2014-08-01 - Second Fiddle's Sorrow

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Title: Second Fiddle's Sorrow

A Cardiax has infested an Infinity student of some renown - and there's a new Siren on the scene. Are the sirens of North and East allies, or enemies, or rivals?


La Sirene du Nord, La Sirene de l'Est
GM: Hayato Nishi


Searrs Symphony Hall

OOC - IC Date:

20 February 2014 - 8/1/2014

<Pose Tracker> Hayato Nishi [None] has posed.


"This is going to be great, Suzuki-sempai! We're all looking forward to your campaign!"

A pre-midterm party in one of Infinity's many clubrooms, host to an eleventh grade student and several of her juniors from the music club. A banner, stretched out over a small stage, reads 'Suzuki for President'; the usual musical paraphernalia has been put to one side to allow a large table with snacks and a punch bowl.

Rin Suzuki, the guest of honor, pours herself a glass of punch. "I just want to make sure everyone gets a chance to shine - and we all know it's hard to compete with Kaioh-san around here."

"What? Of course not, you've got just as much talent as she does!"

Smiling slightly, Rin takes a swig of punch, and coughs. Tangier than usual, perhaps?...


An open-air amphitheatre, on this sunny day, is host to a talented soloist. Classmates and bystanders alike stop to take in the furiously fast fiddling going on - classical European music, Irish jigs, all manner of tunes meant to show off the musician's skill and dexterity.

Finishing a set, sweat on her brow, Rin stops to take a bow with a grin as the applause rises. Several of her friends run up as she takes a step back from the music stand, practically beaming.

"Suzuki-san, that was - I've never heard you play like that!"

"Whatever happened to only wanting to play backup, you should do this more often!"

Rin, for her part, grins wildly. "I should, shouldn't I? I don't know what I was worrying about, this is grea-"

There's a single beat of something pulsing - and still beaming, Rin collapses on the stage. A panicked shout rises up, audience members rising in concern - and then the screaming intensifies, as a wild windstorm rises up out of nowhere. From a perfectly calm day, the air is abruptly more like a tornado or even hurricane - chairs go flying in all directions, the very walls creak, and stirred-up dust obscures sight.

It's not limited to the amphitheatre - while the city at large isn't in peril yet, the storm is visible from some distance around. Howling winds, billowing dust, nothing even remotely natural about it...

COMBAT: Hayato Nishi transforms into Youma Form Cardiax Rin!
COMBAT: Hayato Nishi has fully healed himself. He is now ready to take on 2 opponents!

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"They're here again," Batiste says from the window of Nori Ankou's dorm room.

Rubbing her eyes, Nori opens the sash - and gazes out at the distant speck on the horizon. She does not whine or make further remarks, for the scent of a storm on that horizon is familiar.

"I thought you said they went all around the world," Nori says, with faint trepidation. "Shouldn't they be gone from here for a while after that?"

"There are five of them," Batiste says. "And they don't cooperate, really. Are you ready?"


Nori holds the mirror aloft, the rippling, silver-limned energies of the Sea of Tears' ambiance washing over her, turning her clothing from lacy bedthings to a rugged and stylish outer coat/dress. Frills form, lace blossoms, color bleeds from her eyes into her bangs, and in the end, a dainty cap lands atop her hair, pinning itself into place.

Thus imbued, she does not dally. La Sirene du Nord vaults out of her window, taking advantage of the possibility of a running start to vault over half the campus in a single tremendous leap. (And almost smashing into the chapel window, but shhh.) Batiste clings to her coattails, hustling into a pocket as she makes her way over rooftop and tree towards the haunted, storm-wracked melodies.

What lies ahead for du Nord? It is a mystery - but, she tells herself, with the aid of her dear friend and cousin, and the wit, luck and pluck she's gained, surely she'll be able to handle it alone. "And if that Cardiax worm has stolen all of that person's tears," she says aloud, "I'll just take them back myself!"

Surely it will be that simple!

COMBAT: Nori Ankou transforms into La Sirene du Nord!

<Pose Tracker> Mizuki Aleksandrova [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

It's a swell and splendid sunny day, the heat not yet oppressive and the humidity falling short of the mark required to soak an unsuspecting student from head to toe for their transgressions of going outdoors. Perfect. Kids are outside playing, the sharp report of baseball upon bat rings across the school grounds, a victorious mark of the springtime of youth. The cheers from the dugouts echo soon after it. Koshien, the dream...!

Absolutely none of this applies to Mizuki Aleksandrova, who sits on a posture-correcting medicine ball with both hands gliding across a keyboard. The droning hum of the air conditioning and the steady scrape of pages flipping are all she has, for a time, occasionally pausing to flip one of those pages backwards to double-check something.

"Mizu. Girl. We need to talk."

The voice doesn't come from behind her, really, it comes from her pocket. The head of a penguin pops out. Jean-Luc sounds disapproving, in that jovial kind of a way. "You're working hard, it's great, you're a star. Have you stopped to smell the flowers, look outside? Lately?"

The lilac-haired girl frowns and tugs the earphones out, having faintly heard her companion talking over the piano softly ringing in her ears. "I am sorry, what was that? I was concentrat...ing..."

Penguins cannot really smile, or grin, nor is this really an occasion where it's warranted even if they could. Mizuki's face twists into a panicked kind of a frown as she looks outside, to see the school grounds replaced by some kind of typhooning dust storm right out of Mad Max.

There's a surreptious clearing of the throat. The penguin returns into her pocket, where it's cozy. "A siren needs to keep an eye out, that's all I'm saying."

Mizuki groans with effort as she shoulders shut the door to the library roof, hair whipped about wildly in the storm. She tiptoes towards the edge, cupping her eyes and trying to see where, if anywhere, the chaos is coming from. Jean-luc sighs with disappointment, from her position in her pocket, and holds his tongue. For now.

<Pose Tracker> Hayato Nishi [None] has posed.

The theatre has, for the most part, been abandoned. A mystical windstorm tossing furniture everywhere tends to make for an inhospitable environment, and no one with any sense is still standing. Several civilians seem to have been knocked out by the wind's wrath - including Rin Suzuki, unconscious on the stage.

Somehow, she's also standing on the stage. Dressed in her Infinity Institute school uniform, holding her fiddle in one hand, raising her bow to feel the swirl of the wind with the other. She stands alone, with no patron to listen.

No one, that is, until La Sirene du Nord makes her way into the theatre. The wind is loud - and yet, somehow, Rin's voice cuts through it without trouble. "Welcome to my performance. I'm afraid tonight's is a solo piece; no one backing me up, no one I'm backing up. Just me and my fiddle."

She plays a short strain, and bows slightly - then holds up a hand to feel the storm again. "I'm not sure I care for having an audience, though. With this wind, it can be just me and my music...would you care to leave?"

From without, the storm howls - if one grows close enough, one can just barely hear the fiddling within. But that storm is harsh...

COMBAT: Hayato Nishi has used Taking The Stage on Hayato Nishi.
COMBAT: Hayato Nishi accepts Hayato Nishi's Taking The Stage, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Accelerate and Surge applied to Hayato Nishi!  

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

La Sirene du Nord braves the storm, perhaps visible going into it. She doesn't notice Mizuki. Why would she? (She is not the most worry-wartish sort of girl.)

Braving through the storm of chairs and howling winds, she puts a hand to brace her cap down - and there, nearer to the center, are victims. The innocent - and standing on the stage, one of those innocents, duplicated.

So that's who it is, she thinks. Batiste leaps from her coat pocket, standing on a chair back - he levers himself up, his ribboned bowtie fluttering slightly in the wind.

"I would not care to leave," la Sirene du Nord states, one hand going on her hip. "If you're playing just for yourself, why do you need to make all of this fuss? Being private's all well and good, but carrying on like this - it seems you want to be private in a very public way!"

She throws one hand forwards, fingers splayed as her eyes narrow, pale in their dark and sallow circles. "But you know, I don't think you're really here for thaaaaaaaat--" And she raises her voice, and it harmonizes with the violin notes, and there is a sudden rising as if an amplifier had turned on -

But, despite being a Siren, du Nord claps her mouth shut with an audible click of her teeth. Still, she thinks, it felt good, even if the noise was a little embarrasing.

COMBAT: Nori Ankou has used Lovely Scream on Hayato Nishi.
COMBAT: Hayato Nishi fails to counter Nori Ankou's Lovely Scream, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Nori Ankou is Psyched!  
COMBAT: Hayato Nishi's counterattack, Perpetual Pianissimo, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Nori Ankou!  

<Pose Tracker> Mizuki Aleksandrova [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

For a penguin small enough to fit in a girl's pocket, Jean-Luc has a kind of playful rasp to his tone that wouldn't sound out of place in an old gangster movie. With a French twist. Skillfully, he vacates Mizuki's jacket, little wings flapping for emphasis with his words. "You know, this is one of those Siren things." he stresses, drawing out the 'i' in the word as the Aleksandrova girl's attempts to puzzle things out from on-high go absolutely nowhere fast. "You and the Mother, you know, swore some things. You're gonna have to look at it with a different set of eyes, girl, if you know what I mean. Come on."

The mirror slides out of Mizuki's sleeve and into her palm. Jet black and beautifully clear, in contrast to the befuddling storm surrounding them. It looms large in her vision, a very physical sign of what she agreed upon, however scary it may seem. "Is that what I should do?" she asks of Jean-Luc. Her voice isn't small, though it is certainly a little nervous. A little penguin sigh floats up from her shoulder, but before he can correct her, she shakes her head. "No, I know. You can't say, can you? It's against the... the rules, or whatever."

The mirror's gleam glows brighter--blinding, even, catching the light of the sun through the storm. It reflects, refracts, shatters into a thousand bleeding points of brilliance. Mizuki holds her breath. She's not used to this part. She's only done it a few times, enough to count on one hand.

But she does it all the same, swallowing the nervous quiver in her throat. Jean-Luc has only once actually told her to make the change, and that was an issue of practice. This, obviously, is not practice. Mizuki holds the mirror aloft, high above her head, and opens her mouth. But the wind snakes the words from her mouth, and her hair flaps inbetween in her lips, as does the sand. It's hard, being a magical girl.

The mirror understands, at least, and the lights burst forth from their cage of obsidian and ensnare poor Mizuki like a loving blanket of pleasant, cool clouds. She vanishes beneath them as the storm within a storm gathers, building to a corona of stark whites and blues one mote at a time, hand still held high--and then as quickly as it began, it ends. The brightness scatters from a single bright point to a swirling blizzard, blowing counter to the raging storm encasing the school.

Mizuki Aleksandrova is gone, when the lights leave her. In her place is that ominous figure, clad in dark mariner's jacket and darker leathers beneath. Crowned with an enormous tricorner hat, and billowing white scarf. A figure completely and utterly out of place atop the Infinity Institute's library roof: La Sirene de l'Est.

"See? No big deal at all. I don't know how you can see, with that hat on, but that's a step in the right direction. Get moving, girl."

Ideally, the other Siren hasn't noticed her, because she's a whole step behind in the process. But she's on the move, now, departing from the rooftop towards the heart of the storm with dramatic, building-crossing leaps.

COMBAT: Mizuki Aleksandrova transforms into La Sirene de l'Est!

<Pose Tracker> Hayato Nishi [None] has posed.

Rin continues smiling, even as la Sirene du Nord refuses her. It's only when the scream comes out that she frowns - and her attempt to drown it out with her own tune is met with utter failure. The bow falls to the ground as one hand comes up to clasp at her ear.

Once the sonic assault ends - of its originator's accord - Rin stoops to pick up the bow. "I'm not the one making a fuss. It's my classmates. My so-called 'friends'." She gestures with the bow, indicating a few of those knocked out by flying debris. "They laud my talents, encourage me to play, set up occasions for me to show off. But..."

She looks at the fiddle, fury crossing her face. "Good as I am, I can't keep up. I've seen the best of the best, and there's no way I can match them. I want to just enjoy my music in peace, but they keep on forcing me to keep up with those I can never match..."

The wind howls, whipping around, tearing at the curtains of the stage, thrashing out against everything around. "In face of true talent, who has any hope of matching up?!"

COMBAT: Hayato Nishi has used Only Second Rate on Nori Ankou.
COMBAT: Hayato Nishi has used Only Second Rate on La Sirene de l'Est.
COMBAT: Nori Ankou narrowly dodges Hayato Nishi's Only Second Rate, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Nori Ankou is Quipped!  Nori Ankou is Taunted!  
COMBAT: La Sirene de l'Est narrowly braces Hayato Nishi's Only Second Rate, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene de l'Est is Quipped!  La Sirene de l'Est's Block ability activates!  La Sirene de l'Est's Parry ability activates!  

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

La Sirene du Nord looks towards the fallen. She slides a hand behind her hair as she says in reply, "Foolish girl. Don't you know what they're doing? They aren't trying to mock you or to force you to do things! They're -"

Du Nord would have given a heartwarming speech that might have made Madoka Kaname proud, something inspiring and warm despite her gothically dark exterior.

But everything goes off the rails.

Her certainty is brought to a crashing halt by the arrival, not of the Cardiax, but by the presence of the elegantly leaping La Sirene de l'Est. "Wh - what - who -?!" she says, throwing up a hand to point towards her, the other one hiding her mouth and the lower half of her face in lacy cuffs as she stammers, "Who are you, who - why are you here!? You -"

She doesn't recognize, of course, the gray-haired girl she'd met before... but you can't really hide that unique texture of a silvery and storm-wracked spirit, however gentle you might be.

From his chair, Batiste raises a paw in silent greeting to Jean-Luc.

And then the storm winds rise. "Kyaaah!!" du Nord says as she's driven to the side, smashing against a chair and crunching herself downwards. "Stop it! Ugh - Whoever you are, new girl!! Do you know how to fight a Cardiax?!"

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de l'Est [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

"I can see--there. Something's happening there."

The Easternmost Siren announces what she can see to Jean-Luc, who is effectively her handler for this mission. She falls gracefully from quite the height towards the epicentre of the tempest around the school, recognizing the shape of people, though the individual details of those down there. "Good, good." he returns, comfortable beneath the stiff collar. He remains perched safely, somehow, despite the incoming turbulence. "Buckle up, kiddo, it's going to get bumpy, but I've got faith in you. Do what you do, don't panic, right?"

"Eh? Panic?"

De l'Est turns her head to look at Jean-Luc, which is hard since he's on her shoulder, and then the winds reach her. They're raw, hard, raking across her body like a jetstream full of bricks. But she does not tumble, no, she rolls with the impact and more to the point, rolls straight through an incoming chair that flings into her path. The Siren swats at it with one arm, misjudging her own strength, and sends the folding seat careening into the air again with a terrible noise. It bruises, through the layers of leather, and stings.

But she lands! La Sirene de l'Est lands, in a swirl of her coat and an explosion of dust and dirt, before Rin. Even if the other Siren, who she only now realises is /not/ an innocent bystander, is in the midst of a dynamic speech. She's had this one ready since she took flight, and levels an accusatory finger at the poor, possessed musician. "That's enough! Can't you see you're... only... hurting...?"

The Siren with the fantastic hat and the striking getup turns her head to look at the ... other Siren. There's a moment of silence that lasts for too long, and her arm drops. "New... girl? Cardiax? Who are you!?" she demands of du Nord, uncertain whether she's friend or foe.

The chair, once lost to the winds, finally finds a downwards trajectory and a gale to catch. It spins downwards towards the ampitheatre, those who inhabit it, and one Cardiax-possessed musician.

COMBAT: La Sirene de l'Est has used I Meant To Do That on Hayato Nishi.
COMBAT: Hayato Nishi fails to dodge La Sirene de l'Est's I Meant To Do That, taking 19 Fatigue damage!  

<Pose Tracker> Hayato Nishi [None] has posed.

Alone in the storm, Rin Suzuki - or at least something that appears to be her - contorts her face into a snarl. "They can't keep up - none of us can keep up, and they know that. So they put all their hopes in me, a thousand wishes weighing me down - so that I can be their champion against the geniuses!" She gestures dramatically with the fiddle's bow, pointing at Nord then Est, and opens her mouth to say something else-

And then a chair plummets from above, slamming into her back.

It takes a moment for her to recover - and in a fury, she kicks the chair out of her way, clear to the back of the room. Beginning to play again, she starts speaking above the song and storm, voice growing louder every moment. "It's the same for you, isn't it? Someone who can't do anything, begging you to do something even though you can't do it either! 'Oh, you should put on a concert!' 'Run for class president, I'm sure you'll win!'"

The music is incoherent now, more fury than elegance. "And all I can do is smile and nod! Just keep in the background while the likes of Kaioh take the spotlight, all the time knowing that I CAN'T KEEP UP!"

Her shout, her playing, and her storm roar out all at once - a solid wave of fury to shake the entire stage. And yet, she plays on.

COMBAT: Hayato Nishi has used Crescendo Storm on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Hayato Nishi has used Crescendo Storm on La Sirene de l'Est.
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord narrowly braces Hayato Nishi's Crescendo Storm, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  La Sirene du Nord's Block ability activates!  La Sirene du Nord's Parry ability activates!  
COMBAT: La Sirene de l'Est fails to counter Hayato Nishi's Crescendo Storm, taking 25 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
COMBAT: La Sirene de l'Est's counterattack, Weather the Storm, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Hayato Nishi!  

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"I am la Sirene du Nord! I herald the north wind that blows cold and constant over the Sea of Tears WHO ARE YOU? Are you my cousin??" du Nord exclaims. Batiste covers his face with his paws.

The storm winds keep blowing, even as the Cardiax keeps speaking.

"Did you choose to go with keeping your bill shut, eh, Jean-luc?" Batiste calls, even as he finds a relatively safe spot in one of the auditorium seats. This relationship is mysterious.

"This creature is a Cardiax! Do you know nothing?!" la Sirene yells over the wind. "Listen! Slip past it and don't engage it in battle - protect that girl on stage! Up there, the one who's looking like it!" Is it wise to tell them your strategy? Well, du Nord's action plan is, of course, to gather all the glory to herself, so maybe so.

"I, in the meantime, will brace it - and bring its tears to the bursting point!" And with this, du Nord vaults into the air, her skirts billowing in the wind as she rises up, catching the wind - seeming to ride it for a moment. She descends downwards, aiming for the stage proper.

"Miserable creature...! Listen to your words. Your friends encourage you - they see something in you that you may not. Do you feel that it is only worth doing something if you can be the best there is, like no one ever was?"

With this she lands on the lip of the stage, leaning forwards to balance properly. "To work hard is the real test! Not to be the best, just because!" du Nord takes one step forwards, with a dramatic twist of her neck and the toss of her hair.

Hopefully, the Cardiax won't realize she's standing still quite close to the edge of the orchestra seats.

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Before I Leave Your Eyes on Hayato Nishi.
COMBAT: Hayato Nishi narrowly counters La Sirene du Nord's Before I Leave Your Eyes, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Hayato Nishi is Quipped!  Hayato Nishi's Reverse ability activates!  Hayato Nishi's Tactician ability activates!  
COMBAT: Hayato Nishi's counterattack, Perpetual Pianissimo, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to La Sirene du Nord!  

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de l'Est [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Mizuki--or the Siren, not that they're diferent people, recognizes Rin Suzuki in the time it takes for the dust to settle. She freezes for a moment. Looks her in the eye. They share a moment--not a long one, but a moment all the same. Mizuki, the schoolgirl, has heard her play before. She's appreciated it, liked it, enough to know that what's going on here is wrong. Capital-W Wrong, with deep and dark magic at play.

The silence, long as it is, allows both small animals to wave to each other. To Bastiste, Jean-Luc simply inclines his head on an angle. Amazing, how so tiny and so cute a penguin can stuff enough expression into their eyes to say 'you sly old dog, you!' from this many paces away. It also helps that he calls back. "Batiste, here, of all places! Oh, and I thought this couldn't get any more /fun/!"

"Listen to yourself, stop, that's not you. Suzuki-san, you shine brighter than that." de l'Est's voice is low and dusky. If there were less whipping winds and no tinny cacophony rising from the violin, it might sound forced. But those kinds of details might get lost in the sound effects. "Your music--it's from the heart. There's no..."

The wailing storm of noise rises, a sonic wall of distortion and dissonance that rattles the Siren's teeth and aches in her ribs. She raises one hand to shield her face with. That beautiful white scarf flaps listlessly in the breeze, carried on waves of aural pain. Her words carry little weight of belief behind them, and thus, are deflected away by Rin's empowered fury.

Besides, the other Siren here has so much more of a plan. She has a title, knows what's going on, and even gives the orders. It's a lot to take in at once, and de l'Est yells back over the howling gale. "I'm going! I'm going!" is all she calls back, barely audible above the sound of Rin's heartfelt fury. The noise has become physically painful.

"And--be careful!"

She shouts at the other Siren, who races forward in a storm of swirling skirts. Her prayers are with her, briefly, and de l'Est sprints forward across the stage towards the /actual/ girl who needs protecting. Confused as she may be, the genuine feelings of her desire to put right this situation give rise to great magic--and more to the point, encase du Nord in a softly-glowing nimbus of blue light, willing her to accomplish what she currently cannot.

Jean-Luc holds his beak. This is not how he envisioned their grand entrance, not at all.

COMBAT: La Sirene de l'Est has used Heart of the Storm on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord accepts La Sirene de l'Est's Heart of the Storm, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Withstand applied to La Sirene du Nord!  

<Pose Tracker> Hayato Nishi [None] has posed.

The girl stops playing.

The sudden silence is deafening in its own right. The howling wind, the passionate words - all eaten by the void left in the wake of Rin's tune. She looks down, and her voice is bitter.

"All that hope...all that faith...it's a weighty burden to bear, pushing me forward. And what I see before me...is the abyss of failure." She gestures sharply with the bow, not even pretending to play, and a sand-filled wind blasts a half-dozen chairs clean of their padding. "I'm going to fail - lose the election, or worse win and be a horrible leader. My concerts will pale against those of people with more talent than me."

Her body's growing strange - bulging in places, starting to become unnatural. The veil isn't quite being shattered yet, though, and she looks up - bitter and furious. "So every bit of praise drives me closer to that precipice, when all my efforts show how talentless I really am. I just want everyone..."

Abruptly, she looks up, and her voice is hollow. Empty. "...to leave me alone."

Gust after gust hammers down on the obvious target - la Sirene du Nord. Behind the raving Rin, the other one slumbers in peace, and la Sirene de l'Est can safely spirit her out of the danger zone. The queen of the tempest stands alone, just as she wished.

COMBAT: Hayato Nishi has used Staccato Strike on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Hayato Nishi has used Taking The Stage on Hayato Nishi.
COMBAT: Hayato Nishi accepts Hayato Nishi's Taking The Stage, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Accelerate and Surge applied to Hayato Nishi!  
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord narrowly counters Hayato Nishi's Staccato Strike, taking 20 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord's counterattack, Les Mysteres, partially gets through, doing 7 Fatigue damage to Hayato Nishi!  

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Blue light shines around du Nord...

And she snaps, "Don't focus on backing me up! This isn't a team effort! I'm just going easy on you because I can tell you're obviously unused to..." The girl stops.

Because she's hearing that hollow voice... and she is told that the girl, like Garbo before her emigration to the Sea, prefers to be left... alone.

Du Nord throws one hand up, her index and pinky fingers raised up in a common salute as silvery light smashes outwards, cresting into the wind and erupting outwards with rippling sparkles of delightfully silvery light. du Nord's other hand comes up as well, in a two-barrelled gesture of her standard warding gestures, the curiously electrical sound of wailing chords rising up -

"Oh no!" Batiste cries. The reason is simple, almost painfully so. La Sirene du Nord has run out of stage.

She topples into the orchestra seats, slamming in among them with one of those complex gasps of pain that is not overwhelming but is momentarily disabling.

"This is a bad situation... hey! Girl, with Jean Luc! What's your name?" Batiste cries, waving a fluffy paw. "I'm making a judgment call -" He starts leaping along seatbacks to get nearer to the orchestra pit wherein la Sirene du Nord has fallen. "Because a Cardiax is not a thing to play around with!"

"You have to hold it off, while I get her out of the jam! I believe you can do it - even if we're not on the same side, we're all in the same boat against these creatures! You need to buy us time --"

And then Batiste plunges into the cheap seats.

It's all on you, Mizuki - or should we say, la Sirene de l'Est!

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Carpe Aonyx on La Sirene de l'Est.
COMBAT: La Sirene de l'Est accepts La Sirene du Nord's Carpe Aonyx, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene de l'Est is Cheered!  Withstand applied to La Sirene de l'Est!  

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de l'Est [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

The roiling scirocco might not be directed at her, no, but coarse grains begin to pool in the brim of de l'Est's impressive chapeau all the same. She looks over her shoulder as she puts boot to ground, darting past the apparition claiming to be Rin Suzuki and reaching the real deal without further incident. The untested Siren is in the middle of trying to figure out how gentle she'll need to be with the /real/ Rin Suzuki, when a voice reaches her ears over the din.

She looks over her shoulder at du Nord. She looks pretty damn cool, mid-sprint with hair and scarf aflutter, if that's the look she's going for. "What do you /mean/ this isn't a team effort!?" the Siren yells, disbelief and exasperation mixing together, "We're both trying t--wait, look out...!" and that's about when the more aggressive of the two falls, in a tumble into the orchestra pit.

So she's halfway, now, to reaching the real Rin. Batiste's voice carries clearly over the distance and the mess of noise between them. It changes everything, or at least, gives her pause to reconsider her options. "I'm La Sirene de l'Est!" she hollers back, skidding to a halt and bracing herself against another shuddering gust of wind. "I'm just trying to /help/! Get her up, I'll hold this thing back!" her voice rises back to a normal pitch, at first, but soon dips down to the feigned heroic one in short order.

Jean-Luc pipes up. "It only /looks/ like her, you know, don't go too soft."

De l'Est reaches towards the sky. Mist and snow coil about her gloved hands, wreathing about an invisible point and hardening--growing, even, quickly, until she wears an impressively-sized pair of gauntlets. Made of green brine and ice, from seas not of this world. "Okay, okay." she hisses under her breath, feeling the tension. When next she moves, her legs throw her towards the Cardiax like a spear. The Siren rears back a hand as if to strike, a simple plan, but her target still isn't the girl.

It's her violin.

"You're making too much weight out of this thing, don't /do/ this to yourself anymore!" she yells, perhap mis-diagnosing the situation.

Well, it will certainly tie the thing up for long enough for du Nord to return. Hopefully.

COMBAT: La Sirene de l'Est has used Hailstone Bullet Technique on Hayato Nishi.
COMBAT: Hayato Nishi narrowly dodges La Sirene de l'Est's Hailstone Bullet Technique, taking 17 Fatigue damage!  

<Pose Tracker> Hayato Nishi [None] has posed.

When the hammer-blows of wind finally abate, there's a moment's calm. The storm rages on, but there lies the eye of the hurricane. While the tempest may yet ravage the area, for a precious few moments Rin's doppleganger is at peace.

Then la Sirene de l'Est strikes the violin clean out of her hands, sending the instrument skidding across the stage.

Rin Suzuki explodes with fury - the statement not literal in the easy. When the dust clears, there is a giant worm burrowing through the air, turning with the tempest. Ghastly grey flesh is home to a horrific maw with three sets of fangs, and it screams at the horror before it.

Strangely, in spite of its shape, Rin's voice is still the one screaming.

"I WANT FREEDOM FROM THESE EXPECTATIONS! I WANT TO LIVE WITHOUT THAT LOOMING FAILURE BEFORE ME!" The violin sings its fury as the wind pulls at its strings, and the Cardiax simply screams in anger once more. With the monster's true form revealed, the wind's ferocity has only increased...

COMBAT: Hayato Nishi has used Everyone's Expectations on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Hayato Nishi has used Everyone's Expectations on La Sirene de l'Est.
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord fails to dodge Hayato Nishi's Everyone's Expectations, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Stagger applied to La Sirene du Nord!  
COMBAT: La Sirene de l'Est narrowly counters Hayato Nishi's Everyone's Expectations, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  La Sirene de l'Est's Reverse ability activates!  La Sirene de l'Est's Tactician ability activates!  Stagger applied to La Sirene de l'Est!  
COMBAT: La Sirene de l'Est's counterattack, Ice Chobham Burst, partially gets through, doing 2 Fatigue damage to Hayato Nishi!  

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

La Sirene du Nord emerges finally from the pit of the orchestra, even as de l'Est does her most valiant to fight outwards. She hurls down ice and sleet in its various forms, and the violin goes flying.

Truly, one might say, there was no need... for violins.

What has emerged from the girl is, of course, something far nastier than there was to begin with. du Nord seems to ignore the grey, writhing monstrosity as she regains her position, straightening up, adjusting her cap, and looking over at de l'Est.

"That hat is SO garish," she says, but perhaps with some self consciousness. Exhaling hard enough to puff out her cheeks, the wind rips at them, and tugs at her hair. "Whoever you are, your game is up! New girl, we have to crush this horrid thing or that girl will be trapped in a hell of twilight awakening, neither awake nor sleeping, as she's used for -- I don't have to explain right now! There's no time!!"

La Sirene du Nord advances forth. She has to put all her faith for now in the fighting ability of her possible cousin - it must not be /her/, she thinks darkly, because /she/ would certainly not be acting like this; a new recruit? a new entrant? a sneak thief??? no, she's woolgathering now...

She is approaching the Cardiax. This is foolish. But because she's not doing it in reaction, she can do the posture properly, raising her left hand, drawing up her right, and taking in a breath as she declares, "Les Mysteres, come!" A single downward slicing stroke -

Rippling silver strings shine into existence for just long enough, bursting outwards behind her in a dozen different shining veves that linger and glow despite the dust, and forwards into a smashing wave of sheer dark and beautiful energy, the dust clouds raised by the Cardiax's furor providing an iridescently specular backdrop for the spell's effects!

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Les Mysteres on Hayato Nishi.
COMBAT: Hayato Nishi fails to dodge La Sirene du Nord's Les Mysteres, taking 30 Fatigue damage!  

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de l'Est [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

De l'Est only pauses in the moment after the act to consider: was that violin, too, a creation of that twisted shade? Or did she just deck Rin's actual instrument?

The explosion, and the scream that roars alongside it, nearly knock the Siren from her feet. "Guard, guard! Magic, girl, magic! Remember?" Jean-Luc has scampered from one shoulder to the other, and his little flippers do a curiously good job of hanging onto the icy chains criss-crossing the Siren's outfit. His urgings do well to keep Mizuki's magical alter-ego on the ball, snapping her from the dawning sense of dread that threatens to swallow her whole as Rin's doppelganger's rage grows greater than its wish to retain that human form.

The hatted Siren's concentration returns, though the panicked beating of her heart does not slow. The shrill screech of violins twists with the roaring of the winds, and a melody straight from the maw of hell itself slams into de l'Est's body with concussive force. She yells--


--and the thin layer of frost over her chains does exactly that. It explodes outwards in a *puff* of snowy mist and broken shards of ice, as do her enormous sea-ice gauntlets. A reactive cloud of freezing force that burrows right through the Cardiax's screams, shielding the Siren. Technically, it also hurts, but it's kind of a very small amount of hurt. There just isn't much force left over to bite back against the worm after soaking the winds, and the shrieks.

By now, du Nord has returned, and in full form. The comment about her hat comes and goes, the wearer makes no comment back about it. Not yet. "Right!" she shouts back, "Explain the specifics later! Saving Suzuki-san comes first!"

So, daunted by the sheer size of the enormous, demonic-looking worm that towers over them both, yet not wanting to retreat--not while her blood is up, anyway, de l'Est raises those icy hands to the sky and concentrates. It only takes a moment, and it's more of a plea for help from the seas than anything else. From beneath the stage, around the corners, from all manner of improbable angles, chains wrought of foam-flecked ice surge and wind towards the Cardiax's true form like whips. Four whips, in fact, doing their damndest to wrap those freezing chains around the worm and keep it from wrecking the joint. Or killing them. Or getting away.

"I'm /tellin'/ you!" hollers Jean-Luc from his comfortable perch, to the otter far opposite, positively giddy with excitement. "She won't be the new girl on the block for long! It's going to be /swell/, old buddy, old pal!"

COMBAT: La Sirene de l'Est has used Chains of Winter on Hayato Nishi.
COMBAT: Hayato Nishi fails to dodge La Sirene de l'Est's Chains of Winter, taking 27 Fatigue damage!  Stun and Trap applied to Hayato Nishi!  

<Pose Tracker> Hayato Nishi [None] has posed.

Ice whips through the air, binding the Cardiax with glacial surety. In its wake, a spectacle of dark beauty smashes into the creature, and ocean-scented fluids begin to drip from it. Its fervor, its self-recriminations, all of them are weakening.

All that remains, then, is that glint of anger - that burning desire to just snap at those around it. It does this, now, snarling at both Sirens. "WHAT WOULD YOU KNOW?! BLESSED BY GREATNESS, SHINING WITH THAT HONOUR - AND THE REST OF US CAN ONLY HUNGER FOR THAT GLORY!"

Bound, gnashing its teeth, the storm still answers its call - dry, devoid of any tears. building to a fever pitch with the worm's self-introduction.


COMBAT: Hayato Nishi has used You Will Know Me on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Hayato Nishi has used You Will Know Me on La Sirene de l'Est.
COMBAT: La Sirene de l'Est narrowly braces Hayato Nishi's You Will Know Me, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene de l'Est's Block ability activates!  La Sirene de l'Est's Parry ability activates!  Diversion and Stun applied to La Sirene de l'Est!  
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord narrowly braces Hayato Nishi's You Will Know Me, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene du Nord's Block ability activates!  La Sirene du Nord's Parry ability activates!  Cripple and Stun applied to La Sirene du Nord!  

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de l'Est [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

It might be an enormous, disgusting parasite from another world, but the words, the shrieks, and the emotions are all very human. It all resonates within de l'Est, for she is not pure and perfect. She knows frustration, fear, jealousy, these are all normal. But what the Cardiax has done to Rin Suzuki is anything but normal. And while de l'Est might not know the way it all works the way du Nord does, she knows this much: if it doesn't get squashed, an innocent (and honestly, fairly nice) girl is as good as dead.

"None of us are so perfect!" shouts the Siren back at the worm that dares to speak with her classmate's voice. "But you--you're nothing but the hate, the fear, and the disgust... you've twisted Suzuki-san's feelings and brought us to this point!" a patch of ice on the ground grows, quickly, into a stalagmite upon which the the Cardiax's storm breaks upon. And though it shatters from the force, blue shards of diamonds billowing back into her face, she does not flinch. Well, not /visibly/, anyway. "I, La Sirene de l'Est, will put an end to this! Storm, come!"

de l'Est holds her hands out. Equidistant. Careful, now, don't mess it up. In the gap between them, a great and dark swirling of clouds sputters from nothingness, flecked green and black, heavy with rain and hail. Things missing from the storm raging around them now. She peeks past the elemental mess in her hands at the demonic worm writhing in her chains. Is this the right--no, no time to think about it. She closes her eyes and crushes the tiny storm inbetween her hands with a *pop*.

A much greater storm roars to life above the Cardiax's chained body. A billowing morass of stormy clouds encompass it, surround it, freezing winds and a light snowfall cut through the windy summer's day. The storm, then, intensifies. Surging, an otherworldly blizzard of fist-sized hailstones come raining from the skies above. The noise is terrible, each one breaking with a sound like a shattered windowpane. The impact--well, if the they hit, is phenomenal. A plain, but pure elemental fury called forth by a pure heart!

COMBAT: FINISHER! La Sirene de l'Est has used Tempete Verglacante on Hayato Nishi.
COMBAT: Hayato Nishi fails to brace La Sirene de l'Est's Finisher, Tempete Verglacante, taking 77 Fatigue damage!  Hayato Nishi is unable to keep fighting! 

<Pose Tracker> Hayato Nishi [None] has posed.

There is nowhere for the Cardiax to run, chained by ice and pierced by mysteries. It has only its frustration, jealousy, and anger - all stolen from the girl it had infested. Perhaps these will be enough - the dry whirlwind, a blight on the nearing spring, grows mightier with the Cardiax's screeches.

That storm, however, is filled with another. Truer to the season, a mass of dark clouds and pounding hail. The wind shreds one hailstone, and another...but the next dozen hammer the Cardiax without opposition. Purehearted ice smashes the embodiment of Rin's sorrows without mercy, releasing them into the air.

The unnatural windstorm comes to an end with the monster's death; only the rain borne of a musician's sorrows remains, beginning to gently fall. Glistening, to be gathered by a Siren's mirror...

...but whose?

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"She has some talent. She will be an excellent aide to my cousin here!" Batiste calls back to Jean-Luc, even as war and passion continues.

La Sirene du Nord hisses back as the Cardiax writhes and bellows. Dry wind washes over her, suppurating over her skin, drawing out moisture, leaving her subtly aching, somehow. A headache, however faint; the ghosts of nausea... dehydration has its perils.

And then the storm rises.

The icy hail is different from the languidly moist storms that la Sirene du Nord has summoned; north wind she may be but she nonetheless has more often brought forth tropically flavored storms, redolent of rolling heat and screaming thunder. This ice makes her gape, and when the Cardiax is ripped asunder by this storm - her mouth hangs open.

Her face blanches for a moment. Is the new girl - the siren whose name she hasn't yet learned - her equal?

or worse?

Shaking her head out, she raises her mirror up in one palm, pivoted to catch the drizzling tears that pour out from the sky. "Hmf...! I see you're able to get the hang of things. Do you understand things a little better? And..."

Du Nord crouches a bit, to spoon up the tears that have reached the ground. "Even if we're opponents, it's rude not to introduce yourself."

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de l'Est [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

La Sirene de l'Est's arms drop to her sides as the storm subsides, giving way to a gentle rain. The first few drops pitter-patter on the brim of her hat even as the Siren's head bows briefly. She remembers, first, the complicated feelings in Rin's heart that must have given rise to something like this. Feelings she never even once came close to suspecting, and yet, here we are.

A small flipper baps her on the back of the neck. Her head jolts in surprise, and the pooled sand in her hat tumbles onto the ground. "Oh. Oh!" the mirror is in her hand, in a heartbeat. She makes no move to go stealing du Nord's share of the bounty, instead turning to address this--until now, unknown party. With a quick clearing of the throat, de l'Est pulls the brim of her hat up far enough to actually let du Nord look her in the eye. Though it will clear before any /normies/ can see it, the frigid aftermath of the eastern storm has left a thin layer of pure, white snow hanging off of various chairs, banners, and the ground. It's very pretty, but not long for this world.

It's harder to read de l'Est's reaction, because the lower half of her face is obscured by that white scarf. She doesn't frown, at least, or shy away. "There's plenty I don't understand." she replies at last, as sorrows trickle into her mirror and are spirited away elsewhere. "Are we opponents? If we must be," words chosen dramatically, "Let us always strive to do good, before outdoing each other."

Jean-Luc makes a tired groan and shakes his little head. His eyes roll, where nobody can see them.

The ice around her hands is gone, now, so de l'Est extends one hand towards Nori. Open, palm sideways, ready to shake. "Thank you...!"

So who, then, is looking after the real Rin...?

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

La Sirene du Nord stares at de l'Est in cold silence.

Batiste hisses from off-stage, "She said her name! de l'Est!"

du Nord's lips purse as she blushes, but she does advance and take the hand for a brief, clammy-skinned pump. "Hmf. I don't know what you're thanking me for, but I suppose it's good sporting to let you know the ropes."

Hairtoss ensues.

<Pose Tracker> Hayato Nishi [None] has posed.

Rin Suzuki, Infinity Institute student, and candidate for next year's grade twelve student council...is asleep, and recovering. Within a day, most likely, she'll be back to school, ready to do her best and make her play for greatness. That, however, is in the days to come.

Nearby - off to the side of the stage - there's a man. Dressed in a dreadful grey suit, just shaking his head as he takes in the remnants of the Cardiax worm and the Sirens who have defeated it.

"Well, that's a shame." He murmurs to himself, then vanishes among billowing curtains, swiftly gone without a trace.

Ending Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY7h4VEd_Wk