as she deftly maneuvered her Thought Armor to safety, sliding leftward across the deck on the machine's feet while crouched with its left hand skimming just above the floor for balance, Aiko read her 50mm gauss ammunition as nearly depleted with only a handful of slugs remaining. Between her suit's aether gatling, forearm weapons, and mini missiles, she still had plenty of firepower left but knew it all amounted to little when it came to defeating one of these new generation monstrosities.

"He is angry we destroyed his ship," Aiko remarked, standing her Kirie up once their foe's sweep had passed over her. She re-activated her right forearm weapon's blade and the shield from her left, only deactivated a few minutes before when Hoshi had led them back up from the troglodytic concentration of Mishhu and NMX Neko they'd found at the spire's basement. "A shame he did not go down with it."

Indeed, Aiko recognized the beast before them as one of those Mishhuvurthyar they'd just encountered aboard the Ghullfrashirv earlier. The thing's stark red and mottled grey carapace disgusted her and drove the Ketsurui princess in her determination to defeat it. Even more than that, the fact that this Mishhu dared to lament any lost home — surely striving in every other moment of its life to take the same from those victimized by the Mishhuvurthyar — galled Ketsurui Aiko to her core. She'd fought far many Kuvexians at this point in her life, but already loathed the Mishhu to a far greater degree.

Silently, Aiko boosted her Kirie forward and straight toward the bloody red Enhanced that squirmed out from the shadows. With her armor's aether sword already flickering beside her and cutting a trailing blue glow, she dodged left and right through enemy and friendly fire alike. For now, knowing they would not defeat it by sheer firepower alone, her targets were the weaponry affixed to this leviathan Mishhuvurthyar's back. Her plan, should she make it, was to change her trajectory up from its path close to the ground and then leap up to slice in an attempt to disable its equipment.
 
“Hildr, can you hear me?” Muyomi asked, bent over the Mindy of the soldier as she applied packet of hemosynthetic nanomachines to the break in her armor as Aratani held her. "We're in a combat zone but I'm going to extract you. Hold on!" Usually meek, Muyomi's drive to perform her duties replaced her characteristic unease. At Muyomi's direction, Aratani pulled Hildr out of the open-air middle section and into one of the rooms in the building.

Getting pelted by the aether bolts from the scientist’s drones had taken chunks off of its crab-like mug that splattered to the floor of the room it had been hiding in. In the infrared, William could see it hanging back in the shadows with its tentacles squirming like a cat wagging its tail before pouncing a mouse. Except it was being pounced. Not keen to return Molli’s fire or attention, the Mishhu took hit after hit from her shotgun and pistol and let the beigey sand from within it pour out from the pockmarks she caused. It had instead become absorbed by the Kirie’s approach.

The word that screamed into their mind was so garbled and chaotic, scraped from the the depth of depravity and bittern scorn that if it had been more than one word, it would have been indecipherable. But because the Mishhu had only vociferated a single word, “You,” it was still barely comprehensible.

“We’ll focus our efforts on this guy while the Kaiyō takes care of the locals,” Hoshi said as William asked for a plan.

“From our vantage, it looks like the recently arrived Aingelians are firing on the Mishhuvurthyar,” the Kaiyō MEGAMI corrected.

“Well, that’s interesting,” Hoshi murmured, directing her comms to Aiko. “You hear that? The locals likely still don’t believe there’s an enemy here other than us by name alone. You know how long they’ve been terraforming their planet? A hundred years and I bet the Mishhu were trying to steal it out from under them, given they’re firing on the Mishhu now as if they're invaders. I’m going to find whatever channel they’re broadcasting on to jam our comms and patch you into it to explain the situation since I clearly didn’t earlier, Aiko-sama."

While Hoshi had been yabbering at her XO with her light armor tactical rifle raised while watching Aiko fling her Kirie at the weaponry on the squid. It had wailed its retched psychic scream into her mind, but words were not a match for an armor, no matter how hellish. The aether katana extension of the Kirie sliced into the weaponry on its back just as it turned, following her line of movement. Two dozen tentacles swarmed the air just behind her Kirie, grabbing on to its leg than hips, swallowing up the blue and the white of the panels in the dankish greys and muddy reds of the Mishhuvurthyar. Extending only a few feet from itself, it pierced Aiko’s mind with words only for her. It screamed as if already dying at her hand even as its sharp, jagged claws began sawing into whatever it could on the Thought Armor.

L̷͖͈̓͌̎̉͒͗͂̓̌̚͝Ą̵̺̰̻̻͔͇͓̈́̓͛̏̈́͌͋̄̑͆̏Ś̸͙̺̥̰̯͙̭͆̏͂T̷̡̧̬̲̭̦̘̩̊̉͛̓̓̌͌̕ O̵̧̗͕̹̼̦̗̮̱̝͆͊́́̈̿̋ͅF̵̜̜͎͉̯̜̓͂ Ḩ̵̛̘̤͙͔̝̫̖̻̦̞͙̺̅̿͘͝Ȩ̸̪̯̗̘̥̣̲̣̣͍͚͙̥̩́̀̈̆͑Ŗ̷͇̙̰̭̪̟̺̲̜̹͔̎̍́ͅ K̵̢̛̛͉̳̫͔̺̱̗̫̽̉́͋̾́͂͛I̸̺̺͎̰̥̜̯̼̮̰͖̜͂͆̿̈́̿̔N̸̡̧͕͙̼̻̳̦̪̞̯͎̦͓̏̒͌͑͒͊̾͌̑̅̕͝ͅ B̶̨̛̺̤̱̾̀́̋̔̆̏̎͘͘U̴̡̢̱̳̳͓̗͔̮̔͜͜͜T̷̡̧̬̲̭̦̘̩̊̉͛̓̓̌͌̕ F̵̜̜͎͉̯̜̓͂I̸̺̺͎̰̥̜̯̼̮̰͖̜͂͆̿̈́̿̔Ŗ̷͇̙̰̭̪̟̺̲̜̹͔̎̍́ͅŚ̸͙̺̥̰̯͙̭͆̏͂T̷̡̧̬̲̭̦̘̩̊̉͛̓̓̌͌̕ T̷̡̧̬̲̭̦̘̩̊̉͛̓̓̌͌̕O̵̧̗͕̹̼̦̗̮̱̝͆͊́́̈̿̋ͅ K̵̢̛̛͉̳̫͔̺̱̗̫̽̉́͋̾́͂͛I̸̺̺͎̰̥̜̯̼̮̰͖̜͂͆̿̈́̿̔L̷͖͈̓͌̎̉͒͗͂̓̌̚͝L̷͖͈̓͌̎̉͒͗͂̓̌̚͝ O̵̧̗͕̹̼̦̗̮̱̝͆͊́́̈̿̋ͅU̴̡̢̱̳̳͓̗͔̮̔͜͜͜Ŗ̷͇̙̰̭̪̟̺̲̜̹͔̎̍́ͅŚ̸͙̺̥̰̯͙̭͆̏͂

A̴̼͊r̶͔̘̍e̶͍͓͐̅n̵̨̩̒͠’̶͚͑͛ț̶̓ ̵̻̽̍ŷ̸̭ͅŏ̷̈ͅu̵̡̔͠ ̷̨̔̑a̶̦͋b̶̰̤͋l̷̙̓ȩ̶͠ ̸̩̊͌͜t̶̙̃o̵̮̺͊͠ ̴̺́͜ḷ̶̝̈́i̷̺̥̊v̷̠͛͝ě̷͈̌ ̶̠̦͛ẉ̴͇͗͐ḯ̶͙̑t̶̺̬͊h̷̼̲̓o̵̩̎̂ư̶̮̞̊ṯ̶̊̇ ̷͖̹̈́t̵͙̐̎a̴̩͈͋k̵͙̀̒i̴̱̾n̵̤̊̋g̵̝͐͝ ̷̮̎Õ̵̢͉Û̷̡͚̕R̵̠͚͝S̴͉̘̍?̴͕͖͐̅!̸̼͊̐

There wasn’t a second between Hoshi seeing its attention stay on Aiko and the bluish flash of the captain’s LATR discharging a round, hitting the Mishhu just as he turned. It wasn’t enough to do more than stop another half dozen tentacles from exploding out towards her.

“Full firing force!!” Hoshi didn’t hold back as she called into her team communications. Momentarily, she looked up, seeing the light peeking in from above. “Kaiyō—Boss, can you move to above our position?”
 
Aiko could feel the aether blade extended out from her Kire's forearm projector slice through the metal and machinery of this Enhanced Mishhuvurthyar beast's weaponry as she rocketed over its mass. The Immersion System that allowed her full control over the Thought Armor's body as if it were her own sent immediate feedback straight into the princess' mind. And just as it provided Aiko with the satisfaction of a clean strike, it told her when the enemy stuck back with its vile intentions.

Where one moment Aiko's Kirie had been jamming through the air, the next she felt the Enhanced Mishhu's tentacle swarm wrap around her armor's legs and body. It was a jolting halt that the Nekolvakyrja warrior felt even within the insulated safety of her pilot pod just as much as she felt it through the Immersion System's somatic connections to her digitized Nekovalkyrja brain. Angrily, Aiko swiped her right forearm weapon's aether blade down past her power armor's feet, aiming to sever the fiendish grasp that reached out to stop her.

When Aiko could feel that her energy sword had slashed through the Enhanced Type's tentacles, she held her strike right in the center of its bulky arm for a split second. The burning whitish-blue of her Kirie's aether blade remained stationary in that spot, searing her foe's appendage even as its grotesque Mishhuvruthyar physiology sent out sandy veins of regenerative matter in an attempt to keep its body whole.

"Clearly," Aiko spat back in reply to her captain, not out of any malice but with some clear frustration as the difficulty of escaping a Mishhuvurthyar's hold intersected with the fact that Hoshi's diplomacy with the Aingelians didn't make the situation obvious.

Once free from the Enhanced Type's grip, Aiko's Kirie careened toward the ground and against the darkened floor behind where the red-shelled Enhanced Type had just emerged, sliding along the deck in a flurry of sparks until she collided with a wall somewhere in the darkness. Without hesitation, the princess' big power armor stood up. She grasped at the thick tentacle that still writhed about the Thought Armor's legs and hips in a futile attempt to stop her and pulled it off.

"Yamatai will take all you have ever known, Mishhuvurthyar, for it is ours to own," Aiko taunted in reply to her nemesis' psychic declaration, clutching the severed Enhanced Type's tentacle in her Kirie's right gauntlet. The sandy regenerative fluid spat out from the appendage's wounded flesh in vain, entirely unable to survive without its host body to sustain it. "Your kind is naught more than a failed experiment to be forgotten in the shadow of dying stars."
 
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