Echoes of Lives Lost
((OOC: This isn't really a historic RP, or even an invite only. The idea has been nagging me, and, well... the Shogunate's backstory is only sketchy at best, so... =p I hope it proves to be a good read, at any rate. Feel free to leave OOC comments.))
To Brush the Face of Forever
How many nights had she lay sprawled in the grass, gazing heavenward with the wild dream of one day winging high overhead, dancing among the stars?
How many years ago did I last have that dream? The orange clad reploid mused to herself, gazing up at the deep blue midnight sky overhead. To the world, her name was Firefury Amahira- the slightly erratic, but honorable queen of the nation known now as the Immortal Shogunate of Reploid Productions. Like her, the country had also once been called by another name- The Nekoan Empire.
This night, the queen had snuck away for some time to herself. Time to muse, ponder, and to just think. None of her staff seemed to catch her reaction to the broadcast that revealed Empress Joanna of Lavenrunz to be safe earlier in the day. Safe, but not sound, the reploid was certain. And much as she would love nothing more than to sink the two ships Whispering Voices had bought from the Shogunate's premier company, she knew doing so would be folly. It would be taken as an act of war, and could end up involving the innocent people under her care.
That look on her face... Firefury frowned, recalling the footage. She was all smiles and love and peace, but that look... her eyes looked dead. Lifeless, like a puppet simply reciting dialogue it was fed. Good Goddess, the woman looked so lost, broken, almost, like a doll some child had played too rough with.
And oh, did she know the sort of expression worn by the lost, the desperate. That started a train of thought that she usually avoided boarding. This time however, she let her thoughts wander, far back, to a time she usually refused to acknowledge having ever lived through....
320 years ago...
"Mama! Look! Look!" A young girl, a child barely eight years of age, waving and pointing at something in the sky. Her mother glanced up, spotting the airplanes flying in tight formation overhead. There was an airshow in the capitol, and military aircraft of all sorts had been flying in, much to the little one's absolute delight.
"Amy, it's not very becoming for young ladies to be excited about fighter jets." Her mother chided, not meaning a word of it.
"Mama, when I grow up, I wanna fly one!" The brown-haired girl beamed, blue eyes shining with the thought. "Juli says that they go so high that they even go to heaven!"
Her mother chuckled at that. "I don't know about that. You have to work very hard to be a pilot though, little one."
"I will, Mama!" Amy declared resolutely.
20 years later...
"Alright, the 603rd Wing will patrol the north shore. Report any Irregular activity at once. As always, do not fire until fired upon. The 337th Wing will conduct a search and destroy mission over the coastal mountain range-"
Amy smirked, eager to get off the ground. Even though times were difficult with the Irregulars causing all manner of problems, she still loved nothing more than get strapped into her plane and blasting into the open sky. She listened as flight orders were issued for the rest of the Jishin battlegroup, and saluted with the others when their commander was finished.
"Good luck, may the Goddess return you all safe to the ground." Commander J'liyah nodded, dismissing the group.
"You heard 'im, girls!" Amy exclaimed happily to her group- the 337th Wing. The others exchanged high-fives with her- the youngest wingleader in the entire Nekoan Air Corps. "Fly low, smack 'em around a bit with some flashbangs, scare 'em all up good, an' top it all off with some heavy stuff!"
5 years later...
"Captain Amy Silver?" Commander J'liyah approached Amy as she climbed down from her fighter, freshly returned from a successfull campaign against an Irregular stronghold. The errant reploids were all but annihalated, and it was rapidly looking like the Irregular Wars would at last end.
"Yes, sir?" Amy peeled off her helmet. The commander seldom sought her out fresh from a skirmish.
"I have new orders for the 337th. From on high." J'liyah handed her a sealed envelope. "You are to report to Ytorla AFB. You and your group have been selected for some new project."
"New project-?" Amy raised an eyebrow and tore open the envelope, skimming the contents. "'-The 337th Wing is to report to Ytorla air force base for special training as a part of Project Victory.' ... What in Her name is Project Victory, anyway?"
"No idea, Captain. It's apparently a very hush-hush thing." J'liyah frowned.
"Well, I guess I'll be goin' then, Commander." Amy noted with a confident grin. "I guess somebody in the top brass finally saw my group's kill counts. Off to Ytorla then! For whatever this Project Victory is!"
Fields of Firelight
295 years ago....
"I'm sure you've heard about the recent breakthrough in gravity diffusion technology. It is a central bit to Project Victory." The twenty pilots of the 337th Wing were being led to a large building by a guy who appeared to be from the top brass of R&D, judging by the pins on his collar. He keyed in a complex access code at the door, and the massive doors slid open, deceptively fast and silent for their size.
Amy led her group in, following the R&D guy. Inside the building were several craft unlike anything she'd ever seen. Silver colored armor gleamed in the light from overhead. Long, slender wings trailed off the main body, and a pair of angular contraptions attached to the main body on either side of the cockpit.
"I ain't ever seen planes like these contraptions!" Kitara, one of the other pilots noted, gaping at the craft.
"These are the Victory 1-B test types. They're intended to test the military use for gravity diffusion." Their guide keyed in some commands at a nearby computer terminal, and with a low hum, the ships powered up and lifted off their landing struts, floating little more than a foot off the ground. "We hope that we can use this technology to create fightercraft that can be used in way that no current fighter plane or attack helicopter can. Particularly given the Irregulars' tendancy to attack big cities with tight streeets."
"Ain't never seen a plane do that, either." Kitara noted, gaping at the floating fightercraft.
"These craft are very advanced, but very finicky. That is why we require the best pilots we can find to test them out." Their guide handed out thick booklets. "You all have rooms on base. I would suggest you go over the control specs and get some rest. Flight testing will beging tomorrow morning at 0400 sharp. Dismissed!"
A chorus of 'Ryoukai!'s echoed in the large building as the 20 pilots filed out, grinning and exchanging high-fives and slaps on the back, all eager to take their new birds for a test flight.
3 years later...
"RED ALERT! ALL PERSONEL TO LEVEL 3-C BATTLE ALERT! IRREGULAR ACTIVITY IN NEKOA BAY, JISHIN, AND PEGASII CITY!" The alarm sirens blared, shattering the predawn stillness. Ytorla AFB came to life like a kicked anthill. Flight crews scrambled to prep aircraft for takeoff, pilots came running from the barracks, pulling on flight suits as they ran. The light of hundreds of directional beacons shone like hundreds of stars come to rest.
"337th Wing, you're to head for Pegasii City and provide air support for the Irregular Hunters already on the ground. We can't send anybody else- fighters or helicopters can't operate effectively with all those buildings. Good luck." The control tower cleared the twenty Victories for liftoff.
"You heard 'em, guys! Let's fly!" Amy growled over the comm. "If those bastard Irregulars have done anything to the 'burbs.... The Goddess bind them and destroy them if they have!" She swore and blasted into the predawn sky, the rest of the wing following close begind, 20 bright plumes of exhaust quickly lost in the distance.
An hour later the towering spires of Pegasii City came into view. Smoke billowed into the sky, lit bright orange by the fires burning below. Stray bits of burning things that had been thrown into the air and carried on the wind had landed in the grasslands surrounding the city, lighting several brushfires that appeared to be burning completely out of control.
"Good Goddess-!" Amy started to swear colorfuly. "Damn, damn, damn DAMN! Hell, blast, and damnation! The Goddess smite them all! C'mon guys, divide and conquer! We're s'posed to support the Hunters, but don't hesitate to frag the sh-- out of any Irregulars y'see on the way!"
With a chorus of 'Ryoukai!'s and 'Roger!'s, the 20 ships broke formation and dove in among the buildings. The Hunters were spread thin, the Irregulars having risen up simultaniously in at least three major cities, and not even the best air support could save them from buildings falling on their heads.
Dawn broke over a city in flames. At least a third of the tall buildings were burning, and entire city blocks were roaring infernos, prowled by packs of genocidal reploids. The smoke-strangled sky stained the sun's light a foul red that gradually faded to a sickly orange, but failed to give any real light. The Irregulars were being whittled down, but so were the Hunters.
"Amy! Head for home!" Kitara's ship pulled up alongside Amy, the silver armor stained almost black from soot, smoke, and near-misses that scorched the sleek fighter.
"Home-?" Amy stopped mid-question, swearing extremely colorfully as she blasted into the sky and toward the outskirts of the city. "Hell's teeth-!"
She shot over what had been a park in the suburbs, over several battered houses, some burning...
...and finally over a shallow blast crater in the center of what had been a housing development.
"Good Goddess-!" Amy yelped. Her ship's gravity diffusers whined in protest to the effort of bringing the speeding fighter to a halt, and she brought the ship down in the crater, despite knowing it was pure folly. She had the cockpit open and was climbing down almost before the ship had completely landed, and took off at a dead run for where she knew her parents' house had stood.
She gave a strangled cry when she found the heap of debris that had been the wood and brick house. She ran to the ruin, shouting out, hoping for an answer- anything to indicate somebody inside was still alive. She was met with silence, aside from the crackling of fires not too distant. But no sounds of anything resembling life.
Refusing to admit defeat, she began to dig through the rubble as best she could, swearing colorfully, praying, describing what she was going to do to those Irregulars when she got hold of them, anything to keep from thinking. With a grunt she hefted aside what had been a bookshelf, looked down... and froze, her gut going cold despite the heat of the fires nearby.
No... no! NO! Dear Goddess, NO! She staggered back a step or two and fell to her knees with a choked cry. Her mind refused to accept what every sense was telling her. Who that pale, bloodied, mangled mass of flesh and bone was... had been. Thoughts and emotions whirled in a dizzying storm in her head, leaving her paralyzed with shock.
For several minutes Amy sat on her knees where she fell, alone in a secluded corner of hell while fires raged and buildings fell. The myriad of emotions gradually fell away, distilled into one thing, like a flame that would dwarf that of the entire burning city. Sorrow and despair and hate melded into pure rage, fed into that flame, that sent Amy rising to her feet, her expression set in a twisted snarl. She felt calm. Calmer than she had ever been, like the calm that precedes a hurricane, or a thunderstorm, when the air sits heavy and the world feels as though it were holding its breath waiting for something to happen.
With a noise that could only be described as a roar, she pelted back to her fighter and lept into the cockpit, lifting off even as the canopy hissed shut. The silver ship glowed orange in the firelight, and with a scream of anger, the fighter blazed forward. She would kill them all. Destroy them all for what they'd done. She was angry at the destruction before, but now it was personal.
I wonder if this is what insanity is? Some rational part of her mind wondered as she dove low among the buildings at speeds that were reckless even for the Victory 1-B. She didn't bother with the targeting systems- she lined her shots up by sight alone, hitting her mark more often than not.
Firefury frowned at the recollection. The Battle of Pegasii City had been one of the worst that horrible night, and the losses astronomical. A ghost of a feral snarl flitted across her face for a moment as she thought back to it. "Those bastards... the Goddess bind them with Her chains and destroy them with Her axe..." She swore under her breath.
291 years ago...
Amy had been inconsolable for months on end, turning antisocial and dedicated to her work to a fault. The Hunters that had fought at Pegasii City and lived to tell of it had spread all manner of stories about the orange ship leading a pack of black-shot silver-orange ships through the city like a pack of wolves on the prowl. While a handful of Hunters got away from that battle in one piece, not a single Irregular survived. It had earned the 337th Wing nicknames like "Fires of Pegasii" and "Wings of Vengence".
She sat in the hangar, polishing some scratches out of her fighter. "Let's paint the ships black and orange." She stated suddenly from where she stood. "That way the scorch marks from combat won't show so much."
Kitara looked over at her Wingleader with a raised eyebrow. "Only if y'paint yours orange. If yer gonna go for symbolism, do it right. The rest of us were scorched and soot caked from nose to wingtip. You weren't. Your ship bloody damn near glowed."
Amy grunted a reply, it sounded affirmative. Their commander strolled in, eyeing the two pilots. "I have mission orders. You're to escort a prison ship. Rather than kill off a group of traitors against the Emperor, we're going to ship them off to some island in the Atlantic. Let them rot or become dragon food for daring to try and throw down the Emperor."
"Right." Amy nodded once.
"And Captain Amy Silver, you really should not be so reckless with your flying. You're far too valuable a pilot to get yourself killed by showing off when you don't need to. There's a reason your Wing is known throughout the Empire as the Fires of Pegasii." The commander raised an eyebrow at the cocky grin lighting Amy's face.
"I'm too damn valuable to the Empire for you guys to let me get killed. 'Sides, aren't the Victory 1-Bs s'posed to be the most friggin' advanced fightercraft in the world?" She smirked, walking past the commander. "To you it's reckless. To me, it's really flying, not the pansy stuff everybody else calls dogfighting. Tell the flight crews to get the ships ready- we'll be leaving soon as y'give the word, Commander."
It's Not the End
Firefury frowned, deep in thought, the long trail of memory winding its way to a day she would never forget... could not forget. Fists lay clenched at her sides, her expression distant, staring up at the sky, and not seeing any of it.
289 years ago...
"Excellent work today, 337th! I think that slight modification to the diffusers helped a lot!"
"She's flyin' like a dream, commander!" Amy retorted over the comm, idly rolling her Victory 1-B- now painted brilliant orange and yellow. The black and orange ships of her wing formed up behind her and they started back for base, chattering excitedly about the improvements in the Victory 1-B since the project first began a few years back.
"Good to hear Captain. Especially given how hard you fly the damn thing!" The commander shot back dryly. "How many times have we told you to ease off on the high-risk manuvers?"
"Too many times, commander. If the pilot has enough experiance and practice, those manuvers are no longer high risk, are they, sir?" Amy smirked.
"No matter how damn good the pilot is, if they push their bird too hard..." Her commander sighed in frustration. Amy could just see him back at the base, shaking his head at her antics.
"Hey, s'what the techies are for, right?" Kitara commented, her ship flying along in a lazy half-roll.
Without warning, the orange ship in the lead lurched, and Amy yelped as a thin trail of smoke started to ooze from the gravity diffusers. "What in the hell's was that?!"
"Captain? What's going on? The readings from your ship just went haywire!"
"Amy, watch it, yer altitude is dropping!"
"Sh--! You don't think I NOTICED?!" Amy screeched back, a note of panic creeping into her voice as she wrestled with the controls. There was still a line of mountains between the 337th Wing and the base. If she could just keep it in the air over that last ridge...
"Something's wrong with the g-diffuser!" Amy yelped, pulling the nose of her ship up in a desperate attempt to avoid banging it into the mountains. Where the ship normally would have flitted smoothly higher, it shuddered and barely lifted a few feet up. The entire ship jolted badly, the belly scraping the ground beneath it as it barely cleared the ridge and Ytorla came into sight. Flashing red lights from emergency crews could be seen, waiting for her arrival.
"Hang in there, boss!"
"We're with ya, just hold that damn turkey together a little farther!"
"Captain, crews are on standby for your arrival. The Goddess see you safe to the ground." The commander told her over the comm in a solemn voice.
Sirens began to sound in the cockpit, reporting damages done by the close scrape on the ridge. The ship could fly moderately well without the gravity diffusers, but the wings weren't designed to provide the same amount of lift as a normal aircraft. Gliding for any particularly long distance was not an option.
"SH--!" Amy yelled over the comm. "SH--SH--SH--SH--SH--!!" She started swearing loudly, panic no longer a meager note, but a full blown thing. "The right wing flap jammed up goin' over that ridge!"
She tried to compensate by banking hard in the opposite direction, her ship starting to waver erratically. Good Goddess, I'm gonna die. From a bloody damned technical problem. I'm going to f---ing die!
The gravity diffuser mounted on the right side of the fighter gave one final groan, a burst of energy from it flipping the ship over into a nosedive.
Goddess, no, this is it-! Amy clamped her eyes shut at the sight of the ground rushing up to meet her, deaf to the sirens sounding around her, barely hearing the cries of her wingmates. I don't want to die! Not like this! Dear Goddess, it can't end like this!
The orange ship flown by the 'Fires of Pegasii' smashed into the ground, very nearly breaking in half, the fuel quickly igniting as the other 19 ships flew low overhead, their pilots pale with worry and fear.
It was hot. And cold. Pain seemed stabbingly close, yet oddly distant, detached. Bright light and pitch darkness. A thousand paradoxes- cacophony and silence, peace and rage, hope and despair. And then...
Nothing. Nothing at all.
"I'm too damn valuable to the Empire for you guys to let me get killed."
A Place Between Sleep and Awake
Firefury shakes her head. Reploid or not, thinking about... that... gave her the chills. She knew what she had seen, but never dared speak of it to anyone- she wasn't that egotistical to assume the divine had some special use for her. The waking nightmare was a secret she kept to herself.
289 years ago...
"AAAH-!" She sat bolt upright with a start, covered in sweat and clutching the sheets. She glanced around with a frown. Wait a minute... wasn't I... I could swear I was about to crash...
A brief check showed her to be in the barracks at Ytorla AFB, though the place seemed deserted, which struck her as odd. She felt oddly detached, like she hadn't gotten enough sleep. I could swear I was just flying... the eject mechanism locked... was that just a bad dream?
She shivered with a sudden chill. If it was a dream, it was a damn realistic one. It was hazy on the edge of memory and yet brilliantly clear in her mind's eye at the same time. The paradox of it was giving her a vague headache. What was more pressing was finding out why the base was deserted.
She meandered to the mess hall, and finally found signs of life. Rella, a member of the 337th who'd been shot down by Irregulars long before Project Victory. Wait a minute... how the heck is Rella here?
"Wow, surprised you're here, Amy." Rella raised an eyebrow. "I woulda thought you'd be the last of the original 337th to go down."
"Go down? What? What in the hells is going on?" She demanded. "I mean.. you-you're... aren't you dead?!"
"Yup!" Rella replied cheerfully. "Apparently you are too, or something."
Amy froze, and the base disappeared around her. She felt herself falling, a total freefall in darkness, no ledge, no ground, nothing in sight.
"KIIIYAAAAAA-!" She shot upright in bed with a yelp. Sunlight streamed through the window, and she could hear pots banging in the kitchen downstairs. The smell of fresh cookies wafted in through the open door, and she could hear a familiar female voice humming merrily downstairs. Okay... what a weird dream... I dreamed that I dreamed I was flying a fighter and crashed, and 'woke up' on an airbase? Huh?
With a yawn, she got out of bed and wandered downstairs. Those cookies smelled positively heavenly. The kitchen revealed her mother putting dishes into the dishwasher, and her father tinkering with a model car at the table. It was altogether a familiar scene, though the thought struck her that it was incredibly odd- almost alien.
"Mom? Dad? I had the weirdest dream last night-" She started to say. Both her parents looked up at her sternly, and she stopped, her mouth hanging open slightly.
"Amy, what in the hells are you doing here?!"
"You shouldn't be here!"
The place burst into flames around her, the walls flattening, the bookshelf by the door smashing into her mother clear across the room. Her father jumped up, his shout lost in the cacophony as the debris veiled him from sight. Oddly, the chaos didn't touch Amy, who stood there gaping. The fireburst passed, and with a chill she recognized the scene.
Pegasii City in flames.
Her parents' house flattened.
In a daze, she watched the gleaming orange Victory 1-B land a short distance away. The figure who climbed quickly out of it wasn't what she expected, though. Clad in orange reploid-style armor with gold and silver trim, the figure looked grim, a flame among fires, marching toward the ruin with a look of pure rage in narrowed blue eyes. As the figure passed Amy, she gasped and took several steps back.
That face, that mask of pure fury...
... was hers.
Amy looked around in a semi-panic. The Victory fighter she had thought was the 1-B appeared to be anything but upon closer inspection. It was slightly smaller, and the orange was not firelight playing off a silver surface, but the machine's actual color. The city seemed to warp around her... no longer the Pegasii City in flames that she recalled, but a blasted landscape dotted with the burned out husks of aircraft and tanks.
She turned back to the orange-clad figure, who had since turned and was watching her with a cold stare. Four large golden wings seemed to sprout from the reploid's back, and a figure clad in the robes of the Emperor lay in a dead heap at the figure's feet.
"Wh-what in the hells is this?! What's going on?!" Amy finally found her voice and demanded of the reploid.
"What's going on?" The reploid replied, her voice the match to Amy's, only dangerously low. "Right now, you're lying in an ICU unit, about thiiiiis close-" The figure indicated a very tiny space with two fingers. "-from kicking the bucket. The bloody eject mechanism failed and you know it. It's a f---ing miracle that enough of your body was intact that they were able to get you on life support. What good it'll do for you, with how badly maimed you are."
"You mean that... that wasn't a dream? The crash?" Amy paled. The memory of heat and pain came flooding back and she fell to the ground with a cry.
"Damn right it wasn't a dream." The reploid continued, seemingly oblivious to Amy's fall. "There's a reason you didn't die. Got the Goddess' own luck, both the good and the bad." The reploid waved an arm at the devastation around the pair. "Somebody upstairs has a purpose for ya still, an' there's gonna be a lot more fire than what went down at Pegasii City. Your anger then is gonna pale in comparison to your fury in the future, mark my words."
Suddenly everything was gone. There was nothing. No light, no sound, no warmth or cold. It couldn't even be described as total darkness or blackness. Blackness would be something, and there was nothing. No form, no sense of time or reality.
It was extremely disconcerting. And there was nothing Amy could do about it but wait.
[I do love this thread ;) Big T-A-G for repz0r yay!]
Auguries of Destruction be a Lullaby for Rebirth
288 years ago...
It was an instant. And an eternity. A waking dream. Sometimes she tried to break the tedium of the emptiness by daydreaming or just thinking. Such efforts occasionally led into a memory-inspired dream, though her thoughts were scattered at best, like smoke on the wind. Almost invariably, the orange-clad figure harassed her in nightmare, breaking through the emptiness and grabbing her attention when she could feel herself slipping away, welcoming the emptiness, if it would only end the tedium of this nonexistance.
"What happened? Is this the true strength of the Fires of Pegasii? The flame-shot Wings of Vengence?" The orange figure sneered. "You ruled the skies, and yet when left all alone, this is the measure of your endurance?"
She shot the orange figure a glare... well, the intent was there, actually glaring at somebody when lacking any sort of form was rather difficult. Oddly enough, at first it had been easy to envision a proper form, but as the nightmare continued, it became harder and harder to keep her thoughts together enough for that purpose.
"What am I supposed to do? What IS there to do?!" She growled.
"That's the spirit! Get angry, stubborn! You just gonna go without a fight like yer folks?" The orange figure grinned wickedly.
"YOU LEAVE MY PARENTS OUT OF THIS!" She howled, lunging at the orange figure, one fist impacting hard against that grinning face. That stopped her cold. Her fist. She hit the orange reploid, who stood there grinning at her even wider, head turned to one side from the blow, though otherwise unharmed.
"That's the spirit! If you want to get out of this fiasco, giving in ain't the answer!" The orange figure switched from condenscending to encouraging between one breath and the next. "If you can't get through this, you'd be better off dead."
"... Who are you? Why do you... why do you look like me?!" Amy stood in front of the orange reploid, anger focusing her thoughts. The orange figure tipped her head to one side in thought.
"Who am I? That's a good question. I suppose y'could say I'm you, but not you, that I've got something to do with the higher powers, and that I've got something to do with the inner powers. Somebody's got plans for you, and for that they need y'alive no matter what." The orange reploid waved one hand and the emptiness melted away to a new scene.
"Wha-?" Amy looked around in surprise. She and her orange-clad agitator were standing just off the ground in a room crammed full of machinery. It looked like some sort of bizarre fusion of a reploid lab and an operating room. Several technicians surrounded a flat operating table.
"Take a good look, Amy Silver. This is the truth, the waking world, the destiny that awaits you if you choose the hard road." The orange figure recited, her tone solemn. "Any fool can die. Death is a simple enough thing. It is the coward's way, giving up, quitting the game. It takes something more than mere strength to live, to look Death in the face and beat it into submission. The challenge is not in surviving. It is in living, despite the odds and hurdles."
More than a little perturbed by the sudden rush of information from the orange figure, Amy stepped closer to the table, peering over the shoulders of the techies. She stopped dead, and if she'd been breathing, she'd've inhaled sharply and held it in surprise.
Basic black reploid armor shone dimly in the overhead lighting, several wires running to the reploid's head and various points along the armor from all sorts of computers that lined the walls. The face was neutral- asleep.
"What in all the hells?!" Amy finally found her voice and yelped, staggering back from the table. "That's me? That can't be-!"
"You said it yourself." The orange figure grinned slightly. "'I'm too damn valuable to the Empire for you guys to let me get killed.' And your are exactly right. You're too useful to be allowed to get off dying in a fluke accident."
"This is... oh good Goddess-!" Amy sank to the floor in disbelief. "Cybernetic replacement limbs and the like.. I knew they could do that... but dear Shimeki-sama, is such a thing possible?! How can they transplant a human consciousness to a mechanical body like that?! It's impossible!"
"Aye, it's impossible for mere mortals to do so." The orange figure nodded slowly. "Most people when horribly mangled give up before the fight has even begun. If the person is stubborn enough, well, that's another story."
The orange figure brushed some imagined dust from her orange armor, her four gold wings rustling slightly as she shifted position. "The choice is yours. Die now and be done with it, or cling stubbornly to life, no matter the form."
"I..." Amy staggered to her feet, glancing again at the figure lying prone on the table. "I don't want to die... who'd lead the 337th then?" And there's Juli... good Goddess, she must be worried absolutely sick. She always said I was a damn fool and would get myself killed because of my love of high places...
"... The crash was no fluke." The orange figure stated suddenly, instantly catching Amy's attention. "I cannot say more for fear of upsetting the balance. But I can say that this chain of events was not by mere chance."
"What?!" Amy stared in disbelief. Disbelief quickly melted into anger, and anger into rage. It wasn't an accident? Somebody wanted to do this to me?! Those bastards.... Fists clenched at her sides, she lifted an angry gaze to the orange figure.
"The Fires of Pegasii haven't burned out yet. What do I need to do to wake the hell up?"
The orange figure grinned. "I knew you had it in you." The orange figure took a step toward Amy, then another, and another. Instead of colliding with the young woman, the orange figure passed into her, and everything faded to black. True black, actual color for a change, instead of emptiness.
A surge of energy flooded through limbs that felt like dead weights, and for the first time in over a year, Amy opened her eyes.
OOC: wow you put some real thought into that
OOC: wow you put some real thought into that
((OOC: Thanks! ^_^; I didn't want this to be a dull storyline! =) ))
(OOC: *Sticks a little *tag* on this thread.* )
Bury My Dreams, Dig Up My Sorrows
288 years ago...
"Ohmigod! Amy! They were saying you might never wake up!!"
"Captain! Praise the Goddess they were able to save ya!"
"Boss! Whoohoo! Now we won't hafta take orders from Kitara any more!"
"Hey, I wasn't THAT bad leading the 337th!"
Amy was mobbed by the pilots of the 337th, all chattering almost incoherently. Her balance was still iffy at best- the large reploid feet did not mesh well with her usual stride, and after being out cold for over a year, the sudden sensory overload had her off-balance anyway. The medical engineering team that had saved her mangled behind had explained what she could and couldn't do now. The entirety of it was overwhelming, and she could only nod numbly as she was glomped and hugged by joyful wingmates and friends.
The only one in the crowd that wasn't loudly celebrating was her friend Juli. The two had been close friends since they were little, but where Amy was boisterous and bullheaded, Juli was quiet and thoughtful.
Amy's revival was all over the news, touted as a major success in the field of neuro-cybernetics and the like. She attended big state dinners, got to meet personally with the Emperor, and so on. She smiled happily enough for the cameras, and with time was able to adjust to her new body. Like all reploids, strength, speed, and endurance were several steps above what an athletic human could manage, which she found to be moderately cool at first. On the other hand, she no longer had a need to eat food, and in fact was unable to ingest the stuff. Chocolate cravings were fast becoming the bane of her existance.
The engineers had opted to make her basic armor plain black and extremely simple so that she could choose to have several sets of armor plating fitted to it- the closest thing to clothing a reploid could manage. In addition, they had installed a datajack, which they had explained was part of a new concept for Project Victory. She wasn't to comfortable with that idea, but accepted it.
She had several sets of armor made for her- despite the black armor, the lack of actual clothing covering her body left her feeling extremely naked, and that just really bugged her. Simple red stuff, a set in blue... she tried a number of armor configurations before settling for a set that had haunted her nightmares.
Orange with gold and silver trim (http://rpstudios.ian-justman.com/east/Miko_Sprites/firefury_sprites/fury001.gif), a small set of fins on the helmet, with a retractable visor. It matched her new fighter, which she liked.
That was something else. Project Victory had moved up from the Victory 1-B to the Victory 2-A. Improvements had been made to the original gravity diffusion system, and the new fighter was even more agile (and less likely to break for no good reason) than the predecessor that had nearly killed Amy.
2 years later...
"So, boss, ready to give that uplink system a shot?" The 20 ships of the 337th were in loose formation. The techies had thoroughly explained the uplink system- it was supposed to reduce reaction times (at least for reploids) of the Victory 2-A, but Amy had been loathe to plug in and try it. The idea of flying by thought alone was in the realm of too weird for her, and given what she'd been through, that was saying a lot.
"C'mon, boss, the techie types have been dying to find out how that thing works. 'Sides, what's the worst that can happen? Another crash?"
Kitara's got a point. Amy chided herself. What is the worst that could happen? You've already been dead once!
"Fine, fine, but if it does go bonkers on me, I am totally and completely blaming you guys!" Amy hesitated and grabbed the link cable from the console. She eyed the contraption, and the datajack mounted in the small console in her arm. She had always thought that uplink type plugs would be mounted along the spine somewhere, likely the base of the neck. But that was organic-style. In theory, reploids could have that sort of apparatus somewhere a bit more conveinent to hook up with. "Eh, here goes nothing!" She jabbed the cable into the plug.
"It's... not working?" Amy blinked, toggling the flight stick a bit. The ship still responded to the stick, but not to her trying to think it into a roll.
"Captain, there's a command you need to key in on the console to activate the uplink." A techie's voice came over the comm.
"Oh..." Amy noted sheepishly, eyeing the small console screen where 'Datajack connection established. Uplink? y/n>_' was displayed. So much for hoping the contraption wouldn't work at all.
Taking a deep breath (not that she needed oxygen), she keyed in an affirmative, mentally bracing for.. whatever.
To say it was an expansion of the senses wouldn't be accurate. Calling it a confusing acid-trip might be a better description. Getting visuals from her own two eyes as well as the ship's myriad sensors was not a comfortable sensation for somebody used to having a range of vision limited to an oblong cone directly ahead. With the ship's mini-cameras, heat sensors, wind sensors, and so on, it was more like being able to see in every single direction at once and feel the wind on the ship's armor. In a momentary burst of panic, the ship's wing flaps and gravity diffusers went momentarily haywire- a knee-jerk reaction to the unexpected. Amy quickly corrected the situation before her ship could smack anything- she wasn't too keen on finding out if damage to the ship would cause a painful reaction.
"So... what's it like?" One of the other pilots asked after it seemed the orange and yellow fighter wasn't going to flip out and crash or anything erratic.
"Very... freaking... weird." Came the hesitant reply.
"Let's test out just how much it boosts reactions!" Kitara crowed, banking hard to chase Amy.
The orange ship braked hard into a sideways loop faster than Kitara could follow, and the chase was confirmed over when her console beeped a weapons lock-on warning at her.
"How's that?" A trace of Amy's usual tone had found its way back into her voice.
"Good Goddess Shimeki-!" Kitara swore colorfully. "That is an improvement!"
And so the 337th continued to be the test unit for Project Victory. The Victory 2-A eventually gave way to the 2-B, the 2-C, the 3-G. The years passed, the Irregulars were gradually subdued. In the ongoing conflict, the 337th ruled the skies. Whenever the Irregulars managed to muster any sort of an aerial force, they were destroyed with extreme prejudice.
40 years later...
"Well, boss, s'about time I turned in my wings." Kitara grinned ruefully. Most of the 337th had been shot down or retired, and Kitara was the last of the original 20 aside from Amy. The reploid had turned increasingly introverted as her wingmates were killed or left the wing, one by one.
"Yeah... yer kids are all grown... And y'aren't as young as y'used to be." Amy noted distantly, looking at the woman, noting the faint wrinkles and frosting of grey hair. "The Victory isn't getting any easier to fly, either."
Kitara nodded. "'Sides, none of us could ever hope to match you anymore." She laughed. "The 337th has a reputation of bein' the best, but your flyin' is at least double the rest of the wing combined! You ever gonna retire?"
The question stopped Amy up short. Unlike the human pilots, she hadn't aged a day, her abilities and senses hadn't deteriorated at all. "... I dunno. What else would I do?"
An uneasy silence hung in the air for a long moment.
"Eh, forget it." Kitara patted Amy on the back, shouldering her backpack. "I'll see y'round, but I got a flight to catch. It'll be good to sleep in again. These 4 am days just sap the life right outta ya!"
Amy spent that night staring up at the stars, sprawled in the grass at Juli's house. Her friend sat next to her, waiting for the reploid to air the thoughts that were obviously bothering her.
"Juli, d'ya know the average life expectancy for reploids these days?" Amy finally broke the silence, her gaze fixed firmly on the stars overhead.
"With the way the government is starting to crack down on reploids, not too long, at least for Irregulars." Juli noted. "Otherwise, I wouldn't know. With proper maintenance, probably forever."
"Good Goddess...." Amy shook her head. "It just kinda hit me today- I'm the last original member of the 337th. They wouldn't transfer any new pilots in because of the special research crap for Project Victory. What are they gonna do with me now? They can't honestly expect to keep testing the damn thing out and refining it with just one pilot!"
"That is a good question, perhaps you should ask your superiors." Juli noted dryly. Something else was bothering her best friend, it was obvious.
"It ain't just that, either... " Amy sighed. "Everybody I know- Kitara, the base personel, the Emperor... hell, even you- you're all aging. I think already I've outlived two commanders, one of them who was younger than I am... I mean... hells, in as little as twenty more years..."
"Realizing everyone else's mortality, are you?" Juli raised an eyebrow, cutting to the chase.
"Yeah, I guess." Amy finished lamely. "I mean, hells, you're a grandmother! Maybe it woulda been better if the top brass hadn't spent so much effort into saving my hide..."
"Amy Silver, if it was your time to die, then no matter how much effort they put into you, you wouldn't've woken up. Obviously somebody upstairs has something in mind for you yet. Your time will come, I'm sure." Juli eyed her friend sharply.
"Yeah, but... " Amy faltered. "Hell's teeth! Juli, my folks are some 45 years dead, I lost contact with my extended family -bloody religious whackjobs that they are- and you're... cripes, all that's left of my old lifestyle! We grew up together! What am I supposed to do when... when..." She frowned, unable to bring herself to say it.
"Do I look like your mother?" Juli noted. "... Wait, don't answer that." She grinned slightly, brushing a few silver-shot stranded of hair out of her face. "It isn't my place to tell you what to do with your life, and you know it. I'm here for you, y'know that, but ultimately you'll have to decide what you're going to do."
"I know... Hell, you always said I was a damn fool, enrolling in the air corps an' all." Amy sighed. "Burn that bridge when we get there, I guess."
3 years later....
"Amy! Y'gotta get over here! The doctors are saying Mom likely won't make it through the night!" The frantic voice of one of Juli's kids informed the reploid over the phone.
Amy stood in shock, a stupefied expression on her face. Snapping back into action, she quickly voiced an affirmative and pelted out the door. The hell with my superiors! My best friend is on her f---ing death bed, they can do without me for a few days!!
The entire day had reeked of misfortune. Some tactical data-diving had revealed the secret behind the crash of her Victory 1-B years and years ago. Apparently the top brass had forgotten just how sharp a reploid's memory can be when they eased the security on very old files. Somebody had given the order to rig her ship up to crash and for the eject mechanism to fail just enough that she would be in critical danger of dying- enough to merit the reconstruction efforts, so they could develop a neuro-uplink system for the Victory 2-A. They had wanted a reploid who had no chance of going Irregular- one that hated the Irregulars with a vengence. Her.
A ghost of old anger flared up as she hopped into her fighter and took off to a chorus of angry air traffic control crews. She gave a quick response as to where she was going with her uber-high-tech piece of equipment, and a short time later was landing the fighter off to the edge of the hospital's helipad (much to the dismay of the staff). A few terse words with the staff, and she was running down the hallways to the room Juli was in.
The room was lit cheerily enough, with flowers and "Get Well Soon!" balloons and the like in one corner. The withered figure on the bed would not be getting better any time soon however. End-stage cancer, the doctors had found it far too late- it had gone undetected for years. Several members of Juli's family were there, and they parted warily at the orange-clad reploid's entrance.
"Juli-!" Amy ignored the wariness and ran to the bed, her face a mask of worry.
"Amy, glad y'could make it." Juli grinned weakly. "Y'figure out what you plan to do?"
"Wh-what I plan to do-" Amy started to ask. "Juli! Now isn't the time t'talk about that!"
"Well, you'd better figure it out soon, Amy. I'm tired, and you know it. I'm not going to be around to hold your hand much longer y'know." Juli stared up at the ceiling. "And don't look at me like that. It's the truth, and there isn't anything you, me, or anyone in this room can do about it."
Amy fell to her knees beside the bed with a clank. "Oh good Goddess, Juli, it can't end like this!"
"Who said anything about an ending?" Juli retorted, her voice weak. "You know all the stories- and ending is only a new beginning. Maybe with me out of the picture, you'll go on to bigger things. Who knows?"
Amy tried to protest, but words failed her.
"Everyone, I'd like to sleep now. The doctors told me I needed to rest." Juli shot everyone a look. Reluctantly everyone left the room.
Several long hours later, it was over.
Ytorla AFB received one final transmission from the Victory 3-G flown by Captain Amy Silver.
"I am taking an extended vacation from my duties. I will not respond to any communications. You will hear from me when I return, if I choose to do so."
This Loneliness I Need To Be Who I Am
The moon had set hours ago, and there were still hours to go before the sky would lighten in the east, leaving the field shrouded in darkness. Firefury sat up, her head bowed at the old memory. Juli's name had long been lost to the passing of time, but the woman who had been a guiding light and a friendly harbor in an increasingly hostile sea of distrust was never far from her thoughts.
"On to bigger things, huh? Betcha never thought bigger things would be a gigantic revolt and then rebuilding an entire nation, huh?" She addressed the silence.
149 years ago...
Oh, they had tried to find her. They'd tried long and hard, and failed spectacularly, turning up no trace of the orange-clad reploid or her orange and yellow ship. After about 20 years it seemed they had given up hope of finding the Fires of Pegasii.
94 years spent in isolation. At first, the thrill of evading discovery had kept her mind off darker thoughts. But once the chase appeared over, she had more time to think about everything else. She ultimately fled north into the mostly wild landscapes of the far northern reaches of the Empire, settling in a high mountain valley a thousand miles from anywhere. Despite the harsh climate and apparent inaccessibility from the ground, the place had obviously been inhabited once, and she spent many a long year wandering through the ruins, admiring the handiwork of ancient cultures. To distract herself from thinking, she tried to decipher the ancient carvings and glyphs, ultimately giving up in frustration.
Finally, she thought long and hard. She had no purpose, far as she could see. Project Victory was all but scrapped, and the one person she had clung to was dead. More than once she entertained the thoughts of suicide- it would be so easy to plunge herself and her fighter into a mountainside at speeds that would ensure nothing was left to recover. But the thought of doing so terrified her. What was on the other side? That void she had confronted in nightmare? The very thought of that kept her from more than idly considering ending her own life.
She never could pinpoint the exact moment she went insane. It wasn't the sort of insane that most people thought of when they thought "Gee, that person is insane!". She just felt... liberated. She was afraid of death, but at the same time scoffed at the prospect- she had always scoffed at the idea of her own life ending, and it showed- in how reckless she flew, in how flippant she had been. She no longer cared what became of herself in a sense- she was something special, and to hell with anything that would impede her.
She laughed then. Long, loud, and from the heart. Yes, she was alone, no longer with a place to call home or people to call friends. But that meant she had nothing to lose- she could give her all to any cause she wanted, and the life expectancy with which to gain experiance and master any field she desired. Who needed heaven when one could fly well enough so as to dance among the clouds?
She would have headed back to Ytorla right then but for another thought that hit her. The way of life that had been Amy Silver had been ended for some years- it had burned into ashen nothingness the day the Victory 1-B had crashed, the day her life as a normal human being had ended in fire and pain. If she wasn't Amy Silver, who was she then? If she was to be truly reborn into a new identity and lifestyle, she had to select a name for herself that encompassed signifigant fragments of the life that had given rise to her existance. The flames that had scorched her, and the stubborn rage that had taken her. Fire and fury, each burning hot in her soul.
After that, it was simply a matter of heading back. Everyone who'd known her before would be dead or senile, there were none who would remember the Fires of Pegasii from personal knowledge.
For extra fun, she shot over populated areas at well above the sound barrier. She was back, and she was damn well going to make sure everybody knew it. She was almost to Nekoa Bay when several fighters could be seen on approach in a tight formation.
"Unidentified ship, land at once or be shot down!"
"Bullsh--. I'm going back to my home base at Ytorla, and I'll be damned if a bunch of punks are gonna stop me." She shot back, her tone dripping with confidence.
"This is your last warning! Land or we will open fire!"
"Go ahead, I dare ya. You kids wouldn't be able to chase me, let alone actually hit me!" She shot past the group of ships, getting a good look at the craft. They were similiar in appearance to the Victory 3-G she was flying- obviously a newer model, presumably better equipped than her sorely outdated fighter. She laughed at the idea. That just evened the odds a tiny bit!
The ten ships banked hard to give chase, but she was headed straight for Ytorla. In short order a full-blown dogfight ensued. Despite their best efforts, the orange and yellow fighter they were chasing down seemed to dance just out of range of their weapons, looping and dodging almost lazily as the battle drifted closer to Ytorla.
The unit's leader bit back a curse when his display beeped at him, indicating the orange ship had a weapons lock on him. Flaming death did not ensue though, and the beeping continued.
"Bang. You're dead." She commented dryly over the comm. "Now are you guys going to stop harassing me and escort me to land at Ytorla, or do I need to kill you again? Sheesh, I guess people really have forgotten just how good the 337th Wing was!"
"... 337th?!" The pilots chorused.
She was escorted to Ytorla in short order after that. She lazily hopped down from her fighter, surveying the changes to the base since she left it last. A tall man- obviously the commander of the base- strode up, surveying the smug reploid and the orange fighter warily. "That's a Victory 3, isn't it?" He noted.
"Yup. Victory 3-G to be exact." She smirked.
"I think I know the answer already, but just who the hell are you and how did you come to posess this particular one that's been registered MIA for more than 90 years?"
"Wingleader of the 337th Wing of the Nekoa Air Corps, alias 'Fires of Pegasii'." She replied, thoroughly enjoying the dumbstruck look on the man's face. "I took a leave of absense and said I'd let people know when I was coming back."
A chorus of excited whispers circulated among the gathered personel. The return of a pilot who was practically a legend was something big.
"Captain Amy Silver?!" The commander lifted both eyebrows in amazement, having never dreamed that the Fires of Pegasii would show up on his doorstep.
"S'what I used t'go by, commander. Did a lotta thinking while I was away. Decided I love flyin' too damn much. S'just Firefury now. Firefury Amahira." She nodded. I'll still serve the Empire... but the price of my service is my vigilance. Should those that made me what I am now abandon honor... there will be hell to pay.
0_o your abiltys never ceast to amaze me.
For This Gift of Dream I Must Pay the Price
140 years ago...
"Hey, commander?" One of the new recruits inquired. "I-I know this probably none of my business, but why did you chose 'Amahira' for your surname? Isn't that usually given to orphans and outcasts and the like?"
The orange-clad reploid turned to look over her shoulder. "I chose it for my own reasons. Everything I once had has been lost. I think 'Amahira' is appropriate."
The 337th had been revived after a fashion. The best pilots in the Nekoa Air Corps were selected to continue development of the Victory fighter- now up to the Victory 5-C. They had kept the black and orange paint job, Firefury had noted with some wistful satisfaction.
"Okay, so our orders today are to provide some air support for ground forces going after a bunch of rebels against the Empire. They're bunkered down pretty well in the mountains, meaning we need to loosen 'em up a bit before ground troops get there. Best bet is probably to blast out cave entrances. A little of the threat of being buried alive will send 'em scurrying out of their little hidey holes." Firefury eyed the nineteen recruits to her new Wing. "Precision shooting, in other words. Think you flyboys and girls can handle it?"
The mission went well enough, her plan working pretty well. There was quite a bit of partying when the group was awarded some time off for their hard work, with many of the new 337th Wing heading out to hit the bars. Firefury opted out on that, instead returning to the apartment she had been issued upon her return. Her time off no longer held the same appeal as it did over a century ago. Her wingmates would likely be drunk, hook up with somebody for the night, and generally have a good time. She had never devoted much time or attention to boys back in the day, and on occasion berated herself over it. Ever since her Victory 1-B had been rigged up to crash, she really had lost everything. Never again would she be able to enjoy the simple pleasures of food or excessive drink- and she had been able to drink many of the men under the table- and now she never would know the pleasures of the flesh. Or even true love, for that matter. Reploids were generally viewed with some degree of suspicion since the Irregular Wars, and reploids didn't have much of a desire to fall in love. Oh, occasionally a couple of them would take up living together, but it never seemed to be love in the human sense. And the very concept of a human and a reploid in love was outright scandalous.
'Amahira' indeed. Historically, the Amahira clan had been something of the ragtag leftovers of the other ancient clans- the Nekoa, the Drakonic, the Pegasii, and so on. Outcasts, criminals, the undesired, who gathered and become a clan in their own right, though never with the same degree of might as the larger groups.
90 years ago...
"Today the Emperor has issued a new decree to minimize the threat of future Irregular insurrections." The news anchor chattered on the TV. "All reploid production is to cease except under the strict control of the government. Many companies that produced reploids have stated protests of this, but are already scrambling to grab up new markets for non-sentient robots. The only new reploid development will be from the government-approved company of Reploid Productions, which has already begun development of new combat-support reploids."
Firefury quirked an eyebrow at the broadcast. All in all, a somewhat reasonable decision, though it would seriously muck up an economy that had gotten accustomed to having reploids.
75 years ago...
The economy was in a slump, and the strict limits on the production of reploids was stirring up dissent among the increasing numbers of dissatisfied out-of-work citizens. Dissent that her Wing and regular forces were being regularly called on to quell.
Despite that, here she was, flying patrol duty over the new Empress's coronation party- a lavish affair for the elites of the Nekoite clan. The new Empress was but a child, and the country was being placed in the hands of the Minister of the State for the time being. Personally, Firefury didn't like the Nekoite woman, Aurora Koneko, though she couldn't pin down why. The woman seemed deceptively sweet, and something about the way she always dressed lavishly irked the orange reploid, though thankfully she seldom had reason to encounter Aurora.
45 years ago...
"Man... I don't get it. The Empress hasn't done a damn thing about the state of things. Why isn't she trying to get the economy out of this slump? But nooooooooooo! She's having ANOTHER gold-plated-freaking-palace built!" One of Firefury's recent friends and current member of the 337th, Riana, was griping over the noise of various mechanical work going on in the hangar.
Firefury didn't say anything, but frankly, she had to agree. The overall state of things had gone downhill since the olden days. Whereas before, people openly griped about the Irregulars, and their fear was directed openly at that, now people were subdued, going about their daily business in a brooding sort of silence. Before, despite fear, the general feeling she got from people was one of general happiness with life. Now there was a low undercurrent, a silent hum, like a storm was brewing. Tactical browsing of data files turned up an increasingly long list of people reported missing. Some careful cross-referencing linked most of them to various protest groups- some of which she'd been assigned to lead her Wing against.
The next morning she was ordered to bring Riana before one of the Consulate. Despite a foreboding feeling, she complied, leaving the room when she was instructed to.
It was the last she saw of her wingmate.
That was the final straw. Things had to change, and if no one else was going to do it, she would. Taking full advantage of her position of considerable respect, she began to discreetly make contacts. A rebel organization here, the CEO of Reploid Productions there, a careful word in a wingmate's ear....
Yes, the world she knew was gone. The old order had fallen into dishonor and disgrace. Playtime was over, and the Fires of Pegasii were about to be unleashed.
Take Me Back to the Land Where My Yearnings Were Born
41 years ago...
She smiled for the cameras, fully acting the part of the lucky pilot selected to give a speech at the opening ceremonies for the Space Taxi mass driver- the Empire's first major step toward establishing a foothold in space. She was the obvious choice for such an honor- the oldest pilot in the entire Nekoa Air Corps, the one with the most tours of duty, most kills, most flight time, and so on.
The 337th- now comprised of all female pilots- had been pushed ever harder by their Wingleader over the past four years, and the modern Wing had earned itself the crown of "Queens of the Sky".
The complex was huge- spanning more than fifteen miles in length, with the mass driver itself topping roughly 2 miles in altitude. To say it was big was like saying the Universe is pretty vast- it's the truth, but it completely misses the scale of the thing. A platform had been set up on the tarmac near the contraption, and the entire 337th was in attendance.
A rolled up flag hung behind the podium, to be unrolled when Firefury began her speech. Her ship was parked behind the platform with the other 19 Victory 6-R ships (recently nicknamed the "Elite Victory", since many people doubted the design could be improved upon much further) and the five Wingseconds of her group stood at attention, while the rest of the group had been assigned to stay on alert in their fighters in case anything untoward happened at the ceremony.
Oh, this will be one hell of an opening ceremony, all right. But not for what they think. Pity that the Empress and the Minister of the State aren't here. Bloody 'security risks' and all. I've been plotting this day for four years now... and been running the scenario through my head long before that! She stepped up to the podium, her smile tight, almost wicked if one knew the expression. Luckily, the last time she'd had a particularly wicked expression was over a century ago, the day Pegasii City burned. And no one had lived to see it then.
She glanced over the crowd. She knew what was about to happen in cities across the Empire. She knew the impact her words, broadcast over all the news networks and TV stations, would have. She knew that Imperial operatives distrusted her already, and would likely soon try to make a case against the beloved Fires of Pegasii.
There was only one way to go. Foward, despite the odds, despite the pure folly, despite the consequences.
"Friends, allies, and the enemies I am about to make!" She declared loudly, bringing the gathered press and military personel to utter silence. She smirked, and hit the button on the podium to reveal the flag that everyone had thought was the black Imperial insignia on a white and burgundy field.
A collective gasp went up, and several of the soldiers were uneasily fingering their firearms, unsure what to do. This was outright blasphemy against the Empire.. but it was also their hero!
"This is a momentous occasion for the Empire of Nekoa! This is the day it comes to an end. Gone is the honor of the empire of old! A regime once fair and good to its people has fallen into disgrace and cowardice!" She'd never thought herself to be particularly good at public speaking, but it was amusing what a few hundred years of deep thought could do for a person. "The people have suffered too long in silence! Let us end this charade and restore the dignity of our country!"
Shocked murmurs ran through the crowd, and Firefury smiled more. As she was speaking, the revolutionaries she had established contact with were rising up, commencing surprise attacks against government infrastructure. It would not bring the government down- no, tearing down the old order would not come that easily, but it would show the Empire that this was no insignifigant rebellion that would be squashed without thought. This was an organized force gathered behind an idea whose time had at last come.
"I stand before you today to offer my leadership. Not for some personal quest for glory, but to restore the greatness of the nation I once knew, the nation that stood tall against the Irregular menace, instead of hiding from its own people."
The murmuring increased- the Irregulars had long ceased to be a serious problem, but there were still enough reploids around that people would not swiftly forget the old wars. Just as she'd planned it.
"How many people have been taken for the crime of expressing mere dissatisfaction? We have all seen the haunted looks, the fearful glances. I, for one, will not bow to such cowardly tactics! What is the worst that they can do? Kill me?" She laughed then, from the heart. "The Empire has already killed me once, yet I stand before you all, reborn! I was shaped to serve the Empire, but the price of my service has been my vigilance!"
She shifted her stance slightly, centering herself against the gold four-winged insignia on her new flag, giving the optical trick of the wings coming from her back. She would not tell anyone of the four-winged figure whose appearance she took for her own after the long nightmare, but she damn well would play off the concept to sway the indecisive.
"Let us unite under the Wings of Chaos, and stand tall again, this time against the irregulars in our own government! The Goddess's balance has shifted, the Chains of Order binding tight. Let us be Her axe- the golden force of Chaos that destroys the Chain and restores the balance!" She pounded one fist on the podium, the wood cracking from the force of the blow as she glared at the camera. "Minister of the State, or perhaps the Grand Puppetmaster is more appropriate, Aurora Koneko, may the Chains you try to wield bind you, and may the Axe of Chaos destroy you! You cannot defend against the change that I bring, any more than I could defend against the change forced upon myself by your ancestors! I stand defiant, beyond life, death, and time itself! The vengence of the Fires of Pegasii will not be stayed by useless threats of a coward hiding behind a puppet empress!"
Military personel obviously not moved by her speech were beginning to take positions up to deal with her unexpected treason, while those who she knew were on her side and those who had been convinced were shifting to intercept. Her Wingseconds had returned to their ships when she began her speech, leaving the orange-clad reploid and her banner alone on the platform.
Just as the first shots were fired, she sprung into the air in an elegant backflip, and a dark winged figure swooped out of the sky from somewhere behind the platform, grasping her by the shoulders and neatly carrying her back behind the thing. The dark figure reappeared moments later- a black and purple Dragonis model reploid, claws gleaming in the sunlight, white-hot plasma lancing out of a mouth-mounted flamethrower at those who had first fired. The opening ceremonies very swiftly deteriorated into a brutal free-for-all as the Nekoite Imperialists and the newly-risen Amahira supporters clashed for the first time, and certainly not the last.
The twenty ships of the Queens of the Sky lifted into the air in a dramatic formation, Firefury's orange and yellow ship in the lead, and disappeared into the sun's glare, the light gleaming golden off the lead ship before it was lost to sight.
The endtimes of the Nekoa Empire had begun.
Wow, just.....Wow *Awestruck*
((OOC: Quick *bop* for exposure and good roleplay story stuffs!))
Offer Up Your Best Defense, This is the End of Innocence
38 years ago
"This is the Queen of the Skies. Unholy Dragon, do you read me?"
"Loud and clear, Queenie. All ground forces are in position. Chaos and Black Death are waiting for the fires to start before moving in. Recon information from the Drakos unit indicates that they don't know we're coming."
"My girls are almost to target point alpha. You know once we show up, the party's gonna start. ETA in three minutes."
It was a bright, slightly hazy day. Only a fool would try to attack Ytorla Air Force Base in broad daylight. A sudden bleep on the radar indicated that there was one such fool. The single radar blip was approaching the base at speeds too fast to be anything but an Elite Victory. True, the EV pilots were the best there were, but sending only one against the most famous AFB in the Empire? The base went on alert, countermeasures warming up, crews getting ready.
One radar blip became three, then six, then twelve, and finally, twenty. Flying in an extremely dense formation, the entire 337th Wing swooped upon the base like the end of the world. Explosions sang out as energy weapons found their marks, and the sky began to fill with smoke and anti aircraft fire.
"Alright, now!" Tsume lead his low-altitude assualt group forward from their hiding place in the cliffs. Easily a hundred reploid dragons and humanoid reploids from all of Reploid Productions' various production types swept down from the cliffs, leading the ground invasion of the remote base.
"For the Fires of Pegasii!" The rally cry went up. "For the Wings of Chaos!"
Firefury grinned, banking sharp to avoid a burst of anti aircraft fire. The base had excellent anti-air defense, but relied far too heavily on it's location to defend against a ground attack. Using her fighter's groundward sensors, she took in the view- dozens of lithe mechanoid forms swarming the base and rapidly overpowering the crews. She couldn't see from her position, but she knew what else was going on- resistance leaders Katana Dranotisainak and Tiffany Celta were leading a covert operation to secure the base's- indeed, the Empire's- nuclear arsenal.
An attack on multiple levels. One- to secure a good location to base further operations from. Two- to shake the Empire's morale by storming and taking the most famous base in the Empire. Three- to secure the Empire's nuclear arsenal. Four- The company Reploid Productions, lead by CEO Amanda Grey, was officially turning traitor against the throne. The company had been helping the resistance in secret, but now the situation was shifting enough that they could do so openly.
By sundown, the base had been subdued, and Firefury's banner, now nicknamed 'the Wings of Chaos' or 'the Burning Banner', was hoisted on the flagpole. Casualties to Firefury's forces were minimal, as with the appearance of the Queens of the Sky, Ytorla personel automatically assumed the attack would entirely be an aerial affair. After all, who would attack the base in broad daylight, and use an elite aerial force as merely a decoy?
Against a backdrop of fires still burning, Firefury climbed down from her fighter, walking over to the now-decrepit building that had been the barracks nearly three hundred years ago.
"Kitara, Juli, everybody... I'm back!" She spoke to the silence. "The honor of the 337th, and hell, the old Empire, WILL be restored. Today, Ytorla. Tomorrow... heh, well, we'll just hafta see, won't we? Missy Koneko is gonna be pissed when she finds out." The orange clad reploid crossed her armed and smirked. "Riana... you haven't died in vain. As long as I live on, so will yer memory. I swear to the Goddess."
One of the resistance unit leaders walked in. "Um... pardon, Firefury? I just got an idea, and I wanted to fly it by you."
Firefury turned to glances over her shoulder at the human addressing her. "So shoot. Michelle Richter, right?"
The girl nodded. "Yeah. So I was thinking, we've got these nukes now, right? But we don't want anybody to have these nukes, because nukes, frankly, blow goats. So I thought, what if my covert ops group takes the nuclear explosives to that area on the Jishin fault line- y'know, way north of Pegasii City, stuff 'em down into that glorified crack, and hit the button?"
Firefury lifted an eyebrow doubtfully. "For what purpose?"
Michelle grinned. "One, to get rid of the nukes where they won't do much harm to the environment. Two, see if a multiple gigaton nuclear blast deep in the fault line might, say, jar it into motion. You know as well as I do that the Jishin line runs close to Pegasii City. Imagine the impact it'd have on enemy morale to have their capital smashed by what appears to be an act of the Goddess."
"I see." Firefury nodded slightly. "What about the civilians?"
Michelle averted her gaze. "Ah... well, there isn't anywhere free of the conflict now, Wingleader. No matter what we do, civilians are going to get involved- the Empire's forcing the issue, conscripting people for military service and stuff. The most merciful thing we can do is to end the conflict as quickly as possible."
The orange reploid nodded slowly. "Yeah. This is war. People fight for what they believe in wars. People die in wars. This is the reality, cruel as it is. The Goddess have mercy on those not strong enough." She looked over Michelle. "You have my permission. Once the plan is formulated, let me know. If we want to make the most impact, we're going to need to weaken the city up a smidge beforehand. Flyby strikes ought to drop enemy morale and loosen buildings up."
"Y-yes ma'am!" Michelle saluted hastily and ran off.
After she left, Firefury shook her head slightly. "Beware the dogs of war, for they are often rabid and need to be put down quickly." She muttered under her breath as she exited the old barracks to start organizing the reconstruction of the base.
Now We're On the Edge of Hell
37 years ago...
The plan was in place. The Queens of the Sky would commence an aerial strike against Pegasii City and draw attention away from the small group of trucks heading north, their cargo covered. The trucks would have a reploid escort, but the idea was to send a small, inconspicuous group to the fault line with the nukes.
"Kinda funny..." Firefury commented over the comm to her wingmates. "Last time I flew a sortie over Pegasii City, it was to defend it from going up in flames."
"And now you're the aiming to burst it into flames?" Sylise finished the statement.
"Irony, for ya." Ylisa nodded agreement.
The twenty ships were packed into two very tight formations approaching the city from opposite directions. Enemy radar would only indicate two blips coming in along commercial air lanes, hopefully buying a little more time before a counterattack could be managed.
The wing cleared the mountains and the city came into view. It had changed drastically since the Irregular Wars, the tall spires being replaced with duller defense fortifications and a variety of anti-air and anti-seige weaponry.
"Delivery unit, the Queens are in position. Commencing attack now!"
The black and orange ships broke formation abruptly, blazing toward the city, weaponfire reaching the fortress long before the ships made their first pass overhead. Anti-air installations below flared to life, filling the sky with bullets and beams trying in vain to strike the attacking ships.
Meanwhile, along a remote mountain pass some 300 miles to the north-northwest of the battleground, a small convoy of trucks scurried along.
"We've got about three more miles to the fault line. What's our ETA?" Michelle glanced at her comm.
"ETA is approximately ten more minutes. The road gets pretty rough up ahead." Came the reply from the guiding truck, driven by Reploid Productions CEO Amanda Grey. The woman was a very hands-on person, and had insisted on assisting with the mission since she knew the area well- she'd grown up in a no-name town that had since been wiped out in the area.
"Right. All reploids, be on full alert- this is officially a shoot first, ask later run." Michelle tightened her grip on the gun she held in one hand. A chorus of voices replied an affirmative, and she saw windows rolled down and reploids peering out of the trucks, weapons ready.
Amanda's truck suddenly slammed on the brakes- luckily as the guide truck, it wasn't carrying any nuclear weaponry. "KUSO! Enemy outpost dead ahead!" The woman growled. "Full combat alert! They spotted us!"
Gunfire rang out and pinged off the armored leading truck. The convoy pressed forward, escort reploids piling out of the vehicles to counter attack.
"Hurry! We can't let 'em get any of the nukes!" Michelle shouted, flooring the gas pedal despite the rough road. Amanda's truck took a bullet in the front tire, and with a shout the vehicle swerved out of control, skidding to a halt on it's side.
"Amanda-! Crap, we can't leave her-!" Michelle was about to stop to retrieve the woman from the wreck, when the passenger side door of the overturned vehicle was kicked open and a slightly bloodied Amanda dragged herself out of the car as enemy soldiers closed in to surround her.
"Forget me, just get the damned nukes out of here!" Amanda shouted into her comm, shouldering a large shoulder-firing rocket. She closed her eyes momentarily, a soft, wistful smile crossing her face for a moment. "Akkard, Kara, I'm sorry, but looks like the Goddess is calling me home." She readied the launcher even as the bullets started flying. "But this is to protect your future-!" With a shout Amanda fired the rocket into the thick of the enemy crowd.
"MOVE IT!" Michelle yelled to the rest of the convoy. Kicking up dust, the rest of the trucks- the ones carrying the nuclear weapons, peeled away, sniping off enemies as they charged through the line and the reploid fighters jumped back on board. "Hell's teeth!" Michelle swore violently. "Amanda, everyone.... may She who wears the colors of Chaos and the colors of Order keep you..."
Amanda smirked as the trucks made their escape. As the CEO of Reploid Productions, she was a very attractive hostage for the Empire.
"Amanda Grey, you are hereby ordered to surrender! We have you surrounded!" The armored commander of the group ordered, stepping toward the injured woman and her overturned truck, rifle pointed at her.
"H-hai..." She threw down the spent launcher and lifted her hands into the air. Her capturers closed in, weapons ready to shoot her if she tried anything funny.
Which was exactly what she wanted. With a shout of "For the Burning Banner!" She slapped a detonator she had hidden in her shirt. Instantly at least three bullets struck her, and she fell to the ground as the explosives in the back of her truck detonated, engulfing the remaining Imperialists in an impressive fireball.
"Queenie, this is bad! Amanda's down!" Michelle reported in as the trucks finally arrived at the fault line.
"What happened?" The reply crackled through.
"It's... her car overturned... we were ambushed, but got away, loosing about half of our defense unit. There was an explosion back behind us a few minutes ago..." Michelle faltered.
"Stubborn woman." Firefury sounded both condenscending and admiring at once. "Don't bother looking for her. She joined our cause knowing full well there was a very real chance of her not surviving. The woman would rather be dead than an Imperial hostage. Are the nukes secure?"
"Yes... we're planting them right now. How's the attack on the city?"
"S'goin' okay. We've knocked a few buildings down, had to deal with a lot of antiair bull, and there are fighters on approach. What's the ETA on completing your objective?" Firefury responded casually.
"A matter of minutes. You can probably leave the city now."
"Ryoukai. We'll ditch anybody trying to tag after us and hook up with you guys to provide protection."
"Right. Okay, the bombs are set, we're getting the hell out of here!"
Over the city, the attacking Elite Victory fighters suddenly broke off their assualt, blasting high into the air and scattering every which way. Persuers were either shot down or lost as the ships darted extremely low through the canyons and mountains in the area.
The convoy stopped once they had several miles and as many mountains between them and the fault line. Even still, Michelle felt the tremors run through the ground when the bombs went off.
Three days later, the sky began to lighten in the east. But the predawn silence was shattered by a low hum through the earth that rapidly escalated into a monstrous roar as the earth's fury bucked the ground like water. The cacophony increased as the battered buildings of Pegasii City fell before nature's wrath and people were thrown from their beds. The residential areas didn't suffer as badly- they had been left alone by the attack three days prior. However the defensive fortifications and many government buildings had been hit and hit hard, and tumbled to the ground in showers of concrete and steel.
Fifty-six seconds later, the shaking stopped, leaving a city in stunned ruin. Sirens then lifted to replace the earth's rumbling, and smoke rose into the sky from numerous gas fires.
The fires of Pegasii burned for days afterward, and news stations found their signal overridden, showing Firefury standing at a podium, her flag draped on the wall behind her.
"Citizens of the Nekoa Empire! Look at you, cowering in fright! Look what has happened to the cruel regime we are fighting against- the Goddess' own fury has come down upon your capitol! Pegasii City burns, while your Empress is hidden away in her palace, and Aurora Koneko wastes time and resources trying to stop us, instead of helping the victims! The Wings of Chaos have overflown you- the choice is yours, to serve monsters or fly free!"
Shortly after the brief broadcast, Aurora Koneko issued a response of her own, her catlike ears laid back and a fierce glare on her face. "Anyone who is found to be in league with these heathen dissidents will be shot on sight for betraying the Empress! It is unfortunate, but hardly divine intervention that this earthquake has struck not three days after those fools attacked the city. Do not be swayed by the bold words of an Irregular reploid- your so-called 'Fires of Pegasii' will just turn on you, just as she has turned on the Empire she swore fealty to!"
Despite the Minister of the State's harsh words, civilian uprisings were increasing, and the violence spreading in the streets throughout the Empire. The situation was escalating, as were the body counts and the insults being hurled.
Indeed, the fires of Pegasii were burning in the hearts and minds of people throughout the nation.
((OOC: *bump* The next post to this will be forthcoming once my sleep levels are back to normal x_x))
The Life is Born and Gone Again
36 years ago...
The war, for it had gone beyond the bounds of mere revolution, had dragged on for a few years, and it showed. The great scorched cities, the cratered ruins of former rebel stronghholds, the black and grey battlefields. Her efforts had focused on minimal civilian involvement, at first. Not anymore though.
There were no civilians left, there were only the Nekoite Imperialists, and the Amahira Revolutionaries. If you did not support the Empire, you were branded a revolutionary and a traitor slated for death. Rioting daily lit new fires in the cities, and Pegasii City itself was struggling to recover from the earthquake. People had started to flee the city as fires consumed the old order and as stricter and stricter measures were being taken to try and secure the capitol against another attack. The Empire still held sway over the southern lands, but the Amahira's had convinced the tribal clans in the north to assist, and many of the northern cities boldly flew the Burning Banner from their heights. The balance of power was shifting, and spiralling disasterously out of control as violent revolutionaries acted seperately from Firefury's unified effort, destroying labs, factories, and other Nekoite-held cultural and informational centers in an overzealous frenzy.
And now this, a desperate last-ditch attempt by Aurora's forces to bombard rebel positions into gigantic craters. They possessed a 15-mile long railgun, and they were starting to employ it, having already created and lobbed one rocket-directed kinetic warhead from the Space Taxi mass driver. The strike had been devastating- the entirety of the Amahira-held city of Kazeryu had been flattened by the massive chunk of steel and the resulting shockwave. The attack had come without warning, there was no evacuation. Only death as the impact toppled buildings and everyone within them. Reploid Productions' corporate HQ and many research labs and factories were destroyed, as was all the research contained therein. Only those who had been on the outskirts of the city survived, if barely. The death toll numbered in the millions- Kazeryu had been a very large and densely populated city with a population of at least 30 million people.
Firefury reviewed the reports trickling in with a scowl, and promptly called a council of her allies and resistance leaders. Something had to be done before Aurora Koneko could lob another shot from the mass driver.
"If we leave the Space Taxi alone, it's only a matter of time before all our major bases and cities are flattened." Tsume noted, looking over a map of the nation.
"Man, I thought we'd gotten rid of the WMD situation when we got rid of the nukes." Michelle moaned.
"Destroying the entire facility is out of the question." Infantry leader Flare Ryuujin noted. The massive Ryuujin model reploid dragon towered over everyone else, standing an impressive 30 feet tall, a much closer resemblance to the great dragons of lore than the smaller Dragonis and Drakos models. "It's fifteen miles long- to muster the firepower to destroy all of that would deplete resources on other fronts, and the sortie to destroy it would take far too long for safety."
"What about taking the base? Like we did at Ytorla?" Tiffany Celta pondered aloud. "Then we could use that thing to crush Aurora's forces in one fell-"
"NO." Firefury's fists banged into the table, her face a mask of rage, silencing the group. "There will NOT be a repeat of Kazeryu. Not by the Imperialists, and most certainly not by us! There will be no wholesale slaughter of non-combatants. We will not become like the very enemy we're fighting against!"
"The Space Taxi is in too vulnerable a location to try and capture and hold anyway. It's well fortified now with all sorts of stashed anti-air and anti-siege weapons, and deep in the heart of Imperialist territory. An attack like the one on Ytorla would suffer far heavier casualties, and would then be vulnerable to counterattack on all sides." Katana Dranotisainak frowned. "But we can't just leave it alone."
"What if we didn't destroy it, but just... broke it? Really badly?" Kithanrya Swordsbane spoke up. "Their resources are as strained as ours- if we damage something that massive badly enough, they won't be able to repair it with any great speed."
"That is a good idea." Akkard Grey unrolled a diagram of the facility while his young daughter Kara sat in his lap. "And that sort of an attack would require far less resources. The exit end of the mass driver is the most vulnerable to a fast attack strike- rising that high into the air from the mountainside, an solid blast shortly above where it leaves the mountain would bring the entire upper end of it down- those sorts of repairs would be just about impossible with the situation as it currently is on all sides."
"Alright then." Firefury nodded. "In short, we need a fast aerial strike- something fast enough to penetrate that deep into enemy turf, knock that thing over, and then get back out, right?"
Nods all around.
"Okay. I'll lead the Queens on it. If we stay low enough and detour through Sneaky Bastardian airspace, we'll evade detection until we're much closer to the target. The Elite Victories could probably carry enough firepower to bomb the hell out of that thing without support, but with all those cannons, I think I want to take a two-pronged approach." Firefury grabbed a pencil and started sketching the attack plan. "Me and my girls will launch the first wave of the attack- targeting the defenses, and taking shots at the mass driver itself as opportunity permits. Flare, I want you to lead your Wing in after us. Ryuujin model reploids can carry plenty of explosive firepower, and hopefully be able to creep up the hillside despite all the crap flying to plant said explosives."
"Right. It will be risky, but when hasn't anything been risky?" Flare nodded confirmation. "We must disable the Space Taxi at all costs, or else our entire ideal will be buried."
"Then that's that. Tsume, yer in charge of operations while I'm out." Firefury stood up and headed out to the barracks, her voice raised so everybody could hear her. "Alright, Queens! Prepare for combat! Tomorrow, with wings of steel and breath of fire, we hunt!"
By dawn, the twenty ships and twenty reploid dragons were ready and departing to begin their mission, brilliant colors flashing off polished metal.
The Queens of the Sky quickly outdistanced Flare's Wing, though that was intentional- they were to arrived first and pave the way for the dragons.
"This is the Queens of the Sky- we've just passed over Drako's Lake and are proceeding south into Sneaky Bastardian airspace-" Firefury paused in her transmission as her ship's engines were drowned out by a roar far louder. "What in all the hells-?!"
"SH--! Queenie, that was another one of those kinetic shots!" Sylise swore. "Heading right for Drako's Lake!"
"Hell's teeth! Flare's unit is back there-!" Kataali had to dive hard when the orange ship in the lead suddenly hit the brakes and banked into a hard turn around.
"Queenie, hold on a second-! There's not a damned thing we can do-!" Hitomi turned to give chase, quickly followed by the rest of the Wing.
"What the-?" Flare's voice came over the comm. "Ooooh SH-" A loud crash, and then only static.
Not again, dear Goddess, not again-! Firefury tried in vain to catch up to the massive kinetic warhead, energy weapons firing in a desperate attempt to redirect the glorified lump of metal. Her shots found their mark, but only scorched the surface. With a crash like the sound of every building in the world tumbling to its foundation at once, the projectile struck the lakeside city, instantly throwing up a huge dust cloud, the shockwave visible as it passed through the lake before that too was lost beneath the dark cloud.
"Good Goddess Shimeki-!" Ylisa gaped as the devastation spread out more than five miles below them.
Firefury sat in her cockpit, head bowed, shoulders quivering at barely restrained emotion. Not again, dear Goddess, not again-! All those people counting on us... on me... I failed them... dead, all dead, or dying... hatred... rage... revenge... The orange-clad reploid's coherent train of thought halted there, raw emotion taking over, white-hot anger bursting from her throat in a feral roar as she hurriedly jacked in and uplinked to the fighter, the sensation of the cold, grit-filled air on her ship's armor only intensifying her concentration. "Let's go!" She yelled into the comm, her wingmates too stunned to do anything but follow her orders. "Fly fast, fight hard, forget mercy! They will PAY!!" She barked orders fast and furious. "Skirmish formation, triple altitude, all weapons ready, throttles full!"
Abandoning the original plan, the twenty ships blazed straight through Nekoite territory, their passing so fast and unexpected that they were long gone before a defense could be mounted. All to soon, the towering structure came into sight, and all hell broke loose.
"Break formation, commence the attack!" Firefury banked hard, a white-hot energy beam narrowly missing her ship. The wing scattered, weaving among the white fire lighting the sky, their Wingleader's fury proving quite contagious as various warcries were lifted and weapons were fired at the massive structure. Fire lept into the sky as beam weapons and explosives found their marks.
In the end, the Queens of the Sky were unable to fully destroy the upper portion of the mass driver, though their weapons had weakened the structure to the point the exitting end of the Space Taxi bent, falling against the mountainside, rendering the device inoperable.
Firefury surveyed the destruction from her aerial vantage point as the wing tore through the sky to get away from pursueing forces. Enough is enough. This has to end, Pegasii City and Aurora Koneko must fall, before even worse acts are comitted. The old order is weakened, the time has come to lay it all on the line!
She almost thought she heard a voice not unlike her own voice approval, a fleeting touch of memory accompanied by the faint rustle of four golden wings.
((OOC: *bop!* The conclusion will be coming sometime in the next few days ^_^))
((ooc: noooo dont let it end *cry* .....? are you doing a special edition? on 2 DVDs with 30 min of extra footage? :cry: ))
So Boundless I Feel, and Boundless All My Fears
35 years ago...
Firefury stood on the raised platform- really just a small rise, her gaze sweeping over the forces gathered, those who had pledged their allegiance to the Burning Banner. Thousands of people, all ready to lay it all on the line at her command, people willing to die for the cause she had begun.
"My friends, allies, companions! We have fought long and hard, each victory paid for dearly with the blood of our friends, our family. The balance of power has shifted- this is no longer merely a land war, the time has come to act decisively! The time has come for Pegasii City to fall!" She glanced around the crowd. "The time is now, to act, to free this land from the ironclad grip of Aurora Koneko! At dawn, we move, and Pegasii City will fall under seige- all the might we can muster! The fortress will crumble, and the Burning Banner will fly from the heights of the palace!"
A cheer went up from the crowd, thousands of voices roaring as one as people went to prep their equipment, load artillery for transport, and so on.
Within three days, Amahira forces had moved into position, encircling the city, while the Imperialists scrambled to call back their own military assets. What had at first been a guerilla war had suddenly turned into an all-out affair, both sides marshalling everything they could to decide the fate of a single battered city.
The standoff lasted for several weeks, the lines of battle swaying from one side to the other and people grappled for positions on the open plains around the fortress-city.
"They're being too quiet..." Tsume noted, reviewing the situation from Ytorla. "We haven't begun airstrikes against the city yet, but they haven't scrambled any aircraft, so far as out intel reports."
"I don't like it. The Air Corps ought to be trying to strike our vulnerable points, since we're throwing everything at the seige line..." Michelle frowned.
"Then let's capitalize on it." Firefury scowled at the map. "Nothing else at this point matters- if Pegasii City falls, then we have won. If they're being fools and trying to attack other cities that we hold, they're weakening their own defense." The orange clad reploid slid her helmet on, the blue visor sliding down. "The Queens will strike at the city. There are no more civvies- only military are there now. The Empress and Aurora are both there- anywhere else isn't fortified well enough to protect them."
Firefury marched out of the command center of Ytorla AFB, shouting orders, the afternoon sunlight gleaming off her armor. "Queens! Prepare for lifftoff! S'time we finished this- we're flying against Pegasii City for the final time!"
The twenty Elite Victory fighters were ready for departure as the sun approached the horizon. Without further fanfare, they took off, blazing across the sky, twenty glowing exhaust plumes twinkling into the distance, tension hanging over them.
"Queens! This is ground point one- we've coming under fire- enemy contacts approaching from the south! We need aerial support and fast-AAAH!!" A voice crackled over the comm, followed by explosions and static.
"Damnit, they must have finally called in the Air Corps!" Firefury growled, jacking in and uplinking to her fighter. "All right, girls, let's go, they need us or we're finished!"
Clearing a high line of mountains and roaring over the drastically altered Drako's Lake, the twenty ships realized just what they were in for. Gleaming against a red sunset sky, hundreds of white exhaust plumes glinted like stars, formations lined up and holding position.
"Holy shit... Queenie, that's...!" Kataali gaped.
"The entire Air Corps." Firefury stated coldly. "They're playing serious."
"Radar picking up at least three hundred enemy contacts!"
"Alright girls, spearhead formation, prepare to scatter and engage the enemy." Firefury ordered, her voice plummeting to a frigid iciness.
"You can't be serious Queenie! I mean, we're good, but... but that-! We can't possibly take on the ENTIRE Air Corps!"
"There's no turning back, either. We retreat, they bombard our ground forces into oblivion, and everything we've fought for so far will be in vain." Firefury noted. "Any fool can die. Death is a simple enough thing. It is the coward's way, giving up, quitting the game. It takes something more than mere strength to live, to look Death in the face and beat it into submission." She recited, her tone matching that of the gold-winged figure of her long nightmare. "Death is before us. To retreat is to ensure the death of everyone counting on us, to proceed is to risk death for victory."
The rest of the wing flew in silence for a long moment before splitting into the ordered formation.
"I hate it when yer right."
"Lead the way, Queenie!"
"May Shimeki smile on our efforts and bind our enemies!"
"Through fire, through rain, through despair, and against all the odds... may we all live to congratulate eachother on the ground again."
With a blast of glowing exhaust, the twenty ships sped forward.
"Come life, come death, come fire and rage and pain beyond all time, I will not lose! Shimeki-sama guide those who have put their faith in you and run most likely to certain death this day! Fly, fly on the wings of Chaos!" Firefury crowed.
Click here for the 800 x 600 version of the above image! (http://rpstudios.ian-justman.com/junk/CGgoods/Victory6.JPG)
The Queens of the Sky reached the enemy fleet before the fleet could approach much farther into the sky above Amahira positions, and the twilight sky ignited into a storm of firepower. To a distant observer, it would look as if the night sky and all the stars in it had decided to engage in a frenzied dance, exhaust plumes streaking behind ships moving at extreme speeds, energy weapons blazing across the sky, conventional missiles blasting through the air, leaving smoke trails to show their passing. Anti-aircraft fire erupted from the ground- a meteor shower in reverse, hundreds of thousands of bright streaks reaching into the heavens as ships, friend and foe, banked and swerved to evade the strikes as best they could.
"Oh SHIT! I'm hit! I'm hit!" One of the Elite Victories swerved wildly, smoke and sparks trailing from an ugly hole in the belly of the fighter. "Crap, crap, crap-!" A second shot found its mark just as the eject mechanism fired, and the sleek ship and its pilot fell from the sky, a dark angel falling from grace, impacting with an explosion in the thick of an Imperialist anti-air battery.
"Velina-!" The remaining nineteen ships stepped up their assault, nineteen pilots enraged and seeking vengence for one of their own.
The battle dragged on through the long night, aircraft plummeting from the sky, explosions singing out, the only dirge for the fallen as the fight continued both in the sky and on the ground. Ground forces found themselves pounded both by aircraft fire, and ships plunging from the sky, flaming pyres bringing death where they fell.
Firefury cried out, a burst of fire blasting through the left wing of her ship, the imagined pain throwing the pilot into a frenzy as the ship weaved erratically over the city. "Shit, I'm NOT gonna die like this! Not again!" She growled, wrestling with the controls.
"Keep fighting, frag it all! They're not all down yet!"
The Elite Victory fell from the sky, orange armor scorched black, skidding to an awkward halt in a large open area within the city.
"I'm okay." The orange reploid stared in disbelief for a second, before kicking the canopy to her battered ship open. "I'm... holy shit, I'm in the palace!"
"That's our leader! Alright, girls, Queenie can hook up with Tiffany and Katana then! The rest of us can finish off the fleet!"
Arming her arm-mounted cannon, Firefury climbed down from the battered wreckage of her fighter and crept through the remains of what had been the courtyard garden. So close... so close! Aurora has got to be around here somewhere!
Ducking into a passageway, the click of a weapon being pointed at her jerked her attention to the two black-clad people also inside. The weapon quickly was pulled away as the two black-ops recognized the reploid.
"Firefury?! What in the hells are you doing here?" Katana gawked.
"Just flew in from the battlefield after I was kinda forced to put my bird down." She grinned slightly, a lingering anger clear in her tone. "We have to win this.... the casualties outside are mounting on both sides... we've lost nearly half of my Wing."
"Well hell, let's get going then! We haven't found Aurora or the Empress yet- they're probably underground somewhere." Tiffany smirked.
The palace was all but deserted- likely the royal guard was out defending the city- if the Imperial defense line was broken, then the palace was already doomed. A map of the palace indicated the entrance to the underground complex, and without much ado, the trio pried the entrance open. Voices could be heard on the other side of another door, and they paused to listen.
"Aurora, why are you making everyone fight like this? You know I don't approve of what you're doing! All you've done is plunge this entire country into a hideous war!" The Empress could be heard shouting.
"These rebels want to unseat you, Highness." The Nekoite Minister sneered. "They will stop at nothing to tear down the Imperial house."
"Nonesense! They're after YOU, Aurora! Don't think I'm blind to what you've done ever since I was a child!" The Empress sounded angry. "I order you to stand down! I want to negotiate with these rebels! You're stripped of office, right now!!"
There was a moment of silence, followed by the Empress gasping in surprise. "Is that so, Highness?" Aurora's voice was silky, laced with a hard edge. "You're the only one to witness it... what should happen if the people learned that you had died... say... because the rebels snuck in and killed you? They would be furious then, I'm sure."
"P-put that away! I command you!" The Empress's voice cracked on her words. "Y-you wouldn't!"
The three rebels listening in exchanged glances. "Crap, we gotta get this door open!" Firefury whispered. The other two nodded and began to pry the door open when a gunshot rang out and the Empress shrieked once, silenced suddenly by a second shot.
"Stand back!" Firefury barked, pointing her arm cannon directly at the door. "Aurora, the Goddess bind you and destroy you!!" She shouted, blasting the door repeatedly until the entire metal door was flattened.
The orange reploid was the first through the door, skidding to a halt at the crumpled figure at her feet, clad in the robes of the Empress.
"How did you get here?!" Aurora Koneko bristled, aiming her gun at the angry reploid.
"I heard the entire exchange, Minister." Firefury hissed. "Your plans are ruined, even now your forces are falling from the sky. You cannot stop the change I bring."
"If I kill you, nobody will know!" The minister fired several rounds from her gun, the bullets pinging harmlessly off the reploid's armor.
"It's gonna take more than that to kill me!" Firefury snarled, rushing at Aurora and launching a punch that sent the Nekoite tumbling to the ground near a gun rack mounted on the wall.
"You'll pay for that, you irregular maniac!!" Aurora shrieked, climbing to her feet and grabbing a large plasma rifle from the wall. "Your fancy tech and armor won't protect you from this!"
Firefury's eyes widened in surprise as the weapon was leveled at her. Everything has come down to this moment... I won't fail, not now!
"May you rot in hell, Aurora!" Firefury dove to the side, firing her arm cannon as the Minister pulled the trigger on her rifle. The room filled with white fire for an instant, blinding the two onlookers peering through the broken door.
"Hell's teeth! Who won?!" Tiffany blinked rapidly, trying to clear the spots from her vision.
"How the hell should I know? I can't f---ing see a damn thing!" Katana winced.
As the noise from the close-range blasts echoed to silence, one voice lifted in triumph. "It's over! Praise the Goddess, it's finally over!!"
Firefury stumbled out of the room, her right hand clamped over the slagged stump of her left arm, a strained grin on her face.
"Queenie?!" The other two chorused.
34 years ago...
The fighting faded to an end over the course of the next year, as Nekoite Imperialists lost the will to fight once word of the Empress and the Minister's deaths got out. The price was paid for dearly... out of the twenty members of the Queens of the Sky that flew to battle that night, only ten survived, and thousands of rebels and Imperial fighters died on the field of battle. Miraculously enough, Firefury's wing had emerged victorious against the full force of the Nekoite Imperial Air Corps, despite the loss of half of their team.
The rebuilding process was going to be a difficult one, as people struggled to put the fighting behind them. The rebel leaders turned quickly to organizing the rebuilding efforts, while the farthest northern territories politely opted to break off and form their own nation- Aquamarine.
Firefury stood, her arm long since repaired, and surveyed the gathering of civilians and soldiers who had turned out to hear her speech, presumably her last one as a leader of the Amahira Revolution.
"People of the now fallen Nekoa Empire! At long last, the long nightmare is over, and peace has returned to lands long torn by war. Unfortunately, the Empress, as you know, is dead, killed by her own greedy Minister of State. Peace has been restored, but the long road to recovery is just beginning. I have done my part in tearing down the old order so that we may rebuild... but I would not presume to seize power. You must choose who will lead you now, and decide the future yourselves, rather than let yourselves be bullied by an oppressive regime."
She paused briefly, studying the adoring faces staring up at her. "This victory was hard fought and dearly paid for in blood and death. Always remember those who died for this cause, who gave their lives so that you could see the dawning of a new era. Forget not those who perished, whose names and deeds echo still in our memories. Never forget... my fallen wingmates, the Imperial soldiers... we all fought for what we believed in, and we were all- rebel and Imperialist alike- willing to risk our lives for those beliefs. Honor the fallen, and let the long battle fade not into forgotten memory, lest the past be repeated, and blood spilled in vain."
She bowed her head briefly. "That is all. It is over, and we must move forward."
Her words faded to silence, and the huge crowd stood quiet for several long moments, before a single voice dared to break the reverie.
"Hail, Firefury-sama!! Long live the Queen!"
The silence broken, the entire crowd took up the chant, hundreds and thousands of voices declaring who they wanted to lead them, hailing their chosen Queen.
And their Queen stood, humbled, and bowed to them, unable to find her voice with which to give her gratitude to the people who were so willing to put their hopes, dreams, prayers, and trust in a fighter pilot-turned-leader.
Juli, if you could see me now... I hope you're proud of me, old friend.
And the cheers of the citizens of the newly-formed Shogunate of Reploid Productions echoed through the battered streets and lifted into the sky, carried on the wind until they faded into silence.
The End... or rather, the beginning.
*Stands up stretching, as the credits roll past*
So i did see Halle in a minor roll, i knew i was right. Awsome sound track BTW, i wonder if it will be released on CD *ponders*
*grin* Actually, if you want the soundtrack, all but the first two chapter titles are snippets of song lyrics- mostly stuff by Nightwish or Yuki Kajiura. I recommend the song "Path" by Apocalyptica as mood music for the final chapter =)
*grin* Actually, if you want the soundtrack, all but the first two chapter titles are snippets of song lyrics- mostly stuff by Nightwish or Yuki Kajiura. I recommend the song "Path" by Apocalyptica as mood music for the final chapter =)
*Gasps* and here i thought you had done your own soundtrack :D.
You know make a script and this could be a great movie, maby even a great game. Ofcorse turning it into a game then it will demand 866Mhz or something :lol:
Random trivia: At an average of 2 hours per post, and 3 hours for the final one, this entire storyline took roughly 27 hours total to write =p
:shock: :o DAMN!, *A list of expressions to display shock and awe is typed here*
Great story, a great read :D :) :o :lol: I wish I could write that well :oops:
that was Great fun!!
you could easiuly turn that into a book if you added fluf :)
((OOC: And one final *BUMP!* before I send this over to the archives ^_~ Thanks for reading, everybody!))