2014-02-01 - Starfall 1
|Title: Starfall, pt. 1|
Dark Fall stages a fullscale assault on Infinity Institute! Magical girls launch a valiant defense! At the critical moment, the sky explodes with golden light... what could have happened?
Most of the MUSH. Notably, all Four Generals of the Dark Kingdom were on-site, with Jadeite NPCed by Raising Heart, and Nephrite NPCed by Pink Moon Stick. After a certain point, half of this scene split off into another room; the log is at 2014-02-01 - Starfall 1.5.
| OOC - IC Date:|
02/01/014 - It Must Have Been Back In November ICly
Although most people will laugh it off as a television stunt later, it certainly feels very real at the time. The sky goes dark, darker than ink, as though it were a black abyss into which one might fall upwards, never to be seen again. Clouds twine, tormented into a twisted spiral that churns with violet lightning, and burns with nascent power. The wind is icy, virtually a weapon all on its own, blasting food carts onto their sides, tearing umbrellas away, and tousling hairstyles beyond recognition.
But it's the gigantic face in the sky that really answers the question of whether or not this could possibly be natural. His lines are long and aristocratic, from the steely glint to his emerald eyes to the regal arch of his nose. His hair falls from his brow in magnificent waves, a crown finer than any metal or jewels could hope to be wrought. His noble neck is largely hidden by the high collar of his uniform -- dove gray, with red epaulettes and golden piping, it harkens back to a bygone era of nobility, civility, ability...
"I am Nephrite," he purrs, his luscious voice rumbling across all of Tokyo, louder than any thunder. "And I claim the spire called Infinity in the name of my Dark Queen."
The image fades away, but the darkness only continues to rise, like a throbbing in the air, tension overwhelming.
For the moment, all is normal in Tama. The challenge has been delivered, but battle has not been joined. Infinity Institute stands tall, a skyscraping monument to learning, full of students and teachers in dire need of protection.
Who will defend it?
Rune does not pass off unnaturally twisted skies and suddenly bad weather as 'a stunt.' She has seen skies like that far too recently to shrug at them. Nephrite's bold challenge confirms it, and her mind races through the possibilities. An 'infinite spire'... Tokyo Tower, perhaps? No, it's probably not that clever, Nephrite was likely being literal when he named 'Infinity.'
A few phone calls confirmed the obvious: Others had seen it too, and they also suspected this was a well planned situation but one that can't be ignored. This ruled out going in alone, and she met up with Eri enroute. Princess Runealy is tense, alert, but reasonably calm. "We'll have to be careful. If /anything/ seems off, I'll be there and back you up, Eri." She's following the Puella Gardener's lead, despite being the one to propose they head toward Infinity together.
That's not a television stunt. That's not a television stunt at all. Seika Miuchi looks up from her walk from several blocks away; the giant face in the sky is all she needs to see.
A chill runs through her from tip to toe.
A flutter of wings nearby her comes a second later; a small white turtledove alights on her shoulder. Augustine, the Soeurs of the Silver Star's mentor and crafter of the Blessed Masques, also watches Nephrite's declaration.
"One of the soldiers of Queen Beryl," the turtledove chirps , hunching his shoulders and burying his head a little ways into the fluffy feathers of his ruff. "This isn't good, Masque Feu. We must act."
Seika's lips come together in a thin line. "I know."
Augustine's voice lowers seriously. "The Night Lord is much more subtle than Beryl's servants. But these ones are much older. We won't be alone, but even many warriors may not be enough."
Seika doesn't even blink at the warning. She rushes into an alleyway, fishing around in her purse for her mask.
A few moments later, there's a blur of motion in the shadow of the Infinity skyscraper. Heels click down atop a mailbox as Masque Feu seems to descend from out of nowhere, coming down on the crest of a high leap. Tossing her long dark hair back over slim shoulders, she turns with lips parted as though to give a speech -
Nobody's there. The battle hasn't been joined, and Nephrite's apparition is gone.
Instead she rests a hand on her hip and realizes she's likely the first one there.
"Dark Kingdom soldiers," she calls, voice resonant and level. "I, Masque Feu, will be your opponent. If you dare trouble this place, you must first be tested by the power of blessed flame."
Miki doesn't live in this area of the city, but it's a fine place to go on an outing to get one's mind off of troubling thoughts. His 'bad' hand is still in no shape to play piano, and seems to hang idle at his side more often than not. Physical therapy will get it back into shape for basic tasks, but...
He is not so self-centered as to not notice the bizarre skies, though. His Rose Signet glints as he runs towards the site where Nephrite appears, and a subtle change comes over him as he embraces the nobility of the Ohtori Student Council.
It takes two hands to play piano, but only one to fence. "Leave this area now without harming anyone, or face consequences!" He knows it's not the most threatening of banter, but at least he has confidence and poise on his side. He hopes.
Miho blinks as she looks outside, and sees the face. She blinks a few times. The woman growls a little bit, and shakes her head. "Why oh why do all the crazys want to attack schools?", the woman mutters. She runs off, and finds a bathroom. She takes a moment to breathe in, and smiles a bit. "Let's dance.", she says.
Flames erupt from the gem on her hand, and race up her arm. They circle her body, and bathe her in flames before turning into a fire piller. Then Firebird steps out of the flames. A feral looking armor, the armored magic girl walks over to the toilet, and flushes it. THen the woman walks out of the bathroom, and rushes outside. She takes off to the roof, and lands, looking down at the scene. There's a loud screech before wings of flames erupt from Firebird's back as she crosses her arms. She lifts one hand up, and makes a Just Bring It motion with it.
When the heavens darken like that, Fuu Hououji has just loosed an arrow into a target at the far end of the archery range - and for a moment, she thinks the Special Effects Club may have rigged something up to display faux fireworks when someone hits the bulls-eye, as her shot did.
On the other hand, that's decidedly NOT a fireworks display in the suddenly pitch-black sky, and his threat sends a chill up Fuu's spine. She remembers Nephrite from the concert incident ... Fuu unstrings her bow, and turns to regard the rest of the archery club. "Captain-san," she addresses the club president/team captain, "I think this may be a prank that's getting out of hand, but could you get everyone to ..."
Where's a good place that they'll be safely out of harm's way?
"... the library," Fuu finishes. "I doubt the special effects will get that far." She smiles, bows politely, and hurries off before the captain, or anyone else for that matter, can do more than think it's a good suggestion. Fuu heads out with them, at least initially - only one door to the archery range, after all - but she also collects bows and quivers to drop them off in the equipment room. It's a convenient excuse to separate from the rest of the team.
She does drop the equipment off, taking precious moments to hang the bows and quivers up properly ... and then she pulls out her glove-jewel, tugging it into place on her left hand. "Belief becomes power ... winds, guide me!!"
A green-tinted whirlwind forms out of nowhere, wrapping around Fuu and dissolving her archery outfit into a faint shower of sparkles; in its place, her school uniform materializes - but green in color, rather than the standard-issue plum, and light armor forms over top of her clothes as well, with short boots on her feet rather than the usual socks and penny loafers. Finally, a more ornate bow and quiver of arrows materialize, arming her for the battle to come; she can swap to her sword if she needs to, but she's hoping for the good luck to keep her share of the fighting at range.
And with that, the Magic Knight of Wind rushes out to start reconnoitering, ready to do battle as she needs to.
Sakura Akagi is on her way home from Juuban middle school, walking with her friends, when she stops suddenly.
There's a weird dark cloud on the horizon. It's a bit of a distance away, so she wonders at first if it's just a storm. It seems to be growing, and with it, there's a smell on the wind that doesn't seem quite like lightning on oncoming rain, but, something darker.
Her danger sensitivity isn't quite as strong as Mist's... and the little dragon, who was hidden on her back, pops his head up over her shoulder suddenly as the smell of the dark cloud catches his little nose. "...Do you smell that danger?"
"...I do," says Sakura, and she worries, a sense of foreboding building in her stomach.
She grabs her bookbag... hefts it carefully, and pulls out her perfume vial.
She looks at the other Perfume Warriors nearby, and with a glance around to make sure that no one is staring at them, gets ready for the change. "I... think we should check this one out."
"Henshin! Cherry Blossom! Splash!"
The cap flies off the vial, and Japanese Cherry Blossom's transformation begins! With a flash of sash, sleeves and dress, she keeps spraying the perfume on her body... earrings and pink hair, and one single flower tying it all together. Japanese Cherry Blossom emerges into the light... and races toward the darkness!
Still tired from her exertion yesterday and school - she didn't exactly cover herself in glory today in classes - Suzu would have been very happy to get even a single day off. But there are some things that just aren't television stunts, no matter how much people (including Suzu herself) would like them to be.
This is one.
Suzu does not have the same sort of cat-based intelligence as the Sailor Scouts because, as remembered yesterday, cats tend to treat her alternately as a very large toy or a very large dinner depending on their mood. She does not need intelligence (well, beyond what she naturally has) to determine that a) this is a bad thing, b) she has the capability to stop it, and c) she should definitely go work on that.
As a result, it's not Suzu Hamasaki that shows up but Seafoam Suzu, leaving a trail of wet footprints as... did she /run/ all the way to Infinity? (No. Just the last part.) Either way, she's breathing hard as she arrives, already partially tired out - maybe she should spend more time in gym class, she thinks. That, or Kefirin was right.
She slows down as she gets closer. She can see - feel - a lot of people here, already prepared. She's relieved. She /really/ did not want to try to do this alone.
Lera Camry was walking out of the tower, her best pal in tow (if not literally) behind her. She looks over her shoulder and back at Yukimi Amane, flashing a smile at her. "That was fun! I expected a poetry slam to be a full contact sport, but despite the lack of American football gridiron action, I was not disappointed--"
Then the skies darken. Nephrite's face appears; she falls quiet and listens to the speech; midway through her eyes narrow. Her fingers curl tightly, before she turns her head and looks back at Yukimi. "Ah--I'm going to go tell the school patrol, it should be around the corner--um."
A flash of worry is in her brown-gold eyes, before she nods, confidently. "You go back inside! Okay, Yukimi? I'll be back there soon!"
It's a flimsy excuse -- and then she's off. She runs down the steps, and around the corner. A moment after she does, there is a flash of red-orange, before she bolts back. She rushes there -- jumping out onto the lawn with Masque Feu, and she looks up, eyes narrowing. The paired energy swords of her Intelligent Device are lifted up. "We're not going to let you take our beloved school!" she says. "We'll fight to protect it! I'm--"
Wait. Her friend is watching. Maybe.
She can't say that she's Lera Camry, Adventurer Mage. She hesitates for a moment, and then she thinks of the best American magical girl name she can think of: "I'm Magical Cheeseburger Voting Propane-chan! Shine and soar!"
<No. I am not taking part of this. No bloody way.>
As far as Shiori's concerned, the epaulets make mister man in the sky look /good/. That thought is one that she briefly holds onto to keep a little normalcy as her school has gone mad, as her way home has become frigid and blown with food carts and other debris. ...She doesn't hang onto it all that long.
But as people fret, it's not like they're gonna worry too much about what /she/ thinks, right? She doesn't even bother to say she needs to go, since she was only watching a club activity to begin with. Slipping away from the crowd about the fencing team, Shiori takes a few breaths, glances outside, and.. "Believe in miracles," she starts to herself, softly, and may say it a couple more times to herself before she leaves.
The transformation is done with in private--a girl in purples and greens and browns steps outside the tower, instead, a wicked, lovely dagger in hand. ...And upon seeing that she's not the only one there, she immediately straightens a little, "..."
...Okay so she doesn't have a dramatic intro speech. But, Shiori Takatsuki is here!
Texting on one's phone can be a hazardous experience, as Eri found out, walking home from Yamanote to Tama. Still wearing the Magic Knight of Wind T-Shirt from the sleepover, she was idly messaging someone in particular the moment the giant disembodied head of the gorgeous man appeared in the sky.
'I am Nephrite' caused her to look up suddenly, before walking smack dab into a street sign. The embarrassment flooded away however as she listened in an abstracted daze. And then it was gone, leaving behind only a thrumming, throbbing pulse of darkness with it.
Opening up her phone, she makes a phone call to a certain person, "Hey Chichi. I'm not going to be able to run that errand for you. Yeah.. a sister school 'thing' has come up. Last minute." A pause, some hesitation, before she answers, "Yeah, I'm sorry Chichi, I know it's across town and will inconvenience you a great deal. I wouldn't do this if it wasn't important. I promise." Apparently that settled the issue, as she closes her eyes, and states, "You know I love you right? I'll try my best to be home in time for dinner." And then she closed the phone. At least he'd be safe if there was fallout.
Not long after she's at Infinity, already transformed. Her demeanor just about as thorny as her Henshin as she states tersely, "Everything is off today, Rune-chan. Everything." She grasps part of the length of her scourge, and coils it back up, anxiously. The tendrils twisting and moving within her hand just as nervously.
"Anyway, I was thinking once we find a good place, somewhere with a nice smell to it," Erika says to Sakura, "we could start kind of a routine! That's what's real important. You have to do it every d..."
She trails off as she looks up at the ominous cloud on the horizon. Heavy... black... pendulous. Her eyes cut towards Sakura, and then towards Aimi. "Yeah," she says.
Out comes the perfume vial! With a generous misting, she declaims - with her usual moment of gratuitous English - "TRANSFORM! Forever Sunshine-- Splash!!" And so, in a shimmering of violet and tangerine, her hair is wrapped up and her outfit turned from schoolgirl skirtiness to karate-ready gi...irty...ness...
The point is Forever Sunshine is running just a few steps behind Japanese Cherry Blossom. "I hope it's not another ghost!!"
So why is Lucy here? For many reasons, but the main one is that, well, she lives here. She's been waiting in her dorm room for a friend to come over, looking out the window both to enjoy the view, and try to tell apart the specks she can discern down below. But then... /this/ happens. Is it what she's been dreading...? No, not quite. But still...
It's Mesozoing time.
Lucy makes a run for the elevator, but doors close in front of her one after one. There are glass panes everywhere, but breaking them might not be the best of ideas. Instead, Lucy grabs a towel from a girl passing by with a pile of laundry, shouting "sorryI'llgiveitbacklater" before bursting into the staircase, face concealed by some towel ninjustu, as she raises her club into the air. "Rock of Ages! Make me shine!"
And so, bathed in multicolored light, a mysterious girl slides down the ramp, whirling down the building, a new piece of clothing or fashion accessory getting replaced with every story she descends, until the transformation is complete, the ramp ends, and she tumbles down the corridor and past the sliding doors that open to the front of the school...
...and, after ungraciously skidding to a halt, gets back up. "Strong as the tyrano! Clever as the raptor! Nimble as the dactyl!" No comment. "Mesozoic Maiden Lucy!"
She points her club at the sky, defiantly, as if that was going to do anything.
Aimi Saionji is, for once in a while, walking back home with her friends, just talking and not really concerned about things too much right now. Things have been rather peaceful since they helped out Runealy. At least in Aimi's case they have been.
Aimi's danger sense is nowhere NEAR the same level as Sakura's or Mist's, but even she gets the feeling that something is wrong there. She nods lightly, frowning a bit about how this is going to cut into the time for other things. "Yeah. Doesn't that look like its also over by Infinity? Hi-chan could be in trouble." She's not worried about Kinzo. He's always in trouble.
And so, following Sakura and Erika's actions, she gets out her perfume bottle and transforms as well, heading off towards Infinity with the others. "You hope its not another ghost? Is that a bad thing now?" Warm Vanilla asks over to Forever Sunshine.
Funny thing about fairy tales; the weather rarely lines up with reality.
Which is why it's so strange, really, that the sky darkens in Gold Crown Town, too. Duck had been hurrying back to the ballet students' dorms after being kept back by Mr. Cat for poor performance -- /again/ -- when the evening sky was replaced by ink and sorrow. Princess Tutu had hatched from her egg, and she'd spent a good amount of time leaping and pirouetting across the roofs of the Germanic hamlet to try and chase down the source of the black, before she came to the gates of the town.
Which still, inexplicably, lead to an elevator. Not that it doesn't make sense or anything -- of course towns can be put on towers.
Princess Tutu waits patiently in the elevator as it goes down to the rest of the tower, which is, you know, kind of an entertaining mental image. But once the doors open, she leaps through an open window, a single vine sprouting up to support her en pointe toe as she balances there, with impossible grace, for one long moment.
If one were to look up, they might see her, there, the prima donna watching the sky, every muscle of her body held like a high note as she watches for the next move.
Or perhaps, they'd see a swan. She is, after all, the spirit of dance, the guardian called 'Princess Tutu'.
"This building looks really ominous."
Usagi Tsukino is not normally intimidated by architecture. However, the Infinity Institute has a reputation. Will everyone be carrying briefcases? Will she be issued an itinerary at the door? Wait, will she even get in? There might be literal entrance exams. She continues her way toward the entrance, having elected to walk so she could build her courage.
Luna, a spacecat, sighs on the opposite end of the phone line. Back at her secret catbunker, she is carefully wiring up a degeneracy generator. She'll need it if she wants a more powerful radar array. Fortunately, she found a wireless headset in size 'kitten' the other day (it was underneath the spare microcomputer accessories), so she can be exasperated at Usagi at the same time.
"Usagi, you like Lucy, right? She invited you. Would Lucy go to an ominous school?"
"Sometimes you can't control ominous! That's what makes a setting so... ominous."
"You're being silly." Luna leaps down from her workbench, padding over to a toolbox. The soldering kit is somewhere around here. "If my population charts are correct, the Infinity Institute is likely home to a sufficient number of magical girls to provide adequate anti-youma coverage. It would take a significant conspiracy to undermine a population of that density." She noses aside a set of fine-tipped screwdrivers, pauses, and then considers: "Or an invasion."
Her computer beeps. Usagi's sending a text while talking again. Luna looks over her shoulder to see what it is--and hisses as giant_evil_man_in_sky_so_ominous.jpg fully loads. "Usagi! It's the enemy!"
"I wish people would listen to me about what is and isn't ominous," Usagi murmurs, stashing her phone in her skirt pocket and grasping her transformation broach.
Sailor Moon, soldier of love and justice, leaps out of some conveniently placed shrubbery. It's not her home territory, so it's really difficult to find more respectable places to burst onto the scene from. She strikes a pose and raises a hand: "HOLD IT RIGHT--um."
Usagi opens and closes her mouth, and then grins sheepishly at the collection of magical warriors. "Sorry! I, um, thought that at least one of you would be evil. I don't normally show up this early."
Nephrite utters his challenge, and across Tokyo Magical Girls rise up to meet it, although none with perhaps the same sense of theatre. At least, not until, several long seconds after the Nephrite head has faded--
o/` Kaware! o/`
o/` Kami ni nare~e~ o/`
As the dulcet tones of Jam Project, blaring across the entirety of Tama Outer City from every flat surface as if they were giant speakers, transition into a brief (but totally sweet) drum breakdown, an enormous pillar of red sparks erupts out of the ground in the middle of the street outside of the Institute; it's followed, in short order, by two more, these orange, and then two more of yellow, and so on. The end result, from the giant Nephrite head's former position, looks a lot like
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The front doors of the building across the way from the Institute fly open, and Diva Heart bounds out, her Earth Championship dangling by the strap from her left hand and a rainbow-colored microphone in her right.
As the notes of Jam Project fade away, Diva Heart lifts the microphone to her mouth. "I don't know what your problem is, 'Nephrite," she declares, her voice echoing across Tama Outer City just as her music did. After a beat, she adds, a little sheepishly, "/Or/ if you're a boy or a girl!"
"But I do know," she continues, unperturbed by this fact, "That /this/--" Diva Heart lifts her left hand over her head to show her gold and leather championship belt off to... someone...??? "Means that if you want to start something, you and I are going to have a problem!! So you better brace yourself for the excellence of your execution, because Diva Heart is <rrrRRREADY TO RUMMMMBLEEEEE~!!>"
She rolls the Rs like a champ, but still sounds like an idiot because she says 'ready to rumble' in English.
"Yeah, you would think from the name, right?" Yukimi replies earnestly, almost hopping to keep up with her taller friend. "Thanks for inviting me, Lera-chan! Wow, Infinity Institute is *soooo* cool, every time I visit it!"
She's nodding enthusiastically along with what her friend says when the sky darkens and a giant face covers the sky. Yukimi recoils from it, covering her mouth with one hand.
"Oh my god..." she gasps. "That guy is *hot*!! --wait, no, what's this about a Dark Queen!?" I-is he into--bondage?! Yukimi starts blushing at the mere thought of it, but it turns out to be a different kind of Dark Queen than that.
Also he's kind of A FACE FLOATING IN MIDAIR, YUKIMI, SOME FOCUS PLEASE.
"--What?" she utters when Lera tells she's going to go tell local enforcement and suggest that Yukimi run back inside. "O-oh! R-right, good idea!" She nods firmly, then does exactly that--but to get to a spot where there's no one inside. People are panicking and rushing away pretty quickly, so it's thankfully not so difficult.
"Okay!" she whispers to herself, folding her hands together into a prayer pose. "We've got to protect Lera-chan and Ouka-neechan's school, right, Himiko?"
(Yes, we do, so please no more sighing over handsome men,) Himiko chides from within her.
"Sh-shut up! I can't help that he was hot!" She concentrates, and the inverted rosary dangling from her fingertips shines briefly. "O Lord, hear my wish! *Lapsa Crescenda*!"
The power from the rosary fills her body, and in a moment and a flurry of black feathers, she transforms into the silver-haired magical girl, Lux Lapsa. Her armor is silver and black, protecting her chest and the base of her wings, and black-and-ice-blue robe skirts flutter, a long inverted cross on the front.
The first order of business is getting outside. When she does that, she takes to the skies, reaching higher and higher to try to get a look for anyone suspicious. She doesn't bother to introduce herself, because she's not precisely... friendly like that, though she does note a whole lot of other magical warriors down below.
"My," she murmurs, silver eyebrows furrowing slightly. "A swift response. They must have been in the area as well..."
/This is *so cool*!!/ Yukimi gushes. /Let's go say hi!/
An explosion of colored hearts decorates the sky. Another girl righteously introduces herself as Cheeseburger Propane-chan.
(...Let's not,) Himiko dissents.
Cheeseburger Propane-chan shoots Lux Lapsa a thumbs-up.
Masque Feu looks at Cheeseburger Propane-chan with a frown that could be taken as mildly chiding. How terribly undignified.
The clouds shudder with lightning that forms a wholly unnatural ring -- a dark portal, heralded by the crash of the heavens, directly in front of the massive obsidian spire that is Infinity Institute.
But it is as naught compared to the titantic blast of pure starlight that pours out of the portal itself. One could call it beautiful. One could call it awe-inspiring. One could call it terrifying.
One could call it covering fire.
It crackles and hisses as it blasts through the air, silver and white, blue and gold, the many hues of the grand cosmos wielded in the fists of Nephrite, the Heavenly King of North America. His eyes are wide and manic with glee as the energy passes through him, his body a mere conduit for the primal force of the empyrean expanse.
And then, walking through, making sure a space is cleared around the portal for himself and his allies, he dusts off his gloved hands, the steam still rising from them, and lifts a single, elegant eyebrow at the magical girls assembled on and around the steps leading into the skyscraper.
He chuckles, a darker sound than any uttered by the sky.
"So -- /this/ is the best Infinity has to offer? Hmph."
Sweeping a hand across his chest, he stands ready for the inevitable assault.
"So much for higher learning. Allow us to educate you in the ways of battle."
Somewhere, hours ago, the Dark Five all drew straws when a joint action was called. Pisard got the short one. This is not a new feeling to Pisard. He's not happy about it, but netherless, he goes- because such actions benefit the Dark King when it's time for HIM to call back all these silly, ridicolous favors.
Pisard arrives via the glowing violet portal in the sky following Nephrite's go ahead. He's floating down slowly as he hrmphs. He just raises a hand then shoves it outwards with an outstreched palm. An explosion rakes across the Skyscraper a moment as if he just threw some sort of very fast invisible bomb. (Though that's not the case, the explosion just appeared at it's epicenter suddenly.).
Some windows might smash, but damage is mostly superficial on the outside of the enormous Skyscraper as he still begins his descent down below. He has his orders. He intends to carry them out.
Kyouko transforms immediately, thoughts churning and legs pumping as she races to the Infinity Institute. Normally she gives the place a wide berth, suspicious of its studentsÕ abilities and skittish of her inability to gather meaningful surveillance of what goes on in the halls. But maybe, just maybe, she could squeeze a favor or a reward or two out of the eggheads if it really hits the fan. Perhaps she could wring some bounty with the Tuners out of whateverÕs about to happen. If nothing else, it would be a good chance to scope out some of her rivalsÕ moves.
Really though, she didnÕt need a reason to go. There was blood in the water and a creature of KyoukoÕs nature can only swim towards it.
Climbing and jumping up to the taller buildingÕs rooftops, the crimson Puella Magi moves quickly and without subtlety towards the Infinity monolith.
Landing with a thud at the schoolÕs front, Kyouko clutches a razor-edged spear, her face pale as her limbic system fills with its blood in preparation of a fight. She doesnÕt put her earbudÕs in, yet, and scans around. Unsurprisingly, she wasnÕt the only one to come after the scent.
A blur of black and red is all that announces the arrival of... someone that has not been seen in this world before. Despite her dour expression, her boots and frilly black dress are awfully pretty. Or perhaps even Pretty. A single wing sprouts from her left shouler, folded neatly against her back.
Her left eye is a cool, icy blue... but her right eye is kept closed. "Hm. This shouldn't take very long, at least." Her gaze slowly sweeps across the newly-transformed girls, though she makes no move to attack just yet. For now, she settle for standing there imposingly. "I suppose I will get to see why these so-called heroes have been giving so much trouble."
When Jadeite was given dominion over this land, in the name of the Queen, there was no Tokyo here. The Edo that preceded it did not exist. The word "Nihon" meant nothing to anyone. It's difficult to say that this nation has anything in common with the territory that Jadeite, as Heavenly General of the Far East, was given to defend and control. But as he steps out through the portal alongside his fellow Shitennou, and gazes down at the great tower of Infinity, with mountains on one horizon and a vast metropolis on another, he cannot help but feel a sense of homecoming... and jealousy.
There is a reason that a salesman will place an item in your hand at every opportunity. Once you've held it once, you are reluctant to give it up.
Tall, smirking, with a short wavy mane and two ruby-colored earrings, Jadeite steps up alongside Nephrite, folding his arms as he stares down at the sputtering, ostentatious heart and the assortment of magical girls beneath it. "How vulgar. To think that our great Kingdom of Earth has been reduced to sending children to fight its battles." Dressed in the same military grays as Nephrite, with pleat-backed white gloves and the high boots of a cavalry officer, Jadeite bespeaks the elegant brutality of an earlier martial age.
"If this is the best they have," Jadeite addresses his fellows, including Pisard and Dark Precure, "the most difficult challenge tonight may be in avoiding conquering the entire country in one night. Remember your mission," he admonishes the others.
Once, eons ago, the youngest of the Heavenly Four relied on Nephrite's astrological acumen to assist his own subtler activities, all done in service of the Crown. In those days, the Shitennou worked together as brothers-in-arms, enjoyed a perfect fraternity--
"Youth is not weakness, dear Jadeite," a sweetly insinuating voice chides from the billowing cosmic fog.
Click, click. A third grey-uniformed man saunters forward, feminine in posture yet indelibly military in bearing. He is familiar to some: slim and smirking, hair a wild mane of auburn curls bound at the nape, cruel eyes a poisonous viridian. Wind ruffles that unkempt ponytail, buoying pink petals, and he is gracefully, abruptly airborne -- but just enough to sit in the air, one long leg crossed over the other, as though perched on a throne.
Zoisite, Heavenly King of Europe, tilts his alabaster cheek onto the back of one white-gloved hand and glances over the assorted defenders of justice. "But our little friends have so, so many more vulnerabilities in its place..."
He laughs, softly, and the sound is like thorns against tender skin.
The black boot belonging to the last man out of the portal is magnificently polished, nearly reflective in its glory. The dull gray uniform pant is pressed and crisp. The rest of him is likewise luxuriously described.
Kunzite, highest of the Shitennou, Heavenly General of the Middle East, finally makes landfall on the Earth in his true guise after what feels like an eternity of rebuilding his resources. "This atmosphere is stifling," he mutters to himself, shifting uncomfortably.
He lifts a gloved hand to the collar of his uniform, gently sliding his thumb beneath the buttons at his neck. He lifts firmly up, the top of his uniform falling open, revealing just enough graceful musculature to give a lot of people Serious Problems. "Ahh."
Kunzite lifts his hand, tracing a hand posessively across Zoisite's shoulder as he looks up at the Infinity skyscraper. His face is cold and closed. "Such an ugly edifice. It corrupts the perfect night sky in its arrogance." His long hair and cape(!) begin to rise up on an invisible force. An absence of light coalesces around his hands.
"...it seems they're here."
Princess Runealy takes some comfort in familiar faces around Infinity. Lera, the Perfume Warriors, Suzu, Fuu... Lucy, even Shiori. All good sights for different reasons. Yet when Eri points out the obvious about the situation, Rune isn't deterred. "Yes, everything is 'off.' But we can keep an eye out for each other this way." The inclusive phrasing is intentional; Eri is being seen as an equal here and the need to help one another could go either way. "Do you know anything about Nephrite?"
Sailor Moon's bold challenge to friends and allies draws a blink, since it /is/ kind of weird and embarrassing even once it's explained. "The most 'evil' one among us might be me," that's clearly a relative term now, "and you've already offered a second chance. I..." A slight smile, "I'm glad you're here, Sailor Moon."
Then Nephrite commands everyone's attention with the blast from the portal, and Runealy makes a boosted leap away from it; she took that display very seriously! "They learned enough to help me when I needed it the most, even after I had made so many mistakes," a sharp, shouted retort to his insult, and to Jadeite too. "Underestimate them only if you want to face defeat!" She starts to aim at the dark general...
...and realizes there's someone much closer. Dark Precure is an enigma to Runealy, but her sudden arrival and dark mockery is enough to make the princess quickly reassess the situation. Who's closest to her? Eri of course, and... "Lucy!" Runealy aims at the ground around Dark Precure. "If we spread out, we can keep her between us and push her toward a wall!" Whether Eri and Lucy agree with this plan is another thing entirely, but Rune offers it regardless. Then her wand fires a series of explosive balls of green sparkly energy, though none will directly hit Dark Precure. Instead, these blasts are meant to tear up some of the ground around her; Dark might get caught in the edge of them regardless, but Runealy is really just tearing up grass and pathway to force movement... cover for herself, for Eri and Lucy. Mostly for the other two, though. Runealy is trying to stay back and stay centered with Dark Precure, hoping her friends cover the sides.
COMBAT: Princess Runealy has used Leading Shot on Dark Precure. COMBAT: Princess Runealy has finished attacking.
North America /sucks./
With her jaw set, Seika watches the portal in the sky yawn open - and then comes that blast of starlight. She bounds backwards, flipping in midar to go legs over head. With a flutter of white feathers, Augustine darts away as well, trilling with alarm as he touches down on an outcropping just above Infinity's door. His feathers bristle as he watches the legions of doom come forth.
"Such arrogant creatures," he fusses as he puffs out his chest again, feathers bristling with indignation. "As though my Soeurs were unable to fight. Hmph!"
Masque Feu overhears that, of course. The fact that she is presently the only Soeur occurs to her. She dismisses it. By now she's landed, coming to rest on a knee as she glares up at Nephrite through her mask. "One is rather unimpressed by your claims of educating anyone of anything," she returns, her tone utterly controlled yet profoundly icy. "You claim places you have no right to and you raise your nose imperiously at those you would threaten. No man should be so violent in his indignity. I, Masque Feu, will not stand for it."
She throws Sailor Moon a sudden, sidelong look then, even as she brings her hands together in a close fold. She nods to the blonde girl with simple dignity. Let's do it, the gesture says.
Her eyes narrow as she begins to focus, gathering sacred flame between her palms. Luminous rays bleed through her fingers as she sets her heels apart, gathering her power into a concentrated globe. "Blessed Spark, burn bright," she whispers, her tone fierce, as she shifts the ball of flame to her right hand and swings her arm back, shoulder bunching like a coiled spring.
In her home life, Seika Miuchi is known as the Juuban girls' baseball team's number one pitcher. She loves to throw bat-shattering fastballs and air-scorching pitches in general. Masque Feu is somewhat more deadly about her pitching - and with a sudden dart to one side she hurls the Blessed Spark while on the move. A cometary tail of holy light streams behind the fireball as it arcs towards Nephrite in a brutally fast curveball.
COMBAT: Masque Feu has used Blessed Spark on Nephrite. COMBAT: Masque Feu has finished attacking. COMBAT: Nephrite narrowly counters Masque Feu's Blessed Spark, taking 19 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Nephrite's Tactician ability activates! COMBAT: Nephrite's counterattack, Crystal Blast, partially gets through, doing 18 Fatigue damage to Masque Feu! Critical Counterhit!
While perhaps having her own impassioned defense or challenge might cause Shiori to stand out among the crowd of magical girls better, she simply doesn't /feel/ very bold. As the figures show themselves and make clear just what they think of those assembled, the Tuner finds that she can do little to start but tighten her grip on her weapon.
"If you wanted someone older," she pipes up to Jadeite, "Maybe you shouldn't have gone to a school." Her eyes turn a little to settle on Sailor Moon for a moment, but only for a moment--because after that, the Infinity student seems to make up her mind about something. "...The only vulgar thing here is you acting like you own the place!" Green energy surrounds her hand and bursts forward, transforming into leafy vines in midair, crashing towards Jadeite and his perfect uniform. She slashes it off at the root, just befor her hand, to let the plantlife go--and it moves inward, trying to hold the man in place.
COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki has used Verdant Prison on Jadeite. COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki has finished attacking.
As soon as her head stops spinning, Lucy looks around her to see a rainbow of magical girls bigger than any she's ever seen before, many she's seen in the past, but several new faces as well. Wow! She knows Fuu's secret identity, but could it be that Infinity is home to more magical girls than just the two of them? That would be quite something!
But this is no mere monster attack. The powers of darkness have come out in full force. One of them, the man with the very long white hair, she's seen before. The four others, who seem to be part of a set, are new, and then there's the other one... a dark, one-winged girl who seems like a twisted parody of everything Lucy and her fellow magical girls stand for.
"Darkness will never prevail! Not when I'm here to defend my new home!" Lucy hasn't quite mastered the art of making defiant opening speeches yet, so that's about as good as it gets, until Runealy calls her and Eri out. "...Right!" The three of them should make a good team, she figures, especially since she's been training with the two of them... or planning to, in Rune's case. The last session got a bit derailed.
And with the help of the Princess' cover fire, the Maiden charges towards the one-winged girl, aiming to clobber her from the side while Eri will attack from the other. How will this new foe react to their coordinated assault?
COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy has used Bamm Bamm Bamm on Dark Precure. COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy has finished attacking.
"No, but he has a name like Erythrite and Zoisite. And they're all named after minerals. I imagine they're from the Dark Kingdom as well." Taking in her surroundings as each of the handsome Heavenly Kings appears, she finds herself blushing. Trying to turn away from such thoughts as they condescended each of them. She knew their arrogance was well warranted by how thoroughly Zoisite had humiliated her last time, but eventually she tears her gaze away from him, to the more immediate opponent, who offers her own sort of challenge by indicating they likely won't be one. Eri listens to Rune's plan, just agreeing with a faint nod of the head.
"I'll try not to disappoint." Eri Shimanouchi speaks in a tremulous manner to their opponent, her malachite eyes glinting behind the domino mask as she met the icy blur stare. Advancing forward on the sublime one-winged beauty, shrouded in darkness, she was very much reminded of the stories of fallen angels. And part of her trembled at the thought. The Akuma they'd faced in Waldia had been strong enough to put her on edge, to set her hands to trembling and quivering from fear at the sight of her. Her scourge lashing the air, as if sensing it's mistress' anxiety. And this was just one of the individuals arrayed against them. One heeled footstep in front of another. She reminded herself what was at stake. Infinity Institute was close enough to her home.. if she failed...
"I can't." The Puella Magi murmured to herself, closing her eyes. There was no room for self doubt. It was just like in the arcade. Focus all she had upon defeating her opponent, quiet the buzzing within your thoughts. When she opened them again, the angel of darkness no longer seemed so intimidating. Dangerous certainly, but she wasn't afraid. The tendrils of her scourge stopped lashing anxiously, her hands steadied. Legs pumping, she took a short leap, then began by springing into the air, the seperate vine tendrils of the scourge surging forward as she snapped her arm out, each one filling the air with sinewy thorned lengths moving of their own accord.
And then the lengths of each tendril budded and bloomed, filling the air with a myriad of floral scents. Petals of different colors billowed and floated around in streams, the velocity of the attack causing them to fall off and flutter within the air, as each tendril continued towards the Dark PreCure. It attempted to converge upon her, an explosion of floral petals greeting the space where she inhabited as each of the tendrils struck one another in that space.
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has used Hana no Rasshu! on Dark Precure. COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has finished attacking. COMBAT: Dark Precure narrowly braces Princess Runealy's Leading Shot, taking 2 Fatigue damage! Princess Runealy is Psyched! COMBAT: Dark Precure narrowly dodges Mesozoic Maiden Lucy's Bamm Bamm Bamm, taking 2 Fatigue damage! Mesozoic Maiden Lucy is Psyched! COMBAT: Jadeite narrowly counters Shiori Takatsuki's Verdant Prison, taking 8 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Tangle applied to Jadeite! COMBAT: Jadeite's counterattack, Blasted Senshi, partially gets through, doing 12 Fatigue damage to Shiori Takatsuki! Critical Counterhit! COMBAT: Dark Precure narrowly counters Eri Shimanouchi's Hana no Rasshu!, taking 5 Fatigue damage! Eri Shimanouchi is Psyched! Dark Precure's Reverse ability activates! Dark Precure's Tactician ability activates! COMBAT: Dark Precure's counterattack, Dark Energy Blast, partially gets through, doing 14 Fatigue damage to Eri Shimanouchi!
Fiends step out from an unnatural portal, in the dark sky. They speak of their mission, of conquering the world, and yet...
... one touches another, a familiar gesture, and Princess Tutu knows that they are surely just misguided. "How terrible," she murmurs, from her high position on one single, flowering vine; there is no malice in her voice.
Hers is not the only power which expresses through flowers; below, she sees the petals which spiral towards one of the -- attackers. It's interesting, but it's not at the forefront of her mind.
Her legs extend almost horizontal as she leaps, and a beautiful fern sprouts from the ground to cushion her landing, near the one called 'Jadeite' (not that she knows that). "Please," she speaks, reaching out to him with a hand, "why do you march on us? What could possibly have happened to make you dress for war...?" Kindness in her eyes, kindness in her voice. Doesn't she know this is the battle for everyone's souls?
COMBAT: Duck has used Acknowledge Your True Feelings! on Jadeite. COMBAT: Duck has finished attacking.
Shiori shoots hella vines at Jadeite... and, as she does, Diva Heart goes charging past her, hands free (who knows where that belt and microphone went) and arms pumping. "I've got this one!!" she assures Shiori as she passes her. "Just leave her to me!"
She looks back to Jadeite, and, a few steps later, glances back at Shiori and calls to correct herself, "I mean him!!"
Facts checked and corrected, the Diva springs into the air as she draws up to Jadeite, tilting back and curling her legs up underneath her, and then pistons them into the entangled Heavenly King's chest, dropping heavily to the ground on her back.
Dropkicks are Diva Heart's version of feelings, you /duck./
COMBAT: Diva Heart has used Dropkick on Jadeite. COMBAT: Diva Heart has finished attacking. COMBAT: Jadeite narrowly dodges Duck's Acknowledge Your True Feelings!, taking 8 Fatigue damage! Jadeite is Quipped! Jadeite's Fade ability activates! Jadeite's Flash ability activates!
Infinity Institute itself seems to be standing up against the battle that has come to its doorstep; the occasional stray blast that heads towards the shining edifice seems to splash against a very tangible, if normally invisible, barrier. It sparkles like rainbows when it is struck, colors rippling in all directions from the point of impact. It's an open question whether this is simply the will of the magical girls defending the place, manifest as a very real shield, or if this is something else entirely. It isn't totally impermeable, but it's definitely an impressive ward, one way or another.
COMBAT: Jadeite fails to counter Diva Heart's Dropkick, taking 17 Fatigue damage! COMBAT: Jadeite's counterattack, Grand Melee, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Diva Heart!
Sailor Moon manages a laugh because, yes, this is a little silly. Even with the sky unnaturally black and the wind arctic cold. Ha ha, oh Runealy, it sure was funny when you were evil! Good times. She rubs the back of her neck and focuses her thoughts on not blushing any further.
Miracles happen every day. Usagi's blush disappears as she pales considerably, the lightning strike draining not only the red from her cheeks but the emotion from her face. She takes a step backward without realizing it, though if she had time to think about her actions she'd totally agree with her reflexive decision to get away.
This isn't usual. Even with all these people around her, Usagi feels terrified. She briefly searches for some word to mean nostalgia, but not about something happy. It falls by the wayside as she finds it more necessary to obsessively focus on her breathing.
Maybe nostalgia isn't inherently happy.
"They're just like the man who hurt Madoka," the soldier says suddenly, and for her own benefit. "Just like--Erythrite!"
Ah. The names make sense. Her heart doesn't pound so loudly, and Usagi becomes aware that things are happening around her. Some cool older girl in a mask is looking at her. Wait, is that a nod of impending sisterhood team up? It can only be that!
There's so many of them here--and so many of them, too! That means they're not tough individually, right? There's no way they'd do a boss rush without introducing everyone individually first! Sailor Moon steadies herself, finding more friendly faces in the crowd than she thought: Lucy and Runealy, of course, but also Shiori. Proven party members!
She spins on her boot, striking a pose and jabbing a finger at Nephrite. "The Infinity Institute takes great pride in being the best Tokyo has to offer, but they're also a sister school that cooperates with adorable Juuban and elegant Ohtori! I won't forgive anyone who disrespects the inspiring diversity of magical girl backgrounds by assuming we're all from stylish Infinity! I'm the pretty sailor-suited soldier of love and justice, Sailor Moon! And, in the name of the moon, I will punish you!"
COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used In The Name Of The Moon on Nephrite. COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking. COMBAT: Nephrite narrowly braces Sailor Moon's In The Name Of The Moon, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Nephrite is Taunted! Cripple applied to Nephrite!
Kyouko had stopped listening to the blustery blather moments after it had begun, choosing instead to stretch her limbs and crack out the cricks from her neck, back, and fingers. Slipping a pair of earbuds in and flipping through her playlist, she settles on 'Seven Minutes' by the Seatbelts.
As the music starts to pulsate and roar in her ears, she begins to lightly hop her weight on the balls of her feet, growing cagey and impatient with all of this talk. She doesnÕt look to see if the invading dandies had finished dithering yet, instead opting to point her spear at Nephrite, yelling loudly over the music.
"Hey! You! Skyface! You're the guy, right? I'm sick of your blah blah blah, so I'm gonna bite your voice box out and spit it back at you, ok?"
Squaring her stance and digging her heels into the ground, Kyouko skillfully twirls her spear before seemingly snapping it over her knee. When her arms raise, each half of the spear is connected with a chain and has its own head. A dozen crimson-shafted lances and javelins materialize around Kyouko in an orbit, each pointing their gleaming tips towards Nephrite. In no more than a second and a half, each rockets forth, aiming to stick him full of needles.
COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has used Pincushion on Nephrite. COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has finished attacking. COMBAT: Nephrite narrowly dodges Kyouko Sakura's Pincushion, taking 7 Fatigue damage! Nephrite is Quipped! Cripple, Exhausted, and Stagger applied to Nephrite!
The slightest hint of some unknowable emotion appears in Nephrite's eyes, when Masque Feu chastises him so. Perhaps it's just the glitter of the holy Blessed Spark, reflecting in those twin emeralds. They seem almost... thoughtful?
Then they narrow, glazing over with the stony coldness of a true General of the Dark Kingdom, and from his side the Heavenly King brings up his weapon. It is not a sword, nor a wand, much less some sort of firearm.
It is a crystal; pure black, blacker even than the corrupted evening sky above. The energy that it shimmers with is not absence, as Kunzite's is; nor the presence of something like fiery petals, as Zoisite suffuses himself with. It is certainly nothing as physical as Jadeite's blasts.
Hovering over his palm like a glove, he fields the incoming curveball like an expert catcher, straight into the crystal. This does not come without effort, and he flexes his hand afterwards, shaking off the feeling of having touched something holy, something pure. Something beautiful. Then the crystal blasts that energy straight back at Masque Feu, through a mirror darkly... and then a second time, just for good measure.
"Wrong, my dear," he murmurs. "What /do/ they teach children about history these days?"
Sailor Moon answers his question with some serious speechifying.
He considers this with his chin in his other white-gloved palm. It actually seems to get to him on some level; after all, he manages to acknowledge her words: "...My mistake."
Even so, that crystal is beginning to gather its darkness more tightly around itself. He tosses it from hand to hand, back and forth -- hot potato? No. He has heard of this one, this Sailor Moon. There are standing orders on how to deal with her. And apparently that means 'with extreme prejudice'.
"It matters not where you're from... Sailor Moon. Only where you're going... down to Hell!"
He lashes out with the crystal, and where it passes through the air, chains of purest darkness erupt -- they come from the ground as well, to bind the senshi, to leech her strength.
Unfortunately, while he's concentrating on that, a Puella Magi comes right up in his face and fills him with holes, or tries to. He nearly stumbles over himself in midair falling back against Kyouko's intense assault, and looks quite flustered, afterwards. There's even an auburn hair out of place, dangling right between his eyes.
He stares at it, then blows, which tosses the curl up, up, and away, back where it belongs. With this huff comes another puff of energy; this time, a sword manifests from his hand, with that dark crystal as its hilt, and he strikes out once, twice, thrice. Still, melee doesn't seem to be his forte. The designated Mage of the Heavenly Kings would be happier in the back row.
"The stars are aligned, young warrior, and not in your favor." Indeed, this blade seems to be composed of three of them. "I think I will be listening to them, and speaking their wisdom, for some time to come."
COMBAT: Nephrite has used Crystal Blast on Masque Feu. COMBAT: Nephrite has used The Chains of Andromeda on Sailor Moon. COMBAT: Nephrite has used The Blade of Orion on Kyouko Sakura. COMBAT: Nephrite has finished attacking. COMBAT: Masque Feu narrowly dodges Nephrite's Crystal Blast, taking 27 Fatigue damage! Masque Feu's Flash ability activates!
Jadeite grins at Zoisite's comment without looking at him, continuing to gaze at his foes. "Careful, little brother," he says, despite the barbs Zoisite layered on afterwards. "They might begin to think you actually like them, given how you've been acting." A veiled reference to Zoisite's recent curricular habits.
Breaking away from the group, Jadeite lands lightly in front of Starbooks Coffee, one knee to the ground, one forearm over the opposite knee. As he rises, he laughs at Shiori. "Perhaps I did attack a hatchery," he allows, as vines approach him at breakneck speed. "But I did not expect the EGGS to defend it!" Jadeite throws a palm out, and a black ripple like a visible soundwave erupts from it, shattering through the vines and going straight on through to Shiori, an invisible fist of pure force. The central part of the vines disperse, but the attack was broader than his own, and several others lash about Jadeite's biceps and ankles, forcing him to tear at them with his gloved hands.
"And here's the tiniest white egg," he observes, watching Princess Tutu approach daintily, elegantly. But she does not attack, only reach out, speak. "I never make a point to dress for war," he sneers back. "I am Jadeite, Heavenly General of the Far East, and I am always ready to make war on Earth's enemies." He readies his telekinetic blast again, aiming it at her, but instead he falters a moment at the sincerity in her eyes. "Defend yourself," he demands, the power in his hand increasing.
Only for a knee, sailing down from championship heaven, to put to rest any more complex thoughts. Jadeite whirls to fire off his blast at Diva Heart instead, right up into her charge, but she knees directly through it without so much as a scratch and slams into his chest, driving him up against the rainbow shield, which fizzes and pops against his back. "You think you are a warrior?" he grates, grabbing for her neck before she can disengage. "I will show you war." Rising to his feet (with Diva's neck in his hand if he's managed it), he lifts his other hand palm up and draws the fingers in slowly. A telekinetic field springs up around Shiori, crushing her inward from all directions. The gentlest girl he leaves alone... for now.
COMBAT: Jadeite has used Sublime Arrogance on Diva Heart. COMBAT: Jadeite has used A High School Crush on Shiori Takatsuki. COMBAT: Jadeite has used Can't Live With Him on Jadeite. COMBAT: Jadeite has used Can't Live With Him on Nephrite. COMBAT: Jadeite has used Can't Live With Him on Dark Precure. COMBAT: Jadeite has finished attacking.
"Hm. Impatient." There's the faintest hint of a frown that crosses Dark's face as three of the assembled Magial Girls begin a coordinated attack against her. Although her right eye remains closed, she seems completely aware of the three-pronged assault.
As Runealy's blasts fly toward her, Dark Precure stands firm. Her wing spreads out, then folds in front of her, taking the brunt of the explosions that land nearby. The wing flares out again, and she launches straight up into the air, just narrowly avoiding the swinging club from the Mesozoic Maiden. Pausing just briefly in the air, she extends one hand out, and a trio of balls of dark energy, crackling with red and purple, fly out to intercept the tendrils. Several of the exploding petals make it through, but one more blast follows from the Desert Apostle, flying down toward Eri.
Black boots touch down again on the ground, and her hand extends out toward the Mesozoic MAiden, firing a single blast of that same dark energy. "Do not think your toys will be enough to stop us here today."
Her wing spreads again, and a warm, dry wind begins to blow toward Runealy.... but it's no ordinary wind. It seems to cut to the very soul, sapping away the will to continue fighting on.
And then she turns her head, fixing her one open eye on Eri. The glare is intense, but it's more than just the look. A sense of crushing despair accompanies it, as Dark Precure searches for the doubts in Eri's heart, the hidden grudges and the bitterness she tries to never let show.
"Dark Pretty Cure," escapes her lips as she finally looks away from Eri. "You will not be able to stop us here."
COMBAT: Dark Precure has used Dark Energy Bolt on Mesozoic Maiden Lucy. COMBAT: Dark Precure has used Dark Desert Wind on Princess Runealy. COMBAT: Dark Precure has used Heart Flower Wilt on Eri Shimanouchi. COMBAT: Dark Precure has finished attacking.
Masque Feu is not as good at speeches as Sailor Moon. That is supposed to be Masque Croix's job. Sadly Masque Croix is still floating in the ether as far as Seika knows.
And then she's blasted withthat energy before she can actually react. The first burst of it hurls her bodily backwards; she lets out a gasp as she rolls her shoulder into it, suffering mostly a burned, aching shoulder for her effort. The second one she attempts to jump out of the way of.
It doesn't do her a hell of a lot of good; she gets pegged out of the air, somewhat uncleanly, but a hit's a hit in this case and she's sent sailing gracelessly through the air. She comes down in the most undignified manner possible, landing on her shoulder and smacking the side of her head off the pavement before bouncing again and coming down on her back.
She doesn't get up; for a moment all she sees is stars and all she feels is ow. Nephrite could probably move in easily and kill her right now.
Except for the sudden white blur zipping through the air towards Nephrite.
"Scoundrel!" Augustine chirps acidly as he goes shooting in towards Beryl's general, wings beating as he carries his wee turtledove self in with a maneuver he rarely does - but he's got a Soeur to protect. With a high, angry trill he proceeds to try and scratch Nephrite's face up with his little claws and beat on him with his little wings to try and buy Seika a precious moment to recover and not die.
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi fails to counter Dark Precure's Heart Flower Wilt, taking 15 Fatigue damage! Eri Shimanouchi is Quipped! Eri Shimanouchi is Taunted! COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi's counterattack, Pollen Scattering Dance, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Dark Precure! COMBAT: Masque Feu has used Augustine Assist on Nephrite. COMBAT: Masque Feu has finished attacking. COMBAT: Jadeite accepts Jadeite's Can't Live With Him, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Cleanse! All of Jadeite's debuffs are cleared! COMBAT: Diva Heart fails to brace Jadeite's Sublime Arrogance, taking 20 Fatigue damage! Diva Heart is Quipped! Stun applied to Diva Heart! COMBAT: Sailor Moon narrowly dodges Nephrite's The Chains of Andromeda, taking 16 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Sailor Moon's Flash ability activates! Stagger, Stun, Tangle, and Trap applied to Sailor Moon! COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki narrowly braces Jadeite's A High School Crush, taking 16 Fatigue damage! Shiori Takatsuki's Block ability activates! Shiori Takatsuki's Parry ability activates! COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy fails to dodge Dark Precure's Dark Energy Bolt, taking 15 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! COMBAT: Princess Runealy narrowly counters Dark Precure's Dark Desert Wind, taking 6 Fatigue damage! Princess Runealy is Quipped! Princess Runealy's Tactician ability activates! COMBAT: Princess Runealy's counterattack, Aegis Burst, partially gets through, doing 14 Fatigue damage to Dark Precure! Critical Counterhit! COMBAT: Nephrite accepts Jadeite's Can't Live With Him, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Cleanse! All of Nephrite's debuffs are cleared! COMBAT: Nephrite narrowly braces Masque Feu's Augustine Assist, taking 5 Fatigue damage! Masque Feu is Psyched! COMBAT: Dark Precure accepts Jadeite's Can't Live With Him, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Cleanse! All of Dark Precure's debuffs are cleared!
Duck's movements, graceful and peaceful, are... confusing, to say the least. She's speaking so gently towards the scary man, so sadly, and Shiori can only narrow her eyes to see and wait for the inevitable counterattack from her having left herself so open.
...Which is why something more familiar is appreciated. "...Leave him to you, huh?" she asks Diva Heart in return, and laughs a little with growing bravado. "Nope! I'm not letting you take the credit here--the Tuners don't roll over like that!" ...But her cool words segue to something else as she hears the talk about the battlefield, and can only offer, "Sailor Moon! ...Don't die!"
She takes her own advice, then, as Jadeite's power rushes through her own. Unprepared for the sheer force of the General's counterattack, she stumbles backwards, the advantage of ensnaring him lost. "E-eggs!? That's not--"
...Maybe she should let Diva Heart handle him after all.
A field of sheer crushing energy then moves, however, her arms first crushed inward and then the rest of her forced to crumple downward in turn. Breathng, for a few moments, is itself difficult. Her purple hair flutters in the pressure, until she manges one motion--to lift her blade and pierce through the field, just enough to get back to her feet and conjure up something of her own.
"J-just leave our school alone!" With both hands, she throws, and in the light of the school's rainbow barrier the petals of a rose can be seen to fall off her projectile--a flower, with a razor-pointed stem directed at Jadeite. Regardless of whether it hits, it bursts into beautiful colors--and an outward pressure instead of crushing.
Eri would say Hello to Kyouko, but she had a feeling that Kyouko would only chide her for not paying attention to the battle. It was her advice after all to focus her all on defeating her foe.
During her landing, the energy blast scours the length of one of her whip's tendrils, leaving one tendril limp, useless, as the rest converge to try and stop the blast that comes. It's only partially successful, and Eri is nearly brought low by the sheer force of the wave driving against her hands. "Tck."
But that's not the real attack. With the Dark PreCure's gaze comes a sense of overwhelming despair, all of her self doubts bubbling back to the surface as her heart flower has some of its petals wilt under the onslaught. Now on the ground, she tries to ward off those doubts by revolving around around, turning her scourge so all the lengths flowed around her in concentric circles, with Eri at their center, weaving a dance of petals and thorns, as she pirouettes on her toes. As she does this, more flowers appear along the ground, both around the angel and around her, budding and blooming to life in instants the movements of her whip causing more petals to fly. One leg is brought up, the toe pointing at her knee. The scourge continuing to turn as a ribbon wand might for a rhythmic gymnast.
At the end of it, there's a literal field of flowers covering the length of the battlefield between the Puella Magi and the Dark PreCure. "Dark PreCure..." The blooming flowers all release a cloud of pollen, driven away from the dancing Puella Magi due to the arcing movements of her scourge, forming a roiling haze of granules, each containing a small amount of tranquilizing poison. "....I'm growing very tired of people who tell me what I'm unable to do. So let me show you instead, what I /can/ do." As she pollinates the air, permeating it with the choking cloud, she placing a hand across her chest, and bowing to her. "...I can defend this place with all that I am."
COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki has used Cruel Innocence on Jadeite. COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki has finished attacking. COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has used Pollen Scattering Dance on Dark Precure. COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has finished attacking.
"Earth's enemies?" Princess Tutu's voice is concerned, sincere. She isn't in Gold Crown Town, and so her translated honorifics are entirely Japanese as she gestures to the young women who have gathered here. "But Jadeite-san, all these people have come here to try and protect their home. We are all part of the Earth, too!" Her voice is so tragically sincere.
She does not move to attack -- only leaps out of the way of an errant energy-blast, twirling in the air before she lands with her hands delicately held at her waist.
"We're not your enemies," she calls out to him, "we're just afraid. If you fight against the enemies of the Earth -- do you know something we don't? Is there something important you have to defend us against? I want to understand!"
COMBAT: Duck has used Please Talk With Me! on Jadeite. COMBAT: Duck has finished attacking. COMBAT: Jadeite perfectly dodges Shiori Takatsuki's Cruel Innocence, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Dodge! Jadeite's Fade ability activates! Jadeite's Flash ability activates! COMBAT: Jadeite narrowly braces Duck's Please Talk With Me!, taking 2 Fatigue damage! Jadeite is Quipped!
Diva Heart is springing back to her feet after her dropkick when Jadeite's hand closes around her neck; her eyes widen in surpise, and she reaches up to clutch at the Heavenly King's wrist, grimacing in pain, her face flushing red from lack of oxygen and a smidge of panic.
She tugs at the wrist for a few seconds... and then pulls her right hand back, palm open, and slaps him right in the mouth.
Hopefully, the impact - combined with Shiori's explosive flower, and presumably the love and purity in a duck's heart - is enough to get her free, so she can stagger away and slump backward against a shimmering rainbow wrestling ring corner that appears out of nowhere, one hand clutching an equally shimmery rainbow ring roep to hold herself up.
COMBAT: Diva Heart has used Slap on Jadeite. COMBAT: Diva Heart has finished attacking. COMBAT: Jadeite perfectly braces Diva Heart's Slap, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Brace!
Princess Runealy was given something important to consider just before the battle, thanks to Eri. "An entire /kingdom/ of evil?" That's a heavy concept to think about, but one there's no more time for now. Not when a rainbow forcefield ripples from the occasional blast sent at Infinity. "To think I used to steal energy to protect the Barrier," a strategy that had been almost disastrous, "and now I'm fighting those who take energy to attack another one." The similarities strike Runealy as rather sobering.
Yet between blasts and vines, the ground in the immediate area seems to be well dealt with. She can feel the 'pain' in that wind even as it approaches, and puts up a red barrier around herself. The physical aspects of it only barely get through, some of it whipping around her magic-shield and cutting into her with intense heat... but the emotional impact is much more keen, starting to drag the princess down to a dark place that her heart has spent so much time in over the last month. It cuts, prods, digs at her mind...
"Burst!" The barrier detonates, driving away the wind and converging into a thin beam she launches back at Dark Precure! "So you're with the Dark Kingdom?" Rune isn't /quite/ grasping the full truth of her opponent's situation. "What's making you do this? Infinity isn't hurting anyone. What possible reason could you have?" She's concerned and curious, but firm. "I need to know, otherwise I'll show you that what she wished for," A nod to Eri, "what she strives for," a nod to Lucy, "And what I've been given from my mother, are not toys!" As Eri unleashes a pollen cloud, Runealy keeps her distance from the rolling field of flowers. Wand swept to track Dark Precure's descent, she launches another emerald magic-sphere into the air... and this one explodes in mid-air, turning into a shower of tiny sparkles that sails toward a foe that has proven so effective in targeting their heart so far.
COMBAT: Princess Runealy has used Scatter Orb on Dark Precure. COMBAT: Princess Runealy has finished attacking. COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura narrowly braces Nephrite's The Blade of Orion, taking 4 Fatigue damage! Kyouko Sakura's Block ability activates! Kyouko Sakura's Parry ability activates! Diversion applied to Kyouko Sakura!
From the corner of her eye, Lucy notices the barrier rippling around her school and home away from home. Is this the work of the Magic Association? Or the result of gathering so many magical girls like this? Either way, she sincerely hopes it will hold...
The one who introduced herself as Dark Pretty Cure (who, Lucy thinks, might somehow be related to Cures Black and White?) effortlessly flies out of the way of her club despite only having one wing. To be fair, that's one wing more than the rest of her group's members, and they seem to float around just fine, but still. Despite her quick movements, she takes herself a dark blast square in the chest, sending her flying back and briefly sprawling on the ground.
As she gets up, she sees there's a lot going on, allies learning in their own way that enemies are no joke-- She catches a glimpse of Sailor Moon getting snagged in some dark chains, but she's too far to help, and too busy having to focus on the Dark Precure.
But something's wrong. Lucy doesn't know a single thing about heart flowers and such, but something about the way Eri is reacting strikes her as terribly wrong. She should take advantage of the opening created, but before that, she remains at her friend's side. "You will, I know you can, but we're with you." She sets a hand on her shoulder. "You've helped me finally call this place home, and I thank you for helping me defend it as well. Now let's show her the power of the bonds that unite us!" And with one last smile to Eri, she dashes forward, returning on the offense.
COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy has used Impromptu Pep Talk on Eri Shimanouchi. COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy has finished attacking. COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi accepts Mesozoic Maiden Lucy's Impromptu Pep Talk, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Eri Shimanouchi is Cheered!
The ward around Infinity Institute continues to hold, but it does provide a most dazzling display, its rainbows sparkling up and down the fifty-two-story length with increasing regularity as the battle rages on. There is a clear sense of building power (if you'll pardon the pun), perhaps simply the land itself absorbing the remnants of every bolt of darkness, every beam of light, every word of power or word of empowerment. It provides a heady feeling, like one's ears after climbing a mountain then descending once again -- in desperate need of a good pop.
Kyouko took a fair degree of satisfaction in knocking prettyboy out of his rhythm, but that thought flew out of her head as soon as it flew in. Rabidly focused on the fight, she knocks away his swordstrikes once, twice, thrice. Although she absorbed the impact of each collision, a grizzly bear this guy ain't, and she's hardly fatigued by the effort.
He said something to her, but she can't hear him, and she wouldn't care if he could. He's not awful with a sword, but he's definitely not good. Backing the rat into a corner seems like a good strategy, and a frontal assault isn't exactly outside of Kyouko's wheelhouse.
Her eyes blaze red, calm with focus in the narrowed pupils, but crackling with frenzied energy in her irises. Opening her mouth, she bellows out a full-throated snarling scream in the man's face, pressing closer and closer, each chain-linked spear-half slicing through the air to kiss his body wherever her hands can find him, stabbing at a furious tempo.
COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has used Bloodcraze on Nephrite. COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has finished attacking.
Sailor Moon's eyes fixate on Nephrite's crystal. It may as well be a viper.
Gems have become a large part of her life in these past months. Finding them, protecting them, examining them--if there's one gem that's so powerful it's worth dying to protect, why can't there be more?
And this one is dark. Not like the night sky. The night sky is special. It's a cloak that lets Usagi do whatever she want, with no school or parents or society to tell her otherwise. Nephrite's crystal is dark like a nightmare.
The viper strikes. Sailor Moon leaps away, fast, faster than Usagi could ever imagine running. She dodges the chains, but only the ones she can see. Like a nightmare, she can see the others just in her peripheral vision before they strike. Just as it's too late to move.
The sailor-suited soldier is dragged back down to the ground, struggling under the cruel chains, her shoulders slumping and back buckling. It's not even a question of escape. Though her bindings toy with her, giving her slack here and there to move, they are fast affixed.
It's suffocating. They're not just around her wrists and ankles, they're in her chest. Her heart can't beat. Her lungs can't breath. A sickness spreads from her stomach. She doesn't want to be here. That's all she can think: not here, not here, anywhere but here.
Usagi gulps for air, but no matter how breathless she feels, she's too nauseated to keep it down. She genuinely shrieks, nothing like the half-willing screaming that happens every other youma battle. It's an honest terror that only grows louder as her gemstones set into her hair begin to reverberate at piercing levels.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Supersonic Screaming on Jadeite. COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Supersonic Screaming on Nephrite. COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Supersonic Screaming on Dark Precure. COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking.
Jadeite holds Diva Heart at arm's length, fingers digging into her throat, and uses the respite to address Princess Tutu, who seems to have gotten under his skin enough to get him talking. "You wish to understand? So be it! We Four Generals are the rulers of this planet. I am the ruler of this nation of Japan, and much else besides. Your powers, your government, your way of life are all nothing but an impediment to the restoration of the greatest kingdom the universe has ever known. You languish like pigs in your own filth. I will rescue you if I have to kill you all."
Diva Heart's palm swings down, and he turns just in time to face it, making no effort to defend himself. His cheekbones feel like stone, and his face doesn't even tilt under the blow. Even as it cracks into his cheek he keeps eye contact with Diva Heart, grinning fearsomely. "Scorn," he says with slow relish. "Scorn is the only appropriate response to your so-called power."
Shiori's rose sails down, and Jadeite's eyes narrow rapidly as he pulls his arm back rapidly and simply hurls Diva Heart directly at it, letting her deal with the explosion from her apparent ally however she may, the sparkles raining down harmlessly around him. "Whoever told you you were capable of combat?" he challenges Shiori. "You aren't even worth draining." Raising his palm again, he fires a brief, powerful telekinetic blast at Shiori, seeking to drive her away to buy himself some time.
"You, on the other hand," he says, his voice dropping into a deep, cruel register as he turns to Princess Tutu. "Your heart is overflowing, isn't it?" Lifting a palm again, Jadeite this time summons a small, swirling ball of mother-of-pearl darkness, which begins to draw in tendrils of energy from the surrounding area, seeking to drain the ballet-clad girl. "It will make a precious gift for the Queen."
COMBAT: Jadeite fails to brace Sailor Moon's Supersonic Screaming, taking 22 Fatigue damage! COMBAT: Jadeite has used Cruel Innocence on Diva Heart. COMBAT: Jadeite has used Blasted Senshi on Shiori Takatsuki. COMBAT: Jadeite has used Plan A on Duck. COMBAT: Jadeite has finished attacking. COMBAT: Dark Precure narrowly dodges Sailor Moon's Supersonic Screaming, taking 16 Fatigue damage! Exhausted applied to Dark Precure! COMBAT: Dark Precure narrowly braces Princess Runealy's Scatter Orb, taking 6 Fatigue damage! COMBAT: Nephrite narrowly dodges Sailor Moon's Supersonic Screaming, taking 14 Fatigue damage! Exhausted applied to Nephrite! COMBAT: Nephrite fails to brace Kyouko Sakura's Bloodcraze, taking 20 Fatigue damage! Nephrite is Quipped! Stun applied to Nephrite! COMBAT: Dark Precure narrowly counters Eri Shimanouchi's Pollen Scattering Dance, taking 7 Fatigue damage! Dark Precure's Reverse ability activates! Dark Precure's Tactician ability activates! Exhausted and Tangle applied to Dark Precure! COMBAT: Dark Precure's counterattack, Crimson Shield, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Eri Shimanouchi! COMBAT: Diva Heart fails to brace Jadeite's Cruel Innocence, taking 27 Fatigue damage! COMBAT: Duck fails to dodge Jadeite's Plan A, taking 11 Mana damage! Critical Hit! Jadeite drains 8 mana from Duck! COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki narrowly braces Jadeite's Blasted Senshi, taking 10 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Jadeite is Psyched! Shiori Takatsuki's Block ability activates! Shiori Takatsuki's Parry ability activates!
There's something in the way he moves; something in the way he quips; Jadeite's little burn on Zoisite brings that insufferably smug grin back to Nephrite's lips, like drawing back a veil to see the asshole underneath. "You see," he remarks to Masque Feu, and anyone else in need of a history lesson, "We are the Four Heavenly Kings of Earth. This land is ours by divine right, and right of blood and conquest, as we--"
DOVE TO THE FACE!
He takes it impassively, but the way that the little bird beats against his well-chiseled cheekbones with wings and talons alike, so bravely standing up to such a mighty force, might well be heartening to his ward. Apparently Augustine remains literally beneath his notice, though -- Nephrite merely glides forward, finishing his sentence. "As well."
Snapping his fingers, a crown of light briefly manifests with shining diadems above himself, Jadeite, and Dark Precure. It shimmers out of existence, but its effects remain; a surge of borrowed energy, sieved patiently from the evening sky.
"Now then, where were we..." His soft, velvety baritone does have a pedant's whine, when he gets into this mood. He's like the worst teacher at the end of a summer's day, when the minute-hand ticks once an hour. "...ah, yes:"
The next few words that pass Nephrite's lips, probably very helpful and educational, are /wholly drowned out/.
He frowns thunderously, his ears ringing like the very devil.
"Enough with that incessant caterwauling," he snaps out, sending another blast of energy, this one appallingly, offensively brilliant, blinding, and also contemptuous, in Sailor Moon's direction.
And Kyouko Sakura slams into him, rending and tearing at his frame. That uniform of his is supernaturally tough, not unlike the armor of the Puella Magi itself, but he's still driven back, the tassels on one epaulette shaved off, a nick opened on his chin bleeding a single drop of very red, very human blood.
He opens his palm, and the crystal flares.
The flames that pour towards her are both like and unlike those that burn in the fiery girl's heart. They are sickly, fel green, rather than a radiant red or the blue of purest intention. Tainted by dark powers beyond any ken. They smell not of brimstone but of scorched earth, of those things lost, of sadness.
They also smell a little bit of desperation.
He mustn't look this bad in front of /Jadeite/, of all people. "Brother," he calls across the battlefield, "Is now /really/ the time to be gathering presents for our Queen? Wipe your nose. It's a little bit brown."
COMBAT: Nephrite has used Crystalline Incandescence on Sailor Moon. COMBAT: Nephrite has used The Flames of Draco on Kyouko Sakura. COMBAT: Nephrite has used The Crown of Cassiopeia on Jadeite. COMBAT: Nephrite has used The Crown of Cassiopeia on Nephrite. COMBAT: Nephrite has used The Crown of Cassiopeia on Dark Precure. COMBAT: Nephrite has finished attacking. COMBAT: Nephrite accepts Nephrite's The Crown of Cassiopeia, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Empower applied to Nephrite! COMBAT: Jadeite accepts Nephrite's The Crown of Cassiopeia, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Empower applied to Jadeite! COMBAT: Sailor Moon narrowly braces Nephrite's Crystalline Incandescence, taking 6 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Sailor Moon's Parry ability activates! Blind and Cripple applied to Sailor Moon! COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura perfectly dodges Nephrite's The Flames of Draco, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Dodge!
A sweep of the arm meets the pollen, crimson energy just vaporizing most of it. Some, however, settles upon Dark Precure and is absorbed into her skin. "...hnn." She shoots Eri a glare with her one open eye... but then quickly steps back, one arm coming up to strike at the incoming orbs of energy from Runealy. One, two, three are swatted away, though the process is not effortless... especially not when whatever those poisonous spores are seem to be getting to her already.
And then, even worse, that piercing shriek fills the air, rattling her to her very bones. "What--?" Her single blue eye focuses on Sailor Moon, and a faint frown forms. "I see." Nephrite, however, seems to have her in hand, and Dark Precure gives him a brief nod.
Taking a breath, the Dark Pretty Cure extends one hand outward. "Dark Tact." A flash of purple and red light, and a wand appears in her hand. "You speak of hope. Of ability. That's very well and good." She focuses on Runealy this time, her voice echoing. "You seek to do good here, but it will avail you not. Do not presume too much of your own ability."
Her wing opens again and she darts forward toward Eri and Lucy. As she does, a blast of compressed air slams toward the Mesozoic Maiden, bringing with it all sorts of dark, whispered thoughts, words of bitterness and guilt.
And Eri, who has defied Dark Precure's assault on her heart, is met with a different sort of assault. A long blade of purple and black energy extends from the end of the Dark Tact as the Desert Apostle approaches, just as she swings it toward the Puella Magi.
COMBAT: Dark Precure accepts Nephrite's The Crown of Cassiopeia, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Empower applied to Dark Precure! COMBAT: Dark Precure has used Wilting Words on Princess Runealy. COMBAT: Dark Precure has used Dark Desert Wind on Mesozoic Maiden Lucy. COMBAT: Dark Precure has used Dark Tact Sword on Eri Shimanouchi. COMBAT: Dark Precure has finished attacking. COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi perfectly braces Dark Precure's Dark Tact Sword, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Critical Brace! Eri Shimanouchi's Block ability activates! Eri Shimanouchi's Parry ability activates! COMBAT: Princess Runealy narrowly dodges Dark Precure's Wilting Words, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Princess Runealy's Fade ability activates! Princess Runealy's Flash ability activates!
Seika can't really hear the lecture. She's somewhat busy being dead right now.
Augustine is admittedly somewhat /glad/ Nephrite decided not to swat him; he darts back with a blur of feathers, panting a bit as he wings into open air. "You are a pompous ass and a king only in your own deluded fantasies!" he shouts back at Nephrite with a certain stuffy outrage. "This is the world of mankind! You have no right to harm it!"
Seika, meanwhile, is in the process of pulling herself back to her feet, clearing the dazed fog from her head with a groan and a shake of herself. She brings a hand up to her temple; she's bleeding. With a wince she wipes her hand on the turf beneath her and pulls slowly to her feet.
She cannot allow this man to bring her down. To defeat Augustine or harm Sailor Moon. The lunar Senshi is no Soeur, but here, they're of a kind.
Suddenly, Masque Feu tosses her hair back, and turns, a hand brought to her hip. Her eyes narrow dangerously. Injured or not, she's able to draw her grace about her like a queen's robes. "A king should be expected to act towards his subjects with magnanimity and a spirit of noblesse oblige," she fires towards him. "You are no noble man. And your crown is not recognized here, by me nor anyone."
With that she sets her heels apart and throws her arms deeply back, bowing forward as billows of flame roar up her arms, igniting out from her palms. "And your darkness can only...." she begins through clenched teeth, tensing as she gathers her power - before suddenly snapping her right hand forward with a shout of, "...become /light!/"
The barrage she unloads upon Nephrite is unbelievable in its intensity; she unleashes blast after blast of blessed flame upon him, one arm snapping forward, then the other, with each thrust of an open hand unleashing another fireball. She's not even being subtle at this point, she's just letting him have it.
COMBAT: Masque Feu has used Purespark Barrage on Nephrite. COMBAT: Masque Feu has finished attacking. COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy narrowly counters Dark Precure's Dark Desert Wind, taking 6 Fatigue damage! Mesozoic Maiden Lucy is Quipped! COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy's counterattack, Blast from the Past, partially gets through, doing 10 Fatigue damage to Dark Precure! Exhausted applied to Dark Precure! COMBAT: Nephrite fails to brace Masque Feu's Purespark Barrage, taking 40 Fatigue damage!
The rulers of the planet? But how? Not 'coming to conquer', but 'already are'? What's that supposed to mean? Shiori can at least see Jadeite's scorn for Diva Heart's power, but she's thrown out one of her own more fearsome attacks, a form of magic she knows she can rely on--except--
She can only rely on it to hit someone else, instead. "Wait--no!"
The words hit her harder than much of anything thus far has, however. The challenge visibly staggers the Infinity student, causing her to stiffen for a moment, unable to get out of the way of the short blast. It achives its aim, at least--by instinct, she tenses, putting her arms in front of her to absorn the worst of the blow, but its job at least is done. Even there, however, she just stands where she is at first. "What... What am I supposed to do, if I..." Stumbling back, Shiori shakes her head, feeling out blindly for something to lean on. "I can't--he's right, I--" Another step, and a desperate plea to apparrently no one, "Where are you? Please--"
Something almost like calm settles over her, though most of the battle here is internal. "...How pathetic is that?" Her eyes lift, and settle on Jadeite. The uncertain girl from before is still present, certainly, but now Shiori speaks up, "Fine! You're just going to throw what I have to offer? I'll show you why I can fight! I'll show you! T-this weapon has a name!"
Her dagger's grip is suddenly reversed as she shifts her hand, and /charges/ forward, leaping with a flash of green energy that turns to flower petals, obscuring her path downward--which is where she attempts to run not into Jadeite.... but past him.
And then to introduce her True Feelings to his kidneys.
COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki has used Blind Charge on Jadeite. COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki has finished attacking.
"I know it's hard, coming back to something after a long time," Tutu says, stepping so lightly, it's almost as if gravity has no hold on her. She dances closer to Jadeite, and though it's clear that she doesn't approve of the violence around her, she continues trying to reach out to him. "Coming back to your home after so long must be so painful, all the new people, none of them remembering you... but please, this isn't the way. You cannot help people by hurting them..."
(Be careful about what you say, little duck. You might regret those words.)
Princess Tutu pirouettes, landing near the General's side. "Jadeite-san, please, do you truly wish to do this? Earth is important to all of us. If we could just talk--"
And oh, he talks. He talks about her heart, a gift for a Queen...
Princess Tutu covers her heart with a hand as trepidation registers on her gentle face, stepping back, grace in every footfall. How, /how/ do her feet bend at those angles? "No," she shakes her head, bends her knees to spring away -- but it's too late.
For an agonising moment, she is paralysed by the pain of it -- but Princess Tutu is more graceful, still, than this. She steps back, but even as she does, her arms reach towards Jadeite as if to embrace him -- the mime for 'why'.
There is pain in her eyes, but still, compassion.
COMBAT: Duck has used Please Understand!! on Jadeite. COMBAT: Duck has finished attacking. COMBAT: Jadeite fails to brace Duck's Please Understand!!, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Jadeite is Quipped! COMBAT: Jadeite narrowly dodges Shiori Takatsuki's Blind Charge, taking 8 Fatigue damage! Shiori Takatsuki is Psyched! Jadeite's Fade ability activates! Jadeite's Flash ability activates!
Diva Heart never makes it to the corner; Jadeite hurls her by her neck into Shiori's flower missile, which straight up explodes. The force whips Diva Heart around in midair, going through a 540 degree spin before crashing into the ground shoulders first, her lower body sticking straight up into the air before, after a beat, it flops down, leaving the Diva splayed out on the ground; after a few moments, she manages to roll to the side, out of the way of Shiori and Princess Tutu.
She stays down - and pointedly off-camera - until Shiori has made her totally safe attempt to stab Jadeite in the God damn kidneys, in the aftermath of which a sweating Diva Heart, having risen to her feet, advances back on Jadeite, her shoulders hunched and arms held up, fingers splayed. "Come on," she urges Jadeite, in practically a growl. "Come on, come on!" She lunges the last few feet, grabbing at Jadeite's collar with her right hand and elbow with her left, and quickly attempting to transition from that into a side headlock, with the Heavenly King's head straight up in her armpit, no fear.
COMBAT: Diva Heart has used Lock Up on Jadeite. COMBAT: Diva Heart has finished attacking.
It's said that everyone's heart flower looks different. Eri's looks like an arrangement of emerald Kikus within her. She didn't know of its existence, she simply felt the weight of the despair as each petal wilted, and the stem started to bend under the weight of her negative emotions. It was a real, tangible thing... a haze of darkened mist swirls ominously within a portion of her partially concealed soul gem in response.
And then Lucy puts a hand on her shoulder. And her spirit soars from the impromptu pep talk. Sometimes she truly felt alone, because something in the back of her mind constantly nudged at her, filling her with doubt, with the belief that eventually everyone would abandon her. But she didn't feel that way today, not with Lucy and Runealy at her side. Not with everyone fighting so hard to defend their homes. Within, her flower straightens just slightly, the wilting arrested for now at least.
Dark PreCure begins her assault before she can even think to thank Lucy, and in the midst of it, the tendrils of Eri's scourge arc outward, acting of their own accord, as living things, to move around the energy blade and grasp at her wrist. Dark PreCure continues to soar at her, and at the last minute she jerks the scourge's handle, causing her aim to go awry as the whip jerks her sword hand wide. "Don't presume too much of my own ability? I don't. The only thing I presume is that my friends... will be at my side to make up for my deficiencies. Can you the say the same of yourself?"
The scourge untangles from Dark PreCures wrist, unable to hold someone that powerful for very long, just as Cherry Blossom trees spring up from the ground everywhere around Dark Precure, growing to full maturity, and life. Each blooming with a scattering of pink petals falling from the blossoms, in an attempt to box her in, and create a canopy over her to keep her from flying away as drooping branches move all around her. Some she aims to try to batter into her with the rapid growth.
And one tree she causes to grow diagonally, to provide a certain Mesozoic Maiden an avenue to capitalize on the attack. "Go Maiden-chan! Show her the strength of our bonds!"
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has started a combo targeting Dark Precure!
Kyouko might have sadness in her heart, but there were few better at shunting it aside. Dancing away from the pallid flames with such nimbleness she made it looks easy, laughing like a hyena while baring her teeth in a feral grin.
"You pompous preening pushover. I'm gonna paint my cheeks with your blood in a minute."
Flipping her spear, she stabs at her opponent with the butt of her spear, striking at his forehead, his knuckles, his stomach, balls. It's clear that she's just playing around, like a cat batting at a mouse. Her confidence is obviously building.
COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has used Knuckletap on Nephrite. COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has finished attacking. COMBAT: Nephrite narrowly dodges Kyouko Sakura's Knuckletap, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Kyouko Sakura is Psyched!
The chains slacken. It's just enough for Sailor Moon to back away, but she only gets two steps before they are once again taut with the ground. Her throat is sore. No more screaming, just ragged breathing. It's a different kind of genuine, but one that her odango crystals cannot work with.
Usagi looks up, fearing that the hunter may come to check his trap. He is busy with the other girls, but that is no great comfort. She's a liability. Lowering the class average, even here.
Nephrite's blast is appropriately flippant and offensively dismissive. Sailor Moon grits her teeth, pulling at her bindings--it's not possible--but maybe--she throws herself forward, into the crystalline barrage. Rushing into the hateful light is the only way to get enough slack in her chains to bring her arms up.
The soldier standing when the energy clears only does so on buckled knees. Her gloves are black with charring and her arms already bruising, but she's not stopped. Not down.
Usagi isn't better, either. Her vision is blurred and that sick, unsafe feeling squeezing her has infiltrated her entire body. Pinpricks dance on her hands and feet, and every movement feels like it's not actually her making it. Are these her arms, or a marionette's? There's no force in anything she does.
"Moon... Twilight..." she murmurs, looking down to make sure that she's actually standing. She is. It's hard to tell with numb feet.
If she can stand, she's not so weak. And if she's not so weak that she can't stand, maybe all she has to do is act strong. It'll all balance out. It has to.
Her tiara glimmers dangerously.
The light that erupts from the gem on her forehead briefly turns the surrounding area black and white, etching everything in silvery-white brilliance and sharp shadows.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Moon Twilight Flash on Nephrite. COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking. COMBAT: Nephrite fails to dodge Sailor Moon's Moon Twilight Flash, taking 50 Fatigue damage!
Luckily for Lucy, she's ready to meet Dark Precure as she flies towards her. She scrapes her club against the asphalt, causing a few sparks to fly out, and swings it up as if it were a golf club. The sparks, magically kindled into a wave of flame, meet up with the evil Precure's dark wind, and seem to hold it off, even scorch her a bit... but /something/ gets through, and in hindsight, Lucy might realize that this is the sort of dark power that was affecting Eri earlier.
This isn't your home. This isn't your battle. You're doing it all wrong.
"NO!" She clutches her ears to silence those whispering voices only she can hear, but they leave her as soon as they came, only leaving her shaken, with a few petals missing on her own heart flower. Her own pep talk's words come back to her as Eri speaks with renewed strength. She grabs onto the branch of the tree helpfully provided by the Puella Magi, right at home in the tiny, rapidly-growing forest. Amidst all that foliage, Dark Precure might well be unable to see her springing up like a wild animal, swinging her club with the full brunt of the Mesozoic Maiden's colossal strength, enough to knock her right out! "Runealy-san! Here's to our burgeoning friendship!"
COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy has joined the combo started by Eri Shimanouchi!
Princess Runealy spares Infinity's barrier another look - it's impossible to /not/ see that - with a mix of wonder and concern. "This pressure... what is it?" One can hope it's merely the sheer amount of magic in the area. It's a concern, but ultimately the least among them as Dark Precure provides little insight on her own situation and leaves just an enigma; a worrying mirror of those defending the school.
Instead, Dark Precure provides more biting words. "'My ability' is not even half of my mother's." This sounds like a self-insult at first, and on some level it is. Yet the princess sees some reason for hope, even as her boot wings light up and rocket her into the air on a trail of blue-silver sparkles. "However, even a fraction of greatness, standing beside some of the most incredible heroes I've seen," Both of her current companions are a significant part of why her homeworld isn't a desolate ruin even if Eri is similarly self-depreciating, "shouldn't be taken lightly! And if I have to show you that before you'll tell me why someone like you, who look like you ought to be helping us, is doing this... then I will!"
She aims down at Dark Precure, starting to descend as Eri and Lucy try to batter their foe about. They're setting up openings as Eri's trees start to cut off avenues of escape. Runealy just needs to wait a tiny bit longer for Lucy to finish swinging. "You're already my friend, there's nothing to prove about that!" The intent is accepted, though.
"There!" The princess' wand lights up, swiveling to follow where Dark Precure might be knocked toward if this works as planned. A trio of explosive emerald magic-balls fly out, trying to meet their foe!
COMBAT: Princess Runealy has joined the combo started by Eri Shimanouchi! COMBAT: COMBO! Eri Shimanouchi, Mesozoic Maiden Lucy, and Princess Runealy have used Combo: Floral Conviction!, composed of Weald Advent, Cretaceous Clobber, and Burst Orb, on Dark Precure. COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has finished attacking. COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy has finished attacking. COMBAT: Princess Runealy has finished attacking. COMBAT: Jadeite narrowly counters Diva Heart's Lock Up, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Jadeite is Taunted! Tangle applied to Jadeite! COMBAT: Jadeite's counterattack, Step into the Ring, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Diva Heart! COMBAT: Dark Precure narrowly dodges Eri Shimanouchi, Mesozoic Maiden Lucy, and Princess Runealy's Combo: Floral Conviction!, taking 68 Fatigue damage!
Masque Feu stands and delivers once again. Nephrite opens his mouth to cut her off, wielding his crystal in front of him -- and at first the energy just seems to pour into it, the holy light building within the darkness.
Is there nothing the power of the Seours can do against the Heavenly Kings?
And then the first crack appears. Blinding radiance is leaking from Nephrite's Dark Crystal. It spiderwebs into another crack, and then another...
...and then the Dark Crystal explodes, entirely, right in his face. Shards go everywhere, razor-sharp, many of them coated with more of the King's blood. His face is covered with scratches. His hands are a gorey mess, his white gloves tattered, torn, and stained beyond redemption.
His eyes look just as shattered, tormented by inner ghosts or external demons. By the knowledge of how much work he put into this. He dodges Kyouko's strikes almost halfheartedly, keeping his distance but still imperiling himself. Does he feel like he needs to be punished for his failure? Has he been broken by the price of his strength?
The force of purest moonlight brings a tear to his eyes, to match the blood that's dripping down his face. It stirs ancient memories... thoughts of a time so long past as to be lost forever, just as beyond redemption as his hands, his stained, sickened hands.
"It's so beautiful," he croaks, mostly inaudibly, more of a whisper, really. A susurration lost to the sounds of battle, carried away on the chill winds that, even now, toss his hair like a crimson flag, and Sailor Moon's like twin banners of light.
Nephrite reaches out a trembling hand, towards the ones who have reduced him to this...
He does not know how to be grateful for loss.
He does not know how to feel humility.
He does not know how to feel awe.
All that's left to him, in this moment, as he feels the blackness in his soul twist and writhe like the chains that have bound his heart, his will, his oath for countless eras... is rage.
Energy so dark as to be unseen by any eye, no matter how naked or how clothed in instrumentation, mystical or scientific, erupts out of him. It flows from his palms, his eyes, even his mouth, as he emits a scream more bestial than refined, more tortured than triumphant.
It plows through the air, straight towards his primary tormenter, she of the many equally bloody spears. It seeks her very heart.
Lesser stands of that dark energy flow off of the maelstrom, intent on impaling Sailor Moon and Masque Feu; they snake around in a dark X to come in right between the shoulderblades.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Nephrite has used Dark Matter on Kyouko Sakura. COMBAT: Nephrite has used Corona Invictus on Sailor Moon. COMBAT: Nephrite has used Corona Invictus on Masque Feu. COMBAT: Nephrite has finished attacking. COMBAT: Masque Feu perfectly dodges Nephrite's Corona Invictus, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Dodge! Masque Feu's Flash ability activates! COMBAT: Sailor Moon fails to dodge Nephrite's Corona Invictus, taking 48 Fatigue damage! Nephrite drains 19 fatigue from Sailor Moon! COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura narrowly braces Nephrite's Finisher, Dark Matter, taking 37 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Kyouko Sakura's Block ability activates! Kyouko Sakura's Parry ability activates!
As soon as the bloodied buffoon begins to radiate energy, Kyouko jumps back and braces herself for the coming wave of corrosive arcana. Gritting her teeth, blood vessels throughout her body pop, bruises blossoming all about. Some of the flesh of her cheeks and the tip of her nose is scoured away as though scraped off with sandpaper. Spitting blood, on the ground, she glared and grins.
"That was your death rattle, rabbit. And it wasn't enough. Time to die."
Holding her spear like a staff, pointed up, she mutters softly as the blood coating the blade begins to softly glow. The sky above her enemy gently glimmers like a chandelier; one by one, dozens of spears form, each pointed down, and fall in a relentless downpour, humming gently in the air along the way.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Kyouko Sakura has used A Rain of Razors on Nephrite. COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has finished attacking.
Jadeite's eyes tilt with the wicked arch of his blond brows, his laugh tossing his head back, as Princess Tutu's boundless heart is drained. "Ahahaha! Perfect!" he gloats. "More energy than I was even expecting. And you will not even defend yourself? You really are a little white egg, aren't you?"
She can, however, move a lot faster than an egg, and if she'd wanted to strike him, it likely would have happened, as her airy, effortless dance brings her right next to him. "Get it through that thin shell of yours," he grates, finding her words more painful than the attacks of violence. "I am about to drain you and all your little friends. You will die." She answers with only a pose, lovely and mysterious, and though he knows nothing at all of the language of dance, somehow the question is as obvious as day; he doesn't even realize she didn't ask it aloud. "Why?! Because yours is a traitor dynasty, founded on a lie. The Queen of Earth has returned and she will take it for her own once more. You are the legacy of a foreign deceiver, and your powers sicken me." He holds out his orb again. "Your energy belongs to..."
A sonic agony pierces him, and Jadeite doubles over, covering his ears. "What... what was that?" he pants, casting about. It was so loud it made him see petals...
Wait, petals? Jadeite lunges to the side as Shiori charges forward again, gashing his side, opening his uniform so the white cloth inside it, and the red blood inside him, is exposed to the air. It's a minor cut, however, and as he turns with it he rains blows at Shiori's back, a quick combination with his fists and the blade of his hand. "Still here? Let me get rid of you more permanently."
But Diva Heart is back! Hooking her arm about Jadeite's neck, she sets him to backpedalling as he tries to avoid being choked or slammed to the ground. He backs right into the now weakening force field, which bends under his body much like a set of elastic ropes might. Using the force gathered, he rubberbands back, charging along with Diva Heart to hurl her back further, then chase her in an attempt to clothesline her to the ground.
Coming to a stop after this fails, he turns to face his foes. "You two," he says, addressing Diva and Shiori, "seem good at holding an opponent still. Perhaps you could hold the egg for me?" Clapping his hands together, he uses a burst of relatively soft telekinesis to try and force Shiori and Diva into Princess Tutu from either side, whereupon he resumes the voidal vacuum with which he's attempting to drain her very soul.
"Brown, is it?" he calls gaily to Nephrite. "Your nose is looking rather /bloody/ to me. Is this the sort of generalship North America is accustomed to? No wonder they are in such dire straits in this era." He intensifies the accursed inhalation, seeking to gather his prize quickly. "Tell me if you need some energy to beat those schoolchildren, I have more than enough."
COMBAT: Jadeite has used Stick Together on Diva Heart. COMBAT: Jadeite has used Stick Together on Shiori Takatsuki. COMBAT: Jadeite has used Plan A on Duck. COMBAT: Jadeite has used Energy-Eating Grin on Nephrite. COMBAT: Jadeite has finished attacking.
The sense of rising power is beginning to bring sweat to the air, a sense of weight that not even the icy wind can cleanse. The ward is shining ever more brilliantly as the battle increases in intensity; little rips and tears course through it, places that the endless rainbows are now struggling to /keep up/. They don't always get there in time; a glass or two is cracked along the mighty skyscraper's length.
"Big talk for a man getting beaten up by /ballet/," snarls Nephrite, still nearly incoherent with anger, anxiety, and frustration.
COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki fails to brace Jadeite's Stick Together, taking 10 Fatigue damage! COMBAT: Nephrite narrowly counters Jadeite's Energy-Eating Grin, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Nephrite's Tactician ability activates! Nephrite is Taunted! COMBAT: Nephrite's counterattack, Flipping Jadeite The Bird, partially gets through, doing 7 Fatigue damage to Jadeite! Critical Counterhit! Jadeite is Quipped! COMBAT: Diva Heart narrowly dodges Jadeite's Stick Together, taking 7 Fatigue damage!
Masque Feu does not smile as Nephrite's crystal explodes. She does not even crack a grin or toss her head. She does not give any sign of satisfaction greater than drawing herself up and laying a hand on her hip, chin rising imperiously as she gazes down the length of her nose at the bloodied King of North America.
Her point is proven.
Until Nephrite gets back up anyway.
Her eyes widen slightly.
The bloodied man unloads with the dark power of his rage; Masque Feu can do nothing for Kyouko, nor Usagi, because the darkness is coming for her too. She breathes in unsteadily before suddenly springing forward, flipping her legs up over her head and twisting in the air. The dark strand races past her entirely too close for comfort, a few severed strands of the dark hair that billows behind her as she leaps floating down through the air away from her, so close does the strike come. Her heart races as she touches down on open ground in a graceful landing, whirling with a cascade of dark, lush hair.
She levels a single finger towards Nephrite. She says nothing, soon lifting that hand high over her head, her other hand rising as she crosses her wrists. Flame pours in long strands from her fingers as she turns gracefully. Those strands twine with each other, twisting into a double helix that coils around her body. "I call upon the power of the blessed flame," she whispers, and her voice has taken on a surreal double echo, ringing as she gathers her flames and sweeps her arms out to her sides. The tongues of flame follow her as she moves.
Her heels plant against the pavement, then, slightly apart, as she thrusts her palms forward. Her voice rises, ringing with command.
Flame leaps from each of Seika's hands. The twin tendrils of fire wind about each other, then sweep away from each other, flames guttering in brilliant white-orange as they curve out at about 45-degree angles from Nephrite - before with burning suddenness they lance forward, erupting towards the bloodied Heavenly King with incredible fury, aiming to set him ablaze with fire so furious that no darkness could hope to stand aganst it for long.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Masque Feu has used Crossfire Ignition on Nephrite. COMBAT: Masque Feu has finished attacking. COMBAT: Nephrite narrowly dodges Kyouko Sakura's Finisher, A Rain of Razors, taking 58 Fatigue damage! COMBAT: Nephrite narrowly braces Masque Feu's Finisher, Crossfire Ignition, taking 37 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! COMBAT: Duck fails to dodge Jadeite's Plan A, taking 13 Mana damage! Critical Hit! Jadeite drains 9 mana from Duck!
Seeing the blood on her dagger, Shiori finally lets out a breath--just in time for the rest of the wind to be knocked out of her, as Jadeite's superior strength happers into her and keeps her moving forward whether she likes it or not. ...It's 'not'.
"Augh--" Shiori is shoved backward again, slamming towards the Princess even as, "I'm... not touching your /egg/, and she's just some kind of--"
She probably /should/ check to see if Duck is all right, or perhaps nod to Diva Heart in preparation for a heartful tag-team move, something great that truly shows the bonds of strength that friendship and teamwork can make. She... does not do these things.
"I don't want to /hold/ anything for you!" Shiori practically snarls at Jadeite, still disheveled even as the barrier of the school keeps up. She jumps, pushing away from her teammates, and the blood on her weapon drops onto the ground below as she moves.
"I just want you to pay! I don't care about your stupid kingdom or your stupid reign or your stupid Queen!"
She gets up close, landing in short order. What she says next is for Jadeite's ears alone, whispered with the shortest pause, "I hate you!" Her arm finishes moving--thorns conjured in one hand, her dagger cutting off explosions of magic at point blacnk from the other--regardless of how ill-advised it is, she stays in sheer melee with her knife in the fistfight. The stiffness of her limbs, the chill of the vortex of dark energy, none of these things matter.
...There might be a few more cuts.
COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki has used Believe in Miracles on Jadeite. COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki has finished attacking.
The light of Usagi's tiara fades, but it was enough. One of the chains around her wrists crumbles, and another at her ankle fractures. She kicks, or at least focuses on kicking. Blinded and numb, she can't do much more than will things to happen and hope that they do.
She hears a heavy noise. The chain hitting the ground. It has to be. In a few moments, she'll be free. It might be enough. It might not be.
That sound, though, takes her out of her head. It's not hope that drives away the panic, though she is relieved. What she's feeling is a realization, or maybe a remembrance. Too weak to touch, too hurt to see--she can still hear. Ilusia, youma of the Dark Kingdom, was wrong about people being helpless without their sight.
Sailor Moon steadies herself, slowly and methodically, taking time to straighten her legs and brace her stance. She can get out of this. She can use her tiara and fight back. It has to work, her tiara has always been so--
Usagi looks sightlessly toward the faint noise across the field. She extends her hand as well, because it seems like the man speaking is also scared. She knows it's Nephrite. She knows it may be a trick. A lie. Another trap.
But maybe it isn't. Maybe, even in this uniformed soldier of darkness, there is someone who is like her.
It's a nice thought.
The tendril of darkness pierces her back. Sailor Moon falls, screaming and still reaching out.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Maybe I Understand on Nephrite. COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking. COMBAT: Nephrite fails to dodge Sailor Moon's Maybe I Understand, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Psyched!
Dark Precure turns around to find herself surrounded by newly-sprouted trees. "What--?" Her one open eye glances left, then right, as she tries to find the soruce of the plants. She even flies up, only to find new branches growing in her way.
The blade of the Dark Tact's sword burns brightly as she slices neatly through one tree... only to have two more spring back up. And then, just as she brings it back for another swing...
The club of the Mesozoic Maiden impacts her side sharply, sending her smashing toward one of the trees. The dust cloud of impact grows that much bigger as Runealy contributes her own barrage of magical blasts.
For a moment, there is silence. Could they have beaten her?
The smoke and dust shift slightly with the pulse of power from the nearby barriers... and then a light shines from within. Dark Precure sweeps her hand once to the side, clearing the smoke away. Despite the barrage of attacks, she's still standing. She's still got an impassive look on her face... but something in that cool blue eye says that she's not as calm as she looks.
"You can work together. I see." Hands drop to her side, and Dark turns her head toward the three. "Then you can fall together."
And that right eye, which had been closed before, snaps open, revealing a golden color inside... and letting out a massive explosion of dark power.
COMBAT: Dark Precure has used Cast But A Glance on Eri Shimanouchi. COMBAT: Dark Precure has used Cast But A Glance on Mesozoic Maiden Lucy. COMBAT: Dark Precure has used Cast But A Glance on Princess Runealy. COMBAT: Dark Precure has finished attacking.
Is this called... 'momentum?' The slingshotting effect of being backed against Jadeite's shield, and then the shove, sends Diva Heart bounding across the pavement, pursued in short order by the Heavenly King. About twenty feet out from where her run began, she turns in mid-stride and slams into a set of shining rainbow ring ropes that spring into existence, which flex and then slingshot her back towards Jadeite.
He lashes out with a clothesline, and Diva Heart ducks underneath it as smoothly as if the exchange were scripted... she keeps on running, though, back to where their exchange initially began, where another set of ring ropes appears, even as the initial set vanish. Once more, Diva Heart turn as she hits the ropes, and once again is flung back towards Jadeite, as he telekinetically flings Shiori at Princess Tutu. He turns to fling her--
-- and Diva Heart throws herself into the ground like she was a baseball player, her bare legs scraping along the concrete as she slides beneath Jadeite's legs, turning onto her stomach as she does.
As soon as she's through his legs, she springs back to her feet and throws herself into his back, her arms flying around the Heavenly King's waist. Her hands grip ahold of each other, and she lets out a wordless, guttural cry... and throws herself backwards, lifting Jadeite up and over her head to slam him head and shoulders first into the concrete.
COMBAT: Diva Heart has used German Suplex on Jadeite. COMBAT: Diva Heart has finished attacking. COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi fails to dodge Dark Precure's Cast But A Glance, taking 74 Fatigue damage! Eri Shimanouchi is unable to keep fighting! Eri Shimanouchi is Quipped! COMBAT: Princess Runealy narrowly braces Dark Precure's Cast But A Glance, taking 37 Fatigue damage! Princess Runealy is Quipped! COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy perfectly dodges Dark Precure's Cast But A Glance, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Dodge! Mesozoic Maiden Lucy's Fade ability activates! Mesozoic Maiden Lucy's Flash ability activates!
"Everyone makes mistakes, Jadeite-san," Princess Tutu implores, hands outstretched. She moves in bourree across the ground, small, quick steps which give the impression of gliding, as she reaches towards him with a genuine expression. "Misunderstandings happen. You don't have to hurt anyone, so please..."
Before she can continue her impassioned speech, two other warriors of the heart are flung towards her. They both manage to deal with it, in their own ways -- but her shock as she turns to see it, a hand lifted picture-perfect to her mouth, leaves her open to another one of those draining strikes. This time, she at least manages to leap away -- only for the darkness to catch her mid-air, causing her to fall to the ground, the first graceless motion she's made during this entire fight.
Perhaps that, itself, is even more satisfying than her keening cry.
COMBAT: Duck has used Acknowledge Your True Feelings! on Jadeite. COMBAT: Duck has finished attacking.
Nephrite is impaled by more of Kyouko's spears than he'd like, but he just keeps walking forward -- one step at a time. His blood is spattered with every footstep, imprinted by his sharp bootheels, trod upon by his sharper toes. He huffs out a breath of pain, then inhales with a rattle; but still, though he is pierced, and though he is torn, he is not pierced to the heart, nor torn fully apart.
Masque Feu's holy flame bores towards him with all the righteous fury of a Sacred Seour. He can feel his hair shorten by half an inch; so close does it come. He grunts, a monumental effort expended to get him out of its deadly path. One of his sleeves is burnt right off, revealing moderately blackened -- though quite handsome, in a muscular way -- flesh beneath. He smokes. He wheezes. But he is still on his feet. Barely. Barely.
The expression on Sailor Moon's face, however, is like a knife to the guts, after all is said and done. He finds that he cannot meet her eyes; he cannot face her for long. Turning away, one hand up to his face, he snaps his fingers, and that dark energy that had pierced her, had pierced all of them once, circles back around to do it again.
COMBAT: Nephrite has used Corona Invictus on Kyouko Sakura. COMBAT: Nephrite has used Corona Invictus on Masque Feu. COMBAT: Nephrite has used Corona Ascendant on Sailor Moon. COMBAT: Nephrite has finished attacking. COMBAT: Masque Feu fails to counter Nephrite's Corona Invictus, taking 51 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Nephrite drains 20 fatigue from Masque Feu! COMBAT: Masque Feu's counterattack, Ember Dance, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Nephrite! COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura narrowly counters Nephrite's Corona Invictus, taking 20 Fatigue damage! Nephrite drains 8 fatigue from Kyouko Sakura! COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura's counterattack, Latticework, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Nephrite! COMBAT: Sailor Moon narrowly braces Nephrite's Corona Ascendant, taking 19 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Sailor Moon's Parry ability activates! COMBAT: Jadeite narrowly counters Diva Heart's German Suplex, taking 6 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! COMBAT: Jadeite's counterattack, Dark Yoga, partially gets through, doing 32 Fatigue damage to Diva Heart! Critical Counterhit! COMBAT: Jadeite narrowly dodges Shiori Takatsuki's Believe in Miracles, taking 13 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Jadeite's Fade ability activates! Jadeite's Flash ability activates!
There's a single moment in time, a swelling feeling of triumph as Dark PreCure vanishes within the explosion where Eri believes they've done it! After all, who could still remain standing after that.
Then she hears the words, laced with the tone of disdain and simmering anger.
A single golden eye opens.
And she isn't prepared, being caught flat footed by the explosion of coruscating dark energy, as she only tries to spring out of the way /after/ it begins, and finding her legs no longer desire to move. There's one last effort, where she tries to push back against it with a howl of defiance and pain, with only the strength of her will as her shield.
It isn't enough. By the end of it, her entire form is sizzling, as lingering bolts of umbral energy play across her form like tiny arcs of electricity. She spasms, somehow remaining on her feet.. and then she falls to her knees, with the rest of her body following forward, as she braces herself from entirely falling by placing her palms out in front of her.
However, the Puella Magi doesn't look like she's able to move much, any longer, if at all. Eri is definitely out of this fight. She whispers in a voice steeped in sorrow and regret, "Chichi... I'm sorry, I tried my best but I don't think I'm going to make it home...."
Kyouko's pretty impressed that Oscar Wilde is still limping along. Most witches would have given up the goods by now, and she's feeling pretty drained. When the miasma blows through again, she feels ready. A red chainlink expanse of spear shafts instantly creates a wall between her and the haze, but does little to help. She's bloodier now, and more bruised still, but very much active and on her feet. She beats her chest, whooping and crowing "KING KONG AIN'T GOT SHIT ON ME!" She heard it in an American movie once, seemed fitting.
Frankly, this is starting to get extremely irritating, and she was getting pretty fatigued from the effort. Charging forward once more, she howls as lances blink into being, hurtling towards Nephrite from a variety of angles.
COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has used Pincushion on Nephrite. COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has finished attacking.
That blast of flame was seemingly all Masque Feu had left.
The girl weaves somewhat unsteadily on her feet, breathing heavily, watching Nephrite and Sailor Moon for now. And then Nephrite's able to elude the worst of it, and her heart absolutely sinks in her chest, though she gives not a single outward sign of it. She merely tosses her head and clenches one hand.
She has watched enough anime to know that how one faces death is just as important as how one faces life - and she's quite sure she is going to die.
And then it turns out she's not going to get to face anything, because the strands of dark energy come at her from /behind./ The light of it runs through her just short of her spine and comes ripping out between her ribs, shooting through her so quickly she barely has time to feel it as she lurches forward and coughs up a mouthful of blood. Another hack, and she collapses to her hands and knees, coughing up a gory red puddle. Her hair hangs down into it with utter indignity.
She wants to get up and throw something back. She can't. It hurts. She can barely breathe, and what energy she has left is so scant she can barely muster up more than a flicker of flame.
She lifts her head, finally, and clenches her teeth, looking forward with her breath in her throat.
"Sailor Moon," she calls out, her voice wet in her throat. "You can... do it...!"
COMBAT: Masque Feu has used Ojou-sama Believes In You on Sailor Moon. COMBAT: Masque Feu has finished attacking. COMBAT: Nephrite narrowly dodges Kyouko Sakura's Pincushion, taking 3 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Nephrite is Quipped! Cripple, Exhausted, and Stagger applied to Nephrite!
Princess Runealy takes notice of that. A barrier starting to become slow to respond to what it's protecting against is a worrying thing. It's a time limit. She, perhaps more than anyone here, knows about that sort of threat. It's /very/ distracting, taking her focus away from Dark Precure at a critical moment.
Evil energy bursts throughout the area, forcing Rune to look back to the immediate problem. "What!?" Has their opponent been /toying/ with them so far? It's possible, with that much dark power rippling through the air. Wand pointed above herself, Rune is surrounded in a ruby-colored dome... one much smaller than when she normally uses this defense. It holds at first, but ultimately the darkness breaks through and sends her crashing to the floor with a scream!
Picking herself up, she sees someone got out of this situation far worse for wear. "Eri!?" Runealy's heart buckles in the face of a friend falling, unsure how well things are really going now. Worse, Eri is /down./ Conscious, but clearly no longer moving. She's vulnerable, and any more blows could seriously injure - or even kill - the Puella Magi.
Her mind is made up in an instant; the barrier might be a greater strategic concern, but Runealy doesn't want to face a world where Eri isn't around anymore. "Lucy, sorry! I can't leave her like this!" Boot wings light up, rocketing Rune toward her fallen friend. Wand propped over-shoulder, Runealy fires blindly in Dark Precure's general direction... but they won't hit. It's simply an attempt to cover herself. "Eri, hold on!" Her free arm tries to help her friend up and hold on tight, then another trail of blue-silver sparkles from the princess' boots work on trying to get some distance from this dangerous situation!
Lucy lands outside the trees, and although the trio's strategy didn't work perfectly, it still had /some/ effect from the looks of it. She catches her breath and wipes some sweat off her brow as she sees the twisted Precure emerge from the smoke. She speaks of them falling together, and...
Reflexes on a hair trigger, Lucy leaps out of the way, flawlessly backflipping away from the wave of dark energy, inhumanly agile. She skids to a halt far past the point where the wave dissipated. She grins, and looks up.
...It seems Eri hasn't been so lucky.
Her friend has just fallen. Runealy is getting her to safety, for now. The pressure in the air is building, and the barrier surrounding Lucy's school doesn't appear to be keeping up. From what she can tell of the rest of the fight, her allies are trying their best but still not coming out ahead. This needs to end, quickly.
"Dark Pretty Cure," Lucy states in a loud voice, from a distance, far enough that her voice actually carrying from there might actually come as a surprise, "I don't know who you are, or why you're doing this, but you just hurt my friend. For this, you will know the wrath of the Mesozoic Maiden!" And with a surge of speed, a raised club and a primal scream, she charges forward. Is this all she's got? She's making herself all too easy for the demonic-looking magical girl to dodge or intercept...
...but then, she seemingly disappears, having taken a sharp turn faster than most's people's naked eye could process. For a second, she seems nowhere to be found, or heard for that matter...
...until a third-story window bursts into shards not far from the Precure, and the Maiden flies down to her, aiming to clonk her head until that single eye of hers sees stars. This time the intent isn't quite to hurt, but rather to disorient her, and put her in position for a big finish!
COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy has used Triassic Trick on Dark Precure. COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy has finished attacking.
Jadeite begins his renewed combat with Shiori with a superior smirk, but her sheer ferocity has him quickly taking the battle seriously, grimacing with concern. "The hell is /wrong/ with you?" he breathes, taking quick little flashes backwards, barely seeming to move his feet. He just scarcely dodges, losing a great deal of ground. "All this from..." he begins to curse her, but then he grins.
"Interesting," he says. This one scarcely seems like a magical girl at all. Perhaps she has some potential. Perhaps--a blade slices his forearm, a thick gash, and he sneers his pain. But he has an idea. An investment to make.
"No one will ever be impressed by /that/ power," he lies cruelly, and he flashes diagonally, firing a single, tight bullet of telekinesis, that rips rather than pushes. He flashes again, to another corner of her space. "You children are never brave enough to embrace true strength." He fires again, flashes again. "Until then you are not worth my time." A final burst. He'd continue, but...
Diva Heart! Sliding between his legs, the wrestler mounts his back and rips him off his feet in a glorious, beautifully brutal arc, slamming him down hard. It's going to crack his head right open. Gasping, entirely off balance, with little dignity, he reaches back desperately, and his hands connect with the pavement.
His palms smashing in with a tinkle of thrown pebbles and a crunch of shattered concrete, Jadeite strikes an uncomfortable arch with his body, making a bridge out of his own body and Diva Heart's. They both remain there for an agonizing moment, Jadeite wishing he were more flexible. Then, grimacing, he manages a faint smile.
"Goodbye, Diva Heart," he says. And drawing one knee up high, he slams it down right onto her shoulder, firing her like a torpedo at Starbooks, right through the shield.
Rolling to his feet, he pants, turning once more, inevitably, to the Little White Egg. Seeing her fall, scream, was very satisfying, but not, actually, due to sadism. No... Jadeite needed to believe she was wrong. Her untouchability was galling. What he needs is for her compassion to break, for her to answer to the language of violence.
"Get up," he barks. "Fight." Marching forward, he takes his final few steps as a sprint and tries to grab her wrist, to drain her via his palm. "Your compassion is a lie, just like Hers was." He glances at the sky briefly. "Only strength can defend a world."
COMBAT: Jadeite has used Break the Shell on Duck. COMBAT: Jadeite has used Vicious Barbs on Shiori Takatsuki. COMBAT: Jadeite has used Not Starbooks! on Diva Heart. COMBAT: Jadeite has finished attacking. COMBAT: Dark Precure narrowly dodges Mesozoic Maiden Lucy's Triassic Trick, taking 8 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Mesozoic Maiden Lucy is Psyched! Tangle applied to Dark Precure! COMBAT: Duck narrowly braces Jadeite's Break the Shell, taking 1 Mana damage!
The dark ribbon stabbing through Usagi's chest quivers. Everything is stopped. Unmoving, unbreathing, all she can do is look toward the voice and reach and hope.
At Nephrite's command, his vicious corona retracts. Usagi is pulled from the ground as it snakes backward, tossing her through the air as it leaves her drained body. Miraculously, she lands on her feet, staggering forward under her weight but finding some reserve inside herself that helps her keep standing.
A hole, rimmed with burnt fabric, pierces both sides of her sailor suit. Her skin underneath is pale and a little chubby. Sailor Moon, soldier of love and justice, is the type of girl who avoids physical education and seeks out snacks.
"It's okay," she says, her voice raspy and words coming out a little disjointed. "You don't have to look at me."
Usagi steps forward, unsure. Her boot finds purchase. Another step, more confident. Confident enough to reach up and touch her tiara as she trudges forward. The circlet flashes, disappearing into a slender disk of white light that floats serenely in her hand.
"When something hurts too much, I run away. Or, I did, but then I became a soldier..."
Sailor Moon's clenches her free hand into a fist. It hurts a little. She's been growing her nails out. With a twirl, she releases the shard of silvery-white light. "Moon Tiara!"
It flies in an oblong arc, circling Nephrite with the inevitability of a guillotine. The fairy-lights that fall from its path, little twinkles of stardust, form an impenetrable curtain through which no evil can escape. Not if Usagi has her way.
"If you're a soldier too, then I hope you believe in whatever you're fighting for."
She closes her eyes. It's harder to start crying that way.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Masque Feu's Ojou-sama Believes In You, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Cheered! COMBAT: FINISHER! Sailor Moon has used Moon Tiara Action on Nephrite. COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking. COMBAT: Nephrite narrowly braces Sailor Moon's Finisher, Moon Tiara Action, taking 21 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki narrowly dodges Jadeite's Vicious Barbs, taking 24 Fatigue damage! Shiori Takatsuki's Flash ability activates! Jadeite drains 10 fatigue from Shiori Takatsuki! COMBAT: Diva Heart fails to dodge Jadeite's Not Starbooks!, taking 27 Fatigue damage! Diva Heart is unable to keep fighting! Stun applied to Diva Heart!
Diva Heart's eyes widen as Jadeite lifts his knee--
-- and then she goes blasting across the street and then into and through a plate glass window in the front of the building, which shatters like it was from an action movie.
She ends up on her back on the floor of the shop, arms and legs splayed out spread eagle.
Diva Heart: confirmed for Sheamus.
It may be momentum. Shiori, at least, continues to pick some up, even separately from her run-in with Diva Heart. Her attacks don't slow, either--instead, as he makes his little observation, the breathy question, Shiori's expression turns into a wicked, triumphant grin, teeth showing. "Oh, is it different now? Is--"
The lie cuts deeper than any gash of her dagger could have. "Aah--that's not--" It's almost enough. It isn't yet, however; the blast of force gives Jadeite plenty of time to recover himself, because Shiori stumbles backward, spun around and landing face-down on the ground because of how poorly-balanced she was. Only the little instinct of movement she had prevented it from injuring her body a lot more firmly than her dignity.
So it is that Diva Heart is gone when Shiori stands, that she can see Duck finally cracking a little too, whoever the girl is. Jadeite makes his orders... and Shiori takes a breath. "...Not enough, huh...? Well... I believe..." Lifting her weapon, she is calm again for a brief moment--but the green energy that surrounds her turns purple, so dark that it's nearly black, as she rushes. The gem at the pummel of her Origin Key glows, drawing in the energy around her as she looks to Jadeite before her, while he moves to grab the girl and talk about strength and compassion.
"I don't want to impress you," she breathes from behind him, close enough to be felt if she has her way. Her voice is quiet, but the same mad intensity that was there before remains. "All I want from you is for you to bleed." Blinding light flashes, brilliant, vibrant green, the color of life.
"Deal with my True Feelings!"
Shiori, both hands on her weapon, attempts to drive her blade straight into Jadeite's back.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Shiori Takatsuki has used True Feelings on Jadeite. COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki has finished attacking. COMBAT: Jadeite narrowly dodges Shiori Takatsuki's Finisher, True Feelings, taking 18 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Jadeite's Fade ability activates! Jadeite's Flash ability activates!
He storms forward to grasp her cruelly, to pull her up again.
It will not be difficult. The pain of your heart's strength being torn away is not a pain Princess Tutu is used to -- they're simply not at that part of the story, yet. She is still fresh, and new, and innocent, and she should not be this good once she sees how dark the world is...
That's what should happen, as she lies against the ground, crumpled in something which looks as if it was an /attempt/ at a graceful fall. It isn't difficult; she's not a particularly heavy girl, and she hardly resists, but to find her footing on the ground as he pulls her up. She stares into his eyes, tears at the corners of hers as the pain flows through her... and shakes her head, sadly.
She won't try and flee, this time. Her heart is strong against the attempt, and once the offense passes -- more easier, now, now she's standing against it, actively defying it instead of running from it -- she slips her hand down through his grasp with a fluid motion, taking his hand in hers.
"All of this has hurt you... but you mustn't take out your pain on others. There are better ways to make yourself be known--"
-- 'stabbing someone' is one way to make something be known. Certainly Tutu has seen the blood before, but to have it so close -- she gasps, stepping back with those small, graceful steps. "Please, you mustn't kill him!" She cries out, stepping forward again, trying to take Jadeite's wrist much as he took hers -- but gently, so much more gently, as she tries to pull him back to a safer area. "I know that he must be reasonable," she continues, and looks into his eyes with those big, big blues. "Please, Jadeite-san. Won't you dance with me?"
She bears no hatred towards him at all, as she tries to coax him into -- of all things -- a dance. It doesn't matter if he doesn't know how to dance. She'll guide him along.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Duck has used Dance With Me! on Jadeite. COMBAT: Duck has finished attacking. COMBAT: Jadeite narrowly counters Duck's Finisher, Dance With Me!, taking 35 Fatigue damage! Jadeite is Quipped! COMBAT: Jadeite's counterattack, Plan B, partially gets through, doing 7 Mana damage to Duck!
Remember the sky?
The challenge came with the fall of night, when the starry veil was cast across the fading twilight. None of this was visible, however, beneath those spiraling clouds, that flickering lightning. The eye of the dark storm was, of course, the top of Infinity Institute.
And so it is that when it comes, it comes atop the spire.
It is golden, power incarnate. It is visible before it blasts the clouds out of existence, a gradually building pulse of incandescence, one that pierces through in a single beam, then another, then another and another and by the time 'anothers' have finished, there's nothing left of that ominous cover, there is only the light.
It dazzles, it blinds, it burns, it fills the heart with sheer, overwhelming feeling.
On Southern Cross Island, a maiden with dark hair and glasses looks up, squints, and takes a few crisp notes.
In Shimanouchi, a takoyaki stand owner gazes, slack-jawed, eyes wide as wide may be, shading her eyes even as she appreciates, and trembles at, the sight. Her grill begins to smoke, but she pays it no mind.
In Tama, a mother and father pause in their baking to each other close, and a sister and brother stop, mid-swing in their daily kendo practice, to hold each other still closer, hiding from something they do not, cannot understand.
Even after the spots clear from eyes of all colors, the corona remains, exultant in the sky, a cosmic phenomenon of epic proportions. An aurora, but of no borealis. A sunburst, but not of our sun.
It stretches from horizon to horizon, across Tokyo's length and breadth.
It is beautiful.
It is also terrible.
Nephrite sways upon his feet, dark energy still crackling around his hand, his head, his heart. He takes a deep breath, and then another, and then another. A choking laugh rolls out of him, slick with saliva and blood. "You think... you think this is everything I have... even a tithe of my strength..."
He's hyperventilating, now, his eyes wide and bloodshot. Once again he feels sure of himself, of his place in the world. He can feel the taint in his heart caressing him even as it controls him. He knows who he is. He knows what he needs to do.
"I may have underestimated all of you. I acknowledge that, now."
Drawing himself up to his full, impressive height, he tosses his head, sending his slightly charred hair over his shoulder. It's still enough to emit glamour sparkles. But he's composed now, calm, and extremely grim.
To say that he effortlessly catches the Moon Tiara would be a /blatant/ falsehood. It impacts with his palm, and he clenches his teeth, hissing a breath inward, bracing furiously against the pain, the pain of those eyes, of those words. But he has something to fight back with, now. It may not be his choice, but it is his identity.
"I believe in my Queen," he says flatly, his eyes as hollow as his voice.
Flexing his blistered fingers, he drops the disc of holy energy only after it has finished spinning, only after it has become a piece of metal and gemstone once again. And then he gazes up at the glorious sky, turns on his heel, and walks away, his shape fizzling out into shadow as he teleports away.
"I won't forget you," he murmurs, his velvety voice an impossibly close whisper in the ears of Masque Feu, of Kyouko Sakura, of Sailor Moon.
"Any of you."
It isn't a threat; it's a promise.
At the very least, even as she closes that golden eye and watches Eri fall, the Dark Precure doesn't seem to have any intentions of continuing her attack on the Puella Magi. She's not here to kill, after all.
When the Mesozoic Maiden charges at her, Dark Precure prepares... but then pauses as Lucy disappears. It takes a moment, but she realizes just where Lucy has teleported just -barely- in time to shift out of the way. The club misses her by millimeters, and Dark Precure quickly leaps back. "Teleporting? No... just that fast." She brings one hand to her forehead, pressing it lightly. Despite looking like she's brushed everything off so far, she's feeling some of those hits... especially that big triple play.
And then the sky changes. "Hmm. Another time, perhaps." That clear blue eye focuses briefly on Lucy before Dark Precure takes one step back... and disappears in a blur of red and black energy.
Masque Feu grits her teeth as Nephrite whispers at her from further away than she could really conceive at the moment. She breathes out through her nose and swallows somewhat indignantly. One hand pressed to her ribs to staunch her bleeding, she pushes herself unsteadily to her feet, weaving wearily, the mere act of standing enough to fill her with pain - but the act of defiance itself is important to her.
Slowly, she lifts her eyes to the golden sky, her vision momentarily washed away by the incredible golden glow that radiates through the air above her. She lifts an arm and winces, one eye squeezing closed.
Only when her eyes clear can she truly see the awe-inspiring aurora left behind.
Few things can break Masque Feu's composure. This... comes close. Her eyes widen, her breath catching in her throat.
"Masque Feu!" chirps Augustine as he wings through the air, alighting on the girl's shoulder. "Masque Feu, are you alright?!"
It takes her a second to answer. "I... I will survive. But this...." She trails off.
The turtledove, too, looks up at the radiating aurora. His head cocks to one side, then the other. "It almost appears as a miracle, isn't it? Hm. Perhaps it originates from the school itself, but I don't have the information I need to say for certain, Masque Feu. I'll have to consult the Association."
Masque Feu closes her teeth briefly around her bottom lip. "Perhaps so," she murmurs, before she begins to pull herself - with no small amount of effort - towards Sailor Moon. Her steps are slow and laboured, and she winces as she moves, but she nevertheless draws herself up and sets her shoulders, unwilling to let her injuries slow her down or rob her of her dignity.
"Are you hurt?" she asks as she moves into conversation range of the moonbunny-turned-sailor-soldier.
Sailor Moon falls to her knees. She sits back onto her legs, shoulders slumped and expression blank. The soldier watches Nephrite as he goes, staring at his eyes. They're the most interesting thing about him. They look so different from his words.
It's the first time Usagi has seen an adult look like that. Lost, maybe. Is that a good word for it?
When the general disappears, her gaze falls to the entirely unglowing tiara resting in the grass. She's still watching it when Masque Feu speaks to her.
Usagi blinks rapidly, twisting to look up at the other girl. "What?" She leans to the side, looking past Feu, eyes reflecting the inscrutable sunburst rising from the tower. "What's happening?" she asks, dreamily.
Kyouko says nothing, simply standing and gazing up into the sky and clenching her jaw. She was pretty beat up, but the fight was far from her thoughts at the moment. Instead she was consumed with dread and resolve. If that...thing...in the air isn't going anywhere, it could change the rules of the game, and that could be catastrophic.
Tearing her attention back down to earth, the battle haze slowly clears, and she remembers a thought she'd automatically pushed to the periphery in battle.
Cursing softly, she runs to Eri's side, examining her injuries herself. Kneeling down, she produces a piece of sparkling pocky that seems magical in nature, and crumbles it into a powder, gently feeding the unconscious girl some crumbs.
COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has used Breaking Bread on Eri Shimanouchi. COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has finished attacking. COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi accepts Kyouko Sakura's Breaking Bread, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Eri Shimanouchi is unable to keep fighting! Empower applied to Eri Shimanouchi! Cleanse! All of Eri Shimanouchi's debuffs are cleared!
Eri weakly tries to tell Rune, "Don't Rune-chan.." but the protest is rather weak. She's for the most part out as Rune ferries her away from the battle. On the edge of consciousness, she barely manages to register the phenomena of... she has no idea what's going on, but it's beautiful. And then she passes out...
Only to wake up on the ground to Kyouko stuffing crumbs of sparkling pocky down her throat.
She gags initially, but none of it comes out because well... it was actually pretty good! She whispers very softly, "K-Kyouko-san?"
....this was certainly one of the weirder things she'd awakened to!
Somehow Masque Feu manages to look terribly dignified and serious despite having a bloodstain running down the front of her tabard, more running from a corner of her mouth and an indignant-looking turtledove on her shoulder for good measure.
She follows Usagi's look; Augustine does too. Her lips draw together in a tight line, shoulders rising a little as she watches the aurora bloom through the sky.
"I... don't know," she admits. She hates to admit it. She does not like to appear lacking in any area. "The barrier around the school cleared the sky, and when it passed this light was left behind. I do not... know why it is not going away."
"I'm doing it anyway! Yell at me later, but I'm not going to weigh your life against Infinity's defenses and act like there's ever a reason to just leave you! You mean too much to me!" Princess Runealy insists to Eri, then stares skyward, gasping in a mix of dismay and shock as magic from the sky strikes again and again! The air above them is so different now. Different enough that Dark Precure isn't pursuing, isn't attacking her or Eri or even Lucy; their 'mirror image' warps out. "Was she frightened of what just happened, or did she achieve what she wanted...?" An idle question, one that might not have immediate answers. They might not even be that important right now, not with Eri in hand. "Lucy! Whatever's happened is already done, there's not much more we can do here! Unless you have somewhere you need to be right now, please come with us!" Not 'with me', but with 'us.' Rune does not wish to wander into an ambush as the sole person watching over Eri; she's pleading for safety in numbers.
Then her voice softens, looking down to her hurt friend. "We're leaving right now. Tell me where you want to go to be safe. Wherever it is, anywhere at all, we'll get you there. /Anywhere./"
Kyouko's arrival draws a raised eye, but Runealy allows it upon noticing a key detail about the spearfighter's attire. "...Thank you, whoever you are. If you want to come with us, please do." Polite, but sincere; having one more companion along to watch out for Eri would be very nice indeed. "Otherwise, what you've done for Eri," the bread, "is a great help already and I won't forget it!"
Lucy's strategy has paid off, and although she hasn't quite managed to hit Dark Precure, she has her right where she wanted. She's ready to fight three times as hard for Eri and Runealy's sake, and channel the divine power within her magic stone right here and now, until--
The sky lights up, so, so beautiful. Lucy had been preparing herself for a fateful cosmic phenomenon... but this can't be it. In fact, it seems like the exact opposite of what she'd been expecting. All thoughts of strategy or righteous anger fade away for a moment... as it becomes very hard not to look up, even for the briefest of moments.
In that moment, Dark Precure takes the opportunity to postpone their battle and disappear. "Wait!" Lucy takes a few steps forward, not really sure why, but no, her opponent is gone. In fact, their other enemies appear to be retreating too. "Who was that girl?" the Maiden muses, as she looks up again, unsure whether to be awestruck, inspired, terrified, or all of these at once.
But until she finds out, she's concerned for her friends' safety, and hears Runealy's voice. "Yes!" And soon, she's by her fallen friend's side, along with the princess and... some weird girl she doesn't know, who seems to have healing handled in her own... weird way. It's probably better she heal than Lucy does, however. Her own method sort of upsets Eri.
Kyouko gently presses her index finger to Eri's lips. "Shh. Don't talk. Rest. Keep eating, there's more where that came from." Straightening up, she glances at Runealy, looking a little tired. "I'll stick around for as long as it takes to ensure that she's somewhere that she can recover.
Her gaze shifts to Lucy. She can tell when she's being sized up, and it's pretty obvious that neither of the other two know what to make of her. It didn't concern her much, she could still fight if she needed to.
Well-satisfied at the apparent defeat of Diva Heart, Jadeite focuses on Tutu. He suspects that she is dead or crippled, and does not imagine she shall vex the forces of evil again.
But Tutu, while she does not resist physically, resists spiritually, and this time Jadeite can barely drain a drop of energy from her. "You," he growls, "you know nothing of sacrifice for a greater cause. My /feelings/ mean nothing to this. And when the Queen rises, it will be with your own energy empowering--"
He freezes as a ruthless whisper reaches his ears, his eyes going wide with fear. "You again," he murmurs, with no smugness this time. He twists around, still holding Duck's wrist, trying to slip out of the way of the dagger. His hand claps down on Shiori's, too late, finding it only when the dagger has already punctured him. "Kkch..." He glares at her, teeth clamped, not hearing Tutu anymore. The dagger is several inches into his side, but he's kept it from being a fatal blow.
"A coward's blow," he accuses, but there's a smile. "Perhaps you have some potential after all." Lifting his palm, he stiffens his wrist against the recoil as he prepares to pepper her with the same sharp blasts of force as before, this time at point blank range.
But Duck's admonition to Shiori draws a sharp burst of anger, and something in her motion is distracting. "Don't try and protect me, Egg. You..." His irises suddenly tremble, his mouth opening in a sort of fascinated terror, as she begins to dance. "What is this? Magic?" he demands, resisting, planting his feet, but his will begins to crumble. "Fine!" he snaps finally, and one foot slides out, one arm unfurls elegantly, and he joints the dance. "Dance to your death." Great black streamers of energy are being dragged from Princess Tutu every second she stays near him. His boots are surprisingly agile, at least under Tutu's influence.
"Stop it," he orders, disturbed, voice ragged. There's something martial in his dance; he's the Nutcracker tonight, and the precision of his motions is stern. He follows Duck's lead completely, even as he drains her constantly. She'll drop soon enough, he knows. But though she will die in a minute, he's not sure if he can last that long, before... before...
He rips his hand away from hers, wiping his eye with a sleeve. "Damn you? What--wh-what did you do?" The energy drain cuts off, and Jadeite's hands are quivering, his shoulders twitching. He glances around him. "The... the retreat." He looks back at Tutu for a moment, eyes filled with hate, and makes a mighty leap, sailing through the air to the portal his fellows are fleeing from.
As Jadeite vanishes, and things return to normal, Diva Heart comes staggering out of the front of Starbooks, holding her side and grimacing. She tromps across the street, grimacing all the way, and only when she's reached where the battle was taking place and done a slow 360-degree turn does she throw her head back and shout, "WHERE DID HE GO?!"
Face flushed red with frustration, she whirls on Shiori and proceeds to take that crap all right out on her. "I told you to leave him to me!" she shouts, hands balled into fists at her side. "All you did was get in my way and hit me with stupid flowers!!"
"Me again," Shiori answers, and she /is/ a little smug this time. Her eyes narrow at his accusation, even as Jadeite might notice that behind the anger and the viciousness is a tiny glow that comes from some, /any/ praise. It hlds her for a moment, but she is not blasted for her trouble--instead, Duck calls to her... and the Princess's words /would/ get some sort of response.
But for a few moment, Shiori too is mesmerized by the magic of the dance, by the way that it can happen even in the wake of all this. She shakes her head, sees the draining happening, sees...
The sky. "What...?"
It's still there? It's--no, that doesn't matter, that's not important. Jadeite is leaping away, and Shiori stares after, "No--get /back/ here you--!"
"And /you/! Are you stupid or just crazy? He was killing you, and you got in my--"
Diva Heart approaches and starts taking things out on her, and Shiori in return--
Shiori lifts her blood-covered dagger, not threateningly, but just as she talks right back. It gleams in the light. It drips. "/Me/!? What useless brat got herself thrown into a /building/!? Who do you think you are!? That bounty's /mine/!"
Sailor Moon takes Feu's answer as all there is to know on the subject. She nods mutely, then falls forward onto her hands, crawling the few feet over to reach her tiara.
There, she sits down again, turning the gem-set circlet over and over in her hands.
Will it still work?
Diva Heart sees the knife, opens her mouth, closes her mouth, looks at Shiori's forehead, opens her mouth, closes her mouth, and finally demands, as if every other issue is forgotten, "Why is your knife all bloody if you didn't blade?"
Beat. "Why do you have a knife?!" she shouts, recoiling into a ridiculous anime shock pose, her pigtails shooting up to stand on end.
Eri's eyes grow comically wide as Kyouko puts her finger to her lips, but she doesn't protest. When Kyouko Sakura tells Eri to rest, she rests. Even if they were on better terms there's still just a little bit of fear and doubt in the back of her mind. And so she does, chewing on the magical pockey, and concentrating on healing herself, as her body takes on a faint coruscating glow. There are several points where her concentration slips purely because Shiori and Diva Heart are being /very/ loud.
.....but it doesn't take very long. The light of the aurora is converted to biomechanical energy. Her body utilizes that energy with frightening speed, supercharged by it. Her wounds fade in a matter of minutes, at the end of which the glow fades and she opens her eyes, "That was.. unusual. Usually it takes a few hours when I'm injured to that extent. Um.." She then looks between her 'saviors', "Thanks, Rune-chan, Kyouko-san."
"Thank you," a gasping-toned, relieved response from Princess Runealy to Kyouko. "As soon as she's safe, I'll answer anything you want to know. ...As best as I can, at least." A glance to the sky, "I'm as confused as anyone else about that. You can have my name and phone number and where to find me, though.
Then... then Eri is /fine./ Inexplicably mended and able to stand. Runealy continues to hold on to her, but will release Eri if asked or if Eri outright tries to slip free, baffled but thankful all the same about this development. ...And pleased when Eri offers gratitude. "Sure. Eri, I'm really glad you're okay! Let's... let's find somewhere safe, alright? We can talk this over, figure out what we're going to do. Anywhere you'd like."
"Whatever," Shiori replies to Duck, though she has to look away--those eyes, something about that quiet insistence... it's wounding. She feels... ashamed of something, and that only makes her angrier.
"Shut up!--and you! What do you mean, didn't blade? What does that even--"
Recoil. ...Of course. Shiori looms about as well as a frail-looking thin girl can loom over a wrestler, "It's my weapon. I use it to fight monsters? Some of this has to be familiar to you. Unless you just like getting all touchy-feely with them, in which case you really don't need magic, you just need to shorten your skirt a little."
Shiori doesn't look for a duck. Instead, she just continues, "Useless! You could've held him down, or actually hit him, or /something/, but no, you just had to get up in there and in the way--well, you went for glory and you got /nothing/. Nothing! Nothing, just like what's in that empty little head of yours! What's wrong with you?"
"I appreciate that, I'd like all that info." And she did. Even if she didn't think up any questions, the intelligence would be very valuable." But Eri's reactions to the noise soon consumed her attention. She was a hair's width from storming over to the pair and screaming at them to shut up (that that probably wouldn't help reduce the noise didn't immediately occur to her) when she noticed the signs of an unnatural return to health.
Her relief and amazement are qualified by a terrible confirmation. That thing in the sky was messing with the natural order, and creating a state in which just about anything might happen. To Kyouko, that is the worst possible condition for her ecology.
Pushing broader concerns aside, she returns her attention to Eri. "Thank her more than me. She carried you to safety, I just gave you a treat."
"Why do you fight monsters with a knife?!" Diva Heart shouts in exasperation. "You're just as bad as that girl with the guns! And /I'm/ not the one who let the bad guy get away! Thanks for shooting flowers and vines and stupid plants everywhere, it was /really helpful!/"
"Why don't you and the other plant girl go team up, you can be the LEAST OVER TAG TEAM EVER!!" Diva Heart shouts, thrusting an accusing finger at Shiori.
Eri Shimanouchi stands up, stretching her aching limbs by moving them in circles momentarily. Then she motions for Kyouko and Rune to follow her as she heads towards the entrance of Infinity. On the way she idly speaks to Diva Heart, "....What you just said doesn't even make sense. Did you take another chair to the head?"
...She doesn't even stop walking, she really could use some Starbooks at the moment, and she imagined Kyouko could too. Hopefully even the strange portents caused by the astrological phenomena and the siege of the Institute didn't scare off the barristas.
The teleporting surprise attacks continue: Sailor Moon comes out of nowhere and wraps her arms around Shiori, leaning into the older girl because standing is difficult.
"Shiori you're okay," she sobs, not actually crying but almost. "Those men--I think I know who they are!"
Usagi is about an inch and a half away from having her stomach intimately introduced to True Feelings.
The shorter girl hangs there for a moment, and then looks over to Diva Heart with wide, shimmering eyes. "Um. Sorry. Am I interrupting something? I'm glad you're okay too."
Runealy releases Eri, quick to follow her inside. The situation at hand is worrying, but at least there will be time for questions soon; Eri is okay, and they've got Lucy and Kyouko along too. Starbooks seems like as good a place as any for this impromptu team to go.
"Because that's what my magic gave me?? What's wrong with a dagger?" Immediately somewhat defensive, Shiori's anger bubble deflates very slightly as she finds herself faced with that question. "Wait--how did you not let him get away!? He totally took you down! You're just--"
Oof. Suddenly Shiori is hugged out of more or less nowhere, and the older girl blinks a moment in response--and right after that notices that her dagger is uhhh a little too close. "Sailor Moon!" she says in rsponse, and Diva Heart may notice that in the span of a moment Shiori's entire demeanor changes--where she was bound up in fury and frustration and shouting, now she is gentle, retiring, almost shy.
"Of course--I mean, it was hard, but we did it, didn't we? I--wait, you do? What do you know?"
There's another pause. ....Shiori slips her dagger behind her back and hopefully only bleeds on Usagi a little. "No, no, there's nothing to worry about. I'm sorry I couldn't help you more," Shiori says to Diva Heart.
Her hackles raise a bit, her muscles tensing up. She's never been inside Infinity, it's always been too risky. But then again...after what just occurred, she should have some decent credit around here.
Scratching her butt, she gives a glance to Sailor Moon. Though they fought together tonight, it seemed they wouldn't be meeting tonight. Still, she made a mental note as they got on their way.
"UGH SHUT UP!!" Diva Heart shouts after Eri, her face flushed solid red. "GO PLAY WITH YOUR STUPID TREES!!" She opens her mouth to say more, and then--
Diva Heart looks from Shiori to Sailor Moon and back, as if the presence of the latter had just turned the former into a werewolf, her right eyebrow cocked in a picture-perfect People's Eyebrow.
Oh this bitch be /crazy./
She just grunts in response to Shiori, and then turns her attention fully to Sailor Moon. This girl is... man, she might even be as fat as Usagi from school. Gross. "So what are they?" she demands. "Stop crying! Just because they won once doesn't mean they win forever. If I can get that guy one-on-one, I'll definitely beat him," she insists, balling one hand into a fist and lifting her hand up like she was pumping her arm, but without the... pump... part.
Sailor Moon's sailor suit is burnt, ripped, blasted, and grass stained. A little blood goes unnoticed. She remains clinging to Shiori, because life is easier to handle when you have someone to hold on to.
From her new hideout, Usagi watches Diva warily. "I'm not crying!" She's pretty much crying. "Are you, um, talking about wrestling, or real fighting?"
The soldier looks back up to Shiori, lower lip quivering. "They're from the Dark Kingdom! I don't know who their queen is. We just call them 'the enemy.' They're looking for something precious--and if they find it, they'll end the world."
Lip quivering intensifies.
"/And one of them hurt Madoka while she was trying to enjoy a concert./"
"...D-don't let it get to you, she's just like that," Shiori says to Usagi abut how awful Diva Heart is being, just truly awful. She does actually cling in return a little, but only a little. "And I never know what she's talking about."
Arm pump or not!!
"Wait.. That's it? So were they looking for it here, or something...?" Madoka?? "That's--oh, that's... Um, I'm sorry, then. I wish I could've done something about him while he was here, but..." She can't quite choke out what she's inclined to say, though, not today.
"Why don't we get out of here before someone shows up...? I don't want any more trouble, right?"
This is a lie. Shiori wants a lot more trouble. Right now.
They hurt Madoka?!?!
"Who?" Diva Heart asks, giving Sailor Moon a blank, uncaring look.
"They're also super obsessed with draining people's energy for some reason," Sailor Moon continues, speaking quickly to address Shiori's possible displeasure. "And--and a friend of mine who I think I trust said they were so evil they don't deserve to live on Earth."
Luna's got claws.
The soldier clutches the fabric of Shiori's outfit, staring back up at the ominous light show. "I don't think they were expecting us to stop them like we did," she murmurs. The light holds her attention for a second longer, and then nods. "You're right. The last time I saw cops, they were really angry. Like, irrationally angry. I was helping!"
"What do they want with people's energy?" Shiori asks rhetorically, perhaps as much because it sounds important as anything. It barely matters though, since Usagi keeps going, and she mentions what a friend says, an important friend, who...
"...They seem pretty evil," she agrees, though she gets a bit of a distant look in her eye as she said it. "I..."
Shaking her head, she continues quickly, "What they think doesn't matter, but it's still pretty inconvenient, right? Besides, keeping all this secrecy makes things a little more romantic, more fun, right? It'll be okay!"
Shiori still doesn't know who Madoka is but she's presumably a wonderful person because Usagi likes her.
"You should come too," she says to Diva Heart, and pulls Shiori a little in the 'away' direction, not botheirng to look up at the strange thing in the sky anymore.
"What? Who cares about it being romantic?" Diva Heart demands, rolling her eyes. She drags her heels, letting Sailor Moon and Shiori wander off... and then, after a few awkward seconds, rushes after them. "Fine, I'll come too!!"
She spends the whole time nattering about American professional wrestling. It is weird and alienating.
"You're right," Sailor Moon agrees, sounding more and more tired. She lets Shiori lead her away, because that seems like the best idea. "It is romantic, I guess. I wonder if any of them will turn into party members after being defeated. Maybe we have to figure out a secret path."
She frowns. "It's a little more difficult figuring out when to use the talk command in real life."
Then, she learns everything about professional wrestling and she's pretty sure it could also be related to RPGs.
Shiori, too, is tired, but she doesn't show it. Instead, she shakes her head at Diva Heart and goes on without her at first, instead just replying, "No. I mean, we could never be on the same wavelength as them." She looks forward to the path ahead, and thinks back to swinging her weapon. "It's not like I could find any sort of connection with someone like that." His taunts ring past, again. "...Not like...
Diva Heart rescues her. Shiori ends up being a lot quieter through the conversation, as she spends the next length of time pretending she cares even a tiny bit about wrestling.