2014-10-08 - Beetle Bores
|Title: Beetle Bores|
An investigation into the suspicious product of Darkmist Nature Industries leads a variety of magical girls and boys to Darkmist Boutique... Right in time to see Gurio Umino and Winston Churchill be led into the store by a youma!
| OOC - IC Date:|
October 8, 2014
It is late evening. The time when most school-age kids should really be at home, possibly in bed or preparing for such. But that does not matter to those who wish to fight for love and justice! ...Like Gurio Umino who has been repeatedly coming by the Dark Mist Boutique over and over today. And the day before. And the day before. Ad nauseam. What is he doing here so much? Why, trying to convince the proprietor to stop manufacturing and providing the materials for Dark Mist pesticide! Also, to answer prying questions about what exactly the materials are.
Right now he is banging one hand on the front door of the closed shop. The proprietor, a green-haired lady in a blue, floral-print dress, comes to investigate with a scowl. Which turns into a visage of pure despair when she sees who is responsible for the racket. "YOU again!?" "I will have you know that rhinocerous beetles are very gentle souls, and Winston Churchill especially, and the only common factor between him and the other beetles who have been acting up is your pesticide!" Umino lectures as he holds up a cage with a Japanese rhinocerous beetle inside. "Yes, yes," she responds impatiently. She has heard this five times now.
"You should really open up your shop to a proper inspection by the authorities! If you want to remain in business, being honest can only help! Also, you didn't know? Saying your product is all-natural is a meaningless statement! Everything is natural by virtue of originating in this universe! In order for your plants to be unnatural they would have to originate from some other universe!" The lady in the dress CARES SO MUCH.
The business about another universe, is making her suspicious however. This boy is annoying, but his persistence is almost as though he knows what's going on here. She has heard that many Dark Kingdom operations have been foiled by the Senshi... And a mysterious male by the name of... TUXEDO MASK!
Could this be him!?
The lady puts on a big smile and says, "Well, if you are really that concerned, I suppose I could let you come inside and look around!" Umino blinks (or maybe he doesn't, who can tell with those glasses) and lowers Winston's cage. "...Wow, really?" "Yes, of course! That way you can see that nothing nefarious is going on here!" Also, even if he's not Tuxedo Mask, the kid is making a scene, and she doesn't need this kind of attention here. And if he IS the masked meddler... Lord Nephrite will be sure to know what to do with him! Mwah-hahaha!
And so, Umino and a bettle named after a former prime minister vanish into the darkness of the flower shop. The door clicks shut behind them.
"...I didn't really find out much for sure," Makoto is telling her friends, looking distinctly apologetic, as she leads the way down the sidewalk a bit ahead of Usagi, Mamoru, and Mio. "But there was definitely *something* funky in the air when I went to check out the area where Umino-kun said they were spraying. And it seems like this place is supplying the materials they're using for the bug spray, so..."
What began with Mako simply promising to do a little checking around at Umino's request has, somehow, turned into a bona fide Sailor Senshi operation, and the trail leads now to the Dark Mist Boutique. The little group comes within view of the flower shop just in time to see the blue-clad woman ushering her 'customer' in through the door, and Mako pauses a moment in surprise and a certain faint feeling of impending doom. "Was that Umino-kun...?"
The glance that she turns back toward the others is a muppetface of half worry, half exasperation. She's already got her transformation pen in hand. "We should probably hurry," Mako says, and starts off again at a brisker clip, long strides eating up the remaining distance to the flower shop.
As soon as the door to the shadowy flower boutique clicks shut, a tendril of darkness lashes out at the boy and his beetle. Latching on around his ankle, it coils along his body like a serpent until Gurio Umino is wrapped completely within its grasp. And then, it begins to drain.
"This is embarrassing," Nephrite curses aloud, appearing suddenly behind his servant. A ball of pale, otherworldly vapor grows and pulses in his right hand, the energy from poor Gurio Umino slowly flowing into it as his magic does its work. "To think a mere mortal would suspect us like this. That I am reduced to such primitive methods..." He trails off with a shake of his head, letting the boy drop to the ground once a good portion of his vital energy is gone.
Curse Jadeite's success. Curse the stroke of misfortune that has led him here, running this foolish operation to drain trace amounts of energy instead of harvesting a single, full bounty. He had quite forgotten how maddening this process was, and evidently, his minion is not all too skilled at covering the Dark Kingdom's tracks. The Dark General fixes her with a glare.
"See to it that this boy is moved to the Dark Kingdom for complete draining. And do not allow another mortal to discover us, unless you wish to stand before Beryl and explain exactly how our mission was sabotaged by a *beetle*."
"Aren't bug sprays supposed to be funky?" says Usagi, trailing after Makoto. She is dressed in a pink bunny-print button-up pajama top, sweatpants, and sneakers because she was totally ready for a quiet night inside alone with her stories.
(Rune gave her some thank-you cash for her 3DS which means renewed gaming energy.)
Instead, she's investigating Gurio Umino and bug spray. This is not appealing, but it may be justice. Usagi will settle for that.
She doesn't see the door drama because she's busy looking elsewhere. Makoto's attention gets her own, and Usagi puts a hand over her mouth. "Aaa, Mako-chan, how did you do that face? H-hey, wait!" Makoto: brisk clip. Usagi: frantic scurrying.
"*yaawwwnnn*." Akemi rubs sleepy eyes as she happens to walk nearby. Well, no, that's not it. She's been led this direction by a very insistent bear spirit who, instead of letting the poor girl trek home for her beauty sleep, wanted to go to go to this corner.
("I don't like this shop. Go inside. Investigate.") Guma's voice is sharp in Akemi's mind.
To say that Guma's instincts are sharp is... well. For every time she's been right on the money, Guma's been wrong. Many times. 'Something's off, go here.' 'I don't like this situation.' 'Go inside and investigate.' Each time has been a case of Guma suspecting something of being a demon, a youma, a soul in need, a foul-minded spirit when, in reality, it was just a high-tech device, a loud sound, a child looking lost, or, in this case, the insinuation of a chemical she's found an immediate disliking to.
"If it has to do with pesticides, do you really want me to go in....?" Akemi murmurs quietly, taking care that no one overhears. Guma has always been sensitive about chemicals, to the point that she can't stand most cleaning products. While most modern conveniences have been ones Guma's adapted to and even embraced, this area... has not been so easy.
It's closed. Looking over her shoulder at the approaching group of girls, she says, "Ah, I wouldn't go in here." Reason? "There's weird spirits and ghosts inside," Akemi continues with a smile that's a little too innocent to make for a convincing lie. Surely, those rumors about her being some weird spirits and ghosts girl can get her someplace, right? Right?
click "It's... also locked, actually. Weird..." ("If something nefarious is going on, you think they'd leave the front door open?")
Kinzo Hiroyuki ugh, Pesticides. Things didn't used to bother Kinzo's nose so much. But in the past year- his nose had gotten entirely more sensitive than normal and things like that just sent him into sneezing fits-- so when his mother started spraying the flower boxes in the windows with this new stuff she's been trying out- it wasn't any surprise to him he'd begin having sneezing fits. But something smelled. Off. It put him on edge.
Then mom started acting strangely. Lazily. Then Dad, and things got suspicious then. Something was a-miss. But what?
With a half used bottle in hand, he observed the name on the tag and the details and decided he'd have a little walk over. Something in his gut says to check.
With one hand in his pocket, and the other observing the spray bottle- he was walking along to the address as he looked up and past it. He sees Umino arguing with someone- then they go inside--- then comes that tall girl, with Usagi in tow who suddenly pick up the pace. His head tilts a bit as he stops. He stops in front with Akemi who insists there are weird spirits and ghosts inside.
"Uh?" this is the entirety of his reaction to Akemi with a disbeliving look, as he looks over to the others there.
Mio Kuroki is in her striped long-sleeved shirt, with a stylish dark jacket over it to ward off the springtide chill. She has at least refrained from breaking out the Gauloises to ward off bugs. She sucks in a breath as she spots someone ushering a young man into the building, having been walking in step with Makoto, more or less.
"What face?" she asks Usagi, briefly distracted by the younger girl. She glances at her, but shakes her head for a moment, pursing her lips.
"I have a - negative feeling about this place... something about it doesn't fit," she says, though she lets Makoto get a pace or two on her. "It isn't a typical sort of ambiance... you should be careful..."
Mio seems to be looking at a plant in the window as she says this, to those who look closely at her line of sight.
"I see we aren't the only ones with suspicions," she adds, her voice lower.
"...face--?" Mamoru echoes faintly, squinting ahead at Usagi and Makoto, then glancing aside to Mio. His hands are shoved in his jacket pockets and his legs are certainly long enough to keep up, but he lags behind a little, for some reason. Of course he ends up catching up, even if he's playing it cool, and then there's this new girl calling to the Senshi.
The absurdly tall black-haired boy gives Akemi a bright smile more or less over Usagi's head as he stops. "That's all right," he tells her, "we're ghost hunters." Then he glances to Mako and Mio, and-- a half step back as he realizes how close he stopped to the blonde. "Want me to check the back door? Oh, hi, Hiroyuki-san."
"Like this!" Usagi attempts to recreate muppetface of worryexasperation. She then hushes up because serious things are happening and there's other people suddenly here, but she keeps the expression.
"B-but it's really dangerous, guys!" But is it, really? Akemi doesn't... really know...
At Usagi's expression, Akemi's sober expression slowly transforms like the sun peeking from behind a dark cloud. Holding a hand to her face, she giggles, braids swaying behind her. "... Ghost hunters or no, just... please be careful. I actually don't know what's going on inside."
Umino sways woozily among the various flower beds and vases and displays as he is engulfed in shadows. He is not sure what's going on, but he is determined not to fall upon Winston Churchill's cage if he is about to pass out or something. He holds the beetle's cage out to the side to the best of his ability while restrained. Even with his energy being drained, he somehow remains active, if only in a zombie-like way. "You didn't know? Some pollen can cause allergic reactions! Maybe that's why the beetles are acting weird. Though I've never heard of an allergic reaction... That makes beetles... Angry!" He is slouching gradually in the shadowy grip, and yet he keeps on talking. This is truly amazing, for a given definition of 'amazing'. It's not like he's resisting or anything. His mouth is just continuing to move when the rest of him is getting more and more lax.
Eventually he shuts up, much to the youma Toxora's relief. At the shadowy figure's words, she turns immediately to face him nervously. "A-ah! Yes, Lord! My apologies! I will not fail you!" The youma-in-disguise assures while bowing to the Heavenly King of North America, Maxwell Sta--Nephrite, rather. She becomes aware rather quickly that there are more people outside, when one of her plants in front of the shop alerts her. "Wh--My Lord! There is a significant gathering of humans outside!--But I had nothing to do with them being here! I-I'll deal with them! They will not interfere in your glorious plans!" She decides this is not a wise time to mention that she thinks the swirly-glasses kid might be Tuxedo Mask. After all, if he is here, and suddenly a crowd of interlopers show up, then logic says that if he is Tuxedo Mask, they must be the Senshi!
She stomp, stomp, stomps as well as she can in heels towards the door, peers out through the window, sees that, no, none of these people are the senshi. Damn. She was really off the mark! They're just ordinary humans. The boy inside is probably just some kid too! Maybe he was right. Maybe she's having an allergic reaction to something and it's making her STUPID. She blames sunlight. Nasty, terrible stuff.
Back on-topic, the shop owner unlocks the door suddenly and looms in the entrance, glaring at everyone gathered. "We are CLOSED, children." The idea occurs to her that bringing THEM in too might give them even more life energy, but she was just ordered not to draw attention, and humans have an abnormal attachment to their offspring. If they all go missing at once, it's just going to cause people to ask questions.
To encourage these youngsters along, she allows a bit of her youmaness to leak through. Her eyes glow bright red for several seconds, to aid in intimidation. "LEAVE. NOW." she hisses.
This is useless. If the voices behind the door are any indication, several others have followed the first boy in investigation of the store -- and even with his mind control abilities, he knows that it would not be long until one of them found something and alerted the magical population through whatever insidious grapevine they use to communicate. Therein lay the rub with these large-scale energy draining operations: mortals, though gullible, could only be fooled for so long. And if a hail of warriors came down on this store, even with his aid, he would likely leave with a fraction of the stolen energy and less one youma.
He briefly considers adopting his Masato Sanjouin persona to help redirect the pests and let Toxora finish her work when, all in one moment, the Dark General sees her eyes glowing red, an all too obvious tell. Worse, his gaze shifts to the side in time to see none other than Mamoru Chiba, a person that Sailor Moon herself returned from 'death' to save.
It's like a slow-motion disaster, and his only recourse now is to drive them off with force, in the hopes of getting away before the Senshi arrived.
Thrusting his palm forward, Nephrite shatters the glass windows of the boutique, letting his voice boom out in the chaos: "This does not concern you, meddlers. If you value your miserable lives, leave at once."
Being right by the door to the store, it's quite a ride to go from Usagi's amusing expression to the sudden appearance of the looming shop owner. "... Ah, excuse me-" 'LEAVE. NOW.' Akemi leans back, dark red braids trail outwards from Akemi by the sheer force of the shop owner's next bout of encouragement for them to leave.
Akemi could just slip by this youma and run in, but she'd be doing so as Akemi Tsukiyama, ordinary human with a lot to lose, especially if demons here start finding how tasty she is to snack on like back home.
She looks over her shoulder and raises a finger. "Ah... it's a very dangerous situation!" ... Nevermind the possibility of these do-gooders being magical girls and boys like she is! If more people slip into this youma's clutches like that boy from earlier, it'd mean more people she'd have to look out for!
That's.... when the windows of the boutique shatter, causing Akemi to shout, albeit a second too late, 'Watch out!!"
"I don't know either," Makoto answers Akemi, turning an accusatory look toward the locked door as though it's the source of all of her problems right now, "but I'm going to find--"
--out, she was going to say, but just then the door swings open and the proprietor is glaring out. With GLOWING RED DEMON EYES.
And then GLASS SHATTERING EVERYWHERE and NEPHRITE and oh hell no.
"Oh," Makoto says, wide-eyed and comically toneless. "Sorry. We'll come back."
And then without another word or pause she turns, grabs Usagi's arm, and books it, charging straight past Mio and Mamoru down the sidewalk and around the corner of the building at top speed, dragging the blonde with her out of sight.
"Jupiter Power - MAKE UP!"
DRAMATIC JUMP CUT and mere moments later Sailor Jupiter is planting herself in a pose of challenge outside the front entrance of the boutique, hands already alive with electricity. She doesn't waste any time making speeches, either - instead she simply throws out a hand towards the Dark General, sending a thin bolt of quicksilver energy leaping at him through the broken windows from her fingertips. "Jupiter Thunderbolt!"
COMBAT: Makoto Kino transforms into Sailor Jupiter!
Youmaness. Yeah, that's kind of-- yeah.
Mamoru backs up a couple more paces, eyes widening, then runs off, probably - oh, Nephrite - to do something like call Sailor Moon and go hide.
Well it's close to the truth, anyway. He barrels into the first available alley and henshins as soon as he's out of sight, then waits, braced for the inevitable crash, whether or not the Senshi ram into him or not.
Nephrite's voice. Tuxedo Kamen has to swallow back the grimness that threatens to undermine his desire to egg on the confidence of the girls.
There: his hat's in one hand, and he's smiling crookedly, a tall shadow with bright mask and shirt and gloves. "I'll get your friend out of the way. You concentrate on kicking his teeth in."
He. Winks. At. Sailor. Moon.
Then with a flutter of cape he rockets up over the store to sneak in the back and drag Umino out.
COMBAT: Mamoru Chiba transforms into Tuxedo Mask! COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask has used Tuxedo Night on Sailor Jupiter. COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask has used Tuxedo Night on Usagi Tsukino. COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask has finished attacking. COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter accepts Tuxedo Mask's Tuxedo Night, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Jupiter is Cheered! COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask has used Tuxedo Night on Sailor Moon. COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask has finished attacking.
Mio's expression brightens at the sight of Usagi's face. To Akemi, she murmurs: "I think with everyone's strength... it will be alright."
The door opens.
Mio's eyes narrow at the sight of the shop owner. Her expression reads, quite clearly - who are you trying to fool? The glow of the red eyes reveals more truth, and this, at least, eases her of a simpler burden.
Then Makoto vamooses.
Mio sidles to the side, taking Mamoru's arm wordlessly. "Lawsy me," she murmurs to him. "We should vacate."
SOON: In the alleyway, Mio keeps her back turned. After that, she looks up after where he's leapt -
And follows the same sort of route, but down near the ground. Perhaps she will interfere when the time is right...
Kinzo Hiroyuki waves to Mamoru with a blink. "Hey, Mamoru. Hey... everyone." he says with a hint of disbelief.
"... are you all having problems too?" he asks quickly. "With this stuff?" he asks holding up the half empty bottle of pesticide. Then Mamoru mentions 'Ghost Hunters'.
e narrows his eyes at Mamoru and frowns. "Ghosts. Like the one in the Library?" he asks pointing his finger.
Then the door unlocks. "Still We. Outta take a look inside." he says to Akemi as he smiles. Besides- if there are evil spirits. Well. They need to be taken care of.
Then there's a creepy youma lady in here demanding they and leave--- and--- is that Nephrite at the back. He frowns a little. He reaches into the inside of his jack as he pops the cap of a colonge bottle. He steps backwards and merely walks away a moment. Perhaps Kinzo has decided he has gone crazy!? He henshins in an nearby, out of sight area--- he just sort of materalizes from a brown blur leaving a vanilla scented smoke in his wake.
"People use products to keep thier flowers safe from harm- to stop nusiances from devouring them and destroying them!-- Flowers whose scents invoke sweet memories! To turn such a protective agent into a delivrance of a bad memory will no longer be allowed!" he insists loudly, and points.
He flicks an amber blade- much like a kunai- into the air towards the youma as he aims to strike it in the chest.
COMBAT: Kinzo Hiroyuki transforms into Dark Amber!
Usagi loses the muppetface to grin back at Akemi. She can't hide humor like that! She opens her mouth to say something further but the shopkeeper comes to accost them. Usagi's first thought is 'she doesn't seem so evil, maybe Mio is' and then everything is put on hold by demon eyes.
She shrieks. Just a little bit. It's still a shriek.
Then Makoto is dragging her away in a shower of glass and Usagi is wailing like the totally hapless bystander she is. Fortunately there's that cool transfer student around to save her! That's the end of Usagi Tsukino.
Yes. She is 100 percent gone.
"HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!"
Oh no. It isn't. It can't be, not when Nephrite's beautiful plan to do evil things with another mundane item were so close to fruition!
Sailor Moon leaps down from a light post, landing alongside Sailor Jupiter with grace and poise. She strikes a dramatic pose.
"Bugs are super weird and often make me uncomfortable! I would be completely afraid of them if there weren't people forcing me to learn facts about their day-to-day lives! It's often gross still, but I won't forgive anyone who threatens this beautiful relationship between weird insects and weird people!"
She spins, her hair twirling about her, gems glinting in the evening's first moonlight. With accusation, she gestures at the pair of dark interlopers.
"I'm the sailor-suited pretty soldier of love and justice, Sailor M--" Tuxedo wink. Sailor Moon's cheeks flush red and she recoils as if struck. Like, by an arrow. IN HER HEART. "--SAILOR MOON. And, in the name of the moon, I will punish you!"
COMBAT: Usagi Tsukino transforms into Sailor Moon! COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Tuxedo Mask's Tuxedo Night, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Sailor Moon is Cheered! COMBAT: Dark Amber has used Amber Blight on Gurio Umino. COMBAT: Dark Amber has finished attacking. COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has used Jupiter Thunderbolt on Nephrite. COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has finished attacking. COMBAT: Nephrite narrowly braces Sailor Jupiter's Jupiter Thunderbolt, taking 5 Fatigue damage! Nephrite is Quipped! Nephrite's Block ability activates! Nephrite's Parry ability activates! COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used In The Name Of The Moon on Gurio Umino. COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking. COMBAT: Gurio Umino narrowly dodges Dark Amber's Amber Blight, taking 6 Fatigue damage! Dark Amber is Psyched! Gurio Umino's Fade ability activates! Gurio Umino's Flash ability activates! COMBAT: Gurio Umino narrowly dodges Sailor Moon's In The Name Of The Moon, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Sailor Moon is Psyched! Gurio Umino's Fade ability activates! Gurio Umino's Flash ability activates! Cripple, Diversion, and Trap applied to Gurio Umino! COMBAT: Akemi Tsukiyama transforms into Scarlet Rune Maiden!
'I think with everyone's strength... it will be alright.' Mio's words cause Akemi's gaze to soften; she nods. "... You may be right."
Lightning arcs through the air, proud speeches are made. Akemi uses this time to sanely get out of the way. Is she a magical girl, or just a concerned citizen? Only time will tell.
Especially when there are more important matters to attend to. Leaping onto the street from a convenient vantage point, the kimono-garbed Scarlet Rune Maiden strikes a confident pose after she rises from her crouch. "I should've known when I smelled something foul coming from here that there'd be trouble. Prepare to be cleansed, youma, unless you choose to forgo your evil ways!" Her amber gaze narrows as she centers it on the youma. "Or should I beat the latter option into you until you concede that it's a good option? You smell so horrible it's giving me a headache just being here."
.... Whether the poor youma actually smells or not is besides the question; Guma is convinced of her own logic.
Suddenly all these kids go running off. Toxora feels satisfaction at sending the interlopers away. When Nephrite blasts out the windows, she cringes and realizes they probably left more due to him then her. But at least they are gone. Now she just has to worry about replacing the windows--SUDDENLY MAGICAL GIRLS/BOYS COME FROM OUT OF THE EVERYWHERE! "AH, WHAT!" she yells. She sees Senshi, and some others who may or may not also be well-known meddlers! She does not keep up with human news much. She turns furiously to look back at Umino on the floor. "I knew it! Lord Nephrite! That boy is Tuxedo Mask! His allies have come to save him!"
Then she turns just in time to find knives flying at her chest. She leaps backwards and just barely avoids them. Then Sailor Moon addresses her. She scowls, feeling the pressure. This is the girl who has dusted so many youma before her. Does she really have a chance? And there's Jupiter as well! And some kind of ninja knight cloak guy! And all these others! Her mind is boggling at the array of firepower she is up against.
But... She can't let Lord Nephrite down! So, though she is not impressed with Sailor Moon's speech, and though she fears for her safety more out of who is giving it than the words themselves, she steels herself for battle against her opponents. She grabs the corner of her dress and tears the garment away, somehow transforming from this maneuver into some kind of plant-hybrid woman in a lab coat made out of leaves. Green skin, with flower-like tattoos around her eyes, long green hair with lilacs in them, a dress of petals under the coat, and nimble, thorn-covered feet. "Not bothered by bugs, hm?" Toxora hisses. "Let's see how you and your little friend REALLY feel about them!" Then she raises her hand, and insects exposed to Dark Mist pesticide crawl out from all over inside the shop, and fly in a swarm towards Sailor Moon and Dark Amber! They don't really... DO anything except maybe land and crawl all over the victims. The primary purpose of the pesticide was to turn them into vectors for life force draining. But magical people like these are reinforced well beyond the capacity of the insects. So... They're just really gross.
Pro youma at its finest, clearly.
COMBAT: Gurio Umino has used UGH BUGS GROSS on Sailor Moon. COMBAT: Gurio Umino has used UGH BUGS GROSS on Dark Amber. COMBAT: Gurio Umino has finished attacking. COMBAT: Sailor Moon narrowly dodges Gurio Umino's UGH BUGS GROSS, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Quipped! Sailor Moon's Flash ability activates! COMBAT: Dark Amber narrowly counters Gurio Umino's UGH BUGS GROSS, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Dark Amber is Quipped! Dark Amber's Reverse ability activates! COMBAT: Dark Amber's counterattack, Amber Bladestorm, partially gets through, doing 7 Fatigue damage to Gurio Umino! Stun applied to Gurio Umino!
Sailor Moon looks totally cool right now.
So cool. Even when Toxora reveals herself! She does that hero thing where she leans forward and raises a clenched fist with grit teeth, like, rar this is gonna be tough because I'm a hero so I'll meet it with determination!
Massive amounts of coolness.
Then there's bugs.
LIKE THREE SECONDS LATER
Sailor Moon is tangled up in her hair and still trying to flail the bugs off of her. She wobbles precariously, looks like she's going to catch her balance, and then trips on blonde and topples over, shrieking as she goes.
It's a long way down and she's screaming all the way.
Like, supersonic evil soul rattling loud!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Supersonic Screaming on Gurio Umino. COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Supersonic Screaming on Nephrite. COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking. COMBAT: Nephrite fails to counter Sailor Moon's Supersonic Screaming, taking 28 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! COMBAT: Nephrite's counterattack, Starlight Attack, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Sailor Moon! COMBAT: Gurio Umino narrowly counters Sailor Moon's Supersonic Screaming, taking 17 Fatigue damage! Exhausted applied to Gurio Umino! COMBAT: Gurio Umino's counterattack, Dark Mist, partially gets through, doing 2 Fatigue damage to Sailor Moon! Trap applied to Sailor Moon!
Dark Amber really doesn't like bugs- and they're crawling all over him as he visibly kind of hunkers down and releases that shivering 'uuuuughhhhhh!' sound that comes from being submitted to something really horrible. He gives himself a shake. HE /really doesn't like this at all!/.
BUT he likes this youma even less as he seems to go into supersonic motion, responding with a flurry of blades immediatly to the assault-using the motions to also toss bugs from him when he can because Ughhhhhh!
He then frowns a bit as his right wrist blade extends out, and he rears the blade backwards--- it hangs off, extended from a chain as he flicks it forward, it aims to wrap around the create and then release- a new blade merely materalizing in the old blade's place as he frowns a bit.
"Bugs do not bother me as much as you d----"
He sort of winces at Sailor Moon's screaming at the end of that sentence.
COMBAT: Dark Amber has used Binding Amber Chain on Gurio Umino. COMBAT: Dark Amber has finished attacking. COMBAT: Gurio Umino fails to dodge Dark Amber's Binding Amber Chain, taking 10 Fatigue damage! Dark Amber is Psyched!
He sees the mortal children startle at his voice. He sees them jump out of the way of the exploded glass. He sees them scatter, tittering among themselves as they go. And for a second, Nephrite thinks he's safe.
The thunder tells him otherwise.
The bolt hits him square in the chest, and though much of it is absorbed by the dark magic that hangs about him like an invisible shroud, the true damage is the sinking realization that he is too late -- the Senshi have already arrived.
His face tightens in a furious grimace. And that's before the waves of sound hit him like a brick wall. The Dark General has faced that attack before, when the four of the Shitennou's number marched on Infinity Institute all those months ago. But then, at least, it was full of fear, fear that made the pain he suffered (somewhat) worth it.
Now, it's about bugs. What a majestic soldier she is.
"Enough!" he commands, his deep baritone magnified to slice through the penetrating, high-pitched noise. With a flick of his wrist, the Dark Crystal appears in his hand, and two bursts of blue-grey magic spiral out: one towards Moon, one towards Jupiter.
He looks the latter straight in the eye, uniform still bristling with the remains of her electricity. "You have made a fatal mistake, coming here today." With that, Nephrite emits a pulse of blackened magic, and the lights of the store go out with a *pop*.
"Watch the boy! They will try to rescue him -- no, he is *not* Tuxedo Mask!" he yells to his youma in the dark, voice spiking in incredulous frustration when she guesses that it is the short bespectacled boy who is the Senshi's masked ally. True, he did not know his identity for sure, but he liked to imagine his foes had some measure of dignity.
COMBAT: Nephrite has used Starlight Attack on Sailor Jupiter. COMBAT: Nephrite has used Lights Out on Tuxedo Mask. COMBAT: Nephrite has used Lights Out on Scarlet Rune Maiden. COMBAT: Nephrite has finished attacking. COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter narrowly braces Nephrite's Starlight Attack, taking 11 Fatigue damage! Sailor Jupiter's Block ability activates! Sailor Jupiter's Parry ability activates! COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask narrowly counters Nephrite's Lights Out, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Blind applied to Tuxedo Mask! COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask's counterattack, Cavaleiro Luar, partially gets through, doing 6 Fatigue damage to Nephrite! Blind and Cripple applied to Nephrite!
"Ohhh-hohoho! Not so graceful and elegant now, are you?" Clearly Toxora has not heard the rumors about Sailor Moon if she thinks she is graceful and elegant. Then... That infernal WAILING starts. The entire store vibrates, the walls begin to crack. Ceramic planters shatter, glass vases practically explode, and Toxora's ears are filled with a piercing noise that makes her swear her ear drums burst. "DEAR METALLIA, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME!?" she screams, but her volume can not really rival graceful and elegant loud-mouth Moon's. She pulls a can with a picture of a bug getting squished by a giant skull from inside her lab coat. Leaf coat? Whatever it is, she has pesticide inside of it, and she pulls some of it out, and aims it vaguely in Sailor Moon's direction.
She can barely see through the pain, so her aim is pretty off. But the spray of noxious-looking purple mist that she releases drives the bugs into a frenzy, causing those with the capability to aggressively attempt to bite the pig-tailed heroine!
Then a blade and chain come flying out of nowhere, slicing the can right out of Toxora's hand, and then entangling her! "Augh!" she cries out. Her hand stings from where the blade cut her! She tries to break free, but it takes her a few seconds.
When she finally removes the blade and chain from her person, she is pretty angry. Practically frothing at the mouth! Actually, it's more of that nasty purple chemical mist. And it's steaming right out of her chlorophyll-laden youma skin! She points one hand, long fingernails turned into long claws on the tips of her digits, and unleashes a jet of purple poisonous fog from them at Dark Amber! This poison seems a bit more POTENT than that used to drive bugs crazy. Because it is kind of eating through the floor, tables, and anything else it touches.
She can't actually hear Nephrite as he yells to her, but she looks in amazement at the General's powerful attack, and so becomes aware he seems to be saying something to her. She is not a lip-reader, so can only yell, "WHAT'S THAT, MY LORD?" Distracted as she is, and unaware of her surroundings, there is an opening!
COMBAT: Gurio Umino has used Poison Princess on Dark Amber.
Umino's down but he's down in the corner; Tuxedo Mask had snuck in the back and started to drag the little guy away when Sailor Moon started screaming, and he grimaces-- partly because ow, godddd, and partly because the kid's not currently actually a target, and should be safe enough for now if he sort of-- yeah. There. Half-shoves him under the counter. And then he's in motion again when the lights go out--
--the lights don't *need* to be on for him to be able to find Usagi. They don't. He calls out to the room at large, "Close your eyes!" and pulls something out of his hat, which he flings backwards at Nephrite. Suddenly, a bright light: a magnesium flare! And he dives for Usagi, scooping her up off the floor and frantically brushing bugs off, stepping on them. "It's okay, it's okay!" he says hurriedly, "come on it's all right-- hit 'im with your best shot, he's picking on Jupiter again!"
COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask has used Maskerade Rosen on Sailor Moon. COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask has used Maskerade Rosen on Tuxedo Mask. COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask has finished attacking. COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask accepts Tuxedo Mask's Maskerade Rosen, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Cleanse! All of Tuxedo Mask's debuffs are cleared! COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Tuxedo Mask's Maskerade Rosen, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Cleanse! All of Sailor Moon's debuffs are cleared!
"What on earth have you done to these insects?" Guma replies, disgusted by the siege of insects as they land on Sailor Moon and Dark Amber. "Ugh. I thought the sort of pesticides people came up with were bad enough, but now youma have gotten into the business? Of all things, and what on earth is--" Guma winces at the sonic scream blasting by at the speed of sound, probably breaking a barrier or two.
("Remember the boy! We should search for him.") Akemi's helpful voice prods the Maiden. ("This youma's probably weak. The boy with the blade and the sailor girls'll take them out in no time, just like back at the shrine!")
"Aren't you an interesting one." Studying Nephrite as he steps outside the boutique, Guma raises an arm, a delicate angle to her hand. "What do you want with the boy?" The hidden tattoo on the Maiden's back glows scarlet, shooting glittering beams of red light that condense over her outstretched hand, forming a clawed paw. "Let him go."
Tuxedo Mask gives an advance warning, causing the Maiden to shut her eyes against his flare. "Now!" she encourages, leaping forward, clawed 'hand' at the ready. "The boy's safety is our first priority!"
COMBAT: Scarlet Rune Maiden perfectly dodges Nephrite's Lights Out, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Critical Dodge! COMBAT: Scarlet Rune Maiden has used Scarlet Knife on Nephrite. COMBAT: Scarlet Rune Maiden has finished attacking. COMBAT: Nephrite narrowly counters Scarlet Rune Maiden's Scarlet Knife, taking 5 Fatigue damage! Nephrite's Reverse ability activates! Nephrite's Tactician ability activates! COMBAT: Nephrite's counterattack, The Blade of Orion, partially gets through, doing 26 Fatigue damage to Scarlet Rune Maiden!
Fortunately, the shattering screaming happens to be a natural pesticide and all the bugs are gone. Unfortunately, Usagi still has hair and it's still attempting to strangle her. She's an easy target for Toxora's second wave of bugs, their bites ruining her calming down--
--but her yelps are cut short by a dashing man who steals her from her insectoid fate like a thief in a tuxedo.
Sailor Moon is set back onto her feet. She wobbles back onto her heels, finding her center and glancing warily back to Tuxedo Mask. Her nod really is determined now.
Maybe she isn't the best at planning, or at realizing the hidden truth of situations, or at taking charge. Usagi does know what feels right, though. Umino came here to save his bug--and this youma is at fault. If she's banished, then Nephrite will have to flee, won't he?
Leaping forward, Sailor Moon reaches for the darkening sky and, from a glimmer of silvery sparkles, withdraws a crescent-tipped wand. She spins it with elegant resolve. "Did you know?! The moon is made out of magic!"
With a pirouette and a slashing sweep of her lunar rod, she cites her source: a luminous beam of sacred moonlight.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Gurio Umino's Surprise Factoid on Gurio Umino. COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking.
The burst of Nephrite's power comes at her and Sailor Jupiter crosses her arms in front of her as a shield, digging in her heels and gritting her teeth as the force of the blast pushes her back. It rocks her, but she doesn't falter, just lifts her chin defiantly.
She has just enough warning from Tuxedo Mask to shield her eyes before the flare sears the darkened shop with blinding light; Jupiter looks quickly for her alies as the dazzle fades, and seeing that Tux has Sailor Moon free of the youma's attack she brings her full focus back to the Dark General. "I knew something weird was going on here, but I didn't think you'd be behind it. This is a new low for you, isn't it?"
Her fierce glare doesn't leave Nephrite, but as Sailor Jupiter spreads her hands in the air and begins to summon the wind, she calls out to her fellow Sailor Senshi. "I'll keep Nephrite busy!" The air swirls around her, gathering speed and kicking up a growing blizzard of petals that barrages the Shitennou in the wake of the Rune Maiden's assault, a faceful of bewildering color and dizzying perfume. "Take care of the youma fast, Sailor Moon!"
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has used Flower Hurricane on Nephrite. COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has finished attacking. COMBAT: Nephrite perfectly dodges Sailor Jupiter's Flower Hurricane, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Critical Dodge! COMBAT: Gurio Umino accepts Sailor Moon's Gurio Umino's Surprise Factoid, taking 44 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit!
Dark Amber is engulfed in a purple fog and it causes his nose to burn, and his eyes to water, and skin to burn and itch and it's really, really horrible. He wonders if he would melt if he was not transformed as he was. Probably--- but really, it's the crap going up his nose that hurts the most. This stuff is really horrid. He has to get out of it--now.
He wisps away into a cloud of brown smoke and reappears on the other side of the room.
He flicks another blade through the air, it seems to follow a curve pattern as it aims to stick into the creature's side.
"We're trying as fast as we can." he says with a frown-- at least he's keeping this thing's attention while Sailor Moon gets the heavier hits in!
COMBAT: Dark Amber has used Amber Seeker on Gurio Umino. COMBAT: Dark Amber has finished attacking. COMBAT: Gurio Umino narrowly braces Dark Amber's Amber Seeker, taking 6 Fatigue damage!
Nephrite lets out a growl of irritation at his youma's apparent deafness, but does not press the matter further. It would only distract the both of them from their attackers, and he is more than capable of ferrying the boy to the Dark Kingdom on his own. As silently as he can, the Shitennou searches the area where he had fallen -- only to find that the unconscious body has been moved while he looked away. "Damn it!"
And then, everything is worse. From nowhere, there is the sound of Tuxedo Mask's voice and a blinding flash of light directly in front of him. He curses again, loudly, bringing his arm up to his eyes all too late. He is already blinded, and the shockwaves from the blast have knocked him off his footing, sending him tumbling into a display of flowers, all of which fall to the ground in a great clatter of broken pottery.
"Cassiopeia, lend me your aid," the man mutters under his breath, and the shimmer of stars appears above his head, a sort of mock crown. It hovers there for a second, raining stardust upon him, slowly dulling the ache where shards had cut him and clearing the clouds of blindness from his vision.
By the time the Scarlet Rune Maiden makes her approach, he is fully restored -- and her clawed strike is met with summoned steel, the Dark Crystal itself acting as the hilt of a sword.
"I want his energy. I want *all* mortals' energy," the Dark General retorts with a smirk, before slashing forward into her defenses. Not long after that does Sailor Jupiter stand before him, that impudent, self-righteous look in her emerald eyes like a brewing thunderstorm.
(It's a look he's seen before -- but he does not realize it. Not now.)
"You are bold to mock me, Jupiter," he says, then laughs cruelly as he teleports out of the way of her petal storm. Now that he is not taken by surprise, it is easier to answer their attacks properly. "And you will be punished for it, in time. For now, though--"
Nephrite raises his hand, and two chains of deepest black shoot up from the ground, attempting to imprison the verdant Senshi.
"--you will stay where you are."
Not waiting to see the outcome, so sure is he of his magic, the man turns and casts a hail of starfire into the shadows, as both a flare and an attack in the darkness. "Come out of the shadows, you foolish coward! I will torture your ally until you do!"
COMBAT: Nephrite has used The Chains of Andromeda on Sailor Jupiter. COMBAT: Nephrite has used Ad Astra on Tuxedo Mask. COMBAT: Nephrite has used The Crown of Cassiopeia on Nephrite. COMBAT: Nephrite has finished attacking. COMBAT: Nephrite accepts Nephrite's The Crown of Cassiopeia, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Empower applied to Nephrite! Cleanse! All of Nephrite's debuffs are cleared!
Toxora's back is turned. She can't hear Sailor Moon's words very well thanks to her earlier yelling. But she sees the increase in illumination readily enough. She feels the crackle of extremely concentrated magic making her hair stand on end. And so she turns, seemingly in slow-motion (from her perspective), just in time to get blasted by a moon laser. She is hurled backwards, smashing through a counter and sending a cash register spilling to the floor. "Oh Abyss take me." She starts to struggle to her feet, but then a blade comes flying out of nowhere and stabs her in the side. "AUGH!" This is too much. The best she can hope for... Is to take Sailor Moon and this Amber Alert ninja with her. Perhaps with her demise she will serve to usher in the great darkness of her queen's rule, and the goddess beyond her.
Unfortunately she is just too frazzled to manage her ultimate attack right now. She can barely tell what's going on around her. Her hearing is slowly returning, but that's just not enough. So draws both arms together, and then throws them outwards again, one hand aimed at Sailor Moon, one at Dark Amber. "You two shall fall before Lord Nephrite if it's the last thing I do!" The palms of her hands open up as though they are hollow, and two streams of flaming poison gas erupt from the openings, going both ways at once!
COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask narrowly dodges Nephrite's Ad Astra, taking 20 Fatigue damage! Tuxedo Mask's Flash ability activates! COMBAT: Gurio Umino has used Free Sample on Sailor Moon. COMBAT: Gurio Umino has used Free Sample on Dark Amber. COMBAT: Gurio Umino has finished attacking. COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter narrowly dodges Nephrite's The Chains of Andromeda, taking 20 Fatigue damage! Sailor Jupiter is Quipped! Cripple and Trap applied to Sailor Jupiter! COMBAT: Sailor Moon narrowly braces Gurio Umino's Free Sample, taking 17 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon's Parry ability activates! Cripple applied to Sailor Moon! COMBAT: Dark Amber narrowly braces Gurio Umino's Free Sample, taking 12 Fatigue damage! Cripple applied to Dark Amber!
In the shadows, there's very suddenly light, and scorching brilliant heat catches the masked man who's trying to jump away from it-- he hits the ground hard and rolls, sucking in air shallowly. "Shooting stars--" he rasps out, "--are supposed to be-- beautiful-- you ass!" He lumbers up on one knee and flings an arm out, other one clutched across his chest, and red lightning trails through the air in the wake of sharp, sharp roses. "Go look for your Princess Jupiter and your Endymion! That has to be more important than this!"
The roses don't head, as one might think, for Nephrite himself: they slice through the air toward that which binds the Senshi, that which troubles them. "NOW, Sailor Moon!"
COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask has used Maskerade Rosen on Sailor Moon. COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask has used Maskerade Rosen on Sailor Jupiter. COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask has finished attacking. COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Tuxedo Mask's Maskerade Rosen, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Cleanse! All of Sailor Moon's debuffs are cleared! COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter accepts Tuxedo Mask's Maskerade Rosen, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Cleanse! All of Sailor Jupiter's debuffs are cleared!
"If I fall before Lord Nephrite I'll stand back up again or someone will help me and I'M NOT TOO PROUD TO ACCEPT HELP STANDING UP BECAUSE SOMETIMES I GET DISORIENTED--"
Sailor Moon's proud rebuke of Toxora's threat takes just long enough for her to get a dose of poison gas to the face. She reels backward, hacking and coughing, slumping forward under the sudden weight of fatigue needling her every muscle. The pretty soldier clutches her wand with desperate tightness, bringing it up with her dwindling reserves of strength. For Umino's sake, and for Jupiter's, she has to keep trying!
A rose flits past her face and strikes the ground near her feet. The flowery scent catches her, elusive but unmistakeable. Her weakness does not fade, but now she has more than enough strength to replace what it's taking from her.
Sailor Moon rises, tracing a crescent shape in the air above her with her wand.
"For the sake of beetles and Umino-sans everywhere! MOON HEALING--"
She pirouettes, eyes closing as she gives herself to the rising feeling of serenity inside her, the distant memory of Tokyo Tower that is every day being forged into a shining sword of hope out of the dark furnace of despair that birthed it. She twirls and spins, a kaleidoscopic halation emanating from her silvery figure. With another sweeping gesture, she carves the iridescent circle of a new moon before her, a white-glowing ring of awaiting power.
Sailor Moon poses fiercely, and then thrusts her lunar scepter forward.
It all erupts in a passionate display of blues, reds, greens, oranges, purples, and silvers that steals her breath away and brings her desire for justice to life.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Sailor Moon has used Moon Healing Escalation on Gurio Umino. COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking.
Dark Amber has flaming gas thrown at him. He raises his blades up in a crisscross pattern and he tries to tank that as much as he can. This doesn't work as well as he hopes and it causes his gaunlets to kind of heat up horribly. This hurts. But he can deal with it, he frowns. "It will be the last thing you do." he says as he suddenly bursts forward in a blur of speed and attempts to throw a hard, forward slice into the youma with a grin.
"This isn't going to end well for you-- or your 'Lord'. You do nothing but help create bad memories with these powers." he says. "This never ends well. For anyone."
COMBAT: Dark Amber has used Amber Slicer on Gurio Umino. COMBAT: Dark Amber has finished attacking. COMBAT: Gurio Umino accepts Sailor Moon's Finisher, Moon Healing Escalation, taking 145 Fatigue damage! Gurio Umino is unable to keep fighting! COMBAT: Gurio Umino accepts Dark Amber's Amber Slicer, taking 15 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Gurio Umino is unable to keep fighting!
Something in Shitennou's words, despite their truthfulness, cause the Maiden's gold eyes to narrow with contempt as if Nephrite had instead insulted her. Yes, she remembers. The children lying on the steps outside of the shrine, who were fleeing the monsters that were attacking before drained of their energy by an individual seeming to want the very same thing. "Then I shall gladly fight you until you're forced to to concede defeat!"
Blind contempt does nothing to dull a blade. The Maiden reels backwards far too late, having invested herself against Nephrite's defense. "... I should have recognized that uniform at first glance... The children at the shrine, were you involved in that as well? Serving some dark queen?" 'My Dark Queen thanks you for the harvest, ladies -- and so do I!' Oh, Guma remembers the man, his words.
She remembers how stupid she felt, to not have realized the plan for what it was until it was too late.
As Nephrite turns his focus to Jupiter and Tuxedo Mask, Guma whips a glowing hand upward, throwing a red crescent of energy straight at Nephrite's chest.
"You still have me to deal with!"
COMBAT: Scarlet Rune Maiden has used Red Crescent on Nephrite. COMBAT: Scarlet Rune Maiden has finished attacking.
Toxora, upon seeing the mighty Sailor Moon herself fall to her knees, and the clever and evasive Dark Amber caught in her attack actually, for one brief moment, feels something like... HOPE. For the first time in her life, her blackened, shrivelled heart swells with something other than darkness. Will she actually live through this? Will she actually accomplish what she set out to do, and make Lord Nephrite pleased with her? It is an act of violence and inflicting painful death upon others that makes this feeling come to her, but it is there, none the less. Then Sailor Moon stands back up, and her stomach feels like it drops right out of her.
She turns her head quickly and finds Dark Amber blurring towards her with a knife and a smile. Terror fills her, and hatred for the enemy for stealing that one small glimmer of a future from her. "PRAISE LORD NEPHRITE! PRAISE QUEEN BERYL! PRAISE METALLIA!" Toxora screams as she is sliced right down the middle, sending her hurtling backwards, and right into the dazzling display of god-like magic being concentrated in one place... And then blasting into her, sending her dark spirit hurtling out of this world and into whatever foul place dead youma go.
The remaining insects in the store all settle down immediately. The people drained by Toxora and her pesticide-controlled bugs get their energy back. Umino will be out of it awhile longer becuase it was Nephrite himself who drained the bespectacled youth, but as dust coats the floor where a monster once stood, at least Winston Churchill manages to calm his nerves and crawl to one side of his cage... To be closer to his unconcious master.
COMBAT: Nephrite narrowly braces Scarlet Rune Maiden's Red Crescent, taking 4 Fatigue damage! Nephrite's Block ability activates! Nephrite's Parry ability activates!
Later, she'll have to admit that she probably should've seen it coming.
As the chains snap up from under her feet, Sailor Jupiter tries to leap out of their reach, but she's not fast enough. The black bindings snare her legs and snake up around her body, yanking her short mid-leap and bringing her crashing to the floor; she only just manages to catch herself on her knees, one hand still free to catch herself before her chin can make a painful impact with the floor.
It is far, far too familiar a feeling, and it brings a cold chill of recognition up Jupiter's spine. She knows what comes next.
But this time isn't the same as then. It's not just Makoto Kino tangled up and helpless in the magical chains: she's Sailor Jupiter, transformed and fully empowered, not just by her guardian planet but by the presence of her friends and allies. And she's not going to just give up.
"Don't think I'll just let you do what you want!" she snaps back at the Dark General, and as the Scarlet Rune Maiden makes her own attack, Jupiter throws herself against her restraints with the full force of all the strength and leverage that she can muster.
It quickly becomes clear that this isn't just wild flailing to be free. On the contrary, every move, every bit of straining, thrashing effort, every last bit of the fierce determination that lights her eyes and sets halos of electricity crackling around her clenched fists, it's all for one very specific goal - not to get free, just to punch the ever-loving shit out of Nephrite.
And then the chains are shattered by a flying rose, and in an instant all of that leashed strength is set free.
As the coruscating lights of Sailor Moon's purifying blast obliterate the youma and light the entire building in a rainbow of colors, Sailor Jupiter comes hurtling at Nephrite fist-first, wrapped up in trailing lightning like a miniature comet.
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has used Lightning Fist on Nephrite. COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has finished attacking. COMBAT: Nephrite fails to brace Sailor Jupiter's Lightning Fist, taking 32 Fatigue damage! Sailor Jupiter is Psyched!
Beyond their ages, beyond their genders, beyond their alignments, there is one crucial difference between the Senshi and the Shitennou. The Senshi are soldiers -- and Nephrite is a general.
Generals often do not fight their own battles. A general's job is to oversee his troops, to stand above the battlefield and guide his side to victory. Soldiers fight their own battles. And more and more he is learning that, when the two of them meet on the field, it is he who is at the greater disadvantage. When he is fighting, he cannot read the battle, cannot steer it the way he wishes.
Thus, the Moon Healing rainbow of light catches him completely off-guard, and he can only watch as his youma is blown into dust by its might. He bears his teeth in a great scowl, not bothering to dodge the arc of red magic that bashes him on the chest. What does that little damage matter -- all of this past week's work is wasted, all the mortal energy returning to its former place as the dust catches on the breeze from outside.
But this is not the greatest blow. Not in the slightest.
Princess Jupiter and Endymion, two figures that he had pushed to the back of his mind, along with the doubts and ghosts of the vision he shared with Makoto Kino. Let loose again by the words of Tuxedo Mask. That is what floods his mind now, and sparks the fury that the Dark General is truly capable of.
"Liar!" he screams, turning away from Jupiter completely, raising his sword with both hands over the bowed form of the Senshi's treasured ally. "I'll kill you!"
And perhaps he would have, if not for the force that hits him with the force of a train. Completely unprepared, the man barrels along with it until the both of them slam into the far wall, nearly breaking through completely and shaking the very foundations of the building. Protective magic can only go so far -- his sword clatters to the ground and disappears into darkness, and a single bead of crimson rolls down Nephrite's forehead.
Bracing himself against the pain, he manages to look directly at Jupiter, who has several times now reduced him to the wreck she sees before her now. The rage has gone from blazing and passionate to a deadly chill.
"I will make you kneel."
From the shadows of the store shoot the same tendrils that drained Umino's life; now sharpened, ready to impale where the others sought to constrict. Towards Tuxedo Mask and Jupiter -- the insolent ones -- they fly, with such speed as to rival lightning.
He may have lost the energy of the masses, but the lives of two Silver Millennium scions will make up for it. And when Jupiter has fallen, he will present her, alive in name only, to Beryl. And his past sins will be absolved.
COMBAT: Nephrite has used Corona Invictus on Sailor Jupiter. COMBAT: Nephrite has used Corona Invictus on Tuxedo Mask. COMBAT: Nephrite has finished attacking. COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask fails to brace Nephrite's Corona Invictus, taking 11 Mana damage! Critical Hit! Nephrite drains 8 mana from Tuxedo Mask! COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter narrowly braces Nephrite's Corona Invictus, taking 4 Mana damage! Sailor Jupiter's Block ability activates! Sailor Jupiter's Parry ability activates! Nephrite drains 3 mana from Sailor Jupiter!
"I'M NOT A LIAR!" yells Tuxedo Mask, his voice a rough wreck as he hauls himself to his feet unsteadily; he pulls his hat off as Nephrite's giving this ice cold proclamation to Jupiter, heedless of the fact that he was about to be beheaded a second ago (he'll realize that later). He almost stumbles as he comes up to stand beside the Senshi of Courage: if they keep him occupied, it'll be that much easier for Usagi and Kinzo and the Scarlet Rune Maiden to deal with Kinzo before they come back to help.
When Nephrite tells Jupiter he'll make her kneel, that's when Mamoru's eyes flash bright with fury behind the brilliant white mask. "How dare you! HOW DARE YOU! The love that's behind every move, every protection, every fight-- the love that the Senshi have for all that's good, have for each other, have for their friends-- will stand bright and unshaken in the face of the lies you and your precious Queen propogate, will stand tall and unbowed!"
The boy's hand reaches out to grip Makoto's shoulder, and it's solidarity and fierce belief and shining determination that soar through that simple contact. "You don't understand ANY--"
And that's when it hits. It hits the youth square in the heart, the angry buzzing of twisted stars that viciously tear the magic from his soul and eat it away, with a pain that steals his breath and makes everything go white. His hand spasms on Makoto's shoulder and slips off, and the tall, thin black-haired boy in the absurd formalwear and luminescent white mask crumples bonelessly to the floor.
COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask has used Now Show Them Your Power! on Sailor Jupiter. COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask has finished attacking. COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter accepts Tuxedo Mask's Now Show Them Your Power!, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Empower and Surge applied to Sailor Jupiter! COMBAT: Nephrite has adjusted his boss levels. He is now ready to take on 2 opponents! COMBAT: Nephrite has adjusted his boss levels. He is now ready to take on 1 opponents!
She can't look away, doesn't dare split her attention now to see what the others are doing. She doesn't have to. Without even looking, Sailor Jupiter knows what Sailor Moon and the Rune Maiden and Dark Amber are doing, and while they're busy getting poor unconscious Umino the hell away from the field of battle, she has her own role to play. So she straightens back from the impact with the wall and stares Nephrite down, fully prepared to take on all that rage.
The spear-tipped tendril of darkness flies at her, and still Jupiter holds her ground, not even trying to dodge--
--snaps her hand out at the last moment and catches the spike with an iron grip in the instant before it would pierce her chest, the needle tip of it just touching the fabric of her uniform above the pink bow.
It's not effortless; the lines of muscle and tendon stand out in her arm from the effort, and just touching the thing lets the power of darkness burn through her, draining energy from her like water out of a punctured vessel. But Tuxedo Kamen's hand is on her shoulder, filling her with strength faster than it can drain away. Lips curling back from her teeth in a pained grimace, Jupiter clenches her fist around the evil thing, grips until it shatters into wisps of ominous black smoke. "I don't kneel to anyone," she says through her teeth--
--and then Tuxedo Mask goes down, cut off mid-sentence, and Sailor Jupiter has one split second to go wide-eyed in shock before raw fury takes over and the very air around her begins to crackle with an electrical charge.
"Now, Nephrite," she says, as long thin tendrils of lightning reach upwards from the floor around her feet, crawling up her body to surround her in a trembling corona of power. Her voice is quiet and low and dangerous as a distant warning growl of thunder; it's as though, all this time, she hasn't been calling the lightning so much as holding it back.
That's all the warning he gets before the wreckage of the shop is lit up by several hundred thousand volts of pure raw energy, bright enough to bleach everything black and white and leave silver after-images dancing in front of the eyes.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Sailor Jupiter has used Supreme Thunder on Nephrite. COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has finished attacking. COMBAT: Nephrite narrowly braces Sailor Jupiter's Finisher, Supreme Thunder, taking 33 Fatigue damage! Nephrite is unable to keep fighting! Nephrite's Block ability activates! Nephrite's Parry ability activates!
The energy he collects from Tuxedo Mask is bountiful, almost as much as he managed to steal from the boy before this whole mess began. Pure, magical -- it is very nearly enough to make the battle worth it. Combined with the Senshi's life force as well as her body, he will have enough for Beryl to declare his mission a success. He is almost certain of it.
That is, until something goes horribly wrong.
Nephrite's eyes widen in horror when Jupiter not only stops the spear-like tendril with her bare hand, but *breaks* it, sending its pieces to the ground where they disappear into darkness once again. How -- how could anyone manage such a feat? To dispel his magic so easily--
Just how powerful *is* this girl?
Unfortunately for him, he's about to find out. The hairs on the back of his neck bristle as electricity surges in the room once again; different, this time, more powerful. The Shitennou has succeeded in making her angry, it would seem, and it seems to only focus her, heighten the energy she gives off. One day, he could possibly exploit this.
But today, he simply straightens, holding the Dark Crystal out in front of him. "I. Do not. Run."
When the thunder lets loose, Nephrite raises a shield from the Crystal, deflecting the inhumanly powerful volts of electricity into the shop itself. Lightbulbs fill with power once more, then burst in a split second, raining glass down upon them both. The falling shards slice at his face and uniform some, sending him into a state of disrepair beyond any he would normally allow, but it would be worth it. As long as he did not take the brunt of this force. As long as he stays behind the shield of darkness.
Before he can react, the Dark Crystal strains, cracks -- then splits jaggedly in half. His spell disappears. The last bolts of heavenly lightning consume his body. And he *screams*.
When it is, at last, all over, the building lies nearly destroyed, broken glass, pottery, and bits of plaster littering the ground of the false boutique. Among these lies the collapsed form of Nephrite: burned, bloodied, bruised. Beaten. His chest heaves with slow, stuttering breaths, and for a second, it seems as though he may not get up at all.
But he does. Slowly, and obviously in pain, the man pushes himself to his unsteady feet, one half-gloved hand shooting to the wall to steady himself. He turns his gaze to Jupiter a final time, not saying a word, eyes filled with anger, pain...and perhaps just the slightest bit of awe.
In a blink, he disappears. The broken half of the Dark Crystal lies gleaming in a puddle of moonlight.
White light surges. Thunder crashes. Tuxedo Mask speaks; a boy, eccentric as he may be, is reunited with his pet, eccentric as it may be. The false boutique is rent asunder...
A crystal throbs within the remnants of the structure.
A shadow crosses the light from the streetlamps outside.
Precise, soft steps crunch over plaster and wreckage, even as the distant swirling lamps of emergency services rise in the distance. It may go down as a gas leak, or dangerous pesticides bursting harmlessly. Who knows?
The crystal lays in the moonlight...
And a purple shroud falls over it.
Mio Kuroki, crouching, lets the purple silk of the cloth she had in her pocket fall over the crystal. Carefully, delicately, she gathers it up with her fingertips, letting the cloth drape and wrap.
In the end, it's swathed in two layers, or more, from all directions.
Mio looks up, towards Sailor Jupiter. "I think... that I know how to keep this from harming, anyone else..."
Her lips part, but the words hang in silence for long seconds. She continues, with a small, rueful smile, "You kneel to no one, Sailor Jupiter? I think that's a good attitude to have. I apologize that I couldn't do more to help you - or Sailor Moon."
Mio slides the crystal, carefully, into her pocket.
"But it seems that you had it - him - well in hand... Shall we leave?"