2015-10-09 - North Pole, Part Three

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Title: North Pole, Part Three

In the Dark Kingdom, Sailor Moon stands alone against Beryl. Her reincarnated love lying dead at her feet, her dearest friends slain by the cruelest of Youma, she stands utterly alone - but nonetheless, she stands.

But across the Multidimensional Chaos, scattered across multitudes of worlds, all those who might call Sailor Moon ally and friend bear witness. Separated by the gulf between worlds, all they can do is offer their hopes...


Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, Sailor Jupiter, Sailor Venus,
Homura Akemi, Mai Tokiha, Fuu Hououji, Nori Ankou, Nagihiko Fujisaki, Maron Kusakabe, Seika Miuchi
GM: Honoka Yukishiro as Queen Beryl.


The Dark Kingdom

OOC - IC Date:

29 August 2014 - 10/09/2015

<Pose Tracker> Queen Beryl [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R71kGzAkVgA




Queen Beryl, First of Her Name, smiles.

At least in a technical sense.

As the little girl kneels alongside her lost love, Beryl's lips part, revealing fangy incisors. Her cheekbones lift, and her eyes glitter with something so much less and so much more than any gold, even that of the eponymous Kingdom.

Merely imagining her cruel delight is no longer necessary.

But 'delight,' like 'smile,' suits her experience just as well as the school graduation song sung just a little off-key. It sits only with dissonance.

Perhaps it's in the way that her burning gaze lingers on the pool of blood spreading out from under Endymion's corpse, lapping at the soles of Sailor Moon's dainty little boots.

Perhaps it's in the way that she feels an odd pressure in the air, like the barest echo of remembered tinnitus, as something very nearby and very elemental and very dark reacts to the proximity of something else very nearby and very elemental and very silver.

It won't be long now.

And she's come much too far to turn back, a sentiment that surprises her as few things do by passing through her lips without her conscious permission. As the ruler of the Dark Kingdom she embodies control -- of everyone else and especially herself. She might rage, but always with an icy precision. She might torment, but always wih a purpose, even if that purpose is her own amusement.

For what goal could be higher?

The little girl isn't crouched by her boyfriend anymore. She's standing upright, pointing two discarded weapons, one lost to death and the other to time, right at her. At the Queen, in her very throne room.


"And so have you," Beryl continues, her voice colder than steel, colder than the ice that looms above them both. Puffs of crystal travel between the two of them, her breath birthing cold-born fruit.

She isn't smiling now. She never was, not really.

"You're so quick to invoke the names of your so-called friends, Serenity, when they lie dead because of your actions. All of this could have been avoided, had you rendered unto me the Ginzuishou. You could have lived your lives out together as normal girls, with normal hopes... and dreams... and loves."

Her red eyes lock on Sailor Moon's blue, linger on her tears.

"All this, over a hunk of rock you didn't ask for, didn't even want. Well -- let it not be said that Queen Beryl is not magnanimous. I will give you one -- last -- chance. Give me the Silver Crystal, and I will wield it as you cannot, as you lack the strength and skill to do. I will return your friends to you... and allow you all to forget, to live in peace."

She spreads her bare arms wide, red hair billowing behind her like a war banner, filaments glittering as they catch wind of the power drawing near.

The temperature drops another ten degrees.

"Deny me, and I will guarantee that your soul will find no rest, not even in death. You will never see any of them again... in this world or any other."


Speaking of other worlds: the magical girls banished from Earth have traveled through many, as strange and varied as can be thought of, and quite a bit moreso, besides. Their journeys have had few commonalities, other than intersections with each other, but there is one:

At the end of the path, the bottom of the dungeon, the top of the mountain, the heart of the forest -- there is a flower. Nobody was looking for it, but everyone found it all the same, drawn to it by the subtle actions of fate.

It is beautiful, truly and purely so, the sort of breathtaking loveliness that cannot inspire jealousy, only inspiration. A thousand painters and a thousand poets could labor for a thousand days and not begin to capture its curves and cambers.

And the colors! Rainbows are naturally distant by definition, ephemeral and strange and impossible to truly study up close. Where they are refracted in windows or jewelry, they are shattered shards of their true selves. But here, here is the birth of all colors, swirling together, as alive as the flower itself.

Each of its splayed petals, if looked at carefully, has a different image flickering within it, heightened rather than obscured by the infinite chroma. When one looks at it in just the right way, not unlike a Magic Eye graphic, it composes into one.

It is an extremely strange thing, for an artifact of such blatant goodness to be showing a place of such evil.

And when the passing wind rattles its stem, its leaves chime with the sounds of the Dark Kingdom.

It could be that it's the wish that tore the girls apart that also binds them together through this medium. An unintended side-effect, a strange spacetime aberration. Or perhaps something more powerful than wishes is at play.

This is no portal, no bridge to Earth... but it is a window, or perhaps more like a magic mirror. The girls cannot use it as a pathway... but some things are stronger and more ephemeral -- yet more palpable -- than mere physical presence.

Even simply bearing witness is a power all its own.

COMBAT: Queen Beryl has fully healed herself. She is now ready to take on 2 opponents!

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

She has been through worlds where hope still shines and worlds which are cloaked in limitless despair; worlds where magic is embraced, and worlds where the very possibility of magic is denied. The journey had left the Magic Knight of Wind wondering if the flower of whom the dark-haired Puella Magi spoke was only a rumor, but finally, she lays eyes upon it, and sinks to her knees next to the crystalline blossom, a miracle given impossible form.

For a long moment, she simply lets herself gaze upon the rainbow facets as body and spirit relax ... and then the image beyond the myriad colors comes into focus for her, as though her eyes no longer need the corrective lenses before them to see it. Sailor Moon, weakened but still determined; Queen Beryl, tyrant and would-be conqueror, looming over her ancient foe reborn.

"Sailor Moon ... don't give up. All our hopes rest in your hands." The Wind Knight takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly, wishing she could be there by Sailor Moon's side, *knowing* this is exactly why Beryl arranged to scatter them across universes. The 'invitation' to face her at the North Pole was, in hindsight, almost certainly a trap *specifically* to exile as many magical girls as possible ...

Fuu may not know Usagi as well as the Magic Knight of Wind knows Sailor Moon, but the odango'd princess almost certainly remembers the green-clad archer: binding enemies with her winds, healing her allies at the conclusion of a hard battle, supporting her friends even when an enemy is too strong for her to hurt more effectively, however she can assist them. And unlike a few magical girls, the Wind Knight genuinely doesn't care who her allies are - only that they stand together in the face of evil.

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

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Protection, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Accelerate and Withstand applied to Sailor Moon!

<Pose Tracker> Ami Mizuno [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

A strange thing it is to die -- the moments leading up to it are a blur. Ami Mizuno -- Sailor Mercury -- is gone.

Yet why is it, then, that her presence still hangs around Sailor Moon? Why is it that the smell of a cool, fresh river wafts around her imperceptibly as she finds her resolve once again, then, if the magic of the planet Mercury has given itself a second time for the sake of the Moon?

Indeed -- that may be just the reason.

Ami Mizuno's presence has always been quiet, even at its most impassioned; hers is a friendship content to share a dinner -- a living room -- a moment. Her spirit stands with Sailor Moon, rather than moving on to whatever might await a Sailor Soldier beyond this world, but her support is silent, in its way. Besides -- what could she tell a resolute Sailor Moon that she does not already know?

Though one might swear they caught a glimpse of her blue hair in the darkness, or feel a refreshing coolness instead of the bitter cold that comes with Queen Beryl... all that can be said for certain is that there exists a blue-tinged feeling of calm hope, a reminder of focus and wisdom, amid Usagi's white-hot passion, anger, and love.

COMBAT: Ami Mizuno has used My First Friend on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Ami Mizuno has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Ami Mizuno's My First Friend, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Cheered!

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

To say this had been a terrible day for Sailor Moon would be grossly understating it.

Today she had laid to rest her four best friends, and the love of her yester-life, but even if she'd done so in her head, she hadn't yet in her heart. And never would.

Somehow, despite the relentless torrent of despair and ancient hatred, she had found her feet when she was on the cusp of allowing herself to be completely washed away by it. She'd put one foot forward in front of the other, and began to push back.

It had all been with all the force of a petulant child at first, but as she suffered one atrocity after another, her optimism became a force unto itself. A belief in the shining future for this world.

The Dark Queen had called her an empty headed dreamer and maybe there was something tonight, but tonight, if indeed a dreamer she was; she fully intended to end the nightmare, one way or another. At least if she couldn't defeat the one causing it, she'd be able to tell her friends that she'd done all she could when she joined them.

And yet, here she was now, facing down Queen Beryl herself, with fallen Endymion's sword in one hand pointed at her with the Moon Stick in the other... and she looks dead on her feet. Her Fuku marred by slashes of the same sword, charred by twisted planetary power that still rose off her in wisps visibly seen in the violet light of the throne room. the arm which held the sword of unfamiliar weight trembled, as did her legs which she stood, looking dead upon them, with weary eyes and a heavy heart.

She'd made it here only by the sacrifice of her best friends, had taken back Endymion from the Queen's clutches only to lose him again... but staring down this Sorceress and Sage of sublime yet terrible power that had unraveled miracles to banish all the Mahou Shoujo of this world it appeared, that this was all she'd be capable of...


Yet even as alone as she was, she'd try. For doing otherwise, would be making all of those sacrifices worth nothing. The Queen stands up, looking more like a displeased goddess of the night in Usagi's eyes. The temperature drops, in a way Sailor Moon didn't think was possible. For as frigid as this place is, it's nothing compared to that of Beryl's anger.

And the temptation in her offer... her arm sags, the sword suddenly feeling much heavier. She considers it, but only for one reason... the thought of not joining her friends even in death is far too terrible for her to imagine. Her head sags, like she can't look at those burning red eyes any longer.

Could she do it? She was powerful enough that Sailor Moon had no doubt of it but... would she do it? Silence reigns for a time, silence and cold and the deadly intent of such a threat hanging in the air... As she thinks of Ami Mizuno, Makoto Kino, Minako Aino, and Rei Hino returned to her... allowing them to all to live again as normal girls. And in the silence, she finds herself.

She finds her courage to reject such things, not within herself. But from without from something even softer than a whisper between dimensions, but to her ears as loud as a thunderclap but with none of the harshness, as soft as a warm breeze in the arctic. Those feelings reach her ears, '... don't give up. All our hopes rest in your hands.' And she remembers again, has it reinforced, that there was more at stake than her and her friends. How many would suffer if she was selfish here?

The next thing she feels is far quieter. A coolness of character that stills her thoughts and her heart. It reminds her of so many memories. Blue hair passing her by after she'd looked at posted grades. A girl catching a cat and calling her an angel. A girl who refused to give into a Youma at cram school. The first to join her as a sailor Senshi. How much being one meant to her, even if she was subdued in how she expressed it. "Ami-chan..." She says nearly inaudibly, sparkles of water appearing in her eyes even as she looks up, and around the room, swearing that she'd see her if only she was quickly enough. But even seeing nothing... she remembers the girl who brought books to the beach, who cast them aside to make more memories with her friend. Would she be the same girl if she forgot all of that? Would she ever forgive Usagi for forcing that upon her?

"I t-think..." It's so soft and broken by the equal mixture of joyous and sorrow that Ami's mere /presence/ causes that it doesn't seem she even spoke at all, but her lips move, "...that if I did that, they would never forgive me for making the selfish choice here. For forgetting how much is at stake other than ourselves. They found themselves as Sailor Senshi. It was always more important to them than to me..."

Anger, heated by righteous wrath entering her mien, her timbre growing in volume as it reaches a crescendo that echoes throughout the throne room. "Until now... maybe it's true its partly my fault that they went the way they did, but it's /entirely/ yours! We awakened for a purpose, and I think that purpose was to stop you! The peace you're offering would only last until you remade the world in your image... and even if it lasted longer..." A fist clenches around the Moon Stick, "Everything you've done can't go unpunished! Especially when you don't think you've done a thing wrong!"

She'd picked up a sword, pointed it at her only because it had been in her hand in the time when she was contemplating completing the cycle of hatred again. Now she lets it fall with a clatter, not because she'd given it up... but... because she didn't fight with a sword, she fought with a wand, but more importantly, her heart. Her big heart that she wore on her sleeve. Even as she stands up straighter, taller than her diminutive stature would suggest it's like all the weariness of the day has gone out of her from feelings that can transcend all barriers, even death itself.

"So I'll say it to you again. Queen Beryl... you're unforgivable! As a Pretty Guardian of Love and Justice I won't just let it go! For my precious friends... for everyone you've unjustly sent away, for every life you've taken and every world you've destroyed. In the name of the Moon..." One arm over the other, she points at her, with a promise in her heart and on her lips, "...I will punish you!"

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used In The Name Of The Moon on Queen Beryl.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Queen Beryl fails to dodge Sailor Moon's In The Name Of The Moon, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Psyched! Cripple applied to Queen Beryl!

<Pose Tracker> Queen Beryl [None] has posed.

Queen Beryl gives no sign of being aware of the memory of water, the wind that whispers across the heart of her opponent. She closed herself to the touch of such things long ago. Had she done, been otherwise, this would be a very different story.

She isn't disappointed when her offer goes rejected, but she isn't eager, either. It seems to have made no difference whatsoever, which fairly strongly implies that what she would have done, in the end, was wholly independent of Usagi's terms of surrender.

Lies, and the lying liars who tell them...

In truth, it's never been her strength. She whispered false hopes to Four Heavenly Kings, but nothing short of dark magic could bring Endymion to heel. No doubt that's true of Sailor Moon as well.

Wait.. say that again.

"'Punish'... a child's word for what happens to wrongdoers, as though I might sit in a corner or be denied dessert. You don't want to punish me, Serenity. You want to tear me down -- do to me what I did to you. In the end, we're two sides of the same coin and always have been. You claim not to desire power... but you've always defended it, if not -- quite -- to the death." A sneer for a memory of a Princess and a sword.

Her voice is smoky, toxic, resonant with power far beyond mere verbiage. It infects, confuses, lulls. It is more dangerous than any lightning bolt or crystal shard.

"For my love, I did the same. And look at us now!"

A vision swirls through the air, ice and darkness and malice manifesting illusion. Queen Usagi, wonderful and terrible, the light of her Crystal lancing forth with no mercy and no regrets.

Yesterday, Beryl inhabited the reflections of everyone on the planet. This is like that, but even more twisted -- for this white-clad visage of power and authority looks exactly like Sailor Moon, with her own eyes and her own voice. It is the expression on the Queen's face that is identical to Beryl's own -- hatred, rage and isolation war for space in the corners of her mouth, the shadows of her gaze.

"If you want to defeat me, you'll have to destroy me -- and become me. /This/ is your inescapable destiny."

COMBAT: Queen Beryl has used Secret Names And Lessons on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Queen Beryl has used Metallia's Favor on Queen Beryl.
COMBAT: Queen Beryl has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Queen Beryl accepts Queen Beryl's Metallia's Favor, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Queen Beryl is Reinforced by Queen Beryl!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon narrowly dodges Queen Beryl's Secret Names And Lessons, taking 15 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Sailor Moon is Quipped! Sailor Moon's Fade ability activates! Sailor Moon's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter transforms into Makoto Kino!

<Pose Tracker> Maron Kusakabe [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Kaitou Jeanne, as is secretly the case very often, has had no idea what she's doing the entire time she's been 'lost'. As always, she's just taken things as they came, improvised, and dealt with things as they happened. Just focusing on moving forward without thinking about things too deeply has got her this far. And in the end, her road too has led to the mysterious, beautiful flower, showing her scenes from far away.

Alarming scenes, of a lone Sailor Moon, forced to face a powerful threat without the aid of any of her friends. She gasps, witnessing the magical girl taking a heroic stand, yet visibly affected by the Queen of Darkness malign words.

She reacts to this pretty much the same way as she tends to react to TV shows she's really into. By shouting at the image. "Come on Sailor Moon, what are you doing?! Don't listen to her, stop thinking so much! Just do what you always do!"

With an actual TV show, that would be the end of it. But this is different. Although she has no idea how she's even seeing this, and no way to verify if what she's seeing is actually real, it /feels/ real. As such, she can't help but feel invested on a deeper level. And to consider how she would feel if she were in Sailor Moon's shoes right now.

"...it sucks, doesn't it? Being all alone, feeling powerless to change anything. I know what you're thinking. 'Why is this happening, what did I do to deserve this, how is any of this fair?' I get that. I think that pretty much all the time."

Introspection that she would be very unlikely to openly share with anybody. But then, she isn't speaking to anybody right now, is she? She's talking to a flower. There's no way Sailor Moon could actually hear anything she's saying.

And yet, she continues to speak as if addressing Sailor Moon directly. Using the words that she believes would be the most helpful at a time like this. The words that, if it were her, would be the ones that she'd most like to hear. Direct support for her own beliefs.

"You're completely right. It's not fair. Nobody should be forced to go through the kinds of things that you've had to. But, even so... you can't give up. Not ever. Keep standing tall and proud, continue to face all that comes your way with your head held high, and there isn't anything that you can't overcome. As long as you hold onto hope, in the end, all your wishes will come true."

The distinction between the words of Kaitou Jeanne and Maron Kusakabe has become lost in all this. But whether this is a questionable phantom thief magical girl ally or an admired champion high school gymnast friend speaking, that is a question that does not, should not matter. What matters are the words themselves, and the genuine emotions behind them.

Making as if to clasp her hands around the beautiful flower, Jeanne stops barely short of touching the petals, fearing she might damage it. Following her own advice, she focuses her will, her firm belief that she can do anything, anything at all, as long as she believes that she can. /Willing/ for Sailor Moon to hold onto her hope, even in this hopeless situation.

"Let me teach you a spell. If you find yourself in doubt, when you feel scared and powerless, and you just don't know how you could possibly keep going anymore... all you have to do is speak these words. Believe in their power, and they will lend that power to you. By speaking the phrase, you will become all that it embodies. Believe, and never forget:"

MAIL: Mailbox purged.

COMBAT: Maron Kusakabe has used Strong and serious, matchless and marvelous, energetic and courageous! on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Maron Kusakabe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Maron Kusakabe's Strong and serious, matchless and marvelous, energetic and courageous!, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Reinforced by Maron Kusakabe!

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Usagi's next breath brings with it the scent of flower petals and leaves, all the stronger for the fact that such a bouquet has no right to exist even for a moment in such a cold, dead place.

It smells like a place Sailor Moon has visited many times, though it's gone as quickly as it came. In its place, however, is a sense of someone there, just behind Usagi, behind and beside. There's a warmth to it that defies everything about the cold.

"All you have to do is be the Usagi we all love." The words are spoken gently, but behind them is force, an unbreakable faith that even death couldn't sever. Makoto Kino was never subtle in life, and some things don't change. "I'll always be with you."

Her spirit can still be felt near, silent once again but radiating a simple certainty that some things need never decay.

COMBAT: Makoto Kino has used Don't Give Up! on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Makoto Kino has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Makoto Kino's Don't Give Up!, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Reinforced by Makoto Kino!

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

"You're wrong!" It moves out of her lips easily. Too easily, but after a moment, it looks like the words of the Queen are taking root, taking hold. Her eyes lid slightly, as she shakes her head like a sleepy child trying to resist the intent of a lullaby.

But her eyes grow as wide as Mami's tea saucers again as she sees it. The white clad visage of herself, with the same cruelty and malice as the Dark Queen.

Her future?

Is this what she would become if she won? What a pyrrhic victory that would be! She tries to deny it, with another shake of her head, with an aversion of her eyes, but when she glimpses back upright... it's still there. And all of her insecurities come with it. She was unworthy of Queen Serenity's legacy. Would the path of being the Moon Princess demand more and more of her until she became Queen Beryl's reflection when she couldn't handle it?

Would becoming more powerful take and take and take until she was some unrecognizable Dark Queen!? That's unfair! It would be better to remain powerless and helpless then, wouldn't it? An ordinary girl.

But as she thinks that, a scent hits her nostrils that are like flower petals that just wafted into the throne room, moving past her, tickling her nose. Tickling her spirits. Yet as gentle a touch as it was, it was also so forceful. It was just like Makoto Kino. "M-Mako-chan! You're here with me aren't you?" She murmurs as she puts a hand over her heart.

She remembers a girl who was so isolated that she ate lunch alone and Usagi didn't know why! Everything about her was so wonderful, so beautifully perfectly feminine, that she couldn't help but ask to join her for lunch.

Since then the two had shared had so many memories, from the big things, like fighting together as Sailor Senshi, to the small things like talking about their dreams and...


They reinforce that she's perfect the way she is, that she couldn't be Beryl, that she could never be her, that she couldn't become her. That she could only be Usagi Tsukino, Sailor Moon, Princess Serenity. No matter who she was, she was just herself.

But those feelings aren't alone, they're joined by others. Empathetic feelings carried by a girl who feels familiar, spoken to a flower. For some reason, in her mind's eye, she sees a rhythmic gymnastics routine, carried out with a glorious fluttering ribbon streaming around the one dancing. She doesn't know why she feels that way, why they also feel like the rush of air as one chases a Kaitou across rooftops, who laughed merrily all the while from the thrill of the chase.

She doesn't deserve what she's going through. It's true. But... "Even if it sucks, I won't give up! I can't give up!" She echoes and closes her eyes for a moment, as if to dispel the image of Queen Usagi through her mind, she memorizes the words of the magic spell, because right now she feels helpless and scared and powerless and doubts herself.

"You're wrong! You offered your love a crown, and when he rejected you, what did you do to him?" She trembles with anger as she opens her eyes, looks again at Queen Usagi, looks through her. "You didn't respect his feelings! All of that power and you can only use it for selfish reasons. I could never be you! I never will be! I still believe in the shining future, and you can too... if you just stand down, remember a time when your love wasn't selfish, when you were an ordinary girl with love and dreams and hope for the future too!"

A hand to her tiara, as she murmurs the words of a magic spell while at the same time trying to show the bravery of the Soldier of Thunder and Courage, "...Strong and serious." The word serious almost halts her, but then she realizes, right now she's very serious, "...matchless and marvelous..." The tiara gleams as it appears in her hand, shining with wrathful silver light and various hues of pink. "...energetic and courageous... Moon Tiara-"

A hand moves back, before she flicks her wrist forward, "...-Action!" It moves forward with all of its wrathful light, cutting first through the image of Queen Usagi then moving ever forward... towards Queen Beryl herself, with a flash of radiance right before it would make contact.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Moon Tiara Action on Queen Beryl.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Queen Beryl narrowly counters Sailor Moon's Moon Tiara Action, taking 23 Fatigue damage! Queen Beryl's Reverse ability activates! Queen Beryl's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Queen Beryl's counterattack, Maxixe Invocation, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Sailor Moon!

<Pose Tracker> Queen Beryl [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgYnKu8RYAU

Beryl throws back her head and laughs at Sailor Moon's blurted denial, music to her ears as much as a scream might be. Yes -- this rejection, this uncertainty, this thoughtlessness... indeed, everything old is new again. Only this time -- this time, there will be no Queen Serenity to deny her her victory.

She is offered a challenge, at first clumsily worded and then more eloquently, though she'd never recognize the incantation. Some part of her recoils from this expression of sublime self-esteem; she cannot identify with it. She's long since made her peace with becoming something that a maidenly Beryl might have hated or rejected. That's just a silly fantasy, anyway.


A single word, but a word that explodes with power as she extends her hand, causing the Lunarian tiara to halt in midair, still spinning, but more and more slowly, until, at last, it clatters to the ground. Silver and pink light subsides to the shadows of this awful hall as surely as day must fade to night.

But there is the thinnest glimmer of sweat on her temple; that feat was not accomplished without concentration, without cost.

"You naive fool. I -- was -- /never/ -- ordinary!"

From hiss to bark to bellow, the Queen removes her hand from behind her back, where it has been silently gathering a dagger's worth of mystical energy since she first started weaving illusion. Now it is revealed in full glory, and casts strange shadows all its own, a perversion of Nordic aurora in blues and greens and violets.

It leaves her hand, arcing through the air with all the same simplicity that claimed the life of Caesar.

Perhaps in another time she might have allowed things to be that straightforward, but at the last moment she clenches her fingers into a fist, causing the blade of pure magic to intensify, then implode in a clap of pure destruction that makes the very air weep.

"Only the daughter of Queen Serenity would glorify being /normal/!" She's walking down the dais stairs, now, enraged to the point where she's willing to leave the backdrop of her throne. "Only someone given everything would yearn to have nothing! What did being /ordinary/ ever give you? Were you praised by your family? Were you cherished by your friends? No -- no, and do not deny this, Sailor Moon. Your entourage -- they were drawn to you by your past life connection. You became close because of your shared enemy."

Her smirk is, for the first time, genuine in its amusement.

"Perhaps it is I who gave you everything you've ever had."

COMBAT: Queen Beryl has used Emanation of Aurora on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Queen Beryl has used Metallia's Favor on Queen Beryl.
COMBAT: Queen Beryl has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Queen Beryl accepts Queen Beryl's Metallia's Favor, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Queen Beryl is Reinforced by Queen Beryl!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon narrowly braces Queen Beryl's Emanation of Aurora, taking 24 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Quipped!

<Pose Tracker> Seika Miuchi [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

All roads seemed to lead back to the darkness. The world without a sun, where only the vampires lurked, where the light of all that lived had been extinguished. The boudoir of a demon far beyond the care of most, yet one that seems to surface so often in this darkened space of crisscrossed possibilities.

And in the shadow of the Night Lord, so dark here for reasons she cannot understand - it flickers.

It is as though someone has lit a single candle in the dark. Something silver glitters in that barely-perceptible presence, ethereal and distant - and yet that tiny spark is, in its own way, bright, in the way that something small can seem pronounced because all around it is so devoid of light, of life.

The sense of a girl, an elegant ballroom mask perched acrest the bridge of her nose. A smile touching her face, as small and steady as her presence.

A world away, a dimension to the right of ours, Masque Feu bows her head, her slender hands cupped around the rainbow petals of a mysterious bloom, cherishing, but not touching. She lets her eyes slowly closed, for her heart does not need to see this. A girl she has fought alongside a few times, but whom she knows only in that sense; an evil she has encountered only in a cursory way, but which seems so profoundly important that she, personally, do something.

She just smiles. Lets her presence dance in the distance, across eternity. As though she could somehow pour her will through the dimensions to find the girl she has spoken to seldom, yet who carries the spark of the world's hope against the deep dark.

That flicker of presence shimmers. The candle burns in a colour that is not that of flame. It is a steady, shimmering silver.

"But... I know you won't give up, no matter what evil you face," she whispers as she bows her head over the shimmering flower.

"Because even in the darkest night, darkness must give way to the smallest spark of candlelight."

She opens her eyes, an entire world away. They shine with the emotion she dares not speak in her real life. Here, it colours her whisper, an ache of hope.

"Sailor Moon... please... believe in the future. Never stop shining."

COMBAT: Seika Miuchi has used As A Candle In The Endless Night on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Seika Miuchi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Seika Miuchi's As A Candle In The Endless Night, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Reinforced by Seika Miuchi!

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

La Sirene du Nord walks to the South, cast in the unchanging shades of light that glows in through a mirror showing a mountain under a cavern's roof. Directions are ambivalent here, at least. She is rumpled, favoring her right leg; at her left is a tiger, sleek but for a scar over one eye. Batiste rides the tiger's back.

"Here we are," the tiger says. La Sirene looks down, at rich jungle loam, and settles down cross-legged, looking at the mirrored flower. Batiste decamps into her lap; the tiger grooms his paw and says, "Don't be a stranger," before he turns and walks off, loping into looping underbrush.

The mirror to the back of la Sirene shifts, casting the mirror-back jungle in shadow. In that shadow, the glittering flower with its petals of silver and its centerpoint, a false space where images gather together into a single view, shines. The light casts a ghostly shadow on the Siren and her ally. It resolves...

In time to see the auroral emanation of Queen Beryl. La Sirene gasps; Batiste squeaks, "Sailor Moon!"

La Sirene asks in a hushed voice, "The others... I can't... Is she alone?"

The small of her back tightens as she hears Beryl's words. They ripple through the subtle resonance of the silvery petals. Somehow she hears. She feels something cold in her belly, a cruel certainty that presses in on itself, slowly warms as Beryl speaks, and then finally erupts -

"She's wrong!" la Sirene says, leaping to her feet.

"Sailor Moon... if we knew each other, in another life... I know nothing of it. I have followed my own track, destinies unheard and unrenowned in this world... If things had been only a little different, we might have been foes... But we were not, we are not. I --"

Her grandiloquent 'queen voice' cracks for a moment. La Sirene's eyes glisten with tears, not quite ripe to shed. "You're my friend!" she blurts. "You had no reason to give me anything but a nod - but you did - don't give up!! Know that! She's wrong, and every spell in the world doesn't change that!!"

One of the tears does come down then, backed by fear and dread and hope.

COMBAT: Nori Ankou has used Because the World Will Never Take My Heart on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Nori Ankou has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Nori Ankou's Because the World Will Never Take My Heart, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Cheered!

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Venus [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.


The voice is faint, as if it's coming from a great distance -- but it's still clear. A moment passes, and the voice is suddenly louder than before, as if it's coming up from right behind her --


Minako's tone is as bombastic as her personality; even in death, her spirit can not be subdued.

"You're so much stronger than when the two of us first met! It's almost as though my princess doesn't need her guard anymore!"

There's the sound of a long-suffering sigh, a brief pause, and then, in a more serious timbre than before:

"You're extraordinary, Usagi. It's not because of your powers, or who you were in a past life or anything else like that. It's because of who you are. It's because of what you inspire in others."

A beat.

"Beryl won't ever have what you have!"

COMBAT: Sailor Venus has used Strength of Heart! on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Sailor Venus has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Sailor Venus's Strength of Heart!, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Reinforced by Sailor Venus!

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

Her hand is still extended from the throw, as with but a word, the tiara clatters to the ground. And for the first time without becoming the Moon Princess personified, the mark of her heritage is there to replace it, what a Heavenly King had once demanded she reveal, a crescent moon upon her forehead. Her eyes grow fractionally wider at... until she sees the small bead of sweat shimmering upon her brow. For some reason it's a relief. It makes Queen Beryl seem... more human, less like some dark goddess taken flesh.

But only for a moment, as Sailor Moon clenches her hand around the Moon Stick the moment the dagger is revealed, she's ready to blast her anew on her approach, when she quite simply doesn't...

The air around her explodes, and she's blasted backwards, arms crossed over her heart, green and blue and violet char marks all over her Fuku. And Queen Beryl is rewarded by the scream she so desires. But mid-air. Sailor Moon turns end over end. Her boots touch down first, even if she skids backwards a few more paces and she takes a knee. The spot she'd been standing in previously was little more than a visual warning to future Youma of what happens if they were to defy their Queen.

That was close... she thinks. Closer than she'd like to admit. That one moment of mortality that she saw within Beryl fading again into doubt, her feelings flickering like a candle flame that just met a stiff breeze at the Queen's words. Was it true? She was a disappointment to her family after all... and her friends? Without some unspoken past connection, would they be her friends at all? It's a source of insecurity to her... a constant one.

And yet after a moment, she stands up so steadily. Like she feels a dignified presence steadying her. One which was subdued, yet as passionate as a flame in its own way. "It's so hard to shine... right now." Her breath heaves within her small chest. "But I'll do it!" She takes a few moments to compose herself, then looks up... the coolness of silvery petals mingling with the warmth of a hearth.

She feels a tightness in her heart, as tears spring to her eyes, the feelings crossing the boundaries of time, from someone who had no connection to her ancient life. Telling her that her past life had nothing to do with their friendship. "Is that you Nori-chan? You feel so close right now..." Even if she was far away...

But her breath catches in her throat, tears squeezing out in earnest as she hears the feelings of a voice she wondered if she'd ever hear again. She can almost see her there, standing atop a building, with her glasses and trademark pose. Except the way she's talking, it's almost like Sailor Moon is standing across from her, rather than looking up at her. "Minako-chan!"

Tears blur her vision and she has to wipe her eyes, "Even if you're right..." on being extraordinary, a word she'd never use to describe herself, "...you're wrong on one thing. I need you! I'll always need all of you! It doesn't matter if you're my guardians or not! Just... I need you to come back to me!"

She straightens up, because she knows Sailor V, Sailor Venus is watching, that precious friends were so close. She couldn't stand not shining in front of her idol. And she faces down what might as well be a demi-goddess of darkness. "You don't understand! Being ordinary gave me everything! Because it taught me the value of everyone! Maybe I can be a selfish, spoiled child sometimes... but I'm not the selfish, spoiled princess I once was! I don't think I'm above anyone! Risking my life to protect the ordinary people you're hurting, and protecting my friends, that's what's important! Otherwise, I wouldn't need this power at all!"

The Moon Stick glimmers as she points its crescent motif at Beryl, the object she wants fixated to it, "...and maybe it isn't about how much they cherished me. Maybe it's about how much I cherish them! I cherish them so much more now that I got to know them as someone other than Princess Serenity! I cherish so many other people I would never have gotten to meet as the Moon Princess. You didn't give them to me! They gave of their precious feelings when they owed me /nothing/!"

Spinning around once on a foot, she waves the Moon Stick, as it gathers these feelings of faith, conviction, and deep love. Suddenly she takes up a wide stance, and aims it at her once again. It gathers all the colors of the time when sunset meets early dusk, when the Moon first appears in the sky, shades of violet and orange joined with pale silver, that ripple from the Ginzuishou and cross the distance as orbs of twilit power that detonate into such brilliance.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Moon Twilight Flash on Queen Beryl.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Queen Beryl narrowly counters Sailor Moon's Moon Twilight Flash, taking 38 Fatigue damage! Queen Beryl's Reverse ability activates! Queen Beryl's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Queen Beryl's counterattack, Blood Moon Eclipse, partially gets through, doing 22 Fatigue damage to Sailor Moon! Critical Counterhit!

<Pose Tracker> Queen Beryl [None] has posed.


It is the hubris of the old to assume that a single blast can destroy the young. True disappointment flashes across Beryl's face, but it's quickly replaced by a hasty reconstruction of contempt. This girl, ranting and raving... speaking to the very air.

"Perhaps grief has driven you to madness," she reflects out loud, her words a knife. Her hands...

...they still crackle with energy, but now it becomes dark, dark red, tainted sunlight across the moon. As the Ginzuishou shimmers, it's met with twisted opposition. The two attacks meet in midair, slamming both women back--

--but the Queen, perhaps, back one step further than the girl.

Her skin is so white it's almost green, but now it mottles with rage, blotches appearing on both cheeks. Her eyes narrow almost to slits.

"You puling infant -- what is so precious about feelings? /Feelings/ didn't protect you -- and you couldn't protect the ones you claim to owe such a debt." She spits that last word. Beryl hates owing anyone anything with a passion she mostly reserves for other, older grudges. "Even now tears roll down your cheeks. They've only brought you suffering, and you've only brought them death."

Raising her arms above her head, she gathers another blast out of the air. It leeches through the walls from all directions, but especially, distinctly, from the right. At first as it enters her, it's black as pitch, but she gradually transforms it, with a groan of effort, into something that glitters like the night sky behind stormclouds.

"I think," she grits out, "That your defiance masks fear. Your bravado is as shallow as a mirror -- there's nothing beneath. Come..."

Darkness streams towards Sailor Moon, entwining her on all sides.

"...let us strip your veils, Princess, with the application of pain."

COMBAT: Queen Beryl has used The Removal of Molten Ice on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Queen Beryl has used Metallia's Favor on Queen Beryl.
COMBAT: Queen Beryl has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Queen Beryl accepts Queen Beryl's Metallia's Favor, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Queen Beryl is Reinforced by Queen Beryl!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon narrowly dodges Queen Beryl's The Removal of Molten Ice, taking 29 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Sailor Moon's Fade ability activates! Sailor Moon's Flash ability activates! Blind and Cripple applied to Sailor Moon!

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

Homura Akemi kneels down in a world of a hundred thousand clocks. Ironic, she thinks, that she should end up here. There is no sky to be seen. Instead, cogs and gears, swinging pendulums, and clockfaces that only look out on clockwork can be seen. Second hands, minute hands, and hour hands click to provide strange metronomes to the constant music of turning gears and swinging pendulums.

In such an artificial world, one little flower stands out so much.

She watches a fight that she has seen play out a thousand times. Every time, Homura Akemi tried to beat Sailor Moon there -- or otherwise stop it. She never succeeded; even now, she failed in trying to stop Usagi Tsukino from leaving at all. She can only sit and watch, which rankles every instinct that she has. She feels helpless.

It's made worse when she hears Queen Beryl saying words not so different than ones she told Usagi, once. That she would bring ruin and death to her friends; that they would follow her and die, and their deaths would be on Usagi's shoulders. Homura lacks the perspective to see the difference. She grits her teeth -- and then she reaches down.

She grabs the tiny rainbow flower with both hands and peers down into it.

"Sailor Moon." Homura hesitates a moment, remembering the girl in the arcade -- and the girl who, in another lifetime, she idealized. "It isn't easy to lose everything. But as long as you have one thing to cling to, one thing to fight for, one thing to save... then you have to hold onto it. Until the end."

She closes her violet eyes.

"Don't let her take that away from you, Usagi-san." Her voice almost breaks, before she puts her more neutral tone back in place. "Keep fighting."

COMBAT: Homura Akemi has used Nick of Time on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Homura Akemi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Homura Akemi's Nick of Time, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Sailor Moon is Reinforced by Homura Akemi!

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Some things are eternal.

Countless realms make up reality, each with its own rules and quirks. Boundless seas roamed by great sea monsters, violet forests concealing terrible beauty, worlds formed entirely of candy - each different from the last. But in spite of infinite variance between worlds, some truths remain constant.

And so, even in this latest world wanderings have carried her to - a realm formed of a single great world-tree stretching up through layer upon layer of endless clouds, whose branches bear towns of talking animals and surly gnomes - Mai Tokiha found herself working as a waitress.

How long had she been in this place?...hard to say. But she managed, layer by layer, picking up a shift at whatever restaurant or pub or tea parlour crossed her path along the way, making ends meet. Somewhere, there was a way to get home...and working, at least, helped her keep her mind from drifting to what her brother might be going through back on earth. Or where her friends might have found themselves. Or just...thinking about that battle in the arctic.

Time flows slower than sap in this grand tree's realm, mercifully - and so however long the search took her, Mai is not too late when she reaches that glorious, prismatic flower. A rumour whispered across a half dozen quiet tables, of a glimpse into other worlds...and chasing those rumours from branch to branch, she found it quietly nestled on a limb overlooking fluffy white clouds. Upon seeing it, she lets out a relieved sigh. "Finally..."

A sigh that turns into a horrified gasp as Mai sees the scene portrayed within - of the shadowed Dark Kingdom, of cruel Queen Beryl, of Sailor Moon in desperate battle against the corrupted prince Endymion. The HiME - or waitress - is left in mute shock as the battle rages on between the star-crossed pair, able to do little but stare into the depths of those miraculous petals.

When Sailor Moon triumphs, purifying the corruption, Mai punches the air in celebration.

When Beryl rains death down out of malevolent spite, she screams in rage at the vision within.

...but there is no reply. The fiery-haired girl's fury is palpable, expressed through shouted protests and vicious snarls - the latter particularly when Beryl summons the mockery of a golden-haired queen - but cast so far from Earth, she's powerless to intervene in the battle she sees. Mai hangs her head, closing her eyes as realization settles in. There's no chance for her to hurl flames at Beryl, to gift Sailor Moon with a barrier, to bring the fortress down with the wrath of her phoenixwhaledragon - she can't reach this clash, can't do anything to help.

...nothing direct, anyway.

Mai lifts her head as Sailor Moon speaks about the people she cherishes - and finds herself remembering moments their dual lives have crossed paths. An odd, awkward dinner at the Ohtori Dorm - a chance meeting at the park on one of Takumi's strangely energetic days - glimpses of heroism by moonlight - and an earnest rooftop conversation about pedestals and friendship. Whether as Sailor Moon...or as Usagi Tsukino...

Darkness surges in on Sailor Moon - and worlds away, Mai clenches her fists, and hopes. "...fight. Fight, Sailor Moon - show her your admirable true self! You..." In spite of the situation, the HiME smiles. "I promised not to put you on a pedestal - but you're strong. Stronger than you think - strong enough to forgive people, to accept faults. Your feelings...caring about people, that's what makes you strong. So..."

As if she could reach out of this world and back to Earth, Mai puts out her hand. "Show her the Sailor Moon your friends believe in! You'll do it - you promised to eat my cooking again, right?" In spite of dire darkness and despair, Mai grins - if all she can do is believe, then believe she will.

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha transforms into Mai-HiME!

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has used Affectionate Inferno on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Mai Tokiha's Affectionate Inferno, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Cheered! Cleanse! All of Sailor Moon's debuffs are cleared!

<Pose Tracker> Nagihiko Fujisaki [Ohtori Academy (6)] has posed.

"We didn't need to dance with /every/ sprite," Nagihiko found himself grumbling, slowly meandering through the forests of a faraway world; a rather far cry from the dull gray monotony he'd found himself in at first, and a place that had been uniquely bad for Rhythm's...temperament, with the enthusiastic natives and their fascination with Rhythm's ability to breakdance on command. Well. With Nagi's. But Rhythm was piloting. Nagi's own new fairy friend laughed swinging around him to bump him in the arm playfully. "They were havin' fun!" Rhythm chimed back. "We may as well, right, man? Not like..."

The little fairy of Nagihiko's heart looked off to the side, then; and they found a light. A glimmering, unfolding flower of light, a potential to be just about anything. Nagi had seen wonders like this, back...before, but never quite /like this/, and for a moment, he was at a loss. But he was a methodical young man, and it didn't take him too long to get his eyes to pick out the image.

He finds his hands clenching tighter as the tableau plays out before him. This is only narrowly not one-sided, his actor's eye tells him. But the desperation is deep in both, as Sailor Moon rallies her strength and the Dark Queen hurls it back with spite. So this is why he was sent away - him and everyone else.

"I don't think that old lady has a very good beat goin' in," Rhythm says, which is about the worst thing Nagi's heard him say about someone. "She's even throwing off that other girl, see?"

"She's alone," Nagi says. "I can't help," he mutters. "Even with Beat Jumper, it's not like I can jump /there/. I don't see anything to...!"

"Yo. Dude," Rhythm chides him; gentle, grinning, swinging down between him and the flower to capture Nagi's attention. "This isn't a problem for your head, man." The sprite floats closer, poking him over the heart, and looking up at him with eyes that seem to take up his whole head. "You've been on the stage, man. Even back there in that village, we got pumped up just 'cuz we knew people could see!"

Nagi's hands unball, and he takes a second; breathing. "Just knowing they can see," he mumbles. Then he's slowly unlocking his knees, angling down to a comfortable seiza sit before the crystal flower. Rhythm chills out on his head, kicked back. "Alright," he says, trying to feel the closest thing he ever has to this moment. "It's the finale. Everything's in ruins. The oni rises, but the hero..."

Closes his eyes. Tries to visualize the world. "All your hopes and dreams, everyone you've traveled with, has lead to this moment. Everyone gained and everyone lost. The ones who helped you get here are behind you. The future you all worked for is in front. Who you were is a distant memory, and who you are now barely matters. There's only one person who can win this fight."

He reaches out; picks up that precious flower with agile fingers, and murmurs, "Show her the person you want to be."

COMBAT: Nagihiko Fujisaki transforms into Beat Jumper!

COMBAT: Nagihiko Fujisaki has used Feel the Beat on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: Nagihiko Fujisaki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Nagihiko Fujisaki's Feel the Beat, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Accelerate and Empower applied to Sailor Moon!

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajKSS4C6Vnw

An impression of warmth dances along Usagi's back, like the bright sun peeking through the canopy of clouds on an overcast day. A sound like tinkling glasses slowly shifts and modulates into discernable speech. The spirit of Sailor Mars, whose smouldering corpse is still within view, still losing the last of its residual heat, seems to have held on somehow, buoyed by the bonds of friendship and family, love and loyalty.


A voice in her ear. Not as though Rei's behind her, but standing alongside her, facing the same foe that Sailor Moon regards.

"No time for tears. You're closer to finishing this than you think, you know."

Her grin can be felt, the way that a person can feel somebody very close to them, even when they don't know that somebody's there. Like the cells on your neck start to subtly hum.

"I'm so proud of you. You're standing strong and giving it your all. It's alright to have doubts but I hope you remember this moment when you think you can't do something.

A sudden shift, as Rei's words come in from the opposite side.

"She's scared of you, you know. She'll never admit it, not even to herself. Because she doesn't understand you..but she knows that you'll always be yourself. You can't help it, and she can't crush or corrupt that no matter how she tries. You're your mother's daughter. If you can't believe that yourself then believe me when I say it."

Now it's as though Rei's floating above her, her words pouring out in a dome of presence and sound.

"We love you and cherish you. We always have and we always will. Now finish this, so you can glimpse in yourself what we see in you every day. Protect us, and all of the rest of us, just like you always have. You're almost there. Stay strong, and know that you are loved."

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has used Murmurs from Mars on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has finished attacking.

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

A blast of power sends her back stumbling a step or two more with a gasp as twisted heat sears her throat. It sends her reeling, mentally as well, but not so much as Beryl denying the value of everything she feels, everything her friends feel while at the same time accusing her of weakness for valuing them. A weakness which cost some their life, others their lives on this world.

When Sailor Moon sees her gathering that blast, she imagines it as the darkness between the stars, blotting out that twinkling brilliance. A foot leaves the ground, just before tenebrous streams try to catch her from all sides.

To her credit perhaps, that she wasn't the same girl that once sobbed in the middle of a jewelry store, so paralyzed by inaction. But all the same, this is Queen Beryl she's fighting, not a Youma. The difference between them is so great as the ground from the sky. The Darkness takes hold. It catches her, drags her out of the air. Then squeezes, and Sailor Moon spasms, screaming long and hard from the application of pain.

And then it's like time stops, the world in hues of monochrome, except the shades of grey and black are replaced by purple. It's not really what's happening. It's just how her mind perceives the feelings, and focuses on them between every painful feeling.

Something to cling to... one single thing, even though she's lost everything. And in that one single moment between the space of time, she stops screaming. She pulls against the bonds of darkness. "H-How can you hold on that long?" But she knew. She knew too well. She'd hold onto her friends forever, she'd never let go. Death itself was so small a boundary compared to that feeling. She grits her teeth, tears streaming down her eyes, trying to suppress the agony, not by force of will, but simply by the strength of her desire to save her friends. For that love alone, she'd persist against the pain forever if she needed to.

She was crying. She was crying in front of a Dark Queen. Wasn't that so shameful, pitiful? But the moment that feeling comes to her, another follows to deny it. The smell of crimson flowers on sunset hills. She heard that gentle tone, which had a fierceness all of its own. 'Sailor Moon. Usagi Tsukino. Princess Usagi. They're /all/ brave. They're /all/ beautiful. And they all cry a lot because they /all/ have great big hearts that love everyone and get hurt easy because of it.' It's like having wildflowers adorning her hair, validating every tear. In her heart of hearts, she's glad that person isn't here to see her like this. She's so glad she's safe and so far away from here, and she'd remain safe... so long as Sailor Moon kept going.

And yet, that feeling only allows her to persist in her struggle, it doesn't allow her to extricate herself from the situation. She crawls, while pulling against the umbral energy holding her, a showing of what must look like pathetic defiance even now. "I'm n-not... that..." One last tug of monumental strength and it's like the darkness was seared away, by feelings as hot and as affectionate as embers. "...strong! Not on my own..." She sobs out, the evidence that she was, as she lurches forward, away from snapped strings of darkness. "...not as strong as you think! B-But I'll be as strong as you need me to be... you have someone you need to get back to.

It's like the soft beat of Taiko drums at first in her ears, before it shifts into something more rhythmic, more Western... with a scent of Sakura petals still drifting by. Everything has led to this moment, all her hopes and dreams but something makes her sob all the more suddenly, "Even if that's true I don't want them to be behind me! I w-want them to be in front of me! I want them... I w-want them to be..." She slams a fist against the ground, and it seems like even if she agrees, she defies the idea of a future without the people who got her here.

But before she can break down, it's like a warmth across her back, a steadying one, and Sailor Moon looks as startled as if Sailor Mars had actually began to hug her from behind. She remembers so many moments, of the two squabbling, but wasn't it always fun for both of them? She remembered playing the Sailor Moon beat 'em up game as Sailor Mars. She remembered an embrace shared when she realized how important Rei's passionate hobby was to her. But most of all right now, she remembers venomous hooks emerging from one of her best friend's back. Her final word, her final command of 'Go!'

"R-Rei-chan! How can you s-say that when I-I'm the reason..." The reason she died. She wants to apologize so much. But she decides in that moment to heed her words, even if she doesn't think she could ever see in herself what the other Senshi see in her. "...I'll say it to you face to face, when this is all over." She promises. "After I give it my all."

And then quick as lightning, she rolls forward, grasping her tiara mid-roll, "Moon Tiara-" It flashes again with brilliance, before she sends it overhead in a wide circle. This time, it doesn't go towards the Queen herself, but circles around the throne room entire, giving little heed to what they fall upon including Beryl, sending out motes of twinkling stardust, as bright as true ones, fall, attempting to sear away the streams of darkness as they go. It's like the heat of Mars' feelings given form in Sailor Moon's anger. "-Stardust!"

She continues moving as if to make her a harder target to hit, shouting at the Queen as she goes, "I'm not hiding anything! I am scared! I'm so scared I'm shaking and crying! But it's not a weakness that you think it is! These feelings... every one of them! They're giving me strength even if I'm not that strong! They're letting me go on! They're letting me stand up to you even if I'm really scared!" Something balls up in her throat, before she lets it go, the words of Mars, "And I think you're scared too! Because everything is especially scary when you're alone and don't have anyone's feelings to support you!"

COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Sailor Mars's Murmurs from Mars, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Cheered!

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Moon Tiara Stardust on Queen Beryl.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Queen Beryl narrowly braces Sailor Moon's Moon Tiara Stardust, taking 8 Fatigue damage! Queen Beryl's Block ability activates! Queen Beryl's Parry ability activates!

<Pose Tracker> Queen Beryl [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmqf1Fztvr8

Beryl watches Sailor Moon's breakdown -- though the mischaracterization of it as such is an excellent encapulation of the Queen's perspective, in itself -- with the smug superiority of a cat who has finally cornered a mouse.

"You want this, you want that..." she mutters as she holds her hand up again to try to stop the tiara a second time. Its differing function confuses her a touch, and her extended fingers bubble and burn when the sparkles land on them, like acidic snow.

She hisses again, recoiling, drawing what remnants of the darkness have survived around her like a blanket, a shawl, to keep her person clear.

This is getting much too dangerous -- much more dangerous than she had anticipated. Truly, the Princess has grown, though rising in Beryl's esteem is something of a mixed compliment at best. Her eyes alight upon the Ginzuishou, mounted dully on the Moon Stick, its glimmer such a pale shadow of what she's seen once before.

About thirty seconds after she rendered a Solar System's worth of civilization unto dust.

"That is where you are /crucially/ wrong, Serenity. You always think that you're the only one who deserves anything... but I'm not the one who's by myself."

The doors to the right of the throne room -- from whence the last gathering of darkness came -- blow open silently, and a presence darkens the room more than any mere invocation of magic. The candles on the wall, for all that their fel green flames are dubiously friendly, sputter and die, sending up swirls of noxious smoke.

Beryl swallows, once, at the death of the only dream she had left -- the idea that she might get to keep the Ginzuishou for herself. But she brought this down upon them, and now she must see it through. It is, as she said at the very beginning, much too late to turn back now.

"Prepare yourself! I will wrest the Silver Crystal from your cold, dead hands, and deliver it unto my benefactor, Metallia, Greatest Among All! My Queen! Grant me your power!"

Darkness rushes into Beryl. She sees it and it enters her eyes. She hears it and it enters her ears. She smells it, tastes it, feels it in every pore of her skin. It is like falling into a cloud, which surprises her. Last time, an age ago, it felt more like walking through fire.


As she lifts her staff above her head, then swings it down with all the force in her empowered frame, her voice drops to a whisper.

"...die alone."

The crystal ball shatters, then sweeps into the storm of darkness pouring out of her across the room. The maelstrom has an identity, though not a face... a distinct consciousness. It is malice incarnate, like the pillar of light used to banish all the magical girls of Earth.

All of it is coming for Usagi.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Queen Beryl has used The Siege and Investiture of Princess Venus' Castle At Magellan on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Queen Beryl has used Metallia's Favor on Queen Beryl.
COMBAT: Queen Beryl has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Queen Beryl accepts Queen Beryl's Metallia's Favor, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Queen Beryl is Reinforced by Queen Beryl!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon counters Queen Beryl's The Siege and Investiture of Princess Venus' Castle At Magellan with Moon Healing Escalation, initiating a BEAMWAR! Please see +help beamwar for further information.
BEAMWAR! Sailor Moon and Queen Beryl's attacks collide. Queen Beryl has the advantage!
BEAMWAR! Now accepting mana bids for the first of three rounds! Now accepting new BEAMWAR entrants in this round only!

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

Worlds away, the Wind Knight's hands clench in her lap once again as Beryl unleashes the whole of the power at her command. Even separated from that world and witnessing it only through the crystalline blossom, she can feel the sheer malice and destructive force it represents; if she were facing it directly herself, she suspects strongly that she would not survive.

And yet Sailor Moon stands before Quen Beryl, daring to meet that power with her own, facing the storm with only her own magic to support her.

"Don't give in to her, Sailor Moon," the Wind Knight whispers, her left hand coming up to press against her breastplate, over her heart. "For the sake of everything we cherish, alone or in common, *don't lose* ... !"

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used May My Will Be Your Strength on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Fuu Hououji's May My Will Be Your Strength, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Reinforced by Fuu Hououji!

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

That wave of darkness...

Homura tenses and watches, as it floods towards Usagi. Her eyes narrow; she feels ice fill her stomach, as she watches what might be their last hope come under assault -- and she can do nothing about it. Her hand begins to reach for her shield. If Sailor Moon fails here, she may have no other choice. She isn't there, and she knows for a fact that Madoka is watching this fight too.

She knows what could happen.

But Usagi asked a question, and that stays Homura's hand. The fight isn't done yet. 'H-How can you hold on that long?'

"One thing, Sailor Moon," Homura murmurs, softly. "One thing to give hope, no matter what else happens. To do everything myself. ...It's why you have to do this."

COMBAT: Homura Akemi has used For Friendship's Sake on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Homura Akemi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Homura Akemi's For Friendship's Sake, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Reinforced by Homura Akemi!

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Hope and Dreams and Save the World! - Undertale OST(On Listen on Repeat to avoid Spoilers) - http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=lGaneyDfyls#Undertale_OST_-_Hopes_And_Dreams_6_Save_The_World_Extended

The presence of such deep darkness in the throne room, she feels as it as it grows darker and colder and seeps into every facet of Beryl's being. And for a moment, she's dumbstruck, she's cold and shivering and scared. Facing down such a sentient maelstrom of power. Sailor Moon can only see her death... and yet... "No." She whispers, the only word she can think to say as she stands her ground.

A denial of reality. A denial of the possibility of failure at this point. If she failed, then nothing would change. Her friends would remain dead, the world would become Queen Beryl's. The rest of her friends would never get to go back to their ordinary lives even if they kept them whenever Beryl had banished them.

A discordant note, like a discordant note of bow drawn across violin strings.

It's like what Michiru Kaioh told her, when she saw that macabre painting. It is in times like this that the world counts upon the actions of a single woman to be spared from annihilation. Usagi had responded that no one should have to make that decision alone.

Indeed, she meant it. And fortunately for her, despite being here alone, she felt the presence of so many others here with her... friends who transcended death to be with her. Friends who transcended dimensional borders. Bright hearts of Mahou Shoujo and ordinary girls alike, brimming with such tender feelings. With both hands, she grasps the Moon Stick, for she thinks standing against this will take every ounce of strength she has, physical or otherwise.

Because she'll need it. Even if she's much stronger than she was before.

"Moon Healing-" No drawn circle. No flourishing dance. Simply the strength of heart and its feelings behind it. "-ESCALATION!" Sailor Moon's power thrums out like a song through the Ginzuishou. "I'm... not alone either!" An imperfect song, like that of an amateur musician, but played with such passion.

Pulse after pulse after radiant purifying power, note after note. At first as if being played by a singular artist, but then... 'One thing to give hope, no matter what else happens. To do everything myself. ...It's why you have to do this.' 'Don't give into her Sailor Moon. For the sake of everything we cherish alone or in common, don't lose!' she is joined by feelings which resonate like instrument after instrument until it becomes a symphony of feelings she cherishes, "...I won't let you take away everyone's shining future!" It crashes against the darkness like a barrier of light that surrounds the Moon Princess, attempts to hold it off at first, and then... tries to shove back...

BEAMWAR! Queen Beryl presses her advantage, tenaciously forcing back Sailor Moon! Queen Beryl has the advantage!

BEAMWAR! Sailor Moon takes 9 damage! Queen Beryl takes 6 Fatigue damage!
BEAMWAR! Now accepting mana bids for the second of three rounds! No longer accepting any more BEAMWAR entrants!
BEAMWARNING! Sailor Moon must regain the advantage this round, or they will be unable to continue fighting!

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

They aren't alone.

Beryl isn't alone, after all - a dark presence that had lurked in the shadows has entered the fray at last.

Sailor Moon isn't alone - for all that she stands as the last champion in the Dark Kingdom, there are friends at her back.

And Mai isn't alone. Oh, certainly there's no one sharing this branch of the grand tree with her - that earlier grieving rage having spooked even the trickster-squirrel running up and down the trunk - but among those countless other worlds, others share this cause. They aren't alone in supporting Sailor Moon - and so the heroine herself isn't alone.

Worlds apart, Mai watches as Sailor Moon sobs - cries out her honest feelings. It's hard to watch - but it's human. It's everything Beryl isn't. And...it's almost like...

'...you have someone you need to get back to.'

...almost like Sailor Moon answered her.

"...you are. You are strong, more than you know! You're there, even though..." Even though Sailor Moon is all alone, Mai doesn't say. Even though Endymion is already... "It isn't not being scared - it's stepping forward even though you're terrified! So - trust all of us. Believe in yourself."

Mai clenches her fist. The things Sailor Moon's saying...cast across countless worlds, others must be watching. Must be putting their faith in this girl - who stands shining against the boundless darkness. The depths of that oblivion seem like they could reach out, consume even those watching...save for that final light standing against it.

Mai takes a deep breath - and yells out as loudly as she can, as if enthusiastic volume alone could pierce the veil between dimensions. "It's up to you, Sailor Moon - but I know you can do it! All of us do - we all believe in you!"

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has used Trust In Our Belief on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Mai Tokiha's Trust In Our Belief, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Reinforced by Mai Tokiha!

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

La Sirene du Nord leans forwards. In the mirrored shadows she watches.

"Come on," she breathes. "Sailor Moon -- you can do it. I - I know you can," she continues, more tears coming down her cheeks. Her voice is quaking. "It's hard, but you can - you have to save us - you're the only one who can...!"

Batiste has clasped his paws together, raised up to rest on his muzzle. It may be a prayer.

La Sirene's left hand curls into a tight fist. "You're fighting for everyone - the beaten, the broken - c, come on! You can do it...!"

COMBAT: Nori Ankou has used Defiant To The End, We Hear The Call on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Nori Ankou has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Nori Ankou's Defiant To The End, We Hear The Call, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Sailor Moon is Reinforced by Nori Ankou!

<Pose Tracker> Seika Miuchi [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

In the petals of a flower of a kind she cannot understand but does not need to, a girl watches another girl stand before a vast whirlwind of pure weaponized malice.

Across the void between the worlds, there is, again, the sensation of something in the distance. A lone candle lit in the dark. A small spark of purity against the curtain of hatred and resentment.

The sense of a quiet dignity, projected across the gulf of impossibility, whether through sheer will or something else.

Slender fingers hover millimetres from the flower as Masque Feu bows her head over it, eyes lidded in the face of the images she sees. The blonde girl, caught before the storm - and yet, the Silver Crystal resonates.

"That light," whispers Augustine the Heretic from her shoulder, his eyes wide with awe and a distant recognition. "That silver light...!"

The girl, Masque Feu, feels it too - a tug of something within her that she cannot explain, but jives well with her overpowering urge to do something, anything.

"No, Sailor Moon," she says, that air of unflinching serenity and grace seeming to try and transfer itself to Sailor Moon across the gulf of universes. "You were never alone. You could not be."

Her thoughts drift - against the dire blast, the images of a man and a woman, walking away. They are replaced with other faces. Fate - Mai - Lera - Nori.

The Soeur of the Blessed Flame clasps her hands as though in prayer.

"You have our hopes. All of them."

COMBAT: Seika Miuchi has used The Silver Star Above on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Seika Miuchi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Seika Miuchi's The Silver Star Above, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Cheered!

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

There are many magical girls watching this fight, of course. They are huddled around the flower, gripping it tightly, and hoping with all their hearts.

Lera Camry is one of them. The girl is kneeled down, staring into it -- and she sees the terrible dark presence that Sailor Moon is facing. Her eyes widen; she grips it tighter, leaning forward, and shakes her head hard. "Sailor Moon!" she calls out. "I-I don't know if you can hear me, but... but you stuck by me, when I tried to find Jaren! You kept believing in me. Coming up on roofs with me!"

She shakes her head, impassioned. "So don't... don't falter now! We're here, with you, even if we can't get down there, y'know? Just believe in that, because we believe in you!"

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

In this moment of crisis Sailor Mars' spirit speaks again to voice a rallying cry. The shadows of the room grow a little more pronounced, an unseen light smashing them long.

"Here you are, so here I am."

Invisible forces swirl about in a vortex beyond all sight. The incidental frost that has creeped into this arctic dungeon begins to sweat and shimmer. There is no question of imagination or hallucination. She is /there/ and there is no question about it.

"The night is always darkest before dawn. Rage against the darkness. Pour yourself into this moment, and let your strength be joined by our own. Lose yourself in this stand and leave nothing to be torn down."

Spiritual eddies shift and tilt like a field of sunflowers subtly shifting to strain towards their solar sustenance. Now one with the whole of all that is beyond, Rei Hino martials the contours of existence. Beyond observable reality she rallies the forces of life against their antithesis.

"Fight! Live! Now's the moment, Usagi! Now! NOW!"

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has used The Dance of a Candle Light in the Wind on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Sailor Mars's The Dance of a Candle Light in the Wind, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Reinforced by Sailor Mars!

<Pose Tracker> Queen Beryl [None] has posed.

Beryl grins savagely as the two powers meet, match, and strain. It looks nothing like her conjured vision of 'Queen Usagi,' and as far as she's concerned this is a major relief.

"Pathetic -- you are no worthy inheritor of Queen Serenity except in your shared uselessness! Even she put up more of a fight than this... the Ginzuishou deserves a better wielder!"

Flexing from shoulder to fingertip, she pushes her end of the beam with raw force. It instantly dialates to three times its original size, wider than she is tall and warping the throne room around them. Where it passes across the floor, ice shatters into needles, then gets instantly sucked into the dark storm.

"BEG! BEG FOR MERCY, YOU PITIFUL PRINCESS! BEG BEFORE I KILL YOU!" she grates out, closing the distance between them by three staggering steps: "ON! YOUR! KNEES!".

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

"You can do it!"

Sailor Jupiter's voice, too, echoes beside Sailor Moon, and with a charge in the air it is /fact/ that she is here with Sailor Moon now.

"We all know that you can!" she speaks again, though she can't be seen. Makoto Kino promised that she would be with Usagi, and death isn't enough to break her bond with the girl who changed her life.

Makoto can't bring forth lightning, or push back the shadows. But she can give beyond everything she has. "Remember the love that you showed us!"

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

After a tiny eternity of silent, restrained companionship -- of the quiet assurance that she is still there, and believes in her -- Sailor Mercury joins her friends in speaking, in crying out.

She takes up her place next to Rei, next to Usagi, and says, simply, "Everyone here believes in you, Sailor Moon! We've never stopped believing in you!" A strong statement on its face already -- but for Ami Mizuno, Ami Mizuno who contended with such doubt in her heart for so long...

Sailor Mercury, standing there in spirit behind Usagi, affirms in defiance of Beryl, "Stand and fight, Sailor Moon!"

COMBAT: Sailor Mercury has used Absolute Faith on Sailor Moon.

COMBAT: Sailor Mercury has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Sailor Mercury's Absolute Faith, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Reinforced by Sailor Mercury!
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has used No Regrets on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has finished attacking.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Venus [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Minako takes her place on the other side of Usagi, wishing desperately that she could do more for her princess than encourage her.

But Minako knows that Usagi is strong. Far stronger than Princess Serenity. And far stronger than Queen Serenity before her.

"Don't give up!" Minako urges. "All of us believe in you! Sailor Moon!"

COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Sailor Jupiter's No Regrets, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Reinforced by Sailor Jupiter!

COMBAT: Sailor Venus has used NEVER GIVE UP on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: Sailor Venus has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Sailor Venus's NEVER GIVE UP, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Reinforced by Sailor Venus!

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Silver Will - Sora no Kiseki OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxTM6NaqWMM

Sweat beads on her forehead, her twintails streaming behind her. She knows that if she gives even a little, then she'd slip away forever. With a shriek she raises the Moon Stick with both hands as power slams against her spell, before she lowers it shakily, lashing back with a pulse of radiant power.

So many are counting on her, so many believe in her... so many are placing their hopes on her. Whether they're passionate, or dignified, or desperate, or loving, or sorrowful. They all believe in her so much that their feelings cross all barriers. "You all... everyone... " As if she were so overwhelmed by the fact that they all believe so much in her.

Whether the spiritual eddies come at her and feel like roaring fire or resonant thunder or as cool as the depths of ocean or as bright as the goddess of love herself they're there for her. Feelings which take shape even beyond the boundaries of death.

"She's so strong...!" She grits her teeth, as the first ghost, that of the passionate Mars speaks to her. But in telling her to rage, she does, anger surging up within her. She hears courage Jupiter's voice and stands a bit taller, as she takes a singular step forward. "I feel... a bit stronger though... because you're here!"

Then Mercury joins in, and tears stream down her face, because regardless of how she feels, hearing them all believing so strongly in her, regardless of her role in their deaths... it doesn't feel like it absolves her, but it does like a weight has been lifted off her shoulders.

Even as she feels Venus join in, urging her not to give up, not to give in, "Maybe I'm not worthy... but I won't give up! I w-won't beg...! I'm a Proud Sailor Senshi... AND I AM NEVER ALONE!" Light which is warm and gentle to her, but white hot to the darkness, gives way to spirals of pink which for some reason, seem even more brighter, more blinding...

and when it clears, ribbons finish wrapping around, into a splendid gown of gossamer white, its long train already billowing out like streamers. She raises the Moon Stick a bit more steadily, her eyes narrowing in resolution as the Ginzuishou gleams like a the core of a small star

COMBAT: Sailor Moon transforms into Princess Serenity!

BEAMWAR! Princess Serenity rallies, overwhelmingly driving back Queen Beryl! Princess Serenity has the advantage!
BEAMWAR! Queen Beryl takes 23 damage! Princess Serenity takes 0 Fatigue damage!
BEAMWAR! Now accepting mana bids for the third of three rounds! No longer accepting any more BEAMWAR entrants!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon transforms into Princess Serenity!
BEAMWAR! Princess Serenity rallies, overwhelmingly driving back Queen Beryl! Princess Serenity has the advantage!
BEAMWAR! Queen Beryl takes 23 damage! Princess Serenity takes 0 Fatigue damage!
BEAMWAR! Now accepting mana bids for the third of three rounds! No longer accepting any more BEAMWAR entrants!

<Pose Tracker> Queen Beryl [None] has posed.

Beryl gasps like she's been punched in the gut, the Ginzuishou's light reducing her pupils to tiny, pained points.

And it's only then, as she reflexively winces back from the beautiful, terrible radiance, that she sees the silhouettes of five girls, not just one, on the far side of the colliding blasts of energy. "I-impossible," she chokes, remnant dark power leaking from her mouth to sizzle on the ground between her slippered feet. "I watched you perish -- I /gathered/ your corpses!"

The floor shatters beneath the pressure of the beams, turning the icy surrounding them to splinters, splinters which suck themselves into the storm.

More darkness leaks from beneath her fingernails, drawn towards the point of conflict. "This -- is -- very touching... but it's no true miracle! I offered to let you die alone... but have you thought about... what will happen, if you win?"

Not that she has any intention of allowing that without a fight. A thin line of red forms down her chin, more from her nails. "We -- both -- know -- how this ends."

There is an upper limit to how much she can bring to this battle, and it is the carrying capacity of her very soul. The darkness she's drawn into her has transformed her into a chalice overflowing, but finite all the same.

"You're -- not -- going to choose -- to live -- alone!"

<Pose Tracker> Nagihiko Fujisaki [Ohtori Academy (6)] has posed.

Nagi's whole back tenses as Sailor Moon actually calls out in response to him - eyes widening. Rhythm knocks him on the head with a little spritely fist, laughing. "You doubted? You think about it way too much, man."

Nagi's already getting tired of hearing that, but for the moment, he focuses on what comes next. It's not like the stories. Heroic resolve and will to see a task through in spite of those lost is all well and good, but the thought of it is tearing her apart. Nagi forces himself to the familiar position; seated, face flat. He thinks about tying his hair up to get into the role, but he doesn't need to go that far into character for this. He just needs the composure; the will to focus, even while a darkness beyond anything he's ever imagined - more powerful than anything Nikaidou ever threw at them, deep like midnight and huge like eternity, looms. And against it, a single shard of moonlight, pushing back with all its strength.

Rhythm stares on. This kind of collosal clash might be a little outside his wheelhouse, but the little fairy knows his job; he rolls off of Nagi's head, sits down on his shoulder. Nagi tips his head a fraction; glancing, sidelong.

"Make it cool, Nagi," Rhythm says, and flashes him a grin and a thumbs-up.

Nagi's flat mask cracks, a faint grin crossing. The beam from Beryl's end explodes brighter at that moment, but still; something in his heart is light.

"Don't worry about power." he says, and finds himself breaking from that seiza, answering the tension of the moment. "It's not your power that wins this! It's that, that beat inside you! The rhythm that'll guide your every heartbeat!"

And then she's exploding in light, and Nagi's eyes widen at the grandeur she becomes; and Queen Beryl responds with equal horror, and Nagi has to go back to where he began - his momentum arrested by shock.

"Everything is up to you, now," he says, limply. And he takes himself back to that first fantasy; a world more like the one he understands. "It's the finale. Everything is dark. The oni rises. And the hero has the stage to herself for a few minutes." His hands ball, but rather than stew in frustration, he throws his arms wide and cries out. "But she's not by herself! Because everyone she's helped...everyone who's heard of her...everyone her life has even touched is watching and calling her name! Fight! Sailor Moon!"

COMBAT: Nagihiko Fujisaki has used Ride the Rhythm on Princess Serenity.

COMBAT: Nagihiko Fujisaki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Princess Serenity accepts Nagihiko Fujisaki's Ride the Rhythm, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Princess Serenity is Reinforced by Nagihiko Fujisaki!

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The wind is howling.

At the edge of this world, upon this branch high and far from anyone else, Mai watches the war of light against darkness. The clash seems like it could shake more worlds than Earth - or perhaps that's her imagination. But the leaves of this great world-tree are rustling noisily as the wind picks up, clouds billowing by. From this seat, the HiME watches a star shine against oblivion.

She's quiet, for a moment - still feeling helpless, hands trembling as she watches Sailor Moon strain against the dark queen's power. But...as indomitable as that dark storm seems, as wild as the storm where Mai is might be...

Usagi Tsukino is carrying everyone's hopes and dreams.

"Never alone," Mai echoes. Sailor Moon - no, Princess Serenity is shining with determination - there are no more words that Mai can add here. Only...pray. To hold on to that hope...

And she isn't holding on alone.

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has used Never Alone on Princess Serenity.

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Princess Serenity accepts Mai Tokiha's Never Alone, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Princess Serenity is Reinforced by Mai Tokiha!

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Venus [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Sailor Venus is no longer alive, but that won't stop her from seeing her duty through. No matter what, she needs to help her princess.

/Help/ -- not protect.

Venus smiles encouragingly at her princess, her hand folding over Sailor Moon's where it rests on her moon stick.

"Venus Power!"

COMBAT: Sailor Venus has used Venus' Hand on Princess Serenity.

COMBAT: Sailor Venus has finished attacking.

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

"Something like dying isn't going to stop me from believing in Sailor Moon!"

Sailor Jupiter looks over at Queen Beryl across the from, from where her ghost stands with the white-gowned Sailor Moon, visible now standing tall behind and beside her in the brilliant radiance of the gleaming Ginzuishou.

The green trim of her battle uniform is vivid in the light, as vivid as the white of the same. Even with everything that's happened, even with the truth of what Beryl says--her death at the hands of that terrifying Queen's subordinates--she looks down with a small smile towards Princess Serenity before her.

She reaches out her gloved hand, and the fact that her presence is impossible does not stop her from softly placing that same hand over Usagi's, closing around Princess Serenity's.

She made a promise, and her hand--gentle, even with all her strength--stays to steady this girl who Sailor Jupiter loves so much. "Jupiter Power!"

COMBAT: Princess Serenity accepts Sailor Venus's Venus' Hand, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Princess Serenity is Reinforced by Sailor Venus!

COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has used Jupiter's Hand on Princess Serenity.
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Princess Serenity accepts Sailor Jupiter's Jupiter's Hand, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Princess Serenity is Reinforced by Sailor Jupiter!

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

Staying close to Usagi, Ami reaches a hand out for hers, holding fast -- even in her ghostly state.

"We're right here with you, Sailor Moon," she says, continuing to reject -- as forcefully as she can given the circumstances -- Beryl's insistence on isolation, on weakness.

Even death can't keep them apart -- and together, they're as strong as they need to be.

Right alongside her friends, she cries out, "Mercury Power!!" Her hand settles on Usagi's.

COMBAT: Sailor Mercury has used Mercury's Hand on Princess Serenity.

COMBAT: Sailor Mercury has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Princess Serenity accepts Sailor Mercury's Mercury's Hand, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Princess Serenity is Reinforced by Sailor Mercury!

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

Sailor Mars joins her sisters. It's an unsurprising marvel that they all remain to a woman. Death had failed to break them before. They weren't about to change that now.

It's all up to Usagi now..but that doesn't mean that she's alone. Even if she turned and ran, and didn't stop for twenty years, she still wouldn't be alone.

Taking her place among the Senshi and their still living Princess, she places her hand upon all the rest, supporting a battered grip and helping it hold on to the future.

"Hold on tight. We'll catch you if you fall, make sure nothing slips out of your hand. Mars Power!"

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has used Mars' Hand on Princess Serenity.

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Princess Serenity accepts Sailor Mars's Mars' Hand, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Princess Serenity is Reinforced by Sailor Mars!

<Pose Tracker> Princess Serenity [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Makenai! - Sailor Moon OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7el7OnyCg8


A fate worse than death for Usagi Tsukino.

It already had been. Death would have been kind. She'd at least have joined friends. Instead she'd walked through the most hellish of nightmare scapes to get here, and yet, the worst part of it was the loneliness.

And as Beryl presents it as the outcome if she wins, she almost loses her nerve. Almost.

There's this pained look in her eyes, as her gaze drops fractionally, and in that moment, it seems like the darkness would win, with the simple threat of loneliness.

Feelings of being the heroine in a period drama swell up within her from Nagihiko... and yet... what did that matter, if she was alone?

An echo, that she's 'never alone', her own words a moment ago, now feelings shared by someone across the boundaries. Tears well up within her eyes.

It seems like she's about to falter, when suddenly one hand joins hers on the Moon Stick. It feels so warm. Then another. And another until... Five pairs of hands, five hearts joined as one, proving to Queen Beryl that it doesn't matter if she collected their bodies... if she'd seen her deaths herself. The Inner Senshi had told the great equalizer itself to shut up, and sit down for the sake of their Princess.

'Something like dying isn't going to stop me from believing in Sailor Moon!' 'We're right here with you, Sailor Moon!' 'Hold on tight. We'll catch you if you fall, make sure nothing slips out of your hand.'

"E-Everyone..." She sounds so overwhelmed by their gestures and words of support. Enough that she can stave off the idea of being entirely alone long enough to remain strong, "...I believe in the world that they all tried so hard to protect! If choosing to lose means that I betray everyone's belief in the shining future... then..." She screams out the final word, as painful as it is, "...MAKENAI!"

With that word, the brilliant love of five hearts focused as one through the Ginzuishou swells up and flares out so suddenly that it envelops the throne room... perhaps even the dark kingdom entire, making it impossible to see anything for a few seconds... even if it seems like an eternity.

BEAMWAR! Princess Serenity presses her advantage, her Moon Healing Escalation exploding through Queen Beryl's The Siege and Investiture of Princess Venus' Castle At Magellan for a total of 124 Fatigue damage! Princess Serenity is victorious!

BEAMWAR! Queen Beryl is unable to keep fighting!

<Pose Tracker> Princess Serenity [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

...before blinking out so suddenly that it's like it never existed, despite its very real effects.

Princess Serenity, smiles for just a moment, then it's like she's swooning, she drops forward as dead weight, her hands only whipping out to catch her against the stone at the last moment. The Moon Stick clatters to the ground then slides no more than a precious meter away... there is only silence, interminable silence, and frigid cold and... "Alone... I'm..." She speaks brokenly, "...the n-nightmare didn't e-end at all... I'm..." She leans back, puts her trembling palms to her face, and sobs. She'd won, she hadn't betrayed her friends at all, all their sacrifices had been made meaningful... but at the cost of condemning to her own little personal circle of hell.

<Pose Tracker> Queen Beryl [None] has posed.

The light reaches out to engulf Queen Beryl. Where it touches her blood, it heals her. Where it touches her darkness, it purifies her, and the collision of this explosive force of love with the malice infecting her body causes pure white smoke to rise from her, spreading out in all directions.

It is not refreshing, and she is not refreshed.

But she dies on her feet.

"You're wrong," she spits out, with the very last of her air. "You've already lost... everything."

And then she falls.

Her knees are harder than the ice beneath her; it shatters instead of her. It is her last, tired victory of the last, tired remnant of a grudge that has lasted so many years that there is no easy way to tally them. This is hatred that slips through time more thoroughly than any hourglass sand.

The last thing she hears are the sobs of her enemy.

The stillness, afterwards, is almost a climax. With her hair splayed around her in a red cloud, her face peaceful in the knowledge that her foe's victory is an unhappy one, she could be sleeping. In death, she is as she was in life: a human, a woman. A queen.

The queen is dead.

Long live the queen.