2016-02-06 - The Battle of Ohtori, Part One

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Title: The Battle of Ohtori, Part One

Hot on the heels of the deadline for the HiME to turn themselves in, the magical girls boil out of the caverns beneath Southern Cross Island in an effort to engage Golden Age's land and sea forces, and draw them away from the school so the students can all escape!


Kyouko Sakura, Nori Ankou, Chitose Shiratori, Ami Mizuno, Mai Tokiha, Mikoto Minagi, Hikaru Shidou, Endo Naoki, Kozue Kaoru, Natsuki Kuga, Takeo Akamizu, Garnet, Lera Camry, Fuu Hououji, Sayaka Miki

GM: Hotaru Tomoe/Utena Tenjou


Southern Cross Island

OOC - IC Date:


<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzvogWhn4hQ

"Operation Recapture Ohtori Academy... Commence!"

It's as much rallying cry as command; the slender frame of Headmistress Mashiro Kazahana is ill-suited to carry the visual of battlemaster, but inspiration, passion, that comes naturally.

What comes next is unnatural but nonetheless stunning in sheer glory, a feat of infrastructure to make engineers weep: all across the island, hidden hatches and bays open and freight elevators rise, releasing at their apex, one magical girl per launch site. The school is instantly surrounded; the ships around the island, somewhat less so.

There are two places that one might dock a secret evacuation ship to get all the kids and teachers off the island and out of the crossfire, and the plan is to lure the blockade away from the smaller one, which is hidden from most of the rest of the island by hills. Students will be led by another team to the dock, and away they'll go --

-- IF the forces at the school are sufficiently distracted and drawn away to make this possible. They're considerable, too, if easy to survey for a distance. There's no beautiful forest anymore, or at least only patches here and there. The rest is a soft gray hellscape of ash and char, and indeed many of the rising magical girls send up plumes of disturbed, snowy debris as their elevators arise.

There are at least a dozen tanks, perhaps more, each one incised with the golden sigil of their company and mounted with varying artillery that is mostly modern and sleek but with just a hint of science fiction. The future is now -- Golden Age has access to gear that just isn't widespread public knowledge yet, like the crackling green energy which sizzles and pops along some of the turrets.

There are what feels like countless soldiers, a more familiar foe with their guns and tasers and grenades and bolos; and surely there are monsters, a veritable sea of Orphans, purple and fanged, who steer mostly clear of the school but are thick on the ground.

And out to sea... the blockade comprises roughly thirteen ships of varying size and armament, all of them massive, worthy of the term 'battleship' even if some are sleek, fast cruisers and others are ponderous carriers. They have guns and other, stranger, nastier weapons mounted on every conceivable surface. They /bristle/ with violence.

They have yet to be challenged directly, and for one moment longer, might not expect the woe about to betide them.

OOC: Please +heal/full, transform, and +attack by the end of your pose! Hotaru will be representing the health bar and attacks of the Sea Forces, Utena will have the health bar and attacks of the Land Forces. All GM poses will be coming from Hotaru for simplicity's sake.

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe transforms into Golden Age Sea Forces!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has fully healed herself. She is now ready to take on 5 opponents!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou transforms into Golden Age Land Forces!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has fully healed herself. She is now ready to take on 12 opponents!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Magic Knight!
COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura transforms into Puella Magi Kyouko!
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki transforms into Puella Magi Sayaka!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki transforms into Barrier Jacket!
COMBAT: Lancelot transforms into Lancelot!
COMBAT: Lera Camry transforms into Barrier Jacket Perihelion!
COMBAT: Ami Mizuno transforms into Sailor Mercury!
COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou transforms into Magic Knight of Fire!
COMBAT: Lera Camry transforms into Barrier Jacket Aphelion!
COMBAT: Nori Ankou transforms into La Sirene du Nord!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi transforms into HiME Mikoto!
COMBAT: Garnet transforms into Garnet's Got Gauntlets!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Lera Camry feels the elevator rising up quickly, sending the teenager careening towards the surface. She takes a deep breath, closing her eyes. This all sits poorly with the Midchildan. She hasn't lived through a military occupation before. The TSAB has many complaints against it -- and many with merit -- but they never oppressed her like this. Even when they were misguided, they protected her.

The elevator rumbles and rattles around her. She grips the hammer at her side; the clockwork construction all gathers around a single, disc-shaped yellow gem at the heart of the hammerhead. Her jacket billows out behind her, freshly patched, and her feather charm sways in her hair.

The bay doors ahead open up, and she looks up into the sunlight for the first time in a day. Lera's amber eyes blink; her pupils take a moment to adjust. "All right, Ground," she says. "Let's go."

<On it.>

Before the elevator finishes rising, Lera lefts off in a blur of green, gold, and orange. She shoots into the sky, leaving an arc of light trailing after her, and swings the warhammer in front of her. Motes of light yellow energy crackle and draw into the hammerhead, before a Midchildan circle appears in front of her. Lera comes to a jerking stop over a destroyer.

"Broken Ground!" she yells. "Hit 'em!"

<Smashing! Fault Siege!>

With a swing of her hammer, a bolt of magically-created lava comes screaming down towards one of the larger guns on the deck of the destroyer below.

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Fault Siege on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqFO9J3Sv1U

As badly as Southern Cross Island has devolved into kicked-hive chaos there's been at least one wasp missed by the angry bees all buzzing about. Although she'd popped up for air a few times and even shown her face at least once, there were very few people involved in this clunsterflunk that are aware of her presence. Kyouko is going to changee that.

After a few days of short notice camping, well practiced skulking, and generally looking the very image of a bored teenager unimpressed with her elders' efforts at the hodgepodge of hardware and the smudge-eyed dullards manning them, the subtle scents of the Skullcracking Hour have dispersed with the breeze. Whatever's left in this drama is about to play out, and Kyouko will play her part in either retaking Ohtori or escaping it shortly.

Her hair has been painstakingly wound into a bun and shoved into hoodie obscura, big black aviators like MacArthur would wear and two hard candies swirling around and knocking about in her mouth. Her outfit is markedly less casual than her typical fare. Tokyo is scattered with unassuming boltholes and crannies and dufflebags, each containing gear or supplies that Kyouko thinks she might need some day, if something is to happen, and she tapped her cache here almost immediately after the bridge blew. Her sweatshirt and pants are both camouflage print like gaijin hunters wear, and she wears hiking boots instead of sneakers. During the blockade she's swapped between the clothes she came in to hide in plain sight, and this more tactical outfit for her time in the woods. If she can loot at least one ghillie suit today then all this irritating nonsense will be worth it.

One earbud, then the other. Digital chords are plucked in her ears and stir her heart to a war march. A glisten flickers over her eyes as unspilled tears well then drain with the swell of impulse and emotion lifting her to her full stature. The ground bursts around her in long gray plumes like geysers or controlled detonations. Or the smoke from a starter's pistol. She didn't know what the plan was, hadn't coordinated a thing, but she knew a cue when she heard one. Baring her fangs in a grinning snarl, she transforms and charges forward, out of the grove that had been cauterized off from the rest the former forest.

Fallen leaves clump at the swell of an unassuming hill. Spears successively sprout in three of them like lightning bolts that decided not to fade away after impact, each wringing a sprayed gush of blood. Kyouko spits at the still unseeable corpses with so much force that a howl contorts free. These snipers had made her comings and goings into a nightmare, but it looks like their fancy infrared goggles won't do much for them now. She'll be back for their ghillies if anything's left of this stupid island by the next sunrise.

Bursting out of the treeline, the air screams, buckling under the weight of ballistics and explosives and every stripe of arcana slashing all around. Ripping her hairtie free, Kyouko shakes the full unkempt cloak of her hair loose all around her. Beating her breastbone with a spear-wielding fist, she shouts her guts out at it, flush with the thrill of it all before charging further into the fray.

COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has used Pincushion on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

She could probably have rested more.

Apart from getting some food and a bottle of mild tea, most of the Wind Knight's attention was on making sure nobody would be going into battle wounded if they could help it. Anyone who had evident injuries would have been offered healing; only after she'd done what she could for those who accepted the offer did Fuu take a little while to de-transform and rest more fully. The warning when it was time to launch the attack woke her up from a much-needed nap, but Fuu cleared her head as quickly as she could and headed to one of the elevators, transforming back into her armor as the Magic Knight of Wind before she got there.

Now that elevator is ascending, and in the back of her mind, the Wind Knight remembers some of the games she's played and the anime she's watched, with the heroes (male and female alike) girding up for the final battle. Not that this is likely to be the *final* battle in that sense; games and anime come to an end, but in the real world, one's life continues, and there are many threats to the mortal world besides that posed by the Searrs Foundation.

However, if the assorted magical warriors of the Sister Schools fail, then it WILL be the last fight for almost everyone here, and remembering that keeps her from getting sidetracked.

The Wind Knight takes off running as the elevator comes to a halt and the door ahead slides open; her quiver is across her back, her bow is in hand, and she wastes no time in drawing an arrow and nocking it to the bowstring, the breeze whirling about her, stirring up dust and ash, ruffling her skirt and her hair as she draws the string back, sighting in on the tank that first caught her gaze - and which may have noticed her in the same instant.

"Gale Arrow!"

Her hair whips forward at the same instant as she looses her shaft; the wind she'd gathered about herself coalesces into a 'sheath' of air around the arrow, hurling it faster and father than she could have shot on her own, steadying and guiding the arrow's flight so that the increased speed doesn't just throw it off-course due to turbulence.

The Wind Knight immediately goes on the move again, keeping a small measure of her will on the arrow - and a similar measure of her attention on the tank itself, which might not go down THAT easily.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Gale Arrow on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Lera Camry's Fault Siege, taking 28 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Lera Camry is Psyched!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to dodge Kyouko Sakura's Pincushion, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Utena Tenjou is Quipped!  Cripple, Exhausted, and Stagger applied to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou perfectly dodges Fuu Hououji's Gale Arrow, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Dodge!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Natsuki Kuga transforms into Natsuki and Duran!
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mikoto - who found her way to the meeting, eventually, in her own way and on her own time - travels up the elevator as the lights flash and dull sirens inside the facility signal metal shifting against metal. The noise irritates her, nipping at the corners of her mind, but she is too determined to be overwhelmed by the flood of sensory input.

They will retake the island, and no one will have to worry any more.

They will retake the island, and her Lord Brother will be safe.

They will retake the island, and...

... and Mai will smile again.

She steps out into a delivery tube, stretching long with light at the end of the tunnel, though she has no Child to ride. Instead, she crouches, feet pressed against metal which promises to launch her into a running start. She clutches Miroku in a hand, the blade flat against the concrete floor.

(She still wears that dress, torn and modified into functional form.)

Mashiro speaks. The mission begins. In an instant, Mikoto launches herself from her starting blocks, Miroku sending up a shower of sparks as she sprints out into the sunlight. A scream bellows from within her chest as she storms towards the soldiers and their tanks, sending up clouds of ash as the charred remains of what was a forest are crushed beneath her feet. She screams, wordlessly, a bloodcurdling cry which declares her intentions perfectly.

Launching herself in a circular spin towards the tank Fuu targetted, her obsidian blade cleaves forward, sharp enough to cut through steel.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly dodges Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness, taking 30 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi is Psyched!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

This incident has brought out the worst in the Fire Knight's situations. She's found herself incapacitated several times, and truly feels unworthy of being called a knight. But after resting and regaining her strength for real, she's found herself changing her mind. She truly is a Magic Knight and refuses to give up after all! She's got a chance to prove herself, and she's going to take that chance now!

Like Fuu-chan, Hikaru had also been getting in a quick nap, wanting to rest up a little before the big battle. But now that she's well rested and wide awake, she's the Magic Knight of Fire again! And her desire to battle burns brighter than it usually does! In fact, one might think she's truly living up to her name right now!

As the elevator ascends, the Fire Knight looks at her sword and at those who are around her, including the Wind Knight. This is what it all comes down to, and there's no turning back! The fight is here, and so is the Fire Knight!

When the doors open, the Fire Knight takes off quickly, racing into the fray and readying the magic of fire. She seems unfazed by the fact she'd be taking on a tank, instead showing true courage and fearlessness in the heart of battle. She yells out, "FIRE ARROW!" and shoots forth a flaming apparition at the tank, before turning sideways and moving perpendicular to her original path in hopes of throwing her target's aim off for a moment.

COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou has used Fire Arrow on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to brace Hikaru Shidou's Fire Arrow, taking 32 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet emerges stoically from the elevator. Being mostly unfamiliar with modern human military protocols, she found the loud blaring of the alarms, and strobing lights confusing.

But, if the intention was to announce that something terrible was about to be unleashed on the battlefield, they would be exactly right.

Destroying the bridge!

Destroying the forest, full of innocent Earth life!

Kidnapping her Steven!

Planning to murder three schools worth of children... This "Golden Age" was every bit as monsterous as any magical abomination she had ever faced. And Garnet is going to make them pay for their hideous actions.

If excessive force is the only thing they understand, excessive force is what they'll get!

She walks calmly to where she can see their encampment, and enters a state of calm before the storm, summoning her armored gauntlets to her hands.

"Let's see how tough they are without their toys."

She squats to her knees and embarks on a mighti leap towards a group of soldiers and a tank, and using the momentum, crashes down on the tank with her fists in a shockwave set to drive them into the Earth!

COMBAT: Garnet has used Strike The Earth! on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Garnet's Strike The Earth!, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj6gx-4dls0

Sparkles awaited him when he exited the cave. He had summoned her with an effort of will, and using another he mounted his warhorse. His best friend. She had given him a concerned look, but he drew Arondight from that scabbard at his side and the pair moved slowly towarf the oppossing armor.

They stop on a hill, over looking the tanks and he smiled dimly. "Okay Girl," he said patting Sparkles along the neck affectionately. "Let's show these Golden Age punks what armor //really// is."

The Horse grins maliciously, and then rears, letting out a horsey warcry, before leaping and plunging down toward the tanks, sending up plumes of ash and clods of dirt in their wake as the pair charge toward the enemy position. Lancelot points Arondight toward the heavens as he goes, lightning strikes the blade in brilliant flashes of blue energy that pulses and arcs off the blade like an angry reminder of the past.

Lancelot's voice cries out, "FOR THE INNOCENT, FOR CAMELOT AND OHTORRI!" And then he's upon the first tank, Arondisht slashing and exploding in violent arcs of unleashed Lightning that snap and crackle at everything in tehir wake. Sparkles leaping and turning, preparing to attack again, or attack a new target.

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Lightning Slash on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly dodges Lancelot's Lightning Slash, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Lancelot is Psyched!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!  Stagger applied to Utena Tenjou!
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

La Sirene du Nord rises from the very earth itself, tossing her remaining hair with one hand as she emerges. For a fleeting moment she thinks it's snowed, but the smell and the texture of what washes over her tells her that this is not so.

La Sirene breathes that fragrance in. It is bitter. She sees the moving machines of war and the troops in their array of weapons.

Something is coming up behind her, emotionally speaking. A feeling rising inside of her. She doesn't know quite what it is. A small part of her wishes she hadn't left Batiste asleep and full of sashimi 'downstairs,' but what is done is done, and she would never forgive herself if he came to harm.

She raises her lantern. It gleams in the gray light, as if born to it. La Sirene opens its lens just a bit, with a gentle motion of her hand. The inverted light pours out of it, up against one of those stirring clouds of ash --

-- and is something lunging in towards the tanks, towards the men, from that other direction, seizing them in a pincer maneuver!? La Sirene knows nothing really is. But sometimes a shadow is enough for a little while. She steps forwards, holding the Pharos high, free hand curled loosely into a fist.

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Brockenspectre on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces La Sirene du Nord's Brockenspectre, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  La Sirene du Nord is Psyched!  Diversion applied to Utena Tenjou!
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ssS-UIKZh8

Endo took the time to eat and recover in the caves underneath the island, getting patched up and back in fighting shape, talking with friends and strangers, and prepare for the assault on Ohtori and Team 2's mission. He's worried about Ren, and his other friends, but he's kept patient. When the time comes he wishes Lera and the rest of the sky team good luck, picks up his Device, and then:

Endo goes to war.

He reflects, as he waits with grim face in his darkened elevator tube, that this is becoming increasing familiar to him. The Golden Age soldiers occupying the school are well-trained and obscenely armed--he recalls how difficult it was just to escape--and those monsters from the forest might still be out there, but this isn't the first time he's done this. And he has help again, an assembled army of old friends and new ones, and complete strangers who want to do keep everyone at school safe.

<WE WILL CRUSH THEM.> Fallen Stern burns a muted violet in the dark. This is what it was made for.

"Making sure nobody gets hurt is the most important thing." Endo doesn't raise his voice over the blaring klaxons, there's no real need to, telepathy and all. "...but, we can crush them just a little bit, right?"

Then the light floods in, the ceiling opens, and to the surface he goes. He keeps going after that. He manages to only scream a little, just for a minute or so, as his upward arc takes him toward the school, fingers clutching his Device, eyes scanning frantically below until he spots what he's looking for: the nearest cluster of heavy ordinance he can find.

"Aaaaaa Steeeeern!" Endo can't really fly, but he sure can fall. The boy points his sword down and it flares with energy, rocketing him groundward as he brings the blade in a whirling arc. Down he goes, smashing into the closest thing he can.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"Cassandra!" Turning into a spin, in which she pulled both ends of her Element taut, a phantasmal image of Kozue Kaoru overlaid her like a twin. A white capped wave crashed throughout the underground launching bay, as the image became an enormous sea bird of prey, resplendantly armored in silver and white. The wave crashed down upon the docks, splashing the HiME who smirked at her arrival.

It leaned head down, metallic bill and all, and Kozue pressed her forehead against the top of her Child's head, just above the crest, carressing the side of her neck lightly with a hand. "Ready to drown some sailors girl?" Two red eyes met hers, then shifted to the side, as it focused on the ugly green mark on Kozue's cheek that indicated a healing bruise.

Kozue grinned for a moment, but that fades after a second, into a look of resolution, "We won't fail him this time. It won't be like with Zoisite." Cassandra said nothing, red eyes shifting closed for a moment. But she probably understood. She took a short hop onto her Child's back, bracing herself with a hand upon her neck. "Besides..."

She squinted as she looked ahead, as two giant metallic bay doors groaned open, the water below them starting to shift in that direction. In the rays of sunlight that drifted inside, she thought she saw a glimpse of blue hair, standing up, walking down an aisle. Another girl in the passenger's seat of her car, and yet another on a rooftop of a school, giggling at their conversation. "...not going to let that little Golden Witch have her way." The bay's finish opening, the light reaching even her now, shining upon HiME and Child. "Here we go!"

Cassandra's wings shifted behind her, glowing bright blue as streams of water flowed from underneath her and twirled about her wings of razors, the waters churning as she rocketed out of the underground and into the bay proper. The shift from dark to light was blinding for the Child that looked like a bright silver speedboat from a distance, rocketing across the sunlit waters, leaving white streams in her wake.

She squints in the light, looking up for the flyers. She's the only one she knows of that's attacking by sea... but she already sees one of them above, flying above, attacking one of the destroyers. She was used to acting as a soloist by now, but... today? There were more important things. She'd better make certain that air support against them is 'delayed'. She waits until she's closer to one of the larger carriers, before... "Do it. No mercy to any of them."

Cassandra lets out a trumpeting screech that ripples across the water, before columns of water erupt all around, the Child glides around in a circle, the columns twisting together before directing them into the deck as a spiral. They split like hungry claws of the deep, gliding like like tentacles of pressurized water across the deck to try and send sailor after sailor sprawling, or better yet, overboard, to damage planes and equipment and hamper their aerial forces. "If I'm going to have to work with them then I'm not going to be outdone by them." She glowers, looking again for Kagutsuchi above.

COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru transforms into Kozue and Cassandra!
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru has used Moonlight Sonata on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Endo Naoki has used Radial Velocity on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Natsuki Kuga [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Natsuki held onto Duran tightly as the elevator lifted them above ground. There was a lot riding on them, that much was clear. They had to ensure their distraction was successful enough to let the other students escape, even if they got injured or worse. Natsuki thought of Shiziru who was most likely still being held captive inside their school. Her blood boils at the thought of her, and any other innocent victims the Golden Age wish to simply toss aside in the name of 'progress.' Natsuki could start to feel the fresh air from outside. Long ago, her mother had been a helpless victim and there had been nothing Natsuki could do to prevent it.

She refused to sit by and let it happen again. Not her her watch.

Natsuki arrives on the surface and she wastes no time to summon her guns and has Duran make a beeline to where the tanks are. She views the gold sigils as targets and smirks.

She was going to enjoy taking this suckers down. "Let's go Duran!" She called to her Child. The wolf howled as they raced along where the tanks are and begins to rapidly.

COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to dodge Endo Naoki's Radial Velocity, taking 45 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Natsuki Kuga has used Lone Hunter on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mercury [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

The chance to recapture Ohtori is something that even after these mere few days Sailor Mercury is downright desperate for. Without much in the way of aerial options, Ami isn't well-suited to the naval battle, even if she might seem that way at first glance -- so land it is.

The first thing she does -- before even leaving the elevator -- is once again call forth the Mercury Goggle. Part of that is for the sake of tactical analysis, of course... but part of it is just to give herself, essentially, sunglasses. It's bright out.

Unlike her rather louder, more aggressive peers, Sailor Mercury starts with a very careful, methodical approach. She takes some time to assess the tank formations. There are about a dozen -- but those weapons are some potentially-dangerous unknowns... She does her best to share what she knows over the din of the battle.

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Kozue Kaoru's Moonlight Sonata, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Kozue Kaoru is Psyched!  Stagger and Stun applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Sailor Mercury has used Mercury Goggle on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to dodge Natsuki Kuga's Lone Hunter, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Natsuki Kuga is Psyched!  Trap applied to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Sailor Mercury's Mercury Goggle, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Analysis performed by Sailor Mercury!  Diversion applied to Utena Tenjou!
<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

For the last few days, Chitose has been doing what the Golden Age wanted out of her. Blood test, shuffling from place to place, the works. So, in a classroom /far far away/ from the forest that got lasered, Chitose lies on the floor, hands under her head, quietly thinking. Not about Searrs, not about Golden Age, or about lasers from space.

Okay, maybe a little bit about the lasers from space. "Hey, can /we/ snipe things from low orbit?" She says, finally, breaking eight hours of silence.

White Omen, tied to Chitose's collar instead of her hair today, has a response ready immediately. <Do you remember what your mother said last time you asked that?>

Chitose snorted. "Yes, 'maybe when you're older'." It takes a few moments for Chitose to remember that she's eighteen and thus that's really old. "Hey, wait a second. Look, can we at least shoot things underwater?"

Otherwise, she's been occupying herself with her life flashing before her eyes. Not that she's about to die, but she's been reviewing her last thirteen years of her life, remembering that she went to this school for the better part of it. And she's especially remembering the conversation with her father, who said she'd be excited to visit her old school again.

"Yes, Father, I'm having so much fun right now." Chitose says, deadpan. "Remind me to make a plaque when this is all over, saying 'The forest was great before it burnt down.'" Involuntary, she remembered the firepower that decimated the forest, and the sounds of the enormous pillar of light.

Which... continued, after the memory ended.

<An attack is happening.>

"Wait, what?" Chitose sits up, then stands up to look directly out the window, seeing the beginning of the attack, with its own lasers, and fire, and arrows. Smiling for the first time in days, Chitose looks to the soldiers guarding them, who are shuffling and running away, probably towards the attacking magicals. "It's time for us to go, right?"


"Gladly." Chitose foot starts tapping the ground. "A-one-two-three-four." With a sweep of her hand, she removes White Omen from her dress and transforms, Barrier Jacket at the ready, and White Omen already around Chitose's hand. She swings herself out the door and opens fire at some of the soldiers, shooting bolts at them.

White Omen considers the situation. <First, we should link up with the other attackers.>

"On my way!" Chitose says, moving through the halls in an attempt to target the guards, on her way towards the front gate.

COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori transforms into Barrier Jacket!
COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori has used Light Bolt on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Chitose Shiratori's Light Bolt, taking 7 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Sirens flash and blare as a great elevator slowly rises from the depths of the earth. Large enough to hold an entire squad of armoured vehicles, or perhaps even some sort of giant robot - it rises almost entirely unpopulated. Its entire cargo consists of a single girl in an Ohtori high school uniform, eyes closed as she rises to the world of sunlight once more.

"Kuga...Mikoto...stay safe." Mai murmurs to herself as the great blast doors overhead open wide, revealing the skies above for the first time in over a day. Those closest to her are in peril - either innocently caught in the line of fire, or joining in the battle against SEARRS on other battlefronts. Much as she wishes she could protect them...

"Takumi...I won't let anything hurt you." There's a loud chunk of metal as the elevator completes its ascent, exposing Mai Tokiha on a fire-blasted knoll. Ashes still drift in the air around her...and she opens her eyes. For everyone back at the school...for the sake of saving everyone she cares about from Artemis's wrath...

She'll fight.


Fire tears across an already-ravaged hill, spreading wide in the form of wings. From the inferno, the fearsome Child rises - Mai already standing atop its head, rings shining in the sunlight. With a mighty screech, the draconic creature declares war against those who would threaten Southern Cross - and takes to the skies, setting out for the sea.

Battleships await. Already, one is under attack from a fearsome hammering strike, another being battered by the waves themselves - and then what Kozue watched for makes its appearance. Kagutsuchi is swift in the air, screeching as it wings its way to a heavily armed cruiser...

Kagutsuchi passes by, tail lashing out swiftly. Mai lashes out in tandem, a less elegant line of flame cleaving alongside that whipping tail - and where they slashed, flames and worse erupt swiftly.

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha transforms into Mai-HiME!
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has used Fearful Flyby on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe perfectly counters Mai Tokiha's Fearful Flyby, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!  Hotaru Tomoe's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe's counterattack, Harpoon Nation, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Mai Tokiha!
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.


"Miki-chan?" Hitomi turns, fingers upraised to her mouth pinky-first and elegantly splayed. "Wherever have you been?"

"Hitomi-chan," Sayaka pants, shouldering her way through the cacophonous crowd, most of whom are pushing their way to the windows to see what's going on. "Please, can you take care of her?"

Hitomi looks down at the small pink bundle in Sayaka's arms. Madoka clings around Sayaka's neck with one arm, the other lying awkwardly across her chest. That second arm is a little too limp, and some of the pressure has been taken off of it by Sayaka's sweatshirt, which is tied around that bicep and across to the other shoulder. Hitomi gazes in shock at her injured friend, then back up at Sayaka, who despite obvious signs of crying is carrying herself with an aggrieved confidence that is unfamiliar to Hitomi. Unbidden, her intuition suggests that Sayaka has found a gun. Her intellect tells her that that answer makes no sense; Sayaka couldn't use one even if she found it. But emotionally that answer fits like a key into the way Sayaka carries herself, rage filling the void where fear should lie.

"All right," Hitomi says. "Come with me, we'll get to the nurse's office."

Sayaka tilts Madoka onto her feet, pressing a hard kiss to her temple, then carefully takes her hands away, watching to see if she topples. Hitomi puts an arm around Madoka's shoulder. "But where are you going?" Hitomi asks. Sayaka is already turning around. "Miki-chan!" Hitomi presses her lips, then turns her attention to Madoka. "Kaname-chan... please don't w-worry. We'll get you taken care of."

Sayaka bumps and shoulders her way through the panicked students, making her way to the roof. When she reaches the final stairwell, she glances around carefully. And when she steps out onto the roof, her gym uniform has been replaced by a glorious white cape, blue breastplate, and tall boots. Walking to the edge of the building, she narrows her eyes, assessing the scene. When she catches sight of a great red spear wreaking death, she leaps off.

As Sayaka sprints along the ground, she comes to the barrier of concertina wire, machine guns, and soldiers that has kept her trapped here all this time. If she had tried to approach it an hour ago she would have been riddled with bullets faster than she could heal from them. Now, they are belaguered from all sides. Sayaka takes a flying leap over a machine gun nest, slinging her sword down through the emplaced weapon as the gunners try to bring it up to fire upon her. Free of the school for the first time in days, she makes haste to Kyouko Sakura.

"You!" she shouts, coming to a halt some twenty yards away, panting. She makes note of the former snipers. "Those are human beings, not Witches! We don't kill people!" She glares into the dispassionate Aviators shielding the redhead's eyes.

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has used Perfect Pitch on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Sayaka Miki's Perfect Pitch, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Sayaka Miki is Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.


Although their arrival was not quiet by any definition, the sheer spread of magical girls all assaulting Ohtori Academy at once is still a major surprise, and it leads to a number of fast gains -- Kyouko's speared snipers; the triple threat of Fuu distracting a tank with an arrow while Mikoto closes and bisects it, and then Hikaru explodes what's left with her fiery blast; Garnet slams into a second tank, driving its treads deeply into the ashy earth while Lance rends it with lightning and Endo delivers the final, whirling blow; Natsuki coolly but rapidly dispatches the nearest soldiers who were accompanying the armored cavalry on foot, blam blam blam blam blam.

There are, unfortunately, somewhat more where that came from, though three fewer because Chitose shot them in the back with her shining bolts of light. As she emerges at the front gate, she gets a clean view of the tactical situation -- one observed in more detail by Sailor Mercury, and fundamentally altered by the spectre of a nonexistent pincing maneuver courtesy of La Sirene du Nord. Mercury sees it coming while La Sirene can tell what she has wrought: a line of tanks roll out from around the corner of one of Ohtori's shining white stone buildings to start turning towards the illusion...

...wasting precious seconds in an angling maneuver that will allow them to shoot essentially no one at all, until they turn back. It's an opportunity to take out a series of the tanks swiftly and decisively--

--IF one can punch a hole through the /other/ flank of tanks, who are very much facing the right general directions. Some nimbler, lighter ones charge forward, trying to simply smear Endo, Lancelot, Mikoto and Garnet under their spiked and electrified(!) treads; their advance is covered by a volley of artillery from the larger, heavier tanks in the back, which explodes with burning green fire on impact towards what can fairly be called the magical girls' back lines -- at least for this heartbeat.

Chitose, flanking as she is, can't be shot by any tanks at all, but there are dozens of soldiers here and several of them decide to try to take her down quick. They whip strange ball-and-string weapons over their head, not unlike a hammer throw, except the hammer is a nicely weighted bolo and when or if it gets a good wrap, it emits an immense electrical charge. And Sayaka, who wholly charges through the lines to escape, chops a machine gun /almost/ in half, but the sword gets stuck on her way through -- the gun is surely disabled, but fixing the impediment to escape takes exactly one second long enough for the panicked trooper to think to throw some impedimentary grenades after her, a mix of smoke and stink and flash. Acridity accompanies her advance to Kyouko's side.


It's beautiful, out at sea. Peaceful for a few last precious moments, the setting sun sparkling on the waves, the winds a little smoky from the remnants of the forest but much more salty and fresh than not.

And then Lera, Kozue and Mai each separately target a different kind of ship, and all hell breaks loose. Raid sirens erupt on the fleet, the sound carrying across the water all the way to the school, but up close and personal it is miserably loud, hard to hear oneself think.

The fore main guns on the destroyer Truth are instantly turned to slag by a screaming bolt of magical lava, crippling its ability to cover all firing angles. It does, however, have plenty of people on that boat arming smaller gun emplacements, and the Midchildan shortly finds herself drowning in a sea of troubles (and bullets).

Kozue, meanwhile, drowns the planes on the deck of the carrier Justice with a single massive wave. Even if they're still functional, the ones left are pointing towards each other, and it will be a big, slow job to get them angled safely for takeoff -- too big and too slow to do under these conditions. The carrier has several smaller escorts, though, gunboats which roar out to intercept the mighty swan and her rider, a furious RAT-TA-TAT-TAT declaring the machine guns' presence a moment before the bullets do.

And Mai... well, she's about to set the deck of the cruiser American Way on fire, maybe light up some promising-looking barrels, when her ride jerks to an abrupt stop, and the disbalancing momentum shift winds up sending the flames wildly off course to extinguish in the ocean. Kagutsuchi's poor tail is impaled by a real monster of a harpoon, though it... probably isn't monstrous enough. More than a pinprick but less than a spear, at least in the scale terms of a dragon, it's attached them for the moment.

A moment the Captain decides to seize, smugging across the bridge with two puffs on his cigar. "That's one of them, one of the HiME -- all fire on the dragon, target it while it can't move!" Hatches open across the ship, and if Kagutsuchi were a kitten he would be driven briefly insane by all the laser pointers marking him on every conceivable surface.

Then they fire.

COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has adjusted her boss levels. She is now ready to take on 13 opponents!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Girls Under Panzer on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Girls Under Panzer on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Girls Under Panzer on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Girls Under Panzer on Garnet.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Artillery Volley on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Artillery Volley on Hikaru Shidou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Artillery Volley on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Artillery Volley on Sailor Mercury.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Artillery Volley on Natsuki Kuga.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Shocking Bolos on Chitose Shiratori.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Grenade Diversity: Redux on Sayaka Miki.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Grenade Diversity: Redux on Kyouko Sakura.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Unlimited Mook Supply on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou accepts Utena Tenjou's Unlimited Mook Supply, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Accelerate applied to Utena Tenjou!  Cleanse! All of Utena Tenjou's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Fire At Will on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Too Many Boats In The Sea on Kozue Kaoru.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Ship Happens on Mai Tokiha.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Tactical Redistribution on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe accepts Hotaru Tomoe's Tactical Redistribution, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Withstand applied to Hotaru Tomoe!  Cleanse! All of Hotaru Tomoe's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's Too Many Boats In The Sea, taking 17 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe is Psyched!
COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Grenade Diversity: Redux, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Kyouko Sakura's Block ability activates!  Kyouko Sakura's Parry ability activates!  Blind, Diversion, and Stagger applied to Kyouko Sakura!
COMBAT: Lancelot narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Girls Under Panzer, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Utena Tenjou is Psyched!  Lancelot's Block ability activates!  Lancelot's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Mercury narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Artillery Volley, taking 2 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi fails to dodge Utena Tenjou's Girls Under Panzer, taking 28 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori fails to dodge Utena Tenjou's Shocking Bolos, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Cripple, Exhausted, Tangle, and Trap applied to Chitose Shiratori!
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord narrowly counters Utena Tenjou's Artillery Volley, taking 9 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord's counterattack, Les Mysteres, partially gets through, doing 9 Fatigue damage to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Lera Camry fails to counter Hotaru Tomoe's Fire At Will, taking 22 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Lera Camry's counterattack, Bombadier Rave, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki narrowly counters Utena Tenjou's Girls Under Panzer, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Endo Naoki's Reverse ability activates!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki's counterattack, Escape Velocity, partially gets through, doing 28 Fatigue damage to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki narrowly counters Utena Tenjou's Grenade Diversity: Redux, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Blind and Stagger applied to Sayaka Miki!
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki's counterattack, Disjunct Chord, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Garnet narrowly dodges Utena Tenjou's Girls Under Panzer, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Garnet's Fade ability activates!  Garnet's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Natsuki Kuga narrowly dodges Utena Tenjou's Artillery Volley, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Natsuki Kuga's Fade ability activates!  Natsuki Kuga's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Lancelot has used Furious Assault on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The lighter tanks roll forward with intent on grinding Knight and Horse beneath their electrofied and spikey treads. Sprakles however is have NONE of their shenanigans. She rears without directive from lance and slams her front legs onto the front armor plating of the advancing tank, and pushes back against the Tnak, bracing the armored thing's charged with Magical Girl Horse power.

Plus, she's jsut having a bad day, and these guys are the unlucky recipients of her Hoovey wrath.

Lancelot doesn't waste a second, leaping from Sparkle's saddle into a spinning summersault that lands him behind the enemy tanke, where he drives Arondight forward, and then leaps back onto Sparkle's saddle as she releases the tank and moves to meet the knight.

He grimaces and flurishes Arondight from saddle back. "I shouldn't have left Merlin in the cave. I bet he won't believe we did that when we tell him."

Sparkles sighs and eyerolls as if to say in Horsey languge, "He's SUCH an old curmugin."

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

The artillery fire -- quite literally green fire, in this case -- gets Ami to cede ground, getting to a slightly better-defended position rather than trying to outrun it entirely. The Senshi stays there for a moment, trying to get a more coordinated picture of the battlefield.

She sees the angling maneuver happening -- it separates some of the tanks from the others, at which point she gets a bright idea; she crosses her arms in front of herself, gathering a bright blue-white ball of energy in front of them. Twirling out from behind cover, she cries out, "Sabao Spray Freezing!"

The tremendous burst of icy-cold fog that issues forth from her arms as she extends them not only threatens to freeze treads and slow turrets, but /also/ might destroy their visibility and cut the two lines of tanks off from one another.

COMBAT: Sailor Mercury has used Sabao Spray Freezing on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to brace Lancelot's Furious Assault, taking 30 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha narrowly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Ship Happens, taking 19 Fatigue damage!  Mai Tokiha's Reverse ability activates!  Mai Tokiha's Tactician ability activates!  Stagger and Stun applied to Mai Tokiha!
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha's counterattack, Dour Mantle, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly dodges Sailor Mercury's Sabao Spray Freezing, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!  Stagger, Stun, and Tangle applied to Utena Tenjou!

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

The bullets come flying in. The crossfire proves difficult for her to escape from. Lera fires a bolt of energy from her Device's hammerhead; the blaze of energy, however, slams into the sea instead of one of the anti-aircraft guns. The bullets catch her; she takes three shots, slashing into her Barrier Jacket, but the protective spells keep them from ripping through her body.

She still gets pushed backward by the guns, though, and tumbles through the air. Lera yelps, before she fires a flight spell. A ring of light erupts from her feet and sends her flying back into the air once more.

She glances off towards Kagutsuchi and Mai; her eyes widen as she gets a good look at the shots firing at the Child. Lera grits her teeth and shakes her head, before she dives in fro the Truth. She does a sharp bank around its starboard side, then comes towards the aft of the ship.

Her eyes lock onto something below the waves: the screw propellers that drive the ship forward. Lera thrusts a gauntleted hand forward.

<Magma Bind!>

Rings of magma energy begin to form -- all around the propeller's immense blades -- and then start to constrict and squeeze.

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Magma Bind on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Natsuki Kuga [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Duran's races as he fires his rapid shots. "Yes," Natsuki mutters as they hit the tanks. "That felt good." However, the tables are swiftly turned as the tanks retaliate and shoots back at them. Duran manages to dodge, but just barely and shakes slightly when he's hit.

"Hang in there, Duran," Natsuki encourages. She glares at the new tank that showed up. "Time to cool you guys hotheads off," she announced as she urged Duran to charge ahead.

"Duran load Frost Cartridge!" Duran howls as his guns load and he fires directly into enemy fire.

COMBAT: Natsuki Kuga has used Frost Cartridge on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

<PRIMITIVE MACHINES.> Fallen Stern is warbling loudly in its ugly, synthesized German voice. Which is more than likely just gibberish to anyone around the pair. But Endo told it the plan was to be distracting, this is apparently how it was interpreted.

Endo, with one tank down thanks to the help of Takeo and Garnet, spends a second to take stock of the situation now that he's landed and things are exploding everywhere. He has just a second to point at the danger approaching before the tanks are upon him, electrified treads and all.

And then he goes to meet one. The boy's magical shield flashes to life around him as he lunges forward, pushing off the ground and rising up and over the machine, cleaving his sword across it as he goes and gritting his teeth as electricity flashes and rakes across his barrier jacket. When he hits ground again he turns toward the row of heavier tanks in the back.


Belkan symbols whirl to life around the sword as Endo activates the spell. Spheres of purple energy streak from its surface, bursting from vents and circuits and steaking through the sky to begin bombarding the rear flank of the occupiers.

COMBAT: Endo Naoki has used Meteor Shower on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Lera Camry's Magma Bind, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Block ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet leaps off the tank she had punched a grave for, and watches Lancelot and Endo's followup attacks with pride. As the tank's explosion is reflected in her shades, she takes a moment to reflect herself, on a job well done. "Good job everyone! We'll keep- "

She's cut off by the sound of the other tanks mobilizing and attempting to run them over! She attempts to backwards vault over their approach, but is hit in the back by the protruding cannon. She fights through the pain and in struggling to adjust to the impact, gracelessly lands behind the tank that attempted to overrun her. She turns, and strikes out at it decisively!

COMBAT: Garnet has used Decisive Punch on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly counters Endo Naoki's Meteor Shower, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Utena Tenjou's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou's counterattack, Hold The Line, partially gets through, doing 8 Fatigue damage to Endo Naoki!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Artillery Volley, taking 10 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly dodges Natsuki Kuga's Frost Cartridge, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!  Tangle and Trap applied to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou perfectly braces Garnet's Decisive Punch, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Brace!
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Behind Mikoto, still whirling after her attack, Hikaru's fire explodes the two halves of the tank. She manages to come to a stop a moment later, the laws of physics not quite leaving her be, just in time for another tank to charge forward and turn her into roadkill. It's too fast for her to react, and the electricity bites into her before the pressure does, seizing all her muscles tight and wrenching a different kind of scream from her lips.

She disappears under the treads.

For a moment, that's all there is to it.

And then the back half of the tank tips uuuup...

Mikoto forces herself up from beneath it, the non-conductive Miroku angled to give her breathing room from the treads. Her feet dig into the ground, and she uses the tightness of her recently electrified muscles to throw herself into the motion. It's less threatening without her usual buildup, perhaps, but the meaning is clear as she follows through with the motion:

She's angling to tip that entire thing over.

And she's using the sharp edge of the blade to do it.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Devastation on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Devastation, taking 7 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Artillery Volley, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Hikaru Shidou's Block ability activates!  Hikaru Shidou's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Kagutsuchi's launch is as impressive as always, a firebird sweeping across the horizon, and the destroyer. Kozue doesn't cheer, she simply grumbles, "Don't screw this up Tokiha. Don't even think about holding b-"

Machine gun fire sweeps across her and her Child, bringing the Swan into a spin, as she desperately tries to deflect some of the fire from the gunboat escorts off her Element's blade and Cassandra tries to bring her armored wings abreast to shield her HiME rider. But by the time it's done, and the wings are brought out of the way... gashes having torn off several of the razor feathers. Kozue has a bleeding graze to the side of her forehead, dripping into her eyes.

If she could glare daggers that could kill everyone that shot at her she would... but... she laughs instead... "You boys really have no idea what you're dealing with. Cass, let's enjoy ourselves a little!" Cassandra starts moving, accelerating swiftly as they weave across the bay, before suddenly she screeches to a halt, drifting into a U-Turn spin like she's a car upon the freeway save the water splashing everywhere, and then immediately changing direction towards the pursuing boats, wings of gleaming razors encircled by streams of pressurized water extending.

She attempts to maneuver to carve through the gun boats with slices of her gleaming wings and tendrils of water that act in concert. Then keeps going, straight towards one of the smaller destroyers, and submerges, HiME and child moving underwater.

Turning ninety degrees abruptly, the Child swipes one razor wing into the side of the boat, not stopping her drive, but shifting it to drag it across the armored hull, as far across the ship as she can manage, until they erupt gleefully from the surface like a hunting fowl that just caught a fish within metallic talons. Water droplets sparkle in sunlight as the Swan child gets some air time, before landing with a great splash. It felt, phenomenal, cutting loose like this against the people who had humiliated her.

COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru has used Toccata on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

La Sirene's shadow does its work, and she sees the tanks turn. Her pale eyes see one in particular that may be bearing her name. She remembers the near miss, when she salvaged Sachiko. She raises the Pharos almost without thought - what else is there to do? -

"Les Mysteres," la Sirene says, her voice soft and almost plaintive. Her right hand windmills up.


And the ink-black silver-thread burst of light smashes ahead and impacts the incoming shell with a gorgeous combination of GREEN into that chaotic emission of occult force, only the backwash spilling out over la Sirene's already devastated hairstyle. As some shell fragments fall to the ground, her eyes fall downwards, looking towards the tanks.

Some dim memory or whispered insight comes to her. Maybe it's the forerunner of that great wave she felt behind her, or how it withdraws behind like a tsunami might. La Sirene runs towards the tanks, in the shadow of Mercury's attack.

It occurs to her while running that she does not know what she plans to do once she's there. This makes her lips thin just a little, but she does brandish her Pharos once more. The flickery unlight precedes her - licking its way up along the sides of the armored titans. If nothing else, perhaps it will cloak her passage.

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Pieces of the Perfect Black on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Kozue Kaoru's Toccata, taking 22 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly counters La Sirene du Nord's Pieces of the Perfect Black, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Utena Tenjou's Tactician ability activates!  Blind applied to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou's counterattack, Suppressing Fire, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to La Sirene du Nord!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

It's entirely possible, when the Wind Knight decided to take on a tank with bow and arrow, that she was remembering a certain scene in a certain movie where a billionaire in powered armor of his own design confronts a tank that shot his armor out of the sky, destroying it with a single relatively small rocket.

Arrows, no matter how magical, GENERALLY don't pack that kind of force. But the Magic Knight of Wind wasn't fighting alone, either, and she calls out thanks to Mikoto and the Fire Knight.

Then she hears cannons firing from another direction, takes a moment to see where the shells might be headed - and dives for cover, actually curling up so as to be a smaller target when the barrage starts landing around her.

Around, yes. Not directly on; one direct hit would certainly ruin her whole day, and far more than that. It's too close for comfort as it is, really.

Then the bombardment subsides - perhaps the gunners turning their direction to other magical girls, or possibly just because they need to reload - and the Wind Knight scrambles back to her feet, taking stock of the situation once again. A more pessimistic magical girl might regret doing so; the Wind Knight just accepts the situation as she sees it - and immediately starts considering how she can change it. Judging by the fact that her next move is to sprint towards the line of tanks and artillery, weaving around craters and fires, she seems to have SOME idea that involves not staying at long range.

In point of fact, what she tries to do is to scramble up on top of one of the tanks, swapping bow for sword thanks to her glove-jewel - and then to simply drive her sword as deep into the turret as she can, behind where the barrel extends from it.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Are These Wires Important on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to dodge Fuu Hououji's Are These Wires Important, taking 12 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Certain persons might grumble about Mai holding back.

She absolutely is.

A cavalcade of bullets and other artillery are launched at the pinned dragon, the abruptness of that halt having thrown Mai off her mount entirely. The HiME herself is quick to fly in front of Kagutsuchi, bringing a shaky barrier to life against the storm of weaponry - but the sheer number of impacts has her crashing against her Child in short order, and no few shots pierce through to annoy the beast.

The sailors below are rewarded for their effort with a ferocious screech from the smoke now billowing around the pair, one answered by Mai rushing back to her Child's head. She hisses reassurance in a quick whisper - "No - they're humans, we don't do that to humans!"

...however much certain allies might have glared at her for that order, Kagutsuchi's disapproving stare outdoes them all. A few more whispers, however, manage to calm the already-building flames...

The smoke clears. For the soldiers' efforts...the dragon still lives, spreading the wings of a phoenix. The HIME still lives, hand on the hilt of the sword impaling Kagutsuchi's jaw. And the both of them - human and inhuman both - have what seem to be a matching pair of smirks.

And then Kagutsuchi flies away, towards another ship. Simply flies, beating mighty wings to gain quite a bit of speed as they approach the next nearest members of the Golden Fleet. A lot of speed on that approach...

And that poor cruiser, having gone through so much effort to become attached to the HIME and Child, might soon be careening out of control towards them.

Once that harpoon finally gives out, Mai and Kagutsuchi gain a bit of height - HiME looking back toward the island. "...please, please let this be enough..." A deep breath, and she turns back to the warships below. "Let's make sure they can't ignore us."

Kagutsuchi's cry of challenge, once more, echoes in the air.

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has used What Do You Call A Traffic Accident At Sea? on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly dodges Mai Tokiha's What Do You Call A Traffic Accident At Sea?, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Mai Tokiha is Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.

The Blue Bother comes into frame and brings trouble with her. Typical. Kyouko tries to cover her eyes to shield them from the flashing bangs but the military grade stuff has an irresistable quality. Blinking the sunspots out of her vision and shaking the tinnitus off of her, she glares at Sayaka, hurling a lance over the Puella Novice's shoulder to bifurcate the mess in the machine gun nest that she'd failed to clean up. No more grenades from that one.

Hoisting another spear up and resting it on her shoulder, she walks to Sayaka with a pronounced scowl, and shoves her in the shoulder with the heel of her palm. "They're trying to kill us and they've done their homework to make sure they can. I'm gonna kill anything that's trying to kill me. You're getting shot at, idiot. Now's not the time for your naive bullshit. Kyuubey gave you swords, not rubber bullets. Whaddaya think that means?"

The light catches along the long narrow shaft of a tank's main gun as the lumbering cavalry crawls around a corner, practically running straight into the two of them. The metal beast jerks back as its driver registers the surprise, then charges forward at full speed to try to crush them. Grunting softly, Kyouko stabs her hand out like she's holding a rapier, thrusting the spear straight into the cannon barrel. Further and further she drives the blade in, and it soon bursts out into the naked air again at the turret's rear, shedding debris before the spearhead lodges itself into the bricks of the building's wall. If the gunner had the sense to twist away and save her skull then the magical girls might be eating machinegun fire in short order..but those treads and the big gun weren't going to be much good while that spear's plugging it up and pinning it down.

"Anyways they're worse than witches, witches eat to live. These people murder because they'd rather kill than get a real job, they don't eat to live, and they're the ones who started this. They knew what they were getting into, don't yell at me just because you still don't."

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

As soon as the Fire Knight shifts course, she hears the sound of gunfire... or artillery fire coming out, and she immediately knows that she's probably been targeted. Thinking quickly, she tries to find something to hide behind, even going as far as to curl herself up into a ball and make herself a small target. But that stuff is huge, and hitting her is no problem. She goes flying across the area, rolling a few times before recovering. She picks up her sword, which landed next to her, and dusts herself off a little. That should've killed an ordinary person, but the Fire Knight is anything but ordinary!

The Fire Knight quickly raises her sword towards the sky, and it seems to be bathed in a magical light. Almost like a cross between fire and light itself. "I am NOT afraid of any of you!" Hikaru yells out as she advances towards the tank again, and slashes her sword towards it, sending forth a crescent-shaped blast of magic at it.

COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has used Masterstroke on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou has used Sword Slash on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose, having been born under and worked for organized crime, knows guns pretty well. From the noble yet overused pistols, to things like submachine guns and assault rifles. These are plentiful here, and a number of bullets do impact her jacket as she makes her way out the door. Chitose was actually kind of expecting getting a tank shell in the face. Golden Age kind of showed how they valued keeping everything intact -- that is to say, not at all, so a tank firing inside the school was a possibility. So when she stepped outside, the bola was not what she was expecting. She jumps to try and take flight, but the bola's arc was anticipating the jump, and they wrapped around her legs. This added weight slowed her down, but the sudden jolt of electricity from it engulfs her body and brings her back down to Earth, Chitose giving a startled yelp as she hits the ground.

Her free arm pushes herself up enough to let her point White Omen directly at the mass of soldiers.

<Starling Shot>

A shot fires, aimed right above the soldiers. Once it arrives, it spins once, then twice, then splits into a number of smaller shots that rain down upon the soldiers.

COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori has used Starling Shot on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to dodge Kyouko Sakura's Masterstroke, taking 37 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to dodge Hikaru Shidou's Sword Slash, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Hikaru Shidou is Psyched!  Stagger and Stun applied to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to brace Chitose Shiratori's Starling Shot, taking 23 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbrnOYyVsAM

Sayaka ends up stumbling from the stink and sensory overload on her way to Kyouko, and once she's there she has to cough out some of the chemical irritant. This, she can't heal.

"It means he never intended for me to fight humans. Puella Magi are supposed to /protect/ people." Sayaka's determination falters slightly at Kyouko's apt comparison between Witches and these Searrs troops. But it doesn't last long.

"A Witch doesn't deserve to live to begin with," she says. "They don't do anything BUT hurt people! They don't even have brains, they're just big balls of hate and pain. Nothing could be more evil."

Sayaka sweeps her sword in the direction of the main tank brigade. "These are people, Anko. They have parents and brothers and sisters, and maybe some of them even have kids. I don't know what their Golden Age is, but I know they think what they're doing is right. They deserve to lose, but they don't deserve to die."

Sayaka springs back as the tank rumbles around the corner, but as usual, Kyouko is faster to respond, and far more ruthless in response. The spear plunges not only through the gun, but all the way to the one who would have fired it. When it withdraws, it drips. Sayaka winces her eyes shut, and hears her own breath draw in.

When they open again, she leaps atop the tank and reaps at the machine gun as she sails, lest the driver get ambitious. Landing atop the vehicle, she drives her current sword through the hatch at a near-horizontal diagonal, pinning it shut like a door latch. She's grown so much since Kyouko first saw her fight; she hasn't paused in this graceful progression yet, and she doesn't pause as she runs up the barrel of the gun as though it were the prow of a ship, finally planting one white boot atop its tip. Ripping a sword from her cape even as it fills with wind and flutters behind her, she points it at Kyouko, shoulders set, mouth flat, breastplate blazing as she gazes down at Kyouko like the first conquistador to make land.

"Enough," she shouts. "Maybe I /am/ naive, maybe I'm just as stupid as you think I am. But I'm not going to watch you kill anyone else. You're strong, right? Well, prove it." Sayaka's eyes are intense as she gazes down over her blade, though her face is expressionless. "I know you can fight regular humans without killing them, even if they /are/ prepared."

Sayaka takes a deep breath. She never thought it would actually come to this. Not even with her. It feels surreal, to step off that edge."And if you can't," Sayaka says, "then you're going to have to fight me instead."

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has used Caprice on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to brace Sayaka Miki's Caprice, taking 21 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hyyglk6FU-I


Lancelot manages to cleanly split the tank that his warhorse Sparkles was holding still for him, and in this moment the worst thing he's going to have to worry about is the shockwave from the subsequent explosion bowling them both over. Mikoto has less luck -- although she manages to heave the tank upwards, using her massive sword as leverage, now it is simply /above/ her rather than toppling over -- until, that is, Fuu jams a sword down the turret. Then, after a muffled internal explosion, it comes apart quite nicely, flaming debris slamming down around both girls. The tankers fall to the ground, too, but even if they're soot-blackened until being shadows with blinky white eyes, they do still have guns, which they level sharply, doing their level best to keep the HiME and Magic Knight from gaining momentum by the simple expedient of filling their general vicinity with incendiary rounds.

Garnet finds herself in trouble when she punches a tank at just the wrong angle, doing no serious damage and leaving her staring down the mouth of an ominously rotating turret; Hikaru rushes in just in time, and the strength behind her magical slash sends the vehicle spinning backwards, kicking up clods of dirt everywhere. It's over but not out, though, and still manages to fire its main gun once at the two of them, which is more than enough to create an explosion which threatens them both.

Natsuki's Duran, meanwhile, explodes an immense frost blast in the midst of the nearer line of tanks, and they can't get fully out of the way in time -- they're held in place for Sailor Mercury to further freeze, Endo to bombard, and la Sirene to run through. The latter two are answered with a great deal of gunfire, especially the illusionist, and it does not abate even after the attacks have -- the first wave of gunners fall back, and a second group wheels forward on fast little jeeps with just ridiculously, unfairly massive armaments attached. How the recoil doesn't flip them all instantaneously is probably some kind of magitechnology in itself. They seem to target Duran with particularly extreme prejudice. And although Chitose has halted her pursuers with a veritable rain of energy-needles, she winds up right in the crossfire, close enough to both parties, the soldiers and magical girls, to see the whites of their eyes...


Kyouko pre-empts the tank sneaking up the lines towards her and Sayaka to do just that, skewering it -- including via the skull of its gunner, a briefly and horrifically graphic moment -- like a butterfly on an index card. It isn't a sight to see for long; another tank comes rolling over the hill, mounted artillery firing straight ahead. It's more of that strangely sticky green fire, which casts the illusion of the return of the forest simply from the hue of its illumination out here, before dispelling it instantly in the same way the forest itself met its toasty demise. The driver of that first tank hunkers within his junkpile, making no attempt to escape or bring the offense, not with that hellfire raining down... and Sayaka's sword keeping the door shut so firmly and perfectly that it might as well be a marvelously engineered lock on a safe. Right now, he thinks -- hopes -- he's safest where he is.


Kozue and her metallic Child execute an awesome maneuver, bisecting the gunboats trying to intercept her before opening up a terrible gout on one of the smaller destroyers, Martha's Vineyard, which immediately begins listing to the side. They wind up landing right near Lera, whose assault on the propellers of Truth is going slightly less swimmingly -- Truth will not be so easily stopped, and while the magma energy has made contact, it is taking alarmingly long to melt or slag the machinery. Maybe it's because they're whirring under water.

...and then Mai leads the American Way on a doomsday trajectory with Truth, and Lera's slowing of the engines becomes crucial. It can't turn out of the way in time, and the two impact with a titanic crash. There's no time to celebrate; the decoy strategy must be working, because parts of the blockade that might otherwise be able to see and stop the ship on its way to rescue the students of the Sister Schools have come up on both sides to flank the magical girls instead.

From /all/ sides, actually, because with a burble and boil, a sleekly black submarine erupts from the ocean, torpedos-first (at Kagutsuchi and Lera), its length going wholly perpendicular to the sea surface before the whole vessel crashes down towards the nearby Cassandra. A veritable tsunami explodes in its wake, walls of water that send the failed Truth and American Way down ever-more-quickly towards the dark deeps.

COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Shockwave and Awe on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Hold The Line on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Hold The Line on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Real Big Guns on Natsuki Kuga.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Real Big Guns on Sailor Mercury.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Real Big Guns on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Real Big Guns on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Real Big Guns on Chitose Shiratori.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Tanks For The Memories on Hikaru Shidou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Tanks For The Memories on Garnet.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Artillery Volley on Kyouko Sakura.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Artillery Volley on Sayaka Miki.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Reinforcements! on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Missile To A-5 on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Son of a Submariner on Kozue Kaoru.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Missile To A-5 on Mai Tokiha.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Reinforcements! on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou accepts Utena Tenjou's Reinforcements!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Utena Tenjou is Reinforced by Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe accepts Hotaru Tomoe's Reinforcements!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe is Reinforced by Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Artillery Volley, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Sayaka Miki's Block ability activates!  Sayaka Miki's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Son of a Submariner, taking 2 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe is Psyched!  Kozue Kaoru's Block ability activates!  Kozue Kaoru's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura narrowly dodges Utena Tenjou's Artillery Volley, taking 12 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Lera Camry narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Missile To A-5, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry's Block ability activates!  Lera Camry's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly dodges Utena Tenjou's Hold The Line, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's Fade ability activates!  Fuu Hououji's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou fails to dodge Utena Tenjou's Tanks For The Memories, taking 49 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Real Big Guns, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Endo Naoki is Quipped!  Endo Naoki's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord fails to dodge Utena Tenjou's Real Big Guns, taking 30 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene du Nord is Quipped!
COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Real Big Guns, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  Chitose Shiratori is Quipped!  Chitose Shiratori's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi narrowly dodges Utena Tenjou's Hold The Line, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi's Fade ability activates!  Mikoto Minagi's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Natsuki Kuga narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Real Big Guns, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Natsuki Kuga is Quipped!
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Missile To A-5, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Mai Tokiha's Block ability activates!
COMBAT: Lancelot narrowly dodges Utena Tenjou's Shockwave and Awe, taking 22 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Garnet narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Tanks For The Memories, taking 14 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

On the plus side, scratch one spectacularly dangerous tank. On the minus side, its crew is still in the fight.

Which is *almost* a relief; the Wind Knight doesn't really want to kill any of the soldiers who are just doing their job - it's not their fault that they're working for a bunch of power-mad oligarchs who think they're entitled to script the world's future history. That really isn't the kind of thing that comes up in most job interviews, and most applicants wouldn't tend to think to ask about details such as that.

However, it's only almost a relief, because no matter what they thought they were putting on their resume, *the soldiers are still shooting at her* ... and the Wind Knight's armor isn't bulletproof enough to deal with that kind of focused and attentive firepower. The Magic Knight of Wind does the best she can to be an uncooperative target, dashing and leaping and doing at least one honest-to-god cartwheel; the last of those is probably somewhat ill-advised (although to be fair, it DID mostly work for Keanu Reeves in that one movie).

While she takes a few hits that she'd have preferred to avoid more cleanly, though, the Magic Knight of Wind manages to come back to her feet while facing in the right direction to turn her attention to one of her mainstay spells: "Winds of Admonishment!!" In response to her invocation, a binding whirlwind rises up, and she attempts to use it to envelop her (and Mikoto's) assailants, and keep them from continuing to fire upon them.

If that were all she had to worry about, the Wind Knight would probably have to make sure Mikoto-san doesn't proceed to kill them. However, there's still an awful lot of Searrs-aligned war machinery to deal with, and another Winds of Admonishment is directed towards another tank nearby - mostly to mess up its ability to aim; the turret is more likely to be susceptible to extreme crosswinds than the main chassis.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Admonishment on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

When the two ships crash together mightily, Lera lets out a whoop and looks up at Mai. She directs a thumbs-up towards Mai.

<Submarine coming up.> Broken Ground's chime makes Lera turn and stare; the black sub comes rising upward, and she finds a torpedo careening directly for her. The Midchildan girl stares for a moment -- and then she shakes her head and yells: "Ground! Block it!"


A shield of green light erupts, just as the torpedo closes in. It slams into the barrier of light and knocks the teenager backward, sending her flying away -- but it doesn't rain shrapnel and fire into her. Lera does a tight roll; then, she banks around, and comes up, breathing hard and staring down at the black submarine.

"We need to handle that thing!" she yells -- not just to her Device, but to Mai (and Kagutsuchi). "I've got an idea, Ground. Uh, depth charges?"

<Got it. Smashing!>

Lera swings the hammer-shaped Device downward. A magical circle appears -- and a massive magical lava ball forms, shooting down for the ocean, near the submarine.

<Magma Bomb.>

The flash underwater briefly makes the ocean burn red -- and then the shockwave erupts, as the lava ball explodes. The fireball breaches the ocean, sending up a huge spray of steam, water, and fire. The shockwave itself strikes for the side of the submarine's hull.

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Magma Bomb on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.


Garnet screams through the searing pain of the explosion, but stays standing, albeit pushed back a foot. She jumps onto the tank that shot at her, grabs it under its cannonhead, and attempts to rip it apart, like breaking the jaws of a giant beast!

If this succeeds, she thinks she will have done enough damage to faux-retreat and draw their pursuit.

<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sqz5dbs5zmo

Lancelot and Sparkles brace themselves and walk firmly away from the tank despite the shockwave rolling over them.

Cool guys. And Their Horses. Don't run from explosions. They turn and walk away.

Gesturing with Arondight, Lancelot calmly says, "Lightning!" The crackling blue lightning dancing around the dazzling white blade leaps out toward another tank. The already churned up ground blackening from the passage of the superheated energy of the lightning bolt.

He swipes Arondight to the side and his head snaps toward another tank, his eyes narrowing as he takes in the battle raging around them. He can feel the blood run free as the begining to heal wound in his shoulder ripped open. He's got a job to do though. He notices the other Knights and salutes them with Arondight's crackling blade. He trots up to the Knights of Fire and Wind and spins the blade. "Lovely day for an Armored Cavalry battle!" He says by way fo greeting. Then leaning casually, and expecting an attack, on the saddle pommel, he asks, "I don't suppose you ladies know where the Command Tank is? If we can disable that guy, we'll buy more of a distraction." He shrugs his good shoulder. "Or. At least that's how it usually goes in video games..."

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Lightning III on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Garnet has used Jawbreaker! on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Natsuki Kuga [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The ice bullets hit the tanks and encase them in ice long enough for Sailor Mercury to do her attack. "Good going!" Natsuki cries.

Then just as fast as before, the tanks strike again. Duran howls and braces himself for the attack. Natsuki ducks for cover as Duran takes on the attack, the clinking of bullets ringing in her ears.

"Thanks, Duran," Natsuki whispers as she pets her Child.

She glares at the tank and leans forward. "Fire full force, Duran!"

Duran howls as he shots again.

COMBAT: Natsuki Kuga has used No Tanks, I'm Good on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Kozue is laughing like a bandit that just got away from the biggest heist of her life as the small destroyer lists to the side in the ocean. Grinning even through the blood haze over her eyes. But... "Nani!?"

Torpedoes shoot out of the water, towards her air support, right as a sleek shining submarine bursts out of the sea. "Cass! QUICK!"

Her Child dips both wings into the water, and begins to trace them across it as it shrieks out a call. The submarine lands... and water crashes down. Her Child breaks into a spin, directing the water of the tsunami to change course, and it does... for the most part. The sheer momentum of directing it around, and thrusts them downward and backward until they briefly disappear beneath the waves.

The two emerge a few moments later, HiME clinging to her neck for dear life as water sloughs off her and her Swan child. Surprisingly she doesn't cough and hack, ready for it and a skilled swimmer at that but her eyes are closed. They open at once, and gleam with malice. "Make them regret surfacing, girl."

Cassandra raises her head, the fan crest upon her head flexing, as she lets out a trumpeting call. From the ocean four columns of water erupt, their tops splitting into three talons each, the spindly limbs of the Nereids come to punish enemies that dared enter their domain. Lera's magma bomb strikes first, and Kozue has to shield her eyes against the glare, briefly looking up at her as she's showered in its steaming wake and set to hissing as she shouts up at her. "Hey watch where you're aiming at!" She's not really hurt, just a bit prickly.

They descend all at once, one clamping upon the bridge, yet another on the hull just over the torpedo tubes. The final two latch ahold of the rudder and propellers. Like a toddler playing with a toy that displeases them, it tries to tear it off piecemeal and finish what Lera started, before shoving it onto its side like she's finished it with.

COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru has used Moonlight Sonata on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo takes a moment to give a thankful wave at Mercury and la Sirene's assist before the knight is busy ducking his head low and half-hiding behind his sword as Fallen Stern brings a barrier of energy up between him and the mass of bullets that come in response to his own volley. There's enough force behind them-and the cannons on the zippy jeeps behind-that one or two puncture through his warding to slam into his barrier jacket and drive him back in a pained stagger.

It doesn't help that he's been burning through his reserves at a rapid-fire pace, panting hard from all the magical energy he's summoned up. Still, he can't stop now. The plan is working, no time for breaks. To that end Endo grips his Device tight, hefting the gigantic sword and charging head-long to meet and slam it into the approaching jeeps.

<FORWARD.> Always forward.

COMBAT: Endo Naoki has used Chaaaarge! on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly dodges Endo Naoki's Chaaaarge!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Endo Naoki is Psyched!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Lancelot's Lightning III, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to brace Natsuki Kuga's No Tanks, I'm Good, taking 17 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou perfectly dodges Fuu Hououji's Winds of Admonishment, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to dodge Garnet's Jawbreaker!, taking 32 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Garnet is Psyched!
COMBAT: Sailor Mercury narrowly dodges Utena Tenjou's Real Big Guns, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Mercury is Quipped!  Sailor Mercury's Fade ability activates!  Sailor Mercury's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Once again, the Fire Knight is hit hard. She goes down again but her will to fight keeps going strong. She struggles to endure the pain as she gets back up and stares down the tank. "You won't win against me! You know, in some games, knights are considered tanks, so you could think of me as a tank of fire!" She smirks a little at that. "Fuu-chan would love that comment," She whispers to herself, before staring down the tank again. "In fact, I think you liked that so much I'll do it again!"

Once again, the magic goes into Hikaru's blade, and once again she swipes at the tank with her magic skills, trying to turn it into a piece of scrap metal!

COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou has used Sword Slash on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to brace Hikaru Shidou's Sword Slash, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Hikaru Shidou is Psyched!  Stagger and Stun applied to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Lera Camry's Magma Bomb, taking 43 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry is Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The tank, thanks to some impromptu teamwork, comes apart.

The people inside the tank do not.

Mikoto whirls in a desperate attempt to keep herself and Miroku safe, running in the opposite direction Fuu takes to try and make it harder for them to target. Bullets tear through her clothes and her skin, though none, thankfully, find purchase anywhere critical. In the end, it isn't mercy for their lives which turns Mikoto away from retaliating -- it's a simple battle decision.

Fuu, you see, has magic which can contain groups of people effectively.

Mikoto has a sword sharp enough to slice through steel.

So when Fuu directs her Winds to interfere with a second tank, Mikoto follows through, charging towards it and bellowing. Unlike Fuu, she is not aiming to befuddle its aim -- she's aiming for destruction, because Mikoto is a simple creature, not given to strategy or thought in the depths of her berserkergang.

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe perfectly dodges Kozue Kaoru's Moonlight Sonata, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Dodge!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi is Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Part of Mai had worried that that madcap scheme wouldn't pay off - but Lera had been giving her target a bad day as well, and the clash of the Truth and the American Way ends in a very expensive disaster. Spying Lera on her flyby, Mai gives the Midchildan mage a thumbs-up. "Nice one, Camry! Now, we just have to-"

She manages to hear the whoosh in time, turning rapidly to see a torpedo screaming through the air towards her and her Child. Baleful crimson light shines once more to take the brunt of the missile's impact - and though its detonation is a force to be reckoned with, the dragon rolls with the explosion. Tail lashing through the air, the dragon screeches challenge once more...

"Did they seriously fire torpedoes?! That's going a little over..." Mai trails off as Kagutsuchi's ear-flaps wiggle - she can only imagine the expression on her Child's face. She lets out a sigh, looking towards the flanking vessels. "Point taken. Looks like Camry and Kaoru have things under control with the submarine...let's see if we can keep up the diversion."

Wings ablaze, Kagutsuchi surges forward towards the left flank of the manoeuvring fleet - surely outnumbered, but speeding along tumultuous waves towards the next wave of the Golden Age's forces. Mai grips the sword hilt by her side, jaw set...and then looks up to the skies, wondering how far away Eclipse One must be at this point.

The HiME takes a deep breath, closing her eyes. Soldiers and sailors on those ships...not entirely innocent in this matter, but not worthy of outright destruction. Still... "...Kagutsuchi. We need to make sure Takumi can...make sure this isn't all in vain. ...Aim low."

The dragon screeches in approval, winging around to the side, and its maw opens with a hiss of steam. A moment, as the very air begins to burn around its shoulders - and it unleashes a fireball that skims through the waves, aimed at the waterlines of the ships' hulls. Mai may be hoping that few Golden Age troops will be belowdecks of the ships in Kagutsuchi's path...

But the Child does not care.

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha transforms into Mai and Kagutsuchi!
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has used Immolation on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Mai Tokiha's Immolation, taking 54 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mercury [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

The enormous guns catch Ami totally off-guard; she does her best to leap out of the way, but with a shot of that staggering size, it's hard not to be staggered no matter what. Sailor Mercury hits the dirt in a big way, and winces as she tries to get back up. She thinks she may have blasted herself in the knee at some point in the leap.

For now, she decides to stay in the ditch that she's landed in; staying low sounds good. She keeps her offense simple and conservative; taking aim at one of the jeeps, she sweeps a hand out with a cry of "Mercury Aqua Mist!"

Icy-cold fresh water issues forth from her hand, aimed squarely for the tires in particular. She then ducks low again, not wanting to make herself an easy target.

COMBAT: Sailor Mercury has used Mercury Aqua Mist on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to dodge Sailor Mercury's Mercury Aqua Mist, taking 24 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Stagger applied to Utena Tenjou!
<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose continues to fire shots at the soldiers, ignoring the tanks and the jeeps and anything else that isn't a more softer target. It's more a matter of prudence than anything else. The soldiers can enter and exit the school, and the tanks and jeeps can't. Okay, they can probably make their own entrances, but Chitose figures it's much harder to hold a location without people inside the location. It's not born from Chitose's brewing discontent against Golden Age or Ohtori (okay, maybe a little). Chitose's lips form a grim line as she gets back up and tries to make her way /across/ the soldiers' line and to the line where all the lovebeams are coming from, trying to free herself of the bola in the process, rogue jolts of electricity still flowing through her.

Of course, that's when everything seems to try and shoot her at the same time. "Watch out!" She shouts. White Omen, acting quickly, throws up a barrier that tries to block the bullets and anything larger. On the bright side, at least a tank isn't shooting them. Still, more than a few shots get through to her, causing her to grimace as she still tries to force her way through enemy lines.

COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori has used Light Arrow on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly dodges Chitose Shiratori's Light Arrow, taking 2 Fatigue damage!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Bullets fire around la Sirene, her darkness veiling her. She gets near a tank, sweeps past it, and is faced abruptly with a jeep -- guns fire directly down at her. Once again, la Sirene du Nord feels the ground beneath her seem to disintegrate, the titanic burst throwing her in the air.

I should be stunned, she thinks as she rises.

I'm not?

Maybe I am and I just don't know it, la Sirene muses further.

But I can't keep thinking forever. They're counting on us, la Sirene thinks further as she hits the peak of her arc and comes down boots first.

"Because this school... is our home!!" she finally shouts, and her voice is /terribly/ resonant and sudden, especially towards people who may have expected her to be a ragdolling sack of, at best, stunned and wounded girl. Her legs hurt, sure, but she's fairly sure if she lands on the driver and kicks at the other members of that jeep's crew...

Their heads will hurt more.

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Occupying Ohtori... That's A Kickin' on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly dodges La Sirene du Nord's Occupying Ohtori... That's A Kickin', taking 11 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene du Nord is Psyched!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.

Kyouko twists away from the main path of the barrage, but the flames edges singe at her skin even as the molten core misses her. Hissing with annoyance, she leaps up to face Sayaka, their foreheads nearly touching, all of her rage on full and unfiltered display.

"You're not gonna watch me kill anyone else? You crossed the line just to catch up with me. You abandoned all those people just to pick a fight with me? And after I risked my butt to spring you out? Are you serious? You were between those hostages and those soldiers, and you changed it so that the soldiers are between you and those hostages...just to use me as an excuse to feel all high and mighty? Again? You're a pathetic joke. Some champion of righteousness you are. You abandoned innocents for a soapbox, you disgusting hypocrite."

She tosses her hair back, jamming a finger against Sayaka's shoulder. "That's good. Now I know what kind of creature you are. I wanna make sure you know what kind of creature I am. I put up with your crap because I don't take you seriously. You're an idiot kid who's going to die like a dog no matter what I do. Whatever, you're not the first. But I'm gonna get a lot less friendly if you start making it harder for me to survive. And if you ever make the mistake of getting me to take you seriously, to think you're a threat, then there is nothing that I will not do to survive, and there won't be anything storybook about it. I'll kill you in your sleep. You do know that I know where you sleep, right? I'll blow up your school with you in it. I'll kill Madoka, and I like Madoka. I'll kill your entire family. If you become my enemy and refuse to let me be and force me to take you seriously then I will do whatever it takes to destroy you. I'm not going to die like our kind do. Not for you or anybody else. I'm gonna do what I have to to live. If you get between me and that then I won't run for the perimeter like a coward. Like you."

She's crying now, as she says this, but it hasn't done a thing to damage her composure or soften her anger. Her pupils are big dark circles and the resolution in them is profound.

"There are a dozen other magical girls that I bet are racking up a body count as we speak, and who knows how many students are getting their brains splattered on the walls because Little Miss Miki is practicing her girl scout routine instead of doing her job. I'm not gonna go out of my way to kill anybody but I'm gonna do what I've gotta do. If you can't accept that world then you'd be better off letting me slice your belly open right here and now. So instead of focusing on your dumb little schoolyard rivalry crap with me, why don't you go yell at the other girls that don't live up to your whacked out expectations? Why don't you go save the people you abandoned, if they're even left to be saved? Why don't you do the job you always talk a big talk about doing, and leave me to do mine?"

She spits on the ground. "I don't even care about any of this shit. I don't know who these people are and I could care less. If you don't drop the crap then I'm cutting a line to the shore and I'm getting off of this trash heap of an island. Get in my way and I'll cut you down too. So what's it gonna be, Princess?"

COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has used RAWR on Sayaka Miki.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki accepts Kyouko Sakura's RAWR, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Sayaka Miki is Quipped!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UroYl6a0p7Y


Students are quietly disappearing from the windows, a fact that's particularly difficult for the soldiers to notice as a group because their backs are largely to the school. It's a pretty subtle cue even for the magical girls, but they have an advantage, which is that a quiet, tentative voice echoes in everyone's minds:

<< The Student Council has been successfully liberated and the evacuation of the school is fully underway. Just keep it up for a few more minutes... >>

Few recognize the voice, because it is rarely raised, but there is a strong impression of gentle nerdiness -- and definitely sincerity.

Not the soldiers can hear it. They're a little busy anyway: while Fuu's whirlwinds completely fail to find much traction on a full-on tank, Mikoto's blade remains its usual unstoppable force, and it doesn't require an immovable object to work. Sparks fly everywhere as she cleaves into it, Miroku ultimately jamming about two thirds of the way through.

That's right when Lancelot's lightning bolt comes thundering in, and while it doesn't harm Mikoto, it might have been a very near thing, all that metal-on-metal considered. A second blast from Duran knocks what's left of the tank off of Miroku. It crumbles, metal grinding and moaning.

Hikaru and Garnet continue to tag-team their own tank, and after the former's mighty slash sends it flying backwards straight into Garnet's waiting arms, the latter tears it to pieces. Chitose's fighting retreat lands her in the hole that the Crystal Gem has created; the Midchildan-style mage, on the other hand, has created a little path of bolt-wounded soldiers behind her.

Endo, meanwhile, charges headlong towards the gun-jeeps. The vanguard jerks out of his way just in time to hydroplane onto Mercury's Aqua Mist -- in a vicious skid, it spins out of control and squarely impacts the one beside it, not least because la Sirene neatly knocked out the driver with the impact of her heels. She'll wind up having to leap to safety before the crash, but has plenty of time to do so, her kicks having forced back the panicking gunners.

At this point the soldiers are in total disarray, and they know it; someone's on their comms, though, and they begin to reorganize beneath the flashbangs and smokescreen of several dozen variable grenades, pulled out of bandoliers in a terrible sort of unison. These guys may be chumps, but they're chumps with numbers and the best gear money can buy. Pressing their advantage would be desperately risky right now, but if the magical girls can overcome the obstacles of burning eyes and nostrils, pain-dulled ears and seized-up lungs, they might be able to strike a critical blow.


Considering her concern about not being shown up, Kozue might not be wildly pleased about the outcome of the next two heartbeats: Lera's shockwave drives the submarine squarely out of range of her own columns of water, which wind up grasping nothing but air. The sub, meanwhile, has already ruptured, rending her not only ineffective but redundant.

And the fireball that Kagutsuchi launches can be seen from horizon to horizon -- it's not a golden blast of light but something bitter orange, like off-brand pain medication on a barbecue. It sears the clouds, creates a monumental eruption of water, and leaves devastation in its wake on an unparalleled scale.

The carrier Justice remains in the battlezone, though, and it refuses to go down without a fight. Bearing down on Kagutsuchi and Cassandra with its main cannon, it gleefully sunders the air with a cacophany of violence, the rapid-fire snare of machine-guns accompanying the vicious basso aria of the cannon's retort.

COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Grenade Diversity: Redux on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Grenade Diversity: Redux on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Grenade Diversity: Redux on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Grenade Diversity: Redux on Natsuki Kuga.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Grenade Diversity: Redux on Hikaru Shidou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Grenade Diversity: Redux on Garnet.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Grenade Diversity: Redux on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Grenade Diversity: Redux on Sailor Mercury.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Grenade Diversity: Redux on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Grenade Diversity: Redux on Kyouko Sakura.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Grenade Diversity: Redux on Sayaka Miki.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Reinforcements! on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou accepts Utena Tenjou's Reinforcements!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Utena Tenjou is Reinforced by Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used There's Always A Bigger Ship on Mai Tokiha.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used There's Always A Bigger Ship on Kozue Kaoru.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Fire At Will on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's There's Always A Bigger Ship, taking 36 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Grenade Diversity: Redux on Chitose Shiratori.
COMBAT: Sailor Mercury narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Grenade Diversity: Redux, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Blind, Diversion, Stagger, and Stun applied to Sailor Mercury!
COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori fails to brace Utena Tenjou's Grenade Diversity: Redux, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Diversion and Stun applied to Chitose Shiratori!
COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Grenade Diversity: Redux, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Kyouko Sakura's Block ability activates!  Kyouko Sakura's Parry ability activates!  Blind, Diversion, Stagger, and Stun applied to Kyouko Sakura!
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki narrowly counters Utena Tenjou's Grenade Diversity: Redux, taking 2 Fatigue damage!  Diversion and Stagger applied to Sayaka Miki!
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki's counterattack, Disjunct Chord, partially gets through, doing 12 Fatigue damage to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Garnet fails to dodge Utena Tenjou's Grenade Diversity: Redux, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Diversion, Stagger, and Stun applied to Garnet!
COMBAT: Lancelot narrowly counters Utena Tenjou's Grenade Diversity: Redux, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Lancelot's Reverse ability activates!  Lancelot's Tactician ability activates!  Blind, Stagger, and Stun applied to Lancelot!
COMBAT: Lancelot's counterattack, Disabling Strike, partially gets through, doing 2 Fatigue damage to Utena Tenjou!  Cripple, Stun, and Trap applied to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's There's Always A Bigger Ship, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Mai Tokiha's Block ability activates!  Mai Tokiha's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Natsuki Kuga narrowly dodges Utena Tenjou's Grenade Diversity: Redux, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Natsuki Kuga's Fade ability activates!  Natsuki Kuga's Flash ability activates!  Blind, Diversion, and Stun applied to Natsuki Kuga!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki narrowly counters Utena Tenjou's Grenade Diversity: Redux, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Endo Naoki's Reverse ability activates!  Blind, Diversion, Stagger, and Stun applied to Endo Naoki!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki's counterattack, Asteroid Rush, partially gets through, doing 5 Fatigue damage to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly counters Utena Tenjou's Grenade Diversity: Redux, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Blind, Diversion, and Stun applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji's counterattack, To the Point, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou perfectly dodges Utena Tenjou's Grenade Diversity: Redux, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Grenade Diversity: Redux, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Blind, Diversion, and Stagger applied to Mikoto Minagi!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Riding up to assist Mikoto and Kuga (Not that they needed. He just ... Knows them.) Lancelot spies the Grenades being tossed his way, and he calls out, "GRENADES!" Sparkles, barrels through and the Knight of Arthurian Legend swats the grenades BACK at the soldiers who tossed them.

Sparkles skids to a halt near Mikoto and Kuga and he nods to the pair. "So. Kuga. Mikoto. How are you doing?" He looks left, and looks right and then left and clears his throat. "Nice sword by the way Mikoto. We should spar sometime! You know. When we're not being shot at by large caliber Sabbath rounds." He means SABOT. But he doesn't know that ...

Sparkles knows that. And she would hoof palm her face if that were possible for a horse to do. Instead she sighs and shakes her head sadly.

"Good talk!" He says, and charges forward toward the disorganized masses. His eyes narrow as he and Sparkles dive into the mess of enemy combatants, Arondight flashing with cerulean arcs of lightning that crackle and let off crashing waves of thunder. He's not aiming to wound, but he's not aiming to kill either. The blade is an implement of battle, it will either wound or kill, or disable, depending on how well the edge is guided to it's target.

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Lightning Slash on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Grenades fly at the Magic Knight of Wind; her initial reaction is to try and swat them back at the soldiers who threw them. Unfortunately, all she has ready to do THAT with is her sword.

Now, if she'd thought to swing with the *flat*, it might have worked pretty well, but cutting a gas grenade open does no good whatsoever - and the flash-bang which arced higher doesn't need any help to go off. "Nngh - !!" The Wind Knight lets out a brief, somewhat distressed and very punctuated cry as she gets overwhelmed by the combination, leaving her staggering.

And not too far away, another young swordswoman is in similar distress. The Wind Knight may not be *seeing* very well at this point, but her ears - while ringing from the flashbang - work well enough to remind her of Mikoto's proximity. While she might not have planned around teaming up with Mikoto-san, the Wind Knight knows her from a few prior encounters, which is all the reason she needs to extend her will on Mikoto's behalf as well as her own. "Winds of Healing!" she calls out, briefly enfolding both herself and Mikoto in the warmth of a soothing, restorative breeze - enough to clear away the fumes of gas grenades, and offset the dazzling or deafening or disorienting effects of flash-bangs and stun grenades.

It takes precious seconds, seconds during which they're both potentially vulnerable - but lumbering around while the effects still linger would leave them *more* vulnerable, and the Wind Knight doesn't intend to permit any casualties among her allies, if there's anything she can do to prevent them.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Fuu Hououji's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Mikoto Minagi's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord narrowly counters Utena Tenjou's Grenade Diversity: Redux, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Blind, Diversion, Stagger, and Stun applied to La Sirene du Nord!
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord's counterattack, Les Mysteres, partially gets through, doing 9 Fatigue damage to Utena Tenjou!
<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet is getting rather tired of these suppression grenades. A grenade lands and explodes next to her, and Garnet is thrown back, stunned and staggered by the audiovisual assault. Thankfully this time, her vision clears after the flash, though her ears will need to be regenerated. She works on shaping their replacements, it will take a moment, but it's worth doing.

Garnet looks over at the line of soliders struggling to reorganize themselves.

"Oh no you don't." She leaps into the air and brings another crushing impact down on top of, and into the ground around them, not to kill them, but rather disrupt their ranks and continue the chaos needed for the rescue efforts!

COMBAT: Garnet has used Leaping Smash! on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Garnet has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Natsuki Kuga [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The shots fire and to Natsuki's joy they're a direct hit. Yet, she has no time to grin in triumph as grenades are thrown her way. "Really?" she cried as Duran attempted to dodge and is mostly successful.

Then she hears it, the evacuation was almost complete and the students were almost out of harms way. Just a few minutes longer.

Natsuki lets out a breathe she hadn't realized she's been holding in. "I hope Mai and the others are doing alright," she whispers to herself. She sets her eyes on the tanks.

"Let's do an encore, Duran! Frost Cartridge!"

Duran howls as another bullet is loaded and set fire, hoping it will literally freeze their enemies in their tracks.

COMBAT: Natsuki Kuga has used Frost Cartridge on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

To say she's not wildly pleased is something of an understatement. Her jaw tenses, and Lera gets a longer glare as the submarine ruptures. Kagutsuchi lighting up the sky, turns her head. And Kozue's shoulders slump just a little. "Not good enough." She whispers, as if remembering the words of some piano teacher in the distant past, a father's disappointment, a brother's disapproving look or facing down a Dark General's mockery.

But she has no time to allow herself to be consumed by such thoughts, as Cassandra wends around for another pass across the bay... she finds herself under heavy assault by the Justice. The shell of a main gun bursts right beside the HiME, and the shriek of HiME joins the screeh of Child as she's blown off Cassandra's back, sent flying through the air, until she skips like a stone upon the water and comes to a rest.

She doesn't sink, though she might prefer if she had, it might have spared her this humiliating display. In charred PE uniform, and battered body, she stands up on the water like the feet of a bird who has evolved not to break surface tension. Cassandra isn't looking so hot, her neck listing and drooped on the surface of the water, one wing looks almost shattered given all the twisted metal, eyes drooped close. And more shots are coming.

Kozue limps over to her, looking almost as bad from how she drags one of her legs across the surface, she lays her arms across her neck. "C- Come on Cass. Can't... run off the stage yet. Can't do that again." The swan Child opens one glowing red eye fully, looking at her, before it raises its pinions, and makes a pathetic trill of agony. "Dive girl. Please dive. We've got this."

The swan slips into the water like a listless duck searching for fish just under before machine guns pepper the spot they just sat upon. They dive down further and further, HiME hanging onto her neck. It's difficult to conduct with one limb, but they try. Once down there, the Child lifts its one good wing, and begins to swim, the Swan a maestro that invokes the sea, with flowing movements of the wing, the tail pinions, the bill from the swaying of the neck.

She swims in a line underneath the blockade, then begins to whirl around the edges of it in a circle. It croons in an echoing call beneath the waves, a lovely song of Poseidon's Court, heralding that which is to come... as Kozue concentrates.

COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru has used La Mer: Prelude on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo does a little skidding of his own as jeeps go all a-tumbling and skidding around him, attempting to make an about-face to find one to go chasing down. At least, that's the plan before the grenades start falling on the battlefield.

His hand rises to protect his face as flashes and explosions begin to erupt everywhere, attempting to bat and kick several back, but there's a whole lot more than he can catch. The bangs of light and sound are disorienting enough to make him stumble to a knee as he tries to change direction, world a-wobble from the concussions.

"Where'd they--" He's about to say more before the voice comes through on the status of the evacuated students. That news is enough to bolster him to get back to his feet with the help of a little leverage from his sword.

"Okay. Just a little more, Stern. Let's make this count."

<PREPARING.> Belkan symbols shimmer in the air around Endo and his device, the dark metal starting to puff out steam and blaze bright as it charges up. <OVERDRIVE.> By the time the smoke starts to clear the purple gem in the blades crossguard pulsing brightly, the metal whirring and vibrating with energy.

COMBAT: Endo Naoki has used Overdrive Mode on Endo Naoki.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mercury [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Dangerously close to a flashbang as she is, Sailor Mercury ends up dazed and disoriented; she takes a few moments to try to compose herself, shrinking down for a few moments... but even in her current state, she sees that there's an opportunity she needs to take.

Climbing out of her little bunker, the Senshi staggers forward irregularly, trying to get herself into a better position. If ever there was a time to press forward, it's now -- and so, Sailor Mercury raises her hands high, calling forth much more power than before.

A wave of water starts to gather behind her as she cries out, "Mercury... Crash..." Slamming her hands straight down in front of her, the wave springs forward and then issues forth with tremendous force, as she finishes, "Launcher!"

COMBAT: Sailor Mercury has used Mercury Crash Launcher on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

For a moment, the sea is ablaze.

Not literally - even Kagutsuchi cutting loose won't unleash that much destruction - but in the darkening skies of twilight, the inferno in that single blast's wake reflects baleful light from the ocean and scatters the clouds. Perhaps the Child held back - perhaps not - but as Mai watches ships sinking left and right, she's torn between pride and horror.

It's an indecision that will have to wait, as Mai and Kagutsuchi have to content with the firepower of Justice. A single wingbeat takes the pair away from the surface of the water, and Mai's rings spin in a ferocious blaze - artillery shot after artillery shot smashing against the flames wreathing a dragon. Perhaps some find their mark - but all they seem to do is infuriate the dragon even further. Cylinders pop out of his back, and begin to spin...

And Mai puts a hand to the sword, holding another to her ear. She's wearing no radio, and yet she heard a helpful voice. "...that's enough, Kagutsuchi. You don't need to wreck everything - we just have to stop that ship from chasing down the students."

The high pitch of looming destruction slows to a halt, and the fire-bearing HiME breathes a sigh of relief.

The guns of that final ship are reloading for a few seconds, and it's on this lapse that Mai and Kagutsuchi capitalize. The dragon flies high above the water this time, swooping in on a direct assault with alarming alacrity - and it's one where they get in close and personal. Claws, this time - the vicious claws of Kagutsuchi himself smashing into the ship's, just as Mai unleashes a claw-like pillar of flame to accompany them. One, two, three strikes to smash into the aft end of Justice -

- and then just as swiftly as they stormed in, they take off once more. A good hit would scuttle the ship, a brutal one might sink it - but even if the ship is merely slowed, Mai and Kagutsuchi claim the air in victory, so as to see the state of the island as a whole. The dragon lets out a triumphant cry, as the final moments of this clash become clear...

The Golden Age fleet seems to have been successfully 'distracted' from the escaping students.

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha transforms into Mai-HiME!
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has used Vehement Ignition on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Endo Naoki accepts Endo Naoki's Overdrive Mode, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Empower and Surge applied to Endo Naoki!
<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Somehow, the Fire Knight avoids being hit by the incoming attack this time! She's got a bit of adrenaline within her still, and even though she's wounded, she's still got the burning urge to fight! She looks around and her colleagues, then towards the tank again. "This is getting old fast! I think we need to send you back to where you belong! Let me give you a taste of what to expect!" She sends forth another blast of fire.

COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou has used Fire Arrow on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mikoto whirls, Miroku flashes... only for her momentum to be stopped, most of the way through the tank. Mikoto grimaces, squaring her stance to finish the job, but --

There's lightning. Mikoto flinches, but this electricity isn't meant for her -- it surges into the tank, and Duran's shots drive metal off obsidian metal, the ruined tank crashing down. Mikoto jumps back, which puts her in proximity to Fuu again. Lancelot's warning of grenades is useful information, and Mikoto ducks to try and protect herself - his attempts to banter are not, and receive no response.

The problem with these grenades, however, is that they're not explosive; they're full of acrid smoke. Mikoto cries out, a strangled sound, as one hand leaves Miroku's grip to paw at her face. It /burns/ and she can't /see/ and she can't /breathe/! But the cloud around her is blown away by a gentle breeze, and Mikoto /can/ see, and she /can/ breathe, and she's familiar enough with Fuu's magic to know who has done that for her. She nods to her, firmly, and turns her attention back to the now-retreating ranks of her enemies.

They're trying to escape. To regroup. To continue controlling her Lord Brother here with the others, even after that soft voice assures them they've almost won.


Mikoto won't let them.

She charges forward with a wild cry, Miroku's blade skimming against the ground and sparking against the bits of destroyed tank it bisects on its way. She crouches against the ground for a split second and then /leaps/, landing on the top of one of their precious few remaining tanks. Miroku comes down on it, slicing it through with force which could bisect a cruise ship, and she jumps away in what can only be described as one fluid motion.

This places her squarely in the midsts of the enemy.

Even wounded, even panting like a warhorse, they might think twice about trying to overwhelm her.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Death on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Lera Camry fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's Fire At Will, taking 22 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sayaka cedes two steps to Kyouko as the red-mane mounts the cannon, then another as she's pushed in the shoulder. Defending herself with violence doesn't even occur to her. I they are to come to blows, Sayaka does not think it will happen like that. It won't be an accident of small escalations. It will be a declaration of war.

It seems Kyouko has never thought much of Sayaka. Sayaka doesn't think much of Sayaka either, though she gets by. But she's started to think she can do more, be more, and the picture Kyouko paints is a painful one. Sayaka can't swallow right.

What do Kyouko's tears mean? How much do they weigh? They don't mean as much as Madoka. Small as she is, they don't weigh as much as Madoka. Sayaka hardens herself against them. She turns her head, her hair shadowing her eyes.

"Don't act like you don't know why I started with you. You were there the very first night. You taught me how to use The Bat. If you want me to explain why I'm picking a fight with you, explain why you only opened /my/ cell."

Sayaka shows her eyes again, along with a sad grimace shaped like a smile. "But neither of us need to explain anything anymore, right? We know what kind of creatures we are. I'm a coward, and you're a monster."

Sayaka should perhaps be tense, ready for an assault, but in fact she is loose, her bare shoulders recklessly lank. "People look up to us, you know that, right? The Sailor V game, the Pretty Cure crane. Madoka... I'm never letting you near her again. But you've seen her notebook. You're in her notebook." Sayaka hand shakes on her hilt for a moment. "Most of them don't think the stories are true, and even if they do they don't know what it's like. But we're all they have, either way. There are people who get to live and smile and eat good food today because of what we do. Using that power to kill people... I can't forgive that."

Sayaka takes a few steps back again, but this time it isn't because she's intimidated, and her eyes meet Kyouko's firmly. "So that's it. We really are enemies. It will be hard to win without you, but it's better than letting more people die. We can get stabbed and shot and get up again. So that's our job too, I guess. That's fine. That's why we have this power."

Sayaka turns her back on Kyouko. It's trust, not disdain, but it's also more rejection than trust. "I'll take your advice. I'll stop all the other girls, too. None of us have the right to use our powers cruelly or selfishly. I believe that we can win the way Mami-senpai taught me. So there's no room for you here, or anyone like you." Sayaka lifts a foot off the barrel of the gun, and drops off of it, a living pennant of rippling white.

"This battle is for magical girls."

COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to brace Lancelot's Lightning Slash, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Lancelot is Psyched!  Blind and Stagger applied to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Garnet's Leaping Smash!, taking 6 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to brace Natsuki Kuga's Frost Cartridge, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Tangle and Trap applied to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has used Mermaid Errant on Sayaka Miki.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Sailor Mercury's Mercury Crash Launcher, taking 22 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to brace Hikaru Shidou's Fire Arrow, taking 26 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki accepts Sayaka Miki's Mermaid Errant, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Withstand applied to Sayaka Miki!  Cleanse! All of Sayaka Miki's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to brace Mikoto Minagi's Finisher, Obsidian Blade: Death, taking 135 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose slowly strides her way through the enemy lines, through the explosions, through the /bullets/, and through the mass of soldiers! She manages to find a hole to fox her way into, and ducks for a few moments to get her bearings straight and to re-orient herself before re-joining the fight.

Suddenly, White Omen shouts. <Watch out! Explosive!> One of the variable grenades land right at the edge of the hole and detonates. Chitose manages to cover her eyes in time, but the sound of the explosion manages to pulse its way through her ears, and Chitose, once the flare goes away, reverts to covering her ears, though the damage has passed. "Aaah!" Growling at, well, everything that's happened in the last few days, she swings White Omen to point directly at the soldiers.

<Thunder Dove>

Stylized light birds are shot out, which fly at the soldiers, then suddenly sweep upwards and then immediately downwards, and if the birds find their marks, they explode.

COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori has used Thunder Dove on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to brace Chitose Shiratori's Thunder Dove, taking 17 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"Sorry!" Lera shouts in Kozue's direction, but she doesn't pay her glare terribly much more mind. (Really, she misses most of her facial expression in the spray of water from the successful detonation).

Lera winces at the fireball, before she turns in midair, and stares at the fireball from Kagutsuchi -- and the enormous aircraft carrier. Her nose wrinkles; her eyes narrow. The Mage drops down towards the carrier, considering for a moment. "Any ideas, Ground?" she asks. She looks down at the Justice, as Kagutsuchi tears into it with the claws.

<Looks like it has aircraft.> The Device chimes, then hesitates. <Don't like it having aircraft.>

"Me either," Lera says. She glances down at the water -- taking note of Cassandra's movements, Kozue on her back -- and then she glances at Mai. She shouts: "I'm going to take out the aircraft! Try to keep clear of the deck!"

True to her promise, Broken Ground's hammerhead has split into two halves. The gem in the center gleams. Motes of light begin to gather, soaring and surging into it. Lera's feet land on a shimmering, spinning Midchildan magical circle in the air. She points the weapon down towards aircraft carrier -- then she closes her eyes, letting out a long breath.

"Wide area formation, Ground," she says. "Make sure we're hitting the thrusters, not the cockpits."

<Done. Targets locked.> Lera's eyes open; the central gem pulses with light. <Bombadier Cascade.>

A hundred bolts of light erupt, firing out from the hammer at once. Instead of converging one one target, they spread across the Justice's flight deck -- and descend line a rain of light and fire. The bolts of energy slash at the thruster nozzles, afterburners, and rotors of the aircraft all across the carrier's deck. Stray shots pepper the deck, too, and trace out a pattern:


<Thank you for the 'targeting corrections,' Soaring Sky,> Broken Ground says.

<Anytime!> Sky chimes back.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Lera Camry has used Bombadier Cascade on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Lera Camry's Finisher, Bombadier Cascade, taking 131 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

La Sirene's feet kick at those soldiers a few times before she debarks. Any dreams of getting hold of the jeep herself fade, but not every dream is meant to be. She lands in the ash-choked mud, sweeps her hands over her dress, and straightens up -

Just in time to see a barrage of grenades coming towards her.

She sinks to a slight crouch, raises her left hand, and does the charm once more. Sure enough it does send a few of the grenades bouncing back, and were they simple grenades this would have preserved her. But some fell to the side of la Sirene, and THOSE burst - stinging gas slides out. Her eyes water, her mouth feeling desperate for air shortly as her throat clogs up too.

She skids for a moment, sinking to one knee. Her arms fall, the Brazen Pharos banging on her knee with a peculiarly resonant clank.

For a moment, she thinks she's drowning.

no, she thinks. "No," she husks.

La Sirene's eyes water. Tears run down her cheeks. They gleam in the light of war. Her eyes open again, now - for a heart-stopping second - completely blank.

People whirl in her mind. Kozue. Madoka. Usagi. Utena, Batiste, Shimanouchi Arisugawa, Wakaba, even the ones she has fear of - Nanami, Himemiya - Not all of them at this school but all of them people who have reached out to her, impacted her. They left marks on her heart.

Her eyes focus again.

"Get Out Of My Home" she says aloud like she's speaking clearly into a powerful amplifier stack. Her throat glitters with light even as her eyes lose their cloudiness, as the tears on her cheeks dry. She pushes herself up to her feet as she does, tossing her ragged hair back. "GET!" she concludes, heedless of the guns, sweeping the dark and glittering brass lantern ahead of her.

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Salute the Four Corners on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sayaka's feet patter rapidly beneath her cape as she zips over the war-torn landscape. The great hailstorm of toxic, booming explosions forces her to zig and zag, and occasionaly to bat away a grenade with the flat of her blade. One such grenade gets smacked into a small infantry unit, where it sickens and blinds. Another goes under a tank, where it does nothing useful at all. But Sayaka leaps up and mounts the assault vehicle, and this time her goal is more ambitions.

She lands with a stomp atop the machine gun, giving its ammo box a violent kick. As the turret whirls to try and strike her off, she swings her sword to meet it. The blade shatters, not built for such a titanic parry, but Sayaka rolls beneath the turret and summons another, larger sword. Two-handed, thicker. She begin to hew at the barrel as it tries to pull back around.

Maybe the troops inside will pop out and shoot her. She'll heal.

Maybe a chopper will rake across the tank with its guns. She'll heal.

Maybe more grenades, maybe an Orphan, maybe one day Kyouko Sakura. She'll take it. She'll take all of it and she'll live. That was the gift Kyuubey gave her and now Sayaka knows the reason for it.

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has used Furioso on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klvUH-JWFQA&index=1&list=PLqc913d10gTPfGNqRtza37IYFKU2Wyh_t

Kyouko's eyes screwed shut. She doesn't understand why it feels like the wind has been knocked out of her, like a heavy metal had been poured into her gut so pin her lungs into paralyzed breathlessness. It's a distinctive sensation, one that she'd experienced few enough times to remember them with clarity. The last time she felt it was after the fire, in the mugging turned beating where she understood how she could move forward. She didn't think she'd ever feel that way again. Puella Magi are too well armored for that, aren't they?

Sayaka said something that can't be denied. She's always at her most infuriating when that happens, but this one is particularly on the mark. She was there, there the very first night. Taught her to fight and encouraged her to keep fighting. Everybody should do what they can to protect themselves. There are no walls in the world, not really, nothing truly off limits or safe. Kyouko believes that absolutely, but when her teasing encouragements of self defense blossomed into something more than that it sickened her, and has sickened her since. Sayaka chose a life that should only be chosen as a last resort and Kyouko knows that she may well have been the sand that tipped the scale.

She's tried to make her understand ever since. It's too late to undo the damage...but she can make the best of a terrible situation. Kyouko has...she knows Sayaka could too. But if she just...keeps on, like this..Kyouko's seen the dead faces of girls her age more than she likes to think about. Faces of terror, of pain, of confusion and serenity and acceptance. Of relief. Many died with the tragic pointlessness so common to the Magi. Many died because of Kyouko...but when the day comes that she sees Sayaka's empty eyes and broken body she'll know it was her fault, and for no reason at all. The idea of it is repulsive to her, but she can't account for why it tears her up in her belly...how it got past her armor.

Her voice is small. Under the din of the battle a normal person could never have heard it, and even then Sayaka would have to try in order to manage. "Because you could get away. Because if I freed everybody then they would have been discovered and shot, unarmed and panicking. Because you can't have it all. Why can't you understand that?"

She grins a crooked grin, an uncomfortable and ungainly thing grafted on inexpertly.

"I wish your way worked. I wish I could be what you think I should be. I wish you could too." She wipes the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand. Suddenly they burn terribly at the corners of her eyes, too much saline and not enough water. Angry red lines of irritation weather alongside the tears' trails. Her voice is ragged, but louder now.

"If the day ever comes, just come at me head on. Don't make me look for you. Don't make me find you. Come at me straight and I won't touch a soul. I don't want to, so come at me straight, if the day ever comes."

She shakes her hair, almost as if she's trying to snap herself out of something. She closes her eyes as a grenade goes off under her feet. Her instincts and general tension square her against the worst of it, but the titans rain hammerblows down on her ears all the same. "You're not my enemy yet. I don't want you to be. It's up to you if you do. If I ever draw your blood then it'll be because you walk straight into it. You'll be able to turn around before you do."

She straightens, and stills. Whatever has been glimpsing through is lost beneath a surface that has darkened back to opacity. "We're not like them. They're blessed. We're cursed. I hope that you can understand that soon..even with all that comes with. Mami understands this better than you'd think.

Another barrage, another puff of smoke. She's gone by the time it clears.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFqKHgd0eB0

The army tries with all its might to regroup, but it's hard to retreat in an organized fashion when Sir Lancelot is right there with you, laying about with steel and lightning with equal aplomb; when a Crystal Gem slams into the ground ahead of you, shockwaves sending you flying; when frozen blasts from Duran's ice cartridges stop you in your tracks, leaving you immobile from the legs down; when Sailor Mercury summons a wave from her heart, stronger than any in the sea, crushing everything before her; when Hikaru's fire arrow explodes against the final rush of that wave, coating everything in a painful gout of steam, punctured by Chitose's explosive birds of light, which send whorls of superheated water swirling in all directions, pushed even further onwards by la Sirene's powerful condemnation; when admidst all that, heedless of the burns that rise and fall and rise again on her skin, a white-cloaked Puella Magi wields a blunt instrument of a sword in a grim requiem.

By the time Mikoto has bisected the final tank with a single, massive, yet somehow effortless-looking slice, her landing may be amid soldiers, but none of them are moving to intercept her. Indeed, they're beginning to put down their weapons -- this battle is over. Out to sea, too, by the time Kozue resurfaces she can see that Kagutsuchi's claws, the flames summoned by Mai's magatama, and Lera's verbose bombardment have collectively put an end to the any threat posed by Justice, and with it, the last ship that could mount a serious offense against either magical girls or the evacuation efforts.

A hush quickly overtakes the island. It's a strange moment, almost painfully surreal juxtaposed against the impossibly harsh soundtrack of detonating ordinance that ended not thirty seconds ago. There's a feeling of vertigo, of standing at the center of the world while everything rotates around you.

But it's only the eye of the storm.

                    Who are those little girls in pain
         Just trapped in the castle on the dark side of the moon?
                  Twelve of them shining bright in vain
               Like flowers that blossom just once in years

The song carries in the lull of battle, more sweet and poignant than ever. Some have heard it performed at festivals, choir competitions; others might not forget its resonance shortly before the bridge exploded, beginning all of this, intertwined with the silvery strains of a second vocalist.

It requires no such accompaniment, though, no strings or bells and certainly no singers. Alyssa's voice is an impossibly fine instrument, possessed of a purity and passion that only those who really love music can attain, and it creates massive cognative dissonance to recall the same voice threatening to condemn thousands of innocents to death not two days ago.

           They're dancing in the shadow like whispers of love
           Just dreaming of a place where they're free as doves
          They're never been allowed to love in this cursed cage
                  It's only the fairy tale they believe

Alyssa Searrs stands at the edge of the island, easy to see now that there's no forest in the way. She's accompanied only by one person, and no soldier, of course, but instead a slender, deadly woman -- or something like a woman. Those who faced Miyu Greer with the forest burning around them have reason to question her humanity.

The ships having been pacified behind them, she finishes her song just as Lera, Mai and Kozue return to the island, trailing off. Her tiny hands are clenched into fists, clutching pieces of her black skirts. She looks tired, but severe, like a schoolteacher in a body that has yet to hit double digits.

"Just because it's a satellite... doesn't mean it's always moving at the same speed."


Deep below, in the Obsidian Palace where the magical girls gathered for their counterstrike, alarms blare on the many reconnaisance screens. One of them carries a feed from space.

Headmistress Mashiro gasps, gripping the arm of her chair. "It's right above us!"


Alyssa continues gravely, "The students can run wherever they want, but they cannot escape Artemis' blast." She simply pre-empts the cacophany of objections, of questions. She's heard them all before, some very recently.

"We fight because we have conviction in regard to the correct use of our powers... while you other HiME, on the other hand, have no purpose. That's why you're always looking for reasons to fight -- you believe in nothing, and have no resolve. You don't know what you desire, or what you should be doing."

She closes her eyes, resigned. Miyu places a hand on her shoulder, a hand that crushes rebar into pulp, so gently that it wouldn't, couldn't crack an egg, or startle a baby bird into flight.

Alyssa's eyes reopen, her baby blues steely with resolve.

"We cannot allow people like you to take the power of the star. And since you won't surrender to the Searrs Foundation... you leave me no choice."

She reaches up and tugs the ribbon out of her long, spikey blond hair. It springs to life immediately, as though it is a creature of its own. As though caught in a tempest that only it can feel -- in fact, a thermal updraft from the sheer amount of power now emanating from Alyssa's little body -- it swirls upwards, turning that beautiful, terrible, and all too familiar hue of brilliant gold.

The sky responds immediately, painted yet again with the auroral herald of the destruction to come, as though the girl's hair has been magnified.


On the Headmistress' feed, the satellite -- which is normally roughly an inverted pyramid, with a green orb on the top -- is abruptly surrounded by a pair of interlocking rings, two begemmed moebius strips which have materialized from nothing, the hallmark of the HiME.

Eclipse 1 responds immediately, transmuting from cold steel to bright gold as a number of radial edges flare off of it in all directions, and the tip of the pyramid splits in half, becoming the sides of a cannon, one powered by the orb.

Power comes from many places and manifests in many forms, but few are more spectacular than the fury of Artemis. It takes several long seconds for the charge to build, crackling hungrily, gathering in on itself, compressing, refining...



At first it's just a speck, a smear of light, a falling star. The aurora intensifies to greet its source, which punches through the highest clouds without noticing they're there, surely the same fate of anything or anyone else who gets in its path.

The golden beam pours downwards, directly towards the far side of the school, where the evacuation has only just begun. Its path of destruction is surely wide enough to include much of the route to the hidden evacuation ship. It is quite possible that the only survivors will be the magical girls themselves, by dint of their separation from the innocent student body.

En route to the cruise ship or at the edge of the school grounds, the students and staff have been kept orderly, efficient, and quiet in their departure due to the efforts of the third team of magical girls -- and the Student Councils. They may wear different colored uniforms, but they're united in their purpose...

...and now in their death.

Ohtori, Infinity, Juuban... thousands of eyes gaze upwards in wonder and horror at the gorgeous sight of their oncoming demise.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Mai-HiME - Mezame https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rudziat8H_k

As the last of the Golden Fleet lies in ruins, Mai and Kagutsuchi wing their way back toward Southern Cross Island. She can't help but laugh at the disaster-scribed message left by Lera, and gives the girl a thumbs up in passing; Cassandra and Kozue earn a look of concern long enough that Kagutsuchi croons in sympathy.

They arrive in time to be met with Alyssa Searrs and Miyu - something that gives girl and dragon a moment's pause. And then - Mai's eyes widen in horror as the truth of Alyssa's words strike home. "You can't be serious...why? Why inflict all this...horror? What reason..."

And Alyssa gives her reasons. Conviction, and no more.

For the third time in a handful of days, the skies shine with a dreadful golden aurora. Light as bright as day, possessed of a baleful beauty, casts looming shadows over all of Southern Cross Island...

And then there is a single screamed word, answered by a tremendous noise.


It's the sound of an inferno's roar, the sound of a phoenix's wingbeat, the sound of a dragon surging into the skies with a speed borne of desperate determination. There's a fleeting cry as it rises - surpassed by that great roar of wind and flame as it climbs higher and higher. With every moment, it ascends into heavens that grow brighter and brighter.

In moments, the Child is visible across the island, prominent in the skies - and sharp eyes might pick out the fiery hair of the HiME standing proudly atop its head.

"Resolve? You want to talk about resolve and conviction?" There's no one with Mai but Kagutsuchi himself to hear her response to Alyssa. Gaze fixed on those shining skies overhead, she clenches one trembling hand. "You're wrong. All you're determined to do is hurt everyone for the sake of some twisted dream, but I..."

Memories come to mind. Countless fleeting moments, the faces of everyone she can even think of to care about.

Classmates - cheerfully offering the hand of friendship, no matter how many times she had to turn them down. Groaning over brutal assignments, gossiping about the latest Ohtori news, mildly teasing Mai about the rumours around her...

Coworkers - from Midori to Akane to Kazu to Madoka, and too many others to name, helping hold the line against the endless parade of diner customers. Broken dishes, messy walls, and a camaraderie born of something friendlier than a true war.

Comrades. She doesn't share Fuu's interests, but the girl is at least pleasant. Mami is someone Mai can never truly get along with, but she's a force for good all the same. Fate, a girl born to heartbreaking circumstance, saddled with more guilt than she's earned. La Sirene du Nord, an ominous girl who still stood to help her brother. Kozue, a fellow HiME with words that infuriated her beyond belief - but with whom she can still empathize. Gordon the rabbit, offering cooking advice to even those not his students. And others - too many to even begin to name.

Friends. Close friends have always hard to come by, but a handful come to mind in these moments. Lera went from an American stranger to a potential enemy to more and more of a friend, as time led to understanding. Usagi, cheerful and earnest, determined to care for everyone and eat to her heart's content. Natsuki, who warned her then helped her then wound up joining her as a fellow lover of coffee. Takeo, an absolute goof, and someone who...might not get that next dance after all.

And family.

Eri. A gardener, close as a sister, caught in a worse and worse situation Mai can't help her out of...and so all she can do is offer comfort and care.

Takumi. Her brother, precious beyond anything she could conceive of - cursed by fate, but never complaining. And one day...one day, he'll have a good life, she's sure of it.

Mikoto. They've saved each other more times than can be counted. Devoted, and honest, and...

Mai's eyes, fixed on that shining golden aurora, brim with tears. Her hands are trembling, her body shaking as Artemis's terrific power becomes more and more brilliant...but her conviction does not waver. Stern eyes stare down looming death, and she grits her teeth. "Because...for everyone I love..."


The golden lightning of Artemis spears down from heaven - but long before it can reach the school, it finds its mark with Kagutsuchi. For a heartbeat, the destructive power and the dragon seem to be frozen in time, light scattering from where they meet...

And then the full power of Alyssa's Child, seen twice, erupts a third time. A cataclysmic explosion erupts in the skies above Southern Cross Island, shining brighter than the heavens - as if a second sun was shining there. The power destined to destroy all of Ohtori Academy and those who dwell into it is left to spent the full measure of its wrath on a single Child, and the resulting shockwave from the detonation scatters what clouds remained.

And the air burns. No sign of Mai, no hint of her Child - only a lingering blaze, and a scattering of drifting, burning golden feathers that begin to fall.