Meetup with Yasu

Having made it to the encampment first, Skywriter took the liberty of seeking out one of the soldiers who could point them out where to go. "Hey there," she called the man out, that one being a big fellow with glasses (otherwise, the same as any other soldier.

The man adjusted his thick frames and seemed to hunch slightly as he spoke. "Hello Miss Skywriter," he began, crossing his hands behind his back. "If you head towards the Subordinate's area, you should find Yasu there. She just came back into the camp a short while ago. The Shogun has yet to return. As to whether she intends for you all to meet her there... I couldn't say. It's the Subordinate's Area and we soldiers are never allowed inside," he explained in his gruff tone.

"Hmm... I wonder why that is? I've never seen anything too special back there," she murmured. "Then again, I've never been inside the main hall. I do know the Shogun likes his privacy."

"Yes. I suppose he must have a lot to deal with without all of our questsions as well..." the soldier mused, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.

Skywriter gave the soldier navi a quick bow, then head towards the meditation hall. MachMan, Skywriter, and whichever SPs chose to tag along would have nowhere to go but the Subordinate Area they'd been directed to. They'd find two things a little strange: first, that the gate to the area was open (although everyone involved was capable of flight and wouldn't necessarily even need that entrance). The next, even stranger, was that the door to the meditation hall had been left open. Yasu was standing inside, facing the wall opposite from the Shogun's seat. For once, the armor didn't seem to be seated there. The First General might even be meditating herself, although the look on her stern face did look thoughtful. She might be communicating with someone, possibly even the Shogun, given that they'd apparently been out of contact a while. The look on her face seemed none too happy; her one exposed eye glared forward, not noticing anyone watching.
((From Netfrica Camp))

The trio beamed down near Skywriter's position, and their attention was initially focused on the Navi's conversation with a bespectacled soldier. At least it seemed Yasu wouldn't be difficult to find, but it didn't explain why the Shogun was unable to contact her. Mach walked up to Skywriter and the soldier, with Aera and Vector in tow; all three all in their issued NS uniforms. "We appreciate the information," Mach spoke to the soldier and returned the bow with a slight one of his own, then looked to Skywriter as he stood up straight. "Let's head in."

He turned and began to walk towards the open gate, while Aera and Vector fell in behind him, instinctively taking to the wings to make the trio walk in a chevron formation. Aera smiled kindly and nodded to the soldier in thanks, while Vector gave an equally polite albeit expressionless nod. Mach adjusted his pace to walk next to Skywriter, then voiced his concerns loudly enough for the group to hear. "I would understand contact being difficult if Yasu was MIA or in combat, but she's allegedly here, and I see no signs of combat. It's a bit strange, don't you think?" Mach concluded, briefly opening the floor for comments.

As they moved to the open meditation hall, they'd eventually catch sight of the General, who appeared to be focused on something. Mach looked over his shoulders to get the attention of both his SPs and Skywriter, then silently tilted his head to the Yasu's position. He didn't say a word, and the SPs understood this as a cue to be quiet. He looked to Skywriter, and placed his index finger vertically over the lower half of his face. His pace slowed as he tried to dampen his footfalls while he approached. He listened in while he watched Yasu's reactions. He didn't expect Yasu to be involved in some nefarious activities, but the recent secrets and nebulous clandestine ops have encouraged Mach to be more cautious, and unfortunately less trusting.

That said, if nothing caused Mach to halt his quiet approach, he'd politely knock on any solid surface of the meditation hall to get the General's attention. Upon obtaining it, he'd state their purpose. "General, the Shogun was trying to contact you, but was unable to do so. Is everything alright?"
Skywriter stayed mostly quiet, contemplative, as she tagged along with MachMan and co., on their way to meet Yasu. The soldier seemed to appreciate their professionalism, returning a salute, albeit a gruff and terse one, before lumbering on. MachMan thought out loud about what Yasu's circumstances must be that might lead her not to respond to him or the Shogun. "That is strange. Honestly... well, I shouldn't say, but it's kind of a joke among us subordinates that spend most of our time around the camp that she's like a mom who can't stop sending text messages. It's unusual for her to be hands off, especially at a time like this, when we're all worried about the ROT being around," she agreed. She hushed up quickly as she realized they were essentially on Yasu's door-step now. Closing the distance hadn't taken long.

She grew even more quiet to match MachMan's instructions; he wanted to approach Yasu quietly, having sensed something suspicious. He approached as quietly as he could, but Yasu spotted him before he was ready despite his wishes. "You can't silence your shadow growing across the one entrance into this room, MachMan," she growled, seeming even more on edge than usual. As she turned, MachMan noticed a difference that had not stood out from a distance: the First General was wearing a thin black eye-patch, instead of her usual green cloth bandage, which surrounded a leaf-shaped emblem that covered one eye. Other than that, her disposition was mostly familiar, only perhaps a little more irascible even than was ordinary.

"S-Sorry, First General Yasu! We just came from the Netfrica Camp and there's been all kinds of weirdness going on. Things got pretty heavy!" Skywriter added, before looking to the others for confirmation. Another thought seemed to suddenly enter her head. "I-I mean, the ROT stuff was weird and got pretty heavy! I'm focused!" she corrected herself, shaking her purple hair and waving her hands, as if worried her superiors had caught on to something she'd rather stay hidden. "Aaah, just go ahead and debrief!"

Yasu raised an eyebrow, then rolled her one exposed eye. "Pfah! I can't tell exactly what it is you're talking about it, but it's clearly not the report I'm looking for. And I'm getting vaguely irritated just watching your face redden." The First General was in no mood for silliness; she snapped her fingers in the air and looked straight to MachMan. "Report! We've been attacked on every front... Imagine my surprise to learn that I repelled those two ROT attackers only to come back and find the camp besieged and learn that I am, for whatever reason, not allowed to loiter near the preparation zone for the defenders! My befuddlement to hear that the Netfrica Camp was nearly destroyed on the watch of our flying squadron and those soldiers who have already completed their martial training! The Shogun, our lord and liege, MIA and completely unaccounted for over a period of hours, followed by his eminence disappearing again to meet with a bloated fool that we have no business associating with in the first place! Tell me, MachMan, can at least you say that you have served the Empire well today?"

The First General didn't seem to be heated, but did seem downright cold, glaring straight into MachMan's eyes. "And when you're done with your report, why don't you tell me who you think is responsible for the attacks and our sorry state of preparation regarding them? You tell me what you think and then I'll tell you what I think." Skywriter seemed to have shrunk into the background, not being the best at dealing with this kind of tension.
Though the joke about Yasu being the "Shogunate Mom" was amusing, said "mom" had quickly caught the group approaching. Mach abandoned his sneaking gait upon hearing Yasu call him out, prompting his SPs to do the same. Yasu sounded more aggravated than usual, but according to previous reports she was seeing to the camps defenses, perhaps things didn't go the way she liked? The trio halted just inside the meditation hall, Mach stood next to Skywriter, while Aera stood to Mach's right, and Vector to his left. Mach and Vector kept their focus on Yasu, but Aera couldn't help but break her bearing to look at Skywriter curiously as she stumbled over her attempt to explain what happened in the Netfrica camp.

Yasu was predictably unamused, then put her cross-hairs on Mach. He made a pronounced step forward as he was called upon, and stood rigidly as she more or less vented about the vexing things that befell her recently. While he noticed the eye patch change first, what was more perplexing was her claim she was for some reason barred from her defenders' prep area. Thankfully the other questions were more or less easy to answer. He quickly assembled his response, but was beaten by Yasu and her unsettling cold glare. Said glare and seemingly loaded question didn't sit well with him, something felt really off. He initially questioned her true identity, but her previous comments to Skywriter felt undeniably "Yasu," in nature...

"General," Mach began, with a stern formality to his voice. "The camp has been secured, and we have 3 captured prisoners enroute. While the soldiers' wounds were tended to and fortifications rebuilt with the help of my SPs, we located and safely recovered the Shogun from the Blesser Court. In compliance with the Shogun's orders, we did so without harming diplomatic relations with BlessMan or Boss Oni. Now I'm under his orders, Ma'am, to locate you and find out why he's been unable to establish comms with you." His tone didn't change, though he had more than enough chances to tout his successes, then turn the tables on Yasu by browbeating her for not responding to the Shogun's messages. Yasu was agitated enough, and he didn't know her quite well enough to feel sufficiently prepared to butt heads with her.

That said, his laser focus matched her glare as he continued. "It's too convenient that ROT attacked so soon after securing the renegade Blesser, Jack. But all I have connecting the two... is coincidence. For the lack of preparation, I bear a good deal of responsibility; my plan was to have the squadron become an "any time, anywhere" quick reaction force. We were able to cover two fronts effectively, but I could've better utilized my forces, as well as trained & equipped them to repel the ROT threat with ease. As their commander, I'll take responsibility." Mach decided to "stand tall" and take the blame for his squadron's failure to repel the ROT attack without damage or casualties, even if that expectation is fairly high for a unit consisting of only 3 members other than Mach and his SPs. Vector stood tall as well, as if his presence would help "soften the blow" Mach would likely receive from Yasu. Aera didn't shrink back like Skywriter, but she couldn't help but feel uneasy; she did manage to keep Boss Oni placated and ultimately succeed in the mission, but she assumed her methods would be seen as vulgar and unsightly by the scowling general.
The First General nodded, frowning a little less so, but still frowning. Most who knew her recognized that as her complacent face, smiles being rare in nature. "Good. It sounds like you cleaned up that mess rather admirably," she nodded, looking in turn at each of MachMan's companions. "As did you all. Forgive me, I'm sensing I've caused you undue tension. It sounds like you all made the best out of a bad situation. I'm thankful to you all for containing that." She didn't directly answer the comms question and instead allowed him to continue speaking. She smirked somewhat as he continued, then waved one hand in dismissal. "Again, your apologies aren't needed. This was not a failure in your leadership," she continued cryptically.

"I do like the idea of you taking responsibility, however. Before I continue that thought, allow me to tell you what I've been up to. Show and tell," she shrugged, then smiled again, this time a bit wickedly. She held out her hands, as though to produce a data packet. Instead, what appeared in her hands was some strange, chromatic steel object, a bit like an egg in shape. Wires hang down from the orb gave some idea of its origin, as the tips were leaking data, implying it was a piece from some navi or virus. The whole thing was wrapped in the same ropes that MachMan had seen earlier, the kind intended to prevent jackout. She raised an eyebrow and continued smiling, before rotating the object in her hands so he could get a better look. One of the wires hanging down could now be distinguished as something like a metallic spinal cord. Two of the others looked like eye-stalks; one still had a camera-like lens on the end, its lid half shut, while the other had been torn off. "Do you know what you're looking at?"

Skywriter shook her head, still seeming a bit uneasy despite the First General's reassurances.

Yasu shined the surface with the back of one hand, casually. "This is BrainMan, the former leader of the Right of Operation Templar. I say former because I have defeated him and his second in command, Domm. The latter escaped, but I have the remains of the former right here, in my possession. For all I know this is just junk data; so much of him has been destroyed that it's hard to tell if he's capable of recovery. The point being is he is at the very least incapacitated. The ROT don't even know that they've already been defeated!" She gave him a moment to speak, then continued. "Those two... or, the one of them I left alive, are surely regretting their decision to ambush us. And that brings me back to my original point. How much time, effort, and energy could we have saved if we'd been allowed to go after all of these scum, proactively, and destroyed them? And what have we been doing instead? Nonsense like talk shows, game shows, attending cruises and parties. Like we've already won the war! Enemies are all around us and we let them fester, grow, and multiply instead of eliminating them."

She stepped forward, getting in MachMan's face as she pointed to her eyepatch. "This. You're wondering about this, are you not? Officially, I lost my old eyepatch during the battle. In reality, however, I tossed it myself right after I finished off that failure of a leader. Because you know what I realized? I'm done serving our failure of a leader!" She didn't wait for him to get a word in this time, backing up and swiping her fist back down to her side. "It's ludicrous! We know these navis and their intentions and we continue to ignore them. How many such opponents are we going to let walk free? We have the tools now. We should be destroying threats, not negotiating with them. The time will come when we'll be at war with not just the ROT and petty marauders, but with the NetPolice and the NetMafia! We grow more and more complacent and how much longer will it be before they take advantage of the hospitality we show them at every turn?! Were the threat more considerable, I would have been the one deleted. I'm tired giving my life to someone who doesn't deserve it. Enough is enough! I've forgotten why I even pledged myself to that ridiculous man, who does nothing but sit on his own legs and stare at a dark wall for hours at a time! Has he done anything for any of us!? Not a thing!"

Her hair swished as she turned to look at them again. "I've already come up with an excuse to get away from my operator's prying eyes and those of Neo-ShogunMan himself. A slow, discrete coup, that's what I propose. The Neo-Shogun Empire needs its fangs back! It needs powerful fighters like you, DragonierMan, myself, and Escort. It does not need dead weight like our lord and liege. I'm not proposing necessarily that I be the one to lead. I'd be perfectly happy in my current role. Perhaps you make the jump from squad leader to Shogun... perhaps DragonierMan, given his long service and admirable results, despite other indiscretions that please me little. All I know is that as long as that fool of a Shogun remains in power, all of us will suffer." She looked at the bundle of metal she'd dropped on the floor, then back up to MachMan. "We were lucky that it was only me that was ambushed and that the enemies underestimated me. Are there any of your allies that you would willingly sacrifice to an ambush like that? No, I value all of them... I value you and your crew, too much. We needn't destroy the Shogun, but we must depose him... restraining him with our new tools ought to do the trick."

At this point, she crossed her arms and looked between them. Realizing she'd been ranting, she closed her eyes to calm down. "Perhaps that was too much too quickly. Perhaps I'm actually out of my mind. Could I really be thinking about betraying the man I've given so much of my time and dedication to? I'm afraid so. But I want to hear what you think. Perhaps a change in leadership is just what the Neo-Shogun Empire needs to get back on track? Should I discuss this with DragonierMan as well to get us all of one mind? Should... I abandon this plan and go back to the status quo, brainlessly serving whatever our inept leader gets in his head to assign us all to do? You've seen ineffective leadership today and its wages... the ROT crushed. The Blessers in disarray, from what I hear. Good officers like yourself are the only thing that separates us from failures like those organizations."

Off to the side, Skywriter's eyes were still as big as dinner-plates and had been since Yasu revealed a piece of crumbling junk that had once been a navi, apparently. She looked to MachMan for the response, unsure of anything to say. Yasu had confided quite a lot in MachMan, possibly something to think about or act upon... possibly something to dismiss or warn the Shogun of. It seemed like the Shogun's right-hand lady was looking to put a knife in his back and MachMan was the only one who could decide whether to stay her hand or help her twist the blade. Even if he did wish to dissuade her, could things go back to normal after her startling revelation? And also worth asking... was this even the real Yasu? Or could it be that she was manipulated somehow during the ambush? It was even possible that, as she'd said, the dangerous experience had truly changed something in her and inverted her view.
Mach was relieved that Yasu reacted well to his mission successes, and as expected the "heat" was staved off by his lack of excuses. She initially seemed normal in her reaction, but it didn't take long before she made an increasing number of uncharacteristic expressions and remarks. Her sinister smile prior to showing off the skeletal remains of BrainMan set all three of the programs off; something was clearly amiss. Mach didn't change his stance, and continued to listen quietly, though his SPs made the occasional glance to him to wordlessly query for guidance. They would receive no such guidance from Mach, he was focused on playing along and attempting to find clues into what was really going on with the now ranting general.

She sounded bitter about how little the Shogunate does to hunt down and destroy threats before they attack, instead of reacting and attempting to negotiate. Mach couldn't help but hear himself in Yasu's words, considering he suggested something similar when dealing with BlessMan. However, "cooler heads" prevailed and he was talked down by the Shogun. Yasu got close, uncomfortably so, and made even more uncomfortable words. She spoke of a significant shift in doctrine, namely shifting from reactionary and diplomacy-based operations to a more offensive military stance, and ultimately separating from the Shogun's direction and leadership. Mach remained unwavering and stone-faced, though his mind was racing. Wasn't that the Shogunate's original doctrine, before suffering massive losses to a mere 5-Navi team? Did she really want to go down that road again? That foolish, almost naïve assumption of their strength combined with her incredibly bizarre lack of loyalty to the Shogun sold Mach on something being seriously wrong. Either she's snapped, or she's hiding what really happened during her encounter with BrainMan and Domm.

She even went as far as to suggest Mach should become the new Shogun, or DragonierMan under this proposed coup. While she claimed this would be for the good of the Shogunate, Mach could already predict the opposite. Considering the Shogun's own gender wasn't kept secret, a coup no matter how discrete would be found out before the entirety of the organization defected to the new leadership. Mach assumed such a coup would cause a divide in the organization, and possibly violent conflict between the "separatists" and the "loyalists." If Mach was in the shoes of an organization looking to destroy the shogunate, he'd capitalize on their divided and vulnerable state to wipe them out. He felt this would be obvious to Yasu as well. However, instead of calling her out on her foolish insubordination, he decided to play along. He couldn't help but feel like there was something else in play, something behind the scenes, and going along with her plan might get him close enough to expose the truth.

"Hm..." Mach sighed contemplatively as he crossed his arms and furrowed his brow. "You bring up an interesting proposal, one that warrants discussion, but in a less... open area," he concluded before moving to Yasu's side, and pointed deeper into the meditation hall, hopefully to a more secluded room if there was one present. "Let's talk, one on one. My SPs can secure the entrance and shield us from prying eyes and ears," his suggestion was partially to prevent others from overhearing, while also attempting to separate her from what she claims to be the remains of BrainMan. Now was the time to develop and test the theories that would explain her significant change in loyalty and behavior. If he managed to convince her to take the discussion to a more private area, he'd shoot a quick direct message to Aera, and Aera alone, just after turning to follow Yasu to wherever she led.

Quote (Mach)

Examine "BrainMan." Look for transmissions/activity. Give it a zap or two if need be, to see if it reacts.

Beyond that, Mach gave no additional guidance, leaving Vector and Skywriter in the dark. While Vector would ultimately stifle his protests and stay behind as indirectly ordered, but it wasn't known how Skywriter would react. If she tried to follow, she'd find her wrist gently grasped by Aera's hand, mostly to get her attention rather than restrain her. Upon getting her attention, Aera would make eye contact and have a calm expression as she'd subtly put her open palm out, requesting her to wait.
Yasu nodded along with MachMan, then gave a look back to his companions. "Perhaps I rushed into this after all... I simply assumed that whatever I'd say to you could be said in front of your squadmates as well. But perhaps this is something that we'd be better off hammering out the finer details of on a one-on-one basis," she agreed, though the others weren't exactly springing forward to present their opinions. "I'm afraid that this meditation hall is no deeper than it looks. If you want privacy, our best solution would be to ask the others to stand outside while we discuss." She pointed out to indicate they should go; Skywriter, at least, was happy to oblige. Aera, on the other hand, had been assigned a specific task, one which would not be easy to do from outside the meditation hall. She'd either need to think up an excuse to remove BrainMan's remains, sneak them out, or otherwise, to stay inside with them. It was in Aera's favor, however, that Yasu didn't seem to care to prevent her from interacting with the remains.

Once Vector, Skywriter, and possibly Aera, had left, Yasu would clear her throat and continue. "I understand your caution. I've always shown great loyalty to the Shogun and you must find it rather surprising that I've decided he's no longer fit for the job. The truth is, the generals and myself all owe him for kindness he showed us in the past. In my case, it was the alliance he provided me against the Alexis after they destroyed my village. But that was a different Shogun... one not afraid to bolster his military and fight when the cause demanded it. I feel confident in saying that if the same Neo-ShogunMan happened upon my village under attack as he did back that day, he wouldn't raise a finger to help. The thought of negotiating or reasoning with Alex or her army of savages makes my skin crawl," she shuddered. "The truth is, I believe the Empire has come as far as it has by the work of its officers, like you and the others. We've all done our parts; it's only the Shogun who hinders us and makes us look weak and vulnerable."

She cocked her chin up slightly and frowned, crossing her arms tightly in front of her heavy bosom. "On that note, let me ask you, MachMan. How did your meeting with Boss Oni go? Did he seem like the type of person that we ought to be making alliances with? Or do you think he's the type of person we should be fighting against? And know that in this war of factions, it's naive to assume we could simply ignore him. He'll insert himself into our affairs either way," she murmured, glowering.
"...I see," Mach remarked as he looked back to the entrance of the meditation hall. "Very well. Vector, keep Skywriter company, while keeping others out. Aera, you can stay here; I don't want too many folks outside, might draw too much attention," Mach calmly ordered to his SPs. Vector put his arm horizontally across his chest in a saluting gesture, then turned and followed Skywriter out. If Skywriter was hesitant to leave, Vector would stop, then gesture towards the entrance. "After you, Miss."

Once the pair had posted outside the meditation hall, Mach listened to Yasu explain her background with the Shogun, namely how he helped Yasu retaliate against those who destroyed her village, and her current lack of confidence in his ability to do something similar now. [[i]A village? Not the weirdest thing I've heard of, but I'm surprised such settlements existed.[/i]] Mach pondered.

Meanwhile, Aera was half-listening, due to her task to examine the alleged remains of BrainMan. She looked for any signs of activity, and poked it a few times to see if it reacted. She couldn't tell if it could emit any signals, but she could try her Tesla Pulse on it, primarily to see if there was any reaction to Yasu. She didn't attempt to hide her interest in the object, she felt any attempt to be clandestine while standing mere feet away would be more suspicious than bold-faced curiosity.

Mach nodded along, but stopped as Yasu addressed him directly on the subject of Boss Oni. "It was, civil, considering the situation," Mach summarized, rocking his head slightly from side to side, mentally debating on whether or not "civil" was the correct word. Aera's ears perked up, and she looked slightly away to hide any potential blush on her face; if he knew what happened, "civil" would not be a good description. Continuing on, Mach gave his opinion on Boss Oni himself, but with an interesting caveat. "I personally find him repulsive, but the Shogun revealed some interesting information about him. He claimed Boss Oni used to be known as "ShogunMan," who was, I quote: "was a man worthy of respect and a great inspiration for the path I walk today." Though he may be too far gone to be saved and restored to his former self, he is allegedly one of the "sanest members of the Teksqp family," and holds a significant amount of power," Mach explained. Though he quoted the Shogun twice, he made no attempt to imitate the NS leader's voice; he felt a bad imitation would cheapen the information.

"Pardon me..." Aera spoke up, with her hands behind her back. "Sorry for interrupting, but Boss Oni also claimed he could "turn off" all of the EJO-blocking rope with a simple call to the Techari. It could be a lie, but it sounds like he could have that amount of sway in the rest of the Mafia," she explained and added her two cents in, while looking at Yasu. Mach had turned slightly so he could make eye contact with Aera, and once she finished he nodded in agreement before turning back to Yasu. "So I don't think outright hostilities are wise, which aligns with the Shogun's goals."

Mach glanced back to Aera to give a nod, prompting her to get back to examining BrainMan, then continued with Yasu, this time shifting gears to the greater topic at hand. "On the topic of the Shogun, I am truly honored you believe I'm fit to lead the empire, I mean that wholeheartedly. However, I don't think a regime change is the best idea, for two reasons," Mach started with a thankful bow, then stood up straight before raising his right hand, and extending his index finger upwards. "First, even with a "gradual, subtle coup," I fear it would cause a rift in the empire; our forces might divide to two "camps:" those loyal to the Shogun, and those loyal to me (or whoever the new Shogun would be). If we're divided, we're even more vulnerable, especially if said two camps start fighting eachother," Mach explained, and paused for a moment before raising his middle finger as well. "Secondly, once the rest of the net is aware of the coup/regime change; and believe me, they'll know, this will put "blood in the water." If I was running the Mafia, the Blessers, FORFEIT, or anyone wanting to seize or destroy the empire, a coup would be a perfect opportunity to strike. I'm afraid we'd quickly be overwhelmed with attacks of opportunity," he said with a grave tone in his voice.

Aera paused as she picked up on his tone. She initially had a flowery mental image of Mach in grand, Shogun-like armor, with Vector and herself at his side while they looked upon a vast hall of soldiers led by a cadre of generals, all kneeling in uniform respect towards him. She liked the idea of him being in power, but his comment made it sound like he'd only temporarily rule over a weakened, fractured, and ultimately doomed empire.

Mach put his hand down, and gestured towards Yasu with a less ominous tone. "That said, we could get the results you want without also buying the risks I mentioned. We could shift the Shogun's strategies with advice from his generals, or convince him to delegate more... "kinetic" matters to select generals. I think he'd trust and listen more to you and the other long-time generals, but if it helps to make me a general and add another voice to the conversation, I'm game for that." He looked to Yasu intently, interested in how she'd react. Though his initial reaction to this was suspicion of foul play, it seemed Yasu wasn't actually under duress. That said, he'd still prod for information, and didn't urge Aera to stop her analysis.

Outside, Vector stopped a couple feet away from the door. Though he intended to stand guard, Mach's comments regarding his goal in not drawing attention prompted the SP to assume a more relaxed stance. Instead of posting next to the door, he approached Skywriter to engage in "small talk," since that's what he assumed folks would do in normal, totally-not-guarding-a-secret-meeting situations. He had a good plan, but he quickly found himself stumbling over what he would say to initiate the conversation. "How have you been, Miss Skywriter? It seems you all were successful with the Blessers, though they sound to be incredibly dangerous." Smooth... ish.
Aera would find nothing further than she'd seen originally, just inspecting the wreckage of BrainMan, except that the closer she looked, the more she'd realize that it was a chromatic metal brain with a hanging stem coming from its base. Prodding it, however, would produce a strong electric shock, such that she likely wouldn't want to try it more than once. Either there was a lot of static electricity still covering the surface of the corpse or BrainMan might not be so dead after all. Yasu didn't seem terribly concerned, even once she shocked it. The brain stem did react, however, flapping slightly; the eye-like lens that was left in tact blinked opened and shut a few times, before going back to staring. It was eerie, but not terribly conclusive.

The First General lowered her eyebrow with a skeptical glare as MachMan described the encounter with Boss Oni. "Civil? Ha... That's quite some story. It would mean a lot more to me if I still had an ounce of respect for that blundering man in armor... As it stands, this is simply a case of a fool respecting another, similar fool," she scoffed. "From what I know, however, he sounds repugnant. If you ask me, the Shogun's admiration for Boss Oni is only another sign of his increasingly apparent poor character." She tilted her chin up as Aera pitched in her thoughts. "True... We can't move against him right away if he holds the keys to our one means of actually making ground in this war. I suppose we'll have to put up with that man for a bit longer. The Shogun, however, offers us nothing."

Her frown deepened as she realized MachMan wasn't buying what she was selling. "I understand your concern about dividing our forces, but the Shogun will do that himself, the way things are going! I can't be the only one thinking about a change in leadership, he being as ineffectual as he is. This would only ensure we have the element of surprise with us. Less mess... if we choose to make a mess, of course. And the blood is already in the water! The ROT saw the weakness of our leadership, the division of our forces by your instinct-devoid leader, and chose that moment to attack. If we'd had a stronger leader at the helm, they'd never have dared."

Although irritated, she quieted down for a bit longer to listen to what else he had to say. She rubbed her chin thoughtfully, seeming to calm, then smiled... still a bit mean-spiritedly, rather than fondly. "A fair enough idea... The Shogun still trusts the two of us greatly. I believe the best course of action may be to retain my position as First General... and beneath myself, but elevated above all others in the army, I will name you and DragonierMan my left and right hand. We can get him in on our plan... he's got the ambition and sense to follow us, I believe. The only difficult part... we 'generals' are so named not only four our long service in the army, but also because one operator uniquely manages the four of our PETs. I've momentarily distracted that operator from mine, but typically, I won't be able to do so. This means if I ever act on our plan, the other generals will know... even so much as a communication. For this reason, I'd like you to be the one who asks DragonierMan for his cooperation. I doubt he'll protest once he hears that he stands to be elevated to a new rank after this, but if he suspects that the words are coming from you rather than me... Record this and play it back to him: 'MachMan is to become my left hand, and you, DragonierMan, my right.' Hopefully, that will convince him."

With that explanation finished, she crossed her hands behind her hips and stared back down towards BrainMan's corpse. "Well, what do you think? You two could serve as my hands for now and, in time, we may find a way to elevate you further. If there's anything else I might do to convince you of the nobility of my cause, please, let me know what it might be. I understand if you're still shaken or suspicious about any of this," she continued. "Or anything you might improve the deal for you." By the sounds of it, MachMan would quickly run out of time to question or otherwise investigate Yasu, given that she apparently would no longer be able to openly discuss her intentions once the operator was watching her again.


Outside, Skywriter stood awkwardly, alone with Vector. She was used to being alone with MachMan (and typically enjoyed that situation), and, to some extent, alone with Aera, but Vector was typically not the most talkative to begin with, and the two of them had some heavy thinking topics to roll over right now. Her face became a bit red as Vector mentioned the previous mission. "O-Oh, yes. I've been fine. I was lucky enough to get through both the ROT attack and the Blesser Court without any injury," she replied, giving a polite smile. "The Blessers may be dangerous, but... possibly not all of them. And I don't know if they're really malevolent... they might just be very confused. It's something almost like Alzheimer's that's affecting them... Pretty hard to describe," she murmured distractedly, looking back at the door the two of them were guarding.

Eager to get her mind off of the coup that Yasu was discussing, she turned her head to face Vector. "Well, um... How about you, Vector? What were you up to while MachMan was at Blesser's Court? I know Aera was probably having a hard time with Boss Oni, but you were watching out for her, I guess... That probably made her feel safe. You have a... soothing presence," she spoke quietly, staring back down at her feet as she realized how odd that must sound.
"Ow!" Aera yelped, though she managed to keep her voice down to a conversational volume, even while she recoiled and tried to "shake the pain off" her fingers. This obviously caught Mach's attention; he turned to check on Aera, and saw her put the tips of her fingers in her mouth in an attempt to sooth the burning/tingling sensation. Her eyes briefly caught Mach's gaze, causing her to pause in place before giving him an "OK" expression with her free hand. A slight blush grew on her face and she looked away sheepishly, she realized she looked pretty foolish and interrupted a serious conversation. Mach gave a very slight nod before he turned back to Yasu. He didn't push the issue, but it took a few moments to get the picture of her out of his head; it was oddly cute, after all.

Aera slid her fingers from her mouth, leaving behind a few green crackling sparks of data, suggesting she'd briefly activated some of her healing programs. Her eyes narrowed as she focused on BrainMan with an almost vengeful look on her face. She extended her pointer and middle fingers on her previously jolted hand, which soon began to quietly crackle with electricity. Since she assumed her target wouldn't scurry off, she didn't feel the need to go all out on her Tesla Pulse (namely the explosive light show). She pointed her two fingers directly at BrainMan's forehead, then created a small electrical surge with the goal to zap BrainMan with a very localized EMP. That was pretty much the extent of what she could do at this point. Soon afterwards, she began to question how Yasu was able to handle BrainMan without being shocked as well... More questions began to brew in her mind, distracting her somewhat from the task at hand.

Meanwhile, Yasu's opinion of Boss Oni and the Shogun appeared unchanged, in fact her criticisms about the Shogun increased in frequency. She made counterpoints to Mach's argument, and though they were assumptions just like Mach's points, they seemed a bit farfetched in Mach's opinion. Though he didn't have all of the background information, one could make the argument ROT attacked now because this might've been their last chance to stand on equal footing with the NS. Unless his assessment of the organization was incorrect, he felt the NS's membership, strength, and influence has been steadily increasing since their defeat at the hands of Rhea and her comrades.

Thankfully it appeared Yasu was more receptive to his suggestion of making him a General, even if it wasn't currently possible. She also revealed an interesting tidbit of background on the other generals and herself, namely the fact they are all controlled by a single NetOp. [[i]That would explain why I've never seen nor heard of their NetOp, I nearly assumed they were unoperated,[/i]] Mach mused to himself. His attention was drawn back to Yasu herself when she prompted him to record her message for DragonierMan, which he did as requested. However, he didn't immediately send it; he still wasn't entirely convinced by Yasu's suddenly mutinous behavior. "I understand, but yes, this is still too sudden a change for me to shake off my suspicions," Mach concluded as Aera approached before she spoke up as well. "I feel the same way. I'm curious, how were you able to hold BrainMan without getting shocked?" Aera asked with a fairly easy question, then paused and furrowed her brow before committing to a much more pointed question. Though she expected to take some fire from this, she did her best to stand confidently in front of the general, and look at her directly. "Did you at least tell the Shogun how you felt? I... I don't know him as well as you do, but he still seems like a reasonable man to me. Maybe he believes negotiation is the best way, because he cares for everyone's well being, just like you do. If he knew you felt his strategy puts his followers in too much danger, I think he'd at least do something to ease your concerns."

Mach's eyebrows raised as he watched Aera question the general. It wasn't like her to be so forward, especially with someone as high ranking and intimidating as Yasu. Maybe Aera felt she would better connect with Yasu because she's a fellow woman? In reality, Aera was driven more by frustration than cunning. She was still not quite "over" what happened at the NetFrica camp, and still felt some shame by keeping what happened a secret from Mach. The hypocrisy wasn't lost on her for calling Yasu out on keeping secrets from the Shogun, but she felt this issue was too important to ignore.

While Mach agreed with Aera's sentiment, it was also apparent they had little time to discuss the issue. If Yasu's reactions to the questions or the EMP didn't yield any significant clues suggesting she wasn't herself, Mach's alternative was to accept her offer to be her "left-hand-man." It would at least give him enough time to continue investigating, as well as get him closer to the generals' affairs. If the coup became unavoidable, hopefully his position would give him enough information to help keep the regime change from being the NS's death knell.


Vector stood casually, but his distinct lack of movement still made him look stiffly formal even as he listened quietly to Skywriter. He did; however, tilt his head slightly when Skywriter gave her opinion of the Blessers. Up to that point, he'd only heard ominous things about the Blessers, so this new information was surprising and very interesting. He believed the Navi without hesitation, partially out of trust in her, and out of his own naivety. "I see... I'm relieved they aren't all quite as dangerous as others have made them out to be," he remarked, and reflexively looked to the building entrance since Skywriter looked that way.

His focus went back to Skywriter as she asked some questions of her own, causing him to stand a bit straighter. He was initially puzzled by Skywriter's description of his presence, it was the first time he'd ever been described in such a way, but he wasn't any less flattered by it. "I'm... flattered, Miss Skywriter. I'm glad I help allies like yourself feel at ease. I initially stood guard over the camp while Lady Aera spoke with Boss Oni, then she had me see to the repairs of the encampment. She's become powerful and cunning in her own right, she likely doesn't need my protection much nowadays..." Vector trailed off and looked to the ground contemplatively, then seemed to get an emboldened "expression" indicated by his eyes glowing slightly brighter, then proudly concluded "..but I will always be there, just in case!"

He realized his declaration, though proud and optimistic, left the conversation awkwardly hanging. He tried to recover and put his fist to his mouth as he "cleared his throat," "Erm, apologies," he remarked and put his hand down. "How do you feel about the 'Aerial Squadron'? Is there anything you suggest we do to improve, is there anything that concerns you?" Vector asked, falling back on "talking shop."
Yasu was momentarily distracted, watching along with MachMan as Aera continued messing with the remains of BrainMan. Any attempt to shock the corpse only produced an equally powerful electric blast in return. "It's pointless to continue fooling around with that husk, Subordinate Aera. As I said, it's non-responsive. If he was just playing dead, he would have stopped before I ripped him free of his other appendages and one of his eye-balls, don't you think?" she chuckled with a morbid smile, before turning her attention back to MachMan.

She appeared less amused as the two made other suspicions known. "What? Of course I got shocked... But I fought through it and tore him apart. Are you doubting me?" the First General asked, crossing her arms and frowning disapprovingly. "And no, I have not told the Shogun about this. See, that's exactly the kind of thinking I'm trying to free you of. If we try to negotiate with and sweet-talk everyone, we're only going to make things worse. The Shogun put my life at stake with his hesitation; I don't owe a man like that any favors. If you want me to talk to him, it will only come after he's had his position wrested from him. He may be fine losing the element of surprise, but I'm not!"

The First General appeared to be growing a little more hostile now, clenching her teeth. "Who are you going to put your faith in, him or me? Who have you seen do more for the Empire? Who's the one who's out there with the troops, delivering orders, coordinating recruitment, direct supervision, and the issue of rewards?" she complained. "Where are you all going with this? If you two intend to divulge what I've said to you to the Shogun, I'll consider that a grave breach of the trust I've placed in you and the sense I'd assumed of you. I need to know that you'll support me in my efforts, for the good of the Empire."

She frowned deeper, then sighed. "DragonierMan can't join us just yet. But I need your cooperation and your assurance you'll deliver him the message. Now... what is it going to take to get you all to believe that my way is the right way?" she asked, glaring again at MachMan. Of course, MachMan probably had other questions, but Yasu appeared to be running out of patience. He would probably need a way to make up his mind one way or another, but the only way to do that would be to either drill down more into why she was acting this way, possibly get her to change her mind, or otherwise accept her strange new agenda... or at least pretend to.


"Oh, they're dangerous! I think. But when you compare them to other factions on the net, at least they aren't trying to make power grabs and things like that. In fact... if BlessMan is anything to go off of, I'd say that ironically, the fact that he's nice is what makes him dangerous. Since apparently he's losing his mind..." Skywriter murmured, staring up at the sky contemplatively as she discussed a problem that, really, seemed distant and inconsequential while here in the camp.

She was shocked back into attention once she heard that Aera hadn't had Vector as backup while the deal with Boss Oni went down. "Wow... I don't think I could have done it," she shuddered. "That guy gives me the creeps."

She pressed a finger to her lip thoughtfully, then shook her head. "Well, if you ask me, the Aerial Squadron is just the place to be! I feel like we're closer knit than the rest of the soldiers here, since so many of us were brought in at the same time. Since we're always going on missions together, it's given us a lot of time to bond. Pest, Roc, Aera, you, and MachMan feel like family now. Sometimes er... scary family, but family," she smiled warmly, patting Vector on the shoulder with one gloved hand. "It's sort of hard to think of anything I'd want to do differently. I'd like thinks to just keep going the way they are... Which is part of why the meeting in there is kind of scary. I guess it's not surprising, but I'm not the type that likes to rock the boat." She opened her eyes, staring at the ground now, then smiled. "I mean... I guess there's some times you have to rock the boat to make progress. But when things are nice, I'd like them to stay that way..."
Aera looked perplexed at Yasu's response to her second question; Yasu, one who is arguably the closest with the Shogun, didn't even bother to make her concerns known to him? She was about to snap back, but she hesitated due to Yasu's increasing hostility. Mach was equally suspicious of the general's outright refusal to speak with the Shogun, but wasn't as intimidated by her hostility. Though it pained him to do so, he began to consider strategies if this conversation became violent. Though he was at a disadvantage by having not seen her in combat, she's never seen his offensive capabilities either. Yasu didn't threaten him outright if he "squealed" to the shogun, and urged for his alliance in her efforts, "for the good of the Empire." Mach tried to keep a stone faced expression ahead of his troubled mind; he wanted to believe her, but he still wasn't convinced.

Since Yasu opened the door for him to put a final word in, Mach took it. Both Aera and him tried the polite way, now he had to be blunt. "Tell me then, what are you afraid of? You really think he'd suspect you of treason for just disagreeing with his strategy?" Mach pried inquisitively. Though he felt there was more than enough to be much more accusatory, he also felt grilling the General would cause her to shut down or lash out. "If the Shogun takes your concerns to heart, you'll get the leadership you're looking for. If he refuses to change his stance, you get your coup... with us at your side. Either way, you get what you want... or do you?" Mach asked suspiciously, with eyes narrowed. "What is it you really want then? Power? Revenge? Why else would you go for something so extreme without even trying easier options?" He continued to pry harder, and stifled the urge to pace around Yasu, to "cage her in." He assumed she'd deny any alterior motives, and maintain her stance on acting upon the Empire's "greater good."

He pointed his index finger to Yasu, before continuing to address her directly. "Prove to us the Shogun is really the threat you claim him to be..." he said before stepping a pace closer to put his face closer to Yasu's own. "... or you'll have your coup without us." he concluded with an ultimatum before stepping back. Aera's eyes glanced between Mach and Yasu, curious and partially fearful of what would happen next. "We've grown to like this group. I wanna be absolutely certain this is the right target, before we pull the trigger."


"Hm..." Vector hung to Skywriter's words as she further described the Blessers. With the information he now knew, the Blessers have become less mysterious, but much more complicated. He preferred things "black and white," but such clear boundaries are proving to be increasingly rare. However, Boss Oni seemed to be an exception to that rule, at least in his mind. "I agree, he seems to show no honor nor common decency..." he remarked.

Thankfully those negative thoughts about the mobster were wiped away by Skywriter's assessment of the Squadron's "status" of sorts. He was glad the Navi felt that way; when he first encountered the trio of new "recruits," their motivations and attitudes were so varied that it seemed unlikely they'd come together to make a decent team. That said, so far they seem to have come together to accomplish common goals, likely due to Mach's leadership. Vector nodded thoughtfully in response to Skywriter's conclusion the team is a family, albeit a "scary" one.

Though he enjoyed the rosy togetherness of the moment, Skywriter focused more on the foreboding issue at hand, and gave her desire to keep a good thing going. "I agree, I've grown fond of this group, and of you, along with the rest of the squadron. I hope we stand together as comrades, regardless of how that conversation turns out," he remarked before he momentarily looked to the entrance of the meditation hall, before looking back to Skywriter.
"What I propose is nothing less than deposing him, which means nothing less than treason, basically," Yasu answered plainly, tapping her finger up and down against her bicep as she spoke. "Unless you think he'll politely step down when I ask him to, then there's nothing to discuss. I don't want him to apologize for endangering me- and the rest of you- unnecessarily. I want him out of the role so that there's no possibility we're caught off-guard again due to inadequate leadership again." She hushed, but grit her teeth silently as MachMan turned up the heat, so to speak. "No, not power or revenge! Security! I want security for myself and all of my allies. Those who engage in dangerous missions and fight foes on the front lines are the ones who most need the support of leadership! I'm only going after this option because once I exercise 'the easier option' then we have to factor in all kinds of new variables for how the Shogun reacts. The easiest way is to cut him out altogether by moving him out of the leadership role! If anything, in time, he'll come to understand why I had to resort to these methods! If there's any sense in him at all, that is..."

She continued standing still as MachMan's finger thrust out at her, but her fists were curled tightly at her sides; she seemed about a step away from reaching out and grabbing him with one of them. "What more evidence do you need?! I was attacked and could have very well been killed by the one ROT member we know the most about, who we've encountered on several occasions, and a complete unknown who is apparently their leader! If we'd been proactive, if we'd been hunting these navis down and capturing or destroying them all along, then nothing like that would have happened! We could have stopped all of these ROT attacks, everything that's happened on all fronts, if we'd just gone after them as soon as we recognized them as a potential threat!" she ranted, getting in his face again. "I've seen comrades beaten and destroyed through lack of preparation before. I won't have that burden on me again! If the Shogun has to lose some of his comfort and privilege to make sure of it, then I consider it a small price to pay!"

Fed up, she swung one arm to the side and backed up as well. "Fine! Forget I told you anything and forget the offer as well. I don't have any use for a trustee who plans to feed me the exact same moderate stance that the Shogun has poisoned our army with. If you aren't interested in helping the Empire move past this, then continue to serve in your current, limited functions, and I will handle fixing things myself. I'll find a way to speak to DragonierMan by myself as well," she growled. "Just know that you are on the wrong side of this! And since you've forced my hand, now, I'm going to have to act immediately!"

MachMan had only a split second to either somehow change Yasu's mind or to otherwise, somehow, subdue her.. or even just surprise her into a moment's hesitation. Beating her in a fight might be fruitless now, as even causing her to EJO would presumably simply send her back to her PET, unless he also blocked her EJO function... which would, of course, be dangerous, possibly lethal.


Outside, Skywriter's expression changed to one of worry; her eyes were occasionally, discretely, flicking towards the door before resting back on Vector. "Well, MachMan's the squadron leader... in my mind, that makes him the one to follow. I don't really like what Yasu was talking about, but wherever MachMan goes, I'll go," she insisted, keeping her hands crossed behind her back, but wringing one inside the other nervously as the volume intensified. "Do you think we should go in there? It sounds like they could use an, er, calming presence..." she murmured, though her eyes seemed to be begging him to give her a reason not to join the fight in progress.
Yasu didn't budge from her position, even under the relative "heat" of Mach's questioning. He could almost see his words were bouncing off her made-up mind. He could also see remained convincingly genuine in her reasoning. The Navi kept his composure, even he felt his argument fall to pieces around him, while his position seemed to weaken more and more. Aera too could see Mach struck a nerve, though not quite to the point of throwing punches. However, she finally denounced him, withdrawing her offers and declaring the need to accelerate her plan.

[[i]Damnit,[/i]] Mach thought to himself. He'd gone too far; the probability of Yasu being right has swung in her favor, and a rushed plan would likely prove even more disastrous than her original "gradual, subtle coup." He put his hands up submissively, and tried to halt Yasu's tirade. "Alright, alright. You win, General. We won't stand in your way," he said calmly, while both his and his SP's NS .GMOs fragmented and disappeared, leaving the two in their default orange and blue forms. Aera showed visible confusion on her face, with her eyes locked on Mach as he produced a glowing data file in his hand, before he carefully placed it on the ground in front of Yasu. He stood back up while taking a deep breath. Once standing upright, he sighed and looked to Yasu before saying, "Good luck with your coup."

He nodded politely, then turned away, and walked past a dumbfounded Aera. "Wha, w-wait!" Aera sputtered before she turned to pursue her Navi.

Quote (Aera)

What's going on?!
She demanded via direct comms with Mach.

Quote (Mach)

If she's right, then I unfortunately just burned that bridge. If she's wrong, then we're avoiding a ticking timebomb.
Aera looked back to Yasu, then to Mach as she tried wrap her head around what just happened.

Quote (Aera)

But what about the squadron? What about Sylk?

Mach paused, and a pained look flashed over his face. Is he abandoning her again? [[i]No, she still has the rest of the Shogunate. She'll be fine,[/i]] he internally concluded before responding to Aera.

Quote (Mach)

They'll either thrive under Yasu's leadership, or they'll be smart enough to escape before it's too late.
He continued to walk towards the exit, with Aera in tow.

-[Data Packet Contents: NS_Uniform.GMO (MachMan), NS_Uniform.GMO (Aera), NS_BattleArmor.GMO (Vector), NS_MachFighter.GMO, 80 FP]-


Vector was pleased to hear Skywriter's loyalty to the squadron, at least to Mach, though she still showed unease with what was occurring inside. Vector was going to caution Skywriter to not go in, to not "have too many chefs in the kitchen" as it were... but he was given pause as he detected his NS.GMO deactivate. This left him angular, cycloptic, and perplexed. "Wait a moment, please," Vector requested politely, though he looked into the tent, immediately questioning the condition of Mach and Aera. He more or less immediately got his answer as the two walked out of the entrance, though even more questions popped up. Both Mach and Aera were also in their default forms, and Aera seemed to express severe worry, while Mach was stone-faced.

"Sir, is everything alright?" Mach paused, and looked to Vector with a slightly softer expression than before. "I'll explain later, but now it's best for us to go." Vector's glowing eye shrank and expanded mechanically, as if trying to piece together the situation. He was still confused, but if Mach said it was time to go, it's time to go. "...yes sir," he responded before dutifully falling in behind Mach and Aera.
If MachMan wanted to break off the conversation, he'd be pleased with Yasu's reaction. If he was hoping she'd show a flaw in her facade and start bargaining, he'd be left sorely wanting. His walking away seemed to solicit only scoffing from the First General, who crossed her arms and grimaced as per usual. "Ha. A good luck wish? I'll accept it... and know that if you'd continued to serve under our inept Shogun, your ventures would have been just as fruitful as that parting gift," she barked spitefully, her voice echoing throughout the hall. She left his data packet where it was, from then on watching silently as he left.

On the outside, Skywriter watched Vector curiously, perhaps not understand the significance of seeing him out of uniform. Once MachMan stormed out, Aera close behind, however, she seemed to get a hint that something had gone south. "Wait! What happened in there? It doesn't look like you agreed to go along with Yasu's plan, did you? Where are you going now?" she asked, her voice gradually lowering in volume as she spoke, realizing it was a sensitive topic they couldn't afford to alert the whole camp to. "Can I come with you? A-And, can I help?" Her voice was hopeful, but her face wasn't red and flustered like it often was lately when she spoke to MachMan. Instead, it was unnaturally pale, as though her mind was racing with worst-case scenarios. "Whatever it is, I want to help however I can... If it's something that's got you confused, maybe the two of us can figure it out together?"

The only confusing thing for MachMan was probably how Yasu could be bulling forward with her plan as she was, even without his assistance. Other than that, Yasu hadn't left much room for confusion. "Is it Yasu? Are you going to warn the Shogun?" she asked again, speaking even more quietly now. "I can't believe she'd do something like this, and risk making an enemy out of you. We all know how important the air squad is to the Neo-Shogun Empire; Yasu was a big part of organizing that. I'd think she'd sooner die than do anything to alienate you..." She still didn't seem quite willing to spell out the truth she may now understand, having realized that MachMan and crew were no longer in their NS uniforms and that Yasu's tone certainly didn't indicate anything had been resolved.
Mach was thankful Yasu was placated by his "surrender," and was unsurprised by her continued scorn. To not push the matter further, he had no retort to her verbal jab; though he wondered if Yasu truly understood what he was doing, or worse yet, okay with losing the support of a loyal and powerful team. He felt she also stood the risk of losing the Squadron as well. Pest might be convinced to stay, but Skywriter would likely choose to follow Mach, and Roc would likely go off on her own unless Yasu's regime appeals to her martial affinities.

Upon exiting the hall, Skywriter affirmed Mach's theory about her loyalties. He stopped as Skywriter spoke to him, but soon found himself surrounded by concerned, prying eyes. Well, eye in Vector's case. Both Aera and Vector had similar questions and requests in mind. He took a moment to think over his response to her rapid-fire questions, before replying "I appreciate the offer, but it's more or less out of my hands. I'm not sure I could help without causing things to go south in a hurry." Aera's eyes sank, though they still darted from side to side as she tried to think of a solution, but she was drawing a blank.

Skywriter continued with asking if he'd warn the Shogun, citing Yasu's behavior as odd, even thinking Yasu valued Mach's loyalty above her own wellbeing. Though Mach would've liked it to be even partially true, he wasn't convinced. He also kept his voice low, in case others were trying to listen in. "I'm not so sure of that... I hate to say it, but she might be right. I told her I wouldn't stand in her way, and the least I could do is stick to that. If she's forced to rush her plan, people could get hurt, and could even start a civil war. She doesn't want that, and neither do I." Mach sighed and looked out towards the gate, though not really focusing on any particular feature of the camp. "As to "where to next," not too sure about that either... Might pay Peace a visit, I'm still curious about who that other Navi is, and if she knows anything about the Blessers," he pondered aloud. He paused for a moment, and tilted his head to the side as he realized something, then commented "If she's still keen on disarming the NS, if Yasu's plan succeeds, any attempt by the terror girls will likely result in their deletion, instead of the non-lethal smackdowns they've been getting so far."

Vector, who had previously been listening silently and mostly unmoving, quietly chimed in. "Sir, I feel it would be best if we stayed in the Shogunate, to oversee the transition... but I shall follow regardless." Aera looked to Vector as he spoke, then to Mach, silently "seconding" his opinion. "I know, but I've lost Yasu's trust, and likely earned her ire... I fear anything I do will throw a wrench into her plans, since she'll likely suspect me of sabotage at every turn."
"I get that you told her that... but it could be dangerous for everybody if we don't tell someone," Skywriter murmured in response to MachMan's claim that he wouldn't be getting involved any further in the dispute. "I mean... if we care about the Shogun at all, which I guess I do, we have to consider that his life could actually be in danger. Yasu can get closer to him than anyone, from what I know, and if she hates him that much and she's gone militant, well... I doubt he'll step aside without fighting. And when they fight... A-Anyway, I just don't like it at all. I'd rather he know she's coming. He might even be able to talk to her then..." She wasn't willing to drop the idea of negotiating so easily, even after her claim that she'd follow MachMan wherever. "But you're right, we probably ought to warn the Terror Girls too. They're our enemies, most of the time, even if they're working with us for now... So it wouldn't be surprising if Yasu went after them rather than the other way around."

She pulled up a small pad of data midair, worked with it for a moment, then turned it around so MachMan could see. "Just in case, I saved the coordinates of the place where we left Roc's sister with Prez and the others. That way, we wouldn't have to go through those traps again... if they're still there, anyway. If you'd like to go there, just let me know and I'll go with you. I think we should also... well, talk about the situation some more...?" she asked, seeming like there was more she wanted to say; she crossed her hands in front of herself, rubbing one glove nervously in the cupped palm of the other. "I mean... if it really makes sense not to get involved at all..." It was clear she wanted to inform the shogun right away that he might be attacked, but following MachMan's example, which she often did, meant avoiding the situation.
Mach crossed his arms and listened to Skywriter's concerns, but considering Yasu wanted a slow, steady, bloodless coup, telling people about it would only hasten her plan and increase the risk of a violent takeover than a hushed transition of power. "She just wants him out of power, not dead; she doesn't strike me as the assassin type. I believe letting the cat out of the bag would force her hand, and she'd have to violently take control instead of calmly taking their time," he explained calmly, keeping his voice low. Aera silently agreed, though it did little to change the dejected look on her face. Vector simply listened silently as he continued try to make sense of everything.

Skywriter produced a datafile with coords for the final chamber where Prez was previously located, something he could dig up himself, but this could save some time. Mach pondered the implications when Skywriter insisted accompanying him, as well as continuing the discussion; she still appeared less than convinced keeping the Shogun in the dark was the best idea. Mach stretched his neck as he pieced his words together, then gave his assessment. "Thanks, but you should cut ties with me. If you stay in the NS but have comms with me, Yasu will treat your every move with suspicion as a potential leak. If your loyalty is still questioned and this goes south, you might become the scapegoat. You don't have to swear your loyalty to her, but the best you could do is denounce me, that should be enough to keep Yasu off your back," he offered with a slight shrug of his shoulders.

Aera's gaze was more or less stuck on the floor by now, though Mach uncrossed his arms and appeared to get ready to depart. "Alright, might as well get out before we get kicked out," he remarked and looked skyward before pausing and looking to Skywriter's direction. "If you're looking for someone to take my spot in the squadron, any one of you can step up, or maybe ask DragonierMan... Take care of yourself out here," he said with an almost monotonous tone, before he activated the trio's log out, causing them to briefly glow cyan before they beamed up and out of the network.

((Logged out))