2016-02-01 - Desperation! Alyssa's Ultimatum

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Title: <Desperation! Alyssa's Ultimatum

At gunpoint, Nanami Kiryuu brings occupied Ohtori Academy a special announcement from their so-called military saviors. Underneath this message, Alyssa Searrs demands that the HiME turn themselves in, or she'll blow everyone to smithereens. She demonstrates that she's serious by orbitally bombarding the forest surrounding Ohtori, setting most of it on fire. This also scares out many students, magical and otherwise, who had been hiding in the forest, straight into the waiting arms of Miyu and the Golden Age PMC soldiers.


Nori Ankou, Fuu Hououji, Hikaru Shidou, Endo Naoki, Mikoto Minagi, Steven Universe, Takeo Akamizu, Mai Tokiha, Lera Camry, Garnet, Natsuki Kuga, Sachiko Majime, Chitose Shiratori, Kozue Kaoru GM: Honoka Yukishiro, with special guest Nagisa Misumi as Miyu Greer


Ohtori Academy and Southern Cross Island

OOC - IC Date:

02/01/2016 - 09/26/2014

<Pose Tracker> Honoka Yukishiro [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

The Chairman's Tower of Ohtori Academy is, by any metric, the highest point on Southern Cross Island. Like a noble, white pillar of heaven itself, it thrusts into the sky. It has very few windows; an alien might mistake it for a monolith.

Since the occupation began, no one has gone into or out of it but soldiers -- and the Student Councils of the Sister Schools, presumed to be still alive within the tower's walls after they were hustled in following the events at the ball. Cutting the student leadership off from their peers, holding hostage their communications... it's been a vicious, winning strategy for keeping the students from organizing as effectively as they might have otherwise.

(The rest of the students remain in classrooms and gymnasiums, escorted from place to place under the auspices of protecting them from the terrorists who blew up the bridge. Blood testing of the student body is continuing. Most are too terrified to be angry, but displays of temper are met with a brutal response from the soldiers, so this may be for the best.)

Tonight, though... the second night, some twenty-four hours after the bridge to the mainland was destroyed... the very top of the tower is illuminated by spotlight after spotlight after spotlight. They turn on consecutively, radiance sparkling against the tower's white surface from all angles, and most highly concentrated at a famous balcony about three-quarters of the way up.

This is the fabled place where the Ohtori Student Council takes its meetings, discusses matters of import and seals the fates of those they see fit to meddle with. It has been empty, barren for a day, its usual inhabitants kept carefully locked away.

But now the edges are filling with armed guards. And marching straight down the center, as though on a red carpet, wholly ignoring the guns pointed at her from all directions, is Nanami Kiryuu.

Nanami isn't technically a member of the Council; her authority derives from a mix of nepotism and fear. Both are healthy Ohtori attitudes. Regardless, it seems that she's been selected, or perhaps volunteered, to address the combined student bodies of the Sister Schools, the first message of its kind since the occupation began.

She is amplified, and although the forests of the island seem thick and wild in places, there is nowhere out of earshot of a PA system. She's also projected, onto the various screens in classrooms, gymnasiums, cafeterias and sports fields -- Ohtori has lots of state-of-the-art equipment. It also, through unknown means, bleeps onto cell phone screens which have been largely dead since the occupation began.

Right now, Nanami is inescapable.

(Moreso than usual.)

She does not look that much worse for wear. Her makeup is impeccable and there's hardly a hair out of place. Only a single, mottled bruise on her neck -- mostly hidden by a dashing scarf -- betrays any sign of mistreatment at the hands of the military.

Her eyes are bright with emotion, and her voice isn't shrill in its usual way. It thrums with genuine, very serious urgency.

"Students of the Sister Schools," she begins, reading off of a printout. She's a good public speaker. Her eyes get a little wild for a moment, and she starts to say quickly, "I hope you all--"

The click of safeties being removed from nearby firearms are picked up by the mic. Whatever deviation she was about to make from the script corrects abruptly.

"A-hem," she clears her throat, and then proceeds in the balefully dull tones of a student reading an assigned passage from a textbook. "We of the Student Council have been asked to make a statement, to reassure you all that the situation is under control and that we are well aware of your many dissatisfactions. We are taking all the actions we can to see that your concerns are responded to in a timely fashion."

So far, she hasn't said much of anything.

OOC: The PCs are not all together ICly (yet, and possibly not ever, depending on choices people make tonight), so please, in your sceneset, make it clear where you are (being in smaller groups scattered around is encouraged, since it gives you someone to immediately interact with). If you have yet to establish on camera the details of your daring escape from the paramilitary and your adventures in the forest trying to elude their grip, feel free to take the opportunity to regale us all as to your off-camera adventures. For narrative convenience, anyone who's been in the caves has their (previously mostly useless) cell phone with them and will be getting the message that way, but being above ground tonight (either still nominally captured at the school, or at large in the forest, or possibly trying to be sneaky-but-at-large at the school) is greatly advised. If you're not sure what you can do, please ask questions OOCly! And if you have no idea what's going on, please check Bulletin Board Posts 15/55 and 2/122 to get a handle on the situation!

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

For her part, Lera Camry is sitting in one of the classrooms. Her back is against the wall; on her wrist, she has a few bruises. She had fallen asleep in the chapel earlier, and when soldiers found her, they dragged her away rougher than they needed to in the end. She rubs, idly, at her wrist. The one without a bracelet on it. That bracelet, dark green and with a yellow gem on it, dangles and then glints in the light of the classroom's TV.

She looks up from the wall that she was leaning against, watching Nanami Kiryuu speak -- and hearing the telltale click of assault rifle's safeties. Her teeth grit, then.

Broken Ground is careful to speak only telepathically -- to his wielder, her other Device, and the other mage and wielder in the room. <My opinion hasn't changed.>

<I'm loathe to admit this...> Soaring Sky trails off, before he sends a telepathic sigh. <...but I agree with Ground.>

Lera nods. Then, telepathically, she sends to the Devices and other mage here: <I don't like this either, y'know? It's getting worse...>

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Flashes of blades, and the sound of metal being rent as the blade passes through it. Somehwere a scream, and then a voice, as musical and beautiful as the rays of the golden sun tells him calmly, "Not yet Knight. You have work to do."

Takeo opens his eyes and winces. His right hand immediately going for the right shoulder. One of his classmates had seen fit to wrap up as best as they could, the savage holes rent by his armor in that strange place where he fought the Cybody, and lost. He sits up and winces. Again. Looking at his hand that comes away red. He's still pretty cut up.

"Ugh. It had been such a nice night too." He says as he takes stock. Then his eyes go wide. "Tokiha-san!" He nearly shouts, remembering that SHE was at that fight too. He's in a classroom, probably carried there after he passed out from getting his butt kicked. Students are listening to the Student Council, and he frowns. Very deeply.

<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Over in a corner of one of the classrooms is an Ohtori alumnus. Chitose sits in the corner on her knees like she had seen other members of her syndicate do, and how she had done many times in the last sixteen years. She hadn't even considered escaping for multiple reasons, not yet. Her eyes are closed and her glasses are on the floor next to her. Her breathing is well regulated, and it may even appear like she's sleeping. She isn't, but that's because she's watching her own thoughts in her mind, a completely different situation where she is tied up like a stereotypical cartoony way, with the ropes and the handkerchief covering her face. What is also cartoony is the way she's reacting, trying to stretch and tear at her bonds like an enraged animal.

This may explain the frown she's experiencing in places outside her mind. So there's that!

To be fair, Chitose does work for the Yakuza, she does admire the sort of gumption that requires sending in helicopters, tanks, and the navy. But at the same time, speaking of nepotism, Chitose's thoughts show her Ohtori roots.

'Ugh, why did they kidnap us at Ohtori? It's such a horrible place. Couldn't they have targeted us at Juuban or Infinity instead?' Chitose, consequently, doesn't listen too hard to the words from the student council. It's not like anything has changed.

White Omen, for his part, is silent and actually listening, just in case something big happens.

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo has been keeping a low profile. After he got beat up a little, from not keeping a low profile. After that he decided it would be best to just play along, and make sure nobody got hurt on his account. At least, until he had a better plan. Which was going to take some time, Endo not being very good at planning.

So he sits in the same classroom Lera does, eyes watching the television screen as the girl on it begins her announcement. Occasionally he checks around the room of the state of the other students, and guards, and fellow mage.

<Aaah, well, let's see what she's going to say.> His reply bounces back to Lera, the boy scrubbing at a cheek as he awaits further instruction.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

"Blood test... oh no."

Within the confines of a small classroom is Steven Universe, in a slightly scuffed white tuxedo still. Being taken since the dance has been rough. Really rough. The guards have not been overly mean to him, at least. They are all very serious in their job, but Steven has fully cooperated, and remains rather unscathed because of it. Though recent news has begun to worry him greatly.

Word has gotten around that, well, whoever they are looking for is being sniffed out by blood test. While he is pretty sure they are not after him at least directly, a blood test may reveal something more about him. Perhaps the fact that he isn't entirely human, which definitely could cause an issue.

"I cant... stay here," he says quietly to himself. Some others are in the classroom he is in as well, "I wish the gems were here... I wish Lion was here..." the boy says, his head down on a desk, a hand running through his hair.

Steven takes a deep breath, and seems to start strumming an invisible guitar, or something, trying to calm down. It helps, somewhat.

Steven begins to wander around, taking in his surroundings. See what is available to him. Many other kids and young adutls are in the same boat as him. Something needs to be done. They all need a Jail Break.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

What a mess this is.

Garnet is unfamiliar with school dances, but based on the ones she'd seen on television with Steven, they aren't supposed to end in an armed occupation. Her first instinct was to get to Steven as soon as possible, but there were so, so many soldiers.

Most types of inter-human aggression, much less modern military conflicts were nonexistent in Beach city, so she finds herself at something of a loss, and after slipping away during the chaos of the cosmic event and their initial arrival, has been carefully studying the soldiers, and their armaments from afar...

Tonight is the night though, she's studied their behavior and uniforms specifically, and concentrates, shifting her height a few feet lower to not stand out, but still be somewhat physically intimidating, and manifests a soldier's uniform, changing her usual shades into military-style aviators, and crafting her afro to fit under a soldier's cap, giving herself a common low-level command rank and design in hopes that it will lessen possible questioning. She waits for a patrol to cross nearby and does her best to blend in and make her way to the school.

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

Fuu Hououji is more worried about her family than about herself.

Her mother and father and her big sister *should* all be safely back at their home; they left right away after the athletic events of the festival were done, expecting Fuu to make her own way home after the ball. But with the bridge destroyed and a communications blackout being forced upon the trapped students, not even the chance to send so much as a single text message, Fuu can only guess that her parents are frantically worried about their younger daughter's well-being. As Fuu once observed to a captive spirit, if anything happened to her, everyone who knows and loves her would be deeply hurt; that is why she cares so deeply about her own well-being.

Not that she's been above taking risks for the sake of others who depend upon her to fight. But the soldiers are too numerous and too well-armed to fight against, so open opposition has been out of the question since the beginning. At least she had a chance to change into her gym uniform ... not her regular Infinity uniform, though; that's back home with her parents.

And for all the good it doesn't do her, she has her cell phone. There are programs which allow for the creation of a distributed network independent of a central control node - 'mesh networking,' it's called - but so far, Fuu hasn't had the chance to talk to anyone who might have the app to begin setting such a thing up, and coding the software from scratch is somewhat beyond her skills. So all she can do is hope that whoever's behind the effective imprisonment of three schools' worth of students actually has the students' well-being as a driving concern, regardless of who might be hiding secret identities and/or magical powers.

Of course, hiding out in the forest doesn't do much for Fuu's access to computer know-how; she had tried to be cooperative with the soldiers when they escorted her to get a blood sample (which she allowed to be drawn), but her curiosity about the sample's purpose was swiftly, brutally, and violently discouraged. She took that as a sign that staying where she could be easily tracked was a bad idea, and slipped away from the guards' oversight when she was able to seize the opportunity. Since then (and with one side trip to see if she could borrow archery gear from the Ohtori practice range - no luck to be had there), she's been lurking in the forest, keeping an eye out for others when she can, and occasionally helping to fight the various monsters which populate said forest. She's tried to be judicious with the use of her powers ... and has been extremely pragmatic when it becomes necessary to exercise them; nobody's well-being is served by letting anyone else become a monster's snack.

For now, she's staying far away from a group of patrolling soldiers, her breathing as close to silent as she can make it and straining her ears for any hints of trouble. Her phone lighting up with the start of Nanami-san's broadcast prompts her to hunker down and make sure the phone's audio is as quiet as possible (while still being audible to *her*).

<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

A forest. Not the best place for fire. Fortunately, Hikaru's not here to start any fires... at least not right now. She's more of a person who's here to help out, even if she doesn't look like it yet. The soldiers taking over the school is a new one on Hikaru, although whether they're because of youma or something like that is unknown to Hikaru at this time. What is known is that the students being held hostage need help and they need it fast!

Unfortunately, Hikaru doesn't have any fatigues or camoflauge, so she's simply stuck wearing a casual attire of a sweatshirt, sweatpants, and sneakers, to allow her maximum freedom of movement. And of course, she just happened to be stuck with Fuu-chan as well. She'd be smirking about it, but in this situation she's not smiling at all. There's a very stern look on her face as she looks around, narrowing her eyes a little. She was lucky to be able to borrow a bokken from her kendo club, but she's really hoping she doesn't have to use it. Especially since she wouldn't stand a chance against a bunch of soldiers!

<Pose Tracker> Sachiko Majime [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

This was one comfy jacket!

Sachiko really didn't have any complaints with the soldier's jacket she pilfered from the skirmish in the woods shortly after the occupation began. This one doesn't even seem to have any monster bites or axe slashes in it. Those soldiers may be wacko fascist jerks, but they had some pretty legit equipment and clothing. It's only too bad their rations tasted terrible. Maybe if Sachiko is lucky, she'll be able to complete the whole set and then the fun could -really- begin. But as for now, she is making due with wearing her school uniform plus the oversized, ill-gotten jacket. You always had to start somewhere afterall.

As for now, the forest outside Ohtori was relatively boring and quiet. She's barely seen any patrols of soldiers today and she' s only seen a witch's familiar which was completely useless to her. But atleast Sachiko was in prime position to intercept and potentially assist her fellow escapees....if she felt like it. Speaking of her fellow escapees, Sachiko wasn't alone in her post. There was a certain black-haired, blue eyed classmate of her that she had almost quite literally ran into while out in the forest. "So, you wanna sneak in and find something real to eat? I'm.....

It was about this time that Sachiko heard a strange buzzing. Huh? Her cellphone was working again? She decides to be sure and flips open her phone just in time to receive the beginning of Nanami's address. Sachiko suddenly had a most awful idea that resulted in her devilishly grinning. Why steal a soldier's clothes when she steal someone elses that apparently had access to the Chairman's tower. There had to be all sorts of goodies in there. Sachiko turns back to wherever Nori Ankou was perched at. "I just got the best idea....."

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

Nori Ankou had fallen into the dark clutches of this private military corporation, having eaten a whole lot of dust after being ram-rodded in the stomach by a massive Cybody. She had not done a lot for the first day or so of this durance vile, though her bruises and withdrawn demeanor could be attributed to 'the giant explosion of doom' and 'being Nori Ankou'.

She had been compliant, shuffling round and not confronting the soldiers. For the first half of the day she was getting her head around what happened. For the second half of the day, well - these blood tests...

In the first half of the /night/ someone had opened a window for her. Someone with very small and dark /paws/.

There had been a lot of running then, clutching a package to her stomach, which was revealed to be a tote bag once she'd almost smacked into Sachiko. She hadn't had time to talk, and her accomplice decided to vamoose and make himself scarce as they went deeper into the woods.

"I don't think I could eat any," Nori says, before her phone buzzes. (Actually, it's not /her/ phone.) Looking down as she fishes it out, she thumbs past a picture of an otter reclining on its belly and looking at the camera, watches the video pop up... Nori frowns in bafflement. "Nanami Kiryuu...?"

Her eyes, lit from below by the screen, turn towards Sachiko. "... What's that?"

<Pose Tracker> Natsuki Kuga [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Natsuki gave a thoughtful frown as she paused to listen to the loud speakers that were blaring across the grounds. The only way to not hear it was to be off the island. She narrowed her eyes as she folded her arms and looked to her current party.

"Those guys are just willingly to do anything aren't they?" she grumbled and scratched her head. "We really need to start making a counter attack plan here guys."

<Pose Tracker> Honoka Yukishiro [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"As you all know," Nanami continues, a little bit more lightly now, "The Southern Cross Island bridge to the mainland was destroyed by terrorists last night, and they're believed to be among us now. The Golden Age company -- our escorts, our noble knights," /this/ little deviation from script is not accompanied by any gun-toting threats, "Are scouring the island to find them. The blood tests they're conducting on the school are to detect and isolate any carriers of a virus that the terrorists have released to spread further panic and damage in their wake."

Her printout ruffles a little in the night wind, way up there on that tower. There's a pause as she reads the next part to herself, and her reluctance to continue is audible when she does, the gears of her voice grinding against the friction in her heart.

"Unfortunately, a number of students seem to have taken it upon themselves to 'go rogue'. They are putting everyone at extreme risk -- should they actually succeed at escaping to the mainland, millions of citizens of Tokyo could become infected by the virus. And worse... Golden Age has identified a number of students actively collaborating with the terrorists."

She hesitates again, then starts reading names. "Mai Tokiha, Ohtori Class 11-B. Mikoto Minagi, Ohtori Class 10-A. Yukino Kikukawa, Ohtori Class 11-A. Kozue Kaoru, Ohtori Class 8-C. My, only accusing Ohtori students, that's totally un--"

  • click* Nanami's voice stills as she feels steel pressed to the small of her back.

"--anyway. The Student Council agrees with Golden Age that these delinquents must be brought to justice. If you are harboring them, please turn them in. If you have any idea where they could be, please report to your nearest soldier immediately." She starts to heat up, little red spots flagging her cheeks. "If you /are/ them, shame on you for bringing dishonor to our school! I, Nanami Kiryuu, will not soon forgive you for giving Ohtori Academy a bad name by consorting with terrorist scum! Though really, these are mostly scholarship students and other lower-class delinquents, I suppose it can't be--"

Something strange is happening to the transmission -- any escapees with actual eyes on the tower see a strange golden light beginning to rise around its edge. However, ordinary students in the class begin to chatter amongst themselves, commentating on Nanami's rant; it seems they aren't noticing the dozens of strange golden symbols flooding the screen like some sort of arcane white noise.

This transmission is being interrupted for another message, something that -- as it's easy to figure out -- only the magical can receive.

"Good evening, magical population of the Sister Schools. I feel it is only proper to take this opportunity to address you directly."

The golden light on the screens is beginning to resolve into a tiny face with a lovely voice -- elementary-school-student Alyssa Searrs. She's also recognizably the same little girl who led a series of rituals around the World Tree, Library Island, and other locations. Magical girls were summoned by a feeling of wrongness and defended her, over and over, from endless hordes of shadows...

...who were eventually revealed to be working alongside her all along, the ritual a dark art attempting to hijack the mystical power of the Tree.

For those who weren't a part of that story, however, she is also recognizably the heiress of the multinational (but American-headquarters) Searrs Corporation, star of the Ohtori Children's Choir, and just about the cutest little button of a girl you might ever hope to see. Bright blue eyes, long golden hair.

Her voice is nothing like it used to be, though, in class or out amongst the populace. It is coolly professional, and almost chilling to hear out of lips so very young. "You are understandably alarmed by our massive intercession. Speed Kid clumsily explained some of our motives on the night of the ball, but I do not think words will convince you that we stand for justice, for the overthrow of a corrupt and evil system that holds the very world hostage to its power, that abuses magical girls in order to perpetuate itself. This, too, is understandable."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The day after their daring escape from Miyu, Mikoto is bruised and sore, her reward for raising her sword against the woman. But escape they had, and the HiMEs had fled into the forest, running until they found caves to take shelter within. Caves are cold and intimidating places, but with a little help from Mai's fire and the combined presence of four girls, perhaps it wasn't as bad as it could be. Mikoto's ballgown is shredded, the skirt torn off at the knee and the cape similarly mauled to reveal the sword case hidden within, so that night, she'd huddled up with Mai even more obviously than she normally does.

Of course, the next day...

They still had to figure out how to survive.

Kozue's back at camp, in the cave system, but the other three HiMEs have ventured out into the forest to find food. Mikoto can catch fish, and Natsuki has a gun, and Mai can cook, so how hard could it be? The answer, it turns out, is 'pretty hard'; with all the excitement, all the animals have fled, and they haven't been able to find any bodies of water yet either.

Mikoto hears something which might have been an animal, and stops, and --

And then Nanami SPEAKS, amplified by the PA system, the phones of those who keep them beeping merrily as the creature skitters away. Mikoto's face crunches up into a grimace as she listens to her talk. It's forced, she can tell; a canned speech. Even so, it doesn't take long for her to gasp as her expression turns to shock, a hand long since stripped of its ballgown glove coming up to her chest in a gesture to grab the strap of Miroku's casing. Mikoto bristles as much as a girl can, grip strong but not yet moving to bring out her sword, eyes darting this way and that to search for threats in the shadows.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

<Yeah. No argument.> Lera kept watching after she thought it.

Her eyes widen a little when the names are read by Nanmi, though. She only, really, knows Mai and Mikoto. Of the two, Mai is the only one she has talked to much. Her eyes narrow, though. Somehow, she doesn't see Mai as a terrorist -- for that matter, she doesn't--

A broadcast to magic users. This prompts her eyes to widen and she recognizes the girl there. She remembers, too, that she tried to do something to the World Tree. The high schooler tenses visibly, sitting up straighter in her chair. Her eyes glance, sideways, at Endo as she considers for a moment.

<I think this is a bunch of crap.> She sends it telepathically. <She's been up to stuff before. And I don't see Tokiha being a gun-toting terrorist or helping them.>

But, she keeps listening too.

<Pose Tracker> Sachiko Majime [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sachiko looks completely bewildered when Nori Ankou says "Nanami Kiryuu" aloud. Was she a mind reader? Was that one of her powers? Sachiko looks at her own cellphone out of the corner of her eye. Or maybe she just got the same message as her. Well, in light of recent events, it really had a good chance of being either. "Uh yeah. Exactly, Nanami Kiryuu. Or any of the student council flunkies." The softball starlet smiles from ear to ear. "It's simple. We steal some uniforms and then we can go wherever we please. All we need to do is BLAM." Sachiko crahes one of her fists into another. "Take what we need and then we have an all-access backstage pass to Ohtori." The blonde teenager smiles proudly. "It's a pretty great plan, I know!" She says without even waiting for Nori's response.

The continued message does draw Sachiko's attention back to her cellphone. "Woah," she intones as she tries to process all this information at once. She looks over at Nori then back at her cellphone as the addresses continue. "You getting these messages too? Virus? Terrorists? And they are looking for our classmates?" Sachiko folds her arms against herself. "I don't buy it. But...." Sachiko grins quite demurely. "....we can always ask some of the soldiers directly. Or Nanami herself."

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

Mai Tokiha...hasn't been seen by the student body at large since a few minutes after the invasion began.

"Did you hear about Tokiha? The loner, not the cute one."

"You mean Mai-chan, in Grade 11? I saw the soldiers taking her off alone - at gunpoint, no less!"

"I heard they were looking for terrorists..."

"I snuck a peek at the papers they're holding - they had a picture of her specifically! Isn't that weird?"

"I thought I caught a glimpse of that wild roommate of hers, but maybe that was my imagination..."

Rumours might filter here and there through surreptitious whispers, but there's nothing concrete - no sign of where she might be. With the oppression as a whole, though, many might soon forget about her...until her name is announced prominently. Where could Mai Tokiha be?

The woods of Ohtori, naturally, hold the answer. Mai isn't a master of stealth...but she's partnered with a girl who might as well be a special ops type herself, and a healthy dose of 'wild instinct' besides. Still at large, in spite of at least one devious trap, and trying to make the most of the deep shadows in the woods...

And then phones buzzed, loudspeakers blared, and Nanami Kiryuu became utterly inescapable.

Tension shifts to an expression of unbridled annoyance on Mai's face, as she does her best to glare in the Chairman's Tower's general direction. Hopefully no soldiers are close enough to hear her annoyed muttering, as she grabs a nearby tree branch for support. "Didn't we get enough of you at the....the everything the schools have done?! And no kidding, terroriiiiii-" There's a beat. "What. Knights? Virus?..."

There is a sound best described as 'utter seething rage', which rises in pitch as Mai realizes she is in agreement with -Nanami Kiryuu- on a topic.

Golden light shines from the tower, bright enough to be glimpsed even in the woods - and there's a loud crack as Mai's grip breaks the tree branch in twain. "Alyssa...Searrs."

By Mai's side, Mikoto is bristling. On her other side, Natsuki is speaking of counter-attacks. And Mai - dressed in her school uniform, for lack of better clothing - audibly snarls at the angelic girl's speech.

"You have -got- to be kidding me..."

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

'Golden Age'. Those two words catch Fuu's attention as soon as they're repeated by her phone's miniature image of Nanami; she turns the volume up a notch and gestures Hikaru closer so that the redhead can hear as well. That was the same phrase that Speed Kid used to describe his group's intentions when his Cybody (and the red one) attacked the gathered magical girls after interrupting the ball the other night.

It can't be a coincidence ... and the fact that Nanami Kiryuu is being made to issue this broadcast at literal gunpoint removes any possibility that their captors actually have the continued well-being of any of them as a priority. If they're potentially willing to go so far as to kill her in mid-broadcast ...

Then several names are read off of the list, and the very first of them - Mai Tokiha - makes Fuu shake her head. Mai-san as a terrorist sympathizer? She can't believe that, at least not readily. At worst, she'd have to ask ... in a polite and friendly manner, and ideally, while making clear that the burden of proof rests with the accuser(s) rather than the accused.

But when the transmission changes - and the magical interference on the screen actually prompts her to look up, briefly, for the tower - the question of 'terrorist sympathizers' amongst the students is forgotten, at least for now; so is the claim that students might be harboring infection by a weaponized virus. Being called out as part of the 'magical population' ... *that* gets Fuu's attention, and she's listening closely as Alyssa continues to address them, no matter how she's doing it.

<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Hikaru didn't bring her phone, but when Fuu gestures her closer, she quickly complies, trying to listen in on what is being said. She knew something was definitely up from the get go, but now that she's hearing this, she's really starting to feel another knot in her stomach being tied. She tries not to show her uneasiness as she grits her teeth a little, hoping Fuu will be too busy using her phone to even notice.

The phrase 'Golden age' really makes Hikaru's eyes widen a little. Could this be connected to what happened at the ball? If it is, then Hikaru isn't entirely surprised by all this, but it doesn't make her feel any better about it. In fact, she starts to feel a bit of anger inside as she realizes that there's definitely a lot more happening here than she anticipated. It's almost like one bad joke after another taken to the extremes.

Just like Fuu, Hikaru also can't believe Mai Tokiha is in on this. "I knew it, there's more going on behind the scenes than they want us to know!" She whispers somewhat loudly, putting some logic facts together in her head. "We have to figure out a plan of action!"

<Pose Tracker> Natsuki Kuga [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Natsuki fumes but isn't surprise as Nanami's speech continues. "Virus? Really?," she grumbles and almost laughs at the accusation of being called a terrorists. "Heh, that's like tiger complaining about a cat being a predator."

She glances over to Mai sensing the girl's growing irritation. "I wish I could say it could be worse, but I can't really think of how," she muttered to her and then patted her shoulder. "On that note, now we know we really can't risk being seen by the other schools or we'll likely be turned in."

<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose continues her self pitying spree while the Student Council continues its message. Blah blah, praise for the soldiers using force, blah blah students are going rogue, blah blah blah she doesn't know any of the people they're looking for, blah blah turn them in or face the consequences. Chitose's busy being angry, here.

It's when the sudden appearance of golden light on the T.V., and a figure she actually did recognize, that she finally pays attention. She wasn't around for any of the rituals or any special events, but she has been in the same room as the little girl in the past, and knew exactly who she is. Alyssa Searrs, one of the few people the Itazura family actually bowed head to.

Chitose grabs her glasses and stands up, listening to the girl's words, and all Chitose needs is to hear the word "Speed Kid" to dismiss the message. She puts her glasses on. "I'm not convinced you have anyone's best interests in mind." While it's theoretically directed to the girl on the screen, it's not loud enough to actually be sent in that direction, though she's loud enough to be heard by everyone else in the classroom.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet doesn't recognize the girl speaking, but is disconcerted by the direct mention of magical girls and magic users. Upon entering the school, She stops and stands momentarily, looking around menacingly, as if surveying the surroundings like a surly soldier, but is actually listening to the message intently.

Luckily it did not seem to be that long, and she moves on.

She doesn't know what the Golden Age is, or who it is giving the address, but the one thing she is certain of is that their aims are not virtuous. The brutal behavior of the soldiers is more than enough to convince her of that.

She stops in front of a hall of classrooms and focuses her Future Vision, checking to see if she would find Steven in a classroom before actually entering it, actively narrowing down his location. She marches along the hallway as she narrows down his location, attempting to mimic the movements and mannerisms of the soldiers around her. It won't be long now...

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo listens to the broadcast attentively, leaning forward to peer closely at the television as Nanami explains the situation. His face scrunches up into a thoughtful--and progressively incredulous--set of lines as the speech continues.

<But, I haven't seen any terrorists. Except the people waving guns at everyone.> Endo muses over these things telepathically.

Nobody took his blood, either. What does the virus do? Is he immune? Who's going to turn into a zombie first!?

He's broken out of this brief reverie by the flash of gold symbols on the screen, and the girl that gives the second announcement. Now, Endo frowns. He tilts his head over toward Lera, sending another mental message her way: <Is she the bad guy?> He sounds-thinks-a bit uncertain. <I...don't think I trust her either.>

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

Nori does not confirm or deny any of these things. She keeps looking at the screen even as Sachiko talks, which Sachiko, of course, may be totally fine with. Nanami speaks and Nori frowns... mostly when she senses those little interruptions and pokes. Even so, her cheeks color when Nanami starts going into how they're being untrue to their school, especially when Kozue comes on that list.

Nori makes herself glance away, at Sachiko. "... Do you think it'd be that easy to take one of their uniforms? Or get all the way up to where Kiryuu is?"

Her eyes then turn back at the phone. She doesn't speak aloud about what that cool young voice is saying. Her brow furrows, however, the underlighting making her thoughtful frown more enigmatic-looking than it normally is.

"... Maybe it is a good idea," Nori says, abruptly.

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Mai is what now?" Takeo asks evenly. Then limps to the window to look outside. He then hears the other message and frowns. Even deeper. "Oh snap crackers." He looks down at a motion and see's ... "Merlin?" He asks softly, opening the window slightly and picking the rabbit up.

"Lancelot," the bunny whispers trying not to get the attention of the others in the room who are shattering away listening. "You've got to get out of here. If they get a hold of you, they could get a line on the Grail."

"And that would be bad." Lancelot says, setting the bunny down. He takes off the jacket and tosses it aside. " I need..."

Merlin points out the window. A horse is looking up from the ground with concerned eyes and Takeo nods. "Sparkles." He says with a grin. He turns to his classmates and gives a salute. "Gentlemen." He then bows to the girls. "Ladies. I must depart."

He picks up the Rabbit and tucks Merlin in his pocker even as the bunny asks, "Lancelot what on earth are you doing?!" in a hissed whisper.

For answer Takeo steps back, and launches himself forward. His battered and broken body SCREAMING in agony, especially where his armor had chattered and shredded his shoulder and chest. He feels scabs break, and fresh blood well up even as he dives for the window, covering his face and eyes as he SLAMS into the pane of glass.

The window explodes outward in a shower of glittering broken glass. Soldiers on the ground spin to see a kid flying out a window and raise guns to fire. One, turns and see's Sparkles who casually mule kicks the guard into the building. Apparently the Horse is a ninja as the guard hadn't seen the horse sneak up.

Bullets rip and whizz past Takeo, while Merlin SCREAMS like a frightened child who stayed up late to watch a late night horror fest even after Mom and Dad told them not too. The knight lands on the Horse's back with a loud OOF, the impact sending a sharp jolt of pain through, just about EVERY PART of his body. He doens't however have time to worry about that.

And Sparkles knows it. Pawing the air to gather muscles and momentum the Warhorse charges forward toward the tree line, Takeo ducks low to make himself a smaller target even as the two soldiers race forward themselves, special forces M4's chattering away on full auto, sending both .556 shells toward the fleeing Knight, and sending casings spraying out the side in rapid succession, the gunfire a stacato constant as the two advance firing.

The trio weave and duck, but even then, a bullet grazes Takeo's /uninjured/ arm drawing a new line of blood, and his right leg. Sparkles herself gets a few grazes, the horse hissing at each one. Oh she'll remember this, and then there will be magical warhorse HELL to pay for marring her beautiful fur. I mean. Do you know how long she has to groom to keep this coat? Human savages.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Steven looks around for any possible way out that does not involve soldiers, though that in itself is impossible. Was worth a shot. They boy almost seems to start panicking, though seems to settle down when the targets the soldiers seem to be after isn't him. Still, there definitely could be complications if he is subjected to the blood test.

The boy seems to close in on a television provided to watch the announcement. The girl making the announcements looks important, as well as held at gunpoint, most likely forced to speak on their behalf.

And then someone hijacks the signal, as golden light gleams through the windows. "Who is that now?" Steven asks aloud; surely someone will know. How are they doing that? And what does she mean by magical? Like people who have powers, like him?

"Um... This sounds way more serious than I thought..."

<Pose Tracker> Honoka Yukishiro [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGuTkrsVoFw

Alyssa sounds genuinely regretful, in a sort of distant, refined way, as she continues, after a pause for reflection:

"Unfortunately, I don't have time to convince you of the righteousness of my cause."

Well, that's ominous.

She continues: "The girls named by the Student Council, and others hiding among you, have another name -- they are called HiME, wielders of an ancient power, inheritors of an ancient contract. They are innocents in this, and should they be surrendered to me, I promise they will not be harmed. I request their presence and cooperation to avert a disaster of planetary scope."

Her little sigh is almost cute, the frustrated huff of a kid who hasn't hit double digits yet. Her voice remains primly insistent.

"WITHOUT their cooperation, the actions I can take to avert this disaster are very limited. However, I believe I can clarify everyone's value judgements swiftly and decisively."

And then it comes again, not through cell phone screens or classroom projectors, but from the sky, that symphony of golden light that comes from a higher place, a higher authority, than even the ivory Chairman's Tower. It feels forbidden to the retinas, wrong, scathing and searing. It's beautiful, too, the sort of otherworldly loveliness that burns the throat with held breath, that inspires awe and fear all in one fell swoop.

The pillar of golden energy punches through the sky with all the force of an atomic bomb, power that was made, not born. It rends the evening clouds with its passage, and it's easy, so easy, to see how it destroyed the bridge last night.

But it isn't aiming for that piece of slagged metal and concrete anymore.


It impacts the forests around Ohtori Academy (specifically the forest to its east, which encroaches greenly up a nearby hill that is generously called a mountain by some), sending up a blinding white flash, then spreading outwards in all directions, gaining color rapidly, the reds and oranges of total annihilation. The damage is instantaneous and immense; were this a silly game with silly swords and sorcery, she might have cast 'Transform Forest Into Hellscape.'

But it's not a silly game. The forest -- and a solid chunk of that little mountain -- are just... gone. All that's left is blackened earth, and fire.

A lot of fire.

Fire that is in no immediate danger of threatening the school, but is in very immediate danger of consuming the rest of the forest, and with it, the only above-ground cover that there is to hide in.

Also lots of natural beauty, does with their fawns, flowers common and rare, majestic trees... though that scar on Southern Cross Island will take decades to heal, if it ever does. What has occurred just now is more final and more terrible than the destruction of a bridge, which only takes a little bit of engineering and a lot of money to repair. Money can't fix this. Maybe nothing can.

After politely giving everyone a moment to properly take in the view -- the student population may not be privy to the discussion but nothing can hide the explosion, and soldiers are shouting to get down, under the desks -- Alyssa addresses her magical audience once more.

"Witness the power of my Child, Artemis. I'm a humanitarian -- I would prefer the HiME alive, and everyone unharmed. But, I can accomplish my goals with them dead -- and with the entire world at stake, I /will/ see my task done."

"If the HiME are not surrendered to me within thirty-six hours, Artemis' next shot will vaporize Ohtori Academy... and the entire population of the Sister Schools."

She bows politely, while sick gray smoke rises up from the forest to blot out the moon.

Then the transmission cuts back to Nanami Kiryuu, who is red in the face from a tirade that has probably gone on this entire time, only interrupted in the last few seconds by the golden detonation.

Nanami only has a few seconds with the mic before it's roughly pulled from her and the transmission ends, but she screams, piercingly yet passionately, "DON'T LET THEM GET AWAY WITH THIS!"

OOC: Fortunately, everyone out in the forests was not in the targeted area. It's decision time! There are lots of actions you could take but the one that demands immediate urgency is whether or not to try to put out the fire, which is threatening your hiding places (and the hiding places of other escapees, some of which may be civilians). You could let it burn unhindered; it will be harder, later, to approach the school unseen, and any hope of finding food outside of raiding the school will disappear. Or you can go try to put it out (with magic, obviously).

<Pose Tracker> Sachiko Majime [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sachiko grins somewhat maniacally at her compatriot. "Who cares if it will be easy or not? I'm not the kind of girl whose going to wait around for something to happen. I'm going to cause something -to- happen." The bloodthirtsty Puella Magi crosses her arms, turns her orange eyes upon Nori and nods her head upwards. "So what kind of girl are you?" She asks simply before glancing back down at her cellphone, arms still crossed defiantly.

The not so distant sound of gunfire turns the 'boring' forest into a much more lively one. "Looks like the party is already starting without us." She then takes one arm and jabs a thumb over her shoulder. "Wanna go check it out? We just might find the soldiers we need." Sachiko then grins mischieviously at Nori.....again. "Or we could always head for campus proper and see what trouble we can really get into?"

It becomes quite clear just what sort of girl Alyssa is when she ANNIHILATES a section of forest with her 'child'. Sachiko looks over at the direction of the forest, at Nori, and then towards the school. "Hey this could be our chance! Everyone's attention will be on the fire which will make things easier for us. My plan could work." It appears that Sachiko is very adamant about making her choice quite obvious.

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

"'Terrorists' ... right," murmurs Fuu in the aftermath of the orbital strike on the forest itself. She's seen what Mai and Mikoto are capable of, and neither of them - well, Alyssa as good as *confessed* to being responsible for taking out the bridge on the night of the ball, didn't she? She doesn't even need to ask if Mai-san is a terrorist sympathizer now, which is kind of a relief.

But only kind of. With the transmissions ended - both Alyssa's and Nanami's (and Fuu is rather curious what Nanami-san had to say while Alyssa-san was interrupting her) - Fuu simply turns her phone back off, slips it into its carrying case, and tucks the case into her glove-jewel.

She's actually been wearing that item *consistently* since she had to go on the run, and it's saved her a lot of trouble. "Hikaru-san, how well can you manage a firebreak with your magic? We have to contain this as best we're able, and I hope we're not the only ones who can pitch in ... Belief becomes power; winds, guide me!!"

One short-lived whirlwind later, the Magic Knight of Wind is charging towards the blast zone, getting ready to start using her wind magic to contain the flames - which is about the most she can do. While the idea of blowing colder winds across the flames to put them out is an appealing one, she'd need VERY cold winds - and probably additional help - to ensure that she does anything more than channel fresh oxygen onto the flames. Which is ... y'know ... kind of the LAST thing she wants to do; the fire needs to be put out, not fanned.

Maybe her magic won't do any good after all, She has to *try*, though - and to gamble on her Magic Knight form giving her a chance to do something without somebody being able to identify her for the soldiers to pick up again.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Magic Knight!
COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou transforms into Magic Knight of Fire!
<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Terrorism? Hikaru isn't surprised, but she isn't happy either. In fact, this revelation has made her even angrier. She grits her teeth and clenches her fists, before something inside her tells her to cool it and remember what she's supposed to do when things get a bit too extreme. Just like Fuu-chan, Hikaru's got her glove-jewel with her as well. Unlike Fuu-chan, Hikaru kept it in her pocket just to be safe, and it's a good thing it's safe too. Because it's time now for a little fiery action from the Fire Knight herself! She slips on the glove-jewel and begins the incantation. "Belief becomes power; flames, guide me!"

A quick fiery show later, the Fire Knight is nodding to the Wind Knight to acknowledge her question. "Don't worry, Fuu-chan! I've got this made!" Indeed, a firebreak shouldn't be too difficult to do if the magic is performed just right. Knowing just how much she needs to use without overdoing it is the key. She looks around and gauges the general situation before casting a small fire spell at the ground, attempting to create a makeshift firebreak. "We may be without our Water Knight, but even then we can still triumph!"

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Lera expected it to be something bad. The conversation with Fate suggested as much; the idea that the story Golden Age gave didn't add up. She did not, however, expect this. An orbital cannon...

She frowns, biting her lip. She gets under the desk when the soldiers order her to, but her eyes are on the screen. She feels the shockwave roll through; she feels the desk rattle and shake. Her lips purse, as she thinks about that offer. She might have had her differences with Mai Tokiha...

...but she thinks about that dance and how happy she looked. <Hey, Endo-san. I'm... gonna get out of here. If you wanna keep your head down, make sure you do. If not, uh. Get ready. I'm breaking the window at two o'clock.>

Then she closes her eyes and mutters under her breath. Broken Ground's call is issued only telepathically: <Get set.>

The flash is muted, with Lera hidden underneath her desk. She pulls the hammer in close to her -- and then she focuses. A bolt of light erupts from the Intelligent Device, right for the window -- but at the same time, she shapes that energy blast to blow out a massive rush of sparks, motes of light, and magical dust. It looks a little like something from the explosion ripped through the window, filling the room with debris.

In the middle of that, Lera flies off; she knocks the desk over, and shoots straight for the broken window.

COMBAT: Lera Camry transforms into Barrier Jacket Aphelion!
<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Mai-HiME - Yamiyo no Prologue - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN8--tpfe6Q

Even in the depths of shock, and horror, and rage...Mai lets out a snort at Natsuki's sass. "Yeah, this is way beyong the pot calling the kettle black." She takes a breath, relaxing at Natsuki's shoulder pat. "...yeah. Hard to imagine this getting much worse...and my reputation with certain magical girls has been in the garbage since the refinery. You don't need to tell me twice..."

Mai trails off as Alyssa speaks up. Her gaze hardens at that semblance of regret - "Like you get to say that. I really thought you needed protecting, you little-"

The sky blazes gold, once again. Dusk turns to the brightest of daylight, shining with golden light in the province of gods. And then- catastrophe. Mai can only stand in mute horror as Artemis surpasses even Kagutsuchi's previous fury, over a year ago, and lays flaming waste to the grounds to Ohtori's east.

Close to them. Terrifyingly close. But now...an inferno rages before them, even as Alyssa's words continue. Finally, though - finally, a true threat, one chilling enough to tear her away from her look of horror.

Not for the better - distinctly for the worse. "Takumi...Takumi! And - and..." She whirls around, looking at Natsuki and Mikoto both in horror. "She wouldn't - someone that young wouldn't...."

She can't even finish the sentence. Eyes screwed shut, she turns her head away. For a moment, she's silent....and behind her, around the crater that was once a lavish forest, an infernal roar rises up. Far worse than back then, and with no hope of it being stopped...

"I can't ignore this. I can't just...let everything burn down, not without even trying..." Her eyes open, and she crouches slightly to look Mikoto in the eyes, hands on the dark-haired girl's shoulders. "...I'm going to try to do something about this, Mikoto. I can't let this fire just destroy the entire forest...if you want to help, try clearing out the trees the fire's about to burn. That might..." She shakes her head. "Keep yourself safe. I'll...try to get back to you."

She rises, and turns to Natsuki. Hesitates, then claps her on the shoulder. "...you be careful too. At this rate, we might not have much choice, but...I can't bear the thought of just letting this girl get what she wants."

Then, she turns, and runs towards the flames. Even above the inferno's bellow, her voice rings out - desperation and fury in a single word.


A sight to behold, for those who dare approach the site of disaster. Blaze above blaze, fiery wings spread wide across one side of the aftermath of Artemis's wrath. White and green and an embodiment of terrific fury, Kagutsuchi has risen above the inferno, tail lashing through the smoke.

Upon one claw stands a figure in an Ohtori school uniform - the now-infamous Mai Tokiha, hair as orange as the flames themselves, backlit by disaster. Whoever might approach...her gaze is nearly cold, and not a word of greeting does she utter.

And around HiME and child, the fire dances - Kagutsuchi drawing in a lengthly, terrible breath, one that gathers the inferno to him to consume. Can a dragon devour a firestorm like this?...

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

Nori says, echoing Sachiko, "What kind of girl am I...?" She seems to be fascinated by the question, or distracted. She looks towards Sachiko then. Alyssa, of course, makes her contribution -- and the sudden screaming howl of unnaturally golden fire into the woods behind them ripples out, like the war come home. Nori stares in that direction.

Something comes out of the woods. Several small shapes bound past Nori, towards the area that's safer, perhaps. One other shape comes /towards/ Nori, towards the fire - and looks at Sachiko.

"Majime-san," Nori says as her hand slides into that little tote bag, "I can't do that just yet. Before I let myself do a thing like that... I have to satisfy the feelings of duty inside of me. Please understand," she says as she draws a jeweled lantern out of the bag. "I am in desperate straits." And then she runs forwards.

The shape stands on its hind legs, looking at Sachiko for a moment. It's an otter - he's wearing a bow tie.

It must be Nori speaking, right? Someone, at least, says, "And if you can help, I can promise you you will be rewarded, richly, in time."

Something glows in the woods...

... and la Sirene du Nord spirals through black and silver and blue to land on her feet, nails perfect, cap in place, only feeling a bit of soreness in her belly now as she straightens up. She takes a deep breath, lets it out, and thumps her chest once. Confidence is in her. "If the skies themselves should scream 'death,'" la Sirene says, "then I will stand against them!"

Her hand raises upwards as she strides forwards. The eye of the Brazen Pharos opens, casting deep shadow into the spreading light. It may do the animals no good, though it may save the confused ones from running back INTO the flames... but what will it do to a burning tree? La Sirene has no idea, but she's breathing deep and gathering herself. Whether it will work or not, she has no idea, but perhaps a storm will damp this wrath.

She does startle momentarily when she sees the vast shape of Kagutsuchi in the air above. But she forces herself to be calm. Surely - surely this will be alright.

COMBAT: Nori Ankou transforms into La Sirene du Nord!
<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The heat wave washes over them in an instant eye tearing moment, and Sparkles rears, to stop plunging in THAT direction. Takeo blinks away the tears from the sudden and blistering heat, However while the horse paws the air Takeo spots a familiar shape.


Dragon means Mai.

Which means she's safe .... Ish....

He turns Sparkles and rides toward that Dragon, low on Sparkles, his left arm red in a coat of blood. He tries not to wince with every jarring motion of the horse, but he isn't transforming. Not yet. It's not like a Lightning Knight cna really DO anything about a firestorm or things nuking the area from Orbit.

Merlin pokes his bunny head out of Takeo's breast pocket and BLINKS hard. "Why are we going toward the Dragon? I mean. I know that Dragon. Going toward that Dragon is BAD. Takeo? Are you listneing to me?"

"Tohika-San is friends wiht that Dragon."


That means she's there. With the Dragon. She summoned him."

"Oh my beard .... This isn't another Guineviere thing is it?"

There is a long silence as he rides toward that dragon. "We're short on a Camelot, so I think we're safe."

The bunny facepalms. "But she's friends with a //dragon?// This is going to end poorly..."

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha transforms into Mai and Kagutsuchi!
COMBAT: Lera Camry has fully healed herself.
<Pose Tracker> Natsuki Kuga [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Natsuki can't believe her eyes. She jinxed it when she said things couldn't get worse. She really did. Her fists tightened and then the nightmare gets worse as she watches the golden light beam down and consume the forest within the fire.

She looks to Mai, curious on what her friend would do now. They could hide, but she knew how much responsibilty she always lifted onto her shoulders...and how much Natsuki did herself.

Feeling the hand on her shoulder, Natsuki gives it a gentle squeeze. "I'll try to help the kid out and get a path cleared for you," her eyes hardened. "You better come back Tokiha, I won't forgive you if you don't."

She silent as she watches Mai summon her child and fly off on Kagutsuchi.

She turns to Mikoto. "Let's do our part then." Natsuki turns her attention to the fire as if her icy stare could cool it it down.

"DURAN!" She called out and her wolf child appeared next to her. Natsuki pointed straight at the trees. "Shoot as many freezing bullets as you got!" Duran howled as it load it's carriages and shot directly into the fire.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Alyssa speaks of their ancient contract, and Mikoto's other hand comes up to clutch her necklace, hidden in the ruffly neckline of her dress. They're innocent, she says; she needs them to avert disaster. It might have almost convinced someone less suspicious than the scion of the Minagi clan -

If not for what comes next.

Mikoto looks up, only to turn away and shield her eyes as the light comes closer, closer, crashing down with meteoric force. She staggers and falls as the shockwaves brutally tear past them, unable to even stand against such an assault. But it's not close enough, not on top of them, and so Mikoto scrambles up only to see smoke pouring from the sky. Her sensitive nose can smell the smoke and devastation already, and her heart hammers in her chest as she takes a step back. "Mai! Natsuki!" She barks, alarmed. "Fire!"

Even as the smoke rises, Alyssa's words echo in her mind.

They can't blow up Ohtori, they CAN'T blow up Ohtori, her Lord Brother is here, he's /waiting/ for her, she still has to /find/ him, they can't blow it up they can't they can't they can't can't can't can't --

It really /can't/ get any worse, Natsuki.

And now, they face an inferno. She would fight any enemy, but this was caused by an enemy she cannot touch, and natural elements cannot be fought like foes can. Her muscles are taut and her chest heaves with shallow breath and she wants to /run/, to find Alyssa and /destroy her/ and leave the forest to its fate, but Mai will not, Mai does not, Mai /cannot/ -- and Mikoto cannot leave Mai, she knows that as soon as Mai gives her speech. She looks to her room-mate and nods, pulling her case forward to pull Miroku out. "Mai, be safe," she says, a sad edge to her voice which hints at how worried she is for her.

After Mai, Mikoto runs /toward/ the smoke, no matter what her instincts say about her self-preservation. She stops before she reaches the flames, and with all the desperation and determination of a shieldmaiden pledged she slams her obsidian blade into the ground, screaming.


From the blade erupt a thousand obsidian spikes, the ground bulging and buckling against some unseen being beneath the ground. Trees fall, rocks shatter - if any creatures have yet to flee, they surely die. The spines grind across the earth, and in the wake of their destruction they form a lengthy trench of fallen trees and upturned earth.

Whatever it was which held those spines, after a long moment, a great oak pierced on one of those gigantic spikes, they fall back into the earth and disappear.

The pierced trees fall.

The unseen Miroku's work is done.

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo doesn't move much, his hands cradling his chin as he watches the broadcast. Up until things that getting a little more ominous. He casts clandestine glances over at Lera from time to time, up until Alyssa makes her demonstration.

The boy jumps a bit on his seat at the sound, pushing up and turning his head toward the nearest window. His hands are soon clapped over his ears, the boy wincing as the sound rises to its crescendo and the impact of the weapon fired by the satellite-or whatever it is-shakes the whole island. His eyes are wide, mouth agape.

Fallen Stern expresses the situation more eloquently: <IMPRESSIVE.>

<Lera-san! Be careful!> Endo fidgets, glancing at his classmates, and then ducking low when the Lera-like streak goes shooting through the window. He's torn between following and staying to keep his classmates safe. But, after a second of thought, he decides whoever was outside for whatever that was probably needs more help than anyone inside. Endo too finds a place to crouch, muttering, "Fine," He grumbles to the ring he keeps tucked away, "You were right." Those seem to be the magic words. There's a flash of purple light, and then Endo Naoki, Belkan(ish) Knight rises from cover.

To be shot at. There's barely time for him to duck down behind his Device, the oversized weapon providing a decent shield to both him and anyone behind as he scurries toward the window. He's down on the lawn with a leap, and then bounding toward the place nearest the impact. There's a lot of stumbling and rolling, tank shells ripping apart the ground that he occasionally touches. His solution is to just mostly go forward, barreling past blockades, gritting teeth as bullets and explosions smash into the shield of purple light that Stern conjures up.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

"...HiME?" Steven repeats. "Prevent a disaster? Why don't they want to cooperate? There has to be more to this..."

And then the giant energy blasts dosues whatever doubts Steven had at these soldiers and guards were at being good. "Wowie! They took out a whole forest area! That isn't right!" The boy has some tears welling up, and a bottom lip pokes out for a second before being fought back.

This is obviously a bid for power, against these... HiME. "What can I do though?" Of course at about that time, something happens in the classroom. An explosion takes out a window, and someone rockets out of it like a bat out of hell! "What was that?!" The boy says aloud.

Before he can investigate or make a way out the window, guards are all over the room! The boy can only cower as they put the room on severe lockdown.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi transforms into HiME Mikoto!
<Pose Tracker> Sachiko Majime [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sachiko Majime places her hands behind her head, interlocking her fingers as she awaits Nori's response. When her classmate does reply, the softball star looks bewildered once more. "Feelings of duty?" She mimics back before placing her tongue against the roof of her mouth and clicking. But before she could ask Nori more about this, the girl was gone. "Wonderful. Just wonderful. I reach out to someone and they...hey..wa-what? Who-what are you?" Did that bow-tie wearing otter just address her and offer her a -reward-? It really was better to not think about these things too hard. "If I do help, it better be one sweet reward." She replies back as she looks between the blazing inferno and then towards the school where her ultimate destination and goal lies.

This was her chance to try to carry out her plan without anyone else noticing. But what were her chances of success by herself? Her attention drifts back towards where the fire grows and where Nori presumably lept off towards. Sachiko sighs deeply as she reaches down the front of her jacket and fetches her soul gem necklace. Orange eyes close as a similarly colored light sweeps over the form of Sachiko Majime. Her eyes soon reopen as Puella Magi Sachiko. "This seems like a huge waste of my time," grumbles the blonde magic girl as she lethargically steps forwards. "Eh, maybe, I can guilt trip Miss Duty into helping me afterwards." Sachiko succicntly smiles. "Yeah! That'll work!" With her newly found motivation, Sachiko begins to make her way towards the fire, one great leap at a time.

COMBAT: Sachiko Majime transforms into Puella Magi Sachiko!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki transforms into Barrier Jacket!
<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet continues marching past room after room, listening to the announcement, increasing the speed of her march as the voice becomes more and more threatening... "Here it is!" she says and stops in front of the classroom where Steven is being kept. The two guards look her over "Here is what?" one of them enquires. "Here is..." she starts, but is interrupted by the explosion of the forest in the distance. Garnet summons her gauntlets, and quickly smashes past the two exterior guards, hurling them to the ground on either side and bodyslams through the door, rushing into the room "Steven! We're going! NOW!" The interior guards raise their rifles to fire on her, and she takes a bullet in the shoulder, as she moves over to Steven to snatch him up and block the gunfire from hitting him!

<Pose Tracker> Honoka Yukishiro [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pbRDPI2qcE

The fire is massive and awful, almost a personification of sheer destruction. It stings eyes and nostrils and singes hair, it immediately and totally infiltrates the lungs. One moment, it is an encroaching line of agony at a swift march, as though this were an eighteenth-century battlefield; the next, a piece of the line has jumped a fire break and is flanking from another direction, roaring down the trench, and it's World War I.

But magical girls are a mighty force. They wield wind and fire, the very ingredients of this disaster, trying to turn it against itself. They bring darkness to bear -- another component of the mayhem, for it is nightfall and the forest that was all too dark and close, like an anonymous crowd, is now only three colors, black and red and gold. They bring monsters, to consume the very heart of the firestorm, to extinguish the edges with icy blasts, to rise up from below with hungry spikes.

Within moments the fire is contained, except when it isn't anymore. It strains against its would-be executioners in persistently dangerous ways. Clouds of embers, flame-flickers through the crowns of trees, crashing limbs and that ever insidious smoke. The smoke doesn't smell like firewood, like the coming of fall, the promise of roasted sweet potatoes. It has a distinctly meaty overtone to it, and metallic undertones. Who knows what -- or who -- was in that forest back when the blast first hit.

Those who've taken this opportunity to escape are pursued -- by bullets, by mortar rounds. The average magical girl is much faster than the average soldier, so it's not hard to outpace their perimeter, but every inch of the way there's another peril, so many that they cannot all be avoided; some must be endured.

It doesn't take long to make it to the edge of the firestorm, regardless. And there's plenty of fire still to go around.

It hungers, raw and consuming.

COMBAT: Garnet transforms into Garnet's Got Gauntlets!
COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro transforms into Youma Form Golden Age Soldiers!
<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose's attention is first stolen by the distant sound of glass breaking, followed by the sounds of bullets and other firepower. She looks briefly out the window in case bullets are attempting to enter the classroom, but otherwise she doesn't look very hard out the window. She turns away from the window to watch the little girl on TV. Despite everything the little girl says at first, Chitose is completely unprepared for what happens next, as the light from the laser comes down and makes everything explode. The sound rumbles through and the tall girl stumbles to keep her step as the shockwave passes. "What was that?" Chitose turns back around to look out the window to see... complete and utter devastation. Her jaw drops and her stomach feels like dropping. How can something like that do that much destruction with one shot?

Chitose mutters a question. "Can we... can we protect against something like that?"

White Omen's gives a dejected tone. <I don't know.>

Chitose takes a deep breath and looks at the window, gauging her chances of escape. She mulls the concept around in her head, along with the accompanying thought-sway of her head for a few moments.

She decides against it.

So she takes a seat on the far wall directly on the line of sight to the door to the hallway. This time, instead of closing her eyes and venting her extreme dismay in her mind, she watches the soldiers and their doings. "So, now I find myself somewhat confused." She mutters to herself. "Are these soldiers working for this girl?"

COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has fully healed herself. She is now ready to take on 13 opponents!
COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Real Guns on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Real Guns on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Real Guns on Garnet.
COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Real Guns on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Lera Camry narrowly braces Honoka Yukishiro's Real Guns, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry is Quipped!  Lera Camry's Block ability activates!  Lera Camry's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki narrowly counters Honoka Yukishiro's Real Guns, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Endo Naoki is Quipped!  Endo Naoki's Reverse ability activates!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki's counterattack, Asteroid Rush, partially gets through, doing 20 Fatigue damage to Honoka Yukishiro!  Critical Counterhit!
COMBAT: Garnet narrowly dodges Honoka Yukishiro's Real Guns, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Garnet is Quipped!  Garnet's Fade ability activates!  Garnet's Flash ability activates!
Miyu Greer walks over from Yamanote High City.
Miyu Greer has arrived.
COMBAT: Garnet covers Steven Universe for Honoka Yukishiro's attack, Real Guns, taking it upon themselves instead!
COMBAT: Garnet narrowly braces Honoka Yukishiro's Real Guns, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Garnet is Quipped!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"They don't mess around, huh!?" Lera shouts over her shoulder to Endo, as she bobs between two streams of assault rifle fire. Using Broken Ground, she isn't the flier that she is with Soaring Sky's spells. However, he brings two things to the fold. The first is defensive spells. When a mortar comes down, a shimmering barrier of green light appears. A few more shots, however, clip close to her and leave sparks flying from the smaller shields that intercept them.

The mortar round hits it, then bounces into the air above the two mages. It explodes in a fireball then, well over their heads. Lera takes a deep breath. "Thanks, Ground."

<I told you. They're not nice people.>

"No argument! I just--I don't... why are they doing this? Why regular people?"

<Remember Jaren?> the Device asks. Lera tenses at the response -- then she frowns, and glances down at the ground. She sighs, then, and lifts back into the air. She has to try to push that thought out of her head, if she wants to fight a forest fire.

She soars up -- she flies up next to Kagutsuchi and Mai; Lera turns to look at her and flashes a brief grin. "Hey, you're on TV, Tokiha!" she calls out with a wink. Then, she looks down, straight at the ground. She chose Broken Ground today for another reason.

He can shake up the very earth. She slams the hammerhead down, as energy gathers around it, and several bolts of light fly off it. They strike the earth -- and send a wave of smothering dirt and rock out into the fire as it threatens to spread.

Soaring Sky speaks, this time. <I wouldn't be surprised if they give chase!> the Device yells. <We better stay alert!>

<Pose Tracker> Miyu Greer [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1pRdJXvScM

Stumbling through the blazing forest, a boy stops to hold his sleeve over his mouth. His tanned face is brown with ash and dirt, and he coughs roughly as he tries to draw a clean breath through the smoke. Lifting his watering eyes, he sees a girl standing with her hands at her sides, white hair wafting in the heat, her face tilted towards the sky. Even as a tree next to her buckles and sags from the flames at its base, she does not so much as shift a muscle.

"Greer-san?" the boy asks himself in wonder. "Greer-san! Hey!" Bamboo shinai bouncing around in a case on his back, he rushes between flaming bushes to reach her. "Greer-san! We need to get out of here, come on! You'll die from the smoke at this rate!"

Miyu does not look at the boy, her eyes still on the dragon as it inhales in the sky. "Masashi Takeda," she says. "You are outside of your assigned containment area."

"Well, yeah," Masashi retorts, wide-eyed behind his sleeve. "So are you. To hell with those bastards, right?"

"Just the opposite," Miyu says. Eyes still on Kagutsuchi, her arm snaps out like a piston, her palm striking Masashi's chest hard enough to loosen ribs, both on initial impact and when it drives him unconscious against a nearby tree trunk. Unconcerned with his fate, Miyu strides for the treeline at the edge of a ravine, walking without interruption through the blazing fireball of a bonfire that blocks her.

Her body becomes a black silhouette in the flame, her Ohtori high school uniform burning away rapidly in shreds and peeling into ash. When she steps out the other side, she is girded instead in a dark purple battlesuit, with tasselled skirt and boots, and her eyes seem to have taken on some aspect of the flame, twin searing points of red in the dark. As she reaches the edge, her arm splits neatly and the silvery metal skeleton beneath swivels into a thin, bulbous energy weapon. Lifting her arm as the crystalline capacitor begins to glow and whine, Miyu doesn't even flinch as she releases a churning, crackling ball of energy into the sky, to be sucked up by Kagutsuchi along with the flames he sought.

Cooly, Miyu lowers her arm and lets it rotate again until it bristles with four grooved barrels, which spin up as she finds her first target: Mikoto Minagi. Without hesitation or emotion, she sends a withering hail of fire at the ferocious little swordswoman. As targets present themselves she switches to them rapidly, unloading at Takeo as he approaches Kagutsuchi, at la Sirene as she calls a storm, at the Magic Knights Fuu and Hikaru as they attempt to undo what her Alyssa has wrought with their respective elements.

She changes angles easily, the minigun spinning continuously even when there's a fractional pause for her to snap into a different firing position. Sachiko is led with a vigorous fusillade as she tries to move toward the flame. Duran's ice soon draws retaliation as well, the yellow tracer rounds ripping gashes in the night sky. She's clearly firing at anything that moves, however. If a civilian tries to make a break for it...

COMBAT: Miyu Greer has used Ionic Pulse on Mai Tokiha.
COMBAT: Miyu Greer has used Scarlet Mode: Minigun on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Miyu Greer has used Scarlet Mode: Minigun on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Miyu Greer has used Scarlet Mode: Minigun on Hikaru Shidou.
COMBAT: Natsuki Kuga transforms into Natsuki and Duran!
COMBAT: Miyu Greer has used Scarlet Mode: Minigun on Natsuki Kuga.
COMBAT: Miyu Greer has used Scarlet Mode: Minigun on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Miyu Greer has used Scarlet Mode: Minigun on Sachiko Majime.
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

As guards close in, Steven worries about what will become of everything. The events seem to point towards a terrible end, though hope always remains. Guards close in, holding him at gunpoint. The boy doesn't move a muscle, holding completely still. Steven closes his eyes. He expects to be tackled to the floor.

It does not happen.

Instead, Steven opens his eyes to a familair sight having taken down the guards holding him in place. "Garnet!" Steven exclaims, and immediately runs at her, hugging her. "Garnet, they are hunting magical people down! We got to do something!" he quickly says, summoning a shield to assist guarding themselves. "I think my shield can block bullets, but we have to be careful!"

"Quick, over there!" Steven says, pointing toward the window Lera took out. "We can get out that way!" He pauses and talks again in a moment. "I am so happy to see you..."

COMBAT: Steven Universe transforms into Steven Quartz Universe!
COMBAT: Miyu Greer has used Scarlet Mode: Minigun on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Lancelot narrowly dodges Miyu Greer's Scarlet Mode: Minigun, taking 35 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi fails to dodge Miyu Greer's Scarlet Mode: Minigun, taking 30 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Natsuki Kuga perfectly dodges Miyu Greer's Scarlet Mode: Minigun, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Natsuki Kuga's Fade ability activates!  Natsuki Kuga's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji perfectly dodges Miyu Greer's Scarlet Mode: Minigun, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Fuu Hououji's Fade ability activates!  Fuu Hououji's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord narrowly braces Miyu Greer's Scarlet Mode: Minigun, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene du Nord's Block ability activates!  La Sirene du Nord's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha narrowly braces Miyu Greer's Ionic Pulse, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Mai Tokiha's Block ability activates!  Mai Tokiha's Parry ability activates!  Stagger, Stun, and Trap applied to Mai Tokiha!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Suddenly Bullets. Again. "I've had ENOUGH OF THIS!" Takeo calls out as Sparkles rides through the tree's. "I SWEAR TO DEFEND THE INNOCENT!" He cries heavenward.

A veritible apacolypse of lightning descends form the ehavens and slams into Takeo and Sparkles. Each bolt becoming a piece of armor. Mid transformation, he rears and holds out a hand, a bolt is caught and it becomes the blazing white blade Arondight.

The blade is pointed toward Miyu. "YOU!" He calls out in a dark and angry voice. "Yeah, You! Bad movie prop reject!" He then charges forward on Sparkles, who lowers her head and snorts. Merlin jsut sort of hangs on for dear Bunny Life as Lancelot cries out, "LIGHTNING!"

He rides past Miyu, slashing the blade in a crackling arc of lightning that leaves black and scorched trails in the grass, "SLASH!" And one loud thunderous BOOM that echoes over the forest and grounds.

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Lightning Slash on Miyu Greer.
COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou fails to dodge Miyu Greer's Scarlet Mode: Minigun, taking 51 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
<Pose Tracker> Natsuki Kuga [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The flames are hot, but Natsuki does her best to bare it as Duran attempts to dose the fire with ice. Suddenly, a figure appears in the flames and bullets fly straight towards her.

Natsuki dodges and just misses being hit by the bullet. It was almost like watching a ballerina if the chance of mishap was so deadly. Natsuki collects herself as the bullets die down and then curses as she sees the shooter.

It was Miyu. Talk about being out of the frying pan and into the fire. Not wasting a second, Natsuki jumps onto Duran.

"Get us out of here!"

Duran howls as he shifts into a motorcycle and starts to drive away. Natsuki reaches out and grabs Mikoto as they race by. "Hang on!" Natsuki yells as she pulls her on Duran. "Mai wouldn't forgive me if I left you behind!"

COMBAT: Sachiko Majime fails to dodge Miyu Greer's Scarlet Mode: Minigun, taking 32 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

"They're all too much!" Endo shouts in agreement to the other mage.

Endo, thankfully, is very good at going forward. It's not the easiest thing he's done, barrier jacket taking several rounds of gunfire that make it past the shield, but he goes forth. He keeps his head low as he follows after Lera, letting her lead. Of course where she goes around, he just goes through. Fallen Stern cleaves through a mortar shell, half of a tank, and sends a few soldiers scattering aside as the knight rockets forward.

"Stern, can you put out a fire!?"


"That started the fire! Do you have any other ideas?" <NO.>

"Hey--Lera-san, I'll cover the rear!" Hopefully he'll think of a plan by the time he gets there. Or find a bucket.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet take a precious half-moment to accept and return Steven's hug. She nods at his suggestion, grabs him, holds him close, but gives his shield enough room to cover their backs and jumps out of the window! The guards fire at them from the classroom window as Garnet lands, then launches them both away across the schoolyard towards the fore... Well... where the forest used to be. Time to find a new hiding place. She avoids the spots with flames and continues to leap away trying to get beyond the reach of the pursuant gunfire before she takes new stock of the situation.

COMBAT: Miyu Greer perfectly dodges Lancelot's Lightning Slash, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Miyu Greer's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mikoto pulls the heated Miroku from the ground, and amongst the clatter of falling trees and the crackle of fire, she hears the whine of something else.

A weapon.

She barely has a moment to react, and it just isn't enough time; Mikoto tries to run, and the minigun catches up to her with a machine's efficiency, scoring the side of her hip. She falls, heat of the air prickling at her skin. She's lucky the android has other targets to focus on, but she only has a moment to try and push herself up and-

And get grabbed by Natsuki as she and Duran race past.

"Aaaa--!" Mikoto screams, desperately holding onto her sword as she suddenly finds the world whipping past her at high speed. It's not a dignified exit, but it certainly is effective!

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

If ever there were something to give Mai pause before rushing into danger, it would be that sad plea from Mikoto. Perhaps for a moment, she did pause...but there was duty to be upheld.

And so here she stands, cold eyes surveying the inferno. Behind her, Kagutsuchi lets out a keening cry as that mighty inhalation continues. Parts of the fire are guttering out as even the logs they were devouring are in turn consumed by the mighty dragon's force...

And yet. It's not enough to stop the whole of the firestorm. Not alone.

Mai isn't alone. For one, there's the welcome cavalcade of obsidian, the continuous barrage of ice, the sign that her fellow HiME are lending a hand. And there's others - darkness consuming one corner, a windstorm fighting against another, more and more attempts to fight against the flames. ...but from the HiME of fire, there is only stern concern. Watching cautiously, paranoia lurking at her back.

A figure appears in the air near her, and Mai's stoic stance is briefly broken by her yelp of surprise. Kagutsuchi snarls in warning, and Mai shakes her head, holds her hand to deter the dragon. Her voice speaks out, sounding detached, almost wondrous. "Camry..." She takes a breath, and her voice turns stern. "I can't imagine this makes me sound any better. But...I'm not letting this happen. Too many people I care about..."

There's a light in the darkness - a crackling ball of some strange power. It swirls into the firestorm, into the vortex of Kagutsuchi's hunger, and the dragon devours the light entirely...

And -then- it explodes, and Kagutsuchi lets out a screech of pain - fire erupting from his maw uncontrolled, blazing up into the sky as a burning pillar. Whatever might have been above them is surely burnt away to nothing...but at least that was hopefully empty air.

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

"Half your weight in silver," Batiste proposes as he scampers forwards. It seems he didn't quite spot out Sachiko there. "We will have to discuss delivery! But! Later!" He's a little out of breath, as he is a riparian mammal, and not optimized for the forest.

La Sirene du Nord is a lot more friendly to an arboreal environment. She takes in a deep breath and her nose wrinkles in disgust at that smell of sere rot in the fire, instead of any of the hopeful airs that flame can bring. She tosses her hair back as darkness and a sudden squall of rain that isn't quite of this world falls upon the flames.

Thunder rolls. Well, not exactly thunder...

The tree above her suffers a sudden and rather lethal case of lead poisoning as the walked-across firing solution of the Murderous Intelligence Yielding Ultimatums's lethal vision. This gives her enough of a moment to crouch even as she's showered in splinters and the tree itself creaks in dismay, a large branch smashing downwards to wing her in her shoulder.

Batiste catches up to her, thankfully hidden in underbrush. "She has a Maxim gun!?" he squeaks in dismay. This may date certain things, but la Sirene at least understands what he means. Frozen, she stares ahead. But when Miyu shoots more hot lead at some other targets, she gets what could be called a theory if she was doing more than thinking fast in the moment.

La Sirene raises the Pharos and triggers it. A shadow flickers out, huge motion cast against the darkness and the flames there, a sudden figure distorted a dozen different ways. Will Miyu be fooled? Hopefully!

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Brockenspectre on Miyu Greer.
COMBAT: Miyu Greer narrowly braces La Sirene du Nord's Brockenspectre, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene du Nord is Psyched!  Diversion applied to Miyu Greer!
<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

If ever there were something to give Mai pause before rushing into danger, it would be that sad plea from Mikoto. Perhaps for a moment, she did pause...but there was duty to be upheld.

And so here she stands, cold eyes surveying the inferno. Behind her, Kagutsuchi lets out a keening cry as that mighty inhalation continues. Parts of the fire are guttering out as even the logs they were devouring are in turn consumed by the mighty dragon's force...

And yet. It's not enough to stop the whole of the firestorm. Not alone.

Mai isn't alone. For one, there's the welcome cavalcade of obsidian, the continuous barrage of ice, the sign that her fellow HiME are lending a hand. And there's others - darkness consuming one corner, a windstorm fighting against another, more and more attempts to fight against the flames. ...but from the HiME of fire, there is only stern concern. Watching cautiously, paranoia lurking at her back.

A figure appears in the air near her, and Mai's stoic stance is briefly broken by her yelp of surprise. Kagutsuchi snarls in warning, and Mai shakes her head, holds her hand to deter the dragon. Her voice speaks out, sounding detached, almost wondrous. "Camry..." She takes a breath, and her voice turns stern. "I can't imagine this makes me sound any better. But...I'm not letting this happen. Too many people I care about..."

There's a light in the darkness - a crackling ball of some strange power. It swirls into the firestorm, into the vortex of Kagutsuchi's hunger, and the dragon devours the light entirely...

And -then- it explodes, and Kagutsuchi lets out a screech of pain - fire erupting from his maw uncontrolled, blazing up into the sky as a burning pillar. Whatever might have been above them is surely burnt away to nothing...but at least that was hopefully empty air.

"Kagutsuchi!" Mai whirls around, looking up at her Child - the mighty embodiment of fire shaking its head in obvious pain. The dragon coughs out smoke, coughs out flame - and then snarls, locking its many-eyed gaze with something down in the forest below. "What happened - what's wrong? Why are you..."

She turns, slowly. Looks into the smoke-filled darkness below, looks into the fire...and if anyone is looking to the HiME, they can see her face turn ashen. "Miyu..."

As the sounds of gunfire fill the air - as Lancelot comes charging in, and the battle against the terrifying girl begins...Mai is deathly still on Kagutsuchi's claw. The matter seems settled when the dragon lashes its tail in pained fury, letting out an ear-splitting screech of challenge to the girl...but Mai, herself, turns to plant a hand on the dragon's chest with protective force. "No, don't! We can't...if we fight her here, it'll only make things worse!"

She turns, and yells out as loudly as she can - voice nearly cracking from the strain. "Lancelot! Everyone! Don't try to fight her - just get out of here!" A glance, to the woods, to see if Mikoto is charging in...

And reassured by sight of two HiME riding off on a mechanical wolf, Mai and Kagutsuchi take flight. With great wingbeats, Kagutsuchi rises dozens of meters in seconds - and with a furious cry and lashing of his tail, the dragon soars far, far away from the battle against the flame.

Faced with a single mysterious girl, Mai and her dragon flee.

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

Well, the Wind Knight didn't expect that battling the blaze would be easy, so she's hardly surprised when it's anything but. The arrival of so many allies is a welcome sight; La Sirene du Nord is perhaps one of those best suited to tackling the inferno out of those who are there, but even Mai and her mighty companion Kagutsuchi are a welcome sight.

But just when the raging fire MIGHT be under control, they come under attack from a different quarter entirely. "What - ?!" exclaims the Magic Knight of Wind, dodging the volley of bullets more by reflex than by conscious decision; then she takes a second look in the direction those shots came from, noticing along the way that not all of her allies have been so fortunate.

"We literally do not have time for this, whoever you are!" the Wind Knight calls out to the unrecognized Miyu. "Either help put the fire out -"

Whatever she is - and a part of Fuu can't help but think of Xenosaga, for some reason - she or it (or he, unlikely as that looks) clearly isn't listening. "WINDS OF ADMONISHENT!!" the Wind Knight calls out, attempting to entrap the gun-armed gynoid in an immobilizing whirlwind - and if that very same whirlwind helps stop a piece of the fire from spreading, all the better. Maybe it'll take some of the violence out of her, but fighting the fire really DOES come first. They can't put the fire the rest of the way out while they're being shot at, though.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Admonishment on Miyu Greer.
COMBAT: Miyu Greer narrowly counters Fuu Hououji's Winds of Admonishment, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji is Psyched!
COMBAT: Miyu Greer's counterattack, Scarlet Mode: Minigun, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Fuu Hououji!
<Pose Tracker> Sachiko Majime [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sachiko's last leap left her close enough to see both the fire and the 'dragon' in all its splendor. Woah. Did that dragon-thing do all of this? It certainly would make what Alyssa have to say make sense. The young girl's ponderings are interrupted by a flash of manuever in her peripheral vison. She attempts to dodge out of the way of -whatever- was coming at her, but she's too slow. The late arriving Puella Magi yips in pain as she brings a hand down to touch the new bullet holes in her abdomen. She prods the biggest one with a finger which causes her to grimace. Tch. This is what she gets for trying to help, bullets to the gut. Sachiko grits her teeth and clenches her hands into tightly bound fists as she begins to shake with anger.

"That furry otter better pay up." Sachiko's orange eyes focus in on the agile form of Miyu. "Or I could just make her pay instead." The orange clad blonde warrioress suddenly throws out her left hand where her battle-axe materializes. She flourishes the large bladed weapon in a clockwise spin until she adopts a two-handed grip on the weapon. "Yeah! That's what I'll do." She grimy says to herself as her eyes begin to light up in an orange that matches the orange of the nearby blaze. "It's going to take more than that to kill me. My name is Sachiko Majime and I'm going to crush you underneath my axe!"

The axe-wielding Puella Magi of Fortune suddenly makes a series of small jumps in an attempt to put herself on a colision course with the machine gun wielding Miyu. Once she figures herself to be close enough, Sachiko spins to her left and brings her axe around with her. She then attempts to use this momentum to launch her axe in an uppercut motion at her opponet's midsection. Unfortunately, Mai's impassioned plea is not enough to satiate the bloodlust within the wounded Sachiko.

COMBAT: Sachiko Majime has used Swing for the Fences on Miyu Greer.
COMBAT: Miyu Greer narrowly braces Sachiko Majime's Swing for the Fences, taking 18 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Unfortunately, the Fire Knight is so focused on keeping the fire under control that she has no idea that she's being targeted from nearby until it's too late. She whips her head around just in time to see the bullets, and a look of horror forms on her face, attempting to drop down and dodge out of the way at the same time. Unfortunately, she fails big time, and the bullets do pierce her armor. She yells out as she feels her flesh being pierced by the bullets, sensing the blood loss already. She is forced to use her sword to keep herself from hitting the ground completely.

It's with the burning spirit of power that she keeps from passing out. She turns to face Miyu and scowls. "I don't know if you're behind this or not, but since you're the one who attacked, you're the one who gets hit back! FIRE ARROW!" A fiery arrow-shaped blast shoots from above the Fire Knight and aims directly at her opponent.

COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou has used Fire Arrow on Miyu Greer.
COMBAT: Miyu Greer narrowly dodges Hikaru Shidou's Fire Arrow, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Miyu Greer's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Honoka Yukishiro [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

The soldiers arrive in force and at speed. They take up positions between the magical girls and the school, trying to push them back into the flames -- not a bad tactic. One of them spots Miyu and remarks into his radio, "Confirmed, the Multiple Intelligencial Yggdrasil Unit is engaged here. Confirmed, we're backing it up."

They're making little emplacements very quickly, trios of men back to back to back, firing in all directions. More bullets pepper the incoming Lera and Endo; the outgoing Steven and Garnet get a variety of grenades thrown in their general direction, a mix of flash and smoke and concussion.

As for the flaming dragon demon space whale and HiMEcycle attempting to exit the area of engagement, they're sent on their way with some rounds called in from further afield -- tanks up an incline, targeting with help from some of the nearer units.

Really big rounds, which explode on impact.

OOC: Outgoing Steven, Garnet, Mai, Mikoto and Natsuki can all escape after they react to these attacks (and ideally pose one more time, narratively formalizing their disappearance), but it will cost their attack! Attacking is staying in the zone of battle by definition. Anyone else who wants to start escaping can begin to do so this round by foregoing an attack and posing accordingly! (Please wait for Miyu's pose before you go, however.)

COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Bulletstorm on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Bulletstorm on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Grenade Diversity on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Grenade Diversity on Garnet.
COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Tanks For The Memories on Mai Tokiha.
COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Tanks For The Memories on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Tanks For The Memories on Natsuki Kuga.
COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Unlimited Mook Supply on Honoka Yukishiro.
COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro accepts Honoka Yukishiro's Unlimited Mook Supply, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Accelerate applied to Honoka Yukishiro!  Cleanse! All of Honoka Yukishiro's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki narrowly braces Honoka Yukishiro's Bulletstorm, taking 2 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Endo Naoki's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Lera Camry narrowly counters Honoka Yukishiro's Bulletstorm, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry's Reverse ability activates!  Lera Camry's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Lera Camry's counterattack, Molten Bolt, partially gets through, doing 5 Fatigue damage to Honoka Yukishiro!
COMBAT: Steven Universe narrowly braces Honoka Yukishiro's Grenade Diversity, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Steven Universe's Block ability activates!  Steven Universe's Parry ability activates!  Blind, Diversion, Stagger, and Stun applied to Steven Universe!
COMBAT: Garnet narrowly dodges Honoka Yukishiro's Grenade Diversity, taking 1 Fatigue damage!  Garnet's Fade ability activates!  Garnet's Flash ability activates!  Blind, Diversion, Stagger, and Stun applied to Garnet!
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha fails to dodge Honoka Yukishiro's Tanks For The Memories, taking 41 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Natsuki Kuga fails to dodge Honoka Yukishiro's Tanks For The Memories, taking 36 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi narrowly braces Honoka Yukishiro's Tanks For The Memories, taking 20 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Miyu Greer [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Miyu's eyes narrow as her primary targets begin to slip off. Their self-preservation is contrary to Alyssa-ojousama's goals, which is the closest philosophical equivalent of evil that the Multiple Intelligential Yggdrasil Unit is familiar with. She braces herself to leap to the pursuit, only to shift that leap into a backwards jump that carries her safely from the impact of Lancelot's lightning storm. Her head jerks rapidly to the side as Hikaru's flame arrow whips by and detonates violently behind her back, her left cheek scored dark by the heat but incapable of bleeding.

Snapping back into firing position, Miyu unloads on the illusion created by la Sirene, then switches to heat-sensitive filter when the results are not to her satisfaction. What is that target? Before she can think about it, she is forced to fire directly through Fuu's wind attack, attempting to disperse it unsuccessfully. As it tosses her from side to side in its midst, she lifts her arm to block Sachiko's axe with a loud metallic clang, letting the massive magical blade bite a full inch into her forearm, sparks snapping and popping from the wound.

"Sachiko Majime," she repeats, with an air of dull dictation. "You are now scheduled as a Class-1 Priority Termination." The minigun swivels as a long twin-edged blade splits the air, extending a few feet from the stump of her android arm. She whips it in a large diagonal slash across Sachiko, both striking at the girl and attempting to disperse the wind limiting her motions.

She can see she has a good angle to go from Lancelot to her other targets, so she charges at him as he wheels about on his steed, leaping nimbly to try and stand atop his saddle and rid the horse of its rider with numerous brutal reaps of her ringing sword Maria.

Then Miyu leaps from the ravine, her legs moving at a blinding pace, building momentum rather than simply falling, so that she erupts through la Sirene's illusion and directly at her, punching the sword at her to attempt to end the rain and trickery. She bolts in geometrically efficient fashion across the field. Hit and run tactics minimize her exposure to assault and reduce the odds of cooperation among her foes. Hikaru is swiped multiple times from different directions as Miyu bolts around. The armor plating the Magic Knight wears seems, from Miyu's analysis, to be more effective than it looks, so when she reaches Fuu, the Wind Knight has the misfortune of witnessing a third transformation of that terrifying arm as twin roaring lengths of chain sling from it, the dual-bladed chainsaw a frighteningly disproportionate reaction.

Skidding away from her final target, Miyu issues a threat. "Surrender to Searrs, or die."

COMBAT: Miyu Greer has used Command: Sever on Sachiko Majime.
COMBAT: Miyu Greer has used Merciless Blade Maria on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Miyu Greer has used Sword and Borg on La Sirene du Nord.
<Pose Tracker> Natsuki Kuga [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Bullets fly as Duran attempts to carry Natsuki to safety. She attempts to dodge, but unfortunately she does not have Lady Luck on her side. Natsuki gets grazed on her face and arms by the bullets. She bites her tongue to ignore the pain and charges forward.

"Brace yourself, Kid," Natsuki yells and glances over her shoulder to where she can still see the flaming figure in the sky. "Careful, Mai," she whispers as she lets Duran race them to safety.

COMBAT: Miyu Greer has used Merciless Blade Maria on Hikaru Shidou.
COMBAT: Miyu Greer has used Ochre Mode: Chainsaw on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord fails to counter Miyu Greer's Sword and Borg, taking 31 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord's counterattack, Les Mysteres, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Miyu Greer!
COMBAT: Lancelot fails to counter Miyu Greer's Merciless Blade Maria, taking 63 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Lancelot's counterattack, Veil of Steel, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Miyu Greer!
<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet is glad she doesn't breathe, so at least that part of the grenade payload she and Steven just took doesn't bother her. Small comfort, as the smoke is still very disorienting, and coupled with the blinding light of the flash grenades, she can barely see. She leaps them both away from the soldiers, away from the fire, into the (soothing by comparison) darkness. There will be another day to fight, but right now, there are just too many foes, and too much chaos, and they're at too much of a disadvantage to recover or aid anyone. She and Steven need to get to safety... for now....

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji fails to dodge Miyu Greer's Ochre Mode: Chainsaw, taking 38 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Fuu Hououji is Quipped!  Stagger applied to Fuu Hououji!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"They're lying," Lera says, with a glance at the other orange-haired girl. She shakes her head. "You--I mean... you're not gonna throw in with guys like them, y'know? It's an obvious lie!"

She sees the ball hit Kagutscuchi -- and she yelps, flying backward at the power. She stares for a momen, though, and then she hears Mai's voice crack. She realizes why she is pulling back, on some level, but... she sees the fear, too. With a glance at Miyu, and the roar of that minigun, Lera can see why.

The bullets that she needs to worry about, however, don't come from Miyu. One of the bullets grazes her cheek, slashing off a few strands of orange hair; they go fluttering away. Lera hisses and turns, a little blood dripping away, and raises the hammer. She fires a bolt down.

Her eyes drift to the forest fire, then they drift to Endo. "Endo-san!" she yells. "I think we better get out of here! There's a little more than we can take on til we stop and regroup!"

She starts to fly away dipping lower -- she doesn't want a helicopter on her -- but keeping an eye on Miyu as she starts for the woods still untouched by fire.

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

There's a loud rumble as Mai and Kagutsuchi flee another confrontation with Miyu Greer. The dragon and girl, flying through the skies, can hardly fail to notice the artillery fire coming their way... And Mai clings to Kagutsuchi's claw desperately, looking back at the terrifying (and thankfully occupied, until her advice is heeded) Miyu. "Kagutsuchi...fly higher, maybe we can avoid them that wa-"

The dragon coughs abruptly, a burst of flame from the wheels on that burning back, and the dragon lilts off-course uncontrollably. Mai herself lets out a panicked scream as a succession of explosions hammer her Child, flames from the detonations briefly engulfing the two...

...and they soar out, distinctly the worse for wear. Mai can't spare a glance for what's behind her - there's just a greater wingbeat as the dragon surges for the sea, screeching in pain and fury and frustration...and finally, vanishing in a mighty roar of flame, far from Miyu and the soldiers and those that Mai might call friend.

Under cover of darkness, a HiME might be more subtle than a Child...and hopefully, she can find her way back to where the HIME have hidden. Back, to recuperate, and plan, and hope. For thirty-six hours.

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

Mai just called for him to retreat. Which is when Miyu lands on Sparkle's saddle pommel and lays about him with a sword. He tries the Veil of Steel, and fails horrifically, being knocked form the Horse. Lancelot slams into the ground and rolls. He then narrows his eyes and he circle Miyu, the fire in the background. With Arondight pointed directly at the thing, he says through clenched, pain ridden teeth, "Who are you?" He sneers slightly. "You know what? I don't care who you are. You attacked my school. My friends..." He says very quietly, "Tokiha-San."

He looks Miyu in the eyes and gives a roguish grin. "So. I want you to know, when we meet next, //I'm// going to hurt you." He leaps backwards, and the horse comes running to catch him, and the pair run off into as much cover as they can get.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Steven clears the window easily with Garnet's superhuman strength and mobility. That is a Crystal Gem for you! Of course, while not anti-gem weaponry, grenades are surprisingly effective at crowd control. While neither took a direct blast, Steven does attempt to aim his shield toward a nearby one.

Aiming the shield blocks most of the blast, but poor Steven looks right at the detonation as it happens, and scrabbles at his eyes. "Ahh! I cant see!" he shouts, squinting and rubbing his eyes. Everything is incredibly blurry, and a loud ringing noise perforates his hearing.

"We need to group with the others, Garnet! Rumors in the school said some are in the forest holding out! Some supposedly with powers like us!"

The keeps rubbing his eyes, but it will take a bit for his sight to fully come back.

"Did Lion come with you? We could use his help! I haven't seen him!" Things have sure gotten dire now. How can they beat all these soldiers, and whatever that was that took out part of the island?

COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou narrowly dodges Miyu Greer's Merciless Blade Maria, taking 27 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mikoto isn't driving this thing -- all she can do is brace herself as the tankfire reaches them. One explodes against her, other rounds flying past, and she screams, wordlessly, hands gripped around her sword.

She's lucky that Natsuki's grip is as tough as her own. "Y--yeah!" She yells over the hot, racing wind, as they leave the battlefield and its most scary combatant behind them.

COMBAT: Sachiko Majime narrowly counters Miyu Greer's Command: Sever, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Sachiko Majime's Reverse ability activates!  Bind Break! All of Miyu Greer's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Sachiko Majime's counterattack, Show Me What You Got, partially gets through, doing 23 Fatigue damage to Miyu Greer!
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo's progress toward the battlefield is slow, but it's hard to miss the greatest hits of this particular battle. There's a giant dragon shooting fire into the sky, and tanks blowing things up every which way. When he gets to the edge of the blast radius he finds it isn't long before soldiers and tanks are rolling up after him, the boy ducking low and letting out a hiss as bullets start rattling against a quickly erected magical shield.

"Okay! That sounds like a good idea!" Endo will go too. Quickly. He takes one glance back at the wall of soldiers, and then quickly begins to head in the opposite direction.

<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

The Fire Knight attempts to move out of the way of the incoming attack, but it's not quite good enough. She gets hit again, and the injuries get more severe. She drops to one knee, struggling to stay on her feet. But this time she's too seriously injured. She can only pull back a little, trying to find a safe spot to hide behind and regain her strength. Hopefully someone can rescue her if need be. She does try to shoot out a 'signal flare' to get the attention of the Wind Knight or someone else...

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

The killer gynoid has a CHAINSAW?!

The Magic Knight of Wind gets far too good of a look at Miyu this time, for one heart-stopping instant before the chainsaw is swung at her - and with no time to manifest her own sword, all the Wind Knight *can* do is try to avoid getting cloven in twain by that weapon. She practically has to dive through a wall of fire to try and get away from it, and even then she feels the buzzsaw edge carving *FAR* too close to her for anything that might generously be referred to as 'comfort'. By the time Miyu's attention shifts away - to threaten all of them - the Wind Knight is on her hands and knees, struggling just to keep breathing. "This ... this level of ... destru--" A wisp of smoke blows the wrong way as she's fighting to inhale, and the Wind Knight abruptly curls up into a ball of wracking coughs and pain.

She's not going to surrender. Whether that demand was directed at her or not, *she will not surrender* - not to the likes of Alyssa or Miyu, not to *ANYBODY* who would hold the population of three schools hostage, nor to the likes of those who set a forest on fire simply as a show of force.

She can't form words; she barely has the strength to think, let alone to move or to summon up the wind magic bestowed upon her. But the Magic Knight of Wind reaches deep within her own heart, pitting the power of her will against reality itself - and for one split second, the wind billows around her, kicking up dust and debris, whirling fire and smoke alike into a veil that by all rights should baffle even infrared sensors.

By the time it disperses again, the Magic Knight of Wind is gone - and she's doing all she can to get the Magic Knight of Fire out safely along with her.

... Whatever 'safe' might mean, given the current state of affairs.

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

Miyu comes right at her. la Sirene raises her lantern and speaks the words: "Les Mysteres, c-"

MIYU IS TOO FAST. The blade erupts forwards with intense speed, the half-developed emission of ink and secrets in the air being instead punctured by the tip of that blade. The magic splatters round like a bomb went off in the animation factor, for a fleeting moment. La Sirene stares down a blade that might go through her neck and leans forwards.

Almost fast enough. She doesn't get stuck in the neck. The blade slides over her shoulder blades and leaves a deep scrape that hurts, catching about three-quarters of her long gothic locks in the process and scraping among them, swicking away and leaving her with a raggedly asymmetrical cascade of locks. La Sirene goggles in sheer astonishment, mouth opening and closing. She hasn't dropped her guard, at least not quite.

Batiste has gone unnoticed because an otter is not the most menacing of creatures, at least thus far. He was also briefly buried by the kilogram or so of hair that la Sirene has just lost. Erupting out of it, he squeaks, "That girl - that girl with the dragon... she's saying we shouldn't stay here. La Sirene, M-maji --!" But he is momentarily shocked to see the Puella Magi's sleek motions.

La Sirene has an advantage with her Pharos that it is not necessary, to some extent, for her to do more than turn round and point. Physically, anyway... in her heart, the mixture of quavering fear for her friends (almost all of whom in this world are HERE, NOW on this ISLAND, and one of whom is specifically targeted...), the exhilirant feeling of the storm and that half-dulled sense of triumph that she could douse flames... And now an enemy, perhaps too much for her. Perhaps quite willing to slay them out of hand.

She might have fled, might have retreated, might have been a good girl - in the flat field. But in this forest, set afire to show determination, she isn't.

"So now the real face is revealed. May they hear those words themselves, one day," la Sirene says, raising her voice to hide how it's quaking.

She clenches her fist. The eye of the Pharos opens, pivoting towards the threatening Miyu. La Sirene lifts her face, the mien of arrogance way more for her than to impress a machine.

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Pieces of the Perfect Black on Miyu Greer.
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Miyu Greer narrowly counters La Sirene du Nord's Pieces of the Perfect Black, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Miyu Greer's counterattack, Ionic Pulse, partially gets through, doing 18 Fatigue damage to La Sirene du Nord!
<Pose Tracker> Sachiko Majime [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sachiko Majime isn't sure what Miyu is. She only now had a chance to actually catch a glimpse of her since they were in close combat. Her enemy kinda looked like someone that attended Ohtori, but Miyu's incredible speed and strange armament served only to confuse the softball slinger. It's only when her axe chunks into Miyu's arm with a metallic clank that Sachiko is finally able to process just what Miyu might be. Miyu, on the other hand, is lighting fast in processing Sachiko's identity which only serves to confuse the Puella Magi further. "Glad I finally got your attention!" She spits out through gritted teeth just before Miyu makes her move.

The minigun turning into a blade was a nifty trick. A trick that almost cost Sachiko a limb or maybe her life. The attack comes quick, but Sachiko's axe intercepts the blade at last minute. The sheer impact of blade on axe causes a shower of sparks to reign down around them just as the orange-clad Puella Magi ducks down and spins at the same times in an attempt to catch Miyu with a slash of her axe before her opponent dashses away. This wasn't about fires, Alyssa, or even HiME anymore. All Sachiko cared about was proving that she wasn't a pushover. She wanted to prove her strength maybe to Miyu, but mostly to herself.

The fighting magic girl only realizes now that several of her 'allies' have already made for the hills. Sachiko, distracted, turns and grimaces. Taking a deep breath, her grimace becomes a laugh. "That's it? We just run?" Her attention turns back to first Miyu and then at Sirene whom was not retreating either. Well, maybe not everyone was running. Sachiko wasn't about to let Sirene fight this thing by herself. Although wounded, the Puella Magi continued to grin. "No. We're not going to give up without a fight!" Axe in hand, Sachiko begins her wind-up and -hurls- her axe towards Miyu in a diagonal, breaking arc that was aimed towards her opponent's legs.

COMBAT: Sachiko Majime has used Sa-chi-ko Special on Miyu Greer.
<Pose Tracker> Honoka Yukishiro [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

The soldiers are unable to keep up with the magical girls for long, and the first wave disappears into the smoldering brush. That fire was fought a little bit, but they didn't have time to do much -- at this rate it may wind up being left to Golden Age to contain it to the degree they desire.

Now their battlefield commandroid has set the rest to flight, and they get off their parting shots, hoping to wound, to slow, to generally make it harder for them the next time they return.

"Fire!" barks a sergeant, and the volley is launched. Endo and Lera get the benefit of the tanks' retort this time, as they are in midair. Too high and they'd face helicopters; too low and they get this instead. Truly, Southern Cross Island has become a hellish place to fly.

OOC: Fuu, Endo, Lancelot and Lera will be free to escape after they react to these attacks!

COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Bulletstorm on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Tanks For The Memories on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Bulletstorm on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Tanks For The Memories on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Lancelot perfectly braces Honoka Yukishiro's Bulletstorm, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Brace!  Lancelot's Block ability activates!  Lancelot's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Lera Camry perfectly counters Honoka Yukishiro's Tanks For The Memories, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!  Lera Camry's Reverse ability activates!  Lera Camry's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Lera Camry's counterattack, Mantle Heart, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Honoka Yukishiro!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki fails to brace Honoka Yukishiro's Tanks For The Memories, taking 33 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji fails to dodge Honoka Yukishiro's Bulletstorm, taking 14 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Lera hears the thunder of the tank's cannon before she sees it. She looks over her shoulder, eyes widening, and then she turns around -- flying backward for a moment -- and raises her hand.

<Mantle Heart!>

A Midchildan circle forms off Lera's outstretched hand. Then, a diamond-shaped shield of energy appears in front of her. It glows with a faint yellow hue, bleeding green at the edges. The tank's shell slams into it. Fire and streamers of smoke erupt, but the shield withstands the shot completely. As the fire fades, the barrier winks out.

Lera, at this point, has flown off.

COMBAT: Miyu Greer narrowly braces Sachiko Majime's Sa-chi-ko Special, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Exhausted applied to Miyu Greer!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

The sound of gunfire *ahead* of her makes the Wind Knight wonder briefly if she already got turned around, or did Miyu-san get ahead --

Oh, right. There are still soldiers ... and for a split second, she finds herself unable to blame them for shooting at her as well. Keyed up with the cover story of terrorists, and their paranoia further stoked by the spurious accusation that some of those terrorists are Ohtori students, of course they'd shoot at anybo--

A not-nearly-stray-enough bullet nearly takes a chunk out of the Wind Knight's ear; dodging away from it leaves her sprawled across her fire-wielding comrade. The urge to retaliate - to hurl a magical cyclone at the soldiers and their tanks - would be overwhelming, if retreat hadn't already become a much higher priority than personal satisfaction ... and really, the soldiers don't deserve to have their paranoia reinforced by someone tossing magic at them.

The Magic Knight of Wind just does her best to get out of the battlefield without incurring too much additional injury ... and more importantly, without *allowing* any more harm to her sister-in-arms. A wind barrier would help greatly towards that end, if she could just focus the spell ...

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

<INCOMING.> Fallen Stern notes helpfully.

Endo glances over his shoulder to spy the mortar shell coming toward him, but he doesn't have time to change his trajectory. There's a cry of pain as it explodes around him. He keeps on going despite this, waving toward Lera to signal he's still alive as he leaps and bounds through where trees were, and to where they are again so he can vanish into cover.


"We'll be back," Endo assures his Device, "Don't worry."

<Pose Tracker> Miyu Greer [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Miyu doesn't even raise an eyebrow at Lancelot, but she does stare at him levelly for a brief moment. "If you wish to reciprocate in equal measure for what happens to Mai Tokiha," she informs him, "Please be advised that the next time we meet, you will be obligated to kill me."

The Magic Knight of Wind seems to be suffering a similar emotional overload; Miyu would pity such volatile minds if she were truly capable. Hers remains internal for the most part, however, and Miyu permits Fuu to rescue her friend unmolested. You do not send a battleship to chase down stragglers. She understands her tactical role.

Find the resistance. Break it.

"I am merely her weapon," Miyu disagrees with la Sirene calmly. "You will know the herald when you hear her song." As Pharos swivels to her and emits a stream of pure blackness, Miyu racks her chainsaw-arm swiftly, the pulse cannon chambering and firing in one smooth motion, the ions churning their way down the stream to its source.

Twisting, Miyu hard-blocks the great axe, her inhuman strength permitting her thin cannon to compete with it, but not fully countering the advantage of mass and leverage. She is forced to leap free of the lock after a moment of struggle, stumbling briefly.

"Navy Blade, Maria," she recounts in a digitally distorted tone, the damaged cannon retracting as her fearsome blade rings forth again. "The two of you will be your sole, mutual audience for your own last song," she says. "It will not be beautiful when you scream." She seems to erupt into the air as though from a jet boost, her powerful legs driving her over Sachiko to descend directly into la Sirene, three great slashes coming in mechanically rapid succession. She twists low and swings high as she hits the ground, rotating in an attempt to drag Maria up Sachiko's exposed back.

COMBAT: Miyu Greer has used Merciless Blade Maria on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Miyu Greer has used Armed and Dangerous on Sachiko Majime.
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord narrowly dodges Miyu Greer's Merciless Blade Maria, taking 8 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Sachiko Majime fails to dodge Miyu Greer's Armed and Dangerous, taking 42 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mid air flip to the Horse, the Segeant gives the order to fire, and Lancelot spins in the air and slaps the bullets aside with Arondight. He lands on Sparkles and winces. A LOT. His sword arm going to his left shoulder, which is still leaking blood. A lot more thanks to an Android killing machine with both a sword arm and gun arm. He looks to Miyu.

Oh yeah. She just threatened to kill Mai.


The Bunny looks up at him, "Lancelot?"

"Take a note. I'm going to dismantle that thing and wreck it so very -" More bullets and Lancelot is talking, but thankfully can not be heard because each shot drowns out his words with both a loud BANG and the PING of the blade deflecting bullets. "-ing dust pan."

Merlin blinks. "That language is hardly appropriate for a Knight Lancelot."

"There is fire Melrin. I will cook you."

--Gulp-- "So noted."

Lancelot nudges Sparkles and the two continue to get the heck out of there!

<Pose Tracker> Sachiko Majime [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

There was a feeling within Sachiko that she hadn't felt since she became a Puella Magi. It was hard to isolate just what it was in this moment as there actually quite a few feelings racing through Sachiko's hollow body. The rage was there for sure. However, there was also the fear that she just might have bit off more than she could chew. Either were valid reasons for Sachiko's shaking. But maybe it was something else. The idea of going up against something so much stronger than her. The feeling that she had to give it her all or face her own annihilation. This...this was something that surpassed how Sachiko ever felt before. There was never a time on the softball mound that she felt like this. No. This feeling was something new, something important. Sachiko felt happy. Miyu had acknowledged her as worthy of termination. In its own messed up way, this was the sort of recognition that Sachiko -craved-. Someone or at least something recognized her own worth even if meant that Miyu was now trying to kill her.

Sachiko unfortunately has no further time to parse out these new feelings as her melee with Miyu takes a turn for the worse. She miscalculated the robot's immense speed and was caught by a suddenly crimson flash of Miyu's blade. Strength leaving her, Sachiko stumbles forward from the blow and drops to her knees. She might have found a new happiness in combat, but she was now facing oblivion with every passing second. "Yume, I screwed up," Sachiko mutters to herself before forcing herself up onto her feet despite her ever-increasing wounds. The Puella Magi raises her axe once more and seems quite intent on continuing this pointless battle further unless someone or something stops her. "I'm...not....done with you yet!" She yells in a much louder voice at her robotic opponent.

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

The ionic burst from Miyu Greer screams down the mouth of the lantern from another world...

... and discharges itself in the depths of another ocean. A strange six-armed starfish is badly startled by the burst, which takes place so deep in the Sea of Tears to never even be seen. Except by the starfish, of course, who is displeased.

The SIDEWASH from that burst jerks la Sirene's arm up with a cry of dismay. She then sees Miyu advance at a swift pace to Sachiko even as her arm lowers again.

"La Sirene, she's going to be chopped up to bits!" Batiste cries. La Sirene's less blasted arm gestures to her side; Batiste vaults up, clinging to her coat before plunging into the convenient pocket there for just such of a reason.

La Sirene cannot make out the look on Sachiko's face in the fiery light of the smouldering woods; were she fully informed, she might honor that wish from Sachiko. Lacking that information, she can only follow her heart.

And that heart tells her to run forwards - up to Sachiko's side... "Come on!" she tells her, urgently, practically shouting. "We can't --" Her free hand goes to try and loop one of the Puella Magi's arms over her own, thus perhaps to run away with her sturdily booted feet. Her head swivels towards Miyu, though a sudden fluttering of the Pharos's opening into that unlitten sea might give them /just/ enough visual confusion to escape...

<Pose Tracker> Honoka Yukishiro [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

La Sirene and Sachiko's retreat might be hastened by a third volley from the tanks, which crack the air explosively both in the moment after their launch, and the moment after their arrival.

Afterwards, it can't be said that a hushed silence falls over the place, because the firestorm rages on, crackles and roars and the occasional thump of a falling tree. It is much quieter than gunfire, though -- a dark day when these are soft sounds by comparison. Ash is beginning to get swept into the air by a sea breeze, and it can almost be mistaken for snow as it drifts in gray swaths through the air, making little piles on the ground.

The lovely Prada boots of Alyssa Searrs make tiny prints in the ash as she walks along the edge of the flames, far enough to be safe, close enough to feel the heat, the searing consequences of her actions. Her blue eyes are sad as they survey the damage, but it cannot be said that any true regret finds refuge on her face or in her heart.

She reaches Miyu within a few moments, and reaches up, knowing that her companion and guardian's head will be lowered for patting by the time her stretching fingers find their apex. Stroking the woman's silvery hair, her light touch is pure, gentle affection -- not possessiveness, not patronization. "You did wonderfully, Miyu," she whispers with pure, unvarnished admiration.

It is a tiny, golden act of love. It glows all the more brightly on this hellish landscape.

"They certainly didn't take long to reveal themselves," Alyssa continues quietly but clinically. This might ruin the moment between two lesser beings, but she's always been able to balance work and family. They're two sides of the same coin. "I won't let them move so freely anymore."

Her eyes sharpen with determination -- and her hair glows magnificently, impossibly golden with magical radiance, tugging against gravity and its confining ribbon. A moment later, Orphans erupt from the ground in increasing powers of two at a time.

Four, eight, sixteen... thirty-two...



Thin as shadows but far more dangerous, the monsters are virtually invisible at night, even with the flames and the stars to betray them. They rush off in all directions, making no place on the surface safe for their quarry. Even as they vanish into the distance, their mistress sags, wavering on her feet, balance lost with all her energy. Her eyes glaze over, unfocused, exhausted.

COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Tanks For The Memories on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro has used Tanks For The Memories on Sachiko Majime.
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord narrowly braces Honoka Yukishiro's Tanks For The Memories, taking 17 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene du Nord's Block ability activates!  La Sirene du Nord's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Sachiko Majime perfectly dodges Honoka Yukishiro's Tanks For The Memories, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Sachiko Majime's Fade ability activates!  Sachiko Majime's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Sachiko Majime [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sachiko's gut reaction when Sirene arrives at her side is to shrug her off and keep fighting. But her sudden appearance is also something like the voice of reason finally settling in. She's no match for Miyu now, but maybe she'll be able to stand a chance one day. Whatever the case may be, there was no way Sachiko could do anything useful in the moment. Gritting her teeth again, she brusquely nods and helps Sirene guide her arm so that she can more easily stand. This allows Sachiko to potentially to have a fighting chance of getting way despite her injuries and for that....she just might owe Sirene one for helping her not succumb to her own self-destructive behavior. "You're right. I hate to admit it, but you're right." She uses what aggression she has left to glare at Miyu before looking back at Sirene. "Next time, we have to be stronger. We have to."

The once softball star is much more assured of her decision to follow Sirene's lead when a volley of tankfire resounds through the area. But thankfully, Sirene's assistance allows Sachiko to atleast leap out of the way in time even if Sirene doesn't hold onto her as she jumps.

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

"Don't worry; we will surely" Batiste says, starting to be stout and encouraging when directly from beneath - or rather, behind - them, shellfire impacts the ground.

La Sirene's ears might pop were they not held toughened by the strength of will and passion. As it is, her ears DO ring, the burst and the plume of soil behind her makes her feel like she's falling into a sea --

Her right leg hits the ground and she vaults up, a black shadow at tree-top height, travelling into the forest, hopefully ahead of the flame.

<Pose Tracker> Miyu Greer [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSarZ7g1F-g

If Sachiko is a girl who longs for true combat, she has found a fine match in Miyu, who exists for no other purpose--or so she was designed. Her decisions are made with digital speed and the efficiency of a heart without doubt or remorse. Every assault is the result of a series of rapid simulations and countersimulations, every motion a probabilistic assessment transcribed in steel alloy and bullets.

La Sirene's threat seems primarily in deceit. Sachiko's is far more direct. With both wounded but Sachiko disabled, her target is obvious. "Command: Execution," Miyu says, her eyes a searing red in the dark as she lifts her blade to the sky, its point sluicing moonlight down its razor edge.

La Sirene interposes herself, the vision of some abyssal depth blurring vision, distorting distance. Miyu rapidly flips through her optical filters, but none are helpful; this is not truly an illusion, she is scanning an actual place somewhere. Well, no matter. Where physics flounders, engineering may race ahead.

Miyu lets her minigun bristle from her arm again and spins it up. She doesn't need to see what she's firing at if she fires enough bullets, and she has thousands of rounds of caseless high-powered micromunitions left.

The tank round bursting ahead of her causes Miyu to hesitate lest her shot go wild, and then she senses her mistress's proximity. Permitting the lesser troops to pursue her foe as they may, she turns on her heel martinet-sharp and marches to Alyssa's side, kneeling with a warm smile on her face. "Ojousama," she greets, and glows with a happiness otherwise unknown to her as that tiny hand pets her head. "You are very kind."

Blinking, Miyu rises as Alyssa begins her summoning, returning to watchfulness as the girl makes herself vulnerable. She swings her blade Maria casually to the side to stop a soldier as he runs by, the two golden bars on his shoulder marking him as an acceptable logistical relay. "Do not permit the wildfires to damage the town, the Academy itself or any of our own emplacements. In addition, Sector 69 is to be given Beta-level defense priority. The enemy is shattered; resume normal watch rotations and focus manpower on containment."

"The Arena?" the officer wonders, then startles himself from his unwise delay. "Y-yes, ma'am! Then, the forest itself..."

"Let it burn," Miyu says, collapsing Maria into her arm and extending the panels of synthetic flesh that comprise her human forearm and hand. "Let all of it burn."

Turning back to Alyssa, Miyu kneels at her side again, her expressionless face melting into an unhappy frown. "Ojousama," she breathes. "You should not summon so many at once. It taxes you so." Leaning into Alyssa, shoulder to shoulder, she holds her for a few seconds until her initial dizziness fades, not wanting to add to it. Then, gently, she scoops her arm under Alyssa's small legs so that her arm is a seat for the girl, her other cupping around her shoulders so she doesn't have to hold on. Miyu rises again, holding the little angel close.

Miles away, a group of students rushes from the forest and onto the beach, only to pull to a stop, hands raised, as they are confronted with a waiting squad of soldiers.

"They're so beautiful, ojousama," she says, watching the Orphans as they streak out into the fiery night, orange light rippling off their unnatural forms. "There are so many." Her voice has the soft tone of a lullaby, even as she begins to hear the sounds of distant fear peal into the night, even as automatic weapons loose their rippling cry at the treeline. Pride strong enough to make her wonder what tears feel like swells in Miyu's chest as she begins to walk, carrying her life's meaning and its Prada boots through the fire-framed valley.

"The whole forest will burn to the ground," she whispers. "They will have nowhere to hide, no, never again."

Deep in the forest, an Orphan pauses at a cave, then plunges in with a savage growl, its tail wriggling in the air as wood crackles and snaps from the heat.

"I will find or kill every one of them, ojousama," Miyu promises, carefully touching the back of Alyssa's blonde head, then cupping it to let her rest. "Or your magnificent Artemis will consume them from this earth." There's no malice in it, nothing at all but softness and love. It's a fairy tale future.

Seated against the balcony of the Student Council Tower, Nanami Kiryuu hides with her face buried behind her tightly closed fists, atop a carpet made of the sprayed loose pages of her assigned script.

Miyu halts at the top of a hill, letting Alyssa see the full spread of the fire around them, a thousand angry orange eyes over a black landscape, with the dim whalebone presence of Ohtori's great tower far behind. "I can't wait to hear you sing again, ojousama," Miyu says, nestling her chin against the top of Alyssa's head.