defies_fates_hand: (*EXTERNALLY SCREAMING*)
With the repairs to the Discovery of Self under way, the Knights wish to do their part to assist as well. As it turns out despite any damage the intense heat that Sarah's impromptu bonfire had caused, the Sidereal Tapestry was still in enough of a condition to be used - turning out to in fact be a Discovery Artifact. However... as the Tapestry is packed up for transfer, the Knight's still damaged stronghold is under attack!

What few Knight mecha left move to sortie (Percival and Seraphina having to deploy in Crusaders using their original mecha's weapons as their usual rides were trashed)... and are quickly routed to the courtyard by the aggressors. However... who they are comes something as a surprise.

A group of eight. Four of which as it turns out were machines of the Black Garden. Lilica's former comrades... somehow returned from the dead.  Just as the Unity Group moves to cover the Knight's retreat... one of the pilots of the Non-Garden machines calls out and pleads for the Unity Group to not get involved. That this wasn't their fight.

When the eventual retort regarding their 'allies' happens (Either by a player character - if not then one of the knights)... one of the other Non-Garden pilots lets out a bitter laugh and and muses that there was no point in reasoning with people who were so friendly with the knights before the fight starts.

The level of skill among the non-Garden pilots is disparate to say the least.... but more than often than not all eight of them do everything they can to cover their weaknesses. Working in support of each other as well as the Unity Group would. Over the course of the battle the people fighting against the Unity Group will reveal their motives.

The Members of the Garden had different reasons for vengeance than the knights being party to the defeat of their creator - Melanthios. The day the knights defeated them, a child they had befriended had attempted to plead for their lives. A child whose life was wrought with pain - similar to their own as their master had grown them with flaws meant to bind them to him - flaws that instilled a sense of empathy. 

Rather than spare those who befriended the child though.... the knights chose to spare Lilica - the worst of them who was their master's favorite.... for the sole reason that both Zeig and the hero who they aided believed she was worth saving more than the others. The child's screams the last thing they heard before they were torn from their bodies and sealed away... their souls later used to power up the Inarog - freed when it was destroyed. They remained low, gathering their strength as they sought the child.

That same child who was now grown and fighting alongside them - wanting justice for their friends and vengeance for the long years of suffering they had to endure as the knights and the so called hero left them to rot. The same child who gathered others that the Knights had wronged. Victims of the fallout from their removal of threats indicated by the Sidereal Tapestry - threats like Volya.

Vero Adamson had been an archaeology professor supervising a dig. The intended target was one of his students. The Dig's security, his colleagues and his entire class were the victims. With him being trapped underground for days. The artifact that made his student a 'threat' was his salvation... and now his tool of vengeance.

Janine Lancaster was a woman in love. The target was her fiancee - for the crime of being descended from a line of magic users who dabbled in dark magics - the tapestry predicted he would follow the same path. As the knights left her with the body, she was charged for the murder - only recently released due to the lack of evidence. For the promised years taken from her she wants all the knights dead.

Cade Blackburn used to be a distinguished soldier. His life was left in shambles, dishonorably discharged, his family left disgusted and despising him and with a stigmata curled around his name for the rest of his life. That however is not his reason. He seeks to destroy the knights... for the sake of the little girl who they used him to kill as she celebrated her seventh birthday.

With every revelation revealed during combat the Child begs the Unity Group to just leave. That for everything the knights have done they have to die. That there were far more victims than just the people with them... ones who couldn't come with them because they were dead or too broken to care. That those same people deserve justice and closure. Something that completely saps the knights of the will to fight just as they managed to regroup in an attempt to support the Unity Group.

Nathaniel... hearing enough steps forward. Zeig, Aloysius and some of their following were imprisoned. Lilica with others dead. But he knows that it wouldn't be enough for these seekers of vengeance. He knows that while everything they had done was on Zeig's orders... there was no excuse. Ordering the other knights to stand down. He states that as he has taken charge of the knights, he accepts full responsibility for the atrocities they had blindly committed as he casts aside his weapons and leaves himself open to attack, allowing the eight to do as they please.

However... Volya and Interitus throw themselves into the path of the attacks meant to execute Nathaniel. Volya makes clear he knows how much the others have suffered. That he was a target of the knights himself. That he lost his chance at a normal life and his uncle, that he experienced more pain and torment than any child his age should have. That like them he should have every reason to hate the knights. But those present acknowledge their mistakes and are genuinely trying to make up for every wrong they have done, that killing them would solve nothing.

Volya states he'll protect Nathaniel and the other knights and take whatever pain the eight intend on dishing out in their place. He was no stranger to it after all.

Something that has David step up alongside his friend - declaring not as a knight... but as Volya's friend and Nathaniel's student he wasn't going to let that happen.

As soon as the Unity Group chips in the fight starts anew... some of the eight hesitate... others remain ferocious.  Either way it's less about defeating an enemy through force... and more making them burn out their fury and anger and pain... talking them down using empathy and understanding.

When it all ends and the phantoms of the Black Garden begin to fade... they leave both Volya and their friend with a parting gift.

Seeds.

In the hope that even from beings like them... something beautiful can bloom.

END

Notes -  The Child has no set name or gender... but should have something floral themed to go with the Black Garden Members.

Enemies:

Royse - His machine Trandafir utilizes the rapidly growing thorns that Lilica used with the Inarog Gradina and is armed with a sword and shield. Despite the cruel appearance of himself and his machine, Royse is intensely loyal to those he cares for - which served as his flaw in his master's eyes.

Blodwen - Her machine Diafan utilizes the debuffing smokescreen that Lilica used with the Inarog Gradina. She uses this in tandem with a pair of rapidly striking sickles. Despite her pale and disquieting appearance she's soft spoken and kind. Her flaw is Frailty - being the most physically weak of the Garden.

Millaray - His machine Zori can unleash the swarm of Venus Flytraps that Lilica used with the Inarog Gradina.  Utilizing a bow to take down foes trapped by his plants. If the enemy is too close for arrows he simply punches and wrestles. His flaw is impatience, often at odds with his own abilities.

Linnaea - Her machine Geaman works as a mimic - allowing her to borrow the skills and powers of the others of the Black Garden - her soul was used as the control mechanism of the Inarog Gradina. Her flaw is indecision - unless there are others guiding her, she often second guesses herself leaving many weaknesses to exploit.

'The Child' - Utilizes a machine that is essentially a jack of all trades. Best at mid-range combat and often supports others. Their background was that they were the younger sibling of the hero who fought the black garden - kidnapped early on for his connection only to form a genuine friendship with most of its members. 

Prompting the child on the fate of their older sibling - they will reveal they murdered the hero. As it turns out the hero's reason for keeping Lilica alive was utterly selfish as the pair had something of a 'foe-yay' relationship... and due to the fact that Lilica disliked her former comrades consigned them to their fates without a second thought. Something the child couldn't accept.

Vero
- Utilizes a machine capable of unleashing magical attacks. Not exactly a Deus Machina but still something to be wary of. Its primary weapon when not casting spells is a massive revolver. Is a cautious attacker.

Janine - Utilizes a machine built for close combat. She isn't a skilled combatant but makes up for it with instinct, tenacity and ferocity.

Cade - Utilizes a machine designed for ranged precision and rapid movement. Is only armed with a knife for close combat but is absurdly good with it - though it is still just a knife. Is the most skilled of the four human pilots.

(The Child, Janine and Cade use mecha that are possibly widespread enough to fit with their combat styles.)

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Volya Alkaev

April 2016

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