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The Astra Veda - Prologue [ The Astra Conference ]

Characters
Here
Lore
Here
Recon
Location:
??? (Warehouse)
Interaction:
Sora, Elvira
Tags:
Recon's shoulders slackened, arching slightly backward as he let out a long, loud sigh. The tension had left his body, for now, though the adrenaline was still wreaking havoc on his mind for the time being. "...Alright. Fine. That's fine," he half-muttered, shaking his head out a moment more as he looked around the room properly this time. It was definitely a safehouse, which meant, at the very least, that if anything did go wrong--though it seemed less likely with each passing moment--there wouldn't be anyone else to worry about, at least for the time being. A long breath, coupled with a quiet "ah, shit," escaped him as he looked back to the unfamiliar "officer." "I"m assuming you were down at Tesseract's little party," he eventually continued, his breathing steadying as the cocktail of nausea and energy left his body. "How did that go?" His sarcasm poked through just over the top of his continued recovery, the man finally leveling out with with a cough. He raised the drone, pulling the data recorder free from the contraption as he gave it a look-over. It was quite immaculate in its construction--even something that would be seen by very few seemed to carry a bit of aesthetic pleasure, if Tesseract was involved. As much as Recon would have wanted to extract the data on-site, some things simply couldn't be helped. The doctor and his assistants would find out that the item was missing eventually, assuming they didn't already know. He set the item down, unslinging his bag from over his shoulder directly afterward, the sound of metal shifting against metal sounding quietly in the expansive warehouse. He pulled free what appeared to be some sort of heavily-reconfigured computer; a somewhat modern base, yet with several series of dated-looking additions tacked onto the external frame. He paused for a moment as he looked toward the bag a second time; the tablet that he was given was there among the other belongings, and after a brief moment of consideration, he pulled that free as well. A little assurance and data-mining would help set his nerves straight. Two cables were produced shortly afterward; one went from the odd computer to the tablet, and the other went to the black box--both remaining unplugged for the time being. While his ad-hoc device booted, he pulled one more item from his bag, a bundle-like sphere of what appeared to be metal plates. He set it atop the black box, turning back to his computer as the item unfolded around the data recorder, entirely covering it in a black geodesic dome of sorts. Reaching to the back of his own tech, he unplugged some sort of antenna unit from the main mass, finally seeming satisfied as he began typing away. "...So where are we now, why were we in such a rush to get out, and what's the plan going forward?" he asked, physically focused on his task despite the questioning. He plugged the tablet in first, running checks for tracking programs or any other out-of-place elements, before pulling it free and plugging in the black box. He was more worried about the tablet at that stage than the recorder; between the scrambling dome and the unplugged antenna, the system should have been properly isolated. Even so, it didn't hurt to double-check. As soon as the results came back green, Recon began digging into whatever might have been there to uncover. He glanced up at the other two as the program began to run, shrugging at Sora in particular as he gestured toward the little setup he had made for himself. Perhaps this was partially the proof he offered towards truly being who Elvira said he was.
 
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Aretta Ward | Historia
Location:

Rainbow Order Backstage ==> Seat of the Crown Plaza
Interaction:

Nicky; Open

Action; Mood:

Running away
Alarmed;


A scream in the distance. A thunderous applause in the distance. Murmurs and shouts in the distance. In her state of drowziness, everything felt so distant. Although she was awake, Aretta stayed still. The last thing she remembered was the distinct smell of drugs forced against her mouth by Drix, before she preserved herself out of harm. Preservation froze her state of being completely. In a sense, she became an inanimate object. She had no memory of her experience as an inanimate object, but it also stopped her body from reacting to outside stimuli.

It was fortunate she spent four whole years learning the limit of her ability.

A cough. Aretta slowly peeled her eyes open. She was lying down on concrete floor. From her peripheral vision, she could see a figure sitting nearby on a folding chair. A guard. She didn't know why Drix had captured her, but it couldn't be anything good. She had to escape. And to did so, she had to stay calm. Adjust her breathing pace. Take longer breath. Stop involuntary muscle twitch. Keep her mind sharp. She only had one chance.

The guard was wearing an earpiece. Meaning he was a part of the crew, and he could alert anyone at the moment she escaped. One chance.

She heard a door flung open.

"Oi, Nicky!"

"Not my job anymore I got order from the high up!"

"Fuck you!"


She heard a door slammed close.

Now! Aretta stood to a crouch and leapt toward Nicky. Just one touch before he comprehend what had happened. Nicky tore his eyes away from the door. As he turned his eyes back to his captive, his eyes widened... and he froze.

"Thank goodness..."
Aretta let out a sigh. Her elbows were bruised and her knee let out a bit of blood, but at least she could run. She quickly stood up and swiped her belongings sprawled over a second folding chair. She needed to hurry before Nicky alerted anyone. Her ice cream cups was still there in her bag, but it was the last thing in her mind. Aretta opened the door slightly and peeked outside. She was still backstage. It would be a gamble, but she only had one way to escape.

"Here goes nothing."

She steeled herself before she hung the special backstage pass over her neck once more. Then she walked out.

Back when she wanted to be invisible in the crowd in order not to be forced to make a speech, Aretta had learned there was one important point to be part of the crowd: look like you belong. She looked about curiously, walking at a leisurely pace. Sometimes stopping to look at an operator at work or running forward to see a performance being rehearsed. Though her heart was racing, she took the time to smile and ask questions to crew. After she was sure she was invisible, she slipped out with a group of others with backstage pass. The security didn't notice her.

Once she was outside, she started to run. Rainbow Light was not as kind as they showed up to be. Rainbow Light was just another cult. She needed to tell someone. Someone...

Aretta stopped at her track.

Who could she tell? She had no evidence, and the public image of Rainbow Light was too benevolent for it to be destroyed by rumours. It was at times like this she wished she was influental enough to make a difference.

...influence?

Aretta whipped out her phone and furiously jabbed a series of numbers in as she ran toward the conference hall. Astra Conference was the largest event of the years, where everyone important would attend. Public figures, movie stars, celebrities, artists, and the media. If the media was present, she could not be not around!

"Hello? Marielle? There's something I need to tell you."
 

June Verles

Nothing to see here, carry on.
Kirk | Biological Vampire
Location:
Hovercraft
Interaction:
Jakob and everyone else who wants to jump in the conversation.
Kirk was sitting legs crossed on his chair, seemingly unimpressed with being escorted by armed guards in a big flying metal box. His mood probably was triggered by the soiling of his coat, keeping clean was already hard enough in the lower levels. How the hell would he be able to clean off blood that already dried off cotton! "..." He sighed, there's was no point to getting angry. He would just have to burn it and use one of the many replacements that he has stocked for situations such as these, after all when the nearest clothing retailer is 50 floors away from where you live you better prepare in advance. After spending all the allocated time he had in a day to get annoyed by a trivial thing he turned his attention towards Jakob who attempted to start a conversation. It would be rude not to oblige; "You can get home with me if you want, I got a 2 person ticket to Ayodhya."as he took out a pink wallet and took out his ticket to prove the existance of the ticket "Also, I thought this would be a good time to tell you, a bat attacked you while you were unconscious and left two bite marks on your neck." as he gestured its location " If you want I can check for any diseases but you have to come with me to my clinic, and I live on level 7.".
 
Pluto & The Woman
Location:
Seat of the Crown Plaza
Interaction:
Aretta; Open
When Pluto had signed up to go to the Astra conference, she expected a calm evening. Kalix and her were going to walk around and meet others as she tried to forget the recent crime she’d committed. As according to absolutely no part of her plan, this has been one hell of a chaotic occasion. It all started when she had spent the beginning looking around for Kalix’s familiar voice, which was nowhere to be found. The noise of the crowd and the fuzziness it caused in her senses made her feel as though she were alone, and it stressed her out. Nonetheless, she wandered around, attempting to shut out the large amounts of noise, and attempting to gain some clarity in her surroundings. She’d actually gotten pretty close to tolerating being near the crowd until there was an explosion of noise… As well as an actual explosion. She didn’t see or know that it was caused by the Tesseract Medical Corporation’s demonstration going wrong, she knew only that she didn’t want to be there. She weaved through people to get away from the source of the boom, trying to stay as calm as possible, phasing slightly into the crowd as she did so, which caused her vision to haze out again. After a while, she didn’t even know where she was anymore, and in her moment of true blindness, she ran into someone. “S-sorry-” after the collision she felt the motion of a small object flying over her, presumably belonging to the individual she’d just ran into. She instinctively reached out to where it was starting to fall, just barely catching a thin, metallic and glass object. “Ah, you dropped this, I’m sorry, I’m blind and I didn’t see you, wh-where-” Her senses had picked up on the movement of the object flying over her head easily, but finding a person in a crowd simply wasn’t in her repertoire. She ultimately decided on just holding it out in front of her, near where she had crashed into that someone. “Sorry again!” “It’s alright.” A woman’s voice cut in. A hand grabbed the offered glasses and she tried to move away, as if in a big hurry. “Ah!” A cry of pain. “Wh-what’s wrong?” She kept trying to sense the woman, giving the appearance of her looking around. No dice. She was getting more and more frantic as she had no clue what to do. “I think I sprained my ankle… I don’t want to be a trouble, but can you help me reach the conference hall VIP Room now?” Her voice sounded urgent. “Of course!” After enough looking she was finally able to get a blurry grasp of the person near her, and she offered a hand. Having a defined way to make the situation better made her much more comfortable, and she didn’t have anything else to do anyway. She forgot, in those moments, that her hand was inhumanly cold. But the woman said nothing of it. She gripped Pluto’s hand tighter. “Let's go.”
 
The Beginning of the End [Part I]
Beginning of the End [Part I]
Location:
Order of the Rainbow Light Stage
Interaction:
Real, Drix
Tags:
Everyone
The sole other occupant of the room, located within the Order of the Rainbow Light’s temporary compound, was seated before a vanity and mirror, her back turned to Real as he stepped in. She was humming a soft, melodic tune that almost seemed to vibrate the air in harmony with its rhythm. Her hands fiddled with a brush that ran through her dark blue hair, continuing to straighten it out. From the way her locks seemed to bloom cutely outwards, she must have been preparing herself for some time. “Real~! You’re here!” she greeted excitedly, her eyes brightening in the reflection of the mirror as the latter approached. “I’m al~most ready…just one minute…cha!” She smiled, satisfied with her handiwork. Her hands carefully set the brush down as she stood up. No, that wasn’t quite right. It would be better to say that she floated. Her feet dangled off the floor by a few centimeters as she turned in mid-air, as if pulled by some invisible force. That same force then sent her across the room towards Real, her hands waving out with delight. “How do I look? Is this cute enough?” she asked, and spun around like a top in the air. The motion caused her skirt to twirl like a cascading wave, and she giggled. Suffice to say, neither of the two occupants of the room were surprised that she was levitating. “Absolutely divine, I must say myself,” Real complimented her look before he walked over to the mirror, smoothing over the wrinkles on his shirt. “Of course, not to imply you are not as cute normally, Ophelia." The girl’s, Ophelia’s, cheerful smile deepened, and she struck a victory pose. Then a thought came to her. “By the way, is Drix here yet?” she mused, touching a finger to the tip of her lips. “I was hoping we could all go together, cha! Don’t want to miss the main event after all~!” “I assume he would be around handing out the Rainbow Light Guidance Book he brought here earlier this morning.” He took out a comb and started immaculately brushing his hair. Granted, the blessing of the rainbow light ensured his look would always be splendid, but perfection was a standard he yearned for. “You’re still trying to give those things out? That’s so lame!” Ophelia pouted with mock consternation. “You followers of the Light Scripture never give up on that scam, huh? Well, I guess it can’t be helped. You’re in charge of gathering up all the sheep after all~” Then she made a simple gesture, and a small box lifted into the air at her command. It was a sparsely decorated container, made of plain wood and velvet, yet that choice in material was a sign of luxury in of itself. After all, trees were rarely seen in the lower levels. They were yet another amenity only available to the residents of Nirvana. Ophelia then made a show of checking her wrist. There was no watch there, but she touched it as if there was. “Ah, look at the time~ I hope that Drix’ll arrive soon.” “Don’t worry, my dear, I’m already here,” a voice chose this moment to interject. It carried the distinctive baritones of its owner, Drix, standing outside the doorway. “I’m sorry for arriving late, I was spreading the good word of the Rainbow Light as well as collecting a new possible acolyte for our cause, once she has been properly… taken care of,” Drix added, raising his hands up as he preached the good word of the Rainbow Light. It was clear that he believed full heartily in his words. Ophelia’s form bounded across the room and toward the door, the wooden box trailing behind her like a loyal servant. “You’re late!” she teased, twisting around Drix’s form and into the hallway. “Come on, if we don’t get a move on then we’re going to be late too. I don’t want to miss this!” Now united, Ophelia gleefully led their trio outside the inner structure of the Rainbow Light’s stage. As they stepped forth into the night, her bubbly smile grew into a near manic grin. The atmosphere around them grew colder, as if the night itself was afraid. “It’s almost time~”
 
The Beginning of the End [Part II]
Beginning of the End [Part II]
Location:
Seat of the Crown Conference Hall
Interaction:
Everyone at the Main Event
Tags:
Everyone
The mood at the Astra Conference was as lively as any holiday celebration. Nearly thirty thousand people were gathered here today, a combination of Astras and non-Astras alike. The latter was mostly composed of certified researchers and the media, intent on reporting the events of this revolutionary conference to the city at large. “Welcome to ACNN, the Arcadian News Network,” a polished voice said. It belonged to a dark-haired woman dressed in professional attire with a million dollar smile on her face. “This is Marielle Hunt, coming to you live from the Seat of the Crown Plaza in Royal Sector, Central. I am here reporting all the freshest and most exciting news of this truly historical occasion—the very first Astra Conference.” Her easy charisma radiated through the holocamera’s lenses, as captivating and natural as the rising sun. Even as she continued explaining the events of the day, including a brief mention of an accident at Tesseract Medical, her charm never faded once. It was obvious from a glance that Marielle Hunt knew how to work a camera and, more importantly, knew how to capture her audience’s attention. “…Regretfully, Ayodhya 1 was unavailable for comment at the scene,” she continued with a playful look, leading up to her next quip. “As usual, her fans got to her before we could.” There was something different about the way Marielle casually addressed Ayodhya 1. It was familiar, like the way someone would refer to a long time friend. Indeed, this was because Marielle had worked in Ayodhya prior to joined ACNN, and had the pleasure of being the regular reporter in contact with Maia during her tenure there. The smile on her face as she recalled her friend was genuine; Maia really did just leave that sort of impression. “In just a few moments, we’ll be streaming the ensuing events live. Don’t miss the ACNN exclusive interviews with select Astras on their experience working with the Government during the intermission at the half hour mark. Mark, over to you,” she concluded. Marielle waited a few moments for the holofeed to switch over before she released the tension in her shoulders. Her smile dropped to a neutral expression, and her tired eyes lost a hint of their luster. “Coffee please,” she called out, and immediately snatched it from the hands of the intern who had handed it to her. Her voracious need compelled her to down the cup in just a few gulps, and some life returned to her expression. “Thanks,” she said, returning the cup and wiping her mouth with a napkin. “So, what’s next?” “Nothing much,” replied her camera man. He was sprawled on one of the many luxurious couches within the VIP lounge provided to media staff. “Mark will be taking care of live coverage. All we have to do is sit back and watch.” “And take notes, you lazy nut,” Marielle chided, yet despite her harsh words her tone lacked edge. She slid into the seat beside him, eyes gazing out from the open balcony of the lounge. From their elevated position, they could see the whole stage of the main conference hall in all its magnificent glory. Its scale was comparable to a grand vista, stretching out to the far depths beyond her position. Hundreds of thousands of seats rose in layered rings around a central platform at the very center. Said stage was nearly half a mile in length yet, when compared to the vastness of the space around it, the platform seemed like a tiny patch within an expansive field. Many guests here would strain their eyes trying to see the platform, and so the conference hall was equipped with gigantic holographic displays spread out at regular intervals. As the Seat of the Crown, everything was upgraded to be state of the art. Fortunately, however, the VIP booth Marielle sat in was in much closer proximity to the center than the outer rings. She could see the stage itself with her own eyes, and hear the rumbling of excited chatter from the masses down below. Since the Astra Conference was a controversial event, there were not as many people here as on major holidays like Diwali, and so the world did not shake as it did when five hundred thousand partygoers were gathered together. Nonetheless, the vibrations of their cheers resounded through her bones. Even at less than ten percent capacity, the number of people at this conference was difficult for the human mind to comprehend. “Look, I think that’s the host. The event must be about to start,” she observed, watching a man in a suit stride onto the stage. Her hands quickly pulled her phone out from her pocket, prepared to take notes. As a reporter, it was her duty to write down all the relevant news that came up. The man spoke, and his voice was captured and echoed throughout the vast hall, audible even over the whispers of the crowds. “Welcome, to the Astra Conference!” he announced proudly. “I am your host, Ali, and today is a historical moment! We at the Astra Association have a special announcement we would like to make before we begin tonight’s events. That is—” The crowd hushed silent. Marielle watched intently, waiting for the man to continue. “What’s wrong with him?” she impatiently grumbled to her companion, a disapproving expression on her face. “He’s taking way too long. What’s going…” Her words trailed off because there was a sudden appearance on the stage that left her unable to continue. She inhaled sharply, her complaints caught in her throat.
 
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The Beginning of the End [Part III]
Beginning of the End [Part III]
Location:
Seat of the Crown Conference Hall
Interaction:
Everyone at the Main Event
Tags:
Everyone
There were the sounds of two sets of footsteps upon the metal platform. A triumvirate moved forward, but its final member did not touch the floor at all; she simply glided through the air. Her outfit and appearance could both be considered rather cute, yet Marielle’s attention was drawn to the two companions by that woman’s side. The auras they radiated could not be easily described. It felt like an invisible pair of hands had simultaneously gripped her heart and strangled her throat, leaving her frozen and helpless. One, striding forth, wore a black cloak and a monstrous mask. Its many tentacles resembled the horrifying visage of a Kraken. His approach struck a deep alarm within the back of her mind—something primal. Something fearful. It felt like a large predator was drawing closer to her, and there was nowhere she could run. Yet even that sensation could not compare to the sheer, rolling waves of coldness that radiated from the other. He was dressed in brilliant gold plated armor, donned over a luxurious set of green robes. The skin underneath was made out of pure darkness, and points of cold blue light shimmered within those depths. There was a grin on its face that spoke of utter disregard. Marielle had the sudden, thoroughly unpleasant feeling that she was nothing more than an insect. Her life paled so thoroughly, so immensely, that it could be tossed aside and stepped over without a thought. A chill rolled through her spine. Her palms grew clammy with cold sweat. What was this oppressive feeling? It almost felt like a physical pressure was pushing down upon her. Marielle’s wide eyes dared to peel away from the forms of these terrifying beings, glancing towards her side. Her cameraman and the other media workers were all in similar states of paralysis, their gaze held captivated on the stage before them. The hall was filled with such utter silence that the light, foreboding footsteps of the new arrivals echoed loudly. Nobody spoke; nobody moved. Perhaps it might be better to say that nobody could move—Astra or not, it did not matter. There came a point when the abyss could swallow even gods, and that darkness stepped forth before her. Her mind dimly registered a rumbling vibration in her hand. Her fingers were still clutching her phone so tightly that her knuckles turned white. The name of the caller, Aretta, continued to flash yet Marielle barely noticed it. Her attention was suddenly drawn to the center of the trio. "Ahem,” came the voice of the woman at the front. She had a pleasant, cheerful smile on her face, as if she had never noticed the inhuman pressure emanating around her. Her fingers dexterously pried the microphone off of the paralyzed host’s clothing and attached it to her own. “Hello, Trinity~! I am Ophelia. I’m sorry to interrupt. I just had something important I wanted to say…” Marielle could not bring herself to tear her eyes away, but that decision was taken away from her. Ophelia’s arms spread wide. “First of all…「 lower you heads 」,” she commanded. Against her own will, Marielle complied. Her heart raced as her head was forcibly lowered towards the floor, as if pushed down by a strong hand. There was a loud, synchronous rush of wind when thirty thousand people simultaneously followed suit. “Thank you~ Now, let us start with a prayer. Praise be to the gods for offering us this moment of salvation…” There was a flash of light, and Marielle heard a chord within herself. It resonated in and throughout her body, seeming to rise up from her soul. She felt more than saw that holy light which drew her closer, slowly consuming her mind. Ophelia continued, and the words were like music to Marielle’s ears. In just a few moments, the short prayer reached its conclusion and Marielle’s sanity was returned to her. What just happened?!, she thought, her mind racing. The drum of her heartbeat ran loudly in her ears. She was terrified. For that brief moment, all of Marielle’s thoughts, feelings, and desires were utterly sublimated by the captivating light. It was as if her mind was not her own. She had never felt more helpless in her life. “…Ah, let’s finish it there. Short and sweet is just right~ 「 You may raise your heads 」 Ophelia was all smiles. The white, upside-down triangle on her forehead glowed like a star in the night sky. She floated higher into the air. “You must be wondering. Who are we?” Her hair began rising, rolling with power as if a strong wind had blown through it. “Your ignorance is understandable. We are the Shrauta—the faithful to the true gods. We have come to offer you a warning~” For the first time, Ophelia’s lips settled into a thin smile as she gestured to her companion with the Kraken-like mask. The man stepped forward, and his voice pounded into Marielle like a hammer. “Trinity…For many years, the gods have slept,” he began, “And in that time, what have we done? We have desecrated our planet; the domain they entrusted to us to care for in their absence. We have built a monstrosity of metal and subjugated the lower class of our people.” The man raised his palm into the air like a priest. “And then we have allowed false religions and lies to roam free in this world. The Faith has been twisted and turned; now all you worship is false idols and fabrications. To make matters worse…” The man’s fingers clenched into a fist. “We have installed a heretic on the throne!” He sighed. “Now the Awakening has come, and the gods are displeased,” he continued. “You see, the gods intend to end this pitiful world—this poor excuse of a city. But it is still not too late. You can still be saved. Discard your false beliefs and pledge loyalty to the Great Old Ones, and you will be granted a place in the new world.” Marielle’s head spun. Great Old Ones? What was he rambling about? And that heretic…did he mean the Empress? The answers to her questions did not arrive, and the masked man stepped back after his conclusion. There was a sound of clapping that seemed out of place in the silence. “Wonderful~” Ophelia said. “The High Priest is correct. But I am sure some of you are unconvinced.” There was a crash, and the sound of breaking glass. All of a sudden, several dozen people burst into the conference hall, guns trained on their targets. Don’t do it, Marielle thought helplessly. You can’t win. “MCDS! Hands up in the ai-” The man’s words were caught in his throat. That was because he was lifted into the air himself, his fingers desperately clawing at his throat. He was choking. “The Old Ones will not tolerate disobedience,” Ophelia continued without missing a beat, one hand raised into the air. All the Ministry officers rose in tandem with that motion, pulled towards her by an invisible force. They were held suspended in the air, completely silent except for their dying flails.
“We will show you what happens to naughty children~ Lightbearer, if you would please?" The man in brilliant golden armor stepped forth, and produced an object from a small wooden box. Marielle’s eyes widened. It was a cube of indescribable beauty. Its depths seemed near infinite, and even from this distance, it glowed more alluringly than any other light. A hum seemed to rise within her as she looked upon it. Suddenly, Marielle had the terrifying realization that this cube was the source of the chords which had nearly taken over her mind. “We of the Light Scripture are devoted to preserving this sacred relic, the First Light,” the armored man said. His sophisticated, silky smooth voice sent shivers down Marielle’s spine. The blue outlines of a sinister smile appeared underneath his helmet. “Allow me to show you its beauty.” He opened it, and the world went white. Marielle screamed silently as the purity of it was seared into her mind like a hot iron. Then it was gone, and all that was left of the disintegrated Ministry officers were wisps of white energy in the air. These trails of white swirled together and fell into the depths of the cube before the armored man, the Lightbearer, shut it closed. “Now do you see?” Ophelia’s voice rang loudly. “Do you see? Do you see?” She repeated her words with mad delight. With a simple gesture, the pressure upon Marielle’s body suddenly lifted. Around her were the sudden gasps of others freed from their paralysis, breathing rapidly as if these breaths were the last few they would ever have. Still, no one moved. No one dared make a sound, lest they catch the attention of the terrifying entity before them. “Do you see?” Ophelia repeated once more, smiling as she pressed her palms to her cheeks. To Marielle, it seemed as if the etches of Ophelia’s sanity began to peel away, revealing the madness underneath. “This way is the best way, isn’t it. Don’t you think? Why don’t you kneel for the Old Ones to show you understand?” There was a stunned silence within the crowd, and then a surge of motion. As one, thirty thousand people fell to their knees in terror, including Marielle. She bowed her head low, praying to whatever deities were out there. Vishnu, Krishna, Yahweh, Buddha, she didn’t care. Please, please, just let me live… The Ministry was defeated with barely a thought. Even Astras were helpless to resist against Ophelia’s power. What hope did they have? All they could do was bow and submit, and hope they would be spared.
A
GM Note: This pause is primarily intended to give space for reactions. Due to your characters being unable to reach the conference hall in time or being overwhelmed by their power, you may not interact directly with the Shrauta or Marielle at this point in time. However, other characters are fair game.
 
The Beginning of the End [Intermission]
Beginning of the End [Intermission]
Location:
Central
Interaction:
Everyone
Tags:
Everyone
Music and Tags
Please try reading this post with music!

We draw our strength from the very despair in which we have been forced to live. We shall endure. - Cesar Chavez

@Seraph Darkfire @Graystone713 @Damafaud @_Line 213 @dwif @ChazGhost @Scaver @Epiphany @WishlessSatellite @BlightGiver @June Verles @Dreawin @Spellsword_Kirov @Lucem Tenebris

“Simply put, some very dangerous individuals will be present at the conference tonight,” Elvira explained. “Our mission was to avoid contact while acquiring information on their activities. It was important that we left early—I was not confident we could avoid detection otherwise.” She swept her hand humbly, yet hearing such an admission coming from Elvira of all people was disturbing. “We know them as the Shrauta. They are a cult of fanatics believing in gods they call the Great Old Ones. As of yet, we have little evidence as to the existence of these gods, but we believe they are related to Astra mythology.” Sora snorted. “You mean the old legends? I thought we dismissed that hypothesis earlier.” Elvira’s lips turned into a small smile. “Indeed, we still have no basis for the claim. Yet they’ve been quiet for the last century or so until the Awakening. I believe that is no coincidence.” Hey eyes turned towards Remi. “Perhaps observing from a distance will help,” she said, and materialized her holoprojector from thin air. She set it down on the floor and allowed it to light up the darkness. Sora crossed her arms, eyes narrowed as she leaned against a nearby crate. “Welcome to ACNN, the Arcadian News Network…” it began.
A
“This is Bravo team,” a voice said. It seemed off, as if the source was not really present. “We have acquired the targets. Moving in now. Over.” “Careful, Bravo,” Captain Vagabond cautioned. “We still aren’t sure what their abilities are. Stay at a distance, and keep on your toes.” The sound of shuffling armor echoed from the speakers. “Understood. We’ll be careful, Captain.” Rissa watched the proceedings from a distance. She was still seated besides Seven and Maia, her hands holding a datapad. “Why is it that none of the Astras are doing anything? There’s thousands of them. Couldn’t they just overwhelm those lunatics?” she muttered, her eyes transfixed on the datapad’s screen. Soon after takeoff, Rissa had decided to tune in to the main event of the conference remotely. Even when the cultists, the Shrauta, had suddenly broken in, the automated recording systems still remained active. Streams all across Trinity were broadcasting the stunning series of events that ensued. “Not all of them are trained, Rissa,” Seven calmly explained. “Absent of their powers, they are still normal people. It’s not as if it is easy to stand up and fight. Besides…” There was a troubled look on her face as her eyes narrowed on the screen. “That girl, Ophelia…she is terrifyingly powerful. Even more than Valta was.” Rissa was skeptical. “Is she? She just seems nutty to me. So what if she can float?” “That’s not all,” Seven said, shaking her head. “Did you notice? Nobody could move until Ophelia allowed it. The implications of that are dire. Astra powers are normally unable to directly affect other individuals—particularly other Astras. Our own powers naturally resists such effects.” She gestured towards the screen, looking at Maia as well when she did. “The fact that she can exert a telekinetic hold over tens of thousands of people, including Astras, suggests an overwhelming disparity in their respective abilities. Do you understand now?” “What?! That’s insane…” Rissa shook her head. “In that case, we should be down there, right? We have to put a stop to them.” Seven shook with her head with stern refusal. “Absolutely not. You were just injured, and are in no shape to fight. Neither are we certain about the side effects of the incident at Tesseract on Maia’s abilities. And even if we were all to go together, our chances of victory are low. Besides, it is my duty—and Maia’s—to protect you at all costs,” she said. There was a cold calculus in her hard words; the implicit notion that she would rather leave behind all those people than risk Rissa’s life. “Our best chance is to leave it to the Ministry’s ambush, and hope that catches them by surprise.” Rissa felt sick. She looked down, clenching her fists tightly. “Is that so?” —then there was a pounding of metal on metal. Rissa looked up, and saw Captain Vagabond at the communications console across the room. His fist had struck the table. “Bravo team? Bravo team, report!” There was the sound of a faint gurgle. The internal cameras from within the Ministry officers helmets were filled with a blinding light, as well as the datapad on her screen. The officers feeds suddenly cut out, and Vagabond’s head tipped low. “Damnit…” Rissa clenched her teeth as she looked upon the screen, at the irritatingly cheerful girl on it. “Someone has to stand up to them,” she said quietly.
V
The same scene played out across the city. Hundreds of displays could be seen outside windows of the hovercars, tuned in to the Astra Conference. Looking down, the masses of people in the streets had come to a stop at once. They looked, and they pointed. Their hands covered their mouths with that onset of brilliant light that marked the end of the Ministry strike team. The Enforcers in the vehicle leaned to watch through the window. Their hands were clenched, their body language disbelieving. The mood in the vehicle had turned dark. “I can’t believe it,” one muttered, shaking his head. “There’s no way. No way. Gone, just like that...impossible.” His voice was filled with despair, drained of hope. It was a heartbreaking sight when a composed professional could no longer hold himself together. His head hung low.
A
GM Note: This pause is primarily intended to give space for reactions. Due to your characters being unable to reach the conference hall in time or being overwhelmed by their power, you may not interact directly with the Shrauta or Marielle at this point in time. However, other characters are fair game.
 

June Verles

Nothing to see here, carry on.
Kirk | Biological Vampire
Location:
Astra Hovercraft
Interaction:
Everyone in the hovercraft.
It seemed like nobody was up to converse, while a bit rude it didn't really matter to Kirk. He breathed in and let out a sigh as he sunk in a cushion of the seat in an attempt to get some shut-eye. The sound of the hovercraft made it somewhat difficult but he learned to get any shut-eye he could in university and soon everything was blank. However, for some reason, he couldn't fully grasp the hand of the Sandman, it's as if there was some presence keeping him from going to sleep... Kirk just wasn't able to distinguish if this was stress or his instinct but he couldn't help but feel endangered by this presence. He'd already felt this way when he was fighting Valta previously but his immediate animalistic response made him answer the call by fighting back, this time it was different. The presence had a somewhat childish feel to it as if Kirk's existence was nothing but a plaything. So overwhelming it was, there smiling at him, almost making fun of him as it protruded his inner sanctum and Kirk could nothing to stop it... The only appropriate response was flight, he immediately came back to life and jumped to the roof grabbing on to it, hissing and baring his fangs as would an endangered beast. "..." He sighed jumping back down and sitting back on his chair, this time resting his knees clearly more tense than before. "I must not be the only one who felt that?"
 

ChazGhost

The Phantom Hexblade
Maxwell
Location:
Astra Hovercraft
Interaction:
Everyone in the Hovercraft
Maxwell wasn't the happiest with being arrested but as said before when guns are involved it's best not to mess with their owners. Maxwell went to his seat the guard told him to go in, again prefer not to get on their bad side. Maxwell looked to the others who were seated near him and then to the guards. "Well since it doesn't look like there is going to be an in-flight movie or anything else to do on the way to where ever we are going, I'm going try to take nap. It has been a long day so far and it's only going to get longer." Maxwell said leaning back in his chair and closing his eyes. Maxwell had no idea how right he was before getting woken up by Kirk's outburst. "What the hell?... Why did you just jump on to the ceiling?" Maxwell said waking up and looking at Kirk. "What are you talking about I don't feel anything? Maybe it's in your head." Maxwell said before noticing some thing did feel off but he didn't know what. "...What exsactly did you feel?" Maxwell asked not sure what he felt and hoped Kirk may have a better idea.
 

Dreawin

You can tell a lot about a person by their weapon.
Rosalie Laterra
Location:
Hover Craft Over Central
Interaction:
Hover Craft Occupants
Rosalie tightened the belts that held her in place as the hover craft rose into the air, letting out a gentle sigh as she gripped the chair till her knuckles were white. “Oh goddess, please don’t let this be the end of me.” She prayed with her eyes held shut until the crafts movements softened after taking on a steady forward pace. She looked over to the man rambling about broken things and just shook her head. “I don’t think they care about a few broken trinkets.” The man leaping to the ceiling of the hover craft startled Rosalie and she drew her legs to her chest and tucked her head into her knees. “Please, just make it quick and painless!" She cried out as she shook with fright, waiting a few moments before peeking out passed her knees just in time to see him drop back to the floor and resume normal behavior. As he spoke about feeling some unknown force or energy she looked around the craft for something that might have touched him and shook her head as she spoke and brought her head up from her knees, staying in a mostly fetal position. “I didn’t feel anything…”
 

Seraph Darkfire

King of the Underworld







"Please don't look at me!"

Location: Central
Mentions: @Lexielai @Epiphany Apparently using up space makes my pictures bigger.
Mood: Curious/Terrified


Valta sat in his cell, quiet as a mouse as a host of weapons were aimed at him, to keep him from breaking out, or going crazy, he wasn't sure. Not that it mattered much, for the most part, he was left alone in this dark quiet cell to do whatever he wanted. So he worked on his suit. Repairing it mainly, without the proper materials he couldn't upgrade it based on the specs he'd observed from the readings during his battle. Once he'd finished that, he was able to keep an eye on the ongoing conference. So many cameras, he could check any news feed and get a view as if he was actually there. Preferable actually. No need to deal with people or crowds.

An image of Rissa and Ayodhya 1 popped into his head and he grimaced. He still felt guilty about that, they'd treated him kindly enough and it had been Rissa who'd pulled him out of his strange state. He also thought of the curious Kirk who'd requested a copy of the video. He wasn't adverse to sharing the information, it was nothing that the man hadn't experienced already after all.

Which led him to his experiments after his suit was repaired. The Astra power he'd experienced before. He had a feeling that it was only the tip of the iceberg. So he tested his own, playing with the lights of the room as he dimmed and let it brighten up again. Shadows could be twisted and made into shapes, that he'd learned long enough but they were empty, without substance. So much so that the automated guns pointed at him didn't even respond.

So he attempted to reverse the process, pulling whatever energy he could into his body, deep within himself to a place he hadn't even been aware of originally. With a breath, the energy slowly cycled through his body from that point, spreading from a point around his navel, traveling through his arms and legs, through his mind. His eyes snapped open and the world seemed to ripple for a moment.

"That was..weird" he mumbled before looking towards one of the screens in his peripheral vision. Something was happening.

His body responded as to the woman's words in much the same way as any one else's. He wondered if it was proximity, which meant that he wasn't too far from the event or if it was based on whether the recipient heard her words. The prayer affected him strangely, his entire body tensed up and felt like pain, as if his own powers rejected that light it brought forth in him. It didn't terrify him the way he expected, it angered him, brought forth that horrible anger towards all light he'd shown during the fight. He hadn't felt it at the time, but this was awful.

And then it was over. He flexed his fingers and slowly sat back up. The Great Old Ones? In his mind flashed the man he'd seen in his vision: Erebus. As soon as that name appeared he shook his head. He knew in his heart that he wasn't meant to worship such a being. Not that he found Erebus unpleasant or anything, it just didn't feel right to deify him. It was more like being home with his parents. Besides, he was a scientist a strong believer in his own actions instead of waiting for some deity to handle their problems.

Then the MCDS arrived and he knew without a doubt that they were going to die. Zealots were never truly compromising, especially when they were threatened. Then the light flashed from that cube, both mind and body screaming in fear and anger, surging power flowing through his veins.

Then he was standing in what appeared to be a new room and for a second he thought he heard gunfire before it vanished. Several people were in this room, a few he recognized "Rissa, Seven, Ayodhya 1" he said nodding towards each of them with surprising calm even though he was certain that this wasn't going to make his situation any better. Then he blinked when he noticed that all of his vid screens had vanished. He tried to bring them up and it only made him more confused when they didn't. His suit should have been repaired "Diagnostics" he mumbled but nothing appeared.

He brought his hand up to fiddle with his hat and blinked when he wasn't greeted by the sight of brown leather, but ash gray skin. He flexed his fingers slightly before a look of pure confusion filled his eyes as he looked back to the others. That confusion quickly turned from scared, to fear, to down right terrified "No no no no!" he quickly scrambled back and fell down. He didn't even bother to get back up, just quickly pulling himself away from everyone in the room, tears forming in his eyes "Please don't look at me!" he found himself pressed against the wall and quickly moved along the wall until he found himself in a corner and unable to get away. His body shook with fear "Don't..don't look at me" his body twitched as he covered his head with his arms and pulled his legs as close as he could "Please..." his words devolved into whimpering.
 
The Beginning of the End [Part IV]
Beginning of the End [Part IV]
Location:
Seat of the Crown Conference Hall
Interaction:
Everyone at the Main Event
Tags:
Everyone
Music and Tags
Please try reading this post with music! You may wish to reread previous parts to freshen up before tackling this one.

It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. - Aristotle

@Seraph Darkfire @Graystone713 @Damafaud @_Line 213 @dwif @ChazGhost @Scaver @Epiphany @WishlessSatellite @BlightGiver @June Verles @Dreawin @Spellsword_Kirov @Lucem Tenebris @Soviet Panda

“Oh? What’s wrong~? Why aren’t you kneeling?” There was a shuffling sound in the distance, and Marielle dared to peek. A single person stepped forth through the crowd. There was a shift in the holodisplay, and it zoomed in on the lone soul who stood against the darkness. Marielle’s eyes widened; her breath hitched. The glimmer of recognition appeared in her eyes as the identity of the person became clear. Long brown hair ran down her tanned shoulders. Her turquoise colored eyes, as precious as gemstones, stared resolutely forward. Her lips thinned with determination, and the tribal markings on her cheeks echoed her resolve. Marielle felt herself drawn to that woman’s tight-set shoulders and stiff movements forward. Someone like Marielle, who had cultivated a large part of her career around meeting with and reading people, could easily see the fear in those eyes; the terror and apprehension. Yet all the same, the woman stepped forward.
V
Her name was Suzanne Pipenko. Friends remembered her better as Suza the idealist. Years ago, she had served alongside the likes of Maia Asim and Judith Clair as one of the first Astras to be brought into the limelight. She was one of the five founding members of the original MADS team, a figure of myth and story. Before retiring, she was a hero known as Truthseeker; an agent who could see through truths and lies. There was a time when she believed in serving the Ministry. Believed in fighting for a just cause and restoring order to people’s lives. Ironic how she could not see the lies that she told herself. “What’s the matter? Didn’t you see? You saw, didn’t you?” Ophelia continued, cocking her head in confusion. She did see. There came a day in her service when she realized the line between good and evil was not so clear cut; when truth no longer meant right. On that day, Suza had turned in her badge and retired from the Ministry. The media, and her fellow officers, had turned on her when she refused to serve the orders of a flawed regime. Yet it was her only recourse, because that fateful mission had changed her. She simply could not carry on any longer. The image of Maia’s expression rose fresh to her mind. The words they had exchanged back then were not pretty—they echoed in her thoughts: Don’t do this—you’re better than this. Come up for air. Please! A small, bittersweet smile rose to her lips. Why was it, at this moment, that she was still thinking about Maia? They hadn’t spoken in years. Maybe it was just her regrets coming to mind the same way they did to anyone who faced the end of the line. “…All I see is a woman gone mad with power.” Those words were spoken quietly, yet the microphones still caught them. They were broadcast throughout the conference hall and all across Trinity, filled with subdued defiance. They were the words of someone determined to speak out against an overwhelming tyrant, fully aware that each word might be their last. Ophelia’s hair flared upwards like a storm. “Huh~? What are you saying? You must be mistaken. I am the Mind’s Chosen of the Shrauta. Not some common lunatic,” she said with a sickly sweet smile. The hair on Suza’s skin began to stand on end, and the rising pressure of an implicit threat pressed down on her. Her breath hitched, wondering if she would be paralyzed by the pressure once again. Her fear hung palpably in the air. It was true that her chances of survival were nonexistent. In all her years fighting for the Ministry, Suza had never encountered any foe as powerful as the one before her. The way that her body froze, non-responsive, was a terrifying experience; as frightening as it was to be a powerless once more, as if all her training and experience and strength meant less than nothing. Even if all of the original MADS team had reunited and fought together, there was no hope for success. Still, Suza swallowed the lump in her throat. Cold sweat poured down her neck, yet she focused solely on moving. On pulling on the last dredges of her conviction to ignore the crushing pressure and the suffocating air. One step at a time, she pressed on because there was something that frightened her more than dying. “I don’t care who you think you are. The story is always the same. Someone wakes up with superpowers and suddenly thinks that means they can play god. I know who you are, Ophelia. I’ve seen dozens of Astras just like you, who try to bully the weak into submission.” She paused at the edge of the stage, hesitating for a moment. This was it; if she stepped past this barrier, then her fate was assured. She closed her eyes, and the image of Maia returned to her mind. Her resolve restored, she climbed forward. “When I was with MADS, it was my job to help people like you. We can make things right. Let me help you." Ophelia looked at her with a confused expression, as if she did not know how to respond. Her shoulders drooped. “Will you…will you really?” she asked, her voice small. One more step. Suza stood directly below Ophelia, reaching out with one hand. “Yes, I will.” Suza watched as Ophelia descended towards her. The latter’s hand reached back, towards Suza’s fingers…and then snapped away. “Just kidding!” Ophelia announced cheerfully, her mood suddenly reverting to a grin. It was at this point that Suza realized that Ophelia’s two companions had moved. The two of them had stepped forward, flanking her on both sides. “Did you really think that would work?” the masked man, the High Priest, said. His monstrous, Kraken-like mask loomed large in the sight of the holodisplay. “The faithful cannot be swayed so easily. Ungrateful Astras like you do not appreciate the gift the gods have blessed upon you. Your kind should be bowing and scraping to fulfill the Great Old Ones will with gratitude in your eyes. Your example will show others how useless it is to resist. Perhaps, if you kneel now, we will grant you a merciful execution.” Suza retreated her hand and smiled bitterly. “I thought you’d say something like that; it was obvious that you were lying. So in that case...” Then her hand blurred, and before either of them realized what had happened, Suza had fired a dozen rounds from a hidden pistol into Ophelia’s body and threw her to the ground. The High Priest and Lightbearer were frozen in place, unable to react to the sudden attack. This had been the plan all along. Concealed within her outfit during her approach was the hidden weapon she carried, the last remnants of her paranoia and discipline as a Ministry agent. Judging by the failed attempt the Ministry had made, distance was not to her advantage. Therefore her aim was to advance close enough to effectively make use of the element of surprise. Suza had known, from the very moment Ophelia spoke, that she was telling the truth—or at least, her interpretation of the truth. All three of them believed whole heartily in their mad doctrine. If that was case, then it was pointless to try to convince them otherwise. All she could do, when the ill’s madness threatened the lives of others, was to put a stop to it for the greater good. The irony of her actions, so similar to her justifications while bearing the Ministry’s colors, was not lost on her. Suza immediately spun on her feet with all the grace expected of a former elite officer, trailing her gun onto the two beside her. She aimed down her sights, prepared to the pull the trigger, and then stopped.
V
Up in the booth above, Marielle watched in confusion, wondering why the two men on stage had not moved a muscle. They simply stared dispassionately at Suza as she froze mid-movement as if time had stopped.
Then Suza coughed, and blood spewed out her mouth. It dribbled down her chin, and onto her hands, staining them red. Her form wobbled and, like a puppet whose strings had been cut, she fell onto one knee. Now that her back was exposed to the camera, Marielle could see the daggers which had slid into it and stopped her attack. Judging from the rapidly expanding pool of blood beneath her, each had been fatal. Ophelia’s giggle sent the chill of despair into her heart. There was a series of clacks when a cloud of suspended bullets fell to the floor. Ophelia floated onto her feet, completely unharmed. She dusted herself off with an exaggerated motion. “So cocky~ Looks like it turned out bad for you, neh?” Suza coughed again, and another spurt of blood splashed onto the floor. She struggled to stand, pushing herself up halfway, before collapsing onto both knees. Her form hunched, breathing heavily. “Don’t strain yourself~ You took six mortal wounds just now. Just kneel like a good girl,” Ophelia said, a hint of mockery in her tone. She stepped close to Suza’s body, reaching forward and pulling back. Suza jolted as if lightning had struck her, and Ophelia held one of the bloody blades in her hand. She allowed it to float through the air towards the Lightbearer, who caught it. The Lightbearer raised his other armored gauntlet towards Suza, the cube still in his palm. “Your attitude is unsightly. Yet there is still use for you. Perhaps your soul could still be put to work serving the gods.” Then, with all of brutal grace of an executioner, he stabbed the bloody blade into the cube, piercing easily into it. Blood swirled through the pure white and blue, spreading throughout the depths of that mystical abyss like ink. In just a few moment the cube had been tainted crimson red. Then he paused. That was because, despite her grave injuries, Suza continued to rise. It appeared that her natural constitution had kicked in and slowed the effect of the injuries. Even so, a mere civilian like Marielle could still tell that Suza was clearly defeated. Even an Astra could not survive that many fatal wounds; her body could no longer fight. And all the same, her spirit still kept pushing on. The Lightbearer calmly pressed the crimson cube to Suza’s forehead as she stared defiantly towards him. Instantly, flakes of her skin began falling away, disintegrating into wisps of red energy in the same way as the Ministry Officers earlier. In the same way as a receptionist at Tesseract had earlier. Horror ran through Marielle’s heart as she realized what would happen next.
V
”He was just a kid! All of them. Just. Kids…”
Her own horrified voice echoed in the space she entered. It was white, white, white, as far as the eye could see. The senses of her body were distant, as if she were very far away. She had no eyes, yet she could see. She had no body, no hands and no limbs, yet she was here. ”You made the right choice, Suzanne. Things are better this way,” a voice rang. It was warm, and convincing. So convincing that even she, the one who sought the truth, had not been able to see through it. The world around her gleamed like glass, and shattered. She fell and fell, down and down. The shattered remnants reflected with images of people—and, if she looked, she could see the words they were saying. ”Why, Suza? How could you do such a thing? How could you stand by and watch it all burn?” ”Who do you think you are? Running around and smashing without a care. You, Ayodhya 1, Judith…you’re all the same. You don’t really care.” ”As a guardian of the people, you solemnly swear to proudly protect the precious citizens of Trinity and serve Her Majesty to your utmost…” One by one, the panes of her memories passed by. Each was a reminder of the mistakes she had made and the promises she had broken. Then one more voice cut through the crowd. It was a familiar whisper of a woman she once knew. Marielle. ”Suza…you idiot. Why did you have to do that? Why did you have to stand up?” Her surroundings snapped. She was in a crowd once more, much like the one she had just left. Her forehead beaded with sweat under her hot Ministry helmet, but her uniform was still neatly pressed. The world around her burned while she watched. Bodies littered the streets all around her, yet nobody batted an eye. Instead, as one, she and her fellow officers all pounded their armor in salute and kneeled. Orange light flickered in the reflection of her faceplate. Although she tried to avert her eyes, she could not help but be drawn to the utter devastation around her; the shattered buildings and broken people. ”Rise, Truthseeker,” said a cool, silky voice. It belonged to a man with dark blue skin and cold red eyes, who smiled thinly at her. ”Your team deserves accolades for your excellent accomplishments here today. This mission could not have succeeded without you. Thanks to your efforts, the people of Trinity can continue to live peaceful lives.” Her gaze lingered on the world she had set on fire. The smoldering embers of hate and misery in the survivors eyes. And then to the man she bowed to, the commanding and charismatic character who held the world in the palm of his hand; the one who could order nearly anyone to kneel, and they would obey. ”Yes, Grand Judicator. It is as you say. The order we will bring is the salvation of our people.” Her words then were lies, yet she had been too afraid to speak out. Then, Suza understood.
V
“Remember this, Trinity. No one can stand against the Old Ones, not even your champions. These so-called heroes are no more. Your only salvation is to submit to the new world.” Suza smiled bitterly, and the Lightbearer’s gaze turned to meet hers. Her body continued to fade away, yet she willed it to wait a moment longer. “You’re wrong. You’re lying.” Her eyes turned towards the place where she knew the holocamera would be, towards the people who would be watching her. “There will always be hope,” she said. “Even if the world burns, so long as our spirit lives on…so long as there are still people to protect…” The image of her old comrades came to mind. Maia, Judith, Marielle…each of their faces etched a space in her heart. When she had left them, she had been a broken woman; a fallen hero who had lost all hope. Now she stood, face-to-face with the darkness, because she could not tolerate kneeling to it any longer. Do you see me, Maia? Do you see me, Judith? There was certainty in her eyes. “…and you’re wrong about one more thing.” The white, glass-like world had held images from many places, past and present. Yet it had also held glimpses of the truth from the future. This time, her face turned into a small smile. "There will always be heroes.” Then Suzanne Pipenko was gone.
V
“So annoying~” Ophelia moaned, irritation creeping into her tone for the first time. Marielle’s heart sank with grief, yet her attention was pulled towards a sudden rumbling in her surroundings. She glanced towards the stage once more, and saw Ophelia’s hand raised into the air. “There will always be heroes? So stupid. Well, if the rest of you really think that, then I guess all of you are useless then, eh?” Ophelia grumbled. Her gaze swept over the crowd, and a mad smile appeared. “In that case, we don’t need any more annoying people. Might as well get rid of all of you just to be sure.” The rumblings grew stronger, and the shriek of tearing metal sounded loudly in Marielle’s ears. She looked around in a panic, realizing that something was very wrong. “…The conference hall must be collapsing,” she realized, watching at the roof began splitting in two. Ophelia waved as she and her companions floated into the air. “Bye now~ And remember to give praise to the Old Ones!” she said, disappearing into the night. In a mere few moments, that terrifyingly oppressive presence was gone, yet Marielle's breaths would not calm. The sudden rush of cool air from outside sent shivers down Marielle’s spine. Her form was still frozen, staring wide eyed into the sky, before a hand grabbed her by the elbow. Turning, Marielle met the determined gaze of someone she had not expected to see. “Aretta?” The latter’s hand wrapped around hers. “Come on—we have to go!” The Shrauta have retreated, and the Seat of the Crown Conference Hall is collapsing! Please prepare for a one week timeskip following your reactions to this event that elaborates on the consequences of your actions at the Astra Conference. After that we will give you the freedom to cover the events of a six month timeskip—more details on this to come soon.
 
Rissa
Location:
Communications Hovercraft Mid-Flight
Interaction:
Valta, Seven, Captain Vagabond
There was a stunned silence. “...Valta?” Rissa gently pushed down on Seven outstretched hand, which held a loaded gun. “Wait, wait. I think something’s wrong. Let me see.” “Milady, this is an emergency! Stand back...he seems weakened. Allow me to finish him off—” “No, stop!” Rissa shouted with as much force as she could muster, pushing away the second gun that Seven materialized in her other hand. Seven stiffened, as if she had been slapped. After a moment to breathe, Rissa repeated herself more softly. “No, I think it’s okay. I don’t think he is a threat; he’s just scared.” A woman with tribal-like markings appeared on the screens of the datapad nearby, but she willed herself to ignore the spectacle at the Astra Conference for a moment. Her steps took her towards Valta. “Please be at ease, Captain,” she said to Captain Vagabond, whose hand was rested on the clasp of his weapon holster. “Let me handle this. If anything happens, I’ll be ready.” The latter had taken off his helmet, revealing the neatly trimmed hair and hard eyes of the man underneath it. His lips were stretched into a thin line and he had the air of a professional about him, yet Rissa felt that he had been shaken by the deaths of his comrades under his stiff expression. She could understand, to some extent, where he was coming from. Although it felt ugly to admit, she was grateful for Valta’s sudden appearance to distract her from steaming in her own feelings on the matter. The Captain was about to protest, just as Seven did earlier, but he stopped when he saw the look she gave him. It was one that reflected Rissa’s inner feelings; the conviction in her path that would not budge no matter what he said. He seemed to have sensed it, and reluctantly acquiesced after staring at her for a beat. “Understood.” Rissa proceeded on, and saw a hint of blue in the corner of her eye. That was likely Seven, moving into a support position. She quickly evaluated the direction Seven went in, as well as the geometry of the room, and judged that her friend had found the position with the best firing angle to Valta with the least risk of friendly fire. A part of her wanted to shake Seven until her overprotective tendencies were rattled out, but Rissa instead chose to focus on the person in front of her. She knew that it was dangerous to approach a recent enemy like this, especially one who had proved himself to be a formidable foe. Yet she could not help the feeling in her gut that drew her to him, and so she continued nonetheless. “Hey, hey...it’s okay. It’s okay, you’re alright. You’re safe,” she said gently, kneeling down to be on eye level with Valta. “It’s me, Rissa. We met at Tesseract. Do you remember me?”
 

dwif

I just love Brendan Fraser
Jakob Brötzmann
Location:
Hovercraft Over Central
Interaction:
Hovercraft Occupants
Tags:
Jakob's feigned sleep quickly gave away to the real thing. The fight had left him more drained than ever before. There was a clear difference between fighting with the gangs he was used to and even a single Astra. It could have been the fact that he never used his powers unless absolutely necessary that made it feel like he was insignificant in comparison to the other Astras that were present, those who have the means and reasons to use their powers regularly. He could put all those thoughts behind him for now though, after today he would be going back to his normal day to day. Concerned murmuring cut above the droning of the engines rousing Jakob from his nap. Bleary eyed he scanned the interior, the Enforcers tasked with escorting them were each fixated on their personal datapads. Their expressions gave away that whatever they were watching was something dire. Jakob nudged the Enforcer to his left "Do you mind?" Looking over at the live feed Jakob managed to catch the final moments of the strike team as they were destroyed in almost an instant. A cold chill ran down his back but he couldn't tear his eyes away from the screen. The broadcast got no easier to watch, any hope that remained died alongside Suza as she was executed in front of the terrified masses. Her final moments urged the people to stand up and become heroes. Her death made it apparent that no amount heroes would be enough to stand up to the power that the group had. In comparison to them he was nothing but an insect. Insignificant. No good could come from opposing them. More lives could be saved by not opposing them. After all, it's better to be a pet than a pest.
 

Seraph Darkfire

King of the Underworld







"Please don't look at me!"

Location: Central
Mentions: @Lexielai Apparently using up space makes my pictures bigger.
Mood: Terrified


"She's going to die" he mumbled as he shivered catching a glimpse of the screen over Rissa's shoulder "Death, pain...so much!" he whined "I know you Rissa. Couldn't forget...not now, not after I've seen your Shadow" he twitched away from her even as he spoke to her "Don't touch me...please.."

"E-everyone has a Shadow..." his eyes flicked around the room and landed on Seven as before quickly covering his eyes "She's so protective...her Shadow is nearly wrapped around you...and yours...so overwhelmingly regal. I'm sorry....for hurting you...I didn't mean to!"

He'd always been able to see the Shadows. It was a major reason why he was so scared of everything. Just as a regular shadow as cast by light, the Shadow was cast by the light of the Soul and not all of them were beautiful or even truly ugly. They just were, little pieces of their deepest desires and fears, of their pains in life...and they looked at him. Always looking to him, as if he could help heal whatever harmed them.

He could only see them when he wasn't in his clothes, surrounded by darkness. The blocked it out somehow. Without them, he was faced with the stares. Always, constantly judging, pleading, angry, sad. He could see it with Seven, she wanted to kill him, end him for harming the one she protected, the Shadow's hands reaching around Rissa and sharp edges pointing towards him.

But it was Rissa's that truly awed and scared him. It filled the room, fingers gently touching all others nearby. Its gaze pierced him, searching even as it seemed to guide the woman towards him.

She was important. He knew that. Movement from the corner of his eye caught his attention as a man sized Shadow walked around the room curiously, stopping at monitors and stepping between Shadows. Ignored by all but him was his own Shadow. A small, normal sized thing, so in focus that it was as if someone had literally cut a hole in the universe. It was ever curious, constantly moving about and studying the world around him. It never really stared at him like the others, and whenever it did, it's bright yellow eyes would squint as if it was smiling and it would wave happily. He wanted to be like that Shadow. Unafraid and happy.

His eyes turned back to Rissa and her unwavering gaze caused him to flinch
"I...I...want to help..." he mumbled "Make things better for everyone....I didn't mean to...hurt...or attack...anyone...sorry." he shook his head and spoke a little louder "Those people...so bad...so wrong...so very twisted..." he shivered once more "You say...you say...I'm safe...but what about them?" he spread his hands to indicate outside "They need to be safer than I do....even if I'm afraid.."
 
Nightshade
Location:
Hovercraft
Interaction:
Open to everyone in the same hovercraft
Tags:
Silence grips Judith as she watches this cultist reveal her grandiose plans... that is, until her old ally Suza confronts the group. “I know her; she’s got this,” she nonchalantly comments a moment before the verbal altercation gives way to a violent mag-dump into Ophelia. Judith’s smug grin is short-lived as she sees one woman fall and the other rise. What ensues from there leaves the spy gawking in shock, her eyes locked onto the grisly scene as Suza is executed. “Shit...” is the only breathy word that escapes her agape mouth. The troubled RBI agent sits in silence for a moment before finally piping up. “I need to make some calls right now. This means war,” she announces to the enforcers with a heavy sigh, awaiting their approval before carrying out her plan.
 
The Epilogue [Tesseract Crew]
The Epilogue [Tesseract Crew]
Location:
MCDS HQ
Interaction:
Everyone who participated in the Tesseract Event
Tags:
Everyone
Tags and Notes
PCs! You arrive at your destination, whereupon you are briefly interrogated before being allowed to leave with the exception of Valta. The mood at the HQ of the Ministry of Central District Security is much different from the air during your ride in the hovercraft. It is somber, and there is despair, yet there is also a fire in people's eyes. The actions of Suzanne Pipenko seemed to have somewhat reawakened their fighting spirit. You are allowed to return to your homes and daily lives for one week before being directly contacted once more.

@Seraph Darkfire @dwif @ChazGhost @Epiphany @BlightGiver @June Verles @Dreawin @Spellsword_Kirov
Rissa did not understand what Valta meant, but she could see that he was clearly distressed. Instead of saying anything meaningless, she ignored his wishes and gently embraced him. Her hand patted his back, and she tried to recall how she herself had been comforted when she was very young. Her mind turned to the outside world, and the monsters disguised as people within it. “I won’t let them get away with it. I will fight my hardest to keep you all safe. All of you. I promise.” The words escaped her with surprising conviction. Rissa did not know where this fire in her chest had come from; this desire to stand up and defend all the people she could. A part of her mused that, perhaps, it was this same mysterious instinct that drew her to shove Maia out of the way earlier. She smiled. “Please be at ease. I’ll take care of everything.” These words were put to the test just a few minutes later. “Absolutely not.” “Milady, please reconsider. He’s a dangerous individual and needs proper supervision. We cannot afford to let him run wild after this incident.” Rissa shook her head. “He needs help, Seven, not a prison cell. Besides, the evidence suggests he was clearly affected by the experiment. We are not sending him there.” The person in question was Valta. He was currently seated in a dark room, visible through a one-sided observation window from where Rissa and Seven were standing. Seven had a pained expression on her face. “That is all the more reason he must be put under close observation. We have to study the cause of his sudden transformation and, if possible, develop countermeasures for such abilities in the future.” Both of them had stubborn looks in their eyes, and the room fell into silence as they stared silently at one another. Rissa’s eyes blazed with fire, and Seven could not help but be reminded of the powerful, intangible aura she had seen around the Empress once, many years ago. There was, of course, no actual pressure; it was merely the majestic, beautiful manifestation of a will that moved the minds and hearts of mankind. In the end, Seven looked away first. “...Then we’ll compromise. From this day on, Valta will be under direct royal custody. I will be transferring him to the Guest Wing within the Golden Palace and arranging the appropriate security precautions to keep everyone safe. However, we will be treating him humanely and giving him the care he needs. That’s my final decision.” Seven suppressed the sigh in her heart, and nodded. “Understood, milady.” Rissa nodded,and then her eyes turned to one of the two other occupants of the room. “Do you have any objections, Minister?” The Minister in question, the highest ranking authority within the Ministry of District Security’s Central Branch, shook his lizard-like head. “While I would prefer that he be kept under my careful watch, I trust that the custody of the Royal Guard will be more than enough. Besides, how can I refuse a royal order? If it is your will, Princess, then it will be done.” Rissa responded with a peeved expression that made the Minister smile. “I don’t want you to obey me because of my blood. I want you to agree because it’s the right thing to do.” As if to aggravate her further, the Minister bowed. “If that is your command, your Majesty.” Having decided to ignore the teasing of the Minister, who was like her annoying uncle, Rissa exhaled deeply and addressed the person who had not spoken yet. “Captain, what about the other Astras? What has happened to them?” Captain Vagabond, whose stern face had budged only slightly at their banter, stepped forward. “Yes, ma’am. We have separated them into rooms and have begun questioning their version of events. As soon as we are finished gathering up all the eyewitness accounts, we plan to release them.” He seems to be taking the whole ‘Royal Heir’ thing rather well, Rissa thought to herself. “Good. See to it that they are treated fairly; they did a heroic job today.” She contemplated for a moment. “And, if you see Maia, tell her to stop by the Golden Palace sometime. Don’t tell her I asked for it though, or who I actually am. I’d like it to be a surprise.” The Captain nodded. “Understood.” Then there was a pause. “Princess,” he added cheekily.
 
The Epilogue [The Shrauta]
The Epilogue [The Shrauta]
Location:
Unknown
Interaction:
The Shrauta
Tags:
Everyone
Tags and Notes
The Shrauta have escaped! If you haven't noticed, they are a set of villain characters moving forward into the next phase of the story. But wait! There seems to be more to the mysteries surrounding them than meets the eye...

Here is a summation of metagame information mostly unknown to PCs thus far. The Shrauta is divided into Scriptures, each assigned a specific duty. So far we have only encountered the Light Scripture and the Mind Scripture. Additionally, the Light Scripture is operating under the disguise of the Church of Rainbow Light, a benevolent (if weird) religious society. Meanwhile, as we will find out here, the Mind Scripture has decided on a slightly different front...

Shrauta Index

The Lightbearer - (Sect) The Light Scripture.
AKA Real Nicholas of the Church of the Rainbow Light (Alias Unknown to Players)

The High Priest - (Sect) The Light Scripture
AKA Drix of the Church of the Rainbow Light (Alias Unknown to Players)

The Mind's Chosen - (Sect) The Mind Scripture
AKA Ophelia (Alias Very Well Known)

@Seraph Darkfire @Graystone713 @Damafaud @_Line 213 @dwif @ChazGhost @Epiphany @WishlessSatellite @BlightGiver @June Verles @Dreawin @Spellsword_Kirov @Lucem Tenebris @Soviet Panda
"An excellent performance, Ophelia,” Real commented as they flew out of the conference hall. “The interruption was not planned, but not unexpected. Congratulation for handling it so well.” “Yes, you did well with dealing with that minor surprise. She could have been a problem if left to her own devices.” Drix commented on the group’s way out. The aforementioned Astra beamed with happiness. “Thank you~ I’ve been practicing my public speaking skills for this mission. I’m glad it went so well, although…” As they dropped in altitude, Ophelia’s expression turned sour. “That woman really got on my nerves. Who did she think she was? So annoying! Thinking about it makes me so mad!” She was positively fuming by the time their feet touched the ground. There were the sounds were shrieking metal and loud impacts in the distance, followed by the echoes of explosions nearby. Although she paid them no heed, the people around her fled in terror as a damaged hovercraft suddenly plunged headfirst into a nearby building. There was a shockwave of noise as debris flew everywhere, adding yet another voice to the cacophony of chaos. Ophelia carried on her conversation without missing a beat, but the truth was that the Ministry had continued sending in a few support hovercraft to detain her. They, like the team earlier, were easily dispatched with a flick of her wrist, and the ruins of their vehicles continued raining down upon the city below. “Annoying, annoying, ANNOYING!” she continued muttering to herself. Her hair shook and waved as if in response to her anger. “This was supposed to be MY show. MINE. How dare she steal the stage like that? I can’t get over it!” As they descended and finally entered their prepared escape vehicle, Ophelia’s anger had quieted to a gentle simmer. “...When we’re done, I’d like to have her soul.” Her eyes turned to the mystical cube that Real held in his hands which glowed with an eerie red light. It was not large, but the First Light held such unfathomable depths that even Ophelia had not managed to fully comprehend it. She doubted even the Light Scripture, the sect which Real and Drix belonged to, truly understood it either. It had been passed on from one generation to the next for thousands of years. Inevitably, there would be some information lost to the transition. Suddenly, Ophelia lurched. Her body trembled as her vision spun, and she clutched a nearby railing for support. Sweat poured off her forehead, and she could not help but cough violently. The floor below her turned crimson as her insides churned with displeasure, and her mouth was heavy with the taste of iron. Worse was the pounding headache that assaulted her, like a heavy pressure was tightly squeezing her skull. This was accompanied by the sound of shattering, like the noise made by broken glass, as tiny shards of white crystal fell from her forehead. Ophelia’s knees buckled, but her hand held onto the railing so tightly that her knuckles turned white. Then, although the intensity of her pain subsided, the residual effects still left her feeling weak. When Ophelia looked up, the white triangle that had been on her forehead was gone. “...Looks like I’ve reached my limit,” she said weakly, wiping off a bit of the blood that trailed down her chin. A new voice interjected at this time. “Still, it was a marvelous display, Mind’s Chosen. Although the side effects seem rather unpleasant, I believe this experiment has been a huge success. It goes to show that the power of an Avatar Crystal is even more awe inspiring than we anticipated it would be; it seems the strength of the user is related to the potency…” The voice belong to a bespectacled man dressed in a business suit, who stroked his chin in contemplation. Ophelia gave him a small, but still weak smile. “Lord Tesseract. I’m sorry you had to see such a shameful side of me.” The man, whose graying features and warm smile gave off the impression of being a kindly old man, waved his hand in dismissal. “Nonsense! You are an excellent disciple, but only mortal. It is our duty as servants of the Great Old Ones to support each other in times of need.” This was Ravana Tesseract, head of Tesseract Medical Inc. and a leading expert in modern medicine. His son, Khara Tesseract, had been assigned to head a certain experiment at Tesseract Medical’s Exhbition Booth. Ravana pushed up his glasses as he then turned to Real and Drix. “Excellent work as well, you too. Now, let us move on to our next order of business…”
 
The Epilogue [The Blue Lotus]
The Epilogue [The Blue Lotus]
Location:
Unknown
Interaction:
Elvira, Remi, Sora
Tags:
Everyone
Tags and Notes
The Blue Lotus continue to take action! They will be one of the two playable factions moving into the next phase of the game. Depending on who you ask, their motivations can widely vary, however their overall goal is to enact a dramatic upheaval in society and government to fix the systematic injustices that divide the people. Their actions are controversial, and may be interpreted as a terrorist movement or a rebellion. This faction would be well suited for anti-hero or anti-establishment characters, or those who would otherwise be unconvinced by the wide breadth of benefits offered by the alternative faction. More details to come later, but here is some meta-game information for now.

The Blue Lotus

Elvira - E4
Elvira is an enigma, whose history and true motivations are unclear. She has demonstrated great skill in covert operations, and is a prolific recruiter for the Blue Lotus.

Sora Windrunner - Valkyrie One
Sora Windrunner is the cyborg cell leader of the Blue Lotus' Central Cell. Her unit is also known as the Valkyries.

@Seraph Darkfire @Graystone713 @Damafaud @_Line 213 @dwif @ChazGhost @Epiphany @WishlessSatellite @BlightGiver @June Verles @Dreawin @Spellsword_Kirov @Lucem Tenebris @Soviet Panda
The feed on the holoprojector cut out amidst the crashing of metal as the Conference Hall collapsed. The display flickered, and returned to the image of an anchorman at his desk. “Ahem, we are no longer receiving footage from the Seat of the Crown. However, we are receiving reports that Ministry and emergency support personnel are on their way as we speak…” There was a wave, and then the projection disappeared. “So, that’s that. It appears that they were more interesting than originally anticipated,” Elvira said with a detached tone. She turned her eyes to Sora, whose eyes were shadowed by her dark green hair. “For now, all we can do is gather more information and then act. I can understand being upset by such a tragedy, and such unpleasant individuals, but we simply do not know enough to make a rational decision just yet. Until then, it’s too risky to do anything but investigate the situation. It would be best for us to not do anything rash, no?” Although her words were audible to both Remi and Sora, it was clear that she was addressing the latter. Sora remained deathly still for several more seconds before responding. “I understand,” she answered through gritted teeth. Sora pushed herself up, and revealed the crate behind her. The place where her hand had been was little more than crushed metal, as if a great force had been exerted on it. Then Elvira addressed Remi. “Now then, Sora and I have further business to take care of. I hope that, the next time we meet, we will have more news to share with one another.” She quirked her lips into a lovely smile. “If you have any allies you wish to bring into the fold as well, then feel free to invite them to our next meeting. After all, it seems we’ll be needing all the help we can get. Similarly, we will gather some capable individuals as well. I have faith in your judgement.” Left unsaid were the risks involved—risk of betrayal, risk of treachery. It was uncertain if Elvira was naive enough to believe that such things were impossible, but the fact remained that she had put her faith into Remi; put her faith into his desires, his convictions, his trustworthiness, and his reason. Whether or not he deserved such credit was up to him. “Farewell, and take care.” Then they were gone. Some time later, Sora and Elvira stood at the edge of an observation deck. “—Will it really be alright to let the Shrauta do as they please?” Elvira maintained her soft expression as a twinge of annoyance drifted through her. “Yes, Sora. That is indeed the case.” “Why?” Elvira turned, and her eyes locked with Sora’s. There was a fire there, still roaring as blackly as the first time they had met; filled with the fury and pain she buried in her heart. After thinking for a moment, Elvira sighed. “I understand. You’re thinking about what happened with you and Tesseract, aren’t you?” The silence which followed spoke louder than any words. “It was terrible what they did to you and your brother. Their actions can never be forgiven, and they will be brought to justice; I can promise you that. But we cannot afford to make a move against the Shrauta and reveal ourselves at this critical juncture,” Elvira said. “...Even if that means we will let many people suffer and die, knowing we could save them?” “Yes. It is a grim reality,” Elvira responded. She exhaled softly. “It may seem like a cruel decision. In some ways, it is. However, it is necessary for the future of our people; to ensure that nobody like you will appear ever again. If we act now, then what? Nothing will change, and people like the Shrauta will appear again and again. If we truly wish to make a difference, then we have to steel our hearts and live with the difficult decisions we make.” However, Sora could not accept this. “—Cut the bullshit. The only person you care about is yourself. You don’t actually give a damn about anyone, do you?” In reply, all Elvira could do was smile bitterly. “...You’re right. Personally, I really couldn’t care less about this little crusade. But the fact of the matter is, I owe a debt to someone who does. And until that debt is repaid, you can trust me to put the best interests of this movement at heart.” She contemplated her strategy, and decided a straightforward approach would be best. “More to the point, the odds are stacked against you. Your success hinges on rational decisions being made in unclear situations, and you have too much baggage to do it yourself. Although you may not like it, you need someone with a cold heart.” Sora’s quiet fury seemed to have mellowed, but her countenance suggested she remained yet unsatisfied. Nonetheless, she shifted her next question to a different topic. “So what do we plan to do in the meantime?” This time, Elvira gestured towards the window. “We will continue preparing. Trinity will inevitably prepare to fight their new foe. As a result, they will become distracted. That is when we will make our move.” Sora’s eyes followed Elvira’s gesture, to the rows upon rows of weapons crates and staff that lined their secret warehouse. Towards the tall, imposing figures of mechanized vehicles and upright suits of power armor, and the intimidating visage of the battlemech stored at the far corner of the room. “Can Trinity really fight them?” Sora asked, her voice filled with uncertainty. Anyone would feel the same way after seeing Ophelia’s incredible display of power. Laughter filled the room, and Elvira smiled. “Yes. Trinity has not faced a real threat in many years, but it is not so weak as to fall to a group of children kicking at its door. Anything else?” “Yes,” Sora answered, retrieving an item from her uniform pocket. It was a preserving bag, and within was a piece of blue silk. It was still stained red, and from it dripped droplets of preserved blood. “I managed to retrieve this from the target.” Elvira eyes took on a pleased gleam. “Oh? Maybe I see that?” she asked. Sora handed it over without complaint. After a brief inspection of the contents of the bag, the satisfaction in Elvira’s eyes grew. “This is...this is indeed the royal blood. Excellent, excellent work…” Elvira held it in the air, as if in celebration. “With this, our victory is assured.”
 
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The Epilogue [Trinity]
The Epilogue [Trinity]
Location:
The Golden Palace
Interaction:
The Royal Court
Tags:
Everyone
Tags and Notes
This is the FINAL epilogue post for Phase I! Now we introduce the other playable faction, Trinity itself! Their main selling points are their immense resources, which are greatly appealing to any characters interested in acquiring knowledge, performing research, or becoming stronger. They also offer a great many benefits to Astras, such as high salaries and full financial support for their families and loved ones. This faction is well suited for characters interested in developing themselves and their knowledge, hero-type and compassionate characters, pro-Government characters, and characters who are a lot like normal people. We will go into more detail about the nature of the factions, but here is some meta-game information for now.

Trinity Cast List

Suzanne Pipenko - Truthseeker [KIA?]
A once popular agent of the original MADS Astra team that fell out with the organization after a controversial incident. Her sacrifice standing up to the Shrauta at the Astra Conference has put her back on national headlines and turned her into a respected martyr, although her critics nevertheless remain active.

Captain Vagabond
The stern, professional, and highly competent Captain Vagabond is the picture of a perfect Enforcer. However, following the loss of many of his comrades, even his firm eyes now blaze with a desire for vengeance.

Magistrate Blitz King
The smug expression and superior attitude of Blitz, one of the Magistrates of the Royal Magistrate, leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. Nevertheless, he is one of the direct servants of the Grand Judicator himself and therefore one of the most high ranking individuals in all of Trinity.

@Seraph Darkfire @Graystone713 @Damafaud @_Line 213 @dwif @ChazGhost @Epiphany @WishlessSatellite @BlightGiver @June Verles @Dreawin @Spellsword_Kirov @Lucem Tenebris @Soviet Panda
Several days later.
Within the halls of the Golden Palace, the heart of the Government, there was a meeting in-progress. Seated around a long table was a rare sight; that is, actual people in these seats. This was the first time in years that all the members of the Royal Court were in physical attendance for a meeting. In the past, distant members would choose to participate remotely by holoprojection in order to fulfill their duties without the interruption of travel. However, today was an exception. The reason for this occurrence was because this was an emergency meeting, and attendance was not optional. The Ministers of District Security and the Royal Governors for all five districts were here, in addition to the High Inquisitor of the Royal Bureau of Investigation and the Director of the Institute of Research. There was also the Grand Marshall of the Border Defense Corps, the Chief of the Central Bank, the Secretary of State, and over two dozen other important officials. It was, in essence, the most concentrated collection of power and authority that could be found in all the world. At the head of the table was a woman dressed in blue, who wore a strange headdress that obscured her eyes. She had remained hitherto silent in the heated discussions that had taken place here, merely observing the flow of the conversation from her high seat. She was a figure that everyone knew: Empress Imperia, the highest authority in all of Trinity. A woman so influential that her word was tantamount to law, and the long-lived architect of Trinity’s grand history. Today the members of the Royal Court were discussing the dramatic events at the Astra Conference a few days earlier. They are terrorists! Nothing more, nothing less. It is unthinkable for us to bow to the will of such scum. I say that we show them the full force of our armed forces and wipe them out once and for all!” The man who spoke so vehemently was a Manu with dark skin and graying hair. “And then have them all be destroyed, just like before? Governor Kumbh, I understand your sentiment, but our foes have clearly demonstrated that our weapons are meaningless. Would we not save more lives by hearing them out?” A loud snort filled the room. “Since when did you become such a coward, Minister Arcadia? You traitor. What sort of madman sells out his own people just because of a few fireworks? So what if what we had was not enough? Then we’ll just hit them even harder!” It was at this point that a new voice interrupted to moderate this latest argument. “Gentlemen, please. We are in the presence of Her Majesty. Mind your tongues.” The one who spoke was a Deva, seated at the opposite head of the table from the Empress. His rich, silky smooth voice echoed the prestige and regality of its owner. All eyes turned towards his striking red irises and calm expression. “Now then, I would like to commence this meeting in full. Your Majesty, may I begin?” On the other side of the table, the Empress nodded. “You may, Grand Judicator,” she acknowledged. The Deva then stood, revealing his pristine, crisp white uniform and innumerable accolades that adorned it. The room fell silent in turn, focusing their attention on this man. He was a person known to everyone in this room. His title, the Grand Judicator, signaled his status as the leading authority of the Royal Magistrate. Meanwhile his long history of excellence and exceptional reputation meant that he was a respected figure within the Royal Court, especially when considering that he was the longest-serving Government official aside from the Empress herself. This man was Artanian Varuna, and today he was the host of this emergency meeting. “Then let us address the matter of the Shrauta’s attack at the Astra Conference,” he said. “To begin with, our reports so far suggest that this was a terror attack intended to shatter the will to resist of the opposition—namely, the public. Judging by the reactions of yourselves and the populace, it was at least somewhat successful.” Artanian’s hands, folded behind his back, clicked a button. Then the datapads placed in front of every member of the Royal Court lit up with the still frame image of a woman standing up in a kneeling crowd. “However, the brave actions of the late Captain Pipenko have had a counter-effect to their intent. It appears that her death has been interpreted as a noble sacrifice among the media. Already, the #RememberPipenko movement has gained significant traction, and many are calling for a call to arms against the Shrauta.” “Why anyone would be motivated by that brutal execution, I could never understand,” someone interjected. “It seems to me that she was just a woman with a deathwish. And her efforts were in vain anyways; they killed her as easily as anyone else. If anything, that just goes to show the difference in power between their forces and ours.” There were several nods of agreement around the table. However, one voice had a different opinion. “That is not all there is. Do not underestimate the impact of a noble sacrifice.”
“The Empress is correct,” Artanian said, picking up after the former. The way his eyes glowed in the shadow easily drew the attention of the present audience. “While her battle was, frankly, one-sided, it was not the outcome of her fight that moved the people. It was the manner in which she stepped forward when all others were paralyzed by their fear.” The datapad displays flipped to a different scene. It showed the image of a lone person stepping up onto a stage, like a champion rising forth to meet a challenger. “As a person with as much prior publicity as herself, Captain Pipenko had the audience’s sympathy from the beginning,” Artanian explained. “Her actions shook the chains that gripped the minds and hearts of the people and shattered the status quo. Her courage was a step forward in inspiring the public and reversing the impact of the Shrauta’s terror. Indeed, had she remained on the sidelines, it is likely that the Shrauta’s display of power would have thoroughly broken the will to resist. In that sense, while she lost the battle, Captain Pipenko won a decisive victory in the war.” Minister Arcadia shook his head in confusion. “I still don’t understand. Is it not the case that the death of a champion of the people would dishearten the populace, not rally them?” That much was an understandable conclusion. After all, if a trusted defender were easily felled in battle, then what hope did the people have of resisting? It would be a hopeless situation for them. Yet Artanian only nodded in partial agreement. “That is not a poor assumption to make. However, consider the manner of her resistance,” Artanian countered. “I’m sure you’ve all seen the recordings of her speech; the passion and belief and confidence in her face and tone. The sheer charisma that radiated off her in that moment, when she had made her peace with death, overflowed with an indescribable quality that was larger than life. It was an appeal to all the hopes of the people, and it spoke to their hearts. On top of that, her approach placed her in the moral high ground of a woman refusing to yield to evil; when put that way, it is difficult to disagree with her.” He pressed on his clicker once more, and the screens shifted to the image of a woman looking straight into a holocamera. Lines of blood flowed down her cheeks, but the fierce, warm expression on her face made the red streaks feel more like the war paint of the strong. “Her speech has gone viral and made headlines around the Trinity. Do you see now? It is not her death that mattered, but the way she died fighting for the people. This is why the journalistic pieces circulating around Trinity all focus on her lone stand and her speech, and not on her actual defeat,” Artanian concluded, his normally regal voice tinged with a hint of respect. In the past, Artanian had been disappointed in Captain Pipenko when she had chosen to retire after a difficult mission. He had thought that she was simply not strong enough to handle it. Now, his feelings on the matter were a little more complicated. As Artanian stepped back, the dissenting members around the table slowly began to nod in understanding. This was when the dark skinned Manu from earlier, Governor Kumbh, spoke up. “So what does this mean for us, Grand Judicator?” Artanian’s mouth quirked a notch. “Well, Governor Kumbh, that leads me to the next topic I wish to discuss. That is, our current knowledge of the Shrauta’s activities.” Now the datapads switched over to a map of Trinity, marked by several dots all across the city. “You all have been briefed beforehand on our current intel on the Shrauta during the initial briefing before the meeting, so I will not repeat it. However, in recent days we have received some disturbing reports. High Inquisitor Shah, could you elaborate for us?”
A woman stood up from her seat. Her deep purple eyes and horns curling out from the sides of her head immediately called attention to her Asura heritage, while the smooth features of her skin reminded those present that she was still half Manu. “Thank you, Grand Judicator. As the principal director of the Royal Bureau of Investigation, I had ordered a special investigation into the activities of the Shrauta immediately after they surfaced. Please take a look at the dots you see on the map in front of you. How many do you see there?” At a brief glance, there looked to be a few hundred. High Inquisitor Shah waited beat for her audience to fully catch up before dropping a bomb, “All those dots are reported Astra disappearances within the past week.” Several people inhaled sharply at that announcement, their attention suddenly focused. Given that Astras were so rare, and their intimate connection to recent events, a sudden development like this was very disturbing. “We believe that these disappearances are the result of the Shrauta’s activities. While it is unclear what their intent is, the fact remains that they are kidnapping Astras all across the city. In the worst case scenario, all of them are being converted to soldiers of their organization at this very moment. I hope that I do not have to explain how dangerous that would be.” “And that is why,” Artanian said as the High Inquisitor returned to her seat, “It is imperative that we take action soon. If we do not then we will suddenly find our population of Astras, already depleted after the collapse of the Seat of the Crown Conference Hall, to be nearly extinct. Fortunately, there is a proposal to do just that.” It was at this point that Artanian drew their attention to the various folders distributed around the table. They were rather unusual in that they were a physical document, a rarity in modern society. It lent them a weight that could not be replicated by digital means. “As an answer to your question from before the meeting, Governor Kumbh, we cannot simply resort to increased firepower. The fact remains that all combat operations will be conducted in highly populated urban territories. The utilization of mass armies and weapons will be not only ineffective and easily outmaneuvered, but will also have a high chance of civilian casualties. Obviously, that is not ideal.” There was a man who opened the folder in front of him, and whose eyes widened in interest. Artanian turned to this man with a small smile. “That is why the credit for our next approach goes to our esteemed colleague, Minister Ayodhya. You see, our analysis concludes that our own Astras will be the most effective combat force against these foes. They have the mobility needed to keep up with the Shrauta while also inherently possessing the power and durability to stand up against them. Thanks to the success of the original MADS team, we know this tactic to be highly effective,” he said.
“To that end, it is critical that we protect and train the Astras that we still have." It looked as if someone was about to raise an objection, however Artanian did not give them the chance to interrupt. "While it is certainly difficult to keep up with a foe as difficult as Ophelia, the self proclaimed ‘Mind’s Chosen,’ it cannot be the case that all their forces are as powerful as she," Artanian continued after a brief pause for effect. "Neither is it possible for her power to be as unlimited as she made the show of it being. Otherwise, why the drama? Why the terror attack in the first place? The fact is, they had to break the will of the people because they did not have the power to suppress them otherwise. They may put on a show of power, but they too have their vulnerabilities. With the right resources and right application, we can take advantage of that weakness.” He flipped open the folder in front of him to a specific page, and the members of the Royal Court followed his movement. “This is why I require your support, ladies and gentlemen of the Royal Court. All of yours. We are at war, and we cannot afford to leave our forces divided. We must band together and pool our resources to enact a fundamental paradigm shift; to produce an entirely new form of warfare and organization, centered around Astras at its core.” Now Artanian lifted his hand to reveal the words titled upon that page. There was a triangle-like symbol there, almost reminiscent of the letter 'A'. “Thus, ladies and gentlemen...allow me to present the A.S.T.R.A. Initiative to you.”
 
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Prologue End
GM - Prologue End
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Tags and Notes
Thank you for sticking with us to the conclusion of the prologue to the Astra Veda! This post will detail primarily metagame information on the events so far and the logistics of the future. We at the GM team are grateful to all of you for your commitment and contribution to the game so far, and we hope you have enjoyed it as much as we did!

@Seraph Darkfire @Graystone713 @Damafaud @_Line 213 @dwif @ChazGhost @Epiphany @WishlessSatellite @BlightGiver @June Verles @Dreawin @Spellsword_Kirov @Lucem Tenebris @Soviet Panda @simj22
The Prologue (Summary)
We kicked off this roleplay with the festivities of the historical Astra Conference, the first ever large-scale Astra-centric event in history. Many of you arrived in hopes of using this opportunity to connect with your community of fellow Astras, and better understand your strange role in society. It was during this celebration that a shadow moved through the crowds. Her name was Elvira, and she was a mysterious representative of the secretive Blue Lotus. She was on a clandestine mission targeting the heir to throne, Clarissa ‘Rissa’ Imperia, but for unknown reasons. During the course of this mission she came into contact with the infamous Remi ‘Recon’ Hassad, and decided to recruit him for the Blue Lotus. In time they came to better understand one another and formed the shaky foundations of a mutually beneficial alliance, but whether or not it will last remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the megacorporation Tesseract Medical Inc. announced the debut of a new product, the Astra Power Rater. After inviting Astra volunteers to come participate, they set up their demonstration as a press event to build publicity. Among these volunteers was the celebrity Maia ‘Ayodhya 1’ Asim, the most well known of the MADS Astra team and the most famous Astra in the entire city. As the first to volunteer, she was the first to be tested by the device. However, something went wrong during the test. The scanning chamber and machines reacted violently and went out of control, leading to a massive red explosion. The testing room ended up devastated, and all that remained was a dull red crystal on the floor. It was then that a fearful witness made his move. Valta ‘Kalinychta’ Zeiphim, a researcher awed by the power of the red energy, made a mad dash for the crystal in an attempt to claim it for himself. Unfortunately his ambitions backfired on him, and his strong emotions reacted with the crystal. As a result, Valta partially transformed into an enormously powerful shadow-like creature eager to destroy the world around him. It was only through the combined efforts of the Astras who survived the explosion that Valta was defeated. In the end, the Tesseract Exhibition ended with everyone involved being escorted to the Ministry of Central District Security Headquarters for questioning.
The Beginning of the End
During their transit, a calamity struck. That was the only word which could describe the natural disaster that was the woman named Ophelia, ‘The Mind’s Chosen’. She and her comrades, the Lightbearer and the High Priest, crashed the main event of the Astra Conference and violently seized control, all while being broadcasted on live holofeed. They announced that they were the Shrauta, a religious order devoted to gods they called ‘The Great Old Ones’. Their display of overwhelming power stunned onlookers for a brief moment, leaving them frozen in fear. Ophelia went on to proudly proclaim that the end was nigh, and that submission would be the only way to survive the apocalypse. For a moment, it seemed as if those present would give in. Then, amidst the crowd of kneeling spectators, one woman made her stand. She was Suzanne ‘Truthseeker’ Pipenko, a former member of the MADS Astra team and an elite warrior. While even her efforts proved fruitless against the might of the Shrauta, her ideals and unyielding determination in the face of darkness spoke to the hearts of the people. In the same way as a lighthouse, Suza’s brilliant display was a beacon of light in the cold, dark night—an ember which sparked a wave of renewed spirit across the city. She thereafter became known as the martyr Pipenko, and her image became extensively used as a tool for propaganda. Meanwhile, the Blue Lotus took advantage of the chaos following the attack at the Astra Conference. Now that Trinity is distracted, they have begun to mobilize their forces and commit to more decisive action, including extending their recruiting and outreach efforts. Although their official stance is to wait and let the Shrauta fight it out with Trinity, there are elements within their ranks that are dissatisfied with such inaction. In the days after the attack, Trinity was similarly forced to respond to this new threat. Therefore they decided that the most effective course of action would be to fight fire with fire, Astra with Astra, and so formed a new organization under the A.S.T.R.A. Initiative. It would be a collaborative effort among the many Royal Departments, a collection of power, knowledge, and resources from many different areas. Still, as a newly formed organization, they still have not learned to fully utilize those resources just yet, especially their most crucial asset: the Astras.
The Factions (You must choose one!)
You will be given the choice to side with two of the three main factions: the Blue Lotus and Trinity. The Shrauta are an exclusively villain faction, and thus not available to classic player characters. Additionally, you must choose a faction to side with—remaining neutral is not an option. We understand that this sounds restrictive, but we decided to use the faction system in order to make this game work. The fact is, there’s a lot of you, and it’s difficult enough to manage the game as is. Requiring us, the GMs, to also develop and execute storylines for individual neutral characters is infeasible. More to the point, being involved in the main conflict between the three main factions will inevitably lead to siding with one of them anyways. In that sense, we consider siding with a faction to be, at minimum, a fairly loose alliance. It simply means that your character will be working primarily alongside their faction and that faction’s characters; their reasons for doing so is primarily up to you. To help your muses, we have provided some possible reasons to join the two playable factions below.
The Blue Lotus
The Blue Lotus are an enigmatic organization with widely varying motivations, however their overall goal is to enact a dramatic upheaval in society and government to fix the systematic injustices that divide the people. Their actions are controversial, and may be interpreted as a terrorist movement or a rebellion. This faction would be well suited for anti-hero or anti-establishment characters, or those who would otherwise be unconvinced by the wide breadth of benefits offered by Trinity. Although it is true that their cause is fundamentally idealistic, their execution of the ideal can be rather drastic; they recognize the need to make hard decisions and sacrifices for the greater good. Consequently this organization is also well suited for jaded characters, or those characters who need to struggle with the consequences of their actions. Your character will be working closely with the Valkyries, a prominent cell of the Blue Lotus based in Central. They are led by the cyborg Sora Windrunner, and advised by the special agent known as Elvira. Your character may be approached by one of these two characters to join the organization, or you might be brought in through allies such as Remi ‘Recon’ Hassad. Whatever the case may be, upon joining your character will be trained extensively in covert action and combat training by the staff, and asked to conduct basic reconnaissance or intelligence gathering operations in preparation for larger goals. Elvira and Sora will personally ensure that your characters becomes a capable agent by imparting their elite skills and knowledge onto you. In the end, after the first six months of training, your character is expected to become a top asset for the Blue Lotus.
Trinity / The A.S.T.R.A. Initiative
Trinity has recently established a yet unnamed organization under the temporary operational title of the “A.S.T.R.A. Initiative”. Their offices have recruited staff from many departments across Trinity, all gathered together in the pursuit of one goal: defeating the Shrauta, and defending Trinity from other such threats in the future. Backed by the propaganda leveraging the late Suzanne Pipenko, they have acquired support in the public opinion of the people. Still, Trinity’s recent failures leave some doubt as to the organization’s efficacy, and so one major challenge for the people of this faction moving forward is proving that they can produce real results. The A.S.T.R.A. Initiative’s main selling points are their immense resources. As a direct beneficiary of the full support of the Government, funding is no issue. Therefore they are able to offer an extensive array of benefits to their organization, including generous salaries and full financial support for families and loved ones. Other benefits include full insurance coverage, an enormous set of support staff, social upliftment from the lower class to a position in the higher levels, and a pardoning of prior criminal activity in exchange for loyal service. In other words, anything reasonable—and sometimes unreasonable—is provided for. The reason for their generosity is simple; they are in desperate need of Astras. Despite boasting extensive resources, the A.S.T.R.A. Initiative is lacking in its most important asset: trained Astras. In light of the rapidly declining population of such individuals, they have been forced to resort to drastic action to retain them. Consequently, characters may join the A.S.T.R.A. Initiative purely out of self-interest. Whether it be in earning money, growing stronger, or simply avoiding the Shrauta hunting down Astras across the city, there are a wide variety of lucrative benefits to aligning with this faction. Nonetheless, Trinity is also well suited for hero-type and compassionate characters, pro-Government characters, or characters who are a lot like normal people. Your characters will all be assigned to the same unit, whose name and designation will be decided later on. Additionally, your characters will be extensively trained in a wide variety of combat operations and special actions for the first six months upon joining the organization. On occasion, you might be taken on routine missions to gain experience, but the training and development of its Astra resources is the top priority for the A.S.T.R.A. Initiative. After all, trained Astras are on a whole different level from their untrained counterparts.
Logistics
Make sure to check Discord for new developments on the factions, planning your characters entrance and associations, and other logistics. As you may have noticed, there are now tabs at the top of the thread which include threads for each faction. Please post primarily in the thread belonging to a particular character’s faction. The exception is for main story arcs, which will involve all the factions, and therefore be consolidated into a single thread instead of many. This is also the best opportunity for second characters to join if you are interested in one. Our next stage will be covering the six month training timeskip, where your characters will grow to become capable enough to handle the challenges further on in the storyline. After that, we will move into the next big arc. If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!
 
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