2016-09-03 - Locks and Keys 12

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Title: Locks and Keys 12

Ends of the World has collected all seven mystical Keys to the City of Tokyo, and for unclear reasons they've decided to show them off in public, at the Golden Tokyo Gala. Naturally, magical girls decide to infiltrate this exclusive event. No one anticipates what happens next, however, when the fully-realized Master Key reacts to the feelings of its holder, dragging everyone into a vision of a possible future...


Usagi Tsukino, Mai Tokiha, Take Akamizu, Fuu Hououji, Hikaru Shidou, Kasagami Araki, Setsuna Meioh, Shizuru Fujino, Mikoto Minagi, Natsuki Kuga, Homura Akemi, Haruka Tenoh, Michiru Kaioh, Garnet

GM: Hotaru Tomoe


Searrs Symphony Hall

OOC - IC Date:

09-03-2016 - 11-18-2014

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

Tonight there are so many spotlights on -- and emanating, in glorious golden arcs, from -- Searrs Symphony Hall that it's easy to imagine it being visible anywhere and everywhere. Forget it being the center of Ueno, or Shitamachi, or even Tokyo. Tonight, this is the center of everything. Tonight, this is the axis of the universe, the pivot on which all things swing.

And it feels like it. Jubilant crowds throng Ueno Park, the masses come to welcome world-renowned leaders, dignitaries and celebrities to a party they aren't even invited to -- so, of course, they've made their own. It's a cold November night, but not a wet one, and under the grace and benediction of the stars, a festival air has risen like the sun. There are enterprising street performers on every corner, some with amplification. Food and beverage vendors have hastily assembled, to ply the crowd with their wares. Many people have brought their own picnic baskets, and when they aren't struggling, cell phone cameras raised on high over the tide of people, to snap pictures of the red carpet, it's not an uncommon sight to see a family or cluster of friends eating steaming dinners on benches, tables, and blankets.

Security for the gala is tight. To even reach the red carpet requires clearing multiple security checkpoints, and the parking garage, all cool gray concrete and a rainbow of absurdly expensive luxury sedans (and the odd limo), is totally locked down; a number of more privacy-conscious individuals are making their way into the Symphony Hall through that entrance, rather than taking the very public walk through the sparkling glass double doors. The guards have a special forces look to them, though the JSDF certainly hasn't been mobilized for this; nonetheless, they seem polished and professional and far, far above the stereotype one might expect (or hope for) at a venue like this.

To walk the red carpet is to face a barrage of photography flashes and an inquisition about clothing, dates, and plans. The gauntlet is a friendly one, though, the press corps on their best behavior and the screaming enthusiasm of the crowd behind them a fine backdrop in which to nurture a little self-confidence. Their energy isn't reserved only for celebrities they recognize; /anyone/ in white tie attire making their way down the carpet must be /someone/, or they wouldn't be here at all. The universally bestowed admiration and acclaim are heady aromas, thicker than the clouds of perfume and the pervasive, underlying scent of freshly opened champagne.

There certainly is a lot of it -- champagne, that is, and other drinks being served in the packed lobby. You can't swing a cat without hitting a princess or a CEO or something; a skunk could, singlehandedly, ruin a million dollars in property (clothing, shoes, accessories) in a single moment of indiscretion. The sense of wealth is overwhelming, not just on the ears and wrists and necks of the partygoers, but in smaller ways, too. The wine glasses have that extra sparkle that comes from truly high-quality crystal. The rugs are extraordinarily plush, such that high heels sink into them just a little more than usual. The flower arrangements would have been ostentatious no matter what, but there's something truly beautiful and absurd about the artfully gathered cherry blossom branches... in November.

The acoustics in the lobby are fantastic, even without being the perfection of the symphony hall itself, which allows it to be easily used as a sort of separate venue. While not dark and hot like a truly high-pitched rave, this party is hopping, with a crowd of the rich and famous getting down on a dance floor below a stage where no one less than Utau Hoshina, whose debut single recently reached #1 on the charts, is alternatively crooning and howling into the mic. The dancers are surrounded by a continguous wall of happily conversing people. Snatches of their loud-enough-to-be-heard-over-the-music conversation include:

"...yeah, with the weather turning we'll be going to the Azores soon..."

"...prices are up 5% today, so have Nakamura-kun sell everything before midnight..."

"...no, that's just not going to happen, bring it up at the next G20 summit if you think you can get enough support..."

"...ugh! He's wearing the same cuff links as me, and the same flower... who does he think he is?"

As with any convocation, it is a mixed bag of interests and priorities. Overall, however, the atmosphere is weightier inside than outside. The one thing few people are talking about is the actual, ostensible cause for this celebration -- but then, the bestowal some kind of honorary Key to the City isn't really that interesting or important, right?

OOC: Please establish in your first pose the story of how your character has snuck into the building. (By all means OOCly collaborate with other players to tell your story together!) The Magic Association has provided magical tuxedos that allow magical girls to infiltrate as security guards (the enchantment causes all who look at them to see them as co-workers who are just doing their jobs); the parking garage is their entry point. The Tuner Organization has used their money and connections to leverage actual party credentials, and is sending a limo's worth of magical girls straight down the red carpet. Unaffiliated magical girls could be brought in with either of these operations or use their own sneakiness, magic, or wealth/connections to have arranged entry.

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

Sometimes it pays to be the good buddy of a political person. Azyana, being the daughter of the Russian diplomat for once has it's uses. Instead of giving them a curfew on saving the world, it means that he gets to be a Diplomat's daughter's Plus one. Oh, how that is going to bite him in the ass ...

So it is that Takeo Akamizu walks with Azyana Konstantinov down that red carpet, and many ask her questions that the former is more adept at answering, while Takeo just shuts the hell up. If a certain saw THIS on the news, or on a magazine cover, he was going to get his rear burned off by a dragon.Azyana keeps the rabbit, claiming that Merlin is just "Her special favorite companion!" and the rabbit, trying not to grate his teeth, stays there.

Once inside, he separates from the person who is going to have several Spetznaz Special Forces guys keeping an eye on her, they had already mentioned they didn't care for Takeo, and so, using that, disappears into the party itself. He makes his way once free of Azyana toward the food table. Because of course he does.

Once there, he fits a blue tooth into his ear, which, Merlin had also done, using magic to hide his. He says softly. "Lightning to Thumper. Food area looks safe."

Merlin's voice crackles over the Blue Tooth, "Did you really think the food was in dange - Wait. Thumper? What the hell is a Thumper?"

"Ask Azyana. I'm investigating this... I think they call it a Canape?" And with that he moves with a slight grin and begins to look over the food selection. Especially the Canapes. He wonders if there is any bacon, ANYWHERE. A party as fancy as this has to have bacon. It's the faciest.

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

Why is Kasagami Araki here? She's no princess, and she's not the financially well off enough to warrant being at this party. No, it's her family name: the not-too-recently deceased member of Tokyo's Diet alone gives her political clout, as well as some barnstorming she's done in the past.

Oh, and there's the fact she has a golden mask hidden on her dress, just in case things go plumb-shaped. Emergency security, if you well.

The dress she's wearing happens to be a dark-red gown complete with ruffles turning to almost black at the edges. Her arms are encased in black opera gloves, and a long scarf covers her neck and some of her shoulders. The thing seems to shimmer in the light, and the scent of roses wafts by as she walks.

Kassie easily breezes through security, nodding in turn to them. One or two of them 'in the know' pulls her aside. A quick whispered conversation, then she's let go. When they get to the media section? She puts on a wide, brilliant smile, does a little spin and curtsey for the cameras, and generally eats up the attention.

But eventually she makes her way into the lobby. There's a glass in her hand, and she puts on a 'ladylike' look to her. Inwardly, she's laughing, as suddenly she catches the face of one of the businessmen here.

"I don't believe it. Aramaki-kun! It's been years! Yup, that's me, little Kassie has grown up! How's the wife and kids?" Comes Kasagami, letting her extrovert shine tonight as she chats up the rich and powerful, sipping away at champagne.

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

Even while she's disguised as a security guard herself, there is something about most of the security which reminds Fuu Hououji far too much for comfort of the Golden Dawn PMC from the Southern Cross Island incident. It's probably just her imagination; she's hoping that it is. But either way, the gala's attendees are probably going to be very well protected against everything and everyone that isn't a security guard.

... which is not a terribly cheery thought, given that neither Fuu nor her date are staying in their Association-provided disguises.

Once they're within the venue, Fuu and her companion find opportunities to change out of (and safely stash) their tuxedoes. This leaves Fuu in a very elegant evening gown of dark green velvet, tastefully adorned with a lighter green shawl about her shoulders and an emerald brooch clasping the shawl in place at her right shoulder; her green-haired companion is in the sort of tuxedo that would make James Bond look slapdash, and he's tall enough to draw attention away from Fuu quite conveniently - he at least looks like he could be a couple of years older than she is, whatever his actual age may be.

The two of them spend a few moments listening to Utau's performance, then drift away again, picking up hors d'oeuvres from the refreshment table (Fuu gets ginger ale instead of actual champagne), and they continue to mingle, casually looking through the crowd for familiar faces - not necessarily to greet them, but just to keep track of who's here. At least, that was Fuu's plan until she sees the boy investigating the canapes. She discreetly tugs at her companion's sleeve, and when he bends down, she whispers - not right *into* his ear, but the more polite version. "Keep mingling for a bit, Ferio-san, and if anything goes bad, focus on protecting civilians." Ferio makes a slight face, but nods before the two of them go their separate ways - for now, at least.

That gives Fuu the chance to approach Takeo, casually angling in via what she thinks is a blind spot. "If you're looking for bacon, Takeo-san, you might scout for an omelette table; it's probably going to be rather dry, but it should be crunchy enough to complement the eggs ..."

Nothing out of the ordinary here, just a young woman who probably doesn't QUITE fit into this high-society a setting, but is blending in as well as dress and decorum permit. Still, if Takeo hears her over 'Thumper' or other crowd noise, he's likely to recognize her voice.

And despite Fuu's advice, Ferio is definitely keeping an eye on her.

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

"Okay, we're narrowing it down. It's not Saitama Services or any of these four, they specialize more in heavy labour. And you're claiming that these three are 'too trustworthy'...the list is looking pretty short. Hopefully the organizers still need a few last-minute hands..." Having crossed out nearly every entry on a list of agencies, Mai frowns ever-so-slightly. "I know you said you had connections that could get us in, Kuga, but I'm still more comfortable tackling this angle."

Looking between her friends - or perhaps partners in crime - Mai smirks. "Besides, this way we get paid for infiltrating whatever's going on - tell me that doesn't appeal."


There are brilliant lights on nearly every entrance. The red carpet is a host of paparazzi seeking tales of the rich and famous, the parking garage contains more discretion for the rich and infamous, but nearly every attendee could have all the glamour they desire. Nearly - but in a party like this, there is one entrance that goes uncelebrated. One contingent of human lives present, but kept away from the brilliance as much as logistics will allow.

Paying homage to a small army of those conscripted to the cause of elegance, the service entrance is kept away from the cameras.

Those in service to the party share a uniform of crisp elegance - white shirts, black vests and aprons, and black skirts or pants depending. One waiter or waitress is the same as another, quietly ghosting through the party as the unremarkable servants they are meant to be. For many of the attendees, they might as well not exist; if empty champagne glasses were to be replaced with full ones by a magic spell instead of human hands, it would make little difference.

"Canape?" With the slightest curtsy, one of those clad in black and white holds out a tray of seared scallops daintily wrapped in tender prosciutto - a manoeuvre practised for years and restored to muscle memory in a frantic few hours. Little distinguishes this waitress from the others, save for her fiery hair, but it is Mai Tokiha who gracefully accepts a refusal and moves on to the next guest. Sparse words, the mildest intrusion - it's just like leaving a lovey-dovey couple alone to romance in peace.

Just...on a much more expensive scale.

When not looking directly at one of these high-society patrons, though, her expression is a little less polite. Suspicion is at the forefront, paired with a healthy dose of worry as she glances to the other waitstaff. Surely, they'll be fine on their own...right? Right. Right?

Hang on, she knows a few of these guests... She ghosts over to Takeo and Fuu, prosciutto treats on a silver-and-gold platter. "Would you care to try one of these, sir?"

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

"For once, I agree with you," Natsuki said as she looked over the list. "If we can get in by ourselves then that means I owe less favors to my 'connections'." She gave a small smirk. "Getting paid doesn't matter to me either way, but I suppose it is a nice bonus."

Natsuki isn't use to being on this side of society when it came to parties. Even the few parties she had attended with her grandfather, she had always been on the receiving end of the food. She had always held a respect for any server, but she couldn't help but feel it grow so even more with her brief taste tonight on the other side.

Natsuki had to do her best to smile and offered the champagne glasses, and tried not to twitch whenever she got a complaint they weren't cold enough or even when a lady claimed it was Natsuki's fault when she split a bit on her dress.

"Not my fault you have no clue how to walk in high heels," Natuski grumbles. "And I know those are the cheap kind too."

She sighed to herself and returned her focus on searching the crowd for their intended target, but so far there was no sign of the person.

"Better regroup with Mai," she said as she glide through the party goers and hoped Mai had better luck.

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

Having made her way through the parking garage as best as she could, Hikaru finds that walking in a tuxedo is not as easy as she thought it would be for whatever reason. Nevertheless, where there's a will, there's a way, and Hikaru manages to maintain her professional demeanor and attitude as she makes her way into the hall while looking the part. She does briefly smile and nod to her 'colleagues' as she makes her way inside. Once she does get inside and clear of those who might try to stop her, she breathes a sigh of relief, before attempting to make her way to wherever she might be needed.

Unlike Fuu-chan, who's chosen to ditch her disguise, Hikaru is remaining in disguise as a security guard. Her hair is done up and tucked underneath her cap, while her tuxedo seems to be perfectly fitting for a tomboy like her. Although it does feel a little tight at times. Nevertheless, she does manage to look as professional as possible. In fact, she's pretty much saying little except things like, "Enjoy yourself," and things like that. Her expression is mostly neutral and featureless, almost like she's getting into the position of being a security guard perfectly.

She does actually notice Fuu-chan briefly, but doesn't say anything as that might give her away. Instead, she gives a slight smile and a wink when Fuu-chan glances her way as if to say, "Surprise, surprise!" In a playful way without blowing her cover.

<Pose Tracker> Haruka Tenoh [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

It's possible to be so rich that a limousine starts to feel a terrible imposition. They need to obey traffic laws just like anyone else, after all, even if one hires a troupe of motorcyclists and a lobbyist with an in with the Tokyo Police to clear the way. Tokyo is not an automobile-friendly city. Wouldn't it be nice if you could just go... over?

The grass turns to water, concentric ripples flowing outward as a helicopter's landing gear gently kisses pavement, alighting like a falling petal. The rotors are still spinning down when Haruka Tenoh dismounts his iron steed with a cavalier's aplomb, long legs loose as he strips a bomber jacket from his heroic shoulders, ceding it without a glance to a nervously ducking maitre d'hotel. He's left in the high-waisted black pants and crisp white collar of a tuxedo. Sliding open the empty rear compartment with a thoughtless flex of his suspender-girded, muscle-hard back, he reaches up and retrieves his jacket, hiking his arms through it and flicking the lapels and cuffs into place with rough, professional ease, already striding around to the passenger side. Michiru Kaioh is not a lady who should have to open her own doors. He offers her his hand and a warm, insolent smile, and braces her as she dismounts in her far more challenging apparel.

The flashbulbs pummel Michiru and Haruka as they descend the red carpet, but both are seasoned celebrities. Haruka keeps his arm through Michiru's loyally as they face the adulation. He lets her be the one to pause and offer the token of her attention to a fan, if she likes, but makes no such stops himself, offering nothing but a fraternal wink to the boy who accepts Michiru's coat at the door.

"The Key to the City," he offers his whisper to Michiru with a light, foppish look on his handsome face, but his tone is very different. "Such an event might demand a special performance. What do you think, for tonight? A light touch? Or..."

Haruka gives an indolent smile to a passing security agent. "Con brio?"

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

When Fuu arrives and points out one possible location for the bacon, he grins like a maniac and then looks to Fuu. "Oh! Hello Hououji-san! Nice party huh?" He gestures to the food, and takes a Canape right off Mai's tray as she approaches. "OOOOOOO Look! FANCY BACON!" He says excitedly plopping on in hsi mouth and chewing happily.

Then the voice speaks and he blinks, turning to look at Mai, as he slowly takes another two to place in his mouth, and lifts a Champagne glass off a second passing waitress. "Why thank you nice lady I do not know." He whispers into his blue tooth, "I have visual confirmation on Human Torch."

The Rabbit's voice comes back into his ear, "Boy. I don't understand your contemporary mumbo jumbo. Is there a perosn on fire here? That could be a sign of trouble! And if it is NOT related, put the poor fellow out. Burns hurt."

Takeo tries to look at his blue tooth. One of these days he's going to have to get Merlin to play a few games on his BS4. Then he looks to Mai and bows his head. "Thank you random and attractive woman I do not know in the slightest. This bacon wrapped ... Food ... thing, is delicious. I hope your evening is going well?" He sips the champagne and makes a face at it. "The hell is this stuff? Some sort of fancy Mt. Dew?"

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

For the first time in a while, Chitose felt stuffy. If only because she was here in the Searrs concert hall, a place with a name Chitose dislikes. Mostly because that name might cause her to do things in the future, things she probably won't want to do. But those things were for later.

EARLIER TODAY, Chitose got called into work early.

"Chitose," Elder Kogoshi, her boss, said, catching her in the hallway and motioning for her to follow. He was smiling very wide. First name plus smiles usually meant he wanted something extra out of her. "Do you like parties?"

She stopped for a moment. "Nnnnnn--" When the man did not stop smiling, Chitose decided to change her answer. "Yyyyesss?" She decided that was the answer he wanted.

"Good!" His smile became a full grin. "There's a party tonight that you'll /absolutely love/."Chitose unlocked the code: 'High-class party that we love but you won't.'

"Great, sir." Said Chitose. "I'm sure Kachiyo and Sachiyo will love it." Also code: 'Please don't make me go, send your daughters instead.'

Code that he of course cracked. "I'm sure, but they're busy tonight."

This is where she stopped walking. "So... I'm going alone?"

All the Kogoshi boss did in reply was smile.


More unceasing smiling.


Chitose stalks her way through the security checkpoints, flashing her invitation. She's dressed a lot more fancier than normal, and in fact traded her fairy tale dress for a fancier white dress, something more glamorous and fancy, like she's seen at movie awards. Of course, either due to her irritation or due to just the fancy atmosphere, she brought the highest heels she has, a full three inches up. And for the first time since she was eight years old, she doesn't have her glasses. She's wearing contacts! But her hair at least was still in her full-body braid, so there's that.

Chitose continues milling her way through the layers of security, babbling in full English. "I swear, he knows I'm not that great at these parties. Why send me here?!"

<Maybe he thinks you'll get things done?> White Omen replies through their telepathy.

"Maybe." Chitose says after a moment.

<What's the plan?>

Once Chitose clears the remaining security grid, she stops and plants herself against a wall. When the girl doesn't reply, White Omen requeries. <Chitose?>

Chitose finally gives an unladylike grunt and shrugs. "I 'unno."

White Omen sighs. <The same plan as usual.>

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

Mai's plan better than Mikoto's, which amounted to 'sneak in and knock out anyone who saw us'.

It totally would have worked, and definitely wouldn't have ended in an all-out brawl.

Mikoto is the image of a black cat with just a hint of white fluffing about her chest - metaphorically, of course. The white vest in the sea of black uniform certainly gives that impression! While Mai and Natsuki serve on the front lines, Mikoto finds herself stationed at the bar, cheerfully mixing drinks even though she has no idea what she's doing. (Behind the bar, in a nondescript case, is Miroku, who she has miraculously smuggled in; no one questions the waitstaff.)

"I'd like some rum on the rocks," says one visitor, and Mikoto scans the labels, snatching up the one labelled 'rum'. She reaches into her pockets, and scoops out some actual rocks, pouring the alcohol over them. "Oh - oh my," gasps the visitor, before positively /guffawing/ behind a hand. "The bartender's a comedian! Oh, Naomi, you've /got/ to see this, you won't /believe/ what just happened!"

Mikoto smiles and tilts her head, because Mai said to respond to everything here with a smile, even confusion or anger. Her patron shakes his head, hand to chest. "Okay, okay, but I really /do/ want some rum on the rocks. Real ice this time, okay?" So Mikoto nods, because /that/ makes sense, and quietly files away that new piece of information. Ice means rocks. She doesn't point out that he should just /say/ ice, because Mai said never to talk back to customers, so she just smiles and pours out the rum on the ice and gives it to him.

Someone please pray for Mikoto Minagi, Not Actually A Bartender.

<Pose Tracker> Michiru Kaioh [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

More challenging apparel Michiru Kaioh may be wearing - but far more important to her was the case she clutched. A violin case that was steely black, and set with locks - a titanium thing worth perhaps more than the cars many people were using to drive here with. For what it held was, to Michiru at least, priceless.

For a gala like this, nothing less than a Stradivarius would do, yes?

And nothing less than her best on her person. Michiru's gown - she wore a light coat against the chill of the evening. And while it was indeed chilly, she did not seem too cold, even in such a thing. She was chill to the touch through her satiny glove as it squeezes around Haruka's hand, but her smile was warm enough.

Like the ocean deep, carrying the chill of a place where no heat had yet reached - as was Michiru, perhaps.

But teal blue fluff at her breastbone showed only the beginnings of her gown. That was held with a lighter blue scarf held across the shoulders, with a vest of black woven in flowers and petals across her girdle, all of this over a teal dress that shown with emeralds - the train of the thing lingering behind her. At the front, forming a skewed arrow, was more of the black filigree that made up the girdle, the skirts of the dress flowing with every step. At her ears, emeralds shown - a silver clasp against the top of her ear held with a chain along the back that holds the gem. Couple that with piercings at her lobes.

The flashbulbs make it glitter. Glitter still at her skull, where silver straps hold her hairbuns - and hairpiece - in place.

A light touch, Haruka asks?

"I think something like this should take a skilled touch," she says, "Ruthless, precise, and fast. Do you know anyone who could boast such a touch?" she asks, her eyes fluttering with mischief. Indeed, they were already displaying such. At least in her mind.

Her hand squeezes around Haruka's arm, where it had settled.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

It was difficult enough to get out of the house while she was grounded, but she'd managed. Enough moping about not being able to attend the party at dinner was enough to get Ikuko's mind off what her daughter was doing in her room. Bundle up enough beneath the covers and it was easy enough to claim she'd been sleeping the night away.

But now they were here, using the outside party as a cover to assess gaps in the security. Well that was what Luna was doing at least. They'd come without a real plan- or so the feline thinks. Pressed up against a brick wall about a block away from the red carpet, the two talked it over, "Maybe you can make it to the roof." "Mmm- maybe." Fishing something out of her pocket, there was a glimmer of light caused the object to gleam pink, catching Luna's attention. The cat almost shrieks from surprise, "You can't actually be thinking of-" "Moon Power - Change me into a Beautiful Princess!" The image of Usagi Tsukino fades from view, upon a backdrop of light. And when she reappears-

-feast your eyes upon Usagi's disguise Luna. Of utmost importance is the gown, a strapless number, of pink hues that seem to accentuate the sweetness of the one wearing it. Roses line the bust, lightly scented enough to leave doubt behind that they could be artificial. A prominent bow rests at the small of the back.

Long white satin gloves grace her arms that don't end until they reach her bicep, in a small bow and a rose each. Dangling star earrings hang from each ear. Each perfect odango now sports a band of red rubies. White heels make certain she'll look the part of the elegant princess. It's not complete though without the pearls around her neck and the parasol of pink and white with tassels upon the end of each spoke- closed within her hands. "Check out this dress!"

Usagi hikes up the skirt in a single hand, and does a single turn to show it off to her feline companion, ending with a wink at her ear, "Isn't it lovely?" Luna has a certain air of skepticism that's not entirely unjustified, "You're not just doing this to enjoy yourself at the gala right?" "Luna- I can't believe you would suggest such a thing!" Usagi looks briefly abstracted. She remembered the sight of a drugged friend weeping into her shoulder, "It's all for the mission."

Usagi insisted, with a faint note of distance as she closed the parasol. It's just if she managed to enjoy herself some along the way- what was the harm? "Real-ly?" The skepticism finally fades into acceptance, "Alright, but be careful Usagi-chan. They already captured you once-" With the strong implication of all the fault resting on her for giving herself up, "Don't worry. It's going to go well."

Usagi tightens up her mid-section and straightens her back, puts her shoulders down to lengthen her neck, tips her chin up just fractionally. The handle of her parasol in one hand while the rest lay across the opposite. She thinks first of an unwanted thumb on her cheek, wiping away her tears- and that inspires her to take the first step. And then another. It didn't matter that her gait in heels was imperfect, she walked like a princess- no, a queen.

Inevitably however, she'd be stopped by the first security checkpoint. "Uh-" He stumbled once upon his words at the sight of her, "-miss? I need to see your invitation-" Without turning her head to even look at him, she interrupts him, stating, "I'll have you know I'm the princess of Ivanovich."

"Iva-Ivanovich?" He starts flipping through the list of all VIPs and personages in attendance. Then leaning to one of his compatriots begins to whisper. Usagi offered, "Is there a problem?" Straightening back up he offers, "No problem. Go right ahead."

She hesitates as she gets to the edge of the red carpet though. Lingering. Her eyes are upon Haruka and Michiru. The sight of the two of them together takes her breath away, but there's more to that hesitation now. She doesn't want to encounter them until she's inside - given the reaction she might get, it might give her away. Once they're well ahead, she starts to walk herself, assaulted by a blitz of camera flashes, the excitement of the crowd for a dignitary they'd never seen . Some of the press are confused, whispering who she is to each other. But it's one bold reporter that leans forward to ask her, "Nana Asahina- Tokyo Reporter - Princess, tell me. Do you have a date for tonight?"

Not used to this sort of life, she hadn't cultivated an indifference to the press; she stops immediately, a satin hand lifting up to hide a giggle, a pink flush of her cheeks, "Oh my- that's such a personal question." That seemed to endear her to the reporters at least, who laugh with her. Straightening up to her previous measure of poise she finally offers- "I'm sure my Prince will come." That sounded a bit sadder than she intended.

Once actually past the gauntlet of paparazzi though, the Princess is within, her gaze sweeping the lobby of the glamorous. She'd wanted to go to a party like this all her life. The awe on her face is undisguised, genuine as she wends her way through the crowd of VIPs, "It's like a beautiful dream-" But then her eyes spy the plate that Mai Tokiha is carrying. They're on the plate, not Mai. "Oh! Don't mind if I do."

A delicate satin glove picks up a prosciutto treat as she walks on by. Her cheeks are puffed up a moment later as she puts the entirety of the hors d'oeuvre in her mouth. She chews far less than she ought to, but it puts a smile on her face, "Delicious!"

Yes, definitely the elegant princess she.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Meioh [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Setsuna Meioh arrived at the grand glass entrance a precise half hour after the soir�e began, gliding along the red carpet and past the gathered photogs with such complete and sincere nonchalance that they, sure she must be someone very important from her bearing alone, snapped away furiously. She surrendered her invitation at the doors with a gracious nod to security, and now she seeks those who invited her. She saw the helicopter alight ahead of her own arrival; she knows they are here.

A floor-sweeping gown all the colors and gradations of a brilliant sunset drapes from Setsuna's shoulders, starting deep red at the straps to brassy orange by her waist and finally a rich golden-yellow at the hem. The cut is simple, the impact all in the way the fabric hangs and the colors sing against the skin of its wearer. Her evergreen hair cascades along with it, with tiny looping braids framing her face. She moves between knots of high society with smooth grace, causing nary a stir as she passes somehow despite the bold figure she cuts, liberating a crystalline champagne glass from a nearby server as she goes.

"Thank you," she murmurs to Natsuki as she lightens the girl's tray.

There, across the dance floor -- Setsuna spies a familiar duo by the backs of their heads, hair the color of a sun-kissed day alongside hair the color of the ocean depths, and moves to meet them. "Michiru, Haruka." Her words of warm greeting reach them just as she does. "The stars themselves shine a bit brighter tonight for our meeting. And I see you have come prepared, as ever." Her red eyes flick to the precious violin case Michiru holds, but she means a bit more than that.

Out of the corner of her eye Setsuna catches a blonde figure bedecked in sugary pink and white, and blinks, distracted -- was that -- Usagi? But how would she... another knot of partygoiers laughs their way between them, and Setsuna shakes her head. Couldn't be. She continues to cover her pause: "How soon do you take the stage?"

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Security? That's not something Shizuru Fujino, needs to concern herself with getting through.

Shizuru Fujinoo, the upcoming scion of the Fujino family walked across the red carpet like she belonged when she came to the party. She smiled and inclined her head at others, the perfect picture of a polite, well-raised young lady set to inherit her father's success. Part of that picture of course is her attire; her light brown hair, naturally, is worn up, pinned in place and decorated with a silk flower, while her attire is very traditional. She is dressed not in Western dress, but in an elaborate, intricately-patterned kimono. On this late Autumn evening Shizuru chose one that is dark, but not black, lined in red and patterned in falling leaves in the many colors of the season, particularly ornate both as status and for all the messages it should send, while her sleeves are quite long. Her feet barely come off the ground, but if one looked, her footwear is just as traditional. And of course she hears questions.

"Father will not be attending," she answered one pleasantly on her way through, nodding to another. "Do you think so?" to another. But she is not a new arrival; she came earlier than most, for reasons other than propriety.

...Not that she's bothered to share any of them, obviously.

No, at the moment she's talking with an older businessman and his wife, business associates of her father, while quietly glancing around the hall to have a look for anything suspicious--or familiar.

"It's unfortunate that your father couldn't attend tonight. There was something I'd been hoping to discuss with him. There's a bill approaching that..."

He'd said that about three times so far, with as many different things he wanted. Shizuru smiles again. The man barely notices, and starts to keep talking, before the woman he's with chimes in, "I'm sure the girl doesn't want to talk about her /father/ all night. Especially not at her age. ...Ah, I was wondering. At your age, I'm surprised your family hasn't announced any marriage plans. You see, when I was eighteen..."

Shizuru keeps smiling while the older couple talks, and dimly hopes that someone /will/ crash the party.

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

Natsuki moves and pauses enough for a tall lady to snag a glass before she moves along. "At least she was polite," Natsuki mutters as she looks for Mai. However, her attention was diverted as she spies Mikoto over...at the bartender station.

"What the...what gum for brains idiot put Mikoto in charge of drinks?" She gave a sigh. "Wonder if Mai knows? Maybe one of us should switch with her-"

A nearby voice catches her attention, and she glances over. She wasn't entirely surprised to see Shizuru here, this was the kind of party her parents would ask her to attend. Her eyes narrowed as she spied the elderly couple chatting with them. Shizuru was being her normal smiling self, but Natsuki's gut was insisting she was probably getting tired of the conversation.

Straightening her posture, Natsuki held the drinks up and smoothly walked over. "Excuse me, Fujino-san, but there's an urgent phone call for you," Natsuki announced and ignored any glares she was given. "Shall I escort you to the back to the the phone call?" She gave Shizuru a smile, hoping her friend would understand what she was trying to do.

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

A woman less polite than Fuu might very well begin unleashing vast quantities of snark upon poor Takeo at this point in the conversation; however, Fuu being Fuu, she simply smiles as pleasantly as possible, spares a wave back to the red-haired security guard (who looks vaguely familiar, to be sure, but the enchantment seems to keep *her* from recognizing Hikaru off the top of her head), and nods in agreement. "Yes, it is a very nice party indeed, as most galas tend to be."

That is to say, those galas which don't get invaded by the forces of darkness and turn into a desperate battleground to prevent the destruction of Tokyo, from the upper crust on down.

Fuu avails herself of an offered canape from Mai's tray as well, nodding politely and offering a sotto voce 'Thank you' to the red-haired waitress; if Fuu recognizes Mai (which she probably does), she doesn't draw attention to that fact. The fact that somebody is arriving *by helicopter* certainly provides a convenient enough distraction from being recognized or not being recognized; that's the means of arrival for somebody who clearly either doesn't care how much attention they're drawing, but absolutely relishes being at the center of it.

And there are plenty of people here to be noticed, certainly more important than one middle-school girl who should probably be studying for exams instead of mingling with the creme de la creme of Tokyo - and beyond, Fuu mentally amends, as an unknown princess passes by to claim a canape for her own.

Her attention cycles back from the princess to Takeo, and Fuu leans in a little to stage-whisper to him, "That's probably champagne. You might want to request something like ginger ale for your second drink." She looks around -

And *does* recognize one of the bartenders. For the time being, though, Fuu simply files away another face recognized. "Definitely quite the gathering ... I hope the security is as efficient as it looks like." She sips decorously from her glass, glad that she went with contact lenses for tonight instead of her usual glasses.

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

Somewhere amidst the crowd, there's a Princess Totally Not Usagi spotted. That dress. That parasol. So /cute/! Kasagami gives a discrete arm-punch to the businessman she had been chatting up.

"Sorry old friend, adorable calls. Call me some time, I want to see that adorable kid of yours again." A wink, and she's off.

And after downing her drink, she's off on a b-line towards Usagi. Checking herself out in a convenient mirror, she straightens her hair, and then the shadow that is Kasagami Araki falls.

And she's devouring that party treat. Yup, she likes this one. "Man, they sure do put a lot of attention on the food, huh? Guess it must be because of all the knives hidden behind everyone's backs or the egos in the room. So much hot air." Yoink. She snatches a treat from the nearby table and devours it in vaguely snake-like fashion. The 'Princess' is getting a hand offered. Gotta /look/ proper here.

"Kasagami Araki, former Diet member's daughter. Also Student Council member at Ohtori. I'm honored to meet you, Miss...?" Her smile is winning!

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Shizuru is, however, surprised to see /Natsuki/ here. When her friend approaches, the older young woman is /still/ smiling through the conversation and wishing for more elaborate ways for things to fall down around her in hopes of finding a polite way out. Which of course is when...

Well, when Natsuki arrives.

"Ah, is there?" Shizuru asks, seeing that smile on her friend's part after what she says. Shizuru turns to the others and bows, "My deepest apologies. Do enjoy the party." She steps back, and then begins to walk away with Natsuki. Only when they're a little farther out does she let out a small sigh, and turn her head to the side to smile back at Natsuki. "My heroine," she declares. "I wasn't expecting you here, but I'm happy to see you." Beat, "Did you really want to go all the way to the back?"

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

Instinct nearly - nearly takes over. As a maniacal teenage boy starts pigging out on the canape tray she holds, Mai nearly does what she would have done as a Linden Baum waitress: loudly tell him off for poor manners. Nearly -

But her own advice to Mikoto rings in her ears. No matter what, the waitstaff here are being paid to serve food and drinks and otherwise be as unobtrusive as possible. She tries to be as subtle as she can about it, gently moving the tray away from those hungry hands - and then Akamizu recognizes her. Wonderful. ...and she has a nickname. Even better. Her nostrils flare as she inhales deeply - because seriously. She'd put a lot of effort into this - into blending into the high society hooplah, and then there's...this.

"Seared scallops in prosciutto, sir." It's not the cheery ambivalence of most waitstaff - that last syllable had a teasing edge to it. "If you would wait, I believe the chef is preparing a bacon-wrapped salmon confit flamme you might enjoy, and-" She closes her eyes with a wince. Even Mai Tokiha can at least recognize champagne.

And then, a passing princess snatches another scallop off the tray, and Mai remembers what tonight's role is meant to be. She turns away from Takeo's less-than-graceful actions, sparing Fuu a grateful nod and a smile as she does so. "Would you like anoth-"

Wait. That princess. It can't be. Surely no one Mai Tokiha knows would be so brazen as to storm in here acting like a princ- oh who is Mai kidding here, she's perfectly ready to believe this. There's just a slight pain in Mai's voice as she completes the polite offer. "...another scallop, your majesty?"

There aren't that many left on the platter, if she's honest - and as the princess seems to have an incoming royal-seeming figure in a ridiculous dress, perhaps she should leave well enough alone. Another slight curtsy, for both her and Takeo/Fuu, and Mai turns her attention to the kitchen. In her heart, part of her really wants to see those chefs in action...but she needs to be out on the floor.

All these high-society types - where can this Searrs guy be? And are her friends faring any better?...Well, Kuga seems fine, albeit already caught up with a member of the Ohtori council, and Mikoto...is rapidly becoming a successful bartender. Surely, her roommate with so many secrets must have been hiding another skill here, and needs no help or prayers. ...well, maybe she'll pray anyway.

<Pose Tracker> Haruka Tenoh [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Haruka follows Setsuna's gaze, but not quite to where it was going, and he doesn't make much of the glance. Despite Haruka's practiced langour, he too is feeling a little on edge.

"Setsuna-san," Haruka greets. "Maybe a little. I wanted to fly tonight. The helicopter will be convenient when this is all over, too. You know." He stretches his shoulders with a rolling motion, clicks his lips. "Beat the rush."

Haruka lets his eyes trace over the crowd, marking locations of security, checking faces, friendly or otherwise. Shizuru Fujino, he sees. One of his own sponsors; better put in some face time there if it's convenient. And the bar. "I'll be right back." He leans in and presses a kiss into Michiru's cheek briefly. "I'll keep my eyes open," he assures.

Loping up to the bar, he's holding to his promise as he preemptively skims a few bills across the counter with his thumb; he doesn't look at Mikoto at first. "Creme de cassis cocktail; surprise her, I trust you. Oh, and a Manhattan, nihonshu. Up." Finally his eyes wander down to Mikoto's face, and she has the privilege of seeing him lose some of his vaunted composure in a moment of confusion.

"You're the bartender... right?" he ventures.

<Pose Tracker> Michiru Kaioh [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

That priceless treasure in one hand, Michiru lingers alongside Haruka - but it would be a sin for her eyes to not be drawn to the maiden wearing the colors of the dying sun. A tug on Haruka's arm, to guide her that way - only separating when she draws near to the other as she lifts her arms to offer a one-armed hug to her friend. "Setsuna Meioh - it is a delight that you could come," she says, whether or not her hug was accepted. "Immenently - I am to begin heading backstage as soon as I arrive. Or so they gently asked," she says, her eyebrows lifting in mischief.

"But music, like wine, tastes sweeter when the audience is left to wait a moment, no?" she says, her eyes glittering with mirth. "Have you come likewise to look upon the Key? Such a thing - a treasure..." she lifts her violin case, briefly. "To serenade a treasure with," she adds, her eyes. Spying, well...

Something that looks remarkably like Fuu in the crowd. And was that Usagi?

The smile dancing at the edges of Michiru's lips might show the answer, at least in her eyes.

What draws her away is the kiss at her cheek, her attention stolen back to the wind over her waves. Her eyes flicker across Haruka's features. "Creme de cassis, please," she tells her - prompting her attention to steal after Haruka as she flickers away. "I think that he..." Referring to Haruka. "...to run, to fly, to drive - like a bird, her element is danger, adreneline, and speed... perhaps. And to see her in such mindsets is a gift. Our flight over was a joy - however was your travels here?" asks she of the hidden guardian of time.

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

Natsuki is relieved to see Shizuru take the hint and choose to leave with her. "You look like you needed a rescue," she said a smirk. "If it's one thing I'm good at, it's sneaking people in and out of places." She gave a shrug. "Naw, only if you really needed to hide for a bit. I just said that for an excuse."

She gave a frown. She would prefer to keeping Shizuru out of her spying business, but she probably had a better idea of the people. "I'm looking for Adams Sears, but I haven't seen the guy around at all. Isn't the point of this whole party just for him?"

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

"I can see it from here boy, if you ever thought you were gonna get a kiss form THAT one, your table manners removed that possibility." Merlin's voice comes through the blue tooth. "No. He really just pigged out right in front of her. Terrible right? I know. No class. Has he ever baked that cake yet?" All the rest said clearly to Azyana, which of course Takeo can't hear the replies.

Instead Takeo blinks and turns a furious beat red. "What does cake have to do with this?!" He asks quietly and angrilly into the blue tooth. "We need to focus here! We're on a secret mission!" The last said in a harsh whisper. He finally rightens hismelf and blinsk when Mai is gone, and sips the Champagne once more. "Oh my god. This stuff is terrible. How do rich people survive with Mt. Dew that tastes like this? It has to affect their sales..."

With a sigh, he moves, reluctanly, away from the food table, and begins to scna the area again. Trying once more to do his job, and hopefully help out against whatever wierdness is going on. He finds his way to the bar, and jsut stops when he sees Mikoto. "Oh man." He says softly. That can't be healthy. For anybody. He moves to the bar and sets his champagne flute down and looks at Mikoto. "Gimmie a Mountain Dew. Shaken. Not stirred." He snaps fingers and points one to Mikoto, giving her a wink.

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

The sounds of a helicopter even echo back here at the bar, and Mikoto looks in that direction briefly before being distracted by a youthful patron. "Midori with lemonade, please!" Midori, predictably, ends up being the syrupy green drink, and Mikoto definitely knows lemonade, so that order ends up being easy to mix. There's even a specific canister for mixing things! Truly, Mikoto looks like the very /image/ of a proper bartender.

There's time enough for her eyes to roam and see some of the amazing sights - a /princess/, Shizuru in a beautiful dark dress, and someone in a gown with all the colours of autumn. The break doesn't last long, as a stunning young man approaches and slides over some money and... says words with his mouth which definitely probably mean something in some language. Mikoto's smile grows strained as she realises she /doesn't know what any of those words mean/. She thinks a Manehattan might be a city, or was that just in a cartoon??? But The Customer Is Always Right, so Mikoto nods and thinks fast:

She's pretty sure a 'creme' is a fancy foreign word for cream.

She's pretty sure a cocktail has food in it.

And she can definitely do sake.

Somewhere in there, he asks if she's the bartender, and Mikoto nods, sounding perhaps a little more nervous than she should. "Y...yup!"

Going with her initial assumptions, Mikoto fetches something on the shelf called 'Irish Cream', and some actual cream from the fridge, and mixes it together. She gets a little cocktail umbrella and puts an olive in it (because you put olives in drinks!) and puts it on the bench, before she gets to work pouring a glass of sake and panicking briefly because /how do you make sake into a city which might just be a cartoon/. Eventually she decides on putting /three/ umbrellas in it. There. That's a Manehattan.

And then Takeo comes up, and Mikoto brightens because /thank god he doesn't want a mystery combination/. "Okay!" She chirps, fetching a bottle of Mountain Dew from the display fridge and shaking it vigorously before handing it over.

Someone please, please pray for Mikoto Minagi.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Meioh [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Smiling, Setsuna admires her two friends and the dashing figures they present, and she clasps Michiru in return, side-to-side. "Your arrival suited you. Maybe I will join you, next time, above the bustle." She turns to Michiru after Haruka departs, sipping her champagne, and her nose wrinkles at the bubbles. The inelegant expression dispels some of Setsuna's inherent solemnity for a moment.

"I do have a professional interest in keys. This was not to be missed, even if there was not your music to look forward to."

She shifts her weight from one leg to the other, the usual stillness of her demeanor giving way to the same unease that plagues Haruka. "The walk was pleasant, cool and clear, but..." A line appears between her eyebrows. "Many of the clocks I passed, on the way, were out of sync."

It troubles her, and that shows before being covered by smooth calm. "The night is young, as they say. And I cannot wait to hear you play, truly. No matter how long it has been, it has always been too long since the last time."

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

"Ah, well." Shizuru's reaction as as mild as ever, a small shrug. ...Though frankly, she'd almost rather stay back there. "You're right, I did. I appreciate it, though I'll have to get back out there eventually. They'll notice if I disappear." A pause, "But yes, you do seem to be good at that."

After all, Natsuki is /here/, and she's not the only one. Shizuru has glanced at the bar more than once during her talks with important people, and she is on the lookout.

The frown catches Shizuru's attention--though her expression stays just the same as it was at the question. Something she'd wondered about might be answered. "...A party like this is done for its own sake as much as for the reason given. Four people so far have asked me to remember them to my father. The man himself..." Shizuru shakes her head, "I haven't seen him."

It's not a lie so much as a matter of omission. She doesn't want to involve Natsuki if she can help it in what may come here tonight.

"Is there something I should be concerned with?"

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

Meanwhile, for the time being, Hikaru is simply doing her job as a security guard... at least as best as she can. The more she walks around, the more the tuxedo seems to be more uncomfortable. In reality, she's looking for those she might recognize and occasionally eavesdropping on them in order to pick up more information while she's in uniform. She does listen intently to Fuu-chan especially, but for the most part seems to simply look like she's getting on with her patrol.

"When does this thing start, I wonder?" Hikaru silently thinks. "We can't stay out here forever... unless..." She frowns, then shakes her head. "I'm just overworrying I think."

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

Then Hikaru smiles a little. "Wait a minute, if Fuu-chan can do something like she did," She thinks to herself, remembering the 'disguise' that Fuu put on after getting in here, "Then why can't I?" She grins to herself as she excuses herself from the area before finding a hidden place to change out of her tuxedo and cap and then, with some magical effort like Fuu-chan did, emerges with her hair done up nicely, and wearing a red gown with a matching feather boa on her shoulders. Her lips have light lipstick on them and her eyes have slightly purplish shade to them. "Wait till Fuu-chan gets a load of THIS!" Hikaru thinks to herself with a smirk as she attempts to locate her friend, and the others she might recognize too.

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

Merlin's adorable bunny eyes go wide with absolute terror as he WATCHES Mikoto shake the elegant Mt. Dew bottle. He may not be hip on lingo, but he has witnessed the effects of carbonated drinks when slightly shaken. One of the side effects of hanging around teenagers. "Lancelot. Do - "

The boy, starting to get flustered as he takes the drinks whispers harshly. "Don't what? Enjoy myself? You make sure of that on a regular basis cotton-tail."

There is a pause. "You know what? Enjoy your soda boy." Then there is a maniacal yet adorable laugh from the blue tooth that has Takeo trying once again to look at his ear. With a shrug, Takeo Akamizu, High School 2nd Year begins to twist the top on the shaken, not stirred Mt. Dew.

The reslutant explosion of soda is loud. There is a POP and a long series of fiz, and the spray completely hide's Takeo's face from view for a brief moment. When it fizzles out, resulkting in jsut a simple foamy bit that splutters out the end of the bottle Takeo says very calmly into the blue tooth. "I hate you rabbit." Then holds out his hand toward Mikoto. "May I have a towel please?"

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

Natsuki sighs and gave an understanding nod. "Yeah, okay, flaunting money around with barely an excuse is something rich people would do." Too bad it just makes it harder for Natsuki to get the information she wanted. It was then Shizuru asked a question Natsuki would greatly prefer to not answer. "Oh, ah...no reason."

She gave a forced laugh. "Just curious, you know of which guy I should blame for causing this huge mess in the first place is all."

She hopes Shizuru buys that and doesn't ask anymore questions.

<Pose Tracker> Haruka Tenoh [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Haruka rests a slick leather dress shoe atop the foot-stand below the bar, and an elbow on the counter. Looking down the glossy surface of the bar, past the chatting patrons, he watches Shizuru and Natsuki speaking together. He doesn't want Student Council keeping too close an eye on Outer business tonight, but there isn't much for it, so he may as well keep an eye on them as well.

"Thanks," he says distractedly, and sweeps up the two drinks thoughtlessly, leaving the slowly uncrumpling, folded bills behind.

How Haruka even intuits which one is which is not obvious, but somehow he hands Michiru her creme de cassis--actually a thick milkshake of Bailey's, real cream, and a murky drowned olive.

"Student Council's decided to attend," he observes lightly. "Perhaps they'll enjoy our performance as well, I think it's about time."

Haruka tries to take a sip from his "Manehattan," but his chin bumps into a solid wall of party umbrellas. Raising an eyebrow, he fishes between them with a finger until he can see the acual drink. Blanching, a sweatdrop on /both/ temples, he takes a careful sip, wincing as it passes his lips. He opens one of his nervously pinched eyes.

"...sake?" he wonders. Then he realizes. "A-ah! Michiru, that drink might be..."

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

This seems like as good a time as any to blend back into the crowd, and Fuu starts to do exactly that as Takeo goes and orders a Mountain Dew, by way of a page from those old British spy novels.

Not that she has particular objections to watching Mikoto play bartender, but she has better things to do than watch Takeo get humiliated in front of a swath of the richest percent of Tokyo and beyond. And presumably, Takeo himself would prefer not to have people who *know* him gawking (or worse, laughing) in his moment of embarassment.

"Is bacon boy always like that?" Ferio asides to Fuu as they link back up, Fuu's hand slipping into the crook of her companion's elbow as she shakes her head a bit.

"I'm not sure," she replies, sotto voce as before. "I don't see him that frequently - he's not an Infinity student."

Ferio just looks back in Takeo's direction - then tugs Fuu off-course, angling back towards the princess whom Fuu failed to introduce herself to earlier. "An Infinity student would've known better," Ferio snarks quietly. "Now c'mon, we'll look suspicious if we *don't* make more conversation with strangers."

Fuu can't really argue that point, as her green-haired companion leads her towards the (maybe Russian?) princess ... and Fuu spots Hikaru, now dressed for the party, with just enough time to flick her hand in a wave to the redhead before entering social-engagement range with the Princess of Ivanovich, or wherever she's from.

"Good evening," Ferio greets her with a gallant bow; Fuu curtseys rather than bowing, but says little as of yet.

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

As a waitress, Mai may as well be a ghost. An empty tray is spirited into the kitchen, and a full one brought out - this time with nearly hilarious variety in amuse-bouche. Perhaps her eyes are sparkling just a little more, but she swiftly returns to the fray.

Passing conversations receive but a moment's interruption - with a hidden glare reserved for a few choice comments she overhears - but overall, Mai is left to just take in the spectacle of it all. Still no sign of the missing host of the party, but there is fantastic elegance on display in every corner.

She spares a moment to check on Natsuki...heading to the back of the hall with the council vice-president, huh? That'll be something to ask about later. But in spite of her earlier confidence, she's just a little concerned about Mikoto, and goes to spirit these snacks to patrons of the bar. She arrives at a fortuitous time - just in earshot when Takeo places that fateful order.

"...he cannot possibly be that stupid." A nearby hospital director looks up from his champagne glass in confusion; Mai is left scrambling to give a polite smile, a shake of her head. While holding out the tray for the man to make his selection, she glances back to the bar. From here, she can -see- how Mikoto is preparing that drink, and the future is clear. She could warn him. She really should.

But instead she stands back and watches the disaster happen, from afar. If Mikoto can spy Mai, she'll see a smiling fiery-haired girl giving her a quick thumbs-up - and then back to work.

Perhaps the Princess of Ivanovich and her company would appreciate a few snacks, for a few moments? This would have been easier if she'd tracked down a picture of this party's host in advance...

<Pose Tracker> Michiru Kaioh [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"I would recommend it, as such. Have Haruka fly you - I do not wish to volunteer her services without her here, but I would suspect it would only take mild interest in such a thing to have her offer," says Michiru towards Setsuna. There may yet be some sparkle in her eye at the break of the solemnity. Doubly so at her professional interest statement.

"They do not tell time, the way that time is. They lie, while holding themselves as paragons of truth - of that eternal, primordial essence of reality: that right now is not a few moments ago, and each breath exists in a different space than the last," she states. A beat, and a smile touches her lips. "I share in your annoyance, in some things," she says, her voice drawing low. "There was a perfume called ocean breeze at the store the other day. It was nothing like the actual thing," she says, that shared whisper drawing a bit of mirth from her tone.

"I only hope that the pleasure of the playing is worth your waiting," she says, distractedly taking the drink from Haruka. The warning comes too late, she takes a sip.

The creme and the olive were unpleasant together. "...this... tastes like something... that isn't what I said," she says, offering the drink back towards Haruka, with a curious cant of her head. "I appreciate you bringing it, but..." her expression milds from the revulsion she experienced - something soft appearing around her eyes. "That's what you were warning me about, wasn't it?" she says.

"But speaking of time - I think we may have been keeping them long enough, Haruka," she says.

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

Golden. That's the first and last impression of the stunning, open space that comprises the Symphony Hall proper. It is golden like a fountain of wealth, golden like the sun at noon, golden like the perfect tone wrung from the ultimate violin. And, filled as it is with the creme de la creme of the planet, drawn from every arena, from business to politics to athletes to entertainment, it has never been more gloriously gilded than it is today.

There are three ways gain entry. The simplest is to pass through two sets of heavy, soundproofed, gorgeous doors, which create between them a silent antechamber to buffer noise between the lobby and the concert hall. This is also where, normally, coats and drinks are collected, but apparently one of the privileges of social status is the ability to bring whatever you want with you, wherever you go. Plenty of heavy, ostentatious fur coats and sparkling purses can be seen throughout the space.

The next is to come in from the top -- there's a roof access, but also a spectacular set of spiraling stairs that can be climbed from the lobby, and which provide access to the upper levels. These are filled with veiled box seats, and each and every one has a pair of serious-looking security guards at its entrance. They are not credulous or gullible or otherwise susceptible to trickery, perhaps because their instructions are exceedingly simple: admit no one. Despite this, however, there are lots of shadowy vantage points along the balconies, not to mention a few rows of open seating directly facing the stage.

Finally, one can come in from the bottom, which is to say, up from the basement. The lobby's path to the basement is extremely difficult to navigate, with numerous checkpoints and locked doors, but it is fairly straightforward to access through the parking garage. There are a series of tight and rather utilitarian corridors, which exit to stairwells into both the orchestra pit and the main floor.

There isn't a full orchestra playing tonight, however, just a five-piece band (trumpet, saxophone, guitar, violin and drums), and the pit has been rearranged as a dance floor -- quite unlike the one in the lobby, this one is being rather exclusively used for dancing of a more ancient and sophisticated kind. The sensitive air of the concert hall is filled with a soft, underlying sussurance of hushed discussion -- this /is/ a party, even in here, not a proper audience. There are even some waitstaff circulating with drinks and hors d'oeuvres, though more often they're collecting empty plates brought in from the lobby, and refilling empty glasses. On the whole, however, it is far quieter, and far more refined. It's only getting moreso as the rows begin to pack with guests; the lobby has received its warning chime and flicker, as the main event will be starting soon.

True to form, the final performance before the ceremonies start is someone world-class, gracing the top of the ticket with a performance that, even in such esteemed company, could never be bought, only given as a favor -- that of the famous violinist, Michiru Kaioh.

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

"It's our primary pastime," Shizuru answers the matter of flaunting money around. But, if anyone understands her sort of understated humor, it might be Natsuki.

...But Shizuru isn't exactly in the mood for joking about that answer. She wasn't sure what to expect in terms of an answer. But...

"Ahh," Shizuru answers, and smiles back. "Let me know if you find out. I might like to blame him, too." That much is at least /more/ true.

She starts to say something else, but there's the warning chime and the flicker of the lights. "Ah. It seems that I need to go." There's a hint of reluctance in her voice that isn't really for the reason Shizuru would give, if she were asked, that would be easy to assume. "...Be careful," she cautions, and takes one of the drinks from Natsuki's tray as she walks towards the Hall.

By the time she's made it into the Hall proper, walking amidst elegance and expense as part of it rather than a visitor, Shizuru's sparkling crystal glass is empty.

<Pose Tracker> Michiru Kaioh [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZTeavJ9frA

And upon those entering the concert hall - they would be greeted by an old sound, mixed with one newer. The Stradivarius, made back in 1715 in a far off foreign land, would be singing to them. The sound of the strings, mingled with that of the piano, would hearken to that, in Michiru's mind, of springtime, and flowers - of hope without the knowledge of the despair that was born of it - of the rising heartbeat of seeing a lover again.

She preferred more maudlin music, herself. But this would do for now.

For now - her voice remained quiet - the flicker of the eyes that she gave the man at the piano as he finished his set joined with that ancient song of her strings. Adding twisting grace to the melody he provides by the piano. Adding height, song, and twisting prose to the music that lingers through the hall.

Michiru closes her eyes - she doesn't sway, doesn't dance - but every motion was given to the song, and the feeling, it entailed. Each draw of the bow across the strings done as perfectly and delicately as an old priest who lived for the Church performing the sacraments. For in this moment, her actions were as sacred as his might be.

In this moment, she lives for the music she plays. She was that music.

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

Quickly moving to join Fuu-chan, Hikaru moves to curtsey as well, but doesn't say anything as well. She's a bit on the nervous side at the moment and doesn't want to risk making a faux pas for the time being. She just clasps her hands in a ladylike manner and smiles as best as seh can.

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

Natsuki watches silently as Shizuru takes a glass and walks away. A part of her wants to know what exactly she has to be 'careful' about, but has to put it aside as the crowd moves into the next room.

somehow, Natsuki weaves her way through the crowd without getting her foot stepped on and spies a familiar hair of red. "There she is," she whispered.

Natsuki makes certain to make her presence known so she wouldn't startle her friend. "Hey, Tokiha," she greets as she pats Mai's shoulder. "No luck on finding the guy yet?"

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

Unfortunately, the one drink Mikoto gets right, she gets horribly, /horribly/ wrong. The soda bottle pops, and Takeo disappears, and Mikoto yelps in alarm. "Sorry!!" Because Mai had also said to apologise if anything went wrong, no matter whose fault it is (and it was /definitely/ Takeo's fault for ordering a shaken soda). She scurries to get a towel and hand it over, and happens to glance past him to see Mai giving her a thumbs-up.

Mikoto visibly relaxes, because if Mai thinks she's still doing okay, she must still be doing okay. Mai is the undisputed mistress of all jobs, after all!! "You okay--?" She asks Takeo, stopping just before mentioning his name, because they're Under Cover and she's not supposed to know him.

Luckily, she doesn't spy the results of her creative drink mixes. Surely it would crush her to know just how rejected her guesses were.

As the guests file into the concert hall, the waitstaff gears up to serve them in this new place. This is, luckily, an easier task for Mikoto - she balances champagne and glasses on a plate with surprising ease, and proceeds to go and deliver drinks to the tables. She even gets away with it until someone asks her for something called a 'fireball.'

This is, logically, a drink which is on fire.

Mikoto disappears to the bar, and re-emerges with a glass which holds alcohol lit aflame.

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

"I'm fine. I'm sure this is my fault somehow." He says and gives Mikoto a grin. Then, once he cleans his face off, which is MOST of the affected area, and all to the manical laughter of an adorable rabbit, Takeo makes his way to the main room. He does not order a second drink, but does, somehow end up with one last delicious bacon wrapped pastry before entering the room. He deposits that in it's proper location, his mouth, and moves through the double doors.

Once there, Takeo has to stand for a moment in awe at this place. He may go to Ohtori, but he is NOT from money, so the sight of this place is enough to stun him for just a moment. He scnas the room, taking it in, and actually taking a moment to appreciate the architecture of the place. It almost reminds him of the Palace held by the Carlengian Emperor in -

Takeo pinched the bridg eof his nose. "Not. Me. I am Takeo Akamizu." He whispers harshly to himself trying to dismiss the memory of a long dead man, but he mostly fails. The sights and sounds line up, and the boy more or less jsut has to grin and bear it.

He spies Mai and moves near her. He doesn't say anything, but he feels the memory ease just the same, which is just enough for him frankly. He watches as Natsuki comes over and gives Mai a pat on the shoulder and he says toward her, and quietly. "Heya Kuga." And gives her a wink.

There is a pause as he regards his fellow classmate. "Um. Got anything good on your tray?"

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

"I'd love another!" She's already reaching, but that's when she finally sees that it's Mai. She doesn't look confused for too long. If anything her expression grows momentarily grave, as she nods respectfully. She wants nothing more than to chat with her but- "Thank you very much for your service. You're a credit to your profession and your country."

Delicately the scallop is picked up. Into her mouth it goes with added solemnity, as if eating it like this was a gesture of respect for some veteran of this battlefield.

Turning around, she catches sight of Kasagami addressing her directly. Her expression freezes for a moment. That hitch. It's pretty obvious. But then she smiles, "Anastasia-"

Her mind grasps for something from Ami's tutoring on history class. It all muddles together with popular culture and- "-Wimbledon. Crown Princess of Ivanovich." She takes the hand though, gives it a firm shake. Her smile becomes so amicable, but nervous too. "It's a real pleasure- no a distinct honor- to meet you Araki-san-Ah- is it hot in here? I think I could use something to drink." She's still looking at Kasagami, but tips her chin in the direction of the bar, and then with the same gloved finger points to the bar. "I t-think I'm going to go get one."

Wow she divested herself of that situation quickly, didn't she? A satin glove is held to her forehead, as she walks away from the bar, glancing over her shoulder. It's fortunate that the flicker chime gives her direction- let's her move closer that music, that beautiful music. That all too familiar violin music. She closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, and allows herself to relax to that sublime melody.

<Pose Tracker> Haruka Tenoh [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

And behind Michiru, a bench, a glossy grand. Haruka Tenoh has not the genius of the piano that Michiru has for the violin, but his technique is impeccable, easily-won; some talents are a smooth pathway within. He feels his way across the keys and presses force into them, filling in the hollows of the song, chasing its soaring, the way a bird ceases to flap its wings and just curves itself into the sky.

He rarely has his eyes open. He always has his lips curved, distantly, like one asleep. The rippling tension in his broad shoulders marks moments of drama. At some moments, he lifts his hands from the keyboard entirely and just allows the song to happen, allows Michiru to paint herself into the air. He cherishes this, the synthesis, the cooperation. But it isn't quite like combat is; there they are equals. Here, Haruka is largely here to watch. A black-garbed stagehand lifting a ballerina into the air. Yes, he likes playing with Michiru.

But really, sometimes Haruka Tenoh thinks that the only reason she keeps in practice is so that when Michiru plays, she will have the best seat in the house.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Meioh [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

"You speak to the hidden truth of the thing, as you always do, my friend." She's chuckling with the words, her voice low and amused.

Red eyes widen slightly as Setsuna sees the number of umbrellas in the returned Haruka's drink; they look a bit... garish, but it doesn't seem like her place to question her friend's taste. It's not until that telling sip that realization dawns on Setsuna as well, and she looks quickly to Michiru, also not quite in time.

Setsuna hides her reaction in another quick (and grateful) sip of champagne and a polite cough.

"Ah -- it is time."

She inclines her head to Michiru and Haruka, the braids whispering with the motion. "I should get a good vantage." A smile of parting later and up the spiraling steps goes Setsuna Meioh. She seeks a dark hollow between box seats, selecting its placement for acoustics as much as privacy. In the shadows she might as well be dressed in a flame.

From that hidden alcove she takes in the performance of Michiru Kaioh and Haruka Tenoh, allowing it to convey her from autumn to spring. An accomplished traveler of time, she still marvels at this method of transport and its singular beauty, and admires the consummate skill and art of her companions.

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

One hand rises as the 'Princess of Ivanovich' goes rushing off towards the bar, then music as people are off. Kasagami's mouth is open wide in pure shock, then dismay.

"P...pleasure...to meet you...Princess." She saw that hitch, the running, the easy fleeing. Kassie's face burns, and she /assumes/. One hand covers the right side of her face as she watches the Princess go.

"Yeah. Hot." She mutters. Suddenly there's despair in her voice.

She turns to Totally-Not-Mai-Servingchan.

"I will take the entire plate, please." Yoink! Then Kassie devours everything on it at once in an impressive display of gluttony. /Nom/! It's a little like a shark crunching prey.

"Excuse me, Serving Lady-chan. I need a drink." A hand on Mai, in sympathy for the working class, and she passes by Mido's bar. Yoink! She steals an entire bottle of Cristal.

"Good work, bartender-chan." Thumbs up.

She too is making her way to the dance floor, already enjoying the music. Truly, Michiru is a genius, and Haruka's own skill is enrapturing. Suddenly, Shizuru will find a fellow Council Member right beside her, chugging shamelessly with a mixture of depression and enjoyment of music on her face.

"Hey. VP." A respectful nod to her 'better'. Still casual, but at least it's not a first name. She actually bothers to try with fellow Council. Well, unless you're Saionjii. "Am I really that ugly? That's /two/ girls that ran off on me. Do you think personality can overcome physical flaws?" She asks, rather honestly.

Pause. "That's...Michiru Kaioh, right? Wish I was that talented. The pianist is a hit too." She adds conversationally.

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

The lights flicker, which is a sign to all present. For the guests, it's a shifting of locale, so that they might enjoy the remainder of the festivities. For Mai and her fellow waitstaff, it's a shifting of duties; they were instructed on what roles were to be filled during each phase, and rough timing. To the nearest guests, she offers a curtsy and some direction. "If you would make your way to the main hall, there will be a- oh good, they stopped listening, I really did not want to have to bluff that." With high society guests evacuating the room, she lets out a sigh of relief. Exactly what comes next wasn't made clear...but she has a role. Cleaning up discarded glasses, filling the odd refill request.

In the wake of Hurricane Kassie, there aren't many canapes to return to the kitchen. "Well - do enjoy yourself tonight- okay, is it the job? I'm beginning to wonder if the disciplinary chair does something to whoever's sitting in it..." She watches Kasagami whisk away, and goes to return what appetizers remain. Mai can't suppress the twitch at the waste as the remainder are unceremoniously dumped, but...no complaints to be made here. Later, in private, is another story...but in the end she accepts a new silver-and-gold tray, a bottle of champagne that probably cost more than a week's groceries, and a stack of napkins.

Even professionalism can't stifle the awe she feels at the sight of the main hall; it is golden, it is glorious, it is richness in full splendour. Exactly what segment of society warrants this kind of extravagance is frankly an open question, but she gets to have a quiet moment to take it in. The guests are still seating themselves, there aren't too many glasses to collect or refill, and she'll be busy enough soon...The mysterious Princess of Ivanovich gets a smile, and a brief wave.

Kuga approaches, and Mai smiles in answer. She cringes, just a bit, at the light touch. "Sorry, my arm's a bit sore...and nope, it's been a wash. Just high society and poor table manners - I'm guessing you haven't had much more luck."

There's another approach of a Takeo, and...honestly? Most guests are being seated. The mask can drop a bit, and does to reveal a smirk. "Speaking of poor table manners - evening. Sorry, I've been moved to cleanup duty - a bit too late to help you, I'm afraid. I think they're shifting focus to drinks at this point - just as a tip, don't ask Mikoto for anything you don't literally want. I learned that lesson a long..."

She trails off. Horror fills her eyes as she looks past Takeo, looks past Natsuki, looks to the aisle where Mikoto is carefully transporting a glass that is actually -on fire-. "But apparently not well enough - excuse me!" Black and white move like ghosts in the night, Mai neatly sprinting past champagne-drinking guests as gorgeous violin music picks up in tempo. Any requests made in her wake fall on deaf ears, as she rushes to catch up to Mikoto - swiftly stifling those flames with a napkin-wrapped hand. Cut the air away, and the fire shall burn no more...

She cringes. Doing it this way hurts from the heat - but the light fades to nothing, and Mai pulls away her hand with a wince she can't hide from her usual companion. "...Mikoto? New rule, for tonight. If a guest asks for something fiery...please, just politely tell them no. The customer isn't always right..."

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

Fuu can hardly argue as the Princess Anastasia breaks away for a drink; high society mingling does tend to parch one's throat after a while. However, Fuu is acquainted with the cues that signal the incipient beginning of a performance, and as the chimes sound and the lights flicker, Fuu tugs gently on Ferio's arm - just in case he *doesn't* know what that means - and the two of them bend their steps smoothly into the concert hall proper.

Which is the point where Fuu realizes, by virtue of not having actual invitations or tickets, they don't necessarily have designated *seats*. That could get awkward .... or worse. Still, the concert hall is full enough that a few people standing around the edges shouldn't draw *too* much attention; if anyone asks, they can always claim to be plainclothes security, the better to blend in with the invited guests.

(If there were badges for the faux security people, Ferio actually kept his when he changed outfits.)

More likely, though, Michiru's performance is going to hold people's atention to the point that nobody's going to ask questions. All eyes and ears are on the violinist; that's certainly where Fuu's attention is anchored.

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

"No, I got nothing either, did bump into Shizuru, but that's about it." She gave a shrug. "I'm starting to believe tonight might be a wash too. For all we know this Sears guy is going to send someone else to pick up his key."

She goes quiet as Takeo approaches and scoffs as Mikoto the ever talented bartender is brought up.

"I still like to know who's bright idea was to put her in charge of drinks-" All thoughts leave her head as Mikoto walks by...with fire...in her hands. Oh boy!

Natsuki races after Mai, as she tried to remember where the fire extinguisher was and snagged it, but found it was too late as Mai snuffed out the fire.

"Okay..no more fire for Mikoto like..ever..not even for marshmallows. Got it kid?" She breathes deeply to calm her heart and looks to Mai. "You okay? That had to hurt."

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

A few heads turn nervously as Mikoto transports a tray with a flaming drink on it, but not many - most are too enraptured by the complex and captivating sounds of violin and piano to care, even about something as primally concerning as actual fire. Even Mikoto is transfixed, but she has to focus on her work! People are depending on her! And then, there's the sound of someone clambering forward -

"Mai!" So named, she rushes up to douse the drink, and Mikoto frowns, stopping dutifully and wincing when Mai gets so close to the flames to put it out. "But, he wanted fireball..." Natsuki isn't far behind, reprimanding her with a blanket ban on fire, and Mikoto wilts. "But..."

Not even for marshmellows. That's rough.

So the customer isn't /always/ right. Okay. Okay, she can handle that, right? Exceptions exist!! And this time, because she really is at fault, she says: "Sorry Mai."

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

In the hall, Shizuru finds herself hearing Michiru's violin above eveything else, barely noticing when her glass is helpfully refilled in favor of watching--and of listening. It's beautiful, without doubt, and it seems to lift her away, the sound coming from that so-old violin, travelling on that piano beneath. It melds for her with the feelings of moments ago.

It melds, and Shizuru finds it almost painful because of it. The joy in it makes her think of what she's doing here tonight, the real reason she's here, the possibility of what might happen.

...And it makes her wish she could feel it differently than she does.

Kasagami is an interruption, and a reminder of her own intentions. The spell weakens for her, and she doesn't have the luxury of stopping to re-compose herself because little of it showed. 'Hey, VP.' "Hello, Araki-kun."

The other Student Council member speaks to her, and... Ah. There's that feeling.


"It's not about your looks," Shizuru answers Kasagami. "...When you feel that way for someone... It's your heart that will show through to them. The person that you really are."

It feels like a knife in her heart.

"...So perhaps that's your problem." A beat, "Yes, that's who she is. She's incredibly talented."

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Candle In The Wind https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDuWBD7bkWI

Over the course of Michiru's performance, the chatter in the Symphony Hall gradually attenuates, falling off one conversation at a time until the entire gala is transfixed in spellbound, silent appreciation of the music. When it ends, there is a roar of approval and momentous applause, and no one cheers louder or longer than one of the men of the hour, Mr. Adam Searrs, the new CEO of the Searrs Foundation. Blond hair, blue eyes, crisp tuxedo. On the way to the podium (which rises out of the stage with the help of cat-quiet motors), he bows deeply over Michiru's hand, genially shakes Haruka's, then leads the crowd in a second round of applause.

The lobby party is all but done, now, the last of the stragglers finding their seats in the Symphony Hall, the staff beginning to quietly clean up and prepare for serving dessert (and more drinks) later in the evening, once the speeches and ceremonies are over. It looks to be an affair with fountains of chocolate fondue, white and dark and milk, and a caramel one, too. That's all quickly closed off by those two sets of double doors, which is probably a blessing for the more distractible members of the audience.

Inside the hall, CEO Searrs begins his speech once the stage is clear. He's warm and friendly, and knows his audience well -- it's sprinkled liberally with nods to other corporate sponsors of the evening, as well as government actors who have played particularly sterling roles in making the year 2014 a good one. He toasts the rise of markets worldwide, the success of diplomacy to settle several serious disputes before they could become wars, and generally predicts great things to come.

But at last he turns to address recent events, and his voice becomes grave and solicitous. "We cannot forget the tragedy that struck Tokyo in past months -- the terrorist attack on Southern Cross Island will be remembered forever as one of the most brutal and cruel acts of violence on a city -- and on its children. But we must also salute those who responded to this crisis, including the government of Japan, the member states of the United Nations, and of course the brave students of Ohtori Academy itself, who bore up so courageously, and acted with great nobility, throughout the incident."

There is warm applause.

"I also proudly remember the choice of my predecessor, and uncle, CEO Eric Searrs, to volunteer the full operational ability of the Golden Age Paramilitary Corporation to the UN Taskforce designed to intercept these terrorists. Though the engagement was not without grave risk, to the best of our knowledge only a single civilian life was lost in the fight to liberate the school and bring these monsters to justice -- that of his daughter, my little cousin, Alyssa Searrs. The only kindness to be found in the car accident that caused Uncle Eric to lose his life the same evening, was that he never had to know."

Images of the angelic, golden-haired Alyssa Searrs, and her older, grayer and generally more dour father (he looks more like her grandfather, really, and no photoshop seems capable of disguising that), are broadcast on the massive screen which backs the stage, as the crowd joins Adam in a moment of silence for their memory.

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

Homura Akemi isn't mingling at a party.

She doesn't like parties anymore. They're a reminder of people she didn't know well. She stares down from a balcony. She hasn't appeared to anyone before this. The black-haired girl used her shield to stop time, work her way through the back halls, and then find a vantage point. She stands, now, on one of the upper balconies.

The people who bought tickets haven't arrived yet. They won't arrive, in fact -- because Homura acquired their tickets with a little bit of sneaking.

She sits in the balcony. She isn't pretending; there is no smart black dress on. She has her white dress, with purple ribbons trailing down, and she sits politely -- but alert -- as she watches the CEO speak.

The images of Alyssa begin to scroll across the screen. Her murderer looks at the screen with a cold, violet-eyed stare. Her eyes narrow; her fingers curl into a fist.

But she stays silent. And she waits.

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

Somehow, Hurricane Kassie grins to Not-Mai. Grin! A thumbs up. It's a bit like someone putting a mask on right in front of you to mask utter pain and suffering.

That food was /amazing/ though Mai-chan.

Kasagami's spine goes straight next to Shizuru. 'It's your heart that shows through to them'. The VP's words hang heavy in her mind. She's silent for nearly a minute. Beautiful music, then part of the speech goes through the air, never recognized by her ears. Kasagami leans near-half benched over. The laugh that she gives is bitter, heartbroken, and perhaps slightly crazed as self-reflection rears its ugly head. She's a Duelist. One particularly given to their tendency to swing their sword to ignore their problems.

Suddenly she leans back, that unhealthy little laugh passing finally. "You...really are a genius, VP. I get it. I suppose any cute girl like that would see right through me. Yeah. Can't really expect much out of a blackened, rotting piece of charcoal, now can you? Haaaah hah hah haah..." She trails off, silent. She quivers. Occasionally, she sips. Her good eye closes.

Tears fall despite her trying to look respectful. Quietly, she sobs, and suffers as silence takes up the room. No doubt those tears are shed for Alyssa. No doubt.

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

A slow breath, another. Mai's arm and ankle have been reminding her that rushing out tonight was far too little time to recover...and now her hand is getting in on the action. At least, at a glance, one of the managers noticed the whole escapade - hopefully they're getting credit for more disaster prevention than disaster causing.

She glances over as Natsuki approaches, and lets out a sigh. She's ready to agree - but catches Mikoto wilting. "More safety around fire, maybe. I'm not sure we need to go quite that far...and it's okay, Mikoto. Partly my fault for not saying something sooner - so don't worry, okay? I can handle a little fire." She manages to scare up a smile for the girl who is apparently an excellent bartender.

The doors close; those staff inside the hall are fewer in number, but at least present for the main event. This time, Mai doesn't stray too far from Mikoto - there are plenty of empty glasses to tidy up here, and no short supply of work to do. When the cheering starts, she looks up - and for the first time, glimpses the new CEO of the Searrs foundation. "...so there he is."

It's a financial speech, for the most part, and Mai is able to keep working during the whole affair. Glasses are silently refilled until the champagne bottle runs out, and dishes are collected for safekeeping. She can almost tune everything out...until he reaches current events. Busy hands slow, and finally come to a halt as she pays full attention to this bit of speech.

Mai Tokiha does not applaud; those words of praise for the students ring hollow in her ears. The topic shifts to the Golden Age military, and...perhaps it is fortunate that those phantoms of waitstaff are behind the audience. Mai's expression, which the guests cannot see, is a sight to behold - astonishment, swiftly overtaken by incredulity, slowly building into anger. The death of 'Uncle Eric' nearly goes uncontested; the main topic is a girl who she got to recognize all too well.

When the tribute presentation begins, anyone close to Mai might notice that the tray she's gripping is no longer as perfect as it was. Gold and silver are, sadly, somewhat pliable metals.

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

Takeo tightens one of his hands into a fist. He could transform, summon Arondight, and hurl that broadsword right through that smug face up there toting the PMC that tried to kill them all at Ohtori. Brave solders, in Avalon his men would be little more than Brigands.

He takes a steadying breath, and Takeo unclenches his fist, feeling the muscles there ease and relax, giving his hand almost a cooling sensation. "Boy? Is that the man you were talking about? And why doesn't he mention this Miyu Greer, the one that bested you so handidly."

Takeo rolls his eyes. "Gotta bring that one up again huh Rabbit?" He pauses as he listens to the speach about Alyssa. He didn't really know her, only of her, and before the battle for the island he'd never even heard of the Golden Age PMC. "But I don't know. She might have been the Terminator, but I thought she had a cover story as a student. Maybe the Searrs Corporation only counts those they view as important?" He shrugs and folds his arms over his chest.

He pauses for a moment. "Hey. From where you are, did I do something to make Mai angry?"

"Did you - Lancelot now is not really the time ...." If people could see him, they'd see Merlin pinching his adorably pink nose in frsutration. "I'll explain it later, or when you're oder. Whichever comes first."

Takeo nods. That would have to do. He then moves into the room, intent to mingle. Maybe he could find Azyana? He decides against that course of action. Right now there are Two Knights searching, so maybe he should jsut move and try to keep an eye out. He does however aplaud when prompted, just not enthusiastically, and the applause never reaches his eyes.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

And then Haruka takes the stage... the wind and the sea. One complementing the other filling in the hollows of Michiru's play. It's a magical, spiritual experience for her to hear it. Eventually her eyes open.

The thought of Kasagami breaking her cover is now more distant. She's calmer. But there's also the mission. Thinking about where to strategically position herself in case things go wrong- she diverts up the spiraling staircase, one hand picking up her skirts and holding her parasol, the other upon the rail.

Round and round and up and up until- she's up there. The way the music reverberates in this hall, she closes her eyes again to experience the feeling. Part of her wonders if this is what being in a seashell is like.

Eventually however she moves on, her eyes are opening. There's a pair of security guards at each box, so she doesn't turn into any of them. Instead she finds herself backing into an alcove, and- Setsuna Meioh, naturally.

Whirling around suddenly she looks at her wide eyed as she saw her in the full glory of her colorful floor sweeping gown. A nervous flush strikes her cheeks, "O-Oh excuse me. Terribly sorry. I didn't realize anyone was there- I thought I'd come up here to clear my head and listen to the performance. It looks like I'm not the only one who had that idea." She recognized her, of course, but Setsuna isn't someone she could reasonably know, right? But of course she was here if Michiru was. Setsuna said she attended almost all of her concerts. "I hope you don't mind the company. I'm Anastasia Wimbledon, Crown Princess of Ivanovich. May I have the pleasure of your acquaintance?"

The speech begins. She stiffens, looking over her shoulder. She remembers the terror of sitting through all of that at Ohtori Academy- the feelings of helplessness. The horror of seeing a friend die only to return. The images of Homura Akemi murdering that child. Her emotions swirl about so much that she starts to feel dizzy. Ill. At least she's spared the images on display. A hand goes to her forehead. She tries to smile at Setsuna, "It's- a good speech." A beat, and then she sounds even smaller, "Isn't it?"

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

The end of the performance feels like a loss of something truly beautiful and precious, and Fuu's applause for the performers - all of them, not just Michiru - is heartfelt. Her applause when the CEO of the Searrs Foundation takes the stage is, perhaps, more pro forma but still underscored by respectful courtesy. And then he starts to speak.

For all that she's not part of the intended audience, Fuu listens attentively to Mr. Searrs's speech - as though it were a lecture and she were going to take a quiz on it, or give a report. There's no telling which details may be useful to know in the future, and since Fuu is *here*, she might as well be ready to talk about it to, for instance, her parents. Or the Magic Association.

Of course the subject of the Southern Cross Island Incident comes up, though, and Fuu's eyes narrow *just* a little bit - partly at his focus on the Ohtori students (all three of the Sister Schools were trapped there, why no acknowledgement for the Juuban or Infinity student bodies?), more at his praise of the Golden Age PMC.

If the silence she keeps for that moment is a little more tense than those of the audience, the tension itself is still honest and from the heart.

And the 'vibe' she felt from the security around the concert hall, that vague sense of recognition of the type from the PMC troops during the incident, returns to her memory. It would be wonderful if, in the next such crisis, the soldiers were the *allies* of any magical girls caught up in it, rather than hunting them down.

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

Natsuki does her best to keep busy and quiet as the man they've been waiting for finally arrives. The speech is a typical thank you speech she'd expected, but then it goes into the 'terrorist attack'.

Thankfully, Natsuki is a master at keeping calm, but her blood was boiling as memories flashed through her mind. All the turmoil they had gone through, the fear Mai had paid the ultimate sacrifice, and the man in charge of the company that cause it was praising the students for the 'great job' they did.

Out of the corner of her eye, she glances to Mai and quietly moves closer. "Careful there, Wonder Woman," she whispered and pointed to the tray. "Your strength is showing." She glanced back to the man and frowns. "Do you want to go?" she asks sincerely. "I'm thinking we're not getting the intel we wanted here."

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

Mai stays close to Mikoto after that, and Mikoto's secretly glad for it. There's always /something/ to do, and luckily Mikoto is kept busy and away from the bar.

The world just isn't ready for her bartending skills.

Adam Searrs emerges on the stage, makes his speech. Most of it, Mikoto doesn't listen too closely to; it's financial nonsense, nothing she knows about. But then... then, he starts talking about what happened at Ohtori.

"Lying," says Mikoto quietly, like a cat who senses lies. Her own face reflects the growing anger she feels as the CEO continues to talk. She shifts a hand free, and reaches up to put it on Mai's arm, because she can tell that Mai is not doing well either. She looks over to Natsuki, and back to Mai, to see if she'll take the out Natsuki offers.

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Shizuru does not break the silence between her and Kasagami. No, she listens to the rest of the music, though she finds herself distracted by what she already feels. It slides through, almost seeming like a reminder of what she isn't. ...No, not almost. She could never play with such emotion.

She applauds with the rest, softly clapping through the drink in her hand when softness is what's called for in how she should act regardless. Through the second round she does the same, completely politely, not even looking beside her.

The scion of the Fujino family listens to the speech, smiles when she should, looks solemn as the tragedy comes to mind. She would prefer at the moment not to reflect on it, to reflect on a week spent under armed guard, of what she felt back then, of real fear. She is dimly aware of the students of Ohtori being called out, absently knowing that they were not alone there.

"No," Shizuru quietly answers Kasagami's words simply, "You can't." A small smile, as she looks to her side towards the younger girl. "But don't take my word for it. I'm hardly an expert on romance. I'm sure my parents are already considering the man I'm going to marry, so I have no reason to concern myself with such things."

The speech goes on. But Shizuru Fujino felt nothing when Alyssa Searrs died, and that's a fact that, among many others, proves her own words to her. A fact she would rather not think about at all.

She is part of that moment of silence. But it gnaws at her, all the same.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Meioh [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Caught up in the musical spell woven by her fellow Outers, Setsuna is unusually unaware when Usagi bursts into her alcove, an open and unguarded smile warming her face. The rustling does not alert her before the Princess in her confection of a dress backs into her, bumping a startled gasp out of the tall woman.


Setsuna regains composure quickly, hiding her second wave of surprise as she recognizes the girl in front of her. She doesn't think any disguise could hide her future liege from her long. After the introduction she takes a beat too long to curtsey -- she initially suppresses the urge, out of habit, and then recalls that it actually makes sense within the context of Usagi's pretense for being here. "It is good to make your acquaintance, Princess." Despite herself, Setsuna smiles and hides it in the curtsey, enjoying the ability to address Usagi 'properly.' "Please, join me. My name is Setsuna Meioh."

The performance draws to a graceful close like daisy petals falling in a springtime meadow, and Setsuna adds her applause to the crowd's thundrous adoration. The speech captivates her considerably less, referring to events she has no recollection of -- though she makes note to research them, after, in case they relate to current events. Everything is connected.

Instead she watches Usagi-as-Anastasia from the corner of her eyes, and the Princess's obvious reaction redoubles Setsuna's resolve to find out what happened. When Usagi wobbles a bit she half reaches out, not sure whether it would be overstepping to offer a stabilizing hand and arrested midstep by her uncertainty. "It's... Princess, are you all right?"

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

It's a moment before those signs of friendship manage to pierce through the anger in Mai's heart. Blind rage slowly begins to clear, as the quiet memorial to Alyssa Searrs continues on the great projection screen. There's a hand on Mai's arm - a slight disturbance of her expectations, something to pull her out of dour thoughts.

She's still not sure how to feel about Alyssa's death, on a personal level. They'd clashed before, and she'd flung fire more than once...but on the other hand, the girl's final end was ruthless. And at the time it finally happened, she'd been....

Well, she'd been in space after somehow coming back from being obliterated, and vanished in her own flames shortly afterward. Not exactly a time to really handle that kind of event.

Mai closes her eyes, takes a breath - and at Natsuki's prompting, looks down at the tray. A wince, as she turns to place the damaged tray on one of the mobile carts - mixed with the rest, the damage might remain a mystery. Maybe. Her answer is a quiet murmur, so as not to disturb the silence. "...thanks, you two. I...let's see how this ends. I know I'm jumping at shadows, but after what Mami Tomoe pulled for some stupid key I need to see this through."

Another deep breath, a humourless chuckle at Mikoto. "You can say that again...I still can't believe that -this- is the official story, after everything..." She might have the strength to stay. She doesn't have the strength to look at that screen again while that face is on it.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> In The Mood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR3K5uB-wMA

Adam Searrs closes the moment of silence by raising his bowed head. "But tonight we're here to celebrate -- their lives and contributions, and the contributions of many others who have made the reconstruction of Southern Cross Island possible! It is with enormous pride and utmost pleasure that I introduce to you the Superintendent-General of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, one of the shining lights protecting this beautiful city, Natsuna Sakurada! Let's hear it for Super Sakurada!"

Natsuna (who is, by the way, the sister of Haruna Sakurada, Juuban Middle School teacher) is played onto the stage by the five-piece band like she's at an awards show... which, of course, she is. They strike up some big band for her, appropriate accompaniment to the swing in her step. She looks quite glamorous tonight with her black blazer and red pencil skirt, and her long, dark auburn hair glowing under the lights.

While she's shaking hands with the Searrs CEO, seven little pedastals rise out of the stage floor. They surround her on the podium, and she smiles with delight to see these little glowing silver keys humming their tunes quietly. It should be dischordant in combination, what with everything from J-Pop to classical to the national anthem and much in between on the air, but somehow it's this perfect, complex mash-up, instead.

Natsuna grabs the mic. "Good evening everyone!" she trills, her eyes flashing with cheer. "On behalf of the Mayor of Tokyo and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, I'm here to bestow our Key to the City upon someone whose charity, whose vision, and whose gosh darn hard work has been a beacon to us all, pulling us out of dark times and into our bright future. Now, if you'll excuse me... hmhmhm, I'm told that these fit together somehow, it's like a puzzle on a game show!"

She grabs one of the keys, and then another, and kind of mashes them together... and her eyebrows raise as they interlock very easily. Natsuna can't feel it, but magical souls across Tokyo can -- a rising sense of potential, like someone just took the mystically diagetic background music of Tokyo and cranked its amp up from 1 to 3.

As she continues to put Keys together, it goes up to 11, a tooth-thrumming basso of raw magical power. The light is getting brighter and brighter, too, prompting a startled bray of laughter from the woman, but she keeps at it, and is suddenly holding a three-foot long silvery key that in no way really looks like it could have been formed from the seven small ones.

"Whoa, magic tri--" Natsuna starts to say, but her words disappear and so does she, into an explosion of white light that expands, within moments, to encompass the entirety of Searrs Symphony Hall and then some, creating a coruscating pillar of light streaming towards the heavens like some kind of luminous donation to God.

When the light clears, everyone is somewhere else... and, possibly, given the glorious spring weather, somewhen.


<SoundTracker> BGM Switch: Who Are You? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VqAMILgeio

A pair of news reporters chatter cheerfully on the air, their broadcast going out to most homes and no few big screens downtown, too.

"It's a gorgeous day for cherry blossoms here in Tokyo, Taro-kun, the crowds are out in force with no signs of abatement!"

"You're quite right, Kimiko-san, and it's a very special day -- graduation day for many programs, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Academy! They've had record enrollment, probably related to the widespread public enthusiasm about their historically successful war on crime."

"That's right, Taro-kun, and so many of their recruits have been young women! Crime is way down and the reason seems to be the tireless efforts of the girls of Tokyo -- real girl power, making a real difference."

The camera cuts to the Police Academy Graduation at Ueno Park, where Super Sakurada is tearfully giving a congratulatory speech to her crowd of uniformed recruits and their friends and family. It is, indeed, overwhelmingly women, and no few of them have cute little personalizations on their ties or hats that could easily be a magical trinket of some kind...

In Natsuna Sakurada's perfect Tokyo, the magical girls -- who she thinks of as well-meaning but frustrating vigilantes -- have all joined the police force, either as active-duty officers, reserve collaborators, crime lab associates or registered private investigators of some kind. Together they're all taking the fight to the streets, foiling muggings, bank robberies, murders and more. And, yes, Tokyo is a safer place for it -- a happy, sunny place, full of pride and joy.

But it's far from perfect. With the magical girls actually on the 9-to-5 clock, their actions are very restricted in many ways; it's impossible for them to explain their actual, native magical enemies to the bureaucracy, and when they get caught acting off the books, the censure is extreme. Some girls felt pressured to join but the revelation of their double life earned the rejection of their family. Others felt unable to remain within the system and have been branded supervillains. The heroic magical girl task forces -- which aren't publically magical -- all have cute names, idol followings... and are, inevitably, tasked with the apprehension of these criminal elements.

OOC: Who are you, four years later, in Super Sakurada Tokyo, if a powerful, reality-warping magical force made cooperating with the police seem like an extremely attractive and noble option, and where magical girls are spending most of their energy fighting mundane crime instead of their sworn enemies in the shadows -- when they aren't policing their own rebellious vigilantes? By all means, give us a vignette of your character's activities, and please keep your post-Key-explosion pose perspectives thoroughly AU, avoid including your 'normal' character's perspective for now! (We'll get there, but not in the initial, setting-establishing round of poses.) You're definitely encouraged to collaborate OOCly to place yourself in each other's AU scenario! And feel free to pace yourselves, we'll be here for the rest of the evening, until the last pose. Ueno Park/the Police Academy graduation is recommended as a setting, just to keep everyone kind of in the same geographical area for easy interaction, but is not required if you'd like to split off and do your own thing somewhere else ICly.

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

Kasagami seizes up, and suddenly, her crying stops. Names of lost students. Name of a girl killed. She wasn't there during the PMC problem, and so, she drinks in the 'tragedy' that unfolded. Sorry Shi-chan, those tears are getting wiped onto her opera gloves. A deep breath, and she focuses.

She's still utterly miserable, but Kasagami nods to Shizuru. "No wonder you're the VP. I guess I'll just have to keep trying, keep hoping the person I lo...err, like ignores this heart of mine. Heh. Maybe if I keep it up, I can really fool her right? Freaking Illusionist Kasa-chan! Or something like that." A bitter, hard snicker. Whispered. Suffering is in Kasa's every word now. Thanks, Shi-chan.

A sigh. "That's gotta be rough, though. 'Arranged marriage'? That even /legal/ now?" She leans in, right to Shizuru's ear. "Hey. If they pick someone you don't like, how about I go and corner 'em in an alleyway. Seriously. That kind of thing makes me /real/ angry. And I'm pretty good at not getting caught, believe it or not. You're a nice person, VP. You should love whoever you want. Not like me, some punk of a Diet's daughter." The whisper is entirely for Shizuru.

Keys get mashed together, and suddenly Kassie is at attention. Her bottle slips from her hand. Her good eye narrows at that feeling of potential. She's utterly drawn away. Her very bones quiver.

Light fills the hall, and Kassie lets out a painful gasp as she's blinded!


It was all a happy graduation. Magical Police Girl Kassie was at the top of her class, not through talent, but through sheer force. Law and order. Endless, back-breaking training. All because magical forces killed her parents, driving her onwards. Ruthlessness and a pure dose of Lawful led her on from there. Onto the beat. She wasn't content to remain there. Not at all.

And so she'd clawed her way into Investigations. The worst kind of crimes, the worst kind of scum. An officer, a King of sorts in her own little way. She'd taken up a Gang Unit, dealt with those politics. Taken in Informants, as much as she hated them. Small compromises. It was the job. She needed info. All into a single person that long ago had lit up her life.

A sigh, and Kasagami Inspector-chan pushes down a single picture she'd taken so long ago. Up off her desk. She glares at the informant before her. "Stop screwing around, kid. Where's the Ultimate Evil Prince? I won't rest until I've caught her you punk!" Her iron fist slams into the desk, nearly breaking it. She barely holds back a tear of suffering.

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

It's not like working hand in glove with the police is that bad, thinks Fuu Hououji from her seat in the audience. She was too dedicated to becoming a computer programmer to sign up for the police academy, but that doesn't mean she can't work as a civilian consultant - she's actually submitted some security upgrades for the department's IT specialists, hardening their operating systems against magical interference. Not that the Tokyo Metropolitan Police believe in magic in spite of ample evidence to the contrary.

Honestly. When somebody actually enchants groups to act according to outside direction, or summons giant monsters in the middle of Shibuya, or virtually cleaves skyscrapers at the foundations when they miss a slash at an honest magical girl going about her business, you'd THINK the police would take all the help they can get. But somehow those never get recorded as what actually happened - it's always a flash mob or special effects for a movie or a freak localized earthquake.

Granted, it's still a step up from having to keep the Magic Knight of Wind from being noticed at all - and being able to go Green Arrow on mundane criminals DOES have its own little satisfactions. She draws the line at wearing a mask or a hood when she's out nailing crooks to conveniently-placed architecture by their clothes, though; let them nickname her after that American vigilante, she's still going to be the Wind Knight when she has to be more than just Fuu Hououji, aspiring computer systems engineer (and occasional dojinshi game designer).

Besides, Oliver Queen hated working with the cops except when he had no other choice. The Wind Knight is too practical to turn a cold shoulder to the police when they need her help. Being a reserve collaborator suits her well enough, and gives her enough time to work with the computers.

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

The Light begins to wash toward him and Taeke grabs the amulet at his throat. He holds it high as the light comes for him and cries out, "I SWEAR TO - "

It had been one of those days, and Takeo Akamizu was, as usual late. He ran for the park, holding his dress cap in his nice white gloves. Arondight slapping both hips as the twin blades jostled with the movements. He was late, but he was also excited. Not only was he being placesd on the Quick Reaction Force of SWAT, he was being palced on their special MOUNTED division. Brand new, hyped up, suped up, turbo-charged Kawasaki Motorcycles. And he was freaking late to his own graduation.

He could Hear Merlin now, that damn Rabbit who ahd taken up lecturer at the Academy once he had gotten his body back. "Damnit Lancelot. You'll never amount to anything if you sleep all the damn time, or are LATE to everything!"

He sighed and came around the corner, hearing the Captain's speech. He put his cap on, adjsuted his tunic ashe walked, and moved to stand in the back of the crowd. A little grin on his face.

Hard to believe that just three years ago he was doing Illegal street racing.

But that thought came with a taste of sadness. Three years ago was when Mika had died. Mama and Papa had continued on, but they were really shells of whom they had been.

He firmly put that behind him. Today was a brand new day, and the begining of much and more. He scanned the other cadets, or he should say the other officers and spies a familiar head of hair. He grins and if she looks his way, sends Mai a wink, and a then lifts his hand to the side of his head in the universal "Call me gesture."

He may be a cop, but there were rules, and Takeo was still a guy who beleived that some of thsoe rules needed to be broken.

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

Still gathering her calm, Mai had tuned out most of the police chief's cheery, optimistic speech. That lasted right up until the music started - looking up from the damaged tray for a moment, she frowns. "They wouldn't actually..."

There's a ~thrum~ that reverberates in her heart, and she spins on her heel - just in time to see the shining silver key take form. Her eyes widen, and then-


"Of course I'll be there! You made it into Tokyo University, of course I'll be there for the entrance ceremony - so don't worry about a thing! You just make sure to look your best tomorrow, 'little' brother. See you then!" Still chipper, the policewoman in blue hits the 'End Call' button on her phone. The academy's graduation ceremony is in full swing, and she's backstage for final preparations. She's just about to put the phone back in her pocket when it catches her eye again.

That wallpaper. That picture from her own days in the Academy. She should really change it - should have changed it ages ago - but for all the pain, she just can't forget about those days. One thumb traces the edge of the phone's case, nostalgia settling for a moment. Those days together in training...her partner in that first year as an officer...

"Minagi. Why'd you have to keep flying off the handle? I tried, you know, and if you'd just listened for a change..." The woman glances to the other faces in the picture, shaking her head. "I suppose you never could have listened to the rules, Kuga. I swear, though - I will find you two. There has to be justice, you both know it."

"For our next speech, one of our junior officers..." Before they can even call her name, Officer Tokiha stands up straight. A quick slap against her cheeks, stashing that precious phone back in her pocket, and she turns to approach the stage. For the sake of the new graduates...she's going to do her best! She steps out on the stage with a bright smile, little magatama rings stitched on her otherwise-standard-issue police hat, and she waves while approaching the microphone.

Takeo's wink and signal brings just the faintest flush to her face - but she can blame that on nerves. She's going to blame that on nerves. With a deep breath, she takes the microphone. "Congratulations, all of you, on all your hard work. Going forward, life will be different - you'll move from your academy class to your partner on the force, and that's a bond you...can't forget. But before all else, we're here to serve the city..."

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Usagi is not alright. There are sparkles of water in her eyes. She really didn't think that girl should die, but she doesn't think a lie praising what she did is right. "No- I'm not. I-" Sparkles of water are mopped up by her satin gloves.

Natsuna is coming on the stage. She can't see what's happening, but she can hear it, and feel it. The discordant tunes, the eyes move over her shoulder. There's a rising sense of unease as the keys are fitted together away from her. Her magical senses aren't the sharpest, but they're not so dull that they can't feel the music. /Feel/ it. "-something's wrong."

She whispers. "Something's really wrong-" Light fills her vision. Her only sanctuary is nearby as the magical light encompasses her. Her arms wrap around the other, older girl-

Somewhere Else~

When her vision clears. She's nineteen. She's in the cutest police hat with ties and her own touches of a crescent moon on it. The rest of her uniform is smart, with a cadet's pencil skirt. The Spiral Moon Heart Rod is in a holster at the side of her belt, along with handcuffs and other pouches. Her brooch is worn like a badge on her left breast. She's hugging the more dignified older girl enthusiastically- the speech is done. "I DID IT! I ACTUALLY GRADUATED!"

She draws back, grabbing both of her hands, giving them an excited shake, she's so full of cheer right now. Not long after she's letting go, giving an excited little leap in the air. She takes a step back, "Now- I know my exam grades put me at the bottom of my class, Lieutenant Meioh- and I know after that incident at Dark Burger-"

Where she was caught with a mouth full of burger rather than responding to a call, "-and the donut truck-"

Which she caused a ton of property damage pursuing some petty thief in Kaoru-chan's van. Her hand goes to the nape of her neck "-and the noodle stand-"

Don't ask. We don't talk about the Noodle Incident, "-you really had to go to bat for me at that disciplinary hearing. But it's all worth it now isn't it? I promise you - I'm really going to make you proud!"

Mai is giving a speech- Usagi can't help it, she leaps up again, waving her hand at her, wanting to let her know she was here and had her full support. She was a walking human disaster on this force but- a lot of people let that slide for being the designated cheerleader of this force. She tended to brighten up everyone's day.

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

The key is assembled. Mikoto tenses; Mai can surely feel it in the way her grip tightens around her arm. "Mai," she hisses. "Natsuki!" She doesn't say what she feels, the power raising above them like water over their heads, the pulses like drowning, and the light --

~ ~ ~

Detective Minagi had /tried/, goddamnit.

She'd breezed through physical training. She'd struggled through the rest of it. She'd gotten her badge, gotten assigned with Mai Tokiha. They were good partners. Hell, they were /great/ partners. They solved problems, got things done. Every long pair of legs with a problem ended up with a prime solution. Even her own problem, her brother, was gettin' closer to a solution. Meticulous work would pay off eventually.

The only people who weren't happy? That'd be the brass. Every time she'd solve a problem, they'd make a problem. 'You're using too much force, Detective Minagi.' 'That's another casualty, Detective Minagi.' 'You're causin' us way too much paperwork, Detective Minagi.' Oh, sure, Tokiha went to bat for her - both of them did. Gotta look out for your partner. Both of them were vicious, were violent, caused a little too much trouble. But Mikoto was always just a little bit /more/ - a little bit more unrestrained, a little bit more wild.

It was an accident, in the end. An accident! But they screamed and they slammed their hands on the desk and they demanded her badge, because they'd had it up to /here/ with her, here and no further.

The conversation with Tokiha was bitter, and the cheerful sunshine did little to draw the sting from it. She had her brother to think about. And Mikoto? Mikoto had her brother, too. She'd been looking for him between the lines, so far. She'd been behaving her own good self. But now they wanted her to stop, and she sure as hell wasn't going to. Not even for Tokiha...

Flash forward. She's found a friend in Kuga, someone else who couldn't stand the pull of the law, and it's almost like the old days. But they don't talk about the little things, don't touch the edges of the painful gash which is their pasts. They're both looking for something - and they don't care about the details. The law's failed them. It's failed like the sun which beats down on the ground, chasing away the shadows, allowing nothing to escape. Mikoto hates the sun; it's so unlike her world.

The park's filling up. In the branches of a great oak is a short woman, coat pulled up, fedora laid low against her head, a great case slung about her back. She's alone here; she wouldn't ask Kuga to come on such a ridiculous mission. But the heart wants what the heart wants, and it presses people to do stupid things, sometimes. From between the leaves she watches, at a long distance, as Junior Officer Tokiha takes the stage. She can't quite hear what she's saying. She can guess.

"Sorry, partner," she growls, to herself more than to anyone. "We've both got our obligations."

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Meioh [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

The keys click together in Natsuna Sakurada's hands, the magical energies gather, and the hairs rise on the back of Setsuna Meioh's neck in silent agreement with Usagi's whispered warning. When illumination explodes forth from the stage the Guardian of Time experiences a stuttering sensation and sees a flickering of images: digital and analog, square and round, clock faces fall like dominos, the ones from her walk that were all off a few crucial and uneasy minutes.

Usagi's arms wrap around her, anchoring Setsuna for a moment against the onslaught of imagery, and she clutches back blindly for a heartbeat before light swallows them both--


Lieutenant Setsuna Meioh, normally renowned at the academy for her composure, is having a bit of trouble at the moment. The cause for her wide eyes and stiff, awkward pose wraps herself around Setsuna's midsection, heedless of the heavy police-issue equipment strapped to the older girl's belt.

This recent class had gotten far more used to the lieutentant losing her composure, and Cadet Usagi was the culprit every time.

Feeling the need to reassert her composure, Lieutenant Meioh clears her throat pointedly and makes a show of working to pluck herself free of the enthusiastic hug, only to find her hands clasped in Usagi's instead. She's left with no way to cover her dark flush and just harrumphs harder to compensate.

"Hmppphhh. Just make sure I didn't waste all that training, Cadet Tsukino."

Finally free, she breathes out a discreet sigh of relief, but when Usagi turns away to watch Mai's speech, Setsuna corrects herself. "Officer Tsukino." It's clear from her face, aimed at Usagi's cheering back, that she is already proud.

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

"I-I, I don't know, I have no idea who that is!" burbles Kasagami Inspector-chan's informant. His stench is getting a bit more poignant than usual -- as is his story, which contains as many twisted contradictions as his frantic brain. "I think maybe she left, a long time ago! Got out of this place!"

Not a bad idea, really, for her. There, in the plaza below, are the blossoms and the graduating class.

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

A deep sigh. Kassie Investigator-chan is suddenly behind her ill-fated Informant. A hard slap on the back, and a deadly smirk. Her glare is pure hatred.

"I really hate liars. Oi. Put this useless punk in the slammer." A wink her her underlings, and then, she joins the parade of graduating police-magical-girls and their superiors.

Despite her own frustrations, despite her annoyance, she salutes them. Yeah, she can respect their drive. Their training. Their desire to help the world.

Too bad it won't be enough. Not until a Certain Someone is caught. Not until this filthy world has a Police Chief At The Top.

Some things for Kassie simply doesn't change.

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Shizuru graciously lets Kasagami cry in peace, and just as graciously doesn't mention that it had ever been happening. But before she can answer anything of Kasagami's, do more than fail to even move as she leans in to whisper...

The things on stage turn to something different. And there's brilliant light.


Shizuru sits in the audience, rather than among the new officers. She's not a cop, and she's not a police officer; everyone knows she doesn't have that kind of power. But that doesn't mean she can't help in her own way. Already she's helped to organize numerous fundraisers and charity events, and provided assistance in many other small ways.

Surely she has no relation to a woman who, in secret, constantly battles against the heroic efforts of the magical girl task forces. Not a vigilante--few have ever seen her even /bother/ with a monster--but a real, terrifying supervillain, wielding a fierce red naginata that she conjures out of nothing and a towering six-headed dragon that she rides into battle. The rumor goes that she's /behind/ a great deal of lesser crime, but not even her subordinates know her name.

No, Shizuru is pleasantly watching the ceremony, smiling mildly as she looks over each... new... face, from her seat.

There are a few faces she doesn't see, of course, because they aren't there. The most notable is Mami Tomoe, who took to policework like a fish to water, and has been as happy as she can be for the recognition her new work receives. If she has to do a little on the side, it's all things no one could see anyway.

But as she has a chance to look over the others, Shizuru gets up, and excuses herself, very politely. She'll be right back, she tells the person minding the door, and heads towards the restrooms.

But that's not where she goes.

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

Fuu sits up a bit straighter as she listens to Mai's speech; while she may not be one of the specific people being addressed, she's been friends with Mai for a long while, and they've stood by each other both on- and off-duty. Part of why Fuu turned down the invitation to join the full-time police force was that she didn't want the rules binding police officers to tie *her* hands when she needs to take action. She still has to try not to get caught openly violating the polite agreement that allows vigilante magical girls to work, but the Wind Knight has a good track record of live captures and proper provision of evidence where needed.

It's a delicate balance, like solving an equation without oversimplifying the variables, but she likes to think she's pretty good at it.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Meanwhile Elsewhere~

The sakura blossoms float around two cadets middle school cadets One is on the ground in civilian clothes, her forehead striking her knees. "Mouuu- I can't believe I'm still suspended from the academy on a day like today."

"It's only temporary Nanoha. Everyone is really grateful for what you did in the line of duty. It's just- they feel very strongly that Starlight Breaker counts under excessive force." A hand is offered, "You'll be back before you know it. We're going to be partners out there, remember?"

"Feito-chan..." Affectionate eyes look at the one offering the hand. She grasps it and helps her up- the two girls walk together, hand in hand-

Back at the ceremony~

Something in 'Officer' Tsukino's eyes just sparkle so much when Setsuna calls her that. She gives her own salute, a hand beside her forehead. Usagi thinks she sees something in the trees, but that's just her imagination... her focus goes back to Mai's speech.

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Shizuru graciously lets Kasagami cry in peace, and just as graciously doesn't mention that it had ever been happening. But before she can answer anything of Kasagami's, do more than fail to even move as she leans in to whisper...

The things on stage turn to something different. And there's brilliant light.


Shizuru sits in the audience, rather than among the new officers. She's not a cop, and she's not a police officer; everyone knows she doesn't have that kind of power. But that doesn't mean she can't help in her own way. Already she's helped to organize numerous fundraisers and charity events, and provided assistance in many other small ways.

Surely she has no relation to a woman who, in secret, constantly battles against the heroic efforts of the magical girl task forces. Not a vigilante--few have ever seen her even /bother/ with a monster--but a real, terrifying supervillain, wielding a fierce red naginata that she conjures out of nothing and a towering six-headed dragon that she rides into battle. The rumor goes that she's /behind/ a great deal of lesser crime, but not even her subordinates know her name.

No, Shizuru is pleasantly watching the ceremony, smiling mildly as she looks over each... new... face, from her seat.

There are a few faces she doesn't see, of course, because they aren't there. The most notable is Mami Tomoe, who took to policework like a fish to water, and has been as happy as she can be for the recognition her new work receives. If she has to do a little on the side, it's all things no one could see anyway.

But as she has a chance to look over the others, Shizuru gets up, and excuses herself, very politely. She'll be right back, she tells the person minding the door, and heads towards the restrooms.

But that's not where she goes.

The park doesn't, of course, change immediately. But what happens next is very sudden, and neither cheerful nor particularly police-related.

In the middle of Super Sakurada's speech, the ground begins to crack, and a huge, six-headed hydra, in metallic purple, bursts into the midst of the ceremony. Its six heads snap outward, and one chomps down at a platform in the midst of everything.

Far behind it, a masked woman in purple stares at the beginning of the chaos that must surely follow.

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

No one knows whether Mikoto knew this would happen. They could ask, but she's not telling.

She throws off her coat, leaping to the ground. Beneath is a magical girl outfit of black and gold, dark and bright like the warning patterns on a poisonous creature. 'Warning,' it says - 'I bite.'

Ripping Miroku from its case, Mikoto slams it into the ground, obsidian spires gashing open the ground to scar the sky. They home in on one, specific person, to the exclusion of all else -

As Mikoto runs forward, her sword dragging sparks against the ground.


<Guests> Staff Pink Moon Stick says, "Welcome, Diamond Guest! :)"

You will no longer hear messages on channel <Guests>.

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

There had been a few years where Takeo had just given up on the hero biz, and had instead tried to become a professional racer, it allowed him to see ... To see. It had taken some convincing from a loved one, but Takeo had walked away, signed up, and was finally graduating. Officer Takeo Akamizu. He grinned and brushed the Mounted Division pin.

Others might not see it, but when Mai had blushed he grinned form his position in the back and had stuck his tongue out. Quickly, and then became all business as he listened to Mai speak. He stood at ease, hands carefully behind his back, legs standing shoulder width apart.

When his name is called to receive his official badge. He walks up, and allows the badge to be pinned in it's spot on his uniform. He then moves back into place to await the end of the ceremony.

And then there is a freaking hydra. "Well. So glad I could be late ... " Quick as his powers, Takeo leaps off the stage, the twin blade of Arondight igniting into a veritable lighting storm that trails the blades. In mid air, bits of armor appear in flashes of bright light on his uniform. He lands in front of the Hydra and grins up at it. Oh man. He missed this part. "HEY! REJECT FROM A GODZILLA MOVIE! DODGE THIS FOR ME!" He then slashes with both blades as he calls out: "LIGHTING CROSS SLASH!" sending an X shaped swath of blue white lighting racing toward the Purple Hydra.

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

That whisper seems like a lifetime ago. It wiggles in her ear, unheard, for now. Until then.

~A Lifetime Later~

Down slams the snapping jaws of the Hydra thanks to Supervillain Shi-chan. It's a simple duty. Protect. Serve. Stop idiots from killing each other. Magical or not, Kasagami throws herself into the simpler part of her duty. It's almost relaxing compared to the web of lies, deceit, and stupid actions in the Gang Unit.

She draws her extra-long blade, and throws herself in the way of harm, trying to protect Super Sakurada bodily! She'll interject herself with the blow, laughing almost crazed!

"L...leave her alone!" She coughs out, straining under the impact! Kassie-Inspector-chan is four days away from retirement!!!

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

Fuu Hououji sighs; of course somebody was going to interrupt. This many people, magical girls and otherwise, and in a public venue; of *COURSE* something like this was going to happen.

She's probably one of the few civilians who doesn't go running off and screaming; however, that means she *IS* one of the people who nearly gets trampled in the sudden panic. Which still kind of works to her benefit; the whirlwind which erupts around Fuu's seat helps to keep her from getting trampled any more than she already was, and her pauldrons flares outwards dramatically as she rises back to her feet, massive sword coming readily to her hand. It's the kind of sword that could easily cut down most of the monsters that get summoned, and it remains her mainstay weapon when she doesn't need her bow specifically.

Not that her arrows will do a whole lot of good against an armored, six-headed monster. She found that out a few years ago, even *after* Presea crafted a new one for her. But then, she doesn't really need her bow *or* her sword when she has her magic.


It's still one of the Wind Knight's most commonly used spells, even after all this time, and no doubt much of her fanbase identifies her by THAT spell in particular. The whirlwind is conjured to wrap around the hydra, attempting to bind it in place not just to protect bystanders and allies, but to hold the monster *STILL* so her allies can pile on it with their attacks.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

The ground begins to crack and rumble. The concrete shifting causes Usagi to suddenly wobble and trip. Down on her knees she goes- only to see the Hydra rise and chomp down on the platform. Usagi Tsukino shrieks under the realization of who was on that platform. But then she rises- tears in her eyes, but a fierce look otherwise.

She doesn't need to run anymore to transform, to hide. She's legit. She's a Pretty Police Officer of Love and Justice. She's raising her hand skyward-

"Moon Enforcement Power- MAKE UP!"

She expects it- the ring of hearts, the ribbons- the change-

Nothing. "Eh?" Blinking, Usagi shakes her brooch, then opens it. The little heart crevasse where the Ginzuishou within was empty. The horrifying realization sets in that she left it within her locker for the ceremony. This isn't in fact regulation to keep such things locked up right now. It was just her being absent minded after having it polished for this special day.

She shrieks again, jumping sideways as Mikoto cuts a line through the ground, trailing sparks on the way to the stage. "I'll be- I'll be right back, Lieutenant!"

She runs, arms pumping, chest heaving, looking behind her all the way, "Please- please, I have to make it in time..." She's not really looking where she's going, which is probably why she bumps right into...

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

"And in the end, remember your duty. All of you here made a promise - to serve, and to protect. Remember that - it's not about the glamour, it's not about the criminals. It's about remembering your responsibilities." Officer Mai Tokiha's speeches might go down in police academy history for the banality - in the last few months in particular, she's really doubled down on this whole 'responsibility' angle.

In spite of what she might wish, 'skipping work' isn't actually a felony offence - but that hasn't stopped her from chewing out people who abandon their posts. Almost like she has a chip on her shoulder on that subject.

But mercifully, she's wrapping up her speech - and perhaps more mercifully, she's interrupted by a dragon. For a moment, some of her fellow officers glance to her suspiciously - but the hydra is completely different from Sergeant Kagutsuchi. This one isn't hers.

"What?! You - how could you interrupt this ceremony!" In flashes of flame, Officer Tokiha's weapon takes form - though the magatama rings she bears are a little more angular, seeming a little more like handcuffs than before. She crosses her arms, takes a deep breath to make an invocation-

And then the dragon battle is put on hold as obsidian splits the sky. Mai Tokiha freezes in her tracks, eyes locked on the figure in black and gold. She doesn't even need to see the woman to know it's her - that familiar sword is just the icing on the cake. As the battle against the dragon begins all around her, the Lady Of Hot Pursuit charges forward, rings blazing ferociously to meet the sword head-on.


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

Super Sakurada, who was standing beside Officer Tokiha as she made her speech, arms folded, beaming, is rescued by the brutally forceful interposition of Inspector Araki. And... her arms are still folded, and she's still beaming. Seeing magical girls -- /her/ magical girls, on her force -- fight the good fight against those who would disrupt law and order. "Get that dragon!" she bellows, pointing at it, baton-first. "And that criminal!" She points at Mikoto too, just for good measure.

<Pose Tracker> Haruka Tenoh [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"We really can't thank you enough for your contributions. The Kaiten Foundation has been nothing but generous."

Haruka has his hands thrust in his pockets. His tie is fashionably askew, his razor sport jacket making him seem a zebra among horses, here with the grey-jacketed, rumpled detectives. He's leaning back to gaze disinterestedly at a trophy case. "Miss Kaioh and I have always supported our Girls in Blue, officer. Can I get in to see Lieutenant Meioh, now?"

"We're actually having a special day today!" the young officer chirps. "It's graduation, so Lieutenant Meioh is actually presiding over--" She begins to falter at the apathetic, patient gaze Haruka is fixing her with, and gets to the point. "If you could just wait here..."

Haruka sniffs, more athletic than pampered, but arrogant either way. "Is there even a chair?"

The young officer hesitates, but the dull incuriousity of this entitled scion of Tokyo decides her. Besides, isn't he supposed to be old friends with Lieutenant Meioh? "You can wait in her office until she gets back," she says with a grimace. Rich asshole.

When the door closes behind him, Haruka hooks a finger into his tie and loosens it with a wiggling motion, back and forth. Exhales. When his eyes open, they are hard and intelligent, and he strides directly to the filing cabinet by the wall, tugs at a drawer, and hammers the lock with his elbow when it doesn't shift. With a few martial slams, he gets the mechanism free and hauls it wide, plunging his hands through the folders efficiently. Flick, flick, flick.



Haruka exhales sharply, shaking his head. "A coverup. You're always right, aren't you?" Haruka gives a wry gaze to Michiru's painting--of course Setsuna has one in her office. He then looks down, to the picture on the desk of Setsuna herself, with her hand on a pink-haired girl's shoulder. "Sorry about this," he tells the Setsuna-picture, rolling the papers from the Tomoe file and stuffing them into the inside of his jacket. "But then, you're the one who chose the other side, weren't you?" Setsuna's unsmiling gaze (even in a friendly photo) stares back blankly, and he puts a hand to the back of his neck ruefully. "Doesn't make it easy."

The door bursts open. A blonde officer, drill-hair. Haruka hears her shouted warnings, and raises his hands with a self-effacing half-smile. "Guess there are some smart cops in this station after all," he sighs. He glances down at the pile of emptied files he left on the ground. As she yanks his hands behind his back, Haruka waits for just the right moment, when she has to shift her hands to snap on the second cuff. Then he tries it. "You're not the Tomoe I was looking for, though," he drolls lightly.

  • * *

Haruka pauses inside the door to snap the second cuff on the same wrist as the first, then pulls his sleeve down over it. He's sweaty and dishevelled from the brief but violent fight, but the file's safe. He just needs to get out, now, and somehow there's a perfect distraction. Sprinting out the door, Haruka is looking and whistling in thanks to hi fellow Infinity alumna when he runs right into a rabbit. A lot of good stories start like that.

Catching the much-shorter officer, Haruka is halfway to punching her across the jaw when he sees her face. He hurriedly drops that hand. "Officer Odango," he says, applying his charm, but in a great rush. "You know, I might be an athlete, but in a real fight like this..." He grimaces in embarrassment. "...do you think you can get me out of here?"

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

Magatama meet claymore, and the smell of burnt glass fills the air, but Miroku doesn't melt. Can't melt, even against such strong feelings as those. Gold eyes meet grey-purple, full of anger and something else. "Won't let Tokiha's memories consume me no more," Mikoto growls, grip shifting - "Partner!"

She must love only her Lord Brother. Even here, especially now. She must have her heart on an obsidian board, pinned like a butterfly, because it is /necessary/.

The moment breaks, and Mikoto leaps back, into the sea of Miroku's spines which emerge from the earth. It roils beneath the ground, obsidian cracking at the edges as it moves backwards, leaving cracked and injured earth behind it. "MIROKU!", Mikoto screams, and the obsidian spires lance forward again, indiscriminate as always. They'd always hurt too much, caused too much collateral damage. But now, they surge forward towards Mai Tokiha's heart.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

-- Somewhere by Tokyo bay, during an outdoor dock party gala much like this one---

Two lovers slow dance with each other in the moonlight...

Dimunitive by normal standards, they each stand a mere four feet tall, but being in Japan, with the increased activity of magical girls in open society this is not as unusual as it might otherwise be.

"You know I love that dress..." one says to the other, the speaker wearing a little red tuxedo that accents her bold red afro and skin.

"I wore it just for you." The other replies, her light blue hair across her eyes, skin as blue as the others is red, and wearing a splendid blue and white cocktail dress.

"I wish this could last forever."

"You know it can't."

"How long?" "About four seconds. Are you ready?"

"Of course I'm ready."

The dancer in the dress dips the dancer in the tux one last time and looks down into her eyes...

Then throws her up into the air! "We've got you now!" the Agent Red shouts as she descends down onto a nearby table where a swarthy and sweaty man counting out a briefcase full of dollar bills! He looks up with shock at the shouting figure, and wasting no time runs over to the bar and jumps over it! A motor roars as he tears away on a motorcycle stashed behind the bar!

Agent Red lands on the table and bends it with her impact, but she's too late!

"NO! HE'S GETTING AWAY! WE PLANNED THIS FOR SO LONG!" She fumes and stomps on the table! The tablecloth singes with little flames! *foom foom!*

There's a blur and a *WHOOSH!* Agent Blue catches her and at super speed she runs after the motorcycle, dragging Red by the hand, bouncing along behind her!

--*Funky chase music!!*--

The man rides the motorcycle through the docks towards the road! Screaming party guests in formal wear part and flee out of his way as he plows through their seating, but Blue and Red are in hot pursuit!

The man starts throwing everything he can at them, he pulls bottles from the bar from sidebags and hurls them at his pursuers! BOOM! CRASH! BAM! Blue dodges every one, but her passenger looks a little frazzled:

"Whoah whoah be careful!" CRASH! Another bottle! and a "Whoah!" as he stops himself from accidentally throwing the briefcase at them!"

"I'm doing my best. We're almost in range. Are you ready?"

"Of course I'm ready."

Blue jumps into the air with Red in tow, and there's a flash of transformative light! The man sighs in relief as he can no longer see them, when a Giant figure crashes into the bike! He flies off but is caught by an armored hand, as is the bike itself!!! Holding the bike with one hand, the figure runs the bike against the ground to bring it to a stop, causing a dust cloud to form: and when the dust cloud clears, holding them both is a towering Special Agent. Dressed to the 9s in a sharp black and maroon tuxedo topped with black shades. The light of the stars and moon sparkles off of them and her expression is stoic and grim.

"This money is going back to the orphanage where you embezzled it from."

"A-a-a-and what about me?" the man, Mendoza, struggles to say, resigned after attempting to break from her grip, his limbs dangling two feet from the ground.

"What about you... I suppose could just let you go."



--*funk/soul backup singers* "All comedy is derived from fearrrr!"

Camera fade out as the man's face sinks with despair--

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Meioh [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

The garnet-topped silvery baton linked to Lieutenant Meioh's belt shimmers the moment before the hydra erupts from beneath the ceremony grounds, giving her the warning she needs to make a great leap away. She hopes Usagi's training holds. They really needed to start /planning/ for these inevitable interruptions. Setsuna couldn't recall the last time they'd gotten through a graduation without either a monster attack or some kind of disastrous magical wand misfire...

Mid-leap she spins and transforms, letting her dark police uniform flicker into a black-and-red sailor uniform with silvery handcuffs hanging from her belt; the baton twirls in her hands and she presses a button, extending it to staff-length with a smooth *snap* of police-issued metal. Her police cap sits atop her head, now in colors to match her outfit.

"Pluto Enforcement Power -- MAKE UP!"

The deep red gem atop her Garnet Baton shines, and Pluto's distracted by it for a moment... then shakes her head and focuses. She notes Usagi running off, still in her normal police uniform, and spares a moment to wonder how in the world she hasn't transformed yet, then decides she probably doesn't want to know.

Facing the purple beast, Sailor-Lieutenant Pluto twirls her Garnet Baton end over end and declares her intentions with the crisp snap of an issued order:


Darkly crackling energy in the shape of a storm of violet-glowing scipt, thousands of hand-written lines of thoroughly binding legalese, bursts from the Baton and races to strike the hydra, and even as she directs this attack, Pluto moves to place herself between the threat and any innocents in the area. Of all the training she's internalized, that of protection came most naturally to Sailor-Lieutentant Pluto.

Little does she know, her most recent and most trying charge has just run into one of Pluto's dearest enemies...

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Lightning crashes against the hydra's side, and that draws its attention in ways that the quip don't. Two of its fearsome, almost snakelike heads turn to hiss towards Takeo.

One, of course, is more concerned with Kasagami blocking its path towards Super Sakurada, and it lunges to bite down /harder/, all the worse if Inspector Kasagami can't push back or get out in time.

But the whirlwind Fuu conjures goes for its body above all, and its snakelike form is held... for a moment. The debris the wind whips up around it clatters against its scales, slows its ability to move away, but its size and strength are too much to be completely contained.

Pluto's magic crashes into it in the midst of that, however, shifts its bulk to the side as it instinctively recoils from that painful power.

Mai's shout doesn't get an answer from the dragon. It gets one from away, one she might not even hear, as the masked woman watches the battle, her hair flowing behind her in the breeze. "Many reasons," she answers softly, thinking of someone /else/ who didn't choose to work with the law. "But today? ...Because you're undercutting my bottom line." She watches Mikoto charge against her, and smiles.

The hydra, meanwhile, makes up its mind about Takeo's insult, and spits a line of concrete-melting acid at him, with another three heads start snapping at Officer Pluto's defensive line.

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

The powerful Hydra slams into her, and she grins to Super Sakurada. It's bitter. It's almost angry. 'How could you let this place get to this point, Sakurada-chan'. She was at the top. A true King. Someone perhaps an Aspirant like her couldn't ever reach. The glaring singular stare lasts for all but a moment!

Some things don't change. Kasagami Araki blames the established powers. That includes her 'Superiors'. Includes Super Sakurada.

And then the Hydra's head bites, and she screams. Screams as her right hand goes utterly useless. Her single eye narrows, and she lets out a single gasp.

A single leg kicks out at Super Sakurada, emboldened to try to save her life! She coughs, even as teeth slam into her body, and she offers one final raising of her nodachi!

She can't push back. But she sure can try to slam that Hydra away from her and Sakurada and the Kadets!

"Go ahead and DIE you scaley piece of trash! RAAAAAAH!

And so she gives everything into a single blow, aiming to sacrifice her body for the sake of all the magical police-girls before her!

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

Well, the Winds of Admonishment are accomplishing something ... just not enough, thinks the Wind Knight, given that the hydra is still mauling police graduates with a strong semblance of impunity. And her allies are piling on, but the hydra isn't dead, crippled, or banished yet.

"Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi!" the Wind Knight shouts; this time, the tornado she turns loose on the 'hydra' is rending rather than binding, and while she can't be sure of shredding through the hydra's armor - odds are she's had opportunities before - she isn't going to make any assumptions about success *or* failure until the attack connects, does whatever it's going to accomplish, and disperses back into the breeze.

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

Bottom lines, lawbreakers... when Officer Tokiha is on the trail of a criminal, she doesn't worry too much about the reasons. She has a duty to her badge, she has a duty to her city, she has a duty to the law - and it all states that criminals have to be stopped. Even if they're former friends...even if they're her former partner...

Rings clash against blades, and the edge isn't enough to cleave through this strange not-gold, and violet-grey meets golden eyes - they might as well be a match for feelings. "I'd love to forget about it too, just treat you like any other criminal...but I can't. There's no one else who's going to bring you in, partner!"

They break apart, and Officer Tokiha flings her arms wide to send out waves of flame and heat to encircle the two of them. An infernal embrace, cutting off escape routes - her signature move for catching a criminal. For a long moment, she watches Miko - watches Minagi leap back to gain a bit of distance, and she remembers back when they worked together....a little too long.

Miroku's power cut to the core with how much paperwork she had to file, back then. It strikes more swiftly and literally, now - her eyes go wide as obsidian spires rise up all around her. Crimson light flares in distress as much as defense, and it's enough to spare her from a killing blow...but only just. An obsidian spike piercing her defenses, pinning her in place...she can't even look at the injury, only her former partner's face.

"I guess you're right, partner - I can't rein you in when you fly off the handle, now. Guess I'm missing Takumi's entrance ceremony after all..." ...and it seems like there's an officer down.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIJlgrEhuuQ&list=PL3CRUt-GCCPPpiB0sVqNxUzbNQQkoZsn1&index=52

Suddenly Usagi Tsukino finds herself enveloped in strong arms. A little gasp escapes her throat as she looks up, just missing the hand that was crooked up to clock her upside the jaw. She looks up into his lovely eyes. It takes a few moments for her to register who she's with. Her entire face instantly becomes red. "Haruka-san-" She sounds a little breathless, and it's not from the run. She told him never to call her Odango time after time, but the fact of the matter is she didn't mind too much.

He presents his need. She has no cause to disbelieve him. She trusted Haruka Tenoh. She always has. And the fact of the matter is, against that mechanical dragon, and Minagi- she knew her powers as a magical girl wouldn't be /that/ effective. Her first priority was protecting people

And he looked incredible, even sweaty and dishevelled. In fact, moreso. And- Usagi actually knocks her fist once lightly to her forehead at those thoughts. It quickly changes into a salute. "This Pretty Police Officer of Love and Justice- is always ready to serve and protect the incredibly handsome-" She swallows, "I-I mean the public- just follow me!"

She begins to run in the opposite direction, feet pounding concrete in a frantic rhythm, towards the police lot beside the station, not suspecting the purloined files from her own Lieutenant's desk. As she runs, she makes a- strategic decision, just after she vaults over the concrete barrier into the side of it. Her hand fishes something out of her pocket as she runs, flings the jingling keys his way for him to catch, "You'd better drive! I'm- mmm- pretty new at it! You still have your license right?"

This was actually her third requisitioned motorcycle. It's not far down the cadet's side of the lot when they arrive at a sporty interceptor with cute bunny and crescent moon decals. These are non-standard. It is decidedly- pink. That modification was standard. Taking off her hat, she puts on a helmet instead, with even more stickers on it, glittery pink, her twintails sticking out the back as she climbs on near the back of the seat. "It's against regulations to ride without a helmet." Or for a non-officer to drive for that matter, "...but- the Lieutenant will make an exception!"

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

The line of corrosive acid barrels toward him, but Takeo slashes those bright white blades at the acid. Lighting erupts from the blades and explode through the acid itself, dispersing the acid so that it splatters around Takeo but doesn't hit him. Small droplets splatter his uniform and armor and sizzle and he hisses slightly when one splashes on his cheek, but remains where he is. The bright white blades unaffected by the monster's assault.

He rushes forward twirling the twin blades but then he sees Mai get pinned by the obsidian pillar and he slides. "Mai..." His eyes narrow and he he changes direction and screams "MAI-CHAN!" And leaps up and over the flames toward Mikoto, Arondight's white blades flash with deadly piercing lighting arcing in every direction. Even his eyes are now flashing with lighting. "MIKOTO!" He cries, as he brings the blades crashing down with the roar of thunder toward Mikoto. "GET AWAY FROM HER TRAITOR!"

He lands in a crouch. That lighting playing over his arms and blades and dripping, actual lightning dripping from his eyes. He stands up and points one of the blades at Mikoto. "You. She loved you. She thought the world of you, risked her career, her life, her well being for you, and THIS is how you repay her." He growls, and rolls a shoulder. "Let me show you how /I/ would have handled it you little brat."

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

They'd love to forget, both of them, and go on with their lives, but each of them have left too big a mark on the other. Mai's flames line ring around them, boxing them in, and Miroku pauses at the edge of them - knowing, as Mikoto knows, the stength of that fire. "I played by their rules, and they threw me away! Didn't go in then, I won't now!"

Mikoto's voice reaches a screaming pitch. "I must find my Lord Brother! Tokiha, you're in the way!" She has to find him, not you, not you, Mai Tokiha, not the way you always looked out for her, not the way you always did all that paperwork -

Mikoto's boiling, conflicting feelings pierce through Mai's defenses, and Mikoto stares Mai in the eyes, her breath catching in her throat. Shock crosses over her face. "No," she whispers, because it was never meant to be this way, she should have fought, she should have - Mikoto falls to her knees, Miroku loosely in her hands. It is her Child who moves her away from the screaming accusations of Takeo, leaping to Mai's defense, before Mikoto even looks up. When she does, her bangs cover her sad, golden eyes. "I..."

But his sword is raised, his voice is raised. Mikoto staggers to her feet, grasps Miroku in her hands. "You are all my enemies," she growls, her voice low. Louder, now, as obsidian explodes from the earth towards him: "YOU ARE ALL MY ENEMIES!"

<Pose Tracker> Haruka Tenoh [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> All of the Lights - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAfFfqiYLp0

"You've been an officer for just a few minutes, and already you're so decisive," Haruka admires, cupping one of Usagi's hands in both of his. It's supposed to pass for gratitude, but you know, he's a /lot/ taller, and his eyes are really blue. "All right. Take good care of me... Officer."

Haruka clears the concrete barrier with picture-perfect, effortless form even in his slacks and dress shoes, and then he's beside Usagi again, windswept and blonde and handsome as a December paycheck. He catches the keys and slings them around to pinch the bike key in one motion, mounting the motorbike with long-legged grace and punching her heel into the pedals like an equestrian with stirrups. His leanly muscled waist is physically easier for Usagi to hug than his height might suggest, and every bit as emotionally easy as his boyish beauty promised. As he lets the engine fire, he's very much a scuffed and sweaty prince.

The ride is everything a girl could imagine--everything except long. In just seconds, Haruka brings the bike to a stop, a thick forest of concertina wire blocking his path. Glancing over his shoulder, he sees the alternate routes being sealed as well. Of course the place was being locked down. That Hydra wasn't as helpful as he'd thought.

"Officer Miki reporting," crackles the police-band radio on the motorcycle. "Sergeant Tomoe--she's down in, in Lieutenant Meioh's office? Requesting medic--"

Haruka flicks off the radio with his thumb, and for a few seconds, he lets the motorcycle engine idle, its periodic sputter the closest to emotion Usagi can feel from him. "You know, in the next couple days, you're going to learn a lot about me. I'm not sure we're going to get to talk again like this." A police cruiser screeches to a halt, its sirens squawking as they shut off, the red and blue lights still flashing as it disgorges its payload of officers. These ones weren't sent after Haruka. But some of the next ones will be.

"I don't have a lot of time." Turning around, Haruka favors Usagi with a rueful smile. He has such a clean face--never any stubble. "I just wanted to let you know... you really are cute, Odango." He places a hand on her head fondly. "I wouldn't lie about that part. Not ever."

Dismounting with a wide swing of his leg, Haruka drags Usagi off the bike with an arm around her chest, and when her feet catch ground, he lets it tighten around her neck instead. Out of his jacket comes Mami Tomoe's service revolver, its chamber spinning and then locking into place as he plants the barrel against Usagi's temple. "Sorry about this," he says with a smile. "You did say you'd get me out of here, though." He keeps Usagi's back tight against him as he steps backwards carefully. His tie is draped over her shoulder. As they close in, Haruka raises his voice to the officers pointing their staves and wands and guns. "Clear a path! I WILL shoot her!"

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Meioh [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Undaunted by the hydra's resilience, Sailor-Lieutenant Pluto stands ready to attack again -- that is, until three wickedly-jawed hydra heads snap her way, hungry for magical police-girl flesh. She's forced to flip away, and even then one of them gets a glancing blow in at her leg and her flip becomes a barely-controlled tumble. Pluto skids up against the far wall and plants the Garnet Baton before her, pulling herself up...

Her vision skates through the Garnet Orb and clocks cascade through her vision, all in red. She hears a distant roar, dizzies.

Shakes her head again to clear it. She can't lose focus now; people need her.

Chaos rules the battlefield, and a somewhat more seasoned Pluto catalogues the mistakes of the newly-graduated officers for later feedback and training, even as she rallies to rejoin them in the fight.

Wait. Where is Usagi?

Pluto casts about for a telltale splash of vivid pink. Nowhere in the graduation hall, not the adjoining offices-- wait. There, out front, through the now-shattered plate glass windows, she spots Officer Tsukino on a signature bubblegum-colored motorcycle with...


She knows what Haruka must have come for, sees the file tucked under his arm, and the realization sends a spike of ice through her core. Now her former friends threaten not just Hotaru, but Usagi as well, and Pluto feels a wrenching lurch. She cannot fail to protect them, even against -- especially against -- Haruka and Michiru.

Haruka aims leaden menace at Usagi's temple. The roar comes back, feeling like a heart attack combined with the emotional pain of her lapsed guardianship.

Setsuna's vision doubles, and then her entire sense of /reality/ doubles. She grips tightly to the Garnet Baton's unmarked surface and imagines she feels the erratic, angular teeth of a great key.

Mystical instinct drives her limbs; she swings the Baton up in a great arc and brings the Orb atop it level with her head to direct her matching garnet eyes through it. Reality snaps into focus, and Pluto can see the false lines of this strange, alternate reality, clear and cartoonish now to her sight.

The danger is all too real. She must show them.

The Garnet Orb rotates in a lazy arc above her head, casting crimson light across the battlefield and throwing the combatants into sharp relief against that illumination. It washes over everything and tingles as it passes, a sensation that is more magical than physical, reaching every hidden corner and briefly transfixing all it touches, painting everything red.

Pluto's voice echoes, clear and low and effortless, carried by the crimson light. "We stand together at a crossroads in time! This is only a vision, of the future that could be! Wake up, and take back your own future!"

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

Super Sakurada Tokyo fades as though just a bizarre dream, the memories of each individual four-year journey becoming ephemeral, incomplete and strange in precisely that kind of way -- though dim shadows of those experiences there, lurking in the subconscious, may create future nightmares in days to come.

Searrs Symphony Hall comes flooding back in stark, chiaroscuro, relief -- that white light emanating from the Key leaves no room for shades of gray, much less color. Every shadow it casts is black as pitch.

The room is applauding the apparent pyrotechnics show, and Natsuna Sakurada, happily playing along, takes a bow. She starts walking across the stage to Tanaka Suzushiro, the appointed recipient of the Key to the City, but it seems plans are changing; her head tilts like she's receiving something in her earpiece, and then she nods, still smiling. "Sounds like Suzushiro-san is getting an upgrade, an introduction from higher powers than little old me!" quips Natsuna cheerfully. "Yes, gentlemen, that's no problem at all..."

She's being surrounded by, disappearing behind, men, hearty men, men in suits. Men whose faces are impossible to see through those all-encompassing shadows.

And, all at once, their hands reach out to seize the Key to the City...