2016-08-16 - Locks and Keys 11

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Title: Locks and Keys 11

In order to get Mami Tomoe and Sailor Pluto's Keys to the City, Ends of the World has kidnapped Madoka Kaname and Usagi Tsukino, whose Silver Crystal has been broken by the shock of her recent loss against a protodaimon, rendering her unable to transform. Sayaka Miki raises an army of magical girls to help get them back; though the hostage exchange goes smoothly, Mami opens fire thereafter and everything descends into chaos. In the midst of the battle, Usagi and Madoka's love for one another grants the former a new transformation, a new weapon, and new powers, and Sailor Moon returns.


Akira Moto, Homura Akemi, Kasagami Araki, Madoka Kaname, Mai Tokiha, Mami Tomoe, Nori Ankou, Setsuna Meioh, Steven Universe, Usagi Tsukino, Vita, Mikoto Minagi, Fuu Hououji, Fu Inobuzaki, Sayaka Miki, Touga Kiryuu

GM: Hotaru Tomoe


Keiyou Industrial District

OOC - IC Date:

08-16-2016 - 11-14-2014

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9vA7L8H4nc


Let it never be said that Ends of the World can't hit two birds with one stone. Or three birds. Or five.

Their webs are tangled, but sometimes the way that they intertwine are glorious rather than ghastly.

For the last few months, mystical Keys to the City have been emerging, Keys rumored to grant subtle influence and power over parts of Tokyo. If all seven Keys are brought together, they'll become a single Master Key, which would both greatly magnify its power, and affect the entire city at once.

Through various machinations, Ends has managed to get their hands on four of the seven. Tonight, they hope to get another two.

But they're faced with a problem: Mami Tomoe and Sailor Pluto (whose secret identity they don't even know, anyway) aren't the types who can be bought with their favored currencies of influence, benefits, favors, and of course cold hard cash. That leaves them with few options, and they decide the best is to acquire better leverage, in the forms of Madoka Kaname (known associate of Mami Tomoe) and the rumored-to-be-powerless-since-Tokyo-Tower Sailor Moon (who all those sailor-suited soldiers seem to care for, so it seems likely this will work on the relative unknown that is Sailor Pluto, too).

They dispatch their enforcer Kasagami Araki to bring in Madoka, and though she has to go through another Puella Magi, Sayaka Miki, to do so, she manages the feat. With Madoka in hand, they force Usagi Tsukino to turn herself in -- another birds-and-single-stone piece of efficiency that some elegant planner chuckles himself to sleep over that night. The Kaname girl does somehow seem to be widely connected in Tokyo's community of magical girls, to be everyone's friend... which also makes her everyone's weakness.

Meanwhile, just the other day, there was a battle at the headquarters of the Mitsui Shipping Company in Keiyou, relating to the owner's unwillingness to join a larger corporate conglomerate. He was being threatened by a magical girl, Kasagami Araki, and was so heartened by the defense he received that (though his mind rewrote the story as being threatened by a mobster and rescued by vigilantes) he has bravely resolved to not sell, no matter what.

The threatening notes magically conveyed to Mami Tomoe and Sailor Pluto, giving them simple instructions about where to go and when, send them to that very same address -- if, instead of the office building, one of the warehouses. They are to bring their Keys, walk through the front door, and be escorted into the presence of their missing friends, where the trade will be made.



The young man sighs and stretches, shaking his head in outright admiration. "This is going to be another one of your masterstrokes, I'm sure..."

His companion's voice is lower, older, more mature. "Your flattery needs work," he chuckles, throaty in his amusement as the purr of a lionine patriarch.

"Don't ask me to be chastened. I can't help but be excited to see the master at work. I look forward to watching this one play out."

"Why watch? The world clamors for men of action. World domination is not a spectator sport, my dear boy."

"You don't mean..."

"I do. I'm afraid you'll have to cancel your other engagements for the evening... you've been on the sidelines for too long. Think of it as a favor from me -- you wouldn't want anyone to think your skills are... rusty... from disuse."

The younger man, both stung and himself also amused, does his best to show only the latter as he goes hunting for his shoes. He knows, with keen humiliation, that this is happening to remind him that he's not an equal, whatever his place in the inner circle. He's not above being used like this. Not yet. And he's probably also being reminded of that fact in order to inspire him to further greatness, more strenuous ambition. He both resents and admires that layer of manipulation as well, even as he's the victim of it. "You needn't worry about /that/. I've never disappointed, in any arena."



This particular warehouse is both at the heart of a labyrinth of massive, metallic shipping crates, and contains within it another maze comprised of both more of the same, and marginally smaller boxes that have been unloaded from them. It is dark, cold, and cramped. It is in fact more claustrophobic than usual, because it seems likely that these creates are not normally organized in a way that creates only a single, narrow, metal-lined path from the door to the only open space.

There is another way in. This warehouse has narrow windows just under the rooftop, all along the walls. Passing through them, people could be on the top of the stacks, in a gap between crates and the ceiling. There isn't room to stand, but there is room to crawl.

It is, of course, possible to create other entries with magic, but the image of blasted-aside crates crushing people inside when they shouldn't be is easy to imagine. Caution is required.

As promised, escorts await just inside the front door -- clean-shaven, inscrutable men in black, eyes invisible behind sleek mirrored shades. They are quiet but firm presences, scrupulously polite professionals.

"Right this way," they say to Mami Tomoe and Sailor Pluto, once the magical girls demonstrate that they've brought their Keys, which shine like lamps in the darkness of the warehouse. The men in black are willing to let them bring more people inside if they so choose, which is in its way deeply ominous. That, or they really, sincerely trust the effect of the combination of guns and swords leveled at the two girls inside. In a twisted way, that could be construed as a compliment towards the magical girls; there's little question that they care deeply about their friends.

The one in charge exudes charisma, even under such despicable circumstances. There's a magnetism to the way he moves, crossing to the middle of the room, the threatened girls behind him, the newcomers before. His arms lift, and he could be welcoming them to a ball, rather than a hostage exchange.

He is completely unrecognizable as Student Council President Touga Kiryuu; though the two have things in common, such as magnificently long and radiant red hair, and a smile that could banish the sun from the sky out of shamefully dim comparison, and a suit that fits him not just like a glove, but a glove tanned from the leather of the last member of an endangered species. He is sickeningly handsome, and no anonymizing magic can change that.

But magic there is, in the golden opera mask that glints across his eyes and nose. This intoxicating man is a stranger.

"I bid you welcome, ladies," he greets, at the intersection of coolness and elegance, with just a hint of excitement. He's very pleased they're here. "If you would be so good as to surrender what is precious to me, I will gladly return what is precious to you."

He holds out his hand expectantly, while gazing levelly at Mami and Pluto. He's the first person here without those sunglasses; his eyes are a brilliant, dangerous green, the kind of green that reminds people that real forests aren't really pleasant and safe like in the storybooks. Life, raw vivacity, is a powerful and dangerous force indeed, and so is he.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nh9uqU3tZE

Madoka is secured to her chair by some seriously high-grade knots, and at first glance it seems excessive to have her bound to that degree. She looks so small, so out of place. The bindings around her wrists and ankles seem to just swallow her up, and the way her legs and back and shoulders are all extensively restrained is just absurd, like an ugly, cruel joke.

That is, unless they were serving the dual purpose of holding her upright because she was unconscious when she was tied up.

From what can be seen of her beneath the ropes, she's essentially unharmed. If there are bruises and scrapes, they're extremely humble, the sort that a delicate little body picks up being roughly transported, and maybe some more from trying futilely to struggle against captors and the ropes themselves, but nothing serious. More notably, the sleeves of her winter uniform have been cut off for some reason, baring her skinny little arms, goosebumpy, the invisibly tiny hairs all standing on end to salute the cold. One arm has a strip of cloth -- the cloth of her sleeve -- wrapped around it, like a sloppy, makeshift bandage. Its pressure has been improved by tying one of her cheerful red ribbons around it, too, so half of her hair tousles loosely around her shoulders and across her face. The other twintail remains intact, if a little bit askew.

She is gagged, and blindfolded, too. It's unclear whether or not they added earplugs for completeness' sake. Her nose is clear, and with every shallow breath, she inhales the very distinctive scent of sharp, bared steel, and gunmetal, too. Normally she associates them with her best friend and her weirdest friend, respectively, but it's impossible to use that thought for comfort when there's a round pressure at the base of her spine, and an edged one, sharp enough that she can feel its proximity every time the air is stirred, behind her neck. She can feel the heat of the two men holding them, too, every time they breathe.

Madoka holds very, very still.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1aYbwwJdOE&list=PL5C894E719DEECEB2&index=29

And beside that girl... is another.

Her arms are bound to its arms and legs are bound to its legs. These bonds are tight enough that she can't really move all that much, except to maybe jostle the chair. Given the likely the result of that, it doesn't seem wise. Her blue eyes are covered by a dirty blindfold, streams which are tearstains leaking out. There's a gag over her mouth that prevents her from speaking coherently. Yet she's trying to anyhow, trying to make sounds that don't amount to more than MMMMM! MMMMF! Trying to turn her head enough to look in the direction of the man speaking.

Obviously she doesn't like him very much.

Her white uniform blouse is dirty, coffee stained in fact. She isn't wearing her uniform jacket over it, so she'd be shivering if she wasn't so flush with worry and anger, and sadness and so many emotions.

And yet to those who know her, it's unmistakable who she is. Odango topped twintails that run freely down the back of the chair. Her Brooch, the Crystal Star hanging from the ribbon in the center of her blouse.

It has to be Usagi Tsukino.

To those who are actually in on the secret, why she isn't Sailor Moon right now might be anyone's guess. That she was defeated is the logical guess at least. But- perhaps there's another reason for that.

Either way, she is bound, helpless, and completely at the mercy of these people holding her. There are no signs that she's been outwardly harmed but perhaps it is her powerlessness right now to save her friend that she only knows is a few feet away that is the most painful part of all...

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
Unlike the masked Touga, Kasagami Araki is entirely herself. As magical girls enter and Touga greets them so charmingly despite the situation, a near-demonic grin is forced to the young woman's face. Her head is tilted as she looms behind the red-haired young man, one booted foot one a chair as she stays very near the two men with their blades holding up the bound hostages.
The image she tries to project is looming menace. Her own sword is in front of her. Her coat seems to make the shadows more intense around her to the point that her dark grey eye seems to glow in the light.
She laughs lowly, playing the monster. A keen eye might notice, however, bloodshot eyes and stains on her cheek that she couldn't quite fix before this all started. For now, she's just a presence of strength and would-be intimidation.
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

For Mami Tomoe, it began earlier, with a call to her phone. ...Or was it earlier? Was something like this inevitable?

Mami spent her fear for her friend, her guilt for not being there faster, her frustration over the situation--all of them, she spent over that note she was given, as she could see no other way to help Madoka Kaname than to go along with these people she's sure she can't trust. She spent those, and more.

But now she's at the directed address, and no more of it shows. Her makeup is freshly applied, erasing any thought that tears could have stained her face. Mami's amber eyes are hard, as unreadable as her expression, save for the thin lines of anger that even Mami Tomoe can't hide. 'Here', however...

Still dressed in her Ohtori High School uniform, Mami sees little point now in attempting to hide her identity. She's well-known in the magical community... and obviously known to whoever these people might be. She is not an imposing figure, not obviously someone to merit this kind of treatment. But her characteristic drills bounce along behind hr as she walks, and once she stops, she shows the brilliant look of a key that she's protected this long.

Shows, but only shows; it closes back into her hand as soon as the man in black is give a look.

It could be a compliment. But it only stings Mami.

There's only brief time to share a look with Sailor Pluto, to remember how she said she would protect the key to /her/. It's a surprise that she's here, of all people, in light of that. But she knows... Heroism has limits. And they've found the Ends of hers.

What finally jars Mami is not the handsome stranger before her, but the girls in chairs nearby. Mami's eyes widen and she has to stop herself half a step from approaching Madoka, from seeing Usagi there and beginning to understand what could be the reason for Sailor Pluto's presence. She almost speaks up--

But there's that man's greeting. Mami Tomoe looks up at him, and there is nothing kind or sweet or heroic in her eyes in that moment. "Even now, you have to insult us by pretending this isn't what it is?" Mami answers coolly.

She lifts her hand holding the key, lets its light shine once again. And then she throws it to him, its light radiating off of the ring on her left hand.

"I've held up my end. Now let her go."

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Firm, regular footfalls mark the advance of Sailor Pluto, Guardian of Time, fully bedecked in her senshi regalia: dark-skirted sailor suit with its dark red bow, Garnet Rod silvery and slender and gripped loosely in one gloved hand, elongated chevron earrings winking in the light cast by the Key of the City which dangles from her belt amongst other, more esoteric-looking keys. Pluto has come alone, as she is used to doing; she is a thoroughly self-sufficient soldier accustomed to fighting solitary battles on cosmically isolated battlegrounds. The magical missive described a situation she felt comfortable handling herself, and so that is how she has arrived.

If it turns out that she cannot handle it, then Pluto's two dear friends and fellow soldiers will still live to stand against the coming darkness, and that, too, is a familiar part of her planning. She knows this to be something they understand.

Short to her tall and fair to her dark, Mami Tomoe walks beside Pluto. They seem oddly-matched in the more obvious ways, but one quality they share: their calm composure, at odds with the situation they're in. Pluto nods acknowledgement to Mami as they meet and begin their walk together, making note of the serious set to the girl's face, and wonders to herself what the Puella Magi has planned. The combined melodies of the Japanese National Anthem and C'est le Vie make an incongruous soundtrack to their escorted walk through the warehouse, playing from their Pluto's and Mami's respective Keys.

Pluto's heels click two final times as she squares off to face the masked man and his keenly-edged charm. It only takes a moment for her to see Usagi's state, and while externally her only reaction is the appearance of a faint line between her eyebrows, internally... she feels a lurch, like Time itself has shifted precipitously, yet knows there is no such alarm. It is only her fear for her now-and-future Princess, vulnerable and surrounded by cold menace.

This is why she is here. After weighing options and threats, possibilities and promises, Sailor Pluto has made the only decision she could. She tells herself it is the expedient and correct one, the one which will keep the world safest, and that it has nothing to do with the fear unbalancing her insides.

She unclips the Key of the City from her belt and the other keys jangle, dissonant somehow. "Release Usagi Tsukino and you shall have your price." Her voice rings loud and clear, unwavering, and she holds the shining Key out in the flat of her palm.

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki transforms into Crimson Rose Duelist!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has fully healed herself. She is now ready to take on 5 opponents!
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"The power of a wish of healing. It really is remarkable!"

Sayaka's bloodshot eyes roll to Kyuubey. His slim white form has the long-necked poise of an Egyptian cat, made strange by the Saturnine rings about his dangling ears. Night comes swiftly this time of year, and the moon is already rising above Ohtori Island as Sayaka ties a scrap of cloth across a cut on her bicep. The steepled roof of the chapel is visible through the trees--those right next to the campus survived reliably. "You don't need to bandage a cut like that! It will be healed soon enough by the power of your Soul Gem."

Sayaka pauses, then tightens the cloth anyway, using her teeth for one end of the knot, unable to reach it with the hand of the same arm. "It feels wrong not to take care of my body, even if the Soul Gem is doing it too." Kyuubey's feline mouth is blandly pleasant as Sayaka hikes herself off of the tree she was leaning against. "Forget about my arm. You should be looking for Madoka," Sayaka chastens. Drawing a fresh sword from her moonlit cape with a sizzle, Sayaka lets it fall horizontal with a tilt of her wrist, looking down its length until it's glistening point. As Kyuubey's little thighs tighten in preparation to leap off the stone he's alighted upon, Sayaka speaks up. "No. Wait. I need your help, first. I don't know if--"

"--Kasagami Araki is actually on the student council or not," Kyuubey tells Luna, his tail flickering against the starlit sky outside of Usagi Tsukino's bedroom. "But either way, she has the backing of a mysterious organization, who sent Mami Tomoe--"

"A ransom note?!" With no sense of respect for its mystical origins, Sayaka balls up the offending note Mami has just handed her and punts it against the back wall of the chapel, panting steam through her flared nostrils. "It's not about Madoka-chan at all, then. It's another selfish magical girl. They just want that stupid--"

"--Key, each associated with a part of the city, which combined are sure to unlock incredible power!" Kyuubey explains to Batiste the otter as he floats on his back atop an open tank at the Verone aquarium. "But even if we hand over the Key, there's no reason for the kidnappers to honor their bargain if they can just kill Mami and Sayaka to cover their tracks. That's why Puella Magi Sayaka asked me to--"

"--find all the magical girls you can," Sayaka pleads seriously, hugging her knees as she squats in front of Kyuubey. "I know you know how to talk to all the fairies and cats and stuff. We need to--"

"--gather as many allies as we can and get to this warehouse to save Madoka Kaname!" Kyuubey enthuses to a puffy-haired boy, who was just moments ago enjoying a snack instead of being drawn into magical intrigues.

"To send a message that we're tired of bad magical girls who risk innocent lives for their own selfish power!" Sayaka fumes, pacing back and forth.

"And to find out what this powerful new enemy wants with the Keys," Kyuubey says calmly, using a bookshelf in the library so he can be eye-to-eye with the white-haired, red-eyed boy who could be his own, human-sized mirror image.

"Maybe we can keep the apocalypse in the box for once," Sayaka sighs to Mami.

"Now, Luna tells me that they have captured Usagi Tsukino, a schoolgirl from Juuban," Kyuubey informs a ferret-shaped Yuuno Scryer. "Sayaka thinks it might not stop there, either! She says--"

"--that if we don't work together at a time like this," Sayaka says, hanging from one of Mami's gleaming yellow ribbons as they traverse the city.

"And make sure Madoka Kaname and Usagi Tsukino get out safely," Kyuubey says, perched atop the computer monitor at the Hero's Club.

"Then we don't deserve to be called heroes at all," Sayaka says, face stern as she stands before those who answered Kyuubey's call. The warehouse is behind her, Mami and Pluto already inside. The deal is already underway; if it is to go wrong, it will be clear momentarily.

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

Homura Akemi has been on edge ever since Madoka was captured.

How she knew that Madoka was captured might be an open question. The truth may not be known. How she located where Madoka isn't a question. She may hate Kyubey, openly and fully, but she won't ignore him and put Madoka's life at risk.

That doesn't make her unprepared. She slips a pair of nightvision goggles off her head; her expression is stony and cool, but the way she simply drops the valuable equipment without a care is a hint of her uncertainty. The way that Sailor Pluto is with Mami...

She shudders. She fights that down, however.

"Madoka," she murmurs, softly. She watches those narrow windows from her vantage point. Then, she is gone.

Everything is much too close together to simply stop time, get Madoka, and leave. This leads her to appear, just after Sayaka finishes speaking. She lands on the ground; her hand reaches to her hair, then flicks it out. "I couldn't tell how many they have in there," she says. She pulls out an AK-47 from her shield, then cocks the Kalashnikov with a single smooth motion.

"We need to prevent them from acquiring the Keys, too," she says. "Madoka's..." She looks at Luna. She frowns. "...safety must come first."

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

"Mami-san asked me to entrust one of the Keys to her specifically," the Magic Knight of Wind states. "I'll absolutely do whatever I can to assist."

It doesn't matter exactly how she heard of Kyubey's message; the Wind Knight is friends with quite a few magical girls, so even if Kyubey didn't somehow notify Mokona directly, as soon as Fuu heard somebody needed her help on the magical side, she would have been on her way, transforming as she went - and all the faster for knowing who's been captured as hostages for the Keys.

Perhaps it doesn't matter specifically who's being held hostage; ideally, it shouldn't. Just the fact that innocents are being placed on the line in exchange for such objects of power as the Keys is manifestly unacceptable to the Wind Knight. Too many innocents have already been slain in the clash over the Keys; she will countenance no further loss of innocent lives. Even *one* life lost is one life too many, and she nods to Homura. "Both Madoka-san's and Usagi-san's," she says in agreement. "So. Prevent the villains' escape and ensure the girls' safety ... I'm sure that we can do this -" She looks around at the others who've gathered before adding, "- together. I doubt we're going to kick down the front door, though; we need surprise on our side despite not having much time to be sneaky ..."

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Earlier in the day, Steven was content with helping his father, Greg, to fix up a small rowboat that was bought used, to have something to spend the day together with. Rowing around the bay, fishing outings, the works. Just a dad and his boy, finding common bonding ground. "Are there different fish here than at Beach City?" he asks. Apparently there are! Steven finds out that there are even some unique to around Japan. As the boy learns how to buff the hull to reduce friction and prevent things from sticking to it, he takes a small break to get a treat to eat from his backpack.

Looking up with a bag of Chaaaaps, there is a... cat thing there! "Ahh!" he exclaims, fumbling his snack bag. He listens to the tale the small creature gives, imploring him and others it finds for help. "Puella... what? Oh no! A kidnapping?! We will be there!" A pause. "Lion! Lioooon, we got somewhere to be! It is important!"

Now, in front of the warehouse where the wrongdoing is going underway, a rose-shirted boy sits upon a pink Lion, with a hanmburger pack and ukelele on his back. A translucent spiral shield seems somehow connected to his bare arm, the boy pounding his fist lightly on the outside; the surface of the shield ripples slightly.

"I... no, we are ready." Steven pauses to look amongst thsoe gathered. He hopes to not let anyone down. "I will do my best! Promise!"

Lion faces forward, unflinching. It almost seems as even he grasps the gravity of the situation. "These keys are still around? I remember trying to get a hold of one once. They seemed important." Taking it back to the Gem Temple seemed like the best course of action until him and the others could figure out what was up.

"If things get really serious, Lion can get to safety really fast with one of them." Some of these people present he has fought with from time to time. Seeing those he knows on the field of battle helps him feel more secure when it came to helping them.

COMBAT: Steven Universe transforms into Steven Quartz Universe!
<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.


Batiste has no idea who Kyuubey is; indeed, save the Mother of Sorrows, it is quite likely nobody in all of the Sea of Tears has ever seen him. And even the Mother is a long shot. His eyes widen as Kyuubey lays it on the line, and soberly, he tells the white creature of kyuuteness, "I understand. My cousin will come, though all the dogs of Hell ride in the way."

"Here," Batiste tells Kyuubey, out of an obscure sense of thanks. "You can have this if you want." You see, he had just popped open one mother of a clam.

Now the clam is Kyuubey's.


"WHAT!" The windows of Nori's garret dorm room fly open in the sheer force of outrage. Batiste has to spend precious minutes assuring Nori that the fact that both Madoka AND Usagi are seized by these people has nothing to do with HER but is simple ill fortune.

And with that terror eased, or drawn away, only the HOT MOLTEN CORE of FURY is left.


La Sirene du Nord stands before Sayaka. Her face seems shadowed. Batiste lays atop her right shoulder; in her left hand is the Brazen Pharos, which seems to be leaking slightly, because it is as if a faint aura of light - if it had a color you would call it black or ultraviolet, but really it just makes la Sirene's position a little hard to nail down exactly - is surrounding her. She seems to be struggling to control her breathing.

"... I can veil them, and help them out, so that they will be safe," la Sirene says, finally, not quite meeting anyone's eyes. Batiste looks towards Steven with evident pleasure, seeing both backpack and large, allied carnivore (pink).

COMBAT: Nori Ankou transforms into La Sirene du Nord!
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki transforms into Puella Magi Sayaka!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Animals - Maroon 5 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BJ3ZXpserc

The man catches Mami's key out of the air with the effortless grace of a dancer, and then approaches, one clicking heel at a time, to collect Sailor Pluto's at the same moment that the girls' bonds are being cut by their keepers. One of the many men in black moves smoothly up to him with an open case, velvet lining waiting for the keys to snap into it like puzzle pieces. It is closed, and locked, cutting their music off sharply. The man bearing it immediately departs into the claustrophobic warren that is the greater warehouse. By then, Madoka and Usagi are already free; a deal's a deal.

Being not an idiot, the man doesn't turn his back, and neither do his underlings. He winks at Mami, though, given her declaration of his faux-professionalism being insulting. Really, he can't help himself -- what happens next is just doing what comes naturally. "It was a pleasure doing business with you, Mami-chan," he purrs, as intimately as a lover. "Let's do it again some time."

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe transforms into Red Roses, Black Swords!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has fully healed herself. She is now ready to take on 6 opponents!
<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Usagi's head stops trying to turn in Touga's direction the moment Mami speaks. As a contrast to Madoka, Usagi isn't especially still. In fact she's still trying to say something and it's coming out incoherent. Whether it's something as simple as Mami's name, or calling out a warning is unclear.

But when Pluto speaks her name, Usagi stills briefly. Perhaps she's confused as to who it is. But then as if something clicked into place, there's a sound out of her that despite being incoherent seems inquisitive somehow. Confusion wracks her, and it wars with elation, before being smothered by the despair of the situation. She certainly wasn't out of danger yet and neither is Madoka.

Her bonds are slashed and she takes a deeper breath, her eyes are open and she blinks her blue eyes rapidly to let them clear of the spots. When her legs and arms are cut, she doesn't immediately go over to Pluto and Mami. Instead she looks frantically to her side. She gets up out of the chair so quickly that she almost trips and stumbles flat on her face in a hopping, staggering recovery. Despite the feeling in her limbs, she doesn't rub them. Her discomfort was nothing next to- "Madoka!" She waits for the man behind her cut her bonds, to step away, for there to be no threat at the base of her spine. Once that has passed she then lurches forward at her as desperately as a dying girl in the desert who just saw water.

Putting her arm under Madoka's, she helps the groggy girl up trying to support her as best she can. Even at the same height, it's an awkward choreography. "Hang in there okay? We're going to get you out of here. Mami-chan and Pluto came for us. I'll stay with you, promise. We'll be scared together."

Maybe it seems absurd, given the danger, that she didn't just move off the stage. That she went to Madoka, that she didn't let Madoka do the same thing. It's only then that she turned to their saviors. All her sadness and confusion over Mami's actions was forgotten briefly by the relief of just seeing one of those golden curls here to save them. At Sailor Pluto, standing so tall and proud and beautiful, it allows her to briefly dispel the doubt that dominated her thoughts. It allowed her to believe that no matter what the other Sailor Senshi valued, no matter what their mission was, what they were trying to accomplish. They were all still Sailor Senshi. "They drugged her with something to keep her under! She's going to need help." She's loud enough, that maybe it'd carry a goodly distance.

The two girls start hobbling towards the other pair, both trying to support each other, irrespective of their capabilities right now... they just have to make it to them, and everything will be alright. There's no doubt of that in Usagi's mind right now. Get to Mami Tomoe and Pluto- and they'd be safe.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Just like in the fairy tale, Madoka's veils fall away gradually. First the ropes on her hands and feet, revealing some chafing, but less than might be expected; more subtly, there's a slow shift of color, as her blood changes course to revitalize her extremities. The sun comes up in her fingertips, sluggish but warm. Next it's the gag -- the room fills with the sound of Madoka inhaling fresher air. Then the blindfold is off, and it's possible to see her entire face; how so much fear, exhaustion and bewilderment can fit into one pair of tearful eyes, be drawn across a teeny little nose and across her trembling lips is a horrible wonder to behold.

Finally they cut her free of the chair, and it's in that moment that the order of operations becomes logical. She slumps, and almost falls. But Usagi's there to grab her, and she weakly clings to her friend like a lifeline in a storm. Somehow she finds her feet, looking groggy and miserable, and the world that spins around her resolves vaguely into people she knows, and people she doesn't. She shrinks from Kasagami, stumbling over her feet in a drunken shuffle as she tries to tow Usagi away, but mostly has to be the one towed, instead. The port in their storm is beautiful, though. Mami Tomoe hasn't even transformed, and she's already golden and glorious, great and terrible. Sailor Pluto she doesn't recognize, but to her the sailor collar and bow are as synonymous with love and justice as any sigil of superheroism, and she is comforted, regardless.

After a few long moments, the two girls manage to drag each other across the finish line. Madoka resists the urge to cling to Mami, though, even though she's dizzy, even though she wants to hug her and babble and weep.

A year into her Magical Girl Experience internship program, Madoka has fully internalized Rule Number One: when things are dangerous, don't get in the way. Instead, she leans into Usagi's coffee-stained shoulder, and cries quietly, releasing the pressure valve on terror and relief, all at once. "'saaagy..." Nature abhors a vacuum; her soft wail replaces the song of the Keys.

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mami's eyes dart between the man and his case and between Madoka, being freed. She makes her decision in the moment, and focuses on the matter at hand, the ugly room and the ugly things that have been done to not one, but two girls she cares about.

The key will have to be sacrificed. Mami knows what it means, but...

She made that choice when she decided to come here. She can't know whether Sayaka's plan has borne fruit; she can only act based on what she can see, here. ...Usagi's distress is already more of a surprise than she wanted.

What she can see is the men wise enough not to turn their backs on her. What she can see is Madoka, swaying, not walking well under her own power at all. Can that really only be how she was bound? Mami's eyes dart back--and then after looking over Usagi, Mami narrows her eyes at the man who practically rubs the whole business in her face... until he says that /name/, and her lip twitches. "Right. A pleasure," she repeats, without an ounce of it in her voice.

The only break in her expression is brief, when she looks at Madoka Kaname, worries at her for just a moment. But even after that, even after the twinge in her heart hearing Usagi and Madoka together, Mami's features are once again like marble. Madoka knows how danger works. And she and Usagi have one another.

Yes. They have each other. That's what matters.

Only once they're closer to her than the men leaving does Mami allow herself anything but vigilance. Even Usagi's news that nearly stops her heart about what has been done to Madoka doesn't show in her face. But then...

Then, she speaks up, a little warmth almost slipping into her voice.

"You made a mistake." A pause. Mami's mouth is thin, her voice even, exacting, as a soft glow enfolds her hand, becoming a gem. "Instead of kidnapping my friend..."

She reaches into a pocket of her jacket, extracting a little gray-and-black object, glinting dark even amidst the flourescence of the lamps above. The blonde presses it against the gem in her hand--and there's a sudden and painful flash of light, sharp and pure and brilliantly golden, as Mami uses all of the Grief Seed's power at once.

SOUNDTRACK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqQ3hP_q7Ns

Suddenly Mami is in motion, almost too fast to see; she spins on her heel, a golden glow bursting forth from her Soul Gem as she tosses it up above her head. The light is searing, radiant, hot with promise. As her clothes transform in the span of heartbeats, a loose white sleeve taut as Mami raises her left hand. Her feet are still aglow, her hat transfiguring into the ornate design she's long favored, as she's halfway through her turn. The glow at her hatpin is searing, too, as dozens of rifles burst into being in radiant color, filling the space entirely between Mami and those who sought to hurt her friend, pointed at every man in black... and at the masked man and Kasagami, too.

The next heartbeat comes; Mami Tomoe, Puella Magi, stands admist boxes and darkness, oncrete and wood and metal, her amber eyes hard as if from long years of battles never quite like these, standing as if amidst ethereal music. She speaks again, in the same measured tone... but now with a smirk on her face that doesn't reach her eyes.

"You should have just killed me for it directly."

The roar of gunfire echoes through the warehouse, deafeningly loud at the Puella Magi's silent command. It's just as bright. More than bright enough for a signal.

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe transforms into Puella Magi Mami!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Wall on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Wall on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Mami Tomoe's Tiro Wall, taking 15 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly dodges Mami Tomoe's Tiro Wall, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Kasagami Araki's Fade ability activates!  Kasagami Araki's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Homura's sudden appearance puts Sayaka into a stiff, improvised kung-fu stance for a moment, but she lets her arm and leg down with a sigh when she sees who it is. "Transfer student," she says, with her usual hostile tone. But she chews on something, eyes averting. "I'm..." She clears her throat. "...glad you came," she forces out the confession crossly. They agree, after all. Madoka's safety comes first.

Sayaka grins hugely at Steven, leaning over to stuff a hand into his 'fro and rub it around in sisterly fashion. "I bet he is super fast," she says. "Thanks for coming. I'm glad to see so many people..." Sayaka sniffles briefly. "In fact," she says sternly, standing up straight again and placing her hands on her hips.

"I want to thank all of you for coming!" Sayaka says, eyes travelling across the Yuusha, the HiME, the Gem, the Magic Knight and Siren and Mage and even the little mascots who have shown up to do what's right. "This really makes me happy to see! Sometimes it's easy to forget what a special thing it is to be a magical girl, right? And how hard everyone's working to do the right thing." Sayaka lifts a finger to the sky. "It really makes me feel more optimis--"

Sayaka stumbles forward a few steps as a massive cannonade sounds from within the warehouse, eyes wide with alarm and shock. "Waa!" she exclaims. "What--those dirty!" Sayaka rips a sword angrily from the inside of her cape. "All right! We're going in! Somebody make!" She gesticulates wildly, ending by throwing her arms in opposite directions. "A big hole!"

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

A pessimist by experience, Kasagami is rather surprised to see Mami and her comrades actually come to make a deal rather than bust in to the place. It's what she would have done. But some part of her actually respects the care for their friends shown here. Pluto has much the same, calm demeanor, and similarly offers the key.

This operation, for once, might go off without a hitch. Kasagami feels the slightest bit of hope. Whether that's for a job well done or for her lingering guilt over Madoka is anyone's guess.

A single eye bores equally towards the two young women. She feels her muscles tighten like a coiled spring at the sense of Mami's anger and Pluto's resolve. It gets her blood running and heart pumping in excitement.

The exchange, however, is made and leaves her conflicted. One hand, the lack of a fight is disappointing. On the other, seeing the job seemingly done and Madoka free is the slightest of balms on her conscious. Touga might hear the slightest sight of relief she can't quite choke back.

But even as the deal is on, so is Puella Magi Mami Tomoe, and she's not a happy young woman. Kasagami hurk's aloud as that blinding light does it's job. She instinctively kicks away the chair and lands in a fighting stance even as there's horrible lights behind her now burning eyeball.

They only clear and she opens it to see a wall of guns pointed at her. No time to think, just ask. Those ribbon-bullets are fast. The sounds of black boots scuffling hard on concrete comes as every shot whisks narrowly past her by the most razor's of edge. Her coat is shot in sides, arms, and rips up much of the roses on her neck to cause them to float around her dramatically. It's that last shot aimed to her that gets dangerously close. She has to lean back with her head almost pointed to the wall behind her and turn her cheek as it scrapes by to muss her cheek and take out several short, messy black locks of hair.

Her eye trembles, and she lets out a sigh of startled relief. That was /close/. It turns to a grin as she leaps into a back-roll that sends her to her feet properly.

"So that's how it is, MAMI!? First retrieve your friends, give an honest deal, and /THEN/ kill us all!? Such bravery! Such ruthlessness! I LOVE IT!"

Reckless as ever, the Crimson Rose Duelist smashes one foot into the ground and kicks off into a blurr of motion that's more easily seen by the flurry of dark red roses left in her passing as she flashes from metal container to metal container, leaving holes from simply kicking off of them. The loudest CRUNCH comes as she alights on Mami's own shipping container as she digs in with both feet after trying to just appear at her side. That nodachi's already been drawn, already aiming straight to remove the Yellow Knightess of her head in a flash of sparkles and flashing light.

Or, at the very least, she's going to do her best to give Mami a few less hairdrills to do in the morning.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Still as a stone, Sailor Pluto stands as the flame-haired kidnapper takes the Key from her. She waits for the two captive girls to be freed, waits for them to be free and clear of immediate danger, with the clenching of her hand around the Garnet Rod the only betrayal of her tension. It takes too long, too long for them to cross the floor, and the staff's haft is painful in her grip by the time they finish their journey.

Usagi and Madoka reach their sides, and the treacherous tilting of Pluto's gut quiets. She listens as Mami makes her move, standing statue-like by the Puella Magi as she speaks her piece. The brilliant golden eruption of her transformation blows the ruffles of her pleated skirt and whips her long, evergreen mane out behind her.

And when gunfire erupts Sailor Pluto moves, sudden and swift, to stand before the two newly-released girls as they cower, defenseless. She makes herself their first line of defense, and she is a considerable one.

"Mami! They are safe with me! Do not fear for Madoka or Usagi." She calls out to belay any of the blonde girl's potential worries, hoping to spare her divided attention.

The Orb atop that silvery Rod, itself an illustrious, stylized key, floats free, shining red gem casting its light around Pluto, Madoka, and Usagi. The Guardian of Time -- and of defenseless, beleagured kidnapping victims -- stands ready to come between them and any renewed threats aimed their way.

"Stay behind me!"

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Quiet Support of a Distant Planet on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe accepts Sailor Pluto's Quiet Support of a Distant Planet, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Mami Tomoe is Cheered!
<Pose Tracker> Fu Inubozaki [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Kyuubey's offered summary of the ongoing situation was brief and succinct. However, it was more than enough to light a fire within Fu Inubozaki. She had intervened for less and this was a legitimately worthy cause for Heroes like her and Akira to support. "We're on our way," the Hero Club President resolutely affirms to the small ferret like creature that always had seemed to have a magic girls best interests at heart. Fu now passed the word as fast as she could to her friends and fellow clubmates to see whom could respond under such short notice. But of all the Hero Club members, it was the newest one that a transformed and armed Fu nearly collides with on the way to the warehouse district.

Her green eyes go wide in realizing the danger that a situation like this could pose to any of them, let alone Akira whom this was potentially her first fight as a Hero. "Akira-chan," begins Fu solemnly as she plants her sword down to try to place both of her hands lightly onto the younger Hero's shoulders. "I mentioned before just how dangerous being a Hero could be, but I really mean it now. There won't be any hard feelings if you want to back down." She then lets go of the other girl's shoulders and offers her a smile now. "But, if you want to go join the other Heroes and help save that girl's life, then just stick close to me. They will never know what hit them between the two of us!" It is only mid pep-talk that Fu realizes that she was wasting time. "So if you're coming, then let's go!" The yellow clad heroine then grabs her sword by the hilt and starts to take off, glancing over her shoulder to see if she sees a blur of purple behind her.

But no matter what, Yuusha Fu would arrive just in time to hear Sayaka's thankful words. She gives the blue-haired girl a firm nod of her head before readying your great sword by grabbing ahold of it by the hilt with both of her hands. "We're here to help, and we won't let anyone stand in our way!"

COMBAT: Fu Inubozaki transforms into Yuusha Fu!
<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Have you had a nice evening, my HiME?"

The hour is late - verging on 'past curfew' - and while parts of the day's festivities are still going, people are winding their way back home. Mai and Mikoto, the former with a new good luck charm dangling from one finger and the latter holding a lucky cat figurine, stop in their tracks to look up at a streetlamp.

"Nagi." Mai's voice is cold, and immediately on edge. "What do you want this time?"

He does a little spin on his precarious perch, mock-saluting with the book he was apparently reading. Funny, that no one nearby seems to take any notice of him. "Oh, I've no stake in the game taking place - but I thought it might be amusing to see what you two have to say about this. Were you friends, perhaps, with Usagi Tsukino or Madoka Kaname?"

Mikoto glares up at Nagi, safely transferring her figurine to a pocket so that she can grip Miroku's strap with her hands. Her expression darkens when Nagi mentions Usagi, but she says nothing. Her grip tightens - she won't amuse him by talking, but it's obvious on her face that she /does/ know them. Her lips lift in a snarl.

And in response, the silver-haired boy just laughs out loud. "I'll take that as enough of an answer, Mikoto-chan. Like I said, it's not exactly my business - but if you want to see how she's doing, you might want to head to a certain warehouse..."


They'd snuck in through the side. Much as part of Mai wanted to charge in dragon blazing, she's been caught in too many SEARRS traps to make that mistake again. In through a window, in through the incredibly cramped quarters - and just able to get a glimpse of the deal in progress.

Briefly, upon seeing the man in the mask, Mai stops to stare a moment - and then curses under her breath. "Why is it that the jerks are hot..."

It's tense, and Mai is all to aware of the countless guns pointed at a couple of people she'd call friends - so she grinds her teeth, and holds Mikoto back. Or maybe Mikoto holds her back, it's hard to say either way. The situation gets no better when Mami Tomoe arrives, and for a minute or so Mai doesn't even dare to breathe.

Mikoto peers through the strangely-arranged crates, watching the scene as it unfolds. One hand holds Miroku, even in these cramped spaces; it's obvious she wants to dive down there, but luckily, between the two of them they've kept hidden until now. "Mai," she whispers, once she sees Usagi and Madoka have been safely returned to the side of the magical girls, "they're free now."

Mai lets out a breath when - as Mikoto points out - the hostages are released.

And then Mai gasps aloud when Mami shines golden, and starts shooting everyone in sight. "She's going to get everyone killed - "

'Somebody make a big hole!', cries one of the girls below, and Mikoto looks up at Mai. "Our Children?" She asks. The implications are obvious.

Mai nods, and says a single word with conviction.


Perhaps someone below might catch a glimpse of flame. But before more can be witnessed, the truth is heard as a pair of tremendous screeches - the cry of an aggrieved whale, and the shearing of metal. Above the warehouse, an inferno rises - wings of flame, engulfing a terrific dragon-Child. Kagutsuchi, appearing from seemingly thin air, grips the corner of the warehouse from without and tears the ceiling from the warehouse as if opening a sardine can.

From below, there is a rumbling, the only announcement as obsidian spikes burst forth below the warehouse ground. They strike forth at an angle, driving themselves through the wall and leaving jagged holes where boxes and mortar once stood. The spires rescind, after a moment; the holes remain, large enough to fit any respectable magical girl through.

Metal melts in the dragon's grip, a cramped warehouse roof now open to the night sky. In that darkness, above the chaos, a bright figure rises to join the dragon - Mai, held aloft on burning rings, hauling Mikoto after her with a solid grip. Kagutsuchi frees one hand to gracefully cradle the pair, fire in the night gazing down on the sinister plot. There, as Sayaka wished, is quite a hole in what used to be a warehouse. That might be it-

-but then Mai calls out to Mami. Loudly, with a bite of bitter spite behind it. "Do you have any idea how reckless that was? How dangerous? Is defeating your enemies all that matters to you?"

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha transforms into Mai and Kagutsuchi!
<Pose Tracker> Yuusha Akira [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

So much for getting adjusted to this whole hero thing. The Weird creature spoke to them. He told her about the threat and the lives in danger. That was enough. Capturing normal humans, regardless of gender was unforgivable. Akira volunteered on the spot, almost in sync with Fu. When Fu powered up, she followed suit. The cute panda fairy, Yanari appeared and seemed ready to go. A few flashes of violet light later, Akira was suited up, standing there with her utterly massive hammer. She slings it over her shoulders and hangs her arms over it, cracking her back. Then she lets it rest on one arm.

As Fu puts her hands on Akira's shoulders and proceeds to give a speach, Akira smiles, "Fu-Senpai, I didn't agree to do this so I can sit back and watch people get hurt. I'm in. Lets do this." With that she takes off after Fu. Yup a purple blur is totally behind her.

As she arrives and hears the speach from the blue girl, she simply smiles and bows her head politely. She clams up. She's hear to help and if necessary blugeon. Not so much talking. She is after all, still really shy. The fact that there are so many magical girls in one place, its entirely overwhelming. She'd never seen one before outside of Manga. Its all completely new to her. "Woah."

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Offered with apology https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0dWOiMq4FQ

Mami's not subtle about what she intends to do, but even fully expecting what comes next, the men in black...

...They Are Not Prepared. Silver spoons are no match for golden bullets, and these mystery men fall one after the next, too slow to get out of the way, too normal to hope to parry with their samurai swords, their gangster guns. The shadowy warehouse is briefly a strobe of yellow and in each snapshot of light, another man's death is documented, like dropping flies in the amber of time.

It's ugly, and the man in the golden mask isn't so much taken aback as he is mildly impressed. "You have a wonderful talent for death, Mami-chan," he compliments with utter sincerity. "Really, I mean it. You kill well for a girl."

Maddeningly, though, he doesn't strike back. No, Kasagami has interposed herself between the two of them nodachi-first, and he has no desire to get in the middle. Besides, there is other prey in the room and by all reports, more on the way. Instead he finally draws his katana.

It's really weird. Doesn't twinkle at all, not even a little; it is dull like Mami's Grief Seed is dull, in fact, not the exact same material but somehow synonymous. The weapon is red on black on black; red circuitry that looks very much like mystical runes, on blatantly supernatural-looking black metal, set in a fine black leather-bound hilt. Like any katana, it looks supremely deadly, but this one's bizarrity outshines its normal coolness factor.

The man looks at it a little bit distastefully, and firmly reminds himself that he's doing someone a favor by performing a live field test of this device. Magical girls who fought shadow-spun swordsmen at the World Tree, and some other places, might recognize what happens next.

He goes into a readied stance, and the way in which it seems open and easy is a lie, just like everything else about him. And, all around him, shadowy simulacra pop up, filling the room every bit as thickly as Mami's rifles did a moment ago.

And then they all attack at once, swarming over every magical girl they can find, immune to the flames, indifferent to their own demise. That can't be said of the real deal, who fights through them at the heart of the firestorm. He casts many long shadows, and every last one of them shares the edge of his blade.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Fist wrapped around the hilt of her epee, Sayaka glances back and forth between the thin duelling weapon and Fu's five-hundred-pound two-handed sword. "Wh-whoa," she murmurs. "That's cool..." She wonders if she could summon something that big. Probably not...

With a hideous shriek of metal, flame, and primal fury, the roof of the warehouse peels off, rumbling down to the ground in chunks, with bone-shaking slams of girders. Sayaka has to squat and place a hand to the ground when the largest bulk of the roof hits ground, knocked off-balance. She stares wide-eyed as further holes are rammed out the side of the wall by great black spikes of stone. There are now far more options for entry than she'd been expecting.

"Ahm... um..."

Sayaka lifts her sword high. "That hole is plenty big! LET'S GO!" Springing into a leap, Sayaka comes down on a lilypad-like platform of spreading musical staff, which propels her wih a symphonic retort. Using the holes in the walls for footholds, she leaps from puncture to puncture, then tucks her knees high and vaults over the side of the wall itself, coming down through the removed roof, sword held high. "Madoka!" she shouts, but before she can say more, she catches sight of the dark simulacra waiting for her below. "Come on!" she says, summoning another pale blue platform and allowing herself to rip through it to lose momentum. She hits the ground rolling, slashing into a simulacrum as she comes to her feet. "We have to find Madoka!"

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has used Caprice on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Homura's eyes widen at the sound of gunfire from inside of the house.

Any thought of a retort to Sayaka -- or even ignoring her -- is gone the moment that the ceiling is. She doesn't look at the two Yuusha here; nor does she consider the Wind Knight or La Sirene du Nord. Instead, she leaps for one of the obsidian-torn holes in the wall -- and then she lands on top of the wall that was torn off. She doesn't turn on the army of shadow men.

Instead, she faces outward, looking down an alleyway. It's hard to say what catches her attention, but something does.

Because there is a flash from her Kalashnikov's muzzle, as she fires bullets into the darkness.

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

Inside of Nori Ankou's heart, there is a storm. Tears have been whipped into a froth, orbiting around simple facts that have intense gravitational pull. Her two friends - two of her three best friends who are of this world - are in danger--

And that is why la Sirene du Nord does not do more than give Sayaka a curiously pallid look. Batiste tries to carry the note forwards. "It is wonderful, and I only wish the occasion was better!" he squeaks.

Things get loud. La Sirene stiffens. Batiste hunkers down. She raises her lantern, though she is perhaps not the best for blasting. Fortunately, someone else has released the hostages, which makes la Sirene's eyes widen, and THEN -- well. There is a hole. La Sirene does not have time to marvel at Kagutsuchi; Batiste does, but la Sirene is already leaping forwards, not too far after Sayaka, even if the blue-haired girl has greater fleetness than her.

As she sails through the air, la Sirene sees a sudden multiplication of shadows and that feeling inside of her ERUPTS, pulling her forwards. Her face contorts, the Pharos raises, and she says, "/no/, /NO/"

The Pharos's eye opens. A lantern-glow of light that is not in the color of Earth's own stars and lamps, but perhaps it is light nonetheless, an absolute value of illumination that pours downwards like a bucket brigade as la Sirene sails into the fray!

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Pieces of the Perfect Black on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Her eyes fall upon Madoka as they walk, she wanted to cry /with her/, then dry her tears, and just be there with her. But Touga's words ring in her mind. Dangerous. What was dangerous about her? It bothers her, it makes her think that her friend is going to be put in situations like this again and again and again. Right now she just had to walk.

Get to Mami and Pluto and she'd be safe. Perhaps she doesn't understand what's to come, naive enough to think that maybe it wouldn't break out in a fight. She only learns over the roar of gunfire, the haze of smoke. Despite herself, Usagi tries to duck a bit, taking her same height sister down less than half a foot. One hand rockets up to cover her ears, but the other is holding up Madoka and she won't sacrifice that no matter what. That right ear rings so loudly after.

She wants to say something reassuring to Madoka but right now things are so loud she can't hear herself think. The Crimson Rose Duelist is clashing with Mami.

Pluto sounds so distant despite being right beside her. But despite that she /can/ hear her and Usagi is effusive, breathless with gratitude. "Pluto! You came for me - Thank you! Thank you so much! You're everything a true Sailor Senshi should be."

Then then the rumbling happens. The metal of the warehouse roof melting, becoming molten, dripping, creating a gaping hole. It's all open now. Moonlight is drowned out by blazing flame on draconic wings. Mai is calling out to Mami but- "Kagutsuchi?" Mai is calling out and it seems so far away but it sounds like recriminations against Mami. "Mai-chan?"

The appearance of Kagutsuchi marks an escalation to the degree that makes Usagi squirm. They can't just stand there, she speaks to her friend, "Don't worry Madoka-chan. Don't worry - they'll protect us. We're going to get you some place safe and warm. A cup of your papa's delicious cocoa." The gunsmoke stings her eyes, but the tears aren't coming from that at all.

Her opposite hand finds its way to her heart. She wants to believe that she can protect them too...

... but she can't. Her failure just loomed so large, and she seemed so small.

"Pluto! Are you able to cover us on the way out? We need to- we need to- get Madoka-chan out! She can't get caught in the middle of this." ... Her either, and yet despite being ordinary Usagi Tsukino, it feels so natural for her to be in the middle. Whatever her answer, she starts trying to move Madoka away from the middle of the gun/dragon battle to cover at the sides of the warehouse. She can't really rush her but- is someone calling for Madoka? A white cape flutters, a sword tip gleams as it duels a shadowy simulacrum. If she was calling Madoka's name- their direction abruptly changes that way. "Here! She's here with me!"

COMBAT: Usagi Tsukino has used Gratitude From Her Princess on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto accepts Usagi Tsukino's Gratitude From Her Princess, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Steven looks to Fuu, and feels so much better seeing her in her Knight form. He is glad inside that she has found her power again! And seeing the Otter again is so cool! The girl surrounded by darkness he is with, makes him uneasy, but in a good way. Like walking into a pitch black room knowing a birthday surprise party is hiding in there. She is a good person despite how she appears.

The boy's fro is ruffled, and it seems to really comfort him somehow. Perhaps someone does it a lot? "I wouldn't miss it for anything! Especially when people are in danger." The stout child takes a few deep breaths, steeling his resolve for the upcoming fight. It will surely not be easy. He sits atop his faithful companion, knowing that no matter what happens, he is doing the right thing.

The leader of the bunch, apparently the same person who ruffled his hair, calls for an opening to be made! "Well I uh...--" before the plucky child can even cobble together some sort of idea, theres a MASSIVE DRAGON attacking the warehouse! Lion bristles as Steven retreats some into his mane. It... looks like it is on their side? Actually there are two girls with it, and both look familiar! "Please tell me they are on our side, right?" he asks meekly.

More fighting erupts inside, and obsidian spikes tear large holes in the walls; large enough to get through. "Now is our chance! Lion, Charge!"

The boy and Lion are inside incredibly quickly, and sees the waves of... whatever thsoe are. Shadows? The yare attacking the other girls! "Go Lion, Go!" the boy calls, and they both charge in with courage and determination, attacking any Shadows that get close, regardless of their own safety. They have to save the innocent!

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Lionheart on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

They need a hole. The Wind Knight purses her lips; she could probably do something to that effect, but doing it without hurting anyone - or at least, without hurting anyone *friendly* (or innocent, which is usually the same thing) - that takes concentration and focus ...

And she's still thinking that when Mai and Mikoto prove her wrong. A faint wince crosses the Wind Knight's face at the explosion of fire and the eruption of spikes - well, at least they have their opening. An effort of will gathers a strong tailwind behind and beneath her, loosing it as she leaps into the air, sailing across what's left of the warehouse wall and descending into the fray, her sword materializing as her boots touch the ground. Just in time, too, because the shadowy swordsmen are all over the place, and the green-clad Magic Knight swiftly brings her blade up to intercept the first onslaught, solidified darkness clashing against Escudo.

"Tch ... you really have *no* consideration for bystanders, do you ... ?" she grunts, blocking against the slashes before she takes a deep breath and forces it out in a kiai, "HaaaaaaaAAAAAAH!!"

Her leverage is bad, but she finds the footing she needs and wrenches herself into a pivot, dragging her sword around with her - and then she completes the circle, spinning around and slashing at her assailants much like a certain OTHER green-clad hero. Except that one usually wears a hat, and the Wind Knight's only headgear is her hairband.

The sword is the important part; she just hopes it'll open up *enough* fighting space around herself.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Spinning Slash on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Sayaka Miki's Caprice, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly counters La Sirene du Nord's Pieces of the Perfect Black, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Reverse ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Tactician ability activates!  Blind applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe's counterattack, Slicing Through, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to La Sirene du Nord!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly dodges Steven Universe's Lionheart, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Fuu Hououji's Spinning Slash, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Hotaru Tomoe's Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Rose Flash on Mami Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Vita [None] has posed.

Far away - barely within the industrial district at all, in fact - there's a somewhat unusual sight: A young girl in a punky skirt and punky shirt, her fire-red hair done up in twin snaking braids, is kicking her punky shoes over the side of a tall building, with an at least somewhat punky hammer - like a polo mallet with a grudge to fulfill - sitting across her waist.

In less punky news, the air over the hammer glows in a sphere bracketed by spinning magical triads. Within its murky depths, faint pinpoints of light.

<<I have located a large gathering of magical energy,>> the hammer says in German.

The girl kicks thumps her heel against the wall below her. "Hate goin' into a firefight," she mutters. "Still..." She frowns, and the hammer chimes, once, hollowly. The radar highlights a handful of blips, generating flickering readouts in the air.

Vita rubs her chin with a thumb, lips screwing up in thought. "Jeeze, that's either gonna be a total waste or a big haul..." Another hollow chime, and another pair of readouts highlight themselves, glowing with shining radiance.

"Hell," Vita grunts, and stands up, as wisps of red light begin to gather at her feet. "Twist my arm, why don't you."


With everyone focused on the exchange, it's easy enough to mistake the bright red streak tearing across the Tokyo skyline for something else; a meteor, an airplane, maybe even a magical girl fighting some other nemesis, far away.

But it doesn't stop or slow down, arcing downward even as Mami's thunderous blast announces the beginning of a war.

Even as Kagutsuchi appears and rips the ceiling off. Even as pillars of obsidian shred the walls. She's committed. And she's faced worse.

There's a hollow chime in the sky, and then the red streak splits into four more - steel balls suddenly blitzing down onto the building and field.

Each arcs around, repositioning chaotically before they slam into the ground, filling the air with dust and debris. Between the debris cloud, though, she can be seen, with her crimson skirt and bunny-adorned hat, floating grimly above the tableau with eyes narrowed.

People are dead. She hasn't seen that in a while, she thinks, dully. But she's not stunned by it like a girl her age should be. It's far from her first time seeing what magic can truly do.

She's only interested in one thing. Eisen chimes at her. "Yeah, I see it," she mutters. And then she surges - polo hammer pulled back and blitzing across the distance. The smoke betrays flashes of red light as she summons her swallow flyers, and the steel spheres rip through the cloud cover to smash into the ground at Sailor Pluto's feet, trying to put her and the people around her way off balance....

....While the Knight of the Hammer swoops in to try and pick Madoka up under the arms and fly off with her, like an eagle cleanly claiming a fish!

COMBAT: Vita transforms into Cloud Knight!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe narrowly dodges Kasagami Araki's Rose Flash, taking 20 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki is Psyched!  Mami Tomoe's Fade ability activates!  Mami Tomoe's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Vita has used Cue David Attenborough Narration on Madoka Kaname.
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami does get rather distracted in the next moment. Even the beautiful, creepy katana that Touga draws (or his words, though Mami might get to see teeth grit for a second), pulls her attention away from the sudden descending pillars that rip away part of the roof. She doesn't see the owner of said pillars, due to the fact she's staring into that massive flaming dragon with a look of far away horror. She doesn't see a dragon at all, in fact. Only a massive, scaled creature with six fingers on one hand. Fire everywhere. Her ears are filled with a scream.

It's her own.

It might be an absolutely brilliant opportunity as, post Hellfire Dragon, loses her footing to fall straight to the ground. Her nodachi clatters, somehow sheathed as one arm clutches the other.

Still, she's a resiliant woman, and with a little help from a shouting enemy, she scrambles to her feet in a far less graceful way than her usual movements.

"So you came for her after all, did you, little Blue Knight!? I'm impressed!" No, she can't help but taunt Sayaka.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto covers Madoka Kaname for Vita's attack, Cue David Attenborough Narration, taking it upon themselves instead!
<Pose Tracker> Yuusha Fu [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

As Fu and Akira made their approach, the leading Hero in yellow did sneak a grin over her shoulder at Akira. The sword-wielding heroine was ready to charge in, but there is a brief pause in the chaos while someone hopefully was preparing to breach the wall for them. This gives Fu enough time to turn and address Akira. "Remember Hero Club tenet number one," says Fu with a smirk as she readjusts the grip of her sword, her knuckles tightening. Sayaka's glance and astonished compliment causes Fu to turn her head enough to wink in her direction. But Mai's arrival and her Child's holely attack causes Fu to put her game face back on. "We can do this!" The young Hero calls out as a battle cry before rushing forward to follow Sayaka's lead through one of the many holes in the wall.

There seems to be enemies in Fu and the other heroes path. The only thing left to do was to cut open a path. The huge hunk of metal in Fu's hands goes crashing through the air in a wide sweep to try to force some of the shadow spawn out of her way. It's not long before Fu spies her true target. "Kasagami!" The yellow swordswoman calls out fiercely before looking back to Akira briefly. "Give a good greeting!" She instructs the younger Hero before leaping into the air and swinging her massive sword down towards Kasagami.

COMBAT: Yuusha Fu has used Flying Hero Slash on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly braces Yuusha Fu's Flying Hero Slash, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Yuusha Fu is Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> Yuusha Akira [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

The rookie hero smiles back to Fu. She nods slowly, "Hello..." She speaks. Her voice is very shaky. She would rather be facing a dragon right now then greeting a bunch of people... Wait a DRAGON?! Her eyes go wide as The massive creature turns a chunk of the building into barbecue. "HOLY SH..."*CRASH!! and TATATAT!!* The sounds of battle flood the area. Its definitely not something she's used to. It freaks her out a bit but, she's got a job to do. Tightening her grip on the massive weapon she charges in.

As she hears Fu remind her of Tenent number 1 Akira snickers, "A good greeting? How aboug THIS! HEEEEYAAAAAH!" That massive hammer is swung and SLAMS the ground with a thunderous crack. Its enough to shake the ground around her. From there she launches herself forward, leaping over Kasagami and dropping down behind him. "I think it was a good greeting."

COMBAT: Yuusha Akira has used Seismic Wave on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Yuusha Akira has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mami closes her eyes just long enough to shield them against her own attack while it goes off, and then is ready, with the advantage of knowing her own weapons in a way the men she's fighting cannot. She knows where each is as they fall, knows the places where her golden bullets strike.

There's not so much as a flicker of regret as she places the now-spent Grief Seed in another pocket, no show of feeling at all except a cocky glint of her eye as she looks up to the masked gentleman.

Sailor Pluto's words reach her, and Mami, who had been prepared to fight while keeping an eye on Madoka like she has many times before, now has to worry about neither of them. "Thank you," she calls back to her. ...It won't entirely stop her attention being divided, from letting her keep the same rhythm she's kept for so long, but...

Somehow, she knows that Pluto knows what it means to be a Guardian. ...More than Mami does. And that knowledge is all she needs right now.

As the smoke clears in that moment however, the masked man is still there, still quite alive, and Mami sets her gaze on him. "Yes," she answers casually, "I suppose I do. I may as well, as long as I've been doing it. And I've never seen a man who can keep up."

But it isn't only him. Kasagami makes her way out, shouts about her ruthlessness, and Mami prepares to brush her off entirely. "There was anything /fair/ about this deal?" she asks.

But suddenly there's Kasagami in her field of view, the very same description she'd been given. She's not fast enough with that realization to fully evade her attack, darting to the side and taking the sword to the shoulder, rather than her neck. Kasagami's skillfully-wielded blade comes off bloody, slicing through the Puella Magi's flesh as easily as through the air itself.

"/You/," Mami says, and before she can throw any venom the ground shakes beneath her and Mai comes charging in, followed by so many others. She puts eyes once on Sayaka--

But only once.

Mai throws the same words at her that she used once before, and Mami looks up to her briefly, contemptuously.

"It was exactly as dangerous as I meant it to be, unlike your mistakes. You should decide very carefully whether you want to /be/ one of those enemies. ...I doubt they'd recommend it."

Mami ducks back then, starting to fall until she turns it into a jump, darting around her own shipping container and up. In passing, she twirls, and there's a rifle in her hand; it fires, and with the momentum she spins and fires another, and another, and another, dancing mid-air on her way to the top of the container.

Every shot is aimed at Kasagami. She can't keep the sheer hatred out of her voice as, "You haven't /seen/ ruthless. I know what you've done."

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe transforms into Puella Mami!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Flourish on Kasagami Araki.
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

This warehouse was, is, full of more shipping crates and other boxes. 'Full' is now kind of a misnomer now, though. Can a shattered urn be full of anything? Because there are a lot fewer walls than there used to be, and no ceiling at all. The stacks remain, however, and they are doing things like 'catching on fire' and 'tipping over, with awful groans, when they're too near some explosively powerful attack'.

The shadowy swordsmen are strangely solid, but they don't make noise at all. Sayaka's clash with one goes swiftly -- he blocks, the lack of a clang is a little bit strange, and then she gets him with the second strike. He evaporates into nothing, though. No corpses here. Only a shimmering red rune -- unmistakably Alyssa Searrs' rune, the rune that was on all the Orphans during the Ohtori Invasion -- and then it fades away, and Sayaka is one clone closer to Madoka. Two more run up to engage her, trying to flank her from either side.

La Sirene discovers with some disappointment, perhaps, that the shadows aren't shadows in the literal sense, though it's an easy mistake to make for sure. The ones she catches in its sight aren't particularly consumed by the darkness of the Pharos, erased by being surrounded, though they're certainly distracted by it, engaging with it, slicing through it with the tips of their swords. Some try to slice through her, too, once they're close enough.

Steven and Lion charge into enemy lines and bowl them over -- bashed by a sparkling shield, crushed underpaw, they start opening up a space to advance through the groaning stacks towards the action in the middle. Fuu opens things up further with a massive slice of her sword. It sparks against katanas in all directions, and only one or two are blown back to detonate into smoke against the remains of the nearby wall, but still, the space she's looking for is now there.

The shadowman himself, the master of these puppets, is losing himself in the stacks -- in all this chaos, he is rapidly nowhere to be found. Mami's barb went unanswered by anything but a laugh.

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Shadowflank on Sayaka Miki.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Longsword Flurry on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Longsword Flurry on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Longsword Flurry on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki narrowly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Shadowflank, taking 7 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki's counterattack, Disjunct Chord, partially gets through, doing 4 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord narrowly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Longsword Flurry, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Stagger and Stun applied to La Sirene du Nord!
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord's counterattack, Les Mysteres, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Longsword Flurry, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's Block ability activates!  Fuu Hououji's Parry ability activates!  Stagger applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Steven Universe fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's Longsword Flurry, taking 24 Fatigue damage!  Stagger and Stun applied to Steven Universe!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto perfectly counters Vita's Cue David Attenborough Narration, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!  Sailor Pluto's Reverse ability activates!  Sailor Pluto's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto's counterattack, Garnet Ball, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Vita!
<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Madoka is rapidly overwhelmed -- she has no time to process Mami's choice, much less to judge it either way. She has no ability to process Sailor Pluto's instruction, other than to obey it, stumbling behind her obediently while not quite letting go of Usagi's hand. Her own is sweating, clumsy, as she continues to emerge from the cloud their plots wrapped her in for the last several hours.

The roof comes off, the wall comes down, the shipping containers shake, Madoka screams. A car -- it was a Lexus -- tumbles off a rack and bounces off of Sailor Pluto's shimmering field of garnet light, and Madoka shrieks again.

She is completely unprepared for what happens next, when Vita swoops in to try to grasp her; all she knows is that her toes lift off the ground and then she's falling down just as quickly, before she's gone more than a bare inch. "Usagi," she moans, she mumbles, "...what should I do..."

Sayaka's shout, by some miracle, breaks through the howling of the rising flames. "S-sayaka-chan!" she cries back, completely unable to match the necessary volume. All she can do is keep her head down and trust that Usagi is taking her the right way.

That part is easy. Even after they turn a corner and find themselves facing a small army of shadowy swordsmen, it's still easy to trust Usagi, as easy as breathing. Easier, even.

"S'okay, 'sagi-chan," she sniffs, clutching her tightly. "...we're here together..."

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly braces Yuusha Akira's Seismic Wave, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Tangle applied to Kasagami Araki!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki perfectly dodges Mami Tomoe's Tiro Flourish, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Kasagami Araki's Fade ability activates!  Kasagami Araki's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

La Sirene sees the familiar outline of a friend's distinctive hairstyle; her stomach unclenches significantly. They're alive! As she lands, la Sirene does not see Vita swoop down to potentially devour Madoka, which would have wholly undone that shift from relief to rage.

Then she is on the ground and beset by shadow-swordsmen, who press upon her with furious force. She weaves as best she can, wishing bitterly for a moment that - actually, the thought forms itself, riding the wave of relief from seeing Usagi upright and moving.

"Batiste! I need a sword!"

"Why are you asking me for one?!"

"Because I am busy," La Sirene says as she ends up flat on her back for a moment, Batiste scampering around her belly as she projects forth the silver-black burst of "Les Mysteres!" At which point she concludes, "I think that I could fend them off but - kyah!!"

Batiste leaps away from la Sirene, running towards the best possible person he can think to ask for this situation. He of course is not equipped with a blade, and could at best carry a short weapon some distance with his precious little paws and probably dragging it in his teeth. And that's bad for your dentition. But who else can he head towards, if with anxious looks back towards where la Sirene is tumbling and weaving as best she can -

But towards the font of swords - The ally of justice - Sayaka Miki!

"Excuse me!" Batiste says, leaping up to get on Sayaka's cape and thence up towards her shoulder, at least briefly. He points towards where la Sirene has leapt momentarily from the sea of swordsmen. "Please, if you have a spare blade, lend it to her! She's in fen-- er -- influential in the - the swording scene, in the Sea of Tears!"

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Carpe Aonyx on Sayaka Miki.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Well, thinks the Magic Knight of Wind, *that* wasn't nearly enough. She managed to fend off the first wave of her attackers, and buy herself a little bit of space for improved footing - but the swordsmen of (literal) darkness close in once again, and just fighting to protect that bit of room she'd opened is quickly going to become an increasingly difficult task. "As much as I enjoy Zelda Musou," she remarks dryly as she parries the swift, sequential slashes of shadowy swords, "this *isn't* part of what's so much fun about it ... !"

She needs an advantage, and as the knowledge rises within her, so too do words, accompanied by a noticeable updraft around her. It's not enough to really shake off her opponents ...


... at least, not until the words are given voice and become an action of her will. The rising breeze erupts into an expanding vortex, going from a gentle caress to a rough jostle as the wind's touch leaves the Wind Knight's form and encounters her enemies' forms - and this time, more than her blade, it's the Wind Knight's elemental magic that seeks to drive back her foes with decisive force - hopefully to throw more of them into unyielding surfaces, and scatter the resultant dark mists on the same wind that hurls the conjured swordsmen away.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Liberating Gale on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

The warmth in Usagi's grateful words, as glowing and bubbly as the girl giving them, bestirs an answering swell of pride from Sailor Pluto, deep down in her heart where she is Setsuna Meioh. The strength in her limbs redoubles, it seems, and she knows she has done the right thing, the only thing. Doubt washes away.

With a great groaning roar, a sound so massive in its scope and intensity that it physically bears down on the warehouse occupants, the ceiling peels away, flames flaring bright in the bared night sky beyond. Pluto narrows her eyes -- a distant arcing flame behind flames, she thinks she spots a streaking light. Then Usagi calls out again and she loses sight of it, preoccupied with keeping her and Madoka safe. The Princess is right, this is too dangerous.

Sailor Pluto moves with them, hovering, protecting, watchful in a way that only a lifelong Guardian can be. And she has known a great many more lifetimes than most...

And it is thanks to that, and that alone, that she is able to react in time. Steel balls ricochet down and around them, kicking up massive clouds of dust and obscuring most of the battlefield temporarily, and Pluto tenses, ready. When crimson thunders through the dust like lightning through stormclouds, a deeper garnet-red barrier shimmers to match, seeming delicate against the destruction surrounding them.

It is not.

Solid, shining, Garnet Ball's field repels the steel spheres like they're pinballs and it's a massive, magical bumper. Pluto shouts, a wordless challenge, and moves within the Orb's protective sphere to once again place herself between Madoka and Usagi and their as-yet unseen assailant.

When the punky girl swoops free of the billowing dust, massive hammer in hand, the spherical barrier holds -- just barely. It spends its final energies repelling her attempt at re-kidnapping the beleaguered Madoka and at long last gives way, a red-tinged bubble popping.

The Garbet Orb floats back to rejoin the Rod, sliding into place with a single *tick* that sounds like nothing so much as the second hand of a clock advancing. "You will not have them!" She spins the Garnet Rod end over end, accelerating until her hands are white blurs within the greater shining arc of her whirring staff. Tall and inexorable, Sailor Pluto advances on Vita, letting the Garnet Rod lead the way.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Pendulum Blitz on Vita.
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sayaka frowns at the mascot mounting her shoulder as she fences back and forth with a simulacrum. "Weird... Kyuubey's breath smelled all fishy like yours when he got back." Sinking her hand into the mystic fabric of her inner cape, Sayaka withdraws a gleaming golden hilt and its thin, silvery blade. "Um, can you... you're kinda small..." Sayaka just gives the simulacra a boot in the chest to get a moment, then pitches the sword like a game-winning fastball. It sticks into a crate near Nori. "Special delivery!" she shouts.

Catching eye contact with Mami, Sayaka smiles a bit. Senpai seems to be taking on the leader here, and she needs help. Mentally charting a path to Mami's side, Sayaka is interrupted by a sudden shout. She snaps a glare over her shoulder, the intensity of combat rendering her serious. Her eyes flit back and forth until they find Usagi's yellow-bunned head, calling out to her to alert her to Madoka's location. They then shift directly to the side (with anyone else, it would be 'down' but Usagi is equally tiny) to Madoka's tearful face. She meets Madoka's eyes, her own dampening. Mami and Homura blame themselves, but Sayaka knows this is no one's fault but hers. She lost that fight.

Wrenching her sword down hard to break contact with the simulacrum, she spreads a blue-glowing circle about her feet and launches herself in that direction.

"Madoka!" she shouts, a wretched hitch in her throat. As she comes to ground again, it's amidst two simulacra, one of whom she fends off with a dramatic swoop of her cape for a moment so that she can parry, twist through, and gut the other with a quick motion. The remaining shadow sweeps back in with a shallow slash to Sayaka's arm, but even as it lands she is leaping again. "Madoka, I'm coming!"

But Madoka isn't the only one calling for her. As Sayaka climbs a small pyramid of boxes with quick hops, she grits her teeth at Kasagami's greeting. "You must be joking!" she shouts. "That's my best friend! I'll chase after you as long as it takes! If my legs fall off I'll crawl! If I die my ghost will chase you!" Reaching the top of the pyramid, Sayaka kick-flips to the side and yanks her cape along with her hard, shooting a sword from it at high speed. As Kasagami makes for a shipping container, the blade streaks out before her. It will probably end up embedded as a brief barrier either way, but Sayaka is certainly not /avoiding/ taking a piece of the swordswoman off with the throw either.

She lands next to Mami, taking up a familiar position at her back. "You okay, senpai?" she asks, sword held defensively before her, positioning herself betweeen Madoka and Kasagami.

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki accepts La Sirene du Nord's Carpe Aonyx, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Sayaka Miki is Cheered!  Withstand applied to Sayaka Miki!
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has used Perfect Pitch on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Vita narrowly braces Sailor Pluto's Pendulum Blitz, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto is Psyched!  Vita's Block ability activates!  Vita's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly braces Sayaka Miki's Perfect Pitch, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Sayaka Miki is Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Yamiyo no Prologue - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsPG1tUmB74

There are shadows. For a second, secure upon Kagutsuchi's palm, Mai has the luxury of freezing in shocked recognition. These shadow-swordsmen...they might not be exactly the ones she'd fought back at the World Tree, or under Library Island...but it's a third verse to the same song.

Alyssa's sigil blazing in their remains, a month after the girl died, is a recognition that makes Mai go incredibly still.

Mikoto puts a hand on Mai's arm, because she can see those sigils, too. "Alyssa," she says, voice hushed; it's a mercy they're on the claw of a dragon, above the fighting, or else it might be impossible to hear. Her tone grows worried, packing everything about those concerns into one word, her friend-roommate-partner-companion's name. "Mai..."

Mumbling, half-heard mutterings - and then Mai jerks, jolted from that mental loop by a single name. She blinks once, twice, and leans slightly into that comforting hand. "I'm...fine, Mikoto. She's gone...but whoever's behind all this must be connected. We'll have to be careful, but..." She glances to where Usagi and Madoka are protected by Sailor Pluto, to the ongoing melee against the shadows, to a dragon who is absolutely the wrong participant for this kind of fight...

And then - then, Mami answers. For a moment, Mai looks past the Puella Magi - to where, half-hidden by the shadows of the masked man, who knows how many bodies are lying. Allies to nefarious schemes, certainly, but even still...!

Mai nearly misses the threat. Those with her do not. Contemptuous words are answered with a hiss, with Kagutsuchi's maw opening to bare countless vicious teeth. A snarl, verging on a challenging screech, and a sudden heat in November's night air.

Mikoto's grip tightens around Miroku and Mai's arm alike when she hears Mami's words. She growls, a dark expression on her face, for all the good it would do so far away. "Won't let Mami hurt Mai," she promises, and each word is deadly serious.

There's a hand, on Mikoto's shoulder. Another, on Kagutsuchi's claw. In a brief moment of calm, Mai looks down at the battle, apologies to those seeking to do good unspoken. What she does say is loud enough to be heard by anyone who cares to listen. "This is neither the time nor the place - and considering the circumstances, the best help I can offer is getting out of your way."

A pause - and then steel in her tone. "Keep them safe." There's a final snarl from Kagutsuchi, but grudgingly, the dragon spreads its wings wide. A gust of wind - and flames head out to sea, so that no innocents are caught in crossfire this night.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Truly, Fu and Akira are Heroes. As that massive blade comes in, Kasagami can't help but return with her own! Mostly the sheath, though, she didn't have time to take it out again after her minor freakout thanks to Mai. But the greeting she gets from Fu wakes her up and distracts, almost as much as a gigantic blade. There's a smash and burst of physical power and clashing sparkles of dark red and yellow as Kasagami really puts her back into it. A small part of her sheath cracks from the impact.

One of the sleeves of her coat gets ripped away. Then Akira 'greets' Kasagami with a wave of pressure from behind! It pushes her closer to Fu's own huge sword. Kasagami thinks quick even as her coat is blown away as the back of her uniform blown a nice big hole in it to reveal leather-like flesh.

Teeth grit, her eye shines in enjoyment, and with a massive grunt of effort she swings up with her foot to kick the flat of Fu's blade and send her flying into the air, back to the ground with both hands outstretched as if to embrace the sky.

Perspiration falls down ehr brow, she breathes hard from the epic clash, and her laugh fills the air as she revels in the fight.

"Hero Fu, we meet once again! Glad you're alive!" She sounds utterly sincere.

Mami's another matter though. She turns mid-flight as she seems to stop mid-air on a bed of almost glass-like shining magic mixed with roses of her color to give her a majestic, floating fall as her hair flicks behind her.

"Of course it was! You traded something we valued that you had for something we had that you valued! If you didn't value Madoka Kaname as much as the Key, you should've just abandoned her!"

A pause. "You /do/ value her more than an artifact, right?" She says it just loud enough so hopefully Madoka will hear.

Hatred, anger, fury. All appropriate for the Yellow Knight of the Rifle that Kasagami is facing. The feelings of a warrior against an enemy that hurt her friend. Even as projectiles shatter her perch, Mami rages, and Kasagami falls to the heavens. Even her laugh is interrupted by the pure volley of ribbon-bullets. The look that Mami gets is surprise and maybe the touch of momentary fear at the veteran Puella. One bullet grazes her right leg, she twists in the air. Two more narrowly slide past her back. She lands near a shipping container. Strong legs pound holes in the thing as she's suddenly a blurr of motion. Wherever Mami's shots land, at times seeming to hit the young woman, there's a burst of dark red roses the color of old dried blood.

The last shot though nearly gets her right in the forehead, only the last minute shove of her blade causes the hilt to deflect the thing across her cheek instead. The impact sends her head crashing into the shipping container.

Rather than fall directly, a single slash, and then another hacks up this particular container into quarters in a flurry. Then, she slams sword and sheath alike into the huge metal thing! In a two-handed overhand swing, her muscles visibly straining hard enough to almost be seen through that somewhat form fitting Council uniform, the shipping container bit gets tossed directly at the flying form of Mami Tomoe to both block remaining bullets /and/ to simply crush her to death. She lets out a war cry!

"That's it! That's what I wanted to hear, Mami! Come at me with all of your hatred, your power, your STRENGTH! Shine like the beautiful Yellow Knight you are, the blooming rose of war and destruction!" As ever, Kasagami just encourages the violence.

But she has multiple opponents to worry about. Such as a certain Blue Knight hucking a sword at her thrown shipping container! It's one /heck/ of a throw as it impacts straight into the tossed container hard enough to slow, if not entirely arrest, the movement of the thing. Mami has much more time to get away!

This also sends a jagged shard of metal that slams home into her knee, ripping up cloth and making a terrible, hard bruise on her knee. From the shriek of pain, she'll be feeling that in the morning. Down to the ground she lands.

"You surpass all my expectations, Little Blue Knight! I'll dance with you when you're a phantom beautifully!"

Then, she's on her three other opponents. A slash of the air sends dozens of slicing rose petals at Sayaka. Then, both Fu and her new Hero partner each gets a pair of wide arcing slashes towards their shoulders as she leaps to the sky!

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Special Delivery on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Thorns of the Bloody Rose on Sayaka Miki.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Falling Petals Cut The Soul on Yuusha Fu.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Dance in the Petals on Yuusha Akira.
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Steven and Lion rush through the enemy crowd, swinging and clawing at nearby Shadows, carving a path through the crowd. They make excellent headway, but something happens. A creature from the left suddenly catches them offguard. Steven eats a hard blade strike that knocks him off Lion, who continues forward without him, still tearing through the crowd. The boy takes a moment to get to his feet, but manages to do so. "Oh boy..." he lets out, taking a breath and letting out a viking battle cry!

It doesn't really sound that fierce coming from him, but it gets him amped up! But for all the hype he gives himself to get into the brawl, it stops immediately when he hears Fu call out a name.

Kasagami. Wasn't that the nice person that helped with the situation the other day? But why are they were, fighting the good guys? He must have misheard it. Surely.

The boy forges on through the thicket of enemies, swinging his shield outward to hit the encroaching Shades. 'Hope Lion is okay,' he thinks to himself. He has lost sight of him in the scuffle. "Where are the victims?!" he calls out amongst the fighting. He could probably do more good keeping them safe than in the thick of battle like this.

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Shield Bash on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly dodges Fuu Hououji's Liberating Gale, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!  Bind Break! All of Fuu Hououji's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Steven Universe's Shield Bash, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Steven Universe is Psyched!  Hotaru Tomoe's Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Yuusha Fu narrowly dodges Kasagami Araki's Falling Petals Cut The Soul, taking 29 Fatigue damage!  Yuusha Fu's Fade ability activates!  Yuusha Fu's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe fails to dodge Kasagami Araki's Special Delivery, taking 31 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki narrowly braces Kasagami Araki's Thorns of the Bloody Rose, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Sayaka Miki's Block ability activates!  Sayaka Miki's Parry ability activates!  Blind applied to Sayaka Miki!
<Pose Tracker> Yuusha Fu [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

The more a magic girl fights, the more desensitized they unfortunately get. Fu had warned Akira about danger, but she forgot to mention how powerful some of the other magic girls are when it comes to summoning dragons, rifles, and all sorts of things. The powers of a Hero seem much more straightforward in comparison. As straightforward as lifting weapons that no normal person would be able to lift let alone swing that is. But whatever internal epiphany that Fu was working on gets interrupted by the screams of one of the girl's that they all came here to protect. The immediate effect is a whip crack across Fu's features as her green eyes harden with sprouting determination. Others were closer to Madoka, and Fu knew that she would have to put her faith in them while the other magic girls kept their adversaries at bay with sword, magic, and even by gun.

The array of gunfire in the area made it hard to pinpoint where it was going, but Fu eventually figures out that Mami Tomoe was an ally and not an enemy as she ducks around cover, laying down suppressive fire against Kasagami. A brief moment of peace won, the Hero Club president looks to the new member with a firm nod of approval aimed her way. "Keep it up!" She says with a thumbs up given towards the purple wearing girl and her panda fairy. "But stay on your guard, Kasagami is dangerous." Afterall, Fu knew all too well how dangerous Kasagami could be. And as if almost on cue, the disciplinary exec goes on the offense by delivering a brutal slash towards her. The heroine grabs her sword and attempts to roll underneath the dangerous looking arced blade -towards- Kasagami. But at the last moment, Fu realizes that she was moving exactly -into- the blade and has to throw herself into a second roll which causes her to crash into a nearby shipping container. But thankfully, the blonde magic girl avoids a nasty decapitation from Kasa.

The crumbled Fu picks herself back up and fretfully looks to Akira to see if she made it through the attack alright. But she can't look for long for fear of another attack from Kasagami in the mean time. "Follow my lead, Akira-chan! Let me distract her while you blind-side with your hammer! We'll call it the Twin Heroes Surprise!" She -shouts- to Akira before jumping onto the side of the shipping container and using it as a springboard to launch herself headfirst at her opponent. As flight Fu-47 comes flying towards Kasagami, the Club President twirls mid-air and attempts to deliver a spinning slash courtesy of her huge sword.

COMBAT: Yuusha Fu has used Spinning Sword Slash on Kasagami Araki.
<Pose Tracker> Vita [None] has posed.

The red missile of a girl catches Madoka's clothes for about one second before Pluto's field expands to force her away. Vita stumbles through the air but her armor-shodden feet touch the ground with a little puff of dust.

Separated from her own massive dust clouds and the blur of her own high-speed movement, Vita looks for all the world like a proper magical girl. She's small - four feet and not much change, with the features and physique but definitely not the face of a young girl. Perhaps for Sailor Pluto, deceptive ages aren't such a strange thing, and the soul glimmering angrily behind those blue eyes is quite old indeed. The outfit isn't the punky outfit of her (unseen by any here) civilian gear; instead it is a crimson garment in the gothic lolita style, with a knee-length skirt leading up under a vest, sealed by pink ribbons, and itself beneath a half-jacket; all of it, shades of crimson, trimmed in black, and garnished with the occasional yellow or pink ribbon or cross. Her hat is a poofy affair marked with a yellow cruciform pattern, with bunnies that are either cute or vaguely creepy depending on your tastes flanking either side of her head.

In her hand is a long-handled hammer, but the head doesn't look like a warhammer so much as an iron polo mallet. Through her blue eyes and fiery red bangs, she glares at Sailor Pluto.

Rather than respond, her eyes cut to the side, watching Usagi usher Madoka quickly out of the area; then to Mami, blowing up the place explosively; then to Sayaka, loudly declaring her loyalties.

Then, Pluto joins the fray. Vita yields a step as she tries to interpose her hammer's shaft in the attacks with quick, jerky movements, but Pluto's are faster and score a few blows, shoving Vita back one, two, three steps.

Vita glares, and then shoves herself back further, giving herself room from Pluto's halo of strikes. Her nose crinkles and her lip curls, spite rolling off her. "Get out of my WAY!" she screams, rather than any coherent response, and then she rushes again. She takes two steps and then her feet leave the ground, crashing across the distance to Sailor Pluto! "Tödlich!" she screams.

Then she SLAMs her hammer, two-handed, into the Senshi's defenses. A second passes. A heartbeat. Just long enough to realize Vita's not disengaging for a reason.


A massive burst of explosive magic erupts from the hammer, designed to shatter anything Pluto could be defending against the strike with - destroying barriers, blasting weapons away, and even sundering the ground so that she loses her footing. Not to mention, of course, sending Pluto herself flying.

COMBAT: Vita has used Tödlichschlag on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Yuusha Akira narrowly dodges Kasagami Araki's Dance in the Petals, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Yuusha Akira's Fade ability activates!  Yuusha Akira's Flash ability activates!  Cripple applied to Yuusha Akira!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto fails to brace Vita's Tödlichschlag, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Stun applied to Sailor Pluto!
<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

A car. A Lexus goes toppling over their heads. Usagi doesn't have time to scream. She just quickly dips her and her friend down. As Pluto's shimmering field of garnet saves them. She hangs onto Madoka for dear life. Her eyes drift upwards the moment steel spheres crash around them, tearing up the ground. She looks up as she spies the Cloud Knight flying straight at them. She doesn't know she's after Madoka. Just that she's coming right /at them/. Usagi shrieks at what she assumes has to be her end.

Surviving D-Point, Beryl, Metallia - alien horrors, only to die as ordinary Usagi Tsukino caught in the middle of this.

She feels Madoka lurch away and she tugs on her in desperate reflex frantically as her friend is lifted up an inch, spying the gleaming Garnet energy that saved them again. Usagi's whole self trembles as she realizes what was happening, how she almost lost her again. What should Madoka do? "Stay with me. Just stay with me." Vita is locked with Pluto now, distracted.

The two girls trudge onward, clinging onto each other as mutual liferafts in this sea of chaos trying to follow their way towards Sayaka's voice in the chaos. A battle between two navies, a war of metal and smoke, of shadow and clashing blades. Around a corner of shipping crates- and there are a small army of shadow swordsmen, wielding real swords. The Juuban uniform is poor armor compared to the Fuku of a Sailor Senshi. Usagi freezes suddenly.

They're looking at the two of them. She's looking at the whole mess of them, eyes wide with fear. Think fast Usagi! Madoka is counting on you! "Ah! Gomen- Gomen. We were just-" A hitch in her voice as she laughs nervously, "-just looking for the bathroom! And took a wrong turn. Silly me-" She points with her free hand in the opposite direction, "-of course it's that way." Abruptly she tugs Madoka back around the corner and ducks down by some toppled over crates with her, hoping they'll all just charge past if they decide to come at them.

For a while, it's all she can do just to sit scared with Madoka. Her hand finds Madoka's, it squeezes it hard as she whispers fervently. "Together- won't leave you. I promise."

She promised those five girls too that she'd save them. But some reason, right now, she starts to feel like this is a promise she can keep. "I promise I'll keep you safe."

There's a warmth over her heart, pink and shining and fierce. She feels it, but she doesn't look yet she's looking only at Madoka right now, the friend who she loves. The friend who she promised to keep safe. She knows a certain truth, it's etched within her heart. It's something as innate and instinctual as breathing and yet she'd allowed despair to cause her to forget it.

That as long as she's Sailor Moon. So long as she's keeps fighting and believing and caring with her whole heart there's always hope for the shining future. The pink glow envelops them, a beacon perhaps to all who see them. A star in the sky winks, and falls, turning and wending it's way until it falls between the hands of the two girls. It becomes an outline, takes shape and form to become a shining rod of pink, a bright gauzy ribbon, a red heart limmed in gold. It shimmers with bright starlight.

Somehow she knows, instinctively that their love for each other created this. A smile upon her lips as she looks fondly on her good friend, "We- We created this. Together." The Star over her heart changing shape from a circle into a heart, criss crossed with gold. Jewels of blue, red, green and orange radiating brightly.

Opening the Heart Moon Compact, she doesn't even need to look, she knows. She knows the Ginzuishou has been healed just from the radiance enveloping her. What she doesn't realize is the new form it takes. A crystalline heart of pink. Her fingers thrum across it. Her call is one that echoes across the warehouse.

"Moon Cosmic Power - MAKE UP!"

A shining heart encircles her, ribbons gird her for battle, and once again Sailor Moon is there. Her hands still clasped around Madoka's and the rod as one. When the pink glow fades, they're surrounded. With all that light, with all that energy, it's only inevitable that the shadows would come. "You're unforgivable! Kidnapping a girl after school and drugging her? How is she supposed to get her homework done when she's having to spend her night dealing with grabby guys!?"

Right now she's Madoka's shield, she stays right in front of her as she poses, "Sailor Suited Pretty Soldier of Love and Justice: Sailor Moon! In the Name of the moon-" Hand over hand, she points, and now ordinary girl Usagi Tsukino can place the weight of a threat behind it, "-I WILL PUNISH YOU!"

COMBAT: Usagi Tsukino transforms into Sailor Moon!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used In The Name Of The Moon on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe perfectly dodges Sailor Moon's In The Name Of The Moon, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Yuusha Akira [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

The battle ambiance is getting to the rookie Yuusha as the chaos resounds around her. Akira is as focused as she can be. The artist in her is staring at Kasagami as though she is a raw chunk of marble. A nice hunk of granite or even a piece of Obsidian. In her eyes, she sees a project and she is going to work. "I got it Fu!" She calls back. Then oh crap! Incoming!

She quickly dodges but her leg is caught. Thats going to hurt for a bit. She quickly recollects herself and readies her hammer. She smiles over to Her Sempai and smiles, "Giving a good greating was fun, But I still really like number five!" She looks at Kasagami, "Hero Club Tenet Number Five!" She winds up, "You're likely to succeed if you try!" With that she quickly swings the hammer at her, hoping to catch her off guard!

COMBAT: Yuusha Akira has used Hero Club Tenet Number 5 on Kasagami Araki.
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY2bv3q6fls

It's pretty reasonable that Steven has lost Lion, because this place is a maze. Just when he thinks he's making real progress at bashing his way through the shadows, scattering them left and right, a shipping container falls with a more metallic roar than a giant tree might -- the slow, inevitable path of destruction invokes the imagery of 'tiiiiimbeeer' all the same. It warps on impact, barring his path. He'll have to go around the mess, which is filled with cleaning supplies, endless sponges released from their packages to tumble in a heap. The dissonance is jarring.

Fuu, meanwhile, forces her opponents back with her force of will and wind -- they move smoothly around the strongest parts of the blast, though, and straight towards Steven, trying to flank him! Which is another way of saying that they've put themselves between Steven and Fuu, so there's that. It would take mighty magic indeed, to rescue herself and Steven at once -- but maybe she just has to lead them all down another path.

Nori, meanwhile, has found herself armed just in the nick of time. From every direction, her group of shadows engages her with a lunge, a gorgeous stop-thrust that tries to pierce right through her in a single terrible blow. It is a strike -- strikes -- worthy of the fencing club, though the move is more Eastern, owned by another tradition.

Suddenly, there's a blast of blinding pink from the other side of a stack of crates; that would be the rebirth of Sailor Moon. It's a joyful, hopeful moment for many, but the shadows respond to her appearance, and her threat, in an almost mocking way. They're parting like the black sea, creating a path beneath a bridge of saluting black swords, and through it the true source of the danger strides, his suit hardly even smudged by the ash in the air, his hair still smelling beautifully of roses. "Well," he says with a shrug, "I guess the rumors of your demise were grossly overrated."

And then he's upon her, his blade the only thing standing between them, its flat bared. It's black as night, but even so, it somehow reflects her face on one side, and his on the other, in shimmering red. "But don't you think it's awful when people make promises they can't keep? I wonder... how many fragments will the Silver Crystal shatter into this time, when you're beaten on the floor, unable to move," he leans in even closer, thoroughly into her space, "Unable to do anything but watch, as I escort your little friend away?"

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Shadowflank on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Shadowflank on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Lunging Thrust on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Choice Retort on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Lunging Thrust, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe is Psyched!  La Sirene du Nord's Block ability activates!  La Sirene du Nord's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mami is well aware of what she said to Mai, is already preparing for what may be another front to this battle as she sees Kagutsuchi's great maw that once seemed to her to be so terrifying. Her eyes flick to Mikoto next, gauging how fast she might be able to use that sword. It isn't her preference, but she has no patience for such barbs tonight.

It feels like longer than the heartbeat that it was, but Mai is moving back on. There's steel in her tone, for sure, but Mami simply promises, "I will. No matter what."

But that familiar voice, starting with a shout and then with more shouting. Mami can feel her heart soften just enough as Sayaka makes her way towards her, the two of them now standing together at Mami's new perch. "I'm fine," Mami answers easily, as if they weren't facing down a foe who nearly cut through her neck, and as if she weren't bleeding openly from a wound to her upper arm. The many swordsmen around are to her an obstacle, rather than something else. And now...

She hadn't bothered answering about the trade in the moment, until she was done firing, until Kasagami ends up crashing downward. Even now she considers it an insult to even ask, to the point where she can't deny taking some satisfaction at what looks like fear in her opponent's face. It doesn't last, however; she's already lining up another shot when Kasagami's counterattack comes, and a huge hunk of metal slams straight towards her; her rifle goes flying away from her hands as the entire thing impacts her full-force, knocking her down too quickly to even see her pass. She ends up skidding along the ground amidst a set of boxes that fall overtop her and her makeshield shield. There is no silence over her in the chaotic mess of the battle.

There's just the muffled sound of gunfire and the sight of that mass of metal rocketing away from Mami Tomoe's form as she gets back to her feet, levelling her golden gaze at where Kasagami ought to be, just in time for the brilliant light that is Sailor Moon's transformation.

Mami doesn't look beyond just the once. Of course Sailor Moon would come, sooner or later.

"Yellow Knight," Mami calls, as she leaps upward again, finds a new perch as she stares down at her oponent. "I've never been called that before. And I don't think it's accurate." She fires a gun, then twirls down to ground level, fires another. "My partner is a Knight. Shining, and glorious."

Mami leaps upward again, making her way back toward the battlefield, careful of the two Yuusha as she prepares.

Now in proper firing position, Mami flicks her wrist, and a brace of rifles appears before her. "I'm not. I'm a Puella Magi. ...And you're not worthy to even look at my Knight's /shoes/."

Mami raises her hand, and the brace of rifles looms before her, fanning out into a circle all aimed at the Crimson Rose Duelist's, before they explode with gunfire once again.

"Ask your allies about facing what I can do. That's only the beginning of what's in store if you go after Madoka Kaname again."

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Circle on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon narrowly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Choice Retort, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Sailor Moon is Quipped!  Sailor Moon's Reverse ability activates!  Sailor Moon's Tactician ability activates!  Sailor Moon is Taunted!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon's counterattack, Spiraling Heart Rod, partially gets through, doing 19 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!  Critical Counterhit!
COMBAT: Steven Universe narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Shadowflank, taking 1 Fatigue damage!  Steven Universe's Block ability activates!  Steven Universe's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji perfectly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Shadowflank, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Counter!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji's counterattack, Spinning Slash, bursts all the way through, doing 19 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki perfectly dodges Yuusha Fu's Spinning Sword Slash, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Kasagami Araki's Fade ability activates!  Kasagami Araki's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly braces Mami Tomoe's Tiro Circle, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Mami Tomoe is Psyched!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly counters Yuusha Akira's Hero Club Tenet Number 5, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Yuusha Akira is Psyched!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki's counterattack, Thorn Stab, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Yuusha Akira!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

"I'm not sure where they are, Steven-san," the Wind Knight calls out during a hard-bought, split-second lull in the fighting. In other words, barely enough of a moment's peace to count as anything so noteworthy as a 'lull' - there really is no end to these murky mooks, is there? The wall of minions comes plowing through even before the Wind Knight finishes answering Steven's question, and while another spinning sword attack helps keep her immediate vicinity less than wholly swarmed by the conjured dark swordsmen, it doesn't look like her young, shield-wielding ally is quite so fortunate.

What it does look like, to the Magic Knight of Wind, is that she has to stop holding back.

"STORM-DANCE OF KAMAITACHI!!" she calls out, conjuring an even more powerful whirlwind and guiding it into the swarm of sword-swinging mooks. "Steven-san, I'll do everything I can to keep them off of you!" she shouts over the howling winds. "See if you can find Madoka-san and Usagi-san; I'll take up your share of the fighting as best I can! Now go!"

When the fighting is finished and the dust settles, she *knows* she's going to be lucky if 'utter exhaustion' is the worst state that she's in. She's run out of mana before - although that was before she lost and recovered her powers, finding them stronger than before. Given the stakes - two innocent girls *and* the loss of additional Keys to the bad guys -

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Across a sea of crates, shrouded in the fog of conflagration, Madoka briefly locks eyes with Sayaka, and in that moment, when she knows that her best friend is safe, wasn't put to the sword, she bursts into tears again, and snuffles the whole way along the aisle as she's towed along by Usagi. This whole time, to the extent that she's been conscious, she's been afraid of what happened after Sayaka lost the fight. The vision of Kasagami sliding that massive nodachi straight through her friend's belly, soul gem and all, has been tormenting her imagination, haunting her miserable dreams.

That now, the last she's seen of her is Sayaka /charging/ Kasagami, is not a very comforting thought, but she trusts Sayaka-chan every bit as easily as she does Usagi. And, anyhow, Mami-senpai is there with her. They will definitely be all right.

The question posed by the crimson swordswoman will have to wait for now. Of course Mami values her more. That's why she came for her, why she traded that weird singing Key. That's why she...

Huddled up around the corner, the shadowmen closing in, she curls into Usagi and tries to return the strength of Mami's love, if not its savagery. But there are fierce feelings within her, too, even if they tend to express themselves differently, with fewer bullets and more blushing and ribbons of an entirely different kind. Feelings for Mami, for Sayaka, and for Usagi, who didn't leave her, who could have already been out of here by now if she had, instead of trapped between crates.

"I know you will," she whispers, tears rolling down her face, dripping onto the new rod they're holding between them. "I know."

She stays where she is when Usagi gets up, when she faces down the man who seems to be behind it all. He says terrible things, but she is not afraid.

Sayaka already lost a fight, to get her here. Usagi could even lose one too, right here, right now.

But she knows they'll always come for her, again and again, even though the only thing she's brave enough to offer them in return is a hug and a mug of cocoa.

Usagi can hear her, coughing quietly through the smoke. It's not a wish, and it's not a prayer. It's all she has, and it's enough.

"I believe in Sailor Moon, and Sayaka, and Mami. I do, I do."

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

"I'm not sure where they are, Steven-san," the Wind Knight calls out during a hard-bought, split-second lull in the fighting. In other words, barely enough of a moment's peace to count as anything so noteworthy as a 'lull' - there really is no end to these murky mooks, is there? The wall of minions comes plowing through even before the Wind Knight finishes answering Steven's question, and while another spinning sword attack helps keep her immediate vicinity less than wholly swarmed by the conjured dark swordsmen, it doesn't look like her young, shield-wielding ally is quite so fortunate.

What it does look like, to the Magic Knight of Wind, is that she has to stop holding back.

"STORM-DANCE OF KAMAITACHI!!" she calls out, conjuring an even more powerful whirlwind and guiding it into the swarm of sword-swinging mooks. "Steven-san, I'll do everything I can to keep them off of you!" she shouts over the howling winds. "See if you can find Madoka-san and Usagi-san; I'll take up your share of the fighting as best I can! Now go!"

When the fighting is finished and the dust settles, she *knows* she's going to be lucky if 'utter exhaustion' is the worst state that she's in. She's run out of mana before - although that was before she lost and recovered her powers, finding them stronger than before. Given the stakes - two innocent girls' lives, *and* the loss of additional Keys to the bad guys - this seems like the best time to find out how much more she's capable of since she levelled up.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe accepts Fuu Hououji's Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi, taking 31 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

The tiny, deceptively adorable assailant with the big hammer and the black-and-red dress doesn't throw Sailor Pluto off of her game; she's faced stranger, in her time and in the world's Time. She presses her attack, trusting and hoping that Usagi and Madoka are escaping behind her, and for a few steps it works, pushing the shorter girl back on her heels.

Then Vita rallies back and charges, anger leading the way in the form of her long-handled hammer -- and breaks past the whirling Garnet Rod, busting through to slam directly into her side. Her ribs groan from the impact, and Pluto sets her teeth in a grimace of determination, moving to bring the Rod back up -- but no, Vita isn't withdrawing the hammer to press her advantage. It puzzles the Outer Senshi for a precious moment, stealing her reaction from her.

Power erupts from the hammer's head, and it feels like a giant uppercutting Pluto's entire torso. The magical decompression slams her sideways with crackling force, delivering spectacular bruises and damaged ribs. She feels a sensation of flying, then stars burst in her vision as she slams against a far wall.

A less determined woman would lie there and let the pain and dizziness take over, but countless time spent defending the universe alone has taught Sailor Pluto the kind of grit that can only come from knowing there was no one to take her place, all those long years. She is pushing herself up against the wall before her vision clears, shaking her head to banish the buzzing. Eyes that match the Garnet Rod open and find Vita--

--and she realizes that she cannot see Madoka anywhere. Cannot see /Usagi/ anywhere, and cold panic washes over her.

Just then, pink light radiates from a distant set of boxes, cascading in a way that reminds Setsuna Meioh of the shimmering rays of magic that once wrapped the Silver Millennium in radiance. The words ring out, true and clear and good: "Moon Cosmic Power - MAKE UP!" There is a sense of crooked things being righted, snapping into place, and the Guardian of Time breathes out a sigh of mingled awe and relief at the brilliant power of her liege.

The ache in Sailor Pluto's side fades and she stands upright, renewed, sure. Sailor Moon will be safe... if Pluto can just get to her side. Through this small, cute attacker with the surprising hammer. Crouching, she springs, launching herself heeled-feet-first at the young girl -- it would seem unfair if not for the established danger she presents. Spinning like the Garnet Rod had before, that staff held tightly to her, she seeks to drive Vita back and into the ground with the force of her own flung body.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Sailor Pluto Kick on Vita.
COMBAT: Vita perfectly counters Sailor Pluto's Sailor Pluto Kick, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!  Vita's Reverse ability activates!  Vita's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Vita's counterattack, Panzerhindernis, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Sailor Pluto!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gHKtx75pWs

There he is, right upon her. The source of Madoka's suffering in her eyes. Or at least, a huge contributing factor. She doesn't know the whole story yet, but she counts him as grimly responsible for all of it. His blade sings out, as black as night. Within her hands a rod created from deep love, spinning in a flourish within her hands as she deflects it again and again. With every strike, she sees a flash of her reflection. With every clang of metal upon metal, she sees an image of someone who failed.

But she was Usagi Tsukino, she failed all the time. Math tests, and vaults in gym class. She failed at D-Point, to protect all of her friends. She failed at Tokyo Tower.

It may be a promise she couldn't keep, but she was going to try with every fiber of her being. He presses into her space. He's so close to her. His face is near her cheek. She imagines his thumb dabbing away her tears again. "You held it in your hands. You saw how shattered it was. This isn't some magic trick. This isn't an accident."

Tears sparkle in her eyes, glittering like the pink stuff of stars that just descended "Break it again and I'll find a way to bring it back - to come back. As long- as I'm alive. As long as I'm Sailor Moon- there's always hope that I can fix my mistakes! That I can come back and correct my failures!"

But despite her words she's being forced back by the sheer strength behind his sword, he's right there. Just a few more centimeters and she'll feel his breath on his cheek, against her ear, tickling it in ways that will revulse her. Maybe this is what he meant by true strength not buckling. But behind her is a small voice, 'I believe in Sailor Moon, and Sayaka, and Mami.' Everyone was fighting so hard... across the room was Sailor Pluto too. The Hero Club. The Magic Knights. The HiME. Puella Magi. All beautiful, all fighting for her and Madoka and the future of Tokyo in these keys. She finds strength in Madoka's words. Strength enough to push back.

'I do,' "I'll do my best to protect everyone-" With a swift motion of the rod, she lurches, brings his shadowy blade down low with the mirror flash of her reflection. 'I do.' "-starting with my precious friend!" Her opposite hand finds it's way to her forehead. To the holy tiara that rests there. It shimmers with starlight and hope and dreams in her hands, "Moon Tiara-" With a flick of her wrist she sends it spinning towards his gut, "-ACTION!"

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Moon Tiara Action on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Sailor Moon's Moon Tiara Action, taking 57 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdNaHxTUx6Y

"Senpai!" Sayaka shrieks, the passing container flattening her partner while leaving her untouched. Even as she turns to rush after her senior, a spiralling midair blossom of razors chases her, forcing her to blossom in turn, her arms swirling her cape about her so that the whipping patter of cuts slaps into the cloth. Shaking the folds of cape to either side when it passes, Sayaka reveals that a few punched through, stuck in her shoulder or thigh.

"Senpai," she repeats, this time relieved, as Mami rises. Her eyes shimmer from the praise, and she grasps her collar for a moment as if to steady herself, moved. She shifts her eyes to Kasagami, her shy smile firming into a grin. "Mami-senpai's compliments mean a lot more than yours ever will. You think you even know what a knight is? You're more like a bandit." Sayaka glances over her shoulder at Madoka, casually pinching a wink at her. "Sorry you had to wait. Give me just a little longer. Ne?"

Rotating her wrist, Sayaka slings her sword out to the side, her cape fluttering around her arm as she strides forward. Her posture drops with each step, and suddenly she's sprinting low to the ground, using her cape to conceal both of her arms and much of the position of her body, making it difficult for Kasagami to read the attack.

Whereas in their previous fight, Sayaka had been determined and precise, her attacks now have a graceful savagery that presses the council girl's defenses for all they are worth. She leaves behind an impression of fluttering white after each strike, shifting with rapid springs and skittering boots from one side of Araki to the other. There's a sharpness to her eyes that wasn't there before, jagged of edge but dark of color, like split obsidian. Her blade whips down at force, over and over, her arms seeming tireless.

And as she works, she finds she is not alone. That girl with the giant sword is working alongside her, a brutal charge heralding her entry to the field. Sayaka gives her a curt but approving glance as her heels soar over her head, as her hand comes down to stabilize her flip. "Together?" she asks breathlessly, eyes on Araki.

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has used Furioso on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki fails to brace Sayaka Miki's Furioso, taking 36 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Sayaka Miki drains 14 fatigue from Kasagami Araki!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Even /if/ it was by part a Mysterious Fairy's doing, Hero Fu actually survived an attack that's rarely put others into the hospital or worse when Kasagami's gotten serious. She in no way, despite the warm and very friendly, outgoing demeanor, would think of underestimating this Yuusha.

Once again, she scrapes by death, this time entirely of her own accord. Kasagami's grin widens. Fu never ceases to amaze, not once here or that night. A single eye narrows. Truly, her perserverence is a thing of beauty.

"Fu! A piece of advice! Don't yell out your strategy when your opponents are in earshot! Learn...I dunno, hand signals or something!" She probably shouldn't be giving advice to the enemy, but a stronger Fu means a stronger Kasagami in her own twisted logic.

Not that it helps too much as in comes a gloriously yellow flying Fu-chan! With an equally ridiculous sword, and Akira coming in with her hammer, Kasagami is in a tight spot! Flicking her sword up into the air, she's forced to do a leap of her own! It's not unlike a reverse skydive, narrowly avoiding that huge blade as it swings. Air, and a single lock of her hair is claimed by Fu's huge blade, only for one foot to then /stand/ on the thing!

"See what I mea...."

Starts Kasagami, only for Karma to instantly react. She reaches up, grabs her sword, and stabs towards that incoming hammer-wielding woman! It's aimed for the throat without a hint of mercy or hesitation. Akira's amongst a lot of very ruthless magical girls today!

But then, Panda. There's the grinding of steel against fairy, only for that hammer to crash right into Kasagami's chest, sending her flying up into the air with a rip of uniform and spit being hucked out into the air with a cry of pain. For a moment, the powerful blow of Akira's knocks her unconscious as she all but floats in the air, rose-petals and sparkles flowing from her falling body.

It's Sailor Moon's brilliant transformation that saves her life. That burst of pink pulls Kasagami into a full-on stare, trembling. Hope. For one, single moment, that image fills her with something she thought had been burnt away into hate, ambition, and a dream alone. So long has she not had such a thing, it truly frightens her to behold Sailor Moon, that pure symbol. Usagi is looked upon with the kind of horror that most normal people would when faced with a youma: something unexplainable, unknowable, and perhaps even antithetic to their existance. No kind of violence or fear for her life could possibly make Kasagami feel so small, cornered, and helpless.

But she's awake, and Mami's words and the sound of gunfire and metal being tossed aside gets her attention as those rifles go off. She embraces the shots. They're reprieve from that horrible thing called Hope that shouldn't exist in this impure world. Her sword flashes, cutting many bullets asunder. Equally as many scrape at legs, flesh, hair, and uniform alike. She's sweating, gasping hard, but slowly getting faster as she puts herself back into the fight. The woman's body is lagging. But her spirit rises.

"Hmph! I have no idea what a Puella Magi is, and I don't care! By all means. Tell me how I'm unworthy of seeing those brilliant Knight's shoes! Don't worry, for when I reach my dream, the throne of my ambition, I'll be looking down upon you all with no care at all for the Blue Knight's boots! It's ME that you're gonna have to look upon the boots of, ready to shine them!" She retorts, just as one of those bullets blows away a boot and forces her to leap back into cover behind a fallen shipping create that's swiftly reduced to Mami-based splinters.

But then comes Sayaka. Kasagami's eye narrows at the insult, too winded and pressed against all these magical girls to be able to respond. Her eye is hatred incarnate, and then in comes the blue woman. She can't move. She's so tired. Every strike hits her, cutting, draining her energy as steel meets granite. She's driven back into the building's wall by such powerful strikes, falling concrete and rebar slamming into her. She's battered, bruised, and slashed brutally until Sayaka backs away, leaving her embedded in the wall. Finally, she falls to the ground, seemingly still.

A desperate cough, and she rises, glowing red flowers. Her body's almost done, but her spirit flares fiercely as she internalizes her dream.

"I...won't...die here. I /CAN'T/ die here!" She shouts. No. She needs vengence. A throne. A world changed. The Power to Revolutionize the World.

She can't die before she's even seen the Bride and the Engaged on the battlefield. Making a promise in her heart to a brave pink haired warrior, Kasagami stands tall.

"You're all obstacles. GET OUT OF MY WAY!"

Then, she rushes recklessly, and pulls back her fist to aim a metal-crunching fist for Sayaka's jaw. Another blurr, and she's all but on top of Fu and Akira, a flurry of flashes aimed at both's chests again and again and again. Mami for now remains untouched as she tries to clear the meleeists from her path first.

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Disciplinary Facepunch on Sayaka Miki.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Dance in the Petals on Yuusha Fu.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Rose Flash on Yuusha Akira.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Crimson Ambition on Mami Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Vita [None] has posed.

Is it respect or caution that stays Vita from simply rushing past a dazed Sailor Senshi? When she touches down after toppling Sailor Pluto, she doesn't immediately dash off to find Madoka. She stands there and watches the Senshi recover, ancient thoughts of her own gliding past her eyes.

This one's good, she thinks, and shifts the grip of her handle. Already moving, not leaving herself open to a coup de grace, and Vita sees that as her thoughts return, Sailor Pluto's first thought isn't to herself, or her opponent, but her charges.

Vita's eyes narrow a notch. It had been a very long time since she had that kind of valor for her own. Her tiny knuckles squeeze tighter on the hammer handle.

Then she half-turns, her attention consumed by the dazzling arrival of Sailor Moon. "One of the other contacts?" Vita mutters. Was that one of the girls she'd been chasing? She tunnel-visioned so much, she'd never know even without a transformation's obscuring magic. Still. Sailor Moon's words aren't aimed at her, but they sting in their own way, sticking in her like barbs, and the grip on her hammer shifts again, popped up and back down.

She hears a kiai and the thump of boots. "Eisen!" she barks, because she doesn't need to be warned that Sailor Pluto is already back on the move. <<Panzerhindernis!>> the German voice of her hammer responds, and Pluto finds herself slamming into not Vita, but a solid field of raw light, as an Ancient Belkan barrier whips up around Vita. It'd be like kicking a brick wall, if brick were not so yielding to Senshi; the barrier gives Sailor Pluto not a centimeter of satisfaction, stopping her cold the instant she impacts it. Vita glares at her through the field, letting the moment linger amid flashing lights and flickering colors.

And looking Pluto in the eye, she says, coldly, "I guess you'll do," before she suddenly rushes forward - the barrier scattering in her passage as Vita leaps (Flies?) up over Pluto and swings that hammer down right at her gut, slamming her right back down into the concrete!

COMBAT: Vita has used Sweeping Blow on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki fails to dodge Kasagami Araki's Disciplinary Facepunch, taking 11 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Steven forges on, fighting against the tide of black shadow fighting against him and his friends. He lands soem good blows, but ends up getting cornered due to a small retreat combined with a large falling box. He has to stand his ground or...! "Ugh, cleaning supplies! They smell like chemicals!" A look back and forth seems to indicate weighing his options, before he leaps into the pile of sponges and other cleaning items. Other than a very angry mop handle hitting him right in the face, he comes out unscathed.

The boy takes a moment to try and block off the path behind him. Hopefully it will buy him a few seconds. He makes an attempt to get back towards the main fray. He can't get too separated!

"I'll try to find them!" he responds out to Fuu. They must be in danger still! He thinks he saw a Senshi take point on guarding them as he left through the crowd, but she may need help. A flash of pink actually gets his attention. Over the din of combat, a proclamation amongst the exchange helps bolster him. An announcement a diehard fan would easily recognize.

"Oh, you guys are in for it now!" he says as he rejoins the fray closer to the center. Whilst he swings his shield, he sees so many enemies, and Magical Girls under duress. They have to stay positive and chase their happiness...! And what better way to do so...


...Than with a little music!


Steven has found his way onto a tall box, and has taken out what looks like a custom flaming ukelele. "I may not be the best at fighting, but I know how to play a ballad!" The song goes out to all who can hear, but in particular, Sailor Pluto, Sailor Moon, and Sayaka Miki will truly feel the music.

"Just feel the music, and know that because of you, people can be happy~

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe perfectly counters Kasagami Araki's Crimson Ambition, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe's counterattack, Tiro Retort, bursts all the way through, doing 62 Fatigue damage to Kasagami Araki!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto narrowly counters Vita's Sweeping Blow, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Vita is Psyched!  Sailor Pluto's Reverse ability activates!  Sailor Pluto's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto's counterattack, Destiny Spinster, partially gets through, doing 6 Fatigue damage to Vita!
COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Blazing Ukelele Solo! on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Blazing Ukelele Solo! on Sayaka Miki.
COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Blazing Ukelele Solo! on Yuusha Fu.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto accepts Steven Universe's Blazing Ukelele Solo!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Sailor Pluto is Cheered!
COMBAT: Yuusha Fu narrowly counters Kasagami Araki's Dance in the Petals, taking 22 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Yuusha Fu's Reverse ability activates!  Cripple applied to Yuusha Fu!
COMBAT: Yuusha Fu's counterattack, Overruled!, partially gets through, doing 6 Fatigue damage to Kasagami Araki!  Stun applied to Kasagami Araki!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmOb0mQMpK8

Fuu's vortex winds up sucking shadowmen down it like it's some kind of machine gun feeder, then shooting them out the other end, straight outside of the warehouse and out of the way of the rest of the fight. She'll take them there, and she'll end them. They won't hurt anyone else. This also clears a path for Steven to join the rest of the group.

The battle between the masked man and Sailor Moon is just now starting to heat up, and it's heated indeed. He slaps about with his sword, but her blocks are no laughing matter, jarring the blade so that it tolls like a bell every time it impacts her sacred rod. He listens to the dissonance in the circuitry, his eyes half-lidded. He listens to the girl's words, too.

"Someday you'll learn, Sailor Moon, that there are some things, once done, that can never be undone."

Certainly what happens next seems rather irreparable. Enjoy the view, in slow motion, as the holy light of the princess' tiara illuminates his face from below like a flashlight, making him look like a stupid faux-spooky ghost. He jumps back, but it's still coming straight for him. Finally, he frantically gets the weapon in the way.

There's a horrible cracking sound, and it flares bright red. Smoke pours off of it in the aftermath. It's still in one piece, though, and so are all the other shadowmen, which are trying to surround the fight, to make a wall of steel so no one can escape without being skewered. The masked man pays the rest of the battlefield little mind, now, which is very much to his peril as Steven largely lacks for partners. Instead, he closes in on Sailor Moon, assaulting her from all sides with aggressive sweeps of his weapon, driving her backwards down the aisle, away from her friends, and towards a burning wall.

"There," he breathes, going in for a particularly nasty slash along her shoulder. "And there," now it's a leg. "You're making mistakes faster than your body can keep up. I could paint you red all night long."

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Feinting Strike on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used An Open Back on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Feinting Strike, taking 36 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Sailor Moon's Fade ability activates!  Sailor Moon's Flash ability activates!  Trap applied to Sailor Moon!
<Pose Tracker> Yuusha Fu [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

With this being the first time that they were fighting together, there was bound to be some desynchronization between the two heroes. Fu's distraction doesn't quite go as planned as Kasagami sees through it enough that she's able to defend against her sword-stroke as well as loose a counter-attack against her kohai. The heroic swordswoman grits her teeth as she hopes for the best out of Akira's response to it. She may have only just met the other girl a scant short time ago, but she's already taken a shine to her. And for her to get serious hurt on her first outing as a Hero would be simply unacceptable in Fu's eyes. She also had a responsibility as the Club President to ensure the safety of its members and that certainly included the young Akira and her mighty hammer. Fu would simply need to kick things up a notch so that Kasagami's attention would remain on her. And hey, the blonde sniper and her blunette sword-wielding friend were doing great by themselves. All Fu really needed to do was to get Kasagami mad and hopefully draw out the worst of her attacks on her. It was the least Fu could do for everyone else!

Fu was planning to try to flip the taunting Kasagami off her blade, but Akira strikes first. Fu's eyes go wide in horror as she sees Kasagami's sword go for Akira in what could have been a fatal sword stroke, but the young heroine's fairy and hammer saves the day. "Akira-chan!" She called out first in horror, but she soon turns a grin upon her. "Hey, hey. Nice moves!"

Sailor Moon's triumphant appearance on the scene does not go unnoticed by Fu the heroine. She breathes a quick sigh of relief that reinforcements have arrived to help fight back the tide of shadow warriors and Kasagami herself. But the battle at hand was what Fu should be focusing on. Green eyes home in on Kasagami as Fu flourishes her sword, spinning it so it rests on her shoulder with only one hand on the hilt. "Yo Kasagami. Intimidating old men was bad enough, but now you've sunk to kidnapping? I'm -disappointed-." She says before closing one eye and looking away from Kasa just enough to still keep her other eye on her. "A true rival of mine wouldn't result to such despicable acts. You're no Beautiful Dark Samurai, you're just a common thug!" Fu then reopens her eyes and points her massive sword at Kasagami. "But I'll give you a chance to prove me wrong! Come at me!" And Fu gets exactly what she asked for when Kasagami launches a new offensive her way.

The sword-wield President sees the strike coming and swings the flat-side of her sword at Kasagami at the same time. She's rewards with a brutal slash across her midsection which causes Fu to drop to her knees in agony. It didn't cut deep enough to be fatal, but that didn't mean that it didn't hurt. She looks first to Akira. "Don't worry, everything will be okay." Fu now looks to her fellow Swordswoman, Sayaka. "Hey you, I hope you've been listening to my master strategy," she greets with pained smirk on her face.

Yuusha Fu rises to her feet, bloody and battered. But the Hero isn't defeated yet. She walks straight toward Kasa, dragging her sword behind her with one arm. "Not bad, Kasagami. But I..I have to confess something to you. I find your own power to be overwhelming, and I don't want to what happened last time to happen again, so please.....Akira-chan, Blue Swordswoman-chan, now!" Fu suddenly swings an overhead sword strike with her massive blade that smashes into the ground in front of Kasagami which would hopefully be distracting enough for the other girls to launch their attacks. But Fu's not done yet herself. "Hero...." She mumbles softly as the dust starts to clear. Fu then steps in and pivots and her heel, ducking down while her sword swings high and up at Kasagami's mid-section. "Slaaaaash!"

COMBAT: Yuusha Fu accepts Steven Universe's Blazing Ukelele Solo!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Yuusha Fu is Cheered!
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki accepts Steven Universe's Blazing Ukelele Solo!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Sayaka Miki is Cheered!
COMBAT: Yuusha Fu has started a combo targeting Kasagami Araki!
COMBAT: Yuusha Akira narrowly counters Kasagami Araki's Rose Flash, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki is Psyched!  Yuusha Akira's Reverse ability activates!  Yuusha Akira's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Yuusha Akira's counterattack, Hero Slam!, partially gets through, doing 17 Fatigue damage to Kasagami Araki!  Critical Counterhit!
COMBAT: Steven Universe narrowly counters Hotaru Tomoe's An Open Back, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Steven Universe's counterattack, Just Lion Things, partially gets through, doing 9 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!  Critical Counterhit!  Tangle and Trap applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

All the renewed vigor in Sailor Pluto's limbs is not enough to launch her across the intervening space before Vita has a chance to react, and react she does, summoning a wall of light to intervene. The unexpected landing surface interrupts the senshi's flight, with no warning and absolutely no give to it at all, and she barely manages to avoid serious injury as she lands against it and springs back. A user of barrier magic herself, Pluto admires Vita's defensive capabilities.

Then the girl is rushing up and forward, swooping over Pluto to bring that wicked hammer down again, and the senshi's ribs ache in anticipation. She sweeps the Garnet Rod up to meet the onrushing weapon, using its silvery length to partially deflect its crushing power. It still connects with Pluto's shoulder carrying enough power to spin her, but with years of practice she moves with the motion and manages to clip Vita in return, the most glancing of blows with the trailing bottom end of the staff.

This is a far sturdier opponent than she'd anticipated, at every turn, and it is far past time to make a closer study of her. Bounding a handful of quick steps back, Pluto swings the Garnet Rod up before her, peering at Vita through the luminous crimson Orb atop it. The battle rages around her and she stands tall, seemingly unconcerned, prioritizing precision over hasty action: she must know her foe to beat her.

"Golden Eternity Lens!"

Even focused as she is on whatever the Orb may reveal, Sailor Pluto cannot wholly shut out the external -- and is, truth be told, grateful for that. Between the strains of Steven's ridiculously cheerful music and the heart-swelling sounds of Sailor Moon fighting a pitched and earnest battle, Sailor Pluto is filled with an unusual sort of warmth, one she is still very unaccustomed to: the envigorating support of comrades as they fight together, united.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Golden Eternity Lens on Vita.
COMBAT: Vita narrowly dodges Sailor Pluto's Golden Eternity Lens, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Analysis performed by Sailor Pluto!
<Pose Tracker> Yuusha Akira [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

The Rookie Hero closes her eyes in fear as the blade comes right for her throat. Its terrifying. Her heart practically stops for a few seconds but, nothing happens. She opens her eyes to see Yanari in front of her creating a violet magical barrier that has stopped the blade from getting through. "Oh god I owe you a steak, Yanari." She is definitely rattled. For a brief moment everything is quiet to her as she recollects herself just to hear the tail end of what Fu was saying.

Then, there goes Fu. She winces seeing the damage done to her. "Its okay, you'll be alright Fu!" She exclaims as the gets a serious look of determination in her eyes. The Rose Flash comes her way and quickly she moves to counter it. She takes a bit of a hit, feeling herself get cut open. She'll live. She counters it with a swing towards her torso.

Those violet eyes are now locked on Kasagami. "You tried to kill me. You just tried to kill Fu, You're toast." She begins swinging the hammer. It rounds her body left then right, left then right. Building speed. It begins glowing as violet flower petals start filling its wake. Magical energy builds and then with a final swing downward, A wave of violet magic goes flying at Kasagami.

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

Batiste's head droops adorably as he's told his breath is fishy. He then says, "Thank you, my lady!" and vaults off of her shoulder, leaving the warm aura of mustelid presence as he goes to rejoin the sword. Which la Sirene plucks up with a sweep of the arm--

And as she holds it aloft with triumph, she sees a hammer come down towards someone in the distance. Her gut tightens - but something all the more wonderful comes upwards instead. Something that is, in most ways, the exact opposite of a hammer: Sailor Moon!

At this point, a sword goes through her from behind. She jerks violently for a moment, looking downwards for a moment and pressing a hand to where the blade... where the blade... where the blade has put a hot gash in her side and ripped through her clothing. For a moment, Nori Ankou wobbles.

La Sirene du Nord hesitates a bit less, twisting round and disarming that shadowy figure in the process-- just to find that they're all turning away from her. She cannot see through the sea of blades, but she can hear quite well. Batiste squeaks in concern, because la Sirene's breathing is hitching again, and it isn't from pain. She is remembering that fury, barely dispelled and moved past, and how it is coming back again, like the tide.

It helps her make a single lunging jump to the top of a shipping container, letting her run forwards. And la Sirene also answers the black-bladed man. "Awful? AWFUL? You abduct and terrify the helpless, and you have the guts to speak to anyone else of AWFUL?!"

La Sirene runs down the length of the shipping container.

"Cousin? What are you doing? Cousin? Cousin?!" Batiste says in squeaks of increasing urgency.

At the moment, la Sirene can only really feel the sick and helpless rage that was all that was left when Batiste had assured her - with difficulty - that they were not targeted, not chosen somehow because of what they had done. It is not a good feeling; there is nothing particularly pure or heartening about it, even if that bloody wound had scabbed so slightly at seeing, hearing that Usagi, that Madoka were fine. Then it all went away.

La Sirene vaults towards the masked man from the side, holding her sword close to her chest with both hands. Fortunately, long drilling means that when this preposterous, foolish leap gets near enough to the man, she snaps forwards, leaning into a lunge -- one with an outraged girl behind it. Her irises seem gone for the moment, her eyes just black dots in a sea of white.

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Seriously Wounded Over Recent Deeds on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge La Sirene du Nord's Seriously Wounded Over Recent Deeds, taking 29 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Diversion applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Yuusha Akira has joined the combo started by Yuusha Fu!
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

After so many years fighting all on her own, it's still strange in its own way to plan shots around that blur of blue and white in particular, let alone the yellow and violet of their allies in this particular battle. ...But it's a strange that she treasures regardless, whatever mixed feelings that might be lost in the savage tide of her fury.

She takes just a moment to survey the battlefield, looking for Madoka, finding her again, finding Sailor Moon, and others. The duress Sailor Pluto is in with battle with Vita is something she sees...

But she's made her choice already, and made it over and over again tonight. And now that choice is dark-haired and crimson-petalled. ...And, seemingly, as transfixed by Sailor Moon as she's been before.

...But not in the same way.

It doesn't stop Mami's shots, and neither does the clear way Kasagami is slowing with time, the way she talks in ways that Witches do not. "Certainly," Mami offers back instead, raising her voice over the din. "You're unworthy." She doesn't smile at Sayaka, but she hears what her partner says all the same, looks on with a muted, fierce pride at her student's brilliant attacks.

Amidst ferocious bladework Kasagami shouts at her, calls her an obstacle with the rest. In the blink of an eye, seeing an opening while Kasagami is attacking the others, Mami is holding a cannon whose barrel could engulf her entire body, hefted as casually over her shoulder as if it were made of golden thread. Her entire body is forced backward with its giant report, a column of golden power shooting straight at Kasagami before Mami, spinning with the recoil, dismisses it and lands with her heel back down on the metal beneath her.

"Your dream won't come true."

Mami's golden eyes narrow as she hears Fu's directive, as she sees the three up in melee preparing to coordinate their assault. The blood running down her shoulder is dripping past her elbow now, the wounds she's suffered only worsened by the sheer force of the battle. As they move, she spreads her hands, taking a quick breath. The first of the golden ribbons is small, conjured about her hand.

"No," she answers, "You won't die here. ...But it won't be because you defeated us."

Mami twirls, and shimmering yellow light extends in a line over her, as the ribbon at her hand begins to extend. Suddenly, she throws her arm out, and that shimmering golden radiance extends with it, further, past her perch amidst the others timed just so to avoid their swings. All meant to enwrap Kasagami's legs, her arms, her body, as Mami leaps upward and then begins to circle her. With both hands now she throws ribbons, until they're all solid and soft and completely, utterly unyielding, wrapped about her foe with gleaming magical force.

"Even with what you did to her... I think Madoka-chan would be sad if I killed you."

She pulls with magic as much as with her arms, until the force of her spell becomes suffocating. "Concludere!"

COMBAT: FINISHER! Mami Tomoe has used Concludere on Kasagami Araki.
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kuw8YjSbKd4

Sayaka's sihouette is white, but her eyes are lost in a dark shadow beneath her hair by the time Kasagami slams back into the wall, slashed countless times and exhausted from it. The feverish joy of bloodletting has her heart pounding. Sayaka twists her wrist with a sudden jerk, flicking her blade clean.

"You're not going to die." A white crescent opens in Sayaka's shadowed jaw. "You're going to lose."

A fist sinks into that crescent with a crunch, ripping Sayaka's head to the side and sending her crashing across the floor. Finally letting the momentum flip her, she shoves to her feet, her boyish face now serious but without the same dark glee. "Got it. I'll try to keep up," she laughs nervously to Fu. "I don't normally plan that far ahead."

Fu leaps in, larger than life, and prevents Kasagami from following up with the briefly stunned Sayaka. She needs to take advantage of this opening. She needs to--

A calm ukelele strum reaches Sayaka's ears.

Extending an ankle delicately, Sayaka sweeps her sword in a wide, perfect semicircle before her, letting her eyes sink half-closed as ethereal water sprays from the tracing tip. Three times she rotates, husking up a seaspray of music and foam, and with a final twirl, she tucks her ankle at her calf and lets her cape wrap her entirely, concealing her beneath the neck. She shoots straight upward with a ripple of flute-like noise and a rush of spray, a fluttering human dart, and just before gravity starts to reclaim her she tucks her heels and rotates, planting her boots solidly against a melodic circle of glowing light.

Sayaka's crouch sinks deeper, and a second layer of musical staff erupts out from around the first. Once more she sinks powerfully into this crouch, her thighs and legs ready to erupt forward, and one final time, an even larger circle spreads to encompass the others, trebling her built-up momentum with a woodwind flourish. She watches for Akira's strike to follow Fu's feint, and times herself to match it.

It all strikes up at once, Sayaka's legs lashing out straight as the triple staff blasts her forward. She slings her cape open amidst the violently whipping winds, disturbing Fu's hair as she passes directly above her and the Hero Strike. With a click of shifting metal she chambers her sword near her shoulder, point out, making of herself a spear.

When the impact comes, it is amidst a fanfare of droplets.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Sayaka Miki has joined the combo started by Yuusha Fu!
COMBAT: COMBO! FINISHER! Yuusha Fu, Yuusha Akira, and Sayaka Miki have used Combo: Magic-Girl Triumvirate Surprise!, composed of Hero Slash!, Windmill Wave, and Wassermusik, on Kasagami Araki.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Once done, can never be undone. It strikes a glancing blow upon her worst fear. That of abandonment. If her friends fell in battle and she couldn't bring her back... what would she do?

But she has no time to ruminate, as she's facing down a being who is delighting in seeing her, Sailor Moon- Usagi Tsukino suffer. A being who crackles like some spooky ghost as her Tiara strikes against him. Sailor Moon's nose twitches with revulsion. Perhaps pity.

Sailor Moon's looks surprised as Ukulele music hits her ears. Had one of Ohtori's Seven Mysteries come to this warehouse!? rHer Tiara returns to her hand, she puts it back to her brow.

But again already - he's back upon her. Sailor Moon stumbles to the side as his first strike nearly cleaves off her foot. Mistake-

Dances backwards as he carves a line across the ribbon of her Fuku, sending fabric fluttering. Mistake- His last slash against her shoulder spinning her around until she lands against the crates, on her bottom, jostling the shelf they're on. Mistake-

A cardboard box falls from an upper shelf and she has to scramble out of the way as it falls on hands and knees, before diving forward on her shoulder to roll, coming up into an awkward stumble. Mistake-

"Maybe I make a lot of mistakes, I fall on my butt all the time during the rope climb too! I'll just try extra hard to make sure my mistakes don't hurt anyone else!" She spins her rod in a flourish as a feint, while dancing away from his next sword strike. "And if this is how you treat girls in your company, then the only thing I'd like to do to you all night long is-"

In the midst of that her hand touches her brow anew. Her eyes flit around the warehouse in the chaos in the fire and the gunsmoke and the moonlight pouring in. Pluto and Vita are far out of sight. She can't spot them, but there's Sayaka Miki, Mami Tomoe, Yuusha Fu and Yuusha Akira clashing with that girl who was up on the stage. The girl that was a part of this. The girl that just called all of those girls who are fighting so hard obstacles.

She doesn't know that she's some sort of unknowable eldritch horror to her. What she sees when she looks at Kasagami is a girl. A girl who values different things. A girl who is fighting so hard for those things. Unfortunately those things caused her to kidnap Madoka, and right now that means she must stop her. Perhaps she nearly flunked geometry class, but her mind had an instinctual grasp of trajectories for-

"Moon Tiara-" This time, instead of straight at the man, with a flick of her wrist, she sends the holy radiance arcing skywards, "-STARDUST!"

It cuts a trajectory down around the warehouse in the sky laid bare sending a glittering, sparkling trail as it goes throughout the aisles of the warehouse. For the beings of shadow, and the man behind them it is as hot as stuff of stars, purifying in it's splendor with each glittering speck that falls.

To others less steeped in the shadows, it is simply fiery, righteous justice, coming down upon their heads like a starburst shower of light. If she could make it shower this radiance upon the shadowed man all night long to make her point, she would. But she can't, it returns towards her hand in short order.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Moon Tiara Stardust on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Moon Tiara Stardust on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki fails to brace Sailor Moon's Moon Tiara Stardust, taking 27 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki fails to brace Yuusha Fu, Yuusha Akira, and Sayaka Miki's Finisher, Combo: Magic-Girl Triumvirate Surprise!, taking 157 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Kasagami Araki is unable to keep fighting!  Yuusha Fu, Yuusha Akira, and Sayaka Miki are Psyched!  Stagger applied to Kasagami Araki!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki fails to brace Mami Tomoe's Finisher, Concludere, taking 70 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Vita [None] has posed.

Vita, to her credit, can see the way Pluto moves. Can tell it's coming. The only reaction she has is a fractional widening of the eyes before Pluto's counterswing clips her, and that force shifts her trajectory enough that she skids away, slamming into the floor and skidding along it. She's quickly forcing herself up, but Sailor Pluto has bought herself some time, an asset she is surely amply familiar with.

She uses it to seek out the past. But this one is strange. A life that's barely a timeline at all - blips of presence scattered across far longer than the handful of years she appears to be, and barely a year of that time leading up to this moment. She hits on something, in the murky past; a flash of the girl before her, clad in a different outfit, a full knight's armor, with only a battle-rage in her eyes as she descends on a hapless pair of knights. One raises a mystic barrier, but mid-surge, the hammerhead rises up and - CHUNK - fires off something, almost like the firing mechanism of a cannon, except firing down into the shaft. And the hammerhead changes, shifting - into a spiked tip that pierces straight through that barrier, tearing it to shreds.

Perhaps she hears the words in her meditation, spoken long ago and now at once: "GRAF EISEN! LOAD CARTRIDGE!" <<EXPLOSION! RAKETENFORM!>>

As Pluto rises from the mists, she can see Vita coming at her with that same spike-tipped hammer - and the ROCKETS shooting her directly toward Pluto at unbelievable speed! A devestating assault that would rip any barrier apart!

But Pluto has seen this strike before, and the chaotic flight pattern it gives Vita may be abusable, to a prepared mind.

COMBAT: Vita has used Raketenfangen on Sailor Pluto.
<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sayaka winks, Sayaka apologizes. Sayaka asks her for patience, but Madoka would give her the stars in the sky if she could.

Madoka sniffles, Madoka nods. Madoka stares at her best friend as she launches into a ferocious series of attacks, a kind of violence she's seen sometimes in Kyouko, that she saw in Mami a moment ago with that enormous, short-lived gun. It's breathtaking, and -- Mami's right -- it's sad.

Aren't Puella Magi supposed to fight Witches? Here they are fighting a would-be king, two of them even, and it's all her fault. Her head hangs lower on her neck as the guilt pours through her, like standing in a familiar, lukewarm shower. It bathes her, all over, a baptism of self-directed disgust.

She's so tired. It has, to be sure, been a very long day, but her weariness is deeper than that. Even when Mami does the right thing in her name, it's deeper.

What would Kyuubey say if she told him she was going to wish to know what the right thing is to wish for?

Hunching down, she tries to hide herself in a fallen-over crate. Stardust falls through it, studding her hair with silver. It matches the diamonds on her cheeks.

She doesn't see the shadowy prince, who's somehow snuck around the others, kneeling down to draw her out again.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto narrowly dodges Vita's Raketenfangen, taking 25 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Steven strums on his ukelele until the song concludes, and manages to remain largely unhindered for its duration. Being up this high is really helping! The Shades don't seem keen on climbing up to him, at least for the moment. The boy can only hope his song has reached all of their hearts over the sound of violence. Readjusting his shield and putting away his trusty isntrument, the gem child loosk ready to re-enter the fray, when he spots Lion amongst the crowd, sitll fighting!

"Lion!" he calls out, getting his compatriot's attention. After another enemy felled, he turns to see Steven, and comes to him atop the crates. "Lion, we gotta get in on this! That badguy is attacking Sailor Moon!" That is an affront to everything Steven believes in! "See him? Let's get the drop on him!"

Lion looks straight at the masked man, then at Steven. "Me?! I can't go first! What if you land on me?! Just go! I got your back!"

With that, Lion begins skulking along the upper reaches of the crates, looking for a good place to jump from... and POUNCES! The cat scores a direct hit, and Steven jumps right after him, swinging his shield at this evildoer, hoping to follow up with a one-two combo!

"You wont hurt her as long as I am around!"

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Shield Dervish on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The world feels so simple to Nori as she flies, even as stardust and light fills the battered warehouse. She is not even sure if she struck her target or not, because she is seeing something else moving. Madoka Kaname.

She remembers clearly for a moment seeing a whale leap from a tank of water with that girl there right beside her. It is the happiest birthday she can remember clearly.

The world gets weirdly quiet. La Sirene du Nord moves like a shadow - which, they say, can't move faster than light, but what would they know? - forwards, her lantern held in her off hand, the red weal of her mostly-healed ice-dagger wound getting redder as she holds it tight. Her grip on Sayaka's blade remains true.

There feels like a momentary discontinuity, to Nori: When it ends she feels tears on her cheek. But words come out of her mouth: "To attack a weeping girl?!"

And then the blade dives in on that shadowy prince-form... a perfect lunge.

Then another. And another. Aaaand another. Indeed, this prince will be forgiven to have fallen onto a blade: for it would be clear that he is quite clumsy indeed, to have fallen upon that blade /sixteen times/.

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Seriously Wounded Over Recent Deeds on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly dodges Sailor Moon's Moon Tiara Stardust, taking 22 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Steven Universe's Shield Dervish, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge La Sirene du Nord's Seriously Wounded Over Recent Deeds, taking 29 Fatigue damage!  Diversion applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

The masked man is really starting to enjoy himself in his back and forth with Sailor Moon, now; he likes listening to her protests, he likes seeing her try to hold him off, he likes seeing her fall. He reflects that, for all the reasons he's been staying off the front lines, he really does enjoy them every once in a while. His heart may not be pounding at the speed he seeks, but this is more... engaging than many other ways he could have spent his evening.

It gets a lot more interesting when he gets mauled in the back by a giant pink lion and the edge of a little boy's shield, who together send him staggering backwards, into the stacks, emerging just in time to tear his nice black suit on Nori's well-placed sword. Red roses, much brighter than Kasagami's, shining like rubies, like desert sunsets and like blood, explode all around him, bearing the brunt of the blow instead of his spleen.

The shadowman she assaults next has no such protection, and is utterly eviscerated, exploding into dust right above Madoka's head.

Walking out, the real Touga starts to adjust his cuffs, when he gets showered in Sailor Moon's radiant disgust. He steps along its edges, and takes it once again on the edge of his weapon, which is beginning to shed more red sparks of profound unhappiness. It doesn't like the color of her heart, that's for sure.

Giving the three of them an 'are you quite finished' sort of look, he pops his jaw, to the left, to the right. He picks the dandruffy moondust off of his lapel.

And while he's acting casual and dismissive, every remaining shadowman leaps upon them from all directions, introducing them to a dozen swords of -- not hatred, not really -- but certainly displeasure.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Hotaru Tomoe has used Shadowblade Carnage on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Hotaru Tomoe has used Shadowblade Carnage on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Hotaru Tomoe has used Shadowblade Carnage on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Finisher, Shadowblade Carnage, taking 52 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Finisher, Shadowblade Carnage, taking 56 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene du Nord's Block ability activates!  La Sirene du Nord's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Steven Universe narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Finisher, Shadowblade Carnage, taking 48 Fatigue damage!  Steven Universe's Block ability activates!  Steven Universe's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Hero Fu. Sailor Moon. Hero Akira. Puella Magi Mami. Puella Magi Sayaka. Some names she knows, some she doesn't, but all do their best to bring down a maddened tyrant. Each eches their power, their names into her heart as they give their all.

Fu, weakly, gets a smile. "This is the way of this world, Fu. We're all human, in the end. As long as suffering casts its Darkness, we'll all continue to struggle, hurt, and kill each other. An endless cycle of pain. No matter what...I really might be...only true Power will ever change that single truth." She mutters lowly. In a moment of weakness, she allows a grain of her true Despair to be seen.

Fu's blade slams into her, inexorable, lifting her in the air and forcing eyes wide and pain to blossom along her body. Her uniform is already tatters now, red lines on flesh light and dark. Dark red flowers seem to bloom across her body in a beautiful display.

The rose of her pain slowly buds.

The Rookie Akira offers her determination and strength, the resolve to fight for her newest friend. Boundless strength to remove that which stands before her and threatens those she cares for.

Violet petals slam into Kasagami, building with Fu's own strike. Even then, power tries to slam her down as Fu lifts her to heaven. She's transfixed, body covered in conflicting violets and crimsons in a beautiful arrangement.

The rose of her pain begins to blossom.

The Justice of Sailor Moon, that Hope-filled woman of compassion that sees Kasagami, perhaps, for who she really is. Someone willing to fight and slay for a dream. Maybe one of an insane ideal. Maybe one born of pain. Maybe one born of hating the pain of others, or just wanting it all to stop. Of wanting those she lost back in her arms. A child's dream turned black. Light fills her, and as she screams...

The Light of Hope shines, and the flowers are full and beautiful for but one moment.

Sayaka Miki rushes her with rain and music pure, a valiant heart that may carry some pale reflection of Kasagami's ever-growing bloodlust and craze. But for now it's not to be, as a burnt up, smoldering heart is cooled by the falling rains even as Sayaka's blow strikes her body to hold her still in the heavens along with the others' strikes.

The impact has Kasagami floating in the air as forces meet. Her body quivers, in suffering, in pure amazement at those that have fought against her.

The rose of her pain wilts to black.

Mami Tomoe denies everything that is Kasagami Araki. Her dream, her death, her worthiness to stand with the pride of a King. Those massive cannons tear into her with their power. Old wounds burn as she's blasted towards the wall of the place, and then, the impact. Magic and physical force blow away the wall, even as Mami wraps the ribbons about her. Gold is spun into a cat's cradle of binding softness, only to squeeze about her body. They mold to the wilting roses around her like weeds. Dream and ambition is added to red, choking lines on her flesh beneath the flower garden that is Kasagami Araki. She chokes, and she screams, and she writhes. For the first time truly in so long, her world is pain.

The rose of her pain falls into brilliant petals all around her, replaced with clinging ivy about her. On the edge of loss, the pain reminds her of all she's lost, and yet, it helps her find the strength to keep going. She made a promise in her heart. To her Parents, to a warrior, to the World, and to Herself. In one last, desperate movement, Kasagami Araki mutters.

"...Mother...Father...I won't let you down." Are her strangled words.

The sheath of her family sword falls, and is placed to the binds that Mami's placed her in. Calling on all of her remaining power, she finds bravery and solice in the physical object that once was held by the woman that birthed her. Her dream comes to her, and a steely eye turns to regard the group that has nearly finished her, and yet, spared her.

All at once, what was a single blade at her binds, is more. It might be two, might be ten, might be unending. Kasagami's Will shines, and blade touches skin, wounding herself in order to go on. For all that she really knows is how to swing a blade, even if it's just to cut herself while in agony.

The light fades, and Kasagami shoves herself to her feet. The ivy, the tattered ribbons, the wilted flowers all bloom a brilliant dark crimson. She's bent, she's broken, but as she leans heavily on her sword, she manages to stumble away. One hand reaches up as she turns her back on the group. Angry. Afraid. But once more knowing her purpose.

A coat manifests of flowers, and she throws it on her back.

"....All of you. Thank you. Now I see where I must grow stronger. And where my power truly lies. I'll meet you all again. And when I do, things will be different. There's nothing else here for me right now."

A deep breath, and she walks out limping with pain and yet a grin.

"Next time, I will crush my obstacles."

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

The Garnet Orb reveals much, allowing its keeper vision through time -- circumstances allow but a glimpse, a shallow rifling through moments along Vita's shockingly scattershot personal timeline. Pluto's practiced eye settles on one vignette and she absorbs it in an instant, integrating an understanding of that moment in time into her understanding of the current situation. The erratic nature of Vita's presence in the here-and-now, she files away for later consideration.

The longer she spends in this place and time, the more anomolies she encounters...

Distraction. If she had time to shake her head at herself she would; as it is, her opponent has already launched her assault and Pluto can only move, snapping the Rod down and to the side. She is not quick enough.

Vita flashes across the short distance separating them, the weaving motion of rocket propulsion echoing the doom of the two knights from the vision. Leaping up and to the right, Sailor Pluto does her very best to anticipate the corkscrewing motion of the oncoming red-and-black hammer-led blur and fails, taking the full impact of Vita's charge to her already-bruised side -- the only saving grace, and it is a vital one, is that she is barely missed by the cruel, driving spike at the hammer's tip.

The full-on SMASHing impact of Vita finally batters a pained cry from Sailor Pluto -- "Oouuaagh!!" -- and she slides several feet back and away in a protective crouch. She is slow to straighten, but stand she does, and she wipes a trickle of blood from the corner of her mouth. It mars the back of her white glove.

She has taken her opponent's measure, and now she will return it, paid in full.

Gathering the Garnet Rod once more, her arms dance in the air around her, as if she is taking the first steps of a dance. Dust from the shattered warehouse rises around her, eerie and unnerving, to join in that dance, and tendrils of it wrap and spin about the battered senshi.

Her blood-red eyes fix onto Vita's blue ones, inescapable, and she whispers the words into the wind-whipped space between them, power bearing them unmarred through the tempest. They reach almost every corner of the battlefield.

"Dead... Scream...!"

In a smooth, sweeping motion she brings the Garnet Rod around to bear on Vita and releases the pent-up, shrieking energy of battles past and future. They howl and batter Vita, carrying long-dead pain and agony, as well as the promise of more to come. Sailor Pluto has unleashed the death throes of all who have and ever will die here, and has directed them at her foe.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Sailor Pluto has used Dead Scream on Vita.
COMBAT: Vita narrowly braces Sailor Pluto's Finisher, Dead Scream, taking 34 Fatigue damage!  Vita's Block ability activates!  Vita's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbPztpB7keA

A shadow gleams in her periphery, one drawing down to where Madoka is nestled away. Upon catching her tiara she cries, "Madoka!" Fortunately La Sirene, defender of crying girls is on her with the blade of a Puella Magi. She exhales once. "You really are a defender of weeping girls." La Sirene gets a salute, from a girl who can often be described as weeping.

A pink lion on the other hand descends upon him from above, a pink shield at the ready, swinging furiously as he leaps from the pink lion. "S-Sugoi! Thanks for the help."

How he works in tandem with that lion is truly a sight to behold.

But the look in the masked eyes of the one behind it, the dimissiveness, causes her to blanch. To pale. Her newly created Moon Spiral Heart Rod is ready. She's ready. Every Shadowy man leaps on her at once. A dozen heart seeking blades, hoping to end her at once. To shatter her new creation.

She gives it her all to prevent that. Her rod is a spinning whorl of light, as it clashes with blades from all sides. The shadows fall over her image, and she vanishes, becoming a strobe like image of herself in a dark. A flash and there she is deflecting a blade. Another and there she is driving another high.

Another flash and there she is driving sweeping a half dozen low.

It's dark, and painful, and frightening, just like at D-Point. And in the end, she's still surrounded. Dozens of small cuts all over her Fuku, her skirt. One of her twintails might have received a small trim. But she's still standing, her chest heaving. "You talk about my mistakes. Let's talk about yours. You kidnapped Madoka-chan. You drugged her. You trampled all over her feelings, and the feelings of those who care about her just to get what you want. But your biggest mistake-"

Sailor Moon raises the rod high. The light of the moon catches upon the glimmering mirror within the heart, causing it to shine silver. She remembers his condescending compliment from earlier. "-is dismissing cute little girls like us. Our feelings created this, and I'm going to protect her with it!"

Have you ever stood between two mirrors and taken a glimpse into eternity? What if one of those mirrors was a window? A glimpse beyond fluffy clouds among endless blue, into a warm night that embraces all. Into an endless sea of grey. Peel back the veil of time, and you see delicate spires and domes in all of their majesty. Crystalline gardens that are small slivers of paradise. Enshrouded within the shadowy veil of night, the shade of the Moon Kingdom sleeps.

It's only a glimpse, but it's there, within the tiny window on the rod, the Moon Kingdom, the Silver Millenium. With each chime, you're drawn back from that glimpse of history, of loveliness. Until there's only a Senshi holding a rod high overhead, light leaking out from it like the silvery radiance of the full moon.

The flourishing motion that comes back is part of the spell she weaves, a choreography, a dance. For all of her clumsiness, Sailor Moon dances in a twirl, the Spiral Moon Heart Rod a spinning whorl of light within her hand. She presents it high, holding it in one hand. All is in readiness.

"MOOOONNNNNN SPIRALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL-" She begins to twirl, starting high, her twintails becoming a streams of blonde. "-HEEEAAAAAAARRRRRRRTTTTTTTT-" Before tucking in, spinning low, ending in a kneel like a gymnast at the end of a floor routine. "-ATTACK!"

The rod is raised high, a galaxy pinwheel of light, sparkling trails of stars, radiant tears, shining life. Between each trail of light, streams of hearts, flowing out like tributaries to a greater river. They join together into a heart of tremendous size, of incredible loveliness.

Joined as one, it flows, it crashes right into the shadows, and perhaps- perhaps, even the 'adult' behind it.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Sailor Moon has used Moon Spiral Heart Attack! on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

This world, continuing on the way it is, a struggle that can only be abated by one thing. Mami is impassive towards Kasagami, but she hears the Duelist's words as she speaks them, knows them.

It is one mark.

Her magic takes hold of her opponent, and for all that this magic of Mami's need not be lethal, it is not kind, designed for binding and crushing Witches and put only to a secondary use, so often as the years go on it seems, against humans. Kasagami speaks of her Mother and her Father.

A second. Still, she doesn't let up, doesn't look with any kindness at all on her foe, not even as she finally hurts herself in order to break free.


As her foe limps away, Mami thinks about what she's said, the truth she's espoused. ...She considers, knowing she could still fire again, that she could go back on what she said and perhaps end this problem now. But instead...

She just shakes her head. "You won't thank me," she says, more to herself than to Kasagami. "Because I already understand."

But she understands something else, as she turns to the rest of the battlefield. She understands what happened the last time she didn't support the others, when she could have. How that turned out... As, it seems, for nothing. Mami lifts her hand, and now her hand, too, is stained with blood as she conjures another rifle. "Everyone!" she calls, and fires--and picks up another, and fires, and another, and another, into the flank of the shadowy warriors to carve her allies here a path.

When Sailor Moon talks about mistakes, Mami understands it. She knows, in her heart. Just as she knows that for one beautiful, aching moment, she herself is a part of a crystalline paradise.

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Flourish on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Mami Tomoe's Tiro Flourish, taking 51 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"I can do nothing less!" la Sirene calls to Sailor Moon in response to that salute.

Batiste squeaks at Madoka. This may not help anything. It's a friendly squeak, at least, because Batiste is somewhat concerned about Nori and needs to displace things. He is hoping very much that this is a transient outrage. Maybe he'll be right! Either way he leaps down, out of the way - perhaps to comfort Madoka, or at least confound her with something other than 'horrible things.'

Then he comes forth. Not Batiste, of course, but that man tormenting them. Him and his thousandfold shadows fall downwards, and la Sirene presses back to guard that entrance as she swings her blade round to parry. She is not miserable - she has learned fundamental maneuvers - but at the moment her strength is in that aggrieved speed and swiftness and force, and that will not last.

Or will it? Maybe it will last long enough. La Sirene du Nord thrashes around herself and by the time that the Moon Spiral comes downwards, the light shining on her and casting her own (quite real, quite conventional, and quite /inert/) shadow outwards, she is pale - even for her. Sweat soaks her forehead. Her dress is ragged and has blood spotting it here and there. Her head is slumped over. That delicate little cap that so often stays pinned in her black hair with its blue highlights falls, damaged.

La Sirene breathes in...

And tosses her head back, the style wholly askew. Her eyes still have that eerie thing going on, though there is at least enough blue in her irises that the effect is weakened. She does not advance on their foe, her body held taut. Instead she brandishes the sword, pointing it straight at him. "YOU--"

She rocks back and forth on the balls of her feet twice in rapid succession. She takes a step forwards, almost hopping. She then swings the sword against the Brazen Pharos's side, which rings merrily, even as la Sirene takes in a huge breath.

"I want--"

La Sirene's left hand comes up. She's grasped the Pharos backhanded, the ammolite-chased lantern resting on the back of her wrist, pointed forwards. La Sirene sweeps that blade of justice round and points the tip of it towards the inch-wide opening on the lantern's front.

"To show you something."

La Sirene's hand curls into a tight-shut fist and where she habitually feathers a flicker of light forwards, or sends a quick flash - no - she opens the front of the Pharos now, that inch of brass disk rising upwards in such a simple, inevitable mechanical motion, backed with passion as it may be.

And the light comes out. No, it's not light: it's the reverse of light, though perhaps that ineffable absolute value is why Sailor Moon's own burst does not stop the transmission of wave and particle alike towards the eyes of that mystery man. It is a strange light but it is not a cruel one. That abyssal radiance shines forwards and if Touga lets his eyes follow it he will see a luminous rectangle within that brass, glowing with colors and dreams unhinted and lamented.

And because that Black Mirror within is a window into the depths of a Sea, for a fleeting moment, /something else looks back/.

COMBAT: FINISHER! La Sirene du Nord has used Paint It Black and Take It Back on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

The boy and his Lion land an excellent combination attack and buys his friends some time. The boy skids to a halt near his friends facing down this masked badguy! Lion comes to his side as well. "We got to stop him!" he declares. Not that it needs reiterating. Everyone is focused on whoever this person is. Steven may not know, but others do. They oppose him, and so shall he!

The boy takes a breath, as Sailor Moon uses one of her awesome moves while /he is right there/. The boy's eyes are filled with stars as he beholds this amazing event.

"So awesome..." comes out in a deadpan voice, unable to express any emotion for a few moments for the sensory overload.

"Lion! We have to help too!" Steven declares as he hopes into his mane. A few moments later, out comes a cannon of soem sort, blooming at the tip, managing to come out of the animal's mane of all places. How was it held there?! "We can help too! You will no longer stop us and kidnap others! I... no, WE will make sure of that!"

"Know these two things! Good always triumphs over evil, no matter what!"


"If every pork chop were perfect, we wouldn't have hot dogs!"

With that, the Lion mascot braces for a recoil, and the cannon whirrs to life, glowing a beautiful Rose color for a few moments before a large beam of pink energy erupts forth, blindingly beautiful as a feminine shape leads the blast charge, bathing what was left of the warehouse in a calming color.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Steven Universe has used Laser Light Cannon on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Steven Universe's Finisher, Laser Light Cannon, taking 110 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Sailor Moon's Finisher, Moon Spiral Heart Attack!, taking 224 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge La Sirene du Nord's Finisher, Paint It Black and Take It Back, taking 106 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Yuusha Akira [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

The rookie Hero shoulders her hammer and lets out an exasperated breath. She honestly can't shake the feeling that she may have just made a nasty enemy. She looks to Mami and then to Sayaka. She gives a smile and an honest, "Thank you." to them. She is still pretty quiet.

Her eyes go to Sailor Moon and the storm of Shadowy men attacking her. The light show that girl puts on is spectacular to say the very least. It makes her smile. Quickly she leaps up, into the air and drops near Sailor Moon and Steven apparently. Her attention is on those shadowy men, "Excuse me boys but, Isn't that one of your bosses leaving over there. You should join her!" She winds up and begins unleashes a barrage of attacks at the shadowy men as she lets out a scream, "HEEERRRROOOO BARRAGE!!!!"

COMBAT: Yuusha Akira has used Hero Barrage! on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly dodges Yuusha Akira's Hero Barrage!, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Hotaru Tomoe is unable to keep fighting!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Vita [None] has posed.

Vita finishes her swing at Pluto and then continues off - the rocket motor that has replaced Graf Eisen's second head carrying her off in crazy, barely-controlled corkscrews for several seconds before she slows the engine enough tof her to get a sense of Pluto's status. The result is...not what she wanted.

"Hurt her," Vita assesses, not to Pluto. "But this one's tough...!"

The engine rumbles in preparation to roar, but Sailor Pluto has her own screams to offer. The spell she's weaving - summoning such a primal power as death itself - makes Vita's eyes widen in gathering shock. "Whoa, whoa! What is that! I've never seen that!"

Graf Eisen thrums its hollow chime, but has no input beyond a German sentence: <<Detecting a large magical energy being gathered.>> "Yeah, I noticed!" Vita snaps back.

Vita didn't know her eyes could get any wider, but she feels them bulge as Sailor Pluto whispers her attack. "EISEN!!" she screams, and the response from her companion is a roared, <<EXPLOSION!>> as the hammerhead rises up and then SLAMS down, firing another cartridge into the device. Vita brandishes her hammer in a wide arc...

...and SLAMS the chisel-tipped hammerhead into the orb as it screams toward her. She can hear the wailing from this close; hear the whispers. The force of it ruffles her outfit even before impact, sending her pigtails and skirt flapping in impossible gales, even as Graf Eisen's hammerhead makes no progress against the incredible force. "AGAIN!" Vita cries, and the hammerhead rises up one more time and thunks down - and once more, for measure, before the rocket engine on the back of Raketenform erupts into an explosion of its own light.

The hammer's rocket-propelled sweep forces Vita up and out of the path of the bolt of deathly power, and the blast goes sailing off behind her, smashing into a building some distance back and erupting in a cataclysmic blast.

Vita doesn't make a move this time. She floats in midair, standing on nothing. Her whole body is trembling from the energy she's exerted, and her breath comes in slow, shuddering gasps. She stares down at Pluto with something different in her eyes.

Graf Eisen emits a hiss of escaping steam, and the hammerhead pops out, ejecting four spent cartridges. They tumble to the ground, clattering harmlessly as they land. Vita never takes her eyes off Sailor Pluto. "Four," she rasps.

Finally, she grunts, unladylike in the extreme, and turns her glare on the explosions of cataclysmic light and color coming from further inside the warehouse. "...not enough," she says to herself, and then looks to Sailor Pluto again. "Good work," she says, though the look in her eye says she means something rather different. "I guess you can have this one. I'm not messing with an army of your angry friends."

She swings the hammer one last time - pointing the orb between the hammerheads at Sailor Pluto. "But next time, you're mine. You hear me!?"

With no more than that, she starts off into the sky, and once she's a good couple dozen feet off the ground she accelerates, arcing off into the sky.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

Kasagami, beset on all sides by enemies, retreats and makes her problems into his.

"You just can't get good help these days," he remarks.

Even his shadowmen are falling left and right -- to Mami's bullets, to Akira's hammer.

Faced with overwhelming numbers and even more impressive attacks -- numbers aside, any one of these might have been enough in a fair fight to defeat him -- the masked man decides to give them a better target.

Whipping it up across his face, he salutes them with his strange blade, his blade that hums ominously even as death comes for it, and throws it into the air.

It soars through the terrible unlight. A sword does not have eyes, but nonetheless, there's an odd sense of tension between the nameless weapon and the Pharos, as though they're in a staring contest.

It's engulfed by Steven's immense beam of light, which courses down its length, filling its red circuitry, rewriting it in pink, then causing it to explode in an overloaded puff.

And then love, love and love and love and love and love, fills it, one mighty pink heart at a time. Each one stains the blade white on impact, and when there's no blackness left at all, just a sword that could be bone, it crumbles to dust. Like the shadowmen it summoned, it leaves a briefly glowing rune, and is gone.

So is its wielder, who doesn't deign to even grant the righteous fury articulated by Sailor Moon a word of reply. He's not interested in the power of feelings generated between two girls.

One of the last pieces of the roof, a corner piece, groans as its structural integrity gives way, and it tumbles to the concrete with a crash that demands attention turn now to evacuation, to recovery.

In the end: the magical girls are left with two fewer keys, and two more friends, than when they started; and this shipping company is left with one fewer warehouse and a great deal of missing merchandise. This company, which has been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, all the while unwilling to accept the helping hand of a larger corporation.

Tomorrow, Searrs will call again, and make the same offer as before, because it's no longer one the owners of this former warehouse can refuse.

And sooner than that, even, the case with the keys will be delivered to its new owner.


<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

From her cradle of garbage, Madoka blinks blearily at Steven's declaration of protection, then looks through the dissipating shadows to see Nori's sword, then lantern, and an immense propagation of pink, an ancient cannon joining forces with Usagi's weapon, which is something entirely new.

"Beautiful," she whispers, before looking around the group, starting to breathe quickly, too quickly, until she spots Sayaka, whole and hale.

"...thank you," she concludes, gratitude clearly directed towards the entirety of the assemblage. And then her eyes roll up in her head, and she passes out.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Dedicated to the last, determined that her Future Queen and her friend will not be menaced any further by this startlingly sturdy young girl with her explosive hammer, Pluto pours every last drop of herself into her attack. The violent death throes of countless warriors assaults the girl, roars at her with all the force of a freight train...

...and blows past, finally hitting a faraway building and erupting with a angry, unsatiated, multithroated howl, as if frustrated by its inability to swallow the girl whole.

Vita still stands. It is both impossible and true.

Hope, which so recently swelled Setsuna Meioh's heart deep within Sailor Pluto's breast, bleeds away and leaves a cold hollow in its place. She has very little left to give, and the very summoning of the dead has drained her, turning her limbs to lead. She sags where she stands, allowing the Garnet Rod's slender strength to bear her weight.

As Vita regards her from midair, Pluto looks back, also still standing, also somewhat impossibly. She hears the girl's threat, but dully, as if from a great distance. She could have this one, yes, but only because the other magical girl cannot see how easily a stiff breeze could blow her over. She has met no challenge like this yet, in this place and time, and she makes note: surely, she will see this red-and-black clad foe again.

Sailor Pluto knows the value in the appearance of strength and tries to straighten. Instead, her cruelly-crushed side betrays her and she coughs, pained. By the time she looks up again, Vita is gone, her promise for their next meeting ringing out in the space she's left.

Into the dull buzzing silence that follows, Sailor Pluto hears... something. It weaves in and out of the rushing of blood in her ears, insistent, unignorable, a familiar... something. She turns, and sees


The Silver Millennium, with its gleaming spires and sweeping, elegant bridgework; the Kingdom of the Moon, nestled on the banks of a great sea. For a single breathless moment, Setsuna is sure she sees a familiar spire, set away from the rest of the city: a golden spire, reaching for the stars above. She aches for it, longs for it.

Sailor Moon ascends, sparkling, a Princess claiming her birthright within a sparkling shower of magic, and Pluto watches with her heart in her eyes -- an open expression, surpassingly rare, for anyone who glances her way to see. She slides to the floor, sitting against the wall, and watches as her future queen unleashes the miraculous beauty of their home, and she smiles just a bit.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sayaka lets her sword clatter to the floor as Araki retreats. Screw it, she has more where that came from. She's panting, but relatively unharmed compared to her past track record. Certainly there's no comparison between this and her last confrontation. The last thing she needs is for Araki to get even stronger.

Spent from that attack, she watches Mami lend a hand, smiling faintly. It felt good to collaborate with her like that; it never really wears off. She's not Mami's equal by any means, but she can fight at her side, now. And not just /her/ side either, right?

"Nice cover," she nods to Fu. "Made it real easy to hit! Haha!" She grin to the other Yuusha, whose attack had joined hers in defeating a tyrant. "Sayaka," she introduces herself, offering a hand.

Turning at last, Sayaka is beaming before she even sets eyes on Madoka. It's not joy--joy's not the word. Gratitude. Things don't always work out like this. Sayaka's not so young that she doesn't get it. One of those bad days would be enough, if it happened to Madoka. Then she's just a black and white photograph, framed on her school desk.

"Madoka," she whispers. It's like it blows Madoka over.

Grimacing with a yelp, Sayaka snaps into a sprint, and just barely avoids having to dive for it by virtue of Madoka's feather-like weight causing her to wobble a bit before falling. Catching an arm beneath Madoka's back, Sayaka skins her knees a bit in her haste to get them beneath her. Her eyes are welling up. "H-hey, what are you sleeping for? You think that's enough of a thank you? Rude!"

Sayaka crams her face ino Madoka's shoulder just as the tears start really pumping. "P-people were worried, ab-bout you..." Sayaka's hands twist up in the back of Madoka's school uniform, and her voice finally twists off into a raw sob. "Madoka... thank g-goodness, Madoka..." She squeezes her unconscious friend. "I'm sorry, I let them take you again... I'm so sorry..."

Sayaka kneels bent, her shoulders bucking with her choked sobs.

<Pose Tracker> Yuusha Akira [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Yuusha Akira shoulders her Weapon as she dusts herself off. Thank heavens she doesn't need to fix this uniform. She quickly begins to step away. She's exhausted and she has an adrenaline rush that won't quit right now. She is still riled up from Kasagami's attack that could have killed her if not for her fairy jumping in.

The blunette speaks to her with her name. Akira smiles and gives a polite bow, "Akira." She looks at her jacket and its sliced and there is some distinctive red on it. That was close. Quickly she springs up and out of the whole in the side of the building. She doesn't know where Fu has gone right now. What she does know is where she is going. Several moments later, A girl in an Infinity Middle School uniform walks into a diner. She orders a bowl of udon and a highly caffinated drink. She needs it!

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

"She might just be exhausted," says the talking otter as he scrambles back to the area around la Sirene's heels. "But, I believe Sailor Moon said she was drugged. Perhaps a doctor...?"

La Sirene puts her lantern on a convenient belt loop and scoops up Batiste. She would like, she thinks, to hug Madoka. But... at this moment, despite pain, she feels exhilarated, somehow. And it is clear to her that Sayaka is there, and will be with Madoka, and -

And her eyes are stinging -

"Thank you," she says to Sayaka, her voice husky. "Please take care of her."

With that she turns on her heel, that borrowed sword still resting on her shoulder. She looks towards Sailor Moon for a moment: la Sirene's hair is a mess, she looks wild-eyed even now, and she's sweating despite the weather air outside. Nonetheless her smile is pure and simple and real. And then she strides forwards, back towards that hole made by Kagutsuchi, and from there, into the night.

It will be ten or fifteen minutes before she realizes that now she has to be responsible for this sword. Fortunately, it will vanish in time, to her no-doubt immense relief.

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

There are many things she wants to do right now. Talk to Sailor Pluto most of all, to thank her for coming for her, for saving her. But also Steven, La Sirene. A talk with Mami Tomoe seems inevitable. She finds there's no anger there when she thinks about it. What happened. Just confusion and sadness and a wish she knew what she valued more.

But first she turns to Madoka, at her whisper of beautiful. She's just smiling at her. Her knees feel so light, they're collapsing beneath her, soon Sailor Moon is on them. The fact that she was okay just made her so happy. So happy.

When she passes out though, something in her breaks. There's a yelp, a whisper like there was a possibility that the drugs had been poison, working their way through her system all along. She crawls that way, it's not nearly the equal of the softball player's sprint.

Sayaka is there holding her. Cramming her face in her shoulder, sobbing. She gets there after. She's silent as someone might be in church. A moment of such pure expression of love, of care, of such raw emotion might as well have equal reverence to Usagi as any sacrament ever created by people or gods. The place is coming down around their ears and she remains still.

Her hand eventually finds her way to Sayaka's shoulder in a comforting way, her eyes bright and wet, "She was so brave, even when she was scared. So brave- she's one of the bravest girls I know." Even if she wouldn't think she is. Taking a deep breath, she speaks again, "Sometimes you try really hard to protect someone. And you fail. And someone suffers for it. Or a lot of someones. And it gets you real down. You feel like the lowest of the low. The worst-"

She bows her head, "-I know I did, at Tokyo Tower. Those five girls..." She sounds kind of choked up, the wound is so fresh, it's only begun to heal. "I t-tried so hard to shine for them." She brushes her opposite hand across her eyes, "...but she found me after, she told me everyone loses sometimes. And she's right. I lose all the time, but I think when people get back up, when they keep trying, keep fighting for what they care about with all their heart, and have hope for the future. I think that's when they shine the brightest."