[Pre "Story's End"]


There's no rest for the wicked or the righteous. As the final military operation against the Lady shifts into high gear, Project Unification staff and civilian volunteers are streaming in and out of Saikhama to donate memory imprints to the crystalline weapon.

Dido Sybil has been hovering around the hanger bay where the Anti-Lady weapon is store. Observant people might see her take a few steps toward the memory copying station, then turn around and walk away, looking at something on her phone.

Finally, she sees and approaches you. "Hey," she says with a weak smile. "If you've got a free evening next week, could you do me a favor?" She chuckles nervously. "It's a doozy."


"I, Alexia Sybil, ask of you all!" Dido's mom proclaims. "In the world of Italian cuisine, what is the mightiest dish? Calamari? Chicken Alfredo? No, it is bell peppers; the spicier the better! Those who can eat these peppers whole are shining champions of taste! Those who cannot stomach them...should just order from the children's menu!"

You've tagged along with Dido to have Italian dinner with her billionaire mother. More specifically, you're dining in a zero-g Italian restaurant, located in the central torus of a space colony, where all the the food is broiled in raw sunlight focused by skyscraper-sized solar mirrors.

For an utterly posh restaurant, it's rather messy.

"Anyways," Alexia Sybil says, turning toward you. "Wont you tell me what my little Dido's been up to?" She grabs a stray pepper floating through the air and wolfs it down. "She never talks about her work at the Unity Group...or is it Project Unification now?"
[Alhambra was lost, and Loni once more allying himself with the Lady with all the Bad Things that entailed.  Not to mention Volya taking a hard knock for someone else... someone who, honestly Mizuki's going to think didn't deserve it.  Still...]

... We're not out of this.  Not just yet.  And better we only have to worry about Loni now than him and Illinka.

I can only hope on the other side, that Commander Antov has harsh words for her.

[The battle with the Great Black Void was over... and it had brought with it surprising revelations.  First... Mizuki's little brother had gotten all grown up, and Zankuro was trying now to desperately console his parents and tell them he still wanted to be treated like a little kid and go to kindergarten.  But Mizuki is in the infirmary, bandaged up and with a tiny little mechanical blackbird sitting on her shoulder.  With the DuskBird so thoroughly destroyed, all she could do was try to grow a new one.  But standing in a little balcony outside and looking at the Sun, she was noticing something, or rather something's absence.]

-It doesn't hurt.  The sunlight doesn't...

Quick, someone get me something to eat!  Anything... just... just what normal people would have!

[And one bite of a burger later though and Mizuki's already spitting it out.]

That's disgusting!  How can anyone eat something like that?!?

[But at the same time, no vomiting.  Seems the Abyss's victory over the Void has had an unexpected payoff.]

[An invitation for one and all: a celebratory dinner's being held at Solaris HQ for Mizuki's parents.  The gathering is comparatively small on the Solaris's end...but then again go figure, it's not a bustling organization anymore.  Still...]

We're not doing anything that's embarrassing right now, right?

You're fine, just-

Oh this would be just the time for something to get burned or the sprinklers to get set off or someone to have a surprise allergy to something, wouldn't it?

That's not going to happen!  Just relax and enjoy this!  This is supposed to be for you two and Zankuro!

I suppose you're right but...

No "buts".  Just sit down and enjoy this.  I know I am.

[Needless to say most of the food can look peculiar for anyone not versed in Abyssian eating habits.  Still, there's plenty of cooked mushrooms to be had, and a few selections off to the side for normal peoples' consumption.  And in spite of her parents oft-embarassing behavior... Mizuki's nothing but smiles as she sits with them, talking, catching up, filling them in on details of things Unity Group members are mentioning.  What did you expect?  They're a family... with one more on the way.]


[Later that night though, an explosion rocks Solaris HQ, alarms screeching one after another as security tries to figure out what happened.]

Something's in the building!

Systems say...  that blast was focused on the residential quarters!

[Residential?  But that could mean-]

Mom!  Dad!

[But what she finds is a massive gaping hole, with the epicenter being her parents' quarters.  Both lying on the floor, unconscious or possibly dead... but the real thing to worry about is the thick, spreading mass of darkness.]

A͎̥̘̫̥̗̜n͉͍͚̘̲̖͘d̷̘͓̘͎̳ ͚̺̩̺̞̲͓t̞͠h҉̙͈͉͍̜͕e̶̘̣ ̛͈͓ͅt̮̦͖̦̜̦͘ͅh͖̬̲̟i҉̜̺̥̲̰r̖͞ḍ ̮̣͈̥̖̺o̹̝̫̰̥f ͕̤̫̕t͉̥̗͇̞̣̞͡h̩e͜ ̗͍̖̖̤ͅͅu̮̪͍̣̙n̞͉̜̦̥ͅf͔̦̗͔̖͢ͅi͔̜̤̟͕̠͢ͅn͓͟i̯̖͢ṣ̵̳͖̗̬̮h͇͉e͍͇̬͇d̹̫͡ ͙f̤a͓̺̹̺i̞͍̼͈̰̠̦l̙̗̗u̡̹͎̻̼̰r̟̝̗e̶͙̯s͉̭͢ ̼͈̖͕̪͡ṣ̼̝̯̰̠̪h̖̼o̺̪͖̭w̢̜͚͈̘̯s̵̭̹͉͖̮ ̳͙̻̻̺͖͎i̛̙̦͇̰ţ̘͚̳̲s̱̤e̙ͅl̮͚̺͍̀f͎̬̥.̝̦͈̣̹͞

And something bad does happen! )


Aftermath )

Heroes and then their enemies.  Dark Lords, evil guilds, cults...  They all come in different shapes and sizes, don't they?

[The talk about the Lady and her stories, and Unification as well has stirred a sense of nostalgia in Mizuki.  An array of children and YA book, the type she and Sara read as a child are spread all over a table.  Her own favorites had been the less serious ones wherein the hero and the Demon Lord would somehow end up as companions, be it romantic or otherwise.  Sometimes there were misunderstandings, sometimes greater threats, and sometimes both of them still had a lot of growing up to do.  And in one case...]

Even ones when the author doesn't realize the hero's worse than any of the villains.

[But then-]

I'll say, but Mizuki, quickly!  Make room!

Dad?!?  What are you-

Mizuki, please!  Oh we were hoping to show you and you even have a table set up but then you had to just cover it up with so many books!

[So says her mother, coming in with a humongous wheelbarrow stuffed with "how to" books and DVDs and audio players about parenting and families in general.]

We got here as soon as we can... and the news... it's just so wonderful!  Everyone in Solaris is overjoyed!

News?  News about what?
The not-so-Earthshaking news )

The evening after Halloween, while a spooky atmosphere still fills the air, Dido Sybil invites her friends, allies and workmates to a campfire cookoff in the little forest by Saikhama base.

Together, the party builds a merrily crackling fire in a stone-ringed pit. Hot Dogs and Marshmallows are toasted on sticks and harmonicas are played.

As the sun recedes behind the trees, and shadows gather around the flickering campfire, Dido pulls out a flashlight and shines its beam under her chin.

"Gather round, gather round," she proclaims in a gravely voice. "Don't stray from the light, for we're going tell spooky stories tonight–!"

In a more cheerful voice, she continues: "So who wants to go first?"


Eventually, it's Dido's turn. "As bizarre as it sounds," she says, "this is a true story."

Dido clears her throat. "When I was a child, I lived in a skyscraper, a mansion of glass and steel run by my mother. Back then, mom was always flying off to business meetings in the Sprawl or working late hours in the office, so I spent a lot of time alone. Whenever I got restless, I'd explore the skyscraper, wandering up and down stairs, poking my head into various rooms, riding up and down the dumbwaiters. The skyscraper was huge, and I rarely ever ran into anyone."

Dido pauses for effect. "One night, I was walking down a hallway...and realized I was being followed by a blue ball..."


[Tell your own spooky campfire tale here! It can be a classic spine-tingler featuring psychopaths who leave hooks dangling on car doors, or something from your character's childhood or unique folklore tradition?]

[Pre- "Shine-Tommorow, Shine Forever"]

Solaris and the Unity Group is gearing up for a big military op, and things are busy at Saikhama Base. Ammo and repair parts are being shipped in by the bushel, and the air is filled with smoke as mechanics work round-the-clock to overhaul the Mechas in the hanger.

Suddenly, a mat-black shuttle with a ”日“ logo flies into the open hanger bay and lands like a UFO. As the shuttle lands, Dido looks up from her welding job; her eyes widen, and she drops her tools and books it for the nearest exit.

A ramp lowers from the shuttle, guards with sunglasses and turtlenecks file out, and a imperious, well-dressed woman strolls out and sweeps her gaze along the hustle and bustle of the base.

She sniffs in contempt. "So this is the Unity Group: humanity's strongest heroes. But really, can a group devoted to protecting others be said to have true strength?"

[Cut for long, borderline Objectivist speech.]

Read more... )

"...therefore, should we not–?"

The classy woman notices you inching away. "Oh!" She exclaims. Dropping her speech mid-sentence, she walks over to you, grabs your hand, and shakes it vigorously.

"You're Dido's friend, right? I've heard so much about you!" She chirps in a bubbly tone. "Do you know if she's around?"


While Alexia Sybil is chatting with people, two other well-dressed members of the Sybil family slip out of the shuttle and wander through the hanger bay.

Read more... )


Dido burst through the door of the room you are in, slams the door shut, then leans against it in a panic!

"Oh gods, it's them it's them it's them!" She wheezes. Her eyes focus on you. "You!" She wheezes. "Hide me, now!"

Do you help Dido hide?
[Well, someone's back at the Unity Group bases... though her return's kinda dour on account of all the bullshit that just happened.  And the newly-returned DuskBird's already showing a godawful amount of damage on account of Loni's breakout.]

I wish my return would've been a happier, less bloody occasion.  Needless to say though, SolSavior is ready to fight again though... and I apologize for the... 'deception' that was spread regarding the DawnBird.  Initially creating it had been the plan, but partway through a better alternative had been found in using a regulator, and thus it became a project to develop the 'QuasArmor'.  I didn't know myself until the design was nearly complete, and ultimately it was decided to continue as if the DuskBird were to be replaced.  We were hoping Sara and the Indalph would think us vulnerable and attack, and that suspicion proved true.

But now though...

Anyone who wants to loose Loni and his friends on the world is a danger to everyone.  And considering what happened to Commander Antov... diplomacy won't get us anywhere with them.  Not anymore.
[So Mizuki's on the phone, talking with someone at home.  And things are pretty standard until-]

... You're kidding.  They actually pulled it off?!  That's- right.  I understand but that's one more hurdle cleared.

I have some things to tie up here, but I'll be heading back to HQ shortly.

And thanks Mom.  This was... the kind of news I'd never think I'd hear.



So Solaris contacted me a bit ago.  The DawnBird's nearing completion and we've managed to contact an old pilot interested in coming back for "one last ride" as it were.  It won't be long until SolSavior'll be back in action, and living up to its name finally too.

I'll be heading back to accompany them with the finishing touches, and also to "donate" the combination servos on the DuskBird.  And after that... well, we'll have to wait and see.

[2] (locked to people Mizuki has good CR with)


[Before it was a big group-wide broadcast.  Now though, it's just the Abyss Empress finding you at some quiet point.]

How're you holding up?


A few weeks after the destruction of the Ladies' Good Men, and a week after the final fight with the Kijin, Dido tightens her grip on the controls, eyes narrowed, teeth bared.

"I can't give up now!" She declares. "I won't despair! If I stand by justice, and keep moving forward, a way will open up! I know it will–Aw Fudge! Fudge! C'mon! Fudge! That combo's broken! This boss is OP! Cheap! Hax!"

On the arcade game's screen, Dido's Qipao-wearing character twitches helplessly in the throes of hit-stun, then flies back across the stage. "K.O.!". The boss character, clad in a sharp business suit and fish-crested gladiator helmet, folds his arms and laughs."Pathetic! You're ten years too early to beat me!".

Dido's bloodshot eyes twitch. "I'll wipe that grin off your face!" She shouts, fishing quarters from her pocket.

For god's sake, someone drag her away!


[Private Chat, locked to Mizuki]

"Yo, 'Zuki!" Dido pops up on your tablet screen, shadows under her eyes, a grease stain on her chin. "Could I ask you for a favor?"


[Private chat, sent to Ken, Hetepheres, Sarah and Peola]

Dido pops up on your tablet screens, looking chipper and extremely energized. "I challenge you to hand-to-hand mecha combat!"

[So many revelations brought on inside of the Lady's Good Men's base of operations.  Ingram and that impostor Calico.  The Lady herself.  But on a more personal note...]

... He... was right.

On our own, the Savior machines have done decently enough, but whenever we've combined things have rarely gone well.  And it's getting worse and worse...

[Sara nearly disabling the machine with such ease.  SolEraser trashing the machine once, and her own self-destructive attempt to defeat it the second time.  And now SolSavior's strongest attack more a threat to its pilots than anyone else.  The cuts, bruises, bandages, and bloodstains on Mizuki's clothing do not paint an uplifting picture.]



Everyone... I've made a decision.  It's entirely mine and mine alone, but...  In light of what we did... what happened out there I mean...

I'm stepping down from being a member of the Savior team.  I won't be leaving the Unity Group or Solaris, but... but I've gone as far as I can, done as much as I can to make the idea work.  But I guess the Lady's Good Men weren't the only ones at odds with the laws of reality.

Also, just to test the water... do you think "DawnBird"... would make a good name?  For a replacement machine?  Solaris's already made two new mechs... one more should be doable.
[So.  Even though SolSavior's second encounter with SolEraser didn't go as well as everyone would've liked, it still had a perfectly good showing against the Lady's Good Men without falling apart or anything.  So clearly things were in the clear, right?  Wrong.  A new group of mechanics have come in from Solaris, performing more work on the DuskBird.  And Mizuki's getting in a heated discussion with her father.]

- But the last time we formed there wasn't any problem!  And for that matter the time we broke down it took me using the Sol Salvation and drawing out all of my-

That doesn't mean the threat's not there.  After we heard from Ken's parents about how that second battle against SolEraser went, we got worried.  Started looking more closely at the data gathered from when the DuskBird combines with the other machines.  And Mizuki, I'm... sorry.  Nobody was blind to the risks of mixing Sol and Void energy together, but what we say, it's... this is...

...... Dad......

Don't lose your nerve here.  You were supposed to be my adviser.

... As you say.  Very well then.

The findings, needless to say, were not heartening.  Sol and Void energies are contradictory, we've always known that since the earliest days of our conflict.  And having a machine draw on both would be like have an individual with both forces flowing in their veins.  If it could've been done safely that would've been one thing, but... our hopes were ill-placed.  The energies are in conflict, forcing each other below a certain threshold lest they destroy SolSavior... and what you experienced during your second battle against SolEraser was the result of you trying to push past that.

And that's just the machines themselves.  Flesh and blood aren't as easily mended as servos and conduits.  This isn't something that can just be powered through either; when one burns a hand it doesn't become more resistant to flames for the next encounter.   Just now you called me your adviser... so please heed my advice: your last combination didn't lead to tragedy, yes, but if you continue one of them will.  Or your bodies may fail you in between battles without warning.

But Dad... after that incident we've all pressed on and are doing fine.  It's not as if we're doubling over with pain or-

And that's exactly it!  We don't want that happening period!  Salanshiel, myself, Director Harper, Ken's parents, everyone!

[There's a pause as Zangango collects himself again.]

I'm sorry for that outburst, but it's true.  The deaths of the Balmung Team hang over Solaris's heads, even your mother's and mine.  I wouldn't be a good father if I just let this run the risk of happening.  So...

You're... not going to make us stop piloting, are you?

No, but we're not going to let the three of you pilot a ticking time bomb.  Not when it's endangered all three of you once already.  That's what they-

[He gestures at the mechanics.]

-Are there for.  SolSavior cannot be treated as a reliable weapon because... it isn't.  It never was, and we were well-intentioned but naive and unaware of the dangers it could pose.  Forming it now will require two overrides... one from Director Harper and one from the Unity Group's higher-ups... and only in times of absolute need where its strength would make the difference between life and death.

Please understand, Mizuki.  It's bad enough worrying some times when you're fighting out there.  It's another thing entirely knowing that SolSavior could wind up killing you.

... I'm sorry.

[Mizuki has no words for her father.  Just a nod and resting a hand on his shoulder to show that she'll comply.  But when she looks back up at the DuskBird and its Sol-aligned companion mechs...]

... Ten years supporting each other and still this happens...

[And thus she storms off.  Wouldn't this just be delightful news for Sara with all her talk of the limitations of heroes?]
[Dated after "The Prioress"]


"Whoah, whoah! Chill out, dudes! I get it: hands off!"

While walking through the hanger, you look up to see Dido getting frog-marched out of a high security bay area that currently holds the Saber units, two security guards on each side gripping her shoulders and forearms. They roughly release her and walk off.

Dido stumbles, sets down the oil-can she was carrying, and dusts herself off. "Dammit. Why can't people take an honest bribe these days?"

Ask her what's going on?


After maintenance hours, when everyone's gone home for the night, you stumble across Dido lying on her back atop a set of boxes, taking puffs from...something burning inside a roll of paper.

She sighs, and then sits up, starring at the ground. "Dammit..." You hear her mutter. "This is what happens when you try and act like Mom..."

She spies you coming and hastily flicks the burning roll paper behind her. "Ah...Hey! Fancy seeing you here! How, uh, are you?""

A few weeks before Christmas, as snow drifted and fell, as families went shopping and store Santas rang bells, the Unity Group was in a pinch and poke, for they'd little money for Christmas: in fact they were broke! A greedy teenage miser had stolen their cash, to get a new super robot after his old one's crash! Twas few funds for wreaths, for trees, or mistletoe: towards mecha repairs it all had to go!

In light of this, the stalwart tech Dido Sybil slipped on her parka, and packed her wrenches and drill.

She drove to a junkyard by an SDF base, filled with rusty machine parts from the army and aerospace. With a clatter and clang, she dug out one pile of rusty limbs and jet engines, seeking something worthwhile.

Perhaps you followed her, or were already there: would you like to say Hi, or continue to stare?


[Locked to Ken.]

A week before Christmas, when duties were light, with no Kaiju to slaughter or alien empires to fight, Brave Ken Torao, teenage Ninja supreme, stepped in ScarleTiger's cockpit, to train for his team.
Read more... )


[Shortly later, open to everyone]

A quick search soon reveals the culprit most cruel...
Read more... )

[When she awakes, Mizuki finds herself no longer in the DuskBird and the battle is long since ended.  The second battle with SolEraser, and her desperate, last attempt at taking the machine down... it's still fresh in her mind.  But she's in the infirmary, bandaged and with whatever deep see-based medicines the Unity Group had on-hand in case they were needed.  She felt... weary.]

What happened out there?

[And it's then that the medical staff gets to break the news to her.  About just what happened to SolSavior and the power it had unleashed.]

-But if I'd done that much to SolSavior itself, then...

Oh God!


[And some time later, Mizuki is just, lying in a sobbing heap nearby Ken and Dido's beds.  It was the SolBalmung incident all over again... there was just a hard limit to how much Void energy a human being can be exposed to and Ken and Dido had skirted dangerously close to it.  She had done this.  She had brought forth all the power of the Abyss Empress to bring down on the Eraser team, but it was her own friends and comrades that'd paid the price for it.  SolSavior itself lay wrecked even more than before, and this too was her doing.  And even if her body was in better shape now, her mind...]

Stop it...

[It's barely above a whisper.]

Stop congratulating me... all of you!  I'm not Marianas!  I'm not here to cause suffering!  I didn't want... I never wanted any of this!

[SolSavior's seen better days.  Lots of them.  Even the fight with Sara had confined the damage to mostly just SolSavior's joints and more vulnerable spots, whereas this scuffle with Sol"Eraser"'s seen much of the true and honest Sol machine pushed to the limit]

The Shadow Mirrors and the Indalph... united in desires for conflict and conquest.  Justify war to provide a reason for technological advancement and growth, and just move from world to world so you're never short on supply.  I wouldn't be surprised if the Shadow Mirror's own world just drove them away...

Certainly would explain why they didn't try coming to us asking for help... or the Indalph doing anything for them either, come to think of it.

Or maybe they really just don't care.  They certainly all have a trend for disregarding the weak and undesired.


[And yet the Savior team weren't the ones that got the roughest fate out there.  The memorial for fallen pilots has a new entry, and double agent status be damned...]

... Lamia...

[Mizuki's still going to pay her respects.]

I wish the circumstances of... everything... could've been better.  For your sake.

Wherever you are, whatever afterlife exists for... whatever you were... rest well.  When it came to it, you were our friend, not the Shadow Mirror's tool.  And we'll see them pay for what they did to everyone, you included.

[Post Workshop in Flames]


Those of you who like to walk the halls of Saikhama Base might hear the faint sound of 20th century (old calendar) power ballads in the distance.

Follow this enticing music, and you come across Dido Sybil, putting in her daily training regimen with the Gebians.

A flurry of baseballs get hurled at her from all directions, thrown by the arms and mandibles of beetle people. Competently, if not gracefully, she sidesteps out of their way and slaps the ones she misses out of the air, jaws set and eyes focused.

Talk to her? Or, since she's distracted, prank her?


[Locked to Dido's Scary Super-Soldier Training Instructors]

You get a message on your comm channels from Dido.

"Could I start training in Zero-G maneuvering?" She asks.


[Locked to Ken and Mizuki]

Dido meets you guys in the cafeteria. "Say...could we talk a moment?" She asks.

[Dated to a few weeks after "Keep Away"]

Those of the Unity Group who like to creep about the Saikhama base at night may hear faint sounds of grinding and hissing come from the main hanger deck.

Those who investigate this discover two things.

One, all the mechs that fought in the latest battle have been completely repaired. Not just the standard limb reattachment and armor replacement: they've also had new paint jobs and their scratches ground out!

Second, Dido Sybil is at the controls of a huge lathe and machining device, grinding out some kind of component from alloy stock. Sparks fly, and she gazes at her work with eyes shadowed from a grim mood and lack of sleep.



The next morning, Dido is still in the hanger, hanging from a work harness like a narcoleptic rock climber, and rocking side to side like a baby in a crib.

She snores as you approach, and has a bit of dribble on her chin.

Wake her up?


The next next morning, Dido's out at a nearby abandoned airstrip, running some wires from a strange metallic cylinder in the middle of the field to a concrete bunker.

She looks up at you. "What are you doing here? Nevermind, get in the bunker with me!" She grins. "This should be cool!"

Get in the bunker with her? Ask what the heck's going on?

[What's this?  A sound-only transmission coming from a PROGTECH base?  That's kinda odd...]

Hey... you there?  Solaris hasn't ducked out from helping the Unity Group, right?


Sara?  Sara is that you?!?

Good to finally hear your voice too, Mizuki.  After what I've been through... well, it's nice talking to a being of darkness that isn't pure evil and all that.  For that matter, one with some brains.  I'm sorry for making you worry though... it's quite a story to tell  and I'm not exactly in any condition to tell it just yet.  I'll do what I can to see you soon though, or maybe you guys can drop by for a visit or just whatever.

We can do that... we can definitely do that!  Sara, after what happened-

I know.  But it's over now.  And it's good to be back.  Don't suppose you could get me in touch with some of the other people here though?  I'm sure they'd like to hear from me too.


[After Keep Away]

[The DuskBird's in bad shape when it finally arrives back at Sakihama.  It's still mostly there, just... lacking a sense of structure.  Joints.  Like parts of itself just coil up together under its own weight.  And Mizuki herself...?  Well-]


[... She just sent her first into a metal door and left a bulging dent.]

She actually...

She was better than this.  She knew better than this!  She saw all through her childhood battles and sacrifices and...

... And what comes afterrwards...


[Locked to Ken]

One sunny, lazy afternoon, you receive a communique from your mechanic.

"Hello, is this thing transmitting...? Hey Ken! Dido here! I set up a bunch of equipment in Hanger 3 for measuring Sol Energy and medical readouts!

Wanna experiment with Ki sensing and manipulation, like we talked about? I've got some cool experiments planned out! And protein bars, if you're hungry!"


[Open to everyone, particularly aliens, monsters, Ki-wielding martial artists, and dour pilots with demon arms!]

Those of you who find yourselves walking along one of the Saikhama base hallways stumble across an interesting sight!

Ken, the Ninja boy wonder, is sitting on a mat on the north side of the hall, wearing a blindfold and headphones. Dido stands by him, clutching a small walkie talky. She speaks into it as you pass by:

"Okay, Ken: does this person have any Ki? Describe what it feels like aloud! Any colors, tastes or, uh, tingles to it?"

[Feel free to describe what Ken senses with his fledgling Ki-sense...or even if he senses anything]
[The excursion to Russia proved... eventful, just in all the wrong ways.  Volya's uncle was dead, the poor boy himself went through hell at the hands of Lilica, and then there were the Lady's Good Men and Loni's group compounding the insanity.  Still, the death toll could've been much, much worse.  And SolSavior itself certainly helped kick butt out there, and stand up to enemies Mizuki knew she wouldn't have been able to otherwise.]

... Just how hard is it to have sane priorities in a situation like that?

I thought it was obvious, but between the Knights and Loni... I'm not so sure.
1.[Up on Star Rose-it's school fieldtrip time! A bunch of kids and a few chaperones are wandering around the shopping and observation decks, getting their first views of SPACE! Actual, real life space! This isn't a particularly strange occurance, but one of the chaperones is familiar to the UG people-it's Sarah, that woman who's always trying to kill Volya. And right now, she's watching a bunch of kids stare out a window at the earth below.]

Still beautiful, huh...
After the battle in Paradigm City, the Sol Machine known as ShelLancer trudges it's way back into the hanger bay, docks in a gantry, and powers down

A weary figure in mechanic's overalls clambers out of the cockpit, and after a bit of flailing, descends on one of the cherry picker platforms.

"What the heck was I thinking?" Dido groans, slumping down onto a bench. "I panicked, made stupid calls. And that Decepticon leader thinks I'm a turtle ninja transformer now...!"

She smiles. "...but Hot Damn, I saved some lives out there! Not bad, Dido. Not bad at–"

She looks up at ShelLancer...and finally notices the major damage it's taken: melted armor, broken off spikes, and an endless amount of scratches and dents. All of which needs to be fixed.


So many people have died recently. So many people have gotten horribly hurt. And they've all left behind the wreckage of their mechs like grave markers. Fort Alhambra is swarming with technicians and engineers of every stripe and color, some working overtime, others hastily summoned back from vacation or from other UG branches.

Dido's in the thick of things, a welding rig slung over her back as she orders tech about.

"I need ScarleTiger's arm hoisted on the gantry and ready to be reattached, stat! You, you, and you: start putting Pale Rider back together. Yeah, I know you've done it before, that's why I'm trusting you with it! The rest of you, put Virgola Unit 3 and Gipsy Danger into storage–we'll deal with them after crunch-time's over!"

She turns to face you, and her bossy expression fades to fatigue. "Hey. Did you need anything?"


[Locked to Mizuki, as well as Ken potentially]

After a long day's work, Dido's kicking back with you, holding a cool bottle of beer to her over-heated head. The refurbished Sol Machines loom overheard in their gantries. DuskBird, ScarleTiger, ShelLancer. She stares up at them for a time, then turns to you and asks.

"Could you tell me about SolBalmung?"


A comn transmission is posted on the Network, addressed to every Unity Group Pilot who's built a reputation as a stone-cold badass.

"Hi." Dido says simply, scratching her head. "I need to become a better mecha pilot. Could you train me?"
[The battle against the NUNE wound up spiraling into other things... which entailed the first formation of Solaris's newest, strongest combiner: SolSavior.  The same machine now returning to the Sakihama Base, triumphant after kicking serious ass.  Reason to celebrate?  Not this time.]

Sara... you...

... Don't be dead out there.  Please don't be dead!  You... we're... the Savior team... and if you're gone then nothing will...

[Yeah, she's been like this ever since the first battle with a new threat -the Indalph- ended.  The Director's granddaughter -her best friend no less- missing and possibly held prisoner, though most likely dead.]

Dido... I'm sorry.  Putting you in danger like that, ordering you to launch with Sara's machine... that's not what you signed up for.

This isn't anything like I thought would...


[Mizuki's going about her business recently exclusively wearing her Abyss Empress clothing... and anyone in the Sakihama Base's hangar will notice the DuskBird's got several Solaris mechanics working on it virtually around the clock.  But more importantly-]




[Even if she's just walking down the hall, the Abyssian is frequently wincing or reacting to unseen sources of pain.  And then-]


Free meal y/n? )

[It's the early evening at Alhambra when the one and only Abyss Empress makes her arrival via TSEN.  She's also wearing a more modern and sensible dress than the ones she ends up sporting whenever she invokes the Abyss Sanction.]

So I'm here to pick up my date for the evening... assuming he didn't forget.

[Whee for the aftermath of this thread.  Anyone who wants to tag along in seekrit, discussing stuff with each other is free to do so, as is pre-date discussions!]

[Backdated to just before "War of Myths"]

Sometime in the wee hours of the evening, a large, unmarked flatbed trailer rolls it's way into grounds of Saikhama base, parking itself in the hanger bay by an unused mech gantry. The moment the trailer stops, orange suited technicians rush out of the side doors and pull the tarp off of Solaris's latest creation:


As they begin to hoist the mech up to a standing position with cranes, one of the technicians takes a step away, looks around, and sees some familiar faces.

She waves with her clipboard. "YO! Mizuki my girl! Miss Harper! Look what I brought for you guys!


[After "The War of Myths Mission"]

In the wake of the battle with ancient gods, the senior Solaris technician looks up at the fearsome ScarleTiger, newly baptized in battle.

Specifically, she's staring slack-jawed at the various bit's of damage it's suffered.

Finally, she groans and turns away.

"Nope. NoNoNope. Screw it; I'll fix it tomorrow."

[In one of the smaller lesser used workout rooms Yuuya is busy working over a heavy bag with a particular fervor.]

I try to point out the flaws in her logic to help her and she turns it back to an attack on me. Just like Yui, her little flunky Ken, and half the goddamned Japanese personnel here. Support crew talking like they think I can't understand while Yui's got me on her damned leash and not saying word one to them about it.

[He proceeds to move from the bag to free-weights.]

So what if I don't match their little happy world views and want to keep grounded in a realistic frame of mind. That's a "poisonous" attitude? I guess that's what my grandfather meant about being underhanded and untrustworthy with their attacks. So what if Volya was "saved" from his attackers and given a healthy place to finish growing up in. In the end he's going to have to stand up and fix things himself like every kid who's stuck in a poor situation. Not like he has to worry about a loveless family being the only thing outside of military service that he'd have to return to and at least he seems to remember more than one member of his family fondly. People are willing to support and help him not worry about a superior who makes inordinate demands and then quotes pretty little "proverbs" instead of actually useful advice.

[Yuuya pauses momentarily as he sets his weights down on a bench his breath ragged due to the length and intensity of his workout. He looks up into the mirror and glares as he tried ]

And worst of all is this damned appearance. I've shed tears and blood for the American forces, pushed myself to live up to their standards and expectations but to everyone else I'm Japanese. The Russians with their damned interrogators, Yui and her opinion of how disgraceful I am, Ken and his stupid "Japanese Pride" and Mizuki with her stupid maybe the Japanese person most in need of getting chewed out by you is the one waiting for you in the mirror

"I'm American god damn it! Stop holding me to the stupid standards of a country and father that I never knew you bastards!"

[With the last audible outburst Yuuya threw the weight into the mirrored wall, turned to deliver a kick to the sand bag that manages to add just enough momentum to it's swinging that knocks the stand off balance and tumbling into another rack of free weights. Turning on his heel he begins to leave, a look of frustration and anger on his face that is tinged by something else underneath.]


[Entering the workout room you see broken glass and spilled equipment. One of the Maintenance staff for the TSF teams is just beginning to clean up and you can hear him speak with a resigned sigh.]

"Damn it Yuuya, I thought you were past this type of shit. Guess someone managed to finally get to him again, haven't seen him do this since Leon started shit after his mother's death. I wish he'd at least have the decency to do these rages where it wasn't so heavy to fix things."

[3 -Locked to Mizuki]

[Mizuki is disturbed in her office by Vincent entering and closing the door behind him.]

So for someone so concerned about Volya and being a great savior you managed to turn someone who was trying to offer some reasonable advice in a rather sanctimonious way into quite the little ball of anger and self-loathing.

I know what he said wasn't the best phrased and playing devil's advocate with a human life is in poor form but really how many of his concerns were at least valid on some level. So I'm not going to be upset about you dismantling his arguments and calling him on his hypocrisy.

What I am upset about is that after our discussion where I came to you on behalf of Ken and the efforts of myself and Lt. Takamura to keep an official reprimand from falling on his record and you took that warning that his heritage is a sore point and purposely attacked it. Yes he's been an asshole and yes his fight with Ken was stupid but taking that kind of attack when you knew how it would hit him was unnecessarily cruel.

I had at some point hoped that you're history and being accepted into the Japanese culture could help him which is why I sought you out after the fight to talk. Now I'm just disappointed and more than anything would like to know why you'd have done that to him.

[When the DuskBird returns to Sakihama Base and is dispelled back into Mizuki's shadow, the woman's limping and wincing.  And also in strange, regal apparel.  Black silks with gold embroidery, necklaces, a sash... lots of fancy stuff she didn't go out in.  And Sara's standing there, looking shocked and running to her friend's side.]

Mizuki...!  My god, with what happened out there.  You and Ken and... and everyone!  Don't... scare me like that!  Please!

I'm fine, I'm fine... just got a little taste of what some of my predecessors had to deal with.  And believe me... I'm glad to see a Sara who ISN'T trying to kill me.

[So have a friendly hug... just a noisy one because, again, all that jewelry.]


[Some time later though...]


So... I was thinking...

... How do people feel about the word "Savior"?  Like the "Savior Team"... or "SolSavior".

[The stuff with Ken's fistfight and the discussion that followed has left Mizuki with some things to seriously mull over as she walks the halls of the Sakihama base.  Her DEEP IN THOUGHT look's only undermined by the cup of some... thing in a salty broth she's occasionally slurping.]

... Director, I hope you know what you're doing, sending him here when he's like this.  Then again...

Beggars can't be choosers, can they?  Just hope he gets his head on straight, for everyone's sake.


[It's time for someone else to make a formal introduction.  Or rather, two special someones!]

Couldn't keep putting this off now could we?  At any rate, it's been nice to meet all of you so far.  My friend here is Sara Harper, director of the Solaris orgnization-

And my friend here is none other than Mizuki Onodera, the Abyss Empress herself!  Sworn enemy of all beings who live on this-


[We apologize for the technical difficulties that ensue, but when the video comes back, Sara's off in the corner laughing uncontrollably while Mizuki does her best to do damage control.]

Sorry about that.  Sara and I go way back, and you know how things get with longtime friends.  But as I was going to say, if you're not familiar with Solaris, that's just because the organization hasn't been very relevant for the past ten years or so.  We came here to help Solaris get back on its feet again, even if its glory days are long past and it'll just be supporting the Unity Group.  So long as people'll be able to afford college tuition for their kids and have pensions come retirement we'll be happy.

As for me personally?  Well I'm "The Abyss Empress".  An empress without an empire.  A potential enemy-turned-ward for Solaris who's all grown up now and just wants to do what she can to repay the people who decided to take her in rather than kill her when they had the chance.  Anyone wanting the full story's welcome to it if they ask.
 1. [On a fine, clear day outside, music can be heard drifting through the air. The sound of a cello can be heard gently drifting through the air. If someone bothers to track it down, they'd find a beautiful, elegant-looking woman practicing on the instrument, while her maid stands nearby.]

Oh, good morning. Can I help you with something?

2. [Kanae's other main way to spend time early on? Shooting. Not at a firing range, either, but outside. She's shooting skeet, and any wildlife that happen to wander into her sight.]

You know Sayo, I don't think I'll ever get entirely used to guns...The noise, the smoke, that odd tingle that runs up your spine as the bullet slams into your target...

[BAM, down goes a bluebird.]
1. [video]
[After the formal announcement, a broadcast goes around the Unity Group's networks, flagged as to-whom-it-may-concern. The video's of a young woman, auburn-haired and early twenties, wearing a uniform which those versed in Spacenoid politics may recognize as belonging to the militia of Erewhon, a neutral scientific colony.]

Now that we're officially a team, I should say hello. Lieutenant Catherine Butler, with the Erewhon Colonial Defense Forces. My sister and I will be operating out of the Star Rose for the time being, at least until it's time for ground trials. It's our hope that the Rose, the mobile suit we're testing here, will be an able to support to you all.

I look forward to working with you, and I expect we'll see you around.

[Short and to the point - though if you want more detail, Cathy's online for responses.]

2. [video]
[Just after that first broadcast comes another, marked as related. The person in this video is a slightly younger-looking woman with long black hair, wearing civilian clothes and a less formal expression.]

Hello! I'm the sister Cathy mentioned. Elizabeth Butler, but you can call me Liz. I'm really looking forward to meeting and working with everyone!

I'm online a lot, so don't hesitate to get in touch. You might see some of my drones around, too, so wave if you do! I'm just a warrant officer, so there's no need to stand on ceremony, don't worry. And if you want to know more about the Rose, I'm always happy to show off!

[As with her sister's broadcast, Liz shows up as ready to respond.]

3. Star Rose hangar
If you find yourself physically visiting the Star Rose, you may see the pair working on their machine in the hangar! Or - well, no, you see Cathy, apparently alone, working on and around a bold red mobile suit. Technical types will note it's an unusual design, with many non-standard features of interest. Cathy's directing a team of technicians setting up the surrounding gear and maintenance infrastructure, and putting the MS through its paces in launch exercises.

And over the next few days, Cathy can be seen around and about not just the Star Rose but Sakihama and Alhambra too, clearly exploring. Checking out the hangars and machines, curiously investigating the living spaces and surroundings, and tucking in to whatever the staff recommend as the most distinctive local specialties in the mess halls.
In Alhambra base, you can see a man in military uniform standing in front of some sort of coffee machine.

"They installed an automatic coffee dispenser..."

He turns toward you and cries out dramatically.

"I'm in despair! The way human easily substituted the art of coffee making for automated, mechanized coffee-making device has left me in despair!"