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/qst/ - Quests

This was a story about a man trying to defy his fate.

Having witnessed a tragedy he had hoped never to see repeat, he closed his heart to the world and fled into isolation. He had come to understand that his presence was a strain on the Universe, and thus chose to lie in wait. For he was not done yet. His duty had yet to be carried out.

And thus, when the signal arrived to him from the safety device he'd left behind, he broke free of his self-imposed chains. There was no joy for him in his mission, just the awareness that he was doing the right thing. But once again, he was surrounded by friends of old. People who had wanted to see him again. And that was more than enough for him to feel happiness.

Not only that, new people had come flocking to his cause. While he alone would pilot his lava-red mecha, many more would help him man his coal-black ship. Yes, the ship that earned him the nickname of 'Simon the Black'. Among all those newcomers, however, stood the oldest of his comrades. He was on the deck, issuing orders left and right as a first class commodore.

The Cathedral Terra was in the middle of a difficult retreat. Status reports were coming in one after the other, and Simon observed as his friend handled them all. The two fleets who had gathered around Pseudo-Nergal 5 were firing at each other, holding nothing back.

"Shield, class 8!"
"Reflective layer, rapidly dissolving!"

Panic. Fear. Despair. Those were the true enemies. Simon took a few steps forward. It was up to the captain to restore his men's morale, after all.

"Block number 3-8-6, destroyed!"
"Minimal, but our turbines' performance will be affected."

"Fret not. We'll give them a little lesson. We'll show them just who we are," he commented reassuringly. It was paramount that everyone kept their wits about them. The enemy, the Anti-Spiral, was already up to its old tricks: using the form others are most comfortable with as a mirror to inflict absolute despair. They even stole his catchphrase! The audacity on those assholes.

"The enemy fleet's size is out of scale!"
"Are all the lights in the Heavens our enemy, then?" Boota asked, somewhat dispirited. This was not the outcome he had been hoping for. Not for the Gurren Brigade. Not for himself. Not for his friend Simon.
But the Digger's boisterous reply didn't take long to arrive.
"They're not worthy opponents in the least bit! I'll twist them out of time-space!"

That was more than enough for Boota. In fact, this was his cue.
"Ready the Elstraim Cannon! Align it with the Grand Dimensional Rift!"

All the hands that weren't busy calculating trajectory and direction of fire were now looking at their leader with newfound courage and hope in their hearts. 'As long as Simon lived, no battle was unwinnable', is what their admiring gazes were saying. He had thought and said that his task brought him no joy. But by the heavens, how long had he waited to say this.

"Gurren Lagann, spin on! Who the hell do YOU think I am?"


The black flagship was retreating, and the newly formed Joint Armada was throwing even the kitchen sink at it, with little to no success. The Gurren leader was living up to his name, apparently. Everything was dyed in the color of utter confusion, and you were struggling to make sense of the events unfolding.

A red and black shape was rushing towards you. It wasn't particularly hard to make out: the Mazin Emperor G had returned. But...
"Move, move! The white one is mine!"
The Mazin Corps and the Gurren Brigade were old allies. Was Shirou coming for you, or...?

>Dodge it!
>Stand your ground!
>Intercept his charge!"
>Other [specify]
>>Dodge it!
A swift movement. Avoiding conflict when not strictly necessary, and talking Shirou out of his plan if needed. Dodging his blow was getting two birds with one stone. But then something happened. The evasive maneuver you undertook brought the Von Neumann face to face with another pearl white mecha, one whose face was on its chest and that possessed four arms in total. Each two of them were holding a black katana-like blade.

Shirou bolted right next to you. His target was right in front of him. Admittedly, doubting Shirou had been a lousy thing to do. You made a mental note to apologize to him later.


Two sets of blade for each side were being blocked by the Emperor's two swords. It was an almost perfect stalemate between the two.
"It's been a long time, uncle Viral!" Shirou greeted him.
"What the fuck are you doing, kid? Move!"

His opponent's voice was clearly recognizable. It had been barking orders to the Gurren Armada until the communication line was killed.
"I don't think I'll be doing that, uncle. I came all the way here to protect my friend. I can't give up now."
"So are we not friends?"
"Of course not! You're much more than that to me. You're more like a father. And because of that, I can't let you do something you'll regret!"
"You little...!"

The stalemate was broken by the white robot's sudden retreat, which was then used to charge at the Emperor again. The two were clashing, with next to chance for you to intervene. Even so, it was best to respect your friend's request. In all likelihood, his goal was not to kill, but rather to stop the man called Viral.

A subliminal intuition of sorts warned you. A powerful blast was coming, headed right for the Joint Armada.
"Everyone, spread out! A beam weapon is about to fire!" you cried out.
But it was too late. A wave was already surging, fathered by the Gurren flagship. It easily trumped even the Solarion's most powerful shot, and it looked fully capable of wiping out a sizeable chunk of the allied fleet. Perhaps the Von Neumann could've survived it, but you knew nothing about the newly arrived forces. For all you knew, nothing stood in the way of their complete annihilation.

"Stay back, everyone!"
A roughed up, somewhat grimcrack spaceship suddenly rushed ahead, breaking formation. While all the cruisers around it retreated, this one was advancing at full speed. It wouldn't have been wrong to call it a gunboat, considering it had a large gun strapped right on top of it.
And the man leading it was none other than...
"Lieutentant Kess!"
"It's Admiral now, miss Carlotta. And my warning applies to you too. Fall back, this thing is no joke!"

Heeding his advice, you moved away, noticing that the white robot and the Mazin Emperor G had taken their duel elsewhere too.
The Meganoid frigade unleashed a potent beam, which looked a lot like thundering whirlwind. It rapidly engulfed enemy fire, wrapped itself around it and redirected it towards the Kamin Terminus. The fortress shook and part of its dome cracked. Several units in the Gurren Armada were now in disarray or out of formation. Disaster had been averted.

"Carlotta, there's no time to lose! You have to take down the Cathedral Terra before it transforms!" the Admiral warned you. "Hurry! We'll be covering for you!"

>Thank him and leave
>Attempt to shoot at the Black Flagship from your current position
>Ask further explanations (this will cost time)
>Other [specify]
>Thank him and leave
>Thank him and leave
The large, Black Ship was still falling back, trying to get into a comfortable position perhaps. There was no time to lose. Uttering some words of gratitude, you took your leave. Both fleets were just beginning to deploy, so there was a discrete chance for success.

Suddenly, a large missile grazed the imposing frame of the Von Neumann, exploding just past it. The recoil shook you up in the cockpit, but left no tangible damage on the robot. Fighting through the pain, you managed to execute an evasive maneuver and dodge the next one coming.
Where were they coming from? Looking left and right, you could not spot their source.

Then, another one of your intuitions showed you the way. Hidden behind a field of small asteroids and debris was a large railgun tank, whose hull looked like a face to which a set of sturdy limbs had been attached. No doubt about it, it was a Gurren machine, and what was worse, its railgun was visibly charging. This was really aggravating for you. To be done in by a sniper's bullet!

The intercom was catching strange signals. Orders, battlecries, reports... and a singular shout. "PERFECT CANNON, FIRE!"
Bracing for impact, all you could see was a blinding light spreading in all directions. The impact was coming. One second, two seconds, three seconds... any time now. But nothing happened. Lowering your robot's guard to take a look at the situation, you noticed that nothing in your surroundings had changed.

The sniper was still in its place, possibly looking for whatever had foiled their plans. The pilot didn't have to wait for long: a bizarre robot, vaguely describable as a train on legs, stood now between the two of you. A large, green gun was placed on its shoulder. With a glance, you were filled with the alien yet familiar understanding that it was a Wave Motion based weapon.


"Brave Express Great Mightgaine has arrived right on schedule!"
It wasn't the pilot who made such an announcement. Rather, you felt that it was coming from the robot.
"So the Storm Hero has come, huh? Here to seek out vengeance?"
Another unknown voice. Perhaps the sniper.

"Revenge is a futile endeavour. But wherever there's somebody fighting for justice, the Brave Express Corps will stand with them!"
"This is no justice, Maito Senpuuji. That girl will spell the end of this world!"
"She's no longer an Anti-Spiral, Yoko Littner. You should know this better than anyone else. More importantly! It doesn't matter to us, Spiral or Anti-Spiral! So long as they have justice in their hearts, we'll stand with them."
"Now you're just spouting nonsense! If you hoped to be my opponent, tough luck. Mo-Shogun will be here anytime now."
"I doubt it. Exkaiser has already intercepted him. We'll be facing you here. And you, young miss, go on ahead! Carry our hopes with you."

It was clear by now that the voice speaking belonged to the robot. It was unusual, but certainly not the weirdest thing you'd seen. Saluting your rescuer, you prepared to move away. In the skies above, battle was raging on. The Gurren forces were not moving an inch, holding their position with everything they had. But there were holes in their formation which could be exploited...

>Go for the shortest path, no matter how dangerous.
>Take the long way around. (this will cost you time)
>Attempt to strike a compromise, cutting out the most dangerous spots
>Other [specify]
>Attempt to strike a compromise, cutting out the most dangerous spots
>Attempt to strike a compromise, cutting out the most dangerous spots
[Delay Counter: +1]

The situation on the battlefield was indeed peculiar. The Gurren Brigade and its allies reached the orbit of PN5 while believing they were setting up an ambush, but they ended up being ambushed instead. This sudden change threw the enemy frontline into chaos, a situation that was easily exploitable by a capable pilot.

A straight line connecting the Von Neumann to the Black Ship still existed, but it was a dangerous path to tread. Instead, you opted for a compromise that would leave out the largest concentrations of foes and still allow you to reach your goal relatively quickly.

Soon, you noticed that someone -or something- was on your tail. A strange machine, sporting only one face on its chest, was giving chase, emitting supersonic waves in your direction, occasionally. Turning on your back, you attempted to return fire with your shoulder cannons, but the target seemed to be too mobile.

Salvation came in the form of a set of spinner knuckles, outmaneuvering and outpacing the pursuer before colliding into it. Only one woman was capable of such a feat: Saki Rukino, driving her fearsome Carmilla. Opening communications, you sent her a thank you message, sure that she'd receive it if she were nearby.

But that wasn't going to be the end of it. Even if one enemy ace had been taken care of, two more appeared. They seemed to be customized version of the standard Gurren robot, the so called 'Grapearl'. The one on your left was red and blue, with a single horn on top of its head. The other, on your right, was pink and green, with ear-like horns on either side of the head.

Persistent and incredibly skilled, they kept firing at you without endangering their allies even once. They were probably hardened veterans, no match for someone like you. And as if that were indeed the case, someone appeared to take care of the problem.

A volley of green, arrow-like energy projectiles was fired against the Gurren aces, forcing them to stop on their track. A red-torsoed Gundam, bow in hand, had stopped them. Another, blue-torsoed one appeared in front of the former. As if speaking in one voice, they issued their proclamation.
"Gimmy and Darry of the Gurren Brigade! By the name of the King of Hearts, we're here to issue our challenge."

Assuming a martial pose, they introduced themselves.
"Asia Kasshu!" was the pilot within the Blue Gundam
"Kyoji Kasshu!" was the pilot within the Red Gundam
"School of the Undefeated of the East! Behold, the East is burning red!"

"We have no time for this stupid game!" the man in the single-horned Grapearl retorted.
"Exactly! Move out of the way," echoed the other pilot, a woman.

"Such arrogance! It's because of people like you exist that wars won't end!" Asia protested.
"Carlotta! You go on ahead, we can handle this!" Kyoji urged you. "Our grandparents' machines... they were built for a moment like this!"

Having cleared some space for themselves, the two duos were about to clash. The Grapearls, with their disciplined salvos, were getting closer by the second. The Gundams, on the other hand, were standing as if in meditation. Once again, they spoke as one.
"These hands of ours are glowing red! Their loud cry is telling us to stop you!"

Right. They were buying time for you, and you couldn't afford to stand by and watch. Echoes from their battle were still spreading through the cockpit.

More Drapearls were coming your way. Slicing through a couple of them, you made sure to avoid the cockpit.

Judging from the loud noise and by the bright light, the Gundams must had won their fight. The status of the enemy pilots was - unfortunately- unknown, but you had to proceed. The Kamin Terminus was right in front of you. What do to?

>Take a detour (this will cost time)
>Go forward, no matter what
>Ask for cover, take the shortest path.
>Other [specify]
>>Ask for cover, take the shortest path.
>>Ask for cover, take the shortest path.
>Ask for cover, take the shortest path.
[Delay counter: +1]

Frantically clicking on the Intercom, you tried reaching for someone - anyone to help you out.
"This is Von Neumann speaking, I need some cover. The Kamin Terminus is right in front of me!"
"Oi, lass! Shin Dragon here, let us take care of it!" a spirited voice replied.

Given how enthusiastic that response was, you figured it would be one of Miroku's friends. And indeed the half-dragon half-human machine that was looming on the background opened its mouth and unleashed a powerful beam, potent enough to cause your foes to take evasive maneuvers. The Getter stopped firing, but the holes in the enemy formation remained, and you quickly capitalized on them rushing forward.

It seemed like the worst was now behind you. The Black Ship was in sight, as the Gurren Armada was forced to spread out its forces to combat the overwhelming enemy superiority. Taking aim with your cannons you considered firing a few preliminary shots.
That was indeed the plan, but then an enormous, three-faced enemy robot appeared.

With each face covering one shoulder and protuding an arm from the mouth and a leg from the neck, the robot possessed a single head with yet one more face. It easily trumped the other opponents you had met so far in terms of sheer size.
"You've come far, young one. But there's no escaping the Twinboekun!", two voices united as one proclaimed.

"Oh? We'll have to see about that!" a squeaky female voice protested.
"Speaking too soon, aren't we?" another one joined her.
"We'll show you the extent of our determination," the last one chimed in.

You didn't even need to turn around to recognize them. The Flip Flap trio had arrived, onboard their unlikely and sturdy mecha, the Great Pacoya. Were they, too, here to provide cover for you? Either way, they seemed ready to battle. Anchors attached the large machine to space itself, as the large shining panels spreaded behind its back.

"Carlotta, dodge this!" Cocona pleaded.
"Where are we aiming?" Yayaka asked.
"The head!" Papika replied.

It was clearly a strategy to avoid a direct hit, despite what it could have sounded like. Indeed, it seemed all Gurren machines, sometimes called 'Gunmen', had their main face on their chest. The head on the shoulder was thus likely just a sensor.

As for the Twinboekun, it didn't look like it'd take the hit lying down. It, too, was charging its beam weapon and aiming it at the massive block-like machine. The Von Neumann stood exactly in the middle, meaning you had to move if you didn't want to be caught in the crossfire. Yes, move away and continue towards your goal. That was your mission. But...

"Mayday, mayday! Our forces are being overrun!"
It was a cry for help coming from the Joint Armada. In other words, allies in need.

>Rescue them (this will take time)
>Ignore them
>Conduct a strafing run on their position to help them a bit.
>Other [specify]
>>>Rescue them (this will take time)
>>Ignore them
>Rescue them (this will take time)
[Delay counter: +3]

This was a call you simply could not ignore. On your 9, an allied battleship was being assaulted en masse. The enemy tactics likely involved breaking the Joint Armada down into smaller forces and then dealing with them individually. The green and yellow cruiser was then probably just the first on the chopping block.

Turning around on the Von Neumann, you rushed in position to dispose or disperse your foes. All probe blasters launched, and the fire of the shoulder cannons combined with the beam rifle was making quick work of them. Two robots sporting the same color pattern as their mothership hailed and thanked you for your support.

With their joint efforts, they mopped up any remaining survivors, then one of them opened communications.
"Miss Dubois, you have to go on ahead! We've assigned two of our best men... ahem, women, to assist you. There's no time to lose! The Dancouga Nova and the Vilkiss will be there soon! GO!"
A sense of urgency was building up in his voice. It was hard to blame him, given how collectively scared of Simon the Armada was.

And on top of that, you ended up losing more time than you would have liked to. Two more Gunmen were waiting for you, right ahead. One of them resembled a dinosaur, the other a monkey. But reinforcements were indeed on their way, just as promised. Two large robots had arrived, one black, one white. Predictably enough, they both encouraged you to continue on your trip, and promised they'd cover for you.

It was disheartening. That was not the way you handled things. Back when the rest of the team was alive, you'd deal with large threats together. Leaving your new allies behind felt like betraying them, in a sense. But this was the nature of war: priority objectives must be dealt with, and the tasked forces must take care of them swiftly.

Those offering their lives to protect yours were no more than phantoms to you. Their names, their desires, their personality, their fears, their hopes, their dreams, their regrets. All things that qualified them as individuals, but that you'd never get to learn. Was it even humane to treat them as meatshields?

You couldn't help but smile sadly. So this was 'justice', in the end: to have nothing but questions, and to always be looking for an answer. As you advanced towards the Cathedral Terra, an answer had already formed in your mind. They were offering their lives out of their free will, not unlike you. You had no right to stop them. After all, they desired and end to this war just as well.

Saying 'thank you' wouldn't have been enough. It was time to demonstrate your gratitude with facts. As more cruisers started falling into position to block your path, you resolved to take care of those personally.
The Von Neumann's arms stretched far beyond their usual limit. They were limpingly hanging on the sides, like snakes waiting for a prey. Tossing them behind you to gain momentum, you unleashed them on their target.
"Let's get those assholes out of here! DAISETSUZAN OROCHI!"

The elongated arms of your mecha twisted and coiled around the encroaching battleship, tossing them away with unexpected might. They all dispersed as a consequence, but they did not seem to have been harmed by any means. In other words, it was a complete success. Cheers and celebrations were coming from the Joint Armada. You had taken care of this issue on your own. You were proud of that.

Nothing stood between you and your targed now.

>SatCom, on! Prepare to fire!
>Let's give them a taste of our blade!
>Probe Blasters, activate!
>Other [specify]
>>Probe Blasters, activate!
[Delay Counter: +3]

A psychic command forced the probe blasters to spread out again. It was the best way to go in: all guns blazing, and leaving absolutely no opening to anyone. And hell, it was working: you were getting closer to the enormous ship by the second. Some Gunmen were getting caught by the stray fire, but you had no time to check up on them.

A few steps away. You were a few steps away, when the enemy trap sprung on you. Emerging from a dimensional fold, a frigate arrived to bar your way.
"Feel for it hook, line and sinker!" Someone boasted from the enemy ship. "Dimensional Anchor, fire!"

Two large, drill-shaped tools bolted in your direction. A thin, bright green thread linked them to the boat, and as the drills circled around the Von Neumann, so too did the threads. Unconventional as it could have been, your opponent's plan had come to fruition. By using his anchors as restraints, it had incapacitated the mecha you piloted.

But that was not all. A constant barrage of fire was being unleashed on the Von Neumann by the crimson-red frigate, all the while the anchors swung it around. It was clear that the enemy was gaining momentum, hoping to toss it away and remove one of the most impellent threats to the Gurren Armada.

"I am disappointed in you, mister Dayakka. You have a wife and children, and yet that is how you treat a lady?"
Harsh words of condemnation had come seemingly out of nowhere. Well, it was difficult to focus on the source of that reproach while your field of vision was spinning around madly, but even so, there was no doubt on who that voice belonged to.

"Roger! Dorothy!"
"It's been a long time, Carlotta. Let's skip the formalities, at least for the time being. Captain, release that young woman at once!"
"You guys have all gone mad!" the man called Dayakka retorted. "Why do you insist on saving the Anti-Spiral? Do you not understand this is an enemy of all creation?"

"I have seen her place the life of strangers before her own. No matter what, you can't convince me she's the enemy. But above all, what I cannot forgive is your rudeness. Big O, it's showtime"
Another set of anchors was unleashed, this time coming from the large, black robot. They severed the dimensional anchors, causing you to lose control of the Von Neumann, as it spun madly. It was a small price to pay to avoid being thrown away, and thus it was a welcome development.
"Big O, final stage!"
With the enemy firmly in his graps, Roger Smith deployed his machine's final weapon: a large cannon, capable of bringing about untold destruction. It was aimed at the ship's bridge, and it was ready to fire any second now.

"STOOOOOP!" you screamed at the top of your lungs. "If you open fire, you'll kill them! We can't keep repeating the mistakes of the past!"
Dayakka had a family, mr. Smith said so himself. What good would have come of turning a wife into a widow and children into orphans? The goal of this battle was to stop Simon, not to kill his subordinates. That, for you, had never been up for debate.

"Very well then, we can find a different arrangement," the negotiator convened. The Big O pulled its right arm backwards, charging its piston. Its anchors dragged the foe closer to its position, and when it was in range, it unleashed a powerful piston-powered punch. The hit displaced the frigate, but it didn't destroy it.

"Thank you, Roger. I am going ahead to put an end to this pointless war."
"Good luck, miss Dubois. We'll be cheering for you."
"Take care," the ever-emtionless Dorothy then added.

The first order of business was...

>Repair the Von Neumann (this will take time)
>Charge at the Cathedral Terra before it's too late
>Carry out only the most urgent repairs
>Other [specify]
>Carry out only the most urgent repairs
[Delay Counter: +4. Time's Up!]

A soothing blue wave encased the snow-white machine. An healing cascade that took care of the most critical damage inflicted to the Von Neumann. In the blink of an eye, the phenomenon endend, and the punishment your robot had to endure vanished with it. Alas, it was too late.

The Cathedral Terra was right in front of you. In horror, everyone stared at how the ship changed shape into something humanoid, a black mecha large enough to eclipse the it was standing in front of. Its transformation seemed to shake the fabric of space and reality itself, sending ripples through the universe.

Everything about it seemed to be in complete defiance of logic. Two enormous drills were sprouting from its shoulders, and two smaller ones were protruding from its knees. Large and powerful beyond belief, it stood equal to the gods of the earth and of the sky. As for its name, somebody announced it before you could ask for it.

"Just how... am I supposed to destroy something that big?"
A figure so potent and ferocious to strike absolute terror into any foe. That's what earned Simon the nickname 'the Black'.


In the midst of what was possibly the worst turn of events, something gripped the Von Neumann's shoulder. A familiar face, Dix-Neuf.
"What's wrong, Carlotta?"
"That thing... it's too big. How am I supposed to...?"
"Fool! Have you forgotten? Strength isn't the size of your body," Lal'c explained.

"Exactly! It's the power residing within your heart."
Another girl spoke, from a much larger robot looming behind yours. It was large, grey, and its face resembled that of a cyclops, with a single eye. Compared to all other mechs you'd seen so far, this one looked like an antique.

"That is the original Gunbuster. Remember? We were able to meet thanks to you, Carlotta. Thanks to you, I could keep my promise. Let us repay our debt of gratitude. Let's teach the Gurren Brigade about hard work and guts!"
"Carlotta, you know what to do!" the girl in the Gunbuster shouted. "We have no time."

They were right. This was no time to lose heart, and no time to give in. It was time to stand up, for you won't be prevailed.

What followed was almost an instinctive response. Using the thrusters on the Von Neumann's legs, you propelled yourself upwards.

The Dix-Neuf joined you a second later, slowed down by its size and by its outdated technology.

Finally came the much larger Gunbuster, weirdly agile and responsive in spite of its look

A roaring whirlwind of pure kinetic force and electrictiy came down on the [Black Ship \ Super Galaxy Gurren Lagann], piercing it like a drill from side to side. It was a feat that defied logic, brought about by the sheer force of will of four girls and their robots. Almost like in a fable in which the knight slays the dragon.
But all fables come to an end. Out of nowhere, a massive hand grabbed you. The colossal Gunman was ready to counterattack. And it did so with incredible violence, tossing you away as if you were a mere pebble. The G-forces were so overwhelming that you lost consciousness a few seconds later.

Opening your eyes, you found yourself stranded on foreign ground. Judging from the battle still ongoing, you had not traveled far. The Super Galaxy Gurren Lagann was preparing to wreak havoc on the Joint Armada, tangible evidence of your mission's failure. The Von Neumann, on the other hand, was perfectly responsive. It must've been repairing itself constantly.

Away from the chaos of the battlefield, you could hear a quiet voice beckoning. Logic suggested that the constant screaming coming from the intercom must have covered it. But now it was perfectly audible, and it reminded you that the moon you were standing on, PN5-3, was connected to the SatCom through microwaves. And its purpose was...!

>Locate the entrance to the SatCom Central System
>Ask someone to locate the entrance to the SatCom Central System (This will take time)
>Use all the Mirror Energy you have left to the entrance to the SatCom Central System
>Other [Specify]
>>Locate the entrance to the SatCom Central System
>Locate the entrance to the SatCom Central System
[Delay Counter: +5]

The Satellite Communication System had to be there somewhere. Its functioning was not exactly clear to you, but it did supply energy to the Von Neumann just like it did for the Hi-Drapearl. In other words, you were sitting on a treasure trove that absolutely had to be denied to Simon. The best way to do that was to claim it for yourself.

Snapping fully awake, you started looking for any crater that might've resembled an entrance. In the background, the black colossus was wreaking havoc on the Joint Armada. It looked like nothing could stop it. This spurred you to redouble the efforts necessary to locate the access.

Crater by crater, you scouted the territory around you, until the Von Neumann stepped on a particularly friable patch of land. It fell for several meters, and it was only thanks to your skilled use of thrusters that no whiplash occurred. A narrow miss, to be sure, but now what stood in front of you was indubitably the access to the system's mainframe. In order words, you had lucked out.

Predictably enough, the System required a massive drill as an access key. That wasn't a problem, of course. The Von Neumann started changing shape to fit the mold. There was no way such a cheap security measure could've stopped you now.

It worked, just as expected. The entire chamber started pulsating with a green light at first, and then with an azure one.
"What the hell d'you think you're doing, stupid bitch?" Simon's voice chastised you. It was a mistery how it could reach you in such a faraway place, but then again, that man was unpredictable. "That artificial moon is just a fake. It's just a repository of Spiral Energy. It won't save you."

"Fake or not, so long as it's an instrument of justice it won't become useless!" you defiantly replied. PN5-3 was a receptacle of raw energy, in other words, an untapped well of potential. It was just like a caterpillar waiting to turn into a butterfly. And you would be the catalyst for that transformation!

A robot to challenge the Super Galaxy Gurren Lagann. A device to bring about a change, an instrument of freedom and justice. Its name was...

A knight clad in the purest of white, to contrast Simon's black robot. A moon-sized artifact capable of standing toe-to-toe with your mortal enemy. His desire to keep tabs on the enemy's nest would turn out to be his undoing.

It was difficult to get a clear view of the Getter you were now riding, considering that technically speaking it was the Von Neumann who was controlling it. It was a principle not the least bit dissimilar from how the Gunmen had a humanoid cockpit controlling them from within, but it certainly required some getting used to.
Around you, all the cruisers that had gathered for battle looked like flies. Mechas barely registered, be they friends or foes. Only one constituted an exception, standing in front of you with its arms folded over his stomach, ablaze with a palpable aura of anger.

"Why? Why do you insist on bringing about misfortune, you bastard?!?" Simon cried out, trying to punch the Getter Artemis.
[Social Background] "That's my line!" you replied, intercepting his blow. "This universe is sick and tired of your tiranny! What it needs is the light of justice to shine upon it!"

"Justice this, justice that! What have I done to be dubbed a tyrant? When and how have I been unjust? You all have gone mad with power when you could get your hands on Spiral Energy. What you're witnessing is the inevitable outcome!"
"What about you, then? Are you not abusing Spiral Energy right now, by consuming so much of it?"

The Getter and the Gurren Lagann became locked in combat, as if in a stalemate. Fist against fist, they were like two sumo fighters tryign to throw each other off the ring.

"This is an exception! I have to do it, if I want to save the universe!"
"How comes you're the only one allowed exceptions, then?"
"Isn't it obvious? Because they've demonstrated to be prone to greed and pettiness. It wasn't me who made the rules! They have disqualified themselves because of their own limitations!"

"No, that's YOUR limitations!" You retorted, breaking free for the Gurren Lagann's grasp and preparting to punch its face. "The limitations of a man who secluded himself from the world! The limitations of a man who couldn't understand other people's heart! You see Spiral Power only as a tool of destruction because that's the only way you can use it! That's YOUR limited perspective!"
"Then what do you propose?" he asked, a hint of weariness in his voice.

>Let's stop the war! Let's look for a solution together!
>Take your leave! Your presence is no longer welcome here!
>You can never atone for what you've committed
>Other [specify]
>Let's stop the war! Let's look for a solution together!
>Let's stop the war! Let's look for a solution together!
>Let's stop the war! Let's look for a solution together!
"Look at these people! They are fighting a war that doesn't belong to them. No, they don't belong to the war. It's time to cease this folly! If we are to move forward, we can only do so together!"

"Heh. So that's your solution. What a worthless pile of crap. Only death can cure your stupidity!"
A salvo of missiles launched from the black robot, enough to annihilate a planet. The Getter Artemis took most of them emerging unscathed, but it was more about the message than about the damage. Simon refused your point entirely.

[Social Background] "You have confused the means with the end! Without a solid criterium to support it, even moderation becomes tiranny! When people are made unable to tell the reason behind a prohibition, they are also made unable to tell fair government apart from despotism."

"And let me guess, that criterium is justice."
"By learning from others' mistakes, we can grow as individuals. That's how a mirror works. And by learning from our own mistakes, we evolve as people. That's how a drill works. Justice is made of both of them! Without a synthesis between those two, we'll forever be stuck in the paradigms of the past!"

"Rubbish! Sweet talking that comes from a wolf in sheep's clothing. Stagnation and evolution cannot cohexist. They represent polar opposites!"

Another frontal assault, this time using the drills on his robot's shoulder as a battering ram. There was an impetus animating his soul that permeated in every single attack, as if the Gurren Lagann was merely an extension of his body - no, not his body, for every body has a limit. It was an extension of his will.

All of his words, all of his proclamations exuded charisma and conviction. He was a natural born leader, capable of exerting enough pressure to make all his opponents waver. It would have been a lie to say that you had not been shaken in the least bit. But...

"XXVIth Gespenst squadron reporting, I am the last man standing. Good hunting, Carlotta Dubois!"
"This is it for me. Carlotta! Take what's left of my aura!"
"To you, the last of my mana! Miss Dubois!"

Even if his words were enough to make you lose faith in yourself, those who had come here still believed in you. Their hopes as they died, and their dreams as they fought on. Both of them still lingered in the air, as a gentle breeze no one but you could perceive.
The Getter Artemis produced another drill, capable of matching the black machine's. It refused to go down without a fight.
"My cursed heritage and the futile quest for revenge! I cast them aside, just as I cast aside the future you have decided for us. We will be the ones deciding the path we'll follow! The path that joins polar opposites, the path of synthesis! GETTER FLARE!"
The coruscating wind engulfing the Artemis started whirling around it at a breakneck speed, causing the white mecha to shine like gold. It was time to put an end to this.

Your drill was winning the fight. It was time to push back, and then push back some more. As fast as you could. And as if responding to your desires, the mechanical knight acquired speed. Before you even had time to realize it, you found yourself screaming at the top of your lungs.

By this point, your world had twisted into an endless wasteland of pure light. It was enough to burn one's retinas and probably melt off their face, too, but you couldn't help grinning madly. You had a vague perception of just how far everything was moving outside of the robot, but the strange feeling of ecstasy was numbing all sensations.

You passed out, and when you came to, it was indeed in a desert. The sun was mercilessly shining from up above, and below was only sand. Thirst was the only thing on your mind as you took step after step in that never-changing scenario. The only element that seemed to break the monotony of that place was a man lying on the floor, unconscious. He was wearing heavy clothes, too heavy for a desert-farer. Around his chest and legs were thick chains, too.

>Try to wake him up
>Ignore him, walk on
>Hit him for good measure
>Other [specify]
>Try to wake him up
>>Try to wake him up
Leaning forward and rocking his body slowly, you tried to wake him up.
"Oi. Oi! You're gonna die like this!", you tried to warn him.
A barely audible whisper replied. "The same..."

"THE SAME GOES FOR YOU!" he exploded, suddenly standing up and punching you in the guts. There was no mistaking it, now that you could hear his voice: it was no one other than Simon, transported for some mysterious reason to that hellish desert together with you.

Now that he stood up, he easily towered over you. It really wasn't your fault that you couldn't recognize him immediately, but that voice was a dead giveaway. Assuming a fighting stance, he threw a few punches that you miraculously avoided.
"Just because you're a woman, it doesn't mean I will hold back!"

"Good, I don't intend to hold back either."
Knowledge of martial arts was flowing into you, perhaps a side-effect of the attunement to Mirror Energy. Rather than replicating Simon's style, it was endowing you with knowledge about Baji Quan, the technique used by Father Matheus while he was still alive.

Notably, whereas he was stronger and more muscular, the Eight-Extremities Fist was giving you a edge in terms of sudden painful strikes, which often caught him by surprise. A fight that would normally be unwinnable had turned into a tie that was almost imposssible to break.

Matching each other blow for blow, you let the fists do the talking. After all, there was no way to convince him with just words. It was time to show just how hard your resolve was. Still, he wasn't half bad. In a sense, this was almost enjoyable.
"Good form, Simon."
"Same to you, asshole."

His compliment wasn't as genuine, of course, but his grin was. He must've been enjoying this too. Perhaps there was something primal about hitting an opponent with one's own fists, something that figthing in a huge humanoid robot simply couldn't convey. Piloting removed the 'pilot' from the battle and turned foes into machines. It dehumanized conflict.

It was curious just how much philosophical speculation could fit into a fist fight. He spat a tooth. You probably broke a rib. The pain had long disappeared. All that was left was a desire to annihilate each other.


Meanwhile, someone was looking from a distance.
"Guys, what do you say? Should we stop them?"
"Oh no, I am enjoying this. Tell you what, I kinda wanna join in"
"Don't be like that. You know very well this is bigger than us."

"Yeah, well, fuck you dude. I wanna watch."
"Would it kill you to be reasonable for once in your life?"
"Holy fuck, look who's talking."
"Guys, enough of that. Let's just stop them. This has been going on long enough."

"Gods have mercy, why was I stuck here with two killjoys? Alright, alright. Let's go.
A kick. A punch. An elbow drop. A headbutt. The duel continued, and with it, your descent into animals. Perhaps to cling on to his humanity, Simon had started talking.
"You piece of shit! Like fuck I'll hand the universe to a being as twisted as you!"
"I'm telling you, the Anti-Spiral is dead! I killed it!"

"You THINK you killed it! If it really had died, you would've died with it. Moron!"
"Fuck you! How would you know that, were you even watching?"
"Of course I was, dumbass. What did you think?"
"So you watched ME fight YOUR enemy, and didn't even have the decency to intervene? I've had it with you!" Pulling your hand backwards, you prepared to put an end to this struggle. "Simon, let's see you grit those teeth! Become a man, BRIGHT SLAP!"

The impact of your open palm on his cheek was strong enough to turn his neck and push him backwards. Losing his balance, he fell on the ground. The first moment of respite in what felt like an eternity.

"Alright guys, you've gone far enough. Let's stop this now."
The voice issuing this command belonged to one of three figures that were barely visible on the horizon. It wasn't familiar in the least bit.

>You want some of this too, huh?
>Hey, he started it.
>Not like I wanted this, truth be told.
>Other [specify]
>>Hey, he started it.
>>Not like I wanted this, truth be told.
>Not like I wanted this, truth be told.
"You speak like I wanted any of this," you replied bitterly.
"Stop playing the victim! We'll end this right here, right now!" Simon retorted.
"Sorry friends, this is as far as you go," a man with a red scarf replied, taking a step forward.

"Both of you," he said, pointing his index fingers, "are fucking idiots. Simon's right: had you killed the Anti-Spiral, you'd have died with it. And Carlotta's right too: you've done a shit job at being an example and a leader for many of the people your gang has recruited from many different universes. Else we wouldn't be here, would we?"
"Wait, doesn't that make us both right?" Simon objected.

"Nah, it makes both of you retards," the guy with scars on his faces replied almost immediately
"Yeah, you're retarded. At least the girl knows how to fight though."
"Shut the fuck up, Benkei. No one asked for your opinion."
"Fuck you too, Hayato."

The scene was... surreal to say the least. They seemed to be a team. Why were they squabbling? At least Simon seemed to be just as confused ad you were.

Holding their necks on a choke from behind, Ryoma resumed his speech.
"Let's get to the point. This is the realm of the King Who Should Not Be. You've seen him in your dreams... haven't you, Carlotta?"
"Nightmares would be a more fitting term to describe them."
"Good. What you see here is one of the outcomes for this universe - one we have sealed away. Just like the Spiral Nemesis, there's nothing but devastation outside of this mech."

"Wait, mech? We're inside a mech?" you asked, perplexed.
"We are. This mechanical disaster is quite content with the environment we have created for it, a scenario of endless war. Some other entities, though, tend to get a bit pesky.
"Anti-Spiral," Simon commented, grimacing.

"Yeah well it's not like you ever think about anything else either way. I'd ask when was the last time you got laid, but I am not exactly in a position to judge. ANYWAY, here's the point. We found it. We found the creature's hiding hole. The Emperor did, to be precise, but let's not sweat the small stuff."
"Then what are we waiting for?" the Gurren leader asked, barely restraining his anger. "Let's get there immediately."

"Woah there, buddy. You sure you wanna go? No matter what you do, she won't be coming back."
"Stupid question."
"And you, girl? The stakes are much higher for you."

Ignoring for a second the fact that he was effectively depriving his friends of oxygen in that very moment, he made a valid point. Killing it meant killing yourself. But...
"I've made my choice. I'll stop the runaway trolley, no matter what it takes. Ryoma, Hayato, Benkei... take us there."
Letting his friends go and turning his chokehold into a hug, Ryoma nodded and stuck two fingers in his mouth, whistling.
A dark hole opened on the strip of land dividing you and Simon from the others, and two large mechanical red hands emerged. Grabbing a hold of the hole's extremities, they stretched it until the robot's head had enough space to emerge.

"Oi, Nono. Bring this lass and this lad to you-know-where. Koji will handle the rest."
"Understood! But first..." the robot turned to you, and seemed to be smiling. "Thanks for helping my older sister. It meant the world to me."
"Ah, huh... you're welcome?"

You would've loved to be a bit more polite, but there was no time for that. The hands grabbed you and Simon, dragging you into the hole. The robot had disappeared, and was nowhere to be seen. A beam of light ran you over, and suddenly you were back into the Getter Artemis. The Super Galaxy Gurren Lagann was right next to you, as the beam of light continued its path forward.

"Just... what is that?" Simon asked, confused.
"I think... from the very start, he's been the one opening a path for us to follow."

"That's quite right!" someone responded enthusiastically. "And I'll continue doing just that. As for you guys... well, thanks for taking care of my younger brother. I know he can be a bit of a handful."
"Ah, you can say that again," Viral replied, seemingly out of nowhere.
"Huh? Guys? What... how...?"
"Let's skip the explanations, Simon. Follow that guy for now!"
"Thanks for the summary, Leeron. Let's go, Carlotta!"
"I am on it!"

"Alright newbies, feast your eyes!" the lighting trail proudly proclaimed. "ZERO Mazinger is the light of possibility itself!"
As moths drawn to a flame, both the white and the black robot were wrapped tightly by its glow and pulled close. For a second, the world accellerated to the speed of light. And then...

A sudden exit. A sudden surge of power. The Artemis and the Gurren Lagann had reached their final forms, replete with energy gifted by the Mazinger and the others.
Emperor Artemis.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
Both stood together, ready to face their destiny.
The entity that had dragged you here against your will was lurking in the darkness of that pocket dimension. A shade in the shadow. And yet, it was perfectly recognizable.
"Carlotta, let's see you use the good ol' you-know-what."
"I intended to do so even without being told to."

Imitating Joan's final moments, you raised your arm over your head.
"... BREAKER!"

Two enormous drills were now charging head-first against what was left of the Anti-Spiral. The purple one was slowly but surely gaining speed over the green one, and as it surpassed it, it started unfolding it and weaving itself together with the loose strains.
"What's the big idea, Carlotta? Stealing my thunder?"

Only one large drill remained, shining with an azure light. The drill you were driving forward. Giving a last glance to the crimson red mecha you were leaving behind, you spoke some parting words.

"My apologies, Simon. But this is my responsibility. I will see it to the end."
A double helix in which past and future met to empower the present. That was the weapon you were driving - no, the weapon you had turned into. Several appendages and tentacles sprouting from the frightened Anti-Spiral flew in your direction, trying to stop you, but to no avail.
"Oi lass! That's my ring you're taking!" He barked, probably trying to get a rise out of you.

All that remained after the impact was an engine pulsating with glowing blue energy.
No one responded. No farewell came.


The faint scent of flowers and spring. The first thing you smelled before reaching that hellish dimension - that parallel universe. It had returned, and it was stronger than ever. Was that the smell that the afterlife had? It was rather peaceful, if not for the distinct sensation that someone was looking at you.

A flood of emotions came running through you. Was that... it? Were you dead? Opening your eyes, what you noticed instead was an endless field of green, with a girl sitting not too far from where you stood. Her hair was fluffy and platinum blonde, but what really made her stand out were the flower-shaped pupils covering part of her blue eyes.

"Ah, you finally woke up, Carlotta. We were getting impatient."
"Huh? Impatient? 'We'?"
Two strong arms wrapped around you from behind, hugging you tightly.

"Dindrane! Finally we meet!"
It was the voice of a tall young man, wearing something that looked a bit like a piloting suit. In sheer contrast, the girl was dressed in frilly clothes. "Ah, I suppose your name is Carlotta now. Well, I liked the name I chose for you. But I suppose Carlotta suits you better."

Turning around, you got a good look at him. It was almost like looking in a mirror. He was older, of course, and he had a neatly trimmed beard. How was that even possible you could not tell, and you did not care. You reciprocated the hug, trying to hold back your tears. "Brother... I..."

His hand gently patted your head. He had never stopped caring about you. Even now, he was trying to reassure you.
"It's fine. It'll all be fine. You have the ring, don't you?"

Taking a few steps back you handed it to him. The girl came closer too, to take a look at it.
"Ah... my wedding ring, you brought it back safely. Thank you, Carlotta!"
"Wedding ring? So... Simon is...?"
She nodded, with a smile that concealed her sadness. "He's a good man, isn't he?"

"Well... more or less," You and Perceval answered in unison.
"Listen here, Dind... ahem, Carlotta. This was all part of the plan! The gem on this ring can absorb Spiral Energy, and you have enough to take us out of here!"
"Sounds like good news. But where exactly is 'here'?"

"We're still within the Anti-Spiral's pocket dimension. That thing... it represents the human desire to use a mirror for the sake of complacency, and not for the sake of self-improvement. It revels in its stagnation, mocking those who dare challenge its paradigm. That's how a mirror can become the source of despair. And that's why it can never be fully defeated. But don't worry: weakened as it is, it fell prey to its own Mirror Energy. We have placed our mirror against the one it wields, creating an endless labyrinth of reflections. He won't get out of here easily."

"Wait.. Deucalion said that the Anti-Spiral cannot fully control Irregulars."
"That's only partially true. You guys are harder to control, but by no mean impossible. Isn't it so, Nia?"
"Yeah. I am an Irregular too. It helps, but by itself, it's not enough."
So the girl's name was Nia. You felt kind of bad for never introducing yourself, but the news you had been given held a bit of an higher priority at the moment.

Perceval must had noticed that the mood was getting sour, so he quickly changed the subject. Social skills were a family thing, apparently.
"But now! With our barrier, the Anti-Spiral will bother no one else, in no other dimension. And thanks to Nia's ring and your clever use of Spiral Energy, we can go home. Nia, do you mind?" he asked. The girl shook her head, and he proceeded to separate the gem from the circlet, planting the former on the ground and giving the latter to you. He took a few steps back, and then a green barrier enveloped you.

"That's good, brother, it looks like it's working. Brother?"
Nia and him were looking at you from a distance, with a sad smile on their faces. "Brother, what's the meaning of this?"
"I am sorry, Dindrane. I mean, Carlotta. I lied to you."
"I don't understand. Aren't we going home? You know, a very nice family has taken me in. I am sure they'll be happy to have you too! And Nia as well! And then we can be together... like a real family..."

"Isn't it nice, Perceval? I always wanted a younger sister. A bit like Carlotta," Nia replied.
"Yeah. It's a nice dream. Carlotta, I... we can't come with you. If we did, the barrier we've erected to trap the Anti-Spiral would crumble. At least one of us has to stay behind. I insisted, I wanted Nia to go with you, but... she never accepted."
"And how could I? Perceval is the one who should've come with you. But he's a big dork and never listens!" she complained, pouting.
"Oh don't be fooled by her sweet appearance, she's constantly teasing me. But... this place is a prison. And solitude would be a prison within that prison. That's why I can't leave her alone. The Anti-Spiral menace is no more. Live happily, Carlotta."

The man spoke those words as if it were someone else's business. As if the freedom he had gifted upon the multiverse was something trivial. With his sacrifice, people would now be at peace. His words contained such hopes. But this didn't change the crux of the matter.

There was no salvation available for that knight.

As the green barrier narrowed around you, the garden receded. Nothing could stop that process. Nothing could stop your tears. Until the very last second, you called out his name. When even the last shred of light disappeared, you were left crying in the darkness.
Slowly but surely, you recognized where you were: in your bed, with no light filtering from the windows. it was a rainy day, just like the day in which you had disappeared.
Was that all a dream? No, the silver ring in your hands was proof of what you had been through.
Responsibility. Faith. Courage. Love. Justice. All the teachings you were given, all the teachings you would not forget. And the last wish of a certain brother of yours, which you would see fulfilled no matter what.

'Live Happily.'
Thanks for running.
Some questions emerged during the run. I'd like to answer those I remember
>What happened to the Mirage Knights?
Understandable if you re-read part 5, but they were wiped out at the Hammer of the Gods
>Who is the mother of machines?
Post-Instrumentality EVA-01

Feel free to ask more questions if you will, I'd be glad to answer. The inspiration for this quest came from bootleg toys, which often tend to combine more than one series together, like the machines of Lukasz, Mark, Joan and Matheus or that are made of hollow plastic like the Von Neumann and the Morgenstern. Despite being B-class toys, they still embody and represent very real heroes in the eyes of many children. I wanted to sing a tribute to them.
I'm curious if it was possible to save any of our comrades, like Joan or Lukasz.
Most of them were 'dead' before the beginning of the quest. It was a matter of how they would've died, anyway.
Any special events we missed out on like sending Lal'c to meet Noriko?
None in particular. You did miss some clues on who was Perceval's teacher, for instance. I was thinking of running a prequel quest ex-post to give more flesh to the setting but I doubt the interest is there.
Thanks for running. What was our final tally?
I'll check tomorrow in the morning and hopefully post before the quest is obliterated. During the finale of course there was no more tally to keep track of, the route was already locked.

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