2023-04-05: The Ashes of a Miracle

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  • Cast: Koji Kabuto, LiSA, Sayaka Yumi, Rita Bernal
  • Where: Fujinomiya City - Old Photon Power Laboratory
  • Date: U.C. 0097 04 05
  • Summary: The Phenex plummets out of the Battle For Palau and crashes into Mt. Fuji. Recovered by the Photon Power Lab, its heroes make an impossible connection with the Gundam's Beloved.

<Pose Tracker> Rita Bernal has posed.

In the distance, the glow of the Earth rises before her.

The NT-D shuts off, finally, once again obscuring the Phenex's skeleton of psychoframe. With the corrupting influence gone, the Beast once again recognizes the hand of her Beloved -- and how little is left of that hand. Grief echoes from the youngest Unicorn. Desperation. How can she save her pilot?

I'm sorry. It's too late.

Rita's voice feels like ash. The last glimmer of firelight in the abyss.

I don't regret it. Please, Phenex, get us somewhere no one can hurt us.

With one last request, Rita's splintered soul collapses. The Phenex is left alone. Re-entry begins.

She has very little control of her flight path when it comes down to it. The Phenex can only do so much without the guiding spirit of her Beloved. By this point, at least, she's been infused with so much of the Light of Possibility that it seeps from her broken armor, forming a barrier against the violence of entering the atmosphere. Perhaps one final gift from Rita.

The youngest sister is in terrible shape. Will the miraculous light even be enough to keep her in one piece as she crashes? Should she aim for the ocean? No -- instinctively, she knows to fear the water. Wet wings are a death sentence.

Distant continents grow closer. A little island awaits -- though it seems far less little as she gets closer. Would Rita know what its name is? Radiant light extinguishes from around the Gundam, lingering only to hold the tattered remains of her 'wings' to her back.

Rita is truly gone. The Phenex's psychoframe echoes in the emptiness.

The little island grows closer. Now she makes her move, directing her path away from the tiny-looking towns and cities. Rita wouldn't want people to be hurt. But it's so crowded! Is there anywhere she can land without untold destruction?

As if in answer to prayer, a great mountain catches the Phenex's attention. With great effort, she angles herself toward it. Moments pass by. Her thoughts go to her pilot.

Please come back to me. --CRASH--

Fire and destruction, as the Phenex falls from space onto Mount Fuji. Her wings shatter in pieces over her body, kite-tails left intact in a mockery of her glorious feathers. Armor splinters, littering the ground with gold. Her legs and arms are in various states of disarray.

She cannot tell exactly the extent of the damage. She cannot activate herself, even if she was in good enough condition to move. The Phenex promised Rita she would never use any of her fuel, any of her weaponry. Someone else needs them, Rita said.

So she lays in her crater, helplessly clinging to the thin connection trailing into another world.

<Pose Tracker> Koji Kabuto has posed.


Char Aznable, ablaze with the fell light of the Oath Over Omega, has declared the end to Earth, and Palau is falling.

There is a place on Mount Fuji that, four years ago, people gathered to watch Axis fall, dread in their hearts. A place now enshrined as a memorial to the lives lost during that fateful day.

As he did then, Koji is among the crowd gathered to watch the fall of, this time, Palau - a far more devastating impact. Knowing as he does that dear friends are up there fighting to stop this - again, a mirror of that day - he clutches Sayaka and LiSA's hands tightly, but he's staring up at the stars not with fear, but fierce hope.

Let us lose nobody, this time.

Again, a miraculous light fills the sky. Again, the end of the world is forestalled by desperate love.

This time, two blazing lights tumble away from the miracle, streaking into Earth's atmosphere.

====== TODAY ======

Without any way to identify the two masses re-entering the atmosphere, the Photon Power Lab has been utilising its astronomical systems to monitor the descent of the objects. One of them inexplicably winked out mid-descent, as though it had simply stopped burning.

The other has caused immediate alarms to sound, because its course has changed.

"Notify Director Yumi and Doctor Kabuto! The projected collsion site has changed to the far side of Fuji from the Research Site!"

And this is why Koji is leading the motorbike ride up the roads encircling the mountain, watching the burning star overhead as it streaks towards its terminus in his rear mirror.

Riding through the shockwave of an impact is something he would have done back when he was a lonely, angry teenager. As the blazing object passes overhead he slams on the brakes, instinctively ducking and bracing a boot against the tarmac.

He knows the end of the world has been forestalled, but to be this close feels like it anyway. When everything finally stops shaking, he takes a breath, and starts his engine again, following the road as close as he can to the new crater furrowed into the side of the mountain.

The sight takes his breath away. A Gundam, its golden armour shattered. With the unmistakable crystalline structure of psycoframe peeking through the cracks.

He puts a finger to his earbud communicator. "Sayaka, we're going to need a quarantine team up here."

"Those idiots at Anaheim made a third RX-0."

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Yumi has posed.

Sayaka wishes she was up there fighting - letting Aphrodite Areia push back to her last. But really.. there's no one she'd rather be with as she watches Palau fall than her beloved Koji and Lisa. Being with them reminds her that just like those years ago.. there's a lifetime ahead.

She's solemn and silent as Koji prays no one is lost this time. But the miracle does come to pass - although even the heights of Mt. Fuji aren't enough to see what it cost this time.

The next day, the fallen light of possibility reaches Mt. Fuji, and Sayaka receives the call immediately. "Get the Photon Barrier up ASAP in case of impact!" She orders, immediately. Koji does something more characteristically... Koji, and like that he and his motorbike are gone from the facility.

She grimaces when Koji reports the sighting of a third RX-0. "Good grief, they can't get enough of that psycoframe, can they." She mutters under her breath. "Quarantine team, I'm sending you to Mt. Fuji to retrieve the fallen object. I'll be going with you. Treat the unit with utter care and SS-secrecy."

Sayaka then looks LiSA's way, as the Scarlet Mobile revs up. "Coming along too, LiSA? Just remember to pick up a helmet." Koji better have remembered his, or she's gonna chew him out before they do any paranormal mobile suit investigating.

<Pose Tracker> LiSA has posed.

         Palau ... as the two are aware, LiSA is a burgeoning child, who is prone to emotional statures that are not typical of the age she looks like. So it is with those hands tightly held, the three of them where once there was fall before, that she makes sure she has one in each hand. Sure, she's absolutely closer to Koji, but to watch things come falling...

         ... sometimes, it is the childlike worry she bears that means she wants the comfort of those she is closest to, in ways that no one is sure why or how. Thankfully, things are OK! Well, mostly OK, as she watches the screens.
         "Yes, I'm on my way!" LiSA bounds over to where the helmets are stored (of course she has her own), buckling it on as she joins her in the Scarlet Mobile.

<Pose Tracker> Rita Bernal has posed.

Nothing particularly strange happens during the quarantine over the Phenex, or while she's transported back to the Old Lab. In fact, the Phenex will remain entirely lifeless for quite some time.

That's not to say there is nothing strange about the golden Gundam. Despite the fact that it has been seen many times, over the course of months, flying and in combat... It has entirely full fuel tanks and batteries. She bears no weapons besides what is designed as a part of the Phenex's body: vulcans and a few beam sabers.

Perhaps strangest of all, it seems her engine has only been activated once, for an extremely short amount of time.

The youngest of the Unicorns is the most mysterious of all of them. Her data largely matches her older sisters', but she is clearly registered to the Federation's military.

As the evening light descends on the Photon Power Lab, the Phenex begins to move. A simple twitch of her fingers. A hand pulling up, up... then falling back down, as though she is too exhausted to move.

Please get up. We can't be here!

If someone were to look closely, with an open heart, they might see the truth behind the Phenex's movements. Someone is tugging on her fingers, trying to rouse her. It's... very different, from the useful graceful motions.

And should someone approach the person tugging on the Phenex's fingers.

A young woman in a charred and ruined sundress. Hair falls to her waist, burning in an endless cycle of collapse and re-ignition. She has no legs beneath the knees (they end in a charred, crumbling stump, like a burned-out log), and her arms are simply made of flame, no visible structure beneath the fire.

Should someone approach, she will turn in alarm, pressing back against her Gundam and going very still. Her face is streaked with soot, aside for tear tracks falling down her cheeks. Additional tears fall from her eyes, little flickers of fire beneath her pale skin.

Where once was brilliant, miraculous green, only empty white resides. The young woman's eyes are empty and lifeless, without an iris or pupils.

These people aren't Newtypes, she thinks. Maybe if she's still enough, they won't see her.

<Pose Tracker> Koji Kabuto has posed.

It's moving.

Yet another impossible thing - there's nobody inside, right?

Koji leads the way down to the special silo they've stored the Gundam in. This is not a case for the standard hangar.

A myriad of analytical devices are trained on the Phenex, but they tell nothing that isn't already known - the Gundam appears to be trying to move without any actual conventional power source.

Koji reviews the footage of the now-still Gundam's head falling backwards... Like an exhausted person's.

He and Sayaka have seen this before. "... It's like Minerva," he says, quietly and reverently.

He can't see the spectral presence pressing herself against her Gundam to try and hide from them. That doesn't stop him walking up to the Phenex's limp hand and gently pressing his palm against one of its massive fingers. "Can you hear me?"

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Yumi has posed.

Sayaka watches the footage of the Gundam moving, almost person-like in its exhaustion. "We can rule out any human-controlled explanation." She starts. "There's no way any person could just survive a crash at that speed."

So when Koji compares the Phenex to Minerva, she frowns. "...Yeah." The only explanation that makes sense in Sayaka's mind is that this machine - maybe a mechanical beast in its own way - is somehow alive. "...Sorry, Minerva. We'll come back to you too. One day."

Koji goes to reach out and touch the machine, though, and Sayaka instinctively raises a hand as if it's dangerous, and then lowers it. "If you can hear us, we're Sayaka Yumi and Koji Kabuto. Researchers from the Photon Power Labs. We don't wish to harm you but..." Somehow, she senses the Gundam is scared, even without Newtype powers. "We do wish to understand you, so we can help you. Is that acceptable?"

Lisa doesn't have Koji or her perspective in regards Minerva, but she was made to understand machinery. So Sayaka asks, "What do you think? Can you communicate with it?"

<Pose Tracker> LiSA has posed.

Hey, look, Koji's doing unadvisable things again! LiSA is a bit in awe of the Phenex, broken as it is, and when Sayaka asks her question, her eyes widen. "Oh, I can try..."

         LiSA, in a sense, is very much like a Phenex in her own right; but rather than being controlled NewType style, she's jacked in permanently - and she is not a seperate being from her 'machine', her 'self'. She watches the fingers move, with some sort of understanding, her own one hand reaches out, mouth opening silently as her hand moves, in a mimicry of Koji's piloting style.

         "Hello?" She adds on, her own voice reaching out brightly. She's a bit easier to contact, NewType wise compared to the adults, and she gently runs her hands up the machine. "I don't know where you are, but I know you're here." She says after a moment. "She means a lot to you, doesn't she? You don't have to worry. I'm LiSA! You're in the old power labs. You crashed near Mt. Fuji."

         She adds on, wistfully, "Your machine is beautiful. Nothing like mine."

<Pose Tracker> Rita Bernal has posed.

Someone approaches. Koji Kabuto. She knows him. He's been protecting her sister and the princess. He's a good man, with much ahead of him.

Much that shouldn't involve her!

Sayaka Yumi is with Koji. Of course. That's the way this should be. They belong side by side. Sayaka wants to understand, and communicate... To help? Help... The ghostly young woman squeezes her empty eyes shut. She thinks back to the Ra Mari II crew. To Lucine and Liam.

To Shelby, Yuliana, Leina.

But these people -- her sisters need them. Far more than she does.

LiSA is here too. The girl has always watched her with interest, from her place beyond time. She never thought they'd have the chance to meet. Up close, LiSA every bit as beautiful as she was in the visions. So full of life. So vibrant.

As the robot girl calls out, touches the Phenex, the burning girl shrinks back again. One hand brushes her dress, trying to extinguish the flame -- unsuccessfully. What would they think, seeing her this way? She looks every bit the things Full Frontal accused her of being. But LiSA thinks the Phenex is beautiful. That gets a little smile.

Koji reaches out gently, pressing a hand against the Phenex's fingers, even though Sayaka is worried by the idea. The burning girl watches. Even though the Phenex crashed in his territory, Koji is still treating her kindly. The PPL must know what the Phenex is capable of. They took her in and cared for her... And they want to care for her even more.

She steps back once more, pressing a hand through a gap in the Phenex's armor to touch the psychoframe. If nothing else, they deserve an explanation. Flickering blue light ignites within the heart of the Gundam, faint and soft. With a soft sound of concentration, the young woman uses the fallen Gundam as an amplifier for her power, just as she'd done to the Neo-Zeong. Maybe it will be enough...

M-m--my --

Will this be enough for the Kabutos to see her? Hear her? If she does come into view, her image flickers like a candle flame. She's transparent, every bit the ghost she once denied being. Even her voice, if it can be heard, comes in and out of hearing. She sounds like a nightmare, a scratchy, broken voice, echoing like the crackling of a bonfire.

Name-- Ri--ta--

She takes a breath. The flames on her hair flare with her exhales.

Ca-- not-- stay-- sisters-- need

This is so exhausting now. Slightly dizzy, in whatever way a spirit can be dizzy, she leans against the Phenex.

--am sorry-- not want-- hurt--

<Pose Tracker> Koji Kabuto has posed.

Koji smiles at Sayaka as he hears her apologise to the machine Juzo Kabuto made to be Mazinger Z's battle couple partner, that they promised to restore one day. He has ideas, from studying Infinity - but they're not implementable yet.

LiSA, too, gets a fond smile as she too reaches out to the Gundam, comparing its beauty to the giant Mazin under the mountain the Phenex crashed into and its great-yet-terrible ambience. "It has a grandeur of its own, I think, but... There is a beauty to these units, yes." Even the Banshee has an elegance to it, even twisted into hate as it is at the moment.

He blinks, looking around at the unheard sound in his head. "Sayaka... Do you hear - " he spots Rita's image flickering just next to the prostrate Phenex, and blinks several times, looking down at his tablet to the camera feed.


He looks over to Sayaka and LiSA, his eyes silently asking 'tell me I'm not crazy'.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Yumi has posed.

Sayaka smiles at Koji in turn - they'll have to discuss those ideas when the time comes. It'd be nice.. to have a chance to be on better terms.

Infinity might not be a beautiful machine, even with its grand and imposing presence - but it did bring them LiSA, who they treasure. LiSA makes contact and there seems to be that spark of companionship...

Until the Phenex is finally able to speak.. or does it? The voice is like a skipping record, but when Koji asks, she nods affirmingly. "I definitely heard something." And even saw it. She picked up on a name, an objective, and an apology.

"Rita, that's your name? And your sisters..." She must mean the two other RX-0 units.

"You mean the Unicorn? And the Banshee?" They haven't heard from Banagher and the Unicorn just yet after Palau, and the Banshee is an active threat.

"What are you guys thinking?" She turns to Koji and LiSA, as Koji gives that look. "Clearly not a physical lifeform, but there's something inside."

<Pose Tracker> LiSA has posed.

         LiSA knows many things, and many things she doesn't not.

         However, when it comes to computers skipping? Yeah, local Mycenean Super AI understands entirely well. "Rita... Rita! We know how it is to be needed." Her gaze falls on Koji, who has fought enough battles for a lifetime, if Sayaka is to be believed. "But ..." Her voice falters, as she catches the flicker of the burning girl out of the corner of her eye. She looks again, and then nods to herself. Yes, she's right.

         "You need to rest." She says, softly, earnestly. "I know you need to protect those dear to you..." We're all for this world, seemingly- "But if you don't give yourself a chance, you're going to hurt yourself more. So please... let us help you? Like how we all help power the world!"

         "I'm thinking she needs a nap."

<Pose Tracker> Rita Bernal has posed.

It seems she can be heard! And Koji definitely made eye contact. It comes as a relief. If she was cut off from communicating with anyone--

She shudders. Why is that so frightening? This mission was always supposed to be her on her own. A small frown crosses her face, emphasizing the blazing tear tracks for a moment.

The connection isn't clear or strong enough. Without a Newtype to play translator, how is she going to communicate at all?


Single words are easier. It takes much less effort than stringing a sentence together, and there's less chance the word will be cut off when she flickers out of existence.

She nods to Sayaka, which may be a pointless action.


With a gesture of her burning hands to herself, she thinks hard of how to describe /what/ she is in a single word.


A gesture back to the Phenex.


Rita brings her free hand to her forehead, sticking a finger out like a single horn.

Needs. Pause You.

Another few fingers arch up, making an odd antler-like shape.

Strengthen. Pause. She breathes hard. The light of the psychoframe flickers -- clearly damaged internally. Fault.

Lowering her hand, the woman in the charred dress turns a hand palm-up. An image flickers into view -- but its far too corrupted by fire to understand. She makes a frustrated sound.

Had. Pause. To. Pause. Burn. Pause. Stop. Pause. Nightmare.

She points up, vaguely in the direction Palau had appeared.

Psychoframe. Pause. Broken. Empty eyes gaze at each of the Kabutos in turn. Fix?

LiSA's suggestion gets what seems to be a laugh. The woman's not-legs lift off the ground for a moment. However sweet it once was, the sound of her laugh now is... Horrible. Agonizing.

Pointing at herself, the scorched woman winks. It's not a natural motion for her -- clearly something she's picked up elsewhere.


<Pose Tracker> Koji Kabuto has posed.

Sayaka asks questions that confirm she's hearing and seeing what he is, and Koji visibly relaxes. "You're badly damaged," he says, in accompaniment to LiSA's reaching out.

The girl wreathed in flame looks... what, somewhere between Shiro's age and his? It's hard to tell with the damage her psychic projection is displaying.

She's still trying to communicate. Koji frowns. "Unicorn needs us." Rita spreads her hands like antlers and his frown deepens. "Because of the Banshee? ... The Banshee's getting stronger?"

Fault. "Damage? ... Blame?"

Had to burn, stop nightmare

"You're in the Gundam's psycoframe and used it to help stop Palau falling." It's a shot in the dark, but if the machine is her body...?


Koji makes a certain sound that exists primarily in the lexicon of engineers, plumbers, and other complex manual workers: The sound of air being sucked into his mouth through his teeth, meaning 'oh boy the answer to that is going to suck'.

"... We can try. We haven't dealt with damaged psycoframe before, the Unicorn's managed to escape that kind of damage. I don't..." he frowns. This is like a doctor with a patient, maybe. "Where does it hurt the most?"

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Yumi has posed.

This time, Rita speaks in single words, and it is indeed a lot easier to understand. Sayaka comes to the same conclusion as Koji here: the Unicorn needs them because the Banshee has been strengthened; Rita's psycoframe is badly damaged because it stopped a nightmare (Palau?).

"The Unicorn will be safe with us, no matter who comes." Sayaka affirms. "Even the Banshee."

The next request is more difficult to parse - as it's such a forbidden technology, they don't just easily have psycoframe experts on hand they can call in. Rita needs them, it seems.

Koji's question is a start. "I know it's hard, but anything you could tell us would be a great help." She nods. "We don't want to hurt you while trying to repair you."

<Pose Tracker> LiSA has posed.

         "Dead? Good. Extra time to sleep. Biologically, mind!" LiSA says, with a Sayaka-level briskness to her tone. "In your case, I think, maybe not a nap, but we definitely need you down for maintenance and repairs. If this is your body..." She touches the Phenex again, lightly, with the care she would to baby Gai.

         "Then we need to make sure you're in best condition. So- What can we do? I can interface..." A pause. "But I don't know a lot of this. Please trust Master and Miss Sayaka to treat you well!"

<Pose Tracker> Rita Bernal has posed.

She nods to Koji's first question. Still. Pause. Burning. Hand to her chest again. Fragment.

Sayaka gets a nod to her affirmation, then a quick shake of her head. I'm. Pause. Not. Pause. Safe.

She needs to show them. A piece of psychoframe lays on the ground, and with great effort, Rita psychically pulls it over to herself. She infuses it with a bit of strength, then holds it close to the Phenex. An eerie hum fills the room. Glaring light consumes the two psychoframes, glimmering and unearthly in a violent sort of way.

Once the hum reaches its apex, a wave of energy builds around the two psychoframes, exploding outwards. It's a small reaction, relatively. Perhaps enough to ruffle hair, and crack the Phenex's armor a bit more. But it'll illustrate her point. Cutting off the power extended to the small fragment, the young woman psychically tosses it back to its previous spot.

Then, Koji speaks about her sisters, she shakes her head. The sign for the Banshee again. My Pause. Fault. The glow trailing down her cheeks speed up.

Her hand is lowered. With a hiccuped sob, she covers her face with her one free hand -- the touch only igniting bits of her hair that had previously escaped the conflagration.

It takes a long few moment for her to work herself back to an expressive state. Fire trails from her fingertips as she lowers her hand, shoulders slumping.

Yes. A simple answer to Koji's hypothesis about Palau. Then, what must be an entirely bizarre response: birds.

Koji doesn't know how to fix psychoframe. With a slump, the blazing ghost slowly slides down to the ground, back leaning against the exposed psychoframe still. The connection, such as it is, is maintained.

Where does it hurt the most?

Those blank eyes widen. Her head tilts. What an odd question. What kind of question is that to ask someone like her? And a ghost, at that? No one has ever cared about her physical hurt before. Not in a kind way. Not like this.

Blank eyes close. She takes an inventory of her Gundam-body, her partner. The pain is extensive. A wall of sensation she can't get through without genuine effort. Once she does, she opens her eyes again.

Core. A wince. Splintered.

Which is going to be a problem. If the psychoframe was damaged merely in the Phenex's extremities, the fix would be relatively minor, even for someone inexperienced. But this... When she burned her soul as fuel, she overloaded the psychoframe's core, damaging it from the inside. It was too much power for the system, leaving it shattered from the strain.

Communicating like this is so frustrating! With both her hands now free, she sits up straight.


A question. Her hands move quickly, expertly in front of her body. Though she still gently fades in and out of view, this is clearer than trying to listen to her ruined voice. < I am fluent in several forms of sign language. This might be easier. Do any of you know it? >

Of course, that will only work if there's someone present who can both /see/ her and speak sign language.

Returning to 'speaking', again, she takes a breath. The fire flares out. Core. A breath. Fixed... Pause. Then.

A purposeful point in to herself.

Heal. Pause. Phenex.

LiSA's briskness earns another one of those terrible laughs. It seems to raise the burning woman's spirits, at least. Her gentle, careful touch is appreciated. The Phenex, perhaps from the active psychoframe, is now slightly warm.

Worried. Her face twists in distress. Hurt. Pause. LiSA.

But it would be easier. So much easier. Is it worth opening her cockpit, to allow her would-be healers to access systems and run a diagnostic? Blank eyes slip closed again. She's conflicted.

Exterior? Pause. Interface?

For all she's watched over LiSA, she has no idea how the robotic woman works.

Need. Spoken with such urgency, such pain. Heal. Pause. Fast.

Her hands knit over her heart.

Save. Pause. One. Pause. Path.

Then, her mouth moves, but the words are difficult to make out. Perhaps, if someone is capable of lip reading...

"Whatever it takes."

<Pose Tracker> Koji Kabuto has posed.

"The Banshee's growing stronger because of you?" Koji frowns. That raises questions all their own, but... perhaps they're better asked when Rita is recovering.

The psycoframe reaction is... fascinating. "... It's like a magnetic field. Your and the Unicorn's psycoframe emit energy that repels the other, so if you get too close..." He nods, understanding. "We can keep you apart from her, and we'll keep you a secret." After Infinity, what's one more paranormal giant robot?

Sign language. He blinks a little and squints to get a better read of the spectral Rita's gestures, raising his hands in turn before proceeding in JSL. "<Do you know this version? I'm a little - rusty. Sorry.>" He speaks as he signs, translating for Sayaka and LiSA. If Rita does recognise it,

"<If the psycoframe core's fractured, we may have to disassemble your body to access it. Is it near the cockpit block?>"

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Yumi has posed.

Rita says some interesting things. Koji seems to orient on how Rita claims it's her fault the Banshee's becoming stronger. The one-word "birds" response is confusing.. but she'll probably get it after she hears about what actually went down at Palau.

There's also the fact that the Phenex and the Unicorn are destined to repel each other. If they're sisters, it's a little sad, actually. "We'll keep you both safe. Even if you can't be together." Sayaka nods.

At the mention of sign language... Sayaka doesn't personally know it. At an administrative role, interpreters suffice, while Koji takes on more of a direct role. So she'll have to rely on his understanding for this one.

While Koji asks questions, Sayaka prepares to have the maintenance crew ready, briefing them on the delicacy of such a machine - and the need to be ever so careful if disassembly is required.

<Pose Tracker> Rita Bernal has posed.

Koji can speak JSL. Rita smiles, genuinely smiles, and nods eagerly. < Yes! Yes yes yes! >

Her hands are a little difficult to watch as they're consumed in dancing flame, but she does her best to sign slowly and clearly. < Yes. The Banshee is my fault. No one else's. Don't forget. >

Blank eyes are intense. < If you keep me away from my sister, and promise to keep it a secret, I would be very grateful to stay. Everything hurts. I'm worried about the Phenex. Thank you. >

< Disassemble. > The spirit before them trembles. She fades out of view, and once she returns, she has changed.

Shaking, pressed up against the Phenex, is a small girl in a blue uniform. Perhaps Koji or Sayaka would recognize it -- a child-sized version of the Titan's usual fare. As before, the flames consume her, burning away that golden hair, flickering up the lines of her clothing.

She's so much smaller. Mid-teens, maybe. Her eyes are squeezed closed and she just... shakes. Her image flickers more violently. Flaming hair vanishes entirely, revealing massive scars along her head.

Becoming aware again, she opens her eyes. Brushing at her uniform, she is clearly trying to change back to her proper form, but... seems stuck. The small girl sniffles.

< Sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. If you have to disassemble us to fix it, we can do it. The worst of the shattering is directly above the cockpit. >

Another sniffle. She rubs a burning sleeve across her nose.

< I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. I'm very thankful for your help. Please be careful. People are chasing me. I don't want you to get hurt. >

< K o j i > each letter spelled out individually. < S a y a k a >. Despite the ember-like tears in her blank eyes, the young girl smiles prettily. < Thank you. Thank you. >

<Pose Tracker> Koji Kabuto has posed.

Koji frowns, speaking-and-signing again. "<Whatever is wrong with the Banshee, the fault lies with its handlers for forcing it and its pilot to be devils.>"

Rita discorporates in panic and Koji reaches out instinctively - and she reforms in a much smaller, younger form.

That uniform... "Those bastards," he growls. His fists are tightly clenched for a long moment - until he remembers he needs them to communicate. "<It's okay. Don't try and force yourself if it's easier to hold that image.>"

People are chasing me. I don't want you to get hurt.

"<We can handle ourselves in a fight. Even if they send the Banshee again, the Castle of Iron will stand against them again and again.>"

Mazinger Z isn't in this bay - as ever, it stands on the lift platform under the Lab's pool, ready to launch - but something about Koji's determination might give his emotional presence a vague silhouette of the machine.

"<Rest, Rita. We'll do what we can.>"

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Yumi has posed.

Sayaka nods, when Koji says the blame for the Banshee lies in the handlers. Whoever's behind it... they'll get their due.

She can't even blame Rita for her utter fear of disassembly - even if Sayaka made sure that it'd be careful and precise.

But the appearance of that uniform... Sayaka grimaces. "The Titans." She can keep her fist balled since she's not their communicator!

"And Aphrodite Areia will stand by its side any time and every time." Sayaka adds, with the full extent of confidence in her tone. Even if Rita can't hear her, surely she'll understand the determination and strength in her expression.

Her final words in sign language are ones that Sayaka can understand - words of gratitude. In turn, she can at the very least sign out the phrase < You're welcome. >