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 Post Posted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:36 pm 
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At Athena's request, the Awakener focuses its power within it, reinforcing and empowering the Final Rune.

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 Post Posted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:02 pm 
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Lumina focuses on her Lightning Rune, upgrading it and making it more powerful.

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 Post Posted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 12:11 am 
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Serpico seems to give Athena's words careful thought. "Well, I can't say I disagree with a lot of what you say. After all, having to work on you, I admit, was....unenjoyable, in its way." He shakes his head, his expression as close as it's ever been to solemn in a long long time.

"But you do have a point. Fear doesn't always work, I guess. That fiery one, she was very sharp, it didn't do to try to play to her temper, so instead....well, there was some value in working on a more positive note. Acting to reconcile, or offer friendship......" He grins sharply. "It is so much easier to get them to drop their guards that way. Yes, I see what you mean there, there are so many other ways to catch the foe off guard."

Once more he calms, to the point of near stoicism in his face. "But you know, I can't agree with it either, Athena. You must know it, as well as I do. The first lesson I learned from the Arbiters, after all, was how simple strength and the willingness to use it will solve more than all the love, compassion, and trust in an entire world will. I'm weak. Why would I use the weaker choice, the ways that I already know fail?"

Serpico's expression stills, as if lost for a moment, but he shakes his head, and resumes his normal cheer. "Well, perhaps some more flexibility would help. If my range and control of the colors themselves improves, that would give more more options."

He focuses on enhancing the control and range of his Color rune.

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 Post Posted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 10:56 am 
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Harmony looks like she wants to say something as she sees Kanon go, but holds her tongue.

#############

We'll be seeing him again, I don't doubt.

[Xanatos... we'll need to watch out for him.]

#############

"Well MUSE?" Harmony looks at the glowing ball of light. "I suppose you may as well formally introduce yourself, since one way or another everyone has seen you in action. I don't doubt that some of them are wondering what this MUSE Athena is speaking of is."

#############

I sure hope that Athena has this place soundproofed against eavesdropping. If Solarus finds out we're on his doorstep, so to speak...

/I'm sure it'll be fine. He has better things to do than spy on Athena./

[If so, he's a fool. If I had to choose someone to keep tabs on, Athena would be high up on the list.]

Well, in any case, I suppose introductions are in order.

#############

"INDEED." The cold, logical voice of the Core Program speaks, before the ball of light emits a soft humming song, modulating the voice into something more 'human' sounding. "My name is MUSE - which is less of a name, and more what I once was - the Musica Universalis Search Engine. I am a sentient AI that has... evolved. I am currently acting as Harmony's guardian, aiding her in learning to control her powers and abilities. Our relationship is... symbiotic, you would call it. I function as her shift, and she gives me enough energy to survive."

"Speaking of which..."

Harmony focuses on her Harmony rune, levelling it up. From MUSE, comes a suspiciously familiar da Da Daaa DAAAAAA sound.

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 Post Posted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 5:08 pm 
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Asch tilts her head to the side as Serpico begins acting in a manner which is quite unusual for him, and quickly brings up her database and makes a quick note.

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 Post Posted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 6:37 pm 
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Naomi appears from behind Lumina. Racing forward, the spirit fox bounds into the air and bats at MUSE.

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 Post Posted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:26 pm 
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As Chandi create a new rune, Alexis charges up his old rune, and Asch levels her Mystery Rune the others ponder what they will do. The Awakener decides to make his Ends more powerful, Lumina charges up her Lightning, and Serpico... gets surprisingly insightful. Athena smiles, "You know that may be the first time you didn't call me 'teacher' and just Athena." Serpico enhances his Color Rune. MUSE introduces itself and Athena smiles, nodding and somehow assuring them that MUSE cannot be heard outside the room; as it does so, Harmony powers up her Rune.

"Now that we're all set... here is the problem with your final World." She waves her arm and the room goes dark - the screen lights up again with the picture of a normal looking world, earth-like, with blue skies and oceans, large landmasses and ozone layers. But there's something very eerie about looking at it... the feeling it gives the Arbiters is that of something that's being unnaturally still, despite the fact the world is still spinning.

The information about the world displays below it

[Analysis And Collection] - A recent meteorite impact on the open-world Utopia has caused the Gods of the world and it's populace to ask for Arbiter intervention in discovering the meteorite and collecting it for analysis back at Arbiter HQ. This is an God-Open World, meaning its populace is fully aware of the Arbiters and accept and welcome Gods onto their world; there will be no need to hide your status here. Make contact with the Extraction Team Foreman, collect the Meteorite, and return to HQ with it.

Mission Parameters are the discovery and collection of an reported odd Meteorite on the Open-World Utopia. Please aid any mortals and Gods on this world during your stay with whatever they may need, but return promptly once the Meteorite has been collected.

----------------UPDATE #1

There has been no updates from this world since the original request. We are shortly dispatching a Scout to the world to ascertain the lack of communication and see if they are simply waiting, or if they have successfully extracted the Meteorite.

----------------UPDATE #2

We have sent a Scout to Utopia to ascertain the condition of the planet... and have heard nothing back. We cannot contact him or he is not answering our summons. The visible condition of the world is that something is now off balance, but sensors cannot detect what. Advise extreme caution.

"As you can clearly tell... there is something wrong here. We have no communication what-so-ever on planet and no reports from our Scout, a speedy up and comer named Shin. Serpico you may be familiar with him, he was the God that recruited you." She ponders, "Normally... I wouldn't send students into a situation that was as eerie as this... but you have twice proven yourselves over and I honestly doubt you'd listen to me if I told you not to go and that we'd resume your test at a later time on another world."

She snaps her fingers and the screen vanishes, the lights coming back up. "That being said... here is your NEW mission for Utopia. Find Shin and find out why he's not contacted us. Find why there is a lack of communication at all. Find the source of this stillness and if at all possible, find that meteorite as logic dictates it must have something to do with these sudden changes." She turns her back on the group, arms folded in the small of her back. "What I am about to do... is going to be disputed. But I am trusted in the Counsel of the Elders; and since we're trying to build a trust between you all I am going to reveal this to you against my better judgement and the advice of the Elders."

She turns back, "Simply put... I am a retired Elder God."

She lets this information and what it means sink in, "Before you ask, no I did not retire due to my scarring... I did so 200 years ago to pursue my desire to teach. I am not the first God to retire, nor will I be the last. In fact, the only three members of the Elders that were on the original counsel of seven are Elder's Solarus, Aurora and Yasuhiro; every other member has rotated out and been replaced at one time or the other. I have told you of a Goddess that will be taking the 7th seat... she is my replacement. You see 50 years ago after I was scarred, two Gods left the counsel - one in shock from the events and one 10 years later when he had enough of this lifestyle and left the Arbiters. There stories are for another time. Elder Arkadius took his place... but I, being scarred and unable to battle, took up the 7th seat as an interim Elder while another was sought after. You may be meeting her soon. I tell you this out of trust - as not many know we've been sitting 50 years without all 7 Elders... so please do not spread it around."

"And here is the other half of my reason... I am trusting in you with more than just my secret as a former Elder... but also with a responsibility that most Gods do not get until long after graduation. I am granting you all the ability to Cut Leylines." She raises her hands and a series of extremely complex runes appears over each Arbiter's Shifts and sink into them. "I do this because the situation on Utopia bothers me... and should you all feel that it is needed, that the problem on that world is too great to fix - you have my permission to cut it's Leyline."

She stands and opens her Shift, revealing the same Rune again. "I do this as reward for not contacting me once during your confusing last mission and still solving it. Cutting a Leyline... is dangerous to say the least. You'll want to do it from high in the air - from space if you can manage it; and should you ever need to please... don't look close at the collapse. The mortals will seem to be suffering great fear and death, but remember - their memories are protected and they will know none of it. If a God goes in... well, that's why I say to do it from high into the atmosphere. The collapse has a great pull to it; do not get sucked in."

"Now you may think you do not have the Ether to do this as of yet... and you'd be right. However when using your Leyline Cutters, you do not use your own Ether... you use the Ether of the Planet itself. Doing so will summon up the Leyline visibly, charge your Shift with energy and attune you to it - and then allow you to sever it. Each of your Shifts will take on a different type of form or attack to achieve this... know that this attack CAN be used against your foes, but only at extreme risk... if you accidentally cut the Leyline when you don't mean to... there will be consequences. You will not know the form your Leyline Cutter will take from your Shift until you use it... but expect something along the lines of, for example, Asch may summon up a gigantic planet size sword. The Awakener may summon a tornado in the shape of his Shift's head... some even come out as gigantic energy beams."

((OOC -- The point is here; the shape of your Leyline Cutter is up to you, but must be massive in size. Create and describe it if and when you use it.))

"The only planet you have permission to sever right now is Utopia... in the future, until you are if sufficient rank, you must contact HQ for authorization unless the situation is dire." A moment of silence, "I pray you don't have to use these... but I am not sending you into the unknown ill-prepared again. Let this all sink in my children..." She opens the wall to her personal teleporter, it's ready to go. "If you have concerns, ask them of me now - if not, step on the transporter and you'll be off to your final test. Good luck, all of you, and know I will be watching over you."

((OOC -- New sheets coming shortly after this post))

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 Post Posted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:31 pm 
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Serpico's earlier quiet tone is completely obliterated at one piece of news. "Shin? We're going to get a chance to work with Shin!?" The happy note makes his voice quiver as he all but bounces on the souls of his feet. "I never thought I'd get that chance, so soon! We need to go, right away!"

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 Post Posted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:31 am 
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"Love, compassion and trust are slower, but more powerful in the end." Alexis tells Serpico. "A goodness in the soul is a power in its own right."

He pales slightly when Athena describes the Leyline Cutter, and it doesn't seem that he is likely to try to use it. In preperation for the mission, he forms his Shift into a Dark Doppleganger again; a clone of his own shape, to which he gives a sonic link, allowing it to echolocate and speak. Both Alexis and the Doppleganger shuffle several steps away from the suddenly-happy Serpico; and both of them hide behind Asch.

"It might be a good idea, before we go, to craft a few generic protections." he says, still keeping a cautious echolocatory ear on Serpico. "There is something dangerous there, and a previous arbiter has already been unable to let anyone know what it is." He taps into his newly-enhanced Dark rune to do just that, to create a Dark Aura that imbues all nearby allies with Safety, and incidentally creates a deep darkness around him.

Dark Doppleganger
Sonic Rune: Sonic link to Doppleganger
Dark Rune: Aura of Safety

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 Post Posted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:46 pm 
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Strangely enough, Naomi goes right through MUSE. Apparently its form is a hologram or something... which might also explain why it seems to be able to change its form as it wants.

Harmony looks slightly... amused. MUSE itself, however, buzzes at Naomi menacingly.

Putting on a more serious face, Harmony turns to Athena.

"It sounds as if we should go there as soon as possible. Is there anything you can tell us about the scout - this Arbiter Shin - that might help us find him?"

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 Post Posted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:10 pm 
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Athena sighs, "Look for a high body count and a sense of self-satisfaction. Add one parade balloon sized ego and you've got him." She doesn't seem amused nor is she joking.

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 Post Posted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:29 pm 
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Asch gives a big grumpycat frown at Athena's description, mutters "not another one..." and stands up. "Fine, let's get going."

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 Post Posted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:06 am 
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Athena nods and leads her students to her personal teleporter once more. "Alright... please be careful out there. Unlike before, your return Runes will be activated from the start... press them if things get dicey and try and get Shin back here. Radio me for help all you wish." She looks worried, but smiles as she sets the coordinates and the group is off in a bent-bubble view.

...the classroom disappears.

And a world appears before The Arbiters.

For a single second it seems to be a normal planet; tall skyscrapers, highways and freeways around a lush open green park where the group has landed. There's a playground, trees...

And that's about the time the smell hits. The air is filled with smoke from numerous fires scattered all around the horizon, both inside buildings and behind them. There are cars piled up on top of each other and melted together on the highways - on the far south side of the park is a jet that's crashed into the ground and spread burning debris for miles. Ethereal sense kicks and nearly knocks every off their feet with how vile and chaotic the entire planet feels. There's no sound in the air expect that of crackling fire and the steady sound of fabric being torn... there's nobody around save for corpses. And there's hundreds scattered all over the place.

Behind the city-line appears to be a gigantic black crystaline structure, something akin to a quartz formation but massive in scale - it reaches stories above even the tallest towers and just looking at it puts anyone in the group ill-at-ease, even The Awakener. The silence is deafening and makes the tearing sound stand out sharply...

Following it, The Arbiters easily spot the tiny form of a little 8 year old girl crouched over something tan. Her hair is matted and filthy in places, hanging lifeless straight down her head. She wears nothing but a torn white dress... least it would be white if it wasn't covered in red, brown, and other sickly stains. It becomes quickly apparent she's got an old teddy bear pinned to the ground in one hand and a butchers knife in the other. She does not notice The Arbiters at first and continues to tear at the bear, slowly, almost lovingly, she splits the bear open along its seams and gently scoops out the fluff inside, placing it into her mouth and chewing.

A moment later she goes perfectly still; unnaturally so and makes a single small sniffing sound. She stands up quicker than her emaciated limbs should allow and turns to face the group; bear forgotten on the ground and knife still clutched in her tiny hand. Her skin is sallow, pale; each beat of her heart shows in the pulsing of her well defined veins. Her eyes... are strange. Where there should be a black pupil, there is white. And where there should be white eyeball is nothing but black lined with spider-web like red veins. The color of her iris is startling blue, like the ocean.

She cocks her head to one side and takes a second sniff; an open mouth smile slowly plays across her face, revealing each tooth inside her small mouth to be pointed. She stands perfectly still once again...

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 Post Posted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:22 am 
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"... I have a bad feeling about this. MUSE?"

With a soft hum, MUSE 'looks' around. "Looks like the place went World War Z."

While MUSE analyzes the environment around them, Harmony listens to the 'song' of musica universalis around them - of the world itself, of the crystalline formation, and of the little girl.

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 Post Posted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:34 am 
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Alexis sends his Doppleganger ahead, to meet the little girl first. "You didn't land with the meteor, did you..." he murmurs. "You're a person who was somehow changed, controlled... by some bright, unknown influence... let's see if this works... what's world war Z?"

As soon as the Doppleganger is close enough, its tail shoots out, grabbing the little girl's knife arm, holding it still. Alexis taps into his Dark Rune for safety, and tries to expel any evil influence from the girl.

"Asch - can you send Athena an illusion of what this girl looks like?"

Dark Doppleganger: Grab weapon hand
Dark Rune x2: Safety: Expel evil influence.

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