2016-05-14 - Locks and Keys 5

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Title: Locks and Keys 5

The key that went missing in Locks and Keys 4 starts broadcasting its song, and signal, loud and clear through an unstable mystical portal! Following it, magical girls discover a derelict ruin that turns out to be an ancient starship on the dark side of the Moon!


Ren Aizawa, Lilian Abarth, Fate Testarossa, Endo Naoki, Lera Camry, Fuu Hououji, Setsuna Higashi

GM: Utena Tenjou


Rainbow Bridge, and then, through a mysterious magical portal to parts unknown!

OOC - IC Date:

05-14-2016 - 10-21-2014

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b-Q2hvh7xA


A Key activates on the Rainbow Bridge, then is dragged (along with the woman who had contained it in her heart) into the deeps of Tokyo Bay by a massive, kraken-like protodaimon! Magical girls respond en masse, defeat the demon, and rescue the woman, but in the aftermath, the Key is nowhere to be found.


That all-too-familiar white light blazes once again above Tokyo Bay, in the same spot where the Key was lost. On approach, however, it becomes apparent that the light is pouring out of a gaping hole in space -- call it portal or pathway or teleportation gate, it is open, and the other side is somewhere else entirely.

It's impossible to see fine details of said other side because things are so accursedly bright, but there is a clear sense of chill, of an ancient cold. To the extent that there is color, it is gray.

The edges of the portal are familiar to Midchildans, elegant runes and geometric shapes, curves and hard edges alike. They glow a faint purple, and the calligraphy of this transport spell, such as it is, is astonishingly intricate. Seriously technical stuff. Whatever is going on, there's a seriously high-octane mage involved. Someone unrecognizable -- this work isn't familiar to anyone; it is not the hand of a known mentor, or mother, at work.

And the power of the gate is rising. It's clearly unsafe, the way energy crackles along its edges. Those discharges will be threatening the city before long, in another hour or two at most -- making this investigation urgent.

OOC: Next round I will be describing what's on the other side, so jumping into the portal by the end of your action this round is more or less in order!

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

Lera has worried about the Key ever since they lost it. She has also worried about other things: about Fate, about Soaring Sky after last time, about exams and school. The orange-haired girl has kept her eyes open, though, because she knows that it might show up again. She didn't expect, though, to see a hole tear itself in the sky -- and the elegant purple runes in a language she knows.

"Sky, is that...?" Lera asks, as she dashes along the walkway on the side of the Rainbow Bridge. Her eyes are locked onto the gate, with its intricate runes.

<...I don't know. I don't recognize it. But... it's complex. This could be dangerous.> Sky answers.

Lera frowns, before she looks back. She came running up the Rainbow Bridge because she didn't come alone. She looks back at the Pretty Cure with her, then she nods. "It's a portal," she says, as if she couldn't see that. "I think... we better go through. C'mon, Passion!"

Lera picks Cure Passion up about the waist, then leaps off the bridge -- into thin air, down towards the waters below. Her hair blows back and she drops, but it's the strange magical gateway that meets her, not the water below.

COMBAT: Lera Camry transforms into Barrier Jacket Perihelion!
<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Again, something is up. And not a good something, either. Though to be fair it rarely ever is, really. Having been a participant in the earlier fight in the deep, dark waters beneath Rainbow Bridge, Ren has been waiting for the other shoe to drop in a way. And now it's looking as if that shoe has come crashing down -- and then some.

Hoving in the air some feet away from the strange and evil looking portal the Earth-born mage frowns. "Those runes..." Definitely Midchildan. There's no mistaking it. Heraut chimes.

<This is certainly not the work of a mere amateur. I don't like it.>

"Neither do I." Ren replies, the pit in her stomach growing denser by the second. Knowing a mage of some unknown origin is responsible for this is beyond troubling. >>Lera-chan. Endo-kun. Whoever else might be listening... I think going inside is our only option. Maybe whoever is responsible for this is on the other side and we can stop them.<< Her mental communication is sent out to her usual cohorts and any other device wielders in the area. "Are you ready?" She looks down at Heraut, who chimes once again.

<I am. Be careful.>

Gripping her scepter tightly Ren nods and flies onward into the gate.

COMBAT: Ren Aizawa transforms into Barrier Jacket!
<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

A portal?

...It's not the kind Setsuna is most accustomed to using, but she's seen this kind of portal all the same.

"I don't recognize it either," Cure Passion speaks up, looking towards that hole in the sky with a concerned frown. "Why here...?"

She's worried, too, about a lot of things in the time preceding, but now she's here, not winded by the run. Lera explains... and Passion nods. "Right. I think so, too."

A pause. "..."

She's still not sure what it means, but the wind of their passage whips through her, her skirt fluttering as she lets Lera carry her through the air, down to...

Whatever it is they're going to find.

COMBAT: Setsuna Higashi has fully healed herself.
COMBAT: Setsuna Higashi transforms into Cure Passion!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

As with what seems like an increasing number of incidents, the light and the portal are NOT the kind of thing that you simply don't notice ... at least, not if you have any amount of usable magic.

The Magic Knight of Wind has some severe misgivings as she sizes up the portal, but there's no helping it; either she stays in the familiar territory of Tokyo, or she forges onwards and does what she can to help her allies. And since the Magic Knights were (as best Fuu can tell) chosen for their determination and their refusal to give up ...

The Wind Knight takes a deep breath, lets it out, summons her sword to her hand - and uses a bit of wind magic to assist her jump through the portal. "Good luck to us all!" are her last words before vanishing through the 'doorway' in space.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Magic Knight!
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo, once out of the water, is looking for the key. He's very soggy, wringing out his cape and shaking water loose as he takes in the gaping hole in space. "Ah, really, isn't this too much?"


Endo scowls. Regardless, he goes, following after all the rest and taking a leap toward the gap in space.

COMBAT: Endo Naoki has fully healed himself.
<Pose Tracker> Fiat Silver [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"Well dip me in tahini sauce and throw me to the Lebanons."

"Lebanese, Edward."

Edward Rucci and Miranda Jentra observe matters through binoculars on the patio of a small but tasteful condominium in the city.

"That's definitely some kind of a gate... Oh! I see her!"



"Where's /there/!"

FIAT SILVER, meanwhile, had taken off from that patio after finishing a cup of coffee and being told to take along a wrapped sandwich in case she was on a lengthy expedition. (Lilian Abarth has an unusual family environment.) Having done that, she and her Device had launched, sandwich firmly tucked within the Barrier Jacket. Her progress sparkles silver and day-glo blue as she eats up the kilometers, before her head tilts, hearing a word from someone else.

"Should we answer her?" Fiat Silver murmurs.

<I think that's fine,> Silver Scorpion says. Then he transmits forwards: <We understand. Today we are your ally!>

Fiat Silver smiles. That sounded pretty stylish, she thinks. As she nears the bridge, she looks down - and sees people jump off into the hole. This throws her momentarily, but she's already got her trajectory planned, and it executes, sending her into that hole.

Perhaps there's treasure waiting on the other side. That'd be nice, Lilian thinks to herself.

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

Endo has found his way to the portal, once it's popped up, lured by the light over Tokyo Bay. "Ah, really, isn't this too much?"


Endo scowls. Regardless, he goes, following after all the rest and taking a leap toward the gap in space.

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

This bridge held so many memories for her already...

And now she was all but ramming herself to the side of the pedestrian walkway. Her small hands gripped the metal railing, leaning over it. This was as close as she could get right now. She could feel the hum of magic in the air, taste it on her tongue. Her eyes couldn't make out the runework at all, but she could tell it was Midchildan.

It didn't feel familiar, but that didn't matter did it? It still meant every mage in the city that she cared about, that she wanted to protect was like to show up. And with the keys on the line... what if another drone came too? Right now... Bardiche was all but inert, save for the dim shine of his auto repair cycle. To push him right now was dangerous... to him, dangerous to herself.

She backed off the railing and just cradled him in his hands, before her hand reached into a pocket, and extracted a much golden triangle, which she turned over between her fingers.

This is for you. If Bardiche is ever in trouble and you need him, then this will give him the strength to keep going. But you have to be careful. Only use it if you're prepared to put everything on the line.

"To put everything on the line." Fate finally says, ruefully. It mingled with memories of a small mage whose small hands changed her destiny. She'd put everything on the line then too but for all the wrong reasons. Maybe this time she could do the same for the right reasons, in the same place as before. Her fingers placed the smaller triangle against the device. It clung to Bardiche like the opposite poles of magnets and a small ting of metal on metal. Any echo was simply her imagination, or was it. She held her breath.

The glow on Bardiche became steady, and then he spoke, a synthesized crackle, that steadied into a baritone, <Condition:> For the space of a second, that statement lingered without being finished, as if Bardiche were uncertain. <Yellow.> He finally decides. "Can you fight?" <Yes Sir.> Her eyes pinch shut, she takes a deep breath, that sounds raspy with worry, then the words come out hushed, "I missed you." Her eyes open, carrying new determination, "Bardiche. Set up." <Get set. Barrier jacket!>

Static fills the air as she becomes a human plasma globe. Each arc of electricity readies her for battle, and once her barrier jacket appears, it seems solid enough, but she looks to the polearm in her hand with momentary worry. "Here we go." Fate is fast, she's not long behind the others into the violet portal. A human flash with a golden stream of light that follows her. Even so, she's not going her top speed... maybe she's worried of straining him too much.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa transforms into Barrier Jacket!
<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2EDABZX_Ow

The transit is so fast and seamless that it's almost perfunctory, like walking through a door. There is a brief wash of that brilliant light that forces all detail to the background, and then it's gradually fading out in little flecks, and the novelty starts rushing in.

Some of it can be felt before it is seen: it is, indeed, dreadfully cold, and a bit clammy in the way that old musty air can be -- it's breathable, but every bit of motion within it, from lungs inhaling to arms flailing, has to drag through a little bit of history, like invisible spiderwebs.

The sense of age is palpable all around. It's almost easy to imagine that one has been transported to a castle straight out of Western legend; something about the gray walls and floor, and the faded panels that hang on them not dissimilarly to tapestries and rugs, evoke a sense of swords and sorcery. But closer examination reveals something that might be far older, and is definitely far stranger.

The walls aren't stone, though they are hard, and if they were carved it was with the technical precision of advanced tools (or magic), not the chisels of old. Nor is the fabric fabric. On the walls, it flickers at the touch, revealing panels of buttons underneath, each one round, unmarked, and perfect. And on the floor, too, the 'rug' turns out to be a mosaic of tiny, raised nubs.

They were probably buttons too, because when the first foot steps on them, they sing an unholy chorus of tones, each one the trigger for a dozen dozen belltowers' worth of bells.

This cacophany doesn't bring any more light to the area than was already present -- which is to say, some of the magical girls were themselves, or holding something, aglow, and it is these lights and these alone that shine forth on this place, casting a clear sense of abandonment along with their beams. Whether ancient ruins or some other kind of derelict hulk, no life remains in this strange place, and no light, either--

--except for that of the Key, which twinkles in the distance, down a long hallway--

--no, wait. There are two Keys. Or at least two specks of white fire, which bob closer and closer with terrible momentum.

And then another pair flare to life, blue... and another, red.

<< Enemies detected! >> << Moving to engage! >> << Prepare to die, rebel scum! >>

They sound, for all the world, like Devices, with their terse vernacular. If Devices came from Germany, anyway, and spoke Japanese/Midchildan with an /atrocious/ accent.

And they look like mobile suits of ancient magical armor, probably because that's exactly what they are. They're bristling with weaponry, and each of their heads is a giant round marble of their respective color, from within which those energy 'eyes' shine forth.

They will be upon the group momentarily.

COMBAT: Utena Tenjou transforms into Drone Knights!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has fully healed herself. She is now ready to take on 7 opponents!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Passion notices the cold first, by way of contrast, and the ground second; she lets herself down, boots clicking against what she could almost think was stone. It's a familiar feeling, yet distinct; another world, she's suddenly certain, and not one with Earth's lower level of technology.

She steps apart, examining a tapestry that isn't a tapestry, looking thoughtfully a what turns out to be a panel. "This doesn't look like any realm I've read about."

She's relying on the light of others to see regardless, stepping softly now. "Where--"

Her words cut off as she notices the lights flaring up... and hears the voices. She turns and stops, surprisied. "Rebel? But this isn't Labyrin--"

They're coming fast. Passion drops to a crouch, before kicking against the floor, and... charges. "I won't let you harm them!" She lunges straight into the group, past the closest in a blur of motion, kicking out hard at its legs as she passes.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has used Flash Feint on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Cure Passion's Flash Feint, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Cure Passion is Psyched!  Utena Tenjou's Block ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Solid ground (or at least a floor, which may or may not betray them), and breathable air (which may or may not cause trouble of its own). Those are the first two things the Magic Knight of Wind takes note of upon arrival, and she's fairly certain they can be categorized - at least loosely - as good, or at least neutral. Then she notices the light of a Key -

Wait, no, two lights ... no again, three pairs. Not Keys, but eyes, likely belonging to robots of some kind - or perhaps 'golems' would be a more accurate term, given the circumstances.

And they think the magical girls are rebels?

The Wind Knight draws herself up to her full (if modest) height. "How dare you address us as rebels," she replies to the magibots, as haughtily as she can. (She may have been spending too much time at Ohtori lately.) "Lead us to your master at once, or suffer the consequences!" She brings her sword up to a ready position, her gaze steely behind her glasses.

That last part - the look in her eyes as she stares the drones down - doesn't require any acting talent at all on her part. Of course, the fact that others are attacking may take some of the wind out of her bluff, but it might still be worth a try ...

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

Lera didn't expect, really, to step inside of a darkly lit castle. She lands on the floor -- and spots the panels on them, as she floats down to the ground. She has one arm around Cure Passion's waist, keeping her upright as they descend. She glances at the others, flashing a smile at Ren, but really, it's for everyone. "Good thing we're all here, y'know? We--"

There is a flash of yellow -- and Fate Testarossa comes through the portal. She looks up at her, eyes widening. "Fate...?" she asks. "Are you--did Bardiche's repair cycle finish?"

There is a smile, though, if a confused one. She expected that to take longer.

Her feet touch down on the ground, right on one of those panels like a tapestry -- and then she looks up, eyes widening sharply when the ringing of the bells starts. A light flashes across the area, before she gets a good look at the two specks of white light -- Keys, maybe -- and then the three suits of magical armor that come forth. Speaking...

"Belkan," she whispers, softly.

Soaring Sky remains silent at that. It's the other Device, still in standby mode as a bracelet around her wrist, that speaks up. <Not good. They're automatons. Better smash them,> Broken Ground suggests.

And Setsuna launches at them too quick to possibly have responded Ground's idea. Lera's eyes narrow, before she nods, and then she runs forward too. "Passion! Right behind you!"

Lera swings her sword-device up. Orange light blazes up the length of the weapon, fire crackling along it, and then Lera shoots forward. She is, briefly, a blur of red-orange light. Then, she appears beside the same drone that Passion attacked, and launches a brutal spinning kick into its side.

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Sonic Kick on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

The reply Ren receives from Fiat is a bit unexpected. She smiles nevertheless, though. >>Thank you. I know we haven't talked much but maybe after this we can?<< Making nice with other device users seems like a logical course of action. Though she isn't sure how willing Fiat will be to sit down and chat over tea. Even if tea is pretty delicious. Especially with sweets. Mmmm.

Traveling through the portal is an odd experience. Ren isn't sure she'll /ever/ get used to going through interdimensional gateways though to be fair. What she and the others find on the other side is not all that comforting to say the least. The "old" feeling of this place is overwhelmingly potent, and she even wrinkles her nose a bit and squints her eyes in response. "A castle? Wait..." And then she notices the not-stone walls and the not-fabric fabrics. "Buttons? What the-"

And then one of the buttons gets stepped on by someone, which starts up a loud ringing of bells. Uh oh. That /probably/ just woke up something bad. But her focus is soon drawn away from the strangeness of the surrounding environment to the two twinkling white keys up ahead. "There they are...!" Though something tells her not to rush forward for them. Which is a good thing since that's when the Drone Knights come to life and make their intentions to harm everyone here known.

What a bunch of evil jerks!

"Fine! Have it your way!" Ren slashes her scepter in the air, leaving behind a trail of glittering gems that hang in midair briefly before spinning rapidly and shooting off towards the incoming horde of mechanical menaces.

<Seeker Barrage!>

COMBAT: Ren Aizawa has used Seeker Barrage on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly dodges Lera Camry's Sonic Kick, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry is Psyched!  Utena Tenjou's Fade ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly counters Ren Aizawa's Seeker Barrage, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Exhausted applied to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou's counterattack, Panzerhauer, partially gets through, doing 24 Fatigue damage to Ren Aizawa!
<Pose Tracker> Fiat Silver [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

<Why certainly! We would love that,> Silver Scorpion replies to Ren without consulting with Fiat Silver.

And from the sea... To a tomb!

Fiat Silver takes pains to not actually touch down on the ground, though she has to strike a rather tortured pose to do it. It looks dynamic, anyway. "Ah!" Fiat Silver says.

<Augh! Madame, this tintinnabulation is remarkable in its depth, timbre, and /irritation/. I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to do sound mapping in this environment,> Silver Scorpion chimes in with annoyance as the clamor begins. <But I can tell you one thing.>

"The -- those things?"


Fiat Silver takes in a deep breath and raises her armored hand, the baton snapping into place. "At least they're making their opinions clear." <Their INCORRECT opinions. We are, unfortunately, thieves; not rebels!> "Grenadier Mode." <Engaged.>

"Oh! Fate!" Fiat Silver says, still in her extremely dynamic pose. Which she shifts out of because her hamstring is starting to ache. After this, and finally setting her feet on the ground, Silver breathes in --

"Scorpio Seven!!" <Firing!> Naturally enough, the seven sapphire-like shards of light streak forwards. Silver Scorpion, who has a lot to say and has not been able to say much, explains further: <This is almost the ideal situation for Grenadier Mode, madam. Typically we're either too close, too far, or encountering something beastly. I'm quite chuffed.>

"What does that mean? Or Tintinablution, for that matter," Fiat Silver says, keeping the baton held out mid-spray.

<We'll talk later,> Silver Scorpion concludes as the spell cycle completes.

COMBAT: Fiat Silver has used Scorpio Seven on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo comes down on the other side of the portal with a muted thud, and a heavier clank when the end of Stern hits the ground after him. He gives a shake of his head, squinting in the darkness, getting a glimpse of what he can in the multi-colored illumination he and the various magical girls around him provide.

He's happy to see Fate there, when he does, and everyone else, but there's something that interrupts any dwelling on that.

<OBJECTS--FRIENDLY?-TARGETS. SIX.> Fallen Stern warbles, pulsing violet in the darkness.

"Really?" Endo pauses, squinting down at the sword. And then up, at the light. "Oh, there's the-" Oh wait, that's not a key. "Those are robots." He doesn't sound very thrilled about robots, they've traditionally never been a good sign. "Do you know those guys, Stern? Can you ask them to not kill everyone?"

<YES.> There's a long pause, and then it speaks: <AUTOMATONS CEASE.>


COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Severely Disappointed on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Fiat Silver's Scorpio Seven, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Utena Tenjou's Block ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki has used diplomatic resolution on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly counters Fuu Hououji's Severely Disappointed, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou's counterattack, REBEL SCUM!, partially gets through, doing 19 Fatigue damage to Fuu Hououji!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

There's a sense of wonder as she enters the ancient place. Despite how tense, how serious the situation is, she stops, and makes a small loop in the air, just so she can take it in the history, and the resistance of history to her presence. Even the musty air, the cold, it all plays into the mystique and the majesty of this place's atmosphere.

And like she suspected, Lera is right there. Fate sort of freezes in mid-air. "Something like that." She replies, sounding sort of subdued. She notices Fiat Silver, Ren and Endo, and Cure Passion too. In her head, it validates that she made the right choice. "It looks like we made it just in time."

She didn't want to let Lera know how she made the situation even more dangerous for herself and Bardiche. If so, then what if Lera did something extra dangerous to protect her? It was her choice, she didn't want to put it on her.

When people step on them, her ears find themselves under assault. She's familiar enough with fortresses to know, "It's probably an alarm..." She says in guarded tones. But then white light, is joined with blue and red. Keys.

Something about that seems wrong. Weren't the keys associated with some part of Tokyo? Why are they in a magical portal that leads to ancient ruins? It just felt more and more like a trap. But she doesn't have time to consider that. She already knew she might be walking into a trap with such high level magic at play.

But then come as ancient suits of magical armor, so different from her mother's technology. She couldn't even begin to fathom where they had come from. Fate suddenly flies forward, trying to mark where their weapons are, and the many ways they could bring death to her if she misjudged.

She weaves low, just by the knees of the white and red one. <Scythe Form> Bardiche shifts as she flies. Fate wonders if its always taken him that long, for the curved blade of golden mana to erupt. "What-" She suddenly spirals in an upwards climb, trying to rake the thing's the things back with his blade as she spins across and up, placing some extra force int he slash. <Scythe Slash> "-are we even rebelling against?" She's not going to stop attacking to ask these important questions, not with her friend's lives at stake.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Scythe Slash on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly dodges Fate Testarossa's Scythe Slash, taking 27 Fatigue damage!  Utena Tenjou's Fade ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to counter Endo Naoki's diplomatic resolution, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou's counterattack, REBEL SCUM!, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Endo Naoki!
<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Something about the sound in this chamber is... strange. It feels awfully claustrophobic, strangely contained, the way things are just a little bit more muted than they ought to be. It makes what comes next a little extra odd, in a subtle way; the pitch of Passion's foot connecting with (and then bouncing painfully off of, yow, it's diamond-hard) the Red Drone Knight's leg seems a little too high, for example. And the air seems to warp with the sheer, scary speed in which the automaton gets out of Lera's way, so fast that she's at risk of hitting her Pretty Cure ally instead. They'll both have to move fast to avoid colliding with each other.

And both Fuu and Endo's requests -- or demands, depending on how you slice it -- ring weirdly hollow. Both are met promptly with violent force; the White Drone Knight draws a sword from each arm, then fends Fuu away while merely ruffling Endo's hair with the closeness of the blade's passage.

<< Never surrender! >> It yells, followed by something in another, more ancient tongue, which also flashes in calligraphic font across its spherical 'face': << Verhaltnis! >> The swords begin to vibrate at supersonic speeds, creating a howl that no sawblade could hope to rival. Then the White Drone Knight descends towards the would-be peacemakers a second time, their attack made slightly less deadly only because Fate Testarossa has placed herself in its way. It steps over the scythe blade with more of that alarming speed, then alters its arc to include the Midchildan in its assault.

Ren and Fiat Silver tag-team the Blue Drone Knight, meanwhile, and both discover that, like the red drone, it's painfully tough -- gems thud into its armor, explode at point-blank, and afterwards it seems to be essentially untouched. There's an artful scratch across one pauldron, but that's all.

Despite this demoralizing lack of damage done, it seems really upset.


The red one turns and chimes, << Most wanted? >>


And, after the smallest beat, they announce in unison: << LEIBLICHNACHT. >> It makes the attack that went towards Endo and Fuu look like child's play -- the air darkens around their swords, as though they've grown so sharp and terrible that they're tearing through the air and into the void beyond. Fiat Silver is unfortunate enough to be nearby, and this is a wide-area assault -- she's endangered as well.

So is the wall behind them. It explodes, then creates a cloud of dust against some kind of /second/ surface. This one is clear... a force field of considerable strength, apparently. And as the dust settles, it becomes apparent what's beyond: soft gray craters stretching unto the horizon, and above, endless space. At the very, very, very edge of the panorama is a sliver of something gorgeously blue-green --

-- the Earth.

COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Reckless Endangerment on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Reckless Endangerment on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Verhaltnis on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Verhaltnis on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Verhaltnis on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Your next attack will not KO your opponent(s) (unless +accept is used).
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Leiblichnacht on Ren Aizawa.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Leiblichnacht on Fiat Silver.
COMBAT: Cure Passion fails to dodge Utena Tenjou's Reckless Endangerment, taking 30 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cure Passion is Quipped!
COMBAT: Lera Camry narrowly counters Utena Tenjou's Reckless Endangerment, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry is Quipped!  Lera Camry's Reverse ability activates!  Lera Camry's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Lera Camry's counterattack, Sentinel Flash, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Ren Aizawa narrowly counters Utena Tenjou's Leiblichnacht, taking 72 Fatigue damage!  Ren Aizawa's Reverse ability activates!
COMBAT: Ren Aizawa's counterattack, Quartz Guard, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Verhaltnis, taking 6 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Fiat Silver fails to dodge Utena Tenjou's Leiblichnacht, taking 59 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji fails to counter Utena Tenjou's Verhaltnis, taking 23 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji's counterattack, Spinning Slash, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki fails to counter Utena Tenjou's Verhaltnis, taking 30 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki's counterattack, Asteroid Rush, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Utena Tenjou!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

"It's some sort of technology beyond Earth's," Passion calls over her shoulder to Ren, hoping to alleviate some of her confusion. ...But it starts to feel obvious as she hears talk of robots from the group.

She turns with her strike, as Lera chops up behind her, trying to keep the drone flanked with her girlfriend. It's then that she sees a flash of yellow, brilliant golden mana that she knows well. "Fate!?" Passion asks, the surprise to see her registering just briefly on her features. "But I thought you--"

Moments pass quickly. Passion's foot bounces off, and that /does/ hurt; she has to shift after the sudden departure of her opponent, and she tries, throwing down her weight to her side to avoid going off-balance. "Ah--!?"

She's not fast enough. Passion can't correct in time, and is hit /hard/ by her ally running into her; Lera's shoulder hit her in the chest, and Passion crashes backward into the wall, trying to cough. While she's recovering herself, she gets a plenty good vantage point to, while trying to breathe again, observe their choice of target... and what happens to Ren and Silver. And then, beyond that, blackness, and a blue-green orb hanging in it. "Don't worry about me!" Passion forces herself to call to Lera, and rolls forward now that she's caught her breath, leaping back into the fray with her focus on Drone Red, darting towards it with strikes meant to take her around, to try to draw its attention. "Are you okay!?" she calls to Ren, but can't afford to look away to see if she wants to get this thing away from either of them.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has used Seeing Red on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou perfectly dodges Cure Passion's Seeing Red, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Utena Tenjou's Fade ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Fate is right to worry -- to look subdued. The look on Lera's face isn't quite overjoyed; it's confused, right up until the attack starts.

The drone moves away from Lera much too quickly to adjust course. Lera flies forward, eyes widening, and her shoulder slams into Setsuna's chest. She bounces away, feeling the sting, and she turns quickly, before she gasps. She shakes her head, standing up; she doesn't quite notice, as she does, that Soaring Sky's energy field is crackling.

The attempted barrier, to catch Setsuna, never came. <Dark... it's dark.>

She blinks, looking down, until she hears the drones -- 'ELIMINATE SOUVERAIN HERAUT!' -- and she looks up, quickly, eyes widening, as she sees the Earth in the distance through the two walls -- and the blades that slashed at her best friend. "Ren-chan!" she yells, worried. Setsuna takes off after the red drone, and Lera does the same. She leaps, swinging back her sword. The girl twists in midair.

A Midchildan magical circle erupts under her feet, as she leaps. The blade glows bright, and then she whips the sword around hard for the Red Drone Knight. A fang of fire explodes off it, as she strikes.

<Inferno Slasher!>

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Inferno Slasher on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly counters Lera Camry's Inferno Slasher, taking 35 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Lera Camry is Psyched!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou's counterattack, Verhaltnis, partially gets through, doing 8 Fatigue damage to Lera Camry!  Critical Counterhit!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Passion gets a look. She tries to make it a reassuring one. That she's okay. That she's able to fight. But it's hard. "Don't worry about me."

Even the vibrations of her blades hurt the ears, and as they descend...

Fate's confidence falters a little. Rather than continuing her flight around them, she starts flying backwards while facing them. She intercepts with Bardiche's beard, catching the giant blade briefly between the blade of magic and the obsidian pole.

However it's strength is greater, and while Fate avoids a deadlier blow, the force sends her to the ground as the titanic blade slides off of it, where her boots land hard upon the stonework not cut by human chisels. She takes a deep breath, stealing a glance at the chip on Bardiche's pole made from the supervibrating blades.

Fate looks up at the thing, taking off again in a flutter of dark cape fabric. But it's then that her worst fears are made manifest. As they declare their priority target. "Ren!" She says quickly, eyes stealing that way as void rending blades shatter... the wall behind her.

She doesn't have time to contemplate the wondrous sight of the Earth in the great beyond. Normally it would steal her breath, to see how sublimely beautiful the world that she once endangered truly is.

Raising Bardiche high, his scythe head crackles with thunderous power. <Photon Lancer> "Multishot." Fate but says in the determined tones of someone whose friends truly are on the line. Four orbs of golden ball lightning, arcs of violet power playing off of them, form around her. She cuts Bardiche downward. "Fire!"

At her command, forward they fly, one orb for each drone. They collapse into detonations of lightning and smoke. The red one gets a second. "Stay away from her!" It's a command that they're not likely to listen to, but she makes it anyhow.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Photon Lancer: Multishot on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly counters Fate Testarossa's Photon Lancer: Multishot, taking 9 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou's counterattack, Panzerhauer, partially gets through, doing 25 Fatigue damage to Fate Testarossa!
<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Fiat's device's agreement to meet up later is nice, but the pleasantries are unfortunately mostly lost on the situation at hand. Ren frowns when her impromptu tag-team assault with Fiat doesn't seem to do much damage to that Blue Knight. "These guys are tough..." She acknowledges, thinking back to Precia Testarossa's drones in particular. These are different, though. In a way that makes her /very/ uncomfortable. She casts a glance in Fate's direction on instinct, happy to see her but worried about Bardiche's well-being after what she's been told about his condition. Is it really safe?

Heraut, meanwhile, has been silently analyzing these drones for the past few minutes or so. He shares his master's sentiments about the ominous air they carry. And... there's something else. It's been nagging away at him ever since setting foot in here. Like... and overwhelming need to-

<Your majesty!> Heraut calls out, just as the drones decide to make him Enemy No. 1. Ren snaps to attention, eyes growing wide as the knights point their weapons in her (and Fiat's) direction. "Fiat-san! Run!" She shouts as she throws a hand up, "Heraut!"


A bright, white light of a shield springs up in front of her as the knight's attack tears through the intervening space between her and them. There's a visible and audible ripple within the air when impact is made, though in the next breath the shield is smashed into nothingness. There's no scream of anguish as Ren is carried backwards with bone-shattering force, looking as though she's going to possibly be launched clean through the walls of the castle and jettisoned into whatever horrible inky blackness surrounds it.

But instead of meeting such a gruesome fate, she's instead saved by an up-until-then unknown force field. With a horrifying CRUNCH her back bounces off of it, and for the briefest of moments she's floating in mid-air, eyes still widened with shock. Then, she falls to the ground, barrier jacket smoking and utterly destroyed in several places. Heraut clatters to the ground also, her grip weak and unable to hold him any longer.

<S-System's... critical.> The usually smooth voice of her device is filled with static, and has fallen victim to several hairline cracks along it's surface. Ren herself barely stirs, managing to somehow pull her face up off of the ground to blink blurrly. "H-Heraut? Are you...?"

<I-I'm a-a-alright... Self-repair s-systems have been ini...tiated.>

As he says this Ren is getting back to her feet, albeit with several attempts being needed before she's successful. Everything hurts. But she looks around for Fiat still, scared for the well-being of the other girl. Did she get clear? There was so little time for her to dodge that... >>Fiat-san...! Are you alright?<<

<Y-You are b-barely able t-t-to stand... L-Let m-me help...!>

"Heraut n-!"

But before Ren can warn him off there's a Midchildan runic circle tracing out beneath her feet, and her body takes on a bronze sheen.


Heraut goes quiet, the topaz heart-shaped gem on top of Ren's scepter going dark.

COMBAT: Ren Aizawa has used Sovereign's Mettle on Ren Aizawa.
COMBAT: Ren Aizawa accepts Ren Aizawa's Sovereign's Mettle, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Ren Aizawa is Reinforced by Ren Aizawa!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

The Wind Knight quickly comes to two conclusions: first, the drones aren't really interested in her bluff, and secondly, she's not remotely equipped to face them head-on. Two clashes later, she's sprawled on the floor, wincing, and trying to get her breath back even as she struggles to take stock of her injuries.

She's aware of a third thing as well: the drones have identified Soverain Heraut as their primary target - and she recognizes that name. She looks over at Ren, wondering if she should cast a Winds of Protection his way ...

There's something else she probably needs to do first, though. Something that will, hopefully, benefit *everyone*. She finally sucks in a deep breath, wincing a little as her lungs fill, and calls out:

"Winds of Admonishment!"

As heavy and stiff as the air is in this chamber, whether stagnant with age or burdened by other causes, she's gambling that her magic will still bend it to her will - and gambling further that she can conjure a whirlwind robust enough to keep the armor-golems from striking as heavily as they've already shown a talent for.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Admonishment on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou perfectly dodges Fuu Hououji's Winds of Admonishment, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Utena Tenjou's Fade ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo lets out a tiny yelp as he ducks his head, jerking to the side and losing a few previous strands from the tip of his well-spiked hairdo. "I don't think they're your friends," He hisses to his Device. He's reasonably sure of that.

<PoINTLESS.> Stern reverberates.

Any more comment from Endo is cut off when he sees Ren go flying after the drone knights call her device out as their target. "Ren!" He has just a few seconds to watch in horror as she goes careening out into space.


When Stern informs that one of the white knights is coming back, he pivots frantically to face it. His own sword is thrust forward, Belkan triangles forming around it. <ASTEROID RUSH> The huge blade rockets him forward to smash into the knight's own weapon, swords clashing. It does not go as well as Endo hope, Stern's blade smashed aside and the would-be Belkan knight's barrier jacket sawed into before he's flung aside.

<ABNORMAL.> Stern warbles. It can see just as well as Endo can, the way the drones are blurring and striking, displaying their might. <KNIGHT. ATTACK.>

Endo does. He has to find his footing again, tearing his eyes away from the breach in the ship and bringing his weapon up again. He spins toward his attacker, high and swirling arcs that leave purple-black contrails behind, putting all his force into smashing the thing aside so he can get to Ren.


COMBAT: Endo Naoki has used Radial Velocity on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Endo Naoki's Radial Velocity, taking 36 Fatigue damage!  Utena Tenjou's Block ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Fiat Silver [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

<How vexing, they aren't collapsing,> Silver Scorpion observes as the spell does its course and smash into that blue machine. Then they converse for a moment.

"What?" Fiat Silver says. Then the darkness smashes outwards...

She screams. The blow smashes /through/ her almost, the barrier jacket making her tender self-meats a protected little vapor bubble in the surging tide that is the darkness. It smashes past. Fiat Silver loses focus on everything for a moment, waking up when her gauntlet squeezes her arm urgently, Silver Scorpion's alert chime deliberately dissonant and easy to focus on.

Fiat Silver turns her head. And sees... OUT PAST THAT WINDOW...

"E... Earth! That's Earth!!" <Indeed! You can see the outline of Africa now. Most maps don't really give it the full value of its size, due to its equatorial pos- you're not listening.>

"We're in space!!" Fiat Silver cries out in extended dismay. "Why are we in space?!?" <I assume that the portal lead to a location which is located in the orbital area around this planet. Based on the hue of that horizon I would estimate we are on the primary satellite - "the Moon," as they call it.>

"We're in space!!!" Fiat Silver cries out again. <Ah, yes...>

Then someone else calls her name. (Lilian Abarth is not used to being called by that name, even if she uses it.) For the second time, in fact. Now she looks - and sees the fall of Heraut. She and Silver Scorpion make a strange noise, as if in unison, torn inwardly by a thousand edges on a single shot: Even in that agony, she thought of -- /us/--

Why are my eyes watering? Fiat Silver wonders for a moment. But the movement is already decided. Fiat Silver steps forwards, not answering Ren immediately as she moves ahead. Past her bronze-reinforced form, past the silent shape of Heraut -- one step to the side --

A body block!! Fiat Silver raises her voice to address the red and blue creatures alike. "I won't let you just do as you please." This over her shoulder, then: "Aizawa, I'll cover you. Don't worry." And her mouth, which the mask exposes, turns up into a smile. It doesn't reach her eyes, but her eyes aren't visible, so it works out.

She starts then to twirl the silvered baton. "Scorpion! Telson Mode!" <Inverting capacitor. Ready!> The baton's thinner end erupts into a ribbon of energy, which Fiat Silver puts great gusto into lashing forwards, a veritable barrage of glittering whipstrokes which are, not at all coincidentally, aimed at face and leg while leaving those burly-ish central components alone.

<Hopefully, Camry will be able to destroy them with her usual fiery aplomb... or Miss Testarossa!> Silver Scorpion says, trying to lighten the mood. Fiat Silver doesn't reply.

COMBAT: Fiat Silver has used Scorpio Telson on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly dodges Fiat Silver's Scorpio Telson, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Utena Tenjou's Fade ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!  Diversion and Exhausted applied to Utena Tenjou!
<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The robots have a brief, vocal celebration as the aftermath of their two-pronged assault on an ancient enemy is revealed.

<< Victory to the Empire! Souverain Heraut neutralized! >> << Promotion? >> << Focus. >>

Apparently having a big red sphere with two centrally-burning eyes for a head gives you three-sixty vision, because the Red Drone Knight is not the least bit caught off guard by Cure Passion and Lera mounting a strike on it from behind. As its terrible spell concludes, it steps so neatly to the side of Passion that it might as well have teleported, then parries Lera's flameblade with its own, metallic, sword. The two catch, and ring in the air, a ring that turns into a howl as the vibro-setting activates (<< Verhaltnis. >>), sending jarring pain towards Lera's palm even as Soaring Sky finishes the job and manages to cleave the rest of the way through the opposing sword.

Its path continues, allowing it to brush, like a fiery butterfly's wing, against the left pauldron. It leaves a little black mark.

Momentarily empty-handed, the Red Drone Knight extends its palm, robot fingers splayed wide. There are too many of them -- seven to a hand. They twist, they scrunch, they wring magic out of the air, mana tracing behind them...

<< Fangenblitz. >>

The drone may be red but the magic is white, and too complex and weird to interpret easily. It's no Midchildan circle, but not a vaguely-familiar-from-the-Wolkenritter triangle either -- if anything it's three-dimensional. What follows DEFINITELY occupies all elements of their immediate space: it's a net of pure energy, a net that sticks like glue (to the girls and to anything near them, like walls and floor), and then burns like being struck by four or five bolts of lightning at once.

Which brings us, appropriately, to Fate Testarossa -- she has enough lightning to go all around the battlefield, and in eerie unison the three Drone Knights respond instantly and simultaneously to intercept the golden balls with bolts of their own energy. In combination, white plus red plus blue equals pink, so there might be something vaguely nostalgic about how they pierce through the majority of Photon Lancer, leaving but a dusting to skitter against the armor, then continue on to pierce Fate from three different directions at once.

<< Fangenblitz! >> repeats the White Drone Knight, weaving a similar net to its crimson counterpart, perhaps with a little more enthusiasm. The net is exactly the same as it descends around Fate, and it passes straight through Fuu's disturbed air towards her, as well, as though it can't even feel it -- though, indeed, there was a whirlwind; just one that the robots are devastatingly fast enough to ignore.

They don't ignore Endo. The Blue Drone Knight doesn't, at any rate. It brings its blade up just as Endo did a moment before, and Fallen Stern CLUNKS an inch into it before its momentum is stopped and the two of them are in a bind, straining back and forth.

<< ...analysis in progress. >>

It is /not/ getting out of Endo's way, but when, as with Lera, his Device gets the better of the robot's weapon and shears through it (with a little help from Fiat Silver, whose well-timed lashes force it to shift its weight in an inopportune manner -- but who, in return, finds another of those webby nets headed right her way), that changes, and abruptly the boy has a chance to dash past and reunite with his partner.

<< ...analysis complete. Betrayal detected. Traitor. Traitor! >> << Traitor? >> << ...traitor... >>

Red and Blue had each lost their primary weapons, but they have more. They each draw an axe out of a slot, and are now dual-wielding axe and sword. The axes have a chill sheen, undoubtedly the blades of an executioner.

As if things weren't bad enough, there's the unmistakable sense of things getting more serious -- and far more dangerous -- as the three intone in unison:

<< Schnellgang! >>

There's a soft whine as their internal power doubles, then triples, turning their burning eyes into blinding spotlights.

<< Betrayal is punishable... >> << ...by death. >> << DIE, REBEL SCUM! >> << Faultierstreik! >>

The two axes (and White's primary sword) chime, exploding with icy magic, before arcing, all together, towards Endo -- or, more accurately, towards his Device, hungry to find its weakest point, so that it can freeze... and shatter.

COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Fangenblitz on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Fangenblitz on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Fangenblitz on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Fangenblitz on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Fangenblitz on Fiat Silver.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Faultierstreik on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Schnellgang on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou accepts Utena Tenjou's Schnellgang, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Withstand applied to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa perfectly dodges Utena Tenjou's Fangenblitz, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Fate Testarossa's Fade ability activates!  Fate Testarossa's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Cure Passion narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Fangenblitz, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cure Passion is Quipped!  Cure Passion's Block ability activates!  Cure Passion's Parry ability activates!  Tangle and Trap applied to Cure Passion!
COMBAT: Fiat Silver narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Fangenblitz, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Fiat Silver is Quipped!  Tangle applied to Fiat Silver!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji fails to dodge Utena Tenjou's Fangenblitz, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji is Quipped!  Tangle and Trap applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Lera Camry perfectly dodges Utena Tenjou's Fangenblitz, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Lera Camry's Fade ability activates!  Lera Camry's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Faultierstreik, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Endo Naoki's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"I'm gonna try!" Lera yells back to Fiat Silver, though she can't -- quite -- find a smile or a joking tone of her own. "Sky, c'mon! We have to help them!"

<R-Right...> The Intelligent Device wavers for a moment, as her sword collides into the other. She feels the sharp vibration -- it shakes to the bone -- but Sky slashes through the sword, and then scores a strike along the shoulder. There isn't time to celebrate scoring a hit, though.

The lightning net erupts around her, closing in, and Lera looks up to see a narrow hole through -- and she launches into the air. The girl becomes a blur, but the tightening net cuts off the trail of light she leaves in her wake; Lera spins above it, rising up to stare down, untouched. She breathes hard, staring down at the Red Drone Knight.

"Ren-chan!" she yells, again. "Is... is Heraut okay?"

<Stern! He's--> Lera turns at her Device's statement, and her eyes widen. She grits her teeth, before she launches forward, shooting straight down at the Red Knight from above. <Slasher Form.>

The sword splits in two, each half glowing red-orange. Lera swings down, her first slash chopping at the Red Knight's sword -- and then the second for the axe -- before she hits the ground, and stabs both blades at the center of its mass. <Rapid Skyfall!>

"Get away from him!" Lera yells at the drone.

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Rapid Skyfall on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Passion doesn't find that look from Fate at all reassuring; instead, she looks, concern in her features, but then dives back ino the battle a hand. The sight of a planet from afar doesn't deter her; she leaps into the fray to try to distract the Red Drone, and...

It's gone, before she can even touch it. Worse, even as she's turning to try to follow up, that bizarre net of energy casts over her, pinning her to the ground. She starts to struggle against it, and then the sheer power of the spell burns through her. That takes Passion out of the distraction business for long enough, holding her there and shocking her silent with the pain of its burn.

"I--" Even past that, though, she's trapped in it. Trapped, as now Endo takes the brunt of their wrath, something about... "Traitor," Passion murmurs back.

What does it mean?

"You won't... get your way!" she starts, and, gripping at the burning net, she starts to pull it apart with all the strength she can muster. "I don't know them well yet, but..."

She pulls harder, and in a flash of red light, hurls herself at Drone Red's back, fist already curled to try and ring down in time with Lera. "Break already!"

Questions later. Smashing now.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has used Irrepressible Devotion on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly counters Lera Camry's Rapid Skyfall, taking 14 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou's counterattack, Faultierstreik, partially gets through, doing 15 Fatigue damage to Lera Camry!  Critical Counterhit!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Cure Passion's Irrepressible Devotion, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Utena Tenjou's Block ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Parry ability activates!  Bind Break! All of Cure Passion's debuffs are cleared!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.


Unfortunately magical history had been considered pretty irrelevant to Fate's magical training by her mother, no matter how well rounded her tutor had wanted her education to be.

It slides in one ear and out the other and she just wonders how old these things were.

"Take care of h-" Her bolts of lightning are pierced by all three suddenly turning on her, their light combining to become decidedly pink when they reach her.

It's like she's facing down the divine shooter again, all of them pounding into her one by one, sending her smashing against one side of the wall, well away from the opening that leads to the outer force field. She gasps as the back of her head strikes the stonework, only saved by the golden barriers that shimmer behind it to absorb the shock.

Even so, it makes her feel dizzy, punch drunk as she peels herself off the wall. With how Heraut is doing, she's even more worried about the state of her own partner, "H-How are you holding up, Bardiche?" <Sir. External power source remains stable.> Fate could almost whisper 'for now' in her head. Shaking her head once in a way that causes her twintails to fly all over, she rockets forward, only to find herself facing an energy net of purest white, about to run right into it. She makes a split second choice.

<Blitz Move.>

Fate regrets making the call as soon as she makes it, becoming a golden blur that shimmers around the room, leaving after images in her wake. But this kind of magic in Bardiche's current state... it could put a lot of strain on him.

She comes back into view just long enough to see that the net struck Fuu behind her. One can almost feel the sweat drop rolling off her forehead, "Sorry!" She calls, it's more sincere than when she told people in the past she was sorry for hurting them at least. But already they're turning on Endo and... "Stop targetting them! They didn't do anything. Face the rest of us."

She spins Bardiche once in a flourish overhead, a shimmering whirl of golden light. <Arc Saber> The scythe's head detaches, barreling towards the lead red drone as a spinning boomerang of mana to try to smash into its thick armor.

She's not certain she can get through that armor but she felt she had to try at this point. "Saber Explode." She commands, and static plays off the surface of the blade, a moment before it detonates into an explosion of concussive force and smoke.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Arc Saber on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou perfectly dodges Fate Testarossa's Arc Saber, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Utena Tenjou's Fade ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

There's relief flooding through Ren's aching body as she sees Fiat still in one piece. She smiles, even though doing so /hurts/ her bruised-up face. "Oh thank goodness... I'm sorry you got caught up in that..." What? She's /apologizing/ at a time like this? How foolishly noble! She winces as she tires to take a step and nearly falls over. "Ow. I'm ok. Honest." She's a trooper all things considered. "W-wait. Fiat-san?" Her face falls into shock as the other girl stands in front of her in a protective manner. "N-No! Don't do that! I'm not-" She doesn't finish that sentence, though it certainly sounds as if the last few words of it were going to be "worth it". Instead she stops short upon seeing Fiat's smile, and after a short while she returns it with a nod. "Right!"

Everything descends into further chaos as attacks are launched again from both sides of the conflict, with Ren turning to limp over in a hurry to the spot where Heraut fell. The damage to him makes her tense up, and she scoops the scepter up carefully, cradling it in her grasp. "Heraut? Hey... Heraut...?" There's no response... but then...!

<Your majesty?>

Ren fills tears prickling at the edge of her vision but they don't fall as she does her best to blink them away. "We're still in this fight, you know? We can't let everyone handle this on their own."

<I am with you. Always.>

Ren turns to face the raging battle again, eyes full of steeled determination. "He's alright!" Ren calls back to Lera reassuredly, her gaze softening somewhat as she looks to everyone present. "I'm sorry we scared you all. But we're ok now." Even if they both of them look as though they are nearly down for the count, it's clear there's no way they are going to just lay down and accept such a fate. Even though Endo, precious as he is to her, is the next priority target of the drones, Ren's demeanor does not falter.

"Leave him alone."

<Flash Maelstrom!>

She chooses the White Drone Night at random to receive the brunt of her ire, trying to wash him away with a deluge of exploding gembeams.

COMBAT: Ren Aizawa has used Flash Maelstrom on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Ren Aizawa's Flash Maelstrom, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Utena Tenjou's Block ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Now the drones are focusing on Endo-san? The Wind Knight suspects that she might have been right to refrain from casting the protection spell - but she's not sure if the other girl is out of danger or not; if anything, she's potentially in MORE danger with her weapon damaged like that. So after the pyramidal lightning-net blasts her --

Well, let's zoom in on that just a little bit.

The Wind Knight hears the drone's invocation, sees the magic 'triangle' forming around her, and tries to spring away from what's about to be her share of ground zero. Unfortunately, the adhesive net catches her before she can spring *anywhere*, and then the lightning lashes around her and through her. For all that a Magic Knight's armor may not technically be metal (it's not like she's tried to scrape a sample off for analysis), it's not exactly insulated against electricity well enough to protect her enough at this proximity or from that many apparent directions.

And even when the electricity subsides, the Wind Knight's body still feels numb and heavy and argumentative about moving in any coherently-directed fashion. She winds up on her back (didn't that happen once already?), angles her head a bit, and sees Ren cradling her Device. "Winds of ... Protection ..." she manages to utter, conjuring a protective whirlwind barrier around Ren and Soverain Heraut. "Hold up as well as you can," she wheezes, then lapses into silence as she tries to focus, for a moment, on breathing. Dodging will be her immediate next priority, but she has to be able to *move* in order to dodge.

So what is it that Ren-san and Endo-san have in common ... ? Ah, right. They both use talking, magic-channeling weapons. That's ... probably something she needs to inquire about, a little bit, when she can.

Come to think of it, she knows a couple of other girls with comparably conversational staves ... and one of them is right here in the same fray.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Protection on Ren Aizawa.
COMBAT: Ren Aizawa accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Protection, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Accelerate and Withstand applied to Ren Aizawa!
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo's victory is a short-lived one, managing only a second to shout: "Thank you!" To Fiat Silver before he has to find his footing and prepare for the next attack. Endo takes an involuntary step back as he finds his footing again, his eyes darting between the glowing drones, their weapons, and the void beyond. "Ren! Are you okay!?"

Soon it is Endo who isn't okay. His first instinct, to use Stern as a shield, does not work as well as he'd hope when it's the device that's being targeted. Ice crashes against the dark metal, driving Endo back as the knights rush forward to open cracks and fissures in the dark metal.


"Stern, are you okay!?" <FUNCTIONAL.> "We need to break these things!" <YES.> So in agreement, Endo's fingers tighten hard around the hilt of his weapon. Again Belkan symbols spin into the air around it. The blade begins to hum, vibrating and crackling as steam and purple flame bleed from its vents and circuits.

<I DO NOT BETRAY.> The ugly, synthesized voice rises several pitches higher than it has before. <I HAVE--I AM ALWAYS--THIS IS MY PURPOSE. THIS IS MY KNIGHT.> It stutters, an audible engine-like hum accompanying the pulse of its core.

COMBAT: Endo Naoki has used Overdrive Mode on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Endo Naoki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Endo Naoki accepts Endo Naoki's Overdrive Mode, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Surge applied to Endo Naoki!
<Pose Tracker> Fiat Silver [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

<We are no traitors,> Silver Scorpion protests. The revelation of axes presents her with a future problem, which distracts Fiat herself from a present problem, which is the incoming net! Her natural instinct is to swerve away, but...

But her heart's been moved!! She stays in place, to protect Aizawa and Heraut, swerving only her upper body. Which means...

Her gauntleted arm, protected by armor plating in a dramatic and stylish way, is completely unharmed by the web! Well, that has its ups and downs. The ups are that that arm is not webbed up, nor does she drop the weapon projection of Silver Scorpion.

The downside is that every other part of her body is given that shrieking, bursting BLAST of pain. "Kyuh--!!"

Her grip tightens around the baton. "G... gr... /grenadier/"


Fiat Silver forces the word out, garbled by strain and pain, but, evidently, enough. "-- Tortoise!" It is not a typical word, but the pitched burst of sparkling force, in its oblate spheroid shape, is in fact a bit like a tortoise! It skitters along the ground, aiming to get behind some of the drones before it erupts in gorgeous (and painful) sprays of tiny yet bursting sparks!

COMBAT: Fiat Silver has used Scorpio Tortoise on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou perfectly dodges Fiat Silver's Scorpio Tortoise, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Utena Tenjou's Fade ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Lera and Cure Passion continue their tangle with the Red Drone Knight. Where the Midchildan brought fire, the drone counters now with more of that terrible ice, which crawls up those lovely dual blades even as they make contact with the armor's torso. Cure Passion can feel the strength of that cold when her punch makes a little dent in its back.

No, it's a little hole, at last. Both of them, plus the closing Fate, can see what's within, just for a moment, before the Drone Knight moves so quickly away from Fate's exploding saber that it might as well have teleported. And in that moment, they see...

...circuitry that gleams as brightly as the stars outside. These archaisms must have the best internal maintenance systems ever built. But... they also twinkle with red energy, not the red of the drone's armor or its head-bauble, which are darker, bloodier.

This is the same hue that powered those drones that looked just like Precia's.

There is little time to pause and consider whether this is coincidence or enemy action, because the drone intones, << Flugelaufregung. >> Its power is not just in its tongue-twisting nature; rather, it heralds a terrible flurry of blades, as the robot becomes a veritable whirlwind of sword and axe, dancing between the three girls, intent on a carnival of carnage.

It drives them towards one of the intact walls, to a panel, in fact, and some stray blows tap buttons so hard that the keys are ripped right off. There's a grinding sound as the derelict struggles to respond to whatever random order it was given... but nothing happens.

Across the room, the tide comes in, and it is full of gems.

The White Drone Knight's sword finally shatters under the strain of blocking Ren's gems, and the robot's call to arms is alarmed: << Warning! Primary target detected! >> Did it forget that they just took her down? It won't be quick to forget that Fuu just put up a barrier, and its response is logical under the circumstances: to remove the spell, get rid of the mage.

<< Atemberaubendschlag. >>

With this invocation, it shatters its second sword back into component mana, then reforms it about three sizes larger -- a greatsword! Sparks fly against the floor of the room in a circle as it winds up a crushing blow towards the Magic Knight of Wind, and the force behind it is enough to threaten Ren and Endo, as well, with their mere proximity to the passing of the blade!

The Blue Drone Knight moves smoothly out of the way of Fiat Silver's own gem explosion, and gets right in her face with the edge of that awful frozen axe. << Faultierstreik. >> It's eager to drive her even closer to her friends than she already is, as though trying to herd them into sufficient proximity for something really nasty.

COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Flugelaufregung on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Flugelaufregung on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Flugelaufregung on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Atemberaubendschlag on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Atemberaubendschlag on Ren Aizawa.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Atemberaubendschlag on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Faultierstreik on Fiat Silver.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Atemberaubendschlag, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Cripple, Diversion, Stagger, and Stun applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Cure Passion perfectly dodges Utena Tenjou's Flugelaufregung, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Cure Passion's Fade ability activates!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa fails to dodge Utena Tenjou's Flugelaufregung, taking 37 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Fiat Silver fails to dodge Utena Tenjou's Faultierstreik, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  Fiat Silver is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa covers Ren Aizawa for Utena Tenjou's attack, Atemberaubendschlag, taking it upon themselves instead!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa fails to counter Utena Tenjou's Atemberaubendschlag, taking 31 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Diversion, Stagger, and Stun applied to Fate Testarossa!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa's counterattack, Defenser, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Cure Passion covers Endo Naoki for Utena Tenjou's attack, Atemberaubendschlag, taking it upon themselves instead!
COMBAT: Lera Camry narrowly dodges Utena Tenjou's Flugelaufregung, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry's Fade ability activates!  Lera Camry's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Cure Passion narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Atemberaubendschlag, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Cure Passion's Block ability activates!  Cure Passion's Parry ability activates!  Cripple applied to Cure Passion!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Passion's eyes widen as she sees what their attempts have laid bare; she's seen that shade. But there is indeed no time to contemplate it. That success emboldens her, and as the drone whirls its deadly weapons at her, the legendary warrior shifts into motion. She ducks backward, narrowly dodging the first cut, leaping to the side for another, spinning in place to evade a cut that could properly have chopped her in half; each strike this time she manages to evade, glancing once to the wall it seeks to drive her towards.

"I'm going!"

Passion dips low for the last one and spins to the side, rushing around to start to get behind it...

But the alarm catches her attention. Passion turns her head, pink hair trailing behind her, and sprints.

Just as the blade comes down, Cure Passion is standing before Endo, arms crossed in an 'x' to take the brunt of the sheer force of the blade's passage in this direction on herself. "I told you," she says over her shoulder without turning her eyes from the Drone, breathing hard, "That you could count on me!"

She can't entirely hide the stagger she has, at how that blow jarred her arms, but she doesn't have to hide it if she doesn't /stop/.

Passion follows up, ducking under the sword's giant grip to swing her heel backward in a whirling kick straight up, hopefully before it can recover from its swing.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has used Followup Crash on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly dodges Cure Passion's Followup Crash, taking 28 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Utena Tenjou's Fade ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Maybe, the Wind Knight thinks briefly as she starts to sit up, she ought to study whatever language the drones are--

  • Atemberaubendschlag*

Wait, wasn't she sitting up? And wasn't she ... well, on her back, in the MIDDLE of the room? And ...

That's when the fresh cascade of pain catches up with the Wind Knight's train of thought, and the pieces fall into place. She's not out of the fight yet, although she hurts enough to almost wish that she were; the entire room is spinning, that glimpse of the Earth in a window looks like it's upside-down and getting shaken like one of the outer planets wants its lunch money ...

The Magic Knight of Wind closes her eyes, and takes a slow, deep breath. Healing first. THEN she can study the situation out some more. At least her lungs seem to be working without a fight this time.

"Winds of Healing!"

The soothing, healing breezes of her spell enfold the Wind Knight, and she manages to get back to her feet as some of her more obvious bruises fade. She also feels FAR less wobbly now, which is even better. She takes a quick look around at her allies, then repeats her spell-invocation, casting additional Winds of Healing at Cure Passion and at Fate-san - both of them appear to need it at this point, the latter far more so.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Fuu Hououji's debuffs are cleared!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

It's hard to pay attention to everything in the fight, but Lera has tried to pay attention to Fate. Her eyes widen, a little, as she hears what Bardiche says. Her head turns -- she catches Fate at the end of that super-fast movement spell, becoming little more than a blur. "Fate--"

She swallows. Broken Ground, in the end, is the one to voice what Lera and Sky both wonder: <Is that safe?>

Lera can feel the cold of the Red Drone Knight's armor, seeping into both of Sky's swords and her hands. She gasps sharply. She can see, however, something through the holes in the armor. "It's--it's like the drones that went for the last Keys! It's--"

<Pull back!> Sky commands. Lera does, but it's narrow; two of those blades clip into her Barrier Jacket. Cloth shreds away, falling into ribbons that disperse into so much light. Lera gasps, before she lands, eyes widening, as she is pushed back towards the wall full of buttons. She stares at it for a moment, then she looks back at the drone knight.

She points Soaring Sky towards it, snapping the weapon back together. The sword retains a split down the middle; red-orange lightning crackles between the two halves, before a bolt of energy flies at it.

Which is when she sees Cure Passion leap, arms crossed, and takes the blade that was aimed at Endo. It's not something she wants to see at all. "Passion! I..." She swallows, then she nods. "Are you both okay?" Her voice trembles with worry. "...We've got to stop them!"

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Aurora Bolt on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Lera Camry's Aurora Bolt, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Utena Tenjou's Block ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo's eyes widen when it's made known that the machinery inside of the mechanical knights is similar to the devices faced before. He doesn't have a lot of time to digest that information, though, with a giant sword heading toward him. He's frantically starting to get his weapon ready to attempt to take the blow when Cure Passion throws herself in the way, catching the attack before it can cleave through him.

"Passion!" And then she kicks it. His eyes widen in amazement at the display, admiration clear in his voice. "Thank you!" He's bolstered further by the return of Ren, but he can only hope she'll be able to take the next attack. For now, he has to capitalize on what he has.

"We're okay!" He manages that shout to Lera, and then he's lunging past Passion toward the white knight. He comes in from the side, heaving the glowing mass of Stern around in a sharp arc in attempt to carve into the drone while it doesn't have a weapon to defend itself.

COMBAT: Endo Naoki has used Blueshift on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly counters Endo Naoki's Blueshift, taking 19 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou's counterattack, Verhaltnis, partially gets through, doing 6 Fatigue damage to Endo Naoki!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

The answer to Lera's Ground's question is that No. It wasn't safe at all.

Not that Fate has time to answer, because the armored slashes rend the air, a whirlwind of axes and swords. Fate is caught in the middle of it, even though her intent was to speed away. The golden shimmer of her auto-protection spells crack under the strain, then break wholesale, leaving her barrier jacket thin protection against all the cuts to come. The agony that comes out of her throat is muffled in a shriek as she's sent hurtling away from them.

She was used to pain. She was used to trying not to cry out when she was in pain. She corrects herself just in time not to smash into the wall again but that's small comfort, her cloak flutters off her back, disappearing in a shimmer of light, her barrier jacket in tatters, Bardiche containing so many slashes and chips that she was certain he was going to fall apart. But he held.

And they were still coming, they were still after something, her head was swimming. "P-Primary?" <Heraut.> "Ren!" Fate sounds suddenly anxious.

Fate wasn't a real girl, not in her own eyes. She was just a magical construct with artificial memories. The only thing that mattered was her feelings. The only thing that mattered...

...was what she could do for the people she cared about. Her well being when stacked up to theirs, after all she's done? That's not even a decision. "Do it." <Blitz Move.>

She's there then she's not in the space of moments, instead she was in front of Ren. One gloved hand held forward. <Defenser> "I've got y-" She says without looking behind her, interrupted by what comes next. A concentric ring of runic circles. Normally they'd make quite the impressive defense against many things. But the recreated greatsword, even not aimed directly at her created shockwaves of such force that her barrier doesn't crack. It shatters outright.

It doesn't even put up a fight. Not that she blames Bardiche. It was her fault he wasn't functioning at full capacity right now. It was her fault. She takes the force head on, like a battering ram that strikes her whole body in order to spare the person behind her, knocking her sideways, and upwards until she's flung back into the wall. Hitting it hard, she all but crumples, sliding back down to the floor, Bardiche's tortured frame still at hand.

For the space of a few moments, she's still... but then... her opposite arm thrusts into the ground, as she pushes herself up on a single trembling elbow. Sparing a look at Ren's state. "O-Oh. Thank goodness. She's a-alright." She casts a glance at Bardiche, "C-Can you-" <Condition: R-R-> The yellow marble sputters in a shower of static, then starts again, <Yes S-Sir.> "I'm sorry." She murmurs to her Device partner. Glad that he was being so understanding.

<L-Lightning Bind>

It's not much against these titanic constructs, just materializing runic bindings that try to catch an armored wrist, a shoulder, a knee, or an ankle. Tries to hold them fast. For as long as she can. Right now it doesn't seem like she could do so for long but she feels like she has to buy them time.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Fate Testarossa's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Lightning Bind: Standard on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly dodges Fate Testarossa's Lightning Bind: Standard, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Fate Testarossa is Psyched!  Utena Tenjou's Fade ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Fiat Silver [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Fiat Silver's able to struggle at least partially free of that net even as the Blue Drone turns its focus downwards. At her. Fiat Silver's own masked head snaps up, mouth open in shock!!

That's one heck of an axe, after all.

Her gauntleted arm is free, though. It comes upwards as Fiat Silver struggles to call out, "Prosoma--" But it's not quite enough, the tight swirling blue circles of a defensive barrier snapping only slightly into existence before the axe falls. The noise is like an industrial press mixed with the shriek of ice cracking; Fiat Silver staggers back, away from that blow, her arm soundly shivered. The baton threatens to slip through numbed fingers as she gasps for breath.

One more pace she staggers - herded successfully near the others - before she stumbles and topples over, making a tight half-cry of pain in her throat. Her fingers slowly uncurl, which makes that half-cry become a full one. Behind the mask her head swims... Gravity seems to be growing harder, pulling her to fall forwards. The mask clanks just a bit as her head hits the ground.

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"I'm alright Endo-kun! Heraut is too!" That's right. Heraut is still functioning despite the Drone Knights' impressive attempt to end him. <You will be destroyed, Belkan scum!> Woah. Ren blinks and looks down at the damaged intelligent device, whom she can /feel/ thrumming with anger. Yes. Heraut has connected the dots and put the pieces together so to speak. It probably helps that the knights are all speaking Belkan when they attack, too. Definitely.

The White Drone Knight Ren targeted doesn't seem to take too kindly to Heraut's continued presence in this battle. As it transforms it's remaining intact sword into a /bigger/ sword Ren is suddenly very thankful for Fuu's spell of protection that currently surrounds her. Dropping into a low stance she watches the huge greatsword of the knight as he wields it with murderous intent seemingly focused on Fuu, whom she hopes can withstand the assault, while simultaneously preparing herself for a dodge...

...A dodge that she never makes thanks to the timely intervention of a certain little blonde mage with twin-tails. "FATE-SAN! DON'T!" Ren reaches out as if she wants to grab the younger mage by the scruff of her neck and toss her out of the way. But it's too late, the girl taking the brunt of the sword's wrath. "FATE-SAN! H-How could you?!" She shouts, though before she can run to check on her, she catches the distinct scene of someone being hit /hard/ by an attack from the Blue Drone Knight.

And that someone is Fiat.

"F-FIAT-SAN!?!?" No. No no no no no! It's just like when Setsuna was struck down at the bottom of the bay all over again. Ren feels her resolve starting to slip. If there's one thing she's never been able to stand it's watching a fellow fighter succumb to the enemy. Throwing all caution to the wind she leaps forward into the air, letting out a strangled cry of anger as she drives herself right into the back of the Blue Drone Knight responsible for hurt Fiat, temporarily putting aside the screaming pain her body is in from doing such a bold act. "I WON'T LET YOU GET AWAY!"


COMBAT: Ren Aizawa has used Full Body Check! on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly counters Ren Aizawa's Full Body Check!, taking 20 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Ren Aizawa is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou's counterattack, Faultierstreik, partially gets through, doing 10 Fatigue damage to Ren Aizawa!  Ren Aizawa is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The White Drone Knight isn't the only one that can hit so hard that being even /near/ the blow presents a deadly problem; Cure Passion's heel is easily evaded, but the force behind it is not. It knocks the robot's hand open, and sends the mighty, massive blade up into the air, spinning end over end.

It may be unarmed but that doesn't stop it from /catching/ Fallen Stern, and with a baritone invocation, vibrating /itself/ instead of a weapon. The resonant frequency screams through the air, tearing the drone's hand open (and sending terrible tremors through Stern itself) -- Endo's Device (with or without its wielder) goes plunging past the robot, after, towards the floor.

Fallen Stern cleaves inadvertantly into that mosaic of buttons on the floor, and as they tinkle a pipe organ's worth of tones, there's another apparently impotent grinding sound. It's ominous, it rises, and then nothing happens.

Meanwhile, Lera endures the unpleasant feeling of watching her nasty energy bolt glance off of the Red Drone Knight's sword. It glows red for a moment from the heat, but that's all. And afterwards, with a dismissive flick of the same blade, it sends another of those awful energy bolts straight at her, one of the ones that hurt Fate so badly before.

Fate's Lightning Bind makes it possible for Ren's full-body assault on the Blue Drone Knight to not be completely suicidal; its initial response is to try to interpose its sword, but that yellow ring of energy gets in the way, midswing. Instead it knocks her away with the flat of the axe, which burns to the touch with cold and sends her hurtling towards the ground.

The White Drone Knight, empty-handed, now summons /its/ axe. This all feels dreadfully unfair, if fairness had anything at all to do with it. It doesn't, though. The brutality here seems to have little to do with justice. It is efficient in the way that puts 'terrible' into 'terrifying' and into 'great and'.

It is the strong destroying the weak, just as they have threatened to do so many times before. Only this time, perhaps there isn't the power to stop them.

The Blue Drone Knight tilts its head as though listening to something, then slams a fist into the floor and summons another net, which it casts, aflame with painful electricity the echo of her own, over Fate. The Red Drone Knight flicks its sword a second time, then a third, now at Fuu and at Passion, and the energy bolts that scream towards them are wider than they are tall.

<< That is not your Knight. >> With this inscrutable remark, the White Drone Knight hefts its fresh axe blade, and comes straight for Endo, bringing it down again and again and again, each blow trailing black in the same way it did when they came for Ren the first time. Space is rent asunder.

And the White Drone Knight's greatsword plunges straight towards that open portal, which could have been a terrible threat to the Rainbow Bridge-- if it didn't, instead, demonstrate a terrible truth: that portal appears to be one-way. There's no getting back through it, and the blade sizzles on impact with an invisible field... then disintegrates into nothing.

There are, however, alternative avenues of escape available: several darkened hallways lead more deeply into the complex, and from the way that the sounds of battle have echoed down them, they're quite long, and these ruins quite large. Large enough to hide out within, perhaps.

COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Panzerhauer on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Fangenblitz on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Leiblichnacht on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Panzerhauer on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Panzerhauer on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Mana Charge on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou accepts Utena Tenjou's Mana Charge, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Utena Tenjou is Reinforced by Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Lera Camry narrowly dodges Utena Tenjou's Panzerhauer, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry's Fade ability activates!  Lera Camry's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Cure Passion fails to dodge Utena Tenjou's Panzerhauer, taking 53 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cure Passion is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly dodges Utena Tenjou's Panzerhauer, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's Fade ability activates!  Fuu Hououji's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa fails to dodge Utena Tenjou's Fangenblitz, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Fate Testarossa is unable to keep fighting!  Fate Testarossa is Quipped!  Tangle applied to Fate Testarossa!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Leiblichnacht, taking 19 Fatigue damage!  Endo Naoki's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

It was a foolish move, trying to just RAM herself into the drone and hope for the best. Ren is too blinded by anger and desperation to even think of stopping herself short. The fresh memories of her friends getting hurt beyond imagine is too much to bear. She has to try and end this. It's up to her and Heraut. It's all so clear to her and-

Her world explodes into pain in the next instant, the horribleness of the White Drone Knight's weapon washing over her upon it being used to smack her away. Her vision goes dark even before she impacts with the ground, and there is no dust or debris kicked up from the force of it either. Just... stillness.

<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

"It's fine!" Passion answers Endo, "We can do this, together!"

She doesn't call back to Lera, though; Endo has that covered fine, and she's focused more now on the moment, to keep her concentration up as she fights with him, and that's already hard to do. The call at Fate threatens to break her concentration already, seeing the smaller girl struggle. Fiat falling...


Proper address falls by the wayside as Passion sees the older girl take that hit, turning sharply back to the drone before her, stepping back despite herself at that awful, horrible /noise/ it makes. She doesn't do it in time to avoid seeing where that sword goes, a sword she expected to crash back towards them at any moment; the red-clad warrior has only moments to try to knock it off-course... and those moments aren't long enough. She sees the truth of the barrier. "What? But that can't--"

A blast bigger than she is catches Passion in the back. She'd started stepping forward, and that carries her, crumpling yards ahead of where she was at the impact, stretched out along the floor on her stomach. Her hand is still shaking when she hits the ground, reaching out to try to push herself back up again. Gloved fingers stretch towards the one-way door... And stop, as she collapses the rest of the way to the ground, silent.

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

Lera starts to get an idea, when Bardiche's barrier shatters like that, that it isn't safe. "Fate!" she cries out, watching her fly -- and with Bardiche still in hand, but looking worse for the wear after all of that.

Then Fiat Silver hits the ground, the little clank of the mask ringing in her ears. When she nods at Endo, it feels hollow.

The energy bolt coming her way forces her to move. She shoots, sharply, to the side -- and the bolt slams into the wall, but the blast from its explosion against the wall hurls her forward. She barely keeps her footing; she gasps, softly, and then she sees one strike down Ren. "Ren-chan!" she yells, her voice catching with panic. She sees the shot flying towards Cure Passion, and the explosion that comes with it. "P-Passion!"

<NO!> Soaring Sky yells, his voice causing a terrible crackle of static. Lera turns, in time to see the White Drone Knight cleave through the portal -- and it winks out of existence.

"W-We're... we're trapped," she stammers out, her voice shaking. She takes a terrified step backward, as she looks around. Tears start to fill her eyes. "Sky, what... what do we do?"

<I... I don't know! I--> The Device hesitates. <--I don't want to be broken! I don't want it to be like before! I don't...>

<Camry.> Broken Ground's chime is less hurried; less static-filled. <We need to get out of here.>

Lera swallows, before she nods, trying to wipe at her eyes -- trying to ignore the way Soaring Sky keeps stammering on -- and then throws a hand up. A series of bright orange flashes erupt; they're nothing more than a distraction, as Lera grabs the fallen Cure Passion. "Endo-san! Wind Knight! We--we've gotta get out of here! Get the others, let's run for it!"

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Her limbs feel more rigid right now than the stonework she kneels upon. She wants them to obey her, so much. At least she has the satisfaction of her bind slowing the blow upon Ren. She probably lived. For just a little while longer.

She wants to get up and make certain it's longer than that.

But the Blue drone makes certain she won't. A magical net of electrified energy catches her, and immediately she's slammed into the wall, pinned to it like a fly trapped in a spider's web.

Maybe she has an affinity for lightning, but that matters little right now in her state. Her limbs spasm under the strain, locking her up and making it even more impossible to divest herself of it. It's too much, her shriek cut off by the muscles of her throat locking up a moment after she does. Finally the blessed dark of unconsciousness finally taking her.

That matters little to the net though. It doesn't stop because she's had enough, it just keeps shocking her and her device, in the endless torture of electrocution..

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

This time, the Wind Knight manages - just barely - to avoid getting nailed by the drone's attack. She even manages to bring her sword up to deflect some of the blow, but she's mostly focused on not being in one place to get splattered by the red 'golem'.

She still takes enough of a hit to go flying head over heels, but she manages - somehow - to come to a halt on her feet, even as poor Fate-san gets zotted into unconsciousness. She grits her teeth briefly, then lunges, bringing her sword up -

And stabbing, through the 'net' but mainly into the floor, trying to ground enough of the net out that she can pull the blonde free.

She doesn't even try to pull her sword back out of the floor or the net once she's got Fate; a flick of her left hand, and the sword flares green and disappears, a swirl of energy vanishing into the Wind Knight's glove-jewel. It's not going to be a comfortable ride, so it might be just as well that Fate is unconscious as the Magic Knight of Wind makes the best haste she can towards the corridor ... wondering as she goes whether there's any way she can slow the drones down.

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

Endo is watching all of his friends and allies go down, Fiat, then Fate, then Passion, and Ren too. They all wrench his heart a little bit more each time, and it's all almost too much to bear.

He's doing his best to fend off the blows of the axe that's attempting to cleave him in two, one hand holding Stern's hilt and the other pressing to the flat of one side of it, using all his might to press the weapon up and over him as a shield. The force of the blows still rattle him, smashing him backward as he tries to find his footing again.

<WE ARE NOT DONE.> Fallen Stern's reply to Broken Ground's suggestion is an angry rumble. <THE ENEMY MUST FALL.>

"Stern, Lera's right! They need our help!" Endo is pretty sure that he needs help too. Despite Stern's protests, he's not quite sure how long he's going to last against the drones. Especially without his allies. If he'd had the choice he'd try and hold them back himself, but there are too many bodies and not enough arms.

<...VERY WELL.> The jittering, angry vibrations calm. Kind of. <RETREATING.>

Endo, once he sees his chance, lunges to scoop up both Ren and Fiat, hoisting and dragging them along with Fuu and Lera as they make their escape. He tries to fight back the panic and focus on the task at hand. Getting out of the room is the first priority, getting out of space will have to come after.

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

When Fuu whisks Fate out of the net, there is just the faintest hint of purple light beneath her, but it winks back out of existence too quickly to even verify it's more than a glint of radiance bouncing off of some combination of the Red and Blue Drone Knights instead.

What follows is harrowing. The tunnels are many and long and completely pitch black when not lit by someone's magic, and the drones are fast -- but oddly restricted in their movements; there isn't time to fully gauge the puzzle, but there's a clear sense that each of them enjoys a particular jurisdiction within what is increasingly obviously a crashed spaceship of some kind, and they can't stray out of certain paths.

There are close calls and lost hairs in the calling, so close it is in the end. But -- finally -- the group finds itself in another room, a new room, a room in which, somewhat worrisomely but also conveniently, the bulkhead slams shut after someone's foot treads across another one of those mosaic button things.

Drones don't slam against it, in any case; the last one was lost about eight corners ago. Slowly, so slowly, silence falls and the tension gripping the plight of the escapees begins to unclench...

...or, at least, alter, as the details of their whereabouts filter in.

It might be the front of the ship, or maybe its heart. After a few too many twists and turns, direction has lost all meaning, but this chamber resonates with it. Every wall is full of control panels, and there's a central column which might be -- other than the drones, and sporadically some minor ship functions like the doors -- the only thing that crackles, if very, very softly, with power.

It is made out of a swirl of crystal pillars, all over with rainbows, in stark contrast to the grays of the labyrinthine ship. There isn't much point in investigating it right away, not when there are friends to settle, and try to revive.

But later -- some hours later -- Fallen Stern rouses quietly, the gem on Endo's ring chiming softly, the chime itself oddly reminiscent of some of the sounds the ship, and the drones, have made.


He sounds unusually uncertain, if blunt as ever. But something is clouded within him, and he probes around it, only realizing its presence from the void its absence has created, all this time.


At its very base, a handspan above the ground, is its only adornment, easily missed in a rushed inspection: a panel the size of an open palm, with a single orifice, a keyhole --

-- precisely the round but faceted shape, and size, of Fallen Stern himself.


OOC: 'Some hours later' allows you all to do some social between now and tomorrow's conclusion if you like! Please save it, and we can add it to the master log with some editing to the placement of this 'final' pose.