It is time. Shadow falls on Sakihama's exterior - the colossus rises. The Discovery of Self floats up in gravity-defying flight: in preparation for its final voyage.

"Locks are clear, all systems green. Only a fraction of Discovery's functionality is restored, but what is back with us works fine - looks like now we can go anywhere."

"Impressive. And it doesn't end on just being a floating rock, hmm? I must say, the Lady's in for a surprise of the lifetime."

"Not if she or her minions manage to blow it up before it reaches her, Commander. The Discovery of Self isn't going in all by itself, Project Unification will provide combat escort, as large as we can. And I will lead it from the front line."

While the commanders are discussing, within the Discovery of Self, in the imprinting chamber, the preparations are also complete. No more people enter it. Instead, it's Inspector Jou who leaves.

"It's done. The weapon against the Lady has been created. The first time, it took the form of a giant crystal, so large only the Discovery could carry it with ease. But that was in the past. It was a joint effort of countless planets, and it took years. This time..."

The Inspector opens his hands, which were clasped together. Floating between them is a tiny shimmering gem, barely the size of a fingernail.
"We will have to make with what we have."
"This... oh my goodness."

Even after we parted ways with Balmarians, it turned out the visit to their now-destroyed home planet was not entirely fruitless (not counting the part about saving Armana and her kind from certain doom). As promised, one of the Balmarian ships deposited an ancient artifact in Project Unification's care. A strange crystalline device, or perhaps it'd be more accurate to say - a chamber, with a device in the center.

"Ahem. Yes, this is very good." Inspector Jou removes and rubs his glasses, a strange gravity to his move.
"What you see is a device similar to the ones that, ages ago, created a weapon against the Lady. If the Discovery of Self was our finest soldier, then this is the forge that hammered out its sword. How it worked is: it took a mental imprint of a person, and gave it physical form. The Lady's mind operates in ways of stories, archetypes. With this, we can force her to realize people aren't just actors with roles to play. In that realization, her powers will be stripped away. And the more individuals the device takes an imprint of, the more powerful the resulting weapon will be."

"There is just one side effect."

Points of contention )

Do you wish to talk to the commanders gathered? Help with the plan in question - by volunteering or otherwise? Or perhaps: question it?
Following the fight at Sakihama, SSR forces arrived - and soon after, even the Shirogane. This can't be just a coincidence or reinforcements to fight Balmarians, and indeed it isn't.

"The ESUN council made its decision regarding Linjun's request. It's only fitting that I, being the inspector and envoy to ESUN, read it." Inspector Jou speaks to a hall full of personnel from both organisations, while others are watching on video feeds.

"From this day on, Unity Group and SSR assets are being combined into one force, known as Project Unification. The force's primary objective is to stop hostile encroachment of alien forces - Za Balmary Empire and the entity known as the Lady, into the Earth Sphere, by any means necessary. For the sake of this objective, Project Unification has full jurisdiction and doesn't respond to any external chain of command other than itself. Its secondary objective is to neutralize hostile groups from within the Earth Sphere, such as the Lost Seekers and still functioning members of Cambio Protocol. Jurisdiction here is limited, and full reports are expected to be submitted..."

"Not to interrupt you Inspector, but let's leave the minutae for people who deal with them. What of the joint organisations' personnel and their standing?"

"Of course. Project Unification members will mostly hold their old ranks until the project's dissolution, which will come after the primary objective is fulfilled. The exceptions are limited to shuffling among the leadership ranks. The acting commander and highest authority of the Project was, despite some protests, in the end decided to be..."

The leader reveal )

The first briefing )

[3 - a bit after the briefing]
A chance to converse with SSR members - or rather, Project Unification ones. You're all in this together!

"Did you see Linjun's face? That guy had it coming a long time."

"I was never a fan of the way he did things. And, it looks like I got a pay rise. But that's the least of my worries now."

"Bout time all of us worked together officially. If you need anything fixed up, it's on the house!"
"I see..."

Inspector Jou looks serious when news of Loni's actions reach him. Serious - but not even that troubled, not significantly more than usual at least.

"I'd lie if I said I was surprised to hear it happen. The Discovery of Self is the Lady's greatest opponent. Of course she would steer her champion to capture it."

"But Gavin can't leave the picture just yet. The Lady's story simply cannot allow it - he'll show again, and the Discovery of Self with him. This is when we will capture it."

"In the meantime, find more parts of the Discovery of Self. You are making good progress recovering them, but we must find more. The most crucial components have yet to be located, or replaced. Gavin and the Lady don't need them - but we do."
"Allow me to start from the beginning..."

Unity Group was late to the party. Frustrated that ESUN did not support him, Lee Linjun made the first move. SSR approached the Discovery and fought the Guardians and the Seekers, only to receive help from people trapped inside. People who managed to break out, not without outside help. Linjun tried to have the Shirogane fire on the Discovery, but he was stopped, stopped by the very same outside help.

Now, the fight is over, the Discovery secured. And the ESUN inspector, the one who visited Unity Group many times - Inspector Jou has some very important things to say.

"I'll repeat myself for those who were not here to hear it."

"Aeons ago, sentient beings of the universe were enslaved by an entity of godlike power. The entity loved stories, but it could not tell new ones by itself. It could only recreate stories already known, and it did that by changing reality itself, with others as unwilling participants. To be the hero of a story is good, isn't it? But what is it like to be the helpless victim? The villain, or one of his henchmen?"

"The sentient beings of the universe rebelled. Putting their differences aside, they cooperated, all working together towards a shared goal. This is the process known as..."


Massive backstory reveal )

[One more thing of importance - also taggable]

"You're right, inspector. What we need is another Unification."

"But you must also realize you're putting the weight of the universe's fate on shoulders of a group with limited jurisdiction. To put things simply, Unity Group has no authorization to do things you ask it for. And having lived for so long, surely you realize how important it is to have a strong leader in charge."

"I'm going to petition ESUN for integrating Unity Group into SSR, all its assets included. The personnel will retain their ranks, or receive SSR equivalents when they lack one. It's a reasonable request, so I don't see why it shouldn't be approved."

"In times like these, all we need is discipline and a clear chain of command."

[See also the OOC post.]