2015-06-09 - Princess Final Exam

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Title: Princess Final Exam

The conclusion of the Princess Seminar, an extended formal ball, invites young ladies to show how suited they are to the role of 'princess'. But what reward a suitable princess receives might not be so laudable...


Kunzite, Sailor Moon, Sailor Mars, Homura Akemi, La Sirene du Nord, Fuu Hououji


Yamanote High City - Countess Rose's Mansion

OOC - IC Date:

20 July 2014 - 06/09/2015

<Pose Tracker> Kunzite [None] has posed.

At the height of the day, Countess Rose's mansion seemed to be the height of elegance. Grand gardens and extravagant artwork served to frame the Western-style mansion as a picturesque display of what European sensibilities could bring to Japan. At night, however, the effect is redoubled. Lights, artfully placed, illuminate only the finest of the foliage, using shadows of architecture to enrich the mansion's external appearance. Tonight, the doors are not necessarily open to all - but many come to at least partake of a formal ball from afar.

For a select group - heirs to fortune, those who accounted themselves well at the previous public Princess Seminar, or those who obtained a gold-inked invitation by some other means - the interior is even more grand. Gold is a symbol of wealth, and the places where it gleams seem to cast the entrance hall in a golden light. Crisp tuxedoed partners extend gloved hands to serve as an escort to aspiring princesses, up the arching stairways to the second story ballroom. Tonight's exam, of course, is a formal ball sparing no expense.

The ballroom floor has been polished to a shine, carefully primed to reflect light alone. The walls, still holding the grand artwork from previous visits, are an artful chiaroscuro of illumination and shadow, emphasizing those few features even further. Crystal chandeliers glitter overhead, serving as the height above which the princesses may dance. And of course, there is music - the finest musicians from the symphony orchestra, each nearing a national level of renown, playing soft waltzes and minuets to which the princesses to dance with their partners.

Every so often, a butler will slip unobtrusively onto the dance floor, to tap a candidate on the shoulder and escort them to the gilded doors in back - the hallway to the graduation ceremony. The rules for this aren't entirely clear - it's the Countess's judgement whether a candidate has proven herself - but with persistence and diligence, surely that prize can be reached. In spite of a few missteps, Madoka Kaname is the most recent to be escorted to that hallway - waving cheerfully as the doors close.

A new minuet begins its upbeat tones, violins acting in concert to provide the princesses with their next dance.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

While Fuu Hououji was the beneficiary of an invitation to the beginning of the Princess Seminar, her initial 'grades' were good enough to warrant returning for further classes - particularly in the fine art of the dance.

Unlike the simple green dress she wore for the first seminar, she's wearing something a little bit more ornate tonight: green is still the dominant color of the skirts and sleeves, but a lighter green sash around her waist sets off the white bodice, which is framed by dark green sleeves the same shade as her skirts' outermost layer. The bodice is further accented by a gold necklace with a dark green 'gem' that rests over her heart; if it were bigger it would risk being outright gaudy, but as it is, it complements the dress well, breaking up the white 'field' of her bodice and accompanying the predominant greens of other areas.

Having just finished a dance, Fuu curtseys gracefully to her most recent dance partner, and they part ways for the moment, with Fuu taking a seat along one wall to rest her legs a bit. This also lets her see who else is still in the proverbial running, on the dance floor or along the edge which she's picked a seat on..

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

How, exactly, Homura attained her gold-inked invitation is up for debate. Perhaps Countess Rose gave it to her for her performance; perhaps she has some secret connections. Perhaps, she has held onto one for a time, just in case. Whatever the situation may be, though, Homura Akemi has returned. She wears a simple but stylish black dress, with matching black gloves.

She isn't, however, dancing. Her excuse has been a vague statement about having a headache -- then a smile and wishing the person well. She has her eyes stuck on the dance floor, though. Maybe there is one person that she wants to dance with.

Or, maybe, Homura is waiting for something.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<Soundtracker> Meeting With Argath - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9r314L15Ak&index=16&list=PL5C894E719DEECEB2

Something of the mansion's profile at night unsettles Rei Hino as nothing else about it has. In truth she couldn't explain why if she tried, and keeps the nagging sensation well suppressed. The Princess Seminar had been a wonderful experience for her, and as she left on that first day that felt more resounding than what she'd hoped for. But in the daylight the resplendent estate seemed to distinguish itself while still co-existing within this urban ecosystem. Now...there's something about the way that it's lit in combination with its architecture. It seems...more than foreign it seems alien. Out of place. More...constructed. The priestess allows this discomfort to flow over her and pass..neither one to ignore it completely nor allow it to infect her too severely.

Within the doors the feeling fades. It's difficult to find anything out of placed while ensconced within its walls, and there's nothing surprising about feeling so thoroughly transported to this other world after the previous day. She accepts an extended hand, neither ignoring her partner nor taking an undue interest in him. With a series of sideways glances she looks to him, investigating any apparent symptom of personality, but finds little to remark upon. He is performing a function and a ritual, just as she must. It is not a strange thing for a test and it doesn't give her any boards to dive from that she can't provide herself. In everyday life it might seem strange, but in this environment it seems as precisely arranged as everything else.

And so she dances. Rei Hino moves with some grace. It is not the first time that she's danced in a ball room, but it is hardly a practiced skill. Such things are too rare in Japan for her father to feel that much of an urgency, and this style has been treated as a perfunctory necessity rather than an ability worth developing. If nothing else she does not trip over her feet. The musicians in their exemplary finesse make it easier, their sonorous stability easy to orbit around. She smiles warmly as timid little Madoka Kaname crosses victory's threshold.

The second piece is quicker than the first. It's harder to practice for passion and her training comes less in handy here..but her own fiery spirit more than closes any deficit.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Despite how poorly Usagi had acquitted herself last time, she'd arrived early again today. For a while, she'd felt every bit the princess, wearing a strapless white gown of white and violet, adorned by various red roses of passion, made of fabric so silky and light that it felt like she'd float away if she stepped onto the ballroom floor. Long above the elbow satin gloves adorned each hand, completing the illusion.

However, as night falls and the music starts to play, the Moon Princess doesn't find herself gracing the ballroom with her presence, at least not immediately. Instead she was out on the veranda, gloved hands lightly falling upon marble balustrades. In a past life, she'd fallen in love with heavenly blue from afar, so it was a kindness that she was born anew on what she loved so much.

Now, every so often on nights like tonight she found her eyes lingering overlong on celestial silver, spilling down from a crescent from a window in the clouds above. Taking a deep breath, a sigh moves out of her lips easily. She found itself hard to concentrate on even images of her lovely daydreams of herself and Tuxedo Kamen dancing at the ball. Not now at least. Not when memories of once actually dancing in a ball turned her heart into a kaleidoscope.

The music starts anew, and realizing that she'd be late, she perks up just a little, moving down the veranda to enter the entry hall from the side. It looks like some cheap attempt from the girl who was likely on the verge of failing to arrive 'fashionably late' to score points, but it wasn't really. A tuxedoed partner extends a gloved hand towards her once she's close enough, and her eyes trail upward to meet his face, finding that there was no mask there. No top hat. This wasn't a daydream at all. It was reality. She still smiles cheerfully anyhow, looking completely upbeat and enthusiastic about the idea of being escorted to the ball.

Her performance at her debut is... memorable. Alas, the ballgown didn't allow her to float, if anything it seemed to make gravity's pull all the more certain. After the first dozen or so heavy footsteps atop her partner's foot, he can no longer repress it out of a sense of propriety. There are subdued yowls of 'MY FOOT!' Panicked yet earnest apologies of, 'Gomen gomen!' Before the exchange continues, 'YOU'RE STILL ON IT!' between the unfortunate partner and the graceless girl who looked more and more frazzled and tense as the dances continued.

Between pieces she finds time to wave to Madoka Kaname cheerfully, with a raised as she's escorted out. Though her expression falls the moment she leaves. She didn't really expect to get tapped on the shoulder any longer, but she resolves with a clenched fist of determination, "I'm going to give it my all!"

The second piece begins, quicker than the first, and accumulated damage to both feet has apparently worn down her partner to the point where his steps are becoming just as clumsy. The two nearly collide into Fuu and her dancing partner before the stumbling and bumbling across the floor causes her to bump into Rei Hino in the midst of her passionate steps, causing Usagi to nearly tumble to the floor. She still apologizes, a gloved hand just to the nape of her neck and voice full of earnest chagrin, "Sorry Rei-chan!"

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Nori Ankou is most decidedly a heir to fortune, however poorly she may carry her family relationships. And so it is that she has been drawn to the manor of Countess Rose.

Her dress, not terribly surprising to those who have been reliable observers of Noris Ankou throughout this term at Ohtori, is dark; black, in fact, with a rather severe collar. But this is relieved with some touches of light blue ribbon and crisp white lace, and glittering opera-length silk gloves. Her hair though has been left plain and straight and black, if brushed to immaculateness.

And she dances. The quality could be said to be 'adequately' - if perhaps a little 'heavily,' taking decisive steps while holding the hands of partners.

Nori hasn't paid much attention to others, or things other than the two waltzes she's had so far, because she hopes - hard - that this is where her Tanabata wish comes true. She did give Madoka Kaname a surprised look and a warm, cheerful smile when she was taken out for her consultation, and the occasional acknowledging glance otherwise (mostly at Usagi).

Then at Rei and Usagi both as Usagi barrels into her. Nori touches her lips with one gloved hand, concerned.

<Pose Tracker> Kunzite [None] has posed.

Moment by moment, dance after dance, the population of the ballroom dwindles. As each candidate successfully graduates, a dance partner leaves the floor without. Throughout invisible departures and changes with each new waltz, the number of tuxedoed partners for princesses is always a perfect match. The partners' faces might differ - but those are themselves irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

Fuu's verdant attire manages to stand out even here; green contrasting neatly with the radiant gold. As she departs the dance floor, her partner gives her a nod - and then, like a true servant, vanishes from sigh until his services are required once more. As she stays withdrawn, a handful more are invited to leave...

Homura's connections, mysterious and inscrutable, go unquestioned. If she had not earned the right to be here by other means, simply possessing the acumen to obtain an invitation regardless qualifies her for this seminar. Garbed in black, remaining on the sidelines, she might spy one of those servants occasionally - not approaching, but ready for the moment she chooses to dance. The pink-haired one she might have wished to dance with, sadly, has gone ahead...

Rei Hino dances, uncertainty anchored by certain music. A gentle tune for a fiery soul at first, but the second fits her style better. Perhaps not as sedate as the occasion might indicate, but enthusiasm has a quality of its own.

That quality, unfortunately, can go only so far. It is, perhaps, fortunate that the graduations free up servants to switch out with those currently on the dance floor - injured feet forcing retreat for a few, Usagi's partner among them. For a moment, those gloved hands are withdrawn from hers - and then she has a partner once more. Tuxedo-clad, but still maskless and hatless, and these lacks reveal the difference in face.

In spite of hopes and dreams and wishes on a star, Nori seems to be finding little romance tonight. The dancing, heavy as it might be, isn't precisely bad - but her passion, like those of the other princesses, isn't matched. For the 'princes' of the evening, this is but the role they are to serve. And so the music plays on, and the dance continues.

After some time, the activity has died down considerably. It seems as though but five candidates remain on the floor - and it is at this point that Countess Rose makes her appearance from those gilded doors. Her gaze, as practiced as ever, wanders over the dance floor and its minor disasters. At some signal from her, the partners make their exit. "Good evening, young ladies. If you would all come this way, the time has come for the ceremony." She retreats through the door, leaving it open - and beyond, the hallway beckons.

It's darker in the hallway. Windows admitting faint hints of moonlight provide the only illumination, and tripping would be likely were this not a well-kept manor. Here, statues line the walls - life-sized statues of wax of princesses, all manners of pose on display. Some are calm, some are filled with joy, some even have expressions of shock.

And as the Countess leads the way, there's one statue looking remarkably like little Madoka, with an expression of fear.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Fuu doesn't sit out of the dancing for all that long, only until her legs feel ready to support her again ... and once she's rested, she 'signals' her preparedness to return to the dance floor simply by rising from her seat and waiting for a partner to invite her back into the flow. Still, she does keep her eyes open, endeavoring to discern who's being chosen to graduate, and who may be eliminated from the seminar unsuccessfully.

It's probably not as easy to predict as she'd like to think. Still, Fuu is also remaining alert for the touch on her shoulder that will draw her away ... a signal that doesn't come, at least not in that form.

The appearance of Countess Rose from the hallway is greeted by a bow of Fuu's head, rather than another curtsey - although she's not entirely sure what the protocol is for one princess to greet another. A few more points lost, perhaps ... but as the final exam seems to have ended, Fuu joins the other princess candidates on the way into the other hall, smiling courteously to her comrades, both those whom she recognizes and those whose name she doesn't yet know.

Even the sight of the statues doesn't make her good manners falter ... even when the pink twintails of a distinctly Madoka-like statue catch her gaze. Her only remark is a quiet, "You would expect the graduation ceremony to be somewhat better-lit than this ..." Her only other reaction is far subtler, a quick check of a pocket to confirm that a certain accessory is there, if she should need it.

She doesn't even put her hand in her pocket for that. Whoever heard of a princess who sticks her hands in her pockets for no good reason? (For that matter, most princesses don't seem to HAVE pockets ... but surely that's just a convenient oversight among fairytales.)

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

When Madoka was led away from the ballroom floor, Homura worried; she watched, but she was held back from following. By a quirk of fate, she hadn't seen this exact scenario before. Key players weren't here; people who were here happened to have never been in the previous timelines. Sometimes, Homura wondered about that. Every new timeline seemed to unravel a little more from what happened previously. Those butterfly wings beat steadily into a tornado.

This, too, keeps her from dancing. She hangs back at the end, until they are summoned by the Countess. Then, Homura follows slowly, and looks at the life-sized statues. Her eyes narrow as she looks over each in turn. She remains silent, though, even while she begins to prepare to summon her hourglass shield. But it's at the end when her unease becomes terror.

She stares at that one terribly life-life statue. Her purple eyes widen; the sharp gasp comes from a surprise that is truly rare.

No matter how many times that she has seen Madoka Kaname hurt, killed, or turned into something unspeakable, it never fails to horrify and hurt Homura. She feels that familiar pang of depression and fear. Then she reminds herself: many things can be fixed. It rings hollow in her heart, but she knows that she must try, before she gives up on this timeline.

She turns, but she doesn't start walking. Homura bows her head; her bangs shadow her eyes and her teeth grit as her expression hardens. Her voice is soft, but full of promise.

"What is the meaning of this?"

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6n1t2nMyds&index=16&list=PL30CA5500906F0A4B

Rei Hino collides with a terrible force that nearly bowls her over and takes her dance partner with her. Stabbing the balls of her feet into the ground like pitons, she folds down and floats up in an even snap, yanking a somewhat dazed man in a tuxedo to safety with her. Whipping her head around, she stares at Usagi with eyes somewhere between incisive and insane, reeling so off balance that she can't even muster a focused anger. Her voice is strained and throaty at Usagi's apology. "It's...fine..."

They're peeled off one by one, and though they lose so many of their number, it takes place over so many minute cuts that she doesn't even nearly notice, focusing almost entirely on the task of the dance. As the momentum halts and her senses return to her, she realizes that there are precious few left in the room, and far fewer as the men leave. She wears a red that reaches just below her knees, a red poinsettia in her hair, red gloves extending barely past her elbows and red high heels clacking against the polished floor. Not long ago they'd been escorted everywhere. Ceremony and protocol dictated every action. Now the grounds seem suddenly abandoned and they're beckoned through an open door.

Rei steps beyond the threshold, and nearly halts in place as she takes in its sight. Outside the manor is drenched in garish illumination. Here there is little beyond treacherous shadow and uncertain stepping stones of light. The sculptures, or such, violently clash with aesthetic tradition. The serene among them don't stand out so badly..the gleeful seem strange but still benign. But then the figures contort with astonishment, and Rei Hino cannot think of another in her experience that could be compared.

A shock arrests her utterly. Goosebumps sprout along her forearms and the back of her neck with all the sudden fury of an algae bloom. The problem with latent psychic attenuation is that it's difficult to separate an ill instinct from actual warning signs..but when they cross a statue that bears an uncanny resemblance to a terrified girl of irrefutable spirit, she halts so violently that she might as well have been hurtling towards the edge of a clff, and grasps Usagi's arm so suddenly and forcefully that she squeezes the blood from the spot. Her eyes widen and she seems shaken.

Her voice is a little ragged and pockmarked. She murmurs to her companion as the temperature of her blood shifts, and she enters an entirely different paradigm. "Look out."

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

It's so painful to experience this; they're like dead cold fish even if they execute the moves perfectly. Nori feels a cold melancholy, wondering if, perhaps, she really isn't suited for this world, no matter how well she fits for a while.

And then - the Countess.

Nori doesn't bow; she curtseys. She may lose points for this but perhaps she is merely here for the ball. As they're gestured forwards she joins the group, taking a moment to murmur to Usagi, "Are you alright...?"

Of course, then she sees - the statue.

Nori does not scream. But her head tilts back; her eyes widen, whirling back like a terrified horse's; her lips part outwards as she lets out a half-muted "ah!" of surprise, staring into the stony eyes of that fearful icon of Madoka Kaname. Her fingers curl loosely as her blood turns to icy sea water... but for her, at least, that is almost positive. "How -"

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Promise(Reprise) - Silent Hill 2 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LApkHzyKxrw

Still looking chagrined from the incident, gloved hands are withdrawn from hers, and soon enough replaced after the collision with Rei that Usagi was glad she'd forgiven. Usagi takes that as a positive rather than a negative, "Oh! I didn't know my dance card would be so full tonight!" She beams full of bright, naive charm as the dance continues, more subdued than before.

She doesn't notice when her partner has vanished, because the elegant and beautiful Countess has replaced her, bidding her to follow. She does so, just behind Rei, entering into darkness and long shadows lit only by faint hints of celestial silver. At first, Usagi takes comfort in this, until it illuminates a particularly familiar wax statue. Usagi looks upon the one of Adorable Same Height Sister with recognition, "Madoka-chan! Congratulations on your gradua-" She takes a step closer, leaning in, "Wait why are you so still?"

Rigid all of a sudden, and trembling, her pupils dilate just a moment before she shrieks. The next she's clinging to Rei like she was the sole sanctuary in the room, blubbering little comments about 'This is so creepy!' and 'I'm scarreeeeddddd!' Even as Rei's hand grabs her arm and squeezes with such urgency, stilling her trembling just a little from the sheer force of it.

Contrary to popular belief, even her own personal belief. Usagi wasn't stupid, and while still terrified, her mind started to make the connection, and that connection was not that Countess Rose had a wax statue gallery of all of her graduates. Especially not ones crafted to make them look frightened out of her mind. If Rei was warning her, then she no longer doubted that perception, trusting in Rei's instincts immediately, she whispers shakily, still no less horrified from the experience but at least committed to what was likely going to happen, "I've got it."

Tugging at the threads some of the fake roses making up her dress, she reveals a glittering brooch that a careful arrangement of the fake flowers had concealed. Fortunately Luna had been there prompting her to do this since her gown had no pockets.

<Pose Tracker> Kunzite [None] has posed.

After all the pomp and circumstance, after all the grand ceremony, this hall is more of an omen. Rather than grand celebrations of princess-dom, these statues are just worrying - more than a few jarringly out of place in an otherwise-celebratory atmosphere. The lighting, or lack thereof, goes without explanation from the Countess leading the way.

Fuu's quip of a comment seems to go nigh-unheard; instead, the Countess seems determined to defy the atmosphere of the area. With every exhalation of fear, with every gasp of shock, she stands straighter and more confident. Bold - up until Usagi's very vocal panic, which causes her to pause with a small sigh near the strangely empty end of the hallway. Not much hall left - just enough room for five more statues, perhaps...

Homura's soft declaration, at last, gives her pause. Her heels come together, and then she turns to face the teens that have followed her here. Framed in the moonlight cast through grand picture windows, she smiles. "This is, of course, your graduation ceremony - however much I might wish to put some of you through remedial lessons. Still, I have seen enough; I doubt the princess Kunzite seeks is here tonight. The time has come for you to stand with your fellow candidates."

The shadows are deep, and seem to linger over the Countess for a moment - and then when the moonlight illuminates her once more, she has completely transformed. The woman standing there has navy blue skin, wearing a flowing dress adorned with countless amber seashells. More seashells are arranged along her arms and head, giving her an unearthly appearance - and her expression is utterly dismissive. "Now, as your final examination - do maintain your poise. I will not suffer undignified statues."

COMBAT: Kunzite transforms into Youma Form Shakokai!

COMBAT: Kunzite has fully healed himself. He is now ready to take on 5 opponents!

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Homura's eyes narrow softly. One question runs through her mind: can Madoka be saved? She repeats it, over and over, but she finds no answer. She hasn't seen this exact chain of events before. She knows it could be possible. She has clung to more forlorn hopes in the past. She does not show any outward surprise when the countess transforms into a youma. She steps backward; her eyes narrow, and she reaches a hand to her arm. For a brief moment, a shield appears; a silver and steel buckler, with two glass containers for violet sands. Blink, though, and you might miss it.

Because in the next moment, she has transformed. Homura is standing several meters away, in the white and purple garb she wears as a Puella Magi. One hand swings up through her hair and flicks it. The motion is one of utter calm and certainty, that belies and hides the inner turmoil that she feels right now. She seizes onto one thing: Madoka.

She turns to look at the youma. There is an unmistakable hardness in her eyes, as she draws a pistol out from her shield -- quite quickly -- and aims it for her. She fires a single shot, quickly, for her hand. "I don't intend to oblige you that," she says. "Turn them back. I won't tell you twice."

COMBAT: Homura Akemi transforms into Puella Magi Homura!

COMBAT: Homura Akemi has used Clockwork Shot on Kunzite.
COMBAT: Homura Akemi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kunzite fails to dodge Homura Akemi's Clockwork Shot, taking 12 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Homura Akemi is Psyched!

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Fuu lets out a quiet sigh, turning to face 'Countess Rose,' now revealed as a monster - and in a horrible breach of princessly etiquette, her left hand is now in her pocket. "Are you even a proper countess, whereever you're really from?" Fuu asks, smiling, drawing her hand back out of her pocket ...

Now sporting a triangular white 'glove' with gold trim, and a large green jewel centered over the back of her hand.

"Belief becomes power," Fuu begins, bringing her now-gloved hand up in front of her before she appends, "Winds, guide me!" - and a dark green whirlwind billows into existence around her, whipping her skirts up briefly before they're folded away into nothingness as a side effect of her transformation. By the time the whirlwind fades again, the Magic Knight of Wind stands in her place, her armor glinting in what light happens to catch the enameled protectors, the gold trim, or the green jewels which further adorn it. There's a brief flash of light as her bow and quiver materialize, but the Wind Knight doesn't even ready an arrow yet, instead calling out, "Winds of Admonishment!" as she tries to restrain Shakokai where she stands with another whirlwind. Only after casting her binding spell does the green-clad Magic Knight pull an arrow from her quiver, nocking it to her bowstring, a hooked forefinger bracing the arrow above the grip until she's ready to take the shot.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Magic Knight!

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Admonishment on Kunzite.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kunzite perfectly counters Fuu Hououji's Winds of Admonishment, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Counter!
COMBAT: Kunzite's counterattack, Perfectly Preserved, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Fuu Hououji!

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aWCKVEGvWI&list=PL5C894E719DEECEB2&index=32

Rei nods to Usagi's response, grateful but unsurprised. As often as she clashes with her friend, when the cards are down she doesn't doubt what she's capable of, and moments like this confirm her trust. With "however much I might wish" she turns on her heel, knowing that a true headmistress would not complain of constraint. By the time that Kunzite's name is mentioned she's in a full sprint for the door she'd just crossed. By the time the supposed Countess had revealed her true nature, Rei Hino was out the door..and slammed her back to the wall just beside it, screwing her eyes shut and transforming with a breathless urgency.

Her elaborate attire melts out of existence, replaced by her more familiar sailor uniform.Stilling herself for just a moment, she bursts back in through the door. Her face is etched into a hard and furious scowl.

She stands straight only for a moment before launching herself forward, long hair flapping behind her in a wild mane. Mid-jump a solitary card appears between her hands, and she leaps past the blue-skinned fiend with as much speed and assurance as a jousting knight. As Sailor Mars passes the youma, she hurls what she held at the demoness, driving her foot into the floor and attempting to pivot her momentum into a 180° about face, glowering while guarding the way forward.

COMBAT: Rei Hino has fully healed herself.

COMBAT: Rei Hino transforms into Sailor Mars!
COMBAT: Sailor Mars has used Rin, Pyou, Tou, Sha, Kai, Jin, Retsu, Zai, Zen! on Kunzite.
COMBAT: Sailor Mars has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kunzite narrowly dodges Sailor Mars's Rin, Pyou, Tou, Sha, Kai, Jin, Retsu, Zai, Zen!, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Kunzite's Fade ability activates! Kunzite's Flash ability activates! Analysis performed by Sailor Mars! Stun applied to Kunzite!

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Did she say? "Kunzite." Usagi whispers even as she starts to run, remembering all too well the first time she had seen the Shitennou for the first time. He introduced himself by punching a hole through Nephrite's chest, and bid his adieu with a show of his invincibility when he turned aside their Planet Attack casually. And while she was passed out, how could she not be later told of Kunzite cradling Zoisite as he died, in a scene of such beauty? If the Countess was one of his youma then this could be one of their toughest fights yet.

The shadows deepening proves just that, and contrary to her declaration for them to keep their poise, Usagi having already disobeyed by scrambling away and showing how little poise she actually had! To her credit, she doesn't use any of the wax statues for cover despite how tempting it might be remembering her responsibilities as a Princess, by weaving serpentine to zag when Rei zigs with a cry until she can make it into shadows of her own. Once in cover, she pulls off her long gloves and raises her hand high, enough that her fingertips are illuminated by the moon's light, as she whispers fervently "Moon Prism Power-" Her nails glitter immediately with sparkly polish, "-Make Up!"

"HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!" And then the Countess, laden with her seashells and gown that seemed like it flowed out of the sea itself is faced by a future Warrior Princess who stands across from her down the hall with a wide stance. Not one born into it merely through destiny, but one made through circumstance, and toil, and tears. It seems perhaps, that Kunzite was correct after all. "A Countess has a responsibility to protect their people and be an example to the next generation! I will never forgive anyone who abuses their position to lure innocent girls into a trap under the false pretenses of chasing their dreams!" There's a certain intensity in her eyes, that hides even the fright. "Sailor-Suited Pretty Soldier of Love and Justice: Sailor Moon!"

Spinning, she points, one arm over the other, the gesture showing her complete certainty that her next statement would be true. Even if like a spectre stated, she didn't know what it means, it didn't matter, because she knew how it made her feel to say them, "In the name of the moon, I will punish you!" Out of the corner of her vision, she finds herself admiring how flawlessly Mars incorporates her Miko training into her role as a Senshi, as if she created a perfect, passionate blend in her fighting style.

COMBAT: Usagi Tsukino transforms into Sailor Moon!

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used In The Name Of The Moon on Kunzite.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kunzite narrowly dodges Sailor Moon's In The Name Of The Moon, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Psyched! Kunzite's Fade ability activates! Kunzite's Flash ability activates! Cripple and Diversion applied to Kunzite!

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?53HZ7LoqhSQ

The statue, and now the arrival of that person - that creature. Nori feels her awareness surge back and forth as she looks towards the Countess - as she's revealed. No, as she speaks. Nori swallows dryly.

Perhaps she has killed her friend, after all. While, perhaps, less committed than Ms. Akemi, this strikes Nori hard and close and dear.

She staggers back from the others. Her dress rustles. The shadows deepen - there's a faint clank, as if someone was moving a cowbell? No, something else. A lantern. The darkness deepens further -- and within that shadowy unlight, strange lights sparkle in colors that don't quite exist.

"Twinned in the mirror," Nori Ankou says; "the North Wind comes," la Sirene du Nord finishes, and she slides out, and forwards, and to the side as Sailor Moon speaks things. She is perhaps hard to glimpse, but la Sirene seems to shrug out of the shadows towards the left-hand side of the hallway, one hand on her hip in an unladylike, insouciant sort of way, and the other holding her Brazen Pharos aloft, the light glittering on its ammolite chasing.

La Sirene then speaks, with a fervor and simplicity not normally found in her arch pronouncements. "Don't tell me what to do. You've done unforgivable things--!" Her voice lifts upwards. "I'll stand as I please and act as I please and I will break your wicked schemes over my knee!"

The Pharos flickers. A huge shadow ripples over the wall, inchoate and vast and lunging towards the youma -- it is of course less than nothing, but in this lighting, and with that kind of introduction, it may be quite plausible! La Sirene shoots the two Sailor Soldiers, Magic Knight, and Homura a glance, then back to her.

Kunzite, she thinks. Like that other man. Zoisite. "Perhaps," la Sirene says, coldly, "You'd like to say something about the odds."

COMBAT: Nori Ankou transforms into La Sirene du Nord!

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Brockenspectre on Kunzite.
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kunzite fails to counter La Sirene du Nord's Brockenspectre, taking 9 Fatigue damage! La Sirene du Nord is Psyched! Diversion applied to Kunzite!
COMBAT: Kunzite's counterattack, Perfectly Preserved, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to La Sirene du Nord!

<Pose Tracker> Kunzite [None] has posed.

Two sharp cracks resound as a duet - the sound of Homura's gun firing, and the sound of one of the shells on Shakokai's hand being shattered in a single blow. It's the speed of the attack - abrupt, without warning, and filled with turmoil and determination. The former Countess gasps, eyes snapping to the girl with the shield. "Hardly ladylike...but if there is the slightest chance that the Moon Princess is among them..."

Her answer to Fuu's question is an elegant curtsey. "A Countess twice over, if you must know - or do you claim the Dark Kingdom's courts to be inferior to those of this world? Really, now..." One of the seashells opens up as the howling windstorm comes barrelling toward her, spraying out a greenish fluid...and impossibly, a statue of one of Fuu's whirlwinds stands before her, perfectly preserved to stand in memorial.

From beyond the memorial, Sailor Mars charges in. For the first time, the 'Countess' falters from her grace, letting out an abrupt yell as the talisman sears against an arm. Furious, she tears it free, hurling the slip of paper to the ground. Even as Sailor Mars moves to flank her, her first priority is her dignity - regaining her stance to stand elegantly once more.

It is to this speech that Sailor Moon's speech finds its mark, and that superior look - so recently regainst - freezes on the youma's face. "Sailor Moon...." She shakes her head slowly, and there's a smile against that intensity. "Noblesse oblige. And in spite of that, candidate after candidate disappointed me - but then, it would not be necessary if not for my lord's quest for the Moon Princess. Would you kindly die, Sailor Moon?"

La Sirene's passion rings out, and with scarcely a glance, Shakokai unleashes another spray of liquid to drench and imprison it. Where the very wind was halted, though, the shadow slips past to envelop the youma in its chill. As it clears, a stern gaze meets hers. "Acting as you please? And here you wonder why you were not called to join these statues sooner."

The shells on the youma's shoulders open wide, and the greenish liquid sprays forth once more - this time, as a great wave to envelop those who stand before it. Homura, Fuu, Sailor Moon and la Sirene - all statues to join the collection. In the same motion, the youma takes a step closer to Mars, lashing out with a shadow-wreathed hand armored in a broken shell.

COMBAT: Kunzite has used Eternal Posture on La Sirene du Nord.

COMBAT: Kunzite has used Eternal Posture on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: Kunzite has used Eternal Posture on Homura Akemi.
COMBAT: Kunzite has used Eternal Posture on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Kunzite has used Royal Decree on Sailor Mars.
COMBAT: Kunzite has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon narrowly dodges Kunzite's Eternal Posture, taking 17 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon's Fade ability activates! Sailor Moon's Flash ability activates! Cripple and Trap applied to Sailor Moon!
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord narrowly counters Kunzite's Eternal Posture, taking 11 Fatigue damage! Cripple and Trap applied to La Sirene du Nord!
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord's counterattack, Les Mysteres, partially gets through, doing 19 Fatigue damage to Kunzite! Critical Counterhit!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly dodges Kunzite's Eternal Posture, taking 8 Fatigue damage! Fuu Hououji's Fade ability activates! Fuu Hououji's Flash ability activates! Cripple and Trap applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Sailor Mars narrowly dodges Kunzite's Royal Decree, taking 18 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Sailor Mars's Fade ability activates! Sailor Mars's Flash ability activates! Bind Break! All of Kunzite's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Homura Akemi narrowly dodges Kunzite's Eternal Posture, taking 16 Fatigue damage! Homura Akemi's Fade ability activates! Homura Akemi's Flash ability activates! Cripple applied to Homura Akemi!

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

"I wasn't going to make such a claim," the Wind Knight replies with a smile, which doesn't really waver even as she sees her spell encased in that quickly-solidifying fluid, transforming the whirlwind into a perfect sculpture of her spell's effect.

But she doesn't have time to dwell on how her spell was counteracted; she barely has time to reflect that perhaps she ought to work on an upgraded version of that spell. The next thing which pulls her attention is the convergence of Sailor Moon's arrival with Shakokai's mention of searching for a 'Moon Princess' .. and it's not the first time the Sailor Senshi have been present when somebody was openly looking for that unknown figure. Before she can put the pieces together further than that, though, a wave of that petrifying(?) liquid sprays forth -

And before the Wind Knight can get clear of it, her lower body is entrapped, her leap for safety most rudely interrupted, and she comes crashing down to the floor again, letting out a yelp of pain with the impact. It's not *bad*, she thinks, but being immobilized, or even being hindered, could quickly prove to be fatal against this enemy ... or as close to 'fatal' as the statue effect gets.

She really, REALLY doesn't want to find out first-hand how bad it really is. Her parents would be terribly distraught if Fuu didn't come home from the final seminar meeting, after all.

"Winds of Healing!!" the Magic Knight of Wind shouts, possibly with a hint of desperation in her voice; the cleansing, purifying winds gust through the room, wrapping around Sailor Moon, La Sirene du Nord, and Homura to try and free them from the petrification effect before it can fully set in. Perhaps the Wind Knight should have saved some of the restorative magic to free herself, but it's more her allies that she's worried about for a start.

She'll work on freeing herself if she has the chance; the loss of sensation in her legs is *not* a promising sign, though. She's hoping, among other things, that keeping her allies at full mobility will help to give her some necessary cover.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Homura Akemi.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Cleanse! All of La Sirene du Nord's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Cleanse! All of Sailor Moon's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Homura Akemi accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Cleanse! All of Homura Akemi's debuffs are cleared!

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuAzPR0ACVw

Sailor Mars' eyes twitch with a slightly taunting confidence as the youma flings her prayer to the ground with a rage that disqualifies nonchalance. All things being equal, it would have been far better if it had landed closer than its shoulder, but that didn't matter. She learned what she hoped to know. This beast is a creature of darkness, beyond a doubt.

The foe engulfs all of Rei's companions in a sickly green foam..but it is Rei alone who must respond to the fiend's lunge, striking at her with vile magic and the sharp and shattered fragments of a broken shield. Although she steps back with as much speed as she can manage, it doesn't amount to much. The jagged shards of a broken shell cut swathes of her cheek into finely etched ribbons, and blood dribbles down to her jaw, running along a fine channel to bead at her chin.

ei falters but does not fall. Lifting her spine and her head up with pride, she shakes off her wound and finds a darkly confident grin as she needs one. Whipping a hand up, she tosses an ofuda up into the air as though flicking a crumpled paper ball. By the time it declines back into her world, she lashes her other arm forward and back like a striking viper. A single jet stream of fire catapults beyond those fingers, penetrating the prayer that fell between it ind this agent of malice. Red heat becomes white-hot as it is filtered through a holy gauze, and sought to smite the abomination beyond.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Homura glances at Sailor Moon; her glance is long and hard, but she says nothing. Today, they are here for the same reason. She knows better than to scold her for intervening now. That intervention could be critical to saving Madoka.

Green liquid sprays out at Homura. She does not stop time to escape it; instead, she takes a quick step to the side, timed with that eerie perfection born of her athleticism and, perhaps, observation. The goop shoots close enough to her cheek and side to spray her. She feels it sticking to her, the magic seeping in -- but then the winds burst through the room, and send it flying off.

The Puella Magi glances at Fuu. She nods, before she looks back at Shakokai.

She begins to run to the side. She reaches into her shield -- and pulls out a long, cylindrical device. She throws the flashbang up high. The explosive comes flying down above the youma's head, before it explodes, a bright flash of light erupting in front of the youma. Hopefully it buys them a little time.

COMBAT: Homura Akemi has used Flashbang on Kunzite.

COMBAT: Homura Akemi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Mars has used Evil, Begone! on Kunzite.
COMBAT: Sailor Mars has finished attacking.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

"What about it is necessary!?" There's fire in her voice, not quite as brightly burning as Rei's could ever be, but she realizes in that moment that this isn't a plan to collect energy, like Jadeite, or Nephrite. This was yet another plan put into place to wipe out her and the Senshi. "Just because I exist is no excuse to hurt these girls!"

In that moment, she resolves to save Madoka at any cost, and if she's- She didn't want to think about it. And yet, Homura's transformation, her presence makes that impossible. The two had had their disagreements in the past over this very subject! Was it her fault that Madoka was in this position tonight?

Proving by her actions that she's going to disobey again the polite command to 'die', Sailor Moon shrieks in panic, and leaps away in a dive to avoid the wave of greenish fluid. Even though she hits hard, she's up in a moment, running as much as she can, legs pumping as she hurries to duck behind the cover of a large Corinthian style pillar that held up a planted of flowers just as the fluid hits it, turning the lower portion of it into wax and splattering her legs with little waxy blotches.

Looking at her legs in shock, Sailor Moon recoils and scoots away from the pillar as her legs start to harden, shivering as she peaks out at the Youma from behind it. Fortunately the winds of healing wash over her legs, causing the wax to flake off in a moment. Breathing in relief, "Well sorry if we're not your ideal graduates!"

And then as if a lightbulb went off in her head, she comes up with an idea. Standing up, she tries to keep in mind the Youma's position before she puts all of her weight into a powerful side kick, her boots driving against the waxen part of the pillar. "Me for example? I've always been a little-" For a moment, it shudders, before it topples in the direction of Shakokai, spilling damp soil and flowers as it goes, seconds before the still heavy marble of the pillar drives into the ground. Fortunately, it wouldn't crash down close to any of the wax statues, right? "-clumsy!"

COMBAT: Kunzite narrowly braces Homura Akemi's Flashbang, taking 4 Fatigue damage!

COMBAT: Kunzite narrowly dodges Sailor Mars's Evil, Begone!, taking 36 Fatigue damage! Kunzite's Fade ability activates! Kunzite's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Princess School Dropout on Kunzite.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kunzite narrowly braces Sailor Moon's Princess School Dropout, taking 15 Fatigue damage!

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The shadow is caught, a black smear on the wall now; la Sirene scoffs at the youma. "I love the beauty and the style and the glamor and the grace, my dear lady, but I do not NEED your approval --"

That fluid smashes outwards with pellucid force. "Les Mysteres!" la Sirene shouts, striking home in the air. The blurring black-and-silver spell slaps into the fluid, but it strikes against her dress nonetheless, burdening it, rendering it waxen. (Perhaps this shows the wisdom of her outlandish outfit.) The winds of healing blast it off before it can do more than that. Hissing in a breath -

Oh, a flash bang is rising in the air. You know, la Sirene thinks as she looks up at it, I think I remember this girl, and I -

She pulls the lever on the Brazen Pharos and that flashbang casts a shadow that shouldn't be. This shields la Sirene from the glare - and perhaps casts a true and perfect darkness over the creature, the youma, the Countess.

"Do you know the court of Eve?" she calls, cryptically, at the youma. "Your style almost reminds me of home... though, of course, one as wicked as you could never prosper there." (She hopes.)

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Pieces of the Perfect Black on Kunzite.

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kunzite perfectly counters La Sirene du Nord's Pieces of the Perfect Black, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Counter!
COMBAT: Kunzite's counterattack, Perfectly Preserved, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to La Sirene du Nord!

<Pose Tracker> Kunzite [None] has posed.

Waxy fluid, spraying out to preserve the youma's enemies as statues for eternity, is stymied by the arcane winds conjured by the Knight of Wind. Even that brief touch is draining - but for most of those battling Shakokai, the effects don't linger. Fuu herself finds the statue-like covering on her legs tiring - and bit by bit, it begins to spread. Gradual, perhaps, but inevitable...

A second evil-banishing talisman sears out, this time accompanied by purifying flame. Wary of the threat, Shakokai abandons her imperious stance to lunge to the side - and so loses only one massive shoulder-shell to the flames. The lunge puts her in a position to see the flashbang coming, and waxy liquid fires out as a screen against the light - utterly engulfing the shadow that follows in its wake. When the flashbang fades, there's a new statue - one that seems even more wrong than all that came before.

Slowly, she straightens up once more, as imperious as ever. "The court of Eve? It has been quite some time...and you think yourself worthy of them?" Her gaze wanders from la Sirene to the Sailor Senshi to furious Homura - passing over the becoming statue behind them. "Few among these girls were truly worthy, but even they surpassed those last few. Truly pitif-"

And then a Corinthian pillar comes crashing down, interrupting the youma's taunt as rudely as the worst princess.

The youma struggles underneath - before a bolt of power strikes it, crumbling it to dust in an instant. Half-panicked, Shakokai turns around, to where a white-haired man is framed in the doorway. One hand rests on the jamb, and his eyes shift from a flat almost-dead stare to piercing hatred as he looks at the assembled Senshi.

"My lord! I-" "A statue."

There's a pause, as the youma takes in her lord's abrupt interruption.

"W-what do..." "A statue. Of her. I don't care what else you have to do."

Kunzite's grip tightens on the door jamb, as Shakokai - struggling to maintain her poise as she's nearly shaking - lunges forward. The remaining shoulder-mounted seashell opens again, this time unleashing a barrage of pearls at Homura and la Sirene; the senshi, by contrast, are subjected to another wave of petrifying foam.

COMBAT: Kunzite has used Regal Statue on Fuu Hououji.

COMBAT: Kunzite has used Pernicious Pearls on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Kunzite has used Pernicious Pearls on Homura Akemi.
COMBAT: Kunzite has used Eternal Posture on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: Kunzite has used Eternal Posture on Sailor Mars.
COMBAT: Kunzite has finished attacking.
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord narrowly braces Kunzite's Pernicious Pearls, taking 19 Fatigue damage! La Sirene du Nord's Block ability activates! La Sirene du Nord's Parry ability activates! Tangle applied to La Sirene du Nord!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly counters Kunzite's Regal Statue, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Tangle applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji's counterattack, Gale Arrow, partially gets through, doing 7 Fatigue damage to Kunzite! Critical Counterhit!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon narrowly braces Kunzite's Eternal Posture, taking 12 Fatigue damage! Cripple and Trap applied to Sailor Moon!
COMBAT: Homura Akemi narrowly dodges Kunzite's Pernicious Pearls, taking 32 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Homura Akemi's Fade ability activates! Homura Akemi's Flash ability activates! Blind and Tangle applied to Homura Akemi!

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Homura's heart is pounding in her chest. Is the stuff that she was struck with fixable, once it has been applied? Will the Wind Knight do that -- or Sailor Moon? She considers that for a moment; then she realizes that she must focus on the battle, as she sees the strange statue left in the wake of the flashbang. Her lips part into a grimace, as she leaps again, preparing to flank her.

The pearls erupt from her shoulder. Homura's eyes snap wide open, her hand dropping down to the shield to spin it -- and before she can, several strike her in the chest and neck. One hits her chin, and her head and hair fly back, as she is forced into a midair backflip.

Then she spins the shield into its time stop configuration. The sands of time begin trickling and--

--Homura is on the other side of the youma. From the direction that she stood in, two rounds fire, shooting right at Shakokai's left side. Homura is now on the right, the Desert Eagle in her hands leveled coldly at the youma. She pulls the trigger and fires a third shot to join the two that came from the moment in which time ceased to flow. Her eyes, though, drift to Kunzite.

COMBAT: Homura Akemi has used Bullet Time on Kunzite.

COMBAT: Homura Akemi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kunzite narrowly braces Homura Akemi's Bullet Time, taking 6 Fatigue damage!

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

The Wind Knight's legs are already encased in that waxy liquid, and she can feel the numbness working its way up her body ... but her arms are still mobile, and she still has an arrow ready on her bow; all the green-clad Magic Knight needs to do is draw the arrow back, take aim, and let fly. She *doesn't* need to call out, "Gale Arrow!" and put the power of the wind behind her shot, guiding it and speeding the shaft on its way ... but it can't hurt to make the extra effort, and if the youma's paralysis depends on Shakokai's own focus, hurting her can only be an asset to the gathered heroines.

The physical part of the shot is, of course, a far different matter than the formal archery she's more accustomed to; 'different' doesn't make it impossible, though. On top of that, she's already pitting her will against the paralyzing, numbing influence of the petrifying fluid; she can't be *certain* of how much she's staving it off, but ... she tries moving her legs, willing them to work, to respond, to do *something*.

And she can't tell whether she's managing anything.

More of the foam is unleashed against the Sailor Senshi, and the Wind Knight can't be sure of what effect those pearls might have until she sees it happen - attention she can't spare from her own struggle. To assist her focus, she pulls another arrow out and draws back, twisting to get a better angle; if she can spear one of those clamshells closed, what good might that do? Such as the one on the left side of Shakokai's chest, about where a human's heart would be found. And even if 'sealing' the shell closed doesn't stop her, an arrow in the chest tends to be a great distraction.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Basic Archery on Kunzite.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

La Sirene's eyes widen. "You do?"

Then a pillar falls, and is destroyed by the man lingering behind the youma - la Sirene's eyes turn towards him and in their turn see that figure. Yes, she thinks. Yes, she remembers him.

But the words from the youma rip through her, and she raises her voice. "Then you insult it! You think you can hunt for perfection, that you can force a thousand times thousands into some narrow mold? Then you only know the court of Eve the way that you know what a Frenchman is!"

La Sirene's arms spread outwards. "You cannot force people into these molds - even if you think you've succeeded, you produce only something fragile...!" Her voice quivers; strangling on the pain, wondering if, really, for real and for true, her friend is now nothing more than was.

All of that rage and frustration is sent outwards into a single, hopefully-lethal glare towards the youma - the man behind him will have to wait.

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Eyes in the Mist on Kunzite.

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kunzite fails to dodge Fuu Hououji's Basic Archery, taking 10 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Kunzite narrowly dodges La Sirene du Nord's Eyes in the Mist, taking 5 Fatigue damage! Kunzite is Quipped! Kunzite's Fade ability activates! Kunzite's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Mars narrowly dodges Kunzite's Eternal Posture, taking 15 Fatigue damage! Sailor Mars's Fade ability activates! Sailor Mars's Flash ability activates! Cripple and Trap applied to Sailor Mars!

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

There he is, at the door. Stiffening, Sailor Moon dares to take a look back at him, into those eyes so full of piercing hatred. When she looks back, Shakokai is lunging and she's leaping back. She's about to move into cover again when she discovers, that right behind her is- Madoka's statue. And the foam was still coming.

It's possible that if the attack hits, it could knock Adorable Same-Height Sister over or a myriad of other tragic possibilities. Sailor Moon doesn't know. And thus in a split second, she makes her decision in her ignorance. Taking a step forward away from it, she raises the Moon Stick, her arms crossed as she takes the brunt of the attack head on.

Petrifying foam layers over each of her limbs, giving her a greenish cast to her Fuku. Even the Moon Stick is covered, for a moment.

A silvery glint within the Ginzuishou prevents the Moon Stick from being fully encased, the wax sloughing off of it, but it offers no such protection to the Moon Princess, who finds that each movement is harder, more painful than the fast, until she finds it nigh impossible to move from the waist up, and even where she can, her arms are limited in their movements. The wince of agony in her eyes speaking volumes as to how rough a time she's having. Maybe Kunzite will get a new statue for the gallery after all.

And yet, "Mars! I can't move! Let's do the thing!" Perhaps thinking 'the thing' is unsubtle as code she qualifies it, "The one where you-" Her eyes flicker up to her forehead, as if to say 'get my meaning.' "-get 'it' all fired up!" Smooth Usagi. Smooth.

Her tiara glints in silvery light, before it becomes a shimmering disk of luminescence as she takes it into her hand with stilted movements. "Moon Tiara-" Despite being unable to pose in her customary pose from the wax all over her limbs, all it takes is a flick of her wrist to show off her frisbee mastery. It sails towards Shakokai, on the way perhaps intercepted by the passionate blazing flames of a good friend, and better Senshi. "-Action!"

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has started a combo targeting Kunzite!

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sailor Mars' strike landed true..but it's far from enough. For all that she'd accomplished she hadn't truly stymied the beast. The element of surprise is gone, neutralized by the strong showing of the mahou shoujo's retort, but the war's not won.

Sailor Mars feels Kunzite before she sees him, sparing him a quick whiplash of her neck to and fro, but she doesn't focus on him..not yet. If he attacks it will be another matter, but that doesn't seem to be his sort's way. If he's distracting the demon then all the better.

Now the calcifying ooze has her name on it. Still fatigued from her first leap aside in all its mixed results, she attempts to dodge this next strike in turn..and like the first only barely evades its full force, catching most but not all of it and suffering the consequences. Her limbs become leaden, her joints gummed up by a paralyzing goop. It feels like swimming in a pool only for the water to be replaced with mud.

But Sailor Moon's voice rings out even as she struggles against this muck. Her gaze twitches with a slightly wild gleam and meets Usagi's. "R-right!" She nods with more assurance than she's likely due, but eases into that confidence all the same. "All fired up!"

Her arms shudder and struggle against the constrainting mess, twitching their way into a confident point. Her fingers clasped together and aimed towards the youma, she closes her eyes..the flesh beneath the glue-like goo glows red and hot, and slithers along her flesh down into her arms and her hands beynod...a spiraling stream of fire escapes her grasp in a wild ride, striking Sailor Moon's heavenly disc and joining its fury to that grace.

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has joined the combo started by Sailor Moon!

COMBAT: COMBO! Sailor Moon and Sailor Mars have used Combo: Order up - hot and ready!, composed of Moon Tiara Action and Searing Serpent, on Kunzite.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Mars has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kunzite fails to dodge Sailor Moon and Sailor Mars's Combo: Order up - hot and ready!, taking 67 Fatigue damage!

<Pose Tracker> Kunzite [None] has posed.

A pure feeling drives Shakokai forward, to confront Puella Magi and Knight and Siren and Senshi. Fear, after all, can be just as pure as anything else. With Kunzite behind her, idly crushing the door jamb into expensive fragments, Shakokai focuses on the four who still stand as threats...up until arrows of wind and wood lash out from one she'd thought out of the fight. Two blows, combined, and managing to bind one of the shells shut.

In that instant - when surprise took over from terror - Homura slides through frozen time, firing a trio of bullets into the youma's back. Shells there take the brunt of the impact well, but perfect poise is ruined once more. That drifting gaze, however, finds an answer - a reflection of Homura's own gaze. The look of one who's lost all that matters...

Arrows and bullets found their mark, but Shakokai rises again. With Kunzite at her back, she could do no less. It's not confidence, but it's grace all the same - the grace of a noble who fears the consequences of disgrace. Imperious is the look that meets la Sirene's authoritative tone - but something in the pained plea after that, something in the furious glare, something gives Kunzite's servant reason to pause.

That pause proves devastating. However subtle or not Sailor Moon's signals might have been, this youma has never personally faced the senshi before. The pose is unexpected, and by all rights those two should just be statues...and so the burning disc, searing down the dark hallway, conveys more than power as it sears through Shakokai's other shoulder-shell and destroys it utterly. As calcified shards rain down, she swats at the fires now burning on her side...

"...I thought I told you. Just kill her already." Kunzite's hatred pierces in that gaze, burning past utter weariness...and then, as the petrifying fluid begins to crawl up the senshi, he averts his gaze. "Have it dealt with by the time I return." The shadows shift, and he vanishes - leaving the youma to finish her task.

The youma, for her part, looks back to the now-empty doorway. "Hang on...did you want her dead, or a statue? I can't afford to mess this up..." Injured, burning, she waves a hand - and the petrified whirlwind shatters into a storm of stone-like shards peppering the area. "You all just hang on a minute while I figure this out."

COMBAT: Kunzite has used Regal Statue on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Kunzite has used Regal Statue on Sailor Mars.
COMBAT: Kunzite has used Waxed Whirlwind on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Kunzite has used Waxed Whirlwind on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Kunzite has used Waxed Whirlwind on Homura Akemi.
COMBAT: Kunzite has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji perfectly braces Kunzite's Waxed Whirlwind, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Brace!
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord narrowly braces Kunzite's Waxed Whirlwind, taking 4 Fatigue damage! La Sirene du Nord's Block ability activates! La Sirene du Nord's Parry ability activates! Stun applied to La Sirene du Nord!
COMBAT: Homura Akemi fails to dodge Kunzite's Waxed Whirlwind, taking 9 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Sailor Mars narrowly braces Kunzite's Regal Statue, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon narrowly braces Kunzite's Regal Statue, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Tangle applied to Sailor Moon!

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Homura knows the look in Kunzite's eyes. She has had that look before -- and, unlike her, he has no way to do it over. She can empathize with him, but by now, she has learned to compartmentalize that feeling. After all, the person that she cares for most hasn't been lost in this timeline. Not yet.

Please, she thinks, please don't be too late.

Her teeth grit together with the thought. The stone-like shards slam into her; one of them strikes into her stomach, ripping through her defenses and cutting into her. The white coat is stained red where it hits. Homura hisses, softly, and knocks the piece of petrified whirlwind away, before she looks back at Yakokai.

She draws an assault rifle from her shield, this time; the girl cocks the weapon with a smooth and expert motion, before she lifts it up. She flicks the safety off with her thumb, then pulls the trigger -- and a burst of rounds fires from the barrel of the rifle, the muzzle flash lighting up the hallway.

COMBAT: Homura Akemi has used Full Auto Burst on Kunzite.

COMBAT: Homura Akemi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kunzite narrowly braces Homura Akemi's Full Auto Burst, taking 5 Fatigue damage!

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

It's a moment that the Wind Knight would just as soon not give Shakokai - and when her own whirlwind is 'freed' from its waxy confines, she reaches out with her will alone, trying to control it once again. She can't protect everyone else, as much as she wants to, and the thrown pieces of hardened wax are beyond her control once they're thrown out of the wind's grasp.

Fortunately, she's still flat on the floor ... and between the added extension of her will, hunkering down with the parts of her body that she *can* move to dodge the storm of wax shards, and a reflexive twitch of her legs -

Well, the wax CAN be broken; Shakokai just proved that herself. The cracking noise from the Wind Knight's legs makes her wince, but a quick look 'downwards'/behind herself confirms that it's only the hardened wax that broke, freeing her knees and ankles, and exposing a lot of her thighs and calves as well. There are some awkward fragments she can't take the time to remove yet, but it's enough to let her get back to her feet. "I'm really sorry, youma-san," the Magic Knight of Wind says with a polite smile as she gets up, "but that's a minute we really can't afford to give you. All of the girls you've trapped as statues, all of the deceptions you've arrayed to lure us into this trap ... the Dark Kingdom will be empty-handed as far as your plot goes, I'm afraid."

She raises her bow, nocking another arrow, and shifts into as close to a proper kyuudou stance as the wax clinging to her legs will permit; a stiff breeze gusts around her, tousling her hair and her skirts. "Gale Arrow!" she calls out, loosing the drawn arrow -

And as with her desperate counter before, a sudden gust of wind surges around the arrow as it flies, a tailwind that accelerates and stabilizes the shaft to drive the keen-edged arrowhead deep into the youma's body.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Gale Arrow on Kunzite.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kunzite narrowly dodges Fuu Hououji's Gale Arrow, taking 19 Fatigue damage! Fuu Hououji is Psyched! Kunzite's Fade ability activates! Kunzite's Flash ability activates!

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

As the flaming disk strikes Shakokai's shoulder, Sailor Moon pumps her hand holding the Moon Stick high into the air. "We did it Mars!" And while it didn't finish Shakokai off, her enthusiasm doesn't dim. While fighting was always frightening and never easy for Sailor Moon - she didn't mind this. Little victories of teamwork which she could celebrate with her friends.

And yet, a strangled sound leaves her throat as Kunzite issues the command to kill her already and disappeared. Sailor Moon waves her arms in front of her, "Well if you don't know, it's better if you don't do either! You don't want to make him mad!" And yet, she isn't likely to listen, as evidenced by the fact that the wax was creeping up, above her waist now, most of her body beneath that numb.

The fear of becoming a very real wax statue terrifies her. Swallowing however, she resolves to try something exceedingly desperate and bold. Rocking from one side, to the other, she allows herself to topple over. But before she hits she puts down a hand, and presses up with all of her might, using her enhanced strength as a Mahou Shoujo to send her into the air.

Sailing through the hallway, she then descends even more rapidly, with arms crossed in an attempt to slam right into Shakokai with all the increased weight of her wax-laden form, right into her upper body with the cry of. "Sailor Body Attack!"

No matter what would happen though, she'd be toppling onto the floor afterwards, and getting up might prove to be more of a challenge if some of that wax doesn't crack off, and soon.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Sailor Body Attack on Kunzite.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking.

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The whirlwind washes over la Sirene du Nord. She feels her leggings tighten up. Maybe her legs as well. The Pharos is still in her hand but her arm is moving slowly. Swallowing, she says, "... Hang on?"

She forces a step forwards. "You hold this seminar."

Another step with a loud crack of waxed fabric. "You tell us... how we are poor candidates..."

Another step, la Sirene grimacing at the pain of fabric clinging to her legs. "And worst of all you have done these horrid things to our dearest friends --"

The Brazen Pharos comes up. "And you want us to hang on."

"I deny your request!" The front opens - and the blackness pours out, faster than light and colder than a youma's soul (perhaps).

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Pieces of the Perfect Black on Kunzite.

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has finished attacking.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCVqfgc2730&list=PL30CA5500906F0A4B&index=10

Squaring her feet in place, Sailor Mars' face hardens with righteous resolve. She feels elated by how solidly her combined strike with Sailor Moon seemed to land, but the battle isn't nearly finished..not until the statues moved could it truly be over. Besides, the supernatural gunk continues to scale up her body, solidifying in a slow but steady advance. In a matter of minutes she will surely be paralyzed, but she doesn't have room to fret about that now..and so she pushes it out of her conscious mind, even as her subconscious is electrified with a quiet terror.

It's easy enough to witness the rapport between the 'noblewoman' and the 'Heavenly King.' Rei feels sorry for her..just as she's felt sorry for other fiends bound to the will of these desperate egoists. It won't stop her, but she feels sympathy for these creatures, caught up in the futile will of cowardly officers unwilling to fight.

Shaking her head like a wet beast shedding water by the droplet, Rei tenses her jawline, staring daggers into the blue-skinned devil. "I don't know if you're Countess Rose or if you've replaced her. But you've lured in girls by taking advantage of the purity of their hearts. You've performed an unspeakable sin upon Madoka Kaname and several other girls..and whether you were acting on orders or not, that will not stand. In the name of Mars, you will be smited!"

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has used In The Name Of Mars on Kunzite.

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kunzite narrowly dodges Sailor Moon's Sailor Body Attack, taking 24 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Kunzite's Fade ability activates! Kunzite's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Kunzite narrowly braces La Sirene du Nord's Pieces of the Perfect Black, taking 12 Fatigue damage! Blind applied to Kunzite!
COMBAT: Kunzite narrowly dodges Sailor Mars's In The Name Of Mars, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Mars is Psyched! Kunzite's Fade ability activates! Kunzite's Flash ability activates!

<Pose Tracker> Kunzite [None] has posed.

A statue stands among numerous other princesses. A little shorter, perhaps, the expression a little more fearful - but what is most important is that it's a statue of someone precious to Homura. Is it too late? There's no way to know, until the battle is done.

Bullets ring out in a rapid-fire, cracking over and over against hardened shells. The youma's strongest armor, beginning to crack under the staccato refrain...

...and damaged enough by the assault that the wind-enhanced arrow punches through the cracks, piercing through the youma. Again, she lets out a screech of fury - redoubled as the artwork in progress breaks apart to free Fuu from an eternal fate. One hand comes up, gathering a terrible strength...

...interrupted as a part-statue slams into her from the side. Sailor Moon's desperate flight, hindered by the weight of the wax, turns that same wax into a weapon. Some of it begins to crack from the strike, but Shakokai is sent sprawling...

...right into the path of utter blackness. Something in that blackness seems to particularly detest the youma, la Sirene's admonitions aside. When it begins to fade, scraps of shadow linger on Shakokai - the youma now barely able to see those who are challenging it.

Unable to see, perhaps, but certainly able to hear. Thoroughly chastised by Sailor Mars, she staggers back, hesitation turned against her. In a moment, confidence turned to near-defeat, thanks to five souls working in impromptu tandem. Almost like an elaborate dance, in the end.

The youma - the former Countess - backs up to nearly the wall before finding her footing once more. "You think this is some kind of game? That you can just play at taking a role for a day, before moving on? You lack conviction - you, and all those standing here. While I may not know Kunzite's wish, I know this much..."

Every shell remaining on the youma cracks open at once, a final storm of green-grey waxy fluid surging forth. "Allowing the Moon Princess to escape is unacceptable!"

COMBAT: Kunzite has used Eternal Posture on La Sirene du Nord.

COMBAT: Kunzite has used Eternal Posture on Homura Akemi.
COMBAT: Kunzite has used Eternal Posture on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: Kunzite has used Eternal Posture on Sailor Mars.
COMBAT: Kunzite has used Eternal Posture on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Kunzite has finished attacking.
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord fails to dodge Kunzite's Eternal Posture, taking 25 Fatigue damage! Cripple and Trap applied to La Sirene du Nord!
COMBAT: Sailor Mars narrowly dodges Kunzite's Eternal Posture, taking 20 Fatigue damage! Sailor Mars's Fade ability activates! Sailor Mars's Flash ability activates! Trap applied to Sailor Mars!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly dodges Kunzite's Eternal Posture, taking 5 Fatigue damage! Fuu Hououji's Fade ability activates! Fuu Hououji's Flash ability activates! Trap applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Homura Akemi narrowly dodges Kunzite's Eternal Posture, taking 13 Fatigue damage! Homura Akemi's Fade ability activates! Homura Akemi's Flash ability activates! Cripple and Trap applied to Homura Akemi!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon narrowly dodges Kunzite's Eternal Posture, taking 18 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon's Fade ability activates! Sailor Moon's Flash ability activates! Cripple and Trap applied to Sailor Moon!

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

"You think so little of us, youma-san?" the Magic Knight of Wind calls out, even as she leaps with all the strength she can muster - not enough to COMPLETELY evade the petrifying spray of foam; her feet and lower legs get a fresh layer, and she stumbles badly when her feet reach the floor again ... but she refuses to stay down, forcing herself back to her feet, glancing about at her increasingly less-mobile allies.

"Winds of Healing!!"

The only hard part of her decision is who to focus the restorative winds upon; if she wasn't dividing her attention between protecting herself and supporting her sisters in arms, she could potentially do quite a bit more healing, blow the wax off of all of her allies, perhaps even liberate Madoka-san and the other girls from their waxen prisons, at least those who haven't died as a result of it by now.

But she *CAN* focus the Winds of Healing about the two Sailors and Homura, and she does that. Sailor Moon, she realizes by now, is the linchpin - the focus of the Dark Kingdom's aggression, although the Wind Knight doesn't know *why*. Mars, the other Sailor Senshi here, is a natural choice as well, and the time-stopping, gun-slinging magical girl with the long dark hair looked like she needed to be cut free of the wax before it could harden again.

With her healing spell unleashed, the Wind Knight turns her attention back to Shakokai. "The first night of this Princess Seminar, over dinner, you asked all of us what we believed it meant to be a princess. I'm not of noble birth or royal blood, and I don't pretend otherwise ... but what I said to you then, I say to you again now - with no disguises nor deception."

She stands up straighter as if remembering the lessons on proper posture and stance; her bow and quiver vanish in streaks of light, to be replaced by her sword as it materializes in her hands.

"It means to accept and uphold our duty to the people of this city, of this *world* ... to be a symbol, to embody and represent the best of our people, and the ideals that we've been chosen to protect and uphold. That is what it means to be not only a princess ...

"But also, to be a magical girl."

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Sailor Mars.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Homura Akemi.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Cleanse! All of Sailor Moon's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Sailor Mars accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Cleanse! All of Sailor Mars's debuffs are cleared!

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaL6NxTvWRM

The fiend plays every last card in her hand. As all the shells split open and bellow their sound and fury, Sailor Mars knows that things are approaching their final stage. One way or another the fight will end soon enough.

She does her best to step and stagger her way out of the blast, but her ankles might as well be burdened with blocks of concrete, and she can barely muster urgency. When the fell warrior erupts into the full depths of her rage and hate, it is remarkable enough that Rei sidesteps the worst of the fallout..but in truth she catches most of the exploding shells no matter how desperately she staggers.

As the violent eruption of unholy oil sprays and seeps into her legs, Rei initiates the first step on the road towards hyperventilation, the parasitic shell growing along her body and threatening to strangle her in moments. Hunching down in place, her eyes snap shut like mousetraps, acrid tears squeezing out from the corners and irritating her eyelids crimson. Her lungs swell and bellow, and her flesh begins to glow luminescent.

Katakana marks itself upon her flesh, complex characters tattooing themselves upon her skin, shifting into other emblems at a frenetic pace, moving and dancing as rapidly as cooling magma. Most people regard the act of prayer as a controlled and conscientious gesture, but in this moment the holy words seized control of Rei Hino's body more desperately than any rat upon any sinking ship. As the symbols strangled one another for dominance, they began to shimmer with a halcyon lught..and moments later her entire body is shiny and chrome. An alabaster fire immolates her entire body.

The near-colorless inferno seizes hold of her and for a few moments the teenage girl's body cannot be seen. The noxious and unholy glue melts away from her flesh, a meager containment for the righteous fury burning from beneath, and its remnants evaporate in moments.

Blind and unseeing, Sailor Mars falls forward in a slouch, her chin striking the ground just before her arms, back arched into the air as the divine aura rips itself from her skin, coalescing above her with all the chaotic disorder of the birth of the universe. A gentle holy wind washes over her as she strikes the earth, blowing her hair up and cooling the sweat upon her brow, and she shudders with a subconscious gratitude for it.

Spitting energy all about, the blob of divine wrath seems to attempt to blow out, but is pulled back in...it rails forward but crashes back, as though it is failing to break through the shell of an egg. But it rallies..and bursts forth as though shattering a dam, flooding out in a tidal wave. Sailor Mars collapses unconscious as it leaves her, her spirit rising and rallying to drown out the demon of the corridor.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Sailor Mars has used By Fire Be Cleansed! on Kunzite.

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has finished attacking.

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Pushing forwards, la Sirene thinks that she's building up momentum, even as she sees Sailor Moon take her dive, and as chastisement is doled out by the sailor of fire and passion. Then comes the surging waxy fluid, and la Sirene does not dodge it at all.

Would she have liked to? Yes. She even raised one arm to half-guard her face. But did she manage it? No. She did not.

La Sirene du Nord says nothing in reply, as the wax sets and cools and freezes her in place. Her lantern dangles from her frozen hand.

no, la Sirene thinks: I can't.

No: This is too much. Madoka's there. Poor, dear Madoka.

I don't have to do much, she thinks within her numbed body. All I have to do is curl my fingers. Squeeze a little tighter.

La Sirene du Nord doesn't move as Fuu explains herself. Her mouth is sealed shut. The wax sits heavily on her face. Her head tilts forwards fractionally, hair gummed up into an outline.

Nothing happens.

There is a moment of black futility in the heart of la Sirene du Nord, rising up like a familiar friend, the rotting cushions of comfortable numbness, and then she presses further forwards and her hand tightens and squeezes on the Brazen Pharos's grip. And the lens opens.

Where before a flicker of sharpest unlight had come out, a strip of implausible darkness breaking the common laws of light and space, now a torrent comes out; a practical surging sea of it, undulating with touches of hidden un-colors around the edges. Flaking wax falls from la Sirene's arm as she hoists the lantern just a bit higher. To eye level for the youma, so she can see the shining within.

See it - feel it - and then?

Well, la Sirene does not know. Her faith, she supposes, will have to rest on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Pieces of the Perfect Black on Kunzite.

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Homura Akemi accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Cleanse! All of Homura Akemi's debuffs are cleared!

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

When the wax partially crumbles off, Sailor Moon tries to scramble to her feet, only to find that it only came off a single foot. Nearly stumbling in the act, she somehow manages to get upright, pushing herself up and hopping forward on one foot, for a while looking like some sort of ridiculous bunny as she tries to get some distance from Shakokai. Her efforts are only partially in vain, as more waves of waxy fluid come her way, Sailor Moon leaps high into the air and finds the leg she freed washed over yet again. When she lands, she hits the ground hard with a 'whoompf' sound as the air leaves her lungs.

All but helpless on the ground again, she turns her head, looking even more terrified at the conviction in her words.

To someone who was insecure about keeping up the ancient legacy of the Moon Kingdom, the thought causes Sailor Moon to shrink a little. And yet the Magic Knight of Wind is saying a lot of admirable things. After a moment's thought, digging deep inside herself, her thoughts, her memories Sailor Moon finds she has her own things she wants to say- "No I don't think this is a game at all." She says, starting softly, "You're hurting so many girls just to get at me! Girls who only wanted to have fun experiencing what they think it's to be a Princess! Who cares if it was only for a day!? Don't those feelings and experiences matter? Wouldn't they remember it as something special forever?" And then harshly, "And you /ruined/ that for them!"

As the wind's of healing wash over her, the warm breeze causes the wax to flake off, and on trembling legs, she makes it back to her feet, "If we lack conviction, it's because people like you tell us how we should or shouldn't act, until we don't know how to figure out what we believe in anymore! Maybe a Princess really just is-" She spins the moon stick in her hand before gripping it firmly, light gleaming off the Ginzuishou, "-whatever any girl wants it to mean."

It starts slowly, as she props herself on one leg, spinning on one foot, shimmering stardust falling off of the Moon Stick like the sky itself, musical in a way, even the glitter feels like it's singing. "Moon Healing-" She stops spinning, planting both feed and spreading them apart. She draws a perfect circle of moonlit radiance with the tip of the Moon Stick. "-Escalation!" The circle bursts motes of moonlight and stardust intermingling into a waves of power that permeate the area, shining towards Shakokai.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Sailor Moon has used Moon Healing Escalation on Kunzite.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Homura watches as the shells are cracked by her bullets and Fuu's arrow. She seems almost passive; she learned to keep her emotions off her face. The glances at Madoka's statue are brief and seemingly tactical, to be certain that she isn't in harm's way. That Sailor Moon, Sailor Mars, and La Sirene du Nord care too -- well, it's something, but it isn't enough to put Homura's mind at ease. If Madoka isn't safe...

She watches Shakokai back towards the wall. She hears her declaration: the entire reason that this battle has occured. Homura's eyes drift, briefly, to Sailor Moon. Then she looks back at the youma, and shakes her head. She sees the burst of green-grey goop, shooting at her again, and she does a tight leap over it. Some of it sloshes over her legs; some gets in that long, black hair.

It sticks. When she hits the ground, it sticks there, and makes her movements leaden. Is this what Madoka felt, when the creature did that? The thought incenses her further.

"You're mistaken, Shakokai," she says, quietly. "Your master wants revenge for who he lost. You're just a weapon to that end. What he doesn't realize..."

She lifts her chin. The look in her violet eyes is piercing and frigid -- and enhanced by the way that Fuu's winds whip around her. The bits of wax sticking to her are blasted off, her hair sweeping to the side when the winds touch her.

"...is that vengeance will not give back what he lost. That makes you nothing more than a broken weapon wielded by a broken hand." Her hand reaches to her shield as she speaks. Most everything that Homura Akemi does has a tactical consideration -- and in this case, it's a distraction. She turns her shield again.

Time stops.

Rei's fire blast has fired then. The roaring wall of fire that she summoned is left hovering there, Rei herself halfway into a collapse. Homura glances at them both as she calmly steps in front of it. The greyscale world around her is bobbed and weaved through, as she takes note of Madoka's position, and then judges it entirely safe. She pulls a brick of C4 out, and places it near Shakokai's feet.

The timer on it counts down -- [[00:03]], [[00:02]] -- and then freezes when Homura lets it go. She turns and walks away, while the sands trickle slowly. She slides her shield back into place, as she leaps away.

Time resumes.

The explosive at Shakokai's feet is, to the perception of all others, simply and suddenly there. [[00:01]] flashes across the tiny digital display -- and then a second ticks by. [[00:00]] The bomb detonates as Rei's fire wave shoots forward, a powerful blast that shoots towards Shakokai -- and the wall, but not quite near the other girls nearby, statue or otherwise.

Homura turns after it explodes, but she doesn't look at the youma. Her eyes are on Usagi, as she sends ot the wave of silvery light.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Homura Akemi has used Time Bomb on Kunzite.

COMBAT: Homura Akemi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kunzite narrowly braces La Sirene du Nord's Pieces of the Perfect Black, taking 9 Fatigue damage! Blind applied to Kunzite!
COMBAT: Kunzite narrowly braces Sailor Mars's Finisher, By Fire Be Cleansed!, taking 41 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Kunzite fails to brace Homura Akemi's Finisher, Time Bomb, taking 103 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Kunzite fails to brace Sailor Moon's Finisher, Moon Healing Escalation, taking 141 Fatigue damage! Kunzite is unable to keep fighting!

<Pose Tracker> Kunzite [None] has posed.

Conviction. The youma, Shakokai, possibly a ranked noble among the demonic courts of the Dark Kingdom, speaks of conviction. Finding those standing before her wanting, there was a last endeavour to complete the garden of statues - let those without certainty be stilled and silenced forevermore.

She asked for conviction. And received an answer.

Even as the wax settles as a possibly permanent prison, Fuu rises to the challenge. Duty and leadership, as a princess and magical girl - and even as the wax crawls its way up her, she upholds duty to her friends. Driven by duty, the winds drive back Shakokai's final assault, giving strength to those fighting against it.

Nori rises to the challenge. Drenched in despair, imprisoned in wax, becoming a statue - even without words, she has faith. And so La Sirene, in spite of Shakokai's full strength, raises her lantern one last time, to shine oblivion in the enemy's face...and that nothingness gives the youma pause.

A pause. Homura corrects the Youma's assumption - speaks with her own conviction of empty vengeance. A diversion, as she makes certain of her path, and lets time grind to a halt. When it resumes - a ticking bomb stands before the youma.

Sailor Mars prays with conviction. Holy words, uttered in desperation, in fury, in a plea to a greater power - immolating her imprisonment, turning sacred fire forth to consume the youma. That holy flame meets the exploding bomb, and the two redouble their force to blast Shakokai, shells shattered, into a mahogany wall. The sheer force unleashed causes, for a moment, a double image - the navy-skinned youma superimposed over the friendly if stern Countess.

And at last, Sailor Moon speaks of her determination. Of joyous days marred by darkness, of vengeance gone too far, of the freedom to choose one's own path. The Moon Stick shines, brilliant silver light wafting forth in a brilliant wave. Light, bearing a weight of its own, crashes into the stunned youma. It shines, brilliantly - and then pushes twice as hard against one of the images. From Shakokai, the Countess Rose falls - a now-uninjured human, unconscious at the youma's feet. The demon, by contrast -

Arrow and flame and oblivion and destruction and light. Any one damaging; all together, unsurvivable. With a wordless agonized scream, Shakokai vanishes utterly under the weight of purification - and as the light fades, the clinging petrification crumbles to dust.

All the petrification crumbles to dust - there's a dozen aborted screams as terrified would-be princesses are restored to life, desperate gasps up and down the hallway, life where statues once stood.

Outside the mansion, Kunzite looks back at the window where radiant light shone...and simply turns away in disgust before vanishing.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

After it's over. After Shakokai falls. After Countess Rose becomes human again. After each of the girls is found alive, and well, and whole and they've checked on them all, especially Madoka Kaname. Sailor Moon does a little victory hop cheer in the air. Without missing a beat, she turns to Sailor Mars on landing and clasps both her hands, for some adorable excited clasped hand shaking if she allows it. This continues with every girl that fought if they allow it, which may not happen because La Sirene could be too goth, the Magic Knight of wind could be too polite, and Homura Akemi too serious and mysterious. Anyone who leaves her hanging would get offered a high five instead, which may also result in Sailor Moon getting left hanging again. It doesn't seem to dampen her cheer one iota. Ultimately, even as the Moon Princess, Usagi is still, Usagi.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

There's no need for the sword after all, and it vanishes from the hands of the Wind Knight ...

Just before those same hands are clasped excitedly by Sailor Moon. The green-clad Magic Knight smiles more brightly, returning the celebratory and congratulatory handshake while she has the chance.

Polite? Certainly, and quite possibly to a fault ... but behind the armor and the unfailing manners, the Wind Knight is a teenaged girl too, and her relief at having survived and won can't be denied.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

As the flames flee her, Sailor Mars barely clings to consciousness. When Sailor Moon clasps her hands, she grins in appreciation, not a trace of annouance to be found. She nods gently, weakly. "We did it..U-...Sailor Moon..I...uh...heh. I think...I think I'm...I think I'm going to bed...now...please...please tell me if they...if the statues...if they're okay, when I...wake up..." She closes her eyes, but she's clearly alright. As much as the battle took out of her she's far from beaten.

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

La Sirene du Nord breaks from her waxen prison, liberated from the tyranny of heat - and Sailor Moon clasps her free hand before she knows it.

Her eyes, pale as water, turn towards the twin-tailed heroine of moon and earth alike. One of her hands is of course holding the glossy gorgeous brass and stone of the Pharos, but the other one can be shaken hard and fast. It's cool, but not clammy. She looks at Sailor Moon, embarrassed in obscure ways.

"Thank you," she says. "You are a greater princess than I could ever be." And with that she turns in a swirl to depart post-haste!